- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 4 edition (February 28, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199686335
- ISBN-13: 978-0199686339
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 5.4 inches
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- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature 4th Edition
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"For the third edition the authors have not only brought the bibliographical notes up to date but also made extensive amendments and additions, both small and large, throughout the text."
--James Diggle, Queens' College, Cambridge, The Classical Review 12/05/1993
"This is a very fine book indeed. The text is written with admirable lucidity, wit and charm. The book itself is a clearly printed and stout paperback, well worth the reommended retail price of $44.95, and of course, as befits a volume produced by the Oxford University Press on this topic
above all, the text is flawless. Clearly I would recommend Scribes and Scholars as a valuable acquisition for a school library which could be consulted with profit by senior students ... this book, with its overwhelming proof of the centrality of Classics in the western tradition, is essential
--M. Dyson, University of Queensland, Ancient History, 1992, No. 2 01/10/1993
"This enlarged version remains a valuable resource for both graduate student and scholar.Scribes and Scholars is a book which has done much good and will continue to do so."
--E. Christian Kopff, University of Colorado, Classical Bulletin (1992) 15/11/1993
"The third edition of this superb work has been carefully revised to reflect advances in classical scholarship since publication of the previous edition. The work is indispensable for classical students who have not read the previous edition, and recommended for those who want recent
information on an essential subject."
--Gerald O'Sullivan, Stockton State College, Classical World 17/12/1993
About the Author
The Late L. D. Reynolds (d. 1999) was a Fellow and Tutor at Brasenose College, Oxford. He has editrd Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics and is responsible for the Oxford Classical Texts of Seneca (Letters and Dialogues), Sallust, and Cicero (De finibus).
N. G. Wilson is Emeritus Fellow and Tutor of Lincoln College, Oxford. With D. A. Russell, he provided an editon of Menander Rhetor with accompanying translation and commentary. He has contributed to the Oxford Classical Text series Sophocles (in collaboration with Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones), Aristophanea (2007), and the forthcoming Herodotus.
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Top Customer Reviews
The study is exhaustive, but Reynolds has a way with words and I didn't find it a slog to get through, except for the textual criticism parts, which Reynolds does have the good grace to warn the reader off of. One of the book's best features is detailed up-to-date bibliography (in the chapter notes). I recommend this book to classicists, medievalists, students of the Renaissance, and bibliophiles and library enthusiasts.
The following is a list of all the chapters and some of the contents to be found therein (not exhaustive):
In Greece it not was not until the middle of the 5th century BC that book trade can be said to have existed; before the 5th century BC in Greece, oral literature was often used and books were very much rare, with only perhaps some writings of Ionian philosophers or sophists floating around in very few amounts; not much can be said of how books actually were in Classical Greece so much of how is imagined those books were is based on extrapolations of Hellenistic material: the form of the book was a roll with writing in a series of columns on one side of the page, the reader would gradually unroll the text and when done would have to rewind, some rolls were many meters long; because the roll sheet itself was not made of strong material tearing and other issues could easily occur so it is not difficult to see why an ancient reader who faced the need to check a quote or reference would have relied more on memory than having to unroll the long and delicate text frequently - "This would certainly account for the fact that when one ancient author quotes another there is so often a substantial difference between the two versions." (2-3); the standard writing material was papyrus (Pliny is cited on how to make this) and only very sources for this were available to supply this (almost a monopoly) and in emergencies some used leather from sheep or oat skins (Herodotus' remark) and later on parchment (vellum) was made from animal skins and used to make books in the Christian era; ancient texts are much harder to read and interpret than modern ones because words were not divided until the medieval period, thus, many corruptions found in later copies of texts stem from this early period; by the end of the 5th century BC some people had private libraries; massive libraries like one in Museum in Alexandria; some notations and textual criticism used in clarifying and standardizing/recovering texts, Homer's texts usually, by Alexandrians; Latin texts did not begin until the 3rd century BC; textual criticism of Latin works; first public library in Rome established in Pollio in 39 BC; Cicero and, his publisher friend, Atticus