BMCR 2013.08.30

Latinum est, et legitur: metodi e temi dello studio dei testi latini. Supplementi di Lexis, 65

, , Latinum est, et legitur: metodi e temi dello studio dei testi latini. Supplementi di Lexis, 65. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 2011. 402. ISBN 9789025612757. €80.00 (pb).

[Authors, titles, and sections are listed at the end of the review.]

The rising disaffection with Latin displayed by students in Italian society justifies intelligent approaches to the problem of keeping Latin teaching courses alive and sound. This collection of essays, growing out of a conference at the University of Calabria in the fall of 2009, displays a variety of methods, traditional and contemporary, of interpreting Latin texts and implicitly argues for Latin culture as an indispensible part of our secondary and university education curriculum. The attempt to render Latin reading and learning in the intended inversion of the slogan “Latinum est, et legitur” in the title, against more formalistic imperatives,1 is the main reason which led me to request this volume for review; especially as it seemed to enrich already existing or under discussion philological approaches and cultural semantics in the perspectives of teaching Latin, designed primarily for the Italian audience (at least, in a country with a huge heritage and claim to ancestral tradition and origins of colloquial language).

Citti opens the volume by writing about intertextuality, reminding us that Greek lyric poems are perhaps the first examples of intertextuality in our poetical tradition; words, phrases and ideals as well were borrowed from Homer’s formulaic language, but with the Hellenistic poetry intertextuality became the general rule of the poetical production in ancient Greece and Rome. Mastandrea’s essay highlights the vocabulary of Roman epic, which show a tendency to repetitiveness that assigns fixed positions to certain words, especially at the beginning and end of the hexameter, Ennius having established the foundations of artistic diction in dactylic sequences. Manca discusses the possibilities for using social networks in modern teaching of Latin and Greek, but then he offers some caveats about the wrong way to use computers in the teaching of classics. Chiesa’s essay focuses on textual criticism and stemmatic methods which, when applied to medieval Latin texts, have features distinguishing them from those applied to ancient texts. Guastella has found a very interesting topic: how the anthropological study of the classical world deeply integrates with historical research in the frame of the new cultural context inaugurated by globalization. Miller extends his earlier suggestion that Tibullus should be read as a postmodern author, here mainly by focusing on the nature of language. Stok follows Sebastiano Timpanaro’s unrivalled studies on the application of Freudian psychoanalysis to classical themes with interesting results and with specific reference to the figure of Alexander the Great. Fick’s reading of the myth of Actaeon and Diana according to the pre-Homeric theophagies and the heroic archetype, and insisting upon the multiplicity of its interpretation, could form another archaiognostic prospect.

The other essays of the volume’s first part are more explicitly concerned with the teaching of Latin at the different levels of education. Lassandro comments on the need to translate and edit classical texts for a modern audience; Serianni stresses the importance of Latin for the history of the Italian language and the teaching of Latin at schools; both Stella and Gasti argue over the importance of Latin as the ‘free’ learned language of Europe until the 19th century, thereby suggesting why we should take into account the importance of approaching Latin texts written from 500 to 1800 A.D.; and, finally, Rocca reconstructs the history of the teaching and didactics of Latin from the 70s, underlining the fact that grammar is not the language but a medium to describe and explain it.

From the 14 essays of the second part of the volume (“Temi”) I select three that present and successfully cope with methodological problems arising out of realistic teaching situations: firstly Bordone’s suggestion to replace in the text of Paulinus Nolanus carm. 31 verse 439 the hapax legomenon epithet ‘iugifluus’ (actually a correction by Josse Bade) by the reading ‘iuge fluis’ of cod. Urb. Lat. 533; then Fusi’s reiterating the sense of lectio difficilior in Martial’s 10.48.23 ‘scutoque’; and Spina’s noteworthy observation about the relationship between the rhetorica legens, i.e. the ways of analyzing a text, and the rhetorica scribens, i.e. the ways of composing a text, both of which are necessary to initiate students into the mysteries of the poetical intentio auctoris via the proper use of rhetorical figures. The well-documented essays in this volume offer a useful point of entry for the teachers of classics into debates that have profound implications for issues of Latin teaching and Roman culture. My secret hope is that future efforts in other countries with relevant conservative curricula will retain the commitment and understand the significance of promoting the teaching of classical languages using the same philological methodology out of which these “lessons” developed and appeared within this modest book.

Authors and Titles

I. Sommario (Introduzione. ‘Latinum est, et legitur’: metodi e temi dello studio dei testi latini), Raffaele Perrelli

II. Metodi
1. Intertestualità : un termine nuovo per una prassi antica, Vittorio Citti
2. ‘Musae quae pedibus’. Memorie enniane e tecnica versificatoria, Paolo Mastandrea
3. Come usare (e non usare) i computer nella didattica dell’antico, Massimo Manca
4. Il metodo genealogico oggi da un osservatorio mediolatino, Paolo Chiesa
5. Il metodo genealogico e la pratica ecdotica, Domenico Lassandro
6. Antropologia e tradizione classica in una prospettiva multiculturale, Gianni Guastella
7. Tibullus 1.2 : A Postmodern Reading, Paul Allen Miller
8. Freud, la filologia classica e la psicoanalisi, Fabio Stok
9. Il latino nella scuola e nella società, oggi. Riflessioni di uno storico della lingua italiana, Luca Serianni
10. Quale latino per l’Europa, Francesco Stella
11. La didattica del latino : stato dell’arte, Silvana Rocca
12. Per una didattica della letteratura tardolatina, Fabio Gasti
13. Au latin par les myths : Diane au bain, Nicole Fick

III. Temi
14. Linguaggio metateatrale dalla tragedia alla commedia. ‘Spectator in fibula 2’, Daniela Averna
15. ‘Perennemente scorri…’ : nota critico-testuale a Paul. Nol. ‘carm.’ 31.439, Fabrizio Bordone
16. ‘Parlare a nuova perché suocera intenda’ : Marziale e l’ambiguo destinatario dell’epigramma 10.103, Claudio Buongiovanni
17. Tre note testuali ad Ammiano Marcellino (22.8.8, 16, 30), Fabrizio Feraco
18. Marziale e il fantasma di Scorpo. Nota a 10.48.23, Alessandro Fusi
19. Prima dell’evoluzionismo : prospettive antiche sull’origine della vita e il mutamento delle specie, Pietro Li Causi
20. Interpretare Orazio con Orazio ? A proposito di ‘Carmina’, libro IV, Rosa Rita Marchese
21. Lo Schlussdistichon di ‘Epigr. Bob.’ 54, 9 s. : una σφραγίς indipendente?, Orazio Portuese
22.L’universo in un raggio di sole. Cosmologia e moto atomico nel ‘De rerum natura’ di Lucrezio, Antonella Prenner
23. Pragmatica del ‘beneficium’ in Seneca, Renata Raccanelli
24. Venere eloquente: strategie narrative nel X libro delle ‘Metamorfosi’, Alessandra Romeo
25. I sensi diversi del male : ‘pathos’ e ambiguità delle forme nella ‘Tebaide’ di Stazio, Arianna Sacerdoti
26. Lucrezio, il tempo, la morte (3.1073-5), Carmelo Salemme
27. Rhetorica scribens, rhetorica legens, Luigi Spina


1. As such I regard the teaching manuals by J.-F. Cottier, Profession latiniste, Montréal, 2008 and W. Stroh, Latein ist tot, lang lebe Latein, Berlin, 2007 in a more strictly professional point of view than a theoretically formal one.