Monday, October 15, 2018


Sarah Nooter, The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. x, 307. ISBN 9781107145511. £75.00.

Reviewed by Naomi Weiss, Harvard University (

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On the cover of Sarah Nooter's excellent book is a visual representation of her voice uttering Cassandra's first sounds in Agamemnon. The transformation of her own voice into a physical object—jagged black sound waves painted on grainy wood —cleverly communicates her central concern with the materiality of the voice in Aeschylus' tragedies. In this her book makes a valuable addition to the growing body of scholarship on voice and sound in Greek and Roman literature and culture,1 and to the recent turn toward materiality and affect, especially in relation to fifth-century tragedy.2

In contrast with her previous work, Nooter investigates voice here primarily as nonverbal sound emitted from the body. The cover provides a particularly famous example—Cassandra's cries of otototototoi popoi da; as Nooter demonstrates, Aeschylus frequently uses such inarticulate expressions, along with rhythm, repetition, assonance, and alliteration, to render his famously difficult language as more sound than sense. At the same time, descriptions of sound draw our attention to the voice and its affective impact. Sometimes embodied sound can underscore verbal content, as in the kommos of Choephori, when imagery, language, and sonic effects together produce and emphasize the conjoining of voices, and in doing so push Orestes toward taking vengeance. Sometimes there can be a disconnect between sound and sense, such as when the euphonic effect of multiple near-rhymes in the Watchman's opening speech in Agamemnon undercuts his language of disruption. Voice can thus be deceptive, but it can also reveal truth, as the chorus of this tragedy suggest when they sing of the opposition between their internal voice's correct intuition (the heart that "roars") and their attempts to communicate through language (Ag. 1028–34).

Nooter examines the mortal voice against the divine and the bestial: she conceives of a "mortality spectrum" (85), with human voice situated between the disembodied sounds of gods and the all-body, nonverbal noise of animals. "Mortal" further conveys the fragility of voice, a quality that the cover perhaps also suggests, both with the cracks in the wood and with the single horizontal lines between the eruptions of sound, denoting the absence of voice against its emphatic presence. For voice can dissolve not only into animal sound but into silence, for which Aeschylus was of course famous. This theme—the silencing and replacement of voice—recurs throughout Nooter's three chapters on the Oresteia: she convincingly argues that the chorus' encounter with Cassandra in Agamemnon, for example, marks the start of their loss of voice, coinciding with their loss of freedom; in Eumenides Athena replaces the Erinyes' bestial cries with her own logos, and then with a new human chorus at the end.

The core of this book consists in close readings of the Oresteia. Nooter prepares the groundwork for these with two chapters that reference a more wide-ranging selection of texts in order to demonstrate, first, how the voice was conceptualized in archaic and classical Greek literature and, second, how Aeschylus exploits the potentialities of voice in his earlier tragedies and was recognized for doing so by his fifth-century audiences. Much of Chapter One is focused on showing how frequently extreme, nonverbal vocality was associated with animals, babies, and states of pain and/or desperation; eruptions of sound over sense repeatedly reveal "an ongoing state of vulnerability that is intrinsic to mortality itself" (48). While she includes some discussion here of fifth-century drama (including satyr play), Nooter turns fully to Aristophanes and Aeschylus in Chapter Two. She frames this long chapter with a discussion of the tragedian's characterization in Frogs, demonstrating how both Aeschylus himself and his songs are described and parodied in terms of bodily affect, especially loud noise; meanwhile the character's own increasingly virtuoso vocal performance shapes the comedy's plot. Nooter explains this portrayal by revealing the workings of voice in Persians, Seven Against Thebes, Suppliants, Prometheus Bound (which she includes as at least "Aeschylean"), and a few fragments. Her rich readings highlight themes that she develops more fully in her chapters on the Oresteia: inarticulate utterances as manifestations of humans reduced to animals or children; the affective impact of choral voices on the audience as well as on characters within a play; Aeschylus' tendency to grant voice to inanimate things; the efficacy of voice in driving a plot. Though the organization of the chapter is slightly disorienting, with discussions of each play split across multiple sections and subsections, the categorization is important in clarifying Nooter's project, with its focus on both the nonverbal effects of Aeschylus' verse ("Voice Performed") and voice as an object that is discussed and thematized ("Voice Described").

The discussion of Agamemnon, Choephori, and Eumenides in the following three chapters provides a more coherent and entirely original understanding of voice within the narrative arc of each play. Nooter's exploration here of voice as a motif, metaphor, and mode of performance makes a major contribution to longstanding debates about the identity, authority, and role of the chorus within this trilogy and Greek drama more broadly. Chapter Three first focuses on three moments of uncomfortable dissonance in Agamemnon: the sonic paradoxes in the Watchman's opening speech, Clytemnestra's soundscape of Troy, and Cassandra's prediction of the "harmonious but not euphonic" chorus of Erinyes (Ag. 1187). The second part of the chapter examines the chorus' frequent ventriloquy—their embedding of other voices within their songs. Nooter emphasizes the distance between the chorus' own intentions and the voices that they assume and embody, from Calchas' prophecy in the parodos to the revelation of truth through sound in the second stasimon. This disconnect marks the gradual diminishment of their authority, until they become entirely ineffective, replaced instead by Clytemnestra, who utters the last words of the play.

In Chapter Four Nooter argues for the reconstitution of the choral voice in Choephori. She reveals the repeated emphasis on both hearing voice and its materiality, in its association with liquids and the earth and in its increasing agency in driving the plot of the play. Metaphor, performance, and action are closely linked: so, for example, Clytemnestra's scream, the result of a dream in which her serpent-baby draws a mix of blood and milk, first brings the chorus on stage and later motivates Orestes; in the last third of the play, the chorus' sonic echoes of the final scenes of Agamemnon seem to put the next set of murders into motion. When Orestes reappears at the end, he begins to hear the chorus too well, as their words materialize in his mind as visions that drive him mad.

Chapter Five tracks the progression from the chorus' extraordinary moans near the start of Eumenides to "the final acts of control, regulation, and assimilation of voice" by its end (246). In this play the corporeal aspect of voice is especially striking, beginning with the priestess' ecphrasis of the chorus in the opening scene, when she highlights the grotesque sounds and liquids their bodies produce. These have an impact on others' bodies in turn, both the priestess' and our own; as Nooter points out regarding the famous anecdote in Aeschylus' Life about women miscarrying when they saw the chorus of Eumenides first enter, "one can hardly imagine a more evocative way to display the embodied physicality (and liquidity) of one group of females…on another" (256). But Athena defuses this threat by bringing in a new soundscape, first signalled by the trumpet as a prothesis for a new form of human voice; as the chorus' language dissolves into inarticulate cries, Athena replaces it with Peitho and logos; the Erinyes' transformation into Semnai Theai is then marked by the resonating chant of chaire. The trilogy ends with entirely new sounds—a new collective of mortal voices and a direction to the audience to use their own voices correctly.

This is an exciting book and should leave any reader more sharply attuned to the aural dimension of Aeschylean tragedy. Throughout Nooter achieves an impressive balance of rigorous philology and more theoretically informed arguments about what voice achieves in each play. Among the wide array of literature she draws upon, I was surprised to find little reference to debates outside Classics on poetry of/as sound,3 to New Materialism's focus on the agency of objects,4 or to seminal work within Sound Studies, such as Bruce R. Smith on the role of performed and described sound in theater,5 Michel Chion on sound's relationship to visual narrative in film,6 or Stephen Handel on different registers of auditory perception.7 Yet the inclusion of all such possible intersections could risk a more sprawling argument, when one of the strengths of this book is its tight focus—in its concern not so much with sound more generally conceived but with the embodied voice.

Occasionally I wished for Nooter to talk about voice's corporeality not just in terms of vocal sounds but in connection with the dancing bodies of the chorus and actors that produce them. This is not to say that she ignores this aspect of performance—in her discussion of the Binding Song in Eumenides, for example, she shows how the Erinyes' description of their bodies' movements makes the threat they pose more immediate. But there did seem to be some missed opportunities to elaborate on the materialization of voice through the performer's body. She argues, for example, that the portrayal of Io in Prometheus Bound depends in large part upon descriptions of her voice and her own sounds, as "[h]er wild grief, her grotesque metamorphosis, and her feminine vulnerability become tangled into one mess of vocality" (63). But both Prometheus and Io herself mix references to her vocal wildness with an emphasis on disturbing kinetics: she wanders, leaps, kicks, and whirls.8 I think Nooter is generally wise to avoid much speculation regarding any sort of original performance, but we do not need to reconstruct an ancient actor's moves here to appreciate that an audience could be encouraged at least to imagine them through the body present on stage.

The book is well produced and free of any egregious errors. Given that it covers quite a wide range of archaic and classical poetry in addition to the surviving plays of Aeschylus, an Index Locorum would have been helpful. In her concluding two paragraphs Nooter replaces her own voice on the page with a line of Louis Zukofsky's poetry ("Heart us invisibly thyme time"), which, along with the cover image, provides another way for us to understand her project, opening up questions of sound and sense, hearing and embodiment. But she need not justify this poetic ending on account of any "awkward" academic prose (288), for throughout her writing has its own fine, sonic quality, its own rhythms, wordplay, and echoes, which lead the reader to hear Aeschylus' verse anew.


1.   Esp. M. Bettini, Voci: Antropologia sonora del mondo antico (Turin, 2008); S. Butler, The Ancient Phonograph (New York, 2015); S. Gurd, Dissonance: Auditory Aesthetics in Ancient Greece (New York, 2016); S. Butler and S. Nooter (eds.), Sound and the Ancient Senses (London and New York, forthcoming).
2.   See J. Porter, The Origins of Aesthetic Thought in Ancient Greece: Matter, Sensation, and Experience (Cambridge, 2010); M. Mueller, Objects as Actors: Props and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy (Chicago, 2016); M. Mueller and M. Telò (eds.), The Materialities of Greek Tragedy: Objects and Affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (London, 2018).
3.   E.g. M. Perloff and C. Dworkin (eds.), The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound (Chicago, 2009).
4.   Esp. J. Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC, 2010).
5.   B. R. Smith, The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor (Chicago, 1999).
6.   M. Chion, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (New York, 1994).
7.   S. Handel, Listening: An Introduction to the Perception of Auditory Events (Cambridge, MA, 1989).
8.   On Io as a solo dancer, see S. Olsen, The Unruly Body: Dance, Literature, and Culture in Ancient Greece, ch. 2 (forthcoming).

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Anna Panayotou, Giovanbattista Galdi (ed.), Ἑλληνικὲς διάλεκτοι στὸν ἀρχαῖο κόσμο: Actes du VIe colloque international sur les dialectes grecs anciens (Nicosie, université de Chypre, 26-29 septembre 2011). Bibliothèque des cahiers de l'Institut de linguistique de Louvain (BCILL), 137. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2017. Pp. xxvi, 391. ISBN 9789042931930. €87.00.

Reviewed by M. J. C. Scarborough, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

The volume under review consists of the published proceedings of the sixth international conference on Greek dialectology, held in Nicosia on the 26th to 29th of September 2011. These international conferences on Ancient Greek dialectology have been regularly held every five years since the inaugural conference organised by Claude Brixhe in 1987. The previous conferences in this series have also been published with proceedings and have been important venues for dissemination of research in Ancient Greek dialect studies. The present volume continues this tradition and contains the majority of papers given at the conference, consisting of twenty contributions on a wide variety of topics pertaining to the linguistic study of the Ancient Greek dialects. The contributions are primarily in French and English, but also with two contributions in Spanish and one in Italian. In addition to being a proceedings volume, the book has also been conceived as a memorial volume to the late Professor António López Eire. A full list of authors and titles is given at the end of the review.

