BMCR 2007.10.44

Hesiod: The Shield, Catalogue of Women, Other Fragments. Loeb Classical Library 503

, , , Hesiod. The Loeb classical library ; 57, 503. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007. 2 volumes ; 17 cm.. ISBN 0674996224. $24.00.

Like an aging bridge or highway the Loeb Classical Library has been undergoing needed renovations, revising outdated editions in light of scholarly advances over the last several decades. The completion of Hesiod for the series by Glenn Most (henceforth M.) at last renders obsolete Evelyn-White’s (E.-W.) 1914 Loeb containing the same material. The series’ treatment of early Greek hexameter is now vastly improved. E.-W.’s omnibus edition piled together the Theogony, Works and Days, the Shield, the extant fragments, The Homeric Hymns, and all the “Homerica.” Now the Homeric and other early epic materials appropriately have their own two volumes edited by M. L. West,1 and Hesiod has two, edited by M.2 Students of early Greek epic have many reasons to be pleased about this major overhaul, which has more than doubled the pages of material readily available: E.-W. was 650 pp.; the four new volumes combined run to 1525 pp. This expansion is due not only to the addition of testimonia, lives, and the greater space justly devoted to the fragments of post-Homeric epic, but also to the steady accumulation in the twentieth century of papyrus fragments of Hesiod’s lost works, chief among them the Catalogue of Women.

This volume thus gives breathing room to all that is known of Hesiod’s many other (attributed) works besides the fuller, more famous Th. and WD, which occupy the first volume. The Shield comes first, then the Catalogue of Women and fragments of the other Hesiodic attributions, arranged into 306 newly organized fragments. The Shield is translated into clear prose following the model of volume 1; the Catalogue and other fragments are glossed with line by line translations. M. includes a concordance that cross-references his new numeration both with that of Merkelbach and West’s Fragmenta Hesiodea ( henceforth FH) and of M. Hirschberger’s (H. hereafter) numbering of the Catalogue fragments in her 2004 commentary.3 Each fragment has been given its own brief app. crit. (a welcome feature since most of the papyri depend in some degree for their sense on the educated guesses of many scholars and editors). Lastly, the index is comprehensive of both volumes, making it the one to consult when searching for things throughout the Hesiodic corpus.

Certain small features unfortunately give this second volume the feel of an appendix. One is the choice not to reprint from volume 1 at least those bibliography items relevant to volume 2 (H.’s book, for example, although it is used throughout, is not included in the list of abbreviations.) More glaring is the absence in this volume of an introduction to these fragmentary works, the logic of their arrangement, and the editorial approach. For such orientation one must turn back to volume 1 for introduction to these complicated poetic ostraka (pp. xlvii-lxiii). This choice of distribution will doubtless make the book a bit less accessible to students and slightly more taxing on scholars’ patience. It would have seemed more appropriate to introduce these poems in this volume, following the example of other new Loebs like those of the Greek playwrights. In a similar vein, focused browsing of the text would have been greatly facilitated if in the Table of Contents the “Other Fragments” had been further subdivided by the several poem titles (the Wedding of Keyx, Melampodia, etc.), as they are in the text itself and in the contents of FH. A last minor complaint is that a more Hellenic, less Latinate, transliteration of names was not used (e.g. we read Cronus instead of Kronos, Aethon for Aithon, Oechalia for Oichalia, Pylus for Pylos; ae for ai, oe for oi, and -us for -os are used consistently throughout4).

These small quibbles aside, it’s hard to not be impressed by, and excited about, the advance in Hesiodic scholarship this book represents. The Shield of course is part of the manuscript tradition of Hesiod and there are few surprises here. The text is based, with small divergences, on the OCT and the translation is excellent overall. The OCT has some 46 lines bracketed as suspect for one reason or another, nearly 10% of the poem; M. takes a more conservative approach and marks none of these lines except one (l. 298, a repeat of l. 283), while noting the various objections in the app. crit. Similarly he prints the problematic ἐφοιτῶν of l. 212, but in daggers and without translating. One either likes the Shield or doesn’t5 — I happen to like it — and for those who do M.’s smooth rendition does the poem justice.6

