Saturday, April 18, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Paolo Santé, Gli scoli metrici a Pindaro. Studi di metrica classica 13. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore, 2008. Pp. 71. ISBN 9788862271080. €36.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Roosevelt Rocha, Universidade Federal do Paraná-Brasil

Metrics can be a very difficult matter, not only owing to its specific terminology but also for the limited number of sources from ancient times that deal with it. A summary list of sources would include Hephaestion's Enchiridion, Aristides Quintilianus' De Musica (I, 20-29), many observations by Roman grammarians and the metrical scholia to some authors like Aristophanes and Pindar. Santé's book deals with this last category to show that, if we want to understand difficult passages in Pindar's poems, we should be more attentive to the scholia on his verses.

In the Introduction, Santé (henceforth S.) states his principal thesis: the metrical scholia contained in Pindar's Epinicia manuscripts help us understand the ancient colometry of the Pindaric odes. As S. explains it, even today, after generations of scholars studying Pindar's metrics, the specific structure of the Boeotian poet's verse is still controversial. There are some points considered beyond debate nowadays, notably those criteria established by Boeckh to mark the end of a verse: the frequent presence of word end linked to brevis in longo and to hiatus. If we compare the ancient colometry present in the scholia to the Pindaric poems especially with that of the Snell-Maehler edition, we will see that there are many examples of verses in which the ancient versification, proposed in the scholia, can be maintained, contrary to modern colometry. S. gives some examples taken from Nemean 5, Isthmian 1, Nemean 2, Olympian 13.

In the next chapter, entitled "Problems in Interpretation: Alternatives and Variations in the Scholia", S. shows that already in the scholia we can find alternative interpretations in the metrical analysis. There are metrical schemes that can be considered open to different opinions. Even the scholiasts, who are supposed to have more documents and more information on the metrical analysis of Pindar's poems than we do, sometimes hesitate and present two analyses for a passage or two analyses in the corresponding verses of strophe and antistrophe. As S. shows, an iambic sequence can sometimes be analysed as ionic, antispastic can be read as anapestic, dactylic as prosodiac, and so on. In this kind of poetry, in which the verses are not kata stichon and have their own scheme different from the last verse, it's difficult to establish a single interpretation.

Not only can the scholiasts hesitate in their analyses, they can also make mistakes, as S. shows in the next two chapters, "Mistakes in Interpretation and Scansion Mistakes". One example occurs in the scholium to Nemean 6 str. 3 (p. 24, 12-13 Tessier), where the scholiast analyses the scheme - u - u u - ? ? which is a catalectic pherecratean or a hemiasclepiad I, as a hexaseme trochee followed by an ionic a minore. About the scansion errors, S. explains that there is a tendency in the metrical scholia to Pindar to limit the analysis to the first triad of the poem. If the scholiast had observed the responsion in the other strophes and epodes in a poem, he could have solved some prosodical ambiguities caused by correptio attica, synizesis, abbreviation in hiatus or dichronos. To prevent these mistakes, it would be enough comparing the strophes and epodes in the poem.

After discussing these mistakes, S. presents an Appendix where he deals with some analyses of the scholia and some cases of brevis in longo in verbal synapheia. What S. intends to show in this part of the book is that it is not necessary to analyse some examples of final syllables as brevis in longo in verbal synapheia correspondence, as many modern experts do. It is better in this case to follow the ancient colometry found in the scholia and consider these final syllables as an indifferent element. One example of this we can find in the scholium to Olympian 1, str. 8 (p. 1, 12 Tessier). Also in the Appendix, S. lists some scholia that present analyses of rare or difficult metrical schemes that are problematic from outset. In the examples discussed by S., the text found in the scholium has a descriptive and non-interpretative aspect, with the didactic purpose of helping the beginner. One example of this is the scholium to Olympian 1, str. 13 (p. 1, 15-16 Tessier).

In "Conclusions" S. summarizes his argument. If we consider all the scholia that are related to Pindar's epinicia in kat'enoplion-epitrite, we see that a new and coherent application of the ancient metrical theory is needed. In other words, what S. is proposing is a new interpretation of the colometric disposition of Pindar's versification. In his view, besides giving us general information about the metrical theory, the scholia to Pindar's epinicia can clarify colometric problems, even if we find some hesitation and variation in the metrical analyses. S. reminds us that some of these alternative interpretations derive from ambiguities in the metrical marks and they are a testimony to the scholiasts' intellectual honesty. There are also some descriptive and non interpretative scholia. One should remember that the corpus is a composite work in which we see the contribution of many authors through centuries of Pindaric scholarship, starting with the Library of Alexandria, passing through the Imperial and the Byzantine times. There are also mistakes in some analyses found in the scholia. This way, the picture seems uneven: mingled with correct and interesting analyses in the kat'enoplion-epitrite poems we find other interpretations that are less reliable, especially in the poems with more complex 'mixed structures'. But, as S. concludes, if the ancient metrical scholia are not rejected as a whole but rather evaluated with accuracy in connection with the papyri and the manuscripts, one can reassess their value.

In the final chapter, "Brief Textual and Exegetical Notes", S. proposes new readings to the text of some metrical scholia: Olympian 14, str. A' 10, Olympian 13, str. 10 (pp. 11, 21 and 12,1 Tessier), Pythian 11, str. 6 (p. 21, 5 Tessier) and Nemean 7, str. 4 (p. 25, 6-8 Tessier).

Closing the book, there is an "Index of Metrical Scholia Examined and Quoted".

The edition was very well done. I have found just a few typos: there is an 'introduction' at the top of page 11 that shouldn't be there; p. 29, n. 54, συκγείμενον for συγκείμενον; p. 37, 73, 'antipasti' for 'antispasti'; and p. 48, line 11, 'pentememimere' for 'pentemimere'.

To conclude, I think it's important to say that S.'s book, though very short, has a large amount of information in its few pages. S.'s subject requires organizing the pertinent ancient material and engaging other specialists in the field; herein lies the book's strength. S. has studied with Antonietta Gostoli and Bruno Gentili, two of the major names in Italian philology and many of S.'s ideas can be traced back to these scholars. Furthermore, S. certainly was strongly influenced by Jean Irigoin, author of Les scholies métriques de Pindare (Paris, 1958). But this influence does not mean that S. refrains from criticizing his predecessors. As a consequence S.'s book indicates the need for a new edition of Pindar's poems in kat'enoplion-epitrite, with a new colometry.

The only thing that left me unsatisfied was the 'telegraphic style' characteristic of this kind of book. The material is difficult and a less elliptical presentation would have improved this. Indeed, many times it is not easy to understand what S. is saying, though this doesn't mean that the author didn't explain himself satisfactorily. This happens with most books on metrics, yet it is important to present this discipline clearly, especially to beginners. And books like the one by S. make a major contribution to this debate.

1 comment:

  1. Leofranc Holford-StrevensApril 19, 2009 at 2:16 PM

    >p. 37, 73, 'antipasti' for 'antispasti';



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