Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Carlo M. Lucarini (ed.), Q. Curtius Rufus Historiae. Bibliotheca Teubneriana. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2009. Pp. lxvii, 383. ISBN 9783110201161. $140.00.
Reviewed by Lee M. Fratantuono, Ohio Wesleyan University

Despite good recent work on Curtius, the likeliest textual references for general scholarly consultation have long been Bardon's two-volume edition (1947-8) and Rolfe's 1946 Loebs (the latter with modest yet good critical annotations). Hedicke's 1908 Teubner has been all but forgotten except by specialists of a perhaps surprisingly underrated (and studied) author (besides being quite difficult to find).1 The present volume, even if only faute de mieux, will now be the standard point of departure for the textual study of Curtius' work of rhetorical history (though scholars will still want to have access to Bardon, who had an uncanny ability to tease exactly the right sense out of Curtius' Latin, among his many other virtues).

Lucarini's edition provides a preface, a critical text of the surviving books of the Alexander history, a bibliography and an index of names. The principal difference between Hedicke's fin de siècle Teubner and its early twenty-first century replacement is the current edition's treatment of B, F, L and V as descendants of the same manuscript as P, rather than as the progeny of a separate archetype.

The skilled hand of Stephen Oakley lies behind much of the good work found in this edition, and the dedication to the same is eminently fitting. Many of the principles behind Lucarini's edition are to be found in the frequently cited, unpublished work of both the editor and Oakley (though it can be difficult to "cf." the author's unpublished work, as he asks us to do at 3, 3, 145 and elsewhere).

Lucarini's conjectures are relatively few and generally useful (a tiny minority were first suggested by other scholars). So at 3, 2.85 he is surely right that there are two thousand cavalry and twice that number of infantry (not the reverse); lacunas posited at 3, 3,130 and 3, 3, 182 seem likely; at 3, 5, 243 tunc et for et tunc seems pedantic; at 3, 11, 580 laesi for caesi may well be correct, as also 3, 11, 595 segnis for suis; another plausible lacuna is posited at 3, 12, 698 on Alexander's humanity toward Darius' mother; at 4, 1, 45 et for sed is correctly read; at 4, 1, 100 velocissimi gives the right sense (though it is difficult to explain how the error arose); at 4, 2, 151 iaciendo for accipiendo is not persuasive (and Lucarini does not admit it to his text); a good (though minor) punctuation change is suggested at 4, 2, 159; at 4, 3, 264 condere may well be right, though Eberhard's munire seems better since the Tyrians were probably fortifying an existing defensive wall rather than building one; there is a likely transposition at 4, 4, 347; at 4, 4, 377 vectoribus for victoribus seems unconvincing; at 4, 6, 528 elapso is a plausible addition, though it is hard to see how it (ironically) fell out; at 4, 12, 979 transposing sed is surely correct; at 4, 13, 1022 adding et is possible but unnecessary; there is a useful punctuation change at 4, 13, 1091; at 4, 14, 1158 ad is a likely addition (so also id at 4, 15, 1325); at 5, 1, 19 it is difficult to imagine that ceteras urbes is a needed conjecture; at 5, 1, 83 Lucarini conjectures circum amnem vincunt (a slight modification of Vogel's circum urbem vincunt), for the unproblematic manuscript reading circumveniunt; at 5, 3, 264 there is another good word order change; at 5, 9, 642 tibi need not be deleted; at 5, 10, 678 regno iis (inspired by Vogel's regni iis) is an elegant correction of regionis; at 5, 11, 726 in interpretibus relato Lucarini combines a conjecture of Rolfe (inspired by Warmington) with a reading of inferior manuscript support, perhaps correctly (though Jeep's interpretes celato remains attractive); at 6, 4, 188 the deletion of per Parthienem is ill advised; at 6, 4, 254 ad eum is a necessary addition; at 6, 5, 279 cunctati may be correct, though the perfect is unnecessary after diu; at 6, 7, 530 amicorum is an improvement to the text, though aliorum is probably right; at 6, 8, 564 properasse is a creative addition, though Hedicke's commotum esse is better; at 6, 9, 664 illum is inferior to Hedicke's eum, though the manuscript unum is rhetorically more effective to depict Alexander's attitude as he describes his favoritism toward Philotas; at 6, 10, 796 natura is no doubt correct for naturae; at 6, 11, 902 At is correctly reconstructed; at 7, 1, 33 confitetur is inserted with (rightful) hesitation; at 7, 3, 249 cum is a necessary addition; at 7, 3, 302 Cilicium is a doubtful correction for Hyrcanium (which has solid manuscript support); at 7, 3, 306 Lucarini is perhaps correct that new soldiers were left behind in Caucasian Alexandria, not veterans, with the error arising from a scribe who thought it likelier that old men stayed in the settlement; at 7, 4, 376 Hedicke's est after ω's perventum is better than Lucarini's perveniunt; at 7, 5, 462 cogebant is better than Jeep's claudebant; at 7, 7, 694 solus is better than Alanus' unus, though the error is difficult to explain; at 7, 11, 952 ferentem is an unnecessary conjecture for ferentis; at 7, 11, 967 instruxerunt is a useful addition, perhaps improving Curtius; at 7, 11, 1005 iratus is just as unnecessary an addition as the poorly attested infensus; at 8, 4, 362 much ado has long been made over nothing; at 8, 9, 680 Bentley's non adita has more force than Lucarini's ingentes, though it is true that Alexander's men no doubt did not see all sixty or so rivers and streams in question and that many are small; at 8, 10, 815 nudam is a fine correction for the impossible cum, though Hedicke's et is easier; at 8, 13, 970 quippe ... erat is perhaps too easy to delete; at 9, 5, 400 servatorem is an unlikely correction for suae; at 9, 9, 768 a lacuna is reasonably posited; at 10, 6, 399 quam expectabant is one of Lucarini's best corrections; at 10, 8, 497 Lucarini may be right that the infantry defected, not the cavalry.2

