Bryn Mawr Classical Review 97.3.13


Maximilian Braun, William M. Calder, III, and Dietrich Ehlers (edd.), Philology and Philosophy. The Letters of Hermann Diels to Theodor and Heinrich Gomperz (1871-1922). Hildesheim: Weidmann, 1995. Pp. 202. ISBN 3-615-00172-0.

Idem, "Lieber Prinz". Der Briefwechsel zwischen Hermann Diels und Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1869-1921). Hildesheim: Weidmann, 1995. Pp. 353. ISBN 3-615-00173-7.


Reviewed by Robert L. Fowler, University of Bristol, Robert.Fowler@bristol.ac.uk.

More voices from the Golden Age. The two volumes under review follow the familiar format of editions from the Calder atelier. Ehlers did the initial transcripts; Calder and Braun worked together on the commentary; Calder wrote the introduction; all three read and corrected successive drafts. Many others including the reviewer answered specific queries. The system has advantages and disadvantages: knowledge is pooled, and many errors are spotted; but it does not eliminate as many errors as one might expect, since individual members of the team tend to defer to others' expertise. But before the obligatory catalogue of corrigenda readers will welcome a more general report.

Hermann Diels (1848-1922) was a quiet giant. Doxographi Graeci, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Commentaria Graeca in Aristotelem, Poetarum philosophorum fragmenta, Greek medicine, mathematics, Theophrastus' Characters, Kleine Schriften (ed. W. Burkert Darmstadt 1969), etc. Everyone knows the Vorsokratiker but not everyone knows how much other work there was, or how extraordinarily gifted and diligent its producer was from an early age. Even Wilamowitz (Erinnerungen 180) allowed him first place in those days; and it is truly humbling to witness Diels' scholarly accomplishment already in the first letters of these collections (aet. 21). As a personality he was little known until the publication of the correspondence with Hermann Usener and Eduard eller by Ehlers in 1992. The new volumes, particularly the second, add much to the portrait. The letters to Gomperz (only one side of the correspondence is preserved) add less because they are all about books and business. Diels is ever respectful of the older colleague, as one expects, but he never hesitates to disagree with him; Wissenschaft matters more than anything. He recognizes nonsense and occasionally permits himself dismissive remarks about others, but nothing like the thunderbolts of a Wilamowitz. A letter to Gomperz' widow is included, as well as 21 letters to son Heinrich, the philosopher. These turn out to be the most interesting of the collection from a biographical point of view, because Diels speaks more freely in them about himself. Calder in his introduction rightly points to a remarkable passage in letter 128 (1 Oct. 1896), which he translates: "I have seen to my shame that I am a fellow absolutely without imagination. That hangs with my A)MOUSI/A. I don't imagine Monday blue nor Thursday green. The months of the year with me form neither a straight line nor a circle. In short all this beautiful statuary [Plastik: better "vividness"? is missing for me entirely. I think this is a main reason for my weak memory which has a sense only for rational connections, not for the coincidental ones of sound (poetry, memorized things) or color." He admits (astonishingly) his utter inability to learn passages by heart. In letter 130 (17 Nov. 1901) he calls himself a "historisch, nicht analytisch-mathematisch eingestellte[r] Kopf", which strikes me as a good description of his whole approach to ancient philosophy and science and explains why he was such a good colleague for Wilamowitz, who could not have worked so sympathetically with an analytisch-mathematisch, nicht historisch eingestellter Kopf.

The volume of Wilamowitz-Diels letters (both sides preserved) is surely the most important instalment of these letters yet to appear. We follow the lifelong association of these great friends from student days in Bonn to Diels' death in 1922, which Wilamowitz found very hard to bear. When Wilamowitz arrived in Berlin in 1897 there began one of the great cooperations of all time. The foundation of the new Institut für Altertumskunde is the subject of many of the letters of this period, and we learn much thereafter about collaboration on the stupendous projects of the Prussian Academy. (What a time it was! Inscriptiones Graecae, Corpus Medicorum Graecorum, Commentaria Graeca in Aristotelem, Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte, excavations, papyri, foreign schools, the Kartell of all the Academies; the best minds of Europe choosing classics as their profession and religion, classics the mainstay of secondary education, classics still the inspiration of literature and art: who can imagine such a time now?) The two men were perfect colleagues. Wilamowitz' moving tribute to their friendship on the occasion of Diels' 60th birthday -- "I don't know how I could live without it" -- is recorded. They knew instinctively each other's ways and wishes and sought never to act but in agreement. Diels is always happy second fiddle. His quiet pride is only once wounded, when re-publication of Posidippus SH 705 was proposed in Berliner Klassikertexte without his participation and in such a way as to misrepresent the contribution of his editio princeps; after coldly setting out the facts at length he threatens to resign from the committee. Elsewhere he is warm, generous, supportive, and serious (though not so serious as, say, Eduard Schwartz; often, indeed, delightfully humorous). If you base your estimate of Diels' character on Doxographi Graeci, read the letters from the student days, and find him wheeling half-drunk through the streets of Bonn at carnival time with a yawning hole in his trousers and an actress on his arm.

