Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.08.07

John F. Miller, Cynthia Damon, K. Sara Myers, Vertis in usum. Studies in Honor of Edward Courtney. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 161.   München, Leipzig:  Saur, 2002.  Pp. x, 286.  ISBN 3-598-77710-8.  EUR 98.00.  

Contributors: John Dillery, Michael Winterbottom, David Mehl, Niall Rudd, R. G. M. Nisbet, Charles E. Murgia, G. P. Goold, Dirk Obbink, J. C. McKeown, John F. Miller, D. E. Hill, Gareth Schmeling, James B. Rives, Cynthia Damon, K. Sara Myers, Gregory Hays, Jay Reed, Judith Evans Grubbs, Susan Treggiari, Jon D. Mikalson, Christopher A. Faraone, Jenny Strauss Clay, David Kovacs

Reviewed by J. A. Richmond, University College, Dublin (
Word count: 3130 words

The wide range of friends who have contributed to this book attests no less to the kindly temperament of Ted Courtney than to the appreciation of his numerous contributions to scholarship. I must declare an interest as I have had friendly contacts over many years with him, with N. Rudd, with G. P. Goold (whose untimely death last December after a long illness greatly saddened his many friends), and with J. C. McKeown. Most of the contributions are devoted to details of Latin studies (especially Latin verse), but there are four papers on Greek topics. The contributors have achieved a high standard, and the book should be acquired by serious classical libraries. The readership must consist of scholars and advanced students. Since articles published in Festschriften may easily escape attention and be difficult of access, this review concentrates on outlining the contents.

1. JOHN DILLERY "Quintus Fabius Pictor and Greco-Roman Historiography at Rome" (1-23). D. argues that Fabius drew on existing native traditions that were already much colored by the influence of Greek historical writing. Unlike Manetho and Berossus, Fabius had no authoritative Roman records independent of Greek influence. Archaeology shows how thoroughly Greek influence had already penetrated Rome in his time, and Roman legend shows similar trends. Thus, Fabius is engaged in a different task from the Egyptian, Babylonian and other historians in the Hellenistic world who wished to substitute what they considered accurate records in place of Greek romance.

2. MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM "Believing the Pro Marcello" (24-38). Following a suggestion in the Scholia Gronoviana, R. R. Dyer (JRS 80 (1990) 17-30) made an elaborate case to show that the "Pro Marcello" was a covert attack on Caesar, the meaning of which would have been accessible to the educated elite. W. carefully analyses the political and philosophical views of Cicero in 46 BC and concludes that the oration is to be taken at its face value. Of course, Cicero, being a politician, hardly expressed all that was in his mind, but can one believe that he thought his position so secure that he could attempt subtly to convey to the small educated public a message that would not be clear to Caesar and dangerously liable to malicious construction by Caesarian malignants? W. is convincing.

3. DAVID MEHL "The Stoic Paradoxes according to Cicero" (39-46). This is a discussion of Cicero's purpose in writing the "Paradoxa." Cicero elsewhere (e.g., fin. 4. 20-22) controverts the paradoxes, so one must ask whether he changed his mind or is not serious in presenting arguments for them. M. argues that Cicero follows Panaetius in holding that in everyday life one must aspire to being somewhat less than the perfect Stoic sage. In a light-hearted fashion (paradox. 3, cf. OLD s.v. 'ludo' 7a, 8a) he recommends the Paradoxes to his Roman contemporaries with illustrations from the virtues of the earlier heroes of the Roman Republic.

4. NIALL RUDD "Horatian Jottings" (47-55). R., who is both preparing a new Loeb translation of the Odes and Epodes and collaborating with R. G. M. Nisbet in the preparation of a commentary on Odes 3, here presents a series of perceptive discussions of 28 difficult Horatian passages from works other than Odes 3. It is impressive to see how new light is shed on problems, some familiar and some surprisingly fresh.1 The longest discussion is on the identity of the Vergilius of carm. 4.12: R. believes the poet is meant and suggests that the poem is written "in the same nostalgic mood that we find in the preceding and succeeding odes. ... Horace, then, set 4.12 in 40 BC, or a little later ..." However, the date of the book is so clearly set by the opening words of carm. 4.1 that the anachronism must be more than most readers will be able to swallow.

