ATHENS TRANSFORMED, 404-262 BC: From Popular Sovereignty to the Dominion of Wealth

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Phillip E. Harding

Routledge (2015) h/b 186pp £85 (ISBN 9780415973925)

H. has no time for those who argue that Athens’ democratic Assembly was an irrational rabble, or that it needed slaves in order to function as a democracy in the first place. His thesis is that, from the invention of democracy in 508 BC to its demise in 322 BC at the hands of the northern power Macedon, the poor in Athens, through the Assembly, enjoyed ‘unprecedented dominance in both domestic and foreign politics’. Rather like Ober’s analysis in his Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (reviewed elsewhere on this site), he finds much to admire in the dynamism generated by people-power. But from 322 BC, the world of Athens was changed for ever: people-power was at an end, and the rich ruled the roost.

One pedantic quibble: H.’s aim is to ‘try’ to adhere to the Greek spelling…

View original 575 more words

TURIA: A ROMAN WOMAN’S CIVIL WAR

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Josiah Osgood

OUP (2014) p/b 215pp £18.99 (ISBN 9780199832354)

Trying to gain real insight into the character of Roman women can be a challenge: filtered through the lens of their menfolk, Roman women can fade until they are mere shadows. In that light, the Laudatio Turiae—a lengthy, eulogising tombstoneboth charms and intrigue: the woman who earned it from a grief-stricken husband strikes us as remarkable by any standard. O.’s fascinating book takes this Laudatio and sets about bringing this woman (whatever her name actually was) back to life: a woman, we read, who among much else avenged her parents’ murder (!) and offered her husband a divorce because was unable to bear children. O. begins with the painstaking gathering of the fragments. Frustratingly, since none of the fragments mention either the wife’s name or that of her husband, O. elects to refer to the couple without…

View original 259 more words

THE TOWNS OF ROMAN BRITAIN: The contribution of Commercial Archaeology since 1990

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

edited by Michael Fulford and Neil Holbrook

Society for Promotion of Roman Studies (2015) p/b 232pp £28 (ISBN 9780907764410)

This book draws together what archaeologists have learnt about the major towns of Roman Britain following a radical reform of planning law in 1990. The first two chapters explain the developments in planning law which have led to a profusion of developer-funded archaeology. Planning Policy Guidance Note 16 of 1990 (‘PPG 16’) and later enactments require developers, where possible, to preserve the archaeological heritage in situ. If that is not possible, then the developer must arrange for proper investigation and recording of all significant archaeological deposits. Subsequent chapters review the vast mass of material which urban investigations have revealed since 1990.

Dominic Perring has contributed a chapter on London which neatly updates his well known Roman London (Routledge, 1991). He draws upon dendrochronology and much other recent work in addition…

View original 409 more words

THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO ROMAN LAW

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

edited by David Johnston

CUP (2015) p/b 551pp £23.99 (ISBN 9780521719940)

It is rare to read a book on Roman law which is difficult to put down, but this is such a book. The Companion is a collection of twenty essays by scholars, which guide the reader through the history and development of Roman law from the early days of the Republic through the Principate, the Dominate, the Byzantine Empire and beyond.

Parts 1 and 2 (chapters 1-4) set the scene. They provide the background history and explain the amphibious role of the jurists. They identify the sources of Roman law. The most important sources are the Twelve Tables (now lost), the Institutes of Gaius, the Digest and the Institutes of Justinian.

Part 3 (chapters 5-8) deals with the evidence which is available to the modern scholar. In addition to well-known texts, such as Cicero and the jurists…

View original 321 more words

FROM THE SOCRATICS TO THE SOCRATIC SCHOOLS

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

edited by Ugo Zilioli

Routledge (2015) h/b 216pp £85 (ISBN 9781844658435)

The impact of Socrates can be measured by the golden age of philosophy that followed his death: apart from Plato and Aristotle in Athens, schools sprung up in Megara, Elis, Eretria, and Cyrene. This collection of essays, arising from a conference in 2013, turns the spotlight on these Socratic schools and their relationship to Socrates and his pupils, the so-called Socratics.

The first chapter sets the ball rolling by using Plato to identify who the Socratics were and in the process shows that the very concept of a Socratic is hazy at best. This sets the tone for the volume as a whole, which frequently invites the reader to examine their own assumptions. For instance what exactly is a philosophical school? Or indeed what is a Socratic school, given the wide divergence of views entertained by different individuals?

The…

View original 235 more words

Reminder: Prophets and Profits, XVI Unisa Classics Colloquium hosted by the University of South Africa, 29-31 July 2015

Martine de Marre sent this to the Classicists list:

A reminder of the XVI Classics Colloquium to be held from 29 to 31 July 2015 in
Pretoria, South Africa. All enquiries can be directed to Martine De Marre,
dmarrmea​AT​
unisa.ac.za. A final programme will be available closer to the
conference date, but the speakers and paper titles at the conference are as
follows:

