Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2016.05.44 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2016.05.44

Paolo Fedeli, Irma Ciccarelli, Rosalba Dimundo, Properzio. Elegie, libro IV. 2 vols. Studia Classica et Mediaevalia, 7.   Nordhausen:  Verlag T. Bautz, 2015.  Pp. 798; 735.  ISBN 9783883099378.  €160.00.  

Reviewed by Antonio Ramírez de Verger, Universidad de Huelva (

With this work P. Fedeli (now with the collaboration of R. Dimundo and I. Ciccarelli) sees the conclusion of the complete commentary on Propertius that he began in 1965 (book 4), continued in 1980 (book 1), 1985 (book 3) and 2005 (book 2), and now rounds off with a second book 4. Fedeli is responsible for six elegies (1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11), Dimundo for three (3, 5, 7) and Ciccarelli for another two (2, 10).

The book contains an extensive bibliography (pp. 7-64); a lengthy introduction by Fedeli himself (pp. 65-134); a note on the text (pp. 135-140), comparing it with Heyworth’s OCT edition of 2007 (pp. 135-140); a commentary on each elegy, preceded by the Latin text without apparatus (pp. 141-1410); and the extremely useful indexes (1. Parole notevoli, pp. 1413-1436; 2. Nomi e cose notevoli, pp. 1437-1461; 3. Lingue, stile, poetica, pp. 1462-1471; 4. Topoi, pp. 1472-1473; 5. Passi citati, pp. 1474-1528). It might not have been a bad idea to add an Index auctorum recentiorum to include the names of modern and contemporary experts in the text of Propertius, such as Beroaldus, Scaliger, Passerat, Broukhusius, Graevius, Heinsius, Burmannus Secundus-Santenius, Kuinoel, Lachmann, Hertzberg, Baehrens, Palmer, Postgate, Housman, Rothstein, Enk, Shackleton Bailey, Tränkle, Luck, Fedeli, Goold, Butrica, Giardina, Liberman, Cairns, Hutchinson, Günther, Heyworth, among others.

The two volumes are in a more generous font than we are accustomed to seeing from other publishers. Over so many pages I have found very few errata: unnecessary blank spaces on pp. 33-34, 132-133; lack of indentation on p. 42, or unnecessary indentation on p. 61; linguaggio, not limguaggio on p. 375; tenebo., not tebebo. on p. 1002; Epist. Sapph. 358 (?) on p. 1204.

The bibliography that opens the work is comprehensive, though lacking a number of titles later cited in the course of the commentary, such as Dousa senior (1592), Marcilius (1604), Gebhardus (1628), Graevius (1680), Koppiers (1771), Peerlkamp (1865), Liberman (1992), Watson (1995). In addition, it continues to surprise me that modern commentators are very precise in their bibliographical references from the 19th century on but will settle for a simple mention of the names of scholars of previous centuries. Here are two examples. It is stated on p. 474 that “tra le numerose proposte di correzione l’unica interessante è quella di Ayrmann pastor me ad baculum possum curvare”. The reference should have been Ayrmann (1726, 8) and the initial bibliography ought to have included his opusculum Sylva emendationum criticarum, Giessae, 1726. For 10.5, on p. 1210, the reading primus for primae is attributed to van Jever with no exact reference. One has to look for van Jever’s work in Smyth (1970, 186); his Specimen selectarum observationum in M. Annaei Lucani Pharsaliam may be found on-line. The Leiden editions of this work (1767, 25 and 1772, 25) contain his notes on Lucan 3.194, featuring his proposal imbuis exemplo primus nos for Propertius, 4.10.5, with the support of Catull. 63.11 (illa rudem cursu prima imbuit Amphitriten). Examples could continue to be listed ad nauseam for this and other commentaries on Greek and Latin authors. It would be of great help to readers if references were always cited in the same way. It is much better, for instance, to write Oakley 1998, 422-423 rather than Oakley on Liv. 8,6,5 (p. 911), or to indicate the page for Willymot’s proposal for 4.36 deae. In fact, the conjectures for 6.36 (deae on p. 852) and 11.93 (lenire on p. 1.397) do not appear in the Electa Minora from 1705, but in the Electa majora ex Ovidio, Tibullo, et Propertio: cum consolatione ad Liviam. Usui scholæ Etonensis, Londini, MDCCLII. There is another edition of these Electa Etonensia from 1701, but it only contains the first of these conjectures. Or perhaps this is simply a mania of mine for saving the reader time and effort.

