Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.05.21

Raymond Astbury (ed.), M. Terentius Varro: Saturarum Menippearum Fragmenta. Second edition.   Munich & Leipzig:  K. G. Saur, 2002.  Pp. xliv, 155.  ISBN 3-598-71236-7.  EUR 48.00.  

Reviewed by Regine May, University of Manchester (

Varro's Menippean Satires have recently become a trendy subject, and the last few years have brought us several new editions of them.1 It is thus welcome that Raymond Astbury's Teubner text has now undergone a second edition, with revisions by the author, who has devoted a life-long study to this text.

Astbury's second edition includes, as he states on p. xxv, corrections of some errors, some new readings and added bibliography. He also completes the concordance with the numeration of Cèbe's edition in his Concordantia numerorum.

No radical changes of mind have taken place between his two editions: Astbury on the whole reprints the text of the first edition, with additions and changes in addenda and additional pages, which I will discuss below. Overall, the second edition follows the same principles as the first edition.

These editorial decisions are dealt with in the reviews of the first editions,2 so that I may content myself here with briefly summarising the overall outline of the edition.

Astbury in the second edition maintains his overall cautiously conservative decision to add cruces frequently (e.g. 92 +fragmine+). In other editorial decisions he also sticks to his guns, as e.g. in 87 he still deletes amare as a gloss in order to arrange the text as two Ionic tetrameters a maiore (the only instance of this metre in the fragments of the Menippean Satires), although most reviewers strongly recommended keeping it in the text (Jocelyn, Verdière et al.).

The second edition keeps unaltered some of the idiosyncrasies of the first edition, notably when he retains some unusual spellings in following the readings of Codex Lugdunensis Vossianus F 73 saec. ix, since he believes that it is "most valuable for restoring ancient orthography" (cf. pp. v and xxv), and, whenever the orthography of the codex is inconsistent, he maintains this inconsistency. For example see the spelling of sed (spelled thus in 5, 31, 45 et al.) as set at 44 and 337, where on both occasions it is unfortunately omitted in the wordlist, or the spelling of apud (189, 543, 575) interchanging with aput (257, 336, 400). Some clarification of orthography and its respective uses may have been desirable since it is not at all clear whether this codex of Nonius Marcellus' De compendiosa doctrina indeed preserved Varro's own spellings, and some of these idiosyncrasies needlessly increase the difficulties offered by reading an already hard text.

The text itself consists of the careful reconstruction of 591 (usually short) genuine and 14 dubious or spurious fragments, both kinds mostly extracted from the texts of the grammarians who cite them. The second edition reprints verbatim the preface to the first with its careful evaluation of the codices (primarily those of Nonius, but also of other grammarians) used to reconstruct the text, including stemmata and bibliographies of their editions and respective textual traditions. This is followed by a discussion of previous editions of the Menippean Satires and, under De ordine fragmentorum, a succinct explanation of the lex Lindsay (p. xvii ff). Lindsay argues that Nonius used 140 diverse sources and excerpted their indices of words and phrases in exactly the same order in which they occurred in the sources, and collated them in all his works always according to the same principle; this theory is important not only for the reconstruction of the works of Varro from Nonius' quotations, but also for other fragmentary authors (e.g. Lucilius). Although the lex Lindsay and thus the order of Varro's fragments has occasionally been attacked and modified, it still offers the most consistent way of arranging and making sense of these excruciatingly contextless fragments.

This discussion is followed by a summary of Jerome's catalogue of Varro's works (under Astbury's heading De saturis agnoscendis, p. xxi ff.), a brief statement on the orthography used as that of MS Lugdunensis Vossianus F 73 saec. ix, (cf. above), and the problems arising from Varro's prosimetric style.

Astbury gives an extensive bibliography relevant for constituting the text. His first edition already included a main bibliography and a few Librorum conspectui addenda. In his second edition, on p. xlif., he adds a new bibliography of two pages, so that now a reader has to consult three different bibliographies, namely a Librorum conspectus and two different Librorum conspectui addenda. The few testimonia are listed on p. xliii, and the introduction ends with a Conspectus siglorum et notarum on p. xliii f.

The edition itself offers a densely printed text following the numeration and arrangement of Buecheler's edition, and three substantial apparatuses, with the first giving sources and contexts of the fragments, the second references to and passages of previous literature cited or imitated by Varro, and the third a (negative) apparatus criticus, with manuscript readings and conjectures.

It is followed by several useful indices: a list of proper names and a wordlist of the fragments, and a list of metres as well as other modern authors' attempts to define the metre of some fragments (tentamina metrica), with an addendum on 577.

On page 143 he lists a few corrections and additions to the apparatus criticus, especially where he prints cruces desperationis himself (on 304, 305, 463, 465). The additions to the apparatus criticus are mostly suggestions by Cèbe and Krenkel, to which are added some corrections and additions, such as omissions of emendations and readings (e.g. Lachmann's correction in 400). None of the new conjectures makes it into the printed text of Astbury's second edition.

Finally, as already mentioned, he gives a concordance to other editions (Buecheler, Oehler, Riese, Bolisani, Della Corte, and finally Cèbe, now completed in the second edition).

Similarly, not much has changed since the first edition where the text of the fragments and the diverse apparatuses is concerned. I only found a few minor changes, corrections of obvious errors or misprints:

In the text he corrects the arrangement of the line endings in 428 to indicate that it is a senarius (a matter the index of metres in both editions has already made clear). In the source apparatus of 31 and 333-341 he deletes the reference to the Lexicon vetus, which Jocelyn in CR 38 (1988), 35 criticised as superfluous since it was inspired by Priscian, Gellius and Macrobius and need not be given a separate entry.

Other misprints, for example the entry in the apparatus criticus on Fragmentum falso vel temere Menippeis adscriptum VI remains uncorrected. It should read Lindsay CQ 23, not 32. But omissions like these are minor.

Any more radical changes in the layout and the text and apparatuses would presumably have increased the price of the volume. Some of the disadvantages, e.g. having to consult three bibliographies as well as the short list of additions and corrections to the apparatus criticus on p. 143, are only small inconveniences a reader of Varro's fragments can easily live with.


1.   There are two new editions with commentary: The extensive edition in thirteen volumes: Varro M. Terentius Varro: Satires ménippées, éd., trad. & comm. par Jean-Pierre Cèbe. Rome: de Boccard, 13 vols 1972-1999 has now been completed. New is also: Marcus Terentius Varro: Saturae Menippeae : lateinisch-deutsch; mit Anm. hrsg. von Werner A. Krenkel. Rostock: Institut für Altertumswissenschaften, 2000 (neither is under review here).
2.   Koutroubas: Platon XXXVIII (1986), 206-207. Rosado Fernandes: Euphrosyne XV (1987), 451. Frassinetti: Athenaeum LXV (1987), 289-290. Cèbe: Gnomon LX (1988), 196-199. Bernardi Perini: MusPat V (1987), 177-178. Verdière: AC LVI (1987), 368-369. Flobert: BAGB (1988), 95-96. Jocelyn: CR XXXVIII (1988), 33-36. Zaffagno: Maia XL (1988), 211-213. Deschamps: Latomus XLVIII (1989), 435-436.

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