Monday, February 15, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Panagiotes D. Bernardakis, Henricus Gerardus Ingenkamp (ed.), Plutarchi Chaeronensis Moralia, recognovit Gregorius N. Bernardakis. Editionem Maiorem. Vol. I. Athens: Academy of Athens, 2008. Pp. 421. ISBN 9789604041282.
Reviewed by Jordi Redondo, Universitat de València

[Contents are listed at the end of the review.]

This new complete edition of the Plutarchean Moralia began in the 19th century, when the Greek scholar Gregorios N. Bernardakis (1848-1925, from now on GB) collected all the required materials for a major edition, which he never published. He did bring to light the minor Teubner edition which appeared in seven volumes between 1888 and 1926. This philological work received direct disapproval from Wilamowitz and Pohlenz, so that the present Teubner edition went a completely different direction. A central question in this debate was the importance accorded by GB to the manuscript Parisinus 1956, which was neglected by his German colleagues.1 After GB's death, his son Dimitrios took care of the father's legacy, and finally his grandson Panayiotis Bernardakis, in collaboration with Heinz Gerd Ingenkamp (Universität Bonn), took over publication of the whole work.2 Needless to say, this Greek major edition largely supersedes the Moralia collection directed by Vasilis Mandilarás for the printing house Kaktos.

The total amount of reviewed codices explains how ambitious was the project conceived by GB. Fifty manuscripts have been collated in order to obtain the best possible result. By comparison in the last Teubner edition, Plutarchus. Vitae parallelae I.1 (München/Leipzig 1959, 2000) Ziegler cited twenty-six manuscripts, of which only eighteen were deemed relevant. The need of a new edition, supported by a more accurate methodology, has been already expressed in more or less clear terms by different scholars.3

A further important matter concerns the authenticity of the essays in this first volume. Three, De liberis educandis, Consolatio ad Apollonium, and Septem sapientium convivium, have been rejected as spurious by most of scholars because of linguistic and stylistic features.4 In our opinion a last word on this subject has not yet been said, but a short reassessment of the matter should have been given.

On the formal side, designers achieve a welcome dialogue between hard covers and sophisticated Greek fonts, much more feminine than that used in the German Bibliotheca Teubneriana, the French Belles Lettres, the Catalan Fundació Bernat Metge and the English Oxford Classical Texts, insofar as they reproduce the handmade, delicate writing of a human being, instead of our customary fonts. Nevertheless, there are some problematic aspects. The short line length requires cutting some words into different lines, even inside the same syllable, e.g. Mor. 4A (= p. 7, ll. 24-25) παιδα-γωγοῖς, and 22A (= p. 51, ll. 22-23) ἀντ-εφώνησε. Also the extended use of double quotation marks seems quite inelegant; single quotation marks do appear, but only for a quotation embedded inside a major quotation. Parentheseis are used quite frequently where commas would have sufficed.5

Some other decisions cannot receive our total support. In offering nearly always γιγν- instead of γιν-, the text has a literary colour, but in the second century A.D. the spelling attested in our papyri show that the cluster -γν- was already simplified.6

As for the critical approach, our opinion is clearly positive. This accurate edition, inspired as it is by a long and calm reflection on the Moralia, provides the most useful text for readers as well as for researchers. The constitution of the text pays attention to the linguistic frame of the Greek koine. Of course Plutarch could not always avoid the use of morphological, syntactical and lexical features already habitual in standard spoken language.7 When codices give support to these koinisms, the editors have been accurate enough not to act like new Atticists for the sake of an alleged purity. GB acted sensibly when restoring, for instance, περί in 138B (= p. 337, l. 7), in accord with the manuscripts, instead of πρός, which is an emendation by Reiske maintained in the former minor edition. On the other hand, Plutarch was also a moderate Atticist,8 one of those authors who slightly share the postulates of this aesthetic trend, albeit far from militant. The light presence of the dual number is an evident proof of this soft Atticism.

