Thursday, October 29, 2015


Ilsetraut Hadot, Sénèque: direction spirituelle et pratique de la philosophie. Philosophie du présent. Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 2014. Pp. 452. ISBN 9782711625697. €25.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Gretchen Reydams-Schils (

Version at BMCR home site

In 1969 Ilsetraut Hadot published a landmark study, Seneca und die griechish-römische Tradition der Seelenleitung (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1969), that has lost none of its relevance for our understanding of Seneca's philosophical writings. The new study is partly a translation of that work and partly a reworking. Starting from the combination of philosophical teachings and precepts in Seneca's Letters 94 and 95, the study focuses on Seneca's role as 'spiritual director,' that is, as someone who guides others towards the interiorization of Stoic teachings (through the acquisition of the right disposition, habitus), and the right way of life.

The first part of the study locates this form of guidance in its broadest context, starting with Greek culture in the 7th c. BC, through the Hellenistic period and in the Early Stoa especially, and ending with Seneca's position in Roman philosophy. The second part treats the goals of Seneca's method of psychagogy, the obstacles it needs to overcome, and its chances of success. In this section Hadot's analyses of the notions of securitas (as the absence of the passions fear and distress) and tranquillitas animi (as the equivalent of euthumia) are especially illuminating.

The study ends with an assessment of Seneca's originality. Ilsetraut Hadot aligns herself with the strand in Seneca scholarship that sees his views as largely reflecting those of the Early Stoa. His contribution, she avers, lies in the arrangement of his material and his use of rhetorical tools to enhance his effectiveness. As in her scholarship on Neo- Platonism, here too (13) Hadot emphasizes the importance of taking into account the stage of moral and philosophical progress at which Seneca's addressees find themselves, the level of discourse (a consolation versus, for instance, his Naturales Quaestiones), and the context of specific claims.

In the new version Hadot reassesses her earlier work in the light of more recent developments in scholarship. In some cases she adds some of her own new insights, as when she proposes that securus for Seneca is not the equivalent of ataraxia but is related to akindunos/-ôs (224-226). The section on the role of the will in Seneca's psychology has been expanded considerably, with a literature overview (297-312). The author argues against the claim that Seneca's notion of the will has a new function unattested in the preceding Stoic tradition. As an appendix, Hadot has added a French translation of a recently published paper on how one acquires goodness according to the Stoics and Seneca.1 In line with the argument of M. Jackson-McCabe,2 she argues for the existence of innate preconceptions of good and bad, which, she proposes, have to be seen as the equivalent of the 'seeds' of virtue mentioned in Stoic accounts.

The author also (re)assesses trends in the scholarship that she does not find helpful for a correct understanding of Seneca, such as (1) the socio-cultural approach of P. Veyne who, following in the footsteps of Foucault, focuses too much, she claims, on self-fashioning, at the detriment of other aspects of Stoicism; (2) an approach that is driven too much by a subjectivist and reductionist view of contemporary psychology (62-66; which now also draws on C. Gill's work); (3) the older view that Seneca presents a watered-down version of Stoicism mediated by Middle-Stoicism (132- 140, including references to more recent scholarship, 137-137), with as corollaries that his works present mere popular moralizing, without any deep foundation in (Stoic) philosophy, or that it is is 'eclectic' (in the negative sense of that term, 181-194). (To the more recent literature from which the author draws, one could also add M. Graver's work,3 J. Schafer's,4 or more broadly construed monographs such as G. Roskam's on moral progress.5)

But with these assessments of secondary literature that has been published in the period intervening between the initial study and this version, we run into a more problematic aspect of the new work, namely its highly polemical and apologetic tone: one of the purposes of this work is to reclaim the value of the earlier study. The author expresses irritation over the fact that her earlier publication has gone unnoticed, has not been sufficiently acknowledged in more recent scholarship (65), or has been misrepresented (299ff.). Brad Inwood, mentioned at the outset, appears to be the primary bête noire, and much of the polemic is directed at his work on Seneca.6

This being said, perhaps a grande dame has earned the right to bang her fist on the table, and there is a more general and, in this reviewer's opinion at least, legitimate concern underlying the polemic. The author pleads for a rehabilitation not only of her own work but also of that of other scholars outside of the Anglo-American tradition whose publications have suffered relative neglect, such as A.-J. Voelke's seminal study on the notion of the will in Stoicism.7 There is indeed a marked trend in Anglo-American scholarship (to which there are also some happy exceptions) to take over certain areas of research in ancient philosophy and then to push out, as much as possible, the older literature and alternative perspectives. This approach can only lead to an impoverished understanding, and it does considerable damage to the exchange of ideas among scholars in what is, after all, a small field in the humanities (which themselves are struggling). Ilsetraut Hadot's original study was in German, and this one is in French. That should be no obstacle whatsoever to these ideas being taken seriously as an important part of the conversation about Seneca's purpose in his philosophical writings.


1.   The English version, 'Getting to goodness: Reflections on Chapter 10 of Brad Inwood, Reading Seneca' was published in Seneca Philosophus, ed. by J. Wildberger and M. Colish (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014).
2.   Jackson-McCabe, M. "The Stoic theory of implanted preconceptions." Phronesis 49.4, (2004): 323-347.
3.   In addition to her many publications on Seneca, this monograph is also highly relevant: M. Graver, Stoicism and Emotion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
4.   J. Schafer, Ars Didactica: Seneca's 94th and 95th Letters (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009).
5.   G. Roskam, On the Path to Virtue: The Stoic Doctrine of Moral progress and its Reception in (Middle- )Platonism (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2005).
6.   B. Inwood, Reading Seneca: Stoic Philosophy at Rome (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005).
7.   A.-J. Voelke, L'Idée de volonté dans le Stoïcisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1973).

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Marek Wecowski, The Rise of the Greek Aristocratic Banquet. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xxv, 400. ISBN 9780199684014. $175.00.

Reviewed by Adam Rabinowitz, The University of Texas at Austin (

Version at BMCR home site


It is hard to write a book that says something new about the symposium: the scholarly landscape continues to be dominated by the work done by Oswyn Murray over the three decades since his publication of a series of foundational articles in the early 1980s. Hard, but not impossible, as recent works have demonstrated1—yet these suggest that it is even harder to say something new about the symposium while escaping the gravitational pull of late Archaic and Classical Athens. Marek Wecowski is to be commended, therefore, for accomplishing both of these difficult feats. The Rise of the Greek Aristocratic Banquet considers the role of commensality in the formation of the early Greek political community, and concludes that communal drinking practices provided a critical context for the integration and assimilation of new members into the ranks of the elite. Wecowski's work differs from existing treatments of the symposium in significant ways: it finds the central elements of the institution—in particular, an emphasis on equality and turn-taking—already hidden behind the 'Homeric banquet'; it examines not only literary and iconographic but also archaeological evidence for Early Iron Age drinking; and, building on recent theoretical discussions (especially those of Michael Dietler and Alain Duplouy), it argues that social status was fluid and contested in early Greece, and that communal drinking was an arena for the resolution of the resulting tensions.

Before discussing the structure of the book, two notes about its coverage are necessary. First, the title is somewhat misleading. Wecowski is in fact primarily concerned with the drinking occasion we (and he) generally call the symposion; the "aristocratic banquet", with its evocation of the Homeric feast, turns out to be the symposium in disguise. Second, while the introduction and the first two chapters are primarily concerned with literary and iconographic evidence from the Archaic and early Classical periods (part I), the bulk of Wecowski's argument focuses on the Early Iron Age (part II), where he places the emergence of the "aristocratic banquet" that gives the book its title. Readers looking for a treatment of the institution across a linear chronological arc, or for the contextualization of the symposium in the seventh or sixth century BCE, should bear this in mind.

The reverse chronological arrangement is a deliberate strategy, and it underlines one of Wecowski's central claims: that the most important aspects of the symposium can be read backwards from the rich textual evidence of late Archaic and Classical Greece onto the more fragmentary record for the more distant past (7). He therefore undertakes to define the most significant characteristics of the symposium in part I, and then, in part II, searches for signs of those characteristics in both Homeric poetry and archaeological evidence from the Early Iron Age (in practice, mainly the eighth century BCE). Although this approach takes the reader back and forth in time, it is easy to follow the flow of the argument, which builds logically across a series of chapters that present variations on a central theme.

That theme is male equality: equality among the group of drinkers and equality within the body of a political community in which the definition of "aristocrat" had been significantly expanded. The symposium allowed the tension between this ideology of equality and the spirit of competition to be channeled into symbolic acts, and thus served to integrate upwardly-mobile landowning farmers with a traditional warrior elite in a "true aristocracy" (333).

The centrality of equality to the symposium is established in part I. After an introduction in which Wecowski summarizes recent scholarship and offers a preliminary definition of the symposium as "a culture-oriented drinking occasion for Greek élites" (11), he turns to the identification of those élites in chapter 1. Here he acknowledges Duplouy's critique of the idea of an early Greek hereditary "aristocracy",2 but argues that the term is still an appropriate description for the group of "more equal" people who possessed greater political and economic power in a given community (p. 23). Importantly, however, Wecowski does not believe that this was a stable status. Instead, it had to be performed and backed by sufficient resources, leaving the door open to claims to "aristocratic" status by rising "commoners".

Wecowski turns at this point to a detailed description of the behavior and practices associated with the symposium. This description, drawn for the most part from Classical literary and iconographic sources, emphasizes the performative nature of the symposium and the cultural knowledge that would have been required for successful self-presentation. Fellow drinkers with the right training would have enjoyed equal status within this context, regardless of background. This ensured the evolutionary success of an aristocratic class by allowing upwardly-mobile new members in while gradually forcing out those who lost the economic or social resources necessary to participate (77).

Once chapter 1 has focused the definition of the symposium on the nominal equality of its participants, chapter 2 proposes a set of indices that could mark a Greek commensal occasion as a symposium. The main thrust of this chapter is the rejection of the kline and the reclining posture as formal criteria, and their replacement with the idea of circulation—of cups, of speech, of turns in drinking games. This circulation, always epidexia, "to the right", is for Wecowski a definitive marker of the egalitarian ethos that made a gathering a symposium (117-121).

The identification of a sympotic criterion based on practice, rather than posture, provides the organizing principle for part II. In chapter 3, Wecowski follows Murray in the identification of the famous "cup of Nestor" found at Pithekoussai as precocious evidence for the symposium, but goes further in his reading of the hexameter inscription as a sign of the circulation of the cup among a group of drinkers (135). On the basis of this reading, he argues that the cup must be the product of a developed sympotic culture. The next portion of the chapter is devoted to a refutation of the idea that the symposium was borrowed from the Levant, which makes two main points: the reclining position is not a defining feature of the Greek symposium until late in its development, and therefore the eighth-century testimony for the reclining banquet in the Levant has no bearing on its origins (147); and egalitarianism and the emphasis on circulation are fundamentally Greek elements (158). This is followed by a rather abrupt transition to a discussion of sympotic architecture in early Greece, which continues the general critique of couches as a sympotic criterion but also develops an argument for the location of early Greek drinking in public space (in sanctuaries: 175; in "élite dining halls": 178-185).3

Having argued forcefully that the symposium is both fundamentally Greek and early in its origins, Wecowski turns in chapter 4 turns to sympotic elements glimpsed behind the "heroic feasts" of Homeric epic. I found this chapter, with its thoughtful and exacting analysis of the dynamics of the Homeric banquet and the way in which the reality of the symposium periodically flashes through the idealized heroic dais (234), the most successful of the book. The chapter culminates in a compelling claim that both the Iliad and the Odyssey struggle with the tension between the idea of a "proper" hierarchical feast and a newer, egalitarian but potentially disorderly drinking ritual (246).

