Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Rosario Rovira Guardiola, The Ancient Mediterranean Sea in Modern Visual and Performing Arts: Sailing in Troubled Waters. Imagines - Classical receptions in the visual and performing arts. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. Pp. xv, 325. ISBN 9781474298599. $122.00.

Reviewed by Eugene Afonasin, Novosibirsk State University (afonasin@gmail.com)

Version at BMCR home site

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

Part of a larger project entitled "Imagines" and dedicated to various aspects of the reception of classical antiquity in the visual and performing arts,1 the present volume contains a series of studies dedicated specifically to the image of the ancient Mediterranean in modern and contemporary arts. The contributions are arranged according to five topics. Bibliographic references are given at the end of the book. The studies are quite independent one of another and do not cover the subject in a systematic way, so they may be treated separately.

The book opens with three studies of the Mediterranean as a geographical space (Part 1). The first of them (chapter 1) deals with depictions of Roman Adriatic ports by early modern travelers and lovers of antiquity. Its author F. Ugolini discusses antiquarian depictions of the ports of Ravenna and Rimini in some detail. The chapter is well illustrated and will definitely capture the attention of anyone interested in the history of navigation. In chapter 2 M. Carbone tells the story of early travelers' appreciation of one of the most symbolic places associated with antiquity and full of nostalgia for vanished Greek glory, the strait between Calabria and Sicily (the Strait of Messina), widely identified with the marine passage between Scylla and Charybdis. In chapter 3 F. S. Ventura offers a detailed analysis of a Spanish film Fedra directed by Mur Oti (1956). The geographical location is the ancient coast of Cadiz, the time is the present. A girl (Estrella=Fedra) is in love with the sea and with a young man (Fernando=Hippolytus), whose father (Juan=Theseus) she marries in order to be closer to her beloved. The ancient plot underwent considerable elaboration in the film, since working, as he was, in difficult circumstances, Mur Oti had to comply with the requirements of Church censorship, and only the name of the "great Cordovan writer" Seneca saved the day.

In Part 2 (Living and Dying in Troubled Waters), the authors focus on the images of travelers and heroes who plied the troubled waters of the Mediterranean in their search for glory. Ulysses, understandably, emerges as the main personage and Arion plays an important role. In chapter 7 E. Notti and M. Treu enumerate and briefly discuss various examples of theatrical production, mostly Italian, recent and older, related to the idea of homecoming on the one hand and on the other the insatiable passion for travel and new discoveries. The artistic works are presented according to major headings, such as the journey, the Cyclopes, waiting, the return and, in greater detail, the missing The authors emphasize the theme of dying in troubled waters in a fruitless attempt to find a better place and a happier lot, citing as examples Rumore di acque, an original creation of M. Martinelli (2010), and Aeschylus' Suppliant Women (staged by M. Ovadia in the Greek theatre in Syracuse, 2015). The painful lot of refugees lies at the heart of this drama.2 Chapters 5 and 6 elaborate on the image of Ulysses in cinema and theatre, respectively. In his contribution O. L. Marchena focuses on Nostos, il ritorno, a meditative and beautiful film by F. Piavoli (1990), while S. Fernaro studies The Odyssey in a metaphorical sea, a collective artistic experiment, completed in 2010 in the six cities of the German industrial Ruhr-District. According to the concept of the piece, the audience travelled from one location in the area to another in their own micro-Odyssey. The motorway restaurants, industrial warehouses, and abandoned mines created a "world of cracks and transitional period" (p. 113), while the plays themselves (written and staged by different authors), emphasized the theme of exile and abandonment (e. g. the play by Özdamar, which tells the story of a Turkish girl's journey from Istanbul to Germany). A well-illustrated contribution by D. Engster (chapter 4) is dedicated to the image of Arion (and in general ancient legends of dolphin-riders) in modern literature and art up to the 18th and 19th centuries. The examples discussed include the works of F. Bol (1616-80), A. Dürer (1471-1528), and A. Altdorfer (1480-1538).

In part 3 (A Personal Sea. The Artist and the Sea), chapter 8, J. Carruesco and M. Reig analyze the complicated symbolism of Wolfgang Rihm's opera Dionysos: Szenen und Dithyramben. Eine Opernphantasie (2010), comparing it both with ancient mythological stories and with the life of Friedrich Nietzsche. Parallels with Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Ariadne auf Naxos (1916) are especially telling. In chapter 9, R. R. Guardiola explores the development of the motif of Ovid's exile in E. Delacroix's works. The motif of the poet's encounter with the barbarians is paired with another work of the French painter, Les Natchez, which depicts two Native Americans with a child, who escaped the massacre of their tribe by the Europeans. The works of Delacroix are contrasted with a contemporary painting of Turner, Ovid banished from Rome (1838). Cinematic Romans is the subject of C. Ricci (chapter 10), who analyzes the sea as, first, a metaphor for change, then as a space of conflict, an expression of engineering skills, and, finally, a metaphor for luxury and decline. The cinematographic examples (both artistic creations and documentaries) analyzed in the chapter are connected with relevant classical texts and the facts of Roman history.

Part 4 comprises three studies, associated, in the view of the editor, with the subject of the sea and politics. Chapter 11 is dedicated to the Dutch-British painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912). Q. Broughall emphasizes the role of Mediterranean seascapes in the numerous historical romantic scenes he created. Of special importance is the painter's attention to architectural details of which he possessed a first-hand knowledge. The image of Phoenicians and Carthaginians is understandably topical for Spanish literature, painting and performing arts. After a brief discussion of historical circumstances, A. Ansuategui turns in chapter 12 first to the place of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians in Spanish political discourse from the 18th to the 20th centuries, and then focuses on some historical paintings (by F. de Goya, F. D. Marques, etc.) and literary creations; although, as the author notes, the maritime aspect of these historical events somewhat 'fades into the background' (p. 223) in comparison with the cultural and political dimensions of the questions so important for creation of a national identity (noble Spaniards vs treacherous Carthaginians, etc.). Finally, chapter 13 is devoted to a crucial event in Roman history – the battle of Actium. Examples discussed are Cleopatra (C. DeMille, 1934), Cleopatra (J. Mankiewicz, 1964), and the HBO cable television series Rome (2005-7). M. S. Cyrino studies the place of the battle in these very different artistic adaptations of the story.3

In chapter 14, S. & A. de Cavalho et. al. tell about a social project, initiated a decade ago in Portugal by a student society for Classical studies, entitled "The birth of comedy." The goal was to promote ancient mythology and drama as valuable educational and cathartic tools (with water as a metaphor for life and purification). It appears that the project has been a great success. Finally, in an "annex" to the book we learn about the activities of the photographer J. Bandeira, whose representation of the inhabitants of the outskirts of Lisbon is reminiscent of some characters of the Iliad and the Epic Cycle.

The book is well edited and produced. I have noticed no errors. I do not hesitate to recommend the book warmly to anyone interested in up-to-date knowledge about a broad range of topics related to the representation of ancient cultural tradition in contemporary visual and performing arts.

Authors and Titles

Introduction, Rosario Rovira Guardiola
The Mediterranean as a Geographical Space
1. "Roman Adriatic ports and the antiquarian tradition," Federico Ugolini
2. "Chronotopes of Hellenic antiquity: The Strait of Reggio and Messina in documents from the Grand Tour era," Marco Benoît Carbone
3. "The Eternal Words of the Latin Sea: Fedra by Mur Oti," Francisco Salvador Ventura

Living and Dying in Troubled Waters
4. "Quod mare non novit, quae nescit Ariona tellus? (Ov. Fast. II,83)," Dorit Engster
5. "Ulysses in the cinema: the example of Nostos, il ritorno (Franco Piavoli, Italy 1990)," Óscar Lapeña Marchena
6. "A sea of metal plates: images of the Mediterranean from the XVIIIth century until post-modern theatre," Sotera Fornaro
7. "Sailors on Board, Heroes en Route. From the Aegean World to Modern Stage," Erika Notti and Martina Treu

A Personal Sea. The Artist and the Sea
8. "Ancient Seas in Modern Opera: Sea Images and Mediterranean Myths in Rihm's Dionysos," Jesús Carruesco, and Montserrat Reig
9. "A mirror to see your soul. The exile of Ovid in Eugene Delacroix's painting," Rosario Rovira Guardiola
10. "Cinematic Romans and the Mediterranean Sea," Cecilia Ricci

Sea Politics
11. "Changing their sky, not their soul. Lawrence Alma-Tadema's vision of the ancient Mediterranean," Quentin Broughall
12. "The image of Phoenicians and Carthaginians in Modern Spanish History and Culture," Antonio Duplá Ansuategui
13. "Screening the Battle of Actium. Naval Victory, Erotic Tragedy, and the Birth of an Empire," Monica Silveira Cyrino

Contemporary Uses of the Classical Mediterranean
14. "Troubled Waters: Performative imaginary in the Project PI – Pequena Infância," Sofia de Carvalho, Elisabete Cação and Ana Seiça Carvalho
15. "Nem Gregos nem Troianos," José Bandeira


1.   See the website Imagines.
2.   For instance, on his way back from Lesbos and Delphi the present writer was invited by Greek friends to attend a performance given in an open-air theatre, located in an Athenian park with a beautiful view of Piraeus. The production was of Aeschylus' Suppliant Women, directed by Vangelis Varotzakis. The actors were (I was told) mostly students. They spoke Modern Greek, although some phrases where recited in Ancient Greek. The performance attracted many people. A local teacher of literature (himself a writer) in a conversation after the performance told me that their task was to show, by means of this play, how civilization and humanity overcome barbarism.
3.   Antony and Cleopatra (Heston, 1972), a film adaptation of the Shakespeare play might have been included.

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Silvia Balatti, The Mountain Peoples in the Ancient Near East. The Case of the Zagros in the First Millennium BCE. Classica et Orientalia 18. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2017. Pp. xxviii, 452; 22 plates. ISBN 9783447108003. €89.00. ISBN 9783447196383. ebook.

Reviewed by Geoffrey D. Summers, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago (summersgd@gmail.com)

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Since prehistory, communities principally engaged in herding activities have occupied the intermontane valleys and plains of the Zagros (Western Iran). Relations, tensions and cultural exchange between the inhabitants of the mountains and those of the Mesopotamian plains already occurred during the Bronze Age. These contacts increased in the course of the 1st millennium BCE, as is suggested by Near Eastern and subsequently by Greek and Latin sources which provide us with numerous new names of peoples living in the Zagros. The present volume, based on the author's 2014 doctoral dissertation at the University of Kiel and already enjoying widespread recognition,1 investigates the social organisation and life style of the peoples of the Zagros Mountains in the 1st millennium BCE and examines their relationships with the surrounding environment and with the political authorities on the plains.

