Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Jesko Fildhuth, Das Byzantinische Priene: Stadt und Umland. Archäologische Forschungen, 37 (Priene 5). Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2017. Pp. xiii, 266; 4 p. of plates. ISBN 9783954902408. €78,00.

Reviewed by Benjamin Anderson, Cornell University (bwa32@cornell.edu)

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Table of Contents

Perched on the southern slopes of Mount Mykale and overlooking the delta plain of the Maeander River, Priene is an urban (re-)foundation of the fourth century BC. The late nineteenth-century excavations led by Theodor Wiegand revealed the regular grid that has become a textbook example of Hellenistic city planning. If the Roman and Turkish periods remain little studied, Jesko Fildhuth's volume provides a thorough account of Byzantine Priene (ca. 400-1300 AD), demonstrating the site's relevance to broader issues in the medieval archaeology of Anatolia.

The study is divided into three main sections, of which the first provides a comprehensive overview of the textual sources (including a substantial dossier regarding middle Byzantine land use), the second addresses the urban core, and the third treats the surrounding countryside. Fildhuth's equal attention to rural and urban landscapes is unique among monographic treatments of Byzantine cities.

The presentation of the city is based on fieldwork (including targeted excavation) conducted by the author. Public buildings include the sacred (alongside the synagogue and five churches already known, four churches are documented here for the first time) and the secular (including, in addition to agora and city walls, the "bishop's residence" adjacent to, and communicating with, the central church). The so-called "Byzantine castle" carved out of the agora is shown to be early Turkish. Domestic complexes, within and on top of the old insulae, receive a separate section ("weitere Baustrukturen im Stadtgebiet"), as do the two necropoleis. The acropolis is treated separately from the lower city; while the fortifications have been studied before, Fildhuth demonstrates that the interior was also densely built.

As the silting up of the delta plain hinders archaeological study, "Umland" means in practice the slopes of Mykale, accessed here both through autopsy and the extensive survey directed by Hans Lohmann.1 Sites are presented according to a mixed emic-etic typology, which includes farmsteads, settlements both unfortified (komai or choria) and fortified (kastra), defensive structures (kastra again, or phrouria), and sacral buildings (churches and monasteries). Of particular interest is the hypothetical reconstruction of the Byzantine road network, which leads into synthetic treatments of each of the three valleys to the west of Priene. These accounts, which are enriched by Fildhuth's sensitive and precise accounts of the physical topography, reward close reading.

On the basis of such diverse materials, Fildhuth divides the history of Byzantine Priene into three periods. In the first, which embraces the fifth through the seventh centuries, the construction of the bishop's residence creates a new city center, while an increase in the number of individual farmsteads indicates intensified agricultural production. In the second period, from the late seventh century to ca. 1100, Fildhuth detects a decline in the significance of the urban core, which he expresses sometimes in drastic terms (e.g., p. 147, "Die zweite Phase ist gekennzeichnet vom Abbruch der Nutzung aller Altbauten in der Innenstadt"), sometimes more moderately (e.g., at p. 87, continued use of the lower city cannot be ruled out). This is accompanied by the establishment of fortified settlements (especially the acropolis of Priene and the site known as Fındıklı Kale), abandonment of farmhouses, and construction of a "sacral infrastructure" in the countryside, with the monasteries assuming a significant role as landholders. The third period, which includes the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, is characterized by the further development of this infrastructure, emergence of smaller unfortified settlements in the countryside, and resettlement of portions of the urban core.

The greatest strength of this volume, beyond provision of a reliable guide to all evidence relating to a single Byzantine city, is the lucid presentation of the rural settlement pattern in the middle Byzantine period. Of particular note is Fildhuth's reconstruction of a "Ringstrasse" linking the acropolis of Priene to the three monasteries that stand, at roughly equal elevations, above each of the three valleys to the west. The consistent placement is striking, especially as the monasteries may well have owned the agricultural lands below. "Von den Klöstern aus wären somit auch die Aktivitäten der Bauern kontrolliert worden, gleichzeitig hätten die Anlagen den monastichen Landbesitz markiert" (110). The topic could be explored further through comparison of the archaeological remains on Mykale with the textual evidence for medieval land use, which relates primarily to the delta plain.

Fildhuth's proposed periodization is so clear-cut as to invite push-back—here three potential ambiguities may be noted. First, the shift of the urban center from the agora to the bishop's residence. This requires dismissal of numismatic evidence for continued use of the prytaneion into the seventh century; Fildhuth simply assumes that its function must have changed (pp. 52, 53, 86). One might as easily argue for the emergence of two distinct centers, especially as the "Kranz" (145) of settlement that Fildhuth traces around the bishop's residence embraces the agora as well.

Second, the break in the settlement of the lower city. This rests in part on a general absence of evidence (e.g., at p. 64, "keine Hinweise auf eine Nutzung"), and in part on an assumption that absence of coins means absence of settlement (e.g., at p. 72)—whereby the latter circumstance might rather indicate a decline in monetization.2 Without a reliable chronology of the local coarse wares—a fundamental constraint on interpretation addressed in a footnote (pp. 6-7 fn. 44) —it seems wiser to withhold judgment on the early medieval occupation of the lower city.

Third, the dating of the fortified settlements on the acropolis of Priene and at Fındıklı Kale. Fildhuth notes ceramic evidence for fifth-century occupation of both sites, but relies on historical circumstances (Arab invasions) to postdate the establishment of concentrated settlements into the late seventh and eighth centuries (see p. 88 on the acropolis; and p. 98, on Fındıklı Kale: "Die frühbyzantinische Keramik weist nach den vorläufigen Ergebnissen des Surveys auf eine Nutzung vom 5. bis 7. Jh., doch ist aus historischen Gründen die Errichtung der befestigten Siedlung vor den arabischen Einfällen in Kleinasien nicht vorstellbar [!] und fällt somit frühestens in die zweite Hälfte des 7. Jhs..."). It is odd for an archaeologist to deny the ability of archaeological evidence to complicate a received historical narrative.3

Richly illustrated and well produced, this volume is a worthy contribution to the medieval archaeology of Anatolia. If the periodization that Fildhuth proposes is perhaps too rigid, his joint presentation of urban and rural developments is salutary and should stimulate further study. His book also contains at least one treasure buried in a footnote—the first Aksumite coin discovered in Asia Minor (p. 39, fn. 281).


1.   See now Hans Lohmann, Georg Kalaitzoglou, and Gundula Lüdorf, eds., Forschungen in der Mykale I,1: Survey in der Mykale (Dilek Daglan / Aydin) 2001-2009. Asia Minor Studien 77 (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt, 2017). Fildhuth's interpretations of sites (e.g., at pp. 103, 119, 121, and 127) sometimes diverge from those of the investigators.
2.   Cécile Morrisson, "Coins," in Philipp Niewöhner, ed., The Archaeology of Byzantine Anatolia: From the End of Late Antiquity Until the Coming of the Turks (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), here at 76.
3.   Equally peculiar is Fildhuth's use of the 500 cavalry of Πρίνη (Prine), mentioned in a tenth-century source, to date a long-gone set of walls to the south of the city mentioned in passing by Wiegand (pp. 65 and 87). This conjecture even finds its way onto the phase plan (Falttafel 2b). But Πρίνη may have been in Pontos: John F. Haldon, "Theory and Practice in 10th-Century Military Administration," Travaux et Mémoires 13 (2000): 201-352, here at 251-52, fn. 50.

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Alessandro Naso (ed.), Etruscology (2 vols.). Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. xxiv, 1844. ISBN 9781934078488. €359,95.

Reviewed by Jean MacIntosh Turfa, University of Pennsylvania Museum (jturfa@sas.upenn.edu)

Version at BMCR home site


A recent increase in English-language publications should render Etruscans much more accessible to—and dare we hope, respected by —Anglophone scholars and students. This much-anticipated reference work, long in preparation, has been preceded by later projects, each aimed at a slightly different readership. The Etruscan World (J.M. Turfa ed., Routledge, 2013)1 is meant to cover major topics for students and laymen as well as archaeologists. A Companion to the Etruscans (eds. Sinclair Bell and Alexandra A. Carpino, Wiley Blackwell, 2016) really is a companion, offering additional background and analysis of key issues. The peoples of ancient Italy (eds. Gary D. Farney and Guy J. Bradley, DeGruyter, 2018) surveys the diverse cultures (full disclosure: I wrote the chapter on "The Etruscans"). For those willing to read Italian, fine coverage may be found in the late Giovannangelo Camporeale's Gli Etruschi (3rd ed., Torino: UTET, 2011) and Gilda Bartoloni's Introduzione all'Etruscologia (Milan: Hoepli, 2011). All these and Naso's Etruscology meld archaeological evidence with that of Classical literature, the only way to achieve a balanced image of the Etruscans, absent their own literature. The example was set by Sybille Haynes's Etruscan Civilization (Getty, 2000), still the best (and safest) general book for students and laymen. All descend from Massimo Pallottino's Etruscologia, originally published in 1942, and still reprinted (Hoepli, 2016).

Study of the Etruscans has grown quite sophisticated; Naso's compendium features 90 chapters by 74 authors, mostly senior scholars. Eighteen authors have written two or more chapters; a few also wrote for Companion (six) or Etruscan World (nine), each offering a different aspect of their signature topic, or a different topic entirely. The text is aimed at Etruscan scholars and classicists, but will be useful to historians and art historians on post-graduate and professional levels. There is much material to engage lay readers and undergraduate students but they will find many chapters challenging due to the terminology of Italic archaeology, which is often not defined.

Volume 1 (31 chapters, 534 pages) surveys history of the discipline, methods and major fields of enquiry, ranging from the origins issue through DNA, language, trade, politics, society, sports, warfare, seafaring, metallurgy, coinage, weights and measures, music and textiles/clothing.

