Saturday, March 27, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Settimio Lanciotti (ed.), Titus Maccius Plautus. Curculio. Editio Plautina Sarsinatis; 8. Sarsina/Urbino: QuattroVenti, 2008. Pp. 86. ISBN 9788839208514. €16.00 (pb).
Reviewed by John Henderson, King's College, Cambridge

Curculio has always been starved of a following.1 It can't have meant all that much to Lindsay, whose OCT apparatus (1904) is ultra non-specific about the paradosis. Lanciotti has done the shrunken script in 729 lines proud.2 His inerrant edition collates all the main witnesses afresh, and takes advantage of the Sarsina-Urbino series format to provide full running details of headings, rubrics, lay-out and -- the play's prime challenge (no kidding) for scribes and scholars alike -- speaker-assignments (accepting Curculio's continuing presence as one in five roles on stage together at 679, against Lindsay),3 in a band separate from the apparatus criticus strip furthest down the page. The latter can afford to be unusually open-weeve in assembling its materials for constituting the text. Featured are, besides generous records of orthographica and multi-layered correcting hands, neatly nuanced glosses on the considerations that weighed with editors present and past. There is even space to issue running signals to discussions in Fraenkel's Elementi, sayings in Otto, and multiple metrical determinations from Questa. Where these topics impinge, Lanciotti gestures to Plautine adaptation (esp. in the opening run of shticks),4 to technicalities amatory5 and legal,6 and to rare words;7 and he duly lingers (pp. 57-8) on the staggering pezzo -- in staggeringly lousy Latin8 -- that crowns Curc.'s running gag of acting out quasi-street theatre in the Roman round by wheeling out the Director-Producer (Choragus) to tour our Roman venue of forum and populace (462-86, commonstrabo ...: like the play's extended banksta-rap, the sandwich between town house, Epidaurian Aesculapius and sex-vendor's was already at home there for real).9

The history of the transmission through to Lanciotti's own intervention is admirably served. The text we are offered is anti-spectacular: hiatus is not resisted (med and ted down by four on OCT, at 37, 337, 386, 595); i often prevails over y (Lico, and e.g. clamis, Licia, sicophanta, Sirus, tirannus); archaizing exotica are treated on their merits rather than trust posteriores (quur makes the cut at 542); the bulk of differences from Lindsay are routine (prend- filled out to prehend-, hau to haud (x 3), nihil trimmed to nil (x 6), mihi to mi (x 20), -u' to -us (x 27); assimilation in compounds is mostly resisted (obs-, not ops-), monstr- preferred to mostr-, tarpezita allowed to sit beside trapezita ... In the historical spirit of the series, Lanciotti exercises discernment, not inventiveness. Since the OCT remains and retains common currency, I list the differences that make any difference at all to the sense (Lindsay first): 25, oportet esse: e. o.; 84, [af]ferri: ferri; 123/125, paullulum hic: paululum | hoc; 125/127, omnes .. [e]ueniunt: omnis [homines] ... euenunt; 156, sed: st; 163, mihi: [te] mi; 205, surrupticio: surrepticio; 284, nec [usquam]: [n.]; 323, suis: sueris; 344, eo accedunt: coaccedunt; 352, demorari: me morari; 366, obstrudamus: obtrudamus; 382, aliquem [mi]: a. |; 394, i: hi; 452, nam: [nam]; 517, cures: c. [ut]; 531, di: dei; 545, mihi--: m. ... [tabellas]; 571 dabo,: d. [mihi]; 582, sese aiebat esse: a. e. s.; 595, peior [quam haec est] quae ubi med hunc habere: p. q. h. e. q. u. me habere hunc; note 597 app., manum [ea] Ritschl: m. [mi] Ernout; 611, is: eis; 612, bolis, cum bullis: boleis c. bulbis; 618, egoquidem: e. q.; 639, istae: isti; 667, illic: ille | ita; Lanciotti resists stabs of Lindsay's own, at: 80, [ubi]: [ego]; 446, oram [omnem]: o. |; 574, * * * [meus]: * * *; 603, pater uero is: p. tuos. The metrical schemes tally,10 outside the solitary canticum at 98-157 (wherein line divisions and so numbering diverge), which has the ever-parched anus Leaena, likely punning on lena (as the paradosis' scene-headings could encourage us to suppose), swoon out for her mood-setting cameo, answering the call of true love ... -- a lagoena (pun at 78), before staggering back in so she can answer the true lover's call by bringing out his beloved bride-to-be, to get this appetite-whetting comic turn on the Roman road, so we can paint the town silly. More than eighty lemmata from the play are culled for the Testimonia effectively marshalled in an appendix. Now all we could do with is more of a reason than those strange siblings, macho-gob Soldier of Fortune and "owl-eyed" Beautiful Freak with their fateful anulus, or the Pimp with his gut-ache to cure and toilette to fuss with and the pseudo-servus callidus-cum-currens Parasite, with panto-pirate's eyepatch up his sleeve, to put our gladrags on and get down with this particular caper, and party. De Ol' Bo-Evil Kornweevel looking for a home. Come to think of it ... 11


