In recent years the Second Sophistic has become one of the fastest growing areas of classical scholarship, evidenced in some excellent general syntheses, as well as conference proceedings and monographs on authors who have rarely, if ever, enjoyed such attention.1 The collaborative volume under review extends this interest to Julius Pollux and his sole surviving work, the Onomasticon, and is, to my knowledge, a unique attempt at a literary, cultural and historiographic “inquadramento” of an ancient lexicographer.
The editors briefly introduce and justify their project (vii-viii). Julius Pollux was professor of rhetoric at Athens and one of the most significant intellectuals of the later second century, the apogee of Hellenism under the Roman Empire. His major work, the Onomasticon, is the oldest specimen of encyclopaedism transmitted from antiquity and, along with Harpocration’s Lexicon in decem oratores, one of two surviving lexical works of the Antonine era (discounting other abridgements and fragments). Nevertheless, since the completion of Erich Bethe’s critical edition in 1937,2 the Onomasticon has attracted little scholarly interest. This deficiency inspired a seminar programme in 2005/6, the aim of which was to address the lacuna. The present volume is the outcome. It opens with two contextual essays (relazioni-quadro) which seek to locate Pollux in his world, the first based on literary and intellectual considerations; the second on aspects of political culture. In fact, both cover some of the same territory, and thus avoid perpetuating the two ‘artificially polarised perspectives’ that Anderson identified in modern scholarship on the Second Sophistic.3 There follow seven chapters on selected sections or lemmata in the Onomasticon which aim to furnish illustrative examples (esempi di commenti) of Pollux’s methodology and/or value as a historical source. These specialised studies are divided into two groups. The first considers information relating to the institutions and laws of classical Athens. The second examines more general themes to illustrate Pollux’s evaluative criteria — the chosen topics are numismatics and militaria, with a concluding assessment of Pollux’s cultural and historical horizons. The editors lay no claim to an exhaustive treatment and observe that other subjects could have received attention (e.g., the rich section on music in
Section 1: Polluce nella cultura del suo tempo.
Renzo Tosi, ‘Polluce: struttura onomastica e tradizione lessicografica’ (3-16).
Tosi observes that Pollux’s Onomasticon is the only surviving Greek lexical work with an onomastic structure, that is to say, not an alphabetic sequence of lemmata but topical assemblages of synonyms or termini technici. A brief review of Pollux’s antecedents demonstrates that the onomastic format was ancient and probably more typical of the earlier tradition. There follows a glance at Pollux’s sources and transmission. The Onomasticon has not survived in its original form; all manuscripts derive from four incomplete exemplars which descend from a common hyparchetype, an epitome owned and interpolated by Arethas, Archbishop of Caesarea (ca. 900-932). Tosi follows the traditional view that the Onomasticon testifies to a controversy between the rigid linguistic purism of the hyperatticist Phrynichus and the more relaxed Atticism favoured by Pollux. Accordingly, the choice of an onomastic format in itself articulates this rivalry, since an alphabetic arrangement is better suited to the imposition of a puristic agenda. Pollux also sponsors a broader spectrum of authors (e.g. New Comedy, especially Menander, although deemed inferior to Old Comedy, is nonetheless valid) and registers words from other literary dialects — Doric, Ionic, Aeolian. Tosi charts examples of the rival approaches using fragmentary glosses of Phrynichus, as well as Atticizing glosses in the Lexicon of Oros, written in the fifth century in refutation of Phrynichus.4 In addition, Pollux’s Onomasticon is important because it contains numerous historical Realien on diverse aspects of antiquity and serves as a copious repository of loci classici, albeit often as decontextualised and unacknowledged citations. Editors of potential fragments embedded in the Onomasticon should proceed with caution, since instances where extant sources permit comparison reveal that lemmatization and/or the onomastic format have typically reconfigured the quoted text, though a degree of regularity in Pollux’s methodology can at least alert readers to likely changes and suggests strategies for identifying where Pollux may be the vehicle for an indirect tradition. Tosi expertly deploys a series of examples which demonstrate the difficulties and potential hazards of mining Pollux for fragments.
Giuseppe Zecchini, ‘Polluce la politica culturale di Commodo’ (17-26).
