Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

  • 2013.09.56:  Malcolm Schofield, Aristotle, Plato and Pythagoreanism in the First Century BC: New Directions for Philosophy.
  • 2013.09.55:  Manfred Horstmanshoff, Helen King, Claus Zittel, Blood, Sweat, and Tears: The Changing Concepts of Physiology from Antiquity into Early Modern Europe. Intersections, 25. bmcr2
  • 2013.09.54:  Elizabeth Donnelly Carney, Arsinoë of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal Life. Women in antiquity.
  • 2013.09.53:  Shelley Hales, Joanna Paul, Pompeii in the Public Imagination from Its Rediscovery to Today. Classical presences.
  • 2013.09.52:  F. S. Naiden, Smoke Signals for the Gods: Ancient Greek Sacrifice from the Archaic through Roman Periods.
  • 2013.09.51:  Matthew A. Sears, Athens, Thrace, and the Shaping of Athenian Leadership.
  • 2013.09.50:  Joanna Paul, Film and the Classical Epic Tradition. Classical Presences.
  • 2013.09.49:  Timothy S. Johnson, Horace’s Iambic Criticism: Casting Blame (iambikê poiêsis). Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 334.
  • 2013.09.48:  Philippa Lang, Medicine and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt. Studies in Ancient Medicine, 41.
  • 2013.09.47:  Julia Habetzeder, Evading Greek Models: Three Studies on Roman Visual Culture.
  • 2013.09.46:  Antonio Gonzales, Penser l’esclavage: modèles antiques, pratiques modernes, problématiques contemporaines. Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l’Antiquité.

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

… always seem to be in catchup mode:


  • 2013.09.02:  Roshdi Rashed, Abu Kamil. Algèbre et analyse diophantienne: édition, traduction et commentaire. Scientia Graeco-Arabica, Bd 9.
  • 2013.09.03:  Response: Golitsis on Fazzo on Golitsis on Fazzo, Il libro Lambda della Metafisica.
    Response by Pantelis Golitsis.
  • 2013.09.04:  Giuseppe Mariotta, Adalberto Magnelli, Diodoro Siculo. Biblioteca storica, Libro IV: commento storico. Storia : Ricerche. bmcr2
  • 2013.09.05:  Benjamin Isaac, Yuval Shahar, Judaea-Palaestina, Babylon and Rome: Jews in Antiquity. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism, 147.
  • 2013.09.06:  Allan Gotthelf, Teleology, First Principles and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology. Oxford Aristotle Studies.
  • 2013.09.07:  Stefano Dentice di Accadia Ammone, Omero e i suoi oratori: tecniche di persuasione nell’Iliade. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde. Band 302.
  • 2013.09.08:  Voula N. Bardani, Stephen V. Tracy, Inscriptiones Atticae Euclidis anno posteriores. Ed. tertia. Pars I: Leges et decreta; Fasc. V: Leges et Decreta annorum 229/8-168/7. Inscriptiones Graecae, II/III.3 1, 5.
  • 2013.09.09:  Massimiliano Canuti, Basco ed etrusco: due lingue sottoposte all’influsso indoeuropeo. Studia erudita, 7.
  • 2013.09.10:  William Desmond, Philosopher-Kings of Antiquity.
  • 2013.09.11:  Marco Fantuzzi, Achilles in Love. Intertextual Studies.
  • 2013.09.12:  Ulrich Schmitzer, Enzyklopädie der Philologie: Themen und Methoden der Klassischen Philologie heute. Vertumnus, Bd 11.
  • 2013.09.13:  Martin Worthington, Complete Babylonian: A Teach Yourself Guide (Revised edition; first published 2010). Teach yourself.
  • 2013.09.14:  Amanda Wilcox, The Gift of Correspondence in Classical Rome: Friendship in Cicero’s ‘Ad Familiares’ and Seneca’s ‘Moral Epistles’. Wisconsin Studies in Classics.
  • 2013.09.15:  Claudio Gallazzi, Bärbel Kramer, Salvatore Settis, Intorno al Papiro di Artemidoro II: Geografia e Cartografia. Atti del Convegno internazionale del 27 novembre 2009 presso la Società Geografica Italiana. Villa Celimontana, Roma. Colloquium.
  • 2013.09.16:  Roger Brock, Greek Political Imagery from Homer to Aristotle.
  • 2013.09.17:  Attilio Mastrocinque, Kronos, Shiva, and Asklepios: Studies in Magical Gems and Religions of the Roman Empire. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 101, pt 5.
  • 2013.09.18:  Henry J. M. Day, Lucan and the Sublime: Power, Representation and Aesthetic Experience. Cambridge classical studies.
  • 2013.09.19:  Richard Hingley, Hadrian’s Wall: A Life.
  • 2013.09.20:  Tommaso Braccini, La fata dai piedi di mula: licantropi, streghe e vampiri nell’Oriente greco.
  • 2013.09.21:  Franco Montanari, Antonios Rengakos, Christos Tsagalis, Homeric Contexts: Neoanalysis and the Interpretation of Oral Poetry. Trends in classics – supplementary volumes, 12.
  • 2013.09.22:  Tiziana Pellucchi, Commento al libro VIII delle Argonautiche di Valerio Flacco. Spudasmata, 146.
  • 2013.09.23:  S. Douglas Olson, The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite and Related Texts: Text, Translation and Commentary. Texte und Kommentare 39.
  • 2013.09.24:  Giles Pearson, Aristotle on Desire.
  • 2013.09.25:  Manuel Baumbach, Wolfgang Polleichtner, Innovation aus Tradition: literaturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven der Vergilforschung. BAC – Bochumer Altertumswissenschaftliches Colloquium, Bd 93.
  • 2013.09.26:  Ineke Sluiter, Ralph M. Rosen, Aesthetic Value in Classical Antiquity. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 350.
  • 2013.09.27:  Serenella Ensoli, For the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage in Libya: A Dialogue among Institutions. Proceedings of conference, 1–2 July 2011, Monumental complex of Belvedere, San Leucio, Caserta. Kypana. Libya in the ancient world, 1.
  • 2013.09.28:  Florin Curta, The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050: The Early Middle Ages.
  • 2013.09.29:  Sylvian Fachard, La défense du territoire: étude de la chôra érétrienne et de ses fortifications. Eretria: fouilles et recherches, 21​.
  • 2013.09.30:  Olof Brandt, San Lorenzo in Lucina: The Transformations of a Roman Quarter. Skrifter Utgivna av Svenska Institutet i Athen / Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, 4, 61.
  • 2013.09.31:  Beatrice Larosa, P. Ovidii Nasonis Epistula Ex Ponto III 1: testo, traduzione e commento. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, Bd 308.
  • 2013.09.32:  D. L. Stone, D. J. Mattingly, N. Ben Lazreg, Leptiminus (Lamta), Report No. 3: The Field Survey. JRA Supplementary series 87.
  • 2013.09.33:  Deborah J. Lyons, Dangerous Gifts: Gender and Exchange in Ancient Greece.
  • 2013.09.34:  Salvatore De Vincenzo, Tra Cartagine e Roma: i centri urbani dell’eparchia punica di Sicilia tra VI e I sec. a.C. Topoi: Berlin studies of the ancient world, 8.
  • 2013.09.35:  Carmine Catenacci, Il tiranno e l’eroe: storia e mito nella Grecia antica. Lingue e letterature Carocci, 145.
  • 2013.09.36:  Paul J. du Plessis, New Frontiers: Law and Society in the Roman World.
  • 2013.09.37:  Ada Caruso, Akademia: archeologia di una scuola filosofica ad Atene da Platone a Proclo (387 a.C. – 485 d.C). SATAA: Studi di Archeologia e di Topografia di Atene e dell’Attica, 6.
  • 2013.09.38:  Mario Capasso, Paola Davoli, Soknopaiou Nesos Project, I (2003-2009). Biblioteca di studi di egittologia e di papirologia, 9.
  • 2013.09.39:  Arnaud Macé, Choses privées et chose publique en Grèce ancienne. Genèse et structure d’un système de classification. Collection HOROS.
  • 2013.09.40:  Martin J. Cropp, Euripides: Electra. Second edition (first published 1988). Aris and Phillips classical texts.
  • 2013.09.41:  John J. Cleary, Studies on Plato, Aristotle and Proclus: Collected Essays on Ancient Philosophy of John J. Cleary. (Edited by John Dillon, Brendan O’Byrne, Fran O’Rourke). Ancient Mediterranean and medieval texts and contexts. Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic tradition, 15.
  • 2013.09.42:  Milette Gaifman, Aniconism in Greek Antiquity. Oxford studies in ancient culture and representation.
  • 2013.09.43:  Alberto J. Quiroga Puertas, The Purpose of Rhetoric in Late Antiquity: From Performance to Exegesis. Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum / Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity,72.
  • 2013.09.44:  Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, King and Court in Ancient Persia 559 to 331 BCE. Debates and documents in ancient history. Edinburgh: 2013. Pp. xxix, 258. $40.00 (pb). ISBN 9780748641253.
    Reviewed by Pierre Briant.

CJ Online Review: Sedley, The Philosophy of Antiochus

posted with permission:

The Philosophy of Antiochus. Edited by David Sedley. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. ix + 377. Hardcover, $110.00. ISBN 978-0-521-19854-7.

Reviewed by Joseph McAlhany, Carthage College

The philosopher Antiochus of Ascalon, influential teacher to leading intellectual lights of 1st-century bce Rome such as Cicero and Varro and companion to dimmer bulbs such as Lucullus, is best known for his revival of the "Old Academy" in a hostile reaction, known as the Sosus affair, to the skepticism that had come to reign among the heirs of Plato, including his own teacher Philo of Larissa. Treatments of the man and his thought have not been lacking, though for anything approaching a digestible yet substantial overview in English, nothing surpassed Barnes’ lucid and concise "Antiochus of Ascalon" in Philosophia Togata I (Oxford 1989). However, David Sedley has now edited an outstanding collection of papers on Antiochus, and even though he explicitly denies any attempt to produce a "Cambridge Companion to Antiochus," this comprehensive volume featuring a stellar cast of contributors all but renders one unnecessary (or, at least, even more unnecessary). A product of the Cambridge-based project on "Greco-Roman Philosophy in the First Century bc," the collection begins with coverage of Antiochus’ biography and intellectual background, proceeds through his philosophical positions and arguments, and ends with his influence-a natural arrangement that allows free and fruitful overlap, which is one of the strengths of this volume: rather than redundant and repetitious re-visitations of the same ground, the internal engagement among individual contributors sounds a stimulating polyphony.

Little about Antiochus’ life and teachings rises above controversial conjecture, since, with only one verbatim quotation surviving from Sextus Empiricus for sources, we are left with interpretative quagmires such as Cicero’s Academica and Philodemus’ Index Academicorum. Yet even though this pivotal figure of late Republican intellectual culture remains enshrouded in hermeneutic murk, every contribution in this volume offers its own insights, always based on close engagement with the sources. In fact, a notable feature that alone makes this book a valuable resource is the collection of testimonia (and fragment) with translations at the end of the book, including David Blank’s new readings of the Index Academicorum. (The longer speeches from Cicero are not reproduced in full, but neatly summarized.) A thorough reading of the book thus paints the most complete portrait one could hope to have of Antiochus at present, without offering the illusion of settled conclusions.

After Sedley’s introduction sets the stage for the volume as a whole, the next three chapters contextualize Antiochus’ life and teaching: Hatzimichali ("Antiochus’ biography") and Polito ("Antiochus and the Academy") give thorough accounts of what is known of his life and career, not without challenges to the status quo, while Flemming in "Antiochus and Asclepiades: medical and philosophical sectarianism at the end of the Hellenistic era" makes a welcome comparison of intellectual networks. The chapters that focus on Antiochus’ philosophical thought open with Sedley’s "Antiochus as historian of philosophy," an examination of Antiochus’ evolution in his (mis)use of philosophical history, which serves as a useful introduction to the chapters on epistemology and ethics that follow: "Antiochus’ epistemology" (Brittain), "Antiochus on contemplation and the happy life" (Tsouni), "Antiochus, Aristotle and the Stoics on degrees of happiness" (Irwin), and "Antiochus on social virtue" (Schofield), all notable for a clarity of exposition in their wider discussions of Antiochus and Greco-Roman philosophy than the plain-spoken titles suggest. The next three chapters cover physics and, if not logic strictly speaking, at least argumentation: Inwood ("Antiochus on physics"), Boys-Stones ("Aristochus’ metaphysics"), and Schofield again ("The neutralizing argument: Carneades, Antiochus, Cicero") all present closely argued challenges to the other readings of Antiochus. Blank leads off the final chapters on Antiochus’ influence with "Antiochus and Varro," a fine portrait of the Roman polymath’s intellectual debt to Antiochus, while Lévy ("Other followers of Antiochus") treats the question of influence more broadly, including a convincing reading of Brutus. Bonazzi’s "Antiochus and Platonism," while more speculative than the others, is a comprehensive and sympathetic reading of Antiochus’ efforts at philosophical reconciliation and a fitting conclusion to the collection.

Antiochus’ troublesome claim that the doctrines of the Stoics, Peripatetics, and Academics differed only in terminology, not substance, underlies much of the more technical discussion: What does apatheia really mean? If katalepsis itself can constitute knowledge, what then is knowledge? Can ennoiai be understood as Platonic Forms? There’s a vita beata,a vita beatior,and a vita beatissima-seriously? For Antiochus, these questions had important consequences and literally defined philosophical identity: what did it really mean to be a Stoic, or a Peripatetic, or an Academic in the 1st century bce? It is a virtue of this collection that the detailed engagement with the philological and philosophical technicalities is likewise never unmoored from larger intellectual issues, making it a significant advance in the study of post-Hellenistic philosophy. Well-produced and remarkably accessible, The Philosophy of Antiochus will remain a standard for scholarly reference and engagement for a long time to come

©2013 by The Classical Association of the Middle West and South. All rights reserved.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

… catching up with August:

