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The text of Ambrose's 'De Officiis.'

An editor of Cicero's De Officiis (ed. M. Winterbottom, Oxford, 1994) has to keep his eye on another book of the same name, in which Ambrose turned Cicero's moral precepts to Christian use. Ambrose's work is now available to us in a modern edition, the first since 1857. Maurice Testard's Bude (Paris, 1984, 1992) is a pioneering text, which confronts a rich early tradition for the first time. But he is a conservative editor, who allows his best manuscripts too much credence,(1) and is reluctant to emend even in the face of nonsense. The following notes are designed to supplement his notable edition.(2)

1.11 Reading the allegory of Ecclus. 28:28 'saepi possessionem tuam spinis', A(mbrose) explains that possessio stands for your mind. 'Saepi ergo hanc possessionem et circumuallato cogitationibus, munito spinis sollicitudinibus, ne in eam irruant et captiuam ducant irrationabiles corporis passiones.' T(estard) marks sollicitudinibus off by dashes, but after the previous clause we do not wish to return to the text that is being interpreted; and even if we did, id est could hardly be spared. Delete spinis, the addition of a reader bringing text and allegory together.

1.13 'Ergo etsi irascimur, quia adfectus naturae est non potestatis, malum sermonem non proferamus de ore nostro.' T. translates: 'parce que cet etat releve de la nature et non pas de notre pouvoir'. That will be the sense, but it is one that can hardly be attained without the addition of nostrae after non. Cf. Cic. Fin. 4.15 'quae sunt secundum naturam neque sunt in nostra potestate', and also Ambrose himself 1.93 'hoc [sc. mitigare iracundiam] nostrum est, naturae illud [sc. commoueri]'.

1.25 When considering if it was proper to write an ecclesiastical De Officiis, A. chanced on Luke 1:23, 'lectionem qua confirmaremur etiam in nobis officium dici posse'. 'Meme parmi nous' (T.). That is possible; but we should consider reading a nobis, as in the reprise at the end of the section.

1.28 Riches do not count as commoda, 'sed incommoda haec putamus si non reiciantur: eaque oneri cum sint aestimari [sc. putamus] magis quam dispendio cum erogantur'. sint seems too bald, and should not, next to erogantur, be subjunctive. Perhaps adsunt?

1.31 A. argues that Pythagoras only followed David (Ps. 38 (39):2-3) in laying down a rule of silence, 'sed ille ut per quinquennium discipulis usum inhiberet loquendi, Dauid autem non ut naturae munus imminueret, sed ut custodiam proferendi sermonis doceret, et Pythagoras quidem ut non loquendo loqui doceret, Dauid ut loquendo magis disceremus loqui'. The argument would be tighter e.g. with (minus) magis, 'by speaking less we should learn better how to speak'. David recommended opportune silence (34, cited below; cf. also 9 'non silentium sibi indixit in perpetuum sed custodiam', 23 'et silendi patientiam et opportunitatem loquendi') so that speech when embarked upon would be the more effective.

1.33 In the previous section A. has shown that practice is needed before one embarks on the real thing. 'Nam ipsa natura nos in paruulis docet quod prius sonos meditantur loquendi ut loqui discant.' Nam is in effect a conjecture; the manuscripts mostly give nec. This was early corrected to haec, and that, or hoc, is preferable. 'This is what nature herself teaches in the case of the young, for they ...'.(3)

1.34 Punctuate: 'Ergo Dauid tacebat non semper sed pro tempore; non iugiter neque omnibus sed irritanti aduersario, prouocanti peccatori non respondebat.' '... he failed to reply not to everyone but to those who provoked him' (cf. 17).

1.47 'Nec superfluus uelut quidam excursus fuit ut opinioni huiusmodi ipsorum adfectus [cf. 45 'ille suo adfectu beatus, hic miser'] responderer quos beatos iudicant cum ipsi se miseros putent.' There needs to be a clear contrast between the view of others that the wicked are happy and their own secret unhappiness. 'Ceux memes qu'on juge heureux' (T.); but if iudicant is a vague 'people think', it is very unclear in this context. iudicamus, rather, leading to the next sentence: 'arbitratus enim sum quod ipsi sibi facilius quam nobis crederent'.

