Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.02.51

S. J. V. Malloch, The Annals of Tacitus, Book 11. Cambridge classical texts and commentaries, 51.   Cambridge; New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2013.  Pp. xxi, 538.  ISBN 9781107011106.  $150.00.  

Reviewed by Antonio Ramírez de Verger, Universidad de Huelva (

In book 11 of the Annals Tacitus narrates, over 38 chapters, the events of the years AD 47-8, during the reign of Claudius. Prominently featured here, among other considerations, are the censorship of Claudius, the history of Curtius Rufus, affairs in Germania under the generalship of Corbulo, the debate over the admission of the Gauls into the Senate and the fall of Claudius’ wife, Messalina.

In 1972 Goodyear inaugurated the series of commentaries on the Annals in Cambridge’s 'Orange Series'. Those which have appeared so far are two volumes by Goodyear (I Annals 1.1-54 in 1972 and 20052; II Annals 1.55-81 and 2), one by Woodman and Martin (Annals 3, 1996) and the present volume on book 11 by Malloch. In its 'Yellow and Green' series, Cambridge University Press has also published book 4 by Martin and Woodman (1990). There is no doubt that Malloch’s study keeps up and even improves in certain aspects (e.g. history of the text, prosopography, institutions) the high standards of these commentaries, which are aimed at advanced students as well as philologists and historians of the Graeco-Roman world.

The book contains a brief introduction (pp. 1-27), the Latin text with a concise critical apparatus (pp. 28-48) and an ample and comprehensive commentary (pp. 49-468). The volume closes with an Appendix (pp. 469-71 “Claudius’ Speech on the admission of the Primores Galliae to the Roman Senate,” ILS 212), a substantial bibliography of works cited (pp. 472-513) and a number of useful indexes (pp. 514-38 “General”, “Ancient Names”, “Words”, and “Passages discussed”).

Malloch has used all the most important studies and editions of Tacitus from the 1472/3 editio princeps by Wendelin of Speyer down to the most recent by Wellesley (1986) and Heubner (1994) by way of Beroaldus (1515), Lipsius (1581), Acidalius (1607), Pichena (1607), Gruterus (1607 with Notes by Alciatus, Mercerus, Rhenanus, Vertranius, Pichena and others), Gronovius (1721), Ernesti (1772), the editio Bipontina (1792), Bekker (1831), Bezzenberger (1844), Halm (1857), Nipperdey (1857), Fisher (1906), Furneaux (1907), Koestermann (1963-8), Weiskopf (1973), and many others. In addition, he has included the collation of the second Medicean by Petrus Victorius of 1542, currently held by the Staatsbibliothek in Munich. He has also taken into consideration the notes by Nicolaus Heinsius (1620-1681) on the text of the Annals, which were brought together in Ernesti’s edition of 1772 (Heinsii Animadversa appear on pp. 701-707 of vol. II for book 11). The notes came down to Ernesti from F. Oudendorp (1696-1761) through P. Burman Junior (1713-1778), who had already published information on them in 1742 in Operum Nicolai Heinsii Syllabus in Nicolai Heinsii Adversariorum libri IV, Harlingae, 1742, p. 56 (‘Heinsii Notae in Tacitum edi coeptae in Observ. Miscellan. Vol. ix, tom. ii et iii. Earum reliqua opem eandem desiderant, quomodo et servantur adhuc notae eius ineditae ad Valerii Catonis Diras aliaque’).

The introduction is concise and unadorned. Malloch offers an overview of the contents, a brief summary of the structure, and the chronology of book 11; he outlines the hostile portrait Tacitus paints of Claudius; he describes briefly and with precision the history of the most important codex of the Annals XI-XVI, the Codex Laurentianus Mediceus 68.2, the manuscript which, in addition to the Annals, transmits what has survived of the Historiae (1-5) as well as the works of Apuleius. Malloch has recollated the ms. from the facsimile edition of Rostagno (Codex Laurentianus 68 II phototypice editus, Leiden, 1902) and from the digitized online copy of the Bibliotheca Laurentiana of Florence (TECA Digitale). Malloch’s readings from the recentiores come from the apparatus criticus by H. Weiskopf (Wien, 1973).

The Latin text presented by Malloch differs only slightly from the most recent editions, such as those of Heubner (Stuttgart, 1994) or Wellesley (Leipzig, 1986). He departs from Heubner’s edition, for example (and ignoring the punctuation), in the following places (I cite first of all Malloch’s text and then Heubner’s): 11.4.2 dixisset M / praedixisset Rhenanus; 11.7.3 qui quieta re publica ... peterent Bezzenberger ex Pichena / quieta re publica ... petere Pichena; 11.9.3 faciunt Lipsius / iciunt Va2 Stuttg2 La, Vertranius; 11.14.3 †dis plebiscitis / seclusit Nipperdey; 11.18.1 aes diu meritus Mercerus (ap. Gruterum, 1607, p. 610) / stipendium meritus ed. Bipontina coll. 2.52.1; 11.20.2 insignia M2/ insigne M; 11.23.4 oreretur M / moreretur Bach; perissent Jacob / prostrati sint Halm; 11.27 †subisse,† / subisse vota Draeger, Hanslik; tradam M / trado M2; 11.30.1 id opperiens Halm / opperiens Andresen; 11.30.2 †eicis† / Titios Brotier; 11.32.3 egeruntur dub. Heinsius / excipiuntur corr. Heinsius ex eripiuntur M. Malloch’s critical apparatus is scanty, as is Heubner’s, although it is true that he reserves textual explanations for the commentary. The most complete apparatus was published by Weiskopf, mentioned above, and contains the readings of all the Tacitean manuscripts, a privilege enjoyed by very few classical texts. A halfway house is the critical apparatus presented in the edition of K. Wellesley (Leipzig, 1986), who also includes an ‘Appendix critica’ on pp. 143-59.

