Monday, April 6, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Anika Nicolosi (trans.), Ipponate, epodi di Strasburgo - Archiloco, epodi di Colonia (con un'appendice su P. Oxy. LXIX 4708). Eikasmos, 14. Bologna: Pàtron Editore, 2007. Pp. 396; pl. 1. ISBN 978-88-555-2914-3. €30.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Ralph M. Rosen, University of Pennsylvania

Anika Nicolosi's has published an impressively erudite, elegantly produced edition, with text and exhaustive commentary, of several fragmentary poems by Archilochus and Hipponax. Three famous fragments (amounting to barely 125 lines of legible text in all) are subjected to detailed scrutiny here -- the so-called Strasbourg Epode(s), a choice piece of poetic invective variously attributed by scholars to Archilochus or Hipponax (in recent editions printed as Hipponactean dubia, frr. 115-117W and 194 Degani), the "Cologne Archilochus" (frr. 196 + 196aW), and the "New Archilochus," which refers to the fragment of Archilochus recently published by Dirk Obbink in 2005 (P.Oxy. 4708). The last item is arguably the most exciting, both because it is a recent addition to the corpus of fragments and for what it adds to our understanding of Archilochean poetics, but Nicolosi only treats this fr. in an appendix, presumably because it came to light too close to the publication of her own edition for her to offer a fuller study.

Nicolosi's choice of frr. seems rather random: nothing in particular unifies them beyond the fact that two of them are invective poems, and all three were written by poets who were lumped together in antiquity as "iambographers" (though, interestingly, none of the frr. examined in this edition are actually in iambic verse). It is easy to imagine various thematic selections from these poets (one might, for example, collect poems that attack a single target, or constitute psogoi -- the "Lycambes-Neobule poems" for Archilochus, to which the Cologne Archilochus would belong, or the "Bupalus poems" for Hipponax), but Nicolosi makes no attempt to explain why she decided to bundle these particular frr. together in one volume. No startling revelations about these frr. emerge from the commentary, although this is not surprising, given the amount of scholarly attention (with the exception of the new Archilochus fragment) these relatively few lines have already received. The questions and controversies are familiar enough: did Hipponax in fact pen the (unattributed) Strasbourg epodes? Are the two frr. 115W and 117W (116W is only an illegible scrap), which come from the same papyrus, actually from a single poem? Did Archilochus in fact compose the Cologne epode, or was it a later forgery? What do we do with the poet's "I" in that epode? Should we read the poem autobiographically, or generically? Nicolosi assiduously discusses all the evidence for, and scholarship on, such questions. This is undoubtedly useful in itself, but in the end our conception and understanding of these fragments remains more or less the same as it was before. She rehearses, for example, a century of thematic and linguistic arguments that point to, reasonably enough, Hipponactean authorship for the Strasbourg epodes over against an earlier tradition (beginning with its first editor, Reitzenstein) attributing them to Archilochus, though this has long been more or less the communis opinio. In the case of the Cologne Archilochus, once again, all the arguments about authenticity, literary dynamics, and the relationship between frr. 196aW and 188W, are expansively presented, but with little new to offer.

In terms of what Nicolosi explicitly sets out to do, however--to offer a full, updated commentary on these texts, while affirming or discarding various scholarly approaches to them--there is little to complain about. This is clearly a work of consummate philological skill, which anyone with even a passing interest in these fragments will want to consult. With its thirty pages of bibliography and extensive indices all trained on what amounts to a handful of verses, one can truly say that Nicolosi leaves no stone unturned.

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