Scholia Reviews ns 16 (2007) 39.

Wolfgang Bernard and Christiane Reitz (edd.), Werner Krenkel: Naturalia non turpia. Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome / Schriften zur antiken Kultur- und Sexualwissenschaft. Spudasmata 113. Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms, 2006. Pp. 560. ISBN 978-3-487- 13272-3. EUR78.00.

Bernard Kytzler
Graduate School, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Rostock, a busy port on the Baltic Sea in north-eastern Germany and urban background to the Heiligendamm G8 meeting in recent times, enjoys a great academic tradition. Its university, which will celebrate its 600th year in 2019, proudly boasts some illustrious names in Classics like Chytraeus in the sixteenth and Rudolf Helm in the twentieth century.[[1]] Now, in our twenty-first century, the eightieth birthday of Werner Krenkel is being celebrated with the publication of his 'Kleine Schriften',[[2]] carefully edited by his younger colleagues Wolfgang Bernard and Christiane Reitz.

The collection contains, in chronological order, a sequence of twenty-three studies, published between 1963 and 2000. Five of them (numbers 6, 7, 12, 14, 21) are written in English; six treat various topics (1, 2, 5, 7, 22/23), for example Nonius, Lucilius, Caesar. The main corpus, however, is dedicated to the discussion of eighteen topics taken from a delicate field. Its nature is indicated in the book's title: 'Naturalia non turpia' ('nothing natural is offending', a quotation taken from Servius’ commentary on Vergil Georg. 3.96, after an unknown source from the school of the cynics, see p. 107).

To make it absolutely clear: these titles include topics like abortion (4), exhibitionism (81), scopophilia (9), masturbation (11), fellatio and irrumatio (12), tonguing (14), libido (15), transvestites (20). Obviously, Krenkel has systematically covered the field of sexual 'naturalia', quoting a tremendous wealth of relevant statements, most of them verbatim and almost all of them translated, illustrated with pertinent pictures from antiquity. Thus he offers solid condensed information on all aspects of lawful and unlawful carnal knowledge.[[3]]

At the end of the book two appendices round out this masterful presentation. The first contains twelve pictures (pp. 539f.) which are very well chosen but not too well reproduced. The second is an index (pp. 551-59) which includes proper names as well as topical lemmata such as 'family planning' or 'cunnilingus'. A typical sample, taken from the letter 'I', combines 'Ianustempel, Impotenz, Inzest, Irrumatio, Iugurtha'.

In other words, whoever sets out these days to investigate the one or the other aspect of such ancient 'naturalia', will find here a vast thesaurus of information on classical material as well as on modern scholarship concerning this subject. And he will warmly thank the two editors, and especially the author Werner Krenkel, for providing this rich, well-organised collection of a formerly marginalised or neglected (and recently often all too superficially treated) field, a field of immense importance and multiple diversifications. Rightly the introduction of the editors extols Krenkel's acribic philology, his widely spread interests and vast horizon of erudition, and finally, his humanity (‘. . . von seiner philologischen Akribie, seinem weit darüber hinaus weisenden Erkenntnisinteresse und Bildungshorizont sowie von seiner Menschlichkeit’, p. 5).[[4]]


[[1]] The humanist Nathan Chytraeus ('Kochhaf') was born on 12 March, 1543 in Menzingen, Kraichgau, Germany, and died on 25 February 1598 in Bremen. He described his travels in Europe in his poems (Hodoeporicon, 1568); he also published: Fasti Ecclesiae Christiani after Ovid's Fasti (Rostok 1576 and Hanau 1594); Epistula Satyrica contra pestem (Rostock 1578); Nomenclator Latinosaxonicus (Rostock 1582). Rudolf Helm (1872-1966) was for many years the first assistant to von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff at Berlin University. He is the author of Lukian and Menipp (Leipzig 1906) the fumdamental book on a special literary phenomenon, the 'Menippean Satire', a phenomenon often conjured up in modern literary theory, but unfortunately most often badly misunderstood and miserably maltreated. Helm served as Rector Magnificus of Rostock University after World War I; in this time he published an edition of the Chronicon of Eusebios/Hieronymus, for financial reasons (!) as a handwritten (!) manuscript of many hundred pages. Helm also was a prolific editor and translator of Apuleius, Propertius, and Martial.

[[2]] Werner Krenkel, born 1926, has recently published, for financial reasons (!) in an electronic version (!), his monumental work on Varro, a disc not on the market but available 'for friends and colleagues' from Heinrich- Schliemann Institut, University of Rostock: Marcus Terentius Varro, Saturae Menippeae, lateinisch/deutsch, mit Anmerkungen (Rostock 2001). It offers, after a long and detailed introduction, the full text and translation of the 591 fragments surviving from Varro's 150 satires, plus a profound commentary on each of them. The work is rounded out by an extensive index and a rich bibliography. Krenkel's collection 'Naturalia' discussed here contains a specimen of this electronic publication: Nr. 23, pp. 495-537.

[[3]] Krenkel's contribution concerning the figurae Veneris might be mentioned, as it has not been included in this collection. It has been published in Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Universität Rostock, Gesellschafts- und Sprachwissenschaftliche Reihe Heft 4 (1985) 50-57, and Heft 6 (1987) 49-56.

[[4]] Michael Fontaine extols ‘Krenkel's fluent, frank and hip English’ and describes his book as ‘a testament to unprejudiced examination of sensitive matters, to rational discourse, and to solid, careful philology’ in Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2007.04.18).