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Interpreting a Classic

Interpreting a Classic: Demosthenes and His Ancient Commentators

Craig A. Gibson
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 273
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  • Book Info
    Interpreting a Classic
    Book Description:

    Demosthenes (384-322 b.c.) was an Athenian statesman and a widely read author whose life, times, and rhetorical abilities captivated the minds of generations. Sifting through the rubble of a mostly lost tradition of ancient scholarship, Craig A. Gibson tells the story of how one group of ancient scholars helped their readers understand this man's writings. This book collects for the first time, translates, and offers explanatory notes on all the substantial fragments of ancient philological and historical commentaries on Demosthenes. Using these texts to illuminate an important aspect of Graeco-Roman antiquity that has hitherto been difficult to glimpse, Gibson gives a detailed portrait of a scholarly industry that touched generations of ancient readers from the first century b.c. to the fifth century and beyond. In this lucidly organized work, Gibson surveys the physical form of the commentaries, traces the history of how they were passed down, and explains their sources, interests, and readership. He also includes a complete collection of Greek texts, English translations, and detailed notes on the commentaries.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92730-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The Athenian statesman and orator Demosthenes (384–322 B.C.) was one of the most influential authors of Greek and Roman antiquity. The writings passed down under his name in the manuscript tradition include sixteen speeches delivered before the Athenian Assembly, nine others from important public trials, thirty-three from private law cases, six letters, a funeral oration, an essay on love, and a large collection of generalized introductions(prooemia).¹ Of these writings, the speeches delivered in the Assembly and in public trials were generally considered to be his best. Demosthenes was also one of the orators included in the canon of...

  6. PART ONE The Ancient Commentaries on Demosthenes

    • CHAPTER 1 Form and Transmission
      (pp. 13-25)

      The ancient commentaries on Demosthenes were particularly volatile and subject to various sorts of excerpting and reorganization. This resulted in the creation of different reference works for different purposes and audiences. None of these works represented any sort of advance over the others, and with the exception of the much later marginal scholia, one might have expected to find any of them in circulation at any given time. This phenomenon is, of course, not unique to the ancient scholarship on Demosthenes. J. E. G. Zetzel characterizes the transmission of late-ancient scholarship in Latin as “a continuous flow . . ....

    • CHAPTER 2 Sources, Agenda, and Readership
      (pp. 26-50)

      Information, ideas, and arguments about Demosthenes’ orations were passed among various sorts of commentaries and lexica from at least the first century B.C. down to the end of antiquity and beyond, as we have seen in the previous chapter. But to characterize this exchange and transfer as the mechanics of transmission, and to stop at that, is to privilege the process over the purpose, the raw data of exchange over the commentators who developed and shaped it and the audiences for whom they did so. The intent of the present chapter, therefore, is to use the surviving texts to illuminate...

    • CHAPTER 3 Didymus
      (pp. 51-70)

      Berol. 9780 is a papyrus of the second century C.E. containing a series of discussions of problems raised by certain passages in Dem. 9–11 and 13. Didymus’s selective coverage of these four speeches has provoked scholarly debate over the past century.¹ For a modern commentator, omitting to address every detail of a text may be considered a serious fault. But to explain Berol. 9780’s spotty coverage of the four orations we need not resort to condemning this ancient scholar’s intelligence, diligence, or scruple. I argue here that the practice of excerption (as defined and discussed above in chapter 1)...

  7. PART TWO Texts, Translations, and Notes

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 73-76)

      THIS PART OF THE BOOK provides Greek texts, English translations, and explanatory notes on the ancient philological and historical commentaries on Demosthenes. A Greek text is given for each text surveyed except for Berol. 9780, whose length and ready availability in a recent edition precluded its inclusion here. A brief introduction to each commentary or lexicon and a bibliographical notice are given before each text. In the explanatory notes, ancient authors cited in the commentaries are identified on first appearance, with brief bibliographical recommendations. The other bibliographical references in the notes are intended to serve several purposes: to point the...

    • TEXT 1 Commentary on Dem. 9–11 and 13 (P.Berol.inv. 9780)
      (pp. 77-136)

      P.Berol.inv.9780 (Pack² 339) is a substantial papyrus roll from Hermoupolis dated to the early second century C. E. The recto contains Didymus’s commentaries on Demosthenes’Third Philippic(Dem. 9),Fourth Philippic(Dem. 10),Reply to Philip’s Letter(Dem. 11), andOn Organization(Dem. 13). Toward the end of the second century, an introduction to Stoic ethics by Hierocles (early second century C.E.) was copied on the verso and in the opposite direction. Most of the commentary on Dem. 9 is lost; the extant text begins with the end of the commentary on that speech. The commentaries on Dem. 10, 11,...