Newer—but how much newer? Chapter 5 sets out to identify the earliest recognizable symposia, a question thrown into relief by the rejection of the kline as a marker and the identification of sympotic elements in the epic poems. Here Wecowski returns to archaeological evidence, now drawn primarily from funerary contexts. He recognizes the difficulty of identifying a material index for the symposium, and looks instead for "sympotic patterns" on a contextual level (251). But he seeks these patterns among objects he has already associated with the symposium, such as the "cup of Nestor" or combinations of cups and oinochoai described as "sympotic" (256). It is thus a short leap to the interpretation of this material as evidence for the earliest manifestations of the practice. The boom in Attic Middle Geometric II drinking pottery allows Wecowski to place around 800 BCE his terminus ante quem for the birth of the symposium as he defines it (292-293).

I found this chapter less convincing than the others. The most promising section, on the puzzling phenomenon of "multi-storeyed vases" and the appearance of the strap-handled kantharos in the Middle Geometric ceramic repertoire, argues that these vases were meant both "to amuse the drinkers" and to test their "skill and experience" in handling awkward vessels gracefully. These are by far the best evidence for the ludic and circulatory elements that Wecowski proposes as indicia of sympotic behavior.4 The other vessels cited in this chapter seem to meet his definition only by the frequency of their appearance, and it is not clear why they should be understood to refer to the symposium rather than wine-drinking in general. Yet the dating proposed in chapter 5 becomes the linchpin for chapter 6, an extensive conclusion that provides a summary account of the historical circumstances that catalyzed the development of the symposium and an analysis of its role in the formation of the polis.

This book has many strengths. Wecowski brings to bear an impressive range of evidence, and his treatment of different sources is generally sensitive and nuanced. He lays out a particularly clear argument for the centrality of performance to the definition of the symposium, and I suspect his identification of circulation as an index of sympotic behavior will be widely adopted. His emphasis on social mobility, too, is a valuable addition to the literature on the drinking party. Most importantly, he makes a systematic attempt to combine textual and (non-iconographic) archaeological evidence, which allows him to break free of the tyranny of Classical Athens over sympotic studies.

As is natural for such an ambitious endeavor, however, there are areas in which the book falls short of its goals. On the whole, the treatment of the archaeological evidence is less sophisticated than that of the literary sources. I would have liked to see a more formal definition of the term "aristocracy", given its central role in the book. Wecowski clearly does not see the early Greek "aristocracy" as a hereditary class, but if it is simply "the group of people who had power in a community at a given moment", I am not sure why this is a better term than "élite", especially when it carries historical baggage. Sometimes the book tries to cover too much ground: this is most apparent in the appendices to the introduction and chapters 1 and 3, which contain issues the author wanted to address but couldn't fit into the flow of the argument, and in truncated attempts to deal with the broader Mediterranean context in chapters 3 and 5.

But these are only problems because of the book's intellectual scope, which otherwise makes it an important contribution to a growing body of revisionist scholarship on the symposium. The production value is high; there are very few typographic errors, and those are primarily concentrated in the bibliography.5 The illustrations are of high quality, although not all of them seem fundamental to the argument (by contrast, a drawing of the inscription on the cup of Nestor is not included, despite its importance for one of the book's central claims). The book as a whole is directed more at historians than at archaeologists, and it is geared to a specialized scholarly audience. Its broad coverage and the relative independence of its chapters, however, make it easy to excerpt for teaching purposes: chapter 3, for example, sparked discussion in a graduate seminar I recently taught on the archaeology of Greek colonization. The Rise of the Greek Aristocratic Banquet, with its wide-ranging new reading of the origins of the symposium and its thought-provoking interpretation of the dynamics of the early Greek community, will surely inspire many more such discussions.


1.   Especially K.M. Lynch. 2011. The Symposium in Context: Pottery from a Late Archaic House near the Athenian Agora. Princeton, N.J: American School of Classical Studies at Athens; and F. Hobden. 2013. The Symposion in Ancient Greek Society and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2.   Duplouy, A. 2006. Le prestige des élites: recherches sur les modes de reconnaissance sociale en Grèce entre les Xe et Ve siècles avant J.-C. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.
3.   I have made similar claims in my 2004 dissertation and in a 2009 book chapter (A. Rabinowitz. 2009. "Drinking from the same cup: Sparta and late Archaic commensality." In Sparta: Comparative Approaches, edited by Stephen Hodkinson, 113-192. Swansea: Duckworth and Classical Press of Wales), as has Lisa Nevett (L.C. Nevett. 2010. Domestic Space in Classical Antiquity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 62). Wecowski cites these works elsewhere but not here.
4.   See John Papadopoulos' discussion of the LG "Akrotione-Molione" oinochoe, which argues that this vase was a sympotic "joke" in the same vein (J. Papadopoulos. 1999. "Tricks and twins: Nestor, Aktorione-Molione, the Agora Oinochoe, and the potter who made them." In Meletemata, edited by P. Betancourt, V. Karageorghis, R. Laffineur, and W-D. Niemeier, 633-640. Liège: Université de Liège).
5.   Most of these regard entries for books in languages other than English, but I noticed that my own chapter in Sparta: Comparative Approaches and the volume itself, published in 2009, were both cited as appearing in 2000.

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Raphaële Andrault, Stefanie Buchenau, Claire Crignon, Anne-Lise Rey, Médecine et philosophie de la nature humaine de l'âge classique aux Lumières: anthologie. Textes de philosophie, 8. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014. Pp. 493. ISBN 9782812430268. €49.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Frédéric Le Blay, Université de Nantes (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Il est certes difficile de rédiger le compte-rendu d'une anthologie car il ne saurait être question d'écrire la critique des textes rassemblés ni d'interroger la pertinence de leur contenu. On se limitera donc à mettre en avant les mérites de cette collection de texte et de la présentation retenue.

Comme l'indique la préface de ce recueil, il s'agit, à travers les exemples et extraits choisis, de « cerner les évolutions conceptuelles qui ont marqué l'étude de l'homme, comme objet d'analyse rationnelle ». Les éditeurs marquent bien la difficulté de l'enquête puisqu'aucune frontière précise n'existe entre philosophie naturelle et médecine qui permettrait la délimitation stricte d'un corpus. C'est pourquoi les textes rassemblés ici relèvent autant de la littérature médicale stricto sensu que de la tradition philosophique ou de grands traités savants. Cette anthologie couvre une période allant de la fin du 16e siècle (Juan Huarte de San Juan, L'Examen des esprits pour les sciences, 1575, 1595 pour la première traduction française) au début du 19e siècle avec Xavier Bichat et Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis. Tous les extraits sont donnés en langue française : lorsqu'il était nécessaire de proposer une traduction, les éditeurs se sont efforcés de proposer une traduction qui soit la plus proche possible dans le temps de la version originale, c'est-à-dire une édition française ayant suivi de près la première parution, cela afin d'offrir une version du texte tel qu'il a pu être lu par ses contemporains. Dans certains cas, les éditeurs ont cependant dû proposer leur propre traduction. Chaque regroupement thématique est introduit par une synthèse problématisant et contextualisant les différents extraits. En outre, chaque extrait donne lieu à une présentation de l'auteur et de l'œuvre. La bibliographie secondaire est souvent sollicitée et reprise en fin de volume. Il faut noter sa qualité et son actualité même si, sur les thématiques abordées, l'exhaustivité n'est pas envisageable. L'intérêt d'un tel volume est de proposer une solide introduction et non une compilation critique et érudite qui occuperait en l'occurrence plusieurs gros volumes.

Un défaut doit toutefois être noté. S'il n'était pas dans l'intention des éditeurs de se livrer à la critique des textes rassemblés, un apparat critique, même sommaire, est toujours utile. Or certains extraits sont assortis de notes qui viennent préciser les références, citations ou sources auxquelles l'auteur se réfère, d'autres sont totalement démunis de ces compléments à la lecture. Outre le manque de cohérence éditoriale que cette disparité semble trahir, cette absence récurrente nuit à l'une des perspectives que la préface met en avant, la manière dont l'héritage des doctrines issues de l'Antiquité est exploité « tant sur le mode de l'annexion et de la transposition que de la critique et du rejet ». De ce fait, il devenait indispensable d'expliciter systématiquement la présence des sources antiques. Ainsi, le passage extrait de Francis Bacon (Le Progrès et Avancement aux Sciences Divines et humaines, 1624, 301-312) comporte de nombreuses références à la philosophie et aux sources antiques qui ne sont pas précisées. Il appartiendra donc au lecteur, qui, compte tenu de l'esprit de cette anthologie, ne sera pas toujours un spécialiste, de retrouver les sources de Bacon. Par exemple, les notions de sympathies et de concordances entre l'esprit et le corps que l'auteur invoque dans cet extrait font écho à la doctrine stoïcienne, dont les fondements connaissent un regain d'intérêt en ce début de 17e siècle, ce qu'une brève note aurait pu préciser. De la même manière, lorsque Thomas Willis, dans son De anima brutorum, 7 (1672) expose la distinction entre âme rationnelle et âme corporelle ou sensitive, il renvoie à des notions directement empruntées à des sources antiques. L'introduction du terme hégémonikon dans sa démonstration méritait assurément une note. Les synthèses présentant chaque groupement de texte sont l'occasion de revenir sur les fondements antiques de certains des débats ou des notions en jeu mais elles ne justifient pas à notre sens l'absence d'un référencement dans les textes eux-mêmes. L'extrait de l'Anthropometamorphosis de John Bulwer (1653) est assorti de notes mais un renvoi allusif à Cardan reste sans explicitation ainsi qu'un renvoi à Mercurialis. De la même manière, l'extrait de la Dissertation sur l'incertitude des signes de la mort et l'abus des enterrements et embaumements précipités de Jacques-Benigne Winslow (1742), ne comporte aucune note explicative alors que les références textuelles et historiques sont multipliées. Il n'est pas utile de multiplier les exemples car il ne s'agit nullement ici de dénoncer un quelconque manque de rigueur de la part des éditeurs. On sait à quel point l'harmonisation d'un travail collectif reste une tâche délicate, surtout s'il s'agit d'embrasser un corpus varié dont la maîtrise fait appel à des connaissances relevant elle-même de champs du savoir et de l'érudition très variés. Disons que cette anthologie pourrait bénéficier d'un renforcement de l'apparat critique qu'une future réédition permettra peut-être. S'agissant d'un ouvrage qui présente toutes les qualités d'un compendium ou d'un manuel appelé à devenir un classique des curricula universitaires, il n'est pas interdit d'imaginer le besoin d'une nouvelle édition révisée.

