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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2013

S.P. Oakley
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
E-mail address:


In these notes it will be argued that our text of Cicero's Philippics may be improved in nearly a score passages by printing manuscript readings that editors have repeatedly spurned. If my detailed arguments are accepted, this article will have also a wider import, serving as a reminder that when a manuscript tradition is bifid both branches should be taken seriously, even if one branch is in general more corrupt than the other, and showing how modern technology may be harnassed as a powerful aid in the study of Cicero's idiom.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 2013

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An oral version of this paper was read at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa in March 2012; I am grateful to Prof. G.B. Conte for the invitation and for the audience for their comments. I thank also Prof. M.D. Reeve (to whom I owe my interest in these problems) and Dr D.H. Berry for improving an earlier draft of these notes; further refinements were suggested by CQ's anonymous referee and its editor, Prof. B.J. Gibson; and Prof. P. Kruschwitz gave advice on the problems of 1.26–7.


1 I have consulted the following editions of the Philippics (some including notes or commentary): C. Halm (Zurich, 1856, part of Halm's revision with J.G. Baiter of J. Caspar Orelli's edn of the speeches; this edn made important advances over its predecessors); A.C. Clark (Oxford [OCT], 1901, 19182); A. Boulanger and P. Wuilleumier (Paris [Budé], 1959–60, 2 vols. [Boulanger only for 1–4]); P. Fedeli (Leipzig [Teubner], 1982); D.R. Shackleton Bailey (Chapel Hill, 1986 and, revised by J.T. Ramsey and G. Manuwald, Cambridge MA, 2009); W.K. Lacey (2 only, Warminster, 1986); J.T. Ramsey (1–2 only, Cambridge, 2003); G. Manuwald (3–9 only, Berlin, 2007, 2 vols.); G. Magnaldi (Alessandria, 2008 = Minima Philologica 5). References to these works are by name of editor or commentator alone. Note additionally that Magnaldi, Parola = G. Magnaldi, Parola d'autore, parola di copista: usi correttivi ed esercizi di scuola nei codici di Cic. Phil. 1.1–13.10 (Alessandria, 2004 = Minima Philologica 2); on the arguments of this book see the review of Reeve, M.D., Gnomon 83 (2011), 2731Google Scholar.

2 Bernkastel-Kues C 52, s. xii, contains excerpts made originally by Sedulius Scottus; it derives from V.

3 Very occasionally I have suppressed a variant in a major witness to D, where reconstruction of what stood in D itself is uncontroversial. For the purposes of this article all the prefaces to the editions of Clark, Fedeli and Magnaldi provide more than sufficient information, as does the discussion by Reeve, M.D. and Rouse, R.H., in L.D. Reynolds (ed.), Texts and Transmission (Oxford, 1983), 74–8Google Scholar. For important work on the transmission see e.g. Clark, A.C., ‘The textual criticism of Cicero's Philippics’, CR 14 (1900), 3948Google Scholar; ‘The textual criticism of Cicero's Philippics, and of the orations before Caesar’, ibid. 249–57, at 249–51; The Descent of Manuscripts (Oxford, 1918), 162211Google Scholar; H.M. Hine, Review of Fedeli, CR ns 34 (1984), 36–9, at 36–8; and G. Magnaldi, ‘Le Filippiche di Cicerone: lo stemma dei codices decurtati’, RHT ns 3 (2008), 59–87. No one has yet investigated all witnesses to D with the aim of establishing which are eliminable and which are not. However, those used by editors have been thoroughly studied, and it is very unlikely that a comprehensive study would make any difference to the editing of the text (especially where V is extant, which it is for the greater part of the text).

4 See e.g. Fedeli, pp. viii–ix (with better examples than Clark, Descent [n. 3], 173).

5 More colourfully Clark, Descent (n. 3), 168 writes ‘[t]he scribe was an ignoramus, who wrote without understanding and reproduced nonsense with fidelity’ and (170) ‘[t]he writer of V was capable of anything’; but one should be cautious about criticizing a scribe whose exemplar is no longer extant.

6 For a good succinct characterization, see Shackleton Bailey, pp. xiii–xiv.

7 R.G.M. Nisbet, Review of Boulanger and Wuilleumier, CR ns 11 (1961), 135–6, at 136, points out that Faernus alternatively conjectured atque, and that V twice elsewhere has aquae for atque. This conjecture could be right, but, although C. has ac five times before saepe, he never has atque, and the corruption seems to go back beyond V.

8 See her forceful statement at p. xl, which includes ‘Date queste caratteristiche della tradizione manoscritta, ho scelto di stampare ovunque possibile il testo offerto da V’.

