Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1999.09.23
Walter Burkert, Laura Gemelli, Elisabetta Matelli, Lucia Orelli, Fragment-sammlungen philosophischer Texte der Antike - Le raccolte dei frammenti di filosofi antichi. Aporemata. Kritische Studien zur Philologiegeschichte. Band 3. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998. Pp. xiii, 433. ISBN 3-525-25903-6. DM 128.
Contributors: G.W. Most, J. Mansfeld, G. Lachenaud, O. Primavesi, A. Laks, L. Gemelli, L. Orelli, M. Isnardi Parente, J. Dillon, W.W. Fortenbaugh, E. Matelli, G. Arrighetti, M. Gigante, A. Casanova, K. Hülser, I. Kidd, W. Burkert, G. Giannantoni, D. Decleva Caizzi, G. Strohmaier, G. Bolognesi, W. Burkert
Reviewed by Han Baltussen, Ancient Commentators Project, King's College London (email@example.com)
Word count: 3918 words
This is a rich and useful book for anyone dealing with ancient philosophy, but in particular all interested in the many aspects of the study of philosophical fragments. The 22 contributions (6 in English, 2 in French, 6 in German, 7 in Italian) discuss a wide range of problems and pitfalls in this particular field. This century there has been something of a boom in the study of textual fragments from antiquity. Especially in the last twenty-five years many authoritative collections of philosophical fragments have been published in which new findings have been edited from new methodological principles.1 And, interestingly, most of the authors who have been involved in editing a fragment collection themselves take the opportunity here to reflect on their work.
The present volume is the third in a series on topics and problems in the history of philology (Aporemata) initiated and edited by Glenn W. Most (Prof. of Greek in Heidelberg/Chicago). The undertaking with a projected six volumes (initially five? -- see vol. 1, back cover2) is an international one and judging from the volumes published so far, should prove to be a very useful one: not only does it take stock of a number of recent developments in classical studies, but it also reflects on methodological problems in the field which go beyond the specific subject of each particular volume.
The book is conveniently arranged according to the philosophical schools from the Presocratics to the Stoa but with the interesting addition of three further sections, one on philosophers who have not left any writings (Pythagoras, Socrates, Pyrrho), one on the oriental tradition (Greek-Arabic sources, Greek-Armenian sources), and an Appendix on new Orphic texts by W. Burkert (incl. three indexes, of Gr-Rom. authors, of sources, of Arabic authors). The main sections are: Introduction, doxography, Presocratics, Theophrastus, Epicurea, Academy, Stoicism, Pythagorica, 'agrapha', Orientalia, Orphica. I shall discuss 4 of the 22 papers at some length, but first I shall point to some common elements, and at the end I shall summarize the remaining papers. (Summaries of all contributions are available for those interested.)
One striking feature of many of the papers is that they have to settle old scores with a towering figure in the field, Hermann Diels. His lasting influence (either positive or negative) makes itself felt because not only did he leave the scholarly world an unsurpassed legacy of fundamental importance, but he also determined its methods and approach for a very long time. How we came to think of the collecting and use of fragments in ancient philosophy and medicine was largely due to his decisions. In fact, as Most in his introduction points out, the exercise of studying the sources to unearth fragments, now referred to as Quellenforschung, did not arise until 75 years after Schleiermacher, in a short but productive period (roughly between 1850 and 1900) culminating in that monumental analysis of the doxographical tradition, Diels' Doxographi Graeci (1879). But over the past 20 years or so the attitude towards fragments and Quellenforschung has changed, and in many ways an attack on Diels' work from several sides is underway to correct, refine, and improve his method and presuppositions (cf. Mansfeld, Laks, Orelli, Gemelli). This ongoing polemic is in itself a tribute to this scholar who did so much to give the study of fragments its place in modern scholarship. Laks for instance brings out well the problematic nature of the C section in the Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (90): on the one hand, we should not infer that Diels is exhaustive, on the other, we should not infer that we cannot retrace the influence of the thinker at issue). Another point is that Diels may have taken 'influence' in a peculiar sense, given the subtitles to the C sections (mostly "Imitation", but for Empedocles it is "Anklang", 'echo', and only in the case of Diogenes is it "Nachwirkung", 'influence proper'). Even if Diels himself (in the second edition of FVS) admitted that he had not been exhaustive, it should be noted, L. maintains, that the A section hardly needs expanding, whereas the C sections are unreliable in terms of completeness and appropriateness. But other features of Diels' arrangements (e.g. the distinction between "doctors" and early philosophy) should also be revaluated (Orelli).