Among these peoples, for example, were the 'fierce' Medes, breeders and purveyors of fine horses, the Manneans, who inhabited a large territory enclosed between the two contending powers of Assyria and Urartu, and the 'warlike' Cosseans, who bravely attempted to resist the attack of Alexander the Great's army. The Southern Zagros Mountains, inhabited by mixed groups of Elamite and Iranian farmers and pastoralists, were also of key importance as the home of the Persians and the core area of their empire. Starting from Fārs, the Persians were able to build up the largest empire in the history of the ancient Near East before Alexander.

Balatti's valuable study provides an extensive tool for all scholars of the Ancient Near East, and particularly those with interests in the first millennium BCE. In particular, the interdisciplinary approach adopted in this study, which juxtaposes historical records with archaeological, zooarchaeological, palaeobotanical and ethnographic data, is meant to offer a new, holistic and multifaceted view on an otherwise little-known topic in ancient history. The work is concerned with the important subject of the peoples who dwelt in the Zagros Mountains that stretch from the Southern Caucasus in the north to the eastern side of the Persian Gulf in the south, forming a high spine that divides Mesopotamia from the Iranian Plateau. Today the southern and central portions of the range lie within Iran, while a more northerly section straddles the border between Iran and Iraq before merging with the high Eastern Massif in eastern Turkey. On the west side of this northern limit is the high and mountainous area around Lake Van, the homeland of Urartu, while on the eastern side, in northwest Iran, is the Urmia Lake basin. Yet further north lies the Southern Caucasus that, although largely but not entirely beyond the scope of this book, are referred to as necessary. In scope the core of this study has the great merit of spanning the period from the rise and aggressive expansion of the Neo-Assyrian state at the beginning of the first millennium BCE down to the end of the Seleucid Period, rather than closing with the more common division marked by the conquests of Alexander the Great that ushered in the Hellenistic Period. In so doing Balatti has been able to include in the discussion not only the relevant Ancient Near Eastern texts, but also Greco-Roman accounts.

As said, the work claims to be an all-too-rare attempt to consider the written testimony provided by ancient texts and inscriptions alongside, and on an equal footing with, the evidence of archaeology and ethnography together with, innovatively, paleo-climatic and environmental studies. For the most part the various mountain peoples of the Zagros were illiterate, and no texts have yet been found by archaeologists. Thus the only written accounts available to us come either from lowland kingdoms and empires (Assyrian, Urartian, Babylonian and, to the east of Mesopotamia, Elamite and Achaemenid) or from Greco-Roman accounts that begin with Xenophon and end with Strabo. The mountain dwellers themselves have not left much more than generally scant archaeological remains, often amounting to little other than graves. One consequence of this bias in the types of available evidence is that, regardless of intentions, the study under review is very largely based on textual sources.

The author has gathered together a large corpus of ancient texts that cast various shades of light on the geography and ecology of the Zagros Mountains as well as their inhabitants in the first millennium BCE. The texts themselves and a discussion of their contents form the core of the book. Each text is both transliterated and translated. None of the translations are new, most are in English. Neo-Assyrian documents are considered first (chapter 3), followed by those from Urartu (chapter 4), then by the Neo-Elamite, Neo-Babylonian, and Achaemenid sources grouped together (chapter 5). Lastly comes the Greco-Roman evidence (chapter 6). This order is largely chronological but, at the same time, geographic, because it trends from north to south as the focus shifts over time from Assyria to Southern Mesopotamia. Many of the Neo-Assyrian sources deal with the same areas of the northern Zagros as those of Urartu, although Urartian interests extended further northwards through the Urmia Basin into the Southern Caucasus.

The first question to be addressed is whether the peoples of the Zagros in the first millennium BCE make a suitably well-defined subject for an in-depth study of this kind. The short answer is yes, because this high range of mountains that divides the Iranian Plateau from Mesopotamia played (and continues to play to this day) key roles in the history and archaeology of the Ancient Near East. But such geographic simplicity does not provide the entire picture, and can be misleading. To begin in the north, where the eastern end of the Taurus merges with the Zagros, the chain of high peaks is not so greatly elevated above the Van basin, Lake Van itself being at c. 1650 m above sea level, while on the eastern side Lake Urmia lies above 1200 m. Throughout the Early and Middle Bronze Ages the archaeological cultures in these two lake basins display considerable homogeneity, with few indications that the northernmost section of the Zagros Mountains formed a cultural barrier between them. In the Early Iron Age, too, such evidence as is available suggests strong cultural relationships, for instance between Hasanlu V/IV and the cemetery at Karagündüz. From the time of the conquests of Menua, king of Urartu, in the late ninth century until the collapse of the Urartian state in the mid-seventh, the entire region stretching northwards as far as Lake Sevan in the Trans-Caucasus was under Urartian domination. That is not to say that all the inhabitants were Urartians: the temple inscription from Ayanis, ancient Rusahinili Eiduru-kai, lists deported peoples some of whom may very well have been brought from the northern Zagros.

With regard to the Central Zagros, the Neo-Assyrian and Urartian texts make reference to tribes, peoples, localities and routes. These texts are mostly concerned with military campaigns, the principal purpose of which was to keep open trade routes, and thus access to raw materials, to the Iranian Plateau and beyond. The earlier Neo-Assyrian kings did not attempt to conquer and occupy the mountain territories themselves. Eventually, however, in 737 Sargon II imposed direct Assyrian control over the whole of the western side of the Central Zagros, thus following a pattern seen elsewhere in the Assyrian Empire, that is, territorial annexation and direct rule following failure to gain loyalty by means of threat and terror. As this study makes clear, one consequence of this Assyrian policy is that the written information concerning the peoples of the Zagros themselves, be it from inscriptions or accounts of campaigns, or indeed from pictorial representations carved on Neo-Assyrian palace reliefs, is very scant. The peoples and their cultures were not of interest to Assyrian despots.

Turning now to the southern end of the mountain range the situation was somewhat different. First to be considered are the Neo-Elamite and related texts. Balatti discusses the difference between the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian sources, on the one hand, and the Neo-Elamite and Achaemenid written accounts, on the other, but perhaps there was more to say here. Neo-Assyrian sources tended to view the mountain peoples as remote, unfamiliar, and inferior or uncivilised, not least because they did not live in what the Assyrians would have considered cities. Neo-Elamites and Persians, on the other hand, were far more familiar with the mountain peoples and interacted with them much more closely. Indeed, they might be considered as peoples of the foothills as much as peoples of the plains.

The later sources, from Xenophon to Strabo, provide fuller accounts with considerably more descriptive details, and of course subjective remarks. Balatti makes all of this clear, sifting out what might be relevant to her subject from what might be considered ancient travel writing designed for a foreign, Greek-speaking audience.

Essentially this book is, then, a study based on written testimony. Yet the peoples who form the subject of the study were largely or completely illiterate. Thus the only direct evidence of themselves available to us comes through archaeology. From the point of view of an archaeologist, such as this reviewer, it can be bluntly stated that rather than starting with analysis of the archaeological evidence, and then attempting to reconcile or contrast such evidence with the written accounts of neighbouring, more complex, polities, Balatti has focussed on the texts, paying attention to the archaeological evidence only on those rare occasions where it might illuminate or strengthen what is essentially a historical approach. She cannot be blamed for the omission of studies that appeared only as the volume was in final stages of production, such as the dramatic evidence for the Neo-Assyrian sack of Musasir as well as other ongoing work in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan,2 or for the rather cursory emphasis given to the important volume by Danti on the excavations of Hasanlu V that appeared just in time for inclusion in the bibliography.3 More disappointing is the omission of any reference to, let alone discussion of, the well-known stele depicting warriors with weapons and other attributes found at Hakkari in the south-eastern corner of Turkey that are extensively published by Veli Sevin.4 In this way the book highlights the relatively scant archaeological evidence from the highlands that, for much of the period under discussion, comprises cemeteries with little indication of settlements or campsites. Nevertheless, there is no detailed discussion or analysis of such evidence as is available, be it derived from physical anthropology or from the numerous grave goods.

Before the book draws towards its conclusions issues of environment and ecology are addressed. Chapter 8 is a useful overview of the published environmental evidence for this area spanning the entire Holocene that includes a description of modern climate and vegetation as well as the data based on pollen obtained from lake cores. It needs to be pointed out, however, that such studies are very difficult to integrate with the kinds of historical texts available. The importance of viticulture and orchards in the Iron Age is axiomatic, but it is extremely difficult to demonstrate in the environmental record. Likewise, complex issues such as deforestation as a result of harvesting timber for lowland consumption, the destructive effects of large-scale goat herding, or charcoal making for metal production are impossible to disentangle with the currently available evidence. Trends are discernible over the longue duree, but even isolating changes in the first millennium BCE is a daunting challenge.

The standard of English is excellent, with only very occasional typos. One reference (Herles 20085) is missing from the bibliography. Most illustrations seem to be of little relevance, as though added as an afterthought. The plan of Hasanlu IVb on Plate 8 is over-reduced, while the interesting images of Kül-e Farah on Plate 6 deserved a far better presentation as well as an explanatory caption.

To summarise, the volume will be an extremely useful tool for any study of the peoples of the Zagros in the Iron Age, and Balatti is to be thanked for bringing together such a wealth of historical evidence, as well as for her insightful discussions. While it may not entirely live up to its claim to be a fully integrated study of the textual, archaeological and environmental evidence, it is in fact a piece of good and interesting historical scholarship.


1.   The book has won several prizes, such as the 2018 World Award for Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of Iranian Studies and the Johanna Mestorf Award for outstanding dissertations in the field of human- environmental research and landscape archaeology.
2.   Danti, M.D. 2014. "The Rowanduz Archaeological Project: Searching for the Kingdom of Musasir," Expedition 56.3: 27-33. Marf, D.A. 2014. "The Temple and the City of Musasir/Ardini: New Aspects in the light of New Archaeological Evidence," Subartu Journal 8: 13-29.
3.   Danti, M.D. 2013. Hasanlu V: The Late Bronze and Iron I Periods. Hasanlu Excavation Reports III. University Museum Monograph. University of Pennsylvania Press.
4.   Sevin, V. 2005. Hakkâri Taşları: Çıplak Savaşçıların Gizemi, Istanbul: Yedi Kredi Yayınları; and 2015. Hakkâri Taşları II: Gizmin Peşinde, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu.
5.   Herles, M. 2008. "Das Kamel in Assyrien und Urartu," Aramazd, Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3.2: 153-180.

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Otto Zwierlein (ed.), Dracontius, Blossius Aemilius. Carmina profana. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, 2025. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. xvi, 160. ISBN 9783110501247. €59,95.

