Peter Kruschwitz’s doctoral thesis provides students of Saturnian verse with a valuable new collection of texts and commentary on the epigraphic evidence for this enigmatic early Roman meter. Those of us who have struggled to teach this material using Ernout’s minimalist Recueil de textes latin archaiques and Gordon’s selective Illustrated Introduction to Latin Epigraphy now have an important addition to our seminar reading list.
Kruschwitz begins with a very brief introductory section on the function of the inscriptions and the various problems concerning Saturnian meter. But the heart of the book and by far the majority of the content is a careful presentation and thorough examination of sixteen early inscriptions. Each of these sections contains a full bibliography of primary and secondary literature, an introduction to the form and history of the inscription, and a detailed, sometimes word-for-word, analysis of the language. Even those who have given up on ever discovering the true origin of Saturnian verse will find the linguistic commentary worth the price of the book. And unlike many publications, a clear photograph of each stone in question is included with its discussion for our benefit.
Which inscriptions to include in a catalogue or study of Saturnian verse is a problem faced by any editor. One’s own particular theory of Saturnian versification normally determines the choice. Although different scholars might quibble with Kruschwitz over the inclusion or omission of a few inscriptions, on the whole his selections are quite reasonable. Aside from their usefulness for the study of Saturnians, the inscriptions Kruschwitz includes provide a useful handbook for early Latin epigraphic studies of any particular sub-discipline, from family life and religion to history and politics.
The first inscription is the third-century dedication of the Cista Ficoroni by Dindia Macolnia to his daughter. Following this is the famous epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus in the Vatican Museum ( Gnaiuod patre prognatus, fortis uir sapiensque), including an interesting excursus on the political vocabulary of the sarcophagus. The next three inscriptions cover the remainder of the Scipionic family corpus. The second-century epitaph of the mimus Protogenes from Preturo follows (Ernout and others have quite reasonably preferred to see this as a flawed dactylic hexameter, as Kruschwitz notes). Next is the second-century dedicatory inscription of the brothers Marcus and Publius Vertuleius to Hercules ( Hercolei), followed by the remarkable two-sided bronze plate from Falerii commissioned by a group of Faliscan cooks resident in Sardinia. The second-century dedications of the merchant Lucius Mummius and the consul Gaius Sempronius Tuditanus follow. The eleventh inscription is a small fragment from a Scipionic sarcophagus oddly separated from its companions above. Normally relegated to footnotes, this limited source can provide little information on Saturnian meter. The next inscription, that of Marcus Caecilius on the Appian Way, is one of the most delightful epitaphs from early Rome: hospes, gratum est quom apud | meas restitistei seedes | bene rem geras et ualeas | dormias sine qura. The first-century epitaphs of Gaius Sergius, Gaius Quinctius Prothymus, and the baker Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces follow, concluding with the gravestone of soldier Festio. Those who would miss the inclusion of the semi-Saturnian carmen aruale in such a collection will not be disappointed. A complete discussion of this perplexing hymn is found in the second appendix. An up-to-date bibliography and series of indices concludes the volume.
Kruschwitz’s collection of Saturnian inscriptions provides those interested in Saturnian verse a much-needed companion to the literary material of Livius Andronicus and Naevius found in Blansdorf’s 1995 edition of the Fragmenta Poetarum Latinorum. But in addition to metrical specialists, this corpus should have a wide appeal to scholars in many different fields of early Roman studies.