  • 2013.08.02:  Polyxeni Adam-Veleni, Katerina Tzanavari, Δινήεσσα: τιμητικός τόμος για την Κατερίνα Ρωμιοπούλου. Έκδοση Αρχαιολογικού Μουσείου Θεσσαλονίκης / Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki publications, 18.
  • 2013.08.03:  Susan B. Matheson, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, Fasc. 1; United States of America, Fasc. 38. Attic red-figure amphorae, pelikai, stamnos, kraters, oinochoai, lekythoi, pyxides, askoi, plates, skyphoi, kylikes, and white-ground lekythoi.
  • 2013.08.04:  Roger D. Woodard, Myth, Ritual, and the Warrior in Roman and Indo-European Antiquity.
  • 2013.08.05:  Eleni Manolaraki, Noscendi Nilum Cupido: Imagining Egypt from Lucan to Philostratus. Trends in classics: Supplementary volumes, 18. bmcr2
  • 2013.08.06:  Kevin Corrigan, John D. Turner, Peter Wakefield, Religion and Philosophy in the Platonic and Neoplatonic Traditions: From Antiquity to the Early Medieval Period.
  • 2013.08.07:  Giorgos Papantoniou, Religion and Social Transformations in Cyprus: From the Cypriot Basileis to the Hellenistic Strategos. Mnemosyne supplements. History and archaeology of classical antiquity, 347.
  • 2013.08.08:  Jérôme​ Lagouanère​, Intériorité et réflexivité dans la pensée de saint Augustin: formes et genèse d’une conceptualisation. Collection des Études Augustiniennes. Série Antiquité, 194​.
  • 2013.08.09:  David F. Elmer, The Poetics of Consent: Collective Decision Making and the Iliad.
  • 2013.08.10:  Stephen Rex Stem, The Political Biographies of Cornelius Nepos.
  • 2013.08.11:  J. Bert Lott, Death and Dynasty in Early Imperial Rome: Key Sources, with Text, Translation, and Commentary.
  • 2013.08.12:  Germán Santana Henríquez, Literatura y Cine.
  • 2013.08.13:  Catherine Ware, Claudian and the Roman Epic Tradition.
  • 2013.08.14:  Roman V. Lapyrionok, Der Kampf um die Lex Sempronia agraria. Vom Zensus 125/124 v. Chr. bis zum Agrarprogramm des Gaius Gracchus.
  • 2013.08.15:  Henri Dominique Saffrey, Alain-Philippe Segonds, Porphyre: Lettre à Anébon l’Égyptien. Collection des universités de France. Serie grecque, 492.
  • 2013.08.16:  Sasha Stern, Calendars in Antiquity. Empires, States and Societies.
  • 2013.08.17:  Response: Fazzo on Golitsis on Fazzo, Il libro Lambda della Metafisica di Aristotele.
  • 2013.08.18:  François Baratte, Die Römer in Tunesien und Libyen: Nordafrika in römischer Zeit. Zaberns Bildbände zur Archäologie.
  • 2013.08.19:  Ann Moffatt, Maxene Tall, Constantine Porphyrogennetos, The Book of Ceremonies; with the Greek edition of the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae (Bonn, 1829) (2 vols.). Byzantina Australiensia, 18.
  • 2013.08.20:  Gregory S. Aldrete, Scott Bartell, Alicia Aldrete, Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor – Unraveling the Linothorax Mystery.
  • 2013.08.21:  Georgios K. Giannakis, Αρχαία Μακεδονία: γλώσσα, ιστορία, πολιτισμός / Ancient Macedonia: Language, History, Culture / Macédoine antique : langue, histoire, culture / Antikes Makedonien: Sprache, Geschichte, Kultur.
  • 2013.08.22:  Andrea Balbo, Federica Bessone, Ermanno Malaspina, Tanti affetti in tal momento: studi in onore di Giovanna Garbarino.
  • 2013.08.23:  Federica Pezzoli, Michele Curnis, Aristotele, La politica, Libro II. Aristotele. La Politica, 2.
  • 2013.08.24:  Víctor Alonso Troncoso, Edward M. Anson, After Alexander: The Time of the Diadochi (323-281 BC).
  • 2013.08.25:  Response: Cristante on Shanzer on Cristante and Lenaz, Martiani Capellae …Vol. 1. Libri I-II.
  • 2013.08.26:  Florence Gherchanoc, L’Oïkos en fête: Célébrations familiales et sociabilité en Grèce ancienne.
  • 2013.08.27:  María Teresa Santamariá Hernández, Textos médicos grecolatinos antiguos y medievales: estudios sobre composición y fuentes. Colección Humanidades 123.
  • 2013.08.28:  Christina Luke, Morag M. Kersel, U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Archaeology: Soft Power, Hard Heritage. Routledge studies in archaeology, 6.
  • 2013.08.29:  Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta, Israel Muñoz Gallarte, Plutarch in the Religious and Philosophical Discourse of Late Antiquity. Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic tradition, 14.
  • 2013.08.30:  Raffaele Perrelli, Paolo Mastandrea, Latinum est, et legitur: metodi e temi dello studio dei testi latini. Supplementi di Lexis, 65.
  • 2013.08.31:  Harry B. Evans, Exploring the Kingdom of Saturn: Kircher’s Latium and Its Legacy.
  • 2013.08.32:  Julia Haig Gaisser, Giovanni Gioviano Pontano: Dialogues. Volume 1, Charon and Antonius. The I Tatti Renaissance library, 53.
  • 2013.08.33:  Dominic Keech, The Anti-Pelagian Christology of Augustine of Hippo. Oxford Theological Monographs.
  • 2013.08.34:  Eleanor Dickey, The Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana. Volume 1: Colloquia Monacensia-Einsidlensia, Leidense-Stephani, and Stephani. Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, 49.
  • 2013.08.35:  Andrzej Wypustek, Images of Eternal Beauty in Funerary Verse Inscriptions of the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman Periods. Mnemosyne Supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin Language and Literature, 352.
  • 2013.08.36:   Jo-Ann Shelton, The Women of Pliny’s Letters. Women of the ancient world.
  • 2013.08.37:  Douglas Cairns, Tragedy and Archaic Greek Thought.
  • 2013.08.38:  Dag Nikolaus Hasse, Amos Bertolacci, The Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Reception of Avicenna’s Metaphysics. Scientia Graeco-Arabica, Bd 7.
  • 2013.08.39:  Giovanni Zago, Sapienza filosofica e cultura materiale: Posidonio e le altre fonti dell’Epistola 90 di Seneca. Istituto italiano di scienze umane. Studi.
  • 2013.08.40:  Karine Karila-Cohen, Florent Quellier, Le corps du gourmand: d’Héraclès à Alexandre le Bienheureux. Tables des hommes.
  • 2013.08.41:  Angela Bellia, Il canto delle Vergini locresi: la musica a Locri Epizefirii nelle fonti scritte e nella documentazione archeologica (secoli VI-III a. C.). Nuovi saggi, 116.
  • 2013.08.42:  Michael C. Sloan, The Harmonius Organ of Sedulius Scottus: Introduction to his Collectaneum in Apostolum and Translation of its Prologue and Commentaries on Galatians and Ephesians. Millennium-Studien / Millennium studies. Bd 39.
  • 2013.08.43:  Martin Thomas R., Christopher Blackwell, Alexander the Great: The Story of an Ancient Life.
  • 2013.08.44:  Ben Akrigg, Rob Tordoff, Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Greek Comic Drama. Cambridge; New York: 2013. Pp. xv, 271. $99.00. ISBN 9781107008557.
    Reviewed by Deborah Kamen.
  • 2013.08.45:  Walter T. Wilson, The Sentences of Sextus. Wisdom Literature from the Ancient World 1.
  • 2013.08.46:  Francesca Fontanella, Politica e diritto naturale nel ‘De legibus’ di Cicerone. Temi e storia, 109.
  • 2013.08.47:  Edoardo Sanguineti, Ifigenia in Aulide di Euripide. La permanenza del Classico – Palinsesti.
  • 2013.08.48:  Mark Griffith, Aristophanes’ Frogs. Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature.
  • 2013.08.49:  James E. Holland, William J. Dominik, Petronii Satyricon Concordantia. Alpha-Omega: Reihe A, Lexika, Indizes, Konkordanzen zur klassischen Philologie, 263.
  • 2013.08.50:  Clarisse Prêtre, Kosmos et kosmema: les offrandes de parure dans les inventaires déliens. Kernos. Supplément, 27.
  • 2013.08.51:  Valentina Arena, Libertas and the Practice of Politics in the Late Roman Republic.
  • 2013.08.52:  Birgit Bergmann, Der Kranz des Kaisers: Genese und Bedeutung einer römischen Insignie. Image and context 6​.
  • 2013.08.53:  Marianne Govers Hopman, Scylla: Myth, Metaphor, Paradox.
  • 2013.08.54:  Stéphane Bourdin, Les peuples de l’Italie préromaine: identités, territoires et relations inter-ethniques en Italie centrale et septentrionale. Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d’Athènes et de Rome, 350.
  • 2013.08.55:  Jon Miller, The Reception of Aristotle’s Ethics.
  • 2013.08.56:  Mette Moltesen, Perfect Partners: The Collaboration between Carl Jacobsen and his Agent in Rome Wolfgang Helbig in the Formation of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek 1887-1914.
  • 2013.08.57:  Odile Lagacherie, Pierre-Louis Malosse, Libanios, le premier humaniste. Études en hommage à Bernard Schouler (Actes du colloque de Montpellier, 18-20 mars 2010). Cardo, 9.
  • 2013.08.58:  Timo-Christian Spieß, Die Sabinus-Briefe: Humanistische Fälschung oder antike Literatur? Einleitung – Edition – Übersetzung – Kommentar. Bochumer Altertumswissenschaftliches Colloquium Bd 86.
  • 2013.08.59:  Güven Gümgüm, Il Martyrion di Hierapolis di Frigia (Turchia): Analisi archeologica e architettonica. British Archaeological Reports, International Series, 2385.

CJ-Online Review | Dueck and Broderson, Geography in Classical Antiquity

posted with permission:

Geography in Classical Antiquity. By Daniela Dueck with a chapter by Kai Brodersen. Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xvi + 142. Paper, $29.99. ISBN 978-0-521-12025-8.

Reviewed by Brian Turner, Portland State University

Pliny the Elder (NH 3.1.1-2) long ago bemoaned the near impossible task of writing about geography, an assignment which was, he wrote, “not easily handled without any criticism.” Recognizing the difficulty of encapsulating so much of human knowledge in a single volume, he claimed that he would neither “blame nor refute” any of his sources. Alas, Pliny did not have to write book reviews. It is, then, a relief to recommend Dueck’s brief but effective primer on the topic of geography in the Greek and Roman world. The pace and breadth of the text will require an active and prepared instructor (not to mention an array of supplementary readings) to help guide students through topics that are often only introduced and then overwhelmed by new concepts, developments, and items of evidence. But the topic of geography in antiquity relies on so much and so varied evidence-even (as I note below) more than the text emphasizes-that the authors can hardly be faulted for brevity in such a concise and necessary introduction.

The book consists of five chapters. A bibliography and index are by no means exhaustive but should at least offer students a starting point for the pursuit of further study. There is also a chronological table listing authors, texts, and principal events. Polybius might have preferred to be included in the 2nd rather than 3rd century bce (xi), and certainly Ammianus Marcellinus, since he is discussed in the text itself (50), deserves inclusion. But such quibbles aside, the table will helpfully introduce new students to the large number of texts available for the study of ancient geography.

The bulk of the volume is organized according to groups of sources rather than chronological development, so that the three main chapters deal with as many different approaches to the study of geography in antiquity. Chapter 2, “Descriptive Geography,” explores the presentation of geographic material in poetry, prose, and even travelogues including periploi, itineraria,and other more detailed travel narratives. The next chapter, “Mathematical Geography,” examines how ancient scientists “used numbers and calculations” (69) along with theoretical approaches regarding form and symmetry to determine the shape and size of the world as well as the nature of the peoples who inhabited it.

A description of how geographic coordinates, principally longitude and latitude, were calculated or estimated closes the discussion and offers a neat transition to the next chapter on the practice (or lack) of cartography in classical antiquity. Kai Brodersen (who wrote the chapter) warns readers of the dangers of applying a modern worldview that is too map-centric onto the ancients, and quite rightly concludes that the “pre-modern Greco-Roman world generally managed without maps” (109). The argument against the use of maps for practical purposes (e.g. for travel or military plans), however correct, tends to overpower the fact that cartographic depictions did exist in antiquity, even if only for the illustration of power and might. Even discounting the difficult problem of the form of Agrippa’s famous depiction of the orbis terrarum, there is more than enough evidence to illustrate mapping on a grand scale, especially during the Roman imperial period (for which see Richard Talbert’s chapter in Ancient Perspectives: Maps and Their Place in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome (Chicago 2012)). Although the precise form of such maps is beyond reconstruction, their existence and value should not be doubted.

Three principal themes, outlined in the first (“Introduction”) and final (“Geography in Practice”) chapters, underpin the entire work. Two of the themes are specifically introduced as such in the introduction (5). The first notes the reciprocal relationship between expansion, whatever its principal motives, and geographic knowledge. The second focuses on the comparison between Greek and Roman geographic knowledge, its development and its practical uses.

The third theme is not specifically introduced like the others, but it nevertheless dominates the volume and illustrates a fundamental element of modern discussions about the nature of ancient geography. With minor exceptions, the volume emphasizes text as the dominant medium through which geographic knowledge was created and transmitted. Though such a view appears throughout, it is, perhaps, best summed up in the volume’s final line: “All these [the motives, methods, and tools of geography] enabled these pre-modern societies to break new ground and to record their experience and thoughts in writing” (121). Brodersen’s warning (100) that pre-modern societies lacked the ability to copy and transmit illustrations such as maps should be taken as a warning against such textual emphasis and should offer a reason why we ought to expand and emphasize that non-literary evidence which does exist. As it stands, discussions of artistic creations do appear in the volume, but only fleetingly. The geographic and ethnographic information presented on the Sebasteion in Aphrodisias, for example, makes only a brief appearance at the beginning and end of the work (9 and 121) and is overwhelmed by the text’s conclusion that “geography” is predominantly understood as the “writing” about the earth.

In the end, this little book successfully enhances the curiosity of the reader. Even though it is meant to be a basic introduction, the book sparks debate. It is, therefore, a reflection of the difficulty and the potential of the topic, and is a most welcome addition to the ongoing discussion.

©2013 by The Classical Association of the Middle West and South. All rights reserved.


Catching Up With Bryn Mawr Classical Review

I think I missed all of July … I’ll catch up with August in a day or so:

  • 2013.07.02:  Bernd Steinmann, Die Waffengräber der ägäischen Bronzezeit: Waffenbeigaben, soziale Selbstdarstellung und Adelsethos in der minoisch-mykenischen Kultur. Philippika, 52​. bmcr2
  • 2013.07.03:  Stella Georgoudi, Renée Koch Piettre, Francis Schmidt, La raison des signes: présages, rites, destin dans les sociétés de la méditerranée ancienne. Religions in the Graeco-Roman world, 174.
  • 2013.07.04:  A. M. Devine, Laurence D. Stephens, Semantics for Latin: An Introduction.
  • 2013.07.05:  Arthur M. Eckstein, Rome Enters the Greek East: From Anarchy to Hierarchy in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, 230-170 BC.
  • 2013.07.06:  Frank L. Holt, Lost World of the Golden King: In Search of Ancient Afghanistan. Hellenistic culture and society, 53.
  • 2013.07.07:  Naftali S. Cohn, The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis. Divinations: rereading late ancient religion.
  • 2013.07.08:  Philip P. Betancourt, The Dams and Water Management Systems of Minoan Pseira.
  • 2013.07.09:  Christopher A. Beeley, The Unity of Christ: Continuity and Conflict in Patristic Tradition.
  • 2013.07.10:  Jörg Rüpke, Wolfgang Spickermann, Reflections on Religious Individuality: Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian Texts and Practices. Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten, Band 62.
  • 2013.07.11:  Kathleen Coleman, Jocelyne Nelis-Clément, L’organisation des spectacles dans le monde romain. Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique, 58.
  • 2013.07.12:  Niketas Siniossoglou, Radical Platonism in Byzantium: Illumination and Utopia in Gemistos Plethon. Cambridge classical studies.
  • 2013.07.13:  Susan C. Shelmerdine, Introduction to Latin. Second edition.
  • 2013.07.14:  Patrick Sänger, Veteranen unter den Severern und frühen Soldatenkaisern: die Dokumentensammlungen der Veteranen Aelius Sarapammon und Aelius Syrion. Heidelberger Althistorische Beiträge und Epigraphische Studien (HABES), Bd 48.
  • 2013.07.15:  Marietta Horster, Anja Klöckner, Civic Priests: Cult Personnel in Athens from the Hellenistic Period to Late Antiquity. Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten, Bd 58. Berlin;
  • 2013.07.16:  Fiona Leigh, The ‘Eudemian Ethics’ on the Voluntary, Friendship, and Luck: The Sixth S.V. Keeling Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy. Philosophia Antiqua, 132.
  • 2013.07.17:  Sergio Audano, Classici lettori di classici. Da Virgilio a Marguerite Yourcenar. Echo, 8.
  • 2013.07.18:  Edith Foster, Donald Lateiner, Thucydides and Herodotus.
  • 2013.07.19:  Cassandra Borges, C. Michael Sampson, New Literary Papyri from the Michigan Collection: Mythographic Lyric and a Catalogue of Poetic First Lines. New Texts from Ancient Cultures.
  • 2013.07.20:  Stephen Halliwell, Between Ecstasy and Truth. Interpretations of Greek Poetics from Homer to Longinus..
  • 2013.07.21:  P. A. Brunt, Studies in Stoicism.
  • 2013.07.22:  Jason König​, Saints and Symposiasts: The Literature of Food and the Symposium in Greco-Roman and Early Christian Culture. Greek culture in the Roman world.
  • 2013.07.23:  Giuseppina Azzarello, Il dossier della ‘domus divina’ in Egitto. Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete, Beiheft 32.
  • 2013.07.24:  Daniel L. Schwartz, Paideia and Cult: Christian Initiation in Theodore of Mopsuestia. Hellenic Studies, 57.
  • 2013.07.25:  Angela Bellia, Strumenti musicali e oggetti sonori nell’Italia meridionale e in Sicilia (VI-III sec. a.C.): funzioni rituali e contesti. Aglaia 4.
  • 2013.07.26:  Matthew Wright, The Comedian as Critic: Greek Old Comedy and Poetics.
  • 2013.07.27:  Anne Rolet, Allégorie et symbole: voies de dissidence? de l’Antiquité à la Renaissance. Interférences.
  • 2013.07.28:  Andrea Celestino Montanaro, Ambre figurate. Amuleti e ornamenti dalla Puglia preromana. Studia archaeologica 184.
  • 2013.07.29:  Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity.
  • 2013.07.30:  Angelo Mercado, Italic Verse: A Study of the Poetic Remains of Old Latin, Faliscan, and Sabellic. Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft, Bd 145.
  • 2013.07.31:  Antonio Catalfamo, Cesare Pavese, un greco del nostro tempo: dodicesima rassegna di saggi internazionali di critica pavesiana. Supplemento a Le Colline di Pavese, 134.
  • 2013.07.32:  Maijastina Kahlos, The Faces of the Other: Religious Rivalry and Ethnic Encounters in the Later Roman World. Cursor mundi, 10.
  • 2013.07.33:  Richard Patterson, Vassilis Karasmanis, Arnold Hermann, Presocratics and Plato: A Festschrift at Delphi in Honor of Charles Kahn. Papers presented at the festschrift symposium in honor of Charles Kahn organized by the Hyele Institute for Comparative Studies European Cultural Center of Delphi, June 3rd-7th, 2009, Delphi, Greece.
  • 2013.07.34:  Kenneth A. Kitchen, Paul L. N. Lawrence, Treaty, Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East.
  • 2013.07.35:  Paula Fredriksen, Sin: The Early History of an Idea.
  • 2013.07.36:  Carlos Steel, Aristotle’s Metaphysics Alpha (with an edition of the Greek text by Oliver Primavesi). Symposium Aristotelicum.
  • 2013.07.37:  Rachana Kamtekar, Virtue and Happiness: Essays in Honour of Julia Annas. Oxford studies in ancient philosophy. Supplementary volume, 2012.
  • 2013.07.38:  Renate Schlesier, A Different God? Dionysos and Ancient Polytheism.
  • 2013.07.39:  Catherine Freis, Richard Freis, Greg Miller, George Herbert: Memoriae matris sacrum = To the Memory of my Mother: A Consecrated Gift. A Critical Text, Translation, and Commentary. George Herbert Journal special studies and monographs.
  • 2013.07.40:  Ido Israelowich, Society, Medicine and Religion in the Sacred Tales of Aelius Aristides. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin Language and Literature, 341
  • 2013.07.41:  Helena Dettmer, LeaAnn A. Osburn, Latin for the New Millennium: Student Text, Level 3.
  • 2013.07.42:  John J. Collins, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography. Lives of great religious books.
  • 2013.07.43:  Kathryn Welch, Magnus Pius: Sextus Pompeius and the Transformation of the Roman Republic. Roman culture in an age of civil war.
  • 2013.07.44:  Michaela Konrad, Christian Witschel, Römische Legionslager in den Rhein- und Donauprovinzen – Nuclei spätantik-frühmittelalterlichen Lebens? Abhandlungen der Philosophisch-historische Klasse. Neue Folge, 138.
  • 2013.07.45:  Darel Tai Engen, Honor and Profit: Athenian Trade Policy and the Economy and Society of Greece, 415-307 B.C.E.
  • 2013.07.46:  Charikleia Armoni, Studien zur Verwaltung des Ptolemäischen Ägypten: Das Amt des Basilikos Grammateus. Abhandlungen der Nordrhein-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste. Sonderreihe Papyrologica Coloniensia, 36.
  • 2013.07.47:  Daniel L. Selden, Hieroglyphic Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Literature of the Middle Kingdom.
  • 2013.07.48:  Fiona Hobden, Christopher Tuplin, Xenophon: Ethical Principles and Historical Enquiry. Mnemosyne supplements. History and archaeology of classical antiquity, 348.
  • 2013.07.49:  Sergio Audano, Giovanni Cipriani, Aspetti della Fortuna dell’Antico nella Cultura Europea : atti della Nona Giornata di Studi, Sestri Levante, 16 marzo 2012. Echo, 9.
  • 2013.07.50:  Christos Theodoridis, Photii Patriarchae Lexicon. Volumen III, N–Φ.
  • 2013.07.51:  Georges Rougemont, Inscriptions grecques d’Iran et d’Asie centrale. Corpus inscriptionum Iranicarum, Part II: Inscriptions of the Seleucid and Parthian periods of eastern Iran and central Asia. Vol. I: Inscriptions in non-Iranian languages, 1. London: 2012. Pp. 326; 82 p. of plates.
  • 2013.07.52:  James Romm, Plutarch: Lives that Made Greek History.
  • 2013.07.53:  Jerry Toner, Homer’s Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the East.

