CJ Online Review: Brodd and Reed, Rome and Religion

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Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult. Edited by Jeffrey Brodd and Jonathan L. Reed. Society of Biblical Literature Writings from the Greco-Roman World Supplement Series, Vol. 5. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011. Pp . xiv + 261. Paper, $37.95. ISBN 978-1-58983-612-9.

Reviewed by Roberta Stewart, Dartmouth College

The collection Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult promises a dialogue, a “wide-ranging treatment of issues and interrelated themes” that brings together “classicists, biblical and religious scholars, historians, and archaeologists.” Part One addresses the definition of “religion” as an analytical category. Part Two studies the variously successful penetration of imperial ideology in the Eastern Mediterranean. Part Three the intersection of Roman imperial religious practice and thinking with Jewish and Christian communities. Part Four offers final comments on the importance of cross-disciplinary research.

Collectively the papers illustrate the use of literary, numismatic, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence to consider questions of religious policy, practice, and belief. A religious institution emerges as sets of historical actions, situated in place and time, and the product of historically situated actors,

In the opening essay, Galinsky emphasizes the need to study imperial cult not as a single monolith but as a “paradigm”; to conceptualize imperial cult as a negotiated product of “religious pluralism”-rather than a polarity of religious accommodation or resistance-embedded within distinct communities possessing their own political, religious and social histories in a diverse Roman Empire; and to evaluate “the Jesus movement” similarly within the “religious pluralism” of the Empire. Galinsky highlights the value of language (e.g. theos ek theou and soter) to locate “imperial cults more precisely within the associative spectrum” (10) and to understand the Christian appropriation of Roman ideas.

In Part One, James Hanges (“To Complicate Encounters”) reframes Galinsky’s claims in terms of post-colonial discourse: the processes of identity formation of subordinated groups; the concept of identity as multivalent and the product of an ongoing, negotiated interrelationship, with a salutary awareness of negotiation implying the views and actions of the subordinated; and the appropriation by the subordinated of the symbols of domination. He claims that local quarrels influenced the evolving character of ancient cult (31 n. 15, where one misses a discussion of comparative material for understanding the local negotiation) and concludes provocatively with the transformative function of myth and ritual to conjure up the ideal reality within the imperfect, mundane existence (33, which lacks citation of ancient evidence and Vernant’s analysis of Hesiod’s Myth of Prometheus).

Jeffrey Brodd (“Religion, Roman Religion, Emperor Worship”) considers the definition of “religion” with three interlocking premises: the need for “conceptual clarity,” for distinguishing modern and ancient definitions of religion, and for confronting theoretical definition with data. He surveys anthropologists and their critics grappling with definitions of religion and concomitant terms, both to illustrate the debate and to identify what is at stake in defining the categories.

Given the claims, I missed-perhaps revealing my Classical, disciplinary perspective-the philological bibliography on the Roman terms, especially A. K. Michel’s study of the term “religio” and its historical evolution (“The Versatility of Religio” in The Mediterranean World: Papers Presented in Honour of Gilbert Bagnani (1976) 36-77) and more recent treatments (R. Muth ANRW 2.16.1 (1978) 290-354; J. Rüpke Les Études classiques 75 (2007): 67-78).

Eric Orlin (“Augustan Religion: From Locative to Utopian”) uses Galinsky’s claim about religious pluralism to explore the religious context of the development of imperial cult and Christianity. He divides ancient religious practice into categories of “locative religion” or “religion of place” by contrast with “utopian” religious experience and traces a change in “religion of place” during the Augustan principate. Augustan religious reforms broke the traditional identification of place and cult: Augustus relocated the Republican rituals of Roman militarism from the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus to the new temple of Mars Ultor and removed the Sibylline books from there to the new temple of Apollo on the Palatine, so that “the chief deity of the Roman Republic was dislodged from his position theologically, ritually, and physically.” The expanding political definition of the Empire transmuted the definition of locative religion, as Roman cults were adopted beyond Rome and peninsular Italy throughout Roman Mediterranean. Imperial cult emerges as another example of the extended locative religion.

In Part Two, Barbette Spaeth (“Imperial Cult in Roman Corinth”) illustrates the utility of Galinsky’s ideas of “religious pluralism” and the interpenetration of religious and political/social life, in order to think about imperial cult in Corinth. Coins pairing obverse portraits of Nero with reverse images of deity (the Genius of the colony, Fortuna) and inscriptions giving gods the adjective “Augustus/a” illustrate the “‘intertwining’ of the cult of the emperor with those of other gods in the city” (67). The particular configuration of imperial cult at Corinth emerges as stamped by the religious and political history of the Roman colony.

In “Embedding Rome in Athens,” Nancy Evans delineates an Athenian local history to appraise cult from the perspective of the Athenian, the Roman, and the non-Athenian tourist at Athens. Evans locates imperial cult at Athens on a religious continuum that included rare cult to the Hellenistic successors of Alexander and to the late Republican generals, and deliberate revocation of cult for those subsequently deemed unworthy, by contrast with the explosion of imperial cult locations (94 altars identified), whereby Athens demonstrated allegiance to “external authority” and garnered imperial benefaction.

For the Romans Augustus exploited the Athenian historical antagonism of Greeks v. Persians to formulate his own imperial policy v. Parthia, and Paul’s journey establishes a thinking man’s reactions to imperial cult at Athens in the first century. For this paper and the entire Part Two, Kantiréa’s book (Les dieux et les dieux Augustes. Le culte impérial en Grèce sous les Julio-claudiens et les Flaviens, 2007) and richly documented, comparative study of imperial cult at Pergamum, Athens, and Ephesus (“Étude comparative de l’introduction du culte imperial à Pergame, à Athènes et à Éphèse,” in More Than Men, Less than Gods. Studies on Royal Cult and Imperial Worship, 2011: 521-51) are useful and should be consulted.

Daniel Schowalter (“Honoring Trajan in Pergamum: Imperial Temples in the ‘Second City'”) illustrates Galinsky’s ideas of “religious pluralism” and a non-monolithic imperial cult with a discussion of the diverse honors given to Trajan at Pergamum. Pliny’s letters from Bithynia illustrate “how honors offered to the emperor (along with honors to the traditional gods) were a natural part” (100) of provincial existence. The enormous Trajaneum gave topographic and architectural emphasis to the emperor; the city’s second neokorate shows how a city and its wealthy elite affirmed their prominence through ostentatious civic deference to imperial power. Comparing the honors given to Augustus and Trajan reveals continuity and allowable change (Greek versus Roman temple architecture) in the imperial cult.

James McLaren (“Searching for Rome and Imperial Cult in Galilee”) follows Galinsky’s exhortation not to create a monolith of imperial cult or of local responses and provides a richly contextualized explanation of Galilean participation in the Jewish war of 66-70 ce. McLaren defines a maximalist approach to imperial cult that recognizes its ubiquity and assesses it as part of the broader Roman presence (administrative, military, and economic) in the region. Galilean participation in the Jewish war emerges within a context of minimal Roman intrusion in Galilean life, and so not as a direct result of Roman policy or action. Moreover, the diversity of perspective among different peoples in Galilee regarding relationship with Rome shows Galilean participation in the war, not as a product of zealotry but instead a recognized identity of interest among Jews and Galileans regarding the temple in Jerusalem, an action not a reaction (128).

Warren Carter (“Roman Imperial Power: A Perspective from the New Testament”) argues that Jesus’ followers “did not negotiate the empire and its cult in a monolithic manner” (142). He examines the characterization of “Jezebel” in Revelation: she engages in idolatry, eats sacrificial food, and, like Satan and Rome, deceives. The character and the critique represent the difficult negotiation of Christians in a Roman world, where “cultic activity was intertwined in socioeconomic activity” (144), required strategic decision-making, and produced a different theological point of view that “societal and cultic participation did not compromise faithfulness” (145).

