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Timée de Tauroménion: Fragments. Traduits et commentés par Guy Lachenaud, Paris: Les Belles Lettres 2017, LXVIII + 260 S., ISBN 978-2-251-44744-5, EUR 45,00
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Rezension von:
Craige B. Champion
Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
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Matthias Haake
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Craige B. Champion: Rezension von: Timée de Tauroménion: Fragments. Traduits et commentés par Guy Lachenaud, Paris: Les Belles Lettres 2017, in: sehepunkte 18 (2018), Nr. 9 [15.09.2018], URL:

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Timée de Tauroménion: Fragments

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Timaeus (ca. 356-260 BCE), son of Andromachus, of Sicilian Tauromenion (modern Taormina), was an important Greek historian of the western Mediterranean before Polybius. Born into a political family of wealth and privilege, his father reestablished Tauromenion in 358 and was a supporter of Timoleon, the Corinthian adventurer and dynast at Syracuse. At some point, Timaeus suffered exile from his native land. As stated in the thirty-fourth book of his Histories, he spent some fifty years in Athens, writing historical works. His continuous history comprised thirty-eight books (F35a, cf. T6a with my BNJ Commentary, T8), and he wrote a separate monograph on King Pyrrhus of Epirus (T9a-b, 19, F36). He may have lived on to the age of ninety-six.

As is the case with most ancient Greek historians, Timaeus' writings do not survive intact. Scholars derive knowledge of his historical works from so-called fragments: citations, quotations, paraphrases, and testimonials of extant authors. Timaeus' fate - along with that of 855 other ancient Greek historical writers - is not to have complete works represented in an Oxford Classical Text or Teubner edition, but rather to be a phantom author, dimly reflected in ancient writings that do survive. Accidents of survival in textual transmission consign him to Felix Jacoby's monumental compilation, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. In recent years, scholars have gained a greater appreciation of the limitations imposed by these conditions.

In a famous article ("Athens in the Third Century BC and the Discovery of Rome in the Histories of Timaeus of Tauromenium"), Arnaldo Momigliano evaluated Timaeus' place in the Greek historiographical tradition highly, suggesting that Timaeus was the first to recognize the historical importance of Rome. Momigliano unavoidably based his evaluation on Timaeus' fragments and testimonia, and above all on Polybius, who devoted most of an entire book (12) to excoriating the Sicilian Greek historian. Despite his unrelenting castigations, Polybius clearly did acknowledge the significance of Timaeus' History. After all, he adopted Timaeus' chronological scheme of Olympiad dating and began his work at the point where Timaeus ended his account (the aftermath of the Pyrrhic War). We can guess at Polybius' motivation for writing Book 12: he viewed Timaeus as his most serious rival as historian of the western Mediterranean, he chafed at his predecessor's achievement, and he wished to supplant him. These would be reasonable assumptions, but they are assumptions nonetheless. Whatever Polybius' motivations might have been, his treatment shapes and colors our understanding and assessment of Timaeus' fragmentary history; we are hostages to Polybius.

The question of Rome in Timaeus' historical understanding, pace Momigliano, is intractable. Although there are several Timaean fragments mentioning Rome (for Rome's foundation, see F-60; cf. T-9b; F-59, 61, 86, with Christopher Baron, Timaeus of Tauromenium and Hellenistic Historiography, CUP, 2013: 43-57, and the edition under review, xxxviii-xli), it is uncertain as to what they might reveal about Timaeus' ideas about Rome. Fragments have little or no context, and as we have seen, later authors shape our reading of fragmentary ones through their own idiosyncratic interests and selections. Guido Schepens usefully called this kind of source a "cover text," and he elucidated the dangers and pitfalls of employing "cover texts" in order to recover lost works ("Jacoby's FGrHist: Problems, methods, prospects," in Glenn W. Most, ed., Collecting Fragments / Fragmente sammeln, Göttingen, 1997, 144-72). Moreover, in the case of Polybius - by far the most important "cover text" for Timaeus - further problems arise. As Frank W. Walbank pointed out ("The Two-Way Shadow: Polybius Among the Fragments," in Guido Schepens and Jan Bollansée, eds., The Shadow of Polybius: Intertextuality as a Research Tool in Greek Historiography, with my review in sehepunkte 6 (2006), nr. 7/8), Polybius' text is itself in a fragmentary condition. It reflects its excerptors' choices and predilections. Somewhat paradoxically, then, Polybius' history is a "cover text" for itself. The take-away from all of this is that Momigliano's confident assertion about Timaeus' historiographical positioning of Rome urges caution.

