Thursday, December 20, 2012


Alessandro Garcea, Caesar's De analogia. Edition, Translation, and Commentary. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xiii, 304. ISBN 9780199603978. $150.00.

Reviewed by Anthony Corbeill, University of Kansas (

Version at BMCR home site

The lost De Analogia of Julius Caesar tends to excite scholars less for its content than for its context. A couple of the thirty-odd surviving fragments are familiar to most Latinists—such as the injunction to avoid unusual words as a sailor would a rocky hazard (F2), or the alleged attempt to introduce ens into the language as the present participle of esse (F31).1 By far the majority of the fragments, however, would seem to be of decidedly lesser moment: neuter nouns in -ar should have identical terminations in the dative and ablative singulars (F24); lac is preferable to lact as a nominative singular form (F7). Interest heightens, though, when the ancient testimonia agree in dating the composition of the text to Caesar's proconsulship in Gaul, most likely to the spring of 54 (Garcea 24-26). Even while recognizing that Fronto surely exaggerates when describing Caesar as composing "amidst a volley of weapons" (inter tela volantia; T1), I can only marvel at Caesar's tenacity as I ponder the difficulties that I am having trying to complete this review with only gentle students tapping at my door. Surely, many scholars have justly wondered, our conquering hero had better things to do than to contemplate the morphology of "milk"?

It is this issue, the "why" of De Analogia, with which Garcea begins his book and upon which much of his subsequent exegesis of the extant fragments rests. Neatly adapting Fronto's description, he follows previous scholars in demonstrating that the "volley of weapons" that Caesar must dodge are the less bloody but no less fraught philological arms wielded in contemporary debates between the so-called analogists and anomalists, more precisely as they manifest themselves in the tension between Cicero's view of Latinitas (as most clearly articulated in De Oratore) and Caesar's desire to make Latin eloquence more easily attainable. This ideological context, first outlined in Hendrickson's landmark article of 1906, has become generally accepted doctrine, and the arguments offered by Garcea throughout this book establish the position beyond any reasonable doubt.2 That is not to say, however, that all Garcea's inferences from this premise are to be accepted unconditionally. Early in the introductory chapter, for example, he asserts confidently that the treatise's "direct addressees must have been the members of the higher ranks of Gallic society, who were in a sociolinguistic situation of 'partial language shift'" (4; my emphasis). Aside from the clear difficulties of taking this claim literally (would, for instance, high-ranking Gauls in need of these imagined reforms be able to profit from Caesar's often esoteric examples?), it also ignores segments of the population closer to home to whom such ideas could also directly appeal, such as those Latin-speaking Italians whose inherent lack of urbanitas served to hinder their rhetorical success in the capital.3 Furthermore, the same evidence has been used to advance a claim directly opposing Garcea's, namely that Caesar's linguistic program, rather than providing assistance to non-Latin speakers, in fact aims to ward off the language from foreign contamination.4 So while the contours of the intellectual debate have become increasingly clear, the identity of the constituencies in the real world who are to benefit from that debate remains unclear—if indeed such constituencies ever existed.

Before turning to Garcea's treatment of the fragments themselves, two caveats are in order. First, the book's title misleads. The advertised "edition, translation, and commentary" in fact covers barely more than half the volume (127-256). The first 124 pages contain introductory matter that covers contemporary rhetorical debates, including material of tangential importance for an understanding of the Caesarian treatise (see, most egregiously, the long excursus at 53-77 on Cicero's perception of the role of pure diction in the development of the orator). Second, the division between introductory essays and commentary proper occasionally hinders efficient access to the abundance of scholarship that is on offer. For those wishing to glean the background and interpretation of a given fragment (as would characterize, I assume, the majority of the book's users), most of the commentary meets expectations: the fragment is offered in Latin; a helpful and accurate English translation follows; a detailed commentary concludes. Occasionally, however, commentary does not follow the relevant fragment, with the reader instead being referred for exegesis to one of the essays in the book's first half. In the best circumstance, this simply forces the reader to move back and forth between Latin text and scholarly discussion, but with no obvious gain accruing from the inconvenience. For example, the discussion of the treatise's date (in a section ambiguously entitled "Some Chronological Reference Points," 24-26) could be removed to its expected position in the edition (after T1-2 on pages 127-128) without damage to the essay in which it appears. Still greater inconvenience is caused in trying to locate the exegesis of F1A-C. After the texts are quoted and translated in the "edition" proper (130-132), the reader is referred for commentary simply to "Ch. 5. B." In this instance, if the user wishes to learn, for example, why Garcea has included among his Latin citations (with a "cf." after F1A) Plin. nat. 7.116-117 (not in Funaioli), a cumbrous process unfolds. After locating "Ch. 5. B" in the table of contents, the reader will be met with a discursive essay of seventeen pages (81-97), only at the end of which does Garcea explain why he has quoted Pliny here (93- 97). I should add that the indices do not help find the passage any more quickly: the "General Index" under "Pliny the Elder" does not include this passage, although it does refer to the "Index of Sources with Sigla," wherein the relevant section brings us full circle back to "F1B app. crit." (the reader who uses the indices to discover Garcea's opinions about the value of John of Salisbury's partial quotations of F2 will follow an equally tortuous path).

