BMCR 2004.03.45

Iacobus Balde Liber Epodon. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana

, , Liber epodon. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana. Munich/Leipzig: Saur, 2002. xxii, 86 pages ; 21 cm.. ISBN 3598712464. €46.00.

Teubner and editor Ulrich Winter present a new edition of the Jesuit Jacob Balde’s (1604-68) 21 epodes, with a Praefatio and indices. Whereas many neo-Latin texts are quite unavailable, in the case of Balde we have both a number of 19th century editions and a reprint of the 1729 edition (1990). Supposedly, a critical edition of this text is in part motivated by the importance of Balde to German poetry, and in part by the expectations that something might be added to the text and reading.

This review discusses, among other things, what principles should be used for editing neo-Latin texts. In the edition in question, the principles are quite insufficient, as are the reasons for the editor’s preferences concerning textual witnesses. In an examination of the use of addendum marks, it is demonstrated that the lack of principles results in an inconsistent practice. The conclusion is that this not an edition that should set the standard for further editions of neo-Latin texts.

Winter’s Praefatio starts with an introduction on Balde and his epodes (VII-XI). On pp. XI-XVI there is a formal account of previous editions. However, the ” principia textus edendi” do not even fill one page (pp. χ a format that does not allow enough room for the task at hand, namely, making evident the principles for the edition. This is true even if, as in this case, all the textual witnesses are printed editions.

This review has two main parts. The first is an account and discussion of the principles for the present edition as presented in Winter’s ” principia textus edendi” (hereafter called ” principia“). The second discusses some aspects of the present edition in practice, namely the use of addendum and delendum marks and the way to register variants in punctuation. Quotations are, except where other reference is given, taken from ” principia“.


The editor’s choice of textual witnesses

Since no manuscript of the actual text is extant, the potential textual witnesses are the previous printed editions, of which five were published during Balde’s lifetime, three in the 18th century, five in the 19th century and three in the 20th. Winter’s first principle concerns the status of these editions: ” In textu atque apparatu critico constituendo nullae editiones sunt adhibitae nisi eae, quae Iacobo Balde vivo typis impressae sunt“. One understands the idea that contemporary editions are closer to the author than later editions. I would, however, have liked to see the arguments for the decision, in the form of an account of the quality of each of these five textual witnesses. Moreover, a presentation of the circumstances of the printing of the contemporary editions and a discussion of Balde’s opportunities to control the quality of the text would have been relevant. Winter’s principle seems to omit readings from the later editions. But why would it be wrong to include later readings as suggestions in the apparatus — or even in the text — as long as these readings are properly accounted for in the apparatus? And if variants from later editions (among them, suggestions from editors) are not allowed — that is, if the editor has to choose between extant readings from contemporary editions only — what is, then, the status of the suggestions from the present editor?

The editions from Balde’s lifetime are, firstly, the editions of Balde’s lyrical poems and epodes, Munich 1643 ( E1), Cologne 1645 ( E3) and Cologne 1646 ( E4). The same printer printed the two Cologne editions, which, in fact, share almost all readings. In addition, there is the Odae Partheniae, Munich 1648 ( OP), which includes 8 of the epodes, and the Opera omnia, 1660 ( C). These are the textual witnesses used in the present edition, and hereafter I will refer to them as the basic editions.

Among these, the editor has decided to give precedence to C : ” Ecce autem noster textus criticus! Consistit in C, quam editionem novissimam Balde typis imprimendam curavit.” Winter finds that C, more than other editions, is the result of ” Wille des Autors“. The quality of the text is not accounted for in this case, and the reader will discover that C has errors not found in the other basic editions. Examples are domna for domina (XVII.20), mire for mite (VI.35), globius for gobius (II.31), scripto for scirpo (XVIII.17). The last instance seems to be the result of the printer’s choice of a lectio facilior, so to speak; the change certainly does not bear the mark of the author.

Winter chooses C on the grounds that Balde’s ” arbitrium atque testamentum” is expressed more in this edition than in the others. This point of view is discussed by S. Scheibe, who shows, with an example from Goethe, that the principle of the ” Ausgabe letzter Hand” is not unproblematic.1 Be this as it may, a greater problem for the reader than Winter’s choice of C is the lack of information as to what implications this choice has for the edition. We shall return to this question later, particularly in connection with the use of addendum and delendum marks.

Later editions

On the use of later editions, Winter writes: ” … lectiones … rarissimis locis etiam editionum Orellii, Mülleri, Hipleri noster apparatus criticus indicat.” But, as we have just seen, Winter started out stating that only editions published during Balde’s lifetime are used in the constitution of the text and the apparatus. Thus, he contradicts himself and includes, from time to time, variant readings from J. Orellius (Zurich 1805 and later), B. Müller (Munich 1844 and later) and F. Hipler (Munster 1856) in the apparatus.

