Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Catherine Keane

OUP (2015) h/b 251pp £47.99 (ISBN 9780199981892)

In the very first sentence of the first satire (semper ego auditor tantum?), Juvenal uses a rhetorical question with exaggeration and ellipse to establish the immediate impression of an angry author. This well-known and much discussed angry persona is just the beginning of the story. Satire is not always in the heroic mode attributed to Lucilius driving his chariot across the plain (1.19-20). There is a quieter Juvenal: in Book 3 an ironist, Book 4 an unruffled and amused onlooker, and finally a merciless cynic in Book 5.

K.  pays due attention to ancient discussions of emotion such as Seneca’s de ira and de tranquillitate while noting Juvenal’s eclectic and creative use of other literature. K. takes the reader systematically through the 16 satires but her analysis of what Juvenal is doing is always more subtle and nuanced…

View original 270 more words

THE ANIMAL PART: Human & other Animals in the Poetic Imagination

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By M. Payne

Chicago (2015) p/b 164pp £17.50 (ISBN 9780226272320)

 The Animal Part, first published in 2010, is part of classicists’ growing commitment to ‘post-humanism’, a body of theory that critiques understandings of culture and the world which place human beings at their centre without giving due consideration to animals and the environment.

In the book’s introduction, P. includes two examples of personal experiences that have influenced his commitment to this movement: first, he describes a sighting of a beaver during a camping trip to Michigan in July 2006, before recalling a childhood memory of being unable to kill a fox during a shooting trip on his grandfather’s farm after he had locked eyes with the animal and perceived a form of understanding between himself and the creature. With detours through Jacques Derrida and David Foster Wallace, what follows is a powerful and very individual exploration of how…

View original 237 more words

THE ROMAN HANNIBAL: Remembering the Enemy in Silius Italicus’ Punica

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Claire Stocks

Liverpool University Press (2014) h/b 276pp £71.87 (ISBN 9781781380284)

Much has been done in the past half-century, says S., to rehabilitate Silius, and indeed a hero called Spaltenstein has published a Commentary (in three volumes) on the entire opus—17 Books, 12,000 lines, the longest poem in Latin: even the Dindorfs must have raised a ghostly cheer. As the title implies, S.’s work, which started as a PhD thesis at Cambridge, is ‘about Hannibal as he exists in Rome’s literature, the foreign foe in recognisable form: this is the Hannibal that Rome built’. The eleven chapters include ‘Before Silius: the Creation of the Roman Hannibal’ (including Polybius, Cicero, and Cornelius Nepos); ‘Silius’ Influences’ (Livy comes into his own); ‘Epic Models’ (Ennius, dealt with necessarily in cursory fashion, Homer, and—obviously—Virgil), ‘Hannibal’s decline after Cannae’, including ‘Succumbing to luxury’, ‘The “Lightning Bolts” of War’ (enter Scipio), and ‘The Man…

View original 255 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

Edited by P.J. Finglass and Adrian Kelly

CUP (2015) h/b 211pp £69.99 (ISBN 9781107645660)

It has been a good half century or so for Stesichorus: Helen, famously so infuriated by his badmouthing that she blinded him until he retracted everything in his Palinode, has evidently been in a good mood. The 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s saw a number of important papyrus finds, in most cases in time for Denys Page to give them a healthy going-over for inclusion in Poetae Melici Graeci. That allowed us to see, for instance, the sensitivity with which Stesichorus told of Geryon confronted by Heracles, humanising the monster and evoking genuine sympathy. The 2010s are now proving a good decade as well, with a new edition in 2014 by Finglass and Davies (intr. and text by Finglass, contributions by Davies to the comm.) and now this fine collection, springing from an Oxford…

View original 654 more words

THE FRONTIERS OF ANCIENT SCIENCE: Essays in honour of Heinrich von Staden

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

Edited by Brook Holmes and Klaus-Dietrich Fischer

De Gruyter (2015) h/b 754pp £97.99 (ISBN 9783110333923)

This is a big heavy book (1.4 Kg) containing essays written in honour of a fine scholar of Ancient Medicine and Science. The nature of the enterprise means that there is no overall theme—the topics are picked by the authors, and the essays listed in alphabetical order of the authors. There are 29 of them, on average 20 pages long, 22 in English, and the remainder with an abstract in English.