    • TEXT 2 Didymus Fragments in Harpocration
      (pp. 137-156)

      This section contains a text, translation, and notes on the fragments of Didymus’s commentaries on Demosthenes that are attributed to Didymus by name in Harpocration’sLexeis of the Ten Orators.Harpocration’s lexicon contains about 1,300 entries on words and phrases found mainly in the Attic orators. Bibliographical references in the lexicon suggest a post-Augustan date. The palaeographical dates of two surviving ancient papyri (P.Ryl.532 andP.Merton30), together with biographical information fromP.Oxy.2912 and theSuda,suggest that it was written before the end of the second century C.E. A date of composition in the second century C.E....

    • TEXT 3 Lexicon to Dem. 23 (P.Berol.inv. 5008)
      (pp. 157-171)

      P.Berol.inv. 5008 (Pack² 317) consists of three poorly preserved fragments of a papyrus codex dating to the fourth or fifth century C.E. that contain a total of six lexical entries: on the recto, MιλƬοκύθης (Dem. 23.104, 115, 169, 175) and μόραυ (Dem. 23.198); on the verso, οίνoχόημα (?) (Dem. 23.198), ὁδός (Dem. 23.53), ὁ κάƬωθЄυ υόμος (Dem. 23.28), and ὅτι ΘЄμιστoκλῆς ὠσƬρακίσθη (Dem. 23.205). Since all these words, phrases, or topics occur in Dem. 23, and since they all begin with the lettersmuoromicron,Blass, “Lexikon,” 149–50, identified this text as an alphabetical special lexicon for use with Dem. 23,...

    • TEXT 4 Commentary on Dem. 5 (P.Berol.inv. 21188)
      (pp. 172-174)

      P.Berol.inv. 21188 is a papyrus from Hermoupolis dating from the second century C.E. that consists of one large fragment and ten smaller ones. The large fragment (frag.I) preserves part of a commentary on the phrase “about the shadow of an ass” from Dem. 5.25,On the Peace.The reference in fragment 2 to “renting” (μϵμισθωμέ[νῳ]) the ass continues the discussion of the proverb. The “shadow” is still apparently under discussion in col. 2, line 14 (σκƖα.[– – –]), which would suggest that this comes from a commentary rather than from a lexicon. There is a parallel treatment of the proverb in...

    • TEXT 5 Commentary on Dem. 22 (P.Stras.inv. 84)
      (pp. 175-189)

      P.Stras.inv. 84 (Pack² 310) is a commentary on Dem. 22,Against Androtion, dating to the late first century C.E. The width of the papyrus varies from 8.1 to 10.0 cm; its length is 18.2 cm. The recto contains accounts from the first half of the century. The verso contains our text, a single column consisting of the ends of twenty-six lines; the restorations of the beginnings of these lines and the final entry are conjectural. Lines 3–26 are written by a second hand. The length of the undamaged lines is debated, with estimates for the portion in lacuna ranging...

    • TEXT 6 Lexicon to Dem. 21 (P.Rain.inv. 7)
      (pp. 190-200)

      P.Rain.inv. 7 (Pack² 308) is a sheet of a papyrus codex dating to the fourth or fifth century C.E. that contains part of a special lexicon to Dem. 21,Against Meidias. The sheet is torn on all four sides. The recto preserves part of a single entry for the word δɩαɩтηтής (Dem. 21.83). The verso contains brief entries for six other lemmata: ἕт∈ρoɩ δ∈ὐт∈ρoι μ∈тὰ тαῦт[α] (Dem. 21.161), ἐγὼ ʋoμίζω πάʋтας ἀʋθρ[ώπoʋς ἐράʋoυς ɸὲρειʋ oὐχὶ μóʋoʋ ὧʋ πληρ]ωƭαὶ γίγʋoʋƭαι (184–85), ἡγ∈μὡʋ συ[μ–μoρίας] (157), θέ[μ]εʋoς ƭὰ ὅπλ[α] (145), [εἰσι]ƭήρια (114), [σ]εμʋαῖς θε[α]ῖς ἱερoπoιὸʋ αἱρηθ[– – –] (115). The organization is roughly alphabetical,...

  8. APPENDIX: Rhetorical Prologue and Commentary on Dem. 21 (P.Lond.Lit. 179)
    (pp. 201-210)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-224)
  10. Corcordance to the Translations
    (pp. 225-230)
  11. General Index
    (pp. 231-236)
  12. Index Locorum
    (pp. 237-248)
  13. Index Verborum
    (pp. 249-261)