CJ Online Review | West on Tarrant, Aeneid XII and Putnam, Humanness of Heroes

p​osted with permission:​

Virgil: Aeneid Book XII. Edited by Richard Tarrant. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. ix + 362. Hardcover, £50.00/$90.00. ISBN 978-0-521-30881-6. Paper, £19.99/$36.99. ISBN 978-0-521-31363-6.

The Humanness of Heroes: Studies in the Conclusion of Virgil’s Aeneid. By Michael Putnam. The Amsterdam Vergil Lectures, Volume 1. Amsterdam University Press, 2011. Distributed by the University of Chicago Press. Pp. 183. Paper, $25.00. ISBN 978-90-8964-3476.

Reviewed by †David West, Corbridge.

At last a modern commentary on Book 12 and it is excellent. The Introduction includes a timely study of Virgil’s meter which shows that lines with four spondees often describe what is slow, heavy, or solemn (add “sacral”), while lines which begin with five dactyls tend to depict rapid action. I count eleven of these, two of which are lists of the Greek names of casualties, and speed is mentioned in six of the remaining nine. The case is made when the mighty 4S line 649 ends a paragraph and Saces rushes into 5D action in 650, descendam, maiorum haud umquam indignus avorum. Vix ea fatus erat: medios volat ecce per hostes. Another such leap from 4S to 5D occurs in 80–1. The average in the book is one 4S every 14 lines. In 896–9 there are three in four lines, as Turnus eyes a great rock. In 906 he drops it with a 5D, tum lapis ipse viri vacuum per inane volutus. Virgil’s sweet and marvellously effective voice will not sound again but Tarrant enables us to hear it a little better.

The commentary excels for its thoroughness and sound judgment. It seems to deal with every detail of the language and offer judicious solutions amply supported by modern scholars, particularly Anglophones. There are also masses of parallel passages, making it a much larger book than previous commentaries in this series.

The Introduction includes sections on Turnus and Aeneas, the Final Scene, and Augustan Ramifications. Here Tarrant is too kind to Turnus. When the Book opens the Latins have been smashed, infractos, and their commander has been absent. Turnus realizes that the time has come for him to keep his promises, and that he is being looked at meaningfully, se signari oculis. In 11–17 he consents to a treaty (he will later violate it). He insults his Latin comrades (who have been doing the fighting), and consents to meet Aeneas in single combat, “refuting the charge of cowardice to which the Latins had rendered themselves liable,” he says. It is Turnus who is the coward.

The aged king Latinus has to deal with this. He begins by praising Turnus’ fierce courage so unlike his own fear, metuentem. Tarrant takes this to hint at his lack of resolve. But Latinus is not afraid, he is deploying conciliatio benevolentiae to flatter Turnus for his courage by declaring his own lack of it. His speech is a masterpiece of rhetoric, and it ends with an appeal to Turnus’ aged father, the card played by Sinon in 2.87 and 138, and the fifth locus in the twelve under misericordia in Ad Herennium 2.47.

Turnus’ reply is rude and arrogant, and he is soon rushing into the house, asking for his horses and glorying in them, quicker than winds and white as snow. He then dons his armor, breastplate with scales of gold and aurichalc, sword, shield, and helmet with red crests in horned sockets. (There were two fire-breathing chimeras on top of it in 7.785–6.) Next he takes the sword Vulcan had made for his father Daunus, tempering the steel in water of the Styx. He then snatches a spear leaning against a column, addresses it passionately, and utters dire prophecies of what is in store for the effeminate Phrygian. Sparks fly from his face and his eyes flash fire. He is pawing the ground and goring the winds before his first (note) battle. This is a boy, not a warrior. And he has armed on the wrong day and taken the wrong sword.

Aeneas also put on his armor, given to him by his divine mother (Venus trumps Daunus), and was just as fierce, delighted to know that the truce he offered Latinus would end the war. He comforted his men and then his son (after all the boy might be about to lose his father), and told him about the great future the Fates had in store for him (“It’s not the end for you if I die”). He then ordered a deputation to take a reply to Latinus and agree the terms of the truce. This is a soldier speaking, dealing with half a dozen things in three lines. He speaks in the same military manner in 190–4 (this briskness in line 192 might raise the speedy 5D score to 7 out of 9) as Virgil sounds the contrast between bluster and efficiency. Tarrant gives a full and fair account of these points, but his summary on p. 112 does not do justice to Aeneas—“Turnus is full of bustling activity and fierce emotion, while Aeneas exhibits an almost eerie calm and seeks to comfort his companions rather than to stir them up … This is A. at his noblest, and arguably his least interesting.” Aeneas was about to negotiate a truce and fight a duel. This was no time to stir up troops.

Tarrant is also a little unfair to Aeneas when he calls his siege of the Latin city “barbaric,” “a vindictive attack on non-combatants.” Virgil tried to protect Aeneas from such a judgment. He made it clear that Venus put the idea into her son’s mind to go to the city walls (554–5), and he immediately caught sight of the city secure and calm in the 5D, immunem tanti belli atque impune quietem. Then the instant he heard the name of Turnus he left the city walls. Aeneas was not vindictive but desperate to end the war.

Tarrant devotes a dozen pages to the final scene, but neither there nor in his commentary does he do justice to lines 932–4, where Turnus begs Aeneas to take pity on his old father (fuit et tibi talis Anchises genitor). In 10.441–3 Turnus had hunted down a young man and sent the corpse back to his father with sarcastic taunts in 10.491–4. His conduct, as detailed in Harrison’s commentary, “presents a clear contrast with that of Aeneas over Lausus … the greatest point of contrast between the two commanders and essential for their characterization” but Tarrant does not use it. Throughout this Book Virgil sets up many contrasts between Turnus and Aeneas. Surely we need to remember that after Aeneas killed Lausus in 10.808–28, he looked at the young man’s face and thought of his own father, pitied Lausus, praised his valor, and respected his armor and his corpse.

The Aeneid, inter multa alia, praises Augustus by praising his ancestor. If Virgil had favored Turnus above Aeneas, Augustus would have seen it, and we would not be reading the Aeneid today. Tarrant lays stress on Aeneas’ failure to observe his father’s precept, parcere subiectis, in 6.853, but Anchises has just spoken 97 lines praising Roman victories (more than half of them won by his own descendants).

Julius Caesar and Augustus were both ruthless in war, but Virgil shows Aeneas being tempted to be merciful in 12.940. He is the only hero in Homer or the Aeneid who thinks of such a thing, but Tarrant undermines even that by suggesting that his intense anger at the sight of Pallas’ belt “is to some degree directed at himself for having let Pallas fade from his mind … his over-identification with Pallas is a form of compensation.”

Many men beg for mercy in the Iliad and the Aeneid. None receives it. Why should Aeneas break the rule? War is part of epic, and in war men blaze with anger and kill.


In Catullus 64.354 when Achilles hears that Patroclus has been killed, he mows down Trojans, demetit. In Aeneid 10.513 when Aeneas hears that Pallas has been killed, he mows down everything before him, metit, and Michael Putnam deduces that the savagery of Achilles is absorbed by the brutality of Aeneas. By similar lexical arguments Aeneas then becomes Achilles, and later will be Pyrrhus and Juno. The cloud of connections is at its thickest on p. 109 when “Aeneas both becomes Dido and kills her as he slays Turnus.” He has already been Turnus several times. This is no way to read.

The thrust of this book is that Aeneid 12 plots the descent of a man who was famous for his pietas, and becomes a sacker of cities, a killer of women and of a wounded man begging for mercy at his feet. (This is Aeneas’ humanness.) The premise for this is Aeneas’ failure to observe the instruction of his father Anchises in 6.853 to spare the defeated, parcere subiectis. Tarrant calls it a precept, and Putnam invokes it a score of times in his 133 pages. But it is not a precept without the end of the line, et debellare superbos. In 6.756–853 Anchises has delivered a panegyric on the victories which have made Rome ruler of the world. He was more jingoist than pacifist. In 12.324–5, when the Latins violate the truce conference and Aeneas is wounded, Turnus roars into action the moment he sees him leaving the field, ut Aeneam cedentem ex agmine vidit … subita spe fervidus ardet. Anchises would have questioned his son’s sanity if he had spared such a man. Why then recommend clemency here?

At the beginning of his Res Gestae Augustus records that a crown was put over his door recording his Virtus, Clementia, Iustitia, Pietas. But Julius Caesar had massacred Germans as a pacification policy, and there is no conspicuous mercy from Augustus till 28 bc, after his opponents are defeated. For him too, clemency was an instrument of policy, an amnesty offered to those who had fought against him. Parcere subiectis was not an injunction to Roman soldiers to spare enemies wounded in battle, but part of the Augustan settlement, and Augustus’ poet is unobtrusively supporting it.

H-Net Review | Arthurs, Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy

Joshua Arthurs.  Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist
Italy.  Ithaca  Cornell University Press, 2012.  Illustrations. 232
pp.  $45.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8014-4998-7.

Reviewed by Eleanor Chiari (University College London)
Published on H-SAE (June, 2013)
Commissioned by Michael B. Munnik

Excavating a Fascist Future: A New Study of the Fascist Idea of

Joshua Arthurs presents an ambitious argument on the tensions between
Rome’s burdensome past and Fascism’s modernist take on the idea of
“_romanità_” (literally: roman-ness)_ _as played out on the Roman
landscape, in classicist institutions and in Fascist exhibitions. The
main argument of the book is that the idea of _romanità _was central
to the political culture of Fascism, that_ romanità_ was a modernist
rather than conservative concept, and that it was also a model for
solving anxieties about modernity. Although the originality of these
claims is sometimes overstressed, _Excavating Modernity _explores the
theme of _romanità_ more comprehensively than has been done before
while elegantly outlining the tensions between ideas of Rome and
their physical as well as symbolic incarnations over time.[1]

Through in-depth micro-historical analyses, Arthurs successfully
describes the ways in which the Fascist idea of _romanità _was
produced from below as the product of complex negotiations between
different social agents working against Rome’s other powerful
symbolic meanings. During Fascism, an idealized Rome was to be
“liberated,” either from the physical presence of centuries of papal
rule embodied in architecture or from the very corruption of its
people. Rome was to be “excavated” to reveal the “new Rome” of the
Fascist future, which, Arthurs shows, had to contend as much with the
“old Rome” still existing in the present as with shifts in the
political present of the regime, most notably, with the Racial Laws
of 1938.

The book is divided into five chapters, which partially follow a
chronological order. Chapter 1 looks at the “pre-history” of the
Fascist idea of Rome. It presents a fascinating description of
nineteenth-century ideas of Rome as a utopian site for projecting
hopes for the new Italian nation as well as a vehicle for expressing
disappointment around the failures of the Risorgimento. In clear and
sophisticated language, Arthurs shows how the Fascists negotiated the
complex dynamics between modernist condemnations of the capital and
its antiquities and the need to connect to visions of the capital as
the moral heart of the nation. Arthurs focuses particularly on the
March on Rome as a key symbolic moment in which Fascism at once
embodied revolutionary usurpation alongside a restoration of the true
Roman spirit. He shows how Benito Mussolini’s march _against_ the
capital but also_ for_ the capital managed at once to contain and to
give voice to the remnants of Risorgimento patriotism, futurist
anti-_passatismo _(a complex concept, roughly summarized as a
rejection of ‘pastism,’ i.e., an excessive dwelling on the past, or
antiquated thinking); elitist modernism; and expansionist

Chapter 2 focuses in depth on the Istituto di Studi Romani (Institute
for Roman Studies) and its work during the 1920s and 1930s. It
discusses the role that the institute played in attempting to create
a coherent Fascist discourse on Rome, both in the academy and in
relation to the public at large. The institute aimed to bring Roman
studies to the forefront of modern Italian culture by encouraging the
use of Latin among schoolchildren, organizing large-scale
exhibitions, and developing bibliographic projects on Rome, and
promoting such activities as creating a colossal photographic archive
of Roman monuments. Arthurs brings examples of the institute’s
conception of an engaged and “virile” scholarship: he describes an
“epigraphic census” of northern Italian gravestones, aimed at showing
that the Po Valley was Roman; the production of a thirty-volume
history of Rome; courses and field trips for the upper bourgeoisie;
and radio transmissions and popular booklets distributed through the
Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (p. 36)_. _One of the institute’s most
challenging tasks consisted of reconciling the Fascist vision of
_romanità _with the history of Roma Sacra_ _(Christian Rome). Rather
than privileging Rome’s ancient history over the history of the
Catholic Church, or arguing for the church’s role as heir to the
ancient empire, the institute focused on establishing the concept of
_romanità_ as central to both ancient and Christian Rome. By
insisting on the link between _romanità _and faith, the institute
satisfied sections of Catholic opinion threatened by Fascism’s
anticlerical and antipapal historical revisionism while still
asserting a clear supremacy of the new regime over its predecessors.

Chapter 3 looks at Fascist archaeological interventions in the 1920s
and 1930s, and considers how the regime used archaeology as a tool
for urban modernization. It highlights the imagined construction of a
“Roma Nuova”_ _(the new Rome designed by Fascism) set against a “Roma
Antica” (Rome of classical antiquity) to be extricated and liberated
from the corrupt clutches of an unsanitary “Roma Vecchia”_ _(from the
fall of the Roman Empire to 1922). The chapter shows how the
transformations of the Roma Nuova were integrated into the cult of
Mussolini, in which the city was shown to bend to the will of the
Duce, who was renewing the soul of the nation alongside its capital.
It convincingly demonstrates how the remains of the Roman past came
to challenge the regime’s desire to build a monumental city and
highlights how much easier it was for the regime to destroy rather
than to build. In its effort at linking the present directly to the
Roman past, the regime presented an anti-temporal and ahistorical
conception of time and history which was played out aggressively in
the surgical “regeneration” of the modern city.

