Review of West's Odyssey
Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:07 pm
Review by Barbara Graziosi and Johannes Haubold at BMCR:
A Classical Language Learning Forum
I'm not a scholar and a great deal here is beyond my competence. In the end, it comes to whom we consider the best judge of Homeric usage - West, Aristophanes, and Aristarchus, or Graziosi, Haubold, and Didymus (for the apparatus here has "μὲν Arph Ar: γὰρ (nov. Did) 261 tt Ω", which, as far as I understand, means that Didymus rejects Aristarchus' reading. But what does Aristophanes'/Aristarchus' reading exactly mean - a reading that stood in their reading text, or a reading they considered correct?). However, the final note is not really to the point, I think - "hexameter versification builds up by forward momentum, rather than backtracking rearrangement". Really, "backtracking rearrangement"? To me, it's just μέν - δέ as usual. Whether the reading should be αἰνῶς μέν or αἰνῶς γάρ is beyond me, but this line of argument doesn't seem very astute to me either. Better grounds for retaining γάρ are given in a footnote: "[...] neither αἰνῶς μέν nor αἰνῶς μήν can be paralleled in early Greek epic, whereas αἰνῶς γάρ is formulaic both in this position and elsewhere in the hexameter line: Il. 10.93, 24.198, Od. 4.597, 17.24 (αἰνῶς γάρ in verse-initial position); cf. HAp. 64 (‒ᴗᴗ αἰνῶς γάρ …), Od. 1.264, 4.441, 22.136, Hes. fr. 29.6 M-W (γὰρ αἰνῶς at line-end)".For example, at Od. 1.208 the manuscripts and one papyrus transmit γάρ, whereas Aristophanes and Aristarchus recommend μέν. West, following Bekker, Ludwich, Ameis-Hentze and others, adopts the latter reading, but this is almost certainly wrong – and it is instructive to see why. It is standard in Homer to cap a request for information or action (ἀλλ’ ἄγε + imperative or hortative) with a reason for making it: ‘So come now … (I ask this) because, γάρ …’. In this case: ‘So, tell me: are you the son of Odysseus, so grown up as you are? For you look strikingly like him…’ The alternative, a μέν-clause after ἀλλ’ ἄγε … is unidiomatic in early Greek epic, and may even sound rude, since the request is not followed by an explanation, as is usual in such instances. Now Athena, especially in the guise of Mentes, is a paragon of good manners, so the question then becomes why Aristophanes and Aristarchus preferred μέν to γάρ in this passage. At a general level, Hellenistic scholars took an interest in Homeric particles and often championed alternatives to the received text. In this particular case, μέν, rather than transmitted γάρ, may have appealed to them because it creates a pleasing correspondence with δέ in line 212: ‘You look much like Odysseus when I still saw him regularly (μέν) – but (δέ) since the war I have not seen him’. The fact that the scholia describe μέν as having ‘a certain appeal’ (ἔχει τι εἶδος ἡ γραφὴ αὕτη) suggests that Aristophanes and Aristarchus argued along these lines. Replacing γάρ with μέν (even if, with modern scholars, we take μέν for μήν) involves reading the passage backwards, starting at the end, and articulating it as a prose-like complex period. This is not, on the whole, how Homeric epic worked: Egbert Bakker and others have shown how hexameter versification builds up by forward momentum, rather than backtracking rearrangement.
I think the reviewers' criticism was motivated by the fact that this controversial claim has become so influential that it needed to be addressed by West in this edition. So the fact that West has given his reasons for rejecting it elsewhere is besides the point.Paul Derouda wrote: ↑Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:11 pmAs far as the second ground is concerned, the reviewers think that West should have been more alert to current controversies - meaning especially the so-called "Homeric multitext". But I think West has rejected it firmly enough elsewhere. This has be discussed ad infinitum here, so I'll leave it to this.
I think what West's citation of Aristophanes (of Byzantium) and Aristarchus means is that the A scholia mention that the variant μὲν was preferred by Aristophanes and Aristarchus, though for what reason isn't known, beyond the suggestion by Graziosi and Haubold that those scholars liked to tinker with Homeric participles,In the end, it comes to whom we consider the best judge of Homeric usage - West, Aristophanes, and Aristarchus, or Graziosi, Haubold, and Didymus (for the apparatus here has "μὲν Arph Ar: γὰρ (nov. Did) 261 tt Ω", which, as far as I understand, means that Didymus rejects Aristarchus' reading. But what does Aristophanes'/Aristarchus' reading exactly mean - a reading that stood in their reading text, or a reading they considered correct?).
