MSS. of the Argonautica
The principal ms. of the Argonautica is the Laurentianus xxxii, 9, in the Laurentian Library at Florence, dating from the tenth century. This famous ms. contains also the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. It is adopted [p. 53]by Merkel as his basis in constituting the text of the Argonautica. Of its importance for the text of Sophocles, Jebb says: "With L safe, the loss of our other mss. would have been a comparatively light misfortune."152
Three centuries later than L we have three other mss. of Apollonius: (1) Vaticanus 280, in the Palatine Library, collated by Flangini. (2) Guelferbytanus, the ms. of Wolfenbttel. This ms., known as G, ranks next in importance to L. (3) Laurentianus xxxii, 16. Keil regarded this ms. as transcribed either from L or a copy of L, but Ziegler and Merkel have shown from its frequent and striking agreements with G that both it and G are from a common archetype.
All other mss. are of the fifteenth or sixteenth century. They are classified by Merkel as follows:
(a) Membranacei--Ambrosianus B 98; Laurentianus xxxi, 26; Laurentianus xxxi, 11; Laurentianus xxxii, 35.
(b) Chartacei--Ambrosianus 22, containing the first two books; Ambrosianus 37; Ambrosianus 64, ending at iii, 1306; Laurentianus xxxi, 29; Vaticanus 150, containing the first three books; Vaticanus 36; Vaticanus 37; Vaticanus 146; Vaticanus 1358; Ottobonensis 306; Ricardianus 35; Parisienses 2727, 2846, 2728, 2729, 1845; Vindobonensis and Wratislavensis, both collated by Wellauer.
There are thus twenty-six mss. in all, of which the last twenty-two, according to Merkel, are far inferior to the first four.
The value of the Paris mss. has been much [p. 54]disputed. Brunck esteemed them very highly, and mainly relied on them in his edition. Merkel, on the other hand, seems to go to the opposite extreme in disparaging them, assigning them to the same category as the interpolated Italian mss. of Latin poets. He says of them: "Inest his non nihil forsitan e melioribus libris petitum, sed quo uti non liceat aliter nisi cum carere possis." Whatever is in the text on their authority has, in Merkel's opinion, no more weight than an ingenious conjecture. These strictures appear far too severe in the case of mss. on which we have to rely to an appreciable extent. There are over fifty passages in the ordinary accepted text of the Argonautica where the reading rests on the authority of the Paris mss.,153 and in all these passages L and G are but broken reeds.
All the mss. of the thirteenth century are vitiated by interpolations, and this is a prominent feature of G. As a typical instance of this defect we may take iv 1429, δενδρέων, οἷαι ἔσαν, τοῖαι πάλιν ἔμπεδον αὔτως, where for οἷαι G has ροἱαὶ, with a gloss ῥόαι καὶ ροιαὶ καὶ ροΐδεα δένδρα εὔκαρπα. Apart from these interpolations, its readings in conjunction with those of L carry great weight, and in several places where L is corrupt G has preserved the true reading.154 In the [p. 55]first book there is a serious break in G, three hundred lines (560-861) being wanting.
In L we find many corrections made by a later hand. These corrections, as Keil and Merkel show, were made, not from the Laurentian archetype, but from the archetype of G and L 16, as they agree very closely in writing, spelling, and form with G and not with L. It is uncertain whether this second hand was the hand of the same scribe as the first, only working at a later period, as Keil thinks, or not, but that is of no great consequence, since in any case it affords us fragments of a different recension. This same second hand wrote the Laurentian scholia, which are more in accord with the readings of G than with those of L.
It is possible to trace the family of mss. to which G and L 16 are to be referred considerably further back than the tenth century, for the Et. Mag. often cites Apollonius, and the readings it contains, which were derived from grammarians like Choeroboscus (c. 6 cent.), agree as a rule with the archetype of G and L 16. From this it is clear that another recension of Apollonius distinct from L existed in the fifth or fourth century. But this by no means detracts from the authority of L, which by the superiority of its readings in countless doubtful passages, and the purity and correctness of its forms,155 must always constitute the basis of any critical text of the Argonautica.156