1.48 A. argues against those who think that God has no care for a world he created. 'Et quis operator neglegat operis sui curam? Quis deserat et destituat quod ipse condendum putauit? Si iniuria est regere, nonne est major iniuria fecisse, cum aliquid non fecisse nulla iniustitia sit, non curare quod feceris summa inclementia?' Ruling is out of place here;(4) A. wrote neglegere.

1.54 'quorum non poterit satis mouere opinio si facta eorum consideremus': 'ne pourra suffire pour nous emouvoir' (T.). nos can hardly be dispensed with.

1.63 A. makes a series of hypotheses, the first of them 'fortasse ut dicatur raptori'. ut should be deleted; compare the other two, 'dicatur etiam potenti', 'dicatur etiam abundanti'.

1.67 Verecundia is seen in speech as well as in action: 'ne modum progrediaris loquendi, ne quid indecorum sermo resonet tuus'. Add ultra before modum, comparing Cic. Tusc. 4.38 'adhibent modum quendam quem ultra progredi non oporteat'.

1.69 Pudor is companion and guard of chastity, 'qui si praetendat et quae prima pericula sunt pudicitiam temptari non sinat'. T. is no doubt right that there is a military image, but praetendere can hardly mean 'campe derant' (and why et?). et should lead to a verb that could properly govern an accusative: add e.g. (prae)caueat (perhaps after sunt). Cf. 1.190 'praetendere ... et obuiare cogitatione prouida rebus futuris' (also 1.229).

1.69 Mary addressed the angel (Luke 1:34) 'ut qualitatem effectus ['the practicalities'] disceret, non ut sermonem praeferret'. 'Non pas pour prolonger la conversation' (T.). proferret, rather (meaning 'not for the sake of talking').

1.70 Modesty in prayer Paul regarded as important 'ut non glorietur peccatoris oratio, sed quasi colorem pudoris obducat, quo plus defert uerecundiae de recordatione delicti, hoc uberiorem mereatur gratiam'. Add et before quo ([E.sup.2] added qui).

1.96 'Iam dixerat: Irascimini et nolite peccare [Ps. 4:5]. Moralis magister qui naturalem adfectum inflectendum magis ratione doctrinae quam exstirpandum nouerit, moralia docet.' Moralis magister (for which cf. Ambrose, De paen. 1.92) and moralia docet cannot both stand. Delete the latter (and perhaps repunctuate: '... peccare" moralis magister, qui ...').

1.99 'Disceptatio sine ira, suauitas sine amaritudine sit, monitio sine asperitate, hortatio sine offensione.' suauitas sticks out like a sore thumb alongside the other nominatives; and how should it have any arnaritudo to be avoided? I suggest seueritas (cf. Cic. Off. 1.137 'clementi castigatione licet uti ... ut et seueritas adhibeatur et contumelia repellatur' and what follows about acerbitas).

1.103 'Non solum profusos sed omnes etiam iocos declinandos arbitror, nisi forte plenum grauitatis et gratiae sermonem esse non indecorum est.' grauitatis hardly concedes enough to the would-be jokers (and may arise from grauitatem above), while suauitatis (CO) may concede too much. Perhaps urbanitatis?

1.112 'Ambroise...evoque l'histoire de Joseph dans l'ordre chronologique' (T., i.247-8). He sums up: 'ordinem laudis rebus adiungens et opportunitatem temporibus, aequitatem populis officii sui moderatione dispensans'. I do not understand T.'s remarks about 'l'ordre de la louange' (p. 248). laudis should be deleted, as the rhetoric alone would tell us. Cf. 105 'de ordine ... rerum et de opportunitate temporum [= Cic. Off. 1.142]', 106, 110, 114 'rerum modos, uices temporum'.