West also includes in his edition an enormous apparatus of testimonia, which contribute little to the constitution of the text, as he himself points out: p. IX. The stated reason for including them is to give a clearer view of the tradition, but this seems problematic, for two reasons. If by ‘tradition’ we mean the diffusion of the Odyssey in antiquity, then the modern reader would be better served by a discussion that did not draw an artificial line between testimonia and other forms of paraphrase and allusion. If, on the other hand, the aim is to assess the relative weight of individual readings, it would be important to be selective: most of the testimonia originate in ancient scholarship and, as van Thiel points out, ‘ancient scholars display a strong tendency to depend upon one another’.7 West claims that his testimonia, as well as giving a general impression of the tradition, are useful for confirming medieval variants as old, and for illustrating levels of interpolation in antiquity. These aims, however, do not seem to us to require an apparatus of such length (and cost). More worryingly, the reader can easily be impressed by a long string of mutually dependent testimonia and grant them greater authority than they possess. West himself encourages this by using testimonia to boost minority readings. He also introduces otherwise unattested variants into his apparatus criticus on the basis of his collection of testimonia. His use of the Homeric Centos seems particularly problematic in this regard: there is no reason to assume that a line in Eudocia has to match the text of Homer in every last detail.8
What is "obvious" for West isn't obvious for me, so I'm still a bit confused as to what "nov. Did" means in the passage under discussion.Even without these fuller explanations, however, my two critics might have taken my point (to which they give short shrift) that when Didymus reports the reading of Aristarchus, he does so because the reading is somehow at issue; in other words, he must be aware of a different one, with which Aristarchus' is tacitly contrasted. We can usually identify this different reading, and then it is appropriate to say of it "novit Didymus". This should be obvious, and it is not dependent (as my critics seem to suppose) on my view of Aristarchus' use of manuscripts.
The deployment of "novit Didymus" does not throw up new variants, because we have to know the reading from somewhere else before we can label it in this way. But it does provide a guarantee of antiquity that may not otherwise be available. This is also the principal value of the ancient quotations that I have collected in such numbers. I am sorry that Nagy and Nardelli are not more appreciative of their utility. To the latter I am grateful for a few addenda, though three of the items he claims I have overlooked are actually there in my apparatus, and it is not true that "the references for quotations collected by La Roche and Ludwich were not updated".
My point is that the edition is really rather compact. The introduction is short and to the point; if West had had time to write a "Text and transmission of the Odyssey", I'm sure he would have addressed the question there. And if he didn't think the "Homeric multitext" to be relevant to the transmission of the Odyssey, there's no reason for him to address it in the apparatus either.Ahab wrote: ↑Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:32 amI think the reviewers' criticism was motivated by the fact that this controversial claim has become so influential that it needed to be addressed by West in this edition. So the fact that West has given his reasons for rejecting it elsewhere is besides the point.Paul Derouda wrote: ↑Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:11 pmAs far as the second ground is concerned, the reviewers think that West should have been more alert to current controversies - meaning especially the so-called "Homeric multitext". But I think West has rejected it firmly enough elsewhere. This has be discussed ad infinitum here, so I'll leave it to this.
Yes. Now I've corrected that.
Yes, but I was (somewhat jocularly) just appealing to authorities. An anonymous medieval manuscript is not an authority you can name. The testimonia are apparently Porphyrius and Nicanor, but without looking them up, I can't tell if they have an opinion on the subject, so I couldn't appeal to them either. What Didymus' opinion was and whether he had one is another question, of course.
"If Didymus commends any reading of Didymus, he commends it in such a way as to contrast it with some other one: which one is often not reported in the scholia, but it's rarely in question which one it was. To that reading I mark 'nov. Didymus' in the apparatus so that the fact that it's also an ancient reading won't escape you."Si quam Aristarchi lectionem laudat Didymus, ideo laudat ut eam alteri cuidam contraponat: cuinam, saepe non dicitur in scholiis, sed raro in dubio est, quae fuerit. Huic in apparatu 'nov. Did' appono, ne te lateat, eam quoque antiquam fuisse.