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John Magee

Alexander on Peri Hermeneias 19b22-24: the Evidence from Boethius' First Commentary

Peri Hermeneias 10, 19b22-24, was a passage that appears to have posed particular difficulty for the commentators. Boethius preserves evidence for the interpretations of Herminus, Alexander, and Porphyry, and it takes twenty pages of his own commentary to dispose of these three lines of Aristotle's work. Particularly intriguing is the fact that he speaks of having selected one from a number of interpretations either proposed or discussed by Alexander, which he neatly packages as the 'simpler' interpretation (by comparison with Porphyry's 'deeper' or 'truer' one) in his second commentary but treats more expansively in the first commentary, which is intended for less advanced readers. There are certain points of contrast between the two treatments which, especially given Alexander's stature and the scant remains of his commentary, would appear to justify detailed consideration. One further point of interest is the fact that the Anonymus Parisinus (2064) provides certain information which, at least in principle, serves as a kind of "tie-breaker" between Boethius and Ammonius, our other main source of information for the history of interpretation of this difficult passage of Aristotle. In the paper I will present a critically edited text, from ten of the earliest extant MSS, of the passage in Boethius' first commentary, along with an interpretation thereof.