Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How Many Manuscripts of Livy Are There? About 473.

This was so much easier than counting up the manuscripts of Vergil, which I don't seem to be anywhere close to finished doing.

Actually, Marielle de Franchis counted them up for me, in Chapter 1, "Livian Manuscript Tradition," of the Blackwell Companion to Livy, which was published in 2015, and a copy of which arrived for me via inter-library loan today.

Franchis mentions on p 5 "all the manuscripts of the First Decade (about 200) available today." 1 manuscript of a fragment of the Second Decade was found at Oxyrhynchus. On p 9, Franchis writes that "More than 170 manuscripts that transmitted the Third Decade between the fifth and the fifteenth cantury are still extant." On p 14, she tells us that the Forth Decade "has survived in about 100 manuscripts." There is 1 manuscript of the Fifth Decade containing books 41-45, and 1 containing a fragment of the Tenth Decade.

200 + 1 +170 + 100 + 1 + 1 = 473. The number is more likely to rise than to fall. By how much? I don't know.

I have admitted on this blog that I hope that many more missing parts of Livy's text will be discovered, and that I am aware that such hopes often make people chuckle who are much more learned on the subject of Livy than I. How much more learned? Well, for example, I have read Professor Michael Reeve's article "The Vetus Carnotensis of Livy Unmasked," in Studies in Latin Literature and its Tradition in Honour of C. O. Brink, ed Diggle, Hall & Jocelyn (1989), which Reeve wrote in my native language, English, read it several times, with the greatest interest, and I still am very far from comprehending its content.

So understand that my opinions on such matters, when they are not supported by citations of professionals, are decidedly amateur. My opinion that study of 6th-century Europe made lead to great discoveries of currently-missing parts of Livy's text? Amateur. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it would make the experts chuckle.

I think that they would be somewhat less inclined to chuckle (It doesn't hurt my feelings when they chuckle. Really, it doesn't) when I say that the number of manuscripts of Livy will rise from about 473, although the manuscripts added to the list will mostly (Here they may chuckle again, because I said "mostly" in stead of "all." It's okay) contain text currently known.

Faithful readers of this blog may have noticed that I've written a lot about the transmission of Livy's text, and almost nothing about the text itself. They may be thinking, "Heck, Steve -- what's so great about Livy anyhow?!" I may eventually write some answers to that question. I really do think that Livy is great: a wonderful writer who tells exciting stories, and occasionally underrated as an historian -- but even those who have called him worthless as an historian have agreed that he gives you a great read.

Hopefully, "Objective Journalism" is On the Decline

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.
-- That's from a refreshingly direct and concise USA TODAY editorial.

Brian Williams discussed this editorial on his show last night with Robert Costa. Williams read some of the article aloud, and Costa said something about "wince-inducing." Williams didn't press Costa to expand on that point, which disappointed me, because it wasn't clear to me whether Costa was saying that is was Trump's behavior, or the editorial referring to it, was wince-inducing, and I'm actually afraid it may have been the latter. This would be an extreme example of "objective journalism" madness, saying that journalists can't call Trump a pig.

The USA TODAY editorial tells readers -- clearly and plainly -- what the President is like. I think that champions of "objective journalism" often forget that the vast majority of the public don't have all that much spare time to give to the politics which they, the reporters, study 24-7-365. Those reporters often seem to expect the public to read between the lines as well as they do.

I really like those skits by Jonathan Pie where he plays a political reporter for television, who says a lot of interesting and important things about politics as long as he's off the air, and the instant he goes back on the air he switches back to the typical "objective" zombie-journalist who is at great pains never to come right out and show what he actually thinks or feels about the politicians he reports about all day every day, feeling that he needs to put what he actually knows through the ridiculous filter of "objective journalism," so that only a tiny fraction of it reaches his viewers. Please, please, watch this:

Hunter S Thompson was explicitly opposed to the attempt on journalists' part to be objective, and stated that apart from things like box scores and stock-market results, there was no such thing as objective journalism. I completely agree, and I don't think I'm the only one who ever has -- for example, Jonathan Pie might agree. Still, 45 freakin years after Thompson wrote about it, laying out the case as reasonably, rationally and clearly as could be, it still appears that the number of political journalists who oppose the "objective journalism" policy are a tiny minority in their profession.

