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[Classical Quarterly 63.2 (2013), 595602. This is a penultimate draft, which however
contains a digital image not included in the published version: see p. 3.]

We start from a passage in Platos Cratylus, 393b7c7. For reasons which will become clear in due
course, I give Burnets
text (with the addition of underlinings and apparatus of my own), which
differs from that of the more recent OCT edition
on an important detail.

!"#$%&'!. ()*+,-. /0 12) 341,., 56 327 8+).91+,, 1:. ;02.126 <*/2.2. ;02.1+ *+;9=. *+7
1:. >??2@ <*/2.2. >??2.. 2A 1, ;0/B 3C. D4?9E 10E+6 /0.F1+, 3G >??2@ H;;2 1, I >??26, J;;K
2L M. N 12O /0.2@6 <*/2.2. 1P. 8Q4,., 12O12 ;0/B 3C. R2:6 <*/2.2. 8Q49, >??26 ?+EC 8Q4,.
10*S -4T2., 2U ?V;2. *;F102. J;;C -4T2. 2UWK M. 3G J.XEY?2@ 2Z+, P 1: J.XEY?2@
<*/2.2. /0.F1+,, [J;;K [ M.] 1: <*/2.2. H.XEB?26 *;F1026 *+7 1C W0.WE+ 54+Q1B6 *+7
1\;;+ ]?+.1+ I 2U 4@.W2*9=;
^$_`a^b'!. !@.W2*9=.

c1. J;;K 2L M. !T: J;;K 2L 3C. ": J;;K [ M. Y
|| c4. J;;K [ 3C. !W: H;;2 3C. T: J;;K 3C. Q:
secl. Peipers

SOCRATES. It is right, as it seems to me, to call a lions offspring a lion and a horses offspring a
horse. I am not speaking of the case in which from a horse a monster, as it were, is born, something
other than a horse. I am rather speaking of the kind of which it is by its nature an offspring: if, contrary
to nature, a horse begets a calf,
which is by nature the offspring of an ox, it must not be called a colt
but a calf; nor, I think, if from a human something which is not the humans offspring is born, must
the offspring be called a human. Likewise with the trees and with all the other things. Dont you

This passage is very interesting in various respects. For one thing, it contains an ancestor of the
famous Aristotelian slogan, stated and discussed for example in Metaphysics Z 79, according to

I am indebted for helpful comments and suggestions to Antonio Carlini, Augusto Guida, Walter Lapini, Maria
Jagoda Luzzatto, Sabina Mazzoldi, Enrico Rebuffat and a reader, at first anonymous, who eventually identified himself
as David Sedley. To all, my thanks. In the article the main editions of Platos Cratylus are referred to only by editors
name after their first citation.
J. Burnet, Platonis Opera, vol. I (Oxford, 1900).
E.A. Duke, W.F. Hicken, W.S.M. Nicoll, D.B. Robinson and J.C.G. Strachan, Platonis Opera, vol. I (Oxford,
1995). Hereafter I refer to this as Duke et al.
There is something to be said for Asts excision of the first -4T2. (c2) as a gloss; here I leave the matter aside
for simplicity.
which a human begets a human (H.XEB?26 H.XEB?2. /9..c). It is a problematic ancestor; for
Socrates argument goes on (393cd, 394a) to treat such cases as a horse begetting a horse as being
on a par with such cases as a king begetting a king or a good man begetting a good man, which are
in fact quite different. Indeed, Socrates does something even worse: he appears to assume (394ae)
that another analogous case is someone called King begetting someone called Kingor
someone called d*1BE, Holder, begetting someone called e41@f.+G, Town-lord.
The relations between what Socrates says and the Aristotelian principle, on the one hand, and
between what Socrates says and what he really means, on the other, are a most interesting subject
matter; but I will not pursue it on the present occasion.
Now I rather wish to turn to a completely
different aspect of the passage, namely to its text and to what it can teach us about the early
editorial history of Platos dialogues. And in order to do so it will be useful to recall a few trivial
facts about the textual transmission of the Cratylus.