The addition of a second critical apparatus, related to the literary tradition reflected by the Plutarchean text, probably does not depend on GB's work, but its help is not small, so that we must welcome it, according with the recent trends regarding the edition of the Classical authors.9

Some textual choices leave room for discussion. At 2F (= p. 5, l. 4) the participle πολεμοῦντες, which is a lectio difficilior that explains the extended infinitive, produces a better syntactical construction. At 87C (= p. 211, l. 1) the correction πλίνθων καὶ ὀστράκων added in margine by two different copyists in two of the oldest manuscripts, Marcianus 250 and Parisinus 1957, probably depends on parallel collations with a now lost codex with a better preserved text. At 130B (= p. 318, l. 13), the reading παρακάμπτειν, given by an emendation added to the codex Parisinus 1671, instead of παρεκκόπτειν and παρεγκάπτειν in the other codices, requires further reflection. At 148F (= p. 364, l. 10) the variant κλισίην is supported by the dialectal context, as the phrase is said by an Ionian speaker. At 149D (= p. 366, l. 1) the variant τί δαί deserves much more attention.

Our suggestions for other passages are simple conjectures. At 12A (= p. 26, l. 22) the potential optative ὑπολαμβάνοις is a tenable alternative for the edited -ειν and the transmitted readings -ει and -έτω. At 76D (= p. 184, l. 17), the middle form ποιεῖται seems to us better than the active, transmitted by all the manuscripts. At 127F (= p. 312, l. 21) πλείονας could be a more tenable reading, but a conjecture such as τοὺς δ'ἐκπλέοντας ἀκρασίᾳ καὶ μαλακίᾳ should be also taken into account. At 141A (= p. 344, l. 19) the non-attested *καλπίδιον should explain all the extant variants.

The apparatus devoted to the literary references is quite clear and complete.10 Typographical mistakes appear just to prove that the present edition was not made by angels, but by human beings.11

To sum up, this new major edition -- of which a second volume has already appeared -- offers an important contribution to the understanding of the Plutarchean legacy and reparation for the old unjust criticism. It is in our opinion the best edition now available.

Praefatio (p. 1*-41*).
Indices (p. 1**-4**).
De liberis educandis (p. 1-32).
Quomodo adulescens poetas audire debeat (p. 33-90).
De recta ratione audiendi (p. 91-117).
Quomodo adulator ab amico internoscatur (p. 118-180).
Quomodo quis suos in virtute sentiat profectus (p. 181-207).
De capienda ex inimicis utilitate (p. 208-224).
De amicorum multitudine (p. 225-235).
De fortuna (p. 236-243).
De virtute et vitio (p. 244-247).
Consolatio ad Apollonium (p. 248-298).
De tuenda sanitate praecepta (p. 229-336).
Coniugalia praecepta (p. 337-357).
Septem sapientium convivium (p. 358-402).
De superstitione (p. 403-421).


