Scholia Reviews ns 9 (2000) 22.

L E X I C A , L E X I C A . . . .

Rainer Nickel, Lexikon der antiken Literatur. Düsseldorf and Zürich: Artemis & Winkler, 1999. Pp. 904. ISBN 3-538-07089-X. DM98.00.

Manfred Landfester (ed.), Der neue Pauly (edd. Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider). Vol. 13: Rezeptions- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte A - F. Stuttgart and Weimar: J. B. Metzler Verlag, 1999. Pp. lvi + 640, incl. 10 maps and 250 black-and-white illustrations. ISBN 3-476-01483-5. DM328.00.

Bernhard Kytzler,
University of Natal, Durban


The advent of the internet and CD-ROM technology has opened up immense new possibilities for storing data, arranging them in many various ways, and making them easily accessible. Next to text-corpora it is the field of lexicography and encyclopedias which has been most influenced by this development. Why fill long shelves with paper editions when you can condense the whole information onto a small disc, which may, in addition, be reproduced ever so often with small effort and at little cost?

This is a widely-held, but not a unanimous opinion. Manfred Landfester for instance, in his introduction (p. viii), explains why he uses these modern tools only with the utmost caution: in a few years they might be accessible only with considerable difficulty, because of the tremendous speed of technical progress. If we look at the policies of the established publishing companies, we might observe here and there a modest inclination to introduce modern methods, but in general we even find an intensified production of traditional paper editions. To name just a few: the Oxford Classical Dictionary's rejuvenated third edition came out in 1996; the most venerable patriarch of them all, the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, is happily -- but certainly not hastily -- now in its second century of creation; the Historische Wörterbuch der Rhetorik reached its halfway point in very few years;[[1]] Grimm's Deutsches Wörterbuch (no less than thirty-three volumes) was reprinted in 1984 (first published 1854-1971); finally, the Italian Academy in Rome edited two separate encyclopedias, one dedicated to Virgil in three full volumes, and the other, one single volume, entitled Orazio, in 1996. The present review will describe two new relevant enterprises, both published in the year of 1999 -- new in arrangement and/or approach, but traditional in their paper form. So where are we?

It seems ours are times of transition, teeming with contradictions: on the one hand, there is dynamic determination to press ahead; on the other, we observe strong efforts to preserve the advantages of the traditional media with firmness and fortitude. It might take decades, if not generations, until this clash is finally and satisfactorily resolved. For the moment we are in the fortunate position of being able to use both methods, the ultramodern as well as the more traditional. Good old Gutenberg versus Bill Gates -- these are exciting times indeed.


While ordinary lexica use the ancient authors' names for their alphabet, Nickel takes the Latin or Greek book titles as the basis of his list. Obviously, this makes for extremely long enumeration: more than 2,300 Greek and Latin entries fill more than 850 wide and tall pages. Nickel usually gives the reader the original title first (the Greek ones in transliteration) and its German equivalent; then follow the name and time of the author, a short survey of the content, and quite often some evaluation, often in the form of quotes taken from leading scholars. A concise bibliography (editions, translations, and in some cases commentaries and monographs) rounds out the lemma.

There are pluses and minuses in this unusual general format. Evidently, the user finds all the Elektras or Alexanders, all the apologiai or institutiones, at one glance. To even greater advantage, he is offered four indices in addition to the general bibliography (pp. 898-904): German titles (pp. 870-75); authors' names with Greek and Latin titles (pp. 876-90); authors' names with German titles (pp. 891f.); and literary genres (pp. 893-97). The final index is the most interesting. It presents all those works which are listed under a generic name, such as bioi/vitae, annales, gnomai, hymnoi, iamboi, metamorphoses, periplus, and problemata. This covers a limited range only, to be sure, but it nevertheless provides a lot of stimuli for thought and a wealth of cross- references.

