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Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

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Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Qimmik » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:36 pm

If you could exhume one Greek and/or one Latin text in good shape, what would you choose? Here's my choice:

Greek: a complete Sappho
Latin: an intact Propertius

In Greek, however, I'm torn between Sappho and Callimachus. Callimachus was one of the most important Greek poets, and his influence on Latin poetry seems to have been enormous. There are many other Greek authors worthy of exhumation: we'd like to have more Archilochus (not just fragments), more tragedy, more comedy (and some examples of old comedy other than Aristophanes--but lots more of him, too!), history (Theopompus, Cratinus).

In Latin, more LIvy, particularly the later books, more Tacitus. I don't think there's a major Latin poet who has been lost except perhaps Gallus (and maybe we would want him only so that we could better trace the development of Roman elegy). We might like to have some of the archaic poets, but quite a lot of Ennius--maybe enough--has survived in Servius and elsewhere.

What would you give up, if you had to, to obtain these works?

Greek: Xenophon's Cyropedia, maybe? Or Aelian Aristides (but not the Sacred Dreams).

Latin: Some speeches of Cicero? Cornelius Nepos?
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Scribo » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:17 pm

Greek: Panyassis, the rest of the cycle. Peisandros. Aeschylus' Akhilleis triad. Stesichorus...
Latin: Ennius (!), more Livy, the rest of Lucillius (Let's see his bite!), more Cato. I suppose Ovid's Medea because not including this would be like not including Callimachus for Greek.

Will stop there before I risk making a massive catalogue.... what am I willing to give up?

Greek: most Euripides frankly. A lot of the late stuff like bloody Nonnos.
Latin: Fortunatus. Sidonius definitely. I know I know...I'm cheating, you mean from the Classics. Erm...some of Seneca's essays. Some Terrence.

But, Qimmik, this way madness lies friend. You'll soon find yourself mulling over all sorts of lost and fragmentary works in your mind. :lol: I mean god imagine if we had MORE western Greek texts!? Or more Pacuvius...
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby mwh » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:29 pm

Simonides, no question. If I can’t have him, Stesichorus. In Latin I have enough: it’s Greek we’re short of. I’d be more than happy to swap some Cicero and all of Valerius Flaccus for a play by Cratinus.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Qimmik » Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:57 am

Yes, more Steisichorus, and a lot more Pindar--all the lost works.

I'd probably be willing to exchange Manilius for a complete Satyricon and the rest of Tacitus.

I hope I don't offend the manes of G.P. Goold, by writing that. I took a number of courses from him as an undergraduate, including Petronius. He was a great scholar and a wonderful teacher.

Maybe Lycophron's Alexandra could be surrendered for more Callimachus and Xenophanes.
Last edited by Qimmik on Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby MiguelM » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:44 am

Nice thread!

For Greek I'd probably take one of the pre-socratics, having a whole Parmenides or Empedocles would be great. (I thought about Heraclitus, but in general lines there'd probably nothing there that we can't already guess from what we have.) Also some non-Aristophanes comedy — someone must have played this game earlier last century and got Menander for it, with mixed results.

If we could drop something, and assuming we don't cheat by dropping Nonnus ;), I think Aristotle's Poetics would be a fine way to start. Also extremely ethical of our part.

For Latin it's more difficult. Off the top of my head I think I'd really like to have more of Cato the Elder besides On Agriculture, which doesn't quite make it to the top in spite of what the ancients tell about him. If not Cato, I'd probably second Scribo's Ovid's Medea, or more from Varro or Sallust's Histories.

I'd be prepared to drop handfuls of Livy if I could get any of the above. Also Caesar, with the added benefit of making scores of schoolboys grateful forever.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:30 am

Funny thing, my first thought was exactly the same as Scribo's: Panyassis.

(But Scribo, you are cheating... You were supposed to pick ONE! :) )

I would definitely have a third early epic, and from what little we have, Panyassis looks very nice. Probably a much better work in its own right than the lost epics of the Trojan cycle. The rest of the Trojan cycle, it seems to me, would teach us more about the Iliad and the Odyssey, but probably we wouldn't read them for their own sake. No, I want a nice, action-packed Heracles epic!

