Monday, January 30, 2012


Michael F. Wagner, The Enigmatic Reality of Time: Aristotle, Plotinus, and Today. Ancient Mediterranean and medieval texts and contexts. Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition v. 7. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2008. Pp. viii, 384. ISBN 9789004170254. $182.00.

Reviewed by José Baracat, Jr., Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (

Version at BMCR home site

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[I wish to apologize to the author and to BMCR editors and readers for the tardiness of this review.]

As its title announces, Wagner's book comprises three large parts: "Dimensions of Time's Enigma", "Aristotle's Real Account of Time", and "Plotinus' Vitalistic Platonism and the Real Origins of Time". The avalanche of themes discussed can in outline be described as follows.

In the first part, roughly the "today" of time's enigma, Wagner considers the possibility of time's reality, exploring the meanings of two primary senses in which time may be said to be unreal, and the consequences they may bring to the investigation of time's reality. The first is that the concept "time" would not actually denote anything; the second, that what the term "time" denotes would not be in fact time. Through the three chapters of this part, Wagner discusses (not only, but mainly) contemporary approaches to time, especially approaches based on internalization of time and approaches based on the Theory of Relativity; also discussed is McTaggart's contribution to the philosophy of time, which has been rendered fallaciously until now as a denial of time's reality, according to Wagner (6).

Wagner boldly avers his conception of time right from the outset: there are two epigraphs to the book, one by Saint Augustine and the other by Wagner himself, in which he states: "time is the feature of existence in virtue of which, as its contents and constituents proceed and change, what was no longer is and what will be is not yet" (v). With such conception of time, one can foresee that Wagner will refute internalization approaches (since they "either in fact constitute denials of time's reality or else they simply do not address the question", 4), and also "static conceptions" of time (e.g. Relativity's space-time, which, being "static conceptions of time in fact are not conceptions of time's real nature but rather constitute denials of its reality", 5).

It is impossible to fairly reproduce Wagner's long discussions, but I am afraid that other readers will feel the same as I did: the elements of Wagner's conception of time, by which he measures, analyses, and refutes other conceptions, are not philosophically clear and defined: what is "a feature of existence"? Whose existence? Is there a difference between "contents" and "constituents"? Even the distinction between "static" and "dynamic" conceptions of time requires more elaboration than that given in the book (60-2): the classification of Einstein's conception of time (or "contemporary scientific Eleaticism") as a "static" one, suggesting that it cannot account for the change implied by time, is a petitio principii, for its fundamental argument is the vague and instinctive assertion that time's nature is "dynamic", and that discussing the question otherwise is not addressing the question or failing to see time's "real" nature (cf. 62-3).

The second part is a study of Aristotle's investigation of time in Physics IV and VI. To Wagner, "contemporary scholarship has treated Aristotle's investigation superficially and piecemeal", failing to see that, for him, "time is real in some intermediate sort of way" (p. 8), being neither entirely real nor entirely unreal. As with part one, this second part comprises dozens of interrelated investigations.

Part three focuses on Plotinus, to which Wagner also claims to take "a novel approach", "positing that Plotinus' account of time is most properly and accurately understood by locating it firmly in the Classical tradition of Greek naturalism, wherein time is real if and only if the natural universe is in reality a (the) temporal universe. This aspect of Plotinus' account is typically overlooked owing…to an inadequate understanding of and attention to his philosophical methodology" (12).

I cannot understand why Wagner overlooks many complexities of Plotinus' treatise "On Eternity and Time" (III.7 [45]). One single example: the striking first person plural eirgasmetha, in III.7.11.20 ("we have constructed time as an image of eternity"), is not even mentioned by Wagner, who seems to take for granted that the World Soul is responsible for the production of time.

Having so crudely summarized the book's content, I must state my admiration for Wagner before presenting features of this book which I find difficult to assess and sometimes even unacceptable.

The bibliography does not contain a single work not written in English. There are important studies of Aristotle and Plotinus written in other languages. Since they are neglected by Wagner, the reader may doubt whether he can so openly claim to be presenting innovative interpretations, or the "real" account of a philosopher.1

As a matter of fact, the bibliography is decorative: few titles are cited in the book. The chapters on Aristotle and on Plotinus does not refer to any Aristotelian or Plotinian scholar, despite important authors (such as Michael Inwood and Andrew Smith) being included in the bibliography.

The absence of discussion of secondary literature raises suspicion that the book is aimed at non-specialists. And there are other signs. See for example the characterization of philosophers ("an extraordinary classical Greek thinker named Parmenides", 8; see 276) and loose assertions like this: "Like all classical Greek philosophers, Aristotle uses 'nature' [physis] in a general way to designate our cosmos (universe) as a whole" (151), which, if not wholly false, is nonetheless far from being wholly true, for in Plato and Aristotle physis denotes more often the intrinsic form or constitution of a thing, nearer to "ousia" than to kosmos. But I think that neither Brill nor Wagner intended this book to be in the hands of laymen.

There is no conclusion to the investigations pursued in the book. More importantly, it is not always clear whose translations Wagner is quoting; for Husserl or Bergson, e.g., the translations seem to be those listed in the bibliography; but, for Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics, and for Plotinus' Enneads, information is confusing or lacking: the bibliography mentions only Ross' and Jaeger's Oxford editions of Aristotle, so we deduce that Wagner is responsible for the translations. For Plotinus's Enneads, Wagner employs Armstrong's Loeb translation for longer quotations in chapter 9, but for short quotations in that chapter and for all quotations in chapters 10-12 the translations are his own, without warning. As for the Greek text of Plotinus, one infers that Wagner uses that printed by Armstrong, which is the text edited by H.-R. Schwyzer and P. Henry. There is no problem in this, except for the fact that line numeration of prose texts in Loeb editions are imprecise and, as Wagner quotes line numbers precisely, one suspects he is not using (only) it.

Errors of typography and transliteration of Greek words are abundant: Dodds for Dobbs (138); Steele for Steel (110, 111); to-ti-ein-einai (which Wagner translates "the-what-it-is-to-be") for to-ti-en-einai (the-what-it-was-to-be) (149); pantaxou for pantachou or pantakhou (180, 362); megista genera for megista gene (285); aeion for aion (291); ex hypothesis (262); and many more.

There are many problems in the translation and quotation of Greek texts that do not seem to be typographic slips but are simply wrong. E.g.: 275 (quoting Plotinus, III.7.1.2): "what exists eternally (ton aidion einai)" – transliteration is wrong (it should be ten), and the English text does not correspond to it; the phrase is: [legontes] peri ten aidion einai physin ("saying [that eternity] is around the perpetual nature", einai being complement of the participle legontes). The same occurs in 287: he ousia einai as the equivalent for "substantial existence", when in fact einai is the complement of another verb and he ousia is the subject of the sentence. In 276: "to noeton ousia" (instead of the correct text of III.7.2.2: ten noeten ousian) and "to aistheton ousia" (which is not in Plotinus' text, but should be he aisthete ousia). In 322-3 (translating III.7.8.34ff.): we find to polu translated as "plenitude" (instead of "multiplicity"); ennoia as "impression" (instead of "idea" or "notion"); a causal dative as a concessive clause; and the causal "on account of" for a simple en. The latter imprecision is recurrent (cf. 354, 345, 323) and affects Wagner's investigations: he translates "in time" as "in virtue of time" or "on account of time", thus implying a causative relation where there is none (i.e. motion happens in time, not in virtue of time, since its cause may be, say, my hand).

Wagner translates (344) the crucial passage of Enn. III.7.11.30-31 as follows: "in asserting itself independently from eternity, it [soul] produced time…" (there are more problems in the sequence, but I will limit myself to these lines) – the first phrase does not exist in the Greek text, which reads: "having produced this [probably the sensible cosmos] instead of eternity, first it [soul] temporalized itself…". Wagner understands that "it [i.e. soul] produced time", simply ignoring Plotinus's intriguing neologism, the verb khronoun, and its complement, the reflexive pronoun heauten: "soul temporalized itself". But what does it mean for soul to have temporalized itself if it is eternal (as Plotinus states in IV.4.15)? Wagner does not even mention this.

He complains about Plotinus' "syntactically and semantically ambiguous" Greek (323) when he is to interpret III.7.8.49-52; after translating it, keeping the word athroa not translated, he makes a philological incursion into the meanings of that word in order to show that the passage in question has not been correctly understood until now. The first sentence, in Wagner's translation: "motion which is not athroa is distinguishable from motion which is athroa by virtue of time". According to Wagner (324), athroa can mean both "all-at-once", "instantaneous", or "continuous", "ongoing" – and he is right. Though all translations and studies in the world have preferred the first meaning – so that the difference is one between a movement that happens instantaneously and one that requires time to occur–, Wagner chooses the second meaning: for him "it is more reasonable to understand Plotinus' contrast between motion which is not athroa and motion which is athroa to distinguish motion which is not ongoing or unceasing...from motion which is ongoing or unceasing" (325). Having in mind that, in the context, Plotinus is precisely refuting the hypothesis that time is, or is related to, physical movement, Wagner's "novel approach" is difficult to sustain: surely both motions are distinguished in time (one may take 10 seconds, the other may proceed infinitely and so last for an infinite amount of time). But this is not the case: both motions occur in time, be they short or endless. Plotinus is stating that time cannot be movement, because there are movements that can happen instantaneously, and these do not occur in time.

Throughout the book we read imprecise statements, as if Wagner did not expect his reader to be another scholar. For example, Wagner says that "it is patently absurd…to suppose ¬ as contemporary commentaries on Plotinus' account of time typically do suppose (and assert) – that the regular or standard rhythm, for example, of Soul's activity as it 'rouses' a human heart to beat and the regular or standard rhythm of Soul's activity as it 'prods and pushes' the outermost Heavenly sphere in its repeating circular motion are somehow the same" (356). It is patently absurd, indeed! But which commentaries typically do it? Wagner does not say. I've read a good number of studies on Plotinus' theory of time, but I've never met anything slightly similar to it.

Wagner is not an ordinary scholar: he is a provocative thinker who always deserves to be read. But with caution, this time.


1.   See e.g. the excellent studies of Fernando Rey Puente (Os Sentidos do Tempo em Aristóteles, Loyola: São Paulo, 2001) and Alessandro Trotta (Il Problema del Tempo in Plotino, Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 1997), and their generous bibliography.

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Nicolini on Hunink on Nicolini, Ad (L)usum lectoris: etimologia e giochi di parole in Apuleio. Response to 2012.01.03

Response by Lara Nicolini, Pisa (

Version at BMCR home site

Responding to a review may seem unnecessary and unpleasant, and has often seemed so to me. But circumstantial criticism of specific matters is one thing, specious remarks quite another – especially if such remarks, stemming from a personal and biased reading, call into question the author's whole philological method, and on occasion come close to insult. May I therefore call upon Ovid's words, turpe quidem contendere erat, sed cedere visum / turpius.

