Wednesday, September 21, 2022


Maybe, Maybe Not

Richard Tarrant, Texts, Editors, and Readers: Methods and Problems in Latin Textual Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 145:
E.R. Dodds: 'Our editions of Greek and Latin authors are good enough to live with'; D.R. Shackleton Bailey: 'Maybe, maybe not; it all depends on one's standard of living'.1

1 Probably apocryphal, based on Shackleton Bailey's remark that 'when E. R. Dodds pronounced that our editions are good enough to live with, he cannot have been thinking of G. Lehnert's Teubner edition (1905) of the longer declamations falsely attributed to Quintilian' (1976a, 73).
Thanks very much to Christopher Brown for the following remarks:
[Tarrant] suggests that he concocted the exchange from a comment made by SB in his review of Hankason published in 1976. Great and prolific scholars often repeat themselves, and it is interesting to note that in a paper from 1975 SB writes, "Professor Dodds of Oxford, himself a highly accomplished textual critic, once opined that our (classical) texts are good enough to live with. I suppose that depends in the first place on one's standard of living" ("Editing Ancient Texts," in H.H. Paper [ed.], Language and Texts: the Nature of Linguistic Evidence [Ann Arbor 1975] 21-32 = Selected Classical Papers [Ann Arbor 1997] 324-335, at 329). That's clearly the source of the 'standard of living' language. I believe that the occasion of Dodds' opining was his inaugural lecture at Oxford, "Humanism and Technique in Greek Studies," which ruffled the feathers of a number of colleagues. Dodds tells the story (along with Bowra’s tart reaction to the lecture) in his autobiography, Missing Persons (Oxford 1977) 127.

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