Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.10.44

Dyck on Krostenko on Dyck on Krostenko.   Response to BMCR 2001.10.37

Response by Andrew Dyck, Department of Classics, UCLA (

Under the heading "Brian Krostenko on Dyck. Response to BMCR 2001.09.16," Prof. Krostenko (10/26) offers a summary of his book which readers or potential readers will find very useful indeed. While acknowledging in the first paragraph that my "ultimate assessment" of his book is "fair enough," he presents in attached notes some points that might bear revisiting.

In note 1 K. states that "D. has reversed my argument, suggesting that I claim 'uenustus' acquired the element 'erotic' by the late Republic": but in paragraph 4 I clearly state: "he goes on to claim that venustus has been de-eroticizied by the late Republic," citing the same passage that K. now adduces to "correct" me.

I am glad to know that, according to note 2, K. and I are at one in regarding the use of benigne at Pl. Mil. 729 and in Lucilius 1269M as similar; given his overall thesis, I thought that he meant a contrast of two types of discourse, namely a description "in terms appropriate to a patron" (p. 33) and "a polite and gentlemanly discussion" (ibid., n. 41).

I question whether, as K. suggests (note 5), readers of my review would be likely to gain the (false) impression that he is unaware of the possibility that "a different speech register, already existent or nascent at the time of Plautus but never used him, simply comes to dominate later sources"; indeed I discussed this possibility, and K.'s formulation of it, at length in paragraph 5.

In note 6 K. usefully explains the difference of 'lepidus, bellus' etc. from the words he has considered. I still think, however, that it would have been helpful for him to have included further discussion of these words, if only to throw into relief the properties of the "language of social performance" itself.

A reviewer must, of course, be brief and selective; if, aware that I had already been overlong, I left a brief and misleading impression of his final chapter, this is now compensated by K.'s note 9. As to note 8: I agree that "the consumption and display of the aesthetic products of Hellenic culture did not require 'Greek erudition' per se." But what would it have required in practice to reshape the semantics of the words in question? This seems to be a substantive disagreement between K. and me: I think it would in practice have required a philhellenic coterie: at Rome philhellenism and aestheticism generally go hand in hand, and K. himself has shown that many uses of the "language of social performance" are inspired by Greek (cf., e.g., p.121 apropos elegans). One hopes that someone (K. himself?) will pursue the language of socio-aesthetic appraisal in Cicero's letters to Atticus: here we find two marked philhellenes often sharing aesthetic judgments.

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