Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014.07.31

Lloyd P. Gerson, From Plato to Platonism. Ithaca, NY; London: Cornell University Press, 2013. Pp. xi, 345. ISBN 9780801452413. $59.95.

Reviewed by Jens Halfwassen, Philosophisches Seminar der Universität Heidelberg (j.halfwassen@urz.uni-heidelberg.de)

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War Platon Platoniker? Die antiken Interpreten, angefangen mit Aristoteles, haben diese Frage einhellig bejaht. Ebenso entschieden verneint die Mehrzahl der zeitgenössischen Platoninterpreten die Frage. Vor allem in der englischsprachigen Forschung besteht ein breiter Konsens, daß Platons Philosophie kein „Platonismus" war, während es in Kontinentaleuropa von Leon Robin und Julius Stenzel über Hans Joachim Krämer, Konrad Gaiser und Thomas Alexander Szlezák bis zu Giovanni Reale und dem Rezensenten eine wachsende Minderheit gibt, die die Frage durchaus bejaht und dementsprechend eine Lehrkontinuität zwischen Platon, seinen Schülern in der Akademie und den Platonikern der späteren Antike wie Plotin und Proklos annimmt. Lloyd P. Gerson, der mit Arbeiten über den Neuplatonismus und Aristoteles bekannt geworden ist – vor allem durch sein 2005 erschienenes Buch Aristotle and Other Platonists – stellt die Frage nach dem Platonismus Platons aufs Neue und entscheidet sie gegen den Mainstream: Platon war selbst Platoniker.

So provokativ diese These für die Mehrheit der angelsächsischen Leser zweifellos ist, sowenig neu und überraschend ist sie für den deutschsprachigen Leser. Vor allem Hans Joachim Krämer hat in seinen beiden grundlegenden Werken Arete bei Platon und Aristoteles (1959) und Der Ursprung der Geistmetaphysik (1964) detailliert und mit stupender Gelehrsamkeit gezeigt, daß Platons Philosophie in ihrem systematischen Kern eine Metaphysik des transzendenten Einen und des als Geist und Denken seiner selbst verfaßten Ideenkosmos ist und daß ferner zwischen der Alten Akademie und dem Neuplatonismus, speziell Plotin, eine Lehrkontinuität belegt werden kann, die das „Neu" im „Neuplatonismus" mehr als fragwürdig erscheinen läßt. Schon vor Krämer hatte Philip Merlan in seinem Werk From Platonism to Neoplatonism (1953) bewiesen, daß sich so gut wie alle systembildenden Motive des „Neuplatonismus" bereits in der Alten Akademie nachweisen lassen, also mindestens bei den unmittelbaren Schülern Platons wie Speusipp, Xenokrates, Hermodor oder Aristoteles. Gleichwohl bedeutet Lloyd Gersons neues Buch nicht nur in der anglophonen Provinz, sondern auch für die kontinentale Forschung einen bedeutenden Fortschritt, weil seine Argumentation für den Platonismus Platons ausgesprochen originell, umsichtig und von dogmatischen Vorannahmen unbelastet ist. Wenn Gersons Argumentation überzeugt – und den Rezensenten hat sie überzeugt –, dann könnte dieses Buch einen Durchbruch bedeuten, es könnte das Schisma zwischen der überwiegend anti-metaphysischen angelsächsischen und der metaphysikaffinen kontinentalen und zumal deutschen Platonforschung heilen.

Gersons entscheidender Zug ist eine Neubestimmung dessen, was „Platonismus" eigentlich bedeutet und beabsichtigt. Dem ist der erste und wohl gewichtigste Teil seines Buches gewidmet („Plato and his Readers": S. 3-129). Ausgangspunkt ist die auf den ersten Blick wenig aufregende und ganz gewiß zutreffende Beobachtung, daß ein durchgehender und dominanter Zug aller Dialoge Platons ihr Anti-Naturalismus ist. Bei genauerem Zusehen läßt sich dieser Anti-Naturalismus in fünf Richtungen spezifizieren: die Platonischen Dialoge vertreten – gegen Positionen, die sämtlich von den Vorsokratikern und den Sophisten entwickelt wurden – einen Anti-Nominalismus, Anti-Mechanismus, Anti-Materialismus, Anti-Relativismus und Anti-Skeptizismus. Diesen fünffach spezifizierten Anti-Naturalismus nennt Gerson „Ur-Platonismus" (UP). „Platonismus" ist für Gerson nun der Versuch, auf dieser Grundlage eine philosophische Position zu entwickeln, welche die fünf Antis des UP in einem kohärenten Gedankengebäude systematisch verbindet und begründet – kurz: „Platonismus" ist das positive Gegenstück des anti-naturalistischen UP in Gestalt einer ausgeführten philosophischen Theorie, wir können auch sagen: in Gestalt einer Metaphysik (S. 9-19). Gerson folgert daraus, auch Platons eigene philosophische Position sei in genau diesem Sinne „Platonismus" (S. 19-33). Daraus folgt aber weiter, daß nur eine solche Lesart der Platonischen Dialoge „platonisch" und legitim ist, die das Ziel einer positiven metaphysischen Antwort auf den Naturalismus im Auge behält. Zumal vor dem Hintergrund der von Antimetaphysikern dominierten angelsächsischen Platonforschung ist damit Entscheidendes gewonnen. Auf dieser Grundlage kann Gerson nämlich die vor allem von Gregory Vlastos (und seinen zahlreichen Nachfolgern) vertretene Deutung Platons als eines Sokratikers, der nur Fragen gestellt und die Antworten anderer kritisiert, aber keine eigene positive Theorie vertreten hätte, zurückweisen (S. 34-72). Auch der Streit zwischen einer unitarischen Platondeutung, die in und hinter den verschiedenen Dialogen eine einheitliche und im Wesentlichen konstant bleibende philosophische Position sucht, und den Anhängern einer entwicklungsgeschichtlichen Deutung, für die Platon seine Position – im Extremfall in jedem Dialog – immer wieder neu und vor allem immer wieder anders entwickelt, wird entschärft und im Prinzip im Sinne des Unitarismus entschieden. Denn der UP kennzeichne alle frühen, mittleren und späten Dialoge Platons gleichermaßen und darum dienten sie alle dem Ziel, eine positive Antwort auf den UP zu finden. Dies schließe nicht aus, daß sich Platons Antwort im Detail entwickelt habe, aber die Zielrichtung sei immer dieselbe und ändere sich nicht (S. 75-83). Eine Deutung Platons als Dichter und Künstler, der gar keine philosophische Position vertreten wolle (wie sie vor allem auf Friedrich Schlegel zurückgeht), werde durch den UP definitiv ausgeschlossen (S. 83-91). Entscheidend ist, daß Gerson Platons Selbstzeugnis im Phaidros und im 7. Brief ernstnimmt, demzufolge die Dialoge Platons Philosophie weder vollständig noch in systematischer Entfaltung und Begründung enthalten (S. 91 ff.). Um Platons positive und ausgeführte metaphysische Antwort auf den Naturalismus der Vorsokratiker und Sophisten zu rekonstruieren, reichen seine Dialoge nicht aus. Wir müssen dafür auf die reiche antike Überlieferung einer „ungeschriebenen Lehre" Platons zurückgreifen, die inhaltlich über die Dialoge hinausgeht, und zwar vor allem was die Fundamente der Philosophie Platons betrifft. Für Gerson sind dabei die ausführlichen Zeugnisse des Aristoteles zentral. Aristoteles selber deutet Gerson als einen Platoniker, also als einen Philosophen, der eine anti-naturalistische Metaphysik als Antwort auf den UP entwickelt habe. Allerdings unterscheidet sich Aristoteles' eigene Antwort auf den UP deutlich von derjenigen seines Lehrers. Gerade deswegen aber sind Aristoteles' Referate über Platon unbeschadet ihres polemischen Charakters zuverlässig und grundlegend für ein „platonisches", also historisch und sachlich angemessenes Verständnis Platons. Harold Cherniss' Generalangriff auf die Zuverlässigkeit des Hauptzeugen Aristoteles weist Gerson zurück – wie vor ihm schon Sir David Ross, Paul Wilpert, Cornelia de Vogel und vor allem Krämer. Die Zuverlässigkeit bewährt sich auch darin, daß wir genau unterscheiden können zwischen den Referaten der Prinzipien- und Ideal-Zahlenlehre Platons und Aristoteles' Kritik an diesen Lehren, die durch Aristoteles' eigene Version des „Platonismus" motiviert wird, die sich von jener Platons am deutlichsten durch die Immanenz der Ideen in den Dingen und der Prinzipien in ihren Prinzipiaten unterscheidet (S. 97-129).

Aufbauend auf diesem neu gewonnen Verständnis von „Platonismus" unternimmt Gerson eine Neubestimmung des Verhältnisses des historischen antiken Platonismus zu Platon selbst. Dies geschieht in zwei Schritten, die die Teile II und III seines Buches bilden. Teil II deutet die Geschichte des Platonismus zwischen Platon und Plotin als eine creatio continua des Platonismus (S. 133-223). Grundlegend war dafür die Alte Akademie und deren wichtigster Denker nach Platon selbst war Speusipp – und zwar vor allem durch seine henologische Prinzipientheorie, die mit der absoluten Transzendenz des Einen auf den Neuplatonismus vorausweist, aber auch durch seine holistische Konzeption von Erkenntnis, wonach die Erkenntnis einer bestimmten Wesenheit ein implizites Wissen des systematischen Beziehungsganzen aller Wesenheiten (Ideen) voraussetzt (S. 134-53). In weiteren Kapiteln behandelt Gerson die akademische Skepsis (S. 163 ff.), den Mittelplatonismus (S. 179 ff.) und – als wichtigsten mittelplatonischen Vorgänger Plotins – Numenios (S. 208 ff.). Gerson orientiert sich hier weitgehend an den maßgebenden Forschungen von Hans Joachim Krämer und John Dillon. Am originellsten ist wohl seine überzeugende Neubewertung der akademischen Skepsis, die er von seinem Ansatz aus als einen echten, wenn auch negativen Platonismus verstehen kann. Denn die Kritik der akademischen Skeptiker zielt gegen den stoischen Naturalismus und steht damit offenkundig auf dem Boden des UP. Ob sie nun eine positive metaphysische Antwort auf den Naturalismus ex negativo vorbereiten soll (was einige Quellen nahezulegen scheinen und was Hegel glaubte) oder nicht, jedenfalls ist der UP das gemeinsame Fundament der akademischen Skepsis wie des metaphysischen Platonismus. Wenn das richtig ist, dann übergreift die Kontinuität des antiken Platonismus auch die metaphysikfeindliche Epoche des Hellenismus. Den von Heinrich Dörrie gegen Krämers Kontinuitätsthese behaupteten „Bruch" zwischen der Alten Akademie und dem im 1. Jh. v. Chr. vermeintlich neu konstituierten Platonismus der Kaiserzeit gibt es nicht.