The commentary is extremely useful and enlightening, with excellent introductions to the different episodes or scenes of book 11 (esp. pp. 114-31, 206-11, 392-8). It deals with all matters that will help the reader reach a better understanding of the Tacitean text. For instance: sources (e.g., p. 342, n. 220), lexis (e.g., pp. 293-4), morphology (e.g., pp. 319-20), syntax (e.g., pp. 274-5), style and rhetoric (e.g., pp. 97, 248), paleography (e.g., p. 389, n. 273), textual criticism (e.g., pp. 267-8, 320-2), prosopography (e.g., pp. 100-2), poeticisms (e.g., pp. 328, 404).

It only remains for me to mention a few marginalia with reference to the commentary:

P. 63 The form gentiles nationes is given here, while the Latin text (p. 28) prints gentilis nationes and no explanation is offered concerning the –is/-es alternation in the accusative plural. The same occurs with inlustris in 13.1 and omnis in 22.2; cf. L. Constans, Étude sur la langue de Tacite, Paris, 1893, pp. 13-14; F. Bömer, “Der Akkusativus pluralis auf –is, –eis und –es bei Vergil”, Emerita 21, 1953, 182-234; M. Pulbrook, “The Third Declension Accusative Plural in –is and –es in Ovid’s Metamorphoses”, PACA 12, 1973, 2-10.

P. 98 The reading negotia agantur does not come from Heinsius, as claimed by Halm (1857, I, p.xxvii: ‘negotia eant G, neg. agantur H’). And, as Malloch notes, this attribution does not appear in the Heinsii Animadversa, published by Ernesti (1772, II, p. 702). According to my colleague Prof. Estévez, Haase (1855, p. LXIV) was the first editor to propose negotia agantur, as noted in the apparatus criticus of Nipperdey (Berolini, 1872, II, p. 5 ‘negotia agantur Haasius, cenat Ritterus’). The fact is that Halm attributed this reading to Heinsius instead of Haase and from then the error has persisted down to our day (e. g., Orelli 1859, p. 315; F. Ritter, “Bemerkungen zu Tacitus”, Philologus 19, 1863, 265; Fisher (1906, ad loc.), Weiskopf, 1973, p. 6; Heubner, 1983, p. 214; Wellesley 1986, p. 3, although he reads negotia fiant following Bezzenberger).

P. 144 On the placing of quoque before or after the name it emphasizes (see also p. 216), cf. my note on Ovid, met. 6.26 in Philologus 155, 2, 2011, 383-6.

P. 152 Add the commentary by E. J. Kenney (Milan, 2011, p. 341) on met. 8.335 concerning the expression castellorum ardua (neuter plural adjectives with a partitive genitive).

P. 201 On the metaphor of the flamma amoris in exarserat, see R. Moreno, “Llama de amor”, in Diccionario de motivos amatorios en la literatura latina, Huelva, 2011, pp. 232-40. See also pp. 199-200 of the same dictionary on the term fastidium.

P. 296 See also G. Galán, “El motivo literario del triunfo en Marcial”, CFC(Lat) 11, 1996, 33-45.

P. 306 On the auctorati or free men who enrolled as gladiators, see G. Ville, La gladiature en Occident des origines à la mort de Domitien, Rome, 1981, pp. 246-55.

P. 358 It is worth reading R. Ullmann (La technique des discours dans Salluste, Tite Live et Tacite, Oslo, 1927, pp. 230-8) to understand somewhat better Claudius’ speech on the entry of the primores Galliae into the Roman Senate.

P. 366 On the Balbi of Cádiz I would have expected to see the study by J. F. Rodri/guez Neila, Confidentes de Ce/sar: Los Balbos de Ca/diz, Madrid, 1992.

P. 424 At 14.3.1 the apparatus should read capesseret Heinsius : lacesseret M, not vice versa; cf. Heinsii Animadversa, in Ernesti, II, 1792, p. 718.

P. 442 Heinsius (Animadversa, pp. 706-7) proposed, in addition to egeruntur, the verb evehuntur, citing Varro, L.L. 5.21 sirpea, quae virgis sirpatur, id est colligando implicatur, in qua stercus aliudve quid vehitur.

P. 459 The definitive reflection of the haughtiness of Messalina is expressed through the epiphonema tantum inter extrema superbiae gerebat with the necessary partitive genitive; cf. Lucr. 1.101 tantum religio potuit suadere malorum; Quint. inst. 8.5.11 and H. Lausberg, Manual de retórica literaria, II, § 879.

At a time when we are witnessing a certain decline in the critical edition of classical texts and philological commentaries, we must heartily welcome works as outstanding as this volume by Malloch on book 11 of the Annals of Tacitus, a historian of poetic prose and profound thought.

The book is well produced, except for the small letter size of the commentary itself. I have complained before, and will continue to do so, that the reader is done no favours with fonts so eye-wearying that they preclude all possibility of relaxed reading. 1


1.   This review has been translated from the Spanish by J. J. Zoltowski. Thanks are due to the Spanish MEC (FFI2008-01843 and FFI2013-42529) and the Junta de Andalucía (HUM-4534 and FEDER-FSE) for their financial support.

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