The analysis and its development owes much to James Scott’s analysis of power relationships. Carter compares 1 Peter which similarly recommends accommodation to defuse criticism and conflict and shows that Jesus believers were deeply embedded culturally in a Roman world, although the logic of accommodation implied a simultaneous devaluation of imperial cult practice. Finally Carter considers scenes of worship described in John 4-5 to show the appropriation of Roman ceremonial and its reinscription as rightful worship of a Christian God.

Robin Jensen (“The Emperor as Christ and Christian Iconography”) examines the representation of the emperor and of Christ in fourth-century art. Analysis of the labarum, “chi rho,” crown, or seated captives in various media (sarcophagi, public architecture, coins) before and after Constantine suggests the multivalent meaning of iconography and a competitive appropriation and redefinition of Roman imperial symbols.

Michael White (“Capitalizing on the Imperial Cult”) looks at a series of inscriptions from Ostia, Cyrenaica, Lydia, and Phrygia that illustrate what he terms the “negotiated symbiosis” whereby Jews, despite their religious difference, appropriated and manipulated the Hellenistic and Roman systems of civic euergetism and patronage in order to attain and secure their status within their own hierarchical, local, Roman communities.

So Galinsky’s paper provides the focus for three distinct series of investigations about the nature of ancient religion, about the diversity of imperial cult at the local level, and about Christian and Jewish responses to imperial religious practices. The book emerges almost as a Festschrift that celebrates the work of Karl Galinsky.

CJ~Online Review | Hughes, Performing Greek Comedy

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Performing Greek Comedy. By Alan Hughes. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xiv + 311. Hardcover, £55.00/$99.00. ISBN 978-1-107-00930-1.

Reviewed by G. M. Sifakis, University of Crete and New York University

This is an extraordinary work about the performance of Greek comedy placed in its historical and social context from the time it first “came to sight” (as Aristotle puts it) and down to Hellenistic times. Alan Hughes is an emeritus professor of theater arts (British Columbia) and formerly a theater artist himself. He was a specialist in Shakespeare and the English theater of the 19th century when he turned his attention to Greek drama and its archaeology, where he found a good number of images comparable to modern theatrical pictures. 

As Hughes suggests, such images of actors, costumes, sets etc., often are more revealing about the theater of their own time than texts. Moreover, as we have no description of “how the komodos sat, stood, walked, gestured, … our best resource [for his style of movement] is the static figurines and pictures on vases that show actors in characteristic action” (147). This is the reason he decided to spend many years of studying not photos, but the dramatic monuments themselves (mostly Athenian terracottas and South Italian “phlyax” vases) in no fewer than 75 museums and private collections all over the world. As he writes, “I have never examined a comedy vase without learning something new” (xiv). His “Catalogue of objects discussed” lists more than five hundred dramatic monuments.

Unlike Classical scholars and archaeologists-since the time of Webster, Trendall and their successors-who tried to learn from theatrology in order to understand ancient dramatic monuments, modern theater critics and artists have usually moved in the opposite direction: they have been using ancient plays and theaters as vehicles for their own creative ideas and ‘original’ performances. Exceptions are few and far between, although a famous exception that confirms the rule, Peter Hall’s Oresteia (1981), must be mentioned in this connection.

Another unprecedented exception is Hughes’ scholarly work that began appearing in academic journals in 1996-when his seminal paper on “Comic Stages in Magna Graecia” (Theatre Research International 21) was published-and eventually resulted in the publication of the comprehensive work under review.

The book includes chapters devoted to general subjects such as the origins of comedy, festivals, theaters, and comic poets, because the author apparently wants his work to be useful to theater arts students and scholars. But its most original parts are those devoted to actors and acting style, masks and costumes, gestures and body language, and women on the stage. All suggestions and conclusions are based on specific images perceptively interpreted with regard to dramatic action.

The author begins with the symbolic notion of the passage from poet to actor and from lyric to the “double consciousness” (the term is borrowed from the French actor François-Joseph Talma (1763-1826)) of the actor, who does not “build a character from within” but has to act various parts, sometimes in quick succession. Obviously, masks encouraged “doubling,” and by transferring expression from the face to the whole body also encouraged creativity in regard to an acting style that was not representational but presentational and metatheatrical. The appearance of the actors (masks with distorted features, padded costumes, artificial phalli) was emblematic of the social inferiority of comic characters as opposed to the socially superior tragic heroes and stories (spoudaioi and phauloi, respectively, as Aristotle has it) (170-1).

When discussing attitudes and gestures, Hughes uses the behaviorist term ‘emblem’ to distinguish between “symbolic, culturally specific action that expresses an idea rather than an emotion” (154), and affective gestures which are more difficult to decode. However, because ancient comedy was highly conventional in terms of its characters and plot structures, and the author has a great power of observation, his analysis of images is impressive. This is true of general examinations of the evidence, say, for comic costumes and how they were donned or manipulated on stage, or for wooden stages which could be dismantled and reassembled, but could not be carried by traveling troupes from city to city, and which, therefore, it has to be assumed belonged to the cities themselves. Occasionally, a single image may be enough to support a valuable conclusion, e.g. the “Perseus dance” on a low wooden stage illustrated on an Attic oinochoe (Athens ΒΣ518, c. 420), which shows that such stages originated in Attica (the same picture also offers a unique indication of a theatron opposite the stage).

Character types are identifiable by mask and “the generalized style of body language” (147). “Low” types may have been perceived as such “simply because they kept their bodies close to the ground. Actors cultivated this impression by adopting an angular, knee-bending walk, or by stooping and crouching” (151). Yet “portraits from Taras show how, within the comic convention of inverted ideals, actors could set their individual stamp on old types.” A wonderful example is “an old fellow named Derkylos [who] dances a ‘soft shoe,’ gracefully pointing his toes. A charming figure with black mask and tights seems to shrug, looking over his shoulder as he sidles” (150: Apulian situla, 360-350, Getty Museum, 96.AE.118).

In general, while masks often divide women into “three broad categories” (maiden, wife and crone), depictions in vase scenes situate women in relation to men in terms of modesty (158). However, in the chapter on “Comedy and Women” the author discusses the introduction of leading female roles to comedy (Lysistrata, Praxagora), which were individual cases since there was no tradition behind them; and because such heroines inverted “custom and propriety by abandoning the woman’s realm (oikos) for the man’s (polis)” the author wonders whether their appearance was also inverted so as to make them appear attractive in order to be taken seriously by the audience (204).

Lysistrata and Praxagora were played by Aristophanes’ protagonist actors, but Hughes believes that real women were also used as performers in mute roles of dancers, musicians, and allegorical abstractions. He lists a dozen or so cases from Aristophanes, of which worthy of special note is the aulos player brought home by reveling Philokleon at Wasps 1326, because Bdelykleon recognizes her as person (not a character of the play) and mentions her name, “Dardanis.” Does a reference to a real (and perhaps renowned) aulêtris amount to cogent evidence for her presence on stage? 

I remain skeptical about the possibility of mixing real young women with the grotesque and sexually repulsive old men of comedy, inasmuch as such a practice seems to me incompatible with the style of comic performance. Indeed, as Hughes elsewhere says, “given the way female characters are defined, surprisingly few scenes express even muted sexuality” (158). On the other hand, I recognize his point that certain of the above figures have some rejuvenating effect on protagonists (add Ach. 1198, Eq. 1390). Besides, sexually explicit paratheatrical performances featuring dancers and tumblers in partial or total nudity have been documented by Xenophon (Symp. 2.1-2, 8, etc.) and by phlyax vases, and the author refers most of them to acrobatic and mime shows, although in a few cases some relationship to comedy is also possible. Regarding the unnecessarily vexed question of whether women were admitted to theater as spectators, Hughes reasonably sides with those who believe that they were admitted.