Why should political journalists give up "objective journalism"? Because it would be a tremendous help to the general public in understanding politics. That's all.

Of course, if I got it backwards last night, and what Costa was referring to as wince-inducing was not the USA TODAY editorial, but Trump's disgusting behavior, then I apologize to Costa.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

How Many Manuscripts of Vergil Are There?

"No one knows exactly, or even approximately, how many times the works of Vergil were printed in the early modern period. Giuliano Mambelli (1954) listed 1,637 editions published between 1469 and 1850, but the real total may be double Mambelli's, perhaps even more." -- Craig Kallendorf, in A Companion to Vergil's Aeneid and its Tradition, ed by Farrell and Putnam, 2010, p 234.

Gee, Craig, that's really swell. But what I wanted to know is how many manuscripts of Vergil there are.

In the Introduction, Farrell and Putnam write:

"Our view is that a new Aeneid companion would be warranted only if it did not tread well-worn paths."

Cool! I guess they weren't thinking of readers like me, who've never see a companion to Vergil before, and were actually more interested in those well-worn paths.

I'm not knocking this Companion. It's interesting to know that so many editions of Vergil were published up until 1850, and to learn about literature written in Latin in Mexico, the theme of Andrew Laird's chapter, which comes immediately before Kallendorf's, and there is a lot of other way-cool stuff in the over 550 pages of this large quatro.

I'm already familiar with most or all of the manuscripts of Vergil which are most important to Classical scholars: the 7 manuscripts written before AD 500, plus 1 more written before 600, plus 1 more written before 800, plus 13 more chosen from among the 9th-century manuscripts, consulted by R A B Mynors in his highly-regarded 1969 edition of Vergil's works.

Plus 17 or more papyri containing fragments of Vergil, the oldest of which may have been made around AD 100.

It's not at all hard to find information about those manuscripts, because Classical scholars are always exclaiming over them, because there are so many more of them from those time periods than for any other Classical Latin author. Take those 13 ninth-century manuscripts which Mynor chose to consult for his edition. 13 is a whole lot of manuscripts that old for one author. But they keep saying that Mynor "chose" those 13. Which seems to imply that there were even more 9th-century manuscripts of Vergil for Mynor to choose from.

How many more?

Well, you see, that is the point -- exactly the point -- where the numbers go from being extremely easy for me to find, to, so far at least, impossible. Classical scholars go so wild about the numbers of Vergilian manuscripts referred to above because no other author is represented by so many manuscripts which are so old, and also because some of those ancient manuscripts are of extremely high quality. For them, the Classical scholars, the name of the game is to establish a text as close as possible to what the ancient authors wrote, and the manuscripts referred to above are a huge help in establishing that text, and other manuscripts, from the 9th century on to the 15th century and the age of printing, are quite simply much. Less. Interesting.

To Classical scholars in general, that is. There seems to some exceptions to this, because every now and then a Classical scholar will mention that there are so-and-so many hundreds of manuscripts of the work of this or that author, without disagreeing in the slightest that the number of those manuscripts which are crucial in establishing the best possible text is, for example, 2, or 5, or 12, as the case may be.

You see, time after time, they're able to prove that an entire group among those more recent manuscripts are all copies, or copies of copies, or copies of copies of copies, etc, of manuscript A. And since A has survived and is right there in front of them, they have no use at all, when editing the text, for that group of more recent manuscripts, unless they contain passages which are missing from A because pages are missing from A or are badly damaged, or because A contains some passages which are obviously incorrect, and some of the more recent copies might have a better guess at the original text as written by the ancient Roman author, or for other considerations along those lines.

I suspect that the total number of manuscripts of Vergil is very high -- in the hundreds or possibly in the thousands. However, although scholars always exclaim over the high number and high quality of ancient Vergilian manuscripts, and although just today I read Kallendorf, one of our day's leading Vergilian scholars, exclaiming over the thousands of editions (printed versions) of Vergil made between 1469 and 1850 -- I have never actually read anything written by an expert to that effect. I suspect that the number of Vergilian manuscripts is so high that most scholars would shudder at the very thought of even trying to count them all up, let alone making a catalogue of them all with descriptions of each and every one.

I suspect that. I still have no statement at all by any authority and well-respected scholarly expert on such things, to support my suspicion.