Zecchini sets out to examine the politico-cultural context to Commodus’ choice of Pollux instead of Phrynichus for the imperial chair of rhetoric at Athens in 178. There was already a well-established affinity between Hellenic culture and imperial power over and above the personal tastes and connections of individual philhellene emperors. Against this background Zecchini traces a tale of academic rivalry. Phrynichus dedicated his Eclogae (
These contextual essays of Tosi and Zecchini are thoughtful and elegantly written, though one may legitimately question some underlying historical assumptions. First, it is easy to overplay the rivalry of Pollux and Phrynichus, as reflected in different lexical ideologies and alleged professional competition. This model originated in a thesis of Nächster in 19087 and has been influential in subsequent scholarship, but its fragile foundations have been periodically questioned over the past 30 years and uncertainties in dating the careers and writings of Pollux and Phrynichus seriously complicate the traditional chronology; one recent assessment declares ‘there is no real evidence of rivalry’ and brands Nächster’s whole reconstruction ‘in reality a house of cards’.8 Second, the connection Zecchini draws between Commodus and Pollux calls for further argumentation. I struggle to envisage Commodus combing through the works of Phrynichus and Pollux, and deciding that the scope and arrangement of the latter offered a lexical paideia more in tune with his own alleged politico-cultural ethos. It is not even clear whether Commodus had especially philhellene tastes (or at least any more than the many other emperors who participated in Athenian civic and religious institutions)9 or whether and how Pollux sought to appeal to them. That language was a crucial socio-cultural marker is not disputed, but the contention that a lexical encyclopedia might play a role in articulating the emperor’s politico-cultural vision requires demonstration or at least an assessment of the intended audience and purpose of such works (belletristic composition? occasional rhetoric? conversational cachet?), especially as the objectives of Phrynichus and Pollux do not seem precisely comparable: the Praeparatio Sophistica was concerned as much with grammar and style as lexis. Overall, Zecchini is doubtless correct that Pollux was the more appealing figure, but the nature and extent of Commodus’ interests in this sphere are hard to gauge: certainly his personal identification with Heracles does not appear to have anything to do with ‘philhellenism’ or an inclusive eastward-looking cultural ideology. Heracles is an ambiguous, multi-faceted motif, who for Commodus served as a legitimating paradigm of a superhuman victor, immortal universal saviour and the inaugurator of a Golden Age, closely associated with the emperor’s (very Roman) gladiatorial interests, an image projected to all parts of the empire without an especially eastern orientation.10
Finally, I cannot help but feel that a vital context has been overlooked: locating Pollux within the broader literary and intellectual currents of the Second Sophistic. Even if we were to accept the historicity of rivalry between Phrynichus and Pollux, the competition of prescriptive expert opinion in the cause of linguistic purism goes beyond these two authors and culminated in the vast output of grammarians and lexicographers of the Antonine period.11 Admittedly their works for the most part survive as textual wreckage, but something could have been said by way of context concerning, for example, the so-called Antiatticista, probably one of the targets of Phrynichus’ Eclogae, and broadly akin to Pollux’s Onomasticon in the breadth of its canon.12 Perhaps also worthy of exploration would have been the hypothesis that the Cornelianus to whom Phrynichus dedicated the Eclogae was himself the author of the Philetairos now ascribed to ps.-Aelius Herodianus; certainly Cornelianus had lexical-grammatical interests on which he had written a work of his own (Phryn. Ecl. 394).13 Greater clarification of this intellectual tradition and textual interrelationships might have provided an enhanced background and firmer foundations for some of the literary, cultural and political perspectives explored in these chapters.
Le istituzioni Ateniesi nell’ Onomasticon.
Alberto Maffi, ‘L’ Onomasticon di Polluce come fonte di diritto attico’ (29-42).
Maffi brings an expert eye to bear on Onomasticon VIII, long recognised as an important source for Athenian law. His study aims to examine the composition and textual history of this section as a whole with a view to a more accurate evaluation of its individual entries. In this he is successful and his survey should prove helpful to further research in this field. In the first part, Maffi considers the concatenation of terms in VIII 6-81, with a particular interest in the procedural terminology of different judicial actions, in order to discern what logical or juridical criteria Pollux followed in the selection and arrangement of this material, and to establish whether the terms cited are technical designations for specific procedures or generic descriptions and non-technical synonyms (favouring the latter view, pp. 32-4). He also identifies omissions and/or losses, and assesses the evidence for later interpolation and epitomization. In a brief review of Pollux’s possible sources Maffi notes that some of the material originates from Attic forensic oratory or the Athenaion Politeia; other lemmata are without explicit citation, but allusions to Theophrastus’ Nomoi and the reforming activity of Demetrius of Phaleron hint at lost sources. He does not explore Zecchini’s inference (p. 24) that Pollux drew on ‘raccolte di testi riguardanti leggi o decreti’. In the second part, Maffi presents three case studies: the procedure of phasis (VIII 47-9); eisangeleia against a marriage irregularly contracted with a epikleros (VIII 53); and a type of oath mentioned in Solon’s laws (VIII 142). On the authority of Pollux, he offers modifications to existing scholarship on these three issues, all amply discussed in previous literature, including by Maffi himself, who demonstrates a fine command of the bibliography.
