The long-standing controversy as to whether or not the Latin Ephemeris Belli Trojani, preserved under the name of Dictys Cretensis (ed. F. Meister, Teubner, Leipsic, 1872), rests upon a Greek original has at length been settled in the affirmative by the recent discovery of a fragment of the Greek Dictys. The fragment in question was found in the winter of 1899-1900 in the Egyptian town of Umm el Baragat (the ancient Tebtunis) on the back of a series of revenue returns dated 206 A. D. and is published by the discoverers in Tebtunis Papyri Vol. II, pp. 9 ff., London, 1907. Comparison of the fragment, which is short and badly mutilated, with the corresponding portions of the extant versions of Dictys proves beyond a doubt that it forms part of the long-lost Greek text.
The annals of Dictys Cretensis survive in four mutually independent versions, the Latin Ephemeris Belli Trojani of the fourth century A. D., and three later Greek versions, embodied in Byzantine world chronicles, by Joannes Malalas (sixth century), Joannes Antiochenus1 (seventh century), and Georgius Cedrenus (eleventh century), respectively. It is my present purpose to inquire what light the newly discovered fragment sheds upon the relation of these versions to their original and to one another.
To begin with the Latin Ephemeris. The Greek fragment proves, in the first place, that a certain Lucius Septimius, who, in an epistle prefixed to the Latin text, claims that he has translated the ensuing annals of Dictys from the Greek (Meister, p. i, 1. 16), was not, as the advocates of a Latin Dictys had maintained, the author of these annals, ' but, as he himself declares, merely the translator of an earlier work written in Greek.
In the second place, the fragment accurately bears out a further assertion made by Septimius in his epistle with regard to the manner in which he performed his task of translation. This he describes as follows: nobis cum in manus forte libelli venissent, avidos verae historiae cupido incessit ea uti erant Latine disserere, non magis confisi ingenio, quam ut otiosi animi desidiam discuteremus (Meister, p. I, ll. 14-18). If now, taking the words "uti erant Latine disserere" to mean a loose paraphrase as distinguished from a literal translation, we compare the claim of Septimius with his actual practice, we find that he is, as a matter of fact, at constant pains to expand the wording of his original.
-American Journal of Philology, Page 329 show more