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Journal Article

The Evolution of Manuscript Traditions

Michael P. Weitzman
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (General)
Vol. 150, No. 4 (1987), pp. 287-308
Published by: Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society
DOI: 10.2307/2982040
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2982040
Page Count: 22
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The Evolution of Manuscript Traditions
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Abstract

The originals of ancient literary works gave rise to copies. These manuscripts were often copied in turn; often, too, manuscripts eventually perished. The editor of an ancient work must consider the relations among the manuscripts, extant and lost, which transmitted the text, and the structure of such manuscript populations in general. For example, most family-trees reconstructed by editors for the manuscripts of ancient works show exactly two main branches; is this to be expected, or due to some flaw in methods of reconstruction? Such questions are approached by modelling the evolving manuscript population through a birth-and-death process, with illustrative data for Greek and Latin literature.

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