Volume 2 (58 chapters, 1307 pages) begins with historical topics (urbanization, Near Eastern influences, hellenization, romanization and the Etruscan legacy). The remainder reiterates a set of topics according to each historical period: Early Iron Age (10th century–730 BCE); Orientalizing (730-580 BCE); Archaic and Classical (580-450 BCE); Late Classical and Hellenistic (450-250 BCE); "Etruria and Rome" (250-89 BCE). Within each period are discussions of art, handicrafts (note the differentiation), society, ritual and cults, economy and "external relationships." Analytical discussion and new evidence seem more abundant for the early periods. Final sections describe "Topography of Etruria" and "Etruscans beyond Etruria" (Italy, Europe, Mediterranean basin). Readers often need to consult multiple chapters for a given topic, place or phenomenon, but will likely find new or different insights this way.

Indices record literary references and inscriptions (pp. 1769-1782), geographical and personal names (pp. 1783-1822), and authors' emails (pp. 1761-1766).

Giuseppe Della Fina's "History of Etruscology" (pp. 53-67) is an elegant, erudite survey "told within the broader framework of the history of archaeology and – even more broadly – of culture" (p. 53).

Many chapters emphasize interpretations that would have been impossible in past decades, viewing the Etruscans as a whole people, not the aliens caricatured in surviving literature. Their cosmopolitan character is revealed in complex social organization, in readiness to embrace and build upon foreign technology, and in remnants of complex belief systems demonstrating study of other cultures (Greek, Anatolian, Levantine, Mesopotamian).

Phil Perkins (chapter 8) provides a sound, cautionary analysis of the state of DNA studies for Etruscan identity: misinterpretations abound, usually influenced by the erroneous Lydian migration story of Herodotus. Marco Pacciarelli (chapter 41 describes widespread sociopolitical restructuring at the end of the Final Bronze Age, with incipient hierarchy attested by the establishment of intricate rituals and grouping of multiple families, perhaps into something similar to the curiae of Rome, for political organizing and military recruiting.

Maria Cecilia D'Ercole presents a diachronic outline of economy and trade studded with artifacts (pp. 143-163). Another issue to consider is Jean Gran-Aymerich's proposal of a fondouk situation in foreign trade, a foreign trading-post producing as well as importing goods for trade. Etruscans appear to have adapted the system for which Phoenicians were famous.2 Economy is further analyzed in volume 2 in painstakingly organized chapters (43, 49, 55, 61, 67) by Albert Nijboer (Iron Age, Orientalizing) and Hilary Becker (Archaic through Roman); see also Stefano Bruni's chapter 62. Christoph Reusser's "External Relationships 580-450 BCE" (pp. 1031-1046) is confined to the Attic vase trade…but does present new quantitative studies.

Every chapter offers some new discovery or fresh approach. Armando Cherici, noting "dance is not fashion, but message" (pp. 233- 244) theoretically reconstructs dances from the 8th century through Hellenistic period (contrast his interpretation of the Olmo Bello bronze urn with that of Daniele Maras, writing on religion, p. 282).3 Emiliano Li Castro (chapter 30) surveys musical instruments in a different approach from Fredrik Tobin's in Etruscan World (pp. 841-854). Sport and banquets, treated by Jean-Paul Thuillier (chapter 15), Erich Kistler and Fabio Colivicchi (chapters 13, 14), take different approaches from articles presented in the other recent volumes.

Laura M. Michetti (chapter 23) uses Roman-era texts such as Pomponius Mela in conjunction with topographic finds to reconstruct and categorize earlier harbors and ports, and Adriana Emiliozzi (chapter 24) discusses roads and bridges as well as the variety of wheeled vehicles for which she is the undisputed authority.

Andrea Zifferero (chapter 25) gives a picture of mining conditions and sources of Etruscan wealth, noting possible 9th- century Nuragic influence. Alessandro Corretti (chapter 26) describes Etruscan exploitation of Elba for iron from the 7th century; a boom between 3rd and 1st centuries created over 100,000 tons of slag. (Several Italian sites have required modern remediation for Etruscan-era smelting pollution.) Intimate views of women's lives are reconstructed through textile and clothing production (Margarita Gleba, chapter 29); and warriors' realities through tomb offerings of weapons (Markus Egg, chapter 11).

In-depth treatment of narrow issues or special categories of finds offers examples that illustrate wider fields. Fiorenzo Catalli (chapter 27) identifies the first coinage (5th-century Populonia, Vulci). Adriano Maggiani (chapter 28) details inscribed evidence for Etruscan official weights systems. Lars Karlsson (chapter 39) surveys the slow development of Iron Age hut architecture; this is the only strictly architectural chapter, although architecture appears under other headings, e.g. Fernando Gilotta's Classical-Hellenistic art (chapter 57). Cristiano Iaia sets the scene with Iron Age handicrafts (chapter 40), and several chapters (51, 52, 57, 58, 63, 64) survey art by period.

Sections on topography and Etruscans abroad offer surprisingly wide scope.4 The Etruscans' debt to the Near East is demonstrated not merely in artifacts and emulation of artwork, but appears in economics and commerce, viticulture and religious practice such as divination, as aptly presented by Massimo Botto (chapter 34, pp. 581-616), emphasizing the importance of Sardinia in dissemination of cargoes and culture (see Mauro Menichetti's chapter 45, pp. 831-850, for additional thoughts on the Levantine marzeach, and more).5 Chapters 73 through 90 present Etruscan persons, objects and influence beyond Etruria, from the Italian peninsula and islands to Iberia, northern Europe, the Aegean and North Africa, illustrating slightly different subsets of evidence from the other Etruscan compendia. This should be eye-opening for many readers.

Etruscology entries generally evince healthy respect for the evidence of ancient authors while maintaining reasonable caution; all relevant chapters present the latest archaeological evidence, a refreshing contrast to many histories that merely repeat literary accounts.6 This makes the work especially valuable for student readings: laymen are too often exposed only to superficial or outdated views, like the Herodotean tale or the assertion that the Etruscan language has not been deciphered. Here is a reliable antidote for such fictions.

The "Civilization" sections (chapters 39-68) are particularly rewarding on society, cults, handicrafts, fitting familiar inscriptions and artifacts into a complex social and political system. Several chapters discuss social hierarchies, e.g. Luca Cerchiai's imaginative chapter 35, "Urban Civilization." Gianluca Tagliamonte (chapter 9) grows increasingly speculative on magistracies, linking the mythical king Mezentius with the 6th-century Caeretan atrocity following the battle over Alalia (p. 129); students may be overwhelmed by essays like these. Inscriptions from Rubiera and Caeretan Tragliatella indicate systems with zilath or maru magistrates by the early 6th century (Tagliamonte, p. 128). In fact, formal political organization has been interpreted in 8th-century Felsina/Bologna through newly identified public works including fortifications, hydraulic projects and even a pilings-structure, suggested as a forerunner to the Diribitorium of Rome.7

Robert Rollinger's chapter (20) on Near Eastern parallels to Etruscan haruspicy concentrates on cuneiform texts, and can be supported by documentation like the Brontoscopic Calendar.8 For Etruscan cults and beliefs, see chapters by Marie-Laurence Haack (21, 54, 60, 66). For a survey of deities linked to temples, statues or dedicatory inscriptions, see Maras chapter 18, pp. 277-316. A condensed survey of traditions of death and burial by Alessandro Naso (chapter 19) gives insights on belief and the circulation of ideas.

The high level of intensive detail in Patrice Pomey's thorough diachronic survey of Etruscan ships (pp. 371-389) invites questions: I hold that, almost two centuries before the painted Tarquinian Tomb of the Ship, one of the earliest images of a ship with foresail, a 7th-century Caeretan pyxis (Louvre D150) actually portrayed a foresail (ultraviolet analysis does not contradict the antiquity of that image).9

Many authors emphasize the regional character of art and society, as does a new series treating Etruscan cities. The first volume, Caere (eds. N.T. de Grummond and L.C. Pieraccini (Austin: University of Texas) appeared in 2016; Veii (Jacopo Tabolli ed., with Orlando Cerasuolo) is due in Fall, 2018.

Language still defines Etruscan culture. Enrico Benelli's chapter 7 is a concise historical background; his fine summary of language and scripts is chapter 17.10

The lengthy preparation of this handsome work, bursting with new information and gratifying detail, does mean that some updates have already appeared. Chapter 31, Marshall Becker's "Etruscan gold dental appliances," may be replaced by Becker and Turfa, The Etruscans and the History of Dentistry (Routledge, 2017). Indispensible among specialist works is Jean Gran-Aymerich's definitive book on bucchero pottery (including art, trade, culture), Les vases de bucchero. Le monde étrusque entre Orient et Occident (L''Erma' di Bretschneider, 2017).

The text, apart from occasional infelicities of English translation, assumes familiarity with Italic archaeological jargon: how many undergraduates or laymen are conversant with terms like sodalis, olla, flabellum, loculus, corredo? Carello, p. 147, is not a "cult chariot" but a small bronze wheeled vessel for banquet display. Sometimes potentially distracting modern or untranslated names are used: Silla (Sulla), Pithecusa (Pithekoussai) or Fregelles (Fregellae). Index entries under Murlo and Poggio Civitate give references that only partially overlap. Footnotes are minimal, usually indicating a single recent, albeit definitive, reference. The rich bibliography, a bit slim on Anglophone works, will tantalize many readers for whom access to Italian or French publications is difficult. Overlap is evident between the chronological and thematic chapters of volume 2 (for instance, Petra Amann's chapters 12, 53 and 59 on society, each rewarding in itself). Several chapters disappointingly repeat their abstract as introductory text.

Although neatly typeset and designed, for a reference book it is disconcerting to see print showing through from the opposite side of each page. The 48 color plates (pp. 1739-1760) illustrate Etruscan coins and some painted Tarquinian tombs. Many chapters include black and white photos and line drawings.

Scholars will find points to dispute, as I have bristled at topics of interest to me, but we are sure to find a wealth of new material, new insights, and fresh bibliography to fuel research and teaching: it is a pity that the volumes are too expensive for most Etruscologists to purchase. In depth of scholarship and the restoration of Etruscan complexity through archaeological interpretation, Etruscology merits frequent consultation.


