Monday, September 27, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Manoles Papathomopoulos, Κάτωνος γνώμαι παραινετικαί δίστιχοι "Ας μετήνεγκεν εκ της Λατίνων φωνής εις την Ελλάδα διαλεκτόν" Μάξιμος Μοναχός ο Πλανούδης: Κριτική έκδοση (Katonos Gnomai Parainetikai distichoi as metenegken ek tes Latinon phones eis ten Ellada dialekton Maximos Monachos o Planoudes: Kritike ekdose). Athens: Ekdoseis Aletheia, Pp. 144. ISBN 9789608998193. € 14.07.
Reviewed by Ioannis Deligiannis, Research Centre for Greek and Latin Literature of the Academy of Athens

Following V. Ortoleva's relatively recent edition of Maximus Planudes' Greek translation of the Distichs of Cato (Disticha or Dicta Catonis),1 M. Papathomopoulos has now produced a new edition of the same text. His book contributes both to the completeness and accuracy of the text and to the studies of the reception of the Latin language and literature in the Byzantine East.

In the first part of his introduction the author makes general remarks on the nature of the original text, its uncertain author, its circulation in the Middle Ages, and its reception in the Renaissance.2 In the same spirit, he covers only briefly Planudes' translation, the time and place of its production, its survival, and its use as a schoolbook at Byzantium. He then deals with the editions of the Distichs, beginning with Aldus Manutius's editio princeps and ending with Ortoleva's edition. Ortoleva published in fact what is thought to have been Planudes' final version, (the so-called recensio α), alongside three further texts: recensio β (an earlier version), the scholia, and a prose paraphrase.

In the next part of the introduction (I-IV), Papathomopoulos discusses in detail the four texts mentioned above. He begins with recensio α, by reviewing Ortoleva's edition based on 25 collated manuscripts. Papathomopoulos's criticism of Ortoleva grows sharper when he records Ortoleva's misreadings; he claims that he observed about 300 misreadings. He focuses on one of the manuscripts collated by Ortoleva, ms. Romanus Angelicus gr. 48 (=An), and after listing a number of readings of An, which should not have been ignored or amended by Ortoleva, the author concludes that An is the archetype of all the other manuscripts. To support his conclusion, Papathomopoulos analyses the relationships between the other manuscripts, dividing them in two major families and examining a sample of 13 cases of readings that clearly prove his division. The section closes with Papathomopoulos' new stemma codicum.

The next section of the introduction, on recensio β, opens with Papathomopoulos's appreciation of Ortoleva's location of the first version of Planudes' translation in ms. Monacensis gr. 551 (= M). While he praises Ortoleva's contribution to the identification of the author of this version with Planudes and to other important aspects of the text, he lists some 50 misreadings, also noting that Ortoleva made some unsuccessful conjectures and alterations.

Papathomopoulos then moves to the discussion of the scholia. While he pays tribute to Ortoleva's attribution of authorship of the scholia to Planudes, he criticizes Ortoleva for not having collated a number of manuscripts and for numerous misreadings (which he thoroughly lists), grammar and syntax mistakes. He concludes that, for the scholia too, An is the archetype of the other manuscripts.

In the fourth part of the introduction Papathomopoulos discusses the prose paraphrase of Planudes' version of the Distichs. Ortoleva had argued that this text is preserved in only one manuscript (Oxon. Barocc. gr. 71 = B), but Papathomopoulos has identified another manuscript (Oxon. Barocc. gr. 111 = Z), which in 69 cases provides a text better than the one preserved in B. To prove his assertion, Papathomopoulos laboriously records the errors of B compared to those of Z, and concludes that both manuscripts derive from a common ancestor, ψ, now lost.

Based on his observations on Ortoleva's edition, Papathomopoulos thus justifies the need for a new edition. For recensio α and the scholia he based his edition on the archetype An, for recensio β he used, like Ortoleva, ms. M, but corrected his mistakes, while for the paraphrase, he mostly used ms. Z. For the Latin original, he followed M. Boas's standard edition.3

The last part of the introduction is dedicated to the reception of Planudes' translation in post-Byzantine literature. Two observations on this part: a) judging from his references, Papathomopoulos derived his material for this section exclusively from a single source,4 and b) the placement of the section is rather ineffective; it would fit better exactly after the section on the editions of the text (pp. 12-13). The bibliography is divided in two parts, on M. Planudes in general, and on the Distichs in particular.

