Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Scholia Aristophanica

William G. Rutherford (1853-1907), A Chapter in the History of Annotation: Being the Scholia Aristophanica, Vol. III (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1905), pp. 387-388:
There are many allusions in the plays which even the earliest of commentators could only annotate by guesses, and as century followed century the number of obscurities augmented. The old learning would seem to have been inaccessible at first hand to the men who compiled the marginal commentaries; and if it had been accessible, it is doubtful if they could have appreciated it at its proper value or used it to any good purpose. It is clear that as represented in the hypomnemata, mostly anonymous, and in the lexica and other books consulted by them, that learning had assumed a most corrupt and fragmentary form. But with this vast subject it is impossible to deal in a sketch of the methods of scholiasts such as this is. There is no presumption, however, in recording the opinion that in ἱστοριῶν ἀπόδοσις the scholiasts to Aristophanes are so rarely to be trusted that everything they provide of substantial interpretative value might be packed into a score or two of pages. On the other side of the account have to be set an encumbering mass of falsehoods and misleading statements due to the improvisation or the charlatanry or the guileless ignorance of scholiasts, and a great deal of nonsense and nastiness generated from silly and undisciplined minds. There is no reason why rubbish should be treated as erudition merely because it is preserved in a brown Greek manuscript, and rubbish undoubtedly the bulk of ἱστοριῶν ἀπόδοσις is that appears in the scholia. If judged without prejudice it is just the sort of thing that the spirit of comedy exists to make fun of.

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