Der III. Teil des Buches ist Plotin gewidmet, dem „Exegeten der Platonischen Offenbarung" (S. 227-304). Gerson geht aus von Plotins Selbstauslegung als Interpret Platons und nimmt diese Selbstauslegung radikal ernst: er deutet Plotins Philosophie mit aller Konsequenz als systematische Rekonstruktion der Metaphysik Platons auf der Grundlage der Dialoge und der Zeugnisse über Platons „ungeschriebene Lehre". Plotins Metaphysik des überseienden Einen und seiner „Hypostasen" Geist, Seele und Materie realisiert den „Platonismus als System" (S. 227-54). In zwei weiteren Kapiteln behandelt Gerson zentrale theoretische und praktische Aspekte von Plotins Platonrekonstruktion: den Begriff der Materie (S. 257 ff.), das Verhältnis von Sein und Werden (S. 263 ff.), die Kategorien der intelligiblen Welt (S. 270 ff.) und Plotins konsequent monistische Deutung des Verhältnisses der Unbestimmten Zweiheit zum absoluten Einen (S. 276 ff.) sowie das Verständnis des menschlichen Selbst als denkende Geistseele (S. 284 ff.), die Gleichwerdung mit dem Göttlichen als Ziel des Lebens (S. 293 ff.) und Plotins vehemente Verteidigung der Freiheit und moralischen Verantwortlichkeit des Menschen gegen den naturalistischen Determinismus der Stoiker (S. 299 ff.). Gerson bestätigt dabei in der großen Linie das Ergebnis, zu dem schon Krämer in seinem Ursprung der Geistmetaphysik (1964) kam, ebenso der Rezensent in Der Aufstieg zum Einen (1992): Plotins Philosophie ist viel weniger originell und enthält viel mehr genuinen Platon als allgemein angenommen (S. 305 ff.). Das spricht nicht gegen, sondern für Plotins herausragenden Rang als Denker: er ist der eigentliche Wiederhersteller der Platonischen Metaphysik, als den ihn schon Proklos gepriesen hat. Erst durch das Medium der Metaphysik Plotins erkennen wir, was „Platonismus" in seiner philosophisch anspruchsvollsten und systematisch kohärentesten Form ist. Und genau darum erfassen wir auch erst durch Plotin den wahren denkerischen Rang Platons, die ganze philosophische Kraft seiner Ansätze und Einsichten.

Zu den wichtigsten Erträgen von Gersons reichem Buch gehört die Einsicht in die enorme innere Variationsbreite dessen, was legitimerweise „Platonismus" heißen kann. Das läßt sich auch auf Gerson selbst anwenden. So sehr man seine energische Neubestimmung des Platonismus aus dem anti-naturalistischen Grundansatz Platons und seine vorbehaltlose Öffnung für die kontinentale Platondeutung begrüßen darf, so möchte man doch seinen Interpretationen in manchen Details widersprechen. Daß etwa Platons Anti-Nominalismus ausgerechnet gegen die Eleaten gerichtet sein soll (S. 12), leuchtet mir überhaupt nicht ein – im Gegenteil: Parmenides legt mit der Einheit von Denken und Sein (B3 DK) das Fundament des Anti-Nominalismus. Mein Dissens gilt speziell manchen Aspekten von Gersons Plotindeutung. Sie ist die Verstandesansicht einer Vernunftphilosophie. Plotins paradoxienverliebter Denkstil, seine gegen die Gegenstandsfixiertheit des rationalen Denkens konsequent andenkende und auf Entgegenständlichung abzielende Dialektik, seine explizite Kritik am Aristotelischen Widerspruchsprinzip (die Cusanus und Hegel aufnehmen und radikalisieren), seine konsequent negative Theologie des absolut transzendenten Absoluten, die konstitutive Bedeutung, die Platons Parmenides – und speziell die erste Hypothese (137 C – 142 A) - für Plotins Begriff des Einen hat – all das kommt zu kurz oder bleibt unterbelichtet. Statt dessen wundert man sich, wenn Existenz und Essenz im Einen zusammenfallen sollen (Plotin spricht dem Einen beides ab) oder wenn das Eine als Urgrund der Ideen alle Ideen schon in sich enthalten soll (Plotin lehrt dagegen, daß die Unbestimmte Zweiheit als Vorform des Geistes die Ideen im Transzendenzbezug zum undenkbaren Einen selber erst hervorbringt und dadurch Geist wird). Ein ganzer Abschnitt behandelt das Gute als Eros (S. 280-2) – Gerson nimmt da ein kühnes Gedankenexperiment Plotins in VI 8, 15 als dogmatisch gültige affirmative Aussage, obwohl Plotin affirmative Aussagen über das Eine sonst (besonders auch in VI 8) kategorisch ablehnt.

Doch der Dissens betrifft nur Details. Ich kenne keine andere englischsprachige Monographie, die Plotins Selbstauslegung als Interpret Platons so konsequent zur Grundlage der Plotindeutung nimmt und die so energisch für die Legitimität von Plotins Rekonstruktion der Metaphysik Platons eintritt. Mit Gersons Buch scheint die „Tübinger Schule" endlich auch in der anglophonen Welt angekommen zu sein. Gerson rezipiert sie von einem eigenen und originellen Ansatz aus, der eine wichtige neue Perspektive eröffnet. Man wünscht diesem wichtigen Buch viele aufmerksame Leser. Es würde eine Übersetzung ins Deutsche verdienen.

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2014.07.30

Vanda Zajko, Ellen O'Gorman (ed.), Classical Myth and Psychoanalysis: Ancient and Modern Stories of the Self. Classical presences. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. ix, 374. ISBN 9780199656677. $150.00.

Reviewed by Steven Z. Levine, Bryn Mawr College (slevine@brynmawr.edu)

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In this engaging volume on Classical Myth and Psychoanalysis, Vanda Zajko and Ellen O'Gorman present eighteen essays from a 2009 conference at the University of Bristol, where they are Senior Lecturers in Classics. Produced for the Classical Presences series at Oxford University Press, these writings preserve lively traces of the oral performance by an international roster of scholars committed to—and critical of—the interpretation of Greek and Roman mythology through the various theoretical frameworks of psychoanalysis.

As Zajko and O'Gorman explain in their introduction, just as nineteenth-century classical humanism provided Sigmund Freud an allegorical template of human psychology in the myths of Oedipus and Narcissus, so too has psychoanalysis provided classicists with powerful tools to anatomize the protagonists of classical mythology in the past 100 years. The editors maintain that the minute attention to the symbolic order of language by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan most closely resembles the classicist's methodology of close linguistic scrutiny, but that this Lacanian approach to classical studies is now being replaced by a "new humanism", in which postcolonial perspectives resist the interpretation of ancient characters and cultures according to the problematic protocols of modern psychoanalysis. In the end the editors resist this political reaction, and insist on retaining the fundamental psychoanalytic insight that any interpretation of the narratives of the past is necessarily implicated in our own "investments and projections" (p. 17). The technical names for these unconscious crossings of anxiety and desire between analysts and analysands, critics and their texts, are transference and counter-transference, and it is this principle of self-reflection that justifies the volume's subtitle—ancient and modern stories of the self—precisely because it is the contested juxtaposition of ancient myth and modern self that is here at stake. What we all do, therapists, patients, and scholars alike, is to strive to tell new stories against the inertial resistance of the old. That work, they maintain, remains interminable.

Part One, Contexts for Freud, opens with five attempts to read Freud's readings of antiquity and mythology in alliance with the anthropology, archaeology, philology, and politics of his era. Bruce M. King elaborates on Freud's reference in his 1937 essay "Analysis Terminable or Interminable" to the dualism of the philosopher-poet Empedocles, whose cosmic forces of Love and Strife foreshadow the psychoanalyst's similar opposition between the psychological drives of Eros and aggression. In his 1933 letter, "Why War?," to Albert Einstein, Freud acknowledges that the psychoanalytic theory of the drives is a kind of mythology but wonders whether Einstein's theory of universal physical forces is not a kind of mythology too. In Empedocles' Strife, Freud finds support for the tragic view that the harmony between self and other to which Love aspires endlessly comes undone by the persistence of human aggression.

In contrast, Daniel Orrells turns from Philia to the Phallus, noting Freud's amassing of ancient phallic amulets as an archaeological confirmation of his controversial insistence on the primacy in the unconscious of the male fear of castration and the female envy of the penis. Here the science of archaeology rather than ancient cosmology provides a putative genealogy for Freud's patients' fantasies of the detachability of the male sexual member. Freud sees their fantasy of the phallic mother foreshadowed in the androgynous mother goddesses of Egypt and Greece, much to the consternation of colleagues like Ernest Jones who looked instead to the Judaeo-Christian Bible for narratives of the immutability of the female and male sexes.

It was in fact the Roman Catholic Church that was Freud's "true enemy" (p. 67), as he wrote in a letter in 1937, not long before he was forced to seek asylum from Nazi-controlled Vienna in London, where his collection of antiquities is today arrayed in his study at the Freud Museum in Hampstead. Richard H. Armstrong considers the untimeliness of Freud's fight not only with the Christian church but also with his fellow Jews, whose law-giver, Moses, is re-interpreted by the dying analyst as an Egyptian monotheist who was murdered by the Jews he had converted to his cause. The Jews atoned for this murder by embracing the deity they had formerly spurned, thus confirming for Freud the anthropological myth of the primal horde of brothers who transcend the murder of their clan father by negotiating a tenuous social solidarity. Catching himself in an attempted verbal murder of Father Freud, Armstrong ends by marveling that his own effort "to subvert, expose and perhaps even ridicule" (p. 74) the scientific pretension of the myth of the primal horde reaffirms the authority of Freud as an unsurpassable figure of myth himself.

