Abstracts of issue 7-8 (1989)

Thomas J. Mathiesen

Problems of Text Criticism and Translation in Ancient Greek Music Theory

Translation in Greek: Katy Romanou
Although it has been suggested that the study of ancient Greek music theory is a work basically completed, this paper shows that most of the published editions of ancient Greek music theory do not represent anything like a critical text, because they do not reflect a thorough survey of manuscripts or a study of their tradition and, in some cases, are not even based on the best manuscripts.
The problems that beset the study of ancient Greek music theory are demonstrated with numerous examples from famous editions of Greek treatises. In passages from Jans Musici scriptores graeci it is demonstrated how an incomplete survey of manuscripts can lead to the omission of material preserved in the tradition and how an inadequate understanding of the subject can lead to incorrect emendations that reject the reading of every manuscript. Additional demonstrations illustrate other sort of problems the manuscripts present in variants and stemmatic relationships.
The scholar who would work with ancient Greek music theory, concludes the writer, must be sure he has carefully surveyed every available source in establishing the text to be studied; he cannot rely on most of the published editions and must therefore also function as a text critic.
Both the things at least needed for the production of fully critical texts for ancient Greek music theory are now at hand: the writers Catalogue raisonné of all the Greek codices containing the ancient theoretical writings for RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales) is recently completed and in 1982 the University of Nebraska Press inaugurated a new series, Greek and Latin Music Theory, dedicated to the publication of critical texts and translation of monuments of music theory written originally in Greek and Latin. The series it is hoped will publish completely new texts and translations for all the ancient Greek music theorists, as well as a portion of the Byzantine theorists.

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