BMCR 1998.10.18

A Bibliographical Guide to Classical Studies. Vol. 1: General, History of Literature, Literature: Accius-Aristophanes; Vol. 2: Literature: Aristotle-Fulgentius


These are the first two of what will ultimately be nine volumes covering classical (excluding Biblical and Christian) studies down to about A.D. 600. The purpose of the work, as explained by the author in his Introduction is “to provide detailed coverage of monographic publications in classical studies during the period 1873-1980. It is, however, in no sense exhaustive and is intended rather, by means of a different approach, to supplement the established sources of reference” (from Englemann, that is, through L’Année Philologique). The supplementation consists mainly in gathering the material into a single work, arranging it in chronological order of publication within each category, detailing contents in many cases, and filling the gap left by the non-publication of Lambrino’s second volume for the period 1896-1914. All of these features, in addition to the accurate listing of full titles and publication details, should be recognized as having substantial value, even if a review must devote more space to telling users what they should not expect to find and what the limits of the work’s usefulness are. Literature is the main concern of these two volumes (and its reviewers here are concerned mainly with Greek and Latin literature). Later volumes structured largely by subject may have strengths or weaknesses different from these which (after some initial general sections) are structured by author.

Volume 1 opens with sections on classical studies in general (Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias, Handbooks and Manuals, Surveys, Bibliographies) and classical literature in general (General, Poetry, Drama and Theatre History, Prose), after which the alphabetic listing by authors begins and goes on through Volumes 2, 3 and 4. The remaining volumes will include language, documents and textual sciences (5), history, geography etc. (6), archaeology, art, architecture, mythology, religion, philosophy and political theory (7), the sciences, classical tradition and scholarship, biography and miscellanea (8), periodicals and an Index (9).

In general only monographs are included, except for the very useful addition of surveys and bibliographies (including some from before 1873) from both specialised periodicals (Bursian, Lustrum etc.) and less specialised ones — though here one may notice gaps and inconsistencies: e.g., H. van Looy’s survey of recent work on Euripides in L’Antiquité Classique 39 [1970] 528-62 is listed, but not the same author’s comprehensive survey in the same journal of work on the fragments of Euripides, AC 32 (1963) 162-99 (now continued in AC 60 [1991] 295-311 and 61 [1992] 280-95). Published dissertations and lectures are included selectively (dissertations “not usually in the case of the major classical authors”), and derivative school editions are excluded. W. admits to a limited inclusion of “material in certain languages (principally Hebrew, Japanese and Russian)”.

We have not checked at all thoroughly for completeness but in passing have noticed occasional, perhaps inevitable, omissions. For example A. Martínez Díez, Eurípides, Erecteo (Granada, 1976) and V. Steffen, De Graecorum Fabulis Satyricis (Wroclaw etc., 1979) are missing, maybe because they were never listed in L’Année Philologique, while H. Bardon’s Stuttgart Teubner edition of Catullus (1973) is missing even though it was. W. does not explain how far he has gone in trying to supplement “the established sources of reference” so as to avoid omissions of the first kind, nor whether there is some reason for omissions of the second kind. One general omission seems to be monolingual translations, even scholarly ones such as A. Lesky’s Aristainetos: Erotische Briefe (Zurich, 1951) with its valuable introduction and notes (which would have increased W.’s section for Aristainetos from one item to two). On the other hand, limited bilingual translations such as Tusculum and the older Loeb editions, or the 1969 Catullus editions of Whigham and Michie, are included.

All entries are numbered. Greek authors are alphabetized by strict transliteration (so ‘Aristophanes’ precedes ‘Arkhilokhos’). Listings within each section are chronological by date of first publication, with subsequent editions and reprints also (usually) noted, works from the same year being given in alphabetical order of author or title. This is good for tracking the progress of scholarship, and one can easily notice little gems such as the first cited dictionary of classical antiquities published in France in 1698. On the other hand, finding a work without knowing the date of publication can be difficult, at least in the larger listings, and the dates are not prominently displayed.

Within the main categories noted above, W. cross-sections the material in two ways. First, topics are split wherever possible into ‘General’ (i.e. Greek and Latin/Roman together), ‘Greek’, and ‘Latin/Roman’ (signalled rather too curtly in the section-headings by A, B, and C). Along with this there is a classification by types of publication: 1. Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias, 2. Handbooks and Manuals, 3. Surveys, 4. Bibliographies, 5. Editions, 6:1. Commentaries and Scholia, 6:2. Dictionaries (i.e. lexica etc.) and Indices, and 7. Studies. The individual works of an author may have their own subsections, all similarly subdivided. The degree of fragmentation here is excessive, and an insufficiently detailed Table of Contents and insufficiently precise page-headings fail to provide much-needed signposting. It is all too easy to get lost in the sections for ‘Literature: General’ (for example) or ‘Aristotle’ or ‘Cicero’; both searching and browsing can become less than pleasurable. The section on ‘Aiskhylos’ has forty subsections, of which fourteen contain one item and another fourteen have two to five items.

