BMCR 2006.05.33

The Further Academic Papers of Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones

, The further academic papers of Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones.. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. viii, 455 pages ; 24 cm. ISBN 0199279322 £65.00.

This, the third volume of Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones’ collected papers, is a fascinatingly bizarre publishing venture, even within the genre of Kleineschriften. It collects 44 pieces of which over half are reviews, dating back as far as 1979, and many of these are run-of-the-mill 2000-worders from the expected professional journals (10 from Classical Review alone). The remaining chapters include a sprinkling of contributions to Festschriften, a bunch of notes from ZPE, and a bare handful of short articles (the longest just reaches 21 pages) from various international journals. This is really his Kleinsteschriften.

It would be easy enough to question the wisdom of re-publishing many of these pieces. There is, for example, a 14-page review of Gentili’s huge Festschrift [ Tradizione e innovazione ed. R. Pretagostini] from the Classical Review of 1995. The review lists in the barest form an indication of the contents of each of the 107 chapters with barely a critical comment: ’33. Enzo Degani shows that the parallel with Hipponax found by Ettore Romagnoli in a sonnet of the nineteenth-century popular G.G. Belli is no real parallel. 34 The late F. Lasserre….’. It is unclear why anyone would need to re-read ten years on such a summary of such a contribution from such a volume, especially when the review was first published in a journal readily available for anyone who is still interested in pursuing the argument about Belli’s non-existent echoes of Hipponax and doesn’t already know this article. There will also be those from both sides of the Atlantic who will inevitably cavil at the tone of Lloyd-Jones’ style of reviewing: ‘one feels sorry for any beginner who has to approach Sophocles in the company of this plodding guide, so lacking both in intellectual acuteness and in sensitivity to literature’. A crushing put-down is likely to look like peevishness if it is decided to reprint it twenty years on (especially when, as in this case, the judgement of the scholarly community over time has meant that almost no beginner or even advanced scholar pays much attention to the volume under review).

But I think it would be a mistake simply to be sniffy in this manner. This is not just because there are also a few more substantial pieces here—the journalistic review of Homeric scholarship which opens the volume, and in particular the review of West on Aeschylus (coupled here with a critique of West on the PV) are especially worth re-reading. Rather, it is because the volume as a whole gives a multifaceted picture of a very influential and important scholar going about the daily business of scholarship with verve and commitment.

Lloyd-Jones began publishing in 1949—with a review, of course—and his career thus spans the development of post-war classics. There are all too few scholars these days (and in those days also) who have had the sort of philological training that Lloyd-Jones boasts, and he is rare among those philologists in that he also reaches out towards anthropology and engages with the history of scholarship as something more than a history of conjectures. Much of what he writes is not cutting edge material, if you are interested in social analysis, literary criticism, cultural history, gender or indeed the politics of tragedy or the literary or performative aspects of lyric poetry—that is, much of what is taught in the modern English-speaking academy. But for a graduate student interested in understanding an intellectual formation—how the views of a scholar come to be formed, what a working engagement with the field of classics can look like over the last half of the twentieth century from the bastions of Oxford (largely)—this is a volume with something unique to offer.

How can it best be used? A straight read through is not the most engaging treatment: a string of old reviews and brief notes can pall over 400 pages. Most of the pieces, however, have a philological centre, and each needs not so much a skim-reading as a thorough working through if they are to be of use.

Take this example from the review of West on Aeschylus. Lloyd-Jones lists some old emendations that West has revived which seem to him especially profitable. My eye was drawn to an emendation in the Septem (partly because the line reference was an obvious misprint). At line 532 (given as 1532), Lloyd-Jones notes that West records Weil’s emendation of Ἄρεως for the manuscripts’ Διός, which surprisingly does not appear in Dawe’s or Wecklein’s repertories of conjectures on Aeschylus. He says no more. But this should lead a reader back to the text: Parthenopaeus ‘swore he would plunder the town of the Cadmeians in spite of [ βίᾳ ] Zeus’. There is another minority reading attested: δορός, he ‘swore he would plunder the town of the Cadmeians by the force [ βίᾳ ] of his spear’. The phrase βίᾳ δορός occurs also at Euripides Supp. 347, but normally in tragedy βίᾳ and the genitive means ‘in spite of’. Hutchinson dismissed δορός as ‘weaker’, and states (without argument) that it ‘should not appear in an oath where the spear is sworn by’. (Parthenopaeus indeed swears by the spear [ αἰχμή ] he holds (529).) Hermann, followed by Paley, makes the exact opposite argument: he swears by his spear so that it is natural he should swear to take the town by the might of his spear. Διός is ’emphatic’ as first word in the line, notes Hutchinson. It is an outrageous claim, add Lupas and Petre. Paley rightly notes that two previous champions had sworn to capture the town against the wishes of the Olympians, but concludes that we don’t need such a boast a third time. Against all this, West revives the suggestion of Weil, to read Ἄρεως and to re-punctuate the lines, with a full-stop after βίᾳ. The lines thus read ‘he swore to capture the town of the Cadmeians by force. This is what the off-shoot of Ares and a mountain-bred mother said…’. That Parthenopaeus is the son of Ares is taken from Apollodorus (3.ix.2): ‘Euripides says Atalanta married not Melanion but Hippomenes. By Melanion or Ares, Atalanta had Parthenopaeus who went to war against Thebes.’

