[Ed.’s note: this is not a book review but a preview; translated from the German for us by James P. Holoka, Eastern Michigan University]
Certain works of literature are exceptional in their richness of meaning and their level of artistry. As they are transmitted through long periods of time within changing linguistic and cultural communities, such works constantly confront their audiences with changing exegetic demands. In the history of European literature, a general need for literary explication arose first in connection with the Greek monumental epic poems: the Iliad and the Odyssey. According to Xenophanes of Kolophon, by about 500 BC, both epics had long been considered the basis of Greek education. 1 But even then—only some 200 years after their composition—altered linguistic and psychological conditions of reception had rendered them less accessible both in their details and in their overall world view. As usual in such a situation, the initial remedy was provided by the oral interpreter. 2 Oral interpretation is, however, conditioned by time and place as well as the individual competence of a given interpreter. As a result, it tends to remain limited in its scope and effectiveness. In addition, since it has no fixed form, it can neither be transmitted accurately nor, as a consequence, improved by the assimilation of explications of other oral interpreters. As long as this type of explication lasts, any ongoing accumulation of knowledge—beyond that of an individual—is ruled out. What is already known gets lost and must be rediscovered again and again (only to be forgotten in its turn).
Written explication, which arises in response to such deficiencies, begins to develop in Europe in the context of the fifth-century educational movement associated with the Sophists. It consists in the first place of the elaboration of specific questions of language and content. As might be expected, in its level of discourse and direction of inquiry, these first ventures in commentary are to begin with quite elementary and often, by today’s standards, even ludicrous. That stems, as Rudolf Pfeiffer was able to show, 3 less from the degree of competence of the commentators than from their intent in writing. The Sophists in the commentaries on Homer—the
From collections of curiosities of this type, which have the character of riddle books and party games, evolve dictionaries in which incomprehensible poetic locutions are clarified through modern equivalents (the so-called
Commentary on the Homeric epics—considering its long history—made little use of opportunities for specifically literary commentary. That is a consequence of its dependence on research on the Homeric epics generally. This research, seen in its basic contours, occurred in only two major phases, each marked by long periods of stagnation.
(1) The ancient phase was essentially typified on the one hand by the fundamental insights into poetics by Aristotle, and on the other by the practical text criticism of Aristarkhos and his successors, including the “four-man commentary,” the scholia, and Eustathios.
(2) In the modern phase, from Friedrich August Wolf’s Prolegomena ad Homerum (1795) to Milman Parry’s 1928 thesis on traditional epithets and Wolfgang Schadewaldt’s Iliasstudien (1938), research was still largely restricted to the externals, rather than the inner meaning of both epics.
In both phases, advances in the understanding of Homer were made chiefly in the areas of language, style, verse structure, and realia. As regards the poems’ overall structure, narrative technique, purpose in the context of their original audience, importance in shaping the literary culture of Europe, and general literary aesthetic—these and similar interrelated elements and effects of the epics remained in the background and impinged very little on individual explications. A gradual reorientation began around the mid-twentieth century. In the last two decades or so, this has gained in breadth and depth.
Since a comprehensive history of Homeric commentary does not exist, we can stress here only a few characteristics that seem to represent basic tendencies. In doing so, it will be sensible to concentrate on the modern phase. The amazing thoroughness of the efforts that men like Lehrs, Ludwich, Roemer, and Erbse have put into laying the foundations for the study of ancient Homer commentators is generally well known. (It is hardly conceivable that the enormous scholarly energy expended on even quite modest notions of a Didymos, a Nicanor, or an anonymous ancient scholiast should ever be devoted to a Samuel Clarke, William Trollope, or Christian Gottlob Heyne.)
