Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.10.02

Javier Martínez (ed.), Mundus vult decipi: estudios interdisciplinares sobre falsificación textual y literaria.   Madrid:  Ediciones Clásicas, 2012.  Pp. 442.  ISBN 9788478827381.  €22.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by John Henderson, King's College, Cambridge (

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This latest instalment of on-going contributions from Oviedo on this theme delivers thirty-three 2011 papers of the 6,000 words all-in (= ten pages) variety; eight in English, one each in Italian and in Portuguese. Around a third of them have rather thin claims for inclusion in a volume about "falsification", busy tackling issues of ascription and/or authorship rather than digging into analysing or theorizing that business. While all the main strands of classical studies are represented (in crude terms: a dozen on Greek Literature, three on Latin; a couple each on Greek Philosophy, on Ancient History, on Ancient Epigraphy; one each on Art-and-Text and Material/Art Object), say a quarter of the pieces come from other disciplines (three in Modern Literature/Criticism, two each on Modern History/Propaganda, and on Music/Opera; one in each of Biblical Studies and Arabic texts).

The volume begins with a short Foreword from the editor (in simultaneous Spanish and English) linked to a Prologue where A. Guzmàn Guerra gamely backgrounds the project (no need to ask why the topic of falsification should have such magnetism in Spain—in €urope—today) and injects a lightning burst of rapid thematics, while pointing out that the papers are (almost all) cases-studies (sic), several with more generally instructive upshot for any, even every, domain. With a swift run-down to boot.

As a batch, presented alphabetically by contributor name, the essays are proof against the standard reviewer complaint of lack of synergy; and besides, as work almost all by Spanish scholars, the ordering substantially compensates by obviating competence in sorting Iberian onomastics. A roll-call of Abstracts (again in both Spanish and English) next risks obviating the need to read the papers—except that this time the English is non-native, and at rather too many points faulty. Each résumé appends its own list of Keywords; which are all the indexing this modestly-priced and already meaty volume in paperback will afford, or afford us.

By good fortune, the volume title threads through Foreword and Prologue into the first essay—J. Álvarez Barrientos' subject is Petronius, the poster-boy of slippery dudes. The tag (completed with: ergo decipiatur) emblematizes the self-incriminatory, all-incriminating, nature of grand textual/literary larceny. We learn from Martínez, outing this disdained 'knowledge' of his by way of self-condemnation, that a Google search for "mundus vult decipi" + "Petronius" now yields over 25,000 results' (though ascriptions available on the www include Hitler and Martin Buber; make that 25,002 for Martínez and 'now' yours truly), and in the global evillage such foisting of data is, and has, exponentially 'viral' knock-on effects. Guzmàn Guerra makes sure to implicate his prelude's 'on with the show' with the tag's. (We do get fooled again! If only Martínez actually wrote the whole tome...or, better, those student-helpers of his..., or...). And Álvarez's piece plunges into the inviting swamp of the Satyrica. His topic is the Fragmentum Petronii faked rather well by José Marchena in 1800 to fill the lacuna in §26 where Encolpius and Quartilla are getting turned on by the keyhole sight of under-age 'action' within. The essay neatly presses Marchena's packaging of Latin cento text with spoof academic notes (from a bogus scholar) and a hilarious dedicatory address to his comrade revolutionary poilus on the Rhine (it's another Rosetta stone, it's triumphal spoils from a looted Swiss palimpsest, it's fresh subversive-erotological proof that soldiers always nail the girls, but only liberated sophisticates appreciate the courtesan and ooh! the refinements of sex). The 'fragment'— where a soldier now bursts in with rapier drawn, and makes Encolpius' I the meat in a mixed threesome sandwich before a crone shoos him on the point of raping the little girl—is accessible, along with the series of mocked-up attempts to bridge/pretend to bridge/play at bridging extant episodes via Wikipedia (go ogle at Google, s.v. Supplements to the Sayricon); as Álvarez shows, the style of packaging, publication, and of contents fits, fits the text, and the text fits turn-of-that-century heterodox swagger, but more important the parodic confection nails the abiding true lust for further discoveries in Roman fiction, all those holes to plug, and the panoply of fictive procedures we require to be deceived into believing we know what we do (know). We are not told so here, but Petronius does perfalsely name exactly the naughtiness in wanting more authentic authoriality than we (can) have, the meat between 'A consensus on this issue now exists' and 'beyond conclusive proof' (Wikipedia s.v. Satyricon, main article: Date and Authorship).

A fine happenstart, then, at once followed up (as 'b' in the book's 'ab...z') by the plainest thrust of no-frills drive-to- know this side of self-avowed implication, in one of X. Ballester's continuing run of intensive demonstrations that Tacitus can not have written the Ciceronizing Dialogus, on this occasion argued in literary-ideological terms, viz through full-on matching of mentions, phrasings and evaluations between Dialogus and Quintilian. Aside from an aside on the ascribability of writings to Quintilian (witness the Declamations), what truth does this tell on 'falsification'? This soldier never left his post to nose round Quartilla's bawdello; or doesn't know he did.