Topics of interest in these volumes include Diels' views on Gomperz' Griechische Denker and Die Apologie der Heilkunst; Wilamowitz on Doxographi Graeci; the Entstehungsgeschichte of both this and the Vorsokratiker; Diels on Antigonos von Karystos, Euripides: Herakles, Aristoteles und Athen; Wilamowitz on Shorey (bigoted dismissal, answered in kind by the American); Diels on the inferior English (Kenyon in particular); the negotiations to bring Wilamowitz to Berlin; Wilamowitz on Christianity (p. 50, confirming what I wrote against Momigliano in this journal 6.2.1995); the appearance of women at lectures (Diels reacted with amused condescension, reporting that one was overcome with emotion upon hearing that Reiske's wife pawned her jewels to pay for the edition of Demosthenes); the spectacular success of the Institut (an interesting note on p. 187 gives enrolment statistics; the numbers of women are 3 out of 139 in summer 1900, 5 out of 160 in winter 1900/01); Diels on the speeches of Gorgias; Diels on Mommsen and eller; Diels on a rather famous contemporary playwright à propos of Herodas 6 (!): "Ich wurde oft an unsere Tagesrealistik gemahnt, namentlich an den traurigen Gerhard sic Hauptmann, der ja auch Volkssprache und Volkssitte schulmeisterlich beobachtet aber ohne Feinheit und Humor reproducirt" (letter to Gomperz of 2 Sept. 1891). Both collections are full of discussions of textual problems; though mostly superseded, they are occasionally worth consulting. Full indexes guide the reader. The editors usually provide only brief references to the passages and books under discussion; the context is often apparent only after consultation of these references. The main weight of the commentary lies with the personalia and academic politics. One major exception is the extensive discussion of Gomperz' work on Philodemus; here Dirk Obbink has made a marvellous contribution with many notes explaining the point of Diels' remarks and identifying the useful conjectures. A.S. Hollis provides a similar commentary on a letter about Callimachus' Hecale.

Many of these letters are extremely difficult for a foreigner; many words are not to be found in the standard modern dictionaries, only in Grimm. The originals are often well nigh undecipherable; producing an error-free transcript is a formidable enterprise, and the task of elucidating the many references, allusions, obsolete slang, inside jokes, etc. truly Herculean (1,099 footnotes in the Wilamowitz-Diels volume, and a 36-page Personenregister over and above the indexes). A stupendous quantity of work has gone into these books. Nonetheless the list of corrections is distressingly long. I felt myself in working on the Schwartz and Murray letters that what they needed most was a patient reading at the penultimate stage by a native German speaker who was also an experienced Greek scholar. These volumes could certainly have benefited from such scrutiny.