In the modern phase, for almost two centuries after the publication of the editio princeps of 1488, the main objective of commentary was first of all additions to the text from the ancient scholia. Later, around 1700, began the first attempts to break out of this mold with commentaries in Latin, for example, by Joshua Barnes (1711) and Samuel Clarke (1729-1740). In the form of Editiones cum notis variorum, these annotations were handed on from commentary to commentary—mostly without attribution—right up into the nineteenth century.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century and especially in the first half of the nineteenth, the achievements of individual commentators reach remarkable levels. Methodological rigor is still of course a rarity and the interests of the individual remain decisive.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the requirements of schools give rise to commentaries of a new sort. Instead of the accumulation of the bits of knowledge of particular authors, there is a focused effort with the avowed goal of elucidating the meaning of words and of the work itself from the perspective of a comprehensive conception of the Homeric epics, thought out in advance; see the commentaries of Ingerslev (1830/1834), Spitzner (1832/1836), Crusius (1842), Lecluse (1845), Faesi (1849-1852), Lefranc (1852), Duentzer (1866/1867), Paley (1867), La Roche (1870-1878), and Merry-Riddell (1876). There are certain pervasive traits in these school commentaries. They give information about grammar, semantics, and realia only to the extent deemed necessary for students at a supposed stage of learning. These are generally given as notes, usually on the lower half of the page and in small print. There is such “cross-contamination” from one edition to another that the peculiar contributions of a given author may be identified only with difficulty. And, more importantly for advances in explication, the dimensions of the commentaries are restricted to determinate categories of information repeated for decades.
The comparison of all these commentaries leads to the following conclusion: in the 2700 years of their existence, the Homeric epics have been the subject of a thoroughgoing, somewhat compact verse-by-verse commentary of consistent quality and focus, worthy to be called “systematic” and “original,” only three times:
(1) by Aristarkhos of Samothrace in the second century BC,
(2) by Ameis and Hentze in the nineteenth century, and
(3) by the contributors to the Mondadori commentary on the Odyssey and the Cambridge commentary on the Iliad toward the end of the twentieth century. 6
At this point, I will address the two crucial questions that our project raises:
(1) Why, after the Cambridge commentary by Kirk et al., another Iliad -commentary at all?
(2) Why return to the 120-year-old Ameis-Hentze commentary in particular?
The first question is readily answered: in modern times international Homer-commentary, paralleling Homeric scholarship generally, has been gone forward largely in two major strands—the one English-language, the other German-language. Admittedly, the authors of the Cambridge commentary, especially Janko and Hainsworth, attempted to incorporate the German-language tradition of commentary, but of course it belongs in essence to the English-language tradition. Already in a programmatic statement in the Foreword to my Wege-der-Forschung volume, Homer. Tradition und Neuerung (1979), I described the alliance of these two traditions of scholarship and commentary as the most important goal of today’s international enterprise of Homeric studies. 7 It has since become clear that this goal cannot be reached in a single step. Taking a fundamentally international perspective, it is a foregone conclusion that, for both sides, a manifestly indispensable intermediate stage must be the achievement of the fullest possible compromise between the two traditions of research. What the Cambridge Iliad -commentary sought to achieve within the English-language scholarly tradition must now be achieved with the German. Alongside the Cambridge commentary, there must be set a German-language counterpart (which will naturally draw upon it). Only then may subsequent research set its sights if necessary on still more rigorous explication.
The second question—”Why did the choice fall on Ameis-Hentze?”—requires a somewhat fuller answer. The outcome of our project is assured in advance, because the Ameis-Hentze commentary, in its evolution, overall layout, and distinctive virtues represents even today a good basis for a German-language Iliad -commentary. A short description of Ameis-Hentze will make this clear.
1. Origins, Level, Structure, Qualities
In 1868, when Karl Friedrich Ameis, a gymnasium professor at the Muehlhausen Gymnasium (Thuringia), brought out the first volume of his Iliad -commentary, covering Books 1-3, he had already produced a commentary on the entire Odyssey between 1856 and 1868. In those thirteen years, Ameis had made himself fully conversant with the Homeric scholarship of his day, including the (then) novel field of comparative Indo-European linguistics, Homeric textual criticism, the evaluation of scholia, and the often embittered debates of the “Homeric Question.” But beyond this, he was up on current work on so-called “folk poetry” and the parallels between Homeric diction and that of other, still living traditions of improvisational epic. I have printed selections from authors Ameis read at the time, including Ellendt and Duentzer, in Homer. Tradition und Neuerung. In the same volume, I have cited, paraphrased, and characterized through key quotations many other works that Ameis knew (see my article “Tradition und Neuerung in der Homerforschung. Zur Geschichte der Oral poetry-Theorie” and my “Spezialbibliographie zur Oral poetry-Theorie in der Homerforschung”). My intention was to assess the value of these materials for a reconstruction of the state of knowledge of German-speaking Homeric philologists in the mid-nineteenth century. 8 When Ameis began work on his Iliad -commentary in the mid-1860s, he was one of the best scholars not only of the Iliad but of Iliad studies in his time. This kept him from being too narrow in approach. In his 1868 Foreword, he said quite rightly:
I take an intense interest in every line of inquiry in Homeric studies and do not pursue one-sidedly any special preference. (My emphasis.)
