Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Caesar Questa (ed.), Titus Maccius Plautus. Bacchides. Editio Plautina Sarsinatis; 4. Sarsina/Urbino: QuattroVenti, 2008. Pp. 108. ISBN 9788839208477. €16.00 (pb).
Reviewed by John Henderson, King's College, Cambridge

This was the sixth play to arrive in the Sarsina series (with four more then in the offing), which provides affordably compact individual editions that present would-be definitively collated and witnessed texts plus apparatus, and no frills. As the author's first name says, they are written in Latin. Q opened the account with Casina, and the sister volume of Lecturae on Bacchides in the Ludus Philologiae series also appeared back in 2001. Q's first thoughts on editing Bacchides were published forty-five years before the arrival of this, Q's third shot at Plautus' version of Dis Exapaton:1 Plautinissime, the first edition of 1965 underwent a second recension (1975) in the aftershock of Eric Handley's unveiling of the substantial fragments of the Menandrian original (1968).2 This at a stroke shot the sadly acephalous Bacchides up on(to) the list of priorities in Roman Comedy, as the re-dedication of the present edition to Eric still attests; so it is egregious nonsense for Q to stick so rigidly to the Sarsina format as to exclude the Greek from its proper place as appendix (six pages in the second edition). In the meantime, John Barsby's handy 1986 edition, featuring a verse translation especially attuned to the Latin metres, opened up the script for Anglophone enjoyment of its fun, but without so much as presenting an apparatus.

Q's 2008 edition attends to his predilections: codicology and cantica metrics (with many pp. refs. to his magisterial publications). A closing appendix profiles the colometry (usually following the lead of the Vatican Ms B) in a full Metrorum Conspectus (pp. 105-08), and much information and admonishment is tucked into the app. I notice new errors only at 78 es for est, 555 dico for dic; cf. 379-81, app., elecutionem. By some quirk, Q always spells Adrian Gratwick <[Gratwich]>.

The constituted text (based on fresh reading through the manuscripts) includes minor revisions and reversions, but there is precious little disturbance, and the intent to make accessible a lucid and assured conspectus of the paradosis and its critical history is now achieved. Q has always respected the codices to the letter, and from Lidus, Crisalus (but Mnesilochus, etc) in the list of Personae onwards, provides an elaborate running account of orthographics, scene headings and speaker assignation, of notae and supervenient--esp. Poggian and post-Poggian--hands, and the like, streamed above the apparatus proper. The (u-not-v) text is now peppered with qum, Talem, simbolum, ausculantem, and other such antique beauties, mi and nil are now generally preferred to mihi and nihil (with nec for neque at 146, 996), and hiatus is now regularly upheld (as 113 te | for ted.; 171 | abii for abivi; 196 illo | for illoc; 311 illo for illoc; 678 me | for med; 740 te | for ted; 766 illum | for Camerarius' illunc; 799 illi, | for illic (Ritschl); 913 ille | for Aldus' illic; 987 | Ilio (not Lindsay's illi Ilio); 1071 | integrum kept (not Ritschl suppl. iam i.); 1094 me | for med). Once they come into the reckoning (accedunt), the app. minutely records all legible features of the damaged Ambrosian text, known since Handley to be an improving recension (as in the ordering at 496-9), and every Menandrian parallelism, together with an indication of its upshot for Plautus.

Ancient testimonia, climaxing in a poignantly unanchored noenum, are for this edition held back for an appendix (pp. 96-104), to slight irritation given our dependence on a score of fragments for knowledge of the opening scenes and prologue, and given the consequent need to assess the critical shifts in the apparatus against the witnesses now severed from them--reserved for later. At 10, Q finds no place for Hermann's expressive halitant. At 22, he now omits mention of Arnott's qui. 23 anteit [malis] (suppl. O. Skutsch) is kept (not Leo's [fide]).