Cinzia Bearzot, ‘I nomophylakes in due lemmi di Polluce (VIII 94
Bearzot provides a detailed examination of two lemmata which refer to the nomophylakes. VIII 94 (
This is the first of Tuci’s two papers on the deliberative and legislative organs of classical Athens. He surveys the most important passages in Onomasticon VIII concerning the boule and ekklesia, observing that some are lexicographic in character, others descriptive, an alternation found also in the notices concerning magistracies and judicial structures and procedures. His investigation of the sources of VIII calculates the frequency of genres and authors compared to those cited by Pollux’s contemporaries, Harpocration and Athenaeus. Lack of explicit citations frequently hampers Quellenforschung, but it is certain that Pollux drew information from a variety of genres, including the ps.-Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia, scholiographic tradition, Old Comedy and the Atthidographers. There follows detailed discussion of selected passages: VIII 95-6 contains information about the prytanies (pt. 2.1.1); the agenda of the four assemblies held in each prytany (2.1.2); the epistates of the prytranies and the proedroi (2.1.3). Tuci demonstrates that in each case the main source is Ath. Pol., sometimes quoted verbatim, but in other instances, he contends, supplemented by another source; the argument is more compelling in some cases than others (see most successfully 2.1.2). The supplementary source remains unknown and the difficulties of identification are compounded by the probably epitomized state of the received text. At VIII 115 (2.2), concerning the length of a prytany, Pollux dispenses with Ath. Pol. and uses another source, possibly Theophrastus’ Nomoi or Philochorus’ Atthis, but in any case demonstrably written post 307/6 BC. Tuci then discusses the sources of two terms at VIII 116:
Paolo A. Tuci, ‘Polluce VIII 104 e i funzionari addetti al controllo della partecipazione assembleare’ (103-137).
Tuci’s second paper is devoted to VIII 104, which concerns the lexiarchoi and syllogeis tou demou (though the latter are not explicitly named), respectively six- and thirty-man boards responsible for scrutinising the eligibility of participants in the ekklesia. Pollux is the earliest literary source for both offices, on which Ath. Pol. is silent, and VIII 104 acquires particular significance as one of only two texts to mention the lexiarchoi (cf. also Lexicon Vindobonense s.v.). Scrutiny of ekklesiastai was crucial to the regular functioning of Athenian democracy, especially following Pericles’ law on citizenship (451/50 BC) and the introduction of assembly pay (403 BC). Tuci discusses the sources for these officials and reconstructs the main features of their duties. In this treatment the focus strays somewhat from Pollux and rehearses the ancient evidence and scholarly positions on Athenian voting procedures, on which the bibliography is already vast and for which Tuci is unavoidably indebted to the work of Mogens Herman Hansen. The paper nevertheless furnishes some insights and modifications, including thoughts on the operation of the red-dyed rope with which idlers in the agora were herded to the Pnyx, and on the distribution of the misthos ekklesiastikos. With due caution, Tuci makes a plausible case for the coexistence and cooperation of lexiarchoi and syllogeis tou demou, at least over a limited period, against the view that lexiarchoi were a fifth-century board and syllogeis its fourth-century successor. Tuci concludes with a thoughtful consideration of the practicalities of checking participants in the ekklesia, stressing the importance of personal acquaintance rather than consultation of voting registers ( pinax ekklesiastikos), and drawing intriguing comparisons with modern Italian electoral procedures.
Altre Prospettive: Presenze e omissioni
Nicola Parise, ‘Polluce e le origini della moneta’ (141-144).
In this short contribution Pollux’s lemmata on both usury (III 85, 112-13) and the divergent traditions concerning the invention of money (IX 83) prompt a few observations on ancient and modern opinions about the origin of coinage; the results are rather impressionistic.
Marco Bettalli, ‘I militaria in Polluce’ (145-154).
