Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.12.27

Kieran McGroarty (ed.), Eklogai: Studies in Honour of Thomas Finan and Gerard Watson.   Maynooth:  Department of Ancient Classics, 2001.  Pp. xvii, 132.  ISBN 0-901519-34-0.  

Contributors: George Huxley, James McEvoy, Kieran McGroarty, Maeve O'Brien, Thomas O'Loughlin, John O'Meara, Martin Pulbrook, Keith Sidwell, David Woods

Reviewed by John Higgins, The Gilbert School (
Word count: 1165 words

This slim (132 pages) Festschrift honors the careers of two classicists from The National University of Ireland, Maynooth, at once the oldest and newest of the colleges making up the Irish National University system. Founded in 1795, Maynooth was for most of its existence exclusively a seminary for the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, only opening its doors to lay students in the 1960's. It soon became an important contributor to the general educational life of the country. I mention this since a major part of the achievement of the two scholars honored by this book was to bring the college out of its rather inward looking and (literally) insular past as a training institution preparing a small group of men for a particular career, to become a modern, comprehensive secular university. Prof. Finan and the late Prof. Watson guided the transformation of the Ancient Classics Department into what it has become -- one of the larger classics departments in the country, and the one most hospitable to scholars from Ireland. The growth seen in recent years is a direct result of their efforts.

The collection includes the following articles: George Huxley, "Theocritus on Lizards in Walls," pp. 1-2; James McEvoy, "Friendship and Mutual Deception in Book IV of the Confessions of Augustine," pp. 3-19; Kieran McGroarty, "The Ethics of Plotinus," pp. 20-34; Maeve O'Brien, "Seneca's Hint of Political Dissidence," pp. 35-43; Thomas O'Loughlin, "Patrick on the Margins of Space and Time," pp. 44-58; John O'Meara, "Recurring Themes in Catullus and Virgil. Catullus: Poems 63,64, 68; Virgil: Aeneid IV; Georgics IV," pp. 59-72; Martin Pulbrook, "A Correction to A Brief History of Time," pp. 73-77: Keith Sidwell, "Aristotle, Poetics 1456a 25-321," pp. 78-84; David Woods, "Some Eunapiana," pp. 85-132.

Festschriften tend of their nature to be diffuse, and this one is no exception. There is something here for everyone (except archaeologists), but no unifying theme to the collection. Some of the offerings are slight in the extreme. The most successful seem to be the ones devoted to continuing research the authors have undertaken elsewhere. Among the more substantial pieces of scholarship, McEvoy's article is explicitly a "footnote" to his earlier article in Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale 53 1986) 40-92. The account that Augustine gives in the "Carthage passage" of his friendship with other Manichaeans was an immature friendship entered into as a result of his good friend's death, and lacked caritas -- the mark of true, i.e., Christian, fellowship. For Augustine, caritas includes the transcendent love of God and unlimited love of one's neighbor. McEvoy compares the passage with Cicero De Amicitia 7.24.

O'Loughlin's article is part of an intriguing series of studies "applying the notion of 'mental maps' to early medieval literary texts" (fn., p. 45). The present essay examines Patrick's "mental map" of his mission to the Irish. The Confessio and Epistula ad Milites Corotici provide a rich source for this investigation. The two biographical works make extensive use of scripture; quotation and the implications of the context from which the quotations come suggest that Patrick "...saw himself as a stranger in Ireland working on the fringes of human space and time (p. 58)." Since the ends of the earth were associated in his mind with the Eschaton, his work there in preaching the Gospel would usher in the end of the world.

Keith Sidwell makes the interesting suggestion that Aristotle, in the context of his discussion of the insertion ("ἐμβόλιμα") of choral lyrics into plays for which they were not written -- a practice of which Aristotle disapproves -- also refers to the practice of inserting speeches and scenes from different plays into revival productions of the tragedies of the Fifth Century tragedians during his own lifetime. This is in contrast to the view that the insertion of scenes from one play into another was a late development, the contaminatio of Roman times.

David Woods' article is the longest piece in the collection, some 47 pages out of the total of 132. It consists of four notes on specific problems in Eunapius, whose History has not survived; the notes deal with later writers' misunderstandings of Eunapius and Eunapius' own misunderstandings of his sources. The notes include "Constantine I and the Persicomites", providing a discussion of the account in the Guidi-legend of Constantine's expedition against and capture by the Persians and his acquisition of guards called the "Persicomites". Woods provides an explanation for the identity of the guards' unit, as the putative comites [Persae] clibanarii, paired in the Notitia Dignitatum with the equites Persae clibanarii. The account of Constantine's campaign and capture is "a displaced and distorted account of the earliest phase of the wars between Constantius II and Sapor II of Persia" (p. 101). Eunapius is the most likely ultimate source for the account. "On the Identity of the Egyptian from Spain (Zozimus HN 2.29)" identifies the bishop as actually the Egyptian Paphnutius; Eunapius misunderstood his source, which named a bishop from Spain, Osius, in connection with Paphnutius. Eunapius understood the bishop's name as an adjective, "holy". "The Burning of a Hadrianeum under Jovian" occurred in Alexandria, not Antioch, and against his will. "Goths or Monks?", on Eunapius' VS 7.3.5, 476), asserts that Eunapius misidentified a tribe of barbarians, possibly Goths, called "Blackcloaks" as traitorous monks leading Alaric through the pass at Thermopylae in 396.

In the other articles, Huxley suggests that the lizard mentioned in Idyll 7. 22 may be a gecko. McGroarty examines the contradiction between the otherworldly focus of Neoplatonism, in which the sage withdraws as far as possible form the world in contemplation, and the recorded facts of Plotinus' life: he was a kind person to all around him. O'Brien suggests that Seneca's praise of the new emperor Nero in his Apocolocyntosis is reflected in his critical comments on Atreus (Thyestes 848-874), dated to 62 A.D. Seneca changed his mind about the philhellene Nero and hints at this in his tragedy about Greek rulers. O'Meara in his essay on Catullus and Virgil (which would have benefitted from a stronger editorial hand) points out the connections among the stories of Protesilaus and Laudamia, Theseus and Ariadne, and Attis in Catullus, and the Dido and Aeneas and Orpheus and Eurydice episodes in Virgil. Catullus emphasizes the furor of love and the consequent thoughtlessness of lovers: their obsession leads to "self-regarding heedlessness". Virgil's Dido and Aeneas are caught up in the same nexus, although Aeneas eventually comes to his senses and feels the duty of founding Rome. In the passage from the Georgics, Orpheus makes a contrast with Aristaeus, exemplifying the lover who gives in to irrationality; Virgil's aim is to privilege the life of duty and reason over irrational erotic obsession. Pulbrook notes that Stephen Hawking does not mention his precursors, Pythagoras, Heraclides, Aristarchus and Hipparchus.

The volume begins with two biographical notes, one for each honorand, and a bibliography of their scholarly work. Misprints are nearly nonexistent: I noted only one misplaced comma, on page 61.

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