Bryn Mawr Classical Review 95.05.11

Winterbottom, M. (ed.), M. Tulli Ciceronis: De Officiis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Pp. 172. $22.00. ISBN 0-19-814673-6.

Reviewed by David Roy Shackleton Bailey -- Harvard University

This edition is sure to become standard. It is more attractive to read than Atzert's fourth Teubner (1963), more accurate (extremely accurate in fact), and on a comparison between the two texts comes out best. Some of its improvements are found already in the intervening editions of Fedeli (Mondadori, 1965) and Testard (Budé, 1965-1970), which, however, are not of sufficient importance to have a place in the list of editors 'qui infra laudantur' (actually, a reading in Fedeli is mentioned in the apparatus on p. 7).

The text depends on two families, called by W. (secundum artem) zeta and xi instead of Z and X as hitherto. The first has a purer tradition, but the second 'vix levis est momenti' (not intended to mean 'has hardly even slight importance'!). So, with Fedeli in 1973 (ANRW 1.4.384f.), W. rates xi higher than his predecessors and has provided new help in reconstructing it. The impact on the texts is not momentous.

The De officiis was composed in a hurry and probably lacked its author's final revision. For editors the most difficult problem is how much of its redundances and incongruities to bracket as interpolative: 'Multa damnavit W.J. Brüser, multa defendit K.B. Thomas.' Between these two W.'s position is intermediate, as he claims, but compared with Atzert or even Fedeli he is decidedly conservative, much alive to the risk of correcting the author. Otherwise their differences are quite numerous but mostly of little or no semantic importance. Again, W. tends to be conservative, but not mindlessly so. 'Fort. recte' is not seldom to be met with in his clear and elegant apparatus, which also harbours some ten original conjectures.

A few points of detail:

  • 1.109 in sermonibus ... quamvis praepotens sit, efficere ut unus de multis esse videatur, quod in Catulo, et patre et filio, idemque in Q. Mucio Mancia vidimus.
  • W. obelizes Q. Mucio Mancia, but Q. Mucius Scaevola the Augur, ioculator senex of Att. 4.16.3, is totally in place, only he needs to be distinguished from his namesake and contemporary the Pontifex. Mancia on the other hand ('nomen ignoti sed vix praepotentis') is impossible in this company, perhaps a dittography of mucio. So Q. Mucio [mancia] <Q.f.>?

  • 1.135 habentur autem plerumque sermones aut de domesticis negotiis aut de re publica aut de artium studiis atque doctrina. danda igitur opera est ut etiamsi aberrare ad alia coeperit, ad haec revocetur oratio, sed utcumque aderunt; neque enim isdem de rebus nec omni tempore nec similiter delectamur.
  • utcumque aderunt, obelized by W., has been variously misunderstood. Conversation has certain staple topics. It may diverge to others, but must come back to these, 'but in whatever way they crop up.' They will not always present themselves (aderunt) in the same form.

  • 2.25 quid Alexandrum Pheraeum quo animo vixisse arbitramur?
  • Solecistic, so punctuated. Read quid? Alexandrum.

    In 3.109 note the substitution of Minucius for the vulgate Numicius, which has hardly any manuscript support.

    The De officiis is hard going for readers with minds operating on logical progression, not, as Cicero's sometimes did, free association. But W.'s many new paragraphs, judiciously placed, are a real help.