Apart from these not insignificant obstacles to ease of consultation, Garcea's new edition and commentary on the fragments will prove to be a valuable resource. Although, unsurprisingly, he is able to add no new Caesarian material to the corpus since Funaioli's 1907 edition of the grammatical fragments, he does utilize scholarship on and critical editions of the sources that have appeared in the intervening century to create a text that differs from Funaioli's in several significant places. The fragments are also situated more fully in the context of the source text than in previous editions. The exegesis too is admirably full. In addition to the intense focus on contemporary debates over grammar and rhetoric (Cicero, Varro, Philodemus), Garcea looks both backward and forward, frequently assessing the influence of Greek sources to an extent unprecedented in past discussions of De Analogia, and noting the afterlife of many of these grammatical issues among the later Roman grammarians. In each area, the full scholarly bibliography further increases the volume's usefulness.

Garcea's discussion offers fascinating details on even the most seemingly mundane fragments. I restrict myself to two examples. The first is typical of Garcea's approach in its full consideration of context and its careful weighing of the evidence. The grammarian Pompeius preserves F3. If one follows the consensus of the manuscripts, Pompeius here attributes to Caesar a theory elsewhere unparalleled, that the original Roman alphabet consisted of only eleven letters. Using helpful tables, Garcea offers a clear and methodical analysis of the issue of "primitive letters" from the Greeks through John Lydus in order to suggest that Pompeius has misconstrued a reference that Caesar (or an intermediate source) had made to the eleven primitive consonants. Regardless of whether one accepts this conclusion, Garcea equips the reader with the necessary background to assess that conclusion fully.

A second example shows grammar reaching outside language into the external world. At F32, Isidore cites Caesar's contention that the perfect participle of the verb morior should, by analogy with other verbs, be not mortuus but mortus (this latter form does in fact appear, though surely coincidentally, in several later inscriptions). Garcea treats clearly and concisely, and with a full bibliographical apparatus, the scholarly debates over the origin of the surprising form mortuus. Such treatment one would expect in a commentary of this scope. In addition, however, Garcea offers a fascinating explanation of Isidore's own interest in the etymology. Isidore has assembled his discussion of mortuus from two texts attributed to Augustine (one of which, incidentally, was not noted by Funaioli) in which the church father uses the unexpected morphological form of mortuus to make a doctrinal point about the potential punishment God renders to the human soul in death.

Not only scholars of Roman grammar and rhetoric but those interested in the intellectual debates that flourished during the late Republic can derive much of value from this work. Although I have reservations about aspects of the volume's organization, future readers will offer Garcea thanks for the immense amount of learning that he has distilled into its pages.


1.   All references to fragments (F) and testimonia (T) are to Garcea, whose order differs radically from the previous standard editions, those of Gino Funaioli, Grammaticae Romanae Fragmenta (Leipzig 1907) 143-157 and of Alfred Klotz (in the third volume of his 1927 Teubner edition, pages 177-185).
2.   G. L. Hendrickson, "The De analogia of Julius Caesar; its occasion, nature, and date, with additional fragments," Classical Philology 1 (1906) 97-120; agreement and elaboration are offered by, e.g., P. Sinclair, "Political declensions in Latin grammar and oratory 55 BCE - CE 39," Ramus 23 (1994) 92-96; J. Dugan, Making a New Man: Ciceronian self-fashioning in the rhetorical works (Oxford 2005) 177-189; A. Willi, "Campaigning for utilitas: style, grammar and philosophy in C. Iulius Caesar," in E. Dickey and A. Chahoud ed., Colloquial and Literary Latin (Cambridge 2010) 229-242.
3.   J.-M. David, "Les orateurs des municipes à Rome: intégration, réticences et snobismes," in Les "bourgeoisies" municipales italiennes aux IIe et Ier siècles av. J.-C. (Paris and Naples 1983) 309-323.
4.   L. Hall, "Ratio and Romanitas in the Bellum Gallicum," in K. Welch and A. Powell ed., Julius Caesar as Artful Reporter (Swansea 1998) 11-43.

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