Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1998.07.19

Steven M. Cerutti, Cicero. Pro Archia Poeta Oratio.   Wauconda:  Bolchazy-Carducci, 1998.  Pp. xxi, 125.  ISBN 0-86516-402-9.  $15.00.  



Reviewed by C. A. Hoffman, University of California, Berkeley
Word count: 1807 words

Steven Cerutti's edition of the Pro Archia is offered by Bolchazy-Carducci as a "unique edition" that "synthesizes a comprehensive treatment of grammatical issues with a keen analysis of the rhetorical devices Cicero weaves into the fabric of the speech." Prof. L. Richardson states in the foreword that this book has been "designed to be read as soon as a student has mastered the rudiments of Latin grammar and syntax," and the author, according to the preface, envisions it as being the second-year Latin student's "first encounter with a complete, unabridged Latin text."

Cerutti has, therefore, provided in the book's 125 pages a brief introduction which explains some of the historical and cultural context of the speech, an outline of the speech, the speech itself, two appendices devoted to personalities, peoples, geography, and terms of various sorts, and a comprehensive vocabulary list that offers definitions for every word that appears in the text. The format adopted is that of offering vocabulary on even-numbered pages with odd-pages divided fairly evenly between text on top and commentary on bottom. Overall, this is very effective and useful. In addition, the layout and font choice allow plenty of white-space to allow for easy reading.

The question then remains, has the author produced a text that matches the comments quoted above. More fundamentally, is this an edition which, given its price and accessibility, would be of service in the classroom? This review will be devoted to answering those questions.

Cicero's Pro Archiais surely not the easiest speech for a second-year Latin student's initiation. The first sentence alone can be downright depressing to the novice. Once the exordium is dispensed with, the rest of the text is fairly straightforward, although enough pitfalls remain to catch the unwary. Cerutti's approach to this is both direct and, for the most part lucid. By providing relevant vocabulary on the opposite page of the Latin text, the student will always have the needed word at hand. Given the large number of new words to be encountered, however, the vocabulary itself can appear daunting. Here Cerutti might have pared down the number of words he chose to define. For example, could not a student be expected to infer the meaning of praedicatio from praedicare (p. 66)? Similarly, if the student has encountered ornare, is it necessary to gloss exornare (p.66)? Again, perhaps the reader can be expected to know dies or corpus (pp. 34 and 60). Students will appreciate the fact that Cerutti continues to present vocabulary items three times after the initial encounter. The approach taken here, however, may not appeal to everyone, for Cerutti has generally tried to offer definitions that match the context in which the word appears. For that reason, ars is glossed as "cultural pursuits" although this would at best only apply to the plural, not the singular (p. 6). Sometimes primary meanings are shunted towards the end of an entry rather than the beginning such as with acuere (p. 44). In a few instances, wrong forms are listed such as ceterus (p. 28) or constavi (p. 48); an incorrect gender is indicated as well, spiritus being masculine and not neuter (p. 72).

The commentary is generally clear and to the point. Still there are a few irksome comments and notions. For example, is it useful to introduce bipartite or tripartite sentences as if they were special rhetorical or syntactic categories? Cerutti's notion of chiasmus seems a little overbroad: vox huius hortatu praeceptisque conformata is not chiasmus properly speaking, since, as Cerutti defines it himself, chiasmus should be of the relationship a:b b:a. Here, however, we find a:b:b:b (p.5). Likewise, the following is not true chiasmus as I understand the term: adest vir summa auctoritate et religione et fide M. Lucullus, since the three ablatives all apply to vir and not M. Lucullus (p.21). At times Cerutti renders a passage in English, yet there is bound to be confusion when the English fails to match the Latin with respect to voice as when immo vero eis tabulis professus is rendered as "on the contrary, he was registered in those documents" (p. 25). At other times, there is silence when an instructor might appreciate a few words. Why not point out Cicero's use of fuerit ascriptus vs. sit ascriptus (p. 27)? At p. 47 Cerutti gives a confusing comment which can best be called a scholiastic zeugma. Here he points out that the pronoun nos in the sentence nos animorum incredibilis motus celeritatemque ingeniorum neglegemus corresponds to both the ille and the a nobis of the preceding sentence. Now this is true, but only in two separate senses. The nos corresponds anithetically to the ille but it picks up and emphasizes the a nobis. There are a few misleading errors in the commentary as well. Cerutti considers ceteris at p. 35 to be dative of agent, but given the answering mihi, it seems to be dative of indirect object or advantage. Cerutti's identification of duxerit at p. 65 as contrafactual subjunctive cannot be correct, since Cicero needs to assume the truth of it in order for his question to make sense. It is far likelier to be subjunctive because it is in a relative clause of characteristic or a potential. One typographical error makes a comment a little more opaque than intended. The relevant note refers to manubias as a dative when Musis is the intended lemma (p. 69). Despite some of these infelicities, overall Cerutti's comments will be welcome assistance to the beginning student, just as intended. Especially useful are Cerutti's efforts to reduce a sentence to its main components, thereby making it easier for a student to decipher (e.g. comments on ll. 22-37, p. 7). It should be noted that Cerutti's grammatical and syntactic comments are reinforced by reference to Bennett's A New Latin Grammar, which makes some sense given the fact that Bolchazy-Carducci also publishes this venerable text. Yet, might it not also have been useful to index those comments to Allen & Greenough's New Latin Grammar, which is perhaps just as widely used?

