26 September 2007

A "B" or not a "B"?

Today I'm bothered by an argument from KRS which previously seemed just fine.

They say (recall):

Simplicius is undoubtedly quoting from a version of Theophrastus' history of earlier philosophy, and from the section on the material principle, περὶ ἀρχῆς. The concluding clause, a judgement on Anaximander's style, shows that what immediately precedes is a direct quotation.
This is the sole argument for counting the passage from Simplicius as containing a fragment of Anaximander.

For the moment we may put aside the question of whether someone might write, "saying these things in rather poetic (or 'more poetic') words", and aim to be referring simply to something that somewhere precedes, rather than to what immediately precedes.

What bothers me is the claim that "what immediately precedes is a direct quotation", which is ambiguous.

No doubt the clause, "saying these things in rather poetic words" indicates that someone is quoting someone. But who is quoting whom? Or, whose judgment on someone's style is being expressed? In particular, couldn't the phrase have been written by Simplicius?

Here is my reasoning. If the phrase, "saying these things in rather poetic words", were written by Theophrastus, then he would presumably be quoting Anaximander. But if the phrase were written by Simplicius, then he would presumably be quoting only Theophrastus.

If the phrase,
"saying these things in rather poetic words", were written by Theophrastus, then he would be expressing a judgment about the style of Anaximander, presumably from direct inspection of something written by Anaximander, and in that case we would have good grounds for saying that the preceding contains somewhere a direct quotation of Anaximander.

But if the phrase were written by Simplicius, then the judgment would be expressed by Simplicius about the style of Anaximander, but presumably without any such direct inspection, and we would so far only have grounds for saying that the preceding contains somewhere a direct quotation of Theophrastus.

On the latter alternative, our grounds for regarding some words as constituting a genuine fragment of Anaximander would amount to no more than Simplicius' observation (and perhaps ours, by substitution) that a form of words was particularly poetical.

Or the point may be put this way. Remove that phrase from Simplicius (as being by Simplicius and having no real authority) and then from the following what do you say is the "B" passage and genuine fragment?
Of those who say that it is one, moving, and infinite, Anaximander, son of Praxiades, a Milesian, the successor and pupil of Thales, said that the principle and element of existing things was infinite, being the first to introduce this name to the material principle. He says that it is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements, but some other infinite nature, from which come into being all the heavens and the worlds in them. And the source of coming-to-be for existing things is that into which destruction, too, happens by necessity. For they pay penalty and compensation to each other for injustice according to the order of time. It is clear that he, seeing the changing of the elements into each other, thought it right to make none of these the substratum, but something else beside these. And he produces coming-to-be not through the alteration of the element, but by the separation off of the opposites through the eternal motion.
But am I missing something here, some reason why KRS have judged that the comment about style simply couldn't be by Simplicius? After all, the passage that follows ("It is clear that he ...") they say is "almost certainly" a comment by Simplicius. Am I overlooking something obvious (which can easily happen)?

2 comments:

JIW said...

Dear Michael

I have nothing to contribute about this specific stretch of text, but it is possible to think more generally about Simplicius' attitude to and practice of citation. You might find something in Han Baltussen's piece:‘Philology or Philosophy? Simplicius on the Use of Quotations’, in I. Worthington – J.
Foley (eds) Epea and Grammata: Oral and Written Communication in Ancient Greece, vol.
IV, Brill, 2002 (fourth biennial Orality and Literacy in Ancient Greece conference, 2000) 173-189.

James

Michael Pakaluk said...

Hi James,

Thanks for that suggestion. I'll take a look.

Best,
Michael