The MSS of the dialogue can be grouped into three main families. The first is the ! family,
namely the family deriving from a lost common ancestor !. Members of this family are B = Bodl.
MS E.D. Clarke 39 (written for bishop Arethas by John Calligraphus in AD 895)
and D = Ven. gr.
185 (twelfth century); here we shall concern ourselves also with Y = Vind. Phil. gr. 21 (fourteenth
century), a learned edition, put together by several scribes under the direction of the
Constantinopolitan scholars Nicephorus Moschopoulos and Maximus Planudes (who is actually the
very scribe of our lines) and alternating different sources for different textual sections. In Cra. Y
derives from B and its corrector B
up to 424a5, hence also in our passage; then it switches to
another source which rather belongs to the second family.
This second family is the most
numerous and derives from an extant MS, T = Ven. app. cl. 4.1 (tenth century). Third comes the "
family, namely the family deriving from a lost common ancestor ". The most important member of
this family is W = Vind. suppl. gr. 7 (eleventh century); but the above apparatus also mentions Q =
Par. gr. 1813 (thirteenth century).
The exact relation between these three families is hard to determine and seems to change from
one dialogue to another: sometimes they seem to form a tripartite stemma, sometimes a bipartite
one. But this issue has no bearing on our present concerns, for which it is instead important to stress
that !T" depend, whether directly or indirectly, on a common source or archetype written in
majuscule. The existence of this common source is proved, in Cra. as in other dialogues, by a

I do so in The Cratylus of Plato: A Commentary (Cambridge, 2011), 15280, from which I have taken the
passages translation.
Cf. the treasure of information stored in A. Carlini, Studi sulla tradizione antica e medievale del Fedone (Rome,
1972); the Praefatio to Duke et al.s edition; S. Martinelli Tempesta, in F. Trabattoni (ed.), Platone: Liside, vol. I
(Milan, 2003), 1434; and more specifically D.J. Murphy and W.S.M. Nicoll, Parisinus Graecus 1813 in Platos
Cratylus, Mnem 46.4 (1993), 45872.
On B, Arethas and John Calligraphus see the recent discussion by Maria Jagoda Luzzatto, Codici tardoantichi di
Platone ed i cosiddetti Scholia Arethae, Medioevo greco 10 (2010), 77110 (cf. below, n. 19).
See D.J. Murphy and W.S.M. Nicoll (n. 5), 4701 and nn. 278, and A. DAcunto, Su unedizione platonica di
Niceforo Moscopulo e Massimo Planude: il Vindobonensis Phil. gr. 21, Y, Studi Classici e Orientali 45 (1995), 261
79 at 2689. On Y in general see also Carlini (n. 5), 1613.
number of textual errors which are common to all MSS and cannot be the result of polygenesis or

After this short introduction let us focus on line 393c1, where J;;K 2L M. (underlined in the
above quotation) is the reading of !T, substantially confirmed by "s J;;K 2L 3C.. This is
alternative to the variant J;;K [ M., which is ascribed by Duke et al. to the MS Venetus gr. 590
(fourteenth century) but in fact is already to be found, as Mridier
claims in his apparatus, in its
coeval antigraph Y (fol. 39
). More precisely, Ys scribe first wrote J;;K 2L M. and then corrected
2L into [:

Y = Vind. Phil. gr. 21 (fourteenth century), fol. 39
Image sterreichische Nationalbibliothek.

I have expressed this in my apparatus by ascribing the latter reading to Y
; the fact that the
former reading can be found in Y
did not have to be explicitly stated there, and should be regarded
as implied by the reference to !T, because in this section of the text Y belongs to the ! family, as
we saw above.
Now, several editors (Ast, Bekker, Stallbaum and Mridier)
adopt the reading of Y
, and many
interpreters translate as if they were adopting it: Fowler I am not speaking of prodigies but of the
natural offspring of each species after its kind, Minio-Paluello N intendo parlare di nascite
mostruose bens di ci solo che nasca dal suo proprio genere secondo natura, Reeve Im not
talking about some monster but one that is a natural offspring of its kind, Dalimier je parle du
rejeton naturel de lespce.

