Wednesday, May 26, 2010


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Stephan Lehmann, Alexander der Grosse -- einst in Stendal. Original -- Kopie -- Falschung? Kataloge und Schriften des Archäologischen Museums der Martin-Luther-Universität, Bd. 2. Halle an der Saale: Beier & Beran, 2009. Pp. 42; figs. a-c + 62. ISBN 9783941171299.
Reviewed by Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Bryn Mawr College

On July 15, 2000, the exhibition "Alexander der Grosse - König der Welt: Eine neuentdeckte Bronzestatue" opened at the Winckelmann Museum in Stendal, Germany. It was accompanied by a catalogue with the same title, edited by Max Kunze and published as a special edition by the Winckelmann-Gesellschaft. It presented for the first time a bronze fragmentary statue allegedly depicting Alexander the Great, of which only the upper part was preserved, from head to mid-torso, including the stumps of both arms at mid-biceps, obviously the points of attachment for the forearms now missing. The bronze was said to belong to a private collector and to have been tested by a technical laboratory (Northover) in Oxford that had confirmed its antiquity. Both the name of the collector and the possible findspot of the "newly found" bronze were left unmentioned, and the sculpture's present location is now unknown, since it left the Stendal Museum in September 2000, when the exhibition closed.

Doubts about the true nature of the sculpture were first raised in newspaper accounts, and the matter was then more fully explored in a lecture by Lehmann (Nov. 2, 2009) which now appears as the small book under review, in amplified format with abundant photographs. It first describes and illustrates the Stendal bronze in detail; the exhibition catalogue had suggested that the complete figure would have resembled in pose the so-called Alexander Rondanini in Munich (here figs. 15, 47-49), but the position of the upper arms is so different that the comparison is correctly discounted. A survey of Alexander's portraiture focuses on four types: Azara, Erbach-Akropolis (Athens), Schwarzenberg, and Dressel, although selected coins, gold medallions, and even a bronze statuette (A. with the Spear in the Louvre) are also illustrated. The Stendal A. conforms to none of those types although incorporating traits from some of them, including the Rondanini, especially in its classicizing face. Admittedly, however, all depictions vary so much from each other that only a few distinctive traits (anastole, youthfulness, long hair) can be used to validate identification.

A possible origin of the Stendal statue in the Hellenistic or Roman period is then tested against bronze originals from those phases, but the differences are so vast that the exercise seems futile. The Hellenistic example here chosen is the "only extant portrait of a ruler": the recently excavated head of Seuthes III, king of the Odrysians (ca. 310 B.C.E.) now in the Kazanlak Museum (fig. 17). Although from a secure ancient context, this heavily bearded and mature image from Bulgaria has nothing in common with Alexander's iconography, which must have introduced a new conception for a ruler-- yet both have long hair, as noted. This latter feature is therefore dismissed as exclusively characteristic of the Macedonian. Equally irrelevant is a comparison with the head of the Emperor Macrinus (217-218 C.E., figs. 51, 53) as correctly noted, and not solely on stylistic grounds. Thus, creation in the second/third century C.E. is also eliminated. What remains (as the catalogue had suggested) is the possibility of a late 2nd c. C.E. copy or adaptation of an original datable around 300 B.C.E., shortly after Alexander's death, but here the previous description of anomalies militates against the supposition. This entire section seems to me too general to be considered probative. The case for modern manufacture is more thoroughly argued. The scientific analysis of the alloy was never published in detail, as promised, and too little of it was revealed in the Stendal catalogue. The joining of the separately cast lower arms and head was said to have been accomplished through "soft solder" (the head as secondary repair, although corresponding "point for point"): a procedure disclaimed for antiquity. The thickness of the bronze varies and seems too thin in places. Moreover, the break at the lower end of the chest looks peculiar and may suggest that the piece was conceived as a torso. This last point seems to me convincing.

The owner of the Stendal A. seems to have been a dealer rather than a collector: London's Robin Symes. A New York sales catalogue, Royal Portraits and the Hellenistic Kingdoms, circulating at the end of November 1999, was authored by Symes and Max Kunze. It included four bronze heads with undisclosed provenience, now widely believed to be forgeries "by a Spanish workshop" (p. 37, n. 56, quoting the newspaper Der Spiegel of March 2008). The Stendal A. was not part of that sale, yet the association of the dealer with the then President of the Winckelmann-Gesellschaft was thus established and Symes' ownership of the Alexander confirmed by Kunze's oral statement cited in the same article (here p. 39 n. 61). Symes has since declared bankruptcy and been thoroughly discredited for dealing in illicit antiquities; his connection with a reputable scholar, well known for his expertise of the Pergamon Altar, is therefore highly disturbing. It is suggested that the fake Alexander was first exhibited in a provincial town, under the alleged auspices of a respected archaeological society, in order to give it credence.

The final message of Lehmann's booklet is a warning against modern forgeries--now facilitated by recent publications on ancient bronzes--and an appeal to scholars to adhere to a canon of honesty and professional conduct.

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Carlo Brillante, Il cantore e la musa: Poesia e modelli culturali nella Grecia arcaica. Studi e testi di storia antica 18. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2009. Pp. 309. ISBN 9788846721716. €26.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Andrew Ford, Princeton University

Table of Contents

This series of studies outlines a history of Greek conceptions of poetry from Homer through the fifth century. Seven of its eight chapters have been previously published (between 1990 and 2003), but Brillante has revised and expanded them to form an integrated whole. Each takes up a central text or topic in the history of criticism and explores it by combining close philological study with anthropological analysis in the vein of Detienne and Vernant. The combination yields the "cultural models" of the subtitle, and that these changed radically in the late archaic period is the running argument of the book. Even those who will not subscribe to the overall historical narrative will find here informed, stimulating and in-depth readings of passages that are on any account vital to understanding how the Greeks understood their own poetry.

The opening two chapters extract a "traditional model" of the poet from Homer and Hesiod. The first treats the relationship between Muse and singer and argues that they were seen as "collaborators" (23), elaborating an archaic psychology of inspiration that recognized the artistic abilities of individual poets. Chapter 2 takes up the praise of poets and kings in Hesiod's Theogony to argue that the "participation of the Muses in communal life" extended beyond sponsoring poetic performances (74). The Muses favor both poets and kings, Brillante argues, because their specially effective language ("parola...efficace," 67) was valued by communities in which knowledge of the past and of shared values was entrusted to oral tradition. Here, as often, structuralism's wide net bring fascinating tidbits to the surface: not many will think of Pittheus of Troezen in connection with the history of rhetoric, and yet Pausanias (2.31) tells us that a shrine to the Muses was near his tomb and that he wrote a rhetorical manual (a logôn tekhnê). Noting the play on peithô, Brillante convincingly presents him as an avatar of Hesiod's just king of inspired speech (70-71).

The second pair of chapters proposes Archilochus and Thamyris as positive and negative models of the singer. In chapter 3 Archilochus' encounter with the Muses in the Mnesiepes inscription is shown to follow a traditional pattern for poetic initiation that can be discerned from Hesiod on. Brillante focuses on the time and place of the encounter, taking the mysterious Lissides to be a numinous Parian place tentatively to be connected with the Ilissus, the locale of Socrates' enchantment in Phaedrus. The antitype of the ideal singer is propounded in chapter 4, which sees in Homer's Thamyris not a simple story of hubris but a psychosexual drama. Representations of Thamyris as the inventor of male-male love or as aspiring to sleep with the Muses hint that he is "blocked" (116): his "congenital incapacity (or refusal) to establish acceptable relations in the sexual sphere" (115) is antithetical to the Muses' art of exchange with "the other," and so the punishments with which he is visited (Brillante is agnostic on pêros at Il. 2.599) can be seen as forms of communicational pathology.

Poet and Muse are regarded in isolation from one another in Chapters 5 and 6. The first focuses on Alcman's intriguing but corrupt Fr. 39 PMG, in which the speaker says he has composed a song by listening to/putting together (sunthemenos) the voice of partridges. Leaning heavily on its ten words (of which more than half are emendations), Brillante addresses the issue of the relation between human song and birdsong from Homer through Herodotus (the prophetic "doves" of Dodona) to Aristotle. Chapter 6 discusses Hermes' invention of the lyre in the fifth Homeric hymn. A classic structuralist analysis of Greek tortoises argues that this animal, linked like Hermes to death but also to crossing borders, is an appropriate natural origin for the lyre and its power to transport us. The hymn's narrative shows the uncanny beast being effectively gutted of its frightful aspects by Hermes before being passed on to Apollo and mortals. Brillante adds that the active and inventive Hermes of this account is a richer and more authentically archaic figure than he is in later versions, including the fascinating Persian romance, Vamiq and Adhra, which tells how a wise man called Hurmuz invented the barbat (i.e. barbitos) from a tortoise.

The final two chapters elaborate the "crisis" suffered by the traditional model in the late archaic period as epic's authority weakened. Chapter 7 discusses the much-debated history of poetic "verità, menzogna e finzione" (bibliography in footnotes 33 on 187 and 61 on 203). Brillante rejects the idea that Hesiod's "lies like the truth" implies an idea of fictionality (187) since the "traditional model" relied on an ideal of reciprocity, of correspondence between declared truth and event, that precluded ambiguity or intentional falsehood from inspired speech. He argues that Ionian rationalism drew increased attention to mismatches between the poet's speech and (social and moral) reality and that as a result more attention was paid to the means by which poetry produced pleasure than to its divine source. In this way the ancient idea of inspired speech became "laicizzata" (211) and poetry was increasingly regarded as an autonomous form of discourse expressing its own truth with its own forms. A cardinal figure here was Simonides: his Plataea elegy grants Homer authority but consigns him to a past no longer seen as continuous with the present; the fame of the Trojan war is not credited to the efficaciousness of song on the traditional model, but to the quality of Homer's poetry. In addition, Simonides' dictum equating poetry and painting inaugurates a trend toward stressing poetry's artificial character and its place among the productive arts.

The new eighth chapter discusses fifth-century theories of poetic possession as an outgrowth of the new interest in poetry's effect on its audience. Brillante first sifts the doxography on Democritus' enthousiasmos in light of his atomism and then tracks Plato's adaptations. He shows that Plato extended Democritus by minimizing the poet's autonomy and maximizing the role of the divine. Drastically revising the traditional model in which the poet was more than the Muses' mouthpiece enabled Plato to show that the poet, like the rhapsode, knows nothing about how to criticize poetry. An Appendix on "L'invidia del Telchini e l'origine delle arti" brings the Telchines into a discussion of the natural and the artificial in a work of art, stressing their connections with the evil eye and "melting" (têkein). There are substantial indexes of passages and subjects.

