BMCR 2001.05.08

Plutarchus: Vitae Parallelae, vol. I, fasc. 1. Editionem quintam curavit Hans Gärtner

, , , Vitae parallelae. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana. München/Leipzig: K.G. Saur, 2000-. volumes ; 21 cm.. ISBN 3598716729 DM 268.00.

After nearly two centuries of publishing Greek and Roman texts (1811-1999), since late 1999 the famous Teubner Verlag of Leipzig and Stuttgart has been taken over by the Saur Verlag of Munich. Hence the fifth critical edition of the first fascicle of the first volume (I.1) of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives that had been scheduled to appear in the Bibliotheca Teubneriana in 1999, was finally published in this series a year later by Saur.1

As compared to the other five fascicles in the Teubner edition of the Lives, fascicle I.1 particularly reflects a century of modern Plutarchean scholarship. Thus, since the aim of the present review is to discuss the principles according to which the fifth edition of fascicle I.1 was produced, a brief outline of the history of this fascicle that includes five pairs of Lives (namely, Theseus-Romulus, Solon-Publicola, Themistocles-Camillus, Aristides-Cato Maior, Cimon-Lucullus) seems to be called for.

In the same year in which the First World War broke out (1914), both the first and the second fascicles of the first volume of the Lives appeared in the Bibliotheca Teubneriana. The publication of the two fascicles was the outcome of the first modern study of all the Greek manuscripts of the Lives that were available to two classical scholars, Claes Lindskog (1870-1954) and Konrat Ziegler (1884-1974). Within a few years, contemporary scholars realized that the new edition by far surpassed the first critical edition of the Lives that was based by Carl Sintenis on several, partly minor codices and was published about seven decades earlier (1839-1846).

Moreover, unlike Sintenis’ edition, the two new fascicles of the first volume restored the traditional order of the extant twenty-three pairs of Lives that had been continuously disregarded since the second printing of the Greek text in the sixteenth century (namely, in the Aldina of 1519). Hence that year (1914) also marks a turning point2 in modern Plutarchean studies.

For various reasons3 a second and revised edition of fascicle I.1 became possible only more than four decades later (1957). During those forty-three years there appeared numerous new studies of the Lives that can be found in this fascicle. These works were in part unavailable to Ziegler, while others may have escaped his notice.4 Since Ziegler himself was aware of some of the shortcomings of his edition of 1957, two years later (1959), at the age of seventy-five, he deemed it necessary to publish a third edition of this fascicle.5 A decade passed (1969) and recent studies on the Lives, placed in fascicle I.1, induced the great scholar, at the age of eighty-five, to publish a fourth edition of the same fascicle.6 As reported on p. 1 of Gärtner’s Addenda et Corrigenda, Ziegler’s fourth edition of 1969 serves as the basis for the fifth edition that appeared last year (2000). The fourth edition in its entirety was reprinted as part of the new edition.

Now, compared to the other five fascicles in the Teubner edition of the Lives, fascicle I.1 has been published four times, while the second fascicle of the same volume was edited just three times, and the other four fascicles of volumes two and three respectively appeared merely twice. Why did this fascicle (I.1) seem worthy of receiving so much scholarly attention ?

The answer to this question appears to be that only for the first volume of the Lives are there two lines of transmission, a better textual tradition versus an inferior one. This double transmission may account for the various studies of the five pairs of Lives, allocated to fascicle I.1. These works began to appear in 1870, and their number gradually grew between 1914 and 1969. This may explain why Gärtner’s Addenda and Corrigenda for fascicle I.1 required eighty-six pages to cover the years 1969 to 2000, as well as former years,7 whereas his Addenda to fascicle I.2 were assigned twenty pages (pp. 375-394). Similarly, Gärtner’s Addenda were given six pages (pp. 303-308) in fascicle II.1, and fifteen pages (pp. 338-352) in fascicle II.2.

Since the study of a central ancient text like Plutarch’s Parallel Lives never ends, the need to update and revise the critical edition of such a text imposes a heavy and permanent burden on editors and publishers alike. As regards fascicle I.1, however, the temporary solution that has been chosen for this fascicle seems to have made the work of any student of the Greek text of these five pairs of Lives even more difficult.8

As already noted by Mayer in BMCR 95.12.6, from the late fifties (1957) till the early eighties (1983) a second critical edition of the Lives, edited by Robert Flacelière, was published in the Budé series.9 Also, since the late seventies (1977), a third critical edition of the Lives, edited by Mario Manfredini, has been published by the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla in Milan, and so far has covered a third of the corpus of the Lives. Third, in the subsequent three decades (1969-2000), as well as in former years, new and significant studies of the Lives have been continuously published. Hence, as may be inferred from Gärtner’s Addenda et Corrigenda, the study of the Greek text of the five pairs of Lives that belong to fascicle I.1, as well as of the other Lives that are assigned to the remaining fascicles, requires that due account be taken of this recent material of various kinds.

