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M. Tulli Ciceronis De re publica, De legibus, Cato Maior de senectute, 
Laelius de amicitia. Edited by J.G.F. POWELL. Oxford Classical Texts.
Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. lxxvi + 390. Cloth,
$35.00. ISBN 0–19–814669–8.

Order this text for $32.42 from Amazon.com using this link and benefit
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Print Version: CJ 103.3 (2008): 325–9

Different texts demand different qualities in an editor, and although the
four texts in this volume are all by Cicero, they are not alike in their
demands. De senectute and De amicitia are well preserved and solidly
transmitted; De legibus is poorly transmitted in corrupt manuscripts; and
De re publica exists only as three sorts of fragments, only one of which
has any extended transmission at all: a palimpsest, a great many quotations
and the Somnium Scipionis, one of the most copied of all Ciceronian texts.
Sen. and Am. require judicious sorting of evidence; Leg. needs a bold
conjectural critic as well as a careful reader of manuscripts; and the
skills required by a fragmentary text are hard to define, but very
different from either of the others. It is a mark of Jonathan Powell’s
versatility and skill as an editor that he has done a superb job at two of
the three tasks and a highly respectable job at the third; and if I find
his treatment of the fragments of Rep. not wholly satisfactory, his edition
as a whole is a vast improvement over Ziegler’s text. Not all the texts in
this volume are new: nearly 20 years ago, P. published a full and
well-received edition of Sen. (Cambridge, 1988), the text of which he
repeats with slight changes and abridgment of the apparatus. He also
previously published texts of Am. and the Somnium without apparatus
(Warminster, 1990); the texts are essentially the same, while the apparatus
is obviously new. The rest of Rep. and all of Leg. are entirely new
editions, and it is on those that this review will concentrate. [n. 1]

To appreciate the variations in P.’s technique, one need only compare
portions of Leg. and Am. with their equivalents in the previously standard
editions. In Am. 1–32, there are only nine differences (in addition to
correcting a typographical error and changes of orthography) from Simbeck,
many of them minor; but the apparatus supporting the text is completely
different and based on much better evidence. The greatest change, and a
very valuable one, is in punctuation and paragraphing. In Leg. 2.1–33, on
the other hand, there are more textual changes from Ziegler–Goerler in the
first five chapters than in the whole sample of Am., and there are as many
of P.’s own conjectures as there are changes of any kind in the text of Am.
In part, the changes stem from P.L. Schmidt’s careful work on the
manuscript tradition; in part, from P.’s reasonable belief that even an
unfinished work of Cicero ought to be comprehensible.

Many of P.’s changes to Leg., and some of his emendations, are for the
better. The addition of decet at 2.27 is certainly needed, and that of Ioue
at 2.7 is probably right; P.’s treatment of divine etymologies at 2.28–9
brings clarity, and it is worth noting that he restores good sense or good
Latinity as often by returning to a manuscript reading (e.g., restoring
eius at 2.14) as by adopting an emendation. His choices are not always
convincing: the addition of diuini diuina at 2.22 clarifies, but may not be
needed, as it repeats the content of 2.19.2. While P. is right to print
Vahlen’s id est <ut> at 2.5 and Gulielmius’ consessu at 2.13, Lambinus’
etenim for ut enim at 2.6 is still necessary. In selecting among manuscript
variants, P.’s judgment is excellent; the one exception is that he tends to
favor the 12th-century manuscript P more than is justified. For the most
part, however, P.’s text is both plausible and intelligible, and where his
emendations are not convincing, they generally point to a genuine problem.

