Monday, August 21, 2017


James R. Harrison, L. L. Welborn (ed.), The First Urban Churches 2: Roman Corinth. Writings from the Greco-Roman world Supplement series, 8. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016. Pp. xvi, 353. ISBN 9780884141112. $51.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Laura S. Nasrallah, Harvard University: The Divinity School (

Version at BMCR home site

Let me first offer disclosures: I was doctoral advisor to one of the contributors, and I now serve on the publication board of the Society of Biblical Literature, although I was not at the time of the submission and publication of this volume.

This co-edited volume investigates Roman Corinth and the relevance of its social, political, and economic context to the study of the apostle Paul's letters to the Corinthians. 1 and 2 Corinthians, written in the mid first century CE, are embedded within the New or Christian Testament and comprise more than two letters. 2 Corinthians, as we have it, is likely an edition of multiple letters, and 1 Corinthians is not in fact the beginning of Paul's correspondence with an ekklēsia in Christ at Corinth, since it mentions an earlier letter. 1 and 2 Corinthians are co-written by Paul, a Jew who professes Jesus as the Christ/Messiah. (3 Corinthians is an early Christian text that reads like a writing assignment to bored scribes to imitate a Pauline letter; Eddie Izzard's "St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians" is something else altogether.) Within a broader field of contemporaneous Jewish missionaries, Paul seeks to convince various Gentiles in Corinth that his teachings regarding social life, ethics, and theology are the right ones to follow (with mixed success, as 2 Corinthians indicates). Paul's letters, written before the term "Christian" was coined, are part of the evidence we have for Jewish diversity in antiquity and the appeal of Jewish ethics and practice to "the nations" or Gentiles. The Acts of the Apostles is a later text, with its own ideological agenda and a portrait of Paul which conflicts in various ways with his self-depiction; this text is nonetheless often used for reconstruction of Paul's life or of the life of the earliest Christ-community in Corinth. (In the volume under review, some authors use Acts to provide historical data for Paul's life, and some don't.)

These Christian Testament materials, as well as other early Christian writings, are relevant to those interested in Roman history, although they have generally been underutilized. So too, scholars of the New or Christian Testament often miss the opportunity to use a range of Roman-period sources. Both fields have suffered from the Tupperware syndrome of sealing our texts away in separate containers, and/or of thinking that our heuristic categories of Christians, pagans, and Jews were largely separate in antiquity.

The volume under review seeks to bring together the study of the New Testament and Roman history, particularly including archaeological remains. Moreover, its title, The First Urban Churches 2, situates it in relation to two larger fields. First, an earlier volume by the same co-editors, The First Urban Churches 1, provides methodological foundations; each chapter presents a case study or experiment, working across archaeological remains and a New Testament text. 1 Second, The First Urban Churches 2: Roman Corinth emerges in the wake of Wayne Meeks's influential The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul and retrospectives on that volume.2 Meeks emphasized the complexity of Greco-Roman social and economic life within the poleis of antiquity as an important context in which to understand the letters of Paul. The academic genealogy of Meeks and others is nicely summarized in Pettegrew's contribution in the volume under review (see p. 154), even as he insists upon the importance of looking at the broader countryside. The First Urban Church 2: Roman Corinth also takes part in a larger Zeitgeist regarding Roman Corinth, New Testament Studies, and archaeology, found in the volumes edited by Steven J. Friesen, Daniel Schowalter, and others, which bring together archaeologists, epigraphers, and scholars of the New Testament.3

The theoretical framework of The First Urban Churches 2: Roman Corinth is historical or historical critical, and all the essays to greater and lesser extent use archaeological remains, primarily epigraphic, to expand our understanding of the social, economic, and political life of the ekklēsia at Corinth.

James R. Harrison's "Introduction: Excavating the Urban Life of Roman Corinth," surveys the development of the Roman colony of Corinth up to end of the first century CE. The essay articulates five methodological desiderata (although this reviewer didn't understand the enumeration), which match the volume's commitment to placing New Testament texts within a broader historical context, including archaeological remains. This concern is important, and could be enhanced in several ways. Harrison works to reconstruct the "Corinthian group" which Paul addresses; it is unclear how this essay's reconstruction fits within recent debates about scholarly terminology of group, community, or house church.4 The chapter, with its concerns about ekklēsia and polis, would have been enriched by Anna Miller's study of 1 Corinthians and the political valence of the term ekklēsia even in Greek cities under Roman rule, as well as scholarship regarding civic life under the Roman Empire.5

Larry Welborn's "Inequality in Roman Corinth: Evidence from Diverse Sources Evaluated by a Neo-Ricardian Model" continues his important work on poverty. He describes the current scholarly impasse regarding the economic (and social) status of those in the ekklēsia in Christ at Corinth: Was a scholar like Meeks correct, that the range of social and economic status of Roman Corinth was mirrored in the ekklēsia to which Paul wrote, or is Justin Meggitt right that the majority of the community was poor?6 Welborn introduces a Neo-Ricardian model that predicts that land-owning urban elites will enjoy an increase in wealth and rural tenants, while urban wage laborers experience a downward economic spiral into poverty, as an increase in a population leads to scarcity of land relative to labor (p. 61). The chapter uses the Corinthian correspondence for a prosopographical study—limited given the available data— and argues that a Neo-Ricardian model fits Roman Corinth. The essay includes a helpful survey of some wealthy Corinthians who were freedmen. Further integration between chapters in this volume would have allowed Welborn to consider how his economic model might be impacted by Pettegrew's and other's theories about the diolkos, the expansion of the isthmus road, and harbor-trade routes.

Cavan Concannon's "Negotiating Multiple Modes of Religion and Identity in Roman Corinth" focuses not on Paul's thought or a singular narrative regarding those who followed Christ at Corinth, but on "some Corinthians," and particularly on the "im/migrant" identity of those whom Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians. Bilingualism, evidence of gods from Egypt and around the Mediterranean, "itinerant" myths central to Corinth but also well-known elsewhere: all these form the grounds for Concannon's argument that 1 Corinthians offers "some Corinthians new ideas about how to reconcile the problems occasioned by distance from home" (p. 101). Concannon also discusses the diverse conceptualities of ancestors that might inform practices of baptism of the dead in the Corinthian ekklēsia.

Kathy Ehrensperger's "Between Polis, Oikos, and Ekklesia: The Challenge of Negotiating the Spirit World (1 Cor 12:1-11)" is a close exegetical study. She explicates ancient ideas of spirits and daimones that inhabit not just the domestic sphere but also the civic, using this to contextualize Paul's argument that a diversity of daimones is not necessary: that all comes from the one God. This essay could have been further enriched by engagement with Caroline Johnson Hodge's work on mixed marriages7 and Plutarch's discussions of Apollo, divine presence, and daimones at the oracle of Delphi in De defectu oraculorum.

Michael Peppard's "Brother against Brother: Controversiae about Inheritance Disputes and 1 Corinthians 6:1-11" interprets the puzzling question: "Don't you know that wrongdoers will not inherit God's kingdom?" (Peppard's translation), reading it in light of depictions of legal controversiae in antiquity, particularly inheritance disputes between brothers. Peppard interestingly suggests that addressees of 1 Corinthians, frequently addressed as adelphoi, are enjoined to keep their arguments within the "family," and that the spirit/genius available to this new ecclesial family allowed Paul or another sophos to be able to judge the controversy. This reviewer would be eager to hear Peppard address how the enslaved or poor—and we know both are part of the community at Corinth—might receive and interpret such a passage in the context of their relation to the law in Roman Corinth.

David Pettegrew's "The Changing Rural Horizons of Corinth's First Urban Christians" explains how scholars of the Corinthian correspondence have relied on outmoded data regarding the diolkos, a paved roadway from north to south across the isthmus. Pettegrew details the current state of archaeological evidence and interpretation of this roadway, which do not indicate a system of portaging ships' cargo in the Roman period. This excellent chapter suggests a more important avenue for the study of early Christianity: the work under Nero of digging a canal across the Isthmus involved significant manpower, engineering coordination, and disrupted travel routes. The essay concludes with implications for the study of Paul at Corinth —at a crucial moment between its identity as a small colonial city and a bustling provincial capital.

Bradley J. Bitner's "Mixed-Language Inscribing at Roman Corinth" is a clear, technical discussion of epigraphic evidence. He rightly argues that scholars should attend more to the study of "mixed-language inscriptions and other inscribed instances of language contact at Roman Corinth" (p. 212). No clear connection to Paul's letters is made, but the chapter's methodology helps the non-specialist to think about the differences between bilingualism, code-switching, and other modes of multiple language use.

Fredrick J. Long's "'The God of This Age' (2 Cor 4:4) and Paul's Empire-Resisting Gospel at Corinth" argues that Paul's phrase "the god of this age" refers to the emperor(s), not a Satanic figure. The first portion of this chapter discusses imperial cult in Corinth around the time of Paul; the second treats passages in 2 Corinthians that the writer sees as evidence of a sophisticated argument against the emperors (see e.g. the chart on p. 256). The chapter begins with archaeological evidence local to Corinth, and it would have been strengthened by keeping this at the center of the essay: there is, for example, no discussion of how imperial veneration at Corinth compared to a city like Ephesos. The chapter's strong, close analysis of 2 Corinthians would benefit from engagement with Timothy Luckritz Marquis's work on Paul's language of triumphal procession and Shelly Matthews's study of language of mercy in early Christian texts in the context of Roman imperial rhetoric of clementia.8

James R. Harrison's "Paul and the Agonothetai at Corinth: Engaging the Civic Values of Antiquity" uses epigraphic evidence of agōnothetai to argue that while Paul does not upend the "Greco-Roman honor system," he does parody the cursus honorum in his fool's speech in 2 Corinthians 11-12. The essay provides a useful and interesting discussion of the Isthmian games as a site for athletics and oratorical prowess. The chapter could also have addressed performances of masculinity in oration, as well as Joseph Hellerman's argument about a Christian "cursus pudorum" in the Letter to the Philippians.9

The book bears the usual hallmark of an edited volume: unevenness. Depending on the chapter, contributions could have considered 2 Corinthians in more depth, knowledge of ongoing archaeological work is spotty, arguments regarding Paul's anti-imperial attitude are asserted rather than argued, significant scholarship on evolutions in the "epigraphic habit" is missing. Original languages for the inscriptions are unevenly provided. Small typographical errors, while not tragic, do exist (e.g., Sherry Cox for Sherry Fox, and the dreaded automatic spell checker disaster: "negotiators" for negotiatores). In addition, the overwhelmingly historical critical framework for the volume constrains the creativity and potential impact of these essays. For example, feminist scholarship is largely ignored (although Concannon's contribution is undergirded by feminist scholarship), and Harrison's admirable reference to postcolonial criticism in the introduction does not fully engage Bhabha's ideas of hybridity for understanding ethnicity in Roman Corinth. Some essays seem to grapple sub rosa with theology; better to discuss these openly and with an eye to constructive theological and historiographical purposes. I note that out of the eight contributors to this volume, only one was a woman, and I am not sure that any would identify as a racial or other minority.

In sum, this book adds depth and detail to the study of the Corinthian correspondence. It is particularly helpful for specialists in the Corinthian correspondence who wish to consider how to use archaeological remains and a broader historical context in their analysis of these letters.


1.   James R. Harrison and L. L. Welborn, eds., The First Urban Churches: Methodological Considerations. Writings from the Greco-Roman world supplement 7 (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2015). 
2.   Wayne Meeks, First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983).
3.   Daniel N. Schowalter and Steven J. Friesen, eds., Urban Religion and Roman Corinth: Interdisciplinary Approaches, Harvard Theological Studies (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 2005); Steven J. Friesen, Daniel N. Schowalter, and James C. Walters, eds., Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies on Religion and Society (Leiden: Brill, 2010), and Steven J. Friesen, Sarah A. James, and Daniel N. Schowalter, eds., Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality (Boston: Brill, 2014; full disclosure: I have an essay in this volume).
4.   E.g., Stanley Stowers, "The Concept of 'Community' and the History of Early Christianity," Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, vol. 23(3-4) (2011): 238-256; John Kloppenborg, "Membership Practices in Pauline Christ Groups," Early Christianity, vol. 4(2) (2013): 183-215; Jorunn Økland, Women in Their Place: Paul and the Corinthian Discourse of Gender and Sanctuary Space (New York: T & T Clark, 2004).
5.   Anna Miller, Corinthian Democracy: Democratic Discourse in 1 Corinthians (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2015). See also Onno M. van Nijf and Richard Alston, eds., Political Culture in the Greek City after the Classical Age (Leuven: Peeters, 2011); Arjan Zuiderhoek, The Ancient City (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017); and Cédric Brélaz's work, e.g., "Entre Philippe II, Auguste et Paul : la commémoration des origines dans la colonie romaine de Philippes," in Une mémoire en Actes: espaces, figures et discours dans le monde Romain, ed. Stephanie Benoist, Anne Daguet-Gagey, and Christine Hoet-van Cauwenberghe (Villeneuve-d'Ascq: Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2016).
6.   Justin Meggitt, Paul, Poverty, and Survival (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1998).
7.   Caroline Johnson Hodge, "'Mixed Marriage' in Early Christianity: Trajectories from Corinth," in Corinth in Contrast.
8.   Timothy Luckritz Marquis, Transient Apostle: Paul, Travel, and the Rhetoric of Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013); Shelly Matthews, "Clemency and Cruelty: Forgiveness and Force in the Dying Prayers of Jesus and Stephen," Biblical Interpretation 17 (2009): 118-146. Reprinted in Ra'anan Boustan, Alex Jassen and Calvin Roetzel, eds., Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity. (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2010), 117-144. Also see her Perfect Martyr: The Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
9.   Joseph Hellermann, Reconstructing Honor in Roman Philippi: Carmen Christi as Cursus Pudorum (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

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Alan J. Ross, Ammianus' Julian. Narrative and Genre in the Res Gestae. Oxford Classical Monographs. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Pp. xvii, 253. ISBN 9780198784951. $105.00.

Reviewed by Joachim Szidat, Riedholz (

Version at BMCR home site

Ross erörtert die Darstellungsweise Ammians unter Rückgriff auf moderne literaturwissenschaftliche Betrachtungsweisen wie die Narratologie oder die Intertextualität.1 Er behandelt Ammians Werk als literarisches und nur indirekt als Quelle für den modernen Historiker. Methodisch folgt er Kellys Darlegungen zu Ammian.2 Ross übernimmt bisweilen dessen Argumentation im Detail, so z.B. bei der Erörterung der Teilnahme Ammians an den Ereignissen im Westen (S. 76-78), um dann zur eigenen Interpretation überzugehen (S. 79/80), die sich aber methodisch nicht grundlegend von der von Kelly unterscheidet.

Ross will Ammians Werk unter drei Gesichtspunkten verstehen, nämlich erstens als solches der lateinischen Historiographie, zweitens als zeitlich letzten Beitrag eines Zeit- und teilweise Augenzeugen der geschilderten Ereignisse nach einer mehr als fünfundzwanzigjährigen Diskussion über Julian, an der auch andere Zeit- und Augenzeugen teilnahmen, die Julian unterschiedlich nahestanden, und drittens als erzählenden Text, in dem das Gewicht und die Bedeutung des Erzählers eng mit dessen eigener Person verbunden sind (S. XI). Der Erzähler tritt dabei als außenstehender Berichterstatter auf, gelegentlich aber auch als Teilnehmer an den Ereignissen, über die er berichtet.

Das Vorwort (Preface, S. V-XI) spricht von der Darstellungsweise und der Bedeutung Ammians für das Verständnis Julians, verweist auf die Bedeutung der Arbeiten Kellys für den Autor und legt auf S. XI die oben erwähnten Ziele des Buches dar. Dem Vorwort folgen der Dank an verschiedene Institutionen und Personen (S. XIII/XIV), das Inhaltsverzeichnis (S. XV/XVI) und eine Liste der Abkürzungen sowie Bemerkungen dazu (S. XVII). Es schließt sich das 1.Kap. an (In Search of the Latin Julian, S. 1-51), das vorwiegend methodischen Charakter hat. Es spricht von den historischen Darstellungen über Julian vor Ammian, über Erzählung und Geschichtsschreibung und über die Beziehung zwischen dem Text Ammians und dem narratee, vereinfacht gesagt dem Leser. Der Begriff narratee ist aber wesentlich komplexer und differenzierter. Es schließt mit einem Überblick über den Inhalt der folgenden Kapitel (Overview. S. 50/51). Ross unterstreicht dabei den Auswahlcharakter der von ihm erörterten historischen Ereignisse.

Kap. 2 diskutiert das Verhältnis von Erzähler und Teilnehmer am Beispiel von Gallus' Sturz und Silvanus gescheiterter Usurpation (S.52-95), Kap. 3 handelt von Tradition und Erneuerung in Rede und Erzählung am Fall von Julians Erhebung zum Caesar (S. 96- 125) und Kap. 4 von der Legitimierung Julians am Beispiel der Schlacht von Straßburg (S. 126-161). Kap. 5 erörtert, wie man Scheitern darstellt, und spricht von Julians Perserzug und Ammians Teilnahme daran (S. 162-202).

Es folgen ein Nachwort (Epilogue, S. 203-06) und ein Appendix. Das Nachwort faßt in gewisser Weise die Ergebnisse zusammen und macht auf Fragen aufmerksam, die nicht gelöst sind. Der Appendix beschäftigt sich mit dem Gebrauch des Griechischen in Ammians Res Gestae (The Res Gestae's Discourse on Greek, S. 207-18) und soll Ammian als verbindlichen (authoritative) Interpreten Julians erkennen lassen, den der Historiker als einzigen in den Res Gestae Griechisch sprechen läßt (S. 218).3 Julian zitiert Homer. Zur Bedeutung des Zitates im Rahmen der Darstellung Ammians vgl. S. 123-25.

