Homer’s Text and Language

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3. Editing the Homeric Text: West’s Iliad*

3§1 Martin West’s edition of the Homeric Iliad (volume 1 / 1998; volume 2 / 2000) is not, and cannot be, the last word. Still, it serves its purpose in presenting a reconstruction of what one man deems to be the definitive text. The question remains, though: how do you define what exactly is definitive when you set out to reconstruct the text of the Homeric Iliad? How you edit Homer depends on your definition of Homer.

3§3 Here is West’s scenario for the Iliad of this master poet. The poem was written down in the course of the poet’s own lifetime. [5] Even during his {40|41} career, the poet had the opportunity to make his own changes in his master poem: there were major interpolations, says West, that the poet himself introduced into his written text from time to time. [6] After the master’s death, the scrolls (volumina) of his Iliad were abandoned to the whims of rhapsōidoi (ῥαψῳδοί) ‘rhapsodes’, who kept varying the text in their varied performances, much like the actors of a later era who kept varying the text left behind by Euripides (“rhapsodorum … qui Iliadem nihilo magis sacrosanctam habebant quam histriones Euripidem”). [7] The opportunities for introducing more and more interpolations kept widening. Meanwhile, the master’s composition eventually made its debut at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens toward the end of the seventh century, but only in bits and pieces at the start. [8] In the late sixth century, the era of the tyrant Hipparchus of Athens, the text was formally adopted for Panathenaic recitations and divided up into 24 rhapsodies; in other words, this system of division had nothing to do with the “primus poeta” himself. [9] The Athenian phase of transmission was consolidated in the sixth through the fourth centuries, with teachers playing a particularly significant role. [10] Throughout this period of Homeric transmission, the text suffered from Athenian accretions. [11]

3§4 Here ends my summary of West’s scenario, which serves as the premise for his edition of the Iliad. The editor’s task, in terms of this premise, is relatively straightforward: West sets out to reconstruct the seventh-century Ionic text of the master poet, which needs to be purged of its Athenian accretions, its rhapsodic variations, its editorial interpolations. I will now proceed to evaluate West’s premise, and his edition, against the historical background of previous editions of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey.

3§6 For the likes of Pierron, we could indeed go farther back, at least as far back as the era of Aristarchus of Samothrace, head of the Library of Alexandria around the middle of the second century BCE, who produced what Pierron thought was the definitive edition of the Homeric Iliad. Pierron’s own edition of the Iliad (1869) was meant to be the closest thing to an edition of the Iliad by Aristarchus.

3§13 Yet another case of pessimism is West’s edition of the Iliad. He too is generally pessimistic about the Alexandrian editions of Homer. On the other hand, West is relatively optimistic about his own edition. He seems confident that he has recovered the closest thing to the putatively original Iliad. To that extent, he is like Villoison and his followers. Unlike Villoison, however, West has attained his own version of the “original” without relying on Aristarchus as a primary source of support. West’s Iliad shares with van Thiel’s version a general stance of diffidence about the textual variants that go back to Aristarchus—not to mention Alexandrian variants in general.

3§15 What makes some Aristarchean readings, but not most of the others, a matter of “bona traditio” and not “coniectura”? West’s approach to deciding what is good or bad tradition, what is traditional and what is conjectural, does not seem to me systematic. That is, his decisions about good or {44|45} bad textual traditions are not based on external evidence. I can find no unambiguous instance where West prefers an Aristarchean variant for the simple reason that it stems from one manuscript tradition or another—or at least on the grounds that it derives from an ancient editorial source that guarantees pre-existing manuscript traditions no longer known to us. In the end, it all comes down to whether West believes that any given variant—Aristarchean or otherwise—happens to recover the right wording. It does not matter for him, ultimately, whether such a variant happens to be a “coniectura,” putatively deriving from some Alexandrian editor, maybe even from Aristarchus himself, or rather an authentic reading that the Alexandrians might have found preserved in a “bona traditio” no longer known to us. Ultimately, the goodness of the given tradition depends on whether West thinks that the given reading is right in the first place. He is not concerned whether a reading comes from an ancient source or from a conjecture, ancient or modern, as long as it is right. For him, a conjecture offered by, say, Richard Payne Knight (1820) can in theory be just as right as a reading found by Aristarchus in some ancient source.

3§16 A typical emendation by Payne Knight, accepted by West, is τεόν for τὸ σόν (which is the reading transmitted by the manuscripts) at I 185, on the analogy of τεόν at I 138; also at I 207 (in this case, both τεόν and τὸ σόν are attested as manuscript variants). The problem is, the syntax of Homeric τό as article—even though it is less archaic than the syntax of τό as a demonstrative pronoun—pervades the formulaic system of Homeric poetry and thus cannot simply be eliminated everywhere by emendation. [23] In general, Homeric diction is linguistically multi-layered, allowing older and newer phenomena to coexist (for example, the older forms τοί and ταί function only as demonstrative pronouns, while the newer forms οἱ and αἱ function either as articles or, by default, as demonstrative pronouns). Thus the sum total of phonological, morphological, and syntactical functions in the formulaic system of Homeric poetry cannot simultaneously be reduced to their oldest phase. Such is the problem with the efforts of Payne Knight (and West) in emending Homeric phrases into a state of conformity with a pre-existing article-free phase of their existence. This kind of effort reveals a general sense of dissatisfaction with the anomalies of existing systems—a dissatisfaction so strong that it verges on an impulse to recover what is irrecoverable. Such an impulse can lead to an overextended idea about what is genuine—and what cannot be so. Payne Knight is the man who said to Elgin about the Acropolis Marbles: “You have lost your labour, my Lord {45|46} Elgin. Your marbles are overrated: they are not Greek: they are Roman of the time of Hadrian.” [24]

3§18 Ludwich’s edition of the Iliad explicitly follows the editorial method of Aristarchus himself. Essentially, Aristarchus sought to balance the internal evidence of Homeric poetry, as a system of composition and diction, with the external evidence of the Homeric texts, as a sampling of manuscripts. The Aristarchean method is most clearly documented by Ludwich himself (1884, 1885), who went on to apply that method in his own edition of the Iliad (1902). Like Aristarchus, he tried to balance two different kinds of evidence. On the one hand, he made editorial decisions based on his own sense of the internal evidence of Homeric composition and diction. On the other hand, such decisions were regulated by the external evidence of the Homeric manuscripts—to the fullest extent of their availability. Here is where we begin to see a major difference between the editorial methods of Ludwich and West.

