Keywords: Lachmann’s method; humanistic texts; critical edition; bipartite stemmas; history of tradition.
This essay presents some reconsiderations on Lachmann’s method applied to
the concrete experience of the critical edition of humanistic texts. The apparent
obviousness of a bipartite stemma is illusory, if tested outside the data obtained
from the collation. The existence of an original often in motion; the notable diffusion
of the phenomenon of the so-called ‘contamination’; the dispersion of
the tradition; the impossibility of talking about a mechanical transmission
of texts; the partiality of the sight of the modern publisher, compelled by the
necessity to reconstruct the textual events starting from the observation point
represented by the base text: the awareness of all these limits is the real strength
of the philologist, who is called not only to rebuild texts, but even to embrace
the old dictum nothing in excess.