Bryn Mawr Classical Review 03.06.01

Frank Bubel, Euripides, Andromeda. Stuttgart: Steiner, 1991. (Palingenesia 34). Pp. 193. DM 58 (pb). ISBN 3-515-05813-3.

Reviewed by Anton Bierl, Universität Leipzig.

The production of editions and commentaries on individual lost tragedies is an important and fruitful field of Classical philology. Frank Bubel's book on the Euripidean Andromeda is a slightly reworked version of his dissertation, prepared under the supervision of Prof. Leif Bergson at the University of Trier (Germany). Unfortunately, one must say from the start that it falls far short of the exemplary editions of Bond's Hypsipyle or Diggle's Phaethon, which Bubel aspires to emulate (p.1). In many ways, the result is somewhat pedestrian, for besides summarizing the existing research Bubel does not offer many new insights.

The structure of the book is a very short introduction (p. 1) followed by a bibliography (pp. 2-7). The chapter on Bubel's research on the Andromeda (pp. 8-23) centers on three main issues: the prologue, the Echo-scene and Phineus. Bubel rightly pleads for the opinio communis that Echo did not appear onstage to speak the traditional iambic prologue, and that the play instead started directly with an anapaestic monody by Andromeda. In a balanced discussion of the problem of whether the former lover of the heroine took part, he comes to a non liquet position. In order to determine the probable plot, he chooses the methodologically correct path, comparing and discussing all extant sources of the Andromeda-myth (pp. 24-44). The survey (pp. 24-5) is useful, but one misses a similarly careful discussion of the archeological evidence. After this, Bubel provides an outline of the possible order of the fragments (pp. 45-63). The testimonia, accompanied by a short commentary (pp. 64-70), are then followed by a "Conspectus siglorum" (p. 71) and the fragments themselves (pp. 72-83). As Bubel changes the order of Nauck and Mette slightly and includes a few uncertain fragments, he also offers a "Numerorum conspectus" (pp. 84-86) before providing a German translation (pp. 87-93) and a commentary on the individual fragments (pp. 94-158). The useful appendix on the parodic technique of Aristophanes (pp. 159-169) might have been better integrated into the discussion of the order of the fragments, inasmuch as it is central to the real problem of the Andromeda: most of what we know about this play comes from the parody of it in Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae. Bubel shows, as others have before him, that we must assume a great deal of artistic freedom on Aristophanes' part, so that it is almost impossible to deduce with any certainty the structure of a tragedy from a comic distortion of it. At the end, there is an "Index Graecus" of all extant words of the fragments (pp. 170-175) and an "Index locorum" (pp. 176-193), which unfortunately lists only passages cited extensively in the commentary. The separation of text, translation and commentary is rather impractical for the reader. A better solution might have been to supply the translation on the facing page and add the commentary beneath each fragment. The "Conspectus numerorum" would best be located either at the beginning of such an arrangement or at the end of the book.

Now to the main point which I have to offer in criticism: anyone who decides to make an edition of a play ought to have his own view of it. I can detect almost nothing of this in Bubel's approach. The reconstruction of the myth is neither original nor clear. Perhaps the problems cannot be solved at all, but this must be stated. The basic fact remains that almost all the longer fragments of the play that we possess are from the parody in Thesm. The link obviously consists of a very simple plot-structur e, i.e., a hero (Perseus, Euripides) comes to a strange world (barbarian Ethiopia, Thesmophoria) in order to free a bound person (Andromeda, Mnesilochos), who is threatened with death by a monster (KH=TOS, Scythian archer). Savior and prisoner are linked by a particular relationship, as lovers or relatives. In the sequence of tragic parodies which follows the parabasis, Aristophanes focuses on the notorious Euripidean pattern of anagnorisis followed by liberation and flight through intrigue. From the evidence of the archer scene, we can deduce with certainty only that Perseus came to Ethiopia and fell in love with Andromeda, that she promised herself to him if he could save her, and that he tried to free her. The Euripidean fragments provide very scanty evidence for the rest of the story, and the plot can only be reconstructed in a hypothetical manner, on the basis of other versions and representations of the myth. Contrary to Ovid's version (Met. IV 664-803), Andromeda's father Cepheus must have played a negative role (Thesm. 1056 f.) In addition, the fragments offer evidence of an agon between Perseus and Andromeda's father (who was obviously against a marriage between the hero and his daughter), an attack by the monster, and perhaps a nuptial meal near the end. We also know from the testimonia (5.1.1-5.3.4, pp. 66-68) that Andromeda chose to leave home against the will of her father and mother, and that at the end of the play Athena appeared as dea ex machina and set the heroine among the stars. That is all we know. Regardless of how much one turns the fragments and the additional facts about and plays with them, all one can do is to continue inventing possible solutions. One will never attain any certainty in the matter, and the best procedure would therefore be to discuss the possible alternatives.

