BMCR 2008.07.04

L’autore e l’opera: attribuzioni, appropriazioni, apocrifi nella Grecia antica. Atti del convegno internazionale (Pavia, 27-28 maggio 2005). Memorie e atti di convegni 34

, L'autore e l'opera : attribuzioni, appropriazioni, apocrifi nella Greca antica : atti del convegno internazionale (Pavia, 27-28 maggio 2005). Memorie e atti di convegni ; 34. Pisa: ETS, 2006. 214 pages ; 24 cm.. ISBN 9788846716309 €20.00 (pb).

Table of Contents

This volume presents papers from a conference about ideas of and interrelations between ‘author’ and ‘work’ in certain troublesome kinds of Greek texts. There is no formal introduction, but the first paper by Diego Lanza, ‘L’autore e l’opera’ (11-19), provides an overview of the subject. Lanza contextualizes the historical search for the author (noting that a trend of our age is the authority granted the ‘discorso impersonale’ of science), and stresses how complicated the question of ‘authority’ is with regard to the ancient world. The lack of an author (anonymous/pseudepigraphic works), the quest for a heuretes, and issues of transmission and attribution are noted (with reference to Pseudo-Xenophon, the Corpus Hippocraticum and the Lives of the poets; a quotation from Suzanne Saïd—’l’auteur dans l’Antiquité est pour l’essentiel une construction déduite de l’oeuvre et un simple effet du texte’1—is apropos), but it is the theoretical question (the question of theory) of how one proceeds post Foucault that Lanza emphasizes that we must address. The author is not entirely dead.

Pietro Pucci, ‘Il testo di Tirteo nel tessuto omerico’ (21-41) considers ‘la morte di una certa concezione dell’autore’ (p. 24). Pucci moves from problems with critical (empirical/positivist) accounts of the ‘author’ and issues of originality, performance and context (‘L’autorità (la produttività, il messaggio, ecc.) dell’autore risiederebbe non nelle elaborazioni e intenzioni dell’Autore, ma nella comunità: anche in questo caso avremmo la morte dell’autore?’: p. 23) to a typically engaging exploration of Tyrtaean intertexts, above all in elegy fr. 12 West. Tyrtaeus’ conspicuously textualized proximity to epic may toe the community line (‘come un mero narratore, loditore’, p. 33; ‘prigioniero del modello iliadico’, p.40), but a simultaneous process of distancing and rivalry might (as in elegy 10 West; and particularly within the sympotic arena) rather renegotiate the author as actor, and suggest a radically different ‘I’ model from the dominant model of epic.

Bernard Mezzadri, ‘Corinnos est-il l’auteur de l’ Iliade ?’ (43-53), acknowledges the irony of using the Suda as a source for questions of authority. Mezzadri explores the Suda’s ‘élucubration’ that one Korinnos was the first, while the Trojan War was still going on, to write the Iliad ( καὶ πρῶτος γράψας τὴν Ἰλιάδα), using writing skills gained under Palamedes’ tuition ( κ 2091). This entertaining paper explores this attribution, and investigates the ambiguous status of writing, and the mythologizing of writing and the author.

Wolfgang Rösler, ‘La raccolta di Teognide: “il più antico libro dimostrabilmente edito dall’autore stesso”. Considerazioni su una tesi di Richard Reitzenstein’ (55-67), considers the limited reception of Reitzenstein’s claim that the seal of Theognis is set upon ‘das älteste nachweisbar vom Autor selbst edierte Buch’ ( Epigramm und Skolion: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der alexandrinischen Dichtung [Giessen, 1893], p. 266f.). Rösler investigates the convictions underlying Reitzenstein’s conception of a pre-Hellenistic ‘publication’ of a form of Theognidea in use at symposia (for example, Reitzenstein privileges an unbroken succession of sympotic poetry from archaic to Hellenistic times), and explores the authorizing relationship between author/pseudepigrapher, man/collection within (and occasionally beyond) the Reitzenstein purview.In a paper rich in examples, Fabio Roscalla, ‘Storie di plagi e di plagiari’ (69-102), discusses opportunities, reasons and responses to plagiarism, as well as its ‘ritualization’ as a topos. Roscalla develops a vocabulary of the degrees of borrowing, drawing on such sources as Diagoras’ reaction to his lifted paean (Suda δ 523), Aeschines’ poverty (D. L. 2.60), the Alexandrian περὶ κλοπῶν genre, Vitruvius’ censoriousness at the start of De architectura 7, the thieving Thestorides of the Pseudo-Herodotean Life of Homer, Galen’s De libris propriis (‘Quanto di Galeno contenevano quei testi? Fino a che punto potevano legittimamente essere considerati suoi?’, p. 78), the cases presented in/by Plato’s Menexenus and the Seventh Letter, and questions of attribution in the philosophical schools—where plagiarism is intimately bound up with issues of authority, appropriation and transmission. He concludes by examining the fascinating subject of the dubious paternity of the Atlantis myth in Timaeus.

