Interesting item by Robert Garland at History Today:
Seen on the Classicists list:
For more than 260 years, the academic publisher De Gruyter has been publishing high quality works of scholarship in all areas of the humanities and natural sciences. Today, De Gruyter publishes some 500 academic journals, offers a wide range of digital media, and releases more than 800 new titles each year – half of them in English. We are currently seeking to expand our staff with a full-time Senior Acquisitions Editor/Classical Studies in the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies department of our Berlin office, for hiring at the earliest possible date.
Your future responsibilities include:
o List management and strategic development of the program, including product development and acquisitions of books, journals, and reference works in print and online
o Full budgetary responsibility for the Classical Studies list
o Development of proposals and project calculations for new publications including responsibility for quality of content (through peer-review) and marketability
o Independent negotiation of contracts with authors, editors, and publishing partners
o Benchmarking and competitive analysis
o Development and maintenance of an international network of authors, editors, and key contacts at scholarly organizations and institutions
o Travel to academic conferences, meetings, and campuses
You should offer the following:
o PhD in the field of Classical Studies (specialization in Greek or Latin literature preferred)
o Knowledge and understanding of developments in higher education and academic publishing
o Fluent command of English
o Strong interest in and commitment to online publishing
o Strong conceptual skills and the ability to translate ideas into marketable publications
o Entrepreneurial spirit, independence, and a result-oriented attitude
o Resilience, patience, and assertiveness
o Willingness to travel extensively
We look forward to receiving your application, and to offering you an exciting professional challenge in a dynamic international working environment, a performance-based salary, and comprehensive social benefits.
Please mention job number 12041 when sending us your application with your salary expectations and earliest possible starting date, preferably via e-mail to:
bewerbung AT degruyter.com or by mail to:
Verlag Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG
Genthiner Str. 13
10785 Berlin, Germany
Seen on the Classicists list:
Further details below of the two-day interdisciplinary conference Sport and
competition in Greece and Rome at the British Museum to celebrate the return
of the Olympics to Britain. All welcome.
Date 14-15 June 2012
Laura Ambrosini, ISCIMA: Sports in ancient Etruria
Filippo Canali De Rossi: Sport in Rome
Chris Carey, UCL: Song and stone in public space
Hazel Dodge, Trinity College Dublin: Charioteer Mosaics
Mark Golden, University of Winnipeg: Olive-tinted spectacles: the mirage of
Ian Jenkins, British Museum: The discobolus
Jason König, University of St Andrews: Philostratus’ Gymnasticus and beyond:
concepts of Olympic history and Olympic continuity in imperial Greek literature
Leslie Kurke, University of California, Berkeley: Athletes and (as) Dedications
Vivienne Lo, UCL: Perfect bodies: sports medicine and immortality
Zahra Newby, University of Warwick: Sport and Identity in the Art of the
Robin Osborne, University of Cambridge: The origins of the non-competitive
Olga Palagia, University of Athens: The Motya charioteer – an alternative view
Alan Peatfield, University College Dublin: Greek combat sports: from image
Chris Pelling, University of Oxford: Bigness and Greekness: Herodotus on the
Otto Schantz, University of Koblenz: Reception of Ancient Greece in Modern
Reinhard Senff, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Athens: Ancient horse
races and the hippodrome at Olympia
Judith Swaddling, British Museum: Honouring athletes
Oliver Taplin, University of Oxford: Competition and the spread of Greek theatre
Hans Van Wees, UCL: Fighting over the Olympics: war and games in archaic and
Online booking via
A flyer is available at:
posted with permission:
Joseph Farrell and Michael C. J. Putnam, eds., A Companion to Vergil’s Aeneid and its Tradition. Malden, Mass. and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Pp. xiv + 559. Hardcover, £130.00/$209.95. ISBN 978-1-4051-7577-7.
