Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1998.11.28

Anna Elissa Radke (ed.), Candide Iudex. Beiträge zur augusteischen Dichtung. Festrschrift für Walter Wimmel zum 75. Geburtstag.   Stuttgart:  Franz Steiner, 1998.  Pp. 406.  ISBN 3-515-07164-4.  

Contributors: G. Binder/U. Hamm; J. Blänsdorf; F. Cairns; E. Doblhofer; D. Flach; R. Häussler; E. Könsgen; S. Koster; W. Kullmann; H. Leppin; G. Lieberg; G. Maurach; J.K. Newman; E. Pöhlmann; F. Rädle; K. Sallmann; E. Schäfer; A. Schmitt; O. Schönberger; E. Schütrumpf; W. Suerbaum; H.P. Syndikus; H. Wieland


Reviewed by Alessandro Barchiesi, University of Verona
Word count: 919 words

In spite of the Augustan heading, this collection in honor of Walter Wimmel also features essays on Seneca, Reposianus, Renaissance Latin poetry, Theocritus, and Lucretius. Wimmel's own work deserves a reappraisal, not only a homage, since his best known opus, Kallimachos in Rom, has been prominent in Latin studies for almost 40 years. At times diffuse, at times obscure, this long, nuanced discussion of Callimachean poetics and its ambiguous influence is still helpful and unreplaced. Alan Cameron's critique of it (Callimachus and his critics, Princeton 1995, chapter XVIII especially) deserves, I think, second thoughts, although Cameron of course has devised a different and better way to write a mega biblion without being boring. (To be honest, Wimmel has written much more than one big book; for his complete bibliography, see Id., Collectanea. Augusteertum und späte Republik, Stuttgart 1987, plus page 11 of the present volume for updating). Wimmel has been influential in the late 20th century vogue for ideas like poetics, programmatic writing, and recusatio; his Festschrift is not particularly rich in this area. Some of the revisionist discussions on Callimachean poetics are too recent for this kind of book, where the essays were presumably commissioned years ago. A couple of recent German dissertations are, however, discussed here by a doyen of Homeric studies, Wolfgang Kullmann, who also appends some comments about the impact of Callimachean revisionism on the interpretation of Augustan poetry. One has the impression that something is in motion for the younger generation in Germany: there is an aggressive anti-programmatic interpretation in Markus Asper, ONOMATA ALLOTRIA, Stuttgart 1997 (Hermes Einzelschr. H. 75) and an enthusiastic metapoetic manifesto in Mark Andreas Seiler, POIESIS POIESEOS, Stuttgart und Leipzig 1997. Energetic discussions are to be expected, because even basic points, e.g. the meaning of 'programmatic', the value of 'poetics' as an area of interest, the difference between intentional meaning 'at the point of origin' and appropriation or reception, seem to be controversial again. But of course a Festschrift is not a normal place where you would expect a reappraisal of someone's work by some candidus iudex.

So, as I said, Candide iudex is not an inspiring collection in the area of Roman poetics and Callimacheanism. More generally, some of the contributors, mostly Latinists, are simply too interested in appearing like vigilant protectors of pure scholarship against modern corruption of mores. Hence a dominant impression of stability and repetition. The mood varies between reaction to res novae and reluctant acceptance. I would personally prefer the former, which at least creates a discussion and raises problems. Not surprisingly, Godo Lieberg, the author of Puella Divina (1962), explains that he cannot accept Veyne and Duncan Kennedy on elegiac 'reality'; and Gerhard Binder (author of Aeneas und Augustus (1971)) is not keen on ironic or polyphonic readings of panegyric poetry. I am less interested when scholars use their allotted space to admit that other people were right a generation ago, e.g. E. Doblhofer on speaking names in Horace: why tell us *now* that, for example, in Hor. carm. 2,17 the addressee Grosphus ('javelin') makes a pointed pun with the conceit quid brevi fortes iaculamur aevo, when this kind of effect has been available to Latinists for at least twenty years in Nisbet-Hubbard?

For some reason, possibly because that area is overstudied, I found that most of the stimulating papers discuss non-Augustan texts. E. Schütrumpf has a short and thought-provoking piece on the end of Lucretius Book III and makes the point that the label 'diatribe' in modern scholarship can be confusing. The underrated Imperial poet Reposianus, author of the Concubitus Martis et Veneris (The Inappropriate Relationship of Mars and Venus), receives a refreshing analysis by R. Haüssler, who also promises a book-length treatment of the adultery of Aphrodite from Homer to Goethe: the points about the influence of Ovid's Ars are of great interest to Ovidian scholars. Among the Augustan papers I would probably single out a balanced historical paper on Messalla by H. Leppin, with useful remarks on senatorial ideology in the early Augustan age: not unlike some Augustan poets, Messalla invites a reading in terms of productive contradiction and improvisation, while categories like nostalgic Republicanism, full integration, and political opposition all prove unsatisfactory. Yet my favorite piece in the whole book is on Vergil, part of a wider research on 'alternative action' in Roman literature by Werner Suerbaum (353-74). Suerbaum takes an approach to narrative which is now mainstream in contemporary culture - the idea of bifurcations in time and plot was avant-garde in 20. century novel, and fertile in SF, but is now becoming good for Hollywood blockbusters -- and applies it to ancient literature and thought. He even makes a spirited and convincing case (p. 374) that literary criticism, if it has to be 'criticism' not just 'description', needs to take into account alternative possibilities and roads not taken. There is even (I imagine) a moral lesson in what he says, and in any case the application to Vergil's Aeneid is entertaining. Those of us who teach Virgil should probably repeat his classroom experiment, which is not intended to make fun of students, but to defamiliarize the text and invite attention. He has asked ten pupils, who had a general familiarity with the Aeneid, to fill in an irrealis clause by Aeneas (without specifying the context): "si fata paterentur me meis auspiciis vitam ducere I would rather..." ; nine out of ten have stated, Suerbaum reports, that the right answer in the original is "stay in Carthage with you, Dido".

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