BMCR 2021.02.15

Antike Erzähl- und Deutungsmuster: Zwischen Exemplarität und Transformation

, , , Antike Erzähl- und Deutungsmuster: Zwischen Exemplarität und Transformation. Beiträge Zur Altertumskunde, 374. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2019. Pp. 732. ISBN 9783110610116. $149.99.

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

This hefty volume is dedicated to Christiane Reitz, marking her retirement as chair of Latin at the University of Rostock where she nourished and shaped a now-flourishing department for over two decades. The impressive list of international contributors demonstrates how firmly she has placed Rostock on the classical map despite its location in one of East Germany’s most economically-challenged regions. Few have fought the good fight so well.

The volume is divided into three parts: the first section on the epic tradition from Homer to Milton and the second section on literary authority contain nine papers each. The third section on knowledge transfer through text and image consists of ten papers. The first and second sections complement, in both content and approach, a recent four-volume publication by Reitz and Finkmann stemming from a multi-year DFG project;[1] the third section corresponds to an edited volume by Horster and Reitz.[2]

Oliver Primavesi’s chapter kicks off the volume under review with an analysis of the embedded Meleager narrative, a mythological paradeigma in the speech of Phoinix in Iliad 9, which he interprets as a mise en abyme. By distilling the essence of the wider narrative, it fulfills both a rhetorical function as part of Phoinix’s speech and a narratological function by enhancing elements of the main storyline. Frederick Ahl uses the Dido episode and description of Carthage from Aeneid 4—in which he identifies traces not only of Punic Carthage, destroyed in 146 BC, but also of Roman Carthage re-founded by Caesar and Octavian—to showcase Virgil’s technique of reflecting on his own times through fictional parallels. Torben Behm and Stefan Poletti both continue in this vein. The former points out the significance of the intertextually constructed city walls of Megara in the section of Ovid’s Metamorphoses 8 about Scylla, while the latter revisits the blending of the battle fields of Pharsalus and Philippi in Lucan’s Bellum Civile 1. Ruurd Nauta reviews Lucan’s use of the first book of Virgil’s Georgics via Ovid and Manilius before focusing on the Phaeton motif in BC 1. However, he interprets Nero’s apotheosis not as a reward for the emperor but as punishment for the gods.

The following three chapters explore the ambivalence of heroism in the epics of Valerius, Statius and Silius Italicus. Simone Finkmann concentrates on the nocturnal fight in Arg. 3.14–272 and highlights how miscommunications pervade this episode. Sylvie Franchet d’Espèrey puts the spotlight on the figure of Tydeus in the Thebaid by underlining how the contrast between gloria/virtus and his disgraceful final act of cannibalism represents the questioning of heroic values in Statius’ corpus and Flavian literature more generally. Similarly, Anke Walter analyses the ambivalences in Silius’ depiction of the hero Marcus Atilius Regulus in his Punica, which she contrasts with Livy’s version of the same character. Philip Hardie rounds off this section by charting the vertical movements (or what he calls the ‘vertical axis’) of gods and heroes as well as their fama in epics ranging from the works of Homer, Virgil and Ovid to Jacopo Sannazaro’s De Partu Virginisand Girolamo Vida’s Christiad, not to mention the poems of Spenser and Milton along with Abraham Cowley’s Davideis.

The papers in the second section examine the reception and transformation of motifs, structural elements or entire narratives in relation to poets’ self-representation and their strategies of composition as well as translation. Michael Weißenberger thus presents insights into the metrical structures of Horace Odes 1 and, by looking at metrically analogous poems, poses the question of how far metrical form informs content. Kirk Freudenburg distils the meanings of the metaphors involving liquids used in Persius’ third Satire by comparing them with those in Horace Satires 1.4 and 1.10. Persius utilises water metaphors to showcase a lack of self-discipline by playing on the two meanings of continere. A further connection between Horace (Sat. 2.3.1-5) and Persius is the motif of the lazy poet, whose lack of continentia is much criticized (Pers. 3.1-7) when he wakes up hungover. This contrasts with Gregor Bitto’s poetological reading of Statius ‘Ode to Sleep’ (Silvae 5.4) which highlights the poet’s night-time activity. The late Christoph Leidl traces the motif of the bathing goddess from the fifth Callimachean hymn in a number of Ovidian variations such as the Actaeon episode (Met. 3.131–255), the Venus-Verticordia episode (Fast. 4.133–162) as well as Am. 1.5; he also outlines her reception in paintings by Giuseppe Cesari and Peter Paul Rubens. Claudia Schindler instead examines the catalogues of poets in Ovid Amores 1.10, Manilius Astronomica 2.1–52 and Sidonius Apollinaris Carmen 9. Each of the three poets uses the catalogue format to position himself against his poetic predecessors: Ovid as poeta doctus, Manilius as innovator and Sidonius as humble poetic successor. Friedemann Drews compares the versions of the Orpheus and Eurydice myths in Ovid (Met. 10) and Boethius Consolatio philosophiae 3, the latter being an allegorical reading interpreting Eurydice as the mens which man loses to Satan in the underworld. This section’s final three chapters focus on reception: Stephen Harrison illuminates the reception of the Cupid and Psyche narrative (Apuleius Metamorphoses 4.28–6.24) in Jean de la Fontaine’s Les Amours de Psyché et de Cupidon (1669). Markus Kersten outlines the reception of Virgil’s discoloured sheep prophecy (Verg. Ecl. 4.42–45) in Voltaire’s satirical novella Candide ou l’optimisme (1759). Andreas Fuchs, in turn, illustrates some of the translation strategies which the German poet Eduard Mörike (1804–1875) employed in tackling six poems from the Appendix Tibulliana.

