When Not to Judge (a Manuscript) Book by Its Cover (or the Hands in It): Case of Codex Vaticanus Ottobonianus Graecus 210 (Ba) of Aeschylus

By Charles J. Zabrowski.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The codex Vaticanus Ottobonianus Graecus 210 (given the siglum or short-hand letter designation Ba by A. Turyn, the first scholar to examine it), was long ignored in the constitution of the Greek text of the Aeschylean tragedies Prometheus Bound and Seven Against Thebes which it exhibits, because Turyn stated that the book had been damaged, and that "some portions [have been] lost and replaced by other hands". M.L. West in the last major edition of Aeschylus recognized that the codex contains valuable textual readings, which he adopted. West nowhere, however, addresses the question of Turyn's "supplements". A codicological examination of Ba in the Vatican Library by the presenter has revealed that the codex was not damaged and supplemented at all, but was put together of a piece by no fewer than six contemporary hands that collaborated in the copying. This unusual procedure (generally no more than two hands share in a work, nor do they take turns, as is the case here) accounts for the consistency of the readings, which appear all to have come from one source or exemplar, which can thereby be reconstructed and related to other manuscript witnesses.

Keywords: Aeschylus (Author), Manuscripts, Tragedies

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.231-252. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.926MB).

Prof. Charles J. Zabrowski

Professor, Classics, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, USA

Is a professor of Classics (chiefly ancient Greek), and a researcher in the field of Greek Palaeography and Manuscript Studies. His favorite author is Aeschylus.

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