David Engels considers the different ways in which psychoanalysts appropriate the myth of Narcissus. Whereas Freud sees narcissism as a transitional stage between auto-erotism and object-love, Jung rejects Freud's stress on sexuality as the origin of creativity and interprets the myth as "a paradigm of each human in search of self-completion" (p. 95). Alone among the early analysts, Otto Rank distinguishes between the version of the myth in Ovid, where Narcissus rejects the advances of the nymph Echo, and lesser-known versions where the rejected lover is male (Conon) or where the reflected image evokes his beloved twin sister who died (Pausanias). Engels concludes that analysts self-reflexively discover themselves as they bend over the mirrors of their patients' words.

Vered Lev Kenaan anchors the play between surface and depth not in the myth of Narcissus but in that of Pandora, described by Hesiod as bearing visible traits of female beauty and an invisible interior of enigmatic femininity. Freud refers only indirectly to this myth in the pseudonym of his famous patient Dora, so Lev Kenaan turns instead to an article, "Pandora's Box," by one of the first classicists to acknowledge the influence of psychoanalysis, the British scholar Jane Harrison. In an error of translation that had associated Pandora, since the 16th century, not with Hesiod's capacious pithos, or funerary urn, but rather with a diminutive pyxis, or jewelry casket, Harrison sees the repression of autochthonous mother goddesses in favor of the girlish femininity of the domestic law of marriage. In the dynamic superimposition of patent and latent meanings, the figure of Pandora thus "introduces the idea of the unconscious into the history of humanity" (p. 113).

The essays of Part Two, on Freud and Vergil, exhibit the ways in which the unruliness of the unconscious is domesticated and dramatized by the scholarly text. Gregory A. Staley quotes the famous epigraph of the Interpretation of Dreams, "If I cannot bend the higher powers, I will move the infernal regions" (Aeneid 7.312), noting that Freud later glosses the passage as pointing to the unconscious working of repressed impulses in conscious life. This exhortation by Juno, the enemy of the fleeing Trojan heroes who will become the legendary founders of Rome, provides a point of identification for Freud's opposition to the Roman church, although Staley does not bring himself to notice the euphony of Juno/Jew-No, appropriated by Freud as an anti-antisemitic badge of honor.

This is the kind of attention to the aural play of the signifier that Jeff Rodman demonstrates in his essay on this same text. An untranslated piece of Latin in a German book of dreams, Juno's phrase has the indigestibility of an hysterical symptom lodged in Freud's throat. Juno does not get her wish for the destruction of Aeneas and all his clan, but consoles herself with Jupiter's agreement to suppress the Trojan name in the issue of the marriage of Aeneas and Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, father of the Latins. It is the symptomatic persistence of those Latin sounds that permits Freud to enjoy his vain defiance of the paternalistic authority of his era just as Juno had done.

At the fulcrum of this volume, teetering on the vanishing plane between past and present, is the essay on death by Ika Willis. Meditating on the swoon of Augustus' daughter Octavia when hearing Vergil's lament for the death of her son Marcellus, Willis finds herself swooning as the passage is radically transformed by the death of her own father. "I know, now, what is happening in Octavia's body" (p. 158), she confesses, as the after-effects of these deaths transubstantiate past into present in the face of an unknown future.

Having suffered the death of my mother while reading this volume, I was intimately pierced by the essay by Victoria Wohl that opens Part Three, Beyond the Canon. Reading Aristophanes' Wasps alongside Isaeus' speeches on Athenian inheritance law, Wohl finds their unlikely conjuncture in the Lacanian figure of the paternal superego whose admonitions of obedience are transgressed in the comic and tragic excesses of extramarital, septuagenarian sex. In both instances the desire of the sons for their lawful inheritance is shown to be as immoderate as the paternal lust that contravenes that law.

Parental obedience is also Kurt Lampe's theme. Reading Musonius Rufus by way of Lacan, Lampe argues that the Stoic's claim that the filial obedience that is owed to one's father may be suspended by the superior obedience that is owed to Zeus eventuates in the kind of "willful recalcitrance" (p. 196) that is expressly condemned by Stoic principle.

The duplicity of the Lacanian view of law that foments the very conduct that it forbids is also at stake in Erik Gunderson's account of the gap between the exemplary tales of Roman heroes by Valerius Maximus and the hysterical emptying out of their exemplarity by the sheer repetitiveness of his rhetorical style.

Finally, Paul Allen Miller concludes this section with a consideration of satire in Juvenal and Persius through the category of the abject in the post-Lacanian feminist Julia Kristeva. The scatological enjoyment of satire reinforces what Augustine knew, that we are born between faeces and urine, abject exudates that must be repressed for polite society to establish itself as a fictive symbolic ideal.

Part Four, Myth as Narrative and Icon, takes us away from these Lacanian accents on the body, apart from Oliver Harris's commentary on Lacan's seminar on the death of Antigone, imprisoned for insisting on her brother's rite of burial in defiance of the law of the Theban state. The incestuous issue of Oedipus and Jocasta, Antigone renounces the desire to live in her relentless drive toward a Narcissus-like death of self-abnegation.

Another mythic sufferer, Prometheus, finds his pains spiritually sublimated as the pangs of creativity in the essay by the British artist and critic Meg Harris Williams, daughter of Martha Harris and step-daughter of Donald Meltzer, two of Melanie Klein's faithful Anglo-American followers. Another post-Kleinian, Wilfrid Bion, provides the theoretical optic through which Prometheus is equated with psychoanalyst and patient who together strive to convert unbearable corporeal symptoms into bearable symbols in the mind. The therapist and classicist Marcia Dobson, together with her husband John Riker, turn to Heinz Kohut's self-psychology which they liken to the myth of Eros in Plato's Symposium, where the divided halves of our mythical ancestors, punished for insulting the gods, seek reunification with each other just as patients today seek reintegration of the split-off aspects of their originally unified selves.

Very different is the essay by Jens De Vleminck, who turns to the little-known work of the Hungarian psychiatrist Lipót Szondi, who rejected Freud's stress on the Oedipal linkage between sexuality and aggression in favor of locating a primordial aggressive instinct in the figure of the Bible's first fratricide, Cain.

The rejection of Freud culminates in Part Five, Reflexivity and Meta-Narrative, in which Mark Payne supplants the Oedipal scenario of rival fathers and sons of literary history with Aristotle's maternal analogy, appropriated by Hannah Arendt, for an artist's love for her or his works. Callimachus and Flaubert are cited as authors who self-reflexively enter into the lives of their characters, but it is just such parental intrusiveness that Page duBois rejects in the ultimate chapter of the book. Originally performed as a keynote address in Bristol, duBois here recants much of her path- breaking work of 25 years ago by re-branding the paternal knowing of the psychoanalyst as an illegitimate form of paternalism in the service of patriarchal imperialism. Although she is now "reluctant to colonize" (p. 316) ancient characters and cultures, like her hosts Zajko and O'Gorman she remains committed to "the self-conscious, self-critical, self-reflexive mode of knowing recorded in Freud's accounts" (p. 319). I do too.

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2014.07.29

Paul G. P. Meyboom, Eric M. Moormann, Le decorazioni dipinte e marmoree della domus aurea di Nerone a Roma (2 vols.). Babesch supplements, 20. Leuven; Paris; Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2013. Pp. viii, 287; vii, 190. ISBN 9789042925458. €105.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Hariclia Brecoulaki, Institute for Historical Research, Section of Greek and Roman Antiquity (KERA), The National Hellenic Research Foundation (hbrek@eie.gr)

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Table of Contents

The Domus Aurea—the imperial villa extending from the Palatine to the Esquiline, built under Nero after the great fire of AD 64—is historically tainted by the hostility and polemics of Roman rhetors toward extravagant building and private luxury in general, condemned as signs of vice and moral decadence. Nonetheless, the fabulous Golden House falls within the imperial tradition of establishing emperors as "builders" , and its excessive luxury—which included an enormous amount of marble on walls and floors, extensive use of gold leaf on stucco decorations, precious stones, ivory, and extraordinary artworks — marks the culmination of a general tendency, introduced under the Julio-Claudians, to lavishly decorate private spaces, as is clearly evidenced by the Sperlonga cave and the Baiae nympheum.1

In the present book Paul G. P. Meyboom and Eric Moormann offer, for the first time, a comprehensive overview of the paint and marble decorations preserved on walls and vaults of the pavilion that originally formed part of Nero's Domus Aurea, the biggest palace in Rome during the first century AD. The pavilion, located in the Augustan Regio III alongside the southern slope of the Oppian Hill, preserves around 150 rooms, which are hidden underneath the modern Parco delle Terme di Traiano. Despite the fragmentary and uneven state of preservation of the pavilion , the accurate documentation provided by the authors has rendered it possible to appreciate all that is left today of Nero's ambitious project of interior decoration, including paintings, stuccos and marble veneers. Particular attention is given to the chronology, typology and style of the painted decoration.

The book is in two volumes, (text and plates), with the first divided into eight chapters that follow the preface.

Chapter 1 (" L'edificio sul colle Oppio: storia della scoperta e degli scavi") serves as an overview of the history of the Domus Aurea during various chronological periods. A brief discussion covers the years after Nero's suicide in 68 AD up to the time when Trajan had the rooms of the Oppian pavilion filled to build his Baths on the same site. With their rediscovery in the late 15th century, the "grotesque" vault decorations became a source of inspiration for famous Italian artists. After the first excavations in the late 18th century, a fine series of engravings were ordered with color reconstructions of the best preserved painted ornamentations —most of which are reproduced in the second volume of the book—, precious testimony of the paintings that are no longer visible today. Earlier scholars undertook further research in the rooms of the pavilion during the first half of the 20th century; more systematic studies were carried out by L. Fabbrini 2 and a few others during the 1980s.

A synopsis of the results of all previous research is provided by the authors in Chapter 2 ("Status quaestionis e silloge delle ricerche sull'edificio sull'Oppio") with a table of relevant bibliography produced between 1706 and 2004, which is divided into seven distinct fields of information. Debated issues regarding the topography, the function, and the chronology of the pavilion are clarified with accurate coloured plans by M. Oberndorff and J. Porch (figs 0.7-0.10). Previous theories, which had considered the pavilion an official residence or a building devoted to Sol, are dismissed and the authors agree that its function was for entertaining, an opinion held by most modern scholars. Although there is consensus regarding the identification of the whole building as Nero's main palace, the exact function of a number of rooms still remains unclear, as for example those of the upper story or the group of rooms around the rotunda 128, connected with Suetonius' description of the round dining room with its revolving dome. The previous documentation of the pavilion's painted decoration is discussed, with comments on the quality and accuracy of the watercolours produced from the 16th to the 20th centuries and on the more recent photographic evidence. An introduction to the Fourth Pompeian style of the paintings and their chronology is provided, but matters of chronology and style are treated in detail in the next chapter. An appendix to this chapter offers a selection of texts by Lucan and Seneca criticizing the emperor's luxurious building (Domus Transitoria or Domus Aurea?), without, however, any substantial comments by the authors.