Anschließend folgt eine umfangreiche Bibliographie (S. 219-237), in der dem Ziel des Buches entsprechend historische Arbeiten etwas weniger berücksichtigt sind. Den Schluß bildet ein Index der erörterten Quellenstellen (Index locorum S. 239-47) und ein Index, der Personen, Sachen und geographische Namen umfaßt (S. 248-53).

Die Bibliographie ist umfassend für die Themenstellung, und die meisten Bücher sind auch konsultiert worden. Es fehlen aber wichtige Arbeiten in deutscher und italienischer Sprache. So könnte der Bibliographie die Arbeit von Benedetti-Martig4 hinzugefügt werden, die zeigt, daß die öffentliche Diskussion über den Perserkrieg viel breiter war, als uns unsere Überlieferung und die klassische Quellenforschung glauben lassen, und die von Bitter, die sehr wichtig für die Schlachtbeschreibungen gerade unter literarischer Perspektive ist.5

Ross betont zu Recht, daß Ammians Werk eines der großen lateinischen Geschichtsschreibung sei. Dem Rezensenten ist dabei nicht ganz verständlich, warum Ross z.B. Nicomachus Flavianus' Annalen nicht auch als solche eingehender diskutiert. Zwar ist ungewiß, was ihr Umfang, Inhalt und Aufbau war, aber ein mindestens qualitativ bedeutender Teil der Forschung neigt der Auffassung zu, daß es sich um große Geschichtsschreibung handelt, was etwas schnell abgetan wird (S. 7;26). Der Rückgriff auf Amm. 25,10,5 (Kommentar Ammians zu Julians Begräbnisplatz )6 im Epilog (S. 203) unterstreicht z.B. problemloser die lateinische Tradition in Ammians Werk7 und ist zugleich ein Hinweis auf die distanzierte Haltung Ammians zum Christentum, was Ross entgangen zu sein scheint. Die Apostelkirche wird S. 203 als möglicher Begräbnisort Julians nicht erwähnt, obwohl er zur Familie Konstantins gehörte. Sie wird auch sonst bei Ammian niemals genannt.

Das Verhältnis von Interkontextualität und Verwendung schriftlicher Quellen ist offensichtlich nirgends thematisiert. Das liegt einmal am Werk Ammians selbst, bei dem das Verhältnis von Quellengebrauch im klassischen Sinn (Rückgriff auf andere historische Darstellungen) und anderen Informationsquellen wie mündliche Mitteilungen, Autopsie oder Aufzeichnungen verschiedenster Art nur schwer greifbar ist. Bleckmann/Stein8 gehen z.B. davon aus, daß Ammian und Philostorgios bei der Schilderung des Schicksals des Caesars Gallus auf eine gemeinsame Quelle zurückgehen (S. 276). Dieses ungeklärte Verhältnis liegt aber auch an der Methode von Ross. Sie verlangt bei der Intertextualität keinen Rückgriff auf die Quellenforschung, weil dabei nur die Besonderheit der Darstellung Ammians verloren gehen könnte. Im Fall von Philostorgios' Bericht zu Gallus spricht Ross bezeichnenderweise nicht von der möglichen gemeinsamen Quelle für Ammian und Philostorgios, sondern davon, daß Philostorgios der einzige Autor sei, der über Gallus' Herrschaft vergleichbar ausführlich wie Ammian berichtet (S. 79). Ross kennt aber durchaus die Ergebnisse der Quellenforschung (vgl. z.B. S. 129-131) und setzt sich auch wenn nötig mit ihr auseinander.

Das Buch ermöglicht ein besseres Verständnis der Darstellung, die Ammian von Julian gibt, und von dessen Bedeutung im Werk des Historikers insgesamt. Es stellt weitere Mittel bereit, um die Glaubwürdigkeit einzelner Stellen und ihre Verwendbarkeit für den Historiker überprüfen zu können. So lassen die Darlegungen zu Amm. 31,7,16 die Technik und die Vorlagen erkennen, die der Beschreibung von Schlachtfeldern nach dem Kampf zugrunde liegen. Sie machen auch deutlich, daß diese Stelle nicht als Beleg dafür verwendet werden kann, daß Ammian auf einer Reise das Schlachtfeld von Adrianopel später in Augenschein nahm.9

Ross's Buch läßt vorwiegend die Auswahl der überlieferten Fakten, die Art ihrer Darstellung und ihre Bewertung durch Ammian besser verstehen und ist somit auch für den Historiker wichtig. Es ist aber überwiegend von Bedeutung für die literarische Gestaltung der Res gestae. Eine deutliche Abgrenzung zur Studie von Kelly ist schwierig und kann in dieser Rezension nicht geleistet werden. Sie müßte Gegenstand eines größeren Forschungsberichtes über beide Autoren sein. Ross geht an einigen Stellen auf sein Verhältnis zu Kelly ein (vgl. z.B. S. X/XI; S. 40-45 zu Amm. 31,7.16).

Die englische Begrifflichkeit ist nicht einfach und erschwert den Zugang zu Ross's Text. Zu wenig scheint von Ross nach Meinung des Rezensenten oft bedacht zu sein, daß große Geschichtsschreibung natürlich Erzählung ist und in der Antike auf jeden Fall literarischen Charakter hat, aber der Erzähler, der Historiker, nicht frei ist, sondern an die Überlieferung gebunden. Sie bildet eine Basis, die die Freiheit des Erzählers begrenzt. Geht er zu frei mit der Überlieferung um, wird sein Text zu reiner Fiktion. Ross setzt sich z.B. S. 37/38 mit diesem Problem auseinander. Er betont dort den fiktiven Charakter der Historiographie etwa für die kausale Verknüpfung, was durchaus korrekt ist, aber nicht in jedem Fall stimmt. Eine in einem Text überlieferte kausale Verknüpfung kann z.B. auch eine offizielle Stellungnahme widerspiegeln und ist dann an eine Quelle gebunden.10 Ihre Umgestaltung wäre nur in einem historischen Roman möglich. Das Problem hätte eine vertiefte Auseinandersetzung verdient.

Viele Beobachtungen sind auch ohne Rückgriff auf moderne literaturwissenschaftliche Theorien und Begriffe möglich und auch schon gemacht worden. So sind etwa moderne Autoren in der Regel durchaus bestrebt, Aufbau, Darstellungstechnik und inhaltliche Gewichtung im Werk Ammians erkennen zu lassen11 und verwenden Methoden der Intertextualität, auch wenn der Begriff und die theoretischen Überlegungen dazu nicht auftauchen.12 Man weiß in der Regel sehr gut, daß mit Quellenforschung allein dem Text Ammians wie auch anderen nicht beizukommen ist.

Die Frage, ob die angewandte Methode Ergebnisse bringt, die für den Gebrauch Ammians als Quelle für den modernen Historiker über einzelne Stellen hinaus grundlegend und bedeutsam sind, bleibt für den Rezensenten offen.


1.   Ross definiert beide Begriffe und ihren Gebrauch durch ihn etwa auf S. 38/39.
2.   Vgl. besonders G.Kelly, Ammianus Marcellinus. The Allusive Historian, Cambridge 2008.
3.   Homer, Ilias 5,83; Amm.15,8,17.
4.   I.Benedetti-Martig, Studi sulla guerra persiana nell'orazione funebre per Giuliano di Libanio. Firenze 1990 (vgl. auch Bern 1986). Es fehlen auch die italienischen Übersetzungen der Res Gestae von Selem und Sordi. Le Storie di Ammiano Marcellino, a cura di A.Selem, Turin 19732 (Text und Übersetzung) und Ammiano Marcellino. Le Storie, a cura di M.Caltabiano, Milano 1989 (nur Übersetzung). Die Ausgabe von Viansino (S. 220) enthält auch eine Übersetzung und einen Kommentar.
5.   N.Bitter, Kampfschilderungen bei Ammianus Marcellinus, Bonn 1976. Vgl. zum Verhältnis zu Ammian etwa auch den Kommentar von E.Bliembach, Libanius' oratio 18. Kommentar, Würzburg 1976. Die neue, kommentierte Philostorgios' Ausgabe von Bleckmann und Stein ist wahrscheinlich zu spät erschienen, um noch berücksichtigt werden zu können (Philostorgios Kirchengeschichte, ediert, übers. und kommentiert von B.Bleckmann und M.Stein, 2 Bde. Paderborn 2015).
6.   Vgl. dazu J.den Boeft/J.W.Drijvers/D.den Hengst/ H.C.Teitler, Philological and historical commentary on Ammianus Marcellinus XXV, Leiden/Boston 2005, 321-326; J.Szidat, Historischer Kommentar zu Ammianus Marcellinus, Buch XX - XXI, Teil 3: Die Konfrontation, Stuttgart 1996, besonders S. 238.
7.   Vgl. z.B. auch S. 188.
8.   Vgl Bleckmann/Stein S. 276 (n. 5).
9.   So vermutet es etwa J.F.Matthews, The Roman Empire of Ammianus, London 1989,17, kritisch schon G.Sabbah, La méthode d'Ammien Marcellin. Recherches sur la construction du discours historique dans les Res gestae, Paris 1978, 282. Bei Ross's Erörterungen fehlen ein Hinweis auf HA v.Claud.8,5, der den topischen Charakter der Stelle noch deutlicher hervortreten läßt, und eine mögliche Bezugnahme auf Lib. or.24,2.
10.   Vgl. z.B. Amm. 15,8,3.8.12 zum Motiv, Julian zum Caesar zu erheben. Ammian überliefert dafür Julians Verwandtschaft mit Constantius II., legt sie jedoch der Kaiserin Eusebia und Constantius II. in den Mund. Am offiziellen Charakter dieses Motivs ist aber nicht zu zweifeln.
11.   Man vgl. z.B. die Arbeit von G.Sabbah (vgl. n.9). Er verweist z.B. schon auf die Beziehungen zwischen der Schlacht von Strasbourg und der von Adrianopel sowie auf die Rolle Amidas dabei (S. 471 und passim). Man muß Ross allerdings zu gute halten, daß die Auseinandersetzung mit Tacitus' oder Sallusts Beschreibungen inhaltlich vergleichbarer Szenen wie z.B. Schlachten sich bisher eher selten findet. Dieser Aspekt ist aber schon in einzelnen Arbeiten vorhanden. Er geht nur teilweise auf Kelly zurück. Man vgl. z.B. P.Riedl, Faktoren des historischen Prozesses: eine vergleichende Untersuchung zu Tacitus und Ammianus Marcellinus, München 2002 oder A.Bargagna, Ammiano lettore di Tacito. Percorsi di confronto intertestuale, tematico e compositivo, Studi classici e orientali 61, 2015, 335-350.
12.   Ross spricht S. 39 ausdrücklich davon, wie Methoden der Intertextualität schon vor ihm für die Interpretation von Ammians Text verwendet wurden und setzt sich im folgenden damit auseinander. Das Verfahren findet sich schon in den Vorschriften der antiken Rhetorik, wenn auch vom Autor ausgehend. Es wird dazu geraten, auf Worte, Dinge (inhaltliche Elemente) und Personen bei anderen Autoren für das eigene Werk zurückzugreifen (Quint. instit.or. 10,2,26.27).

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James J. Clauss, Martine Cuypers, Ahuvia Kahane (ed.), The Gods of Greek Hexameter Poetry: From the Archaic Age to Late Antiquity and Beyond. Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge, 56​. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016. Pp. xiv, 472. ISBN 9783515115230. €69.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Christodoulos Zekas, Open University of Cyprus (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This is a particularly rich collection of papers on a very interesting subject that has not as yet been examined at so impressive a span of time. Taking its cue from the influential work of Denis Feeney, The Gods in Epic: Poets and Critics of the Classical Tradition (Oxford, 1991),1 the book under review spans Greek hexameter poetry from the Archaic period down to Late Antiquity (the last two chapters on Greek literature cover the Argonautica of Orpheus and the Sibylline Oracles), also offering a glimpse of resonances of the Greek gods in Latin poetry (Virgil, Ovid) and modern literature (Tennyson, Walcott, Oswald). Given the wider ramifications of this (seemingly confined) topic for the history of Greek literature, the employment of the solemn and majestic hexameter verse within a range of genres, and the association of literary presentation with societal norms, the volume should appeal to a wider audience, while also engaging with scholarly discussions in more specialised fields. Furthermore, several papers include a well-rounded introduction to the text they are discussing and could be used in course syllabuses.

The volume seeks to trace "developments in religious thought and practice and ongoing philosophical and literary-critical reflection about the nature and representation of the divine" (p. 1). As appears from the discussion, divine presence and action lie at the centre of concern in Archaic hexameter poetry, with Hesiod and the longer Homeric hymns representing the first stages in the formation of the Olympic pantheon before its establishment in Homer. This can be seen in the story of the Iliad, deeply warlike and antagonistic, and without doubt, following the will of Zeus. The Odyssey, on the other hand, foregrounds a more settled context in which strife lurks in the background and the gods, as suggested, provide patterns for human demeanour, while the Cyclic Epics and the Shield feature more anthropocentric world views. One may have concerns with this evolutionary, historical model in Archaic hexameter poetry, not only since in some cases evidence is scarce, but mainly because the works representing the proposed stages are very different in themselves. For instance, should it not be expected that the Theogony would suggest an outlook dissimilar to the Works and Days? Equally, to what extent does the story itself in each of the two Homeric epics influence the presentation of the gods? These questions are of course difficult to answer; but still one of the merits of the present volume is that it advances balanced discussions about this, and other issues, that generate thinking in broader terms.

In Hellenistic times things are not as complicated, though no less varied and intriguing. Despite the poets' association with, and even adherence to, the Homeric and Hesiodic models, the canonical status of divinities becomes a reflection of political power, while the gods are depicted more distant in the narrative. The latter feature is evident in Imperial poetry too, which additionally plays with ancient exegeses, philosophical thinking and a stronger tendency towards religious syncretism.

It is perhaps impossible to thematically categorise in a fair manner all the papers of the volume, since another strength of this collection is the variety of the issues discussed, which bears witness to the richness and manifold aspects of the topic of divinity and its depiction in Greek literature. Recurrent themes that receive special attention include the struggle for and succession of power among the gods, the features that distinguish deities from humans, divine action and interference in the story, the issues of double motivation and fate, as well as the association of divine performance with contemporary religion(s) and theological beliefs. These themes are treated from three main angles: narrative analysis (of character and plot), intertextual dialogues (predominantly with Homer, Hesiod, Callimachus, and Apollonius Rhodius), while a few papers approach the subject chiefly through religion and cult. The papers are sufficiently, or even heavily, footnoted, and the secondary literature used is extensive and (to my knowledge) up-to-date.

Inclusiveness in reviewing a volume of so wide a scope is far from realistic an aim. Thus, in what follows, I have tried to discuss most of the contributions (yet not all of them evenly), while regrettably not examining others at all. For more information the reader may wish to consult the comprehensive summaries of papers in the editors' Introduction.

Reflecting the development and establishing process of the Olympian pantheon, the volume sets off with Strauss Clay's paper on Hesiod, which seeks to underline the different nature between gods and humans, arguing for the absence of a justice (dike) for the gods in the Theogony, since this notion, as we may see in the Works and Days, is associated with the scarcity of goods and is therefore an intrinsic feature of the human condition.

With the longer Homeric hymns we enter into the next stage of formation of the Olympian pantheon. This sort of development is also reflected in the narrative of the hymns, which devote minimal lines to the voice of Zeus and do not preserve even a single hymn for the father of the gods. Taking these features into account, Falkner elaborates on two pairs of hymns that present a contrast in tone ('Demeter and Apollo', 'Hermes and Aphrodite') from the perspective of divine features and cult.

Ormand considers the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women from the angle of Zeus' agency and the human knowledge of it, and he persuasively argues that this fragmentary work represents a stage intermediary between the Theogony and the Works and Days; in the first poem Zeus' power is inescapable while in the second poem it is impossible to grasp. The Catalogue, however, narrates events from a slightly different perspective: humans (i.e. heroes), although already separate from the gods, may still entertain interaction with them but, in all their attempts, they ultimately fail to fully conceive of Zeus' will.

Marks' paper provides a subtle reading of Zeus' plan in the Iliad, focusing on Olympian assemblies and their sequels. As appears from his examination, Zeus is a master of words who, in the process of advancing his carefully concocted design, resorts either to threats and intimidations or to more nuanced strategies that include complex and subtle language. A minor concern about Marks' argument refers to the suggestion that Zeus could have been aware of Hera's plan in Book 14 (pp. 66-7).

Employing findings from the fields of myth and cult (drawn on Linear B tablets and later texts), Martin's reading of Poseidon's function in the Odyssey sheds light on some important associations between Poseidon and Odysseus.

The Epic Cycle receives a well-rounded treatment by Tsagalis, who carefully traces its divine themes (wrath, rivalry, metamorphosis, to mention but a few), also by reading them against the background of Homeric poetry.

The issues of divine involvement in the plot and interaction with humans are the subject of Clauss' paper from two main standpoints: the Apollonian influences from the Hesiodic Catalogue, and the distancing of the Olympians (though not of the minor divinities) from mortals, a stance that reflects beliefs contemporary to Apollonius' times. I have not, however, been convinced by the suggestion that the Apollonian allusion to the Catalogue, by means of the construction ξυνὸς γὰρ … ξυνοὶ δέ (twice in A.R.), implies the common era in which gods interacted with mortals; other than this shared construction, the three passages do not appear to have much in common (pp. 136-9).

Ryan investigates how Aratus' Phaenomena negotiates the dual and conflicting interpretation of constellations as objects of scientific observation and products of mythical thinking.

Petrovic, in one of the most interesting and rewarding papers of the volume, entertains the possibility of the performative nature of the Callimachean hymns and, by reading them against the background of the Homeric hymns, makes a strong case for the absence of strife within the Olympian family and the absolute rule of Zeus as a reflection of the Hellenistic monarchy.

Morrison's chapter on Moschus' Europa and Eros on the Run argues for an "aestheticized" treatment of the gods as "a subject for narrative" aimed at the pleasure of the audience (p. 207), a depiction that does not include much detail and lies outside any (performative) context we may see in Homeric epic and Archaic hymnic poetry.