1.   Italy produced two editions back when I came in: Ferruccio Bertini, and Giusto Monaco, both 1969, Bologna; Palermo; in English, there is John Wright (1981, Chico CA; 19932, Norman OK) -- and now we've Amy Richlin's travesty-translation set in New Haven, Weevil, in Rome and the Mysterious Orient, 2005, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London: pp. 57-108.
2.   455-61 look to most punters to mark elision of what should have been a longer-'n'-livelier Back from the Front scene (not the surreal Production Turns on the Audience "Yes, YOU LOT" featurette) as prequel to Soldier and Banker Get to Grips at 533 (Lanciotti. p. 57, cf. Richlin 2005: p. 104).
3.   Lanciotti (p. 71) ungags Curculio after 675's decisive pledge with spondeo, assigning him bites at 687, 688, 691-2, 694 to gang up two-v.-one on Pimp with Soldier, and at 712-13 for an irrepressible non taceo (at pimply Cappadox, not banker Lyco as in Wright, 1993: pp. 81-3). On the "Ensemble scenes" at 610-78, 679-729, see Fred Franko, American Journal of Philology 125 (2004) pp. 27-59, esp. 48).
4.   See esp. Elaine Fantham's "The Curculio of Plautus. An illustration of Plautine methods in adaptation", The Classical Quarterly 15 (1965) 84-100; Eric Csapo's "Plautine elements in the running-slave entrance monologues?", The Classical Quarterly 39 (1989) 148-163. For the "impro theatre" take, see Sander Goldberg's "Improvisation, plot, and Plautus' Curculio" and Geoffrey Arnott's "The opening of Plautus' Curculio: comic business and mime", in Lanciotti. Benz, E. Stärk, and G. Vogt-Spira eds., Plautus und die Tradition des Stegreifspiels: Festgabe für Eckard Lefèvre zum 60. Geburtstag (ScriptOralia A19), 1995 Tübingen: pp. 33-41; 185-192, after E. Lefèvre's "Curculio oder der Triumph der Edazität" in E. Lefèvre, E. Stärk, and G. Vogt-Spira eds., Plautus Barbarus, 1991 Tübingen: pp. 71-105.
5.   Lanciotti. (esp. p. 41) links to Netta Zagagi's Tradition and Originality in Plautus: Studies in the Amatory Motifs in Plautine Comedy (Hypomnemata 62), 1980 Göttingen.
6.   Lanciotti does not reference Adele Scafuro's The Forensic Stage. Settling Disputes in Graeco-Roman New Comedy, 1997 Cambridge (on staged money, force, threat of summons and counter-threat, arbitration, settlement out of court, post-verdict afters: esp. pp. 432-3, 457-8 on 619-21, 625; pp. 175-7 on 679-86; pp. 177-80 on 686-729).
7.   On 236-40, Lanciotti (p. 45) accepts reference to hepatium, pâté de foie, after A. Thierfelder's "De morbo hepatiario", Rheinisches Museum 98 (1955) 190-2). For conuadari at 162, see Zagagi pp. 113-4 on the theme Love as Property to Fight For, tooth and nail.
8.   Like Lanciotti (p. 58) and Richlin (2005: p. 105), I just about wear 483-4 [and bear 485] in A Plautus Reader, 2009 Mundelein IL: ?2A: pp. 44-9.
9.   Lanciotti (p. 58) points us to Timothy J. Moore's 1991 article rather than chapter 7 of his book (The Theater of Plautus. Playing to the Audience, 1998 Austin, TEX: pp. 126-37); and to Sommella's 2005 essay (see below).
10.   This form of analysis passes up on, even obscures, dramatic rhythm and rhyme: metrical continuity masks Curculio's move to step out (monologue on metatheatre, from 591); metrical shift marks entr'acte "Time Passes" (tr7to ia6 for Weevil's feeding-time inside at 371, he discloses at 384-8) and discursive shift (from dialogue in tr7to tell-all narrative in ia6at 635). See Toph Marshall's The Stagecraft and Performance of Roman Comedy, 2006 Cambridge: pp. 217-18, finding (sc. in the remnant or rump we have) 1-215 and 371-634 as amble toppling into knotted blockage brought by pimp and banker (so exit loverboy-groom) versus 216-370 and 635-729 as crisp plunge into dénouement (with the pivotal name of the father triggering recognition, rescue, in loco patris betrothal, and so to party). For Marshall's 1996 production on campus at UBC, see
11. The 2005 companion volume on Curculio in the sibling QuattroVenti series "Ludus Philologiae", Renato Raffaelli and Alba Tontini eds., Lecturae Plautinae Sarsinates. VIII, Curculio (Sarsina, 25 settembre 2004), 119 pp., has five contributions: Lanciotti's avant-pensées, "In margine ad una prossima edizione del Curculio" (pp. 37-68), Paolo Sommella's "La Roma Plautina (con particolare riferimento a Cur. 467-86)" (pp. 69-116), with Timothy Moore's "Pessuli, heus pessuli": la porta nel Curculio (pp. 11-36), Cesare Questa's "Intorno al choragus" and Maurizio M. Bianco's "La 'cagna' ovvero Ecuba. Per un'interpretazione di Cur. 96-109": nondum uidi.


  1. Dear Sir,
    Mr. Henderson's reviews are as much of an event as of a cryptogram. Could you please provide a translation for those unfortunate members of the classical community who happen to be deprived of a Cambridge affiliation?

  2. I wonder how the reviewer would grade a paper from one of his unfortunate students, if it were written in such a style and contained inscrutable coinages such as "open-weeve".

    Peter Donnelly


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