publishing relationship: "From the exchange letters between Cicero and Atticus can get a good idea of the casual and fluid nature of publication in the ancient world There was no copyright or royalty (hence the importance of literary patronage) and private circulation could easily pass by degrees into full-scale publication.; an author was able to incorporate changes into a text he had already published by asking his friends to alter their copies, but other copies would remain unaltered. Cicero drastically reshaped his 'Academica' when Atticus was in the process of having copies made and consoled him for the effort wasted with the promise of a superior version. But copies of the first draft were in existence; both 'editions' survived, and we have a more substantial part of the first than of the second." (24-25); libraries and texts were popular in Roman society and education; the history of Latin texts in antiquity is so incredibly scrappy that it is hard to interpret with confidence what kind of texts people normally would have encountered (26-27); some cases of early textual criticism of Latin texts; the importance of commentaries and handbooks in the transmission of texts through the Middle Ages; from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD the codex (which is pretty much the modern book) gradually replaced the use of rolls and codices themselves included papyrus or parchment pages; "The advantages of the codex over the roll were many: it was handier, more capacious, easier to consult, and it may have cost rather less to produce. Reference was made still easier by numbering the pages, and the addition of a list of contents guarded against forged interpolations and other interference with the text. These were important considerations in the days when much of life revolved around the authoritative texts of the Scriptures and the Code. The importance of the codex for religion and law is obvious." (35); some of the earliest books are from parchment codices from the 4th century AD; Christians sanctioned pagan literature in order to preserve secular learning since it carried much value for education; "When book production passed into the hands of the Church, the scriptoria attached to monasteries and cathedrals replaced such private enterprise with their own system for supervising the writing and revising manuscripts" (41); subscriptions on survival of texts
2. The Greek East
"In the early centuries of the Roman Empire, intellectual life in Greece and Hellenized provinces of the Eastern Mediterranean was in a state of decline. Despite the existence of institutions of higher education such as the schools of philosophy and oratory at Athens, Rhodes, and elsewhere, there were few outstanding achievements in literature or scholarship. The Museum at Alexandria still existed..." (44); Christians valued classical literature highly, but many classics did not survive simply because some classics were not interesting enough to make more copies out of them; numerous Church fathers fused Greek and Christian thought in their writings; "Early church fathers of the highest authority were content that Christians should read some pagan texts during their education." & "The outlook of the fathers of the fourth century was no less liberal. (49); under Christians, there was no general attempt to alter school curriculum by banishing classical authors; "The major classical texts, which had a firm position in the curriculum, were read by believer and unbeliever alike; but the survival of other texts was immediately put in danger when the new religion became universal, since the mass of the public, after completion of their education, had no further interest in reading pagan books." (50); the idea that the Church burnt pagan books and had censorship in place is not supported by the evidence at all because the main types of books that have been burned and censored have been heretical Christian writings, not pagan writings; Greek texts (including philosophical, scientific, medical writings) began to be translated into Syriac in the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire and later on into Arabic; the first real achievements of Byzantine scholarship were in the middle of the 9th century AD when learning was increased and revived; in 751 AD some Arabs had taken Chinese prisoners where they learned about making paper and as time went by paper was used more frequently; Photius and Archbishop Arethas are used as examples of what texts were read, what stuff was learned in their time, and some details like on how expensive it was to commission a copy of a text - "Book collecting was not a hobby for men of modest means." (65); churchmen were often pushers for learning and scholarship which included Christian and Pagan texts; some examples of excellent Byzantine scholarship are given; by the late 13th century to the early 14th century Byzantine scholarship was still doing well and this time period is sometimes called the 'Paleologan Renaissance' because Classical texts enjoyed wide popularity and scientific works had a lot of attention; "The chief merit of the Byzantines was that they took an interest in a wide range of classical texts and thus preserved them until scholars from another nation were in a position to use and appreciate them. The tradition of scholarship was taken up by the Italian Humanists, who resembled their Byzantine colleagues in many ways. A vast number of manuscripts were brought back from the Byzantine empire in the last century of its history, and the collectors were active long after, so that today the libraries of the Greek East are virtually denuded of classical texts. This process was undoubtedly necessary to ensure the survival of Greek literature." (79)
