Clara Auvray-Assayas - Which protohistory of the text can be grasped from Carolingian manuscripts? The case of Cicero’s De natura deorum
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Which protohistory of the text can be grasped from Carolingian manuscripts? The case of Cicero’s De natura deorum
If reconstructing the protohistory of the text is the main goal of a classical text’s editor, this difficult task is most urgent when the text transmitted by manuscripts appears garbled, full of lacunae, and has been radically transformed by humanistic philology. Were humanist scholars right to do so? Is the manuscripts evidence to be rejected as the result of errors occurred during the process of copying? These questions have to be answered if only to give a solid ground for a new edition of Cicero’s dialogue De natura deorum1.
The first question arises from a very specific situation. It has to be remembered that since the edition of 1507 (Venice, Pietro Marso2) the text of book 2 has undergone a radical transformation: a part as big as 70 paragraphs (in modern editions) has been transposed, on the never-questioned assumption that a dislocation of quaternions occurred3. But this very common type of error does not help to understand why the supposed dislocation does not result in the same text in the whole tradition and why a group of twelve lines has two different and very distant locations in the manuscripts4. Nonetheless the ‘textus receptus’ inherited ← 45 | 46 → from humanistic philology has been continuously printed as if the carolingian manuscripts were all defective in the same way5. Previous analysis of the explanations given...
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