Reitzenstein Poimandres 1904 -- my protest
danielrr at mad.servicom.es
Mon Jul 20 06:14:21 EDT 1998
To prove that an egg is an egg may take either a few or too many
words, and I would rather prefer not to go ahead with this thread. But I
shall not endure to be treated like Mr. E. Hobbs did in public. Therefore,
I shall (a) respond to the *content* of the question of this thread, viz,
that Reitzenstein published an edition of the Poimandres in 1904, and (b)
I'll comment on Edward Hobbs protest.
Edward Hobbs wrote:
>The book, the original 1904 edition of which I examined (a 1966 reprint
>of which Mr. Rian~o says he has), and have used in seminars I co-taught
>at Harvard, IS a collection (of over 300 pages) of his "critical studies
>of the relationships between Graeco-Egyptian literature and early Christian
>literature," as I wrote in my first post. It also has about 32 pages of
>"selections printed which are related to his studies of them,"
>to quote myself again. The book has 389 printed numbered pages (vii +
>382), which means that his printing of chapters 1, 13, 16, & 18 make
>up about 8% of the volume. This is not called an "edition of Poimandres"
>at Harvard, but a volume of essays with selections. Today we would call
>this "Essays on Poimandres, together with excerpts from the text itself."
>This volume by Reitzenstein is rightly regarded as the beginning of genuine
>academnic work on Hermetic literature, and I prize it as much as anyone else
>might. But it is not normally classed as an "edition of Poimandres,"
R. Reitzenstein "Poimandres," Leipzig. 1904 contains an edition of
the first treatise of the Corpus Hermeticum, the so called "Poimandres"
(see pages 328-338): this is the third time I make such a simple statement.
And three times E. Hobbs wrote in this forum that there's no edition of
such treatise in that book.
Is it so difficult to say wether some text written on paper is a
critical edition or some other thing?. In my opinion, not, or at least not
in this case. For those two or three Listmembers who didn't suspended the
lecture of my posting to run to their University library I'll tell you what
you can see in pp. 319 ff. of the book: The author tells us which
manuscripts were used by previous editors and discusses their use of the
manuscripts and some aspects of their work (p. 321 ff.); Later he describes
the 5 main manuscripts of the text and the "recentiores" (p. 323 ff.), he
makes some remarks on his editorial principles (pp. 325 ss.), and list the
abbreviations used in the critical apparatus (p. 327). Then, on pp. 328-338
Reitzenstein prints all the text of the first treatise of the Corpus
Hermeticum: the "Poimandres". Not bites or excerpts of it, but all the text
of the treatise, from the title down to the last word. Occupying almost the
bottom half of every page there is a splendid, very complete critical
And now the question nobody-is-going-to-give-you-a-million-for: Is
this really an edition of the Poimandres, done by Reitzenstein and
published in Leipzig 1904? I say yes it is, as clear as birds fly. But Mr.
Hobbs, after re-reading the book, maybe for the 100th time for his classes,
the pages worn for the frequent use, raises his head from the book and
says: "No, we don't call this an edition of Poimandres here at Harvard."
At this point, somebody with better English than mine could try
different approaches to argue with E. Hobbs. Maybe he demands from him to
define his concepts and ask him on what assumption do anybody can tell that
the total volume of pages occupied in a printed book, or the contents of
the rest of the book, is a relevant criterion to decide whether a text is a
critical edition or not. Maybe somebody cold try to adduce some parallels,
and argue something like: "in many of the editions of Philodemus the text
edited is but a small part of the whole book, and Heat's edition of a
treatise from Aristarchus occupies the final pages of his study on the
Astronomer (Th. Heath, "Aristarchus of Samos, the ancient Copernicus; a
history of Greek astronomy to Aristarchus, together with Aristarchus's
Treatise on the sizes and distances of the sun and moon" Oxford: 1913) to
quote just an example among dozens (by the way, Nock's edition of the
Poimandres is only 7,6% of the 195+53 = 248 pages of the first volume of
his edition of the Corpus Hermeticum (treatises I-XII). He could try to
produce some authorities: Reitzenstein edition is presented as such in many
reference works (and if somebody is really interested in the exact
references, I can look it up and post it to the list); He could even try to
argue using the 'reductio ad absurdum': If somebody in 1910 decided to
write on Gnosticism and to quote Reitzenstein's text, then it would have
been necessary for him to say "I follow Reitzenstein collection of essays",
instead of saying "I follow Reitzenstein's edition". But I am afraid that
nothing will do. And I wont waste another bit on this subject.
Now I must protest firmly because of Mr. Hobbs last posting, which
I consider a reprehensible intent of victimization.
Mr. Hobbs wrote:
>With some astonishment and puzzlement, I find that Daniel Rian~o has posted
>an attack on my veracity or competence (or both) , including
> "...posting of E. Hobbs re: Poimandres...was wrong, as he is now."
> "The edition whose existence E. Hobbs so obstinately tries to deny...
>Such language is taboo on this List, as we have repeatedly made clear;
Attack on what? If I take out every preposition, conjunction or
absolutely innocent word from the first line, then I find that "wrong" is
the only word that E. Hobbs can find objectionable, but: is really taboo in
this list to say that somebody (even one of the Chairs of the List) is
wrong? And I am not speaking of controversial points of theology or
grammar, but simple factual questions: because either me or Mr. Hobbs is
wrong, and if I am proven wrong here, I will not take it as an attack on
anything. On the other hand: Does anybody expects from the best scholar to
be always right on every matter?
