Book 11, chapter 9 of the Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius is a tale from the lost author Critolaus. It relates how Demosthenes accepted a bribe not to speak against the Milesians. Chapter 10 begins as follows:
10. Quod C. Gracchus in oratione sua historiam supra scriptam Demadi rhetori, non Demostheni, adtribuit; verbaque ipsius C. Gracchi relata.
1. Quod in capite superiore a Critolao scriptum esse diximus super Demosthene, id C. Gracchus in oratione, qua legent Aufeiam dissuasit, in Demaden contulit verbis hisce…
10. That Gaius Gracchus in a speech of his applied the story related above to the orator Demades, and not to Demosthenes; and a quotation of Gracchus’ words.
1. The story which in the preceding chapter we said was told by Critolaus about Demosthenes, Gaius Gracchus, in the speech Against the Aufeian Law, applied to Demades in the following words…
At the end of the preface, we find also these words:
25. Capita rerum quae cuique commentario insunt, exposuimus hic universa, ut iam statim declaretur quid quo in libro quaeri invenirique possit.
25. Summaries of the material to be found in each book of my Commentaries I have here placed all together, in order that it may at once be clear what is to be sought and found in every book.
We learn a great deal from this about how a second century author with a collection of miscellaneous material organised it.
Caput is being used somewhat flexibly, but here we see it used both to indicate the summary of the content of a self-contained portion of a book — a chapter title, if you like — and also for that self-contained portion itself. We might say “passage”, but there seems no special reason not to say “chapter” and “chapter title / summary”.
This tells us that Aulus Gellius himself organised his work into capita — chapters. Also that he composed these capita — chapter summaries. We may speculate that a literary slave may have been used to compose these, as Cicero had Tiro do work for him, and Josephus used Greek ammanuenses to give polish to his works. But there seems no need to suppose this.
On reading the Loeb, I thought at first that we also knew that these capita (chapters) were numbered at some point. If we look at book 8 in the Loeb, we find under the chapter summaries (capita) in a couple of cases small excerpts from the lost text. These, of course, have been extracted by editors from quotation by later authors, who must have specified the numeral of the chapter. So chapter 3 has a fragment.
3. Quem in modum et quam severe increpuerit audientibus nobis Peregrinus philosophus adulescentem Romanum ex equestri familia, stantem segnem apud se et assidue oscitantem.
Et adsiduo oscitantem vidit, atque illius quidem delicatissimas mentis et corporis halucinationes.
3. In what terms and how severely the philosopher Peregrinus in my hearing rebuked a young Roman of equestrian rank, who stood before him inattentive and constantly yawning.
. . . and saw him continually yawning and noticed the degenerate dreaminess expressed in his attitude of mind and body.
But what does the actual source say? Well, the Loeb note on the fragment says:
This fragment is preserved by Nonius, II, p121, 19, s.v. halucinari.
That’s not very helpful, is it? I must admit that the over-brevity of Loeb references always annoyed me! What normal person could follow such a reference? Even I don’t know who “Nonius” is, and I have a better grasp of ancient literature than almost anyone not professionally active. Which work, which edition, I wonder, is meant?
But the mention of a work at the end suggests a dictionary compiler, and a search brings first the Wikipedia article for Nonius Marcellus, a 4-5th century grammarian, then W.M.Lindsay’s 1901 article, and then Muller’s 1888 edition: vol. 1, and vol.2. Finally Lindsay’s 1903 Teubner, vol. 1, vol. 2 and vol. 3. All I have to do now is track down the reference, and even so, it is still nearly impossible.
After two hours struggle, I find that the correct reference is book 2, which is in vol. 1 of Lindsay, in the section under H (which is NOT in alphabetical order), Lindsay p. 175. At the head of this page are some gnomic numerals “121. 122 M.” The “page” is therefore a reference to some elderly standard edition. This reads:
HALVCINARI, aberrare et non consistere atque dissolvi et obstupefieri atque tardari honeste veteres dixerunt, ut est (cf. Gell. VIII, 3): ‘et adsiduo oscitantem vidit atque illius quidem delicatissimas mentis et corporis alucinationes’.
But this gives no textual link to Aulus Gellius. So my initial impression here was mistaken. Possibly some of the other fragments will give us more information, but I lack the time to pursue this now.
There is more we could learn, if we knew more about the textual history of this collection of all the capita, immediately following the preface. Because book 8 of the Attic Nights is lost. Yet we do have the capita for book 8. This means that either the collection of all the capita was transmitted at the correct place; or, that the collection of capita circulated independently.
All this is valuable information on the way in which ancient authors worked. They did have chapters, if they chose. They did have chapter titles, if they chose. They did have chapter numbers, if they chose.
So is there really any case for denying the authenticity of any transmitted chapter divisions, numerals, and headings, unless we find multiple different ones in the manuscripts? If so, what is it?