1.   For this controversy see H.G Ingenkamp, "'Malim', Asteriskus und Fragezeichen. Einige Worte zur Verteidigung und zum Lobe von Gregorios N. Bernardakis," Ploutarchos 3, 2005, 103-125, pdf.
2.   Mention is due to the Academy of Athens, whose financial support makes possible this fundamental contribution to the classical, especially Plutarchean, studies.
3.   So, I. Gallo, "Premessa", in B. Weissenberger, La lingua di Plutarco di Cheronea e gli scritti pseudoplutarchei, Napoli 1994, 5-8, p. 7.
4.   On De liberis educandis see D.A. Wyttenbach, Animadversiones in Plutarchi Opera Moralia I, Leipzig, Teubner, 1820, p. 1-30. On Consolatio ad Apollonium, see G.E. Benseler, De hiatu in oratoribus Atticis et historicis Graecis libri duo, Freiburg i.B. 1841, p. 430-432, and R. Volkmann, Commentatio de Consolatione ad Apollonium pseudoplutarchea, Halle 1867, and Leben, Schriften und Philosophie des Plutarchs von Chaeronea I, Berlin 1869, p. 129 ff. On Septem sapientium convivium, see Chr. Meiners, Geschichte des Urprungs, Fortgangs und Verfalls der Wissenschaften im Griechenland und Rom I, Lemgo 1781, p. 135-138, and R. Volkmann, Leben, p. 188 ff.
5.   Also, it is rather odd that parenthetical remarks are distinguished by means of both em-dashes, as at 149A (= p. 364, l. 25), and parentheses, as at 149D (= p. 354, l. 27) and 150A (= p. 366, l. 28).
6.   The opusculum De liberis educandis, whether because it is not a Plutarchean work, or because it has a more popular, non-literary style and phraseology, attests the form γινομένους (8D = p. 18, l. 10), actually accepted by the editors. The contrast grows if we compare this almost generalized *γιγν- forms with the frequent absence of underscribed iota inside the word, e.g. p. 216, l. 27 μιᾶ; p. 219, l. 7 πραότητα; p. 229, l. 25 ζωοί; p. 241, l. 13 εἰκῆ; p. 268, l. 21 ἀποθνήσκουσι.
7.   Cf. e.g. 80B (= p. 193, l. 14), ἑαυτούς instead of ἐμαυτούς; 81A (= p. 195, l. 20), μάρτυν instead of μάρτυρα; 101B (= p. 248, l. 17), ἡ περὶ σὲ διάθεσις instead of ἡ σὴ διάθεσις; 140F (= p. 344, l. 9), καίτοι introducing a concessive participle; 146B (= p. 358, l. 7), ἤμην instead of ἦν; 166A (= p. 406, l. 17), homoioteleuton produced by the Koine spelling [isis] of the endings -ίσεις and -ύσεις.
8.   B. Weissensberger, op. cit. p. 15. (...) In tutta quest'aspirazione all'eleganza attica egli non si perse in una difficile e insensata imitazione.
9.   See on this matter A. Salvatore, Edizione critica e critica del testo, Roma 1983, p. 32-33.
10.   Yet at 128F (= p. 312, ll. 22-25), besides the reported saying πάτταλος παττάλῳ ἐκκρούεται, another important gnome should be added, viz. ὁ δὲ τρώσας ἰήσεται See R. Tosi, Dizionario delle sentenze latine e greche, Milano 200315, p. 635.
11.   Note a small blank space at the end of the line at 83 F before τὰς πράχεις (= p. 202, l. 16), and the minor printing types of ἐμμένει τὸ πρὸς ἀλλήλους δυσάρεστον at 147F (= p. 362, l. 7). The information given at the critical apparatus about 133D (= p. 326) must refer to l. 14, instead of l. 13.


  1. This review contains more silly and superficial observations about the book than it does actual evaluations of its contents! The editors should have asked for a re-do.

  2. Jean-Fabrice Nardelli ( 16, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    Of course it is nice to finally have on our desks the major Moralia by Bernardakis and others ; but let it not cloud our judgement on what the first Teubner editor wanted to do and what he was taken to task for not having done, lest we find ourselves condemned to repeat his errors.

