BMCR 2020.12.24

Corpus dei papiri filosofici greci e latini

, Corpus dei papiri filosofici greci e latini: testi e lessico nei papiri di cultura greca e latina. Parte II: Frammenti Adespoti e sentenze, vol. 1: Frammenti Adespoti. Firenze: Olschki Editore, 2019. Pp, xxix, 268. ISBN 9788822266897. €60,00.

CPF, a project initiated by the late Francesco Adorno, has been issuing excellent editions of philosophical papyri with commentary and translation – all in Italian – since its first publication in 1989. The publications are divided into four parts, which have been issued peu à peu; part I comprises known authors, part III commentaries, while a part IV contains various indices and tables. Part II is itself a conglomerate of three categories: (a) the current one of unattributed fragments; (b) maxims and chreiai of known authors; (c) gnomica. This is the first of a planned two-volume edition of fragmenta adespota. I confess to never having understood why they put asterisks here and there in the enumeration of the different volumes, but perhaps Parte II.1* is meant to indicate that a 2 is on its way.

Another curious editorial decision throughout the series is the absence of any names of authors or editors either on the cover or in the front matter or even in the table of contents on pp. 257-8, making the volumes rather difficult to cite according to bibliographical conventions. This decision, however, I think I do understand. From its inception, papyrology has been an international and collaborative work, and the CPF no doubt wishes to underscore the collaborative nature of each volume by avoiding such individualistic features as “edited by so-and-so”. A list of collaborators of the present volume is found on p. XXV: Antonio Carlini, Angelo Giavatto, Alessandro Linguiti, Christian Vasallo, Davide Amendola, David Sedley, Eva Falaschi, Ermelinda Valentina Di Lascio, Fernanda Decleva Caizzi, Francesco Verde, Giulio Iovine, the late Isabella Andorlini, Mauro Bonazzi, Maria Serena Funghi, Paolo Togni, Stefano Martinelli Tempesta, Tiziano Dorandi, Valeria Piano and Walter Cavini, along with an unspecified editorial committee, perhaps comprised of all of the above. Each separate chapter closes with the initials of the responsible collaborator(s), with the occasional appearance of R for Redazione, e.g. at the end of the edition of fr. 4 (P. Berol. inv. 9814). The front matter consists of a preface (see below), lists of abbreviations and bibliography, a list of the editors of each papyrus (p. XXVI) and a list of the edited papyri in the order treated (p. XXVII). The back matter consists in the ToC (Indice analitico), a series of good quality plates (b/w) of the papyri edited in the volume, various notices and two useful lists of papyrological collections with conservations centers and the various libraries containing deposits of papyri as well cities with institutes conserving papyri.

Maria Serena Funghi has written the preface, which only occupies five pages but is very important for understanding the scope of the edition. After preliminary remarks about, inter alia, Adorno’s conception of the corpus (which excludes any Judaeo-Christian texts in principle, although the principle is not strictly applied within the volume), she explains the methods used and the criteria for inclusion. The starting-point was to make use of existing databases (LDAB and Mertens-Pack online) to get a preliminary collection of philosophical fragments. Two essential questions were raised with regard to the accumulation of material: (1) whether a fragment may be classified as philosophical; (2) if so, whether one can assign it to a particular school. Applying a stricter rule than that of the classifications in the databases, their preliminary set of 115 fragments was reduced to 90, of which 33 are published in the present volume. All the selected papyri are listed in the “Piano del volume” that starts on p. XXVII (asterisked papyri are edited in this volume). In a review such as this, I will not go into the particulars of the selection process which the interested reader can find in the preface itself. One can doubtless quibble with this or that decision as to what should be counted as an unattributed philosophical fragment, but, obviously, allowance has to be made for the fragmentary nature of the material itself. At the end of the preface, Dr Funghi points out that 40 of the 90 selected papyri can be attributed to a certain school, with the Platonists edging out the Stoics, the Stoics beating the Peripatetics and the Epicureans and Socratics bringing up the rear. This total of 90 unattributed philosophical papyri can be compared to the approximately 250 fragments attributable to known philosophers.

Unless I have missed it somewhere in the volume, there is no clear explanation of the rationale behind the order in which each papyrus is dealt with. The papyri are not arranged chronologically, although an approximate chronology of the contents of this volume may be found on the final page of the book (p. 268). Their no. 1 papyrus is P.Aberd. 122 from the second century of our era; the next one is from the third century B.C.