5. R. G. M. NISBET "Sera Vindemia: Marginal Notes on the Text of Horace and Juvenal" (56-66). This paper contains a series of textual suggestions advanced with "some hesitation."2 They are argued with ingenuity and the wide learning for which the author is celebrated. As an interesting example one may take 'adflatus' suggested for 'adventus' (carm. 1.23.6).

6. CHARLES E. MURGIA "Critica varia" (67-75). M. provides a long series of text-critical notes on: Aedit. epigr. 1; Catull. 64.116-120, 121-123; Cic. Brut. 162; Prop. 2.19.18, 4.1.8; Ascon. 53 (60.9 Clark): Suet. gramm. 13.1; Schol. Stat. Theb. 3.296; Symm. epist. 3.39; Mart. Cap. 317, 319. On a superficial reading, I found these notes illuminating and generally plausible: pressure of time, deficiencies in my knowledge, and limitations of space prevent me from attempting a more considered judgement.

7. G. P. GOOLD "Hypermeter and Elision in Virgil" (76-89). This article sets out to discover how Virgil intended that his hypermetrical verses should be pronounced. As G. is convinced of the importance of a stress accent in Virgil, he thinks it necessary to argue that hexameters ending with a monosyllable had the final words accented as a word group, thus keeping the accent on the penultimate syllable in the line ('aquae/ mons'; 'humi/ bos', etc.). He then argues that, when the final vowel of '-que' was omitted or elided, the enclitic did not affect the accent of the preceding word. This leads on to a consideration of the difficulty of elisions like 'Pollio et ipse' (Verg. ecl. 3.86), and the conclusion (p. 89) that "the rhetorical demands of the context compel the rhythmical continuum to accommodate elided vowels almost extra metrum without offending the ear." G. admits the speculative nature of his remarks on pronunciation, and I find many details on which I should have reservations.

8. DIRK OBBINK "Vergil, Philodemus, and the Lament of Iuturna" (90-113). In this interesting and very learned paper, O. compares the ideas in Juturna's speech (Verg. Aen. 12.872-884) with those to be discerned in Philodemus de Pietate 2 (P. Herc. 433 fr.2, col. 2+1088 fr. 1(6)). A new transcription of the papyrus is provided, with new supplements and commentary. Two topics are then discussed at length: how the immortality of the gods deprives them of death as a release from suffering, and, arising from the cruelty of the gods, what Virgil thought the mythological gods represented. I found the English of this paper occasionally less than pellucid, the sequence of thought sometimes rather obscure, and the odd detail hard to accept.

9. J. C. MCKEOWN "The Authenticity of Amores 3.5" (114-128). Remarking that the authenticity of the "Somnium" has found many defenders in recent years, M. decided to present an examination of the problem in more detail than would be possible in the forthcoming volume of his exemplary edition. He sets out the arguments pro and con fairly and adds an observation of his own, that intertextual references to Tibullus and Propertius, characteristic of the other elegies, are lacking in the "Somnium." This inclines him to ascribe it to an imitator. There are two points I should like to remark. Firstly, there is an absence from the "Somnium" of the mythological and geographical proper nouns so common in the "Amores" (lacking only in 3.11 3 3.11b 4 and 3.14 5). Secondly, while M. is correct in claiming that the tendency for poems in books of elegies to occur in multiples of five is no a priori argument that the "Somnium" is an intruder; nevertheless, it is hard to deny it some corroborative force, should the balance of evidence shift against authenticity.

10. JOHN F. MlLLER "Ovid on the Augustan Palatine (Tristia 3.1)" (129-139). In this useful discussion of the archaeological and literary aspects of the setting for the poem M. comments at length on the implications of Ovid's presentation of his book arriving at Rome. He sees more criticism of Augustus than I should (e.g. the idea that in using the phrase 'digna deo' (3.1.34) Ovid is "obliquely calling into question the emperor's reputation for humble living" by intending the reader to recall "Aeneid" 8.364-365).