1.   A warning: the hardback cover of Etruscan World is an irresistible chew toy to dogs; no similar problems affect the paperback edition (2017) or the other two works, though all feature colorful Tarquinian murals.
2.   Etruscan World pp. 336-342 with earlier references.
3.   Just published by Maras: "Dancing Myths: Musical Performances with Mythological Subjects from Greece to Etruria" in A. Garcia-Ventura, C. Tavolieri and L. Verderame (eds.), The Study of Musical Performance in Antiquity: Archaeology and Written Sources (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2018): 137-153.
4.   For landscape and economy, there are also Simon Stoddart's chapters in Companion (pp. 43-66) and Graeme Barker's and Tom Rasmussen's The Etruscans (Blackwell, 1998, chapters 1, 5, 6). A different subset of finds attesting Etruscans/Etruscan goods abroad is found in chapters 10-17 and 19 of Etruscan World (pp. 197-348, 373-425).
5.   For assimilation and adaptation of Egyptian beliefs along with art see Maurizio Sannibale in Etruscan World (pp. 99-133; also in Byrsa 7,1-2 (2008): 85-123. See also Camporeale's "The Etruscans and the Mediterranean" (Companion pp. 67-86).
6.   A project underway at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" promises a complete catalogue of ancient literary sources: G. Colonna, D. Maras, L.M. Michetti and E. Tassi Scandone: Fontes ad Res Etruscas Pertinentes/ FaREP.
7.   See J. Ortali in ArchClass 64 (2013): 7-50.
8.   J.M. Turfa, Divining the Etruscan World, Cambridge 2012: 241-277; this also replaces Martin Korenjak's reference, p. 44 note 47.
9.   Cf. Turfa and Steinmayer in IJNA 28.3, 1999: 292-296). A recent find depicts a cargo ship from land-locked Veii: M. Arizza, A. De Cristoforo, N. Piergrossi, D. Rossi (2013) "La tomba di un aristocratico naukleros dell'agro veientano. Il kantharos con scene di navigazione di via A. d'Avack," ArchClass 64: 51-131.
10.   For a longer language text, go to Giuliano and Larissa Bonfante, The Etruscan Language (2nd ed., Manchester, 2002); surveys from other perspectives are Luciano Agostiniani's in Etruscan World (pp. 457-477) or Rex E. Wallace's in Companion (pp. 203-223).

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Georgios Chatzelis, Jonathan Harris (trans.), A Tenth-Century Byzantine Military Manual: The 'Sylloge tacticorum'. London; New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 170. ISBN 9781472470287. $149.95.

Reviewed by Meredith L.D. Riedel, Duke University (mlr45@duke.edu)

Version at BMCR home site


The subject of this volume is the Sylloge Tacticorum, a tenth-century Byzantine handbook of military tactics written in Greek. It begins with a brief introduction of some ten pages, discussing the historical and literary contexts, the scope, date, and authorship of the text, its sources and manuscript tradition, and a list of previous editions and translations. The ninety-six pages of translation present the 102 sections of the manual, rendered in English with occasional Greek terms transliterated. The translation is supported by 489 endnotes, plus a full bibliography and general index. The volume also offers a helpful glossary of specialized Greek military terms in transliteration. The translation is presented in smooth, idiomatic English; the original Greek text is not offered in this edition, which may be disappointing to scholars, but occasional Greek terms are cited in the endnotes for the sake of precision.

There is no scholarly consensus on the date of the text, but the manual itself offers a very specific indication using the widespread Christian dating system of the Byzantine period: AM 6412, or the 6412th year from Creation (or 903-4 AD). However, the majority of scholars are skeptical of this, because the text contains material dated to later than that. Moreover, its oldest manuscripts, as the editors note (p. 6), also contain the Hippiatrica and medical treatises attributed to Constantine VII, suggesting that this might be a dossier of texts from the mid tenth century. Haldon takes a mediating position, saying that the Sylloge could have been composed earlier and then revised in the mid-tenth century with material from the 950s. He is convinced on internal evidence that the text must be later than the Taktika of Leo VI (d. 912).1 Chatzelis and Harris propose the reign of Romanos I Lekapenos (920-944) (p. 7). Although the manuscript specifically attributes the text's authorship to Leo VI, this name could have been put in the place of that of Romanos Lekapenos; the translators propose that the latter suffered some kind of damnatio memoriae (p. 7; the idea is footnoted to an unnamed work in progress by Chatzelis). Overall it seems likely that the text was produced in Constantinople in the first half of the tenth century.

Only one complete critical edition existed previously, published in 1938 by Alphonse Dain,2 the prolific Byzantinist whose work provides the foundation for so much of current scholarship on Byzantine military writings. This is the first complete translation of this manual into English and is based on Dain's text, itself produced from the earliest manuscript, which dates to the fourteenth or fifteenth century, some 500 years after its composition (p. 11). Transmission difficulties thus account for some of the textual irregularities, such as internal references to previous comments that do not occur elsewhere in the text.

The Sylloge was compiled with the two most worrisome enemies of the empire in mind: the Abbasid caliphate along the border to the southeast and the Bulgars to the northwest. Its strategies comprise responses to cross-border raids and it refers to both themata (provincial armies) and tagmata (professional armies), with more prominence given to the latter as the somewhat permanent fighting forces headquartered close to the capital city. Overall, it presents its material in three sections: one on tactics, one on 'war by other means' (see p. 4), and one on ancient Greek and Roman stratagems culled from previous tactical manuals.

The Sylloge was written in an era characterized by the proliferation of tactical books under the Macedonian emperors in the tenth century, and so, as its name suggests, it is mostly a compendium of previous works. Nevertheless, it does offer some unique or novel suggestions for its time. For example, it is the first treatise to record the use of new tactics such as the hollow square formation and the development of specialized units of heavy, light, and medium infantry; light and heavy cavalry; lancers; and mounted archers. For example, the author develops tactics that appear in the Taktika of Leo VI, but adds a third line of heavy cavalry (kataphraktoi) in the middle of the wedge (p. 68). The text also makes the first mention of the menavlatoi, heavy infantry whose primary battle objective is to spear the horses of the opposing heavy cavalry (p. 77). These units also appear in the later tenth-century Praecepta militaria.3 In addition to reusing information from Leo's manual, the Sylloge uses material copied from the usual suspects — Onasander, Aelian, Polyaenus, and other ancient Greek tactical manuals — but also from a lost source or sources posited by previous scholarship (p. 8), the so-called Corpus Perditum. The translators suggest this corpus as the source for the version of Polyaenus found in the final twenty-eight sections of the Sylloge (p. 140 n. 368).

The manual also addresses the duties, knowledge, and decisions of the general throughout, and uses the third person ('what the general should do'). After the introduction on the qualities of a good general, the counsel to the general exclusively addresses activities on campaign, such as battle formations, moving the army and its baggage train, setting up camp, dealing with envoys and spies, and so forth. A central part of the text, sections 30-43, presents a sort of reference file on battle formations in history and terminology for units and troop movements, as well as for weapons and armor. The later sections also deal with marching, laying sieges, hunting, and post-battle protocols, in addition to practical information about poisoned water, desiccated trees, keeping horses quiet in an ambush, field medicine, deceiving the enemy, and dealing with traitors. There is nothing in this manual about civilian support, training regimens, ideological concerns, or combatant salaries. It reads like a summary of useful information for easy reference during deployments, not a philosophical manual of tactical theory. It assumes the necessity of setting ambushes, attacking and being attacked at night or in rough terrain, and above all the need to move combat units quickly and safely to maximize strategic advantage.

The sole allusion to religious obligations comes in section 59, which describes how soldiers can be infected with plague by the enemy through their food. Although the author lists the various ways to execute such biological attacks, he is careful to clarify that these are included not for the Roman army to use, 'for I believe that they are unworthy even to be mentioned in a Christian context,' but to provide knowledge to prevent such tactics against the Romans, especially when they camp in hostile territory (p. 94).

As the first complete English translation of this text, this book is a welcome addition to the canon of accessible medieval Byzantine military manuals. Although one might struggle with the usual annoyances of flipping back and forth to consult the endnotes, they do provide concise references with occasional lengthier comments that further explain the context. Multiple notes give the relevant terms in Greek, although the text itself presents only transliterated Greek terms, contributing to the accessibility of this publication to readers unable to read Greek.

The book is also a welcome resource in part because the sources of each section are clearly cited and because it is also explained when there is no source or the author of the manual makes an unsubstantiated claim. For example, the text states in 1.24 that 'it was an ordinance of the Roman senate never to call to power a money-loving and avaricious man.' This has the ring of plausibility, yet the translators state that 'no such law as the one described here existed in the Roman Republic' (p. 121). Whether it was perhaps a law proposed by the Byzantines (who called themselves Romans), they do not say. Whereas previous manuals such as the Strategikon of Maurice (late sixth century)4 and the Taktika of Leo VI were content simply to suggest that a general ought not to be a lover of money,5 the Sylloge states that he must not only be 'munificent and indifferent to money' (p. 24), but also fight only for the right cause and 'not for the hope of earnings or profit' (p. 25).

What makes this translation especially useful for historians of the tenth century is its status as a record of transitional tactical thought at a time when the Byzantines were adapting strategies in response to raids across territorial boundaries against both the Arabs and the Bulgars. Additionally, because some of the material here is based on a lost source or sources, it presents information and details new to the growing domain of English-language scholarship on Byzantine military manuals.

The text is free of typos and factual errors, making it a pleasure to read. If one might be permitted the very tiniest of quibbles, this reader found it unfortunate that the references to John Stobaeus,6 the fifth-century anthologist, often do not indicate which ancient writer Stobaeus is quoting, thus creating the additional necessity of consulting the relevant volume of Stobaeus works. Likewise, for the intriguing references to the use of 'liquid fire' (p. 140), the translators cite only an anonymous eighteenth-century Florentine work not accessible to most readers. Throughout the notes, however, it must be said that the references consistently include the most up-to-date scholarship.7


1.   John Haldon, A Critical Commentary on the Taktika of Leo VI (Washington, DC, 2014), 134.
2.   Alphonse Dain, Sylloge Tacticorum, quae olim 'Inedita Leonis Tactica' Dicebatur (Paris, 1938).
3.   E. McGeer (ed. and tr.), Sowing the Dragon's Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks), 12-59.
4.   G. T. Dennis (tr.), Maurice's Strategikon: Handbook of Byzantine Military Strategy (Philadelphia, 1984).
5.   G. T. Dennis (ed. and tr.), The Taktika of Leo VI, 2nd ed. (Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2014).
6.   O. Hense and C. Wachsmuth (eds.), Ioannes Stobaei Anthologium, 5 vols. (Berlin, 1884-1912).
7.   I beg the pardon of the editor and to BMCR itself for my long-overdue submission of this review.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018


Rachel Opitz, Marcello Mogetta, Nicola Terrenato, A Mid-Republican House from Gabii. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016 (online 2018). ISBN 9780472999002. $150.00. Online resource. DOI: 10.3998/mpub.9231782.