Bubel sticks very closely to his predecessors. The opinio communis that the fight between Perseus and the monster took place after the first epeisodion and was then reported in a messenger speech is very probable, but leaves us with a problem: what happened in the four remaining epeisodia?1 Some have argued for a complication of the plot through Phineus/Agenor. I doubt that there was a second messenger speech which described an intrigue and the marriage feast, as Bubel supposes (pp. 56, 59 f.). An intrigue is nonetheless very probable and can be deduced from the sequence of plays parodied in Thesm., all of which include an intrigue.2 But if the intrigue was only reported, what happened in between? Would it not be better to believe that the planning and development of the intrigue took place onstage? Is it not also possible that the dramatic messenger speech reporting the fight with the KH=TOS stands close to the end, much like a similar speech in IT? This would transfer the climax close to the end and heighten the suspense of the dramatic development. The plot would then be as follows: Andromeda has promised herself to Perseus; at this point Cepheus appears with Cassiopeia, and they intervene, saying they are against the marriage. A role might perhaps be played by the oracle, saying Cassiopeia can expiate her initial offence against the gods only by sacrificing her daughter to the sea-monster. The life of the wife would stand against the life of the daughter, and the plot would thus concentrate on a double resistance which the tragic hero must overcome, i.e., the parents and the monster, in order to reach his love. The intrigue might have consisted in tricking Andromeda's parents. Then Perseus loosens the chains of Andromeda, at which point the monster attacks. The terrible fight which ensues would be reported by a messenger who ends with the remark that Perseus is about to fail. At the last moment Athena intervenes on the side of her hero and tells of the happy future wedding and the final katasterismos. Another scenario, similar to IT, could be that Perseus wins the fight with the monster toward the end. When he comes back, he would have to face Cepheus, who does not give up his resistance and wants his daughter to stay. Just as Iphigeneia and Orestes cheat the barbarian Thoas, so Perseus and Andromeda trick Cepheus and try to flee over the sea, but Cepheus, following them with his troops, is about to catch them. At this dramatic moment, Athena intervenes.

The commentary is overly based on philological Worterklärung, piling up vast numbers of parallels. The usefulness of this method is doubtful, and with the help of a CD-Rom and TLG disc it would have been much easier to produce such a commentary. On the other hand, one misses an analysis of the contents of the myth. What does it mean, after all, when a girl is confronted with a devouring dragon? Would it not be useful to give a survey on this fairy-tale motif and possible explanations?3 Might this not even be connected with the anthropological pattern of initiation?