The value of this remarkable book lies in the close examination of a multitude of dramatic monuments interpreted, not as archaeological objects, but as pictorial evidence for the performance of Old and Middle comedy in Athens and South Italy and Sicily. This kind of approach–and achievement–was possible precisely because the author is a professional theater historian and self-taught–though by no means an amateur–archaeologist.

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


CJ Online Review | Thommen, An Environmental History of Greece and Rome

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An Environmental History of Ancient Greece and Rome. By Lukas Thommen. Translated by Philip Hill. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp xi + 186. Paper, $29.99. ISBN 978-0521-17465-7.

Reviewed by Jeremy McInerney, University of Pennsylvania

Thommen’s work illustrates both the strengths and shortcomings of a short handbook designed to introduce readers to the study of the environmental history of the Greek and Roman worlds. Constraints of the handbook format, especially length, make it unfair to compare it to more theoretically sophisticated works like Horden and Purcell’s The Corrupting Sea, or more exhaustive tomes such as Sallares’ magnificent 1991 volume, The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World, and in the space of a scant 142 pages of text Thommen is able to touch upon a broad range of topics, from deforestation to changes in shore-line, with short chapters on topics as varied as Fire, Water, Animals and Food, which is not to exhaust the list. Also, the work has a very thorough summary, in the Introduction, briefly noting various modern works devoted to environmental history. Thommen is admirably lucid in laying out the key ancient and modern terms used for discussing environmental matters. The section on further reading is also very helpful and the volume will be a good jumping off point for undergraduates working on environmentally-themed term papers.

A more difficult question to answer, however, is whether such a format is really desirable for a topic as immense as the environmental history of the Ancient Mediterranean. Time and again questions are raised, or more commonly, assertions are made, that one would like to have seen more fully teased out. For example, after a half-page discussion of the Greek understanding of climatic zones and meteorology, Thommen declares, “No concrete effects of this teaching on settlement activity are apparent” (25) This is strictly not true. Lothar Haselberger has shown quite convincingly that classical urban planning took account of Aristotelian notions of the winds. [[1]] Rather than a closed avenue, as Thommen’s comments suggest, this is a new line of inquiry that deserves much more attention. Similarly, a statement such as “During the Augustan period, the poets Vergil and Propertius praised the superior strength of the Roman Empire precisely because of its better environment” (76) borders on oversimplification. Debellare superbos et parcere subiectis is not an environmental manifesto!

A second reservation concerns Thommen’s decision to base his work primarily on literary sources (16) and to take into account “natural-scientific investigations” (which I take to mean archaeology in its fullest sense) “only to a limited degree.” Thus we get Oliver Rackham on the capacity of pine trees to regenerate and the revisionist view that widespread deforestation was not responsible for the degradation of the Greek countryside, and a passing reference to Hans Lohmann’s Atene survey, but no mention of the Nemea Valley Area Project, the Pylos Regional Area Project or the nearly fifty year old Minnesota-Messenia Project. Similarly, on the Roman side, an influential 2010 Dutch landscape and archaeological project entitled Regional Pathways to Complexity is simply absent. Such omissions are a concern: Thommen’s analysis of Roman agriculture relies far too heavily on Columella and Varro, while his treatment of Rome as an urban environment is skewed towards Horace and Martial’s familiar complaints about the noise, traffic and smell of the city. Once again, archaeology is being reduced to a bowl of cherries, to be picked for the juiciest bits but not systematically digested. That’s a step backwards.

Even if we follow Thommen and restrict the analysis to literary sources, there’s much here to cause raised eyebrows. It is not controversial to say that “In Greece the gods took anthropomorphic form,” but recent studies have explored the animal nature of Hera and Zeus, as well as the obvious cases of Athena Hippia and Poseidon Hippios in much greater depth. Accordingly, the statement that Poseidon “was primarily held responsible for earthquakes” is not wrong but only skims the surface, since the cult of the Earthshaker was central to the religious, political and ethnic identity of central Greece. [[2]] Another lost opportunity is the omission of any discussion of the Mycenaean draining of Lake Copais, despite a short section on drainage that mentions a similar, though more modest project under Alexander the Great. One might have expected the greatest engineering feat performed on the Greek mainland in three millennia to have warranted a mention.

The second half of the book is dedicated to Rome and in particular the environmental changes associated with the growth of imperial power. The section on roads is clear, if somewhat weighted towards the physical connections made between Italy and Germany without much attention to other provinces or regions. The same can be said of an interesting section on timber that makes some keen observations about Roman forestry practices in southern Germany. Here too, however, the highly selective nature of Thommen’s argument, which is assembled somewhat serendipitously, leaves the reader dissatisfied. For example, Thommen cites a lugubrious passage from Pliny on the human dilemma: man is weak, threatened by the environment, aided only by his technical resources, which, ironically, leave him even more exposed to destruction. Yet what qualifies this passage as programmatic (an illustration of “the fundamental dilemma of people in antiquity with respect to nature” (78)) rather than, say, Sophokles’ famous ode to man from the Antigone, in which human ingenuity is seen as a continuous triumph over nature?

So light is Thommen’s engagement that at times his pages read more as aperçu than argument. Page 97, for example, begins with bans on animal fights in the arena before moving to depictions on arches and sarcophagi of animal hunts, five lines on the Piazza Armerina mosaics, Vergil on bee colonies, Pliny on zoology in general, Neopythagoreans and vegetarianism, Plutarch on animal reason, Porphyry on avoiding carnivory, and finally, the New Testament, the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd: a veritable smorgasbord!

Overall, students will find a good deal of useful information here but despite Thommen’s laudable concern for the environment his volume can hardly be said to have ascertained “the interactive complexes of effects between people and their environment” (15) in the ancient Mediterranean. Such a work remains to be written. A final note: Philip Hill’s translation is fine, although there are occasional missteps. “For whenever anyone was belated by a sacrifice …” (51) is not a happy expression.

[[1]] Lothar Haselberger, “Geometrie der Winde, windige Geometrie: Städtebau nach Vitruv und Aristophanes,” in Stadt und Umland-Diskussionen zur Archäologischen Bauforschung 7 (Mainz,1999) 90-100.

[[2]] See Sabine Szidat, Poseidon als Erderschütterer (Munich, 2001).

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

CJ Online Review |Rowan, Under Divine Auspices

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Under Divine Auspices: Divine Ideology and the Visualisation of Imperial Power in the Severan Period. By Clare Rowan. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xvi + 303. Hardcover, $110.00. ISBN 978-1-107-02012-2.

Reviewed by Adam M. Kemezis, University of Alberta

The last ten years of scholarship have greatly enriched our understanding of the Severan period of imperial history (193-235), and Clare Rowan’s study of the emperors’ religious self-presentation represents both a synthesis of this new material and an important advance in its own right. It will be indispensable to specialists in the period, and of great interest both to scholars of imperial Rome’s religious and cultural history and also to students of the historical side of numismatics.

The book, a revised version of a Macquarie University doctoral thesis, consists of an introduction, methodological-and-background chapter and one chapter each on the four Severan emperors, followed by a brief conclusion and three appendices. Each of the main emperor-based chapters gives a detailed survey of surviving uses of religious imagery in visual media for that reign with particular emphasis on coinage, both imperial and civic.

The methodology chapter lays out Rowan’s approach to coins (19-31), which is notable for its stress on hoard evidence as opposed to catalogs; thus Rowan looks not only at which types were issued, but also at which types were most heavily issued. It is this that leads to the most important finding of the book overall, which is that religious imagery is considerably more prominent in Severan than in Antonine coinage when one considers it as a percentage of the total coins minted. Thus in a sample hoard of 80,000 coins, a coin of Alexander Severus is twice as likely to have a religious image as a coin of Marcus Aurelius (see Rowan’s Appendix 1). Furthermore, many of the cults invoked in Severan coinage are provincial in origin, suggesting a new ideological dynamic between center and periphery.