Perhaps The Cambridge Companion to Vergil, edited by Charles Martindale and published in 1997, will have, if not an exhaustive list of manuscripts, then perhaps a footnote saying where such a list can be found, or at least a tentative number.

(Perhaps the volume I have now, A Companion to Vergil's Aeneid and its Tradition, ed by Farrell and Putnam, 2010, has such a number and/or reference to a detailed catalogue, tucked away in some footnote. I just really doubt that it does, is all.)

Why, scholars as well as laypeople, if they have bothered to read this far, may well be asking, do I even care how many Vergilian manuscripts there are? I don't know why. I can tell only tell you that I care even more, much more, about how many manuscripts of Livy there are. (And I don't know the answer to that question either.)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hot-Rodding Watches

TV series about auto mechanics who transform cars seem to be very popular these days. Usually a series is about a garage which is very popular, where people -- very often celebrities -- bring their cars to be made over. Less often, the mechanics go out looking for diamond-in-the-rough bargains, and then bring them to the garage for the makeovers. Of the several TV channels devoted entirely to cars, at least one seems to show nothing but these shows about mechanics transforming cars, 24-7.

This blog post is not going to be about those shows. Instead, it's going to be about something entirely imaginary, because a little while ago, I said to myself: What if, instead of all those shows in mechanics' garages, there were shows in watchsmiths' shops instead?

There could be shows wherein the watchsmiths go out to thrift stores and yard sales and estate sales and flea markets and what have you, looking for watches which they can bring back to the shop, refurbish and sell at a profit. But maybe most of the shows would be about high-end, relatively glamourous shops where the customers bring their watches and ask to have them fixed up and/or transformed.

So immediately the question occurs to me: how often are watches actually transformed, as opposed to merely being maintained or fixed? Cars, as we all know, can be completely transformed, and very often are, like this, for instance:

It's so common that I'm sure I don't even have to explain it to most of you. But is it at all common with watches? I have the impression that it is not: that the most which a watchsmith commonly does is to bring a watch as close as possible back to the appearance and performance it had when new.

Whether or not it IS commonly done, how much COULD be done to transform watches? Replacing a dial or a bezel with one of a different color could of course be done. But what about adding functions to a watch? For example: could my Seiko 5 --

-- be modified so that it had a manual winding option, or a power reserve indicator, or both? Assuming both could be done -- would that cost me less than 1000 brand-new Seiko 5's?

Because of the ridiculously low cost of Seiko 5's -- back down to around $45 on Amazon for Cyber Monday -- the very thought of having them serviced by a professional watchsmith, let alone hot-rodded into something very different than a stock 5, is -- odd. But when it comes to watches which cost 5 figures or more new, the thought of paying for a number of man-hours of highly-skilled craftsmanship to have them modified suddenly seems less odd -- assuming, that is, that such modifications are possible.

Perhaps it can be done, and is done all the time, but the terminology is different. A 1932 Dodge which has had its original engine removed and replaced with a supercharged 351 Ford engine, and its chassis replaced with an all-wheel-drive chassis with an automatic 7-speed transmission, and its tires with racing slicks, is still referred to as 1932 Dodge -- a souped-up '32 Dodge. Perhaps a Seiko 5 can be extensively modified, but, long before it undergoes as much change as that hypothetical '32 Dodge, it is no longer referred to as a Seiko 5, but may be described as being based on a 5. Maybe this sort of thing is done all the time, and the usual thing to do is for the watchsmith who transformed the 5 to put his own brand name on it.

There are so very many things I don't know.

Well, anyway, clearly, it would be an alternate universe, and not ours at present, if such TV shows about watches existed, and if such modification of watches were as common as it is in the case of cars in our car-crazy world.

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Sie war eine junge, schoene Ballerina..."

"... und er war ein junger, attraktiver Rechtsanwalt und Erbe einer Milliardaren-Familie..."

Na endlich! Nach diesem schier unendlosen Strom von Romanen voll mit den Liebesgeschichten von ugly poor people, endlich was Neues!

Eine schoene junge Ballerina und ein attraktiver Rechtsanwalt und Milliarden-Erbe! Finally, something you and I can relate to! Ein Stueck echtes Leben!

