Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.07.59

Lisa Piazzi (ed.), Ovidii Nasonis Heroidum epistula VII: Dido Aeneae.   Firenze:  Felice Le Monnier, 2007.  Pp. 349.  ISBN 9788800206679.  €39.00.  

Reviewed by Antonio Ramírez de Verger, Universidad de Huelva (
Word count: 2115 words

This volume comprises an introduction (pp. 13-93), edition of the Latin text with a brief critical apparatus (pp. 95-105), Italian translation (pp. 107-11) and commentary (pp. 113-306). The book closes with an ample bibliography (pp. 307-327) and two very useful indices (pp. 329-349: 1. Parole e cose notevoli; 2. luoghi citati).1

The introduction provides a useful examination of the models for Ovid's letter, in particular book IV of the Aeneid (pp. 13-67) and epistolary rhetoric (pp. 68-93). This is followed by the Latin text and a translation into Italian (pp. 95-111). The Latin text is accompanied by an apparatus criticus, much indebted to Knox (Cambridge, 1995) with additions from Dörrie (Berlin-New York, 1971), as P. herself states on p. 95. However, she notes on pp. 96-97 those readings which differ from Knox's edition. P. has chosen not to review the tradition of Ovid's text, in a desire to focus primarily on the commentary. Even so, it seems a pity that she does not devote some space to the readings of as-yet unstudied manuscripts (eg, the 14th-c. Morgan Library 810 or two Princetonienses from the 15th c. [Kane 34 and Garret 107] or the Córdoba Florilegium, Archivo Capitular 150 [cf. doct. diss. by Beatriz Fernández de la Cuesta, Madrid, 2006) or that once again the main manuscripts have not been read. The task is neither too arduous nor of excessive scope. For instance, the oldest manuscript, the 9th-10th c. Parisinus lat. 8242 (Puteaneus), contains letter 7 on folios 12r-15v, where it is generally easy to read. It is, of course, welcome news that commentaries on the Heroides such as that of P. continue to appear but the publication of a new, reliable edition of these beautiful letters of Ovid remains a pressing desideratum.

P.'s commentary is very complete and full of good, thought-provoking discussions on all sorts of questions, linguistic, literary and textual. She is obviously very much at home with the Ovidian bibliography, but I find it surprising that she has not taken into account the earlier editions of Palmer's edition, of which she cites the 1898 version (London, 1874: Heroides 1-14; London, 1894: Postgate's Corpus Poetarum Latinorum) or Häuptli (Düsseldorf-Zürich, 2001, 2nd ed.) or the commentaries of D. J. van Lennep (Amsterdam, 1812), V. Loers (Cologne, 1829) and J. Terpstra (Leiden, 1829). I shall therefore limit myself to making a few observations on passages of varying degrees of difficulty.

4 movimus is suspicious. There is an unattractive repetition in moveri (v. 3) ...movimus (v. 4), as was pointed out by Palmer (1898, p. 38); Knox (1995, p. 203) states that the repetition "is deliberate but not rhetorically effective". In addition, movimus does not properly suit the context of Virgil, Aen. 7.44 (maius opus moveo) or similar contexts (Palmer 1898, p. 339), but is rather one of entreaty (v. 3), in which vows or wishes are formulated, as P. herself points out ("Didone non spera di convincere Enea, perché ha 'formulato questi voti' rivolgendosi a un dio ostile", on p. 121). Besides, the confusion between movere, vovere and fovere is frequent in the manuscripts, as at am. 2.15.27 (voveo, moveo, foveo and moneo; cf. the Teubner edition by Ramírez de Verger, 2006, 2nd ed., p. 81), Ib. 127 (voveo, moveo, moneo; cf. the edition by La Penna, 1957, p. 28), 241 (movimus, vovimus; cf. also p. 49). Hence N. Heinsius (1658, p. 31; also Bentley, cf. Hedicke, Studia Bentleiana, p. 7) read vovimus, which is found, according to Dörrie (p. 104) in Dresdensis 142, s. XIII. Burman, however, keeps movimus on the basis of ars 1.29 (Vsus opus movet hoc) and Her. 15.4 ( hoc breve nescires unde movetur [veniret edd. plerique] opus), but the context is very different ('grandiose', says Hollis [1977, p. 37] of movet at ars 1.29). In addition, Heinsius (as well as Bentley) proposed in his notes (1658, p. 55), not in the text, averso for adverso. Burman (1727, I, p. 90) settled the matter in favour of adverso in these terms: "aversi vero proprie dii, si excedere ex templis, destituere loca, aut homines, ante amata inducuntur. Adversi, ubi inimica mente, iniqui, irati, contrarii sunt". The sense of the line is given by Ruhnken (1831, p. 47): "Sensus est: jam ante precibus optavimus te moveri posse, sed ea vovimus Deo irato". Read also W. S. Anderson, "The Heroides", J. W. Binns, ed., Ovid, Boston, 1973, pp. 81-2.