He explained further that he wished to take sides neither with the Analysts nor the Unitarians, because “both orientations [were needed to promote] advancement in Homeric criticism and exegesis.” In general, he saw the Iliad as an artistically unified whole,
for whose assessment and evaluation a knowledge of improvisational poetry and of the simple aesthetic sensibility are the best criteria. (My emphasis.)
Restated in the scholarly terminology of today, this means that he treated the Iliad as a product of an oral improvisational technique (twelve years earlier, he had written that “In Homer we have an oral epic”9), which adheres to universal norms of narrative. This is obviously a very modern point of view. Of course, thanks to Milman Parry and Edzard Visser, 10 we have progressed a good bit along this path, but the path itself has remained the same. 11
Thus the theoretical basis of the old Ameis-Hentze remains valid even for the projected new commentary.
The next question concerns the level of the old Ameis-Hentze. The work is avowedly “for the use of schools.” The sneers this avowal elicits today are unjustified. The first edition of the work came out between 1868 and 1886, Books 1-6 of the Iliad from the hand of Ameis himself, the rest from Carl Hentze, gymnasium professor at Goettingen. During those years, at German-speaking gymnasiums of a humanistic type (the standard gymnasial school of the time), instruction in Greek was typical; it entailed at least six hours of instruction every week for seven years. 12 Discounting holidays, that amounts to about 240 hours per year or 1700 hours over a student’s career in the gymnasium. By the time of their exit examinations, those who worked conscientiously had often achieved a higher linguistic competency in Greek than many of the graduates of today’s university curricula in Greek. Recall the final Greek prose compositions on set subjects that Nietzsche and Wilamowitz wrote as a graduation requirement at Schulpforta 13 (and that even our grandfathers still had to—and were able to—write). Recall, too, the school “Programs” in which gymnasium professors carried on much of the basic research in Greek philology at the time. Put bluntly, the work of at least a present-day university proseminar in Greek took place in the gymnasium.
The old Ameis-Hentze featured an additional enhancement that is unfortunately held in little regard in today’s world of specialist scholars: each individual volume of the commentary is accompanied by a pendant volume entitled “Appendix.” We thus have eight volumes of text and commentary (printed below the text on each page) and an additional eight “Appendix” volumes. The text/commentary volumes and the appendix volumes originally formed a unity. (The practice in earlier editions of using bracketed references to direct the user from the text/commentary volumes to appendix volumes kept users conscious of this unity.)
The material provided by the appendix volumes is astonishing. First of all the current state of scholarly research is summarized and discussed. Next the text critical and interpretive decisions in the commentary are fully supported. Finally the structure of each book and of major episodes is outlined and the composition analyzed in some detail. The familiar annotations filling about two-thirds of each page beneath the Greek text is only one portion of the Ameis-Hentze commentary. They are a concise distillation of arguments conducted at length in the appendix. Failure to see this connection (and it is seldom recognized even among German-speaking scholars) results in an underestimation of the old Ameis-Hentze.
Another virtue of the work often goes unrecognized: Carl Hentze, after taking over from Ameis in 1870, saw the Iliad -commentary on Books 1-6 through no less than five revisions, bringing out the sixth edition of Books 4-6 in 1908. Hentze thus spent thirty-eight years reworking the commentary. In this time, he integrated countless suggestions from schools and universities where the commentary served as a standard philological tool. And all the while he was actively engaged in producing his scholarly works, many of which are still considered useful today. 14 Thus, in the third edition of the appendix-volume on Books 1-3, he evaluated Homeric scholarship of his time up to 1894.