On notera la présence en fin de volume de dix illustrations reprenant pages titre, frontispices ou planches de certains des ouvrages de cette anthologie.

Table des Matières

Préface, p. 7
Introduction, p. 15
Les auteurs, p. 21

L'anthropologie entre philosophie et médecine, p. 23
André Du Laurens, Histoire anatomique, 1621
Francis Bacon, Le Progrès et Avancement aux Sciences Divines et humaines, 1624
John Donne, Méditations en temps de crise et différentes étapes de ma maladie, 1624
Jean Riolan, Anthropographie et ostéologie, 1626
Thomas Bartholin, Institutions Anatomiques, 1647
John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis : l'homme défiguré ; ou le changeon artificiel, 1653
Ernst Platner, Anthropologie pour médecins et philosophes, 1772
Immanuel Kant, Anthropologie d'un point de vue pragmatique, 1798
Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis, Rapports du physique et du moral de l'homme, 1802

La différence anthropologique, p. 91
Nicolas Tulp, Observations médicales, 1641
Cyrano de Bergerac, États et Empires de la Lune et du Soleil, 1657/1662
Thomas Willis, De l'âme des bêtes, 1672
John Locke, Essai philosophique concernant l'entendement humain [1690], 1755
John Gregory, Parallèle de la condition et des facultés de l'homme, 1766
Johann Gottfried Herder, Traité sur l'origine de la langue, 1772

Les modèles du corps : mécanisme, chimisme, humorisme, p. 137
René Descartes, Description du corps humain, 1648
Nicolas Sténon, Discours sur l'anatomie du cerveau, 1669
Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, Du mouvement des animaux, 1681
Jean Beguin, Les éléments de chymie, 1615
Joan-Baptista Van Helmont, Les Œuvres traitant des principes de médecine et physique [1648], 1671
Thomas Willis, Deux diatribes médico-philosophiques, 1659
Walter Charleton, Enquêtes sur la nature humaine en six lectures anatomiques, 1680

La fabrique de L'homme : circulation, génération, irritation, p. 197
Circulation sanguine, p. 199
Jean Riolan, Manuel anatomique et pathologique, 1648
William Harvey, Deux études anatomiques, 1649
Bernard le Bouyer de Fontenelle, Nouveaux Dialogues des Morts, 1683
Génération, p. 220
William Harvey, La génération des animaux, 1651
Marcello Malpighi, De la manière dont se forme le poulet dans l'œuf, 1686
Nicolas Hartsoeker, Essai de dioptrique, 1694
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Institutions de physiologie, 1797
Irritation, p. 253
Francis Glisson, Traité de la nature de la substance, 1672 et Traité du ventre et des intestins, 1677
Albrecht von Haller, Mémoires sur la nature sensible et irritable des parties du corps animal, 1756
Robert Whytt, Essais sur les mouvements vitaux et autres mouvements involontaires des animaux [1751], 1763

L'union de l'âme et du corps, p. 279
Henricus Regius, Philosophie naturelle [1661], 1687
François Bernier, Abrégé de la philosophie de Gassendi, 1678
Claude Perrault, Du Bruit, 1680
Giorgio Baglivi, De la pratique médicale, 1704
Julien Offray de La Mettrie, L'Homme-Machine, 1748
Immanuel Kant, Postface à Soemmerring, Sur l'organe de l'âme, 1796

Vies et morts, p. 327
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Considérations sur les Principes de Vie et sur les natures plastiques par l'auteur de l'harmonie préétablie, 1705, et Principes de la Philosophie ou Monadologie, 1716
Georg Ernst Stahl, La Vraie théorie médicale [1708], 1737
Jacques-Benigne Winslow, Dissertation sur l'incertitude des signes de la mort et l'abus des enterrements, et embaumements précipités, 1742
Jean-Jacques Ménuret de Chambaud, Article « Mort » (Médecine), Encyclopédie, 1765
Denis Diderot, Éléments de physiologie, 1765-1784
Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, De l'incertitude de la mort, 1791
Marie François Xavier Bichat, Recherches physiologiques sur la vie et la mort, 1801
Paul-Joseph Barthez, Nouveaux Éléments de la Science de l'homme, 1806

Diversité de l'homme, p. 385
Juan Huarte de San Juan, L'Examen des esprits pour les sciences [1575], 1595
Nicolas Malebranche, De la recherche de la vérité, 1674-1675
Herman Boerhaave, Traité des maladies des enfants, 1759
Pierre Jean Fabre, Abrégé des secrets chimiques, 1636
Marin Cureau de la Chambre, L'art de connaître les hommes, 1660
Jacques-Louis Moreau de la Sarthe, Histoire naturelle de la femme, 1803
Carl von Linné, Système de la Nature [1735], 1758
Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, Histoire naturelle, 1749

Illustrations, p. 443
Notices biographiques, p. 455
Bibliographie, p. 463
Index nominum, p. 489
Table des illustrations, p. 495

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015


M. Davies, P. J. Finglass, Stesichorus: The Poems. Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, 54. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Pp. xiv, 691. ISBN 9781107078345. $180.00.

Reviewed by Giambattista D'Alessio, Università di Napoli 'Federico II' (

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Stesichorus is arguably the most elusive among the lyric poets of the Greek literary canon. His name (roughly 'the one who sets up the chorus') sounds like an indicator of professional capacity. Ancient sources are discordant about his fatherland, the most frequent candidates being Himera in Sicily and Mataurum in Southern Italy. The focus of his activity was claimed by Himera, Locri, Catane. His chronology was also uncertain: for some he was the son of Hesiod (8th or 7th century); for others a contemporary of the tyrant Phalaris (active in the 6th century); the poet Simonides (late 6th/early 5th century) refers to him by name; one entry in an important chronological inscription mentions his arrival in Greece around 485; a further one indicates a victory of 'Stesichorus of Himera the Second' around 368, a datum compatible with another source (PMG 841) mentioning a Dithyramb of Stesichorus on the Cyclops in a context suggesting a 4th century date. As far as we can see, Stesichorus' poems offered no explicit link to their historical or biographical context. Most of them were absorbing and innovative mythological narratives, in lyric metres and epic style and scale, that enjoyed popularity and exerted influence on audiences and poets for centuries. Very little of this, though, survived the end of antiquity, and it was only with 20th century papyrological discoveries that, to some extent, these works came back to life. Most finds were published between the 1960s and 1990. While many fragments have attracted considerable studies, a new comprehensive critical edition, with full introduction and commentary, was obviously needed. The rich work of Davies and Finglass now fills the gap. Davies produced an Oxford DPhil thesis in 1979, covering the texts available then. This has now been enlarged and updated in collaboration with Finglass, who has covered also the texts published since then, and is entirely responsible for the critical edition (with a new and much improved numeration of the fragments) and the introduction (that includes a good section on style).

Like most scholars, Davies/Finglass are confident that the poems that went under the name of Stesichorus (apart from later insertions due to homonymy or other reasons) were the work of a single individual, whose biographical details became confused in later tradition. Their Stesichorus was probably born at Himera, and was active during the first half of the 6th century. A comparison in these and other matters with the conclusions reached in the recent, even more voluminous collection of the ancient testimonies by M. Ercoles, who is convinced that our poet was born in Mataurum and moved later to Himera, is instructive.1 Taking into account the cultural dynamics of the transmission of Greek lyric poetry in the archaic period, it seems to me that the impersonal nature of Stesichorus' poems provides a good explanation for the vagaries of such traditions. The corpora of the other Greek melic poets have a potential focus in their literary personae, as articulated through the poems themselves, and in their being textually linked to historical contexts. Lacking this focus, Stesichorus' works (collected in 26 books, far more than any other lyric poet) look rather as a collection of narrative poems, mostly impersonal, and attributed to a 'professional' name apparently used by mainly western poets from the archaic period onward. Finglass curtly rejects this possibility as 'the surviving fragments show similarities of style, content and form beyond what might have been expected for poets working in a similar genre' (61). And yet, the preserved fragments are no more similar to each other than any piece of archaic epic would be to another one. Within the same 'generic' narrative style, making use of an often thoroughly traditional diction in simple metres belonging to broad families (mostly dactylic, anapaestic, and 'dactylo-epitrites'), there are obvious variations: the 'Thebais' can be easily distinguished from the Homeric quasi-paraphrases of the Nostoi, and the polemical correction of previous versions in the Palinode. The assumption that the poems of Stesichorus are all or mostly the work of a single individual should be treated with more caution than it usually is. This is not without consequences for another issue, that of the attribution of papyrus fragments, a point to which I shall return.

The new edition is very thoroughly researched, as it is to be expected from such distinguished editors, and offers a mostly sensible assessment of the work of previous scholars, with some useful progress on points of detail. The sections on mythological traditions are particularly rich, devoting plentiful space to literary and visual testimonies. As is usual with fragmentary texts, interpretative and textual problems abound and the editors are well-informed on the discussions of the various, often complex alternatives. Occasionally, however, the way in which this information is conveyed is less than satisfactory. A remarkable example is what might have been Stesichorus' most famous and most debated poem, his Palinode on the story of Helen, where the evidence is presented in such a way that alternative approaches are effectively obscured to the non-initiated reader. The editors are in good company in their assumption that there were two separate Palinodes (though their idea that the second one might have had nothing to do with Helen is more idiosyncratic).2 The alternative view, however, shared by a good proportion of scholars, that there was a single poem articulated in two 'palinodes', with two distinct proems, hardly receives a fair hearing.3 Some of the arguments advanced by its proponents are discussed piecemeal, but never do we find a coherent summary of their positions. A piece of evidence used by some of these scholars, for example, is provided by F 296, where the orator Aristides says that he 'will move to another proem in the manner of Stesichorus'. The potential relevance of this fragment, though, is not mentioned in the context of the reconstruction of the Palinode(s), nor do we find any cross-reference to the issue in the commentary on the fragment itself. In this, and in other cases, the editors may well feel justified in preferring their own reconstructions to alternative ones, but the state of the evidence would have required them to provide more transparent treatment of different views especially in a work so rich in other informative details.

Papyri have been inspected in the originals and new readings are occasionally reported. Based on a random sample, not all of them look convincing to me. For example, at F 103.27 and 32 (Sack of Troy) Finglass's readings are not supported by what I can see in available reproductions. At l.32 Finglass prints undotted nu instead of the undotted kappa printed by all editors since Lobel, but there is a well visible trace of a rising oblique joining the following lambda, compatible with kappa, not with nu. At l.27 Finglass reads Ν]ε̣οπτόλ̣[εμ- but the first trace, described by Lobel as 'a dot level with the top of the letters, some way from ο', clearly visible in the photo printed in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri volume (but not on the one available on line at the P.Oxy. website), suggests much more readily the top of a lambda (Schade: φι]λ̣οπτόλ̣[εμ-) than that of an epsilon, and, anyway, the surface below and to the right, apparently preserved, has no trace of the expected cross-bar of epsilon. Neoptolemus' mention is problematic in the context, a section of speeches of the Trojans regarding the Horse: the possibility that the focus shifted 'to consider the Greeks inside the horse' sounds unlikely in the short compass of the text.

