BMCR 2007.04.57

Singing Alexandria. Music Between Practice and Textual Transmission

, Singing Alexandria : music between practice and textual transmission. Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classica Batava. Supplementum, 274. Leiden: Brill, 2006. xiv, 241 pages : facsimiles ; 25 cm.. ISBN 9004149856. $146.00.

1 Responses

In her study, which began as a Ph.D. dissertation at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, Prauscello (P.) examines selected aspects of the Hellenistic transmission and reception of lyric (basically dramatic) texts originally conceived for musical performance. She tries to reconstruct the different typological processes which seem to have governed the fate of the past poetic tradition in the new context of Hellenistic performance. In the first section P. challenges a theory strongly supported by Thomas Fleming and Christian Kopff, who see a close interaction, in terms of transmission and reception, between Alexandrian editorial technique and texts provided with musical notation: Alexandrian scholars would have systematically resorted to scores provided with musical notation to break lyric and tragic texts up into metrical cola. At the heart of this idea lies the “largely welcome decision” (P., p. 7) to reconsider Wilamowitz’s long-accepted view of a complete separation, from the IV century BC, of the textual tradition and colization from any musical tradition. Although his thesis still finds supporters, the emphasis given by Fleming and Kopff to the importance of medieval colometry “falls within a broader and well-grounded trend of current criticism, one engaged in showing the reliability and inherent consistency of the manuscript colization” (p. 7). Yet, however reasonable their basic principles, their critical approach involves a more general reconstruction of the modes of production, transmission and reception of poetic texts that, in P.’s view, misrepresents the nature of a process whose true character seems to have been a intermittent interplay of multiple channels preserving continuity through diversity.

In Chapter 1 (“Alexandrian Scholarship and Texts with Musical notation”, pp. 7-121), P. re-examines the ancient sources to verify the inner validity of the Fleming-Kopff working hypothesis. A direct derivation of Alexandrian editing technique from scores with musical notation would suggest an uninterrupted relation between textual and musical tradition, from the fifth century BC until at least the Ptolemaic period. Current scholarship is divided: Fleming and Kopff see an early symbiosis between Lesetexte and Bühnenexemplare, whereas Pöhlmann separates the merely textual tradition from the scenic.1 Both representations, observes P., verge on oversimplification in attributing an implausible stability to the textual tradition, whose evolution would have been less straightforward. As against these rigid patterns, P. outlines a richer picture, where the “true” mode of transmission of a text across different periods seems to have been “its inner capability of being adapted to changed performance practices without losing its own identity” (p. 5).

The direct derivation of Alexandrian colometry from scores is suggested by an apparent correspondence between the phrase of the musical tempi, both vocal and instrumental, and the rhythm indicated by verbal metrics. P. provides counterexamples, however: (1) isolated traces of metrical frames re-shaped according to the musical rhythm in the well-known phenomenon of free responsion in choral and dramatic lyric, already identifiable in the classical age; (2) the use, attested in the scores, of the leimma as a marker of rhythmic pause or to increase the time value of a syllable.2 She finds further evidence of “the lack of a systematically predictable correspondence between the metrical frame outlined by the text and the musical rhythm of the actual performance” in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, De compositione verborum. Particularly relevant here is the well-known passage in 11, 22-23 Auj.-Leb. where he discusses the opposition between spoken language and song. “Prose diction, he says, does not infringe or change the quantities of a noun or a verb but preserves the syllables, the long as well as the short ones, just as it found them to be by nature. On the contrary, the rhythmike and the mousike change the time value of the syllables by shortening or lengthening them so that they are often converted onto their opposites: in fact the rhythmike and the mousike do not adapt the time values to the quantity of the syllables but the quantity of the syllables to the time values”. On the basis of this and other passages (in my view less relevant to the problem of the correspondence between musical tempo and metrical rhythm, esp. 11, 19-21 Auj.-Leb. which provides examples of tonal mismatches between speech and song), P. concludes, weakly in my opinion, that the evidence examined cannot be assumed to support a normative use of scores in a determination of the colometry of lyric texts (p. 28).

