Monday, November 30, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
ALSO SEEN: A. J. Podlecki, Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound. Aris and Phillips Classical Texts. Oxford: Aris & Phillips, 2005. Pp. 222. ISBN 0-85668-472-4. $28.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Pär Sandin, University of Bergen

The book opens with a comprehensive introduction including eleven subchapters: (1) a short anthropological note on mankind's taming of fire and an assertion of the ideological content of the myth of Prometheus, (2) "Prometheus in archaic Greece", (3) "Associated myths", (4) "Near Eastern parallels", (5) "Prometheus in fifth-century cult", (6) "Prometheus philanthrôpos: the fifth-century idea of progress", (7) the trilogy, (8) "The 'Problem' of Zeus", (9) "Prometheus in ancient Greek art", (10) reception history, (11) the text. The tenth section is something of an innovation in the genre, and is to be welcomed, the classical tradition being worth a study in its own right.

After the introduction there follows the Greek text with a facing line-by-line translation (in prose, at times approximating blank verse); the commentary keyed to the translation; appendices on (1) the authenticity and (2) the geography of the play; and a bibliography. The work lacks indices.

The translation is plain and may aim at vernacular ease. There are awkward features, such as the elision of auxiliary verbs ("he'll", "won't", "doesn't", "who's" = who has, v. 70), which renders a false note in what is, after all, elevated tragic diction (e.g., 786-88 "since you're so eager, I will not refuse to tell ... To you, first, Io, I'll recount..."). There are peculiarities in the translation, some of which only with considerable leniency could be described as unnecessary licenses. I pick a few from the beginning of the play: 42 θράσους πλέως "much too bold", 117-18 ἵκετο τις [...] πόνων ἐμῶν θεωρός, ἢ τί δὴ θέλων; "Has someone come [...] To view my distress, or what can it mean?", 128-31 ἅδε τάξις [...] μόγις παρειποῦσα "[...] I had trouble persuading".

The main problem of the work is that the primary purpose of its author has not been scholarly or even pedagogical, but evangelical. Podlecki's aim is to promote the Prometheus as a symbol of liberal-progressive ideology throughout the centuries, or in his own preaching manner of expression, as "the divine champion of humans against tyrannical oppression" (p. 41), "the tireless and persistent champion of the rights of human freedom against arbitrary and malevolent authority" (p. 54), a name that "continues to evoke the deeply rooted human instinct to know and to be free, to survive authoritarian threats and tortures designed to silence dissent and break the spirit" (p. 68). He tries to show not only that the depiction of Prometheus in the present drama carries an ideological significance, but that a libertarian note is strung by the character in myth from its very origins--which, incidentally, according to Podlecki are not Indo-European but Near-Eastern multicultural (p. 14).

Biased, tendentious readings and translations, petitio principii and glib preaching are the rule rather than the exception. I will mention only a few examples to illustrate the case. 10-11, ὡς ἂν διδαξθῆ τὴν διὸς τυραννίδα στέργειν. Podlecki translates "So that he may be taught to love Zeus's Tyranny". τυραννίς, basically non-evaluative ("monarchy, sovereignty" LSJ I), often takes an outright pejorative sense in classical Greek. However, the person speaking is Kratos, a servant of Zeus, who from his own perspective is certainly intending a neutral sense. The reader expects to find in the commentary a discussion of the term (as for instance in Mark Griffith's 1983 commentary ad loc.), and a defence of the choice of translation. What we get is: "an oxymoron, if not a contradiction. Tyrants want to be loved by their subjects [etc.]". Secularism is part of the ideological package: thus Io is "hallucinating" the ghost of Argos in 570n.; Zeus' μῆτις is translated as "wiliness" in 906; and θεῶν ἔρως is emended to θεῶν τις in 903-4, in order to make the gods' designs appear even more sinister.

In the first Appendix, Podlecki attempts a defence of the authenticity of the play. It consists of variations on the theme "if Aeschylus wanted to write in a different style, use different vocabulary, metre, etc., than usual, who are we to say that he couldn't?" The best part is the citation of Lloyd-Jones for the suggestion that Aeschylus might have produced the drama in a different (read: easier) style for a Sicilian audience and, especially, chorus.

The second Appendix is about the geography of the play. Prometheus' description of the (future) wanderings of Io in 707-818 has seemed utterly confused and inconsistent with the version given in the Supplices (540-61). Seeing that Podlecki is aware of Margalit Finkelberg's 1998 article on the subject (RhM 141, 119-41), one would have expected a detailed discussion of her case and, if not whole-hearted acceptance, then a proper refutation of what to me, at least, seems to be a flawless solution to the problem.

(read complete article)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Peter E. Knox (ed.), A Companion to Ovid. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Chichester/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Pp. xviii, 534. ISBN 9781405141833. $199.95.
Reviewed by Antonio Ramírez de Verger, Universidad de Huelva

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]


It is seven years since the appearance of two Companions to Ovid (Barbara Weiden Boyd, ed., Brill's Companion to Ovid, Leiden: Brill, 2002 [cf. R. Gibson, BMCR 2003.01.34] and Philip Hardie, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Ovid, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 [cf. J. Farrell, BMCR 2004.12.21]. In addition, Peter E. Knox, editor of the present Companion, was responsible for the Oxford Readings in Ovid (Oxford: Oxford University Press,2006 [cf. G. C. Lacki, BMCR 2007.09.19]). Was another Companion to Ovid really called for? It is always useful to be able to consult surveys with such distinguished contributors as those who appear in this elaborate volume. Moreover, publishing houses are anxious to boast reference volumes such as this in their catalogues, works that are targeted not only at students and scholars whose first language is English, but also at all those students and scholars who have English as a second or third language, even if their first is German, Spanish, French, or Italian. (I find it shocking, however, when globalization is a reality in all spheres, that publishers are not looking to a global audience but only the English-speaking world.)

If the Companion to Ovid is aimed at "newcomers to Ovid's works, be they students or scholars" (p. xiv), then the reader must expect direct and simple information from it on who Ovid was, what Ovid wrote, where and when he wrote it, and how he wrote it. To these five questions should be added, to paint an even clearer picture, from which sources he drank and how his work has come down to us both directly (manuscripts and editions) and indirectly (influences and translations). All of this can be found dealt with briefly in a good manual of Latin literature (cf., e.g., M. von Albrecht, A History of Roman Literature, Leiden: Brill, 1997, 1.786-823), but a Companion is obviously something more than a summary, as is demonstrated in this volume.

On the question of who Ovid was we are informed by Knox in a very short biography (pp. 3-7). Peter White's chapter in Brill's Companion, "Ovid and the Augustan Milieu" (pp. 1-24), is, in my view, the most complete account in the different Companions mentioned above. In addition, a reading of Ovid's autobiography (Trist. 4.10) ought to be an indispensable element as a primary source in any biography of the poet (cf. J. Fairweather, CQ 37 (1987) 181-196).

The question of which works were written by the poet from Sulmo is dealt with in chapters 4-15 (see Table of Contents below). Some chapters are descriptive and illuminating (Gibson on Ars amatoria, Herbert-Brown on Fasti, Kenney on Metamorphoses, Helzle on Ibis, Knox on Lost and Spurious Works); others are excessively theoretical (Booth on Amores, Boyd on Remedia Amoris, Claassen on Tristia, Galasso on Epistulae ex Ponto).

Mario Citroni (pp. 8-25) is responsible for situating Ovid in the context of Augustan Rome, which was witnessing the development of "a new canon of works" (a process that had begun with Catullus and the neoterics) that aimed "to represent the cultural patrimony of a nation," with the support of Augustus throughout. Elaine Fantham (pp. 26-44) studies, with clarity and examples, "the art of composition," that is, the art of rhetoric in Ovid's work as a whole. The first part closes with a brief survey of Ovid's use of religion (Julia Dyson Heyduk, pp. 45-58), with examples from the amatory poems, the Metamorphoses, the Fasti, and the exile poetry.

Ovid's literary sources are specified in Part III (pp. 217-307). Lightfoot helps us towards a better understanding of "the contribution of Hellenistic poetry to the tone, ethos, and sensibility of Ovid's work". Acosta-Hughes compares the Acontius and Cydippe episode of Aetia 3 with Heroides 20-21 to show us how Ovid rewrote Callimachus in his work, converting, for example, the silent Cydippe of the Alexandrian poet into a woman with her own voice, even if that "voice" was manifested in her expressive silence. Wray analyses the influence of Catullus and also of the neoterics (Cinna, Caecilius, L. Calvus) as Ovid's predecessors, especially in the composition of epyllia, which are so frequent in Fasti and Metamorphoses. Heyworth has the remit of comparing Ovid and Propertius and Maltby does likewise with Tibullus and Ovid, comparing Trist. 2.445-68 with Tib. 1.6, while Thomas recognizes the presence of Virgil in Ovid, in whose epic the poet from Sulmo "has repainted the Virgilian canvas, whose palimpsest keeps emerging with varying effects on the mind of the reader" (p. 306).

In Part IV (pp. 309-393) I find it surprising that there should be two chapters devoted to the editions and commentaries of Ovid's oeuvre (Possanza and Knox) alongside four very theoretical chapters (Casali, Keith, Farrell, and Spentzou). The pages given over to the first two areas reflect the pitiful status of Latin studies at present. More than two thousand years of editorial technique and exegesis of Ovid's works are dispatched in some 40 pages, while theoretical discussions on Ovid are given around 50 pages in this part alone, while in the rest of the volume there is theorizing to be found anywhere and everywhere (e.g., Booth, "Erotic Story and (Meta)poetic Statement," pp. 72-76; contributions by Fulkerson, pp. 78-88, Boyd, pp. 104-118, Williams, pp. 154-169, Claassen, pp. 170-174). For the theoretical approaches to the work of Ovid in Part IV I feel some respect, but I continue to share David West's much maligned attack on studies of this kind (Cast Out Theory: Horace Odes 1.4 and 4.7, Classical Association Presidential Address, London: Classical Association,1995, pp. 15-17; cf. D. Fowler, "On the Shoulders of Giants: Intertextuality and Classical Studies," MD 39 (1997)13-34). My mind is no doubt too stubborn and slow to understand the ins and outs of modern theory as applied to classical texts. It may all be true but, however much I strive to understand these theoretical analyses that are so much in vogue, I have no idea where sentences like the following lead: "This Ovidian technique-ironic prefiguring realized through intertextual anticipation, when a character who lives in a precise moment of the model-text 'unintentionally' foretells his/her own future or others' by using words destined to appear in the continuation of the model-texts-finds prominent application in the Heroides" (Casali, p. 346). I stop to reflect, and after rereading what comes before and after the cited text, I deduce that what happens in the Heroides is that Ovid has turned some epic characters into elegiac ("transcoding their story from one genre to another, elegy"). A lot of baggage for such a short journey, as the Spanish saying goes. But pay no attention to the scepticism of a reader such as I, whose only aim is to "read and hear and observe and think and feel" (West, p. 17).

The chapters on the reception of Ovid (pp. 397-468) limit themselves to literature in English - antiquity and the Middle Ages aside, of course - although Ziolkowski opens out the field much more to other literatures and fine arts (one should also read his excellent monograph Ovid and the Moderns, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005). For a fuller view of the reception of Ovid there is no alternative but to turn to other monographs, such as: R. Schevill, Ovid and the Renascence in Spain, Hildesheim, 1971 (= Berkeley, 1913); W. Stroh, Ovid im Urteil der Nachwelt. Eine Testimoniensammlung, Darmstadt, 1969; W. S. Anderson, Ovid: The Classical Heritage, New York-London, 1995.

The last chapter is devoted to translations of Ovid into English. But what about translations into other modern languages? For versions in Spanish, read "Ovidio" in Diccionario Histórico de la Traducción en España (DHTE), ed. Francisco Lafarga y Luis Pegenaute, Madrid, Gredos (forthcoming); see also M. Menéndez Pelayo, Bibliografía Hispano-Latina Clásica, Santander, 1950-53, 7.181-333.

I go on to offer a few of the marginal notes I have made in the course of my reading of this useful but uneven volume:

Pp. 47 and 58 (Dyson): Instead of reading Pieridum uates, non tua, turba sumus it is possible to keep Pieridum uates, non tua turba sumus, as do Heinsius, Goold, and the present reviewer (ed. Teubneriana, 2006, 2nd ed., p. 3). Also, at the bottom of page 58, read 'neophyte' instead of 'neophgte.'

