BMCR 2003.10.11

Studium declamatorium. Untersuchungen zu Schulübungen und Prunkreden von der Antike bis zur Neuzeit. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 176

, , , Studium declamatorium : Untersuchungen zu Schulübungen und Prunkreden von der Antike bis zur Neuzeit. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde ; Bd. 176. Munich and Leipzig: K.G. Sauer, 2003. 400 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.. ISBN 3598777256. EUR 88.00.

The book under review was conceived as a Festschrift in celebration of the sixty-fifth birthday of Tübingen Hellenist turned Hamburg Latinist Joachim Dingel, the Doktorvater of the two editors, and most of the contributors are personal friends and colleagues of the honorand. The title puts the emphasis on the schoolroom and epideictic oratory, but the overall result is an often amiable and predominantly homogeneous collection of papers that focus on the role of rhetoric in education and literature from the Hellenistic period to the late nineteenth century. Jens’ Einleitung (pp. 1-4) sets the tone, with its genially rhetorical reminiscences of Dingel’s student days, asides to the editors, and festive birthday salutatio. The fifteen contributions, which address a variety of topics, will be summarized in the following paragraphs.

Wilfried Stroh, “Declamatio” (pp. 5-34), considers the questions of how and when the word declamatio entered Latin as the functional equivalent of the Greek μελέτη. Correcting several misconceptions that have been in circulation since Bonner’s work on Roman declamation through careful reading of Cicero and Seneca, he concludes that the studium declamandi indeed originated in the time of the elder Seneca.1 This article ought to become standard reading for all English-speaking philologists.

Claudia Klodt, “Prozessparteien und politische Gegner als dramatis personae. Charakterstilisierung in Ciceros Reden” (pp. 35-106), expounds at length on Cicero’s use of techniques and motifs from poetry, comedy, and tragedy to heighten the effectiveness of his public oratory. The study draws on speeches such as the pro Cluentio, the Philippics, the pro Milone, the pro Roscio Amerino and, of course, the pro Caelio; an extensive bibliography is appended (pp. 102-106).

Dorothee Gall, “Römische Rhetorik am Wendepunkt. Untersuchungen zu Seneca pater und Dionysius von Halikarnassos” (pp. 107-126), discusses the association of eloquence and political freedom, starting from Cicero’s quotation of Aristotle on the birth of rhetoric in the Brutus and the opening words of Tacitus’ Histories, then comparing what Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Seneca the Elder have to say about modernism and decadence in the oratory of their own time. Observing that Seneca distinguishes “good” declamation from “bad,” she refers to his engaged comments on the struggle between those striving to articulate political and social problems and the repressive force of imperial authority.

Christine Walde, ” Le partisan du mauvais goût oder: Anti-Kritisches zur Lucan-Forschung” (pp. 127-152), spiritedly defends Lucan’s artistic choices and poetic achievement against the many critics who, since the Renaissance, have sought to deny certain writers literary value by stigmatizing them as corrupted by rhetoric and their Latin as “Silver” or “postclassical,” with Homer and Vergil as the only correct models. In addition to its witty review of past scholarship 2, this piece offers constructive proposals for understanding Lucan, not as an “anti-Vergil,” but as a deliberate and skillful shifter of paradigms in order to convey his unsettlingly affective message.

Thomas Zinsmaier, “Quintilian als Deklamator. Die Topik des parens superstes im Proöimium zu Buch VI der Institutio Oratoria” (pp. 153-167), usefully reminds readers that the grief-stricken father of the preface to Book Six of the Institutio was not just a commentator on rhetoric as it was known to the Romans of the first century A.D. but also a seasoned practioner of that art. Zinsmaier argues that Quintilian composed this preface at the same time as the book, in sequence, since he mentions he was about to treat of the peroratio when his son died; while observing (p. 165), “We do not know what Quintilian felt when he wrote these words,” he admits that the topos of the parent who outlives his child enabled this Roman father to express his feelings in a way that still has the power to move us today.