In Fedeli’s introduction, book 4, with its new approach to elegiac poetry, is dated to the year 16 BC as terminus ‘post quem’. The different theories regarding the structure of the book are presented, with Fedeli opting to compare book 4 of Propertius to the fourth book of Horace’s Odes. Seen in this light, the book is distributed around a long programmatic elegy (1), an ideological central one (6) and a moralizing closing elegy (11). The four elegies preceding 6 and the other four preceding 11 alternate between aetiological (2, 4 // 9, 10) and non-aetiological or erotic poems (3, 5 // 7, 8). On pages 73-118 Fedeli gives an account of the elegies contained in this book by means of an overall literary study of each of them. On the following pages he positions himself firmly, as he has done previously (2009, 135-151), against the theory of Propertius as an opponent of the Augustan régime and in favour of a poet who, while less of a court poet than Horace, did support the traditional values defended by Augustus.

The “Nota al testo” (pp. 135-140) lists the 143 divergences from the text of Heyworth’s edition (Oxford, 2007) but there is no mention of the numerous differences between the text of the commentary and 3rd edition of Fedeli’s Teubner (2006). The Latin text should ideally have been accompanied by a brief critical apparatus.

The original 311 pages of Fedeli’s 1965 commentary on book 4 now stretch to more than 1500 in these two thick volumes. One has the impression that 11 monographs have been brought together in a single commentary, as the length ranges from the 254 pp. devoted to elegy 1 to the 66 on elegy 10. But an unhurried reading of the general introduction to each elegy, the individual introductions to blocks of verses (see, for example, the excellent texts on elegy 3 on pp. 505-514 and elegy 11 on pp. 1268-1282) and the line-by-line commentary give the impression that the aim has been to deal at length with all matters pertaining to each expression in Propertius’s text. For instance: sources (7 Homer, Virgil and comedy as sources for 7 on pp. 707-708), lexis (1.61 hirsuta … corona as an expression of the ars rudis of Ennius, on p. 274; 2.17 insitor as a rare and archaic term on pp. 438-439; 3.2 meus = meus vir as ‘firma inconcussaque amantium possessio’ on p, 518; 4.58 repende as a business term on p. 675, cf. Her. 15.32; 5.18 hippomanes as a potent aphrodisiac on p. 743; 6.9 ite procul as a liturgical formula on p. 824; 11.67 specimen as a moral exemplum on p. 1366), morphology (5.3 cineri as an archaic ablative on pp. 724-725), syntax (7.21 foederis heu pacti as an exclamatory genitive on p. 936), metre (1.17 fuīt with lengthening in arsis on p. 191; 2.2 ego et / ego and ‘correptio iambica’ on p. 414), style and rhetoric (passim), textual criticism (passim), prosopography (9.1 Amphitryonides on pp. 1119-1120), topoi (4.19-20 teichoscopia in an amatory context on pp. 629-631), astrology (1.150 octipedis Cancri terga sinistra time on the enigma of its meaning on pp. 390-395). After the text of each elegy there is a specific bibliography that should be complemented by the commentary of Hutchinson (2006) and Heyworth’s Cynthia (2007).

It only remains for me to mention a few marginalia:

2.5 Haec me turba iuvat on pp. 418-20] In a religious context we should not rule out the possibility that turba might refer to the devout followers of Vertumnus stopping in the presence of the deity on the street (nec templo laetor eburno) outside a temple. The term is used in this sense with reference to followers of a god (4.2.56 turba togata or devout free Romans; Ov. am. 2.13.18 with McKeown 1998, 288; Ramírez de Verger 2006, 76) or to a literary grouping (4.1.136; Hor. serm. 1.10.67 poetarum seniorum turba; Ov. am. 1.16 non tua turba sumus; trist. 2.119 turbaque doctorum, 5.3.47 vos quoque, consortes studii, pia turba, poetae; Pont. 4.16.41 te tamen in turba non ausim, Cota, silere).