The volume begins with a foreword by the editors (pp.vii-viii, in Modern Greek and French) and a quite large amount of conference ephemera containing also the opening address of the vice-rector of academic affairs of the University of Cyprus, and the opening greeting on behalf of the organisational committee (in both Modern Greek and French). There is also a complete programme (in Greek, French, German, and Italian) of the conference with the schedules, the titles of papers and presenters, the chairs of sessions, times and places of receptions and excursions. From this we can also see that a few papers did not make it into the proceedings. Some of these appear to have been published elsewhere, while others, as far as I have been able to determine, remain unpublished.1

The main contributions of the volume are organised into a basic structure of introductory material – including an historical overview of the five previous conferences on Ancient Greek dialectology 1986–2011 (Panayotou & Galdi) and an appreciation of the work on Ancient Greek dialectology by the dedicatee António López Eire (Lillo) – followed by papers dealing with the evidence of new documents and perspectives on the dialects, papers on the Achaean (i.e. Arcadian, Cypriot, and Pamphylian) dialects, Doric (West Greek) dialects, Ionian dialects, Aeolian dialects, and a final section of papers dealing with pan-dialectal matters. The contents of the volume are consequently heavily focused on the epichoric dialects attested through the epigraphic record. Only a single paper (Méndez Dosuna) specifically deals with dialect or the representation of dialect in literature. Finally, the editors of the volume are to be commended in creating very useful and extensive indices of cited inscriptions, Greek forms, ancient and Byzantine authors, place names, and a thematic index for all papers across the entire volume (pp.325-387).

Due to the space constraints of this review I cannot go over every one of the twenty contributions in detail, but I will discuss a few notable papers and end with some general remarks on the volume as a whole.

García-Ramón "La desinencia tesalia de 3pl. -(ι)εν: préterito y optativo" revisits the problematic question of the origin of the unusual Thessalian 3rd plural indicative imperfect and aorist verbal ending -(ι)εν. García-Ramón follows the hypothesis, first suggested by Morpurgo Davies, that the ending spread from the paradigm of the optative.2 In an attempt to adduce further support for the optative hypothesis, García-Ramón draws attention to cases where Thessalian uses 'oblique imperfects' where other dialects use optatives, providing an additional factor which could have encouraged the endings to merge for morphosyntactic reasons.3 García-Ramón further suggests (pp. 243-244) that the transfer of endings could have been influenced by the fact that the imperfect and optative of ἐμμί 'to be' were presumably identical. He does correctly point out that imperfect ειεν etymologically reflects *é-h₁s-ent while optative ειεν reflects * hs-i̯h-ént, but these forms would only be homophonous following the monophthongisation of *ei̯ to *ē, i.e. imperfect ē-en via the contraction of *e-e-en but optative ē-en via monophthongisation *ei̯-en. If so, this argument only holds for the spread of the variant - εν and the source of the variant -ιεν must be found elsewhere.4

Alonso Déniz "Some like it short? On <ευ> and <ηυ> for <εω> in Doric" is an excellent paper focusing on two separate but related problems concerning occasional anomalous spellings of diphthongs of <ευ> and <ηυ> for expected <εω> in Rhodian and in the oracular tablets from Dodona. He persuasively argues in both cases, with an impressive attention to detail of the primary evidence and the secondary literature, that the spellings cannot be motivated on phonological grounds, and therefore a morphological solution must instead be found. The only form that cannot be easily explained under the assumption of a morphological analogy is the form χρῆυνται in the oracular tablets at Dodona.5 In order to account for it, Alonso Déniz proposes that a Doric dialect with χρεῦνται could possibly have created χρῆυνται by analogy with the thematic subjunctive, i.e. φέρονται : φέρωνται :: χρεῦνται : X = χρῆυνται, although he wisely suggests, in lieu of any parallels to such an analogy and considering that oracular lamellae and defixiones frequently exhibit careless spellings, that the form perhaps should be emended to χρη<ω>νται in this case until new evidence comes to light to confirm this conjecture.6

Barrio Vega "Some Problematic Forms from Byzantion" investigates some unexpected forms in the inscriptions of Byzantium which cannot be easily attributed to the colonial variety of Megarian Doric, neighbouring Ionic varieties, or the koiné. The main features include the presence of the modal particle κε (Doric κα), sigmatic aorists with geminate - σσ- (e.g. ἐδίκασσε), and s-stem genitives of the type Μενεκράτη. Through analysis of the distribution of these features among the Greek dialects and adducing historical parallels, Barrio Vega convincingly argues that the presence of these forms in Byzantium points to the existence of a community of speakers of Asiatic Aeolic in the colony's population. This study is an excellent demonstration of how close linguistic analysis of Greek dialectal inscriptions can make concrete contributions to historical reconstructions and underscores the complexity of dialect interactions that are all too often not apparent from the epigraphic record.

Bartoněk "The Degree of Recognizing Immediately a Concrete Ancient Greek Dialect in the Speech of Native Speakers" considers the relative likelihood of any speaker of Attic Greek instantly recognising the regional dialect of any other Greek speaker. In order to do this he compares the distinctive isoglosses of other major dialect subgroupings or dialect continua (Ionic, 'Mild' Doric and South Aegean Doric, 'Strict' Doric, Aeolic dialects, Arcadian and Cypriot dialects) with those of Attic, and from this makes a subjective assessment of which features are more marked in comparison to Attic in order to judge whether the average speaker of Attic would be able to recognise a given dialect of Ancient Greek. While it might be possible to consider which dialects appear to be the most distinctive from each other in this way based on diagnostic isoglosses, I am unconvinced that this approach alone necessarily can be used as a reliable guide for judging whether an average speaker of Attic would be able to instantly recognise another regional dialect. While individual marked linguistic differences between dialects certainly play a role in causing a given dialect to be perceived as distinctive by a given speaker, for a naïve (i.e. non-linguistically trained) individual speaker to perceive a regional dialect as distinctive much also depends on individual speakers' awareness and competency in other varieties, whether through exposure or the geographic mobility of a given speaker. Without a more nuanced sociolinguistic framework or comparison with research on dialect perception in modern languages or both, I would consider the conclusions reached by this paper as somewhat speculative.7

While I may have been critical here regarding some of the papers in this volume, that should not detract from the quality of the whole as the scholarship within is generally of a high standard and fine tribute to the memory of the dedicatee. It can profitably be read by scholars interested in Ancient Greek linguistics and the interpretation of dialectal epigraphy. With a price of €87.00, this volume is unlikely to be a casual purchase for the non-specialist, but it should be acquired by all reference libraries that serve communities of researchers in Ancient Greek language, epigraphy, and historical linguistics.

Table of Contents

Dédicace à António López Eire. V
Photo des participants au colloque. vi
Πρόλογος των ἐκδοτών. vii
Avant-propos des éditeurs. viii
Adresse du Vice-recteur des Affaires Académiques, Prof. Athanasios Gagatsis. ix
Χαιρετισμός της Καθηγ. Ἀννας Παναγιώτου εκ μέρους της Οργανωτικής Επιτρομής. xi
Adresse de la Prof. Anna Panayotou de la part du Comité d'Organisation. xv
Πρόγραμμα – Programme. xvii
Références bibliographiques communes. xxiii

Introduction 1

Anna Panayotou – Giovanbattista Galdi, I colloqui internazionali di dialettologia greca antica, 1986-2011. 3
Antonio Lillo, López Eire and Greek Dialectology: an analysis of his work and influence for the publication of the Opuscula Selecta. 11

Documents nouveau – Perspectives sur les dialectes. 27
Yannis Tzifopoulos, Mattaios Bessos, Antonis Kotsonas, Panhellenes at Methone, Pieria (ca. 700 BCE): New inscriptions, graffiti/dipinti and trademarks. 29
Antonín Bartoněk, The degree of recognizing immediately a concrete Ancient Greek dialect in the speech of native speakers. 45

Le monde achene 55
Yves Duhoux, L'emploi des particules en chypriote et ailleurs. 57
Anna Panayotou, Les parlers locaux chypriotes de l'époque archaïque à la fin du IVe s. a.C. 71
Michael Meier-Brügger, La Pamphylie et le pamphylien. 95
Panagiotis Filos, Dialect evidence for Koine Greek: Pamphylian -ιιυς (→ -ις) vs. Koine -ιος (→ -ις) revisited. 103

Le monde dorien 115
Alcorac Alonso Déniz, Some like it short? On <ευ> and <ηυ> for <εω> in Doric. 117
Araceli Striano, A propósito de las formas χρηῦνται y ἐποικοδομηῦν (= χρέωνται y ἐποικοδομέων) precedentes de las liminillas de Dodona. 143
Catherine Dobias-Lalou, Sur quelques correspondances lexicales entre Cyrène, Rhodes, et Cos. 157
Enrique Nieto Izquierdo, Again on the original vocalism of the dialect of Hermione. 173
Sophie Minon, Le phratronyme argien Ἀμφιαρητείδας: un dérivé du héronyme local Ἀμφιάρηος? 187
Militiade Hatzopoulos, Un nouveau terme juridique macédonien. 203

Le monde ionien. 211
Laurent Dubois, Autour du sampi. 213

Le monde éolien. 231
José Luis García Ramón, La desinencia tesalia de 3pl. -(ι)εν: préterito y optativo. 233
Bruno Helly, Deux notes lexicographiques sur des inscriptions thessaliennes inédites. 247
Julián Méndez Dosuna, Aristophanes, Acharnians 869: What on earth befell the Theban merchant and his pennyroyal flowers? 271
María Luisa del Barrio Vega, Some problematic forms from Byzantion. 291

Développements interdialectaux. 305
Elena Martín González, Movable nu in Archaic Greek epigraphic prose. 307

Liste des auteurs. 323
Indices. 325
I. Texts épigraphiques. 327
a. Inscriptions en lineaire B. 327
b. Inscriptions en syllabaires chypriotes. 327
c. Inscriptions alphabétiques. 329
II. Formes grecques. 339
a. Index syllabique mycénien. 339
b. Index syllabique chypriote. 339
c. Index alphabétique. 340
III. Auteurs anciens et byzantins. 363
IV. Noms de lieux. 367
V. Dialectes et koiné, alphabets et syllabaires locaux. 373
VI. Index analytique des principals matières discutées. 383

Table des matières. 389


1.   For instance, Carlo Vessella's paper "Boeotian accentuation and the ancient editions of Boeotian lyric poetry" in the third conference session (p. xix) appears to have been published in Mnemosyne 69 (2016) 742-759.
2.   Cf. A. Morpurgo Davies "A Note on Thessalian" Glotta 43 (1965) 235-251.
3.   It is worth observing that since this paper was originally given J. Méndez Dosuna has recently argued that this is less convincing on the basis that the construction of the oblique imperfect is not a construction exclusive to Thessalian, and that oblique optative constructions are not so easily interchangeable. Additionally Méndez Dosuna points out that the oblique imperfect is not exclusive to Thessalian and the oblique optative construction is apparently not attested in Thessalian. This latter point, as Méndez Dosuna himself however admits, is less cogent since this could well be due to the scarcity of longer Thessalian dialect inscriptions with narrative content where one might expect to find such constructions. Cf. J. Méndez Dosuna "Thessalian Secondary 3pl. -(ι)εν and the Optative: Dangerous Liasons" In: Studies in Ancient Greek Dialects: From Central Greece to the Black Sea, ed. by G. Giannakis, K., E. Crespo & P. Filos. (Berlin 2018, pp. 398-401).
4.   It is difficult to determine with certainty when the monophthongisation *ei̯ > * occurred due to the use of <E> to spell both primary and secondary front mid-long vowels in archaic alphabet inscriptions, but the sound change appears to have taken place at least by the 4th century, cf. M. Scarborough "On the Phonology and Orthography of the Thessalian Mid-Long Vowels" In: G. Kotzoglou et al. eds. 11th International Conference on Greek Linguistics (Rhodes, 26-29 September 2013): Selected Papers / Πρακτικά (Rhodes 2014, pp. 1535-1548). In any case, the creation of both variants the -(ι)εν ending must have been fairly early, as both variants are attested in archaic alphabet script texts already by ca. 500 BCE, e.g. -ιεν in SEG 23:416.1-2 [ἐ]δο̄́[κ]αιεν (Pherai); -εν in SEG 27:183.2 ὀνεθε̄́κ<α>εν (Atrax).
5.   Cf. É. Lhôte, Les lamelles oraculaires de Dodone. (Geneva 2006), No. 144.
6.   Elsewhere in this same volume A. Striano attempts to explain this same form via a phonological solution.
7.   For discussion of these factors and an example of research in this area on contemporary languages, cf. Clopper & Pisoni "Free classification of regional dialects of American English" Journal of Phonetics 35 (2006) pp. 421-424, containing a study of monolingual American English speakers' perception of variation in American English dialects tested in a laboratory experimental context.

