BMCR 2012.03.30

Ancient Scholarship and Grammar: Archetypes, Concepts and Contexts. Trends in classics – supplementary volumes, 8

, , , Ancient Scholarship and Grammar: Archetypes, Concepts and Contexts. Trends in classics - supplementary volumes, 8. Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, 2011. viii, 592. ISBN 9783110254037. $182.00.

A volume dedicated to ancient scholarship and grammar, especially one weighing in at a door-stopping 592 pages, might reasonably conjure up visions of Carlyle’s Teufelsdrockh or Eliot’s caricatured Casaubon, and while this volume has not entirely escaped those dry-as-dust ghosts, it offers a thorough and at points lively portrait of current research in ancient scholarship and grammar. All the contributions result from an international conference held in Thessaloniki in 2008, and the standard caveats of conference proceedings apply here: the quality of work is variable, the coverage imbalanced. Nonetheless, scholars who are prone to travel the byways of classical scholarship, as well as those who are curious about how technical matters can contribute to our understanding of antiquity, will find items of interest.

Following Franco Montanari’s introductory piece on “Ancient Scholarship and Classical Studies”, which provides a succinct and stimulating overview of the field, the remaining 25 contributions are divided into four sections, the boundaries of which are not always pellucid (see below for the full menu). And despite the general title, as well as Montanari’s own recognition that ancient scholarship embraces diverse subfields (e.g., biography and rhetoric), this volume emphasizes technical grammar, and Greek grammar in particular. In fact, the opening words of the introduction more accurately describe the contents: “Ancient Greek Scholarship—the γραμματικὴ τέχνη in its original designation—and the linguistic theories which were developed in the frame of this discipline…” (p1). There are passing references and some subsidiary treatments of Latin scholarship or grammar, but Ax on Quintilian along with Bonnet and Visser each on later Latin grammarians are the only real representatives. Even within the narrower purview of Greek grammar, there is a glaring absence of any engagement with Stoic grammar.

These gaps in coverage result from the conference proceedings rather than editorial choice, but greater selectivity in final publication would have made for a more coherent and useful volume. Nonetheless, there are some gems here that demonstrate in exemplary ways how technical scholarship intersects with other forms of ancient thought, and these will appeal to a broader swath of classicists: Richard Hunter’s keen reading of Plato’s Ion as a neglected document in our understanding of ancient scholarship, Philemon Probert’s careful complication of what Atticism entails, and C. C de Jonge’s untangling of Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ analysis of Thucydides are notable examples. Otherwise, narrowly focused individual contributions will be of interest to particular scholars—looking for the latest on the fragments of Orus in Stephanus of Byzantium’s Ethnika ? You’re covered. Curious about the status of the participle as a part of speech in grammars after 400 CE? Check it out here.

The volume is nicely produced, and typos are fairly rare and rather obvious. In addition to a useful bibliography, there is an index locorum and a general index. Most, but not all, the Greek and Latin is translated, and the translations are generally, though not universally, accurate.

Table of Contents

I. “Philologia perennis”: History and New Perspectives
F. Montanari, Ancient Scholarship and Classical Studies
II. The Ancient Scholars at Work
R. Hunter, Plato’s Ion and the Origins of Scholarship
M. Fantuzzi, Scholarly Panic: πανικὸς φόβος, Homeric Philology and the Beginning of the Rhesus
S. Matthaios, Eratosthenes of Cyrene: Readings of his ‘Grammar’ Definition
E.Pontani, Ex Homero grammatica
R. Nünlist, Aristarchus and Allegorical Interpretation
M. Schmidt, Portrait of an Unknown Scholiast
J. Lundon, Homeric Commentaries on Papyrus: A Survey
B. K. Braswell, Didymus on Pindar
P. Bing, Afterlives of a Tragic Poet: The Hypothesis in the Hellenistic Reception of Euripides
S. Chronopoulos, Re-writing the Personal Joke: Some Aspects in the Interpretation of ὀνομαστὶ κωμῳδεῖν in Ancient Scholarship
K. Spanoudakis, Ancient Scholia and Lost Identities: The Case of Simichidas
III. The Ancient Grammarians on the Greek Language and Linguistic Correctness
J. Lallot, Did The Alexandrian Grammarians have a Sense of History?
L. Basset, Apollonius between Homeric and Hellenistic Greek: The Case of the ‘Pre-positive Article’
P. Probert, Attic Irregularities: Their Reinterpretation in the Light of Atticism
I. Sluiter, A Champion of Analogy: Herodian’s On Lexical Singularity
IV. Ancient Grammar in Historical Context
A. Wouters–P. Swiggers, New Papyri and the History of Ancient Grammar: The ἐπίρρημα Chapter in P. Berol. 9917
W. Ax, Quintilian’s ‘Grammar’ ( Inst. 1.4-8) and its Importance for the History of Roman Grammar
F. Lambert, Syntax before Syntax: Uses of the Term σύνταξις in Greek Grammarians before Apollonius Dyscolus
G. Bonnet, Syntagms in the Artigraphic Latin Grammars
L. Visser, Latin Grammatical Manuals in the Early Middle Ages: Tradition and Adaptation in the Participle Chapter
V. van Elst, Theodosius and his Byzantine Successors on the Participle: A Didactic Approach
M. Billerbeck, The Orus Fragments in the Ethnica of Stephanus of Byzantium
V. Ancient Grammar in Interdisciplinary Context
C. C. de Jonge, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and the Scholia on Thucydides’ Syntax
A. Luhtala, Imposition of Names in Ancient Grammar and Philosophy
M. Chriti, Neoplatonic Commentators on Aristotle: The ‘Arbitrariness of the Linguistic Sign’