The next chapter ("Proposta per una cronologia del padiglione e delle decorazioni") methodically investigates the possible phases of construction and decoration of the pavilion. With regard to the debated question on whether the pavilion could have been constructed in a single chronological phase, the authors, after reviewing all previous positions and on the basis of their personal observations on workshop activities, conclude that both the construction and the decoration of the building took place within the limited period of Neronian building activity, between AD 64-68, with some minor works perhaps carried out under Otho. In an appendix at the very end of the chapter, the architectural chronology of the pavilion recently proposed by L. F. Ball 3 is discussed and rejected by the authors.

With Chapter 4 ("Le decorazioni dipinte: stili pittorici e botteghe") the authors enter the core of their topic, that is, the decorative work in the pavilion. Since they convincingly maintain that the decoration of the building occurred within the span of four years, the stylistic differences of the painted compositions are explained as the simultaneous activity of various workshops. The decorations are considered on the basis of certain general factors: technique, colour preference, and recurring decorative patterns and motifs. The authors recognize the activity of three distinct workshops, A, B and C (illustrated in the architectural plan, fig. 0.12), each one using a different version of the Fourth Style. Workshop A is characterized by a monumental and architectural style which demonstrates a predilection for the use of the basic colour triad of yellow, red and blue in saturated hues, against a white background (figs 50, 55, 114, 115). This workshop was mostly active in the east wing, but also in rooms in the center of the pavilion and in the west wing. Workshop B uses an ampler colour palette and a more expensive gamut of pigments, which produce hues of green, purple, orange and pink, and its activity is concentrated around the pentagonal court 80a (figs. 74, 80, 87). Workshop C produces miniature style architectural elements on monochrome black, yellow and red backgrounds, to decorate the rooms around the peristyle in the west wing (figs. 31, 32, 33, 35). The authors dismiss all previous attributions of various wall decorations to the painter Famulus—connected by Pliny the Elder with the Domus Aurea (HN 35.120)—with the possible exception of the megalographiae which originally decorated the Golden Ceiling of the pentagonal court's main room (fig. 80).

The following chapter ("Rapporti fra le decorazioni e le funzioni degli ambienti") explores the authors' efforts to establish a relationship between the quality of the decoration and the function of the pavilion's rooms. From their analysis it seems that the amount of marble veneers of the walls constitutes the main criterion for defining the hierarchy of the rooms and their function. The extensive use of marble also stresses the difference between the more luxurious decoration of the Domus Aurea and the Campanian buildings, a practice that, according to the authors, "fa vedere una nuova moda nell'applicazione di materiali costosi che fanno ricordare i palazzi storici dell'Oriente"(p. 29).

Chapters 6 ("Le decorazioni parietali in rapporto con il IV Stile pompeiano") and 7 ("Le decorazioni delle volte") provide a detailed analysis of the decorations on the walls vaults and ceilings of the pavilion, corroborating the research on the typology and chronology of the Fourth Style. The two major categories of wall decoration — marble wall panels and mosaics or wall paintings, although often combined—are described in separate sections with comparisons taken from Pompeii and Herculaneum. The painters follow the traditional horizontal division of the painted systems, but the use of stucco relief to frame painted panels or to emphasize architectural elements is considered an innovative element of the Domus Aurea decoration. The major painted schemes used are the typical Fourth Style "facciata da parata" and the "stile a campi", with juxtaposed panels separated by architectural or ornamental frames and bands. Nonetheless, as the authors suggest, the two styles are never mixed within a same decorative zone. Figured panels on the walls are rare because they are substituted by marble paneling, but a few mythological scenes, often associated with the world of Dionysos, can be found on the vaults, very badly preserved today (figs 28, 33, 37, 80).

A large section of the book is devoted to the stylistic and typological analysis of the vaults and ceilings of the pavilion. After a very extensive survey of the development of ceiling decoration from the Archaic period and up to the 1st century AD—too long I believe for the purpose of the present volume —the authors discuss the Domus Aurea decorations in comparison with the four major composition schemes of the Fourth Style, concluding that "il periodo del IV Stile è stato il culmine della storia della decorazione antica di soffitti e volte" (p. 131). The most popular scheme is the coherent central composition of the vault, which is used by all three workshops. Candelabra were occasionally used by workshops B and C and, rarely, the most traditional patterns of parallel and symmetric compositions. It is to the authors' credit that, in their final chapter ("Descrizione degli ambienti e delle loro decorazioni"), they provide a complete catalogue with elaborate descriptions of all the decorations of the pavilion and shorter descriptions of the architecture.

This book offers an important contribution to the understanding of the Domus Aurea decoration both as a valuable testimony of the traditional Fourth Style's systems and its more distinctive innovative expressions, formed within the specific context of the pavilion, where decoration indeed defined hierarchy. The new architectural plans of the pavilion and the colour reproductions of the old engravings and watercolors of parts of the decoration no longer preserved today are particularly valuable. Regrettably, the original photos of the parts of the decoration that actually exist are of poor quality, taken, in most cases, by the authors themselves. We may also regret the absence of any kind of technical photography likely to enhance the remaining traces of colour, and of scientific analyses of the paintings that would allow us to better evaluate the nature of the colors used by the three different workshops. Although the authors tend to repeat similar kinds of information in several sections of the book (as particularly evident in chapters 4-7), their constant practice of providing conclusions at the end of each chapter and section helps the reader focus on the major points. The text is full of useful notes, contains an exhaustive bibliography up to 2010, and a thematic index.



Notes:


1.   J. Elsner, J. Masters (eds), Reflections of Nero. Culture, history and representation, Chapell Hill; London, 1994.
2.   L. Fabbrini, "Domus Aurea: il palazzo sull'Esquilino", LTUR II, Roma, 1995.
3.   L.F. Ball, The Domus Aurea and the Roman Architectural Revolution, Cambridge, 2003.

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2014.07.28

Janet Burnett Grossman, Funerary Sculpture. The Athenian Agora, 35. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2013. Pp. xxxii, 246; 128 p. of plates. ISBN 9780876612354. $150.00.

Reviewed by Anja Slawisch, German Archaeological Institute, Istanbul (anja.slawisch@dainst.de)

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This impressive and ambitious volume examines the complete assemblage of funerary sculpture found between 1931 and 2011 in the Athenian Agora and dating from the Classical to Roman periods. Although none of the pieces considered were found in situ or near a grave context the assignment of each to the category of funerary sculpture is the result of a careful and persuasive comparative approach. The book is divided into three main parts. The first part (chapters 1 to 3) covers the history of research, and provides an overview of funerary sculpture across Athens and Attica before focusing on the Agora. The second consists of a catalogue with 389 entries, the items carefully described and discussed over nearly 150 pages (chapters 4 to 6). The third comprises 128 high quality photographs taken by Angelique Sideris for every item. The extensive bibliography at the beginning, alongside the concordance and a number of well-designed indices at the end enormously facilitate easy navigation of this well-structured and well-edited book.

In her first chapter (1–7), Grossman offers a critical overview of more than a hundred years of study of Attic funerary sculpture. She begins with the corpora of A. Conze and C. Clairmont, who tried to formulate a chronological framework, and then continues by critically examining more specialized approaches. These include studies of individual motifs and gestures; statistical analyses of iconographical features; the typology of grave monuments; the attempt to contextualize monuments against the background of ancient beliefs and rituals; and the incorporation of inscriptions and figured scenes into the interpretations. Grossman expresses strong criticism for a twentieth-century tendency "to view gravestones more as cultural artifacts than as objects of art and ritual" (5), and instead prefers what she calls a "holistic approach", that is, a strong empirical method that attempts to examine the specific category of material as a whole from all possible angles. She argues that with the scope for the application of anthropological theory is limited given her evidence comes from secondary contexts and is mostly fragmentary. Whilst acknowledging the current attention given to historical context, Grossman focuses instead on careful primary observation of the artifacts.

In chapter 2, which deals with funerary sculpture in Athens and Attica as a whole (9–64), Grossman prepares the ground for the following chapters. She provides a chronological summary of the long but fluctuating practice of using grave markers. The tradition started with monumental vessels in the 8th century, followed by the development of free-standing human figures (kouroi and korai), stelai or columns with sirens or warriors, until legislation limited their size and type from ca. 480 to 430 BC. Despite the new rules, grave markers never entirely disappeared in the 5th century: instead white ground lekythoi and simpler stelai seem to have replaced earlier monumental types. A resurgence in the number of stone grave monuments with representations in relief is attested after ca. 430 BC. Another decline in quantity is noticeable from the end of the 4th and throughout the 3rd century BC when the columnar monument becomes the favorite type, until new restrictive legislation by Demetrios of Phaleron mostly puts an end to the production of grave monuments in Athens. In the Roman period a revival of the practice becomes apparent: at this time relief representations of standing men or women outnumber family groups and, unlike in earlier periods, figures face the viewer directly. A more individualized hairstyle may be chosen, indications of occupation are depicted or iconographic elements from Roman or Egyptian divinities are added. Some motifs or the content of inscriptions point directly or indirectly towards ethnic identities.

Grossman argues that despite changing fashions, over the full period, peculiar "Attic quality" of the sculpture does not change (16–17). Most items, of course, were made from Pentelic marble and share a similar carving technique, a mostly symmetrical composition and depth, which resulted very often in a more naturalistic depiction of the deceased than is seen elsewhere. Beyond this definition, however, the reader is left with no clear idea of how to define, differentiate or recognize this "Attic quality". Clearly someone who has worked with the material as long as Grossmann has, will have greater insight than many of the potential readers of this book but for the present the reader must simply believe (which this reviewer does)—or not— the author's assertion of the existence of a distinctive and persistent Athenian style.

Turning towards the organization of burials within Attic cemeteries, Grossman notes that the practice of grouping graves seems to have started during the Classical period, probably coincidental with the reappearance of monumental graves after 430 BC. Grossmann briefly discusses the different types of funerary monuments (19–27). She defines several different groups cross-referencing with specific examples of each from her subsequent catalogue: stelai" and naiskoi (divided into 9 sub-groups), lekythoi, loutrophoroi, animals, and columnar monuments. In a short paragraph she also discusses the evidence for coloring and patterning, listing corresponding examples from her catalogue. The space given to inscriptions and epitaphs is extremely short but Grossman discusses them in more detail in the catalogue section. Less than a third of the corpus, 111 of 389 monuments, bear any inscriptions or traces of writing.