3§19 For the neo-Aristarcheans, the question of the availability of manuscripts is essential. Obviously, the external evidence available to Aristarchus was different from what was available to Ludwich—and what is now available to West. But the essential question remains, what exactly was in fact available to Aristarchus? The general conclusion reached by the neo-Aristarcheans is that Aristarchus himself had access to a wealth of manuscripts, containing a wealth of variant readings, and much of this evidence is no longer available to us. For the neo-Aristarcheans, the central source of this information must be Aristarchus himself.

3§20 Here we come back to the question: why is it that West chooses to bypass the neo-Aristarcheans? An answer that now emerges is this: it is because he {46|47} has chosen also to bypass the authority of Aristarchus as a reliable guardian of the Homeric textual transmission. West’s reasons for this radical departure have to do mainly with his theory about an Aristarchean whose work we have already considered, Didymus. For West, as we will now see, it was not Aristarchus but Didymus who must be recognized as the central source of our surviving information about ancient Homeric manuscripts and editions. The implications of this stance are far-reaching. At stake here is the authority of Aristarchus himself as an editor of Homer.

3§21 Before we consider the details of West’s theory, we need to review some basic information about the methodology of Aristarchus and about the role of Didymus in reporting on that methodology.

3§23 West’s theory, as we will see, depends on how you answer this question: what facts can we learn from Didymus about Aristarchus? In order to introduce the theory, I will now highlight two of these facts.

3§29 West’s theory about Didymus leaves out of consideration—and is contradicted by—the testimony of Didymus himself, as mediated by the Homeric scholia, concerning the methodology of Aristarchus. A most explicit statement of Aristarchus’ editorial policy comes from the scholia A at IX 222, where Didymus says ἄμεινον οὖν εἶχεν ἄν, φησὶν ὁ Ἀρίσταρχος, [εἰ] ἐγέγραπτο “ἂψ ἐπάσαντο” ἢ “αἶψ’ ἐπάσαντο,” … ἀλλ’ ὅμως ὑπὸ περιττῆς εὐλαβείας οὐδὲν μετέθηκεν, ἐν πολλαῖς οὕτως εὑρὼν φερομένην τὴν γραφήν ‘it would have been better, says Aristarchus, if it had been written “ἂψ ἐπάσαντο” or “αἶψ’ ἐπάσαντο”; nevertheless, because of his extreme caution, he changed nothing, having found in many of the texts this attested way of writing it [= “ἐξ ἔρον ἕντο” instead of “ἂψ ἐπάσαντο”]’. The last part of this statement, as highlighted, is quoted in the apparatus criticus of Ludwich but not in that of West. The wording is crucial: we see here the most explicit testimony, coming from Didymus himself, concerning Aristarchus’ practice of comparing variant readings by examining a wide range of manuscripts. At a later point in this book, in another context, {49|50} I will argue about this testimony: “The wording assumes that some of the texts did indeed feature ἂψ ἐπάσαντο instead of ἐξ ἔρον ἕντο. I infer that Aristarchus ‘changed nothing’ (οὐδὲν μετέθηκεν) even though he could have made a change on the basis of manuscript attestations of a variant reading. Moreover, he is quoted as considering the variant reading as a contrary-to-fact proposition. Accordingly, it seems unjustified to describe such readings as his own editorial conjectures.” [36] I should add that the verb metatithenai in the Homer scholia means ‘emend’—not ‘conjecture’—when applied to the editorial activities of Aristarchus. [37] Also, whenever Aristarchus did make conjectures, he did not put them into his edited text. [38]

3§30 There is further evidence against West’s Didymus theory, provided by the ipsissima verba of Aristarchus. Here I cite a quotation from Aristarchus himself, as preserved in the scholia A at Iliad I 423–424. The quotation, designated as the lexis ‘wording’ of Aristarchus, is introduced this way: λέξις Ἀριστάρχου ἐκ τοῦ Α τῆς Ἰλιάδος ὑπομνήματος ‘here is the lexis of Aristarchus, from his commentary [hupomnēma] on volume Α of the Iliad’. The expression λέξις Ἀριστάρχου ‘the lexis of Aristarchus’ here and elsewhere seems to convey the idea that the hupomnēmata ‘commentaries’ of Aristarchus were not only commentaries written down in papyrus scrolls but also, at least notionally, commentaries delivered as lectures by Aristarchus, as if these lectures were meant to be transcribed by his students. [39] As the {50|51} quotation proceeds, it is difficult to determine exactly where the words of Aristarchus himself leave off, to be picked up by the words of Didymus. [40] This much is certain, however: the person who is being quoted, after expressing his preference for the variant reading κατὰ δαῖτα instead of μετὰ δαῖτα, goes on to say: οὕτως δὲ εὕρομεν καὶ ἐν τῇ Μασσαλιωτικῇ καὶ Σινωπικῇ καὶ Κυπρίᾳ καὶ Ἀντιμαχείῳ καὶ Ἀριστοφανείῳ ‘this is the way we found it in the Massaliōtikē and the Sinōpikē and the Kupria and the Antimakheios [Ἀντιμάχειος = text of Antimachus of Colophon] and the Aristophaneios [Ἀριστοφάνειος = text of Aristophanes of Byzantium]’. [41] As Ludwich argues, the context of οὕτως δὲ εὕρομεν ‘this is the way we found it’ makes it clear that the subject of this verb is Aristarchus, not Didymus. [42] The first person of εὕρομεν ‘we found’ comes from the direct quotation of words ‘spoken’ (notionally and I would say perhaps even literally) by the master teacher. In other words, the rhetoric of the quotation is set in the mode of a master’s ipse dixit. [43]

