BMCR 1995.12.05

1995.12.05, Ziegler, ed., Plut. Vit. sel. (Studienausgabe iegler, Konrat (ed.))

, , Demosthenes et Cicero. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana. Leipzig: Teubner, 1994. 95 Seiten.. ISBN 9783815416914 DM 26.

Konrat Ziegler devoted much of his long life to the editing and reediting of Plutarch’s Lives, along with the equally thankless and unglamorous work of editing the Pauly-Wissowa, where his own articles number in the hundreds, as well as the Kleine Pauly. When he died early in 1974, a few days before what would have been his 90th birthday and less than a year after the appearance of his revision of the final volume of the Lives ( Vitae Parallelae 3.2 2, 1973), he had edited and published the entire voluminous corpus twice. The first edition (1914-39), begun with Cl. Lindskog, spanned the period between the two world wars, in the first of which Ziegler was a combatant. As the Nazizeit dawned, he was Rector of the University of Greifswald, but was expelled from his position there after 1933 on the grounds of “untrustworthiness” ( wegen nationale Unzuverlässigkeit) stemming from his opposition to militarism and to anti-semitism (see his obituary by Lothar Wickert, Gnomon 46 [1974], 636-40). It was many years before he held another academic post, this time at Göttingen, where he served as Honorarprofessor from 1950 until his retirement in 1965. The final volume of the first edition of the text of the Lives appeared in 1935 and his extensive and invaluable indices to the entire corpus, in 1939. These volumes quickly became unavailable for the obvious reasons.

There is little doubt that Ziegler’s edition of the Lives is, in the form in which he left it, “by far the most convenient and distinguished available” (Christopher Pelling in JHS 115 [1975], 217). The only competition has been Robert Flacelière’s Budé (15 vols, 1957-79, with an Index des noms propres by Édouard Simon as vol. 16, 1983). Flacelière was not generous in his reviews of his rival’s revised edition as it appeared ( Revue de Philologie et d’Histoire 40 (1966), 332-33; Antiquité Classique 44 (1975), 256-57). He began by deploring the division of volumes into numbered fascicles (1.2, 3.1, etc.) which in his opinion “complique inutilement les références et ne se justifie en aucune façon,” and whose source he found in “ce même goût des vaines complications” that cluttered Ziegler’s margins with line numbers on the one side and a sometimes bewildering annotation of the pagination of various previous editions on the other, along with succinct indications of the historical date of some of the events described in the text ( RPh 40 [1966], 332). Beyond Ziegler’s admittedly fussy format, Flacelière was similarly grudging in his assessment of the improvements Ziegler, now in his eighties, was making in the work he had done thirty years earlier. Flacelière criticized his continuing zeal in changing word order in order to “eliminer à toute force les hiatus,” and characterized the bulk of Ziegler’s new readings as elevations to the text of emendations previously aired in the apparatus of the first edition ( RPh 40 [1966], 333). Some of these criticisms are not without foundation, and it is good to bear them in mind when using Ziegler’s text of the Lives, but his superior apparatus and the sheer depth of scholarship that went into this lifetime effort make it unlikely that any other editor will soon supplant Ziegler’s work.

Hans Gärtner began his work on Ziegler’s edition of the Lives by producing a long-awaited and extremely valuable new and corrected edition of the 1939 Index volume (1980). His work on the current re-edition has been modest and ancillary. There is, in fact, little reason to go to the expense of replacing Ziegler’s postwar edition (where substantial improvements over the earlier edition in the apparatus and text are widespread) with the corrected reprint.

Along with the new corrected edition, Teubner has taken the interesting and welcome step of offering the separate, paperback editions, under review here, of two of the most popular sets of lives, Demosthenes and Cicero from 1.2 and Alexander and Caesar from 2.2. These are certainly of pedagogical value, and should and will be used in courses for students advanced enough to read Plutarch “raw”. They will have to be supplemented, of course—e.g. by J. R. Hamilton, Plutarch: Alexander, A Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 1969). That valuable commentary in fact helps to bring into focus the greatest shortcoming of this minimally modified re-edition of a text now, by the most conservative of estimates, a generation old. Ziegler helped Hamilton by giving him advance access to the then still unpublished text of his last edition of the Alexander—and Hamilton’s commentary is closely matched to that text, essentially unchanged in this new, corrected edition. But Hamilton very occasionally ventured to differ with Ziegler’s reading and was sometimes clearly right (e.g. ch. 7, on the question whether it was the Metaphysics [with the mss.] or the Physics [Xylander’s emendation followed by Ziegler] of Aristotle that Plutarch identified as useless for learning the field in question and of value only as a “memorandum” [U(πόδειγμα] for those who had been taught it already). Unfortunately, this “corrected” edition of Ziegler 25 years later is not of a sort that would allow acknowledgement of such contributions.

Nevertheless, these little paperback “study editions” mark a great step forward in making this important text available in a form financially accessible to students. But there is something lost from Ziegler’s second edition all the same. The quality of the offset is mediocre and the improvements I have been able to find are minimal. Where a correction requires a change in spacing (e.g. Deomosthenes et Cicero, p. 23 = Vol. 1, fasc. 2, p. 301, where the mistaken attribution of ἠυτύχησε in line 13 to Photius is now deleted) a blank is left, preserving the lineation of the edition but at the cost of esthetic effect. And even corrections of this sort are very few and far between. More important, it is too bad that a little more thought was not given to the problem of how to paginate these separate editions. The pages are simply excerpted from the larger volumes and repaginated, starting from page one. What was not taken into consideration is the fact that Ziegler was given to referring in his apparatus to page and line of his own edition when a nearby passage might throw light on one of his editorial decisions. The text of the apparatus is unchanged in the “study editions” but the changed pagination renders these not infrequent references unintelligible, so for instance, the reader who consults the apparatus at p. 50, line 20 of the Alexander is told, “cl. p. 201, 16,” a reference that is accurate in the hardbound edition and in its predecessors. But the reader of the paperback who is not armed with the formula “N minus 150” (or “N minus 278” in Demosthenes et Cicero) will have a hard time finding the relevant passage—in this instance, line 16, p. 51 of the book in hand.

This sort of thing does not render the “study editions” useless by any means, but this is sloppy and regrettable book-production (as distinct from editing—I don’t mean to put this problem at Gärtner’s door and he may in fact not be the responsible party at all). Flacelière’s rather testy comment addressed to Ziegler’s complex marginal notation is even more relevant to this misleading apparatus: “on se demande comment un lecteur un peu novice peut se reconnaître dans le fouillis de ces annotations” ( RPh 40 [1966], 332).