Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 3

Here is a rough English translation of the conclusions for part 2 of Bianca-Jeanette Schröder’s book, Titel und Text.  It was made in haste for my own purposes, so is probably not 100% reliable.  Nevertheless, the material is so important, and is apparently so little known, that it seems well worth placing this here.

Part 2 – Conclusion (p.153)

The briefly examined examples, from Hyginus to Cassiodorus, make it clear that questions about the organisation of a text is not a problem that can be separated from the “real” text.  It is important to know how ancient readers intended to “use” a text, and how other, later needs have interfered in the form of organisation taken.  It is  important to examine this issue carefully, assessing the authors and editors of  individual works.

It may be noted how new ways to make information accessible came into existence and were disseminated.  The (probably) numbered table of contents, as an influential innovation, was made known through Pliny’s Natural History in the 1st century AD, was promptly adopted (by Columella in the later-added book 11) and was increasingly used in other genres (Gellius, Augustine, historical writing); tables of contents for other works were created subsequently.

The adoption of the table of contents had influence on the preface; an important role of the proemion, to provide information on the content to follow, is shifted on to the more precise summaries.  In this way the author can bypass a stylistically unappealing task, and, in addition, getting an overview is much easier and makes lookup and retrieval possible (in connection with numbering).  In a similar way the relatively monotonous formulae for closing a subject and transitioning to the next give way over time to the sub-title. The use of diaeresis, which, in imitation of oral teaching, is used in systematic text books to structure information, is not abandoned but receives a serious competitor in the use of chapter headings.

Mutschmann (p.99-100) accepted the following development, particularly in view of the Didymus papyrus: the first step is the column heading: the second is the collection of column headings into a table of contents (συγκεφαλαίωσις); from the column heading the chapter heading develops. But it has been shown that these phenomena are more complex. In the papyri we see already early headings for lists, and disengaged lemmata in lexica.  There are centred headings, and numbered and marked chapter beginnings in Latin bronze  tablets of laws.  Pliny and Columella do, inter alia, have tables of contents but they certainly did not devise chapter headings.  A two-way exchange may be expected, namely that works with tables of contents (e.g. Columella) acquired chapter headings, while for works with leading lemmas (e.g. Hyginus) tables of contents were then created.

The tendency towards dividing things up extends beyond prose.  Probably because of the influence of articulated textbook prose, didactic poems were provided with helps for orientation:[184] in the manuscripts of Lucretius, Manilius and also Ovid’s Metamorphoses, lists of Capitula may be found and also corresponding chapter headings, as in prose textbooks.[185] Reeve (conclusion, p.507 f.) points out that Ovid’s Fasti is, since R. Merkel’s 2nd edition of 1851, divided into days identified by headings, and content-related sections, and he gives examples of how the interpretation is affected by this classification. That these subtitles are not by the poet is shown by the structure of the text.  The same formulae for transitions and new subjects appear as in textbook prose (see above, p.107); signal words indicate the beginning of a new concept, e.g. in Lucretius: quaeres, inquis, nec me fallit, praecurrere cogor, sed nunc ut repetam, nunc et scrutemur, nunc age quoniam docui, nunc age quod superest cognosce, denique, tum porro quoniam etc.; likewise Manilius introduces new sections thus: nunc vero, iam vero, restat ut, his adice, accipe, percipe nunc, ergo age, nec te praetereat, nunc age, ergo age, forsitan et quaeras etc.  – The headings in Lucretius have been dated by Fischer to the 2nd century AD, after analysing the content of them (so also Diels, p.xii: “neque indoctus fuit ille editor qui primis haud dubie saeculis capitula praefixit”).[“nor unlearned was that editor who first at an unknown date added capitula to the front”]

184. Haye has commented on the types of divisions in medieval didactic poems (p.348-358 ‘Optische Präsentation’); it may be added that this does not merely apply to manuscripts of the 12th century (so Haye, p.352), but also for example in mss. of Ovid and Lucretius of the 9th century.

185.  Vergil’s Georgica are equipped with metrical argumenta (like the books of the Aeneid and the comedies), but, as far as I can see, they were not divided into chapters like other didactic poems. – In the relevant manuscripts for Ovid’s Fasti (A = Vat.Reg. 1709, 10th c.; U = Vat.Lat.3262, 11th c.) there are no calendrical entries as headings, such as are often silently added in editions (an example of their insertion for clarity is Robert Schilling, Ovide, Les fastes, Tome I, Paris 1992, p.LIX), and are found in the younger manuscripts. In Vat.Lat.3265 (12th c.) there are references to the content in the margin (e.g. fol. 9v, de cursu solis, de lirae occasu, de pectore leonis); but I have seen calendrical information in Vat.Ottob. 1464 (13th c.) (e.g. fol. 3v.: VII kl F, III kl F).