Reviewed by Marco Giglio, Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale (mgiglio@unior.it)

Version at BMCR home site

Il volume a cura di Rachel Opitz, Marcello Mogetta, e Nicola Terrenato, con contributi di Tyler Duane Johnson, Antonio F. Ferrandes, Laura Banducci, Francesca Alhaique, Laura Motta, Shannon Ness, Jason Farr, Samantha Lash, and Matthew Naglak, è un interessante esperimento di edizione digitale; sino a settembre 2018 è garantita la consultazione del testo e di tutto l'apparato ad esso associato in modo gratuito, mentre sarà a pagamento dopo questa data.

La pubblicazione digitale consente una facile navigazione all'interno del testo grazie all'uso di tag preimpostati ed un campo di ricerca, che facilitano l'accesso alle risorse aggiuntive messe a disposizione del lettore: database (composto da 4231 records, suddivisi in unità stratigrafiche, reperti speciali e reperti funzionali ad una datazione spot dello strato), 3d model e media (costituiti da 117 oggetti, suddivisi in immagini e tabelle, presenti all'interno del testo).

La parte principale del volume è costituita dal testo strutturato in quattro principali sezioni (Introduction, The story of the house, More ed infine Details), a cui segue una breve sezione definita Apologia, la bibliografia ed i ringraziamenti.

Il volume è dedicato ad uno degli edifici indagati nell'ambito del Gabii Project dell'University of Michigan, iniziato nel 2007, con indagini stratigrafiche a partire dal 2009. Il progetto dell'University of Michigan è durato dal 2007 al 2015, con un'estesa indagine della fascia centrale della città. L'edizione dell'edificio è il primo tassello di un più ampio progetto di pubblicazione delle ricerche sul sito di Gabii ed interessa una casa di età medio-repubblicana, inglobata, nelle fasi successive, in un edificio pubblico e, quindi, trasformata, dopo l'abbandono, in una discarica.

Il progetto di interpretazione dei dati si basa sul concetto di raggruppamento delle evidenze per attività, individuando gruppi di attività sulla base di azioni di costruzione, rinnovamento, gestione delle acque, abitazione, trasformazione, scarichi durante la frequentazione dell'area ed abbandono definitivo. Una rapida illustrazione dei concetti alla base della definizione delle singole attività è fornita dagli autori; permane una difficoltà nel comprendere differenze di attribuzione tra attività che potrebbero essere tra di loro assimilabili o di non chiara funzione. Per superare barriere troppo nette si adotta un sistema di attribuzione delle attività flessibile, tale da consentire la stessa azione a due distinte attività: in tal modo il concetto di attività si riduce ad una semplice parola chiave a cui riferire singole azioni per una più semplice ed immediata associazione e gestione dei dati.

La pubblicazione è strutturata in maniera tale che si possa passare, attraverso l'uso anche di un modello 3d dello scavo, tra diversi livelli di approfondimento, sino a giungere, in linea teorica, all'analisi dei singoli dati che hanno consentito agli autori di scrivere le sintesi, che costituiscono il livello 1.

La prima parte del lavoro è dedicata ad una sintetica illustrazione del sito di Gabii, anche attraverso le fonti storiche ed alla storia della ricerca archeologica nel sito, su cui ha a lungo operato un team spagnolo. Un'interessante parte del volume è dedicata alla descrizione dei metodi di indagine, dalla gestione informatizzata dell'ingente mole di dati stratigrafici, ai dati spaziali, archeobotanici, zooarcheologici, fino all'analisi dei reperti. In particolare, un paragrafo è dedicato al sistema di definizione della datazione di uno strato, che è stato oggetto di riflessioni e rifiniture nel corso delle indagini, basate anche sulla differente quantità dei reperti rinvenuti in ogni singola fase edilizia.

La seconda – e più consistente – sezione è dedicata alla descrizione delle fasi edilizie individuate, senza tralasciare le evidenze più antiche su cui si è impiantata l'abitazione. Un paragrafo è dedicato alle relazioni tra l'architettura domestica di Gabii ed altri centri, contemporanei, dell'Italia centrale, senza tuttavia tralasciare agganci cronologici con la realtà pompeiana. Un secondo paragrafo di sintesi è dedicato ai reperti significativi, a cui segue un paragrafo di conclusioni.

La terza parte della pubblicazione è dedicata all'illustrazione degli elementi che hanno consentito la stesura delle due precedenti parti, definiti details (unità stratigrafiche significative, materiali costruttivi, reperti archeobotanici, reperti faunistici, ceramica, reperti speciali, small finds e monete). Anche in questo caso utilissimo appare il sistema dei tags, che consentono al lettore di visualizzare dati testuali e media relativi ad ogni singola unità stratigrafica citata nel testo.

All'interno di questa parte un capitolo è dedicato ai resti faunistici, illustrati sia attraverso tabelle e grafici strutturate sulla base delle fasi individuate sia con una riflessione di sintesi sulle attestazioni delle differenti specie all'interno del contesto indagato. A questa parte segue, con analogo sistema, l'edizione della ceramica e dei reperti significativi, nonché delle monete che sono state rinvenute all'interno dello scavo.

L'edizione dei reperti ceramici – a cui sono dedicate numerose pagine del volume – è effettuata solo attraverso una sintesi delle attestazioni in ogni fase, accompagnata da tabelle riepilogative per classe e/o grafici; solo in alcuni casi sono pubblicate tavole con disegni ricostruttivi dei principali tipi attestati. Nell'intero volume, a fronte di ca. 14000 reperti trattati, vengono presentati i disegni di soli 40 oggetti racchiusi in 6 tavole. Purtroppo, non risulta d'aiuto il database, che, pur presentando una scheda per tutti i reperti funzionali ad una datazione spot, non è completato dal disegno – o dalla foto – del reperto stesso. Tale enorme mole dei dati, quindi, non è realmente fruibile per il lettore, che, di fatto, non può approfondire completamente l'analisi dei contesti presentati nella sintesi e, soprattutto, utilizzare la banca dati – basata su dati stratigrafici – per comparanda con altri contesti, così come è stato effettuato dagli autori del volume. Per quanto riguarda infine l'edizione dei reperti appare carente il repertorio bibliografico di riferimento per le singole classi; a titolo di esempio il volume di riferimento per le ceramiche comuni è quello di Bertoldi (Ceramiche comuni dal suburbio di Roma, Roma 2011), mentre non si utilizzano i lavori della Olcese (Le ceramiche comuni a Roma e in area romana (III secolo a.C.-I-II secolo d.C.). Produzione, circolazione, tecnologia, Mantova 2003 o Ceramiche da contesti repubblicani del territorio di Ostia, Roma 2016). Analogamente per le ceramiche megaresi non è citato il lavoro della Puppo (Le coppe megaresi in Italia, Roma 1995) e – tralasciando le produzioni vesuviane – per le ceramiche a vernice rossa interna i lavori di Maria Cristina Leotta sulle produzioni tiberine. Infine, sempre per fare esempi sparsi, non sono presenti riferimenti ai lavori della Olcese (Le anfore greco italiche di Ischia: archeologia e archeometria. Artigianato ed economia nel Golfo di Napoli, Roma 2010) e della Pugliese (Anfore greco-italiche neapolitane (IV-III secolo a.C.), Roma 2014) sulle produzioni di anfore greco-italiche di area neapolitana, pur riconoscendone alcuni reperti, utilizzati per un'individuazione della datazione della fase.

Uno degli aspetti più innovativi del volume è il tentativo di rendere fruibile l'intera documentazione che ha consentito la stesura del testo in digitale; tale sistema, come detto prima, dovrebbe fornire al lettore tutti gli strumenti non solo per analizzare i dati, ma per verificarne l'uso fatto. Tuttavia la documentazione a corredo, almeno per i reperti ceramici, appare non esaustiva, cosa che rende meno funzionale il prodotto. Altro aspetto poco chiaro è la differenza tra l'edizione attualmente ad accesso gratuito – oggetto di questa recensione – e quella disponibile a pagamento, al momento alternativa alla prima, ma unica disponibile a partire da giugno 2018.

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Marquis Berrey, Hellenistic Science at Court. Science, technology and medicine in ancient cultures, 5. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. 274. ISBN 9783110539776. €99.95.

Reviewed by Max Leventhal, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge (ml649@cam.ac.uk)

Version at BMCR home site

Scholarly advances in rescuing Hellenistic culture from narratives of decline have often focused on Hellenistic literature and art, explaining form and content in terms of social and political contexts. Marquis Berrey offers in this monograph instead a reconsideration of modern ways of thinking about Hellenistic science. His central questions are: "What was the relationship between science and monarchy in the third century BCE in the Hellenistic world? And why does it matter?" (p. 1). This book thus looks not to poets such as Callimachus, Apollonius and Theocritus, but the works – both material and textual – of scientists such as Archimedes, Eratosthenes and Andreas of Carystus.

In the Introduction, Berrey presents the methodological frameworks he will adopt in the book. The first and most important is the concept of the court. Drawing on research into the political structure(s) of the Early-modern court and its influence on state formation and cultural production, Berrey proposes that one way to unlock the dynamics of scientific output in the Hellenistic period is to pay close attention to the operations of the Hellenistic courts. Berrey's second methodological consideration is to reflect on the type of history of science he is writing. He raises the issue of 'presentism' in writing the history of science: the extent to which this writing is influenced by modern conceptions of what science entails. Broadly speaking, he responds to these concerns by proposing to read Hellenistic scientific developments as historically contingent, as events which did not necessarily have to be the case. He also proposes, instead of focusing on how social conditions allow for the epistemic closure of scientific debate to think in terms of emergence. By epistemic closure, he means the idea that because scientific observations describe 'the facts' there is no case for disagreement. By emergence, he means "a historical conceptual holism which for historical actors marks the temporal moment a new belief about already-existing objects came into being" (p. 22). The way to respond fully to these concerns, Berrey concludes, is to provide a 'thick description' of the court society at which the science was developed, and in so doing to allow for a clear view of the authors' and works' historical contingency and the emergent ideas and objects which historical actors assembled into new scientific machines and operations.

