Monday, August 26, 2013


James E. Holland, William J. Dominik, Petronii Satyricon Concordantia. Alpha-Omega: Reihe A, Lexika, Indizes, Konkordanzen zur klassischen Philologie, 263. Hildesheim; Zürich; New York: Olms-Weidmann, 2013. Pp. vi, 564. ISBN 9783487148939. €198.00.

Reviewed by Niall W. Slater, Emory University (

Version at BMCR home site

Is there a use for printed concordances in the age of do-it-yourself word searches for most ancient texts? The current volume offers a highly persuasive answer in the affirmative. It thoroughly supersedes the 1986 entry in the Olms series, Concordantia Petroniana: Computerkonkordanz zu den Satyrica des Petrons by Korn and Reitzer. Their volume, based on Müller's 1983 edition for the main text and larger fragments of Petronius and Buechler's edition for the shorter fragments, was a basic, computer-generated list, with each word of the text simply alphabetized in its given form down the center of the page, with as much context as could be fitted in a single line of print on either side. In the case of the poetic fragments, the computer program would also print the end of the previous fragment as the beginning of the "context," as there was no easy way to sort these out. Different inflected forms of the same verb were simply alphabetized, so a reader studying the use of ferre needed to search separately under the fer, tul, and lat stems. Though very useful in its time, the Korn and Reitzer volume now offers nothing the reader cannot more easily search on his own.

Holland and Dominik's volume, based on Müller's Teubner edition of 2009 for the text of Petronius, does and will offer far more for some time to come. In the first instance, the entries are thoroughly lemmatized. Thus the 24 uses of forms of ferre are listed together under that lemma. Moreover, the usages are then separately categorized as Classical prose, Vulgar Latin, and poetry, and the heading of each entry gives the absolute word counts and those of the categories. The 24 instances of ferre are out of 32,412 words; 10 of these occur in the prose (out of 21036 words), 5 in the Vulgar Latin (out of 6284 words), and 9 in the poetry (out of 5092 words).

The clear and engaging preface to the volume lays out both some of the challenges of categorizing in these ways and the potential for qualitative as well as statistical analysis of usage and style. The editors acknowledge that the category of Vulgar Latin is not always self-evident. They have chosen to include the speech of the named freedmen and freedwomen and the texts accompanying the apophoreta handed out at the Cena, but Trimalchio's three efforts at composing poetry they have subsumed into the category of verse. Even so, the question of what constitutes quoted speech can still be tricky. Their preface offers as examples fascinating studies of some conjunctions, including enclitic -que, as well as iste, ille, and habere. Enclitic -que is almost totally absent from the category of Vulgar Latin and would be entirely so, if Encolpius's report of Trimalchio ordering his guard dog Scylax to be brought in, praesidium domus familiaeque ("the guardian of home and household"), represents either Encolpius's comment or a reformulation of what Trimalchio said, rather than an exact quotation of Trimalchio's words. It is thus no surprise that et is significantly more frequent in the Vulgar Latin passages, with 244 instances out of 6384 words total (just over 38 per 1000 words), compared to the Classical prose sections (584 instances out of 21,036 words total, for a frequency of just under 28 per 1000 words). Users skilled in statistical analysis will be able to do far more with this body of material, but even those as innumerate as this reviewer have much to gain.

Holland and Dominik's Petronii Satyricon Concordantia will be a very welcome resource for all scholars and serious students of Petronius. Its large and clear format makes it very reader-friendly. While its price, reasonable by today's production costs, will put it beyond the means of many individual scholars, it belongs in every serious research library.

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