The contributions in the third section focus on the transmission of knowledge in poetry and technical writers and especially on the use of exempla during this process. Ursula Gärtner showcases the role of Phaedrus’ fables as didactic exempla and unearths inter- and intratextual connections which model the persona of the poet on Socrates. Craig Williams discusses the depiction of enamored animals—for once not used as analogies for human relations—in Oppian’s Halieutica and Cynegetica, didactic poems on fishing and hunting respectively. He also outlines the challenges and techniques of transmitting knowledge through verse, a point which Marco Formisano augments through his analysis of the semantics of the Carmen de cultu hortorum in Columella’s tenth book of De re rustica. By showcasing how the meanings of words differ in prose and verse, he makes the reader aware of how densely and allusively Columella has planted his poetic garden. Lars Mielke likewise examines how that author not only quotes Virgil’s Georgics to enhance his own authority, but even explains and occasionally even corrects his poetic model. Marco Fucecchi outlines Statius’ reception in the Thebaid and Achilleid of Ovid’s narrative of Hercules’ enslavement by Omphale in Fasti 2. In addition, he demonstrates how Virgil’s and Ovid’s oeuvres showcase differing attitudes towards evaluating and incorporating ‘oriental’ cultural references. Nicola Hömke probes different aspects of the exemplarity of Alexander the Great in Roman declamation (Seneca Suas. 1) while Wytse Keulen contextualizes Scipio Africanus Maior’s continentia in Aulus Gellius’ Noctes Atticae 7.8 and Nicolò dellʼ Abate’s painting La Continenza di Scipione (1557–1560). Gerlinde Huber-Rebenich tells the story behind the proverbial clemency ascribed to the Roman emperor Titus (AD 79-81) and charts the transmission history of this exemplum. Michael Erler visits Augustine’s ‘cathedral of lies’ (a.k.a. rhetoric) and outlines the saint’s idea for an ‘honest panegyric’ which combines humilitas with praise, as irritating as that may be. Finally, Judith Hallett concludes the volume with a paper on the history of Classics scholarship by examining the careers of the mother-daughter pair Eva Lehmann Fiesel (1891–1937) and Ruth Fiesel (1921–1994), the former of whom earned her PhD at Rostock.

As this overview highlights, the reviewed volume does not only correspond to its overarching  themes of intertextuality, narratology and exemplarity but also contains small groups of interrelated chapters, often in dialogue with one another, which readers might wish to dip into in accordance with their individual needs. Those interested in the poetics of space will want to read Ahl, Behm and Poletti along with Hömke, while those with an interest in exemplarity and heroism will benefit from comparing the contributions of Finkmann, Franchet d’Espèrey, Walter, Hömke, Keulen and Huber-Rebenich. Those keen on rhetoric will enjoy Primavesi and Erler, while others will savour the wealth of papers about Ovid. Whatever route each reader might take, the editors’ admirable labor ensures that their journey will be both pleasant and learned. They certainly have done Reitz proud.