The remaining chapters detail the rather different emphasis that each emperor used in this practice. The chapter on Septimius Severus is the longest, due to the abundance of sources, and consists mostly of an important discussion of Septimius’ use of the tutelary gods of Leptis Magna. Some of this material has been covered very recently and in great depth by Achim Lichtenberger, in a book that Rowan was fortunately able to consult (Severus Pius Augustus: Studien zur sakralen Repräsentation und Rezeption der Herrschaft des Septimius Severus und seiner Familie (193-211 n. Chr.) Leiden, 2011). Rowan adds to this formidable study particularly in her coverage of numismatic material, of monuments in Leptis itself (84-102), and in her cultural-historical arguments, which are more straightforwardly presented without being any less sophisticated.

The chapter on Caracalla concentrates on an aspect of his persona that may be unfamiliar even to specialists: his obsession with his health. Rowan convincingly links his well-known devotion to Sarapis with numismatic references to Aesculapius and Apollo which seem to coincide with Caracalla’s travels to specific holy sites, and with literary references to his diseases (115-37). The iconography of the cults finds its way into imperial coinage as a sort of reflex to the appearance of imperial ideology in provincial coinage and art.

The chapter also contains detailed considerations of Caracalla’s visits to Troy and Alexandria (146-53). Elagabalus’ religious self-presentation is well mapped territory, and Rowan is less interested in breaking new ground than in placing what we know in better perspective. Her sensible conclusion is that, based on the visual and material evidence, Elagabalus’ presentation of himself as priest-emperor appears neither as a unilaterally and universally imposed policy, nor as a radical aberration from Severan practice generally, however disastrously it may eventually have failed.

The chapter on Alexander is the shortest, again as dictated by the available evidence, and Rowan mainly discusses his use of Jovian imagery and in general his reaction against Elagabalus. There is also a sensible discussion of Alexander’s heavy use of solar imagery (241-5).

What makes this book most useful is its breadth and accessible organization: Rowan brings together a very great deal of material for a medium-length book, both in terms of ancient evidence and of modern bibliography, and presents it sensibly without getting lost in technicalities. Above all to be commended is her treatment of coins. Her quantitative methodology brings out her most original new findings, and she is clearly far more comfortable with the technical aspects of numismatics than most historians (this reviewer very much included), but she keeps these details fully integrated within historical arguments, and the non-specialist never feels talked over or talked down to.

This same breadth does at times constitute a drawback. The book discusses nearly all the “greatest hits” of Severan art and architecture, but in many cases, such as the Arch of the Argentarii and Septimius Severus’ Forum Arch (104-7), the discussion adds little either to the overall argument of the book or to the separate scholarship on the monument, and seems to be there for the sake of completeness.

The treatment of literary evidence and of historical narrative is sometimes faulty (e.g. the description of the aftermath of Pertinax’s death at 34-5) and often heavily derivative of one point of view (e.g. Harker’s revisionist take on the Alexandrian violence under Caracalla). These points are ultimately tangential to Rowan’s larger argument, however. The idea of the Severans as religious innovators is of course not new, but much of the older work is ideologically problematic and/or based on uncritical readings of literary sources. Rowan’s findings, and the recent scholarship she has admirably incorporated into her study, will place the entire discussion on much firmer ground.

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


CJ~Online Review | Toner, Roman Disasters

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Roman Disasters. By JERRY TONER. Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2013. Pp. ix + 220. Hardcover, $25.00. ISBN: 978-0-7456-5102-6.

Reviewed by Herbert J. Benario, Emory University

When this book reached me around the middle of June, I recalled that, in the fall of 2000, I had arranged a panel for the Southern Section of CAMWS meeting on “Roman Military Disasters and Their Consequences,” consisting of four papers, which were published in The Classical World 96 (2003) 363-406. But the present volume treats sparingly manmade disasters, largely in warfare, such as the Romans’ terrible defeats at Cannae, in the Teutoburg Forest, and at Adrianople.

Its subject is rather essentially those calamities caused by Mother Nature: volcanic eruptions, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes. The book’s arrival was very timely, alas. There were daily reports of the horrendous flooding in northern Europe. Not long before, tornadoes had leveled large sections of central Oklahoma. Forest fires were devastating parts of California and Colorado.Every classicist will think immediately of the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. We may not recall that there had been an earthquake in Pompeii seventeen years before, nor should one forget the seemingly continuous eruptions of Mt. Etna and the horrendous earthquake at Messina in 1908.

It is disasters such as these which are the prime subject of Toner’s book. There are two main themes: how did the Romans respond to these overwhelming disasters and what lessons, if any, the people drew from them or tried to explain them in some rational manner. In our day we have splendid communications, heavy equipment to attempt to give immediate succor, and trained dogs which can find and rescue buried people. But, all in all, we have not advanced very far from the time of the Romans. We may anticipate an earthquake or predict a tsunami, but we cannot forestall them.

Toner’s book is the first in my memory which treats such a huge range of disasters. I quote here from page 10 his subjects:

natural hazards:

atmospheric: rain, snow, hurricane

hydrological: floods, drought

geological: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides

biological: epidemic diseases, blight, plagues of insects, forest fires

technological hazards

fire, hazardous materials, destructive processes, structural failure, mechanical devices, organizational failure


war, rebellion, assault, ethnic cleansing

Perhaps the Roman disasters which most readily come to a reader’s mind are the collapse of the amphitheater in Fidenae in 26, followed by a huge fire on the Caelian Hill (Tacitus Ann. 4,62-4), the earthquake at Pompeii and eruption of Vesuvius, in 62 and 79, and the great fire at Rome in 64, which may have been set at Nero’s instigation. The emperor Titus’ short reign was marked by this eruption and another massive fire in Rome. Even the emperor could not do much against them; human capabilities were too frail (“Oh Gertrude, Gertrude! When sorrows come, they come not single spies, But in battalions” [Hamlet, IV 1])

When a disaster struck in antiquity, it was almost impossible for help to arrive from any distance, save for the delivery of food. This was the case into the nineteenth century, until the invention of the railroad. The victims did the best they could, fear and panic generally reigned, but one could do little more than hope and pray. The division of society into its various strata could help, because the aristocracy had private resources which they could tap, if they so wished.

It was easier to find blame in military disasters. In ad 9, the disaster in the Teutoburg Forest was irrevocably linked with Quinctilius Varus, and to a large degree quite appropriately. Yet some of the blame must fall on Augustus himself. Had he appointed to the legateship of Germany an experienced soldier like Caecina, history might well have been different. But conjecture can never lead to an answer, why some disaster occurred. Religion was most often invoked. In the first century ad and later, the Christians could argue that God had caused A or B to punish the remaining pagans; conversely, the pagans could claim that the disaster came because the Christians had abandoned the ancient religion. But none of this is satisfactory.

Discussion of the consequences of disasters is largely psychological and sociological. The last two chapters, “The Psychological Impact” and “Roman Disasters in Context,” recapitulate the arguments which Toner has presented. 

The book’s publication is almost foolproof. I offer here a few suggestions and amendments. On page 18, eighth line from the bottom, use of the noun “vice” for “vise” befuddled me; is this a British usage? In the first paragraph on the next page, the Teutoburg forest is located in “what is now southern Germany.” Not so; if one accepts Kalkriese as the battle site, it will be well into the northern part of the country, northeast of Osnabrück. On 143, the Arch of Gallienus deserves mention.

This is fine and informative book, for which the author deserves great praise. The subject is sad and gloomy, and the reader will not be very cheerful as he/she works through it. But the reader will know much more about Roman disasters at the end. Bene factum!

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


CJ~Online Review | Morello and Gibson, Reading the Letters of Pliny the Younger

posted with permission:

Reading the Letters of Pliny the Younger: An Introduction. By Roy K. Gibson and Ruth Morello. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. iv + 350. Hardcover, $99.00. ISBN 978-0-521-84292-1.

