BMCR 2001.05.10

Lukian. Hermotimos, oder, Lohnt es sich, Philosophie zu studieren?

, , Hermotimos, oder, Lohnt es sich, Philosophie zu studieren?. Texte zur Forschung ; Bd. 74. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2000. 226 pages ; 22 cm.. ISBN 3534149769 DM 78.00.

The Hermotimus is Lucian’s longest piece of writing, surpassing even the two books of the True Tales, and at the same time his most successful effort to recreate the style and atmosphere of a Platonic dialogue, filled with a new—and for Lucian uncharacteristically serious—content, namely a sustained attack on “dogmatic” philosophical schools (the “haireseis” of its subtitle) and, inversely, a ringing endorsement of the tenets of Pyrrhonian Scepticism. Despite all this, there have been few efforts to make this work accessible to modern audiences,1 and therefore Peter von Möllendorff (hereafter M.) deserves credit for having perceived this deficiency and trying to remedy it, at least for a German-speaking public. His new text and translation of the Hermotimus, accompanied by an introduction, notes and concluding essays, succeed to a degree in giving the reader what he needs. The following pages will make clear why I nevertheless regard his book as not totally satisfactory in a number of respects.

The introduction falls mainly into two sections: p. 1-10 deal with “Lukian in seiner Zeit”, starting with three-quarters of a page on Lucian’s literary afterlife—too little space, in fact, to deal adequately with this subject.2 The next two and a half pages are devoted to Lucian’s life and writings; again that space only suffices to give the reader a very impressionistic view of Lucian’s manifold literary activities (not a word here on the decidedly important—though notoriously hard to define—influence of Menippus on Lucian’s best-known works). Then a few pages about the sociocultural background of Lucian’s time, the place of rhetoric and philosophy in it, and Lucian’s own position with regard to these cultural features (p. 4-9). M. is certainly right to declare Lucian a sort of “outsider”, though it may be a bit rash to take the complete silence of Philostratus about him as proof that Lucian was either unsuccessful or early gave up on a career as sophist (p. 7). A closer look at his many works shows that he never really abandoned rhetoric and even in advanced age addressed audiences as a public speaker, as his prolaliai Hercules and Bacchus show; what made him singular among his contemporaries was his willingness to add other—at first sight—”non-rhetorical” means of literary expression (taken from Platonic dialogue, from Old and New Comedy, from Menippean satire) to his rhetorical craft. In this respect M. rightly emphasizes Lucian’s willingness to experiment with new combinations of traditional genres. The second part of the introduction is a useful guide to the basic tenets of those philosophical schools which play important parts in Hermotimus: Socrates and the Socratics (including Plato, of course), Stoics and Pyrrhonian Sceptics.

The longest part of the book (p. 22-139) comprises the text and translation of the dialogue. In his constitution of the text M. reveals himself, in most cases, at least, as a rather conservative critic who usually favors the reading of the manuscripts (even of more recent ones which may well be conjectural) over conjectures made by scholars in recent centuries.3 Not condoning over-quick tampering is certainly laudable, but in a number of places the transmitted readings just won’t do; a glaring case is the end of ch. 17 (p. 42, line 24f.): here, M. follows the text of Jacobitz and reads … ἐποιεῖτο τὴν αἵρεσιν τῶν κρειττόνων ἀξιῶν. οὐ γὰρ ἂν πιστεύσαιμί σοι τοιαῦτα λέγοντι, but τῶν κρειττόνων ἀξιῶν does not yield any plausible sense, as M.’s own very vague translation shows, in which ἀξιῶν is left out. I still think4 that the best solution is to follow Bekker, who introduces two minimal changes into the text of the old manuscripts and reads: … ἐποιεῖτο τὴν αἱρεσιν τῶν κρειττόνων. A)CION—OU) GA/R;—πιστεῦσαί σοι τοιαῦτα λέγοντι (“…he made the choice of what was superior. It’s very proper—isn’t it?—to believe you when you tell things like that…”; by the way, τὴν αἵρεσιν τῶν κρειττόνων appears again as a fixed phrase in Herm. 56). A similar case is Herm. 32 (p. 62,26): here M. prints the transmitted παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς and comments in his apparatus criticus: ” πολλοῖς codd., Macleod certe recte; contra Nesselrath (1990) 507: ἄλλοις Gesner”, implying that I pigheadedly went in a totally wrong direction. Well, if I did, I had at least a number of illustrious predecessors, not only Gesner, but Vorstius and then Dindorf, Bekker and Fritzsche; they all saw that in this place the contrast is not between the Stoics and “the great mass / the greatest number of people” ( οἱ πολλοί),5 but between the Stoics and “the other” ( οἱ ἄλλοι) philosophical schools; since ch. 29 the antagonism between the Stoics and all the other schools dominates the discussion, and οἱ πολλοί do not figure in it at all. In Herm. 75 (p. 126, line 6) one should read—with Fritzsche and Sommerbrodt— πειρωμένοις instead of – νους; in Herm. 76 (p. 126,22f.), deleting the words ἐς Στωικῶν τὸ ἄκρον (or … τῷ ἄκρῳ)—proposed already by Urban in 1836 and taken up by Jacobitz in his editio minor—still seems to me the neatest solution.6 In other places, M.’s selection of transmitted variants is open to question: In Herm. 12 (p. 36,18) L’s ἦ τί is distinctly inferior to G’s ἢ τί (printed by Macleod).

