CJ~Online 2015.05.10 Polt on Stevens, Silence in Catullus

CJ-Online ~ 2015.05.10

Silence in Catullus. By Benjamin Eldon Stevens. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013. Pp. x + 338. Paper, $34.95. ISBN: 978-0-299-29664-3.

Reviewed by Christopher B. Polt, University of South Florida (cpolt)

"Silence" is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Catullus’ poetry, where even the beds shout and the doors gossip, but Benjamin Stevens’ Silence in Catullus suggests that the gaps in Catullan speech not only are significant but constitute a "poetics of silence" that reveals how much humans depend on the constant chatter of language for their very existence. Stevens’ readings are frequently insightful, drawing innovative connections between familiar poems and those either less studied (e.g. the Gellius cycle) or too often viewed in isolation from the rest of the corpus (e.g. the poems on the brother’s death). The book’s style is somewhat convoluted and the desultory way Stevens moves between relevant theoretical work can at times be daunting, but patient readers will find much of value and interest in Stevens’ work, which contributes to many ongoing discussions in Catullan studies. […]

καὶ τὰ λοιπά​:

15.05.11 Greek Mythologies: Antiquity and Surrealism

BMCR 2015.05.41 Zeiner-Carmichael on Whitton, Pliny the Younger: Epistles, Book II

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.05.41

Christopher Whitton, Pliny the Younger: Epistles, Book II. Cambridge Greek and Latin classics. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Pp. xiii, 328. ISBN 9780521187275. $34.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael, College of Charleston, SC (carmichaeln​ AT ​

Christopher Whitton’s commentary on Pliny’s Epistles 2 reinforces the growing scholarly tendency to read the Epistles in sequence and to appreciate individual books as distinct literary units (e.g., Whitton 2010; Gibson and Morello 2012). Whitton’s volume rejects previous anthologizing approaches, instead focusing on the twenty letters of Epistles 2, the shortest book of the collection. As stated in the Preface, the volume aims to “help readers construe Pliny’s Latin, to situate his work in a historical (and scholarly) context and to offer a literary interpretation” (p. vii). Whitton’s chief contribution lies in the third goal, whereby attention to Pliny’s structural engineering provides readers an opportunity to appreciate fully the artistry of Book 2and, as well, the entire corpus of Epistles. The return of individual letters to their books and to the whole collection, Whitton notes, “is not only to pay due respect to the integrity of an aesthetically arranged work of art,​ ​
it is essential to an appreciation of it” (pp. 12-13). Whitton’s volume admirably achieves this objective, offering a welcome resource for students and scholars alike, both of whom will benefit from the author’s philological expertise and interpretative insight.​ […]

​καὶ τὰ λοιπά:
BMCR 2015.05.41 (http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/05/20150541.html) on the BMCR blog

Seen on various lists ~ Digital Classicist London seminar: webcast link

From Gabriel Bodard:

Dear colleagues,

With apologies for cross-posting: for the first time this year, the Digital Classicist London seminars will be live-cast via the Web, so colleagues who are unable to make it to the events themselves at 16:30 (BST) on a Friday afternoon, can watch and listen along at the DCLS YouTube channel at:


or watch the edited video which will appear in the same page a few days later.

For those who need a reminder, the seminars run every Friday afternoon in June – August in the Institute for Classical Studies, and this year’s programme can be found at:


I hope to see many of you there, in person or via the network!

BMCR 2015.05.42 Dyck on Gelzer, Cicero: ein biographischer Versuch. 2.

From BMCR:

Matthias Gelzer, Cicero: ein biographischer Versuch. 2., erweiterte Auflage mit einer forschungsgeschichtlichen Einleitung und einer Ergänzungsbibliographie von Werner Riess (first published 1969). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014. Pp. xxvii, 407. ISBN 9783515099035. €39.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Andrew R. Dyck, Los Angeles (jmf_dyck​ AT ​

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

The Foreword explains that this is the third of Gelzer’s biographies to be issued in a new edition, the biographies of Pompey (2005, ed. E. Herrmann-Otto) and Caesar (2008, ed. E. Baltrusch) having preceded. The Intoduction places Gelzer within the history of scholarship, beginning with a biographical sketch from his birth as son of a Protestant pastor in Liestal, Switzerland, his studies in Basel and Leipzig, where he produced a dissertation on Byzantine administration in Egypt (1907), and Habilitation in Freiburg with the pioneering study of the Roman nobility.1 (#n1) There followed his call to Greifswald and acceptance of German citizenship in 1915, his brief tenure of a professorship in Strasbourg prior to the end of the Great War, and his call to Frankfurt/M. (1919), where he taught until retirement in 1955 and died in 1974.