Chapter 4 focuses on the Mostra Augustea della Romanità (Augustan
Exhibition of “Roman-ness”), which celebrated the bi-millennium of
emperor Augustus in 1937, and relates it both to the successful
Fascist Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista (Exhibition of the Fascist
Revolution) of 1932 and to the Mostra Archeologica (archaeological
exhibition) set up during the liberal period in 1911. The chapter
highlights some of the continuities with earlier exhibitions set to
link the Roman present with the past. It discusses the predictable
symbolic links drawn between Augustus and Mussolini and describes the
Fascist efforts at producing a modernist version of Rome’s triumphal
past. Arthurs describes the content of the themes and presentations
of the exhibition as “totalitarian” and notes how the replicas and
reconstructions of Roman objects that visitors were allowed to handle
reflected a modernist curatorial approach (pp. 103-104). Much like in
Marla Stone’s discussion of the Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista,_
_Arthurs confronts the ambiguities in the general public’s reception
of the exhibition and the methodological difficulties linked to
assessing visitor numbers and reception given the mandatory group
visits; the visits by military personnel; and the use of _treni
popolari _(popular trains), which encouraged visits to such
exhibitions in exchange for significant train fare discounts.[2]_ _

Chapter 5 focuses on the crisis that shifts in Fascist foreign policy
bring to the idea of _romanità_, particularly relating to racial
questions. It highlights the problems involved in reconciling the
image of a universal, inclusive, and imperial Rome with ideas of
ethnic exclusivism. It also dissects some of the academic debates
relating to Germanic tribes, to relations between Rome and Judea, and
to the problem of _romanità _as a legal rather than biological
concept. As _romanità _comes to be seen as a form of “civilization”
in opposition to the supposedly superior Nazi notion of “_Kultur_,”
it also takes a secondary role in the Fascist propaganda project. The
second part of the chapter focuses on the ambivalent relationship
that the Republic of Salò had with _romanità _and with Rome itself,
and it looks specifically at anti-Allied racist imagery and at the
view of the fall of Fascism as symptomatic of the innate failures of
the Italian race. From this theme of crisis, Arthurs concludes by
focusing on the reassertion of Rome’s Catholic character after the
war and the reemergence of the dominance of the idea of Roma Sacra_
_over the Fascist reimagined Roma Antica. By looking into the careers
of the scholars involved in the Istituto di Studi Romani, Arthurs
argues that most of them turned from Fascism to conservative
Catholicism and that the institute continued its work, shifting its
attention, however, to the importance of Rome during the papal era.
Continuity is also found in museum practices, as the new Museo della
Civiltà Romana, inaugurated in 1952, maintained many of the features
and displays of its Fascist predecessor. The continued presence of
the Fascist intervention on the Roman landscape is also discussed,
particularly the completion of some of the major urban projects begun
during the Fascist era, such as the neighborhood around the EUR
(Esposizione Universale Roma, the 1942 world fair, which never took
place due to Italy’s involvement in the Second World War).

Arthurs ends his work with the claim that “arguably the most enduring
legacy of _romanità _stems from the failure of the Fascist project”
and that “Fascism’s revolutionary attempt to excavate Roman modernity
represents not so much the culmination of this trajectory as its
bankrupting” since classicism after the Second World War came to be
equated with the “excesses of totalitarianism, militarism and
imperialism” (p. 155). A whole new chapter of this book could be
written examining the renewed construction of a glorious idea of
_romanità _by the ultra-right in Silvio Berlusconi’s governments
over the past decade and particularly on the uses of Roman spaces in
state commemorations organized by the current mayor of Rome, Gianni
Alemanno (such as the celebration of the anniversary of the Roman
Republic at the Gianicolo in 2013 or the attempted uses of the
Colosseum in Christmas festivities). Some of the most interesting
sections of _Excavating Modernity_ are those dedicated to the ways in
which the city of Rome resisted the efforts of various regimes to
transform it into the idealized city they wished it to be. Rome as a
symbol of the failures of the Italian state and its political class,
as well as of its very people, remains a theme prevalent today in
both the discourses of the Northern League and of antipolitical
movements, such as Beppe Grillo’s Movimento a Cinque Stelle (Five
Star Movement). A serious study of the continuities in the images and
the rhetoric around Rome’s failures would be an important addition to
Arthurs’s work.

_Excavating Modernity_ is a useful addition to a large academic body
of works focused on Fascism and the Roman past. The book’s main focus
on _romanità_ gives it breadth of analysis and depth of focus,
although Rome itself often takes Arthurs on tangents that are much
more exciting than this primary concern. Although the book is clear
and beautifully written, and covers a wide range of topics, it feels
at times conspicuously like a PhD dissertation converted into a book
(particularly chapters 3 and 4), and it feels constrained by its own
methodological confines. That said, it undoubtedly presents a good
summary of the highly complex and fascinating transformations of the
concept of _romanità _and of shifts and continuities in the social
imaginary of Rome over time, making it both an interesting read and a
good place to direct students wishing to gain a greater understanding
of the construction and invention of the Roman past in Fascist Italy.


[1]. See, for example, Marla Stone, “A Flexible Rome: Fascism and the
Cult of Romanità,” in _Roman Presences: Receptions of Rome in
European Culture 1789-1945_, ed. Catherine Edwards (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1999), 205-220; and Flavia Marcello,
“Mussolini and the Idealisation of Empire: The Augustan Exhibition of
Romanità,” _Modern Italy _16, no. 3 (2011): 223-247.

[2]. Marla Stone, “Staging Fascism: The Exhibition of the Fascist
Revolution,” _Journal of Contemporary History_ 28, no. 2 (1993):

Citation: Eleanor Chiari. Review of Arthurs, Joshua, _Excavating
Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy_. H-SAE, H-Net Reviews.
June, 2013.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

Catching up with almost a month’s worth:

  • 2013.06.13:  Branka Migotti, The Archaeology of Roman Southern Pannonia: The State of Research and Selected Problems in the Croatian Part of the Roman Province of Pannonia. BAR International Series, S2393, 2012. bmcr2
  • 2013.06.14:  Trevor Bryce, The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History.
  • 2013.06.15:  Helmut Kyrieleis, Olympia: Archäologie eines Heiligtums. Zaberns Bildbände zur Archäologie.
  • 2013.06.16:  David Sansone, Greek Drama and the Invention of Rhetoric.
  • 2013.06.17:  M. H. Crawford, Imagines Italicae: A Corpus of Italic Inscriptions (3 vols.). Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies supplement 110.
  • 2013.06.18:  Marina Belozerskaya, Medusa’s Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese. Emblems of antiquity.
  • 2013.06.19:  Uwe Ellerbrock, Sylvia Winkelmann, Die Parther: die vergessene Großmacht​.
  • 2013.06.20:  Ellen D. Finkelpearl, An Apuleius Reader: Selections from the Metamorphoses. BC Latin readers.
  • 2013.06.21:  Henri Etcheto, Les Scipions: Famille et pouvoir à Rome à l’époque républicaine. Scripta antiqua, 45.
  • 2013.06.22:  Daniel S. Werner, Myth and Philosophy in Plato’s Phaedrus.
  • 2013.06.23:  Aldo Schiavone, Spartacus (first published 2011). Revealing antiquity, 19.
  • 2013.06.24:  Matthieu Cassin, L’écriture de la controverse chez Grégoire de Nysse: polémique littéraire et exégèse dans le Contre Eunome. Collection des études augustiniennes. Série Antiquité, 193.
  • 2013.06.25:  Maria Vittoria Cerutti, Auctoritas. Mondo tardoantico e riflessi contemporanei.
  • 2013.06.26:  Radek Chlup, Proclus: An Introduction.
  • 2013.06.27:  Sergei A. Kovalenko, Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum: State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Coins of the Black Sea Region, Part I: Ancient Coins from the Northern Black Sea Littoral. Colloquia antiqua, 3.
  • 2013.06.28:  Timothy Luckritz Marquis, Transient Apostle: Paul, Travel, and the Rhetoric of Empire. Synkrisis: Comparative approaches to early Christianity in Greco-Roman culture.
  • 2013.06.29:  Giacomo Manganaro, Pace e guerra nella Sicilia tardo-ellenistica e romana (215 a.C.-14 d.C.): ricerche storiche e numismatiche. Nomismata, 7.
  • 2013.06.30:  Stefano U. Baldassarri, Benedetta Aldi, William J. Connell, Giannozzo Manetti. Historia Pistoriensis. Il ritorno dei classici nell’Umanesimo, IV: Edizione nazionale dei testi della storiografia umanistica, 7.
  • 2013.06.31:  Can Bilsel, Antiquity on Display: Regimes of the Authentic in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. Classical Presences.
  • 2013.06.32:  Silvia Fazzo, Il libro Lambda della Metafisica di Aristotele. Elenchos, 61.
  • 2013.06.33:  Barbara Cavaliere, Jennifer Udell, Ancient Mediterranean Art: The William D. and Jane Walsh Collection at Fordham University.
  • 2013.06.34:  Paul Schubert, Actes du 26e Congrès international de papyrologie, Genève, 16-21 août 2010. Recherches et rencontres, 30​.
  • 2013.06.35:  Gary Forsythe, Time in Roman Religion: One Thousand Years of Religious History. Routledge studies in ancient history, 4.
  • 2013.06.36:  Manfred Clauss, Mithras: Kult und Mysterium.
  • 2013.06.37:  John A. Pinto, Speaking Ruins: Piranesi, Architects and Antiquity in Eighteenth-Century Rome. Thomas Spencer Jerome lectures.
  • 2013.06.38:  Foteini Kolovou, Byzanzrezeption in Europa. Spurensuche über das Mittelalter und die Renaissance bis in die Gegenwart. Byzantinisches Archiv Band 24.
  • 2013.06.39:  Wiebke Friese, Die Kunst vom Wahn- und Wahrsagen. Orakelheiligtümer in der antiken Welt.
  • 2013.06.40:  Ioanna Patera, Offrir en Grèce ancienne: gestes et contextes. Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge, Bd 41.
  • 2013.06.41:  Andreas Markantonatos, Brill’s Companion to Sophocles.
  • 2013.06.42:  Danuta Okoń, Septimius Severus et senatores: Septimius Severus’ Personal Policy towards Senators in the Light of Prosopographic Research (193-211 A.D.) Uniwersytet Szczeciński. Rozprawy i studia, 828.
  • 2013.06.43:  Aurélie Damet, La septième porte : les conflits familiaux dans l’Athènes classique. Histoire ancienne et médiévale, 115.
  • 2013.06.44:  Robin Osborne, Athens and Athenian Democracy.
  • 2013.06.45:  Marine Bretin-Chabrol, L’arbre et la lignée: métaphores végétales de la filiation et de l’alliance en latin classique. Horos.
  • 2013.06.46:  John Briscoe, A Commentary on Livy, Books 41-45.
  • 2013.07.02:  Bernd Steinmann, Die Waffengräber der ägäischen Bronzezeit: Waffenbeigaben, soziale Selbstdarstellung und Adelsethos in der minoisch-mykenischen Kultur. Philippika, 52​.
  • 2013.07.03:  Stella Georgoudi, Renée Koch Piettre, Francis Schmidt, La raison des signes: présages, rites, destin dans les sociétés de la méditerranée ancienne. Religions in the Graeco-Roman world, 174.

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

  • 2013.06.12:  Gianfranco Nuzzo, Publio Papinio Stazio, Achilleide.
  • 2013.06.11:  Pierre Sauzeau, André​ Sauzeau, La quatrième fonction: altérité et marginalité dans l’idéologie des Indo-Européens. Vérité des mythes​.
  • 2013.06.10:  Benjamin W. Millis, S. Douglas Olson, Inscriptional Records for the Dramatic Festivals in Athens: IG II2 2318-2325 and Related Texts. Brill studies in Greek and Roman epigraphy.
  • 2013.06.09:  Simon Goldhill, Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy. Onassis series in Hellenic culture.
    2013.06.08:  Gregson Davis, The Interplay of Ideas in Vergilian Bucolic. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 346.
    2013.06.07:  Danielle Gourevitch, Pour une archéologie de la médecine romaine. Collection Pathographie, 8.
  • 2013.06.06:  Rachel Barney, Tad Brennan, Charles Brittain, Plato and the Divided Self.
  • 2013.06.05:  Sherry Lou Macgregor, Beyond Hearth and Home: Women in the Public Sphere in Neo-Assyrian Society. Publications of the Foundation for Finnish Assyriological Research, 5; State Archives of Assyria studies, 21.
  • 2013.06.04:  W. R. Paton, F. W. Walbank, Christian Habicht, S. Douglas Olson, Polybius: The Histories. Volume VI, Books 28-39 (revised edition), Unattributed fragments. Loeb Classical Library, 161.
  • 2013.06.03:  Andrew Monson, From the Ptolemies to the Romans: Political and Economic Change in Egypt.
  • 2013.06.02:  Anthony Kaldellis, Dimitris Krallis, Michael Attaleiates: The History. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, 16.

CJ Online Review | MacSweeney, Community Identity and Archaeology

posted with permission:

Community Identity and Archaeology: Dynamic Communities in Aphrodisias and Beycesultan. By Naoíse MacSweeney. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2011. Pp. viii + 266. Hardcover, $75.00. ISBN 978-0-472-02765-1.

Reviewed by Christoph Bachhuber, The Free University of Berlin

There has been a welcome trend in the archaeology of Anatolia to synthesize material from previously published excavations. Much of this is being done by Anglophone archaeologists with interpretive frameworks developed in Anglophone archaeology. The book under review is such a study. More specifically it is an engagement with M. A. Canuto and J. Yaeger’s edited volume, The Archaeology of Communities: A New World Perspective (London, 2000).

The book is divided into three parts: 1) theoretical development of the concept of community in archaeology; 2) the Late Bronze Age (LBA) and Iron Age (IA) at Beycesultan in southwestern Turkey; and 3) the LBA and IA at nearby Aprhodisias. The structure of the volume reveals its origins as an Anglophone PhD dissertation in archaeology: theory, followed by case studies where theory is applied.

The first part of the book (Chapters 1–5) was a pleasure to read and a useful overview of the concept of “community,” as a potentially ambiguous term in the social sciences, and archaeology in particular. It succeeds in explaining how “communities” have been studied in the historical development of Anglophone archaeology through its culture historical, processual, and post-processual phases. For MacSweeney, recent theoretical developments offer an opportunity to study communities in the late prehistoric/early historic periods in western Anatolia, in particular the relationship between material culture and the self-conscious creation of identities.

The book hinges on the creation of one kind of community identity in particular: a spatially focused “geographic community” defined by a shared identification with places and territories. MacSweeney suggests convincingly: “It is the spatial and emplaced nature of the geographical community that makes it particularly appropriate for study in archaeology.” The concept of the geographic community allows MacSweeney to divide all relevant material culture from Beycesultan and Aphrodisias into two categories: 1) material culture which is used to create a sense of “Us”; and 2) material culture which is used to create oppositions between “Us” and “Them.”

As regards the former, community identities are strongest when material culture is used to foster cohesion and downplay social differentiation. As regards the latter, oppositions between “Us” and “Them” can also strengthen community identities in situations when a social group defines itself in opposition to “the external Other.” The external Other is a non-local social entity that can be represented in the presence of non-local material culture. Alternatively, “Us”-versus-“Them” oppositions can weaken community identities, in particular when material culture is used to emphasize differences in rank/status or affinity within a given settlement.

Chapter 6 introduces the broader archaeological and historical context of western Anatolia during the LBA and IA. This is a thoughtful discussion of how western Anatolia has existed in a geographical margin between two regions that have enjoyed more academic attention: the (Classical) Aegean and the Anatolian Plateau (of the Hittite kingdom and empire). Consequently, most previous research in western Anatolia has been framed by questions that ask to what extent the societies of this region have been influenced by the Aegean or the Anatolian Plateau. As such, societies in western Anatolia have become passive responders to “historical” forces emanating out of the west and the east. MacSweeney acknowledges the salience of distant influences on material culture and societies, but asks how and why social groups in western Anatolia chose to embrace, modify or reject material culture from distant origins. These choices relate directly to the creation, strengthening or dissolution of community identities/bonds in western Anatolia.

Chapter 7 is a case study based on the LBA and IA material culture of Beycesultan, when the settlement likely existed as a regional center. Two broad trends were reconstructed: 1) towards greater community identity during periods of external threat (from the LBA Hittites) or during periods of regional instability (Early IA). This is manifest in more homogenous, more local and less stratified material culture, and in evidence for socially integrative activities like feasting; and 2) towards a weakening of community identity, in periods of relative stability and prosperity that benefitted emergent local elites, who strove self-consciously to differentiate themselves from non-elites in the same settlement.

Chapter 8 is a case study based on the LBA and IA material culture of Aphrodisias. Compared with Beycesultan, Aphrodisias was more like a village during these periods. Similar criteria were used to distinguish phases of more community or less community, though the settlement of Aphrodisias responded to the historical circumstances of the LBA and IA in different ways to Beycesultan (indeed in opposite ways). MacSweeney attributes this to the relative size and geo-political importance of Beycesultan vs. Aphrodisias.

Reading Chapter 7 and Chapter 8, I was left wondering how much community (or lack of community) can be reconstructed from the limited horizontal extent of excavation from the two sites. At Beycesultan, excavation trenches on the LBA and IA uncovered at most three buildings from one level in a single trench. At Aphrodisias, only fragments of a single building were uncovered from each level. There is never enough data in archaeology, but this narrow data set appears to have been too easily inserted into MacSweeney’s interpretive framework. Long passages/discussions with minimal or no citation in Chapters 7–8, and redundancy in argumentation were two manifestations of this.

The volume will be valued for its thoughtful treatment of communities in archaeology (alongside Canuto and Yaeger’s Archaeology of Communities), but less so for insights into the LBA and IA settlements of Beycesultan and Aphrodisias.

