International Conference of the European Society for Textual Scholarship edition:6 location:Brussels date:19-21 November 2009
Long before Xenophon’s writings were printed in the original Greek, Italian humanists were already busy translating them into Latin. In this paper I will concentrate on the contribution of Francesco Filelfo (1398-1481), who as a young man translated two opuscula (Constitution of the Spartans and Agesilaus, 1430), and more than three decades later, for his last and most ambitious undertaking in the field, got back to Xenophon to translate the Cyropaedia (1467), engaging in an explicit polemic with the earlier abridged translation by his colleague Poggio Bracciolini.
Filelfo was an excellent graecist – maybe the best in the West before Poliziano – and a keen manuscript collector, and his translations’ manuscripts are punctuated with philological, orthographical and translational marginalia in both Latin and Greek. It’s not a coincidence, then, that Filelfo’s translation still figures as an unequivocal indirect witness to the “original” text in the critical apparatus of most modern Greek Xenophon editions, but a study of Filelfo’s Greek sources reveals a more complicated picture – and so does the edition history of his translations. Both teach us not to take Filelfo’s received text at face value, although it was the standard version Europe read Xenophon in for more than a century: Filelfo’s Cyropaedia edition was printed as early as 1477, forty years before the Greek editio princeps (Giunta, 1516). Together with both opuscula and Xenophon translations by other humanists it was subsequently reprinted in most sixteenth century bilingual Greek-Latin and monolingual Latin Xenophon editions, up to and including Stephanus’ annotated ‘critical’ editions.