Oldest Extant Manuscripts of Ancient Works
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Is there by any chance a semi-popular work giving a general overview of the oldest manuscripts currently in existence of the major works of the ancient world? I was reading in Leo Corry's A Brief History of Numbers yesterday and (not being an ancient history buff) was surprised to learn that the oldest extant manuscripts of Euclid's Elements are only about half as old as the originals (would be).
I see that that there is Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics, but I don't really want to pay $325, it looks a little dense for a non-expert, and it apparently only deals with Latin works.
I don't know of a specific book about this but here's some relevant information:
And what about this? http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/etruscan-gold-book-believed-to-be-the-oldest-com...
The physical material upon which the texts are recorded is of absolutely no concern to me. I want to know, for a given ancient text, what is the oldest extant physical object upon which that text is recorded (and how old is it)? And I want a book that has this information collected; I don't want to have to Google "What is the oldest extant copy of x?" for a thousand different values of x.
For most ancient texts it just isn't all that simple. And while reading up on a few texts that interest me might be fun, one after another on works that I have no connection to sounds deadly dull.
1) I want a book like Texts and Transmission but at maybe 1/3 the cost and without the limitation to Latin texts.
2) Do you find Texts and Transmission deadly dull? The reviewers don't seem to.
Thanks! That chapter of Hall is exactly the sort of thing I'm interested in.
Nearer to what you asked for but for the individual author, you might try the Greece & Rome New Surveys in the Classics series. Each volume is reasonably priced second hand (and not outrageous new) and generally covers a single author or topic with info on textual history and short academic bibliographies and thirty to fifty pages of descriptions and scholarship. Also useful. Chris Collard's Euripides volume was the only place I found a list of Euripides' alphabetic (as opposed to the Byzantine best-of list).