A particular problem raised by the papyri is that of their attribution to different poems, or indeed to different authors. This is an issue that has very important implications for our understanding of literary history. An interesting example is provided by the treatment of P.Oxy. 2359, 3876 and 2735. P.Oxy. 2359 had been tentatively attributed by Lobel to Stesichorus' Boarhunters, a poem on the story of Meleager and the Calydonian Boar (with doubts on fr.1.ii). Further discussions have strengthened the hypothesis and Davies/Finglass print its fragments (F 183, 185–6) accordingly. P.Oxy. 3876, published in 1990, on the other hand, preserves some fragments that almost certainly belong to a narrative on the same subject and in similar style (at least F 189 and 191): attribution to the same poem, though, is ruled out by metre. 3876, which may have represented more than one roll, also includes, along with other narrative fragments, at least one piece (F 214) praising an apparently non-mythical addressee in a style reminiscent of later erotic and epinician lyric, while F 219 might mention Delphi and a victory.4 Do both poems on the Boar belong to the same poet? And if this is the case, as Davies/Finglass think, how do we know which papyrus represents a copy of Stesichorus' Boarhunters? Both of them narrated key-moments of the story in a detailed style and with 'epic' pace. Did Stesichorus also compose encomiastic poems? Finglass thinks that such poems might be more appropriate to Ibycus, whose tradition was often confused with that of Stesichorus,5 and in their commentary on F 299 (a group of testimonies construable as implying that Stesichorus composed praise poems for Himera) Davies/Finglass write that 'we have no evidence for encomiastic poetry by [Stesichorus] of any kind'. Yet this is potentially contradicted by F 214, 219 and perhaps also 222, and there is more than a little danger of unacknowledged circularity in the argument. In this context it would have been important to be reminded also of the debate regarding the attribution of the encomiastic poems of P.Oxy. 2735 to Ibycus (barely mentioned by Davies/Finglass in a different context, 606) rather than to Stesichorus (M. L. West). On the other hand, there is no parallel among the fragments currently attributed to Ibycus for the detailed style and 'epic' pace (including a messenger speech) of the narrative sections of 3876: this alternative attribution would have significant consequences in the assessment of his place in the poetic tradition. The third alternative, i.e. that the papyrus represents rolls of different authors, would simply impose current (and weakly grounded) assumptions on the new evidence. The issue of the attribution of this group of papyri (whose fragments should perhaps more correctly have been labelled as 'of uncertain author') would have required a comprehensive multi-faceted treatment, taking into account also the possibility that the Stesichorean corpus at Alexandria might have been considerably more varied than the picture emerging from this edition.

These misgivings aside, this is a very substantial and serious work, making for the first time available all the fragments with a critical edition and full scale commentary. Anyone interested in Greek literature and culture should be grateful to the editors for their endeavour.


1.   Stesicoro: Le testimonianze antiche, Bologna 2013.
2.   Other scholars have pointed out potential Hesiodic passages on Helen that might have led to Stesichorus' second Palinode: these may well be dubious or debatable, but the reader should have been informed about this (316f.).
3.   Davies/Finglass briefly refer to 'the view that the Helen and the Palinode were two parts of a single poem' at 309 n. 57. Contrast Ercoles (309, with ample bibliography), who thinks there was a single poem with two different palinodes (a slightly different view, not even mentioned by Davies/Finglass).
4.   The text of F 214.15f. (mentioning 'many crowns') still awaits satisfactory explanation, Finglass' idea that the passive πλέχθεν may 'stand for the middle' (546) would require some sort of corroboration to be plausible (contrast M. Haslam, Oxyrhynchus Papyri, 57, 1990: 38: 'Surely ἐπλέχθεν is unthinkable as middle').
5.   The standard work on this is E. Cingano, AION 12, 1990, 189–224, published too late to include a full discussion of 3876. The importance of the problem was concisely highlighted by G. Schade, Stesichoros. Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2359, 3876, 2619, 2803, Leiden/Boston/Köln 2003: 45–8, 79 and G. Ucciardello , 'Sulla tradizione del testo di Ibico', in S. Grandolini (ed.), Lirica e teatro in Grecia, Perugia 2005: 22–3 (slightly misunderstood or misreported by Finglass 534 n. 1: Ucciardello does not attribute only the 'encomiastic' fragments to Ibycus but considers the possibility that the whole papyrus may be Ibycean).

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Richard Alston, Rome's Revolution: Death of the Republic and Birth of the Empire. Ancient warfare and civilization. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. xvii, 385. ISBN 9780199739769. $29.95.

Reviewed by Arthur Keaveney, University of Kent (

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This book is a narrative of that period of Roman history between the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and the death of Augustus and accession of Tiberius in 14 AD. It is an oft-told tale and the author does not specify what audience he has in mind. However, as he inserts elementary explanatory matter into his text (see for example p. 45 on the praetorship), I take it he has the undergraduate and possibly also the general reader in mind.

A number of issues merit separate comment. It is refreshing to discover that, contrary to what many believe, Caesar had no real notion what to do with the republic. On Augustus, too, Alston is good as he demonstrates that the emperor, when necessary, could be as ruthless as the triumvir. We all know that Augustus proceeded in a pragmatic fashion as he inserted himself into the republican system, but Alston demonstrates how precarious, at times, his position could be. We do need to remember, though, that he succeeded; here a comparison with Caligula might be useful. Augustus was circumspect, Caligula extravagant so that one died in his bed, the other was assassinated. Good, too, is Alston's treatment of the love-affairs of Augustus' daughter, Julia (pp. 321-325). Too often in this and similar cases, we meet with a magisterial dismissal, such as 'mere gossip' from those who have not weighed the evidence or taken account of curial life. But Alston is judicious and, rightly in my view, concludes that there is a basis of fact here. Less successful, perhaps, is his attempt to claim that his predecessors downplayed the violence of these years, although I, at least, would not quarrel with the notion that in the republic the nobility controlled the business of state, while under the empire they did so by one man's leave. Alston also likes to speak of the upper classes of Rome as forming a network. To me, this wears a somewhat anachronistic air, making the rulers of Rome sound like twenty-first century entrepreneurs or thrusting young academics. The excesses of some of its less skilled practitioners, together with changes in scholarly fashion, mean that prosopography is no longer utilised as much as it once was, but its proper application here would have served to highlight the nexus of relationships which bound the Roman military together. Alston also speaks of distribution of reserves. Perhaps 'patronage' might be a more appropriate term?

There are a number of doubtful or simply erroneous statements to be found in this book. Caesarion was not Caesar's only child (p. 22). A 'new man' is not someone 'without a distinguished heritage of senatorial service' (p. 45). Alston places the battlefield of Vercellae near Milan but research published as long ago as the 1950s demonstrated that the neighbourhood of Rovigo is more likely (p. 46). Rome's first civil war was in 83-82 BC and not in 84-81 BC (pp. 50, 136). Sulla did not force Caesar into exile (p. 58). Marian exiles were not restored in 70 BC. This appears to be a confusion with the followers of Lepidus, cos. 78 BC (p. 59). The Labienus who led the Parthians in 41 BC was not Caesar's former legate but his son (p. 184). Augustus did not invent the Lusus Troiae (p. 227). Caesar's first consulship was in 59 BC, not 60 BC (p. 340).

There is not a great deal that is new here. The strength of the book lies elsewhere. If we except the slips I have noted, Alston provides the putative reader with a reliable and also accessible narrative of the period. Leavened with a dry wit (see, for instance, p. 64 on Cicero's poetry or p. 374, n34 where contemporary politicians, who sleep with their opponents' wives, are advised to adopt Augustus' excuse that they were doing it to discover what their husbands were up to), Alston is consistently clear and lively in exposition. Those who are new to the period will be well served.

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Claude Jarry, Jean Philopon. Traité de l'astrolabe. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 512. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2015. Pp. clxxxviii, 72. ISBN 9782251005966. €47.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Alfred Stückelberger, Universität Bern (

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Es ist ein ungewöhnliches Zusammentreffen, dass eine nicht unbedeutende, aber doch etwas abseits gelegene Spezialschrift, die seit mehr als anderthalb Jahrhunderten nie mehr textkritisch ediert worden ist, ganz unabhängig voneinander innerhalb weniger Monate gleich in zwei verschiedenen traditionsreichen Textreihen herausgekommen ist: In den letzten Wochen des Jahres 2014 wurde in der Bibliotheca Teubneriana, Series Graeca (jetzt bei De Gruyter) die Schrift des Johannes Philoponos ‚De usu astrolabii eiusque constructione' publiziert1, kurz darauf ist im Mai 2015 in der Série grecque der Belles Lettres als 512. Band die hier anzuzeigende Edition von Claude Jarry‚ Jean Philopon. Traité de l'astrolabe erschienen. Die Bedeutung der für die Wissenschaftsgeschichte wichtigen Fachschrift besteht vor allem darin, dass es sich um die älteste erhaltene Beschreibung des später im Mittelalter, vor allem auch im islamischen Bereich, weit verbreiteten astronomischen Gerätes handelt. Es ist somit vielleicht doch mehr als ein Zufall, dass von zwei verschiedenen Seiten her unabhängig das Bedürfnis empfunden wurde, den Traktat über das Astrolabium des Philoponos in einer Neubearbeitung zu edieren, welcher seit der als Beitrag im Rheinischen Museum von 1839 erstmals erschienenen Ausgabe von Heinrich (sic) Hase2—abgesehen von der weitgehend den Hase-Text rezipierenden Publikation von Alain Ph. Segonds3—nie mehr kritisch ediert worden ist. Da der Verfasser der vorliegenden Rezension zugleich Herausgeber der genannten Teubner-Ausgabe ist, wird die Besprechung mehr vergleichenden als kritisierenden Charakter haben.

Es liegt in der Natur der Sache, dass die zwei Ausgaben, die in den Belles Lettres (BL) und diejenige in der Teubneriana (Tb), ihrer Struktur nach ähnlich aufgebaut sind (abgesehen von der etwas umständlichen abwechselnd römischen und arabischen Paginierung)4: Beiden Ausgaben sind Erläuterungen beigegeben, wobei diese in der BL-Ausgabe als Einführung sehr ausführlich angelegt sind (p. I-CLXXXV und—nach S. 48—p. CLXXXVI-CLXXXVIII), während sie in der Tb-Ausgabe als Anhang sich auf das Nötigste beschränken (S. 65-86). Beiden Erläuterungen sind erklärende Zeichnungen beigegeben, die sich in der BL-Ausgabe mehr allgemein auf das Astrolab beziehen, während in der Tb- Ausgabe die Konstruktionszeichnungen mit den Beschriftungen speziell auf das von Philoponos beschriebene Gerät ausgerichtet sind; so sind dort etwa die Positionen von 17 Sternspitzen auf der Arachne für die Zeit um Ptolemaios nachgerechnet worden.5 Dass ferner den Originaltexten moderne Übersetzungen beigegeben sind, ist bei den Belles Lettres-Ausgaben lange Tradition, bei den Teubner-Texten eher die Ausnahme. Beide Herausgeber haben es schliesslich für nützlich erachtet, eine lexikalische Zusammenstellung von Fachausdrücken anzuführen, so in der BL-Ausgabe S. 59- 63, in der Tb-Ausgabe S. 91-93 (dort auch mit Stellenangaben zu den einzelnen Termini).

Der Hauptunterschied der beiden Ausgaben besteht darin, dass Jarry eine breit angelegte Sichtung des ganzen überlieferten handschriftlichen Materials vorlegt. Die Ausgabe von Hase begnügte sich seinerzeit weitgehend mit den zwei sehr späten Pariser-Handschriften A und B; Tannery hatte für seine ‚Notes critiques'6 die ältere, von Hase nur am Rande berücksichtigte Pariser-Handschrift C stärker gewichtet und punktuell zwei weitere Parisini D und E benützt. In der Teubner-Ausgabe ist neben den fünf genannten Pariser Handschriften zusätzlich eine Florentiner-Handschrift aus dem 14. Jh. herangezogen worden. Es ist daher ein besonderes Verdienst von Jarry, dass er ausführlich die breite handschriftliche Überlieferung aufgearbeitet hat (p. LXIX – CLXIX). Unter Benützung von Vorarbeiten von A.P. Segonds listet er zunächst—nach Bibliotheksstandorten geordnet—74 Astrolabhandschriften des Philoponos auf, von denen er die beeindruckende Zahl von 48 Codices kollationiert hat (p. LXIX–LXXV). Anschliessend folgt eine detaillierte Beschreibung der einzelnen Handschriften, die aufgrund von bestimmten Unterscheidungsmerkmalen wie Randglossen und Auslassungen fünf verschiedenen Familien (π , α, ε, γ, Φ) zugeordnet werden und deren Beziehungen untereinander zunächst mit Stemmaskizzen für jede Familie sichtbar gemacht werden (p. LXXV-CLXVI). Dann wird mit einem alle Textfamilien umfassenden Gesamtstemma-Entwurf der Versuch gewagt, die verschlungenen Überlieferungswege zu veranschaulichen (p. CLXVII–CLXIX). Schliesslich wird die detaillierte Beschreibung der einzelnen Handschriften und Handschriftengruppen abgeschlossen mit einer Skizze der Textgeschichte, die versucht, unter Annahme von verschiedenen heute verlorenen Archetypen und Sub-Archetypen die komplexen Abhängigkeiten in einen Werdeprozess einzuordnen (p. CLXXI-CLXXIX): Jedenfalls handelt es sich um eine zwar sehr breite, aber eher junge Überlieferung, die etwa um 1300 in Byzanz nachweisbar ist (möglicherweise unter dem Einfluss von Planudes: p. CLXXIII 7 ) und mit sieben Hss. vertreten ist, denen 12 aus dem 14. Jh. und 23 aus dem 15. Jh. folgen und mit 25 weiteren Hss. bis ins 19. Jh. die Tradition fortsetzt.

Nun zum Kernstück des vorliegenden Bandes, nämlich zur eigentlichen Textausgabe (p. CLXXXI-CLXXXV und S. 1-45): Zur Konstituierung des griechischen Textes trifft Jarry unter den 74 oben angeführten Astrolabhandschriften eine Auswahl von neun Codices (vier Parisini, drei Vaticani, ein Mutinensis, ein Marcianus), während sich die Teubner- Ausgabe mit sechs Handschriften begnügt hat. Dabei ist allerdings bemerkenswert, dass nur eine Handschrift, der unvollständige Parisinus Graec. 1921 (C) zum gemeinsamen Bestand beider Ausgaben gehört, während die andern acht Hss. erstmals zu einer Textedition herangezogen wurden. Es ist daher nicht erstaunlich, dass die beiden Ausgaben hinsichtlich des Varianten-Bestandes des textkritischen Apparates sehr verschieden sind. Die Texte selber aber unterscheiden sich trotz der unterschiedlichen handschriftlichen Basis im Grossen Ganzen nur an verhältnismässig wenigen sinnrelevanten Stellen; das hängt mit der Natur des Traktates zusammen, der weitgehend eine überprüfbare Sachinformation darstellt, bei welcher die zahlreichen offensichtlichen Fehler in den Handschriften leicht erkannt und korrigiert werden können.

Vorweg zu einer für den praktischen Gebrauch nicht unwesentlichen Äusserlichkeit: Der Traktat ist in den Handschriften in ein Prooemium und 14 Kapitel unterteilt, die bereits in der französischen Übersetzung von Tannery und dann in der Teubner-Ausgabe von 1-15 nummeriert wurden; in der BL-Ausgabe wird das Prooemium nicht mitgezählt und die Kapitel—unter Verschiebung um 1 Ziffer—von I bis XIV durchgezählt. Überlagert ist die Kapitelzählung in römischen Ziffern mit einer fortlaufenden Zählung von Paragraphen in arabischen Ziffern von 1–25, die jeweils eine gute Seite (ungefähr nach der Seitenzählung von Hase) umfasst und eine präzise Zitierung von Textstellen erschwert. Daher wird im Folgenden nach der Tb-Ausgabe zitiert, welche erstmals innerhalb der Kapitel eine Paragraphenzählung eingeführt hat.

Nun zu den Unterschieden:

- Der überwiegende Teil der Unterschiede zwischen der Belles Lettres-Ausgabe und der Teubner-Ausgabe betreffen inhaltlich belanglose, im Ermessensspielraum des Editors liegende Kleinigkeiten wie Wortreihenfolge (z.B. 1,1 ἐσπουδασμένην διδασκάλῳ BL statt διδασκάλῳ ἐσπουδασμένην Tb, 3,19 ἕτεροι κύκλοι τρεῖς BL statt ἕτεροι τρεῖς κύκλοι Tb u.a. St.), Wortwahl oder Wortform (z.B. 3,21 δηλωτικὸν ὑπάρχει BL statt δηλοῖ Tb, 3.22 κατατέμνεσθαι BL statt τέμνεσθαι, 10,1 χρείαν BL statt χρῆσιν Tb u.a.; 3,4 δύο BL statt δυσὶν Tb ), oder andere Kleinigkeiten (z.B. 11,5 ταύτας [sc. μοίρας] BL statt τούτους [sc. χρόνους] Tb).
- In zahlreichen Fällen dürfen Lesarten, die in der Tb vorsichtshalber als Ergänzung oder Konjektur gekennzeichnet waren, nun gemäss der BL als handschriftlich gesichert gelten, was eine weitgehend übereinstimmende Beurteilung der Textvarianten durch die beiden Editoren bezeugt: so etwa 3,24 χειμερινοῦ ⟨τροπικοῦ⟩, 5,5 Tilgung von [ἡλίου], 5,15 διώπτευται, 6,7 ἐν πάσῃ τῇ, 9,13 ⟨θέσιν⟩, 13,4 ⟨τῆς⟩ λόξεως, 13,14 ⟨τὸ⟩ αὐτό, u.a.St.m.

Ferner finden sich einige kleine sinnrelevante Divergenzen; hier einige Beispiele:

- Zunächst zum beschriebenen Instrument: Jarry geht davon aus, dass die Alhidade bei Bedarf von der Diopterseite auf die Arachneseite versetzt wird (so Anm. 29 S. 54; vgl. auch die Abb. 1 p. XL). Nun unterscheidet aber Philoponos zwischen δίοπτρα (Alhidade mit Visiervorrichtung) und μοιρογνωμόνιον (Zeiger ohne Visiervorrichtung: etwa 11,4) auf der Arachneseite; das Instrument besitzt also für die Stundenbestimmungen und andere Zwecke einen zweiten Zeiger; vgl. die Abb. 2 S. 75 der Tb.
- Im Titel der Schrift steht nach χρήσεως in einigen Hss. (so auch im Parisinus Gr. 2491, einer der ältesten Hss.) noch καὶ κατασκευῆς (vgl. p. LXXXIII), das Hase und die späteren Herausgeber übernommen haben. Jarry athetiert nun καὶ κατασκευῆς mit der Begründung, dass nirgends von der ‚construction' die Rede sei. Versteht man aber unter κατασκευή nicht die handwerkliche Herstellung, sondern den Aufbau des bereits hergestellten Gerätes, hat das Wort durchaus seine Berechtigung. So oder so hätte es verdient, mindestens im textkrit. App. erwähnt zu werden, um nicht spurlos zu verschwinden.
- Dem eigentlichen Text stellen verschiedene Hss.—ähnlich wie in Ptolemaios-Handschriften—in gut byzantinischer Manier eine Kapitelübersicht (πίναξ) voran; diese in den Text aufzunehmen ist durchaus sinnvoll, auch wenn sie kaum zum ursprünglichen Bestand des Philoponos-Textes gehört.
- In 2,1 ist die getilgte, nur im App. angeführte Bemerkung τῷ μεσημβρινῷ ... ἀναλογοῦσιν aus grammatikalischen Gründen notwendig, da αἱ μὲν... εὐθεῖαι das Prädikat ἀναλογοῦσιν verlangen.
- In 3,25 ist im Parisinus Graec. 2409 ein Randscholion aus seiner Vorlage, dem Parisinus Graec. 2490, in den Text eingefügt und später von einem Korrektor zu Recht getilgt worden (vgl. p. LXXXV). Da es sich aber um eine hoch interessante Angabe, nämlich um den aus dem Almagest des Ptolemaios stammenden präzisen Ekliptikwert handelt, wäre es sinnvoll, das Scholion in Klammern im Text oder mindestens im Apparat als Beleg für die Kenntnis des Ekliptikwertes im 15. Jh. zu erwähnen.
- Bei der Beschreibung des—scheinbaren—Weges der Sonne in der Nacht von Westen nach Osten ist 11,4 die Variante πρὸς ἀνατολήν (statt δύσιν) wohl sachlich richtig, trotz der Erklärung Anm. 39 S. 55).

Die sprachliche Gestaltung der französische Übersetzung zu beurteilen, welche die 1927 postum erschienene Version von Tannery8 ersetzt, überlässt der Rezensent gerne einem ‚native speaker'. Hier nur wenige Bemerkungen zur Wiedergabe einiger Fachausdrücke: Für einige häufig vorkommende Begriffe wie δίοπτρα oder παράλληλοι verwendet Jarry die aus der islamischen Tradition übernommenen, später sehr verbreiteten Fachaudrücke ‚l'alidade' und ‚les almicantarats', während in der Tb die aus dem Griechischen stammenden Fremdwörter Diopter und Parallelkreis beibehalten wurden. Als Bezeichnung von Himmelsrichtungen übersetzt Jarry ἀνατολή und δύσις, in Anlehnung an die Grundbedeutung der Wörter, mit ‚le levant' bzw. ‚le couchant', während in der Tb die mehr sachbezogenen Wörter ‚Osten' und ‚Westen' verwendet werden. In 10,2 übersetzt Jarry δοχεῖον zutreffend mit ‚réceptacle' (analog in der TB l.c. ‚Behälter'), und meidet das spätere Fachwort ‚mère' bzw. ‚matrice' (dazu Anm. 37 S. 29).

Abschliessend sei festgehalten, dass der Rezensent ganz dem Urteil Jarrys zustimmt, ‚nous n'avons ... aucune raison de mettre en doute le fait que le ‚Traité de l'astrolabe' de Philopon soit une oeuvre largement autonome' (p. LI).


1.   Ioannes Philoponus. De usu astrolabii eiusque constructione. Über die Anwendung des Astrolabs und seine Anfertigung. Unter Mitarbeit von Heiner Rohner herausgegeben, übersetzt und erläutert von Alfred Stückelberger. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana. BT 2016, De Gruyter, Berlin 2015.
2.   Das Verdienst, Ersteditor der Philoponos-Schrift zu sein, gehört H(einrich) Hase (1789-1842), dem ‚Marmorum Dresdensium Regius Custos', wie er sich selbst auf dem Titelblatt vorstellt, nicht Charles Benoît Hase/alias Karl Benedikt Hase (1780-1864), wie schon Segonds irrtümlich (l.c. 113) und jetzt auch Jarry (p. IX, p. CLXXXII und S. 67) angeben. (vgl. ADB 10,724f.).
3.   A.P. Segonds, Jean Philopon, Traité de l'astrolabe, Astrolabica 2, Paris 1981.
4.   Auf die Einleitung I-CLXXXV folgt S.1-45 der Philoponos-Text mit Übersetzung; daran schliesst S. 46-48 ein Scholion an; dann folgt CLXXXVI-CLXXXVIII die Einleitung zu drei ‚articles additifs' mit Text S. 49f. Auf S. 51-57 versetzt sind Anmerkungen zum Text, welche die Fussnoten ergänzen; S. 59-63 folgt eine lexikalische Zusammenstellung von Fachausdrücken, gefolgt von einer Bibliographie S. 65-72.
5.   Die von Philoponos 8,1 (zur Zitierweise s.u.) genannte Zahl von 17 Fixsternen, die bei zahlreichen späteren Astrolabien tatsächlich belegt ist, dürfte damit zu tun haben, dass Ptolemaios in seinem Fixsternkatalog genau 17 Sterne erster Grössenordnung anführt.
6.   Paul Tannery, ‚Notes critiques sur le traité de l'Astrolabe de Philopon', Revue de la philologie, de littérature et d'histoire anciennes 12, 1888, 60-73.
7.   Dass sich unter den ältesten, um 1300 entstandenen Handschriften der Cod. Vaticanus Graec. 191 befindet, der fol. 128-169 auch die ‚Geographie' des Ptolemaios enthält, mit deren Rezension sich Planudes intensiv beschäftigt hat, ist wohl kein Zufall.
8.   Paul Tannery, ‚Jean le Grammairien d'Alexandrie (Philopon). Sur l'usage de l'astrolabe et sur les traces qu'il présente', Postum hgb. von J.L. Heiberg/H.-G. Zeuthen, in: Mémoires scientifiques 9, Toulouse/Paris 1927/1929, 341-367.

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Francesca Guadalupe Masi, Stephano Maso, Fate, Chance and Fortune in Ancient Thought. Lexis Ancient Philosophy 9. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 2013. Pp. 250. ISBN 9789025612887. €48,00. (pb).

Reviewed by László Bene, Eötvös Loránd University (

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

This collection of essays is centered around the issue of chance and fortune (αὐτόματον, τύχη) in Classical, Hellenistic and Imperial philosophy, but it also extends to related problems like fate, necessity, causality and the rational autonomy of human agents. With one exception, a paper in French, all the studies are written in Italian and English. The contributions are generally of high standard, many of them containing original insights.

Herrmann argues that Plato's accounts of action and knowledge imply some kind of "determinism", which seems to leave little room for human freedom: the good and the object of desire determine human motivations and actions, while the Forms determine true knowledge. He suggests that freedom is available exclusively for the philosopher in that he is capable of creating alternative analyses and descriptions of reality which are not externally determined. The latter claim is buttressed with an analysis of Plato's practice as a philosophical author. I wonder if such a notion of freedom—analogous to the freedom of artistic creation—is fruitful in interpreting Plato. In my view, Plato's philosopher is concerned to map the structure of objective reality rather than to liberate his thought from the constraints imposed by it.

Rossi examines Metaphysics E.3, where Aristotle argues that the existence of accidental causes guarantees that not everything happens of necessity. She compares Physics B.4-6, developing a subtle analysis of the causal structure of chance events. Cases of chance can be identified with reference to the end (τέλος), which is implicity present in the moving cause. For instance, if a man goes to the agora for the sake of a spectacle, and on meeting a debtor collects his money, the original end (seeing the spectacle) implicit in the moving cause (the intention of the agent) and the outcome actually achieved (collecting the money) are different. The final cause marks out a causal chain leading to its own actualization. In the cases of chance, an intermediate cause in this chain changes its nature in such a way that it brings about a different outcome. Accidental causes are intermediate causes capable of being for the sake of the original end as well as for the sake of the de facto achieved outcome. When an intermediary cause becomes an accidental cause, it changes its nature merely because of some spatio-temporal coincidence (in our example: the presence of the debtor in the agora). On the usual reading, in Metaphysics E.3 Aristotle rejects mechanical determinism involving efficient causes. Rossi's thesis is that what Aristotle is rejecting is rather a teleological determinism involving efficient-final causes: if there were no accidental causes, then every linear natural and deliberative process would necessarily achieve its original end, and would happen always in the same way. Rossi develops her thesis with admirable clarity and thoroughness. Masi sets out to refute Dudley's claim that Aristotle's Physics contains two distinct notions of good fortune (εὐτυχία). According to Dudley, εὐτυχία in B.6 figures as a comprehensive and permanent state rooted in the nature of the agent, whereas in B.5, 197a31-2 it is temporary external prosperity depending merely on chance (τύχη).1 Masi advances an interpretation of Physics B.5, 197a25-32 in order to show that the notion of εὐτυχία in B.5 is not incompatible with that of B.6, as it comprises not only goods of fortune but also goods due to the natural endowment of the agent and, therefore, it is only partly dependent on chance. Her reconstruction has not entirely convinced me at every point. For instance, Masi's interpretation of 197a27-9 (roughly: the attainment of a negligible evil does not prevent us from having good fortune, just as the attainment of a negligible good does not prevent us from having bad fortune) largely depends on word order, which varies in the different manuscripts; moreover, I wonder if the verb ἐστίν can mean "does not prevent". Notwithstanding my doubts, I think that Masi's detailed and tightly argued interpretation of Physics 197a25-32 must be taken into account in future research.

Bonelli examines the Peripatetic doctrine of fate elaborated by Alexander of Aphrodisias against Stoic determinism. She closely follows the argument of On Fate chs. 2-6 where Alexander classes fate with "productive causes" (αἴτια ποιητικά), and identifies it with nature (both specific and individual). Alexander insists that nature admits of exceptions, something that is, in his view, indispensable for moral responsibility.

Wildberger examines Chrysippus' argument for determinism from bivalence, as well as his doctrine of confatalia, worked out in reply to the antideterminist Lazy Argument. Furthermore, she argues that Seneca's refutation of the Lazy Argument differs in logical structure from that of Chrysippus. Wildberger re-translates the arguments transmitted by Cicero into Greek, and she attempts to identify the original Stoic terminology. For instance, she argues that in the argument from bivalence it is the concept of effect (οὗ ἐστιν αἴτιον, in Cicero simply quod)—in the Stoics' view, an incorporeal "sayable", a predicate—that mediates between the logical and the physical plane of the argument, as predicates figure both in logical and in causal theory. At some points the identification of the Greek terms seems to require more explicit justification. For example, it is not obvious to me that Cicero's causa efficiens translates αἴτιον αὐτοτελές. On the whole, however, Wildberger advances a subtle, well-argued and original analysis of the arguments in question.

Maso in his rich study distinguishes two facets in Seneca's theory of action. First, Seneca insists that human beings qualify as responsible agents capable of self-determination even if they live in a deterministic world and are exposed to fortune (that is, to changing external circumstances, viewed in abstraction from providential cosmic order) and to other persons' power. Maso suggests that Seneca's "defensive strategy" relies on Chrysippus' compatibilism, and it anticipates the notion of freedom that will take center stage in Epictetus. Secondly, Maso discerns a "provocative strategy" in Seneca: manifestations of human freedom may go beyond the limits set by reason and experience, and the conciousness of self-determination may incite human agents to take risks. According to Maso, the Stoic model of human action as used by Seneca comprises the following phases: perception—phantasia—decision (the function of the will)—assent—external action. He argues that in Seneca there is a notion of free will that is the basis for responsibility. Maso interprets "volition" (velle, voluntas) in terms of an abstract, general desire that takes concrete shape in assent. He seems to locate the initia rerum in volition —that is, the beginning of a behavioral pattern, which is originally in our power but, once started, follows its internal logic and potentially renders us vulnerable. I suspect that the decisive moment must be rather the following phase, i.e. assent (if they can in fact be separated)—Seneca anticipates later notions of the will mainly by embracing the Stoic psychological model that accommodates assent as a second-order decision-making faculty.

Alessandrelli examines a doxographical report in Calcidius' Timaeus–commentary (ch. 144) where two leading Stoics' views on fate and providence are contrasted: whereas for Chrysippus fate and providence coincide in extension, Cleanthes assigns fate a broader domain than that of providence. Alessandrelli argues that the report on Cleanthes is a construct of a later interpreter who sets out from a tension present in Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus (that is, the contrast between the providential force, Zeus, on the one hand, and the misdeeds bad men commit in their folly, on the other), and ends up in a cosmic dualism incompatible with Stoic orthodoxy.

Morel scrutinizes Epicurus' criticism of Democritean necessitarianism. He surveys Epicurus' much-discussed arguments for autonomous human agency, but the main focus of his paper is cosmology rather than psychology and ethics. In Epicurean physics, necessity is divested of its status as the sole and absolute principle. At the same time, Epicurus has an important place for necessity in his causal theory. Necessity is integrated into a threefold causal scheme, along with chance and human agency and, in this way, its role is redefined. Epicurus is at pains to render necessity a less abstract notion by linking it to the properties of atoms in his account of the formation of worlds.

