Thursday, September 3, 2015


Sara M. Wijma, Embracing the Immigrant: The Participation of Metics in Athenian Polis Religion (5th-4th century BC). Historia - Einzelschriften, Bd 233. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014. Pp. 197. ISBN 9783515106429. €53.00.

Reviewed by Ellie Mackin, King's College London (

Version at BMCR home site


Sara M. Wijma's study, Embracing the Immigrant, tells a story of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion of individuals and groups being pulled in with one hand and pushed away with the other. This study was designed to complement work on the status of metics in Athenian society, and was a part of a larger project at Utrecht University on 'Citizenship in Classical Athens'. The aim of this particular study was to show that religious participation was an important part of overall integration for metics. An important point to note: this book is about religion and religious practice, but it feeds into a larger conversation about social cohesion, and that focus is evident throughout the work.

I have not included a Table of Contents in this review because I do not think it is a helpful tool for locating information or case studies within the work, primarily because the chapter titles do not actually indicate the content of the chapter. I will instead begin by outlining the topics covered in each of the chapters before moving on to some more general thoughts about the study.

The short preface addresses an essential question regarding community membership, and how belonging should be conceptualised. Wijma briefly talks about how her study relates to issues of inclusion, and why religion might be a useful tool to discuss inclusion. It is not essential reading, but does link this study to the wider project of which it is a part.

In the introduction 'Defining Polis Membership', Wimja begins by discussing the Athenian polis, and the shifting way that the polis is described in scholarship. She advocates inclusivity in defining the community of the polis, while still maintaining membership and (to a lesser extent perhaps) participation as a primary way of delineating 'insiders' and 'outsiders'. She then outlines the relationship between the Athenian polis and religion, primarily drawing on Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood's influential polis religion approach1 (and, to a lesser extent, the idea of religious 'embeddedness'), but without citing any of the more recent critiques of the approach. The final main section of the introduction concerns the metics's identity and why they were, as a group, important to Athens. Wijma sets this book out as a study of social inclusion and cohesion, and not as a work designed to enhance our understanding of the religious landscape of the 5th and 4th centuries. Finally, she establishes three frames of the study: festival participation, differences in metic and Athenian participation, and historical context.

The first chapter, 'The First Steps of Athenian Metoikia', focuses on the inclusion of metics in the Panathenaia procession, which represents an early stage in the development of the metic inclusion. Wijma discusses the procession generally, before going into detail on each of the specific roles which relate to metic participation and, in a sub-section aptly titled 'Honour or Humiliation?', what the outcome of metic's being 'singled out' in the procession might. She then looks at the demographic of Athenians who have a special place in the procession, and argues that the fact that metic groups mirror them (metic girls march side-by-side with Athenian girls, for example) demonstrates that this inclusion is meant to elevate the status of metics as a whole.

Chapter 2, 'Metoikia in the Second Half of the Fifth Century', examines the way that metics were included (and excluded) in some other polis festivals. These are primarily the Lenaia, the City Dionysia, and the Hephaisteia. These three 'mini-studies' create three slightly different pictures, demonstrating that there was not one uniform way that cults integrated metics. Indeed, in the case of the City Dionysia, metics were included with all other non-Athenian participants rather than being mixed with Athenians, as in the Panathenaia, or at the Lenaia, where metics could even participate in performances.

This chapter primarily deals with a time period in which metics were increasingly separated from Athenian political and judicial life, and argues that religious integration in some areas helped to maintain general metic inclusion and overall social cohesion. In this time, metics continued to be embraced by the Athenian (religious) community, but they were also required to undertake a certain amount of 'othering' to differentiate themselves from the Athenians. What Wijma presents, then, is a case of partial inclusion. This chapter also relates increasing religious participation of metics to an increase in metic participation in other aspects of life. Wijma cites, for example, the prevalence of metics in construction (43 of 110 names on the Erechthion are metic), and participation in the military (3,000 hoplites to 10,000 Athenians, for instance). At the same time, metics are losing some of their political rights ( in part because of Perikles's citizenship laws of 451/0), and we see the metic-specific demotikon in the 'oikon en-' formula for the first time. The chapter does not have its own conclusion.

In chapter 3, 'Metoikia in the Demes of Attica?', Wijma extends the concept of polis religion to the collective of the deme as an individual group and as a part of the polis system. This chapter does not detail a general overview of what Wijma calls "The Integration of Metics in the Attic Demes", but instead looks at some specific cases of the treatment of resident foreigners in deme-related contexts to create the beginning of a picture of what metic participation in deme religion could have been. She briefly details what these cases will be. Much as she does in the introduction, Wijma first sets out some basic parameters for looking at the demes, including what active deme participation looked like for foreign residents (including Athenians from other demes). The first case study for this chapter looks at the deme Skambonidai, near the classical agora, which had a significant group of foreigners. This includes evidence that metics (including the earliest extant epigraphic attestation of the plural 'metoikoi') received a share of sacrifice to local hero Leos. The second examines residents in Ikarion, where metics were included with other non-Ikarion Athenians as 'other residents'. Finally, Wijma presents the case of the Theban Damasias, an individual metic who was given exceptional honours from Eleusis, including being permitted to undertake the duties of a choregos, but without being given the official title. Overall, this chapter demonstrates that deme-level integration could be significantly more pronounced than at the polis level, and that religious honours could be bestowed as a way to honour 'outsiders' with a kind of 'deme-membership'.

I found chapter 4, 'Embracing Bendis', problematic. Here the focus shifts from the recurring theme of the rest of the book, namely that metics were simultaneously welcomed and excluded as groups and individuals, toward the Athenian inclusion of a foreign cult into its roster of polis cults in the case of the Thracian goddess, Bendis. Ultimately, this chapter does present an extension of collective integration, and demonstrates the importance of Thracian immigrants to the Athenian polis. However, Wijma assumes but does not convincingly argue that the overwhelming force behind the inclusion of Bendis's cult was Thracian metics, rather than the population of slaves, mercenaries, and others whom she mentions. Such an assumption is easily made, but in a book primarily devoted to the religious inclusion of metics in the Athenian landscape, I felt that this chapter – although interesting – was disjointed.

Primarily, this chapter looks at how the integration of the cult of Bendis was used to facilitate integration of Thracians, including the unusual decree granting the Thracians (as a group) the right to own land for the single purpose of building a shrine. Wijma again draws out the double nature of this act. The Athenians were including a Thracian divinity within their religious landscape, but were also defining and confining the limits of that specific community. It is clear, as Wijma demonstrates, that the Athenians were very thoughtful about the creation and maintenance of both the sanctuary and the festival, the Bendideia, and the struggle over whether the cult should have Athenian or Thracian priests and priestesses particularly illustrates this point. Wijma, however, might have linked this back to the problematic question of whether honour being bestowed on a foreigner through a share in Athenian hiera constituted a kind of 'semi-citizenship', rather than leaving the reader to make the connections.

The conclusion presents a synthesis of the case-studies presented in the book, and reiterates the political and social focus, rather than its religious significance. Wijma emphasises that religious participation and integration were key components of wider integration, while still acknowledging that this was only one aspect of a bigger process.

Three brief appendices list (1) vases that show scenes of metics performing typical duties, (2) the names of Choregoi, and (3) attested groups of orgeones in Attica.

A few small things to note: there are some minor issues with presentation of the text, particularly inconsistency with footnote numbers. Sometimes information placed in the footnotes is integral to the argument (for example, note 145 on p. 155 regarding Thracian orgeones not being accepted by the demes). A few passages, particularly of epigraphical material in Greek, do not have translations. For example, decrees on p. 105 and 109 are not translated. The untranslated texts are admittedly very fragmentary, and Wijma provides a description of the content (also provided for translated decrees). This, along with the numerous Greek terms that are not translated or described, limits the accessibility of this study.

There are some lengthy explanatory passages that relate interesting information, yet seem unrelated to the participation of metics in Athenian religious life. For example, on pages 86-89 Wijma discusses the age of the Hephaisteia and whether the decree of 421/0 (IG I3 82) referred to an existing festival (with possible reorganisation) or an entirely new festival. Some diversions are pertinent to her analysis (like the discussion on pages 90-91 about raw meat distribution and the effect on festival participation). This section also demonstrates that Wijma does not always take the reader with her. She shows that elements of the festival were in place before 421, but does not specifically discuss whether the decree represents wholesale 'reorganisation'. However, she then continues on from the assumption that wholesale reorganisation has been established.

This study is as much, perhaps more, about 'insiders' than it is about 'outsiders', and the emphasis is often on the way that Athenian-ness (at either the polis or deme level) is articulated, guarded, changed, or facilitated though incorporation of specific metics. These can be groups (as in the Panathenaic procession), or individuals (as the Theban Damasias in Eleusis). Wijma is quite open about this path being the 'way in' to metic participation in Athenian 5th and 4th century religious practice, but it says very little about the metics themselves. The entire final chapter seems to indiscriminately treat Theban participants in the cult of Bendis as metics, but it does not lay out how she arrives at this conclusion. Overall, though, this study is an interesting and timely contribution to both the study of Athenian religion and the place of metics within it, but also to the understanding of religion as a tool for the promotion of political, cultural, and social cohesion. Wijma's arguments are sometimes strained and links between the case-studies could be made more explicit. Nonetheless, this book is a valuable contribution.


1.   C. Sourvinou-Inwood, 'What Is Polis Religion?' and 'Further Aspects of Polis Religion' in R. Buxton (ed.), Oxford Readings in Greek Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 13-37, 38-55.

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David T. Runia, Gregory E. Sterling (ed.), Studia Philonica Annual: Studies in Hellenistic Judaism, Volume XXVI. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2014. Pp. ix, 274. ISBN 9781628370195. $51.95.

Reviewed by Matthew Kraus, University of Cincinnati (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

The Studia Philonica Annual celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary last November, a fitting indication of the flourishing state of Philonic studies and a far cry from the short-lived and less polished Studia Philonica of the 1970s. The annotated (2011) and provisional (2012-2014) bibliographies of works directly or significantly addressing Philo and eight book reviews are preceded by eight articles. The articles reflect a range of interests: philosophical/theological issues, Philo's patristic Nachleben, and a Special Section on non-biblical Hellenistic Jewish and non-Jewish sources. The conceptual and methodological sophistication of these articles appears throughout.

While all the articles are intelligent and scholarly, a few stand out. Particularly noteworthy is "The Deification of Moses in Philo of Alexandria" by M. David Litwa. Weaving together Philo's biblical and classical Greek influences, Litwa settles a long-standing conundrum about Moses. Although Philo unequivocally states at the end of The Life of Moses (Mos. 2.288) that Moses becomes a god (becoming immortal [ἀπαθαντίζεσθαι] "transforming [him] wholly and entirely into most sun-like νοῦς" [p.21]) and refers to Moses as god in accordance with Exod 7:1, recent scholars like Louis Feldman, Richard Bauckham, and Ian Scott reject Moses' deification. Eschewing the possibility that Philo violates the canons of monotheism, they read his "deification" figuratively. Litwa convincingly lays to rest these apologetic claims primarily by applying Philonic metaphysics instead of modern notions of monotheism. For Philo, then, monotheism allows for inferior deities who do not undermine God's supremacy. Utilizing Philo's concept of "noefication" (coined by Litwa), classical sources (the Neopythagorean Diotogenes), and classical motifs (the shining countenance signifies divinity) in concert with uniquely Jewish biblical conceits, Litwa rescues Philo from the straitjacket of post-Philonic theologies that relegate him to internal contradiction rather than viewing him as representative of (often underdetermined) ideologies of Second Temple Judaism.

