CJ-ONLINE Archives

February 2009


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Reply To:
Classical Journal On-Line <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 1 Feb 2009 16:43:39 -0600
text/plain (146 lines)
Aristophanes: Fragments. Edited and Translated by JEFFREY HENDERSON. Loeb 
Classical Library 502. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 
2008. Pp. ix + 559. Cloth, $24.00. ISBN 978–0–674–99615–1.

Order this text for $24.00 from Amazon.com using this link and 
benefit CAMWS and the Classical Journal:


Previously published CJ Online reviews are at 

CJ Forum Online 2009.02.01

I must declare at the very beginning that I am currently at work on two 
volumes of the Loeb Classical Library on The Fragments of Old Comedy 
(excluding Aristophanes) and thus have more than a passing interest in the 
volume under review.

The Loeb Library has over the past few years moved beyond preserved (or 
mostly preserved) texts and begun to make fragmentary ancient authors 
available to the grateful reader. We now have West’s Greek Epic Fragments 
(nr. 497), and for drama, Sophocles vol. III (Lloyd-Jones, nr. 483) and the 
excellent first of two volumes of Euripides (Collard & Cropp, nrs. 504, 
506), and we await the re-working of Aeschylus by Sommerstein including a 
wholly new third volume for the fragments (nr. 505). With Aristophanes V 
Jeffrey Henderson (hereafter H.) has given us a thorough and very welcome 
text and translation of the nearly 1000 fragments of Aristophanes to 
accompany his equally appreciated four volumes of the eleven extant plays.

But H. gives us much more than the fragments themselves. The first 109 
pages present much of the testimonia about Aristophanes, including a 
complete translation of the Life, extracts from many of the writers 
collected in Koster (Scholia in Aristophanem, Pars IA) and the references 
to Aristophanes by later writers of antiquity. Particularly welcome are the 
extracts from writers on meter (nrs. 96–112) and certain less well-known 
stories, such as Maximus of Tyre on Socrates (nr. 34), Eunapius (nr. 35), 
and the intertextual allusion in Achilles Tatius (nr. 73). I did not find 
the anonymous Koster V, although much of what he has to say is reproduced 
in Tzetzes’ account (nr. 83b). H. includes six papyri (F 590–5) which 
can with reasonable security be assigned to Aristophanes, suggesting 
attributions (F 590 to Anagyrus, and F 592 to Lemnian Women).

H. on p. 24 (nr. 20) rightly reads the names of Aristophanes and Cantharus 
on the list of victors at the Dionysia (IG ii2 2325.58, 60), although on 
the right-hand page adds “possibly Aristomenes” and “possibly 
Callistratus.” On p. 29 (nrs. 24 and 25) a note might have made it 
clearer that the two attacks by Cleon are not likely to refer to the same 
occasion, although H. does quote the scholiast to Wasps. On pp. 35–43 
(nrs. 30–4) a note would again have warned the unwary reader that the 
enlistment of Aristophanes in the prosecution of Socrates ignores the gap 
of 24 years between the original production of Clouds and that legal 
action. In nr. 45 the translation of Clouds 554 as “a bad poet’s bad 
transmogrification of my Knights” misses the image of clothing in the 
text, “turned my [or “our”?] Knights inside out” (cf. F 58).

How does one present and translate fragments for the Loeb these days? And 
in particular what does one do with the most fragmentary remains, the bare 
allusion or one-word citation, such as “bed-mate” (Aristophanes F 893) 
or “Hysiae” (Euripides F 180)? In Lloyd-Jones’ Sophocles III, only 
substantial fragments were included, making this essentially a selected 
edition. Collard & Cropp include all the fragments, but “brief 
fragments” appear in the introduction to each play in translation only. 
H. gives us every fragment with equal attention to each, brief provenance 
plus Greek text on the left-hand side, English translation on the right. I 
found the layout disconcerting throughout. Left-hand pages contain swathes 
of empty space while all introductory material and notes to the individual 
plays and fragments appear on the right-hand pages. The very first page of 
the text (p. 110) is particularly wasteful in this respect, and there are 
frequent and unattractive widowed play-titles (as on pp. 118, 128, 204, 
326, etc.). In Collard & Cropp’s Euripides, on the other hand, the 
introductory material is presented in italic type equally on left- and 
right-hand sides, before the familiar Loeb format resumes. This would have 
made for a more attractive and economical layout of the material here. In a 
few cases footnotes that begin in one play continue one or two plays later, 
e.g., n. 125 which begins on p. 355 (Fry-cooks) and resumes on p. 362 
(Telmessians). But perhaps we should not fault the author for a problem 
elsewhere in the process of production.

