BMCR 2018.03.44

Philostrate sur les héros. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 531​

, Philostrate sur les héros. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 531​. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2017. cciv, 348 (2-139 double); 3 p. of plates. ISBN 9782251006178. €65,00 (pb).


After a long period of neglect, Philostratus’ charming dialogue Heroicus has been receiving a lot of scholarly attention ever since the seventies of the past century. The first modern critical edition was published by Ludo de Lannoy in 1977.1 In 2006, Peter Grossardt published his monumental translation with commentary,2 which in 2014 was followed by Jeffrey Rusten’s translation in the Loeb series (see BMCR 2014.12.33).3 To these works is now added the impressive Budé edition by Simone Follet. To be sure, Follet cannot be accused of hastiness: her edition is a revised version of her thèse de troisième cycle, presented at the Sorbonne in 1968. In accordance with the format of the recent generation of Budé editions her book contains an introduction,4 the Greek text with full critical apparatus, a French translation, a voluminous series of notes, and an index nominum. The introduction is as elaborate as one might wish for; the notes offer helpful information, containing many references to works both ancient and modern. In this review I will concentrate on the edition of the Greek text and the French translation.

As Follet explains, de Lannoy was preparing his edition in the same period in which she was preparing hers (p. clxxvi). Obviously, she has maintained the format of her 1968 edition (which I have not been able to consult), as can be gathered from the sigla she uses and her segmentation of the text. Follet’s sigla differ from those employed by de Lannoy, which complicates comparison of the apparatuses of the two editions. As regards the division of the text, Follet returns to the ‘découpage traditionnel’, by which she means the division of the text into a preface (indicated as chapter 0 by Follet) and nineteen chapters (divided into sections, which Follet has divided into subsections) of Olearius’ edition.5 In itself, it was a wise decision to divide the text into chapters because the editions before and after Olearius do not have any division at all. However, it would have been better if Follet had adopted the division in de Lannoy’s 1977 edition, which is in general use nowadays. Follet contents herself to print de Lannoy’s chapter numbers in the margin (without his section numbers), along with the page numbers of Olearius and of Kayser’s editio minor.6 This makes it very cumbersome to look up a given passage in her edition. In practice, the reader must have both de Lannoy’s and Follet’s edition on their desk in order to quickly find a passage to which reference is made in the more recent secondary literature. Moreover, in Follet’s edition the chapter- and section-numbers are not printed in the headers of the pages so that navigation in the book is very tiresome. In this review, I will use Follet’s division of the text.

Both de Lannoy and Follet postulate a bifid stemma but Follet’s stemma differs from de Lannoy’s in a number of respects. Thus Follet states without proof that Laurentianus 58.23 and Vaticanus gr. 953 derive from Marcianus gr. XI.15 (pp. clxxxiii and clxxxvii respectively), while de Lannoy regards them as gemelli of the Marcianus. The most important difference consists in the position of the oldest manuscript, Laurentianus 58.32 (de Lannoy F = Follet E; I will use Follet’s sigla throughout). According to de Lannoy E belongs to the first family (Follet’s Ψ,7 de Lannoy’s recensio Laurentiana); Follet places it in the other family (Follet’s Φ and Σ; de Lannoy’s recensio Parisina), as a derivative of Φ, the reconstructed source of E and of the hyparchetype of three other manuscripts. Neither de Lannoy nor Follet give a full-scale discussion of the transmission.8 For the position of E, I rely on the information given by de Lannoy (p. viii) and Follet (pp. cxxxix-cxl). On balance, I am inclined to side with Follet. The conjunctive errors of E and the other members of the recensio Laurentiana adduced by de Lannoy can hardly count as such. Thus in 0.1.9 E’s original ἀποδίδωμι was corrected to ἀποδίδομαι by the first hand so that ἀποδίδωμι cannot count as a conjunctive error; at 19.9.3 οἵου may well be the authentic reading against οἷον; and at 9.17.8 ἶσος for ἴσος tells us nothing. On the other hand, Follet quotes some passages in which ΦΣ (including E) share a significant error. At 7.2 Ψ has φρονηματώδει against φρονιμώδει of ΦΣ; φρονηματώδης occurs in two other passages in Philostratus whereas φρονιμώδης is not attested anywhere else in extant Greek literature. At 10.3.1 Ψ’s ἐπ’ ἐκκλησίας is lectio difficilior against ΦΣ’s ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ. At 11.3.9 Follet accepts Ψ’s ἐν τοῖς μέσοις τῶν Ἀχαιῶν: against Grossardt’s defense of the omission of these words in ΦΣ (Grossardt 629), Follet rightly objects that Grossardt ‘est contraint d’ajouter un adjectif dans sa traduction [‘beachtlicher’] pour donner un sens au texte mutilé’. At 18.3.1 Ψ’s καὶ τὰ εἴδη is superior to Φ’s ᾔδει and Σ’s ᾔδη: throughout the Heroicus much attention is paid to the appearance of the heroes and ᾔδει is premature in view of the immediately following συνελέξατο.9

Although I think that Follet is right for following Ψ in a number of passages, there are other passages where she is not. Here are some instances. At 3.2.4 Follet reads μεγαλοφρονήσας with one branch of Ψ’s derivatives, the other branch having μέγα φρονήσας, while ΦΣ read φρονήσας: as Grossardt 519 illustrates, single φρονεῖν is an abridged form of the classical μέγα φρονέω; the variant readings in Ψ’s descendants betray interpolation. At 6.3 Ψ’s τοῖς Ἀργείοις probably results from a gloss on ΦΣ’s τούτοις. At 11.1.2 Follet reads σὺν αὐτῷ τὸ Ἴλιον with Ψ against ΦΣ’s αὐτῷ Ἰλίῳ, arguing that ‘donner à αὐτῷ Ἰλίῳ une valeur comitative n’est pas satisfaisant, car le personnage accompagné devrait être Télamon, non Laomédon’; but this use of the dative with αὐτός, ‘and took him, Ilion and all,’ is also found in Her. 19.8.1: τοὺς ἀπολλυμένους αὐτοῖς ἅρμασιν, ‘les guerriers anéantis avec leur char.’ At 11.2.1 ΦΣ have καὶ ἁπλῶς βλέψαντι, while the derivatives of Ψ have either καὶ ἁπλῶς ἐς αὐτὸν βλέψαντι (printed by Follet) or καὶ ἁπλῶς βλέψαντι ἐς αὐτόν: ἐς αὐτόν is unnecessary and the different position of the words in the two branches of Ψ is already a sign of interpolation. At 19.12.9 Follet reads λαμπρῶν γὰρ δὴ ἔτυχε τῶν ἐνταφίων with Ψ, while the other family omits τῶν ἐνταφίων: the article is impossible here, which shows that τῶν ἐνταφίων stems from a gloss.

To the present (Dutch) reviewer the French translation makes for pleasant reading. However, I noted a few slips. For instance, at 3.4.8 τῶν ἀμφὶ Δηΐφοβόν τε καὶ Εὔφορβον is translated as ‘les Dèiphobes et les Euphorbes’; obviously, Follet is unaware of the idiom οἱ περὶ/ἀμφὶ Χ = X; the correct translation therefore is ‘Dèiphobe et Euphorbe’.10 At 10.1.3 Follet translates διῄειν ἄν as ‘je pourrais rappeler’ as if it were a potential optative instead of an irrealis.

In some passages, Follet’s translation is not in accordance with her Greek text. At 1.4.7 Follet’s translation runs: ‘C’est sans doute le moment d’en venir là, si tes doutes ont disparu.’ Now ‘si tes doutes ont disparu’ only makes sense if spoken by the Vinedresser to the Phoenician, but in Follet’s text the words are spoken by the Phoenician to the Vinedresser, so ‘tes’ should be ‘mes’. Moreover, the conditional conjunction ‘si’ is out of place: the Phoenician cannot say about himself ‘si mes doutes ont disparu’. The correct translation is ‘maintenant que mes doutes ont disparu’ (‘nachdem ich keine Zweifel mehr daran hege’, Grossardt). Follet’s translation appears to be based on the text of the editions before Kayser: Φοῖν. Καιρὸς γάρ που ἐπ’ ἐκεῖνα ἥκειν. Ἀμπελ. Ἄκουε, ξένε, μηκέτ’ ἀπιστούμενα περὶ τῶν τοιούτων. At 6.3 Follet reads τοῖς Ἀργείοις with Ψ against τούτοις of ΦΣ; she translates ‘sur eux’. At 11.2 Follet adds ἐς αὐτόν to καὶ ἁπλῶς βλέψαντι with Ψ (cf. above), but she leaves ἐς αὐτόν untranslated: ‘dès le premier coup d’oeil’. At 19.14.7 Follet translates ἔστ’ ἂν αἴσιον (the reading of Ψ) τὸ ἐσπλεῦσαι γένηται as ‘jusqu’au moment où il peut entrer au port sans impiété’. But ‘sans impiété’ is the translation of ὅσιον (the reading of the other family). In her note Follet writes: ‘Pour αἴσιος « de bon augure », voir Antoninus Liberalis, 11, 10.’

