Scholia Reviews ns 12 (2003) 20.

John Barsby (tr. & ed.), Terence: Volume I. The Woman of Andros, The Self-Tormentor, The Eunuch. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002. Pp. 452. ISBN 0-674-99597-X. UKú14.50.

John Barsby (tr. & ed.), Terence: Volume II. Phormio, The Mother-in-law, The Brothers. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002. Pp. 375. ISBN 0-674-99598- 8. UKú14.50.

John Whitehorne
Classics and Ancient History, University of Queensland

John Barsby, who retired recently from the chair of classics at Otago University, in New Zealand, has given us many fine contributions to the modern study of Terence, including a substantial commentary on the Eunuchus (Cambridge 1999) and a companion to the Penguin translation of Phormio, Eunuchus and Adelphi.[[1]] But perhaps none is destined for such a long and useful future as this new translation of all six plays for the Loeb Classical Library series.

Barsby's new translation replaces the rather dated work of John Sargeaunt, first printed in 1912. The difference is soon obvious even from the spine of Volume 1, where 'The Lady of Andros' has now become the more zippy 'Woman of Andros.' This first volume begins with a general introduction and select bibliography, both of which the original Loebs lacked. The introduction is taken almost verbatim from that to Barsby's edition of Eunuchus, minus most of the annotation of chapter and verse which would have been inappropriate here. In masterly style Barsby clearly and briefly lays out the little known that is known (for sure) of Terence's life; his contemporary background; the theatrical conditions and stage conventions of his time; his approach to his Greek originals; his language and style; the metrical and musical structure of the plays; and their MSS tradition. As Barsby says (p. 28), the text of Terence is generally well established and Barsby has made few changes, although he perhaps makes the changes of speaker which the medieval MSS provide appear somewhat more trustworthy than they actually are.

Another welcome innovation is the provision of a short introductory note and select bibliography for each play. In the former Barsby usefully tells readers what to look out for in the play. In the latter he flags modern editions and commentaries together with a few select critical studies (although why Jocelyn's famous 1973 Antichthon article on HT. 77 makes the cut here I do not know).[[2]]

The MSS of Terence preface each play, except Andria, with a didascalic notice and Barsby also prints these and translates them, including a made-up one for Andria. The capital letters and the lay-out of the lines used for printing these didascalia are a bit worrying, suggesting as they do that these notices have some kind of ancient inscriptional authority, which was never the case (see p. 30). Barsby also prints and translates the metrical summaries of the plays composed by Sulpicius Apollinaris in the second century A.D. and gives a useful list of dramatis personae and a summary account of the staging of each play. At the end of each volume there is also a metrical analysis of each play, something which I feel is unlikely to be of interest or use to general readers.

What the majority of those who buy, borrow or steal Loeb volumes are looking for is a good, accurate translation, one which keeps close to the original but at the same time is not a plain and awkward 'crib' in the old-fashioned sense. Here they are well served by Barsby who has done a good job of turning the dramatist into modern and straightforward English, which nonetheless does something to catch Terence's simple elegance. This is perhaps 'Terry' as opposed to Sargeaunt's Edwardian 'Terence', but not 'Tell' or 'Tezza' (except very occasionally: cf. 'The cunning old blighter!' for 'astute!' at And. 183 or 'several of the lads' for 'aliquot adulescentuli' at Eun. 539). Obviously there are going to be minor points of disagreement here and there; for example, I wonder why Barsby makes And. 67f. an aside when Sosias has already sententiously replied directly to Simo at lines 60f., or why he uses question marks for the text of Eun. 232f. but exclamation marks (rightly) in the translation.

Over all however this is a very good version. The translator is to be congratulated, as is the series' current editor, now Jeffrey Henderson, for persevering with the Loeb Classical Library's plans to continue providing new translations of the major classical authors.[[3]]


[[1]] John Barsby (ed.), Terence: Eunuchus (Cambridge 1999); John Barsby, Terence: Phormio, with The Eunuch and The Brothers. A Companion to the Penguin translation (Bristol 1991).

[[2]] H.D. Jocelyn, 'Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto (Terence, Heauton Timorumenos 77)', Antichthon 7 (1973) 14-46.

[[3]] There are a few misprints to be noted and corrected: Should the name be 'Nicaretus' not 'Niceratus' at And. 87? At vol.1 p. 109, n.33, does anybody still know what a 'threepenny bit' is? Read 'planning' for 'plannng' at And. 724. At has dropped out at the start of HT. 590. Read quam rem for quem rem at HT. 740. Read exempli for exemplo at HT. 920; and is ego deliberately omitted? Read conficiet for conficiat at HT. 998. At vol. 1 p. 319, n. 9, read 'plagiarism' for 'plagarism.' Finally : vol. 2. p. 254, ADELPHOE not ADELPOE!