Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Lidia Di Giuseppe, Euripide. Alessandro. Prosopa, 5. Lecce: Pensa MultiMedia, 2012. Pp. 219. ISBN 9788867600243. €30.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Martin Cropp, University of Calgary (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed at the end of this review.]

This is a thorough and well-considered study of Euripides' fragmentary Alexandros, knowledge of which was greatly increased by the publication of the papyrus fragments P. Strasb. inv. gr. 2342–4 by W. Crönert in 1922 and the papyrus hypothesis P. Oxy. 3650 by R. A. Coles in 1974. Lidia Di Giuseppe discussed some features of the play's prologue in a 2001 article (ARF 3, 67–73), before the publication of Kannicht's major edition of the fragments (2004) and derivative editions to which I contributed in 2004 and 2008.1 She now provides a full discussion of nearly all the fragments of Euripides' play (except, so far as I could find, the brief F 62 and 63 and the papyrus scraps F 62k), and of its reconstruction, giving due consideration to the dozen fragments of Ennius's closely related Alexander. There are few surprises and no great revelations, but the book will be a useful resource for those wanting to acquaint themselves with the study of the play as it now stands, and with alternative possibilities to which Di Giuseppe gives full and balanced consideration.

A thirty-page introduction focusing mainly on the mythical tradition and the play's outline is followed by chapters discussing its discernible dramatic elements (prologue, parodos and first episode, agon, messenger-scene, plotting-scene, crisis and recognition, exodos) and a concluding survey of mythical and dramatic motifs, principal characters and the mood of the play. The central chapters present the fragments sequentially according to Di Giuseppe's reconstruction, with textual apparatus and Italian translations, adding commentary and interpretation as the discussion proceeds; some technical and philological matters are treated in (often lengthy) footnotes. Some of the fragments of Ennius's play are presented similarly, others more briefly again in footnotes. Texts and apparatus are reproduced from the editions of Kannicht and Jocelyn, usually word for word but with abridgments and a few modifications reflecting Di Giuseppe's thoughts on the Euripidean text. The book thus has many of the features of a standard text-and- commentary edition without actually being one. This makes for a more fluent discussion but sometimes makes it hard to locate Di Giuseppe's treatments of individual fragments, the only guide to these being a not particularly user-friendly index locorum. The texts, apparatus and translations regrettably omit the changes of speaker marked in the papyrus by paragraphi in F 46a col. ii, F 62b col. ii and F 62 col. iii, although these are taken into account in Di Giuseppe's discussions.

Di Giuseppe makes a few textual suggestions of her own: hypoth. 18–19 τοὺς διαβάλλοντας αὐτοὺς κατέβαλε (ἑκ̣άσ̣τ[ο]υς ἔλαβε Π, ἔβαλε Page). Hypoth. 22 ἔτι δὲ πάλην (ἔτι †δαπαξ̣ή̣τ̣ην Π, πύξ Coles, πυγμήν Huys). F 41a [πεδίον Φρυγῶν μὲν] κτλ. F 61b.7 τὸ δυσγενές τό τ' εὐγενές (τό τ' εὐγενες καὶ τὸ δυσγενές Stobaeus: attractive, although the phrasing 'non-nobility and nobility' is perhaps a little less likely than than 'nobility and non-nobility'). F 62a.7–8: Di Giuseppe prints and translates Kannicht's text (with Pohlenz's and Diggle's supplements) but would prefer [σοφὸς δέ γ' ὅσ]τις μίκρ' ἔχων ἐγκλήματα | [τούτοις νο]μίζει καὶ συνέστηκεν φόβω[ι, 'Saggio chi ritiene di avere piccoli raggione di lagnanza contro costoro [scil. i κακοί del v. 6] e combatte contro la paura' (but νομίζω is never construed with a participle in tragedy). For F 62a.12 she offers δοῦλον στυγεῖν; οὐ], perhaps with 10 τοίου παρ'] ἀνδρός.

Di Giuseppe's reconstruction of the play is generally orthodox, and I simply note some salient points. She argues well in favour of a female chorus (pp. 39–42), and allows either Aphrodite or Paris's herdsman foster-father as the prologue- speaker (pp. 45–50: in her 2001 article she preferred the herdsman. Neither seems very plausible to me, and Kevin Lee's suggestion of a minor god such as Hermes surely deserved notice). She tentatively places the dialogue represented by F 46a in a second prologue-scene, preceding the parodos rather than following it as in Kannicht's numbering (pp. 60–4), and considers Hecuba Paris's most likely opponent in the agon debating his admission to the funeral games (pp. 79–81). The messenger-speech reporting the outcome of the games (probably to Hecuba) and the dialogue of Hector, Deiphobus and Hecuba leading to the plotting of Paris's murder are plausibly placed in a single episode (pp. 130–1: I. Karamanou's demonstration in ZPE 178 (2011) that the dispute between Deiphobus and Hector represented by F 62a and 62b was shaped as a formal agon appeared too late for Di Giuseppe to take it into account). As for what followed, Di Giuseppe carefully examines the very fragmentary F 62d col. iii and leans towards my suggestion that these lines contained a brief choral interlude anticipating the crisis and the arrival of the prospective victim Paris (pp. 149–52). The conclusion of the play (after Cassandra's intervention and the revelation of Paris's identity) in Di Giuseppe's account probably featured Paris, Hecuba and Priam completing the reunion, with no second attack on Paris by Cassandra (such as has been inferred from some of the Etruscan artwork) and no deus ex machina.

