Reconstructing Philodemus' On Poems
foliis tantum ne carmina manda,
ne turbata uolent rapidis ludibria ventis.
When Aeneas requests an oracle from the Sibyl at Cumae, he asks her not to entrust her reply to the leaves on which her oracles were traditionally inscribed, in case the winds should blow them into confusion ( Aeneid 6.74f.). Vergil might well have been describing the fate of the writings of his teacher, Philodemus of Gadara; for a very basic obstacle to understanding the philosopher's writings has been that many sequences of detached fragments make no sense at all. Editors have usually arranged these in an arbitrary order according to apparent associations of ideas; this has often led them to emend, in order to create joins where there are none. This method was followed, for example, in the editions of the On Poems by F. Sbordone1 and M. L. Nardelli;2 yet it never gave the works as a whole any satisfactory structure. Others
An earlier version of parts of this paper, which has been substantially revised to take account of developments up to June 1993, appeared in the Proceedings of the XXth International Congress of Papyrology ( Copenhagen 1993, 367-81); it appears here with the kind permission of A. BülowJacobsen. I am grateful to T. Dorandi for commenting on a draft of it, to D. Delattre, J. Hammerstaedt, C. Mangoni, D. Obbink, and C. Romeo for helpful discussion, and to audiences at Yale University and UCLA, where earlier versions were delivered. The section on Crates will form part of Chapter 3 of From Aristotle to Longinus: The Invention of Critical Theory (The Martin Classical Lectures), to appear. An Italian translation of an abbreviated version of this paper will appear in Atti del Congresso Internazionale 'L'Epicureismo greco e romano' (Naples forthcoming). Places where either the column-number or the line-number is provisional are marked with asterisks: thus col. 118* is tentatively assumed to be col. 118 in my proposed reconstruction, while line 23* is taken to be line 23 because the top of the column is lost and the number of lines per column is conjectural. These numbers differ from those used in my previous publication ( Janko 1991b), because progress in the reconstruction has continued; they are intended for purposes of illustration only, and will no doubt be altered again by the time when I bring out a complete text and translation of Book 1 in Philodemus: The Aesthetic Works. 1. On Poems, Book I (to appear). Where my text differs from that of Sbordone, Nardelli, or Mangoni, this is owed to my own editorial decisions; it would consume too much space to give a full critical apparatus here.