Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Francesco G. Giannachi (ed.), Sofocle: Edipo Re. I canti. I canti del teatro greco 3. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2009. Pp. 128. ISBN 9788862272056. €28.00.
Reviewed by P. J. Finglass, University of Nottingham

Giannachi's book presents 'un edizione colometrica' (p. 11) of the lyric sections of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. That is, 'si propone di ricondurre i passi lirici della tragedia alla loro forma originaria ed all'assetto metrico che essi possedevano nelle edizioni antiche' (ibid.). Scholars interested in the lyric metres of this play will wish to consult this book, although its scope and execution are both wanting in a number of respects.

Giannachi has personally collated the manuscripts used in his edition, whether from autopsy, facsimile, or microfilm (p. 11). He begins his Introduction by explaining his selection (pp. 13-15), before describing the individual manuscripts, ancient and modern (pp. 15-24). His discussion is clear, his bibliography helpful. For several manuscripts, however, the date offered by the Introduction differs from the one given later in the Sigla (p. 33). There follows an account of the relationships between the manuscripts (pp. 24-8). Most of this is taken up by an account of Turyn's classification from 1952 (pp. 24-7, with his stemma on p. 31). Yet as Giannachi goes on to admit, Turyn's arguments were refuted by Dawe nearly forty years ago, in the first chapter of his Studies on the Text of Sophocles (volume one, Leiden 1973). Since, as far as I know, no-one has attempted to resurrect them, there was no need for Giannachi to give them such prominence.

The Introduction concludes with a discussion of Byzantine editions of Sophocles (pp. 28-31). Much of this is about Triclinius, but Giannachi also asserts, on the authority of Turyn, that Manuel Moschopulus and Thomas Magister produced editions of Sophocles. Giannachi does not cite chapter two of Dawe's Studies, which refutes Turyn's account of Byzantine editorial activity just as surely as his chapter one refutes Turyn's view of the relationships between the manuscripts. Moreover, for Turyn, the manuscript A is Moschopulean; yet Giannachi, who follows Turyn in ascribing an edition to Moschopulus, makes no reference to Moschopulean intervention in his earlier account of the manuscript, and indeed remarks there that 'il codice A può considerarsi, infatti, una vera edizione antica del testo' (p. 21).

I was surprised by the omission of two topics from Giannachi's Introduction, which seem, to me at least, fundamental for his enterprise. First, Giannachi's professed aim is to restore the colometry of the ancient editions of Sophocles. Which editions? When were they written? By whom? What evidence do we have for them? We are not told. Second, Giannachi does not explain the relationship between the ancient editions and Sophocles' original text. Let us suppose that we can reconstruct the colometry of an ancient edition from the third century BC. Is there reason to suppose that this colometry helps us to reconstruct the metrical form of the play as performed in Sophocles' day? I am sceptical. Giannachi presumably is not, but he needs to explain his view, not take the point for granted. By not discussing these two central issues he considerably limits the value of his book.

Giannachi's metrical analyses are influenced by the studies of Bruno Gentili. Elsewhere I have indicated my disagreement with this approach,1 and it would serve no purpose to go over the same ground here. It is striking, however, to see how metrics from outside the Gentili school are largely omitted. There is no citation of Kiichiro Itsumi, perhaps the most important living scholar of Greek metre. Only one of Laetitia Parker's many fundamental papers is cited. A. M. Dale's Metrical Analyses are referenced, but not her Lyric Metres or any of her articles. Paul Maas and Gottfried Hermann are conspicuously absent from the bibliography.2 Giannachi is, of course, entitled to disagree with these scholars, but not to neglect or ignore them.

Giannachi's metrical analyses take up the rest of the book. The manuscripts do not always present the same colometry, as Giannachi's meticulously detailed apparatus critici make clear. When they disagree, what criteria should we use to recover the colometry of a putative ancient edition? Giannachi does not seem to argue this explicitly. The age of the manuscript is not, for him, an overriding criterion -- Giannachi is prepared to reject a papyrus' colometry in favour of one found in manuscripts hundreds of years younger (pp. 42-3). So how do we decide? A clear statement of policy in the Introduction would have been of considerable help to the reader.

I did not always follow the logic of Giannachi's explanations for his preferred textual choices. To take one example, in support of his preferred reading at 478, πέτρας ὡς, Giannachi cites the scholium οἰκεῖα δὲ ταῦτα τὰ ὀνόματα, ἄντρα καὶ πέτραι, and concludes 'lo scoliasta, dunque, conosceva la lezione πέτρας e non πετραῖος' (pp. 62-3). No such inference can be drawn; a gloss on either could easily contain the word πέτραι. Giannachi's suggestion that πετραῖος is the result of a gloss on ταῦρος (p. 63) is unlikely to win many supporters, either. Many of Giannachi's metrical symbols are not glossed in his 'Abbreviazioni metriche' (p. 35). On p. 60 the symbols for long and short syllables at the end of the first four lines do not seem to correspond to the patterning in the Greek.

The printing is generally accurate. Giannachi sometimes has trouble with the names of German scholars,3 and his French also leads him into error at one point.4


1.   See P. J. Finglass (ed., comm., transl.) Pindar. Pythian Eleven (Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries 45; Cambridge 2007), 47-56 and id. 'νῦν and νυν in Pindar', Mnemosyne 4th ser. 60 (2007), 269-73. For a critical response to the former from a scholar sympathetic to Gentili, see A. Tessier, 'Quaestio de stichometria. A proposito di una recente edizione di Pyth. 11', QUCC N.S. 91 (2009), 129-38; also B. Gentili and L. Lomiento, 'Observations on Hephaestion addressed to his cultured despisers', ibid. 123-8.
2.   Giannachi does cite Hermann's edition in his list of editions (p. 117), but gives it the wrong date of publication (1830-55, when Hermann's edition of this play appeared first in 1823 and then in 1833). He is similarly inaccurate for several other editions.
3.   'Weklein' (p. 39), 'Shroeder' (p. 41), 'Reising' (p. 95), 'Heismoeth' (p. 107). Giannachi also regularly omits the hyphen in 'Lloyd-Jones'.
4.   On p. 18 n. 15 and in the bibliography the scholars Kranz, Scheltema, and Vürtheim all acquire an extra initial, 'M'. Giannachi has, I think, taken this from Irigoin's article of 1951, which throughout prefaces these scholars' surnames with 'M.' for 'Monsieur'.

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