Fleming and Kopff support their thesis with another argument they consider essential, which rests on the considerable musical knowledge of Alexandrian scholars. In particular, they draw attention to the evidence concerning Apollonius eidographos, who classified odes according to their musical mode (Et.Gen. AB s.v. eidographos = Et. M. 295, 53 sgg. Gaisford). P. is not convinced that Apollonius was able to classify odes by mode simply because he could read music and had access to scores. P. wonders whether he even consulted scores. And would such scores, on the assumption of their availability, have reproduced the original Pindaric performance or were they rearranged according to the different occasions to which they were adapted? She concludes: “even if we were forced to suppose an exploitation of texts with musical notation by Apollonius … the problem would remain of explaining why this editorial criterion … cannot be found elsewhere, that is not only in Pindar’s edition arranged by Aristophanes but also in other editions of lyric poets”. She suggests that the expression “being naturally talented” might involve “something different from routine work” and could be taken to mean that Apollonius used his own abilities to guess the right musical labels. This suggestion appears to be an expansion of the well-known explanation proposed by Irigoin, according to which Apollonius would have done the work by identifying the musical genres from the indications in the verbal text. But the possibility remains that Apollonius was unusually good at reading scores and did it more efficiently than others, thus preparing the ground for his successors to recognize the lyric colometries. Nor is it clear why one should not look beyond Pindar and his tradition. The entries in Etymologicum Genuinum and Etymologicum Magnum apparently refer to every kind of literary compositions set to music: it is never stated that such a criterion would only have involved Pindaric poetry.

Another indication of the great musical competence displayed by the Alexandrians is found by Fleming and Kopff in ch. 20 of the epitome of Herodianus’ handbook ascribed to Pseudo-Arcadius, where Aristophanes is credited with having been “guided by musical analogies in his work on the accentuation system” (P., p. 34). Aristophanes’ awareness, suggests P., did not originate in his reading of real scores, but from the bare notion of mentally recording an empirical datum perceived by the auditory faculty. On the mere basis of a mental musical diagram, Aristophanes would have analogically represented the acute accent with a rising dash and the grave accent with a falling one. This would therefore have nothing to do with Aristophanes’ alleged familiarity with musical scores and notation.

P.’s argument again seems weak. Since Pseudo-Arcadius insists on the notions of semeion, semainein both when he speaks of the musical notation and when he speaks of the signs shaped by Aristophanes, the best inference seems to be that in both cases he is referring to something written.

Fleming and Kopff find further evidence that musical scores were already circulating in the fifth century BC in the scholium to Pind. Pyth. 2, 6b, which refers to an apostolike oide. One can wonder whether what was sent was a written text, and of what sort— words, music or both? P. claims that only the words of the song had to be learnt by heart. As evidence of the fact that in the fifth century BC a tragic chorus was still orally instructed by the poet-composer, without a musical score, she quotes Plutarch Mor. 46B, where Euripides is portrayed as singing in front of the chorus members who had to imitate him. Concerning the Suda entry ‘Antigenidas’, the Theban auletes (400-370 BC. accordingly denies any specific meaning to the expression “he wrote airs”: the verb egrapse would refer here to the act of composing poems and not to that of writing down the musical score. Once more, P.’s conclusion is that in the fifth century BC we cannot find any positive support for a close relationship between textual and musical (written) tradition (P., p. 47 f.).

The next step is the discussion about the scholium to Dionysius Thrax Ars Gramm. 2, taken up by Bataille (1961) and before him by Wessely (1892), who, long before Fleming and Kopff, had come to an even more radical conclusion on the alleged relationship between Alexandrian editorial technique and musical scores. Here it is said that in the poems composed for musical accompaniment, the verse is not laid out in full length, but only up to the pause of the lyre, as one can see from Pindar’s poems that “are edited cut into small pieces” (P., p. 54). In Wessely’s view, the scholium would attest that in certain manuscripts lines were written according to the melody. Even if the anonymous scholiast, assuming a link between the practice of colometry and musical performance, manifests a surprising historical awareness, P. does not believe that his words let us infer that he is referring to copies of lyric poetry provided with musical notation. Actually, the text of the scholium as quoted by Wessely and Bataille is the result of a conflation of two distinct and arbitrarily combined grammatical sources. The first part belongs to Melampus’ scholium to Dyonisius ( GG I. 3, 21, ll.12-21 Hilgard), where it is claimed that some poems not only obey the metrical frame, but are also composed with a musical accompaniment; the names of the nine most famous lyric poets of the Alexandrian canon then follow. Melampus concludes that “lyric poetry must be read musically, even if we have not inherited the music by those poets nor do we remember it any more” (p. 55). In P.’s opinion, this very conclusion seems to display “a clear awareness of the impossibility of recovering the ancient original music” (p. 56). P. sees the “same scepticism” in Heliodorus’ scholia, which gloss Dionysius’ same lemma ( GG I. 3, 476, l. 29 ff. Hilgard). Here it is claimed that lyric poetry “has to be sung with the appropriate music, which is actually impossible for us nowadays: if someone wanted to sing it according to the ancient music to which the lyric compositions had been set, he would not be able to, ancient music being different from the modern one […]. How, then, would someone be able to sing to the present music poems composed according to the ancient harmony?”.

