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Literary Criticism Ancient & Classical

Studies in the Textual Tradition of Terence

by (author) John N. Grant

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1986
Ancient & Classical, Ancient, Classical & Medieval, History & Criticism
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1986
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The textual tradition of the Latin dramatist Publius Terentius Afer (second century BC) is unusually rich and complex. Over six hundred manuscripts containing some or all of Terence's six comedies have survived, but only one codex and three small fragments date from antiquity. All the rest were copied in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance when Terence was very popular. Recently scholars have been devoting considerable study to the role of his works and the commentaries on them in the cultural and intellectual development of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. However, little attention has been given to an examination and re-examination of the manuscripts in order to determine which are the most useful for establishing a reliable text of the plays.


In this study John N. Grant examines afresh the manuscript tradition of the comedies, looking in particular at a branch of the medieval manuscripts which has been neglected in the past. He establishes the primacy of one manuscript, the value of which has hitherto been disputed, and points out the importance of others which have been known but have been neglected by past editors of Terence. In addition, through a careful study of the cycle of illustrations that appear in some medieval manuscripts he brings under scrutiny the history of the transmission of the text in late antiquity. He shows that, contrary to the generally held view, the date of the original cycle of illustrations from which those in the medieval manuscripts are derived cannot be used to provide a chronological keystone for the lost ancient manuscripts which were the ancestors of the surviving witnesses.


An appendix with a selection of readings from over 150 manuscripts will be of value to those interested in investigating further the relationships among the extant manuscripts.


This study lays the foundation for a new edition of the plays of Terence.

About the author

JOHN N. GRANT is a widely respected teacher and member of the Department of Education at St Francis Xavier University. His many publications include the studies of African-Canadian history and culture, Black Nova Scotians, and The Immigration and Settlement of the Black Refugees of the War of 1812 in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. John lives in Enfield, Nova Scotia.

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Other titles by John N. Grant