Nor did the Bordoys. First A. Bordoy, whose 'aside' is that Orpheus is the Petronius-figure of Greek pseudepigraphic myth, but whose cleancut paper distances the De mundo from Aristotle: chapter 7 (= 401a12-b29) is Stoicising cousin of the Derveni Papyrus. Soon pressed further by F. Casadesús Bordoy, picking through rival ascriptions to pin the thing on (who else but) Chrysippus.

At this point, I promote content over abecedarian order:

1. Greek texts: M. Quijado Sagredo rakes over interpolatedness in the bracketed brace of re-cognition scenes in Aeschylus Choephori and Euripides Electra.

Funny hilarious that fifth-century Attic comedy should so incestuously fête its own denunciations of script incest as to plagiarize them: M. de F. Silva explores Aristophanes' collusory show-up and -down in Clouds 549-59, between Knights, Eupolis Marica, and Hermippus; and beyond.

Statistical linguistics takes us along for the (if not a) ride: Xenophon Cynegeticus is by his contemporary, an Isocratean well-versed in the Hippocratics, but none of it by Xenophon. (M. Labiano). Sorted, is all.

Is Lysias 24 (On the cripple) comedic chicken or egg to Plato Philebus (E. Colla) ?

Strabo 14.1.18 tells us Callimachus disagreed with the story that Homer traded authorship of his Sack of Oechalia epic for dinner chez Creophylus of Samos in the Epigram now numbered 55 in Gow 'n' Page, where the poem parlant declares itself Creophylus' work, honoured to be called 'Homeric'. (Some say he was Homer's teacher—others say that was Aristeas). Feint or praise? Eustathius ad Iliad 2.730 identifies the poetological stakes here as the construal of 'Homerizing', and J. Guillermo Montes Cala close-reads Callimachus' virtual proem to uncover the modernizing literary theory here applied, or dys-applied, to titulature and critique of archaic poetry.

Phalaris' letters and gently Bentley's titanic forging of the slaughter of pudding-heads tradition, in the name of (blunt Yorkshire) reason, somehow evade attention. All the same, R. Caballero sinks the dreadnought dragoon (and all his successors in the cult of smashing decisiveness) by proxy: be they never-so-demonstrably patent-ly fake, the letters 'of' Heraclitus (sparring with—merely King—Cyrus, construing—mere—dropsy, dreaming Hermodorus'—mere—exile will found universal law), are still going to try (on) taking true takes from his writings in fictionalizing an author fit to bust the latest (Cynic-Stoic) style of weirdo equivalent. And that's what 'assimilating' him means: mocking up textualism's hero of reading as misreading. Pumpkins or Housmen, we all fall in line (and it's all on-line, by now).

Early acquaintance by Clement and John Lydus minus ascription may indicate anonymous circulation of Parallela minora before incorporation into Plutarch inc. (Á. Ibáñez Chacón). Could be.

Lucian Pseudologista 5-6 and Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 2.579 anecdotalize on the ancient talking heads' need to kid audiences that they are improvising out loud; if they get caught, derision. ergo decipiantur (F. Mestre). Still happens when lecturers (pretend not to) read out published work.

Homer the whipping-boy for 'knowledge' according to Second Sophistic prose paradigms: Dio Chrysostom 11 (Troicus) is rehearsed by M. Movellán Luis.

Scribal doctoring of the Laurentian MS (F) improves Aelian NA. And how (M. González Suárez).

A. Pérez Jiménez explores the monopoly of astrological writings by pseudepigraphic star-warriors from Greek cross- culture—Egyptian, Biblical, Persian. Motives and categories.

The spectacular mid-nineteenth-century operator Constantine Simonides supplied Nonnus with a Life, flogged to Dindorf et imposing on al.. With St. John's Gospel Paraphrased beside(s) Dionysiaca to his blank name, the Nonnentity has acquired a packed afterlife in modern fiction (D. Hernández de la Fuente).

2. Latin texts: How Latin texts orphaned of secure ascription lose out in every taxonomy-dictated aspect of scholarship. Get lost down every crack. (C. Martín Puente).

Petronius f*ked: see above.

Tacitus pulled out of Dialogus: see above.

3. Greek Philosophy: see above, on un-Aristotelian activity in De mundo, bis.

4a. Ancient History (on Spain): G. Sopeña Genzor and V. Ramón Palerm dismantle prejudicial airbrushing of rhetorical aspersions on Palaeo-Hispanic peoples at Strabo 3.4.16, Aelian NA 10.22, Appian Iberica 51, compounded by prejudicial editing.

4b. Roman history: Disaster strikes twice. J. I. San Vicente González de Aspuru argues that the terms supposedly struck with the Samnites after the Caudine Forks disaster have been re-tooled to suit the Scipionic lobby in the scandal of Mancinus' terms at Numantia; Livy further tools the Samnite débâcle to fit Augustan religiosity, to feature the fetiales.

5a. Greek epigraphy: J. Vela Tejada orients disenchanting study of fourth-century BCE utopianizing diplomatic spin embracing Isocratean rhetoric, around the (lost) Koine Eirene inscription (SIG3 182; echoed at Diodorus 15.89.1). Greeks and Persians talked the talk/s, and so too have our Greek historians. (But all we are saying...