Consequently, on the one hand it became evident that Ziegler’s critical edition of the Lives needed updating,10 not to mention revision. Nevertheless, on the other hand it seems that the Editio correctior that began to appear in 1993 wished as far as possible to preserve Ziegler’s text as left by this great editor. Accordingly, at the end of each fascicle of Gärtner’s Editio correctior were placed several pages of Addenda. The interim solution chosen earlier for the fascicles of the Editio correctior was followed in the case of the fifth edition of fascicle I.1, though on a much-larger scale of eighty-six pages. Nonetheless, as clearly shown by Mayer in his detailed review of 1995, this kind of solution so far seems to have failed to facilitate the study of the Lives. Thus, Mayer persuasively argued, despite the great efforts of Gärtner who for years industriously collected various materials from different sources, those lists of Addenda in their present form can yield very little assistance to the classical scholar at the dawn of the third millenium.11 As is well known, an adequate and updated critical apparatus that lies in front of the reader is indispensable for any work on an ancient text. Hence one cannot be expected to be permanently turning pages in order to find out, whether any significant information as regards the section under consideration has been included in the Addenda or not. Besides, as observed by Mayer, very likely due to technical shortcomings, quite a number of those Addenda too often remain unclear to the modern reader who can barely use such material.

Mayer’s criticism that at the time (1995) was aimed at no more than twenty pages of Addenda (that were included in fascicle II.2) appears all the more valid as regards the eighty-six pages of the Addenda et Corrigenda that were separately published. Thus it seems that the wealth of material12 that is stored in those pages can serve the scholarly cause, provided that it be incorporated into Ziegler’s critical apparatus. In other words, it is about time to think of a real fifth edition of fascicle I.1, in which Ziegler’s outstanding Plutarchean scholarship13 of nearly seven decades (1907-1974) will be fully integrated with those of his contemporaries and successors.


1. Cf. Teubner’s Altertumswissenschaft 1999/2000, p. 26 with Altertumswissenschaft 2000/2001 im K.G. Saur Verlag, p. 74.

2. The beginning of modern Plutarchean scholarship should be ascribed to the appearance of Ziegler’s Überlieferungsgeschichte der vergleichenden Lebensbeschreibungen Plutarchs in the year 1907 at the Teubner Press in Leipzig. About seven decades later (1974), his work was reprinted in Aalen.

3. Such reasons include, in brief: the First World War, in which Ziegler served as a soldier; the turbulent years of the Republic of Weimar (1919-1933); the Reign of Terror of the Third Reich (1933-1945), during which Ziegler was seriously persecuted, and his whole library destroyed; and the difficult Post-War years (1945-1957) in Western Germany, while Ziegler was struggling in vain to find a decent living. Though partly recorded by Lamberton (see below, note 13), these extremely hard personal circumstances have been excluded both from Gärtner’s Ad editionem quintam, p. XXI of fascicle I.1; and from Kenneth Mayer’s review of fascicles I.2 and II.2 in BMCR 95.12.6, esp. p. 1.

4. To name just one example: see Gärtner’s Addenda et Corrigenda, p.1, to p. IX of Ziegler’s Praefatio to fascicle I.1. Nonetheless, it should be noted that Ziegler had been aware that the edition of 1914 by Lindskog and himself already needed revision: see his Praefatio to the edition of 1957, pp. XI-XIII. An enlarged version of that Praefatio appeared two years later (1959): see below, in note 5.

5. See Ziegler’s Praefatio to his edition of 1959, p. V. Compared to all other Praefationes that Ziegler wrote, this Praefatio of 1959 is the longest (pp. V-XX) and most detailed. Apparently for this reason, the same Praefatio was reprinted ten years later (1969) and again in the fifth edition of 2000.

6. See Ziegler’s short Praefatio to the fourth edition of 1969, ibid, p. XX.

7. Such as the subsequent years after 1957, see Gärtner’s Addenda et Corrigenda, p. 1, to Ziegler’s Praefatio of 1959, p. V, note 1. In addition, cf. above, note 4.

8. Hence, in the case of fascicle I.1, the location of the Addenda et Corrigenda in a companion-booklet that was probably meant to make the search for the new material easier for the student, can hardly be of help, due to the manner in which those Addenda et Corrigenda have been introduced. Moreover, such a tiny booklet that is separated from the main text is likely to be easily lost in public libraries.

9. See Mayer, p. 1 (already referred to above, in note 3).

10. See Gärtner’s ad editionem quintam (cf. ibid for references).

11. Cf. Mayer, ibid: “As it stands, G[ärtner]’s edition is inconvenient bordering on unusable”.

12. For reasons of space, as well as due to other technical limitations, the nature of those various materials cannot be discussed at this point. Hence I would like to request the reader to kindly refer to Mayer’s review of 1995, pp. 1- 6.

13. For a recent appreciation of Ziegler’s considerable contribution to modern Plutarchean studies see in BMCR 95.12.5 Robert Lamberton’s review of Plutarchi Vitae Selectae: Demosthenes et Cicero, Alexander et Caesar.