'Enriching Vergil's tradition: some new perspectives.'
Gabriella Vanotti, L'altro Enea. La testimonianza di Dionigi di Alicarnasso. Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1995. Pp. 343. ISBN 88-7062-908-2. No price supplied.
Paolo Mazzocchini, Forme e significati della narrazione bellica nell'epos virgiliano. I cataloghi degli uccisi e le morti minori dell' Eneide. Fasano: Schena Editore, 2000. Pp. 436. ISBN 88-8229- 201-0. No price supplied.
Publio Virgilio Marón. Georgica Primera. Traducción literal Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza; fijación de texto y registro de variantes Sergio López Mena. México: Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios Clásicos, Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, Universidad Autónoma de México, 1995. Pp. 61. ISBN 968-36-4451-1. No price supplied.
Silvana Andrea Gaeta
University of Buenos Aires
The transmission of Vergil's poetry has always been a subject of great interest to the history of philology. In this review, I will comment on some remarkable aspects of three volumes that deal with different perspectives on such an inexhaustible subject.
The work by Gabriella Vanotti is a unique approach to a subject frequently neglected; other versions of the Aeneas legend come from different points of view and with a particular ideological background. Despite the quantity of this material, just a very few such accounts have come to us and only two complete narratives: Vergil's Aeneid and -- the focus of the present book -- the Greek report contained in Book 1.45-64 of the Romaike Archaiologia by Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
Dionysius' Aeneid -- as the author calls it for methodological purposes -- doesn't always match the Vergilian one but rather uses different traditions and elaborates an alternative perspective. According to Vanotti, Book I contains a migratory chain that tends to prove the theorema underlying the whole historical exposition: the Greek origin of Rome. Throughout his account Dionysius separates Roman roots from the Etruscan and builds up an ethnographic reconstruction which is quite different from the one elaborated by Maecenas and his group. The political bias of Dionysius' version relates to the fate of Greece under Roman domination and he proposes a Hellenistic origin for Roman greatness. In his eyes, Rome is the last heir of the Hellenistic Empires.
In any case, due to the primacy of Vergil and his successors, the other Aeneas has often remained in the shadows. That is why Vanotti rescues this alternative image and presents an edition of Dionysius' chapters, along with the Greek text and an Italian translation. The book opens with an extensive and complete introduction to the legend in the Mediterranean and concludes with a detailed commentary on the translated text. She also gives an account of all the parallel tales that were used as essential sources and shaped a different version.
Vanotti foregoes a detailed comparison with Vergil's Aeneid because of the huge distance between the ideological universes and creative capacities of such diverse authors. However, the most significant difference consists in the ideology that gives life to their works. The twenty-year gap between both of them explains this distance. While Vergil is imbued with an Italic, anti-Oriental perspective after Actium, Dionysius writes in a world where the dispute between East and West has reached a truce and thus there is an urgent need to cement the reconciliation between both parties.
After the introduction, there is the Italian translation and a commentary on the Greek text. Most of the notes are on linguistic, historical, or anthropological issues and are an essential guide for a comprehensive approach to the text.
The last pages are dedicated to a bibliography, which is varied and very complete. There is also an index of names and geographical places and ancient sources. All of this shows thorough scholarship and proves to be extremely useful for the reader who wants to dig even deeper into other aspects of the subject. Moreover, these appendices will be very welcome also to specialists who are interested in the specific topics discussed in the book.
The second book is an extremely well-documented work by Mazzocchini who discusses -- in a detailed and exhaustive textual analysis -- the catalogues of dead warriors in the Aeneid. These are divided into those in which a single hero kills many fighters (an aristeia) and those where diverse warriors kill one or more opponents. In spite of the fact that the catalogues of the Italic people and Etruscan ships have been thoroughly researched by other critics, they have frequently left aside these essential lists that allow old problems on certain interpretative issues of general order to be solved. These catalogues are one of the clearest features of Vergil's debt to Homer, particularly in the general organization and thematic aspects of his poem. Vergil introduces a very interesting varietas in these which tends to create new patterns of composition.
Besides the rich and comprehensive textual information, the work contains several indices: a list of the quoted passages, one on the most remarkable items, proper names, Greek terms and an extensive and useful bibliography.
Finally there is edition of the first book of the Georgics by Sergio López Mena, translated by Joaquín Aracadio Pagaza. As a matter of fact, the edition is more a tribute to the work of this remarkable nineteenth-century Mexican translator than a philological analysis of the Vergilian text. To begin with, the reader is only presented with the Spanish version and the Latin text is hardly ever mentioned. Moreover, the footnotes are exclusively concerned with the diverse stages in Pagaza's translation process -- different versions in Spanish, several corrections, a certain number of manuscripts, and so on. The volume closes with the facsimile of the translator's original manuscript.
To conclude, these three books are exceptionally interesting examples of the enthusiasm that Vergil's work arouses more than two thousand years after its composition. All of them turn out to be a very revealing accounts not only of the figure of Aeneas and the multiple cultural, historical, geographical, and ideological layers we can find in the poem, but also about the current importance of the subject. For these reasons, these essays are highly recommended for every philologist or historian who wants to find new readings on such an inspiring topic.
[] Scholia apologizes for the late appearance of this review, which was not in any way caused by the reviewer. In general, Scholia seeks to publish reviews within three months of receipt.