But the true grail of Hesiodic fragment studies is without doubt the Catalogue of Women, which occupies over half of this volume. For well over forty years Martin West — originally in collaboration with R. Merkelbach — has labored to keep pace with, and bring order to, the constantly changing mosaic of papyrus scraps attesting to the Catalogue.7 M. now carries the torch forward with this most widely accessible presentation of the Catalogue to date. Read in tandem with West’s The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (1985, hereafter HCW), it quickly becomes apparent how much care, thought, and labor M. has put into this most recent iteration of reconstructed order. The results are impressive, reflecting the view that has become increasingly clear: the poet(s) of the Catalogue applied considerable creative artistry in stitching together a plethora of epichoric hero narratives into a Panhellenic vision of genealogical unity. In one sweep, divided into five books, the poem traced a map of the major heroic families who lived in the age between those two great kala kaka (“beautiful evils”), Pandora and Helen. No doubt this architectural achievement is what attracted the admiration of later poets, scholars, and scholar-poets.

Whether or not composed by Hesiod,8 the Catalogue was a major poem in antiquity. The Ehoiai tradition was an important part of how the legendary past was imagined and performed in archaic Greece, and, to judge just from its many apparent traces in Ovid’s Met., for example, and its probable use in the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus, the Catalogue continued to influence poets and writers right through Hellenistic and Roman times. However, doubtless because of its sad state of sparagmos, until recently critical attention has been restricted to a handful of devoted scholars, among them Merkelbach, West, Stiewe, Treu, Casanova, and Janko.9 But these numbers are increasing, as evidenced by H.’s commentary, for example, and the 2005 volume of conference papers edited by R. Hunter. Now the addition of this volume to these few important seeds of new critical work augurs well for the Catalogue’s future. The field is changing in other ways too: free access to papyrus collections via electronic images online (e.g. the online Oxyrhynchus collection inaugurated in the fall of 2004) is making it far easier for more scholars to engage directly the sources of these texts. Given such developments the Catalogue might soon gain a rightful place somewhere on the syllabi of, if not undergraduate, at least graduate courses on Hesiod and the fruitful “Hesiodic” branches of early Greek epos.

Space precludes a full listing of differences between FH and this edition. Suffice it to say that fragment junkies will find plenty of minutiae here to satisfy their cravings. M’s reorganization has been carried out with careful attention to on-going debates about the poem’s reconstruction. Naturally there have been major and minor detractions from West’s assignments and positioning of the fragments, and M.’s work generally takes account of these differences of opinion.10 Thus his changes to the standard FH numbering, though many, are hardly capricious. Indeed, several of them reflect West’s own later thinking, articulated in HCW or elsewhere. H.’s new commentary is also a regular influence.11 First, 132 or so FH numbers and/or fragments have been retired, while some subdivided numbers (e.g. 10a-e) now have discrete numbers or have been distributed differently. (Even so, M. still employs lettered subdivisions, more liberally in fact than FH) Many deleted numbers were too fragmentary to yield anything useful and had already been exempted from the OCT selection (FH fr. 44-8, 55-6, 67a, 79-86, 88-90, 92-120). Also dropped by M. are all but one (FH fr. 364) of the fragments labeled spurious in FH (fr. 365-413). On the other hand, two passages about Aktaion (fr. 162 & 305) are included, following H. and arguments by Casanova and Janko among others.12

A stated principle of M. (in the volume 1 introduction, p. lxxiii-lxxiv) was to group together both direct and indirect witnesses about a given mythological subject. A consequence of this choice is that long fragments are interrupted for the inclusion of other fragments. Thus fr. 11 and 12 occur within the long fr. 10, fr. 20a-b comes in the middle of fr. 19, fr. 70-71 immediately follows the first line of fr. 69, and fr. 91, 99, and 156 interrupt fr. 90, 98, and 155, respectively. Nevertheless, every instance makes sense in context, is well marked, and does not cause too much confusion.