Follet prints a number of conjectures by earlier scholars in her text, recording others in the apparatus. In some cases a conjecture mentioned in the apparatus should have been printed in the text, e.g. at 2.20.11, διαφυγόντα δὲ αὐτὸν τὰ ἐκεῖ πάθη ἀπώλεσεν αὐτῇ Ἰθάκῃ ὕστερον, where Reiske was the first to add <ἐν> before αὐτῇ Ἰθάκῃ: the omission of ἐν is easily explained as the result of haplography after ἀπώλεσεν. From Homer onward, Ἰθάκῃ with locative meaning is always accompanied by ἐν: ἐν Ἰθάκῃ is also found in Heroicus 9.2.2. Follet prints some conjectures of her own. The most important of these are 2.10.5, ἀγωνοθετοῦσιν for ἀγῶνα θύουσιν, and 19.14.9, καὶ δι’ ἑνάτου (sic) ἔτους for καθ’ ἕκαστον ἔτος / καθ’ ἓν τοῦ ἔτους. The first of these is refuted by Grossardt (p. 450) who adduces parallels such as Philostr. VA 1.5.3, Ὀλύμπια θύειν. Follet’s defense is ineffective: she argues that ‘le sacrifice et le concours sont deux moments distincts de la célébration’, but this is exactly how Grossardt interprets the transmitted ἀγῶνα θύουσιν: ‘einen Wettkampf ausrichten und die dazugehörenden Opfer darbringen’. The second conjecture is problematic because Follet has to assume that ἕνατος ‘ninth’ has a rough breathing, as appears from the theta in καθ’; further καί is quite out of place.

The presentation of the text and the apparatus is not always flawless. Occasionally, Follet prints a reading without reporting variants in the tradition. At 2.20.12 Follet reports Βρίσεως as Normann’s conjecture for Χρύσου, but she fails to report that Βρίσεως is also found in Guelferbytanus 25 Gudianus, as can be gathered from Kayser’s and de Lannoy’s apparatuses. At 8.2.1-2 she prints Κασάνδραν with single sigma (which is definitely wrong) without reporting that the manuscripts waver between Κασσάνδραν and Κασάνδραν, as can be seen in de Lannoy’s apparatus. At 19.15.12 she prints δ’ οὖν which should be <δ’> οὖν because δ’ was added conjecturally by Headlam. In cases where a conjecture was made by several scholars, Follet has the habit of mentioning all these scholars and not just the first one; in addition, she often adds the scholars who approve of a conjecture. To my mind it is sufficient to mention only the first person to make a conjecture, but if one chooses to record more scholars these should be mentioned in chronological order. Thus for the addition of <ἐν> at 2.20.11, discussed above, Reiske should come before Boissonade. At 19.3.5 Follet reports ‘ἀπολογήσεσθαι coni. Papavasilios Kayser de Lannoy’: here Kayser (1871) should come before Papavasilios (1897): Lannoy reports ἀπολογήσεσθαι as Kayser’s conjecture and not as his own. At 11.3.1 Follet reports that E has ὑφ’ ἑ///τοῦ for ὑφ’ ἑαυτοῦ; in reality E has ὑφ’ ἑτοῦ without erasure, as de Lannoy rightly reports (I have checked E online).