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Yannick Durbec, Μουσέων εἵνεκα. Les épigrammes de Posidippe (P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309). Classical and Byzantine monographs, 82. Amsterdam: Hakkert, 2014. Pp. 90. ISBN 9789025612979. €14,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Walter Lapini, Università di Genova (

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Il libro contiene il testo greco e la traduzione francese degli epigrammi di Posidippo di Pella restituiti dal P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309. È una traduzione line-by-line, molto garbata e ben fatta. Posidippo non è un poeta particolarmente oscuro o concettoso, ma usa espressioni rare, strane, e non è facile prendergli le misure. Yannick Durbec ci è riuscito con indiscutibile bravura, adottando un linguaggio versatile, sciolto, sobrio ed elegante, in certi punti più bello da leggersi dell'originale stesso, e non privo di consapevoli intenti d'arte (cf. e.g. p. 11 n. 49). È anche una traduzione onesta, nel senso che non prevarica, né pretende di capire a tutti i costi anche quei punti in cui capire è impossibile. Va inoltre a merito di Durbec il non aver circoscritto il suo lavoro alle sole parti dotate di senso compiuto. Sequenze come «je repose sur [...] ni [...] étranger, auprès [...] accueille» (ep. 108) oppure «comment [...] silence [...] [...] froid» (ep. 109) potranno sconcertare il lettore non specialista, ma riflettono la realtà della tradizione e non possono essere ignorate.

Occorre dire tuttavia che questa traduzione non sempre convince. Non convincono 98.3 ἐπ' ὀνείρωι «à la suite d'un songe»; 19.5 προ[τὶ τ]ἄ[σ]τεα «devant la ville» (cf. Austin p. 41 «the cities»); 29.4 Σιδήνηι (...) ἐν Αἰολίδι «vers Sidène en Éolie»; 84.4 θειότεραι «les plus divins» (cf. Austin p. 109 «far more divine», comparativo); 74.7-8 ἀ]κεραίων | ἐ[κ σ]τηθέων «sans être le moins du monde troublée» (il concetto che deve emergere è la purezza, la ἁπλότης della cavalla, non la tranquillità). Diversi nomi propri vengono resi in modo discutibile: 97.1 Κῶιος «le Céen»; 45.1 ἡ Μαραθη[νή «la marathonienne»; 60.1 Μνησίστρατ[ος «Mnésistratès»; 54.2 Μυρτίδα «Myrtus»; 50.3 Ὑμέναιος «Hyméné»; 63.1 Ἑκ[α]ταῖος «Hécaté» (= 45 n. 221 e n. 227). In 50.5 è omesso κεινῶν (da κεινός = κενός), in 95.3 è omesso δεινά. A volte viene tradotto un testo greco differente da quello effettivamente stampato: cf. 52.5 ἀλλὰ σὺ γῆρας ἱκοῦ, κούρη· παρὰ σήματι τούτωι (...) μέτρει «mais puisses-tu atteindre la vieillesse! La jeune fille auprès du tombeau (...) mesurera» (che presuppone semmai ἀλλὰ σὺ γῆρας ἱκοῦ· κούρη παρὰ σήματι τούτωι (...) μετρεῖ). La cosa si ripete in 93.2, in cui Durbec segue la mia punteggiatura, ma stampa quella dell'editio princeps. In 21.1 il testo adottato è πλέον' ἰνί ma la versione francese «plein de force» corrisponde al tràdito πλέον ἰνί (= πλέων ἰνί) oppure alla correzione πλέος ἰνί (= πλέως ἰνί) della princeps. Poiché la n. 77 a p. 17 rivela consapevolezza che la lezione effettivamente tradotta è πλέον' ἰνί, se ne deve dedurre che un πλέων comparativo (da πολύς) è stato confuso con πλέως/πλέος (il proponente di πλέον' ἰνί, D. Sider, correttamente traduce «with altogether great force»: Posidippus on Weather Signs, in: K. Gutzwiller [ed.], The New Posidippus, Oxford 2005, p. 166).

Le note spesso omettono dati essenziali e ne forniscono di superflui. Sull'ep. 25, Durbec riferisce un mio obiter dictum su una questione insignificante (poco cambia fra εἰρομ[έ]ν[ωι, εἰρομ[έ]ν[ηι o eventualmente εἰρομ[έ]ν[οις) e non dice una parola sulla rilettura che fornisco dei vv. 5-6, radicalmente alternativa a quella degli editori prìncipi. Lo stesso per l'ep. 26, dove lo studioso espone una mia modifica di interpunzione senza minimamente accennare all'intervento sul testo che la determina, e facendola perciò apparire gratuita e anzi assurda. A p. 26 n. 31, a proposito dell'ep. 35, riferisce a mio nome un'informazione di contenuto generale e tace del tutto le ipotesi che faccio sul testo. A p. 16 n. 73, a proposito di 20.3, rimanda a «Lapini 2003 pour cette interprétation», ma non spiega qual è «cette interprétation» (impossibile a ricavarsi dal testo). Produco esempi che mi riguardano perché per ovvie ragioni sono quelli che conosco meglio; ma questo atteggiamento omissivo si coglie più o meno ovunque. Il Durbec non dice nulla sull'eccezionalità del (presunto) iota eliso di 21.1, o sull'insolita prosodia di μαργαρῖτις in 11.3, o sul raro (e anche qui presunto) costrutto del genitivo assoluto senza verbo in 13.3. In compenso a p. 25 n. 124 spiega che ὤιετ(ο) va riferito (e come potrebbe essere diversamente?) al tempo del sogno, e a p. 26 n. 133 va a scomodare Herod. 1.64 per documentare che lo Strimone è un fiume della Tracia. Sull'ep. 33 rilevo che la colpa di Aristosseno non è il «pretendere di dormire al fianco di Atena», come si legge a p. 25 n. 127, ma la sciocca fiducia di poter affrontare da solo un'intera falange. L'ep. 90 viene riferito, sulla scorta di Zanetto (Posidippo fra naufragi e misteri, in: G. Bastianini – A. Casanova [edd.], Il papiro di Posidippo un anno dopo, Firenze 2002, pp. 101-104), al topos delle morti paradossali (p. 60 n. 300). Non capisco che cosa vedano di paradossale Zanetto e Durbec in un annegamento alla distanza di due stadi dalla costa, una distanza che lo stesso Posidippo mostra di considerare temibilissima. A p. 19 n. 93, su 24.1, ricusa l'integrazione ἅ[λιον perché «l'oiseau est déjà qualifié de μέλα[ν, tandis que l'indication du destinataire est attendue». Per il «destinataire» ci sono spazi smisurati ai vv. 2-3, e la distribuzione democratica degli epiteti si può reclamare tutt'al più quando questi ultimi siano ornamentali. Altrimenti dovremmo eccepire anche su, mettiamo, 25.1 πρέσβυς ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός τε [καὶ εὐ]άντητος (περὶ) ὁδοῖο, in cui le qualifiche vanno tutte su ἀνήρ e nessuna su ὁδοῖο.

Veniamo al testo greco. Il Durbec pubblica un testo semi-critico, esemplato fedelmente, anche se non pedissequamente, su quello di C. Austin e G. Bastianini (Posidippi Pellaei quae supersunt omnia, Milano 2002), dei quali però è meno rigoroso. Sceglie di indicare con le parentesi uncinate non solo le integrazioni, ma anche le modifiche 'redazionali' del tipo συ⟨λ⟩λάμπει per συνλαμπει (7.6), μιμ⟨ε⟩ῖται per μιμιται (17.6) e così via. Ma non sempre si attiene a questa regola: le modifiche di σφικτον in σφιγκτόν (4.5), di εγνηου in ἐκ νηοῦ (39.3), di απελιππανεν in ἀπελίμπανεν (79.3), ecc., non sono segnalate. Il trattamento dello iota mutum oscilla: a volte sta fra uncinate (17.4, 99.3), a volte è supplito tacitamente (3.1, 3.4). I due sistemi si alternano anche a un rigo di distanza: cf. 22.4-5 Θρῆισσα e κυβερνήτη⟨ι⟩ per i tràditi θρησσα e κυβερνητη. Quando lo iota mutum è di troppo, viene cassato senza tanti complimenti, nonostante il fatto che in qualche caso possa essere l'indizio di di una lezione perduta: in 27.3, ad esempio, lo iota di αλλα τελειηι è un sostegno non proprio trascurabile in favore del da me proposto e per me inevitabile ἀλλ' ὅτε λαιῆι (con virgola dopo φαίνεται). Ma, anche prescindendo dalle questioni grafiche, raramente il lettore è avvertito che le lezioni messe a testo non sono quelle del papiro: 14.3, 30.2, 74.12, 74.13, 97.3, ecc., e non sempre si tratta di lezioni sicuramente da scartare: su ἐλθεῖν di 62.5, per esempio, si può discutere; e forse anche su στήθεσιν di 47.4, su εὐπαθές di 50.5, su ἐπί di 68.3, e soprattutto su ἤγαγεν di 20.2, la cui correzione in ἤγαγες è necessaria solo per chi tiene separati l'ep. 19 e l'ep. 20. Io penso che 19 e 20 facciano tutt'uno, e che di conseguenza ἤγαγεν possa, o debba, restare tale e quale (cf. W. Lapini, «ZPE» 143, 2003, e Capitoli su Posidippo, Alessandria 2007, pp. 23-24). Condividere la mia posizione non è obbligatorio, ma se uno la condivide, come sembra che faccia il Durbec a p. 16 n. 71, non può esimersi dal valorizzare, o almeno menzionare, l'elemento che la sostiene, e cioè la conservazione del tràdito ἤγαγεν.

In 78.13 il Durbec vorrebbe ripristinare τέλειον al posto di τελείου ma dimentica di intervenire sull'accento e così spunta τελείον. In 87.1 sceglie π[ῶλοι al posto di ἵ[πποι ma sbaglia la grafia: π[ώλοι. Nell'ep. 31 accetta quasi del tutto la mia ricostruzione e quindi anche la mia modifica di κίνη[σεν in κινη[θέν, ma di nuovo si dimentica dell'accento; il risultato è che mi viene attribuito un inesistente κίνη[θεν (cf. anche p. 24 n. 120). A p. 19 n. 92 viene ricondotto a D. Sider l'ametrico οὐχ ἑτέροις κριτόν come integrazione alternativa a οὐχ ἑτέ[ροις ἄ]κριτον di 24.6. Naturalmente la proposta di Sider era οὐχ ἑτέ[ροισι] κριτόν, col dativo lungo. Molto peggio è andata a Gronewald, la cui integrazione θεῖον ὁρ]ᾶι in 52.2 viene trascritta θεῖον ὧρ]αι a p. 36 n. 186. Per 68.4 sono disponibili varie soluzioni, fra cui εἰς τετράπ[ηχ]υν ὅ[ρον e εἰς τετραπ[λο]ῦν κ[ανόνα (D'Alessio). Il Durbec ne fa la conflazione e stampa un impossibile εἰς τετραπ[λο]ῦν . ὅ[ρον (sic). Ancora una conflazione in 99.2, dove l'ametrico αἰγιαλοῖο ῥόθιον è un innesto di αἰγιαλοῦ ῥόθιον (Austin) con αἰγιαλοῖο ῥόθον (Angiò). In 62.2 l'editore stampa ν[ῦν invece di ν[αί ma non aggiorna la punteggiatura, cosicché l'avverbio viene inspiegabilmente a trovarsi in posizione parentetica. Avanzi di vecchie lezioni sono anche «Teiléphia» per Τ⟨η⟩λε⟨φ⟩ίης di 51.3 («Tei-» presuppone il tràdito Τειλεσίης), καί εἴ ποτε di 91.1 (su καί è rimasto l'acuto come in καί, εἴ ποτε della princeps), e ἑνὸς ...οῦ di 17.5 (fra le opzioni considerate, ἑνὸς αὐτοῦ ed ἑνὸς ἔργου, la preferenza va alla seconda ma il circonflesso è della prima). Poco accurato in questo libro è anche l'uso delle spaziature, dei corsivi, delle maiuscole e minuscole, dei caratteri greci (lo stesso titolo di copertina, Μουσέων εἵνεκα, sembra scritto in due font diversi). A p. 14 n. 63 si parla di paragraphos al maschile e a p. 57 n. 283 di δῶμα al femminile. Per 11.1-2 si parla di Priamel ma non vedo nessuna Priamel; per 76.4 si parla di litote ma non vedo litoti. In 24.1 viene stampato μέλα[ν ὄρνιν al posto di μέλα[ν' ὄρνιν (e cf. p. 19 n. 93) e in 89.3 τοὔξ al posto di τοὐξ. Questi errori sono un'eredità dell'editio princeps. Li ho segnalati e corretti più volte («Lexis» 20, 2002, 39; «Prometheus» 32, 2006, 188; Capitoli, pp. 214 n. 21; 293 n. 1), ma gli studiosi continuano a non recepire. A questo punto mi arrendo.