Reviewed by Giampiero Scafoglio, Université de Nice 'Sophia Antipolis'; CNRS–CEPAM UMR 7264 (Giampiero.SCAFOGLIO@unice.fr)

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Publisher's Preview

L'ultima fatica di Otto Zwierlein è l'edizione critica dei Carmina profana di Draconzio, un poeta estremamente interessante, non soltanto per gli aspetti critico-testuali, che attirano da tempo l'attenzione dei filologi, ma anche per l'audace sperimentalismo che si riscontra nei suoi componimenti, sia a livello contenutistico (per le versioni innovative delle leggende), sia sul piano strutturale e stilistico (per l'intreccio dei generi letterari e la contaminazione di elementi eterogenei, alcuni dei quali attinti finanche dalla cultura di consumo). I Carmina profana sono stati pubblicati da Baehrens (Lipsiae, 1883) e, insieme con quelli cristiani, da Vollmer (Berlolini, 1905; 2a ed. Lipsiae, 1914); poi da Jean Bouquet ed Étienne Wolff, con un'elegante traduzione francese e note di commento, nella collezione dell'IUF (voll. I-II, Paris, 1995-1996). La Medea (Rumul. 10) è stata pubblicata anche da Helen Kaufmann (Heidelberg, 2006); mentre l'edizione con traduzione italiana e commento curata da Fabio Gasti (Milano, 2016) non comprende la revisione critica del testo. I due epitalami (Rumul. 6 e 7) sono stati pubblicati da Angelo Luceri (Roma, 2007) e poi da Lavinia Galli Milić (Firenze, 2008). Un'edizione dell'Orestis tragoedia si deve invece alle cure di Antonino Grillone (Bari, 2008).

In questa edizione, Zwierlein mette a frutto un cospicuo lavoro preliminare, pubblicato in un volume a sé stante (Die Carmina profana des Dracontius. Prolegomena und kritischer Kommentar zur Editio Teubneriana, Berlin-Boston, 2017). Come è noto, la raccolta dei Romulea è tramandata unicamente dal Cod. Neapolitanus IV E 48 (XV secolo), in cui si trovano due stesure della Medea: una "di prima mano", indicata come N; l'altra vergata da Giorgio Galbiato e denominata G da Zwierlein. Questi afferma che le due stesure derivino ex uno eodemque hyparchetypo; tuttavia Loriano Zurli ha dimostrato che G è copia di N (A proposto di collazioni novecentesche. Il caso della Medea di Draconzio, RIFC 126, 1998, 364-377), come anche Kaufmann ammette, chiamandola Zweitversion (ed. cit. 25). Zwierlein discute il lavoro di Zurli nei Prolegomena, 6-8.

L'Orestis tragoedia è tramandata invece, in forma anonima (ma l'attribuzione a Draconzio si può considerare sicura), in due manoscritti: il Bernensis Bongarsianus 45 (B) del secolo IX e l'Ambrosianus O 74 sup. (A) del secolo XV; una ventina di versi sono conservati anche in alcuni florilegi dei secoli XIII e XIV. B e A condividono molti passi corrotti: è evidente che derivano dal medesimo archetipo; tuttavia i filologi sono divisi in merito al loro rapporto. Se alcuni ritengono infatti che A sia copia di B, Zwierlein li considera piuttosto indipendenti, seguendo Bouquet e soprattutto Grillone, che argomenta ampiamente a riguardo (ed. cit. 20-27).

Non è possibile, in questa sede, entrare nel merito delle singole scelte testuali operate da Zwierlein: scelte talvolta condivisibili, talaltra discutibili, ma quasi sempre interessanti. Inutile dire che la sua edizione appare complessivamente apprezzabile e che, anche quando non coglie nel segno, fornisce comunque utili spunti di riflessione. Su pochi passi intendo però soffermarmi, non soltanto per segnalare un motivato dissenso, ma soprattutto per tentare di stimolare il progresso del dibattito intorno alla constitutio textus.

I versi 65-71 della Medea compaiono in questo ordine nelle due stesure manoscritte e nelle edizioni precedenti a quella di Kaufmann:

…licet immemor extet                 65
religionis amor timeant nec fulmen amantes,
te solam putet esse deam, te numen adoret,
te metuat metuenda deis, te iudicet unam,
quam mare quam tellus quam numina cuncta fatentur
imperio subiecta tuo per templa per aras,           70
esse uoluptatum dominam.

Tuttavia Zwierlein segue Kaufmann nella trasposizione del v. 70 dopo il v. 66, in modo da riferire il participio subiecta non ai numina del v. 69, ma alla medesima Medea quale soggetto sottinteso: si darebbe così un senso accettabile all'espressione per templa per aras (la donna, sottomessa al potere di Venere, ne frequenterà i templi e gli altari), che sarebbe invece incongruente se riferita agli altri dei. Un intervento così invasivo non mi sembra però giustificato, in quanto il passo manoscritto non è privo di senso. L'espressione in questione (per con l'accusativo) può indicare l'oggetto su cui si pronuncia un giuramento (in questo caso, il riconoscimento del potere di Venere), come traduce perspicuamente Wolff: "toutes les divinités confessent par leurs temples, leurs autels, qu'elles sont soumises à ton pouvoir". È vero che generalmente gli dei formulano i loro giuramenti in nome di divinità primordiali quali Stige, Gea, Urano, come sostiene Kaufmann; ma una consuetudine non può essere considerata una regola ineludibile, tanto più che qui non vi è un giuramento vero e proprio, ma una solenne ammissione. Una variazione su una convenzione religiosa e/o letteraria non suscita sorpresa, da parte di un poeta originale come Draconzio. In alternativa, l'espressione per templa per aras può avere valore locativo, come sostiene Fabio Gasti: "solo tu sei quella che il mare, la terra e ogni divinità, sottomessa al tuo volere, professa nei templi e agli altari come signora del piacere".

Sempre nella Medea, vale la pena di soffermarsi su un passo considerato un locus desperatus dai principali editori, a partire da Vollmer. Si tratta dei versi 171-175, ricostruiti così da Zwierlein:

Horrida per Scythicas glacies stat barbara Colchis,
et iam bruma rigens Arctoi tristior axis
torpebat concreta gelu < ...……………
………………….. > et pinniger audax,
et magis accessu pueri plaga maesta serenat
aduentum testata dei.               175

Il poeta descrive l'arrivo di Cupido in Colchide. Un primo problema si pone all'inizio del v. 171: la lezione manoscritta nondum sembra creare una contraddizione col verso seguente (il v. 171 dice che non è ancora inverno, mentre il v. 172 parla di un freddo glaciale) ed è corretta, perciò, da Zwierlein in horrida. In realtà, gli opposti concetti espressi dai versi 171 e 172 non sono incompatibili: tra l'uno e l'altro occorre però un nesso avversativo; di qui la proposta (degna di attenzione) di Buecheler, che conserva nondum, ma sostituisce et con set all'inizio del v. 172. Tuttavia, a ben guardare, neppure questa garbata correzione è necessaria: la congiunzione et può avere infatti valore avversativo, come si riscontra finanche in autori classici quali Cicerone (Cato 28, et uidetis annos) e Ovidio (Trist. V, 12, 63, nec possum et cupio). Il passo manoscritto si può quindi interpretare così: "la barbara Colchide non è ancora coperta dai ghiacci invernali della Scizia e già il freddo rigido proveniente, più acuto, dal polo nord intorpidiva il paesaggio" (con tristior in posizione predicativa). Alla medesima bruma si riferisce anche l'espressione manoscritta coacta gelu, che però è metricamente incongruente: Vollmer la completa con la congiunzione enclitica: torpebatque coacta gelu, distinguendo due frasi e sottintendendo il verbo essere nella prima. D'altra parte, anche la correzione proposta da Buecheler e accolta da Zwierlein, concreta per coacta, è interessante: il significato del lemma è pressoché lo stesso, ma la frase resta una sola, più lunga e pesante.

Veniamo al problema più complesso, che si trova nel secondo emistichio del v. 173, et pinniger audax: "l'audace fanciullo alato" è il soggetto di un verbo scomparso; ciò ha spinto Vollmer a porre una crux desperationis e Kaufmann a indicare una lacuna, come fa anche Zwierlein. Forse si può trovare una soluzione. Infatti Buecheler ha intuito, secondo me giustamente, che il verbo mancante si nasconde nella corrotta congiunzione et; tuttavia la sua congettura, it, apprezzabile per il senso, implica uno iato in cesura, che non sarebbe un caso unico nella poesia tardoantica e neppure nella produzione del medesimo Draconzio (si può richiamare De laud. II, 60, dove però il fenomeno ricorre in sillaba chiusa), ma che sarebbe meglio evitare in occasione di una correzione. Per la stessa ragione, non accetterei neppure la congettura en, pur economica e paleograficamente ammissibile, formulata da Paola Paolucci nella sua recensione all'edizione di Kaufmann (ExClass 11, 2007, 497-514). Propongo allora di sostituire il verbo adfuit alla congiunzione et, in modo da guadagnare un senso compiuto ("sopraggiunse l'audace fanciullo alato, al cui arrivo quella triste terra si andava man mano rasserenando") e da ripristinare una struttura metrica regolare.

Per il testo della Orestis tragoedia, Zwierlein accoglie con profitto alcune congetture proposte da Carlo Lucarini nella sua recensione all'edizione di Grillone (GIF 60, 2008, 313-318). Per esempio: v. 20, sanantque per sanare (già interpretato poco credibilmente come "infinitif de but", dipendente dal precedente quatiunt, da Bouquet); v. 73, persoluis in luogo del persoluens di Buecheler (per colmare una breve lacuna dopo il prefisso per, nel manoscritto); v. 669, orta per quarta, in riferimento all'ablativo di tempo luce.

Tuttavia, Zwierlein si distacca da Lucarini in merito al v. 934, Pyrrhus erat raptor, uindex post bella rapinae (nell'autodifesa di Oreste), su cui dissento da entrambi. Lucarini riferisce uindex al medesimo Pirro, che sarebbe definito prima "rapitore" (scil. di Ermione) e poi "difensore del diritto alla rapina". Per inciso, non penso sussistano dubbi sul fatto che i bella siano la guerra di Troia, dopo la quale il figlio di Achille è stato ucciso da Oreste. L'interpretazione di Lucarini è impeccabile rispetto alla sintassi; ed è veramente difficile vedere Oreste nel uindex (come fanno altri filologi, compreso Grillone) nell'attuale assetto testuale. Eppure penso che il uindex sia proprio Oreste, che giustifica l'uccisione di Pirro come vendetta per il rapimento di Ermione. Un argomento, questo, perfettamente coerente con la strategia difensiva adottata da Oreste, che si presenta come vindice del padre per giustificare l'omicidio della madre. Peraltro, nel poemetto, Oreste è definito più volte uindex (v. 674, uenturus erit uindex; v. 690, uindice nato; v. 845, Inachius uindex); il termine si riferisce sempre a una vendetta di sangue e non ha mai il senso tecnico-giuridico di "difensore dei diritti".

