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An international online journal of the classics and the humanities

7.R.5: Ivo VOLT
Artés Hernández, José Antonio (2005) Pseudo-Demetrio: Tipos de cartas - Pseudo-Libanio: Clases de cartas. Amsterdam: Hakkert. (Classical and Byzantine monographs; 59.) 71 p. ISBN 90-256-0638-5, 90-256-1203-2. Price: €18.

This small volume contains a short general introduction to epistolary theory in antiquity, and a more specific study on the works Typoi epistolikoi by Pseudo-Demetrios and Epistolimaioi charaktēres by Pseudo-Libanios. The author reviews opinions about the date and authorship of both works presented in various general histories of literature and in some "standard" works on Greek epistolography. He then focuses on the rhetorical perspective of both texts, presenting a lexical analysis to filter out terms that are important for epistolary theory and rhetoric. This introduction is followed by a fairly complete bibliography and Spanish translations (with lengthy notes) of both works, and an index of Greek terms important for epistolary theory. As the author states (pp. 2 and 23), this is the first complete Spanish translation of the two important treatises.

In the English-speaking world, Typoi epistolikoi and Epistolimaioi charaktēres are quite well known thanks to the translations of Abraham J. Malherbe. (His "Ancient epistolary theorists" was published in 1977 in Ohio Journal of Religious Studies 5.2, 3-77, and subsequently as a separate book in 1988 by Scholars Press in the series Society of Biblical Literature: Sources for Biblical Study, no. 19.) This translation has been consulted by Artés Hernández, who criticizes it for using the Foerster edition (1927) rather than the Weichert (1910) as his Greek source text, albeit the differences usually concern only punctuation. He also notes that Malherbe's translation tends to go too far from the original in passages that present notable difficulties, such as the first lines of Pseudo-Demetrios' work.

As the first complete Spanish translation of two important epistolographical texts, this volume certainly has fulfilled its purpose. Unfortunately it does not add much to our knowledge of ancient epistolary theory, and the small amount of pages devoted to theoretical questions does not allow any detail.

The typographical quality of the book could have been considerably improved by printing the notes in smaller font and line spacing. This probably would have eliminated cases in which the whole or nearly the whole page is filled by a footnote (cf. p. 33).

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