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

  • 2013.05.50:  Carole E. Newlands, Statius, Poet between Rome and Naples. Classical literature and society.
  • 2013.05.49:  Denis Searby, Ewa Balicka Witakowska, Johan Heldt, ΔΩΡΟΝ ΡΟΔΟΠΟΙΚΙΛΟΝ: Studies in Honour of Jan Olof Rosenqvist. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia, 12. bmcr2
  • 2013.05.48:  Lucio Cristante, Luciano Lenaz, Martiani Capellae De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii. Vol. 1, Libri I – II. Bibliotheca Weidmanniana, 15.1.
  • 2013.05.47:  Francesco Montarese, Lucretius and his Sources: A Study of Lucretius, De rerum natura I 635-920. Sozomena, 12.
  • 2013.05.46:  Mauro Tulli, L’autore pensoso: un seminario per Graziano Arrighetti sulla coscienza letteraria dei Greci. Ricerche di filologia classica, 6. Biblioteca di Studi antichi 95.
  • 2013.05.45:  Iain McDaniel, Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Roman Past and Europe’s Future.
  • 2013.05.44:  Philip Freeman, Marcus Tullius Cicero. How to Run a Country: An Ancient Guide for Modern Leaders.
  • 2013.05.43:  Cécile Morrisson, Trade and Markets in Byzantium. Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine symposia and colloquia.
  • 2013.05.42:  Vanna Maraglino, Scienza antica in età moderna: teoria e immagini, Biblioteca della tradizione classica, 1​
  • 2013.05.41:  Norman B. Sandridge, Loving Humanity, Learning, and Being Honored: The Foundations of Leadership in Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus. Hellenic studies, 55.
  • 2013.05.40:  Bonna Daix Wescoat, The Temple of Athena at Assos. Oxford monographs on classical archaeology.
  • 2013.05.39:  Paul Ryan, Plato’s Phaedrus: A Commentary for Greek Readers. Oklahoma series in classical culture, 47.
  • 2013.05.38:  James Renshaw, In Search of the Romans.
  • 2013.05.37:  S. P. Vleeming, Demotic and Greek-Demotic Mummy Labels and Other Short Texts Gathered from Many Publications (Short Texts II 278-1200) (2 vols.). Studia demotica, 9 (A-B).
  • 2013.05.36:  Peter Pavuk, Barbara Horejs, Mittel- und spätbronzezeitliche Keramik Griechenlands. Sammlung Fritz Schachermeyr, Faszikel III. Denkschriften der philosophisch-historischen Klasse, 439; Veröffentlichungen der Mykenischen Kommission, 31.
  • 2013.05.35:  Tim Stover, Epic and Empire in Vespasianic Rome: A New Reading of Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica.
  • 2013.05.34:  Brian Campbell, Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome. Studies in the History of Greece and Rome.
  • 2013.05.33:  Giovanni Roberto Ruffini, A Prosopography of Byzantine Aphrodito. American studies in papyrology, 50.
  • 2013.05.32:  Enrica Sciarrino, Cato the Censor and the Beginnings of Latin prose: From Poetic Translation to Elite Transcription.
  • 2013.05.31:  Lâtife Summerer, Pompeiopolis I: eine Zwischenbilanz aus der Metropole Paphlagoniens nach fünf Kampagnen (2006–2010). Schriften des Zentrums für Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte des Schwarzmeerraumes, Bd 21.
  • 2013.05.30:  Roman Müller​, Antike Dichtungslehre: Themen und Theorien.

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

  • 2013.05.29:  Grazia Maria Masselli, Riflessi di magia: virtù e virtuosismi della parola in Roma antica. Studi latini, 81.
  • 2013.05.28:  Éric Rebillard, Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200-450 CE.bmcr2
  • 2013.05.27:  Paolo d’Alessandro, Varrone e la tradizione metrica antica. Spudasmata, Bd. 143.
  • 2013.05.26:  Jean MacIntosh Turfa, Divining the Etruscan World: the Brontoscopic Calendar and Religious Practice.
  • 2013.05.25:  Nikos Giannakopoulos, Θεσμοί και λειτουργία των πόλεων της Εύβοιας: κατά τους ελληνιστικούς και τους αυτοκρατορικούς χρόνους. Πηγές και Μελέτες Ιστορίας Ελληνικού και Ρωμαϊκού Δικαίου, 7.
  • 2013.05.24:  Luc Brisson, Platon. Oeuvres completes (nouvelle édition revue; first published 2008)​
  • 2013.05.23:  Christian Zgoll, Römische Prosodie und Metrik: Ein Studienbuch mit Audiodateien.
  • 2013.05.22:  Norbert Eschbach, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Archäologisches Institut der Universität Göttingen, 4, Attisch rotfigurige Keramik, Deutschland, Bd 92.
  • 2013.05.21:  Evan Hayes, Stephen Nimis, Lucian’s ‘On the Syrian Goddess’: An Intermediate Greek Reader.
  • 2013.05.20:  Richard Evans, A History of Pergamum: Beyond Hellenistic Kingship.
  • 2013.05.19:  Christoph Helmig, Forms and Concepts: Concept Formation in the Platonic Tradition. Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca et Byzantina, Bd 5.
  • 2013.05.18:  Rhiannon Ash, Tacitus. Oxford readings in classical studies.
  • 2013.05.17:  Timothy A. Joseph, Tacitus the Epic Successor: Virgil, Lucan, and the Narrative of Civil War in the Histories. Mnemosyne Supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin Language and Literature, 345.
  • 2013.05.16:  Bernd Manuwald, Sophokles. König Ödipus. Griechische Dramen.

CJ Online Review | Blondell on Ancient Platonic Reception

Posted with permission:

Platonic Drama and its Ancient Reception. By Nikos G. Charalabopoulos. Cambridge Classical Studies. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xxi + 331. Hardcover, £60.00/$99.00. ISBN 978-0-521-87174-7.

Plato and the Traditions of Ancient Literature: The Silent Stream. By Richard Hunter. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. vii + 279. Hardcover, £60.00/$99.00. ISBN 978-1-107-01292-9.

Reviewed by Ruby Blondell, University of Washington

Two books of similar length, by two scholars with close ties to Cambridge, published by the same press, in the same year, and treating related topics from a similar methodological perspective. Both are deeply learned (though Hunter’s 16-page bibliography is dwarfed by Charalabopoulos’, which weighs in at 48). Both, too, are Janus-faced, looking back at Plato’s engagement with the cultural traditions that formed him as well as on to later writers who engaged with him in turn. One of our authors is, however, a seasoned scholar, the other a neophyte. Charalabopoulos’ book still bears—for better or worse—the imprint of its origins in a Cambridge PhD dissertation, while Hunter’s joins the distinguished bibliography of that university’s Regius Professor of Greek.

Platonic Drama and its Ancient Reception is intended to show that “there was throughout antiquity a tradition of interpreting the Platonic dialogue as a piece of dramatic performance literature” (256). The key phrase here is “throughout antiquity.” Charalabopoulos does, as we would expect, discuss the evidence from the Roman period for the dialogues as sympotic entertainment; but he argues that such performance was not an imperial invention but a practice instituted by Plato himself. When he claims that Plato’s “authorial identity” was that of an “alternative dramatist” (104), Charalabopoulos means not only that the dialogues are in their essence dramatic (in some sense), but also that they were composed for performance by multiple speakers in theatrical style—or even “a full production in the manner of plays” (20). These two points are logically distinct (though Charalabopoulos does not always separate them). But he believes that the latter, no less than the former, was intrinsic to the philosopher’s purpose in creating the dialogues to challenge and supplant the cultural authority of theater.

The book commences with a thorough and well documented survey of current work in “literary” Plato studies, especially the now substantial bibliography on Plato’s relationship to drama. Chapter 2 treats the “dramatic” nature of Plato’s dialogues in general terms, ending with more detailed discussions of the Republic and Laws. Chapter 3 examines the evidence—such as it is—for the performance of the dialogues in Plato’s own time. Finally, the very long Chapter 4 analyses several intriguing pieces of post-classical evidence linking Plato’s dialogues with dramatic performance. The most substantive of these are the remarks about Plato as “dinner theater” in Plutarch and Athenaeus, together with a mosaic from Herculaneum juxtaposing scenes from Menander with a panel of Platonic characters (handsomely reproduced on the jacket).

One can learn about many things from this extraordinarily learned book—from dinner parties at Plato’s house (224) to the intricacies of Byzantine musical notation (226-38). Not all of what one learns is, however, strictly pertinent to the author’s thesis. Chapter 4, for example, includes a great deal of technical detail regarding various statues of Socrates, whose relevance is tenuous at best. The detailed summary of the evidence on such points, fully documented in lengthy footnotes, will be valuable for scholars, especially those new to the field; but it is unclear what some of these surveys contribute to the book’s central argument.

That argument itself suffers from a certain imprecision regarding the “dramatic” or “performative” nature of Plato’s dialogues, by which Charalabopoulos sets such store. It is clear enough that Plato engages with drama at every turn, both discursively and through his choice of form. It is likely, too, that he intended at least some of the dialogues for performance (though not all necessarily in the same way or for the same kind of audience). As Charalabopoulos is well aware, however, virtually all classical texts were originally “performed” in some sense. He therefore needs to clarify what, in his view, makes these specific texts “performative” in a way that distinguishes them from (say) the performances of a Homeric rhapsode, or even of Thucydides or Herodotus (whose speeches likewise involve the “role-playing” that Charalabopoulos treats as a touchstone of theater). He needs to say more, in particular, about the distinction between “theatrical” performance by multiple actors and histrionic recitation by a single narrator (which seems appropriate, for obvious reasons, to the narrated dialogues).

Charalabopoulos seems to have left no stone unturned in his quest for traces of the ancient fascination with “dramatic” aspects of Plato’s dialogues. Chapter 4, in particular, is a mine of obscure information from the byways of Platonic reception. Yet despite this assiduous collection and analysis of the evidence, at the end of the day what he does prove is not new (no doubt at least some of the dialogues were recited or otherwise performed upon occasion) and what he wants to prove is not convincing (“a full production in the manner of plays”). That said, Chapter 3 ends with an appealing suggestion. Here Charalabopoulos relates the performance of the dialogues to the founding of the Academy, which “as a community of like-minded individuals … offered an alternative to civic institutions” (141). As such, he suggests, the Academy provided for the performance of Platonic dialogues, displacing the traditional institutional framework of theatrical festivals. This attractive idea remains, however, little more than speculation. When Charalabopoulos describes Thrasyllus’ procedure as “wishful guesswork” (184), the phrase, alas, applies all too accurately to his own.

Since Charalabopoulos’ work is marked by scrupulous intellectual honesty, this results in a palpable tension. His most characteristic rhetorical maneuver is a kind of intellectual seesaw, where he acknowledges that the evidence he has just outlined does not prove his point, but goes on to insist that, since it doesn’t disprove it either, his desired conclusion could be true (e.g. pp. 194-6, 222, 228, 230, 248-9). He has done himself a disservice, however, by binding his evidence to the Procrustean bed of his overarching thesis, instead of seeing where it may lead in its own terms. As he himself remarks (256), his work has interesting potential for the history of Platonic reception. There is much to be said about the perception of Plato’s works as “dramatic,” and about the history of Platonic performance (which is by no means dead), without resorting to dubious claims about Plato’s own time. The book is, then, rather less than the sum of its parts. Yet many of those parts remain intriguing.

Richard Hunter’s new book, Plato and the Traditions of Ancient Literature: The Silent Stream, begins, appropriately, with Lucian’s rewriting of one of the most famous literary beginnings of all time: the opening of Plato’s Phaedrus, which, as Hunter argues, became a marker of Hellenic cultural identity in the Roman period. As this opening signals, the “traditions” referred to in Hunter’s title are primarily those of the Second Sophistic. His enigmatic subtitle alludes to Longinus’ characterization of Plato’s style as a “noiseless flow” (7 n. 28). For the most part, however, the book focusses on texts where the flow is quite noisy—not to say a deafening roar—that is, where there can be no mistake about these writers’ conscious engagement with Plato’s texts. Hunter guides us expertly on a series of more or less interrelated journeys along that abundant river.

Plato stands at the heart of the Second Sophistic’s intense preoccupation with classical literature, not only for reasons of style and theme but also, as Hunter shows, because of his concern with textuality, voice and narrative. But the overwhelming cultural prestige assigned to the philosopher by authors of this period also obliged them to come to terms with such awkward matters as his rejection of Homer and elevation of pederasty—not to mention his embarrassing departures from the very pure, lucid style for which he was admired. Hunter is concerned with the complex negotiations that this entailed, and the resulting role played by Plato’s texts in the formation of the distinctive literary culture of the 2nd century ce. Yet he also casts an eye back towards Plato’s own use of tradition, arguing that for the ancient critics, the philosopher’s attention to earlier literature means that “engagement with Plato always entailed also Plato’s own relationship with other texts” (9).

After a far-ranging introductory chapter Hunter turns, in his lengthy Chapter 2, to Plato’s problematic relationship with poetry, and above all Homer. He is most interested in the way that relationship was construed by later authors, especially their need to defang the philosopher’s critique of the divine Homer (for example through allegory). Yet there are also perceptive comments about Plato in his own right, especially in the discussion of certain Platonic images. He situates the Republic’s Ship of State, for example, in the context of Theognis, Aristophanes, and Thucydides, showing how “deeply veined” it is “with the heritage of classical literature” (79).

The four remaining chapters each maintain a tighter focus. Chapter 3 begins with Plato’s Apology, then traces that dialogue’s reception from Isocrates to Apuleius. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 reverse this critical perspective, to study the multifarious use of Plato by specific authors of the Roman period. Chapter 4 is devoted to Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ engagement with Phaedrus and the challenges that dialogue posed to orators. In Chapter 5 Hunter elucidates the bountiful Platonic menu from which Plutarch drew in his Amatorius. Finally, Chapter 6 parses ways in which the novelists—specifically Apuleius and Petronius—reacted to Plato’s erotic dialogues from the perspective of narrative. There the book ends, rather abruptly.

A broad spectrum of Second Sophistic genres and authors thus fall within Hunter’s purview. Where Plato himself is concerned, the Symposium and Phaedrus naturally play a starring role, thanks to the abiding significance of eros for both philosophers and novelists. Phaedrus is important for additional reasons (including its iconic opening). As for the Symposium—the subject of a short introductory book by Hunter published in 2004—a highlight among its several appearances here is the discussion of Petronius’ vulgar riff on Alcibiades’ notorious failure to seduce Socrates (246-55). An impressive number of other dialogues are also grist to Hunter’s mill. His treatment of the Apology is particularly valuable. Chapter 3 shows deftly how this work was simultaneously “genre-defining” and “genre-defying” (118), an observation that comes sharply into focus when the speech is viewed through its multiple receptions.

The early history of literary criticism was not only driven by the need to respond to Plato’s critique of Homer but foreshadowed in Plato’s own writings. In Chapter 1 Hunter argues that Plato’s Ion launched the literary scholarship of Homer, including certain modern concerns such as authorial intention (89-108). Subsequent chapters show repeatedly how later authors used Plato “as a chief witness against Plato” (183)—a tactic also employed, for example, by Nietzsche, who “turns a specifically Platonic dagger against Plato himself” when he characterizes the dialogues as a “mixture of all available styles and forms” (224-5). In short, Plato himself invented the tools that were later used to attack/defend/interpret him—tools of which we are in many cases the heirs. For as Hunter makes clear, we are still swimming in the stream of his title. He rightly warns against easy dismissal of early interpretive practices, which bear close relationship to some of our own (51), and urges a generous spirit in approaching our ancient forebears (67). As scholars, we live in glass houses from which we cannot afford to cast stones at the seeming naivete of our predecessors.

By way of preface to his project, Hunter worries that Plato is “too often left to ‘the philosophers’,” fearing that “our” distinction between “literature” and “philosophy” is at risk of becoming sclerotic (10). This seems at first blush rather odd, given the current state of Plato scholarship. “Literary” Plato is thriving (not least at Cambridge University Press). Countless scholars, including many of “the philosophers,” have grasped the importance of approaching Plato as a writer—one with a complex and fraught relationship to “literature”—for understanding him as a thinker (a trend well documented by Charalabopoulos). But this is not, in fact, what Hunter has in mind. He wants, rather, to reclaim Plato for the kind of unabashedly “literary” study that does not aspire to elucidate Plato’s thought as such. There is plenty of room for such scholarship, considering the multiple strands—or streams—of Platonic influence that have wound through every aspect of European intellectual traditions. As Hunter freely acknowledges, there are “many Platos” (10). Yet the slightly defensive presentation of his case buys into and reinforces the problematic dichotomy of which he complains—just at a time when the sclerosis in question seems to be softening.