Housman gives a list of chapter titles in the appendix to his edition of Manilius (vol. 5, p.55-99); Goold devotes a chapter of the praefatio to his edition of Manilius to the chapter titles (p.xii ff), but does not discuss when they developed. – In the manuscripts of Ovid’s Metamorphoses there are chapter titles (e.g. Chaos in species; terra in varias personas; mundus in saecula quattuor, aureum, argenteum, aereum et ferreum; item annus in tempora quattuor; edited by Magnus), and sometimes prose summaries, which like the chapter titles are inserted before the passage in question. These summaries (by “Lactantius”) must date, on grounds of vocabulary, to late antiquity.

The increasing tendency for labelling and dividing is not limited to didactic poetry, but extends to the whole of the book trade.  The divisions in tragedy and comedy have already been thoroughly researched, so here I will limit myself to only a few notes.  Already, in the oldest mss. (Terence: ‘Bembinus’, 4-5th c.; Plautus: Palimpsest Ambros., 5th c.), the change of scenes is indicated in various ways (names, rolls, notes, Greek sigla),[186] and Donatus refers to comedies with divisions: (Ter. Ad. praef. 3,1f.) primus actus haec continet […]. secundus actus […]; (Ter.Ad.254) in hac scaena gratiarum actio est […]; (Ad.praef. 1,7) […] saepe tamen mutatisper scaenam modis cantata, quod signifi­cat titulus scaenae habens subiectas personis litteras […]. […] secundum persona­rum nomina scriptis in eo loco, ubi incipit scaena.  That the division into acts and scenes, and also the insertion of the names of the speakers, was not provided by the authors, has been shown systematically by Andrieu. — The following information was obtained on the age of these things in the mss.: Bader dates the scene-headings, in Plautus, to the late first / early second century A.D. (p. 150-154) and Tarrant (in: Reynolds, p.306) considers that it is unlikely that the creation of an edition equipped with these things can be later than the 2nd century AD. — Likewise the archetype for Terence (before the Cod. Bembinus) was similarly equipped (Reeve in: Reynolds, p.413). — Zwierlein showed that the archetype for Seneca’s comedies, which should be dated to the 3-4th century, contained a basic set of scene-headings and people-sigla (Prolegomena, p. 52) and that this information was added to or  modified by editors or copyists during the process of transmission (ib., p.249).

186. On the origin and development of the various types of information, see the relevant chapter in Andrieu.

Here again, as with prose textbooks, we observe several phases of philological activity.

In the course of transmission, the “organisation” of texts by means of numbering and tables of contents has not been without drawbacks.  The chapter number, which in early examples (bronze tablets, see above p.116 f., early mss., see above p.119) is under or before the text break of the new chapter, changes position over the course of time, for various reasons:187 the situation of the chapter number in the codex, where usually a page contains one or two columns, is very different from that in the roll, where one column follows another.  If the page has only a single area of text, and the chapter number is in the left margin, there is a risk that on the recto the number will partially or completely disappear in the rebate (in the binding); on the verso, the number may disappear if the pages of the book are trimmed. — If the work is written in two columns, there must be enough space in the middle, between the two columns, for the numerals belonging to the second column.  If instead the numbers, while the numbers for the first column are on the left of it, the numbers for the second column are written on the right hand side, uncertainty is introduced for the reader, just by changing the position in that way, and it has the same risks as before; one part of the numbers may disappear into the fold, while the other is threatened by cutting off the margin.  Another factor with great influence on the chapter number is the rise and expansion of the initial letter.  The more elaborate the design of the letter, the less important will be the – consistently simple – numeral before it (see plate 1), if there is room for it at all. It may be observed that the numeral appears more and more frequently in the Spatium at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter, to the right over the relevant section within the textblock.  There is it safe from the trimmer’s knife and the binding, and leaves room at the start of the chapter for the development of the initial – however, having given up their special place in the margin, the only way to emphasise them is with colour; if the numeral is the same colour as the text, it no longer catches the eye. This general trend may be observed in mss. containing the same text but from different centuries,e.g.188 In Cod.Troyes Bibl.mun. 504 (7th c.; the oldest ms. of the Liber pastoralis of Gregory the Great; fol.48v.)

187. This description of a general tendency does not mean that in some cases the earlier form was not retained.

188. See Glenisson for illustrations of the folios in which this phenomenon may be seen (plates 8, 9, 11, 12 on pp. 47, 49, 52, 53).

the chapter numbers (alternately red and green) stand in the left margin and are accentuated by an ornate frame.  The first line of each chapter, except for the first letter, is written in red. The first letter of the chapter is somewhat enlarged, but does not extend into the margin.  The number XXIII extends into the text block and pushes the first letter more to the right.  In a younger manuscript of this text (12th c., Cod. Troyes Bibl. mun.955, fol.57) the first letter of each chapter is done in different colours, two lines tall, and is positioned half in the margin, half in the text block.  The chapter numbers (in red) stand in the free space at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter: the number is displaced into the text block by the enlarged first letter of the chapter.  – Similarly we may compare the Hincmar bible (9th c. Reims, Bibl. mun. 1, fol.8) with the bible of Saint-Benigne de Dijon (12th c., Cod. Dijon, Bibl. mun. 2, fol.7v.).  Both versions have, at the beginning of the book of Genesis, a decorated first column as far as the words “et facta est lux”, and the second column consists entirely of text.  In the Hincmar bible the chapter numbers stand in the margin before the second column, before the slightly enlarged and decorated chapter initials.  In the bible  of Saint-Benigne there is very little room between the right edge of the decorated first column and the text block of the second column, so that the chapter initials cannot protrube more than slightly into the margin, and the chapters do not always begin a new paragraph. The red chapter numbers stand wherever there is room; at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter, or, when there is no line break, in the right margin.