Reviewed by Barbara Weinlich, Eckerd College

Organized in eight chapters and supplemented by a map, four appendices, references, an index of passages, and a general index, this highly informative book is devoted to the process of unpacking Pliny’s Letters as an artistic product, a cultural document, and a reading experience. What makes this introduction so interesting and engaging is the way in which it meets the twofold goal of covering a range of reading methodologies to Pliny’s correspondence and a selection of its key themes and topics. Each chapter combines a (different) subject with a (different) approach and thus exemplifies a number of interpretive possibilities that Pliny’s Letters-both individually and as a collection-offer to the reader.

In good didactic (and pedagogical) fashion, Chapter 1 (“Reading a Life: Letters, Book 1″) chooses the most popular approach, i.e. reading Pliny “for his life,” and applies it to the first book. The chapter elucidates how biographical and narrative gaps as well as the use of metaphor are part of an artistic concept by means of which Pliny shapes a meta-text in Book 1. By uncovering the high degree of complexity of Pliny’s text, this chapter makes the reader realize that Book 1 offers first and foremost an elite member’s autobiographical perspective, not narrative, on a new political era.

Chapter 2 (“Reading a Book: Letters, Book 6″) studies the arrangement of Pliny’s Letters for evidence of artistic design. Although this approach is primarily applied to Book 6, it introduces the reader to structures that create coherence not only on the book but also on the collection level. As to the latter, the chapter points to a narrative cycle that stretches across several books and illuminates how the interaction between Book 6 and the cyclical narrative are meant to make a particular point (about Pliny).

Reading “by cycle” then is the approach that Chapter 3 (“Epistolary Models: Cicero and Seneca”) applies to Pliny’s Letters for exploring their literary context. Though Seneca and Ovid do not remain unmentioned, the chapter is mostly concerned with the question of how Pliny positions his work and his epistolary persona vis-à-vis Cicero. Based on both textual and intertextual evidence, the chapter highlights Pliny’s innovative contributions to the genre, his ambivalent attitude toward his most eminent predecessor, and the artistic manifestation of this enormously stimulating, yet also limiting, hate-love for Cicero.

Further examining the ways in which Pliny wishes to present himself to the reader and once again applying the approach of reading Pliny ‘by cycle,’ Chapter 4 (“Pliny’s Elders and Betters: The Elder Pliny, Vestricius Spurinna, Corellius Rufus, Verginius Rufus [and Silius Italicus]“) focuses on the cyclical narratives devoted to those who acted as his good or bad role models (or both). Chapter 5 (“Pliny’s Peers: Reading for the Addressee”), in turn, focuses on so-called friendship narratives, i.e., cycles of letters about or addressed to a number of Pliny’s peers.

Turning to a key theme of the Letters, Chapter 6 (“Otium: How to Manage Leisure”) explores how Pliny defines his concept of otium vis-à-vis his epistolographical predecessor Seneca and, more broadly, vis-à-vis the elite’s concern with time management. Alternating between sequential readings and the study of individual letters, the chapter illuminates in which ways Pliny both agrees and disagrees with the Senecan tradition and how he establishes his personal version of otium in his Letters as well as in elite culture.

Adopting the anthologist’s approach, Chapter 7 (“Reading the Villa Letters: 9.7, 2.17, 5.6″) focuses on the three best-known letters on Pliny’s villas. While this chapter is specifically concerned with exploring an essential aspect of Pliny’s discourse on otium and implicitly on himself, it first and foremost demonstrates the interpretive benefit gained from integrating varied, seemingly exclusive, approaches (e.g. archaeological, historical, and literary) to the villa letters. In addition, Chapter 7 stresses the significance of Book 9 and of Letter 9.7 in particular for providing important reading guidance to the earlier villa descriptions by Pliny himself.

Chapter 8 (“The Grand Design: How to Read the Collection”) is concerned with closure and the significance of Books 9 and 10 in this regard. Roughly divided in halves, the chapter first makes a well-argued case for reading Books 1-9 as one unit and then considers the interpretive potential of Book 10 as an integral part, continuation, and even climax of the Letters-text.

The eight chapters are complemented by four appendices that provide a “Pliny timeline,” a catalog of contents and addressees of Books 1-9, bibliographical help on popular topics in the Letters, and a list of the collection’s main characters.

This co-authored volume has many strengths. Above all, it is a very stimulating read, offering food for thought about approaching and exploring Pliny’s Letters. Moreover, it is written with great clarity and with an eye for a well-balanced presentation. Roughly of equal length, each chapter contributes to a varied, yet thematically coherent introduction. Diversity is achieved by the fact that each author gives a different overall meaning to Pliny. This change of perspective(s) may pose a challenge to the reader and may at times result in re-reading a chapter or at least parts

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


CJ~Online Review | Skinner, The Invention of Greek Ethnography

Posted with permission:

The Invention of Greek Ethnography: from Homer to Herodotus.  By Joseph E. Skinner.  Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.  Pp. vii + 343. $85.00.  ISBN 978-0-19-979360-0.

Reviewed by Sandra Blakely, Emory University

The Invention of Greek Ethnography is a welcome addition to studies of identity in the ancient Mediterranean.  Ambitious in scope and intelligent in execution, the book positions the question of ethnographic prose in the broad context of Mediterranean engagements with cultural identity, articulated in art historical and archaeological as well as literary sources. 

Skinner challenges many of the models traditional for emergence of Greek ethnography: that it was a Greek invention; a prose genre; characterized by simple dualities; a response to the “Barbarians” encountered in the Persian war; and that a preference for aggregative and ethnic identities changed, after that encounter, to oppositional and cultural ones. He defines ethnography as “thinking about identity from the point of view of an outsider” and seeks continually to recover the perspective of the man in the Greek street. Ethnographic discourse emerges as a process as ongoing and ubiquitous as the creation of cultural identity, both of which were continually evolving activities rather than fixed ideas and bounded genres.      

The book is organized into five chapters, which proceed from the intellectual history of the problem to a survey of the chief objects of ethnographic investigation, an overview of the cultural mechanisms for addressing the question, case studies in Olbia, Campania, Delphi and Olympia, and a return to the question of Herodotus’ ethnography, informed by the results of the first four chapters.

Chapter 1, “Ethnography before ethnography,” establishes the need for the study: while scholarly monographs and edited volumes on Herodotus have been exploding, the study of ethnography as a genre has been largely static. Material evidence, including Achaemenid cylinder seals, Egyptian reliefs from 1400 BC, and Persepolis reliefs counter assumptions that ethnography was a uniquely Greek or a fifth century invention. 

Skinner then outlines the concept of a Greek prose ethnography, beginning with Jacoby’s invention of the idea, his challenges in maintaining the category as he assembled the FGH, and the historical context in which he operated, in which traveling ‘discourses of wonder’ drew popular enthusiasm, and ancient Greece was privileged as the heart and soul of European rationalism – inherently incomparable, and safely distant from the ‘primitives’ studied by Jacoby’s anthropological counterparts.

Chapter 2, “Populating the Imaginaire,” provides a sketch of key players in the Greek ethnographic tradition, from the purely mythic, including Cyclopes and Amazons, to the Thracians, Lydians and others of historical contact. Skinner integrates iconographic, archaeological and textual traditions, and underwrites his presentation with a productive elision between the imaginary and historical. The chapter foregrounds the shortsightedness of approaches which value ethnographies primarily for their historicity, and demonstrates the abundance of Greek ethnographic traditions before the Persian wars, traditions sufficiently individual and detailed to counter reductive polarities of Greeks and “Others.”    