Divine presence in Quintus of Smyrna's Posthomerica is examined in a well-rounded paper by Bär. Despite Quintus' tendency towards over-Homericizing, Bär highlights the Posthomerica's divergence from the Homeric model (e.g. reduced references to divinities, the almost complete absence of verbal interaction between the gods ['depersonalization'], the decreased amount of double motivation, an elevated authority of Zeus), and aptly interprets this "shift from conventionality to singularity" (p. 223) as serving Quintus' narrative purposes.

Miguélez-Cavero argues for the employment of ancient exegeses (mainly the Scholia and Heraclitus' Homeric Problems) in the interpretation of the gods in Triphiodorus' Sack of Troy. This poet generally follows Homer in key issues, such as anthropomorphism and double motivation, but tends to favour allegorical reading of the gods too. In Miguélez-Cavero's discussion, however, the issue of fate receives too brief a treatment.

Bartley's paper, a celebration of intertextuality, highlights Artemis' rivalry with other deities in the Cynegetica, as well as examining the representation of religious syncretism in the portrayal of the goddess.

Schelske's well-documented discussion addresses the translation of philosophy into the epic poetry of Late Antiquity, arguing for the combination of Orphic and Neoplatonic elements in the two theogonies of the Argonautica of Orpheus.

Briggs, in a well-balanced examination of the subject in Virgil's Aeneid, draws attention to the political and historical aspects of the gods and their differences from deities in Homer.

The volume includes a general Index, though more detailed references to ancient sources (which are cited by title only), perhaps through the inclusion of a separate Index locorum, would make the references more accessible. Typos are minimal,2 and in general the book is nicely produced.

Overall, the present collective volume succeeds in examining the main aspects of the depiction of the gods in Greek hexameter poetry, and, where appropriate, contributions foreground associations of this issue with history, religion, and cult, along with contemporary trends in literary representation. Readers will benefit from many papers in this collection, and it is certainly a fortunate occasion that a topic of such significance is treated in mainstream alongside less studied authors and texts, which, in all their diversity, share the hexameter as a single element of construction.

Authors and Titles

1 James J. Clauss, Martine Cuypers and Ahuvia Kahane, Hiero's Question: An Introduction
2 Jenny Strauss Clay, The Justice of Zeus in the Theogony?
3 Andrew Faulkner, The Gods in the Narratives of the Homeric Hymns
4 Kirk Ormand, Divine Perspective and the Plots of Zeus in the Hesiodic Catalogue
5 Jim Marks, Herding Cats: Zeus, the Other Gods, and the Plot of the Iliad
6 Richard P. Martin, Poseidon in the Odyssey
7 Christos Tsagalis, The Gods in Cyclic Epic
8 Timothy Heckenlively, Ares in the Pseudo-Hesiodic Shield
9 James J. Clauss, Heldendämmerung Anticipated: The Gods in Apollonius' Argonautica
10 John Ryan, Zeus in Aratus' Phaenomena
11 Ivana Petrovic, Gods in Callimachus' Hymns
12 Massimo Giuseppetti, Gods in Fragments: Callimachus' Hecale
13 A. D. Morrison, Erotic Battles? Love, Power-Politics and Cosmic Significance in Moschus' Europa< and Eros on the Run
14 Silvio Bär, Reading Homer, Writing Troy: Intertextuality and Narrativity of the Gods and the Divine in Quintus of Smyrna's Posthomerica
15 Laura Miguélez-Cavero,'With a Little Help from my (Divine) Friends': Double Motivation and Personification in Triphiodorus' Sack of Troy
16 Adam Bartley, The Huntress and the Poet: Artemis in the Cynegetica
17 Domenico Accorinti, Naming the God of Metamorphosis: The Ever-changing Shape of the Infant Dionysus in Nonnus' Dionysiaca
18 Anna Lefteratou, Jesus' Late Antique Epiphanies: Healing the Blind in the Christian Epics of Eudocia and Nonnus
19 Enrico Magnelli, Gods and Men in Colluthus' Rape of Helen
20 Oliver Schelske, The Argonautica of Orpheus as 'Poetic Theology'? Divine Hierarchies in Late Antique Philosophy and Poetry
21 J. L. Lightfoot, Polytheism in the Sibylline Oracles
22 Ward Briggs, Homer's Gods and Virgil's Aeneid
23 Fritz Graf, The Gods in Ovid's Fasti
24 Edward Adams, From Epiphanic Idyll to Faith-bound Epyllia: Tennyson's Poetic Descent from Virgil to Gibbon


1.   BMCR 03.02.08
2.   I have noticed the following misprints: p. xiv: "the names [of] ancient authors"; p. 1: "where[as]"; p. 269: "an attempt [to] replace"; p. 286: "and thrrefore"; p. 362: "its is she".

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Peter Attema, Jorn Seubers, Sarah Willemsen (ed.), Early States, Territories and Settlements in Protohistoric Central Italy. Proceedings of a specialist conference at the Groningen Institute of Archaeology of the University of Groningen, 2013. Corollaria Crustumina, 2. Groningen: University of Groningen / Groningen Institute of Archaeology; Barkhuis, 2016. Pp. x, 152. ISBN 9789491431999. €42.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Joshua R. Hall (

Version at BMCR home site

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

The work under review is the second publication of the Corollaria Crustumina series which aims to publish research on the settlement of Crustumerium and Italian protohistory more generally. The papers which make up its chapters were originally presented at a workshop in Groningen between 31 January and 1 February 2013. As stated by the editors in their preface, the workshop was primarily organised by Jorn Seubers and its main aim 'was to support the theoretical and methodological progress of Seubers' doctoral thesis and to feed expert knowledge into it' (VII). The essays, as they exist, go beyond this and make for an interesting collection.

John Bintliff's chapter functions as a theoretical foundation for the following papers. He provides an introduction to the study of early states in different parts of the European Iron Age. The regions discussed are Greece, Iberia, Central Europe, and Latium-South Etruria. Bintliff's chapter is an interesting 'launching point' for the rest of the volume. He briefly looks at phenomena such as the polis in Greece, the Morgenroth model in Iberia, and Terrenato's 'mafia' model for Central Italy. He favors, in general, 'Annaliste Structural History' as an organizing principle, and argues that processes outside of human control are important in social development. His conclusion is that with rapid urbanization comes both class formation and the formation of early states, with every civilization driven on different paths by human actors and otherwise uncontrollable events.

Alessandro Guidi's contribution looks at a wide range of data concerning the development of Italian societies during the Iron Age. His introduction, in many ways, sets a pleasant theoretical tone. Importantly, Guidi points out that 'in Italian archaeology, little attention has been given to theoretical matters' (p. 9). This situation has been changing in recent years, but there is still a considerable disparity compared to other sub-disciplines in archaeology. Perhaps the most important aspect of this paper is that it rehabilitates, to some extent, the place of ideological power in the formation of early states in Italy.

The third chapter, by Fabiola Fraioli, examines the evidence for occupation in the southern territory of Crustumerium between the seventh and fifth centuries BC. The following chapter, by Andrea di Napoli, discusses the results of a number of exploratory trenches dug in the southern territory of Crustumerium in 2012. Unlike other areas of Crustumerium's hinterland, the Tenuta Inviolatella Salaria flourished in the mid-Republican Period. The possible identification of an extra-urban cult place and Imperial Period villa are notable. An important contribution of both of these chapters is to show how modern activities can drastically impact the preservation of archaeological deposits.

Jorn Seubers provides the fifth chapter, with the aim of re-evaluating the territory of Crustumerium through a 'GIS- based cost surface analysis' (p. 51). He goes on to critique the traditional approach to modelling territorial size, rightly criticizing many of the earlier approaches. He then moves on to a survey of existing models of territorial sizes and arrangements for Latium and illustrates the many differences between them. Seubers then proceeds to outline and discuss the results of his approach to calculating the 'catchment' area of the settlement. This attempts to illustrate how much of the land around Crustumerium was exploited; the theory behind this kind of analysis is based in the 'optimal foraging theory' (p. 57). He details the results under three sets of conditions: viewing streams as barriers, assuming some level of infrastructure and seeing streams as obstacles, and finally looking at Crustumerium and the surrounding settlements. The result of these analyses is a more nuanced view of the land that Crustumerium likely exploited compared to earlier models, especially those which assign all land available to one settlement or another and do not allow for 'dead space' in between (i.e. Thiessen Polygons). Seubers' conclusions are promising and the present reviewer would like to see them applied more widely in the analysis of Central Italy during the Iron Age.

Luca Alessandri traces settlement patterns in Latium Vetus from the Middle Bronze Age through to the Early Iron Age. He highlights a number of important trends, such as the evidence for increasing social complexity and the move towards more defensible settlement sites over time. Hierarchical settlement systems are hypothesized for the area around the River Astura, Casale Nuovo, and the Tiber estuary. In a subsection entitled 'social and economic changes during the Early Iron Age: the early states,' Alessandri discusses evidence from a number of settlements which points towards the emergence of 'states'. Though I am very sympathetic to the constraints of a word limit, given how important and widely discussed the topic of the emergence of states has become, it would have been helpful to include a more robust theoretical foundation. The survey concludes that by the Roma-Colli Albani IIB phase, much of Latium was divided between either hierarchical settlement systems or federative settlement systems, within which the major settlements were of similar rank. The author uses the earlier survey in his conclusion to argue that the emergence of the Early Iron Age settlement pattern of Latium Vetus can be tied back to the early stages of the Bronze Age.

