Dion de Pruse dit Dion Chrysostome, Oeuvres. – Texte établi, traduit et annoté par C. Bost-Pouderon. – Paris : Les Belles Lettres, 2011. – XXIV+242 p. : bibliogr., index. – (CUF, ISSN : 0184.7155 : série grecque ; 480). – ISBN : 978.2.251.00564.5.

This timely and useful publication in the new Budé series of Dio edits and translates Orr. 33-36 (First and Second Tarsian Orations, To Celaenae, Borystheniticus) and rests on the author’s earlier Dion Chrysostome, Trois discours aux villes (Orr. 33-35) (Salerno, Helios, 2006), in which she offered a volume of text, translation and notes, with a comprehensive analysis of the history of the text, and a second volume of studies comprising investigations of the historical background, « les intentions du rhéteur », the character of his style and rhetoric, and his « pensée philosophique ». This work underlies most of the present Budé, which adds the Borystheniticus.

Since the manuscript tradition for the four orations is essentially the same, the account of the text done for Orr. 33-35 in the earlier volumes is well worth consulting. Although Bost-Pouderon does not state the relationship between her two editions, it is clear from a comparison of the apparatus criticus in the two that she has returned to the MSS for the Budé and has made a few different choices. The same goes for the translations. Most readers will not notice this; but it does show the care she has taken over the present edition and the thought that has gone into making a good text and translation. In the Budé Bost-Pouderon offers a short account of manuscript tradition as it pertains to these works only, for readers will have to wait for the general account which will presumably be included in the first volume of the Budé Dio under the authorship of Eugenio Amato. Introductions andnotes for Orr. 33-36 again show a careful and not in any way perfunctory use of Bost-Pouderon’s earlier publiciations.

With regard to the First Tarsian, Bost-Pouderon continues to advocate a date in the 70s, for which there is in truth no more evidence than Trajanic dating preferred by Sidebottom and others. Certainly the points Bost-Pouderon makes in favour of her dating are plausible but they are not terribly persuasive (e.g. Musonius’ influence on Dio’s ideas of moral comportment: Bryson’s Oikonomikos part 4 shows, if we needed, proof of the ubiquity and desirability of codifying such values in the first century; and there is no reason why Musonius’ influence on Dio did not extend beyond Musonius’ own lifetime). One oddity of Bost-Pouderon’s interpretation is her determination to ignore the obvious in what Dio says about the depravity of Tarsus’ males. She makes the notorious grunting noise they emit (rhengkein) into an « attaque portée contre l’asianisme ». That is surely most unlikely: the First Tarsian is not a critique of his audience’s literary tastes. And it is difficult to know what to make of the decision to mark as interpolated the last two chapters of the speech where Dio condemns in the most frank manner the mania of the Tarsians for shaving all parts of their bodies and ends with the taunt androgunoi. In her earlier edition Bost-Pouderon suggests an import from a lost work of Dio’s. When she here remarks that one has « parfois considéré » §§63-64 as an interpolation, she appears to refer only to herself.

The Second Tarsian, with its treatment of the rivalries of the Cilician cities, social problems at Tarsus (the famous situation of the « linen workers »), and relations with Rome, is a speech of fundamental importance for students of Roman government in the East and Bost-Pouderon treats the main issues succinctly in her introduction and notes. She is tempted to agree with Kienast’s association of the speech with Trajan’s preparations for his eastern campaign. But one might have hoped for a more perceptive approach to Dio himself as an intellettuale greco at the same time determined to uphold Greek unity and also to claim imperial support: this quasi-nationalist Hellenism did not need instructions from Rome, though he was no doubt happy to play the Roman card when it suited him. Within the broader pattern of activity by the upper classes Dio’s visits to places like Tarsus could well reflect his own business and property interests. It really is unlikely in general terms that Trajan empowered Dio to sort out the Cilicians for him. After all, why would Trajan have sent him east in 113 at a time when Pliny’s letters show that Dio could not sort out problems in his own back yard? As Bost-Pouderon remarks, the speech responds to « une situation politique complexe et délicate ». If Dio actually did deliver the First Tarsian before a real audience with the contents transmitted to us, the second oration must be far removed in time and circumstance.

Dio’s short speech at Celaenae is a rather different creature. As Bost-Pouderon observes, it is incomplete. Its sustained irony and sarcastic assessment of the town’s prosperity as an assize and commercial centre – a picture confirmed by Strabo – adds up to another remarkably offensive attack on his audience. Bost-Pouderon and others have compared the First Tarsian and the Alexandrian, but the tensions and rivalries underlying Dio’s picture certainly allow comparison with the themes of the Second Tarsian and the Nicomedian. Here morality and politics are not far apart. As Bost-Pouderon notes, the assault on this ancient regional capital is impossible to date.

Her final speech is the extremely important oration on the ideal city, the Borystheniticus, « which he delivered in his fatherland » according to the MSS. Bost-Pouderon agrees with the consensus view that the presentation suits the Dio of the Bithynian speeches including those at Prusa and is therefore to be placed in the early 2nd c. She retains, perhaps rightly, the phrase « after the exile » at the start of the speech, which many editors have rejected as a gloss on the title information. Bost-Pouderon gives Or. 36 a far longer introduction than she does for the other works both because it is not treated in her earlier edition and because of its importance and complexity as a disquisition on the ideal community set against an engagement with the city of Olbia, which in the opening scenes emerges as a pristine settlement of authentic, manly Greeks (Bost-Pouderon fails to comment on the extraordinary allegation that the one man who shaved did so « to flatter the Romans » and thereby showed a « disgrace that was totally inappropriate for men »). The most important parts are the Stoicizing remarks on the divine city made by Dio, he says, at the invitation of an educated local, Hieroson (a long established editorial correction) at §§29-38, the following Magian myth, responding to Platonic themes about the eternity of the universe under the government of Zeus whose « most perfect car » rides the heavens, and finally the still Platonizing presentation of the Stoic doctrine of the periodic destruction of the universe by fire and its consequent rebirth. After a detailed and knowledgeable excursus on Dio’s philosophical sources, Bost-Pouderon reasonably concludes that there is virtually no Mithraic influence, as many have wanted, and that the chief inspiration is « properly Stoic », and suggests that the key message for his Prusan audience is the « concord » (homonoia) that is stressed at two points in the myths and which was so important to Dio in his overtly political speeches. All in all this is an important contribution to our understanding of this fascinating and multi-layered work.

In sum Bost-Pouderon’s new Budé is a fine start to what will undoubtedly be an exceptionally important edition of Dio’s works.

Simon Swain