Chapter 3, “Mapping Ethnography,” provides a survey of the cultural mechanisms through which ethnographic information was disseminated.  These begin with literary and sub-literary forms, including lists, epithets, stereotypes, epic and epinicia, and conclude with the material evidence typically excluded from discussions of ethnography-the coins, ceramics, metalwork and sculpture in which iconographic depictions of self and others, as well as regional stylistic variations, provide reflections on ethnic identities.  Skinner emphasizes the place for movement and variation: epithets are defined as “mobile, discursive operators that can be continually reworked” (115); stereotypes as cognitive devices to help deal with social complexity; lists as mechanisms of signification which segment, order, condense and transform.   

In Chapter 4, “Mapping Identities,” Skinner brings the principles established in the first three chapters to two loci at the farthest reaches of the Mediterranean-Olbia and Calabria-and to Olympia and Delphi as two “imagined centers”.  Here as throughout the study, the debates and the nuances regarding each case study are carefully accounted for, and an impressive range of both material and literary evidence is brought to bear.  Herodotus’ accounts of Skyles and Anacharsis, read against the evidence from Olbia and the Scythians, emerges as authorial choice rather than historical inevitability. 

For Calabria, often deemed a cultural backwater because of its modern poverty, Skinner demonstrates the deep prehistory of Greek contact, the rich agricultural possibilities in the eyes of incoming Greeks, and material evidence for wide-reaching trade networks. Calabrians emerge as people “immersed in a sea of ethnographic imaginings,”  (211), including epic, lyric, sculpture and vase paintings, in the constant renegotiation of power and identity. Skinner questions the extent to which Delphi and Olympia functioned as centers for information about foreign lands, and foregrounds the contested and competing Greek identities which were played out in the form of genealogical manipulation and victor’s lists, read against foreign votives and myths which made the sanctuaries the point of entry for exotic imaginary groups such as the Hyperboreans.

Chapter 5, “The Invention of Greek Ethnography,” returns to the question of Herodotus and reframes his invention as the choice of prose narrative for the exploration of other ethnicities.  A prose ethnography could serve, on the one hand, the interests of the emerging democratic polis, a context in which a competitive display of knowledge could replace divine inspiration as the basis of authority. A less Athenocentric approach, however, is both more appropriate for Herodotus’ origins in multi-ethnic Ionia, and for Skinner’s model of ethnography as a continual cultural process, more nuanced than simple, in which Greeks were as concerned to distinguish themselves from other Greeks as they were from the “Barbarians” on whom so much scholarly ink has been spilt.  

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


CJ~Online Review: Murnaghan on Nooter, When Heroes Sing

posted with permission:

When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy. By Sarah Nooter. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. viii + 200. $95.00 ISBN 978-1-107-00161-9.
Reviewed by Sheila Murnaghan, University of Pennsylvania
In this innovative and rewarding study, Sarah Nooter assesses the "poeticity" of the Sophoclean hero. In the context of tragedy, itself a form of poetry, poeticity (a serviceable, if ungainly term) denotes instances of sung or heightened language that depart from ordinary speech as presented through the unobtrusive, conversational rhythms of the iambic trimeter. The clearest cases are passages in which actors actually sing, often in alternation with the chorus, and Nooter’s focus on Sophocles’ protagonists is grounded in the fact that Sophocles gives sung lyrics to his main characters much more often than either Aeschylus or Euripides.
But Nooter is also concerned with spoken utterances that are variously marked as lyrical by their emotional intensity, use of repetition and word play, dense imagery, and expansive range of reference. She pays particular attention to apostrophe (making good use of theoretical treatments by Jonathan Culler and Thomas Greene) as a means by which speakers reach beyond their immediate interlocutors. Such features distinguish poetic from everyday discourse in many settings, but for Athenian tragedians and their audiences, they were especially associated with the non-dramatic lyric genres that figured among tragedy’s sources. Nooter’s book thus shares in the current interest in tragedy’s debt to its lyric roots and its mixture of multiple styles and meters-an overdue response to John Herington’s groundbreaking Poetry into Drama (1985), propelled by a swing of the pendulum from sociological to more formalist approaches in tragic criticism.
Examining the protagonist’s speech patterns in six of the surviving plays, Nooter shows how Sophocles stretches ordinary language to produce the voices of out-sized characters facing extreme, uncharted circumstances. The effects she discusses are diverse, and the lines between poetic and unpoetic expression are inevitably fluid. Her willingness to allow poeticity only to the central hero of each play can certainly be questioned. It seems arbitrary that Deianira’s gnomic, metaphor-filled speeches in Trachiniae should be ruled unpoetic because they lack addressees or are indirectly quoted, and Teiresias’ enigmatic, disorienting words in Oedipus Tyrannus could surely be classed as poetic.
Nooter herself admits the artificiality of her boundaries when she declines to discuss Antigone because the play features two main characters who meet her definition of speaking poetically. But this limitation is not a serious problem for her argument because her greatest interest is in the efficacy, rather than just the expressiveness, of heightened language; it is the strong-willed heroes who most conspicuously make things happen with their extraordinary words, especially when more tangible resources fail them.
Surveying the plays in presumed chronological order, Nooter finds a progression from earlier heroes (Ajax, Heracles, Oedipus at Thebes) who gain "authority" through poetic language to later ones (Electra, Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus) who gain actual "power," making things turn out as they wish. Along this trajectory, her readings acutely delineate the various formal means by which particular situations are dramatized. The painful lyric outbursts with which Ajax responds to his situation drive home his isolation from other human beings, not least because they meet with sober trimeter answers from the chorus. In his own great trimeter speeches, Ajax uses riddling language, arresting metaphors, and addresses to gods and nature to make contact instead with superhuman forces.
Heracles in Trachiniae and Oedipus in Oedipus Tyrannus are treated together as figures who turn to lyrics to construct new and compelling identities when their seemingly-secure positions and enviable reputations have been destroyed. In one of the book’s strongest discussions, Electra is shown to dominate and direct the other characters of her play through relentless deployment of lamentation. For Philoctetes, apostrophe is the poetic trope through which he most effectively shapes his circumstances-articulating his abjection, soliciting Neoptolemus’ sympathy, conjuring Heracles’ epiphany, and mastering his Lemnian surroundings. Finally, in Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus relies on elevated language to bring his Athenian interlocutors a proper appreciation of his unfathomable, paradoxical, and superhuman status and then falls silent as his survivors take over his lyric mode to express what they have witnessed.
Throughout this discussion, Nooter maintains that the power these heroes gain by using poetic language is specifically the power of a poet. This claim seems doubtful and even somewhat anticlimactic. Sophocles may have drawn on lyric poetry for his protagonists’ modes of speech, but it does not follow that he has characterized them as lyric poets. Nooter rightly stresses the authority of poets in the Greek tradition (and might have said even more about their associations with seercraft, priesthood, and magic), but that authority hardly matches the singular strengths of the Sophoclean hero: the worldly prerogatives gained and lost, the special closeness to the gods, the uncompromising will and sense of self, the driving awareness of deprivation and injustice-powers conveyed in tragedy through heightened, hyper-poetic language. As the author of this language, it is Sophocles who emerges from Nooter’s suggestive treatment as an impressively powerful poet.

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

CJ~Online Review | Shelmerdine, Introduction to Latin, 2nd Edition

posted with permission:

Introduction to Latin. Second Edition.By Susan C. Shelmerdine. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Company, 2013. Pp. xvi + 376. Paper, $34.95. ISBN 978-1-58510-390-4.

Reviewed by Betine Van Zyl Smit, University of Nottingham

The many users of Shelmerdine’s introductory Latin textbook will welcome this new edition. It retains the good qualities of the first and revised editions, and also introduces some improvements.

