BMCR 1996.02.09

1996.2.9, Goold, ed., Chariton: Callirhoe

, , , , Callirhoe. The Loeb classical library ; 481. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. viii, 425 pages : map ; 17 cm.. ISBN 9780674995307. $16.95.

In as much as any text of Chariton can claim to be the current ‘standard edition’, this dubious honour must fall to the Budé of Georges Molinié (1979), an edition whose ‘incompétence et négligeance’ was laid bare with merciless clarity by Bryan Reardon in REG 95 (1982) 157-73. For those who could face Molinié no longer, there has always been Warren Blake’s intelligent and careful 1938 edition, but even if Reardon exaggerated somewhat in describing this book as ‘depuis longtemps introuvable’, it must be admitted that not every library stocks multiple copies. A Loeb (by Reardon) was long ago planned, but (like many other volumes) it was a victim of hard times. George Goold’s new Loeb would therefore be very welcome for more than one reason, even if it reached no great heights of achievement. In fact, it must be said at once that for anyone used to reading Chariton in Molinié’s edition, Goold’s text is a revelation; this is not because of the many new suggestions (culled particularly from the obviously remarkable marginalia of John Jackson) here appearing for the first time, but simply because of the judicious scholarship which has been applied to the task of editing a long text around which a surprisingly sizeable body of textual criticism has grown up. Here is a job which was worth doing, and it has been done very well.

Chariton’s novel survives in one thirteenth-century manuscript (F), which bears eloquent witness, as do four fragmentary ancient texts (cf. C. Lucke, ZPE 58 (1985) 21-33), to the well known fact that fictional prose texts were copied with less concern for exactness than poetic texts. Goold makes no pretence that his is a full-scale critical edition. Though he accepts with great freedom conjectures and supplements (some of which could only ever be, and were presumably proposed, exempli gratia)—this is not a conservative text—the apparatus is as scanty as is usual in a Loeb. In particular, whereas the papyri are reported fairly fully, there is generally ‘no note when a slight emendation of F’s text has won acceptance from Hercher onwards’ (p.19). The problem here, of course, is what constitutes a ‘slight emendation’. Thus, for example, the corrections of ὄνομα πορθμίου to ὀνόματι πορθμείου (1.7.1, Reiske) and of φίλον to φαῦλον (2.5.8, D’Orville) are quite justifiably adopted without comment, but what of Cobet’s ἁλῶναι for ἅγνον εἶναι at 5.4.3? The transmitted text cannot stand, but should not the reader have been warned that here is a considerable uncertainty (of text, even if not of general sense)? Cases such as this could readily be accumulated, but this would do nothing to detract from the fact that we now have easy access to a very readable and intelligent (in particular, intelligently punctuated) text, and we should be grateful.

The translation is accurate, if a bit flat; comparison of a few passages chosen at random suggested that Bryan Reardon’s version (in B. Reardon (ed.), Collected Ancient Greek Novels (Berkeley 1989)) was livelier and better reflected some of Chariton’s most striking effects. Thus, for example, Goold’s ‘Love was the spokesman’ hardly catches the flavour of Ἔρως ἦν δημαγωγός (1.1.12), particularly as Chariton is presumably reaching for an ‘authentic’ fifth-century touch; very similar is 1.1.14 where ‘The city is here to attend your wedding’ does not do justice to the image in ἡ πόλις σε νυμφαγωγεῖ. ‘A woman of experience’ misses the wonderful sociology of ζῶον οὐκ ἄπρακτον (2.2.1), and so on. On the other hand, the King might well have ‘muttered’ in the presence of the Queen (8.5.8), but all he actually does is ἔλεγε. At a rather different level, ‘oriental’ is both clever and potentially rather weird (note 4.3.3 addressed to Mithridates) as the standard translation of βάρβαρος, but the rationale of the occasional exception (5.1.6, 6.3.7) is unclear. Self-pitying exclamations cause their usual trouble: ‘Oh, how dreadful! I have been buried alive …’ (1.8.3) and ‘we are in this mess’ (ταῦτα πάσχομεν 4.2.7—they are being crucified) are the kind of thing that used to give the Greek novel a bad name, but as anyone who has attempted to translate such a text can testify, it does not matter how often you prune such growths, usque recurrent. As with the text, however, what is important is that the translation is more than adequate for the job in hand. This Loeb is likely to be the place to which those with (at least some) Greek will turn, so there is always the left-hand page to act as a check upon the right; those without Greek will suffer no harm by using this volume, but they may be somewhat better off with Reardon.