Reviewed by Lee Fratantuono, Ohio Wesleyan University
The contemporary proliferation of companions to and readings in classical topics can be traced to Stephen Harrison’s exemplary compilation of classic articles on the Aeneid (Oxford, 1990), which set a high standard for one-volume excursions on a single ancient subject. And, in a previous generation, the late Steele Commager produced his Virgilian contribution to the “Twentieth-Century Views” collection (Prentice Hall, 1966) with similar success. The present volume is a most worthy successor to those two venerable predecessors, and, like other “Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World,” the contributions are new, not reprinted from journals common or more obscure. The Harrison and Commager volumes reprinted great masterpieces of Virgilian criticism, papers produced in seemingly simpler, not too say more innocent days for critics of Latin poetry. The papers assembled for the Farrell–Putnam volume emerge in arguably more challenging times for Virgilian scholars, both because of the tremendous advances in Virgilian Quellenforschung (due largely to Damien Nelis, a contributor to the present work, and Nicholas Horsfall), and (depending on your point of view) the light or shadow shed on Virgil by more contemporary literary approaches and theories.
Overall, these are happy days for Virgilians, not least for the forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia edited by Richard Thomas and Jan Ziolkowski. Like its massive Italian predecessor, which Farrell and Putnam reference at the start of their introduction, the Thomas–Ziolkowski work attempts nothing less than a comprehensive guide to Virgiliana. The aims of the present work are more modest, despite the omnibus title. And principal among those aims is the desire to say something new (not an easy desideratum in Virgiliana).
The Farrell–Putnam companion is easy to assess for the second part of its title, the Aeneid tradition, which actually occupies the majority of the book’s space. Fully four of the five sections of the companion are concerned with the Virgilian reception, and here there is much indeed that is new and presented in useful form. Part II is devoted to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, where Sarah Spence on the Dares and Dictys legends (surprisingly understudied) and Craig Kallendorf on “Vergil and Printed Books, 1500–1800” provide especially helpful essays. This section would have been vastly improved by a separate article on the Aeneid reception in French literature; an article on the Old French Roman would have been most welcome, let alone the pervasive influence of the Aeneid on the French Renaissance. Part V, like Part II, is more or less chronological in survey, and concerns “Modern Reactions to the Aeneid.” Here, Susanna Morton Braund offers a fascinating look at Aeneid translations that rewards close study.
Part IV is devoted to the “American Aeneid” and the reception of the poem in the history of the United States. Michèle Lowrie’s paper, “Vergil and Founding Violence,” is best here, with important consideration of the question of Roman exempla; this is the sort of article that can and should readily be assigned with profit to graduate Aeneid seminars. Indeed, Lowrie’s paper is, I would venture to say, a new classic of Aeneid criticism, one which blends the best of old and new tools of literary study, a provocative study whose implications go beyond the geographic and temporal boundaries of this section of the collection.
Part III, which focuses on the Aeneid in music and the visual arts, is probably located where it is in the collection because the subject matter largely falls in chronology between the Renaissance and the nineteenth century. This is a difficult section because of the vastness of the material, as even a cursory glance at Reid’s mammoth Oxford compendium reveals. Regrettably, here again the French are somewhat underrepresented, especially in music, though space considerations must have weighed heavily on the whole enterprise. Glenn Most’s chapter on “Laocoons” is especially noteworthy.
The book’s first section is entitled “The Aeneid in Antiquity,” and is overall the strongest of all. There is much gold to mine here: “Vergil’s Library” by Nelis; a lucid and succinct chapter on the Aeneas legend by Sergio Casali; a marvelous discussion of “Vergil’s Roman” by Jay Reed; a consideration of the theme of exilic poetry with reference to both Virgil and Ovid by Putnam; and a treatment of inconsistency and the nature of “unfinished” epic by Jim O’Hara that repays close examination.
One of the great strengths of the Harrison Oxford Readings was its superlative survey of the history of Virgilian scholarship, itself worth the price of the volume. No companion that seeks to cover as much ground as the present work can hope to produce a similar overview for the sake of the perhaps mythical general reader who will approach the collection, or for advanced undergraduate and graduate readers who suffer from feeling both lost and, perhaps, too embarassed to ask for a roadmap to an overgrown wood. If anything, the chapters of Part I of the present compilation offer the best overview to the “problem” of the Aeneid, even if the reactions to the problem in literature, music, and the arts—the whole Nachleben that Parts II-V seek to explicate, not to say control—offer too daunting a field for any one volume to handle without omission and shortchanging.
