Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2019.09.27 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2019.09.27

Magali Année, Tyrtée et Kallinos: la diction des anciens chants parénétiques (édition, traduction et interprétation). Kaïnon–Anthropologie de la pensée ancienne, 9.   Paris:  Classiques Garnier, 2017.  Pp. 1360.  ISBN 9782406065463.  €98,00.  

Reviewed by A. Sebastian Anderson, Brooklyn College (

Tyrtaeus and Callinus are arguably well served by the editions of West and Gentili–Prato.1 With the present volume, Année offers a re-edition in support of an ambitious interpretive agenda: to explain how paraenetic elegy achieved its paraenetic function in performance. Année believes that previous editors of these authors have adhered to too-rigid rules of grammar and meter and have not properly appreciated the sound and rhythm of performed elegy, and her edition and analysis are intended to correct such perceived deficiencies.

The book is divided into three parts: the first contextualizes archaic elegy, explains the aims of the edition, and lays out the interpretive agenda; the second contains the edition and translation of the testimonia and fragments; the third develops the analysis outlined in the first part. The conclusion contains an epilogue and a colophon on Plato’s use of Tyrtaeus; there follow four appendices, a large bibliography, metrical glossary, six indices, and a concordance. Since the edition is founded upon Année’s ideas about elegy’s performance, I review first the arguments in parts one and three, then the edition.

Année rightly questions the assumption that Tyrtaeus and Callinus are derivative from Homer and posits a shared poetic system (27, 50–51). Paraenetic elegy (dubbed “holoparénétique”) is distinguished by its pragmatic function, which is realized in performances (scholarship on performativity and deictic language is rehearsed: 40–47). This function is achieved through sound, meaning a system of phonic echoes (61–86), dialect variation (103–168) and rhythm, which is far more variable than has been recognized (169–243). Année’s ideas about sound, dialect, and rhythm guide the edition and are further discussed in the review of part two, below.

An excursus justifying Année’s analysis and method considers Plato’s ideas about language in the Cratylus (249–384). One passage in particular (437b3–4) is cited (255–56) for a connection between ‘memory’ (μνήμη) and ‘halting’ (μονή), entailing a “network of correspondence” between the syllables μνη, μην, μον, which relates to Archilochus’ notion of rhythm ‘holding men’ (fr. 128 W): the dialogue hints at a connection between sound, rhythm, and paraenesis. But the conception of language here is Plato’s (as Année acknowledges: 297), and it is not made clear why he should guide interpretation of archaic poetry.

Returning to Tyrtaeus and Callinus in part three, Année notes that archaic Greek speakers may have conceptualized their language in syllables rather than words (575–77), so the “alternating syllable” -μεν/μην/μον/μν-, identified in the Cratylus, again receives attention. The middle-passive participle in –μενος is central to the sound- and rhythm-system (578–83). After highlighting elegy’s communal orientation (called “koinônique,” 583–94), Année explains the “phonico-pragmatic” function of the -μεν/μην/μον/μν- “émaillage” (596), that is, how these recurrent sounds achieved paraenetic (pragmatic) aims within a community. Syntactic and semantic interconnections are drawn between the words in which the sounds occur; μένω, μαίνομαι, μιμνήσκω are emphasized (606–19). Année makes several claims about the effects of these sounds in performance: the secondary verbal ending -μην connotes atemporality, unlike the primary ending’s hic et nunc (621). The particle μέν suspends the utterance and rhymes internally with middle-passive participles; for example, the phrase τετλαίη μέν in Année’s Tyrtaeus 1.11–12 (12.11–12 W), printed intentionally as εἰ μὴ τετλαίη μέν (sic) ὁρῶν φόνον αἱματόεντα, / καὶ δηίων ὀρέγοιτ’ ἐγγύθεν ἱστάμενος, forms a prosodic unit (with the syllable μέν prolonged in performance) in a quasi-holospondaic hemistich that gives paraenetic force to the participle ἱστάμενος by anticipating its sound (622–39).2 The verb μένω and the phonic group are said to have an intrinsically middle/reflexive value that interiorizes the paraenesis in auditors (651–852).

Elegy is then considered as a “poietic” discourse (meaning a linguistic mode of ‘fabrication’ entailing a process of virtualization, 71–73): Tyrtaeus pioneered “le premier système poïétique purement hypothétique adressé à l’esprit humain” (855), in service of the Spartan order (koinônique). The priamel of Tyrtaeus 1.1 Année (12.1 W) is key: οὔτ’ ἂν μνησαίμην οὔτ’ ἂν λόγωι ἄνδρα τιθείμην functions, in the “potentially realizable” Doric form *οὔ κα λόγωι (corresponding to οὔτ’ ἂν λόγωι), as a reactualization of the Homeric expression οὐκ ἀλέγω, as well as the remarkably named Oukalegon of Iliad 3.148 (886–922), and the verb τιθείμην conjures Thetis, who is the ordering force of the kosmos and Spartan koinonia (923).