Heliodorus’ comment hardly seems to admit scepticism: he is just stating that, with the profound transformation undergone by music, ancient compositions cannot be sung to the new music; what he apparently objects to is the widespread tendency to re-adapt or re-set — which makes one wonder about P.’s claim concerning the complete disappearance of ancient music. While Melampus’ argument is manifestly counterfactual, Heliodorus’ appeals to the radical changes produced by so many centuries of evolution and not to the loss of the old music. Heliodorus’ scholia seem somehow to dialogue with Melampus’: Melampus urges that, even if the old music were lost, the ancient lyric compositions should still be sung to the modern music, whereas Heliodorus rules this out, because of the great musical transformations undergone in the intervening centuries.

Gentili and the reviewer have drawn attention to Cicero, Orator, 183-184,3 arguing that the passage indicates a close link between the Alexandrian editorial colization of lyric texts and musical scores. In contrast, P. argues that the music referred to by Cicero is not the soundless one of the musical notation on the written page but the one heard in contemporary theatrical performances.

P. does not take account of the relationship this passage bears to De comp. verb. 25-26, where Dionysius, in his consideration of the phono-stylistic and performative features of literary texts, speculates about the intermediate status a poetical discourse can have, between prose and poetry, when taken outside the colometric order given by Aristophanes of Byzantium. By observing that cantu remoto soluta esse videatur oratio, Cicero, though not referring to the Alexandrian colometries when quoting the Greek lyric poets, seems to have the same phenomenon in mind. Cicero and Dionysius both confirm that once it is removed from vivid musical performance, and deprived of any explicit metric-rhythmic organization, poetry becomes hard to tell apart—acoustically too—from prose speech.

Two further crucial points of the Fleming-Kopff reconstruction are 1. that the Lycurgan copy of Attic drama was provided with musical notation, indeed the original notation (Ps.-Plutarch, Dec. or. vit. 841F); 2. that the Alexandrian editions of poetic texts actually derived their authority and reliability directly from the Lycurgan copy, as suggested by Galen, ad Hippocr. Epid. ιιι . 1, 607, 4-14 Kühn); the correctness of the colometric articulation would be guaranteed by the concomitant preservation of the original score. P. expresses two reservations: 1. believing in the existence of an ‘original’ musical score seems to rule out any musical re-setting; 2. this hypothesis relies heavily on two main turning points, the Lycurgan copy made in Athens (330 BC) and the Alexandrian editions, whose guiding principle is not a somehow inherent and atemporal inalterability. She guesses that the State-secretary in the pseudo-Plutarchan passage might have the role of reading aloud the authorized verbal text so as to prevent actors’ interpolations; and that this official copy did not necessarily have to include original musical notation (p. 73). As regards Galen’s testimony, P. makes it clear that, though Athenian ‘official’ copies of the three tragedians’ works, perhaps the Lycurgan copy itself, must have reached Alexandria and become fundamental documents for the grammarians, it is still not explicitly attested that these copies were provided with the original musical notation (p. 78).

However, if the reason Lycurgus imposed adherence to an official master copy to safeguard against modifications of all kinds, how do we know the preservation of metre and melody was not intended as well? Surely the preservation of such elements, indispensable as they are to the architecture of theatrical poetry, must have seemed as desirable to Lycurgus as that of the verbal text itself. Admittedly it is not entirely clear to us what an “original musical score” was at all: in all likelihood it did not include the detailed melodic design, but only essential indications concerning the tunes (sometimes the rhythm) of the piece. However, by conjecturing that the master copy did not include musical specifications, P. does no more than add a further element of uncertainty to the matter.

