Monday, May 19, 2014


Maria Chiara Scappaticcio, Papyri Vergilianae: l'apporto della Papirologia alla Storia della Tradizionee virgiliana (I-VI d.C.). Papyrologica Leodiensia, 1. Liège: Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2013. Pp. 339; 7 p. of plates. ISBN 9782875620149. €50.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Fabio Stok, Università di Roma Tor Vergata (

Version at BMCR home site

It is only in the editions of Virgil published in recent decades that textual variants from papyri have been included. The forerunner of this interest was Mario Geymonat, who registered 18 papyri in his Virgilian edition in 1973, and 29 in the revision published in 2008. It is therefore not surprising that this volume is dedicated to the memory of Geymonat, who died in 2012. The author, Maria Chiara Scappaticcio, is already known for several studies and editions of the Virgilian papyri (around 20 papers are included in the bibliography of the volume; others have been published later).

In this volume Scappaticcio provides a detailed catalogue and edition of 35 Virgilian fragments attested by papyri and other ancient testimonia. As usual in similar collections real papyri are considered together with other heterogeneous materials: besides 24 papyri the catalogue includes 7 parchment fragments (including the well-known palimpsest Ambrosianus L 120 sup.), the three Virgilian quotations in the Vindolanda wood tablets, and one ostracon (the O. Claud. I 190, discovered on the Mons Claudianus, in East Egypt). Some of the fragments have been known for more than a century, but many are recent discoveries: the P. Vindob. L 62 was published in 2009; a dozen fragments have become known since the eighties and nineties. All fragments have been re-examined directly by Scappaticcio, mostly autoptically, in part through photographic reproduction.

The catalogue lists the 35 fragments in accordance with the sequence of the Virgilian lines (in the order Aeneid- Bucolics-Georgics), as in the similar catalogues of the Livian and Sallustian papyri published in recent years by Rodolfo Funari. Most of the fragments concern the Aeneid, mainly from the first books (three fragments reproduce 1.1 or 1.1-2); there are only six fragments from the second part of the poem. The largest fragment is the one provided by P. Ness. II 2 (of the fifth-sixth century), which contains several sequences of lines from the first six books of the poem. P. Ness. II 2 is also the only papyrus which gives an original text considered Virgilian by the recent editors (Geymonat, Goold, Conte, Rivero et al.): noris in Aeneid 4.423 (already conjectured by Baehrens in 1887), instead of noras given by the manuscripts (Scappaticcio discussed this case in detail in Vichiana 10, 2008, pp. 171- 75).

After the fragments of the Aeneid (nn. 1-27), Scappaticcio publishes two further fragments which concern the Aeneid but are not precise transcriptions of it: PSI II 142 v (n. 28) is a sort of rhetorical rewriting of Aen. 1.477-493, written in the fifth or sixth century perhaps by an Egyptian scholar of Latin (the fragment is also of great palaeographical interest, for its cursive writing). PSI XIII 1307 (n. 29) is a calligraphic exercise of first century Egypt in which some names of the Aeneid are copied.

Two fragments concern the Bucolics: the parchment P. Strasb. inv. Lat. 2 (n. 30) containing Ecl. 5.17-34, first edited by Geymonat in 1973; and P. Narm. inv. 66.362 recto (n. 31), a fragment of a papyrus roll of the first century (the oldest Virgilian book we know of), of which there remains Ecl. 8.53-62.

There are four fragments of the Georgics: the first is the quotation of 1.125 in a Vindolanda tablet (n. 32); P. Allen s.n. (n. 33) containing 1.229-237 is what remains of a palimpsest codex of the fifth century; the four fragments of P. Ant. I 29 (n. 34) derive from a luxurious parchment codex of the fifth century, a typology similar to that of the oldest surviving Virgilian codices; and 4.1-2 is copied six times in the P. Tebt. II 686b recto as a calligraphic exercise by an Egyptian of the third century.

The catalogue is divided into two sections: the first (pp. 41-176) gives the inventory of the 35 papyri. Scappaticcio gives detailed papyrological and palaeographical information on each of them, with exhaustive bibliographical references. Their dating is also carefully discussed and reviewed, generally on palaeographical grounds (only the oldest papyrus is datable from an external clue: it is P. Masada II 721, where Aeneid 4.9 was probably copied as a calligraphic exercise by a Roman soldier who lived in the fortress which was destroyed in 73-74). Detailed information is also given with regard to the linguistic and textual peculiarities of the fragments.

The second section (pp. 177-290) offers, on the right-hand side of each page, the diplomatic edition of the fragment, with a rich critical apparatus also including conjectures proposed by scholars (the volume has a large format: 330x235 mm.). On the left-hand side of the page there is the corresponding Virgilian text established by Geymonat. The apparatus also includes the main variants of Virgil's ancient manuscripts.

The catalogue is introduced by a preface written by Rodolfo Funari (pp. 9-11), a short preamble by the author (pp. 13-15), and three introductory chapters: on the use of papyri in the philological studies (pp. 19-21), on the typology of witnesses (pp. 23-34), and on the editorial criteria she adopted (pp. 35-39). The variegated typology is also revealed by Funari in his preface: most of the fragments are school exercises, and in eleven cases the Virgilian text is combined with a Greek text, revealing the goal of teaching the Latin language to Greek speakers. Several fragments derive from military contexts, in the Orient (Egypt; Masada) and in Britain (Vindolanda), revealing a "Virgil of the armies" (as Scappaticcio puts it) which presents peculiar modalities of reception.

In the final part of the volume there are two other chapters. The first concerns the papyri including glosses or notes on the Virgilian text. The most interesting case is that of P. Ant. I 29, in which we read not only some glosses on the Georgics, but also an argumentum on Book 3, published by C. H. Roberts in 1950. There are only a few glosses that are difficult to read: in P. Ryl. III 478 + P. Cair. inv. 85644 + P. Med. I 1 and in P. Oxy. VIII 1098. The marginal notes of P. Strasb. inv. Lat. 2, already noted by Geymonat, remain unreadable. The last chapter is dedicated to the unpublished and quite unreadable fragments of P. Ness. II 1, and to the text of PSI II 142, a school paraphrase of Aeneid 1.477-493 about which scholars have proposed several conjectures registered by Scappaticcio in her apparatus. After a short conclusion (p. 303) the volume includes a concordance (with papyrological repertories and Geymonat's edition) (p. 305), the bibliography (pp. 307-19), and several indices (of quoted authors, scholars, places, topics, manuscripts and papyri) (pp. 323-36). Some fragments are reproduced in the seven tables.

Despite the presence of specific annotations to every fragment, there is not a general examination of the collocation of papyri in Virgil's textual tradition. 'This, of course, was not the stated aim of the book, but, even so, it offers considerable material for research of this type and will be therefore a useful tool for Virgil scholars.

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