Despite the off-beat approach of many chapters, Brillante's general story is familiar, with acknowledged debts to the work of Detienne and Svenbro. His conception of archaic "efficacious speech" yielding before an increasing "secularization" of poetry resembles the career of Detienne's "archaic truth," and like Svenbro Brillante sees a turning point in the "laicized speech" of Simonides, renouncing older claims to truth (209).1 His history is offered as a corrective to evolutionary accounts of Greek poetics as the gradual emergence of artistic self-consciousness (22); he rather sees a story of punctuated equilibrium, with the late sixth century as a sudden break in which "poetry from the past came to be analyzed in objective terms, with reference to its formal aspects, the means utilized in composition and to its effects on the hearer" (213). Brillante thus also challenges those who would trace to Gorgias and the sophists the revolution that founded Greek rhetoric and poetics.2

Though Brillante presents his case with learning and intelligence, I found the overall picture unsatisfying as history because his anthropological perspective drew his close readings onto an abstract plane in which "models" interact mainly with each other and mainly on their logical merits. Whereas Detienne set his history of truth within that of the archaic polis and Svenbro in its exchange economy, Brillante's history occurs against a background vaguely defined as "Ionian rationalism" (214) or "the development of thought" (211). His project is thus fundamentally a history of ideas; he derives from texts, myths and images their implicit "models" of what poetry is for and how it works, and then sets these models into a sequential argument in which new, more adequate positions eventually displace the old in a centuries-long debate about the nature of poetic truth.

To be sure, ideas count in the history of Greek criticism, for would-be experts on poetry had to propound and defend their views publicly to have influence. But Brillante seems to forget that the plausibility and significance of a given idea at a given time also depended on social, political, and economic considerations. Focusing so strongly on ideas, on poets and philosophers with little attention to practices, can lead to one-sided or distorting interpretations. The range and limits of tekhnê, for example, were questions of wide import when the sophists proposed to teach arts of success in the fifth century; it is thus a cause for concern that Brillante has to work so hard to reconstruct Homer's views of the matter, pressing Phemius' autodidaktos and extrapolating from Snell on the phrenes to vindicate the importance of a singer's "compositional abilities" in archaic poetics. A similar concern is raised by his presentation of Simonides as "not only a poet but an original thinker as well" (14, 203, which is rather a slap at other poets). To read Simonides as the forerunner of Gorgias may tell us less about his place in sixth-century culture than about how sophists were wont to treat this ageing lyric corpus in the fifth and fourth centuries, when "wise Simonides" came to be enrolled among the Seven Sages.

A related weakness in the history-of-ideas approach is that, in abstracting models from his texts, Brillante tends to lose sight of their genre. This is ironic since the neglect of genre is a key reason to agree with Brillante in rejecting evolutionary accounts that see in Hesiod's poetic self-advertisements an advance upon Homer's humble anonymity. Brillante rightly points out that the time-lag between Homer and Hesiod may have been very small or non-existent (22), but should note too that the contrast between the two poets' stances is best understood as a matter of generic decorum. An overview of archaic epos makes it clear that the poses Homer could strike as authoritative narrator of the heroic past were not the same as those available to Hesiod in a hymn to the Muses or in his gnomic sphrêgis. For these reasons Brillante ought to pause before jamming passages from epic against Simonides or Pindar to show the "traditional model" of a Muse-inspired singer being challenged in late archaic poetry. Lyric passages about song must be assessed within their own traditional rhetoric of public praise and celebration before it can be assumed that they represent a new "riflessione del poeta sulla propria arte" (193).

A great part of the value of the collection will be in Brillante's detailed and thorough examination of texts and traditions about poetry. But his larger history of ideas, plucked from their discursive contexts and set into play mainly with each other, is less satisfying as an account of early forms of Greek criticism.


1.   Marcel Detienne, Les Maîtres de vérité dans la Grèce archaïque, Paris 1967; English tr. by Janet Lloyd, The masters of truth in Archaic Greece, New York 1996. Jesper Svenbro, La Parole et le marbre: Aux origines de la poétique grecque, Lund 1976; revised Italian translation by Pierpaolo Rosati, La parola e il marmo: Alle origini delle poetica greca, Turin, 1984.
2.   Citing inter alios (203 n. 61) Wolfgang Rösler, "Die Entdeckung der Fiktionalität in der Antike," Poetica 12 (1980) 283-319.

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Antonietta Gostoli (ed.), Omero. Margite. Testi e commenti, 21. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore, 2007. Pp. 96. ISBN 97888622703823. €32.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Chad Matthew Schroeder

The Homeric Margites was a charmingly obscene little poem about an impetuous simpleton who was even unaware of how to have intercourse with his wife. And, although readers of this review may not realize it, each probably already owns a copy of its fragments. The fifth volume of Thomas Allen's ubiquitous Oxford Classical Text of Homer (1912) contains testimonia and fragments; the handy but now superseded old Loeb of Hesiodea and Homerica by Hugh Evelyn-White (1914, 19362) does as well. Martin West has also published the fragments of the poem, including previously unedited papyri (P.Oxy. 3963-3964), in the second volume of his Iambi et Elegi Graeci (Oxford, 19922). West revisited this material in his 2003 Loeb edition of Homerica. But the first--and I imagine the last--edition, complete with commentary and facing translation, of the Margites is Antonietta Gostoli's. Her edition has many strengths but one large shortcoming: it completely overlooks what is quite possibly a three-line fragment, attributed to the poem over twenty years ago.

In her introduction, Gostoli discusses the nature of the remaining fragments and the competing theories about their interpretation. Obviously two central, but not necessarily related, issues in understanding the Margites are the poem's date of composition and its attribution in antiquity to Homer. Sections of the introduction treat each question in depth. If we are to trust the twelfth-century Byzantine bishop Eustratius of Nicaea (T 1), as Gostoli thinks we should (11), Archilochus believed the poem to be Homer's, evidence that the poem existed already by ca. 650 B.C.E. Gostoli herself takes the view that the poem was composed a generation or two earlier at the end of the eighth or the beginning of the seventh century B.C.E. (13). Authorship of the poem is an equally complicated matter, as Gostoli discusses in the longest section of the introduction (16-23). She highlights the importance Aristotle placed on the poem in his Poetics, and sees wide attribution of the Margites to Homer in the fourth century B.C.E. Gostoli is probably correct that third-century Hellenistic literary scholars were the first to argue that Homer was not the author of the poem (19), but we have no direct evidence of their actual views (though in T 6, Dio's νεωτέρου is redolent of Alexandrian Homeric scholarship). Gostoli also sets forth a novel interpretation of fr. 1 (22-25), which she suggests is not in fact the beginning of the poem but rather a sphragis of sorts added by a later poet, similar to the compositional claim made in the Hymn to Delian Apollo (165-178).

Gostoli includes nineteen untranslated testimonia concerning the poem and its author, numerically a few more than other editors of the Margites. Her higher count comes from making Eustratius do triple duty as testimonia for Archilochus (T 1), Cratinus (T 2), and Callimachus (T 7), all of whom, according to the bishop, thought that Homer was the author of the poem. Gostoli's first seventeen testimonia are grouped chronologically, while the final two fall under the heading of Margitae persona in auctoribus antiquis. An organizing principle other than temporal might have served the reader better.

Gostoli's text of the fragments differs in few points from that of previous editors. The exception is her fr. 4 (fr. 6 West2), where Gostoli has fashioned a trimeter out of what earlier editors have supposed is a prose paraphrase of the Margites by Theodore Metochites. She explains in the commentary that although her emendations for fr. 4 first appear in later non-Homeric sources, we should expect that the comic Margites drew from other genres than simply heroic poetry (76). Her text of the papyri fragments is very conservative, and she is generally reluctant to print supplements of more than a letter. Although little can be done with P.Oxy. 3963 (fr. 8 West2 = fr. 10 Gostoli) or P.Oxy. 3964 (fr. 9 West2 = fr. 11 Gostoli), her treatment of P.Oxy. 2309 (fr. 7 West2 = fr. 9 Gostoli) results in a rather lean text. Even θερμά of line 8, which she calls "piü probabile" in a note (83), does not get printed. Each fragment is followed by a very ample critical apparatus, which also includes welcome references to loci similes. While it was certainly a good idea to include a facing translation of the text, the exiguous remains of the Margites results in translations that often look lonely as they hover on nearly blank pages. A note on Ionic dialectal elements and meter precedes the well-executed commentary.

The commentary involves a careful analysis of each poetic fragment, with due consideration given to the context of each quotation. In general, more attention is devoted to each fragment as a whole than to specific points of diction. For these, the critical apparatus is handy, especially notice of loci similes. Gostoli's notes on the papyrus fragments are particularly full, and take up nearly half the commentary. Two indices complete the volume.

In 2008, the year after Gostoli's edition appeared, Martin West published a short article which argued that a three-line description of a vagina, preserved in the Refutation of All Heresies attributed to the Roman bishop Hippolytus, may come from the Margites.1 West points out that whenever the author of the Refutation of All Heresies refers to an author as ὁ ποιητής he has Homer in mind, and that this is the same phrase he uses to introduce praise of the vagina. Moreover, as West observes, a description of the location and use of a vagina fits in well with the general silliness regarding sexual functions and erotic relationships found in the Margites. As it turns out, back in 1987 Walter Burkert also suggested that the vagina Hippolytus mentions may have come from the Margites.2 Since it seems quite probable that these three lines were once part of the Margites, should Gostoli ever revise her edition, then these lines must appear in it.

Despite this omission, Gostoli's edition and commentary on the Margites will remain the standard reference work on the poem unless there appear new papyri.


