Bryn Mawr Classical Review 96.8.10


RESPONSE: Nesselrath on Slater on Dobrov et al.


To the editors of BMCR

I take the liberty to comment on two points Professor Slater, the reviewer of "Beyond Aristophanes" ed. by G. Dobrov, has raised with regard to my contribution and to my work on Middle Comedy in general.

1) Professor Slater complains about "the repellently chatty English" of my contribution, which "one must lay at the feet of the translator". Well, if the English is really that repellent, I have to take the blame myself, because I wrote the English myself. Professor Slater might have seen this, if he had taken note of n. 65 on p. 27 where I thank Prof. A. Dyck and Prof. Dobrov for improving (not for translating) my English; and the "chattiness" was all in it before they made their comments. On the other hand, if Professor Slater cannot stand a sometimes lighter tone in papers dealing with comedy, perhaps he himself is not the ideal candidate for dealing with comedy, after all.

2) Professor Slater states that I "without a shred of evidence" attribute the tripartite division of comedy to Aristophanes of Byzantium. Perhaps he might do well to read again the section of my book (p. 149-187) where I try to build my case for locating the tripartite division within the context of Alexandrian scholarship; on p. 180-185 I consider the possibilities attributing it to Aristophanes of Byzantium. Given the nature of our evidence, any attempt at proof can only be circumstantial; and if Professor Slater had read carefully my conclusions on p. 186, he might have seen that I am in fact far from attributing the tripartite division to Aristophanes of Byzantium tout court. I say there (I translate the relevant sentences): "Aristophanes of Byzantium has to be regarded as the one to whom one may assume the tripartite division of Attic comedy ... was very probably already known. He need not be the one to have invented it; this might at least have been possible for Callimachus already two generations earlier, and some of the studies that Eratosthenes devoted to comedy come time and again close to discussing questions of epoch division ..." I still remain convinced, however, that Aristophanes of Byzantium is indeed the most likely candidate for the conceptual development of the tripartite division.

One final note: It is long since I have come across a review as ill-humored as this one.

Heinz-Günther Nesselrath.