De Gruyter (2021) h/b 428pp £109 (ISBN 9783110718171)
This unusually interesting Festschrift, which had its birth in a conference held at Oxford in 2018, honours someone who is not a classical scholar as that term is commonly understood, but whose scholarly work and achievements have involved him in (so to speak—but the metaphors are sadly inadequate) ‘looking under the bonnet’, and ‘displaying the architects and scaffolding’ of the work of classical scholarship and scholars. If ‘reception’ is Nachleben, what Stray (S.) has given us, in full measure, is Vorleben; a much fuller account of S.’s achievements is given in the editors’ introduction.
Of the 15 chapters in the book—one of them, unusually, by S. himself—perhaps about half can be directly related to his work and interests; and, again unusually, there is a chapter on Festschriften. After a short but useful Introduction, the editors have divided the chapters under six Parts: (I) Orientation and Origins; (II) Early Modern; (II) Victorian Cambridge and Oxford; (IV) History of the Book/Commentary; (V) International Connections; and (VI) Academic Practices: however, this notice will not strictly adhere to that order. It may be helpful here to observe that a complete (and formidable) list of S.’s publications is provided on pp. 401-9 (helpfully summed up by the editors in the Introduction) and there is a list of contributors on p. 411. Bibliographies follow each chapter.
Part III opens with some exceptionally fine research by David Butterfield, on ‘The Shilleto Phenomenon’. Shilleto was the ‘go to’ coach at Cambridge in the Victorian era. Second Classic (to E. L. Lushington) in 1832, he might have expected to move into a College fellowship; but he had married early, so at that time that path was closed, and with a family to support, after several false starts, he became a coach, an important role when composition into Greek and Latin was an automatic part of the course: Jebb was among his pupils. He worked all the hours that were available (keeping himself fuelled by generous imports of ale, brought up to him by a dumb waiter); as B. observes, a private tutor earned up to ten times the salary of College lecturers, a fact which caused understandable controversy in Cambridge. His fine edition of Demosthenes De Falsa Legatione (1844) was unusual in that the commentary was in English, but was almost the only work that his tutorial work gave him time to complete. Shilleto, who became a College Fellow (at Peterhouse) before he died, was a ‘classicist who embodied the change from one culture to another’ and, despite all, his combination of qualities, especially linguistic brilliance, fully justifies the detailed account which B. has given us. (As was not unusual at that time, a book of his compositions was published.)
Again in Part III, Stephen Harrison reminds us that John Conington was Oxford’s first Professor of Latin (Cambridge too had to wait until the 19th century for what would become the Kennedy Professorship to be created). Conington had already edited Aeschylus’ Agamemnon in 1848: a century later the same play would be edited by another Corpus Professor of Latin. However, his credentials in Latin, including his project to edit Virgil, ensured his election to the Chair, aged only 28—thus freeing him from the necessity to be ordained. Conington’s three-volume Virgil commentary (1858-1871, revised and in part written by H. Nettleship) is one of a small number of Victorian commentaries to retain value today. H. brings out the ‘pluses and minuses’ of the commentary, which would be accompanied by a verse version of the Aeneid; he also translated Horace’s Odes, Satires and Epistles, and reviewed Munro’s (high quality) Lucretius. This was substantial output (and there was more) for a scholar who died—seemingly of sepsis—at only 44 and who, like W.Y. Sellar, had promoted Latin literature as ‘part of more general literary culture’.
In Part IV Roy Gibson considers the first fifty years of the Cambridge’s highly successful ‘Green and Yellow’ series, which has reached its century in number of editions. One feature is the substantial expansion in content and improvement in quality as time has gone by: this is starkly exemplified by the two editions of Philoctetes, 43 years apart. T.B.L. Webster’s rather thin ‘bread and butter’ edition (1970) (in which textual matters were handled by Easterling) was not well received; S. Schein’s replacement spent much less time on textual matters, but is on a far bigger scale, and ‘met reviewers’ expectations for a modern commentary’. This is a long chapter; over 50 years, there have been profound changes in what a reader can now expect—and also in what the editors can expect of a reader. The commentators themselves have been discouraged from using the first person, on the grounds that the identity of the commentator should take second place to the subject of the commentary—even if the desiderated ‘firm steer’ approach could sometimes lead to the opposite result.
Still in Part IV, Christopher Pelling discusses the perennial problem of how a commentary on a work of history should combine history with linguistic matters: the example chosen is Gomme’s commentary on Thucydides (Gomme himself held a chair in Greek). The difference in scale between Gomme and the Herodotus of How and Wells is sharply brought out by P., and this increase in scale is (as noted above) carried on in the Green and Yellow series (and to Ramsay’s historical commentary on Galatians: 478 pages, on only 9 pages of text: even the Cambridge ‘Orange’ series must bow.). Comparison, too, is made with later commentators on Thucydides. Usefully, P. prints (and then discusses) the first page of Gomme’s Introduction, helping us to see what Gomme does not include as well as what he does. There is surely no need to be as gloomy about the prospects for a historical commentary as John Davies (p. 243) is; contrast Rhiannon Ash’s excellent Tacitus, Annals, Book xv (2017). (If P.’s chapter were made compulsory reading for undergraduates studying ancient history, it would be no bad thing).