1.   M. L. West, "A Vagina in Search of an Author." Classical Quarterly 58 (2008) 370-375.
2.   W. Burkert, "Die betretene Wiese: Interpretationsprobleme im Bereich der Sexualsymbolik." In H. P. Duerr, ed., Die wilde Seele: Zur Ethnopsychoanalyse von Georges Devereux, 40-42. Frankfurt, 1987.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


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Anastasios G. Nikolaidis (ed.), The Unity of Plutarch's Work: "Moralia" Themes in the "Lives", Features of the "Lives" in the "Moralia". Millennium-Studien 19. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. Pp. xviii, 851. ISBN 9783110202496. $198.00.
Reviewed by Jan P. Stronk, Universiteit van Amsterdam

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

[The reviewer apologizes for the extreme delay in this review, which is entirely his fault.]

The subject-matter of this volume is uncommonly wide-ranging and addresses many important issues of Plutarchean scholarship: the conditions under which Plutarch's writings were separated into two distinct corpora, his methods of work and the various authorial techniques employed, the interplay between Lives and Moralia, Plutarch and politics, Plutarch and philosophy, literary aspects of Plutarch's oeuvre, Plutarch on women, Plutarch in his epistemological and socio-historical context. To achieve his goal of defining the "... moral purpose, which, after all, is what ultimately links Plutarch the essayist with Plutarch the biographer," Nikolaidis has collected fifty-five contributions, divided in eight thematic units, of which thirty-five are in English, twelve in Spanish, four in Italian, three in French, and one in German. Nearly all contributions were originally submitted to a congress with the same title as this volume, held at the University of Crete at Rethymno on 4-8 May 2005.

The separation of Plutarch's works into Moralia and Lives is a relatively new one. Most essays in this volume, however, attempt to combine works from both "collections". Due to the limited amount of space available in a review, I am, regrettably, unable to pay attention to all 55 contributions. Omitting a review is, therefore, not to be taken as an indication of disrespect for the author in question: the standard of the contributions is as might be expected in an international conference.

In the first paper (that forms the total of the first section), Geiger describes how the Byzantine monk Maximus Planudes was the first to create a separate corpus of Moralia. Once the works of Plutarch had, slowly and piecemeal, found their way to the West, the Lives found in general a more comprehensive readership -- and more appreciation -- than the more varied Moralia. This development is reflected in the number of translations of Lives and Moralia. Though Geiger refers in this respect to previous studies, I think he should nevertheless have mentioned here the names of Wilhelm Holtzmann (Xylander) and Hermannus Cruser (Cruserius).

Pordomingo Pardo focuses on the frequent use -- or rather, reuse -- of epigrams in Plutarch's works. Possibly this might be a useful tool to determine the chronology of these works, though Pordomingo Pardo fails to convince me on this point. Her work comes close to the study of apophthegmata. Apophthegmata proper are the subject of the paper by Stadter. I completely agree with Stadter's conclusion that no isolated anecdote alone reflects the information Plutarch had available to him, but that close examination of all versions is needed to reveal (part of) an image.

Apart from anecdotes and the like, another recurrent item in Plutarch's works is the use of references from Homer, according to Bréchet "...un excellent indice de la cohérence de la pensée de Plutarque" (p. 85). Nevertheless, Homer is used differently in the Moralia (where he is referred to several hundreds of times) and the Lives (with only some dozens of references). This illustrates the different functions [my emphasis, JPS] of both corpora, not a difference in concepts and views expressed. Homer serves, at the same time, as a source of education, to boost a certain level of Hellenism, and to describe the Romans as not barbarians, but nevertheless as distinctly non-Greek.

Boulet observes that throughout Plutarch's work his picture of Apollo fluctuates. He argues that Plutarch "seems to adapt various texts with a view to different listeners or readers. This variation...would account for many inconsistencies in his works" (p. 159). This paper is in many respects closely attuned to Nikolaidis's paper on Plutarch's heroes in the Moralia. Nikolaidis's view fits seamlessly with Boulet's conclusion that Plutarch "possesses the art of writing intelligent contradictions" (p. 169). Verdegem discusses the common ground of the Quaestiones Romanae and the Lives of early Romans compared to the other Roman Lives. In this study, Verdegem has to concede that Plutarch sometimes used his sources discriminately, but also that "Plutarch did not always follow the lead of his sources when he decided to elaborate upon a certain topic" (p. 177). It is an important statement that deserves further investigation.

The paper by Vicente Sánchez may well prove to introduce a promising new lead in Plutarchean studies, examining on three levels some intratextual (here defined as "la presencia efectiva de un texto en otro": p. 209) relations between a number of Lives and some of the Moralia. Here as well we may notice some points of contact, be it with a slightly different emphasis, with Nikolaidis's paper.

Capriglione concludes that the Lives show that according to Plutarch a good paideia, one provided with proper examples, can teach people how to handle their pathê. Those examples would teach πραότης, mildness, gentleness, the fundamental virtue of the philosophos. Plutarch describes the theoretical framework for a life full of arete in several of the Moralia, but he is too much a Greek ("è troppo greco" (p. 257): perhaps a little too prejudicial a description) to follow the consequences to the extreme in the Lives. There, he allows all his main characters some room for transgression, according to objective situation and social status.

Anger is the subject of Van der Stock's paper. Plutarch uses, both in several of the Lives and in De cohibenda ira, a similar, consistent, and distinct terminology concerning anger. In the end, however, being able to control anger is a quality proper to καλοκαγαθία and denotes, therefore, both social status and ethical excellence. Van Hoof deals with another vice that is discussed both in some Lives (though without a clear protagonist!) and specifically in one of the Moralia, sc. meddlesomeness (πολυπραγμοσύνη), the desire to learn other people's evils, as Plutarch defines it. Here, as well, social status plays a role: "the mob is repeatedly characterised as meddlesome" (p. 301) -- and therefore, prone to revolt. Noteworthy are the differences in emphasis in Moralia and Lives, indicating that "they are the heirs of different traditions" (p. 303).

De Blois opens section four with an essay on the "Ideal Statesman". Politics in his own days were, in Plutarch's view, inferior to, e.g., those in the days of the great lawgivers, and primarily aimed at forestalling Roman intervention. I think De Blois might well have connected Plutarch's reticence on this subject with the emerging Greek renascence, of which he was one of the protagonists, but that is only a minor detail. Also in Roskam's paper the statesman is the focus of attention. In contrast to the impression one might get from De Blois's description of how Plutarch valued politics in his own time, Roskam stresses the value Plutarch attached to political activity, notably for the philosopher. Virtue is regarded as a tool to gain fame and power: as it appears from previous remarks (e.g. 799A), these in their turn should be used to achieve τὸ καλόν. Roskam's treatment of Plutarch's apparent duplicity regarding the behaviour of the politician is, in combination with Ingenkamp's views (see Table of Contents, below), valuable for understanding the pragmatic quality of Plutarch's lessons.

A good education (already discussed by Capriglione) is the subject of Teodorsson's essay and also returns in Koulakiotis's paper later in this section. Plutarch's adamant ideas on education and its potential naturally followed the track beaten by Plato. Nevertheless, the model of the ideal statesman Plutarch paints in the Moralia is utterly unrealistic -- as Plutarch himself appears to concede. The practice is presented in various Lives: few politicians (certainly not the Romans and Laconians) had received the "Attic philosophical and rhetorical training" (p. 342) Plutarch so valued. Dillon likewise focuses on Plutarch's Platonist concept of the good ruler. As a starting point Dillon takes To an Uneducated Ruler (i.e. Ad principem inerud., JPS), where the good ruler "allows himself to be ruled in turn by divine reason ... expressed in Law" (p. 352). Dillon compares this image with the practice of Dion and Brutus. Dion faces the 'Syracusan mob' (Plutarch is no friend of democracy!), but strives for a 'mixed constitution' (in fact an oligarchy): before he succeeds he is murdered. Brutus fails as well to re-create the rule of a senatorial oligarchy "in the rough-and-tumble world of practical politics" (p. 364) and takes his own life.

Alexiou's subject is εὔνοια. He thereby connects 4th century BCE political thinking (notably that of Isokrates) with Plutarch's, but also relates to the papers by De Blois and especially Teodorsson with respect to the interplay between theory and practice. Plutarch connects eunoia with φιλανθρωπία as parts of political arete: "eine direkte Linie zwischen Tugend and Umgänglichkeit" (p. 371). In fact, it is all a matter of public relations and 'spin doctoring' in the Praecepta. As far as the behaviour of today's politicians is concerned, Alexiou's paper may hold much that is familiar, as well as much to think about: a stimulating essay.

Section 5 is devoted to Plutarch's involvement in philosophical matters. Plutarch's attitude towards Epicureanism is the subject of FitzGibbon's essay. Close investigation reveals that Plutarch used Epicureans as a foil for his own Platonist and allegedly superior views This is clearest in three anti-Epicurean tracts, but equally in the character of Cassius in the Life of Brutus. Muccioli investigates, through the figure of Phanias of Lesbos, a character in the Life of Themistocles, the relations between biography, history, and ethical philosophy. Both the Lives and the Moralia show that Plutarch adhered to a model of philosophical history indebted to Peripatetic writers and/or ideas. Both works hold an important caveat for people using Plutarch's biographies as a historical source, confirming Bosworth's conclusion of 1992 -- applicable for Verdegem's essay mentioned above as well: "And for the historian working with Plutarch there is a stark message. Heaven help you if your evidence is the Lives and the Lives alone!"1.

Leão focuses on the literature of maxims (close to the apophthegmata of Stadter's essay in section 2a). In his Septem Sapientium Convivium (N.B. Leão uses the 'u' instead of the 'v'), Plutarch treats "the seven" as if they were contemporaries of each other. Notable participants are Anacharsis (a barbarian) Neiloxenos (an Egyptian, envoy of Amasis), Aesop (an ex-slave), and Cleobouline (a woman): carefully, Plutarch introduces an image of "the other" as a potential contributor of wisdom. It is a conclusion that seems in stark contrast with the Plutarch's conclusion in the De Herodoti malignitate, which implies that foreign influences can bring no good for a Hellenic mind. I would have welcomed Leão's views on this matter. The Septem and the Life of Solon also feature in the essay by Vela Tejada, aimed at revealing the main lines of Solon's political myth. Since his wisdom, "el ideal de la moderación" (p. 506), is rooted in the tradition of the 'Seven Wise Men' (e.g., Plato's Timaeus 20d), the Septem is an essential work for our understanding of the Life of Solon.

