While we are reasonably well provided with studies of Julian, the number of editions and translations of his works is not what one the most important and interesting authors of the fourth century deserves.
It is true that excellent complete or partial editions and translations of Julian were produced early in the twentieth century— such as those of Wilmer Cave Wright in the Loeb Classical Library (1913), the last and sole complete edition and translation in English (as far as my knowledge goes), and of Joseph Bidez for the Belles Lettres (1932), to name the most accessible. But a comprehensive revision of the entire Julianic corpus under the light of recent scholarship still is a desideratum, even though it seems to be in progress.1 Therefore Ugenti’s edition, translation, and commentary on the Emperor’s Consolation to Himself upon the Departure of the Excellent Sallust (Oration 8 in the “vulgate” numbering, which is kept in the Loeb edition; Oration 4 in Bidez’s edition) is a welcome addition to the Julianic scholarship, and it greatly contributes to the admirable Italian “renaissance” of Julian started by the great philologist Carlo Prato.2
Ugenti’s book comprises a short introduction, a revised Greek text, a reliable and elegant translation, and a succinct, yet useful, commentary. Adele Filippo, in addition to the index locorum and the index verborum, is responsible for the preface that explains Ugenti’s place in the aforementioned Italian renaissance of Julian.
In the introduction, Ugenti provides information necessary for the proper understanding of the Oration: the historical and political circumstances that motivated Julian to compose it, and the available biographical data about his dear friend Sallust. On these issues, Ugenti does not go beyond Bidez’s notice.3 But he also briefly addresses the theme of the ancient literary consolation, to which this writing of Julian can be said to belong, and the possible Neoplatonic tone of some of its passages. The introduction ends with a short section on the manuscript tradition and the editions and translations of the Oration.
Unless I have missed something, the Greek text edited by Ugenti disagrees with Bidez’s edition eight times:4
1) 242B: σοῦ δὲ 2,23 Bidez : σοῦ γε 2,25 Ugenti – γε is the reading of the codices, while δὲ is Hertlein’s emendation. In my opinion, γε is a pretty good reading, so that Ugenti seems right to keep it.
2) 242B: ἄλλοις εἰπεῖν μελήσει 2,38 Bidez : ἀλλήλοις εἰπεῖν μελήσει 2,41 Ugenti – ἄλλοις is the reading of manuscript X (Chalcenus 157, sec. 15), and ἀλλήλοις is the reading of V (Vossianus gr. 77, sec. 12-13) and of M (Marcianus 366, sec. 15). It is difficult to understand Ugenti’s choice here; with the text of X, we have the perfectly sound meaning “others will care for telling it” (“whether anything useful was done or planned by us in common”). With VM and Ugenti’s ἀλλήλοις the sense is not wholly clear to me; and, as a matter of fact, Ugenti seems to be forced to translate μελήσει in an awkward way in order to read the text (“questo ci piacerà ricordarcelo l’un l’altro”).
3) 243A: Πλάτωνος λόγων, τεκμαιρόμενος ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ· 3,5-6 Bidez : Πλάτωνος λόγων. τεκμαιρόμενος ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, 3,5 Ugenti – differences in punctuation only.
4) 247C: οὔκουν οὐδὲ 5,39 Bidez : οὐκοῦν οὐδὲ 5,41 Ugenti – the first is the reading of M, the latter that of V and X. Both constructions are usual and do not alter the meaning of the sentence.
5) 249A: τῷ λίθον ἕψειν καὶ τῷ ἱπταμένων ὀρνίθων ἐρευνᾶν ἴχνη 6,19 Bidez : τὸν λίθον ἕψειν καὶ τῶν ἱπταμένων ὀρνίθων ἐρευνᾶν ἴχνη 6,19 Ugenti – τῷ…τῷ is Cobet’s emendation, accepted by subsequent editors; τὸν…τῶν is the reading of the manuscripts. Even though Cobet’s emendation might be considered better Greek, Ugenti seems right to follow the manuscript tradition.
6) 249C: οὐ...οὐδὲ 6,33 Bidez : οὐ...οὔτε 6,37 Ugenti – οὐδὲ is the text of the Suda and was accepted by Hertlein, Bidez, and others, while οὔτε is in the manuscripts. Again, οὐ...οὐδὲ seems grammatically more correct, but Ugenti strongly defends the reading οὐ...οὔτε by adducing two examples of the same construction in Julian: Ad Matr. 3 (161D) and C. Cyn 9 (189A). On the other hand, οὐκ…οὐδέ occurs just four lines below (37-8 Bidez, 41 Ugenti) in all manuscripts and in the Suda too.