For the record, here is the relevant part of the ToC listing the papyri:

1. P.Aberd. 122: Testo filosofico (?)
2. P.Ai Khanum: Dialogo sulla μέθεξις
3. P.Amh. 15: Testo di argomento psicologico-morale
4. P.Berol. inv. 9814: Prosa filosofica (?)
5. P.Berol. inv. 10536: Trattato etico epicureo
6. P.Berol. inv. 16545: Epistemologia stoica
7. P.Brux. inv. E7191v: Prosa filosofica (?)
8. P.Daris inv. 134: Testo di logica
9. P.Fay. 311: Etica
10. P.Heid. 193: Prosa filosofica o orazione sulla giustizia
11. P.Heid. inv. 1740r: Trattato etico epicureo
12. P.Hib. 28: Costituzione ‛utopistica’ di ambito peripatetico
13. P.Hib. 188: Esposizione delle dottrine di un filosofo
14. P.Hib. 189: Esercizio di logica
15. P.Jena inv. 660: Λόγος Σωκρατικός
16. P.Lond.Lit. 161: Testo con menzione degli Stoici
17. P.Oslo inv. 1039: Trattato stoico (?)
18. P.Oxy. 438: Parte iniziale di espozione filosofica
19. P.Oxy. 3007: Questione etiche
20. P.Oxy. 3008: Critica all’ontologia stoica
21. P.Oxy. 3320: Frammento di logica aristotelica
22. P.Oxy. 3656: Notizia su un’allieva dell’Accademia
23. P.Oxy. 3658: Testo filosofico epicureo (?)
24. P.Oxy. 4941: Trattazione relativa al Teeteto
25. PSI 851b: Testo epicureo (?)
26. PSI 852: Testo περὶ ἑνότητος
27. PSI 1095: Trattato di logica
28. PSI 1215: Λόγος Σωκρατικός
29. PSI 1489: Testo di filosofia stoica
30. PSI 1508: Trattato etico
31. PSI 1612: Definizioni cristiano/platoniche
32. PSI inv. 3192: Trattato di fisica epicurea
33. P.Vind. 29800: Testo di filosofia platonica (?)

I will use no. 1 (P.Aberd. 122) to illustrate the layout. First comes the numbering in the CPF; then the identification of the papyrus and dating; then a list with provenance, holding library, editions, images, and scholarly treatments. There follows an introductory description, citing previous editions and possible parallels, the edition of the Greek text with a detailed apparatus discussing the script and so forth, then a line-by-line commentary. Usually an Italian translation follows the commentary, but the remains here are too exiguous to make for a useful translation. Many of the fragments in the volume are fragmentary indeed; for example, the edition of no. 1 is 8 lines long with between 1 to 10 letters per line. Some whole words are legible, such as ὑγροῦ or ὑλικοῦ, and some missing letters can easily be supplied such as the τ before οῦ ὑγροῦ. (For this review, I ignore dots under letters indicating some uncertainty). The two whole words cited – along with θερμο[ῦ and τ]έχναις – suffice to justify the philosophical classification; the editor (Sedley) provides a helpful reference to Philoponus to give a sense of the kind of context in which it may have occurrred.

The second papyrus treated here is the famous fragment of a philosophical dialogue found by French archaeologists in Ai Khanoum (Afghanistan). This papyrus was only preserved as ink left imprinted on compacted earth, which is now lost, perhaps one of those treasures of the Kabul National Museum that was destroyed or sold on the black market under the Taliban (my guess, not the editors’). Many scholars would attribute this fragment to Aristotle, but the editors (R + MB) wisely retain it among their adespota. The main topic of the fragment is the participation of sensible things in the ideas in relation to causation; apart from μετέχειν in a few different forms, αἴτιον makes a couple of appearances. This fragment is long enough to get some sense of the text. The discussion here is clear and succinct, and gives a fully updated bibliography.

Apart from these two, the remaining papyri treated here are, in approximate chronological order from the third century BC to the sixth AD, the following: P.Heid. 193; P.Hib. 28; P.Hib. 188; P.Hib. 189; P.Jen inv. 660; PSI inv. 3192; P.Daris. inv. 134; P.Berol. inv. 9814; P.Heid. inv. 1740; P.Lond. Lit. 161; P.Berol. inv. 10356; P.Fay. 311; PSI 1215; P.Vind. 29800; P.Oslo inv. 1039; P.Oxy. 3320; P.Oxy. 4941; PSI 851b; PSI 852; PSI 1095; PSI 1508; P.Amh. 15; P.Oxy. 438; P.Oxy. 3007; P.Oxy. 3656; P.Berol. inv. 16545; P.Brux. inv. E. 7191; P. Oxy. 3008; P.Oxy. 3658; PSI 1612; PSI 1612. The most significant of these, in my personal opinion, may be the fragments of Epicurean treatises in Berol. inv. 16545, P. Heid. 1740r (containing the unusual noun ἀκριβώματα) P.Oxy. 3658, PSI 851b and PSI inv. 3192 (natural philosophy); the Stoic fragment in P.Berol. inv. 16545 with the unusual word διακένους, the fragment as a whole getting an extended commentary by editor Togni; the Peripatetic utopic text in P.Hib. 28 with an excellent discussion by Amendola; and the Oslo papyrus with a Stoic treatise mentioning Chrysippus.

All of these thirty-three fragments have been edited before; indeed, for a few of them, the editors of the current volume had previously provided the editio princeps. So one does not expect to find new discoveries. However, these are real editions, not just reprints of previous editions, with new conjectures and interpretations of each and every fragment. The quality of the scholarship, presentation and printing is excellent throughout. My only complaint is that there is no index of Greek words, but that may be supplied in the future. Any researcher working in any way on these fragments will not only want to but will need to read the discussions here, which, one feels assured, have been the fruit of true scholarly collaboration.