W.’s A/B/C classification, coupled with the blunt differentiation of ‘prose’ and ‘verse’, has some odd effects. ‘Satire’ is the only literary genre treated separately, at the end of ‘Literature: General: Latin’ (presumably because it comprises both prose and verse). Historiography, biography, rhetoric, epic, pastoral, the novel, the fable, and medical writings are all lumped into the general categories. A work such as Schnur’s Tusculum edition Fabeln der Antike, griechische und lateinisch (Munich, 1978) — mostly prose but some verse, both Greek and Latin — appears in ‘Literature: General: Editions’ along with only two other completely unrelated works; Leitner’s Bibliography to the Ancient Medical Authors (Bern, 1973) is the only item in ‘Literature: Prose: General: Bibliographies’; and so on. On the other hand, anonymous works or collections have their own subsections in the large general sections of Volume 1. The Corpus Paroemiographorum and Orphika are found under ‘Literature: General: Greek’, Sibylline texts under ‘Literature: Poetry: Greek’, Aetna, Ilias Latina, and Priapea under ‘Literature: Poetry: Latin’, Alexander-Romances and Hermes Trismegistos under ‘Literature: Prose: General’, the Corpus Hippocraticum under ‘Literature: Prose: Greek’, and so on. The table of contents does not even mention these subsections. Most people, attuned to L’Année Philologique, will look for them amongst the alphabetic listings by authors.

W.’s almost universal policy is to cite a work once only. (M. Grant’s Ancient Rhetorical Theories of the Laughable [Madison, 1924] is an exception, under both ‘Literature: General’ and ‘Literature: Prose: General’.) For works on three or more writers the relevant General category “is generally preferred” (1, xiv), although Benner and Fobes’ 1949 Loeb Letters of Alciphron, Aelian and Philostratus is listed under ‘Alkiphron’. Works on two writers, or on two works of the same writer if these are classified separately, appear under the name of the first: thus Solmsen’s Hesiod and Aeschylus (Ithaca, 1949) will appear only under ‘Hesiod’, and C. Gülke’s Mythos und Zeitgeschichte bei Aischylos (Meisenheim, 1969) which discusses Eumenides and Supplices appears under ‘Aiskhylos: Eumenides‘ (but G. Grossman’s Promethie und Orestie [Heidelberg, 1970] is unexpectedly under ‘Aiskhylos: Oresteia‘). Similar problems arise in the allocation of works either to a literary category somewhere in Volumes 1-4 or to a subject-category in a later volume. The major monographs on Marcus Porcius Cato and Julius Caesar which are not found in the sections for Cato and Caesar in Volume 2 will perhaps appear in Volume 6 under Biography.

There are also no cross-references between the sections, so users will have to refer constantly to the Index in Volume 9 if they have any hopes of making a complete search; and they will have to hope that the Index is extremely thorough. Even then, only an experienced user is going to be able to navigate with confidence around the nine volumes with their thousands of poorly marked subsections.

One of the strengths of this Guide lies in the entries devoted to particular authors about whom little has been written in monograph form. The sections on ‘Andokides’ and ‘Antiphon’, ‘Arkhilokhos’, ‘Bakkhylides’ or ‘Calpurnius Siculus’, for instance, are very accessible and quite informative (although additional items will always have to be sought through the Index and/or in at least one higher-order section). Another strength is the full listings of contents in many cases, especially for inaccessible works or complex ones such as the 51 volumes of Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca or the 16 volumes of Grammatici Graeci. But with so many electronic databases of various kinds now coming onto the market (like the Database of Classical Bibliography, reviewed in BMCR 7.2), this large and expensive collection will seem a throwback to an earlier age (as the author himself discreetly recognizes in his Preface while recording that the work originated as a fellowship thesis submitted in 1984). The question arises “Who now needs to buy it?” It has been created by a librarian, and in many ways seems designed to guide librarians. It is thus likely to find a place on the shelves of the Reference section in research libraries. Once it is there, users of L’Année Philologique etc. will come to value it as an index-cum-supplement, and users of the National Union Catalogue, which ends in 1958, can treat it as a twenty-two year update of that gargantuan resource (minus the NUC‘s indications of which libraries are likely to have the books). Graduate students will find it a good starting-point for dissertation research. Those training graduate students would do well to acquaint them with it, and not to overlook the wonderful array of Dictionaries, Encyclopaedias, Handbooks, Manuals, Surveys and Bibliographies to be found under ‘General’ and Literature: General’ in Volume 1 (pages 1-43, 57-61, 80-84; presumably the same will be provided for each of the subject-areas covered in Volumes 5-8). In all, this is a resource which has its uses, though it will have to be used with patience and circumspection.