The project ‘Commentaria et Lexica Graeca in Papyris reperta’ (CLGP) accompanies the ‘Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici’ and the forthcoming ‘Corpus dei Papiri Greci di Medicina’; their aim is to re-publish papyri which have been edited in different collections over the years but which concern the same area, thus making it easier for scholars to access papyrological evidence on a particular topic or genre.
The plan of the work, outlined in ‘Criteri editoriali’ (vii-x), is promising. First part: Commentaria, in four volumes: 1) Aeschines-Bacchylides; 2) Callimachus-Hipponax; 3) Homerus; 4) Hyperides-Xenophon. Second part: Commentaria Adespota, according to the literary genre. Third part: Lexica (but lexica to individual authors are in the first part, and bilingual lexica are excluded). Fourth Part: Concordantia et Indices.
The first part, of which this is the first volume, gathers hypomnemata, hypotheseis, syggrammata, glossaries, lexica and marginalia (scholia and glosses) dedicated to the different authors. Texts with only critical signs have been omitted as well as biographical works. Although this choice is understandable, one can wonder whether, especially for the texts with critical signs, they should not have been included (or at least mentioned, for example in an appendix), since critical signs are themselves exegesis, and moreover one of the most interesting kinds.
The volume under review covers the following authors: Aeschines (edited by Elena Esposito), Aeschylus (edited by Luigi Arata, Guido Bastianini, Franco Montanari, Elena Esposito and Marco Stroppa) and Alcaeus (edited by Antonietta Porro).
Each section on a particular author begins with a general introduction followed by the edition, with commentary, of all the papyri that contain traces of exegesis on that author. The papyri have been rechecked against the originals or against digital images thereof (cf. CLGP, xii-xiii). Only a full edition is provided, and rightly so, since these are not editiones principes. The critical apparatus and the commentary inform the reader of previous editorial solutions, problematic passages, supplements and conjectures. A ‘bibliographical’ summary at the beginning of each text, giving information about the provenance of the papyrus and where it is preserved, the editions, the images available and bibliographical references, is a useful tool for further research on each manuscript.
A brief survey of the three sections shows the huge discrepancies in the papyrological evidence at our disposal. Aeschines does not seem to have enjoyed particular popularity in antiquity; not only do we possess only three papyri, but they are very scanty and none of them is a real commentary. No. 1 (P.Turner 9, fr. 1.4) is a title of a commentary in a list of prose works, no. 2 (P.Oxy. 15.1804, frr. 1+2, col. i 9-13) is a lemma from a rhetorical lexicon and no. 3 (P.Oxy. LX 4055) shows faint traces of a marginal note to In Ctesiphontem (which do not allow even for comments by the editor). The most interesting is no. 2, where Elena Esposito tries to supplement the gloss with other parallel passages from other lexicographical works (esp. Phot. 462.22-4 P., Lex. Rhet. 296.4 Bk, already quoted by Hunt in the editio princeps) and scholia (sch. Aesch. Fals. Leg. 158).
The evidence of Aeschylus is more interesting, though somehow puzzling. Aeschylus was an object of exegetical interest ( Sch. Theocr. X 18e mentions an Aristarchean hypomnema to the Lycurgus) and the papyri seem to bear witness to that. However, we do not have any running commentaries, but only hypotheseis (no. 1 = P.Oxy. XX 2257; no. 3 = P.Oxy. XX 2256), marginal scholia (no. 2 = P.Oxy. XX 2255, fr. 2; no. 4 = PSI XI 1211; no. 5 = P.Oxy. XXII 2333; no. 6 = P.Oxy. XVIII 2164), notes from exegetical treatises (no. 7 = P.Herc. 1012, col. xxii; no. 8 = P.Oxy. II 220, coll. v 1-8. xi 1-6, a metrical treatise; no. 9 = P.Oxy. XX 2259, fr. 1) and two doubtful texts (no. 10? = P.Oxy. XX 2252 and no. 11? = P.Hib. II 172, coll. i 18. ii 1). It is interesting that most of this exegesis refers to tragedies which were not preserved by the medieval tradition: hypothesis to the Aetn(ae)ae (no. 1); marginal scholia to Glaucus Marinus, perhaps Philoctetes (no. 3, fr. 5), Myrmidones (no. 4), Xantriae (no. 6). Of the canonical seven tragedies, only marginal scholia to the ‘Seven against Thebes’ are preserved (no. 5). This evidence thus suggests that many works by Aeschylus, later forgotten, were read and were also objects of study in the first centuries AD (CLGP 13). Moreover, the quality of these papyri, especially some containing hypotheseis, show a quite remarkable level of erudition (especially no. 1 and no. 3, whose fr. 3 fixed the date of the Supplices post 468). This supports the opinion that Aeschylus was not an author suitable for schools, but instead appealing to a more advanced audience. These papyri in particular seem to reflect Alexandrian scholarship very closely, and especially that of Aristophanes of Byzantium.
