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This talk will compare the line divisions of the choral lyrics of Sophocles’ Electra as found in an important medieval manuscript and a representative modern edition. In his critical edition with commentary on Sophocles’ Electra (2007) 16, P. J. Finglass discusses the limits of his reliance on the play’s medieval manuscripts. “Two subjects over which manuscripts enjoy relatively little authority are metrical colometry and orthography. My metrical analyses ignore the transmitted colometries, which provide no evidence for the colometry of Sophocles’ text (cf. L. P. E. Parker (2001)).” Finglass provides a useful test case for evaluating the manuscript colometry because, unlike his dealings with orthography, where he compares and weighs the value of the variants found in medieval manuscripts and ancient papyri, inscriptions and grammarians, he did not look at the manuscript colometry at all. This paper will compare Finglass’s colometry with that found in manuscript L of Sophocles for the Electra's parodos, kommos and first and second stasima.

Finglass’s colometry for the parodos (three sets of strophe and antistrophe with final epode) presents generally the same line divisions as L. The first set of strophe and antistrophe (121-152) has the same colometry as Finglass’s edition at 121-125~137-141,128-133~144-149 and 135-6~151-2. The seventeen lines in strophe and antistrophe of L’s line divisions end with the same word as Finglass’s line divisions fourteen times. The second strophic pair (153-192) is divided into 20 cola in L. Finglass divides the same words into 18 lines, of which 16 have the same word end as L (155-156, 165-172, 175-176, 179-184,186-192). The differences between Finglass and L are due mainly to slips in either strophe or antistrophe, not to a fundamentally different colometry. The third pair (193-232) has the same line divisions in L and Finglass, except for a slip in the strophe at 230-231,which is easily corrigible from the antistrophe. In the epode (233-250), L and Finglass have the same line divisions at 233-246, but differ at 246-250. The first fourteen cola of the epode are the same in Finglass and L. L’s last four cola respond to Finglass’s last five, with one colon the same.

In the first stasimon, strophe and antistrophe differ substantially, although not completely, in Finglass and L. For the epode (504-515) L and Finglass present the same colometry. In the first strophic pair of the kommos (823-848) L and Finglass differ significantly. In the second pair (849-870) L and Finglass agree except for the intrusive gloss at 855.

The first strophic pair of the second stasimon presents a situation where modern editors differ over colometries. Finglass prints a consistently ionic interpretation, which is found also in Lloyd-Jones and Wilson (1990) and Dale (1968, 122. n.2), while Dawe (1975) prints an iambo-choriambic analysis, found also in Dale (1936 = 1969). Both colometries have metrical or linguistic difficulties. Finglass’s thorough discussion rejects Zuntz’s (1984) appeal to the manuscript colometry, which Finglass mistakenly believes to be the same as Dawe’s. The colometry found in L has none of the serious problems found in modern editions. The second strophic pair (1082-1097) is confused by textual problems, but even so L and Finglass agree in four out of eight cola.

In conclusion, the line divisions found in the manuscript L of Sophocles are often the same as the recent editor’s. Differences in colometry are often due to slips and misprints in L, which are not infrequently limited to either strophe or antistrophe. In other cases, the variant colometries are both legitimate and in the first strophic pair of the second stasimon L’s colometry is superior to the modern alternatives. The talk (with handouts for all the play’s choruses) will discuss possible reasons for the quality of the ancient colometry and question a methodology that discusses modern editors, but ignores our Alexandrian colleagues.