9 Compare the remarks of Reeve (n. 1), passim.

10 Unless otherwise stated it should be assumed in my discussions that editors follow V.

11 At e.g. 2Verr. 2.26, 3.29, and Prov. cons. 8 ego comes close to dico, as it would here if D's reading is accepted.

12 Magnaldi, Parola 150 n. 49 offers this (unlikely) explanation: ‘Con l'aggiunta di ego si intende verisimilmente puntualizzare l'antitesi con 1.27.’

13 Thus Magnaldi, Parola 139 and 191.

14 To give just a few examples, in studying the relatives of Petrarch's MS of Quintus Curtius Rufus (Paris lat. 5720), I have found that even in the small portions of text that I have been collating several make omissions of enim: at 5.5.1 it is omitted by Toledo 49–9; at 7.1.35 by a host of MSS including Rome, Angelica 2177 and Rome, Casanatense 1085; and at 7.2.39 by Trento, Com. 1659, and Vat. Ottob. lat. 2009.

15 First at Tert. Adv. Valent. 37 (CSEL 37, p. 211.7; CCSL 2.2, p. 778).

16 First at Rufin. Euseb. Hist. eccl. 6.9.8 (p. 541.11 Schwartz-Mommsen).

17 In arguing thus Magnaldi follows the consensus of most recent editors. One may wonder whether D's reading gives inferior sense at 2.19 and 12.12 but in none of these passages does it make for better prose rhythm. See also Magnaldi's edn, p. xxxiv.

18 See also her remarks on p. 152 and p. xxxiv of her edn.

19 C.G. Cobet, ‘Ad Ciceronis Philippicas’, Mnemosyne ns 7 (1879), 113–79, at 135.

20 See too Magnaldi, edn, p. xxxiv.

21 Hine (n. 3), 39.

22 Dott. M. Mistretta reminds me of Hor. Carm. 2.14.13–14 frustra cruento Marte carebimus | fractisque rauci fluctibus Hadriae; Nisbet and Hubbard have a good note on the verb (Nisbet, R.G.M. and Hubbard, M., Horace: Odes Book II [Oxford, 1978], 231Google Scholar).

23 Magnaldi, Parola 145 misunderstands this point.

24 Ibid.


25 Manuwald writes of its having a trochee + cretic. However, she appears to think that with D's reading the colon ends at periculo; sense shows that it ends at possumus.

26 See August. Trin. 15.22 (CCSL 50A, p.519), Rufin. Clem. Recognitiones 1.1.2 (p. 6 Rehm and Paschke) and Boeth. Quomodo substantiae, Loeb edn. p. 38 line 8.

27 Magnaldi, Parola 210 explains the variants in this way but thinks that it is D that is corrupt.

28 See TLL 7.2.530.65–531.2.

29 There are several sentences in which quidem and arbitror are found together, but in all quidem (with or without ne) limits only an individual word. See e.g. Tusc. 1.99 utrum autem sit melius, dii inmortales sciunt, hominem quidem scire arbitror neminem, where it points the contrast between hominem and dii immortales.

30 Magnaldi, Parola 212 writes ‘L'aggiunta di possent mira probabilmente a reinforzare l'ottativo’, but she wrongly imagines that it was a scribe rather than C. himself who felt the need for the reinforcement.

31 See conveniently e.g. Nisbet, R.G.M., M. Tulli Ciceronis In L. Calpurnium Pisonem oratio (Oxford, 1961)Google Scholar, p. xvii or Berry, D.H., Cicero Pro P. Sulla oratio (Cambridge, 1996), 51Google Scholar.

32 This last point is made briefly by Reeve (n. 1), 30.

33 See Oakley, S.P., ‘Notes on the text of Livy, books 26–30’, in Millett, P., Oakley, S.P. and Thompson, R.J.E. (edd.), Ratio et Res Ipsa: Classical Essays Presented to James Diggle on his Retirement [CCJ Suppl. 36] (Cambridge, 2011), 167–80, at 171Google Scholar.

34 A complete list is provided by Gelzer, M., The Roman Nobility, tr. Seager, R. (Oxford, 1969), 40–4Google Scholar. See too Berry's note (op. cit., n. 31) on Sull. 3.

35 The verb is used in the context of aes alienum also at e.g. [Caes.] B. Al. 49.1, Sen. Ben. 6.19.5, Plin. Ep. 3.11.2 and Macrob. Sat. 2.4.23. Prof. Conte suggests to me that eximere would be palaeographically easier, but I have found no parallels.

36 CQ's referee is not entirely convinced and suggests that tamen could have been interpolated as a result of D's taking si in the sense of etsi. Although I still believe D's reading to be right, I record the objection.

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