In Rep., although there are places where the text is obviously corrupt as
well as incomplete, there is less need for radical change, and P. is
accordingly less radical. Again, some of the changes from Ziegler’s overly
cautious Teubner edition are excellent: P. is right to follow Steinacker in
transposing “de qua modo dicebatur” at 1.28, to accept Francken’s vicina
for vitia at 1.44 and to insert ita at 1.57. On the other hand, his
transposition of “cum … queant” at 1.9, while superficially attractive,
leaves it unclear to whom auxilium is being brought. At 1.29 his conjecture
quapiam is clumsy; the transmitted quam is problematic, but can be
explained. At 1.48 the supplement regna (Moser) is wrong: the topic is
oligarchy, not monarchy. P. similarly fails to understand the problem with
ciuitatum at 1.51, where a reference is needed to citizens, not states;
Kenney’s ciuium (not reported in P.’s apparatus) or something similar is
needed. At 1.30 P.’s atqui for atque and possimus for possumus are possible
but unnecessary, while in the same paragraph he is unduly conservative in
defending, with very awkward punctuation, the transmitted si modo aliquid
valent. P.’s punctuation, indeed, deserves a separate review: at times it
is excellent, and restores much sense to the text, but it frequently
substitutes British academic style for German academic style, which is no
improvement. There are places where the profusion of commas resembles
nothing more than a plague of locusts. In this matter, less is better.

P.’s generally excellent judgment in editing coherent text, however, does
not extend to the organization of fragments, particularly in Rep. Book 3.
His single largest change to the familiar text is not an emendation, but
the rearrangement of the later leaves of the palimpsest: what has
traditionally been 5.6–7 has become 3.3, and 3.4–6 have been moved to
follow 3.7. P. is right (see his discussion, vii–viii) that pages 199–200
of V cannot be securely located, but his arguments both textual and
substantive for relocating it are unconvincing, and the preface of Book 3
as he prints it veers unhappily from broad cultural anthropology, to a
fairly narrow description of the task of a Roman rector rerum publicarum,
back to a statement of the prevalence of wise men in all states, and then
to a broad distinction between practitioners of the contemplative and
active life, ending with the combination of both in the protagonists of
Rep. itself. Ziegler’s version placed the description of the rector in
Scipio’s mouth in Book 5, which we know to have concerned the role of the
statesman; the preface of Book 3 moved from cultural history, to the
contemplative and active lives, to the presence of wise men in all states.
The only virtue of P.’s revision is that the preface ends with reference to
the protagonists, but that is not enough to justify his rearrangement.

P.’s other major reshuffling in Book 3 is equally unsatisfactory: in
Philus’ speech, he places pp. 1/2 and 11/12 of V earlier than Ziegler in
the collection of fragments, on the ground that this order corresponds more
closely with the summary in Lactantius Inst. 5.16. But as P. himself
admits, a large portion of Philus’ speech corresponds to nothing in
Lactantius’ summary, and it is arbitrary to use the silence of a
tendentious Christian apologist as evidence for detailed reconstruction of
Philus’ speech: no critic that I know ignores the order given by
Lactantius, but no one other than P. tries to press it so far. P. gives
little credit to Ferrary’s brilliant reconstructions of the speeches of
Philus and Laelius, which make philosophical as well as philological sense.

In dealing with the fragments of Rep. preserved in quotations, P. prides
himself on excluding from the text all words not by Cicero himself. That
leaves the fragments in their naked incomprehensibility; and while Ziegler
put too much in the text, P. relegates too much to an apparatus. Similarly,
he deliberately does not (except in Philus’ speech) try to place fragments
in an order corresponding to any reasonable reconstruction: he groups them
by subject and leaves any whose location is not absolutely secure in a
group at the end of each book (or of the whole text). The arrangement draws
attention to the precariousness of reconstruction—but it abandons the
editor’s responsibility to make the text as comprehensible as possible.

The treatment of fragments is not the only way in which P.’s edition is
unhelpful: he fails to give references to the source (or other edition) of
texts quoted (e.g., Ennius at 1.30 or Homer several times in Leg. 2); he
often fails to set off quoted lines of poetry and gives an inadequate
apparatus for the famous (and famously corrupt) verses from Ennius’
Iphigenia at 1.30; he is inconsistent in telling the reader where to find
fragments he has moved; and he breaks up testimonia in a manner that makes
them almost impossible to comprehend as units (again, Ziegler went too far
in the other direction). Ziegler got a great deal wrong in his
reconstructions, particularly of Book 3; but at least he was generous in
quoting testimonia and supplying adequate information about the fragments.
P.’s is a bare-bones version, and is organized in a way that makes it
difficult to find the evidence even when he has given it.