Mark Beck, “Plutarch’s Declamations and the Progymnasmata” (pp. 169-192), takes a revealing look at the practical effects of rhetorical training on Plutarch’s writings by examining selected passages in the four epideictic speeches preserved in the Moralia (316C-351B) together with analogous passages in the Vitae Parallelae. He shows that the chreia is of special interest, for its techniques for expansion ( epekteinosis) of simple statements are clearly discernible when different treatments of certain dicta in the lives of Caesar, Augustus, and Alexander are compared.

Jessica Wissmann, “Enkomion, Hymnos und Prooimion. Zu den Prosahymnen des Ailios Aristeides und Dion Chrysostomos, Or. 53” (pp. 193-211), begins from Dio of Prusa’s On Homer, which surveys ancient critics of the epic poet and praises “the aesthetic and also the educational effect of Homeric poetry,” then turns to the larger question of the oration’s occasion and form, which leads her to consider the relationship between encomia and hymns, in verse and in prose, from the Classical period to Aelius Aristides. She concludes that for Aristides a hymn to a god and a choral prooemium are equivalent, as his hymns to various divinities allude to choruses and these compositions are placed in a specifically cultic context, which distinguishes them from Dio’s essentially agonistic encomium of Homer.

Antonio Stramaglia, “Amori impossibili. PKöln 250, le raccolte proginnasmatiche e la tradizione retorica dell’ ‘amante di un ritratto'” (pp. 213-239 + plates 1-5), republishes a fragment from a collection of progymnasmata on papyrus that first appeared in 1987 in order to consider the rhetorical topos of the man who falls in love with an image of another person, which is sometimes a painting, sometimes a statue (cf. the Pygmalion story). In addition to a discussion of the intriguing implications of this papyrus schoolroom text, he also presents parallel treatments of the theme from Philostratus, Severus Alexander (Ps.-Libanius), and Aristaenetus.

Massimo Lolli, “Usurpatori e Panegyrici Latini : la fuga quale turpitudinum nota” (pp. 241-250), examines the oft-neglected motif of flight in representations of Carausius, Allectus, Maximian, Maxentius, and Maximus in the late Latin panegyrics, arguing that the panegyrists use the very act of fleeing to demonstrate the defeated usurpers’ essential baseness, since they seek to avoid a mors virilis, and thereby enhance the victors’ virtuous devotion to duty.

Bianca-Jeanette Schröder, “Charakteristika der ‘Dictiones Ethicae’ und der ‘Controversiae’ des Ennodius” (pp. 251-274), presents a formal analysis of the declamations composed by the early sixth-century writer and ecclesiastic Magnus Felix Ennodius. She cites the dictiones as printed in Vogel’s MGH edition but reads them according to Sirmond’s generic arrangement of 1611 (also found in the Patrologia Latina and Hartel’s CSEL edition), witnessing faithfully to the traditional scholarly perception of these works.3 The reviewer would have welcomed a little Altertumswissenschaft to complement the philology.

Michael Winterbottom, “Ennodius, Dictio 21” (pp. 275-287), shows his appreciation of Sirmond’s editorial achievement by translating, emending, and commenting on Ennodius’ declamation in defense of a son who refused to support his father after the latter had chosen to ransom his other son, a dying wastrel, from piratical captivity (Quintilian is credited with a declamation in defense of the father). The notes deal briskly with the unclassical irregularities of the Latin text. The closing comments are similarly brief, according the discourse a measure of style and pathos while situating it in the calm meadows of Russell’s “Sophistopolis,” where the winds of Late Antique literary taste and religious change are little felt.4

Gernot Krapinger, “Vives’ Antwort auf Ps. Quintilianus Paries palmatus : Die Deklamation Pro Noverca. Text, Übersetzung und Erläuterungen” (pp. 289-333), offers another declamation that responds to one of Quintilian’s with translation and philological commentary. This speech, in defense of the stepmother, is by the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives, who is introduced as the author of the Declamationes Sullanae and a friend of Erasmus, who called him a master of rhetoric equal to Seneca and (Ps.-) Quintilian. A fact oddly unremarked by the commentator is that Vives’ own preface indicates that the addressee of this piece, composed in Bruges in 1521, was another dear friend — Thomas More, humanist, bureaucrat, and martyr — whom Vives must have met when More visited Bruges on a diplomatic mission in that year; More’s children are likewise referred to in highly complimentary terms.

