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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2013

Joyce Van Leeuwen
Excellence Cluster TOPOI, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


The present article examines the textual transmission of the Aristotelian Mechanics, a treatise on mechanical questions now generally ascribed to the Peripatetic School. The treatise was edited three times in the nineteenth century, namely by Johannes van Cappelle (1812), Immanuel Bekker (1831) and Otto Apelt (1888); most recently, an edition was produced in the twentieth century by Maria Elisabetta Bottecchia (1982). Bottecchia's edition is a clear improvement over the previous editions in the extent of its research. Whereas the other editors of the Mechanics altogether consulted a total of nine manuscripts, Bottecchia considered nearly the complete manuscript material for her critical edition of the text. When I started my project I did not expect to find significant new results which would make a completely new critical edition of the text necessary.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 2013

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1 See the list of manuscripts on pp. 185–6 for an explanation of the sigla.

2 Hadot, I., ‘La tradition manuscrite du commentaire de Simplicius sur le Manuel d’ Épictète’, RHT 8 (1978), 1108CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 89, dates V2 between 1317 and 1338; see Harlfinger, D., Die Textgeschichte der pseudo-aristotelischen Schrift ΠΕΡΙ ΑΤΟΜΩΝ ΓΡΑΜΜΩΝ: Ein kodikologisch-kulturgeschichtlicher Beitrag zur Klärung der Überlieferungsverhältnisse im Corpus Aristotelicum (Amsterdam, 1971)Google Scholar, 266, on the date of Wa.

3 This has already been noticed by Hilgers, R., ‘Eine neue Aristoteles-Handschrift in Berlin’, Codices Manuscripti 10 (1992), 62–4Google Scholar, at 63.

4 I have collated all these manuscripts with the use of microfilms stored in the Aristoteles-Archiv at the Freie Universität Berlin. I would like to thank Professor Dieter Harlfinger for providing the material of the Archive, including the partly unpublished descriptions of Aristoteles Graecus.

5 van Cappelle, J.P., Aristotelis Quaestiones Mechanicae (Amsterdam, 1812)Google Scholar.

6 Bekker, I., Aristotelis Opera II (Berlin, repr. 1960)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, e.g. at 855a38 ἡ δὲ τοῦ ἐλάττονος ἐλάττων Bekker / emendation in Be: om. codd.; 856a29 μικρὸς Bekker / emendation in Be: μέγας codd.; 857a5 ἀπ' ἄκρου Bekker: ἀπὸ μακροῦ codd.; 857a18 ἔστω μέσον Bekker: τὸ μέσον emendation in Be: om. codd.; 858b29 δὲ Bekker / emendation in Be: om. codd.

7 Apelt, O., Aristotelis quae feruntur De Plantis, De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus, Mechanica, De Lineis Insecabilibus, Ventorum Situs et Nomina, De Melisso Xenophane Gorgia (Leipzig, 1888)Google Scholar, VI, assumes that Bekker included some of Leonico's emendations in his edition; this has now been confirmed by my collations.

8 Hett, W.S., Aristotle: Minor Works (Cambridge, MA, 1936).Google Scholar

9 See Rashed, M., Die Überlieferungsgeschichte der aristotelischen Schrift De generatione et corruptione (Wiesbaden, 2001)Google Scholar, 250.

10 See Harlfinger (n. 2), 168.

11 See Rashed (n. 9), 250.

12 See e.g. Harlfinger (n. 2), 247–61 on De lineis insecabilibus; Nussbaum, M.C., ‘The text of Aristotle's De Motu Animalium’, HSPh 80 (1976), 111–59Google ScholarPubMed, at 128–31, on De motu animalium; and Bloch, D., ‘The text of Aristotle's De Sensu and De Memoria’, RHT 3 (2008), 158CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 51–6, on De sensu and De memoria.

13 See e.g. at 848a6, 850a24, 850a31, 851a13, 852b26, 854b27, 855a3, 856a24, 856a34, 857b12 and 858b11.

14 The manuscripts Mv and D1, which contain only part of the readings of family b, will be discussed below.

15 See Vogel, M. and Gardthausen, V., Die griechischen Schreiber des Mittelalters und der Renaissance (Hildesheim, repr. 1966)Google Scholar, 221. Vogel was the first to decipher the name Ἰωσήϕ as the copyist of P, although the name was hardly recognizable. Harlfinger (n. 2), 253 was able to confirm this assumption by finding another manuscript Vind. hist. gr. 16 by the hand of the same scribe. Thereby he could dissolve the controversy about the date of P and proposed a date in the second half of the fourteenth century.

