How the Classics Survived
Another complexity of textual transmission via manuscript was the tendency for works to be misattributed. The work on display here, known as the Rhetorica ad Herennium or De ratione dicendi (its actual title has been lost), was written in the first century B.C. At some juncture before the fourth century A.D. it was misattributed to the great orator Cicero, and this false attribution held for a thousand years. In the 15th century Renaissance humanists proved, on the basis of linguistic principles, that Cicero could not have been its author. Yet even after the connection to Cicero had been disproved, the manual’s long tradition compelled printers to publish it among Cicero’s works.
These books represent various stages in the preservation and reiteration of a classical text: medieval manuscript, early printed editions, and modern critical editions with apparatus and translation.
© 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript