Review by: Bryce Walker, Bryn Mawr Classical Review - April 1, 2011
A Roman Verse Satire Reader is a recent addition and fine complement to the expanding Bolchazy-Carducci series aimed at advanced undergraduates and intended to work in combination with other texts. Keane is acutely aware of this mission, and this volume will certainly be a welcome component of a variety of Latin literature and culture courses. The persistence of satire from Lucilius to Juvenal and its many points of contact with other genres and rhetorical modes certainly justifies the inclusion of this volume in the series, and Keane is an excellent choice for selecting and editing the specified 500-600 lines from the corpus of Roman Satire. Nevertheless, like the genre itself, this slim volume at times overreaches in its scope and as a result may best function more as an ancillary than as a central resource to an undergraduate language course.
The opening one-page overview contains the obligatory quotation from Quintilian that satire was tota nostra and gives a description of the genre including a brief and compelling discussion of the etymological origins, generic affiliations, programmatic satire, and satirical persona, or as Keane prefers, “personality.” Remarks on the individual satirists and passages chosen for this volume follow, including a brief depiction of the meter and style, as well as useful and varied suggestions for further reading. The Latin text consists of four selections from the fragments of Lucilius, four excerpts from Horace, three from Persius, and six from Juvenal. There are brief and insightful introductions to each of the passages establishing the literary and cultural context. There is also a helpful vocabulary with vowel quantities included at the end of the book.
Keane’s stated goals are “to trace the broad changes in satire from the Republic to the high Imperial period; to show each author’s range of themes and strategies; to draw attention to the ways the authors imitate and modify one another’s work; and occasionally to train the spotlight on a poem that might not otherwise make it onto course syllabi” (xxii). As a consequence the selections move chronologically and there is often an understated thematic coherence between passages. Keane does the reader a commendable service in her commentary by highlighting in bold points of contact with other passages within the volume. Additionally, in plain type she directs the reader to related verses from the satirists that lie outside the scope of her commentary. On her choice of selections Keane is to be applauded on two fronts. First, in such a circumscribed volume she includes 35 lines of Lucilius as well as significant excerpts from the often neglected and difficult Persius. Second, she chooses passages from less popular satires such as Horace Sermones 2.5 and 2.7 as well as Juvenal 13 and 14. The reason for this lies in Keane’s desire to showcase not only the personae the satirists employ ‘most frequently and strikingly,’ but to provide a multiplicity of perspectives and rhetorical modes (xii). This is a worthy goal, but one that she does not fully achieve given the confines of the series. In these limited excerpts it seems difficult enough to establish what can be considered the dominant Horatian or Juvenalian modes of satire let alone develop a nuanced understanding of the author’s various “personalities.”
Indeed, Keane admits that there is much that both students and instructors must bring in order to more fully appreciate the text. In her introduction she recommends that “students using this volume will benefit by familiarizing themselves with some issues in satiric scholarship and discussing the individual selections in these terms” (ix). For this purpose she provides a limited and current bibliography on the genre, but in some ways this focus on generic investigation exists in tension with her desire for the genre to be read as a “window into Roman culture” (ix) and as a response to political, military, and cultural growth. Keane appropriately qualifies this notion of satire as a transparent view of Roman society well enough, but this view may be difficult to overcome. Nevertheless Keane fully intends this book to be used as a comparandum with other sources on Roman culture and not as unbiased evidence of Roman society. How successfully the snippets of Satire can be employed in a discriminating investigation into the reality of ancient Rome without an understanding of the subtleties of the genre is difficult to judge, but it is perhaps too much to ask of this libellus. Still, while the role of this volume is less clearly defined than others in the series, instructors will certainly be glad to have a collection of excerpts that are extremely adaptable to a wide variety of courses.