Nell'avvertenza di p. 74 il Durbec mi include fra coloro che lo hanno aiutato «à rassembler la vaste bibliographie nécessaire à la rédaction de ce livre». Non ricordo di aver prestato un aiuto del genere, ma, se l'ho fatto, o questo aiuto era di scarso valore o il Durbec non se ne è giovato abbastanza. Egli infatti sotto-utilizza o mis-utilizza costantemente i miei contributi posidippei degli anni 2002-2004 e ignora quelli del 2005-2006; e quanto ai Capitoli del 2007, volume di circa 500 pagine in cui ho indagato estesamente alcuni dei passi più problematici del P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309, esso è citato solo una volta a p. 61 n. 305, e solo per attestare il fatto, non proprio bisognoso di attestazioni, che sul v. 2 dell'ep. 92 esistono «multiples restitutions souvent divergentes».

In realtà la bibliografia è proprio uno dei punti più deboli dell'opera. Dei saggi citati da Durbec, undici precedono il 2000; dieci sono del 2001, quarantadue del 2002, ventinove del 2003, sessantasei del 2004, venticinque del 2005, sei del 2006, altri sei del 2007, due del 2008, uno del 2009 e di nuovo due del 2010. Dopodiché più nulla. A p. 65 n. 312 viene dato come «à paraître» un articolo del 2008. Se avessimo la scatola nera di questo libro, essa forse ci parlerebbe di un'archè intorno al 2005-2006, di una lunga degenza in un cassetto e poi di un'anastasis improvvisa intorno al 2013-2014, seguìta da una pubblicazione precipitosa con pochi aggiornamenti last minute. Servirebbe un'introduzione per raccontarci come sono andate le cose, ma purtroppo il libro è privo anche di questa. Yannick Durbec è un ottimo studioso, autore di lavori importanti; e non si può negare che anche la presente traduzione, nonostante i rilievi di cui sopra, e benché sia fondata su un testo ostinatamente conservativo, sia in assoluto una delle migliori in circolazione. Ma le altre parti del lavoro sono troppo evidentemente figlie della fretta, e forse di consigli sbagliati.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018


Denis Michael Searby (ed.), Never the Twain Shall Meet? Latins and Greeks Learning from Each Other in Byzantium. Byzantinisches Archiv. Series Philosophica, 2. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Pp. xi, 358. ISBN 9783110559583. €99,95.

Reviewed by Tia M. Kolbaba, Rutgers University (

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

Although the fifteen well-crafted chapters of Never the Twain Shall Meet? are diverse in both form and content, they share a foundation in the difficult, painstaking work of those who study translations from Latin to Greek in the late Byzantine period. Some of the authors participate in the Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus project, which is producing editions of the Byzantine Greek translations of Aquinas' works as well as editions of Byzantine authors who responded and reacted to Aquinas' thought. The chapters also contribute to the demolition of two ideas that have dominated discussion of Latins and Greeks for far too long. First, the authors demonstrate convincingly that there is no fundamental incompatibility between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic thought, in spite of common claims to the contrary that western, "Augustinian" theology cannot be reconciled with the thought of the Cappadocian Fathers and their successors in Byzantium. Second, the authors reveal a real dialogue between Greek and Latin theologians in the late Byzantine period that belies the widely assumed and often stated idea that some sort of methodological difference between Orthodox theology and Roman Catholic theology, especially after the development of Latin Scholasticism, rendered attempts at communication between the two sides an exercise in futility. There was, as Denis Searby puts it in his Foreword, "a dialogue, . . . that is, a genuine exchange of ideas and scholarship" (1).

Franz Tinnefeld's chapter, "Translations from Latin to Greek: A contribution to late Byzantine intellectual history" (9-19), is a concise and clear sketch of the history of the kind of translation that, implicitly or explicitly, provides the foundation for the later chapters. In the late Byzantine period (1261-1453), a relatively small number of translators sought out and translated important Latin Scholastic texts into Greek. As Tinnefeld notes, "The importance of their reception may to some extent be measured by the number of extant manuscript copies but to a much greater extent by the documented reaction of the readers" (17). Especially relevant to this volume, and important in general, are the fifteen treatises of Thomas Aquinas translated by Demetrios and Prochoros Kydones between 1354 and 1370, as noted in Marie-Hélène Blanchet's "The Two Byzantine Translations of Thomas Aquinas' De Rationibus Fidei: Remarks in view of their on-going editio princeps" (115-128). Blanchet's article, part of her continuing work on the Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus project, further demonstrates the intense interest in Aquinas' thought among Byzantine intellectuals. Other chapters also directly address issues of translation. Antoine Levy's chapter, "Translatable and Untranslatable Aquinas: The soft cosmological revolution of scholasticism's golden age and the rejection of Aquinas by the first Palamite circles" (63- 75), is a sophisticated discussion of how late Greek authors who read the works of Aquinas experienced "the Greek Fathers through lenses borrowed from the Latin World." For Aquinas himself had, of course, read the Greek Fathers in a Latin thought-world, a "transposition into the theological language of the West of the Greek sources" used by Byzantine theologians (64). The chapter by Michail Konstantinos-Rizos, "Prochoros Cydones' Translation of Thomas Aquinas' Quaestiones disputatae de potentia and Quaestio disputata de spiritualibus creaturis" (259-274) is another notable contribution to our understanding of late Byzantine translations of Aquinas. Irini Balcoyiannopoulou unpacks George Scholarius' In 'De interpretatione' and demonstrates that most of it is a translation of Latin texts by Thomas Aquinas, Radulphus Brito, and others ("New Evidence on the Manuscript Tradition and on the Latin and Greek Background to George Scholarius' In 'De Interpretatione'," 93-113). John Demetracopoulos tells us how the same Scholarius could pass off a translation of a quaestio of Thomas Aquinas as his own sermon ("Scholarios' On Almsgiving, or How to Convert a Scholastic 'Quaestio' into a Sermon," 129-177).

In sum, late Byzantine intellectuals could not avoid—and indeed did not try to avoid—the developments in Latin theology and philosophy that became accessible to them through these translations. The rest of this volume of essays proves this conclusively, as scholars who work on Greek translations of Augustine, Aquinas, and others reveal a late medieval world in which everyone—from Greeks who eventually converted to the Roman Church to Greeks who resisted reunion of the churches—had to reckon with Latin Scholastic authors from Aquinas to Scotus.

The openness of Greeks to Scholastic thought may come as a surprise because it has long been a central tenet of theology courses that there are essential differences in substance between Greco-Slavic Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Generations of students have learned that there was an essential difference between Augustine's explanation of the persons and essence of the Trinity and the explanation of the Cappadocian Fathers; that Augustine's pessimistic anthropology, including his idea of Original Sin, was foreign to the eastern churches; and so on. As for Scholasticism and its most eminent representative, Thomas Aquinas, it was alleged that the Orthodox world reacted to Scholastic theology, especially to the use of Aristotelian philosophy, with horror and rejection. Marcus Plested's chapter, "Reconfiguring East and West in Byzantine and Modern Orthodox Theology" (21-45), elegantly sketches the history of these ideas, which are a product not of the Middle Ages but of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Orthodox theologians. Developed in the traumatic aftermath of the Russian Revolution and during the bipartite world order of the Cold War, the idea of a fundamental difference between eastern and western Christians resonated; the idea "made sense" of a contemporary solution, even if its historical roots were not deep. However, as Plested puts it, "The assumption of theological dichotomy between Christian East and West has long passed its sell-by date" (40). In the late 1990s Reinhard Flogaus and John Demetracopoulos demonstrated conclusively that the work of Gregorios Palamas, who was often held up as the quintessential theologian of the mystical and apophatic East, was deeply influenced by the writings of Augustine of Hippo, the allegedly quintessential representative of the overly rational West.

One of the longer articles in this volume, Christian W. Kappes, "Gregorios Palamas' Reception of Augustine's Doctrine of the Original Sin and Nicholas Kabasilas' Rejection of Aquinas' Maculism as the Background to Scholarios' Immaculism" (207-257), explicitly addresses the Augustinian influence on Palamas, suggesting that "Palamas cautiously (if unwittingly) adopted Augustine's legalistic language and his North African and (perhaps) Manichean associations surrounding human reproduction with infectious sin" (224). Many of the other articles, including some of those already mentioned, also analyze the reception of and reaction to philosophical ideas from the West: Pantelis Golitsis, "ἐσέντζια, ὀντότης, οὐσία. George Scholarios' philosophical understanding of Thomas Aquinas' De ente et essentia and his use of Armandus de Bellovisu's commentary" (179-196); Sergei Mariev, "Nature as instrumentum Dei: Some aspects of Bessarion's reception of Thomas Aquinas" (275-289); and Tikhon Alexander Pino, "Hylomorphism East and West: Thomas Aquinas and Mark of Ephesos on the Body-Soul Relationship" (291-307). These chapters show again and again that even some of the Orthodox churchmen who vehemently opposed reunion of the churches of Constantinople and Rome nevertheless expressed admiration for the ideas of Aquinas or some other Latin author, seeing them as expressions of a universal Christian tradition.

Panagiotis C. Athanasopoulos demonstrates that Mark Eugenicus, the most famous opponent of the church union of the Council of Florence, used arguments of Scotus to oppose arguments of Aquinas, revealing a deep knowledge of Greek translations of each. He also "developed his reasoning in the mode of a Scholastic quaestio" ("Bessarion of Nicaea vs. Mark Eugenicus," 77-91). Two chapters that may seem anomalous for reasons of chronology or geography still reinforce the general message, that there was no unbridgeable gap between Greek and Latin ways of thinking. Brian M. Jensen's "Hugo Eterianus and his Two Treatises in the Demetrius of Lampe Affair" (197-205) concerns a twelfth-century theological dispute, but reaches similar conclusions about the ability of Latins and Greeks to understand one another. John Monfasani's "George of Trebizond, Thomas Aquinas, and Latin Scholasticism" (47-61) concisely and convincingly destroys the artificial boundaries scholars have built not only between Greeks and Latins but also between Scholastics and humanists. Finally, on a perhaps less surprising but nonetheless interesting note, Georgios Steiris finds that even some of the late Byzantine authors who were most open to the West had no interest in or substantial knowledge of Arabic philosophy, in his chapter, "Pletho, Scholarios and Arabic Philosophy" (309-334).

This volume contains an abundance of information for specialists on late Byzantine thought or on theological dialogue between Latin and Greek churches. It also contains chapters—most notably those by Tinnefeld and Plested—that should be read by anyone who is interested in the history of interaction among the various branches of the Christian tradition.

