BMCR 2024.06.27

Arrien. Anabase d’Alexandre. Tome II: Livres III-V

, , Arrien. Anabase d'Alexandre. Tome II: Livres III-V. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 571. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2023. Pp. xxxii, 576. ISBN 9782251006567.

This book is the second volume in a new edition of Arrian’s Anabasis, covering Books Three to Five, with a freshly edited Greek text, facing French translation, and notes. Danièle Gaillard-Goukowsky established the text; Paul Goukowsky provided the notes and the translation. Despite serious errors and inconsistencies, this is a fairly serviceable edition of Arrian. It offers a fuller apparatus than the currently standard texts, though one to be approached with some caution; there is helpful annotation; and a clear, mostly accurate rendering into French. Classical research libraries should seek a copy.

The editions of Arrian’s Anabasis with which many scholarly readers will be most familiar are, at best, jejune in accounting for the constitution of the text. The 1967 Teubner edition, edited by A. G. Roos and revised by G. Wirth, has a meagre apparatus. P. A. Brunt’s Loeb edition of 1976 and 1983 is that of Roos–Wirth with minor modifications. It comments only intermittently on textual matters.

This new recension hovers uneasily between being a general reader’s text and a full-blown critical edition (which, to be sure, considerations of space might have made hard to manage). On the one hand, the present edition parades a mass of detail on manuscripts far beyond that which a general reader is likely to need (especially the “interventions généralement malheureuses” from the second copyist of the Vienna manuscript, VIII–XVII), although much of this, particularly on the indirect tradition (XVIII–XXXI), will be fascinating to the specialist. On the other, it is not always possible readily to determine why Roos–Wirth and Gaillard-Goukowsky are offering different texts. Examples include: ἐμβαλόντων (Roos–Wirth) vs. ἐμβαλλόντων (Gaillard-Goukowsky) at 3.14.5; προσῆγε (Roos–Wirth) vs. προῆγε (Gaillard-Goukowsky) at 4.6.4 (where, in the absence of other considerations, the former is more convincing, in light of προσάγων in the following sentence); ἐξικνεῖτο (Roos–Wirth) vs. ἐξικνοῦντο (Gaillard-Goukowsky) at 4.21.6 (where, again, the former seems preferable, since one would usually expect the neuter τοξεύματα to take a singular verb,[1] as indeed it does with this very verb at 4.26.3); φανεῖται (Roos–Wirth) vs. φαίνεται (Gaillard-Goukowsky) at 5.9.2. As we shall see, where statements are made in the apparatus criticus, they do not seem always to be completely reliable. All the same, there is, at least, now more evidence on offer for the reader to sift than is the case with the most familiar editions.

When it comes to decisions about what to admit to the text, Gaillard-Goukowsky’s decisions are sometimes preferable to those in the currently standard editions. At 5.4.1, for example, Gaillard-Goukowsky’s καὶ οὗτος (following Eustathius) seems to me to be more likely for the required sense (“it too”, as Brunt renders it; cf. καὶ οὗτοι at 5.4.2) than the καὶ αὐτὸς of Roos–Wirth. At 5.13.4 (troop dispositions after the crossing of the Hydaspes), Gaillard-Goukowsky sensibly retains the καὶ of the manuscripts which differentiates the Agrianians from the javelin-throwers. Roos–Wirth and Brunt in his text (though not his translation) follow Lezius’ proposal to expunge the καὶ and so conflate the two. As Bosworth notes,[2] and Brunt implies,[3] it seems more likely that the javelin-throwers are a small group associated with the Agrianians whom Arrian, haphazard on such matters, has thus far failed to mention, than that all the Agrianians he is currently discussing are javelin-throwers.

Some other textual decisions are more questionable. These are the most striking:

(1) The mere observation that “on ne connaît aucun officier Macédonien de ce nom à l’époque d’Alexandre” (316 n. 27) is not sufficient to justify emending Menoitas to the Menidas we meet elsewhere in Arrian at 3.5.1, as Bosworth correctly observes (noting, too, that a Menoitas, not necessarily the same man, appears as a member of Peithon’s conspiracy against Antigonus in 317/6 at Diod. Sic. 19.47.1).[4]

(2) At 5.24.7, to produce the necessary sense that Sangala was captured by Alexander (“par Alexandre”, as Goukowsky puts it in the facing translation) would typically require the preposition πρός to take the genitive, as it regularly does in this sense elsewhere in the Anabasis (e.g., 5.25.1, 5.25.4, 5.26.5, 5.27.5). It is therefore disconcerting that Gaillard-Goukowsky chooses to construe it with the accusative (πρὸς Ἀλέξανδρον). This may simply be one of the several typographical errors in the Greek text (of which more anon).