But the history of the old Ameis-Hentze does not break off there. After Hentze’s death, the work was taken over by Paul Cauer, at the time Professor of classical philology, pedagogy, and didactics at the University of Münster. 15 He devoted ten years to the commentary volumes and brought out a revision of the whole (except for those on Books 13-18) after the First World War in its final edition (1921/1922, the seventh for Books 1-6, sixth for 7-12, fifth for 19-24). In his hands, the commentary’s standard of scholarship was raised to an even higher level. For example, in the foreword to the seventh edition of the commentary on Books 1-3, he requires of those reading the Iliad in schools (a) exploration of the formularity and the formulaic inventiveness of Homer, (b) a fundamental break with the principles of the Analytic-Unitarian controversy, and (c) an ongoing discussion of problems of compositional technique. These requirements would do honor today to an upper-level Greek seminar on the Iliad.
The Ameis-Hentze-Cauer Iliad -commentary thus reflects fifty-five years of Homeric scholarship (1868-1922). It is a work of high scholarly standards, built on a basis of ever expanding knowledge. At its foundation is an understanding of the formulaic character of Homer’s language and of the oral aspect of his technique of versification. It is praxis oriented and not partial to either side in the debate between Analysts and Unitarians. Such qualities forbade our overlooking the old Ameis-Hentze in our plans for a new German-language Iliad -commentary.
A great array of other individual virtues also recommends the Ameis-Hentze-Cauer commentary. We can indicate only a few of these here:
(1) The discussions of Analysis vs. Unitarianism found in the appendix-volumes find their way into the commentary-volumes only as brief synopses of major trends and short designations of particular positions. No effort is made to sway the user toward one side over the other.
(2) The heart of the commentary-volumes is explication of language and content together with hints for translation, all routinely grounded in parallels drawn from Homer himself (
(3) Repetitions are registered consistently, if not always exhaustively in order to invite comparison of passages and thus a more precise understanding of the text. (This sort of “implicit” commentary relies on “behind the scenes” work on the part of the user and makes unnecessary much tedious presentation and explication of material by the commentator. This approach has become unheard of in the more verbose commentaries of the present day.)
(4) The narrator’s use of echoes and foreshadowing is registered as a matter of course. This provides users of the commentary with a strong sense that in the Iliad they have before them a work that is both highly complex and a unified whole, what E. Laemmert calls “the spherical perfection of the narrative work.”16
(5) The style of presentation in the commentary is spare and assumes some knowledge of grammar, realia, and the most important works of ancient Greek and Latin literature. It demands that its users be able to make associations quickly and be alert collaborators (often through the pedagogical quiz-questions so beloved at the time). 17
(6) Speculation, subjective evaluations, and conceits of all kinds are avoided. Where a definitive answer is not possible, none is forced upon the user.
By these merits, the Ameis-Hentze commentary volumes pragmatically combine rational, content-focused explication of the text with a heightened aesthetic sensibility. The old Ameis-Hentze was and still is well-suited to be a first guide through the landscape of the 16,000-line poem, the Iliad.
For an in-depth appreciation of the Iliad as a work of art, the old Ameis-Hentze is of course inadequate; it was in its own day and is even more so now. The commentary has not been updated in light of the discoveries and advances in knowledge in Homeric scholarship since the 1920s. Now it is precisely these advances that have drawn the Iliad into a new cultural and historical perspective and won a renewed general interest in Homer today. 18 These advances may be detailed only sketchily and by means of catch phrases.
