In the final part of his extensive biography of Heraclitus Ephesius, Diogenes Laertius (9.17) records —drawing probably on the
This latter interesting work2 was written by a mysterious author, whose origins and chronology are unknown: a terminus post quem is the quotation of Alexander Ephesius, 1st cent. B.C., in 12.8; a terminus ante quem —unfortunately very far in time— are the quotations in Venetus B scholia, in Tzetzes and in Eustathius. He is neglected in the learned and biographical tradition3 and often mistaken for the paradoxographer (so in cod. D, Vat. gr. 305) or the eclectic peripatetic Heraclides Ponticus (so in the mss. deteriores, then from the 1505 editio princeps Aldina until the 1851 E. Mehler’s edition).
Filippomaria Pontani (P.), one of the youngest and the most attentive researchers of the Homeric tradition and exegesis, offers here the first Italian translation of this work and a commentary, which is often more analytic than F. Buffière’s (Collection Budé, Paris 1962).
The Introduzione (pp. 5-40) deals with the almost unsolvable questions about the figure of the author and about the chronology of the work (pp. 5-17), the structure of the treatise (pp. 17-19), the genre and the sources (pp. 20-26), the Heraclitean notion of allegory (‘substitutive’ and asystematic, though somewhat inclined to individuate [cf. 41.12] punctual and recurring Homeric allegoremes: pp. 26-32), and finally the figure of Homer as a mystic wise man (pp. 32-40), with acute observations on the consonance between Heraclitus’ and Philo’s allegorical doctrine.
The Nota al testo (pp. 41-53), after a brief but thorough survey of the manuscripts (pp. 41-44) and of the editions (pp. 44-46), gives a sort of critical apparatus (over 160 notes), in which P. often diverges from Buffière and frequently returns to the Teubner text edited by the Sodales of the Societas Philologa Bonnensis, coordinated by F. Oelmann (Lipsiae 1910).
After a list (pp. 55-57) of reference abbreviations,4 the Greek text follows, with parallel Italian translation (pp. 60-181), and then a detailed historical and literary commentary (pp. 182-236). Unfortunately, no indexes are provided.5
Four plates show, respectively, L’Apothéose d’Homère (1827) by J.A.D. Ingres, the Roman copy of the Farnesian Bull,6 the Shield of Achilles by John Flaxman (1821) and finally the Ares and Aphrodite fresco (1469-70 ca.) by the Maestro della Bilancia (Ercole de Roberti?) in the upper band of the Month of September (Months Room, Schifanoia Palace, Ferrara).
Particularly valuable elements in the Introduzione are the close examination (pp. 10-13) of Heraclitus’ rhetorical style (verging towards homiletic-apologetic rather than explanatory tonalities) and the whole treatment of the problematic chronology of the work (pp. 9-17). P.’s sound conclusion however —”propenderei cautamente per l’inizio del II sec. d.C.” (p. 13)— does not rest, inevitably, on sufficiently firm bases. A later date, for example, cannot be excluded if the lack of Neoplatonist allegorical explanations betrays a controversial background rather than a terminus ante quem7 and if a word like
The considerations about the hybrid genre of the work are entirely acceptable, as those about the faint boundaries — at least from the Hellenistic era— between problemata and zetemata (p. 21).9
Like Oelmann (o.c. XXXVI-XXXVIII) and Buffière (o.c. VIIf.), P. too devotes a subsection (p. 21) to the title, which nevertheless, “ex codicum memoria restitutus”,10 seems rather to be a combination title + subtitle or genre + title, as
The examination of Heraclitus’ eclecticism with respect to his sources (pp. 20-26) is thorough: the Stoics in primis (Cleanthes, Posidonius and Cornutus), but also the Alexandrian grammarians (Apollodorus of Athens) and Pergamese (Crates of Mallus and Herodicus of Babylon), and above all an allegorical summa, of Stoic inspiration, used as reference also by the author of Ps.-Plutarch’s De Homero, by Ps.-Probus’ commentary to the Virgil’s sixth eclogue and by Stobaeus.12 It seems likely as well that the fragments of Heraclitus Ephesius flowed into the Problemata through a Stoic source,13 considering the history both of the Heraclitean text (heavily reinterpreted by the Stoics themselves) and of the readings of Heraclitus, in non-Stoic allegorical exegesis already in the 4th cent. B.C.14
The Nota al testo is not devoid of original contributions. As for the list of the manuscripts, P. adds the Hierosolymitanus S. Sepulcri bibl. patr. 79 (15th cent.) — containing, among several rhetorical and oratorical works, the Problemata from 48.5, then interrupting at 79.8, like the cod. A (Vat. gr. 871) — and the ‘Iliadic’ Laurentianus plut. 32.22 (15th cent.), which offers marginal excerpts from the Problemata: “un codice finora del tutto trascurato dagli studiosi” (p. 44 n. 11).