The first and second chapters, then, provide that thick description of Hellenistic court society. In Chapter One, Berrey counts 141 courtiers from the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes (246 B.C.E) to the end of the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator (205/4 B.C.E.), and 17 doubtful and excluded cases. He divides the figures into nine groups: 'the king and his family', 'the philoi or friends of the king', 'bureaucrats, military officials, judiciary, minor functionaries', 'priests', 'flatterers, entertainers, lovers', 'poets', 'prose authors: antiquarians, geographers, historians', 'prose authors: philosophers, grammarians', and 'scientists'. He provides for each figure, or group of figures, a short biography and explains their position within the court, and often comments on the limits of what can be known about them. This prosopography of the Ptolemaic court during the defined period is a useful resource which I expect will be consulted often.

In the second chapter, Berrey outlines his interpretation of the court's function within elite society, how its interactions are governed by a form of gift-exchange, and the possible spaces in which these interactions occurred. He first proposes that both courtiers and the king presented a persona to the court; the former had to represent themselves as a friend of the king ready to give honest advice and to be cultured and loyal, while the king ought to be fair, magnanimous, and beneficent. The two parties are held together by a discourse of friendship, in which both sides had to negotiate the fine line between honest criticism and conspicuous flattery. Ideally, "both king and courtier were great-souled and friends-of- honour whose mutual intimacy fostered honour and glory" (p. 109). The site at which this social negotiation takes place is the symposium; it is here that courtiers (seriously or jocularly) vie for the king's attention and favour. It is also here where cultural products are offered to the king in the guise of gifts of friendship, such as poems or treatises. The Hellenistic scientific works and scientific objects which will be the subject of the subsequent chapters should be contextualised as items of gift-exchange, offered by scientists as courtiers, who expected favours in return.

In the third chapter, Berrey turns to the scientific writings themselves. He identifies themes that make sense within the court context, and within the entertainment context presupposed by the symposium. He brings a wide range of Hellenistic scientific texts together and shows how they revel in the ideas of belatedness and praise, the dynamic between text and image or diagram, and the construction of the scientists' expertise and persona as courtiers.

Chapter Four extends this argument on a more detailed level, by looking at Eratosthenes' letter on the doubling of the cube and the instrument it describes, and at Andreas of Carystus' machine for resetting dislocated joints. In both cases, he aims to show "that these technological products of cross-disciplinary scientific investigation gained social currency first through their entertainment value as court science." (p.163) That is, his aim is to show that the works were produced to entertain the court elite and that such objects were performance pieces intended to elicit wonder and to chime with the aesthetics of the courtly milieu.

The fifth chapter looks at two further Hellenistic scientific developments: Herophilus' measurement of the pulse, and Archimedes' Method and its use of mechanical argumentation in computing the volume of a given solid. Berrey's intention with these two further case studies is to consider how Hellenistic science is produced beyond the parameters of the Ptolemaic kings Euergetes and Philopator. Herophilus was active earlier during the reigns of Ptolemy I Soter and II Philadelphus while Archimedes was active in Syracuse from the second half of the third century. In the case of Herophilus, Berrey shows how he both drew from the musical theory of Aristoxenus in calculating the rhythm of the pulse and used a water clock which combined Greek and Egyptian aspects of time measurement. In the case of Archimedes, he offers a close reading of the text and reveals how he appropriates a mechanical discourse in imagining how solids can be weighed by being sliced into smaller units and balanced on a scale-beam.

In the Epilogue, Berrey looks to the wider import of his research and proposes that it takes the first steps towards a history of scientific interdisciplinarity, since the Hellenistic court "was the original interdisciplinary space" (p. 227). He makes a strong case for disciplines still being in a process of formation in the Hellenistic period and for there being wholesale borrowings across the sciences. Although he is relatively quiet about the fact, this is shown most clearly in Chapter Five, which exposes brilliantly how music theory and medicine, and mechanics and mathematics interact. Berrey concludes the book by looking forward to the future history of scientific interdisciplinarity and argues that we will need to look beyond traditional institutions and evidence, to the likes of Callimachus' aetiological poetry, in order to understand how scientific disciplines interact with each other, and with other epistemic frameworks such as magic or religion.

In addition to the court prosopography of Chapter One, the central value of this book is its close reading and contextualisation of scientific works and texts. Berrey succeeds in using the historical and political contexts as a lever with which to pry open the texts or devices and expose their workings. Particularly innovative, to my mind, are his readings of the performative nature of Andreas of Carystus' machine for resetting joints and the combination of Greek and Egyptian material culture which produce Herophilus' water clock for measuring pulses.

Two points should be borne in mind, which arise from my sincere appreciation of Berrey's innovative work. First is the issue of periodisation with respect to both the material and to the development of Berrey's thesis. Berrey defines his period of interest as the reigns of Ptolemy III Euergetes and IV Philopator, yet at a number of points he strays outside this remit. In discussing court dynamics in Chapter Two the key texts are Isocrates' To Nicocles, the pseudepigraphic Letter to Aristeas, and Diodorus Siculus. The kind of light which these texts can throw onto the politics of the Ptolemaic court is different in each case. A bit more openness about the date and historical context, not to mention genre, of their production would have been useful; a Classical period speech and a late-second century pseudepigraphic Jewish text do not disclose historical events or normative expectations regarding kings for the same purposes. Some of the texts that Berrey discusses, moreover, do not come from the time period he defined, e.g. Biton's Constructions of War-Machines and Artillery (likely the 130s BCE) and Apollonius of Citium's Treatise on Hippocrates' On Joints (active in the 70s BCE). In the case of Chapter Five, he makes a virtue of exploring beyond the reigns of Euergetes and Philopator, yet it is not clear what was unique about that period other than it being a pragmatic way to limit one's research project. Since Berrey did not give a prosopography for the courts of Ptolemy I Soter and II Philadelphus for Herophilus, and of Gelon II of Syracuse for Archimedes, it is difficult to know whether the claim that the dynamics of court science exist outside of Euergetes' and Philopator's reigns should surprise us or not. Berrey builds up such a compelling picture of Hellenistic court science both within and outside his chronological parameters, I was left wondering why the distinction was made so firm in the first place: this book addresses court science throughout the Hellenistic period.

Second is the issue of the social space of Hellenistic court life. Berrey is by no means the only scholar to conceptualise court life as intimately related to royal symposia, but this thinking seems to stem from a naïve approach to the evidence and raises more questions than it answers. The large proportion of passages are drawn from the Deipnosophists and the Letter to Aristeas. With the former, there is the issue of Athenaeus' bias in selecting his sources which are often anecdotal and with the latter, that of historical veracity: would 72 Jewish elders really have been allowed to advance their own theory of kingship for Ptolemy unimpeded? A more sceptical approach would have helped Berrey nuance his highly plausible reconstruction. By using such evidence, moreover, Berrey argues that 'textual works written or performed for court society followed the practices of the symposium' (p.115). This may be the case for the anecdotes of titbit recitations described by Athenaeus, but a military manual by Biton or a treatise by Archimedes show no sign of a sympotic context or a suitability for it. As a social space, the symposium has perhaps naturally been used to conceptualise the workings of gift-exchange at court, but it should not be thought the only or central space where it actually occurred. Indeed, Berrey shows that these texts enact gift-exchange without a concern for sympotic politics.

These two minor quibbles aside, Berrey has produced a work which will be essential reading for those interested in the political and intellectual currents in Hellenistic literature. Indeed, something which is highly revealing, but which Berrey downplays, is the position of poetry at court. He draws on research into Hellenistic poetry in explaining the aesthetics of scientific texts, i.e. their sense of belatedness or their cross-disciplinary nature. Yet his research shows that such aesthetics are in no way unique to poetry; his conclusions ultimately mean we will have to reconfigure our ideas about what drives the various cultural, political and intellectual trends of the Hellenistic court.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Sergio Audano, Tacito. Agricola. Testo latino a fronte. Classici greci e latini. Santarcangelo di Romagna: Rusconi Libri, 2017. Pp. cxvi, 151. ISBN 9788818031980. €11,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Bram L. H. ten Berge, Hope College (tenberge@hope.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

The purpose of this appealing new Italian translation of the Agricola, according to the series editor (v), is to reach lay readers, especially younger ones, in order to give them access to ancient literature and connect it with their own world. To facilitate this access, the volume, like the Loeb series, offers the Latin text with facing translation. The production of a new translation is justified on the ground that each generation reads literary texts from its unique perspective, and indeed Sergio Audano succeeds, in intriguing ways, in connecting Tacitean themes to important concerns in both the early modern and modern periods.

Audano offers an extraordinarily rich introduction (vii-xciv) that, aside from covering the usual material in introductions to the Agricola, engages with enduring questions raised by the text (e.g. about the nature of imperialism/colonialism) and with its reception in Renaissance Italy and beyond. Given the length of the introduction, several parts of which could function as stand-alone essays, I review its different sections in turn.

Audano starts with Tacitus' impact on early modern and modern political thought (vii-ix). Comments on the historian's influence on Macchiavelli and Guicciardini and on 17th-18th century political thought (due in part to his extraordinary style) are followed by remarks on his use after World War II and during the political movements in Italy in the late 1960s as a means of analyzing the political system "from the inside." My one reservation about this section is that readers may get the impression that Tacitus was a popular author ever since antiquity. This was not so. Unlike Livy, Vergil, and others, he was a relative latecomer.

Next follows an overview of Tacitus' vita (x-xvi), which lays out the evidence for his life and career, his relationship with his friend Pliny the Younger and the new government of Nerva and Trajan, as well as the tense atmosphere in post- Domitianic Rome that forms the immediate backdrop to the Agricola.

