BMCR 2010.02.40

Plutarchi Chaeronensis Moralia

, , Plutarchi Chaeronensis Moralia, recognovit Gregorius N. Bernardakis. Editionem Maiorem. Vol. I. Athens: Academy of Athens, 2008. 421. ISBN 9789604041282

[Contents are listed at the end of the review.]

This new complete edition of the Plutarchean Moralia began in the 19th century, when the Greek scholar Gregorios N. Bernardakis (1848-1925, from now on GB) collected all the required materials for a major edition, which he never published. He did bring to light the minor Teubner edition which appeared in seven volumes between 1888 and 1926. This philological work received direct disapproval from Wilamowitz and Pohlenz, so that the present Teubner edition went a completely different direction. A central question in this debate was the importance accorded by GB to the manuscript Parisinus 1956, which was neglected by his German colleagues.1 After GB’s death, his son Dimitrios took care of the father’s legacy, and finally his grandson Panayiotis Bernardakis, in collaboration with Heinz Gerd Ingenkamp (Universität Bonn), took over publication of the whole work.2 Needless to say, this Greek major edition largely supersedes the Moralia collection directed by Vasilis Mandilarás for the printing house Kaktos.

The total amount of reviewed codices explains how ambitious was the project conceived by GB. Fifty manuscripts have been collated in order to obtain the best possible result. By comparison in the last Teubner edition, Plutarchus. Vitae parallelae I.1 (München/Leipzig 1959, 2000) Ziegler cited twenty-six manuscripts, of which only eighteen were deemed relevant. The need of a new edition, supported by a more accurate methodology, has been already expressed in more or less clear terms by different scholars.3

A further important matter concerns the authenticity of the essays in this first volume. Three, De liberis educandis, Consolatio ad Apollonium, and Septem sapientium convivium, have been rejected as spurious by most of scholars because of linguistic and stylistic features.4 In our opinion a last word on this subject has not yet been said, but a short reassessment of the matter should have been given.

On the formal side, designers achieve a welcome dialogue between hard covers and sophisticated Greek fonts, much more feminine than that used in the German Bibliotheca Teubneriana, the French Belles Lettres, the Catalan Fundació Bernat Metge and the English Oxford Classical Texts, insofar as they reproduce the handmade, delicate writing of a human being, instead of our customary fonts. Nevertheless, there are some problematic aspects. The short line length requires cutting some words into different lines, even inside the same syllable, e.g. Mor. 4A (= p. 7, ll. 24-25) παιδα‐γωγοῖς, and 22A (= p. 51, ll. 22-23) ἀντ‐εφώνησε. Also the extended use of double quotation marks seems quite inelegant; single quotation marks do appear, but only for a quotation embedded inside a major quotation. Parentheseis are used quite frequently where commas would have sufficed.5

Some other decisions cannot receive our total support. In offering nearly always γιγν‐ instead of γιν‐, the text has a literary colour, but in the second century A.D. the spelling attested in our papyri show that the cluster ‐γν‐ was already simplified.6

As for the critical approach, our opinion is clearly positive. This accurate edition, inspired as it is by a long and calm reflection on the Moralia, provides the most useful text for readers as well as for researchers. The constitution of the text pays attention to the linguistic frame of the Greek koine. Of course Plutarch could not always avoid the use of morphological, syntactical and lexical features already habitual in standard spoken language.7 When codices give support to these koinisms, the editors have been accurate enough not to act like new Atticists for the sake of an alleged purity. GB acted sensibly when restoring, for instance, περί in 138B (= p. 337, l. 7), in accord with the manuscripts, instead of πρός, which is an emendation by Reiske maintained in the former minor edition. On the other hand, Plutarch was also a moderate Atticist,8 one of those authors who slightly share the postulates of this aesthetic trend, albeit far from militant. The light presence of the dual number is an evident proof of this soft Atticism.

The addition of a second critical apparatus, related to the literary tradition reflected by the Plutarchean text, probably does not depend on GB’s work, but its help is not small, so that we must welcome it, according with the recent trends regarding the edition of the Classical authors.9

Some textual choices leave room for discussion. At 2F (= p. 5, l. 4) the participle πολεμοῦντες, which is a lectio difficilior that explains the extended infinitive, produces a better syntactical construction. At 87C (= p. 211, l. 1) the correction πλίνθων καὶ ὀστράκων added in margine by two different copyists in two of the oldest manuscripts, Marcianus 250 and Parisinus 1957, probably depends on parallel collations with a now lost codex with a better preserved text. At 130B (= p. 318, l. 13), the reading παρακάμπτειν, given by an emendation added to the codex Parisinus 1671, instead of παρεκκόπτειν and παρεγκάπτειν in the other codices, requires further reflection. At 148F (= p. 364, l. 10) the variant κλισίην is supported by the dialectal context, as the phrase is said by an Ionian speaker. At 149D (= p. 366, l. 1) the variant τί δαί deserves much more attention.