The second edition is again arranged in 32 chapters and can be covered in two 12-week semesters with a class meeting four times per week. In a short preface to the second edition Shelmerdine details the changes she has introduced. It is clear that she has responded to criticism of aspects of her first edition. She has integrated the changes in a sensible way. Thus the passive voice is introduced earlier, as are participles and the subjunctive. These changes will enable students to come to grips with more complex texts earlier and thus provide more reading practice in the last weeks of the course. Such practice is offered. The last three chapters omit translation-into-Latin exercises and concentrate on reading Latin. More reading practice comes in four "Reading Chapters" where some of the continuous passages have comprehension questions. These chapters recapitulate the work in the preceding chapters and contain exercises involving derivatives as well as Latin phrases and abbreviations still used in English.

Overall the approach remains as in the first edition: each chapter contains explanations of morphology and syntax as well as exercises. The exercises are still mostly translation from Latin or from English to Latin, but many of the sentences are taken from Latin authors (sources listed on pp. 302-6) and thus students are gradually familiarized with the style of ancient authors and spared the artificial constructions of many introductory Latin textbooks. The number of other exercises where students are to supply endings or to identify agreement, case usage or parts of speech has been increased. The new vocabulary introduced in each chapter is again at the end of the chapter, but is followed by an additional section on derivatives. This aspect of learning Latin was confined to the "Reading" or revision chapters of the earlier edition and will be of use to students in memorising meanings by linking them to English. Another welcome addition is the increased (from 38 to 48) number of "Readings." These passages of "real" Latin from Classical authors, (the sources are indicated on pp. 301-2) are initially adapted to suit the level of the student, but later presented with minimal editing. These passages are very valuable in preparing students for the transition to the next level of Latin where they will probably be reading complete works of unadapted Latin.

I have been teaching beginners’ Latin to university students for more than forty years and Shelmerdine’s new edition is the best work I have come across for introducing students within one academic year to basic Latin morphology and syntax and providing them with a reasonable amount of reading practice. At the back of the book there are several sections containing reference materials. These form summaries of what appears in the rest of the book: complete paradigms of the morphology, the vocabulary covered, first by chapter and then in two alphabetical lists, English to Latin and Latin to English and, last, an Index. This book on its own provides a solid foundation that equips students to move to the next level where they start reading complete books of Latin authors like Cicero or Virgil. However, this textbook now comes accompanied by a wealth of further materials that the teacher may choose to use or point students to using.

First, there are materials online, available at the online resource page. A certain amount of material, such as flashcard vocabulary exercises, is offered free of charge and, if more exercises are desired, they may be purchased. An Instructor’s Guide and a Student’s Course Guide ensure that everyone will know how to use the exercises. It is possible to link these exercises to Moodle so that the instructor is able to follow and measure students’ progress.

For those who prefer to work with the printed page, there are further resources: there is a Workbook by Ed DeHoratius (ISBN 978-1-58510-674-5) which is closely linked to Introduction to Latin. It follows the chapter pattern and, by offering different exercises and approaching the same material (new morphology and syntax plus new vocabulary) from other angles, should help students who struggle to absorb the work. There is an answer key at the back of the book so that students get feedback, as they do in a different way in the online exercises. A second book that should prove most exciting to students who are learning Latin to use as a tool in studying archaeology or history is By Roman Hands (ISBN 978-1-58510-402-4), a collection of Latin inscriptions and graffiti, collected and edited by Matthew Hartnett. This introduction to epigraphy is a most welcome extension of basic Latin reading material for beginners. It is attractively presented and provided with the necessary vocabulary and notes.

I recommend all of these books concerned with giving Latin learners access to authentic Latin texts. They make the teacher’s task lighter and should make it easier for students to master reading the ancient language.

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


Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

Major catching up …

  • 2013.10.45:  Fritz Graf, Sarah Iles Johnston, Ritual Texts for the Afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets. Second edition (first published 2007).
  • 2013.10.44:  Chris Emlyn-Jones, William Preddy, Plato VI: Republic, Volume II. Books 6-10. Loeb classical library, 276. bmcr2
    Chris Emlyn-Jones, William Preddy, Plato V: Republic, Volume I. Books 1-5. Loeb classical library, 237. .
  • 2013.10.43:  Thomas A. J. McGinn, Obligations in Roman Law: Past, Present, and Future. Papers and monographs of the American Academy in Rome, 33.
  • 2013.10.42:  Susanna Braund, Josiah Osgood, A Companion to Persius and Juvenal. Blackwell companions to the ancient world.
  • 2013.10.41:  Colin Austin, Menander, Eleven Plays. Cambridge Classical Journal: Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society. Supplementary volume, 37.
  • 2013.10.40:  Samuel Scolnicov, Euthydemus: Ethics and Language. Lecturae Platonis, 8.
  • 2013.10.39:  Carlos Fraenkel, Philosophical Religions from Plato to Spinoza: Reason, Religion, and Autonomy.
  • 2013.10.38:  Daryn Lehoux, A. D. Morrison, Alison Sharrock, Lucretius: Poetry, Philosophy, Science.
  • 2013.10.37:  Bernard Andreae, Römische Kunst: von Augustus bis Constantin.
  • 2013.10.36:  Daniel I. Iakov, Η Άλκηστη του Ευριπίδη. Ερμηνευτική έκδοση (2 vols.).
  • 2013.10.35:  Claire L. Lyons, Michael Bennett, Clemente Marconi, Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome.
  • 2013.10.34:  John K. Papadopoulos, Gary Urton, The Construction of Value in the Ancient World. Cotsen advanced seminar series, 5.
  • 2013.10.33:  Tuomas E. Tahko, Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics.
  • 2013.10.32:  Felix K. Maier, “Überall mit dem Unerwarteten rechnen”: die Kontingenz historischer Prozesse bei Polybios. Vestigia, Bd 65​.
  • 2013.10.31:  André Malta, Homero Múltiplo: Ensaios Sobra a Épica Grega.
  • 2013.10.30:  Andrea Lozano-Vásquez, Platón y la irracionalidad.
  • 2013.10.29:  Yasmin Haskell, Prescribing Ovid: The Latin Works and Networks of the Enlightened Dr. Heerkens.
  • 2013.10.28:  Timothy J. Moore, Roman Theatre. Cambridge learning; Greece and Rome: texts and contexts.
  • 2013.10.27:  Han Baltussen, Greek and Roman Consolations: Eight Studies of a Tradition and its Afterlife.
  • 2013.09.57:  Edoardo Bona, Carlos Lévy, Giuseppina Magnaldi, Vestigia notitiai: scritti in memoria di Michelangelo Giusta.
  • 2013.09.58:  Nicola Zwingmann, Antiker Tourismus in Kleinasien und auf den vorgelagerten Inseln: Selbstvergewisserung in der Fremde. Antiquitas, Reihe 1, Abhandlungen zur alten Geschichte, Bd. 
  • 2013.09.59:  Yannis Papadogiannakis, Christianity and Hellenism in the Fifth-century Greek East: Theodoret’s Apologetics against the Greeks in Context. Hellenic studies, 49.
  • 2013.09.60:  Richard Bett, Sextus Empiricus: Against the Physicists. Cambridge;
  • 2013.09.61:  Roger S. Bagnall, The Encyclopedia of Ancient History (13 vols.).
  • 2013.09.62:  Giovanni Turelli, Audi Iuppiter: il collegio dei feziali nell’esperienza giuridica romana. Collana del Dipartimento di scienze giuridiche dell’Università degli studi di Brescia.
  • 2013.09.63:  Stefanie Märtin, Die politische Führungsschicht der römischen Republik im 2. Jh. v. Chr. zwischen Konformitätsstreben und struktureller Differenzierung. Bochumer Altertumswissenschaftliches Colloquium 87.
  • 2013.09.64:  Maria Serena Funghi, Gabriella Messeri, Cornelia Eva Römer, Ostraca greci e bilingui del Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (O.Petr.Mus.). (3 vols.) Papyrologica Florentina, 42.
  • 2013.09.65:  David M. Schaps, Handbook for Classical Research.
  • 2013.09.66:  Sandra Bingham, The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome’s Elite Special Forces.
  • 2013.09.67:  Filippo Canali De Rossi, La tirannide in Grecia antica. Fare storia, 1.
  • 2013.09.68:  Paul Christesen, Sport and Democracy in the Ancient and Modern Worlds.
  • 2013.10.02:  Guy Lachenaud, Les Routes de la voix: l’Antiquité grecque et le mystère de la voix. Études anciennes. Série grecque, 147.
  • 2013.10.03:  Response: Bar-Kochva on Pelling on Bar-Kochva, The Image of the Jews in Greek Literature.
  • 2013.10.04:  Gregory S. Aldrete, Alicia Aldrete, The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done for Us?.
  • 2013.10.05:  Guy MacLean Rogers, The Mysteries of Artemis of Ephesos: Cult, Polis, and Change in the Graeco-Roman World. Synkrisis.
  • 2013.10.06:  Maria Clara Conti, Le terrecotte architettoniche di Selinunte: Tetti del VI e V secolo a.C. Museo civico di Castelvetrano e parco archeologico di Selinunte. Biblioteca di Sicilia antiqua, 5.
  • 2013.10.07:  L. Bouke van der Meer, Ostia Speaks. Inscriptions, Buildings and Spaces in Rome’s Main Port.
  • 2013.10.08:  Stephen Harrison, Christopher Stray, Expurgating the Classics: Editing Out in Greek and Latin.
  • 2013.10.09:  David Nirenberg, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition.
  • 2013.10.10:  Robert J. Roecklein, Machiavelli and Epicureanism: An Investigation into the Origins of Early Modern Political Thought.
  • 2013.10.11:  R. Joy Littlewood, A Commentary on Silius Italicus’ ‘Punica’ 7.
  • 2013.10.12:  Helene P. Foley, Re-imagining Greek Tragedy on the American Stage. Sather Classical Lectures, 70.
  • 2013.10.13:  Stéphanie E.​ Binder, Tertullian, On Idolatry and Mishnah Avodah Zarah. Jewish and Christian perspectives series, 22.
  • 2013.10.14:  Response: Montanaro on Mastrocinque on Montanaro, Ambre figurate.
  • 2013.10.15:  Viccy Coltman, Making Sense of Greek Art.
  • 2013.10.16:  Ellen Muehlberger, Angels in Late Ancient Christianity.
  • 2013.10.17:  Andrew S. Jacobs, Christ Circumcised: A Study in Early Christian History and Difference. Divinations: rereading late ancient religion.
  • 2013.10.18:  Jerry Toner, Roman Disasters.
  • 2013.10.19:  Donald Lateiner, Barbara K. Gold, Judith Perkins, Roman Literature, Gender, and Reception: domina illustris. Essays in honor of Judith Peller Hallett. Routledge monographs in classical studies, 13.
  • 2013.10.20:  Alfredo Mario Morelli, Lepos e mores: una giornata su Catullo. Atti del convegno internazionale, Cassino, 27 maggio 2010. Collana di studi umanistici, 2.
  • 2013.10.21:  Jan Kwapisz, David Petrain, Mikołaj Szymański, The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, Bd. 305.
  • 2013.10.22:  Claude Pavur, Easy on the Odes: A Latin Phrase-book for the Odes of Horace.
  • 2013.10.23:  Michelle Zerba, Doubt and Skepticism in Antiquity and the Renaissance.
  • 2013.10.24:  D. S. Levene, Livy on the Hannibalic War.
  • 2013.10.25:  Alessandra Romeo, Orfeo in Ovidio: la creazione di un nuovo epos. Studi di filologia antica e moderna, 25.
  • 2013.10.26:  Giuseppe Zecchini, Alessandro Galimberti, Storici antichi e storici moderni nella Methodus di Jean Bodin. Contributi di storia antica, 10.