Per attribuire legittimamente a Oreste la rivendicazione di "vindice", Zwierlein traspone il v. 934 tra i versi 924 e 925, rifacendosi a Schenkl, che ipotizzava uno spostamento ancora più invasivo (inserendo la sequenza 934, 925, 926 dopo il v. 916). Zwierlein lega così il secondo emistichio del v. 934 al primo del v. 925, iustior inuenior, producendo una frase chiara e coerente: "Pirro era un rapitore; io posso ben essere ritenuto innocente, quale vindice del rapimento". Non occorre però ribadire la necessità di evitare, se possibile, interventi di questo tipo. Per di più, il secondo emistichio del v. 925 (dum matrem uindicat ultor), strettamente legato al primo sul piano sintattico, forma col verso seguente un'unità di senso che non ha bisogno di essere completata o ampliata dal v. 934; quest'ultimo esprime anzi un concetto diverso, anche se va nella stessa direzione (la rivendicazione dell'innocenza di Oreste). Mi sembra quindi preferibile lasciare il v. 934 al suo posto, correggendo però il passo, in modo da riferire a Oreste il secondo emistichio e in particolare il termine uindex. Si potrebbe cercare un pronome come ego o ipse nascosto in un lemma corrotto, nel v. 934 o nel verso seguente: arguit unus iners quem comprobat ordo deorum. Ma forse è preferibile correggere il verbo arguit, in modo economico e paleograficamente plausibile, in argui et (con la congiunzione in funzione asseverativa): l'errore può essere stato indotto dalla sinalefe, oltre che dalla struttura della frase, in cui Pirro sembra di primo acchito l'unico soggetto. Una possibile interpretazione: "Pirro era un rapitore; dopo la guerra, io l'ho accusato, da solo, senza sotterfugi, da vindice del rapimento (in modo da vendicare il rapimento), con l'approvazione degli dei".

L'edizione di Zwierlein si chiude con due utili indici, dei nomi e dei passi degli autori citati nell'apparato critico.

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Monday, September 17, 2018


S. Douglas Olson, Eupolis, Einleitung, Testimonia und Aiges–Demoi (Frr. 1–146). Fragmenta Comica 8.1. Heidelberg: Verlag Antike, 2017. Pp. 525. ISBN 9783946317111. $113.00.

Reviewed by Mario Telò, University of California, Berkeley (mtelo@berkeley.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

When the fragments of an ancient text are unearthed from the sands of Egypt, or a forgotten manuscript containing precious glimpses of an otherwise unknown author is discovered in the dusty archives of a library, the happy event is greeted with excitement and joy that are more powerful, at least in the moment, than the underlying feeling of nostalgic separation from a lost, phantasmic "whole." Fragments, it is true, lay bare that sense of an unrecoverable lack, which is inherent in any experience of the past—including, of course, ostensibly non-mutilated, non-fragmentary ancient texts; they force us to confront multiple missing or incomplete levels of contextual knowledge. And yet these precious discoveries are experienced by many of us more as additions than as gaps.

Douglas Olson's latest Herculean labor is the final volume of a characteristically ambitious project1—a full-scale commentary on the extant fragments of Eupolis, whom the Alexandrians placed in the canonical triad of Athenian Old Comedy, together with Aristophanes and Cratinus. A project of this sort has potential to spotlight the relatively abundant corpus of a little-known author who was highly influential in antiquity. The volume, a painstaking collection of data, displays impressive erudition—what, indeed, many users look for in a commentary: linguistic explanations, verbal parallels, historical contextualizations, prosopography, a strong attention to realia. A substantial portion of this material is new and therefore welcome.

Yet the affect this commentary projects is not one of joy or excitement but rather of an anxious search for singular "economical" truths, existing in re, as it were. Textual fragments expose the openness, plurality, and provisionality of interpretation, precisely what Olson occludes while steadily barring as "guesses" or "speculation" basically any attempts to capture the imaginative texture of poetry. Though his reaction against fanciful plot reconstructions in traditional scholarship on fragmentary dramatic literature—the tendency to generate an illusory context— could have yielded a sensible methodological corrective, he ends up using the missing context as a justification for not interpreting what is there, as an excuse for not reading. Olson's generally non- or anti-interpretive approach distances his work, for example, from the commentaries of Wilamowitz and Fraenkel, the major representatives of the philological tradition that the German subtitle of the book (perhaps a self-authorizing gesture?) implicitly evokes. While Wilamowitz and Fraenkel were not afraid to take risks, to offer what might be called "speculative" suggestions, Olson seems determined to shut down meaning. I hope that in considering the several representative examples I offer below, the reader will forgive my selection of cases in which Olson disagrees with me specifically.

In his discussion of Aiges ("Goats"), Olson takes issue with my reading, in fr. 20 K–A, of aigipurros, a compound whose second element means "ruddy complexion." From the testimonia, it is clear that Eupolis used the word to mock Hipponicus, the father of Callias, the famous aristocratic bon vivant whose house is the setting of Plato's Protagoras. This adjective is also a pun on aigipuros, a red plant apparently loved by goats. In 2006 I made the suggestion that one of the points of the joke may have been that Hipponicus was "devoured" (that is, reduced to bankruptcy) by his son, comically characterized as a notorious, goat-like libertine.2 For Olson, this "is far too elaborate and tentative a thesis to carry any conviction." How a reading of a one-word fragment, an attempt to suggest one possibility of reading within the limits of the evidence, can avoid being "tentative" is unclear. As for "elaborate," another favored epithet, Olson's use of the term presupposes that what he would call "truth" (something that in his view, presumably, corresponds to authorial intention) is "plain" and "uncomplicated" (the antonyms of "elaborate" in the Merriam–Webster dictionary). From an intentionalist viewpoint, the tendency to reject readings on the basis of their being "elaborate" suggests a low opinion of ancient authors, as though they were incapable of, or uninterested in, complexity—or, alternatively, would have done better to strip it down wherever it cropped up. In the final sentence of his slim introduction, Olson disparages a somewhat complex image in the parabasis of Clouds "as a desperate attempt to tear down a rival," which "ought not necessarily to be treated as much more than that." In like manner, he postulates that ancient authors who cited Eupolis knew his work only minimally, through the mediation of rhetorical manuals. To use Olson's discursive framing, how can one "prove" this? And, more importantly, what do we gain from this negative assumption? From my non- but not anti-intentionalist point of view, meaning resides in possibilities or effects of reading, what a text, especially a comic one, conjures even beyond what we can heuristically posit as an author's intention. (It is surprising that, some 70 years after New Criticism's critique of the intentional fallacy, this still needs to be said.) Furthermore, who decides what "carries conviction"? With a presumption of scientific objectivity, Olson deploys his personal judgment to police meaning and silence other scholars.

In the case of Demes, which, thanks to its frequent citation in antiquity, is the best-preserved fragmentary play of Old Comedy, Olson rejects, on nearly every page, the suggestions I put forward in my 2007 commentary. He contests, for example, the ascription to Demes of fr. 101 KA (transmitted by P. Oxy. 863)—a comic fragment about a politically charged return from the Underworld—although, as we know from several testimonia, the play was centered precisely on this theme. This skepticism, voiced by others before him, is well taken, but, if the fragment "would better have been treated as an adespoton," why does he include it in this edition? Olson dismisses my textual supplements as "mere speculation" and my syntactical interpretation with the categorical "None of this is true."3 When I made those suggestions, I did not, of course, aspire to reconstruct what Eupolis—or, in any case, the author of this fragment—wrote, but only to indicate a possible line of interpretation, one viable train of thought. Should papyrologists and textual critics stop suggesting textual supplements, a practice that is, by definition, founded on "speculation"? As I see it, textual criticism can be a valid intellectual exercise if it acknowledges its own epistemological limitations, if it is sustained by an underlying recognition of its own provisionality. Strikingly, in a commentary that presents itself as the embodiment of traditional philology, not a single textual suggestion—emendation or supplement—is put forward. There seems to be a kind of epistemological neurosis, a quest for certainty and interpretive safety, that makes Olson shy away from offering a literary commentary—that is, from supplying suggestions for reading. Given that there is no way to "prove" that fr. 101 belongs to Demes, what should a commentator do? Olson's answer is radical lemmatization, by which each lemma is turned into little more than a dictionary or encyclopedia entry. This approach, which has the effect of aggravating decontextualization, makes it hard to recognize what is being commented on as a literary text. The question arises, why even bother? Since Olson decides to include the fragment in the book after all, a better service to the reader would probably have been a more sustained engagement with the text, based on the working hypothesis that it might have been part of Demes (something that cannot, in fact, be disproven).

Similar issues emerge in the treatment of fr. 106 KA, the only comic citation in the treatise of ps.-Longinus On the Sublime. When a character declares, "none among them, by my battle at Marathon, will rejoice while making my heart suffer," he patently appropriates the famous words of Euripides' Medea when the seed of revenge starts germinating in her mind ("by the mistress whom I revere…Hecate…none among them will rejoice while making my heart suffer" 395, 397, 398). Pseudo-Longinus presents this comic citation as written by Eupolis, but all interpreters starting with Elmsley have attributed it specifically to Demes on the basis of the speaker's reference to the battle of Marathon as his property ("my battle"), for the central action of the plot was the return from the Underworld to Athens of four major figures of the political past, including Miltiades, "one of the Athenian generals at Marathon," as Olson does not fail to note. (The others revenants were Solon, Aristides, and Pericles.) In discussing this well-established attribution, whose merit he acknowledges, Olson can't help observing that "one can also imagine a character representing the Athenian people generally…using the same language." Such hyperskepticism—in itself a form of "speculation"—in turn shapes Olson's (non-) response to the intertextuality of these extraordinary lines, where, indisputably, the voice of Medea is borrowed by a male character and used for a comically political message. Elsewhere, Olson judges intertextual reading as "extravagant." In this case he finds that "the significance of the echo is… substantially overread by Telò." Yet what constitutes "overreading" for Olson is here a rather unremarkable effort to interrogate possibilities of ideology and gender politics in an intertext in which Miltiades appropriates Medea's appropriation of an Achilles- or Ajax-like heroic code. Who, after all, establishes the significance of an echo? And isn't it at least arguably significant that this fragment, in which Medea is cited, is the only comic citation in On the Sublime? Doesn't this fact potentially tell us something about the reception of Euripides' Medea in antiquity and the ancient aesthetic perception of Eupolis? And doesn't dismissing the echo as insignificant implicitly diminish the persistence and influence of Medea's voice as such? Olson refers to the opinion of a like-minded scholar of Old Comedy, who observes that "the appropriateness of the sentiments, combined with the incongruity of giving expression to them in tragic language…is an entirely sufficient explanation" for the line. Sufficient for what or whom? All that Olson is able to offer under the label of "interpretation" (fastidiously isolated, in the structure of the commentary, from "citation context") is the conclusion that "if there is a point to the oath, it ought to be that [the speaker's enemies] potentially threaten the legacy Marathon represents." But why would there not be a point to the oath? For Olson, it seems, to venture beyond banal literalism would be unbearable "overreading."