Other matters of presentation are equally problematic. At Rep. 1.30 (a
passage cited earlier) P. prints si modo aliquid, valent where Ziegler
printed Mueller’s si modo aliquid, <id> valent and I printed Alanus’ si
modo aliquid <valent, id> valent, both at least plausible emendations. P.’s
apparatus reveals nothing. Nor is his silence here unique: I note
reasonable emendations in Book 1 not reported at 1.21, 22, 42, 50, 51 and
59. Indeed, throughout the volume P. seems grudging in reporting the work
of other scholars: most emendations that are mentioned are those P.
accepts, or at passages where he accepts another correction. That makes it
difficult to tell, when his text disagrees with other editions and there is
no note in the apparatus, which editor is in error or if something is
simply missing. At Am. 4, Simbeck reads fuisset while P. (in both of his
editions) reads fuerit; in context, the former is more likely to be right.
At Rep. 1.7, P. reads conservandorum civium gratia, Ziegler conservandorum
civium causa; the latter is correct. At Leg. 2.22, P. reads impium esto,
Ziegler–Goerler impie commissum esto; the former seems right, but neither
text has any note in the apparatus. Irrelevant displays of learning appear
in the apparatus from time to time: what is the point of the long note on
aequabilis at Rep 1.43, where there is no textual problem? And why, when
earlier editors have got something right, does P. occasionally take the
trouble to suggest that they were wrong? At Am. 9, he prints Galum
(correctly) in the text and in the apparatus comments that “editors” have
printed Gallum. True enough for Ziegler in Rep., but not for Simbeck in the
precise passage on which P. makes the comment. At Am. 16, printing quae in
the text, P. wonders in the apparatus whether the transmitted reading was
quom—again, Simbeck’s reading in the text. But because P. is so concerned
to harmonize spelling to its pasteurized early imperial form, he is
reluctant to admit that a form like “quom” could be both transmitted and
correct for Ciceronian Latin.

As a reviewer, one concentrates on problems, and there are not a few in
P.’s text: above all, that he seems reluctant to give his reader any aid
beyond the bare minimum. He even comments, in the preface (p. l), that he
would have preferred to leave out the (editorially supplied) indications of
speaker in Leg., but was persuaded that readers might be annoyed. Indeed
they would, just as they should be at the unnecessarily stingy information
given about the fragments of Rep. and various other user-unfriendly
elements of this edition. But despite these carpings, and despite the fact
that for Rep. and Leg. this edition supplements but does not replace the
older standard texts, P. deserves our profound thanks. His careful and
thorough work on the manuscripts, his thoughtful text and intelligent
selection of readings and his massive improvement of punctuation and
paragraphing in all the texts are of greater value than the weaknesses of
presentation and (occasionally) judgment. This volume is both valuable and
necessary for any student of Cicero. [n. 2]

Columbia University in the City of New York

[n. 1] For the purposes of this review I have not commented on the text of
Sen., which has been reviewed before: see, for example, Douglas, JRS 79
(1989) 198–9; Fantham, CW 83 (1989/90) 123–4; Fedeli, Gnomon 62 (1990)
689–92. I base my observations on a full collation against earlier standard
editions of sample passages from the different texts: Rep. 1.1–59 and
3.1–32 against Ziegler (Leipzig, 1969); Leg. 2.1–33 against Ziegler
(Freiburg–Würzburg, 3rd ed. rev. by W. Goerler, 1979); Am. 1–32 against
Simbeck (Leipzig, 1917, repr. 1961).

[n. 2] I note also that in at least three places (Rep. 1.25, 43, 47) the
press has printed a line without dividing the words. A corrected reprint is

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