As to what I'd give in exchange... Well, take any Latin literature you like, Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, whatever, take it all if you like, and give me something nice in Greek in exchange!
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Qimmik » Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:27 pm

Paul, you're not allowed to exchange a Roman text for a Greek one: the rules are, Greek for Greek, Latin for Latin. Besides, have you read much Vergil? I would never voluntarily give up Vergil for anything--especially his Georgics.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby mwh » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:14 pm

Am I not to be rebuked for breaking the rules? But as I intimated, the rules are unfair.

Panyassis?! You guys are crazy.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:23 pm

Hey, this is not fair! Why must I follow the rules but Scribo doesn't need to!? :P

I have read Caesar (a little of it in the original), but never a word of Cicero. As for Veirgil, I have read a little over the first half of the Aeneid, and that was in translation. It was excruciatingly dull. Of course, I reckon that Vyrgil is probably utterly untranslatable and can't really be judged on the basis of a translation. I am, naturally, judging these authors merely on the basis of my prejudices... The thing is that I have, until now, been unable to motivate myself to learn Latin properly – I just don't see enough of a reward waiting for me. Probably, if I did know Latin, I would prove my prejudice wrong, but I'd have to learn Latin first for that!

So, I'm not allowed to give up Latin texts for Greek ones... It becomes more difficult then. I don't really have an opinion on Latin texts, so you can keep your Viergil. As for the Greek ones, I've never really read a Greek text I could give up just like that. There's nothing I've read that I think would deserved to go. I haven't read that much, of course. But if we have to start burning books, maybe some Euripides, like Scribo? Bacchae is nice, I wouldn't give up that. Perhaps I could give up Trojan Women for Panyassis? I didn't get the point of that play – and that's just the reason why people usually start throwing books into the fire!
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Qimmik » Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:16 am

"Hey, this is not fair! Why must I follow the rules but Scribo doesn't need to!"

The rules just changed. If you don't know Latin well enough to read Vergil in the original, you're not allowed to trade Latin for Greek, and if you don't know Greek well enough to read Pindar in the original, you're not allowed to trade Greek for Latin. Otherwise, it's ok to trade one for the other.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:18 am

Well, I must accept the rules. However, I'll note that the rules themselves are against the order of nature. Books are usually burnt out of ignorance, not the other way round. Purging books in full knowledge, what a fearful thought!

I thought about Apollonius Rhodius. He's not that different from Vergil, in some respects (recycling old epic material in a very literary style), and I enjoyed reading him in the original. But I see little point in reading him in translation. So that's it probably with Vergil too.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Scribo » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:33 pm

Ha my swagacious avatar means I can avoid (some of) the rules 8) . I jest.

I'm glad someone else went for Panyassis. There are some interesting answers here. Would the Sayricon make more sense if we had all of it? what we have is seemingly erratic in its narrative: our heroes are fleeing? what from? they've offended Priapus? they're fighting over a shirt? now they're in an orgy, now at dinner, now they argue over their sexslave/boytoy and now we're in a gallery with an overly loquacious poet. Oh, they're throwing rocks, out out...we're on a boat!...we're.... and so on. It's amazing but disconcerting. Is the fragmentary status of the text responsible? within the cena itself there are some random and abrupt moments as it stands so...

My favourite Petronian moment was when I realised that frater/fratellus could be used to mean like a sex partner and not just a biological brother. You can imagine my surprise when...well you know what happens. :lol:

I know far too little of Latin literature I feel. But then it's just so much more difficult than Greek.

I should say though that Virgil is worth the entrance price of Latin alone. I'm dull in that way: my friends who really get down and dirty with Latin all love Lucanus for his rhetorically charged Latin, Ovid seems to always get the popular vote (Certainly insanely influential) and so on but for me, it must be Virgil. Don't get me wrong, Latin has A LOT of gems (Ovid's Fasti, all of Juvenal, Persius etc) but there's something about the Aeneid.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Qimmik » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:43 pm

Vergil's poetry is inextricably bound up with the language in which he wrote. Reading Latin hexameter poetry, and especially Vergil, is a special skill that has to be learned--it's almost a different language than Latin prose. Assonance and sound patterns, the complex patterning of adjectives and nouns in the individual verse, the interplay of meter and word accent, and, in Vergil's case, the use of ordinary words in extraordinary--and unforgettable--ways are some of the things that make reading Vergil in Latin an unparalleled aesthetic experience.