Revisions, corrections and supplements to previous editions are also helpful.15 The cod. A is backdated to the beginning of the 14th cent., the cod. D to the second half of the 13th, and the cod. O (Bodl. New College 298) to the beginning of the 13th cent. The value of the cod. O, stated by Oelmann16 and denied by Buffière,17 is here convincingly reaffirmed (pp. 47f.), and coherently reflected in the preference given to its readings in many critical notes (pp. 48-53). On the contrary, the preference assigned by Buffière to A as the codex optimus18 is justly defined “inspiegabile” (p. 47), although “i numerosi casi in cui A presenta una lezione palesemente errata” (n. 15) constitute, all in all, lectiones singulares rather than linguistic or semantic monstra, and are therefore not very useful to the point.
Moreover, although P. sensibly avoids drawing a stemma codicum, he nonetheless expresses balanced considerations (pp. 47f.) on the problematic genealogical relations of the mss.19 In particular, beside the group A, B (Vat. gr. 951), G (Lond. Royal 16.c.17, with its apograph Ricc. 41) and the Aldina edition,20 to which M must be added (antigraph of AGa, and now mutilated: it contains only 79.9-11), P. points out a further recensio, characterized by the Homeric scholia (S) which contain excerpts from the Problemata, and perhaps by the codd. O and D.21
In general, P. accepts the Bonn recensio and constitutio textus,22 and borrows from Buffière the mere division into paragraphs.23 Hence the somewhat regrettable choice not to produce a genuine critical apparatus, and to replace it only by a list of “passi interessanti sul piano testuale”: “nella gran parte dei quali”, says P., “mi sono distaccato dal testo di Buffière, intervenendo il meno possibile meo Marte e non di rado tornando alle più meditate scelte degli editori bonnensi” (p. 48). This list is, therefore, programmatically mixed, since not all textual problems are obviously notified and not all that is notified diverges from the text of Buffière (and/or from the Teubner text).
At any rate, P.’s choices seem almost always judicious and suitable.24 Obviously, in some cases further discussion is possible,25 the more so because the reasons of P.’s preferences are rarely given in the commentary. A systematic analysis of Heraclitus’ text will have to be carried out elsewhere. Here, it will suffice to record, with some comments, P.’s own twelve conjectures:
1) 5.13f.: The supplement26
2) 6.5: The correction
3) 7.9: in
4) 8.2: the possibility of an intrusive gloss (then corrupted) for the unusual
5) 37.5: noteworthy is also
6) 38.1: elegant in its simplicity is the correction
7) 38.6: in a context where the
8) 47.3: Heraclitus’ preference for the “citazioni integrate nel fluire del discorso” (p. 12 n. 29) certainly supports the emendation
9) 49.1: certainly sensible, although perhaps in an exceedingly normalizing way, is the conjectural reconstruction, where P. reads
10) 64.2: P. is not persuasive when suggesting the reading
11) 73.3: ‘When little by little those passions wane, sense —tied to interest— begins to peep out again’:
12) 76.17: intelligent and undemanding is, finally, the solution suggested for this difficult appositive clause, where what is worthy of Homer’s ‘divinity’ is (according to the mss.)
