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Reviewed by:
  • Athenaeus: The Learned Banqueteers ed. by S. Douglas Olson
  • Leofranc Holford-Strevens
S. Douglas Olson (ed. and tr.). Athenaeus: The Learned Banqueteers. Vols. 1–2: Books I–III.106e, III.106e–V. Loeb Classical Library, 204, 208. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. Pp. xxiv, 597; x, 582. $24.00 ea. ISBN 978-0-674-99620-5; 978-0-674-99621-2.

The obvious question to be asked is why the world needs a new Loeb based on the same critical edition, that by G. Kaibel, as the old one by C. B. Gulick. No answer is given in Olson’s introduction, but readers will certainly appreciate the updating of references and the identification of historical persons; the restoration of Kaibel’s paragraphs is welcome now that the TLG has chosen to use them (who else does?). Unfortunately, the publisher has seen fit to give only the book number in the recto running head, so that not only the chapter, but far more importantly the Casaubon page, must be sought from another opening. This is particularly annoying, as those who obey the instruction “cf. 4.182d” at ii.225 n.136 will find by not finding, when the order of pages has been corrected since Casaubon’s day.

Neither edition has an extensive introduction, for which the need is the less now that readers can turn to the essays collected in D. Braund and J. Wilkins’ Athenaeus and His World. Olson discards without a word the identification of Larensios with P. Livius Larensis (though his cognomen must have been Larensis, not “Larensius”). Gone, too, is Gulick’s emphasis on food and cookery, which would have duplicated the introduction to Olson and Sens’ Archestratus.

Gulick professed to follow Kaibel’s text unless that editor’s emendations, as “in many passages,” were “too bold or unnecessary”; Olson’s is “based on Kaibel,” supplemented by his own collations. Practice, as usual, is more complex: at 1.1B Olson accepts Kaibel’s μ’ <ἂν> in preference to Johannes Meyer’s <ἄν> μ ε, adopted by Gulick despite the hiatus; at 1.1C he rightly rejects the transmitted (Arabizing?) retained by Kaibel and Gulick; at 4.162A he follows Kaibel and the paradosis in two places where Gulick printed Arthur Ludwich’s conjectures. In general, Olson is readier to admit that the text is corrupt, rather than present a readable stopgap; he even obelizes the garbled quotation from Aristophanes, Birds 695 at 2.57D, though we know perfectly well what the poet wrote, presumably because he is not sure how Athenaeus gave it. Indeed, his perhaps paradoxical policy on quotations is to reproduce those known only from Athenaeus according to the best modern edition, but others as they had reached him.

Overall, Olson’s translation is more accurate: at the very outset he rightly renders 1.1A, ̓∈ν, “in his own house,” and not as Gulick, “of his time.” At 4.151E , which Gulick had rendered “flageolet notes,” becomes more accurately “with two tones at the same time”; the technical equivalent, “doubling at the octave,” might not have been correct for the overtone of the Thracian trumpet.

It would be too much to ask that not only Athenaeus himself, with his multi-prefixed verbs and popularized technicalities, but every author cited, should be rendered in his or her own style. Sometimes, however, Olson, in reproducing comedy, brings the reader back to plausible speech where Gulick strays too far into Classical Translationese, as may be seen by comparing their versions of 1.21D = Alexis fr. 265 Kassel–Austin: for Gulick’s “to them who walk with dignity comes full meed of honour, while they who see it have pleasure, and life has its grace,” Olson has: “it produces a certain amount | of distinction for those who act this way, pleasure for the onlookers, | and a bit of polish in your life.” He also recognizes that in the previous sentence means “price,” not “honor,” though in the first line of the fragment [End Page 263] his “servility” for suggests obsequiousness rather than ill breeding (“no gentleman,” Gulick).

In restyling the work The Learned Banqueters rather than Deipnosophists, Olson has made it more accessible to general readers; but scholarship prevails over lay convenience...


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