Section six pays attention to more technical aspects of Plutarch's works. Representation, in this case by a comparison of the Pelopidas and the De Genio Socratis using a narratological approach, is the subject of Pelling's study. His paper clearly demonstrates that new approaches may yield new and promising results in Plutarchean studies. Ash's paper is likewise based on comparison, in this case of Plutarch's perception of Roman emperors and especially their entourage. It is interesting to compare Ash's paper with that of Vicente Sánchez in section 2b and, to a lesser extent, that of Pordomingo Pardo in 2a: though all use 'intratextuality', the precise method and results differ. A Plutarchean synkrisis by editor and contributors on this point might have been useful from a methodological point of view.

Section 7 opens with a paper by Marasco, discussing the peculiar and favourable position of women ("[una] tendenza naturale all' ἀρετή" (p. 663); gifted with wisdom and intelligence (ibid.)), both in Moralia and Lives. I only wonder how Marasco would value the position of Queen Parysatis in the Life of Artaxerxes, a work she does not mention. Beneker deals with Plutarch's views on the role of eros, and its seemliness, between husband and wife, mainly using the Amatorius and two of the Lives, sc. those of Brutus and Pompey. The Amatorius -- she uses its Greek name Erotikos -- is the starting point for the study by Tsouvala as well: she argues that Plutarch ultimately promotes a heterosexual relationship based on marriage, adducing inter alia the rape of the Sabine women in the Life of Romulus. Marriage is a prime tool for achieving social cohesion.

The final section is opened by Boulogne. He discusses forty-odd scientific digressions, sc. digressions regarding theories explaining natural phenomena, in the Lives in order to explore Plutarch's aims in writing as well as the mechanics of his thinking ("la pensée [sc. de Plutarque]", p. 747). The indebtedness of Plutarch to Aristotle and his theory of natural reproduction, specifically Aristotle's view of deformity, is the subject of Plese's essay. The way Plutarch appropriated Aristotle's ideas, by means of an 'intertext' and a 'paradigm' (Plese uses a passage from the De Iside to elucidate), makes clear as well how he must have approached Plato's works. Also from the De Iside comes one of the two passages (the other is from the Quaestio convivalis) that Volpe Cacciatore confronts with each other in order to investigate Plutarch's vegetarianism, finally quoting Bruno, that "... ogni cosa ha la divinityà latente in sé (everything has the divinity hidden in itself)" (p. 789).

If Plutarch expresses more or less identical or at least complementary views throughout Moralia and Lives, as it is this volume's basic aim to demonstrate, that does not apply to Plutarch's views regarding Crete, argue Francis and Harrison. The image of Crete that emerges from the Lives is static and dated, but in the Moralia we find indications that Plutarch wrote on Crete in these works from autoptic knowledge, acquired during a stay for a 'considerable time (χρόνον συχνὸν)' (see p. 793). The multidisciplinary approach of these contributors is a particular asset in their paper. A geographical component is also present in Schrader's essay on Plutarch's position with respect to a problem regarding the (southern) limit of the Persian fleet according to the (alleged?) Treaty of Callias of 449 BCE. In historiography two such lines of demarcation figure, sc. Phaselis and the Chelidonian Islands, situated some 55 km South of Phaselis. Plutarch opts for the latter location -- in fact following a secondary tradition -- based on an inscription collected by Craterus the Macedonian. It should be mentioned, however, that Schrader's reference (FGrHist 342 F.12) is faulty: the correct reference should be FGrHist 342 F. 13.5 = Plutarch, Cimon 13.4-5.

As may have become clear, the volume under scrutiny is an impressive collection, which no one working in the field of Plutarchean studies can allow himself (or herself) to pass over. For me the real core of the volume lies in Chapters 2 through 5 but all the contributions challenge the reader to reinvestigate his (or her) Plutarch time and again and Nikolaidis deserves a warm compliment for his efforts. Of course, the volume is not flawless: there are some typos (though a surprisingly small number for the size of the volume), there is no strict consistency in the writing of names (e.g., sometimes Alcibiades, sometimes Alkibiades) and, sometimes annoyingly, in the works of Plutarch himself (e.g., sometimes Amatorius, sometimes Erotikos). I think the editor should have maintained a stricter uniformity in this respect. Though I normally favour a central bibliography, in this case the separate bibliographies are to be preferred. The indices are, though not exhaustive, good and usable. I have worked intensively through this volume from cover to cover and in the process the book has had to suffer quite a lot. Nevertheless, its condition is still fine, indicating how well this volume was produced, unfortunately at a price that makes it nearly inaccessible to private readers.

Table of Contents:

Introduction (p. XIII)

Section 1: The Formation of Plutarch's Corpus: Synopsis (p. 3); Joseph Geiger, 'Lives and Moralia: How Were Put Asunder What Plutarch Hath Joined Together' (p. 5).

Section 2: Plutarch's Methods of Work: Synopsis (p. 15).

Subsection 2a: How Plutarch deals with other genres: José Antonio Fernández Delgado, 'On the Problematic Classification of Some Rhetorical Elements in Plutarch (p. 23); Francisca Pordomingo Pardo, 'La reutilización de citas de epigramas: una manifestación del diálogo intratextual en el corpus plutarqueo' (p. 33); Philip A. Stadter, 'Notes and Anecdotes: Observations on Cross-Genre Apophthegmata' (p. 53); Craig Cooper, 'The Moral Interplay Between Plutarch's Political Precepts and Life of Demosthenes' (p. 67); Christophe Bréchet, 'Grecs, Macédoniens et Romains au <<test>> d'Homère. Référence homérique et hellénisme chez Plutarque' (p. 85); Diotima Papadi, 'Moralia in the Lives: Tragedy and Theatrical Imagery in Plutarch's Pompey' (p. 111); Peter Liddel, 'Scholarship and Morality: Plutarch's Use of Inscriptions' (p. 125);

Subsection 2b: Other authorial techniques: Ewen Bowie, 'Plutarch's Habits of Citation: Aspects of Difference' (p. 143); Bernard Boulet, 'Why Does Plutarch's Apollo Have Many Faces?' (p. 159); Simon Verdegem, 'Plutarch's Quaestiones Romanae and his Lives of Early Romans' (p. 171); Timothy E. Duff, 'How Lives Begin' (p. 187); Ana Vicente Sánchez, 'Plutarco compositor de Vitae y Moralia: análisis intratextual' (p. 209); Anastasios G. Nikolaidis, 'Plutarch's Heroes in the Moralia: a Matter of Variatio or Another (More Genuine) Outlook?' (p. 219).

Section 3: Moralia in Vitis: Synopsis (p. 235); Frederick E. Brenk, 'Setting a Good Exemplum. Case Studies in the Moralia, the Lives as Case Studies' (p. 237); Jolanda Capriglione, 'Sempre in bilico tra vizi e virtù' (p. 255); Heinz Gerd Ingenkamp, 'Moralia in the Lives: The Charge of Rashness in Pelopidas/Marcellus' (p. 263); Frances B. Titchener, 'Is Plutarch's Nicias Devout, Superstitious, or Both?' (p. 277); Luc Van der Stockt, 'Self-esteem and Image-building. On Anger in De cohibenda ira and in Some Lives' (p. 285); Lieve Van Hoof, 'Genres and Their Implications: Meddlesomeness in On Curiosity versus the Lives' (p. 297).

Section 4: Plutarch and Politics: Synopsis (p. 313); Lukas de Blois, 'The Ideal Statesman: A Commonplace in Plutarch's Political Treatises, His Solon, and His Lycurgus' (p. 317); Geert Roskam, 'Two Roads to Politics. Plutarch on the Statesman's Entry in Political Life' (p. 325); Sven-Tage Teodorsson, 'The Education of Rulers in Theory (Mor.) and Practice (Vitae)' (p. 339); John Dillon, 'Dion and Brutus: Philosopher Kings Adrift in a Hostile World' (p. 351); Evangelos Alexiou, 'Eunoia bei Plutarch: von den Praecepta Gerendae Reipublicae zu den Viten' (p. 365); Manuel Tröster, 'Struggling with the Plêthos: Politics and Military Leadership in Plutarch's Life of Lucullus' (p. 387); Elias Koulakiotis, 'Greek Lawgivers in Plutarch: A comparison Between the Biographical Lycurgus and the Rhetorical Alexander' (p. 403).

Section 5: Plutarch and Philosophy: Synopsis (p. 425); Benoît Castelnérac, 'Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus and the Philosophical Use of Discourse' (p. 429); Patricia M. FitzGibbon, 'Boethus and Cassius: Two Epicureans in Plutarch' (p. 445); Federicomaria Muccioli, '<<Fania di Lesbo, un filosofo e assai esperto di ricerca storica>> (Plut., Them., 13, 5). Plutarco e i rapporti tra biografia, storia e filosofia etica' (p. 461); Delfim F. Leão, 'Plutarch and the Character of the Sapiens' (p. 481); Jackson P. Hershbell, 'Plutarch on Solon and Sophia' (p. 489); José Vela Tejada, 'El Banquete de los Siete Sabios y la Vida de Solón de Plutarco: mito político y contexto literario' (p. 501); Inés Calero Secall, 'Las Vidas frente a los Moralia en las alusiones plutarqueas sobre Solón' (p. 515).

Section 6: Literary Aspects of Plutarch's oeuvre: Synopsis (p. 535); Christopher Pelling, 'Parallel Narratives: the Liberation of Thebes in De Genio Socratis and in Pelopidas' (p. 539); Rhiannon Ash, 'Standing in the Shadows: Plutarch and the Emperors in the Lives and Moralia' (p. 557); Alain Billault, 'Plutarque et la scène du banquet' (p. 577); Aurelio Pérez Jiménez, 'El trofeo de Maratón: Adaptación y desarrollo de un tópico ético en Plutarco' (p. 591); Vicente Ramón Palerm, 'Recursos humorísticos en la obra de Plutarco' (p. 601); Marietta Horster, 'Some Notes on Grammarians in Plutarch' (p. 611); Mónica Durán Mañas, 'La dinastía de los Ptolomeos en Plutarco: etopeya de los personajes' (p. 625); Rafael J. Gallé Cejudo, 'Plutarco y la elegía helenística' (p. 637); Roosevelt Araújo Da Rocha Júnior, 'Plutarch and the Music' (p. 651).

