More Antiquities on the Mentor?

According to the Greek Reporter, there are at least some coins (?):

The underwater shipwreck excavation of the wreck of the ship Mentor, that sank off the island of Kythera in 1802 while carrying goods plundered from the Parthenon by British diplomat Lord Elgin has proved to be a treasure trove of personal items from the passengers and crew.

A greater number of coins were also found, at least two ancient silver coins which were antiquities acquired by Elgin, passengers or the crew,along with two gold coins, used as currency at the time, from the late 1700’s. Other coins were also recovered but require conservation before they can be identified. Some of these may also be ancient.

Finding three ancient coins on the wreck last year created international news, prompting a question about what other antiquities Elgin was transporting, in addition to crates of Parthenon marbles and sculptures. There may be even more questions from this year’s finds, after conservation of currently unidentified coins is completed.

Another pistol was recovered, a fob (pocket) watch, personal seal with a cannon on it and gold chain, a pipe, ring, part of navigation instruments, bottles, musket balls, cannon balls, crockery and ceramics possibly from the galley (kitchen) area. The Mentor was a small Brig, carrying 16 crates of Parthenon sculptures and a marble throne, en-route to Malta and then the United Kingdom.

Diaries from the time reveal that the Parthenon sculptures and marble throne were recovered by sponge divers from Simi and Kalymnos in 1802-1804 but it’s unknown what else remains buried on the bottom of the sea, near Avlemonas.

Dimitris Kourkoumelis, an archaeologist in Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is going to give a speech on Nov. 26 in the auditorium of the National Archaeological Museum on the Mentor Shipwreck at Kythera, will be held on the occasion of the lecture program organized by the Association of Friends of National Archaeological Museum.

CJ Online Review: Archibald, et al., Economies of Hellenistic Societies

posted with permission:

The Economies of Hellenistic Societies, Third to First Centuries BC. Edited by Zosia H. Archibald, John K. Davies, and Vincent Gabrielson. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. xvi + 460. Hardcover, £89.00/$165.00. ISBN 978-0-19-958792-6.

Reviewed by Stanley M. Burstein, California State University, Los Angeles

For much of the twentieth century the Hellenistic Period was the orphan of Greek historiography. As late as the 1990s Greek history textbooks followed Grote’s example and ended with the death of Alexander the Great. Recent years, however, have seen renewed interest in Hellenistic studies, and one of the most active areas of research has been economic history. The Economies of Hellenistic Societies is a notable addition to this growing body of scholarship.

The volume contains the proceedings of a conference entitled “Demand Creation and Economic Flows” held in Copenhagen in September 2006. The conference was the third in a series planned to contribute to the reconsideration of the nature of the Hellenistic economy by producing “detailed evidence based studies” of institutions, sites, regions and other features. The ultimate goal of the project is that from such detailed studies general patterns of economic behavior will emerge that will permit scholars to escape the sterile dichotomy between the modernizing views of M. I. Rostovtzeff and the substantivism of M. I. Finley that has bedeviled study of the Hellenistic economy for most of the last century.

As the reference to “economies” instead of “economy” in the title indicates, the emphasis in the conference and its proceedings was on the diversity of economic activity in the Hellenistic Period. As a result, no single theme unites the nineteen papers in the collection. Nevertheless, three tendencies recur in the papers: a focus on studying economic behavior from the bottom up; concern for the institutional framework in which economic activity takes place; and emphasis on sources of demand instead of supply. Their geographical and chronological range is broad, dealing with the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea and their hinterlands from the third to the first centuries BC. Equally broad is the range and character of topics. The volume includes intensive analyses of individual inscriptions, studies of local economies such as J. D. Davies’ account of how Ephesus achieved prosperity over a period of centuries by consistently pursuing policies that sought balance between the various sea and land powers that might threaten it, and Gary Reger’s use of coinage distributions to identify local economies in the Aegean, and papers that treat broader themes. Examples of the latter are Zosia Archibald’s perceptive study of connections between labor mobility and economic innovation in the period, J. G. Manning’s innovative use of social network theory to explicate the complicated business activities of the recluse Ptolemaios and the organization of Ptolemaic elephant hunting, and R. J. van der Spek’s use of comparative data from Ming China to illuminate the problems caused by the persistent need to import silver in Hellenistic Babylonia.

