Friday, February 4, 2011


Giulio Massimilla (ed.), Callimaco. Aitia: libro terzo e quarto. Biblioteca di studi antichi 92. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2010. Pp. 604. ISBN 9788862272827. €245.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Brian W. Breed, University of Massachusetts Amherst (

Version at BMCR home site

The work of Giulio Massimilla has given us a full and authoritative account of what we do and do not know at present about the text of Callimachus' Aetia. By virtue of its comprehensiveness and precision Massimilla's edition with commentary of Aetia Books 1 and 2 (Pisa 1996) has earned its status as a standard reference. The publication of text, translation, and commentary on books 3 and 4 in the present volume continues the virtues of the earlier volume. On account of its thoroughness, exacting care, and comprehensiveness, this book is much to be welcomed and will be of lasting utility.

Like Massimilla's previous volume, this one is more an updated version of the relevant parts of Pfeiffer's Callimachus and Lloyd-Jones and Parsons's Supplementum Hellenisticum than a wholly new edition of books 3 and 4 of the Aetia. There are new fragments included, but otherwise Massimilla's text remains very close to that of his predecessors. The text is based on the author's new inspection of all the papyri and of the manuscripts of the Etymologicum Genuinum. The most noticeable result of Massimilla's recension is a large increase in the number of uncertain letters indicated by the sub-linear dot, even as the actual readings tend to be stable. As a sign of his deference to the magisterial work of his predecessors, Massimilla's apparatus regularly repeats verbatim the Latin notes of Pfeiffer and of Lloyd-Jones and Parsons, and he directly incorporates their comments into his commentary. The project of updating the presentation of the text of the Aetia is, nevertheless, a necessary and valuable one.

Simply to have all the available fragments brought together makes this a book worth having. Legibility is also improved as compared to both Pfeiffer and Supplementum Hellenisticum with better fonts and character spacing. The layout of the text is largely the same as Pfeiffer's, although I prefer Massimilla's use of bold headings to identify fragments of the diegeseis separately from the fragments to which they relate, where Pfeiffer had printed the diegeseis in small type beneath each text prior to his apparatus. On the other hand I prefer Pfeiffer's practice of giving a partial apparatus for the sections of text on each page. Massimilla (or his publisher) opts for full apparatus at the end of each fragment. For very long fragments like 174 (= 75 Pf., Acontius and Cydippe) this necessitates a lot of page flipping. Massimilla's layout is still better than SH, where the single apparatus following all the fragments of the Victoria Berenices (254-69 = 144-56 M.) is even more unwieldy.

There are two recent papyrological discoveries that will become more widely known through this volume, both of which cast important light on the internal organization of Aetia Book 3. We already knew considerably more about the contents and sequence of books 3 and 4 than of books 1 and 2, and now we know even more thanks to new fragments of the Milan Diegeseis (PMilVogliano inv. 1006 and inv. 28b) published by Gallazzi and Lehnus in ZPE 137 (2001) and a 24-line fragment published in 2008 by Bastianini (PSI 1500). This fragment (= 144 M.), which shows a join with the single line of fr. 674 Pf., describes the victorious course of Queen Berenice's chariot at the Nemean games. Thus we can now see that the description of the actual victory in the Victoria Berenices is longer than previously known, a valuable piece of information because the scale of the various parts of this aetion, the victory vs. the "digression" on Hercules, Molorchus and the mousetrap, has been such a prominent object of discussion. Variations of scale are, in fact, important for the overall structure of books 3 and 4. The length of the aetia of the "royal frame," Victoria Berenices and Coma Berenices, along with Acontius and Cydippe, makes them unusual; cf. Massimilla's cogent remarks on "ampiezza" (p. 48).

