Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1999.11.20

Volk on Instone on Nünlist.   Response to 1999.10.30

Response by Katharina Volk, Princeton University (

In his review of René Nünlist (N.)'s Poetologische Bildersprache in der frühgriechischen Dichtung (BMCR 99.10.30), Stephen Instone (I.) twice calls the book "curious." What is more curious, however, is his review, which appears strangely uninterested in actually engaging with the book and fails to give the reader a clear idea of what it is about. One might think that a monograph of 412 pages would warrant commentary more extensive than 582 words, and certainly no author deserves to have his name misspelled (it is not "Nunlist") or to be quoted in a way that makes no sense. Thus, in the second paragraph, the reader is left wondering what the pronoun "sie" in the German quotation could possibly refer to and, worse, is given the impression that N. claims that Pindar and Bacchylides rarely use animal metaphors (in fact, the author observes solely that these poets avoid the all-too-obvious comparison of the poet to a songbird). N.'s views are misrepresented at other places, too (e.g., contrary to what I. states, N. on p. 161 by no means "endorses ... the questionable view that Bacchylides' interest in sporting events was greater than Pindar's"). The greatest problem with I.'s review, however, is that nobody would be able to tell from it that instead of being a random discussion of "selected imagery in Greek lyric poetry," N.'s book is in fact a systematic treatment specifically of metaphors for poetry (that is what the word "poetologisch" in N.'s title means). Given that this is a topic of great interest to many classical scholars, it is to be hoped that N.'s work will find another reviewer, one who is willing to provide the readers of BMCR with more trustworthy information on the book and its actual strengths and weaknesses.

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