Sunday, September 8, 2013

Manuscripts Of Livy In Romania And Moldova?

I don't know whether Romania and Moldova are good places to look for manuscripts of Livy. (At some point I really need to talk to some pros about how to do this Quixotic thing, searching for the lost books of Livy.) I don't know whether the area is a particularly good place to look for old manuscripts of any kind: much of its history, sadly, is a history of domination and occupation by foreign powers, and it's only since the 19th century that things such as the systematic collection of artifacts such as manuscripts has been allowed to thrive in public institutions belonging to Romania and Moldova themselves.

So why look there? (It's a twofold search, actually: looking for manuscripts which are currently in Romania and Moldova, and for evidence of manuscripts written there which now are somewhere else.) Because the area is unique in having a language based on Latin, but very few historical ties to the Roman Catholic Church. Dacia, the area of present-day Romania and Moldova, was abandoned by the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, and when it was Christianized in the 9th century it became a part of the Orthodox Church. If manuscripts of Livy were made by Romans in Dacia, and/or later by Dacians who had retained the Latin language, and if the lost books were victims of a concerted campaign by Catholics to destroy them beginning in the 6th century, any manuscripts in Dacia-Romania/Moldova would've escaped the reach of that campaign.

It's an absurdly thin thread of a hope, but absurdly thin threads are all I have so far. Of course, if manuscripts of the lost books had already been found in Romania or Moldova, or if Romanian or Moldovan manuscripts had been found elsewhere, the whole world would have heard about it by now. What I'm trying to do now is find out whether there are any manuscripts of the known books which are believed to have been written there. Those could possibly turn out to be clues to the whereabouts of the lost texts.

And, of course, that's true of manuscripts of Livy written anywhere. And, of course, it's true of manuscripts of other ancient writers who read Livy, and of biographical information about those other writers. I badly need to find a list of Livy manuscripts which is somewhere close to comprehensive. A recent and very comprehensive list would be the best, of course, but even a list made in the 19th century which was only halfway-comprehensive back then would be a tremendous help. Also by now I probably should have read every single commentary on Livywhich has ever been published, but, for whatever reason, every single one of those commentaries I've seen is, quite frankly, ridiculously expensive.

It would also be a tremendous help if my reading skills in Romanian and Moldavian were a little better. (For things like reading Romanian and Moldovan library catalogs.) These are Latin-based languages, and so I have a leg up with my knowledge of Latin and French and Spanish and Italian, but because they were cut off from the other languages over 1800 years ago, more than a few differences have crept in, and that means that it's harder for me to read Romanian than, for example, Portugese or Provencal. I am given to understand that the influence of Slavic language in the formation of Romanian and Moldovan has been especially strong, and that in the modification of the original Latin the indiginous Dacian language, Hungarian, Greek and other languages have all played a part. Oh well. High time I started to get serious about learning Hungarian anyway.

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