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  • Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda: Annotated Critical Edition Based upon a Systematic Investigation of Greek, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew Sources by Stefan Alexandru
  • Pantelis Golitsis
Stefan Alexandru. Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda: Annotated Critical Edition Based upon a Systematic Investigation of Greek, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew Sources. Philosophia Antiqua, 135. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Pp. x + 295. $131.00.

This is the second edition of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda within two years, following Silvia Fazzo’s Il libro Lambda della Metafisica di Aristotele (Naples, 2012). Unlike Fazzo, Alexandru does not accompany the Greek text with a translation, but he should be thanked for providing a most valuable and exhaustive critical apparatus, which makes almost unnecessary any further work on the available sources. Alexandru has examined with great accuracy all forty-three Greek manuscripts that transmit Lambda and has fully collated the thirteen manuscripts that are independent according to the stemma codicum established by Dieter Harlfinger; he adds to them a hitherto unknown manuscript of the β-family, namely the Vaticanus gr. 115, which was previously considered to contain only the first six books of the Metaphysics. Alexandru has also carefully explored the available Arabic (by Ustāth, Mattā ibn Yûnus, and Yahya ibn ‘Adī) and the most important Latin translations (the “translatio media” and those by William of Moerbeke and Bessarion), the Hebrew translation of Averroes’s commentary, as well as the Aldine edition and the editions of Erasmus and Casaubon. The Greek commentators are also taken into account, although not as exhaustively as possible. For instance, Michael of Ephesus’s and George Pachymeres’s readings in 1075a20 and 1075b14 (ὅ τι ἔτυχε and πάντα instead of ὁτιοῦν and πάντες) are not recorded in the apparatus, although their reading is stematically intriguing, since it exceptionally disagrees with the manuscripts M (Ambrosianus F 113 sup.) and C (Taurinensis B.VII.23). Similarly, Alexandru does not fully explore the collations added by a scholiast (EΣ) onto E (Parisinus gr. 1853), which allow us to better reconstruct the descent of β (one of the two archetypes of the manuscript tradition of the Metaphysics). Thus, despite the fact that he recognizes, unlike Fazzo, that M and C are heavily “contaminated” β-manuscripts, he fails to notice, for instance, that the variant reading recorded by EΣ in 1074a20 (τέλος instead of τέλους), confirmed by Michael’s commentary, is in all probability a genuine β-reading, which corresponds to the authentic reading of the Metaphysics. Against Fazzo’s claim that M, unlike Αb (Laurentianus 87,12), is a genuine β-manuscript, Alexandru advances among other textual considerations the interesting argument that M, unlike Αb, does not exhibit a reclamans (ancient catchwords) at the end of book Iota, although reclamantes pertained to the archetype β as a relic from a papyri edition of late antiquity.

With regard to the constitutio textus, Alexandru is rather conservative, following in most cases the choices of previous editors, who have generally privileged Ab. Unlike Fazzo, Alexandru does not draw the consequences from a pertinent observation made by Michael Frede and Günther Patzig, recently confirmed by Oliver Primavesi, that β (a copy of which is Ab) transmits a text that has been revised with the intention of smoothing out difficulties of style or subject matter. I have counted about fifty-five divergences between Alexandru’s and Fazzo’s editions and I think that, in the majority of them, Fazzo, who has generally privileged the manuscripts of the α-family and in particular E, is right. Nonetheless, unlike Fazzo, Alexandru adopts correctly the reading of E in 1072b8 (ἐνέργεια instead of ἐνεργείᾳ, transmitted by Ab and M, and adopted by Ross and Jaeger), although this whole passage needs to be reconsidered. Alexandru, combining Bonitz’s edition with Ross’s, prints [End Page 497] 1072b5–6 as ὥστ᾽ εἰ φορὰ πρώτη ἡ ἐνέργειά ἐστιν, ᾗ κινεῖται ταύτῃ γε ἐνδέχεται ἄλλως ἔχειν . . . , whereas β (i.e. EΣ and Ab) delivers an almost perfectly coherent text: ὥστ᾽ εἰ ἡ φορὰ πρώτη καὶ ἐνέργειά ἐστιν ᾗ κινεῖται, ταύτῃ δε ἐνδέχεται ἄλλως ἔχειν, κατὰ τόπον, καὶ εἰ μὴ κατ᾽ οὐσίαν. We need only to correct with Jaeger ἐνέργεια to ἐνεργείᾳ to understand that if the motion of the heavens—which is the first to be moved by the first mover and (καὶ) is actual (ἐνεργείᾳ) insofar as it is moved by the first mover—is to be changing its state perpetually, then the heavens must move locally (and not substantially) in a circle and, for this to be true, there must be...


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