Biography is a genre of which readers (and therefore publishers) are fond, whereas historians are usually not keen on writing about the lives of individuals. Gelzer’s shift to biography thus calls for explanation. Riess emphasizes that he made the move under the influence of the Pauly-Wissowa Realenzyklopädie, for which he wrote a series of important articles (p.XI). Christ, on the other hand, connects it with the political and intellectual caesura in Germany in the aftermath of the Great War.2 (#n2) The change of genre conceals, however, a continuing interest in the social dimension. Thus Gelzer insists that such figures as Lucullus and Brutus need to be seen against the background of the noble families from which they sprang.​ […]​

καὶ τὰ λοιπά:

BMCR 2015.05.42 (http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/05/20150542.html) on the BMCR blog

BMCR 2015.05.44 Ruppel on Morwood, Anderson, A Little Greek Reader

James Morwood, Stephen Anderson, A Little Greek Reader. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xvii, 293. ISBN 9780199311729. $19.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Antonia Ruppel, Cornell University (antonia.ruppel)

Preview (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/a-little-greek-reader-9780199311729)

[A Little Greek Reader is based on Mary C. English and Georgia L. Irby's A Little Latin Reader. (BMCR review at 2012.09.11 (http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-09-11.html) .]

We learn ancient languages so that we may read texts written in them; and for the most part, these texts will be literary: polished, crafted, complex, meant to impress and please their readers, often having survived only because of just those qualities. The obvious result of this is the lack of ancient language materials suitable for beginners, and while textbook authors have for a long time been writing their own practice sentences, the appeal of Caecilius est in horto and its word order will only take us so far.

This pedagogical desideratum has led to introductory textbooks such as Athenaze or JACT’s Reading Greek and Reading Latin, which, rather than relying on example sentences, impart new grammar and vocabulary through continuous stories written by the authors, or Learn to Read Latin and later, Learn to Read Greek, which offers the usual kinds of practice sentence written by the authors themselves, but then adds a large choice of well-annotated original text passages more or less from Chapter 1. The textbooks we have available thus fit a variety of teaching styles, be they motivated by the desire to get through the grammatical material as quickly as possible (at the risk of a rather dry first few weeks or months of instruction), or by the desire to keep the reason why we are learning classical languages right in front of student eyes the entire time (even though that may initially slow things down and result in large and heavy teaching materials: Learn to Read Greek, for example​, ​
comes in four big volumes).


BMCR 2015.05.44 (http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/05/20150544.html) on the BMCR blog


Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary by Susan A. Stephens

OUP (2015) p/b 324pp £18.99 (ISBN 9780199783045)

Callimachus of Cyrene, a poet who worked in Alexandria and whose floruit was in the 3rd century BC, was also much more than a poet (Peter Parsons’s excellent article on him in The Oxford Classical Dictionary amply demonstrates his versatility). There have been full-scale commentaries on individual hymns, but this is the first anglophone effort in recent times to cover all six of them, and S. has performed a difficult task in an admirable way. The Introduction is followed by the text (with apparatus criticus) and translation—rather annoyingly following the text, rather than on facing pages—and commentary; there is also an introduction to each of the hymns, where, inter alia, each hymn’s relation to the Ptolemies (a highly important topic) is covered.

