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A corruption in the text of Socrates and Dionysius detected: a puzzle set

di DAVID BAIN (Manchester)

greek texts

The second sentence of the section on the Babylonian stone in the lapidary work known as Socrates and Dionysius[1] runs as follows in the text of Halleux: ho dè Babylónios échei hos ánthrakos kaioménou augén; hedùs hósper helíou anatolé. Halleux like J. Mesk[2] before him prints this text without comment, translating "la pierre de Babylone a comme l'éclat du charbon qui brûle. Elle est douce comme un lever du soleil" . In what sense, however, is the sunrise "douce" and what does "douce" mean in relation to a description of the stone? Hedús was already called into question by de Mély who in the 1898 edition of the work produced in collaboration with C.-E. Ruelle suggested reading éde[3].

Unfortunately their text here as elsewhere is based on a misreading of the manuscripts[4]: hedùs di'hespéras <kaì> anatolêi.

There is nothing comparable with hedùs in the parallel material on the stone where the description of it as fiery prevails. Epiphanius[5] describes it as puropòs tôi eídei kaì haimatoeidés, sardíoi tôi ichthýi tetaricheuménoi eoikós. Surely in this context the reference should be to the glow of the sunrise. Hedùs must conceal a disjunction.

This diagnosis is confirmed by a parallel passage that became known only relatively recently. In 1976 D. Kaimakis published the first truly critical edition of the medico-magical work known as the Cyranides. Using many more manuscripts than the first editor, Ruelle, he produced a much longer Greek text[6]. He also persuaded himself that he had unearthed material from lost books of the Cyranides, additional to the four that were already known. These consisted of book five, dubbed by Kaimakis Kuranídos biblíon pémpton perì botanôn, twenty four brief chapters on the medicinal powers of plants arranged alphabetically, and the incomplete[7] 'book six', nine chapters, if anything even briefer, on the powers of stones.

Neither 'book' is transmitted under the title Kuranís and one of them, book five, is in fact ascribed to a specific author, Aetius. 'Book six' which is found only in a single Leiden manuscript, L (Leiden Voss. gr. F58, ff. 233r-236r, 16th cent.), goes under the heading perì líthon dynámeos kaì chromáton katà alphábeton. Halleux and Schamp are not convinced that either of these so- called books belongs to the Cyranides (xxviii. n. 1, p. 168 n. 1) and I hope shortly to publish a discussion supporting their scepticism. Be that as it may, Kaimakis failed to notice that the second section of his book six corresponds to Socrates and Dionysius 30, the section on the Babylonian stone[8].

reference greek texts

The sentence in Kaimakis's text which corresponds to the sentence whose integrity I have questioned runs as follows: ésti (échei L) dè hos ánthrax kaiómenos è hos aûgos [9] anatolês è dýseos pyraugés (Cyranides 6 . 8. 3). Here we find as one might have expected the glow of the stone compared to the sunrise as well as to burning coal. This confirms the suggestion that the inexplicable hedùs in Socrates and Dionysius conceals a disjunction. A third analogy, apparently absent from Socrates and Dionysius is to be found: the stone's colour is compared also to the sunset, è dýseos puraugés.

These words contain a sequence of letters which is virtually identical to the sequence of letters in the corrupt part of the sentence in Socrates and Dionysius: eduseospyr~e[or he]dusosper. Clearly the latter contained a mention of the sunset as well as the sunrise. The corrupt words therefore represent è dýs<e>os pur<augés >. We are now left with the sentence reference greek textho dè Babylónius échei hos ánthrakos kaioménou augèn è dýs<e>os pyr<augés> helíou anatolé. This sentence contains the three elements of comparison found in the parallel passage, but in the wrong order and with a lack of syntax. Some kind of serious dislocation has taken place. All the editor can do is obelize from hedùs to anatolé and indicate in the apparatus that hedùs hósper conceals è dýseos puraugés[10] . Others more ingenious and versed than I am in the mechanics of corruption are invited to try to restore order to the text and explain why its present disorder arose.

[1]Socrates and Dionysius, 30. 1 in R. Halleux-J. Schamp, Les lapidaires grecs: lapidaire orphique, kérygmes lapidaires d'Orphée, Socrate et Denys, lapidaire nautique, Damigéron-Evax, Paris 1985, 168. On this work see, as well as Halleux-Schamp, 139ff., K. W. Wirbelauer, Antike Lapidaren, Berlin 1937, 31ff.

[2]J. Mesk, Ein unedierter Traktat perì lithon «WSt» 20, 1898, 309-21.

[3]F. de Mély, Les lapidaires de l'antiquité et du moyen âge, Tome II 1, Les lapidaires grecs, Paris 1898.

[4]This is one of two examples noted by W.Kroll, Analecta Graeca, «Wissentschaftliche Beilage zum Vorlesunsgverzeichniss der Universität Greifswald» 1901, 1-16, 13 n. 1. I am grateful to Professor K.-D. Fischer for supplying me with a copy of this work.

[5]Epiphanius 1. 194, de Mély-Ruelle (note 3). On Epiphanius see Wirbelauer (note 1), 13ff.

[6]D. Kaimakis, Die Kyraniden (Beiträge zur klassischen Philologie herausgegeben von E. Heitsch, R. Merkelbach und C. Zintzen, Heft 76), Meisenheim am Glan 1976. For Ruelle see note 3.

[7]Recognised as such by the scribe, who ends with the words zétei ta loipá. The work only reaches the letter gamma.

[8]This was observed by Halleux, 168 n. 1.

[9]On this word, hapax with the meaning "brightness", see G. Panayiotou, Paralipomena Lexicographica Cyranidea, «ICS» 15 1990, 295-338, 304.

[10]It may be that the word concealed was pyraugízon: cf. Cyran. 6. 1. 2.

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Last technical revision December, 15, 1995.

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