3§31 The distinction between what was said by Aristarchus and what defaults to Didymus is collapsed in the apparatus criticus of West, who reports (and chooses for his text proper) the variant κατὰ δαῖτα at Iliad I 424 on the authority of the following (I list them in the order given by West): Antimachus of Colophon, Aristophanes of Byzantium, Aristarchus, Callistratus, Dionysius Sidonius, Ixion, four papyrus fragments, Apollonius Sophista, manuscripts “V” (= V1 Allen) and “Z” (= Ve1 Allen). In other words, Aristarchus is represented here and elsewhere as a source, not as a collator of sources. West juxtaposes (and rejects) the variant μετὰ δαῖτα, reported on the authority of three papyrus fragments, various ancient Homer-quotations, and the “Ω” family of manuscripts (more on which later: this family approximates Ludwich’s concept of “vulgate”). A casual reader of West’s apparatus is left with the impression that it was Didymus, not Aristarchus, whose collation of manuscripts set the framework for choosing between the variants, and that it was Didymus who chose κατὰ δαῖτα while all along being fully aware of μετὰ δαῖτα—to which variant West applies his ubiquitous formula: “novit Didymus.” {51|52}

3§35 Bolling’s theory of Homeric “interpolations” needs to be refined in terms of two related considerations: (1) the principle of numerus versuum and (2) the distinction between the editorial procedures of athetesis and deletion. As Apthorp argues, the Homer edition of Aristarchus became the standard source for subsequent applications of the editorial principle of numerus versuum, and literary authorities like Plutarch were well aware of this principle. [49] Apthorp emphasizes that Aristarchus in his Homer edition not only athetizes some verses (that is, marks them with an obelus but keeps them in the text proper): he also deletes (“omits”) some other verses altogether. The criterion for deletion (“omission”) was based on manuscript evidence. To quote Apthorp, “Aristarchus … omitted only lines which he found very weakly attested.” [50] Such lines are “plus verses.” [51] Apthorp goes on to argue that “the numerous lines absent from all our mss. which we know to have been pre-Aristarchean but absent from Aristarchus’s edition—some cited by the scholia, some present in extant Ptolemaic papyri, some included in ancient quotations or discussions of Homer—stand condemned as interpolations alongside the weakly-attested lines of the mediaeval mss.” [52] Whether or not we choose to think of these “plus verses” in terms of “interpolations,” the point for now is simply this: Aristarchus’ foundational research in determining the editorial principle of numerus versuum must have required a large-scale collection and collation of manuscripts—as many and as varied as he could find. [53] {53|54}

3§40 As the discussion proceeds, it will be evident that I do not agree with Ludwich’s views concerning the inherent superiority of Aristarchean readings over their vulgate counterparts. I focus here simply on his systematic application of the actual distinction between Aristarchean and vulgate readings. This distinction continues to be most useful, as we will see, for studying the phenomenon of vertical—and horizontal—variation in the history of the Homeric textual tradition.

3§45 For West, there is no need to go back to the edition of Aristarchus in order to recover the text of Homer. He thinks that the closest thing to an original Iliad is his own reconstruction of the text composed by the “primus poeta.” West’s belief that the poet of the Iliad produced a written composition helps explain this editor’s optimism about reconstructing the ipsissima verba of a prototypical poet. Aristarchus’ own belief was probably similar to West’s, to the extent that he too posited a written text produced by the prototypical poet. He too aimed to reconstruct the poet’s ipsissima verba, relying on the external evidence of available manuscripts as well as the internal evidence of the composition and the diction. West relies on the same two kinds of evidence, but he differs from Aristarchus in how he uses that evidence. Further, he differs from Aristarchus (and the neo-Aristarcheans) in how he responds to this basic question confronting an editor of Homeric poetry: how is one to judge the variants of the overall manuscript tradition? In general, West’s version of the Iliad shows less flexibility in allowing for variation, while that of Aristarchus shows relatively more. It comes as no surprise, then, that West’s version of the master poet’s ipsissima verba frequently differs from the version of Aristarchus.

3§46 I submit that Aristarchus’ ancient edition of the Iliad, if it had survived complete in the format designed by him, would in many ways surpass West’s present edition. It would be a more useful—and more accurate—way to contemplate the Iliad in its full multiformity.

3§48 In the Homeric textual transmission, we can find many signs of oral poetry, but West consistently prefers to explain such signs in terms of written poetry. For example, with reference to the mechanics of “movable ν (nu)” in the Homeric text, West adduces the evidence of the mid-seventh-century Nikandre inscription (CEG 403): the poetry of this inscription, composed in the Ionic dialect, shows that movable ν was already being used in this early period for the sake of preventing hiatus caused by the loss of digamma in this dialect. There is evidence for arguing that the technology of writing in such early inscriptions was used not for the actual composition but only for the recording of poetry. [73] West ignores such arguments, assuming that the use of movable ν in such an early poetic inscription is proof that the analogous use of movable ν in Homeric diction was likewise a matter of written poetry:

West assumes that the Nikandre inscription is a case of written rather than oral poetics, and he implies that the dating of the Nikandre inscription therefore gives him a terminus ante quem for the writing down of the Iliad. I disagree. The justification for leaving such ν forms in the text is to be found in the internal and comparative evidence of oral poetics, not in the fact that we can find such ν forms in a poetic inscription that West thinks is contemporaneous with the composition of the Iliad. It can be argued that the {58|59} “insertions” of such particles and of morphophonemic elements like movable ν are part of an overall formulaic system and have nothing to do with the technology of writing. For parallels to be found in the living traditions of South Slavic oral poetry as recorded by Parry and Lord, I refer to an interesting discussion of hiatus-breakers (= “bridging consonants”) that prevent the occurrence of glottal stops. [

3§50 In terms of oral poetics, there is an important reason for keeping track of all horizontal and vertical variations in the Homeric textual transmission as attested in the medieval manuscripts, the ancient quotations, and the papyrus fragments. The reason is simple: in principle, any surviving variant in the Homeric textual transmission may represent an authentic form generated by Homeric poetry.

3§52 Even from the standpoint of West’s theory of a written text produced by the “primus poeta,” there is an important reason for keeping track of all vertical and horizontal variations in the Homeric textual transmission as attested in the medieval manuscripts, the ancient quotations, and the papyrus fragments. Again, the reason is simple, and I formulate it in West’s terms: in principle, any surviving variant in the Homeric textual transmission may represent the authentic form that goes back to the prototypical text of the prototypical poet. In terms of West’s editorial stance, there can be ultimately only one authentic form in each case of variation, that is, the form that goes {59|60} back to the “primus poeta.” For West, the horizontal and vertical variants in Homeric textual transmission are important only insofar as one given variant in each case may be the right form, while all other variants would have to be wrong forms. Even where West is not sure whether a given variant is right or wrong, he is forced to take a stand on whether it has a better or worse chance of being the right reading: for him there can exist better or worse variants even where the difference between right and wrong variants cannot be determined.