Table of Contents

Denis M. Searby, "Foreword" – 1
Franz Tinnefeld, "Translations from Latin to Greek" – 9
Marcus Plested, "Reconfiguring East and West in Byzantine and Modern Orthodox Theology" – 21
John Monfasani, "George of Trebizond, Thomas Aquinas, and Latin Scholasticism" – 47
Antoine Levy, "Translatable and Untranslatable Aquinas" – 63
Panagiotis C. Athanasopoulos, "Bessarion of Nicaea vs. Mark Eugenicus" – 77
Irini Balcoyiannopoulou, "New Evidence on the Manuscript Tradition and on the Latin and Greek Background to George Scholarius' In 'De Interpretatione'" – 93
Marie-Hélène Blanchet, "The Two Byzantine Translations of Thomas Aquinas' De Rationibus Fidei" – 115
John A. Demetracopoulos, "Scholarios' On Almsgiving, or How to Convert a Scholastic 'Quaestio' into a Sermon" – 129
Pantelis Golitsis, "ἐσέντζια, ὀντότης, οὐσία. George Scholarios' philosophical understanding of Thomas Aquinas' De ente et essentia and His use of Armandus de Bellovisu's commentary" – 179 Brian M. Jensen, "Hugo Eterianus and His Two Treatises on the Demetrius of Lampe Affair" – 197
Christian W. Kappes, "Gregorios Palamas' Reception of Augustine's Doctrine of the Original Sin and Nicholas Kabasilas' Rejection of Aquinas' Maculism as the Background to Scholarios' Immaculism" – 207
Michail Konstantinos-Rizos, "Prochoros Cydones' Translation of Thomas Aquinas' Quaestiones disputatae de potentia and Quaestio disputata de spiritualibus creaturis" – 259
Sergei Mariev, "Nature as instrumentum Dei. Some aspects of Bessarion's reception of Thomas Aquinas" – 275
Tikhon Alexander Pino, "Hylomorphism East and West" – 291
Georgios Steiris, "Pletho, Scholarios, and Arabic Philosophy" – 309
Selected Bibliography – 335
Index – 355
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Agnieszka Wojciechowska, From Amyrtaeus to Ptolemy. Egypt in the Fourth century B.C. Philippika 97. Wiesbaden: Harrossowitz Verlag, 2016. Pp. 172. ISBN 9783447106559. €48.00.

Reviewed by Roberto B. Gozzoli, Mahidol University International College (

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Table of Contents

This slim volume was initially a PhD dissertation submitted at the University of Wroclaw in 2008.1 The introduction explains that the monograph focuses on political history, coinage and architecture, as well as the importance of the fourth century BC, in order to update Kienitz' and Gyles' monographs.2 In fact, until recently, handbooks on ancient Egypt considered the first millennium BC in general as a decadent period and a poor relative to the New Kingdom, since foreign rulers governed over Egypt.3 The author hopes that the book will act as a bridge between Egyptologists, who conclude their histories with the last indigenous dynasties, and Classical scholars, who deal with Alexander and later periods. It should be noted that the monograph deals with the social and economic history of the country, while for political history it only gives chronological co-ordinates, and so some readers may be disappointed.

Four chapters make up the main text. The first chapter deals with chronology, focusing on dating methods for the period as well as synchronisations between Egyptian and Babylonian calendars (pp. 7-20). The dating of the conquest of Egypt by Artaxerxes III is the starting point for the backdating of the previous Egyptian rulers. Using the Letter to Philip II in Speusippus and Manetho's Aegyptiaca, which suggests that the Second Persian invasion happened in Artaxerxes III's Year 20, the author argues that the Egyptian conquest should date sometime between April 339 and March 338 BC (Artaxerxes III ruled from 359 BC) contrary to the usual dating of 343-342.4

The author notes that Manetho's Aegyptiaca and Demotic Chronicle remain the backbone of any historical reconstruction of the period between Amyrtaeus and Nectanebo. What the author fails to remark is that employing Manetho and Demotic Chronicle for any historical reconstruction is not without risks. In fact, Manetho's chronology is nothing more than a royal list with some added information. The Demotic Chronicle, by contrast,is a partisan view of Egyptian history. Therefore, while the former may be used for the chronology, with the due cautions due to its transmission history, the events narrated in the latter would need to be double-checked with an independent source if it existed.

The second chapter offers an historical summary of Egypt between the Twenty-Eighth and the Thirtieth Dynasty (pp. 21-72) and consists of chronologically arranged discussions of each Pharaoh following the same pattern: royal names and Pharaoh's kinship, then a list of documents of his reign, monuments and coinage. To distinguish Amyrtaeus from his namesake who rebelled with Inaros in 460 BC, Pharaoh Amyrtaeus is labelled as Amyrtaeus II in the book, though there is no Amyrtaeus I in Manetho's royal list or in any chronological table in modern books about ancient Egyptian history.5

The chapter continues with the last three reigns of the dynasty. Classical sources offer information about Nepherites I's reign. The author, however, notes that those sources are much later than the reign itself and so should be considered irrelevant.6 In what follows, Nectanebo I has the lion's share, which gives in detail family origins, internal and external policies, as well as his building activities. Apart from Tachos and his foreign campaign in the Levant, which led to the loss of his throne, Nectanebo II is the other Pharaoh receiving a detailed description. This part covers Nectanebo II's origins, the resistance against Artaxerxes III's invasion as well as the numerous documents and building activities of his reign. The Legend of Nectanebo, as well as the information from Greek sources, receive detailed treatment.7

Chapter three deals with the Second Persian Period and Khabbash (pp. 73-82). The conquest of Artaxerxes III is dated to 340 BC, and he is identified with the king mentioned in the Satrap stela.8 Discussion of the indigenous king Khabbash and his chronology follows. As for the identification of Khabbash with the king Kambasweden mentioned in the stela of the Nubian king Nastasen, the author justly rejects the identification, noting phonetic differences between the two names and the implausibility of an Egyptian ruler fighting for his life at home and trying to do a campaign into Nubia.

Chapter four (pp. 83-107) deals with Alexander the Great and his immediate successors, up to the early years of Ptolemy I. Alexander's voyage to Siwa, his interest in Egyptian religion and culture and his coronation comprise most of the narrative, concluding with his coronation at Memphis as presented in the Alexander Romance. While the Romance has a very low reputation for its historical exactitude, the author rightly notes that many Egyptian elements are present in it. The discussion of Ptolemy I focuses on the initial stages of his dominion over Egypt, the struggle with the other Diadochoi, and his internal policy, especially his diplomatic marriages.

A catalogue of buildings from the Twenty-Ninth and Thirtieth Dynasties until the early Ptolemy I's time (pp. 111-137) closes the study.

Some linguistic and bibliographic infelicities appear in the book. As the monograph is a translation from an original Polish dissertation, some Polish words are present (see for instance "oraz" (p. 5), instead of English "and", or "lat" (p. 11 chronological table), instead of "years"). Sometimes, citations in the main text follow the original French or English editions, but the final bibliography gives the Polish edition.9

The book is mostly a summary of the period and so not an update to Kienitz as stated in the introduction.10 In place of scholarly discussion, the book merely sketches hypotheses and ideas about chronology and political history, without giving reasons for accepting one hypothesis instead of another. As for sources, papyri could have been translated, at least for the part relevant to each reign. As the book has substantial parts devoted to lists of buildings and coinage dated to each reign, the addition of plans of buildings and drawings of coins would be helpful to give the reader a better idea of dimensions of buildings and coin designs, along with a proper discussion of building strategies and economic developments. In the last few decades, there has been the tendency in Egyptology to reject event-based history in favor of its cultural, economic or social variants.

The book under review tries to describe the major events of each reign, and at the same time giving some details about temple building, and changes within ancient Egyptian society of the period. Since it does not go deeply into details, I consider the book a good source only for preliminary information of the Twenty-eighth to Thirtieth Dynasties.


1.   The author has already published an edited book on the subject. See Grieb, Volker, Agnieszka Wojciechowska and Krzysztof Nawotka (eds.). Alexander the Great and Egypt: history, art, tradition, Philippika, 74. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014.
2.   See Kienitz, Friedrich Karl. Die politische Geschichte Ägyptens vom 7. bis zum 4. Jahrhundert vor der Zeitwende. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1953; and Gyles, Mary Francis, Pharaonic policies and administration, 663 to 323 B.C. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959.
3.   As also noted by the author, the major exception in the last forty years is Traunecker, Claude, "Essai sur l'histoire de la XXIXe dynastie". Bulletin de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 79 (1979): 395–436. In the past decade, Wilkinson, Toby, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, London: Bloomsbury, 2010 , continues to repeat such negative views of the first millennium BC, despite researches by Leahy, Anthony, "The Libyan Period in Egypt. An Essay in Interpretation", Libyan Studies , 16 (1985), 51-65; Vittmann, Günther, Ägypten und die Fremden im ersten vorchristlichen Jahrtausend Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2003; Jansen-Winkeln, Karl, "Die Fremdherrschaft in Ägypten im 1. Jahrtausend v.Chr." Or 69 (2000), 1-20; and Perdu, Oliver and Meffre, Raphaële, Le crépuscule des pharaons. Chefs-d'œuvre des dernières dynasties égyptiennes, Bruxelles: Fonds Mercator, 2012, among others.
4.   Depuydt, Leo, "New Date for the Second Persian Conquest, End of Pharaonic and Manethonian Egypt: 340/39 B.C.E." Journal of Egyptian History, (3/2) 2010, 191 – 230, for the lower chronology. Moreno Garcia, Juan Carlo and Damien Agut, L'Egypte des pharaons: de Narmer, 3150 av. J.-C.-284 apr J.-C. Morangis: Editions Belin, 672-673, for instance, follow the "classical" dating.
5.   As the last documents of the Jewish colony of the Elephantine date to Amyrtaeus' times (p. 25), their full mention and bibliographic references only happen three pages later (p. 28), after a full discussion about the origins of the community as described in the Letter of Aristeas.
6.   Assmann, however, sees those later testimonies from the same cultural memory perspective as significant evidence for the perception of the reign in later periods. See Assmann, Jan, Cultural memory and early civilisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
7.   Some more words about such elements, as well as how they show similarities to the Apocalyptic literature of the late Egyptian period would have been welcome. For the moment, I refer to Gozzoli, Roberto, The Writing of History in Ancient Egypt during the First Millennium BC (ca. 1080 BC-180 AD). Trends and Perspectives. London: Golden House Publications, 2009, 290-301.
8.   Such identification would have been worth a more extended discussion, as given for instance in Schäfer, Donata, Makedonische Pharaonen und hieroglyphische Stelen. Historische Untersuchungen zur Satrapenstele und verwandten Denkmälern. Leuven: Peeters, 2011.
9.   For instance, the author refers to Grimal 1988 in the introduction (p. 2), and the original edition is Grimal, Nicolas, Histoire de l'Egypte ancienne. Paris, Fayard, 1988. The bibliography (p. 144) instead gives its Polish version (Warsaw 2004).
10.   At the moment, a detailed and up to date study of the post-First Persian Period in ancient Egypt considering the period between the Twenty-eight and Thirtieth Dynastu is missing. For Alexander and the Ptolemies, I would still refer to Hölbl, Günther. A History of the Ptolemaic Empire. London: Routledge, 2001, and Huss, Werner. Ägypten in hellenistischer Zeit 332-30 v. Chr.. München: Beck, 2001.

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Carl A. Shaw, Euripides: Cyclops. A satyr play. Companions to Greek and Roman tragedy. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. Pp. xiv, 158. ISBN 9781474245791. $114.00.

Reviewed by Ian C. Storey, Trent University (

Version at BMCR home site

Of the thirty-three surviving dramas by the Greek tragic poets, two, Euripides' Alcestis (438) and Cyclops, were produced in the fourth position, after the three tragedies performed in the competition at the City Dionysia. Normally this fourth play would be a satyr-drama, a light burlesque of stories from myth with a recurring chorus of satyrs and their 'father' Silenus as an actor in his own right. But Euripides' Alcestis, the fourth play in his entry in 438, has no satyrs for its chorus, nor is the comic figure of Silenus present. It is a curious play, set more in the world of traditional folk-tale than in that of the Olympians. It does have its comic moments, a scene with a drunken Heracles, and an ending of unexpected eucatastrophe, when Heracles wrestles Thanatos (Death) to win back the dead Alcestis. That leaves Cyclops as the only surviving satyr-drama, although we do have some papyrus remains of Aeschylus' Spectators (Theoroi) and Net-Haulers (Diktyolkoi) and around 400 lines of Sophokles' Trackers (Ichneutai).

