Scholia Reviews ns 14 (2005) 46.
Maaike Zimmerman and Rudi Van Der Paardt (edd.), Metamorphic Reflections: Essays presented to Ben Hijmans at his 75th birthday. Leuven: Peeters, 2004. Pp. x + 345. ISBN 90-429-1504-8. EURO70.00.
Classics, University of Glasgow
This is a beautifully printed and elegantly illustrated collection of twenty two essays (two written in Dutch, two in French, the remainder in English), which deal with a wide range of topics from Plato, Ovid, Seneca, Apuleius, and Cavafy to issues of religion, reception, manuscript transmission, and translation of texts, and form a well-deserved token of gratitude to Ben Hijmans, whose multifaceted scholarly work and obliging generosity have helped and inspired generations of researchers within and without The Netherlands (see the long tabula gratulatoria at the end of the volume).
The essays,[] authored mainly by former colleagues and students of Hijmans (but there are also two essays from his wife and his son), are meant to reflect the breadth of the dedicatee's teaching and research interests, and most of them may be seen to treat the theme of metamorphosis interpreted both literally (the transformation, in the context of literature or material culture, of a human being, animal or inanimate object into something different than it originally was) and figuratively (the translation of an ancient text into a modern language; Hijmans himself 'transformed' Ovid's aetiological poem by rendering it into Dutch last year). It is intriguing to see the ways in which different Latin authors (for instance, Ovid, Seneca, and Apuleius) play with this theme of transformation in literature, but it is even more fascinating to explore how episodes of Roman literature (Vergil's story of Laocoön, Petronius' tale of the vulgar millionaire Trimalchio, Apuleius' inserted story of Psyche and her mysterious husband), historical figures (Caesar, Pompey, Mark Antony, and Nero), and art-objects (image worship, engraved gems) have been incorporated into the culture of subsequent eras and have been re-fashioned by them (for example, Cavafy's 'Roman' poems, Lytton's The Last Days of Pompeii, Pater's Marius The Epicurean, Zadkine's sculptures and Picasso's Guernica). The contributions to this volume which deal with the justly growing scholarly attention to issues of 'reception' are, therefore, especially welcome.
Regrettably, no attempt has been made by the editors to classify these essays into thematic sections, such as 'Latin literature' (contributions by James, van der Paardt, O'Brien, Hunink, van Mal-Maeder, Hijmans, Dowden, and Finkelpearl), 'Greek literature' (Mason), 'Religion' (Guépin and van Os), 'Reception' (Gahan, Hokwerda, D'Hane, and Harrison), 'History of Scholarship' (Hermans), 'Philosophy' (Akkerman and Egan), 'Material Culture' (Kleibrink and Williams), 'Archaeology' (Wortley), and 'Astronomy' (Beck). There is not even an index of names or of passages cited or discussed, so readers of this volume who are interested, say, in Ovid and Apuleius (both of whom are frequently discussed in this book) are not able to see easily whether a passage has been analysed by more than one contributor. But the position of James' stimulating contribution on Ovid at the beginning of the book and of Finkelpearl's persuasive essay on Apuleius at its end cannot have been accidental, for it functions as a signpost indicating clearly the ancient authors with whom Hijmans' name has been mainly associated within the scholarly community.
Not all of the above-named pieces are equally effective in their argumentation and, indeed, some are far less ambitious in their intention to contribute to original research than others. But all the essays seem to have arisen from each author's genuine affection for Hijmans, whose career is beautifully outlined by Maaike Zimmerman in her preface (it is regrettable that there is no list of the honorand's publications in this volume). Congratulations to Maaike, Kees, and Rudi for producing such a volume. To me it testifies, above all, to the respect Hijmans enjoys as a colleague, friend, supervisor, and paterfamilias.
[] It is not within the scope of this review to discuss the essays contained in the volume, especially since they are thematically very diverse and only loosely connected with each other. The contributors and the titles of their essays are as follows: P. James, 'What lies beneath: Fluid Subjects in Ovid's Metamorphoses' (pp. 1-20); R. van der Paardt, 'Four Portraits of Actaeon' (pp. 21-40); J.-P. Guépin, 'Is there a Night Side to Greek Religion? In defence of festivity' (pp. 41-68); J. Gahan, 'Metamorphosing Ovid, Seneca, and Aeschylus: Ted Hughes and the Art of Translation' (pp. 69-80); H. Hokwerda, 'Vijf "Romeinse" gedichten van Kavafis. Vertalingen' (pp. 81-96); M. D'Hane, 'Villes Détruites. Troie et Rotterdam -- Laocoon et Zadkine' (pp. 97-106); H. van Os, 'Image Worship and Metamorphosis' (pp. 107-12); J. Hermans, 'ut Graeci vocant. Writing Greek in a Latin context: observations on the (re)production of Aulus Gellius in the 9th Century' (pp. 113-28); F. Akkerman, 'Erasmus in Athene. Democratie in wisselende gedaanten' (pp. 129-42); R. Egan, 'Narcissus Transformed: Rationalized Myth in Plato's Phaedrus' (pp. 143-60); M. O'Brien, 'Thelyphron the "Weak-minded" or What's in a Name?' (pp. 161-74); V. Hunink, 'The Persona in Apuleius' Florida' (pp. 175-88); D. van Mal-Maeder, 'Sénèque le Tragique et les Grandes Déclamations du Pseudo-Quintilien. Poétique d'une métamorphose' (pp. 189-200); S. Hijmans, 'Sol and Luna in the Carmen Saeculare: an Iconographic Perspective' (pp. 201-24); M. Kleibrink, 'Metamorphosis and Roman Engraved Gems' (pp. 225-42); H. J. Mason, 'Sappho's Apples' (pp. 243-54); J. Wortley, 'Boeotia in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages' (pp. 255-64); S. Harrison, 'Two Victorian Versions of the Roman Novel' (pp. 265-78); K. Dowden, 'Getting the Measure of Apuleius's Metamorphoses' (pp. 279-96); H. Williams, 'The Ships on the Kenchreai Glass Panels' (pp. 297-308); R. Beck, 'Lucius and the Sundial: A hidden chronotopic template in Metamorphoses 11' (pp. 309-18); E. Finkelpearl, 'The Ends of the Metamorphoses: Apuleius Met. 11.26.4-11.30' (pp. 319-43).