CUP (2021) p/b 381pp £29.99 (ISBN 9781316631447)

This substantial addition to the Green and Yellow series is the first anglophone edition since the last decade of the nineteenth century. The introduction, in seven parts, covers chapter 1 the Pro Milone and Cicero’s career. Milo was a thug, who had risen from nowhere to become tribune in 57 BC (see page 4:‘we can see Milo only through a glass darkly’). Two years later he became praetor (backed by Pompey) and married Sulla’s daughter. By the time Cicero returned from exile, in late 57, the gangs of Milo and Clodius (who had managed to ‘plebeianise’ himself in order to stand for the tribunate) were clashing in the streets—and in the law courts. By 53, when Milo sought the consulship and Clodius the praetorship, matters came to a head. The ultimate result was the death of Clodius—longstanding enemy of Cicero—at the hands of Milo.

The circumstances surrounding this event and Milo’s prosecution for murder form the subject of the speech. It was indeed surprising that Cicero should defend Milo, with whom he was—again surprisingly—on very friendly terms.

Chapter 2 gives an account of the death of Clodius, Milo’s trial, and the aftermath, and the historical background. This was a turbulent time at Rome, and even Pompey—who had promulgated a law de vi, under which Milo was prosecuted—could not control the violence. The chapter should be read in conjunction with the extremely helpful and detailed timeline given in chapter 3.

Chapter 4 covers the argument and outline of the speech (Cicero was claiming that Milo had been lured into an ambush). K. gives an outline of the speech under eight headings; Exordium; Preliminary refutation of praeiudicia; Transition; Narratio, Transition; argumentatio I, argumentatio II; Peroratio. These headings are themselves broken down into up to nine sub-headings, and later they will appear again, and be usefully expanded, in the Commentary.

A lengthy account of Cicero’s Style follows in chapter 5 (‘periodic’ sentences, word order, prose rhythm); much of this will be largely familiar to those already accustomed to studying Cicero, to whom the concept of the clausula (esse videatur, esse credebat etc.) is not new; it will however, be ‘caviar to the general’. When K. says ‘In general, Latin prose is scanned like classical verse; the last syllable of a rhythmic colon is indifferent and always treated as long’, one wonders which readers will find this relevant or even intelligible (in the commentary, such words are scanned with a sign to indicate the scansion, as ‘armare’ [with a long sign above the ‘e’] to distinguish it from a long vowel proper, while ‘elision is marked by not marking a vowel’s quantity’). Earlier, K. offered an entire long one-sentence paragraph from the speech, with scansion signs applied to indicate its periodic structure. This is both introduced and discussed at considerable length.

Chapter 6—Revision and Publication—takes us into the question of whether the speech we have is the same as the speech he actually gave (very probably not, and much shorter owing to the very present possibility of violence; and there are signs that the speech originally composed but not given was itself revised (Milo was reported in Dio, centuries later, as saying jokingly that if the original speech had been given, he would not have been living a life of [exiled] luxury in Marseille: a nice story, even if untrue) In chapter 7, K. gives much more attention to the textual tradition than has become usual with the Green and Yellows, and this is continued in the Text itself, which is furnished with a fully adequate apparatus criticus.

In the recently published Festschrift for Christopher Stray, a chapter is devoted to the history and development of the Green and Yellow series over the 50 years of its existence. One of the points strongly brought out is how the commentaries have increased in size and scope over the years; and this is assuredly no exception. The text takes up roughly 30 pages; the commentary takes up 260 pages—over eight pages for each page of text. It is hardly necessary to say that K. has covered, often at length, every point, whether textual, grammatical, syntactical, prosodic, or historical that the student could seek guidance on. K. naturally employs American spelling, and it may be that he has US students particularly in mind; for UK students, one might have expected the emphasis to lie on the history of the period rather than the use (say) of the future participle with or without esse (p. 224).

It is notoriously tricky for the editor of a ‘historical’ text to merge historical and linguistic aspects satisfactorily, and in this instance it is possible to wonder whether the commentary might have benefited by some pruning of linguistic aspects. This, of course, is not to deny the praiseworthy thoroughness that K. has brought to his task. K. tells us (p. 28) that his commentary ‘pays particular attention to details of style and language, and how they contribute to Cicero’s argument; Cicero’s style is inseparable from his message. If the sober commentator is allowed to express an aesthetic judgment … Cicero’s prose is a thing of beauty and worthy of appreciation in its own right’. The speech itself, let us remember, is for the defence: one may feel that Cicero, in the account that has come down to us, has done as good a job as was possible in unpromising circumstances. But Milo was a murderer, and was justly convicted.

There is an 18 page bibliography and Indexes; before the text, sketch maps display the relevant geography. In paperback, the book is very good value at £24.99. It is hard to imagine any need for another commentary on Pro Milone for many years.


Colin Leach