Some further points of detail: pp. 12–13: Di Giuseppe expresses uncertainty about the ending of Palamedes, but the hypothesis-fragment P. Mich. 3020(a) now shows that it included the Nereids' rescue of Palamedes' brother Oiax from drowning and the arrival of their father Nauplius to threaten revenge for Palamedes and take Oiax home: see W. Luppe, ZPE 167 (2011), 52–55, anticipated in APF 50 (2004), 217–8. p. 22: one may well doubt whether Eur. Ino F 411.2–3 ('Just as one could set fire to the slopes of Ida from a small torch . . .') was an allusion to Hecuba's dream. pp. 29–30: did Euripides portray the funeral games for Paris as a regular institution or a single commemoration? Di Giuseppe leaves the question open while providing good arguments for the former, which is surely what the phrasing of the hypothesis implies. pp. 96–100: in F 57 Di Giuseppe adopts Scodel's τὴν τύχην and interprets the fragment as an accusation directed by Paris at his fellow-slaves: 'I pastori "hanno" sempre τὸ δοῦλον come qualifica di schiave, ma l'hanno anche "acquisito" come attitudine morale' (p. 99); but this reads a great deal into the words τὴν τύχην κεκτημένοι, and the simple οὐ . . . ἀλλά can hardly mean 'not only . . . but also' (the passages which Di Giuseppe compares have either οὐ . . . ἀλλά καί, or οὺ μόνον . . . ἀλλά . . ., or the quite different μὴ ὅτι/ὅπως . . . ἀλλά . . .). pp. 106–14: a useful discussion of the moralizing choral fragments 61b and 61c includes a convincing demonstration that διὰ δ' ἔκρινεν ἁ τεκοῦσα γᾶ refers to earth's separation of human beings from herself, not from other creatures or the inanimate cosmos, and a subtle interpretation of the phrase τὸ φρόνιμον . . . καὶ τὸ συνετόν in F 61b.9. pp. 121–2, 125–6: in F 54.4 Di Giuseppe retains Stobaeus's μοχθοῦντ' ἀμείνω τέκνα καὶ δραστήρια (μοχθεῖν τ' ἀμείνω Conington, Kannicht et al.) and translates 'figli migliori, che faticano e sono operosi'; I doubt if the phrasing allows this interpretation. pp. 144–7: in F 62d.22 Di Giuseppe prints Di Marco's κε̣ῖ̣ν̣ο̣ν̣ μένονθ' ὅς ἐστι ('quello, rimanendo quello che e') rather than Schadewaldt's widely accepted κε̣ῖ̣ν̣ο̣ν̣ μέν, ὄνθ' ὅς ἐστι, but does not explain why the latter 'non sembra linguisticamente soddisfacente' (p. 147: the phrasing with μέν and δὲ — 'that he, being who he is, should be admired by the Trojans and Priam's house <not> be honoured with victory' — seems to me entirely apt).

The book is nicely printed, and I noticed only a few trivial typos in the Greek. The Greek font has gone astray on pp. 9 and 115, and in several places an em-dash linking the beginning and end of a citation in the apparatus is not printed (e.g. 'ἃ χρεών om. Plut.' should be 'ἃ — χρεών om. Plut.', p. 22 n. 30). For 'van Rossum-Steenbeeck' read 'van Rossum-Steenbeek' passim.

Table of Contents

Introduzione (pp. 9–42)
l. La tradizione dell'Alessandro e la storia degli studi
2. La trilogia euripidea del 415 a. C.
3. I1 mito di Alessandro-Paride e la trama della tragedia
4. La scena e il Coro
Ricostruzione della tragedia (pp. 43–195)
l. Il prologo
2. La parodo e primo episodio
3. L'agone
4. Il racconto del Messaggero
5. Il complotto contro Alessandro
6. L'attacco contro Alessandro e il riconoscimento
7. La conclusione della tragedia
8. Per una valutazione dell'Alessandro
Bibliografia (pp. 197–213)
Indice dei passi discussi (pp. 215–219)


1.   R. Kannicht, Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 5.1 (Göttingen, 2004), 174–2004; C. Collard, M. J. Cropp, J. Gibert, Euripides. Selected Fragmentary Plays II (Oxford, 2004), 35–91; C. Collard, M. Cropp, Euripides. Fragments. Aegeus–Meleager (Cambridge, Mass., 2008), 33–75.

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