Shaw distils his earlier study of the satyr-drama to suit the requirements of a Companion,1 and has provided an informative and commendable introduction to what for some may be an unfamiliar and peculiar form of drama. His analysis argues that Euripides, in what some may regard as 'a bit of dessert' to follow the meal of tragedy, lives up to the clever standard that we associate with his more serious tragedies. The monograph falls into four roughly equal sections: an overview of satyr-drama and Cyclops'place therein, a close-text reading of the play, a discussion of larger themes, and finally the play in its literary context.

In the first chapter (1–28) Shaw accepts, perhaps too uncritically, the familiar theory that the mysterious phrase 'nothing to do with Dionysus', cited by the Suda (o 806) and Zenobius (5.40), explains that satyr-drama was introduced to restore the presence of Dionysus in an art-form that had originated out of his rituals, but had turned to other subjects ('so that they would not appear to have forgotten the god' – Zenobius). This is a popular and pervasive reconstruction of the early history of Greek drama, but this explanation of 'nothing to do with Dionysus' has always seemed to me like a later scholiastic attempt to explain something that the commentators didn't really understand. Scott Farrington has pointed out that the Suda, Zenobius, and Olympiodorus do offer another explanation of the expression that came from a painting competition in Corinth.2 Shaw does list Scullion's article in his bibliography, 3 but does not take issue with three questions that Scullion poses: (1) with what god(s) elsewhere was drama associated, (2) if we did not know that drama at Athens was performed at the festival of Dionysus, would the extant plays allow us to draw that conclusion, and (3) was the location of the theatre beside the temple of Dionysus just a geographical convenience? I would add a fourth: do the extant dramas have any more to do with Dionysus than the Christmas pantomime with the birth of Christ? In other words, was Athenian drama primarily a religious event or a popular entertainment?

Shaw's second chapter (29–63) will be very much appreciated by instructors and students new to satyr-drama. He keeps the reader's attention focused firmly on the visual staging, especially scenery and costume, and on Euripides' subtle use of language. He accepts (30) a raised stage—but see Rehm's strong counter-argument here,4 and there is a minor error (30–1) in that the Odeion was located to the east of the seating, not to the west. For Shaw key terms to watch for are 'friendship', 'slavery', 'dancing', and 'hospitality' (xenia). Linguistic observations include Silenus' 'I know the andra' (line 104) as referring to opening word of the Odyssey, so that his comment means in essence. 'I've read the Odyssey'. Certainly Silenus knows the variant version of Odysseus' parentage (104), the satyrs know all about Helen and the fall of Troy, and even the Cyclops comments on the 'disgraceful expedition for one woman's sake' (280–4). The triple negative in line 120, 'no-one pays no attention to no-one' is a set-up for the 'Noman' joke, which is played out at length at 672–5. The encounter between human and Cyclops is no longer human-meets-monster, for both antagonists are well versed proponents of contemporary ethics and theology. At line 450 the chorus tell Odysseus that 'we have heard for a long time how clever (sophos) you are'. Sophos is not a word used in Homer, but it was very common in the social discourse of the late fifth century. Finally, the absence of wine on the island allows Euripides to portray the inebriation of the uninitiated Cyclops as his entry into the Dionysiac thiasos (57).

In his third chapter (65–85) Shaw identifies and explores the recurring themes of the play. These include the prominence of Dionysus, a development of his interpretation of 'nothing to do with Dionysus', a metatheatrical awareness of the religious and dramatic nature of satyr-drama, and the guest-host relationship in which the Cyclops ceases to be a horrific monster, becoming 'a gourmand and a philosopher', while Odysseus reveals himself as a 'cynical agnostic' (83). While Shaw quite rightly points out the frequent references to Dionysus and his rites in this play, I am not happy with his larger conclusion that this was a feature of satyr-drama generally. Dionysus is a character in Aeschylus' Spectators, but I can find nothing Dionysiac in the hundred lines from Net-Haulers and in Sophocles' Searchers there is only 'you cry aloud around the god' (F 314.227) and the god whom the chorus call 'our friend' is in fact Apollo (F 314.76). Granted that 'Dionysus as anti-hero' is a familiar figure in Old Comedy, the scholiast to Peace 740 records also that Eupolis 'created the starving Heracles, the cowardly Dionysus, the adulterous Zeus', to which we should add Hermes in his many roles. Dionysus is not the only god of importance in satyr-drama and comedy.

The final chapter (87–118) in a Companion usually addresses the intertextual connections of the play in question. As with Old Comedy, satyr-drama did not leave a legacy like that of tragedies about Medea or Oedipus or Iphigeneia, and any subsequent Cyclopes in modern monster-stories are more likely to have been inspired by the Homeric original. The relationship between Odyssey 9 and Cyclops becomes a metatextual one when at 375–6 Odysseus claims that what he has witnessed 'unbelievable things inside the cave, like mythoi and not the works of mortals'. Here he could have usefully cited Odyssey 11.362–9 where Alcinous declares that Odysseus' tale, which includes the encounter with the Cyclops, is not the work of a deceiver but 'you have told your mythos with the skill of a bard'. Shaw makes the attractive assumption that the deeds listed by Silenus in the prologue (lines 1–9) allude to previous satyr-dramas, rather than to the tales of the oral and visual traditions. He also finds reminiscences of the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus, and the comic treatments by Epicharmus, Cratinus (Odysses) and Callias (Cyclopes).

With Shaw's discussion (109–16) of possible links to later tragedies such as Andromeda and Philoctetes, we encounter the thorny problem of the date of Cyclops. Shaw entertains two scenarios: 408 (Seaford, Marshall) and 412 (Wright).5 Much has depended on the similarity of the 'double-doored' cave between (Cyclops 707 and Philoctetes 19: with the later date the satyr-play responds to the tragedy, with the earlier one the reverse. But these attempts appear to start from one or two similarities, and a whole edifice is then based on a less than secure foundation. Arrowsmith used the similar blinding of Polyphemus (Cyclops) and Polymestor (Hecuba) to date the satyr-play to the mid-420s.6 My own preference is to look to the 430s, where Cratinus' Odysses (likely 439–7), Callias' Cyclopes (434) and Euripides' Philoctetes (431) belong. Cyclopswould fit well with the interaction between comedy and satyr-drama that Shaw sees as arising in the 430s (88–97). A strong argument against a later date is that 412 and even 408 are too close in time to the traumatic defeat of the Athenians at Syracuse. Shaw (83–5) argues that Cyclopsintentionally represents the events of 415–413 in miniature, but given the reaction of the proboulos 'be quiet, do not remind me', at Lysistrata 590 to her claim that 'women give birth and send their sons out as hoplites', I cannot see that setting an ostensibly humorous drama on the slopes of Mount Etna would be well received in the aftermath of the disaster in Sicily.

This final chapter could also have considered afterlife through production. This works well for comedies such as Peace and Lysistrata, where stagings can be closely connected to contemporary events and attitudes. The Archive of the Production of Greek & Roman Drama in Oxford ( lists fifty-eight productions of Cyclopssince 1868. Most of these were either performed in theatres in Greece or South Italy or in schools and colleges, but it would have been interesting to investigate how these were staged, for what audiences, and how the possible indecencies were avoided in school productions. In 2003 I did see an unusual production of Cyclopsat a conference on satyr-drama at Xavier University in Cincinnati (APGRD 10426), where the choristers were all women dressed like males to avoid unwanted attention, the Cyclops a multi-bodied monster, and the whole performance set at such a slow pace that an intermission was required for a play slightly over 700 lines long.7

To conclude, Shaw has done a first-rate job of making this unusual and unfamiliar drama accessible to students, instructors, actors and producers. He has managed to tease a great deal out of the language of the text and the possible impact of the staging, and he persuasively demonstrates how Euripides 'updates one of the most Homeric stories for the Athenian stage, rewriting an archaic myth to fit contemporary society' (118).


1.   Shaw, C.A. 2014. Satyric Play: The Evolution of Greek Comedy and Satyr Drama. Oxford.
2.   Farrington, S. 2017. Paper presented at CAMWS, April 2017.
3.   Scullion, S. 2002. '"Nothing to do with Dionysus": Tragedy Misconceived as Ritual'. CQ 52: 102–37.
4.   Rehm, R. 1988. 'The Staging of Suppliant Scenes'. GRBS 19: 263-307.
5.   Seaford, R. 1982. 'The Date of Euripides' Cyclops'. JHS 102: 161–72; Marshall, C. W. 2001. 'The Consequences of Dating the Cyclops,' in M. Joyal (ed.), In Altum: Seventy-Five Years of Classical Studies in Newfoundland. St John's NL: 225–41; Wright, M. 2006. 'Cyclops and the Euripidean Tetralogy'. PCPhS 51: 23–48.
6.   Arrowsmith, W. 1952. Euripides II. Chicago: 2–3.
7.   Harrison, G.W.M. (ed.) 2006. Satyr Drama: Tragedy at Play. Swansea: xi–xii.

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Friday, October 12, 2018


Ryan K. Balot, Sara Forsdyke, Edith Foster (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Thucydides. Oxford handbooks. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xvi, 773. ISBN 9780199340385. $150.00.

Reviewed by Antonios Rengakos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Man wird kaum fehlgehen, wenn man behauptet, daß Thukydides einer der aktuellsten antiken Autoren nach dem 2. Weltkrieg ist und daß seine Popularität und Autorität gerade in den drei letzten Dezennien nochmals stark gestiegen sind. Kaum eine internationale Krise wird nunmehr ohne Hinweis auf das Werk des Historikers und die z.T. sehr unterschiedlichen Lehren, die man daraus zu ziehen berechtigt zu sein glaubt, in ihren Gründen oder ihren zu erwartenden Folgen analysiert und „verstanden".1 Thukydides ist bekanntlich besonders in Amerikas öffentlichem Diskurs heutzutage omnipräsent, gilt er doch seit langem als der „Erfinder der Politikwissenschaft" und wird seine „Lehre" von den verschiedensten Vertretern der Theorie der Internationalen Beziehungen (den Realisten, den Neorealisten, den Konstruktivisten, den Neokonservativen etc.) ständig in Anspruch genommen.

Die skizzierte Thukydides-Rezeption liefert zu einem erheblichen Teil den Hintergrund, vor dem der Aufbau und die anvisierte Leserschaft des anzuzeigenden stattlichen Bandes verstanden wissen wollen. Er enthält insgesamt 40 Beiträge und ist in vier Abschnitte geteilt: der 1. ist Thukydides' Methode und seinen Ansichten über wichtige Themen oder Perioden des Peloponnesischen Krieges (z.B. die Frühgeschichte Griechenlands, die sog. Pentekontaetie, die athenische Arche und die zwischenstaatlichen Beziehungen, die Kriegsursachen, der Archidamische Krieg, der Nikias-Friede etc.) gewidmet, der 2. befaßt sich mit verschiedenen literarischen und rhetorischen Mitteln des Werkes (u.a. Aufbau, Stil, auktoriale Bemerkungen, direkte Reden, Personencharakterisierung), im 3. wird hauptsächlich nach Thukydides' Ansichten in einer großen Zahl von mehr oder weniger mit der Politikwissenschaft zusammenhängenden Themen gefragt, und im 4. geht es um Thukydides' geistiges Milieu und das Nachleben seines Werkes von Xenophon bis Prokopios. Die Themen und deren Behandlung in den Abschnitten 1, 2 und 4 sind eher traditionell und alle Beiträge wurden von Klassischen Philologen oder Althistorikern verfaßt; fast alle 13 Beiträge von Abschnitt 3 stammen von amerikanischen political-science- Spezialisten und stellen zweifellos die wichtigste Innovation des Handbuchs dar, besonders im Vergeich zum 2006 erschienenen Brill's Companion to Thucydides (vom Rezensenten und Antonis Tsakmakis herausgegeben). Die folgende Besprechung ist aus Raumgründen notwendigerweise selektiv. Ein Inhaltsverzeichnis folgt am Ende der Rezension.

