Authentic classics

By Quasus, in 'Latin Culture', May 25, 2010.

  1. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    The works of classical authors present the core of Classical Latin, the variation of Latin that has been the object of study throughout the centuries. That is Caesar, Cicero and others are our fundament. The more confusing for me sounded the following words (from a forum):
    The words belong to a man whose erudition I doubt not in the least. Yet I strongly hope he is wrong this time. Are there evidences available that texts ascribed to Caesar & Co. are authentic rather than a fake of first millennium's scribes?
  2. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Saxonia
    to dispose of = to get rid of

    It's true that some scribes made changes in the Latin texts (or usually simply errors) when they copied them, but most texts have come down to us in different manuscripts ... with some scientific methodology it is possible to reconstruct the architype of the texts to a large extent.
  3. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Gratias ago quod me emendasti. :)
  4. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    This is an important issue. Most of our manuscripts are mediaeval copies. If you read the introduction to a text, you will usually find a discussion of which manuscripts are available, their relative reliability, and how they were merged to achieve the best approximation of the original.
  5. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    On the other hand, think of the Late Empire and Dark Ages when the native language of a scribe could be Latina uulgaris or a kind of Latina rustica. Is it inconceivable that such a scribe could, say, slightly inverse the word order so that the text sounded more naturally from his point of view?
  6. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    You need to be a bit careful with the term Dark Ages. Don't forget that it was during the enlightened period of the Carolingian renaissance that many of these texts were copied, and if they had not been, we would not have them at all.

    But answering your question, yes it happened fairly regularly. It is not necessarily deliberate. It is quite difficult to write out an entire book without errors. There is a branch of codicology which deals with how to reconstruct the original text from manuscripts. Have a read of the discussion at the beginning of one of the critical editions and you will get some idea of what they have done.

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