Wednesday, February 22, 2006


An Emendation

I sometimes quote statements in this web log that I disagree with, in whole or in part. I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression from the B.L. Ullman quotation in my post on Richard Bentley that I'm a foe of conjectural emendation. Bentley, Housman, and Shackleton Bailey are my heroes. A hundred years from now, if by that time anyone still reads Latin, the only thing I'll be remembered for is an emendation in the text of Plautus, Stichus 617, published in the American Journal of Philology 98 (1977) 355. Here it is.

Epignomus and his brother Pamphilippus are teasing the parasite Gelasimus by raising his hopes of a dinner and then dashing them:

EP. posse edepol tibi opinor etiam uni locum condi
ubi accubes. PAM. sane faciundum censeo. GE. o lux oppidi!
EP. si arte poeris accubare. GE. uel inter cuneos ferreos;
tantillum loculi ubi catellus cubet, id mi sat e rest loci.
EP. exorabo aliquo modo. ueni. GE. hucine? EP. immo in carcerem (617-621)
617 condi A, conspicor P
. .
Goetz's proposal to fill the gap in the Ambrosian palimpsest with bonum has met with two criticisms, one just, the other not. First, Schoell noted that a longer word is needed to fill the space; p<ropemod>um, he thought, would fit nicely. Leo in his critical apparatus remarked that two other possibilities, probum and breuem, were unsatisfactory for the same reason. The latest editor of the Stichus, H. Petersmann, conjectured p<aruol>um, which is of sufficient length.

The second criticism of Goetz's proposal was made by Ussing, who in his commentary objected that bonitas loci non requiritur. On the contrary, an ironic reference to the bonitas loci is precisely what is needed to preserve the humor of the passage: the fault with Petersmann's p<aruol>um is that it takes the sting from Epignomus' si arte poteris accubare (619). I would suggest p<erbon>um, which meets the requirements of both length and context. Cf. Plaut. Most. 673 non in loco emit perbono and Cic. Att. 6.1.3 perbono loco res erat.

Of the six other passages where Plautus uses the adjective perbonus (Merc. 526, Most. 692 and 764) or the adjective perbene (Aul. 186, Men. 1141, and Rud. 164), two involve dining: prandi perbene (Men. 1141) and prandium uxor mihi perbonum dedit (Most. 692).

Stichus 617 is a trochaic septenarius. It should be noted that, if the conjecture p<erbon>um is adopted, the -cum of locum before condi must be shortened in accordance with the law of breuis breuians.

It's infra dig to translate in a scholarly article, but not in a web log. Here's a translation of the Plautine passage with my emendation, adapted from Henry Thomas Riley:

EP. By my faith, I think a very good spot can be found just for you alone, where you may recline.
PAM. Really, I do think it may be managed.
GE. O light of the city!
EP. If you can manage to recline in a small compass.
GE. Aye, even between two wedges of iron. As little space as a puppy can lie in, the same will be enough for me.
EP. I'll beg for it some way or other; come along. (Pulls him along.)
GE. What? This way?
EP. Yes, to prison.

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