BMCR 2008.09.17

Corpus rhetoricum. Préambule à la rhétorique, Anonyme; Progymnasmata, Aphthonios. En annexe: Progymnasmata, Pseudo-Hermogène. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque 460

, , Corpus rhetoricum. Collection des universités de France, Série grecque ; 460, 470, 485, 491, 507 [and others]. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2008. volumes : illustrations ; 20 cm.. ISBN 9782251005430 €52.00.

I had just received my review copy of Michel Patillon’s book and, the name of Aphthonios having come up in our conversation, showed it to one of my colleagues working on rhetoric in Late Antiquity. “Oh”, he said, “he really is first-rate.” “Who?” I asked, somewhat surprised, “Aphthonios?” “No, Patillon!” This assessment is certainly applicable to the book by Patillon under review.

This is the first volume of an edition of the following corpus of rhetorical treatises transmitted in about twenty principal manuscripts: (1) Prooemium in artem rhetoricam (anon.); (2) Aphthonios, Progymnasmata; (3) Hermogenes, De statibus; (4) Annotatio et synopsis artis de inventione (2 parts); (5) pseudo-Hermogenes, De inventione; (6) Prolegomena artis de ideis; (7) Annotationes variae in artem de ideis; (8) Hermogenes, De ideis; (9) pseudo-Hermogenes, De methodo sollertiae; (10) Synopsis artis de ideis; (11) Maximos, De insolubilibus obiectionibus; (12) Methodus ad provinciarum praefectos oratione accipiendos. The above corpus is not fully present in any one of the principal manuscripts, but Patillon argues persuasively for an archetype containing all twelve treatises dating from the end of the fifth century A.D. Note that the Progymnasmata of ps.-Hermogenes edited at the end of the present volume does not form part of the hypothetical corpus. Because two important 10th century mss. of the so-called corpus rhetoricum add the work, Patillon saw fit to include it here.

Patillon is one of the leading experts on the rhetorical tradition associated with Hermogenes. He has earlier shown the relevance of Hermogenes to modern literary theory ( La Théorie du discours chez Hermogène le rhéteur, Paris 1988), as well as produced a fine edition of Aelius Theon’s Progymnasmata ( Les Belles Lettres 1997). Accordingly, the footnotes and complementary notes in the present edition are what one would expect: helpful, pertinent and comprehensive within their necessarily limited scope. I was particularly interested in his remarks on the spirit of playfulness in the Prooemium (see p. 9 ff.) as well as his appreciation for the didactic acuity of these teachers from antiquity (passim). For the sake of more general readers, one would like to have seen more emphasis placed on the widespread and remarkably longlived influence of Aphthonios’ Progymnasmata from the fourth to the eighteenth century of our era, but the interested reader can easily find references here to works dealing with that. All in all, Patillon’s introductions in the present volume represent a substantial contribution to the study of Greek rhetoric in the Imperial and Late Antique periods. Yet, what I most appreciated in the work as a whole was the very conception of the editorial project which, when completed, will give us the texts for an entire curriculum in rhetorical training from Late Antiquity. This represents an insightful approach to the editing of similar collections and will no doubt provide much impetus for future research.

The book begins with a long introduction (pp. V-LXXVI) describing the composition of the corpus and the interrelationships of the principal textual witnesses. Editions and translations of the first two treatises along with ps.-Hermogenes follow, each with its own extensive introduction. The translation is accompanied by footnotes, the complementary notes to all three texts being placed at the end of the volume. (These endnotes, often quite as short as the footnotes, are included in the same numbering as the latter, which is a little confusing, since they are simply missing from the foot of the page — one has to remember to look for them at the end; I prefer an earlier system in the same series where the reader is reminded each time to turn to the complementary notes at the end). The three texts were all previously edited by Hugo Rabe in different volumes of Rhetores graeci, but Patillon has carried out an entirely new collation and edition with his customary industry and skill, though guided in many important ways by Rabe’s excellent editorial work. All of this has been done in accordance with the usual high quality controls of the editions of Les Belles Lettres.

The stemmatic relationships are complex for the first two treatises, less so for ps.-Hermogenes. Patillon supplies a great deal of information on the manuscripts, but, due to the general demands of the series in which one cannot expect to find a fully detailed discussion, it was at times difficult for me to follow the reasoning. I found it particularly difficult to assess his arguments concerning the y-family (cf. stemma, pp. χχχι not least the branch under the hyparchetype Va 1 Π (cf. pp. XLIX ff.). The denomination Va 1 Π is confusing at first glance: it refers to the first part of an exant ms (Va) and a lost ms. ( Π) from which would descend a no longer extent corpus Π which in turn is the source for the extant corpus P represented primarily in mss. Pa and Pc. The present reviewer did not have the time or resources to explore all this more deeply and has been content to rely on the editor’s reasoning and conclusions in regard to stemmatic relationships which appear to be quite sound.