Many of the modern “companions” to antiquity, at least in hardcover incarnation, are prohibitively expensive for those who might most profit from ownership. The Farrell–Putnam Aeneid companion is not only worth the publisher’s exorbitant cost, but a book every anglophone Virgilian of these confused and confusing, yet happy and blessed days for Latin poetry enthusiasts, will cherish.
posted with permission:
Alan Kaiser, Roman Urban Street Networks. Routledge Studies in Archaeology 2. New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2011. Pp. xvii + 249. Hardcover, $125.00/£80.00. ISBN 978-0415-88657-4.
Reviewed by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, Brandeis University
The bulk of Kaiser’s book focuses on four well-known ancient cities, Pompeii, Ostia, Silchester, and Empúries, in order to provide an innovative consideration of their urban street networks. While interest in Roman thoroughfares and traffic movements has been growing in recent years (see, for example the work of Ray Laurence and David Newsome, Rome, Ostia, Pompeii: Movement and Space (Oxford, 2011)), Kaiser claims to have made the first analysis of Roman streets to combine archaeological and philological evidence (p. xv).
Kaiser’s quantitative methodology for assessing the organization of street space derives from the world of urban geography. Concepts such as “access analysis” and “space syntax,” for example (see Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson, The Social Logic of Space (Cambridge, 1984)), provide a way to study accessibility and connectivity across a Roman city. While Kaiser’s study largely confirms older suppositions about the organization of space and street networks, his data creates a conversation among these four cities through the comparisons drawn between and among them that is the most valuable feature of the book.
The introduction and the first two chapters lay out the historiography and methodology for the rest of the book. Kevin Lynch’s five elements of an urban network—“paths,” nodes,” “edges,” “landmarks,” and “districts” (Kevin Lynch, Image of the City (Cambridge, Mass., 1960)) —serve as the basis for Kaiser’s argument that the Romans came to understand their cities through “paths” (streets) leading from one type of urban environment to another.
Chapter 1, “Textual Evidence for Roman Perceptions of Streets and Plazas,” shows that the Latin names for urban thoroughfares were more culturally charged than today’s words for streets, such as alley and boulevard (p. 45). Modern names of streets are based more on physical characteristics, whereas the Romans tended to divide streets into two types: main roads (via and platea) and side streets (angiportum and semita). The Romans used main streets for social displays and categorized them accordingly.
Kaiser’s second chapter “Defining and Analyzing Street Networks in the Archaeological Record,” attempts to sharpen such generic labels as “main streets” and “side streets” by applying simple numeric data to draw conclusions about a street’s role in its city network. The first index for a street is its “depth” from outside the city in terms of how many other streets or squares one must pass through to move from the city’s edge to the street under consideration (p. 53). A street leading directly from a city gate would have a depth of one. Depth from the forum is his second index, and this involves counting the number of streets away from the forum (p. 54). The number of intersections a street shares with other streets serves as Kaiser’s third index for determining “how well a particular street integrates or segregates the streets of the city” (p. 56). Finally, Kaiser’s fourth index undertakes, to the degree the archaeological evidence allows, to assess how much a given street was open to cart traffic. Kaiser’s primary analytical tool for the depth and intersection data is a comparison between the number of different types of buildings (residential, commercial, etc.) along a given street and the number we would expect if there were an even distribution of those buildings throughout all streets of a city. To give one example of how this data plays out in terms of how streets knit cities together: at Pompeii we find that shops are disproportionately concentrated on streets with a lower depth from the city gates.
Each of the subsequent four chapters investigates a single city and puts Kaiser’s analysis to the test. Pompeii (chapter 3) Ostia (chapter 4), Silchester (chapter 5), and Empúries (chapter 6) all have a majority of their intramural area exposed through excavation. Kaiser proceeds formulaically as he outlines historical background, layout, and topography for each city; discusses the structure of the city’s streets; and then assesses how well we can identify uses of buildings along the streets from the archaeological record. Kaiser then devotes a section of each chapter to analysis of the city’s street network on the basis of the four indices spelled out above (street depth from city gates, street depth from the forum, the number of intersections a street had, and its accessibility for cart traffic). Finally, each chapter identifies and discusses the primary and secondary streets along with the forum and any plazas. Extensive tables supplement plans of the cities, and color-coded maps showing different uses of space are available at an online supplement to the book (http://faculty.evansville.edu/ak58/streets/).