(1) Milman Parry’s demonstration that the formularity of Homer is a necessary consequence of the circumstances of composition for singers of early Greek hexameter poetry. Flowing from this is the recognition that one of the prerequisites for an understanding of the Iliad is a knowledge of the norms of oral poetry. 19
(2) Wolfgang Schadewaldt’s integration of the Iliad into the system of rules governing narrative works generally, implying that oral poetry too is obedient to the same story-telling principles as narrative works conceived in writing. 20 From this flows a second prerequisite for right understanding of the Iliad : a knowledge of the norms of narrative, as narratology has elaborated them. 21
(3) Michael Ventris’s identification (in 1952) of the Mycenaean Linear B script as Greek. From this flows the consequent necessity of recalibrating our understanding of the linguistic evolution between Mycenaean and Homeric Greek. 22
(4) The new excavations at Troy undertaken since 1988 by Manfred Korfmann, including the discovery in 1993 of the lower city of Troy VI and the emergence in 1995-1996 of strong indications (including, among other things, a seal-stone inscribed in Luwian) of an association of Troy with the Hittite cultural sphere. 23
(5) The ongoing revelations about the so-called Greek Dark Ages through excavations at Lefkandi, Elateia, and numerous other sites. These have brought the debate about cultural continuity through the Dark Ages to a new stage. 24
(6) The shipwreck finds at Gelidonya and Kas, which have such great relevance for the reconstruction of Mediterranean commercial and economic history. 25
(7) G.A. Lehmann’s interpretation of the fourteenth-century BC Danaja/Tanaja -inscription with its enumeration of Danaja -place names: Mukana /Mykanai (Mycenae), Deqajis /Thebais, Misana /Messana, Nuplia /Nauplia, Kuthira /Kythera, Weleja /(VALEI=A – [W]elis), and Amukla /Amyklai. This has added fuel to the debate over the historicity of the Iliad vis-à-vis its Mycenaean background. 26
The last four of these complexes of information relate to the substructure of the specific story of the wrath of Akhilleus and its results as narrated in the Iliad. As such, they have been thought by many to be only marginally pertinent to the Iliad. But this is not the case if we include in our interpretation of the work of art the attitudes of the audience that originally received the work. For this public, none of the things we consider the likely historical substructure of the story were immaterial or interchangeable, as they have been for readers in later centuries and cultural settings, including our own. They were the indispensable facts of their own past. Only by a roundabout path through archaeology and history can we reproduce in ourselves the sense of authenticity felt by the original audience, a sense from which the originally intended meaning of the work of art, the Iliad, was constituted. The ideal interpreter of the Iliad will seek to allow the work to emerge anew as the original artistic and dynamic whole it once was, as authentically as possible. Such an interpreter must be a scholar not only of language and literature, but also of archaeology, ancient history, Near Eastern studies, Egyptology, and so on. 27
In such an environment, the old Ameis-Hentze appears too one-dimensional, because it is too focused on the text and therefore superficial. Inevitably, the New Ameis-Hentze must use the old only as a base.
The name “The New Ameis-Hentze” signals continuity in two senses. First, in actual fact, in its style, the new commentary will attempt to emulate the virtues of the old. That means first and foremost: brevity, accuracy, and avoidance of unproductive and otiose disputes. Second, since in many parts of Europe the commentary represents a benchmark in the minds of students of the ancient world in schools, universities, and the public at large, the name briefly and pointedly announces the resumption and preservation of a tradition.
2. Organizational Matters and Financing
The commentary is a research project of the “Swiss National Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research” (Berne). The project leader is the Professor of Greek Philology at the University of Basel. Financing derives mainly from the Swiss National Fund (SNF) with additions from the University of Basel and private sponsors.
Work on the commentary is presently being conducted by two licensed Greek philologists, Dr. Rene Nünlist and lic.phil. Magdalene Stoevesandt, and by the author of this report. The technical staff is available to assist this three-person team. Beyond this core group, firm arrangements have been made for the cooperation of a broad range of specialists: at Basel, the Professors of Latin Philology (Fritz Graf), Ancient History (Jürgen v. Ungern-Sternberg), and Classical Archaeology (Rolf Stucky), as well as the lecturer in Indo-European Linguistics, Dr. Rudolf Wachter, Ph.D. (Oxford). At present, there are also ties with several scholarly groups and projects: the “Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos” (LfgrE) at the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (University of Hamburg) led by Prof. Dr. Michael Meier-Brügger (FU Berlin and Thesaurus Hamburg), “Projekt Troia” (University of Tübingen) led by Prof. Dr. Manfred Korfmann, and the “Institut Universitaire de France, CNRS Recherches sur la Grece Archaique” (Stendhal University, Grenoble) led by Prof. Dr. Françoise Letoublon. Further ties are envisaged.
4. Time Line
Work on the commentary began on 1 October 1995. Completion is projected for the year 2010.