Im 1. Abschnitt ragt zunächst der Beitrag von Hans van Wees hervor, in dem auf brillante Weise die Selektivität in der Behandlung der griechischen Frühgeschichte durch Thukydides in der sog. Archäologie demonstriert und das daraus entstandene verzerrte Bild mehrfach korrigiert wird; sein Fazit: „However impressive as an intellectual feat, as an account of events and developments before the Persian War, the Archaeology is highly selective and often misleading". Mit der Glaubwürdigkeit der thukydideischen Darstellung des Archidamischen Krieges befaßt sich Peter Hunt, und zwar aus doppelter Perspektive: anhand einer Reihe von in der Forschung besprochenen Fällen weist er auf, daß das vom Historiker Erzählte sich meistens als zutreffend erwiesen hat oder zumindest nicht widerlegt wurde, sooft es mit den wenigen außerthukydideischen Zeugnissen konfrontiert wurde, und daß auch seine Gewichtung verschiedener Faktoren (z.B. die Finanzen Athens, Seemacht vs. Landmacht, Heloten, Perikles' Kriegsplan) nachvollziehbar ist, was freilich vereinzelt Ungenauigkeiten oder sogar „Fehler" (z.B. in der Topographie von Pylos) nicht ausschließt. Emily Greenwood arbeitet (und zugleich beklagt) die athenozentrische Darstellung (die uns sehr selten einen Einblick in die Stimmungslage der etwa 52 an der Sizilischen Expedition beteiligten Volksstämme [nach 7.57ff.] erlaubt) heraus und betont zurecht die große spannungssteigernde Wirksamkeit des „war within the war" im Rahmen der Gesamthistorie. Einige der übrigen Beiträge dieses Abschnitts beschränken sich entweder auf die Darlegung von Bekanntem oder Selbstverständlichem (Ellen Millender, Eric Robinson) oder auf die kommentierte Nacherzählung des jeweiligen Historie-Teils (so Cinzia Bearzot für den Zeitraum von 421 bis 413 v.Chr. oder Andrew Wolpert für Buch VIII mit einem Ausblick auf Athens Niederlage von 404).

Abschnitt 2 vereinigt einige der besten Beiträge des Bandes. Hunter R. Rawlings III betont2 die Bedeutung und Mannigfaltigkeit der sinnstiftenden Strukturierung der Erzählung für Thukydides' historiographisches Urteil („The levels of structuring seem almost limitless in Thucydides' text, so artful is his rhetorical sophistication ... Thucydides eschews didactism, always preferring the implicit method, always making the reader do the work of choosing. Structure rules."); W. Robert Connor zeigt eindrucksvoll, wie Thukydides durch die verschiedenen Mittel des Ausbaus oder der Verdichtung der Erzählung (Reden, Dialoge, militärische Paränesen, emphatische Wiederaufnahme einer bereits fast vollendeten Darstellung, enargeia etc.) interpretatorische Zeichen setzt. Jeffrey Rusten analysiert sehr aufschlußreich die drei geläufigsten patterns im thukydideischen labyrinthartigen Periodenbau: die langen Sätze, in denen das Verb vorangestellt wird („the tree"), die charakteristisch thukydideischen langen Sätze, in denen das Verb an letzter Stelle steht („the funnel"), und schließlich diejenigen („diptych structures"), welche die ersten Satztypen kombinieren, indem sie ein Verb sowohl am Anfang als auch an deren Ende aufweisen (nach Rusten eine Erfindung des Thukydides). Rosaria Vignolo Munson zeigt durch eine ausgezeichnete Analyse von 2.14.2-15 (Theseus' synoikismos von Athen), daß die Ablehnung des Mythos bei Thukydides nicht absolut ist. Antonis Tsakmakis behandelt souverän eines der schwierigsten Probleme der Thukydides-Interpretation, die direkten Reden, ihre Funktion im Rahmen des Geschichtswerks und ihre Beziehung zur Wirklichkeit; zu Recht betont er, daß „Thucydides' speeches invite the reader to take a rather philosophical glance at the world" und daß die Frage nach ihrer Historizität wahrscheinlich zu verneinen ist: „what is, then, left from what was really said? Indeed very little is guaranteed...". Philip A. Stadter befaßt sich in einem sehr ausgewogenen Beitrag umfassend mit den verschiedenen Mitteln (z.B. direkte und indirekte Reden, Thukydides' persönliches Urteil, Partizipialsätze über die Motive und Gefühle der handelnden Personen etc.), die der individuellen Charakteristik der Protagonisten (Perikles, Kleon, Nikias, Alkibiades, Brasidas) dienen, und zieht die richtige Schlußfolgerung, daß die Charakteristik der Personen einen wesentlichen Bestandteil der thukydideischen Historiographie darstellt, die ja als Hilfe zum Verständnis der menschlichen Natur und der menschlichen Handlungen gedacht ist (1.22.4).

Gegen viele der im Abschnitt 3 zusammengestellten Beiträge, die, wie gesagt, zum großen Teil von amerikanischen Politikwissenschaftlern stammen, lassen sich aus der Sicht eines Klassischen Philologen zwei grundsätzliche Einwände erheben. Zum einen ist es wahrlich verblüffend, wie leicht (um nicht zu sagen leicht-fertig) Thukydides' eigene Meinung zu den verschiedensten Themen erschlossen wird und wie selbstverständlich diese besonders mit Aussagen verschiedener Redner identifiziert wird: besonders die Athenerrede in Sparta (1.73-78), die drei Periklesreden (bes. der Epitaphios), die Rede des Diodotos (3.42-48), der Melierdialog, die Reden des Alkibiades (6.16-18) und des Euphemos (6.82-87) dienen als Schatzhaus „thukydideischer" „Lehren", „Gnomen", Ansichten etc. Daß die Forschung der letzten Jahrzehnte aber gezeigt hat, wie vielschichtig Thukydides'Historie und wie problematisch die univoke Lesung dieses vielfältig interpretierbaren Textes sind, scheint die political scientists grundsätzlich nicht zu bekümmern. Zum anderen ist es evident, daß etliche Autoren dieses Abschnitts ihre Thukydideskenntnisse hauptsächlich aus diversen Übersetzungen (Crawley, Warner, Lattimore, Smith, Mynott) schöpfen; ob etwas derartiges bei einem der schwierigsten griechischen Texten ratsam ist, ist sehr stark zu bezweifeln. Hervorgehoben seien trotzdem aus diesem Abschnitt S. N. Jaffes durch akribische Textinterpretationen gewonnenes Bild der verschiedenen Regierungsformen („the regimes of the one, of the few, and the many") und ihre Beurteilung durch Thukydides, sowie Victoria Wohls klare Behandlung der zentralen Rolle, welche die politischen Leidenschaften und die Gefühle in der Darstellung des Krieges spielen.

Mit Abschnitt 4 kehren wir auf festeren (und zugleich traditionelleren) Boden zurück. Rosalind Thomas zeigt souverän anhand von Einzelbeispielen auf, daß Thukydides in einem aktiven Dialog mit den Autoren der frühen hippokratischen Schriften und den Sophisten stand; Tobias Joho analysiert die vielfältigen Erzähltechniken, die Thukydides und der homerischen Dichtung gemeinsam sind; Jeffrey Henderson bietet einen klaren Überblick über Gemeinsamkeiten und Differenzen in der Darstellung des Krieges (Einheit, Ursachen, Sizilische Expedition etc.) und seiner Protagonisten (Perikles, Kleon, Demos etc.) zwischen Thukydides und der Alten Komödie; Nicolas Wiater informiert umfassend über das vielbehandelte Thema des thukydideischen Einflusses auf Polybios und Sallust. Die Darstellung der antiken Thukydides- Rezeption endet leider mit einem eher enttäuschenden, weil zu oberflächlichen, Beitrag von Conor Whately zu Prokop und (sehr beiläufig) anderen frühbyzantinischen Historikern.3

Die größtenteils hohe Qualität seiner Beiträge wird das Handbuch zweifellos zur Pflichtlektüre der Thukydidesforschung machen; zugleich wird es auch die (besonders jenseits des Atlantiks herrschende) Thukydidomanie befriedigen, auch wenn dies auf eine für die Philologen nicht immer nachvollziehbare Weise erreicht wird. Daß aber dadurch Thukydides geholfen wird, in aller Munde zu bleiben, ist gewiß ein großer Gewinn.


Introduction, p. 1
Section I : Thucydides as Historian
Sarah Forsdyke, "Thucydides Historical Method", p. 19
Hans van Wees, "Thucydides on Early Greek History", p. 39
Lisa Kallet, "The Pentecontaetia", p. 63
Ellen G. Millander, "Sparta and the Crisis of the Peloponnesian League in Thucydides' History", p. 81
Polly Low, "Thucydides on the Athenian Empire and Interstate Relations (431-404)", p. 99
Eric W. Robinson, "Thucydides on the Causes and Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War", p. 115
Peter Hunt, "Thucydides on the First Ten Years of War (Archidamian War)", p. 125
Cinzia Bearzot, "Mantinea, Decelea, and the Interwar Years (421-413 BCE)", p. 145
Emily Greenwood, "Thucydides on the Sicilian Expedition", p. 161
Andrew Wolpert, "Thucydides on the Four Hundred and the Fall of Athens", p. 179
Section II : Thucydidean Historiography
Hunter R. Rawlings III, "Writing History Implicitly through Refined Structuring", p. 195
W. Robert Connnor, "Scale Matters: Compression, Expansion, and Vividness in Thucydides", p. 211
Jeffrey Rusten, "The Tree, the Funnel, and the Diptych: Some Patterns in Thucydides' Longest Sentences", p. 225
Mathieu de Bakker, "Authorial Comments in Thucydides", p. 239
Rosaria Vignolo Munson, "Thucydides and Myth: A Complex Relation to Past and Present", p. 257
Antonis Tsakmakis, "Speeches", p. 267
Philip A. Stadter, "Characterization of Individuals in Thucydides' History", p. 283
Edith Foster, "Campaign and Battle Narratives in Thucydides", p. 301
Section III : Thucydides and Political Theory
Ryan K. Balot, "Was Thucydides a Political Philosopher?", p. 319
Arlene W. Saxonhouse, "Kinesis, Navies, and the Power Trap in Thucydides", p. 339
Clifford Orwin, "Thucydides on Nature and Human Conduct", p. 355
Mark Fisher – Kinch Hoekstra, "Thucydides and the Politics of Necessity", p. 373
S. N. Jaffe, "The Regime (Politeia) in Thucydides", p. 391
Michael Palmer, "Stasis in the War Narrative", p. 409
Paul A. Rahe, "Religion, Politics, and Piety", p. 427
Victoria Wohl, "Thucydides on the Political Passions", p. 443
Mary P. Nichols, "Leaders and Leadership in Thucydides' History", p. 459
John Zumbrunnen, "Thucydides and Crowds", p. 475
Arthur M. Eckstein, "Thucydides, International Law, and International Anarchy", p. 491
Paul Ludwig, "Xenophon as a Socratic Reader of Thucydides", p. 515
Gerald Mara, "Political Philosophy in an Unstable World: Comparing Thucydides and Plato on the Possibilities of Politics", p. 531
Section IV : Contexts and Ancient Reception of Thucydidean Historiography
Leone Porciani, "Thucydides' Predecessors and Contemporaries in Historical Poetry and Prose", p. 551
Rosalind Thomas, "Thucydides and His Intellectual Milieu", p. 567
Tobias Joho, "Thucydides, Epic, and Tragedy", p. 587
Jeffrey Henderson, "Thucydides and Attic Comedy", p. 605
Vivienne J. Gray, "Thucydides and His Continuators", p. 621
Casper C. de Jonge, "Dionysius of Halicarnassus on Thucydides", p. 641
Nicolas Wiater, "Polybius and Sallust", p. 659
Cynthia Damon, "Writing with Posterity in Mind: Thucydides and Tacitus on Secession", p. 677
Conor Whately, "Thucydides, Procopius, and the Historians of the Later Roman Empire", p. 691


1.   Einige Beispiele in rückblickender Folge: der Begriff der „Thukydides-Falle" (Thukydides' Anayse der „im tiefsten Sinn wahren Ursache" des Peloponnesischen Krieges) bringt nach Graham Allison (Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?, Boston; New York 2017) die Gefahren der amerikanisch-chinesischen Spannungen (Sparta vs. Athen) zum Ausdruck, der Melierdialog dient dem ehemaligen griechischen Finanzminister Yanis Varoufakis zum Sinnbild für den Umgang des übermächtigen Internationalen Währungsfonds (und des ebenfalls selbstherrlichen Eurogroup der Finanzminister der Euro-Staaten) mit dem schwachen Griechenland (Athen vs. Melos), (And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, New York 2016), die athenischen Demagogen (allen voran Kleon) liefern den Prototyp für Donald Trump, der Umgang Athens mit seinen Verbündeten im thukydideischen Werk (Melierdialog, Mytilene-Debatte, Naxos, Thasos) wird in den Brexit-Debatten heraufbeschworen usw.
2.   Im Anschluß an sein bahnbrechendes Buch The Structure of Thucydides' History (Princeton 1981).
3.   Es sei ausdrücklich auf den ausgezeichneten Beitrag von D. Reinsch, „Byzantine Adaptations of Thucydides" in Brill's Companion hingewiesen (den Whately nicht einmal erwähnt). Für die spätere Thukydides-Rezeption vgl. K. Meister, Thukydides als Vorbild der Historiker. Von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Paderborn 2013) und Chr. Lee & N. Morley, A Handbook to the Reception of Thucydides (Malden, MA 2015).