A somewhat ‘autophagous’ chapter in Part VI by Graham Whitaker discusses the Festschrift itself: it includes a most telling and relevant footnote where Juliette Ernst considers the problems facing the reviewers of Festschriften! Not every scholar welcomed being celebrated in this manner (e.g. Wilamowitz and Mommsen—though the latter was indeed celebrated, with over 80 contributions; Housman’s attitude, if any, is not referred to, but who would have dared to contribute?). The real problems with the genre for those invited to contribute are too obvious to need restating. The instructive case of Blakeway’s contribution to Gilbert Murray’s Festschrift might have been usefully included here: Blakeway offered a revised date for Archilochus, but it was comprehensively demolished four years later by F. Jacoby in a masterly article in JHS (1941).
The nature of S.’s work means that the subjects covered in this Festschrift range widely, and some scholarly contributions are likely to be mainly of specialist interest. Lorna Hardwick’s survey (Part I), of the possible way ahead for classical studies in today’s environment, is given human interest by her account of ‘Nathaniel’, a successful black student who read Greats at Oxford, but who nevertheless ‘felt cheated of a rigorous education’ (here one must wonder whether he had opted for the literary option rather than philosophy), believing that classics was not yet being liberated from its ‘appropriation in predominantly western and imperialist narratives’.
The three chapters of Part II—Early Modern—include Edith Hall’s examination of the term ‘classics’, as it originated from the French ‘Delphin’ series and then developed with the Anglican curriculum diverging from the continental model (the same would be true of developments in philosophy). Robert Kaster—perhaps best known in the UK for his outstanding work on Macrobius—takes a highly scholarly and technical look at how the text of Seneca’s De beneficiis developed between 1575 and Gronovius’ edition of 1649. Michael Clarke’s interesting look at Thomas Jefferson’s startling pairing of Dares Phrygius with Homer as poets of Troy reminds one of ‘Dares of Troy’ and ‘Dictys of Crete’: readers interested may be referred to Frazer and Arner’s edition (Indiana, 2019) of the epics composed by these fictitious figures.
James Clackson, in Part III, considered the history of comparative philology in Cambridge since 1883; among those interested were not only Hugh Munro and his former Headmaster, B.H. Kennedy, who became Professor of Greek at Cambridge, but also Munro’s successor in the Latin Chair, J.E.B. Mayor (whose eccentricities have been described, in a manner worthy of S. himself, by John Henderson); here we see important and continuing interaction between classicists and linguists.
In Part IV, Christina Shuttleworth Kraus’s account of rival editions of Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum in 19/20th century USA is perhaps most interesting in showing how American schoolchildren seemed to be more concerned with trying to recreate Caesar’s bridge across the Rhine than in learning about gerunds: such interest in Realien would have been less likely in UK schools. Whether, as the editors suggest, ‘graphic content helps to organize information, communicate authority and regulate the way in which students consumed the classics’ may perhaps be debated.
Part V is given to ‘International Connections’. Ward Briggs’s somewhat dry account of the founding of the American Philological Association in 1868 reminds us that ‘American aboriginal languages’ were included in the original blueprint—and papers on the subject were given at intervals up to 1915. Moreover, no less a person than Heinrich Schliemann produced a paper for the inaugural meeting—though whether he was there in person seems highly doubtful (he was probably in Indianapolis). Of equal relevance is Judith Hallett’s account of the role of gender in the diaspora of classical scholars from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s—a diaspora which had immensely beneficial effects on classical studies most notably in the USA and UK, even if the names of the women are likely to be unfamiliar in the UK (and Juliette Ernst, who edited L’Année Philologique for almost 60 years, was hardly to be numbered among the victims of the diaspora.) ‘Women classicists’, says Hallett,’ have benefited from the greater ethnic and socio-cultural diversity in academic hierarchies’, though ‘the achievements of Juliette Ernst have little relevance to the North American academic scene’. Finally, Jas Elsner’s account of the melancholy circumstances concerning Eduard Fraenkel’s unacceptable behaviour in the late 1930s and 40s, and its consequences, which have ultimately led to the renaming of the former ‘Fraenkel room’, needs no repetition here.
The final chapter comes from the pen of S. himself and concerns scholarly collaboration (S. himself, of course, has frequently collaborated, including items with the editors of this Festschrift and [indirectly] with the author of this review). What more famous example of collaboration is there than Liddell and Scott? One also thinks of How and Wells, and the Dover/Andrews collaboration in completing Gomme’s Thucydides; but the proposed W.S Watt/D.R. Shackleton Bailey collaboration on an OCT of some of Cicero’s letters fell apart (and from internal evidence it can be safely inferred that the editors of the Greek paroemiographers were sharply at odds about what should (not) be included).
But S. here is more concerned with academic communities, such as the group of friends and admirers of Richard Porson, or the (incorrectly but conveniently described) ‘Cambridge Ritualists’. Gilbert Murray, Jane Harrison, and Francis Cornford were central to the group, but both James Frazer and A.B. Cook were pretty loosely attached, if at all; Murray, however, even contributed a lengthy chapter to one of Harrison’s books; and why, asks S., did not Arthur Verrall, a friend of Cornford and Murray, join them? Recently we can think of Tony Spawforth and Simon Hornblower as joint editors of the admirable Oxford Classical Dictionary from the third edition. And doubtless we shall hear more of The Postclassicisms Collective (2020), to which S. fleetingly alludes.
This important Festschrift covers directly or indirectly most of S.’s multifarious interests, and displays his boundless energy. At the reviewer’s first encounter with S., he learnt that Kennedy’s famous Shortbread Eating Primer had in fact been compiled by Kennedy’s daughters; he has learnt much more since, and confidently expects to continue to be informed.
As always, De Gruyter’s production values are of the highest standard.