Several pieces in the Special Section on "Philo's Hellenistic and Hellenistic Jewish Sources" also merit high praise. While the influence of Hellenistic (Jewish and non-Jewish) literature on Philo has long been recognized, the character of this relationship requires more precise understanding. David Lincicum's "Philo's Library" utilizes statistical analysis of quotations from and allusions to non-biblical authors to conclude that Philo had his own personal library and a more than elementary familiarity with Euripides, Heraclitus, Homer, Aristotle, and of course, Plato. In "From the Thick Marshes of the Nile to the Throne of God: Moses in Ezekiel the Tragedian and Philo of Alexandria," Gregory Sterling persuasively argues that Philo was familiar with (as opposed to heavily influenced by) Ezekiel's Exagoge because of several striking verbal, exegetical, and thematic parallels. For example, both have baby Moses "exposed" on the riverbank rather than in a basket. Attentiveness to generic considerations explains why Philo emphasizes the lack of Egyptian survivors from the Red Sea in response to Ezekiel, who needs a survivor to provide the traditional messenger speech. Similarly impressive is "Philo and Greek Poetry" where Pura Nieto Hernández convincingly delivers on her twofold contention that Philo saw archaic and classical Greek poetry as valuable for moral education and that his use of poetic language and motifs reflects "deep engagement with the classical tradition" (p.135). The author follows here the important work of Niehoff and Barthelot, who have demonstrated Philo's relationship to Alexandrian scholarship on Homer.1 While the idea that poetry helps educate children (Prob. 143), controls the passions (Spec. 1.343), and offers examples of behaviors to be avoided may not be surprising, I was struck by Hernández's astute observation that Philo writes poetically. Rather than pretentiously dropping a classical bon mot, Philo combines terms to produce unique poetic collocations (describing the Logos as an ἀμβρόσιον φάρμακον [Somn.2.249], based on Od. 9.359 and Od. 1.261, for instance). For those who have slogged through Philo's redundant and metaphorical Greek, this could lead to a new appreciation of his style.

The two articles dealing with patristics make strong cases for the influence and adaptation of Philo in later Christian authors. Ilaria Ramelli ("Philo's Doctrine of Apokatastasis: Philosophical Sources, Exegetical Strategies, and Patristic Aftermath") astutely explains how the concept of apokatastasis develops in Philo and Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. Apokatastasis refers to the "restoration…into an original condition" that had been lost (p. 29). Although perhaps aware of the cosmological and political valences of this term in Greek tradition, Philo's ethical reading as a restoration of the soul to Israel rests on different foundations: Greek medical and philosophical motifs of returning a sick soul to health as well as biblical references to the restoration of the Israelites to their land and verses like Ps. 34:17 "restore [ἀποκατάστησον] my soul." Origen and Gregory similarly focus on the return of the soul to virtue, but unlike Philo, they have a Pauline eschatological vision of all imperishable souls being restored to God. For Philo, evils souls can actually die. In his excellent "Philo and the Pauline: Hagar and Sarah in the Exegesis of Didymus the Blind," Justin Rogers demonstrates that Didymus is the first to combine Pauline and Philonic exegesis of the story of Sarah and Hagar. For Philo, Hagar represents the secular preliminary studies required to make virtue (Sarah) productive. For Paul, in his famous allegorical reading in Galatians, Hagar symbolizes the shadowy old covenant that is supplanted by the new (Sarah). Didymus, who explicitly refers to Paul and Philo on Hagar and Sarah, skillfully weaves together both readings anagogically. The old covenant and literal reading of Scriptures are necessary for leading the soul to virtue and the spiritual understanding of Scriptures, i.e., the Gospel.

In the final essay of the article section, "Philo and Plutarch on the Nature of God," Frederick E. Brenk seeks to locate Philo and Plutarch within the landscape of "religious monotheism" since both share a Platonic background and create a theology, one monotheistic, the other polytheistic, for their faiths. I found this rather dense essay the least satisfactory in part because the connection to Philo seemed forced. Rather, Brenk is primarily interested in arguing that Plutarch exhibits a form of pagan monotheism in a middle-Platonic vein. Because the monotheistic element of Plutarch is not self-evident, the comparison with Philo is not fruitful and the argument difficult to follow. For example, in discussing On the E at Delphi as expressing the "clearest and most extreme views in Plutarch's corpus" (p.85), Brink cites a reference to "powers" similar to Philo without indicating that it comes from On Isis and Osiris (the citation is simply 377F-378A). In fact, the essay is more of an idiosyncratic reading of Ammonius's speech in On the E at Delphi that confuses monotheism with monadism. Ammonius is not suggesting that Apollo is veiling the demiurge, but rather explicitly claiming that despite his many epithets Apollo is one unified entity (a-pollo 'not multiple'). In this sense, the comparison with Philo actually reminded me more of Litwa's description of Moses's deification as a monadic "noefication" that does not subvert Jewish monotheism.

The last piece in the Special Section was also somewhat problematic. In "The Sun and the Chariot: The Republic and the Phaedrus as Sources for Rival Platonic Paradigms of Psychic Vision in Philo's Biblical Commentaries," Michael Cover uses Platonic sources to answer the question of whether the sage sees God, the Logos, God's powers or some combination. He rightly observes that scholarly focus on the use of the Republic tends to confirm divine transcendence whereas the underinvestigated Phaedrean image of the chariot soul in Philo (Leg. 3.100-101) suggests the possibility of an "unmediated image of God" (p.154). The problem is that Leg. 3.100-101 has the unmediated vision, but lacks the chariot imagery, in contrast to the far more explicit reference to Phaedrus in Praem. 36-46, in which Philo refers to the charioteer but also argues that God cannot be perceived. While Cover is probably correct that a vision of God need not depend on the Logos, Platonic chariot imagery is not Philo's source. Rather, as Cover himself argues, the difference in Philo depends on the biblical character being discussed. For the more typical Israelite (Jacob), the vision of the divine is mediated, but not so for Moses. In fact, rather than resorting to Plato, I think that Litwa's article, which highlights Philo's particular understanding of Moses's uniqueness, offers a far more compelling explanation for why Moses directly sees God.

Normally, one does not expect articles in a periodical to have such complementary connections, which often elude even intentionally thematic collections of essays. Yet the natural interplay between Litwa and Cover is not unusual in this volume. Hernández's "Philo and Greek Poetry" correlates well with Lincicum's and Sterling's articles, which similarly argue for Philo's more than passing engagement with non-biblical and non-philosophical writers. Both Ramelli and Rogers show how Patristic authors rework Philo in a way that is exegetically informed by the New Testament. The influence of medical traditions on apokatastasis (Ramelli) complements the characterization of Philo as engaged in Alexandrian Greek culture (Sterling and Hernández). The editors, in fact, should be commended for bringing together a number of pieces that make sense together.

I do have a few minor quibbles. While the Greek is translated throughout the Annual, it was strange that Ramelli left the Latin quotation of the 4th/5th century Greek theologian Theodore of Mopsuestia (preserved in Marius Mercator) untranslated and unexplained (one would not expect all readers to recognize Mercator as his 5th century contemporary who translated excerpts in his Symbolum Theodori Mopsuesteni et eius Refutatio).2 Also, it would have been useful for Hernández on p.138 to draw on Kamesar, who shows that Philo viewed the Pentateuch as a didactic work wholly different from Greek myth and therefore subject to allegory for educational purposes not simply to "heal" the text from ethically inappropriate narratives. This would help account for the puzzling contrast between Philo's differentiation of false Greek myth from Moses' truthful Pentateuch, and would explain the application of allegory, a Greek response to unacceptable myths, to clarify the Bible.3

Despite some weaker pieces, the Annual as a whole is a quality publication. The bibliographies are quite helpful and even the book reviews deserve special mention. Kudos to the editors for including the critical remarks of John J. Collins on Sarah J. K. Pearce's recent book on Deuteronomy in the Second Temple period even though she happens to be associate editor of Annual. Ultimately, the Annual adheres to its vision of comprehensively and critically addressing all aspects of Philonic scholarship. While individual pieces will primarily appeal to the relevant specialists in Hellenistic Judaism, middle-Platonic philosophy, and Patristics, this most recent edition of the Studia Philonica Annual will provide ample sustenance for the "philo-Philonist." For those who prefer their Classical philology, history, and philosophy seasoned with a dose of post-modern theory, they may find the volume somewhat lacking. For this reader, however, Philo himself provides enough abstraction to supplement the currently fashionable diet of meta-thinking.


1.   Maren R. Niehoff, Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Katell Berthelot, "Philon d'Alexandrie, lecteur d' Homère: quelques elements de réflexion," in Prolongements et renouvellements de la tradition classique, (eds. Anne Balansard, Gilles Dorival, Mireille Loubet; Textes et documents de la Méditerranée antique et medieval; Aix-en Provence: Université de Provence, 2011), pp. 145-157.
2.   Ramelli also omits Mercator's et post paululum after inferatur, thereby obscuring that there are two quotations from Theodore, not one.
3.   Adam Kamesar, 'The Literary Genres of the Pentateuch as Seen from the Greek Perspectives: The Testimony of Philo Alexandria,' Studia Philonica Annual (1997), pp. 143-189 and "Biblical Interpretation in Philo" in the Cambridge Companion to Philo, edited by Adam Kamesar, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp.74-81.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Loredana Mantovanelli, Scribonio Largo: Ricette mediche. Traduzione e commento. Padova: S.A.R.G.O.N. Editrice e Libreria, 2012. Pp. cxxix, 256. ISBN 9788895672274. €50.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Giulia Ecca, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (

Version at BMCR home site

Il libro di Mantovanelli è una traduzione italiana, accompagnata dal testo latino a fronte e da un'ampia introduzione, delle Compositiones di Scribonio Largo, medico attivo probabilmente a Roma nella prima età imperiale (I sec. d. C.). Le Compositiones sono l'unica opera a noi pervenuta di Scribonio e sono strutturate in due parti: a un'Epistola prefatoria, che l'autore indirizza al liberto imperiale Caio Giulio Callisto, segue la raccolta di ben 271 ricette di vario genere, in parte lacunosa.

L'introduzione al testo si apre con un breve capitolo sulla vita di Scribonio Largo, di cui si sa poco, e sulle Compositiones (pp. VII–XV). Mantovanelli espone poi in una serie di capitoli introduttivi delle analisi tecniche sulle ricette (pp. XVII–XXXIII), rivelando così i suoi interessi di carattere strettamente medico: a un indice delle patologie trattate da Scribonio, seguono delle pagine sull'origine, sulla struttura e sul contenuto delle ricette raccolte nell'opera. Nei capitoli successivi (pp. XXXV–CXXIX) Mantovanelli presenta altre schede tecniche sugli ingredienti usati nelle ricette. Dapprima è presentata la scheda di identificazione delle piante, in cui il nome della pianta usato nelle Compositiones è accompagnato dal corrispondente nome scientifico latino e dalla sua traduzione italiana. Segue poi l'ampia scheda che elenca in ordine alfabetico tutte le piante menzionate da Scribonio, di cui Mantovanelli traccia l'origine geografica e la diffusione, i componenti principali, l'azione farmacologica e il rispettivo impiego nelle Compositiones.

Il testo latino e la traduzione italiana occupano la maggior parte del volume (pp. 1–251) e sono corredati da qualche nota esegetica ai termini tecnici, tra i quali principalmente figurano gli ingredienti delle ricette. Il testo latino presentato non è frutto del lavoro filologico di Mantovanelli, bensì si basa sull'ottima edizione di Sconocchia, pubblicata per la collana Teubner nel 1983.