(3) Blancardus’ decision to replace the name of Arsaces with the name Arsames at several points in the text, assuming the latter’s identity with the son of Artabazus, has justly been rejected by editors since Roos,[5] who restored the name of Arsaces as the manuscript reading.[6] Gaillard-Goukowsky rightly keeps the manuscript reading at 3.25.7, while noting Blancardus’ conjecture (attributed vaguely to “edd.”), but then substitutes the name of Arsames, without comment in the apparatus criticus, at 3.29.5. This yields a text in which Arrian is made to claim in the course of four chapters that two different men are both satrap of Areia. At 4.7.1, Gaillard-Goukowsky switches between the two men in the course of successive clauses: Stasanor is sent to Areia to apprehend Arsaces, and returns with Arsames in chains (ὡς Ἀρσάκην ξυλληψόμενος, τόν τε Ἀρσάμην δεδεμένον ἄγοντες). Once again, the apparatus criticus is silent. Goukowsky’s facing translation has “Arsamès” at both points in the sentence. This, as we have seen, is probably the wrong choice.

(4) The most intriguing piece of new manuscript evidence which appears in the volume is the addition of the clause καὶ τότε κτεῖναι before ὡς μηδένα ἀπολείπεσθαι at 4.3.5 which Gaillard-Goukowsky has discovered in C. This reading, unknown, so far as this reviewer can tell, to previous students of the text, would, if authentic to Arrian, entirely change the complexion of what Arrian says about Ptolemy on the fate of the unnamed seventh city involved in the First Sogdian Revolt. The text of the Anabasis as previously constituted has Ptolemy asserting that, after the town surrendered, Alexander distributed the people among his army and (in Brunt’s translation) “ordered them to be kept bound and under guard till he left their country, so that none of those responsible for the revolt should be left behind”. C adds the detail that, after Alexander left their country, the people were to be put to death.

This is a remarkable addition, on which Goukowsky does not comment in either his note on the passage (359 n. 31) or his more general discussion of the revolt (122). If authentic to Arrian, it would clear up the issue, which texts of Arrian thus far have left unaddressed, of what happened to the bound and guarded people after Alexander left their country. It certainly merits a place in the apparatus criticus.

Whether καὶ τότε κτεῖναι should be admitted to the text is another matter. It imputes to Ptolemy a version of Alexander’s behaviour that makes little sense. Victors in the ancient world sometimes, to be sure, carted those who had displeased them around for a period bound and guarded until death from deprivation or execution. Such was the fate of Vercingetorix (Plut. Caes. 27.10) and possibly (to take an example closer to home) Callisthenes (Arr. Anab. 4.14.3). But this usually happened when the victor had an interest in keeping an important foe alive for display purposes: in the case of Vercingetorix, so that he could be displayed in Caesar’s triumph (Dio Cass. 40.41.3).

In the present instance, it is not at all clear why Alexander would bother to distribute people amongst his army bound and guarded, march them all the way out of their country, and then murder them, when he could have saved himself the trouble by murdering them on the spot. Alexander was not squeamish about such matters; Goukowsky describes the results of the Sogdian Revolt as “un véritable génocide” (122). The only obvious justification would be an indisposition to do the dirty work in front of the remaining townsfolk; again, though, this seems an anomalous refinement of feeling for a place that Alexander had just conquered; would hardly have assured Alexander a better local reputation in the long run (the townsfolk would presumably have noticed that the people who were marched away never came back); and does not explain the elaboration of detail about organizing the prisoners and taking them completely out of their land to do it.