The Introduction includes a welcome section on the construction…

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BMCR 2015.06.02 Han on Emilsson, Strange, Plotinus, Ennead VI.4 and VI.5

Eyjólfur K. Emilsson, Steven K. Strange, Plotinus, Ennead VI.4 and VI.5: On the Presence of Being, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole. The Enneads of Plotinus with philosophical commentaries. Las Vegas; Zurich; Athens: Parmenides Publishing, 2015. Pp. 295. ISBN 9781930972346. $37.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Sui Han, Beijing (suihanhoudiao)

This new English translation of, and commentary on, Plotinus, Ennead VI.4-5, the joint achievement of the Plotinian scholars Eyjólfur K. Emilsson and Steven K. Strange, combines philological rigor with philosophical insight. An introduction and a synopsis help the readers on their way. As the title, On the Presence of Being, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole, indicates, Plotinus here explores the question of how intelligible being remains the same and whole, and the participation of the dispersed bodies in it does not render it divided. His ingenious solution to this problem, raised in Parmenides 131b-c, is that the participation of the sensible in the intelligible does not amount to the spatio- temporal presence of the intelligible in the sensible realm. In fact, the intelligible realm, where all individuals together form one unity, is always present to itself as a whole at its own level; the sensible, when it approaches this eternal presence, gives the impression of fragmentation only because it cannot receive all of the intelligible. Despite the clear formulation of this main thesis, some side issues in these two treatises are less lucid and cause more difficulties to their interpreters. In their introduction and commentary, Emilsson and Strange outline these controversial problems too, such as the doctrine of sense-perception in VI.4.6 (pp. 30, 151), the question of who we are in VI.4.14 and 16 (pp. 30, 195-200, 208) and the topic of the soul-trace in VI.4.15 (pp. 150-1).

​More: BMCR 2015.06.02 (http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/06/20150602.html) on the BMCR blog​

ARTIFACT & ARTIFICE: Classical Archaeology and the Ancient Historian

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Jonathan M. Hall

Chicago (2014) p/b 258pp £31.50 (ISBN 9780226096988)

H. sets out in this excellent collection of nine case studies (or cautionary tales, as he dubs them) to persuade the reader that no one approach to the study of classical Greece and Rome can claim ascendancy over another. Textual and the material sources cannot separately be expected to answer conclusively any of the questions which we may want to ask about the ancient world, and each has significant methodological issues which need to be addressed before major claims to conclusive knowledge are to be made. The traditional divisions of academic structure can sometimes hinder the progress towards such conclusions. H. has done his best in this book, based on a series of lectures he regularly gives at the University of Chicago called ‘Archaeology and the Ancient Historian’, to encourage fruitful dialogue and interdisciplinary approaches.

The Introduction outlines the…

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ROMAN REFLECTIONS: Iron Age to Viking Age in Northern Europe

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Klavs Randsborg

Bloomsbury Academic (2015) h/b 192pp £44.99 (ISBN: 9781472579539)

This short volume consists of five essays that shed new light on a selection of topics related to Iron Age and Viking Age Northern Europe. The studies invite debate about the relationship between the Romans and their northern neighbours through an interdisciplinary look at a choice of open arguments: the possible interpretations of Bog Bodies, the question of the culture and location of the Cimbri, the value and reliability of the ethnographical information in Tacitus’ Germania, the unclear provenance of northern place and peoples’ names, and the origins and advance of the Danes.

R. is at his most convincing when he analyses the latest archaeological evidence with the support of classical texts to open new paths for investigation. For example, his hypothesis of the bog bodies as killed hostages is not only supported with a wealth of evidence…

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Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Anthony A. Barrett

Routledge (2015) h/b 384pp £105 (ISBN 9780415658447)

This book forms part of the Routledge series ‘Roman Imperial Biographies’. It is a second edition, published with a slightly revised subtitle: Abuse of Power (rather than Corruption of Power). The text has been revised by its author and the new edition takes into account scholarship published since the first edition appeared in 1989. The structure is largely unchanged. Essentially it is chronological, with a focus mainly on the succession from Tiberius and the years of Caligula’s short reign as Roman emperor (AD 37-41).

The book is aimed at the professional scholar as well as the intelligent general reader. On this spectrum, I would say that the book is positioned more towards the scholarly end. It seems that the author might not himself have chosen the biographical format, which ‘imposes undeniable limitations on the serious study of any…

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