Statius: the Manuscripts of the "Silvae"

There is only one real manuscript, M, a 15th century ms, from which all other copies derive, plus one passage in a 10th century florilegium.



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /


Madrid Matritensis Biblioteca Nacional 3678 (M. 31).  This was commissioned by Poggio Bracciolini.  

While present at the Council of Constance in 1418, Poggio sent to Italy a brand-new manuscript containing Manilius, Silius, and the Silvae, written for him by a scribe whom he described in a letter as the "most ignorant of all men living."  The manuscript then disappeared.  G. Loewe rediscovered in 1879 in Madrid.  It no longer contains Silius.

Silius was certainly discovered before 6 July 1417, and in M, Silius and Statius appear to be written in one group.  This suggests that they were together in the ancestor manuscript.  In all probability this was a manuscript listed as "Ovidii Metamorfoseon Sili et Stacii volumen I" catalogued in the second quarter of the 9th century (possibly a century later) in a library near Lake Constance, perhaps Reichenau.  This manuscript has disappeared since Poggio saw it, however.

The text of the Silvae does not seem to have circulated in Italy before 1453, when Poggio finally settled in Italy for good.



Florence Laurentianus 29.32.  This is a miscellaneous manuscript, which contains various texts.  One except of the Silvae is included, the birthday ode to Lucan (II.7).  The ms. was written in western Germany, and was discovered there by Politian, and again by Heinsius.  It is possible that it derives from the same manuscript as M; they share lacunae, and when they differ, M is usually right.


There are other copies, all derived from M.  After 1453, M was copied at least 5 times.  The earliest extant descendant was written in Rome in 1463. 

The editio princeps was made from a bad copy of M.  A copy of this with annotations in the hand of Angelo Politian has given rise to controversy, but these seem now agreed to be conjectures or from M, rather than readings from another manuscript.


D.R.SHACKLETON BAILEY, Statius: Silvae.  Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press (2003).  Foreword. Checked.
M.D.REEVES, in L.D.Reynolds, Texts and Transmissions.  Oxford: Clarendon (1983) p.397-9.  Checked.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse. Corrections and additions are very welcome.

This page has been online since 2nd June 2007

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