The apparatus criticus is rather inconvenient to use: it is not below the text, but follows on separate pages (142-147) after text and translation. Because of what seems to have been a last-minute change of pagination almost every page reference is too high by two;7 and the references to the lines on a page often drive the reader to laborious counting, as no line numbering is provided in the text. Moreover, the apparatus is not free from contradictions: normally the first indication refers to what is printed in the text, but in “38[=36],13” the word given in the text takes second place, while a variant is cited first (similar instances are: “40[=38],28”; “58[=56],4; “58[=56],4”; “66[=64],30”; “68[=66],27”; “86[=84],17”; “106[=104],1”; “112[=110],26”). Sometimes the apparatus criticus is downright misleading: on p. 144, the entry “56[=54],8″ states ” ἑκάστης Jensius: ἕκαστος codd. [cf. Nesselrath (1990) 506]”, thus suggesting that I defended the transmitted reading ἕκαστος and rejected Jensius’ conjecture; what I really did was to point out that in this sentence (Herm. 26) there appear to be double versions of some parts of the sentence (as Fritzsche and Schwidop had already stated) and that one might rather easily do without one of these doublets (e.g. ἀνὴρἑκάστης).

Some other shortcomings in the apparatus: regarding p. 58,9 (Herm. 28), M. should have quoted Guyet’s conjecture τῶν πολλῶν [τι] rather than Fritzsche’s less convincing [E(ν] τῶν πολλῶν; in p. 82,29 (Herm. 45), M. introduces an ἄν (Jacobitz’s conjecture) into the text to construct a potential optative, while in p. 76,12 (Herm. 39) he does not admit the same ἄν conjectured by the same Jacobitz into a similar sentence. In p. 112,19ff. (Herm. 67) M. seems to have misunderstood Macleod’s apparatus: Macleod does not state that the manuscripts E and L attribute the words ἐγὼδεόμενα to Lycinus (how could they do this seeing that the immediately preceding sentence is spoken by him?), but that they simply indicate a change of speaker before ἐγὼ. In p. 124,17 (Herm. 74) M.s conjecture λοιπά (instead of τοιαῦτα) belongs in fact to Struve, but was assigned by Mcleod to the wrong line-number.8