Hunink is certainly correct in the most emphatic of his substantial claims, that there are typos in the index locorum. I suspect that an attentive reading will reveal an even greater number of inaccuracies, which is unfortunate and a regrettable oversight on my part. (I do take some consolation from my experience as a reader, since I got used to finding this kind of error in those long series of numbers that usually form the indexes: I presume it is sort of a natural characteristic of such treacherous appendices ...). I hope this problem will be sorted out in the next printing of the book.1

However, I simply fail to see why this error, that in the end is so common and widespread, should be considered a real crimen to be laid against this book. Unless, of course, one accepts Hunink's premise, that readers will only consult it rather than read it from cover to cover: on the contrary, I think that a selective reading based on index entries is not an appropriate way to approach the book (even less so by a reviewer I should add). This approach inevitably results in some misunderstandings. Indexes are extremely useful tools but, if I may use a metaphor, they are also 'blind'. This is perhaps even more true of the index locorum, which puts together disjointed passages, sampled from different chapters of a book and only connected by their proximity in the text.

Were this work a lexicographical one, Hunink would be right in considering the numerical typos in its index a gross negligence rather than a venial sin. However, this book is neither a lexicon nor a catalogue. It is a new study of Apuleius' style which aims to offer an original key to the interpretation of his work as a whole. Examples are used as supporting evidence for my argument: they are not the argument. I have started from a hypothesis, tested my idea through a close scrutiny of the Latin text, and finally reached a conclusion about what I believe to be a crucial aspect of Apuleius' writing. A reader who wants to evaluate this book fairly is actually expected to read it from cover to cover. Then again, the book can certainly be consulted as a repertoire of remarks on individual passages, and this option is offered and made easier by the presence of indexes. Yet, it remains a monograph on an extremely important aspect of Apuleius' linguistic experimentalism and is by no means a collection of stylistic oddities. It is any reviewer's right, of course, to agree or disagree with an author; but it is not fair to describe the book under review as something different than what it is.

I feel bound to clarify at least the major points where misunderstandings seem to arise from such a reading.

The first problem with relying on the index locorum as a guide through the book is that one finds listed there all kinds of word play (etymological puns, as well as phonic word plays, puns of great effect, and those already noticed by commentators), not to mention all the passages that do not actually include any word play. It is therefore ungenerous, to say the least, to repeatedly point out that "even a beginning reader [sic] of the Latin" would have picked up some of them. In many cases, moreover, the point is not the original discovery of a new word play. For example, it may well be true that even a dilettante would spot the enallage at Met. 11,5,2 fluctuantes Cyprii. This is not a momentous discovery, I agree. Nevertheless, a more extensive reading of the relevant chapter would have revealed the significance of my argument: that the frequent occurrence of enallages like this one, which cause a semantic shift of adjectives (sometimes such a strong shift that it challenges comprehension), should be considered before adopting emendations of such passages as met. 5,23,6 detectae fidei, 6,28,5 compta diligentia, and 8,7,7 adfixo servitio. In all these cases the text is evidently beyond the interpretative abilities of an amateurish reader of Latin, so much so that several talented philologists have tried to emend it. Listing a series of instances serves therefore a purpose in its own right, independent of the significance of every individual passage quoted.

A second consequence of such a 'desultory' reading style is that one might expect to find an instance of word play where there is none, and feel disappointed as a result. This is exactly what happens to Hunink in the case of Met. 11,1,1 (analyzed on p. 55 of my book), where he rightly remarks that "there is no pun involved". No pun is involved, indeed, nor do I see why there should be one. The passage at met. 11,1,1 is brought into the argument for a different reason: it serves only as a parallel to another passage, met. 1,2,1, where the same verb emergo occurs. In this case, the reviewer has another and more serious objection to my method: he clearly does not approve my use of the adjective 'normal' (inverted commas by Hunink) with reference to the usage of emergo in 11,1,1, to support the necessity of an emendation at 1,2,1, where the transmitted text is unproblematic for Hunink (I quote: "The 'normal' use of emergo with separative ablative is adduced ... as evidence against F's reading, emersi me, transitive with accusative"). I cannot understand how one can consider it "outrageous" or simply methodologically wrong that an author's usus scribendi (which, incidentally, is perfectly consistent with classical standards) is used as an argument against a text that appears grammatically unsound. The passage at 11,1,1 (emergentem... fluctibus) is only one of the several passages used as evidence for the consistent Apuleian usage of intransitive emergo, construed either absolutely or with the ablative of origin. The phrase emersi me looks simply impossible to me, and so it has to such distinguished predecessors as Leo, Helm, Robertson, and more recently Keulen, who have emended the transmitted text in different ways. I only add that the simple expunction of me does not solve the problem: notwithstanding the validity of Keulen's arguments (see his comm. ad loc.), I have a serious problem with the transitive usage of emersi, governing the previous accusatives ardua montium et lubrica vallium et roscida cespitum et glebosa camporum. I respect of course position of Hunink, who sees no problem in this. I merely pointed out that Vallette's elegant conjecture, «emensus» emersi, which provides a good solution to the syntactical peculiarity of the phrase, is also supported by Apuleius' propensity to this type of paronomasia, with which I specifically deal in this section of the book (the paleographic explanation of the error is self-evident).

Last but not least, a third consequence of such a casual approach to the book is a gross (and, I have to say, definitely insulting) misunderstanding of my philological method. Hunink repeatedly states that I support more or less recent conjectures against the transmitted reading "because they fit a specific category of puns"; he declares himself "disturbed" by this. He implies that my textual choices are whimsical and arising from a stubborn wish to demonstrate my hypothesis. Perhaps it is true that I do not stand in much awe of the Codex Laurentianus (F), but I do have a great respect for philology, its methods and its principles.

For the benefit of readers who are less familiar with the textual tradition of Apuleius' works it may be useful to recall that F is, in all likelihood, the progenitor of all the available Apuleian manuscripts, and that F was written more or less nine centuries after Apuleius' time. Is it really absurd to question the readings of F, not only when they are clearly corrupt, but also when the rules and conventions of the Latin language are apparently above suspicion? There must be, of course, good grounds for emendation: whenever I support or suggest an emendation, I am always motivated by some inconsistency (be it linguistic or logical) in the transmitted text.

This is particularly evident in the case of the passage pointed out by Hunink. The reading of F in 11,30,4 deserviebat is certainly corrupt: an enormous number of emendations have been put forward to restore the passage, and among them I support one (ibidem serebat) that implies a word play which is also attested elsewhere in the novel. This perfectly reasonable proposal by Oudendorp, already suggested by Beroaldus, is far from being hazardous; indeed, it is clearly better than many other conjectures, as a glance at Helm's or Robertson's apparatus will confirm.

But there is more in the book that suggests that the text of F should perhaps be challenged where it has never been – and this is precisely what displeases Hunink, who protests: "it struck me that the author puts perfectly acceptable manuscript readings into question". This is absolutely true. And I hope this can be regarded as one of the original aspects of my book: it is certainly one that I am proud of.

I shall mention only a couple of cases in which the text of F is not usually called into question: the conjectures conserentes for the transmitted conferentes at Met. 5,15,3, and polentarium for polentacium at Met. 6,19,2 (pp. 128-129, 137-141 in my book) should at least be mentioned in the critical apparatus. I have never emended F to adapt Apuleius' text to my reading and to an aprioristic classification of puns. On the contrary, I devised my classification a posteriori, in order to catalogue the different kinds of etymological puns (real variations on a theme) that Apuleius uses so frequently. This peculiar stylistic feature, Apuleius's penchant for etymology, is the object of my book: I hope I succeeded in showing the continuous presence of it and how it works in the text. This peculiar trait of style can be used – such was my original aim – like any other trait of Apuleius' usus scribendi: it can help us restore and interpret difficult parts of the text, and can guide us towards a correct evaluation of scholarly contributions. This is my method, which I very much regret escaped Professor Hunink.

In my opinion, much can still be done to improve the text of the Metamorphoses and of the other Apuleian works; much is to be expected of M. Zimmerman's forthcoming Oxford edition. I also think that much can be done on the grounds of our always improving knowledge of Apuleius' language and style. We should not let ourselves be caught in a dilemma between a prudently conservative and a boldly innovative stance. Whenever the text of our codex unicus is suspect for reasons of grammar and language, or when doubts exist about its meaning, respect for the paradosis should not prevent us from supporting a good conjecture, if it is based on Apuleius' idiolect and style, finds good parallels, and is paleographically easy to explain.2

Unless one wants to consider the codex Laurentianus 68,2 a unique exception among classical texts, or to think that the philologist's trade is completely pointless.


1.   Typos in the indexes are admittedly bothersome, but surely there are worse mistakes. One example: the misprinted Latin text humani generi (sospitatrix) (p. 143 in the book – not far from one of the numeric typos mentioned by Hunink) is a linguistic monstrum that escaped not only my attention, and the editor's, but also that of the reviewer, who quotes the phrase exactly as he finds it on the page.
2.   It is a really democratic method, if one thinks about it. The very same consideration of the usus scribendi can in fact conversely support the readings of F against unnecessary conjectures, or contribute to the correct interpretation of uncertain passages. Several instances of both cases can be found in my Index rerum.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012


Perrine Galand-Hallyn, Fernand Hallyn, Carlos Lévy, Wim Verbaal (ed.), Quintilien: ancien et moderne études réunies. Latinitates, 3. Turnhout: Brepols, 2009. Pp. 576. ISBN 9782503528656. €95.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Andrea Balbo, Università di Torino (

Version at BMCR home site

«Modèle pour les pedagogues, les grammairiens, les philologues, les orateurs, comme les poètes et même pour les theoriciens des arts»:1 it would be difficult to give a more exact appreciation of Quintilian's role in the history of Western culture and literature. This excellent collection of 24 essays, proceedings of a conference held in Gand from 30th November to 3rd December 2005, focuses on the interpretation and exegesis of Quintilian from Antiquity to the Modern age

The first relevant, positive element about this book is its ample scope; if we look at the most recent bibliographical additions to the Quintilian dossier (in the Année Philologique or in the Neue Pauly), we find very few books published in the last 30 years covering the same or similar ground.2 The book dwells above all on the interest in Quintilian's works after Antiquity, following a research trend (the Fortleben) that is more and more important in Classical studies. So, the book will be useful not only for classicists or historians of rhetoric, but also for historians of the medieval and modern periods, as well as scholars interested in Medieval and Renaissance literature, researchers who are interested in the history of editing Classical texts and in Church history and Christianity .