1.121 The virtues of Noah are listed, culminating in justice and temperance: 'Quam fortis ut diluuium uicerit! Quam temperans ut diluuium tolerauerit: quando introiret, qua moderatione degeret, quando coruum, quando columbam dimitteret, quando reciperet reuertentes, quando exeundi opportunitatem captaret, agnosceret!' In this long development, Ambrose illustrates Noah's temperance first from his ability to put up with the flood (one might think that part of fortitudo?), then from his ability to see when certain steps needed to be taken (similarly the 'ordo rerum' and 'opportunitas temporum' are included in Cicero's fourth virtue; in Ambrose himself see e.g. 1.106, 115). The quando clauses (qua moderatione degeret comes oddly in this list) must depend on a verb of recognition or the like, parallel to tolerauerit. The ever-watchful corrector of E added et explorauerit after tolerauerit. But as agnosceret is redundant beside captaret, it is more economical to eraend it to agnouerit.

1.127 'Hinc caritas nascitur, quae alios sibi praefert, non quaerens quae sua sunt, in quibus est principatus iustitiae.' quibus seems to have been influenced by the preceding sua. Read rather quo. Cf. 128 'in quo est iustitiae forma praecipua'.

1.131-2 'Dicunt enim illi [the old philosophers] eam primam esse iustitiae formam, ut nemini quis noceat nisi lacessitus iniuria... Deinde formam iustitiae putauerunt ut quis communia,(5) id est, publica pro publicis habeat, priuata pro suis.' It would at the very least be clearer if alteram were added after deinde. For the two types see Cic. Off. 1.20.

1.148 'Grandis culpa si sciente te fidelis egeat, si scias eum sine sumptu esse, famem tolerate, aerumnam perpeti - qui praesertim egere erubescat(6) - si in causam ceciderit aut captiuitatis...'. T.'s dashes tell the tale (as often). They imply, rightly, that qui does not pick up eum (for eum picks up fidelis). But they cannot mask the fact that the relative clause has no anchor in its context. It would have more if we transposed the clause to follow egeat (and egere would gain rhetorical point).

1.149 A. is discussing giving to the poor. 'Beatus quidem qui dimittit omnia et sequitur eum, sed et ille beatus est qui quod habet ex adfectu facit.' The small contribution of a poor man is, A. thinks, if anything more valuable than the large contribution of a rich man. 'quod habet ex adfectu facit' is mysterious. One misses the idea of giving; and quod habet seems too unspecific. Perhaps 'qui secundum quod habet [cf. 151] ex adfectu dat' (though now perhaps facit might stand: 'acts out of the right frame of mind'; for adfectus see below, 'adfectus...pretium rebus imponit').

1.167 'Beneuolentia itaque...est...tamquam fons aquae reficiens sitientem, tamquam lumen quod etiam in aliis luceat nec illis desit qui de suo lumine allis lumen accenderint.' You can give others a light without your own taper going out. aliis = 'for others' in both cases, and in should be deleted. Cf. (exactly) the verse of Ennius from which all this starts: 'nihilo minus ipsi lucet [sc. lumen] cum illi accenderit' (cited by Cicero in Off. 1.51).

1.233 A. distinguishes three types of injured party, of varying degrees of moral perfection. The least perfect type reacts to insult; he is not content with knowing he is guiltless. 'Nam mihi infirmo si quis iniuriam faciat, forsitan, licet infirmus, donem iniuriam meam.' Presumably a negative has dropped out: <non> donem, 'I would not forgive the offence, though I am too weak to retaliate effectively.'

2.6 A. asserts that long before the pagan philosophers David had shown the twin importance of cognitio and bona opera: 'per os sancti Dauid utrumque aperte uideatur expressum'. He cites from the Psalms to prove the point on the matter of cognitio, rounding off this section of the argument with: 'Docuimus de cognitione, cuius praemium aeternitatis fructum esse memorauit, adiciens propheta quia...'. propheta (used of David at 1.31) can hardly stand in this position. It should either be transposed to somewhere in the previous clause (propheta adiciens [V.sup.2]), or (better) deleted as the gloss of a reader who felt the need of an expressed subject for memorauit (in fact Dauid is easily understood from above).