The concluding chapter 7, “Streets, Space, and Roman Urbanism,” argues that the example of Neapolis/Ciudad Romana illustrates the potential for applying the book’s methodology to urban sites that are only partially excavated. The organization of space at Neapolis differed markedly from the other case studies, since the role of its agora was an integral space through which traffic moved. Kaiser hypothesizes that this phenomenon resulted from Neapolis’ Greek heritage, a point strengthened when he compares Neapolis to its immediate neighbor, Ciudad Romana, whose sparse remains nevertheless echo the previous case studies. When statistical anomalies arise in the Neapolis case study, however, Kaiser explains them away with reference to specific circumstances, which weakens his overall argument. Furthermore, the rigorous statistical analysis throughout the book might have yielded more results if used to explore tensions between the urban ideals laid out in texts and the realities played out on the ground.
Nevertheless, Kaiser’s strongest contributions come from his comparative analyses of Roman cities. Individual chapters will help scholars specializing in each city, but the book as a whole reveals urban dynamics that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Kaiser provides critical context for sites like Pompeii that can occasionally be taken as “typical” or paradigmatic for Roman urbanism. All in all, Kaiser brings a new and scientific approach to these cities and offers other scholars of Roman urbanism a strong set of tools for exploring other street networks and the placement of buildings along them. It is unfortunate that the book is so expensive and so completely bereft of photographic images of these cities. Kaiser’s approach, however, gives us new perspectives on Roman urbanism, even if some angles he pursues must remain elusive. He convincingly elucidates many problems that can arise when modern assumptions are used to explain anything in the Roman city.
posted with permission:
Francesco Ademollo, The Cratylus of Plato: A Commentary. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. xx + 538. Hardcover, £85.00/$140.00. ISBN 978-0-521-76347-9.
Reviewed by R. M. Dancy, The Florida State University
Plato’s Cratylus is about names, with Socrates as the lead speaker. There are two main theories under discussion, usually referred to as “naturalism,” according to which names do their naming through a natural connection such as resemblance between them and what they name, and “conventionalism.” The dialogue has received a good deal of attention in recent years, and will undoubtedly receive a lot more. There has been some disagreement as to whether Socrates comes out a naturalist or a conventionalist; most participants go for the latter.
For any serious study of the dialogue, this book is indispensible. It is a running commentary on virtually every line of the dialogue; all that is left out is a few passages containing etymologies (the gist of these passages is reported). Everything commented on is translated; often Greek text is included. Despite the translation, the book will be difficult for the Greekless, since a great deal depends on the interpretation of the Greek. And the translation, although unquestionably an improvement on existing ones, could not be detached for separate use, as Ademollo acknowledges, e.g. on p. 118:
… it is hard to devise a translation of the terms νόμος and νομοθέτης in our dialogue that will both sound convincing and mirror the fact that the latter contains the former. I have rendered νόμος as ‘custom’ and νομοθέτης as ‘lawgiver’ throughout; but that, strictly speaking, makes Socrates’ argument unintelligible.
And it should be added for the benefit of the Greeked that occasionally it will be very handy to have the 1993 OCT by your side, since even where the Greek is quoted, line numbers are not included within the text, and Ademollo refers to the text using them. But this is not insurmountable even without having the text available. (E.g., on p. 157 Ademollo, having given a translation of 393a1–b6, says “The heart of the passage is at lines a5–b1,” but there is nothing in his translation marking these lines; still, you can tell from what he goes on to say which part of the passage is in question.)
Ademollo provides a bibliography including hundreds of entries in various languages and a very serviceable index.
As far as I can tell, there is not an issue of any importance for the understanding of the Cratylus that is ignored. Very little is taken for granted, and by and large, Ademollo’s readings are convincing. They are hardly uncontentious, but they can never be rejected lightly.
Ademollo opts, quite persuasively, for the conventionalist reading (pp. 423–4 et passim). But not everything is quite so persuasive. For example, Ademollo ascribes to Socrates what he calls (p. 3) “the ‘Redundancy Conception’ of correctness” of names:
(R) ‘N’ is a correct name of X =df ‘N’ is a name of X.
