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Insertion of a gloss

The sense of the text was in MSS. often elucidated by writing an explanatory word, called a gloss,1 over the word of the text which required explanation, or occasionally in the side margin. When an omission in the text had to be corrected the same course was taken. The supplied word was written over the word before which it had to be inserted. It might also be written in the margin, in which case a couple of dots were generally put at the place in the text where the insertion was to be made. Small wonder then that a copyist was often at a loss to know whether an interlinear or marginal jotting should be treated as an explanation or as a supplement. There was still a third possibility, that it might be a correction designed to take the place of something wrongly written in the text; for although the practice of careful scribes in this case was to place dots2 under the wrongly written word, syllable, or letter, this precaution was often omitted. A good example of the two wrong treatments of a gloss is found in Cas. 517. The line should read: “cúr amem me cástigare, id pónito ad compéndium.” “why do I like punishing myself? Well, we may dispense with the explanation.” In P the words cur amem me were wrongly written curam eme, and this phrase was in the original of BVEJ explained by the suprascript gloss curam exime. The scribe of the original of VEJ mistook the gloss for a supplement, and wrote curam eme curam exime castigare etc.; the scribe of B mistook it for a correction, and wrote curam exime castigare etc.

A gloss may have been wrongly inserted from the margin in

nam míhi haec meretrix quae híc habet, Phronésium,
suum nómen omne ex péctore exmovít meo.

These lines are in the minuscule MSS. followed by an unmetrical line which most editors regard as a marginal gloss of the original: “Phronesium, nam phronesis est sapientia.

Epid. 382 sqq. seems to be a very similar passage: “non óris causa módo homines aequóm fuit
sibi habére speculum, ubi ós contemplarént suom,
sed quí perspicere póssent cordis cópiam,
” where the minuscule MSS. insert between possent and cordis copiam the words cor sapientiae (a corruption of cor sapientia est; see ch. vii. § 5), igitur perspicere ut possint.

1 Glossa (Gk. γλῶσσα), sometimes glosa, properly meant “a difficult word” (cf. glossema), but is often used to mean “the explanation of a difficult word.”

2 Hence our word “expunge.”

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