Beta version 1, released April 2010: in memory of Kjeld Matthiessen (27 July 1930–26 February 2010)
This site is the home of a new open-access digital edition of the scholia on the plays of the ancient Athenian tragedian Euripides (born ca. 485-480, died winter 407/406 BCE). It presents the ongoing results of a project of Donald Mastronarde, Professor of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley. This first version of the site, released in April 2010, should be considered a ‘beta version’. It is dedicated to the memory of Kjeld Matthiessen, a great scholar of the medieval manuscripts and transmission of Euripides who had himself hoped one day to work on editing the scholia.
‘Scholia’ is a catchall term applied to various annotations accumulated in antiquity and the medieval Byzantine period to explain or comment on various aspects of Greek texts. The Greek word scholion is derived from scholē (meaning ‘leisure’, but also ‘study’) with the addition of a diminutive suffix ‑ion and presumably started out meaning ‘a small product of learned study’. This word is first extant in a private letter of Cicero (ad Atticum 16.7.3) and is found in Greek writers of the Roman imperial age such as Arrian, Galen, and Lucian. The terms scholiographos and scholiographein (‘writer of scholia’ and ‘to write scholia’) appear in the Church Fathers and within corpora of scholia themselves. The term scholiastēs (‘scholiast’) is attested in the 12th century (Eustathius and Tzetzes) and in some corpora of scholia.
Major works of ancient Greek literature were the object of scholarly study among the Greeks themselves from the fifth century BCE onward. From the third to the first century BCE, important scholars edited the texts of the dramas of Euripides and the two other famous fifth-century tragedians (Aeschylus and Sophocles) and wrote commentaries and treatises that touched upon the mythological subject matter, performance, language, and interpretation of the plays. The variegated body of miscellaneous annotation we call scholia to Euripides is an amalgam of excerpts from the Hellenistic tradition of philological study and commentary, brief explanatory notes and paraphrases of a more basic nature produced by intermediate school-teachers, and analyses of rhetorical structures and arguments derived from the practice of more advanced teachers.
A few marginal annotations are found in some ancient books of the papyrus-roll type, the normal format for literary texts from classical times through the 2nd-3rd centuries CE. The codex-form became increasingly common for literary texts during the 2nd-4th centuries, and during the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries CE) scholia came to be written in the margins around the primary text in some books. The compilation of large sets of annotations from different sources occurred in major centers of learning either in the 5th-6th centuries or at the time of the earliest minuscule manuscripts in the 9th century.
For more information about the project, use the links at the top of the page. To contact the author, use the link in the first paragraph or the footer.
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