3§55 I would never want to say it that way—that there was no original text of Homer. Obviously, at some point in history, there had to be a first time for textually recording what we know as the Iliad and Odyssey. But the basic {60|61} problem remains: such an Iliad and Odyssey were not the same texts that we know as our Iliad and Odyssey.

3§59 In terms of oral poetics, moreover, the compositional phenomena of expansion and compression correspond respectively to the lengthening and shortening of the number of verses in expressing a given essential idea. In terms of textual history, such cases of lengthening and shortening could be reinterpreted as corresponding respectively to the scribal phenomena of interpolation and omission. From a diachronic point of view, however, the actual adding or subtracting of verses is basically a matter of variation, and we may think of the longer and shorter versions as vertical variants.

3§65 Throughout this discussion, we have seen how the testimony of the Homer scholia concerning Aristarchus’ editorial policy on vertical variants helps us better understand his corresponding policy on horizontal variants. To summarize both editorial policies, I offer the following template:

3§67 Here we have an opportunity to compare West’s general editorial stance with that of Aristarchus as I have just outlined it. Ironically, West comes closest to an Aristarchean editorial principle precisely in those situations where he has to make a choice between an Aristarchean and a non-Aristarchean variant. In other words, he resorts to Aristarchean methodology in order to reject Aristarchean variants. When he is forced to choose between an Aristarchean and a non-Aristarchean variant, he tends to rely more than usual on the external evidence—and less than usual on the internal. In other words, in such situations he is more likely to allow the relative strength or weakness of manuscript attestation to influence his choice. If the Aristarchean variant is weakly attested, he tends to reject it. If it is strongly attested, he tends to adopt it. That is because, for West, an Aristarchean variant is like any other variant.

3§68 By contrast, if we follow the neo-Aristarcheans, then any variant reported by Aristarchus has a special status, because it may indeed come from ancient manuscripts or manuscript traditions that were known to Aristarchus and are no longer known to us. In those ancient traditions, the relative strength or weakness of manuscript attestations may indeed have been markedly different from what is available to modern editors like West.

3§73 West’s answer is no: “we are not in the position to restore the original version.” He goes on to ask: “Should we then be aiming to recover the Athenian text of the epics, as they were recited at the Panathenaea after Hipparchus, or at any rate as they were known to Thucydides, the orators, and Plato?” The answer, again, is no: “the text at this period was in a far from settled state.” West explains that “there was no single ‘Athenian text’.” And “the text” becomes only more unsettled thereafter, in the era of the early Ptolemaic papyri: now it is “characterized by so-called ‘wild’ variants (think of wild flowers rather than wild poets, perhaps), diverging from the medieval vulgate not in narrative substance but with substitution of formulae, inorganic additional lines, and so forth.” So, finally, we have come all the way down to the Alexandrian editors. West now asks the inevitable follow-up question: “Should our aim, then, be to reconstruct the Alexandrian text?” One last time, the answer is no: “But again, there is no single Alexandrian text, even if some agreement was reached in terms of {67|68} Versbestand.” West explains: “We know of many variant readings current in the Alexandrian period, from which we must make our choice.” So it seems that there has never been any single text, not since the Urtext. In the face of all this multiformity sketched by West in his survey of Homeric textual history, we may well ask: how and even why must we “make our choice”? What kind of uniformity should an editor try to reconstruct? West’s answer is guarded:

West is eager to cross the fence and move on to that far side, where the wild flowers grow—and far beyond that, far beyond the horizon. He leaves behind whatever we can still see on this side of the fence, the ruins of gardens once teeming with cultivated flowers tended by the Alexandrian editors. As we have already noted, West has not much use for Aristarchus, and even less for Aristophanes of Byzantium; as for Zenodotus of Ephesus, that Alexandrian editor is practically of no use at all. [
108] West asks: “why limit our ambition to reconstructing an Alexandrian text, stopping five hundred years short of the originals, when we have at least a modicum of evidence that takes us further back?” [109]

3§74 The problem is, trying to go further back to “the originals,” to a single text, is an impossible task, when all you have is a “modicum of evidence.” To wander off on such a quest is to leave untended the evidence that is closer at hand, available from the Alexandrians. In terms of West’s own reconstruction, as we have seen, there is no evidence for a “single text.” For him, the last time there was any single text was the time of the hypothetical Urtext. Similarly for Janko, we need to go back to an Urtext—this time, by way of a prototypical dictation, in terms of his own theory.

3§76 As we come back to the realities of multiformity described by West in his sketch of Homeric textual history, I must repeat my question: what kind of uniformity should an editor try to reconstruct? The answer, I submit, is that the evidence of textual multiformity precludes a uniform reconstruction, a “unitext” edition of Homer. Instead, the editor of Homer needs to keep coming back, I submit, to the facts of textual multiformity. The basic source for these facts, however incompletely preserved they may be, remains Aristarchus. Revenons à cultiver notre jardin.

3§78 One, Aristarchus knew far more about the ancient manuscript evidence than we do.

3§79 Two, on the basis of all his manuscript evidence, Aristarchus could not and would not produce a single unified text of Homer. He left room for choices among variants—both horizontal and vertical—in his hupomnēmata.

3§80 Three, on the basis of all the manuscript evidence available to us, which I think is less informative than the manuscript evidence available to Aristarchus, editors like West are forced to admit that they cannot produce a single unified text of Homer. The unity of their “unitext” editions is achieved by way of reconstructions and conjectures based on considerations of chronology, dialect, historical provenance, and so forth.

3§82 In introducing this concept of a multitext edition, I stress again the textual multiformity of the Homeric poems, which as I have argued indicates a heritage of oral poetics. Although the Alexandrians did not think in terms of oral poetics, their editorial work on textual variants provides evidence of this heritage:

My concluding sentences here about diachrony were used already earlier, in Chapter Two, where I was making the point that Homeric multiformity needs to be viewed diachronically as well as synchronically. The need for a diachronic perspective in analyzing Homeric poetry was the impetus for my developing an evolutionary model for the making of this poetry. As I said in Chapter Two, this model was designed to account for all variations that stem from the performance traditions of Homeric poetry.