The book is divided into three main sections. The first concerns some problems of interpretation of Quintilian's text, the subjects he discusses and Quintilian's role as a source for later declamation and the oratory of the later years of the first century AD. The second section is a detailed survey of Quintilian's influence on medieval and Renaissance authors. Finally, papers in the third section examine the role of Quintilian in the "Classical age" of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The six chapters of the first part explore first the relationship of Quintilian with the oratorical context of his times. Gualtiero Calboli and Ida Gilda Mastrorosa deal respectively with Quintilian's judgments about the declamatores and some aspects of judicial oratory in the second part of the first century AD, concentrating mainly on Pliny the Younger, who provides excellent information about some of the trials of his age and was himself, at some point, a pupil of Quintilian. The two articles aptly highlight the centrality of Quintilian as evidence for 'real' oratory in a period usually described as a moment of decadence for this literary genre. The next two papers cover the role of the Greek and Roman sources of the Institutio oratoria, with a particular attention, on the one hand, to the connections between Quintilian and the Greek rhetoricians (Chiron), and, on the other, to Cicero as source for knowledge of ancient philosophy (Lévy). The two papers are very important and innovative. Chiron deals with Quintilian's Greek vocabulary in a very subtle way, even if he does not cite the old, but still valuable, works of J. Cousin;3 Lévy dwells on Quintilian's clever use of quotations from Sceptic and Stoic philosophers in the Institutio, drawing an enlightening and detailed picture of Quintilian's philosophical background, and showing him as an intellectual interested in philosophy but in many respects very distant from his main model, Cicero. The final section consists of two papers; the first concerns the written composition, one of the most important elements of the "continuing education" canvassed in Institutio oratoria (M. S. Celentano).The second paper is about the tools and strategies used by the orator in order to reinforce his performance by the means of visible elements, such as imagines, and with a peculiar attention to objects produced expressly for oratorical aims, as the depicted image of Manius Curius prisoner in Quint. Inst. 6.3.72 (Moretti). The two chapters are very successful in stressing the centrality both of the continuous writing practice and of the communicative approach as important elements in Quintilian's rhetorical pedagogy.

The ten papers of the second section analyse Quintilian's influence between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, focusing especially on Italian and French authors, although two good papers are devoted to John of Salisbury and Erasmus of Rotterdam. Medieval and Renaissance authors see Quintilian as a rhetorician (Lecointe), a theorist of oratorical art, as an important source of declamatory materials (van der Poel). Other papers stress Quintilian's importance as an authority in the context of Medieval literature (Verbaal, Rouillé), in the development of poetical theories (Galand, Leroux) and in pedagogical questions (Nassichuk). Quintilian remained basic reading for all the cultivated people, even if they did not agree with his ideas, as in the case of Pierre de la Ramée, studied by Jean Lecointe. Among the above-mentioned papers I would single out Mariangela Regoliosi's chapter on the influence of Quintilian on Lorenzo Valla. Regoliosi does not limit herself to the well-known commentary in cod. Par. Lat. 7723, but highlights several different facets of Quintilian's influence on Valla (rhetorical and philosophical idioms, use of Greek, and even Valla's own understanding of the rhetorical tradition), describing effectively how Quintilian was the real magister eloquentiae of the Italian humanist.

The third section, made up of eight papers, tells a history of the "republic of letters" from the point of view of the Quintilian reception. Thanks to these studies, the reader understands the great importance of Quintilian's works in the religious world (Jesuits, post-Tridentine preachers, studied respectively by Baffetti and Conte), painters (Hallyn) and the authors of poetical treatises (Bury, Gutbub). The most original among the papers of this section concern authors or problems that have not been deeply studied yet with reference to Quintilian. They provide tangible proof of the great potential for research in the fields of classical survival and reception of the Quintilian tradition. This book offers engaging, wide-ranging discussions ofsome of the most relevant themes of Quintilian's influence and it will be a reference work of great value for many years. The editing of the book has been accurate and there are very few mistakes.4 Inclusion of indexes, for instance of ancient and modern passages and namesm, would have been helpful. Also, a final general bibliography instead of separate, short bibliographies at the end of every chapter would have been better.5

Table of contents

P. Galand, F. Hallyn †, C. Lévy et W. Verbaal, «Avant-propos», p. 5
Première partie
Quintilien dans l'antiquité: ses lectures et ses lecteurs
G. Calboli, Quintilien et les déclamateurs, p. 11
P. Chiron, L'héritage grec de Quintilien: le cas de l'exorde (IO, IV, 1), p. 29
M. S. Celentano, L'oratore impara a scrivere. Principi di scrittura professionale nell'Institutio oratoria di Quintiliano, p. 47
G. Moretti, Quintiliano e il 'visibile parlare': strumenti visuali per l'oratoria latina, p. 67
C. Lévy, Note sur un aspect de Quintilien lecteur de Cicéron: sceptiques et stoïciens dans l'Institution oratoire, p. 109
I.G. Mastrorosa, La pratica dell'oratoria giudiziaria nell'alto impero: Quintiliano e Plinio il Giovane, p. 125

Deuxième partie
Quintilien du Moyen-Âge à la Renaissance
W. Verbaal, Teste Quintiliano. Jean de Salisbury et Quintilien: un exemple de la crise des autorités au XIIe siècle, p. 155
F. Rouillé, Sur trois vers de l'Anticlaudianus d'Alain de Lille mentionnant Quintilien, p. 171
L. Hermand-Schebat, Pétrarque et Quintilien, p. 191
J. Nassichuk, Quintilien dans les traités pédagogiques du Quattrocento, p. 207
M. Regoliosi, Valla e Quintiliano, p. 233
M. van der Poel, Observations sur la déclamation chez Quintilien et chez Erasme, p. 279
J. Céard, Josse Bade, éditeur de Quintilien à la Rénaissance, p. 291
P. Galand, Quelques aspects de l'influence de Quintilien sur les premières poétiques latines de la Renaissance (Fonzio, Vadian, Vida), p. 303
V. Leroux, Quintilianus censor in litteris acerrimus: posterité des jugements de Quintilien sur les poètes antiques dans les poétiques latines de la Renaissance (1486-1561), p. 351
J. Lecointe, La nouvelle Babylone. Quintilien et le statut de l'èthos dans la rhétorique ramiste, p. 383

Troisième partie
Quintilien à l'Âge Classique
G. Baffetti, Quintiliano e i gesuiti, p. 399
E. Bury, Quintilien et le discours critique classique: Vaugelas, Guez de Balzac, Bouhours, p. 413
S. Conte, Presence de Quintilien dans les rhétoriques sacrées post-tridentines: le vir bonus, p. 433
C. Gutbub, Invention et imitation chez Quintilien: d'une invention à l'autre en passant par Pierre de Deimier, p. 471
A. Roose, Les bottines de François de la Mothe le Vayer, p. 501
F. Hallyn, Quintilien et le débat sur la peinture à l'âge classique: l'expression des passions, p. 515
F. Goyet, Les figures de pensée comme grands blocs, unités minimales pour construire un discours, p. 527
V. Kapp, Le rôle de Quintilien dans les débats sur la clarté, p. 559


1.   Avant-propos p. 8.
2.   The contributions with a general perspective are few. See the two important issues of Rhetorica 13, 2-3, 1995, about TheInstitutio oratoriaafter 1900 Years, 103-358 (with contributions also, for instance, about Goethe and Quintilian in Czech thought) and the proceedings of Tomas Albaladejo, Emilio del Río, José Antonio Caballero (eds.) Quintiliano: historia y actualidad de la retórica. Actas del Congreso internacional, Calahorra: Ayuntamiento de Calahorra, 1998.
3.   See Études sur Quintilien, Paris 1936 reprint Amsterdam 1967.
4.   Read téchne for techné (p. 110), Aeneas for Aeneus (p. 208), nobilium for nobiliorum (p. 209) ; eloquentia for eloquintia (p. 276). At the page 209 the discovery of Quintilian's manuscript by Poggio is dated in 1416, at page 211 at 1417: about this matter see also Furio Murru, Poggio Bracciolini e la riscoperta dell'Institutio oratoria di Quintiliano (1416), Critica storica 20, 1983, 621-626, that is not quoted in bibliography; in the index of contents the article of Florent Rouillé is printed without « d'Alain de Lille ».
5.   To Celentano's paper add Lonni Bahmer, Schreiben in der Ausbildung des Redners. Die « Institutio oratoria » als Grundriss für den Schreibunterricht heute, Rhetorik 17, 1998, 35-53; to Céard's, Jorge Fernández López, J. Bade acerca de M. F. Quintiliano en 1498 y 1516, Latomus 62, 2003, 902-910; in Lecointe's article, Juan María Núñez González, La doctrina del « oratorius numerus » en Cicerón, Quintiliano y Pierre de la Ramée in Quintiliano: historia y actualidad de la retórica. Actas del Congreso internacional, 1447-1456.

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Marie Verdoner, Narrated Reality: the Historia ecclesiastica of Eusebius of Caesarea. Early Christianity in the context of antiquity, 9. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011. Pp. vi, 208. ISBN 9783631605882. €42.80; $66.95.

Reviewed by David J. DeVore, University of California (

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Table of Contents

The oeuvre of Eusebius of Caesarea – bishop, book collector and editor, theologian, polemicist, chronicler, propagandist, and, to some in his lifetime, "heretic" – has not always been appreciated. Yet since the late 1990s his early works from before Constantine became sole Roman emperor in 324 have drawn a groundswell of scholarly of attention from historians, classicists and theologians. Eusebius' subtlety and comprehensiveness as a polemicist against non-Christian ethnic groups (Ulrich, Kofsky, A. Johnson, Schott, Morlet), his manipulation of previous written texts and innovative use of the technology of books (Carriker, Inowlocki, Grafton and Williams, Morlet), his skill in adapting Christian theology in dialogue with Platonist metaphysics and various theological critiques (Strutwolf, Kofsky, Johnson, Morlet, Schott, Zamagni), and even his vision of Christian society (Hollerich, Johnson, Morlet) have become the subjects of a number of recent volumes.1 Yet this renaissance has covered Eusebius's various authorial themes and aims unevenly, devoting relatively little attention to Eusebian historiography, and particularly to his most-read (or, better, most-cited) work, the Ecclesiastical History.2 The lag in attention to the History is understandable for at least two reasons. For one, the History's multifaceted intertextuality – between 40 and 50 percent of the text consists of direct quotations of varying correspondence to their Vorlagen – demands wide knowledge of both Eusebius and his sources and frustrates attempts to identify where sources' voices end and Eusebius' begins. For another, the History's complex and disputed compositional history has hindered scholars from mapping out the discursive contexts that it addresses.3

As fresh probing of the History is overdue, Marie Verdoner's new book, a translated revision of her 2007 Danish dissertation at the University of Aarhus, is a welcome study. Verdoner aims "to map the historical space implied in historia ecclesiastica" (1), by "regard[ing] text as a construction of meaning, drawing upon the surrounding cultural system, and thus becoming more than a by-word for the unique creation of the narrator- author" (2). Thereby Verdoner will explain "the cultural negotiations attending the turn into a post-Constantinian Christianity" (2): situating her reading within the new historicism, she dispenses explicitly with the older (to adapt a term from Herodotean and Thucydidean studies) "Eusebian questions" of compositional sequence and historical accuracy to focus instead on the History as an ideological document.

The book proceeds in five chapters. To establish the text's significance, Verdoner's introduction sketches the History's wide reception from late Roman to modern times (4-17). She then draws from poststructuralist theorists her study's guiding principle that historical narrative's combination of internal causal chains and coherence with perceived external realities serve to model power relationships for their audiences and retroject them into a plausible past (17-30).