Nicht nach dem Muster des Bekannten geschnitten, nein! Etwas Urspruengliches, Echtes! Etwas, was uns aus diesem taeglichen Traume des Ueblichen weckt, und uns daran erinnert, was Fiktion wirklich kann! Ein Meisterstueck! Endlich mal eine Authorin, die den Mut hat zu dem, was wir kennen -- nein, nicht das was wir aus Alltagsromanen kennen, sondern in unserem echten Leben -- und selten, zu selten, auch in der Literatur.

Eine schoene junge Ballerina und ein attraktiver Rechtsanwalt und Milliarden-Erbe!

Genie! Weltliteratur! Nietzsche! Doeblin! Bachmann! Und jetzt auch diese hier.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Yes, That is a Very Great Amount of Aristotelian Manuscripts

Someone who struck me as authoritative -- I do not remember who -- wrote -- I do not remember where. I should write these sorts of things down more often. It may have been in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, which I read often and recommend heartily -- that the manuscripts of Aristotle are literally myriad. I then consulted the Oxford English Dictionary, and saw that "myriad" literally means "10,000."

Attempting to verify that there really are as many as 10,000 manuscripts of the works of Aristotle, I found that, as of the writing of the article on Aristotle in the 1972 Encyclopaedia Britannica, there were 47 surviving philosophical works attributed to Aristotle, and that he actually wrote many more. Not from the encyclopaedia, I learned that these 47 works were often copied individually, as opposed to huge volumes each containing many of the works. I learned that several of these works survive in Latin translations in several hundred manuscripts each (Aristotle wrote in Greek, and was very popular among Medieval scholars of Western Europe who could read Latin but not Greek.). If several hundred Latin copies is typical for each of those 47 works, then perhaps there really are over 10,000 manuscripts of Aristotle surviving in our time, and the vast majority of them are Latin translations. (Several hundred X 47 = more than 10,000.) I'm assuming that untranslated Greek manuscripts of Aristotle are not nearly so numerous, but perhaps I'm wrong about that.

I have absolutely no ideas how many manuscripts of Aristotle in Arabic translation have survived to our day, or in other languages, for that matter.

Some time ago, I read in Rackham's Loeb edition and translation of Aristotle's Politics

that the manuscripts of that work "are not very good nor very old. The oldest evidence for the text is a translation in barbarous Latin by a Dominican monk of the thirteenth century, William of Moerbeke[...]The five best extant Greek copies are of the fifteenth century[...]" That was the first time that I had read anything about the transmission of Aristotle's texts. And so I mistakenly assumed that there were not many manuscripts of anything written by Aristotle. It turns out that Moerbeke is one of the Latin translators of Aristotle who has been copied into hundreds of surviving manuscripts, per work, having translated other works by Aristorle besides the Politics, and that not everyone has shared Rackham's low opinion of his Latin prose.

So, is Aristotle in 2nd place among ancient authors, behind only the Bible, in terms of numbers of surviving manuscripts? I don't know. One reason I don't know is because the experts on ancient Greek and Latin literature themselves don't know how many surviving manuscripts there are of the authors in which they specialize. And the reason they often don't know is because they don't much care. How can this be? Well, you see, the most important aspect of their jobs is get a version of those ancient texts as close as possible to what the ancient authors originally wrote. And for the purpose of determining those texts, the great majority of the manuscripts can be dismissed, if it has been determined that they are all copies, or copies of copies, or copies of copies of copies, etc, of some other surviving manuscripts. There is often a very great difference between the number of manuscripts which scholars use to determine the text, and all of the surviving manuscripts of that text. Oh, so there are X number of manuscript copies of Moerbeke's translation of the Politics? Hey, that's great. But because I have the actual copy which Moerbeke made (or high-res photos of that copy), I don't need all those hundreds of others. Is how those scholars will often react, if they see their job as editing the text.

There are other reasons for looking at all of the other copies. For example, someone has to determine where they came from, whether manuscript J was a copy of a copy of manuscript R, or what exactly. Or maybe Professor Y thinks that Professor X made a mistake when he or she said that J was a copy of a copy of manuscript R, and wants to check for him- or herself.

Another reason is if we want to get a general idea of how popular that ancient author was in a certain time and place. We can only get a very general idea of this, because we know that a lot of manuscripts have disappeared, and we don't know how many. Just because there are hundreds of manuscripts today of Ovid, and none at all of Pompeius Trogus, doesn't mean that Ovid was read by more people in the 2nd century AD than Trogus. But the great number of 12th-century manuscripts of Ovid (compared to surviving 12th-century manuscripts in general), combined with other things such as frequent mentions of him by 12th-century writers, mean that we're probably pretty safe in saying that Ovid was widely-read in the 12th century. Probably.

