Latin, literally 'the removal of copied codices'.

Operation of textual criticism by which those witnesses that after recensio are found to be descripti (i.e. copies of an extant manuscript) are removed, in that they are not of any use for the restoration of the text (constitutio textus). Cf. Maas (1960, §8).

The operation of eliminating the descripti conceals many dangers: to be sure that a codex is descriptus, one should prove that its own set of readings diverging from those of the alleged antecedent are all the result of independent conjectures, and do not depend on any other witnesses. If not all of them do, the younger codex would be a sibling of the earlier, rather than a descriptus, as pointed out by Sebastiano Timpanaro (1981, in particular p. 119):

“Si pone allora il problema: queste lezioni possono esser frutto di congettura, o sono tali da non poter in alcun modo essere escogitate congetturalmente? Nel secondo caso, il codice più recente è fratello, non figlio del più antico, e quindi non dev’essere eliminato."

"This raises the following problem: can these readings be the fruit of conjecture, or are they such that they could not have been excogitated conjecturally in any way whatsoever? In the latter case, the more recent manuscript is a brother of the older one, not its son, and therefore must not be eliminated [...]." (Transl. Most 2005, p. 154). 


– Maas, Paul. 1960. Textkritik. 4th ed. Leipzig: Teubner. – 1st ed. 1927.
– Pasquali, Giorgio. 1952. Storia della tradizione e critica del testo. 2nd ed. Firenze: Le Monnier. – 1st ed., Firenze: Le Monnier, 1934.
– Reeve, Michael D. 1989. “Eliminatio codicum descriptorum: A methodological problem.” In Editing Greek and Latin texts: Papers given at the Twenty-Third Annual Conference on Editorial Problems, University of Toronto, 6–7 November 1987, edited by John N. Grant, 1–35. New York: AMS Press.
– Timpanaro, Sebastiano. 1981. La genesi del metodo del Lachmann. 2nd ed. Padova: Liviana. – 1st ed., Firenze: Le Monnier, 1963.
– ———. 2005. The Genesis of Lachmann’s Method. Translated by Glenn W. Most. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. – Translated from Timpanaro 1981.

In other languages

Latin term used throughout.


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