11. D. E. HILL "Ovid and Augustus" (140-151). After an examination of the passages in Book 1 and at the end of Book 15 of the "Metamorphoses" H. concludes "not ...that Ovid is deliberately mocking the system in order to make some political or moral point but rather that his sense of the ridiculous cannot resist pricking, as I am sure he sees it, the pomposity of Augustus and his supporters" (p. 151). Undoubtedly, there are curious features in Ovid's laudation. One must remember, however, that his rhetorical schooling encouraged him to develop arguments to an extreme degree. This is to be seen especially in "Tristia" 2, where the very logic, ingenuity, and persistence of his arguments cannot but be calculated to have irritated rather than persuaded Augustus. Also, Ovid's acquaintance with legal fictions would enable him to argue that by adoption Augustus was not 'mortali semine cretus' (Ov. met. 15.760). It is exactly in Ovid's manner to ignore the provocative implication of 'semine' (p.146).

12. GARETH SCHMELING "(Mis)Uses of Mythology in Petronius" (152-163). This paper first shows how Petronius used myths to provide a background of expectation against which he could secure effects of originality and comic surprise. In particular the "Odyssey" is a shadowy parallel for the general plot of the 'novel.' The next theme developed is to show how Encolpius sees himself as successively playing the roles of several different characters from myth. Eumolpus, however, as a poet whose work required the use of myths, treats them in a more detached and manipulative way. Finally, Trimalchio uses myths for purposes of ostentation and entertainment. S. argues that Trimalchio, as one of the 'super-rich' cultivates a sloppiness of detail.

13. JAMES B. RIVES "Structure and History in the Germania of Tacitus" (164-173). Rives writes to defend the "Germania" against the influential adverse judgment in Syme's "Tacitus," p. 128. Arguments include: (1) the boundaries given (1.1) are geographical, not political; (2) the state of the Marcomanni and Quadi may represent a settlement in 97 with Nerva; (3) the geographical order of the tribes of Free Germany is distorted by the prominence given to the Chatti because of their importance in Domitian's wars; (4) the leading place of the Semnones may be attributed to Domitian's negotiations with them, probably in the early 90s (Dio 67.5.3). R. inclines to the view that Tacitus has 'up-dated' earlier reports. His somewhat speculative case is argued temperately.

14. CYNTHIA DAMON "The Emperor's New Clothes, or, On Flattery and Encomium in the Silvae" (174-188). This paper discusses the praises Statius gives to patrons other than the emperor, and shows how they are often absurdly exaggerated, particularly in mythological comparisons. She then proceeds to discuss why the poems were published and decides that there was a public interested in luxury and in poetic and artistic taste and that Statius' patrons were eager to display their accomplishments.

15. K. SARA MYERS "Psittacus Redux: Imitation and Literary Polemic in Statius, Silvae 2.4 " (189-199). M. examines Statius' "Silvae" 2.4 by placing it in the literary tradition which looks back especially to Ovid's "Amores" 2.6. Relying on the frequent comparison of poets to songbirds in classical literature, she essays 'meta-literary' interpretations. Various interesting suggestions are made, e.g., "it is tempting to suggest that the poem contained within it elements both of poetical polemic and of self-deprecatory commentary on the position of poets at this time" (p. 198). It is admitted that the original audience to whom the poem was submitted may have understood it differently from readers who met it after publication. M. disarmingly records Courtney's verdict "sometimes a dead parrot is just a dead parrot."

16. GREGORY HAYS "The Pseudo-Fulgentian Super Thebaiden" (200-218). A very systematic and thorough investigation by H. assembles evidence to strengthen the case that the mythographer Fulgentius cannot be the author of the brief "Super Thebaiden." The evidence is soberly stated, and varies in probative force. It seems to me that the argument from prose-rhythm is especially strong. The brevity of the "Super Thebaiden" makes comparison with the longer works more difficult, but the cumulative effect of H.'s case makes it clear that the "Super Thebaiden" is written in a style and language quite unlike that of the other works attributed to Fulgentius.