16 See Harlfinger (n. 2), 250.

17 Cf. Bottecchia, M.E., Aristotele: ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΑ. Tradizione manoscritta, testo critico, scolii (Padua, 1982), 80–2Google Scholar. Bottecchia mentions the contaminated character of D1, but did not notice its close connection with Mv. She lists Mv among the manuscripts collated by her, but apart from a description in the first chapter, this manuscript does not appear in her classification and it is therefore not clear to which family it belongs in her view.

18 A dependence of Mv on D1 can be ruled out by reason of omissions in D1, e.g. at 847a27, 848a16, 849b5, 851b38, 853a22 and 854a19; by reason of more complete readings in Mv at 849b17, 853b10 and 854a24; and of individual errors in D1 at 851a25, 851b8, 851b30, 852b1, 854b13 and 856b14. A reversed dependence of D1 on Mv seems unlikely since Kamariotes had in D1 some other difficulties different from those in Mv in reading his source: at 849a8 [lac.] om. ɛὔλογον D1: ɛὔλογον Mv; 849b17 ἔσται [lac.] om. ἤν D1: ἔσται δὲ α om. ἤν Mv; 857a4 αἱ [lac.] πλɛυραὶ D1: αἱ πλɛυραὶ Mv.

19 See e.g. Burnikel, W., Textgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zu neun Opuscula Theophrasts (Wiesbaden, 1974)Google Scholar, 156 n. 2; Vendruscolo, F., ‘Manoscritti greci copiati dall’ umanista e filosofo Niccolò Leonico Tomeo’, in Funghi, M.S. (ed.), ΟΔΟΙ ΔΙΖΗΣΙΟΣ. Le vie della ricerca. Studi in onori di Francesco Adorno (Florence, 1996), 543–55Google Scholar, at 549–50; Andrist, P., Les manuscrits grecs conservés à la Bibliothèque de la Bourgeoisie de Berne – Burgerbibliothek Bern: Catalogue et histoire de la collection (Zurich, 2007), 188–96Google Scholar.

20 See Sicherl, M., Griechische Erstausgaben des Aldus Manutius: Druckvorlagen, Stellenwert, kultureller Hintergrund (Paderborn, 1997)Google Scholar, 96.

21 The codex Lv is a copy of Be before the emendations were added.

22 It is also possible that Bekker did not consult Leonico's commentary himself, but borrowed Leonico's emendations from the edition by van Cappelle. Van Cappelle included many emendations by Leonico in his critical apparatus.

23 Cf. Bottecchia (n. 17), 54. Bottecchia argues for this double derivation from P and the hyparchetype by means of the following example, where she claims that the scribe was uncertain how to choose from the readings in his sources and in the end combined both: Bottecchia reads at 849b12 ἐν τ[lac.] ἐϕ'  οὗ χ σημɛῖον Oa: ἐν ἐϕ' οὗ χ σημɛῖον Ha: ἐν τῶ ἐϕ' οὗ χ σημɛῖον P. As my collations have proved, the readings in Oa and P are not deviant at all, since both read: ἐν τ[lac.] ἐϕ' οὗ χ σημɛῖον. Therefore it is not necessary to assume a further dependence apart from P on the hyparchetype.

24 The codex V2 contains abstracts from the Mechanics and is on the basis of its many modifications and strong paraphrastic character presented in the section on contaminated and incomplete manuscripts below.

25 Bottecchia (n. 17), 145–65 was the first to include the scholia to the Mechanics in her edition. However, it is important to notice that not only the scholia from family c are contained in this edition, but also the glosses added by Pachymeres (from the codex Mu), which should be separated from the ‘real’ scholia.

26 See Harlfinger (n. 2), 266 on the date of V1. The full name of the copyist remained unknown until recently. As Harlfinger informed me in October 2009 he was able to decipher the name of the copyist from another manuscript, Berol.Phill. 1582, by the same hand.