3§83 The multiformity of variations in the oral poetic context of composition-in-performance cannot be viewed exclusively from a synchronic perspective. [117] A multitext edition of Homer is needed to provide a diachronic perspective on this multiformity. Ideally, a multitext edition of Homer should be formatted to display most clearly all the surviving textual variants, both vertical and horizontal. It should have a base text (texte de base) that is free of arbitrary judgments, such as the choosing of one variant over another on the basis of the editor’s personal sense of what is right or wrong, better or worse. In other words, the base text needs to be formatted to show all locations where variants are attested, and all the variants that can be slotted into those locations—without privileging any of these variants. Working within the framework of “hupomnēmata,” editors of the base text may then proceed to analyze the variants from a diachronic perspective, making their own considered judgments about differences in the chronology, dialect, historical provenance, and so forth. For such a multitext edition, the most convenient base text would be the relatively most standard and common manuscript tradition. For Aristarchus, that base text was essentially the koinē version of Homer—what neo-Aristarcheans call the “vulgate.” [118] As of this writing, the closest thing to such a base text is the Homer of van Thiel. [119] Something much closer to an ideal, however, would be the edition of Aristarchus, if only it had survived. In fact, Aristarchus’ edition of Homer would have been the closest thing to what I am describing here as an ideal multitext edition.

3§84 If van Thiel’s Homer were chosen as the most convenient base text for a modern multitext edition, where could we go from there? What models could we find for the “hupomnēmata” to accompany such a base text? The {71|72} apparatus criticus of West’s Homer seems a most elegant model, at least as a starting point. But there are problems, as we see from the interplay of his apparatus criticus with his testimonia, that is, with his display of the ancient quotations of Homer.

3§85 The testimonia take up a separate middle band on each page of West’s Iliad (his edited text is of course in the upper band, while his apparatus criticus is in the lower band). This middle band turns out to be of limited value to the editor—let alone the editor’s readers. After all, West thinks that most ancient quotations are of limited value in the first place. [120] In his 1898 book, Die Homervulgata als voralexandrinisch erwiesen, Ludwich had already published an exhaustive collection of ancient quotations, down to the Augustan period. Ludwich’s mass of cross-references, now further supplemented, has been assimilated by West into the middle band of his Iliad. [121] Ludwich’s original motive—and premise—in making his 1898 collection had been simple: he thought that these ancient quotations would help further recover the pre-Alexandrian vulgate. Since West does not operate on this premise, his updating of Ludwich’s repertoire merely exemplifies the law of diminishing returns. The ubiquitous references to “t” and “tt” (“testimonium” and “testimonia”) in the lower band containing the apparatus criticus, drawing our attention upward into the middle band containing the testimonia, hardly make a difference whenever it comes to the question of what reading is finally chosen by West in the upper band containing the edited text proper. Typically, “t” or “tt” simply join the chorus of “Ω” readings in privileging the vulgate version of Homer. For West, they seldom make a difference. [122] By contrast, wherever an ancient quotation does make a difference in Ludwich’s Iliad, that editor simply confronts it directly in his apparatus criticus (his Iliad does not feature a separate middle band of testimonia, which he published separately, as we have seen, in 1898). In this respect, Ludwich’s policy seems more economical—and elegant.

3§86 Although the “lower band” of West’s three-band Iliad, his apparatus criticus, is a most valuable contribution to our knowledge of the Homeric textual tradition, the “upper band,” his base text, is of questionable value. The text of West’s Iliad contains many editorial judgments that go beyond the manuscript evidence and that flatten out the textual history of Homer. Here is where his “unitext” edition differs most radically from a multitext edition. {72|73}

3§88 At one extreme, then, West’s edition tends to underestimate the chronological diversity of the Homeric tradition. At the other extreme, however, it occasionally lapses into overestimations that defy credibility. In particular, the relatively older forms tend to be treated without sufficient regard for the operative system of Homeric diction. For example, West claims that the Luvian particle tar (which he translates as “usquam”) is a cognate of the Homeric particle ταρ, and that the Luvian usage of tar is key to understanding the Greek usage of ταρ in the Iliad, as at I 8, 65, 123, and so forth. [126] In printing ταρ instead of τἄρ in these contexts, West is following the testimony of Apollonius and Herodian, according to whom the particle ταρ counts as one word, by contrast with τἄρ. The particle τἄρ counts as two words, τ’ (from τε) plus ἄρ. If Homeric ταρ is really cognate with Luvian tar, then it cannot be related etymologically to Homeric τἄρ. And yet, I see no convincing way of separating completely the Homeric contexts of this ταρ from Homeric contexts of τἄρ where the constituents τ’ (from τε) plus ἄρ {73|74} are transparently functional, as at Iliad I 93, III 398, and so forth. Moreover, the etymology of γάρ, another particle that counts as one word, can serve as evidence against the etymological separation of ταρ from τἄρ: in the case of γάρ, the constituents are transparently γ’ (from γε) plus ἄρ. [127] Just as some usages of γάρ preserve the syntax of the constituent γε (as in the case of ὁ γάρ via ὅγε plus ἄρ), [128] so also some usages of τἄρ preserve the syntax of the constituent τε (as in the case of τἄρ at ΙΙΙ 398). [129] Further, just as other usages of γάρ no longer preserve the syntax of the constituent γε, so also it is possible that other usages of τἄρ no longer preserve the syntax of the constituent τε; whence the special status of Homeric ταρ. [130] Here and elsewhere, there are problems with West’s application of linguistics in the process of rewriting the received text of the Iliad. [131]

3§89 Concluding, I should stress that my criticisms of West’s Iliad are not meant to detract from the praise he deserves. I gratefully acknowledge all his valuable contributions to Homeric scholarship. Even the size of this review-essay can be taken as a tribute to the editor’s industry and learning. West’s Iliad is a most useful and important edition. Still, it cannot be considered an authoritative replacement of previous editions of the Iliad. Many of those—including the 1902 Teubner text of Ludwich and the 1920 Oxford Classical Text of Monro/Allen—will continue to have their uses. {74|75}


[ back ] * The original version of this essay is N 2000a, reviewing West 1998b.