Bettalli examines vocabula militaria, chiefly concentrated between I 119 and 180. He surmises that the topic was not especially favoured by Pollux on the grounds that, even though individual listings can appear meticulous, in fact a large number of obvious and accessible terms are omitted. In this regard, however, he notes the near-certainty that the received text of the Onomasticon is an epitome and that Pollux did not compile his lexical listings from direct access to the original texts but from intermediary lexical work/s. Bettalli wisely eschews the various guessing games posed by these propositions, preferring to present some thoughts on military lemmata, without any claim to an exhaustive treatment. There follows a selective review of the occurrence, usage and source/s of individual terms in six specimen sections (naval warfare; commanders and hierarchies; weaponry and equipment; war, peace and alliance; poliorcetica; penal procedures related to military service in classical Athens — for which VIII 40 is an important source). While these remarks are of intrinsic interest, the chapter is light on general insights and conclusions, other than the rather unremarkable observation that the majority of military terms are attested in Attic authors of a distant classical age (V-IV centuries B.C.). I notice some errors:
Franca Landucci, ‘La Macedonia e nascita dell’Ellenismo nell’Onomasticon di Polluce’ (155-170).
In this concluding paper Landucci resumes some of the themes previewed by Tosi and Zecchini concerning the literary and historical horizons of Pollux’s Hellenism. A less rigorous Atticist than Phrynichus, Pollux supplemented the hyperatticist canon of historians, adding, for example, Herodotus. Of the post-Xenophontic historians, Pollux never cites Ephorus, but there are four citations of Theopompus, who in the near-contemporary Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistae is the chief authority for the career of Philip II. Landucci infers that Theopompus’ Historiae Philippicae therefore enjoyed a high standing in the second century and was deemed the last work of classic historiography (156-60), although one might wonder whether, with just four citations, Pollux shared this estimation, especially as in one instance Pollux (if not an interpolation) explicitly disparages Theopompus as a stylist.21 Landucci observes that the Onomasticon does not cite any post fourth-century BC historians, including those of Alexander, or any Hellenistic writers, omitting even Polybius. Philip II is never mentioned by name, and Alexander appears in only five anecdotal entries, while the Diadochi and Epigoni are omitted, excepting two references to Pyrrhus. Clearly Pollux’s historical world is that of the classical polis. Landucci further argues that the Macedonians lie beyond this cultural horizon: the five citations relating to the ethnic Makedones or Makedonikos embody a notion of the ‘other’ (163: ‘altro e sostanzialmente barbaro rispetto al mondo poleico’). In consequence, the Onomasticon contains little information relating to Macedonian history. She concludes (165-9) by looking at an institution which touches upon both the Macedonian and Athenian worlds. At VIII 91 Pollux refers to the epitaphios agõn, the games celebrated at Athenian public funerals, a passage derived from Ath. Pol. 58. Rehearsing the much-debated problems of the date and origin of the Athenian public funeral, Landucci observes that only Diodorus XI.33.3 otherwise refers to the epitaphios agõn (notably absent from Thuc. II.34.1-7), but that elsewhere Diodorus also reports this institution as an integral element of Macedonian royal funerals. She concludes that Pollux mentions the epitaphios agõn only in the context of the Athenian public funeral because, as usual, he is uninterested in Macedonian customs. I found this line of argument rather hard to follow, or even unnecessary — as Pollux’s source for this institution was Ath. Pol, why should he ever think of Macedonians?
There is a very useful index of passages cited from the Onomasticon (pp. 171-3). I noted a scattering of slips and errors throughout: p.22, n.24:
The essays in this volume are, perhaps inevitably, rather miscellaneous in content and variable in quality, but it offers much to a diverse readership which will easily find its own points of interest. For some aspects of Pollux’s life and work it would have been better to revisit questions rather than rehearse old assumptions. Nevertheless, the editors can be congratulated for achieving their purpose of drawing attention to this significant cultural figure, identifying lines of enquiry and encouraging new approaches; the book will doubtless become a first port of call for future scholars interested in this subject.
1. For recent bibliographies see B.E. Borg (ed.), Paideia. The World of the Second Sophistic (Berlin 2004); T. Whitmarsh, The Second Sophistic (Oxford 2005).
2. Pollucis Onomasticon, ed. E. Bethe (Leipzig 1900-37; repr. Stuttgart 1967).
3. G. Anderson, The Second Sophistic. A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire (London/New York 1993) 11-12.
4. K. Alpers, Das attizistische Lexicon des Oros. Untersuchung und kritische Ausgabe der Fragmente (Berlin/New York 1981) 103-7.
5. I read this passage (I 129) differently, however, as in fact a reference to a military glossary which Pollux himself intends to write, see below n. 18.
