Studies on Commenting Texts in Antiquity and Middle Ages
“The commentary-tradition, indeed, is so rich and varied in itself that we cannot claim to be comprehensive even in dealing with it alone.”
Medieval Literary Theory and Criticism c.1100-c.1375. The Commentary-Tradition. Ed. by A.J. Minnis, A.B. Scott with assist. of D. Wallace, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991, vii.
A need to comment on a text arises when its contents is concealed before the eyes of the recipient and one must unveil it in order to ensure the text’s understanding. This applies especially to sacred, revealed books, the understanding of which is not possible without proper commentaries and explanations, and also to philosophical, scientific, and medical writings which require continual clarification and elucidation of their contents.
Commentaries are also indispensable tools when a text is archaic and therefore remains obscure without the aid of explanatory comments. These types of commentaries were composed since antiquity, since the Hellenistic period in which the language of Homer and Hesiod was already archaic and in large part incomprehensible.
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