Bubel's remarks concerning the problem of Andromeda as a bride of Hades (F 9=122 N) are fairly typical of his approach. Let us therefore have a look at them, especially verses 4 f. GAMHLI/WI ME\N OU) CU\N PAIW=NI, DESMI/WI DE/, GOA=SQE M', W)= GUNAI=KES. Bubel misunderstands the passage as a whole.4 He thinks Andromeda really was such a bride, whereas our text speaks of this more as of a topos.5 For the motif and its anthropological background, see the excellent article of R. Seaford, "The Tragic Wedding," JHS 107 (1987) 106-130, which Bubel does not know. For other structural parallels between marriage and sacrifice, see H. Foley, Ritual Irony (Ithaca and London 1985) 65-105. To the series of parallels (p. 109) to the "Hades-Hochzeit" one could add IA 461. The cases of Iphigeneia, Macaria or Polyxena are slightly different, as they are real brides as well. As in many similar passages, especially in IA, Euripides plays with the special tragic irony of this topos: Andromeda says it is impossible to sing the hymenaeus to her, but shortly thereafter the male hero comes to save and marry her. Euripides plays with the paradox and the ambivalence of marriage and paean. Since Bubel as a strict Wortphilologe has no feeling for this underlying tendency in Euripides, he misses the point. Marriage is not only a happy event, but is also associated with death on the part of the women, just as the hymenaeus is also associated with lamentation (see Seaford 113 f.); to sing the hymenaeus would thus also be, to a certain extent, appropriate for Andromeda, because she has to die. Euripides strengthens this point with the ambivalent term "paean." Bubel's commentary to the word is unsatisfactory and partly misleading; I was unable to verify at all that the paean was originally a song of lamentation, as he asserts (p. 110). It is in fact an extremely ambivalent song, much like the gods Apollo and Artemis, to whom it is particularly addressed: see LSJ s.v. PAIA/N II 1-4; for the paean in general see V. Blumenthal, RE 36 (1942) 2340-62 and the forthcoming monograph of Lutz Käppel. It is a versatile song, where joy and threnos are closely connected (as in marriage) and easily change one to the other. Although Bubel's translation of DESMI/WI [i.e., PAIW=NI] "mit einem den Fesseln gemäßen Gesang" is correct, the parallel U(/MNOS DE/SMIOS A. Eum. 306, which he supplies on p. 110, does not fit. The Furies intend to lay a magic spell on the mind of their opponents, whereas in our passage the adjective has a concrete meaning, because Andromeda is chained. See W. Mitsdörffer, "Das Mnesilochoslied in Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusen," Philologus 98 (1954) 81 n. 3. For the binding song in Eum. see C. A. Faraone, "Aeschylus' U(/MNOS DE/SMIOS (Eum. 306) and Attic Judicial Curses," JHS 105 (1985) 150-154, and Y. Prins, "The Power of the Speech Act: Aeschylus' Furies and Their Binding Song," Arethusa 24 (1991) 177-195.

Other detailed criticisms:

In connection with Echo in Thesm., Bubel (e.g., p. 10 n. 10) does not know M. Heath, Political Comedy in Aristophanes (Hypomnemata 87) (Göttingen 1987) 51 n. 106, who believes Echo is not played by Euripides, but instead appears onstage as an extra person. For arguments against this view, see now K. Sier, "Die Rolle des Skythen in den Thesmophoriazusen des Aristophanes," in the very useful volume C. W. Müller/K. Sier/J. Werner (edd.), Zum Umgang mit fremden Sprachen in der griechisch-römischen Antike (Palingenesia 36) (Stuttgart 1992) 75 n. 41.

As far as the rather exceptional anapaestic prologue is concerned, there is an inconsistency on p. 45; whereas Bubel rightly recalls IA (p. 14), he says later on (p. 45) that this formal device is "among the extant plays of Euripides without parallel."

Bubel also does not know the translation of the fragments by D. Ebener, Euripides. III (Berlin/Weimar 1979) 239-244, who is in favor of a participation of Phineus; Ebener (p. 243) does not adhere to the opinio communis followed by Bubel (p. 60), that the shepherds of F 37 bring milk and wine to restore Perseus, who has been exhausted by the fight against the monster, but suggests instead that the fragment has to do with the final wedding scene. I would add that this fragment has unnoticed Dionysiac implications and is reminiscent of the idyllic scenery of the first messenger speech of E. Ba.