Add to that his engagement with so much of Greek and Roman literature that preceded him--Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, Theocritus, Ennius, Lucretius--and his transmutation of their poetry into his own (what used to be called "imitation"; the current term is "intertextuality").

In the case of the Aeneid, he manages to encapsulate the whole of Roman history (as well as the Iliad and the Odyssey), culminating in Augustus. It's a testimony to his ability to embrace the whole of human experience that no one can agree whether the propagandistic teleology of the Aeneid is exclusively optimistic or more darkly colored.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Scribo » Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:02 pm

I think that's a fair reading, and one of the reasons why I re-read it now and then. Even as my ears become sharper and sharper to his language, I'm aware of how incapable I am of some of the allusions. It's funny in a way, my background is somewhat backwards cf to most students reading the Aeneid: I know my Greek backwards and forwards and my early republican fragments too, but I really struggle with catching allusions to Catullus and Lucretius.

My partner gave me a copy of Lucretius a while back, like 4 months or so, I've been able to get through it. I just can't get into it.

Your comment on immitation becoming intertextuality is interesting. As you might surmise, roughly, from my age I was kind of brought up on intertextuality as an undergraduate - it was all Fowler and Hinds - so I've never thought of it in those terms. I do, personally, like using immitatio/mimesis as we've inherited them from Aristotle and Dionysius though - I think it's a shame how little the latter is consulting when it comes to the Augustans. I mean the best work I've read on him was concerned with the second sophistic! (something by Whitmarsh...)

Which reminds me. Second sophistic, novels. Chuck them. Give me Berossos and Manetho in toto.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby MiguelM » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:11 pm

You're not a Longus man? I can understand Chaerephon and the like, but Daphnis & Chloe has for me the weird effect of being the clear before the cliché.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby mwh » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:04 am

I seem to remember taking Scribo to task before for his wholesale trashing of the novels, urging the merits of the delectable Longus and the incomparable Heliodorus.

I am still at a loss to comprehend how, with multitudes of goodies to choose from, we should have had not one but two votes for Panyassis. Sure it would good to have him, but he'd be way down my list of resurrection-worthy epicists. I'd much rather have 5th-4th-cent. epic experimenters—Antimachus' Thebaid or even epic-is-dead Choerilus. I'd trade Statius' Silvae (but certainly not his epics; if I have to trade a Latin epic it would unhesitatingly be Valerius Flaccus, than whom there is no duller poet). I'm glad to have support for Stesichorus (to whom I've devoted more hours of my life than I care to think), but how come Simonides is not at the top of everyone's list?

Agreed there's absolutely no point in reading either Apollonius of Rhodes or Virgil in translation—the former for the riffs on Homer, the latter, well, what Qimmik said.

A pub is really the only place to play this sort of game, with beer on tap.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Qimmik » Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:19 pm

We don't need any more long hexameter poems, in Greek or in Latin. In Latin we already have too many of these cacata charta.

Another archaic Greek poet we could use more of: Alcman. All we have are some infuriatingly tantalizing fragments, with a large chunk of just one poem preserved on papyrus.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby John W. » Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:36 pm

An excellent idea for a thread.

I'd like the missing end of Book VII of Diogenes Laertius (further Stoic biographies), plus a complete work by Democritus. In exchange I'd offer up the letters of St Paul.

Best wishes,

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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Scribo » Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:31 pm

Ha, MWH your speech was rousing. I picked up Chariton again. I got to book two before giving up. Sorry. I think in part I'm just reacting against the odd obsession these little penny dreadfulls enjoy in the modern academy.

Qimmik I must disagree, hexameter is amazing and the more early stuff the better. I voted Panyassis not just because I think it would be interesting to read but because I want more early epic samples in terms of language and narrative and he enjoyed a good reputation in the ancient world.