While a full-scale commentary, even of fragments, can serve not only to broaden the horizons of those in the field but also to make works accessible to a wider scholarly audience, Olson's treatment—his negative positivism and not-so-subtle anti-intellectualism—does not do much to make Eupolis mainstream or interesting, to inspire fresh approaches to his theatrical output, or to convince the non-specialist that his corpus is even worthy of attention. His historical contextualization of Demes in 412—in line with the communis opinio that he pugnaciously defends—could have had some rewarding interpretive ramifications if it had been integrated into the analysis of the fragments. But context and text never seem to come together here, and the absence of the former generates a fundamental contempt for the latter. In what is supposed to be a general introduction to the series of commentaries, the sections on "Themes and Motifs" and "Eupolis and Other Comic Poets" each occupy roughly the same space (three to four pages) as the one on "Metrics." It is emblematic that in a 500-page volume Olson does not dedicate more space to a discursive synthesis for the benefit of the non-specialist reader. What he offers instead is cursory and not "sufficient" to render a scholarly service. The message this minimal allocation of space conveys—that the study of fragmentary literature cannot go beyond technical matters—is not uplifting for the field. Nor is the book's generally disrespectful tone—for example, a gratuitous passing reference to a scholar's "confused treatment" of a word (p. 363 n. 229).

Olson's imperious verdicts, his declarations that a particular reading "is to be rejected," could have the effect of transmitting his own fear of interpretation to others, of making them skittish about overstepping the obvious lest they suffer chastisement at the hands of Old Comedy's stern guardians. One hopes that this work and so many others like it will, despite themselves, inspire people to do better, to push the boundaries with new ideas and new approaches, to take risks.


1.   Though released last, the commentary under review is volume 1; volumes 2 and 3 were published in 2016 and 2014, respectively.
2.   Olson's objection to my reading appears unrelated to his misconstrual of it with respect to who is eating whom.
3.   At another point in the commentary, Olson refers to work on Demes as "speculative, some of it aggressively so." Given the language he uses against other scholars throughout the book, "aggressively" seems like projection.

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John V. Garner, The Emerging Good in Plato's Philebus. Rereading Ancient Philosophy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2017. Pp. xii, 180. ISBN 9780810135604. $34.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Michael Korngut, University of Western Ontario (mkorngut@uwo.ca)

Version at BMCR home site


This book is divided into two parts, each containing two chapters. Part I includes the subtitle Basic Dialectical Concepts, and contains Chapters One and Two: "The Learning Procedure" (5-35); and "The Mixed Life and Its Causes" (37-66). Part II, with the subtitle Pure Pleasure and Knowledge in the Order of the Good Life, contains Chapters Three and Four: "The Intrinsic Goodness of Pure Pleasure" (69-101); and "Purity and the Sciences" (103-40). There is also a brief conclusion with the subtitle Why Should the Good Come to Be? (141-4).

As Garner observes in his opening lines, unlike some other works by Plato, "the Philebus is far from a dramatic masterpiece" (ix). And while the dialogue was hugely influential during the rise of Italian Renaissance Neoplatonism,1 perhaps this is one reason why today, familiarity with the dialogue, even among those who consider themselves somewhat well versed in Plato, cannot be assumed. Overall, the majority of literature on pleasure in the Philebus tends to be narrow in scope, concentrating on interpreting the dialogue's account of false pleasures (ψευδεῖς ἡδοναί; cf. 40c-50e). This is certainly the case concerning the plethora of literature produced in this millennium.2 Thus the initial observation to make about Garner's work is that it sets itself apart from the pack in this regard, instead devoting itself to the Philebus' account of pure (καθαρός) pleasures, skipping over the difficulties and controversies surrounding false pleasures almost entirely. I make this observation here, just in case a potential reader should have the not unreasonable expectation that, as a monograph dedicated to exploring value and pleasure in the Philebus, a substantial analysis of false pleasures would be contained within it.

But, beyond this, Garner's reading of the Philebus in fact offers a radical challenge to conventional views of Plato's whole ontology. For Garner argues that this is a dialogue that challenges the priority of Being and, as he says, "steps in as becoming's advocate" (144). According to Garner, the Philebus argues that the Good, aside from being a precondition for and cause of the world of becoming, is something that also emerges into the world on the back of human engagement in dialectic, and the pleasure we take in such an experience. In the world of becoming, the goodness of pure pleasure comprises "a sufficiency that in its pure immanence, imports the hope of the transcendent" (144).

Epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics are of course intimately interwoven in Plato, and the Philebus bears heavily on all three. The dialogue, framed as an investigation into the ingredients that comprise the best lived life, also introduces a novel, or at least a nuanced, version of collection and division as a methodology, and a fourfold division of what exists in the universe.

In Part I, Garner reads the methodological and ontological sections as Plato's presentation of the necessary features of true inquiry, i.e., what is necessary to provide a true account of an object, to engage in proper dialectic. Key for Garner is his claim that these sections of the dialogue show us that for Plato, "a genuine account of something, for example, a definition, could never be true unless what it accounts for can be manifest as a multiplicity" (5). Garner sees a demonstration of this in the dramatic context of Socrates nudging his hedonist interlocutor Protarchus towards admitting that pleasure, as a genus, is varied, against Protarchus' inclination that commitment to the principle that pleasure is the only good must entail that all pleasures are equal and thus an undifferentiable unity. Thus, for Garner, when Plato speaks of dialectic as "positing and searching for the metaphorical number of something through discourse" (141), the "number" in question involves the appearance of the thing as multiple: "A true intellection or coming to know of any such object, to grasp the 'thing as truly itself in every way', i.e. the pinnacle and essence of dialectic, requires that the learner will become comfortable with witnessing such objects, although posited as a unity, to appear as multiple or multifaceted" (5). Garner sees a further demonstration of this when Socrates and Protarchus are inquiring into whether the life comprised exclusively of reason, or the life comprised exclusively of pleasure could, as theoretically constituted, be in possession of the good (εἶχε τἀγαθόν, 22b3). Both candidates are rejected by granting the appearance of the good as multiple, as sufficiency and perfection (ἱκανὸς καὶ τέλεος, 22b4). Since both lives are revealed to be lacking in these characteristics, neither could be the good life.

The remainder of Part I focuses on a second aspect of a thing's "metaphorical number" that must be involved in a true account of it. Parsing out this second aspect is what goes on to ground Garner's presentation in Part II of pure pleasure as both "wholly" and intrinsically good, and emergent. For Garner, this second aspect is the proper measure, understood as a norm, of an object of inquiry, with that object, as it exists within the universe (πάντα τὰ νῦν ὄντα ἐν τῷ παντί, 23c3), understood as a mixture.

Dramatically, Socrates comes to introduce the classes of the unlimited (ἄπειρον), limit (πέρας), mixture (ἐκ τούτων… μεικτὴν καὶ γεγενημένην, 27b9-c1), and reason (νοῦς) as cause (αἰτία), after positing a third candidate, the mixed life of pleasure and knowledge, as the good life, and hinting that the investigation has transitioned into whether pleasure or knowledge is more responsible for causing goodness in the good life. Garner argues that Socrates introduces the universe as a case study to serve two purposes. First, since mixtures, as a genus, arise as harmonious generations that connote due measure (when limit combines with the unlimited in a very particular way), it establishes reason as the divine cause that facilitates the emergence of goodness in the world of becoming, appearing as a manifold of proportion (συμμετρία), beauty (κάλλος) and truth (ἀλήθεια). And second, it establishes that true accounting involves recognizing the measure, the limit that is appropriate to any given object of study. Providing an account, the "number" of the good life, as a mixture, involves locating the measure or order of it; seeking both the number of its causes, pleasure being one among them, and what portion of goodness each cause is responsible for contributing.

For Garner, an account of how pleasure causes goodness in the good life is also part of, or perhaps derived from, the account, i.e. the "metaphorical number," of the good itself.

In Part II, at the outset of Chapter Three, Garner presents a list that appears at the end of the dialogue (66b-d), which he reads as "The Ranking of 'Possessions' Causing Goodness to Emerge in the Mixture" (69). Each member on the list "share[s] in causing the overall order to emerge with measure" (95). For Garner's purposes, the placement of this list here puts the learning process, and the pure pleasures that accompany it, center-stage for the remainder of his book. This is because ranking fifth on the list, after things like measure (μέτρον) and reason, are the pure pleasures that follow (ἕπεσθαι) science (ἐπιστήμη) or perception (αἴσθησις).

What separates pure pleasures from all others is that they are painless (ἄλυπος, 66c). Pain or lack, i.e. ignorance in the case of learning, does exist, but the soul is unaware of this lack, and the reality of one's ignorance is unperceived until the pleasure has been taken and the ignorance has been replaced by a lesson learned (Garner reads Plato's 'disintegration and restoration' model of pain and pleasure as operative in the Philebus).3 It is the painlessness of pure pleasures that, for Garner, instantiates their complete goodness. The emergence of pure pleasure embodies a progressive attunement of the soul in accordance with the normative standard natural to it, i.e. its capacity for knowledge, thus constituting eminent goodness. The learning process, and the pure pleasure attendant on it, is an "experience of coming to psychical order" and "is also soul's emergence beyond the extant self into the power of the new, that is, into νοῦς (intellect), that is, into the noetic, creative power that, by definition, always brings order and defines itself strictly in light of the measure itself" (93-4). Learning, and experiencing that process as pleasurable, generates "a mode of measure," a "norm" for the soul, "never yet accessed and instituted-into-becoming" (94). Pure pleasure thus makes "an active contribution" to the good life "due to the way it signals the arrival of the true measure" in the soul (94-5). For Garner, pure pleasure is thus wholly good, and wholly emergent.