The translation aims at giving a lively tone to the conversation between the ponderous and plodding Hermotimos and the sharp-witted Lykinos, and in a number of places it produces quite memorable phrases.9 On the other hand, M.’s efforts at being colloquial do not strike me as being particularly appropriate; after all, the Hermotimus is written in an idiom, Attic, presumably of the fourth century BC, which for its time was highly artificial and rather different from what Greek speakers used in their daily conversation.10 Moreover, in a number of places the translation could have done more justice to the original;11 and some outright and quite glaring mistakes can be found as well: In Herm. 8, χρησόμενοι τοῖς κάτω ἃ καταλελοίπασιν does not mean “um denen hier unten zu verkünden [that would be χρήσοντες, not – όμενοι ], was ihnen entgeht [ καταλείπω cannot mean that, either]” (p. 31), but “to make use of what they have left down here below” (Kilburn). In the same chapter, τὰ ὑπὸ τῶν σοφῶν γιγνόμενα is not “die Worte der Weisen”, but concerns their behavior (Lykinos is in fact about to relate the brawl that Hermotimos’ teacher got involved in just the evening before). In Herm. 10, τούςἄλλουςοὐδὲν τοιοῦτό πω διατέθεικεν does not mean “Mit den anderen…hat es noch nie ein solches Problem gegeben” (p. 33), but “my master has never yet treated any of the others…like that” (Kilburn). In Herm. 15, τίνι ταῦτ’ ἐτεκμαίρου does not mean “Auf wessen Auskunft hast du dich…verlassen” (p. 39), but “By which clue did you conclude that?” In the phrase εἰκασμῷ φὴς καὶ πλήθει κρῖναι (Herm. 16), the important word εἰκασμῷ is left untranslated. In Herm. 18, “die Toga in erstklassigem Faltenwurf” (p. 43, a rendering of ἀναβεβλημένους εὐσταλῶς) is an inappropriate “Romanism” (twice repeated on p. 45); five lines below, ἅπαντες is left untranslated. Still in the same chapter, στάθμην ἀκριβῆ is not a “Faustregel” (“rule of thumb”, p. 45), but something much more accurate (Kilburn: “strict rule and law”). In Herm. 19, M. wrongly renders what is meant as a concession on Lykinos’ part ( πλὴν εἰ δοκεῖ, οἱ μὲν ἔξω ἡμῖν φιλοσοφίας μενέτωσαν οἱ τυφλοί, “However, if you prefer, let the blind keep clear of philosophy” Kilburn) as if it were an opinion ascribed to Hermotimos (“Es sei denn, du wärest etwa der Ansicht, die Blinden sollten ihre Finger von der Philosophie lassen…”, p. 45). In Herm. 20, τῆς γνώμης τῶν ἄνδρων ἔρωτι is certainly not “aus Rücksicht auf die Ansichten der Leute” (p. 47) but “love of the mind of these men” (Kilburn). In Herm. 21, M. renders περιόψει με παραπολόμενον ἐν τῷ πολλῷ συρφετῷ, an expression which has an exact parallel in Herm. 1 ( ἐν τῷ πολλῷ συρφετῷ παραπολόμενον), rather differently in both places: In Herm. 1, παραπολόμενον is not translated at all, in 21 with “herumkrebsen” (something like “tottering about without making any progress”); but in both places it means something quite different (Kilburn translates “to perish miserably in the vulgar rabble” in 1 and “will you leave me rotting among the vulgar rabble?” in 21). Nor is περιόψει rendered correctly with “auf mich herabschauen” (p. 49; cp. OU) περιεῖδον in Herm. 72, here rightly translated with “konnte ich nicht mit ansehen” [p. 121]). —In Herm. 23, M. omits ἐπιλαμβανομένης after πατρίδος (“if our native country…lays claim to us”, Kilburn), a few lines later ἐκεῖσε after ἐσσύμενον, in Herm. 26 καὶ E(CH=S ἅπαντες (p. 54,15,f.) and ἕκαστοι (p. 54,19), in Herm. 33 the whole clause εἰ διεξῆλθενδιὰ τῶν φρυγάνων (p. 64,30f.), eight (and eleven) lines later προθέμενοι (p. 66,5 and 66,8), in Herm. 38 οἱ δὲ χρυσοῦ (p. 72,29), in Herm. 39 οἶμαι (p. 74,24). In Herm. 28, M. renders καρηβαροῦντα ὑπὸ τοῦ σάλου with “mit Kopfweh von all dem Salz” (p. 59); but the headache mentioned here is not induced by “salt” (something which σάλος never means), but by the constant swaying ( σαλεύειν) of the boat in the waves. In Herm. 30, M. gets ἐρήμην ἡμῶν καταδιαιτᾶν totally wrong by translating “ganz ohne uns leben”, while it really means “to condemn us without having listened to us” (“give a judgment in default against us”, Kilburn). In Herm. 49, M. translates εἰ μέλοιμεν εὖαἱρήσεσθαι with “bis wir in der Lage sind, eine gute Wahl zu treffen” (p. 89); the correct rendering would be “if we are going first to make a good choice” (Kilburn). In Herm. 51, ὥσπερ εἰ ἀνδριάντος ἐρῶν is not “als ob du…in eine Statue verliebt wärest und glaubtest…, sie sei dein” (p. 91/93), but “Suppose you had happened to be in love with a statue and … hoped to win it” (Kilburn). In Herm. 56, it is mistaken to translate καὶ ἀσώματα εἶναι with “alles sei immateriell” (p. 97), because καὶ is ignored and “alles” is not in the text (“that immaterial things also exist”, Kilburn); the philosophers to whom the text alludes rather believe that there are “also” immaterial entities. Three lines below, οὑτωσὶἀκούσαντας ἀποφήνασθαι ῤᾴδιον does not mean “ihnen bei solchen Darlegungen zuzuhören ist leicht”, but rather “having heard those things in that way it is easy to make statements”. In Herm. 61, ἑτεροῖον is not “der Rest” (p. 105) but “something varied” (cp. Kilburn’s rendering: “there is variation in it”). περιέρχῃ me (Herm. 63) is not “du hintergehst mich” (p. 107), but “you are trying to encircle me” (Kilburn: “you hedge me round”); at the end of the same chapter ἐκεῖνον παρείς is not “wenn du ihm zuhörst” (p. 107), but just the opposite: “you will ignore that” (Kilburn). In Herm. 65, M.—confusing βάρος with βάθος —translates βάρους τινὸς αἰσθόμενοι (“sensing a certain weight”, i.e. a weight tugging down the fishing-net; Kilburn: “like fishermen who…feel something heavy”) with “wenn sie merken, dass sie bei einer bestimmten Tiefe angekommen sind” (p. 109). In Herm. 68, a wrong translation results from wrong punctuation:12 ἓν τοῦτο is not “die Zeit” (p. 115) but τὸ κρίνειν δύνασθαι καὶ χωρίζειν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀληθῶν τὰ ψευδῆ (two lines below). In Herm. 76, τὸ μετὰ ταῦτα is not “Was dahinter steht”, but “what hence follows” (Kilburn: “the answer to the next question”). In Herm. 86, χειμάρρου is not a “Sturm” (p. 139), but a mountain torrent. All in all, there are too many mistakes and inaccurate renderings in this translation to call it reliable.