P. then questions other aspects of the Fleming-Kopff main thesis. First of all, the close relationship between Alexandrian colometric articulation and musical scores seems to be refuted by the physical layout of most of the musical papyri, usually written in scriptio continua —to say nothing of the possibility of musical and rhythmic resetting.

In claiming that Fleming-Kopff (and Gentili-Lomiento) misleadingly link the colometries to the bare physical layout of musical papyri, P. misses the point. They just argue that the scores (possibly reproducing the original musical design) could have been an important basis for the grammarians to articulate the colometries. If colometry is something strictly related to the book, one should not properly speak of colometric function in a score, but a score could offer helpful clues to catch the metrical outline as originally conceived by the poet.

Secondly, Fleming-Kopff lose the opportunity of regarding musical papyri as a potential source of textual (then colometrical) variants (attested in both the papyrological and the medieval traditions of tragic texts) for the Alexandrian editions. On this subject P. insists that there is no reason to exclude a priori that the grammarians resorted to the musical scores they occasionally happened to possess, nor that they ignored these copies carrying musical notation as textual evidence. Indeed in the very few cases in which we can compare these scores with the manuscript tradition, musical papyri, besides providing in some cases variae lectiones, show also peculiar divergences. It is in these idiosyncratic divergences that we ought to look for any possible evidence for the different degree of rhythmic and textual re-adaptation to which lyric texts intended for performance may be susceptible. As regards P.Strasb. W.G. 304-307, “a lyric … anthology of the third century BC which, although not provided with musical notation, was nevertheless conceived for performance”, P. criticizes the reviewer, who, having noticed in this papyrus a disposition of the text comparable to the layout of other musical papyri, conjectures its straightforward derivation from a musical score.

My conjecture is in fact an attempt to explain the puzzling horizontal dashes within the lines. If we assume that the long lines in the scores have to do with the musical (and metrical) periods, a natural consequence would be that in our papyrus, the presence of horizontal dashes and/or the line-ends, would reproduce the long lines in the antigraphus, which may be the original score conceived for performance, and hence endowed with musical notation. One must admit, with P., that even if it were possible to verify this assumption, a layout allegedly reproducing metrical-melodic phrases would not necessarily be a copy of the original musical design rather than of a re-setting. As Fassino has rightly claimed in a recent study,4 we should basically distinguish, at least as regards the theatre, between two paths of tradition. The one, official and more stable, could have been that of the re-performances taking place mostly in occasion of the official festivals in Athens, where, apart from minor variations, the re-performed texts presumably kept their own (textual, musical) identity. The other and more flexible path, that of the re-uses — of re-setting and re-adaptations (in anthologies, parodies, pastiches), is certainly (in various degree) less respectful of the original. Indeed, as the work of P. and Fassino has suggested, the scanty remains of ancient scores we possess seem at any rate not to belong to the first category.

A comparative analysis of musical papyri and epigraphic evidence allows a reconstruction of some of the dynamics of re-setting and re-adaptations, well proved for Hellenistic entertainment practice in various forms, such as conversion to song of metres originally conceived for spoken or recitative delivery, or astrophic and/or monodic re-performance of originally choral (and strophic) lyric. Some epigraphic evidence situates these isolated phenomena of rhythmic and even textual re-shaping and re-arrangements in the context of Hellenistic performances. The focus is on SIG 3 648B (Satyros of Samos, 194 BC) and SEG IX 52c (the so-called Themisoninschrift, first half of the second century AD which exhibit performative dynamics present in P.Vind. and P.Leid as well. The first allows us to observe the virtuoso practice of performing monodically tragic texts originally conceived for spoken delivery. In the inscription it is said that Satyros, having won the pipe-player’s contest, offered Apollo a performance consisting of an ” aisma meta chorou Dionysus and kitharisma from the Bacchai of Euripides”. P. endorses the Winnington-Ingram interpretation, according to which Dionysus and kitharisma from the Bacchai of Euripides works as an apposition detailing in a more precise way the content of the previous generic aisma meta chorou. Satyros would be performing a “song with the ancillary involvement of a chorus, that is, he would be singing the parts of Dionysus and performing a kithara accompaniment from Euripides’ Bacchae” (p. 107). If this is the correct interpretation of the inscription, Satyros’ performance should cover at least those passages from Bacchae containing an exchange between Dionysus and the Chorus, that is the scene following the second stasimon (vv. 576-641), in other words not only passages already conceived to be sung but also lines that were originally to be spoken or delivered in recitative.