P. 65 (Booth): I can see no evidence of "Victorian reticence" in Rivero García's interpretation as set out in his study of Am. 2.15.25-26 in Hermes 132 (2004) 201-203, esp. 203.

P. 79 (Fulkerson): On the division of Heroides "into three groups of five, with the six double letters as Book 4," read M. Pulbrook, "The original published form of Ovid's Heroides?," Hermathena 122 (1977) 29-45.

Pp. 88-89 (Fulkerson) and 211-212 (Knox): On the authorship of The Letter of Sappho to Phaon the Internet has made available ( the PhD dissertation by Thea Selliaas Thorsen, Scribentis Imagines in Ovidian Authorship and Scholarship. A Study of the Epistula Sapphus (Heroides 15), diss. Bergen, 2006. Cf. A. Ramírez de Verger, "La carta de Safo a Faón de Ovidio (Her. XV)," Emerita (forthcoming). To "Further Reading" (p. 89) should be added the commentaries by Beck (Her. 18-19, Padeborn, 1996), Michalopoulos (Ovid's Heroides 4 and 8. A Commentary with introduction, diss. Leeds, 2006), Piazzi (Her. 7, Firenze, 2007), and Pestelli (Her. 8, Firenze, 2007).

P. 99 (Gibson): On Philaenis read also M. Cruz Ingelmo-E. Montero, "Filénide en la literatura greco-latina," Euphrosyne 18(1990) 65-74.

Pp. 107-108 (Boyd): It should at least be pointed out in connection with the digression in defence of his work (ll. 361-396) that in a considerable number of manuscripts and in all of the editiones veteres down to N. Heinsius (Amstelodami, 1652, I, p. 223; 1661, I, p. 274) Remedia Amoris appeared split into two books (I 1-396 and II 397-814), with the final lines of "Book I" (361-396) constituting an apologetic programmatic ending, while the opening of "Book II" returns to Ovid's warnings regarding copulation. The question merits more detailed study. Read the Oxford (19952, p. 242) and Teubner (20062, p. 285) editions and the commentaries by Geisler (Berlin, 1969, pp. 54-55), Lucke (1982, pp. 39-40), Lazzarini (Venezia, 1986, p. 151), and Pinotti (Bologna, 1988, p. 208).

P. 128 (Herbert-Brown): The variant calida for gelida was introduced by N. Heinsius (1661, III, pp. 76 [text] and 130 [notes]) and accepted, for example, by Goold (Loeb, 19962, p. 198). Alton, Wormell, and Courtney signaled their doubts in their Teubner edition with a prudent fort. recte in the apparatus criticus (19974, p. 88).

P. 165 (Williams): It seems to be going too far to see in some of the stories of the Metamorphoses "notable examples of Ovid's broader preoccupation [...] with the persecution of artists." Arachne was punished for her pride, like Niobe, for instance, as she dared to consider herself superior to the gods themselves (the sin of hybris).

P. 193 (Helzle): To "Further Reading" add R. Guarino, Los Comentarios al Ibis de Ovidio, Peter Lang, 1999 and El Ibis de Ovidio, Murcia, 2000.

P. 211 (Knox): The statement that the Epistula Sapphus "was transmitted in a medieval tradition separate from the rest of the Heroides" should be qualified, as some lines have come down in the company of material from other poems in the collection through florilegia of the 12th-14th centuries: Atrebaticus BC 64, Escorialensis Q I 14, Parisinus BN 7647, BN 11867, BN 15155, BN 17903, whose models go back to the Carolingian period. For example, the Parisinus BN 17903, which contains excerpts from Tibullus and Ovid, transmits six lines of the ES (31-34, 195-196), curiously among the excerpta from Heroides XIV and XVI. To these should be added the Córdoba florilegium, Archivo Capitular 150, recently studied by Beatriz Fernández de la Cuesta (En la senda del Florilegium Gallicum. Edición y estudio del florilegio del manuscrito Córdoba, Archivo Capitular 150, Louvain-La-Neuve, 2008). In it are preserved lines 59, 60, 72, 83, 176 and 196 of the ES, also located after letter XIV and before letter XVI.

P. 216 (Knox): To the bibliography recommended in "Further Reading" could be added a number of important titles, such as the following: a) Editions and commentaries: C. Ganzenmüller, Die Elegie Nux und ihr Verfasser, Tübingen, 1910; S. Wartena, Nux elegia, Groningae, 1928; A. Witlox, Consolatio ad Liviam, Traiecti ad Mosam (Maastricht), 1934; G. Baligan, Appendix Ovidiana, Bari, 1955; F. Capponi, P. Ovidii Nasonis Halieuticon, Leiden, 1972, I-II; M. Pulbrook, Ovid: Nux, Maynooth, 1985; H. Schoonhoven, The Pseudo-Ovidian Ad Liviam de morte Drusi, Groningen, 1992; T. González Rolán-P. Saquero, Consolatio ad Liviam, Madrid, 1993; b) Articles: J. Richmond, "Doubtful Works Ascribed to Ovid," ANRW II 31.4, 1981, 2744-83; G. D. Marioni, "In margine ad alcune recenti pubblicazioni sulla Consolatio ad Liviam," BStudLat 31 (2001) 161-178.

P. 278 (Heyworth): For Spanish-speakers it would not have been unreasonable to cite the study by A. Álvarez, La poética de Propercio (Autobiografía artística del 'Calímaco romano'), Assisi, 1997.

Pp. 311-340 (Possanza and Knox): a list of manuscripts, editions and commentaries of the work of Ovid can be found at Read also N. E. Lemaire, "Index editionum Publii Ovidii Nasonis," in Publius Ovidius Naso, Parisiis, 1824, 8.383-479; F. Peeters, Les "Fastes" d'Ovide, Histoire du texte, Bruxelles, 1939.

Table of Contents

List of Figures (viii)
Notes on Contributors (ix-xiii)
Preface (xiv)
List of Abbreviations (xv-xvi)
Chronological Table of Important Events in Roman History and Literature during the
Life of Ovid (xvii-xviii)

Part I Contexts

1. A Poet's Life, Peter E. Knox (3-7)
2. Poetry in Augustan Rome, Mario Citroni (8-25)
3. Rhetoric and Ovid's Poetry, Elaine Fantham (26-44)
4. Ovid and Religion, Julia Dyson Heyduk (45-58)

Part II Texts

5. The Amores: Ovid making Love, Joan Booth (61-77)
6. The Heroides: Female Elegy?, Laurel Fulkerson (78-89)
7. The Ars amatoria, Roy K. Gibson (90-103)
8. Remedia Amoris, Barbara Weiden Boyd (104-119)
9. Fasti: the Poet, the Prince, and the Plebs, Geraldine Herbert-Brown (120-139)
10. The Metamorphoses: A Poet's Poem, E. J. Kenney (140-153)
11. The Metamorphoses: Politics and Narrative, Gareth D. Williams (154-169)
12. Tristia, Jo-Marie Claassen (170-183)
13. Ibis, Martin Helzle (185-193)
14. Epistulae ex Ponto, Luigi Galasso (194-206)
15. Lost and Spurious Works, Peter E. Knox (207-216)

Part III Intertexts

16. Ovid and Hellenistic Poetry, Jane L. Lightfoot (219-235)
17. Ovid and Callimachus: Rewriting the Master, Benjamin Acosta Hughes (236-251)
18. Ovid's Catullus and the Neoteric Moment in Roman Poetry, David Wray (252-264)
19. Propertius and Ovid, S. J. Heyworth (265-278)
20. Tibullus and Ovid, Robert Maltby (279-293)
21. Ovid's Reception of Virgil, Richard F. Thomas (294-307)

Part IV Critical and Scholarly Approaches

22. Editing Ovid: Immortal Works and Material Texts, Mark Possanza (311-326)
23. Commenting on Ovid, Peter E. Knox (326-340)
24. Ovidian Intertextuality, Sergio Casali (341-354)
25. Sexuality and Gender, Alison Keith (355-369)
26. Ovid's Generic Transformation, Joseph Farrell (370-380)
27. Theorizing Ovid, Efrossini Spentzou (381-393)

Part V Literary Receptions

28. Ovidian Strategies in Early Imperial literature, Charles McNelis (397-410)
29. The Medieval Ovid, John M. Fyler (411-422)
30. Ovid in Renaissance English Literature, Heather James (423-441)
31. Ovid and Shakespeare, Gordon Braden (442-454)
32. Ovid in the Twentieth Century, Theodore Ziolkowski (455-468)
33. Translating Ovid, Chistopher Martin (469-484)

Bibliography (485-515)

Index (516-534)


1.This review has been translated from the Spanish by J. J. Zoltowski. Thanks are due to the Spanish MEC (FFI2008-01843) and the Junta de Andalucía (P09-HUM-04534) for their financial support. (read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
Bruno Gentili, Liana Lomiento, Metrics and Rhythmics: History of Poetic Forms in Ancient Greece (English translation by E. Christian Kopff of 2003 edition). Studi di metrica classica 12. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore, 2008. Pp. 350. ISBN 9788862270595. €120.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Andrea Tessier, Università di Trieste

[The reviewer dedicated his Teubner edition of the Pindaric metrical scholia (1989) to Bruno Gentili, one of the authors of the book under review.]

In the middle of the last century Bruno Gentili wrote two important works on Greek metrics, Metrica greca arcaica (1950) and La Metrica dei Greci (1952). Despite the titles, neither was a "handbook" in the narrow sense of the term or a comprehensive synthesis of current research. On the contrary, the reader was faced with two works of original scholarship committed to re-thinking the gap between our sources on ancient theory and modern observatio, as practiced by scholars of Greek metrics in the first quarter of the twentieth century, in a way that would be productive for the contemporary reader of Greek lyric poetry. The same commitment inspires Metrics and Rhythmics, written in collaboration with his student, Liana Lomiento, a scholar already known for her important articles on philological and metrical issues.1 This book is a valuable source of information and, like its predecessors, combative and innovative. The successful translation by E. Christian Kopff, who has added his own clear "Foreword to the English Translation," pp. 13-17, will give to Gentili's and Lomiento's positions the visibility they deserve and will provoke what I predict will be a lively debate on the issues they discuss.

The present work is a translation of the entire Italian edition (Milano 2003, reviewed in BMCR 2004.09.09 by J. B. Lidov) and preserves its division into three sections of unequal length: (I) "A Historical Rethinking" (pp. 27-110); (II) "Sung Poetry" (pp. 113-234); (III) "Recited Poetry and Recitative" (pp. 237-267). The volume ends with a rich bibliography and three indices: "Index of Subjects" (prepared by G. Parlato, pp. 291-304); "Index of Proper Names" (by M. Colantonio and L. Bravi, pp. 305-313) and finally "Index of Cited Passages" (also by M. Colantonio and L. Bravi, pp. 315-350).