Walther Ludwig, “Deklamation und Schuldramen im 17. Jahrhundert — das Beispiel des Gymnasium der Reichsstadt Schwäbisch Hall” (pp. 335-372), presents archival records in German and Latin that testify to the importance of rhetoric in the Gymnasium of an imperial city in Württemberg during the period 1614-1702. Depending on the preferences of the school’s director in any given year, schoolboys not only performed five-act dramas on Greek, Roman, and Biblical subjects but also composed and delivered speeches in Latin on topics ranging from Roman history and moral theology to recent earthquakes and panegyrics of current monarchs. Three appendices reproduce extracts from the protocols of the school’s administration, teaching plans, and programs for theatrical and oratorical productions.

Hubert Cancik and Hildegard Cancik-Lindemaier, “Von Masken, Schauspielen und Selbstinszenierung. Zu Friedrich Nietzsches Rezeption des antiken Theaters” (pp. 373-394), delve into the documents of Nietzsche’s youth at Schulpforta and subsequent years at several universities as student and teacher to examine the ancient and modern authors he studied and how they fit into the development of his ideas on the origins of tragedy, his esteem for Empedokles of Akragas, and the place of theatricality in his philosophical thought, including the rhetoric of his anti-Semitism. The contribution concludes with a summary of what Nietzsche — “poet, philologist, philosopher, man” — owes to the ancient theater.

Manfred G. Schmidt, “Ein Convivium divitum in Thamugadi” (pp. 395-400 + plate 6), presents a hitherto unpublished Severan-period inscription from Algeria tabula ansata that is held by the DAI at Rome. This five-line Latin epitaph Marci Licini Felicis qui et Ballan-/ tis flaminis perpetui is translated and accompanied by a commentary in which the meaning of the phrase conviva divitum (lines 4-5) is discussed in connection with the advanced age of the deceased ( ter tricenos, i.e. 90).

As the foregoing sketches have aimed to show, this collection contains a great deal of interest to philologists. Besides the contribution of Stroh, I found the papers by Walde, Beck, and Stramaglia particularly valuable; other readers will have their favorites. Aside from a few typos, which create no grave problems of understanding, the book is very well produced and should be considered another solid addition to the series Beiträge zur Altertumskunde.


1. S.F. Bonner Roman declamation in the late Republic and early Empire (Liverpool, 1949).

2. Walde comments on the unaltered 1996 reprint of Mark Morford’s The poet Lucan, originally published in 1967 (pp. 138-139), but Fredrick Ahl’s Lucan: an introduction (Ithaca, 1976) is oddly absent.

3. F. Vogel, ed. Magni Felicis Ennodi Opera MGH AA 7. (Berlin, 1885); F. Hartel, ed. Magni Felicis Ennodii Opera CSEL 6 (Vienna, 1882). Cf. S.A.H. Kennell, Magnus Felix Ennodius: A Gentleman of the Church (Ann Arbor, 2000), esp. pp. 1-3, 13-22.

4. The reviewer did not fail to note the amusingly Parthian resemblance of Schröder’s final footnote (52, p. 274), “Unhaltbar ist KENNELLS Charakteristik ‘the substance [of the dictiones] … thus emerges as less frivolous, more intent on presenting images of chastely virtuous rationality compatible with Catholic morality'” to Winterbottom’s final footnote (10, p. 287), “KENNELL … unconvincingly finds the whole argument basically Christian.”