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Fran O'Rourke, Aristotelian Interpretations. Sallins: Irish Academic Press, 2016. Pp. vii, 366. ISBN 9781911024231. $32.69.

Reviewed by Angela Curran, Kansas State University (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Fran O'Rourke, a professor at University College, Dublin, writes on a wide range of topics in Aristotle. This collection brings together ten of O'Rourke's essays, previously published between 2003 and 20015. The volume begins with a personal introduction written for this volume in which O'Rourke reflects on his life growing up in on the Western coast of Ireland and how this upbringing instilled in him a love of philosophy and Aristotle, in particular. The collection ends with a fascinating discussion of the James Joyce-Aristotle connection. The chapters in between engage in a lucid and insightful manner on a host of themes in Aristotle ranging from metaphysics, poetics, ethics, politics, and science.

With a volume of previously published work, there is always the danger that an author will bring together essays with no common thread solely for the sake of making his or her work available to a broader audience. Fortunately, with this volume, O'Rourke has chosen essays with, broadly speaking, a common theme. "Each essay is in one way or another motivated by the attitude of marvel that Aristotle recognized as the wellspring of philosophy, which he himself conveys frequently in his writings" (p. 21). As O'Rourke reads Aristotle, wonder or marvel (O'Rourke uses "wonder" and "marvel" interchangeably as translations of "thauma") is "especially revealing of human knowledge and inquiry" (p. 31). By this, O'Rourke seems to mean that the attitude of wonder, which is "the reflective admiration of that which we know but do not fully comprehend," is the impetus for knowledge (epistēmē) and is even an 'incipient knowledge' (gnosis)." For when we marvel at things in nature we become aware that what we are immediately acquainted with surpasses our understanding (p. 31). O'Rourke says that Aristotle's phrase from the Parts of Animals, "all things are marvelous," could serve as the motto for the volume. For, as O'Rourke reads Aristotle, the wondrous or marvelous is for Aristotle the motivating factor behind all areas of inquiry, whether they are philosophical or artistic, ethical or scientific (p. 39).

The view that Aristotle thinks that poetry is a source of knowledge is a strong focus of much contemporary analysis of the Poetics. O'Rourke contributes to this debate in three chapters in the first part of the book (Chapters 1, "Wonder and Universality, Philosophy and Poetry in Aristotle," 2, "Philosophy and Poetry in Aristotle: Interpreting and Imitating Nature" and 5, "Aristotle and the Metaphysics of Metaphor"), by discussing the role that wonder plays not only in the origins of philosophy but also in poetry. The first two chapters examine the role that wonder and a desire to understand play in explaining the shared work of philosophy and poetry. Both activities share a common origin in the lived experiences of human beings. The desire to understand more fully the items in one's experiences is the impetus for human beings to do philosophy and to make and appreciate poetry. The best poetic plots "jar and jolt" the viewer's categories of experience by presenting a series of incidents that are unforeseen, yet shown upon reflection to follow one another, by necessity or probability (p. 35).

In Chapter 5, O'Rourke offers an insightful discussion of metaphor's power to evoke marvel and astonishment. Indeed this chapter is the best illustration of what O'Rourke calls Aristotle's "metaphysical" approach to knowledge and inquiry, which is a consistent theme throughout the book. Metaphors make use of analogical reasoning. A good metaphor (for instance, an old man is a "withered stalk") encourages the listener or reader to search out the common notion that unites two terms (Rhetoric 3.10, 1410b18). O'Rourke sees Aristotle as a forerunner of cognitive accounts of metaphor, which stresses the role of metaphor as a tool to discover "likeness in unlikeness" (p. 116) by jolting the mind with the surprise of recognition (p. 115). Thus, O'Rourke sees metaphor as a prime illustration of the metaphysical nature of a human being's knowledge, even in an everyday context. For in grasping the similarity introduced by the metaphor, the listener goes beyond the confines of immediate experience and moves closer to the metaphysician's understanding of the similarity between all beings as beings (p. 118).

Chapter 3 looks at Aristotle's views on what we can know about human nature. Humans occupy a special role in the natural world as beings possessing logos, reason. The capacity for reason distinguishes humans from all other animals (p. 59). O'Rourke's examination of knowledge in Aristotle leads him to a wide-ranging and interesting discussion of Aristotle's hylomorphism to explain the relation between body and soul. The problem is that Aristotle also thinks that a human being's nature contains an element of divinity (p. 84). O'Rourke concludes that the divine and immortal aspect of a human being ultimately threatens Aristotle's views on the unity of individual human beings as hylomorphic composites of form and matter, and points to the idea that, "the destiny of Aristotle's man lies beyond his natural state, and is in some sense beyond his control" (p. 84).

Chapter 4, "Knowledge and Necessity in Aristotle," examines the metaphysical foundations of Aristotle's empiricism. While all knowledge begins with sense experience, understanding is ultimately anchored in a principle that governs truth, the principle of non-contradiction. O'Rourke explores a significant difference between Aristotle and modern empiricists: scientific knowledge is not only universal in scope, but necessary in character, and made possible through explanations of the ultimate causes of primary substances, fixed natural kinds that are ultimately understandable through their final causes (p. 96). Thus, Aristotle's essentialism is the foundation of his epistemology.

O'Rourke considers the often-raised objection to Aristotelian essentialism that not all human beings have the capacity for rationality, for instance, mentally impaired human beings. He maintains that Aristotle can respond by saying that the "necessity" of humans' being rational animals is "hypothetical": what is necessarily the case is not that all human beings are rational, but that necessarily, given the adequate and proper circumstances, all humans acquire rationality, as "an acorn will become an oak tree" (p. 96). "Attainment of an individual's final immanent purpose is dependent upon the natural conditions being present for its development; this occurs, not by necessity, but for the most part" (p. 96). By extension, a baby human being will become a rational animal, given the appropriate conditions.

O'Rourke continues with a discussion of Aristotle's essentialism in Chapter 6, "Aristotle's Political Anthropology," which is a fascinating discussion of what is involved in Aristotle's definition of a human being as a political animal. One central problem concerns how to reconcile the idea that the individual depends on political association to flourish with Aristotle's view that the best sort of life described in Nicomachean Ethics Book 10 consists life of contemplation (theōria). O'Rourke addresses this problem by understanding the claim that a human being is a rational animal as a claim about essence. The essence of a human being involves logos, the capacity to reason and communicate (1253a10). Logos, so understood, can only be fulfilled within a community (p. 142). We need to be part of a polis, then, to develop and exercise the natural and distinctive capacities for discriminating right from wrong and communicating through language. While humans are happiest when contemplating, they nevertheless achieve what is most distinctive about their nature when they participate in the shared life of political association (p. 143).

Chapter 7, "The Metaphysics of Evolution," is a carefully argued essay that is grounded in a close reading of Aristotle's work as well as a familiarity with contemporary criticisms of Aristotle. The chapter addresses the important question whether Aristotle's doctrine of substantial form necessarily excludes evolution. This question is of interest because contemporary critics who maintain that his ideas rest on an outmoded view of biology have dismissed Aristotle's metaphysics and his theory of scientific explanation. O'Rourke argues that Aristotle would not accept evolution because of his doctrine of the fixity of the species (p. 173). However, O'Rourke argues that Aristotle's notion of form, "construed as the power of constructing new individuals of that form" (p. 172) is compatible with evolution. Heredity is determined at the genetic level, and genes have form (eidos), even if this form is also open to mutation (p. 174). Aristotle's insight about form as the principle that explains the growth and development of an individual can then be seen in modern discussions of genetic form. O'Rourke concludes: "the principles of his metaphysics acquire new verification and relevance" (p. 174).

Chapter 8, "Evolutionary Ethics: A Metaphysical Evaluation" and Chapter Nine, "Aristotle and Evolutionary Altruism" present O'Rourke's view on how Aristotle would respond to contemporary sociobiological discussions of evolutionary ethics. These approaches, such as those found in E. O. Wilson, argue that we are ethical because being so is fitness-enhancing for the species. O'Rourke concludes that Aristotle would reject such an approach to ethics. Aristotle's ethics offers us reasons why we should want to be moral: being ethical is what makes possible human happiness and flourishing (p. 195). Aristotle's approach would be pointless if biology is destiny. Ultimately, according to O'Rourke, sociobiological approaches to ethics fail because they do not come to terms with the nature of a human being as a rational being that chooses to fulfill that nature through individual actions that express universal as well as personal values (p. 197).

One topic for further debate concerns O'Rourke's claim that wonder and understanding occupy similar roles in Aristotle's Metaphysics and Poetics. This claim is an essential aspect of O'Rourke's cognitive reading of the Poetics, according to which poetry is the source of knowledge about human affairs. Jonathan Lear, a skeptic about the cognitive view, thinks that the relationship between wonder and understanding in the Poetics is the opposite of that presented in the Metaphysics (Lear, "Katharsis," in A. O. Rorty, Essays on Aristotle's Poetics, Princeton 1992). Wonder at the natural world gives rise to philosophy and the inquiry into the ultimate nature of things (Metaphysics 1.1). However, in the Poetics Aristotle says that events are astonishing (thaumaston) when they occur "contrary to expectations but on account of one another" (Poetics 9, 1452a4-5). Lear interprets this to mean that it is the understanding that unexpected events occur on account of one another that gives rise to amazement while, in the Metaphysics, it is the other way around. O'Rourke seems to concede Lear's point, but then suggests that amazement can lead to mystery, which leads to inquiry, so there is no problem in thinking that wonder prompts understanding in the same way in these two texts (p. 35).

Here I think O'Rourke may be conceding too much ground to Lear, and a stronger response is available to him. When things happen contrary to expectations, this is astonishing, and it produces a desire to understand why the unexpected event occurred. When the plot links incidents via a necessary or probable connection, the audience can reflect on the structure of the plot and come to understand, in retrospect, why the events, while unexpected, were a result of what went before. So, astonishment gives rise to a desire to understand and the search for an explanation, just as Aristotle outlines in Metaphysics 1.1.

In O'Rourke's work, a clear picture emerges of the critical role that metaphysics plays in Aristotle's approach to philosophy, art, ethics, science, and politics. With its focus on the topic of wonder as the wellspring of philosophy, Aristotelian Interpretations succeeds in providing a fresh perspective on tried and true topics in Aristotle, as well as advancing a fruitful discussion of the relevance of Aristotle's essentialism for contemporary philosophy.

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