The first section is divided into four parts, beginning with a brief but rich chapter in which Gentili and Lomiento delineate their theoretical position ("Metrics, Rhythmics and Music," pp. 27-42), a succinct aperçu on "Prosody" (pp. 43-49), a very useful dictionary of "Metrical and Rhythmical Terminology and Diacritical Signs" (pp. 51-77) and an examination of "Structures of Versification" (79-88). This last section is based in large part on the terminology of Hephaestion and should be used with the dictionary that precedes it. The brief but important chapter that follows ("Modes of Performance," pp. 89-110) not only gives an informative synthesis of the practice of performance and the instruments of antiquity, but along with the first chapter contributes to delineating Gentili's and Lomiento's vision of the relationship of meter, rhythm and performance. This vision, in my opinion, represents one of the book's most interesting aspects. Gentili and Lomiento base their argumentation on an assumption that they are well aware is debatable (the recent and lively discussion by Prauscello 2006 should be read with L. Lomiento's review, BMCR 2007.04.07 and Prauscello's response, BMCR 2007.05.14). For Gentili and Lomiento the Hellenistic "poetry book," and especially the division "in cola" of the lyric sections (which is structured by brief sequences, essentially in dimeters with occasional trimeters and tetrameters), preserves significant information about the traces of the original performances available to the Alexandrian philologists and is the basis of the slightly later metrical and rhythmic theory that has survived (Gentili and Lomiento p. 31). Therefore the division into cola of the melic sections of drama and choral lyric, the "colometry" (which continued to be found in the printed tradition up to the beginning of the nineteenth century) is not the work of inept "Grammatiker",2 but preserves otherwise lost information about their rhythmic and musical articulations. Their positions are not "mainstream" in classical metrical theory of the last two centuries, a theory that in my opinion has taken Böckh's discovery too far by dissolving the Böckhian "verse" into the only "real" melic sequence, the "period". The distinctive traits of the period are supposed to be "inherited from the IE verse", and its boundaries may not necessarily be established even by change of persona canens. (West 1982, 4 explained: "the compositional segments can no longer be called verses or lines, because they extend over many lines of the written text; the term period is used". On p. 8 he continues, "the period is treated as a continuous piece of language, even if the end of a sentence or a change of speaker occurs within it").3

Of course, Gentili and Lomiento discuss the problem of the relation between the manuscript "colometry" and the Böckhian "stichometry," that is, Böckh's re-arrangement of the lyrics into independent verses that are sometimes much longer than the limit of the trimeter. They cite opportunely the recent frontal attack of Willett 2002 on Böckh's re-arrangements (really, however, on post-Böckhian scholarly excesses based on his definition of the period). Willett argues that sequences exceeding the sixteen syllables that constitute the extreme limit in the Indo-European tradition cannot be retained by "working memory". Gentili and Lomiento, however, attempt to accommodate "colometry" and "stichometry" on p. 36: "We can, therefore, affirm that the Boeckhian period is a firm point even in the light of the correct ancient colometry" (see also "Colon, Comma, Verse," pp. 59-60). We wonder if in the last analysis such an effort is really economical, whether it would not have been more logical at this point to take sides toto corde with the value of the colometric diastolai, or at least to denounce the metrisches Gespenst created by the nineteenth century "period", all the more so because Böckh himself seems to have noticed ante litteram that there was a "working memory" limit to excessively extended melic series (Tessier 2008).

In my opinion, however, it would be unfairly reductionist to describe their position, which is only apparently "reactionary", as a simple denial of modern classical metrics, soi disant Böckhian, or as a conflict between colon and stichos as the real forms of ancient melic articulation, because we are dealing up to this point with two theoretical assumptions that are in the last instance largely a matter of opinion. The second assumption, beginning with Böckh and continuing with the Fraenkel of Lyrische Daktylen (1918) and Maas (1923, final German version, 1929, English, 1962), cut off every tie with the tradition that accompanied these texts through Classical Antiquity and the Byzantine Middle Ages. As a result it can perhaps be judged, rebus peractis, as the (largely dated) effort to fit a discipline like Greek metrics, which seems proof against the attempt, into the naively revolutionary scientific and artistic Zeitgeist that animated the great hopes of the period that followed World War I. In the absence of probative elements, however, we can at least ask that an analysis of the rare and often ambiguous ancient sources on the subject respect an elementary scholarly logic.4

Beyond these apparently abstract conflicts, the contemporary reader of Greek texts composed for singing has another more pressing question: is the "descriptive" or deductive metrics, that is, the theory that claims to be based on simple observatio, really more respectful of these texts, as it should be on the basis of its premises? In more general terms, how justifiable is modern confidence in the science of metrics, actually privileging its own often self-imposed rules over other branches of philology, in establishing melic texts? It is here that Gentili's and Lomiento's approach reveals (at least to this reviewer) its most fruitful consequences, in the sense that the very tight analytic linking between metrical analysis and the superior rhythmic frame (superior because closer to what we know of the lost performance) allows the production of poetic texts without doing violence to the Greek language. I am alluding here, primarily, to the all too influential idolon responsionis, which reduces strophic melic texts to a precise "metrical" responsion at the cost of sometimes Procrustean interventions. For example, see the analysis of Bacchylides Ep. 5.160 (ep. 10) τάδ' ἔφα θνατοῖσι μὴ φῦναι φέριστον, interpreted by Gentili and Lomiento (204) as ionmi 2 epitrtr in free "anaclastic" responsion with 3epitrtr (=stesich). Again, Snell's first Teubner Bacchylides (1961) prints (instead of a demonstrative that "metro non convenit") an enigmatic τᾶδ' that has the advantage of giving the expected long syllable but raises difficult questions about Bacchylides' poetic language. Wilamowitz suggested τᾷδ' and Lomiento 1990, 125 interprets it that way even while showing that it is not right, but if that is what the Teubner intended, it would follow its custom of printing the iota paragegrammenon. Of course, τᾶδε may well be the conventional way of marking a protraction of the short syllable to two beats (see Gentili's and Lomiento's important lemma "Monochronon", pp. 68-69), but this interpretation seems extraneous to Snell's intentions and later Maehler's. For example, τᾶδε re-appears in Snell (and Maehler) at 5.191 ep. 1 again to "heal" a problem of strict responsion. The reading of most editors, τᾶδε φώνησεν , would produce, ionma ia reiza ~ ionma chor (prosa) reiza (cf. Gentili and Lomiento 191 n.2). Not even assuming an isolated "anomaly" of responsion supports the validity of the linguistically strange τᾶδε, but an interpretation with "anaclastic" responsion based on rhythmical syngeneia seems to possess strong parallels. Look at Pindar, Pythian 12.8, where the free responsion found in the manuscripts between 3epitrtr (stesich) and cho 2epitrtr can be "healed" only at the cost of writing in v. 24 a linguistically incongruous ευκλεᾶ (Gentili and Lomiento 208 and n. 1, Tessier 1990, 187 ff.). In support of these interpretations one might add precise statements of ancient theory found in the form of excerpta in the scholia; see Schol. metr. Nem. VII ep 5 25, 19-20 Tessier, Schol. Ar. Ach. 1150b 143, 3-4 Wilson. Are we supposed to think that all this evidence are only traces of a system excogitated by ancient scholars at their writing desk to justify liberties of responsion that had insinuated themselves into the tradition and accidentally made rhythmical sense?

It is time to examine in more detail the second section, "Sung Poetry" (pp. 113-234). I give a synthesis of some peculiarities in their analyses, which are already well known to readers of B. Gentili's fifty years of scholarship.

(1) "Dactyls" (113 ff.). Gentili and Lomiento do well to eschew the well known and popular tabu of Fraenkel 1918 (supported by Maas 1923) against the existence of independent acatalectic dactylic verses. So the Alcmanian (Gentili and Lomiento 117) and Ibycean (Gentili and Lomiento 121) can be found "with final adiaphoros". Similarly Gentili and Lomiento not only split up into smaller segments the long holodactylic series ("cognitively" unacceptable according to Willett) that a certain style of editing has introduced into the parodos of Aeschylus' Agamemnon against the transmitted colometry, but they re-introduce metrical "variety" against other editors' "dactylic uniformity" (Gentili and Lomiento 120).

(2) "Choriambs" (155 ff.) and "Glyconic meters" (161 ff.). These two sections need to be treated together with the discussion of "Polyschematist Structures" (187 ff.). Gentili and Lomiento are not satisfied with the tacit reduction of choriambic and glyconic sequences favored by modern scholars under the influence of Hermann's hyper-rationalism. On the contrary they vindicate the complete legitimacy of kata metron scansion even of glyconics, which they relate (in the wake of Körte 1922) to the antispast (162: "by no means [...] a theoretical invention of the Alexandrian grammarians"). Gentili and Lomiento view the antispast and the choriamb as "metra of the same composition [...] which belong to the same metrical family" (162). The same is true of polyschematist structures when they are forced into a kata metron structure. The metrical liberties of polyschematists (even when in responsion with apparently "genuine" ones) are justified "by the phenomenon of the epiploke which is the source of a wide variety of forms interconnected by a relationship of 'family likeness'" (Gentili and Lomiento 192). In addition, in connection with the so-called "Sapphic hendecasyllable" ("the so-called epichoriambic form of the trimeter") Gentili and Lomiento 157 rescue from the discussions in ancient theoretical treatises the notion of mixis kat' antipatheian, which Hermann arbitrarily eliminated in his Elementa. Far from representing an ancient affectation, it needs to be understood in relation to the important lemma "Asynartetic" (Gentili and Lomiento 55 f.) that summarizes Gentili's well known theory of asynarteta (see, of course, Gentili 1983). In this theory mixis constitutes, so to speak, the rhythmical "microcosm" between metra which inconexio represents between cola. It is worth adding that the recent research on the ancient sources by Savignago 2008 has successfully explored the apparent incoherencies of the remnants of ancient metrical theory.

(3) "Ionic Meters" (173 ff.). Gentili and Lomiento recognize the ionic a maiore as present in classical poetry, a significant change from Gentili 1950, 130, who was inclined to view this meter as a Hellenistic innovation and analyzed putative appearances in older poetry as an "anaclastic form of the first or second four syllables of the dodecasemic dimeter."

(4) "Κατ' ἐνόπλιον Meters" (197 ff.). These sequences are analyzed as a third great rhythmic family in agreement with Damon's doctrine and constitute for Gentili and Lomiento the key for understanding the so-called "dactylo-epitrites," discussed in a long sub-section (202 ff.). Of course Gentili and Lomiento protest against the well known abusio of the term "epitrite" by Paul Maas, who analyzed the meter as a unity of five first times. Gentili and Lomiento denounce the danger implicit in a dactylic interpretation that inclines editors dogmatically "to eliminate as much as possible the free responsion present in the Bacchylides papyrus and in the manuscript tradition of Pindar's odes" (204). Naturally Gentili's and Lomiento's interpretation involves freeing us from the imaginary anceps interpositum. Resolutions of the longum of the so-called "epitrite" are listed on p. 210. Dramatic texts too should be investigated from this perspective, e.g., Sophocles, Antigone 584=595, normalized by, of course, Hermann.

(5) "Dochmiacs" (227 ff.). This chapter presents in more detail than earlier formulations how much Gentili's metrical exegesis differs from the mainstream understanding of dochmiacs, which has been inspired by the research of A. Seidler (1811-12) and limits the definition of this sequence to the "Attic" dochmiac and indeed attributes its invention to the Attic tragedians (with Snell's well known "ethical and musical" motivations). On the contrary Gentili and Lomiento cite a long series of lyric "precursors" of the "Attic" dochmiac and list 38 attested forms beginning with the "three basic dochmiac schemata" (229 f.). West, on the other hand, accepts 21 forms (out of 32 theoretical ones) that developed from the "Attic" schema. Gentili and Lomiento include in their list forms "with resolution of the so-called 'irrational long'", forms linked to the hypodochmiac, and those connected to the Kaibelianum or "dochmiac prosodiac". There is no reason to be surprised that in this case as well the libido coniectandi that followed Seidler's dissertation has gone to work to reduce to its own abstract working hypothesis every "deviant" form. A significant victim of this metrics and its attendant editing has been the rejection of "spurious" responsion between "Attic" dochmiacs and "long" dochmiacs, sometimes with significant consequences for the text of the tragedians itself (Andreatta 1999).

I add some final observations. P. 140: the schema of the "resolved forms" of the ithyphallic (given as + + + ++_ - - ) lacks the short in the antepenultimate position. P. 147: Gentili and Lomiento mention Ar. Ach. 490-495 (= 566-571), where the "mesodic structure" composed of two trim ia inserted into the dochmiac system constitutes a "particularly ambiguous case" in respect to the dochmiacs that surround it. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the antistrophe, as found in the manuscripts, presents a difficult (and variously emended) responsion trim ia ~ 2 doch (492~568) and trim ia ~ doch dim ia (493~569). P. 225: ("Palimbacchaei") Gentili and Lomiento cite as an instance of melic palimbacchiacs Aeschylus Ag. 1072 ὤπολλον ὤπολλον. This interpretation is perfectly plausible, of course, but one cannot exclude a priori that we are dealing with two lugubrious molossi with brevis in longo. P. 230: Soph. TrGF 27-29 (Inachus) should be moved from the examples of dochmiac n. 23 (+ + - - + + +) to nn. 24c + + - + + - (v. 27 μανία τάδε κλύειν) and 22c + + - - + - (vv. 28 and 29: σὺ γὰρ οὖν Ζεῦ λόγων and κακὸς εἶ πίστεως).