Unfortunately, the achievement of text and translation is not matched by a very thin introduction (much inferior to Molinié) and scanty explanatory notes. Some of the familiar evidence for the date of the novel is rehearsed (Goold favours mid-first century CE, on the basis of the non-Atticising language, but he does not really air the arguments for a rather later date, and the uninitiated are nowhere told that it was in fact papyrus discoveries which prompted the modern revolution in the dating); the genre of ‘light fiction’ is briefly described, but I wonder whether all Loeb readers will understand unexplained allusions to the Phoinikika and the Iolaus. Certainly, judgements such as ‘Chaereas is not a satisfactory hero, for in the first half of the work he is culpably intemperate and given to self-pity, while in the second his war exploits are too fantastic and out of character to be other than those of a cardboard Alexander; Dionysius is not only a worthier husband, he is a credible one …’ (p.14) will seem at least quaint to someone familiar with the sophistication of recent criticism on the Greek novel. The assertion that ‘while the motif of apparent death ( Scheintod) is timeless and universal in storytelling, we need to realize that it was forced on Chariton (as on Euripides) by the fixity of the historical material he was working on’ (p.11) is, to say the least, not the only account available; (for another, and rather more radical, narrative see Glen Bowersock’s recent Fiction as History (Berkeley 1994)). This is not an unimportant matter, because Loebs have a tendency to fall into the hands of the unwary, and it would be a pity if anyone really thought that this was where scholarship on the novel was ‘at’.

A few observations on (I hope) typical problems: 1.1.5 Gerschmann’s <Ἔρωτος is unconvincing (the verb is wrong for the god). Reardon and Plepelits adopt Blake’s hesitant <τοῦ πατρὸς. p.33n. ‘Assemblies were regularly held in the theater’ is very misleading for someone who does not know which period is referred to (the fifth century BCE or the first CE?). p.41 n.a ‘Only here … is homosexuality referred to …’ is only true if πόρνος in 1.2.3 is emended away (as it is by Praechter, ἄπορος, which Goold adopts). p.41 n.b (1.3.7) On the rhythm of this gnome cf. G.M. Browne, AJP 102 (1981) 321. 2.4.7 (apparatus) ‘τιν’ ὃν Reardon: πτηνόν φ’ is misleading; F reads πτηνὸν ὃν, if Blake and Molinié ( ex silentio) can be believed. 3.2.11 On the ‘harbour of Docimus’ a simple reference to an article in Chiron will not be very helpful for many users of this book. 3.5.3 Goold is usually excellent in noting echoes of classical literature, but here Thucydides 6.30 is a curious omission (cf. ANRW II 34.2, p.1058). 4.4.5 Chaereas’ rhetorical question in the Greek becomes a much flatter statement in the English. 5.10.9, 7.3.5 It is the regular practice of Chariton’s editors to print as verse adapted lines of Homer which (as transmitted) do not scan. Is this practice correct? What would Chariton have thought of it? At 8.1.17 Goold silently accepts Reiske’s λέκτροιο for λέκτρου to make Odyssey 23.296 scan, and he is tempted to act similarly at 5.2.4. There is an interesting issue here which needs further discussion. 8.4.6 Goold adopts the now standard interpretation of ὧν γάμον ζεῦξον as ‘Marry them to each other’, but doubts remain (the bride, for example, will be somewhat older than the groom); at the very least, it should have been noted that F reads ὃν.

Proof-reading and presentation are of a high standard (p.98 apparatus: For P read P. 2.6.5: For λαβοῦσα read βαλοῦσα).