Scholia Reviews ns 10 (2001) 21.
Francisco Rodrķguez Adrados (tr. Leslie A. Ray), History of the Graeco-Roman Fable. Volume Two: The Fable during the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages (revised and updated by the author and Gert-Jan van Dijk). Mnemosyne Supplement 207. Leiden, Boston, and Ko:ln: E. J. Brill, 2000. Pp. xviii + 756. ISBN 90-04-11583-8. Gld.451.76, US$238.00.
Classics, University of Natal, Durban
This volume is a translation of the second of Rodrķguez Adrados' three tomes on the Graeco-Roman fable, originally published in Spanish between 1979 and 1987.[] When completed this series together with other recent publications on the Greek and Latin fable will make a significant contribution to the study of this genre in the English-speaking world, where Perry's collection of texts has enjoyed pre-eminence since 1952.[] This spate of activity is doubly welcome in view of the fact that Perry's book is the only part of a incomplete quartet to have been published (the project was originally intended to cover the texts, an appendix on the fable tradition in the near East, a commentary on the texts, and a literary history of the fable).[]
The title page describes the book as a revised and updated version of the Spanish edition. What this means in fact is that bibliographical supplements have been added to some chapters; the text itself is a direct rendering of the original. The reason given is that the author's 'fundamental conclusions remain intact' (Vol. I, p. xvii) but Adrados here ignores important problems concerning the fable tradition and does not discuss questions that were raised in response to the publication of his earlier work. For example, NŲjgaard in his extensive review of the second volume of the Spanish edition,[] pointed out that a number of Adrados' views are open to question: the view that on the whole all of the Aesopic fables can be traced back to a single source rather than a number of sources;[] that fables written in verse preceded later 'semiprosifications'; that the Aesopic fable was a Greek rather than an oriental genre; that the epimythia were added to the fables later on in the tradition under the influence of Cynic philosophy; and that the collections of Romulus and Avianus depend on other lost collections. These criticisms deserved some consideration in the English edition but none has been given. A further point could be added to NŲjgaard's list: Adrados concentrates almost exclusively on the literary tradition of the fable and reference to orality are rare in his text (a few are to be found in Vol. II, pp. 76f., 91). In view of the importance of the oral tradition for the transmission of fables this seems short- sighted.[]
On the technical level, the decision to provide bibliographical updates appended to many chapters is strange in light of the fact that there is no systematic bibliography either in the Spanish edition (a deficiency pointed out in earlier reviews[]) or in the two English volumes that have appeared to date. The absence of an index (also noted by previous critics[]) has been remedied to some extent by an index locorum by Gert-Jan van Dijk in each volume (Vol. I, pp. 715-39; Vol. II, pp. 727-56) - a laborious task for which readers will undoubtedly be extremely grateful. Hopes that the third volume of the Spanish edition might serve to bring together the vast mass of material discussed by the author were not fully realised and this will probably be the case for the English version too.[] In view of the complexity of Adrados' treatment of the material, a full summative bibliography and detailed indices of names and topics discussed in each volume would undoubtedly have helped guide the reader through the maze of detail provided in these books, and would have added considerably their value as works of reference.
In these two volumes Adrados has produced a vast and rambling edifice - the scholarly equivalent of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia perhaps. A further analogy has already presented itself. The author compares his work to the labyrinth of Minos; for him the metrical remnants of earlier verses provide an 'Ariadne's thread' for the scholar to follow the route taken by fables through the various collections (Vol. II, p. 713). His approach to the history of the genre is uncompromisingly traditional and meticulously detailed. He describes himself as 'an expert on the stemmata of the fables' (Vol. II, p. 245) and he follows a stemmatic method that is 'partly textual and partly literary' (p. 429) to discover the relationships between the numerous collections from antiquity to the Middle Ages. The results are sketched in two synopses at the end of the second volume (pp. 725f.). These, in addition to the conclusions to many of the chapters (and especially the final conclusion, Vol. II, pp. 711- 23) will no doubt prove invaluable to non- specialists who wish to become familiar with Adrados' approach without having to go through the extremely thorough and extensive discussion that precedes. Readers who are looking for a more theoretical and literary account of the fables of Phaedrus and Babrius should look to the work of NŲjgaard rather than Adrados.[]