Four papers, moreover, stand out for the novelty and significance of their conclusions. Drawing on evidence provided by the Ps. Aristotelian, Oeconomica, Alain Bresson demonstrates in “Grain from Cyrene” that the famous Cyrenean grain inscription does not refer to gifts of grain but to grants of the right to purchase grain to cities with privileged ties to Cyrene during the famine of the early 320’s BC. In “The Economy of Koile Syria After the Seleucid Conquest: An Archaeological Contribution” Lisa Hannestad shows that the archaeological evidence indicates that the Seleucid conquest of Koile Syria was followed by a period of prosperity instead of impoverishment as might be expected. Similarly, John Lund demonstrates in “Rhodian Transport Amphorae as a Source for Economic Ebbs and Flows in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Century B.C.” that the decade-by-decade distribution of stamped Rhodian amphora handles suggests that the Roman establishment of Delos as a free port in 166 BC did not have a negative impact on the Rhodian wine trade. Finally, Christel Müller argues convincingly in “Autopsy of a Crisis: Wealth, Protogenes, and the City of Olbia in 200 BC” that the famous Olbian decree honoring Protogenes (IOSPE 12, 32) reflects a liquidity crisis at Olbia and not simply the prominence of the rich in the Hellenistic Period.

The Economies of Hellenistic Societies is a valuable contribution to Hellenistic studies. One may have legitimate doubts about the ultimate success of the program of which it is a part; experience suggests that the accumulation of uncoordinated detailed studies tends to hinder rather than promote synthesis. Be that as it may, the individual papers are of outstanding quality and will be of interest to everyone interested in Hellenistic history.

Dionysus in Australia

Some hype from the Sydney Morning Herald:

AS HEROIC gods go, Dionysus would fit right into Sydney: god of the grape harvest, bringer of culture and ritual ecstasy, he was the mythological inspiration for Alexander the Great, the 4th century BC Macedonian king and spreader of civilisations who is being honoured with his own blockbuster exhibition in our city on Saturday.

Dionysus, or at least his marble likeness cast in Rome in the second century AD based on the Greek BC original, arrived at the Australian Museum last week.

His tall, bespectacled courier, Andrey Nikolaev, looked a little weary after almost a week accompanying Dionysus over rail, sea and air only for museum staff to finally decide the two-metre tall, 1.5-tonne statue, which can only be moved by the base, was too fragile to part so soon from the wooden crate.

St Petersburg, home of the statue, has no cargo planes, so beginning on November 7, Nikolaev had chaperoned Dionysus by train to Helsinki, then ferry across the Baltic Sea to Travemunde, Germany; another train to Amsterdam; then a Boeing 747 to Frankfurt, Mumbai and Hong Kong; and finally a second Boeing 747, arriving in Sydney on November 13. Having sat in the crate for a day or two to acclimatise on the Australian Museum’s exhibition floor, Dionysus – joined on his plinth in the 18th century by a smaller marble statue bearing a dubious likeness of Persephone or Cora, wife of the ruler of the underworld – met with approval when workers drilled away the wooden crate screws and removed the door.
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Why was this god of the grape so important to Alexander the Great? ”Because Dionysus is not just the god of wine, he also is a god of inspiration,” said Anna Trofimova, the head of classical antiquities at The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. ”He was the god, the Greeks believe, that brought culture to different peoples in a lot of countries.”

More to the point, Dionysus was the ”guiding star” for Alexander, who in turn brought civilisation, founded cities and spread Greek language and art from the Mediterranean to Central Asia and India. Alexander was the ”first political leader who thought on the scale of the planet”.