3. The Latin West
The Roman Empire collapsed in the West in the 6th century AD through many conquests from various outsiders however there were a few notable figures in the transition period between the ancient and medieval world like Boethius and Isidore of Seville; "The ravages of conquest and barbarism made the prospects for cultural life extremely bleak, and within the narrowing world of culture the place allotted to classical Latin literature was insecure. Education and the care of books were rapidly passing into the hands of the Church, and the Christians of this period had little time for pagan literature. Decimated by the continual destruction of war, faced by hostility or neglect at the hands of the new intellectuals, the Latin classics seemed to have a slim chance of survival. But the fundamental condition for their survival obtained: there were still books. We do not know how much survived of the twenty-eight public libraries of which Rome could boast in the fourth century; but there were remnants at least of the great private libraries of the age of Symmachi, there were important collections in such ecclesiastical centers as Rome and Ravenna and Verona, and books were beginning to find a refuge in the monasteries." (80-81); as late as the 6th century AD it was still possible to obtain copies of most Latin authors; "The bulk of Latin literature was still extant; moreover, the machinery for its transmission to later ages was already being set up in the shape of the monastic library and scriptorium. It was the monastic centers that were destined, often in spite of themselves, to play the major part in both preserving and transmitting what remained of pagan antiquity; a more slender, but at times vital, line of decent can be traced through the schools and libraries which became associated with the great cathedrals." (82-83); Isidore of Seville's significant influence in education; roughly from 550 - 750 AD there was very little copying of the classics in this region [dubbed as a Dark Age]; "The fate that often overtook the handsome books of antiquity is dismally illustrated by the surviving palimpsests - manuscripts in which the original texts have been washed off to make way for works which at the time were in greater demand." & "The peak period for this operation was the seventh and early eighth centuries, and although palimpsests survive from many centers, the bulk of them have come from the Irish foundations of Luxeuil and Bobbio. Texts perished, not because pagan authors were attack, but because no one was interested in reading them, and parchment was too precious to carry an obsolete text; Christian works, heretical or superfluous, also went to the wall, while the ancient grammarians, of particular interest to the Irish, often have the upper hand. But the toll of classical authors was very heavy: [list of some Latin authors palimpsested]." (86-87); the spread of missionaries added to the construction of monasteries and thus the need for more copies of useful educational texts and references in the 8th century; the "Carolingian Revival" was a critical time in the transmission of texts - "The classical revival of the late eighth and early ninth centuries, without doubt the most momentous and critical stage in the transmission of the legacy of Rome, was played out against the background of a reconstituted empire which stretched from Elbe to the Ebro, from Calais to Rome, welded together for a time into a political and spiritual whole by the commanding personality of an emperor who added to his military and material resources the blessing of Rome. Although the political achievement of Charlemagne (768-814) crumbled in the hands of his successors, the cultural movement which it fostered retained its impetus in the ninth century and survived into the tenth." (93); since the Church was the repository of both the Christian and the Classical heritage of an earlier age, it was the main source for implementing educational programs to train people for secular and ecclesiastical administrations to run the vast empire and Charlemagne felt a strong responsibility to raise the intellectual levels of the clergy; "The Carolingian educational program waned before it could become widely established, but the setting up by imperial edict of schools attached to both the monasteries and the cathedrals guaranteed that a basic standard of literacy would be maintained at least here and there in the Europe of the future, to blossom into something greater when circumstances were favorable." (94); "An important result of a rapidly developing and highly organized educational program, spreading from the court to the monasteries and cathedrals, was the need for books; these were produced in an unprecedented scale, in a flurry of activity which salvaged for us the greater part of Latin literature." (95); list of some Latin authors whose works were in the Carolingian libraries; "Book are naturally attracted to centers of power and influence, like wealth and works of art