For a general list, with examples from various dialogues belonging to the first six tetralogies, see Carlini (n. 5),
129. Carlini, 137, also collects errors, attested in one MS or another, which seem to be due to misreading of majuscule
script and hence point to a majuscule common source. But in any case the common sources script could only be
majuscule in the light of Carlinis plausible hypothesis (on which see below) that it is a late antique edition.
Here are a few rather uncontroversial examples of errors common to the three families in the Cratylus. 390a1 1g
+U1g 3f.19 3. om. !T": add. Ast. 399b4 hGQ19E+ om. !T": add. Buttmann. 401c7 341)+. (941)+., i41,+.) !T": <41,.
Burnet (<41, Badham). 410b5 post JF1-EE2@. add. jX9. WP R2Q;91+, +U1:. 2k1B6 9l?9=., j1, 3417. JmE !T": secl.
Heindorf. 415d4 post *+;9=. !T" add n4B6 Wo +pE91P. ;0/9,, 56 2A4F6 1+Q1F6 1q6 rG9B6 +pE91B1f1F6: secl. Burnet.
421a10b1 h.-+4f 341,. !T": s. 2L f4+ 341). Buttmann. 438e8 H;;2 s. !TWQ: J;;2=2. /E. W.
NB: Duke et al. treat as common interpolations two passages which I consider authentic: see Platone, Cratilo 395c,
408b: due presunte interpolazioni, RFIC 129 (2001), 12933.
L. Mridier, Platon, Oeuvres compltes, vol. V.2: Cratyle (Paris, 1931).
F. Ast, Platonis Quae Exstant Opera, vol. III (Leipzig, 1821); I. Bekker, Platonis Scripta Graece Omnia, vol. IV
(London, 1826); G. Stallbaum, Platonis Opera omnia, vol. V.II: Cratylum (Gotha and Erfurt, 1835; repr. New York and
London, 1980).
H. N. Fowler, Plato (vol. VI): Cratylus, Parmenides, Greater and Lesser Hippias (Cambridge MA and London,
1926); L. Minio-Paluello, translation of the Cratylus in Platone, Opere complete, vol. II (Rome and Bari, 1991
); C. D.
C. Reeve, Plato: Cratylus (Indianapolis and Cambridge, 1998); C. Dalimier, Platon: Cratyle (Paris, 1998).
The former reading, by contrast, is printed by Hirschig,
Burnet and Duke et al. What does it
mean? The words J;;K 2L M. N 12O /0.2@6 are equivalent to J;;C 1: /0.26 2L M. N, but the kind
of which it is (by its nature an offspring): 1: /0.26, the relative pronouns antecedent, has been
attracted into the pronouns genitive case and displaced inside the relative clause. This was well
understood by Ficino,
who mirrored it in his Latin: cuius generis secundum naturam est quod
nascitur, hoc dico. Ficino, like the other editors who side with him, doubtless knew that the
attraction and displacement of the relatives antecedent which this reading presupposes is a fairly
common phenomenon. We can see it at work in R. 402c:

2A19 +U127 2A19 2k6 8+9. t=. ?+,W9@102. 9Z.+, 12u6 8Q;+*+6 (= 2p 8Q;+*96 2k6 *1;.: literally
neither we ourselves nor the guardians whom we say we have to educate)

or in Sophocles, OC 9078:

2k4?9E +U1:6 12u6 .-2@6 9l4q;XK <TB., / 12Q12,4,... vE24Xm491+, (= 12=6 .-2,6 2k4?9E *1;.:
literally with the laws which he brought with him as he came, with these he will be ruled).

So the reading with 2L is grammatically possible and is certainly difficilior than that with [. Indeed,
it is also superior as far as meaning is concerned. If we read [, Socrates argument in the passage
would essentially start like this:

We should call a lions offspring a lion and a horses offspring a horse. Pay attention: I am not
speaking of the case in which from a horse a monster is born, something other than a horse. I am
rather speaking of what [[] is by nature an offspring of the kind.

