Michel Patillon’s new edition of the rhetorical treatise known as the Anonymus Seguerianus should become the default choice for serious study, both for the quality of the text and translation, and for the extensive and characteristically informative introduction and notes.1 That recommendation will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the impressive series of editions of rhetorical texts that Patillon (henceforth P.) has produced in recent years.2 Among these, the edition of Theon was especially notable for making accessible the Armenian version of the chapters lost in the Greek paradosis. In this case, too, P. gives us, not just a good text, but more text than previous editors. To understand this, some background may be needed.
The Anonymus Seguerianus (henceforth AS) was discovered by Séguier de St Brisson, and first published in 1840. Its authorship is unknown. Graeven argued in his ground-breaking edition3 that the author was called Cornutus, a suggestion that is still able to trap unwary non-specialists into a confusion with the first-century Stoic. But AS is a compilation of material drawn from named authorities, at least some of whom date to the second century AD. Graeven was not guilty of an elementary chronological blunder; his idea was that there must have been a third-century rhetorician of that name. But the argument, which crucially depends on the fact that the definition of kolon in AS 242 identical to that attributed elsewhere to Cornutus, is not compelling: more probably, the compiler of AS inherited this definition from the first-century Stoic through one of his proximate sources.
Dilts and Kennedy, in the introduction to their edition,4 report that Graeven’s ‘theory that Anonymous Seguerianus is a shortened version of a work on rhetoric by a rhetorician of the third century named Cornutus … has been discredited’ (xi). That is misleading. Though the attribution to a hypothetical third-century Cornutus has been rejected, it remains virtually certain that the text which Séguier discovered is a shortened version: parts of a more extensive version are preserved in the indirect tradition. At the indisputable minimum, an anonymous commentary on [Hermogenes] On Invention contains passages which cite the same range of authorities as AS in the same manner; these passages partially overlap with AS, but also present material missing from the version preserved in manuscript.
Previous editors of AS have not thought it their business to edit the material from the anonymous commentary (some do not even advertise its existence), and getting at it has hitherto posed a formidable challenge. Parts of the commentary were printed in volume 7 of Walz’s Rhetores Graeci ( RG 7.697-860); the parts omitted from volume 5 have to be constructed from the text and apparatus of volume 5. Walz is not a user-friendly work at the best of times, and only the most obsessive devotees of fragmentary rhetoricians would contemplate the task of reassembling the lost sections of AS from Walz’s diaspora. So it is immensely valuable to have the relevant parts of the anonymous commentary (henceforth
P.’s treatment of the opening section of AS illustrates both the conservative and the interventionist tendencies in his editorial practice. He retains the words
Editorial intervention is, of course, necessary when one is dealing with an abbreviated technical text preserved in a single manuscript, and the judgements that need to be made are inevitably delicate and uncertain. So it is not surprising that P.’s proposals do not all command assent. I select a few illustrative passages for comment.
In AS 20 P. prints his own supplement,
In AS 74, by contrast, he overestimates it. P. supplements the text of a discussion of lexical brevity from a parallel passage in John of Sardis’ commentary on Aphthonius (22.18-20 Rabe). But the context in John is constructed out of alternating extracts from AS and Theon, and the words in question are found in Theon. It seems obvious that John has inserted a note from Theon into a passage from AS. P. counters (82 n.3): ‘mais on la lit aussi chez J. Doxapatrès, qui ne dépend pas de J. de Sardes.’ But that is simply false: Doxapatres presents a similar conflation of AS and Theon, and one striking agreement (
AS 149 reports Neocles as specifying three categories of artificial proof based on fact:
In AS 170 most editors adopt Spengel’s emendations (or some variant on them), and see a distinction between theorists: among topics, some people have found ones that are common across all the issues, others ones that are special to individual issues. Yet the opening genitive creates the expectation of a distinction between kinds of topic, as at (e.g.) AS 145. P. meets that expectation by preserving the transmitted
P. would not be worried by this rupture of the ‘some-others-Aristotle’ sequence. If the sequence is maintained, then Neocles is the source for the Aristotle citation as well as the initial ‘some-others’ contrast. If the sequence is broken, it becomes possible to suppose that the reference to Aristotle was inserted by AS himself. And that is what P. suggests (xxvii-xxviii). He speaks of AS having undertaken ‘une vaste enquête chez les théoriciens anterieurs’, and adds: ‘Aristote en particulier a été lu pour cette occasion’ (lxxxix). Yet AS’s knowledge of Theodorus and Apollodorus appears to be mediated by Alexander, and I have little doubt that his knowledge of older tradition was also indirect. At AS 207-8 the cluster of references to Plato, Chrysippus and Aristotle is suggestive of a doxographic source; Neocles refers to the Stoics at AC 181; and the reference to Aristotle at AC 191 surely derives from Alexander.
P.’s willingness to credit AS with direct use of Aristotle is characteristic of his distinctively high estimation of the author, to whom he attributes about 57% of the text (the passages attributed to AS are listed — and miscounted — on p. xxx). On P.’s view, the author moves fluidly between reporting the views of named authorities and providing his own summary of common doctrine. By contrast, Dilts and Kennedy see him as a pure compiler who ‘never advances an opinion of his own’ (xi). I am not unsympathetic to P.’s position in principle: it is too easy to think of the composition of technical works as a process of mindless compilation from sources. Yet AS is overtly compilatory in its approach, and the absence of a name does not prove the absence of a source: the unattributed definition of
Though P. does a service in making the additional material from AC available, his treatment of the rest of the indirect tradition is less satisfactory. He overlooks a scholion to Demosthenes (sch. Dem. 20.5 (20 Dilts)) which provides a plausible variant
I began describing Patillon’s edition as the default choice for serious study of AS. The doubts and disagreements I have expressed here are not intended to cast doubt on that judgement. No edition of a technical compilation preserved in an abridged form in a single manuscript can hope to answer all the questions conclusively. The relevant criterion is the extent to which it enables discussion to move to a new level. Patillon amply satisfies this criterion. It is precisely because his work puts me in a stronger position to engage with this text and pose questions about it than ever before that I have been able to reach conclusions that sometimes go beyond and sometimes diverge from his. Not for the first time, I have come away from one of Patillon’s editions immensely stimulated and with a profound sense of admiration and gratitude.
1. The stimulus which this edition gave to my own study of the treatise quickly overflowed the limits of a review. An expanded version, more fully annotated and illustrated, and pursuing in greater depth a number of issues that I only allude to here, can be found in ‘Notes on the Anonymous Seguerianus’, LICS Discussion Paper 2 (2005).
2. Theon (1997, with G. Bolognesi); [Apsines] (2001); Longinus and Rufus (2001, with L. Brisson); [Aristides] (2002). An edition of [Hermogenes] On Invention is promised.
3. J. Graeven, Cornuti artis rhetoricae epitome (Berlin 1891).
4. M.R. Dilts and G.A. Kennedy (ed.), Two Greek Rhetorical Treatises from the Roman Empire: introduction, text, and translation of the Arts of Rhetoric, attributed to Anonymous Seguerianus and to Apsines of Gadara (Leiden 1997). P. refers to another recent edition, which I have not seen: D. Vottero (ed.), Anonimo Segueriano: Arte del discorso politico (Alessandria 2004), including text, Italian translation, and commentary.
5. P.’s forthcoming edition of [Hermogenes] On Invention will include the anonymous commentary in its entirety.
6. According to H. Rabe, ‘Aus Rhetoren Handschriften: 11. Der Dreimänner Kommentar