Keane selects fragments from Lucilius on a range of topics, including his famous description of political and social competition in Rome (frr. 1145-51) and his definition of virtue (frr. 1196-1208). Although in her introduction Keane emphasizes Lucilius’ engagement with contemporary politics (xiii-xiv) there are unfortunately no fragments involving contemporary political figures. This is surely due to the brevity of these fragments, but nevertheless in this respect the description from the introduction does not fully correspond to the selected texts. From Horace’s first book of satires she includes a sampling of the diatribe satires (1.1.41-79) and important programmatic lines from Sermo 1.4, but the absence of Maecenas is noticeable. From his second book a brief passage on legacy hunting from the speech of Tiresias in 2.5 and an extended selection of Davus’ philosophical diatribe from 2.7 give the reader a sense of Horace’s range in these compositions. From Persius we see a similar thematic pattern in the passages: the beginning and end of the programmatic first Satire, two passages from the second satire concerning moral hypocrisy, and the description of Persius’ philosophical underpinning and debt to Cornutus from the fifth Satire. The first three of the Juvenalian passages are well known and indicative of his indignatio: the urban vices that inspire his farrago, a portion of Umbricius’ description of Rome, and a taste of misogyny from the sixth satire. From there Keane offers some selections increasingly less known to contemporary readers but thematically connected with others in the volume: an indictment of contemporary performances, an ironically charged depiction of the golden age, and a lengthy passage on parental hypocrisy from the rarely encountered fourteenth satire.
There are occasional innocuous typos (e.g. the odd single spaced verses on page 3, mire for mirae on page 55), but others, such as the feminine form terriculas being listed only as neuter in the glossary, could be perplexing. The grammatical assistance offered by the notes is quite helpful with such difficult texts, but at times uneven. For example, Keane identifies facimus in Persius 1.10 as a verb in an indirect question, but does not note the poetic use of the indicative, a possible source of confusion for undergraduates expecting to see the subjunctive. Earlier, however, she notes that credunt (Luc. fr. 526) introduces an indirect statement. Moreover, some notes seem compressed to the point of potential confusion. For example, the note on veto . . . oletum (p. 55) seems to try to accomplish too much as it touches on the metaphorical, grammatical, cultural, and etymological in a five line explanation. All of these, however, are minor issues with a commentary that will add welcome depth to the syllabi of numerous courses and spotlight the scope of Roman Satire’s multiple generic and cultural points of contact.
Sweet Briar College
Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.03.76
Review by: Victoria Larson, Montclair State University - April 1, 2011
Roman Verse Satire Reader. By CATHERINE C. KEANE. Mundelein IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 2010. Pp. xxvi and 142. Paper. $19.
Catherine C. Keane's Roman Verse Satire Reader is a slim volume containing short extracts from the satires of Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal, preceded by an introduction and followed by a section of commentary (on mainly grammatical matters) and a glossary. The excerpts provided are as follows: Lucilius, Satires, fragments 172-75,176-81,185,524-29,1145-51, 1196-1208; Horace, Satires, 1.1.41-79, 1.4.103-43, 2.5.23-50, 2.7.21-71, 2.7.111-18; Persius, Satires, 1.1-12, 1.107-34,2.1-16,2.31-51, 5.21-51; Juvenal, Satires, 1.63-93, 1.135-46, 3.190-231, 6.60-102, 8.183-99, 8.215-30, 13.38-70, 14.1-55. This anthology of Roman satire is a welcome and much-needed addition to Bolchazy? Carducci's classroom texts: the fact that Bolchazy-Carducci's other Roman satire anthology (by Dominik and Wehrle [Roman Verse Satire: Lucilius to Juvenal])-admirable in so many ways? contains translations of the excerpts unfortunately detracts from its usability in courses where assessment of translation proficiency is a key element in the evaluation of student performance.
Keane claims to write for "advanced undergraduate Latin students," and certainly the inclusion of a fairly exhaustive vocabulary as well as exhortations at various points in the Reader to view the map for place names (which, strangely enough, are not, in fact, marked on the map, which shows only regions) is in keeping with such an audience. In this context, the book's introduction, which reflects current critical theory on Roman satire, would seem to be refreshingly uncondescending. Yet the frequent references to "students" in the third person and the inclusion of advice to instructors on how to use this text gives the sense that Keane is frequently talking past her ostensible audience. Furthermore, if undergraduates truly are this book's targeted readers, then, at the minimum, the concepts of literary genres, literary models, and authorial personae-all mentioned in the introduction-need to be explained, and some background on the ancient system of rhetorical training and its impact on literature is likewise called for.
In the end, though, the main shortcomings of A Roman Verse Satire Reader may be endemic to the "Latin Readers" series to which this belongs, rather than the fault of this volume in particular.