Section 7: Women, Eros, Marriage, and Parenthood in Plutarch: Synopsis (p. 659); Gabriele Marasco, 'Donne, cultura e società nelle Vite Parallele di Plutarco' (p. 663); Dámaris Romero González, 'El prototipo de mujer espartana en Plutarco' (p. 679); Jeffrey Beneker, 'Plutarch on the Role of Eros in a Marriage' (p. 689); Georgia Tsouvala, 'Integrating Marriage and Homonoia' (p. 701); Carmen Soares, 'Parent-Child Affection and Social Relationships in Plutarch: Common Elements in Consolatio ad uxorem and Vitae' (p. 719).

Section 8: Plutarch in his Epistemological and Socio-Historical Context: Synopsis (p. 731); Jacques Boulogne, 'Les digressions scientifiques dans les Vies de Plutarque' (p. 733); Rosa Ma Aguilar, 'Pharmakon en Plutarco' (p. 751); Zlatko Plese, 'Deformity (anapêria): Plutarch's Views of Reproduction and Imperfect Generation in the Moralia and Lives' (p. 773); Paola Volpe Cacciatore, 'Due testi a confronto: De Iside 352F-353E - Quaestio convivalis VIII, 8 728C-730F' (p. 785); George W. M. Harrison and Jane Francis, 'Plutarch in Crete' (p. 791); Carlos Schrader, 'Plutarco (Cim. 13, 4) y las islas Quelidonias' (p. 805); Israel Muñoz Gallarte, 'El judaísmo en las Vitae y Moralia de Plutarco' (p. 815).

List of Contributors (p. 831)
A Selective Index of Keywords and Topics (p. 833)
Ancient Author Index (p. 845)
Proper Names Index (p. 849).


1.   A. B. Bosworth, 'History and Artifice in Plutarch's Eumenes', in: P.A. Stadter (ed), Plutarch and the Historical Tradition, London 1992, 56-80: 80.

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Victoria Rimell, Martial's Rome: Empire and the Ideology of Epigram. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. viii, 231. ISBN 9780521828222. $99.00.
Reviewed by John Alexander Lobur, University of Mississippi

Table of Contents

[The reviewer apologizes to the author and the press for the lateness of this review.]

Ideology is a slippery yet indispensable concept for understanding the role of ideation in the formation, interaction and interdependence of social, cultural and political constructs. Focusing on the role of literary production in the Roman imperial system can lead to fuller understandings of that system's cohesiveness, the sense of legitimacy it engenders and success. The role of epigram, and more specifically the evidence of Martial, can be particularly illuminating, inasmuch as the genre is politically loaded.1 Moreover, there is something self-consciously imperial and Roman about the universalizing miscellany of Martial's collection that attempts to capture everything it touches in perfectly crafted turns of phrase, reflecting an the inclination for expressing things in sententiae that very much grew in popularity (and not accidentally) in the early imperial period. Judging from the title of Victoria Rimell's book, one might expect the concept of ideology to be at the core of her study. This is not the case, as her work demonstrates no critical familiarity with the term, does not use it to flesh out any line of inquiry, and is primarily literary in scope.

This book comes closely after William Fitzgerald's realignment of Martial's oeuvre that stresses the interaction and reception of the book(s) of epigrams with (and within) a field of literary production as it is presented by the collection itself.2 While there is some overlap in the material covered, the vision of Rimell's work is different, particularly with respect to Martial's relationship to prior, and especially Augustan poetics. A preoccupation with allusion and intertext tends to predominate.

Rimell begins by outlining Martial's self-conscious literary strategy. In presenting several collections of poems individually diminutive in scope and prestige, the poet intends to surpass epic predecessors like Silius Italicus and Valerius Flaccus. Moreover, the collection in its multiplicity of individual units, presents a variety of standpoints that "rub shoulders" and so imitates the turba of the urbs. At the core of Rimell's argument is the notion that in each book, Martial "pressures various kinds of boundary policing and collapse," and that the dynamic core of this phenomenon is the fact that "social and literary activity/interpretation overlap and infiltrate one another, so that we must talk about the sociality of the poetic book, and the poetics of the textual city" (pp. 12-13). While attention to this conceptual slippage enriches one's appreciation of the text, this reviewer feels that from time to time a little more restraint could have been shown, both with regard to the allusions and intertexts assumed, as well as with the implications drawn therefrom.3

In the first chapter of her book, Rimell explores the imagery of bodies, contact, contagion and the interpenetration of social boundaries in public places and the like, confining herself to Book 1. Concerns with sexual and non-sexual bodily contact in the text conceptually slip into metaphorical notions of contact between author, subject (or target), reader and reciter (or plagiarist). Rimell also utilizes the metaphor to explore how words and potential readings in one poem "infect" the interpretations of others, providing a new take on the well-trodden discussion of juxtaposition and variatio in the oeuvre. Martial's famous epigram 1.16, declaring that a collection of epigrams can only come together through a collection of good and bad poems is related to the nearby 1.18, where Martial complains that Tucca destroys his Falernian by mixing it with Vatican must. Rimell then relates this to other poems in book one concerning, in a very broad--perhaps too broad--sense, mixtures, drinking and comparisons in general, and potential complications of their intertextual antecedents. Rimell demonstrates that particular readings and interpretive carryovers from one poem to others are tempting, and perhaps deliberately invited, but unstable and potentially contradictory. Contrary to scholarly attempts to divine thematic or structural order (however complicated), Rimell concludes that "the interplay of ideas, poems, imagery and vocabulary in Martial often fails to add up to a comforting sense of wholeness and artistic rationale. . . Martial's project takes the difference-in-sameness of variatio and pushes it to . . . muddling extremes" (p. 50).

Chapter two centers around the concept of death in epigram (tying into its epigraphical and funerary roots), the related concepts of the persistence and decay of memorialization, and "the web of associations between writing poetry and (transcending) death in Roman culture" (p. 57). Epigram, paradoxically, is rooted in monumentalization and the poet's desire for literary immortality, yet represents itself as tossed off and not to be taken seriously. Rimell then investigates the problematic nature of book 10 (edited after Domitian's death), especially the extensively envisioned intertextual possibilities of the opening poem, as well as those between 10.5 (cursing someone circulating slanderous verses in his name against an undisclosed target) and Ovid's Ibis. The intertext of Ovidian exile then receives attention, especially with regard to 10.104, where the poet considers returning to Bilbilis after 30 years in Rome. The chapter shifts to a discussion of the freezing and preserving qualities of amber as a metaphor for epigram (e.g. 4.32, 59) then the complex imagery of water as liquid and solid. Rimell concludes by looking at the intertextuality of 1.88 (a poem to Martial's deceased slave Alcimus), and claims rather boldly (though not atypically) that the poet: "bends into these trim ten lines the whole of Roman history and Augustan poetry, from the beginnings of Aeneas' voyage to Italy and the epic Aeneid to Ovid's. . . letters from exile, while also . . . warping the initial seductions and the thrilling new Augustan city of . . . the Ars Amatoria."

Chapter three explores the nature of number and calculation, especially with regard to the materialistic underbelly of social reciprocity that Martial lays bare with such glee. It then turns to the Flavian amphitheater and the complex associations between ideas of empire, the representational totality of the crowd in attendance, the synecdochic notions of one and/for many, as well as the effacement of Nero's Golden house, where Rimell suggests an overcomplication of Flavian propaganda just shy of subversion. The chapter concludes with a lengthy section on book two, "where Martial begins to count. Its where one becomes two, where unus liber begins to grow into the turba . . ." This final section covers a range of numeric notions such as one-ness and two-ness, along with its intertextual play.

Chapter 4 takes the dominant Saturnalian mood of the epigrams to structure investigations thematically informed by inversion and license. The Xenia (book 13) are a collection of epigrams purporting to accompany gifts, and Rimell primarily looks at how these poems reflect the relationship between Martial's oeuvre and the world through what they say about exchange and food. The final section deals with book 11, published on Nerva's succession, where, it is argued, the poet pushes the envelope of Saturnalian license and obscenity while remaining anxious about his position and opportunities at a time of political transition. The main intertextual theme engages the politically recalcitrant Catullus.

The last chapter (perhaps the most successful), explores the spatial dynamics and ramifications of Martial's epigram in an empire more Romanized than ever before; his portable books are thumbed everywhere. Rimell picks up on and complicates Fitzgerald's thesis that the poet reverses the direction of Ovid's exile poetry, and extends it to posit a commentary on the theme of exile in Latin tradition and literature writ large. The world is smaller due to Rome's civilizing process and this plays into epigram's "magnifying/miniaturization project." The sense of separation between rus and urbs, center and periphery, becomes blurred as epigram itself "becomes" Rome.

Rimell's study is sophisticated, yet much of the time the reader feels a bit dizzied by the swarm of references and allusions posited and the conclusions drawn from them. While good poetry--and especially a large collection of poems that interacts with a long established poetic canon--invites the reader to identify and investigate intra- and extra-textual dynamics, one cannot help but feel that R tends to be too sensitive in detecting these things (though this is not always the case).4 Martial's collection is admittedly complicated, and at times contradictory in an interpretive sense, yet the picture Rimell paints of this complexity, especially in rejecting the larger structures other scholars see in the work, could be due to the impressive familiarity Rimell possesses, both with Martial's work and the canon it engages, tempered with too little restraint. In addition, the work meanders a bit and could be more tightly written.5 Rimell also makes the claim (p. 14) "I am interested in the fundamental question of why exactly Martial chose to write epigram and (apparently) epigram alone." One wishes this line of inquiry received more attention and resolution.

There are very few misprints or errors of the editorial type.6


1.   Eg. Suet. Tib. 59.
2.   Fitzgerald, W. Martial and the World of Epigram, Chicago, 2007. For reviews, see 2007.12.08 and 2008.01.23.
3.   For the limits of intertextuality, see Hinds, S. Allusion and Intertext, Cambridge, 1998 pp. 47-51. While Rimell does not go so far as to "wish the alluding author out of existence altogether," she does tend to privilege readerly reception (her own) to an extent that does not inspire confidence.
4.   E.g. On p. 49 Rimell takes issue with numerous recent attempts to make order of variatio "in terms of 'thematic structures', 'intricate designs', 'cycles' and 'interacting motifs', which unify or set the 'tone' for a book." To cite two representative examples of interpretive excess, p. 59ff. attempts to draw intertextual parallels about poets achieving immortality and thus "flying through the air," (a well worn trope) and Martial's description, in the De Spectaculis of dangerous animals in the arena tossing things through the air; on pp. 157-9 the author explores the contradiction between the Saturnalian prohibition on war and punishment and her assertion that "many of the foods on offer in the Xenia come tagged with hints of torture and violence. . . "
5.   E.g. one reads on p. 75 (with reference to the intertext between 10.5 and Ovid's Ibis) words such as "Of course, the case [Rimell's own] is weak and unconvincing: time to move on," only to devote more time on it: "But before we do. . . "
6.   E.g. p. 31 "Cestos" should be "Cestus;" on p. 75 the English translation for the Latin is lacking; p. 121 n. 56 "fulmina" should be "flumina;" there is a misspelling of the Greek on p. 149.