Il volume si chiude con la bibliografia delle opere di letteratura primaria e secondaria (non distinte l'una dall'altra) citate.

Quello di Mantovanelli è un lavoro molto utile e prezioso per chi si avvicina all'opera di Scribonio Largo per due motivi principali: l'uno è la meritevole traduzione italiana del testo latino, l'altro è l'attenzione scientifica dedicata alle ricette mediche.

Dell'opera di Scribonio Largo esistono pochissime traduzioni moderne. In inglese è stata tradotta da Hamilton nel 1986 ("Scribonius Largus on the medical profession", opera citata da Mantovanelli) la sola Epistola prefatoria. Mi risulta che in francese ci sia una tesi di dottorato discussa nel 2000 ma non ancora edita di Jouanna-Bouchet, che presenta un'edizione con traduzione e commento dell'opera. In tedesco fu tradotta per intero l'opera nel 1913 da W. Schonack, che alla traduzione affiancò anche uno studio degli ingredienti usati nelle ricette: Die Rezepte des Scribonius Largus. Zum ersten Male vollständig ins Deutsche übersetzt und mit ausführlichem Arzneimittelregister versehen; singoli passi delle Compositiones sono stati tradotti nel 1994 da J. Kollesch e D. Nickel in Antike Heilkunst: Ausgewählte Texte aus den medizinischen Schriften der Griechen und Römer. Tra le traduzioni in italiano si può menzionare l'unico precedente di Aldo Marsili del 1956, Scribonio Largo. Ricette. Prefazione, testo latino, traduzione italiana e note. Tuttavia Marsili offriva una traduzione italiana molto lacunosa, rispetto alla quale l'attento lavoro di Mantovanelli rappresenta un considerevole salto di qualità.

Ancor più notevole è il secondo punto di forza del presente libro, vale a dire l'attenzione prestata al lato tecnico, strettamente medico-farmacologico, del testo trattato. Tale attenzione è tutt'altro che scontata sia tra gli studiosi di storia della medicina antica sia tra i filologi, e perciò tanto più apprezzabile. Mantovanelli, valendosi del fondamentale lavoro di J. André del 1985 Les noms de plantes dans la Rome antique, ha identificato la maggior parte delle piante usate nelle ricette scriboniane e ne ha spiegato i modi e i fini di somministrazione. Essa è riuscita così nel proposito, dichiarato nell'introduzione, di mostrare come i preparati farmacologici di Scribonio risultino per lo più in linea con alcuni interventi terapeutici validi ancora al giorno d'oggi. Nel leggere il libro si evince chiaramente la formazione medica di Mantovanelli, che, dapprima Primario Ospedaliero presso la Facoltà di Medicina dell'Università di Padova, ha poi conseguito la laurea in Lettere e Filosofia e successivamente il dottorato all'Università di Verona.

Venendo invece ai punti deboli del lavoro, occorre purtroppo notare alcune rilevanti lacune. Mantovanelli ha focalizzato il suo studio esclusivamente sulle Compositiones di Scribonio, ma si sente la mancanza di un'indagine di più ampio respiro, che collochi l'opera di Scribonio nel contesto storico-culturale in cui è nata e in rapporto alle varie dottrine mediche della prima età imperiale. Mantovanelli si limita a citare sporadicamente dei confronti con autori latini come Celso e Plinio, ma sono pressoché assenti i riferimenti all'amplissima e imprescindibile letteratura medica – e in particolare farmacologica – in lingua greca, sia precedente sia contemporanea a Scribonio. Moltissimi degli ingredienti menzionati nelle Compositiones si ritrovano infatti altrove applicati in ricette simili per le stesse patologie e per questo motivo sarebbe stata necessaria l'analisi delle fonti a cui attinse Scribonio. Alcuni ingredienti si trovano ad es. nei testi ginecologici del Corpus Hippocraticum, tra i quali figurano i libri De mulierum morbis I e II. Manca anche quasi completamente la menzione di Galeno, che pure è una fonte assai preziosa per lo studio della farmacologia antica; Mantovanelli omette inoltre di segnalare che alcune ricette di Scribonio Largo sono preservate in citazioni galeniche: si vedano ad es. le citazioni nel De compositione medicamentorum secundum locos (Kühn XII 683,11–12; ibidem 764,4–5; 774,3–4; XIII 51,8–14; ibidem 67,8; 98,13; 99,11–12; 284,1–2) e nel De compositione medicamentorum per genera (Kühn XIII 737,15–16; ibidem 930,8–9). Troppo sporadici sono anche i riferimenti a uno dei più importanti scrittori di testi farmacologici dell'antichità: Dioscoride Pedanio, autore del De materia medica.

Ci si sarebbe aspettati due parole in più sulla tradizione dell'opera (discussa alle pp. IX–X): l'autrice menziona il codice di Toledo omettendone persino la segnatura (Toletanus 98.12), pur essendo esso testimone unico scoperto da Sconocchia, che ne diede notizia nell'articolo del 1976 "Novità mediche latine in un codice di Toledo", in RFIC 104, 257–269, articolo non citato affatto da Mantovanelli.

Le pagine di bibliografia sono infine molto scarne (appena quattro pagine: pp. 253–256) e si notano delle gravi mancanze. Tra le varie omissioni di Mantovanelli bisogna menzionare alcuni fondamentali lavori sulla farmacologia antica: C. Fabricius, Galens Exzerpte aus älteren Pharmakologen, Berlin – New York 1972 su Galeno; L. M. V. Totelin, Hippocratic Recipes. Oral and Written Transmission of Pharmacological Knowledge in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Greece, Leiden 2009 sulle opere del Corpus Hippocraticum. Altrettanto grave appare l'assenza del riferimento a quello che tuttora resta lo studio più importante sull'Epistola prefatoria delle Compositiones, quello di K. Deichgräber, Professio medici. Zum Vorwort des Scribonius Largus, Mainz 1950. In generale la letteratura secondaria in lingua tedesca sembra non essere stata presa in considerazione da Mantovanelli: insieme a Deichgräber e Fabricius è stato omesso anche il libro (già citato sopra) di Schonack, che analizzò le ricette raccolte nelle Compositiones. Sulla vita e sulle opere di Scribonio si noti infine un'imprecisione: Mantovanelli ha scambiato il nome per il cognome, citando B. Barry invece di B. Baldwin, autore del contributo "The career and works of Scribonius Largus", in Rheinisches Museum 135, 1992, 74–82.

Nonostante queste lacune, il libro di Mantovanelli ha tuttavia complessivamente il merito di offrire una buona traduzione italiana dell'opera di Scribonio Largo, che finora era rimasta un desideratum negli studi, e di dare delle utili informazioni tecniche sulle ricette raccolte nelle Compositiones. Il volume si presenta così anche per i non classicisti come uno strumento assai utile per affrontare la lettura dell'opera scriboniana.

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Jerry Toner, The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino: Understanding the Roman Games. Witness to ancient history. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2014. Pp. 136. ISBN 9781421415864. $19.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Matthieu Soler, Université Toulouse II (

Version at BMCR home site


Premier tome de la série Witness to ancient history, cet ouvrage est soigné, doté de sept illustrations non commentées et insuffisamment légendées ; de cent-vingt pages découpées en un prologue, six parties, un épilogue ; de remerciements ; de cent-vingt notes de fin renvoyant aux textes anciens ; de suggestions de lecture ; d'un index. Les remerciements nous informent qu'il s'agit d'un ouvrage dédié au grand public afin de fournir une lecture moderne et sans jugement des jeux de l'arène. L'auteur propose également de présenter quelques idées nouvelles au monde académique. Ce projet est soutenu par une riche bibliographie commentée d'une cinquantaine d'ouvrages anglo-saxons ne mentionnant toutefois pas les excellents travaux archéologiques menés en Grande-Bretagne.1 Celle-ci, ouvrage de vulgarisation oblige, est adressée à un lectorat grand public anglophone qui trouvera là une bonne introduction aux principales questions soulevées par les scientifiques, et non une synthèse globale des connaissances les plus récentes sur le monde de l'amphithéâtre.

La nouvelle lecture annoncée par l'auteur est d'abord prise à contre pied, l'introduction débutant par une présentation lyrique des poncifs connus du public. Ils sont ensuite questionnés en remettant en perspective la validité du témoignage de Dion Cassius, annoncé comme la source principale. Pourtant cet auteur ne dit presque rien de ces jeux, excepté que l'empereur avait tué de ses mains des hippopotames, des éléphants, des rhinocéros et une girafe sans rien nous dire des conditions de ces mises en scènes (D.C. 72.10). Toner pose ensuite la question, omniprésente dans toute la littérature anglo-saxone, « Pourquoi les Romains s'amusaient à assister au massacre d'animaux et à regarder des hommes se battre jusqu'à la mort ? », pour la déconstruire en montrant avec raison qu'elle n'a pas de sens et qu'il faut comprendre la société romaine de l'intérieur et non en y projetant nos jugements et fantasmes. En fin de compte, comme il le rappelle à la dernière ligne de la conclusion : « Trying to understand why Commodus thought it was a good idea to kill a rhino can help us see just how complex and important an institution the games really were in the Roman world. » Cette même méthodologie est appliquée dans l'ouvrage : Toner donne un poncif, ou expose une source partiale, puis, au bout de quelques pages, appelle à la prudence ou déconstruit l'image de départ.

Le premier chapitre, « Commodus's Great Games », s'ouvre et se clôt sur une description colorée de la violence et des excès des jeux de Commode, tirée essentiellement d'Hérodien qui n'est pourtant pas cité (Hérodien, I, 47). Il souligne que la venatio ouvrant les jeux s'inscrit dans une tradition ancienne où Rome manifeste sa domination sur la nature elle-même. Toner utilise ensuite cet exemple pour rappeler de manière vivante, parfois trop imaginative, le déroulement normal des jeux : le dernier repas des gladiateurs, la procession, le sacrifice, l'affichage du programme, la diffusion de parfum, les loteries, les chasses, les exécutions, les mises en scènes mythologiques (qui ne sont pas toujours des mises à mort contrairement à ce qui est dit), et enfin les combats de gladiateurs. La description des combats de gladiateurs laisse perplexe tant l'auteur ne prend pas en compte les profondes avancées des connaissances dans ce domaine ces quinze dernières années, notamment concernant les règles de combat, les types de gladiateurs et les façons de les organiser par paires. Cela est dû aux sources littéraires utilisées par l'auteur confronté là à une des difficultés majeures de toute étude sur l'amphithéâtre : le risque de généralisation de scènes décrites par des auteurs tardifs.

Le deuxième chapitre, « When in Commodiana », s'attache à répondre à la question : Si la venatio est une norme, Commode est-il le premier empereur à s'être ainsi donné en spectacle ? Toner discute ici le point de vue des sources sur ce règne. Il y a là une excellente démonstration d'une vulgarisation de qualité, sérieuse, montrant la maîtrise qu'a l'auteur des sources littéraires et les transmettant efficacement au lecteur, avec toutes les mises en garde de rigueur. L'auteur remarque avec justesse que Commode était prêt à régner, sans contestation. L'empereur étant jeune, la situation politique tendue, faite de tensions entre le sénat et la famille impériale, et même à l'intérieur de celle-ci, a pu rendre Commode vulnérable et sa réaction aurait alors été un excès d'autorité pour lutter contre ses ennemis. Opposé au sénat, l'empereur devient populiste, développant une relation privilégiée avec le peuple à travers les jeux. Il refonde Rome et donne à sa figure une valeur divine en s'associant à Hercule. Les analyses que nous pouvons faire de ces faits, en repartant des sources, ne nous donnent pas de réponses car leur valeur est trop limitée.