In short, καὶ τότε κτεῖναι, which is not in the other manuscripts, looks a lot like a copyist’s gloss. A scribe noticed that Arrian had not spelled out the ultimate fate of the prisoners; took a guess; and got it wrong. Bosworth’s speculation on what eventually happened to the prisoners in Ptolemy’s scenario seems much more probable: they were most likely sold as slaves; deposited to swell the numbers of the colonists at the soon-to-be-founded Alexandria Eschate; or allowed to join Alexander’s own troops once they were at a safe distance from their homeland.[7]

The text (like Brunt’s Loeb) has a fair few typographical errors, though not usually such as to cause confusion. Examples include: ᾖσαν for ἦσαν (3.10.4); στατοπέδου for στρατοπέδου (3.18.4); διαπεσεῖντὸ for διαπεσεῖν τὸ (4.13.6); αὑτῶ for αὑτῷ (4.15.6); διεώθησαν for διεσώθησαν (4.17.2); τοιαύτη for τοιαύτῃ (4.20.4); σωματφύλακες for σωματοφύλακες (4.21.4); ἐργάζεσθα for ἐργάζεσθαι (4.21.6); πρώτη for πρώτῃ (4.30.1); omission of a full stop after χωννύοντας (4.30.1); ἐγφύρωσαν for ἐγεφύρωσαν (5.7.2); τοῦ for του (5.9.4); ἀνεχώρνσαν for  ἀνεχώρησαν (5.23.5); αυτὸς for αὐτὸς (5.23.7); and  ξύγγωστοί for ξύγγνωστοί (5.27.6). Subscript iota is the most common casualty.

The text admits several original suggestions, as at 4.5.3 (ἀβασίλευτα), 4.22.6 (<ὑπάρχους>), 4.29.3 ([τῶν Ἰνδῶν]), 5.18.7 ([τὸν Ταξίλην]). None stands out as palmary, but all are worth consideration.

Goukowsky’s explanatory notes generally strike a good balance, neither reinventing the wheel nor despatching the reader to Bosworth’s commentary all the time. The notes occasionally have an uneasy relationship with Gaillard-Goukowsky’s text. At 3.5.3, for example, Gaillard-Goukowsky accepts the unnecessary emendation Χαλκιδέα, attributing it, incorrectly, to Schmieder, rather than to Geier.[8] Goukowsky’s accompanying note (317 n. 35) rightly observes that this individual is most probably not the historian Ephippus (BNJ 126), whom the emendation tries to make him – which makes one wonder why the unexceptionable patronymic Χαλκιδέως in some of the manuscripts has not been retained. In like vein, Goukowsky’s translation is generally fluent, precise, and a pleasure to read, but does not always quite represent the choices made for the Greek text on the facing page. We have already seen one instance of this, with Arsaces/Arsames at 4.7.1. Another example would be at 3.6.5: Goukowsky’s translation accepts Roos’s tentatively suggested addition <Ἀλεξάνδρῳ>,[9] which neither Gaillard-Goukowsky’s text nor the apparatus criticus even mentions.

In summary, then, this is a not altogether reliable edition of Arrian, which a reader should approach judiciously. It is unlikely to replace Brunt’s Loeb as most people’s go-to text for the Anabasis. On the other hand, there is much in it which is suggestive, and will provoke fresh scholarly enquiry.



[1] Exceptions do occur, of course, even in Arrian’s admired Xenophon (Xen. An. 1.7.17). There does not seem a good reason to expect one here.

[2] A. B. Bosworth, A Historical Commentary on Arrian’s History of Alexander, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1995), 279.

[3] P. A. Brunt (ed. and trans.), Arrian: History of Alexander and Indica, vol. 2 (Cambridge MA. and London, 1983), 485.

[4] A. B. Bosworth, A Historical Commentary on Arrian’s History of Alexander, vol. 1 (Oxford, 1980), 275.

[5] A. G. Roos and G. Wirth (eds.), Flavii Arriani Quae Exstant Omnia vol. 1: Alexandri Anabasis (Leipzig, 1967), 162.

[6] A. B. Bosworth, “A Missing Year in the History of Alexander the Great”, JHS 101 (1981), 17-39, at 22 n31.

[7] A. B. Bosworth, A Historical Commentary on Arrian’s History of Alexander, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1995), 21-2.

[8] R. Geier, Alexandri Magni historiarum scriptores aetate suppares (Leipzig, 1844), 310.

[9] A. G. Roos and G. Wirth (eds.), Flavii Arriani Quae Exstant Omnia vol. 1: Alexandri Anabasis (Leipzig, 1967), 125.