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Mariachiara Angelucci: Polemone di Ilio I frammenti degli scritti periegetici. Introduzione, testo greco, traduzione e commento (= Geographica Historica; Bd. 37), Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2022, 301 S., ISBN 978-3-515-11789-0, EUR 58,00
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Roberto Capel Badino
Università degli Studi di Milano Statale
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Matthias Haake
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Roberto Capel Badino : Rezension von: Mariachiara Angelucci: Polemone di Ilio I frammenti degli scritti periegetici. Introduzione, testo greco, traduzione e commento, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2022, in: sehepunkte 23 (2023), Nr. 4 [15.04.2023], URL:

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Mariachiara Angelucci: Polemone di Ilio I frammenti degli scritti periegetici

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Ludwig Preller's edition of the fragments of Polemon of Ilium, published in Leipzig in 1838, is a masterpiece of 19th century philology. In attempting to reconstruct the lost work of Polemon, a scholar and traveler from the 3rd-2nd century B.C., Preller was able to exercise the study of antiquity through a holistic approach: not only literature, but also geography, archaeology, art history, mythology and religion. Certainly, antiquarianism is neither refined literature nor an undertaking of historical investigation, but it is still testimony and as such has a special bond with the spaces and objects of the past. Therefore, the work of periegetes, such as Polemon or Pausanias, becomes almost a training ground for those scholars who investigate Greek and Roman antiquity with a multidisciplinary perspective. This was certainly the case with Preller's edition, one of the earliest examples of the application of the methods of Altertumswissenschaft.

Partly out of reverential fear of an almost irreproachable work, partly because of the waning interest in the figure of Polemon, no one has undertaken a systematic study of the author since Preller. Carl Müller published the fragments in the FHG, reproducing Preller's edition, except for minor variations. It is certainly remarkable, then, that in recent years various scholarly contributions have appeared that either address the figure of Polemon as a whole [1] or delve into certain aspects of his historiographical production. Even two partial editions of Polemon's fragments have been compiled at the same time (albeit published a few years apart), with special attention to his writings on antiquarian periegesis. One was edited by me, limited to the fragments of periegetic works pertaining to places and monuments in Greece [2] and the other is the edition by Mariachiara Angelucci. In 2007 A. Trachsel dealt with the fragments of Polemon presumably taken from his writing on the Troad, as part of a study on a place of memory par excellence such as the plain of Troy. [3] Finally, at a conference at the Scuola Normale in Pisa, G. Verhasselt recently presented a study devoted to the fragments of Polemon's work Against Adaeus and Antigonus, a work that dealt with art history and the description of art objects, collateral topics to antiquarian periegesis. [4] This renewed interest in Polemon is part of the ferment accompanying the edition of the fourth part of Jacoby and an increased focus on the 'minor' genres of historiography, such as biography and antiquarianism. It is to be hoped that it will prepare a new comprehensive edition of the fragments of Polemon.

Angelucci's recent edition has first and foremost the merit of having re-examined all the fragments that can be traced back to Polemon's periegetical writings. In the first part of the study, Angelucci focuses on the biographical evidence around the figure of the antiquarian. She analyses the meagre chronological data from the Suda and a Delphic inscription (Syll.3 585), which allow, with some margin of fluctuation, to date the author's life between 230/20 and 160 B.C. Angelucci tries to reconstruct Polemon's education, glimpsing links with the Aristotelian school and with Stoicism, and the scholar's relations with power, in a delicate era, between the affirmation of Pergamum and the rise of Rome. Probably the very pages (28-31) that Angelucci devotes to analysing the possible clues of Polemon's interest in Italy and Rome constitute the most original contribution of the introductory section. Angelucci relies mainly on the interpretation of fr. 37 (38 Preller), from which it emerges that Polemon accepted the tradition of Aeneas' emigration to Latium. It is so possible to contextualise Polemon's position in the diplomatic relations between Pergamum and Rome in the first half of the 2nd century B.C.

Before presenting the text of the fragments, Angelucci reviews the geographical areas of interest in Polemon's periegetic writings, based on the known titles and the content of the quotations. From Greece, the author's gaze widens to Asia and the islands (Samothrace, as far as we know), to Sicily and Magna Graecia. The Greek point of view seems to be entirely prevalent, but, if it is true that Polemon dealt with Etruscan Spina, the origin of the ritual dance of the Salii in Rome (fr. 37) and the mantle (ἱμάτιον) of Alcisthenes exhibited in Carthage (fr. 85 Preller, from Περὶτῶν ἐν Καρχηδόνι πέπλων, but Angelucci does not include this text in the study), we should not entirely exclude that Polemon also had a (marginal) interest in foreign cultures.