Luciano Canfora, ‘Falsi demostenici e storia del corpus‘ (103-17) examines the circumstances under which falsifications become embedded in collections of ‘authentic’ works. Canfora focuses on the Anaximenean controversy played out in Didymus’ Peri Demosthenous. Anaximenes’ bad reputation makes him an ideal candidate for inclusion in this volume.2

Mario Vegetti, ‘La letteratura socratica e la competizione fra generi letterari’ (119-31), investigates the preposterously numerous logoi sokratikoi, suggesting that we examine them as a ‘genere letterario militante’. Delving into the ‘endogenesis’ of the genre, he explores the circumstances under which the logoi flourished: the prestigious ‘author’, obliging enough to have written nothing and died heroically, provided fertile ground for his followers’ competitive logorrhoea. Vegetti ends his excellent paper with a discussion of biographical versus doxographical categorization of these works.

Cesare Marelli, ‘L’autore come personaggio: l’Euripide di Aristofane’ (133-53), examines how Aristophanes constructs the character of Euripides-the-author. Marelli’s delineation of the metatheatricality of the process of capturing ‘lo spirito euripideo’ culminates in a felicitous close reading of Acharnians 395-406. The relationship between Thesmophoriazusae and Bacchae is also the subject of a thoughtful discussion of paratragedy, paracomedy and parody per se.

Biographies such as the Lives of Homer or the poets lend themselves not only to the exploration of ancient perceptions of the author/work relationship but also to author/work issues as they apply to the accretive texts. Barbara Graziosi, ‘Il rapporto tra autore ed opera nella tradizione biografica greca’ (155-74), examines a number of these works: ‘Vediamo allora che l’interferenza tra la vita e l’opera agisce in un senso soltanto: sulla base dei poemi si possono dedurre o inventare le debolezze, gli scandali e più in generale le vite dei loro autori, ma l’informazione biografica non porta a un giudizio sull’opera. Sembra piuttosto che il poeta delle Vite abbia la funzione di sottolineare per contrasto il valore della sua opera’ (p.174). Graziosi’s use of comparative issues in modern biographical confabulations of author and text (Heidegger; de Man; Rushdie) works well, and she is to be congratulated for attempting to propel debate on ancient biography beyond the stasis induced by twentieth-century recognition of its essentially scavenged nature.

Jaume Pòrtulas, ‘Crizia di Atene e la leggenda archilochea’ (175-91), begins with the perfect example of biography’s autoréopera paradigm: Critias’ censure of Archilochus for revealing through his work that he was a low-born, penurious, adulterous, ill-speaking, luxury-loving coward (Aelian VH 10.13). Pòrtulas asks the right questions about the internal sources for this summary account of Archilochus’ ‘life’, but suggests that we do not use Critias’ presence simply to highlight aspects of cultural difference between different times and places or to figure the ‘paradigma biografistico’. Pòrtulas would see the passage as a key to a more nuanced assessment of how Critias interacts with other authors in, for example, fr. 5 West, where the Theognidean intertext (the sphragis) prompts us to consider the clash between public and private played out in the liféworks of the sophist-author/tyrant-author.

Giampiera Raina, ‘Nella biblioteca di Luciano. Spigolature dal De saltatione‘ (193-214) examines Lucian’s cultural baggage with an eye to issues of appropriation and originality. Raina examines the extent to which Lucian accessed the works he cites at first-hand or from anthologies. Against a background of contemporary issues of authorial imitation (mimesis), emulation (zelosis; cf. κακοζηλία at Salt. 82) and plagiarism, Raina turns to De saltatione (itself subject to authorial speculation) and looks, in particular, at Lucian’s predations on Aristotle’s Poetics and other rhetorical works, and at sources for his Polykleitan ‘gleanings’. This volume will appeal to anyone interested in how the author is constructed in and from Greek works. I have some minor niggles: bibliography is incorporated into the footnotes; there is no index; some chapters translate the ancient languages, others do not. The scope of the title was perhaps optimistic (but symptomatic of the genre). The blurb suggests that this volume is theoretically engaged with issues ‘poste a suo tempo da Foucault’: apart from the papers of Pucci and Graziosi, it seemed rather traditional. That is not necessarily a criticism. Whatever the post-Foucauldian answers may be to the question of ‘che cos’è un autore?’, this volume demonstrates that the question remains as relevant as ever.


1. S. Saïd (2001) ‘De l’homme à l’oeuvre et retour? Lectures de l’auteur dans l’antiquité’, in S. Dubel and S. Rabau (eds.) Fiction d’auteur? Le discourse biographique sur l’auteur de l’Antiquité (Paris), 9-15 [p.13].

2. The interested reader can now refer to P. Harding (2006) Didymos: On Demosthenes (Oxford)—see BMCR 2007.04.16. One resource available to this chapter might have been C. Gibson (2002) Interpreting a Classic: Demosthenes and his ancient commentators (Berkeley: University of California Press)—see BMCR 2003.04.25.