Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.01.50

Perrine Galand-Hallyn, Fernand Hallyn, Carlos Lévy, Wim Verbaal (ed.), Quintilien: ancien et moderne études réunies. Latinitates, 3.   Turnhout:  Brepols, 2009.  Pp. 576.  ISBN 9782503528656.  €95.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by Andrea Balbo, Università di Torino (

«Modèle pour les pedagogues, les grammairiens, les philologues, les orateurs, comme les poètes et même pour les theoriciens des arts»:1 it would be difficult to give a more exact appreciation of Quintilian’s role in the history of Western culture and literature. This excellent collection of 24 essays, proceedings of a conference held in Gand from 30th November to 3rd December 2005, focuses on the interpretation and exegesis of Quintilian from Antiquity to the Modern age

The first relevant, positive element about this book is its ample scope; if we look at the most recent bibliographical additions to the Quintilian dossier (in the Année Philologique or in the Neue Pauly), we find very few books published in the last 30 years covering the same or similar ground.2 The book dwells above all on the interest in Quintilian's works after Antiquity, following a research trend (the Fortleben) that is more and more important in Classical studies. So, the book will be useful not only for classicists or historians of rhetoric, but also for historians of the medieval and modern periods, as well as scholars interested in Medieval and Renaissance literature, researchers who are interested in the history of editing Classical texts and in Church history and Christianity .

The book is divided into three main sections. The first concerns some problems of interpretation of Quintilian’s text, the subjects he discusses and Quintilian’s role as a source for later declamation and the oratory of the later years of the first century AD. The second section is a detailed survey of Quintilian’s influence on medieval and Renaissance authors. Finally, papers in the third section examine the role of Quintilian in the “Classical age” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The six chapters of the first part explore first the relationship of Quintilian with the oratorical context of his times. Gualtiero Calboli and Ida Gilda Mastrorosa deal respectively with Quintilian’s judgments about the declamatores and some aspects of judicial oratory in the second part of the first century AD, concentrating mainly on Pliny the Younger, who provides excellent information about some of the trials of his age and was himself, at some point, a pupil of Quintilian. The two articles aptly highlight the centrality of Quintilian as evidence for ‘real’ oratory in a period usually described as a moment of decadence for this literary genre. The next two papers cover the role of the Greek and Roman sources of the Institutio oratoria, with a particular attention, on the one hand, to the connections between Quintilian and the Greek rhetoricians (Chiron), and, on the other, to Cicero as source for knowledge of ancient philosophy (Lévy). The two papers are very important and innovative. Chiron deals with Quintilian’s Greek vocabulary in a very subtle way, even if he does not cite the old, but still valuable, works of J. Cousin;3 Lévy dwells on Quintilian’s clever use of quotations from Sceptic and Stoic philosophers in the Institutio, drawing an enlightening and detailed picture of Quintilian’s philosophical background, and showing him as an intellectual interested in philosophy but in many respects very distant from his main model, Cicero. The final section consists of two papers; the first concerns the written composition, one of the most important elements of the "continuing education" canvassed in Institutio oratoria (M. S. Celentano).The second paper is about the tools and strategies used by the orator in order to reinforce his performance by the means of visible elements, such as imagines, and with a peculiar attention to objects produced expressly for oratorical aims, as the depicted image of Manius Curius prisoner in Quint. Inst. 6.3.72 (Moretti). The two chapters are very successful in stressing the centrality both of the continuous writing practice and of the communicative approach as important elements in Quintilian's rhetorical pedagogy.

The ten papers of the second section analyse Quintilian’s influence between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, focusing especially on Italian and French authors, although two good papers are devoted to John of Salisbury and Erasmus of Rotterdam. Medieval and Renaissance authors see Quintilian as a rhetorician (Lecointe), a theorist of oratorical art, as an important source of declamatory materials (van der Poel). Other papers stress Quintilian’s importance as an authority in the context of Medieval literature (Verbaal, Rouillé), in the development of poetical theories (Galand, Leroux) and in pedagogical questions (Nassichuk). Quintilian remained basic reading for all the cultivated people, even if they did not agree with his ideas, as in the case of Pierre de la Ramée, studied by Jean Lecointe. Among the above-mentioned papers I would single out Mariangela Regoliosi’s chapter on the influence of Quintilian on Lorenzo Valla. Regoliosi does not limit herself to the well-known commentary in cod. Par. Lat. 7723, but highlights several different facets of Quintilian’s influence on Valla (rhetorical and philosophical idioms, use of Greek, and even Valla’s own understanding of the rhetorical tradition), describing effectively how Quintilian was the real magister eloquentiae of the Italian humanist.

