What does “magganum” mean? Looking for the Commentator Cruquianus of Horace

While working on the Life of St George, I came across an unusual word, “magganum”.  Whatever it was, it was being used during the tortures inflicted on the saint.  The dictionaries were really not very helpful!  Gaffiot thought it could mean “wine barrel”, but also pointed me to “maganum” which Du Cange thought meant “war machine”.  Unhappily Arndt’s text of the Life is essentially a transcript of a medieval manuscript, so the spellings cannot be relied on; while a similar Passio was printed by Huber, but Huber didn’t know what the word meant either!

This evening I had a go with Google.  A site called Dicolatin knew of the word, but suggested that it simply meant “wooden barrel”.  Another site seemingly based on LSJ suggested that it meant “a wine-vessel made of wood, Schol. Cruq. ad Hor. C. 1, 9, 8.”

What on earth was that reference, tho?  Luckily the same page expanded this a bit, “Schol. Cruq. u. Acro Hor. carm. 1, 9, 8.”, and a bit of googling revealed the meaning.  This gnomic phrase indicates the scholia from Cruquius on the “carmina” of Horace, book 1, poem 9, line 8.

But who is Cruquius?  And where can I find his scholia?

Cruquius turns out to be an old editor of Horace, who printed an edition in 1578 in Antwerp, reprint 1579.  Cruquius had had access to four manuscripts from a Dutch monastery, all destroyed a decade earlier during the wars of religion.  These contained interesting comments on the text, explaining individual words.  These scholia were ancient, and contained in no other manuscript.  For lack of a better term, the unknown ancient author of the scholia is known as the “Commentator Cruquianus”.  This, then, is what I needed to access.

But where on earth could these scholia be found?

It turns out that there are several sets of ancient scholia on Horace.  There are scholia from the 3rd century AD by Porphyrio;[1] other scholia by pseudo-Acronis.[2]  Any search for “Commentum in Horatium” brings up endless editions of both in Archive.org.  There is also a four volume Scholia in Horatium, by H. J. Botschuyver, Amsterdam 1935-42.  But this was inaccessible to me.

But I was unable to establish if anyone had ever reprinted the scholia from Cruquius.  Nor could I locate his edition in Google Books.

Eventually I had a lucky break: I found a reprint of Cruquius, from 1579.  It’s online here at Google Books.

On page 28 is the text of the Commentator Cruquianus on Carmen I.9, line 8.  It reads:

diota. vas еst vinarium duas ansas habens, quasi duas auriculas, unde nomen habet: aliud еst quod Magganum dicitur, vas vinarium ex ligno confectum.

This is an explanation of the word “diota” in the line of Horace: “a vessel is a wine-container having two handles, like two ears, from which it gets its name: otherwise it is what is called “magganum”, a wine-container vessel made out of wood.”

Which is what I was looking for.  Is it the right meaning for St George?  Well, I shall now have to go back and look at the context.  But it was interesting to find these ancient scholia!

  1. [1]Meyer, Pomponii Porphrionis Commentum in Horatium, 1894. Online here.
  2. [2]Keller, Pseudacronis scholia in Horatium vetustiora, 1902. Vol. 1 online here; vol 2 here.

Roman pranks: Glueing a coin to the pavement, in Horace and Persius

While reading Horace at the weekend in the old Loeb edition, my eye fell upon a passage in Epistles I, XVI 63:[1]

Qui melior servo, qui liberior sit avarus, in triviis fixum cum se demittit ob assem, non video; nam qui cupiet, metuet quoque ; porro, qui metuens vivet, liber mihi non erit umquam.

How the miser is better than a slave, or is more free, when he stoops at the crossroads to pick up the copper fastened there,[a] I do not see: for he who covets will also have fears; further, he who lives in fear, will never, to my mind, be free.

The footnote indicated:

a. We are told that Roman boys would solder a coin to the pavement and then ridicule those who tried to pick it up (so scholiast on Persius, v. 111).

