The Research ProjectII. Works planned for publication

We shall take into consideration a triad of works chosen on account of both their philosophical content and their current editorial situation. From a philosophical point of view, it is a group representative of the history of Epicureanism throughout the Hellenistic time from Epicurus (341-271 BC) to Philodemus (110-post 40 BC) and includes an important text by Chrysippus (ca. 280-ca. 206 BC), the re-founder, as it were, of the Stoic school in the latter half of III century BC. In this way, the written production of both most prominent figures of Epicureanism and Stoicism constitute the core of the project. From a thematic point of view, it embraces works of physical, epistemological, ethical and rhetorical character. These works (or parts of them), which are completely lost in the manuscript tradition, are either totally inedited or were edited only partially in the golden period of German Herculanean scholarship. For the afore-said reasons (see ch. I) these editions are to be considered largely unreliable. They are listed up in what follows with a schematic description of their current editorial situation:

a.    Epicurus, On Nature, Fragments from Uncertain Books (PHerc. 454, 908/1390, 989, 1199, 1385, 1639): portions totally inedited. The text contained in PHerc. 1390 has been engraved in Herculanensium voluminum quae supersunt, Collectio altera, vol. 10 (Neapoli 1875).

b.    Chrysippus, Unknown Work (PHerc. 1020): only a small part was edited by Hans von Arnim in «Hermes» 25 (1890),  473-495; col. 1n re-edited by M. Capasso, Il saggio infallibile (PHerc. 1020, col. I), in La regione sotterrata dal Vesuvio. Studi e prospettive. Atti del Convegno Internazionale, 11-15 novembre 1979, Napoli 1982, 455-470.

c.    Philodemus, On Rhetoric, Uncertain Book (PHerc. 1004): partially edited by Sigfried Sudhaus in Philodemi volumina rhetorica, vol 1, Lipsiae 1892, and Supplementum, ibid. 1895; several passages re-edited by M.G. Cappelluzzo, Per una nuova edizione di un libro della Retorica filodemea (PHerc. 1004), «CErc» 6 (1976), 69-76.

Work a is the main philosophical work by Epicurus, the thirty-seven-books wide treatise On Nature. So far various books or parts of them (II, XI, XIV-XV, XXV, XXVIII, XXXIV) have been reconstructed and published by David N. Sedley, Giuliana Leone, Simon Laursen and Graziano Arrighetti. However, still much remains to be done. Many portions of the treatise are still to be edited and most of them have not even been read. It will probably last many years before a comprehensive edition of the whole of it will be attempted. Work b is a precious work by Chrysippus whose largest part has never been published nor transcribed. Similarly, work c is an unidentified book of Philodemus’ On Rhetoric whereof ca. fifty columns have never been transcribed. In many of these we can still read portions relatively continual of text which may well reserve future surprises. Especially in the cases of a and b we have to do with exceptional witnesses. Simply editing and translating them will most probably change our understanding of earlier Epicurean and Stoic philosophy offering solutions to theoretical puzzles and giving us the big picture in which many philosophical doctrines are to be collocated. In Epicurus’ De natura, a sort of summa of Epicurean philosophy ranging from physics and cosmology to canonic and from psychology to ethics, we can still hear from the very mouth of the Founder his attacks to philosophical opponents and his repositioning in front of their criticism. Reading and interpreting the remaining unpublished fragments of it could make it possible to discern better the overall arrangement of this large work and to recover the original argumentation which underlies some unrelated teachings of Epicurus’ philosophy transmitted through the indirect tradition. In this way, we shall also be able to understand more organically the relationship between De natura and works like the three Letters preserved in Diogenes Laertius, the Ratae sententiae, and the sayings included in the Gnomologium Vaticanum. In Chrysippus’ treatise handed down in PHerc. 1020 we learn about the wise’s freedom from precipitancy and uncarelessness and his infallible control over assent which he cannot give to impressions of whose cognitive status he is uncertain. Since this is a requisite for the art of questioning and answering (διαλέγεσθαι) the edited part of this work can also be read as an essay on the dialectical virtues of the sage. The vivid polemic with the rival philosophy par excellence is the subject of work c. This contains Philodemus’ paraphrase and rebuke of the antirhetorical positions of Diogenes of Babylon and of a mysterious Aristo, who has formerly been identified with the Peripatetic Aristo Junior, disciple of Critolaus, and, more recently, with the heterodox Stoic philosopher Aristo of Chios. The problem is that the textual reconstruction made more than a century ago by Sigfried Sudhaus cannot be considered in any way a secure basis for interpretation. The collation between our transcriptions of some columns of the original papyrus (PHerc. 1004) and the critical text established by this scholar has already revealed several substantial divergences. In any case, the polemical target of the whole section between fr. 12 and col. 71 Sudhaus seems to be a group of Stoic philosophers. Editing this book will permit to gain the longest existing testimony about Diogenes of Babylon (Chrysippus’ disciple and Stoic scholarch in the former half of the II century BC) together with that handed down in the IV book of Philodemus’ On Music recently published by Daniel Delattre. Only including the new critical text of these two exceptionally important witnesses future scholars will be able to make a new collections of his fragments (the last one was included in H. von Arnim’s Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, III, Lipsiae 1903-1905, 210-243) and the first long-awaited comprehensive monograph on his philosophy. Besides, it will be possible to understand better why Philodemus so often paraphrases and criticises or even appropriates Stoic sources in many of his works. An important part of the introduction to the edition of each work (a, b, c) will be destined to an organic exposition of the relevant philosophical questions. Moreover, an analytical commentary to the critical text will discuss single papyrological, literary and philosophical problems.

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