Whether Alexander’s death at the age of 32 was due to fever or poisoning is open to conjecture, but Dr Trofimova is certain of Alexander’s legacy.

”The dream of Alexander, and I believe in it, was unity of mankind between east and western people. His belief in civilisation, this is a great lesson for us; especially important in our days when west and east are very, very sensitive.”

… the original article has an interesting little video where you can watch the workers trying to figure out how best to unpack the thing …

CJ Online Review: Davis, Companion to Horace

posted with permission:

A Companion to Horace. Edited by Gregson Davis. Oxford, Chichester, and Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Pp. xiv + 464. Hardcover, £156.00/$209.95. ISBN 978-1-4051-5540-3.

Reviewed by Timothy S. Johnson, College of Charleston

Horace’s literary career spans thirty years from the final years of the republic to the middle years of the principate. He wrote in four different poetic modes. Any collection taking the title “Companion” to Horace faces the challenge of conveying his breadth and ingenuity. In this case, the challenge is well met.

There are nineteen contributors, who together represent thirty years of Horatian studies (William Anderson, Ronnie Ancona, David Armstrong, Phebe Bowditch, Susanna Braund, Jenny Clay, Andrea Cucchiarelli, Gregson Davis, Lowell Edmunds, Kirk Freudenburg, Bernard Frischer, Leon Golden, W. R. Johnson, Michèle Lowrie, David Mankin, Michael Putnam, William Race, Catherine Schlegel, Hans Peter Syndikus). While roughly maintaining a chronological order (the Satires are delayed), the collection moves in logical fashion from Horace’s “Social Contexts” (issues of self-representation and amicitia) to poetic types (lyric [epodes
and odes]; sermo [satires and epistles]), and then to reception. The whole ends where Horace likely did—with the Ars Poetica. Although each chapter fits well the general design, rather than give short snippets on each contribution, I offer the following sampler to give a taste of the collection’s quality and the various questions it raises.

William Anderson (“Horace’s Friendship: Adaptation of a Circular Argument,” 33–52) reminds that Horace’s professed interactions with Maecenas and Augustus are more complex than is conveyed by “circle,” defined as “Latin writers … focused around a man of distinction and centered by a system of mutual benefits” (34). If “circle” is a helpful metaphor at all, then Anderson suggests it should be Horace’s circle, because the poet groups his addressees around no one else but himself. Anderson disdains reading between the lines. For example, Horace’s naming of Vergil as his alter in S. 1.5 (maybe a sly reference to Eclogue 5) and the amusing exchange of insults by the parasites (while Horace was on a trip with his patron Maecenas and may have been writing his own iambics), as well as Trebatius’ advice that Horace stop his Satires and write instead praise for Caesar (S. 2.1) are too sketchy to be evidence. There may be some value in such conservatism: trying to peek behind the veil of ancient literary relationships, “friendships,” often pushes the imagination beyond reality. Then again being too cautious lessens our literary fun by causing us to miss the poet’s artful manipulation. Overall, Anderson takes Horace’s “ego-centric” statements of independence at face-value—but should we?

In “Horace and Imperial Patronage” (53–74) Bowditch argues, as before (2001), that Rome can be identified as what anthropologists call a gift economy and that this shapes how Horace talks about his own patronage. Here again she makes clear that even his most blatant reference to his own writing for profit (Epist 2.2.46–52) does not allow us easily to objectify his poetry as commodity. This is worth hearing, but it is hard to escape the poetry/commodity paradigm. For example, Bowditch states the fundamental problem: Horace equivocates between being a “grateful recipient” and “delicately negotiating his independence.” But why use the word “delicately” (“deftly,” 58), which itself implies a certain understanding of literary patronage, that some degree of deference needed to be maintained? Do we really know this? Horace much of the time, as illustrated in Epist. 2.2.46–52, is downright edgy about patronage and puts us on edge about its attendant attachments (cf., “oppressive alliances,” gravis … amicitias, C. 2.1.3–4). There is nothing delicate about this. Horace says that he would rather drink hemlock than sell his services any longer, and since people constantly change their minds about what poetic dish to order, Florus can be the one to wait on them. The younger Horace could be equally sharp. Bowditch cites Horace’s “tender” acknowledgement of Maecenas’s benefaction, “enough and more than enough” (satis superque, Epode 1.31; auctius … melius, S. 2.6.3–4), but it is missed that Horace also turns and uses the same language in his confrontation with Canidia (dedi satis superque poenarum tibi, Epode 17.19). How does this complicate matters to pull together Maecenas and Canidia (E. Oliensis, Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority (Cambridge 1998) 76–91)?

