Worst Classical Typos

Here are my nominations:

1. In a Greek text: In Volume I of R. D. Dawe’s Teubner Sophocles (1975), the first word of Oedipus Tyrannus is misspelled. The fact that it’s a one-letter word is particularly impressive:

 τέκνα Κάδμου τοῦ πάλαι νέα τροφή

This was corrected to in the second edition (1984).

2. In a Latin text: In D. R. Shackleton Bailey’s Teubner text of Horace, the last word of the Horatian corpus is misspelled, turning Horace’s leech who will not let go until full of blood into a bird, specifically a swallow:

non missura cutem nisi plena cruoris hirundo

I’m told this was corrected to hirudo in later printings.

3. In a secondary source: In the Cambridge History of Classical Literature, II: Latin Literature (253), one of the most famous sentences in the Latin language is botched:

Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientiam nostram?

It looks like some officious proofreader ‘corrected’ the case of the last two words, forgetting the rule about ‘utor, fruor, fungor, vescor, potior, and their compounds’ and assuming that abutor takes the accusative like a normal verb.

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4 Responses to Worst Classical Typos

  1. IngKuebel says:

    I learned Latin long ago, and remember the sentence this way:
    Quo usque tandem abuteris patientiam nostram.
    Utor, uti, usus sum – being a verbum deponens (it lost its active form), as far as I remember.
    I was not really successful in finding that in the internet.

  2. Busman says:

    How many years did I spend being bored by such trivia at university?

    A mistake is a mistake and a pedant is a pedant.

  3. Rusty Mason says:

    It appears as a fleur-de-lis on my computer.

  4. Alfred M. Kriman says:

    I was curious what the error was in the Teubner Sophocles, since I couldn’t tell from the web page. The “impressive” one-letter-word error displays as a question mark or space, or a rectangle with an ex through it, or as a byte numeral (0xE1). At first I thought it was because I use only PC’s and Unix boxes, but the exed-box symbol was on a Mac. No luck playing with other character sets. I’m surprised no one else has reported similar problems. For anyone else who wondered (I checked our copies), the 1975 has an omicron majuscule in place of the omega.

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