With these caveats in mind, we can move on to consider Guy Lachenaud's new bilingual edition, with commentary, Timée de Tauroménion: Fragments. An excellent and thorough Introduction discusses the evidence for Timaeus' life and career; winnows out certitudes from hypotheses regarding the structure of Timaeus' history; examines distortions arising from Jacoby's organization of the text (xix: "Mais cette perspective n'est pas vraiment compatible avec le souci de proposer un classement par sous-genres qui manqué de souplesse, disloque les énoncés et ne permet pas d'apprécier la complexité du discours de certains auteurs comme Timée"; cf. xxii on cover-texts); surveys Timaeus' predecessors and contemporaries, his historical treatment of Sicily and Magna Graecia, relations with Greece and Macedonia, and the emergence of Roman power; and considers the elements for a critical history of the reception of Timaeus' work.

The testimonia are collected in Chapter One: "La vie de Timée et son oeuvre" (2-23); the fragments are presented in two chapters: Chapter Two: "Les fragments qui comportent la mention des livres" (24-69), and Chapter Three: "Les fragments qui ne comportent pas la mention des livres" (70-155). The preceding concordance with Jacoby's edition reflects the economy of the presentation: rather than reprinting texts in both the testimonia and fragments-proper sections, Lachenaud refers the reader to fragments containing testimonia. For example, for T2 the concordance gives "cf. F124d". There the testimonium, Diod. fr. 21.17.1 Walton = fr. 21.30.1 Goukowsky is found in its broader context.

The commentary follows the Greek and French translations of testimonia and fragments. Several errors in my own edition of Timaeus in Brill's New Jacoby are noted. For example, BNJ has the miscue of "games" rather than "school" for agogē in F137 (Clem. Alex. Strom. 1.64.2; cf. Baron, Timaeus, 112n.106). In F156 (Polyb. 12.8.3-4; Lachenaud includes more of Polybius' text in this fragment than I do), Lachenaud's "tente" is preferable to my "stage" (cf. Baron, Timaeus, 116n.12). Finally, I have been persuaded by Baron's philological analysis (Timaeus, 264-65) that in F136 (Marcell. Vit. Thuc. 33), we should translate, "That he [Thucydides] and others were buried in Italy, as Timaeus says, is, I suspect, quite absurd" (as opposed to my rendering, "The fact that Timaeus says Thucydides and other men lie buried in Italy is by no means absurd"). Lachenaud boldly translates this passage, "Mais dire comme Timée qu'il est enterré en Italie comme d'autres, il est à craindre que ce ne soit complètement ridicule" (135). The BNJ edition is due for update and revision (a beauty of electronic publishing), and I thank Lachenaud and Professor Baron for their astute readings of my translation and alerting me to these corrigenda.

There is little to fault. The format imposed by the series forces the reader to page from text to endnotes and back, a cumbersome procedure, and it would have been convenient to give the Jacoby fragment number with each note in the endnotes section. To conclude on a positive note, the bibliography contains many items published since 2011, thus superseding (for now) my BNJ edition. Lachenaud has made good use throughout of Christopher Baron's important 2013 book. The commentary is thorough, up-to-date, and penetrating. This edition of Timaeus' fragmentary history will be of value to anyone interested in ancient Greek historiography.

Craige B. Champion