When Gregson Davis (“Defining a Lyric Ethos: Archilochus lyricus and Horatian melos,” 105–27) faces the fundamental problem of characterizing Archilochean/Parian iambic, how to conceive of it and Horace’s adaptation of it as an organic whole (Parios ego primos iambos / ostendi Latio, numeros animosque secutus / Archilochi, non res agentia verba Lykamben, Epist. 1.19.23b–25), he takes a sidestep. He simply designates those poems in Archilochus that do not appear to be heavily invested in blame as non-iambic (see also David Mankin’s contribution, 96–7), and Horatian lyric has an affinity with this non-iambic Archilochus. Bifurcating Archilochus simplifies the comparison to Horatian lyric, but it says little about how Horace conceptualized in any positive way the iambic spirit (animos Archilochi) and conveyed it in his lyrics. All that is left for an explanation is a coincidence in certain themes (125–6) between the “non-iambic” Archilochus, if this is a meaningful category, and Horace’s lyric. In other words, must Archilochus lyricus not be Archilochus iambicus in order to be identified with Horatian melos? This question goes to the heart of Horace’s iambic/lyric praxis. The most concise definition that Horace gives for his lyric is that it is a “socializing” of disparate elements (verba loquor socianda chordis, C. 4.9.4), a process also characteristic of iambic. Such a vision of lyric supports the presupposition of the Roman Odes, as explored by Syndikus (“The Roman Odes,” 193–209), that “Horace sees lyric song as capable of showing the way to reconciliation and peace in the domain of state affairs and politics (203).” It is unlikely that Horace relinquishes this leading role even in the panegyrics of his later poetry; compare Syndikus (206) with Putnam (“The Carmen Saeculare,” 231), Lowrie (“Horace: Odes 4,” 210), and Johnson (“The Epistles,” 331–2).

Jenny Clay enters this conversation with one of the finest, and shortest, introductions to Horatian lyric, when she by-passes the worn-out debate over the “archaizing” versus “Callimachean” Horace and takes him at his word, that he is above all a poet of the symposion (“Horace and Lesbian Lyric,” 128–31). This stance offers Horace particular advantages inherited from his predecessors, many of whom he references explicitly (129–30, 137): a voice of equality (an imagined group of philoi); a self-consciousness in which songs can reflect the values and activities of the symposiasts; an emphasis on the immediate moment, which Horace can translate into an exhibition on the performative and re-performative nature of song. The sympotic nature of lyric presses Clay into the thorny interpretive tangle in Horace’s defense of his iambic/lyric achievement (Epist. 1.19.21–33). Here she moves a step closer to a full appreciation of Horatian carmina by arguing for continuity between the Epodes and Odes.

Only one selection considers Horace’s representation of the female (R. Ancona, “Female Figures in Horace’s Odes,” 174–92), which requires covering his works from beginning to end. Horace’s female figures are diverse (muses, gods, historical, fictive, inhabiting the present, past, and future) and deployed in a variety of literary strategies (transitional figures either divine or human, sources for or deterrents to inspiration, types of high morality or degeneracy). Nonetheless, for all their differences, they, like their male counterparts, are addressed, and therefore become a mechanism for self-fashioning on the part of the speaker. Talking about the “other” is a reflective way of talking about “self.” Also, for the most part, Horace’s women, like names in comedy, lend an imaginary quality to his poetry. But does Ancona overstate when she concludes that accordingly Roman “social conventions are, for the most part irrelevant”? This is not the case in comedy nor in regard to Horace’s Canidia, who, however amusing or menacing she may be on any given occasion, personifies deviance. Given that Horace gives Canidia the last word in the Epodes, he might well appreciate that Ancona passes over her in silence.