17. JAY REED "At Play with Adonis" (219-229). R. provides an examination of the inscriptional poem CIL 6.21521 (= CLE 1109), which describes the apotheosis of M. Lucceius Nepos. He discusses the myths about the afterlife of Adonis and the meaning the Romans gave to the representations of Adonis hunting the boar that are often found on sarcophagi of the second and third centuries. The poetic treatment in this inscription is shown to have echoes of the language used by Virgil to describe the apotheosis of Aeneas and by Ennius with reference to the apotheosis of Romulus. Readers are referred to Theocritus 15 and attention is drawn to Theocritus 17.45-50: "if our poet was not thinking specifically of this Alexandrian poem, he has somehow absorbed its terms through Virgil's, and in a revision of Virgil, recovered the theme of the avoidance of the Underworld." (One may remark that, if "Aeneid" 6 were lost, one who doubted that there was an allusion to Theocritus would be looked on as excessively skeptical.)

18. JUDITH EVANS GRUBBS "Stigmata Aeterna: A Husband's Curse" (230-242). In a discussion of CIL 6.20905, G. reconstructs the probable background of two inscriptions on a funerary altar. A certain Marcus Iunius Euphrosynus freed his slave Acte in order to marry her. The altar marks the burial-place of their daughter aged almost nine years. Some time later Marcus accused Acte of poisoning, adultery, and stealing his servants, and erased her name from the inscription on the altar. On the back of the altar he inscribed a curse against Acte and, if the corrupt final words are correctly restored, also against "Hymnus and6 those who followed Zosimus." If, as G. believes, Acte decamped with Zosimus, it is remarkable that he is not explicitly cursed.7 Acte's legal status is explained, and there is an interesting discussion of some parallels to this rather unusual curse.

19. SUSAN TREGGIARI "Caught in the Act: in filia deprehendere In the Lex Julia de Adulteriis" (243-249). T. discusses the degree of physical contact necessary to constitute adultery, especially in a case where the laws conferred the right of killing an adulterer discovered in the act. Comparisons with parallel definitions in some other jurisdictions are briefly provided.

20. JON D. MlKALSON "The Daimon of Eudaimonia" (250-258). This contribution enumerates what elements constituted εὐδαιμονία and how far it was felt to be conferred by a δαίμων. It is shown that in many poetic passages from Hesiod (who is the first to use the word εὐδαίμων) to Euripides we can more or less clearly identify the particular δαίμων/θεός who is the source of εὐδαιμονία. The philosophers inclined to a different view, thinking that each man's character and virtuous life was the source of his own εὐδαιμονία. Aristotle glances at the possible divine source of εὐδαιμονία, but contents himself with remarking that even if it is not divinely bestowed it seems to be one of the most divine things: φαίνεται ...τῶν θειοτάτων εἶναι. τὸ γὰρ τῆς ἀρετῆς ἆθλον καὶ τέλος ἄριστον εἶναι φαίνεται καὶ θεῖόν τι καὶ μακάριον (EN 1099 b 14).

21. CHRISTOPHER A. FARAONE "A Drink from the Daughters of Mnemosyne: Poetry, Eschatology and Memory at the end of Pindar's Isthmian 6" (259-270). The concluding verses of Pindar's sixth Isthmian are sensitively discussed by F. He argues that σφε refers to Lampon alone, and that the water of the Muses' (who are here "the daughters of Memory") fountain at Thebes, which Pindar will give Lampon to drink, apart from representing this poem also alludes to the Orphic belief that the initiates after death could secure a special happiness by drinking from the pool or spring of Memory. Therefore, Pindar's poem will enable Lampon after his death to recall his happiness at his son's triumph. σφε singular is hard to accept in Pindar, but one may remark that the meter would not admit νιν here. Given Pindar's interest in Orphic doctrine, it certainly seems possible that the resemblance is not fortuitous, and future commentators must remark it.

