More thoughts on the scholia vetustiora of Juvenal

Earlier today I discussed the appearance of the word “gladiatrix” in the oldest scholia on Juvenal.  I had hoped to find the passage in an online manuscript, but I didn’t have any good source for the manuscripts of the scholia.

Soon afterwards a kind gentleman then sent me a copy of Wessner’s 1931 edition of the Scholia in Iuvenalem Vetustiora.  Before I looked at the manuscripts, I started to read the ancient biography of Juvenal at the front.

Then I looked at the first scholion, which is attached to the very first words of Satire 1.  At the start I noted the use of “eo quod”, so familiar in the Vulgate for “because”:

Semper ego… Iuvenalem aliqui Gallum propter corporis magnitudinem, aliqui Aquinatem dicunt. ea tempora Domitiani tyranni, quibus etiam ipse vixit, eo quod in aula ipsius plus histriones quam bonae vitae homines possent, graviter carpsit.  Hos autem libros in exilium missus ad civitatem ultimam Aegypti Hoasim ab ipso Domitiano scripsit. Ideo autem in exilium missus est, quia dixit versum illum (VII 90] quod non dant proceres, dabit histrio.

Some say that Juvenal was a Gaul, on account of the size of his body, others a native of Aquino.  In the time of the tyrant Domitian, in which also he lived, he was a violent satirist, because in his palace actors were of more influence than men of good life.[1]  But he wrote those books in exile having been sent to the furthest city of Egypt, the [Great] Oasis, by this Domitian. But for this reason he was sent into exile, because he uttered that verse, “what the nobles do not give, the actor will.”

No wonder the scholia have been attributed to the same period as the Vulgate!  The mention of the Oasis, later to be the place of exile of Nestorius, again suggests a late date.

Then I looked at the table of manuscripts.

Wessner indicates various sources in the manuscripts for the scholia.  One of these he simply describes, uselessly, as:

Fragmenta Aroviensia (Q), quae nunc in archio urbis Aroviae (‘Aarau’) asservantur, oIim pertinebant ad codicem Iuvenalis s. X scriptum….

Q is in fact his main source for the portion of the scholia which mentions “gladiatrix”.  I wondered if it was online.  Wessner’s description is not helpful.  But Aarau turns out to be a German-speaking Swiss town.  In Braund &c, A Companion to Persius and Juvenal, here, we find a list of principal  manuscripts of Juvenal.  “Arou. (Q in Wessner) is the library given as “Aarau, Stadtarchiv I, Nr. 0”. [2]  It is described as “Fragmenta Aroviensia” and consists of 5 leaves reused for bindings, one of which happens to be a section of the 6th Satire.

But sadly it does not appear to be online.  Nor was the Montpellier manuscript, once the property of Pierre Pithou, and originally from Lorsch, which also is important.

However the St Gall, Sangallensis 870, is indeed online here at the magnificent e-Codices site.  The scholia start on “page 40”, here, with the very words we discussed above.

Nice to know that we are in the right place!  On page 53, we see the heading of satire 2, De philosophis obscenis, On foul philosophers.

Our reference to “gladiatrix” is to be found on page 134, on line 6:

Also interesting to see the Greek transcribed at the end!

Some may ask how I located the passage in the manuscript.  What I did was to have Wessner’s edition open, in a searchable PDF.  I then picked a random page, looked for a word that wasn’t “est” or something trivial, and searched for it in the PDF.  A few clicks soon indicated where in the text I was.  The word itself would not be unique; but looking at the word after would help.  Once I knew where I was, I could move forward or back in the online manuscript, as seemed desirable; and repeat.  I ended up aiming for halfway through – Satire 6 is about halfway through – and then moving back.

Nice to see “gladiatrix” in a manuscript written in the 900s AD!

  1. [1]Reading “carpsit” as “he was a satirist”, because of the sense of tearing at reputation; and  “multum/plus posse”, “to have much/more influence”.
  2. [2]Update Jan. 2021: This is indeed the reference.  A correspondent wrote to the archives in Aarau (website here) and got the reply: “Das Juvenal-Fragment befindet sich im Stadtarchiv Aarau, I Nr. 0, vgl.: Katalog der mittelalterlichen Handschriften des Klosters Wettingen ; Katalog der mittelalterlichen Handschriften in Aarau, Laufenburg, Lenzburg, Rheinfelden und Zofingen, S. 195f.”

Is “gladiatrix” a modern term?

On various sites you can find the claim that the Latin word “gladiatrix”, meaning a female gladiator, is a modern word, unknown in antiquity.  For instance this article:

The term gladiatrix was never used in ancient times; it is a modern word first applied to female gladiators in the 1800’s CE.

This in turn seems to be based on a line in this very useful page: by James Grout at Encylopaedia Romana:

There is no specific Latin word for a female gladiator nor was there a feminine form, gladiatrix being a modern construction, first used in a translation of Juvenal in 1802. The closest term to identify the female gladiator is ludia (from ludus, “stage performer”) but even that word tends to refer to the wife or lover of a gladiator.

But is this true?  It seems that it is not, and that there is a late antique usage for the word.  What it is not is classical.

I learn from Anna McCullough, “Female Gladiators in the Roman Empire”, in: Budin & Turfa (eds), Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World, Routledge (2016), p.958 (preview) that:

Despite its usage by modern scholars and in popular culture, the word gladiatrix is unknown in classical Latin. To my knowledge, it only appears once in late Latin, in a gloss from a fourth-century AD commentary on Juvenal (Scholia in Iuvenalem Vetustiora).

In Satire 6, Juvenal mocks a woman who trains as a gladiator in a ludus, asking if she prepares merely for the Floralia, or si quid in illo/pectore plus agitat veraeque paratur harenae? (“if she plans something more in that mind, and is preparing for the real arena?” 6.250–251).

The commentary provides a gloss on line 251, offering the following explanation: nam vere vult esse gladiatrix quae meretrix (“for truly she wants to be a gladiatrix who is a prostitute”).

This is a nice bit of research, doubtless courtesy of one of those databases inaccessible to the general public.  But it is no less valuable for that.

The standard edition of the Scholia appears to be Paul Wessner, Scholia in Iuvenalem Vetustiora, in the Teubner series in 1931.  This is not accessible online, even though Wessner died in 1933 and it must now be public domain, even in the benighted lands of the “European Union”.  Does anybody have a PDF, I wonder?

But Wessner’s volume seems to be unique.  I suspect the scholia were previously printed as an appendix to Juvenal: and indeed an old post of my own from 2011 confirms this – an 1839 edition has them on page 153.  Our passage is on p.214:

The editor tells us that he has placed an asterisk after some entries, which appear differently in more recent manuscripts.  I found his account of the manuscripts to be both vague and unhelpful, but learned that there are scholia in a St Gall manuscript.  This turns out to be Codex Sangallensis 871, 11th century, which is online at the amazing e-codices site here.  However the scholia were only copied for the first few pages.  Here is the starting page:

Later pages have space left for the scholia, which is not there.  The beginning of satire 6 is on p.46:

I don’t think that I have looked at the scholia themselves – last time it was the biography that interested me.  It is interesting to see them.