In using this book, the student need not puzzle too much over various persons and concepts as Cerutti has provided ample help in two appendices. The first is "A Brief Glossary of Proper Names and Places." The information contained here is useful and concisely stated, which is very important since the student translator will be interested in using material of this sort only as a brief detour rather than a lengthy distraction from the speech. Sometimes, the concision can be misleading. The entry for Catulus, for example, gives the impression that once the Cimbri were defeated, he and Marius quickly split and he soon killed himself, although the interval between the defeat of the Cimbri and his death was some 20 years. Marius' entry makes no mention of his final consulship in 86. Cn. Octavius' entry simply raises more questions than it answers: who is Cinna? Who Sertorius? Some entries are of very limited value. Students by their second year should know what Rome is, for example. Separate entries for Cyzenicus, Locrenses, Neapolitani, Regini, and Tarentini seem odd, since intuitively it seems sufficient to provide an entry for the relevant towns. The second appendix, entitled "A Brief Glossary of Terms," is useful and clear. It is a little jarring, however, to find consul and hyperbaton in the same glossary. The fact that Cerutti provides examples from the Pro Archia for the rhetorical figures is appropriate and helpful. The definition of parallelism appears somewhat misleading since it is not, as Cerutti states "effectively the opposite of antithesis." Indeed, antithesis is often made effective by taking advantage of parallelism. Parataxis is defined a little too imprecisely as well. As presented, it seems to be a synonym for asyndeton and nothing more, yet it is traditionally more akin to a syntactic hendiadys.

The final part of the book consists of a comprehensive wordlist that gives definitions for every word found in the Pro Archia no matter how rudimentary. The person who forgets atque will find it in the list. This lexicon, while certainly useful, has some failings. It is perhaps dangerous to encourage second-year Latinists to render active verbs as passives as when accedere is translated as "to be added" or accipere as "to be told" (p. 100). Sometimes fourth principal parts are not indicated for verbs although they exist, for example, conquiescere, deesse, and suppetere. That difficilis is rendered first as "not easy" and secondly as "difficult" is truly strange. What is gained by giving "choicest" and "most choice" as alternate definitions for lectissimus? Rendering manus as "a military force" surely gives the wrong connotation in terms of scale, and it seems too idiosyncratic to render integer as "not affected by war." Having a separate entry for sibi is odd without separate entries for ei or mihi. Lastly, if students are in their second year of Latin, why do separate entries for comparative and superlative form of adjectives need to be given? Surely, they can be expected to do a little parsing on their own by now. As a final point, perhaps the hoary issue of macrons should be mentioned. As for this edition, there is not a single long mark to be found. Each instructor has his or her own preference for how to handle this issue, but it seems that in a basic text of this nature, it would be far better to have the macrons present rather than not. After all, if the comments are glossing ablatives, why not simply let the students recognize ablatives by having macrons? In this connection, I can only draw upon an anecdote that has made an impression upon me. When I began to introduce my students to texts lacking macrons, they commented on the increased difficulty of the material, and they attributed this to the disappearance of the macrons. Clearly, students at some point in their career as Latinists will need to do without macrons, but it seems that in a speech of Cicero, which already will offer difficulties, there is no need just yet to get rid of macrons, especially if this will be the very first speech to be encountered as hoped for by Cerutti.

It is often the nature of a review to focus on the negative, but, although some of the drawbacks of Cerutti's text have been raised, it is important to bear in mind that overall this is a very useful commentary on the Pro Archia. That is not to say that the second-year Latin student will have an easy time with this speech, but, given the book's low price and the comprehensive help it offers to the novice, it is quite clear that it could work in the classroom. It is in that light that I recommend it and look forward to a second edition.

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