402 Cohen Hall
In his Life of Alexander Plutarch claims that Aristotle produced his own recension of the Iliad and then gave it to Alexander as part of his provisions on campaign. This edition eventually came to be known as the edition of the Iliad “from the casket.” Almost all scholars today agree that the words “from the casket” refer to the luxury chest of unguents that Alexander acquired in the Persian war booty after conquering Darius. In this talk, however, I suggest that the ancients probably did not know what the words “from the casket” meant, and that the interpretation maintained by scholars today is as good as any other. At the Biblioteca Nazionale of Naples there is a manuscript (III AA 16) containing letters from the Byzantine scholar and diplomat Manuel Chrysoloras (1350-1415). One of these letters, which has yet to be edited and made available to the public, presents an analysis of the words “from the casket” that opens the door to a number of new possible interpretations.