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QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman

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QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 26 Mar 2018, 14:10
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A
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E

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 251: Critical Reasoning


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The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 10th Edition, 2003

Practice Question
Question No.: CR 184
Page: 549

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.

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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 26 Mar 2018, 14:11
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The author concludes that "Codex Berinensis [CB] was probably produced in [1148]". How does the author arrive at that hypothesis?

First, some background information:

  • CB is a Florentine (of or relating to Florence) copy of an ancient Roman medical treatise.
  • There is no date on CB to signify when it was produced.
  • However, CB contains clues to help us figure out when it was produced.

What are those clues?

  • "Its first 80 pages are by a single copyist, but the remaining 20 pages are by three different copyists." - According to the author, this is evidence of significant disruption. In other words, this evidence suggests that the production of CB was significantly interrupted.
  • "A letter in handwriting identified as that of the fourth copyist mentions a plague that killed many people in Florence in 1148." - Why were the final 20 pages completed by three different copyists? This letter suggests a possible explanation. A plague killing many people could have certainly disrupted the production of CB (as the copyists and/or their loved ones became sick).

To review the author's argument...

  • Production of CB was significantly disrupted.
  • A plague could have certainly caused such disruption.
  • There was a serious plague in Florence in 1148.
  • Thus, this Florentine document was probably produced at the time of that plague (1148).

But did the disruption actually occur in 1148? What if other events/illnesses could have interrupted production in other years? We need something that supports the hypothesis that Codex Berinensis was produced in 1148.

Quote:
(A) Other than Codex Berinensis, there are no known samples of the handwriting of the first three copyists.

If we DID have other samples of the copyists' handwriting, then that might help us date the document. But the lack of such evidence does not strengthen or weaken the hypothesis. Eliminate (A).

Quote:
(B) According to the account by the fourth copyist, the plague went on for 10 months.

We already know that the plague "killed many people." So, regardless of its length, the plague could certainly have disrupted production. Also, (B) doesn't help us determine whether production could have been disrupted in other years. (B) doesn't help us, so eliminate this one.

Quote:
(C) A scribe would be able to copy a page of text the size and style of Codex Berinensis in a day.

(C) tells us that it probably took the last three copyists about 20 days to complete CB. So what? Why were there three copyists? Was the disruption caused by the plague of 1148? Choice (C) certainly supports the idea that CB could have been completed in less than a year, but it does not help us determine the year in which the work actually was done. Eliminate (C).

Quote:
(D) There was only one outbreak of plague in Florence in the 1100s.

If there were multiple outbreaks of plague in Florence in the 1100s (i.e. 1105, 1148, and 1179), then the disruption could have occurred during ANY of those outbreaks. This would obviously weaken the hypothesis. Choice (D) eliminates this possiblity, thus strengthening the hypothesis. Hang on to this one.

Quote:
(E) The number of pages of Codex Berinensis produced by a single scribe becomes smaller with each successive change of copyist.

As with choice (C), (E) gives us information about the copyists' output. Each new copyist was less productive than the last. This is interesting, but it doesn't tell us anything about WHEN the document was produced. It doesn't even help us determine how long it took to produce the document. Choice (E) is irrelevant and can be eliminated.

(D) is the best answer.
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 27 Mar 2018, 06:47
My reasoning is the following :

We are said in the argument that :
Change in copyist is due to a disruption -> thus it must have been produced in 1148.

The argument is missing one information : How long does it take to write Codex Berinensis ?
If it took a copyist 10 years to produce a page, then having 4 different copyist wouldn't be surprising, but if copying a page doesn't take much time and the copyist changes regularly, then there must be a reason (such as plague)

Answer option C mentions this clearly : A scribe would be able to copy a page of text the size and style of Codex Berinensis in a day.
In other words, it didn't take much time to write a page, therefore something major must have happened. The argument is strengthened

Originally posted by olito on 26 Mar 2018, 21:08.
Last edited by olito on 27 Mar 2018, 06:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 01:47
I think the answer should be A though I am not convinced I got a by POE
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 05:13
1
Background: Codeex Berinensis (CB) is undated but contains clues to when it was produced
Evidence: a letter in handwriting identified as that of the fourth copyist mentions a plague that killed many people in Florence in 1148
Conclusion: CB was probably produced in that year (1148)

Strengthen

A: Irrelevant; without a link between handwriting samples of the first three copyists and conclusion, the samples play no part in this

B: Weaken; "10 months" is a range that can span from 1147 to 1148 or from 1148 to 1149 or within 1148; we cannot pinpoint the exact year the CB was produced

C: Weaken; the ease of copying suggests that we cannot believe the evidence (a letter in handwriting) provided is that of the fourth copyist

D: Strengthen; the only one outbreak of plague in Florence in the 1100s helps narrow down the possibility of plague to occur in year 1148 (+/-); not ideal, but D is better than B and is the best we have

E: Irrelevant; the number of pages becoming smaller is completely irrelevant

This question leaves me assuming that a plague was the only significant disruption and CB was produced in the year disruption took place
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 05:35
Narrowed down to Choices B & D.

