Corpus Caesarianum: Anatomy of an Error

A forthcoming SBL Press volume’s citation of Bellum alexandrinum led a copyeditor to check the listing of that work in the SBL Handbook of Style, which consequently uncovered a clear (but not identical) error in both editions of SBLHS.

The error appears on page 146 of the current edition:

sblhs2_bell.afr

The error may not be obvious at first glance, but it is glaring when one realizes that no one has ever suggested that Aulus Gellius is the author of Bellum africum and Bellum alexandrinum (the use of roman here instead of italics will be explained below). How could such an attribution have crept into SBLHS? A screen shot of the corresponding entry in the first edition not only reveals the source of the error but also hints strongly at the cause.

sblhs1_bell.afr

Notice first that the two works are still listed under Aulus Gellius, although this time in a different order, after Noctes atticae. Note also that the Aulus Gellius entry is followed by one for Bion and another for Caesar. We are nearly ready to explain the error, but first we should learn more about the works in question.

Charles H. Beeson explains that “the commentaries of Caesar on the Gallic and Civil wars were combined soon after his death with accounts of the Alexandrine, African, and Spanish wars to form the so-called Corpus Caesarianum” (1940, 113). That is, two works authored by Caesar (Bellum civile and Bellum gallicum) were joined to three works not authored by him (Bellum alexandrinum, Bellum africanum, and Bellum hispaniense) to form the Corpus Caesarianum.

The first edition of SBLHS correctly listed Bellum africum and Bellum alexandrinum separately from Caesar. Unfortunately, instead of these works being listed individually by title between Aulus Gellius and Bion (in correct alphabetical order: Aulus—Bell. afr.—Bell. alex.—Bion), they were tucked under the Aulus Gellius heading. This error was carried over to the second edition of SBLHS, then obscured by the reordering of the works. In fact, the entries of this sequence will be corrected in the next edition of SBLHS as follows (note also the addition of Bellum hispaniense).

Aulus Gellius    
Noct. att. Noctes atticae Attic Nights
Bell. afr. Bellum africum African War
Bell. alex. Bellum alexandrinum Alexandrian War
Bell. hisp. Bellum hispaniense Spanish War
Bion    
Epitaph. Adon. Epitaphius Adonis Lament for Adonis
[Epith. Achil.] Epithalamium Achillis et Deidameiae Epithalamium to Achilles and Deidamea
Caesar    
Bell. civ. Bellum civile Civil War
Bell. gall. Bellum gallicum Gallic War

One final comment: because Bellum africum, Bellum alexandrinum, and Bellum hispaniense are unattributed works (not cited by author), the titles are set roman, in keeping with usual SBLHS style (e.g., §4.3.3.1).

Work Cited

Beeson, Charles H. 1940. “The Text History of the Corpus Caesarianum.” Classical Philology 35:113–25.

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