Verdoner's second chapter sketches Eusebius's life and works briefly before discussing the composition, structure, and narrative techniques of the History. Marginalizing Eusebius the author to tackle the text's narratorial voice, Verdoner contrasts the History's annalistic and therefore discontinuous structure in books 1-7 (concerning events before Diocletian's persecutions) with the involved and passionate narration of recent persecutions in books 8-9, narration that (I concur) transforms reader into spectator. She also notes that the Eusebian narrator's famous use of quotations confirms the "external coherence" discussed in her introduction and edifies readers (65f.).

Chapter 3 moves on to the History's genre, which Verdoner introduces as the key to its authority. A discussion of "Hellenistic" and "Judeo-Christian history writing" (on which, see below) leads her to pronounce that the History "must be placed within the frames of the traditional Hellenistic-Roman history writing…regarding time,…subject, form and style" (84), though the text articulates apologetic arguments too.4 The strongest part of the book comes next (89-107), as Verdoner untangles Eusebius's carefully inflected self-descriptions as "I" or "we" (the latter sometimes including Christians from centuries before Eusebius, sometimes including Eusebius's readers ) and as an exceptionally book-smart savant. The narrator presents a narrative that is "out there" in texts and waiting for its teller, and its coalescence elevates the book that carries it into a sacred monument.5

The fourth chapter outlines how Eusebius constructs an ideal Christian community, unifying and arranging bishops, martyrs, and scholars across time, space, and rank within a Christian ethnos while systematically excluding "heretics," Judeans, and pagans (109-147).6 While Eusebius's stereotyped presentation of both insiders and outsiders creates a unified, pious Christian nation, Verdoner shows that certain groups and individuals threatened the stability of Eusebius's sharp hierarchies and divisions, such as "heresy's" status as an inversion of Christianity, the problematic border between Hebrews, Judeans, and Christians, and the narrator's praise of "heretical" and Judean scholars like Tatian, Philo and Josephus.

The fifth and final chapter situates Eusebius's imagined church vis-à-vis three contexts: space and time, the Roman imperial state, and the divine. The first two collapse into one as Verdoner shows that, "Chronologically, geographically, and politically, the Roman Empire appears as the borders of the church and as the entire world" (160). She also rightly reaffirms that for Eusebius historical agency lies ultimately with God, whose victory in a cosmic struggle with the devil is a foregone conclusion, but whose Providence, manifested in Christ's teaching, binds the church into continuity with God's people in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Verdoner's reading of the History as a unified ideological presentation is a suggestive experiment and an important corrective to studies that divide the text according to one or another compositional hypothesis or that emphasize Eusebius's sources to the exclusion of his authorial agenda. The book's most brilliant moments come when Verdoner probes the Eusebian narrator's voice, sequencing, rhythm, and intertextual devices, particularly in the second and third chapters.7 Verdoner's questions yield numerous provocative observations about Eusebius's narrative techniques that, while not all will agree with every point, should be foundational for understanding the History's success.

Alongside these suggestive readings, however, a tension develops between the book's aims and the path adopted to reach those aims: whereas Verdoner purports to explain the History's success in forming Christian collective memory and identity in the milieu in which Christianity gained power, her transtemporal orientation vis-à-vis what history does (chapter 1) marginalizes the particular habitus of the History's elite Roman audiences, running the danger of dehistoricizing the text (cf. her tributes to the New Historicism, 2, 21, 29). Neglect of the particular culture for which Eusebius wrote (as well as contemporary debates in which he participated) obscures Eusebius' contributions to "the larger renegotiation of Christianity's position within the Roman Empire" (187).

Rather than being grounded from the start in Eusebius's late Roman milieu, the book sketches Eusebius's literary culture only in its third chapter. But here Verdoner presupposes a distinction between "Hellenistic" and "Judeo- Christian" historiographies, even though she is at pains to delineate differences between these two traditions.8 Indeed, it is unclear how, in early fourth century Greek literary culture, an narrator-author's ethnicity conditioned readers' expectations about the blending of form, content, and rhetoric – in short, the genre – of a historiographical text. Educated hellenophones in Eusebius's day did not distinguish genres of historia simply by their respective authors' ethnicity: rather, any Greek historian had numerous subgenres from an 800-year tradition of historical writing available to emulate, so that Greek and non-Greek narrator-authors alike produced lengthy national histories, shorter war monographs, geographies and ethnographies, local histories, chronographies, and biographies, and combinations of several genres, each presuming different respective interests and education in audiences. And each genre (or combination of genres) implicated a text's narrator-author into a different relationship between subject matter, the narrator's voice, and readers (both implied and actual) – a nexus that represented a major concern for Eusebius (see esp. History 5.pref.3f.). A careful consideration of the History's genre(s) would bring into sharper relief the particular audiences targeted by Eusebius and help explain the History's resonance.

Nevertheless, Verdoner's discussion of Eusebius's narrative tactics and construct of Christianity will be fundamental in coming studies of the Ecclesiastical History. Her perceptive readings and fresh approach make this book a necessary acquisition for any scholar working on Eusebius and profitable for students of late Roman historical writing.

It must be noted that the book is marred by numerous grammatical errors, typos, colloquialisms, and awkward phrasings.10


1.   See also the recent collections of A.-C. Jacobsen, and J. Ulrich (eds.) Three Greek Apologists. Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius (Frankfurt, 2007) and S. Inowlocki and C. Zamagni (eds.), Reconsidering Eusebius (Leiden, 2011), as well as the forthcoming A. Johnson and J. Schott (eds.), Eusebius and the Making of Late Antique Literary Culture (Washington DC, 2012). Credit for laying the historical foundation for recent Eusebian scholarship goes largely to T. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge, MA, 1981).
2.   Indeed, Inowlocki and Zamagni excluded studies of the Ecclesiastical History from their recent volume (previous note; see their "Preface," pp. ixf.). Some of the best recent work on the History has treated circumscribed topics within the text, such as its quotational practice (E. Carotenuto, Tradizione e innovazione nella Historia Ecclesiastica di Eusebio di Cesarea (Bologna, 2001)), and portrayal of "heretics" (M. Willing, Eusebius von Cäsarea als Häresiograph (Berlin, 2008)). Recent assessments of the History include D. Mendels, The Media Revolution of Early Christianity (Grand Rapids, 1999), T. Morgan, "Eusebius of Caesarea and Christian Historiography," Athenaeum 93 (2005), Morlet, "Écrire l'Histoire selon Eusèbe de Césarée," L'Information Litteraire 57 (2005), and Ulrich, "Eusebius als Kirchengeschichtsschreiber," in E.-M. Becker (ed.), Die antike Historiographie und die Anfänge der christlichen Geschichtsschreibung (Berlin, 2005). A commentary on the History is also in the works: for a prospectus, see L. Perrone, "Eusèbe de Césarée face à l'essor de la littérature chrétienne," Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 11 (2007).
3.   The History was published in at least three editions between Constantine's and Licinius' securing joint rule in 313 and Constantine's deposing Licinius in 325, as R. Burgess has shown in "The Dates and Editions of Eusebius' Chronici Canones and Historia Ecclesiastica," Journal of Theological Studies 48 (1997) (but cf. Barnes, "Eusebius of Caesarea," Expository Times 120 (2009), 6f.).
4.   On non-Greeks writing "apologetic histories" in Greek in the Hellenistic and early Roman period, see G. Sterling, Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography (Leiden, 1991), an important study of which Verdoner appears unaware.
5.   Verdoner already maps the History's apologetic strategies and targets in "Transgeneric Crosses. Apologetics in the Church History of Eusebius," in Jacobsen and Ulrich (eds.), Three Greek Apologists (2007); she also discusses the Eusebian narrator's relationship with his audience trenchantly in "Überlegungen zum Adressaten von Eusebs Historia ecclesiastica," Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum 14 (2010).
6.   On Christianity as a nation in Eusebius's writings, see esp. A. Johnson, Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica (2006).
7.   It may cause some confusion that Verdoner nowhere introduces readers to the technical narratological terms that she employs throughout the monograph, except where at 89 n. 121 she explains why she uses "narrator" instead of "Eusebius": so confusion may result around such technical terms as "focalize," "focalizer" and "focalization" (passim), or "internal analepses" and "prolepses" (150). It is recommended that readers unfamiliar with narratology consult an introductory guide to the field, such as M. Bal, Narratology (Toronto, 2009).
8.   Verdoner points to (1) the agency of God and the teleology of his plan and (2) the Judean and Christian historians' direct quotation of texts. However, attributions of agency alone constitute no sound basis for a generic distinction, and Verdoner herself concedes in a footnote that Greek and Roman historians quoted texts too, and in ways similar to Judean and Christian historians (71 n. 17).
9.   On genre in ancient historiography, see the important essay of J. Marincola, "Genre, Convention, and Innovation in Greco-Roman Historiography," in C. Kraus (ed.), The Limits of Historiography (Leiden, 1999). Verdoner's discussion of the History's authority, which she links to its genre, would have benefited from consultation of Marincola's classic Authority and Tradition in Ancient Historiography (Cambridge, 1997).
10.   A few examples: the repeated use of "quote" as a noun; "the taxing style…resulting in the text getting an alluding character" (52); "although the lack of descriptions [sic] may be typical for the work as a whole, it is not consequent" (53); "…catching the room of communication with the reader…" (89 n. 121); "…the non-episcopal learned receiving the most attention is Origen." (113); "there is no consistent discern between schismatics and heretics" (145).

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Saturday, January 28, 2012


Claudia Bolgia, Rosamond McKitterick, John Osborne (ed.), Rome across Time and Space: Cultural Transmission and the Exchange of Ideas, c. 500-1400. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. xx, 351. ISBN 9780521192170. $99.00.

Reviewed by Réka Forrai, Central European University (

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Trying to map nine hundred years from the life of a city like Rome is a gigantic enterprise. However, this is the ambition of this compact little book of less than 400 pages. It discusses cultural transmission and the exchange of ideas centered on medieval Rome: Rome, the idea, and Rome, the place. With its clearly defined questions, and its innovative papers it proves to be an extremely useful compass that will help you navigate whether you are going towards or coming from Rome.

Framed by a list of illustrations (all black and white), of tables and maps at the beginning, and a general and a manuscript index at the end, the volume is divided in six subsections: Roman texts and Roman history; The translation of the Roman liturgy north of the Alps; Architectural inspiration and sculptural models within and without Rome; Cultural exchanges; Patrons, artists, and ideas on the move; Roman and papal jurisdictions. These chapter headings provide the focal points around which the contributors organize their ideas. The volume is not exhaustive of the theme, and some centuries are more present than others: the early middle ages dominate. Within the narrow foci of the different sections, however, the papers are engaging, informative and enter in a lively dialogue with each other.

