F. Ginelli u.a. (Hrsg.): The continuity of classical literature through fragmentary traditions

The continuity of classical literature through fragmentary traditions.

Ginelli, Francesco; Lupi, Francesco
Trends in Classics - Supplementary Volumes (105)
Berlin 2021: de Gruyter
Anzahl Seiten
228 S.
€ 89,95
Rezensiert für H-Soz-Kult von
Monica Berti, Historisches Seminar, Universität Leipzig

This volume is a collection of eight chapters deriving from papers originally presented in July 2017 at the panel “From Sources to Editions and back again. The Continuity of Classical Literature through Fragmentary Traditions”, which was organised for the 10th Celtic Conference in Classics held at McGill University and the University of Montreal. The resulting book has been edited by Francesco Ginelli and Francesco Lupi and published as a supplementary volume of the De Gruyter series Trends in Classics, which is edited by Franco Montanari and Antonios Rengakos.

As it is stated in the introduction of the book, this editorial initiative is due not only to the important role played by fragmentary texts in the field of Classical literature, but also to the constant need of comparing methods, approaches, and goals of scholarship about textual fragments, which is demonstrated by the growing number of conferences and volumes devoted to what Ginelli and Lupi present as fragmentology.[1] In order to define this field of study and its current challenges, the two editors provide readers with an introductory “checklist of the steps needed to ensure that the study and editing of fragmentary texts rest on a methodologically sound base” (p. 3). The main questions of this checklist focus on the nature of fragmentary texts, the distinction between fragments and testimonies, their direct and indirect tradition, and the crucial role of the context in which fragments are preserved.[2] These introductory pages are clearly written and outlined in structured paragraphs. They can be therefore aimed also at an audience without a primary interest in textual fragments and can be used for didactic purposes. At the end of the introduction Ginelli and Lupi add an overview and a summary of each chapter’s content and the book includes also lists of figures and tables and two indices of names and ancient sources.

The eight contributions of the volume present concrete methodological issues for collecting and studying textual fragments belonging to different genres and periods of time. Five of these chapters analyze Greek fragmentary sources and three of them Latin ones. In terms of chronology, the volume ranges from archaic Greek poetical fragments to the early Imperial period. As far as genres are concerned, contributors address a variety of fragmentary texts that can be summarized following the order of the chapters: 1) editorial matters concerning the reattribution of indirectly transmitted fragments of Hesiod and minor recent direct and indirect findings for his corpus (Stefano Vecchiato, Marginalia to Hesiodic Fragments: A Possible Dis-attribution (Fr. 41 M.–W.), a Possible Attribution (Fr. 327 M.–W.), and Some Recently (Re-)discovered Fragments); 2) recontextualization and analysis of two lyric fragments of Sophocles’ Tereus preserved by Johannes Stobaeus with reference to the manuscript evidence (Francesco Lupi, To Belong or not to Belong: A Few Remarks on the Lyric Fragments of Sophocles’ Tereus); 3) the use of incipits (archai) in Greek antiquity with a focus on Aristophanes and Euripides, and controversial examples in ancient and modern philological discussions (Chiara Meccariello, ‘Well Begun is Half Done’? Uses and Misuses of Incipits in Greek Antiquity and Beyond); 4) examples for a critical reconstruction of a new corpus of Greek Hellenistic Oratory (Roberta Berardi, Collecting Fragments for a Fragmentary Literary Genre: The Case of Greek Hellenistic Oratory); 5) preliminary notes for a new numbering of the fragments of erudite literary works of Cornelius Nepos (Francesco Ginelli, The New Nepos: Prolegomena Toward a Renumbering of Cornelius Nepos’ Fragments); 6) analysis of the sources used by Nonius Marcellus in the De compendiosa doctrina (Jarrett T. Welsh, The Fifth Glossary of Nonius Marcellus); 7) editorial notes for the reconstruction of the so called Mythographus Homericus (Nereida Villagra, Mythographus Homericus, 'Ιστορίαι and Fragmentary Mythographers: A Case Study on Phineus and the Argonauts); 8) new readings of texts preserved in the corpus of the military papyri of Dura Europos (Giulio Iovine, The Unruly Fragments: Old Problems and New Perspectives in Latin Military Papyri from Dura-Europos (P. Dura 56, 64, 72, 74, 76, 89, 113)).

This volume is constituted by a bit more than two hundred pages and includes a selection of topics within the big domain of studies about ancient fragments of Classical languages. In spite of that, titles and problems of the above mentioned contributions show that the volume highlights many of the most important current trends of scholarship about fragmentology and that can be considered a new valuable bibliographic contribution to the definition of this field of study. The main trends addressed in the book can be summarized in the following methodological reflections.

The so called fragmentary tradition poses constant problems of revising the attribution of fragments to authors and works, which are due to the complex interrelation among the language of ancient sources, their transmission, and their modern editorial interpretations. The vitality and continuity of fragmentary literature are shown by the fact that new findings in the direct and indirect tradition are always possible. In this perspective and in order to properly reconstruct and understand the preservation of scattered pieces of evidence about lost literature, it is always fundamental to analyse the context in which fragments are preserved.[3] The analysis of devices like incipits and in general of the language of ancient bibliographic references in literary and paraliterary texts is essential for the comprehension of citation habits in ancient times and for the exploration of traces of ancient librarian resources. The complex and multiple definition of literary genres, whose boundaries depend too often on modern categories, needs a constant reassessment and is even more important for fragmentary works, whose characteristics and goals are often hidden and lost in their long and fragmented transmission. Arranging fragments in modern collections is not definitive and is an essential philological exercise that challenges every scholar of a new edition of fragmentary authors and works. Finally, a modern definition of fragment requires also the inclusion of material fragments bearing textual evidence, because this comparison allows us to better understand and differentiate ancient fragments preserved from the past, fragments preserved in the manuscript tradition, and textual fragments resulting from the philological analysis that modern scholars conduct on extant sources.

[1] It is certainly beyond the scope of this review to cite all the editions concerning fragmentary authors and works, but we can mention two active editorial enterprises such as the Brill’s Jacoby Online and the Fragmenta Comica (FrC) of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Many recent activities deal also with the treatment of textual fragments in the digital environment: see Monica Berti, Digital Editions of Historical Fragmentary Texts, Heidelberg 2021, DOI: <https://doi.org/10.11588/propylaeum.898>.
[2] For all these questions a reference resource is still represented by Glenn W. Most (eds.), Collecting Fragments. Fragmente sammeln, Göttingen 1997.
[3] The role of the context has received much attention in recent scholarship: cf. Ute Tischer / Alexandra Forst / Ursula Gärtner (eds.), Text, Kontext, Kontextualisierung. Moderne Kontextkonzepte und antike Literatur, Hildesheim 2018.

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