Monday, May 22, 2023


The Story of O

Gian Biagio Conte, Virgilian Parerga: Textual Criticism and Stylistic Analysis (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2021), p. 100:
I fail to understand Lachmann's disavowal of his own method in a passage where he disregards the norms he himself had laboriously put in place. Let us have a look at the passage in question.¹¹ Konrad Müller, Edward J. Kenney, and Marcus Deufert have rightly rejected the vulgate at Lucr. 3.1-3, as I am sure that David Butterfield, the future OCT editor, will also do:
e tenebris tantis tam clarum extollere lumen
qui primus potuisti inlustrans commoda uitae
te sequor, o Graie gentis decus …
Though attested in a single humanistic manuscript [Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. lat. mon. 816a, the so-called Codex Victorianus], the reading e tenebris has illegitimately entered the text. The Oblongus and the schedae Vindobonenses have the vocative particle o instead. The first letter is missing in the other main Lucretian manuscript, the Quadratus, because the scribe left an empty space for the rubricator. Given that the Quadratus and the schedae derive from the archetype via a common subarchetype, the agreement of one of these manuscripts with the Oblongus must be viewed as the reading of the archetype — in this case, o tenebris. Thus does Lachmann teach. It is therefore surprising that Lachmann claims that the reading of the archetype, which can be established through the method that he himself contributed to establish in his edition of Lucretius (1850), is to be rejected: "O [valde] ineptum est".¹² Before Timpanaro provided definitive arguments to restore the correct reading,¹³ only Gilbert Wakefield (1796) got rid of the humanistic conjecture e and printed o tenebris tantis.

¹¹ I have already discussed the passage in Conte (2013) 82–84.

¹² [O is unfit]. However, if the archetype is already corrupt, it must be emended. This is the reasoning behind Lachmann's approval of E (an inappropriate intrusion).

¹³ Timpanaro (1960) 147–149 [= Timpanaro (1978): 135–139].
See also M.L. Clarke, "Lucretius 3.1-3," Classical Quarterly 27.2 (1977) 354-355.

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