2.16 A. cites Luke 6:25(7) to prove that things that seem good are in fact prejudicial to attaining beatitudo. To the citation T.'s text adds, after a comma, what must be part of the summing up of this section: 'si ergo non solum adminiculo non sunt ad uitam beatam corporis aut externa bona sed etiam dispendio sunt'. ergo shows that a new sentence starts at si. But the apodosis of the sentence has dropped out, and a lacuna should be marked.

2.49 A. mentions a quadripartita diuisio, and then concludes the section (according to T.) with 'Haec igitur diuisione seruata ut reuertamur ad propositum.' T.'s haec ([PV.sup.1]A) leads him to a most contorted translation. Read hac (so the other MSS), and either delete ut (so [E.sup.1]W) or add before it something like sequitur or decet (with ut at 2.67). Cf. in general 1.47 'sed reuertamur ad propositum, ne diuisionem factam praeteriisse uideamur'.

2.70 A. mentions various fields for generosity, like ransoming prisoners, and proceeds: 'nota sunt haec nimis Illyrici uastitate et Thraciae' (where one misses in before Illyrici). He goes on to criticize those who disagree with the church's practice in ransoming captives. I do not understand the argument as it evolves, and wonder if 'ipsi si in captiuitatem uenissent, seruirent liberi' and 'si uenditi fuissent, seruitutis ministerium non recusarent' should be punctuated as questions.

2.84 Is A. rather to admire Joseph's intellect 'an uigilantiam atque iustitiam, quarum altera [abl.]...congregauit tam multiplices commeatus, alteraque aequalitatem per omnes seruauit?' So T. Rather merely altera, again ablative. Cf. the similar passage 2.59 'nam de sancti Ioseph... castimonia et iustitia quid dicam? Quarum (so many Mss) altera...altera...'.

2.115 'Ideoque nec proelio interesse maluit [sc. David: see II Sam. 18:4, which hardly agrees with this motivation] ne uel referre arma, parricidae licet, uideretur sed tamen filio [i.e. Absalom].' I doubt referre (hardly 'retourner contre' as T.): perhaps inferre?

2.123 'Ceterum si quis non oboediat episcopo, extollere atque exaltare sese desiderat, obumbrare merita episcopi...; his a uero deuius superbit...'. si quis is taken up in the apodosis by (not his but) is (so EC), and oboediat and desiderat should be parallel verbs in the protasis. Read therefore oboedit. [E.sup.2] may be right to add et before extollere.

3.17 'Numquid membrum tuum alterius membri officia sibi uindicat, ut oculus officium oris aut os oculi officium sibi uindicat, ut manus pedum ministerium aut pes manuum?' Delete officium sibi uindicat, giving proper correspondence with the next clause. The words will have been added by a reader wishing (without need) to clarify the construction.

3.20 A. condemns the practice of paying off a man's debts and then charging interest oneself. 'Etenim si ideo tuo auxilio erit opus, quia non habuit unde de suo redderet, nonne impium est ut...amplius ab eo poscas qui non habebat unde minus solueret?' The need was in the past (non habuit, non habebat), and erit should be erat. (ECO give eguit for erit opus; that will not be right, but they correctly felt the oddity of the future.)

3.21 'Hoc praestamus ceteris animantibus quod alia genera animantium conferre aliquid nesciunt: ferae autem eripiunt, homines tribuunt.' Rather, enim.