The justification for these divisions is provided in the introduction of Claudia Bolgia. Her prefatory essay is a very strong and clear formulation of the organizing ideas, placing the book within current scholarly trends, showing how this collection is embedded in contemporary methodological debates or ongoing research projects. The essays collected here are derived from papers presented at a Cambridge conference in 2008. The main purpose was to explore Rome as place, horizontally, in space and as an idea, vertically, in time. Cultural transmission and exchange, the key concepts from the title of the book, serve as umbrella terms for diverse phenomena of adaptation, transformation, reinterpretation, and translation. The editors' intention was to work with these methodological concepts in a frame which is pregnant with different treatments of the idea of Rome. The book is thus the result of an interdisciplinary enterprise, where objects, ideas, and their human agents were all intended to be taken into account. However, the result displays a slight preference for the physical over the ideal: art historical studies make up the bulk of the volume. The focus continuously shifts not only between disciplines and centuries, but also from within Rome to outside, giving the reader a strong impression about how heavy the two-way traffic was on all those roads leading to Rome.

I Roman texts and Roman history

Rosamond McKitterick's "Roman texts and Roman history in the early Middle Ages" argues for the Liber Pontificalis as "alternative history." By looking at possible sources, she concludes that this serial biography follows Roman emperors' lives rather than martyrologies, in an attempt to change Rome's history from pagan into Christian by creating a competitive Christian historiographical tradition.

"Monuments and histories: ideas and images of Antiquity in some descriptions of Rome " by Maurizio Campanelli analyses of series of contemporary descriptions of Rome, and observing how Rome as a sacred, eternal place gradually turns into Rome as history book. The sources discussed are mainly the Mirabilia urbis Romae (12th century), Narracio de mirabilibus urbis Romae by Master Gregory (13th century), Giovanni Cavallini's Polistoria (14th century), concluding with the humanists Pier Paolo Vergerio, Poggio Bracciolini and Flavio Biondo.

Michael D. Reeve's "Rome, reservoir of ancient texts? " is a bibliographical survey, an up to date review of literature about the question of ancient Latin literature preserved in medieval Rome. The question mark at the end of the title refers to the one major setback of all such investigations: the lack of sources about the early history of Roman libraries.

II The translation of the 'Roman' liturgy north of the Alps

Éamonn ó Carragáin's "The periphery rethinks the centre: inculturation, 'Roman' liturgy and the Ruthwell Cross" analyses a famous early medieval Anglo-Saxon artefact, the Ruthwell Cross. This methodologically very creative piece of writing, starting from the difficulty of accounting for the uniqueness of certain cultural phenomena, argues against a "disintegrative approach" that only emphasizes Roman references, without noticing the innovative combination of the motifs into a "local theology". "The liturgy of the 'Roman' Office in England from the Conversion to the Conquest" by Jesse D. Billet is similar to the previous paper in that the author here argues for a "flexible idea of Romanness", which the Anglo-Saxons developed, a certain freedom in using the Roman liturgy, where the main idea was to be in harmony with the universal catholic church, while at the same time being open to eclecticism. This attitude turned to its reverse after the Conquest, when liturgical practice lost it's flexibility in an attempt to preserve its uniqueness, perceived as romanitas, as a way of opposing Carolingian customs.

"The Romanization of the Frankish liturgy: ideal, reality, and the rhetoric of reform" by Yitzhak Hen joins the previous liturgy studies setting out to further nuance pieces of mainstream received wisdom. In this case, the reality of the Romanness of the Frankish liturgy is under scrutiny. The author presents liturgy as a tool for political ideology and religious identity. These concepts, along with the use of Rome as a symbol of authority would explain the coexistence of a propaganda of uniform Romanization with a reality that was quite the contrary.

III Architectural inspiration and sculptural models within and without Rome

Judson J. Emeric in his "Building more romano in Francia during the third quarter of the eighth century: the abbey church of Saint-Denis and its model" presents Saint Denis also as both place and idea, like Rome. This makes its relation to Rome even more crucial. Here again we find a revision of an old line of inquiry, namely, what exactly was abbot Fulrad copying, when he modeled Saint Denis upon the basilica of Saint Peter? The author argues that Fulrad had in mind not the imperial Constantinian basilica, but the basilica of the popes, trying to relate to contemporary, rather than past architectural and political entities.

Sible de Blaauw in her "Reception and renovation of Early Christian churches in Rome, c. 1050–1300" discusses two types of strategies of renovation that are very different in method but similar in aim: the conservative (demonstrated in the cases of Saint Peter's and San Paolo fuori le mura) and the interventionist (exemplified by San Lorenzo fuori le mura and the Basilica of St. John Lateran). The first wants to renovate while keeping everything unaltered, conserving thus Early Christianity in its monuments; the other alters edifices, but based on Early Christian models, which will have the effect of making them look older than they are. Both strategies idealize early Christianity and its architecture.

John Mitchell's "Giudizio sul Mille: Rome, Montecassino, S. Vincenzo al Volturno, and the beginnings of the Romanesque" is a convincing attack on another piece of received wisdom. Mitchell, instead of attaching the myth of the beginning to a single name, Montecassino, proceeds to contextualize the phenomenon and to show how elements of a revival of Classical motives were occurring at different places in Italy at the same time: in Rome, at S. Vincenzo al Volturno, and only later at Montecassino.

"The discourse of columns" by Dale Kinney has as its subject columns (the cylindrical monolithic Roman type), or rather, the medieval discourse about them, both secular and exegetical, showing how they can be invoked as integral parts of a rhetoric of romanitas.

IV Cultural exchanges

The title of Jane Hawkes' "Design and decoration: re-visualizing Rome in Anglo-Saxon sculpture" again implies a cultural transmission in which the recipient territory is fertile, and the appropriation transformative. She suggests new paths for studying the Roman and Anglo-Saxon sculptural interconnections, focusing on the neglected non- figurative elements.

John Osborne's "Rome and Constantinople in the ninth century" depicts ninth-century Rome as a hub, the connecting point between East and West, especially from 843, the end of iconoclasm, when renewed connections between the emperor, patriarch and pope result in a revival of cultural communication. William R. Day, Jr's "Antiquity, Rome, and Florence: coinage and transmissions across time and space" is the only numismatic paper in the collection, but a very exhaustive one indeed. We are presented with the complex relationship between Roman and Florentine coinage and minting over the centuries: how they mutually inspire each other, and how they draw both on Antiquity, and the idea of romanitas.

V Patrons, artists, and ideas on the move

Julian Gardner's "French patrons abroad and at home: 1260–1300" provides us with a short series of portraits of French cardinals (Guillaume de Bray, Ancher Pantaléon, Guillaume Durand, Pierre de Montbrun, Hugues Aycelin), and the tomb sculpture of their burial sites in Italy and in France.

Paul Binski's "Art-historical reflections on the fall of the Colonna, 1297" discusses how, why and when the new Italian painting style of the Duecento reaches France. He argues for a quite early date (around1297) and emphasizes the political and religious driving forces behind this cultural translation.

Louise Bourdua's "Exports to Padua Trecento style: Altichiero's Roman legacy" discusses the Roman borrowings of a fourteenth-century Veronese artist, Altichiero. The author hypothesizes that Altichiero was exposed to classical Roman models personally, when travelling to Rome. The paper concludes with reflections on the possible reactions of Altichiero's contemporary audience to the classical allusions.

VI Roman and papal jurisdictions

Brenda Bolton's "A new Rome in a small place? Imitation and re-creation in the Patrimony of St Peter" is a vivid presentation of Viterbo's rise as a papal residence at the time of Innocent III, as a sort of pre-Avignon, and the use of the idea of Rome in the process. To move out of such a symbolic place, the papacy had to disentangle the idea of the papacy and the idea of Rome, but at the same time they were shaping Viterbo as a "new Rome". George Dameron's "Appealing to Rome (and Avignon) before the Black Death: ecclesiastical disputes and church patronage in medieval Tuscany" addresses the image of Rome from the point of view of canon law. He describes twelfth- to fourteenth-century ecclesiastical disputes where Tuscan cases end up in front of Rome or Avignon, and strategies of the locals to manipulate the possibilities of such appeals to the papal authority.

What I find extremely valuable in this book is that it diversifies and refreshes our understanding of the idea(s) of Rome prevailing in the Middle Ages. It does this by exemplifying with strong case studies a clear theoretical and methodological frame: cultural transmission and exchange of ideas are viewed in terms of appropriation and imitation rather than influence or impact. When treating Rome's relationship with contemporary cultural and political entities the book emphasizes the selectiveness with which ideas of Rome were treated, and the hybrid nature of the attempts at imitation. Roman institutions' own approach to their past traditions is also shown to have betrayed a great deal of elasticity and creativity. This collection thus achieves what conference proceedings often aim at, but rarely achieve: to produce a volume worthwhile reading both for its individual papers and for the overarching concept.

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Annunziata Rositani (ed.), Harvest Texts in the British Museum. Rivista degli studi orientali, nuova serie. Supplemento, no 1, vol. 82. Pisa; Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2011. Pp. 209 p., CD-ROM. ISBN 9788862273282. €220.00 (pb).

Reviewed by L. R. Siddall, Shore School (

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Annunziata Rositani has produced an excellent edition of 122 cuneiform documents from northern Babylonia (Sippar and Tell ed-Dēr), now kept in the British Museum. The texts are concerned with harvesting and date to the Old Babylonian Period from the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE) to the reign of Samsu-ditana (1625-1595 BCE). The range of texts comprises tablets, bullae and parallel pipe tags, which deal with labour contracts, lists of numbers and personal names, lists of quantities of silver and barley, contracts for the loan of specific harvesters, records of debt and one text that records the accumulated interest for the harvest. All texts have been competently edited and well presented in digital format in the accompanying CD ROM. The high quality editions combined with Rositani's discussion of the texts make this volume a solid contribution to the study of Old Babylonian agricultural organization.

There are a number of features of the book that make it a useful tool for further research on harvesting in Mesopotamia. The texts edited here have been arranged chronologically within the different typologies to clarify the prospographical connections between the witnesses, creditors and debtors named in the texts. Another excellent feature of this work is that Rositani has incorporated all known harvest texts in her analyses and summary tables and charts. In addition to the tables and charts, Rositani provides a catalogue, indices and concordances with museum numbers and collections, all of which provide the reader with a good coverage of Old Babylonian documents which come under the category "harvest texts."

The book opens with an extensive introduction (pp. 11-43), which provides an overview of the typologies of the texts, summary of the content and past studies of harvest texts, analyses of the different forms of texts and the meaning of key phrases, and the changes and continuities present in this corpus of texts. While Rositani is conscious of the gaps in the evidence, some significant observations and proposals about the harvest texts emerge. Of these, there are three discussions that are particularly interesting for understanding the terms used in the texts, and ultimately how we should interpret the harvest texts.

The first is a difficult point regarding the relationship between the amount of silver or barley transacted and the number of harvesters and people involved in the loan contracts (pp. 15-22). Since the average amount recorded (½ shekel of silver) in the texts is far too low for paying a team of harvesters, Rositani argues that the assignment of silver (or barley) at the beginning of the text is a retainer for the task of hiring harvesters, not a payment for the harvesters. In support of this proposal, Rositani suggests that the phrase šu does not indicate that the goods were "borrowed", as often translated, to be repaid by the labour of the harvesters, rather it is "received" (which is closer to the standard meaning "to take"). Rositani argues that the confusion in modern scholarship has arisen out of the genre of the text: she points out that the scribes have used the format of a loan document to write a labour contract and observes that these texts do not contain clauses typical of loan contracts such as interest rate clauses.