Le troisième chapitre, « An Emperor Loves His People », revient sur les moments d'impopularité de l'administration impériale et notamment sur le cas de Cléandre. Le peuple se plaint alors des excès de l'affranchi lors des jeux, car les jeux sont le moment privilégié où l'empereur et le peuple peuvent communiquer. Ce n'est pas seulement le peuple, c'est le populus organisé hiérarchiquement dans l'amphithéâtre qui reçoit le message de l'empereur et qui, parfois, peut faire passer ses revendications. L'amphithéâtre rend possible cet échange et c'est pourquoi il est normal de dépenser autant de ressources dans cette institution centrale de la politique et de la culture romaine. Ce chapitre remet utilement en contexte des jeux qui ne sont pas seulement un amusement, l'otium étant une notion hautement plus complexe à saisir. L'auteur reprend ici avec efficacité les grandes lignes de l'argumentaire de ses précédents ouvrages.

Le quatrième chapitre, « Feeding the Monster », se concentre sur l'organisation des jeux dont l'auteur nous dit, en généralisant de façon un peu maladroite le calendrier de 354 ap. J.-C., qu'ils se tenaient pendant dix jours au moment des Saturnalia. Capture et transport des animaux, recrutement et entraînement des combattants, publicité, décors, mise en scène, construction de l'édifice : tout cela exige une organisation logistique et législative complexe et de plus en plus coûteuse. Cela ne veut pourtant pas nécessairement dire que les jeux de l'amphithéâtre aient été la cause de l'éradication d'espèces entières comme le dit Toner. En revanche il est bon de rappeler qu'un gladiateur est cher, et encore plus cher s'il est mutilé ou tué, et donc que les mises à mort n'étaient pas systématiques. Par contre on se demande bien comment l'auteur peut estimer que plus de 2% des jeunes hommes de l'empire étaient gladiateurs.

Le cinquième chapitre, « Win the Crowd », s'intéresse à la composition du public et à la part de celui-ci que souhaite séduire l'empereur. Il est vrai, si l'on en croit Calpurnius Siculus, que bien souvent les élites romaines devaient occuper l'immense majorité des sièges, peut-on pour autant généraliser comme le fait Toner ? Rien n'est moins sûr, surtout dans les amphithéâtres de provinces, et là est sans doute un des problèmes de toute étude sur l'amphithéâtre : les sources parlent de Rome. Pourtant il n'est pas certain que l'amphithéâtre devienne systématiquement un « microcosm of respectable society ». Cette foule est d'humeur variable et, ne pouvant plus voter aux assemblées, elle fait sentir cette humeur lors des jeux, mais sans jamais remettre le régime en cause. Ces gens sont des experts et des passionnés des jeux, attendant un spectacle de qualité, sans être nécessairement des hommes vicieux plein de haine et vouant un culte psychotique à la violence. Les analyses sur la place des jeux dans la société romaine nous ont paru les pages les plus pertinentes de l'ouvrage présentant, dans toute leur complexité et avec une grande clarté, les relations sociales et les processus d'autoreprésentation en jeu dans et autour des lieux de spectacle. Les jeux dramatisent les traits de la civilisation romaine et les rendent visibles. Par exemple, l'attitude du gladiateur entraîné à accepter la mort sans trahir aucune émotion est un trait caractéristique de cette société, mettant à distance l'image de la violence. Toner souligne avec justesse que cette vision du monde devait varier selon les contextes géographiques et sociaux-culturels, ajoutons aussi qu'elle change dans le temps, ce que ce livre ne prend sans doute pas assez en compte.

Le sixième chapitre, « How to Be a Roman », revient sur les questions d'identité. Les acteurs des jeux sont des infâmes au banc de la société, mais ils sont aussi des exemples de vertu. Les jeux deviennent ainsi un moyen pour les Romains de construire un sentiment d'appartenance à une communauté régie par ses hiérarchies, ses règles, sa culture. C'est ce qui fait que les Romains considéraient les jeux comme un trait de civilisation, une bonne chose. Cela permet de démontrer les valeurs militaires romaines : discipline, self-control, aptitudes, intelligence, expérience, courage.

Enfin, l'épilogue, « Fighting Back » s'ouvre sur une paraphrase de six pages du martyre de Perpétue à Carthage, dix ans après la mort de Commode. Celle-ci présente la vision de Perpétue, qui décrit un concours grec récemment donné à Carthage, et le martyr qui a lieu dans l'amphithéâtre.6 Toner souligne avec justesse que les chrétiens n'ont pas choisis innocemment ce lieu de pouvoir symbolique pour manifester leur opposition au pouvoir romain. Malgré la rareté de ces persécutions, les auteurs modernes et contemporains ont modelé notre vision négative des combats de l'arène en reprenant, hors de tout contexte, les rares critiques de l'élite romaine tels Sénèque et Juvénal, et les pères de l'Église et les actes des martyrs, réduisant le monde complexe de l'amphithéâtre à la plus simple expression d'une brutalité primitive.

Les réserves que nous avons émises concernent avant tout des approximations et des raccourcis parfois peu judicieux, et peu étayés par les sources. Ceux-ci sont sans doute inhérents au processus de vulgarisation visant à s'ouvrir au plus large public. Cela étant il me paraît y avoir deux écueils majeurs : ponctuellement l'auteur développe des analyses dépassées depuis des années par l'historiographie ; et, parfois, Toner a tendance à généraliser les sources ce qui tend à gommer les profondes évolutions qu'a connues le monde des spectacles romains sur six à dix siècles d'existence. Le point le plus réussit est l'attention constante portée aux spectateurs, à leurs ressentis. Ce livre demeure, surtout dans les chapitres II, III et V, un bon exercice de vulgarisation et les lecteurs néophytes y trouveront une riche introduction au monde de l'amphithéâtre et sortiront de leur lecture avec une vision beaucoup plus juste et nuancée que celle issue de nos fantasmes contemporains sur le monde romain.


1.   N.C.W. Bateman, London Roman's Amphitheatre, Londres, 2011.
2.   Depuis G. Ville, La gladiature en Occident des origines à la mort de Domitien, Rome, 1981, de grands corpus ont été réunis par les Italiens (la série Epigrafia anfiteatrale dell'Occidente romano), les Allemands ont travaillé sur les gladiateurs et le décor, l'architecture et l'implantation des amphithéâtres (M. Junkelmann, Das Spiel mit dem Tod, so kämpfen Roms Gladiatoren, Mainz, 2000 et T. Hufschmid, Amphitheatrum in Provincia et Italia, Augst, 2009), tout comme les Espagnols (J. Beltrán Fortes et J.M. Rodríguez Hidalgo, Italica. Espacios de culto en el anfitéatro, Séville, 2004).
3.   L. Robert, « Une vision de Perpétue martyre à Carthage en 203 », CRAI, 1982, 126.2, p. 228-276.

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Jens M. Daehner, Kenneth Lapatin (ed.), Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015. Pp. 368. ISBN 9781606064399. $65.00.

Reviewed by Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Bryn Mawr College (

Version at BMCR home site


Among traveling exhibitions of recent years, the one accompanied by the eponymous catalogue under review (simultaneously published in English and Italian) must rank as one of the best and most significant. Sponsored by the Bank of America, and with the collaboration of authorities in several countries (primarily Italy and Greece), the show opened in Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, on March 14, until June 21, 2015. It is now in Los Angeles, at the J. Paul Getty Museum (July 28-November 1) and will end at The National Gallery in Washington, D.C. (December 6, 2015-March 20, 2016).

Because the genesis of the book is the Exhibition, yet the result is far too heavy to be carried around on inspection, I focus on the catalogue, with notes often referencing the various essays where relevant.

The volume begins with a List of Lenders (34 museums in 13 countries on four continents), a Foreword signed by the directors of the three exhibition galleries and the Archaeological Soprintendente for Tuscany, lengthy "Acknowledgments" by the two editors (both Associate Curators at the Getty Museum and well-published scholars), and a wonderful Map showing the findspots of the exhibits, with anchor symbols marking underwater discoveries. Eleven essays follow, pertinent to issues of Hellenistic bronzes and assigned to some of the best-known specialists in the field. The Catalogue proper, which includes some spectacular and famous masterpieces, is divided into six thematic sections comprising 55 entries by various authors— many of them by either of the editors and a few by three contributors to the essays.1 An Appendix (prepared by J. Maish) lists the alloy compositions of 22 of the exhibits. A lengthy Bibliography, information about the essay writers, an Index, and "Illustration Credits" conclude the volume. The last item deserves special attention, because scattered throughout the book wonderful photographs supplement and complement the catalogued items, thus making this publication a stunning visual pleasure—indeed, its entire layout seems formatted to privilege the images, with half pages often left empty of text.

Yet this is far from being a typical "coffee-table" book. Both the essays and the individual entries—especially the latter—break new ground and advance new theories, with a laudable objectivity that can occasionally counterbalance the natural tendency to identify facial features as portraits of specific personages, or to attribute works to the hand of major masters.2 Dates, with few exceptions, are correspondingly wide-ranging, for some items encompassing more than one century.3 Moreover, the meaning of "Hellenistic" oscillates between chronology (traditionally 323-31 BC) and modes of expression, thus allowing for the inclusion of a coin with a bust of the Emperor Nero,4 and of some Etruscan and Roman subjects as well as Roman "creations".5

Not all catalogued bronzes are life-size or over. Nine are statuettes, but look monumental in their pose and appearance in large photographs without measuring scale, and contribute to define expressive tendencies of the period. A few are even anomalous in their mixture of styles, in which Greek elements mingle with foreign traits and techniques, as in two door attachments from Yemen showing Erotes riding felines.6 Noteworthy are also a head and hand of Aphrodite from Satala (formerly Armenia), a male torso from Vani (Republic of Georgia), and the statue of a boy from Hierapetra (Crete), an island that has yielded this sole intact bronze for the period.7

Quite impressive are the early dates of discovery for most pieces, the earliest being that of the famous Spinario (Cat. 54) "first documented in the eleventh century." Several items once belonged to the Medici or other collections (15th, 16th, 17th centuries), a few of more uncertain provenience were still acquired during the 19th century and only two entries (Cat. 11 and 30) cite no origin. Some of the more recent finds (2004) are the bronzes rescued from the sea (e.g., Cat. 14) and the extraordinary head of an Odrysian ruler, Seuthes III, excavated from the Golyama Kosmatka tumulus in modern Bulgaria (Cat. 9).8

Among the 10 (perhaps 11) underwater finds included in the Catalogue, two are still unpublished: Cat. 5, a male head wearing the kausia, perhaps a portrait, and Cat. 14, the headless statue of a young man, but several other little-known discoveries from the Aegean are discussed and illustrated in the important essay by G. Koutsouflakis and A. Simosi.9

Three marine finds validate one of the most important purposes of the entire exhibition: the easy replication of bronze types and therefore their relative lack of "originality" in our sense of the term—a position long championed by the foundational research of Carol Mattusch—and here exemplified by comparative display.10 The first item—the Herm of Dionysos from the Mahdia shipwreck (Cat. 45) signed by Boethos of Kalchedon, is shown for the first time side by side with a very similar herm now in the Getty Museum (Cat. 46). Although the latter seems less sharp, less elaborate than the former, analysis of both alloys has demonstrated their connection, with inclusion of unusual trace elements that goes beyond any possible coincidence. The Getty herm must therefore be attributed to the same workshop, perhaps even the same pour that created the signed specimen.11 A second unprecedented juxtaposition places Cat. 47, the Apollo found in 1832 off the coast of Piombino (Italy), next to the basically similar servant-statue, Cat. 48, excavated in 1977 from the House of Gaius Iulius Polybius in Pompeii. In a forthcoming publication by N. Badoud, the Piombino bronze will be considered a votive offering to Athena Lindia on Rhodes, but several of its details may still suggest that it was meant as an ancient forgery. The Pompeian statue joins a group of comparable adolescent figures with utilitarian purposes, popular in wealthy Roman villas, to which tentatively even the famous Marathon Boy in Athens, usually considered Praxitelean, may be added.12

The third example offers the most spectacular comparison of all. The bronze athlete (Cat. 41) found in the Northern Adriatic Sea near Croatia in 1997/1999 was immediately recognized as a replica of the so-called Apoxyomenos (Cat. 40) found at Ephesos in 1896, whose many fragments were recomposed into a complete figure on the basis of a marble replica in Florence (Cat. 43). 13 The almost intact statue in Zagreb has also served to rehabilitate a bronze head in Fort Worth (Cat.42) which had been considered a Renaissance work because of later restorations, now removed. Beyond a long history that attests its existence since the 16th century, the method of attachment of this head—along a line running from the nape to the underside of the chin—is duplicated in the Croatian athlete, yet was unknown to early Italian artists.