In contrast with Charalabopoulos’ book, where I noticed a handful of typographical errors, along with some linguistic oddities and solecisms, Hunter’s is impeccably written, produced, and edited. I caught only one small error (Fernández-Galiano, cited in n. 209 on p. 106, is missing a date and absent from the bibliography). His lucid scholarly style is smoother than Charalabopoulos’ rather awkward prose, but equally old-fashioned (both use ad instead of ce, and “men” for “human beings”), and a magisterial “of course” is sprinkled rather too freely through the text. Hunter’s book also differs from Charalabopoulos’ in its lack of a strong unifying thesis (the absence of a concluding chapter seems symptomatic). As a whole, it offers less a cohesive, focussed argument than a series of explorations, dipping into a stream that Hunter would be the first to admit is inexhaustible. There is more than enough here, however, to demonstrate the towering importance of Plato’s oeuvre, which stands as a massive rock or island in the gathering flow of early literary criticism, one that diverted and transformed its course forever.

CJ Online Review | Clauss and Cuypers, Companion to Hellenistic Literature

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A Companion to Hellenistic Literature. Edited by James J. Clauss and Martine Cuypers. Oxford and Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Hardcover, £136.00/$218.95. Pp. xxv + 550. ISBN 978-1-405-13679-2.

Reviewed by J. Andrew Foster, Fordham University

This addition to Blackwell’s “Companions to the Ancient World” sports thirty essays from a wide array of European and North American scholars. Following Droysen’s traditional historical dating of the Hellenistic period (323–31 BCE) as coterminous with a literary epoch, the editors have arranged the essays in four sections. A substantial “Poetry” and a smaller “Prose” sections comprise the bulk of the volume while a brief overview of “Contexts” of literary production introduces the work and a rapid and very select multi-cultural survey of non-Hellenic, but Hellenistic literary traditions oddly entitled, “Neighbors,” closes it. Clauss then provides a closing coda that outlines Roman literature’s debts to Hellenistic Greek literature.

After the editors’ “Introduction,” which offers and overview of the contents and the rationale for the Companion’s organization, the “Contexts” section opens with Erskine’s wonderfully succinct overview of the history “From Alexander to Augustus.” Strootman (“Literature and the Kings”) describes the dominant cultural institutions and practices that promoted and privileged certain forms of literary and artistic expression. Stephens (“Ptolemaic Alexandria”) narrows Strootman’s focus as she surveys Alexandria as a particularly rich site in which we can observe how a long established indigenous civilization thoroughly infuses the conscious construction of a “Greek” identity within Alexander’s cosmopolis. Wissmann (“Education’) offers a more specialized sociology of education during the period. The first three are essential reading for anyone interested in a broad overview of the period and its cultural institutions, but Wissman’s contribution, which relies heavily upon Cribiore’s ground-breaking work (e.g. 65–8) seems only tangentially related to the rest of the Companion’s subject matter.

The “Poetry” section, as the nature of preservation and transmission dictates, comprises nearly half of the entire volume. Acosta-Hughes’ opening “The Pre-Figured Muse” provides a synthetic overview of Hellenistic poetics that the advanced undergraduate and/or non-specialist will welcome. The subsequent contributions are ostensibly organized by genre most broadly conceived (cf. xiv–xv), but the section vacillates irregularly between individual works of specific poets (“Callimachus’ Aitia” and “Apollonius’ Argonautica”), individual poets (“Aratus,” “Nicander”—in lieu of a single entry on “Didactic Poetry”?), individuals as exemplars of particular genres (“Herodas and the Mime” “Menander’s Comedy” “The Bucolic Fiction of Theocritus,” “Idyll 6 and the Development of Bucolic after Theocritus”), individuals as the closest approximation of genre whose remains have been virtually obliterated (“Hellenistic Tragedy and Lycophron’s Alexandra). Three of the contributions provide the more straightforward accounts of particular genres that the editors’ introduction had led us to expect (“Epigram” “Hymns and Encomia” “Iambos and Parody” ) though even here we find Fantuzzi’s highly specialized (and for the specialist highly stimulating), “Sung Poetry: The Case of the Insribed Paean.” Murray’s “Hellenistic Elegy” also surveys a much narrower tranche of poetry while Ambrühl serviceably overviews hexameter poetry that is not the Argonautica, didactic, or a hymn (“Narrative Hexameter Poetry,” 151–65), even if it reads as an a nearly arbitrary construct necessitated by the eclectic organization of the volume.

In general, that organizational variety does not lead as much to repetition (for which a proleptic apologetic had been issued (xiv) as a lack of balance. Callimachus’ Aitia receives outsized treatment (Acosta Hughes, Harder and Murray each attend to it) while other works are relegated to cursory treatment in the more panoramic accounts of a particular genre (e.g. Callimachus’ Hecale receives only scant attention). Theocritus suffers a somewhat similar fate though neither Payne’s highly specialized discussion of Theocritean bucolic mimesis nor Reed’s survey of his bucolic successors give as useful an introduction to Theocritus as found in Harder’s excellent account of the Aitia (92–5); however, Bulloch’s section of “Hymns and Encomia” devoted to Theocritus (174–8) admirably illustrates and summarizes the vividly episodic nature of his densely allusive poetry.

The editorial decision to divorce some works from their authors but not others renders this Companion a rather unwieldy instrument, but the very thorough index can readily assist the reader interested in stitching together a comprehensive survey of a particular author or genre. Be that as it may, a number of the “Poetry” contributions offer the best of both worlds: succinct, synthetic overviews of authors, works and themes and close reading of particular passages. Sens’ heroic effort to rehabilitate Lycophron (“Hellenistic Tragedy and Lycophron’s Alexandra”) in particular furnishes an excellent example of a well-organized, close reading of a text that exemplifies the difficulties of making large swathes of Hellenistic literature accessible to undergraduates. “Lycophron’s riddling style, often denigrated as a mark of Hellenistic self-indulgence, requires patience …” (309). Indeed. As always a multi-authored collection will provide plenty with which a specialist would quibble, but on balance the essays dedicated to a genre or author provide even-handed and up-to-date overviews of their subjects while those dedicated to a specific work or particular facet of an author’s praxis will be of interest and use to the more advanced.

The “Prose” section confronts the twin challenges of poor preservation and overlap with existing Blackwell Companions. Cuypers directly confronts those issues in her introductory overview of how indirect transmission constrains the scholar’s ability to construct a literary history for the prose literature of the period (318). The abundant scientific literature of the period receives only the barest of summaries although there is a fine selection of specialized studies in the “Suggestions for Further Readings.” Whitmarsh’s “Prose Fiction” offers a fine overview of select variety of texts, motifs and story forms that are indicative of the cross-cultural exchange that informs literary production both within native/indigenous literary traditions and mesh well with the subsequent contributions in the “Neighbors” section. Gowing (“Historiography from Polybius to Dionysius”) devotes most of his attention to examining the impact of Roman conquest on the Greek historical imagination (385) and so is primarily concerned with the transformation of Hellenistic historiography. Gutzwiller’s “Literary Criticism” provides a measured and focused synopsis of the topic. She cleverly does so by raising two trenchant questions—“What is the Function of Literature?” and “How to Divide the Poetic Art?”—to organize the essay. She then well summarizes Euphonist, Stoic and more eclectic responses to these perennial questions. Her contribution in particular will serve any reader well.

“Neighbors” is an innovative attempt to survey the cross-cultural influences precipitated by Alexander’s conquests and his successors’ varying administrative regimes and cultural programs within a highly distinct cultural contexts, although I am not sure the choice of title is appropriate to the realities experienced. Gruen’s selective study of specific Jewish texts (“Jewish Literature”) is masterful reading of particulars (see especially “The Third Sibyl,” 423–5) but one wonders if a broader discussion of Wisdom and Apocalyptic literature—two genres of Jewish literature that are clearly products of a changed cultural and political landscape—would have been as useful as Dieleman’s and Moyer’s overview of Hellenized Egyptian literature is (“Egyptian Literature”). Knippschild’s similar survey of literary production within more or less Seleucid domains (“Literature in Western Asia”) seems to strain to find native literature let alone literature with a pronounced Hellenistic influence. Berossos may have written in Greek but, as the author concedes, he hewed very closely to established indigenous literary forms (i.e. list-making (457–8)).

The “Suggestions for Further Reading” at the close of each essay are very helpful, but it might have been more useful if the comprehensive bibliography had been organized into a general bibliography followed by specific ones organized by article under the assumption that no one reads a Companion cover to cover—especially one covering such a variegated collection of literary remains. The index is crucial for this Companion’s functional utility. In this respect it does not disappoint. Undergraduates will particularly appreciate that each individual work discussed is listed under the entry devoted to the relevant ancient author.

In sum, Hellenistic literature resists a synoptic survey. Fragmentary remains of such disparate provenance, form and purpose make it hard to offer a panoramic survey. The nature of the material coupled with a “polyphony” (xiv) of scholarly voices and an eclectic arrangement create a Companion that, like so much of the literature it selectively surveys, furnishes some real gems even as it pushes beyond the limits of the genre.

CJ Online Review | König, Saints and Symposiasts

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Saints and Symposiasts: the Literature of Food and the Symposium in Greco-Roman and Early Christian Culture. By Jason König. Greek Culture in the Roman World. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xii + 417. Hardcover, £70.00/$115.00. ISBN 978-0-521-88685-7.

Reviewed by Simon Swain, University of Warwick

This book explores how “telling stories about eating and drinking … was a way of conjuring up idealized images of community and identity (or in some cases images of aberrant or transgressive community)” (6). The specific focus is the literature of the Roman period. For despite recent work on Plutarch and Athenaeus, further progress needs to be made “with reference not only to the philosophical table-talk tradition, the main aim of Part I, but also to the novelistic and satirical prose literature of the Roman empire,” which is the focus of Part II. A good part of this focus and undoubtedly a strength of the book is the inclusion of Christian texts and their “function as narratives” and the “ideals and provocations” they dangle before their readers (14–15).

König turns to texts in Ch. 2, starting with Plutarch’s interesting prefaces in the Symposiaka and then does what he can to dignify Athenaeus. As he notes, Athenaeus has suffered from a feeling that he is not very good. One can counter this by suggesting that his miscellanist/encyclopedist skills were “highly prestigious” to contemporaries (but that does not answer the objection). Miscellanism certainly has “dynamic potential,” but we might ask what proportion of literature did it form and how far did major authors go in for it (cf. p. 227: “these were not necessarily texts with an enormously wide readership”)? König theorizes his discussion in two ways. First, that the shuffling of quotations is a mode of engaging directly with dead authors. This is all overdone. Next Bakhtin and Todorov are invoked; but as he admits, for symposiac-miscellanist literature (as opposed to the novel) there isn’t much to this. With Baktin’s “carnival” König is on safer ground which features profitably later.

So to Plutarch (Ch. 3). König’s focuses on how Plutarch establishes “ideals of coherence and community,” noting that the “chaotic, miscellaneous” material makes it difficult to sum up the Symposiaka. The main point is the freedom of conversations to compete with one another. He draws on Books 2–3 as examples. He follows this with a useful discussion of the vocabulary used to engage with texts and authors. Ongoing civic commitment to banquets attested through inscriptions is nicely related to Plutarch’s own information on the occasions of his dinners.

Ch. 4 moves to the Deipnosophists, “a difficult text to generalise about.” Recourse is had to Bakhtin—and not persuasively because the “tension between monologic authority and unfinalisable multiplicity of perspective” takes us way beyond Athenaeus.

“Studying early Christian feasting is a difficult business”: so begins Ch. 5. Some may find surprising the suggestion of “a very specific engagement with Greco-Roman sympotic writing” in Luke; indeed Luke’s Jesus is a “sympotic sage, philosophising in Platonic manner.” The Letter of Aristeas and its banqueting scene is cited, but this is a different, Hellenizing beast. The Gospels, like any text, have conversation near food—but might one say, So what? Clement of Alexandria is taken as an example of someone who shows Christian aversion to symposiac literature while being very much aware of eating in company. Given his well-heeled audience, one might conclude that his presentation of what constitutes good taste and conversation at dinner is more typical than what we find in symposiaka. Ch. 6 bravely tackles Methodius’ Peri hagneias and indeed has some interesting discussion of Platonic and other literary reflexes in the text. Ch. 7 moves forward to the 4th c. Christians who were not tempted into exploring their differences through symposium literature. Here as elsewhere in the book we get into meals in the absence of literature. Unluckily Julian’s Symposium (Caesars) does not deliver for König’s purposes and is more or less ignored. By contrast Macrobius (rightly) merits a whole chapter (8). He is “difficult to summarise”; but König does a good job exploring the nostalgic “performance of Roman identity” in the Saturnalia and the author’s distaste for “competitive and speculative speech.”

Part II looks at transgressive texts on eating and the way they “blur boundaries between high and low culture,” beginning with a selection of items from the Tavern of the Seven Sages at Ostia to the figure of the parasite in Lucian and Alciphron, who according to König “offers us self-reflexive images of our own literary desire.” Ch. 10 takes us to dining in the Greek and Roman novels, with many observations on the deformation of food and eating in these texts, especially Apuleius. König is here a little over-dependent on somewhat humorless theoretical perspectives. Ch. 11 on the “apocryphal acts of the apostles” contains important readings of material alien to most classicists, including comparison with the Greek novels. But to say ascetic apostles advertise “the transgressive, shocking quality of the new Christian faith” pushes things too far, for these works were written when Christianity was well established or official and its shock-value had largely worn off. Ch. 12 takes the discussion forward to the hagiographical writings of the 4th and 5th centuries.

In sum König’s book is impressively scholarly with a massive and read bibliography. It is impressively wide-ranging at the cost of being in some ways a book of two parts between symposiac literature and literature that mentions food or its rejection.

CJ Online Review | Wilcox, The Gift of Correspondence in Classical Rome

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The Gift of Correspondence in Classical Rome: Friendship in Cicero’s Ad Familiares and Seneca’s Moral Epistles. By Amanda Wilcox. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2012. Pp. xi + 223. Hardcover, $34.95. ISBN 978-0-2992-8834-1.

Reviewed by Yasuko Taoka, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Dear Amanda (if I may),

Convention has long dictated how one reviews a book. But much as you have shown Seneca to be antithetical to conventions of social practice in his letters, so too will I depart from expectations.

Your brisk book efficiently demonstrates how Cicero and Seneca utilize their letters as gifts which enmesh them in a nexus of social relations: friendship, community, obligation, debt. Cicero you view as the model par excellence for the sociopolitical use of letters to build and exploit relationships. Seneca then modifies the genre to question those very relationships, proposing instead the life of philosophy.

I applaud the book’s accessibility. While you garner your inspiration and theoretical underpinnings from Bourdieu and Mauss, your analyses focus squarely on primary texts; at the close of chapters you draw connections to theories of gift-exchange. Non-classicists will find plentiful translations and introductions.

To wit, your Introduction presents such background material as the practice of letter-writing, biographies of Cicero and Seneca, and the basics of gift-theory. Your account of the correlation between the exchange of letters and the economy of gifts may, however, be somewhat brief at two pages. A more substantial unpacking of the concepts may pay off for us throughout the remainder of the book. Nonetheless I recognize that you resist overburdening readers unfamiliar with these theorists; for the curious, the relevant works are cited.

The body of the book proper divides neatly in two: the first half (Chapters 1–4) explicates Cicero’s use of letters as social technology, while the second (Chapters 5–8) focuses on Seneca’s dismantling and repurposing of the mechanisms.

In the first half (“Cicero: The Social Life of Letters”) you describe the tactics with which Cicero builds his social network. Chapters 2 and 4 focus on subtypes of epistles, letters of consolation and recommendation, respectively. In these types, either the letter itself or the recommendee is the gift that binds Cicero and his addressee. Chapters 1 and 3 discuss topoi of letters. Chapter 1 treats euphemism, which allows interlocutors to elide the threatening or obligatory nature of letters; your attention to this Bourdieuian euphemism strikes me as an important contribution. In Chapter 3 you highlight the thematization of absence for the purpose of friendship, building upon Janet Gurkin Altman’s work (Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form (Columbus, Ohio, 1982)) on intimacy in the epistolary genre. As Altman has noted, letters simultaneously recognize, bemoan, and perpetuate the distance between correspondents. And distance, so we are told, makes the heart grow fonder.

The second half (“Commercium Epistularum: The Gift Refigured”) demonstrates how Seneca appropriates for philosophy the very genre Cicero had used for sociopolitical purposes. Seneca, you argue, uses the technologies against themselves to critique the networks and friendships Cicero modeled. Euphemism doesn’t work as its effectiveness makes debtors and slaves of us interlocutors (Ch. 5). True friendship, unlike the political do ut des, is not to be found in social exchange (Ch. 6) or the generic tropes of consolationes (Ch. 8). Even the fixity of identity (“I,” “you,” “friend”) are interrogated in Seneca’s rehabilitation of interpersonal relations (Ch. 7). Security comes not from the insistent Ciceronian reiteration of one’s position and identity, but rather from disengaging from the rat race altogether. It is ironic, as you note, that Seneca espouses such in letters (115).

In all this Cicero is the expert, and Seneca the upstart. Cicero sets the standards for the proper deployment of epistolary tactics. And Cicero’s prominence in the sociopolitical life of Rome is the proof that lies in the pudding and the putting on of appropriate airs, genres, and faces. And yet I wonder whether Cicero is merely the Bourdieuian virtuoso. He is, as Jon Hall shows (Politeness and Politics in Cicero’s Letters (Oxford, 2009)), also one to mock and modify epistolary convention. Although a static Cicero better foregrounds Seneca’s dialectical relationship with him, I feel that Cicero’s own relationship to letter-writing was more fluid and complicated. Indeed, you note that you don’t treat the letters Ad Atticum because their friendship was not ideal by Ciceronian standards (15), but could these letters evince a more complex relationship with the function of letters in friendship?