Here then selected corrigenda and addenda: Diels-Gomperz: P. 5: not Plato but Euripides Melanippe the Wise; refer to fr. 484. P. 6: "Herculansie [sic": read "Herculan<en>sia". P. 13: the end of n. 93 belongs with n. 92. P. 16: KUNOSU/RAS. P. 17: E)NOMOQE/TEI. n. 113: TOI=S ... OU)=SIN. P. 17: how many will know the abbreviation "pp"? It means "etc."; Brockhaus' dictionary says it stands for "perge perge". Ibid.: the discussion is about Menander's Phasma (line 42), the first fragments of which were published by Cobet in the previous year's Mnemosyne. Hence Diels' comment. P. 18: geflügelten Wortes. -- Who is Büchmann? -- For BESH=| read XESH=|. P. 19: read *A)QHNA= KREI/TTWN: the source is Theophrastus Characters 16.8. P. 21: XEU/MATOS E(/NEKA: Ar. HA 491a8. Euripides: fr. 954. n. 138: read 23 B 46. n. 150: "Diels had surely read Franz Susemihl etc.": Susemihl's book was not published until 1891. P. 24: for "nichts anfangen" read "nicht anfangen". P. 27: E)/TOUS. P. 33: for "wie nach dem" read "wie O nach dem". P. 36 A)NH\R TETRA/GWNOS: Simonides PMG 542. P. 45: this is the first reference to Gomperz' hypothesis, published in Die Apologie der Heilkunst (1890), that Protagoras wrote the anonymous De Arte in the corpus Hippocraticum VI 2.27 Littré; it should be cross-referenced to p. 83 and added to the index. P. 49: MHTRO\S. P. 50: XRHNNU/NAI. P. 51: the epigram is Hansen, CEG 1.425. P. 55: KAQEZO/MENOS. Ibid.: the work in the press is CAG Suppl. I (1885). P. 62: perhaps the proverb is still current in Germany, but it might be helpful to complete it: "Das blinde Huhn <findet auch mal ein Korn>." P. 70: E)SETRA/PHS. n. 363: "Bad chicken (literally, bad crow), bad egg" is the famous anecdote about Tisias and Korax: L. Radermacher, Artium Scriptores, Sitz. Wien 227 (1951) B II 6 citing Cic. De orat. 3.81; the same story was told about Protagoras (Diog. Laert. 9.56). Aelian cited here has a different and irrelevant explanation. n. 384: Vahlen's third edition of the Poetics (1885) is more pertinent. Pp. 79 ff.: "W)FEI/LON sic" three times: but Diels is merely giving the word a Doric accent. P. 79 last line of text: "der aus dem Centrum". P. 80: No, Kaibel read E]I)/MEIN; Diels read H(MEI=N, as he says on the next page. P. 81: "Woher wissen sie nun" (lower case "sie" = "the scholiasts"). P. 85: A)MFISBH/THSIN. P. 87: Diels quotes Soph. Ant. 564. Ibid.: MESTO/N E)STI. P. 88: zwei Aristotelica. P. 93: Diels writes "ein A)DIO/RQWTON A)NTI/GRAFON, von denen Arat spricht"; Jaap Mansfeld comments "shorthand for commentaria in Aratum; the poet himself can hardly have said this." The reference is to the story in Diog. Laert. 9.113; Timon told Aratus to search out the "old copies" of Homer and eschew those "already corrected". R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship 1 (1968) 98. P. 99: QO/RUBON. P. 101: PONTIKO/S. P. 111: unternommenen. P. 115: what is "Gal. des Kanon"? P. 124: this text was published in BCH 1896/7 by Tannery; add a reference to V. Gardthausen Griechische Palaeographie 2.268. P. 133: identify Friedrich Überweg as the author of a mammoth Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie von Thales bis auf die Gegenwart and (more pertinently to this passage) an edition of the Poetics of 1870. P. 142: DA/LIOS. Diels here recognizes the possible occasion for Bacchyl. 17. He next anticipates Maas and Fraenkel in supplementing Bacchyl. 20.2 f. P. 153 "Denn das Beste ist des Guten Feind": the bon mot is Voltaire's, Dictionnaire philosophique s.v. Art dramatique. P. 155: "druckst [sic]": if "dreht" is not misread it should in any case be put in the text or at least in a note. P. 157: "überl<iefert>". P. 159: n. 662 implies that the Thesaurus in the text is the proposed Greek one, but it's the Latin, with whose demands the new proposal is "incompatibel"; attach the note to "verfrüht". P. 166: for "hat [sic]" read "ha<ndel>t". n. 771: Diels' point is that the only way one can make Nestle's first hexameter scan is by pronouncing the two syllables of "wieder" so rapidly that they are equivalent to a single short.

