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CHAPTER 6 REHABILITATING THE TEXT Proofreading and the Past Ametaphor running through the imperial letter suggests an equivalence between the rehabilitation of Flavian and the correction (emendatio) of texts. Most immediately the metaphor alludes to the comparability of a political rehabilitation and the practice of history, but there is more to the allusion. The elder Flavian himself wrote a history—the imperial letter mentions his Annales—and his two descendants who are involved in the rehabilitation, Flavian the younger and Dexter, are known to have corrected manuscripts of portions of Livy’s history. This correction of manuscripts is an activity they shared with other members of the elite, and for that matter with most other readers. For modern readers, who have been reared to expect the standardized and relatively ‘‘clean’’ texts of the print media, it can be difficult to appreciate just how regularly scribal culture produces texts with serious flaws, from misspellings to omissions to complete gibberish. In this environment the process of correction is a fundamental part of the act of reading. Correction—emendatio —was routine for anyone who read anything. There can be no question of imagining, as did Herbert Bloch, that it is a specialized activity like modern textual criticism, employed exclusively by a small intellectual elite for propagandistic purposes. At the same time, it would be a mistake to follow the trend of recent scholarship (epitomized in the writing of Alan Cameron) and to imagine that because correction is routine it must therefore be strictly functional, without any larger cultural significance. One might begin to approach the problem of the various connotations of the practice of correction by asking why readers of the period bothered to correct at all, why they circulated their corrected manuscripts and signed their names to them.1 These subscriptions, along with the corrections, were reproduced in subsequent copies made from the manuscripts. Certain corrections were considered more valuable and valid than others, whether because of the fame of the correctors or because of the quality and intelligence of the corrections. Some corrected copies were regarded as superior to others . In a subscription to Cicero’s De lege agraria, for example, a certain Statilius Maximus says that he corrected his text of that work against a copy which had been in the possession of Cicero’s secretary, Tiro. Gellius says that he had seen a text of Ennius, one with corrections in the hand of Lampadio (Lampadionis manu emendatum, 18.5.1). Donatus, following Suetonius, says that the Aeneid was corrected in a rough way (Aeneid summatim emendata) after the death of Vergil by Varius and Tucca (Donatus Vit. Verg. 39; Suet. Praef. 2.12). Jerome mentions that Cicero corrected the text of Lucretius (Chron. Euseb. ad ann. 94). These examples show that corrected manuscripts circulated, that the corrections and subscriptions to them were noticed, and that credit for the corrections was attributed to particular people. The correction and annotation of errors in manuscript is bound up with the desire to recover the integrity of something that has been damaged, a desire that also supports the practice of history (see Chapter 5 above). That integrity may be associated only with the text itself or with the intentions of the author. In making such corrections the Romans evidently had the notion that the text, like a historical document, is a kind of trace, which embodies certain intentions that should be reconstructed, understood, and respected. In a scribal culture, these intentions are self-evidently fragile things, susceptible to corruption and even destruction. Authors occasionally corrected copies of their own work, and such corrections were regarded as authoritative . In a famous case, Martial addressed a friend who wanted him to furnish a text of the epigrams corrected in his own hand: ‘‘Pudens, you require me to correct my little books with my own pen and hand. Oh, how excessively you appreciate and love me, you who want to have an original of my trifles’’ (Cogis me calamo manuque nostra / emendare meos, Pudens, libellos. / o quam nimium probas amasque, / qui vis archetypas habere nugas!) (Ep. 7.11). Boethius corrected a copy of his own work on arithmetic (subscription to the De arithmetica ).2 When Augustine sent a copy of his City of God to a friend, he says that he too had corrected the books (Ep. 1A.4). So, in a very general way, the practice of emendatio is an entirely appropriate metaphor for the practice of history, which is also frequently...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780292799158
Related ISBN
9780292731219
MARC Record
OCLC
55889846
Pages
366
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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