BMCR review of Tsagalis, Inscribing Sorrow

Seen this morning in BMCR 2008.09.18:

Christos C. Tsagalis, Inscribing Sorrow: Fourth-century Attic Funerary Epigrams. Trends in Classics – Supplementary Volumes 1.   Berlin/New York:  Walter De Gruyter, 2008. Pp. xiv, 368. ISBN 9783110201321. $118.00.

Reviewed by Valentina Garulli, University of Bologna

Garulli gives a generally very positive review of this thorough and intelligent literary reading of a coherent collection of verse inscriptions (a field of growing interest in epigraphy these days). The penultimate paragraph introduces a note of caution, however:

At least for some inscriptions a critical apparatus quoting the main supplements proposed would have been helpful (see e.g. pp. 108f.); the reader would have welcomed also some additional information regarding the place where the stone was found and other standard editions in addition to CEG.

This I think highlights a common problem with the study of these kinds of texts (noted for example by Roueché in last month’s Digital Classicist seminar): that the scholars who look at verse and those who look at inscriptions tend to be different groups. A responsible edition of any text—but especially one that exists in a single, possibly incomplete copy—surely needs to consider not only the literary and historical context, but also the material context, the location, archaeological information, appearance of the text and any decorative features, and especially the history of and grounds for any restorations or emendations.

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