Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.08.13

Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, Christophe Cusset (ed.), Euphorion. Oeuvre poétique et autres fragments. Fragments, 14.   Paris:  Les Belles Lettres, 2012.  Pp. xxii, 365.  ISBN 9782251742137.  €45.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by Gerson Schade, Freie Universität Berlin (

The bilingual edition of Euphorion appears as volume 14 in the relatively new series ‘Fragments’, edited by Michel Casevitz. As in the other volumes, the explanatory comment takes the form of footnotes at the bottom of the page, and the French translation is printed on the left side. In the same series, some other books concerning Hellenistic literature had been published previously. Yannick Durbec edited, translated and commented on Callimachus’ poetic fragments and Guy Lachenaud did the same for the scholia to Apollonius Rhodes (published in 2006 and in 2010 respectively). But this time, on the title-page one reads that the works of Euphorion had been edited, translated and commented ‘under the direction of’ Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Christophe Cusset (‘sous la direction de’). In fact, the editors profited from the work of a large group of students, of whom the short preface speaks as ‘les premiers artisans de ce travail’ (p. IX). They attended a seminar organized by Christophe Cusset when Benjamin Acosta-Hughes worked as a Visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon. In addition, half a dozen colleagues joined the group and worked on the fragments. Accordingly, the editors conceive their work primarily as the result of a ‘travail d’équipe’ and acknowledge the various contributions in due form. During his stay at the Università Roma III in 2009, Christophe Cusset enlarged and reworked parts of the commentary. The whole material got its final layout by Cédric Chauvin, who redacted the text, provided a survey of comparative numeration, and the indices.

The introduction (pp. XI-XXII) starts with a detailed section on the reception of Euphorion in Rome. Euphorion was popular with Virgil, who mentions him together with Theocritus, claiming that he adapted in a way the style of both (Buc. 10.50f.). Whether Cornelius Gallus translated at least parts of Euphorion into Latin is discussed critically (pp. XIVf.). The following part introduces into the works of Euphorion, of which the editors highlight the Callimachean facets in particular (pp. XVIIIf.). Verbal similarities are mentioned, and the introduction closes with some remarks on Euphorion’s alleged obscurity, which he shares with not only Callimachus but also Lycophron (pp. XXIf., already mentioned on pp. XIIf.).

The edition of Euphorion’s works begins with the testimonies (pp. 2-19). Surprisingly, one misses Virgil’s citation from his Eclogues, instead of which two rather bulky sections from Servius’ commentary are to be found as testimonies 14 and 15. Of these, testimony 14 reappears in part as fragment 126 (and is again commented on). The fragments of Euphorion’s works are divided into three groups: those which can be attributed to one of his works (from p. 20 onwards), those which are considered as genuine but cannot be assigned to a specific work for one reason or the other (starting at p. 140), and those which remain dubious (pp. 248-291). Two epigrams from the Palatine Anthology, considered as works of Euphorion, stand at the end of this section (pp. 292-297). A bibliography (pp. 299-312), a huge comparatio numerorum (pp. 313-352), and three indices (proper names, geographical names, and sources) conclude the volume.

The commentary presented in the footnotes focuses regularly on singularities of Euphorion’s style (in the first section of the fragments cf. e.g. nn. 58, 166, 173, and 241), takes note of a hapax legomenon (e.g. nn. 127, 129, and 379), and discusses whether his expressions are to be considered as particularly ‘Homeric’ ones (e.g. n. 191 and 377f.). Earlier scholarly work is cited not only in n. 45 on Euphorion’s Arai but also in nn. 183f., where a fragment is discussed, which was once attributed to Hesiod by Friedrich Nietzsche. Modern secondary literature is constantly referred to (e.g. in n. 203 on Parthenius). Textual details are discussed (e.g. in n. 153) as well as are some realia (e.g. in n. 185).

Some of the longer papyrus fragments (in particular fr. 20, P. Oxy. 2219 and 2220, explained by Yannick Durbec, and fr. 37, PSI 1390, by Antje Kolde respectively) are presented in such a way that one can easily follow the text and is at the same time informed on remarkable and relevant details. Probably due to the heterogeneous origin, however, the commentary is not in all respects a well-balanced one. As often in a group’s work, the consistency of the explanatory notes varies. Unfortunately, in this first section an error has occurred. The French title ‘fragments localisés’ may have been the reason why fragments of Euphorion’s prose works have been included too (62-69). But according to the Latin title of the section ‘fragmenta certis carminibus tributa’, they should not have been.

The commentary on the other two groups of fragments is quite similar to that of the first. The succinct explanations of ancient realia (nn. 78f.) and brief discussions of earlier scholarship (nn. 6, 94) and of textual details (nn. 12, 109) continue. Even a citation of Euphorion by Nonnus is mentioned (n. 144). The commentary on the dubious fragments seems to have been established independently from the notes given in the apparatus of the Supplementum Hellenisticum, which are time and again cited (e.g. in the first part in n. 157). In the case of SH 430 ii 17 and n. 27 on ‘fragment douteux’ 199 both commentaries illuminate each other. To identify these two texts as the same fragment, however, is hindered by the fact that the new edition is not equipped with a proper index fontium. The French ‘index des sources’ does not include the papyri, and the scholia are listed under the name of the authors they explain (which is not the same).

This book is clearly a scholarly contribution. Due to the format of the series, however, detailed examinations of the papyrus fragments like, e.g., W.S. Barrett's of Sophocles' Niobe (in Carden's Papyrus fragments of Sophocles, Berlin/New York 1974, 171-235) or like J. Diggle's (with the help of C. Austin) of the Phaethon-papyrus and its worth etc. (Euripides: Phaethon, Cambridge 1970, 34) are not to be expected. The manner of arrangement typical of the series, their mise en page, implies also that the footnotes cannot exceed a certain length. Characteristic of the style of this commentary are, e.g., the remarks on Cicero's Cantores Euphorionis gathered in n. 33 on p. 12. Concisely detailing the various ways of understanding Cicero's coinage, these remarks provide a useful and welcome aid to our understanding of the text. Now, any reader knows where to find more. That is what the editors wanted to offer to the reader: an annotated reliable text, easy to consult.

In the last century, papyrological discoveries significantly altered our picture of Euphorion, as is shown by the excellent edition of these fragments in the Supplementum Hellenisticum (SH 413-454). Since then, Jane Lightfoot included Euphorion’s works and related testimonies in her extremely useful Hellenistic Collection, published as a Loeb volume in 2009 (pp. 189-465 BMCR 2011.05.62). A new edition of Euphorion is overdue and promised by Enrico Magnelli, who already in 2002 published his Studi su Euforione and who was also consulted by Acosta-Hughes and Cusset (p. X). For the time being, we might well profit not only from Lightfoot’s work, but we may also make advantage of the new French Euphorion.

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