The most succinct way to flesh out Garner's presentation of the learning process and pure pleasure may be to invoke a presentation of the learning process as a microcosmic instantiation of the four-class ontology expounded earlier in the dialogue. Just as cosmic or divine reason causes the emergence of harmonious mixtures when an appropriate limit is imposed upon a member of the unlimited class, the faculty of human reason actively causes the generation of goodness, appropriate measure, i.e. one's own psychical attunement, to emerge during the learning process. The learning process plays a critical role in this presentation, because, for Garner, the activity of enjoying the pure pleasure of learning is when the soul "appropriates the lesson actively and shares in changing its own existing order" (93). There is a metaphysical 'taking the lesson to heart' (or soul!), as Garner reads Plato.

The passion Garner brings to his research is clearly evident, and the thesis of this book is stimulating and provocative. I understand his passing over an analysis of false pleasures; avoiding that briar patch allows Garner to argue for his thesis in a direct and fluid manner. But given the prevalence of belief in the Philebus' phenomenology of pleasure, I find it quite unfortunate that the book lacks any account whatsoever of belief, particularly as it: (1) fits into the phenomenology of the learning process, as the deficient epistemic state that typically precedes knowledge; and (2) constitutes, arguably, the object of some pleasures (the thing enjoyed by the enjoyer, ᾧ τὸ ἡδόμενον ἥδεται, 37a9). Garner even identifies the agent's "judgement" that select sensuous schemata exhibit the "idea and very possibility that measure can come to be in the descending strata of existence" as what pleases the agent, which, as stated, seems to pick out at least one, if not two beliefs that have roles to play in the enjoyment of pure pleasures of perception (132-3).


1.   See M. Allen, Marsilio Ficino: The Philebus Commentary. A Critical Edition and Translation (Berkley: University of California Press, 1975).
2.   See Garner's rather exhaustive bibliography (167-75).
3.   See D. Frede, 'Disintegration and Restoration: Pleasure and Pain in Plato's Philebus', in R. Kraut (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plato (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 425-63.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018


R. Joy Littlewood, A Commentary on Silius Italicus' Punica 10. Edited with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. lxxix, 265. ISBN 9780198713814. $120.00.

Reviewed by Sergio Casali, University of Rome "Tor Vergata" (casali@uniroma2.it)

Version at BMCR home site


R. Joy Littlewood has already published a commentary on Silius' Punica 7 (Oxford 2011, reviewed BMCR 2013.10.11). Now a commentary on book 10 follows, which is structured more or less in the same way: a substantial introduction, text and apparatus of Delz's 1987 Teubner edition, and a commentary, with the main difference that this new book also comprises a facing translation of the text. The back cover says that "this commentary offers both philological and stylistic exegesis alongside historical analysis and up to date literary criticism." This is true only as far as regards the last two items of the list, historical analysis and, above all, literary criticism; from a philological point of view, this book exhibits major shortcomings.

The Introduction (64 pages) is divided into seven sections. The first section, on Silius' life and career, is a new version of that contained at the beginning of Littlewood's edition of Pun. 7. The second section is devoted to an analysis of Silius' adaptation of Livy in Pun. 10. Section 3 offers a treatment of the characters who are the protagonists of the battle of Cannae and of its aftermath: L. Aemilius Paulus, P. Cornelius Scipio, Q. Fabius Maximus, and Hannibal. Section 4 takes its cue from the last two lines of Pun. 10, where the poet, having narrated the resurrection of the Romans' morale after the defeat of Cannae, expresses the wish that Carthage were still standing, if after its fall Rome were to change her moral values. Starting from here, Littlewood discusses the themes of empire, luxus, and civil war in Silius and more generally in post-Virgilian epic. Section 5 is dedicated to Silius' epic style, with discussions of the structure of Pun. 10, of Silius' language and style, of the rhetoric of the speeches, and of similes. Section 6 treats metrical and prosodic aspects of the text. The concluding section is a brief excursus on its transmission and reception.

There follows Delz's text and apparatus, preceded by three pages of 'Sigla', which L. declares she has drawn from Delz's 'Praefatio' (p. lxxvii): we find listed the sigla of the codices and of the ancient editions (XV-XVI century) used by Delz, followed by a bibliography of the works Delz quotes in his apparatus.1 Unfortunately, this section has been adapted quite carelessly from Delz's preface, and is full of misprints and mistakes.2

The text is connected to the apparatus not in the usual way, but through footnotes, an unwelcome (and poorly executed) novelty: the overlap of the numbers of the notes with that of the lines is a source of constant confusion (the press is to be blamed for this). The commentary is apparently well-organized. Littlewood lemmatizes one or more lines and then offers her observations, which usually include (besides a "second" translation) an explicative paraphrase of the sentences under discussion, some basic stylistic remarks, and comments on literary and historical issues; inter- and intratextuality are Littlewood's dominant interests, and her notes are full of subtle observations on Silius' references to other authors and to other passages of his own poem. Sometimes Littlewood wanders a little too much from her point, but in general the literary aspect of Silius' text is well covered.

Philological exegesis is a different matter. Littlewood handles with difficulty the interpretation of Delz's text and apparatus. Consider for example the three passages in which Delz signals that in his view the text is irremediably corrupt:

112-13 iamque suis daret ut pugnae documentauocantis† | <……> | et medias hasta uelox praeteruolat auras: this is the text of Delz, also printed by Littlewood In her commentary, however, Littlewood lemmatizes the two lines without the cruces and without signalling the lacuna. She writes: "Delz decides in favour of the present participle uocantis which completes the formal idiom pugna uocare, to solicit single combat, found in Virg. Aen. 12.125." No: Delz, obelizing uocantis, obviously does not accept it, and even rightly admonishes in the apparatus that we should not use Aen. 12.125 in order to justify pugnae … uocantis here.

175 unde genustristisque deaemanabat origo: here too Littlewood does not reproduce the cruces in her lemma, and wrongly refers to "Delz's decision to follow the MSS with tristis deae." The rest of Littlewood's note is also wrong.

608-11: in line 609 †uacuis† is clearly impossible, since the shore is said to be full of people (610-12); Delz in his apparatus records the conjecture patriis of Damsté, and his own notis and (solus)que suis ("i. et ad cives suos solus"). Littlewood prints Delz's text and apparatus, lemmatizes uacuis between asterisks (not cruces), and incredibly comments: "The image of a solitary figure is crucial and Delz's conjecture of uacuis for the corrupt part of line 609 convincingly emphasizes the lonely desolation of the shore."

Other cases in which Littlewood gives an apparently wrong interpretation of the text or of Delz's apparatus include the following:

31-2: it is highly improbable that inclinato cornu can refer to the Carthaginian wing when the prima acies is Roman; this wing will be that of Paulus himself, as Spaltenstein says. Furthermore, sine more ruebat associated with non parca fugae cannot mean that the Romans' first line "surged forward precipitously" or "rushed forward with reckless speed." It cannot but refer to a retreat and a flight of the Romans' front line.

67-8: sinit is problematic, and probably corrupt. In her translation, Littlewood would seem to presuppose furit (printed by Duff): "So Hannibal is filled with battle-rage, is he? Strong enough to challenge Jupiter?"; but in her note she translates: "So I suppose Hannibal now has the power to wage war against Jupiter himself," or, "literally": "Suppose the Carthaginian allows that he's (such a man who is) strong enough to attack Jupiter himself." I am not sure I understand what Littlewood exactly means.

173-4: it is highly improbable that iacet has the meaning Littlewood assigns to it: the verb clearly refers to, and anticipates, the death of Phorcys which the poet is about to recount, as confirmed by "the slight echo of Virgil's Priam (Aen. 2.558: iacet ingens litore truncus)."

178-80: Littlewood's translation leaves incumbens out; in her note, she translates instead: "While (Phorcys), bearing down fiercely, aimed a blow in his left groin," but uiolentius qualifies dum laeuum petit … inguen (as to this her preceding translation is correct), not incumbens, which here has not "the broad sense of pressing an attack," but instead means that Phorcys "se penche pout frapper, en se tendant en avant" (Spaltenstein). And while "dragged him to the ground" is a correct translation of detrahat ("lo tira giù," Vinchesi), "dragged him backwards" (Littlewood in her note, my emphasis) is not.

190-2: actam in caedes aciem is the Roman battalion, not the Carthaginian one, and totis mentibus is to be taken closely not with praecipitant, but with actam … aciem: "Then they (the Numidians), from behind and throwing themselves against the backs (of the Romans), crush the (Roman) troops which were engrossed in the carnage"; cf. Livy 22.48.3-4. Duff's translation is similarly wrong; Spaltenstein and Vinchesi give the right interpretation.

240: surely not: "he … sat …, a terrible sight with his face streaming blood above his shield" (L.), but: "he sat down upon his shield, a formidable figure with his gory face" (Duff).

247-9: Damsté's conjecture is not discussed in the commentary; perfidus ensis is awkwardly translated as "his deadly sword"; peruius, which is not found "in some MSS," but in all of them, if we trust Delz's apparatus, is improperly defined as "lectio difficilior." Morevoer, cf. Delz, "Nachlese zu Silius Italicus," MH 54 (1997) 163-74, at 168-9.

264: not: "Lentulus was distraught, and ashamed of his flight," but, as Delz explains in his apparatus rejecting Blass' rediit: "mens, sc. fugiendi, abiit": Lentulus was leaving the battlefield, but, seeing Paulus wounded, changed his mind. The Ovidian passages quoted by Littlewood are pseudo-parallels.

420-1: Littlewood misunderstands Delz's apparatus: exilio collectis is not "his suggestion," but the text unanimously transmitted by the MSS, that he wants to leave untouched because of Aen. 2.798 collectam exilio pubes. (Delz's suggestion, instead, is that two hemistichs are fallen after collectis, and that <contemptus> Marte is to be supplied.) Littlewood's translation is unsatisfactory and does not seem to cohere with what she says in her note.

538-9: Littlewood refers Titania … | orbita to the moon (not impossible in itself), with no comment; in the apparatus one reads: "Titania … orbita i. solaris currus, v. Häkanson et adde Lucan. 9, 691." Spaltenstein discusses the issue.

643-4: "They were determined to restore to life the kingdom of Aeneas," Littlewood, following Duff; rather, "they were determined to bring back the kingdom of Aeneas under the laws of destiny," i.e. to bring back Rome to those fata which gave her world dominion (as Vinchesi lucidly explains).