In conclusion Gentili's and Lomiento's Metrics and Rhythmics, which is published in English in a particularly attractive typographic and editorial format, is precious for the very rich mass of literary texts and ancient theoretical testimonia presented and interpreted in a thoughtful fashion. As I said earlier, it would be extremely superficial to describe this book by reducing it to a conflict between "historicists" and "descriptivists" in Greek metrics. In fact a reader who observes how Gentili and Lomiento base their theoretical formulations on texts can see that the advantages for the reader compensate amply for the occasional dissent.


Andreatta, L. 1999. "Normalizzazione del docmio lungo 'strofico' nel testo sofocleo," in G. Avezzù (cur.), Διδασκαλίαι Tradizione e interpretazione del dramma attico, Padova (Studi Testi Documenti del Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Antichità dell'Università di Padova 9): 113-162

Andreatta, L. 2008. "[Haud] integros accedere fontis." Testimonianze sparse sui carmi kata; scevsin," Paideia 63: 29-57

Böckh, A. 1820-22. Über die kritische Behandlung der Pindarischen Gedichte, [gelesen in der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin am 3. Februar 1820, 13. Juli 1821 und 7. März 1822], 261-400 (= Gesammelte kleine Schriften, V, hrsg. v. P. Eichholtz, E. Bratuscheck, Leipzig 1871, 248-396

Gentili, B. 1950. Metrica greca arcaica, Messina-Firenze

Gentili, B. 1952. La Metrica dei Greci, Messina-Firenze

Gentili, B. 1983. "L'asinarteto nella teoria metrico-ritmica degli antichi," in Festschrift für Robert Muth, hrsg. P. Händel - W. Meid, Innsbruck: 135-143

Fraenkel, E. 1918. "Lyrische Daktylen," Rheinisches Museum 72, 1918: 161-197, 321-352 (=Kleine Beiträge zur klassischen Philologie, I, Roma 1964: 165-233)

Körte, A. 1922. Review of Wilamowitz 1921, Neue Jahrbücher für die klassische Altertum 25, 1922: 313-330

Lomiento, L. 1990. "Bacchilide: una nuova traduzione e ancora un contributo agli studi sull'epinicio," Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 35 n. 2, s. c. 64: 121-132

Maas, P. 1923. Griechische Metrik, in A. Gercke - E. Norden, (Hrsg.), Einleitung in die Altertumswissenschaft, 1. Bd / 7. Heft, Leipzig-Berlin

Maas, P. 1929. Griechische Metrik, unveränderter durch Nachträge vermehrter Neudruck, in A. Gercke - E. Norden, (Hrsg.), Einleitung in die Altertumswissenschaft, 1. Bd / 7. Heft, Leipzig-Berlin

Maas, P. 1962. Greek Metre, translated by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Oxford

Prauscello, L. 2006. Singing Alexandria. Music between Practice and Textual Transmission, Leiden-Boston 2006 - Mnemosyne Suppl. 274

Rossi, L. E. 1966. "La metrica come disciplina filologica," Rivista di Filologia e Istruzione Classica 94: 185-207

Rossi, L. E. 1975. "Verskunst," in Der kleine Pauly. Lexikon der Antike, München: Bd. V, 1210-1218

Savignago, L. 2008. " 'Epichoriambikón': diacronia di usi e fraintendimenti," Paideia 63: 307-331.

Tessier, A. 1999. "La normalizzazione metrica di Pindaro negli strumenti lessicografici (postille a Pitica 12)," Lexis 17, 183-189

Tessier, A. 2008. "'Sticometria' e misura del verso melico greco: Böckh," Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 88 n. 3, s. c. 117: 121-124

West, M.L. 1982. Greek Metre, Oxford

von Wilamowitz -Moellendorff, U. 1900. Textgeschichte der griechischen Lyriker, Berlin

von Wilamowitz -Moellendorff, U. 1921. Griechische Verskunst, Berlin

Willett, S.J. 2002. "Working Memory and its Constraints on Colometry," Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 71 n. 2, s. c. 100: 7-19


1.   See the Bibliography, pp. 279-280.
2.   Thus Wilamowitz (1900, 7) in a typically apodictic fashion that has proven undeservedly popular. In reality, he takes the term "Grammatiker" (but not the subject) from Böckh, 1820-22, 301, for whom "keine Abtheilung, wie sie überliefert worden, ein geschichtliches Ansehen hat, weil keine ins höhere Alterthum reicht" ["No colometry as transmitted deserves historical attention since none goes back to distant antiquity"]. Wilamowitz, however, should have explained why, if Böckh was right, such diastolai usually conflict with the syntactic articulations and are found sometimes in verbal synaphaea, as Dionysius of Halicarnassus CV 26, 15 clearly pointed out about Simonides' "Danae's Lament," a passage often cited but rarely taken seriously. (Unfortunately Dionysius is often underestimated as a witness to ancient rhythm and music by scholars who seem to think that he started à rebours from imperial metrical theory). So Prauscello 2007, 23 writes: "Dionysius does not specify anywhere in the text the astrophic or antistrophic nature of the lyric song he is quoting". Less biased readings, like Andreatta 2008 on strophic responsion, reveal how basically unacceptable that vision is.
3.   It is worthwhile comparing West's definition of the "period" with that of Rossi 1966, 190 n.1 (in my opinion, the latter shows more respect for the poetic reality of the archaic and classical ages, and I would even say of every poetic text structured in verses ): "Boeckh...parlava chiaramente di versi, e non di periodi, come sembra credere B. Snell....La confusione deriva dal considerare periodo quello che è costituito da semplici cola: ma normalmente i cola, quando sono veramente tali, costituiscono il verso: e il periodo è l'unità immediatamente superiore al verso....Del resto, l'equivoco verso-periodo è anche sensibile, sul piano pratico, nelle edizioni di Bacchilide e di Pindaro" ["Boeckh [...] was clearly talking about verses, not periods, as B. Snell seems to believe. [...] The confusion derives from thinking of a period as composed of simple cola: normally cola, when they really are cola, constitute the verse: and the period is the unity immediately above the verse. [...] Anyhow, the confusion of verse and period can be felt, on the practical level, in editions of Bacchylides and Pindar"]. See in addition the very clear demarcation between verse and period in Rossi 1975, 1211: "Kolon (Bestandteil einer höheren Einheit)...Vers (kleinste selbständige Einheit)...Periode (vom Rhythm. bedingte Vers- oder Systemgruppe kleiner als die Strophe)...die Periode war durch Musik und Tanz anschaulich gemacht" ["Kolon (part of a higher unity) [...] Verse (smallest independent unity) [...] Period (a group of verses or systems conditioned by rhythm smaller than the strophe) [...] The period was made clear by music and dance"].
4.   A fruitful example of insisting on the necessity of this logical exercise seems to this reviewer E. Christian Kopff's review of Prauscello in Classical World 102 (2008) 82-83.

(read complete article)

Monday, November 23, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Erik Gunderson, Nox philologiae: Aulus Gellius and the Fantasy of the Roman Library. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009. Pp. ix, 313. ISBN 9780299229702. $55.00.
Reviewed by Christine Heusch, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Nachdem in den letzten zwanzig Jahren den lange vernachlässigten 'Noctes Atticae' des Aulus Gellius in der Forschung eine verstärkte Aufmerksamkeit zuteil geworden ist und Gellius seit dem Erscheinen der ersten Auflage von Holford-Strevens' Monographie (1988)1 geradezu eine Renaissance erlebt,2 ist nun ein Buch erschienen, das die 'Noctes Atticae' nicht wie die bisherigen Arbeiten philologisch, literatur- oder kulturhistorisch untersucht, sondern vielmehr auf Grundlage der neueren postmodernen Literaturtheorien fortschreibt.

Erik Gunderson, der sich in einer 'Praefatio Editoris' als Herausgeber einer lange unzugänglichen und kürzlich in einem Antiquariat entdeckten anonymen Originalschrift fingiert, gibt damit auch schon selbst sein Werk als ein fiktionales literarisches Produkt und nicht als wissenschaftliche Arbeit auS. Signalisiert wird diese Fiktionalität (des vorgefundenen neu edierten Textes) bereits paratextuell durch die im Untertitel gegebene Ankündigung der 'fantasy of the Roman library' und ihre Illustration durch Arcimboldo's 'Bibliothekar' (1566) auf dem Umschlagbild. Schon in der Anlage des Buches treten literarische Phantasie und Kreativität sichtbar zutage: Der kurzen Vorrede des Herausgebers (an dessen Stelle zur Ergänzung der wissenschaftlichen Biographie im Bucheinband noch einmal Arcimboldo's Bibliothekar abgebildet ist3), folgt das vorgebliche, in verschiedenen Schrifttypen gestaltete und mit mehreren Zitaten unterschiedlicher Provenienz und Sprache ausgestattete, Faksimile des Titelblatts der 'Nox Philologiae', eines laut französisch-englischem Untertitel aus der Feder eines anonymen Verfassers stammenden so genannten 'Roman historique du futur antérieur by Anonymous'.4 Von anderssprachigen Einschüben, die lateinische, griechische (z.B. 'Original'-Titelblatt, S. 5. 36. 232 f. 299 f. 306), französische (z.B. S. 102 Anm. 10. 269. 277), deutsche (z.B. 'Original'-Titelblatt, S. 115. 135. 271. 277. 300. 306) und sogar chinesische (S. 304) Phrasen und Zitate umfassen, ist auch der gesamte anschliessende englische Text durchzogen, dessen einzelne Bände, Bücher, Kapitel und Abschnitte (fast) alle lateinische Überschriften tragen. Denn das Buch ist nach dem nicht nur im Titel nachwirkenden Vorbild der behandelten bzw. fortgeschriebenen 'Noctes Atticae' des Aulus Gellius vielfach untergliedert: In zwei 'Tomi' (auch die 20 Bücher des Gellius sind während ihrer Überlieferungsgeschichte zeitweise in zwei Teilen tradiert worden) von fünf bzw. drei 'Libri' ('Tomus I': S. 53-201; 'Tomus II': S. 223-306) werden die acht Bücher zusammengefasst, die ihrerseits jeweils eine Reihe von 'Capita' bzw. 'Capitula' enthalten. Ihre lateinischen Überschriften, oftmals bestehend aus (wortgenauen oder abgewandelten) nicht ausgewiesenen Zitaten aus den 'Noctes Atticae', aber auch aus neuen (eigenen) Formulierungen gebildet, geben nach dem gellianischen Muster mehr oder minder aufschlussreiche Hinweise auf den Inhalt (vgl. S. 195). Eine Übersicht über diese Kapitelüberschriften (ohne Seitenangaben, deren Fehlen die Orientierungsfunktion des Überblicks nicht unerheblich beeinträchtigt), als 'Book Zero' tituliert, ist--wiederum so, wie sich bei Aulus Gellius an dessen 'Praefatio' ein Inhaltsverzeichnis anschliesst--an die drei einleitenden Vorreden angefügt. In diesen 'Praefationes' werden die Grundlagen der folgenden Darstellung reflektiert, indem zunächst in der ersten 'Praefatio' die Situation des Autors als die eines Gellius-Lesers und Gellius-Fortsetzers bzw. -Neuschreibers erklärt wird. Ausgehend davon, dass die 'Noctes Atticae' nicht nur ein Buch über Bücher, sondern auch ein Buch über den Umgang mit der durch Bücher erworbenen Bildung sind (S. 12. 36. 38. 248 f.), wird in der 'Praefatio Altera' einerseits als Ziel der eigenen Beschäftigung des Autors mit Gellius bestimmt, statt einer historischen Untersuchung des antiquarianism aus den 'Noctes Atticae' eine Erzählung über die Praxis des antiquarianism zu entwickeln, indem diese Geschichte mit ihrem Stoff auf dieselbe Weise verfährt wie das gellianische Werk (S. 11 f. 14; vgl. auch S. 22). Andererseits wird die Situation des Lesers der 'Nox Philologiae' erklärt, der zur weiteren Fortsetzung des von Gellius in Gang gesetzten unendlichen Prozesses der Lektüre und Neuschreibung der 'Noctes Atticae' aufgerufen ist (S. 14), wobei der literaturwissenschaftliche Hintergrund -- Rezeptionsästhetik und postmoderne Literaturtheorien des Dekonstruktivismus -- bereits angedeutet wird. Auch wird hier (zum ersten Mal) die Problematik einer geschlossenen Abhandung über die 'Noctes Atticae' angesichts ihrer Inhomogenität (disparilitas) erörtert (vgl. S. 24-27. 135. 164). In der Analyse der 'Praefatio' des Gellius ('Praefatio Tertia') schliesslich wird die Trennung zwischen Leben und Werk des Gellius für obsolet erklärt (S. 43), da die Person des Gellius, bei der drei fliessend ineinander übergehende (S. 150. 194. 225) und auf irritierende Weise changierende Instanzen (S. 253) zu unterscheiden seien--den Autor, den Erzähler und die im Text erscheinende Figur (S. 9; vgl. S. 194)--, wesentlich aus den gelesenen und diskutierten Büchern bestehe (S. 20. 127. 150. 165; versinnbildlicht in Arcimboldo's 'Bibliothekar'. Dieser dem Gelliusleser plausible Gedanke, der das von der Forschung viel traktierte Dilemma aufhebt, zwischen Fiktion und (autobiographischen) Fakten in den 'Noctes Atticae' zu differenzieren,5 wird im folgenden immer wieder aufgegriffen (S. 20; vgl. S. 26. 46. 123. 194. 225. 229. 248).