11 Most of the manuscripts (PGω) have crescentia, a reading that has been maintained by the vast majority of editors. In his notes, Burman (1727, I, p. 91) defended surgentia and Knox (1995, p. 205) finds irresistible the Virgilian passage o fortunati quorum iam moenia surgunt (Aen. 1.437). P. also incorporates surgentia into her text, but the comments of Ruhnken (1831, p. 48: "Burm. ex uno cod. praefert surgentia moenia. Perperam. Nam surgentia glossema est, et omnia, quae in altum tollantur, eleganter crescere dicuntur"; cf. also van Lennep, 1812, p. 198) and Palmer (1898, p. 340: "crescentia describes the gradual growth in height of the walls better than the variant surgentia, and is defended by Met. 15.451 cognataque moenia laetor crescere; 11.201; Prop. 4.1.56 qualia creverunt moenia lacte tuo) advise greater prudence in spite of the divine Virgil.

26 As P. rightly argues, it is possible to maintain diesque, making unnecessary the change to quiesque proposed by Housman (CR 11, 1897, p. 202) and accepted by Goold (1977, p. 84) and Knox (1995, p. 61). To the parallel adduced by Burman (1727, I, p. 92) and P. (ars 2.348 exhibeat vultus noxque diesque tuos) can be added trist. 3.3.18 (nulla venit sine te nox mihi, nulla dies), Pont. 2.4.25 (longa dies citius brumali sidere noxque) and Ib. 116 (noxque die gravior sit tibi, nocte dies).

33-6 With the text of P. as it stands (p. 100), one should say along with Burman (1727, I, p. 93) "nondum tamen video sensum, cum suspensa sit oratio". The most satisfying proposal in my view is that of Ehwald (1916, p. 96), who connects ego (v. 33) with fallor (v. 35), the text reading as follows:

aut ego, quae coepi (neque enim dedignor) amare
(materiam curae praebeat ille meae!),
fallor, et ista mihi falso iactatur imago:
matris ab ingenio dissidet ille suae.

53-4 P. (pp. 174-5) rightly shows that "In ogni casi il testo tradito dà un ottimo senso e non è necessario l'emendamento di si in quasi (Bentley [Studia Bentleiana, p. 7] e Diggle [CQ17, 1967, 38]) accolto da Goold e Knox". It should be mentioned in passing that no modern editor alludes to the variant nescieris, introduced into the text by Heinsius (1658, p. 58 of his notes: "tres libri, bene, ultima producta, ut Art. Amat. 1.222, etc.") and others down to Heusinger (1786, p. 45; cf. Ruhnken, 1831, p. 49), Jahn (1828, p. 52) and Loers (1829, pp. 151-152). P. also keeps the indicative possunt in the indirect question, but possint is attested in some good manuscripts (cf. Dörrie, 1971, p. 107). In line 54 P., like Ruhnken (1831, p. 49) and Palmer (1874, p. 60; 1898, p. 343) before her, is also right to link male with credis and not with expertae, as is implied by Knox's translation (1995, p. 212).

67 On the perjury of love, see also A. Skiadas, "Periuria amantum. Zur Geschichte und Interpretation eines Motivs des augusteischen Liebesdichtung", in Monumentum Chiloniense (Festschrift für E. Burck), Amsterdam, 1975, pp. 400-418.

85-6 In the preceding lines Dido accuses Aeneas of being treacherous and false, not only to her, whose love he has betrayed, but to his father Anchises, whom he failed to carry on his shoulders, and to his wife Creusa, whom he deliberately abandoned in the fire of Troy. Dido is recalling that Aeneas used to tell her these sugar-laden tales (haec mihi narraras) in such a way that they managed to move her (at me movere). And precisely because of her ingenuousness and credulity she deserves the punishment meted out to slaves who have committed a serious offence: being branded by fire (cf. 3.138, Tib. 1.5.5 and 1.9.21-2) [passages cited by P. on p. 207; cf. A. Ramírez de Verger, AJPh 107, 1986, 109-110). This punishment, however cruel, will be less onerous (Dido reasons) than the guilt (vv. 105, 191) or the crime (v. 164) of having fallen in love with a traitor such as Aeneas (Ruhnken, 1831, p. 50: "si me vel saevissimis suppliciis vexaveris, tamen illa poena levior futura est quam stultitia et temeritas mea fuit, qua tibi fidem habui et te amavi"; cf. Terpstra, 1829, p. 188; Palmer 1874, pp. 62-3; Eggerding 1908, pp. 158-160). If this interpretation is correct, the text can be kept as follows without the cruces desperationis of Dörrie and P.:

haec mihi narraras; at me movere! Merentem
ure: minor culpa poena futura mea est.