That is to say, Socrates would apparently be saying that given a certain kind, the principle he is
stating (The offspring of an X is to be called an X) is not concerned with the possibility of a
monstrous offspring. He would be considering a possible exception to the principle (e.g. a horse
begetting a calf) and putting it aside as irrelevant. But this is not how Socrates really goes on. He
rather goes on to explain that even such apparent counterexamples to the principle are merely
apparent, once the principle is understood correctly. Let me quote again lines 393c15:

R. B. Hirschig, Platonis Opera, vol. I (Paris, 1873).
M. Ficino, Divus Plato (Venice, 1491
The phenomenon is especially common when the transposed antecedent loses the article: see e.g. Phd. 61b
3?2)F4+ 2w6 ?EY12,6 3.01@T2. (= 1C ?EV1+ 2w6 3.01@T2.), Tht. 157e [. HE1, W,x9. ;-/2. (= y ;-/26 j. *1;.);
E. Andr. 912 2w4?9E 3/*9)94XK J97 / XEm.2,4, *+7 /-2,4, *+7 W+*EQ+4,. (= 12u6 XEm.2@6 *+7 /-2@6 *+7
W+*EQ+1+ 2w4?9E *1;.); X. An. 1.9.19 *+1+4*9@fz2.1+... {6 HET2, TYE+6 (= 1P. TVE+. {6 *1;.). For examples
of transposition of the relatives antecedent, with preservation of the article but without attraction, see e.g. R. 477c and
S. Ant. 404. On the whole matter see G. L. Cooper, III, after K.W. Krger, Attic Greek Prose Syntax, 2 vols. (Ann
Arbor, 1998), 1.5378; R. Khner and B. Gerth, Ausfhrliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache: Satzlehre, 2 vols.
(Hannover and Leipzig, 18981904
), 2.41620.
if, contrary to nature, a horse begets a calf, which is by nature the offspring of an ox, it must not be
called a colt but a calf; nor, I think, if from a human something which is not the humans offspring is
born, must the offspring be called a human.

The birth of a calf from a horse is no real counterexample, because the calf must be regarded as the
(ideal) offspring of the kind it naturally belongs to, namely the ox. Therefore it turns out that in the
principle he is discussing, The offspring of an X is to be called an X, Socrates clarification should
not concern the second an X but the firstnot the part about the offspring but the part about the
parent. He is explaining how we should identify the right parent, as it were, in order to make the
principle hold true in all cases. And we obtain this result if at c1 we read 2L instead of [. This is
confirmed by a passage at the end of the same argument (394d79), where Socrates recalls the
present passage with the words

if a horse begets an oxs offspring, we said that the offspring must presumably not have the
denomination of its begetter, but that of the kind to which it belongs [2U 12O 19*-.126 Wm?2@ <W9, 1P.
3?B.@)+. <T9,., J;;C 12O /0.2@6 2L 9nF], didnt we?

So far so good. Now that we have become clear about line c1, let us move on to c4. Here after
/0.F1+, the MSS add some words (cf. the second underlined phrase in my initial quotation): J;;K
[ 3C. !W, H;;2 3C. T, J;;K 3C. Q. Some editors try to make something of these words. Thus
Stallbaum (followed on this score by Hirschig) prints the following text:

2UWK M. 3G J.XEY?2@ 2Z+, P 1: J.XEY?2@ <*/2.2. /0.F1+,, J;;K 3C. 1: <*/2.2., H.XEB?26

which he translates thus: neque si ex homine, opinor, fetus non humanus gignatur, sed si fetus
naturalis suscipiatur, homo nominandus erit. That is to say, nor, I think, if something which is not
the [natural] offspring of a human is born, but rather if the [natural] offspring [of a human is born],
is he to be called a human. Another attempt is Fowlers:

2UWK M. 3G J.XEY?2@ 2Z+, P 1: J.XEY?2@ <*/2.2. /0.F1+,, H;;2 M. 1: <*/2.2. H.XEB?26

which he translates as nor if any offspring that is not human should be born from a human being,
should that other offspring be called a human being.
Fowlers text is hardly grammatical and hence out of the question; Stallbaums, though
grammatically correct, is quite clumsy. Both attempts to preserve the MSS text are trumped by
Peipers simple and elegant deletion, which gives line c4 the shape in which it can be read in the
editions of Mridier, Burnet, Duke et al., and in the quotation which opened this article.
Indeed, we can strengthen the case for the deletion, and at the same time make progress towards
a deeper understanding of our passages transmission, if we reason as follows.
(1) At c4 we do not really have various readings before us. The difference between J;;K [ 3C.
(!W) and H;;2 3C. (T) is a matter of word-division, accents and breathingsall matters
over which our MSS have no real authority. Both families actually offer us one and the
same reading, the majuscule %||`^%b, which different scribes interpreted differently
and presented in different shapes. Qs scribe merely went one step further by adding