H-Net Review | Pitassi, ‘Roman Warships’

Michael Pitassi. Roman Warships. Woodbridge Boydell & Brewer,
2011. 191 pp. $90.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84383-610-0.

Reviewed by Alyssa Tavernia
Published on H-War (September, 2013)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey

Michael Pitassi’s _Roman Warships_ provides a detailed overview of
the evolution and development of Roman warships spanning the life
cycle of Rome’s empire. Through painstaking research of all available
artifacts, literature, and iconography, Pitassi pieces together a
structural and operational time line of the warships that Rome used
to service its vast territories over the centuries.

The book is divided into two main sections which create a clear
separation between Pitassi’s general structural explanation of the
ancient ships in part 1 and the time line of ship types in part 2.
Part 1 of the text covers the interpretation of the sources and an
explanation of the ship fittings. The very first chapter, titled
"Sources," is an apologetic introduction to the extreme challenges
facing the author, given the lack of physical wrecks or further
detailed evidence that may have perhaps bridged the gap between
conjecture and solid facts. The reader is immediately aware that
Pitassi will be navigating through contemporary authors’ vague
descriptions, stylized artwork, frescos, coinage, and disproportioned
reliefs and sculptures to find the framework for his overall
interpretation of these warships and their functions.

It is clear from Pitassi’s available visual evidence that the remains
of Pompeii and Herculaneum play an important role in providing key
visual models of contemporary warships Rome employed. While stylized
at best, and suffering from each artist’s interpretation, surviving
wall paintings and frescos nevertheless become very important
snapshots of the various sized warships of the era. No detail or lack
thereof goes unnoticed in these visual representations, and whenever
possible, contemporary sources such as Polybius, Livy, Tactitus, and
Pliny are used to strengthen conclusions derived from less than ideal

The balance of part 1 goes into great detail to describe the ship
fittings, and Pitassi makes every effort to explain each section of a
Roman warship in fascinating detail. Whether the reader is a scholar
of ancient navies or an undergraduate, this section will shed light
on the anatomy of the Roman warship, with form and function explained
and illustrated through technical drawings and color plates. Pitassi
does not overexplain or linger on areas that need only a short
explanation, such as anchors and awnings.

Part 2 dives headlong into the actual time line of the ships
themselves. Pitassi begins his account at 394 BC, where the first
recorded account of a Roman warship is described. A step-by-step
journey through Rome’s time line gives the reader a historical
context in which vessels are meticulously placed in their time
period, based on his research and physical evidence. Drawings and
models are referenced in this section to add a further dimension to
the overall interpretation of what these Roman vessels may have
looked like and why. Functionality is clearly the basis of Pitassi’s
analysis and formulations of design.

While Pitassi’s warship time line deals almost exclusively with
maritime functions of each type of vessel during the Roman period, a
closer look at Roman military vessels integrated with Rome’s overall
military operations might have expanded the reader’s understanding
and awareness of the importance of these ships and the overall naval
branch of this ancient superpower. However, one only has to look to
Pitassi’s previous book, _The Navies of Rome_, for this expanded

While the book details warships from every imaginable fitting and
dimension, it is void of much in the way of connecting the ships to
its crew, in terms of an operational structure on board or social
levels on land. On the other hand, the outcome of Pitassi’s narrow
focus is his ability to successfully communicate the ebb and flow of
the evolution of these ships, which run a parallel course with Roman
expansion as well as its decline. No detail of any size ship has been
left out of consideration during this analysis.

_Roman Warships_ is a well-supported, focused sourcebook which
presents the overview, dissection, and chronology of Roman vessels in
the service of their military throughout the span of the republican
and imperial eras. This is not a purely scientific, deeply technical
reference book, but instead has been written in a way that is
comprehendible to a range of historians and students alike, with
little or no maritime knowledge required. It is an ideal introduction
to the overall collective history of the Roman warship.

Citation: Alyssa Tavernia. Review of Pitassi, Michael, _Roman
Warships_. H-War, H-Net Reviews. September, 2013.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=37746

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

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.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=37077

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.