It should be noted that the greatest drawback to the new ordering is the practical difficulty it poses to consulting the fragments when following the arguments of West in HCW, for example, or of the various authors in Hunter (2005) or, for that matter, any number of other articles on the fragments that have referenced them by their FH number for the last four decades. It’s a small matter perhaps, but a real one, and the only way around the occasional frustration is quickly to get in the habit of checking the concordance first to find out where the fragment you’re seeking now resides. Nevertheless, on balance Most is absolutely right to have reorganized the fragments, since the provisional order of FH and the OCT 3rd edition no longer even reflects West’s own thinking. Thus M.’s efforts to rearrange them in response to new developments and thinking far outweigh any such practical side-effects.

Up to fr. 37 M. tracks FH numbers pretty closely. After that point all bets are off. M.’s first big change is to move fragments about Athamas’ offspring by his three wives — except Atalanta who begins book 2 — to the end of book 1, and to move the fragments about the offspring of Aiolos’ remaining three sons, Perieres, Deion, and Sisyphos, into book 2. These changes reflect arguments made by West in HCW (cf. pp. 64-9, 72-6). The problems surrounding the two variants on Asklepios’ mother — Arsinoe and Koronis — also lead to changes: M.-W. 59 & 60, those possibly referring to Koronis, have been demoted to fragments of uncertain position (now 164 and 239 respectively). These examples should stand as representative of how M.’s ordering responds to and integrates recent work on the Catalogue — with heavy dependence on West — and as a result provides a highly serviceable mockup for others to base their own (guess) work on for some time to come. That is, until such time as new finds reveal to us more of the original text.

Within the fragments, M. takes FH as his solid base, but here too he has clearly considered each of the many conjectures and supplements available from different critics and used his own judgment. Sometimes he prefers a supplement from H. or another critic over ones offered by West in FH (e.g. at fr. 1.14 M. prints Stiewe’s μ[οι γενεήν τε καὶ ἀγλαὰ τέκνα over FH’s Μ[οῦσαι, and in the next line replaces West’s παρελ[έχατ’ Ὀλύμπιος εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς with H.’s παρέλ[εκτο πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε). M. is also more liberal in his acceptance of conjectures to fill out lines than FH, perhaps in order to suggest more of the poem’s (hypothetical) content in translation. A good example of this tendency is fr. 1.3-4, which contain conjectures attributed to Merkelbach and West, respectively. However, neither line’s supplement is found in their various editions — not FH nor the OCT 3rd edition, nor (as far as I could tell) HCW, nor does H. print them. 13 Many other examples could be cited.

Along similar lines, M. sometimes prints more lines of a reference for context, which is helpful, where FH prints only the sentence containing the Hesiod citation (e.g. fr. 37, 52, 53a, 55) or just a reference to the citation (e.g. fr. 107). Fragments of Philodemus have been a fruitful source of Hesiod references, and M. has been able to take fuller account of these than FH, due to recent work by Obbink and the Philodemus Project team. So for example, fr. 51 and 56 are Philodemus fragments only referenced in FH, and fr. 71 is a much better preserved text than that printed as fr. 43c in FH. (See also fr. 83, 99, 151, 157, 161b.)

Harvard University Press has done a good job of setting a difficult text, with only a few typos that I noticed. Fr. 10.10 is missing a ] at end-line. The printing of sublinear dots for missing letters in and outside of brackets lacks consistency: often it is printed correctly as dots really below line, but just as often the dots are normal in-line periods. The instances are unfortunately too frequent to list.

What is bracketed in translation does not always match the printed text. At fr. 41 “much- cheering” and “ever be destroyed” in ll.6-7 should be in brackets. The translation of fr. 47.29 reads “unequal for the two of them,” which should read “unequal [for the two of them].” Fr. 69 has a few troubles. At l. 18 the translation reads “Sisyphus he deceived,]” although the name does not appear in the supplemented text. At l. 60 the translation brackets [strife] when eris is extant in the text. At l. 68 supplemented δ[ίκηι is not bracketed in the translation. l.92 should probably not have a period at the end. At fr. 77.3 “begot” should be in brackets; so also “Danae in the halls” in l. 13. At fr. 90.16 “mightily” should not be bracketed. Footnote 34, printed on p. 169, should be on p. 171. At fr. 117.9 “mingling] in the desire of Heracles’ force” should probably be “in love with.”

