Scholia Reviews ns 6 (1997) 12.
W. G. Arnott (ed. & tr.) Menander. Vol. 2. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1996. Pp. x + 501. ISBN 0-674-99506-6. UKú11.95.
Brown University, Rhode Island
This, the second volume of the three-volume Loeb edition of Menander by Geoffrey Arnott, contains the remains of ten comedies, arranged alphabetically (according to the Greek titles), and running from eta for Heros (rendered as 'The Guardian Spirit') and theta (Theophoroumene, 'The Demoniac Girl') to Perikeiromene and Perinthia. Also included are the four kappas, Karchedonios, Kitharistes, Kolax, and Koneiazomenai ('Women Drinking Hemlock'), Leukadia, and Misoumenos.
Arnott is an excellent guide to Menander. He is up- to-date on the latest bits and fragments (e.g., of Misoumenos), and he prints full Greek texts, even when the papyrus affords only a few letters. In these cases, where continuous translation is obviously impossible, Arnott provides, in italics, a judicious account of what the contents of the passage are likely to have been. This is an invaluable service, for the reader is in a position to see the state of the text, together with a clear and intelligent critical apparatus, and to judge the plausibility of the reconstruction. Where the text is translatable, Arnott furnishes reliable versions in iambic pentameters (for the iambic trimeters in the originals). The idea is sound, since readers should be conscious that Menander wrote in verse, but there are, of course, risks. Arnott's lines do not quite convey the music of Menander's, and have a tendency to fall flat. In Perikeiromene, for example, Sosias soliloquizes (172- 80):
Our swaggering soldier of an hour ago --
The one who won't let ladies keep their hair --
Now lies upon his couch in tears. Just now
I found some lunch being fixed for them, his friends
Have mustered there together, just to help
Him soldier through this business with less pain.
He had no means of learning what was going on
Here, so he's sent me out on purpose just to get
A cloak, though he needs nothing. Can he just
Want me to run around?
Menander is prosy enough, but four 'justs' in seven verses sound like padding. 'I found some lunch being fixed' conveys the momentary and unwelcome image of food lying in the street; I rather think, in any case, that the Greek KATE/LABON POOU/MENON A)/RISTON AU)TOI=S A)/RTI means 'earlier, I came upon him fixing lunch for them.' The phrase 'soldier through' is nice, though it improves upon Menander's simple TOU= PHEREIN AU)TO\N TO\ PRA=GMA R(A=ION ('so he might bear the business more easily'). The last half verse in the English, which is picked up by Polemon's slave Doris, introduces antilabe where there is none in the Greek (Sosias' speech ends in line 180).
Arnott reproduces Menander's trochaic tetrameters in English, but I have difficulty hearing the meter as I read:
Daos, you have often brought me tales before now that were not
True! You are a loud-mouthed charlatan, detested by the gods!
If in fact you're fooling me now... (Perik. 267-69).
'Loud-mouthed charlatan' does A)LAZW\N neatly, but I would have rendered EI) DE\ KAI\ [NU]NI\ PLANA=IS ME in 269 as 'If you're fooling me this time too . . .'
But these points are largely matters of taste. Arnott has given us fine texts, clear translations, brief and useful introductions, and the help that is needed to make sense, to the degree possible, of fragments that are often only tantalizing scraps. Volume three is eagerly awaited.