Second, Rositani argues that the punishment clause ūl illak(ū)ma kīma simdat šarrim ("should he/they not complete the work (he/they will be punished) according to the decree of the king") is a fine, rather than a decree to fulfill the obligations stipulated in the text (pp. 22-23). Rositani draws on a few related texts to support this theory, but there is little in these cited texts to confirm this plausible idea.

Finally, Rositani reconsiders the meaning of the verb alāku in the conditional clauses of the labor contracts (pp. 23-28). The standard meaning of the verb is "to go," but idiomatically it can mean "to perform" a task, which is the usual way this verb has been translated. Rositani convincingly argues that the harvesters are not the subject of the verb, but the beneficiary of the silver/barley transaction. For Rositani, the beneficiary of the transaction is a labor contractor who hired harvesters for a conveyor who was responsible for the fields. Rositani goes on to argue that the verb alāku conveys the sense that the contractor was obliged to bring the harvesters to the field, which is closer to the standard meaning of the verb rather than the idiomatic expression. Interestingly, Rositani does not use this interpretation of alāku in the translations in chapter 1.

Rositani has edited the harvest texts by presenting transliterations and translations with commentaries on the texts over two chapters. Chapter one (pp. 67-162) contains the loan contracts and lists, and chapter two (pp. 163-193) contains the dockets and receipts. Each cuneiform document has been accurately edited and the cross-referencing between the texts is consistent throughout the book. In the reviewer's opinion, Rositani's method of presenting text editions is the best way of doing so. Each tablet has been expertly photographed and is entirely readable. Digital photography is at such an advanced stage that some scholars now favour digital images of cuneiform texts over hand copies in order to minimize the amount of interpretation and present as close a record of the artifact as possible. Interestingly, Rositani does not ascribe this practice to a particular philosophical or technical view on the accuracy of hand copies, but states that technical drawings of the tablets were not included because the content is so formulaic that copies were not required (p. 11, n. 1).

Rositani closes the book with useful indices of the texts divided by divine names, personal names, titles and occupations, and toponyms. The indices are followed by hand copies of broken and illegible signs from the texts.

The reviewer has one minor quibble with the CD ROM. The tablets are arranged according to their museum numbers rather than the order in which they appear in the book. It would have been easier to cross-check Rositani's edition with the photographs if they had appeared in the same order.

In sum, Rositani has produced a very good volume of harvest texts, which is a solid contribution to the study of Old Babylonian agriculture and economics. While there may be debate over some of Rositani's interpretations of the harvest texts, Assyriologists and scholars of ancient economics will profit from engaging with the discussions presented in this book.

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Concetta Luna, Alain-Philippe Segonds (ed.), Proclus, Commentaire sur le Parménide de Platon. Tome II, livre II. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 476. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2010. Pp. cxliv, 350. ISBN 9782251005607. €57.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Benedikt Strobel, Universität Trier (

Version at BMCR home site

Vor knapp mehr als vier Jahren erschien Buch II von Proklos' Parmenides-Kommentar erstmals in einer kritischen Edition, enthalten im ersten Band1 der von Carlos Steel u.a. (= edd. O.) in der Reihe Oxford Classical Texts von 2007 bis 2009 publizierten dreibändigen Gesamt-Edition des Parmenides-Kommentars (= ed. O.). Mit dem hier anzuzeigenden zweiten Band der von Concetta Luna und Alain-Philippe Segonds (†) (= edd. P.) herausgegebenen Budé-Ausgabe des Parmenides-Kommentars (= ed. P.) liegt nun eine weitere kritische Edition von Buch II vor. Bedingt durch das andere Format der Budé-Reihe, enthält der Band auch eine (französische) Übersetzung sowie ausführliche „Notes complémentaires".

In diesen braut sich auf vielen Seiten2 als dunkles Gewölk zusammen, was mittlerweile, auf mehr als 250 Seiten des jüngst erschienenen dritten Bands der ed. P.,3 als heftiges Gewitter über die edd. O. hereingebrochen ist: eine Generalabrechnung mit der editorischen Praxis der edd. O. Dieser als „Introduction au livre III" betitelte Verriß in Buchformat ist nicht Gegenstand der vorliegenden Besprechung; dennoch muß hier auf ihn hingewiesen werden, da mit ihm diejenige Strategie ihren Höhepunkt erreicht hat, die ihren Schatten bereits auf die „Notes complémentaires" des zweiten Bands der ed. P. wirft: die Strategie, selbst die kleineren Fehler der früheren Editoren (v.a. der edd. O.) genüßlich auszuwalzen (vgl. z.B. 217 der „Notes complémentaires": „Doit-on croire que les edd. Oxon. n'ont pas su faire la distinction entre un participe présent actif et un participe aoriste passif ?"4), um die philologischen Fähigkeiten der edd. O. in ein ungünstiges Licht zu rücken.5

Fehler der Vorgängereditionen sollten in einer neuen Edition korrigiert und, wo der Sache nach nötig, auch zur Sprache gebracht werden; aber die Selbstgewißheit, mit der die edd. P. schon im zweiten Band mit der ed. O. ins Gericht gehen, befremdet angesichts der erheblichen Schwierigkeiten, die die Konstitution des Texts des Parmenides-Kommentars aufwirft und die unausbleiblich zur Folge haben, daß editorische Entscheidungen an verschiedenen Stellen als zweifelhaft oder jedenfalls nicht alternativlos erscheinen.6 Wie brüchig in der Tat das Fundament ist, auf dem die ostentative Selbstgewißheit der edd. P. ruht, möchte ich an einigen Beispielen aus Buch II illustrieren, die den Aspekt der Textkonstitution betreffen (Seiten- und Zeilenzahlen beziehen sich für Bücher I-III auf die ed. P., für die übrigen Bücher auf die zweite Edition von Cousin; den edd. P. folgend, bezeichne ich mit „Σ" den Hyparchetyp der griechischen Textzeugen, mit „g" die lateinische Übersetzung Wilhelms von Moerbeke).

724,19 ὑπενεχθέν ed. P. : ἀπενεχθέν Σ: feratur g] Die edd. P. rechtfertigen ihre Konjektur mit der Feststellung, daß Proklos an anderen Stellen ὑποφέρομαι in dem hier erforderlichen Sinne gebrauche (317). Die Feststellung ist richtig – was die edd. P. aber nicht notieren: auch ἀποφέρομαι ist in demselben Sinn für Proklos an zwei Stellen außerhalb des Parmenides-Kommentars belegt (siehe Theol. Plat. II 7, 50,1-2: εἰς πλῆθος καὶ διαίρεσιν ἀποφέρεται und In Alc. 117,5-6: εἰς ἀοριστίαν ἀποφέρεται). Dies ist ein hinreichender Grund, um zu überlegen, ob nicht auch ἀποφέρομαι im hier erforderlichen Sinne Proklos' usus scribendi entspricht.

724,23-25 οὕτω γὰρ ὁ ἐκείνων [sc. τῶν πολλῶν] λόγος εὐεξέλεγκτος, ἐπεί, εἴγε τὰ πολλὰ τιθοῖτο [τιθοῖτο ed. P. : τίθοιντο Σ: ponantur g] μετὰ τοῦ ἑνός, οὔπω διὰ τοῦτο [τοῦτο ed. P. ex g (hoc) : ταῦτα Σ] ἐλέγχοιτο ἄν] τιθοῖτο wird damit gerechtfertigt, daß das Subjekt nicht οἱ πολλοί, sondern ὁ Ζήνων sei (119). Diese Annahme ist nicht plausibel, da der Sprung von ὁ ἐκείνων λόγος – als (explizites) Subjekt zu εὐεξέλεγκτος – zu ὁ Ζήνων – als (implizites) Subjekt zu τιθοῖτο – und wieder zurück zu ὁ ἐκείνων λόγος – als (implizites) Subjekt zu ἐλέγχοιτο – nur dazu geeignet wäre, Konfusion zu stiften (der Subjektswechsel im folgenden Satz ist hingegen wohlverständlich). Als Einwand gegen οἱ πολλοί als Subjekt wird vorgebracht: „Cela n'a évidemment pas de sens de dire « si les πολλοί avaient posé [τιθοῖντο] les plusieurs avec l'un », car, si tel était le cas, Zénon n'aurait jamais songé à les réfuter, pour la simple raison que c'était là sa propre thèse" (119). Der Einwand überzeugt nicht: denn Proklos erläutert hier mit einer kontrafaktischen Überlegung, warum der λόγος der Vielen zum Gegenstand der zenonischen Widerlegung wird: Es ist noch nicht die Annahme der vielen Dinge (vgl. οὔπω διὰ ταῦτα [sc. τὰ πολλά]), die ihn widerlegbar macht, sondern die Annahme, daß die vielen Dinge nicht am Einen teilhaben: „Auf diese Weise nämlich [d.h. aufgrund der Annahme, daß die vielen Dinge nicht am Einen teilhaben] ist ihr λόγος [d.h. der λόγος der Vielen] leicht widerlegbar, denn wenn sie [sc. die Vielen] die vielen Dinge zusammen mit dem Einen ansetzen würden, würde ihr λόγος noch nicht dieser [vielen Dinge] wegen [d.h. bloß aufgrund der Annahme der vielen Dinge] widerlegt werden können". (Eine analoge Interpretation ist natürlich auch mit τιθοῖτο möglich, wenn ὁ ἐκείνων λόγος als Subjekt angenommen wird.)

724,27 κατὰ <τὴν> [add. ed. P.] δόξαν τὴν ἐκείνων] Vgl. [Pl.] Epin. 984b5: κατὰ δόξαν τὴν ἐπιεικῆ und Arist. SE 180b24: κατὰ δόξαν τὴν αὑτοῦ.

725,30-31 ὡς δὲ μη<δὲν κοινὸν ὅλως> ἔχοντα ἀνόμοια ed. P., ὅλως iam add. ed. O. ex g (totaliter)] Im folgenden (725,33: οὐδὲν γὰρ ἔχει ταύτῃ κοινόν, siehe folgende Anmerkung) wird die These, daß die πολλά, verstanden als ἑνὸς ἀμέτοχα, ἀνόμοια seien, damit begründet, daß sie nichts Gemeinsames haben. Diese Begründung wäre überflüssig, wenn Proklos schon in 725,30-31 gesagt hätte: ὡς δὲ μη<δὲν κοινὸν ὅλως> ἔχοντα ἀνόμοια [sc. ἔσται τὰ πολλά]. Zu schreiben ist vielmehr, teils aus g: ὡς δὲ μη<δ' ὅλως> ἓν ὄντα [ἓν ὄντα für ἔχοντα] ἀνόμοια [sc. ἔσται τὰ πολλά]. Denn genau auf das μηδ' ὅλως ἓν εἶναι wird im folgenden (725,31-32) mit αὐτὸ τοῦτο [...] <τὸ τοῦ ἑνὸς μὴ μετέχειν> [ex g suppl. ed. O. praeter τὸ, quod add. ed. P.] Bezug genommen. Vgl. zu ἓν ὄντα auch 725,18-19: τὰ πολλὰ [...] ἕν ἐστι. Der Gebrauch von μηδ' ὅλως (bzw. μηδὲ ὅλως) ist typisch proklisch (21 Belege; keiner für μὴ ὅλως). Ob in Wilhelms Vorlage μὴ ὅλως oder μηδ' ὅλως stand, muß offenbleiben: wenngleich er μηδ' ὅλως in der Tat üblicherweise mit neque totaliter übersetzt (vgl. 128), gibt es auch Belege für die Entsprechung μηδ' ὅλως ~ non totaliter (vgl. Dub. 27,8 und Simp. In Cael. 57,24-25).