Clearly even a brief review of each contribution is not practical. To assist the possible buyer, here follows a list of the authors, with the topic of their essay (not usually the title) and occasional brief comments.
Andorlini: the medicinal use of papyrus (ref. esp. Soranus.)
Asper: Early Greek texts and Near Eastern Influence. Unusually he considers Greek, Egyptian and Mesopotamian simultaneously. Most writers…

View original 611 more words

AFTER THE NEW TESTAMENT: A Reader in Early Christianity 100-300 CE

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Bart D. Ehrman

OUP (2nd edn. 2015) p/b £35.09 572pp (ISBN 9780195398922)

This book provides an excellent introduction to the general reader wishing to understand the development of early Christianity between the years AD 100—300, the years in which it was working out doctrines, liturgical practices and the boundaries of its canon of sacred texts in a pagan world, before the accession of Constantine and the subsequent Christianisation of the whole Roman empire in the fourth century. Written in a lucid style, uncluttered by footnotes (other than acknowledgements of translations/biblical references) and with clear explanation of all technical terms, the book’s strength is undoubtedly its focus on a) the diversity and variety within early Christianity (or should we speak of Christianities?), b) changes and developments over time within this period, and c) the doctrinal debates which raged within the first few centuries of Christian history, none of which…

View original 712 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Peter Salway

OUP (2nd edn, 2015) p/b 122pp £7.99 (ISBN 9780198712169)

This book is a concise, clear and readable history of Roman Britain across four centuries. It is ideal for the general reader, including one who comes to the subject with no previous knowledge.

The book is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 (‘The beginnings of British history’) covers the Iron Age and Caesar’s invasions. Chapter 2 (‘The Roman conquest’) takes the reader from Claudius’ invasion in AD 43 through to the late third century. This is the longest chapter. It includes Boudicca’s revolt; the subsequent reconstruction of the province; the Hadrianic revival; the construction of the Antonine Wall followed by the retreat from Scotland; the reign of Severus and the division of Britain into separate provinces by his successors; the curious saga of the Gallic Empire. The chapter also covers social issues, such as urban development, life…

View original 378 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Thomas Van Nortwick
Michigan (2015) h/b 160pp £56.95 (ISBN 9780472119561)

Written in Sophocles’ ninth decade (V.N. places Electra close to 410 BC), Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus are far from being the mellow reflections of old age. Instead, they are contentious and innovative, redefining the rules of Greek tragedy, reimagining the role of the tragic hero and even re-evaluating the place of drama within Athenian society.

This short, clear and elegantly-written study considers how ‘the Sophoclean tragic hero—lonely, defiant, and self-destructive—undergoes a crucial transformation in the last three plays’. Assuming little technical knowledge, V.N. devotes a chapter to each play, outlining how the tragedy unfolds, developing cogent arguments illustrated with quotations in his own English translations (where appropriate including the original Greek, transliterated and in parentheses), and always taking care to set the drama firmly within the context of late-5th C BC society and beliefs.


View original 269 more words

OVID: THE OFFENSE OF LOVE Ars Amatoria, Remedia Amoris, and Tristia 2

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Julia Dyson Hejduk

Wisconsin (2014) p/b 268pp £15.95 (ISBN 9780299302047)

H.’s translation with commentary, which is the first to include both the cause of Ovid’s ‘offence’ and his ‘defence’ of his writings, is aimed at readers who have no classical knowledge. As a result, a detailed introduction is included, covering aspects such as metre, scansion and literature in the ancient world. It also includes an exploration of Ovid’s use of metaphor, e.g. the attention a lover must pay to their appearance as a metaphor for the attention an author must pay to their work of art; and of analogy, e.g. comparing the pursuit of love to chariot-racing or warfare. A list of examples of Ovid’s use of the art of love to resemble that of war, agriculture, sailing, hunting, sports, religion etc. is included.

The reasons behind Ovid’s exile are explored along with the possible role of Tiberius in…

View original 90 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Walter Watson

Chicago (2015) p/b 304pp £29 (ISBN 9780226875088)

This very engaging work sets out to save a whole treasure chest of priceless gems from an eternity in scholarly limbo, the chest being the lost second book of Aristotle’s Poetics. For some time now scholars have argued that a tenth century manuscript known as Tractatus Coislinianus summarizes this lost book, but up to now they have failed to establish the point conclusively. W. now hopes to succeed where philology on its own had not by making a philosophical case. His aim is to convince people that they will only fully appreciate the Poetics by accepting all of the Tractatus material as genuine Aristotle rather than, as one sceptic put it, no small amount of silly and extraneous material jumbled together with what is truly Aristotelian.

There is a deliberate intention to engage the general reader as much as…

View original 244 more words