92 Franz Xaver Werfer ("Lectionum in Ovidii Heroidas specimen", Acta Philologorum Monacensium, I, 1814, p. 547) suggested a possible restoration of this line: "Scribendum puto: nec mihi concubitu fama sepulta foret! i.e.: nec mea fama concubitu sepulta foret, coll. Ep. ex Pont. I, 5, 85 tunc cum mea fama sepulta est. Petr. fragm. p. 675 [carmen 32.2 Bücheler] quem laudat Kuinoelius p. 11 fama sepulta probris. Huic enim emendationi favet totus orationis contextus, ne Dido quiddam humile et se indignum eloquatur". Ruhnken (1831, p. 50) also adduces the parallel of Propertius, 3.15.9 (cuncta tuus sepelivit amor) and explains fama sepulta as 'obscurata, obruta, ut nulla eius memoria exstaret' (cf. Terpstra, 1829, p. 189). In the Milan edition of 1517 (f. XLv) foret sepulta is explained as 'taceretur'. I believe that Palmer (1874, p. 63) points to the correct interpretation when he states "the emendation of Werfer...will naturally occur to every one. But Ovid evidently refers to the rumour of Dido's intercourse with Aeneas, described at length in a famous passage, Aen. iv 172 extemplo Libyae magnas it fama per urbes', etc.". Cf. also Loers (1929, p. 156): "Sensus loci est: His officiis utinam contenta fuissem et utinam fama illa, quae percrebuit, concubitus, sepulta, extincta, deleta, inanis, nulla esset!".

96 Nothing is said (P., p. 217) of the choice of fati...mei in the notes of van Lennep (1812, p. 201 basing himself on Epic. Drusi, 401 Iuppiter ante dedit fati mala signa cruenti; Burman had conjectured thalamis for fatis, cf. 2.117). Palmer (1874, p. 64) was the first to incorporate van Lennep's correction into the text, stating "I do not think it likely that a Roman poet would talk of the Furies giving a signal to the Fates". Loers (1829, p. 157), however, had defended the reading of the manuscripts: "Sed tamen nihil videtur mutandum. Dicit poeta: Eumenidum erant voces, quae fata mea indicarent, signa fatorum meorum darent, pro quo poetice per dativum fatis meis signa dederunt; nam fata sunt casus, infortunium".

108 The variant tori, accepted by Merkel (1873, p. 95), Palmer (1874, p. 65 and dubitanter in 1898, p. 43) and Häuptli (20012, pp. 70, 273) for viri is not cited; the same variants appear in 5.78 (legitimos...viros/toros, where along with Burman [1727, I, 63; cf. fast. 5.24, Pont. 3.3.50, Mart. 6.21.6] we should read toros instead of viros), 16.286 (tori / viri) and 19.100 (Abideno...toro / viro).

152 Up to regis, the second 12th-century hand of the oldest manuscript, the ninth- to tenth-century Puteaneus or Parisinus lat. 8342 (f. 14v) has erased the original reading and replaced it with inque loco. Palmer's proposals iamque locum (1874, p. 67) or resque loco (CR 5, 1891, 93), accepted by the editors as a lesser evil, are unsatisfactory, since the expressions in loco regis or locum regis are characteristic of prose and are also late Latin (cf. the 8th-c. Paulus Diaconus, Excerpta ex libris Festi, p. 98: Interregnum appellatur spatium temporis, quousque in loco regis mortui alius ordinetur. The cruces desperationis should unfortunately be taken as a sign that verum adhuc latet. Besides, there is no reference to Burman's proposal (1727, I, pp. 102-103) hancque, locum regni, sceptraque sacra tene, which was followed by van Lennep (1812, p. 40) and Terpstra (1829, p. 200) and on the basis of which Loers (1929, p. 166), Merkel (18732, p. 96) and Riese (1871, p. 25) chose to read hancque loco regis.

179-180 Burman (vol. I, p. 105) commented with reference to this 'locus desperatus' "Douza temperat usu pro 'temperatur', id est 'tolerabilis fiat', capiebat".

To complete the bibliography offered by P., see also the additions listed in my review of A. N. Michalopoulos in BMCR 2007.09.53 and J. Delz, "Heroidibus Ovidianis argutiae restitutae", U. J. Stache, W. Maaz und F. Wagner, eds., Kontinuität und Wandel. Lateinische Poesie von Naevius bis Baudelaire. Franco Munari zum 65. Geburtstag, Weidmann, 1986, pp. 79-88.


1.   This review has been translated from the Spanish by J. J. Zoltowski, whom I wish to thanks for his corrections. Thanks are also due to the Junta de Andalucía for its grant in aid of research (HUM-1019).

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