CULPEPPER STROUP, Sarah,
Catullus, Cicero, and a Society of Patrons. The Generation of the Text.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2015. First paperback edition. XIV,308p. Paperback. As we might expect, literary request and response had a long history at Rome. Sarah Culpepper Stroup’s book tells its story, both the developmental narrative and the cultural workings of dedicated texts. Focusing on the late Republic, Stroup slows down these moments of social interaction, stretching them out, inspecting each possible step or misstep, and thereby illuminating the 'socio-practical' contexts of textual reciprocity - dedication and (implicit) exchange. Her fellow-travelers are Catullus and Cicero, though that says too little and too much: she ranges from archaic Greek poetry to authors of the high Empire, while her Cicero is primarily the Cicero of de Oratore and Brutus, with frequent nods to other dialogues ('technica' is her term), letters, and speeches. (...) The intricacies of dedication form the basis for conclusions about the textual culture in the 50s and 40s BCE, hence the subtitle, with its dual meanings, “The Generation of the Text.” The main argument, in short, turns on the claim that these two authors self-consciously shaped their literary or political afterlives through the texts they left to posterity. The emphasis follows naturally on the rising interest in literary reception and has long been a problem to those observing or participating in canon formation: where to locate agency in the crafting of an individual’s legacy and post-mortem interpretation. (...) Stroup cites sufficient evidence to support her thesis about the late Republic’s culture of the text. Its validity rests in some measure on the success of Cicero (and to a lesser extent Catullus) to exert a lasting influence on later authors. Thus, Stroup rightly emphasizes the reception of the Brutus in Tacitus’s Dialogus, while according too much influence to that one forerunner. Only this restricted focus can make Tacitus the fulfillment of the terms Cicero laid out some 150 years earlier. Tacitus acknowledges Cicero’s overweening presence in Rome’s intellectual history by engaging with many of his dialogues and speeches. Yet he is no straightforward partisan of Cicero’s perspectives on either the Republic or oratory. Still, the competing messages of the epigone only partially qualify Stroup’s teleology. Tacitus points up Cicero’s calculated stranglehold on Roman eloquentia as he provides every argument to move beyond it. In summary, scholars will find much to think about in this book’s examination of the late Republic’s textual culture.' (CHRISTOPHER S. VAN DEN BERG in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.04.12).