Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.10.36

W.B. Henry, Pindar's Nemeans, A Selection: Edition and Commentary.   München and Leipzig:  K. G. Saur, 2005.  Pp. xii, 133.  ISBN 3-598-73028-4.  €74.00.  



Reviewed by Douglas E. Gerber, University of Western Ontario (degerber@uwo.ca)
Word count: 563 words

This is a revised Oxford dissertation on Nemeans 4, 6, 8, 10 and 11. The texts are printed first with a thorough apparatus, and then each ode receives two or three pages of introduction, metrical analysis, and commentary. There is a brief bibliography and no index.

In the preface Henry makes the following statement: "It is impossible at this stage in Pindaric criticism to discuss everything that has been published on any ode. I have been selective, but not, I hope, excessively so." I think most Pindarists would agree with me that he has in fact been excessively selective. Although the commentary is good in terms of textual criticism and linguistic usage, it is woefully inadequate in terms of literary analysis and poetic technique. A prime example is his treatment of Nem. 4.33-43, a break-off passage following a brief myth. The interpretation of these verses has caused considerable difficulty and has been the subject of no less than three substantial articles in recent years, but the reader is left totally unaware of any controversy and is not referred to anyone who has discussed the passage. No mention is made of the wrestling imagery, on which see especially L. Lomiento in Nikephoros 3 (1990) 145-55. He translates καταβαίνειν in v. 38 as "to reach our goal" and states: "the sense 'come down to the contest' (Paley and others) is nowhere required in Pindar: see Radt on Pae. 2.34." The reference to Radt is appropriate enough, but Radt's treatment of the verb has not been widely accepted and Henry should have discussed or at least mentioned the opposing view expressed by Pfeijffer in his Three Aeginetan Odes of Pindar (Leiden 1999) 653-59. The only problem in these verses which Henry discusses in detail is the text of v. 36 where his emendation of καίπερ ἔχει to κεἰ περέχει is attractive.

The lack of references to Pindaric critics in the passage just cited is typical of the book as a whole. There are many places where it would have been appropriate to refer the reader to such critics as Bernardini, Hummel, Nünlist, Peron, Pfeijffer, Race or Sotiriou, to name only a few of the most recent, but they are never cited. In the preface he mentions my commentary on Nem. 6 and Willcock's on Nem. 4, but nowhere in his commentary on the two odes does he cite either one of us to indicate whether he agrees or disagrees.

There are eight passages where an emendation or supplement is proposed. In addition to Henry's emendation of Nem. 4.36 mentioned earlier, he prints εὐ<ρύ>πυργον in 4.12, suggested to him by West, his doctoral supervisor, and ἀξένῳ in 4.49, also suggested by West. In 6.35 Henry emends to ἱμᾶσι δεθείς and in 10.55 he emends to ἀμερᾶν. In 10.32 Schroeder had proposed and then rejected ἐσχάταις, but Henry adopts it. Henry was given access to Barrett's unpublished work and he adopts Barrett's <ἄγαγεν> in 6.18 (inserted at verse-end) and ηὗρον in 6.54. All of these are appropriately defended and may well be correct.

In conclusion, I have mixed feelings about whether this is a book that deserved publication. Although I have little quarrel with what he says, there is a great amount that should have been included. It would have been much more useful if he had limited his commentary to one or two odes and covered all aspects.

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