Cucchiarelli begins (“Return to Sender: Horace’s sermo from the Epistles to the Satires,” 291–318) with the letter as object and the premise that it is sent (epistolē) to bridge distance between the author and someone absent. Through this posture (quasi ad absentes missas, Porph. ad S. 1.1.1) there is a discontinuity between epistolary sermo and the Satires, the immediacy of which neither presents nor pretends such distance. Cucchiarelli instead proves continuity (see also Clay, supra; S. J. Harrison, “There and Back Again: Horace’s Poetic Career,” in P. Hardie and H. Moore, eds., Classical Literary Careers and their Reception (Cambridge 2010) 39–58; T. S. Johnson, Horace’s Iambic Criticism (Leiden 2011) 181–2). Through a parallel linear reading of Epistles I and Satires I, he exposes the conjunctions between them so that Horace can be reread and revitalized, the later through the earlier and the earlier through the later. Through the whole we catch a glimpse of Horace, now the older grand master, resituating himself and his poetry among a new and younger literary coterie. Perhaps this is the real distance Horace must confront—how does an “old” established artist answer/write back, when he is imitated and critiqued by the young?

To concentrate on certain selections while omitting others of necessity diminishes the whole, but those singled out illustrate the caliber of scholarship one can expect. In the Fall of 2011, the Companion was required reading for my advanced undergraduate reading course in Horatian lyric. It provided a sound introduction for students coming to Horace for the first time and still proved thought-provoking for returning readers. This Companion does what a collection should: with a broad view, it informs and raises essential questions.

Another ‘Indiana Jones’ Searches for the Tomb of Alexander

Why does every country seem to have someone they dub an ‘Indiana Jones’? And why are they often the ‘fringe’ guys? Anyhoo … we’ll start monitoring this guy mention in Radio Free Europe:

With his flowing white locks and extravagant manner, Macedonian archaeologist Pasko Kuzman has become something of a celebrity in his native country.

Aside from some notable finds in his native Ohrid region, as head of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office he has had a major role in the Macedonian government’s controversial, if not provocative, use of ancient historical figures to adorn the capital, Skopje. He’s also seen as the force behind the latest beautification effort: the multimillion-dollar project Skopje 2014.

Most contentious is the massive bronze statue of Alexander the Great, erected in 2011. At the time, Greece objected strongly to the statue, branding it a “usurpation of Greek history.”

This is just one of a series of disputes that began with the very name of the country itself, Republic of Macedonia, which Greece fears represents a claim on its northern province of Macedonia. Greece has blocked Macedonia’s joining the European Union and NATO over the name issue.

But Kuzman, for one, won’t be deterred. As he told Balkan Insight recently, despite expectations that he will soon retire as the head of the Cultural Office, he won’t give up searching for Alexander’s tomb, which he believes could be in the country.

“There are two theories: according to the first his tomb is in Egypt, but a mosque was built above the tomb so no one dared dig under the mosque and reveal the tomb.

“We opt for the second theory, that there is a grave in Egypt, but that Alexander is not there, because on the request of his mother, Olympia, the sarcophagi were replaced and one coffin was sent to Egypt, while the other traveled to Macedonia, where Alexander is buried.

“He was buried with all the honors, but in a secret location in southeast Macedonia at a cemetery which still exists”, Kuzman continues, comparing the mystery of his grave with the mystery of the lost kingdom of Atlantis.

“I’m always behind him, closely following his footsteps! My passion since my student days is to find his grave. I am convinced that day will come,” he insists.

… almost the male equivalent of a certain someone looking for Cleopatra’s tomb, no? Always a childhood passion …

Classical Words of the Day

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