[ back ] 1. West 1999b.

[ back ] 2. HQ 111–112.

[ back ] 3. Again, West 1999b.

[ back ] 4. West 1998b.v.

[ back ] 5. West 1998b.v.

[ back ] 6. West 1998b.v.

[ back ] 7. West 1998b:v.

[ back ] 8. West 1998b:vi.

[ back ] 9. West 1998b:vi n3; cf. West 1999b:382.

[ back ] 10. West 1998b:vi.

[ back ] 11. West 1998b:vi.

[ back ] 12. Wolf’s Iliad and Odyssey editions are not nearly as well known as the separately published Prolegomena: cf. Janko 1998d (= BMCR 98.6.17) correcting Janko 1998a (= BMCR 98.5.20), where he had denied the existence of these editions in the context of attempting to correct what I had to say (N 1997d = Ch.1 in this book) about the influence of Wolf’s editions on later Homer editions like the Oxford Classical Text of Monro and Allen 1920.

[ back ] 13. Pierron 1869:cxl.

[ back ] 14. See Ch.1, p. 22.

[ back ] 15. For the quotation from Proclus and for further references, see Ch.1, p. 11n31.

[ back ] 16. See again Ch.1.

[ back ] 17. The relevant passage from Josephus, Against Apion 1.12–13, quoted above, needs to be interpreted in its own right, aside from the interpretations of Villoison and Wolf; as far as Josephus himself is concerned, the point he is making is that the ancient Greeks, unlike the Jews, did not have a continuous written tradition going all the way back to a prototypical authorship (see Wyrick 1999). Josephus leaves it open whether there had been an “original” Homeric text, and his wording points to a variation on the theme of the Peisistratean Recension, which I view as a cultural construct based on the mythical idea of a prototypical text that had disintegrated on account of neglect, only to be reintegrated later by an enlightened ruler (N 1998a:227–228; in this discussion I include references, with bibliography, to the alternative view that the Recension was a historical event).

[ back ] 18. See again Ch.1.

[ back ] 19. See again Ch.1.

[ back ] 20. Monro and Allen 1920. For a defense of Allen’s overall editorial work, which has been severely criticized by e.g. Wilson 1990, see again Haslam 1997:89–91.

[ back ] 21. More on this reading in Ch.5 below.

[ back ] 22. West 1998b:vii n9.

[ back ] 23. On the “article” in Homeric diction, see Schwyzer/Debrunner 1966:20–22.

[ back ] 24. Cook 1984:80.

[ back ] 25. On Pierron and Ludwich, see Ludwich 1885:82, 91, 168; for more on the Königsberg School, see Ludwich 1885:199.

[ back ] 26. Ludwich 1884:vii–viii.

[ back ] 27. Broggiato 1998:41; N 1999b:260, HR 50–55.

[ back ] 28. N 1998a:219–223.

[ back ] 29. West 1998b:viii.

[ back ] 30. PP 129n99.

[ back ] 31. See Ch.1, with reference to Lührs 1992:10. For a persuasive reconstruction of the history of Aristarchus’ Homeric hupomnēmata, see Montanari 1998:11–20. See further below at p. 85.

[ back ] 32. PP 194–195, following Allen 1924:315–320.

[ back ] 33. As Montanari 1998:10 argues with reference to the procedures of Aristarchus, the margin of his edited text would not have been suitable for displaying variants; it would have been suitable only for critical signs that refer to the relevant discussion in the hupomnēmata. To put it another way: when it comes to the transmission of editorial judgments, marginal notes would not be as useful as marginal signs that refer to an authoritative discussion in the hupomnēmata.

[ back ] 34. West 1998b:vi.

[ back ] 35. West 1998b:vi.

[ back ] 36. N 1998b = Ch.5 below.

[ back ] 37. Ludwich 1885:97.

[ back ] 38. Ludwich 1885:92.

[ back ] 39. Here are other survivals of quotations of Aristarchus by Didymus, introduced by the tag ‘lexis of Aristarchus’: scholia at Iliad II 125, Ἀριστάρχου λέξεις ἐκ τῶν ὑπομνημάτων … ‘the lexeis of Aristarchus, from his hupomnēmata …’; at Iliad II 245, οὕτως αἱ Ἀριστάρχου λέξεις ἐκ τοῦ Β τῆς Ἰλιάδος … ‘this is the way the lexeis of Aristarchus have it, from volume Β of the Iliad …’; at Iliad III 406, προσθήσειν μοι δοκῶ καὶ τὴν Ἀριστάρχου λέξιν οὕτως ἔχουσαν … ‘I think the lexis of Aristarchus will also add [to the evidence], which has it this way …’ See also at Iliad II 111, ἔν τινι τῶν ἠκριβωμένων ὑπομνημάτων γράφει ταῦτα κατὰ λέξιν … ‘in one of the hupomnēmata that have been corrected for greater accuracy, he [= Aristarchus] writes this, and I quote according to the lexis …’ (again, a quotation from Aristarchus follows; earlier in this context, we read in the discussion of Didymus: παρ’ ὃ δὴ καὶ κατά τινα τῶν ὑπομνημάτων μετειλῆφθαι τὸ μέγα ἀντὶ τοῦ μεγάλως. τὸ δὲ οὐκ ἔχει τἀκριβὲς οὕτως. εἰ γὰρ τὰ συγγράμματα τῶν ὑπομνημάτων προτάτ[τ]οιμεν, ἕνεκα γοῦν τἀκριβοῦς γράφοιμεν κατὰ Ἀρίσταρχον … ‘here, according to some of the hupomnēmata, the sense of ‘great’ has been switched to ‘in a great way’; but it is not accurate this way; for if we prefer his [= Aristarchus’] monographs [sungrammata] to his commentaries [hupomnēmata], then we should write, for the sake of accuracy, in following the judgment of Aristarchus, …’). In this last example, the expression γράφει ταῦτα κατὰ λέξιν ‘he [= Aristarchus] writes this, and I quote according to the lexis’ implies that Aristarchus is ‘speaking’ (hence κατὰ λέξιν = verbatim) the exegetical remarks that are about to be quoted, but he is also ‘writing’ (hence γράφει) these remarks in the sense that they are now being read in the quotation. We may paraphrase in English: ‘he writes, and I quote from what he says’. My point is, the expression κατὰ λέξιν insists on the idea of ipse dixit.