The corrigenda in the index noted by Janko in his review of volume 1 remain in this volume’s index. (Janko’s note that the bibliography to v.1 missed J.S. Clay’s Hesiod’s Cosmos was incorrect; it is listed under “General studies” on p. lxxx.)

The bottom line: libraries and other institutions will need to add this volume to their Loeb collections (along with volume 1 and West’s two volumes on early epic); individuals interested in Hesiod and/or early Greek poetry will want to add it near the top of their wish lists. Some day soon a great archaeological hermaion will necessitate a new editio maior of the Catalogue and fragments. Until that day, M.’s volume provides excellent updated access to the tantalizing remains of an important classic.


1. M. L. West (ed.), Homeric Hymns, Homeric Apocrypha, Lives of Homer (Cambridge MA 2003), and M. L. West (ed.), Greek Epic Fragments (Cambridge 2003).

2. G.W. Most (ed.), Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia (Cambridge MA 2006).

3. M. Hirschberger, Gynaikon Katalogos und Megalai Ehoiai: Ein Kommentar zu den Fragmenten zweier hesiodeischer Epen (Munich 2004). The concordance refers to West’s most recent fragment numbers in the OCT 3rd edition (1990) and, for the fragments not included there, to the original FH numbers.

4. Except that Pylos appears at Sh. l. 360.

5. Richard Martin calls it “pulp epic” and reads it favorably through the lens of a “trash aesthetic,” making a case also for the whole poem’s inclusion in the Catalogue of Women (Martin in R. Hunter (ed.), The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions, Cambridge 2005).

6. A couple of word choices, however, did raise an eyebrow: “soul” for phresi instead of “mind” or “heart” in (l. 30)—it is “spirit” just above in l. 28; “untouchable hands” for cheires aaptoi (l. 75) verges on comic oxymoron; “spots like marks” for stigmata d’ hos (l. 166) doesn’t make much sense; “piercingly” for ligu in reference to the Muses’ singing (l. 206); “long claws were under her hands” (l. 266) is literal for upesan but doesn’t give a very satisfying sense. If “lurked beneath” (LSJ II.3) is a sense only attested later, might the image be spatial, i.e. “hung down from”?

7. FH came out in 1967 (reprinted 1999). The OCT with selected fragments appeared in 1970, was revised in 1983, and again in 1990, each time in light of new fragments and critical work.

8. On which controversy smolders: on statistical grounds of diction Janko (1982) dated the Catalogue as coeval with the other Hesiodic poems, and he along with others continues to support an early date (cf. e.g., his review of M.’s volume 1, BMCR 2007.03.31). On the other hand, West (HCW 130-37) marshaled a variety of thematic points to date the poem between 580-520 B.C. I’m inclined to the position that, of the two, West’s evidence is the shakier foundation for dating.

9. For bibliography, in addition to FH, see Hunter 2005, and H.’s bibliography is particularly copious.

10. K. Heilinger (in “Der Freierkatalog der Helena im hesiodeischen Frauenkatalog I,” Museum Helveticum [1983] 40: 19-34) placed the long fragment on Helen’s suitors in book 1, instead of West’s more generally followed book 5. Another crucial arena of debate concerns the relationship between the Catalogue and the Megalai Ehoiai, and what fragments belong to each (cf. D’Alessio, “The Megalai Ehoiai: a survey of the fragments,” pp. 176-216 in Hunter 2005).

11. I have been able to consult Hirschberger long enough to verify this point, but not long enough to conduct an exhaustive comparison of her work and this volume.

12. R. Janko, “P. Oxy. 2509: Hesiod’s Catalogue on the Death of Actaeon,” Phoenix 38.4: 299-307 (1984); A. Casanova, “Il mito di Atteone nel Catalogo Esiodea,” RFIC 97 (1969) 31-46.

13. Nor do the authors in Hunter 2005 appear to know these supplements to fr. 1.3-4. To be clear, this point is not meant as a criticism of M.’s source for the conjectures. Rather, it is a conspicuous example of M.’s preference for printing supplements when they help fill out extremely lacunose fragments.