How two agora-inscriptions, the c. 200 BCE 'Foundation of Magnesia' ad Maeandrum and the bogus Cretan league decree to aid migration from Cretan Magnesia to Anatolia (IMagn. 17 and 20), tailor the city's origins lore to suit a diplomatic plea to the powers-that-were for asulia plus a step-up for their Artemis festival. F. Pezzoli roots through this magnetic case of 'intentional history'.

5b. Roman epigraphy: N. Santos Yanguas verifies the falsification of two (lost) give-away epigraphic fraudsters from around Gijón on the coast down from Oviedo (CILII, Suppl. falsae vel alienae nos. 510, 229+508). They trade for credibility on the one authentic inscription, from the town, the Tabula Lougeiorum, whose mention of the Ara Augusta alone attests the area's imperial cult under Augustus (1 CE). A full review and gazetteer present pertinent inscriptions from the region. But (outside Asturias?) said Tabula is multiply suspect (Google s.v. for Alicia Ma Canto, 'La Tabula Lougeiorum: un documento a debate').

6. Art-and-Text: Do you see Philostratus Imagines as paintings in words with or without referents? J. de la Villa self-defines ('self-incriminates', remember) by walking us through arguments adduced, straight to a walk-over for 'real' pictures, and one more shot at a picture (plan) of the gallery as he imagines seeing it. Before ( dismantling the binarism with a final 'meta-' recommendation that instead we envisage 'gradations' in fictionality!

7. Art object/graffito: Brilliantly brooching themeta-question, of the inter-/intra-disciplinary intrication of authenticity debates within framing forms of critical attention, F. García Jurado shows how interpretation of the Fibula Praenestina as material object or as bearer of the 'me-fhe-fhaked' legend (IOISAMUN:DEKAHF.EHF:DEM:SOINAM) has co-varied—boustrophedon or in feedback loop—with the application of competing paradigms of 'knowledge' rustled up between 1887 (Helbig's article founds Latin 'comparative linguistics') and 2011 (finallycertified by Formigli and Ferro in Rome as beyond any reasonable doubt seventh-century BCE artefacture, safety-pin and inscription micro-crystallized both/pinned at Orviedo to falsificatory fibbing as flakey precipitate of verification procedures, and vice versa). Im/pure gold: under suspicion since 1905, a hoax from 1980, for now run back into dodge to teach a macro-lesson in scanning hermeneutics beyond the scope of SEM (see Wikipedia s.v. Praeneste fibula).

8. Not-so-classical: Editor Martínez's paper thinks through the story, its -type, -function and efficacy, at 2Kings 22-23, that repairs to the Temple under King Josiah unearthed ancient lawcode. Brute 'fraudulence' dissolves in favour of culturally valorized claim for authority, and therefore admission that Deuteronomy had a need/use for something of the sort.

E. Selove and K. Wanberg do the Arabic tradition of that inveterately pseudepigraphic genre, dream-interpretation, focussing on the fifteenth-century Egyptian Ibn Shahin and other works published under the name of the eighth- century star Ibn Sirin from Basra. All I have to do is...purloin the proposal they dream up, after rousing ruminations on authorial onomatomancy, that the 'effacement of a work's multiple sources is a general metaphor for authorship'. Where does it all come from?.

Newspaper circulation of a fake laconic 'expel the Frenchies' proclamation signed Ferdinand VII from seething anti- Napoleonic Oviedo in 1808 fed into peninsular uprising and spread the paper-war to British press agitation. (A. Laspra). A world willingly—wilfully—deceived towards 'liberation' recuperated into constitutional monarchy nationhood.

Claims for originality and all, Laura Junot, high-maintenance (post-)Napoleonic Duchess of Abrantès, forged her autobiographical Mémoires and Souvenirs d'une Ambassade from a range of sources, including her own would-be-empress-whore novels (F. Lafarga). Would she not.

1822 Barcelona. Ramón Carnicer's Don Giovanni Tenorio opera crossed Mozart's (baritone) with Bertati y Gazzanigga's, 're-elaborating' the songs in homage and. R. Sobrino and M. E. Cortizo critique the Don's dinner (Act II finale). Questa poi ben la conosco...

For Rock-opera 1840s style: Cortizo (solo) unpacks Romantic zarzuelas by A. Azcona as a carnivalesque parody genre.

Bowdlerizing/Censoring/Forging f*king Byron's memory worked so well so long (A. Coletes Blanco).

After their 1867 flop the Fenian 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' re-thought their mythography bluster under Captain James Stephens towards Parnellian politicking (M. Ramón García).

'Fictitious translation' is when pseudo-translation passes itself off as the translation of a real text when it isn't. J. C. Santoyo catalogues and annotates the—his— genre before flashing up 'Thomas Wisdom' (>sic: nomen sit omen) Estudio histórico militar de Zumalacárreguy y Cabrera and the mini-Gothic (pseudo- translating 'M. le Aubépine') 'Hawthorne' Rappaccini's Daughter for his cases-studies of 'pre-texts' pretexts'.

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