Ended up picking D. Though, 'B' has a lot of merits as the argument mentions 'disruptions' due to which the book changed 4 authors, the 'disruption' here can indicate plague and a 10 month timeframe justifies the book changing 4 hands (the plague killed the previous 3). However, the same '10 months' could have been split between 1147 & 1148 (not just 1148), thus, negating the statement that it was produced in 1948 (assuming 'produce' means writing not publishing).

Option D doesn't give a timeframe. It just states that only one plague occurred in the 1100's. Though this statement is not ideal, as the production (writing) of the book could have occurred over a hundred years. But, the production could have also occurred in 1148, the year of the plague.
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 06:14
I would go with option D.

My take : The argument wants us to strengthen the hypothesis that Codex Berinensis was produced in 1148.

Pre-think/Anticipate answer : Link Codex Berinensis to the time when plague hit florence. What if there were multiple plagues round the same time ?

POE :

a) Irrelevant
b) Close - hold it
c) Irrelevant
d) Hold
e) Weaken

B vs D.

B talks about a span of 10 months. The argument already mentions that the fourth copyist talks about how plague killed people in 1148. Now whether or not the plague went on for 10 months or 11 months does not strengthen the hypothesis.

D , on the other hand is on the lines of our pre-think ! Hence option D
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 06:48
I'll go for D

A. Does not support. It would if there were known samples dated 1146. Eliminate

B. 10 moths in what year? Eliminate

C. This fact does not help determine the date

D. If we know that there was a plague in 1148 and if there was only one outbreak of plague in Florence in the 1100s, it supports the hypothesis.

E. The same problem as in C
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 09:37
I feel like none of these answer choices are great...

Summary: Codex is a book transcribed by four different people. Date remains unknown. Fourth writer mentioned a plague in 1148 in a letter. Therefore, Codex must be produced that time... (THIS IS A HUGE LOGICAL JUMP)

Pre-thinking: Why cant Codex be written in 1300 or 1400 instead? The author assumes that the year the fourth writer wrote that letter must be when Codex is produced. In other words, we need to reinforce that THIS IS THE ONLY YEAR.

(A) Other than Codex Berinensis, there are no known samples of the handwriting of the first three copyists. - okay, so if we got samples of the three other guys, can we say anything about the date of Codex unless we make up more assumptions?

(B) According to the account by the fourth copyist, the plague went on for 10 months. - okay, so how does this tell us that it must be produced on 1146? If we are asked for a weakener -> this could be one as the 10 month period describe could be 1145-1146 or 1146-1147 (both of which requires further assumptions... so not a great choice)

(C) A scribe would be able to copy a page of text the size and style of Codex Berinensis in a day. okay, then what about the date produced?

(D) There was only one outbreak of plague in Florence in the 1100s. Okay... so we know that it must be in the 1100s and if there is only one plague in 1146... this might give us the answer we need (although still not totally convinced).

(E) The number of pages of Codex Berinensis produced by a single scribe becomes smaller with each successive change of copyist. okay, then what about the date produced?

As you can see through POE, A,C,E are what we would consider out of scope because it doesnt reinforce any information about the date in which Codex was produced.

Both B and D provide us possible hints as to when it was produced. But only D (and I still dont think this is a great answer choice) could allow us to narrow down the answer choice that Codex was in fact produced on 1146.
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 10:52
D wins clearly. If there was only one plague outbreak in 1100, the book was definitely produced in 1148.


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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2018, 21:20
What should I assume is the level of this question. Can somebody plz help?

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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman [#permalink]

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New post 30 Mar 2018, 14:42
[quote="Puja priya"]What should I assume is the level of this question. Can somebody plz help?

It is already tagged under 600 - 700 level question here. I would suggest to measure the difficulty level using below criterias:

Did you solve it correctly or made a guess
How much time you took to solve the question

These questions should help you arrive at your own judgement regarding difficulty level for yourself, hope this helps.
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Re: QOTD: Codex Berinensis, a Florentine copy of an ancient Roman   [#permalink] 30 Mar 2018, 14:42
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