Angelo Amoroso attempts to define the territories of the proto-urban settlements of South Etruria and Latium Vetus. This is accomplished through the use of 'calibrated Thiessen polygons.' His base calculation uses the size of the primary settlement to estimate its territory. Having applied the polygons to the territory, they are then adapted to the major rivers. Using this method, it is unsurprising that Bisenzio's calculated territory (970 sq km) is a little over half that of Veii's (1,780 sq km) when their settlement sizes are in a similar ratio, at 90 ha to 185 ha, respectively. The application of Thiessen polygons is always an interesting exercise, but given the complexities of territorial control their usefulness is suspect in the mind of this reviewer. Perhaps the most interesting conclusion of this chapter, however, is that the calculated territory belonging to Rome (447 sq km), relatively small compared to its core settlement size (180 ha), forced the Romans to expand their holdings through force, linking this theory to the literary record in which Rome was notoriously bellicose.

Fulminante, Lozano, and Prignano apply social network analysis to Latium Vetus in the form of 'centrality indexes' in order to test the validity of this type of work in predicting the emergence of urbanizing centres. The present chapter is a refinement of earlier work done by Fulminante.1 The data used in the analysis consists of a network reconstructed on the basis of either fluvial or terrestrial connections (i.e. rivers or roads). The authors go on to describe their 'unified index' which combines 'degree centrality' and 'betweeness centrality' (measures of the connectedness of individual nodes (settlements) within the network). The results are striking, with 14 calculations accurately predicting the emergence of central settlements with accuracy in excess of 50%. Interestingly, their analysis found that fluvial connections were considerably more important in the Bronze Age than the Iron Age, a conclusion which they cite as having been reached by other scholars through different means. This reviewer cannot help but agree that the paper 'confirms the validity' of this type of approach in the analysis of urbanization processes (p. 108).

Ulla Rajala presents a new methodology for calculating ancient populations which takes into account her theories on 'taskspace' and 'ceramiscene' in combination with statistical methods and GIS tools. In this chapter, she applies this to the sites of Il Pizzo (Middle – Final Bronze Age) and Nepi (Early Iron Age). For Nepi, Rajala suggests a population of around 1,500 persons by the Archaic Period. In her conclusions, she proposes that growing populations, such as that of Nepi which had grown by her estimate from around 255 persons in the Early Iron Age, would have helped influence the settlement patterns of Latium Vetus and encourage the development of intraregional trading.

Jarva and Tuppi survey the evidence for a number of different types of infrastructure in the proto-urban centres of Central Italy: settlements themselves, fortifications, sacred buildings and space, goods production, urban planning, roads, and water works. Much of this is well laid out using a combination of both archaeological data and literary sources. The latter are more present in this chapter than any other throughout the volume. The different topical surveys provide a treasure-trove of bibliography for interested readers. The most important takeaway from this chapter is the authors' conclusion that 'Early infrastructures attest to the ability to employ remarkable labour forces' as well as developed organizational and management capabilities (135).

The final chapter, by Elizabeth van't Lindenhout, traces the gradual change from huts to houses in Latium Vetus. She analyses the change both from an architectural perspective as well as from one of social change, questioning what exactly we should read out of the transition. Her observation that it is not emblematic of drastic social changes, but rather one part of ongoing changes, is welcome.

This collection of papers is a nice addition to the corpus on urbanization and state formation in Central Italy. Each chapter provides a different way of examining these important, readily discussed, and often controversial topics. Although every author took a different avenue of exploration, a coherent picture emerges. Central Italy between the later phases of the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age was a region of dramatic change in a number of ways – in populations, settlement patterns, and even preferred networks of trade. The bibliographies for each contribution are thorough and close to comprehensive, meaning that they can provide even the most casual reader with enough material to build a robust understanding of the topic.

On a more superficial note, the volume is well presented. The layout and print quality of the text itself makes it easy to read and is aesthetically pleasing. The work is well edited, although there are a number of instances where the grammar could have been touched up, but these do not in any way detract from the quality of the papers contained in this volume. Both for the results of the papers it contains and for the authors' suggested paths forward, this book is an important step toward a better understanding of both Crustumerium and its hinterland as well as Latium and Central Italy more broadly.

Table of Contents

1. John Bintliff - Early States in the Mediterranean Iron Age (ca. 1000-400 BC) 1-8
2. Alessandro Guidi – Religion, Art, Law, Ethnicity and State Formation in Protohistoric Italy 9-15
3. Fabiola Fraioli – The Southern Ager of the Ancient City of Crustumerium 17-31
4. Andrea Di Napoli – Exploratory Trenches in the Southern Territory of Ancient Crustumerium (Tenuta Inviolatella Salaria) 33-49
5. Jorn Seubers – Many Rivers to Cross – Revisiting the Territory of Ancient Crustumerium With a Cost Surface Based Site Catchment Analysis 51-65
6. Luca Alessandri – Hierarchical and Federative Polities in Protohistoric Latium Vetus. An Analysis of Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Settlement Organization 67-82
7. Angelo Amoroso – Settlement Patterns in South Etruria and Latium Vetus 83-100
8. Francesca Fulminante, Sergi Lozano & Luce Prignano – Social Network Analysis and Early Latin Cities (Central Italy) 101-110
9. Ulla Rajala – The Town and Territory of Nepi: The Population of the Earliest Nepi 111-123
10. Eero Jarva & Juha Tuppi – Emerging Infrastructures at Proto-urban Centres in Central Tyrrhenian Italy 125- 141
11. Elisabeth van 't Lindenhout – Taking Courage: From Huts to Houses. Reflections on Changes in Early Archaic Architecture in Latium Vetus (Central Italy) 143-152


1.   F. Fulminante, 'Social Network Analysis and the Emergence of Central Places: A Case Study from Central Italy (Latium Vetus),' BABESCH 87 (2012), 27-53.

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Jörg Rüpke, On Roman Religion: Lived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome. Townsend lectures / Cornell studies in classical philology. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press, 2016. Pp. x, 198. ISBN 9781501704703. $49.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Ine Jacobs, University College, Oxford (

Version at BMCR home site

This book is the result of three Townsend Lectures delivered at the Department of Classics at Cornell University in autumn 2013. As such, this monograph forms a counterpart to Robert Parker's volume on Greek religion.1 However, Rüpke takes a whole new approach to Roman religion. Like many more of his recent publications, this book places individual interpretations and appropriations of gods, rituals, and religious functions in the foreground. Emphasis no longer lies on deities or on collective expressions of religious feelings towards these deities, but on named or unnamed real people who left traces in the literary and epigraphic record. Whereas individuals have only been given attention in previous studies of Roman religious institutions and ritual if their actions provoked outrage amidst contemporaries, the individuals that interest Rüpke are not necessarily famous or even known by name.

In each chapter he presents the reader with individual actors, interpreters or creators, living between the third century BC and the third century AD, all with specific interpretations and motivations guiding their communication with both gods and humans. Not only does such an approach do justice to the messiness of religion and life in general, as Rüpke rightfully remarks, it makes it much easier to understand how and why religious expressions and ritual changed over time. Indeed, even though individuals make original choices, when their example is followed by others they can influence and re-shape institutionalised forms of religion and ritual. This intricate interplay between individualisation and institutionalisation forms a recurring theme throughout the book. In addition, the reader is repeatedly made aware of the related and equally complex relations between texts and rituals ("discourse and action," p. 121), the one constantly shaping the other.

After a brief introduction and a first theoretical chapter, chapters 2 to 8 each deal with very diverse aspects of Roman religion, some of which have been elaborated in other publications by the same author and are mentioned in the footnotes of this overview volume. The introduction offers a concise overview of traditional and recent trends in the study of ancient Mediterranean religion and contrasts them with the approach taken in the volume. It introduces and briefly dwells on the concept of "lived religion", as reformulated by urban anthropologist Meredith McGuire2 and transposed by Rüpke to antiquity. "Lived ancient religion is concerned with action and experience" (p. 61). The first chapter analyses what the concept of an individual meant in antiquity and provides on overview of the ways one can gain insight into individualisation and individuality. Rüpke decidedly turns away from the generalised individual found in theoretical works on individuality, as well as from autobiographical texts written with an audience in mind. Instead, he explains how he seeks and finds individuality in distinct combinations of deities both in domestic contexts and in sanctuaries (one of the few places in the book where material culture in the form of statuettes and depictions is briefly considered), in exceptional religious roles and in individual communication with a deity through revelations and dedications.