A number of scholars believe, however, that the kithara-solo refers to a purely instrumental performance separate from the previous song ( aisma). If this were the right hypothesis, we should concede that the ” kitharisma from Euripides’ Bacchae“, in order to be identifiable as such, had somehow to reproduce the original music of the Bacchae.5

In the second inscription, Themison is honoured by the Milesians for having been “the first and only one to set by himself to his own music Euripides, Sophocles and Timotheus”. Interpreting (correctly, as it seems) the expression heautoi poiein ti as meaning the same as the classical expression aph’heautou poiein ti, P. infers that in the II century AD the ‘original’ music of the three great champions of the past poetic tradition was already beyond recovery and that their texts were mere reading texts.6

This inference could be deceptive, and Themison’s inscription does not necessarily justify such an implication. The inscription could simply allude to the magnificent talent displayed by Themison in rephrasing, in a way parodying, the three great authors’ tunes, and the implied assumption would be that the original songs were well-known to the audience, who could therefore appreciate his skill.

Chapter 2 (‘The Euripidean musical papyri’, pp. 123-183) examines in detail P.Vind. G 2315 = Eur. Or. 338-44 and P.Leid. Inv. 510 = Eur. I.A. 1500?-1509, 784-793, the only surviving Euripidean papyri with musical notation.

Pöhlmann and West, who offer the most recent edition of the Vienna papyrus, claim—correctly in P.’s view—a “non-colometric reconstruction of the lineation”. Here P. discusses Marino’s recent essay which, relying on Salomon’s reconstruction of the physical layout of P.Vind.,7 argues for a close relationship between the Alexandrian and musical tradition. P. rules out Marino’s hypothesis that the sign ‘Z’ would be a colometric sign, and endorses West’s suggestion that ‘Z’ would be an instrumental sign. In addition, the fact that the papyrus’ text diverges in two cases from the medieval manuscripts seems to suggest a process of transmission involving more fluid inner dynamics (p. 160).

West’s reconstruction, however, is not incompatible with the thesis, recently proposed by Willink, of a double criterion for lineation, i.e. the ‘Z’ sign and/or the line-end, in order to divide the dochmiac measures.8 If in view of these criteria we reconsider the comparison between the layouts in P.Vind. and in codices B and P together with the layout implied in the metrical Scholia, it emerges quite neatly that the sign ‘Z’ must have been somehow linked to the metric-rhythmical patterns, and that at l. 7 the sign was probably absent, if we accurately compare it with the medieval tradition.

P. gives much importance, at ll. 5 and 6, to the instrumental signs singling out the syntagm δεινῶν πόνων (l. 343), and assumes that they suggest a rhythmic re-adaptation, probably by a Hellenistic performer, of κατέκλυσεν δεινῶν πόνων ὡς πόντου into a syncopated iambic trimeter. What is interesting here is the text of the scholium τὸ δὲ δεινῶν πόνων ἐν μέσωι ἀναπεφώνηται for which Marino postulates a direct derivation from a musical score virtually exhibiting the same notational clusters. P. convincingly argues that the scholium intends to explain the expression δεινῶν πόνων from a plain syntactical point of view, in the sense of a sentence parenthetically uttered (an exclamatory genitive, p. 152), and syntactically separate from the main clause.

In fact, Marino’s thesis of a single path of transmission from P.Vind. to the medieval copies seems in this specific case to be refuted also by the very state of the transmitted colometry, which totally ignores the instrumental signs on either side of the expression δεινῶν πόνων in the score. The words δεινῶν πόνων are isolated by instrumental notes; P. takes this to indicate the antiquity of the grammatical explanation concerning the parenthetical exclamatory genitive (p. 153). Her claim is not inconsistent, in principle, with Marino’s hypothesis, according to which the scholiast had such a score before him. All in all, it seems easier to believe that a grammarian was influenced by a score than that a musician took account of an erudite commentary. Nor is the possibility that the scholiastic explanation could have been conditioned by the score in contradiction with the assumption that the Alexandrian grammarians resorted to the scores to detect the song metrical outline.