The longest section is dedicated to iconography (29–52). Here eleven tables help the reader to navigate the motifs, variations and interconnections through time by assembling the relevant catalogue numbers into the different categories. Grossman observes the uniqueness of each monument within a set of general norms: even if motifs are repeated there appear to be no mass-produced models. She also offers some valuable wider interpretations. For example, she argues that the depiction of women on these monuments offers a more positive view of a woman's status than previously assumed by evaluating the written sources alone (29). Scholars will find here a very rich and well-structured source of information with further readings and comparisons.

In the final section of this chapter, Grossman provides a discussion of the chronology of funerary sculpture from Athens (52–64). The dating of funerary monuments has been and always will be somewhat vague since fixed dates are extremely rare. Those hoping for a five-year or even a quarter-century chronological attribution for every piece will be disappointed because Grossman, quite rightly, rejects such misleading overprecision. Instead she provides detailed facts, clues, comparisons and observations to narrow the field down to the most likely time spans for production and deposition. In so doing she has created an extremely useful companion to the chronology of funerary sculpture.

In her third chapter, Grossman focuses on the 389 examples from the Athenian Agora (65–74) giving an overview of the corpus subsequently assembled in the catalogue. Here the reader finds an introduction to the organization of the catalogue and an explanation of the methods used to identify reliefs as funerary. Important factors in this definition are the scale and style of the figures, the thickness of the stelai, and the carving technique employed. The subsequent sections on iconography and dating are short but best understood in the context of the previous chapter on Athenian funerary sculpture in general: the author very sensibly has tried to avoid unnecessary repetition of earlier observations. In a paragraph on the status of certain Agora sculptures as evidence for foreign residents, Grossman points to a group of gravestones apparently imported from Eastern Mediterranean centers during the Hellenistic period. If, as she suggests, "some metics in Athens chose to import their grave markers from their cities of origin" (72), it is worth noting the fact (apparently not mentioned by Grossman) that monuments in Attic style of possible Athenian origin have been found as grave markers of Athenians abroad on the islands of Thasos, Imbros and elsewhere. 1

The catalogue is organized chronologically, starting with the funerary sculpture of the Classical period (chapter 4, nos. 1–218), followed by the examples of the Hellenistic (chapter 5, nos. 219–239) and Roman periods (chapter 6, nos. 240–389). Within these chapters the pieces are arranged in a logical manner: divided into iconographic categories and within each category ordered by date. No information seems to be missing from Grossman's well-structured and thoroughly researched material: a truly impressive amount of information has been gleaned from these mostly fragmentary pieces.

Overall, this book is a real treasure trove for students and researchers working in the field of funerary sculpture. With her careful separation of facts from interpretation, her concisely expressed critical evaluations and comments, Grossman provides an excellent foundation for future research. There are no fancy or fashionable theories or wild speculations to be found here: instead, profiting from 20 years of work on this material, she has presented a timeless scholarly book which will no doubt be consulted for many years to come.



Notes:


1.   Cf. G. Daux, "Chronique des fouilles 1964: Thasos," BCH 89, 1965, 976 no. 6 fig. 4 and P. Bernard – F. Salviat, "Inscriptions funéraires," BCH 91, 1967, 609–610 no. 66 fig. 39; A. Slawisch, Die Grabsteine der Römischen Provinz Thracia, (Langenweißbach 2007), 155–161.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2014.07.27

Andreas Heil, Die dramatische Zeit in Senecas Tragödien. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 357. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013. Pp. vii, 250. ISBN 9789004244535. $136.00.

Reviewed by Theodor Heinze, Wiesbaden (theodor.heinze@t-online.de)

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Table of Contents

Contributions on Senecan tragedy frequently treat the issue of staging, a topic with a long and well-known genealogy: Are Seneca's tragedies meant for staging, recitation or reading? A few names may suffice to remind the reader of the history of the prevailing negative answer still found in some quarters: "tragoedia rhetorica" (Friedrich Leo), "dissolution of the dramatic body in favour of a presentation of affects" (Otto Regenbogen), "recitation drama" (Otto Zwierlein), "dissociation of the dramatic body" (Ulrich Schindel). To put it in the words of its latest advocate, Christoph Kugelmeier, "Seneca's tragedies cannot have been real stage dramas." 1 Positive answers have been given by scholars such as Ludwig Braun, Ernst A. Schmidt and Dana F. Sutton, whom Heil less often adduces. Last but not least, an impressive line of successful productions has demonstrated the adaptability of Senecan tragedy to the modern stage.

In line with the development of a positive stance, Heil 2 adresses in this book (which is a revised Habilitationsschrift) the management of time in four of Seneca's tragedies: Thyestes, Hercules Furens, Troas, and Medea. His declared aim is to show that "many of the asserted temporal anomalies do not stand critical examination" (p. 8). The thrust of the book, thus, is dramaturgical alias performance or production criticism as stipulated by Sutton and Schmidt. How the action is actually staged is not important for Heil; what is important is that the text intends a certain stage action (although he forgoes a discussion of intentionality as a term). Even if he has manifold observations on the chronodramatic structure of single tragedies and the corpus as a whole, Heil does not aspire to present a temporal aesthetics as such.

In the introduction (1-12), Heil presents his research program and reviews the current research. He has chosen the four tragedies for the particular temporal problems they pose, which have been the object of several articles by William H. Owen and Jo-Ann Shelton. These scholars affirm that these plays display an unorthodox handling of dramatic time; Shelton even qualifies the dislocation of space and time as an element of Senecan mannerism. Amongst others, Heil also refers to Alessandro Schiesaro, who maintains that Seneca, by the disruption of tragic time, achieves Verfremdung and that temporal anomalies are signals for the fictionality of the plays.

Heil's method consists of a close reading of the text. He specifies two conditions for a correct reconstruction of the time structure: first, one has to take into account the accompanying stage action; second, one has to pay attention to the perspective of the individual characters, as perception of time is subjective. Finally, he shows how Seneca makes considerable use of the dramatic function of this reconstructed temporal structure. For terminology of dramaturgy, he relies entirely on Manfred Pfister's magisterial treatment of the subject. 3 It is difficult to do justice to all of Heil's painstaking interpretations within the limited space of this review. Therefore, I shall set forth the main line of argument on each of the four tragedies and present a few chosen examples of passages discussed.

The first chapter (pp. 13-70) is given to the temporal problem in Thyestes constituted by the way the flight of the sun, i.e. its "reverse run," is read. Earlier interpreters supposed it to be dissolved into single scenes by every new focalizer (messenger, chorus, Atreus, Thyestes); the characters do not appear to follow a temporal succession, but look at the same phenomenon from different perspectives, thus giving the impression of a repetition of the event. Heil convincingly shows, with astronomical detail at hand, that Seneca makes intentional use of it, as the ensuing time window allows him to present the different reactions of the stage characters to different phases of the cosmic event one after the other. Thus, the dramatic action develops successively within the time span of a single "dying day" (periturus dies, l. 121). In his section on the character Thyestes (pp. 41-55), Heil plausibly suggests that the flight of the stars does not repeat itself for Thyestes, but that he lives through a hallucination which is a déjà vu only for the audience; at the same time, the troubled perceptions of Thyestes constitute a psychologically nuanced portrait of character.

In his chapter on Hercules Furens (pp. 71-122), Heil shows that the apparent contradiction in act two marked by Shelton—i.e., that Amphitruo, Megara and Lycus know nothing of Hercules' return from the underworld, although it is mentioned by Juno in the prologue—disappears when one recognizes that they have not overheard her. Elaborating an earlier contribution, 4 Heil also refutes the idea maintained by earlier scholars that the chronological contradiction implied by Amphitryon's assumption of Hercules' return from the underworld at ll. 520-523 is an indication of an experimental use of dramatic time. He shows that it is rather a subjective illusion of Amphitryon triggered by his emotional state at the end of act two.

In the chapter on Troas (pp. 123-162), Heil reinterprets the first two acts and choruses. Against Owen, he demonstrates that there are no intertwinements in the temporal structure and reconstructs a linear progression of the action. Regarding the first and second scene of the second act, Heil attacks the circularity of an argument advanced by Joachim Dingel in favour of the dissolution of the dramatic body. Developing a lead given by Willy Schetter, he convincingly shows that both scenes are exposed independently of each other in the prologue, the appearance of Achilles reported by Talthybius and the dispute of Pyrrhus and Agamemnon being reactions to one and the same event, i.e., the allotment of the Trojan women. A further point Heil makes is that Calchas was able to overhear Pyrrhus and Agamemnon in the second act, because he was on stage during their dispute, and that it is only because Agamemnon fails to notice him, that he delegates to Calchas his problem of doing justice both to the Trojan women, in particular Polyxena, and to his Greek subordinates, in particular Pyrrhus, and that Calchas, taking advantage of Agamemnon's indecision, demands not only the death of Polyxena, but also that of Astyanax. The qualification, however, of the dispute between Pyrrhus and Agamemnon as an "intermezzo" or a "play within the play" (p. 161) does not seem lucky, particularly because this dispute, as Heil himself notes, is important for the continuing action.

In his interpretation of the temporal structure of Medea (pp. 163-212), Heil considers that what is important for Seneca is the parallel development of the off-stage wedding ceremonies and the on-stage revenge action, with the final scene having to be read as a perverted domum deductio. Therefore, the first chorus, Heil assumes, does not accompany the domum deductio, but simply expresses the wish for the ceremonies to begin; this chorus is not a mimetic song, but the exposition of an ideal wedding procedure motivated by Medea's perversion of such a procedure in the prologue. Following Anthony J. Boyle in finding the absent presence of the wedding a crucial point in the praetexta Octavia, Heil suggests a dumb show for the wedding procession both in Octavia and in Medea, the latter taking place "on stage or in the space beyond the stage" (p. 174). 5 Heil also assumes that the lunar eclipse which occurs before the setting of the sun on this wedding day (ll. 28f., 874-876), is the rare selenelion (a lunar eclipse in combination with a visible sun), to which Seneca alludes in l. 794 horrore novo terre populos, a phrase fulfilling Medea's menace at l. 27f.

