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HUMANITIES 419 made of the point that the whole poem is informed by a narrative structure. As Holzberg has shown, this picks up and develops the story-line (Liebesroman ) of the A mores. The radical transformation of 'the elegiac code' which Dalzell identifies has its connterpart in a structural metamorphosis. In sum: no surprises or fireworks, but a judicious and informative appraisal grounded on careful scholarship and long reflection. (E.J. KENNEY) Catullus. Edited with a Textual and Interpretative Commentary by D.F.S. Thomson University of Toronto Press xii, 576. $95.00 Catullus occupies a central position in the study of Roman literature. Few Latin poets are as immediately attractive to modern readers, and still fewer exhibit a wider range of styles, moving memorably from personal poetry to the mini-epic, the epyllion, cultivated by Greek poets of the Alexandrian period. In this light, it is a pointed irony that Catullus's survival into the modem world was almost an accident. In sharp contrast to poets such as Virgil and Statius, Catullus was all but unknown in the Middle Ages; a single manuscript containing 113 poems came to light in Verona around 1300. This manuscript (now conventionally called V by editors) has been lost, but 'descendants'- the earliest copied before the end of the fourteenth century - survive, both allowing scholars to recover the text of V and constituting the basis of modem editions of the poet. Reconstructing V, however, is a rather different enterprise from recovering the text of Catullus, for it is clear that V's text was itself already seriously corrupt. The modern editor must bring to bear on the paradosis, what our medieval manuscripts transmit, a comprehensive knowledge of Latin and Roman literature in general, as well as a shrewd literary sensibility. It is this challenge with which D.F.S. Thomson has been engaged for many years - first in articles that appeared in the early 1970s, then in Catullus: A Critical Edition published in 1978, and most recently in the present volume, a revision of the Critical Edition accompanied by a learned commentary. The new introduction presents a refined view of the transmission of the text, taking account of reviews of the earlier edition as well as subsequent scholarship. To the acconnt of the textualhistory is now added a more comprehensive discussion of the poet's life and work that offers a concise overview of such thorny matters as Catullus's relation to the 'new poets' and Alexandrianism at Rome. A good deal of attention is paid to the vexed question of the arrangement of the poems; Thomson discusses at length the view championed most recently by T. P. Wiseman that our collection reflects an edition in three rolls. I would have preferred, however, some discussion of Wendell Clausen's attractive argument that the libellus published by Catullus himself comprised poems 1-50, to which was added the remainder of the surviving collection after the poet's death. 420 LEITERS IN CANADA 1997 The commentary occupies the bulk of the book, and it constitutes an·eagerly awaited complement to the critical text. The modem student of Catullus has relied principally on the very different commentaries by Kroll, Fordyce, and Quinn. Thomson has not simply taken over material collected by earlier commentators, but rather, for the most part, has preferred to build on their work. This practice has undoubtedly prevented an already big book from becoming even bigger, but there are times when one regrets the omission of some illustrative material. In general, however, Thomson is a most reliable and sympathetic guide to the poet. In addition to issues of text, he is especially concerned with matters of language and structure. It would be an easy task to compile a long list of points of interest, but one example must suffice here, the closing lines of poem J, which was written on the death of the pet sparrow of the poet's mistress (lines 13-18): at uobis male sit, malae tenebrae Orci, quae omnia bella deuorastis: tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis · (o factum male! o miselle passer!); uestra nunc opera meae puellae flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli. In these lines Thomson departs from his earlier edition...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 419-420
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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