The three bronze heads have a distinctive rendering of the short curls across the forehead, as if brushed down by a sweaty hand, thus confirming the faithfulness of each to the same prototype. On the evidence of the complete bodies, several more replicas of the type have been tentatively identified, all in stone: five in reduced version and five at full scale, one of which (Cat. 44), in Egyptian basanite, imitates the shiny dark surface of aged or patinated bronze.14 Given the apparent popularity of this athletic type, as against the single known marble version of the Vatican Apoxyomenos, Mattusch now suggests that the Ephesos/Croatia prototype should be identified with Lysippos' celebrated creation.15 If accepted, this proposition raises an interesting point about the almost Polykleitan stance of the bronzes, as contrasted with the rotating pose of the Vatican figure that has given rise to much speculation about Lysippan torsion.

The chronology suggested for the Roman use of basanite adds its contribution to recent studies of quarries in antiquity and their implication for the dating of sculpture.16 Analyses of alloys and casting techniques are equally important, but much depends on the types of technology used by the various laboratories, the selection of the samples, and the possibility that bronze, so easily and repeatedly melted down, mixed and reused, may produce an unclear picture. Hence the cautious warnings prefacing the Appendix in this volume, and especially the important essay by A. Giumlia Mair, "Techno-Chronology? Alloy Composition and the Use of Technical Features for the Dating of Ancient Bronzes" (pp. 166-81). Beyond the authoritative assertions that the Chimaera of Arezzo is a "Greek" bronze datable to the late 5th/early 4th century BC (p. 168),and the Capitoline She-Wolf is Medieval (p. 172), a startling statement is that the choice of alloys without or with small amounts of lead, contrary to previous theories, is a chronological characteristic of early bronzes—Greek, Italic, or Roman—and not a regional one (p. 169), with a shift in tradition toward increasing lead amounts occurring around 400 BC.

The rest of that essay contains many useful diagnostic technical details about gilding, wall thickness, joining, repairs, patches, rendering of eyes, and mounting. Here I personally miss a reference to the peculiar practice of casting a (supporting) foot in two halves and even an omitted toe (to be added later)—a practice attested as early as the late 5th century BC in some bronzes from the Porticello wreck but persisting until at least well into the Imperial period, as attested by the bronzes from the Sebasteion in Boubon. 17

Personal research interests compel me also to single out the outstanding essay by C.H. Hallett "Looking Back: Archaic and Classical Bronzes of the Hellenistic Period" (pp. 126-49). Its author had already devoted some attention to definition of styles. 18 He now confronts the predilection for retrospective renderings in the first century BC-first century AD, with an illuminating insight: that the Romans did not make our modern distinction between Archaic and Early Classical renderings, considering both stylistic phases a continuum. Their demands could thus result in works that to us appear eclectic or hard to pin down as copies of genuine earlier originals, since they borrow traits and polychromy preferences from different phases. Mentioning the judgments of ancient sources about the relative hardness of renderings, and borrowing A. Stewart's expression of the "hardness scale," Hallett compares the famous Herculaneum "Dancers" to fifth-century Greek mirror supports, and lists many other works that cross the thin line between genuine creations in retrospective style and actual forgeries to be passed on as bona fide antiques—a practice attested even in the creation of pseudo-history at the time.19 He ends with emphasizing the predilection for bronze copies and ornaments in Roman villas as attested by contemporary wall paintings (figs. 9.11-12) and by describing two gems in Archaizing-Classicizing style (figs. 9.9-10) one of which, in particular, tempts me once again to rehash one of my unpopular theories: that at least the head of Riace Warrior A should be seen as part of this retrospective tendency in late Hellenistic times.20

As it happens, the essay following Hallett's— A. Descamps-Lequime, "The Color of Bronze. Polychromy and the esthetics of Bronze Surfaces," (pp.150-65)— has a photograph of Riace A's head (fig. 10.3; also fig. 2.1 on p.34) that well shows the "terribility" of what seems almost a mask rather than a human face. The entire essay mentions nothing else truly comparable, not even, perhaps,the entire statue of the Seated Boxer in the Terme (Cat.18, with detail photograph on p. 13), but it makes many useful points emphasizing the flexibility of what would seem to be a single-color medium.

Last but by no means least, I must acknowledge the two not-yet-mentioned essays. A. Stewart's "Why Bronze?" (pp. 34-47) recounts ancient myths about metals and tackles the difficult task of evaluating the expenses and profits of bronze works in Hellenistic centuries, while promising more comments on sculptors' wealth in a forthcoming study. G. Adornato's contribution "Aletheia/Veritas: The New Canon," (pp. 48-59) uses ancient sources, especially the much-discussed epigram by Poseidippos of Pella, to illuminate a specific new direction in Hellenistic depiction of human forms: the tendency toward "truth."

At the end of this length survey of the entire volume, this reviewer would urge interested readers to revisit the first essay, by J. M. Daehner and K. Lapatin. They will acquire a renewed understanding of this multifaceted period in ancient art.


1.   See p. 15 for a complete list of all contributors. Not all items in the catalogue are shown at each venue (p. 4); omitted are: at Palazzo Strozzi, Cat.7, 9, 12, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28, 41; at the Getty Museum, Cat. 8, 19, 23, 43; at the National Gallery, Cat. 8, 9, 18, 19, 23, 41, 43. It is regrettable that Cat. 19, the dramatic Mazara Satyr, will not travel with the show. I am told that Cat. 41, the Croatian Apoxyomenos, will not be at the National Gallery, and that Cat. 13, the Mahdia Eros, did not make it to any venue.
2.   See, e.g., Cat.2, the Riding Alexander from Herculaneum, which could replicate the Lysippan image from the Granikos commemoration, but, from associated finds, could also be part of a different and later story line; or Cat. 16, the Weary Herakles statuette from Sulmona, whose "extremely high quality" has suggested attribution to the very workshop of Lysippos, but which the entry dates "Third century BC or first century AD (?)." Cf. also other dates and attributions in S. Hemingway's informative essay, "Contexts of Discovery," 60-71 and compare the position of the editors in "Reframing Hellenistic Bronze Sculpture," 20-33, esp. pp. 24-26.
3.   E.g., Cat. 12, the Getty Athlete from the Adriatic Sea: "350-150 BC"; Cat. 28, the head of a North African from Cyrene: "300- 150 BC"; or the extreme case of the Mazara Satyr from the sea, Cat.19: "Late fourth to mid-first centuries BC." Several items are dated "First century BC-first century AD." The date of Cat. 14, the Statue of a Young Man from the Aegean Sea, is erroneously printed as "Third-fourth century BC."
4.   See R.R.R. Smith's important essay, " Eikon chalke : Hellenistic Statue Honors in Bronze," 94-109, esp.108 and fig. 73.F.
5.   Etruscans: Cat. 31, 32, 33 (the famous Arringatore). Romans: Cat. 10,11,29(?),35,38,39. For Roman "creations" see below, notes 19-20.
6.   Statuettes: e.g., Cat. 4, 15, 17, 36. Erotes from Yemen: Cat.26, inscribed in Qatabanic script. The essay by M. P. Canepa, "Bronze Sculpture in the Hellenistic East," 82-93, includes several little-known monuments, mentions possible "acrometallic" cult images on armatures of brick and clay, and compiles a helpful bibliography, to which add R. Fleischer, R. Schulz, "Figurale Bronzes ägyptischer und griechisch-römischer Art von Jabal al-'Awd, Jemen," Archäologische Berichte aus dem Yemen 13 (2012)1- 86.
7.   Aphrodite from Satala: Cat. 23; Vani torso: Cat. 49; boy from Hierapetra: Cat. 34, and p. 65. Although this last entry lists "Raftopoulou 1975" in its bibliography, it does not mention that publication's suggestion that a headless marble statue in Budapest (Arch.Mus. no. 4743) is a copy of the bronze; yet its existence seems important for the theme of replication stressed by the exhibition.
8.   See p. 65, fig. 4.4, showing the excavation; and cf. fig. 4.1, p. 60, with the famous Terme Boxer (Cat. 18) still in situ on the Quirinal Hill "looking as if he were just waiting to be found," as described by Hemingway in his essay (supra, note 2),71. I believe he is the only author citing (p. 62 and note 3) the bronze life-size foot of an elephant found at sea with the Mazara Satyr, exemplifying the kind of statuary connected with Ptolemy II Philadelphos' procession depicting Dionysos' Return from India.
9.   "Hellenistic Bronze Sculptures from the Aegean Sea: Recent Discoveries (1994-2009)," 74-81, also listing in the endnotes numerous finds from earlier years. It seems surprising that a bronze dolphin (fig. 5.2, p. 75) would have served as support for a larger figure which, in bronze, had no need for extra static help; the suggestion of a fountain (or the attachment to a ship prow?) may be more plausible.
10.   As stressed by the editors' essay (supra, note 2) and in strong contrast to our general conception of the marble "Roman copies.". Among Mattusch's groundbreaking publications, see especially Classical Bronzes: The Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary, Ithaca/London 1996; also the essay cited below.
11.   Mahdia and Getty Herms: discussed by Mattusch 1994 and summarized in her present essay, "Repeated Images: Beauty with Economy," 110-25, citing several additional examples. See also the fuller analytical tables for both items, pp. 321-22.
12.  Piombino Apollo in the Louvre: Cat. 47a-c includes three fragments of the lead tablet with artists' signatures originally found inside the statue and later lost but newly found and declared genuine. N. Badoud, Les temps de Rhodes. Une chronologie des inscriptions de la cité fondée sur l'étude de ses institutions Munich, 281, no. 218, is cited in the entry, but the attribution to Athena Lindia is followed by a question mark. For the Apollo's alloy, see pp. 322-23. Marathon Boy: Mattusch's essay (supra, note 11), fig. 8.2 and pp.111,124.
13.   The marble Apoxymenos in Florence (probably from Rome) is wrongly restored as holding a vessel, but the pose of its arms is close to that of the bronzes. Unfortunately this marble comparison will not be exhibited in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. The head of the Croatian statue, compared to the (restored) Ephesos figure, "is not turned to the left, is inclined further forward, and is somewhat tilted" (p. 274).
14.   Cat.44. This dark headless torso from Castel Gandolfo has been misidentified as being in basalt, together with other examples in the same stone, which is however properly described (Cat. 52, p. 301) as coming from Mons basanites in Wadi Hammamat. It is said to have become popular for large scale Roman statuary in the 1st c. BC. The entry for Cat. 44, p. 281, lists possible replicas of the Apoxyomenos type. Cat. 41, p. 275, suggests that all three bronzes came from the eastern Mediterranean, all the stone ones probably from Italy.
15.   Vatican Apoxyomenos: p. 122, fig. 8.11. Mattusch's suggestion: her essay (cited supra, note 11), p. 123; the possible change in attribution is favorably repeated by T. Potts in his entry for Cat. 42, p.276.
16.   See, most recently, M. Bruno, D. Attanasio, W. Prochaska, "The Docimium Marble Sculptures of the Grotto of Tiberius at Sperlonga," AJA 119.3 (July 2015) 375-94, dating all major groups to Tiberian times, with additional references to other quarry chronologies.
17.   Porticello Bronzes: C. J. Eiseman, B.S. Ridgway, The Porticello Shipwreck: Mediterranean Merchant Vessel of 415-385 B.C, College Station, Texas A&M Press, 1987; second printing 2012. Feet in two halves: nos. S7/8, figs. 5.35-5.51, and references to comparisons (including Boubon): pp. 95-96 and notes 15-17. It is regrettable that the Porticello bronzes, from a properly excavated wreck,to my knowledge have received little technical attention. B.S.Ridgway, AJA 114 (2010)331-42, adds the second male head from the wreck.
18.   See, e.g., Hallett on the reasons for the change from the Severe to the Classical style: JHS 106 (1986) 71-84.
19.   On the Archaic and Early Classical continuum: pp.131-33; on the Herculaneum "Dancers": 133-37; on the "hardness scale" borrowed from Stewart: note 45; on the comparison with mirror stands, note 58 (but would many such 5th c. objects have been extant during Augustan times ?); on forgeries, both in art and history: pp. 144-46. The bronze Spinario Cat. 54 (whose "Severe" head type is known in at least 11 replicas) can here be compared with a marble version (Cat. 55) with proper "Hellenistic" head type.
20.   Hallett's description of the divine heads on gems figs. 9.9-10, p. 139 (with mass of curls "rather improbably staying firm in place") should be read against my own analysis of Warrior A, in Due Bronzi da Riace, (Bollettino d'Art Serie Speciale 3, Rome 1984) 313-26, reprinted in my Second Chance. Greek Sculptural Studies Revisited The Pindar Press, London 2004, esp. pp. 272-77; see p. 273 about the forehead spiral curls turning "an abrupt corner" without being pulled down by their own weight.