and all that goes with a prosperous cultural life. Some arrive as the perquisites of conquest, or as the gifts that pour in unasked when the powerful have made their wishes plain, some in response to the magnetic pull of an active and dynamic cultural movement. Others were actively sought out by those promoting the educational and cultural aims of the revival. There was such a break in the copying of the classics in the Dark Ages that many of the books that provided exemplars from which the Carolingian copies were made must have been ancient codices, and this immediately raises a fundamental question: where did all the books that have salvaged so much of what we have of Latin literature come from?" - the majority were from Italy it seems (98); "One cannot consider these facts without marveling at the slenderness of the thread on which the fate of the Latin classics hung. In the case of many texts a single copy survived into the Carolingian period, and often a battered one at that. When the great period of revival was over, some of the great works of Latin literature were still but a single manuscript on a single shelf. The slightest accident could still have robbed us of some of our most precious texts, of Catullus and Propertius, Petronius or Tacitus. There are some extraordinary examples of survival: the fifth-century manuscript of Livy's fifth decade which found a home at Lorsch (Vienna lat. 15) survived until the sixteenth century without ever being copied. A mere mishap, and five more books of Livy would have disappeared without trace." (103); in the 11th and 12th centuries (way after the fall of Charlemagne's empire) more copies were being made since Charlemagne's education system left a strong legacy; the "Twelfth Century Renaissance" occurred for many reasons: cathedral universities emerged, literacy was increasing among some populations, rediscoveries of ancient texts stimulated academic discourse and interest, there was more use of social and economic documentation; translators of Greek texts
4. The Renaissance
The Renaissance was from 1300 to the middle of the 1500s; the scholar of the late Renaissance had at his disposal almost as much of the Greek and Latin literature as we possess today and could read it in print and vernacular translation made them more available to the public at large, further more the foundations for historical and textual criticism were already laid; "Humanism" originally was linked to the study and imitation of classical literature; early humanists were often associated with law or politics in some way; notable prehumanists and humanists discussed; the impact of the printing press on standardization of texts and unifying scholarship; multiple issues that printers faced in generating copies of Greek texts such as making fonts, dealing with corruptions on texts and looking for printable manuscripts
5. Some Aspects of Scholarship Since the Renaissance
Textual criticism since the Renaissance; on contributions made in classical studies; the origin of paleography was in end of the 17th century; discoveries since the Renaissance included palimpsests, papyri (by the end of 19th century, most classical knowledge was based on medieval copies of texts), and epigraphic texts (collections of inscriptions from bronze, stone, etc); "The systematic description of manuscripts has also become a branch of scholarship, and the official catalogues of the leading libraries are a source of primary material for the modern scholar that his predecessors generally lacked. Another very important contribution to scholarship has been the decreasing mobility of manuscript collections. The vast majority of manuscripts of Latin and Greek texts are now owned by institutions that may be confidently expected to retain them in perpetuity. But at least up to the end of the nineteenth century manuscripts were almost as likely to travel as they had been in the unsettled days of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance." (206-207)
6. Textual Criticism
Textual criticism is the process of following the threads of transmission of texts and trying to restore the texts as close as possible to the original form; "Since no autograph manuscripts of the classical authors survive, we are dependent for our knowledge of what they wrote on manuscripts (and sometimes printed editions) which lie at an unknown number of removes from the originals. These manuscripts vary in their trustworthiness as witnesses to the original texts; all of them have suffered to some degree in the process of transmission whether from physical damage, from fallibility of scribes, or from the effects of deliberate interpolation. Any attempt to restore the original text will obviously involve the use of a difficult and complex process, and this process falls into two stages." (208); the first stage is recension (recensio) whereby one tries to reconstruct the earliest recoverable form of the text by establishing the relationships of surviving manuscripts to each other, the second stage is when the text and variants are examined and looked for authenticity or not (examinatio) and dealing with emendations (emendatio); the invention of the printing press in the 1400s secured the future of classical texts, however an unfortunate side effect was that early printers, by putting the texts to print, sort of gave these early unrectified and unevaluated