BMCR 2008.01.03

Stratone di Sardi. Epigrammi. Testo critico, traduzione e commento. Hellenica, 24

, , Epigrammi. Hellenica ; 24. Alessandria: Edizione dell'Orso, 2007. xiv, 492 pages ; 24 cm.. ISBN 9788876949678. €60.00 (pb).

While most epigrammatists of the Imperial Period and Late Antiquity are still lacking a separate edition and/or commentary prepared with modern criteria,1 Strato of Sardis has been lucky enough to be the object of three commentaries in a decade: González Rincón (G.R.) in 1996, Steinbichler (S.) in 1998 and Floridi (F.) in 2007.2 In the book under review, F. has taken wise advantage of the qualities and weaknesses of her predecessors to produce the standard edition of this piquant poet, the author of about a hundred homosexual erotic epigrams transmitted by the Greek Anthology. F. offers a readable synthetic introduction (pp. 1-55); a new edition of the text, based on a fresh collation of the manuscripts, with facing Italian translation (pp. 57-115); a detailed line-by-line commentary (pp. 117-429); bibliography (pp. 331-457), and useful indexes (pp. 459-492).3 Questions of detail apart, this is an excellent book, a must for those interested in the epigrammatic genre, but also illuminating for those working on a wide variety of topics, such as history of sexuality or daily life in Antiquity.

Introduction. Regarding the complex question of Strato’s chronology (pp. 1-13), F. agrees with most recent scholars in placing him in the second half of the first or the first half of the second century, with a slight preference for the Flavian period. This position is reinforced by the study of the poet’s literary technique (pp. 13-24), as F. aptly stresses the relationship with that of the scoptic epigram: G.R. had already produced an interesting analysis (perhaps over-influenced by Cairns’ classic book) of the topics used by Strato, but he failed to relate them to the immediate tradition of the epigrammatic genre; from F.’s exposition, the debt of Strato to the scoptic epigram becomes clearer; F.’s definition of him as a “satiric and pederotic poet” is correct. The full description of Strato’s metrics (pp. 24-38) provides useful material for future comparison with other poets; from F.’s thorough study, I would draw attention to her conclusion that Strato’s metrics are looser when dealing with colloquial or prosaic language, that is, when the poet needs to introduce new words into a highly codified genre. On pp. 38-55 F. gives a complete account of the sources for the text. G.R. and S. based their text entirely on printed editions (G.R. on Beckby, S. on Aubreton) and did not inspect manuscripts. F. has conducted an examination of the entire manuscript tradition, focusing specially in the apographa of the Palatine manuscript (π on which a great wealth of corrections and conjectures have been accumulated since the “discovery” of P. Following Aubreton’s fundamental work on the apographa,4 she classifies them into three groups: a “German-Netherlandish” tradition preserved in the work of Sylburg and Scaliger; a “French” tradition, deriving from Saumaise, and enhanced by Bouhier and Guyet; and a combined tradition, in which both great families are merged.

Edited text. F. includes 105 epigrams in her edition; a specific chapter in the introduction, even a very brief one, regarding attribution would have been helpful to the reader; but the discussion, if needed, is conducted in the introduction preceding the commentary on each poem. F. considers dubia AP 11.117 (81 F.), AP 12.239 (80 F.), App.Anth. 3.171 Cougny (104 F.), App.Anth. 4.67 Cougny (103 F.), App.Anth. 4.73 Cougny (76 F.), and Cramer, Anecdota Gr. p. 388 (58 F.). spuria are APl 213 (102 F.) and App.Anth. 4.72 Cougny (105 F.).5 I agree with F.’s reasons to doubt the ascription of these epigrams to Strato, but may suggest that 58, 103 and 104 qualify better as spuria (what is the difference from 105?) than as dubia, or more precisely as perdubia since the Sylloge Parisina does not bear any ascription. Spurium perhaps might be reserved for those epigrams ascribed to Strato by the manuscripts, but not accepted by modern scholars (in this case, this means just 102).

As expected, F.’s text is closer to Aubreton than to Beckby. New to F.’s text are the following readings: AP 12.8.1 (8 F.) συνανθοπλοκοῦντα, a private suggestion by Colin Austin, in a new attempt to avoid hiatus (as good a conjecture as any hapax can be); AP 12.15.1 (13 F.) ἔδακεν σανὶς, also suggested by Austin (a very clever improvement by transposition); AP 12.248.4 (90 F.) ἀρέσαι, a correction by the late Professor Slings (a welcome improvement of the syntax). In the use of cruces, F. has been more conservative than her predecessors, both editors and commentators: she obelizes AP 12.3.3 ( λάλου), 4 ( κωκω), and AP 12.209.4 ( φίλημα); this is the right procedure, I think, when conjectures can be discussed at length in the commentary, as F. does, and the author is not particularly pressed to produce a text apt for translation — as the authors of uncommented editions are. As for F.’s translation, I am of course not the right person to compare it with other Italian renderings of the Anthology (Pontani’s and Paduano’s have been in everybody’s hands), but I find it very close to the text and useful as a first look into F.’s interpretation, a good complement to the commentary.