    To begin with, a harmless mistake : the final volume of Bernardakis’ Moralia, containing the fragments, appeared in 1896 (not 1926). More substantially, to claim that the second Teubner edition of the Moralia « went a completely different direction » because of the strictures expressed by Wilamowitz and Pohlenz (also by Eduard Schwartz), and not due to the realisation that the editor’s codicological basis was strained and his critical policy inadequate (« il faut regretter qu’il ait attaché plus d’importance à la conjecture qu’à la collation des manuscrits et on a souvent jugé sévèrement la préférence qu’il a accordée aux leçons de D (Parisinus gr. 1956) » writes J. Irigoin in his magisterial history of the text in the Budé Moralia, I [Paris, 1987], CCXXVI-CCCIII, on CCCI), on top of the errors in his collations (on which e.g. H. F. Cherniss, Selected Papers [Leiden, 1977], 479, 498 notes 70 and 78), is to show either great bias or inadequate knowledge. This forms the basis for Dr Redondo’s parting shot about « the old unjust criticism » : Bernardakis himself used to claim that he had been harassed by the German critics, plus some Frenchmen — he could have added his countrymen as well, for J. Pantazidis criticised many of his manuscript conjectures and parts of his choice of variants in vol. 2 [1898] of the FilologikÇj SÎllogoj Pàrnassoj,!Epethr°j, and C. C. Charitonidis violently lashed out at him because of his attacks on Kontos (details in Revue critique d’histoire et de littérature, N.S. 59 [1905], 407-408) —, but, judging from his endless polemics with reviewers in the classical journals, his prefaces to the Moralia and the 47-page Epilogus which provides a closure to his seventh volume, he was a belligerent, difficult man prone to tart words and bouts of paranoia. A reference for this to J. E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, III (Cambridge, 1908), 373 top, backed up e.g. by H. Weil, Études sur le drame antique (Paris, 1908²), 170, especially note 1, may not suffice, so let us enter into some detail. At the beginning of his preface to the fourth volume of the Moralia (1892, V-LV), whereby he replies to the review by Wilamowitz in Hermes 25 (1890), 199-205, Bernardakis claims that « in illo libello Wilamowitzio propositum non erat ut de codicibus sibi prorsus ignotis dissereret..., sed potius ut se graece scire melius quam ego demonstraueram contenderet » (p. IX). More significantly still, in his letter to the Revue critique... 42 (1896), 286-289, he mounts an ad hominem attack against Paton, the rival editor of the Delphic dialogues, under the pretence of addressing two French reviewers, viz. ‘My’ (Mondry Beaudouin) on his separate edition of the De E apud Delphos, and Paul Couvreur on Paton’s ; on his inclination to suspect scholarly plots behind his back, I may quote p. 288 of this letter : « même je ne saurais pas assurer que M. My a pu lire l’édition de M. Paton sans faire des conjectures ou bien sans avoir une autre édition à côté. Mais pourquoi n’en a-t-il rien dit ? Est-ce pour faire plaisir à quelques philologues allemands qui ont de tout leur possible soutenu l’édition de M. Paton ? ou bien a-t-il été entraîné par les mêmes philologues intéressés, qui, ainsi qu’ils persécutent mon édition avec acharnement, élèvent celle de Paton jusqu’au troisième ciel... ? ». Last but not least, p. IX of the preface to his second volume (1889), Bernardakis accuses Wilamowitz, who had expressed his dissatisfaction with parts of the Teubner Moralia, I, in no mean terms within his ‘Commentariolum grammaticum, III’ (1889), 21-24 (see E. Nachmanson, Erotianstudien [Uppsala, 1917], 143-144), of nothing less than spreading baseless lies : « quae ut maxime calumniosa ita minime accurata sunt ».