Chapter 2, "Individual Decision and Social Order", provides a new analysis of individual appropriation and interpretation of traditional political and priestly roles in the late republican period. Religious specialists had to adhere to a set of regulations and expectations. Yet, despite social expectations and the promise of harsh penalties for non-compliance, a few individuals managed to interpret their responsibilities in unconventional ways. Rüpke shows in particular how the coating of a religious office could impact the political realm as well. Appropriation, as the way in which the individual interprets existing norms and traditions, and in particular those surrounding images of gods, provides the starting point of Chapter 3 ('Appropriating Images-Embodying Gods'). The discussion begins with a poem of Propertius (Carmen 4.2), composed around 16 BC, in which a (statue of a) god by the name of Vertumnus addresses the reader/listener. The poem makes clear that Vertumnus is virtually impossible to define, has no single function, is both god and statue and can be worshipped in multiple manners. In other words, the deity can be appropriated by every individual worshipper.

The next chapter ("Testing the Limits of Ritual Choices") then investigates the circumstances in which magic was used and how individuals saw it as part of or separate from sacred rituals. After a short overview of the mentioning of magic in Hellenistic and Roman literature, Rüpke focuses on the period of the 30s and 20s BC, during which a heightened number of poems on magic coincided with stronger rules regarding such practices. Propertius again serves as the starting point of the discussion, as in his poems, magic is entirely permissible, even though there are many other possible solutions to deal with adversity and control the surrounding world, and even though engaging in magic remains dangerous.

Chapter 5, 'Reconstructing Religious Experience', focuses on the anticipated audience of texts, their users or "connected readers". Using Ovid's Libri fastorum, or calendar of Roman festivals, Rüpke reconstructs Ovid's individual readers as the "informed and sympathetic observer or bystander" (p. 95), interested in major public festivals as well as local cults, eager to learn what is proper on which day of the year and what emotional tone should be adopted when participating. Though such calendars form part of an established tradition, the connected reader is directly addressed and encouraged to make individual choices against the backdrop of institutionalised cult.

In both Chapter 6 ("Dynamics of Individual Appropriation") and Chapter 7 ("Religious Communication") the potential of individual choices and originality in enacting a ritual is studied. Rüpke strongly argues for thinking in terms of "ritualization" and "performance" (p. 99-100), supplementing the perceived repetitive and stereotypical nature of an act with the uniqueness of every single time it was carried out. In Chapter 6, Rüpke opens the reader's eyes to individual interpretations and motivations of established ritual happenings as diverse as auspicia, inaugural meals for the priesthoods of the pontifices, triumphal processions, war declarations, priesthood rituals and Roman calendars. The delicate balance between tradition and originality in communication with the gods then is discussed in Chapter 7. After an overview of potential strategies of communication, including location, timing, multi-channelling in words and gifts, and so on, there follows a section on the epigraphic habit. The decline in the epigraphic habit starting in the third century is linked to an increase in specialisation of religion, meaning that religion was increasingly dominated by a few intellectual specialists who usurped all lines of communication. These are certainly interesting ideas, but the section is too short and dense to really make a strong impression.

Finally, Chapter 8 ("Instructing Literary Practice in The Shepherd of Hermas") focusses on a text which "is characterised by uncoordinated, parainstitutional, and even contrainstitutional appropriations" (p. 140). After a brief presentation of the content, which enjoyed great popularity in the decades after its conception, Rüpke sketches the social context in which it was conceived and, in a long-term process of individualization, became transformed from an oral account into a written text before the end of the second century.

Despite the fact that this is not an easy read – the argument is often dense and a decent amount of pre-existing knowledge on Roman religion is required – Rüpke manages to provide unique insights into appropriation of religion in both the public and private realm. A lot is discussed in these 160 pages. The book may therefore come across as somewhat fragmented, its argument only attaining full strength when read from cover to cover. The attentive reader will be left with the firm impression that we are entering a whole new era of religious studies. Indeed, there is no reason why research into individual interpretations and appropriations should remain limited to the timeframe of this book. Like Rüpke's other recent publications, this volume should be used as a source of inspiration for all those interested in past religious experience.


1.   BMCR 2012.03.06
2.   McGuire, Meredith B. 2008. Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Anton Bierl, André Lardinois (ed.), The newest Sappho: P. Sapph. Obbink and P. GC inv. 105, Frs. 1-4. Studies in archaic and classical Greek song, vol. 2. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 392. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016. Pp. xv, 543. ISBN 9789004311626. $223.00.

Reviewed by Alexander Dale, Concordia University, Montreal (

Version at BMCR home site

Brill Open Access
[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

[Editors' note: The editors of BMCR feel obliged to bring to the attention of readers of this review the fact that the provenance of the new Sappho papyri published and discussed in this volume is contested.]

The present volume, a collection of essays devoted to the spectacular new Sappho papyri published in the spring of 2014,1 brings together papers delivered at a conference in Basel in the summer of 2014, supplemented by several papers from a panel on the New Sappho at the SCS in January 2015. The turnaround from initial publication of the fragments to the present volume going to press in September 2015—barely eighteen months—is an impressive feat for which the editors are to be congratulated. A particular boon has been a subvention from the Faculty of Arts of Radboud University, allowing the book to be made freely available through Open Access. For this enlightened act of munificence the scholarly community and greater public should be particularly grateful.

In Chs. 1 and 2, Dirk Obbink provides an excellent text, apparatus, and translation of the fragments (P.GC and P.Sapph.Obbink), as well as a discussion of provenance and textual constitution. In large part the value of the Green Collection texts lies in supplementing already known fragments of Sappho, in particular frr. 5, 9, and 15–18 in the editions of Lobel-Page and Voigt. Thus we now can be increasingly confident that Sappho fr. 16 ends at line 20, with a new poem (16a) beginning at what had been known as fr. 16.21. The more substantive additions to Sappho's corpus come from the text of P.Sapph.Obbink.

Obbink's text is judiciously conservative, and generally does not admit any of the more uncertain supplements. Thus, more cautiously than Lobel-Page or Voigt, in fr. 15.9 he prints πι[κροτ ΄̣ ̣]αν ἐπεύρ[‒× (for the different possibilities see Lidov's careful discussion, p.79). Where Obbink does allow supplements, the result is generally a happy one, as at lines 2–3 of the 'Kypris' poem, where he rejects the supplements of West, Benelli, and Ferrari, which would result in the unlikely scenario of the speaker of the poem wishing to conceal their emotions (a point eloquently and decisively made in Schlesier's contribution). Occasionally however one might question the supplementation or articulation of letters, as at e.g. fr. 5.13, where we still find the unlikely τὸ κέγχρω, which in context provides the sense '(hearing) the rhythmic beat of the (shaken) millet seed'; Blass' and West's τό κ' ἐγ χρῶ⟨ι⟩—in context 'now plucking me to the raw'—seems far more plausible (despite Lidov p.71). In other aspects of textual constitution uncertainty persists. In particular, Obbink follows West in placing P.GC fr.1 between P.GC fr.3.ii and P.SO, observing in the apparatus that the placement 'is confirmed by continuities of fibres and patterns of damage.' Yet this seeming certainty is reduced to a mere possibility on p.39 n.13 and p.40, where we read that it is 'probably' to be so placed, or 'a possible placement'. Given the inaccessibility of the fragments (P.SO is in a private collection), making high-resolution images of the papyri available online is a major desideratum. One of Obbink's less persuasive suggestions is the revival of Page's theory that epithalamia, or 'epithalamiac' poems, were collected at the end of each book of Sappho, outside of the alphabetical arrangement. Obbink arrives at this conclusion by observing the unlikelihood, in an alphabetic arrangement, of two poems with 'epithalamiac' features occurring at the end of Book 1 (frs. 27 and 30).2 This is hardly probative (are [at least] two poems about Sappho's brothers beginning with π equally unlikely?). Questions of generic identification aside, it would not be difficult to imagine two poems with epithalamiac features beginning with e.g. χαίρε, ὦ, etc. (cf. frs. 108, 116, 117), and thus fitting the alphabetic arrangement.

In Ch. 4, 'Sappho Iambist: abusing the brother', Richard Martin builds on the work of Rosenmeyer and Dale3 and argues that the corpus of poems revolving around her brothers informed the later tradition that Sappho wrote iambics, or poetry in an iambic style. In this Martin is no doubt right, though his contention (one shared by Stehle) that in BP Larichos is as much an object of attack as Charaxos seems difficult to reconcile with the functional opposition of Charaxos and Larichos both in Sappho's extant poetry and as it can be extrapolated from the secondary tradition (and furthermore suggests a less than complete appreciation of the syntax of the concluding stanza of BP). Even before the publication of BP, it could be (and was) argued from the indirect tradition that Charaxos and Larichos were employed as paradigmatic examples of vice and virtue respectively, and this is affirmed in the new text. As clearly emerges from Lardinois's discussion (pp.178–81), any reading that suggests that Larichos is, but chooses not to act like, a man, receives little support from the text, while the descriptive similarities between the 'helping daimon' and Larichos strongly suggest that Larichos—in marked contrast to Charaxos—is a prospect of salvation for the speaker and addressee (cf. the excellent discussion of Kurke, p.255).