Besides almost never discussing the textual variants or the conjectures signalled in Delz's apparatus or printed by him in his text, Littlewood almost never discusses the interpretations of her predecessors, and Silius' exegetical tradition is ignored (only rarely she refers to Spaltenstein, sometimes in a confused or wrong way: see for example the note on 389-90; Maria Assunta Vinchesi's excellent Italian translation (Milan 2001) is never mentioned); whereas the bibliography on literary issues is up-to-date, Littlewood does not quote any articles on textual matters. Furthermore, the book could have been edited more carefully, since we find a few misprints, especially in the Latin quotations.3 There are also other minor inaccuracies.4

To sum up, this is an uneven work: Littlewood is very good on literary matters, especially on issues of intra- and intertextuality, but also on broader issues of characterization and cultural significance; her notes often develop into interesting mini-essays, with in-depth comparative analyses of the historiographic sources. As an example of Littlewood's cleverness as a literary critic, one can refer to the shrewd observations she often makes on the significance of proper names: see for example on the names of Crista (p. 77), Luca (p. 87), Telesinus (p. 89), Galba (p. 99), Curio (p. 103), Paulus himself ("There is wordplay on Paulus' name in the phrase nec parua … imago as there is in the contiguity of Paulo and ingens in line 305," p. 127). One feels, however, that perhaps Littlewood could have written a monograph instead than a commentary, since she does not seem totally comfortable with the practices of textual criticism and philological exegesis. ​


1.   No departures are signalled from Delz's text, though there is a divergence at line 382, where Littlewood reads credidit instead of creditur; the apparatus ad loc. should have been modified as well.
2.   v means "editions Venetae annis 1483, 1492, 1493"; in the bibliography items are absent that are subsequently quoted in the apparatus (and are correctly present in Delz's list; e.g. Henry's Aeneidea, quoted in the apparatus to line 579; W. S. Watt, BICS 31 (1984) 153-60, quoted in the apparatus to line 302, etc.); titles are misquoted (Damsté wrote "Notulae," not "Notae"); surnames are misspelled ("Håkansson," twice); references are wrong: Damsté's relevant article is not the one in Mnemosyne 38 (1910) 115-26, but that in 39 (1911) 113-14; Summers' is not CR 14 (1900) 48-50, but ibid. 305-9; etc.
3.   p. lxxiii: De primo bello Punica; p. 98: instead of uictim read uicti; p. 104: instead of Hadriana read Hadriaca; p. 123: instead of partum read patrum; p. 151: instead of nostrum read nostram; p. 173: instead of permit read premit (in the lemma itself); p. 180: instead of accepit read adspexit (again, in the lemma).
4.   Sometimes Littlewood lemmatizes and comments on a different text from that of Delz that she herself prints: see lines 474, 529, 554.

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Mirjam E. Kotwick, Alexander of Aphrodisias and the Text of Aristotle's 'Metaphysics'. California Classical Studies, no. 4. Berkeley: California Classical Studies, 2016. Pp. xvi, 339. ISBN 9781939926067. $39.95 (pb).

Reviewed by José C.​ Baracat, Jr., Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (baracatjr@hotmail.com)

Version at BMCR home site

Open access version

Kotwick's dense, highly technical book—the revised version of her doctoral dissertation—is an exhaustive philological investigation into all preserved parts of Alexander of Aphrodisias' commentary on the Metaphysics as a witness to the transmission and textual history of this work of Aristotle's in antiquity.1

Since the book has numerous subdivisions and each step of the investigation relies upon extensive and detailed philological discussion that does not allow summarized simplifications, this review will provide only a description of its contents and results. I urge the reader to access the free online version of the book in order to follow Kotwick's demonstrations.

After the introductory chapters on the textual historiwa of the Metaphysics and of Alexander's commentary and the scope and methodology of the investigation (pp. 1-32), three long and complex chapters delineate the importance of Alexander's commentary for the understanding of the transmission of the Metaphysics text. In the third chapter (pp. 33-98), studying the evidence in the lemmata, quotations, paraphrases and critical discussion, Kotwick shows how Alexander's text can give access to a much older and more authentic version of the Metaphysics than the version accepted by the direct transmission. Determining that the text used by Alexander and the ancestor of the direct transmission are two independent witnesses to the Metaphysics is a decisive step leading to this conclusion. Before turning to the analysis of the errors that separate Alexander's text and the ancestor of α and β in the next chapter, Kotwick studies Alexander's reports of variant readings. Among the variant readings known to Alexander are corrupt readings that are the same as readings found in the ancestor of α and β. The author's conclusion is that Alexander knew of a few readings that differ from his own text and that stem from other versions of the Metaphysics. However, it is important to stress, Alexander knows about these variant readings from earlier scholars and commentators such as Aspasius or from notes in the margins or between the lines of the text he uses. On the basis of this, Kotwick proves that Alexander's access to the ancestor of α and β was limited and confined to occasional variant readings (pp. 70-89).

The relation between the text used by Alexander and the ancestor of α and β is developed in the fourth chapter (pp. 99- 178). Examining the peculiar errors that these different versions of the Metaphysics share or do not share, Kotwick is able to display the independence of Alexander's text. She first examines separative errors present in the ancestor of α and β that are not shared by Alexander's text to confirm that the latter is not a copy of the first (pp. 99-124). Next, she analyzes separative errors present in Alexander's text of the Metaphysics that are not shared by the ancestor α and β, and so she is able to assert that the latter is not a descendent of the first (pp. 124-138). Further, in the fourth chapter, Kotwick establishes that Alexander's text is a criterion for priority in the cases in which the readings of α and β diverge from one another. She first studies examples of separative errors present in α that β and Alexander's text do not share (pp. 140-157), and, then, examples of separative errors in β that α and Alexander's text do not share (pp. 157-167). The reason for this is that the agreement of Alexander's text with one of the two readings of α or β is a crucial criterion for identifying the older reading that has been given in the ancestor of α and β. Kotwick thus finds out which of the two divergent readings of α and β is confirmed by the evidence in Alexander's commentary to be the reading of the ancestor of α and β, and then shows that this is the preferable and most likely correct reading.

While the previous chapter studied the relation between the text of the Metaphysics used by Alexander (which can be reconstructed through his quotations, paraphrases and comments) and the transmission of this work of Aristotle's, the fifth chapter investigates the relationship between Alexander's commentary and the text of the direct transmission (pp. 178-278). First, and admirably, Kotwick demonstrates that Alexander's commentary influenced the ancestor of α and β such that his reformulations or suggested corrections were incorporated into it at a point before its split into the traditions α and β (pp. 178-206). The great success of Alexander's commentary (written around 200 AD) as the principal commentary on Aristotle's work can explain the influence it had on the transmission of the Metaphysics text during the subsequent centuries. Such influence—which Kotwick rightly claims to be the first to trace (p. 280)—allows her not only to rule out Werner Jaeger's assumption that Alexander already had at his disposal both versions α and β, but also to give a more precise dating of the ancestor of α and β: it must have emerged between 250 AD (the time when the importance of Alexander's commentary could first have been established) and 400 AD.

In the following pages, Kotwick turns to the influence of Alexander's commentary on traditions α and β separately. Regarding tradition β (pp. 207-241), her study allows a more comprehensible view of how the commentary shaped parts of the β-version. Oliver Primavesi (Kotwick's supervisor) has shown that words and phrases from Alexander's commentary were incorporated into the first book of the Metaphysics in the β-version. His study of the character of this influence led him to conclude that the inclusion of these words and phrases was the result of deliberate editorial revision of the Metaphysics text. Kotwick's study, in its turn, shows that such influence can be detected in several passages throughout books A- Δ. The influence Alexander had on the text of β can be connected with the revision process that this version likely underwent before 400 AD (as argued by Frede/Patzig and by Primavesi). Kotwick's study of the tradition α (pp. 241-259) also confirms that Alexander's commentary had influence even on the α-text, although the traces of contamination found in the α-text are less numerous then those found in the β-text. There are two types of contamination in this case: either Alexander's reformulations of an Aristotelian sentence were incorporated into the α-text, or his remarks about possible improvements to the Metaphysics text resulted in a change of the α-reading. According to the evidence found by Kotwick, the contamination of α is mainly confined to book A of the Metaphysics, with the exception of the contamination that occurs in Δ 10.

In addition to the short, but extremely useful, sixth chapter (pp. 279-281), in which Kotwick summarizes the results of her investigation, the book offers four appendices: i) a diagram of the ancient Greek tradition of the Metaphysics; ii) a list of the 296 lemmata in Alexander's commentary and the relation of each one of them to the direct transmission of the Metaphysics (i.e. α, β, and their common ancestor); iii) a list of 579 quotations from the Metaphysics text that Alexander provides in his commentary and the relation of each one of them to the direct transmission; and iv) a list of a selection of 341 paraphrases in Alexander's commentary, restricted to the passages where the readings of α and β differ substantially.

Kotwick's book is richly documented, extremely well-organized, and methodologically very solid. Without reserve, it may be said to be brilliant, a landmark for future editions and textual studies of Aristotle's Metaphysics and Alexander's commentary. This book is indispensable for Aristotelian and Alexandrian scholars, but it will also be a source of great delight for anyone interested in philosophical philology.


1.   Some information is needed in order to assure that the rest of this review is intelligible:

1) Besides the commentary on Met. A-Δ, Arabic fragments of the commentary on book Λ were preserved by Averroes. The commentary on books E-N has been transmitted under Alexander's name, but he is not its author.
2) The archetype of the Metaphysics, containing the 14 books we now have, dates from the first century BC. The copies from it that we know of are the version Alexander used when writing his commentary circa 200 AD and a version from before the end of the fourth century AD. The latter version became the ancestor of the two independent families of manuscripts of the direct transmission of the Metaphysics, which begins in the ninth century AD.
3) Kotwick employs the sigla α and β for the hyparchetypes of these families, and I will follow her here. Manuscripts of α mentioned in the book are: Parisinus gr. 1853; Vindobonensis phil. gr. 100; Vatincanus gr. 255; Parisinus Coisl. 161. And manuscripts of β are: Parisinus Suppl. 687; Laurentianus plut. 87,12; Ambrosianus F 113 sup.; Vaticanus gr. 115; Taurinensis B VII 23; Vindobonensis phil. gr. 189.
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Emanuele Greco (ed.), Giornata di studi in ricordo di Luigi Beschi / Ημερίδα εις μνήμην του Luigi Beschi: Italiano, Filelleno, Studioso Internazionale. Atti della Giornata di Studi, Atene 28 novembre 2015. Tripodes, 17. Atene: Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene, 2017. Pp. 316. ISBN 9789609559089. €69.00.

Reviewed by Kevin Clinton, Cornell University (kmc1@cornell.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of contents is at the end of the review.]

This volume honors a scholar whose expertise extended across an extraordinary range of fields of Hellenic studies—archaeology, architecture, topography, history, art history, music, and religion. All who knew him were touched by his kindness and humanity, noted by Emanuele Greco in his Premessa: "si tratta della sua affabilità, della sua cortesia: in breve Luigi era un vero signore e viene perciò naturale definirlo 'archeologo gentiluomo.'"