Der erste Band nimmt Quintilians für die römische Rhetorik "kanonische" Aussage über die konstitutiven Faktoren der Rede (inst. 1,6,1-3) zum Ausgangspunkt (S. 55-58), um auctoritas ('Liber Primus': S. 55-98), ratio ('Liber Secundus': S. 99-131) und usus ('Liber Tertius': S. 132-165) jeweils zum Thema eines Buches zu machen. Die in den 'Noctes Atticae' wirkende Dominanz der Autorität gegenüber den anderen beiden mit ihr in Wechselwirkung stehenden, zuweilen durch die auctoritas auch konterkarierten Prinzipien, wird zutreffend herausgestellt (auch schon S. 22) und an einzelnen Beispielen erläutert.6 Ein diskursiver 'Index Nominum uel Dramatis Personae', der den 'Liber Quartus' bildet (S. 166-201), ist einzelnen für Gellius besonders wichtigen Autoren und Personen der Vergangenheit (Varro, Nigidius, Caesar, Apion, Plinius, Ciceros Sekretär Tiro) und der Gegenwart (Fronto, Tauros, [Sulpicius] Apollinaris, Favorinos) gewidmet. Dagegen gibt der anschliessende ein eigenes Buch ('Liber Quintus') füllende fünfteilige 'Index Rerum Potiorum' in alphabetischer Form umfassend Auskunft über die behandelten Themen (S. 202-208), Namen (S. 208-212) und Stellen (S. 212-217), über die erwähnten lateinischen Begriffe (S. 217-220) und griechischen Termini (S. 220-221). Die ungewöhnliche Plazierung des Index zwischen 'Tomus I' und 'Tomus II', die einen früher hier vorgesehenen Werkschluss und eine zunächst nicht geplante spätere Fortsetzung suggeriert, führt dazu, dass der Index sowohl zurückverweist auf den vorausgegangenen Teil als auch vorausweist auf den folgenden. Dadurch wie durch seinen ihm zugewiesenen Buchstatus findet der verdienstvolle detaillierte Index einerseits mehr Beachtung, andererseits ist er schwerer aufzusuchen und zu benutzen.

Der zweite Band konzentriert sich im 'Liber Sextus' (S. 225-251) und 'Liber Septimus' (S. 252-286) auf die Modi der Rezeption und des Austauschs in der unendlichen Überlieferungskette, in der Gellius durch die von ihm tradierten Zitate, Übersetzungen und Kommentare eine wichtige Stelle einnimmt. Schon die Buchtitel des sechsten und siebten Buches verweisen mit ihren ambivalenten Genitivattributen 'Libri Librorum' bzw. 'Auctoris Auctores' (vgl. S. 250 f. bzw. S. 252) auf die Rückbezüglichkeit und Wechselbeziehung des antiquarianism, die den Autor Gellius verschwinden lässt (S. 13. 195. 236; vgl. S. 284: Tod des Autors) und den Text der 'Noctes Atticae' zum Labyrinth (S. 13. 46. 195 Anm. 47. 237. 278. 284) bzw. Archiv (S. 284 f. 292 f. 296 f.) macht. So wie Gellius zwischen Ennius einerseits (S. 253-255) und Macrobius andererseits (S. 255-269) steht, so hat der zum Gellius alter erklärte (S. 276 f.) L. Holford-Strevens (S. 270-277) die 'Noctes Atticae' weiter fortgeschrieben. Auch die anderen Gelliusforscher der letzten Jahrzehnte (bes. G. Anderson, D.W.T. Vessey, M. Henry; vgl. S. 277-283) werden zu auctores Noctium Atticarum erhoben, so dass schliesslich auch der Autor der 'Nox philologiae' für sich die Autorschaft der 'Noctes Atticae' reklamiert (S. 283-286). Jedoch distanziert er sich zugleich von diesem Anspruch, indem er allgemein bemerkt: "... it is unlikely that an author today would pen a Noctes in anything other than an ironic gesture. That is, the Noctes is today possible only as a pointed impossibility"(S. 197).

Der wie das achte nur fragmentarisch überlieferte Buch der gellianischen 'Noctes Atticae' bloss aus Kapitelüberschriften bestehende 'Liber Octavus' bietet unter dem Titel 'Lectionum Lectores: Capitula et Reliquiae' (S. 287) vier von Gellius übernommene Titel, nämlich die von NA 8,17 (mit einer fortführenden Variation des Themas in englischer Sprache), NA 8,8, NA 8,12 und NA 8,14, ohne sie aber als Zitate auszuweisen. Dieser Umgang mit wortgenauen Zitaten und freieren Textparaphrasen, der die Gepflogenheiten exakter wissenschaftlicher Zitation bewusst ausser Acht lässt und mit den Assoziationen des nicht nur im Gelliustext versierten, sondern allgemein gebildeten Lesers spielt, ist ein konstitutives Element der gesamten 'Nox Philologiae'. Offenbar stellt sich der Verfasser (Gunderson) mit dieser Praxis bewusst in die Tradition des Gellius: Denn Gellius hat zwar für antike Verhältnisse, in denen man aufgrund des anderen Originalitäts- und Rezeptionsverständnisses sich viel grössere Freiheiten gegenüber den Vorlagen herausnimmt, schon erstaunlich genau Zitate markiert und lokalisiert, aber modernen Ansprüchen in dieser Hinsicht noch längst nicht genügt.8 Manchmal genau verwiesen, häufig nur angespielt wird auf die 'Noctes Atticae', z.B. S. 109 (S. 48): die Kapitelüberschrift variiert und kombiniert NA 5,10,11/16; S. 161 (S. 49): die Kapitelüberschrift zitiert wortgenau NA 18,2,14, worauf auch S. 138 f. 196. 234. 298 rekurriert wird; S. 225 (S. 50): die Kapitelüberschrift variiert NA 19,7,2 im Sinne einer Fortsetzung der 'Noctes Atticae' durch die 'Nox Philologiae'; S. 237 Anm. 25: übersetzt paraphrasierend NA 16,2,9-10 (ohne Stellenangabe); S. 237 (S. 50): die Kapitelüberschrift variiert NA 1,2,4; S. 242 (S. 50): die Kapitelüberschrift nimmt Bezug auf NA 14,6[,3]; S. 243 (S. 50): die Kapitelüberschrift zitiert NA 2,21,7; S. 252 (S. 50): die Kapitelüberschrift ist abgewandelt aus NA 14,5; etc. In gleicher Weise erscheinen in Anspielungen und (nicht oder nur undeutlich angezeigten und unverorteten) Zitaten auch andere antike Texte9 ebenso wie neuzeitliche Werke der europäischen (Welt-)Literatur von Shakespeare über Flaubert und Jarry bis Borges, von Hegel bis Nietzsche.10 Desweiteren werden ein Chanson (S. 277), Bunuel-Filme (z.B. S. 165: 'El ángel exterminador'; S. 193 'Cet obscure objet du desir') und Gemälde (z.B. S. 197-201: Velázquez' 'Las Meninas' in Anlehnung an Foucault; S. 225: Magritte's 'La trahison des images' und 'La condition humaine') ebenso wie das Kommunistische Manifest (S. 277), aber auch Zeichen bzw. Abkürzungen der Computersprache (S. 25 f.: QWERTY / AZERT; S. 119.124: GNU; S. 255: ASAP) zitiert bzw. alludiert. Dieses Gewebe von angezeigten und nicht signalisierten Verweisen in der 'Nox Philologiae' schafft einen Text, der die Struktur und den Zitatcharakter postmoderner literarischer Werke imitiert.

Der dekonstruktivistische Hintergrund, schon durchscheinend in den vorausgegangenen Teilen des Buches, wird von Gunderson voll beleuchtet in der 'Appendix' (S. 288-298). Die hier gehäuft erscheinenden und die zuvor erwähnten Namen Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Butler stehen für das alle Facetten, von der psychoanalytischen Literaturwissenschaft bis zu den Gender-Studies, umfassende, sich in der 'Nox Philologiae' widerspiegelnde Spektrum der Literaturtheorie.11 Angesichts der in Gunderson's Buch zentralen Erörterung der in den 'Noctes Atticae' zu differenzierenden drei Gellii (S. 194), die auf Grundlage des Eingangskapitels von Foucaults 'Les mots et les choses' (1966) [dt. 'Die Ordnung der Dinge', 1971] über Velázquez' 'Las Meninas'-Gemälde durchgeführt wird (S. 197-201), bleibt zu fragen, ob der Bezug auf Foucault tatsächlich zur Erhellung (oder eher zur Verunklärung) der unnötig verkomplizierten Konstellation von Autor, Erzähler und Textfigur in den 'Noctes Atticae' (s.o.) beiträgt.

An die 'Appendix' angehängt finden sich, wieder mehrsprachige, 'Fragmenta adespota' (S. 299-304) und 'Spuria' (S. 305-306), die offenbar Einblick in den Produktionsprozess der 'Nox' gewähren und ihre wiederholt zur Sprache gebrachte unendliche Fortsetzbarkeit und offene Form (z.B. S. 13. 43 f. 248; vgl. S. 9. 290 über die 'Noctes Atticae') signalisieren sollen.

Am Ende des Buches steht eine Bibliographie (S. 307-313), die mit ihrem englischen Titel die abschliessende Redaktionstätigkeit des Herausgebers Gunderson anzeigt. Unter dem Namenseintrag Anonymous ist als Selbstreferenz bereits der Titel der 'Nox Philologiae' aufgenommen. Bezeichnend dafür, dass Hauptbezugspunkt und Schwerpunkt der 'Nox Philologiae' in der modernen Literaturwissenschaft liegen, ist schon die Zahl der Titel die von Bourdieu (3), Derrida (4), Foucault (9) angegeben sind, während z.B. der neue Sammelband von Holford-Strevens/ Vardi sowie die einschlägigen Arbeiten von Astarita und Beall (vgl. Anm. 2) über Gellius fehlen. Nicht benutzt worden zu sein scheint auch die neue von Amato herausgegebene Edition der Werke des Favorinos, von der bisher der erste Band (u.a. mit einer ausführlichen, sehr wertvollen Einleitung zu Werk und Person des Favorinos, die alle gellianischen Zeugnisse berücksichtigt) erschienen ist.12

