The colloquia of the Hermeneumata PseudoDositheana

A press release advises me that the excellent Eleanor Dickey of Exeter University has brought out a rather interesting book:

The colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana are a set of little stories and dialogues about daily life in the Roman Empire, written for ancient Greek speakers learning Latin. Like modern language textbooks, they contain scenes illustrating shopping, dining, and banking; unlike their modern counterparts they also include bathing, litigation, and fighting.

Their potential to tell us about the experiences of ordinary Romans has so far been greatly underutilized because of the poor state of the text and lack of any translation. A modern edition with full translation, commentary, and explanation of these texts’ fascinating history by Eleanor Dickey has recently been published by CUP and are available from:

The CUP page tells me that the subtitle is “Volume: 1 Colloquia Monacensia-Einsidlensia, Leidense-Stephani, and Stephani”.  It also tells me, sadly, that the price is £90, or around $135; a quite impossible price.

From elsewhere I find:

Originally, this collection of encyclopedic excerpts, Latin and Greek glossaries, proverbs, and fables was attributed to Dositheus, a fourth century grammarian and teacher. Further analysis of all manuscripts, however — predominately those held in Leiden — established that the individual items must been part of a small textbook for use in schools. With its roots reaching back into the early third century, the textbook came to be influenced by various authors later on.

Medieval manuscripts often have non-descriptic short texts of this kind within them, which go ignored.  Eleanor Dickey came to my attention as the author of a handbook on scholia; a unique item, never attempted before.  She has managed the difficult task of doing for a second time something both useful and original, of breaking new ground.  Well done!