F 7: The apparatus (p. 73) shows that Bubel has simply followed the references of Nauck and Mitsdörffer without rechecking them. Therefore, Nauck's mistake (followed by Mitsdörffer, p. 69 n. 2) in attributing PROSAUDW= SE TA\N E)N A)/NTROIS to Hermann instead of Bothe is repeated.6 Hermann reads with Seidler PRO\S *AI)DOU=S SE\ TA\N (ap. Matthiae, Eur. vol. IX [Lipsiae 1829] p. 45). PROSA/IDOUS', accepted by Bubel, is originally a conjecture by Elmsley; whether Dobree (cf. also p. 102) followed someone else or was the first to read PROSA/IDOUSA I was unable to discover. Bubel accepts as the best solution PROSA/IDOUS' A)UTA\S (coni. Burges) without noting in his commentary (p.102) that this was already done by Mitsdörffer (p. 69 f.). Furthermore, Bubel does not know the suggestion of Ole Thomsen (Class. et Med. 39 [1988] 16, that one ought to read at Thesm. 1018 KLU/EIS; W)= PRO\S A)XOU=S SE\ TA=S E)N A)/NTROIS, (KATA/NEUSON ...), and in addition fails to discuss the version accepted by Coulon.7 To the argument against Nauck's A)PO/PAUSAI (p.103), one could add that this would create hiatus (cf. Mitsdörffer 70 n. 4). I wonder whether it is not possible to take the A)PO/PAUSON with the participle PROSA/IDOUS' ("stop singing") like PAU=E plus participle (cf. Ar. Pax 326 PAU=' O)RXOU/MENOS) instead of reading it as an absolute expression ("stop!"), as Bubel does in his translation (p. 87).8 If one accepts A)PO/PAUSAI -- perhaps the hiatus was deliberate --, it might be read like PAU=SAI plus participle (cf. E. Hipp. 706 PAU=SAI LE/GOUSA).

F 20: Bubel does not seem to know the new edition of the comic fragments PCG by Kassel-Austin. In the apparatus of this fragment, he does not compare Eubulus F 26 K.-A., vol. V, p. 204, published in 1986. The older edition of this fragment in Kock is not in II 74 [sic: p. 76], but in vol. II, p. 174. In the text, contrary to K.-A. and likewise Nauck F 129, Bubel accepts EI)/SHI XA/RIN (Suda s.v. EI)/SHI) instead of E(/CEIS XA/RIN (B Schol. Med. 476). In the commentary, p. 132 he argues for the lectio difficilior without referring to K.-A.

In addition to the bibliographical problems cited above, Bubel should have seen H. Hansen, "Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae. Theme, Structure and Production," Philologus 120 (1976) 165-185 and Edith M. Hall, "The Archer Scene in Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae," Philologus 133 (1989) 38-54.

In conclusion, philologists interested in Andromeda will need to make use of this edition, but it is in the end disappointing. The final word on this particular play has not been spoken yet: let us await what Prof. Richard Kannicht will tell us about it in the forthcoming fifth volume of TrGF.


  • [1] See, e.g., U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Kl. Schriften V.2 (Berlin 1937) 96 f.
  • [2] The problem in Thesm. is actually to trick Crytilla and the barbarian archer in order to free Mnesilochos, but Euripides fails so long as he relies on the discourse of intrigue-plays.
  • [3] See, e.g., Horst Kurnitzky, Ödipus. Ein Held der westlichen Welt (Berlin 1971) 71-139 ("Die entfremdende Arbeit des Drachentötens oder König Ödipus und die Ökonomie").
  • [4] The translation of the verse, on the contrary, is acceptable (p. 88).
  • [5] On p. 39 he says that the chorus wanted to sing a hymenaeus for Andromeda, but she refused it (cf. also 31 n. 4). On p. 41 he speaks more appropriately of a comparison of Andromeda's sacrifice with a wedding (pp. 42 f. with n. 54 as well).
  • [6] Bothe wrote SE\.
  • [7] For the text-critical information concerning this fragment I refer to C. Austin, "Observations critiques sur les Thesmophories d'Aristophane," DWDWNH 19 (1990) 28. I thank Prof. Colin Austin for sending me this article, which otherwise would not have been available to me.
  • [8] Instead of "Die du in den Höhlen die Klagen hersingt, höre auf, ..." I would suggest: "Höre auf, in den Höhlen die Klagen herzusingen ...".