Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Renato Oniga, ed. and trans. by Norma Schifano

OUP (2014) 345pp £24.99 (ISBN 9780198702863)

How to bring together Chomsky and Latin? The concept of this book (a translation, incorporating minor changes, by Norma Schifano of Renato Oniga’s Il Latino: Breve introduzione linguistica [Milano: FrancoAngeli, 2004]) is an ambitious and laudable one: to bring modern linguistic theory to bear on Latin, and to do so in a way that is accessible to students brought up on traditional grammars and unfamiliar with twentieth- and twenty-first-century approaches to linguistic analysis, especially the generative tradition of which Chomsky has been the most notable proponent.

In three sections, this book considers the phonology (chapters 2 to 5), morphology (chapters 6 to 16, covering both inflection and derivation), and syntax of Latin (chapters 17 to 28), intentionally taking its order of treatment and scope from that of traditional grammars but describing them by means of modern…

View original 557 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By A.W. Price

OUP (2015) p/b 356pp £22.50 ISBN 9780198709350

This is a book which focuses almost entirely on Plato and Aristotle, and covers a wide range of material from the two philosophers, seeking to point the similarities and the differences, as well as including appraisals of a number of modern commentators. P. offers a balanced and non-partisan account. He adduces an impressive array of textual material, offering clear analyses. His discussion is well structured, so that by the end the reader has a clear picture of this complex and multilayered subject.

The book is divided into four sections, in each of which Plato’s thoughts are presented first, followed by those of Aristotle. The sections deal with (A) eudaimonia (happiness); (B) virtue; (C) phronêsis (practical reasoning); and (D) acrasia (weakness). There is a full bibliography, an index locorum, an index nominum and a general subject index.

Section A demonstrates…

View original 763 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

translated by David R. Slavitt.

Wisconsin (2014) p/b 184pp £10.50 (ISBN 978029854 8)

In his introduction to The Penguin Book of Modern Verse Translation, George Steiner refers to Borges’ story of a man toiling his life away translating Don Quixote into the original Spanish. We all know that complete translation is an impossibility, and that a mode of expression as unique as a poem just adds to the difficulties. This is why the reader needs to know what the translator is trying to achieve with his or her approximation.

Slavitt has no doubt about his job, and reveals in his brief notes the additions, subtractions and changes he made ‘to get to what I believe Horace wrote’: so no historical and literary notes to align the English with the Latin. What readers get are the poems on the page, and no more, to render an Horatian experience. He hopes…

View original 403 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By M.R. Wright

Acumen Press (2009) p/b 244pp £19.99 (ISBN 9781844651832)

(Online publication [2013] ISBN: 9781844654390)

This volume offers a ‘concise and accessible introduction to ancient Greek philosophy…aimed at beginning students of classical studies and philosophy who wish to find their bearings in what can seem a complex maze of names and schools’. An introductory chapter , ‘Mapping the territory’, sets the time frame chronologically, from the sixth to the first centuries BCE, and outlines the social and political background against which philosophical thinking emerged, with brief biographies of significant thinkers. Thereafter W. chooses to abandon a chronological in favour of a thematic approach. Chapter 2, ‘Language, logic and literary form’ has sections on prose as opposed to poetry as a vehicle for philosophy; dialectic and dialogue (with some discussion of the so-called Socratic question); eristic; rhetoric; Platonic myth; and philosophy as expounded in Latin. The remaining chapters deal…

View original 315 more words


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

Edited by P.J. Parsons, H. Maehler, F. Maltomini

De Gruyter (2015) h/b 153pp (incl. 7 plates) £109.95 (ISBN 9783110354522)

For those with a special interest in the tradition of Greek epigram or in the continuing and important developments in papyrology, this is a major new contribution to our knowledge. The material covered in the fragmentary papyrus—twenty or more pieces originally torn up to construct a mummy-mask—consists of just the first lines of 226 epigrams written in Greek during the Hellenistic period (probable date the late third century BC). Only one of the lines can be attributed with any confidence to a named poet—Asclepiades. All three editors acknowledge their debt to the multispectral imagining team of Brigham Young University, which has greatly aided the decipherment of the original fragments; colour scans of these will eventually be accessible on the website of Österreichische Nationalbibliotek (ÖNB), which owns the papyrus.

P.’s Introduction covers…

View original 372 more words

Pondering Lead Sarcophagi and Codices … hmmmm

Okay … I’ve been forcefully woken from my blog slumber by some images that initially seemed just a little suspicious to me, but might eventually set alarm bells off in my head. Folks who follow me on twitter (@rogueclassicist) might be aware that earlier today I was pondering thusly: first, I noted this sarcophagus at the San Antonio Museum of Art (and @MariolaRub posted the photo … the official page says it is “probably from Tyre”):

… had a panel or two that were remarkably similar to an item coming to auction (from a Florida private collection):


… then @keftiugal noted a lead coffin at the UPenn Museum, with similar panels “Provenience: Lebanon Tyre):

… and then I came across this piece, in very high relief and with similar panels, at J. Bagot:


  • via: J.BAGOT Arqueología – Ancient Art (go there for other views; this one is said to come from the necropolis of Tyre and was “decatalogued” by the Chrysler Museum … hmmm, I wonder why they decatalogued it)

Then there were actually two (not one, as I previously mentioned on twitter) examples in McCann, Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, specifically a Lead Sarcophagus of the Columnar Type (number 25; from Tyre) and a similarly described one which follows (number 26; not sure where from).

Last (for now), but not least, there is one at the-saleroom (from a private NY collection):


As I saw more and more of this image, I openly speculated that we must be dealing with some sort of factory situation and then the conspiracy portion of my brain wondered whether that factory was ancient or modern.  Then that portion of my brain suggested I focus on the ‘medusa’ image from the liveauctioneers piece (which is similar to all the others, but a bit more visible:



Does this image not bear a certain resemblance to an image from another controversy from a few years ago, namely, the Jordan LEAD codices? Specifically, this image:


I borrowed that from Tom Verenna’s post from the time, back when we were all thinking the image was Apollo. [in case you need a refresher on the Lead Codices, see: Lead Codices – Once More into the ‘Reach’ along with the links provided therein]

So now I’m wondering … were the sarcophagi and the codex image the product of the same stamp? They have the same ‘right’ eye indentation and square jaw … the same ‘bird’ over the right eye, etc.. Lots of things here to make you go hmmmmmm, no?

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


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


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