Winter’s judgement concerning the three editions from the 18th century (Cologne 1706 and 1720, Munich 1729) is that they are ” nullius momenti critici“. As in the case of the earlier editions, there is no account of these editions and their quality. Perhaps Winter did not collate these editions in preparation for the present edition. However, the statement “of no critical value” rests, as it seems, on mere chronology.

The editions from the 20th century are not mentioned in Winter’s ” principia“. The most recent (1990), useful as it may be with a new introduction and commentaries, reprints the text of the 1729 edition.

Principles for orthography

As we know, a certain vacillation in spelling is typical of neo-Latin. Spellings characterized in Lewis and Short as “less correct forms” are quite common, e.g., pulcer and connubialis.2 Winter’s principle for orthography is: ” Litterae et formae ut normis Latinitatis modernis usitatae redduntur.” (p. XVII) The question of whether or not to modernize orthography when editing neo-Latin texts remains an unresolved point of contention among scholars. In A Companion to Neo-Latin Studies, I, 1977, Jozef IJsewijn recommends a modernisation of the orthography because of “the dwindling knowledge of Latin even among the best scholars” (p. 29). Other neo-Latin scholars disagree; thus Hans Helander in the introduction to his edition of Swedenborg’s Camena Borea : “It is true that we meet with deviations from the practice which we regard as the ancient norm, but these normally reflect the standard set by dictionaries and grammars as well as by prominent writers of the 17th century, and they are nearly always in harmony with what was believed to have been the ancient norm.”3

The principle chosen in the present edition implies that pulcer and connubialis have been changed to pulcher and conubialis, execrantis to exsecrantis, and tetra to taetra. Moreover, the edition throughout adheres to a strict practice concerning the semi-vowels i/j and u/v: vt is changed to ut, Ut is changed to Vt, Jano to Iano, and so on. We shall return below to the implications for the apparatus of this principle, and particularly, the way it has been implemented.


Winter writes: ” … omnes lectiones indicantur, quae ad rationem scribendi vel interpungendi pertinent“. As I see it, it is a good principle that variants in punctuation should be treated on the same level as other variants. In many cases, the punctuation is essential to the meaning of a sentence; thus, the editor’s choices in this area are very important. In this respect, editions of neo-Latin texts differ, of course, from editions of ancient Latin texts, since in the case of neo-Latin the textual witnesses contain a punctuation system to be taken into consideration.

The use of upper-case letters

Concerning the common practice in neo-Latin texts of printing certain words using upper-case letters, the editor states: ” Nomina propria — excepta littera initiali — nullis litteris nisi minutis scribuntur.” But it is clear from the apparatus of the present edition that not only ” nomina propria” are written in capital letters. On p. 61 we find, in addition to the proper name GERMANIAM, also SAPIENTIAE and ARTIBUS. Apparently, the reason for emphasising words by upper-case letters is that they are particularly important (either in general or in the text in question). In my opinion, there is no reason to remove this feature from modern editions (but of course, individual words can be changed when there is a reason).

A related practice is marking nouns (other than personal names) by capitalizing the first letter. This practice is treated by Nathan Chytraeus (1543-98) in his Grammatica Latina : ” Nomina propria, item Nomina officiorum, dignitatum, artium, festorum, & c. majusculis literis ab initio scribuntur, ut Petrus, Consul, Deus, Doctor, Grammatica, Pentecoste.4 Winter does not treat this aspect of the basic editions in his ” principia“, but makes changes in accordance with his “modern orthography” principle.

Principles concerning the apparatus

The principle of listing all variants from the basic editions is important: ” Iam nullo verbo excepto omnes lectiones editionum ex E1 usque ad C … noster apparatus criticus indicat.” This means that the present edition has as its aim to replace, for most needs, all the basic editions. One question is, are all variant readings of interest? Personally, I find it of very little interest to see the distribution of u-s and v-s among the basic editions. And even if all variant readings are of interest, or should be listed, for the sake of the principle — was it necessary to list all variants in the apparatus? One example is the replacement of & by et; in my opinion, it would have been better to include this kind of change once and for all in the ” principia” and account for the exceptions (that is, when a textual witness has ” et“) in the apparatus. Still another option would have been to sort out the real variants as separate readings and place those in another apparatus. As it is, such readings are difficult to find among all the trivial details.

One last principle should be mentioned: ” Sive in textu ipso sive in apparatu critico omnes lectiones indicantur, quae ad rationem scribendi vel interpungendi pertinent.” Winter does not give any explanation, and we shall have the opportunity to return to this principle and how it functions in practice.


The use of addendum and delendum marks

A classical philologist would interpret addendum marks < > to mean that the editor has added a letter or more which does not occur in any extant manuscript. Applied to Balde, this would imply a reading that does not occur in any of the basic editions. However, this is not the case, e.g., “quatuor] quattuor EOP” (XV.9). Similar examples are found in I.145, II.53, and XXI.6. The practice is not explained by the editor.