Apparatus. F. has enhanced the apparatus with more conjectures than those collected by Aubreton or Beckby, most of them from the apographa of P; nevertheless, F.’s choice to ascribe conjectures on the apographa to proper names, just as Aubreton did,6 is a little misleading, as she does not explain the basis for those ascriptions: what does “Sylburg”, “Bouhier” or the ubiquitous “Saumaise” mean? From the messy transmission of the apographa, most of them owned successively by many scholars, could we be sure who the author of a given conjecture was? When we find “Saumaise”, for instance, as the author, should we presume that the reading is transmitted by the entire “French” tradition of the apographa? Perhaps just noting in which apographa the conjectures are transmitted would be a safer and more precise procedure, at least until someone finds the true apographus Salmasianus (if such a manuscript really exists).

Commentary. On each epigram, F. gives a brief summary of the contents, an account of cultural and/or literary relationships, and a line-by-line commentary; F. avoids excessive narration, and provides enough discussion of the context, metrical and lexical questions, realia, and textual problems. A random comparison with other commentaries and articles on specific poems confirms F.’s philological acumen and, as a noteworthy virtue, her caution when dealing with unsolved questions. F.’s commentary is far more extensive and detailed than G.R.’s, with which she tends to agree — the absence of any “anxiety of influence” is an admirable quality of F’.s work —, so the reader can benefit greatly from a quick look at G.R. and then F.’s exhaustive treatment.

The bibliography, complete and compiled with care, is divided into two large sections (“Stratonian bibliography” and “Other works”); one would have expected the abbreviations (included in “Other works”) to be placed at the beginning of the book, but this is just a matter of choice.

The book is well typeset and produced; there are a few errata worthy of notice: in the conspectus siglorum (p. 57) “Sylloge I” — just “I” perhaps would be better — should be placed in the left column and “Palat. Vat. gr. 128” in the right column; in the apparatus: AP 12.4.7 (4 F.; p. 60) the reading printed in the text appears as second in the apparatus — from the commentary we know F.’s choice — ; in AP 12.10.1 (10 F.; p. 62) the dicolon separating Hecker’s and “Bouhier’s” conjectures is missing; in the bibliography (p. 446), Gygli-Wyss is misplaced.


1. Among imperial epigrammatists, we have D.L. Page’s commentary on Rufinus (Cambridge, 1978) — now critically updated in some aspects by R. Hoeschele, Verrückt nach Frauen. Der Epigrammatiker Rufin, München, 2006. Although it is a valuable work, J.B. Rozema’s dissertation on Lucillius (Madison, 1971) was never published as a book. H. Schulte’s books on Nicarchus and Ammianus (Trier, 1999 and 2004) are too brief and dependent on printed editions. For late antique epigrammatists the only valuable commentary is Zerwess’ (partially manuscript) dissertation on Palladas (Tubingen, 1959). Regarding Justinianean epigram, the most recent contributions are those by Madden (Hildesheim, 1996) on Macedonius Consul, and Tissoni (Alessandria, 2002) on Christodorus; we can use with some confidence the works by Viansino on Agathias (Torino, 1967) and Paul the Silentiary (Torino, 1963), and a little less that of Schulte on Julian of Egypt (Trier, 1990). I am aware of a new commentary on Paul the Silentiary in preparation (by C. De Stefani); Gregory of Nazianzus’ epigrams will be included in the complete editions of his works in preparation (for CCSG by Simelidis; for CUF by Tuilier and Bady), and I am myself working on a commentary on Palladas, but there is still a great bulk of almost unexplored epigrams from these periods; the huge corpus of anonyma, for instance, deserves a detailed study.

2. M. González Rincón, Estratón de Sardis. Epigramas. Introducción, edición revisada, traducción y comentario, Sevilla, 1996; W. Steinbichler, Die Epigramme des Dichters Straton von Sardis. Ein Beitrag zum griechischen paiderotischen Epigramm, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, usw., 1998.

3. There is also an interesting English foreword by K.J. Gutzwiller (pp. IX-XIV).

4. Since Aubreton’s articles are a posthumous, in some respects unfinished work, we are not even certain that the list of apographa is complete; a book-length investigation on the apographa is therefore badly needed.

5. G.R.’s commentary (100 epigrams) excludes those edited by Cougny and Cramer.

6. Aubreton himself doubted this; see the introduction to his CUF edition ( Anthologie grecque. Anthologie palatine. Livre XII, Paris, 1994), p. XXIV, n. 3: “l’apparat critique de notre édition notera “Saumaise”, selon la tradition […] bien que nous n’ayons pas pu retrouver l’origine exacte de ces attributions”.