3.11 haecne marita fides et †parce avia† noctes on pp. 531-533] The most likely proposal, offered by L. Mueller (1870, xl and 98) and defended by Shackleton Bailey (1956, 230-231), is haecne marita fides et pactae gaudia noctis.

3.41 pallida nutrix on pp. 556-558] There is no mention of the proposal by Heinsius (1742, 744) of callida for pallida, defended by met. 6.576 (1659, 148) in the following terms:

‘Simile mendum ex Propertio quoque tollendum libro iv Eleg. iii
Assidet una soror curis et callida nutrix
Peierat hyberni temporis esse moras.
vafra, inquit, nutrix pejerat moram reditus tui hybernae tempestati esse imputandam. Codices scripti editique perperam illic pallida nutrix’. There would therefore be no need to punctuate after soror.

4.45 Pallados on pp. 659-660] Tarrant (2004, 164 and 491) correctly introduced the Greek genitive Pallados at met. 6.335 and 12.360, although the manuscripts and editions kept Palladis. I am also inclined, as a general rule, to maintain the Greek transcription and declension in Greek proper names. Similarly, it is preferable to read Isidos in 5.34, as defended by Hertzberg (1843, 450 and 1845, 450).

4.52 hanc quoque on pp. 667-668] I am not sure that it is necessary to change the haec of the codices for the hanc proposed by Baehrens in order to avoid “l’anticipazione di quoque”: cf. my note on met. 6.27 (addit et infirmos quoque sustinet artus) in Philologus 155, 2011, 383-386.

6.28 ante on p. 845] The correction of unda into ante is not due to Lipsius, who wrote in his Iusti Lipsi Opera omnia quae ad Criticam proprie spectant, Antverpiae, 1600, p. 133 ‘Fulvii et Mureti libri, unda Notos. Forte scribend. Non tulit i. m. unda Notos. Ut dicat Apollinem ventos iratos in Antonium duxisse’. Burman (1780, 813) attributes the proposal to Francius (though I do not know where) and also cites Broukhusius, who I think should be considered the originator of the reading ante (1792, 372): ‘in τᾠ unda latet vera lectio, quae est ante’. Recently Dominicy (Latomus 74, 2015, 658-660) proposed non tulit ... inde.

7.69 vitae sancimus amores on p. 980] There is no reference to the attractive emendation proposed by Markland (ap. Burm. 1780, 846) and accepted by Hutchinson (2006, 46 and 184), vitae sanamus amara.

8.88 solvimus arma on p. 1101] There is no discussion of the reasonable proposal by Heinsius (1742, 756 movimus arma, defended by Tränkle (Hermes 96, 1968, 580-582); cf. Passerat 1608, 671-672.

11.64 vestra ... manu on p. 1365] I still maintain (cf. BMCR 2009.07.23) that there is no need to change the phrase vestro ... sinu, on the basis of the correct explanation by Passerat (1608, 705-706): 'compositi et clausi mihi oculi a vobis, cum in sinu et amplexu vextro exspiravi'; 'in complexu carorum emori solent et libenter homines'. Propertius is referring not only to the closing of the mother’s eyes for the last time, but also to the fact that the mother dies in the arms of her children; cf. Ov. met. 14.743 accipit illa sinu complexaque frigida nati / membra sui, with Hardie 2015, 463; Virg. ecl. 5.22 cum complexa sui corpus miserabile nati. The term sinus is equivalent to pectus, as in 1.17.11-12 an poteris siccis mea fata reponere ocellis / ossaque nulla tuo nostra tenere sinu?

After the succulent appetizer that was the commentary by Hutchinson (2006) I invite the reader to enjoy this delicious main course prepared in the kitchens of the master chefs Fedeli, Ciccarelli and Dimundo. Fedeli deserves special congratulations on the completion of an excellent, complete commentary on the works of the sensitive and multidimensional poet of Assisi.1


1.   This review has been translated from the Spanish by J. J. Zoltowski. Thanks are due to Professors L. Rivero and J. A. Estévez for their criticism and bibliographical assistance, as well as to the Spanish MICINN (FFI2013-42529) and the Junta de Andalucía (P09-HUM-4534 and FEDER-FSE) for their financial support.

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