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Margarethe Billerbeck, Mario Somazzi, Repertorium der Konjekturen in den Seneca-Tragödien. Mnemosyne Supplements 316. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2009. Pp. viii, 291. ISBN 9789004177345. $138.00.
Reviewed by John G. Fitch, University of Victoria

Seneca Tragicus now joins the very small number of authors who have a book devoted to listing conjectures on their text: one thinks of R.D. Dawe's Repertory of Conjectures on Aeschylus (1965) and W.R. Smyth's Thesaurus Criticus ad Sexti Propertii Textum (1970: one of the earliest Mnemosyne supplements, at number 12). Billerbeck and Somazzi aim to collect systematically those conjectures recorded over the past four centuries, beginning with the second edition (1619-20) of Delrius' Syntagma Tragoediae Latinae. However, they also include much material from the earlier editions: two appendices investigate the editions of Ascensius (1514) and Avantius (1517) and their relationship to other early editions and to the recentiores.

The Repertorium lists some 10,000 conjectures. This figure indicates the scale of the task which Billerbeck and Somazzi have undertaken. It is also an index of the sheer volume of scholarly industry on these texts over many centuries. Only a very few of the 10,000 conjectures, of course, have any chance of winning general acceptance or appearing in the text of a critical edition. If conjecture were an independent activity aimed solely at correcting the text, like the work of a police detective solving crimes, one would have to conclude that it is a low-yield pursuit. But in fact conjecture is only one outcome of the whole philological enterprise, of intensive engagement with all aspects of a text including word choice, style, metrics and so on.

One purpose of such a repertory is to attribute conjectures correctly to their first proponents. This salutary process can have uncomfortable consequences. Both Zwierlein and I are divested of several of our conjectures by earlier critics;1 in weaker moments one entertains suspicions of "anticipatory plagiarism", in Mark Golden's delightful phrase. Usually Billerbeck and Somazzi list the first proponent and ignore any repetition, but occasionally diverge from that policy;2 sometimes one can surmise the reason, but a word of explanation would have been helpful.

Another function of a repertory is to enable scholars puzzling over a passage to consider the whole range of existing conjectures. Negatively, this enables them to avoid repeating conjectures or making inferior conjectures of their own. Positively, the process of emendation is often a collaborative one, in which one critic's proposal is refined by later critics, or serves as inspiration for them. Many instances can be found in Repertorium: at Pha. 596, for example, Axelson's admovimus (for the transmitted amavimus) was improved by Watt to iam movimus, which fits the context well while providing an explanation of the corruption (omission of m through haplography or abbreviation).

One useful feature of Repertorium is to identify those conjectures which are "contra metrum" and therefore automatically disqualified: a warning to readers not to consider the conjectures in question, and a reminder to future emenders to ensure that their conjectures scan. Such a reminder should hardly be necessary, but the point is sometimes overlooked, notably by the prolific Giardina.

Billerbeck and Somazzi claim to record not only conjectures but also "punctuation decisive for the interpretation of the text" (4). This is of course an impossible promise, given the variety of editors' usage. In fact Repertorium restricts itself largely to noting question-marks, but even then not consistently (e.g. my own at Oct.448 is missed). Surely we need an amnesty in this regard, since there is after all no question of restoring an 'original' punctuation, and punctuation marks mean different things in different centuries. Editors should simply punctuate as best reflects their understanding of the text, and changes in punctuation need not be attributed unless they radically alter the sense.

Completeness and accuracy are major desiderata for such a repertory, and Billerbeck and Somazzi score well on these counts.3 They have sought out obscure and inaccessible sources, such as the handwritten materials left by Hoffa and Düring, both killed in the 1914-18 war. Of course they are not perfect. As my mortification for the day, I checked Bothe's Annotationes to HO in his 1819 edition, and found three conjectures omitted in Repertorium, in contrast to some 110 recorded and many others set aside as pre-empted.4 My purpose here is not to take the compilers to task; scholars are no more immune from errors than the scribes whose mistakes they attempt to correct. But it would be nice to have some mechanism for correcting errors and omissions as they are noticed.

That leads me to the issue of electronic publishing. In the 21st century it seems almost quixotic to publish a database (which is what Repertorium is) in book form. An electronic format would allow the user to search the collection, for example by scholar, by type of conjecture (lacuna, transposition), by Latin word or phrase, and so on. It would also allow the compilers, or later collaborators, to correct and augment the database, and above all to update it periodically as new conjectures are made, whereas a printed book freezes the database at an arbitrary point in time.

An electronic format would also make it possible to include advocacy or refutation of an original conjecture by subsequent critics, or their unwitting repetition of it. Such discussions can be as valuable as the conjecture itself. For example, Bentley's numerous conjectures were made simply as marginal notes in his copy of Gronovius, with no more than an occasional citation of a parallel passage; explanations and justifications by later scholars can be invaluable. The possibilities for including such material are shown by the design of Monika Asztalos' electronic Repertory of Conjectures on Horace, currently in progress.

Of course these possibilities are not lost for Seneca's tragedies by the publication of the Repertorium. In the first place, Repertorium itself must surely exist in electronic form, which would serve as a basis for the kind of database I envisage. Second, Billerbeck and Somazzi must have a card index, or indeed an electronic database, of countless discussions which they eliminated from the book on the principle of listing only the first proponent of a conjecture. It would be a great service to future critics if they could make this further material available electronically -- or (since they are deservedly emeriti of this project) if they could find collaborators who would do so. They have given us a "possession forever", but one which can never be complete, and which would be even more valuable if it could grow with the years.


1.  Zwierlein's cometen at Oct. 232 was anticipated by Viansino, and some of his other conjectures were made by Peiper: Ag. 819 (lacuna), HO 1598 et, Oct. 262 illos, Oct. 501alto. I lose Tro. 965b-66 (attribution to Andromache) to Peiper; Ag. 810 educans to Viansino; HO 1221 specus to Bentley; HO 1402vae to Richter.
2.  We find Peiper 1867 credited with attribution of Herc. 1032-34 to Amphitryon, but "praeeunte H. Weil ... 1865"; perhaps the point is that Weil much later discarded the idea. Often the earlier source cited is one of the Renaissance editions, eg. Med. 161 "nusquam Viansino (1965) (praeeunte Ed. Caietani [1493]):" perhaps such entries the possibility that the original source of the reading was one of the recentiores.
3.  I noticed very few errors, though I have not searched diligently. At Med. 64 the proponent of a lacuna was Peiper rather than Richter. At Pha. 594 sata is not what Trevet read, but is Heinsius' conjecture, mindlessly inserted into Trevet's commentary by his editor Chiabò.
4.  HO 576 nitentes ... vestes "secundum vett. edd."; 1012 exstitit; 1819 regno ut iacent. Other omissions that happened to catch my eye: Pha. 326 harena Zwierlein; Ag. 210 caede for morte uncertainly Fitch, Annaeana 158; Thy. 467 ducenda or tangenda Bentley (according to Hedicke); HO 998 and 1167 del. Axelson, Korruptelenkult 10. (When lines are omitted by E (as are these HO lines) or A, Repertorium sometimes does not record who first regarded them as spurious. This seems to me a mistake: such lines are often agreed to be genuine, so the decision to delete is not automatic, but a matter of judgement.)

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Version at BMCR home site
John Schafer, Ars Didactica: Seneca's 94th and 95th Letters. Hypomnemata Bd. 181. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009. Pp. 125. ISBN 9783525252918. €39.90.
Reviewed by Ioannis Deligiannis, Research Centre for Greek and Latin Literature of the Academy of Athens, Greece

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

In this monograph, a revised version of his Ph.D. dissertation, John Schafer has produced a deep and thorough analysis and interpretation of Letters 94 and 95 of Seneca's Epistulae Morales. He is taking the recent scholarship a step further, introducing an innovative theory -- though his results may not be wholeheartedly welcome or even accepted -- and providing inspiration for future research and analogous interpretations of and approaches to Senecan texts.

In his introduction (Chapter One) Schafer places his work within the relatively recent revival of interest in Seneca and Stoicism, explains the two major terms used in Letters 94 and 95 and continuously repeated throughout his monograph, decreta and praecepta, or technical/doctrinal and non-technical/non-doctrinal methods of moral guidance respectively, and how representatives of early Stoicism (Aristo of Chios, Cleanthes) interpreted and used these terms. He then delineates how his work contributes to the understanding of the two letters and how Seneca used the two terms in them.

In Chapter Two Schafer provides a very detailed presentation of Letters 94 and 95; yet he does not simply cite a dry translation of their content, but follows Seneca's structured argumentation point by point and vividly illustrates how the Latin philosopher does not only respond to and refute Aristo's arguments on praecepta, but also makes some positive remarks on the role of precept-giving in moral life (Letter 94). Schafer then moves on to Letter 95 and, following its structure, demonstrates how Seneca gradually proves that praecepta are not by themselves enough for moral guidance, which can benefit from decreta as well. The way in which Schafer has portrayed both the structure and content of the two Letters contributes to better understanding of where Seneca stands on the role of norms of action and philosophical doctrines in moral improvement.

This understanding is facilitated even further by Schafer's outlining the historical background behind the terms praecepta and decreta (Chapter Three). After criticizing those who consider Letter 94 as a testimonium to Aristo's ideas and early Stoic theories, he gives a short description of the development of Stoic doctrines, starting off with Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, following the debates that led to the school's development (e.g., those between Aristo and Cleanthes or Chrysippus), stating the major similarities and (mostly) differences between the mainstream Stoics and Aristo, a rather extreme and marginal figure, and showing how Cicero attested to Stoic doctrines in his work. The chapter closes with the relationships among Aristo, Seneca, and Letter 94.