The notes explaining the contents of the dialogue (p. 49-186) are often useful, sometimes insightful and ingenious (e.g. the end of note 8, note 25. 26. 40. 48. 53. 56. 59. 64. 68. 82. 92. 93. 164. 166), but sometimes far-fetched (note 21. 70. 85 end. 100. 160), and they contain strange mistakes and oversights as well: To claim that “die grossen Mysterien von Eleusis…fanden…alle fünf [Jahre]…statt” (in note 9 on p. 151) is simply wrong; they took place each year (in early autumn), as did the Little Mysteries, which M. claims were held only “alle drei [Jahre]” (see, e.g., F. Graf in DNP 8, 2000, 613). It is wrong, too, to claim—as M. does in note 72—that the scenario described in Herm. 30 (a bunch of philosophers surrounding Lucian’s persona and accusing him of naively following the wrong spiritual leader) is analogous to a scene set out in Lucian’s Bis Accusatus, where the “Syrian” is taken to task first by Lady Rhetoric and then by Sir Dialogue. In Herm. 51, M. detects an allusion to the myth of Pygmalion (note 101), but the parable of the man loving a statue rather points to the story which is briefly evoked in Lucian’s Imagines (ch. 4) and told with more detail in the Pseudo-Lucianic Amores (ch. 15-16: a young man falls irremediably in love with the Cnidian Aphrodite made by Praxiteles).

Sometimes M. surprisingly neglects to call the reader’s attention to parallels in other Lucianic writings: Someone looking down upon other human beings as upon crawling ants (Herm. 5; M.’s note 12 only compares Seneca) is found in Icaromenippus 19, and it is probably no coincidence that in the immediate vicinity of the ants image in Hermotimus the word ὑπερνέφελος appears which is the second title of Icaromenippus. When dealing with Chaldaeans (mentioned in Herm. 6) in note 15, M. refers to Hdt. 1.181, but not to Lucian’s Necyomanteia (ch. 6-11). The explanatory note on the name of the title figure should have been placed at the beginning of the notes section, instead of being hidden in note 95.