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Books Received August 2015.

Version at BMCR home site

This list contains all books and notifications of new books received in the previous month by BMCR, and books still available for review. Potential reviewers should not respond to this email, but should use the request form linked here (Books Available for Review). Some books listed in this email may already have been assigned to reviewers.)

Adamson, Peter. Classical philosophy. A history of philosophy without any gaps, 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. xx, 346 p. $29.95. ISBN 9780199674534.

Adamson, Peter. Philosophy in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. A history of philosophy without any gaps, 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. xxiv, 428 p. $35.00. ISBN 9780198728023.

Algra, Keimpe and Katerina Ierodiakonou (edd.). Sextus Empiricus and ancient physics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. xiii, 433 p. $135.00. ISBN 9781107069244.

Arruzza, Cinzia. Plotinus, Ennead II.5: on what is potentially and what actually. The Enneads of Plotinus with philosophical commentaries. Las Vegas; Zurich; Athens: Parmenides Publishing, 2015. 201 p. $37.00 (pb). ISBN 9781930972636.

Athanassiadi, Polymnia. Mutations of Hellenism in late antiquity. Variorum collected studies series, CS 1052. Farnham; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. 394 p. £ 85.50. ISBN 9781472443663.

Barringer, Judith M. The art and archaeology of ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. xx, 438 p. $95.00 (pb). ISBN 9780521171809.

Bayley, Justine, Ian Freestone and Caroline Jackson (edd.). Glass of the Roman world. Oxford; Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2015. xxvi, 204 p. $70.00. ISBN 9781782977742.

Blondell, Ruby and Kirk Ormand (edd.). Ancient sex: new essays. Classical memories/modern identities. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2015. xii, 342 p. $97.95. ISBN 9780814212837.

Boţan, Sever-Petru. Vase de sticlă în spaţiul dintre Carpaţi şi Prut (secolele II a. Chr. - II p. Chr.) / Glass vessels between the Carpathian Mountains and the Pruth River (2nd century BC - 2nd century AD). Pontica et Mediterranea, 4. Cluj-Napoca: Mega Publishing House, 2015. 363 p. ISBN 9786065435933.

Bruun, Christer and Jonathan Edmondson (edd.). The Oxford handbook of Roman epigraphy. Oxford handbooks. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. xxxvii, 888 p. $185.00. ISBN 9780195336467.

Buchwald, Hans. Churches EA and E at Sardis. Archaeological exploration of Sardis, report 6. Cambridge, MA; London: Archeological Exploration of Sardis, 2015. xxiii, 341 p. $90.00. ISBN 9780674504400.

Caballos Rufino, Antonio, Enrique Melchor Gil and Juan Francisco Rodríguez Neila (edd.). De Roma a las provincias: las elites como instrumento de proyección de Roma. Juan Francisco Rodríguez Neila in honorem. Historia y geografía, 287. Sevilla; Córdoba: Universidad de Sevilla; UCOPress, Editorial Universidad de Córdoba, 2014. 668 p. € 39.00. ISBN 9788447215973.

Cinalli, Angela. Τὰ ξένια: la cerimonia di ospitalità cittadina. Studie e Ricerche, 27. Studi umanistici - Antichistica. Roma: Sapienza Università Editrice, 2015. xii, 101 p. (pb); also available as open access publication. ISBN 9788898533497.

Clackson, James. Language and society in the Greek and Roman worlds. Key themes in ancient history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. xiv, 204 p. $29.99 (pb). ISBN 9780521140669.

Dijkstra, Roald, Sanne van Poppel and Daniëlle Slootjes (edd.). East and West in the Roman Empire of the fourth century: an end to unity?. Radboud studies in humanities, 5. Leiden: Brill, 2015. ix, 183 p. $120.00. ISBN 9789004291928.

Docter, Roald F., Ridha Boussoffara and Pieter ter Keurs (edd.). Carthage: fact and myth. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2015. 144 p. $35.00. ISBN 9789088903113.

Engels, David (ed.). Von Platon bis Fukuyama: biologistiche und zyklische Konzepte in der Geschichtsphilosophie der Antike und des Abendlandes. Collection Latomus. Bruxelles: Éditions Latomus, 2015. 336 p. € 52.00 (pb). ISBN 9789042932746.

Esposito, Paolo and Christine Walde (edd.). Letture e lettori di Lucano: atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Fisciano, 27-29 marzo 2012. Testi e studi di cultura classica, 62. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2015. 406 p. € 35.00 (pb). ISBN 9788846742544.

Fantuzzi, Marco and Christos Tsagalis (edd.). The Greek Epic Cycle and its ancient reception: a companion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. xiii, 678 p. $195.00. ISBN 9781107012592.

Faulkner, Andrew and Owen Hodkinson (edd.). Hymnic narrative and the narratology of Greek hymns. Mnemosyne, supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 384. Leiden: Brill, 2015. x, 298 p. $142.00. ISBN 9789004288133.

Fratantuono, Lee and R. Alden Smith. Virgil, Aeneid 5: text, translation and commentary. Mnemosyne, supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 386. Leiden: Brill, 2015. x, 762 p. $284.00. ISBN 9789004301245.

Fritsen, Angela. Antiquarian voices: the Roman Academy and the commentary tradition on Ovid's Fasti. Text and context. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2015. xvi, 239 p. $69.95. ISBN 9780814273869.

Gorski, Gilbert J. and James E. Packer. The Roman Forum: a reconstruction and architectural guide. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. xxii, 437 p. $250.00. ISBN 9780521192446.

Hadjikyriako, Iosif and Mia Gaia Trentin (edd.). Cypriot cultural details: proceedings of the 10th Post Graduate Cypriot Archaeology Conference. Oxford; Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2015. vii, 224 p. $66.00 (pb). ISBN 9781785700668.

Hall, Edith. Introducing the ancient Greeks: from Bronze Age seafarers to navigators of the Western mind. New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. xxviii, 305 p. $16.95 (pb). ISBN 9780393351163.

Høgel, Christian. The human and the humane: humanity as argument from Cicero to Erasmus. Reflections on (In)Humanity, 8. Göttingen; Taipei: V&R unipress; National Taiwan University Press, 2015. 130 p. € 29.99. ISBN 9783847104414.

Hunter, Richard. Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica: Book IV. Cambridge Greek and Latin classics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. xi, 339 p. $39.99 (pb). ISBN 9781107636750.

Junker, Klaus and Sina Tauchert. Helenas Töchter: Frauen und Mode im frühen Griechenland. Zaberns Bildbände zur Archäologie; Sonderbände der Antiken Welt. Darmstadt: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 2015. 136 p. € 29.95. ISBN 9783805348584.

Kalas, Gregor. The restoration of the Roman Forum in late antiquity: transforming public space. Ashley and Peter Larkin series in Greek and Roman culture. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2015. xv, 228 p. $60.00. ISBN 9780292760783.

Lepinski, Sarah and Susanna McFadden (edd.). Beyond iconography: materials, methods, and meaning in ancient surface decoration. Selected papers on ancient art and architecture, 1. Boston: Archaeological Institute of America, 2015. 218 p. $24.95 (pb). ISBN 9781931909310.

Marder, Tod A. and Mark Wilson Jones (edd.). The Pantheon: from antiquity to the present. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. xix, 471 p. $99.00. ISBN 9780521809320.

Matijević, Krešimir. Ursprung und Charakter der homerischen Jenseitsvorstellungen. Paderborn: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 2015. 272 p. € 39.90. ISBN 9783506782328.

Migeotte, Léopold. Économie et finances publiques des cités grecques, volume II: choix d'articles publiés de 2002 à 2014. Collection de la Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 54; Série épigraphique et historique, 8. Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée - Jean Pouilloux, 2015. 463 p. € 39.00 (pb). ISBN 9782356680532.

Papakonstantinou, Kalliopi K. Συμβολή στη μελέτη των λειτουργιών της δικαστικής απόφασης στην αρχαία Ελλάδα / Beitrag zum Studium der Funktionen des gerichtlichen Urteils im antiken Griechenland. Πηγές και Μελέτες Ιστορίας Ελληνικού και Ρωμαϊκού Δικαίου, 8. Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2015. xvii, 296 p. € 22.00 (pb). ISBN 9789601222219.

Pedersen, Ralph K. (ed.). On sea and ocean: new research on Phoenician seafaring. Proceedings of the symposion held in Marbug, June 23-25, 2011 at Archäologisches Seminar, Philipps-Universität Marburg. Marburger Beiträge zur Archäologie, Bd 2. Marburg: Eigenverlag des Archäologischen Seminars der Philipps-Universität 2015. ix, 129 p. € 69.00. ISBN 9783818505165.

Perrone, Serena. Papiri dell'Università di Genova (PUG), volume quinto. Roma: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2015. 149 p., xxxi p. of plates. € 34.00 (pb). ISBN 9788863727777.

Remijsen, Sofie. The end of Greek athletics in late antiquity. Greek culture in the Roman world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. xiii, 389 p. $115.00. ISBN 9781107050785.

