Dionysius of Halicarnassus: the Manuscripts of "The Roman Antiquities"

This work was written in 20 books, of which books 1-10 are preserved, with the greater part of book 11, and fragments of the remainder amounting altogether to about 1 book in size.  Most of the fragments come from the great collection of historical extracts made at the direction of the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the tenth century.  Photius (cod. 83) refers to it, and also (cod. 84) to a summary of it in 5 books; Stephanus of Byzantium cites numerous Italian place-names from it, the last  book named being book 19.  The author was born between 69-53BC and died probably sometime after 7BC.  The preface gives the date of publication as 7 BC (consulate of Nero and Piso), and he tells us in ch. 7 he spent 22 years researching and writing his work. The work treats in Greek of the History of Rome from earliest times down to the start of the First Punic War, the point at which the history of Polybius begins.  The author also wrote other, shorter works, the scripta rhetorica of which only fragments remain.

Manuscripts - books 1-10.

These were used by Jacoby for books 1-10:

Siglum

Location

Shelfmark & Notes

Date /
Century

A Chisanus 58 10th century
B Rome, Vatican Urbinas 105 10th-11th century
C Coislinianus 150 (also contains book 11 - see below) 16th 
D Paris, BNF Regius Parisinus 1654 & 1655 16th
E Rome, Vatican Vaticanus 133 (also contains book 11 = 'V' below) 15th
F Rome, Vatican Urbinas 106 (contains books 1-5 only) 15th

A and B are the best MSS - the others are all late and some, particularly C and D, contain numerous interpolations.  The editio princeps was based on D.  Jacoby felt a sound text should be based on A and B, and he used the late MSS hardly at all.

Manuscripts - books 1-10.

Those used for Kiessling and Jacoby for book 11:

Siglum

Location

Shelfmark & Notes

Date /
Century

L Florence, Laurentian Laurentianus Plut. LXX 5 15th
V Rome, Vatican Vaticanus 133 (= 'E' above) 15th
M Milan, Ambrosian Ambrosianus A 159 sup. 15th
C Coislinianus 150 (= 'C' above) 16th

The best of these four MSS is L, which appears to be a faithful copy of a badly damaged original; the scribe usually left gaps of appropriate length where he found the text illegible.  Second best is 'V', which only occasionally shows interpolations; but this is the same MS labelled 'E' for the first ten books and treated as a negligible witness for them.  Much inferior, however, even to 'V' are M and C, which show many unskilful attempts to correct the text, especially by filling lacunae, especially in chapters 42 and 48-49.

All these MSS derive from a poor archetype which, in addition to numerous shorter lacunae, had lost entire leaves at the end of book 11, as well as earlier, and had some of the remainder out of order.

Manuscripts - fragments from books 12-20

About half of these come from the collection made by order of the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century from then extant classical and later historians.  The excerpts were classified under various heads, and a few of these sections have been preserved, some in only a single MS.  These are the sections:

'Ursinus': De legationibus.  There are several MSS.  First published by Fulvio Orsini in 1582; critical edition by C. de Boor, Berlin 1903.  MSS:-

Siglum

Location

Shelfmark & Notes

Date /
Century

E Madrid, Escurial Scorialenses R III 14, and R III 21
V Rome, Vatican Vaticanus Graecus 1418
R Paris, BNF Parisinus Graecus 2463
B Brussels Bruxellensis 11301-16
M Monacensis 267
P Rome Palatinus Vaticanus Graecus 113

'Vales': De virtutibus et vitiis.  Preserved in the Codex Peirescianus (now Turonensis 980).  Published by Valesius, 1634; critical edition by A.G. Roos, Berlin 1910.  MSS:-

Siglum

Location

Shelfmark & Notes

Date /
Century

P Peirescianus (now Turonensis 980)

'Esc': De insidiis.  Preserved in a single MS in the Escurial.  Edited by Feder, 1848 and 1849, and by C. Müller in his Frag. Hist. Graec., vol. ii, 1848.  critical edition by C. de Boor, Berlin 1903.  MSS:-

Siglum

Location

Shelfmark & Notes

Date /
Century

S Scorialensis W I 11

'Ath': A few chapters from book 20, contained in an early MS found on Mt. Athos but now in Paris.  Edited by C. Müller at the end of vol 2 of his Josephus in 1847 and later by C. Wescher in his Poliorcétique des Grecs, Paris 1868. MSS:-

Siglum

Location

Shelfmark & Notes

Date /
Century

A Athos MS, now in Paris

'Ambr': A collection of miscellaneous excerpts, in chronological order, in a 15th century Milan MS; also in a second MS which is a copy of it.  The collection was carelessly edited by Cardinal Angelo Mai in 1816. MSS:-

Siglum

Location

Shelfmark & Notes

Date /
Century

Q Milan, Ambrosian Library Ambrosianus Q 13 sup. 15th
A Milan, Ambrosian Library Ambrosianus A 80 sup.  (Copy of Q)

The order and location of the fragments can usually be determined, since Stephanus of Byzantium gives the books in which he found various people and places mentioned.  However his references in books 17 and 18 are confused, so these are more uncertain.

Editions with new MS witnesses

The editio princeps of the Greek text was Robert Estienne (Stephanus), Paris, 1546.  This contained books 1-11, and was based on D.  Sylburg's edition of 1586 (Frankfurt) was books 1-11  plus the excerpta de Legationibus, with a revised version of Gelenius' Latin translation and notes.  Sylburg made use of two MSS, a 'Romanus' (which has not been identified) and Venetus 272.  John Hudson, Oxford 1704 had books 1-11, excerpta de Legationibus, and excerpta de Virtutibus et Vitiis.  He was the first to use the Urbinas, which he called Vaticanus, but only in his notes. 

Cardinal Angelo Mai published at Milan in 1816 some fragments from an epitome contained in a Milan MS, Cod. Ambrosianus Q 13 sup., and its copy, Cod. Ambrosianus A 80 sup.  These are now included as the excerpta Ambrosiana among the fragments of books 12-20.

Translations with MS value

The first translation was into Latin of books 1-11 by Lapus (or Lappus) Biragus, Treviso 1480, three-quarters of a century before the first edition of the Greek text.  It has great interest, since it was based on two MSS which cannot now be identified with any extant, supplied to the translator by Pope Paul II.  Ritschl argued that one of these must have belonged to the better class of MSS, now known through A and B, as the translation contains most of the additions to the text of the editio princeps that are found in one or both of the older MSS.    (Opuscula i, pp.489, 493).  In addition he avoids most of B's errors, and includes down to III, 24 a good number of readings that appear in no other MS.  Some of the interpolations in C and D are included, but he avoids most of C's interpolations.  In a few cases he supplies words missing from both B and C, so his good MS must have been better than any now extant MS at these points.  Since he refers to the confused order of the text at the end of book 11, his older MS cannot have been B; and the interpolated one can hardly have been C, if C is correctly assigned to the 16th century.

Gelenius did a fresh translation in 1549 of books 1-10; for 11 he merely reprinted Lapus's translation.

The only English translation before the Loeb was Edward Spelman, published London 1758 with notes and a dissertation.  It is a good version of Hudson's text, and covers books 1-11, and served as the basis for the Loeb version.

Bibliography

Earnest CARY, The Roman antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Loeb edition in 7 vols. Harvard University Press (1937).  Vol 1 has details of the MSS of books 1-X; Vol 7 (1950) about the MSS for book 11 and fragments of 12-20.

Carl JACOBY, Leipzig (Tuebner), 1885-1905, index 1925. (Details from the Loeb).

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse.

Written 14th June 2002.
Updated with book 11-20 details, 29th June 2002.

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