Frailty of understanding is in itself no proper target for scorn and mockery. But the unintelligent forfeit their claim to compassion when they begin to indulge in self-complacent airs, and to call themselves sane critics, meaning that they are mechanics. And when, relying upon their numbers, they pass from self-complacency to insolence, and reprove their betters for using the brains which God has not denied them, they dry up the fount of pity.
If a hale man walks along the street upon two sound legs, he is not liable to be chased by crowds of cripples vociferating ‗Go home and fetch your crutch.‘ If a reasoning man edits a classic rationally, he is. What a critic is, and what advantage he has over those who are not critics, can easily be shown by one example. Cicero‘s oration pro rege Deiotaro was edited between 1830 and 1840 by Klotz, Soldan, and Benecke. The best MS then known was the Erfurtensis, and all three editors pounced on this authority and clung to it, believing themselves safe. In 1841, Madvig, maintaining reason against superstition in Cicero‘s text as I now maintain it in Juvenal‘s, impugned 17 readings adopted from the Erfurtensis by these editors, and upheld the readings of inferior MSS. We now possess MSS still better than the Erfurtensis, and in 12 of the 17 places they contradict it; they confirm the inferior MSS and the superior critic.
But there are editors destitute of this discriminating faculty, so destitute that they cannot even conceive it to exist; and these are entangled in a task for which nature has neglected to equip them. What are they now to do? Set to and try to learn their trade? That is forbidden by sloth. Stand back and leave room for their superiors? That is forbidden by vanity. They must have a rule, a machine to do their thinking for them. If the rule is true, so much the better; if false, that cannot be helped: but one thing is necessary, a rule. A hundred years ago it was their rule to count the MSS and trust the majority. But this pillow was snatched from under them by the great critics of the 19 th century, and the truth that MSS must be weighed, not counted, is now too widely known to be ignored.
The sluggard has lost his pillow, but he has kept his nature, and must needs find something else to loll on; so he fabricates, to suit the change of season, his precious precept of following one MS wherever possible. Engendered by infirmity and designed for comfort, no wonder if it misses the truth at which it was never aimed. Its aim was purely humanitarian: to rescue incompetent editors alike from the toil of editing and from the shame of acknowledging that they cannot edit.
1. The author‘s discussion takes the reader to the topic of the Erfurtensis MS in
paragraph two. The example of this manuscript is relevant to the claim that:
A. the Erfurtensis MS is not very reliable.
B. no single MS can be assumed to be always right.
C. Madvig was a lazy editor.
D. MSS must be weighed, not counted.
E. every MS is either right or wrong
2. According to the various arguments put forth by the author of the passage,
which of the following are true about the editing of classics?
I. It has not been undertaken in the case of Cicero.
II. It is sometimes undertaken by people who are unable to do it correctly.
III. There were important advances in the field during the 19th century.
A. I and II only
B. II and III only
C. I and III only
D. I, II and III
E. None of the above
3. Suppose that the author is present at a panel discussion on the topic of this
passage where all of the following statements are made by other panellists.
According to the arguments he has put forth in the text, the author is LEAST
likely to agree with which of the following statements?
A. It should not be assumed that the majority of the MSS of a classical
text are correct.
B. Madvig was a better editor than Klotz, Soldan, or Benecke.
C. It is a mistake to think that one MS of a particular text is better than
D. There is no simple rule for editing that eliminates the need for critical
E. The Erfurtensis was one of the best known MS in the period 1830-1840
4. In spite of what may or may not appear in the first paragraphs of the
passage, the bulk of the passage is devoted to showing:
A. that incompetent editors have developed methods for avoiding the
difficulties of responsible editing.
B. that the Erfurtensis MS is no longer considered the best MS of Cicero‘s
pro rege Deiotaro.
C. that it was discovered in the nineteenth century that MSS must be
weighed, not merely counted.
D. that Cicero was editing more often during the 1830s than during any
E. that responsible editing has become an extinct concept