The third section, made up of eight papers, tells a history of the “republic of letters” from the point of view of the Quintilian reception. Thanks to these studies, the reader understands the great importance of Quintilian's works in the religious world (Jesuits, post-Tridentine preachers, studied respectively by Baffetti and Conte), painters (Hallyn) and the authors of poetical treatises (Bury, Gutbub). The most original among the papers of this section concern authors or problems that have not been deeply studied yet with reference to Quintilian. They provide tangible proof of the great potential for research in the fields of classical survival and reception of the Quintilian tradition. This book offers engaging, wide-ranging discussions ofsome of the most relevant themes of Quintilian's influence and it will be a reference work of great value for many years. The editing of the book has been accurate and there are very few mistakes.4 Inclusion of indexes, for instance of ancient and modern passages and namesm, would have been helpful. Also, a final general bibliography instead of separate, short bibliographies at the end of every chapter would have been better.5

Table of contents

P. Galand, F. Hallyn †, C. Lévy et W. Verbaal, «Avant-propos», p. 5
Première partie
Quintilien dans l’antiquité: ses lectures et ses lecteurs
G. Calboli, Quintilien et les déclamateurs, p. 11
P. Chiron, L’héritage grec de Quintilien: le cas de l’exorde (IO, IV, 1), p. 29
M. S. Celentano, L’oratore impara a scrivere. Principi di scrittura professionale nell’Institutio oratoria di Quintiliano, p. 47
G. Moretti, Quintiliano e il ‘visibile parlare’: strumenti visuali per l’oratoria latina, p. 67
C. Lévy, Note sur un aspect de Quintilien lecteur de Cicéron: sceptiques et stoïciens dans l’Institution oratoire, p. 109
I.G. Mastrorosa, La pratica dell’oratoria giudiziaria nell’alto impero: Quintiliano e Plinio il Giovane, p. 125

Deuxième partie
Quintilien du Moyen-Âge à la Renaissance
W. Verbaal, Teste Quintiliano. Jean de Salisbury et Quintilien: un exemple de la crise des autorités au XIIe siècle, p. 155
F. Rouillé, Sur trois vers de l'Anticlaudianus d’Alain de Lille mentionnant Quintilien, p. 171
L. Hermand-Schebat, Pétrarque et Quintilien, p. 191
J. Nassichuk, Quintilien dans les traités pédagogiques du Quattrocento, p. 207
M. Regoliosi, Valla e Quintiliano, p. 233
M. van der Poel, Observations sur la déclamation chez Quintilien et chez Erasme, p. 279
J. Céard, Josse Bade, éditeur de Quintilien à la Rénaissance, p. 291
P. Galand, Quelques aspects de l'influence de Quintilien sur les premières poétiques latines de la Renaissance (Fonzio, Vadian, Vida), p. 303
V. Leroux, Quintilianus censor in litteris acerrimus: posterité des jugements de Quintilien sur les poètes antiques dans les poétiques latines de la Renaissance (1486-1561), p. 351
J. Lecointe, La nouvelle Babylone. Quintilien et le statut de l'èthos dans la rhétorique ramiste, p. 383

Troisième partie
Quintilien à l'Âge Classique
G. Baffetti, Quintiliano e i gesuiti, p. 399
E. Bury, Quintilien et le discours critique classique: Vaugelas, Guez de Balzac, Bouhours, p. 413
S. Conte, Presence de Quintilien dans les rhétoriques sacrées post-tridentines: le vir bonus, p. 433
C. Gutbub, Invention et imitation chez Quintilien: d'une invention à l'autre en passant par Pierre de Deimier, p. 471
A. Roose, Les bottines de François de la Mothe le Vayer, p. 501
F. Hallyn, Quintilien et le débat sur la peinture à l'âge classique: l'expression des passions, p. 515
F. Goyet, Les figures de pensée comme grands blocs, unités minimales pour construire un discours, p. 527
V. Kapp, Le rôle de Quintilien dans les débats sur la clarté, p. 559


1.   Avant-propos p. 8.
2.   The contributions with a general perspective are few. See the two important issues of Rhetorica 13, 2-3, 1995, about TheInstitutio oratoriaafter 1900 Years, 103-358 (with contributions also, for instance, about Goethe and Quintilian in Czech thought) and the proceedings of Tomas Albaladejo, Emilio del Río, José Antonio Caballero (eds.) Quintiliano: historia y actualidad de la retórica. Actas del Congreso internacional, Calahorra: Ayuntamiento de Calahorra, 1998.
3.   See Études sur Quintilien, Paris 1936 reprint Amsterdam 1967.
4.   Read téchne for techné (p. 110), Aeneas for Aeneus (p. 208), nobilium for nobiliorum (p. 209) ; eloquentia for eloquintia (p. 276). At the page 209 the discovery of Quintilian’s manuscript by Poggio is dated in 1416, at page 211 at 1417: about this matter see also Furio Murru, Poggio Bracciolini e la riscoperta dell'Institutio oratoria di Quintiliano (1416), Critica storica 20, 1983, 621-626, that is not quoted in bibliography; in the index of contents the article of Florent Rouillé is printed without « d’Alain de Lille ».
5.   To Celentano's paper add Lonni Bahmer, Schreiben in der Ausbildung des Redners. Die « Institutio oratoria » als Grundriss für den Schreibunterricht heute, Rhetorik 17, 1998, 35-53; to Céard’s, Jorge Fernández López, J. Bade acerca de M. F. Quintiliano en 1498 y 1516, Latomus 62, 2003, 902-910; in Lecointe’s article, Juan María Núñez González, La doctrina del « oratorius numerus » en Cicerón, Quintiliano y Pierre de la Ramée in Quintiliano: historia y actualidad de la retórica. Actas del Congreso internacional, 1447-1456.

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