Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.12.34

Maria Elisabetta Giannuzzi (ed.), Stratone di Sardi: Epigrammi. Satura, 7.   Lecce:  Pensa multimedia, 2007.  Pp. 478.  ISBN 9788882356408.  €34.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by Guillermo Galán Vioque, Universidad de Huelva (
Word count: 1463 words

The publication of a philological commentary is always a welcome event, and this one is no exception. However, the appearance of the commentary reviewed here is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that it is no less than the fourth monograph devoted to the epigrams of Strato in just over a decade, following on as it does from the studies by M. González Rincón (Estratón de Sardes. Epigramas, Sevilla 1996), W. Steinbichler (Die Epigramme des Dichters Straton von Sardes: Ein Beitrag zum griechischen paiderotischen Epigramm, Frankfurt am Main 1998) and L. Floridi (Stratone di Sardi, Epigrammi, Alessandria, 2007). It actually coincides in the year of publication with the excellent commentary by L. Floridi, with which comparison is inevitable.1

The book opens with a bibliography which cites, in exclusively alphabetical order, editions, commentaries, translations and specific works on Strato together with secondary literature (pp. 7-40). One might have hoped at least for a distinction to have been made between editions and commentaries, on the one hand, and the rest of the bibliography on the other. The bibliography does not include the editions by F. Dübner, Epigrammatum Anthologia Palatina cum Planudeis, Parisiis 1864-90, H. Stadtmüller, Anthologia Graeca epigrammatum Palatina cum Planudea, Leipzig 1894-1906, or W. R. Paton, The Greek Anthology, London-Cambridge Mass. 1916-8, although they are mentioned in the commentary; nor does it list the useful work by N. Hopkinson, Greek Poetry of the Imperial Period, Cambridge 1994, which the author appears not to have used even though it includes and comments upon the epigrams AP 12.4 and 6.2 We also note the absence of any reference, either in the bibliography or in the commentary, to certain studies on Strato, such as those by H. Heydemann, "Zur Anthologia Graeca Palatina XII 207", Hermes 11, 1876, 124-5 and P. L. Furiani, "Omofilia e androcrazia nella società maschile di Stratone di Sardi", Euphrosyne 15, 1987, 217-26.

There follows a brief introduction dealing with the chronology of the poet (pp. 41-53), the manuscript tradition (pp. 53-63), and the editions, commentaries and translations (pp. 63-73). In the controversial issue of chronology the author inclines towards the later dating that would place the poet in the philo-Hellenic period of Hadrian (pp. 52-3) (while Floridi opted for the time of Nero3). The sections dedicated to the manuscript tradition and the editions are the least satisfactory part of the whole work. The author hardly mentions the apographa, which she relegates to the section on editions without even listing them or specifying their content (pp. 66-7). Also inadequate is the treatment of the syllogai.4 It is true that the oldest syllogai contain no pederastic epigrams, but it would have been advisable to mention that the sylloge Euphemiana contains an epigram of debatable authorship, attributed to Strato or Meleager, APl 213 (= 100 González-Rincón, 102 Floridi) (this epigram also appears in sylloge Σπ, though attributed there to Leonidas). In relation to sylloge S the author lists the epigrams of Strato contained therein but overlooks AP 12.223, and in the case of AP 12.237 she does not specify that, apart from not including the first line, it has l. 3 in a different position. In the Appendix Barberino-Vaticana only ll. 3-4 of epigram 12.237 are included and, in contrast to what the author claims (p. 63), epigrams 11.19 and APl 213 are not included. There is also no mention of sylloge I, which contains two epigrams by Strato (AP 12.235 and 237.3-4). In general, caution is advised regarding the data she offers, as they may lead to confusion. For example, the edition which H. Stadtmüller left unfinished (Anthologia Graeca...) extended as far as epigram 9.563, not 11.563, as the author incorrectly states (p. 71).

However, what is striking about the introduction is not so much what it says as what it fails to say, as it lacks sections on prosody and metrics (although the author does offer relevant comments on the metre in the introduction and the commentary itself), on form and structure, language and style, and themes and motifs. All these are customary in philological commentaries and are present in the editions of González Rincón and Floridi.

The author has dispensed with the task of producing a critical edition and a fresh collation of the manuscript transmission, basing her work instead on the editions by R. Aubreton, Anthologie grecque. Anthologie Palatine. Tome X (Livre XI), Paris 1972 and R. Aubreton-F. Buffière, Anthologie grecque. Anthologie Palatine. Tome XI (Livre XII), Paris 1994, and she states that she deals in the commentary with those passages where she differs from the edition she has taken as her model (p. 7). This is, however, not the case on the numerous occasions on which she has altered the punctuation.5 Nor in AP 12.222.6, where she differs from Aubreton-Buffière without indicating so: she reads τὴν φάρυγα along with the other editors (including Floridi) except Aubreton-Buffière, who correctly point out that in P the reading is τὸν φάρυγα. And in the commentary on AP 12.240.1 she again differs, this time to correct the reading Aubreton-Buffière discern in P (πολιαὶ εἰ), also mistakenly included in Floridi (the reading in P is πολιαὶ αἱ). In addition, she gives the impression of a problem-free transmission when she publishes--without indicating them--the conjectures accepted by Aubreton-Buffière in their text; indeed she very rarely defends the choice of a conjecture against the transmitted text.

