Monday, August 24, 2009

One Book

It's an old Teubner edition of Luciliusand Accius.C. Lucili saturarum reliquiae. Emendavit et adnotavit L. Mueller. Accedunt Acci et suei carminum reliquiae. Lipsaiae in aedibus B.G. teubneri. a. MDCCCLXXII, it sez on the title page. The remains of the satires of Lucilius, edited and notated by L.Mueller, to which are added the remains of Accius' poems, from the house of B.G. Tuebner in Leipzig in 1872. And on the next leaf is the dedication: Concilio professorum imperatorii Instituti Histororici Philologici hanc Lucili saturarum recensionem D.D.D. Lucianus Mueller. Lucian Mueller dedicates this edition of Lucilius' satires to the council of professors of the Imperial Institute of History and Philology. I'm not entirely sure exactly which Imperial Institute of History and Philology is meant; I would've assumed it was a German institute, very freshly imperial in the brand-new German Empire established in 1871, but the only institute of that name of which I can find mention was a Russian one, in St. Petersburg. You can see a copy much like mine at Google Books.

I got my copy for $11.50 +tax at a used-book store. I have no reason to suspect that this was a steal of the kind one occasionally finds at thrift stores, yard sales and some used-book stores: the owner of this store seems to check very conscientiously before pricing his books, so that they're not going for much less or more than the general going rate. But it feels like I ripped the good man off, like I really got away with one, spending so little for a book in Latin so old and in such good condition. Maybe the general book market doesn't consider the book to be in good condition. The cover is coming loose from the spine. But that doesn't bother me so much. I handle my books very gently, and so the cover is not going to come the rest of the way off. The pages are all unmarked, the paper is of good quality from before the age of acidic paper.

Maybe I'm just much more fond of solidly-made volumes from the late 19th century than the general book market is, and so assume a unrealistically high market value for them. I am passionately interested in books, but utterly disinterested in book collecting, speculating in first editions and autograph copies and all of those things which make all the difference to the general market.

In every scholarly article on Lucilius which I have found, and I've found quite a few, the two-volume edition by F. Marx published in 1904-5 is praised as the best, and this 1872 volume by Lucian Mueller is not. mentioned. at. all. Maybe that's why it doesn't fetch much on the market. Good luck for me, then: the differences between editions which make so very much difference to many scholars make very little difference to me.

Lucilius is generally credited with having originated the genre of satire. The oldest known literary genres in Latin, by writers a little older than Lucilius but young enough that he could have known them when they were old and he was young, were tragody, comedy and epic poetry, very closely copied from Greek models, or were nothing more or less than translations of Greek works, such as Livius Andronicus'translation of Homer's Odyssey. Against this background, Lucilius' achievement in writing in a distinctly Roman way is all the more impressive. Not that he was ignorant of Greek or felt that there was too much Greek influence in Roman culture, as did his contemporary Cato the Elder, one of the most highly-praised men of his time for reasons which entirely escape me and H.G. Wellsor the author Juvenal, who followed Lucilius in the genre of satire but not in Lucilus' broadminded tolerant sophistication. Juvenal thought he was being very witty when he bitterly referred to "Rome, that Greek city;" Lucilius was very familiar with Greek literary genres even though he didn't copy them as his Roman contemporaries did -- at least, as all of his literary contemporaries of whom we know did. As thoroughly natively Roman as they were, Lucilius included some Greek passages in his satires. He wrote about the people around him and the political and commercial and military business of the day. A lot of the people around him spoke and wrote a lot of Greek, either because they were Greeks or because they were upper-class Romans who typically got some education in Greece, and who were, as is obvious by the nature of most of the Roman literature of the time, and by Roman mythology which borrowed so much from Greek mythology, in love with many things Greek. Lucilius was fine with all of that, he was no hater like Cato or Juvenal.

Only a fraction, about 1300 lines, of Lucilius' 30 books of satires have survived. There are about 40 pages of preface in Mueller's 1872 edition, then remains of the 30 books over 132 pages -- but on many of these pages footnotes occupy more space than the main text -- then 26 pages of uncertain material: maybe Lucilius, maybe not -- then about two pages which Mueller calls doubtful, two pages he calls very doubtful, a little over 7 pages he classes as falsely attributed to Lucilius, then 20 pages of material by ancient authors about him. Then over 100 pages of commentary. Then the few pages devoted to Accius which seem to me like such a tacked-on afterthought in this volume. Then again, Accius was a near-contemporary of Lucilius. And perhaps, if these pages by and on Accius were going to appear in book form at all, and not just in some periodical devoted to Classical studies, putting them here made as much sense as anything. But maybe there's more to it, a connection between the witty satirist Lucilius and the somber tragodian Accius which further study may make more plain to me. (I really doubt it.) Altogether there are a little over 400 pages in this small quattro, which measures about 8 inches by 5 and a half inches by an inch.

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