Actually, this is a problem: making choices based on a) personal taste b) academic purposes and c) curiosity. I voted Ovid's Medea earlier. It's immensely important, sure. But if we had it I'd never read it, I know that. I can just see its import. Meanwhile I'm forced to admit that if we widened this from texts into data more generally...well then I'd give someone else's right arm for the full machinery of Roman religion. All those books the pontifexes and flamenes consulted, the list of taboos and so on... Imagine having that! Instead of having to read Augustine's odd book, 4-7, searching for Varro like a moth lost in a bath without a ladder.

Ok, here's one: the book on Gynaecology. Domitianic period. Soranus?

P.S must disagree on the beer, constant exposure to awful Greek beer has left me with a pathological fear of hops: coffee better. Still, even across screens this is fun. If only to remind me of how much I've yet to read. I've never read Livy on Hannibal! I only know books of Polybius passing fair... that's just two languages! how am I meant to master Sanskrit literature too? when will I actually learn Russian? It's all like a glorious ocean.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby mwh » Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:46 pm

It’s true nobody cares for epic these days, except for the overworked but admittedly supreme Homer and Vergil. Rather a shame, I think.

Of the canonized nine lyric poets we have by my calculation around 3%, and it would be less still without Pindar’s epinicians. Simonides heads my wish list here (the Plataea elegy is intriguing, but it’s the threnoi I want—that lovely Danae fragment, and I too could quote Catullus), followed by Stesichorus, Alcman, Pindar’s dithyrambs, maybe Sappho—a very disparate bunch. Desire for Sappho is lessened by the new poem.

Plato wanted Democritus’ works bonfired; so maybe it's Plato that John should offer up? Without Paul’s letters the world might well be in a less dismal state, but too late now.

Which leads to another complaint about fairness. I don’t quite get the What would you give up in exchange? rule. Pretty well anything I’ve read, plus everything I haven’t (a longer list), I’d be prepared to give up for my desiderata.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby mwh » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:08 pm

Previous was posted before seeing Scribo’s latest.
To whom I say:
I didn’t say Chariton. He’s second-to-worst of them all. Don’t damn the entire genre on the strength of one poor example. I’m sure you’d love Lollianus.
Bravo on epic.
I didn’t say Greek beer. Coffee won't do, it has to be alcohol. My rule.

And now I really must get back to seeing if I can recover another letter or two from the Antimachus commentary fragment I should be working on.
Have fun,
Michael
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:48 pm

mwh wrote:I am still at a loss to comprehend how, with multitudes of goodies to choose from, we should have had not one but two votes for Panyassis.

For my part, it's simple: it was early epic, more specifically Homer, that got me into Greek in the first place. Since then, I have made excursions in other genres, but it's still my primary interest and the only genre I'm at all knowledgeable about. I don't deny that there must be a zillion other equally interesting from someone else's point of view – and let's not just talk about Greek and Latin. How about Maya and other pre-Columbian American literature, for a start? It just that early Greak epic just is my thing.

Qimmik wrote:We don't need any more long hexameter poems, in Greek or in Latin. In Latin we already have too many of these cacata charta.

I think when we talk about "hexameter", we should (crudely) distinguish between two totally different genres, "early epic" and "later epic". Although I'm skeptical of some of the more radical views of the "oralist" school in Homeric studies, I think the oral style that underlies the earlier Greek epics makes them totally, utterly different from the later hexameter poems as exemplified by Apollonios Rhodios and Virgil and those which might indeed be justly termed "cacata charta". Although both genres are in "hexameter", I think their similarities are very superficial. I think Panyassis belongs to the early sort and I don't think we have too many of those.

Scribo wrote:Ok, here's one: the book on Gynaecology. Domitianic period. Soranus?

I had no idea such a book existed before I bumped into it accidentally in the library a few months ago. I have only read a line here and there until now, but I found it really intriguing. I'm certainly going to have closer look one day, it looked very interesting from the point of view of ordinary family life and that sort of thing.

John W. wrote:In exchange I'd offer up the letters of St Paul.