This may look toothless. But Ademollo takes it to entail that
There are, strictly speaking, no degrees of correctness: as one name cannot be more of a name than another, so one name cannot be more correct than another.
This thesis is ubiquitous in Ademollo’s book. He cites a passage he takes to confirm (R) (see the index s.v. “correctness of names, Redundancy Conception of”). But one must note that (R) runs against the views of some of the best interpreters of the Cratylus, e.g. David Sedley (see pp. 151–2), and also seems to run against a number of passages in which Socrates is apparently saying that one name is more correct than another (e.g. 391e–392d, where the dispute with Sedley sets in). Ademollo explains some of these passages as “cases in which he [i.e., Socrates] adopts an innocuous façon de parler devoid of any serious theoretical significance” (p. 151; also p. 3). This dismissal is not altogether convincing; I have no doubt there will be dissent in the literature to come.
Ademollo claims that the theory of flux (everything in the universe is in constant change), which Socrates takes to underpin the naturalist reading of the correctness of names, and rejects, is entirely a matter of motion in space (pp. 210–15), and that context-relativity, which figures in other dialogues such as the Theaetetus as fitting in with the theory of flux, has nothing to do with it (p. 233). This needs more support than Ademollo supplies.
As for the etymologies that play such a large (and to a modern reader often tedious) part of the dialogue, Ademollo quite plausibly argues that they are intended seriously (pp. 237–41). But as to the question what their serious purport is, he opts for saying that they function in the way that Plato’s myths do. Obscurum per obscurius? Anyway, it is less than fully persuasive.
Occasionally a little too much time is spent on details that don’t seem to cut much ice. E.g., there is a long discussion (pp. 107–10, including a photograph of a vase painting) concerning the proper translation of κερκίς; Ademollo contends, quite possibly correctly, that the standard “shuttle” is wrong, and opts for “pin-beater.” But having commented that “students of Plato are curiously loath to acknowledge” the mistranslation, it turns out that it makes no real difference to the argument of the dialogue, and Ademollo summarily drops it.
But none of these cavils counts against the overall value of what is in fact an extremely good book; it sets a high standard for philosophical and philological commentary.
Interesting feature from Tunisia Live:
Her story ends in suicide, caught up in the flames of a funeral pyre. Scholars of ancient literature know it well, Virgil’s tragic tale of a lustful Queen of Tyre, in the epic poem the Aeneid. But less well-known is the legend, passed down in oral form, of a heroine who through courage and determination founded a city to rival Rome, and who refused to let herself be subject to men, even at the cost of her life.
Dido, or Elissa, as she is known in the legend, was said to be a Phoenician princess who fled Tyre when her brother, the king, murdered her husband. Rather than bemoaning her lot, she took her companions and set sail for North Africa. When she reached Tunisia, she used her wit to gain control of the area of Carthage by getting locals to promise her whatever she could fit within the hide of an ox. She cut the ox’s throat and had her traveling companions cut the hide into thin strips, placing them around the perimeter of the city.
Dido founded Carthage, populating it by organizing the marriage of her male companions and a group of virgins from Cyprus. But when a Berber ruler demanded that she marry him or he would wage war on her city, she killed herself in the heat of battle rather than be subjected to his authority.
In contrast, the Roman tale promoted the image of imperial Rome and cast Dido as a slighted woman who couldn’t live without her man. Aeneas, after escaping Troy, falls in love with Dido. But the god Jupiter tells him he must leave to fulfill his destiny. Dido, crazed with love, curses the Trojans just before she stabs herself in the heart. According to the Aeneid, Aeneas would go on to found Rome.
Many scholars agree that Rome used Dido and Aeneas’ ill-fated love story to justify their actions during the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome. Some have even suggested that Dido’s desire for Aeneas symbolized a twisted view that the colony desired the colonizer, desired domination.
In modern-day Carthage, Tunisia, Dido’s name is attached to everything from restaurants to beauty parlors to wine. A search for “Didon Tunisie” (French for Dido Tunisia) reveals a dental surgery company and a hotel as the first hits. Dido has become a cultural icon in Tunisia, comparable to Joan of Arc in France.