Another important feature of the papers here collected is that they all have cautionary talks to tell about the pitfalls of fragment collecting. The main worries for anyone wanting to collect fragments are how to find the material, how to deal with context (demarcation), how to disentangle and label reports, and how to reconstruct the thought and/or works of the thinker at issue. Thus an editor runs into problems to do with demarcation (named and unnamed accounts, see Decleva Caizzi) and degrees of accuracy (direct and indirect reports, different types of paraphrase; see Gemelli), but also to do with the intellectual environment in which the texts have been embedded (see Dillon, Laks). As a result the activity of an editor of fragments is a mix, dealing with technical matters of a philological and philosophical nature. Many of the contributions here are good illustrations of these difficulties.
In the INTRODUCTION G.W. Most ("A la recherche du texte perdu: On Collecting Philosophical Fragments") puts before us the emergence of a 'theory' of studying fragments, in which for instance the distinction between fragments and testimonia is made, and which in fact seems to contain a "call for the application of Quellenforschung" (10-11). M. traces the long-lasting influence of the first genuine collection in the 16th c. by Henri d'Etienne, which was "hasty, capricious, defective, and hugely incomplete" and yet "held the field unchallenged for more than two centuries" (6). It was only when the field itself changed into a more broadly oriented discipline (18th-19th c.), that the possibility of improvement upon the previous efforts arose. Much progress was made by August Wolf and Daniel Schleiermacher, who first gave the study of Greek philosophical fragments its "systematic coherence and philological rigor" (10).
The following four papers (Mansfeld, Primavesi, Kidd, Dillon) are singled out for their wider interest and exemplary approach.
(I) In "Doxographical Studies, Quellenforschung, Tabular Presentation, and Other Varieties of Comparativism" J. Mansfeld gives a fascinating account of the study of doxography, from the role of Quellenforschung (QF) to the methodology of Diels in his masterpiece Doxographi Graeci (1879). The paper does a number of things at the same time and there is much to learn here both about the subject matter and about the methodological principles of the time, in particular the peculiar tendency to present evidence in parallel columns.
It was Diels' original combination of two methods of representing relationships between texts that enabled him to make such an impact on scholarship: by comparing texts (thus making it an instance of QF) he was able to hypothesize the common source by way of applying the stemmatic model (e.g. DG p.40) to these texts in order to visualise their relationship through time. The results of this work, carrying implications as to reliability of the texts, have become canonised in Zeller's Philosophie der Griechen and Diels' follow-up to DG, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (this work has its own flaws, see Laks, Orelli).
A summary follows of the much more complex argument of his analysis of DG (together with D. Runia) published recently as a first of a projected three volume study on the Dielsian reconstruction of the doxographical tradition.3 M. and R. have established that Diels' argument is by and large correct, but needs revision. In addition, they have shown that Diels' hypothesis becomes less secure the further back in time he goes: the Aëtian work of philosophical views (placita, the equivalent of doxai) should be placed in the first c. CE, but the arguments meant to connect this with the earlier first c. BC source (Vetusta Placita) and Theophrastus is less secure. M. then goes beyond the problems and pitfalls of doxography and puts the genre as such into a wider context. M. explains that the history of QF remains to be written, and sketches some of its elements.
Finally, there are some interesting remarks on a even grander scale about the wider context of stemmatics, QF and doxography. M. labels this context comparativism "and geneticist theories in general" (32). He points to the remarkable development in language studies in the 18th c. when comparative grammar became a major fashion. M. also compares Darwin's presentation as a case of "zoological QF" which is understood to be a legitimate way of representing evolution, and states that the important innovation was to occur gradually by the change of "non-geneticist comparatist methodologies into geneticist ones" (33). M. ends with a playful and illuminating analogy between the Darwinian model of survival and the survival of doxographic works: "It cannot be denied that survival, if we discount preservation by accident, is very much a matter not of adaptation, but one of already being adapted to a changing environment" (34). In its compressed form we here find an intriguing account of this particular aspect of the history of philosophy (summarising much of M.'s previous work), and one can only admire the breadth over which M. is able to throw light on this complex and fascinating material.