In the text proper (comparing Q's second edition and Lindsay's OCT): at 41, Leo's dicis is now preferred to dices. 64 distimulant is in, for destimulant. 69 is unbracketed and switched with 68 (Langen). 73 malacisandus now loses Merula's -ss-. 81 accubem (Camerarius) for accumbam. 95 ego for eo (Hermann). At 106-08, Q keeps 106-107-"106a" (bracketed)-108, improbably defending the doublet as propter homoeoarchon, while neatly documenting the debate on the possibility of a Plautine cue chorus here: for 107 he retains nescioqui, turbare qui huc it, against (e.g.) Lindsay's nos nescioquoi turbae quae huc it. (Surely Lydus' street-long scene harrying of Pistoclerus with his train of party supplies constitutes a turba and a half, te ... cum tanta pompa, 113-14, plus the racket which is both captioned by 109, tacitus <-> 167-8, istac tenus ... libertas datast | orationis: satis est, and thematized by mutum, 128, tace, 137, impudentiam, 160, istaec flagitia, 167). 108 lectum is kept, not Tränkle's (joke-spoiling and -explaining?) tectum. At 146 Q (unusually now) holds out for obeli over conjectures. 153 tam (Bothe) for iam. 217 nactus for nanctus. 221 opus est for opust. 223 Bothe's exiget kept (not -it). 225 ego (suppl. Bothe) for obeli. 230 Philippum (Bentley) in, for -os and obeli. 235 ecquae kept (not Lindsay's ecquaen). 245 primum salutem (not Bothe's s. p.). 272 mille et ducentos (Pareus) for d. e m. 278 domi (Ritschl) kept, not -um. 286 lembus nostrae naui kept (not Pylades' n. n. l.) 293 obelized turbare kept (not Haupt's tardare). 331 sed istic Theotimus diuesne est (bothe) for obelized s. d. e. i. t. 354 no | (hinc suppl. Camerarius). 359 sciuerit? for sciverit,. 377-8 unbracketed. 382 certumst for certumst:. 394 meo quidem (Bothe) kept (not q. m.) and inpensiust now for Ussing's infensiust. 446 eit for it. 453 [Pistocleri] kept (not Ritschl's hic quidemst). 463 malum not malo. 465-6 keep their brackets. 480 manus ferat [ei] ad papillas (with Leo's suppl. not Weise's a. p. m. f.). 487 obelized ut opinor for Ernout's operam. 488 uidissem for uiderem. 499 ergo for ego. 497 ei kept (not et). 503 fecit ... meo (Pylades) kept (not f. ... suo). 518 [illud] (Camerarius) kept, [blandiri] removed. 535 [et] kept (del. Acidalius). 565 [ipse] (Ritschl) for [etiam] (or Lindsay's eam). 568 amas... PI. Bacchidem kept (not a. B?). 570 paruam kept (not Lindsay's poor paruom). 581 [his] kept (del. Scaliger). 584 [quid?] quae te mala crux for obelized qui t. m. c. (quid est? q. t. male c. (Barsby); , malum, O. Skutsch). 592 negat (Acidalius) for negato obelized. 602 tu for Bothe's tam. 628 and 628a, 634 and 634a, 651 and 651a, still dist.; 635 and 635a, and 638a still conj.; 657-8 | furetur quod queat: | uersipellem frugi conuenit esse hominem |. 636 tantam kept (Beare's tantum not mentioned). 670 Acidalius' respondetis mihi kept (not m. r. ). 673 [tu] (suppl. Bothe) now preferred. 696 prehendit for prendit. 724-5 bellum ... locum (Studemund) for bellust ... locus. 738 est [ad] (suppl. Camerarius) kept (for obelized em) but cito for Hermann's cita. 743 [et] congraecer (Ussing) kept (not Camerarius' solecistic congraecem). 765 esse kept (not mi esse (Hermann). 770 Pylades' magnae for obelized mane. 785 [nullum] faciam for f. n. (Ritschl not Brachmann). 792 trasenna kept. 803 scelus (suppl. Ritschl), not obeli. 810 Bellerophontem [iam] kept (not Bellerophantem). 820 obelized terrae odium kept (not Leo's half-hearted t. iam o.). 827 permitie kept (not pernicie). 895 dique for deique. 904 keeps nihili | homo (with a damnatory note; nos n. h. suppl. Ussing). 919 Philippeis kept (not -is). 922 temere quicquam for q. t. 931 still bracketed. 941-4 transposed with 937-40 (absent from the Ambrosian) as in Q's first but not second edition. 950 Lambinus'-and-Leo's [in] dolis ego prensus for d.e. deprensus; 953 and 953a, 954 and 954a, 955 and 955a, 979 and 979a, 980 and 980a, 981 and 981a, 982 and 982a, 983 and 983a, 984 and 984a, 995 and 995a are now dist. 962-4 retain their brackets. 969 and 969a, 970-970a, 971 and 971a, 972 and 972a are still scanned as ia quatern. + iambi continuati (where Lindsay saw trochaici). 1038 [me] still (del. Merula). 1054 exitium still (not Ritschl's -o). 1068 ueluti mihi keeps obeli (not Lindsay's u. mi; nor Leo's bellule |mi). 1071 redduco not reduco. 1082 [ludum] kept (del. Buecheler). 1089-1101a, 1159 and 1159a, 1167 and 1167a, 1168 and 1168a, 1172-74a, 1179a-1186a are now dist. 1105 hic quidemst for hic quidemst, euge for eugae, but aerumnai et mei is kept (not -ae e. m. m. or -ae e. mali). 1120 [nomine] is kept (del. Pylades). 1123 sic now sheds brackets. 1134 lac, no longer lact'. 1151 [si] (suppl. Ritschl) is kept. 1152 quam[quam] odiost (Bergk), not quam odiosum est. 1167 probri (not probi). 1181 i for ei. 1198 censes sumere (not Ritschl's s. c.). 1201 neminis (Leo) still (for obelized ne is). 1206 [ite.] still (del. Itali).

Much cry; little wool? Q hasn't so much shown up deficiencies in (e.g.) Lindsay as secured the text in its transmission, and keeps his readers alive to its transformation through critical attention. If bound together as a complete corpus, the Sarsina Plautus will be a monument: so far as Bacchides is concerned, Menander must be included; and so far as Q. is concerned, it's unfortunate that we now have his strike three prefaced by just a single-page Monitum, where the second edition accommodated a full Nota Introduttiva over eighty pages to precede its now superseded text. In particular, his multi-tiered diagnosis of Chrysalus' mighty Troys-'R'-Us lecture requires more than any app. could possibly tuck in.


1.   For succinct accounts of the contribution of Q's edition see Malcolm Willcock in The Classical Review 28 (1978) 27-9 and J. H. Waszink in Mnemosyne 20 (1967) 344-7. The chances of error in 2008 were decimated by fearsome critical reception of the first shot(s).
2.   Q finds space for some wry asides of his own: e.g. app. on 40, aliter nec bene Questa; and for one fulmination, ad 925-996a: nuperrime scioli quidam tamen exstiterunt qui canticum frustillatim decisum discerptumque modo huic modo illi modo balbutienti magistello modo denique nesciocui malo poetae Plauti simiae tribuerint quasi pueri ludibundi: secludendis uersibus ipse nimis indulseram quod piget pudetque. You know who you are!

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