BMCR 2004.03.38

Formen und Funktionen der Vergilzitate bei Augustin von Hippo

, Formen und Funktionen der Vergilzitate bei Augustin von Hippo: Formen und Funktionen der Zitate und Anspielungen. Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Altertums, n.F. 1. Reihe, Monographien; 18. Bd. Paderborn: F. Schöningh, 2003. xxiii, 508 pages. ISBN 9783506790682 € 88.40.

This book is a revised version of the author’s 2001 dissertation. Its goal is to do preliminary work for future Augustine commentators and to provide an aid to readers of Augustine (15). The work is divided into six main sections: Introduction, Method, Examination of Individual Citations, Evaluation, Bibliography, and Indices. The examination of citations forms the bulk of the book (41-425) and proceeds in groups: Early Philosophical and Theological Works, Anti-Manichaean Works, Theological Works, Anti-Pagan Works, Letters, Sermons and Exegetical Works, Anti-Pelagian Works, Anti-Donatist Works. Müller goes through each of Augustine’s writings and considers each citation in seventeen steps that he groups under the headings of description, analysis, and questions of interpretation (29). Although the title does not reflect this, Müller has significantly enlarged his dissertation by including Augustine’s citations of other classical authors.

In the short section Method, Müller reviews the literature on citation and explains how he examines the cited material. Although he lays out his seventeen-point approach to each citation here, in the examination itself this proves to be more a preliminary checklist, with the results included or not depending upon their importance, so that the resulting analysis is a good deal more flexible than this schema might indicate. Müller is primarily interested in exploring the techniques that Augustine uses in citing Virgil and other classical authors as well as explaining the citations’ context and function within the work.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this approach is by describing the specific case of Augustine’s dialogue with his son De magistro (98-104). Müller begins with an introduction, then discusses in individual sections Augustine’s citations of Virgil, Terence, Persius, Cicero, and St. Paul, and ends with sections on the grammatical tradition and on lies, mistakes, and ballet. The introduction briefly sets the dialogue in context, noting parallels with De Dialectica and De doctrina Christiana, and then mentions Augustine’s “playfully employed (instrumental) polemical decontextualization” of the quotations he uses. The discussions of individual citations range from one to four paragraphs and very briefly identify the citations and show how they fit into Augustine’s argument. It may seem surprising to see St Paul in this group, but Müller is surely correct in discussing Augustine’s use of 2 Cor 1:19. The section on grammatical tradition briefly identifies the origins of Augustine’s use of uerbum, nomen, etc. Finally, Müller deals with mentientes, fallentes, and pantomime. The discussion gives each of these citations equal weight because they are equally important for Müller as examples of Augustine’s citation technique. Yet, in the context of Augustine’s work, the Virgil citation is surely more important, since it forms the basis of the false teaching Augustine wants to expose. Likewise, the discussion of the grammatical tradition seems to overlook the point that the dialogue about Aeneid 2.659 is a parody of the lessons given by a grammaticus. 1 None of this diverts Müller’s attention, however.

The way Müller carries out his goals means that his book is composed of many detailed discussions related to one another by the fact that they are in the same work by Augustine, while the Evaluation section adds some synthesis (the discussion of the role of citation in Augustine’s argument 448-452 is especially good). The writing packs a great deal of information into its copiously footnoted text and the book’s structure will make it easy to consult for help with individual citations.

The indexes may make consulting the book in other ways more difficult, however. In order to do a rough check, I compared the index of Aeneid 1 citations by Augustine against the list in Interpretationes Vergilianae Minores II.1 (Genova 1994). Müller’s index lists twenty-six passages, while the Interpretationes gave thirty-six (thirteen not in Müller and three not in the Interpretationes).2 Upon checking further, however, I found that Müller had identified and discussed all the passages and they were contained somewhere in the indexes. To clarify this, a bit more detail about the indexes. The six indexes are divided into two groups: the first group lists material discussed in the book (the Bible, Augustine, Virgil, and other antique authors) and the second group lists Virgil citations by Augustine (by Virgil work and by Augustine work). When Augustine cites Aeneid 1.1 at Mus 2.2.2 and Müller discusses this on p. 160, this information appears four times in the indices: Müller’s discussion on p. 160 is indexed under Aeneid 1.1 and Mus 2.2.2 in the former set of indexes and Augustine’s Virgil citation is listed twice in the latter, once under the Aeneid reference and once under the De musica reference. This is not always the case, however. For example, Augustine quotes Aeneid 1.335 in Letter 102 and Müller discusses this on page 328. This information is indexed only under Müller’s discussion of Aeneid 1.335; his discussion of Letter 102 is not listed in the Augustine index, nor is this citation of Virgil by Augustine listed in either of the citation indexes. Readers consulting this book about a specific work by Augustine will be satisfied: they will turn to Müller’s discussion and have their questions answered. If the results of this sample are representative, readers who use the index will need to do so with care.

Müller focuses on individual citations as textual phenomena within the context of the Augustine work in which they appear. This is an enormous task, but one that is made easier by the pioneering work of Harald Hagendahl, which Müller often cites. Müller has the advantage of better editions and searchable electronic texts, and with these his work represents an advance on Hagendahl. Yet Hagendahl did not miss much and his approach to the citation in general is still fundamental.3 Müller’s work carries forward both the search for citations and questions of practice. The strengths of the resulting book lie in the rigor of its analysis and the detail of its treatment. It will be welcomed by students of classical authors and the Christians who quoted them.


1. Priscian’s Partitiones on the first lines of each book of the Aeneid show that this tradition was alive and well a century after Augustine in Constantinople. See Manfred Glück, Priscians Partitiones und ihre Stellung in der spätantiken Schule (Spudasmata 12) Olms, 1967.

2. Not in the Interpretationes : A 1.1, dial. 5; A 1.2, doctr. chr. 2.56.136; A 1.279, ep. 190.19. Not in Müller: 1.1: mus. 4.16.31 (Quoted pp. 106 n. 373, 109 n. 395). 1.1: mus. 5.8.16 (Quoted pp. 107, 111 n. 409). 1.1: mus. 5.12.26 (Quoted p. 107 n. 377). 1.38, conf. 1.17.27 (Quoted p. 193 n. 300). 1.46-7, civ. 1.4 (Quoted pp. 247 n. 129, 248 n. 131.) 1.284, civ. 15.19 (Quoted p. 288 n. 343). 1.335, ep. 102.20 (Quoted p. 328 n. 132). 1.381, civ. 18.19 (Quoted p. 291 n. 359). 1.401, c. acad. 1.5.15 (Quoted pp. 55 n. 102, 180). 1.416-7, civ. 3.31 (Quoted p. 263 n. 211). 1.436, ep. 41.1 (Quoted p. 327 n. 131). 1.678, ut. cred. 1.3 (Quoted pp. 84 n. 251, 128 n. 61). 1.724, ep. 190.19 (Quoted p. 323 n. 109).

3. See, for example, “Methods of Citation in Post-Cassical Latin Prose” Eranos 45 (1947) 114-128.