That's the spirit!

I agree about beer. My complaint is that I like to eat peanuts when I drink beer and many pubs don't have them, or if they have, they are rancid...
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Scribo » Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Speaking of caca charta some clever idiot with a biro has written "Annals of Volusius, please take one:" near the toilet roll holder in the Sackler library, Oxford. Men's room obviously, I'm told the lady's is marginally cleaner.

MWH: Ok, alcohol, you're a true classicist in that regard I say. Wait Lollianus? why doesn't that name ring a bell? what did he write? It just sounds like one of the many people getting executed left and right throughout the high/later Roman Empire to me. Anyway I should say in fairness I've read more than one novel, perhaps my prejudice is in part fostered by the secondary literature. It happens! Earlier I was like "sod the second bloody sophistic" and was then reminded that Aelius Aristides and Pausanias very much belong to this era and style. So, ok, give me a recommendation and I'll follow it. Right now I'm going to go re-read Simonides I guess. I love, love, love, the lyric remnants but I've nothing sensible to say about them.

As for Simonides Danai, sure...but only if its done metrically. I'd like to see how close the current metrical reconstructions are.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby mwh » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:17 pm

Type or mistype lollianus phoeniki into google search and you get ONE result. I get kudos for that, don't I?
Bye for now.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby daivid » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:33 pm

If we are allowed only one Greek text then it would have to be a historian. The venom that Polybius throws at Timaeus always has the reverse effect of making me feel that it must have been a masterpiece - why elses would Polybius devote such effort in degenerating it. Besides the very sparse account that we find in on Sicilian history which is normally taken to be based on Timeaus is just so tantalizing.

However, as an eyewitness of the times about which he wrote it would have to be Hieronymus of Cardia.

As to Latin authors there isn't one that I dream about reviving but I gladly junk Vergil for a lost Carthaginian historian all of which are doubly lost in that we don't even know their names.

What to drop?
Having being taken in by talk that Lucian's "True History" was easy and then being utterly defeated by the fist two sentences - absurdly long and complicated - that's my current candidate for the flames.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Markos » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:38 pm

Qimmik wrote:If you could exhume one Greek and/or one Latin text in good shape, what would you choose?

Any New Testament Greek autograph. Any New Testament Greek older than the oldest manuscripts that we now have. IF there were any prehistoric New Testament Greek texts, ("Q," "Ur-Markus," a lost Pauline letter embedded in 2 Corinthians, a Greek text used as a source for Acts) any of these texts.
What would you give up, if you had to, to obtain these works?

To get any of these, I would give up any Greek texts except for Homer.
daivid wrote:What to drop?
Having being taken in by talk that Lucian's "True History" was easy and then being utterly defeated by the fist two sentences - absurdly long and complicated - that's my current candidate for the flames.

Just FYI, Daivid, the True History does get much easier after the first few sentences.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby John W. » Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:42 am

I've been thinking of a few more items. I'd like to have:

(i) the start of Aeschylus' Libation Bearers;

(ii) the end of Euripides' Bacchae;

(iii) more of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 3894 (included in Volume LVII of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, as one of our colleagues certainly knows!), which gives most of Thucydides 3.83. Unfortunately it ends just before the start of 3.84, which many editors have regarded as spurious, and it would be fascinating to see the papyrus' evidence (or lack of it) for that chapter.

In exchange for this batch I'd offer up the non-Pauline NT letters and/or the Platonic spuria.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Markos » Sat Aug 30, 2014 1:18 pm

John W. wrote:In exchange for this batch I'd offer up the non-Pauline NT letters...