Our suggestions for other passages are simple conjectures. At 12A (= p. 26, l. 22) the potential optative ὑπολαμβάνοις is a tenable alternative for the edited ‐ειν and the transmitted readings ‐ει and ‐έτω. At 76D (= p. 184, l. 17), the middle form ποιεῖται seems to us better than the active, transmitted by all the manuscripts. At 127F (= p. 312, l. 21) πλείονας could be a more tenable reading, but a conjecture such as τοὺς δ’ἐκπλέοντας ἀκρασίᾳ καὶ μαλακίᾳ should be also taken into account. At 141A (= p. 344, l. 19) the non-attested * καλπίδιον should explain all the extant variants.

The apparatus devoted to the literary references is quite clear and complete.10 Typographical mistakes appear just to prove that the present edition was not made by angels, but by human beings.11

To sum up, this new major edition — of which a second volume has already appeared — offers an important contribution to the understanding of the Plutarchean legacy and reparation for the old unjust criticism. It is in our opinion the best edition now available. Contents:
Praefatio (p. 1*-41*).
Indices (p. 1**-4**).
De liberis educandis (p. 1-32).
Quomodo adulescens poetas audire debeat (p. 33-90).
De recta ratione audiendi (p. 91-117).
Quomodo adulator ab amico internoscatur (p. 118-180).
Quomodo quis suos in virtute sentiat profectus (p. 181-207).
De capienda ex inimicis utilitate (p. 208-224).
De amicorum multitudine (p. 225-235).
De fortuna (p. 236-243).
De virtute et vitio (p. 244-247).
Consolatio ad Apollonium (p. 248-298).
De tuenda sanitate praecepta (p. 229-336).
Coniugalia praecepta (p. 337-357).
Septem sapientium convivium (p. 358-402).
De superstitione (p. 403-421).


1. For this controversy see H.G Ingenkamp, “‘Malim’, Asteriskus und Fragezeichen. Einige Worte zur Verteidigung und zum Lobe von Gregorios N. Bernardakis,” Ploutarchos 3, 2005, 103-125, pdf.

2. Mention is due to the Academy of Athens, whose financial support makes possible this fundamental contribution to the classical, especially Plutarchean, studies.

3. So, I. Gallo, “Premessa”, in B. Weissenberger, La lingua di Plutarco di Cheronea e gli scritti pseudoplutarchei, Napoli 1994, 5-8, p. 7.

4. On De liberis educandis see D.A. Wyttenbach, Animadversiones in Plutarchi Opera Moralia I, Leipzig, Teubner, 1820, p. 1-30. On Consolatio ad Apollonium, see G.E. Benseler, De hiatu in oratoribus Atticis et historicis Graecis libri duo, Freiburg i.B. 1841, p. 430-432, and R. Volkmann, Commentatio de Consolatione ad Apollonium pseudoplutarchea, Halle 1867, and Leben, Schriften und Philosophie des Plutarchs von Chaeronea I, Berlin 1869, p. 129 ff. On Septem sapientium convivium, see Chr. Meiners, Geschichte des Urprungs, Fortgangs und Verfalls der Wissenschaften im Griechenland und Rom I, Lemgo 1781, p. 135-138, and R. Volkmann, Leben, p. 188 ff.

5. Also, it is rather odd that parenthetical remarks are distinguished by means of both em-dashes, as at 149A (= p. 364, l. 25), and parentheses, as at 149D (= p. 354, l. 27) and 150A (= p. 366, l. 28).

6. The opusculum De liberis educandis, whether because it is not a Plutarchean work, or because it has a more popular, non-literary style and phraseology, attests the form γινομένους (8D = p. 18, l. 10), actually accepted by the editors. The contrast grows if we compare this almost generalized * γιγν‐ forms with the frequent absence of underscribed iota inside the word, e.g. p. 216, l. 27 μιᾶ; p. 219, l. 7 πραότητα; p. 229, l. 25 ζωοί; p. 241, l. 13 εἰκῆ; p. 268, l. 21 ἀποθνήσκουσι.

7. Cf. e.g. 80B (= p. 193, l. 14), ἑαυτούς instead of ἐμαυτούς; 81A (= p. 195, l. 20), μάρτυν instead of μάρτυρα; 101B (= p. 248, l. 17), ἡ περὶ σὲ διάθεσις instead of ἡ σὴ διάθεσις; 140F (= p. 344, l. 9), καίτοι introducing a concessive participle; 146B (= p. 358, l. 7), ἤμην instead of ἦν; 166A (= p. 406, l. 17), homoioteleuton produced by the Koine spelling [isis] of the endings ‐ίσεις and ‐ύσεις.

8. B. Weissensberger, op. cit. p. 15. (…) In tutta quest’aspirazione all’eleganza attica egli non si perse in una difficile e insensata imitazione.

9. See on this matter A. Salvatore, Edizione critica e critica del testo, Roma 1983, p. 32-33.

10. Yet at 128F (= p. 312, ll. 22-25), besides the reported saying πάτταλος παττάλῳ ἐκκρούεται, another important gnome should be added, viz. ὁ δὲ τρώσας ἰήσεται See R. Tosi, Dizionario delle sentenze latine e greche, Milano 2003 15, p. 635.

11. Note a small blank space at the end of the line at 83 F before τὰς πράχεις (= p. 202, l. 16), and the minor printing types of ἐμμένει τὸ πρὸς ἀλλήλους δυσάρεστον at 147F (= p. 362, l. 7). The information given at the critical apparatus about 133D (= p. 326) must refer to l. 14, instead of l. 13.