22. JENNY STRAUSS CLAY "Rowing for Athens" (271-276). C. sees in the rowing scene of Aristophanes' "Frogs" a pivotal part of the action, whereby Dionysus learns to row and becomes qualified as an Athenian citizen like the slaves who fought at Arginusae (his claim at vv. 50-51 to have done so is obviously false). This helps to explain his transformation from an aesthete and lover of Euripides before that scene to the man of balanced judgement who gives the victory to Aeschylus after it. "Like the slaves at Arginousae [sic], by manning the oar and rowing on behalf of Athens, the god is enfranchised ..." (p. 275). One may object that the simple act of learning to row is far removed from the danger of taking part in a battle vital for the survival of Athens.

23. DAVID KOVACS "Rationalism, Naive and Malign In Euripides' Orestes" (277-286). K. has just produced a new Loeb edition, and here he defends his view that in the scene where Orestes confronts the Furies he actually sees them and uses a real sword that Apollo had given him. He accepts the report in the scholia that contemporary actors used no sword because they represented Orestes as suffering from a delusion, seeing no actual Furies and having no sword. The clear inference is that the original actors used a real sword as a "prop" and followed a tradition that Orestes was not mad in the scene. However, Electra and later Orestes himself using a "naïve rationalism" falsely conclude that he has been deluded into thinking he has seen Apollo and the Furies. A "malign rationalism" impels Tyndareus and Menelaus, who have malign motives, to dismiss Apollo's command as a defense for Orestes' matricide. Aristotle's dictum (Poet. 1454 a 27) that the character of Menelaus is unnecessarily base may be explained by supposing that mere cowardice on his part would be sufficient to motivate his failure to defend Orestes and that Menelaus' desire to seize his kingdom is an unnecessary additional evil motive.

The book is pleasantly and accurately produced, and includes a graduation photograph of the honorand in Trinity College, Dublin. The patchy distribution in libraries and the heterogeneous contents of most Festschriften are irritating inconveniences for scholars; hence the provision of an index, lacking in this book, is very desirable. I noted some misprints, none serious. They include 129, n.2, accedunt<que>; p. 198, n. 55, meae vocisque (transpose); p. 241, n. 51, ton] tou; p. 274, n. 16, 12] 13; p. 278, the abbreviations for the personal names should have been set in Greek type.


1.   It is amusing to see Rudd (53) and Bentley adduce opposite arguments to support 'pater Aeneas' at carm. 4.7.15: "Pater Aeneas, which occurs only a few times in the Aeneid ...was much less likely to be substituted for the frequently recurring pius Aeneas than vice versa." "Et sane pater Aeneas vicies aut amplius apud Virgilium occurrit." In fact 'pater Aeneas' occurs in 19 passages (in two of which the words are separated), and 'pius Aeneas' also in 19 passages (in one of which the words are separated). (I have ignored the very few occurrences in the oblique cases.)
2.   With even more diffidence, I append the following to the discussion on Juv. 2.108-109. 'In Assyrio ... orbe' is apparently parallel to 'Actiaca ... carina.' As 'carina' stands by metonymy for 'nave', I suggest 'orbe' similarly stands for 'curru.' Virgil has 'orbis' as at least a rough equivalent for 'rotas' (georg. 3.173); Propertius uses the plural 'rotis' for 'curru.' (1.2.20), and Ovid the singular 'rota' for 'currus,' or the name of some other vehicle (ars 2.230).
3.   In v. 5 'amorem' may well be personified.
4.   The twenty lines of this short poem do not afford much room for ornament.
5.   The urgent, vehement tone here seems to militate against introduction of allusion.
6.   The supplementation of this word, not in the inscription, requires some defense.
7.   Perhaps 'those who followed Zosimus' corresponds to the idiom of οἱ ἀμφὶ πλάτωνα.

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