[ back ] 40. See Ludwich 1884:194–196; cf. also Erbse 1969–1988 I 119–120.

[ back ] 41. The Homer edition of Antimachus of Colophon seems to have been a specially prized possession of the Library of Alexandria, treated as a counterweight to the Homer edition of Euripides, a prized possession of the Library of Pergamon: see Bolling 1925:38–39.

[ back ] 42. Ludwich 1884:194–196.

[ back ] 43. More on this passage in Ch.4.

[ back ] 44. See above, note 39.

[ back ] 45. More on this passage in Ch.4.

[ back ] 46. Apthorp 1980; see also his articles as listed in the Bibliography.

[ back ] 47. Bolling 1950:1–16.

[ back ] 48. I focus here only on Bolling’s reconstruction of the length of this hypothetical “Π Text”; his reconstruction of the actual diction of the text seems to me far less useful.

[ back ] 49. Apthorp 1998:187.

[ back ] 50. I use the term “delete” instead of “omit” in order to reinforce Apthorp’s emphasis on the deliberateness of the editorial cancellation of such plus verses. See also Ludwich 1885:132–143 (“Athetierte und ausgestossene Verse”), especially p. 142 on the remark ἔνιοι ὑποτάσσουσι ‘some put into a subordinate category’ [followed by the quotation of a plus verse] in the scholia at Iliad I 140 and 159. West’s comment on both these lines, “add. quidam ante Ar” (cf. Monro-Allen, “quidam ant.”), does not convey the editorial implications of the expression ἔνιοι ὑποτάσσουσι.

[ back ] 51. Apthorp 1980.xv. Unlike predecessors like Bolling, Apthorp avoids using the term “plus verse” with reference to verses athetized but not deleted (“omitted”) by the Alexandrian editors. More on “plus verses” in Ch.2 above.

[ back ] 52. Apthorp 1980.xvi.

[ back ] 53. For more on “plus verses,” see especially Apthorp 1998 on Iliad I 458–461, with new papyrus evidence for deletion (“omission”); cf. my discussion in PP 139n135, where “a papyrus” should have been specified as P.Ant. III.158. Apthorp adduces P.Ant. III.158, P.Ant. III.160, and the Leiden glossary. West’s apparatus does not mention P.Ant. III.160; but it adduces a new Oxyrhynchus papyrus, “1139” (West’s apparatus indicates that the plus verses are omitted here as well).

[ back ] 54. PP 139–140.

[ back ] 55. N 1997d:118–122, rewritten in Ch.1 above.

[ back ] 56. West 1998b:vii.

[ back ] 57. PP 117, 133–134, 152–156, 185–190, 193–195.

[ back ] 58. Ludwich 1885:192–199 (“Aristarch und die Vulgata”).

[ back ] 59. Van der Valk 1963:609.

[ back ] 60. N 1997d:114–115, rewritten in Ch.1 above.

[ back ] 61. Cf. PP 185.

[ back ] 62. PP 136–137.

[ back ] 63. Haslam 1997:87.

[ back ] 64. Janko 1992:21n6; cf. PP 137.

[ back ] 65. Janko 1992:21n6; cf. PP 139–140.

[ back ] 66. Janko 1992:27.

[ back ] 67. Erbse 1959.

[ back ] 68. Pfeiffer 1968:215.

[ back ] 69. For a critical look at the term “Wolfian vulgate,” see Ch.1 above.

[ back ] 70. See Ch.2.

[ back ] 71. Parry 1971 (collected papers = MHV) and Lord 1960, 1991, 1995. See Ch.2. See also Dué 2001.

[ back ] 72. MHV 268. When Parry says “unique” in this context, I interpret it to mean “uniquely characteristic of oral poetics.” For a fuller application of this quotation, with more context, see Ch.5 below. For another application of this same quotation, see the important discussion of Apthorp 1980:110n67.

[ back ] 73. HQ 34–37.

[ back ] 74. West 1998a:101.

[ back ] 75. Foley 1999:73–74, 85, 88, 293n28.

[ back ] 76. Especially PP and HQ.

[ back ] 77. N 1998b, rewritten as Ch.5 below.

[ back ] 78. West 1998a:95.

[ back ] 79. Janko 1992:26.

[ back ] 80. See especially Janko 1992:22, 26.

[ back ] 81. Janko 2000.

[ back ] 82. Janko 1998a, reviewing N 1996a.

[ back ] 83. Here Janko refers to his review, Janko 1998a, of PP.

[ back ] 84. Janko 2000:4.

[ back ] 85. Janko 1998a.

[ back ] 86. Janko 2000:1. On both points, Janko refers to West p. vii. In a separate work, I hope to dispute West’s general dismissal of Zenodotus, as he phrases it on this page. On the value of variant readings that go back to Zenodotus, in terms of oral poetics, see PP 133–138; see also PP 144n160 on Aristophanes of Byzantium (with a discussion of the numerus versuum of Aristophanes’ Homer edition, on which see also Apthorp 1980:3).

[ back ] 87. N 1998a, rewritten as Ch.5 below.

[ back ] 88. PP 153.

[ back ] 89. PP 117–118.

[ back ] 90. On the mechanics of expansion and compression in oral poetics, see PP 76–77.

[ back ] 91. Apthorp per littera s 1/26/1999. I translate the Homeric variant adduced here: ‘if my Purēs [= Pyrrhos = Neoptolemos] still lives, the one I left behind’.

[ back ] 92. I translate this variant: ‘if godlike Neoptolemos still lives’.

[ back ] 93. Bolling 1950:1–16.

[ back ] 94. N 1997d:116n48.

[ back ] 95. Cf. again Apthorp 1980:xv.

[ back ] 96. This is not to say that Didymus did not collate Homer manuscripts in his own right or that Aristarchus was the only collator (cf. Bolling 1925:39, who argues for a post-Aristarchean dating of the Krētikē). It is only to say that the primary collator of Homer manuscripts was Aristarchus himself and that Didymus did not have access to all the sources still available to Aristarchus (cf. again Bolling, ibid.).