In the edition (part two), fragments and testimonia are renumbered. Testimonia are organized by source-author’s name, rather than by categories like ‘vita’. Quotations are usually longer than those found in Gentili–Prato, and each is translated — sometimes inaccurately.3 Authors judged important (395) receive comment. Some authors, like Stobaeus, are helpfully included as testimonia, though they provide no context for their quotations of fragments; others, however, do not explicitly name Callinus or Tyrtaeus at all. Here lies a methodological problem: included are extracts that take “la forme d’échos ou de reprises implicites” (392). Alcaeus fr. 208.12–14 Campbell is included because it possibly adapts Tyrtaeus, but Tyrtaeus is not mentioned. Année relates Herodotus’ remark (7.231) about the Spartan Aristodemus’ nickname, τρέσας, to Tyrtaeus’ τρεσσάντων δ’ ἀνδρῶν (2.14 Année ~ 11.14 W), but what of Homer’s ἀνδρῶν τρεσσάντων (Il. 14.522)? Such possible echoes, while interesting, are not testimonia.

Année does not aim to recover an original text (58) but hews to the paradosis and eschews most post-medieval corrections, sometimes at the expense of meter or sense. Given a choice of readings, Année opts for one that provides a sound, rhythm, or wording that suits her analysis (again, sometimes sacrificing meter or sense). Ancient texts are often misprinted: erroneous accent-marks are actually confusing because Année sometimes advocates idiosyncratic accentuation. There is a large apparatus criticus and long lists of manuscripts, but Année relies on the spadework of West, Gentili–Prato and Bergk (57). On one occasion, Année provides a manuscript facsimile (148) to document a preferred reading, and this example illustrates her editorial principles: Tyrtaeus 20.1–2 Année (4.1–2 W) is printed Φοίβου ἀκούσαντες Πειθωνόθεν οἱ τάδε νικᾶν / μαντείας τοῦ θε͜οῦ καὶ τελέεντ’ ἔπεα. Unintelligible οἱ τάδε νικᾶν is retained despite Amyot’s οἴκαδ’ ἔνεικαν, and Année prefers the unparalleled variant Πειθωνόθεν in one Plutarch MS (Par. Gr. 1676, which is prone to such errors) to otherwise transmitted Πυθωνόθεν because Alcman (64 PMGF) pairs Peitho with Eunomia (146–68). Année also prefers the prosaic τοῦ θε͜οῦ of Par. Gr. 1676 to the vulgate τε θεοῦ. The apparatus criticus records, alongside variant readings and emendations, previous editors’ preferences. Année privileges the ‘editio princeps’ of Callinus 1 W and Tyrtaeus 11–12 W by Sigismund Gelenius (Basel 1532), but the manuscript from which Gelenius’ edition was derived is not a significant witness for the text of Stobaeus;4 Gelenius’ edition is actually listed as a manuscript and its text is adopted or reported often (but not consistently or always accurately).5 Such deference to manuscripts does not extend to inscriptions¬ — ancient autographs — which are printed with modern corrections.

From several similar funerary inscriptions Année tentatively derives a new fragment of Callinus (designated *0a–b, the number and asterisk indicating uncertainty and the letters the multiform nature of the purported fragment). *0a reads οὐ τὸ θανεῖν ἀλγεινόν, ἑπεὶ (sic) τό γε πᾶσι πέπρωται / ἀλλὰ πρὶν ἡλικίης καὶ γονέων πρότερον. The inscriptions are Hellenistic or later in date, but Année considers them redolent of Callinus and evidence of his continued influence (389–90).

Année’s conception of rhythm affects the edition. Since the elegiac couplet is not a stichic meter but a strophic one, Année suggests that it was, in the seventh century, interpreted in transmutable cola (but a treatise quoted as testimonium [Ka. 5] is not evidence of this6). Fragments with partial verses, viz. Callinus 3 and 4 Année (4 and 2 W), become evidence of non-elegiac segments in elegies (193–205). Critias 4 W, where Alcibiades’ name is fitted in elegiacs by the contrivance of an iambic trimeter, is claimed (182 n. 357, 205) to show flexibility of form, but Critias’ emphasis on the artifice leads one to the opposite conclusion. Année cites (206–34) early inscriptional epigrams that include prose (CEG 362) or whose meter is debated (CEG 394, 454), as well as the perplexing epigram of the shadowy Echembrotus. This is a meager basis for a revisionist account of elegiac form.7 Influences involving Terpander are speculated on (234–43), and the edition of Tyrtaeus includes anapestic fragments connected with Sparta (PMG 856–57, 870). Lacunae of whole verses (e.g., between the pentameters transmitted as Callinus 1.4–5 W) are explained instead as metrical variation. Unmetrical readings are defended: e.g., Tyrt. 2.5–6 Année (11.5–6 W) is printed essentially as transmitted, ἐχθρὰν μὲν ψυχὴν θέμενος, θανάτου δὲ μελαίνας / κῆρας αὐγαῖς ἠελίοιο φίλας (some manuscripts show attempts to fix the meter), and verse 6 is analyzed (1203) as an “unité (dipodie) trochaïque ou hypodochmius + hemiepes” (Grotius inserted ὁμῶς after κῆρας, which restores the meter and yields sense).