Diels-Wilamowitz: P. 3 O( TRW/SAS I)A/SETAI: from the Telephos of Euripides; Parke-Wormell oracle no. 198. P. 20: "Geldpotz [!]": read "Geldp<r>otz". P. 21: if "Kadive" is a local form of "Godiva" the sentence could make sense. Diels has just torn his trousers rather dramatically. P. 25 W)= FILO/THS (sic corrigendum): Pl. Phdr. 228d. P. 34: the absence of a main verb in the sentence beginning "nam tu" should be signalled. P. 36 top "fac ut valeas", "adferet". Ibid., the reference is to Cobet's article in Mnemosyne (cf. above); "the next issue of Hermes" refers to Wilamowitz' article "Der Pessimist des Menandros", Hermes 11 (1876) 498-506, signed Greifswald, 20 July, which gives a terminus post quem for the letter, here dated April (see further below). P. 37 top "quem nisi". P. 38 middle "dies remisi", "comparaverat", then "Antoninus" not "Antonianus": the reference is to Med. 5.12. P. 39 top "aequat" then remove the stop after "volueris". P. 42 bangt mirs <nicht>? P. 59 What do the asterisks after many letter numbers mean? Ibid. "Aber dergleichen bildet sich ja manchmal in der Stille" alludes to Goethe Torquato Tasso I ii 304 "Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille, / Sich ein Charakter in dem Strom der Welt." P. 61 n. 211 Correct the date of Hermann von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff's death to 1938. P. 84 bottom "vater des". P. 85 PATRI\S. P. 88 n. 314 add a reference to M. Chambers, "Wilamowitz and Greek History" in Wilamowitz nach 50 Jahren (1985) 222-238. P. 115 <ihm> gezeigt habe? P. 119 bottom "erh<altene>". P. 129 n. 460: "den Jungen" is dative plural: the boys, not the 50-year-old Kühlewein. P. 136 top <wie> nach einem. P. 158 XALA=TE. P. 160 Wilamowitz used the expression "Reiseonkel Conze" only three weeks later in a letter to Schwartz 1 March 1897. P. 170, end of letter: lower-case "ihren" (Diels' wife). P. 199 a reference to some modern authority such as Martin West Ancient Greek Music would be helpful. P. 226 middle "Verfassung machen". P. 231 n. 830 Wilamowitz alludes rather to Pindar Ol. 6.4. P. 232 top: the explanation of "DM Wissenschaft" as "Dis Manibus Wissenschaft" never entirely satisfied me in the Schwartz letters -- how does it really work in the context? -- but I could think of nothing better at the time. Now I wonder, could it be "Dampfmaschine-Wissenschaft"? This gives perfect sense to both passages, especially the Schwartz letter "und er [Mommsen] war zuletzt auch fuers Mechanisiren". The steam engine as your basic machine is familiar to readers of Heinrich Spoerl's Die Feuerzangenbowle. P. 277 bottom probably "ist und nach". P. 278 Diels writes "Crönert bot 200 Verse einer Tragödie an aus Strassburg für die Sitz. Ber." and the editors comment "in den Schriften der Berliner Akademie nicht nachweisbar". In the Nachrichten of the Göttingen Academy for 1922, 1-46, Crönert published fragments of Euripides' Alexandros and other literary papyri. On p. 27 Reitzenstein reports a papyrus containing "Reste von 2 oder 4 sehr hohen Kolumnen, etwa zu je 50 Versen". Although Crönert says he has not seen the fragment, these are obviously the 200 verses. Bruno Snell went looking for them in 1934, without success: see his Euripides Alexandros und andere Strassburger Papyri mit Fragmenten griechischer Dichter, Hermes Einzelschriften 5 (1937), Vorwort. Professor Peter Parsons tells me he has no knowledge of this papyrus' whereabouts. What did Reitzenstein do with it? Does anyone in Strassbourg know? P. 279: This letter shows that the supplement at Callimachus fr. 228.6 is Diels' not Wilamowitz' (Hellenistische Dichtung I 194 n. 2). Diels' further supplement at the beginning of line 6 PAMMH/NIDI is worth noting; note also that Pfeiffer has misplaced Wilamowitz' DIXOMH/NIDI to the beginning of 7, and chides Wilamowitz' obviously misprinted iota subscript as a bad conjecture. Diels' third comment also anticipates Maas; the reference is to the scholion on line 43 of fr. 228. P. 293 n. 1064: Franz Bopp, not Rask, discovered Indo-European; Rask confined himself to the European languages. See H. Paul, Grundriss der germanischen Philologie I2 (1901) 80 ff.