5. Manner of Publication
Arrangements have been made with B.G. Teubner-Verlag (Stuttgart and Leipzig), which holds the rights to the old Ameis-Hentze and is actively supporting the New Ameis-Hentze, to publish each year at least the commentary on one Book of the Iliad. The publication will proceed two fascicles at a time: the first fascicle will contain text and translation, the second commentary only. We have decided on this format—that is, not for a separate commentary but for a three-part ensemble—because a long-term project of the sort we envisage offers an opportunity for a fundamental retrenchment of the Iliad in all conceivable aspects. It may be foreseen that the commentary will lead to new texts and translations. This interdependence of outcomes can only be accommodated through the interconnected tripartite format of the new edition. Because most of the work will be devoted to the commentary portion and not to the text and translation, we will use the text of the forthcoming Teubner edition of the Iliad by M.L. West. The apparatus criticus, produced in collaboration with M.L. West, will be confined to the most essential points only. The translation will be new. The commentary proper will be streamlined by relegating treatment of preliminary issues (text transmission, Homeric grammar, oral poetry, formularity, etc.) to a Prolegomena volume. This should appear together with volume 1 (we project that this will be updated once and perhaps twice, at the midpoint and at the end of work on the project).
6. Method of Work
The commentary originates in team-work. The three principal team-members take passages of about 100 verses and produce written comments in the line-by-line, word-by-word fashion that has been traditional from antiquity right up to the Cambridge commentary. Their written proposals (including references to earlier commentaries, citations of the most current secondary literature, as well as their own questions and proposed answers) will be thoroughly discussed in joint work-sessions, that is, vetted, corrected, expanded, etc. On 1 October 1996, a year after the beginning of work, the first run-through of the 611 lines of Iliad 1 was complete and the overall conception of the commentary was developed. At this time [November 1996], the team-members are undertaking a second run-through of “their” portions of text and producing a first draft. By this back and forth movement from establishing consensus to further individual research to re-establishing of consensus, we hope to ensure that the text of the commentary will be both as objective as possible and homogeneous in quality and style. 7. Intended Audience The commentary is aimed at scholars in all the disciplines within classical studies and more generally at intellectual historians of all stripes. In terms of level, the intended audience reaches from gymnasium students to university instructors. In order to make good this claim, we are, among other things, conducting a reading course in the Iliad with students and lecturers at the university (within their normal course of study). We hope in this way to become still better acquainted with the range of potential questions—from elementary to highly specialized—and to be able to incorporate them in the commentary in appropriate detail. 8. Presentation In order to accommodate disparate audiences and levels of explication, we envisage a new and, we hope, user-friendly kind of presentation. A division into two parts, commentary and appendix, deemed appropriate for school use in the old Ameis-Hentze would be out of place, given the more “open-ended” audience accessibility we have in mind. On the other hand, the (till now) usual practice of philological commentaries in classics has not been to differentiate various audiences or levels of explication; within a given annotation a mass of undifferentiated information is merely set out. This does not meet the needs of diverse groups of users. In order to make at least a small improvement in this regard, we have designed the following format for our commentary. (1) “Upper Story” (normal print): the most important information on words, verses, passages, etc. for users in all expected audiences, even those without Greek who need explanations of the translation. Greek words, if they must be cited, will be given in Roman characters.
(2) “Ground Level” (smaller print): more exact information for classical scholars in all subdisciplines and especially for Hellenists. This is the main level of the commentary, of a type familiar from standard commentaries in our field.
