Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Enara San Juan Manso, El Commentum Monacense a Terencio. Anejos de Veleia, Series Minor, 31. Vitoria; Gasteiz: Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, 2015. Pp. 572. ISBN 9788490821626. €26.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Gemma Bernadó Ferrer, Universidad de los Andes-Colombia (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

In 1883, Schlee produced the first critical edition of the Commentum Monacense (CM), the early medieval commentary on Terence, taking the manuscript Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14420 (known as M) as the primary witness, but using other manuscripts as well. Despite the methodological problems with Schlee's edition, it was only in 2001 that there appeared a new edition by Schorsch of the M version of Andria, Heautontimouroumenos and Phormio, the accessus and the glosses.

San Juan offers a critical edition of the whole CM contained in the manuscript Clm 14420 (M), ff. 79r-144v. The theoretical and conceptual framework points out to a very serious and thoughtful methodology and well-versed philological work. In the Introduction, San Juan provides the reader with the information needed to contextualize this commentary. Together with the Commentum Brunsianum, enclosed in the manuscript Halle, Marienkirche 65 (known as H) and edited by Bruns, the CM is one of the most valuable sources on the early medieval exegesis of Terence. From the ninth century onwards, there circulated revised versions of both texts. Later, in the fourteenth century, more defined commentaries and glosses were written by Giacomo Robazzi, Pietro da Moglio and Petrarca. San Juan refers to some interesting innovations made by this verse-by-verse commentary, the CM. As usual in commentaries of this period, glosses are devoted in large part to vocabulary –synonyms, definitions, paraphrases, antonyms, Greek into Latin translations or Greek loanwords–, and to grammar –especially to the partes orationis–, and to a lesser extent to problems of prosody or orthography, questions of word order and so on. Other types of glosses tend to be rarer in contemporary commentaries: those which refer to the attribution of the parts of a dialogue to individual speakers; to the intended intonation –indignando, interrogando, suspense–; or to variant readings from other manuscripts introduced by aliter and possibly by pro.

After presenting the state of the textual tradition of the CM, this section of the Introduction closes with San Juan's theoretical contribution, which has been already set out in a number of earlier articles. The study of the lemmata and the glosses allows the author to place the common model of M and the manuscript Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 7900 A (from now on Pc), M's closest relative, in a higher position within the stemma codicum. Then San Juan develops her hypotheses about the genesis of CM by positing three strata of composition. The first one, α, would be represented by the common material shared by M, H and the rest of the manuscripts used by Schlee for his edition. This pool of glosses could have been inherited from Late Antiquity. The second one, β, would consist of the common ground covered by H and Esc (Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, S III 23), which may have come into existence around the middle of the ninth century. The third one, γ, would point at the composition of CM, with material of α and β, and support and pinpoint precise the proposed CM place and time creation, i.e., the second half of the ninth century near Milan.

A full description section of the entire manuscript M – containing nine other grammatical and scholarly texts– follows the introduction. Finally a conspectus siglorum and a bibliography close this part before the edition.

San Juan's critical edition of CM is preceded by a section on the editing criteria, both formal and conceptual. The author has produced a critical edition based only on the manuscript Clm 14420. San Juan states in p. 72 "that the only right option in the critical edition of the CM is editing the text from M; in our opinion, any other decision would be wrong". In order to proceed San Juan produces an edition of M with a critical apparatus and general notes. In the critical apparatus, written in Spanish, San Juan offers problematic readings from M –obscure abbreviations, dislocations–, compares the M text with the Pc text, reports all the Pc variants and uses specifically this manuscript to reconstruct problematic passages in M. Moreover, San Juan includes variants from other manuscripts in significant passages, as well as conjectures by Schorsch. The lemmata are also included in this apparatus when they differ from the Pc and the Terence text –here represented usually by the edition of Kauer, Lindsay and Skutsch (1958). The general notes record possible sources and parallels for the glosses. For the lexical ones coincidences are noted with the Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum and Papias' Elementarium. For the other glosses, references to other commentaries or corpora of glosses, especially Donatus, Eugraphius or manuscripts such as Pc, H or Esc as well as interpretations and reconstructions have been also included. The careful edition provides a clear text of the glosses. Variants and significant features of the layout of the text are noted in the critical apparatus. A very thorough General Apparatus connects the M text to the ancient exegesis and to the grammatical and lexicographical tradition. An exhaustive Index of Terms closes the edition. Nevertheless, if a second edition should be envisioned, an Index of Passages Cited would be of great help.

In his preliminary study to a critical edition of the Commentum Cornuti in Persium, Zetzel describes the difficulty of editing commentaries: "it is not totally inaccurate to describe the Commentum as a text, but scholiastic manuscripts, both individually and as a group, as a process: they are created and exist over time; they are open texts, not closed ones; they offer the chance for active engagement by readers and owners to the extent that the reader can himself become at least a partial author. Hence a scholiastic text lacks the unity of a continuous commentary: it is a set of texts, not a text".1 This statement about the nature of the Commentary on Persius could also be transposed to the reviewed CM. The tradition of medieval commentaries on Terence displays a complex and interwoven structure, partly based on a pool of glosses and commentaries, which shift and merge, taking on multiple appearances in various manuscripts. Depending on the editor's conception of a commentary, a critical edition of it will take one form or another. It seems to me that San Juan's edition of one single manuscript resists this textual complexity, even though it has been exposed by herself in the Introduction and is reflected in the critical edition and apparatus. In accordance with this interdependent textual multiplicity, San Juan could have probably provided more arguments in favor of this one single manuscript-based edition and for the identification of M as the best representative CM manuscript. Besides San Juan's concern about the impossibility of finding the same text in different manuscripts could have been approached from an understanding of commentaries as textual process, rather than finished texts: two identical texts are just not to be found. In view of this, the question we need to ask is not which manuscript we should edit, but how to edit a textual process.

As Reeve has noted,2 the tradition of commentaries and scholia on Terence complicates rather than elucidates our understanding of the transmission of his text. However, to count on critical editions of them constitutes the first step towards the achievement of this goal. San Juan's critical edition is therefore welcome.

Table of Contents

El Commentum Monacense a Terencio
1. El Commentum Monacense y la comentarística medieval a Terencio
2. El accessus y las glosas del Commentum Monacense
3. El Commentum Monacense y su tradición
4. Los lemas del Commentum Monacense y el texto de Terencio
5. Formación, fuentes y posible origen del Commentum Monacense
München, BSB, Clm 14420, ff. 79-144
Commentum Monacense
Criterios de edición
Índice de términos


1.   J. E. G. Zetzel, Marginal scholarship and textual deviance: the Commentum Cornuti and the early scholia on Persius , BICS Supplement 84 (2005), p. 88.
2.   M. D. Reeve, "Terence", in L. D. Reynolds – N. G. Wilson, edd., Texts and transmission. A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford 1983, pp. 412-420.

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