In the following section (L'Agricola tra letteratura e ideologia: xvi-xxx), Audano turns to the text, laying out its generic complexity and flexibility, its structure, and the authors with whom Tacitus engages most conspicuously (Cato the Elder, Sallust, Cicero, Caesar). One example of the text's generic richness is the ethnographic section (uncommon in biographies) of Britain, which enunciates Tacitus' interest in ethnography, forms the background to Agricola's career on the island, and justifies its occupation. Audano shows how Tacitus, while endorsing the Roman imperial mission, ruthlessly exposes its ugly realities (especially in the famous 21st chapter and the pre-battle speech of the Caledonian chief Calgacus), revealing that what was hailed as enlightenment and progress in reality amounts to a loss of identity and, ultimately, to enslavement. Audano is particularly good at describing the psychological impact of imperialism/colonialism on the conquered. He continues by noting that the dialectic between slavery and freedom – both in the provinces (Calgacus/non-Roman tribes vs. Agricola/Roman Empire) and in Rome (Agricola/Senate vs. Domitian/Emperor) – unifies the text and recurs in the Histories and Annals, which take up various themes and concerns set out in the Agricola. Finally, Audano elaborates on the broader purpose of the text, which is not merely to commemorate Agricola's life and career but to offer a moral and ethical exemplum for contemporary Romans, one of a type of conduct, rooted in virtus and modus, that stands in close connection to the values advertised by the new government. The publication of the Agricola, after the supposed silence enforced by Domitian, also represents a renewal of memoria.

In the next section (Lo smascheramento dell'imperialismo: il discorso di Calgaco: xxx-xl), Audano zooms in on Calgacus' denunciation of Roman imperialism, which, he notes, transcends its immediate context and is applicable, mutatis mutandis, to other areas and time-periods. Audano rightly characterizes Tacitus' attitude towards imperialism as complex: Tacitus is a clear proponent of expansionism as it is carried out by his father-in-law but simultaneously exposes its questionable methods and ethical underpinnings. Hence, to call him a "mouthpiece" ("portavoce", xxxii) of the Roman ideology of moral and ethical superiority vis-à-vis non-Roman peoples (also in light of what we learn in the contemporary Germania) might be to oversimplify his vision. Nonetheless, the basic distinction between the stronger and civilized Romans and the weaker and uncivilized 'barbarians' is a firm one in Tacitus, and Audano nicely connects the broad imperial vision expressed in the Agricola with that of Thucydides in the Melian Debate and with Vergil's famous maxim at Aen. 6.851-853. He duly notes that the figure of Calgacus (and his arguments) recalls Cicero's Carneades, Caesar's Critognatus, and Sallust's Jugurtha and Mithridates. Yet, as Audano points out, Calgacus is different, too, being depicted as a capable and eloquent chief who possesses quintessentially 'Roman' characteristics and whose cause inspires sympathy. This achieves two things: defeating a noble enemy elevates Agricola's gloria, and Calgacus can function as a striking mouthpiece for Tacitus, not to denounce imperialism per se but to draw attention to its realities and underlying motivations. Calgacus' speech is paired with Agricola's, which offers further clues about expansionism and the vision of Roman vs. non-Roman identity driving it.

In the following part (Agricola da uomo a exemplum, xl-lxviii), Audano expands on the way Tacitus transforms Agricola into an exemplum. Here he is particularly excellent, showing how Tacitus (in the epilogue) transforms the more religious and Stoic visions of the afterlife in Cicero and Seneca the Younger, respectively, into a distinctly 'secular' vision, in which Agricola 'survives' as an exemplum through people's contemplatio virtutum, i.e. their constant reflection on his virtus, facta, and mores. Tacitus advocates this as a more efficient means than literature alone or the use of imagines in preserving a person's memoria. Audano highlights intriguing intertextual links with Cicero's Brutus, De oratore, and the fragmentary consolatio for Tullia, as well as with Seneca's Consolatio ad Marciam, particularly regarding the topos of premature death (mors immatura), which, in Agricola's case, is transformed into a mors opportuna. Just as the death of Cicero's Crassus kept him from witnessing the Social and civil wars, so Agricola was spared Domitian's 'reign of terror'. In addition to the way that people should grieve for Agricola, Audano offers interesting observations on how Agricola himself deals with grief, i.e. by relying on his family and his characteristic modus to remain level-headed at all times (in contrast with Tiberius after his son Drusus's death, one of several connections to which Audano draws our attention). The final portions (Momenti della fortuna dell' Agricola: dal Rinascimento a Napoleone, lxviii-xciv) cover the text's reception in the Renaissance and early modern period. These, for me, were the most captivating sections, describing the use of the text by Napoleonic generals as a source of encouragement at the Battle of Trafalgar (Nelson, as we know, was more successful than Calgacus); by Francesco Guicciardini, the pioneer of "Tacitism" in Italy, both to reflect on how to live under autocratic governments and in his autobiography, where he models his father-in-law Alamanno Salviati on Agricola; and by Traiano Boccalini, who, among other things, used the Agricola in his Ragguagli di Parnaso to expose the oppressions of Habsburg Spain, staging the fictional re-emergence, in his own time, of Calgacus, whose speech against the Romans is overheard by some Spanish soldiers and interpreted as being directed against Spain instead.

Audano's introduction, then, does much more than merely set the stage for the translation. The footnotes include annotated bibliographical references, which is helpful for the intended audience. One unfortunate aspect of the introduction is that any Latin text quoted (with one exception on pages liv-lv) is left untranslated, which is puzzling given the volume's stated purpose.

The remainder of the volume contains the Latin text with facing translation followed by endnotes. I have no comments on the Latin text, except that in a few cases Audano does not justify his emendations (viz. in preferring iterati over tanti at Agr. 13.3 and in not retaining ingeniis at Agr. 16.1). The translation is appealing and accessible, remaining faithful to the Latin but not rendering it so literally as to make it incomprehensible for a lay reader. 1 I only found a few issues of concern.2 The notes accompanying the translation are extensive and, despite some omissions, excellent throughout.3 As this is a translation and not a textbook, grammar and syntax (with the exception of rhetorical features) are omitted in favor of historical observations, essential background information, intertextual links, and relevant modern comparisons.4 At times, the notes replicate what we were told in the introduction (but without referring back to the relevant pages), and in some places the omission of well-known Anglophone scholarship is noticeable. While this may be explained by the envisioned audience (over half of the bibliography is Italian, only a quarter Anglophone), enough Anglophone scholarship is cited in the introduction that omissions in the commentary caught at least this reader's attention.5 These minor points aside, the notes are superb, and in every case the reader is rewarded for flipping back to consult them.

There are several typos that are quite serious.6 Otherwise, the volume is well produced and its large font makes for a comfortable read. The book is affordable, which is important given its targeted audience. Audano succeeds wonderfully in making the Agricola and its broader historical significance accessible to a wide Italian audience, and I expect it will be enjoyed by many. Given the many insightful observations it offers, it also will be useful for non-Italian graduate students and scholars with Italian at their command, to be used alongside the new standard commentary of Woodman-Kraus.


1.   A good example (among many): "talora anche tra gli sconfitti c'erano episodi di coraggio disperato" for et aliquando etiam victis ira virtusque (Agr. 37.3).
2.   At Agr. 2.1, Audano does not translate capitale fuisse. At 15.4, sibi patriam coniuges parentes, illis avaritiam et luxuriam causas belli esse is translated as "per loro il motive della guerra erano la patria, le compagne, i genitori, per noi romani l'avidità e i nostri capricci." The sentence is part of an indirect discourse representing the thoughts of Boudicca and her fellow rebels ("they said that for themselves…, for the Romans…"), which is disturbed by translating "noi" and "nostri." At 30.1, translating magnus mihi animus as "desidero" is misleading: the point is not that Calgacus, upon reviewing all aspects of the upcoming battle, "desires" or "hopes" that it will bring freedom to all of Britain but that he "is very confident" this will be the case. At 41.4, Audano takes amore et fide as denoting the affection and loyalty of Domitian's freedmen towards Agricola. However, the contrast here is between two groups of Domitian's freedmen, the first egging on the emperor out of affection for him, the second (the worse group) out of malice towards Agricola (as Woodman-Kraus show).
3.   At Agr. 6, Audano notes that Agricola's fellow tribune in 66 was the defiant Arulenus Rusticus (n. 35) but he does not add (n. 36) that his fellow praetor in 67 was the future emperor Nerva, who, unlike Agricola, helped eliminate fellow Romans after the Pisonian Conspiracy (crucial in explaining Agricola's tenor et silentium). In n. 70, Audano suggests that Suetonius Paulinus completed the conquest of Mona, but this (as he notes elsewhere) was accomplished by Agricola in 78 (Agr. 18.3).
4.   E.g. when using Bush-era slogans during the American invasion of Iraq to comment on Rome's imperialistic practices (pp. 118-119) or when likening Tacitus' critical tone in Agr. 45 to that of Hannah Arendt (p. 149).
5.   A few examples (among others): D. Sailor. 2004. "Becoming Tacitus: Significance and Inconsequentiality in the Prologue of Agricola," ClAnt 23.1: 139-177. H. Haynes. 2006. "Survival and Memory in the Agricola," Arethusa 39.2: 149-170. T. Whitmarsh. 2006. "This In Between Book: Language, Politics and Genre in the Agricola," in B. McGing and J. Mossman (eds.), The Limits of Ancient Biography (Swansea), 305-333.
6.   In the notes to Agr. 3.1, Audano writes that he follows Woodman-Kraus in printing et, quamquam but in the Latin text the comma has been omitted. At 3.2, after venimus there is no punctuation (regrettable since the correct punctuation here is debated). At 4.3, incensum has been omitted after matris. At 22.1, for formdine read formidine. In the translation, footnotes 70 and 92 have been omitted, while at 13.2 the English word "leaders" is printed.

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Monday, August 6, 2018


Despoina Ariantzi (ed.), Coming of Age in Byzantium: Adolescence and Society. Millennium studies, 69. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Pp. x, 320. ISBN 9783110576467. €109,95.

Reviewed by Grace Stafford, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (grace.stafford@wolfson.ox.ac.uk)

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents
[Authors and titles listed at the end of the review.]

