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Critics, Compilers, and Commentators - An Introduction to Roman Philology, 200 BCE-800 CE
James E. G. Zetzel
Paperback / softback
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

"To teach correct Latin and to explain the poets" were the two standard duties of Roman teachers. Not only was a command of literary Latin a prerequisite for political and social advancement, but a sense of Latin's history and importance contributed to the Romans' understanding of their own cultural identity. Put plainly, philology
the study of language and texts
was important at Rome.
Critics, Compilers, and Commentators is the first comprehensive introduction to the history, forms, and texts of Roman philology. James Zetzel traces the changing role and status of Latin as revealed in the ways it was explained and taught by the Romans themselves. In addition, he provides a descriptive bibliography of hundreds of scholarly texts from antiquity, listing editions, translations, and secondary literature. Recovering a neglected but crucial area of Roman intellectual life, this book will be an essential resource for students of Roman literature and intellectual history, medievalists, and historians of education and language science.

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James Zetzel studied at Harvard University and the Institute of Classical Studies of the University of London; he has taught at Brown and Princeton Universities and for the last 32 years at Columbia University. He has written extensively on the literature of the first century BCE and on the history of classical scholarship. He has also published two volumes of translations of Cicero.

Critics, Compilers, and Commentators is a wonderful resource. The works with which it deals "all explain something about Latin texts or the Latin language" (3) and were all written or compiled or otherwise arranged and digested between the beginnings of Latin culture and the end of the eighth century CE. Zetzel has wrestled a billowing mass of material into nine crisp chapters under the rubric "A short history of Roman scholarship"; an extensive
bibliographic guide; and forty-seven pages of Works Cited, including digital resources. Just one of these three sections would be worth the price of the book for anyone interested in the teaching and preservation of Latin culture over the longue dure. There is, as far as I know, no comparable work.

Catherine Conybeare, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Critics, Compilers, and Commentators is, in short, a repository of erudition about language and the study of it over a period of a thousand years, by a scholar who is himself widely recognized for his erudition about the Latin language. There is nothing else quite like it, and now that we have it, scholars interested in these matters will wonder how they managed without it for so long.

Jennifer Ferriss-Hill, University of Miami , Classical Journal Online

Critics, Compilers, and Commentators remains clear and methodical, yet stimulating. The book's true value, however, lies in the bibliographic guide, which represents an astounding amount of work and may act as an indispensable reference guide not only for students of Roman literature, but also for medievalists and those interested in the history of education, linguistics, and intellectual history.

Emma Wall, Durham University, The Journal of Classics Teaching

a massive and remarkable study of Roman philology from antiquity into the early Middle Ages Editors Susanna Braund and Zara Martirosova Torlone gather twenty-eight chapters ranging from humanism to the twenty-first century. Translations into English are well's an eye-opening tour.

Christopher Whitton, University of Cambridge, Greece & Rome

Zetzel has done a splendid job of breathing life into the apparently dry pedantic world of the schoolroom, and his account of a vast array of literature manages to be both helpful to the scholar and of value to the interested reader whose own grammar studies perhaps began (and ended) with B.H. Kennedy.

John Godwin, Classics for all

Zetzel's volume is an enormous achievement, covering a much longer historical period than any discussion of Roman philology has done before, at least in such a detailed and consistent way. It constitutes a most valuable tool and an indispensable starting point for anyone studying the history of Roman philology in general and of Latin grammaticography in particular.

Historiographia Linguistica

This unparalleled work fills an immense gap in the history of Roman philology. Experts and general readers alike owe a profound debt to Prof. Zetzel. Only a scholar with mastery of the grammatical textual tradition in its entirety could deliver such a methodical, lucid, and consistently stimulating account.

Alessandro Garcea, Sorbonne Universit

This is a book that anyone with a serious interest in classical Latin language and literature will want to own and read. It represents a truly staggering amount of chalcenteric labor, carried out to meet the highest standard of excellence, by a scholar who has no peer in this field today. It is a great achievement and will be recognized as an indispensable resource for generations.

Robert A. Kaster, Princeton University

James Zetzel has written two outstanding books in one. The second half of Critics, Compilers, and Commentators is a modern portrait gallery of our ancestors, the ancient scholars who hover behind our Latin texts. The first half tells a fascinating story of how the work they did coalesced into a cultural project.

Peter White, University of Chicago

Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages

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