(2) This %||`^%b bears a striking resemblance to the disputed words at c1, in particular to
the Y
variant J;;K [ M., which in majuscule script was written %||`%b. What is the
meaning of this resemblance? I venture a hypothesis: %||`^%b (c4) is the result of a
well-known kind of scribal mistake, i.e. the insertion of a marginal variant at the wrong
place. In fact, this seems to have been already Burnets hypothesis. For Burnet prints the
deleted words not as they are attested in any MS but in an emended and interpreted form,
J;;K [ M., which emphasizes (rightly, in my view) the connection with c1. Indeed, in his
apparatus ad c4 he explicitly adds a brief reference to the earlier line: (cf. c1).
This reconstruction is plausible enough to constitute a further reason for endorsing Peipers deletion
at c4. Moreover, as I announced above, it has interesting implications regarding the passages
transmission. To see what those implications are, let us continue our reasoning.
(3) Recall that the three families of our MSS depend on a common source or archetype. Let us
dub it #.
(4) Generally speaking, when several MSS independent of each other share the same textual
error, this must have already been present in their nearest common source, from which it
was copied into them.

(5) Therefore the intrusive %||`^%b was already present at c4 in the text of #.
The story might have gone like this. At some stage of the transmission of the Cratylus, a
common ancestor of !T" prior to #let us dub it #
had %||`}%b (= J;;K 2L M.) in the
text at c1 and a variant %||`%b (= J;;K [ M.) written in the margin. At some further stage of the
transmission of Platos text, which may be either intermediate between #
and # or (a more
economical hypothesis) identical with #, the marginal variant was corrupted into %||`^%b and
mistakenly incorporated into the text at the wrong place, namely in line c4. In any case, the variant
was in #s text at c4, and thence it was copied into all three families of MSS. Only Y
, and of
course its apograph Ven. 590, offer it (also) in its intended position, namely in the main text at c1.
This ought not to disconcert us: Y is the kind of MS which is not unlikely to preserve ancient

Pleraeque novae lectiones quas praebet Q vel incuria vel coniectura ortae sunt (Duke et al., Praefatio, x).
See S. Timpanaro, La genesi del metodo del Lachmann (Padua, 1985
), 1112.
See A. DAcunto (n. 4). We cannot, however, completely rule out the possibility that at c1 the Y
reading J;;K [
M. is just an (infelicitous) emendation by Planudes.
Here is a sketchy stemma, where the merely possible intermediate stage between #
and # is
referred to as (#




! T "

If at c1 " reads 3f., this may be accidental polygenesis, corruption of H. into 3f. being fairly
common in our MSS (cf. apparatus of Duke et al. ad 385a2); or it may be the effect of
Now, # has been tentatively identified by Antonio Carlini as the official text of Plato preserved
in the Imperial Library at Constantinople (which was founded by the emperor Constantius II in 356
Thus it is, if Carlini is right, quite an ancient source. How more ancient does #
have to be?
Could it be one of the ancient editions of Platos dialogues which have been hypothesized by
modern scholarship, like the Alexandrian one by Aristophanes of Byzantium or even (but less
probably) the Academic one? This is not impossible: scholars are in any case ready to ascribe to
those editions some of the errors which are common to all our MSS, including the tetralogical
ordering of the dialogues, which includes spurious materials and hence cannot stem from Plato
Indeed, an especially interesting parallel case is worth consideration. In a ground-
breaking study of the ninth century MS O = Vaticanus gr. 1 (which contains Laws, Epinomis,
Letters, Definitions and Spuria), Maria Jagoda Luzzatto has recently argued that the marginal notes

