Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010.01.02

Version at BMCR home site
Michael Comber, Catalina Balmaceda (ed.), Sallust: The War Against Jugurtha. Aris and Phillips Classical Texts. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2009. Pp. 282. ISBN 9780855686382. $36.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Christina S. Kraus, Yale University

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This edition of Sallust's Bellum Iugurthinum fills a serious gap in Aris and Phillips' list. Not only is it good to have Sallust thus available, but especially this particular text: the Catiline is far too often read in isolation, and with this edition Comber and Balmaceda make his more ambitious and more intellectually mature work easy to teach. The format and content of the volume are typical of the series: a relatively detailed Introduction (in this case with valuable details about the monograph's structure and characters), text (close to but not invariably the textus receptus) plus idiomatic yet faithful translation, and a relatively brief commentary keyed to the English text. Balmaceda is a specialist in Roman ideas of uirtus, and her commentary naturally inclines toward that and related topics; the Sallust we meet here will seem slightly old-fashioned to some historiographers (e.g. he is weak on military details, good on psychological insights, p.6), but he is shown to be an earnest and committed political thinker.

Though Comber and Balmaceda contributed about equally to this volume (the translation and about half the notes are Comber's), it was she who brought it to completion after his premature death in the summer of 2004. She has produced a fitting memorial to a teacher and friend much loved by many in Oxford, and beyond.

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