Nicht von ungefähr ist hier der Beschreibung der Aufmachung und Anlage des Buches so viel Aufmerksamkeit gewidmet worden. Denn darin liegt hauptsächlich seine Originalität, die sich freilich auch schon wieder relativiert, wenn man die reichliche Beimengung inzwischen fast stereotyper Zutaten eines postmodernen literarischen Werks bemerkt.13 Inhaltlich bringt Gunderson wenig neue Erkenntnisse über Gellius, er gibt sich, wie er ganz offen--wohl um der erwarteten Kritik vorweg den Wind aus den Segeln zu nehmen--eingesteht, mit der Wiederholung bekannter Gedanken zufrieden (S. 59-62. 168; vgl. auch S. 261). Trotzdem beansprucht er für seine Darstellung, Gellius in ganz neuem Licht zu zeigen, indem er sich von allen zeitgenössischen Versuchen absetzt, Gellius (kultur)historisch einzuordnen (S. 164 f. 168. 283 f. 290), wie er überhaupt dezidiert jede historische Kontextualisierung des antiquarianism ablehnt (S. 15. 164 f. 271. 293. 296). Anscheinend ist ihm mehr daran gelegen, die Anwendbarkeit postmoderner Literaturtheorien auf antike Texte an dem Beispiel der 'Noctes Atticae' zu beweisen, als den Text des Aulus Gellius neu zu erforschen.14 In diesem Sinne ist sein Bekenntnis zu verstehen, Gellius als einen geeigneten Repräsentanten für seine antiquarianism-Erzählung gewählt zu haben (S. 10 f.). Der durchaus erklärungsbedürftige substantivische Begriff antiquarianism-- er ist ohne exaktes deutsches Pendant, lässt sich aber mit 'antiquarischen Interessen' bzw. 'Studien' umschreiben-- wird an keiner Stelle genauer definiert, aber offenbar in einem umfassenden Sinne verstanden, wie die Beschreibung seiner drei zeitlichen Dimensionen erkennen lässt: er sei nicht nur vergangenheitsbezogen, sondern auch gegenwartsrelevant und zukunftsweisend (S. 161). Das Interesse an den literarischen Unternehmungen der antiken Antiquare, mit dem Gunderson bei seinen Lesern rechnet, beruht darauf, dass die Antiquare seiner Ansicht nach frappierende Ähnlichkeit mit den postmodernen Zeitgenossen haben (S. 6; vgl. auch S. 297; trotz seiner Feststellung des Unterschieds zwischen "revolutionary postmodernism" und "antiquarian game" S. 153). Doch sollte der an Gellius und seinem Text aktuell interessierte Zeitgenosse sich weiterhin zuerst das Verständnis der 'Noctes Atticae' durch Holford-Strevens' erhellende Monographie erschliessen lassen. Falls ihn dabei die Affinität zwischen antikem Text und postmoderner Literatur15 motiviert, nach Erklärungen dafür zu suchen, und falls er die literarische Umsetzung postmoderner Literaturtheorie in einem wissenschaftlichen Sachtext goutiert, wird ihn die Lektüre von Gundersons Buch nicht enttäuschen. Dabei darf er sich allerdings nicht daran stören, dass das Buch trotz des insgesamt verständlichen und anschaulichen Stils zum Teil nicht einfach zu lesen und der bisweilen vage assoziierende Gedankengang nicht leicht nachzuvollziehen ist (z.B. S. 228. 286. 295). Fast zur Marotte steigert sich z.B. die im gesamten Buch anzutreffende Verbindung von Begriffsdoppelungen mit Inversionen (z.B. S. 42: "the mystery of philology and philology as mystery ... the mystery of literature and literature as mystery"), die sprachlich wohl die Reziprozität des antiquarianism abbilden sollen (vgl. S. 125. 251), deren Sinn aber nicht immer klar wird und die sich oft der Tautologie nähern.16


Einen falschen Kasus enthält die lateinische in Frageform gekleidete Kapitelüberschrift 'Liber Secundus: III' (S. 48 bzw. S. 105: An rationem ei constare potest statt An ratio ...); ferner sollte es hier possit statt potest heissen. Auch in den als indirekte Fragesätze aufzufassenden Überschriften von 'Liber Primus: I' ... quomodo Gellius eisdem uerbis usus est (S. 48 bzw. S. 55) und 'Liber Quartus: VII' Qua ratione Tiro Tullius in libros Noctium Atticarum deductus est (S. 49 bzw. S. 186) stehen fälschlich die Indikative an Stelle der entsprechenden Konjunktivformen. Zu der Verwechslung von interstitio (in NA praef. 1) mit iustitium (S. 19) hat offenbar die Erklärung des Begriffs iustitium in NA 20,1,43 (als iuris ... quasi interstitionem) geführt. Ein Widerspruch besteht zwischen der nicht zutreffenden Behauptung, Horaz sei in den 'Noctes Atticae' ebensowenig wie Ovid erwähnt (S. 67), und der richtigen Feststellung, dass er nur einmal, in NA 2,22,25, namentlich genannt werde (S. 167). Darüber hinaus wird jedoch auf Horaz auch ohne Nennung des Namens angespielt in NA 2,22,2 (legebatur ... in carmine Latino 'iapyx' uentus vgl. Hor. carm. 1,3,4) und in NA praef. 20 ( profanum uolgus vgl. Hor. carm. 3,1,1).

Unter den seltenen Druckfehlern (z.B. S. 13 Anm. 14 cumeo statt cum eo; S. 16 thana statt than a) sind nur wenige irritierende: die Verschreibung der Namen Euathlus zu Eualthus (S. 174), Axius zu Apion (S. 191); [Jens Peter] Jensen zu Jenson (S. 310) sowie die Verschreibung der Zahlen in der Seitenzahl des Literaturhinweises auf Henry 1994: 1394 statt 1934 (S. 228 Anm. 9) und in der Stellenangabe 18,3,8 statt 18,13,8 (S. 237 Anm. 26).


1.   L. Holford-Strevens, Aulus Gellius, London: Duckworth, 1988. In zweiter, leicht revidierter und ergänzter Fassung ist das Buch inzwischen noch einmal aufgelegt worden: L. Holford-Strevens , Aulus Gellius. An Antonine Scholar and his Achievement, Oxford: University Press 2003.
2.   Davon zeugen zahlreiche Publikationen, sowohl Monographien als auch Aufsätze sowie ein Sammelband, der letzten Zeit: z.B. M. L. Astarita, La cultura nelle 'Noctes Atticae', Catania 1993 [= Saggi e testi Classici, Cristiani e Medievali, 6]; St. M. Beall, Civilis eruditio: Style and content in the 'Attic Nights' of Aulus Gellius, Ph.D. Berkeley (University of California) 1988; ders., "Translation in Aulus Gellius:" CQ 47 [1997] 215-226; ders., "Homo fandi dulcissimus: the role of Favorinus in the 'Attic Nights' of Aulus Gellius:" AJPh 122 (1) [2001] 87-106; V. Binder, "Vir elegantissimi eloquii et multae undecumque scientiae - Das Selbstverständnis des Aulus Gellius zwischen Fachwissen und Allgemeinbildung;" in: M. Horster / Ch. Reitz (Hrsg.), Antike Fachschriftsteller: Literarischer Diskurs und sozialer Kontext, Wiesbaden 2003, 105-120; L. Holford-Strevens / A. Vardi (Ed.s), The Worlds of Aulus Gellius, Oxford: University Press 2004; M.-L. Lakmann, Der Platoniker Tauros in der Darstellung des Aulus Gellius, Leiden / New York / Köln 1995 [= Philosophia antiqua, 63]. - Auch im Erscheinen von Editionen (neben bzw. nach der Oxford-Ausgabe von P.-K. Marshall 1968) spiegelt sich das wiedererwachte Interesse an Gellius wider: z.B. Aulu-Gelle, Les nuits attiques, texte établi et traduit par R. Marache, I-IV, Paris 1967 -1998; Aulo Gellio, Notti Attiche. Libri I-XIII, introduzione, testo latino, traduzione e note di F. Cavazza, vol.1-7, Bologna 1985-1999.
3.   Diese ironische Tarnung mit der Maske des 'Bibliothekars' setzt sinnfällig ins Bild, dass im folgenden einerseits vom Verschwinden des Autors (S. 13. 195. 236. 284), andererseits von der Spiegelung der eigenen Person des Autors in Person und Text des (Antiquars bzw. Archivars) Gellius die Rede ist (S. 9; vgl. S. 193. 200. 297).
4.   Der Autor (Gunderson), der sein Werk auch als "a commentary on the commentaries on Gellius" (S. 9; vgl. S. 27. 241. 243: genauso die 'Noctes Atticae' als 'a commentary on commentaries') charakterisiert, bezeichnet nicht nur sein eigenes Unternehmen als 'Roman', sondern wendet analog den englischen Begriff 'novel' auf die 'Noctes Atticae' des Gellius an (vgl. S. 11. 194), jedoch ohne dessen Problematik zu reflektieren. S. 252 Anm. 4 findet sich der Hinweis auf M.M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, Austin 1981, 52-53, der Gellius in die Vorgeschichte des Romans einbezieht. - In dieselbe Richtung zielen die Beschreibungen, die 'Noctes Atticae' enthielten "a tale of the tale of antiquarianism" (S. 11) bzw. "the story of the story"(S. 249). - Die Bedeutung und Funktion des französischen futur antérieur, das dem Futur II des Lateinischen entspricht und zugleich ein Vergangenheitstempus und ein Futur ist, trifft nach Ansicht des Autors (Gunderson) genau das Wesen der Philologie, die in der Gegenwart Autoritäten der Vergangenheit zugleich als zukünftige autorisiert (S. 245).
5.   Vgl. L. Holford-Strevens, "Fact and Fiction in Aulus Gellius:" LCM 7 [1982] 65-68; ders., Aulus Gellius [2003] (s. Anm. 1), 65-72, bes. 71-72; ders., "Aulus Gellius: The Non-Visual Portraitist;" in: Mark J. Edwards / Simon Swain [Eds.], Portraits: Biographical Representation in the Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire, Oxford 1997, 93-116, hier 109-112; dazu auch G. Anderson, "Aulus Gellius as a Storyteller;" in: L. Holford-Strevens / A. Vardi [2004] (s. Anm. 2), 105-117, hier 116.
6.   "Auctoritas is the highest principle in Gellius' eye", hat schon L. Holford-Strevens [2003] (s. Anm. 1), 178 konstatiert.
7.   Hier und im folgenden werden die 'Noctes Atticae' bei Stellenangaben abgekürzt zitiert als NA.
8.   Nach Ansicht von K. Sallmann, "Aulus Gellius;" in: Handbuch der lateinischen Literatur der Antike, Bd.4, München 1997, 72 wird "Gellius [...] die Kultur des exakten Zitats verdankt." Vgl. auch J. Andrieu, "Procédés de citation et de raccord:" REL 26 [1948] 268-293, hier 274.
9.   Z.B. 'Original'-Titelblatt / S. 299 f.: Epiktet 5,1; S. 237: von Cic. Ac. 2,49 überlieferter Sorites, der von Gellius in NA 18,1,9-14 in einen anderen Zusammenhang übertragen worden ist; S. 140 (S. 49): Kapitelüberschrift mit Zitat aus Cic. De orat. 2,60.
10.   Der Leser beteiligt sich dadurch ganz der Intention Gundersons entsprechend an dem Bildungsspiel (S. 136 f. 165. 249. 265), indem er die vom Autor nicht zugewiesenen Zitate, sondern nur alludierten Texte entweder spontan oder durch Nutzung der einschlägigen Hilfsmittel identifiziert: z.B. S. 176: Shakespeare, 'Hamlet'; S. 193 f.: Melville, 'Moby Dick'; S. 102 Anm. 10 / S. 284: Jarry, 'Gestes et opinions du Docteur Faustroll pataphysicien'; S. 160 Anm. 67: Flauberts enzyklopädischer komischer Roman 'Bouvard et Pécuchet'; S. 195: Caroll, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'; S. 269: Zusammenstellung verschiedener (durch Schriftwechsel signalisierter) Einträge aus Flauberts 'Dictionnaire des idées reçues'; S. 264. 291 f.: Auszug aus dem bzw. Anspielung auf den Essay von Borges, "Pierre Menard. Author of the Quixote" (unter Hinweis auf das Literaturverzeichnis); 'Original'-Titelblatt: Zitat aus Hegels Vorrede zu 'Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts'; S. 17 Anm. 21. 126 Anm. 53: Nietzsches Umkehrung der aus Sen. Epist. 108,23 aufgegriffenen Sentenz über den Wandel der Philosophie zur Philologie; S. 165: Nietzsche, 'Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen. Zweites Stück: Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben'.
11.   Schon mit dem Untertitel der Praefatio ἀλλοποίησις(S. 5) nimmt Gunderson einen von den Biologen und Begründern des radikalen Konstruktivismus H.R. Maturana und F.J. Varela eingeführten Begriff der Systemtheorie auf, in der mit Allopoiesis im Gegensatz zur Autopoiesis, dem Prozess der Selbstherstellung, die Herstellung von etwas anderem als sich selbst, bezeichnet wird.- Es verwundert, dass Hans Blumenberg nicht namentlich erwähnt wird, obwohl er doch, nach Borges' 'Die Bibliothek von Babel' [1941] und Foucault massgeblich die in Gundersons Buch virulente Vorstellung der "imaginären Bibliothek" (Untertitel: 'Aulus Gellius and the Fantasy of the Roman Library'; S. 235 f. 249; vgl. auch S. 291 f.) propagiert hat: Vgl. H. Blumenberg, Die Genesis der kopernikanischen Welt. Die kopernikanische Optik, Frankfurt a.M. 1975,615 Anm. 5; ders., "Eine imaginäre Universalbibliothek"; in: Akzente. Zeitschrift für Literatur 28/1 [1981] 27-40; ders., Die Lesbarkeit der Welt, Frankfurt a.M. 1981, 305 ff. (mit Bezug auf M. Foucault, Nachwort zu Flaubert, Die Versuchung des heiligen Antonius, Frankfurt 1966, 217-251).
12.   Favorinos d'Arles: Oeuvres, Tom.1: Introduction générale, Témoignages, Discours aux Corinthiens, Sur la Fortune. Texte établi et commenté par E. Amato, traduit par Y. Julien, Paris 2005.
13.   Frappierende Ähnlichkeit hat Gundersons Buch mit der amüsanten Persiflage eines solchen postmodernen Produkts, das Andrea Köhler, "Kilroy was here;" in: Postmoderne. Eine Bilanz. Sonderheft Merkur, 52 Heft 9/10 [1998] 840-851, hier 840 f. karikiert, indem sie dessen typische "Ingredienzien" und möglichst inhomogene Mixtur beschreibt.
14.   Vgl. Th. Schmitz, Moderne Literaturtheorie und antike Texte. Eine Einführung, Darmstadt 2002, 152: "Angesichts der grundlegenden Zweifel an der Interpretation, die die Dekonstruktion vorträgt, lässt sich leicht verstehen, dass es keine einfache 'Anwendung' dieser Methode auf antike Texte gibt. ... In allen diesen Fällen geht es jedoch mehr darum, Beispiele für das Spiel der Sprache zu gewinnen als darum, etwas über den vorliegenden Text herauszufinden."
15.   Schon Holford-Strevens hat eine Verwandtschaft zwischen postmoderner und antiker Literatur des 2. Jh.s festgestellt: Anders als Gunderson (S. 277) bezieht sich Holford-Strevens [2003] (s. Anm. 1), 363 aber nicht auf die Antiquare, sondern auf die sogenannten Archaisten.
16.   Weitere Beispiele: S. 64: "the scholarship of authority and the authority of scholarship"; S. 113: "the logic of narration and the narration of logic"; S. 294: "the discursivity of the world as well as the worldliness of discursivity"; solche Wendungen auch S. 12. 18. 62. 74. 109. 131. 133. 201. 269 und noch öfter; ähnliche Wortdoppelungen S. 144. 165. 179. 241. 265. - Gundersons Erläuterung zu einem zuvor gebrauchten Wortspiel lässt sich verallgemeinern und erklärt seine Vorliebe für derartige Formulierungen: "My ambiguous and duplicitious wordplay with these two senses of play only reflects the difficult and dramatic game that is afoot in the Noctes" (S. 157).