This review will discuss articles on the Greek historical period.

In "Επεισόδια από τη ζωή του Σαλαμινίου Αίαντος και απόπειρες αποκρυπτογράφησης των μηνυμάτων τους," Michalis Tiverios treats the significance of voting scenes in the competition between Salaminian Ajax and Odysseus over the arms of Achilles (κρίσις τῶν ὅπλων)—scenes that occur only in the first two decades of the fifth century B.C., on red-figured kylixes by Douris , the Brygos Painter and Makron. . The well preserved cups by Douris and the Brygos Painter clearly show scenes of voting with ψῆφοι, overseen by Athena, whereas Makron's depiction, preserved only in fragments, is more puzzling: one fragment (f) shows Diomedes (labeled) and Athena standing next to a table with voting pebbles; another fragment (a) preserves two bearded figures identified by inscriptions as Agamemnon and Nestor (the former holds up a pebble between thumb and forefinger, the latter extends his palm to receive it); and a third fragment (c) contains a bearded figure labeled as Tydeus. However, the scene with Agamemnon and Nestor (a) is completely unlike other renderings of deposition of pebbles in voting; the author persuasively argues that it does not refer to the decision about the arms of Achilles but rather to the Greeks' lottery to choose an opponent to Hector as in Iliad H 171-192. Thus one side of the vase has the voting scene to determine the recipient of the arms of Achilles, the other side the lottery to determine the opponent of Hector. (This assumes that the figure labeled ΤΥΔΕΥΣ, who belongs to the generation preceding that of Agamemnon and Nestor, should have been inscribed ΤΥΔΕΩΣ, "son of Tydeus," Diomedes, who, because of his presence in the voting scene (f), should belong to the lottery event on the other side of the vase.)

The appearance of such scenes on vases in the first decades of the 5th century and never again was motivated, as Tiverios reasonably speculates, by the prominence of decisions by vote and lot in the newly constituted democracy: the mythology reflects democratic practice. In the case of the kylix by Makron the lottery scene reflects precisely κλήρωσις ἐκ προκρίτων, a prominent procedure in the early decades of the Cleisthenic democracy. Tiverios interprets the predominance of voting (as opposed to lottery) scenes among the preserved depictions as reflecting the fact that voting at Athens was reserved for choosing the more important officials and for decisions by the Demos, Boule, and courts. As a final comment, he notes that the mythological figures in voting scenes do not display their warrior status, but wear himatia and often hold canes (bakteriai), also given to Athenian jurors to identify the specific courts to which they are assigned; they are in effect assimilated to Athenians in democratic Athens.

In the longest article in the volume, "Το τρόπαιον του Μαραθώνος, αρχιτεκτονική τεκμηρίωση," Manolis Korres gives a fascinating analysis of the architectural clues that he used to reconstruct the original design of the Trophy (the basis for the replica set up in 2004) and the evidence for the history of the monument, from its presumable beginning as a tree trunk set up immediately after the battle. (Unfortunately, pls. 7, 9, and 12 are cropped too much.) After recounting the critical work by William Leake, Eugene Vanderpool, and Beschi associating remains at Marathon with the Trophy, he hypothetically identifies, on the basis of various indications from the finds and terrain, its original location at the spot where the Persians should have begun their retreat (τροπή). Discussion of the stylistic characteristics of the unfluted Ionic column (including a helpful lesson on the production and economics of fluted and unfluted marble columns) leads to the conclusion, in agreement with Vanderpool, that the monument should be dated in the Cimonian period (second quarter of the 5th century). A similar column in the Cimonian Propylon on the Acropolis serves as a guide to the reconstruction of the base, column, and capital of the Trophy. In 2004, a few days after the erection of the replica, the author made an important discovery: two new fragments of a rectangular element (which he calls an επίθημα) situated above, and integral with, the abacus. It served as a base with a cavity for insertion of a statue. The new fragments reveal that the επίθημα is much larger than previously assumed, and its cavity held a plinth measuring ca. 137 cm. (length), 47 cm. (width), ca. 9 cm. (thickness), appropriate for a statue twice life-sized, such as the representation of Athena on Panathenaic vases.

Ida Baldassare, "Cirene e la Grecia nelle ricerche di Luigi Beschi," has the special merit of calling attention to a funerary phenomenon that Beschi treated at length: a female bust inserted into the top of a stone sarcophagus or the roof of a tomb. These figures occur in Cyrene from the beginning of the fifth century to the mid first century, but in many examples an aniconic column takes the place of a fully sculpted face. The figure, emerging as if from the ground, is reminiscent of anodos scenes; Beschi interpreted her as Persephone. His typology of these figures shows that in a given type both an aprosopic and a fully sculpted figure can occur.

The iconography of the frieze of the Ionic temple on the Ilissos—a notoriously difficult subject—is taken up by Bruno d'Agostino in "I Pelasgi e Atene: il tempietto dell'Ilisso." Following in large part F. Studniczka, who in 1916 interpreted the scene on slabs A-C as the arrival of the Pelasgians in Attica, Beschi suggested it should rather show the later expulsion of the Pelasgians from Attica, for mistreating Athenian children as they were fetching water from the Enneakrounos and for plotting to attack the city (Hdt. 6.137). Further following Studniczka, he interpreted slabs D-E as representing the Pelasgians, who had fled to Lemnos, now avenging their expulsion by abducting Athenian women at Brauron to take back to Lemnos (Hdt. 6.138). The author concedes that in spite of Beschi's many excellent observations, it is undeniable that his interpretation is "un atto di arbitrio," thus agreeing with Olga Palagia, who recounted the history of scholarship on the frieze and concluded: "All interpretations of the frieze are bound to sound arbitrary since only a fraction of the material has come down to us."1

In the second longest article, "Litora rara, et celsa Cabirum delubra. Luigi Beschi e gli scavi nel santuario di Choi," Maria Chiara Monaco provides an excellent account of the history of the excavation of Hephaestia's extra muros sanctuary of the Kabiroi. A simple list of her section headings illustrates the scope of her account: "Dalle segnalazioni settecentesche agli scavi pre-bellici." "Dal 1949 al 1982: saggi e pulizie del dopoguerra." "L'edizione del Corpus delle fonti letterarie..." "…ed epigrafiche." "Il rinvenimento del più antico 'Telesterio'; "Il deposito di ceramiche tardo-geometriche ed arcaiche." "Le iscrizioni di età arcaica graffite o/e dipinte su ceramica." "Lo hiatus di età classica e l'immenso scarico di ceramiche (V secolo a.C.—inizio del II secolo d.C.)." "Graffiti, lettere dipinte, bolli di età classica, ellenistica e romana." "Dai materiali al rito." "La pianta riletta e completata: il Telesterio di età ellenistica." "La pianta riletta e completata: il Telesterio tardo-romano."

In conclusion she expresses her confidence that continuation of research at Chloi will shed much greater light on the complex archaeology of the sanctuary and on its cult, including the problem of the Τυρρηνοί for which Beschi's work has become indispensable. For anyone wishing to study those two topics her article would be an optimal starting point, as its footnotes facilitate access to Beschi's work published in a multitude of articles, and it is also accompanied by an extensive bibliography of studies by many other scholars..

In the final article, "La pubblicazione del santuario arcaico di Efestia: Luigi Beschi e la promessa mantenuta," Emanuele Greco summarizes the excavation history of the important archaic sanctuary on the acropolis of Hephaistia, carried out in 1926-1931 and by Beschi in 1977-1984, fully published by the latter in two lengthy articles in ASAA 2005 (which appeared in 2008). Greco emphasizes the fundamental importance of these studies as well as Beschi's publications on the Kabirion for the future of research on Hephaistia. In the archaic sanctuary the presence of wells, dedications of models of fountains, and finds relating to women suggested to Beschi that the cult was that of the great mother goddess Lemnos, "wife of Hephaistos and mother of the Cabiri."2 Greco mentions the recent discovery of two other sanctuaries: one under the theater of Hephaistia, excavated by Aglaia Archontidou-Argyri, not yet published, which yielded an important new text in a non-Greek language (pl. III.2), recently discussed by Carlo de Simone;3 the other located on the isthmus separating the Gulf of Pournias from the Gulf of Ekaton Kephales, which went out of use around the end of the 6th century/beginning of the 5th. Preliminary analysis suggests dining and initiations ("most probably ephebic"); an especially interesting find is a figure, ca. 1 m. in length, incised on a block, perhaps an ithyphallic satyr or an archaic herm.

This volume of articles in such a wide array of disciplines is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary scholar. It includes an apparently complete bibliography of Beschi's publications.

Table of Contents

Premessa / Emanuele Greco
Bibliografia di Luigi Beschi / Gli allievi della SAIA
Luigi Beschi: l'occhio dell'archeologo / Salvatore Settis
Luigi Beschi e Louis Fauvel / Alessia Zambon
Il contributo di Luigi Beschi agli studi sul collezionismo e sull'archeologia delle Venezie / Irene Favaretto – Francesca Ghedini
Oggetti dai primi scavi a Santorino nella collezione Giovanni Capellini del Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna / Mario Benzi
Επεισόδια από τη ζωή του Σαλαμινίου Αίαντος και απόπειρες αποκρυπτογράφησης των μηνυμάτων τους / Michalis Tiberios
Το τρόπαιον του Μαραθώνος, αρχιτεκτονική τεκμηρίωση / Manolis Korres
Cirene e la Grecia nelle ricerche di Luigi Beschi / Ida Baldasarre
I Pelasgi e Atene: il tempietto dell'Ilisso / Bruno d'Agostino
Dalle Muse a Bach. Gli studi Luigi Beschi sulla musica greca tra antico e moderno / Riccardo di Cesare
Αναμνήσεις από τη συνεργασία μου με τον Luigi Beschi / Aglaia Archontidou-Argyri
Litora rara, et celsa Cabirum delubra. Luigi Beschi e gli scavi nel santuario di Chloe / Maria Chiara Monaco
La pubblicazione del santuario arcaico di Efestia: Luigi Beschi e la promessa mantenuta / Emanuele Greco


1.  "Interpretation of two Athenian Friezes. The Temple on the Ilissos and the Temple of Athena Nike," in M. Barringer, J.M. Hurwitt, J.J. Pollit (eds.), Periclean Athens and its Legacy, (Austin, 2005), 177-192, esp. 184.
2.  L. Beschi, "Culto e riserva delle acque nel santuario arcaico di Efestia," ASAA 83 (2005) 95-218, esp. 144.
3.  "La Nuova Iscrizione 'Tirsenica' di Lemnos (Efestia, teatro): considerazioni generali," Rasenna 3 (2011) 1-34.

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