3.41 A. in a declamatory passage addresses a merchant who rigs the corn market. 'Cur adfectas inopiam? Cur optari facis a pauperibus sterilitatem? Cum enim non sentio beneficia fecunditatis, te auctionante et pretium condente, frumentum optant potius nihil nasci quam te de fame publica negotiari.' enim shows that the sentence is meant to explain the paradox that preceded; sentiunt ([V.sup.2][A.sup.2]COB) (sc. pauperes) therefore imposes itself. In what follows, it is absurd to say that the trader 'hides the price' ('tu mets de cote le prix' T.). It is the corn he hides: so below 'tu frumentum quasi fenerator occultas, quasi uenditor auctionaris'. The comma therefore should follow frumentum(8), and pretium should be given a preposition (? propter, cf. 3.55), so that the implication can be 'to increase the price'. Later in the section, aceruatur must, after final quo, become aceruetur.

3.111 'Quanta autem honestatis cura maioribus fuerit, ut...'. T. punctuates as an exclamation, but that would entail fuit (so CO). [E.sup.2] added in hoc euidentissime claruit before ut, and that something like this is correct is shown by 3.117 'quanta igitur honestatis cura maioribus fuerit, hinc proditur, ut...'.

There is a good deal in T.'s apparatus that should be promoted to the text, or at least considered very seriously. In the following list almost all of the items are manuscript readings, not later conjecture. 1.2 usu (cf. 2.42); 19 eum; 52 illi; 54 seruauit...considerabit (cf. LXX Job 24:15); 79 cum soceris non; 109 repetit (perfect); 124 quo (cf. 3.21 'hoc praestamus'); 126 quo; 160 mensura pari sed uberiore (cf. 161 and Cic. Off. 1.48); 162 <te> talia (LXX Prov. 23:2 [Greek Text Omitted]); 165 quid; 178 succincti (? subnixi, cf. 2.99); 188 a ratione discedendum (cf. Cic. Off. 1.80); 192 despicere (cf. 2.66); 197 sabbato; 198 quo; 224 grata; 228 se repente; 233 meo ordine; 251 primogenitus; 258 sequantur...putent. 2.3 aestimanda; 11 loquar; 45 uindicaret...negaret; 46 patuit; 49 sapientiaeque quae; 55 regalium; 56 faciebat (cf. Cic. Off. 2.34); 62 consilio; 84 ipsum; 85 ipsis (om. cornua), cf. LXX Deut. 33:17; 106 quod; 111 <eorum>; 113 decidunt; 124 om. et; 126 dicens (or docens); 132 alios si sit ille copiosior. 3.6 conferamus; 19 negabit; 26 om. in (cf. Cic. Off. 3.42); 29 in quod...finem; 30 fabulosum; 31 om. enim (this is the idiom; and another enim follows); 33 in pugnam descenderit (cf. LXX I Kgs. 26:10); 39 pluris (Cic. Off. 3.51); 41 quasi maior (alongside the others, though their construction is very odd); 45 debent; 54 proelio; 71 tantumque; 87 om. licet; 90 utilitatis; 93 om. et; 98 captiuitate; 103 transpose aestimarentur after esse; 116 coniuentia; 121 possent; 126 del. de amicitia.

1 He is surely right to think that PVMA give a sincerer text than EWCOB. But it cannot be assumed that everything proffered by EWCOB is tainted. Testard himself (i.65 n. 1) lists places where PVM omit words present in the inferior manuscripts (add e.g. 3.35 and 41).

2 From which my citations are taken, though I have sometimes silently repunctuated.

3 [E.sup.2]'s qui is not foolish.

4 E's intelligent corrector got as far as <non> regere.

5 Add pro communibus (Cic. Off. 1.20)? 'Ramener le texte ambrosien systematiquement a l'usage ciceronien, a l'encontre des manuscrits, serait de tres mauvaise methode' (T. ii.172). T. seems to me to go too far in the other direction.

6 cf. 2.69 'his qui publice egere uerecundantur'.

7 The last part in an oddly paraphrased form.

8 The nominative could hardly stand in any case with nihil; contrast nihil frugum below.
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Author:Winterbottom, Michael
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Date:Oct 1, 1995
Words:3105
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