Presumably, what the publisher describes as the "relatively small size (covering 500-600 lines)" of the Latin Readers was dictated by the interests of economy, but their brevity is their weakness. It will be clear from the list above that the excerpts this Reader contains are too small to allow the book to stand as the primary textbook in a course devoted solely to satire. The excerpts are too short to provide sufficient reading material in and of themselves for the length of a typical semester, nor are they (or the author's introduction and commentary) long enough to perform the stated purpose of illustrating "for students the thematic coherence and development of the satiric genre, while acquainting them with the individual poets' distinct styles and themes"-not, at least, without a considerable amount of additional substantiation on the part of the instructor. The most obvious use for Keane's Reader would be in a Latin literature survey course taught in Latin which aimed to give students a little taste of multiple different genres belonging to an extended period of time. For a course focused on Roman satire alone, however, Paul Allen Miller's Latin Verse Satire: An Anthology and Reader (Routledge, 2005) will continue, for now, to be the best choice.
Review by: Sharon Kazmierski, The Classical Outlook - June 1, 2009
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Bolchazy-Carducci has recently commenced launching the first titles in its Latin Reader series, a new collection of innovative high intermediate and advanced Latin readers, specifically designed for college-level study. Under the expert guidance of series editor Ronnie Ancona, Professor of Classics at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, these small, duodecimo-sized paperbacks are intended to introduce authors and genres to students in upper division undergraduate courses. Written by recognized experts, each book will include approximately 500-600 lines of authentic Latin text, accompanied by a thorough introduction, bibliography of suggested reading, annotated commentary, and full vocabulary. There are currently two volumes available, A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil war (ISBN 978-0865166615) by Susanna Braund and A Terence Reader: Selections from Six Plays (978-0865166783) by William S. Anderson. According to the Bolchazy website, seventeen additional volumes are currently scheduled to be issued. Upcoming authors include Plautus, Sallust, Cicero, Sueconius, Tacitus, Vergil, Caesar, Martial, Apuleius, and Livy. Topics co be covered include Roman Women, Roman Verse Satire, Latin Epic, and Roman Army. Additional authors and themes are under consideration.
The inaugural volume, A Lucan Reader, is an introduction to the Silver Age epic poem (often referred to as Pharsalia) retelling the events of the Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Rarely studied by third and fourth-year college Latin students, this reader provides the opportunity for advanced undergraduates to sample some difficult but fascinating Latin. Following a detailed and compelling introduction, Braund has selected high interest passages: the causes of the Civil war, Caesar at the Rubicon, the abandonment of Rome, the necromancy of Erichtho, Pompey's visitation by Julia's ghost, and Caesar in Troy. I have never read Lucan, bur now find myself intrigued.
The second volume, A Terence Reader, released just this summer, is an introduction to Roman Comedy. Following a consistent format, Anderson's introduction provides essential background for students and a brief history of Roman Comedy. He then proceeds to explain what made Terence's plays unique, original and thought-provoking. Selections in this volume include excerpts from Andria, Heauton, Phormia, Hecyra, Eunuchus, and Adelphoe, followed by commentary to put the passages in context and provide grammatical assistance. There is also a helpful appendix, with information regarding comic meters. Fans of comedy will be happy to know that the next volume in the series, to be released later this year, will be A Plautus Reader: Selections from Eleven Plays (ISBN 978- 0-86516-694-2) by John Henderson.
Given the size of these short readers, teachers and professors should find them useful when customizing a course. Professor Ancona notes that they are ideal for use in combination. I observe that they are inexpensive ($19.95) compared to many college textbooks. Instructors can feel free to mix and match authors and themes to suit their curriculum without causing too much damage to their students' bank accounts. Motivated readers of Latin can sample new authors and themes with expert guidance. Secondary school teachers may even wish to challenge their skilled Advanced Placement students after completing the exam, using some of these selections as a follow-up to the anticipated Caesar/Vergil syllabus.
To discover more about this intriguing new collection, visit the BC Latin Readers website at http://www.bolchazy. com/readers/ where you can find out more about what will be included in each volume as well as read a short biography of each series author. To see Bolchazy's complete catalog, visit the main website at http://www.bolchazy.com. Questions may be directed to their customer service at email@example.com. You may also write their headquarters at Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, Tel, (800) 392- 6453, Fax: (847) 526-2867.
The Clearing House, Classical Outlook Fall 2009