In Adrados' account, the Greek exemplum-fable broke off from its origins in myth and underwent philosophical and literary development within Greece while absorbing themes and 'compositional structures' (Vol. II, p. 711) from the Oriental tradition (especially in Egypt and Mesopotamia, though the contribution of Indian fable is given lengthy consideration too). The two lines merged in the legend of Aesop before undergoing 'decisive' (p. 712) growth in the Hellenistic Age that culminated in lost collections such as that of Demetrius of Phaleron. This is essentially the ground covered in the first volume.[] The second volume traces the 'synopses of relations between the versions of a fable that are most frequent and characteristic' (p. 713) from the Hellenistic collections to those of Rome, Byzantium, and Medieval Europe. Adrados concludes that the majority of fables have a single primary metrical model, others possess two, while a few have three or more. Further examples depend on secondary metrical models or 'semiprosifications'. From this investigation, Adrados argues, it can be shown that collections of fables that survived from the Hellenistic period to that of Rome (including Phaedrus, Babrius, the Augustana, pseudo-Dositheus, Aphthonius and other rhetoricians, Avianus, and the Codex Brancaccianus) were preserved in Byzantium (in the Vindobonensis and Accursiana anthologies, the Paraphrases and Dodecasyllables, and the collection of Ignatius the Deacon) from where they crossed into Europe to stimulate further development of the genre.[]
Adrados' work reflects the complexity of the fable tradition, a complexity not made easier to follow by the author's recursive way of dealing with the material. The two volumes are intertwined by extensive cross-referencing and for this reason must be read together. For example, Volume Two (pp. 121- 74 at p. 121) refers to the earlier discussion of Phaedrus in Volume One (pp. 120-28). The Augustana, Babrius, the Vindobonensis and Accursiana collections among others are also discussed in both volumes. Perhaps as a result of its interwoven texture, critical responses to the Spanish edition have occasionally diverged widely. For example, NŲjgaard suggested that non-specialists should begin with the second volume, since many of Adrados' views had changed from the first.[] On the other hand, Henderson compared the publication of the work to the birth of Athene emerging 'virtually unmarked by the process of its development'.[] The retakes and restatements of his position by the author, taken together with his practice of summarising his conclusions in the interests of clarity, inevitably leads to a high degree of repetition which could have been avoided.
The appearance of this translation of Adrados' work will surely stimulate teaching and research on the Aesopic fables by English-speaking scholars. It is certainly not a text to put before undergraduates, but it covers an enormous range with considerable enthusiasm and erudition. The author's learning and sheer tenacity in gathering together material on obscure collections from India, Egypt and Mesopotamia as well as from Greece and Rome, and in tracing their development over almost two millennia, compel widespread admiration. In an area of Classical studies in which library resources are often meagre and scattered, these volumes will make available to postgraduate students and scholars a vast store of rare and otherwise inaccessible information. It will also provide a wealth of valuable material for the increasing numbers of those engaged in interdisciplinary and comparative studies of this fundamental and ubiquitous narrative genre.[]
[] Francisco Rodrķguez Adrados, Historia de la fabula greco-latina. Tomo 1.1-2: Indroduccion y de los orignes a la edad helenistica (Madrid 1979); Tomo II: La Fabula en Epoca Imperial Romana y Medieval (Madrid 1985); Tomo III: Inventario y documentacion de la fabula greco- latina (Madrid 1987). The English translation of the first volume appeared in 1999: Francisco Rodrķguez Adrados (tr. Leslie A. Ray), History of the Graeco-Roman Fable. Volume One: Introduction and from the Origins to the Hellenistic Age (revised and updated by the author and Gert-Jan van Dijk) (Leiden 2000). The third volume is expected soon.
[] Recent major publications on the fable in English include: Christos A. Zafiropoulos, Ethics in Aesop's Fables: The Augustana Collection (Leiden 2001) and Gert-Jan van Dijk, AINOI, LOGOI, MYTHOI: Fables in Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Greek Literature, with a Study of the Theory and Terminology of the Genre (Leiden 1997).
[] Ben E. Perry, Aesopica I (Urbana 1952). Perry outlined his plans for the series on p. vii.
[] Morten NŲjgaard, Gnomon 58 (1986) 193- 98.
[] On this matter, see now Elisabetta Matelli, 'Gli Aesopica di Demetrio Falereo' in William W. Fortenbaugh and Eckart Schu:trumpff (edd.), Demetrius of Phalerum: Text, Translation and Discussion (New Brunswick 2000) 413-47. Matelli thinks that the plural sunagwgai/ in Diogenes Laertius' reference to the works of Demetrius of Phalerum need not imply more than one collection of fables.
[] See the interesting exchange of views on a fable by Phaedrus: John Henderson, 'The Homing Instinct: A Folklore Theme in Phaedrus App. Perott. 16 Perry / 14 Postgate', PCPhS ns 23 (1977) 17-31; T. C. W. Stinton, 'Phaedrus and Folklore: An Old Problem Restated', CQ ns 29 (1979) 432- 35.
