Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.07.59

O. Pecere, A. Stramaglia, Studi apuleiani. Note di aggiornamento di L. Graverini.   Cassino:  Edizioni dell' Università degli Studi di Cassino, 2003.  Pp. 300.  ISBN 88-8317-012-1.  

Reviewed by Ana Pérez Vega, Universidad de Sevilla (
Word count: 1001 words

This book consists mainly of a collection of previously published articles on Apuleius, written by Oronzo Pecere and Antonio Stramaglia and edited by the University of Cassino. They have been gathered on the basis of their authors and the topic, but there is a complex variety of approaches. To a certain extent, it is true that, as Graverini points out (p. 179), none of these studies, which appeared from 1984 to 1996, is completely outdated: they are still worth reading. Regarding the need to re-publish them, the authors adduce as main reasons the difficulty of finding the original articles, as well as the opportunity to present them in a more refined version. There have been, however, minor changes within the articles: updating has been limited to Graverini's notes at the end of the volume.

The first chapter, "Esemplari con subscriptiones e tradizione dei testi latini. L'Apuleio Laur. 68, 2", was published in C. Questa - R. Raffaelli (eds.), Atti del convegno internazionale "Il libro e il testo" (Urbino, 20-23 settembre 1982), Urbino 1984, 111-137. This article draws on the traditional idea (proposed by Keil) that the whole text of Apuleius' opera maiora-Metamorphoses, Apologia, Florida- depends on one single manuscript, Laurentianus 68.2 (Florence). This codex is enriched by valuable subscriptions, essential to the elucidation of the history of its manuscript transmission; the one at the end of Metamorphoses IX is particularly interesting for it mentions a reviser, Sallustius, and two revisions: in Rome, 395, and Constantinople, 397. Pecere analyses the circumstances of Sallustius' work, which indeed must have affected the result, as well as the meaning of the subscriptions with the view to reconstructing the history of the extant text. The analysis of the facts is well documented, and some of the hypotheses are well founded. In spite of the abundant bibliography on the history of Montecassino, codex F, and the transmission of Apuleius work in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages-cf. pp. 180-181-, P.'s article is still interesting.

The following chapter, also by Oronzo Pecere, entitled "Qualche riflessione sulla tradizione di Apuleio a Montecassino", appeared in G. Cavallo (ed.), Le strade del testo, Bari 1987, 99-124. It is certainly the most relevant and revolutionary article in this collection: he was the first to question Robertson's stemma for Apuleius' major work and to propose a new hypothesis. F is not the origin of all other manuscripts; in fact, both the Assisi fragment -C- and the antenato of class I derive directly from the model of the Laurentianus. In that case, the relative importance of the manuscripts would change considerably, inasmuch as manuscripts such as A would no longer serve just to confirm some readings in its model or to support conjectures, but would be first-hand documents of the manuscript tradition. There is another far-reaching hypothesis: P. contemplates the possibility that there might be a lacuna between Metamorphoses and Florida (the reproduction of F's 183v and 184r on pages 297-98 will be very helpful for those wishing to draw their own conclusions). Although the author thinks it is more likely that the beginning of Florida is missing, his hypothesis is the starting point for de Danielle van Mal-Maeder's curious idea that the last book of Metamorphoses was lost.1 Graverini aptly evaluates the impact of this article (pp. 183-184): at the beginning, there was a drastic change in the estimation of C and the manuscripts of class I, especially A, (see GCA 1995, 14), but this has evolved into a more traditional attitude, contrary to P.'s thesis, as in, for instance, Magnaldi (MAGNALDI, G. - GIANOTTI, G.F. (eds.), Apuleio, Storia del testo e interpretazioni, Alessandria 2000, 31).

The following chapter, by Antonio Stramaglia, is a probe into a kind of text the author later studied in his remarkable book Res inauditae, incredulae (Bari, 1999). The main point of "Aspetti di letteratura fantastica in Apuleio. Zatchlas Aegyptius propheta primarius e la scena di necromanzia nella novella di Telifrone (met. 2,27-30)" -- originally in AFLB 33, 1990, 159-220 -- consisted of a penetrating analysis of the final episode of Thelyphron's story in terms of narrative technique, especially with regard to the articulation of this story about necromancy and the dead coming back to life by means of various fantastic motifs.

In "Otri e proverbi in Apuleio, met. 2,32 - 3,18" (ZPE 99, 1993, 37-40) Antonio Stramaglia and Francesca Brancaleone offered an interesting, yet brief, reflection on the use of proverbs, relating to the wineskin in the famous episode in which Lucius kills the three illusory thieves.

"Apuleio come auctor" (Studi Umanistici Piceni 16, 1996, 137-161), by A. Stramaglia, studies Apuleius' authority as a literary author and exemplary stylist, not in the Renaissance, which has received close attention (e.g. D'Amico en RenQ 37, 1984, 351-392), but in Late Antiquity until the beginnings of the Middle Ages.

Less momentous are "Prisciano e l'Epitoma historiarum di Apuleio", by Stramaglia, on Priscian's knowledge of Apuleius' work and the meaning of his quotations, (RFIC 124, 1996, 192-198), and Annamaria Di Piro's appendix: "Le Metamorfosi di Apuleio nella tradizione indiretta. I testi" (Invigilata Lucernis 17, 1995, 55-76), which gathers the passages where Apuleius narrative works have been cited.

Part of the interest of this re-edition lies in the possibility of reconsidering how criticism has evolved in recent years: Gaverini's note di aggiornamento (pp. 179-202), a commentated bibliography, assesses the evolution of Apuleian studies regarding the aforementioned articles. This is the only true novelty of the book, being a valuable study in itself, in spite of its thematic limitations.

The book also contains fine and useful illustrations of fragments of the codices and an outstanding updated bibliography (54 pages), as well as helpful indices of quoted passages, manuscripts, names and a general index. To sum up, this volume enables the reader to consult some of the most influential articles on diverse aspects of Apuleius' work and could be a handy tool for the philologist interested in this author. The update by Graverini and the superb indices definitely enhance the value of the book.


1.   Mal-Maeder, D. van, "Lector, intende: laetaberis. The Enigma of the last Book of Apuleius' Metamorphoses," in Hofmann, H. - Zimmerman, M. (eds.), Groningen Colloquia on the Novel VIII, Groningen 1997, 87-118.

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