Who Needs a System of Sigla: Redux

I now know the answer to the question ‘who needs a system of sigla?’

A: Piers Ploughman scholars. Lawrence, who cares (possibly too much…1) about manuscript sigla, told us on tuesday that there around fifty MSS of Piers. And a single MS could have several sigla, refering to the texts within (so, for example, an MS with both C and B recensions in it will have two conventional sigla- one for the C and one for the B text.) This is all very confusing, but, on the other hand, with so many MSS, if you tried reffering to them by manuscript short title, your word count would disappear quicker than you could say ‘verbose’.

On the other hand: Piers Ploughman scholars have sets of conventional sigla! I am very jealous.


1. Just kidding, Lawrence. One can never care too much about persnickety details, I say.


2 Responses to “Who Needs a System of Sigla: Redux”

  1. B. Hawk Says:

    Piers Ploughman scholars have sets of conventional sigla!

    Yes, and I think it’s high time that A-S scholars did too. I wonder why someone like Ker never set one up that’s traditionally stuck, or why the use of his Catalog numbers never stuck. Perhaps someone who works with mss closely should write a prominent article on the need for conventional sigla in Anglo-Saxon studies, and then it should become a centerpiece for future scholars.

  2. highlyeccentric Says:

    Ker’s catalogue numbers could definitely be more widely used. They aren’t a viable solution, however, because they only apply to MSS containing anglo-saxon language. Gneuss’ Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts would be a better choice (I think it covers all MSS made in AS England).

    Having said that, a conventionalset of sigle for the whole AS corpus would be nigh impossible. Ploughman-ites can’t even manage that- they have three clashing sets, one for each recensions, although Lawrence is working on convinving people to iron that out.

    With Anglo-Saxon stuff, though, there isn’t even a conventional set of sigla for particular texts! Everyone who writes about the Sermo Lupi uses a different set of sigla to explain its development!

    I vote for scrapping ’em all. Or possibly using Gneuss numbers. I’ll have a look at Awesome’s copy when I’m at her place on friday, perhaps.

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