(II) In the section on PRESOCRATICS the importance of papyri is shown once more by O. Primavesi who in his contribution "Editing Empedocles: some longstanding problems reconsidered in the light of the Strasburg papyrus," makes a good case for reevaluating the indirect tradition of fragments on the basis of his study of the new Strasburg papyrus discovered by the papyrologist Alain Martin (Univ. of Brussels). This is no doubt one of the most exciting and important finds of the century, now published in a massive volume.4 P. offers 5 examples where the papyrus is of crucial importance to our text and understanding of Empedocles. I shall give a summary of two since they show the immense importance of this new find on matters of method and substance.
The first case (2nd ex.) is to do with the free rendition of a text: the connecting up of parts of a text in a new order, as in the case of Plutarch Quaest. conviv. 1.2.5, 618B (Fr.76.1-3). P. argues that there are already "signs of discontinuity" in the text that should not be deleted too easily, and retraces the various suggestions made by earlier scholars to explain the discrepancy in the quoted lines which makes it difficult to maintain Plutarch is using a continuous text. P. convincingly shows not only that previous solutions are too complicated but also that the papyrus (ensemble d in the numbering of P. and M.) produces a more detailed and surprising new reading of the lines: Plutarch not only quotes three lines of which none was the continuation of any other, but more importantly he quotes them in reverse order. P. does not offer an intrinsic reason for the last feature but suggests Plutarch took over these lines from a hypomnema or another work he wrote on Empedocles.
The second case (5th ex.) involves a spectacular emendation and a reallocation of fr. 139 D. to the context of physics rather than the religious Katharmoi ('Purifications'). The text is from Porphyry, and requires an additional word (χηλαῖς) in order to make better sense; the papyrus provides it, and now the σχέτλι' ἔργα 'terrible deeds' can be reinterpreted: "the motive for killing will still have been the lust for meat, but the motive for the exclamation is no longer guilt associated with eating meat but rather the guilt of having killed living beings" (83). Moreover, the context in the papyrus makes it clear that the fr. is a continuation of fr. 17, and consequently belongs to the Peri physeos. P. goes on to suggest that fr. 139 D. can now be linked with the daemonological story in frr. 115-26 D. in which Emp. tells the story that he is a daemon, once blessed but now punished (with the loss of divine status); Karsten and Bergk already suggested that in fr. 139 Emp. is complaining about his fatal crime which led to punishment.
The last section briefly discusses the question whether there was a self-contained introduction to the Physika. The eye-witness account given of the third zoogonic stage only makes sense if we assume Emp. 'saw' it as a daemon (prehuman stage); moreover the daemonological story must already be known to the addressee of the poem if we want him to understand fr. 139. P. rejects the conventional view that fr. 117 is the start where Simplicius' testimony introduces the fragment as "having been quoted right at the beginning" fr. 17.1-2. P. suggests this refers to Simplicius' own chapter opening.5 P. is now able to establish that ensemble a of the papyrus is the continuation of fr. 117. The upshot is that we now have 34 new lines of which the last is marked 300 (stichometric sign from the scribe) which makes the beginning of fr. 117 line 233 of the book roll. And it can now be considered whether fr. 115 D. should be placed at the start of the Physika, a suggestion made very probable by Plutarch's phrase ἐν ἀρχῇ τῆς φιλοσοφίας προαναφωνήσας.6
(III) Ian Kidd's 'Plutarch and his Stoic Contradictions' is a follow-up to his article in Aporemata 1 ("What is a Posidonian fragment?") and builds a strong and able defence for Plutarch as a rich and mostly reliable source for Stoic doctrine, "always bearing in mind some obvious limitations" (293). Plutarch was a prolific writer and a voracious reader, so much so that many have been sceptical as to the probability of his having read as much as he claimed. K.'s article is sound antidote to this when he points to passages that illustrate Plutarch's direct reading of works, the making of notes (probably all through his reading life, 292) and the awareness of problems concerning context in representing the sense of a passage (293).
