Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011.09.58

Camillo Neri, Lirici greci. Età arcaica e classica. Introduzione, edizione, traduzione e commento. Classici 9. Roma: Carocci editore, 2011. Pp. 495. ISBN 9788843055951. €30.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Douglas E. Gerber, University of Western Ontario (degerber@uwo.ca)

Version at BMCR home site

There are few anthologies of Greek lyric in languages other than Italian, but in Italian they are numerous. I personally own fourteen that have been published in Italy since the 1960s. The majority provide a text followed immediately by the commentary, but Neri's anthology is very different, and much less easy to use. One example, that of Callinus fr. 1, will illustrate what I mean. On pp. 16-18 we have the introduction, text and translation; on pp. 145-47 we have the commentary; on p. 333 we have the apparatus; on p. 387 we have the dialectal forms, with translation and Attic equivalents; and on p. 454 we have the bibliography. This is an unnecessarily complicated method of providing the required information. Neri's anthology differs from most others in another way also. Very little is said about grammar and syntax, and although different interpretations of a passage may be mentioned they tend not to be discussed in any detail.

No two compilers of anthologies will agree on what authors and texts should be selected. In part this depends on the degree of thoroughness in the commentary, on whether Pindar and/or Bacchylides should be included, on whether space allows for longer texts in addition to shorter ones, and on whether translations are added. Neri has selected 110 mostly fragmentary texts from 25 authors, two of whom are Pindar (Ol. 1) and Bacchylides (Dith. 18). The choice of authors differs from that of most other anthologies, since he includes Carmina convivialia, Carmina popularia, Critias, Euenus, and Terpander. As far as the fragments themselves are concerned, they are for the most part what one would expect to find. It is surprising, however, that the Cologne epode of Archilochus is omitted. Only two fragments of Solon are included (4 and 27). Fr. 27 is an unusual choice, especially since fr. 13 is omitted. For Xenophanes we are given fr. 2 and four of the hexametric fragments. Fr. 1 would seem to me a more appropriate choice than the hexameters.

In 2004 Neri was the author of La lirica greca. Temi e testi (Roma, Carocci editore). This is in two parts, the first (pp. 23-121) dealing with a wide variety of topics pertaining to Greek lyric and the remainder with the same fragments covered in the volume under review. There is, however, no Greek text and much less is said about each fragment. Given the existence of this earlier work, I am surprised that Neri did not dispense with the translations and in their place provide students with more grammatical assistance. In the introduction (p. 9) we are told the following: "Gli studenti ne ricaveranno un libro di testo, completo di tutti i supporti linguistici, metrici e critico-esegetici, per preparare gli esami di lingua e letteratura greca e per approfondire la propria conoscenza di quel fenomeno cui si dà il nome di lirica." This seems to me to claim more than the book delivers. I do not wish to imply any incompetence on Neri's part. He is an established scholar with an excellent reputation and he certainly could have provided the information that I think is lacking.

Apart from the reservations listed above, it should be stressed that Italian students will benefit from the judicious analysis of each fragment, from the clarity of his writing, and from the extensive bibliographies.

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