Table of Contents

Vorwort  (p. XI)
Laudatio (pp. XIII–XV)
Kurzvita (p. XVII)
Schriftenverzeichnis von Christiane Reitz (pp. XIX–XXV)
Tabula gratulatoria (pp. XXVII–XXXI)
Autorenverzeichnis (pp. XXXIII–XXXVII)

Teil I: Die Tradition der epischen Dichtung von Homer bis Milton: Ambivalentes Heldentum und der epische Raum
Simone Finkmann, Anja Behrendt und Anke Walter: Einleitung (pp. 3–6)
Oliver Primavesi: Phoinix über die Verblendung des Helden. Auktoriale Erzählerperspektive und Figurenperspektive im Iota der Ilias (pp. 7–35)
Frederick Ahl: Aeneas and Octavian: The Sharing of Epic Identity (pp. 37–69)
Torben Behm: Resonantia saxa—Scylla und die Mauern von Megara (Ov. Met. 8.6–154) (pp. 71–90)
Stefano Poletti: Iterum Philippi. La ‘doppiezza di Filippi’ da Virgilio a Lucano (pp. 91–120)
Ruurd Nauta: „Zweimal Emathien“: Das Proöm zu Lucans Bellum Ciuile und die Georgica Vergils (pp. 121–144)
Simone Finkmann: Killed by Friendly Fire. Divine Scheming and Fatal Miscommunication in Valerius Flaccus’ Cyzicus Episode (pp. 145–180)
Sylvie Franchet d’Espèrey: La mort de Tydée dans la Thébaïde de Stace. L’ambivalence de la condition héroïque dans l’épopée flavienne (pp. 181–200)
Anke Walter: Regulus and the Inconsistencies of Fame in Silius Italicus’ Punica (pp. 201–218)
Philip Hardie: The Vertical Axis in Classical and Post-Classical Epic (pp. 219–237)

Teil II: Literarische Autorität: Dichter, Gattungskonventionen und Erneuerung
Simone Finkmann, Anja Behrendt und Anke Walter: Einleitung (pp. 241–244)
Michael Weißenberger: Numerosus Horatius. Metren und inhaltliche Bezüge im ersten Odenbuch des Horaz (pp. 245–266)
Kirk Freudenburg: The Po(e)ts and Pens of Persius’ Third Satire (The Waters of Roman Satire, Part 2) (pp. 267–284)
Gregor Bitto: Schlaflos mit Kallimachos. Eine Interpretation von Stat. Silv. 5.4 (pp. 285–309)
Christoph Leidl: Enthüllte Göttinnen. Der Blick des Dichters (Ovid und Kallimachos) (pp. 311–334)
Claudia Schindler: Macht und Übermacht der Tradition. Dichterkataloge in der lateinischen Literatur von Ovid bis Sidonius (pp. 335–357)
Friedemann Drews: Der Mythos von Orpheus und Eurydice bei Ovid und Boethius (pp. 359–383)
Stephen Harrison: Apuleius in France: La Fontaine’s Psyché and its Apuleian Model (pp. 385–399)
Markus Kersten: Rote Schafe, Goldene Zeit. Ein märchenhaftes Motiv bei Homer, Vergil und Voltaire (pp. 401–418)
Andreas Fuchs: Eduard Mörikes Roman von Cerinthus und Sulpicia (pp. 419–446)

Teil III: Wissensvermittlung in Text und Bild: Rhetorische Exemplarität und didaktische exempla
Simone Finkmann, Anja Behrendt und Anke Walter: Einleitung (pp. 449–453)
Ursula Gärtner: nempe exemplis discimus. Tradition und Beispiel bei Phaedrus (3.9) (pp. 455–472)
Craig Williams: The Poetry of Animals in Love. A Reading of Oppian’s Halieutica and Cynegetica (pp. 473–500)
Marco Formisano: Beyond the Fence. Columella’s Garden (pp. 501–514)
Lars Mielke: Zur Vereinbarkeit von ratio und reuerentia in Columellas Umgang mit Vergil (pp. 515–545)
Marco Fucecchi: A Lesson from the East: A New Pattern of Virility in Ovid’s Fasti (pp. 547–573)
Nicola Hömke: Mit Alexander dem Großen und Albinovanus Pedo am Ende der Welt. Finis mundi als rhetorischer Topos in Sen. Suas. 1.15 (pp. 575–594)
Wytse Keulen: The ‘Controversial’ Continence of Scipio in Literature and Art: Gellius’ Noctes Atticae and Nicolò dell’Abate (pp. 595–615)
Gerlinde Huber-Rebenich: Titi summa clementia. Unbeachtete Zeugen für ein sprichwörtliches Herrscherbild (pp. 617–635)
Michael Erler: Disertus vel desertus (Aug. Conf. 2.3.5). Augustinus als Panegyriker und Anti-Panegyriker (pp. 637–654)
Judith Hallett: The Endeavours and exempla of the German Refugee Classicists Eva Lehmann Fiesel and Ruth Fiesel (pp. 655–693)


[1] Reitz, C. and Finkmann, S. (eds.) 2019: Structures of Epic Poetry (4 vols). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

[2] Horster, M. and Reitz, C. (eds.) 2005: Wissensvermittlung in dichterischer Gestalt. Palingenesia vol. 85. Stuttgart: Steiner.