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8.R.1: Ivo VOLT
Fusi, Alessandro (ed.) (2006) M. Valerii Martialis Epigrammaton liber tertius. Introduzione, edizione critica, traduzione e commento a cura di Alessandro Fusi. Hildesheim; Zürich; New York: Olms. (Spudasmata; 108.) 580 p. ISBN 3-487-13094-7.

In the last 30 years, every book of epigrams by Martial has received some sort of commentary of its own, even though some of these are unpublished and the quality of the commentaries varies. It all began it 1975 with M. Citroni’s commentary on Book I. Reviewers have mentioned that it was a pity that P. Howell was also working on Book I at the same time (his commentary was published in 1980), but the two books actually complement each other. After five years, N. M. Kay’s commentary on Book XI came out (1985), and starting with 1995, there has been a new commentary almost every year: in 1995 P. Howell on Book V; in 1996 T. J. Leary on Book XIV (Apophoreta); in 1997 F. Grewing on Book VI; in 1998 and 1999 C. Henriksén on Book IX; in 2001 T. J. Leary again, this time on Book XIII (Xenia); in 2002 G. Galán Vioque on Book VII and C. Schöffel on Book VIII; in 2004 C. A. Williams on Book II; and a group of authors under the editorship of G. Damschen and A. Heil on Book X. (For selected epigrams of Book X there is also an unpublished and therefore quite inaccessible commentary by J. Jenkins, Diss. Cambridge 1981.) Finally in 2006, A. Fusi published his commentary on Book III, K. M. Coleman hers on Liber spectaculorum, and R. Moreno Soldevila hers on Book IV. For Book XII there is an unpublished commentary by M. N. R. Bowie (Diss. Oxford 1988).

Fusi’s book is a good old combination of introduction, critical text, translation and commentary. With 580 pages it is one of the most voluminous commentaries on Martial’s epigrams, but it still does not reach the amount of pages in the editions of Schöffel (723 p.), Moreno Soldevila (628 p.), Galán Vioque (606 p., no translation) or Grewing (592 p., no text, no translation). That said, I would like to call attention to Piergiorgio Parroni’s short but sapid preface to Fusi’s commentary (p. 7-14), in which he gives a summary of previous commentaries on Martial’s books, but also expresses his opinions about what he considers an ideal edition of Martial. He condemns what he calls "commenti mastodontici," the stacking of specific details that are not really necessary for understanding the text and that do not add much even as excursive displays of erudition and wide reading. He calls for brevitas, which, however, does not mean ieiunitas (p. 8). In addition, Parroni attacks the most recent Teubner editor (1990), D. R. Shackleton Bailey, for deeming a new inspection of manuscript tradition of Martial a futile enterprise, an arare litus. He forcefully argues that it is important to furnish scholars with a first-hand apparatus, which also separates canonical cumulative sigla of the manuscript families into certain groups of manuscripts (thus preventing the attribution to the archetype of a reading that is actually preserved in one codex only), distinguishes more accurately the chronological sequence of various scribes, eliminates the inaccuracies that are likely to arise when an apparatus is built only upon previous ones, etc. (p. 10). Shackleton Bailey had relied on the review of M. Citroni’s minute inspection of manuscript variants by J. Delz (MH 34 [1977], 259), who concluded that this had hardly influenced Citroni’s text, which almost entirely coincides with that of Heraeus. Thus, we are dealing with two contrary textological and editorial principles. Indeed, Parroni calls for a new critical edition of Martial (p. 11) to replace that of Shackleton Bailey, which has been criticised by others as well (cf. S. Lorenz, ‘Martial 1970-2003’ in Lustrum 46 [2004], 171-172; Parroni expressed this view already in his article ‘Su alcuni epigrammi di Marziale (in margine a una recente edizione)’ in RPL 16 [1993], p. 57).

Fusi’s introduction (54 pages) is a useful survey of Martial’s Book III. A more general study of the book (including Martial’s ‘exile’ in Forum Corneli) is followed by a section on the chronology of the book (Friedlaender had dated it to 87/88, but Fusi prefers 88). He then touches upon the question of the possible hospes of Martial, and goes on to present a synopsis of the topics treated in Book III. There follow sections on the arrangement of the epigrams and on the publication and dedication of Martial’s work.

After reading Parroni’s preface one guesses that in this edition much room is devoted to the tradition of text (both manuscripts and editions) and editorial principles, and indeed Fusi treats these questions on 27 pages. The Latin text presented in this edition is an outcome of the author’s complete collation of the manuscripts and printed editions (p. 95). A very useful ‘tavola sinottica’ on pp. 555-556 shows that Fusi generally tends to prefer the old Teubneriana of Heraeus-Borovskij to those of Shackleton Bailey or Lindsay (OCT). Due attention is given to some of Shackleton Bailey’s most notable interventions (sometimes his own, sometimes adoptions of earlier conjectures), such as nolle for velle in 3.26.5 or tibi ... ponis for ubi ... potas in 3.49.1, but that does not mean that all of his readings are rejected (cf., e.g., 3.73.2, 3.93.18). In some passages (3.7.5 f., 3.28.1, 3.32.1), Fusi presents his own reading, even if this affects only punctuation, and in some cases he prefers punctuation proposed by other scholars (3.11.3, 3.20.3 f. Izaac) or manuscripts (3.32.3). Fusi admits (p. 96) that his apparatus also contains manuscript variants that are of little or no use for the constitution of the text, but can nevertheless be helpful in reconstructing the transmission history of the text. Thus, his edition can be useful not only as a text of Martial, but also as a source for various studies of textual tradition, which distinguishes it from that of Shackleton Bailey.

The main part of the edition has a familiar structure, consisting of the Latin text of an epigram, apparatus criticus, Italian translation, an introductory note and line-by-line commentary on various textual, stylistic, literal, historical, topographical and metrical questions. Fusi admits (p. 100) that his model is the edition of Book I by M. Citroni (1975), which he considers unbeaten by any later commentary.

I will not go into detail regarding specific epigrams and their interpretations. A commentary is a book that one does not, as a rule, read through all at a time, but when there is a need for a comment, it should give clear and thorough answers to any questions that might arise. On the whole, Fusi has succeeded in this task. He elegantly walks the reader through various problems, citing other scholars in a manner that generally leaves an impression of a true dialogue. The complete lack of footnotes in commentary sections is a matter of taste. In most of the book this actually improves the readability of the text, but in some passages with extensive bibliographical information or quotations, traditional notes would probably have been a better solution. Perhaps it also would have been helpful to add a short bibliographical section to each epigram (cf. the commentaries of Galán Vioque on Book VII and Schöffel on Book VIII) and a complete bibliography instead of the list of works referred to in abbreviated form. S. Lorenz’s survey of scholarship on Martial 1970-2003 (part I, in Lustrum 45 [2004], 167-277) seems to have come out too late for Fusi to use. The edition also contains a very useful analytical index (24 pages), but lacks an index locorum.

To conclude, I would recommend this edition to every student and scholar of Martial, first of all because of its sound presentation of secondary information necessary for the comprehension of all the nuances of Martial’s often ingenious humour, and secondly for its ability to clarify several mistakes and misinterpretations of earlier scholars.


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