This edited volume arises from a symposium entitled "Coming of Age – Adolescence and Society in Medieval Byzantium," held in Vienna in February 2014. This event was related to a larger research project based at the University of Vienna: "Coming of Age, Leaving the Nest: Models of Adolescence in Byzantium (6th – 11th centuries)." The contributions in the book cover a wider chronological scope, spanning the fourth to fifteenth centuries. The aim of the project was to recognize and explore adolescence in Byzantine society as a phase of life that was distinct both from childhood and from adulthood and to more accurately define it in various genres of literature. More specifically, there was a focus on the transitional period from adolescence to adulthood. While the project itself was literary in focus, the book is intentionally interdisciplinary, with contributions that incorporate psychology, sociology, anthropology, and art history. The volume comprises thirteen articles in English and German and the entire book is available online as part of De Gruyter's open access content.

The chapters are not grouped together into thematic sections and they are very diverse in topic and approach. For this reason, I will comment briefly on each contribution individually. The book opens with an introduction by the editor Despoina Ariantzi, who provides a concise and accessible overview of the goals of the book and the individual contributions. Her introduction outlines some of the book's main themes: the role of law in defining adolescence and adulthood, gender differences, and the importance of hagiography as a genre that frequently deals with issues of youth. She identifies three main motives for an adolescent to leave the family home: pursuing a career, getting married, or entering the religious life. This introduction is excellent for the general reader, but presents two minor frustrations. Firstly, she does not engage with the material evidence other than in the summary of contributions. This is a shame, as two of the articles deal explicitly with artistic sources. Secondly, despite the explicit recognition of gender as an important feature of adolescent experience, her hypothetical young person is often gendered as male.

The introduction is followed by a discussion by Béatrice Caseau of the flexibility of thresholds for adulthood in Byzantine society. She uses legal sources to show that the age of majority (25 years) could be circumvented in certain situations. Caseau focuses on three laws from the fourth century, sixth century, and eighth century, to argue that between the early Roman empire and the eighth century the "threshold for adult behavior and responsible decisions had been lowered by ten years" (p. 22); i.e., from age 25 to age 15. Caseau's article is concise and direct, and she recognizes the impact of gender and class.

Legal sources are also examined in Günter Prinzing's lengthy article, which comes with its own catalogue of the cases that he discusses in the article, providing concise information for each one such as its date, region, a brief synopsis of the case and its outcome, and the sources for it. While initially this seems excessive, the article is a mine of useful information presented in an accessible format. Prinzing offers an overview of the cases presented in the catalogue. These are often harrowing reminders of the dangers faced by minors, frequently at the hands of their own family. A recurring figure is the young girl married before the legal age. One poignant case concerned an under-age bride apparently taken into her bridegroom's house on the condition that intercourse would be delayed until she was of age. This did not happen and she was so badly assaulted that it left her with permanent physical damage. The marriage was dissolved and the father-in-law was ordered to pay back the dowry and premarital gifts (pp. 47-48). Prinzing identifies that most cases concerning adolescents involved marriage and family problems, inheritance, property, or issues concerned with careers and discipline. He also notes the particularly precarious position of orphans, who often appear engaged in legal struggles with step-parents or relatives.

In the next chapter, Alice-Mary Talbot examines the life of young monastics. Evidence from typika and hagiographical texts are used to illustrate the fact that this was an intentionally testing period for a young postulant. Evidence for educational facilities are relatively limited and novices were often expected to undertake a large amount of menial work. Caring for the elderly and performing hard manual labour were important services that young monastics could provide although they also risked abuse at the hands of superiors to whom they owed obedience. Talbot notes that beatings and ridicule were relatively common experiences that could, in some extreme cases, result in death.

Adolescence in late Byzantine society is the subject of the chapter by Tonia Kiousopoulou, in which she notes the greater potential for 'typical' adolescent experiences that existed in urban environments in comparison to rural areas. Sadly, this contribution is let down by an apparent lack of editorial assistance, rendering the argument difficult to follow. An opportunity here has been missed for what has the potential to be an interesting exploration of adolescence from the perspective of saints' lives from this period.

The first of the contributions to incorporate psychology or psychoanalysis, Petra Melichar's article analyses decisions made by young women from the perspective of developmental psychology. The article begins with the presupposition that "behavioral patterns accompanying each stage of human development remain constant throughout history" (p. 105). Melichar then uses accounts concerning figures such as Mary of Egypt to discuss parent-child conflict, struggles against authority, and the importance of stable family life.

Despoina Ariantzi's article is concerned with how groups of male adolescents bonded together and formed peer groups, including groups formed through physical activities such as hunting, leisure activities such as drinking and gambling, and finally violent street gangs. While the first two groups were largely only open to elite young men, her analysis of urban gangs highlights an interesting way in which poorer youths could come together, form connections, and have some kind of socio-political agency. As she recognizes, however, even this opportunity was not open to adolescents from poor, rural communities, who may have therefore made the transition to adulthood quicker than more affluent youths and those living in cities.

Visual evidence for adolescence is assessed by both Leslie Brubaker and Cecily Hennessy, who in several cases utilize the same examples to make their arguments (e.g., images of Mary in the Kokkinobaphos manuscripts). Brubaker uses images of saints, aristocrats and imperial figures to argue that although Byzantine artists could certainly distinguish among infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, most of the time adolescents of both sexes were not important enough as characters to be depicted with differentiated physical characteristics. Only adult men received any significant variety in their appearance, as they were the only social group with the importance to demand such a representation. Hennessy, by contrast, focuses on imagery based on apocryphal sources and identifies "subtle gradations" (p. 202) in the depictions of adolescents in their development from girl to woman or boy to man.

Catia Galatariotou moves in an entirely different direction, providing a survey of the literature from social anthropology that focuses on rites of passage and of psychoanalytical work on child development. Byzantine evidence is incorporated at the end, in which Galatariotou uses examples from twelfth-century novels of violent passions and the desire to hunt to throw light on male adolescence.

The psychological theme is continued by Ulrike Sirsch, who discusses various theories of child development from Freud onwards, culminating in the recent concept of 'Emerging Adulthood' developed by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett.

The following contribution, by Thomas Pratsch, tackles adolescents who sought healing through incubation. He begins by discussing the healing of a young woman by Saint Febronia and the story of a young man who sought a treatment from Saint Artemios after he had given himself a hernia trying to win a bet. As the author himself notes, it is difficult to identify cases where the supplicant was definitely an adolescent. As a result, much of the article is a general discussion of the practice of incubation.

The final article in the volume is by Hans-Werner Goetz, who provides an interesting parallel to the Byzantine material by looking at adolescence in texts from the West, dating from the fifth to the twelfth centuries. His conclusions are broadly similar to those that can be drawn from the Byzantine sources: adolescence was a time of flux, when the character of an individual was formed. Adolescents could exhibit bad behavior, but in general required patience and were often forgiven any indiscretions because of their youth.

In general, the volume suffers from a lack of organization. In particular, grouping together the articles that take their inspiration from anthropology and psychology and perhaps prefacing them with a more thorough justification for their inclusion in the volume would have been welcome. While the intention to approach the subject from an interdisciplinary perspective should be applauded, such a wide scope in the end turns out to be too ambitious. Where theories from anthropology and psychology are used alongside Byzantine sources (for example, in Melichar's chapter), they seem underdeveloped, and when they are explored in more detail (for example, by Galatariotou and Sirsch), they do not feel entirely relevant to the book. Overall, I remain unconvinced that theories developed in the context of modern (and often Western) societies can be universally applied to pre-modern societies. A disappointing issue with the volume is the lack of editorial control. While concerns with Kiousopoulou's article have already been noted, there is also a spelling error in the title of Sirsch's article, which is repeated in the Table of Contents ("Erwachsenenalteraus" should read "Erwachsenenalter aus").

Despite these criticisms, this volume provides an important and accessible discussion of a concept that has remained largely neglected in the social history of the Byzantine world. These articles will no doubt stimulate further research into Byzantine adolescence and form an excellent resource both for those specifically interested in childhood and adolescence as well as in Byzantine society more broadly. The chronological range and variety of evidence considered means there will be contributions of relevance to a very broad spectrum of people. Notably, this volume offers a glimpse into the lives of groups that we rarely see represented in scholarship: gangs of youths roaming the streets, orphans fighting their extended families for control of their inheritance, and young monastics being bullied and beaten by their superiors.

Authors and Titles

Introduction: Approaches to Byzantine Adolescence (6th – 11th centuries) – Despoina Ariantzi
Too Young to Be Accountable: Is 15 Years Old a Threshold in Byzantium? – Béatrice Caseau
Adoleszenten in der kirchlichen Rechtsprechung der Byzantiner im Zeitraum 13.-15. Jahrhundert – Günter Prinzing
The Adolescent Monastic in Middle and Late Byzantium – Alice-Mary Talbot
Adolescence in the Late Byzantine Society (14th – 15th centuries) – Tonia Kiousopoulou
Adolescent Behavior in Byzantine Sources? Some Observations on Young Byzantine Women Pursuing their Goals – Petra Melichar
Soziale Identitätsbildung im Jugendalter in Byzanz – Despoina Ariantzi
Images of Byzantine Adolescents – Leslie Brubaker
Representations and Roles of Adolescence with a focus on Apocryphal Imagery – Cecily Hennessy
The Byzantine Adolescent: Real or Imaginary? – Catia Galatariotou
Erwachsenwerden oder Erwachsensein? Ausgewählte Aspekte zu Jugend, „Emerging Adulthood" und jungem Erwachsenenalter aus Sicht der Entwicklungspyschologie (corrected) – Ulrike Sirsch
Jugendliche und Heilung – Thomas Pratsch
Adolescentia in abendländischen Quellen des frühen Mittelalters zwischen Kindheit und Erwachsensein? Ein begriffsgeschichtlicher Zugang – Hans-Werner Goetz
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S. J. Heyworth, James Morwood, A Commentary on Vergil, Aeneid 3. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xii, 327. ISBN 9780198727828. $50.00 (pb).