In the stemma I assume, just for the sake of simplicity, that the three families !, T and " form the three branches
of a tripartite transmission. My argument would be unaffected if this assumption were mistaken and the transmission of
the Cratylus were in fact bipartite, i.e. if there were a hyparchetipe common to !T, !" or T".
A. Carlini (n. 5), 12738. Carlinis hypothesis harmonizes with Maria Jagoda Luzzattos (n. 6) recent argument
that the so-called scholia Arethae preserved in the margins of the Bodleian B (and indeed B as a whole though this
does not seem to me to follow from her argument as automatically as she assumes, for various reasons which I shall not
go into here) derive from a late antique MS, whose mise en page she precisely reconstructs.
On the Alexandrian edition of Plato see F. Schironi, Plato at Alexandria: Aristophanes, Aristarchus, and the
Philological Tradition of a Philosopher, CQ 55 (2005), 42334. Schironi argues convincingly that Aristarchus wrote
a commentary on Platos dialogues, presumably using Aristophanes edition, and that it is from Aristarchus that the
critical signs which were affixed to Platos works by the second century AD (see D.L. 3.656, PSI 1488 = Plato 142 T
CPF) derive. On the Academic edition see Carlini (n. 5), 2230, who points out that the tetralogical ordering, often
associated to Thrasyllus on the basis of D.L. 3.5661, might date back to the Academy of Arcesilaus (third century BC).
written on it by a later hand, O
(eleventh century),
derive from a lost sixth century MS which in
turn collected scholia and variant readings stemming from yet more ancient sources.

We have been proceeding backwards from the readings of the medieval MSS to the ancient editions
of Plato. Now, continuing along the same path, I wish to make a final point about the ultimate
origin of our textual variant; and in order to do so I need to recall a few basic facts about ancient
Attic orthography.
To judge from the inscriptions, during most of the fifth century BC it was standard in Attica to
use one single sign, `, for o (and another single sign, ^, for e), whether short or long, whether open
or close. Thus, for example, the words which we nowadays print as J.XEY?2@ and 3?,41mF
would have been written respectively as %b~$`` and ^!&^_^. But then this state of affairs
underwent a twofold change. (i) In 403 BC Athens officially adopted the Ionic alphabet, which
involved a distinction between ^/` as the signs for close e/o, whether long or short, and '/" as the
signs for long open e/o. (ii) Between the end of the fifth century BC and the midst of the fourth a
separate and gradual process brought about a distinction between ^/` as the signs for short close
e/o and ^/`} as the signs for long close e/o.

Now, there is every reason to believe that Plato adhered to the first change but not to the second.
That he adhered to the first change (which took place in 403 BC, hence probably before he started
his career as a writer) is proved by the Cratylus various references to ' (393e, 407b, 414c, 427c)
and " (393d) as standard letters of the alphabet, as well as by some passages of the dialogue in
which Socrates points out that the ancient alphabet used ^ in place of ' (2U /CE 1+ 3TEY9X+
J;;C 9Z 1: ?+;+,-., 426c; cf. 411e, 418c) or that an etymology becomes clear if you consider the
word as written in the Attic language (3. 1x e11,*x 8B.x, 398d: presumably as contrasted with
the Ionic one) or in the ancient Attic way (e11,*,417 56 1: ?+;+,-., 410c)thereby meaning
the pre-403 Attic alphabet, which featured ^/` instead of '/" as the signs for long open e/o.
By contrast, there is no such positive evidence that Plato adhered to the second change, and
indeed there is much positive evidence to the contrary. For example, in the Cratylus the whole
argument at 416bd, where Socrates sets forth the etymology of *+;-. (beautiful), is intelligible
only if we assume that Plato is trading on the ambiguity of #%|`b as between *+;-. and *+;2O.
(neuter participle of *+;0B, call); indeed, at 416c7 and d4 !T" actually read as *+;-. (which
might represent an original #%|`b) what Duke et al. print as *+;2O., accepting corrections by

