Corrections and Conjectures on the Text of Sophocles

Towards a stratigraphy of the corrections and conjectures to Sophocles’ text. During the five centuries following the earliest printed editions of Greek major tragedians – Aeschylus (1518), Sophocles (1502), Euripides (1494, 1503, 1545) – the methods of textual criticism have been marked by progressive sophistication. The overall work of textual philologists may be roughly described as a stratification of corrections applied to texts corrupted by arbitrary alterations and countless faults. All amendments, both new and adopted from previous philological interventions, sometimes look technically adequate; nonetheless what is left unsaid is that even the best-grounded corrections and conjectures pertain to a textual and interpretative context wider than the word or words under scrutiny. Such process ends up more or less inadvertently affecting both our interpretation of the text and the history of previous interpretations. This is especially true because the empirically derived amendments make up a paratext (the critical apparatus) which, while being heavily selective, aims at being exhaustive. Hence we face the illusion of a “magnificent and progressive fate” of the ars critica which sacrifices the idea of textual criticism as an interpretation of structures and, from a historical viewpoint, as a sequence of interpretations, sometimes antagonistic and sometimes converging, yet often interconnected and interdependent. To de-contextualize, both in the text and in the corresponding apparatus, amendments resulting from a vivacious critical debate may turn into a historically, exegetically, and even critically illegitimate patchwork. This is why we feel the need to make these materials available to the scientific community by means of a database allowing for research in the areas of both textual criticism and the history of philology.

The repertory. In the mid-seventies Doctor Liny van Paassen, a student of Professor Jan Coenraad Kamerbeek at Amsterdam University, painstakingly catalogued various corrections, conjectures, and integrations to the Sophoclean text published up to 1975. This catalogue consists of a card index of some tens of thousands of cards and a few notebooks in which the author recorded the contents of the cards and the bibliographical key to most of the concise references. This is invaluable material, already occasionally consulted by various scholars. In 2001 this handwritten repertory was handed over to Guido Avezzù, at that time Professor of Greek Literature at Verona University by the author, Liny van Paassen, by Professor Ian Maarten Bremer (former chair of Greek Literature at Amsterdam University) and by Professor Anna Maria van Erp Taalman Kip (who succeeded him in the post). Both card index and notebooks are being checked by a team directed by Guido Avezzù, responsible for the in-depth revisions and integrations which will be carried out as well as for the necessary updating. We regard the Repertory as a precious source of the history of the philological method, in general, and of Sophoclean textual exegesis, in particular, and we aim at making it available for systematic, and not merely desultory, use. To this purpose, the following operating steps are essential:

a. A line-by-line revision of the annotations to the seven complete Sophoclean tragedies;
b. An enlargement of the Repertory through the addition of both published and unpublished materials related to the Sophoclean fragments;
c. The addition of currently missing published and unpublished materials from the editio princeps to the present;
d. The construction of a bibliographical key;
e. The construction of a web-interfaced database (CCTS – Corrections and Conjectures on the Text of Sophocles).

As part of our Skenè Project, the first release in HTML format from CCTS will be shortly issued and will include the upgraded content of the cards referring to a few hundred lines from Oedipus Tyrannus. The first CCTS release will regard single lines, bibliographical references and textual suggestions.

The Team
Prof. Guido Avezzù, Greek Literature – Verona (leader)
Prof. Gherardo Ugolini, Classics – Verona
Dr Francesco Lupi, Greek Literature – Postdoc, Verona
Dr Marco Duranti – Ph.D. in Philological, Literary and Linguistic Studies, Verona

Advisory Board
Gerard J. Boter, Greek Language and Literature – Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Adele Teresa Cozzoli, Greek Literature – Roma
Francis Dunn, Classics – Santa Barbara
Patrick Finglass, Greek – Nottingham
Walter Lapini, Greek Language and Culture – Genua
Enrico Medda, Greek Literature – Pisa
Franco Montanari, Greek Literature – Genua
Glenn Most, Greek Philology – SNS, Pisa
Patrizia Mureddu, Greek Literature – Cagliari
Antonietta Porro, Greek Literature – Università Cattolica, Milano
Seth Schein, Comparative Literature – Davis
Alan H. Sommerstein, Greek – Nottingham
Renzo Tosi, Greek Literature – Bologna
Bernhard Zimmermann, Greek Literature – Freiburg i. B.