manuscripts an authority they did not deserve as a vulgate; early research in the New Testament was what pushed for a development of systematic methods and approaches for evaluation of authentication of texts; discusses the history and development of textual criticism; the "Stemmatic Theory of Recension" has serious limitations since it depends on a 'closed' manuscript tradition, however the way it works is that scribes made mistakes and some of these errors were copied through time (vertical transmission) so in principle manuscript genealogies can be identified and generated out of these trends; one serious problem with the Stemmatic Method is that manuscripts do show that some copies were constructed from various manuscript traditions, not just one (horizontal transmission) and this introduced some interesting variants - "In some traditions - an example is Xenophon's "Cyropaedia - the process was undertaken so often that the tradition has been hopelessly contaminated by the date of the earliest extant manuscripts. Scholarly activity naturally led to this result, and in many manuscripts the process can be observed, since variant readings are quoted in the margins or between the lines. It follows that the texts most commonly read, including those prescribed for the school syllabus, are most likely to show serious contamination. But the tradition of more recondite authors is not exempt from this feature, as the example of Diognes Laertius shows." (215); other complications is that manuscript traditions are usually 'open' not 'closed' and even the original authors themselves could have inserted a correction or addition onto their own manuscripts even after publication as Cicero did, thus creating variants among their own "archetype" texts (originals) - numerous examples given; the assumption that the oldest text is the most reliable witness to the original is not always true since numerous counter examples are mentioned (218-219); indirect (secondary) traditions like quotes or even translations sometimes carry the correct readings than do the primary traditions - few examples given; "In order to extract the truth from the manuscript evidence the scholar needs to have some acquaintance with the various types of corruption that occur. The primary cause of these was the inability of scribes to make an accurate copy of the text that lay before them. The majority errors were involuntary, but at the end of this section we refer to an important category of which this is not true. Although it seems surprising at first sight that the concentration of the scribes should have failed so often, anyone may soon verify by experiment how difficult it is to make an entirely accurate copy of even a short text. If due allowance is made for the length of time during which copying by hand was the only means of transmission, it is perhaps remarkable that more ancient texts were not reduced to an unintelligible condition. Many different pitfalls lay in the path of the scribe if he once allowed his attention to wander. Some of the possibilities are indicated in the list below. They are to be regarded as a small selection divided into rough and ready categories. It must be emphasized that scribal errors have never been made the subject of a statistical study, and so it is not possible to establish with any degree of precision the relative frequency of the various types. Another important warning is that the assignment of error to a class is not always as easy as it might appear." (223); Classes of errors: A) mistakes induced by any feature of ancient or medieval handwriting (usually caused by lack of divisions between words or close similarity of some letters or misreading abbreviations) - numerous examples are outlined, B) changes in spelling and pronunciation - some examples are outlined, C) omissions (usually caused by a scribe constantly looking back and forth between the text being copied and the new copy he is making [losing his place, finding the wrong place and continuing from there]) - numerous examples are outlined, D) additions ("dittography" or repetitions of letters or words, marginal notes or glosses) - numerous examples are outlined, E) transpositions (letters, words, or lines copied in the wrong order) - numerous examples are outlined, F) errors induced by context (tense of words or phrases) - some examples are outlined, G) some mistakes betray the influence of Christian thought, H) deliberate activity of a scribe such as emendation, interpolations - "This process was not as widespread, however, as might be expected. It seems schoolmasters of late antiquity and the Middle Ages were not as anxious to suppress obscene or otherwise embarrassing passages as more recent editors have been." (233) - numerous examples are outlined; this book does not discuss approaches in dealing with heavily contaminated texts
Overall, it is an excellent book for those who are interested in textual criticism and history of writing. For further reading, one can check out the following:
Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics
History of Libraries of the Western World
Scribes, Script, and Books (ALA Classics)
The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology (Oxford Handbooks)
The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800 (Verso World History Series)
Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft