Thursday, November 5, 2015


Biagio Santorelli (ed.), [Quintiliano], Il ricco accusato di tradimento. Gli amici garanti (Declamazioni maggiori, 11; 16). Studi umanistici, 6. Cassino: Edizioni Università di Cassino, 2014. Pp. 348. ISBN 9788883170744. €30.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Gernot Krapinger, Zentrum Antike. Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (

Version at BMCR home site

This work by the Italian scholar Biagio Santorelli combines two of the 19 Major declamations, uniting the eleventh speech (Dives accusatus proditionis) and the sixteenth speech (Amici vades) within one volume. The first of the two (pp. 11-170) thematizes the enmity between a rich and a poor man. Both of them have three sons. A war breaks out and the rich man is appointed commander. After he leaves for encampment, rumors arise, suspecting him of betraying his country. The poor man appears before the People's Assembly accusing the rich man of treason. In the latter's absence, his sons are stoned to death. Upon his glorious return from the war, the rich man demands that the poor man's sons be executed. When their father offers to sacrifice himself in their place, the rich man objects due to the fact that according to the laws of the time, the death penalty is applicable to both traitors and slanderers.

In the 16th speech (pp. 171-314), two friends are captured and enslaved by a tyrant. Upon learning her son's fate, the mother of one of the friends cries so much that she ends up losing her eyesight. The tyrant grants the son a visit to his blind mother under the condition of returning by a set deadline. If he fails to do so, his friend, who has pledged for him, must die. When the son arrives at his mother's, she detains him, invoking a law that penalizes the act of abandoning one's suffering parents.

The reason why these two speeches are united in one volume does not lie in the similarity of their contents but rather in the fact that the texts are clearly shorter than the rest of the Maiores. Apart from that, Santorelli's work is structured like the ten volumes of commentaries on the Major Declamations, which were initiated and directed by Antonio Stramaglia and published as a series from Cassino.

After a thorough introduction (pp. 11-46; 173-206), Santorelli presents texts and translations (pp. 47-70; 207-228) as well as a comprehensive commentary (pp. 71-170; 229-314) on both speeches. In the introduction to DM 11, the author discusses the diverse refinement of the antithesis of "rich versus poor," working out interesting differences between Greek and Latin rhetorical schools as to the characterization of this typical polar pair that is found both in the two Pseudoquintilianic collections as well as in Seneca Rhetor and Calpurnius Flaccus (pp. 15-26). In the following, the offences of treason (proditio) and slander (calumnia) are outlined under the perspective of legal history by thorough investigation of relevant sources of Roman law and literature. In his introduction to the 16th speech, Santorelli deals with the motif of the journey and the figure of the tyrant (pp. 173-181), both of them narratological „elementi antagonistici"(p. 176) of the declamations. A fixed asset of school rhetoric, the tyrant however appears only in the 16th speech of the Maiores, where he plays a central role in the development of the pledge as its main subject.

The next chapter is dedicated to the depiction of the two friends (pp. 181-191), who embody the classical paragon of loyalty best known from Schiller's ballad "The Pledge." Being one of the favorite subjects of popular philosophy, the philosophumenus locus (Sen. Rhet. contr. 1, 7, 17) of friendship is also a frequent topic in schools of rhetoric. Santorelli proves himself to be a profound expert on the concept of friendship as an anthropological and sociological phenomenon by thoroughly explaining the dilemma of the conflict between obedience to parents and duty to a friend. The author provides a subtle study of the philosophical and literary sources of the Pythagorean legend of Damon and Phintias of Iamblichos (vit. Pyth. 234ff. = Aristoxenos, fr. 31 Wehrli) and Valerius Maximus (4, 7, ext. 1) all the way to Polyainos (strat. 5, 2, 22), pointing out that with Pseudo-Quintilian, the famous motif of the pledge is rather far removed from the moral realm, being instead placed into the legal ambience of the court and linked to the motif of the blind mother.

The motif of friendship in conflict with other social ties is characteristic of Pseudoquintilianicdeclamations: in DM 16, the protagonist will opt for saving the friend's life while abandoning his own mother, who has become blind out of concern for him. In DM 9, friendship conflicts with obedience to the father. Minor declamation 321, a case of murder by poisoning, is based on the conflict between amicitia and fraternitas.

Santorelli goes on to investigate the rhetorical lex Liberi parentes in calamitate ne deserant in light of its possible foundation in Roman law (pp. 191-197). He points out that just like Attic law, Roman law of the time of the Empire provided for an obligation of maintenance that applied not simply to children and their parents but involved all marital relatives in ascending as well as descending lines. At the time of the Roman Republic, the obligation of maintenance was a moral matter that was not enforced by law.

On a legal basis, the obligation of maintenance entered into Roman declamation by way of Greek rhetoric. Santorelli thus agrees with Lentano1, according to whom the declamations with their fictional family laws reflect a general process of legalizing („giuridicizzazione", p. 566) unwritten norms, thus depicting the transition from mores into leges.

The chapters dedicated to the composition of the speeches (pp. 33-38; 197-202) provide a lucid overview of the declamation's conventional rhetorical structure comprising four partes orationis (exordium, narratio, argumentatio, epilogus).

Experts will take great interest in Santorelli's explanations concerning the exact drafting time of the two speeches (pp. 38-45; 202-206). The young classical philologist has just published Lennart Håkansons extensive study Der Satzrhythmus der 19 Größeren Deklamationen und des Calpurnius Flaccus 2. Data gained from this meticulous work by the early-deceased Swedish Latinist allow for the formulation of new hypotheses concerning the internal structuring and relative dating of the Maiores. Santorelli's astounding wealth of linguistic and stylistic observations supports Håkanson's view, according to which the 11th speech shows great similarities with the 4th and 5th speech of the Maiores, and must thus be dated to the last quarter of the second century AD. The author's lucid reflections on the juridical argumentation of the rhetorician (pp. 30 f.) moreover point to the beginning of the Severan era. The image of the„facies linguistica"(p. 205) that Santorelli drafts for the 16th speech comfirms Håkanson's notion that the declamation dates back to the second quarter of the second century AD and was most likely written by an author to whom none of the other Maiores can be attributed.

Santorelli's main achievement may well be his concise and knowledgeable discussion of the Latin text itself (pp. 47-69; 207-227, with a translation into Italian). Håkanson's high-quality Teubner edition will naturally have served him as a starting point; the two said speeches, however, had remained simply incomprehensible in many places and were thus hardly translatable. The author therefore frequently deviates from Håkanson's interpretation, productively integrating older commentators such as Badius Ascensius from the year 1528 (p. 80, n. 17; pp. 85 f., n. 29; p. 91, n. 41; p. 96, n. 53; pp. 98 f., n. 60; pp. 104 f., n. 76; pp. 105 f., n. 77; pp. 109 f., n. 89; p. 111, n. 92; pp. 115 f., n. 104; p. 126, n. 139; pp. 153 f., n. 218; pp. 238 f., n. 30; p. 240, n. 37; p. 252, n. 72; p. 260, n. 94; pp. 263 f., p. 103; p. 276, n. 142; p. 286, n. 174; pp. 292 f., n. 194; , pp. 294 f., nn. 204, 207; p. 301, n. 227; p. 302, n. 231; p. 303, nn. 238, 239; pp. 312 f., n. 274) and Lorenzo Patarol from 1743 (pp. 104 f., n. 76; pp. 153 f., n. 218; p. 253, n. 75; p. 271, n. 125; pp. 296 f., n. 213; p. 312, n. 273). Along with his own brilliant ideas and observations (pp. 85 f., n. 29; p. 97, n. 55; p. 100, n. 62; pp. 110 f., n. 91; p. 113, n. 98; p. 128, n. 145; pp. 142 f., n. 187; pp. 237 f., n. 27; p. 264, n. 105; p. 266, n. 108; p. 274, 134), Santorelli quite successfully integrates suggestions by contemporary luminaries of declamation theory, such as Donald A. Russell (p. 137, n. 171, Michael Winterbottom (p. 127, n. 143; p. 133 f., n. 160; p. 257, n. 87) and Antonio Stramaglia (p. 80, n. 17; p. 107, n. 83; p. 128 f., n. 147; p. 166 f., n. 255; pp. 232 f., n. 13; p. 256, n. 84; p. 266, n. 109; pp. 271 f., n. 127; p. 273, n. 132; pp. 280 f., nn. 150, 153, 156; p. 283, n. 163; p. 287, n. 176; p. 306, 253). What results is a masterpiece of textual criticism, which will be respected and indeed admired by anyone dealing in depth with this particular textual transmission.

Santorelli's text is accompanied by a translation that ⎯ in the view of a non-native speaker ⎯ is eminently readable while staying close to the Latin original.

Text and translation are followed by the commentary, which in its revision of Håkanson's Teubneriana has a clear linguistic focus. As to his line of argument, Santorelli supports the text with astounding linguistic knowledge, subtle grammatical and palaeographical explanations and often captivating evidence. The author, however, does not stop there: the commentary itself is rich, providing a text of 4475 words with no fewer than 534 endnotes. These notes, which in fact make up the largest section of the book (pp. 71-170; 229-314) offer all the information any classicist, historian or student of rhetoric could possibly be looking for about the two speeches, placing the declamation in its cultural, juridical and rhetorical contexts.

A great number of the notes concern the peculiar lexical, grammatical, rhetorical and juridical properties of the two declamations, while many of them also focus on their literary character and cultural context. In addition, Santorelli presents a range of excellent observations on tropes, figures and rhythm (p. 98, n. 59; p. 132, n. 156; p. 261, n. 97; pp. 265 f., n. 107; p. 272, n. 128; p. 301, n. 227), rightly observing that the language and style of the speeches roughly fit within the tradition of Silver Latin (p. 81, n. 19; p. 103, n. 72; p. 232, n. 12; pp. 261 f., n. 98; p. 310, n. 269). The author offers a wealth of parallels not just from declamations, but from every conceivable genre, emphasizing the texts' literary character (p. 80, n. 18; pp. 98 f., n. 60; p. 133, n. 159; pp. 142 f., n. 187; p. 157, n. 227; p. 248, n. 60; p. 261, n. 96; pp. 297 f., n. 215) and „pseudoforensic" background (p. 135, n. 165; p. 139, n. 177; p. 141, n. 184; p. 230, n. 4; p. 238, n. 28; pp. 242 f., n. 43; pp. 270 f., n. 123; p. 305, n. 250; p. 309, n. 261). In sum, all of this adds up to highlight the very essence of the declamation as being a mixtum compositum of rhetoric and literature.

The volume, a true success in every sense and thus highly recommendable, closes with a full bibliography (pp. 315-344) conveniently arranged under several headings and a list of abbreviations.


1.   M. Lentano, „Un nome più grande di qualsiasi legge. Declamazione latina e patria potestas", Bollettino di studi latini 32 (2005), pp. 558-589.
2.   In: Lennart Håkanson, Unveröffentlichte Schriften, Band 1. Studien zu den pseudoquintilianischen Declamationes maiores. Published by Biagio Santorelli, Berlin/Boston 2014, pp. 47-130.

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