Despite its long gestation the book shows a number of inconsistencies and inaccuracies. The incidental disagreement between the Greek text and the French translation has already been illustrated above. Typos are found occasionally but they never destroy the sense. Here are some instances: p. cxcv, ‘verteling en commentar’ (‘vertaling en commentaar’); p. cxcvii, ‘klassichen’(‘klassischen’); 54, ‘acepté’ (‘accepté’); 73, μόνον οὺ (μόνον οὐ); 107, (Greek line 2) the closing quotation mark after ἔργα fails. Other errors are more serious. At 0.2.15 the critical note on τε in line 5 runs: ‘ 5 τε : om. OK τι coni. Reiske Eitrem 2 de Lannoy τε post σοφώτερος transp. Eitrem 2 de Lannoy’. In reality τε in line 5 was added conjecturally by Olearius, as de Lannoy reports: τε in line 6 was deleted by Eitrem (which is accepted by de Lannoy) while Reiske proposed replacing it by τι. At 2.5.6 the apparatus states ‘αὐτίκα ἀποτελοῦμεν νῦν δέ edd. ante Boissonade’; in reality, νῦν δέ is Boissonade’s conjecture. In her note on διῄειν ἄν at 10.1.3 she writes: ‘Sur l’omission occasionelle de la particule ἄν dans l’ Héroique, voir Notice, p. CII.’ It is strange to find this note attached to a passage where ἄν is present. Moreover, on p. cii, Follet refers to 10.2.7 where again ἄν is present. The note would have been useful in 1.1.1, where we find ἀδικοίην without ἄν. In the apparatus to 11.3.1 Follet reports ‘ante τοίην add. καὶ τὸ Ψ’ but on p. cxl she reports ‘καὶ τὸ Ψ: om. ΦΣ’ which means that the words belong in the text. With regard to Headlam’s addition of δ’ at 19.15.12 she states on p. cv: ‘W. Headlam a proposé, peut-être avec raison, de le restituer’. Obviously, Follet’s doubts had disappeared when she constituted the text of the passage. A similar case concerns Follet’s own conjecture 19.14.9 καὶ δι’ ἑνάτου (sic) ἔτους, which she prints in her text but about which she states in her note on p. 265: ‘Il se peut que les leçons attestées recouvrent un ancien κ(αὶ) δι’ ἐνάτου (sic) ἔτους’.

To sum up: Follet’s book is a welcome contribution to the study of the Heroicus, offering a wealth of information in the introduction and the notes, presenting a Greek text with some interesting novelties and a good French translation. It is regrettable that the book contains a number of inconsistencies and inaccuracies. ​


1. Ludo de Lannoy, Flavius Philostratus, Heroicus. Leipzig, 1977.

2. Peter Grossardt, Einführung, Übersetzung und Kommentar zum Heroikos von Flavius Philostrat. Basel, 2006.

3. Jeffrey Rusten, Jason König, Philostratus. Heroicus, Gymnasticus, Discourses 1 and 2. Cambridge, MA; London, 2014. This edition seems to be unknown to Follet, who does not mention it.

4. The first part of the introduction discusses Philostratus and the corpus Philostrateum; the date and setting of the dialogue; Philostratus and the literary tradition; Philostratus’ language and style; his religious, philosophical and literary intentions. The second part is concerned with the transmission of the work.

5. Gottfried Olearius, Philostratorum Quae Supersunt Omnia. Leipzig, 1709.

6. Carl Ludwig Kayser, Flavii Philostrati Opera, vol. II. Leipzig, 1871.

7. Follet uses the Greek capitals Ψ, Φ and Σ as collective sigla for reconstructed manuscripts.

8. De Lannoy states (p. vii): ‘qui libri qua ratione inter se cohaerent, alibi fusius, hic summatim exponere conabor’, without specifying this ‘alibi’. As already noted, I did not have access to Follet’s 1968 dissertation.

9. Other passages where Follet’s choice for Ψ’s reading appears to be right include 2.19.7 θαλείας τε ὁπόσαι, 2.20.4 ὑπὲρ τῆς Ἑλένης, 10.2.7 σοφόν τι περὶ τῶν οὐρανίων εἴποι and 10.5.6 φησί, 19.4.7 ἔστ’ ἂν αἴσιον, 19.15.1 ἀεὶ δὲ κατέβαλλον.

10. Grossardt makes the same mistake (‘die um Deiphobos und Euphorbos’); Rusten has the correct ‘Deiphobus and Euphorbus’. ​