In Chapter Four Schafer studies the role of rules, if they even existed as such in Stoic philosophy and ethics; after critically approaching the recent scholarship on the issue,1 he makes some introductory remarks on rules in connection with the possible system of Stoic ethics: he attempts to answer to three basic questions (the definition of the term "rule", the various kinds of rules and what it means to follow a rule). He then applies them to Stoicism and shows how the doctrines of this school define deliberation; he elaborates on the terms kathekon and oikeiosis, and comments on recent scholarship,2 partly agreeing with it and partly pointing to the gaps its interpretations show. Seneca's Letters 94 and 95 are then placed within this context: Schafer examines how or even whether these letters intersect with the aspects examined previously in this chapter, concluding that Letter 94 has little to do with kathekon, since precepts cannot have any theoretical weight and cannot form a standard and official set of rules, while Letter 95 simply confirms these points. So, in his conclusion, Schafer clarifies that praecepta cannot be taken as a system of rules for correct moral action, but rather as an educational method, while decreta should be considered as teaching philosophical doctrines in general, and not as high-level moral principles. Schafer claims that his interpretation provides answers to questions that arise from Seneca's letters and have remained unanswered in previous scholarship. He finally states that for Seneca what matters more is the activity of precept-giving than the precepts themselves that lead to moral improvement, and that his Letters are not meant to determine the kathekonta of the Stoic theory.

While in the preceding chapters Schafer has given some taste of his interpretation of Letters 94 and 95, it is only in Chapters Five and Six that he provides a full account of it. According to it, the two Letters are not about the role of rules in Stoic ethics, but they are a treatise on moral education and a defence of Seneca's own praxis as a moral guide and as a teacher of philosophy. In supporting this, Schafer believes that the two Letters must be read in the context of Seneca's Epistulae as a whole, that is why he examines the sequence of the Letters, proving that there is a gradual passing from the practical pieces of advice in the first letters to the philosophical maturation of Lucilius, the recipient of them, in the second half of the corpus. Schafer also takes into consideration the relationship between Seneca and his pupil/friend (a mutual teaching-learning relationship) and he perceives the whole corpus of the Epistulae as an exemplum of philosophical friendship and moral reform, while the letters are an attempt of one of the two to benefit the other. This beneficial attempt is proven by Lucilius' progress which is attested in the Letters; deriving all the material he needs from Seneca's Letters, he provides some biographical information about Lucilius as well as on his intellectual achievements and moral progress (shown in the frequency and sophistication of Lucilius' questions to Seneca). Schafer then concludes that Letters 94 and 95 are addressed to someone who has completed the technical side of instruction and is already an advanced and highly sophisticated recipient; to prove this, he considers the length of the two letters, their thematic unity, and lack of epistolary connections, concluding that they are the most treatise-like of and the least similar to the other letters of the collection; the two letters are actually about how to read the entire collection). He insists that in these two letters Seneca addresses Lucilius not as a student any longer, but as a philosopher and a teacher himself.

In Chapter Six Schafer's analysis of the pair of letters under discussion gets more detailed, as he combines in it what Seneca writes in them with references to other letters in his collection; he explains what praecepta and decreta are and their role in moral guidance. More interesting than this recycling of information and interpretation is Schafer's reading of the way Seneca destabilizes the distinction of praecepta and decreta in these two letters (especially in 94), and through a gradual argumentation eventually brings the two notions closer until they ultimately converge into a unified conception of philosophy.

The monograph closes with a short conclusion about the results of Schafer's research, and his contribution to the restoration of Seneca as an author and philosophical teacher, as well as to the evidence for early Stoicism. This is followed by a rather limited bibliography, the necessary acknowledgements, and two indices -- one of proper names and philosophical terms, and another of passages cited in the book.

Schafer's book is obviously addressed to readers familiar with Seneca's Epistulae Morales (the general remarks on Stoicism definitely help non-specialists place the Senecan work in the right context) and certainly with good knowledge of Latin; since there are many quotations in the original language, it would be helpful (not to say useful) for understanding Seneca's as well as Schafer's arguments to include an English translation. Appearance-wise, there are many footnotes, too long to be presented as such; besides, the content of some of them could well have been incorporated into the text without causing any harm to it or the development of the argumentation.

Despite these two observations, Schafer's book should be considered a valuable contribution to the investigation of Senecan and Stoic thought in general and to the interpretation of Seneca's interest in pedagogy and philosophy and in philosophical pedagogy. Based on primary sources, it illuminates the way Seneca comprehends moral education and guidance, mutual friendship and self-improvement. It also sheds light on misconceptions and interpretative gaps in the study of early Stoicism. Overall, Schafer's work will prove beneficial to a new reading of Seneca's Epistulae as a whole and hopefully it will lead the way to a better understanding of them and Seneca as an author and a philosopher.


1. Introduction
1.1. Background and Aims
1.2. Conspectus of the Work
2. Letters 94 and 95: a map
2.1. General
2.2. Letter 94
2.3. Letter 95
3. Historical Background: Aristo of Chios and Other Stoics
3.1. Introduction
3.2. The Early Stoic Debate
3.3. Aristo, Seneca, and Letter 94
4. Rules?
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Recent Scholarship
4.3. Initial Remarks on Rules
4.4. Deliberation in Stoicism
4.5. Letters 94 and 95
4.6. Conclusions
5. Contextualizations
5.1. The Context of the Epistulae Morales
5.2. Tracing the Progress of Lucilius
5.3. Letters 94 and 95 in Context
5.4. Why This Debate?
5.5. Summary
6. Education
6.1. Praecepta
6.2. Decreta
6.3. Praecepta and Decreta: Destabilization and Convergence
6.4. Summary
7. Conclusion


1.   Inwood, B. (1999) 'Rules and Reasoning in Stoic Ethics' in Ierodiakonou, K. (ed.) Topics in Stoic Philosophy, Oxford, 95-127; Mitsis, P. (1993) 'Seneca on Reason, Rules, and Moral Development' in Brunschwig and Nussbaum (eds.) Passions and Perceptions, Cambridge, 285-312; Annas, J. (1993) The Morality of Happiness, Oxford.
2.   Brennan, T. (2005) The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties & Fate, Oxford; Barney, R. (2003) 'A Puzzle in Stoic Ethics' Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 24, 303-340.

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Monday, May 24, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Ghislaine Jay-Robert, L'invention comique: enquête sur la poétique d'Aristophane. Franche-Comté: Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2009. Pp. 171. ISBN 9782848672632. €18.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Malika Bastin-Hammou, Université Stendhal - Grenoble III

[La table des matières est donnée à la fin de ce compte-rendu.]

Ghislaine Jay-Robert propose dans cet ouvrage court (170 pages) mais ambitieux une interprétation d'Aristophane qui tente de réconcilier les tenants d'une lecture littéraire de son oeuvre avec ceux qui prônent une compréhension globale de son théâtre comme performance rituelle. Le livre est composé d'une introduction, de trois parties et d'une conclusion suivie d'une bibliographie. La très brève introduction (2 pages) expose clairement la thèse développée dans le livre. Il s'agit de révéler chez Aristophane une "poétique de l'écart", de l'ironie et de la mise à distance ayant pour visée une dénonciation de l'illusion et du masque. Cette poétique passe par la confrontation, sur la scène comique, de types d'espaces, de langages, de personnages qui devraient être "logiquement" distincts. En les confrontant, le poète crée de la rupture, du décalage qui sont selon Jay-Robert caractéristiques de son oeuvre. Les trois parties développent les trois modes de confrontation annoncés dans l'introduction. La première est consacrée à la "Manipulation scénique de l'espace" (42 pages), la deuxième à la "Construction d'une typologie des personnages" (52 pages) et la troisième à la "Construction d'un langage scénique" (41 pages). La conclusion (4 pages) réaffirme la dimension délibérément réflexive de la comédie ancienne, son "positionnement littéraire et philosophique" qui se confond, pour Jay-Robert, avec le rituel dont elle est issue. Aristophane met ainsi à distance aussi bien le monde réel que son propre théâtre, qu'il montre en train de se faire. La bibliographie témoigne d'une très bonne connaissance des ouvrages en langue française relatifs au sujet, y compris les plus récents, ce qui mérite d'être salué. Si la bibliographie en langues étrangères est parfois lacunaire et les références aux sciences humaines et sociales un peu datées, cela ne nuit guère à la qualité de la démonstration : à partir de ces quelques références très bien maîtrisées, Jay-Robert élabore une analyse personnelle, précise, et réellement convaincante de l'oeuvre d'Aristophane. Rédigé dans un style clair et accessible, ce livre constitue donc une bonne introduction au théâtre d'Aristophane en même temps qu'il en propose une interprétation minutieusement argumentée. Mais c'est dans le détail de certaines analyses que ce livre apporte réellement des perspectives nouvelles sur le fonctionnement du genre comique.

Partant de l'analyse du terme "trugédie" forgé par Aristophane pour désigner la comédie telle qu'il la pratique, Jay-Robert propose de définir ce genre nouveau selon trois axes. Le terme "trugédie", en tant qu'il dérive de la racine "trux", le vin nouveau, rappelle d'abord les origines dionysiaques du genre et leur influence sur la forme comique et son imaginaire utopique. Il dit également le rapport privilégié qu'entretient ce genre nouveau avec la tragédie, dont "trugédie" est un paronyme. Il renvoie enfin, selon Jay-Robert, à la pratique de l'ironie, de la mise à distance propre à Aristophane et dont résulte notamment sa poétique réflexive. Aristophane apparaît comme un poète comique soucieux de théoriser sa poétique, de la définir tout en la mettant en oeuvre.