It seems to me that typically, there are more 15th-century manuscripts of a given Classical Latin author than manuscripts of any other one century, and sometimes more than all the other centuries put together. It seems that way. But I don't know for sure, because I only have those century-by-century numbers in the case of a few Classical Latin authors. Maybe they're pretty typical of the rest, maybe they're not. After the 15th century, the numbers of manuscripts of Classical Latin authors drops away to almost nothing, because of the invention of the printing press. One notable exception to that is the text of the 1st-century novel Satyricon by Petronius,

the inspiration for Fellini's film of the same name, liked by Fellini fans, less well-liked by Classicists who feel that Fellini missed much of Petronius' message. The text of Satyricon has been patched together like Frankenstein's monster from various manuscripts each containing just a part of the whole. 4 of those manuscripts were written in the late 16th century, and just recently, Maria Salanitro has found what she believes are still more parts of the novel, contained in a 17th-century manuscript.

How much of the preponderance of 15th-century manuscripts -- assuming I'm correct in assuming it exists -- is due to an actual rise in the reading of ancient Latin Classics in the 15th-century, and how much is due to people being suddently much more careful to preserve manuscripts? I have no idea.

It was nice of Martin Wohlrab to list and comment on all 147 of the manuscripts of Plato which he could find, late in the 19th century, and it was also nice of the University of California to re-print his list

in the 21st century. Did Wohlrab include manuscripts of Latin translations of Plato (or translations into still other languages) in his list? I'm going to have to examine this list a little more closely and get back to you on that one. Were there ever very many manuscripts of Latin translations of Plato? Hey, that's another really swell question. I know that Latin translations of Plato were made after the invention of printing.

Are the numbers of manuscripts of Cicero or Vergil comparable to those of Aristotle? Another thing I really wish I knew.

Why do I care so much about it? Am I about to help these professors in their task of sorting out which manuscripts derive from which, by the process they call collation? No. Am I interested in the numbers of readers these authors have had? To be honest: only slightly. I think I care about these numbers of manuscripts because autism. (It would also be great if I could demonstrate that there are more manuscripts of one Classical author or another than of the Bible, but I suspect that the Bible-thumpers out there who're saying that there are only 20 manuscripts of Livy [There are hundreds. How many hundreds? I wish I knew. Hey, there might be thousands for all I know.], and so forth, have also drastically under-counted the total number of Biblical manuscripts.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

America, the "Greatest Force for Good in the World" ?

Someone remarked on Facebook:

"Once upon a time, America had a long history of being the greatest force for good in the world"

That's a popular notion, especially here in the US.

On the other hand, many countries abolished slavery before we did. Health care and elder care guaranteed by the state goes back to the 19th century in some other countries.

Between the secession of Texas and the Mexican-American War about half of Mexico became part of the US. Ask around in Mexico about whether the US has been the greatest force for good in the world, and you might get some rather nuanced answers. And don't even start about Mexicans streaming into the the US illegally -- do I really even have to tell you? They're crossing the border into what used to be Mexico.

You could also ask a Native American what he or she thinks of the notion of the US being a force for good in the world. Etc.

We're not worse then other countries, we're not better either. And by the way, you people from outside of the US, like the one who answered that Facebook comment by saying that you are disgusted with us for "choosing Trump," and are "through with us" now? Way to stand by us in our time of trouble. Trump is definitely the worst President we've had, but he was elected with a minority of the popular vote in an election in which the Democratic Party had been deeply divided by Bernie Sanders -- just your kind of guy, I'm guessing: worse than useless, but always ready to complain about the shortcomings of others -- not to mention awfully persistent rumours of Russian meddling, and the number of Americans polled who say they want Trump to be removed from office is awfully close to half, and rising steadily. Yes, Trump is a horrible man, and he has given the US and the world some horrible problems to deal with, but we will get through this, even without your help, Mr I'm-disgusted-With-The-US-And I'm-Through-With-Them, although I'm sure that won't stop you and Bernie Sanders from taking credit for getting rid of Trump as soon as he's gone.

There is a lot of good and a lot of bad in the US. Like any huge thing involving hundreds of millions of people, the US is very complex.