A recurring feature in the notes is M.’s pointing to Aristophanic allusions, even in places where this seems rather ill-conceived. I very much doubt that when using ὑπερφρονήσεις in Herm. 13, Lucian is specifically thinking of Ar. Nub. 225-6, as M. postulates (note 32; for a much clearer allusion to these verses see Luc. Prom. es 6); and it is downright wrong to posit another reference to the same verses in Herm. 21 (note 52), where all M. has to go on is a very common περιόψει which, moreover, he mistranslates (see above). In Herm. 28. Lucian uses a proverb which also appears in Ar. Pac. 699; but again there is nothing to prove that Lucian wanted to make us think about Aristophanes’ use of the proverb here, as M. suggests in note 67. A similar case is the expression χθὲς καὶ πρώην in Herm. 30: note 73 claims that this harkens back to Ar. Ran. 726, but there the context is quite different, and the expression itself is found much more often than just in this Aristophanic comedy.13 Even in Herm. 63, where Lykinos evokes the image of one logos countering another, one need not think only of the confrontation between the “better” and the “worse” logos in Aristophanes’ Clouds; M. himself (in note 130) draws attention to the fact that there is similar imagery in several Platonic dialogues. Again, when in Herm. 68 Lykinos compares the task of distinguishing good and bad philosophy with the work of coinage examiners, M. (in note 137) wants to detect an allusion to Ar. Ran. 718-737; but coinage examiners do not appear in the Aristophanes passage, while Lucian himself uses the coinage examiners analogy several times elsewhere in his work, and it can be found in other Greek literature as well (see my commentary on Lucian’s Parasite, Berlin-New York 1985, p. 273). In Herm. 81, where an old farmer tells how his son turned out worse after becoming the pupil of a philosopher, an allusion to the Aristophanic Strepsiades (claimed by M. in note 171) may be possible, but seems by no means very distinct.

Three essays form the concluding part of the book. The section on “Der Aufbau des Dialogs” (p. 187-197) is clear and useful, though M.’s claim (p. 195) that the corresponding structure of the beginning and final parts of the dialogue is underlined by the fact that both contain the same number of chapters raises the question by whom the chapter divisions were introduced—probably not by Lucian himself. The second essay (p. 197-210) deals with Lykinos, the main speaker of the dialogue, as a “Stoic Socratic”. M. convincingly shows (though he is not the first to do so) that Lykinos is introduced as a “second Socrates” and he makes a good case that Lykinos, though he uses the arguments of Scepticism, is different from a “normal” Sceptic, who only seeks tranquillity for his soul, by his “ethical urge” (“der genuine ethische Impuls”, p. 202). His claim, however, that Lykinos exhibits distinct Stoic inclinations (p. 204) is mainly founded on the tenets held by Ariston of Chios and his followers, who represented only a minority within Stoicism. Moreover, using Stoic arguments is possible for Sceptics, too, who often like to confound their adversaries by their own teachings. It therefore goes much too far to assert “dass Lykinos…am Ende gar noch der bessere Stoiker als Hermotimos ist” (p. 210).