The analysis of sound, too, affects the edition: e.g., Tyrtaeus 1.43–44 Année (12.43–44 W) is printed ταύτης νῦν τις ἀνὴρ ἀρετῆς εἰς ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι / πειράσθω θυμὸν μὴ μεθιεὶς πόλεμον (θυμῶι is a variant; πολέμου is Camerarius’ correction) and translated “Que tout homme, donc, de l’excellence que voilà, atteigne le sommet! en son ardeur, soi-même s’éprouvant, et l’œuvre de guerre jamais ne relâchant!” Année prefers θυμόν and πόλεμον because of the phonic echo, and she explains the syntax of πειράσθω θυμόν as an innovation by Tyrtaeus (844–45 n. 407).

Année also detects significant dialect variation in the fragments. Non-Ionic forms are transmitted occasionally, but Année’s purported examples of “Ionic–Doric chiasmus” (e.g., αἰσχρᾶς δὲ φυγῆς, Tyrt. 1.17 Année) involve ‘Doric’ forms that are probably Attic ones (with so-called alpha purum in the first declension), which the source-authors and copyists both used. In general, the manuscripts are unreliable as evidence of these poets’ use of dialects.

The book displays the author’s erudition and innovative thinking, but, while the interpretive sections contain many interesting ideas, these are buried amidst hundreds of pages that suffer from repetition and digression. Année’s prose is dense, but new terminology is clearly defined. The edition, however, is fundamentally unreliable and not infrequently detracts from the interpretive insights.


1.   M. L. West Iambi et Elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati vol. 2 (Oxford 19922); B. Gentili and C. Prato Poetae Elegiaci: Testimonia et Fragmenta vol. 1 (Leipzig 19882).
2.   The analysis is inconsistent: the eccentric accentuation and interpretation of μέν is not applied to verse three of the poem, which opens with the same metrical shape as verse eleven: οὐδ’ εἰ Κυκλώπων μὲν ἔχοι.
3.   E.g., [Ka. 5], 399–400: ...Archilochum, qui cum epodos excogitaverit alios breviores, alios longiores..., is translated “...Archiloque, lui qui, en inventant d’autres épodes, tantôt plus courts, tantôt plus longs...,” but “d’autres” is not in the Latin. [Tyrt. 23b], 447: verses 3–4 of the sepulchral epigram CEG 6, hόστ’ ἐχθρὸς στενάχεμ πολέμο θέρος ἐκκομίσαντας, |αὐτοῖς δ’ ἀθάνατον μνɛ̃μ’ ἀρετɛ̃ς ἔθεσαν, are rendered “Sur eux, que l’haïssable saison du combat a emportés, ils ont pleuré / Et à la mémoire immortelle de leur excellence ils ont levé ce monument,” but ἐχθρός is the accusative plural substantive with ἐκκομίσαντας, and it is the subject, not object, of the infinitive στενάχεμ.
4.   On this manuscript, see A. Biedl “Eine griechische Handschrift aus der Sammlung des Bohuslaw v. Lobkowicz” Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Deutschen in Böhmen 71 (1933) 94–119.
5.   E.g., at Tyrtaeus 1.1 Année (12.1 W), τιθείμην is ascribed to Plato’s Laws (AO), Gentili–Prato, Prato, whereas the variant τιθείην is attributed to Stobaeus (codd.), West, Gelenius, in that order. The preference of a given editor for an ancient reading is irrelevant, but such preferences are not even reported consistently. At Tyrtaeus 2.6 Année (11.6 W), Gelenius prints φίλαις, not φίλας as reported.
6.   See footnote 3.
7.   Année omits inscriptions (CEG 108, 140, 280) that actually show some metrical variety. The discussion of Echembrotus’ meter lacks reference to K. Tsantsanoglou “ΕΧΕΜΒΡΟΤΟΣ ΑΡΚΑΣ” ZPE 176 (2011) 39–44. The bibliography lacks R. S. Garner Traditional Elegy: The Interplay of Meter, Tradition, and Context in Early Greek Poetry (Oxford 2011).

Read comments on this review or add a comment on the BMCR blog

Read Latest
About BMCR
Review for BMCR
Support BMCR

BMCR, Bryn Mawr College, 101 N. Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010