Persius imitates the lines from Horace in Satire 5, line 111.  So looking at Jahn’s 1843 edition of Persius and the scholia,[2] which is most likely the edition referenced, I find the scholion as follows:

111. Inque luto fixum, id est: Sordidum lucrum spernis; aut certe visum in luto nummum praetermittis, quia solent pueri, ut ridendi causam habeant, assem in silice plumbatum infigere, ut qui viderint, se ad colligendum inclinesit, nec tamen possint avellere, quo facto pueri etiam acclamare solent.

That is:

You spurn filthy cash; or at least, seeing a penny lying in the mud, you pass by, because boys, thinking it grounds for a laugh, used to fasten a coin on the stone with solder, so that when someone saw it and bent down to pick it up, and was unable to pull it of, when this happened, the boys commonly shout “[try] again”![3]

Human nature remains the same, even over a period of two thousand years.  For I remember this prank being practised a couple of decades ago on a television show that relied on this kind of embarrassment for its “humour”.  I have seen a coin affixed to the  ground in just this manner.

  1. [1]Tr. Rushton Fairclough, 1961. P.355-6 in the Loeb, volume 2.
  2. [2]Otto Jahn, Auli Persii Flacci Satirarum liber, 1843. Online at Archive.org, here.  The page is 332, which is p.546 in the PDF, the scholia on Satire V.
  3. [3]Translation mine: corrected from comment by Alexander MacAulay – thank you!

From my diary

Back at work after two weeks illness, and I find myself suffering from the tiredness that goes with being less than fully fit after illness.  But I’m still busy with this and that.

I’ve been reading a little red hardback Loeb edition of Horace, and enjoying it more than I thought that I might.  I’ve read it through before, of course, but it wasn’t very interesting to me then.  This time it has been very good to read.  The editor refers to the scholiasts on Horace; Porphyrio and the like.  Their explanatory passages tell us who were some of the now-mysterious personages referred to in the text.  Isn’t it funny that we don’t have translations of these?  I know that the old scholia on Juvenal are really quite short; and I wish these existed in English.  Perhaps I should seek out the scholia on Horace also.

The Horace has been on my shelves for ages.  It wasn’t new when I bought it for five pounds at some unremembered second-hand shop.  It was reprinted in 1961, and so I must infer was the property of another.  His heirs disposed of his books for a song, no doubt, and so it comes to me.  There is no book-plate – do men use book-plates any more? – nor note of name.  One day it will pass on from me also.  I hope the next owner enjoys it too.

Work on the Mithras site continues, and consists at the moment of adding entries from Vermaseren’s Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentum Religionis Mithriacae to the site.  I try to find a photograph in every case, although clearly more work will be needed.  Gratifyingly, it is attracting some traffic.  I haven’t really worked on the text pages on the site much.  Once I have identified all the inscriptions and monuments that reference “Arimanius”, then I shall rework that page.  That would seem to be a good way forward.  In the mean time, I can do best by adding data.

Most recently I’ve been looking at some of the entries in the CIMRM for the Carrawburgh Mithraeum.  These mainly consist of quotations from the Illustrated London News, as the temple had only just been discovered in the 50’s.  Irritatingly the ILN is not online.  There is a gushy story in the Guardian about it “going online”, but in reality all that has happened is that a commercial company has digitised it and made access available for money to well-heeled institutions.  I shall need to consult it, and that means a 40 mile journey.  I could wish that our government put a stop to this kind of extortion racket, which, after all, is funded by taxpayers money.

But this has led me to draw up a list of things to do, places to go, and photos to take.  I have also started to look around to find out how I can discover what monuments, items, inscriptions about Mithras have been published in the last 50 years.  At some point I shall have to start searching these, draw up a table of monuments and add them to the site.  It will be rather fun to do some field trips!  But … I shall probably have to seek the cooperation of the curators.  And petty bureaucrats can be a pain.  Likewise I need to get good photographs, yet I am a rotten photographer.  So a little planning and thought seems called for.