Cardinal Bessarion’s Composite Codex: Marc. Gr. 523

 This came in the mail today.

Prof. Carlo Santini, who edited Eutropius in the Biblioteca Teubneriana in 1979, most generously sent me photographs of a part of Bessarion’s composite codex of philosophical and historiographical Greek texts (donated to the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice after his death 1472, Diktyon no. 69994). The Paeanius text, as already noted by Hans Droysen in 1879, is a direct copy of Laur. Plut. 70,5 (= L, Diktyon no. 16570).

As I already assumed in my most recent paper (“On the Transmission of Paeanius“, GRBS 63,2020,487-309, DOI 10.5281/zenodo.3960022) the Paeanius text is copied from the Laurentian ms. but independent of all younger copies. My assumptions were based on a few pages that Ciro Giacomelli kindly shared with me in February, 2020. What’s more, he promised me to photograph the rest of the text on his next visit to Venice. But that was before the plague hit.

Now, through the generosity of Prof. Santini, I can corroborate my earlier assumptions: The manuscript has the same defects as its parent, but does not copy all of its marginal notes. Because the other copies retain more of these notes, they must be independent of the Venice manuscript and are rather copied directly from L.

Two things are particularly interesting in this textual witness: Its text is in at least three places superior to its parent (avoiding needless gemination in proper names), in two of them it corresponds with its grandparent, ms. Iviron 812. And for the large gap in the middle of the text (book 6, chapters 9–11), Bessarion’s ms. leaves nearly two pages empty – apparently in hopes of eventually finding and restoring the missing text.

If only he had ventured to Mount Athos.

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