[] L. Deschamps, REA 92 (1990) 321; S. Byl, AC (1987) 358.
[] See, for example, John Henderson, JHS 110 (1990) 246; S. Byl, AC (1987) 358; D. Donnet, LEC 54 (1986) 201.
[] A point made by D. Donnet, LEC 56 (1988) 115, but see contra Henderson .
[] M. NŲjgaard, La fable antique. Vol. I-II. Vol. I: La fable grecque avant Phe/dre; Vol. II: Les grands fabulists (Copenhagen 1964-1967). The four volumes of L. Hervieux, Les fabulistes latines depuis le sičcle d'Auguste justqu' ą la fine du Moyen Āge (Paris 1893-1896) are no longer readily obtainable.
[] An abbreviated table of contents of Volume I follows. Part I: 'Overview of the Graeco-Latin Fable' includes a chapter on the terms used to refer to fables in antiquity (pp. 3-17) and on ancient and modern definitions of the genre (pp. 17-47); the second chapter gives a general inventory of the Graeco-Latin fable, including the Rylands Papyrus 493, the Augustana, Vindobonensis and Accursiana collections, Phaedrus, Babrius, and Syntipas (pp. 48-138). Part II: 'The Greek Fable until Demetrius Phalereus' covers 'The Animal and Vegetable Fable in the Classical Age' (Chapter One, pp. 141-88), 'The Animal and Vegetable Fable in its Original Context (Chapter Two, pp. 189-239), 'Fable and Iambic Genres' (Chapter Three, pp. 240-86); 'Oriental Elements in the Greek Fable' (Chapter Four, pp. 287- 366); 'Panorama of the Fable in the Archaic and Classical Ages' (Chapter Five, pp. 367-409); 'The Fable in the Collection of Demetrius' (Chapter Six, pp. 410-97). Part III: 'The Fable in the Hellenistic Age' concludes with 'The New Panorama of the Fable' (Chapter One, pp. 501-537), 'The Hellenistic Fables in Verse and their Prosifications' (Chapter Two, pp. 538-603), 'Content and Intention of the Hellenistic Collections' (Chapter Three, pp. 604-46), 'The "Life of Aesop"', pp. 647-85), and 'The Irradiation of the Hellenistic Fable' (Chapter Five, pp. 686-714).
[] Volume II contains the following. Part I: 'The Hellenistic Collections as the Basis for Subsequent Ones: Relationships between These' covers 'The Hellenistic Fables with a Single Primary Metrical Version' (Chapter One, pp. 3-74), and 'The Hellenistic Fables with More than One Primary Metrical Version: Special Cases' (Chapter Two, pp. 75-117). Part II: 'The Fable in the Roman Empire' includes a discussion of Phaedrus (Chapter One, pp. 121-74), Babrius (Chapter Two, pp. 175-220), Pseudo- Dositheus (Chapter Three, pp. 221-35), Aphthonius (Chapter Four, pp. 236-53), Avianus (Chapter Five, pp. 254-74), the Augustana Collection (Chapter Six, pp. 275-356), and the minor collections and exemplum-fables (Chapter Seven, pp. 357-91). Finally Part III deals with the fables of the Codex Brancaccianus (Chapter One, pp. 395-402), the Syriac fables (Chapter Two, pp. 403-28), the Vindobonensis and Accursiana collections (Chapter Three, pp. 429- 62), the Bodleian Paraphrase and the 'Politici' Dodecasyllables (Chapter Four, pp. 463-92), the tetrastichs of Ignatius the Deacon and his imitators (Chapter Five, pp. 493-515), the fables of Ademari and Wissenburgensis codices and those of the so- called Romulus (Chapter Six, pp. 516-58), the medieval Greek and Latin fable of the oriental tradition and the influence of the Greek fable on the Orient (Chapter Seven, pp. 559-629), and the remaining medieval Greek and Latin tradition (Chapter Eight, pp. 630-710). The conclusion to the first two volumes is to be found at pp. 711-23.
[] Above  193.
[] Above .
[] I noticed the following typographical errors - by no means a large number for such an extensive book (though doubtless others remain): '#' for 'ff.' (p. 75); 'metre. conversions' for 'metrical conversions' (running header for Part One, Chapter Two (pp. 75-117); 'orals' for 'oral' (p. 91); 'is stems' for 'it stems' (p. 106); 'at this points' for 'at this point' (p. 300); 'trimetres' for 'trimeters' (p. 491 and passim). In addition, the punctuation is at times unhelpful (cf., e.g., the comma and full-stop combination at p. 701) and the translation awkward to read (for example, 'reductions that we can only save' for 'losses that we can only recover', p. 168).