• Jon Solomon (Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) ‘Filming the Insights of the
Sightless: The Reemergence of Teiresias in the 1990s’
• Esther Eidinow (Nottingham) ‘Do You Feel Lucky? Explanations of Oracular
Failure’
• Federico Santangelo (Newcastle) ‘Divination and Profit in the Roman
World’
• Folake Onayemi (Ibadan) ‘A Yoruba Adaptation of Greek Drama’
• Reina Pereira (Beira Interior, Portugal) ‘Blasphemy: are prophets
crooks? An analysis of IA 956-958’
• Luca di Campobianco (Johannesburg) ‘On oracles and free will. The case
of Perseus the fated murderer’
• Ralph Anderson (St Andrews) ‘A story of blood, guts and guesswork:
synthetic reasoning in classical Greek divination’
• Claudia Fratini (Unisa) ‘L’Oracolo (1990)/The Oracle (2005): the
katábasis of Odysseus as prophetic action in the narrative of present’
• Szerdy Nagy (KwaZulu-Natal) ‘Prophecy and Paul Kruger: the role of
prophecy in the plot development of Robert Grendon’s epic, Paul Kruger’s Dream’
• Lisa Maurice (Bar Ilan) ‘Screening Immortals in a Secular world’
• Philip Bosman (Unisa) ‘Value-added divination at Dodona’
• Katherine East (Royal Holloway) ‘Deconstructing Divination:
Superstition, Anticlericalism, and Cicero’s De Divinatione in Enlightenment
England’
• Jeffrey Murray (Cape Town) ‘Astrology in Valerius Maximus’
• Alex Nice (Witwatersrand/U Libre de Bruxelles) ‘From Astrology to
Astronomy. C. Sulpicius Galus (cos. 166 BC), Greek wisdom, and Cicero’s De
Republica’
• Richard Evans (Unisa) ‘The non-role of the Didyma oracle in the Ionian
War (500 – 493 BCE)’
• Arturo Sanchez (Complutense U of Madrid) ‘Ancient divination in Eurasia.
The Enarees in Scythian culture’
• David Bullen (Royal Holloway) ‘Putting Words in the Mouth of God: Re-
imagining Dionysus’s Prophecies in 21st Century Interpretations of Euripides’s
Bacchae’
• Andrea Doyle (Johannesburg) ‘Les dames sybilles – Authorizing Voices
and the Voices of Authority in Christine de Pizan’
• Daniel Crosby (Fresno Pacific) ‘“Arrows Fletched From Our Own Wings”:
The Early Church Fathers and the “Delphi of the Mind’
• Olivier Dufault (California) ‘The professionalization of Greek curse
writing in late antiquity‘
• Sophia Taborski (Pittsburgh) ‘Not Just for the Birds: Augury in Archaic
Athenian Vase-Painting’

CfP for electronic journal Rursus

Seen on the Classicists list:

RURSUS, a peer-reviewed electronic journal on « poetics, reception and rewriting of
ancient texts” with an international editorial board, issues a call for papers for its two
next volumes, on the topics “Latin translation of (ancient) greek texts” (n°9) and ”Ancient
parodies and pastiches” (n°10). The first deadline is very close (07/15), and publication is
expected before december. Feel free to submit and encourage advanced PhD students
to do so. All information is available here :
N°9: https://rursus.revues.org/1024
N°10: https://rursus.revues.org/1124
Rursus-home: http://rursus.revues.org/

1177 BC: THE YEAR CIVILISATION COLLAPSED

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Eric H. Cline

Princeton (2014) h/b 237pp £19.95 (ISBN 9780691140986)

In 1177 BC, according to Egyptian records on the walls of the mortuary temple of Ramses III near the Valley of the Kings, a collective that we (not Egyptians) call ‘Sea peoples’ moved down from Syria to attack the Nile Delta, and were duly thrashed. It is this date that C., a distinguished American archaeologist, has chosen to stand for a whole period, around 1200 BC, when the Late Bronze Age world collapsed—a world that from c. 1500 BC had linked Minoans, Mycenaeans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Mitannians (northern Mesopotamia and Syria), Canaanites, Cypriots and Egyptians in what C. calls a ‘globalized, international, vibrant, intersocietal network’.

That surely requires some explanation of what one means by a ‘society’. Even for the palace world of those states, with their extensive diplomatic reach and demand for luxury goods, that seems slightly over-cooked…

View original 457 more words

WOMEN IN ANCIENT ROME

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Paul Chrystal

Amberley (2014) p/b 288pp £9.99 (ISBN 9781445643762)

C. provides a wide ranging and detailed survey of his subject. In dealing with the lives of the women of Rome, he covers material from the foundation of Rome to the end of the Empire. In addition the range of his topics is equally extensive. The chapters cover women in the Familia, in the Public Eye, and Religion. Further chapters deal with marriage, education, medicine and health, sex and sexuality and, finally, the Dark Arts! Throughout, the discussion of these aspects is based upon the vast array of evidence which C. has examined. The 38 illustrations are equally diverse and interesting; there are examples of funerary reliefs, mosaics, wall-paintings busts of hairstyles, and representations of Roman women by artists from the 17th to the 20th century. The notes provide precise references to the evidence used—always helpful for those…

View original 282 more words

RELIGIOUS DISSENT IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE: VIOLENCE IN JUDAEA AT THE TIME OF NERO

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Vasily Rudich

Routledge Monographs (2015) h/b 350pp £100 (ISBN 9780415161060)

As R. says himself in his preface, this is not strictly a history of the Jewish War; it is specifically a discursive exploration of the part probably played by religious dissent in the development of the revolt of AD 66 to 70. One says ‘probably’ because, as R. makes very clear, not only are the sources full of gaps but the main one, Josephus, deliberately plays down or hushes up this aspect so as to appeal more to his Greek and Roman readers. Religious extremism sets its adherents not only against the cultural enemy (Rome) but also against the majority of co-religionists who, for a quiet life, are happy to coexist with the Romans provided they leave them alone to practise their faith, which mostly they do; the fanatics, on the other hand, will murder their own people with…

View original 565 more words