Since this is the first volume of a projected series, one assumes that the final volume will contain indices and, especially, a collected bibliography. However, because of the lack of such, some of the references in the notes may be confusing to the reader. For example, there are frequent references to Pernot in the notes on the text, but, unless I have missed it, nowhere is the cited work explicitly stated (Laurent Pernot, La rhétorique de l’éloge dans le monde gréco-romain, vols. ι Paris 1993). In fact n. 104 on p. 86 runs as follows: “Sur l’éloge paradoxal, voir L. Pernot, [op. cit., p. 121, n. 134] p. 533 sqq.” (The correct reference is from p. 532 sqq). I did not know what to make of this note that obviously refers to Pernot’s two volume work, which is not cited on p. 121 of the present edition. Unfortunately, the one previous explicit citation of Pernot is on p. 80 n. 83, but that only refers to an article in BAGB 1986 pp. 253-284. There are, however, few such confusions elsewhere in the book.

A difficulty for the reader is the absence of a complete list of codices, which could have been conveniently placed at the end of the general introduction. The briefer lists of sigla for the three separate editions refer back to the list offered on pp. VII-VIII, which necessitated frequent thumbing back and forth in different parts of the book. Sigla occur sometimes in the critical apparatus without being included in the previous lists, and one must read thoughtfully through the introduction to figure some of them out, sometimes without success. This may at times be due to a misprint, e.g. p. 121 Sard V ω must stand for Sard V W. However, in the edition of ps.-Hermogenes, neither P ζ nor V δ is included in the list of sigla, and it was easiest for me in this case to resort to Rabe’s table of codices in his edition of the Progymnasmata to find out what they signified (Patillon has conveniently used mostly the same sigla as Rabe). I noted a few other such instances.

Likewise, there is no general list of abbreviations used in the apparatus, so the uninitiated reader must either know that, for example,”dub. prop.” is “dubitanter proposuit” or know how to look it up in the booklet from Les Belles Lettres entitled Règles et recommandations pour les éditions critiques. The critical apparatus could very often be simplified (e.g. by reducing the instances of such formulae “pro X hab. Y” or “de quo uidetis adn.”, which could often simply be put “vide adn.”), but these are matters of mere taste. However, in general I find Rabe’s apparatus both more concise and easier to use. Let me give an example from ps.-Hermogenes VIII.1,9 (p. 198): Patillon writes ” μικρὸν om. et καὶ (etiam) add. Prisc.”, whereas Rabe has ” μικρὸν Lb Phg ζ; etiam Prisc.; ” μικρὸν· καὶ P φ“. Now Priscian’s Latin translation is an important textual witness, but I find it odd that Patillon quite frequently gives a Greek reading as occurring in Priscian with the Latin word only in parenthesis. When Priscian is the sole witness for a variant, Rabe normally prints only the Latin reading and leaves the Greek interpretation to the reader. As to the establishment of the texts, Patillon’s edition represents an improvement over those by Rabe, excellent though the latter were. This holds especially true for the edition of Aphthonios where Patillon uses a branch missed by Rabe. More than from the use of additional manuscripts or stemmatic principles, however, I think that the establishment of the texts has benefited from the thought put into interpreting their meaning. Even in the Prooemium and ps.-Hermogenes, where Patillon states that his text departs little from that of Rabe, he has introduced a number of small and usually necessary improvements. One such is his simple addition of καί μάγων at Prooem. 12,25, which, once it is made, seems so obvious and necessary an emendation that one wonders why Rabe did not do the same. There are several such judicious and discreet emendations in all three edited texts. I do not agree with all of them, of course. Some of them, in my opinion, tend to smooth over difficulties in the text. For example, in the anecdote about Tisias and Corax in Proem. 8 (pp. 28-29), where we find the weight of the manuscript evidence supporting two conditional sentences with verbs in the future indicative in the protasis and in the aorist indicative in the apodosis, Patillon follows the variants in two related mss. and changes the aorist to the future indicative, according to the normal rules of grammar, deliberately choosing, in other words, the lectio facilior. Yet, surely, the aorist indicatives are grammatically defensible here (cf. F. Beetham, “The Aorist Indicative” Greece & Rome 49 2002, 227-236, for useful references), and appear more original. Perhaps Aphthonios was here making use of the aorist aspect for stylistic purposes.

Patillon has translated these treatises into lucid, fluent and even enjoyable French, accurately reflecting the Greek. Sometimes I wondered why he chose not to translate certain terms in a way that would reflect the traditional Latin translations, e.g. réfutation instead of contestation for ανασκευή, or comparaison for σύγκρισις. I think also I would have translated (υπόθεσις in Aphth. Pr. XIII,2 as proposition rather than cause, but these are representative of my few quibbles about this excellent translation.

In his review of Rabe’s edition of the Prolegomena, Denniston wrote: “These Introductions are, for the most part, a dreary waste of pedantry and triviality, where one laments alternately that Aristotle, or Isocrates, was ever born” (CR 46 1932 p. 86). Again, in his review of Rabe’s edition of Aphthonios, Bury stated that “these ‘preliminary exercises’ themselves are of no great interest” (CR 41 1927 p. 150). How times have changed! Fortunately, one might add. In recent decades scholars such as Michel Patillon have shown us how much there is of interest in treatises such as these. Although I have raised some minor criticisms above, I can only conclude as I began by acknowledging Patillon’s work for what it is: a genuine piece of first-rate scholarship that inspires gratitude for work well done and best wishes for the successful completion of the entire editorial project.