(3) “Sub-Level” (small print): information specifically for Homer-scholars of all kinds, with full citations of secondary literature where called for and references to specialist discussions. Below these three tiers (which of course may recur page by page), separated by a dividing line, more difficult linguistic forms of Homer diction will be explicated, translation hints will suggested, and so on. This elementary information will be constantly available not only for students in schools and universities but also for those users who may feel that their competence in ancient Greek is no longer perfect. This is where most of the material in the commentary portion of the old Ameis-Hentze will find its place. Thus, visually, the old Ameis-Hentze constitutes the foundation of the whole edifice of the new. We hope by this type of presentation to introduce Homer to younger people—be they in schools, universities, or the public at large—who are not very familiar with him. We hope to equip our colleagues in modern language philology and above all in the humanities who may wish to include the Iliad in their work with an instrument of study that will be accessible to them, easy to use, and at the same time stimulating. We hope to inform colleagues in classical studies generally with a picture of the modern state of scholarship on the Iliad. Finally, we hope here and there to enter into scholarly dialogue with Homerists on both sides of the Atlantic. 9. Summation The New Ameis-Hentze is intended to continue the tradition of German-language Homeric scholarship and to combine it with the distinctive research traditions of other nations. It is intended to be a complement to the Cambridge commentary on the Iliad. It will promote no preconceived special theory of Homer’s work; rather it will aim to follow a line of interpretation representing a modern consensus and to avoid the mere pointless accumulation of bits of information. Although it will not conceal scholarly controversies, rather than adjudicating them at all costs, it will leave them, whenever it makes sense to do so, to the judgment of Homer’s readers. The commentary is not meant to cater to esoteric interests. Its purpose is to bring the Iliad once again more firmly into the consciousness of (especially German-speaking) people with literary interests and to reveal the aesthetic quality and the power of influence of this first work of European literature. We know that this is a lofty goal. We have nonetheless embarked on this project because the present state of knowledge in Iliad research calls for a discriminating codification. In fact, there is a danger that, in its level of complexity, modern Homeric scholarship may soon defy intelligible summary. The opportunity before us should not be allowed to slip by. We would be thankful if the international scholarly community would lend its support to our undertaking.
Introductory paper at the international inaugural symposium “Der Neue Ameis-Hentze. Ein Gesamtkommentar zu Homers Ilias,” University of Basel, 15-16 November 1996. Others contributing papers included: W. Kullmann (Freiburg i. Br.), A. Schmitt (Marburg), E. Levy (Strasbourg), F. Starke (Mainz/Tübingen), R. Kannicht (Tübingen), P. Hoegemann (Tübingen), M. Korfmann (Tübingen/Troy), F. Montanari (Genoa), G. Danek (Vienna), I. de Jong (Amsterdam), F. Letoublon (Grenoble), M. Meier-Brügger (FU Berlin/ThLG-LfgrE Hamburg), R. Wachter (Basel/Fribourg). To all who read papers, colleagues, and guests, I am grateful for their engaged participation; to the Swiss National Fund and to the Philosophical-Historical Faculty at the University of Basel, I am grateful for funding of the symposium. The Latacz paper is forthcoming, in German, in WJA [Würzburger Jahrbücher für die Altertumswissenschaft] 21 (1996/97) 1 ff.; and, in Italian translation, in Franco Montanari (ed.), Dall’aedo al poema (Florence: La nuova Italia, 1998).
1. VS 21 B DK:
Some may object to the omission here of Walter Leaf’s commentary on the Iliad, but, as Leaf himself expressly stated in the preface to the 1886 edition and to the second edition of 1900/1902, the core of his book is derived from Ameis-Hentze. In the second edition, he integrated material chiefly from Monro’s Homeric Grammar, Cauer’s Grundfragen, Erhardt’s Entstehung der Homerischen Gedichte, Schulze’s Quaestiones epicae, and van Leeuwen’s Enchiridium dictionis epicae. It is evident from a comparison of Leaf with Ameis-Hentze that Leaf’s own original contribution, while certainly not negligible, is in fact relatively modest. Moreover, the material added by Leaf was taken over by Cauer in editions seven (Books 1-3, 1913), six (Books 7-12, 1921/1922), and five (Books 19-24, 1922) of Ameis-Hentze. Cauer also assimilated material from Leaf’s Troy: A Study in Homeric Geography (London 1912)—see the Foreword to Cauer’s seventh edition of Books 1-3 (Leipzig/Berlin 1913), iv. Thus, we come back to the three epochal commentaries I have named. 