The “Assembly of Whores” by Stephanos Sachlikes (c. 1331-post 1391) is preserved in all three manuscripts which transmit the works of the Cretan poet: a) the Parisinus gr. 2909 of the National Library of Paris (P), b) the Neapolitanus gr. III. A.a.9 of the National Library of Naples (N), c) the Greek manuscript H 405 of the Medical School of the University of Montpellier (Montepessulanus H 405). All three manuscripts are dated to the first half of the 16th century, almost a century and a half after the original composition of the work of Sachlikes.
The state of preservation of the “Assembly’s” text varies from manuscript to manuscript. P e.g. preserves 300 lines or halflines, M 269, whereas N only 190. Moreover, the problems resulting from the condition of the text are multiplied by the fact that lines extant in M and N are not always the same or placed in the same order as those of manuscript P. In the recent popularizing edition by Mavromates ‒ Panagiotakes the “Assembly” numbers 346 verses.
Our paper attempts to elucidate the manner in which the “Assembly of the Whores” was composed as an oral poem around a nucleus of themes and developed during performances in Candia and other cities in Crete with a varying number of rhyming quatrains into a hilarious institutive meeting of the Candia whores’ guild. Its text was most likely disseminated throughout Crete, not only during Sachlikes’ lifetime, but also after his death, up until the time when his poems assumed their final form in the three extant manuscripts (P, N and M).