But if you did this, John, I would have to get them back, and I would then be forced to offer up the Catalogue of Ships. :D

Just for fun... :lol:
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby John W. » Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:06 pm

Markos wrote:But if you did this, John, I would have to get them back, and I would then be forced to offer up the Catalogue of Ships. :D

Just for fun... :lol:


This is starting to sound like a cross between a zero-sum game and the story of Tarquin and the Sybilline Books! OK, Markos, I agree - provided you exempt Thucydides (as well as Homer) from your own 'recycling' list. After all, I'm still revising my translation of him, and I really don't want to see the Greek text evaporate in front of me before I've finished! :D

Best,

John
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby daivid » Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:04 pm

John W. wrote:I've been thinking of a few more items. I'd like to have:

(i) the start of Aeschylus' Libation Bearers;

(ii) the end of Euripides' Bacchae;

(iii) more of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 3894 (included in Volume LVII of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, as one of our colleagues certainly knows!), which gives most of Thucydides 3.83. Unfortunately it ends just before the start of 3.84, which many editors have regarded as spurious, and it would be fascinating to see the papyrus' evidence (or lack of it) for that chapter.


I first thought you meant the complete Hellenica Oxyrhynchia but all you want to check whether one small section of stuff we do have is fake. Shame on you! :o This is like the peasant who used his first of three wishes on a good meal. :roll: I hope it isn't you who gets to go thru the tear in the space time continum! :wink:

But while on the subject of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia I would swap that for Herodotus. I know they are fun stories but that's what they are. You can't trust any of what he writes as history and as stories they aren't that good.
The Hellenica Oxyrhynchia does cover the same ground as Xenophon. Indeed Xenophon does a pretty good job but Xenophon does write with a specific agenda - it would be good to have someone, of the quality of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia historian, writing from a different angle as a corrective.
Last edited by daivid on Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby John W. » Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:15 am

Actually, Daivid, I very nearly did include the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia in my list - I just didn't want to seem greedy! But I agree with you that it would it great to have it. And if I am going to be ambitious, I might as well request the complete papyrus copy of Thucydides from which OP 3894 derives.

As for going through the tear in the space-time continuum, I think I'd better leave that to the Doctor!

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby Qimmik » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:40 pm

I wouldn't swap Herodotus for a papyrus copy of a text we already have in reasonably good shape. Herodotus may be unreliable in the earlier books, but we would know very little of archaic Greece (including Asia Minor) and the Persian War era without him, even if correctives are sometimes necessary. Also, many of the "stories" crop up in later Greek and Roman literature, and our understanding of later authors would be impoverished without Herodotus. Even if the "stories" are questionable, Herodotus is key to understanding Greek thinking throughout antiquity but especially in the 5th-4th centuries. And most of the lost historians probably have even less credibility.

Anyone who would swap Vergil for anything else--especially minor historical works that are probably no better and likely worse than Herodotus for accuracy--hasn't really engaged with Vergil.
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Re: Just for fun, which texts would you choose?

Postby daivid » Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:57 am

Qimmik wrote:I wouldn't swap Herodotus for a papyrus copy of a text we already have in reasonably good shape. Herodotus may be unreliable in the earlier books, but we would know very little of archaic Greece (including Asia Minor) and the Persian War era without him, even if correctives are sometimes necessary. Also, many of the "stories" crop up in later Greek and Roman literature, and our understanding of later authors would be impoverished without Herodotus. Even if the "stories" are questionable, Herodotus is key to understanding Greek thinking throughout antiquity but especially in the 5th-4th centuries. And most of the lost historians probably have even less credibility.

It would be a wrench for me.

But the trouble with Herodotus is that for any story it may there because:
1) It actually happened
2) Someone told Herodotus that it happened in which which case we learn about the tellers.
3) Herodotos made it up to please himself in which case we learn about Herodotus.
4) Herodotus make it up to please his listeners in which case we learn about Athens.

and even when he tells us we don't really know which.

Many of the lost historians may well have less credibility but would you really claim that of Hieronymus of Cardia?

Qimmik wrote:Anyone who would swap Vergil for anything else--especially minor historical works that are probably no better and likely worse than Herodotus for accuracy--hasn't really engaged with Vergil.

Guilty as charged. But I was asking for a Punic historian and surely such a find given the total lack of Punic texts we have now could not be described as minor.

However, lest you blame me for Vergil disapearing in a puff of smoke and as a result stop helping me with my Greek and because Punic texts aren't really according to the rules I shall change my choice. :)
I will sacrifice Cornelius Nepos for a similar length from Gaius Asinius Pollio's history.
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