725,33-34 μηδὲν γὰρ ἔχει οὕτω κοινόν· τὸ γὰρ μὴ ἓν κοινόν ἐστι add. ed. P., partim ex g (nichil enim habent sic commune: quod enim commune est)] Die edd. P. tadeln die edd. O. für die Wahl von οὐδὲν statt μηδὲν mit dem Argument, daß Proklos im folgenden (725,35 und 37) τὸ μηδὲν ἔχειν κοινόν schreibe (129). Dieses Argument läßt die nötige „connaissance de la langue grecque"7 vermissen: In 725,35 und 37 steht μηδὲν, weil dies die mit Artikel versehene Infinitivkonstruktion fordert (vgl. Kühner/Gerth II, 197); an der vorliegenden Stelle hingegen ist οὐδὲν korrekt (an den beiden Stellen bei Proklos, an denen μηδὲν zu Beginn eines γὰρ-Satzes überliefert ist, ist es in eine Infinitivkonstruktion eingebettet; sonst findet sich durchweg οὐδὲν γὰρ). Fragwürdig ist weiter die Deutung von sic als Wiedergabe von οὕτω; gemeint ist hier nicht „auf diese Weise", sondern „in dieser Hinsicht". Der Ausdruck dafür ist ταύτῃ (das von Wilhelm häufig mit sic übersetzt wird). Das τὸ γὰρ μὴ ἓν κοινόν ἐστι schließlich eignet sich nicht zur Begründung von οὐδὲν γὰρ ἔχει ταύτῃ κοινόν, sondern steht dazu im Widerspruch (wenn das μὴ ἕν den πολλά gemeinsam ist, haben sie doch etwas Gemeinsames). Proklos' Argumentation fordert vielmehr τὸ γὰρ κοινὸν ἕν ἐστι (aus g mit Ausnahme von ἕν): Die Aussage, daß das Gemeinsame ἕν ist, soll im Umkehrschluß rechtfertigen, daß die vielen Dinge, die nicht am ἕν teilhaben, nichts Gemeinsames haben.

732,8 ἐπιτελῇ τοὺς λόγους ed. P. ex g (consummet sermones) : ἐπὶ τελ (τέλους W) τῶν λόγων Σ] Die gewaltsame Änderung des überlieferten τῶν λόγων in τοὺς λόγους stimmt mißtrauisch, und dieser Verdacht bestätigt sich, wenn man beachtet, daß Proklos ἐπιτελέω nicht im hier erforderlichen Sinne von „beenden", sondern im Sinne von „zur Ausführung bringen" verwendet. Korrekt ist vielmehr das von Cousin und den edd. O. gedruckte ἐπὶ τέλει τῶν λόγων. Das folgende καὶ ist nicht konnektiv, sondern adverbial („auch"). Wilhelms Übersetzung gründet vermutlich in einer Verderbnis seiner Vorlage.

733,5 εἰ <δὲ> [add. ed. P.] τοῦτο] Die Einfügung von δὲ soll ein Asyndeton vermeiden; aber das Asyndeton bei εἰ τοῦτο ist bei Proklos üblich (vgl. In Prm. 821,17; 867,15-16; 1113,18).

733,15-16 καὶ πρὸς ἄλληλα *** [lacunam stat. ed. P.] μέντοι] Die Annahme der Lücke ist überflüssig; Proklos verwendet die Iunktur καὶ ... μέντοι öfter (vgl. z.B. In R. 2,188,1-2; In. Ti. 1,253,9; In Ti. 1,177,23). μέντοι dient der Betonung von πρὸς ἄλληλα im Kontrast zu πρὸς αὐτόν (733,14-15).

745,40-746,6 δεῖ δὲ μεμνῆσθαι κἀκείνου [κἀκείνου ed. P. : κἀκείνων Σ: et illorum g], ὅτι πᾶσαι τῶν ὁπωσοῦν εἶναι λεγομένων αἱ μονάδες τὰ μὲν παράγουσιν ὡς ἀπὸ ὁλικῶν ἑαυτῶν καθ' ὑπόβασιν μερικώτερα, τῆς ἰδιότητος τῆς αὐτῆς <μὲν> [μὲν add. ed. P.] μενούσης, μερικωτέρας δὲ μόνον γιγνομένης, τὰ δὲ κατ' οὐσίας ἐξαλλαγὴν ὡς ἀπὸ παραδειγμάτων <ἑαυτῶν> [add. ed. P.] εἰκόνας [εἰκόνας ed. P. : εἰκόνων Σ: imaginum g] <ὡς> [add. ed. P.] γίγνεσθαι προόδους] Fünf Änderungen in einem einzigen Satz, von denen vier falsch sind. Vgl. zum überlieferten κἀκείνων ὅτι die von Proklos häufig verwendete Iunktur κἀκεῖνα [...] ὅτι: In R. 1,144,21; In Prm. 938,38; 1025,39; in Ti. 2,162,4 (etc.). Für die drei letzten Änderungen gilt: ἑνὸς ἀτόπου δοθέντος τὰ ἄλλα συμβαίνει. Da sie annehmen, daß ὡς ἀπὸ παραδειγμάτων genau parallel zu ὡς ἀπὸ ὁλικῶν ἑαυτῶν konstruiert werden müsse (vgl. 196), verkennen die edd. P. die wirkliche Funktion des ὡς vor ἀπὸ παραδειγμάτων, welches einen Konsekutivsatz (ὡς ἀπὸ παραδειγμάτων εἰκόνων γίγνεσθαι προόδους) einführt. Syntaktisch ergibt sich daraus kein exakter Parallelismus, aber Struktur und Sinn des Satzes bleiben völlig verständlich.

747,28-29 τὸ μὲν μᾶλλον <μεταλαμβάνον ὁμοιοῦται καὶ ἀνομοιοῦται μᾶλλον> [add. ed. P.], τὸ δὲ ἧττον δῆλον ὡς ἧττον] Der Lösungsansatz ist gut, aber die Lösung selbst befriedigt nicht, denn sie generiert ein an dieser Stelle nicht akzeptables Asyndeton. Es läßt sich leicht vermeiden, indem man annimmt, daß τὸ μὲν μᾶλλον <μεταλαμβάνον> und τὸ δὲ ἧττον [sc. μεταλαμβάνον] partitive Appositionen zu ἕκαστον sind und jeweils aus 747,25-26 λέγεται ὅμοιον καὶ ἀνόμοιον mitzudenken ist. Schreibe entsprechend: τὸ μὲν μᾶλλον <μεταλαμβάνον μᾶλλον> [sc. λέγεται ὅμοιον καὶ ἀνόμοιον], τὸ δὲ ἧττον δῆλον ὡς ἧττον, mit Komma statt Hochpunkt an das Vorhergehende anzuschließen.

Diese Beispiele seien angeführt, um das von den edd. P. gezeichnete Zerrbild der ,guten' Edition einerseits (der ed. P.), der ,schlechten' andererseits (der ed. O.) ein wenig zurechtzurücken. Natürlich liegt in meiner Anführung ausschließlich negativer Beispiele eine gewisse Einseitigkeit, aber sie soll hier als Korrektiv der Einseitigkeit dienen, mit der die edd. P. ihre Vorgänger kritisieren. Im übrigen sollen die großen und offensichtlichen Verdienste der ed. P. nicht verschwiegen werden: erhebliche Fortschritte in der Analyse der handschriftlichen Überlieferung, in der Darbietung der relevanten Zeugen dieser Überlieferung wie auch in der Dokumentation moderner editorischer Interventionen, nicht zuletzt in der (von gelegentlichen Ausnahmen abgesehen) sorgfältigen Prüfung des handschriftlich Überlieferten. Die Edition weckt Freude über viele schöne neue Ergebnisse; leider ist diese – aus den genannten Gründen – eine vergällte Freude.


1.   Carlos Steel/Caroline Mace/Pieter d'Hoine, Procli in Platonis Parmenidem Commentaria. Tomus I libros I-III continens, Oxford 2007.
2.   Vgl. z.B. 128-129, 131, 150, 169-171, 173, 195-196, 208, 215-217, 243-244, 251, 255, 260-261, 270-273, 279, 285, 287.
3.   Vgl. Concetta Luna/Alain-Philippe Segonds, Proclus: Commentaire sur le Parménide de Platon. Tome III, 1re partie: Introduction au livre III, Paris 2011, lxxxii-cccxliv („Chapitre I.II: L'édition d'Oxford").
4.   Die edd. O. drucken versehentlich ὑποτιθὲν aus A statt ὑποτεθὲν.
5.   Vgl. das Fazit über die ed. O. in Luna/Segonds, Proclus: Commentaire sur le Parménide de Platon. Tome III, a.a.O. [Anm. 3], cccxviii: „[...] la maîtrise des techniques philologiques et même tout simplement la connaissance de la langue grecque s'avèrent insuffisantes, s'agissant d'une édition qui prétend être l'édition critique définitive. Il y a donc nécessité de donner une nouvelle édition appuyée sur la connaissance complète et exacte de la documentation manuscrite et des conjectures proposées par les savants, et conforme aux méthodes philologiques aujourd'hui généralement appliquées."
6.   Vgl. meine Besprechung zu Leen Van Campe/Carlos Steel, Procli in Platonis Parmenidem Commentaria. Tomus III libros VI-VII continens, Oxford 2009, in: Gnomon 83 (2011), 485-492, hier 487.
7.   Vgl. oben Anm. 5.

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Friday, January 27, 2012


Mabel Lang, Thucydidean Narrative and Discourse. Ann Arbor: Michigan Classical Press, 2011. Pp. xxiii, 219. ISBN 9780979971341. $65.00. Contributors: Edited by Jeffrey S. Rusten and Richard Hamilton.

Reviewed by Timothy Doran, University of California at Berkeley (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents appears at the end of the review.]