Yet while all this may more or less prove that Plutarch did read most of the works referred to, his use of the quotations should be approached with extreme caution. K. describes the shocks he experienced while reading the Stoic Contradictions (and the whole of the Moralia) in an attempt to come to grips with its purpose and procedure7 and lists some examples which show to what (ab)use the quotations can be put in the framework of the polemic which Plutarch is constructing against the Stoics (294-5): quoting out of context, deliberate confusion, twisting of evidence, not allowing that one changes one's mind, abuse of inaccurate terminology.
K. makes a persuasive case when he adduces the reason for Plutarch's preference for a vivid and impressionistic style to get his message across to his audience; the approach is one of 'vivid mental picturing' (ἀναζωγράφησις) rather than logical argument. The basic message is that the Stoics do not succeed in obtaining consistency of agreement in theory and practice. Another example shows how Plutarch 'cobbles together' a Chrysippean text then distorts and obscures it. But there is more than simple 'rhetorical chicanery' involved: Plutarch makes points about the Stoics' hairsplitting habits and by his interpretation is able to criticise them on moral grounds. It all boils down to Plutarch's emphasis on behaviour rather than motives: "he is more interested in what a man does and how he behaves than why he does it" (301). K.'s exploratory sounding of the technique of quotation in Plutarch gives a promising look at how one can analyse quotations in context and one eagerly awaits the additions he announces "for another occasion".
(IV) In his essay 'Gathering Fragments: The Case of Iamblichus' John Dillon provides an elegant and cautionary account of problems to do with collecting fragments from Iamblichus, a Neoplatonist of the 5th c. AD. Iamblichus was influential as a teacher and wrote several commentaries (mostly on Plato but also on Aristotle). In passing D. mentions several other late Greek philosophers whose fragments are worth collecting (he mentions work in progress on Syrianus by Cardullo in Catania, but for Plutarch of Athens omits D.P. Taormina, Plutarco di Atene. L'uno, l'anima, le forme. Catania 1989).
Before D. deals with several problems (doubtful fr., unattributed fr., quasi-verbatim quotation) he mentions three general principles one should keep in mind while dealing with ancient sources: acknowledgment of sources was very lax in antiquity; the thoughts of a predecessor were often expressed in "one's own technical language"; quotation is as a rule a sign of disagreement (169). All three are connected to a decision most editors have to make, that of distinguishing between 'fragments proper' and 'testimonia'. This decision is not always easy, and any division is bound to leave problems. The main danger is misleading the user of the collection (esp. a less experienced one) into thinking that "a given passage is more secure than it is" (170).
As for Iamblichus, D. argues that at least two of the seven references in Damascius' lecture on the Philebus can be taken as evidence for the existence of a commentary on this work by Iamblichus (though certainty cannot be obtained since the evidence e.g. from a scholion on Plato's Sophist only confirms the discussion of the skopos of the Phil. by Iamblichus, not the existence of the commentary). Another problem D. goes into is that of the unattributed fragment. Here allusive references ('our master', 'others') make identifying the source difficult. D. did not include such cases in his 1973 edition of Iamblichus' fragment collection, but has since identified eleven such cases while working on Proclus' Parmenides Commentary (1995, with G. Morrow). The case he mentions here is referring to three interpretations (Syrianus, 'others') which may be related to Porphyry and Iamblichus. D. suggests this "may be just the tip of a very large iceberg" (174). In the case of the commentary on Aristotle's Categories D. states the sobering view that there is no real urgency to collect the fragments. One reason is that Simplicius is very clear about his procedure (In cat. 3,4 ff. quoted by D.) so that we know that he gives a succinct version of predecessors' commentaries (Porphyry, Iamblichus -- noting that the latter "borrowed extensively, even verbatim" from the former). Another is that various other parallel texts are available so that one gets the impression "that there is really no need to collect the fragments of Iamblichus' lost commentary on the Categories because after all it is not really lost; it is virtually all still there, embedded in the amber of Simplicius" (176). A similar situation is found with Iamblichus' De anima, to be reconstructed from doxographical passages (Stobaeus, Priscian8): there is not much positive doctrine to be extracted from the material.