(read complete article)

Friday, November 20, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Paul Murgatroyd (ed.), Apuleius: Metamorphoses: An Intermediate Latin Reader. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. x, 151. ISBN 9780521690553. $29.99 (pb).
Reviewed by Vincent Hunink, Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands)

For students of Latin, the transition from course books to genuine Roman texts often proves to be difficult and a little disappointing. After all, there are not many Latin texts from antiquity that are easy enough for them to read. Very often, they end up with Nepos or Caesar's Gallic wars, interesting prose texts, but not likely to inspire beginning readers, whether at school or university level.

To serve the needs of such readers, Paul Murgatroyd has now composed a useful and interesting 'intermediate reader' with fragments from a rather more fascinating text, Apuleius' Metamorphoses. In part, the Latin of the fragments has been carefuully simplified to suit the purpose of the volume. As it progresses, the level of adaptation becomes lower, and some fragments of books 8 and 9 are even completely authentic.

A particularly strong point of the book is its continuous attention to the overall composition of the novel and Apuleius' literary qualities, notably his narratological techniques. Thus students can not merely improve their Latin in a pleasant way, but also appreciate the Metamorphoses as a work of literature.

After a brief introduction (10 pages, including a three-page glossary of grammatical and stylistic terms), Murgatroyd presents a selection of relatively short pieces of texts in Latin, taken from the whole of the novel, with the exception of the 'Cupid and Psyche' tale, which has been omitted here. Each fragment is introduced and annotated (for difficult words or grammar and uncommon turns of phrase). The volume is concluded with a 37 page helpful vocabulary (Latin-English). Thirteen illustrations in black and white further enliven the volume, which has been given a pleasant lay-out and a convenient size (17.5 x 24.5 cm.). This intermediate reader will surely be a great new tool for teachers of Latin, particularly those who wish to do more than merely hone their reading skills.

I remain somewhat hesitant, however, with regard to the extensive 'appreciations' that regularly follow a group of fragments. Certainly, they present excellent, useful information for readers of the whole novel, highlighting e.g. nice features of Apuleius' manipulation of the story and its protagonists, the games he plays with genre, and his puns and literary motifs. Even references to scholarly discussion are not missing. But one wonders whether all this is really relevant to students who have to work through the Latin fragments in this volume. Will they really get the feeling of understanding the whole novel? Will they even care for literary features of great portions of narrative that they do not actually see? Unless they have a full English translation at their disposal (that is: in addition to this volume), this seems difficult to imagine.

There is a second point on which many classicists are likely to feel uneasy. I mean the editorial changes made in the Latin: most of the selected fragments have been simplified to a certain extent. Even apart from theoretical or didactical considerations (are we entitled to do this with authentic texts? is it helpful to teach students something that is partly artificial?), the question may arise whether this procedure preserves enough of Apuleius' wonderful, bizarre Latin.

Such doubts and questions seem legitimate, but it has to be said that Murgatroyd, within the limits of this book, has done an excellent job. His method of simplification is basically one of excerpting. That is, he does not replace difficult or abnormal words and turns with regular ones, which would indeed merely normalize and smoothen any possible anomalies and difficulties. As Murgatroyd himself puts it: 'Difficult language and constructions are omitted rather than emended. Initially, for the sake of brevity and clarity (to reach as wide an audience as possible), cuts are made not only within passages but also within sentences to things like abstruse references, unnecessary details and exuberance and fullness of expression' (p.ix)

Although this may sound rather ominous to lovers of Apuleius' exuberant style, the resulting texts in this book really seem still 'Apuleian' enough. To show this, I will fully quote a section from the beginning of the book, where adaptation is still relatively strong: the famous passage of Lucius' exciting love night with Photis in 2.16-17. All words are Apuleius' and capitals (except for names) indicate words and phrases retained by Murgatroyd (pp. 27-8).COMMODUM CUBUERAM, ET ECCE PHOTIS MEA, iam domina cubitum reddita, LAETA PROXIMAT rosa serta et ROSA soluta IN SINU TUBERANTE. AC ME PRESSIM DEOSCULATO ET COROLLIS REVINCTO ac flore persperso ARRIPIT POCULUM AC desuper AQUA CALIDA INIECTA PORRIGIT bibam, idque modico prius quam totum exsorberem clementer invadit ac relictum paullulatim labellis minuens meque respiciens sorbillat dulciter. SEQUENS ET TERTIUM INTER NOS vicissim et frequens ALTERNAT POCULUM, CUM EGO IAM VINO MADENS nec animo tantum verum etiam corpore ipso ad libidinem inquies alioquin et petulans et iam saucius, paulisper inguinum fine lacinia remota inpatientiam veneris Photidi meae monstrans: "MISERERE" INQUAM "ET SUBVENI MATURIUS. NAM, ut vides, proelio quod nobis sine fetiali officio indixeras iam proximante vehementer intentus, UBI PRIMAM SAGITTAM SAEVI CUPIDINIS IN IMA PRAECORDIA MEA DELAPSAM EXCEPI, ARCUM MEUM ET IPSE VIGORATE TETENDI ET OPPIDO FORMIDO NE NERVUS RIGORIS NIMIETATE RUMPATUR. sed ut mihi morem plenius gesseris, in effusum laxa crinem et capillo fluente undanter ede complexus amabiles." nec mora, cum omnibus illis cibariis vasculis raptim remotis LACINIIS CUNCTIS SUIS RENUDATA crinibusque dissolutis ad hilarem lasciviam IN SPECIEM VENERIS quae marinos fluctus subit PULCHRE REFORMATA, PAULISPER etiam glabellum FEMINAL ROSEA PALMULA potius OBUMBRANS de industria quam tegens verecundia: "PROELIARE" INQUIT "ET FORTITER PROELIARE, NEC ENIM TIBI CEDAM NEC TERGA VERTAM; COMMINUS IN ASPECTUM, SI VIR ES, DERIGE ET GRASSARE NAVITER ET OCCIDE MORITURUS. hodierna pugna non habet missionem." haec simul dicens INSCENSO GRABATTULO SUPER ME SENSIM RESIDENS AC CREBRA SUBSILIENS lubricisque gestibus mobilem spinam quatiens pendulae Veneris fructu ME SATIAVIT, usque dum lassis animis et marcidis artibus defetigati simul ambo corruimus inter mutuos amplexus animas anhelantes. HIS et huius modi COLLUCTATIONIBUS AD CONFINIA LUCIS usque PERVIGILES EGIMUS POCULIS INTERDUM LASSITUDINEM REFOVENTES ET LIBIDINEM INCITANTES et voluptatem integrantes. ad cuius noctis exemplar similes adstruximus alias plusculas.

Apart from one or two minor little changes (such as 'vincto' for Apuleian 'revincto', or 'lacinnis suis cunctis' for Apuleian 'laciniis suis cunctis'), the phrases retained by Murgatroyd are all genuine text by Apuleius. A number of difficult words and turns have been omitted, but the style has not become dull or impersonal as a result.

On the other hand, much has inevitably gone lost too. In this passage, one may regret that the important repeated motif of Photis' attractive, long hair has been cut. Likewise some of Apuleius' typical erotic phrases involving drinking and making love might perhaps have been kept with some additional notes on difficult words. But if excerpting is the method that is adopted, some elements obviously have to go out. On the whole, I think Murgatroyd's choices are well-considered and justifiable, given his purpose. Even in simplified form this does distinctly taste like Apuleius.

It is to be hoped that this attractive little volume will help many students find their way into Latin and Latin literature. And more specifically, that a number of them will feel stimulated to read Apuleius' brilliant novel as a whole at some later stage on their career, in a good translation or, preferably, in Latin.

(read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
Alexis Pinchard, Les langues de sagesse dans la Grèce et l'Inde anciennes. Hautes Études du monde gréco-romain 43. Genève: Droz, 2009. Pp. x, 637. ISBN 9782600013475. $140.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Alberto Bernabé,

[Table of Contents is listed at the end of the review.]

In this volume A. Pinchard proposes an approach to the study of history of wisdom and ideas, applying the comparative methodology of Indo-European structuralism. Pinchard's central thesis is that common elements in the linguistic and mythological heritage of Ancient India and Greece, as well as some common techniques in poetic composition, reflect the similar formation and regularity of a related wisdom. According to him, this wisdom, acting as universal grammar of traditions, determines a series of possible combinations and assures through ages and cultures the eternity of an intellectual project. Vedic literature and Plato serve as the most representative models for this comparative study which aims to unveil the essence which encouraged the "excellence intellectuelle" attested in these related languages and ultimately turns out to be "la quête épistémique de l'essence des choses (οὐσία)".

nous faisons l'hypothèse que la parenté linguistique entre l'Inde et la Grèce, à la suite de la mythologie et des techniques de composition poétique, s'accompagne d'une parenté sapientiale susceptible de la même formalisation et de la même régularité entr'expressive. La langue ne saurait se réduire à un simple véhicule, incapable d'orienter les pensées qu'elle porte. Elle détermine au moins une série de possibilités qui, quoique donnant lieu à diverses combinaisons, assure la pérennité d'un projet intellectuel à travers la multitude des âges et des cultures.

In Indo-European linguistics scholars have defined a coherent methodology based on the regularity of phonetic changes in specific areas; unfortunately, for a study of configuration of ideas this becomes much more complex. It is therefore absolutely crucial to define a valid methodology; that is why the discussion of methodological aspects occupies an important part of this book.