Mabel Lang died in 2010 after 53 years of publishing a dozen books and over four dozen articles on Greek history, archaeology, epigraphy, and literature on topics varying from the Greek abacus to Homeric prayers. At Bryn Mawr she was Paul Shorey Professor of Greek, receiving this title in 1971 after Richmond Lattimore. This edition of her works on Thucydides, collected and edited by Rusten and Hamilton, contains a brief foreword by Mary Patterson McPherson giving the reader an impression of Lang's character and personal style; an essay by Rusten; Lang's essays themselves, which number fifteen, most previously published; an absorbing biographical sketch by her student Eleanor Dickey explaining Lang's cult status at Bryn Mawr and manifest gifts as teacher and scholar; a list of Lang's publications; and a bibliography. Rusten's essay describes Lang's modes of analysis, explains how the volume is organized, and discusses each essay within, alerting readers to others' works which have picked up where Lang left off, or have productively disagreed with Lang's views.

This volume overall contributes to the growing body of studies of Thucydidean narratology and to many historical events and issues in Thucydides' text. It will thus not alienate those scholars to whom some narratological analysis may seem overly contrived. Its essays can be profitably read alongside Hornblower's three-volume Commentary on Thucydides and particularly his 1994 essay "Narratology and Thucydides," Rood's Thucydides: Narrative and Explanation, even very historical and non-narratological works on Thucydides like Gomme, Andrewes, and Dover Historical Commentary on Thucydides, as well as more speech-focused recent works such as Carolyn Dewald's Thucydides' War Narrative: a Structural Study, Paula Debnar's Speaking the Same Language: Speech and Audience in Thucydides' Spartan Debates, Jeffrey Rusten (ed.), Thucydides (Oxford Readings in Classical Studies), and many essays in the recent Brill's Companion to Thucydides, especially those by Rood, Morrison, Stahl, and Bakker. Although focused on form and structure, Lang neither blocks out the exterior world of other types of evidence and authors, nor radically reconceptualizes Thucydides' work as a sort of Hartogian or Fehlingesque "Thucydidean imaginary." All the same, her primary criterion for her judgment of Thucydides in most essays here is his authorial effectiveness, not his accuracy as might be controlled from other evidence. This balance works very well, with some exceptions. Rather than skimming too briefly over each essay in this book, many of which, again, have been published already, I here explore those I consider particularly relevant or representative.

The essays published as Chapters 2 through 9, all previously published from 1948 to 1996, focus more on historical events than on Thucydides' text. "A Note on Ithome," originally published in 1967, discusses Thucydides' account of the Spartan promise to the Thasians to invade Attike in order to prevent the Athenians from taking Thasos. Lang's interpretation does not entirely convince. Most see the Spartans' failure to invade Attike as resulting from Sparta's horrific earthquake of the 460s. Lang instead sees the Spartans summoning the Athenians into the Peloponnese in order to divert them from taking Thasos, thus keeping their promise to the Thasians, and then dismissing them since upon Thasos' capture there was no point in diverting the Athenians any longer. Yet de Ste. Croix' explanation for the Spartan dismissal of the Athenian forces meshes better with Thucydides' own: namely, that the Spartans were afraid that the Athenians might have sympathy for the helots, and distrusted the Athenians on ethno-racial grounds.1 And if the earthquake was even a small fraction as damaging as is suggested by the tradition preserved in Diodorus Siculus 11.63.4 and Plutarch's Kimon 16, perhaps Sparta was too pressed by Spartiate deaths and massive joint helot-perioikic revolt to engage in subtle diplomacy of the kind Lang reconstructs.

"Scapegoat Pausanias," also originally published in 1967 and presented here as chapter 4, questions Thucydides' narration of the Spartan regent Pausanias' degeneration in the Hellespont after the Persian Wars and Sparta's subsequent punishment of him (Thuc. 1.128-134). Many details in Thucydides' account indeed seem implausible, such as how precisely the letter from Pausanias to Xerxes could have been discovered (Thuc. 1.128.6). But as Lang notes, many cruces in the passage have been used by different scholars both to support and to undermine Thucydides' historical accuracy, such as the Persian locutions in Xerxes' letter in 1.129.3; these can support its accuracy or tell against it since they might seem planted. Moreover, some of Lang's suspicions may not convince all readers. She distrusts Thucydides' account of Sparta's failure to protest Pausanias' demotion and eviction from Byzantion. However, this might instead evidence a rather panhellenist Spartan horror at Pausanias' stylistic Medism, as Thucydides described in 1.130—that is, at Pausanias' going native like Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Lang argues that the Spartan government authorized Pausanias' Persian parleys and, upon these being made public, branded him a rogue agent. Her reconstruction is ingenious, but highly hypothetical—as she herself admits.

Analysis of patterns in Thucydides' writing predominates in the essays published as chapters 1 and 10—15; these all date from the 1990s and later. "Participial Motivation in Thucydides," first published in 1995 and printed here as chapter 1, analyzes how Thucydides attributes motivation to his individuals with participles conveying knowing, perceiving, thinking, willing, expecting, or trusting. Lang notes that most of the individuals whose motivations Thucydides describes, such as Cleon, were probably not among his circle of informants: this implies, naturally, that he took liberties in assessing motivation. The essay ends with two appendices: one listing men by name and the participles used to motivate their actions, and another organized by participle with the names of the persons upon whom they were used and their connected actions. This should prove a fine tool for further analysis of persons in Thucydides.

Chapter 11, "Thucydides as Speech-Writer," reconstructed from Lang's notes by Hamilton and Rusten, compares two speeches from Thucydides 4: that by Brasidas to the Akanthians, and that by Hermocrates to the Sicilians. Lang plausibly argues that Thucydides never heard these, but had to invent them along his usual lines. These speeches both feature ring composition and unity of theme expressed through recurring catchphrases. Here Lang argues that the repetitiveness of Brasidas' notorious invocations of freedom alongside his threats may display Thucydides' delight in the curt, reusable effectiveness of his own rhetorical creation. Lang convincingly argues that the formulaic nature of these speeches differs from speeches Thucydides gives to the two men elsewhere because these speeches perforce involved less reportage and more creative effort on Thucydides' part. A similar difference in rhetorical texture appears in a speech Alcibiades gave to the Spartans at 6.89-92, which differs from Thucydides' other speech of Alcibiades at 6.16-18: Lang argues from this fact and from the speech's circularity that it nicely represents the Thucydidean τὰ δέοντα.

"Thucydides, First Person," also never published, appears as Chapter 12. It first foregrounds the difference between the Herodotean historei and the Thucydidean sungraphei—to Lang, these are respectively acts of compiling versus interpretation. This distinction helps to inform the other ways by which Thucydides separates himself from Herodotus. This leads to a brilliant, hilarious reinterpretation of Thucydides' opening words in which the anxiety of (Herodotean) influence lies behind almost every phrase, then a careful listing of distinctions among the patterns of Thucydides' usages of first-person pronouns and verbs, finding some usages to be interpretive or explanatory and others to be argumentative. Chapter 15, "Necessary for whom? Direct vs. Indirect Speeches in Thucydides," another previously unpublished essay, is the longest and most involved piece in the volume. In it Lang argues that Thucydides uses direct discourse to interpret and explain, and indirect discourse to show motivation and the creation of incentives for desired behavior. She then builds on this to create an increasingly complex series of distinctions. For example, in structured pairs of direct and indirect speeches, direct speeches occur when the speaker needs to make a more difficult argument so that rhetorical flourishes may help it, whereas indirect speeches suffice for more obvious arguments. Her detection of these elaborate, hidden structures of paired and tripled speeches—some chiastic, some in the order of thesis- antithesis-synthesis—in many places in Thucydides' account enables her to argue (unsurprisingly) that the structure and function of some sets of speeches in his text is too contrived to represent an unembellished account of the actual proceedings (e.g. the Plataian-Theban debate in Thucydides Book 3) and concludes that Thucydides has resorted to writing "τὰ δέοντα with a vengeance" (p. 173). This will not be very surprising to most readers in the 21st century. The essay ends with a chart over nine pages long compiled by Lang and Rusten which codes each speech in Thucydides 2-5.25, 6, and 7 according to whether it is written in direct or indirect discourse, what its type is (proposal, interchange, advice, excuse, command, anecdote, etc.), and its response (negative, no response, or positive). This sort of tabular format, with its abbreviations, looks intimidating and may leave chartophobic classicists cold, but that is beside the point; it is a real feat of analysis allowing us to see how Thucydides used words, and can enable scholars to discover further patterns. Admittedly Lang's discovery of such highly elaborated speech patterns may strike some readers as an overly imaginative, overly schematic quasi- numerology at first. And not everyone will be convinced that these structures exist, or carry the meanings she sees. One is reminded of Gordon Shrimpton's caveat in his review of her methodologically similar 1984 work Herodotean Narrative and Discourse: "is so varied a 'pattern' really one at all, and not a mere reflection of the multiformity of reality?"2 Even if not everyone is entirely convinced, many will find Lang's schema helpful for teaching and reading Thucydides at an advanced level; and the lengths she has gone to support her schema exhibit the rigorous analysis for which she was famous.

The editors deserve credit for their publication of this coda to a great scholar's life. While it is true that many of these essays can be obtained (for those affiliated with subscribing institutions) through JSTOR, the new material in the book (74 pages of unpublished material from Lang, 25 pages from other scholars in the personal essays and such, and a complete bibliography) justifies its modest expense. I am unconvinced by some of Lang's arguments, but they are ingenious and well-wrought nevertheless, and I may be on the skeptical end of the spectrum of these sorts of things. Aside from this, overall this collection of Lang's writings should complement any bookshelf devoted to Thucydides or to narratological approaches to ancient literature.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements (Jeffrey Rusten and Richard Hamilton) ix
Foreword (Mary Patterson McPherson) xi
Mabel Lang on Thucydides (Jeffrey Rusten) xiii
Part One: Narrative
1 Participial Motivation in Thucydides (1995) 1
Narrative Inconsistencies Internal and External: 17
2 A Note on Ithome (1967) 19
3 Kylonian Conspiracy (1967) 27
4 Scapegoat Pausanias (1967) 37
5 The Murder of Hipparchus (1955) 49
6 Alcibiades vs. Phrynicus (1996) 63
Narrative Structure and Historical Interpretation: 71
7 Thucydides and the Epidamnian Affair (1968) 73
8 The Revolution of the 400 (1948) 79
9 Revolution of the 400: Chronology and Constitutions (1967) 97
Part Two: Discourse
Thucydidean Thought-Patterns 111
10 Thucydidean Thought (2002) 113
11 Thucydides as Speech-Writer (previously unpublished) 117
Herodotean Inheritances and Adaptations 127
12 Thucydides, First Person (previously unpublished) 129
13 The Thucydidean Tetralogy (1.67-88) (1999) 139
14 The Paired Speeches of the Corinthians (1.120-24) and Pericles (1.140-44) and the Stories They Enclose (previously unpublished) 145
15 Necessary for Whom? Direct vs. Indirect Speeches in Thucydides 151
Biographical Sketch (Eleanor Dickey) 197
Publications by Mabel Lang 209
Bibliography 213


1.   De Ste. Croix, The Origins of the Peloponnesian War (1972), 179-80.
2.   Shrimpton, Gordon S. Review of Herodotean Narrative and Discourse by Mabel Lang (Cambridge and London, 1984). Phoenix vol. 39, No. 1, Spring 1985, 80-83.

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