27 See Stornajolo, C., Codices Urbinates Graeci Bibliothecae Vaticanae (Rome, 1895)Google Scholar, 49.

28 See Mioni, E., Bibliothecae Divi Marci Venetiarum codices graeci manuscripti (Rome, 1972), 246–7Google Scholar and Zorzi, M., Collezioni veneziane di codici greci dalle raccolte della Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Venice, 1993)Google Scholar, 40.

29 See Tziatzi-Papagianni, M., Die Sprüche der sieben Weisen (Stuttgart, 1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 346.

30 See Diels, H., Die Handschriften der antiken Ärzte I (Berlin, 1906)Google Scholar, 38; Napolitano, F., Nardelli, M.L. and Tartaglia, L., Manoscritti greci non compresi in cataloghi a stampa (Naples, 1977), 26–7Google Scholar; Formentin, M.R., ‘Codici greci di medicina nella Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III di Napoli: le vie di acquisizione’, in Sconocchia, S. (ed.), Lingue tecniche del greco e del latino II (Bologna, 1997), 207–16Google Scholar, at 213–14.

31 As Harlfinger informed me in a conversation in May 2010.

32 Wartelle, A., Inventaire des manuscrits grecs d'Aristote et de ses commentateurs: contribution à l'histoire du texte d'Aristote (Paris, 1963)Google Scholar.

33 These autographs were identified by Harlfinger (n. 2), 357–8.

34 Harlfinger (n. 2), 358 n. 1.

35 For this reason Pachb is a not a new Aristotelian manuscript as Hilgers (n. 3) assumes. Hilgers noticed for the text passage 857b14–858b31 a proximity to the manuscripts L and Q. Apart from some small similarities between these manuscripts, there are too many peculiar readings in both L and Q, and this makes such an affiliation impossible. Peculiar errors in L can be found at 857b18, 857b33, 858a1, 858a12, 858a15, 858a16 and 858b25; and in Q at 857b18, 858a1, 858a15, 858a16, 858a23, 858b11, 858b25 and 858b26. Further L and Q do not share the variants of Pachb at 857b15, 857b33, 858b5 and 858b11.

36 Cf. Bottecchia, M.E., ‘Fonte dell’ Aldina per i ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΑ di Aristotele’, Atti dell'Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti 134 (1976), 383–94Google Scholar, at 389–92. Bottecchia here lists the text passages where V3 and the Aldina agree against the other manuscripts. In most cases the manuscript Be shares the reading of V3/Aldina, and where it has a different reading, the paraphrase by Pachymeres provides the variant of V3/Aldina; see e.g. 854b20, 856a4, 857a24, 857b12, 857b32 and 857b38. Since Bottecchia did not recognize the paraphrase of Pachymeres, she does not give a satisfying explanation for those ‘peculiar’ readings in V3, where V3 has a reading different from all manuscripts. They are definitely not a result of a derivation from the manuscripts L and P as presented in her stemma at p. 392. Probably Bottecchia supposes a different hyparchetype for V3, as she does in her edition of the Mechanics. As my collations, however, have proved, these ‘peculiar’ readings in V3 do not stem from a new hyparchetype, but are variants by Pachymeres.

37 See Sicherl (n. 20), 95–6.

38 See Canart, P., ‘Démétrius Damilas, alias le „librarius Florentinus“’, RSBN ns 14–16 (1977–9), 281347Google Scholar, at 282.

39 Canart (n. 38), 281.

40 Capocci, V., Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae Codices Barberiniani Graeci I (Vatican City, 1958)Google Scholar, 24 also gives a date in the beginning of the sixteenth century.

41 A reversed dependence of V3 on Nc can be eliminated on the basis of omissions in Nc, as e.g. at 847b23–4 and 849b5. The arrangement of the title page of Nc is already a perfect copy of V3.

42 Harlfinger (n. 2), 265, gives a terminus post quem for this manuscript between 1300 and 1325.

43 I am grateful to Professor Markus Asper, Professor Dieter Harlfinger, Dr. Marko Malink, Dr. Jacob Rosen and the anonymous reader of CQ for their valuable comments and suggestions for improvement.

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