Menander Rhetor’s two treatises of instructions for composing epideictic speeches contain many errors and problems in the Greek text. Thanks, however, to the efforts of a series of editors and scholars, the text presented here makes sense in most places.
The first editor, a young German named Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren (1760–1842), published Menandri Rhetoris Commentarius de Encomiis in 1785. It consisted of a text of Treatise I based on the Aldine edition (1508) but with extensive emendations and critical notes. Later, in a biographical letter, he told of his encounter with Menander:
- In reading through the Rhetors of Aldus, however, for my collection of [lyric] fragments, I had stumbled upon a dissertation de Encomiis by Menander, a Greek rhetor, which as yet the hand of no critic had disturbed; indeed the work itself had been improperly confounded with that of another rhetor named Alexander. Some happy corrections of the very corrupted text led me to entertain the notion of giving an edition of this work. I bent myself therefore to the task; every new emendation spurred
- me onwards, and thus was consumed nearly the whole of the year 1784. The next question was, where I should find a publisher? I went with my manuscript to the since deceased Dieterich, who now, for the first time in his life, heard the name of Menander the rhetor. “Young man,” said he, when I had explained to him the object of my visit, “no one will ever read this.” As however I asked for no pay, and as we were already on friendly terms, he undertook my work and “Menander Rhetor de Encomiis, ex recensione,” etc. 1785, was placed before the public. It was the first critical labour of a young classic, done without any help from manuscripts, consequently very incomplete. Nevertheless it was something; and the good Menander might bless his kind fortune that had sent him such a sospitator; seeing that his pretensions to one were but very small.1
The subsequent editions of Walz (1836), Spengel (1856), Bursian (1882), and Russell-Wilson (1981) made many improvements, the latter of greatest importance, since it combined the skills of an outstanding textual critic (Nigel Wilson) with the broad knowledge of rhetoric by a foremost scholar of ancient literary criticism (Donald Russell). Their edition, which includes the first complete translation of Menander into a modern language,2 contains a full