The most interesting section in the volume is the one on Alcaeus; a good edition of the papyrus commentaries on Alcaeus has already been produced by Antonietta Porro ( Vetera Alcaica, Milan 1994; hereafter Porro 1994), who has edited or re-edited all the papyri published in this section. Nineteen texts on Alcaeus have been preserved in papyri: marginal notes (no. 1 = BTK V 2, 1-6 + P.Aberd. I 7; no. 2 = P.Köln II 59; no. 3 = P.Oxy. X 1234 + XI 1360 + XVIII 2166(c); no. 4 = P.Oxy. XV 1788; no. 5 = P.Oxy. XV 1789 + XVIII 2166(e); no. 6 = P.Oxy. XVIII 2165; no. 7 = P.Oxy. XXI 2295; no. 8 = P.Oxy. XXI 2297; no. 9 = P.Oxy. XXI 2301; no. 10 = P.Oxy. XXI 2304; no. 17? = P.Oxy. XXI 2291; no. 18? = P.Oxy. XXI 2299; no. 19? = P.Oxy. XXIII 2378), commentaries (no. 11 = P.Oxy. XXI 2306; no. 12 = P.Oxy. XXI 2307; no. 14 = P.Oxy. XXXV 2733; no. 15 = P.Oxy. XXXV 2734(?)), and exegetical works (no. 13 = P.Oxy. XXIX 2506, frr. 6a, 77, 82, 91, 98a, 102, 105, 84+108, 115; no. 16 = P.Oxy. LIII 3711). The obscurity of the Aeolic dialect together with the need to understand the historical context of his poetry can explain why we have such rich papyrological evidence on Alcaeus. These two circumstances account also for the kind of exegesis found in papyri, which, as it was the case of Aeschylus, does not seem to be devised for the classroom, but rather for a more specialized audience, reflecting once again Alexandrian interests. Also the rich usages in these papyri of critical signs like paragraphoi and coronides together with the names of scholars like Didymus (no. 4); Apio (no. 7) and Aristarchus (no. 13) are a clear mark of Alexandrian scholarship. Moreover, as Porro has pointed out (Porro 1994, 5-6; 239-41; CLGP, 76-77) the papyri on Alcaeus seem to follow the same edition, that of Aristarchus, ordered according to the content of the poems (poems for the symposium, poems against Myrsilus, poems against Pittacus, etc.). Perhaps indeed the success of the Aristarchean edition (at least in the Egyptian chora, from which most papyri come) can explain the popularity of the more ‘marginal’ Alcaeus over the Athenian Aeschylus, which might, at first, seem strange.
The introduction on Alcaeus (CLGP, 75-80) is in this respect extremely good; it gives a general picture of ancient exegesis on Alcaeus, linking papyrological evidence with the historical and cultural context of Alexandrian scholarship. Of course the richness of the material on Alcaeus allows some general conclusions, which are more difficult and uncertain for authors like Aeschines and Aeschylus. However, the introduction by Porro should be a model for the future editors of the next volumes of CLGP; assessing the importance and value of this evidence and putting it into a wider context are fundamental steps in order to reach a wider audience and raise interest for these technical and often fragmentary texts.
