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 ( 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 ( 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 (

[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 ( .]

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 ( on the BMCR blog