Heil summarizes the following points in the conclusion to his study (pp. 213-226): first, attention to the subjective perception of time by characters allows the reinterpretation of a number of passages; second, Seneca makes sophisticated use of the concentration of the action on one day to intensify suspense; third, Seneca achieves concentration of the action by flexible handling of time through compression or dilatation; fourth, the chorus and the nameless characters are sufficiently defined by its function within its context, so that it stops serving as a warrant for temporal succession; fifth, dramatic rhythm is used to portray characters. Finally, Heil stresses that his research on the temporal structure of Senecan tragedy does not replace but enhances other structural principles and literary phenomena of the plays.

This is a densely argued and convincing contribution to the dramaturgical criticism of the four tragedies discussed, with a positive result regarding their intended performance. The book is not an easy read, despite helpful summaries in the middle and end, but more of a running commentary. Still, it will be an education to disagree with the many fine observations. For dramatic conventions and handling of plot, Heil adduces fitting parallels from the corpus Senecanum as well as from Latin and Greek New Comedy. He is particularly strong in applying astronomical expertise to relevant passages. Occasionally, he even notes reception (93-94, in Shakespeare, Richard III). There also are critical suggestions: p. 18 defence of the Etruscus reading nox alia at Thy. 51; p. 20, Thy. 105 abunde. i gradere ad infernos specus, a metrically doubtful elision; at p. 138 n. 56, Tro. 245 petam instead of petat; at p. 52, attribution of ll. 1035-1036a to Atreus, so as to arrive at a successively developing action; at p. 47 n. 113, re- interpretation of the solar eclipse in Od. 20, 356f. in terms of a vision of the seer Theoclymenus. Harry M. Hine once wrote 6: "In the debate about staging neither side can deliver a knock-out blow to the other." Although Heil's aim was but to reconstruct the temporal structure as intended by the text (and although he disagrees with the sharp-edged putting of the alternative), he has added considerably to the argument concerning the stageability of these plays.

The book is equipped with a bibliography and an index locorum and rerum (227-250). Its overall production is excellent. There are few typos and maladjustments, which do not impede understanding.



Notes:


1.   Chr. Kugelmeier, Die innere Vergegenwärtigung des Bühnenspiels in Senecas Tragödien. C. H. Beck, Munich 2007 (Zetemata, Heft 129), 233.
2.   Heil is co-editor, with Gregor Damschen, of Brill's Companion to Seneca. Philosopher and Dramatist. Brill, Leiden 2013 (Google preview), to which he himself has contributed a section on Vision, Sound, and Silence in the 'Drama of the Word' (543-556), while the relevant chapter on the present subject, used by Heil, is by E. A. Schmidt, Space and Time in Senecan Drama, 527-542. Heil does not, however, mention Th. D. Kohn, The Dramaturgy of Senecan Tragedy, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 2013, reviewed by Eric Dodson-Robinson, in: BMCR 2013.11.02.
3.   Manfred Pfister, Das Drama. Theorie und Analyse. 11th edition, Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2001 (1st ed. 1977); English translation of 5th ed. 1982: The Theory and Analysis of Drama. Transl. from the German by John Halliday. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1988.
4.   A. Heil, Die Illusion des Amphitryon (Seneca, Hercules Furens 520-523), in: Mnemosyne 60, 2007, 253-268; see also his Die Waffen des Hercules. Zu Seneca, Hercules Furens 1229-1236, in: Philologus 144, 2000, 146-149.
5.   Heil does not expressly mention Wilfried Stroh's suggestion to realize the first chorus back stage; see W. Stroh, Heroides Ovidianae cur epistulas scribant, in: Ovidio poeta della memoria. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi. Sulmona, 19-21 ottobre 1989. A cura di G. Papponetti, Rome 1991, 201-244, at 234 n. 174.
6.   Seneca, Medea. With an Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary by H. M. Hine. Warminster 2000, 42.

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2014.07.26

Danielle L. Kellogg, Marathon Fighters and Men of Maple: Ancient Acharnai. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xiv, 348. ISBN 9780199645794. $125.00.

Reviewed by Jeremy Trevett, York University (jtrevett@yorku.ca)

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Acharnai was the largest of the demes of Attica, and it is certainly one of the best known, at any rate to readers of classical Greek literature. Its citizens were immortalized as the belligerent chorus of Aristophanes' earliest surviving play, and Thucydides in a well-known passage (2.20.2-3) writes of the Acharnians' desire in 431 to overturn Pericles' defensive strategy by marching out and fighting to protect their land. In this volume, based on her University of Pennsylvania dissertation, Danielle Kellogg seeks both to provide a comprehensive account of the deme, and also to contribute to wider debates about rural Attica, and the place of the demes in the Athenian polity.

In Chapter 1 Kellogg investigates the location of Acharnai and settlement patterns within the deme. Rejecting previous views, she argues convincingly that Acharnai was not a single contiguous settlement; rather, there were at least three separate sites: a main civic centre, to the south-west of the modern town of Menidhi, where the deme theatre has recently been discovered, and a number of outlying villages. She characterizes the overall settlement pattern as mixed and infers from the lack of evidence for domestic architecture in any of the deme's nuclei that many of its inhabitants were dispersed throughout the deme. This, Kellogg argues, makes sense as a strategy for the exploitation of the large and intensively farmed area that Acharnai covered.

Chapter 2 deals with demographic questions: how many Acharnians there were, and how many people, citizens and others, lived in the deme. Using a variety of techniques, Kellogg concludes that in the classical period there must have been at least 1,600 male Acharnians (of all ages), and that the total population of the deme may have been as high as 10,000. Specific attention is directed to the passage of Thucydides (2.20.4) in which it is claimed that in 431 Acharnai on its own contributed 3,000 hoplites to the Athenian army. Kellogg agrees with the scholarly consensus that this number is impossibly high, and she tentatively accepts Polle's emendation of ὁπλῖται to πολῖται, on the basis that 3,000 is plausible as a rounded estimate for the number of Acharnians (again of all ages), at a time when the citizen population of Athens was at its highest. In the second half of the chapter Kellogg looks at the evidence for internal migration: Acharnians living elsewhere, and non-Acharnians moving into the deme. Her conclusions are inevitably tentative and impressionistic: Acharnai was a place that people moved to and from, but at the same time many Acharnians retained ties with, i.e. for the most part continued to live in, their ancestral deme.

Chapter 3 deals with the political and, more briefly, economic life of the deme. Kellogg starts with a discussion of deme agorai or assemblies, and she concludes (surely rightly) that these took place in Acharnai itself, probably in the theatre or in the sanctuary of Athena Hippias, rather than in the city. A survey of the deme officials of Acharnai reveals similarities with other demes, but also the existence of a post, that of deme secretary (grammateus), that is unattested elsewhere. This, she suggests, may have been a consequence of Acharnai's unusual size, and the consequent heavy volume of deme business. Acharnai also contributed a few more councilors to the Athenian Boule than other demes (22 out of 500). This number has proved problematic for those scholars who believe that the 50 councilors of each tribe were organized into three roughly equal groups based on the trittys or Third to which they belonged. Kellogg discusses the matter fully, and concludes that there is no evidence for the formal transfer of any of Acharnai's councilors to a different trittys. The section on the 'economic structures' of the deme is concerned exclusively with public finances: the leasing of deme property, including the theatre, and an interesting series of inscriptions relating to the acquisition from landowners of water rights for the fourth-century aqueduct that passed through the deme. Neither here nor elsewhere in the book is there a systematic discussion of the broader economic life of Acharnai.

The next chapter deals with the construction of deme identity—not by the Acharnians themselves, but by others. Unsurprisingly the prime witness here is Aristophanes, who in Acharnians depicts the men of the deme as tough and belligerent, and identifies their main economic interests as charcoal-burning and viticulture. On the basis of the word δρυαχαρνεύς ('oaken Acharnian') coined by an unknown fifth-century comic playwright, Kellogg argues that this image was not original to Aristophanes. But since we do not know the date of the play in which this word appeared, her argument is not decisive. Kellogg suggests that in both Aristophanes and Thucydides the Acharnians are depicted as being aggressive and quick to anger by nature. This may indeed have been a stereotype that was already current by the start of the Peloponnesian War, but our evidence is so closely associated with the devastating situation in which the Acharnians found themselves in the early years of the war that I am inclined to doubt it. Moreover, leaving the war to one side, one might wonder how much of the picture of the Acharnians as crabby and belligerent should be seen as a version of a more general stereotype of the countryman: one thinks for example of Knemon in Menander's (admittedly later) Dyskolos, or more broadly of Victor Davis Hansen's characterization of Greek farmers as tough no-nonsense individualists. Interestingly, as Kellogg shows, the picture of Acharnai in Hellenistic and Roman sources is different: in these periods its associations were with rustic tranquility, and with the god Dionysus and the ivy that was his emblem. This is well observed, though it is odd that she quotes without comment the reference to durus Acharneus in Seneca's Hippolytus: does this suggest that the earlier stereotype of Acharnian toughness had not wholly disappeared?

The final substantive chapter deals with religion, both within the deme and as engaged in by Acharnians outside it. Here a combination of the testimony of Pausanias and inscriptions allows us to piece together something of the busy religious life of Acharnai, though it proves difficult to identify the location of many of the cults that we know to have existed. Attention is also paid to the epigraphic evidence for the participation of Acharnians in cults elsewhere in Attica.

A short conclusion is followed by three appendices. The first and second contain respectively a useful gazetteer of archaeological sites in the deme, and a selection of deme inscriptions. The third is a massive prosopography, more than a hundred pages long, of all known Acharnians down to c. 86 BCE. It includes a critique of the 2004 prosopography of the deme compiled by Maria Platonos-Yiota, and seems, on the basis of selective checking, to be both complete and accurate. That being said, its usefulness to readers of the book is likely to be limited, I fear. Part of the problem is that it is poorly integrated with the rest of the book: Kellogg only rarely refers to the prosopography when writing about individual Acharnians. The frequent cross-references within the prosopography would have been helped by a system of numeration. There is also an oddity that may correspond to some prosopographical principle, but baffles me: in quite a few places the same individual has two separate entries, both a substantive one and another (apparently) noting his relationship to another member of the deme. Thus the celebrated fourth-century banker appears as both Πασίων and Πασίων—Ἀπολλόδωρος (the em-dash denoting 'father of'). More generally, I question the point of devoting so much space in a print book to a database of names that can be neither searched nor updated. Surely nowadays such scholarly resources belong in an electronic format, as Kent Rigsby argued in this journal as far back as 1995, in a review of two works of Athenian prosopography (BMCR 95.05.02).