The last of the three essays (“Strategien subversiver Ironie”, p. 210-218) is the most problematic. In it, M. claims that the conversion from grim, plodding Stoic to joyous participant of common human life that Hermotimos undergoes at the end of the dialogue is not genuine but only “ein Zeichen von Geistes- und Charakterschwäche” (p. 213) and that, on the other side, Lykinos is nothing more than a destructive sophist unable to supply something new for what he has taken away from Hermotimos. M. even asserts that the end of the dialogue is “bestürzend zynisch”, because Hermotimos simply exchanges one intoxication for another: “er tauscht sein asketisches Leben gegen puren Luxus” (p. 215). The trouble with this interpretation is that it lacks sufficient grounding in the text. M.’s cardinal point is his claim that the end of the dialogue is an allusion to the end of the well-known debate between the “better” and the “worse” logos in Aristophanes’ Clouds : there, the better logos finally admits his defeat, throws off his cloak (like a deserter from a field of battle) and rushes—almost jubilantly—off the stage. To M., this seems to be a close parallel to Hermotimos’ announcement in Herm. 86 that, after recognizing how futile his long-standing involvement with dogmatic philosophy has been, he will now go and change his clothing, perhaps even don a cloak with purple color, and then take up a more relaxed and easy-going life. This, however, is not really the close parallel to the Clouds scene that M. would like to claim: there is no throwing off of one’s garment and no rushing off the stage. Already, I have pointed out that M.’s assertion of parallels of Lucian’s dialogue with Aristophanes’ comedy quite often turn out to be rather weak. As the allegedly numerous and close parallels between the two works are M.’s main argument for his claim that the end of Lucian’s dialogue is nothing more than a sham conversion designed to show the hollowness of Lykinos’ “Socratic authority”, this claim seems to be quite unfounded. Would Lucian really have written 68 pages of entertaining, often exciting, dialogue just to show that both participants are no more than frauds? If he had really wanted to show how through much effort the disciple of a dogmatic school of thought is finally brought round to a more sceptical and open way of thinking, could he have done it any better than by presenting us with Hermotimus as it is?

I have had to deal with M.’s last essay at length because a cardinal point of interpretation is involved here. One cannot fault M. for not thinking long and hard about Hermotimus; he might, however, have done a better job if he had more extensively employed the admittedly old-fashioned, but still essential virtues of getting out the meaning of a text as exactly as possible and then building his interpretation upon that meaning.14


1. A Portuguese translation (+ text) was published in 1986 (C. Magueijo, Hermotimo ou As escolas filoso/ficas, Lisbon 1986), a French one in 1993 (J.-P. Dumont, Hermotime ou Comment choisir sa philosophie?, Paris 1993); the most recent English translation is that of the Loeb edition: Lucian VI, with an English transl. by K. Kilburn, Cambridge, Mass. 1959.

2. In this survey, M. rather peremptorily lumps together the negative attitudes of certain Byzantine readers of Lucian and of classicists of the beginning of the 20th century; but these groups dismissed Lucian for diametrically opposed reasons—the Byzantines, because they took his remarks on Christians too seriously, the (mainly German) classicists, because they denied him any seriousness in his writings.

3. At the beginning of his “Anmerkungen zum griechischen Text” (p. 141) he refers to my review of volume IV of Macleod’s OCT Lucian in Gnomon, 62, 1990, 498-511 (especially p. 504-7 and 509 deal with Hermotimus) and remarks: “einige der dort angemahnten Konjekturen des 19. Jh.’s wurden zu Dokumentationszwecken ebenfalls aufgenommen.” I shall not deal with all of these cases; but some of the more important ones will be taken up again in the course of this review. On the other hand, M. himself sometimes allows a conjecture to enter his text which does not really seem necessary: e.g. the A)/N in οὐδὲν γὰρ ἂν ἐκώλυέ με (Herm. 2, p. 24,8) is not strictly required in Lucian’s Greek; for further discussion and bibliography, see Nesselrath, Lukians Parasitendialog, 1985, 323f.

4. As in Gnomon 62, 1990, 504.

5. M. himself translates with “bei den meisten” (i.e. with the greatest number of people), but this would imply that at least a few others might be equal to or even better than the Stoics, and this simply cannot be meant here.

6. M. himself proposes to delete ἐς Στωικῶν and then to read τῶν ἐπ’ ἄκρῳ; the question discussed here, however, is not whether only “Spitzenstoiker” fulfill the moral requirements connected with the claim of having attained perfect eudaimonia, but any Stoic at all.

7. E.g. “24,5” refers to p. 22, line 5, “26,8” to p. 24, line 8 and so on (just one reference, “26,16f.” is right, probably because it was a misprint before the change in pagination). The press alerted readers to this mishap on a leaflet, which never reached this reviewer.

8. In lines 12 to 16 of p. 124 the punctuation (it is already that of Macleod’s) could be much improved by placing a colon (instead of the dash) after ποιεῖ and putting the words σημεῖακαὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα between dashes.

