Scholia Reviews ns 9 (2000) 26.

Bernhard Kytzler (ed.), Eduard Norden: Die römische Literatur. Mit Anhang: Die lateinische Literatur im Übergang vom Altertum zum Mittelalter. 7th edition (complete reprint of the third edition, 1927). Stuttgart and Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1998. Pp. xvi + 212. ISBN 3-519-07249-1. DM49.00.

Jörg Rüpke
Classics Seminar, University of Erfurt

It is not the task of a review of a seventh edition to give a summary of this book and to critize the decisions, inconsistencies, or any factual errors of the author fifty-eight years after his death. Norden's history of Roman literature was originally part of Alfred Gercke's and Eduard Norden's Einleitung in die Altertumswissenschaft. Since then it has remained in use as a textbook of Classical Philology for German students. It is an introductory text of hardly more than one hundred pages, though it has gradually been replaced by larger, less critical accounts. Its most serious flaw is the very cursory treatment given to the literature of the empire (just twenty pages for the time from Tiberius onwards). That is due to Norden's very Greek view of the history of Roman literature -- that it is the history of the productive (though usually inferior) reception of Greek genres. Once the wide variety of Greek literature is exhausted, that is, in Augustan times, the decline starts (p. 67).

Why, then, a new edition at the turn of the century? The availability of such an important monograph is a good reason for a reprint and we should be thankful to Kytzler for his work on it. Kytzler offers the text of the third 1927 edition, Norden's last revised version. He adds important passages from earlier editions: prefaces, 'Gesichtspunkte und Probleme', a chapter on current problems, and an indication of possible areas of future research not reprinted in the third edition. He has also produced a full index of all these different sections of the book. Kytzler follows established editorial practice in adding an originally independent chapter on Latin literature in its transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

Yet fifty-eight years after the death of the author the earlier practices of reprinting the text and revising the bibliography cannot be reproduced without further justification. Why, then, the new edition? Reading the book, the answer is not conclusive. Kytzler updates the bibliography again, as if continuing the textbook tradition. Yet the supplement is confined to recent editions and 'Forschungsberichte' (replaced for many medieval authors by the unsatisfactory references to the articles of the Lexikon des Mittelalters), otherwise Norden's bibliography of 1927 is reproduced. I find this a convincing decision. It points to a more consciously Wissenschaftsgeschichte approach to Norden's book, thus complementing Kytzler's edition of Norden's Kleine Schriften.[[1]]

The addition of the 1910-1912 epilogue (not reprinted since) points in the same direction. To a greater extent than his account of research already completed, it is Norden's formulation of research still to be undertaken that illustrates his interests and perspectives. Norden starts from a firm call for the integration of political (and cultural) history into philology, thus demonstrating his adherence to the idea of Altertumswissenschaft (p. 119). But all his concrete proposals refer to differentiated concepts of form (Formgeschichte) and style that imply that literature exists in isolation and that rhetorical norms are pervasive.

I would have appreciated a larger historical introduction to this text and its author that could serve the interests of Wissenschaftsgeschichte. This in fact might be useful for any textbook. But on the whole the introduction is well done and nobody could have done it better than Kytzler.


[[1]] B. Kytzler (ed.), E. Norden: Kleine Schriften (Berlin 1966).