The volume is generally cleanly produced, though there are a number of errors in the Greek (and on p. 46 all the iota subscripts are missing from an eight-line passage of Thucydides). There are nine rather indistinct figures, including a sketch map of the area of Acharnai which makes more sense when read alongside (say) Google Maps. John Traill's map of the Kleisthenic demes from his The Political Organization of Attica is reproduced in colour at the end of the book, but I did not notice it being referred to in the text.

To conclude, this is a solid and reliable guide to the ancient deme of Acharnai. Kellogg writes clearly and shows a secure knowledge of the relevant literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence. On many contentious points I am persuaded by her arguments. The prosopography itself is an impressive, if arguably misplaced, piece of scholarship. Scholars working on any aspect of Acharnai, or on rural Attica more generally, will find it a profitable read. That said, the evidence is, with the exception of Aristophanes, quite scrappy, and it is not intended as any real criticism of the book to say that the deme, substantially buried as it now is beneath the sprawling northern suburbs of Athens, does not quite come to life. One still gets a more vivid sense of life in an Athenian deme from Demosthenes' speech Against Euboulides or, differently, the sacrificial calendar of the deme Erchia. Nor am I entirely persuaded that the study of any individual deme, even a large and important one such as Acharnai, is likely to lead to any but modest advances in our general understanding of the local communities of Attica.

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2014.07.25

Paul Cartledge, After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars. Emblems of Antiquity. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xxx, 203. ISBN 9780199747320. $24.95.

Reviewed by Matthew P. Maher, University of Winnipeg (ma.maher@uwinnipeg.ca)

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Unfortunately, and as Paul Cartledge correctly points out, although arguably more decisive than Marathon, Thermopylae, or Salamis, the Battle of Plataea has "been unjustly forgotten to a greater or lesser extent" (p. 8); indeed, sadly it has been relegated to the "register of long oblivion" (p. xii). Clearly then, one of the motivations behind this book is the author's attempt to properly recognize the importance of the Battle of Plataea "as a key and pivotal moment not just in ancient or classical Greek history, but in all Western history" (pp. xii-xiii). More specifically, however, "the main point of the book…is to try to identify and to explain the function(s) the Oath of Plataea was designed to serve in its immediate monumental context" (p. 30). Thus, Cartledge's book comprises an investigation into the wider context, significance, and the question of historical memory surrounding the Battle of Plataea and the (in)famous eponymous Oath, including the reception of both in antiquity through later times.

After outlining the motivations behind the book in the Preface (pp. xi-xv), in Chapter 1 (pp. 3-11), Cartledge, reasonably enough, begins with a brief discussion about our primary source of evidence and its original context; i.e., the marble stele from a shrine in Attica (deme of Acharnae), on which the Oath of Plataea is actually preserved. While Cartledge has no reservations that this stele itself is authentic (created ca. 350-325 BCE), he doubts that this was the oath actually sworn by the Greeks before the battle of Plataea in the summer of 479 BCE (a conviction explored in the subsequent chapter). The author then proceeds to outline the main subjects and themes that will appear in each of the book's chapters, which, when taken together, aim to provide "a deeply contextualized history of the crucially important but too often neglected Battle of Plataea and to offer a rich portrait of the ancient Greeks' cultural ethos during one of the most critical periods in all ancient (not just ancient Greek) history and its subsequent reception" (p. 11).

Chapter 2 (pp. 12-40) is one of the most important chapters in the book, in which the author examines the Oath as preserved on the Acharnae stele. Cartledge discusses the "when, where, how, and by whom the stele was erected" ultimately in an effort to determine the proper context(s) "within which it should be read – literally as well as metaphorically – by us" (p. 14). After a translation and detailed commentary of the stele's inscription, the question of the inscription's authenticity is addressed by comparing its content with the two other extant versions of the Oath1 noting the similarities and differences. Specifically, the author asks: "does the Acharnae stele reproduce a text that is a substantially accurate transmission of the oath originally formulated and sworn in the summer of 479" (p. 28)? Although Cartledge concedes that there might have been some sort of oath binding the Greeks together, he argues (I think correctly) that it still does not mean the Acharnae stele is an accurate telling of the Oath. Ultimately, he notes that whether the stele is verbally or literally authentic is beside the point; instead, what is important is the function(s) the Oath was meant to serve in its immediate context. Finally, the author concludes this chapter with an attempt to explain the appearance of (and relationship between) the Oath of the Ephebes and Oath of Plataea, both of which are displayed on the Acharnae stele. In short, Cartledge maintains that the introduction of the Ephebia and the Ephebic Oath (instituted by Lycurgus, ca. 330s BCE) were inspired by Spartan practices, and that there is a connection between this stele (which he dates to two or three years after Chaeronea) and the introduction of the formal Ephebate. Thus, having both the Oath of the Ephebes and Oath of Plataea on the same religious stele and adding to the former "a version of the supposedly ancient but in fact much more recently cobbled together Oath of Plataea...would serve both to link present and future with glorious past – and help viewers…to get over the awfulness of the all too recent…debacle at Chaeronea" (p. 40).

Although one can read the Oath of Plataea as Athenian nationalistic propaganda, it is of course, also a religious document, and Chapter 3 (pp. 41-58) examines the Acharnae stele in its proper religious context. In this chapter, Cartledge examines ancient Greek oath-taking (including the Plataea Oath) as essentially religious agreements by stressing the ubiquity of oaths among the ancient Greeks and the role of the gods as both guarantors and punishers of their nonobservance. Moreover, the author looks at cross-cultural comparisons (from Medieval England to modern jihadists) as well as ancient Greek comparanda (e.g., Athenian Assembly, Olympic Oath, etc.) to show the mechanisms and importance of Greek oath-swearing. The chapter concludes with a look at some of the consequences of breaking oaths (including religious pollution, or miasma) as well as a brief history of stasis (civil unrest) in Athens.

Chapter 4 (pp. 59-87) is largely concerned with Herodotus – our main source for the Battle of Plataea – and the history/cultural features of the main protagonists of the Graeco-Persian Wars: Persia (pp. 65-79) and Hellas (pp. 79-87). In providing relevant background information, Cartledge sets the stage for Chapter 5 (pp. 88-121), which deals with the Battle of Plataea itself. This chapter opens with the author repeating how the Battle of Plataea "could almost be called the great unknown battle in one of the great wars of history" (p. 88), providing a number of plausible reasons why it is so often (now as then) overshadowed by Salamis and Thermopylae. The author proceeds to prepare the military scene by providing the historical background, events, and logistics leading up to the battle. While freely admitting "we shall never be able with total confidence to recapture "what actually happened" in the critical months of August-September 479, culminating in the Battle (or battles…) of Plataea" (p. 101), Cartledge proceeds to describe the Battle of Plataea (and Herodotus' version of it) in a very clear and succinct manner.

In many ways, Chapter 6 (pp. 122-161) can be viewed as the bookend to Chapter 2, and it is in this important chapter where Cartledge returns to the larger issue of reception and the Battle of Plataea as historical memory. Intrinsic to the ideological ownership of the battle's memory is the Greek combative/competitive (agonistic) spirit. Regarding commemorative competition, the author first discusses the lesser known Covenant of Plataea (different from the Oath), which is a series of four proposals allegedly agreed upon by the loyalist Greek allies after the Battle of Plataea. 2 Cartledge argues convincingly why he believes the Covenant is not authentic, and why it was probably a later Plataean invention to aid in religious tourism; most significantly, he believes it probably dates to the same time (and shares the same inspiration) as the Oath of Plataea.

The author continues by looking at the specifically Spartan commemorations of the Graeco-Persian Wars as a whole, but also the Battle of Plataea specifically. For example, although the famous Serpent Column at Delphi was a Panhellenic victory monument to celebrate the Panhellenic victory at Plataea, by pointing out that the Spartans were listed first among the participants (and Athenians second, followed by the rest), Cartledge clearly shows how the battle's "memorialization became a focal point of contention among eternally rivalrous Greeks and their cities" (p. 124). In addition to discussing individual poleis, the author also provides a historical summary of the particular contributions of some of the key individuals who participated in the struggle over the memory of Plataea (including the Spartan Regent Pausanias, the poet Simonides, and the historians Herodotus, Thucydides, Ctesias, and Ephorus-Diodorus). Cartledge concludes this chapter (and his overarching argument) by examining Athens in the later fourth century, a time when Athens had lost any semblance of its former glory or power (especially with the rise of Macedon). It is in this context, he maintains, that the "Athenians' recollections of their ancestors' heroic deeds became more and more strident, and more and more "recovered" rather than authentic memories" (p. 154). Using specific examples of Demosthenes and Lysias talking about the glories of Athens during the Graeco-Persian wars, Cartledge concludes that "it is precisely from this quasi-nationalistic strand of Athenian self-justifying, self-magnifying mythopoiesis… that in my view the Plataea Oath as preserved on the Acharnae stele somehow emerged" (p. 155).

In Chapter 7 (pp. 162-167) Cartledge reiterates the book's central themes (e.g., the Battle of Plataea's wider significance in its own and later times; the significance of the inscribed oath of Plataea as a historical source, the authenticity of the oath), before listing (and briefly discussing) some of the contemporary issues to which these larger themes relate, including: cultural wars over the politics of the past; modern war memorials; case study in military history; examples of unjustly forgotten battles; debates on the virtues of national military service; and the role of religion in politics.

In the Preface, the author notes that "this book is addressed to a wide general readership, but yet it has some academic scaffolding and infrastructure too" (p. xiii). Indeed, in this book Cartledge has struck that perfect balance between readability and academic authority that is often difficult to achieve. Moreover, whether referring to the Athenians who died at Marathon as the "magnificent Few" (p. 21) or the "700 magnificent troops" sent by Thespiae (p. 96), the author's passion, respect, and reverence for the subject is unmistakable and shines through consistently throughout the book. Furthermore, Cartledge provides a very clear and concise summary account of the Battle of Plataea itself, while offering insightful and critical thoughts, questions, and ideas to elucidate Herodotus' otherwise notoriously frustrating, "brief and lacunose" (p. 89) description. Indeed, the author makes clear in a few short pages, what others fail to do with twice the space.