This is essentially a conservative text, with the editor sparing a number of problem areas the sort of serious surgery a more radical textual critic might seek to perform. If anything, one wishes the editor had perhaps addressed some of the more intriguing cruces that are left obelized and unsolved.

The preface lamentably focuses exclusively on textual matters (in contrast to the laudable contemporary trend in the Budé series), to the exclusion of potentially valuable consideration of such matters as authorial date, sources, style and context within a tradition (and, in the case of Curtius, the added problems of the lost material and consideration of the historian's method). This criticism of prefatory matters is aimed more at the series than the editor, of course, and is more acutely felt in the case of an author like Curtius who presents the very sort of enigma that demands examination of the classical version of les coordonnées hagiographiques. Even the older edition of Bardon provides a good (however brief) survey of these matters. In working through this edition one is left with a sense of mystery that permeates the experience of reading both text and apparatus. Despite the relative fullness of the latter, often one wishes the editor had offered more in the way of explication of his own views on difficult points.

The bibliographies are useful, though some might find quibble that certain listed works are not, strictly speaking, useful for reconstructing the text (the avowed criterion for inclusion).

Some few spacing errors throughout the volume may be the result of software anomalies.

Alexander scholars and those interested in an author who presents numerous interesting textual problems will find an invaluable aid in Lucarini's new edition, which serves both to sum up the current state of Curtian textual studies and to provide a reasonably sound text of this important source. Lucarini succeeds admirably in preserving much of the best work of his predecessors, especially Hedicke and Bardon. If much work remains to be done to solve a number of vexing textual problems, a good foundation has been laid with the present volume, and we await the editor's Per una nuova edizione as well as Oakley's The Textual Tradition.


1.   The exemplary work of J.E. Atkinson deserves special mention in any review of recent Curtian work, especially his fine Mondadori edition (Atkinson J.E., Curzio Rufo: Storie di Alessandro Magno. Volume I - II, translated by V. Antelami and M. Giangiulio, Milan, 1998-2000). The publication of Lucarini's Teubner in the same year as Atkinson's Book 10 commentary in the Clarendon Ancient History series makes 2009 an annus mirabilis for Curtian studies.
2.   The end of the sixth book (with its summation of the torture of Philotas) is textually vexed. Lucarini emends the text to say that after Philotas' confession, even the pity of his friends vanished (conjecturing interiit for meruit at 6, 11, 922). Whatever the emendations (whether of Lucarini or his predecessors), Curtius gives no clear indication of his view of Philotas' guilt (cf. Diodorus Siculus 17, 80 and Plutarch 48-49, who are clearer in believing the youth guilty, and Arrian 3, 26, who is vaguer). Curtius' point seems clear enough: Philotas was pitied until he confessed (and there was a fair amount of fear before his confession regarding who else might be named by the tortured prisoner).

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