The bibliography is near-exhaustive (obviously the latest edition of Heraclitus by D.A. Russell and D. Konstan, Heraclitus. Homeric Problems, Atlanta 2005, was unavailable to P.). One could add, among the reviews of Buffière’s edition, at least those —rich in textual and critical notes— by Wehrli (o.c. 149-152), Erbse (o.c. 552-555) and Rank (o.c. 130-132). With reference to the relationship between the Problemata and Stoicism, it might be worth mentioning Cynthia Louise Thompson’ Stoic Allegory of Homer. A Critical Analysis of Heraclitus’ Allegories, Diss. New Haven 1973. On pederasty in Plato’s Dialogues (ch. 76-78), see Maria Helena T.C. Prieto, Euphrosyne 20, 1992, 277-281. On allegorical meanings of the gods (and also on Heraclitus’ chronology), see Marta Alesso, Synthesis 8, 2001, 51-65 (Apollon, Athena, Hera and Zeus) and Circe 6, 2001, 13-29 (Hermes: esp. about ch. 59, 72f.). On a possible connection between Verg. ecl. 2.60ff. and Heraclit. All. 19.7-9, 28.1 (with 28.4-7), 54.2, 75.9, see E.A. Schmidt, SO 53, 1978, 165-170. On 79.5, see A. Grilli, RSF 33, 1978, 116-118.
The translation of this text, which is not exactly easy to render, is accurate and fluent. Beyond general agreement, just some specimens of sporadic dissent:
p. 63 (2.2): rather than “nei due poemi, guardate come troneggia in cielo Zeus”, the clause
p. 65 (3.3): the expression
p. 67 (5.6): “direzione” seems a quite faded translation for Alcaeus’
p. 97 (22.3): in a context where we are told about Thales’ primigenial water,
p. 103 (25.4): besides expressing “uno slancio più violento”, the clause
p. 109 (29.5): “ora striscia umile per terra”, for
p. 113 (32.2): the expression
p. 113 (33.2): ‘What’s the need to meander inconveniently for the sake of such a detailed description, according to the traditional rules of our craft?’, wonders Heraclitus, using the participle of
p. 157 (65.4): as in 43.8, Heraclitus plays on the polysemy of the noun
p. 171 (73.7): “dall’aurea verga”, for
p. 179 (77.1): the close connection with the ‘naked nouns’ (
The commentary (already referred to), though selective and historical-literary rather than textual-critical, is always precise and exhaustive on all chief matters of the work, from the court language that characterizes the incipit (p. 182) to Homer’s heavenly statute (p. 183), from the theory on the soul between Homer and Plato (pp. 192-194) to the relationship between epos and philosophy on the subject of the ‘elementary principles doctrine’ (pp. 195-201, 209-211), from Heracles (pp. 204f.) and Odysseus (pp. 228f.) as Stoic heroes to the different interpretations of
p. 186 n. 15 (5.16): if the expression
p. 190 n. 39 (12.9): as for Alex. Eph. SH 21.10, it should be specified that Theon read
p. 196 n. 69 (22.11): Euripides’ ‘Anaxagorean’ fr. 839 K. —which in Heraclitus “pare quasi fuori posto, ed è da considerare estraneo alla fonte che il nostro autore ha in comune con lo Ps.-Plutarco e con Stobeo”— is nevertheless quoted, with reference to Anaxagoras himself,39 by Aetius as well (5.19.3), whom Diels judged as the source of the pseudo-Plutarchean Epitome and Stobaeus’ Eclogae; it might be significant, considering the relation between Heraclitus and Philo,40 that this quotation from Euripides recurs in Aet. Mund. 30 (see also 5 e 144), probably ex Arist. fr. 916 (p. 812.40ff.) G.
p. 205 n. 107 (35.3): on the ‘green fear’, see A. Lorenzoni, Eikasmos 5, 1994, 139-163.