But there is a difference. Dido, also known as Elissa, is part of the heritage of a country where patriarchy is the cultural norm. The fact that as a woman, she founded one of Tunisia’s most important cities, is significant.
Nejet M’Chala, a Tunisian professor of literature says that today Elissa represents “feminine wisdom and inventiveness, care for the other…a creative empowered woman.” Children read her story at school, she says, and learn what it means to be “a courageous, smart woman.”
“Today women identify with Dido as an icon of self-determination and freedom…She is the icon of basic human rights.”
In his 1980’s novel “Elissa La Reine Vagabonde” (Elissa the Vagabond Queen), Franco-Tunisian writer Fawzi Mellah gives the tale of Dido a breath of new life by using the story to comment on modern Tunisia. On page 71, he speaks of Dido’s desire for the new city she would build, “A fragile, maternal land. Not a fatherland (who was it who invented that absurd term?). It was a motherland that I desired; If need be, I would invent it.” Some have interpreted Mellah’s words as his way of voicing his own disapproval at the patrimony and marginalization of women in the public sphere in his home country.
In 2010, Jeune Afrique wrote an article about women in Tunisia. It compared Dido to all the women in Tunisia that have come after her, “who have shone in the sky of this country,” to make Tunisian women “the freest, the most educated and most active of the Maghreb region – of the Middle East.”
But after the Revolution, women’s rights groups have kept a close watch on how the female population is treated in the new Tunisia. Activists and politicians like Ahlem Belhadj, the President of the Tunisian Association for Democratic Women, say that Tunisia’s struggle for equality is not over.
In this confusing modern era, Dido, and her story of bravery and creativity, becomes even more relevant. As M’Chala explained, Elissa represents equality in both society and politics. It’s this story, and its message, that has lasted through the ages, inspiring generations in the country she chose to call home.
Mary Beard reviews:
- Timothy M. O’Sullivan, WALKING IN ROMAN CULTURE
- Ray Laurence and David J. Newsome, editors, ROME, OSTIA, POMPEII
- Robert A. Kaster,THE APPIAN WAY
… in the Times Literary Supplement: Walk like a Roman
From the Gothamist:
An immigrant from the former Yugoslavia who has worked as a janitor for Columbia University for 20 years has finally earned his bachelor’s degree in classics, with honors. The Daily News reports that while you were concerned with catching up on Boardwalk Empire and content to remain in the same, midlevel job because “the economy just isn’t right yet,” Gac Filipaj toiled day and night, first taking classes to learn English then courses in the classics department at the Ivy League university. “Only half my dream come true,” Filipaj says, with an earnestness that kills a million photos of cats drawn in steamed milk. “Today, one ought to have a master’s or a Ph.D.”
Filipaj took advantage of Columbia’s tuition benefit for its employees and took classes in the morning then cleaned the school from 2:30 to 11 p.m., hitting the books right around when you usually finished your last jalepeno popper and drained a BL Lime at trivia night at some bar whose name you’ll forget in 8 months. “He just loves what he’s learning,” dean of students Phil Mendoza says.
“I think I’m going to stay at Columbia,” Filipaj says of his future. The janitor took two days vacation to celebrate his achievement, which is the same amount of time you took off to “recuperate” from your eight-day trip to Cabo. “If I can get a job better than cleaning, good. If not, there is nothing shameful about that work.”
As for whether his story is unique, Filipaj seems sheepish.“If my story and the fact at this age I am graduating helps people to think about getting an education, it’s for a good cause.”
- via: Janitor Works 20 Years To Earn Columbia Classics Degree For Free (Gothamist)
In a followup article in the same paper (which also includes a video interview) Filipaj notes:
Asked what the most difficult part of his academic and professional journey has been, Filipaj declines to mention the pressure of financially supporting his family back home while he betters himself with highly refined, esoteric knowledge, or the bizarre duality of cleaning bathrooms and studying while his classmates were playing Halo and overdrafting into their parents’ checking accounts. “The most difficult thing is ancient Greek—it’s just a killer! Latin is a little bit easier, at least for me.
- via: Janitor Who Earned Columbia BA Says Hardest Part Was “Ancient Greek” (Gothamist)
… I can sympathize with a lot of that …