9. At the end of Herm. 18, ἀποδοκιμαστέος καὶ ἀποβλητέος is nicely rendered with “aussortiert und abserviert” (p. 45). In Herm. 29, τοῦτο ὡς κοινὸνεἴρηκας is similarly well brought out with “was du hier…für eine Platitüde von dir gegeben hast” (p. 59), in Herm. 35, θαυμαστὸν γάρ τι ἐρεῖν ἔοικας with “Dir liegt doch etwas auf der Zunge” (p. 69), in Herm. 49 τἀληθέστατον with “der Inbegriff der Wahrheit” (p. 91), in Herm. 58 ταυτὶ μένβωμολοχικά with “Lass doch das Herumgekaspere” (p. 99), in Herm. 74 ὑπὸ τῆς ἀκολουθίας ἑλκόμενοι with “am Gängelband der Folgerichtigkeit” (p. 125), and in Herm. 78 ἄχρι ἂν λάθῃ ὑπὸ λιμοῦ διαφθαρείς with “und ehe er sich’s versieht, ist er verhungert” (p. 131).

10. M. does not even shy away from puns. The most awful of them turns up on p. 35 (Herm. 11), where he renders πολλά τε συμφιλοσοφῆσαι ἐν τῷ συμποσίῳ with “Während des Symposions hat er viel…osophiert”. In Herm. 5, “Da gäb’s ja einen richtigen Tugendgipfelhüttentourismus!” (p. 27) as translation for ἐπεὶ πολλοὶ ἂν οἱ ἀνιόντες ἦσαν sounds funny and ingenious, but is no adequate rendering of the (rather ordinary) Greek phrase and makes the stodgy Hermotimos sound too clever by half.

11. E.g. the rendering of the last phrase of Herm. 1 ( ἢ εὐδαιμονῆσαι φιλοσοφήσαντα) with “oder du wirst ein glückseliger Mensch, ein Philosoph” on p. 23 obscures the implication of the Greek syntax that it is rather the other way round: “or you become a philosopher and thereby attain to happiness”. In Herm. 4, “der genug Zuversicht für zwei hat” (p. 25) is a too exaggerated rendering of ξυμπροθυμουμένου (cp. Kilburn: “since he is as keen as you are”). In the next sentence, τίνα is overlooked; in the following M. translates εἰς νέωτα rather inaccurately with “bald”, while it really means “in a year”. At the end of Herm. 4, κατὰ κράτος is not “mit ein paar Gewaltmärschen” (p. 27), but “with a forceful attack” (Kilburn: “which Alexander stormed in a few days”). “Dann ist’s vorbei mit der Kletterei!” (p. 29) is not even a close paraphrase for ἐξ ἀτελοῦς τῆς ἐλπίδος in Herm. 6. In Herm. 7, “entflammt von der Philosophie wie von einem Feuer” (p. 31) is not in the Greek text: ὑπὸ φιλοσοφίας ὥσπερ ὑπό τινος πυρὸςπεριαιρεθέντες means “So philosophy like a fire strips our climbers of all these things…” (Kilburn). One could add many more examples of such inaccuracy throughout the translation.

12. p. 114, line 11: not a period, but a comma is appropriate after ἓν τοῦτό ἐστιν οἶμαι, because the sentence runs on. The same mistake is already to be found in Macleod’s text (see my note in Gnomon 62, 1990, 509), but not in the earlier editions of Fritzsche, Bekker and Sommerbrodt.

13. See Schöpsdau on Plat. Leg. 677d6 (where the reference to Plato’s Gorgias must be 470d1, not 479d1).

14. Of the misprints I found I note the following as they may cause some trouble to the reader: p. 16, line 4 from bottom, read “Anlehnung” (instead of -lehung); p. 107, bottom exhibits confused speaker assignments in the translation of Herm. 64; p. 135, line 4 from bottom read “Pflichten” instead of “Pflicht”; p. 150 (line 9) read “in seinem” instead of “einem”; p. 158 (line 16) read “21” instead of “20”; p. 188 (line 11) and p. 209 (line 2) read “20” instead of “21”; p. 191 (2nd paragraph, line 2) insert “des” before “Zeitmangels”; p. 197 (line 3 from bottom) read “dem” instead of “den”; p. 198 (line 1) read “sie” instead of “ihnen”.