To some final matters of format. Your text is laudably free from errors—I only noticed one, perhaps merely an odd translation of visne tu as “Do you not you wish” (53).

Amanda, your contribution brings a fresh perspective, informed by anthropological theory, to these epistles, and highlights not only Seneca’s inheritance, but also his rejection, of Ciceronian epistolary purpose and practice. A scholarly book is something of a gift of knowledge one bestows upon the world, one for which the repayment is not so much financial as metaphorical. So that I may begin making payments on the intellectual debt as interest compounds, I’ve found an apt line from our man Seneca, who himself purloined it from Epicurus: haec ego non multis, sed tibi; satis enim magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus.

Fare well.

HNet Review | Heather, ‘Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe’

Peter Heather. Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the
Birth of Europe. New York Oxford University Press, USA, 2012. 752
pp. $24.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-19-989226-6.

Reviewed by Christopher Gennari (Camden County College)
Published on H-Diplo (April, 2013)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach

Peter Heather’s compendium _Empires and Barbarians_ is an impressive
work in its scope, ambition, and sheer size. At 734 pages, this is a
serious academic work, yet its tone and language remain admirably
accessible and engaging for the interested, if uninitiated, general
audience. _Empires and Barbarians_’_ _subject is the events occurring
in Europe after the third-century crisis in the Roman Empire. This is
not an easy subject to cover. There are fewer primary sources than
for the imperial period and there are a lot of different and
not-well-understood characters and nations entering the narrative.
The Huns, Vandals, and Visigoths are well known by reputation but
Heather deals with the Suevi and the Taifali as well. Likewise,
Attila the Hun is notorious for his exploits but fewer people will
know the deeds of Radagaisus and Fritigern. Heather’s ability to tell
an engaging story of the famous and the forgotten is admirable.
Heather also deserves credit for wading into a subject matter already
covered by the likes of Edward Gibbon. In _Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire_’s_ _six volumes (1776-88) Gibbon discusses Rome from
Marcus Aurilius to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. Heather’s
work is less ambitious, nesting within that period, and adding modern
additions, such an archeology, genetics, and linguistics, for the
modern audience. This will make a good reference book for people
interested in the after-Rome-not-quite-the-Middle-Ages period of
European history.

Heather’s work will also fit nicely next to Gibbon’s masterwork. The
academic audience will find it a well-written and thoroughly
documented reference book. It modernizes Gibbon by having less
flourish but more science and modern theory. Medieval historians will
find it a useful addition as a general text of the period. It covers
all the parts of Europe, all the major migrations, and Heather has a
special focus on the future Russian areas of Europe. It gives the
literature a fresh perspective by concentrating on the Slavic world
though, without, denying the successes of the future West. As a
reference book it is hampered by a poor index which leaves out major
figures and events that are mentioned in the text. There’s no mention
of Saints Cyril and Methodius, who brought Orthodoxy and an alphabet
to the Slavic world; nor any mention of Princess Olga, who converted
the Kievan Rus to Orthodoxy after witnessing mass in the Hagia
Sophia. Yet all are mentioned in the text. A book this large and with
such a sweeping scope requires an overly detailed index–and
unfortunately this version does not contain one.

Heather’s update to the mountainous literature concerning the fall of
Rome is to turn the tables on the narrative. Most works, like
Gibbon’s, deal with the fall of Rome from the Roman perspective and
try to explain the melancholy tale of greatness turned to rust and
ash. It is the sad history of the losers and the defeated; one of the
few places in historiography where the defeated perspective dominates
the narrative. It makes sense since the Romans were the literate
peoples and the barbarians were illiterate, unable to tell the tale
of their success to future generations. The survival of the Christian
church as a literate institution also assured that barbarian success
was portrayed in apocalyptic terms by the likes of St. Ambrose and

Heather, on the other hand, takes the perspective of the winners–the
illiterate, reputedly uncivilized, pagans who overwhelmed the Roman
defenses, squatted on the Roman land, and absorbed Mediterranean
culture while imparting their own Germanic, Slavic, and Scandinavian
customs to Europe–creating, Heather argues, the Middle Ages and
modern Europe along the way.

Heather divides the book roughly into three parts. In the first part
(approximately the first three chapters) he sets up the situation
concerning the late Roman world by describing the various tribes,
their situations, and their motivations before the migrations into
the Roman Empire. He also describes the larger economic and political
unit he calls “barbarian” Europe–stating that the word is meant to
describe the Europe separate from Mediterranean Europe (the
Greco-Roman world) and is not a statement of moral value and
inferiority (p. xiv). He also uses “barbarian” Europe as a way of
describing a world encompassing more than just the Germanic-speaking
peoples of Europe who had connections to the Roman world (including
the Goths and, most importantly for Heather, the Slavs). Heather’s
argument is that this was a well-connected and civilized world simply
outside of, but not apart from, Mediterranean culture. He also shows
that far from being unsophisticated the tribes were able to raise
professional retinues, collect taxes, and create laws. Heather uses
the modern concept of globalization to describe the
interconnectedness of the barbarian and Mediterranean worlds.

The second part discusses the migration of peoples into new
zones–the Germans and Goths enter into western Europe, the Huns
carve out a piece of central Europe for a time, and eastern Europe is
taken over by the Slavic peoples who began to displace several older
peoples from the lands between the Dneiper and the Oder Rivers.
Heather charts how the act of migration created these larger units
that protected their inhabitants from and enabled them to negotiate
with Rome. Heather shows a period of Europe in flux; the passing of
one age but not yet the formation of the next. He describes a Europe
in the act of becoming, a story that is often overlooked, as Heather
points out, in favor of the national origin myths which emphasize,
mistakenly, ancient continuity and unity.

Heather also discusses the coalescence and expansion of Frankish and
Anglo-Saxon civilizations–a brief respite before the smashing hammer
of the Viking invasions and migrations. He seems to have an affinity
for the rise of Slavic Europe, which is a topic not normally detailed
in the usual West-centric historiography. His affinity for Slavic
Europe, and his detail work on its rise and importance, is impressive
but makes the lack of a Byzantine narrative puzzling. Saints Cyril
and Methodius are passed over with barely a mention, Princess Olga’s
conversion is treated as a minor event, and I did not read any
mention of the Battle of Kliedon or the conversion of the Bulgars. It
is surprising that the Slavic achievements are treated as separate
from the larger Christian-Roman-Greek world. In fairness, Heather
does deal with the decline of East Rome after Justinian to explain
why a Roman imperial recovery (political, cultural, and economic)
turned out to be quixotic, yet never relates the Byzantine cultural
importance during the Macedonian dynastic period (867-1056 CE). The
Byzantine impact on the Slavic world is a surprising omission for
such a detailed work.

The final section is the settling of European culture after the
migrations. In this section Heather deals with the cultural and
political connections of the new hybrid societies, which are both
barbarian and Mediterranean. For Heather these connections are
exemplified in the Viking trade networks which Heather describes as
the “first European Union” for their depth, breadth, and importance
(p. 515). Labor and goods flowed from northern Europe and
manufactured and luxury goods came in from the Byzantine and Arab
world. In this section, Heather discusses the beginnings of state
formation, national kings, imperial pretensions, and the spread of a
core European culture to periphery areas. This is the “Birth of
Europe” section of the subtitle. This is the chapter where the reader
begins to see references to the Carolingians, the Ottonians, Hungary,
Poland, Cnut, and other states and persons with long, well-known
futures ahead of them. This section had the feeling of an astronomy
metaphor, the creation of planets from the coalescing of dust and
rock and debris; out of the movement of many separate parts comes the
union of something larger and more enduring. In fact, Heather’s last
chapter is an allusion to Isaac Newton’s third law of motion. Heather
argues that imperial action has an opposite reaction among periphery
states–thus creating the forces of future imperial demise and giving
warning to all present and future empires who believe they are
designed to last forever.

Heather tells a complicated story well and in a way that a general
audience will be able to understand and enjoy. He makes allusions to
famous historical events in other centuries in order to help present
his position to the audience–which people will find helpful. There
is a large section of detailed maps in the back and chapters are
broken down into subchapters so that the reader will not worry about
advancing through the 700-page tome. Heather makes an important
addition to the literature of the late Roman world/early Middle Ages.
This work emphasizes depth and accessibility instead of cutting-edge
theoretical arguments. I have come across some of the positions
before in other venues and works (for instance, that the Romans
created their own enemies by forcing the Germanic tribes to organize)
but not in so complete and detailed a manner. This work will be a
welcome addition to any early medieval collection.

Citation: Christopher Gennari. Review of Heather, Peter, _Empires and
Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe_. H-Diplo, H-Net
Reviews. April, 2013.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

CJ Online Review | Kaster, Macrobii Saturnalia

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Macrobii Ambrosii Theodosii Saturnalia. Recognovit brevique adnotatione critica instruxit Robert A. Kaster. Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Oxoniensis. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. lvi + 540. Hardcover, £50.00/$99.00. ISBN 978-0-19-957119-2.

Reviewed by Andrea Balbo, Università di Torino

This new critical edition of Saturnalia is the last milestone of a long research itinerary that Robert Kaster has devoted to Macrobius. The OCT text has been prepared for by his Studies on the Text of Macrobius’ Saturnalia (Oxford, 2010; hereafter STMS), an important book containing a new survey of the manuscripts with some improvements of the results obtained by Marinone (second UTET edition of 1977) and Willis (third Teubner edition of 1994); moreover, Kaster has also published an edition with English translation of the Macrobian major work in 2011 for the Loeb Classical Library. This OCT book aims to become a reference work and surely shows the great competence and cleverness of the editor. The Preface (v–xlvi), written in English instead of Latin according to the new (but lamentable) tradition of Oxford Classical Texts, gives a short summary of Kaster’s studies concerning Macrobian manuscripts, building a stemma codicum for each family (α and β) and integrating them into a general stemma at page xxvi [[1]]. In the preface I would call attention to the importance of the rich repository of Greek errors in manuscripts (xxxi–xlv), a very useful dossier for the comprehension of scribal culture and of diffusion of Greek knowledge in Western Europe.

After the preface and the list of quoted editions, we find a Bibliography; although useful, Kaster should nonetheless have maintained some references already included in Marinone’s rich bibliography [[2]].

Let us pass to the text. Kaster shows a decisive improvement in comparison with Willis: his edition is based on a better evaluation of manuscripts and on a more careful consideration both of the former editions and of the loci similes; in particular, this apparatus—very valuable if we consider the typology of Macrobian work—achieves the goal of combining rich information with simplicity, and gives information that could greatly help future Macrobian commentators: see, for instance, 3.9.4 on Servius’ reference on the name Luam, where Kaster notes that he accepts the conjecture Luae of Preller instead of Lunae given by the manuscripts; or at 3.14.12, where Kaster underlines a misunderstanding in Macrobius, who confuses Quintus Roscius with Roscius Otho; or at 3.16.13, where the Macrobian duos pontes are explained as “Aemilium et Fabricium, LTUR iii. 106-7, iuxta os Cloacae Maximae.”

To understand Kaster’s ideas of editing Macrobius, it is necessary to read the OCT edition side by side with his STMS, where he explains in a convincing way the results of his research. From a methodological point of view he chooses correctly to preserve Macrobian quotations of former authors, even if corrupted, avoiding the mistake of standardizing the text. In the critical apparatus Kaster offers about 290 differences from Willis and many agreements with Marinone (exactly as listed in STMS 29 n. 1), but continues to re-evaluate the text of Saturnalia: Mario De Nonno has carefully discussed many loci in a review that appeared in BMCR 2012.11.05 and, in general, I agree with him on their correctness and validity; here I briefly discuss only some other examples. At 1.11.7 Kaster accepts Madvig’s quos ius tuos vocat instead of quos ius tuum vocas, but I think that it is difficult to connect the verb vocare with ius because vocare is more suitable to a person, and so I prefer Marinone 1977’s quos iure tuos vocas (in Nota critica); at 2.2.17 Kaster and Marinone show an appreciable difference in dealing with iambic verses, attested both by Gellian and Macrobian manuscripts: Kaster prefers Gellian readings against Marinone, but, at least in one situation, I think that vi transilire nititur of Havet (Manuel de critique verbale appliquée aux texts latins (Paris, 1911) 140), accepted by Marinone, is syntactically better than ut transiliret nititur. At 2.4.12, Marinone’s solution with ellipsis, carbunculum … habeas, is better than carbunculum †habeas† printed by Kaster and surely preferable to Hadriae given by Willis, a trace of the attempts to find a geographical location of every name in the sequence of this Augustan epistolary fragment; at 5.15.12, I think with Marinone that it is not necessary to integrate as Jan did, because the text is coherent without any quotation; at the same time, the form rursus of the manuscripts is weaker than the correction Nisus of editors.

Nonetheless, in spite of my different evaluations of many points of the text, Kaster’s edition makes a great contribution to the exegesis of the Macrobian text. The only real drawback of this work—already highlighted by De Nonno—consists in the copious misprints, that require the book to be used with care. If the publisher were to bring out a corrected edition, it would allow the effective use of this rich and important tool of research that Kaster’s deep competence has put at the disposal of the scholarly community [[3]].


[[1]] In the stemma there are some minor mistakes: in the section concerning family β1 the subarchetype ς printed at page xviii disappears; a π that should be placed over V has been inserted in the wrong position; in family β2 there is no more trace of a subarchetype δ; clearly, the choice to do a one page layout of the stemma was not the best, in view of its complex architecture.

[[2]]The bibliography lacks both some textual (e.g., G. Lögdberg, In Macrobii Saturnalia adnotationes (diss. Uppsala, 1936)) and exegetical (e.g. all Marinone’s articles and books excepting the UTET edition) contributions.

[[3]] To the list of mistakes I would add Mallium instead of L. Mallium in 2.2.10; Cassium instead of C. Cassium in 2.3.13.

CJ Online Review | Belozerskaya, Medusa’s Gaze

Posted with permission:

Medusa’s Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese. Emblems of Antiquity. By Marina Belozerskaya. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xvii + 292. $24.95/£14.99. ISBN 978-0-19-973931-8.

Reviewed by Duane W. Roller, The Ohio State University

The Tazza Farnese is a sardonyx cameo made from a geode, 21.7 cm. in diameter, carved into the form of a shallow bowl. On the inside are representations of Isis, her son Horus, and a personification of the Nile: the entire scene is open to various interpretations but seems to relate to the abundance of the river. On the outside is the head of Medusa. Of exceptionally high artistic quality, it belongs in the flourishing Hellenistic/Roman tradition of carved stones, and is the largest of its genre to survive. It seems to have originated in the Ptolemaic court, and since the eighteenth century (with some exceptions due to warfare) has resided in the Naples archaeological museum. It acquired its modern name when in the possession of the Farnese family.

This intriguing book is, interestingly, not really about the Tazza Farnese. Rather it is a fascinating account of how one piece of ancient art survived the vicissitudes of over 2000 years to be visible in a museum today. Information about the Tazza itself, at least before the Renaissance, is exceedingly sparse and speculative. Although it can confidently be said that it was carved in late Hellenistic times, the piece is not documented until a drawing was made at the beginning of the fifteenth century by a calligrapher at the court of the Mongol leader Timur (or Tamurlane), perhaps in Samarkand (99). Samarkand is a long way from Alexandria, and how the Tazza got there is the focus of the first half of the book.

Belozerskaya’s account of this extraordinary journey is almost totally speculative, but somehow that does not matter, as she has presented a rich and thoroughly absorbing account of plausibilities, with solid attention to the environment of the art collecting world. Since there is no documentation of the piece before the fifteenth century, when and how it left the Ptolemaic court is its first mystery. Belozerskaya may certainly be excused for fixating on the most famous Ptolemy, Kleopatra VII, but the only hint that the Tazza may have belonged to her is its subject matter, as Isis was the queen’s alter ego. It may have been among the spoils that Octavian brought to Rome after her death, but there are other possibilites that Belozerskaya outlines (and some that she does not): it may have already been in Rome (Kleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XII, had many debts to prominent Romans), or even remained in Alexandria when the Romans took over, eventually to move to Constantinople. The possible locations of the bowl after the end of the Ptolemies are so tangled that it is difficult for Belozerskaya to choose, but this does not diminish the quality of her narrative. Whether or not the cameo belonged to Kleopatra VII, Belozerskaya later places it in Constantinople, eventually in the hands of the noted collector Constantine VII in the tenth century. Then she identifies it as the “large dish of onyx” owned by the emperor Frederick II in the thirteenth century. One can see that the spottings of the Tazza are infrequent, but Belozerskaya has filled out her narrative by absorbing vignettes of the world in which the object necessarily moved. There is a tendency to turn speculation into fact (see p. 80)—although to be sure healthy and astute speculation is a necessary part of good scholarship—but what is most interesting is the picture that Belozerskaya has presented of the world of art collectors in late antiquity and medieval times, supplemented with a good account of the Christianizing of ancient art, a strange world view that nonetheless insured its survival. One can sometimes lose sight of the Tazza itself, for its environment is so well described, with solid character studies of the personalities who probably saw or acquired it.

