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Archaic forms in the archetype

It is more important to determine another feature of the archetype, namely its retention of archaic words and forms. We may safely infer on a priori grounds that a great number of archaisms existed in the archetype which have been modernised in all the copies, without leaving a trace of the older form, and that in the archetype itself a number of archaisms had disappeared which existed in its own original.1 It is as a rule at the beginning of his task that a copyist most faithfully reproduces what is before him; and when we find in the Bacchides in B such archaic forms as “istoc43, “vostrast50, “opticuisti62, “ecferri95, “quoi126, “vacivom154, “fuam156, “quoiquam225, “med357 (cf. 61), “disrumpit441, “credaas476, “ipsus478, “equm488, “surrupiam507, “semul576, “quoi617, “immersti677, “possiem762, “hasce787, “pacisce871, “ecfertur1058, we may conclude that we get in this opening play of the direct copy of the archetype a glimpse at the forms actually found in that archetype in other plays as well as the Bacchides. For every one instance of an archaism preserved by a lucky chance in the copies, e.g. Men. 942ted esse” (te deesse B1) (cf. Asin. 299), we may be sure that there was a score of instances in the original. Sometimes the modernising process would be facilitated by the fact that the word in the archetype had a gloss written above it or in the margin, as in Capt. 380 rebitas ([ve]l redeas B).

But usually the archaic form would be changed by the copyist himself without any guidance from his original. Corruptions like perditum sit (BD; perditum fit C) for perditum se it, Truc. 559, show us that the copyists were in the habit of writing i for an ei of the original, and that in addition to the cases where a trace of the older spelling has been preserved (e.g. Mil. 1085 abeis B, abis CD), there must have been a large number of cases where all trace has disappeared. The change of the future to the present of dico in Pseud. 1323 (deices B, dicis CD) suggests the same of the archaic spelling e for i (cf. Mil. 1141, 1161 facite for facete; Mil. 1206 sinite for sine te). The consideration of lines like

shows us how wrong it is to infer from the agreement of our MSS. that the archetype had, e.g., illo for illoc in Poen. 1061, illic for illi in Pseud. 758, istic for isti in Pers. 405, etc. etc. On the contrary, when we compare the number of archaic forms preserved in B with the scantier number preserved in CD, we are forced to conclude that the number of archaisms in the archetype must have considerably exceeded the number preserved or indicated by the copies.

In how many instances b and v, d and t were interchanged by the copyists we can only guess from relics of the archetype's spelling like curavit for curabit Amph. 487, ludificavit for ludificabit Amph. 1041, quidve for qui tuae Truc. 355, where the scribes' misapprehension has saved them from change.

That xs of the archetype was tacitly changed to x we see from Truc. 530 exuri for ex Suria. For coenam faciam (Merc. 578) the archetype had oenum factam; and this oe was corrected by the copyists to u (unum factam C, unum factum B, unam factam D), a correction doubtless made in many other lines where all means of detecting the older spelling are lost (cf. Truc. 103 oenus B, unus CD; and with o for oe Truc. 310 rem cogi for rem coegit, moniendis for moeniendis).

1 The change of isti to istic in Most. 721a seems to have been made in the original of the minuscule archetype; for the words jam istic ero were not rightly divided in that archetype.

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