p. 212 n. 131 (43.3): for the periphrasis
p. 216 n. 148 (47.4-6): the paradox of an entity both ended and never-ending had already been tackled —for his concept of ‘Being’— by Parm. VS 28 B 8.
p. 222 n. 170 (60.2): on the notion of ‘insatiable Good (or Beauty)’ cf. Io. Chr. In epist. Philipp. PG 62.190.
p. 223 n. 71 (61.5): on the contrary Solon, in his famous elegy on the septennia (fr. 27,15-18 W.), thought that old age —besides the cliché of white-haired wisdom, favoured here by Heraclitus— implied also (and especially) a diminishing and weakening of mental faculties.
p. 224 n. 175 (63.4): P. comments on
p. 234 n. 224 (77.6): “Nel testo di Platone [Phdr. 237a] la frase
The book’s layout is decorous, even though breathings (and accents) before capital letters appear fastidiously tied to the final letter of the preceding word,42 while the transliterations follow one standard within the translation (where
All in all, there is no need to resort to complex allegories: it will not be immoderate to state that of this indomitable laudator Homeri —ready to do anything to extol the perfection and even the
1. The (sound) definition is by L. Lehnus, in Da Aion a Eikasmos. Atti della giornata di studio sulla figura e l’opera di E. Degani. Bologna, 19 aprile 2001, Bologna 2002, 99.
2. It is fully or partially transmitted in 9 mss., cited in the scholia Homerica, and perhaps in ancient times included in a exegetic corpus together with the Porphyrian Quaestiones Homericae (according to H. Schrader, Porphyrii Quaestionum Homericarum ad Iliadem pertinentium reliquiae, vol. 2, Lipsiae 1882, 393-408).
3. Absent in the OCD and in Der Neue Pauly, he is found in TLG Canon (nr 1414), and is the subject of a documented article by K. Reinhardt in RE 8/1, 1912, 508-510.
4. Not a bibliography, as P. quotes extensively many other works in the commentary.
5. Therefore, one still has to resort to the Bonn edition.
6. The original probably dated from the 2nd cent. B.C.
7. P. himself acknowledges that “la datazione e silentio è dunque nel nostro caso alquanto rischiosa” (p. 10). At any rate, discussions in ch. 4 and 76 seem to imply a cultural context where Homer and Plato competed for priority as educational and literary model.
8. See LSJ 1749.
9. However, in several cases the technical term
10. Oelmann, o.c. XXXVIII: the cod. M (Ambr. B 99) reads
11. On the cover, as well as at pp. 59 and 61, “Sulle allegorie …”, with capital initial, would perhaps have been better.
12. A plausible hypothesis by H. Diels, Doxographi Graeci, Berolini 1879, 88-99.
13. P. (pp. 23 and 198 n. 77) takes instead a direct use for granted.
14. The Derveni Papyrus, in a different perspective, is a striking example.
15. The list of the editions is now endowed, with respect to Oelmann’s and Buffière’s works, with those of C. G. Heyne (in the appendix of his second Iliad edition, Oxonii 1821) and P. Matranga, Anecdota Graeca, I, Romae 1850.
16. “Haud parva est utilitate” (o.c. XXI).
17. “Une étude attentive de toutes les variantes de O nous a convainçu de sa médiocre valeur” (o.c. XLVII).
18. Oelmann as well (o.c. XXIX) acknowledged its excellence.
19. But they are not “gli accordi in lezione corretta” that outline them (despite the warnings in n. 16).
20. Based on a ‘brother’ of G (signed a), and in its turn the model for the Scor.
21. But here too, the agreement on correct readings, or “chiaramente superiori” (p. 48 and nn. 20f.), does not prove much.
22. Mitigating however its “interventismo forse eccessivo” (p. 47).
23. This explains the anodyne expression at pp. 46f.: “il testo che si presenta qui si fonda su quello di Buffière […] e su quello della Societas Philologa Bonnensis”.