7) 250B: ὅσῳ 6,55 Bidez : ὅσῳ οἱ Ugenti – this is the only emendation by Ugenti’s own hand in his edition. ὡς οἱ is what the manuscripts have, and ὅσῳ was proposed by Reiske and accepted by all editors. I am not able to tell whether Ugenti’s emendation is paleographically possible, but it seems easier to get ὅσῳ than ὅσῳ οἱ from ὡς οἱ.
8) 250D: Αἴαντε ἄμφω 7,5 Bidez : Αἴαντας ἄμφω 7,5 Ugenti – Αἴαντε is attested by X, and Αἴαντας by V and M (indirectly in this one, as it reads the wrong form Αἴαντα). Ugenti is right in claiming that later Greek tends to employ the plural instead of the dual, and that the plural for the two Ajaxes is usual already in Homer (e.g.: Il. 7, 164; 8,79; 13,313). He also quotes Julian’s Epist. 34 ἄμφω ἐσθλοί as an example of ἄμφω with plural. However, we must not forget that the dual is not absent from Julian and other later writers with Atticizing tastes.
Ugenti’s commentary is not exhaustive, and ranges from what would be an apparatus testimoniorum in other editions to the explanation of Julian’s mythological, literary and historical references. As I said before, it is a useful commentary, but I cannot help feeling that he could have been less thrifty, especially regarding philological matters, which Ugenti seems to master. With the exception of the eighth disagreement above, he does not discuss any of his textual options.
One may also miss references to Julian’s philosophical doctrines and sources. For instance, when commenting on 6,33-35 (249D; 6,30-32 Bidez), Ugenti writes: “ὅταν…δ’ ἑαυτοῦ μόνου: è il concetto dell’interiorità quale luogo privilegiato dell’incontro con Dio, del conoscere se stessi por scoprire Dio nell’intimo del proprio essere. È un concetto che, partendo dal delfico γνῶθι σεαυτόν, ha avuto ampio sviluppo sia nella filosofia greca sia nella patristica” (p. 93). Indeed, this is one of the most important issues for Neoplatonic philosophers, so one expects that the commentator would have explored it at greater length, at least trying to trace where Julian got it from”.5
I could not end this review without praising the astonishing, exquisite material quality of the Fabrizio Serra’s publications.
1. Heinz-Günther Nesselrath has edited the seven texts that Julian composed during his reign as Roman emperor (361-363 AD) for the Teubner series of Greek and Latin authors in 2015..
2. Since Prato’s 1979 edition of the Misopogon, with a commentary by Dina Michaela, several other editions with translation and commentary of works of Julian were published in Italy by Prato himself and by other scholars.
3. In fact, one may detect a couple of uncredited, but certainly unconscious, reminiscences of Bidez in the introduction: “Nell’ entourage di Giuliano, dopo la morte di Costanzo, vi furono in effetti due importanti personaggi che portavano il nome di Salustio” (p. 15): “Dans l’entourage de Julien, après la mors de Constance, deux grands personnages portèrent le nom de Salluste” (p. 184); “La religiosità dell’ autore rimane…piuttosto nebulosa” (p. 21): “Quant à la religiosité de l’ecrivain, elle demeure assez nébuleuse” (p. 188).
4. As Bidez’s edition of Julian’s Orations has become the standard one, I will compare Ugenti’s with it in order to stress the original features of the Italian edition. Numeration of lines slightly differs in Bidez’s and in Ugenti’s editions, so I give the Spanheim pagination and the line number in each edition.
5. Even though we try hard, it is difficult not to share Wilmer Cave France Wright’s harsh judgement that “Julian’s relation to the philosophy of his day was that of an uncritical disciple,” and that “he left nothing that can rank as a contribution to his school” (The Emperor Julian’s Relation to the New Sophistic and Neo-Platonism with a Study of his Style, London, 1896, p. 88). But this is not an excuse to neglect Julian’s philosophical attempts. At 5,70-72 (248A-B; 5,56-67 Bidez), for example, we read some beautiful and profound lines that condense much of the Neoplatonic doctrines on the unreliability of the sensible, the soul’s communion with the higher beings etc. But Ugenti unfortunately does not say a word about it, except “5,66-67 ἀποφυγόν…ἀσομάτων: cfr. Plot. Enn. 1,3,2.” The reference is wrong—a typo? It should be 1,3,3—and it could be more precise, with the line number in Plotinus (6-7). In the same passage (l. 67), Ugenti translates the philosophically important κατανόησις as “contemplare” (he changes the noun into a verb), instead of “comprehend, understand through intellect” etc. By the way, Ugenti translates νοῦς as “mente” throughout. It sounds a bit too modern to me, but it must be respected. Anyway, the choice should merit some justification in the commentary.