Verde sets out from Democritus' fragment B68 in which chance or fortune (τύχη) is interpreted in terms of a pretext of human folly or lack of counsel, and is contrasted with prudence (φρόνησις). He points out that Epicurus elaborates on this Democritean idea (Principal Doctrines 16; Letter to Menoeceus 133-5). Epicurus regards chance as a real causal factor, but he opposes the popular view that τύχη is a mighty god dominating human affairs, insisting that rational calculation (λογισμός) is capable of minimizing its impact on human life. Verde helpfully surveys various textual reconstructions of the sources. Finally, he examines the attitude to fortune of Epicurus' associates and that of later Epicureans.

Eliasson argues that Plotinus propounds a distinctively Platonic theory of fate. In his view, Plotinus follows Alexander of Aphrodisias in the identification of fate with nature but, at the same time, advances a different account of human autonomy. While for Alexander human autonomy is grounded in ordinary deliberation and decision, as they are not fully determined by any external or internal factors, Plotinus restricts autonomous activity to disembodied souls and to the souls of wise persons. Non-wise persons who act according to their natural constitution remain enslaved to fate. Eliasson examines thoroughly Plotinus' treatise On Fate (III.1), and he offers a panoramic review of other pertinent texts. He rightly points out that Plotinus is relying on the same Plato passages as the Middle Platonist theory of conditional fate (especially the myth of Er in Republic X), but he is less successful in showing that the Plotinian accounts were shaped specifically by that theory.

Spinelli discusses the interpretation of ancient Cynism developed by Hans Jonas, an outstanding philosopher who also engaged in intellectual history (Problems of Freedom, 1966/1970). According to Jonas, the disappearence of the possibility of self-realization of the individual in the medium of the polis in Hellenistic times had far-reaching cultural consequences. Fortune gained greater importance than ever before, which is witnessed by the spreading of its religious cult. At the same time, a notion of a private, inner self emerged in philosophy. It is this background against which the provocative and contemptuous sayings of Diogenes of Sinope concerning Fortune can be understood. He defiantly sets against Fortune the ethical and intellectual power of the Cynic sage. Although Diogenes' reflections are confined to moral life, he prepares the ground, in Jonas' view, for Stoicism, in which the problem of freedom, enriched by an ontological dimension, becomes a central issue for the first time. I missed a critical assessment of Jonas' account in Spinelli's paper.

The volume ends with useful Indices. Unfortunately, there are some typos, at two points even in the source texts.2 The collection does not aim to systematically cover the history of the ancient theories about chance, fortune and fate; nonetheless, readers interested in this complex of problems will find in it useful discussions, and some of the papers—for instance, the articles on Aristotle, and the studies on Chrysippus and Seneca—make significant contributions to the interpretation of the ancient evidence related to the issues in question.

Table of Contents

1. Fritz-Gregor Hermann, Freedom and Necessity in Plato
2. Gabriela Rossi, Chance and Accidental Causes in Aristotle: Metaph. E 3 in the Light of the Concept of Tyche
3. Francesca Guadalupe Masi, Ragione, fortuna e prosperità. L'incidenza della sorte sull'azione e la felicit: Aristotele, Fisica B 5, 197a25-32
4. Maddalena Bonelli, Alexandre d'Aphrodise et le destin comme cause productrice
5. Jula Wildberger, Bodies, Predicates and Fated Truths: Ontological Distinctions and the Terminology of Causation in Defenses of Stoic Determinism by Chrysippus and Seneca
6. Stefano Maso, 'Quarundam rerum initia in nostra potestate sunt': Seneca on Decision Making, Fate, and Responsibility
7. Michele Alessandrelli, Cleante e Crisippo sul rapporto tra provvidenza e fato. A proposito di Calc., in Pat. Tim. 144
8. Pierre-Marie Morel, Epicuro e la desacralizzazione della necessità
9. Francesco Verde, TYXH e ΛOΓIΣMOΣ nell'Epicureismo
10. Erik Eliasson, Plotinus on Fate (EIMAPMENH)
11. Emidio Spinelli, Il ruolo della TYXH: Hans Jonas e la 'provocazione' cinica


1.   J. Dudley, Aristotle's Concept of Chance. Accidents, Cause, Necessity, and Determinism (Albany: SUNY Press, 2012), 61 and 248. Dudley's larger thesis is that it is only in Physics B.6 that Aristotle distinguishes between αὐτόματον and a narrower notion of τύχη, and, in his view, chapters 4-5 were superficially reworked in the light of this distinction.
2.   P. 130 "very" instead of "every" in the translation of Seneca, Ep. 14.16; p. 145 qui instead of quia in Calcidius, ch. 144.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Thibaut Boulay, Anne-Valérie Pont, Chalkètôr en Carie. Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 48. Paris: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2014. Pp. 168. ISBN 9782877543088. €30.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Jeremy LaBuff, Northern Arizona University (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

It is remarkable that despite a publication record that would humble even the most successfully garrulous among us, Jeanne and Louis Robert uncovered enough evidence to considerably outpace this productivity. Chalkètôr en Carie represents the second attempt in recent years to remedy the unpublished state of the findings that now reside in the Fonds Louis Robert at the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.1 Boulay and Pont take as the focus of their work three squeezes of inscriptions discovered by the Roberts in 1953. They aim to show how these documents shed new light on the history of the region during the Hellenistic and Imperial periods and deepen our knowledge of the changing dynamic between the imperial government and Roman subjects in Asia Minor.

The structure of the work seems a homage to the coherent if roundabout way that Robert elucidated the ancient world in his own writings. Chapter 1 begins by establishing an editio princeps for each of the inscriptions. Each subsequent chapter pursues a particular implication of one or more of these inscriptions, taking the patient reader into pleasantly unanticipated realms of exploration, before returning to the core evidence in the following chapter.

One major revelation made in the first chapter is that the sympoliteia attested for Chalkètôr in ca. 200 BC involved its absorption by nearby Iasos, as the new inscriptions demonstrate in revealing the later presence of Iasian officials in Chalkètôr. Chapter 2 takes the occasion of this conclusion to review and update our knowledge of the history of Chalkètôr, yet this is not just or even primarily local history. The merger was enforced by a Hellenistic general, and so the bulk of the chapter is devoted to examining the power of the Hellenistic monarchies in Karia, determining which king was responsible for this royal intervention, and considering other cases of sympoliteia in the region. There is much of value here for the reader unfamiliar with this fascinating period in Karian history, and the argument for Antiochos III as the enforcer of the union with Iasos is persuasive. I did wonder at the predominance of a top-down approach to the region's history at the expense of the local perspective of most of our evidence, and the chapter's title "La déchéance de Chalkètôr," buys into the outdated notion of the decline of the post-Classical polis.

With the exciting revelation that Chalkètôr became a part of Iasos, Boulay and Pont turn in Chapter 3 to a reconsideration of Iasian territory, focusing especially on its boundary with another eastern neighbor, Hydai. After offering an updated version of IMylasa 902 based on a squeeze and copy made by Robert, they argue temptingly that Iasos controlled the southern spur of Mount Grion and its adjoining valley, territory where Robert found ruins that he attributed to Hydai. The location of epigraphic finds originating from Iasos and Hydai support their conclusion, but the argument too easily dismisses the archaeological remains that both Robert and Blümel mention,2 and which the authors were personally unable to confirm. Ultimately, their hypothesis will have to await more thorough investigation of the area, and is yet another motive for attracting more archaeological attention to this part of Karia.

In Chapter 4 the authors return to the second inscription of Chapter 1 and the presence of Trajan as an eponymous Iasian magistrate. They review the phenomenon of the Imperial eponymy in Asia Minor and argue against the traditional explanation that financial crisis or the presence of the emperor impelled cities to seek benefaction by awarding the emperor a local office. They rightly point out that such explanations fail to account for the geographical limitations of the phenomenon or its non-systematic occurrence. Instead, Boulay and Pont favor local political motives that aimed to integrate the emperor's power into the passage of civic time. Unfortunately, this promising start fails to progress significantly, and the reader closes the chapter no closer to an understanding of what type of relationship local elites sought with the emperor, or why the phenomenon prevailed in Asia Minor and nowhere else. There is more work to be done here.

The final chapter departs from the basic structure of the book, using an already published document from Chalkètôr as a springboard for examining an Iasian senatorial domain in the third century AD and its implications for the transformation of civic society at this time. Appia Alexandria, owner of the estate, was wife to a Carthaginian senator, and thus an absentee landowner with higher social standing than the individual who in the inscription calls her kyria. The authors generalize from this instance to declare intense stratification and elite disaffection with civic avenues for social and economic power. Without any broader context, it appears that the cart has run over the horse here. One would like to see more discussion of the possible social relationships implied by the term kyria (can it refer to an owner of slaves as well?). Moreover, the absence of any comparison with similar evidence from other parts of the empire was particularly surprising, given the thorough use of analogy in Chapter 4.

The book concludes with three appendices—the first a useful reprinting of the entire "corpusculum" of inscriptions from Chalkètôr, minus the three inscriptions from the first chapter—four indices, two maps, and seven high-quality photographs of squeezes or inscriptions. No errors stood out to these American eyes, and the book is very thoroughly researched: in true Robertian fashion, text and footnotes often take up equal parts on the page. Specialists will regret the absence of a bibliography.

All in all, this is a most welcome contribution from which epigraphists and historians of Karia and Asia Minor in the Hellenistic and Imperial periods will learn much and find considerable inspiration for further study. It is also a model for how to use new evidence to redefine our historical knowledge using both local and transregional lenses. We should all look forward to the next publication of materials from the Fonds Louis Robert, and hope that future authors can mirror the quality and insight of the authors.

Table of Contents

Préface, par Glen Bowersock
Propos luminaire
Abréviations bibliographiques
I. Trois inscriptions de Chalkètôr
II. La déchéance de Chalkètôr, la lettre royale et le stratège Iasôn
III.Le territoire iasien entre Milet, l'Eurômide et la Petite mer
IV. Trajan éponyme à Iasos et les éponymies impériales en Asie Mineure occidentale
V. Le domaine d'Appia Alexandra et Chalkètôr au IIIe siècle ap. J.-C.
Annexe I. Corpusculum des inscriptions de Chalkètôr
Annexe II. Expression de l'homonymie à Iasos
Annexe III. La datation des listes éphébiques iasiennes
Sources littéraires
Index épigraphique
Index des noms (Inscriptions A-D)
Index analytique
Table des planches


1.   Fabrice Delrieux, Les monnaies du Fonds Louis Robert (Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres). Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 45. Paris: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2011.
2.   Louis Robert, "Rapport sommaire sur un second voyage en Carie," Revue Archéologique (1935): 159; Wolfgang Blümel, Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 35: Mylasa, nos. 909 and 910.

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Paulo Butti de Lima, Maria Grazia Ciani, Platone, L'utopia del potere (La settima lettera). Letteratura universale Marsilio; Il Convivio. Venezia: Marsilio Editori, 2015. Pp. 201. ISBN 9788831720434. €15.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Rainer Knab, Vinzenz-Pallotti-Kolleg Rheinbach (

Version at BMCR home site

Die unter Platons Namen überlieferten Schriften, deren Einteilung in neun Tetralogien auf Thrasyllos, den Hofastrologen des Tiberius, zurückgeführt wird, enthalten in der neunten Tetralogie neben dem Minos, den Nomoi und der Epinomis auch eine Sammlung von 13 Briefen. Unter diesen 13 Briefen ist der siebte sicher der berühmteste und umstrittenste.

Zu diesem Brief legt nun Paulo Butti de Lima, Professor für die Geschichte der politischen Theorien (Storia delle dottrine politiche) an der Universität Bari, unter dem Titel L'utopia del potere einen neuen Kommentar vor. Diesem gehen eine Einleitung (S. 9 bis 52), eine Gliederung des Briefes (S. 53/54), eine Zeittafel (S. 55), eine genealogische Übersicht (S. 56), Bemerkungen zur Textgestaltung (S. 57)1 sowie der griechische Text,2 dem die italienische Übersetzung Maria Grazia Cianis3 gegenübergestellt ist (S. 59 bis 131), voran. Der Kommentar selbst umfasst die Seiten 133 bis 192. Bibliographische Hinweise beschließen das Bändchen (S. 193 bis 201).

In seiner Einleitung unterscheidet Butti de Lima drei Texte, die im 7. Brief zusammengekommen seien: zum einen ein Text, in dem der Philosoph als Ratgeber auftrete („la »lettera di consigli«" [S. 18]), daneben ein autobiographisch-apologetischer Text („l'apologia platonica" [S. 11]) und zuletzt ein philosophischer Exkurs („digressione filosofica" [S.16]). Diese „ipotesi compositiva qui tracciata, osservando la stratificazione del testo nelle sue tre parti" (S. 49) ist eigentlich nichts Neues: Schon Wilamowitz4 hatte die Disparatheit des 7. Briefes dadurch zu erklären versucht, dass der Brief „mehr und anderes will, als sein Eingang angegeben hat, daß Platon in eigener Sache zu der ganzen Welt redet", es also „ein offener Brief, für das Publikum bestimmt, nur zum Schein für die Adressaten"5 sei.

Der Rezensent selbst hat in seiner Ausgabe des Briefes 20066 nachzuweisen versucht, dass sich alle Exkurse des Briefes in gewisser Weise aus dem eigentlichen Thema des Briefes, nämlich dem Rat an die Adressaten, ableiten lassen, und zwar deshalb, weil der alte Platon versucht, die jungen Adressaten „mit sich auf dieselbe Verständnisebene zu bringen,"7

Eine solche (also inhaltliche) Verknüpfung der drei von ihm unterschiedenen Texte versucht Butti de Lima nicht, sondern bemerkt zum philosophischen Exkurs nur, er sei „un testo di diversa origine inserito qui per chiarire i limiti della scrittura" (S. 35).8 Dieses Fehlen eines verknüpfenden Momentes führt dazu, dass die eher an einen Essay denn an eine wissenschaftliche Abhandlung gemahnende Einleitung disparater als der platonische Brief selbst wirkt und schließlich—im Gegensatz zum Brief— in gewisser Weise ‚resignativ' endet: Ausgehend von der Formulierung des Briefes, dass die σπουδαιότατα eines ἀνὴρ σπουδαῖος irgendwo ἐν χώρᾳ τῇ καλλίστῃ τῶν τούτου liegen (344c1-8), schließt die Einleitung mit den Worten: „La terra più bella, per gli uomini superiori—diversamente che per i tiranni e gli uomini politici—non è la citta" (S. 479). Ob dies nun im Sinne des Titels des Bändchens bedeuten soll, dass sich Macht für den besseren Menschen nirgendwo anders als in ihm selbst befinden kann (ist das dann ihre Utopie?), hat sich dem Rezensenten nicht erschlossen.

Aus den genannten Gründen wird meines Erachtens diese Einleitung demjenigen wenig nützen, der sich von ihr in die Thematik und Problematik des 7. Briefs einführen lassen will.10

Die Benutzung des Kommentars selbst erschwert der Umstand, dass die kommentierten Textstellen einerseits italienisch angeführt werden, wobei die Worte nicht immer mit denen der Übersetzung übereinstimmen,11 andererseits häufig nicht durch Benennung des Endpunktes klargemacht wird, auf welche Textpassagen genau sich die kommentierenden Ausführungen jeweils beziehen.

Leider sind zudem Übersetzung und Kommentar nicht aus einer Hand, sodass Disparatheiten auftreten: Zum Beispiel wird die textkritisch schwierige Stelle 341b6/7 (der überlieferte Text ist οἵτινες δέ, οὐδ᾿ αὐτοὶ αὑτούς) in der Übersetzung nach dem Verständnis von Wilamowitz12 wiedergegeben („ma si tratta di gente che non conosce neanche se stessa" [S. 103]), während der Kommentar hier mit einem ausgefallenen Wort („verbo omesso", S. 166) rechnet, ohne dass darauf in der „nota al testo" verwiesen wird. Und außerdem berichtigt hier der Kommentar die Übersetzung: „non »conoscono nemmeno se stessi« ... Così anche questi altri pretendono di avere conoscenze proprie, ma di proprio non hanno neanche loro stessi" (S. 166/167). Allerdings gelingt es dem Kommentator nicht, diese Deutung auch am Text festzumachen. Vielleicht schwebt ihm vor, als ausgefallenes Wort ἔχουσιν zu ergänzen; dies wird aber nicht ausdrücklich gesagt.

Trotz der angeführten Nachteile ist der Kommentar insgesamt sorgfältig, berücksichtigt in ausreichender Weise die wichtigste Literatur und kann dem, der sich mit Platons 7. Brief beschäftigt, den Text durchaus erhellen. Nur selten lässt er—nach Ansicht des Rezensenten—Erklärungsbedürftiges unberücksichtigt: Zum Beispiel vermisst man eine erläuternde Erklärung zu der in 344a1 genannten mythischen Gestalt des Lynkeus und eine Begründung dafür, warum sie überhaupt in diesem Zusammenhang erwähnt wird.13

Ein letzter Kritikpunkt: Seit Richard Bentleys Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris (1697) wurde die Echtheit der aus der Antike stammenden Briefliteratur und somit auch der unter Platons Namen überlieferten Briefe immer wieder in Frage gestellt, und für einen Großteil derselben sicher zu Recht. Von denen, für welche die Echtheit überhaupt nur in Frage kommt (epist. 3, 6, 7 und 8), ist vor allem für und wider die Echtheit des 7. Briefes—gerade wegen seiner Bedeutung für die Biographie Platons—gestritten worden. Doch in der Frage nach der Echtheit des Briefes bezieht Butti de Lima leider an keinem Punkt dezidiert Stellung und bleibt eher vage, obwohl er die Frage in seiner Einleitung ausdrücklich stellt: „Questo testo, a chi appartiene?" (S. 15) Dass er wohl eher dazu neigt, den Brief für echt zu halten, wird am Ende einer Anmerkung zu seiner Einleitung deutlich: „Tuttavia, si può notare che l'ipotesi compositiva qui tracciata, ossservando la stratificazione del testo nelle sue tre parti, è in qualche modo un'ipotesi a favore della sua autenticità, almeno per quanto riguarda il diverso materiale all'origine di una successiva revisione del testo" (S. 49).

Um ein abschließendes Urteil abzugeben: Zwar findet sich wirklich grundlegend Neues über Platons 7. Brief weder in der Einleitung noch im Kommentar selbst, und für den, der sich ohne besondere Vorkenntnisse mit diesem Brief beschäftigen will, stellt die Einleitung sicher keine große Hilfe dar. Der Kommentar selbst jedoch kann bei der Beschäftigung damit neben den gängigen älteren Kommentaren mit Gewinn herangezogen werden.


1.   Der Text folgt weitgehend der Ausgabe von Jennifer Moore-Brunt (Platonis epistulae, Leipzig 1985). Die insgesamt zwölf Abweichungen von deren Text sind inhaltlich nicht ausschlaggebend, sie sind jedoch nachvollziehbar und betreffen—einmal (326b2)—nur die Berichtigung eines Tippfehlers. Warum allerdings in 344b7 am überlieferten συντείνων (das der Rezensent für nicht haltbar erachtet [vgl. Fußnote 6, S. 289]) festgehalten wird, darüber klärt der Kommentar leider nicht auf.
2.   Störend (und der Grund dafür bleibt dem Rezensenten schleierhaft) wirkt, dass außer dem griechischen Brieftext kein anderes in griechischen Buchstaben geschriebenes Wort in dem Buch auftaucht. Sowohl in der Einleitung wie auch im Kommentar werden sämtliche griechischen Wörter in lateinischer Umschrift gegeben.
3.   Maria Grazia Ciani ist „Professore ordinario di Storia della tradizione classica" an der Universität Padua. Die Übersetzung erschien ursprünglich in: Margherita Isnardi Parente, Platone Lettere – Traduzione di Maria Grazia Ciani, Mailand 2002.
4.   Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Platon II - Beilagen und Textkritik, Dublin-Zürich 1969 (Nachdruck der 1920 in zweiter Auflage erschienenen Ausgabe).
5.   ebenda S. 291.
6.   Rainer Knab, Platons Siebter Brief . Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar, Hildesheim etc. 2006.
7.   ebenda S. 47.
8.   Eine Begründung dafür, dass es sich um einen eingeschobenen Text anderen Ursprungs handeln soll, erfolgt allerdings erst im Kommentarteil: „È chiaro dalla presentazione e da indizi interni (come l'uso della seconda persona) che si tratta di uno testo all'origine indipendente" (S. 172).
9.   Im Kommentar wird ausgeführt, dass die χώρα ἡ καλλίστη die ψυχή oder—innerhalb der ψυχή—der λόγος oder der νοῦς sei. Das erinnert an Wilamowitz' Formulierung „Schrein seines Herzens" (Wilamowitz [vgl. Fußnote 4], S. 297). Der Rezensent selbst will darunter eher die „geeignete Seele eines anderen, die mittels der Dialektik mit den σπουδαιότατα vertraut gemacht worden ist" (Knab [vgl. Fußnote 6] S. 291), sehen.
10.   Zur Qualität der Übersetzung erlaubt der Rezensent sich kein Urteil, da er das Italienische dafür aktiv nicht ausreichend beherrscht.
11.   Zum Beispiel werden die Worte τροφῆς τῆς καθ᾿ ἡμέραν [340d3] in der Übersetzung mit „genere di vita quotidiano" (S. 101) wiedergegeben, im Kommentar dagegen mit „Le attività quotidiane" (S. 165) aufgegriffen.
12.   „Wer und was sie sind - sie wissen's selber nicht" (Wilamowitz [vgl. Fußnote 4], S. 292).
13.   Noch ein Beispiel: Muss sich ein Leser von heute nicht fragen, warum Platon das Leben in Syrakus als ὁ ταύτῃ λεγόμενος αὖ βίος εὐδαίμων, Ἰταλιωτικῶν τε καὶ Συρακουσίων τραπεζῶν πλήρης (326b7/8) abtut, und kann er dazu in einem Kommentar nicht nähere Erläuterungen erwarten?

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