The editions of the papyri by Porro are very accurate: a good palaeographical description is followed by an analysis of the manuscript; the papyrological and the critical apparatus are very clear and complete; there is often a translation; and an extremely detailed commentary follows. This of course is partly due to the fact that, behind this section on Alcaeus, there is an entire monograph on the topic. However, it is fair to say that Porro did not limit herself to a simple repetition of what she wrote in 1994. The papyrological evidence collected in CLGP is much fuller than that in Porro 1994, which contained a full edition and commentary only of the texts that in CLGP are classified as commentaries (nos. 11, 12, 14, 15) and exegetical works (nos. 13, 16). The other texts, containing marginalia, were instead discussed only in the section on “Marginalia e segni diacritici nei papiri alcaici” in Porro 1994, 217-26, but not presented with a full edition as here. In general, for the papyri edited also in 1994, Porro 1994 is more complete than the corresponding texts in CLGP, though one should make a distinction between the commentary and the text of the papyri. As for the commentary, it is basically the same as in Porro 1994 (some sentences recur verbatim), but in an abridged form. Otherwise, for more detailed discussions, one has to go back to Porro 1994. For example, the analysis of the other commentaries on papyri mentioned at CLGP, 150-1 (Alcaeus no. 11) are more detailed in Porro 1994, 33-35; references to or comments on other texts are omitted or largely cut in the new edition (e.g. Heraclitus, All. Hom., in CLGP, 160, compared to Porro 1994, 55, or Aristotle, Pol. 1285a 29-37, with reference to the election of Pittacus as aisymnetes in no. 12, ad fr. 9, 1-8: CLGP, 188, which is much more detailed in Porro 1994, 100-2). The new commentary is valuable, however, for it takes into account the most recent bibliography on the topic. As for the text, the new edition represents an improvement. It is more cautious and has better supplements (for example P.Oxy. 21.2307. fr. 1.9-10). Moreover, in Porro 1994 there is no palaeographical apparatus, but only a critical one. Therefore, to have a complete and updated account of the papyri with exegesis on Alcaeus, one has to take into account both Porro 1994 (for a detailed discussion and a very important contextualization) and CLGP (for recent bibliography and a somewhat more accurate text as well as for the section on marginalia, which is basically all new).
The only objection one can make to this section is the omission of P.Herc. 188 and P.Herc. 1014 from Demetrius Laco’s
Apart from these discrepancies (perhaps unavoidable in a series with several contributors), the volume is good and useful; one of its best qualities is no doubt its reader-friendliness: the general introduction (prefazione, criteri editoriali, curatori, revisori dei papiri, siglorum et compendiorum explicatio, conspectus librorum, CLGP, v-xxxv) gives the reader all information needed to approach the volume. The edition and the commentaries are well structured and clear.
Perhaps, as already remarked, more broadly-reaching introductions to each author would allow a better assessment of these erudite but also fascinating and important texts. Also an analysis of the different products of ancient exegesis might have been helpful: apart from the basic distinction between running commentaries ( hypomnemata), marginal annotations (scholia), running and alphabetical lexica, glossaries and monographs ( syggrammata), one may wonder whether we can detect other differentiating characteristics between products for schools (with basic exegesis and paraphrases) and more erudite products (with philological and more refined exegesis) and whether this division corresponds somehow to a differentiation in outline and/or in the material appearance of the manuscript (handwriting, numbers of hands, abbreviations, critical signs, disposition on the writing surface etc.).
The other problem that this work raises is the relationship between the exegesis in papyri and that preserved in the medieval tradition (scholia, lexica, etc.). Only for Homer has any research been done in this direction and the publication of CLGP could be the very first step for similar work on other authors. In studying ancient exegesis the analysis of parallel sources (from Hellenistic to Byzantine times) is often of the greatest importance; it might thus have been helpful to quote more often parallel texts preserved in the medieval manuscript tradition. Even when this evidence is taken into account (as in Aeschines, no. 2, and in Aeschylus, nos. 4 and 9), it would have been clearer to see the parallel ‘medieval’ text next to the papyrus in all the instances where the analysis of later evidence has helped the editor to comment on and understand the text in the papyrus.
In any case, we now have a very useful repertoire of one of the most engaging types of technical literature; moreover the antiquity of the texts is a guarantee that, through them, we are approaching as well as we can the rest of Alexandrian and early Roman philology. In order to make ‘these anonymous scraps’ speak to us, however, it is essential to put them into a wider and more concrete historical and social context. Porro 1994 serves as a fine example of this. We may hope that, with the publication of the CLGP, other scholars will be inspired to further research into this field.