s marginal notes are systematically transcribed in Os apograph Laur. 59.1, a complete Plato written under the
direction of (again!) Planudes.
M.J. Luzzatto, Emendare Platone nellantichit. Il caso del Vaticanus gr. 1, Quaderni di storia 68 (2008), 29
85. Among those ancient sources, Luzzatto argues on the basis of her new interpretation of O
s abbreviations, was a
so-called Attic edition of the dialogues which can be identified with the <*W24,6 1V. K%11,*V. J.1,/Ef8B.
mentioned by Galen, in Platonis Timaeum p. 13 Schrder, according to the MSS text of that passage. Luzzatto rejects
the widespread attempts to correct forms of the adjective e11,*-6in Galen, in Harpocration (35.11, 55.6 Dindorf etc.)
and elsewhereinto forms of the adjective e11,*,+.-6, which should refer to editions to do with someone called
Atticus. For a survey of the evidence (carried out from this Attician perspective) see T. Dorandi, Editori antichi di
Platone, Antiqvorvm Philosophia 4 (2010), 16174.
See L. Threatte, The Grammar of Attic Inscriptions, 2 vols. (Berlin and New York, 198096), 1.17290, 23859,
who also points out the distinction between (i) and (ii).
Badham and Burnet. Another nice example occurs at R. 509d, where Socrates explicitly hints at a
wordplay between yE+12O (genitive of yE+1-., visible) and 2UE+.2O (genitive of 2UE+.-6,
heaven) which becomes much clearer if we write both words respectively as `$%&` and
`$%b`, as Slings boldly but correctly does in his edition.
And a third century BC papyrus of the
Laches (PPetrie II 50 = Plato 23 CPF) writes twice &`! (IV.17, VI.12) for 12Q6.

These things being so, at Cra. 393c1 J;;K 2L M. is undoubtedly the correct reading to print in a
modern edition; but the letters which Plato actually wrote, or had written by someone, were
probably %||`%b, because he wrote both j and 2L as `.
Therefore it is at least possible that
both variants at Cra. 393c1 arose as attempts to interpret his original words. To see a real instance
of a comparable scholarly attempt we only have to look up the Scholia vetera in Pindarum, III p.
16.56 Drachmann, where we find Aristarchus arguing that what in the text of Nemean 1.24
available to him is still written, in the ancient script (1x JET+) 4F+4)), as ^!|`! actually
has to be interpreted as 34;2@6 for metrical reasons.

S.R. Slings, Platonis Rempublicam (Oxford, 2003). Thereby Slings improves on a suggestion by U. von
Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Platon (Berlin, 1920
), 2.3367. Wilamowitz lists various similar passages and makes also a
brief reference to Cra. 416d. See also M. Leroy, Sur un emploi de "b' chez Platon, Rvue des Etudes Grecques
80 (1967), 23441 (who, however, fails to recognize the distinction between (i) and (ii), i.e. between the adoption of the
Ionic alphabet and the adoption of ^/`} as signs for long close e and o). Among other passages, Leroy mentions Cra.
396bc, where 2UE+.)+ is derived from yEV4+ 1C H.B: a parallel for R. 509d. For a different view see D.B. Robinson,
#E-.26, #2E-.2@6 and #E2@.-6 in Platos Cratylus, in L. Ayres (ed.), The Passionate Intellect (New Brunswick and
London, 1995), 5766, who claims that where a clarifying spelling was certainly available to Plato, perhaps we may
presume him to have made use of it where appropriate. This presumption seems to run foul of the evidence.
On the papyrus and its significance see again Wilamowitz (n. 24), together with G. Pasquali, Storia della
tradizione e critica del testo (Firenze, 1952
), 257, and A. Carlini in Corpus dei papiri filosofici 1*** (Florence, 1999),
1023. The papyrus is edited by F. Pontani, Per la tradizione antica del Lachete di Platone: PPetrie II, 50 e POxy 228,
Studi Classici e Orientali 45 (1995), 99126 at 11726.
He did not write them both as '`, using ' as a sign for initial aspiration, as in Attic script before 403: in the
Ionic alphabet ' was the sign for long open e, and after the Athenians adopted that alphabet they just stopped marking
initial aspiration except in few special contexts in which they continued to use ' despite its ambiguity (see Threatte [n.
23] 1.245 and my Cratylus commentary [n. 4], 439 n. 105where however I argue that in Cra. Plato does use '
when, at 412a and 437a, he has to mention initial aspiration).
See J. Irigoin, Histoire du texte de Pindare (Paris, 1952), 523 (and 227 for other surviving traces of ancient
script in Pindars text), and L.D. Reynolds and N.G. Wilson, Scribes and Scholars (Oxford, 1991
), 9.