Moreover, there is a confusing practice concerning the registration of variant readings: there are instances where the reading of at least one basic edition (usually C) is not registered in the apparatus; in other cases no readings at all are registered in the apparatus, e.g. “rup[t]is” (XX.61) and “sauc[i]o” (X.8).

The text and apparatus of XX.92 is particularly confusing: “<, v[a]e>neunt] , vae- E“. Apparently, even if the editor wants the form ” veneunt“, he inserts ” vae” from the textual witnesses E — only to subsequently delete the a.

Clear principles are missing in the present edition as to the use of addendum and delendum marks, and an analysis of many examples shows that even implicit principles are missing.


As we have seen, Winter states in ” principia” that ” omnes lectiones indicantur“, both those concerning the way of writing and those concerning the punctuation. Moreover, the present edition preserves the punctuation marks of C, ” nisi forte nobis difficillimae cognitu sunt“.5

Winter does not address the question of how to register variants in punctuation. He often treats the same phenomenon differently: “Nec] —, E” (IV.43) and “opus] add. punctum E Hipler” (XIX.15). In both cases, some textual witnesses have a punctuation mark which, apparently, C does not have, and which the present editor does not want. However, in the first example this is shown by a dash and a comma, while in the second example it is shown by a sentence, ” add. punctum…“. There are also examples of the opposite, that is, C has a punctuation mark, which the editor deletes: “integram[.]” (VIII.21), where the delendum marks are omitted in the lemma of the apparatus: “integram] add. comma EOP“, and “Lunae[.]” (I.133) with no registration in the apparatus.

In V.1, addendum marks seem to be missing: “Te,] TE C TE, EOP“.


In sum, this is not a good, or even a reliable edition. The ” principia” are much too brief; it is not possible to treat the principles for an edition in one page. The basis for the choice of principal text(s) should have been an account of the quality of each text, and — if available — information related to the printing process from letters, etc. The edition completely lacks a description of the text with all important characteristics, including aspects where the textual witnesses differ as well as common traits. In my opinion, such a description is a necessary basis for an edition, since it opens the eyes to characteristics of a text and its textual witnesses. The next step in the editorial process would thus be an account of how these features are treated in the edition in question. Such a description is lacking here, and it seems to me that the editor has underestimated the task of producing a critical edition of a neo-Latin text.

Instead of editorial principles (in the accurate meaning of the term), the ” principia” for the present edition are characterized by what I would call formal decisions: the choice of editions on the basis of the year of printing, the decisions to list all variant readings and to use modern Latin orthography. Such principles should be fairly easy to follow, but they are principles of the “wrong sort”; they are not principles for a critical edition. What constitutes a critical edition is certainly not an apparatus of the kind presented here, with variants listed mechanically. Critical means to compare and estimate, to choose the best reading, and to do so after having first assembled a collation of texts and carried out thorough philological work.

Winter’s edition lists all variant readings in the basic editions. One consequence of this is that — since also differences in, e.g., diacritical marks and u/v are included as variant readings — the apparatus has swollen. Variant readings in the true sense of the word are hard to find among all the trivial details; in many cases, there are entire pages with an apparatus of about 10 lines, consisting of nothing but trivialities. In addition to this comes the inconsistent registration of variant readings in terms of punctuation marks, and also inconsistent use of addendum and delendum marks.6

If there is a need for critical editions of neo-Latin texts — and in my opinion, there is — this work is not the kind of edition that is needed. I am surprised that this book has been accepted as a Teubner edition.


1. S. Scheibe: “Grundprinzipien einer historisch-kritischen Ausgabe”, G. Martens and H. Zeller (eds.), Texte und Varianten. Probleme ihrer Edition und Interpretation, Munich 1971, pp. 1-44 (33ff.).

2. Lewis and Short: A Latin Dictionary, Oxford 1966, s.v. conubialis and 1 pulcher.

3. Emanuel Swedenborg: Camena Borea, edited, with introduction, translation and commentary by Hans Helander. (= Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Latina Upsaliensia, 20) Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1988, p. 23.

4. Nathan Chytraeus: Grammatica Latina, Lübeck 1621, p. 3. Quoted from Inger Ekrem: Historieskrivning og -undervisning pa latin i Oslo omkring ar 1600, (= Acta Humaniora 31), Doctoral Thesis, University of Oslo, 1998, p. 276.

5. Regarding the latter statement here, I would like to remark that, in my opinion, clear principles for punctuation in Latin are lacking; it seems to me that editors use a variant of the system that is valid for their own language.

6. An error in the bibliography may be noted (p. XVIII): the title of Gerhard Dünnhaupt’s book should be ” Personalbibliographien zu den Drucken des Barock“, and not ” Personalbiographien“.