I thank Rudolf Kassel for these further corrections and addenda to the Wilamowitz volume: P. 32 no. 11: the letter was not written in Greifswald in April, but in Venice in August; it is the reply to number 12! P. 33 read "eligit sibi pares ... qui intellexerunt ... quem non sequi" and (probably) "quae tractantur res". [All becomes clear with these corrections; the "homo egregius" is Diels himself, the "scriptor" is Thucydides about whom they were disagreeing. Letter 11 answers letter 12 point for point. Delete my attempt to translate the hitherto incomprehensible at n. 118. RF] P. 36 cras credam, hodie nihil is the title of one of Varro's Satires. P. 53: Diels did not have to work his way through a "zweifache Schuft" (scoundrel) but "zw. Schutt" (rubbish). P. 55 n. 193 "Erst die 'Athenaion Politeia' weckte Wilamowitz' Interesse fuer Aristoteles": contrast Kassel Kleine Schriften 489. Pp. 85, 91: a reference to Wilamowitz' Kleine Schriften IV 30, 143 is missed; on p. 110 the missing passage is Kl. Schr. IV 695; on letter 134 (review of P.Oxy IV) refer to GGA 1904, 674; on p. 236 (Kirchoff's books) see Erinnerungen 174. P. 92 no. 52: the man in question is not Wilhelm Meyer but Georg Wentzel, author of E)PIKLH/SEIS QEW=N (Diss. Göttingen 1889; correct the Greek on p. 93); the work "Beiträge zur Geschichte der griechischen Lexikographen" won the Academy prize (hence this letter) and though never fully printed remains fundamental: see Lexica Graeca Minora ed. H. Erbse post K. Latte (1965) pp. 1-11. Wentzel figures again on p. 209; the testimonia in question were assembled for Kenyon's edition of the *)AQHNAI/WN POLITEI/A by the Academy, printed at the end of 1903 (pertinent to the date of the letter): Suppl. Arist. III 2 (see its preface xi, xii). Wilamowitz' comments at Erinnerungen p. 285 explain why Diels says "Musicians have no conscience"; they also explain the theatrical allusions in no. 52 and the remarks about printing the dissertation. P. 122 line 9: "wol elenden": probably "wie ehedem". P. 146 TETRA/DI GEGONW/S: Plato com. fr. 107 Kassel-Austin with parallels. Pp. 146 and 152: on Trieber see Vorsokratiker II 405 n. P. 168: The "antiquissimae" are Inscriptiones Graecae antiquissimae praeter Atticas in Attica repertas ed. H. Roehl (1882). P. 171: read U(GIAI/NW DE\ KAI\ AU)TO/S. P. 177: A wonderful misreading: speaking of the Posidippus inscription SH 705 Diels uses the slightly derogatory expression "Kirchhofspoesie"; this has been turned into "Kirchhoffspoesie" and duly registered in the index under Adolf Kirchhoff. P. 191: not the Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, but von Arnim's edition of Hierokles in Berliner Klassiker-Texte IV, identified in n. 805 (among other things the reference to "unnumbered fragments" [i.e. at pp. 48 ff.] is decisive). Same thing on p. 222 n. 809; the "Fragmentensammlung" is once again Hierokles (transfer the note to "Stoikerfr." further down the page). [For "keine Klammern" and Wilamowitz' other remarks on p. 221 see von Arnim p. 65. RF] P. 193 PU/QWN: Diels, Poetae philosophi p. 270 (addenda). P. 208: "Max. ed. Comb.[?]": Maximus Confessor ed. Combefis (Paris 1675 repr. 1860). P. 220: read TW=N E)CAIROU= MENEOIKE/A: the allusion is to Od. 14.232. Four lines earlier read "Pauckstadt". No. 155 with n. 821: W. Schubart Papyri Graecae Berolinenses 1911 XVI; see SH 705 init.

Finally it should be noted that the Diels-Wilamowitz volume also includes a few miscellaneous letters from other people relevant in one way or another to the main correspondence: one letter each from Hermann Dettmer, Reinhold Köpke, Carl Schmidt, Johann Kalitsunakis, and J.L. Heiberg; a letter of Diels to Eduard Norden; and an amusing letter from an anonymous student complaining to Diels about rampant cheating.