Of the new fragments of the Milan Diegeseis, the one allows for the placement of the aetion "Phalaecus Ambraciotes" (159-60 M.) early in book 3 prior to "Thesmophoria Attica." The other has traces of, it seems, three unknown aetia in book 3 between "Acontius and Cydippe" and "The marriage rite of the Eleans." Pfeiffer had thought that "Rite" followed immediately after Acontius, but this is no longer tenable. Massimilla thus prints two new fragments not in Pfeiffer (176, 177 M.) and divides Pfeiffer's fr. 76 between two fragments (76.1 Pf. = 178 M.; 76.2–3 Pf. = 175.2–3 M.). This last move suits the need for three unknown aetia following Acontius and is, furthermore, consistent with Revel Coles's determination, reported by Gallazzi and Lehnus, that Dieg. Med. col. I, 3 is inconsistent with the traces of POxy 1011 fol. 1 'recto' 78–80, where previously Pfeiffer had proposed that POxy 1011 v. 78 might be the same line as the lemma in Dieg. Med. for the aetion of the Elean marriage rite. Nothing can be said for certain about the content of these three aetia (175, 176, 177 M.); there are however possibilities open for speculation. Fragments 65 and 64 M. (= 115, 114 Pf.) now seem most likely to come from book 3 and could possibly go here; see Bulloch in CQ 56 (2006), some of whose conclusions regarding the last portion of the book have recently been challenged by C. Cecchi in Eikasmos 21 (2010). Massimilla alternatively suggests that those fragments could be placed after Victoria Berenices and that the fragments of uncertain location numbered 157 and 158 M. (61, 62 Pf.) could go in the space after Acontius. The new fragments of PMilVogliano do at least mean that Pfeiffer was incorrect to state that the order of the aetia in book 3 was certain from Thesmophoria Attica (63 Pf., 161-62 M.) to the end. Note also that at the end of book 3 Massimilla orders the aetia in accordance with POxy 2212, while there is likely a different order in the diegeseis (cf. p. 397). The variability in the order of the poems is perhaps attributable to the miscellaneous character of Aetia 3 and 4 allowing for some fluidity in the constitution of the text as a sequence. All of this Massimilla lays out in detail and with clarity. While much necessarily remains uncertain, there is now the potential to appreciate a nearly complete sequence of aetia for the whole of book 3, and on this basis I think we can look forward to new discussions of literary possibilities inherent in the construction of a sequence of poems within a book, an important area of Callimachean influence.

Conjectures unknown to Pfeiffer adopted by Massimilla in his text are not numerous (213.55, 56 are two examples), but the apparatus is up to date and full (163.10 is a particularly rich example). Massimilla has taken the welcome step of always giving publication details for where the readings, supplements, and conjectures that he does cite were proposed. His apparatus fontium is likewise fuller and more exact that Pfeiffer's. With respect to the fragments printed in Supplementum Hellenisticum, Massimilla's text varies the order of the fragments somewhat, but the readings in the text are for the most part stable. One exception is the mousetrap fragment (149 M. = 177 Pf., SH 259). Lloyd-Jones and Parsons had printed without annotation the text produced by Livrea, so Massimilla's inclusion of full apparatus and notes for this important fragment is welcome. He rejects a number of Livrea's readings in favor of Pfeiffer's or his own recension (e.g., line 26). The text of the fragments securely attributable to books 3 and 4 is followed by incerta bringing the total number of fragments in Massimilla's Aetia to 284. Massimilla has not reprinted all of the numerous fragments of uncertain author or uncertain work from Pfeiffer, but where possible at the end of each aetion he identifies in a note the ones that could, based on their subject matter, relate to that particular story.

Massimilla's editorial practice is uniformly conservative. 213.61 is a rare example of his own supplement being included in the text, and a salutary remark in the introduction (p. 64) reminds readers that for this author many (we might say all) supplements should be treated as exempli gratia only. Although Massimilla generally shows little inclination to venture on improvements to the text he has received, I do still miss having a table to show just where his text prints a reading different from Pfeiffer or SH. It would also have been welcome to have a clear indication whether each particular reading attributed to "Pf." was adopted by Pfeiffer in his text or left by him in the apparatus or is to be found in the addenda. In the absence of these helps readers need to collate the three editions to get the most complete picture of where Massimilla's text is and is not new. Indices and conspectus numerorum encompassing both this volume and the earlier volume containing Aetia 1 and 2 would also have been useful. But these are matters of convenience more than anything.

Italian translation, commentary, and introduction complete the volume. The translation is meant to demonstrate how the fragments might be construed. Thus it is marked up with indications of alternative renderings, necessary supplements, and grammatical annotations. The commentary not only provides thorough information regarding the establishment of the text, it is also an inclusive and reliable guide to the massive bibliography on the Aetia, current up to 2008. Massimilla's capable and succinct discussions of how a particular fragment has been treated in the previous literature are a real strength. New interpretation is not a priority of the commentary. The introduction provides a straightforward account of the contents of Aetia 3 and 4, the presentation of the fragments, the themes and distinctive qualities of Aetia 3 and 4, editorial principles applied to the organization and presentation of the text, and meter and prosody.

In the years since Massimilla published his first volume, several other editions of the works of Callimachus have appeared: D'Alessio (4th ed., Milan 2007), Asper (Darmstadt 2004), Durbec (Paris 2006), along with the second edition of Hollis's Hecale (Oxford 2009). And now with the imminent appearance of Annette Harder's two-volume Aetia, scholars have many more choices about where to turn for text and commentary than they did when Massimilla began his work. Nevertheless, I expect his edition to be the one that will take hold as the standard reference for the establishment of the text, if only because this volume continues to exhibit the strengths that have already made Massimilla's Aetia 1 and 2 essential for the study of Callimachus' poem.

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