The texts section starts with recensio α. It consists of a prefatory Epistula and 55 Breves Sententiae, and the four books of the Distichs. Papathomopoulos has not included the manuscript readings of the apographs in the apparatus, but only of An. It would be practically impossible to comment on all his textual preferences, changes or emendations, so my examples will be limited to the most striking points, and the same applies to the other texts as well. Judging from Papathomopoulos's minor corrections, it appears that An does indeed provide a reasonably good text. What is striking is the addition of a distich (3.22), yet the apparatus is not very clear about its provenance. It reads as follows: "22.1-2 om. An cum scholiis, paraphrasi, omnibus ceteris codicibus et editionibus praeter recensionem β et editionem Lipsiensem a. 1617 Wach. Arn. An.". Recensio β, however, has a prose version, so one wonders if the hexameter distich comes only from the 1617 edition and if it is the composition of an editor. As a general observation, by trusting the readings of An and correcting them, where necessary, Papathomopoulos has contributed considerably to the restoration and establishment of the original text. The inclusion of a basic critical apparatus for the Latin text would be helpful for comparison between Latin and Greek variants.

Recensio β is written in prose, revealing the way Planudes worked on his translation of the Distichs from Latin into Greek. Here the apparatus is much more helpful, since it includes the readings of M and Papathomopoulos's corrections and emendations of Ortoleva. These corrections are well justified and accurate, based on recensio α and on the original Latin (e.g., Proh. 7 ἐνδόξως M (gloriose Cato) : εὐδόξως legit Ortoleva; 2.28.27 τῇ τρυφῇ correxi (τῇ τρυφῇ recensio α, voluptati Cato) : τῇ τροφῇ M; 3.11.9 βαρετή (molesta Cato) scripsi : βατ~ Μ : βατῶν coni. Ortoleva, etc.).

The scholia on the Distichs, attributed to Planudes by Ortoleva, follow the text of An. There are a few corrections by Papathomopoulos, plus the welcome inclusion of references to passages from the Bible, which Planudes alludes to in his scholia.

Last is the prose paraphrase of Planudes' translation. It is based on two manuscripts, B and Z, and judging from the apparatus, Papathomopoulos's claim that Z provides better readings can be confirmed (e.g., 1.19.25 ἁμαρτήσῃς Z : ἁμαρτίας B; 2.2.13 κατάλειψον Ζ : κατάλληψον Β; 3.14.15-16 σιωπήσας Ζ : σιωπήσεις Β, etc.). Papathomopoulos' emendations are also worth commenting on: they consist of corrections (e.g., 1.19.24 δοθείσης scripsi : δοθέντος ΒΖ; 2.10.13 μείζων correxi : μείζονος ΒΖ; 4.3.9

προσεκτικῶς correxi : προσεκτὸς BZ, etc.), conjectures based on the Latin original (e.g., 4.27.13 Μανθάνειν conieci (discere Cato) : μάνθανε BZ; 4.46.26 ἐντροπῆς conieci (sine crimine Cato) : ἐντροπῇ BZ), and additions (e.g., 2.17.26 <χρῶ> καὶ δαπάνα …: χρῶ supplevi (utere Cato)).

An Index verborum translationis Planudeae (recensiones α et β) completes the book; it is based on Ortoleva's Index, corrected and supplemented by Papathomopoulos. In the parentheses following the Greek term Papathomopoulos has placed the original Latin term, unless Planudes failed to render the Latin term into a Greek one. At the end of the Index, there are photographs of ff. 1r, 2r, 3v, 5r, 6r, and 8r of An.

Overall, despite its minor faults, including some in the composition of the apparatus, Papathomopoulos's new edition of the Planoudean translation of Dicta Catonis is a valuable addition to the accurate establishment of this text. Through his corrections of misreadings of the previous edition and his additions and conjectures, Papathomopoulos has provided a text that will be of assistance to scholars interested in a reliable text that reveals a lot about the reception of Latin in Byzantium. That it is written in Greek should not limit its importance and accessibility to scholars worldwide.


1.   Maximus Planudes, Disticha Catonis in graecum translata, ed. Vincentius Ortoleva, Edizioni dell' Ateneo, Roma 1992.
2.   Though understandably general because they are outside the scope of the book, a more detailed approach of the issues discussed in this part of the introduction would be very much appreciated.
3.   Disticha Catonis, recensuit et apparatu critico instruxit M. Boas. Opus post Marci Boas mortem edendum curavit H. J. Botschuyver. Amstelodami 1952.
4.   T. Karanastases, "Ο Κάτον στη μεταβυζαντινή γραμματεία και η περίπτοση του παπα-Συναδινού," Aphieroma ston Emmanuel Kriara, Thessalonike 1988, 163-179.

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