Roisman, Joseph, Ian Worthington and Robin Waterfield. Lives of the Attic orators: texts from Pseudo-Plutarch, Photius, and the Suda. Clarendon ancient history series. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. xvii, 381 p. $50.00 (pb). ISBN 9780199687671.

Scardino, Carlo. Edition antiker landwirtschaftlicher Werke in arabischer Sprache. Band 1: Prolegomena. Scientia Graeco-Arabica, Bd 16/1. Boston; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015. ix, 429 p. € 119.95. ISBN 9781614517825.

Vasaly, Ann. Livy's political philosophy: power and personality in early Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015. xi, 209 p. $90.00. ISBN 9781107065673.

Wefers, Stefanie. Die Mühlenkaskade von Ephesos: technikgeschichtliche Studien zur Versorgung einer spätantiken bis frühbyzantinischen Stadt. Monographien des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, 118. Mainz: Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, 2015. x, 318 p., 66 p. of plates, 41 p. of color plates. € 75.00. ISBN 9783884672228.

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Monday, August 31, 2015


Corinne Bonnet, Les enfants de Cadmos: le paysage religieux de la Phénicie hellénistique. De l'archéologie à l'histoire, 63​. Paris: Éditions de Boccard​, 2015. Pp. 606. ISBN 9782701803715. €79.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Nathanael Andrade, University of Oregon ( )

Version at BMCR home site


Around 200 BCE, the Sidonians honored Diotimos, a dikastēs (probably Greek for "suffete"), with a Greek inscription for a chariot victory at the Nemean games. 1 The inscription contains an epigram that knits the pasts of Sidon and Greece. Highlighting Sidon's Argive descent and its ancestry of Thebes with its references to Phoronis, the Argive father of Agenor, and Cadmos, the son of Agenor, the inscription also calls to mind the debt that Greeks owed to Phoenician letters. The Greek inscription thus represents how Hellenistic Phoenicians endowed their local identities with prestige within a Mediterranean Greek cultural koine. Corinne Bonnet's book, aptly entitled Les enfants de Cadmos, illuminates the eclecticism of this phenomenon.

Les enfants de Cadmos is remarkable. In the spirit of Nicole Loraux's Les enfants d'Athéna,2 it likewise weaves deep sophistication and erudition into the treatment of its vast topic: the religious life of Hellenistic Phoenicians. Its publication is timely. Recent decades have witnessed an outpouring of scholarship on Phoenicians in the Mediterranean and on the Hellenistic and Roman Levant, including Roman Phoenicia.3 Yet, a monograph on Hellenistic Phoenicia last appeared decades ago,4 and Bonnet's book is the first synthesis integrating the extensive scholarly output of the interval. However, it does much more than that.

One merit of Bonnet's work is its analytical position regarding cultural life. Alexander's conquest of Phoenicia amplified the circulation of Greek culture there, but Bonnet aligns herself with recent critiques of the once canonical term "Hellenization." For Bonnet, its traditional baggage does not capture the agency that the conquered Phoenicians exercised in cultivating Greek culture or the complexity with which they interwove it with local practices. The term also frames "Greek" and "Phoenician" as monolithic categories in ways that obscure the cultural pluralism of Phoenicia's urban areas and rural hinterlands. Bonnet captures such intricacies by communicating the nature of Phoenicia's "paysages religieux," the landscapes or spaces in which Phoenicians created lived religious realities through their social and cultural practices, and her primary analytical frames are the negotiations of "the Middle Ground,"5 the entanglements of métissage, and anthropological views on culture articulated foremost by Marshall Sahlins and fellow travelers. In her characterizations of such phenomena, Bonnet also invokes other terms that have gained traction in classical studies, anthropology, various fields of history, and even the natural sciences, including,bricolage, "hybridity," "modernity," "new deal," "subversive submission," simplexité, and "more is different," and she makes frequent comparisons to the engagement between European and indigenous populations in the Americas.6 Readers may differ regarding the utility of such terms and historical comparanda, but Bonnet makes some significant observations. First, the religious landscapes of the Hellenistic Phoenicians integrated diverse cultural symbols, and this was not a unique phenomenon. Cultural systems are inherently mixed, amalgamated, and indebted to multiple antecedents, and they transform as indigenous populations domesticate various foreign cultural forms, including those of imperial conquerors. Amid the contingencies of shifting social contexts, Phoenician articulations of indigenous cult and identity, which were foremost defined by civic locality (Sidonian, Tyrian, and so forth), likewise enjoyed profound eclecticism and change. Second, Phoenicians did not merely adopt, adapt, and intertwine cultural traditions from diverse sources. They created new forms of cultural expression in ways that typify dynamic social encounters and negotiations.

Another merit of Bonnet's book is that its narrative scope spans beyond Phoenicia. It situates the local religious landscapes of Phoenicians within the "global" interconnections of a Mediterranean Greek koine. The book contains an introduction (15-36), four parts divided into nine chapters, a conclusion (521-35), detailed indices, 9 maps, and 117 illustrations. Errors are usually minor,7 and the figures are apt and generally of sound quality.8 Part I (Chapter 1: 41-106) anchors the efforts of Alexander the Great to establish royal legitimacy over Phoenicia's cities in Greco-Macedonian and Near Eastern traditions of dynastic rule. His intention to sacrifice at Melqart's sanctuary in the besieged city of Tyre, for example, highlighted his dynastic linkage and emulation of Herakles, Melqart's Greek counterpart. But it also placed Alexander within a longstanding local narrative of royal legitimacy, as Tyrians and many Near Eastern peoples conceived of their kings as authenticated by their cities' patron divinities.

Part II (Chapters 2-5) probes the religious landscapes of major Phoenician cities and their hinterlands. In Chapter 2 (109-52), Bonnet analyzes the island of Arados and its adjacent mainland territory. Her discussion treats the material finds of Amrit, a bilingual dedication to Herakles/Melqart, and the epigraphic dossier celebrating "the listening god" of the sanctuary of Zeus of Baetocaece (IGLS 7.4028). She demonstrates how the complex interactions of urban elites, imperial authorities, and rural sanctuaries endowed indigenous practices with new language, cultural idioms, and semantic values. Chapter 3 (153-96) probes the religious landscape of Byblos (traditionally Gubal), which are documented by inscriptions, various material objects, the sanctuary at Afqa, and the cosmogony of Philo of Byblos. With an eye on longstanding Egyptian influences, Bonnet posits that the Hellenistic Byblians domesticated the newly reconstituted Greek and Egyptian practices through which the Ptolemies expressed dynastic legitimacy. The Byblians accordingly associated Astarte (the Baalat Gubal) with Isis and embraced an Adonis figure that bore many affinities with Osiris. Achaemenid and Hellenistic Sidon receives the focus of Chapter 4 (198-268). It features analyses of the philhellene king Strato I (Abdashtart), the famous temple and "Tribune" of Eshmun at Bustan el-Sheikh; the sanctuary at Kharayeb; the sarcophagus of Abdalonymos; and the honors for Diotimos previously mentioned. In this chapter, Bonnet reconstructs a religious landscape reflecting how the Sidonians participated in a Mediterranean koine. Sidonians amplified their prestige through their adoption of Greek culture. They interwove and embedded an assortment of Greek and Near Eastern (Assyrian, Cypro-Anatolian, Egyptian, Persian) antecedents into experiences of indigenous practice. Finally, they nurtured a cultural eclecticism and innovation that defy simple typologies and narratives of artistic "evolution" or "Hellenization." Chapter 5 (269-327) focuses on Tyre and the culturally variegated material remains of the rural sanctuary at Umm el-Amed. It includes an examination of how Tyrians aligned the connotations of royal legitimacy traditional to their cults with the novelty of Ptolemaic dynastic worship. Bonnet also analyzes how Tyrians associated Melqart and his "avatar" Milkashtart, of nearby Umm el-Amed, with Herakles and his iconographic features. Rather than passive acculturation, these phenomena reflect how Tyrians reconstituted their local religious expressions and identities through their cultivation of Greek symbols (as well as Egyptian ones).

Part III (Chapters 6-7) examines the kinship myths, religious diplomacies, and iconographic forms through which Phoenicians inscribed local identities and claimed preeminence within the Mediterranean Greek koine. Chapter 6 (331-65) treats the genealogies and diplomatic ties that Phoenicians forged. As the book's title highlights, the Sidonians and Tyrians claimed to have been descended from Argives through Agenor, to have founded Thebes through Cadmos, and thereby to have endowed Greeks with Phoenician letters. The inscription for Diotimos is only one expression of this phenomenon; Phoenicians, for example, also established cults to Leucothea and Melicertes (both descended from Cadmos) in their local landscapes. Chapter 7 (367-411) explores Achaemenid and Hellenistic period religious iconographies, with particular focus on sarcophagi, the reliefs at Umm al-Amed, sculpted thrones, stamped weights, and coinage. Opposing evolutionist arguments that religious landscapes transformed from aniconic to iconic ones, Bonnet emphasizes the eclectic manner and diverse antecedents through which Phoenicians crafted religious or artistic forms.

Part 4 (Chapters 8-9) focuses on the Phoenicians' social navigation of an interconnected Mediterranean. While figuring into Bonnet's analysis, the Phoenicians traditionally known by the controversial label "Punic,"9 on whom Bonnet has published elsewhere, are not treated systematically.10 Chapter 8 (414-72) explores the Phoenicians of the Piraeus and Athens. Among other texts, their religious life is documented by an Athenian decree for a koinon of Citians who worshipped their unique "Aphrodite," the bilingual inscription of a koinon of Sidonians, and various bilingual funerary stelai. Similarly, Chapter 9 (474-520) treats the Phoenician presence on Delos, especially during the duty-free years of 166-88 BCE. During this period, the notable koina of Tyrian "Heracleistai" and Berytian "Poseidoniasts," named for their patron divinities' Greek counterparts, expressed their veneration for Melqart and Baal-Marin through ecumenical Greek symbols. Bonnet also examines the forms of worship on Delos that may have affected cult at Sidon and transformations in the worship of Astarte (often invoked as Aphrodite or Isis), as well as the Syrian divinity Atargatis. In these two chapters, the overall picture is one in which Phoenicians inhabiting certain multi-ethnic contexts reoriented their religious expressions in ways that conveyed the nature of their specifically ancestral cults through Greek symbols. In this way, they amplified the prestige of their home cities in a broader Mediterranean koine.

