Newly Discovered Ancient Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories

Rather than use fresh parchment to transcribe the Archimedes Palimpsest prayer book, John Myronas, a 13th century scribe, reused pages from other books of that period. Apparently the scrubbed-off ink is readable with new imagining technology, and researchers are discovering that Myronas’ transcription is a gold mine. There are pages from a book by Archimedes, and the only known writings of the 4th BC Athenian politician Hyperides are among the prayer book’s page stock. Now a passage about Aristotle’s Categories has been identified!

From this BBC report:

A provisional translation of the commentary is currently being undertaken. It reveals a debate on some aspects of Aristotle’s theory of classification, such as: if the term “footed” is used for animals, can it be used to classify anything else, such as a bed? The passage reads:

For as “foot” is ambiguous when applied to an animal and to a bed, so are “with feet” and “without feet”. So by “in species” here [Aristotle] is saying “in formula”. For if it ever happens that the same name indicates the differentiae of genera that are different and not subordinate one to the other, they are at any rate not the same in formula.

Does anyone have more information about this discovery?


Newly Discovered Ancient Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories — 1 Comment

  1. Most of the contents of this palimpsest was read by Heiberg and published
    in 1910. The significance of the recent rereading of the palimpsest with
    modern technology is unclear to me.

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