Reviewed by James Taylor, Harvard University (jamestaylor@fas.harvard.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

As a book that once required defending against being the 'dullest' portion of Virgil's epic, Aeneid 3 has enjoyed something of a reversal in its fortunes of late.1 The newfound enthusiasm for the third book is demonstrated by the fact that Heyworth and Morwood's commentary is the third such volume in recent years, following those of Horsfall and Perkell. 2 The ideal audience of this commentary lies between those of its two most immediate predecessors. Though Heyworth and Morwood offer translations of particularly tortuous sentences or clarify the precise use of an ablative, those students requiring more comprehensive guidance concerning syntax and grammar will be best served by Perkell. At the other end of the spectrum, Horsfall will be the natural choice for those conducting research into Virgil or needing extensive bibliography on a particular issue in Aeneid 3. The most immediate audience for Heyworth and Morwood is advanced students, who are able to read Latin competently and confidently but may be encountering Virgil for the first time, as they transition from commentaries focused more exclusively on issues of translation to ones dealing more extensively with interpretative questions, such as the "Green and Yellow" series. That being said, more advanced readers will find many useful insights within the commentary, not least its panoply of intertexts. An additional advantage for any reader is the commentary's eminent portability. For those wishing to (re)read Aeneid 3 with a companion that can travel easily and whose notes will illustrate most points of interest without disturbing the momentum of their own reading, this commentary will be an obvious choice and a welcome alternative to that of Williams, whose utility as a guide to Virgilian scholarship has inevitably been diminished by the passage of more than fifty years.3

The commentary is preceded by an introduction comprising eight sections: "Vergil's poetic career, life and times", "The Aeneid: a synopsis", "Intertexts and influences", "Style", "Contexts and themes", "Metre, scansion, and versification", "Text and transmission", and "Glossary". The introductory material assumes very little knowledge on the part of the reader and is perfectly designed for any student's first encounter with Virgil or advanced scholarship. The glossary in particular will equip students with critical tools and vocabulary not only for reading the text before them, but for reading further scholarship that takes such knowledge for granted. It is typical of the commentators' thoughtfulness that under the glossary entry for ἀπὸ κοινοῦ a pronunciation guide is included for students without Greek ("apo coenu", p. 54). Four maps following the introduction will similarly help students navigate the book's dense geographical details. Though those already familiar with Virgil may find themselves skipping over the more panoptic sections, for the most part the introductory material is well integrated into the commentary as a whole. For example, the detailed reading of Arethusa's appearance in metapoetic terms (ad 692–6, p. 261–2) is complemented by the introduction providing students with a larger sense of the Virgilian career (p. 1–10), while the exploration of exile and displacement through the figure of Meliboeus (p. 6–7) prepares the reader for the herdsman's subsequent cameos (ad 140–2, p. 123; ad 156–60, p. 128; ad 325–9, p. 169).

Since the text has been newly established by consulting critical editions, a list of emendations adopted is given in the textual introduction (p. 53), each of which receives concise and clear discussion and justification ad loc. Of the four emendations that remain after one has excluded those already adopted by Mynors or Conte, I found the replacement of rudentem with tridentem (561) and the deletion of 702 persuasive, but thought the substitution of limite for litore (419) had too flat an effect and the rejection of secundos for sacerdos (460) depended in part on too literal an understanding of the line and the Sibyl's powers. In addition to these interventions, the text has been re-punctuated several times with excellent discussion ad loc. and somewhat mixed results. For instance, though the flow of Virgil's Latin is improved by the removal of any strong stop after ventisque vocatis (253), the decision to divide lines 247–9 into two sentences robs the opening to Celaeno's indignant speech of its momentum. A similarly choppy effect is achieved by inserting a full-stop in line 10, which produces more digestible sense units but diminishes the opening's grandeur.

The third section of the introduction, "Intertexts and influences", brings onto the stage the commentary's favorite critical tool and does the necessary work of contextualizing the many authors mentioned throughout. The centrality of intertextuality is reinforced by the "Appendix of Major Intertexts" that follows the commentary and contains twenty passages, lettered A–T, from poets as diverse as Homer, Apollonius, Euripides, Pindar, Callimachus, Lucretius, Virgil himself and Ovid. Many of these intertexts contain not one but several passages: A, for example, actually comprises four excerpts from Odyssey 9. The provision of English translations for each passage, as is the case for almost all Latin and Greek within the commentary, ensures that there is no expectation for readers to know Greek as well as Latin and that students will not feel overwhelmed by finding the equivalent of another book of the Aeneid to translate at the back of their commentary. The convenience of gathering these passages together for students who are not yet habituated to hunting down a slew of cf.'s is obvious. Those disappointed that the appendix consists so uniformly of the usual suspects, a gallery of canonical poets, can be reassured that the main text of the commentary refers to a much larger cast of authors in prose and verse, ranging from predictable appearances, such as Dionysius of Halicarnassus (e.g. ad 10–12, p. 88; ad 356–462, p. 176; ad 388–93, p. 187), to those lying off the beaten track of Virgilian allusion, such as Crinagoras (ad 124–7, p. 120) or Xenophon (ad 523–4, p. 215–6: Italiam. Italiam …/Italiam = θάλαττα, θάλαττα, Anabasis 4.7.24).

The danger of this focus on intertextuality is, of course, that of slipping into a dull catalogue of parallels, but this threat is mostly avoided. Instead, the invocation of intra- and intertexts frequently contributes to nuanced readings that capture the vitality of Virgil's characters. These often elucidate small, easily missed details, as when Anchises' short but noticeable pause (haud multa moratus, 610) in responding to Achaemenides is read as a sign that he is mulling over his decision in light of Priam's deception by Sinon and as a correction of Alcinous' unreasonable pause following Odysseus' supplication in the Odyssey (ad 610–12, p. 241). A similar example of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it detail is Andromache's failure to acknowledge the son born to her as a result of her rape by Pyrrhus beyond a brief mention of labor (seruitio enixae, 327); the emotional force of that omission is effectively brought out by the comparison to Euripides' Andromache, who protects, and places all her hopes in, that same child (ad 325–9, p. 170).

That sensitivity to character can also be discerned in the persistent reminders that Aeneas is tailoring the story to his audience: the emphasis placed on the role of greed in Polydorus' tragedy is seen as a direct appeal to Dido, whose husband Sychaeus was killed for his fortune (ad 56–7, p. 100–1); the introduction of Palinurus into the epic with ipse signals his expertise to those with no pre-existing knowledge of him, i.e. the Carthaginians and first-time readers (ad 201–4, p. 137); even Aeneas' attribution of his arrival on Carthage's shores to the agency of an unspecified deus is interpreted as a piece of flattery directed towards Dido (ad 714–5, p. 268). Such readings could have been extended: in the case of hoste vacare domum sedesque astare relictas (123) we are told that this tautology communicates Aeneas' surprise (ad 121–3, p. 119). More likely it is a point worth repeating that the Trojans found Crete empty and did not engage in any aggression against an existing population, because Aeneas is seeking to assuage any doubts that Dido and the Carthaginians may have about the Trojans as colonial or piratical aggressors. The more sinister implications of such rhetoric fit well with the observation that the encounter with the Harpies provides "an alternative glimpse of the Trojans as an aggressive invading force" (ad 219–24, p. 143), since this isolated aggression comes against monsters with whom the Carthaginians are unlikely to identify.

Naturally, in any commentary there are points with which a reader disagrees or which leave them wanting more, but there were a handful of notes whose methodology gave me pause. Though an attitude of skepticism is initially adopted towards the biographical tradition (p. 1–2, less skeptical at p. 51), the description of the Sibyl's prophecies as carmina leads to an extensive comparison between the prophetess and Virgil that includes references to the Donatan life and Macrobius as evidence for Virgil's disorderly manner of composition and for the disappointment of those who wished to read or hear his poem (ad 445–7, p. 198). How far either Heyworth and Morwood would endorse these snippets as facts about the historical Virgil is unclear, as their final parallel, that of the Sortes Vergilianae, is so obviously grounded in Virgil's reception. On the following page, however, discussion of the Sibyl's lack of concern with rearranging her disrupted leaves prompts the comment that "it is tempting to see this as a depiction of despair from an author who had found his own carmina in disorder, whether physical or metaphorical" (ad 448–52, p. 199). It seems that the despair here is the reader's rather than the Sibyl's own, since she is explicitly free from bothering herself with the issue (nec… curat, 451). Whether Virgil felt such anxieties or not is impossible to deduce from his poetry, but this reading has more than a whiff of the modern academic's disordered office projected onto the poet. Unlike the Sibyl, Virgil probably had slaves or freedmen to hunt down the library of books to which he alludes and keep his notes in order. Even in biographical fictions of the wonder-poet, Virgil has a freedman called Eros to jot down ex tempore completions of half-lines (VSD 34). A similar attempt to redeem some portion of the biographical tradition seems to lurk behind a later note claiming that Andromache would have reminded Virgil's contemporaries of Octavia's grief for Marcellus (ad 300–5, p. 163). In each case one could have expected a more consistent attitude to the evidentiary value of the biographical tradition and a clearer distinction between Virgil qua historical person and Virgil as construct of his readers.

A handful of notes are, however, rather minor qualms to have with such an informative and well edited commentary. Typographical errors are extremely rare and those that I did find produced no confusion as to a sentence's meaning ('suprising', p. 119; 'pleaure', p. 196). Though English translations are usually provided immediately after block quotations of Latin or Greek in the same font size but without an indent, there is the odd inconsistency, e.g. where a translation is confined to a footnote (p. 2) or presented in brackets before the block quotation (ad 73–7, p. 107). On the whole the commentary will serve its intended audience extremely well, as well as providing much food for thought to more advanced readers. As someone who learned a great deal from Morwood's books as an undergraduate, it is a pleasure for me to recommend his final book for use with future generations of students.


1.   This now infamous description of Book 3 originates in one such defense offered by A.W. Allen (1951) "The Dullest Book of the Aeneid", CJ 47.3: 119–23.
2.   N. Horsfall (2006) Virgil, Aeneid 3. A Commentary. Brill: Leiden; C.G. Perkell (2010) Vergil. Aeneid Book 3. Focus Publishing: Newburyport, MA. Reviewed in BMCR 2007.08.47 and BMCR 2010.11.23 respectively.
3.   R.D. Williams (1962) P. Vergili Maronis Aeneidos Liber Tertius. Clarendon Press: Oxford.

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