Lactantii Placidi in Statii Thebaida commentum, Vol. 1, recensuit Robert Dale Sweeney, Stuttgart Leipzig, Teubner, 1997.
The text of Lactantius Placidus consists of 659 pages in the most recent Teubner edition of R. D. Sweeney (1997). It appears to follow the regular formal structure present in the commentaries of Servius, consisting of a lemma of the text of the Thebaid followed by the relevant scholium. In the explanatio, however, Lactantius Placidus often inserts a lemma containing two or more verses that are related to the argumentum; this corresponds to a general explanation in the scholion itself, which is then separated into successive repetitions of shorter phrases. These are the points at which the work appears to have suffered most in the change of format from stand-alone text to annotations in margins, and the editors’ critical activity has consequently focused on them. In my opinion, there are two reasons why a new critical revision of the entire edition of 1997 is required: 1) the problem of stratification, as seen in the presence of earlier scholia on Statius (now lost) of which Lactantius Placidus personally speaks; and 2) the multiple voices found in his explanatio. The expository style of the scholia, in contrast with the linguistic facies, does not appear consistent throughout the twelve books of the glossed poem, but rather reveals “una progressiva riduzione della loro ampiezza, il che fa pensare alla mano di un unico estensore, ispirato da un ben determinato progetto” (Cardinali); moreover, in the brief prose introductions to each book, the reader finds a shift from considerable homogeneity of grammar and diction to more inconsistent syntactical structures. The absence of an introduction to the first book may owe to natural circumstances of chance; nevertheless represents a regrettable loss of knowledge about Lactantius Placidus. The themes treated include the explanatio of the text itself together with notes on grammar, syntax, semantics, and rhetoric; in these places, Lactantius Placidus employs the diction of the grammatical schools, and occasionally speaks of prosody. Clausulae have also been identified in the commentary (Klotz 1908, 505-508); these represent a novelty in prose scholia, but their presence appears to be infrequent. More often, and more in keeping with the culture of late-antiquity, are notes on mythology, geography, astronomy, and cosmography. These latter two themes seem to accord with both the neo-Platonic education of Lactantius Placidus and also his interests in Mithraism; absent, meanwhile, are traces of Christianity. The scholia of Lactantius are quite valuable for reconstructing a better text of the Thebaid (Klotz 1908, 487-492); in the majority of cases they accord with ω (the consensus codicum), but occasionally they retain the reading of P (Parisinus 8051, also known as Puteanus, from the name of its owner Dupuy; this manuscript is from the 9th-10th c., and is probably the oldest text of Statius). Lactantius Placdius is deeply committed to citing authors both Greek (from Homer to Metrodorus of Scepsis) and Latin (from Plautus to Nemesianus), and these references demonstrate both his literary interests and the breadth of his reading. One ought nevertheless to deem “fondato il sospetto che la menzione di un luogo autorevole sia legata al fatto che il grammaticus dispone di un riferimento che in qualche modo può essere impiegato nella sua explanatio senza che, in effetti, l’uso di detta autorità risulti minimamente illuminante nel chiarire il verso staziano” (Arena, s.p.). In his 2013 work on the method and studies of Caspar von Barth, Berlincourt has identified the scholia of Statius present in the 17th c. philologist’s 1664-1665 edition as potentially new material of late-antique origin. [C. Santini; tr. C. L. Caterine].