Petronius' Satyrica 119.11-12, in Konrad Müller's Teubner edition (1995), reads:

hinc Numidae †accusatius†, illinc nova vellera Seres,

atque Arabum populus sua despoliaverat arva.

What reasons could the editor have had, to read accusatius here? To me, that does not seem to work for two reasons:

Firstly, it breaks the metre: de bello civile is in dactylic hexameters. If we read accusatius, the line scans:

Hinc Numi | dae -ccū | sātius | illinc | nōva | vellera | Sēres

That makes seven feet. The only way to fit this line in a dactylic hexameter, is by ignoring the length by nature of the ū in accūsatius, and by making the first syllable in illinc short (which does have the advantage of restoring the short o in nova):

Hinc Numi | dae -ccusa | tīus / ill | inc nova | vellera | Sēres

Secondly, I do not see how "accusatius" forms a coherent sentence. These lines list things stolen by, or forcibly given to, the Romans, as do the verses before them. The Seres, known for their silk, yield nova vellera and the Arabum (gen. pl. of Arabs) populus yields the spoils of sua arva. But what comes from the Numidae?

We can read accusatius as a perfect passive participle of accuso, in the neuter comparative nom/acc/voc, which would mean the Numidae yielded some single thing which was accused more than some other thing. Alternatively, Morpho suggests it could be a comparative adverb, which makes even less sense.

The critical apparatus has this to say about these lines:

accusatius O: accusant L: crustas Scaliger

L and O are two different collections of manuscripts, from which Müller constructed most of the text of his edition.

Reading crustās instead of accusatius, as the Loeb edition (Gareth Schmeling, 2020) does, perfectly fixes the metre:

hinc numi | dae crus | tās / ill | inc nova | vellera | Sēres

Furthermore, it perfectly fits the sense of the passage. L&S list "inlaid, chased, or embossed work on walls or vessels" under crusta and the Romans knew of marmor numidicum. North Africa, then, would have yielded marble, alongside silk from China and grain from Arabia.

The only argument in favour of accusatius seems to be lectio difficilior, but this lectio is so difficilis that it seems vix Latina.

What reasons could Müller have had to read accusatius here, instead of crustas, or what steps can I take to find an answer?

  • 1
    Are the daggers in the Teubner text, or did you supply them yourself?
    – cmw
    Jun 9, 2021 at 22:01
  • The daggers are Müller's; they are in the physical book. Jun 9, 2021 at 22:05
  • 2
    Welcome to the site, excellent question.
    – Cerberus
    Jun 10, 2021 at 4:32

1 Answer 1


When you see "daggers" (properly obeli) in a critical text, it means the word is (or words are) corrupt. If the editor cannot make sense of the meaning, they are obelized, which is essentially a shrug of the shoulders. So it isn't quite right to say that Müller "reads" accusatius here. Generally, if no one can make the sentence grammatical (or it clearly violates a poem's meter), then an editor can either leave the word obelized or offer an emendation. Müller opted for the former, while the Loeb opted for an emended reading.

Note that the name following crustas is Scaliger, which indicates that this was Joseph Scaliger's innovative conjecture. It might "fix" the problems of the sentence (and so is attractive to many an editor), but it does not have textual support. Scaliger made many such conjectures, but most of them end up in the apparatus criticus because it's difficult to see how they were corrupted from what the mss. attest.

So in essence, Müller chose accusatius not because he thinks it's the right word—he clearly doesn't think it makes sense here—but because it's the reading which is found in the manuscript. The Loeb, on the other hand, is for a more popular or student crowd, so it went with readability over textual fidelity and emended the text.

For reference, check out this giant list: Editorial Sigla and Abbreviations Used in the Apparatus to a Classical Text.

  • 1
    So the real question is not: why does Müller say accusatius? but rather: why do some say crustas? I took another look at the apparatus crtiicus, and it says that for this section, L refers to only four editions: one by Scaliger, and three published after Scaliger's edition, one of them in the same city, at the same time Scaliger lived there. This further supports your explanation of crustas. Thanks for the clear answer. Jun 9, 2021 at 23:05
  • 1
    @GaiusPetronius And in case it isn't clear, accusatius is the reading in O while L has accusant. The colons separate the readings and conjectures from each other.
    – cmw
    Jun 9, 2021 at 23:10
  • 1
    L is the source of all the codices listed under it. Scaliger wasn't the only one who made a copy of it, which is how we know what it contained. Likewise, O is the source for those mss. under it. Without reading the introduction to the text, I can't say for sure, but I presume here the codex Leidensis contained conjectures by Scaliger, one of which was changing accusant to crustas.
    – cmw
    Jun 9, 2021 at 23:28
  • 1
    That fits what I have read so far, so this answers my question. Thank you. Jun 9, 2021 at 23:31
  • 4
    @GaiusPetronius You're very welcome. Welcome to the site, by the way. I hope you stick around. Answering textual criticism questions is a refreshing break from English-to-Latin translations!
    – cmw
    Jun 9, 2021 at 23:39

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