  3. Jean-Fabrice Nardelli ( 16, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    Dr Redondo also endorses the notion that Bernardakis’ Teubner Moralia were meant from the start to be a minor edition, something which takes ammunition from p. VIII of the preface to the first volume (« iam diu est, cum Moralium libris deditus aut cum codicibus comparandis aut corrigendis copias ad editionem criticam apparandum quam maximas conquirere institui. Nunc igitur negotio, ut editionem minorem constituerem, mandato, magna laetitia afficior me ab iis praesidiis munitum publici iuris facere posse partem saltem apparatus mei, sperans me alio tempore, si minor approbata fuerit »). Whatever this underscoring of the work, rehearsed and amplified by Bernardakis in the preface of the second volume, pp. X-XI (in a transparent attempt to silence or placate his critics in general, particularly Wilamowitz : « nihilo minus etiam in Praefatione non semel indicaui hand editionem minorem esse... Denique ex pacto quoque cum bibliopola honestissimo conuento me in minorem editionem ad exemplum Hercherianae adornandam obstrinxi »), actually means, is unclear. In effect, the sheer length and degree of attention to details of the general preface (I, pp. V-XCIII, whose contents are usefully sketched in II, p. IX) was certainly designed to compensate for the terseness of the critical apparatus (we are told, in I pp. XCI-XCII, that « in adnotationes textui subiectas codicum corruptas lectiones reieci, quarum loco emendationes in textum recepi, ut quid codicum quidue ingenii esset facile intellegerentur. In iisdem adnotationibus emendationes selectas aut aliorum aut meas rettuli » ; however the way many faults are either tacitly corrected or allowed to stand without a critical note rather suggests an absence of editorial rationale, while the conspicuous lack of codicological abbreviations in each of the seven volumes hints at the editor’s preference for Conjekturalkritik). The fact remains that Bernardakis promised his reader an in-depth revision of the text based on both recensio and emendatio, witness I, p. XC : « relinquitur, ut de textu, quem uocant, constituendo pauca exponam. Cum autem quos me codices et quare secutum fuisse supra dexirim, hoc loco addendum est me in uerborum ordine, ubi nihil offensioni esset, optimis codicibus aeque atque in aliis obtemperasse. Emendationes autem aut meas aut aliorum plerumque recepi ubi non modo mihi sed etiam aliis persuasum erat textum esse corruptum ; et eas, quae certae indubitataeque ac scriptoris usu — nam suus quisque scriptor certissimus est et emendator et testis — confirmatae mihi uiderentur, ad seueriorem legem meas quas aliorum exigenti. Emendationem autem certam dico eam, qua et codicum corrupta lectio explicetur et animus ita acquiescat confirmeturque, ut nihil praeter eam desideret ». The most severe reviewers of Bernardakis were thus certainly right to demur at the disproportion between what had been announced and the lightweight scholarly character of each instalment of the work. Such disproportion informs Wilamowitz’s identification of the Teubner Moralia with a mercantile enterprise launched without proper preparation (his accusation of servile copying of Hercher by Bernardakis we can discard as an obvious instance of polemical excess). Consequently, whatever impression his long-delayed ‘major’ edition makes on present-day scholars, there is ground to suspect that Bernardakis did not properly pave the way for it in his Teubner, which looks like a premature achievement. Whence the eighty or so years it took his heirs and their adiutor to complete the work after his death.

  4. Jean-Fabrice Nardelli ( 16, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Since Dr Redondo envisions the first Teubner Moralia as a stop-gap, viz. no failure or missed opportunity on the editor’s part, his insistence on the scale of the collations behind Bernardakis maior is only natural. Natural but crude : the value of an edition cannot be assessed by weighing down the codicological materials that went into it, and it is grossly misleading to equate « more accurate methodology » with the well-worn tag ‘many more manuscripts than in any previous edition’. We should have been told instead how, if at all, the new Plutarch supersedes the second Teubner in the inseparable departments of recensio and emendatio. But all we are treated to in the Redondo piece are trivia on the material appearance of Bernardakis maior, antiquated or scattered references to the secondary literature, undistinguished (though not uninteresting) discussion of a few textual lections, and lots of rhetoric. Let the reader decide whether the words Bernardakis directed at Wilamowitz’ paper in Hermes apply more to the Redondo review : « ipsi quoque lector argumenta quam praua inania leuia sint facile intellegit ; sed cum eorum auctor magni ea faciat, necessarium mihi uidetur pauca dicere » (IV, p. XII).

  5. Jean-Fabrice Nardelli ( 16, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    ERRATA : in the first part of my comment, 1) "FilologikÇj SÎllogoj Pàrnassoj,!Epethr°" is to be read as "Philologikos syllogos Parnassos, Epetêris", and 2) "his manuscript conjectures" should be "his conjectures".