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Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the…

Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin…

by L. D. Reynolds, N.G. Wilson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This is a textbook aimed at graduate level classics scholars who can read Latin and make their way through Greek. My 3 years of high school Latin and 3 weeks of Greek tutorials aren't up to making any sense of the many passages in those languages, but that does not mean that most of the content of book was lost on me, just the fun details.
About 1/2 of the volume is about the various ways the Greek and Latin texts circulating at the end of the western Roman Empire were preserved to modern times. This is more about a series of sieves than about great disasters, though the two of the latter that are highlighted are the Eastern Roman Iconoclasts and the sacking of Constantinople in 1204. Not the loss of the library of Alexandria, which is passed over as exaggerated. Sieve #1 was the transfer from papyrus scroll to parchment codex, during a time when scholarship was at a lull, and materials were increasingly hard to get or afford. Sieve #2 was the transfer from unical to one of the much more readable minuscule scripts. The #0 sieve is that of fashion, which was pretty much a constant from the first written texts.
It is also the history of western textual criticism which arose from the near impossibility of getting a non-corrupted copy of any text and the strategies to fix one's own copy which pretty much started as soon as the first copy was made.
The tone is serious with a couple of capital snarks -
pg 94 "men were found who rose above the rather constipated limits of much Carolingian thought and literature"
pg 104 "This is largely a moral rag-bag of the type one meets frequently in the Middle Ages."
Classical scholarship since the Renaissance and an essay on textural criticism are about 1/4 and notes, index, and plates, gray and unattractive, the rest.
I do wish the term Byzantine would cease to be used for the Eastern Roman Empire. It's not how they thought of themselves. ( )
  quondame | Aug 15, 2019 |
Scribes and Scholars by L. D. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson is a treatise about the transmission of ancient Greek and Latin literature from the time of its creation until the early nineteenth century. It covers book production, libraries, book collecting, scripts, scrolls, codices, papyrus, parchment, paper, printing, book preservation, rediscovery of old and lost books, and many other similar topics. It treats the classical centuries in both Greece and Rome and the Roman Empire, the Western European Middle Ages, the Byzantine Empire, the Renaissance, and the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. It is filled with anecdotes and biographical information. It also offers a compendious description of textual criticism, its major concepts and methods.

The study is exhaustive, but Reynolds has a way with words and I didn't find it a slog to get through, except for the textual criticism parts, which Reynolds does have the good grace to warn the reader off of. One of the book's best features is detailed up-to-date bibliography (in the chapter notes). I recommend this book to classicists, medievalists, students of the Renaissance, and bibliophiles and library enthusiasts. ( )
  anthonywillard | Aug 16, 2016 |
Edition: // Descr: viii, 185 p. : plates 20.5 cm. // Series: Call No. { 847.5 R23 } Contains Select Bibliography, Index of MSS, General Index, Notes to the Plates, and Plates. // //
  ColgateClassics | Oct 26, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Reynolds, L. D.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, N.G.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferrari, MirellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is designed as a simple introduction for beginners to a field of classical studies which generally remai little known or misunderstood despite its importance and intrinsic interest.

In preparing this new edition we have attempted to retain the principal feature of the original, a readable text unencumbered by a heavy apparatus of learning, and at the time to meet the criticism that the absence of notes might make it difficult for readers to pursue any topic of special interest to them.


A description of the processes by which classical literature has been transmitted from the ancient world to the present day may conveniently begin with a brief outline of the origin and growth of trade in books.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0198721463, Paperback)

The third edition of Scribes and Scholars takes into account the numerous discoveries in this rapidly-advancing field of knowledge by offering substantial revisions and additions. A note on how to interpret the information given in an apparatus criticus is also included.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the second edition of this classic work a section of notes was included, and a new chapter was added which dealt with some aspects of scholarship since the Renaissance. For this third edition the authors have responded to the urgent need to take account of the very large number ofdiscoveries in this rapidly advancing field of knowledge by substantially revising or enlarging certain sections.

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