7. J. Latacz, “Einfuehrung,” in Homer. Tradition und Neuerung [ HTN ], Wege der Forschung, vol. 463 (Darmstadt 1979), 3. 8. J. Latacz, HTN 1-23; id., “Tradition und Neuerung in der Homerforschung. Zur Geschichte der Oral poetry-Theorie,” in HTN 25-44; id., “Spezialbibliographie zur Oral poetry-Theorie in der Homerforschung,” in HTN 573-618. 9. K.F. Ameis, “Vier Grundsätze zur homerischen Interpretation,”JKPh 2 (1856) 630. 10. E. Visser, Homerische Versifikationstechnik. Versuch einer Rekonstruktion (Frankfurt/Berne/New York 1987); cf. M. Peters, “IC 32b,”Die Sprache 32 (1987) 533, G 694: “that Visser has in principle carried the day against Parry is a result of purely linguistic evidence.” See also Visser, “Formulae or Single Words? Towards a New Theory on Homeric Verse-Making,”WJA 14 (1988) 21-37. For a summary of Visser’s further development of Parry’s theory, see J. Latacz, “Neuere Erkenntnisse zur epischen Versifikationstechnik,”SIFC 10 (1992) 807-825, rpt. in Erschliessung der Antike (Stuttgart/Leipzig 1994), 235-255. 11. Admittedly, in the last revision of the commentary for which he had responsibility, on Books 1-12, 19-24 (1913, 1921-1922), Paul Cauer gave more space than either of his predecessors to Analytical lines of thought, but he too proceeded from essentially oralist assumptions: “throughout pains are taken to accustom students to the idea that what they see in print before them is not to be looked at as a text originally intended for reading, but as a basically unnatural transcription of a free and fluid oral narration,” Foreword to Books 1-3 (Leipzig/Berlin 1913), p. iv; cf. p. vi: “indispensable to it [scil., the epic style] is the element of the conventional, the traditional, and the stereotypical.”12.”The time allotted to Greek and Latin [scil., in gymnasium instruction during the nineteenth century] amounted to about half, or a little less, of the whole curriculum,” M. Landfester, Humanismus und Gesellschaft im 19. Jahrhundert. Untersuchungen zur politischen und gesellschaftlichen Bedeutung der humanistischen Bildung in Deutschland (Darmstadt 1988), 45. The calculation of the average number of hours is based on information in H. Christ and H.G. Rang (edd.), Fremdsprachenunterricht unter staatlicher Verwaltung, 1700-1945. Eine Dokumentation amtlicher Richtlinien und Verordnungen, vol. 7 (Tübingen 1985). 13. B. v. Reibnitz, Ein Kommentar zu Friedrich Nietzsche, “Die Geburt der Tragoedie aus dem Geiste der Musik” (Stuttgart/Weimar 1992), appendix I (“Arbeiten aus der Schulzeit”), 343 (cf. the description and interpretation on pp. 12 f.); the valedictory entitled “De Theognide Megarensi” has been newly edited with an introduction and commentary by A. Negri, Friedrich Nietzsche, Teognide di Megara, Biblioteca Universale Laterza 671 (Rome/Bari 1985). On Wilamowitz’s valedictory, “Trauerspiele” (120 pp.), see J. Wohlleben, “Der Abiturient als Kritiker,” in W.M. Calder, H. Flashar, and T. Lindken (edd.), Wilamowitz nach 50 Jahren (Darmstadt 1985), 3-30. 14. E.g., Irene de Jong still cites two of Hentze’s publications from the years 1903 and 1904 in her recent innovative narratological study of Homeric artistry: Narrators and Focalizers: The Presentation of the Story in the Iliad (Amsterdam 1987). 15. Paul Cauer (1854-1921), as the final responsible editor of the old Ameis-Hentze, deserves our particular attention. After his graduation at Schulpforta in 1872, he had studied philology (as well as other branches of classical studies, and also mathematics) at Leipzig (with Curtius and Ritschl), Strassburg, and Berlin (with Mommsen, among others). After 1875, he was a gymnasium teacher in Berlin and Kiel, then director of the gymnasium in Flensburg and in Düsseldorf. Finally, from 1905 on, he was provincial supervisor of schools in Muenster. In addition, he had habilitated in Classical Philology at the University of Kiel (1890) and worked from 1905 on as honorary professor at the University of Muenster. Beginning in 1912, he was co-editor of Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum. See Neue deutsche Biographie, vol. 3 (Berlin 1957), and C. Hoelk, “Paul Cauer zum Gedaechtnis,”HG 33 (1922) 2-7. 16. E. Laemmert, Bauformen des Erzählens (Stuttgart 1955; 8th ed. 1991), 95-99, and passim. 17. E.g., apropos of Il. 2.272/274: “