And what about "obstinate"? Maybe this is not a question of simply
a word, but it is the expression I used what sounds different for the ear
of a non English speaker. Now I feel like little Moll Flanders using the
word "gentlewoman" in a way very different from her interlocutors. Then let
me put it in another way: we are not really dealing here with a difficult
question to solve: anybody who knows Greek and knows what a critical
edition is can go to a library, ask for the book, open it by page 328 and
check by himself whether or not there's an edition of the Poimandres there.
If there is not, I have been insisting in my statement beyond what is
reasonable because it was very simple to check its correction and because I
was contradicting in public somebody; but if the edition is printed as I
say, then Mr. Hobbs has been insisting in his statement beyond what is
reasonable, for the very same reason. And if I am proved wrong, I hereby
declare that I won't take Mr. Hobbs post of 12 Jul 1998 as "an attack on my
veracity or competence".
And now, I find funny that one of the chairs of this list find so
offensive my words "wrong, obstinate", but he finds right and appropriate
for a co-chair of a List to tell that I am wrong when I say that "The text
was edited by Reitzenstein in 1904" because I have " not actually looked at
the volume". I find strange that he considers "wrong, obstinate" taboo
words in the List, but his owns expressions: "preposterous, attack on my
veracity, insulting language, rude attack" accommodates to the best
Netiquette. I find completely unacceptable his presentation of the facts,
and his protest (beginning with a calling to the "Colleagues") out of
place. If he publishes in this List that I am wrong and writes that I don't
know the book I am talking about, he must expect either my confession that
I answered the question without foundation or that I am right and he is
>and it is especially puzzling coming from Mr. Rian~o, whose request to
>publish an ad on this List was approved by Jonathan, Carl and myself,
>and at Rian~o's request, I translated his submitted text into good English.
>His response was to post the language quoted above, together with an
>altogether preposterous "hypothesis" to explain my "obstinacy".
I'll pass in silence more general consideration about the quoted
lines and I will restrain myself to its relation with this particular case.
First I must beg any of the main responsibles of this respected List to
explain me what on Hearth has to do my correspondence about Reitzenstein's
Poimandres with my asking to Jonathan Robie for permission to publish a
notice on a book relevant for the list. I did not ask E. Hobbs to correct
my English or expected him to be the one to do the job, I did not expected
the Listowner to publish the note for any other reasons but to present a
book many listmembers may find very utile (BTW I am not any of the authors,
or the collaborators, neither I have an economic interest in the book).
Moreover I don't consider offensive anything I said about him, but
specially I can't understand why I am presented here as a villain that used
" insulting language" against somebody who was so kind to translate into
good English a different posting (something I didn't knew was to be done by
him, but I recognized publicly and thanked in the proper place).
I didn't expect a revision of the text to be such an ordeal, but in
any case, what was Mr. Hobbs expecting in reward? Eternal and absolute
loyalty to his words to my last years? Am I supposed to agree with him if
he says that Reitzenstein didn't edited the Poimandres just because he once
improved parts of a text of mine? Shall I endure everything he wants to say
in public about my veracity because once he rightly put "appearance" where
I wrongly wrote "apparition", because he found a synonym for
"repertorium"?. In any case, as I said, nothing of what I said in that post
can be reasonably taken as a personal attack on him.
Edward Hobbs wrote:
>And the FACT of the matter is that---
> I was not wrong, but exactly correct in my statement that the volume is:
> "a collection of his [Reitzenstein's] essays, with some
> selections printed which are related to his studies of them.
> It is not regarded as an edition of Poimandres."
This is as obvious as gratuitous. Nobody in this list (certainly
not me) has ever denied that, and I explicitly said that the book also
contained "another studies in 'Griechisch-Aegyptischen u. fruehchristlichen
literatur' ". This is not the fact of this matter. [BTW I am assuming here
that the word "essay" has a very different meaning in English and Spanish
("ensayo") because Sp. "ensayo" doesn't fit the nature of Reiztenstein's
studies, but "essay" must do since E. Hobbs uses it; that's not a problem].
>HOWEVER: My chief purpose is not to prove the accuracy of my description,
>to protest the insulting language of Mr. Rian~o's post. Carl and I have both
>on occasion been the objects of rude attacks, which is awkward for us to
>respond to, as Chairs of the List. I have been wrong many times in my life;
>this is not one of them. And I have been obstinate; but I have never
>obstinately denied the existence of a book which I am holding in my hand,
>and have studied for many years.
As I said before, my language was not intended as an offense, but
as a clarification of a very simple matter and, I must say, as an evidence
that I wasn't speaking without even knowing the books; and that's something
Mr. Hobbs wrote before I send the message he reprobates, but he doesn't
find necessary to quote his words. (BTW, nobody said that he's denying the
existence of a book, but an edition and (critical) "edition" of a text
doesn't equate with "book", to the best of my knowledge).
I have never insulted anybody in public, even less have I attacked
anybody's veracity or competence, and of course never because of such a
trivial question. The whole matter could have been better resolved in
private, but E. Hobbs decided to take it to the whole list without ever
writing to me in private about it. He is one of the chairs of the List and
I can no longer feel comfortable in this marvelous list if I don't clarify
my position with the same public who read his posting. I beg the
listmembers to read the archives re this thread in chronological order
(http://franklin.oit.unc.edu) to come to their own conclusions. I hope this
is the last word about the matter to be heard in this list.
I expect to remain in good terms with Edward Hobbs in the future,
and I'll continue to learn from him from his posting as I did in the past.
María Luz Rufilanchas
c. Rosalía de Castro 57
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