Now, one reads elsewhere in Lloyd-Jones’ review that West ‘not infrequently puts into the text a conjecture not likely to command general assent’ (from which he rightly concludes that West’s ‘text will be less generally acceptable than that of Page’). Septem 532 is a good example. West knows full well that both Διός and δορός are probably ancient variants. He actually prints Ἄρεως, however. This seems rash (even to the point of irresponsibility), but does embody his beliefs about the principles of textual criticism (expressed in Studies in Aeschylus with an ugly and self-serving dismissiveness which Lloyd-Jones finds ‘amusing’: West concludes: ‘”The noble art of textual criticism” is disparaged only by those unqualified to practise it’.) West indeed reserves particular scorn for critics who think that textual critics on occasion seem to ‘use their wealth of imagination (and fantasy) to rewrite the texts of ancient poets according to the humour of the moment’. West, thus, would no doubt see his own rashness as justified boldness. But let us look at his arguments for the emendation. West’s argument against δορός is that ‘it adds so little to βίᾳ, one wonders why Aeschylus should have appended it to the beginning of a new line’. He does not canvass the obvious point that Hermann and Paley raise, that it emphatically picks up his oath by his spear. West’s argument against Διός is that Capaneus (428-431) has mentioned Zeus and ‘The motif should not be casually repeated in connection with another of the Seven’. Notice the word ‘casually’ which takes the place of any real argument here. As Hutchinson notes, Διός is emphatically placed first word of the line and with strong enjambment; and this is the opposite of ‘casual’. Nor does he note that another of the Seven has sworn that ‘not even Ares could throw him from the towers’ (469). The duty of the critic first is to explore the force of the repetition and not simply to dismiss it without argument as ‘casual’. West also adds that ‘Eteocles in his answering speech would surely have said something about Zeus’ response to such boasting, as he does in 441-5′. What, then, is the point of ἀνοσίοις (551), if it does not refer to the remark about Zeus? Swearing to capture a town by force is unpleasant for the besieged but scarcely ‘unholy βίᾳ Διός is the epitome of ἀνοσίοις κομπάσμασιν. That Ares is attested as the father of Parthenopaeus only in the 2nd century CE is not discussed. In short, the arguments West marshals against the ancient variants are poor. And lest I am misunderstood, I am of course not disparaging the noble art of textual criticism, just some ignoble arguments in its name. Most modern editors print the manuscript reading Διός and this is thoroughly justified.

Now, Lloyd-Jones does not take the reader through any of this. He merely points out the good sense in reviving Weil’s emendation. I was happy to have this pointed out to me, and happy consequently to work through why it is worth reviving. It is unclear whether Lloyd-Jones is quietly criticizing the decision to print Weil’s emendation in the text. I hope he is. Lloyd-Jones is more helpful when his criticisms are more fully expressed, of course, as they often are. But they are always expressed in ways that require the reader to go back to the text and the apparatus to follow through the argument fully. I suspect many readers of such reviews read the first and last paragraphs for a quick summary. But it is only when a review in this style is worked through that it is genuinely useful. Perhaps that is why this particular style of philological review is dying out. It shows Lloyd-Jones at his best.

Although there are reviews and notes here on tragedy, lyric, epic, Hellenistic literature, and intellectual history, there is little in the volume which looks like modern literary criticism or cultural history. When Lloyd-Jones and West argue about whether the PV is a good play or not, it is as if the last fifty years of criticism of tragedy have not happened. (I have never understood why not knowing contemporary criticism is thought acceptable, even a matter of pride, by some traditionally-minded scholars.) This will prove an interesting test-case for the future historians of classical scholarship. What should one make of a publishing decision to reprint articles twenty years on that were already out of date when originally published? Is retro-chic a scholarly value?

But the most interesting question raised by this book is actually the role of the review and the figure of the reviewer in contemporary academic culture. It is something of a surprise that the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford should have published so many reviews at all—166 at the last count and up to 13 in a single year, which is considerably more than his successor. To understand this phenomenon, we would have to enter the sociology of the field of classics, and, most pertinently, the local history of Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones as gatekeeper (and boundary warrior) of a particular style of traditional scholarship—a lustily enacted role, where the review, like his position as Regius Professor, had a particular function. Just as, year in year out, this reviewing output was fighting a personal war for the soul of classics, so the volume of collected reviews may be making a final symbolic political gesture, (a history of) his policing of the field of (real) classics. Since this is a review also about reviewing, perhaps it will not stretch the protocols of the genre to say that if I were to go further in exploring this last thought, it would lead me into territory that a review should not properly touch upon.

Inevitably the readership for a volume such as this will be tiny, and the number who read it all the way through tinier still. While Classics as a discipline continues to develop in its current direction, there is a danger that the tradition of philology will become increasingly separated from mainstream teaching and research, and consequently increasingly misunderstood. This is greatly to be deplored—as we should also be dismayed if philologists continue to separate themselves from mainstream literary, cultural and historical criticism. I regret that the third volume of Lloyd-Jones’ papers will not help enough people to bridge this gap between different forms of classical scholarship.