It need hardly be said that with the change of position came an increased risk of damage to the numbering or omission.  But we must emphasise this:  if the numbering is not complete or consecutive, or that in the text does not correspond to the table of contents, this is no indication that it does not derive from the author; the degree of incompleteness or incorrectness corresponds to the increasing distance from the author (see especially p.146 on Isidore).

Likewise numbered tables of contents are not transmitted without error. The dangers that lists and numbers are exposed to, during the process of coping, are obvious.  However defects are not observed only in the numeration, or lack of numeration, because of the lack of rubrication, and the loss of elements from the tables of contents, but there are also spontaneous and individual errors. There are other sources of errors and changes, which are due to more or less conscious decisions by the copyist.

Particularly influential is the desire to save space, and to create a more unified and compact block of text, whether for pragmatic reasons such as saving materials, or aesthetic ones.  In the table of contents, as in the beginning of chapters and the chapter numbers, the text is squeezed together more tightly.  There is a tendency, as with the beginning of chapters, to only separate the first letter, and often the text is written left-justified, and not always with the first letter of each argument highlighted.

But even if only the number is in the margin, and the text of the table of contents is written as a block without protrusions into the margin, still a lot of space can be lost if one considers that numerals like I or C or even CLXXXIII can be in the margin.  Sometimes there is a block where the text is written directly after the number and under the number.  Another possibility is that the numbers go in the space at the end of the preceding argument (i.e. on the right, above the argument in question), so that there is no longer a vertical list of numbers.  Finally the table of contents can be written as text, abandoning the list format completely and writing it as continuous text, but simply alternating numbers and text.  So long as the numbers are written in red, one need only examine the start of the table to see whether the number belongs to the previous argument, or the next one; but if the numbers are written in the same colour as the text, it becomes a tedious task.

As has already been indicated, a tendency can be observed that clarity diminishes over time, and is never improved.  In three manuscripts of Aulus Gellius, arbitrarily chosen from different centuries (Vat. Reg. 597, 9th c.; Vat.Reg. 1646, 12th c.; Vat.Reg.3452, 13th c.), it seems to be no coincidence that it is easiest to find a specific chapter in the oldest of them.  In Vat.Reg.597 the chapter number is always in the same place, before the (undecorated) chapter initial; in the table of contents, the number always stands before the argument.  – In Vat. Reg. 1646 the chapter number stands at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter, and catch the eye because written in red.  But more striking are the chapter initials (alternately in blue and red), which are two lines of text high.  In the table of contents, the numbers move about.  On the verso they stand on the left before the argument, on the recto to the right of it, because not enough space has been left before the text.  – The Vat. Reg. 3452 is in two quite different parts.  In the first part the chapter numbers (in Greek letters) always stand before the chapter initial, and likewise in the tables of contents.  In the second part (from p.57), the tables of contents are not written as a list but as continuous text, with red numbers between each of the individual arguments.  A new line is not used at the start of each new chapter, but the end of one chapter is immediately followed by the (red) chapter number for the next chapter, and then immediately the text of the next chapter.  While the numbers are written in red, they can be found, but very soon they too are written in the normal ink colour, and so can only be found by reading through the text.

As with the numbering of chapters, no improvement is seen in the numbering of tables of contents in the Middle Ages.  Scribonius Largus, most likely also Pliny and Gellius, and certainly many late antique authors organised their text using numbers and so it may be assumed that the numbering of the chapters and tables of contents was initially congruent and usable.189  But they have been much distorted in the course of transmission, because only actually using the table of contents to find specific chapters, i.e. only from a copyist aware of the needs of the reader, will produce a set of usable numbers.

Now that we have the results of the first two parts, it is possible for us to examine poetry headings.  Both the linguistic form of the book titles, and the relationship between title and text, as well as the (partly retrospective) ‘organisation’ of the text into longer and shorter sections of text, observed in many genres, using tables of contents and headings, and their influence upon the text, should be observed when assessing the headings of poems.

189. Some examples of numbering that became unusable with the passage of time: Columella, see under p. 134; Isidore, see under p. 146; see also the discrepancy between index and chapter headings in Firmicus Maternus, Mathesis, ed. W. Kroll, F.Skutsch, Leipzig 1897 (repr. Stuttgart 1968).


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