During our work on Iliad 18 this summer, our team found evidence that supports the theory that the scribe of the Venetus A intentionally wrote certain types of comments into specific predetermined regions on the folio. Certain folios still bear the marks that divide up the page into these different areas. Generally, a folio has the text of the poem, surrounded by five categories of scholia: main, intermarginal, interior, interlinear, and exterior. We do not yet fully understand the function of each different group, but we now know that the placement of these groups matter. Perhaps the position on the folio indicates something about the source material for the comment.
Sometimes, when dealing with a very dense page, the scribe was forced to break his rules about the placement of scholia. For example, folio 248v, which covers Iliad 18.480–18.504, is highly packed with comments about the astrological bodies found on the shield of Achilles.
|Folio 248v of the Venetus A manuscript: view it in detail in the Homer Mulitext manuscript browser|
|Exterior margin detail of 248v: see zoomable version here|
|Detail of interior margin of 248v: see zoomable version here|
|Detail of 248v showing both exterior and interior margins of 248v: see zoomable version here|
Another argument for these seemingly exterior scholia to be taken as interior scholia is the nature of their comments. In addition to the different scribal hand used for the exterior scholia, these comments generally lack any introductory or explanatory material. Typical exteriors are comprised of just a few words, while these three scholia offer a more complete explanation of the comment.
Further, the signs do not link the scholia to a specific word in the Iliad line. For example the second scholion, which comments on Iliad 18.499 (ἀνδρὸς ἀποφθιμένου· ὃ μὲν εὔχετο πάντ᾽ ἀποδοῦναι), reads
παρα Ζηνοδότῳ "αποκταμενου" καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλείσταις καὶ ἔστιν οὐκ απιθανος ἡ γραφή ⁑As you can see, this comment is not about the word directly next to the connecting sign (that is, ἀποδοῦναι), but instead it provides a multiform for the second word of the line, ἀποφθιμένου.
Zenodotus writes the word "αποκταμενου" [instead of the word "ἀποφθιμένου"] and this is the reading in most editions. This is not an untrustworthy reading
Not only does a folio like this help us better understand the practices of a medieval scribe, but it also is another example of the benefits of a diplomatic digital edition that is linked to citable evidence. A printed edition can say that these scholia are “out of place,” but cannot accurately show the function of these connecting signs. Our editions preserve the original placement of these scholia while assigning them intelligent labels based on the evidence of the scribe’s normal practices.