D. ends by looking at "Proclus' policy of quasi-verbatim quotation" (177-80) and formulating a 'law' to characterize a pattern in Proclus, by which the introducing of (in)direct speech with the Greek word gar is governed "by the extent to which Proclus himself approves of the opinion expressed in the passage rather than by the verbal closeness of the passage to the original" (177). D.' strategy here is to "consider the total of passages in which this phenomenon occurs" in order to compensate for the absence of the original (he gives one ex.). Other passages are quoted to illustrate the further point of the accuracy of Proclus' quotations, adducing the two good cases where passages in Simplicius allow the conclusion that Proclus is indeed close to the original. In conclusion D. is rather pessimistic about the whole practice of reconstruction from fragments, since "a tradition of accurate quotation of predecessors in prose is not firmly established in the ancient world" (180).
Now, for the remaining contributions, some brief remarks: there is much to be learned from the pieces on Epicurus (Gigante, Arrighetti), which are more or less on the history of the field and method of previous editors: Usener's approach in editing Epicurus and using Lucretius is shown to be unsystematic and not well-indexed (Lucretius is more present than indexes allow us to think). Democritus is studied in the sceptical tradition (Orelli) in the various versions of a famous tenet.9 Burkert makes two very valuable contributions by updating our knowledge on recent and current research concerning Pythagorica and Orphica noting many new finds of importance (surprisingly he does not mention the interesting treatment of this work by G. Clark, The Life of Pythagoras, Liverpool 1989). Interesting for Plato scholars is no doubt Isnardi Parente's paper on the Academy, in which she looks at the intriguing and difficult question when the works of Plato came to be regarded as a corpus. Theophrastus gets some attention in an essay on book titles: Fortenbaugh studies the details of the list of works in Diogenes Laertius and looks at some possibilities of how to determine whether book numbers are reliable.10 Matelli discusses Theophrastus on music, providing a case study of comparing three relevant texts.11 Casanova gives us some insight into the special collection of fragments from Diogenes of Oinoanda, culled from the remains of a wall which contained works of an Epicurean in columnar style. The unique nature of this body of texts as an epigraphical document, painstakingly reconstructed from the bits and pieces (about 212) of the remains of a stone wall, entails specific problems. Hülser's afterthoughts on his own edition of Stoic dialectic attempts to clarify further the rationale for his edition, but does not succeed in adding much to the important question 'what is reconstructed with a fragment collection?'. The papers on important figures who did not leave any writings, by Gianantoni, Decleva Caizzi, and Burkert, are useful as background to the fragment collections they edited (or worked on) themselves.
G. Strohmaier gives an interesting and well-informed look at the Arabic transmission of Greek philosophical ideas (with lavish bibliography).12 The 9th c. AD was an especially fruitful period of transmission through translation, and the courts of the Arabic rulers were thriving with philhellenes amassing information on astronomy (Ptolemaeus), medicine (Galen) and science (Aristotle), thus preserving much which was hardly read or available in the western tradition. The outstanding achievements in translation are worth singling out so long as we take certain peculiarities into account (e.g. the 'normalization of geographic names and religious statements; the oddities of rendering proper names in Arabic). S. makes a valuable contribution to the interdisciplinary approach between classics and the Arabic tradition as an important source of historical and philosophical information.
Finally G. Bolognesi discusses some Armenian sources in comparison with fragments from a lost work of Philo of Alexandria De providentia (preserved in Eusebius Prep. Evang.), extending an earlier study into these texts partly on the basis of the 19th c. comments by Giovanni Leopardi. The Armenian translation turns out to be very valuable for reconstructing the reading of the Philonian text. B. ends with a textual note on a puzzling fragment from Epicurus (p. 384f. on fr. 105 Us.) where the Armenian is able to add to the text and to suggest a feasible correction to a very corrupt passage.
In sum, the volume is very well rounded and well produced (apart from a few typos and cluttered Greek phrases e.g. p. 48 n59-60, 65 and 135 n42) and as a whole is an important contribution to the field both by dealing with theoretical considerations and by instancing case-studies from new and recent work. And although the 'handbook of fragmentology' remains to be written, the theory and practice of studying fragments have finally received the attention they deserve.
1. Schule des Aristoteles (Wehrli 1949-59), Posidonius (Edelstein/Kidd, 1972: I texts and testimonia / Kidd 1988 II: commentary / Kidd 1999 III: translations), Iamblichus (Dillon 1973), Pyrrho (Decleva Caizzi 1981), Speusippus (Tarán 1981), Die Fragmente zur Dialektik der Stoiker (Hülser 1987-88), Socratis et Socraticorum Reliquiae I-IV (Giannantoni 1990), Theophrastus of Eresus. Sources for his Life, Work, Thought and Influence, I-II (Fortenbaugh e.a. 1992).