Finally, a valuable aspect of Bonnet's book is that it consistently measures continuity and change in Hellenistic Phoenicia through learned forays into Bronze and Iron Age antecedents, classical Greek trends, and the materials and texts of Roman Phoenicia. In some instances, this is a figment of the preponderance of Roman-era evidence in comparison to Hellenistic witnesses. But Bonnet's engagement with earlier and later periods adds greatly to the cogency of her book's main arguments. As she defies the premise that Hellenistic Phoenician cultural expression was a static monolith, she also demonstrates that no single uniform Phoenician experience of indigenous culture had ever existed. The category of "Phoenician" was a Greek invention, and the cultural and religious practices of Phoenician cities and rural hinterlands had long been diverse and in dialogue with many cultural koinai (Assyrian, Egyptian, Anatolian, Persian, and Greek, for example) that were themselves prone to transformation and internal diversity. Accordingly, when Bonnet describes how Hellenistic Phoenicians integrated Hellenism into new expressions of their local identities, she situates this activity within a long history of transformation, heterogeneity, selectivity, and creativity among Phoenician actors. This history persisted throughout the Roman imperial period, even as the Phoenician language disappeared from the inscriptions of Phoenicia altogether. ​


1.   Elias Bikerman, "Sur une inscription agonistique de Sidon," in Mélanges syriens offerts à Monsieur René Dussaud 1 (Paris: 1939), 91-99. See Bonnet, pp. 260-65 and 342-43.
2.   Nicole Loraux,Les enfants d'Athéna: idées athéniennes sur la citoyenneté et la division des sexes (Paris: F. Maspero, 1981), in English as The Children of Athena: Athenian Ideas about Citizenship and the Division between the Sexes (Princeton University Press, 1993).
3.   The bibliography is vast. Recent examples are Josephine Crawley Quinn and Nicholas C. Vella (eds.), The Punic Mediterranean: Identities and Identification from Phoenician Settlement to Roman Rule (Cambridge University Press, 2014); Julien Aliquot, La vie religieuse au Liban sous l'Empire romain (Beirut: IFPO, 2010); Michael Blömer, Achim Lichtenberger, and Rubina Raja (eds.), Religious Identities in the Levant from Alexander to Muhammed: Continuity and Change (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015); Ted Kaizer (ed.), The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods (Leiden: Brill, 2008).
4.   J. D. Grainger, Hellenistic Phoenicia (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991).
5.   The concept, often adopted and adapted by Mediterranean scholars, originates from Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
6.   References are interspersed throughout the narrative. The introduction (15-36) and conclusion (521-35) contain some key discussion, and the index des notions/themes principaux (590-91) documents recurrent usage.
7.   On p. 393, however, figure 47 is denoted as figure 72.
8.   Images of some coins, however, are small and visually difficult.
9.   See now Quinn and Vella, Punic Mediterranean (cited footnote 3).
10.   Recent examples are "On Gods and Earth: the Tophet and the Construction of a New Identity in Punic Carthage, "in Erich Gruen (ed.), 373-87, Cultural Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2011); "Le destin féminin de Carthage," Pallas 85 (2011): 19-29; "Phoenician Identities in Hellenistic Times: Strategies and Negotiations," in Quinn and Vella, Punic Mediterranean (cited footnote 3), 282-98 (esp. 289-94); "Carthage, 'l'autre nation' dans l'historiographie ancienne et moderne," Anabases 1 (2005): 139-60; "Identité et altérité religieuses: à propos de l'hellénisation de Carthage," Pallas 70 (2006): 365-79. ​

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Sofía Torallas Tovar, Klaas A. Worp, Greek Papyri from Montserrat (P.Monts.Roca IV). Scripta orientalia, 1. Barcelona: Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat, 2014. Pp. 327; 55 p. of plates. ISBN 9788498837001. (pb).

Reviewed by W. Andrew Smith, Shepherds Theological Seminary (

Version at BMCR home site

The variety of Greek manuscripts found in the Abadia de Montserrat Collection (Barcelona) is a tribute to the efforts of Ramón Roca-Puig (1906–2001), who bequeathed the papyri to the abbey. The collection holds over 1500 papyrus and parchment items dating from the Ptolemaic period to the tenth century.

Sofía Torallas Tovar, Associate Professor of Classics and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, has been the curator of the Papyrological collections at the Abadia de Montserrat since 2002 and directs the research conducted by the CSIC and Universitat Pompeu Fabra at the abbey. She has co-authored this fourth volume of Montserrat papyri 1 with professor emeritus at Leiden University Klaas A. Worp. The volume contains sixty-three Greek manuscripts, some published previously (often in publications that are difficult to obtain) and updated here, others published here for the first time. The other contributors to this volume are Alberto Nodar Domínguez and María Victoria Spottorno, bringing specialized expertise to the analyses of the Homeric and biblical papyri, respectively.

In addition to the color printed plates that are included with this book, high-quality digital images are available online at the DVCTVS website (, though the direct link to the digital catalogue is Searching the catalog using the P.Monts.Roca inventory numbers is the most expedient way to locate the manuscript images (links to which are located at the bottom of each full record).

The front matter of this book is quite brief. The volume begins with a three-page preface by Father Pius-Ramon Tragan, who is responsible for the Scriptorium Biblicum et Orientale at the abbey. Written in Catalan, the preface provides an overview of the scope and purpose of the publication project for the manuscripts housed at Montserrat. This is followed by the four-page introduction, which quickly orients the reader to the history of the manuscripts from the hands of Ramón Roca-Puig to the context of the current volume's research. Very little is revealed regarding the modern provenance of these manuscripts.

Following the front matter, the descriptions of the papyri follow in the typical layout of papyrological works, divided according to type (literary, paraliterary, and documentary). The twenty literary manuscripts in this volume consist of: five Homeric papyri (two from the Ptolemaic period, containing Iliad 9.696–10.3 and Odyssey 11.73–78, and three from the Roman period, containing Iliad 1.135–139, Iliad 14.1–80, 369–381, 411–419, and Odyssey 5.113–122); three classical texts (Demosthenes' Oratio 21.62, an intriguing fragment of an unidentified Hellenistic historiography, and a commentary on Theocritus' Idylls 1.45–152, 7.5); twelve biblical texts (for readers in biblical studies, the Rahlfs numbers for the Septuagintal manuscripts are 952, 967, 983, 984, 2160, and 2162, while the Gregory-Aland identifiers for the New Testament manuscripts are P67, P80, 0252, 0267, and 0298); and seven works of Christian literature (lines 44–63 of Comparatio Menandri et Philistionis, a fragment with a portion of Hippolytus' De benedictionibus Isaaci et Jacobi, two fragments of John Chrysostom's De Virginitate, the earliest extant fragment of Methodius' Symposium, and two unidentified Christian texts dating to the 4th/5th c. and 5th/6th c.).

The six paraliterary papyri consist of: a second- or third-century list of six gods (all in the genitive case); a portion of an amulet with eleven lines of magical text; a complete Christian healing amulet; an unknown literary text (incomplete, but possibly medical in nature) and partial Greek medical prescription from the late Ptolemaic period; a Greek horoscope dated to 336/7 CE; and a dated name tag (2nd c. CE).

The thirty-one documentary papyri cover a wide variety of topics. There are five public documents, including: a petition from the priests of Seknebtynis to an unidentified official (2nd c. BCE); an application from Tanais for seed-corn, with an accompanying oath, from the reign of Domitian; a papyrus declaring the death of a woman (whose name is lost) from the first or second century; a declaration from two priests to the logistes of Oxyrhynchus (c. 325 CE); and a tomos synkollesimos from early Byzantine Egypt, with an administrative account and a report of trial proceedings. There are five tax-related documents: a second-century receipt from Bubastos for a tax referred to as hermeneia metrou; a fifth-century papyrus from Oxyrhynchus with two receipts, one for a monthly stathmos tax and one for the vestis militaris tax; and three documents from Hermopolis dating from the seventh to eighth centuries, including an item related to tax collection, and two tax receipts.

There are twelve contracts, including: a cession of land from Krokodilopolis (183/2 BCE); an extensive Ptolemaic contract of lease from Hephaistias (148 BCE); a loan of money from a woman in Oxyrhynchus to two other women (49–54 CE); a fragment of a house sale, in both Greek and demotic (37–69 CE); a deed of gift for a plot of land (161–169 CE); a labor contract for farm work and a lease for two pigs (3rd c. CE); a fragmentary division of an inheritance (dihaeresis) from Oxyrhynchus (Roman period); a contract to apprentice a textile worker (Oxyrhynchus, 3rd/4th c. CE); a fragment of an Oxyrhynchite loan contract (4th/5th c. CE); a fragment of the end of a contract, with indication of parties, oath, etc., from Oxyrhynchus (mid-5th c. CE); a notarized loan document from Herakleopolis (8th c. CE); and, finally, a Ptolemaic fragment that is intriguing because of its mention of sunthiasitai ("fellow-member of a thiasos"). There are five accounts and payments documents, including: a small fragment of an account dating to the third century BCE, possibly derived from cartonnage; an order from Oxyrhynchus for a baker to pay an individual a certain amount of money (336/7 BCE); a receipt for eighteen loaves of bread (6th/7th c. CE); an account from an unidentified monastery for an unknown purpose (7th/8th c. CE); and a list of names and payments, probably from Hermopolis (7th/8th c. CE). Finally, there are four private documents: a request for help from someone stopped at the (as yet unidentified) "Gate of Prosperity" (2nd c. CE); a nearly complete private letter from the third or fourth century mentioning a hieroglyph carver (surprising for that time period) and a pagan priest; a private letter from two authors apparently in Syria to a certain Kalliopios (4th/5th c. CE); and a fragment of a letter from a scholasticus to a (possibly known?) comes domesticorum named Solon (6th c. CE).

The usual indices follow the descriptions of the papyri (pp. 299–327). Following the indices are 55 pages of color plates, illustrating all papyri published in the volume. In most cases the color images are of an appropriate size, but there are some inventory items that are photographed at such a small size that they are difficult to examine (e.g., items 36, 2, 3, 315, and 241). The on-line images compensate for the presence of these smaller prints. Additionally, it is helpful that each papyrus is photographed with a ruler.

Given the number of pieces in this book, brief comments on three of the manuscripts follow to provide an idea of the volume's contents. Roca-Puig's primary interest was in biblical manuscripts, and the biblical papyri from this collection represent important witnesses to the transmission history of the Greek Bible. For example, the two fragments that compose P.Monts.Roca 1 (Gregory-Aland P67) are an early (late second century) witness to the Gospel of Matthew (containing Matt. 3:8–9, 14–15 and 5:20–22, 25–28); the fragments are known to be part of the same manuscript as GA P64 (Oxford's Magdalene Greek 17). In Spottorno's analysis of P.Monts.Roca 1, she proposes a convincing reconstruction of the manuscript (including P64) as a two-column codex with quires of four bifolia. Other papyri of particular interest include the Homeric items, especially those of the so-called "wild" Ptolemaic papyri because of the unique variants they present. In his analysis of these Ptolemaic papyri (P.Monts.Roca 47 and 46), Nodar records the plus and minus verses in this volume but refers elsewhere for discussion of those variants.2 A final interesting piece, the unidentified Hellenistic historiography of P.Monts.Roca 267 (a roll from the 3rd c. BCE), provides an enticing glimpse into what may be a historiographical work of Alexander. Only two names, Eurydice and (possibly) Ptolemy, survive in the work, which is comprised of three fragments: in the first fragment Eurydice is among bodyguards; in the second there is travel along a coast back to a military camp after offering a sacrifice involving a female costume, a golden bowl, an axe, and an iron dagger; in the third there is a sacrificial offering of a hecatomb of goats, sheep, and calves. A lengthy and insightful commentary accompanies this papyrus, discussing possible interpretations of the text.

For the papyrologist, this type of cataloging and discussion of numerous manuscripts of disparate subjects represents an invaluable data mine. In light of the obscure nature of the previous publications of papyri from this collection, this work is a boon to researchers with a wide range of manuscript interests. Compared to the wealth of information provided in the indices, it is disappointing (but not unusual) that this book has no accompanying bibliography. Regardless, the attention to detail and the expertise of the authors render this book a valuable and appreciated contribution to the field.


1.   See also Sofía Torallas Tovar and K. A. Worp, To the Origins of Greek Stenography (P. Monts.Roca I) (Barcelona: Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat, 2006); Sofía Torallas Tovar, Biblica Coptica Monserratensia P.Monts.Roca II (Barcelona: Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat, 2007); and Sofía Torallas Tovar and Juan Gil, Hadrianvs P.Monts.Roca III (Barcelona: Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat, 2010).
2.   A. Nodar, "Wild papyri in the Roca-Puig collection," in P. Schubert (ed.), Actes du 26e Congrès international de papyrologie, Genève 16–21, août 2010 (Genève 2012), 565–572.

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