Mary Beard stands up for readers

The article ‘Democracy, the footnote test’ in this week’s TLS* contains two interesting observations, one general:

‘It is not a bad rule of thumb in modern ancient history writing that the more space the footnotes occupy, the less likely they are to prove what they are supposed to’

and one on an edition of Cicero:

‘If you want further proof that the reader has not been top of anyone’s mind here, reflect only on the system of abbreviations. Throughout the book, the abbreviation for Cicero is “C.” (with a full stop). The abbreviations used for two of the medieval manuscripts of the text are “C” (without a full stop) and “Cv” (with a superscript ”v”). It’s all technically correct, but you couldn’t get more confusing of you tried.’

And for Beard’s own struggles with footnote references, see her blog.

* TLS no. 576 (6 September 2013) pp. 8–9