This volume comes as a useful contribution to the still burgeoning literature on the epigrams of Posidippus, and especially the ‘new’ poems published in 2001 as P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309. Although it is formally divided into two halves—the first containing lengthier studies of individual poems or groups of poems, the second a series of briefer observations on individual passages—the primary focus of the entire volume is the constitution of the text of the poems from the Milan papyrus as well as those preserved in the Greek Anthology and by other sources. I should say up front that I am thanked by Lapini for providing him with an early draft of my forthcoming commentary on Asclepiades or Posidippus AP 5.209 (*128 Austin-Bastianini).
The volume covers a great deal of ground. The Milan papyrus is organized in sections, each preceded by a generic label. Poems from each of these groups receive close attention, as do epigrams known prior to the publication of the papyrus. In the first half of the book, Lapini devotes chapters to the conclusion of the lithika; to a series of poems from the oionoskopika; to the poem on Arion’s dolphin from the anathematika (here, Lapini defends a reconstruction he proposed at ZPE 143 (2003)); to one of the epitymbia (51 A) to an epigram from the andriantopoiika (67 A) to the so-called Seal of Posidippus (118
Although Lapini’s interests are broad, the bulk of his attention is devoted to correcting and supplementing the text of Posidippus as it has been preserved on the Milan papyrus, in the manuscripts that constitute the Greek Anthology, and in the secondary tradition.
There are, indeed, many passages of the Milan papyrus (and of the “old” Posidippus) where the text is largely intact but manifestly corrupt and thus in need of editorial intervention. There are others in which the point is obscure, the language seemingly awkward, or the letters surrounding a lacuna hard to explain. The extent to which these also warrant correction is a very tricky question, to which different scholars are likely to have different answers. In several places, Lapini argues for retaining the transmitted text by repunctuating or reinterpreting, but in general his approach is interventive, and the volume brims with suggestions, some of them attractive, for improving the text that has been transmitted to us. Lapini often rethinks problematic or lacunose passages in interesting ways, as for example in his discussion of relationship of the fly and the miniature statue of a chariot in 67 A-B (pp. 98-107), or his suggestion of
Lapini is quite comprehensive in his collection of primary and secondary material (the bibliography comes in just shy of a hundred pages), and the volume offers a useful collection of information from which all scholars working on Posidippus will benefit. There are also moments when one feels things have gone somewhat too far. Thus, for example, Lapini rightly observes that not every passage in which the poet seems to be engaging in play with a speaking name is actually a literary game, and to illustrate the point, he accumulates almost two full pages (42-3) of modern examples of real works of modern scholarship in which the relationship between the name of the author and the subject matter might appear too good to be true. Similarly, I am not sure that it is necessary to give a complete enumeration of the various but often very similar translations of the phrase
The volume is too rich in detail for me to offer a thorough accounting of the places where I agree and disagree with the author, and I restrict myself to a few exempli gratia observations on specific passages. It is in the nature of a book review that I here focus on places in which I differ from the author, but that fact should not obscure my regard for the volume as a whole.
p. 145 n. 22 (on 120.1): for the confusion of
pp. 165-91: Lapini makes the attractive suggestion that *128 A-B (ascribed alternatively to Asclepiades in the Greek Anthology), in which a narrative addressed to Aphrodite tells the story of the initiation of reciprocal love after Cleandrus sees Nico swimming off shore, may evoke the dual roles of Aphrodite Zephyritis as protector of those at sea and as guarantor of conjugal love. I remain unpersuaded, however, that editorial intervention is needed in *128.6. In defense of my own interpretation: Lapini’s objections seem not to take into account the fundamental compression of epigrammatic narrative and other literary features of the poem.
p. 203 (on 17.3 A-B): It seems risky to eliminate the rare word
p. 210 (on 21.1 A-B): I would like greater clarity on what it means to set sail for “the whole voyage” in this context, whether the papyrus has
p. 289 (on 86.4 A-B): The suggestion
p. 290 (on 87.3): It is not clear to me why one should wish to attempt to avoid the accumulation of relative pronouns in the first place. In the absence of more compelling grounds for altering it, the text as transmitted can stand.
p. 297-9 (on 93 A-B): Lapini argues for retaining
p. 306 (on 93.2 A-B): Whereas
p. 309 on 104 A-B: The opening expression
p. 315 (on 125.1
p. 324 (on 121.1 A-B): What seems awkward to one may seem striking and meaningful to another: in my view, it is inadvisable to repunctuate or emend away the striking expression
Such disagreements are inevitable in a work of this scope, and only illustrate the richness of this provocative and wide-ranging volume, which will be of great interest to all students of Posidippus, and of Hellenistic poetry in general.