La première partie, consacrée à l'espace comique, reprend les conclusions bien connues des rapprochements entre comédie et rites initiatiques. La comédie consiste à bouleverser un ordre ancien vécu comme insatisfaisant, pour aboutir à une situation de désordre, de monde à l'envers que, dans un troisième temps, le héros s'emploie à réorganiser pour inventer un ordre nouveau qui n'est autre que l'ordre ancien transfiguré. S'appuyant sur les travaux déjà anciens d'Ubersfeld (1977) et Maffesoli (1985), dans le champ des sciences sociales, et de Carrière (1979) et Thiercy (1986) chez les spécialistes d'Aristophane, elle propose d'interpréter l'espace comique et ses transformations comme un voyage transgressif qui implique un retour à une réalité transfigurée. Elle élabore, pour décrire ce mouvement, le concept de "temps spiralé", ni linéaire ni cyclique, qui est très opératoire. La démonstration, qui s'appuie essentiellement sur la Paix et Lysistrata est convaincante. Mais elle suppose des aménagements pour certaines comédies : le troisième temps de cette première partie est ainsi consacré aux "cas particuliers" (p. 39) que sont les Guêpes et les Oiseaux. Dans la première comédie en effet le trajet est centripète et mortifère, puisqu'il ramène le héros chez lui et substitue, à son bonheur initial, l'insatisfaction d'être privé de séances au tribunal. Dans la seconde, le désordre engendré par l'idée du héros n'est pas suivi d'un retour à un ordre ancien régénéré et le désordre s'avère pire que l'ordre initial. Mais outre ces comédies singulières signalées par Jay-Robert, plusieurs ne rentrent pas dans ce schéma pourtant séduisant : il n'est ainsi pas question des Thesmophories, des Grenouilles, du Ploutos, des Nuées ou de l'Assemblée des femmes - comédies qui sont analysées dans les deuxième et troisième parties de l'ouvrage, mais pas sous l'angle de l'espace scénique.

Les Grenouilles sont en effet longuement étudiées dans la deuxième partie consacrée aux personnages. Jay-Robert s'intéresse ici, de manière originale, moins au héros comique bien étudié par d'autres qu'à ses doubles, masculins et féminins. Le double, parce qu'il est une image du même mais aussi de l'autre, est en effet constitutif de la façon dont Aristophane envisage sa trugédie initiatique - partant du même pour se plonger dans l'altérité afin de mieux revenir au même, transfiguré. Jay-Robert commence par proposer une typologie des doubles comiques : il y a ceux qui complètent le héros, ceux qui en sont une caricature, ceux enfin qui le contredisent - oubliant étonnamment le couple maître-esclave, pourtant présent dans plusieurs comédies, et appelé à une belle postérité. Puis, plutôt que d'analyser en détail ces différentes types de doubles, elle fait le choix pertinent de concentrer l'analyse sur une pièce particulièrement riche de ce point de vue : les Grenouilles. Reprenant les analyses d'Ismene Lada-Richards, elle montre combien cette comédie, dont le personnage principal est Dionysos, lui-même dieu multiple, pose avec la question de la définition du dieu également celle de la définition du théâtre. En revanche, rien n'est dit du masculin en tant que tel et l'on comprend mal à ce stade ce qui vaut aux personnages masculins d'être traités à part. Les choses s'éclairent quand Jay-Robert passe aux personnages féminins, dans une trentaine de pages lumineuses et tout à fait novatrices, qui constituent l'un des apports majeurs de ce livre. Depuis l'ouvrage précurseur d'Auger, Rosselini et Saïd Aristophane, les femmes et la cité en 1979, la question des femmes dans le théâtre d'Aristophane n'avait plus retenu, en France, l'attention des chercheurs. Trente ans après, Jay-Robert reprend dignement le flambeau. Elle propose, de manière originale, d'articuler les conclusions des années soixante-dix avec la lecture métathéâtrale qui est la sienne. Selon elle, la spécificité des personnages féminins est qu'ils sont au coeur de la réflexion sur le phénomène théâtral. Partant du constat désormais classique de la fonction seconde des femmes dans le théâtre antique - "même quand elle est l'héroïne de la pièce, la femme n'est jamais un personnage à part entière, parce que son rôle ne peut être lu qu'en fonction de celui tenu par le personnage masculin" (p. 81) - elle élabore une typologie des personnages féminins qui s'avère très éclairante. Elle envisage d'abord les personnages féminins muets, généralement nus et dont l'apparition sur scène coïncide avec la victoire du héros et donc la mise en place de l'ordre nouveau. La femme apparaît alors comme la récompense du héros : "attirante et féconde... la femme symbolise la jouissance acquise au terme d'un rituel agraire et dionysiaque, elle donne un visage au monde de paix et de volupté mis en scène par le héros" (p. 83). Ces personnages muets sont distingués des femmes qui parlent, et dont le rôle consiste à révéler le sens de l'action du héros : c'est le cas du choeur des Nuées, qui reflètent et jugent les comportements masculins. Quant aux trois pièces "féminines", Lysistrata, les Thesmophories et l'Assemblée des femmes, elles révèlent le fonctionnement même du processus théâtral : si les femmes prennent le pouvoir, c'est bien le signe que la cité et, partant, la comédie, sont malades. Ainsi, dans Lysistrata les hommes se désintéressent du sexe et de la nourriture, ce qui met la cité est en péril, et rend impossible toute comédie. Reprenant les analyses de Nicole Loraux, Jay-Robert montre alors que la pièce consiste à "réenclencher le processus comique en redonnant leur rôle et leur place à la femme et à ce qu'elle représente" (p. 92). Dans l'Assemblée des femmes en revanche les femmes prennent la place des hommes et la gardent. Il n'y a donc pas de retour à l'ordre, et les femmes ne sont plus ce que la cité attend d'elles : exclusivement nourricières, elles sont des mères qui gavent des hommes infantilisés d'une nourriture assimilée à de la merde et des vieilles à l'appétit sexuel insatiable. Elles sont alors associées à la scatologie et à la mort.

La troisième partie est consacrée au langage scénique. Après quelques généralités rappelant les analyses de Gérard Genette sur l'intertextualité, elle affirme que la comédie met "en question le langage et le déconstruit pour le recomposer autrement", créant ainsi une "distance énonciative" (p. 109). L'analyse des Acharniens, inspirée des travaux de Claude Calame et d'Olivier Thévenaz sur le masque comique, est centrée sur l'utilisation qui y est faite de la tragédie : il s'agit selon Jay-Robert d' "ouvrir le débat sur les rapports existant entre réalité, illusion, vérité et mensonge" (p.124) en vue d'inventer un langage vrai. Si Jay-Robert a parfois des formules malheureuses - on peut ainsi douter que la comédie ait pour objet de "méditer sur la réalité" et de "dénoncer le subterfuge littéraire" - l'analyse des réseaux de métaphore et notamment celle de l'excrément, peu étudiée et pourtant si riche de sens chez Aristophane, est remarquablement bien menée. La conclusion reprend et élargit la lecture de la comédie en termes de mise à distance. On s'étonnera néanmoins que dans ses toutes dernières lignes Jay-Robert aborde la question passionnante, mais pas traitée frontalement dans le livre, de l'opposition entre texte et performance rituelle, telle que l'a posée en France Florence Dupont pour la comédie romaine.

L'ouvrage ne comporte quasiment pas de fautes de frappe. On peut trouver la présentation, qui multiplie les paragraphes et les sous-paragraphes, avec des titres parfois attendus, un peu trop scolaire. Mais il ne faut pas s'y méprendre : ce livre est beaucoup plus qu'un manuel et a le grand mérite de reprendre des questions délaissées en France depuis les années soixante-dix et d'y répondre, en s'appuyant sur l'apport des sciences humaines et sociales, de façon originale.

Table of Contents
- 1 -
Manipulation scénique de l'espace
I. Généralités sur le processus comique
II. Mise en scène de l'espace : cas général
1. Destructuration de l'espace
1.1. Un espace mobile
1.2. Un espace qui tend vers le vide
1.3. Une remise en cause des limites spatiales existantes
1.3.1. Première conséquence : une confrontation entre les représentants des deux espaces différents
1.3.2. Seconde conséquence : une confusion des espaces
2. Restructuration de l'espace
2.1. Jeu de balance
2.2. Inversion des pôes
2.3. Réorganisation de l'espace
2.3.1. Rétablissement des limites
2.3.2. Mise en place d'autres modalités
3. Conclusion
III. Mise en scène de l'espace : cas particuliers
1. Les Guêpes
2. Les Oiseaux
2.1. Brouillage spatial
2.2. Restructuration
2.3. Le Vide
2.4. Le Chaos
IV. Conclusion

- 2 -
Construction d'une typologie des personnages
I. Les personnages masculins
1. Généralités
2. Les Grenouilles
2.1. Constat
2.1.1. Multiplication de doubles
2.1.2. Résolution du double
2.2. Interprétation
2.2.1. Le double et l'initiation
2.2.2. Le double et le masque
2.2.3. Le double et l'écriture théâtrale
3. Conclusion
II. Les personnages féminins
1. Le personnage féminin révélateur du héros
1.1. Le personnage féminin : signe de la victoire et de l'échec du héros
1.2. Le personnage féminin : indicateur du sens de l'action menée par le héros
2. Le personnage féminin révélateur du fonctionnement du processus théâtral
2.1. Lysistrata ou comment réenclencher le processus comique
2.2. L'Assemblée des femmes ou comment représenter la mort du processus comique
2.3. Les Thesmophories ou comment réfléchir sur la création théâtrale
2.3.1. A quels niveaux intervient le personnage féminin
2.3.2. Pourquoi ce lien entre le personnage féminin et le théâtre?
3. Conclusion
III. Conclusion

- 3 -
Construction d'un langage scénique
I. Généralités
II. La paratragédie
1. Constat : l'oeuvre d'Aristophane, un patchwork
1.1. Aperçu rapide des types de discours mis en scène par Aristophane
1.2. Formes prises par l'intertextualité
2. Rôle de la paratragédie dans l'oeuvre d'Aristophane
2.1. Réfléchir sur le langage des autres
2.1.1. La tragédie d'Euripide face au réel
2.1.2. La tragédie d'Euripide face à la fiction
2.2. Construire son propre langage
2.2.1. Aristophane et le langage tragique dans les Acharniens
2.2.2. Les mécanismes de réhabilitation d'un logos "vrai" dans les Acharniens
2.2.3. Comment le masque peut-il permettre l'élaboration de la vérité?
3. Conclusion
III. Les métaphores
1. Définition
2. La métaphore : un jeu sur la représentation
3. La métaphore : une création poétique et symbolique ; exemple du réseau métaphorique tissé autour du corps féminin
3.1. Spécificité du corps féminin
3.2. Une polyvalence significative
3.3. Réseaux métaphoriques tissés autour du corps féminin
3.4. Conséquence : la nourriture et l'excrément, des symboles en opposition
4. Conclusion
IV. Conclusion

- Conclusion -


Table des matières.

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