Vituperation of Cyclic Poets, and the Unreliability of Scholia

The following, taken from the Scholia Vindobonensia, illustrates one of the central problems with scholia: some are incredible storehouses of information and textual elucidation, while others are either wildly inaccurate or hopelessly absurd. Much of the Scholia Vindobonensia consists of straightforward explication, but the following is a preposterous ad hoc explanation which reflects the Scholiast’s lack of familiarity with early Greek poetry:

“Cyclicus is used here as a pronominatio, that is, as a name used in place of another name, which is sometimes used for praise, sometime for blame, so that by the same force of the word we can understand either sense. Here, however, we can understand the word to be meant as vituperation. A cycle (cyclus) is a line drawn around, but not brought back to the same point. In this way, Horace means that the Cyclic poet never touches on the matter at hand, but has rather gone around and around it, thus diverging farther and farther from the subject with every turn.”

cyclicus est pronominatio, id est, nomen pro nomine positum, quod fit aliquando pro laude, aliquando pro vituperatione, ut in ipsa vi vocabuli possimus utrumque notare. hic vero fit, ut vituperationem possimus ibi notare. vocatur enim cyclus linea circumducta, non ad idem reducta. et per hoc notat eum non rem tetigisse, sed circa ipsam rem ivisse; et semper magis ac magis discedit ab ipsa re.

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