Notes on the manuscripts of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea

An email this evening requesting information tells me that someone, somewhere, has set his class the task of finding out about the manuscripts of this work.    The question is one of interest.[1]

The text is preserved in the ms. Palatinus Graecus 398, fol. 40v-54v, held today in the Universitäts Bibliothek, Heidelberg and online there.[2]  This means that we can consult it, and also see the other geographical works contained in it!  Here is the top of fol. 40v:

The exemplar was plainly lacunose and corrupt; the scribe has left gaps and placed ticks in the margin where he recognised evident errors.  The ms. is in minuscule, with marginal headings in small uncials, and dates from the start of the 10th century.

A copy of this manuscript exists, errors and all, in the British Library, ms. Additional 19391, fols. 9r-12r[3], of the 14-15th century.

Early editions are generally poor.  The best is Muller’s Geographi Graeci Minores, but Fabricius’ 2nd edition held the field and is described by Casson as displaying “a total disregard for the readings of the manuscript.”  Unfortunately it was this which was used by Schoff for the translation into English commonly available.  A proper critical edition only appeared in 1927 as edited by Hjalmar Frisk.[4]

The date of the work is now established, Casson tells us, as mid-first century A.D.

Returning to the manuscript, however, we find that it contains yet more interesting material:

The collection of writers of marvels — paradoxographers — is interesting.  I have an English translation of Phlegon’s Book of Marvels, which is, in truth, a rather dull collection of oddities. 

However the text in the ms. does not seem to include either an incipit or explicit, which leads me to ask how we know the authorship?  But perhaps there are other mss, which do have this information.

It must be said that I was previous unaware of these online Greek mss.  What a marvellous collection, however!

  1. [1]Lionel Casson, The Periplus Maris Erythraei: Text With Introduction, Translation, and Commentary, Princeton 1989, p. 5.  Google Books preview here.
  2. [2]Index of available digital mss. here
  3. [3]So Casson; but can this small page count be correct?
  4. [4]Casson, p.6.

3 thoughts on “Notes on the manuscripts of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *