Sunday, December 10, 2017


Franca Perusino, Aristofane, Lisistrata: I Canti. I canti del teatro greco, 6. Pisa; Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore, 2017. Pp. 108. ISBN 9788862278843. €28.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Mattia De Poli, Università degli Studi di Padova (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This book belongs to the series "I canti del teatro Greco" (The Songs of Greek Drama), created by Bruno Gentili, and is the first volume devoted to a comedy. It is as short as it is complicated, as Franca Perusino knows (p. 12), but it is well organised and offers a meaningful contribution to the understanding of Aristophanes' Lysistrata.

The Foreword focuses on the most important methodological principle: papyri, manuscripts and metrical scholia preserve metrical structures and cola divisions whose origins date back to the archaic and classical age. Our sources can be wrong for these aspects just as for the text, so examination and assessment are necessary, but they generally offer correct hints. This claim sounds as an answer to Laetitia Parker, who wrote that «setting out lyric in lines may force us to make choices that the poet himself may not have seen as such».1

The Introduction first deals with the transmission of the text, distinguishing papyri and manuscripts (the full text is only in Ravennas 429, which is also the oldest manuscript of Lysistrata dating back to the 10th century) from the indirect tradition, i.e. lexica (Suda, Photius, Zonaras). Although there is not a real stemma codicum, Perusino traces the relationship among the seven principal manuscripts, and adds that two 15th-century manuscripts have some scholia to the text, but no metrical scholia have been preserved. She then describes how the analysis of the lyric parts is organised in the rest of the book: 1) the text is followed by a positive critical apparatus, limited to the main variae lectiones and corrections that are somehow relevant for metrics; 2) the prosodic scansion and metrical analysis are followed by an essential colometric apparatus that is the most original contribution of this book; 3) finally there are comments on selected matters of text, prosody, metrics and colometry. In fact, each critical apparatus is also preceded by an apparatus fontium (only in the strophe for strophic pairs). Finally, Perusino identifies the singers of this play: two semichoruses, which sing together only from line 1043, and a Spartan soloist.

Papyri and manuscripts (with their abbreviations) are listed again in a section ('Sigla') that collects both the usual sigla codicum and some metrical symbols, such as verse-end or strophe-end, hiatus, and acephalous, catalectic or brachycatalectic metron. Abbreviations for the names of metra, cola or verses are in a separate list.

In 'Metrical Structure of Lysistrata' Perusino shows the metrical composition of each part of the text in spoken or recitative lines, with the exception of the songs that are the book's main focus in the following pages.

Songs are grouped according to the general structure of the comedy (parodos, agon, parabasis, lyric intermezzo, song of the united chorus, exodos), with a short paragraph explaining the context of each. Each song is then presented and analysed as explained in the Introduction. Some lines at the beginnings of songs (marked by Perusino as katakeleusmos or kommation) are not considered here, but one can find their analysis under 'Metrical structure'.2

Perusino offers a text of the songs of Lysistrata that differs from the principal modern editions3 at several points. She accepts words attested by the manuscripts (above all in Ravennas 429) more frequently than any other editor, or is the only one who adopts emendations suggested by previous scholars, such as Hermann (264), Ellebodius (644–5), Bentley (808–9), Wilamowitz (1257), Reisig (1258–9), van Leeuwen (1270–1), Chrestien (1281), Burges (1282–3), Enger (1307). At 541 Perusino marks a lacuna with no emendation suggested (her only personal choice).

The author indents lines whenever synapheia between two cola is made evident by a split word (e.g. 273) or elision (e.g. 275), i.e. verbal synapheia, or even by proclisis (e.g. 256) or enclisis (e.g. 323), i.e. syntactic synapheia, but she treats the so-called prosodic synapheia differently (e.g. 481 = 546, 482/3 = 547/8, 621 = 643, 665, 690, 1279, 1289), avoiding indentation.4 Brevis in longo is limited to adiaphoria in thesis,5 so Perusino marks verse-end at 291 = 301 or at 661 = 685 (catalectic trochaic tetrameter) but not at 1303 (catalectic iambic dimeter).6

In the prosodic scansion, as is usual, Perusino notes the quantity of a syllable in the antistrophe above that of the corresponding syllable in the strophe, when they are different; so in strophic songs when we find a short symbol (˘) above a long one (¯) before verse-end (||) or strophe end (|||), this does not indicate a shared brevis in longo but a short syllable in the antistrophe corresponding to a long syllable in the strophe.7 Similarly, when a long syllable in the antistrophe corresponds with a short syllable in the strophe, Perusino marks a long over a short, e.g. at 291 = 301, 671 = 695. At verse-end she scans as short (i.e. brevis in longo) a syllable with short vowel plus consonant whenever the first word in the following line begins with a vowel. This scansion is usually offered also at strophe-end as well.

Colometry is generally derived from the manuscripts, whose cola division seems to be incorrect mostly when a split word is required (e.g. 273–4, 335–6, 347–8, 781–2 = 805–6, 785–6 = 808–9). Perusino, however, considers 476/7 = 541/2 as a single line, a tetrameter (ia 3cr) very similar to that in the following line (478 = 543 [4cr]), although both a papyrus and the manuscripts divide it into two dimeters (476 = 541 [ia cr], 477 = 542 [2cr]). At 616–7 = 638–9 she prefers repeating the same trimeter (ia 2cr) twice rather than a tetrameter (ia 2cr ia) followed by a dimeter (2cr), as attested in the manuscripts, despite the series of four cretic dimeters at 619–22. Sometimes there is a difference in cola division between strophe and antistrophe, so the author approves the division attested by manuscripts at 1051–4 = 1066–8 (either with reiz lecyth or with a single 3ia at the end) and changes it at 1198–9 and 1211–2, although a metrical analysis of the transmitted colometry is possible for those lines if we omit strophic responsion. Nevertheless, at 659–60 πολλή; κἀπιδώσειν μοι δοκεῖ | codd. τὸ χρῆμα μᾶλλον = 683–4 λύσω τὴν ἐμαυτῆς ὗν ἐγὼ δή, |R καὶ |cett. ποιήσω Perusino does not follow the manuscripts either in the strophe or in the antistrophe and changes the sequence ith cr (or sp lecyth) and reiz (or ia penth)—if we accept the division of the strophe—into ith (sp tr) and 2tr, which looks like ith tr (sp 2tr) at 658 = 682.8 So also internal similarities are an important criterion for the author in modifying the transmitted colometry. Moreover, Perusino avoids every spondee singled out by manuscripts (e.g. 1266), even if we find it both in the strophe and in the antistrophe (e.g. at 667 = 691, 784 = 808, 793 = 816), but this choice implies that the same sequence sp lecyth reiz (or ia penth) that we could find at 659–60 = 683–4 is modified again at 667–9 = 691–3.9

Finally, the Bibliography is preceded by a prosodic and metrical index (p. 93), that sums up all the instances of shortening in hiatus (5 cases, but at least 4 of them are uncertain),10 lengthening of a short vowel followed by muta cum liquida (one certain and one suspected case), synizesis (two certain and two suspected cases), free responsion (nine cases). Perusino also points out two lines (345 and 791) that do not have a corresponding line in the strophic pair. Almost all of these prosodic and metrical peculiarities are adequately examined in the commentary.

The book has a lot of good qualities. It provides a complete overview of the comedy: Perusino briefly investigates also the division of some lines (386, 605–7, 971–2, 1295) that she analyses only in the 'Metrical Structure of Lysistrata' (pp. 23–27, notes 3, 4, 6, 10). The author is very attentive to metrical peculiarities, their connection with the text, their effect on hearers and their musical implications. Sometimes the comic text is compared to other comic, tragic or lyric texts. This is particularly evident in the commentary on the two monodies (1247–72 and 1296–1321), which are compared with Alcman's fragments (pp. 78–9, 89).

Perusino's prosodic and metrical analysis is very careful, but I think that some remarks are necessary.

1) Before strophe-end at 483 = 548, 796 = 819/20, the last syllable should be scanned simply as short:11 the double sign (short over long) is misleading (cf. 478 = 543) and incoherent. In astrophic songs before strophe-end at 1272 or before verse-end at 1064, 1258/9, 1262, 1280, 1281, 1282, 1288, 1290 a simple short could be enough. Surprisingly at 1301, 1306 and 1321b in another astrophic song Perusino uses the inverted double sign (long over short) to scan a brevis in longo, instead of a simple short.

2) Again a mistake in noting brevis in longo and a misleading description of strophic responsion at 664 = 688: focusing on the second cretic metron, there is a proceleusmatic with final brevis in longo in the strophe corresponding with a paeon I in the antistrophe, so prosodic scansion should be: one long over two shorts, one short, two shorts over one short. Description at p. 58 is unclear.

3) I would analyse 1263 μόλε δεῦρο, παρσένε σιά as ia cr (or ia paeon IV) rather than a catalectic iambic dimeter.

4) Accepting the colometry of the manuscripts at 1268–1269, there no reason to emend the transmitted text at 1268 ταῖς συνθήκαις (fere codd.) or ταῖσιν συνθήκαις (R) into ταῖσι συνθήκαισι (Hermann): it can be interpreted as an anapaestic metron of four longs or, as I would prefer, a reizianum of five longs (i.e. anapaestic penthemimer). Perusino's justification (p. 82) insists on a spondaic analysis instead of considering the anapaestic.

5) At 1271–2 the transmitted text δεῦρ' ἴθι, δεῦρ', ὦ | κυναγὲ παρσένε could be accepted (adon pros: cf. 1292). But even if one takes Bergk's emendation moving ὦ at the beginning of 1272 (ὦ κυναγὲ παρσένε = lec), there no reason to avoid elision at the end of 1271 (δεῦρ' ἴθι, δεῦρ' = cho) writing δεῦρ' ἴθι, δεῦρο (adon).

Table of Contents

p. 11 Avvertenza
p. 13 Introduzione
p. 19 Sigla
p. 21 Abbreviazioni metriche
p. 22 Struttura metrica della Lisistrata
p. 29 Parodo
p. 43 Agone
p. 49 Parabasi
p. 59 Intermezzo lirico
p. 65 Canti del coro riunito
p. 75 Esodo
p. 93 Indice prosodico e metrico
p. 95 Bibliografia


1.   L. Parker, The Songs of Aristophanes (Oxford, 1997), 375.
2.   See e.g. 319–20, 614–5 = 636–7. Perusino's choice differs from both Parker 1997 and B. Zimmermann, Untersuchungen zur Form und dramatischen Technik der Aristophanischen Komödien, III: Metrische Analysen (Frankfurt am Main, 1987).
3.   A. H. Sommerstein, Aristophanes: Lysistrata, (Warminster, 1990); J. Henderson, Aristophanes: Birds, Lysistrata, Women at the Thesmophoria (Cambridge MA; London, 2000); N. G. Wilson, Aristophanis fabulae (Oxford, 2007), all in Perusino's biblography. There is no reference to G. Mastromarco, P. Totaro, Commedie di Aristofane, II (Torino, 2006).
4.   At 279 and 1249 Perusino scans the last syllable as short, prosodic synapheia being supposed, but that is uncertain because in a trochaic metron the last element is indifferens. On synapheia see B. Gentili, L. Lomiento, Metrics and Rhythmics. History of Poetic Forms in Ancient Greece (Pisa; Rome, 2008), 74.
5.   On brevis in longo see Gentili–Lomiento 2008, 57.
6.   On colon and verse end see p. 20, note 1.
7.   At 624 = 646 there is no reason to mark a verse-end after a full trochaic dimeter.
8.   On ithyphallics with initial spondee see C. Prato, I canti di Aristofane: analisi, commento, scoli metrici (Rome, 1962), 225, and Gentili–Lomiento 2008, 139. In 684 we may scan ποιήσω as ˘¯¯ with shortening in hiatus.
9.   Perusino intentionally avoids reiziana (i.e. iambic penthemimers) attested by manuscripts at 660, 669 = 693, preferring a more uniform trochaic rhythm: see p. 58.
10.   The instance at 1291 seems the most probable.
11.   See Prato 1962, 221, and Parker 1997, 370.

No comments:

Post a Comment