6. In her subsequent chapter Franca Landucci deploys the same evidence to set the limits of Pollux’s world firmly within the boundaries of the classical polis.
7. M. Nächster, De Pollucis et Phrynichi Controversiis (Diss. Leipzig 1908).
8. See S. Swain, Hellenism and Empire: Language, Classicism, and Power in the Greek World AD 50-250 (Oxford 1996) 54-5, with previous doubts and criticisms of E. Fischer (ed.), Die Ekloge des Phrynichos ([Sammlung griechischer und lateinischer Grammatiker 1] Berlin/New York 1974) 44-7; I. Avotins, ‘The Sophist Aristocles and the Grammarian Phrynichus’, Parola del Passato 33 [fasc. 180] (1978) 181-91 at 190-91, n. 30, ‘a rivalry unknown to the sources’; G. Anderson, The Second Sophistic. A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire (London/New York) 91, ‘Such evidence remains circumstantial’. On chronology see also I. Avotins, ‘The Holders of the Chairs of Rhetoric at Athens’, HSCP 79 (1975) 313-24 at 320-22; S. Swain, ‘The Promotion of Hadrian of Tyre and the Death of Herodes Atticus’, CPh 85 (1990) 214-16.
9. J.H. Oliver, ‘Athenian Citizenship of Roman Emperors’, Hesperia 20 (1951) 346-9; idem, ‘Roman emperors and Athens’, Historia 30 (1981) 412-23.
10. See O. Hekster, Commodus. An Emperor at the Crossroads ([Dutch Monographs on Ancient History and Archaeology 23] Amsterdam 2002) 11-13, 106-11, 117-29, 152-6, 166-74, 178-84, 186-8, 199-202; O. Hekster, ‘Propagating Power. Hercules as an example for second-century emperors’ in L. Rawlings and H. Bowden (eds.), Herakles and Hercules. Exploring a Graeco-Roman Divinity (Swansea 2005) 205-221.
11. See S. Swain, Hellenism and Empire: Language, Classicism, and Power in the Greek World AD 50-250 (Oxford 1996), ch. 2, esp. 51-6.
12. I. Bekker (ed.), Anecdota Graeca (Berlin 1814) I 75-116; III 1074-7; see J. de Borries (ed.), Phrynichi Sophistae Praeparatio Sophistica (Leipzig 1911) xxiv-xxxv; K. Latte, ‘Zur Zeitbestimmung des Antiatticista‘, Hermes 50 (1915) 373-94.
13. S. Argyle, ‘A new Greek grammarian’, CQ 39.2 (1989) 524-535.
14. L. O’Sullivan, ‘Philochorus, Pollux and the nomophylakes of Demetrius of Phalerum’, JHS 121 (2001) 51-62.
15. I note already, for example, alternative configurations of the evidence by S.C. Humphreys, The Strangeness of Gods (Oxford 2004) 123-5 (also critical of O’Sullivan at 124, n. 44); I. Tóth, ‘Guardians of the Law in Athens in the 5th century BC. Notes to the History of Ephialtes’ Reforms’, Aetas 2-3 (2006) 19-31 (in Hungarian with English summary).
16. Cf. Cyrop.. 2.1.22-3. 26. 30, 3.21; 4.2.27; 5.3.41; 8.1.14; De Mag. Equ. 2.2, 4, 6, 7; 4.9.
17. Onom. I 129:
18. As an independent item the Lexicon Militare it is preserved only in codex Coislinianus 347, ed. H. Köchly and W. Rüstow, Griechische Kriegsschriftsteller (Leipzig 1855) II.2 217-33. As an appendix to the Suda, see A. Adler (ed.), Suidae Lexicon (Leipzig 1928-38; repr. Stuttgart 1967), IV 855-64. For discussion see W.A. Oldfather and J.B. Titchener, ‘A Note on the Lexicon Militare‘, CP 16 (1921) 74-6; A. Dain, , L’Histoire du texte d’Élien le Tacticien des origines à la Fin du Moyen Âge (Paris 1946) 29-33, 38-40.
19. See P. Rance, ‘The Etymologicum Magnum and the “Fragment of Urbicius”‘, GRBS 47.2 (2007) 193-224, esp. 213-223 http://www.duke.edu/web/classics/grbs/FTexts/47/Rance.pdf
20. Edited from a defective secondary MS by A. Dain, Naumachica (Paris 1943) 57-68: now re-edited with Eng. transl. and notes in J.H. Pryor and E.M. Jeffreys, The Age of the
21. Pollux IV 93 (= FGrH 115 F339):