Saturday, April 02, 2016


Babble from the Padded Cell

Dear Mike,

I've just finished and learnt a great deal from Richard Tarrant's Texts, Editors, and Readers: Methods and Problems in Latin Textual Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 2016). It ends on an elegiac note: "The age of heroes has passed and is not likely to return, but there remains something touchingly heroic about the enterprise: doomed, yet noble in its striving" (p. 156). It's certainly great fun to see the heroes clash, e.g. E.J. Kenney on the expansive apparatus (Lenz's edition of Ovid's Ibis): "the apparatus sprawls over two-thirds and more of most pages, recording with idiot zeal and impartiality the aberrations of ... witnesses of widely varying age and credibility"; (Flores's edition of Lucretius) "is also encumbered with what Housman called the lees of the renascence, variants – sometimes unmetrical ...– of no critical significance which belong, if anywhere, to repertories of scribal delinquency (what George Goold called babble from the padded cell)" (p. 132).

Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]

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