BMCR 2021.03.15

Scholia graeca in Odysseam, IV, Scholia ad libros η-θ

, Scholia graeca in Odysseam, IV, Scholia ad libros η-θ. Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2020. Pp. xxxii, 216. ISBN 9788893594141 €38,00.

Thirteen years after the publication of its first instalment, Pontani’s edition of the scholia Graeca in Odysseam has reached the fourth volume, the scholia to books η and θ. Reviewers in BMCR[1] and elsewhere[2] have commented on the need for an updated edition of the scholia to the Odyssey, given that Dindorf’s edition is both outdated and inadequate,[3] and Ludwich’s deals only with the scholia on the first 309 lines of the poem.[4] Erbse’s edition of the scholia to the Iliad[5] serves as a standard for this much needed resource, despite the differences in the material available and the choices made. For the scholia to the Odyssey there is no equivalent of the Iliad’s Venetus A and its subscriptiones; Alexandrian scholarship on the Odyssey from named sources, both critical and exegetical, is largely transmitted through manuscripts from the thirteenth and fourteenth century, without the explicit identification of the main sources. Pontani collected the scholia through the fourteenth century, thus presenting the whole tradition from antiquity through the Byzantine period. In contrast to Erbse, he includes the V scholia (known as D scholia to the Iliad[6]), representative of a non-scholarly tradition of interpretation. Based on a large number of manuscripts (conspectus pp. xxvii–xxxi), Pontani’s collection combines the vetera, the vulgata and the recentioria with ample classical and Byzantine testimonia, glossaria, and grammatical treatises. Those interested in Pontani’s study of the textual tradition are referred to his Sguardi su Ulisse. La tradizione esegetica greca all’Odissea (Rome 2005)[7]; with the exception of volume I, the individual volumes of the scholia edition do not provide any information on his study of the manuscripts beyond the annotated conspectus siglorumand the stemma codicum.

Scholia Graeca in Odysseam IV is, like its three predecessors in the series, comprehensive, accurate, convincing with regard to readings, and inclusive. The great improvements that made Pontani’s edition in every way superior to Dindorf’s (and Ludwich’s) from the start are again to be enjoyed and applauded in this fourth instalment: the numbering of individual scholia, marginal indication of probable sources, in-text references, an apparatus on parallels, and, in general, a very pleasant layout. For all these reasons, the fourth instalment deserves to be recommended with no less enthusiasm and vigour than the preceding volumes. Having studied the entries and Pontani’s apparatuses, I not only recommend Scholia Graeca in Odysseam IV to scholars and students alike, but urge everyone interested in Homer’s Odyssey and its textual tradition to make maximum use of this outstanding and accessible tool for study and research.

Given the absence of BMCR reviews of volumes II and III however, the present assessment also aims to add to the critical examination of the project as a whole. In earlier reviews, various points of improvement were brought to the attention of the reading public, the author, and the publishing house: I will briefly assess them with regard to Pontani’s guidance for the intended readership, the edition’s layout, and the pace of the project.

The Latin preface to volume IV is again brief but mentions the relevant recently published secondary literature that is selectively referenced in the parallel-apparatus.[8] Newcomers and first-time users still have to refer to the preface to volume I and Pontani’s Sguardi (fortunately still available) for explanation of the study of the manuscripts and the choices made for this edition of the scholia. Pontani maintains the mid-note references to indicate the provenance of shorter versions of a scholion. The abbreviations used in the marginal indications of probable sources and in the apparatuses are not listed: many are common enough, but a full list would make the work more user-friendly. Compared with volume I, the diversity of probable sources decreases: V, Aristonicus, and the exegetical tradition make up the bulk, with occasional reference to Porphyry, Herodian and the allegorical tradition. Nicanor figures more prominently, with eighteen attributions in η, and fifteen in θ, predictably on matters pertaining to punctuation and phraseology. Attribution is suggested by the occurrence of a form of στιγμή/στίζειν, διαστάλλειν, συνάπτειν, the combination ἀφ’ ἑτέρας / ἄλλης ἀρχῆς or τὸ ἑξῆς, but even then some would better be followed by a question mark (η 117d, η 203b, η 255b [not attributed to Nicanor by Carnuth], η 318d, θ 186c [Carnuth], θ 236a1, θ 246c, θ 268a, θ 329d1, θ 372a, θ 564b). Thematic indices to the testimonia are not to be expected at this point in the project.

In contrast to Erbse, Pontani does not print the sigla in bold face, a suggested improvement that would facilitate an overview of individual entries. Other typographical issues raised with regard to volume I have by now long been addressed: the individual entries in the parallel-apparatus have been more clearly separated, and any omitted Greek is consistently rendered by three dots. The awkwardly missing spaces after elided words has been restored, though I spotted an infelicitous typo (twice) that did away with the space (following hiatus) preceding the spiritus lenis in the apparatus on line 15 on page 79.

Finally, a word on the progress of the project. With the appearance of volume I, the scholia to the Odyssey’s first two books, the realisation that the density of scholia diminished in later books, and the acknowledgement of the project’s indispensable value for the study of Homer’s ancient and Byzantine critics, many wished for the publication to progress quickly. Within two years, volume II was published, volumes III and IV followed with regular intervals of five years. At this pace, completion of the edition of the scholia will take another 20 to 25 years. In the meantime, modes of publication have changed, both through a growth in online publication, and in response to the changing needs of scholars in a global health crisis. The wish for a hardcover edition that would last for at least a century was a logical one, but has been superseded by the wish for an online edition by 2020. May the next instalment follow very soon.


[1] Eleanor Dickey on volume I: BMCR 2008.07.39.

[2] René Nünlist on volume I: Mnemosyne 64.1 (2011), pp.140–144.

[3] Wilhelm Dindorf, Scholia graeca in Homeri Odysseam (Oxford 1855).

[4] Arthur Ludwich, Scholia in Homeri Odysseae A 1–309, auctiora et emendatiora (Königsberg 1888–1890, reprint Hildesheim 1966).

[5] Hartmut Erbse, Scholia graeca in Homeri Iliadem (scholia vetera) (Berlin 1969–1988).

[6] Collected in Helmut van Thiel, Scholia D in Iliadem. Proecdosis aucta et correctior 2014. Secundum codices manu scriptos. (Köln 2014).

[7] Reviewed by Emanuele Dettori in BMCR 2005.09.40.

[8] West’s edition of the Odyssey (Berlin; Boston 2017; review by Barbara Graziosi and Johannes Haubold BMCR 2019.01.05) ‘tamquam novum fundamentum iam adhibenda est’ (p. ix); in addition to editions of the papyrus Lipsiensis and (the scholia in) codex V1,especially F. Schironi, The Best of the Grammarians (Ann Arbor 2018; reviewed by Eleanor Dickey BMCR 2019.04.35) on Aristarchus’ ars critica, and E. Göransson (ed.), The Arts of Editing Medieval Greek and Latin: a Casebook (Toronto 2018) on the ars edendi.