The great contribution of this book to the study of Strato is the commentary (pp. 75-470). In the selection of the epigrams to be commented on the author adopts a conservative stance, including as the work of Strato fewer epigrams than her predecessors. She comments upon the ninety-four epigrams of book 12 ascribed to Strato in P and the five dubious ones transmitted in book 11. She therefore does not include the epigrams attributable to Strato on account of their thematic content which are included in the sylloge Parisina (58, 76, 103-105 in Floridi's edition), or epigram APl 213, attributed to Strato or Meleager in the sylloge Euphemiana and which González Rincón and Floridi do comment upon.

There are brilliant entries in which the author provides us with valuable information for the interpretation of the epigrams under study: for instance, the epic resonance of the beginning of AP 12.8 and the introduction to AP 12.192, 12.240 and 12.247. Most outstanding are the entries in which she analyses literary themes or motifs, particularly mythological ones, such as the entries she devotes to "Dionysus" in AP 12.2.6, "Tiresias" and "Tantalus" in AP 12.175.7, the number of the Graces in the introduction to 12.181, and "the winged Eros" in AP 12.202.1. In general, consultation of this section of the work always proves profitable, although there are some debatable points where one would have expected certain bibliographical references or cited passages. Thus, when dealing with the nautical metaphor of love it seems unavoidable to quote the article by P. Murgatroyd, "The Sea of Love", CQ 45, 1995, 9-25; for the comparison of quarrels between lovers and war, that of L. Cahoon, "The bed as battlefield: erotic conquest and military metaphor in Ovid's Amores", TAPhA 118, 1988, 293-307, as well as the classic monograph by A. Spies, Militat omnis amans. Ein Beitrag zur Bildersprache der antiken Erotik, Diss. Tübingen 1930 (reprinted New York 1978), and for the metaphorical use of σαύρα in reference to the male sexual organ it is appropriate to cite J. N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, Baltimore 1982, p. 30, E. Montero Cartelle, El latín erótico. Aspectos léxicos y literarios, Sevilla, p. 91 and J. Henderson, The Maculate Muse. Obscene Language in Attic Comedy, New York 1991, p. 127, as well as M. T. Cassanello, Lessico erotico della tragedia greca, Roma 1993, p. 102, for the erotic use of ὁμιλῶ in AP 12.1.3. And in 12.16.4 the author makes no mention of the fact that χάρις is a euphemism for sexual favour, and neither does she do so in the various internal references to which she directs the reader (among which the reference to 12.185.1 is erroneous; it should be 12.183.1). Although mentioned in the bibliography, one has the impression that the author has taken little advantage of works like J. Henderson's The Maculate Muse, the Thesaurus Graecae Linguae ab Henrico Stephano constructus, ed. K.B Hase-W. Dindorf-L. Dindorf, Parisiis s.a. (1831-1865), the most obvious absentee from this commentary, and even the indispensable LSJ.

The volume closes with some useful indexes of Greek terms, debatable passages and prominent names and themes (pp. 471-8).

To conclude, in spite of some objections I have raised, this commentary duly offers what should be expected of a philological commentary, as it serves to provide assistance in the understanding of the text and to stimulate discussion, and is a welcome addition to the ever-increasing number of commentaries on Greek epigrammatic literature.


1.   Read the review by L. A. Guichard in the present journal (BMCR 2008.01.03), and my own in JHS 128, 2008, forthcoming. The present review forms part of Project FFI2008-00940. I would like to thank Mr. J. J. Zoltowski for the English translation.
2.   See Greek Poetry, pp. 22-3 and 92-3.
3.   See Stratone di Sardi..., p. 13.
4.   On the syllogai, read now F. Maltomini, Tradizione antologica dell'epigramma greco. Le sillogi minori di età bizantina e umanistica, Roma 2008 (a review of this work will appear in the next issue of Exemplaria Classica).
5.   Without attempting to be exhaustive, there are modifications to the punctuation in AP 12.3.5 and 6, 4.6, 8.5 and 7, 9.1, 11.3, 176.4, 177.2 and 4, 178.4, 186.2 and 3, 214.2, 219.3, 220.4, 222.4, 231.2, 252.2, 253.1 and 11.225.1.

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