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THE TEXT, MSS., SCHOLIASTS, EDITIONS.
AN editor whose knowledge of MSS. is almost entirely at second-hand owes some apology, at least to himself, for discussing questions of text; but he can hardly avoid such discussion. Even if he chooses an existing text as his guide throughout, he must by his choice virtually take a side in many intricate questions, and he does so in the way which is the least instructive to his reader, by appearing to settle without discussion questions which are really open. Happily the text of Horace is one in which, if some points must always remain in uncertainty, the uncertainty is of a very bearable kind. The worst result of a bad judgment will usually be only to prefer the less probable of two readings, either of which has much to say for itself, makes good sense, and has been supported by great scholars.
It will be seen that the MSS. of Horace, though very numerous, are not very ancient. There are none, like the uncial MSS. of Virgil, of palmary authority. There are a considerable number which are placed between the end of the 9th and 10th centuries; only one now extant which belongs undoubtedly to the 9th. In addition to these, we have the testimony of Cruquius (see below), at whatever value it is to be rated, to the readings of a MS. probably some two centuries earlier; and we have Scholia which are generally believed to date, at least in their original form, from the 3rd to the 5th century.
Occasionally, where doubt hangs over the form of some salient expression in Horace, we find light thrown upon it by more or less certain imitations of it in Ovid, or in the later Roman poets.
Lastly, we have numerous quotations, chiefly in the grammatical authors of the first five centuries. These are rarely of any very high value; partly because quotations seem often to be made from memory, partly because the quotation is most commonly made for some metrical or grammatical reason which is not affected by the special word or form in respect of which the doubt exists, and therefore the testimony to the reading is not in truth older than the MSS. (not usually very ancient) of the grammatical author himself.
So far, then, as external testimony goes, it is clear that when a disputed reading occurs, the evidence to which we can appeal to determine it contains in every department some elements of uncertainty, and is not likely to be rated at the same relative value by all critics. Can the MSS. be made, by any process of comparison, to testify, through common readings, to sources of evidence older than themselves, older even than the Scholia? Has the value of any special MS. been unduly estimated? Is a particular Scholium genuine, or is it an interpolation to suit a late MS. reading? There will remain these and other previous questions upon which perfect agreement cannot always be obtained; and, in default of such agreement, an editor or a reader who approaches questions of text on this side, confessedly with only second-hand knowledge, can hardly form his judgments too modestly. It must not be supposed, however, that the criticism of Horace's text, any more than the criticism of other classical texts, turns by any means entirely upon the testimony of MSS. or Scholia. However far these carry us back, they leave us, on the one hand, with the certainty that varieties of reading existed, and that emendation on grammatical or other grounds had been at work, still earlier; and, on the other hand, they leave, if not very many blots which modern criticism has unanimously recognised and corrected, yet enough of these1 to make us feel that when the question
1 Such as 'ter' in Epod. 4. 8, 'hic ut Mucius illi' in Epp. 2. 2. 89, which no editor would retain, though they are the unanimous reading of the MSS. The mistakes in proper names are notorious; e.g. the Scholiasts, by their quotation from Homer, show that they had the right
lies between an i or an e, an e or an a, one or other expansion of an ambiguous abbreviation, and the like, MS. testimony cannot be held to settle it absolutely, without any appeal to grammar or sense. We must add that in the majority of really doubtful readings no theory with respect to the external testimony will elicit other than an ambiguous answer from it. In these, if to the end we must give full room to doubt, we can hardly help balancing in our minds the fitness on other grounds of the rival claimants.
1. As has been already said, no MS. of Horace is known to be in existence older than the 9th century. We have, however, in the edition of Cruquius (Antwerp, 1578), frequent testimony to the readings of at least one MS. of greater antiquity, the one, namely, which is known as the 'Vetus Blandinius.' In preparing his edition, Cruquius had the benefit of consulting four MSS. then extant in the Benedictine abbey of S. Peter, ' in monte Blandinio' (Blankenberg), near Ghent. These MSS. all perished, as he tells us (see his note on the Inscription to Sat. B. I, p. 308 of his Edition), in the sack of the abbey by a mob of 'iconoclasts,' in the outbreak of 1566. His own estimate of their date puts them all as early as the 9th century. One whose loss he specially laments, he distinguishes throughout from the rest as 'vetustissimus.' This is the MS. referred
to in most editions as V.
The general opinion of Horatian scholars, from Bentley onwards, has attached the very highest value to Cruquius' MS. Keller and Holder, as will be seen, set less store by it. Its readings correspond very largely with those of B (the old Bernese MS.: see below) where that is extant, and in the Satires and Epistles it is followed most closely (especially in the famous variation Sat. 1. 6. 126 'campum lusumque trigonem,' where, name in Od. 3. 20. 15, Epod. 15. 22, but all the MSS. have Nereus,' 'Nerea.' The certain form 'Alyattei,' in Od. 3. 16. 41, has had to be restored by modern scholars, the MSS. being utterly at sea 'halyalyti,' 'aliat thii,' etc. The unmetrical tricenis' in Od. 2. 14. 5; has overwhelming MS. support.