A less uncertain instance of re-adaptation in P.’s survey is offered by P.Leid. inv. 510. P. rules out at the end of l. 10 the reading dakruoenta // once suggested by Jourdan-Hemmerdinger and accepts as certainly correct the reading dakruoenta ta-//(nusas) proposed by Van Akkeren, which would constitute an exception to the tendency, otherwise observed, to making line-end coincide with word-end. The possibility of such a correlation (line-end = word-end, i.e. colon- or verse-end) in the scores is therefore ruled out by P. on the basis of the non-observance of this criterion at l. 10.

One could admittedly suppose that this exception in our fragment, if Van Akkeren’s reading is the right one, is a mistake, especially considering the “puzzling” l. 7, a very short line, 46 letters long, where, P. must recognise, line-end coincides exactly with verse-end. “There are no easy explanations for such an exception”, she concludes (p. 170). A further puzzling case is l. 8, which at 62 letters is very long. Anyway, it is right to be cautious, especially considering l. 5, where the layout does not seem to take account of the change of speaker, unless by an internal indication in the gap. Moreover, if ll. 5-6 (1504-1509) were not conceived to be sung and the copyist had written down the musical notation only of the parts to be performed monodically, as Funghi suggests (P., p. 181, fn. 201), every consideration concerning the layout of these lines would also lose its force.

Chapter 3 (‘The ‘other’ paths of the song: Theocritus’ Idyll 29′, pp. 185-213) investigates a further typology of literary re-appropriation enacted by the Hellenistic performance culture, that leading from song to reading and, presumably, to recitation. Theocritus’ Idyll 29, in aeolic pentameters, is selected by P. as a fitting instance. In particular, it is the only idyll which consciously takes up a metre entirely neglected outside Sappho and Alcaeus. Also the subject-matter displays an intentionally archaic and archaising content, reducing to a minimum features and developments peculiar to Alexandrian poetry. Through the analysis of the relationship between the syntactic structure of the poetic text and its rhythmic-musical frame, P. tries to verify how such an explicitly declared formal adherence to the past lyric tradition can be aware of itself and reflect its own performative distance from the model (namely, the absence of music).

The focus is, in particular, on the correspondence between sense-break at the end of a syntactic segment and metrical pause at period-end. This serves to check to what extent this recurrent melodic pattern may have influenced the syntactic structure of the phrasing at that very crucial boundary represented by the end of one (distichal) strophe and the beginning of the next. As regards Sappho’s aeolic pentameters and greater asclepiads, in the second and third books of the Alexandrian edition, Hephaestion provides evidence of their distichal strophic structure. In P.’s opinion, the two-line strophic pattern underlying such poems should certainly entail a performative counterpart as well, in the sense that it should most likely mean that the melody accompanying these strophic couplets repeated itself, with a limited set of variations, every two lines.

It is somewhat surprising to find that the existence of a performative counterpart of the colometries, which has been in principle ruled out by P. as regards the Alexandrian editions of choral lyric, is then admitted for the Alexandrian metrical layout of Lesbian odes.

P. then investigates whether the syntactic articulation of Lesbian odes composed of series of aeolic pentameters and greater asclepiads reveals an underlying tendency to coincide with a distichal strophic structure. The result is that a systematic coincidence between syntactic structure and distichal scansion cannot be found. A parallel survey of the Alcaic tradition offers similar outcomes. This lack of correspondence favours an ongoing alternation and variety of the poetic rhythm without compromising the strophic nature of the poems themselves. The recurrent nature of the musical accompaniment, P. plausibly infers, was a sufficient aid for orienting the audience to an understanding of the strophic structure in performance. Moreover, in Theocritus’ Idyll 29 P. discovers traces of a strophic (distichal) inner organization. A close examination of the overall distribution of enjambments reveals a consistent regular agreement between syntactic structure and distichic scansion, inasmuch as all the enjambments to be found in the poem invariably occur at the end of the odd lines. The only instance of enjambment at the end of an even line appears between ll. 28-29 (p. 210). P. concludes that Theocritus’ evident consistency in structuring distichically the textual and syntactic frame is inherently ‘unfaithful’ to the true poetic practice displayed by Sappho and Alcaeus’ poems in aeolic pentameters, which tend to avoid a mechanical coincidence between strophic unit and syntactic structure. The reason should be sought in the different nature of the modes of performance and reception of the poetic text. In Lesbian monodic lyric, conceived for an actual performance, the strophic unit was probably underlined above all by the recurrent melodic pattern. Quite differently, when the ‘old’ traditional literary genres became obsolete and could not be reproduced any longer in the renewed Hellenistic microcosm, the only tools Theocritus could still rely on to re-create without music the distichic frame underlying Idyll 29, are those of métrique verbale stylishly cooperating with the syntactic articulation of rhetorical cola.