2. It is perhaps good to remind readers that the first volume of the series also dealt with problems concerning the study of fragments ('Collecting Fragments - Fragmente sammeln' 1997 -- see BMCR 98.1.23). The series: Volume 1: Collecting Fragments - Fragmente sammeln (V, Göttingen 1997), Vol. 2 Editing texts - Texte Edieren (see BMCR 99.5.27). Projected volumes are: vol. 4 Commentare - Commentaries, vol. 5 Historicization - Historizierung, vol. 6 Disciplining Classics - Altertumswissenschaft als Beruf.
3. Aetiana I: The Method and Intellectual Context of a Doxographer (Brill, Leiden 1997). For a review see M. Frede in the last issue of Phronesis (May 1999). Volume 2 of their Aëtiana will feature a reconstruction of book 2 of Aëtius printed as one text (as they note p. 255, n.172).
4. Primavesi and Martin made this a co-operative project now published as L'Empédocle de Strasbourg (De Gruyter, New York-Berlin 1998; review forthcoming in Phronesis by M. Schofield). P. has published another monograph (his Habilitationsschrift) on the subject (Kosmos und Dämon bei Empedokles: der P. Strasb. Inv. 1665-1666 und die indirekte Überlieferung (Göttingen 1998, Hypomn. 116).
5. P. stipulates that paratithenta as means "quoting" in the commentaries, a view one may find argued for in C. Wildberg 1992 (Festschrift Harlfinger).
6. On the importance of the papyrus see also the review by M. Burnyeat in TLS May 28, 7-8.
7. Here K. describes the work as an "essay which takes the form of criticising the Stoa by opposing quotations from Stoics themselves as contradictories, and thus purportedly using Stoic evidence itself to show that Stoicism is self-contradictory," which makes their doctrine impracticable (289); for a subtle extension of the purpose of the work as an argument for showing that the Stoics went astray (i.e. are self-contradictory) exactly in those points where they diverge from Plato, see G. Boys-Stones, 'Thyrsus-bearer of the Academy or enthusiast of Plato?', in J. Mossmann (ed.), Plutarch and his Intellectual World (London 1997) 41-58; incidentally K. also thinks there is coherence in SR (sec. 1-6 at least, see 297-8).
8. By Priscian D. means Ps. Simplicius, In De Anima accepting the attribution to Priscian by C. Steel (Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 1974); this attribution is doubted by H.J. Blumenthal, see his Introduction to 'Simplicius', On Aristotle On the Soul 3.1-5 (forthc. Duckworth 1999).
9. In this connection Orelli's argument for the wide use of a principle common in the second half of the 5th c., the 'active vacuum' ("Höhlkörpertraktion", 139) is flawed in two ways: despite interesting cases of 5th c. phenomena (pumps and the existence of so-called trickvases in which water or wine could be made to appear and disappear) O. leaves unclear to what question the vacuum is a solution; in addition it is not clear that the vacuum is a plausible explanation instead of a description. There is quite a literature on this philosophical problem (not in Orelli), see esp. S. Berryman in R. Sorabji (Ed.) Aristotle and After, BICS suppl. vol. 1997; D. Furley, 'Strato's theory of Void' in his Cosmic Problems 1989, 149-60; H. Gottschalk, 'Strato of Lampsacus, Some Texts' Proc. of the Leeds Philos. and Lit. Soc. 1965.
10. For similar fascinating detective work on a booklist see J. Brunschwig's paper on Chrysippus in OSAP suppl. vol. 1991, J. Barnes in Philosophia Togata II 1997, 1-65.
11. Readers interested in this example from the early Greek history of music should also consult C. Sicking (text, translation and notes on FHSG 716) in Van Raalte-Van Ophuijsen (eds) Theophrastus. Reappraising the Sources (Rutg. Univ. Stud. in Class. Hum. vol. 8, New Brunswick-London 1998) 97-142.
12. See also D. Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture (New York: Routledge 1998) [not in Strohmaier].