On the other hand, there are some pitfalls to be mastered when using Nickel's book. Let's assume you try to call up the name of that late antique writer who composed this strange text on the wedding of Philosophy and Zeus. Or was it Philology and Ares? You maybe start looking at nuptiae, but there is only Nux, and epithalamium (which you find only after going through twenty-one pages of epistolai) does not help either. What next? German titles like 'Hochzeit' or 'Heirat'? No results. It's time for your stroke of genius: the longest list in this book covers pages 184-277, a sort of 'book within a book'. It embraces all the many titles that sport a 'de' at the beginning, and voilà, there it is, in good alphabetical order: De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii libri IX, by Martianus Capella, and a full column brings you all the details you might ask for.

Of course, de has a strong rival: another 'book within a book' (pp. 624-713) is structured by the seemingly endless procession of titles starting with 'peri'. And here, you do need your Greek: peri biu in Nickel's transliteration means 'about the life', be it followed by a name (e.g. Moyse/os) or an adjective (theoretikou); clearly, this system has its problems. You have to know the original full Greek title to identify what you actually want to check.

To sum up: Nickel gives us a valuable thesaurus of fundamental facts about each title, each author, each work, about its genesis, its content, its sources, and its influence. This is a model work of information: clear, concise, and up to date. It is, however, not always easy to use; the location of some lemmata follows arcane rules, and the user might have learnt quite a lot of other unrelated information before he arrives at his final destination. But rest assured: it is there. Somewhere. Just keep trying.


Der neue Pauly, started in 1996, was reviewed in this journal recently.[[2]] In the meantime its main corpus has reached volume six. It has therefore already arrived at the half-way stage. Publishers and editors are to be congratulated on the success of this speedy production.

Of special interest is the recent publication of volume thirteen: this is the first of three volumes, thirteen to fifteen, dedicated to 'Rezeptions- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte'. In the words of its editor Manfred Landfester, professor of Classics at Giessen in Germany, this is 'lexikographisches Neuland' (p. viii). This terra nova divisa est in partes sex: countries and regions; archaeological sites and important museums; cultural epochs and movements; the fields of the discipline and their methods; the leading institutions of research; and the influence of classical antiquity in special sectors such as architecture, medicine, law, literature, philosophy, and religion. There is also a section on 'Economic History' and even 'Alltagskultur', including inter alia film, advertising, and the media in general. Within the framework of classical studies this is 'lexikographisches Neuland' indeed. Bravo!

Thus we have here not only 'Europa', but also 'Afrika' and 'China', even 'Albanien' and 'Estland', or 'Australien und Neuseeland'. We have 'Aristotelismus' and 'Augustinismus', followed by 'Caesarismus', 'Ciceronianismus', and 'Faschismus'. We also find 'Demokratie' and 'Diktatur' (though no 'Anarchie'). No less than nine pages (neatly placed between 'college' and 'corpus medicorum') elucidate 'comics'; four pages, nicely introduced by 'Figurenlehre' and amusingly followed by 'fin de siècle', treat 'Film' under three headings: A. 'Geschichte'; B. 'Typologie'; and C. 'Wirkung'. Certainly an encyclopedia for the twenty-first century!

Although a general article 'Bibliothek' and a special one on 'Bibliotheca Corviniana' is offered, there is no 'Ambrosiana'. Also, neither 'Asianismus' nor 'Attizismus' are mentioned. Wisely, the editors have totally excluded the personal names of scholars. There is only one back-door to this sort of immortality here: the 'Buecher-Meyer-Kontroverse', the 'Boeckh-Hermann-Auseinandersetzung', and still to come: the 'Wilamowitz-Nietzsche-Auseinandersetzung'. Dimico ergo sum!

We cannot go through here all the different sections and subsections of the volume. Suffice it to say that the expectations raised by the publicity are happily fulfilled. That contributions like 'Aufklärung' by Manfred Landfester or 'Apollinisch und dionysisch' by Fritz Graf will remain research tools for the next generation. This statement holds true for much of the whole volume. The entire enterprise, which will hopefully be finished within the first decade of the new century, promises to be an invigorating move to take classics an important step further into a fresh new world, far beyond Winckelmann, Wilamowitz, Jaeger and others.


[[1]] See Scholia Reviews 8 (1999) 144-47.

[[2]] See Scholia Reviews 6 (1997) 126-30.