24. For example, at 7.14, 12.3f., 16.4, 22.12, 25.4, 32.1, 40.5, 43.9, 45.7, 65.2, 67.2, 70.3 and 10, 72.8, 79.5 and 9.
25. For example, at 1.6, 9.12, 20.5, 21.1, 25.3, 26.4 and 11, 32.2f., 33.1 and 8, 34.5, 39.8, 41.3, 42.5, 44.4, 46.6, 48.8, 52.4, 65.5, 68.7, 69.1 and 11, 70.7 and 11, 72.11, 73.6, 78.4.
26. Already suggested by C. G. Heyne, in his Preface to N. Schow’s edition, 1782, XVI.
27. In spite of F. Wehrli’s doubts (Gnomon 36, 1964, 152).
28. Probably, also the O’s
29. But see Wehrli, o.c. 151.
30. In spite of Buffière, o.c. 111: see Wehrli, o.c. 152.
31. Cf. e.g. Isoc. 2.38, 4.28, 12.1, Pl. R. 522a, Arist. Mete. 350b 8, Str. 7.7.12, Plu. Non posse 1105b, Lib. 6.38, [Plu.] Hom. 2.48, etc.
32. Cf. e.g. Ctes. FGrHist 688 F 45d.beta, Ael. NA 4.21, 10.13, 14.4, VH 12.14, 14.7 e 41.
33. Did P. wish to exploit a verbal similarity to
34. See P. himself (p. 11 n. 25).
35. P. 65; see also the commentary (p. 183).
36. See G. Burzacchini, in E. Degani-G. B., Lirici greci, Bologna 2005 (2nd ed.), 219.
37. Perceiving the echo of
38. Thus Rank, o.c. 312 and D. Russell, in G. R. Boys-Stones (ed.), Metaphor, Allegory, and the Classical Tradition, Oxford 2003, 232.
39. Though for ll. 12-14, not quoted by Heraclitus.
40. Underlined by P. too (pp. 35-40).
41. Some further (minimal) remarks:
1.pp. 10f.: P.’s decision not to distinguish between hapax legomena and first evidences in his analysis of Heraclitus’ Wortschatz (n. 23) is understandable, though sometimes penalizing (as this work is hard to date): at any rate,
1.p. 15: it is possible —though not sure— that Tzetzes’ clause (in Il. p. 4.3-9 Herm.)
1.p. 28: among the passages “citati esplicitamente come allegorie” E. fr. 839.8-11 K. should not have been included: this is quoted at 22.11 for its similarities with Anaxagoras —in his turn influenced by Homeric allegories— but not as an allegorical text. Besides, for the coinage of the technical word ‘allegory’ —rightly placed in the 1st cent. B.C.— it cannot be ruled out that Cleanthes (SVF 1.118 ) and Berosus (FHG 2.1a.77) had already made use of it.
1.p. 33: it is curious to notice the affinity —also lexical— between the aims of the Homeric allegoresis according to the pseudo-Plutarchean De Homero (92.3
1.pp. 35-40: the insistence on the “esclusività della dottrina allegorica” —which unites Heraclitus and Philo: in contrast, for P., to “l’apertura pedagogica” of the Problemata and therefore “poco appropriata al contesto”— could well be, rather than a “‘posa’ memore di certo argomentare di Filone”, a hyperrhetorical protreptic and psychagogic device, in order to tempt the reader to approach a difficult and ‘exclusive’ challenge.
1.p. 45: it would have been appropriate to specify that the second edition of T. Gale’s Opuscula mythologica (Amstelaedami 1688; in the first one, Cantabrigiae 1671, Heraclitus’ Problemata were not included) was actually edited by M. Meibom.
1.p. 47 n. 18: there are no instances of Ga’s agreement in correct reading against AB, since at 7.9 P. accepts (rightly) O’s
42. This inconvenience is however confined to the introduction and the commentary.
43. On p. 11 l. 2 read “78, 7”; 12 n. 32 ll. 4f. “38, 3 e 5