[ back ] 97. Cf. Apthorp 1980:9–10.

[ back ] 98. For more on the Aristarchean concept of Homeric texts that are khariesterai (χαριέστεραι) ‘more elegant’, see Ch.4 below. See also PP 116, 122–124, 188.

[ back ] 99. This formulation modifies slightly the formulation in N 2000a. The modification is meant to accommodate rare situations where the two ekdoseis ‘editions’ of Aristarchus (as tracked by Didymus) reflect two different wordings in the base text. In such situations, as we can see from further discussion in Ch.4 below, it seems that the two ‘editions’ (as produced by Aristarchus or, more likely, by later Aristarcheans) indicate different choices to be made, as when more than one “vulgate” variant emerged from a comparison of “vulgate” texts.

[ back ] 100. See my earlier discussion of the scholia at Γ 406.

[ back ] 101. Janko 2000:1.

[ back ] 102. I should note one important difference between West’s and Ludwich’s usage: for West (see his p. xiii), but not for Ludwich, readings from “Ω” are regularly to be contrasted with readings from “Ζ” (= Ve1 Allen).

[ back ] 103. Ch.5, rewritten from N 1998a.

[ back ] 104. Cf. West 1999a:186–187.

[ back ] 105. Janko 1992:21n6; cf. PP 139–140. For more on Aristarchus’ editorial methodology in using external manuscript evidence for determining whether or not to apply athetesis, see the extended discussion in PP 146–147n169. Janko 1998c:147 has asserted about my discussion: “N. also believes (146, n149 [his reference should be corrected to 169]) that the Alexandrians athetised suspect verses because of ms evidence, whereas in fact they athetised such verses, rather than omitted them, only when they lacked external evidence against them.” This assertion is criticized by Apthorp 1999:19n22: “As M. Haslam correctly states, ‘It is … clear that Aristarchus did at least on occasion have manuscript authority for his atheteses’ [1997:76]. The evidence for this is assembled in [Apthorp 1980] pp. 49–53, with notes on pp. 102–109. R. Janko is misleading when he writes that ‘the Alexandrians athetised suspect verses, … rather than omitted them, only when they lacked external evidence against them’ [1998c:207, in Janko’s review of PP]. Elsewhere, Janko tones down his assertion by inserting the qualification ‘largely’ [1992:28]: ‘for him [Aristarchus], athetesis was largely based on internal evidence.’”

[ back ] 106. West 1998a:95. The following quotations from West in this paragraph all come from this same location.

[ back ] 107. West 1998a:95.

[ back ] 108. West 1998b:vi–vii, though there are a few exceptions listed at his n6. On Zenodotus, I refer again to my defense of his editorial methods in PP 133–138.

[ back ] 109. West 1998a:95.

[ back ] 110. West 2000c:587, 627–630.

[ back ] 111. West 2000c:630.

[ back ] 112. In West 2003:13–14, he elaborates: after the Iliad became a fixed text, the “creativity” of rhapsodes “was able to express itself in novel ways”—by way of manipulating existing texts. He dates this period of literary “creativity” between 620 and 520 BCE, adding (p. 14): “Once we shake the oralists off our backs and recognize the status of written texts in this period and the use made of them, we begin to gain insights into their interrelationships and chronology, and a nebulous process of development begins to take on sharper outlines.”

[ back ] 113. This paragraph has been added to the original version of my review.

[ back ] 114. Janko 1992:27.

[ back ] 115. Cf. Bird 1994.

[ back ] 116. PP 151–152.

[ back ] 117. PR 3–5.

[ back ] 118. Cf. Ludwich 1884:11–16 (“Die alte Vulgata”).

[ back ] 119. van Thiel 1991, 1996.

[ back ] 120. West 1998b:x.

[ back ] 121. Cf. West 1998a:97.

[ back ] 122. West 1998b:x n14 lists a handful of exceptions; see also West 1998a:97.

[ back ] 123. N 1999b:271–272 (see now HR 69–70).

[ back ] 124. West 1998b:vi; cf. N 1998b, rewritten as Ch.5.

[ back ] 125. West 1998b:xxxv.

[ back ] 126. West 1998b:xxix; here he is following Watkins 1995:150, who refers at p. 151 to an unpublished 1994 work of Joshua Katz on Homeric formulas beginning αὐτὰρ ἐπεί (for an abstract, see Katz 1996). Addendum as of 2017.08.06 … My argumentation as presented here at 3§38 about ταρ has been strenuously opposed in an article by Katz 2007. In that article, which has now been added to my Bibliography, Katz also corrects my mistaken dating of his abstract (1996, not 1998, as I have it in the printed version).

[ back ] 127. Chantraine DELG p. 210.

[ back ] 128. See Schywzer/Debrunner 1966:560.

[ back ] 129. In this case, West’s apparatus shows a syntactically analogous textual variant δ’ ἄρ actually attested in the papyri.

[ back ] 130. If indeed Homeric ταρ is derived from τ’ (from τε) plus ἄρ just as γάρ is derived from γ’ (from γε) plus ἄρ, we still need to account for the enclitic status of ταρ in some Homeric contexts and the non-enclitic status of τἄρ in others. It may be relevant that γάρ is fully lexicalized in all its attestations, that is, it has become a single word, whereas neither ταρ nor ἄρ / ῥα (vs. ἄρα) have achieved that status in Attic/Ionic, outside of poetic diction. With reference to the arguments of Katz 1996, I see further evidence for counter-arguments. For example, not only are αὐτάρ and ἀτάρ syntactically parallel in a variety of Homeric contexts: so also are ἀτάρ and (δ’) αὖ / (δ’) αὖτ(ε). Note too the collocations αὐτὰρ ἄρα at Iliad II 103 and αὐτὰρ ὃ αὖτε at II 105, 107. Addendum as of 2017.08.06 … I note again the article of Katz 2007, who objects to my argumentation here at 3§88. In that article, he also points out that I have not fully addressed this question: if “ταρ” is not diachronically distinct from “τἄρ” as a combination of τε and ἄρ, are they synchronically indistinct as well? I hope to address this question in a separate project

[ back ] 131. For examples of questionable rewritings in West’s Iliad, see also the criticisms of Janko 2000:1. I hope to discuss further examples in a separate project.