Traditional Loebs have purposely been light on bibliography, which can 
easily and quickly date the volume. Collard & Cropp is a significant 
exception as each play is provided with a reasonable, if short, 
bibliography and reference in the introduction and notes to the literature. 
At places in Aristophanes V certain plays and fragments would have been 
better served either by discussions in the introductions or notes to 
individual fragments, alerting the reader to controversies or significant 
treatments. For example, the other Thesmophoriazusae deserved a note about 
Butrica’s radical re-dating of the play to the mid-420s (Phoenix, 2001), 
Babylonians could have benefited from a note about the still common (and 
mistaken) assumption that Aristophanes is defending the cause of the allies 
against Athenian imperialism (Forrest in Essays in Honour of C.E. Stevens 
[1975] is particularly good here), and even my article (Phoenix, 1988) 
suggesting that Thrasymachus in Banqueters F 205.8 is not the sophist, 
addressed by apostrophe, but the name of the wayward son. Finally, would it 
have been worth mentioning the suggestion (see Taplin, Comic Angels, pp. 
65–6) that Proagon is the play depicted on the Choregos-vase?

On the whole the quality of text, translation and notes is very high and 
will be of immense value to the browser who needs to consult quickly and 
conveniently the fragments of Aristophanes. I have a few comments and 
questions about some individual passages. In F 11 (Aeolosicon) was Heracles 
actually a character in the play? All the scholiast says is that 
“Aristophanes makes fun of Heracles as a glutton.” On p. 129 
(introduction to Anagyrus) Clouds 549–62 does mention more than one 
attack on Hyperbolus, “now everybody is laying into Hyperbolus.” In (i) 
on p. 130, in addition to a minor typo of Babyloniois for Babylonious, 
toutou should refer to the hero of Anagyrus, not to the deme. Treat 
“Anagyrous as an Attic deme” as an interjection, and take toutou with 
the “hero,” who then becomes the new subject in the next sentence 
introduced by ho de.

Since the hero Anagyrous took revenge on an old man living nearby, who had 
cut down the grove of trees—the Anagyroi are a deme in Attica. A man cut 
down his grove, and he [the hero] made the man’s mistress fall madly in 
love with his son.

Farther down the page in (ii) bomos is better translated as “altar” 
than “tomb.” In Babylonians H.’s presentation of the fragments 
demonstrates just how flimsy the cases are for Aristophanes’ alleged 
championing of the allies and for equating the chorus with the cities of 
the arche. F 71 shows that the scholiasts were merely guessing at what 
“It’s the people of Samos, how very lettered!” meant. In F 129 (Old 
Age), I felt that the translation of teknon as “kiddo” was not a happy 
one; I tried this out on both Canadian and English students and neither 
group was comfortable with it. In F 490 does “in Callippides” refer to 
Strattis’ play of that name? I was glad to see in the introduction to 
Seasons that H. is sceptical about whether the testimony of Cicero (Laws 
2.37) in fact refers to that comedy. The link is merely that both Cicero 
and F 578 mention Sabazius, who is also found in at Wasps 9–10, Birds 873 
and Lysistrata 388. This is an unsubstantial foundation indeed. More likely 
Cicero is referring to Aristophanes’ lost Heroes.

But these are minor quibbles and I would not wish to detract from my 
appreciation of a fine and meticulous job of giving us the Aristophanic 
fragments in a very useful volume.

Trent University

You may remove yourself from the CJ-Online list-serv by sending an email 
to: [log in to unmask] Leave the subject line blank, and in the first 
line of the message write: UNSUBSCRIBE