Parallels between two cultures might be explained by common origin (sharing the same cultural ancestors or being both influenced by a third party), as a universal parallel which does not necessarily presuppose a cultural contact, or by mutual influence. The author starts from the assumption that the similarities between India and Greece, especially between "the Veda" and Plato or the Greek mysteries, emerged from the same origin. The possibility of later contact between the two cultures and a possible mutual influence between them is neglected. This is really a parti pris that can cloud some results of the research. On the other hand, structural comparison frequently neglects important historical aspects and combines in the same reality features that go from different times and never were in the same pattern.1

This approach undoubtedly reveals very interesting parallels between both cultures; however, it is important not to forget that in spite of their original similarity or equivalence many pieces might have changed their context and function so much that one should ask if they have more things in common or, on the contrary, if there are further relevant aspects, which differentiate them. For example: it is interesting to notice that Agni and Dionysus share some characteristics, epithets, and that they might have similar mythical ancestors, but that does not mean that their roles are comparable, even in their assumed "fonction initiatique". Agni represents more than any other god the essence of the cosmic order and becomes the central pillar of sacrifice, which is extremely regulated in Vedic literature; Dionysus, on the contrary, plays exactly the opposite role: he is the disorder which reaffirms order. On the other hand, we know, especially since Heesterman's anthropological studies (not mentioned in this context) that the destructive aspect is essential to Vedic sacrifice as well. Dionysus might share more characteristics with other gods.

Because Pinchard tries to cover so many aspects of the question, it is not surprising that many nuances are neglected. There is no doubt that Pinchard has put a lot effort in determining points of contact between the world of mysteries and Indian thought, and has reached many interesting conclusions, but he has much less interest in pointing out the differences between his primary texts in cultural context, function, and meaning, and the result of this is sometimes a simplification of complex realities. For example, in chapter II Pinchard tries to reconstruct an Indo-European model for the Orphic-Eleusinian theology, but our evidence for an "Eleusinian theology" is scarce, and it is risky to assert that there was a continuum between it and the Orphic doctrines. Besides, in this chapter Pinchard's bibliographical information is very limited: the edition of the Gold Tablets he uses is the French one by Pugliese Carratelli,2 but there are many recent approaches not taken in consideration.3 For the Hymns he quotes (p. 475 n. 65) Quandt's edition, but there is a more recent and well commented edition by G. Ricciardelli and an excellent study by A.-F. Morand4; there are also many works which compare Plato and Orphic texts.5 We find also some inaccuracies.6

Therefore, I might conclude that Pinchard undertakes the admirable task to reach the essential roots of wisdom, offers us a series of very interesting parallels, and allows us to have a deeper insight into the complex world of configuration of concepts and ideas which time ago "have started already in secret"; as long as one keeps in mind that ideas are sometimes closer related to their times than to their genesis. Pinchard introduces a lot of new proposals in a scarcely cultivated field. Without doubt the contributions by Pinchard will serve as a starting point for future research.

Table of Contents:

Première partie : Une méthode nouvelle pour un problème ancien
Chapitre premier : la sagesse, une question à reprendre
La décision aristotélicienne : la sagesse comme science
1) Définition et pérennité de la sagesse
2) Un parti pris épistémique contestable
Résistence de la figure socratique
1) La sagesse comme docte ignorance
2) Réfutation, herméneutique, énigme
3) Sagesse herméneutique et sagesse épistémique irréconciliables ?
La tradition de l'énigme sapientiale en amont de Socrate
1) Les sophistes et la force du verbe
2) Les Sept Sages, ou la "bonne" pratique de l'énigme
3) L'énigme sapientiale ou le reniement du monde
Antinomie de la sagesse grecque
1) Sagesse archaïque et omniscience divinatoire
2) L'unité de la sagesse, perdue mais nécessaire au nom du Bien
3) Le monde est structuré comme un langage : une solution à portée de main ?
Insuffisance de la solution platonicienne exotérique
1) La scission entre λόγος
2) Incompatibilité du λόγος mathématique et des pratiques divinatoires traditionelles
3) De l'énigme comme sagesse à la sagesse comme énigme
Chapitre II : légitimité d'une aproche comparative
La primauté de la question du langage
1) La grammaire comparée, un modèle épistémologique généralisable ?
2) Trifonctionnalité dumézilienne et niveaux de discours
3) Parole de première fonction et langue poétique indo-européenne
Poétique indo-européenne et sagesse
1) Deux exemples d'énigmes apparentées
2) La convergence des énigmes vers le Soi
3) La sagesse entre atman et brahman
4) Opposition héritée entre les noms de la langue des hommes et celle des dieux
A. Valeur cathartique de l'interprétation étymologisante
1) Du marquage sémantique à la grammaticalité
2) Un savoir sur les noms ou un savoir sur les choses ?
3) Le problème des doubles motivations
B. La vérité des dieux fondée dans les noms de leur langue
1) Une structure cosmico-épistémique : dieux véridiques et mortels ambigus
2) De la parole vraie à al langue vraie
3) Platon : la vérité des noms de la langue des dieux comme adéquation du sens à l'essence
4) Le "nom chéri" des dieux, un secret connu d'eux seuls
C. Quel occulte pour la bouche vérace des dieux?
1) Risque de conflit entre l'exigence de secret et l'exigence de vérité
2) L'occulte comme ineffabilité
3) L'occulte comme agrammaticalité
4) L'essence platonicienne, point de rencontre entre vérité et occulte ?
A. Hiérarchie parallèle des noms et des "corps" divins
1) Des poètes incapables de s'extraire hors du sensible ?
2) "Noms chéries" et "corps chéries"
3) Hypostases de Soma
4) "Sur le dos du ciel"
B. Le Veda comme "Vivant intelligible intégral"
1) Éternité, essentialité : le statut ontologique du Veda, héritier des noms de la langue des dieux
2) Paradigmaticité efficace du Veda à l'égard de toute parole humaine
3) Paradigmaticité efficace du Veda à l'égard du monde
4) Universalité et sphota
A. Le relatif contre l'essentiel
1) Un conflit interne à la motivation étymologique
2) Faiblesse de la motivation étymologique en général face à l'essence
B. La promotion sapientiale de la dialectique
1) Le nécessaire ajournement de la langue des dieux comme langue aux noms vrais
2) L'énigme comme seule parole divine en l'homme, et ses limites
3) L'idée, solution à l'énigme du sensible ?
C. La langue des dieux comme formalisation rationelle des mythes
1) La motivation relativiste des plus anciens noms de la langue des dieux
2) Hermétisme et principe de raison
3) Les illusions de la sagesse comme science des choses fondée sur celle des noms
A. La mémoire des traditions au service de la réminiscence métaphysique
1) Une commune méfiance à l'égard de l'écriture
2) Ce que les dieux appellent "se remémorer", les hommes le nomment "apprendre"
3) Redoublement de l'occultation et évidence originelle
B. Une autre ontologie : la vérité par la tradition et dans la tradition
1) L'efficace de la parole vraie, ou l'insuffisance de l'interprétation épistémique de la vérité
2) Vérité et Ordre
3) Coexistence des dieux trompeurs des mythes et des dieux véraces de sagesse
C. La dialectique du bráhman, ou l'invention du monisme
1) De la formule magique à l'absolu substantiel
2) Om et le dépassement du formulaire de double nomination
3) Relativisation des noms divins et humains face au brahman
D. Généalogie nominaliste du concept d'essence (οὐσία)
1) L'idée, synthèse de la formule magique singulière et de l'absolu substantiel
2) L'accident antérieur à l'essence
3) Réintegration du sophiste dans la sagesse la plus authentique
4) Les Mystères comme véhicule de l'ontologie essentialiste ?
A. Les références mystériques au coeur de la philosophie
1) Platon et les sophistes : une querelle d'héritage
2) La découverte du λόγος cosmique en soi-même comme rituel d'initiation
3) La délivrance à l'égard du temps comme rituel d'initiation
B. Les Mystères, aliénés ou dévoilés par Platon?
1) Le perfectionnement par la connaissance contre le perfectionnement par le rite
2) Double ritualité et mémoire dans les Mystères
3) Double ritualité et réminiscence platonicienne
C. Platon : le recours aux Mystères comme impératif systémique
1) Allusions à une tradition de l'hypothèse des Formes
2) Seul le Bien dispense de la tradition
3) Insuffisance structurelle des soi-disant "preuves" de l'existance de Formes séparées
D. Apories rémanentes du mystérisme platonicien
1) Sempiternité ou éternité ?
2) Appel au comparatisme
A. Dionysos, Agni et leurs familles respectives
1) Filiation
2) Pouvoir de réengendrement et immortalisation
3) Lieux et valeurs sapientiales des naissances multiples
4) Les mères mystiques : Perséphone et Usas (Aurore)
B. Insuffisance de l'interprétation naturaliste des Mystères
1) La cosmologie, système symbolique au même titre que les mythologies familiales
2) Affinité équivoque de l'Aurore et du domaine nocturno-infernal
3) Connaissance et nuit chez les pythagoriciens et Platon
C. Ontologie essentialiste, cosmologie et rituel
1) OusiáHestiáomphalos chez Philolaos et Platon
2) Agní, atmán, nábhi
3) (οὐσία) hypercosmique, Hestia centrale et double localisation d'Agni
A. Des arts de la mémoire à la détemporalisation de l'existence
1) La perfection octroyée par les Mystères, intérieure ou extérieure ?
2) L'énigme, la morte et immortalité
3) Le Veda, un commencement tardif
B. Rencontres entre immortalité mystérique et immortalité poétique
1) Les deux noms de Sémélé
2) Énigme et voyages outre-tombe
3) La "gloire impérissable " et l'initiation érotique
C. La quête de l'inspiration, récit fondateur
1) Voyants primordiaux, Pères, Héros
2) Le rite, substitut non élitiste de l'intuition poétique
3) La katabase de Parménide
4) La philosophie, ou l'impossible retour à l'intuition poétique
I. Sources antiques
II. Littérature secondaire


1.   For example, a text of Plato's Cratyle (403e-404b) about the etymology of Persephone cannot be used (p. 491) as evidence for reconstructing common Greek ideas about the goddess; Pinchard himself (n. 111) admits that the passage is parodic.
2.   G. Pugliese Carratelli, Les lamelles d'or orphiques, Paris 2003.
3.   A. Bernabé - A. I. Jiménez San Cristóbal, Instrucciones para el Más Allá. Las laminillas órficas de oro, Madrid 2001 (there is not even one Spanish title in Pinchard's bibliography); English version,Instructions for the Netherworld. The Orphic Gold Tablets, Leiden 2008, A. Bernabé, Poetae Epici Graeci Testimonia et fragmenta, II 2, Monachii et Lipsiae 2004, M. Tortorelli Ghidini, Figli della terra e del cielo stellato, Napoli 2006, F. Graf - S. I. Johnston, Ritual Texts for the Afterlife, London 2007.
4.   G. Ricciardelli, Inni Orfici, Milano 2000, A. F. Morand, Études sur les Hymnes orphiques, Leiden-Boston 2001.
5.   For example, A. Masaracchia, "Orfeo e gli 'orfici' in Platone," A. Masaracchia, (ed.), Orfeo e l'orfismo, Roma 1993, 173-197, A. Bernabé, "Platone e l'orfismo," G. Sfameni Gasparro (ed.), Destino e salvezza: tra culti pagani e gnosi cristiana. Itinerari storico-religiosi sulle orme di Ugo Bianchi, Cosenza, 37-97, R. Edmonds, Myths of the Underworld Journey. Plato, Aristophanes, and the 'Orphic' Gold Tablets, Cambridge 2004.
6.   On p. 378 αΐσσω should read ἀείσω; ξυνετοῖσι κτλ. is not only "the first verse of the Theogony commented by Derveni papyrus, according to M. West", but is the first verse of the Orphic Rhapsodies and other Orphic poems; cf. A. Bernabé, Poetae Epici fr. 101 and id., "La fórmula órfica 'cerrad las puertas, profanos'. Del profano religioso al profano en la materia," Ilu. Revista de ciencias de las religiones 1, 1996, 13-37. On p. 602 M. L. West appears as the editor of the Orphic Theogony of the Derveni Papyrus, but the British scholar has made only an ingenious (and dubious!) exempli gratia reconstruction of the text.

(read complete article)