Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman medical treatise, is undated but contains clues to when it was produced. Its first 80 pages are by a single copyist, but the remaining 20 pages are by three different copyists, which indicates some significant disruption. Since a letter in handwriting identified as that of the fourth copyist mentions a plague that killed many people in Florence in 1148, Codex Berinensis was probably produced in that year.
Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the hypothesis that Codex Berinensis was produced in 1148?
(A) Other than Codex Berinensis, there are no known samples of the handwriting of the first three copyists.
(B) According to the account by the fourth copyist, the plague went on for 10 months.
(C) A scribe would be able to copy a page of text the size and style of Codex Berinensis in a day.
(D) There was only one outbreak of plague in Florence in the 1100s.
(E) The number of pages of Codex Berinensis produced by a single scribe becomes smaller with each successive change of copyist
This is a very tricky question. I got the correct answer in <2 minutes using the process of elimination, but it was mostly a "feeling" that option D is the right answer. So, I spent a lot of time on trying to decipher it. Here are my thoughts. Hope it helps others get it, and I also hope someone will correct me if my thinking is wrong.
Conclusion: Codex Berinensis (hereby referred to as CB) was probably produced in 1148.
How did we reach this conclusion?
1. Guy 1 copied the first 80 pages --> disruption --> 10 pages by guy 2 --> disruption --> 10 pages by guy 3 --> disruption --> completed by guy 4.
2. Guy 4 also wrote a letter that mentions about a plague in 1148. It's tricky to know for sure if Guy 4 wrote this letter in the actual CB or just wrote the letter to someone. The first sentence "contains clues to when it was produced" is ambiguous in its meaning.
The final sentence can be summed up as: Because letter by Guy 4 mentions plague --> CB produced in 1148.
That's a huge jump. How does a letter written about a plague lead to the conclusion that the CB was produced in 1148?Only if the plague played a role in producing the CB!
Now, this becomes easy. All we have to prove is that there was no other plague (other than the one that took place in 1148) that could have played a role in producing the CB.
In other words, what we're trying to support is that the CB was produced in 1148 and NOT BEFORE then. This is critical. I also fell into the trap of thinking: why can't the fourth guy have finished his work in 1180? But that's the wrong direction to think in.
I personally didn't buy into the fact that the plague was what caused the disruption for the first 3 guys in copying the CB. Maybe they moved, maybe they got another job, maybe they became disinterested in a repetitive and boring job. But it's not out of order to think that the plague caused the disruption. Who knows? All I have to prove is that the plague is 1148 played in role in producing the CB, and that it was no other plague. Option D does that. Major Takeaways
- parsing out the truly unnecessary from the necessary. Once you understand what the argument is, and how it's made, the whole thing falls into place. Once I understood that the only thing I REALLY have to prove/support is that the plague of 1148 played a role in producing the CB, the rest became easy.
- I should have paid more attention to the last sentence and identified the jump in logic it was making. This took the longest time. Don't fight the jumps in logic with confusion and immediately jump to the answer choices.
- USE your confusion as the hole that you have to pour cement into.
Great question! Really haven't been challenged by a Strengthen question like this before.