The critical text is methodically founded, is based on the most recent editions of the transmitters and is accompanied by a rich apparatus of parallel sources and an Italian translation. In the commentary accompanying the text of the fragments Angelucci offers an analysis scheme that she systematically applies to all fragments, trying as far as possible to elucidate the following points: tradition, context, explanation of content, comparison with similar sources and reconstruction of the context of origin.

Angelucci particularly focuses on the identification of possible intermediate sources that would have mediated the quotations from Polemon's writings to the text of the transmitter. In most cases the question remains aporetic, and perhaps a systematic study would be needed to understand the extent to which this Hellenistic service literature was still available in its full form in the imperial age.

Angelucci is normally careful to distinguish the information content deduced from the writings of Polemon from that of the new context in which the quotation is inserted. The problem is particularly relevant for a source such as Athenaeus, who often uses historical evidence "in ways inconsistent with a straightforward reading of the original author". [5] Only occasionally she runs the risk of superimposing the context of the transmitter with the original one, as in the case of fr. 2 (84), where Polemon clearly provides information only concerning biographical data on the sculptor Lykios son of Myron and not on the etymology of the so-called λυκιουργεῖς vases. It is indeed crucial to try to demarcate the boundaries of the fragment taken from Polemon within the context in which it is cited, because this provides us with the tools to better define the field of investigation of the author and the genre of antiquarian periegesis. Otherwise, we are still led to believe that the interest of antiquarian writers is generically 'diverse' (at page 85 Angelucci speaks about Polemon's "spirito periegetico, che lo induce a non omettere nulla di quanto ha a che fare con un luogo"). The criteria for this variety must be brought into sharper focus.

With regard to the ordering and classification of the fragments, Angelucci's edition differs from Preller's in only two points: fr. 39 (20 Preller), which concerns the heroic cult of Diomedes in Arpi, Metapontum and Turi, is attributed to the writing On the Foundations of Italic and Sicilian Cities (while Preller contextualised it in the writing on Laconia on the basis of a weak connection between the cult of Diomedes in the Adriatic and the breeding of Venetian horses mentioned in fr. 19); fr. 38 (witnessed in the Etymologicum magnum and Genuinum) had escaped Preller and was reported as fr. 37 bis by H.J. Mette. [6] The text is particularly lacunose and Angelucci offers a convincing reading of it on the basis of a proposed conjectural integration.

Perhaps Angelucci is too cautious in distancing herself from Preller's edition and ends up re-proposing hypothetical attributions of anepigraphic fragments and even titles of works that Preller imagined, without any testimonial basis, such as the alleged Άναγραφὴ τῶν ἐπονύμων (Register of the eponyms). The most important contribution that can come from partial editions of lost historiographers and antiquarians like Angelucci's is to attempt to identify more stringent criteria for the classification of fragments and to define more precisely the contours and developments of the genres of 'minor' historiography. Otherwise, one runs the risk that the study will be reduced to a bibliographical update of authoritative nineteenth-century editions, very useful for reference, but sterile on a critical and historical-literary level.


[1] David Engels: Polemon von Ilion. Antiquarische Periegese und hellenistische Identitätssuche, in: Athen und/oder Alexadreia. Aspekt von Identität und Ethnizität im hellenistischen Griechenland, ed. by Klaus Freitag / Christoph Michels, Wien 2014, 65-97.

[2] Roberto Capel Badino: Polemone di Ilio e la Grecia. Testimonianze e frammenti di periegesi antiquaria, Milano 2018.

[3] Alexandra Trachsel, La Troade: un paysage et son héritage littéraire. Les commentaires antiques sur la Troade, leur genèse et leur influence, Basel 2007.

[4] Gertjan Verhasselt: The Fragments of Polemon's Work Against Adaeus and Antigonus, in: ASNSP 13.2 (2021), 41-113.

[5] Robert J. Gorman / Vanessa B. Gorman Source: The Tryphê of the Sybarites: A Historiographical Problem in Athenaeus, in: JHS, 127 (2007), 40; Giuseppe Zecchini: La cultura storica di Ateneo, Milano 1989; D. Ambaglio: I Deipnosofisti di Ateneo e la tradizione storica frammentaria, in: Athenaum 78 (1990), 51-64.

[6] H. J. Mette: Die "kleinen" griechischen Historiker heute, in: Lustrum 21 (1978), 40.

Roberto Capel Badino