There are no significant problems I took issue with in this book, and instead there are only a few minor (perhaps even superficial) points to bring to attention. For example, in his commentary on the Oath's translation from the Acharnae stele, Cartledge maintains that line 39-40 of text: "And if I steadfastly observe the oath, as it has been written" – must refer to the inscription itself, and not to an earlier document. In other words, he believes it is unlikely "to be a reference to the alleged aboriginal oath sworn actually before the Battle of Plataea…since there wouldn't have been the time or probably the material available for anyone to write it down" (p. 25). I find this reasoning questionable. Surely the loyalist Greeks would have had means to write stuff down (communication and dispatches are crucial in any military campaign); and time? The recording of the few sentences that comprise the oath would have been a matter of minutes. The other minor concern I found relates to the Oath as preserved by Lycurgus and Diodorus. 3 Cartledge notes that both literary versions omit the curse at the end found on the Acharnae stele, but that both "add a clause which constrains the oath-takers from rebuilding the sacred buildings destroyed by the "barbarians" (Persians) and binds them to leave the ruins to stand as a permanent memorial" (p. 28). This clause has very important repercussions in the authenticity debate (as Cartledge acknowledges), however, it is a point that is not really addressed further in the book. If the literary depictions of the Oath added this clause, how does one explain away the fact, in Athens for example, that there was a complete absence of construction on the Acropolis for some 40 years after the Persian sack? The author does so by maintaining that "this clause was controverted in practice, admittedly after a considerable interval of time" (p. 28). This of course raises the question: Was this clause controverted or was it actually observed? Truly neither option can be disregarded.

Ultimately, After Thermopylae is completely consistent with the commonsense, well-written, and comprehensive scholarship that we have come to expect from Paul Cartledge. His endeavour has produced a carefully and well-researched book, which stands as an important contribution not only to ancient Greek warfare but also to the larger issues of reception and cultural memory. On several occasions in this book, the author unabashedly admits that there are things we may never know surrounding the important, if often neglected, Battle of Plataea. Nonetheless, Cartledge continues to ask the important questions and provide reasonable hypotheses. This is one of the most important things that I took away from this excellent book, and I am certain I will have these questions in mind next time I teach the Battle of Plataea in my Ancient Greek Warfare class.



Notes:


1.   The two surviving literary descriptions of the Oath of Plataea can be found in Lyc. 1 81 and the later version is found in Diod. 11.29.2-3.
2.   The source is Plut. Arist. 21.
3.   See note 1.

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2014.07.24

Michel Sève, Patrick Weber, Guide du forum de Philippes. Sites et monuments, 18. Athènes: École française d'Athènes, 2012. Pp. 91. ISBN 9782869582415. €19.00.

Reviewed by Christopher Paul Dickenson, Radboud University Nijmegen (c.dickenson@let.ru.nl)

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The "sites et monuments" series of archaeological guides begun by the École française d'Athènes in the late 1970s has maintained a consistently high standard. Devoted to sites where research has been carried out under the auspices of the French School, each guide is written by leading archaeologists who have been actively involved in fieldwork at the site in question and manages to be accessible to a general readership while containing a sufficient level of detail and academic discussion to make it a useful scholarly tool. Previous highlights include the guides to Delos, Delphi and Thasos. This new publication on the Forum of Philippi is a welcome addition to the series and more than lives up to the expectations created by its predecessors. Its authors, Michel Sève and Patrick Weber, have worked at Philippi since 1977, studying and re-evaluating its monuments and publishing a series of important articles. The guide is a valuable summary of the main results of their work.

Philippi is an important archaeological site. The city was originally founded by Philip II in the late Classical period but a Roman colony was planted there following the famous nearby battle at which Octavian and Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius. Under the Empire the city became one of the most important and prosperous in the province of Macedonia. Roman rebuilding and rearrangements at Philippi were so extensive that archaeologists have managed to discover very little about the older, Hellenistic city. Philippi seems to have hung on to its Roman character until very late in its history. Unlike the other well-known colony in Greece, Corinth, where Greek became the standard language of public inscriptions in the 2nd century, Latin remained in use at Philippi until much later. The site was abandoned at some point in late antiquity and was never resettled, which has enabled large areas to be excavated. All this means that the site provides a unique window onto the political, cultural and economic life of a thoroughly Roman town deep within the Greek speaking east.

The forum was the heart of the city and was located toward the northern edge of the inhabited area - the walled area being much larger and including the acropolis to the north. The forum consisted of two terraces to the northeast and southwest of the supposed decumanus maximus, itself a part of the famous Via Egnatia, which cut through the city from northwest to southeast. The upper terrace seems to have been home to an important series of temples, presumably including the colony's Capitolium, but construction of an enormous basilica in late antiquity destroyed most of the earlier remains and has made knowledge of that area extremely fragmentary. The lower terrace, with which this guide is primarily concerned, was the forum proper. At its fully developed extent in the 2nd century AD it was a fully enclosed square covering an impressive two hectares. One side backed onto the Via Egnatia. (Although this was technically the northeast edge the guide employs the useful conceit of imagining the forum to be aligned with the cardinal directions so that this becomes the northern edge. I will follow this convention here). In the centre of this edge was a monumental speaker's platform and arranged to either side of it, in near perfect symmetry, were a series of monuments, including two fountains and two ramps that led up to the road. The principles of symmetry and axiality were strong features of the forum as a whole. At the northern ends of both the eastern and western sides a temple was situated, mirroring each other and facing inward toward the square. The western temple has been identified as the city's curia. Connected to the porches of these temples a continuous pi-shaped stoa surrounded the square on its east, west and southern sides. Behind the colonnades were various rooms, most identified as having fulfilled some function in the administration of the colony – to the east possible dining rooms for magistrates and a library, to the west a basilica-like hall and a tabularium. Lining the rear of the southern stoa and facing outwards onto an east-west road was a row of shops. On the other side of the road was a large, fully enclosed market building (referred to but not discussed in this guide), which suggests that the forum itself was a centre of politics and administration rather than commerce.

The first excavations of the forum were carried out in the 1920s and 1930s by French scholars. Most of the area was cleared by the campaigns led by Paul Collart whose 1937 book, Philippes ville de Macedoine, depuis des origines jusqu'à la fine de l'époque romaine, remains the most comprehensive discussion of the site and of Philippi's history. For a visitor to the site today it is easy enough to discern the overall shape and extent of the forum but understanding the individual monuments and buildings is a challenge because remains from different periods cut through one another and architectural blocks, uncovered during excavation, are now piled up and scattered across the site. Up to now visitors have had to make do with the guidebook to Philippi published by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, which, for all its strengths, devotes only four pages to the forum. This new guide does an admirable job of helping the reader to make sense of the confusing remains. The book is also very useful in providing an account of current interpretations of the various buildings and monuments, many of which have changed since Collart's day, largely through subsequent restudying of the monuments by the guide's authors.

The guide begins with a brief two-page overview of the history of Philippi. This is followed by a more detailed discussion of the development of the forum itself, covering sixteen pages in which the main buildings and monuments are introduced. The excavators have been able to distinguish three monumental stages in the site's development: the first was in the reign of Claudius when the main lines of the square's design were set out and early versions of some of the buildings were constructed. In the second monumental phase, which can be easily dated to the reigns of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius by building inscriptions, most of the buildings were replaced and the forum was given the unified appearance sketched above. It is this phase of the site's history that is best known. The forum retained its basic design until it fell out of use in late antiquity although a short-lived "third monumental phase", dated to around 500 AD saw significant renovations of some of the buildings: colonnades were replaced with rows of arches and walls were pierced with new doors. These modifications accompanied major transformations elsewhere in the city as it became Christianized, such as the construction of the basilica on the upper forum terrace, of another one in the open space of the market building, and of an octagonal church to the east of the main forum. Philippi was apparently abandoned some time in the 7th century as suggested by the absence of later coins among the excavated finds.

After an overview of the types of building techniques used on the forum at Philippi, with useful photographs of the different styles of masonry from the different periods, the guide to the site proper begins. Over the remaining 47 pages the visitor is led systematically around the main monuments. Setting out from the upper terrace the guide takes a roughly clockwise route around the main forum, beginning with the eastern temple, moving around the east, south, west and north sides before ending up on the decumanus maximus which separates the two terraces. The descriptions of the buildings and monuments are extremely clear. Although the emphasis is on architecture the discussions include attention to questions of function, problems of interpretation and significant finds associated with individual buildings and monuments. The authors never lose sight of the problems that non-experts or first time visitors might have in trying to interpret the remains and frequently include helpful pointers as to where visitors might look to best be able to discern particular phases in a building's history. The descriptions are accompanied by a great number of photographs, mostly in black and white, and beautiful architectural reconstruction drawings (plans, facades and axonometric projections) of buildings by Marc Fautrez.

The guide is very well organized. Each monument has been given a number, which is always cited when the monument is mentioned in the text. The book is equipped with several useful plans of the various phases of the forum's development on which the numbers also appear in bold print so that they are easy to find. In addition to the illustrations that accompany the text the inside covers feature fold-out maps of the site of Philippi as a whole and of the actual state of remains of the forum (front and back respectively). In the back of the book are five fold-out pages of illustrations: architectural cross sections of the eastern and western wings, extended elevations of each of the square's four sides and two maps of the central area of the city in both the high Roman and early Byzantine periods. The book includes an index for easy reference and a glossary of potentially unfamiliar words (mainly architectural terms but also including certain Latin terms for political offices, etc), that are always asterisked in the main text. Throughout the book two different size fonts are used - slightly larger for the most important information, slightly smaller for more detailed discussion, thereby serving the needs of both tourists and academics. Unlike the guides to Delos or Thasos, there are no footnotes or lists of relevant publications after each individual entry but there is a comprehensive bibliography at the back. In short, every effort has been made to make the information contained in the book easy to find and easy to use on the ground when visiting the forum. This is a small book and as such it is ideally suited to being carried around on site.

On the whole the book is a great success. It would occasionally have been useful to read more about how the identifications of certain buildings have been reached – in particular the Curia and Tabularium. Have they been given those names simply because we expect to see such buildings on the forum of a Roman colony? Considering that the book is clearly aimed not only at academics but also at tourists it would also have been helpful to have included an introductory section in which Philippi and its forum were placed in a broader cultural context. Non-specialist visitors to the site would be better able to understand its importance if the book had included a short discussion about what a Roman colony was and how Philippi compares to colonies in other parts of the Empire. A consideration of what exactly a forum was – what its standard features are and how the Forum of Philippi compares to fora elsewhere – would also have helped visitors make sense of the layout and appearance of the site and to think about how it would have been used in antiquity. Finally, translations of this guide and others in the series into other languages would be most welcome considering that many of the tourists who visit the site will not be able to read French. This suggestion is intended as a compliment because these guides – and this one in particular – are first class and deserve to reach as wide an audience as possible.

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