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  • Solon: Das Gesetzeswerk—Fragmente: Übersetzung und Kommentar
  • Michael Gagarin
Eberhard Ruschenbusch. Solon: Das Gesetzeswerk—Fragmente: Übersetzung und Kommentar. Historia Einzelschriften, 215. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2010. Pp. 168. €46.00. ISBN 978-3-515-09709-3.

In 1966 Eberhard Ruschenbusch published a short volume (Σόλωνος Νόμοι) containing the testimonia and fragments of the laws of Solon, together with almost sixty pages of introductory material. The volume was favorably received, particularly for its rejection of the skepticism voiced by Hignett and others about the survival of Solon’s axones past the sixth century b.c.e. Since its publication, most historians have used the work as the basis for the study of Solon’s legislation and early Athenian law.

Ruschenbusch always planned to add a translation and commentary to the edition of fragments, but teaching and other research projects intervened, and he made little progress until several years after his retirement in 1993. At his death in 2007, he left behind an unfinished (handwritten!) manuscript, which a Frankfurt colleague, Klaus Bringmann, undertook to see through to publication. We may thank Bringmann not only for undertaking the publication and making many small, user-friendly changes to the manuscript, but also for deciding to include the Greek and Latin texts from the 1966 volume along with the translations and commentaries. These texts include the much improved version of Draco’s law (F5a), published by Stroud in 1968 (IG I3 104), in place of the 1966 text (IG I2 115). Regrettably, however, the simple typographical variations in the 1966 texts, which allowed one to distinguish immediately Solon’s ipsissima verba from surrounding material, have not been reproduced; nonetheless, the inclusion of texts means that readers do not need the earlier volume in order to use this one, though one still has to go to that volume for the important introduction, the testimonia, and the fragments judged spurious. [End Page 132]

The present work is a very mixed bag. The fragments accepted as genuine (1–93) are listed in order, followed by an apparatus criticus (if there was one) taken from the 1966 volume; occasionally Ruschenbusch suggests an emendation or adds a note on authenticity, which can say as little as “gloss from the axones” or can be a short paragraph. Almost all fragments are followed by a translation, and most are then given a commentary, either immediately or at the end of a group of related fragments. These vary from a few sentences to several pages. The longest discusses the whole group of homicide laws, and when taken together with comments on individual homicide laws amounts to about seventeen pages, giving this area of the law by far the most substantial commentary. The volume ends with three pages of bibliography and indexes of Greek words and of sources cited.

Regrettably, for those of us who have engaged with Ruschenbusch’s work in the past, there is little new here. His books and articles up through the mid-seventies made important contributions to the study of Athenian law, but in the last several decades his work became increasingly idiosyncratic and isolated from most other scholarship. This is reflected in references to other scholarship: although about half the items in the bibliography postdate 1970, the large majority of references in the text are to earlier work; most often cited are the handbooks of Lipsius and Harrison, and Ruschenbusch’s own earlier work (generally cited from his Kleine Schriften of 2005, which is of no help to readers who do not have this difficult-to-obtain work). Rarely does Ruschenbusch engage substantively with the arguments of others, preferring to ignore opposing views or dismiss them in that brusque manner with which some of us are all too familiar: e.g., “wrong, without proper consideration of Ruschenbusch 2005”; “unusable . . . completely incompetent in Athenian law.” The most substantial critique of another scholar’s views is of my 1981 book on Draco’s homicide law, and here, as elsewhere, he does little more than repeat points made at the time, with no reference to the continuing discussion of these issues in the last three decades.

In sum, the translations of fragments will be useful for German speakers, and...


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