- Ovidio: Metamorfosi. Volume VI (Libri XIII–XV) ed. by P. Hardie
The volume under review, which completes this distinguished series, fully measures up to its predecessors. The basic format—text, facing-page Italian [End Page 280] translation, extensive notes— continues, yet this volume, unlike the others (except the third), includes no general introduction: an opportunity lost. Being the last, moreover, it contains an index to the entire series. Hardie’s text differs from Tarrant’s 2004 Oxford Classical Text in fifty-four places, nearly all discussed in the commentary. Taking book 13 as a sample, I find that a few differences are trivial (for example, pinnigero for pennigero in 963), a number are significant yet hard to decide (dolorque for timorque in 282), at least one is undesirable (deduxit for diduxit in 264: what kind of garment is Ulysses wearing that could be pulled down?), whereas others are clear improvements: 295 retained in the text (accusing Ajax of being a Philistine in art appreciation is a very Ovidian touch; and see 290–91), placatum for pacatum in 440 (Luck’s conjecture, published after the OCT), in 444 infesto for iniusto, 560 expelled from the text (a reversal of the usual role played by Tarrant’s successors!), involat for invocat in 561 (Chiarini translates invocat, however), and in 921 debitus for deditus.
For books 13 and 14, Hardie’s commentary competes with those of N. Hopkinson (2000) and K. S. Myers (2009), respectively, both in the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics series. Within the decade that separates those two, the format of the series expanded: the page grew larger, so too the space available for interpretive comments, and the excellence of the latter has become a hallmark of the series. Now, we all recognize both that much material in commentaries is tralatician and that no commentary can aspire to say everything that might usefully be said. Still, one can note the tendencies of each. Hardie collects a larger number of relevant passages from ancient literature than Hopkinson or Myers. He also quotes more, Greek regularly in translation, Latin almost always accompanied by translation. Whereas Hopkinson remarks (on 13.935) “Ovidian narrators often draw attention to the improbable nature of what they are relating” without citation, Hardie, following Bömer, quotes six more instances to prove the point. He rarely presents relevant items from the history of the Latin language: contrast Hopkinson’s explanation of how iuratus (13.50) came to have an active meaning.
Hardie, although he has more space at his disposal, passes over many comments of his predecessors that are valuable: Hopkinson’s remarking, for instance, that, until Ajax speaks, it is not clear whether he will resort to words or deeds (on 13.1–5), or Myers’s noting (on 14.32) that in the poem “confidence in one’s own physical beauty invariably results in disaster for mortals,” or that Ovid may be “correcting” Vergil’s account at 14.205. In particular, Hardie is not so bold as Myers in his interpretive moves. He chooses not to report some of her shrewdest comments, especially those that reflect Ovid’s high literary self-consciousness. Myers notes, for instance, that with improvisoque repertum (14.161) the poet underlines an intertextual joke, and that through an internal narrator he comments on his own narrative strategy (ad 14.473), and that in tumidarum . . . aquarum (14.4), where tumidus is “a negative term in literary criticism for the inflated or grand style,” he is making “a programmatic reference . . . to the lofty style of epic poetry.”
Nonetheless, one finds in Hardie’s commentary a cornucopia of observations that are both original and valuable. On 14.264–65 he points out that spinning and weaving are frequently figures for poetic creation, and that Ovid, by specifying that Circe and her maids were not engaged in those activities, but rather in preparing magical herbs...