But it is in the early fifteenth century that the object emerged from obscurity, only to create another mystery: how did it end up at the Timurid court? This is perhaps the most remarkable event in its history, since it was now incredibly far from the locale of its origins (although Timur went as far west as Damascus and Aleppo). Belozerskaya describes well the world of the Timurid court and its interest in art, and offers—again—several different ways in which the piece could have made this latest extraordinary journey. But then it was back in Europe, perhaps the “dish of carved chalcedony” owned by Lorenzo di Medici in 1471 (p. 143). From this time—although sightings remain rare—the history of the Tazza is more linear, moving into the Farnese family and eventually to the Naples museum.

This is an exciting book. It is well written, literally hard to put down, with good illustrations and solid notes and bibliography. In many places it is a work of speculation rather than fact, but such is the nature of the Tazza itself, and anyone who reads the book and then sees the object, or has seen it, will never look at it in the same way again.

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

I think I missed a week:

  • 2013.04.55:  Edward McCrorie, Homer. The Iliad. Johns Hopkins new translations from antiquity.
  • 2013.04.56:  Nadia Scippacercola, Il lato oscuro del Romanzo Greco. Supplementi di Lexis, 62.
  • 2013.04.57:  Therese Fuhrer, Almut-Barbara Renger, Performanz von Wissen: Strategien der Wissensvermittlung in der Vormoderne. Bibliothek der klassischen Altertumswissenschaften, nF, 134.bmcr2
  • 2013.04.58:  Stefano Maso, Carlo Natali, Gerhard Seel, Reading Aristotle’s Physics VII.3: “what is alteration?” Proceedings of the European Society for Ancient Philosophy conference organized by the HYELE Institute for Comparative Studies, Vitznau, Switzerland, 12/15 April 2007.
  • 2013.04.59:  Liz James, Constantine of Rhodes, On Constantinople and the Church of the Holy Apostles. With a new edition of the Greek text by Ioannes Vassis.
    2013.04.60:  Evina Sistakou, The Aesthetics of Darkness: A Study of Hellenistic Romanticism in Apollonius, Lycophron and Nicander. Hellenistica Groningana 17.
  • 2013.04.61:  Umberto Roberto, Le ‘Chronographiae’ di Sesto Giulio Africano: storiografia, politica e cristianesimo nell’età dei Severi. Collana dell’Ambito di Storia dell’Università Europea di Roma
  • 2013.04.62:  Costis Davaras, Philip P. Betancourt, Hagia Photia Cemetery II: The Pottery. Prehistory monographs, 34.
  • 2013.05.02:  Martti Leiwo, Hilla Halla-aho, Marja Vierros, Variation and Change in Greek and Latin. Papers and monographs of the Finnish Institute at Athens, 17.
  • 2013.05.03:  Andrew Crislip, Thorns in the Flesh: Illness and Sanctity in Late Ancient Christianity. Divinations: rereading late ancient religion.
  • 2013.05.04:  M. G. L. Cooley, Tiberius to Nero. Lactor, 19.
  • 2013.05.05:  Joseph E. Skinner, The Invention of Greek Ethnography: From Homer to Herodotus. Greeks overseas.
  • 2013.05.06:  Sarah J. Butler, Britain and Its Empire in the Shadow of Rome: The Reception of Rome in Socio-Political Debate from the 1850s to the 1920s.
  • 2013.05.07:  Florence Yoon, The Use of Anonymous Characters in Greek Tragedy: The Shaping of Heroes. Mnemosyne Supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin Language and Literature, 344.
  • 2013.05.08:  Thomas M. Brogan, Erik Hallager, LM IB Pottery: Relative Chronology and Regional Differences. Acts of a workshop held at the Danish Institute at Athens in collaboration with the INSTAP Study Center for East Crete, 27-29 June 2007. (2 vols.). Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens, 11.1-2.
  • 2013.05.09:  Andrea Cucchiarelli, Alfonso Traina, Publio Virgilio Marone. Le Bucoliche. Lingue e letterature Carocci, 141.
  • 2013.05.10:  Vladimir F. Stolba, Eugeny Rogov, Panskoye I, Volume 2: The Necropolis. Archaeological investigations in Western Crimea
  • 2013.05.11:  William E. Metcalf, The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage
  • 2013.05.12:  Giovanna Tedeschi Grisanti, Heikki Solin, “Dis Manibus, pili, epitaffi et altre cose antiche” di Giovannantonio Dosio: il codice N.A. 618 della Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze.
  • 2013.05.13:  Christine Walde, Lucans Bellum Civile. Studien zum Spektrum seiner Rezeption von der Antike bis ins 19. Jahrhundert. Bochumer Altertumswissenschaftliches Colloquium, 78.
  • 2013.05.14:  Lesley A. Beaumont, Childhood in Ancient Athens: Iconography and Social History. Routledge monographs in classical studies.
  • 2013.05.15:  Ralph J. Hexter, David Townsend, The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature. Oxford Handbooks.

CJ Online Review | Knapp, Invisible Romans

posted with permission

Invisible Romans. By Robert Knapp. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2011. Pp. 400. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-674-06199-6.

Reviewed by Sandra R. Joshel, University of Washington

Robert Knapp’s Invisible Romans presents an engaging and informed picture of the lives of “the great mass of people who lived in Rome and its empire” in the first three centuries ce (1): for Knapp, these men and women who seem “invisible” in the elite sources. He uses the term “ordinary people” to distinguish them from the elite and to leave “their definition open to the wide range of their existence, from fairly wealthy to modestly well-off and downright poor, male and female, slave and free, law-biding and outlaw” (3). This wide range of lives extends not only chronologically over some three hundred years but also geographically to include evidence and people from the entire empire. The latter offers up a rich mixture of human lives, though at points a conflation of times and places obscures some of the developments that altered those lives. This is a highly readable book aimed primarily at an interested, general audience, but individual sections also will engage the interests of classicists in various specialties (though they may debate some of Knapp’s observations in their own fields of expertise).

Knapp organizes the material effectively, moving from chapters on free men and women, with a separate chapter for the poor, to slaves and ex-slaves, and then to soldiers and their families. He ends with three chapters on those who might be considered socially and legal on the margins—prostitutes, gladiators, and bandits (and pirates). Though the concerns of every chapter are roughly similar topically, they are approached in distinct ways appropriate to the particular conditions of the group under consideration and following the emphases in recent scholarship. In defining its subjects, each chapter deals with the complications of overlapping categories, locating them in the large social order. Knapp sketches the economic and material conditions of each group, attuned especially to the variety of limiting conditions that characterized the lives of “ordinary” people and shaped their values and perceptions. The latter, what Knapp calls the “mind world,” is the book’s special focus: “the aim will be to get, so far as we can, inside the minds of these different people: what attitudes and outlooks they had, what fears haunted and what hopes inspired them” (3).

Knapp is acutely aware of how the limits and nature of the ancient sources make this project difficult. To this end, he reads the elite sources critically, but above all he draws on other literature—fables, proverbs, novels. He makes good use of documents authored by “ordinary people”—inscriptions (especially epitaphs) and papyri (letters and contracts). And he deploys works whose audiences were ordinary Romans: magical texts, the Carmen Astrologicum, and Artemidorus’s Intrepretations of Dreams, for example, trace the worries and hopes of men and women, free and slave. Interweaving bits and pieces from this variety of sources produces passages of thick description that enliven the lives of the businessman anxious about financial success, the poor man ever on the edge, the slaves “forging spaces of action” (147), or the bandit dividing the gang’s loot into equal piles (21–2, 104, 147, 306). In many places, Knapp lines up passages from a series of documents that address a similar concern but with a difference: for example, several epitaphs in which ex-slaves commemorate their origins or multiple dedications in which slaves act as a group (139–40 and 143; cf. 22–3, 92–3, 107–9, 113). In doing so, Knapp conveys the general point without sacrificing all the particularity of varied, individual lives. The effect perhaps is especially important for non-specialists used to “big men” histories of ancient Rome, but whose interest in “ordinary” people has been piqued by the picture of lower-class life in HBO’s Rome. Knapp takes one more step. Not only does he provide a guide to the sources and their use at the end of the book (“Sources”), he also constantly engages his readers in the problems of the sources and his own use of them throughout the substantive chapters of the book.

A book on such a large topic, and one accessible to non-specialists, has its limitations. Though the book has thirty color plates and thirty-two black and white images, Knapp barely refers to them and omits material evidence from his discussion almost entirely, as he himself observes, leaving it to “another more versed in the material.” In addition, the book mentions a few scholars at points in the text, though not with any consistency, and it lacks footnotes. In “Further Reading” at the end of the book, Knapp gives a fairly extensive list of relevant scholarship for each chapter (with few exceptions, scholarly work in English, as is appropriate for the English-speaking general readers who are the book’s intended audience). The absence of scholarly apparatus creates a smooth and more readable narrative for a general audience; however, the drawback is the reader’s inability to see the scholarly work relevant to particular points in the discussion.

In short, Robert Knapp’s Invisible Romans is a well-written and well-researched account of the lives of ordinary Romans living in the Roman empire, intended especially for the non-specialist.

CJ Online Review | Acosta-Hughes and Stephens, Callimachus in Context

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Callimachus in Context: From Plato to the Augustan Poets. By Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xiv + 328. Hardcover, £60.00/$99.00. ISBN 978-1-107-00857-1.

Reviewed by Marco Fantuzzi, Columbia University

Callimachus’ poetry has become the perfect touchstone for classicists against which to determine other authors’ self-positioning in the cultural arena. In turn, the defenses he mounts against anonymous “rivals” are now more and more often investigated as a means of fictionally projecting a positive image of his own intellectual peculiarity (P. Bourdieu’s original ideas; see J. Klooster, Poetry as Window and Mirror (2011)). However, the “context” to which Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan Stephens refer in their title has an ampler range of meanings than Bourdieu’s “cultural arena”; it includes not only the contemporary concerns and individuals Callimachus engages in his poetry, but also the way in which Latin poets of the 1st c. bc adapted Callimachus’ positions.

The first three chapters of the book are a full review of Callimachus’ allusive reactions to other writers and the issues they address. First, there is an individual rival, Plato, whose relevance for Callimachus had so far been substantially unexplored. Then, there is the discussion of Callimachus’ interaction with his ‘ally’ Hipponax in Iamb 1, and the stance he takes on the matters that were ‘hot’ in his day (or at least Callimachus presents them as such). Callimachus’ self-positioning here helps define his poetics in much greater detail. Only a few years ago, Callimachus’ “rivals” were the “Telchines,” supposedly jealous opponents reprimanded by Apollo at the close of the Hymn to Apollo, and the writers of monumental epic (or, as Alan Cameron or Ewen Bowie posit, of narrative/catalogic elegy). The varied challenges and differentiations Acosta-Hughes and Stephens now delineate come to form a much broader context than used to be the case.

From Ch. 1 we learn (irrefutably, I think) that Plato was among the intellectual predecessors whom Callimachus challenged most frequently. Callimachus’ own position in the quarrel between poetry and philosophy is, understandably, quite different from Plato’s. An obvious starting point is Callimachus HE 53, which features Cleombrotus, who commits suicide after reading Plato’s Phaedo on the topic of the soul’s immortality (is he the character of the same name featured in the Phaedo?). The connection is so obvious, in fact, that the authors omit to observe that this epigram not only reveals Callimachus’ attention to Plato, but also mockingly blames him—a philosopher who had so often decried the danger that readers/spectators might imitate the evil characters they encounter in poetry—for not understanding how dangerous his own philosophical works could be. The authors’ next step leads to an original and convincing re-reading of the Aitia prologue. Here, Acosta-Hughes and Stephens see Callimachus defend an idea of musicality that may be reacting to Plato’s appropriation of μουσική for philosophy. It is rooted in fact in an aesthetical appreciation of “lightness” that is diametrically opposed to both Plato’s opinions about poetry’s educational value and the taste for sublimity displayed by Dionysus in Aristophanes’ Frogs. A similar dialogue with Plato surfaces in Pollis’ banquet in Aitia 2, which constitutes a re-writing of the Symposium and of sympotic etiquette, as well as a criticism of Plato’s ideas about the ideal state and the ideal ruler. Having unveiled the rivalrous role Plato plays in Callimachus’ oeuvre, the authors suggest that Hipponax, the “ally” of Iamb 1, may have served Callimachus as a model of non-philosophical wisdom to oppose to Plato’s “professional” philosophy. Besides, Hipponax agrees to “time-travel” to Alexandria to intervene in the fights among the scholars of the Museum and modify his original topics to fit Callimachus’ ideas and his contemporaries’ issues. This formerly archaic, now fully “Alexandrianized” poet thus serves as a brilliant illustration that one need not be from the same century as one’s great literary predecessors in order to imitate them successfully (Iamb 13).

Chap. 2 investigates Callimachus’ positioning towards different forms of literary performance and the relevant authors: dramatic genres; lyric meters and sympotic poetry; spoken meters. About dramatic genres, Acosta-Hughes and Stephens insist that Callimachus’ epigrams on tragedy, tragic masks, and dramatic competitions—HE 26, 57, 58, 59—do not prove that he despised theatrical genres; he may simply be criticizing their excessive weight in education, or conveying his disdain for popular occasions of performance, or his preference for Euripides and the New Music; but I do believe one should not simply dismiss the more generally scornful tone that is prevalent in these epigrams, which may have something to say about Callimachus’ negative views of the theater-genres (it seems a point of agreement with Plato, though with totally different motivations that confirm the most substantial difference: Callimachus would simply hate the mob audiences of the theaters and their unruly reactions that conditioned the correct aesthetic appreciation of the poets, whereas Plato appears to care about the way these large audiences could be ethically affected by poets). Extremely interesting is the suggestion that the etymology of ῥαψῳδός, discussed in the fifth aition of Aetia 1 as derived from ῥάβδος, is meant to suggest that Callimachus’ role in the composition of the Aitia resembles that of the ῥαψῳδοί stitching together epic tales; Callimachus would then be pursuing his own “continuous” διηνεκὲς ἄεισμα, albeit one quite distinct from the suggestions of the Telchines.

Ch. 3 focuses on the way Callimachus draws lines of continuity between continental Greece on the one hand, and Alexandria or the Ptolemaic kingdom on the other. He thereby “ennobles” recent geo-political developments and (re-)constructs his own poetic landscapes in tune with the encomiastic “Ptolemaic” geography that has in recent years been made more familiar by texts like the New Posidippus. For example, Callimachus moves the newborn Zeus to Crete (after his birth in Arcadia) in HZeus and emphasizes that Ptolemy was born at Cos in HDelos. Callimachus thereby opts for spaces that are located halfway between the Macedonian “homeland” and Egypt. Similarly, he describes Thera as the motherland of Cyrene in HApollo, with Thera being between Sparta and Libya. And two of Callimachus’ lost works, Arrival of Io and Foundation of Argos, probably connected the Macedonian kings to Argos, via the city’s Egyptian founder, Danaus. Above all, the Aitia are brimming with stories that place Alexandria-related mythological characters or landmarks on the map of Greek mythology and lore (the relevant pages are supported by a final “Appendix” on the stories’ arrangements within the Aitia, which is useful not only to newcomers to Hellenistic literature). Finally, the Hecale includes a radical Callimachean appropriation of a most prominent character of Athenian myth and drama (Theseus), inasmuch as the focus of the narrative is the humble life of the old lady Hecale, rather than the deeds of Theseus.

Ch. 4 is an excellent addition to Richard Hunter’s The Shadow of Callimachus (2006), as it offers a thorough study (not exhaustive, of course) of the way Latin poets of the 1st c. bc—mainly the Neoterics, Catullus, Virgil, Propertius, and Ovid—re-contextualize the Callimachean model to have it fit their own cultural agendas. For example, they erase the Egyptian connections that Callimachus had encomiastically pursued, and they often replace them with more familiar Greek images. They also adjust their new texts to specifically Roman occasions. Acosta-Hughes and Stephens’ emphasis on the female voice of Sappho as added or magnified in Catullus’ translation of Callimachus’ “Lock of Berenice” is especially thought-provoking.

This book discusses anew or re-discusses an awesome number of understudied texts of Callimachus, and the discussions are thoughtful, well-informed, well-written, and substantially accurate—the zeugma identifying the four-syllable past and passive verbal forms expolitum and ποτέπλασθε (aorist) as both “participles” (224) is the biggest lapsus I could find. I am sure that it will have a long shelf-life, and I hope it will inspire similarly holistic research on Theocritus. Of course, Richard Hunter’ pioneering Theocritus and the Archaeology of Greek Poetry (1996) has covered already much of the field, but one would in particular hope to see a study of Theocritus’ engagement with Plato. Theocr. 14, after all, is just another miniature Symposium mainly about love, thought it chooses not to eulogize an idealized educative love in the Platonic mode. Instead, it investigates how to cope with unfulfilled love in everyday life; as such, it is in tune with the presentation of love as despair that is ubiquitous in the Theocritean corpus, and the effects of “realism” regularly pursued in the bucolic poems.