Virgil, Aeneid 2. 567–88

Classical Quarterly 11 (3-4):185- (1961)
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Few critics can ever have shown more light-hearted thoughtlessness towards an anxious posterity than Servius in his casual preservation of the ‘Helen-episode’, lacking in our ancient manuscripts of Virgil and primarily extant only in this precarious form. A pity that Servius spoke at all, if he could not tell us more; and to make matters worse, he ignored the lines in his commentary. Aelius Donatus says nothing of them. Tiberius Claudius Donatus passes peacefully in his interpretatio from 2. 566 to 2. 589; his prosy conscientiousness nowhere else allows him to skip so much. The passage so rashly preserved forms an exasperating Tummelplatz for students of Virgil: ‘quadereviridoctiiampridem inter se certarunt semperque, ni fallor, certabunt.’ The purpose of this paper is to suggest that Servius told the truth about the lines, and was not planting a forgery on a credulous world



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