P.’s valuable investigation throws new light on a particular aspect of Hellenistic performance culture, and more generally on the modes of transmission, reception and re-vitalization to which tragic and lyric poetry of the past have been subjected. The analysis of P.Vind. G 2315 and of P.Leid. inv. 510, while confirming the existence of less univocal routes of reception and transmission, enriches our picture of the textual and musical tradition. Therefore, whereas the scanty remains of scores we have offer important evidence of the Hellenistic practice of re-use of classical poetry, we should not consider them so representative when we think of the Alexandrian grammarians working at their editions. On the other hand, it confirms that some points of intersection between the traditions of Bühnenexemplare and Lesebücher must certainly have existed, even if we cannot trace them back to standardized protocols once and for all. The general feeling is that P.’s study does not explain the problem behind the Fleming-Kopff hypothesis: How can colometry not have been determined by music? For we now know, from the latest papyrological findings, that colometry began before the Alexandrian grammarians’ activity. Even if P. insists that “a philological faith in the original score, as regards the performative aspects, seems to have been quite rare already in the archaic period” (p. 104, fn. 334), it is noteworthy that she admits the “relevance” of the transmitted colometry for the constitutio textus of lyric and tragic songs (p. 81 f.). What kind of ‘relevance,’ unless we ascribe it to some relation between metrical frame and music? One has to concede it: “the appealing hypothesis” of envisaging scores as the missing link between Alexandrian colization and textual theatrical tradition still “continues to raise a heated debate” (p. 4).

Just two errors to correct. First, at p. 186, fn. 2 the observation: “That ancient Greeks were perfectly aware of the ‘perverted’ nature of this phenomenon (i.e. the practice of innovating the past poetic tradition by converting lyric verses in iterated stichic series) […] is clearly shown by Heph. 58, 16 ff. Consbr. (in particular referring to the pherecratean […])” rests on a misunderstanding. What Hephaestion intends here is simply that the pherecratean as a measure is not a true stichos, i.e. a trimeter or a tetrameter, but a colon, i.e. a dimeter. Nonetheless, he says, when they are repeated in series, it is customary to call them improperly stichoi. Second, at p. 210, a further occurrence of enjambment in Theocritus’ Id. 29 is found between ll. 16-17, where the protasis is at l. 16 and the apodosis at l. 17.9

[For a response to this review by L. Prauscello, please see BMCR 2007.05.14.]


1. E. Pöhlmann, Denkmäler griechischer Musik, Nürnberg 1970.

2. Cf. also Aristides Quintilianus p. 38, 28 ff. W.-I. Cf. Prauscello, p. 13, fn. 22.

3. B. Gentili-L. Lomiento, ‘Colometria antica e filologia moderna’, QUCC 69, 2001, pp. 7-22; iid., Metrica e ritmica. Storia delle forme poetiche nella Grecia antica, Milano 2003, p. 10.

4. M. Fassino, ‘Avventure del testo di Euripide nei papiri tolemaici’, in Tradizione testuale e ricezione letteraria antica della tragedia greca, Atti del Convegno Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa 14-15 giugno 2002, Amsterdam 2003, 50-56.

5. An extended doxography at p. 106, fnn. 339-341.

6. According to the interpretation of Latte and Tabachovitz, cf. p. 112, fn. 360.

7. E. Marino, ‘Il papiro musicale dell’Oreste di Euripide e la colometria dei codici’ in B. Gentili-F. Perusino, La colometria antica dei testi poetici greci, Roma 1999, 143-156.

8. C.W. Willink, ‘Again the Orestes’ musical papyrus’, QUCC 68, 2001, 125-133.

9. I am very grateful to Alexander Afriat for having revised the English text.