Some interesting News about Fragments

A few days ago I came across the last volume of Ancient Society where three interesting contributions about fragments can be found.

  • Schorn S., Collecting Fragments in the 21th Century: A LECTIO Series of Round Table Discussions, AncSoc 43, 2013, 267
  • Berti M., Collecting Quotations by Topic: Degrees of Preservation and Transtextual Relations among Genres, AncSoc 43, 2013, 269-288
  • Lenfant D., The Study of Intermediate Authors and its Role in the Interpretation of Historical Fragments, AncSoc 43, 2013, 289-305

As we learn from Schorn’s text, the publications are the result of a first round table about fragments in the context of the LECTIO research centre from the KU Leuven. The main focus of this research group is a new reflection on critical editions of ancient texts, but the issues dealt with when editing or collecting fragments are also included in the research field.

Monica Berti describes a range of different sorts of fragments which are characterised by their degrees of preservation. She suggests six kinds of quotations:

    gossip quotations, authoritative quotations, quotations as demonstrations, unnamed quotations vs. named quotations, memorable sayings and statements and quotations inside quotations.

One of the interesting aspects of this list is the fact that the quotations are defined by the functions they have for the quoting authors and occur at special places in the narrations or argumentations of the quoting author. This is indeed often neglected when dealing with fragments, as they are often classified by their more or less close renderings of the original text. Both approaches seems extremely interesting and should perhaps be combined in the future.

Dominique Lenfant focuses on the quoting author she calls an “intermediate author” and highlights the selection and adaptation he makes in the process of reuse. She gives then two examples of how the study of the methods and aims of an intermediate author may influence the interpretation of the fragments and could aid to analyse the preserved pieces. She did indeed carefully analyse the quotations from Herodotus in Athenaeus and can conclude that Athenaeus’s choice is not representative of Herodotus’s work and that paraphrases are more common in Athenaeus’s text than verbatim quotations. Also when focusing on the vocabulary used in some of the fragments of Ctesias’s Persica Lenfant can draw interesting conclusions about how much the intermediate author may have introduced his own wordings or thoughts in the quoted text. She concludes her article by suggesting that a large place should be given to the intermediate author in future editions of fragments.

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