The Athetized Lines of the Iliad

The Athetized Lines of the Iliad

The Athetized Lines of the Iliad

The Athetized Lines of the Iliad


Friends have requested that I prefix to my work a succinct statement of what I believe has been established in regard to the tradition of the lines of the Iliad. I shall comply with their wishes, after pointing out that need for brevity will force the omission of minor qualifications that can be found in the body of my work.I mention the following points:

There is a single source--I call it II--for the whole tradition. It was an Athenian text not earlier than the sixth century.

A marked change in the continuants of this text takes place about 150 B.C.

Papyri of an earlier date, the so-called Ptolemaic papyri, contain a text notably different from our printed texts of 15693 lines that Wolf drew from the medieval manuscripts known to him, with the addition of a few lines known only from quotations. The text of the Ptolemaic papyri is regularly a longer text; occasionally it may seem esthetically 'better', but there is never reason to regard it as a more faithful reproduction of II. As no two of these papyri overlap, the question of agreement among them remains open; but the probability is greatly in favor of Gerhard's opinion that they were 'menhere der allgemeinen Tendenz nach verwandte, abet in der Einzelausführung versehiedene, erweiterte Texte'.

Grenfell and Hunt, who first observed the above-mentioned change, were content to say that in contrast to the Ptolemaic papyri those of later date were iii 'substantial' agreement with our printed texts. I have reached a more definite conclusion by observing a correlation between the lines of these later papyri and those found in the medieval manuscripts--a correlation so close that the lines of any papyrus of this type can be predicted within a very small margin of possible error.

These later papyri are almost identical in their lines. They contain a text --I call it the Alpha Text--of some 15,600 lines which they reproduce without change except that very occasionally one or the other of them (more frequently one of later date) interpolates here or there a line. Each of the medieval manuscripts contains the Alpha Text, and in one or another of them appear also most of the few interpolations made in the later papyrus period along with some others. But, while the Alpha Text is found in all the medieval manuscripts, the interpolations--bar a few examples of superfluous speech formulae--are confined to only a portion of the manuscripts.

The lines of the Alpha Text and those of Aristarchus are identical. The Alpha Text contains every line that is attested for Aristarchus either by the citation of his reading or by the statement that he prefixed an obelus or other mark to it. We happen to know of about a dozen lines that were not in his text, and not one of them is contained in the Alpha Text.

This combination of lines cannot be shown to have existed before Aristarchus. Ludwich's careful collection of earlier quotations fails to prove the contrary.

The conservatism of Zenodotus' work. The modern protagonist of this view is Eduard Schwartz, who was followed by Finsler and by Weeklein. Its correctness, as Pasquali says, becomes clearer from day to day.

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