André Lardinois's paper, 'Sappho's Brothers Song and the fictionality of early Greek lyric poetry', provides a particularly nuanced and enlightening reading of BP, and addresses—successfully—many of the thornier aspects of interpretation. His discussion of the implied contrast between the addressee, who longs for Charaxos back with a full ship, and the speaker who longs for Charaxos back safe (a point already advocated by Nünlist,4 and picked up by a number of other contributors), strikes at the heart of the underlying dynamic between the contrasting priorities of the 'I' and 'you' of the poem (an opposition that is resolved in the shift to 'we' in the concluding lines, as Kurke [p.248–9] rightly notes). Likewise spot-on is the discussion of the concluding stanza, and particularly his appreciation of the verbal aspect of the aorist subjunctive γένηται and the resonance of δή ποτε (aliquando as per Denniston, GP 213, not an impatient '(if) ever'). Beyond his detailed reading, Lardinois goes some way towards contextualising BP and the 'family' poems within the poetics of fictionality in Archaic poetry, and sees them as 'exempla that address a number of anxieties that haunted aristocratic Greek families' such as loss of capital, risks of seaborne trade, familial strife, etc. This must be right; BP provides the most concrete evidence yet that the family poems belonged to the tradition of παραίνεσις, and functioned as a sort of morality play to reaffirm the aristocratic ideals of elite society in the world of Archaic Lesbos. And this in turn has implications for the possible performance context and social function of Sappho's poetry.

In Ch. 17, Renate Schlesier provides an excellent discussion of the frustratingly lacunose 'Kypris poem'. She begins with a valuable review of how Aphrodite is invoked elsewhere in Sappho's corpus, and notes strategic differences in the objectives of the speaker depending on whether the goddess is addressed by name or by cultic epithet. Schlesier then turns to a careful reading of the tattered lines of the poem, evaluating the supplements and readings advocated by West and Ferrari, before (rightly) rejecting them. While I do have misgivings about her suggested πάθη̣ν κ̣άλ̣εσσαι in line 3, the overall discussion is excellent, and marks an important contribution to this particularly difficult fragment.

The volume concludes with Gregory Nagy's paper on the 'poetics of sisterly affect' in the BP and elsewhere in Sappho's corpus. As with many contributions, the paper delivers far more than the title suggests. Nagy begins by discussing the differing perceptions of the poetic personas of Sappho and Alcaeus along the diachronic plane, from their personas in their period of activity ('choral' for Sappho and 'komastic and possibly choral' for Alcaeus) to the period of Herodotus ('monodic'). Nagy rightly makes the point that the synchronic reception of poetry and poets is filtered through and determined by the circumstances of poetic composition and performance in the 'target' audiences' time. Turning to the newly augmented fr. 17 (the 'Hera song'), and sifting through disparate evidence in Lesbian inscriptions and Hesychius, Nagy posits a yearly festival for Hera at Messon which had established a cult aetiology in the mythological tradition of the Atreidae making sacrifice to the goddess on Lesbos on their return from Troy. This festival, he argues, was the performance context for poems such as BP and fr. 17. (The role of Hera also receives excellent treatment in Boedeker's contribution). Nagy's reconstructed festival has a strong evidentiary base, and provides a compelling case for the prominence of Hera in both Lesbian cult and the Lesbian poets. The contribution is rounded out by an etymology of Sappho's name as meaning 'sister', connecting it with a PN Ἀπφίον/Ἀπφία, as well as the Lallwort ἄπφα, which can mean sister, but is more generally a term of endearment. This is problematic. The inscriptions Nagy cites are Imperial, and the confluence of names such as Αὐρηλία Σαπφώ (Macedon, ca.200 AD) and Αὐρηλία Ἀπφία (Termessos, 3rd century AD) could equally be explained through confusion between indigenous onomastic inventories and Roman names such as Appia(nus); the geographic distribution of names in Ἀπφί- strongly suggests an Anatolian (non-Greek) source. Likewise the attestations for ἄπφα meaning 'sister' are all late (Photius, Eustathius). And Nagy's correlation of the PN Σαπφώ with the Lallwort ἄπφα entails positing a common noun *sapphō already in Proto-Greek, with the retention of word initial *s due to the 'functional variant' Ψαπφώ (thus discounting the possibility that the latter form, whatever the underlying phonetics of the initial consonant(s), is the original form). The loss of inherited initial *s is one of the earliest sound changes we can reconstruct for PG (late 3rd millennium BC). Thus we must imagine that both common nouns *σαπφώ and *ψαπφώ were present in PG, and survived—uniquely—as PNs in the poetic tradition that informed Sappho's verse some 1500 years later. The thread that connects all of this together is tenuous at best, and can hardly stand up to scrutiny. Sappho's name most likely meant something to somebody, somewhere, at some time, but it's quite possible that even Sappho herself had no idea what.

Certain common themes emerge from the volume as a whole. An increasing readiness to interpret the family poems as 'fictive' is evident, though some (e.g. Caciagli) still take a fairly biographical reading. A particularly dominating theme in the contributions is the prominence of Messon for the performance of many of Sappho's poems. The cult site of Messon, identified by Louis Robert with the locus amoenus in Sa. 17 and Alc. 129 and 130 and connected to the deities mentioned therein (Hera, Zeus, and Dionysus),5 was likely an important site and a possible venue for some of Sappho and Alcaeus' performances. However, there seems to be an emerging and somewhat uncritical orthodoxy that Messon was a default performance space for Sappho, with concomitant effects of the so-called 'Lesbian trinity' or 'Lesbian triad' (both unfortunate turns of phrase). Thus Obbink (Ch.9) tries to identify the daimon in BP as Dionysus largely in order to incorporate the third member of the cult into the poem.

Minor criticisms aside, this is a useful, thought-provoking, and important contribution to the study of Sappho. Every paper has something of value to offer, and many will retain a place of importance in the bibliography for years to come.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Anton Bierl and André Lardinois.
Part 1: Sappho in the New Fragments
1. 'The Newest Sappho: text, apparatus criticus, and translation.' Dirk Obbink.
2. 'Ten poems of Sappho: provenance, authenticity, and text of the new Sappho papyri.' Dirk Obbink.
3. 'Songs for Sailors and Lovers.' Joel Lidov.
4. 'Sappho, Iambist: abusing the brother.' Richard Martin.
5. 'The newest Sappho and Archaic Greek-Near Eastern interactions.' Kurt A. Raaflaub.
6. 'How did Sappho's songs get into the male sympotic repertoire?' Ewan Bowie.
Part 2: Brothers Song
7. 'Sappho's Brothers Song and the fictionality of early Greek lyric Poetry.' André Lardinois.
8. 'Hera and the return of Charaxos.' Deborah Boedeker.
9. 'Goodbye family gloom! The coming of Charaxos in the Brothers Song.' Dirk Obbink.
10. 'Sappho and the mythopoetics of the domestic.' Anastasia-Erasmia Peponi.
11. 'Gendered spheres and mythic models in Sappho's Brothers Poem.' Leslie Kurke.
12. 'Larichos in the Brothers Poem: Sappho speaks truth to the wine-pourer.' Eva Stehle.
13. 'The reception of Sappho's Brothers Poem in Rome.' Llewelyn Morgan.
14. '"All you need is love": some thoughts on the structure, texture, and meaning of the Brothers Song as well as on its relation to the Kypris Song (P.Sapph.Obbink).' Anton Bierl.
Part 3: Kypris Song
15. Sappho as Aphrodite's singer, poet, and hero(ine): the reconstruction of the context and sense of the Kypris Song.' Anton Bierl.
16. 'Sappho and Kypris: "the vertigo of love" (P.Sapph.Obbink 21–29; P.Oxy. 1231, fr. 16.' Sandra Boehringer and Claude Calame.
17. 'Loving, but not loved: the new Kypris Song in the context of Sappho's poetry.' Renate Schlesier.
18. 'Reimagining the fragments of Sappho through translation.' Diane Raynor.
Part 4: Hera Song (fr. 17)
19. 'Notes on the first stanza of fr. 17.' Joel Lidov.
20. 'Sappho fr 17: wishing Charaxos a safe trip?' Stefano Caciagli.
21. 'A poetics of sisterly affect in the Brothers Song and in other songs of Sappho.' Gregory Nagy.


1.   S. Burris, J. Fish, and D. Obbink, 'New Fragments of Book 1 of Sappho', ZPE 189 (2014), 1–28; D. Obbink, 'Two New Poems by Sappho', ZPE 189 (2014), 32–49.
2.   D. L. Page, Sappho and Alcaeus, Oxford (1955), 112–26; Obbink's discussion might have benefitted from reference to D. Yatromanolakis, 'Alexandrian Sappho Revisited', HSCP 99 (1999), 179–95; A. Dale, 'Sapphica', HSCP 106 (2011), 47–74.
3.   P. A. Rosenmeyer, 'Sappho's Iambics', Letras Clássicas 10 (2006 [2011]),11–36; Dale (n.2). The issue containing Rosenmeyer's paper did not appear until 2011, and was thus unavailable to me when writing Dale 2011 (a point missed by Martin).
4.   'Das Schiff soll unversehrt sein, nicht voll! Zu Sapphos neuem Lied über die Brüdder', ZPE 191 (2014), 13–14.
5.   L. Robert, 'Inscriptions de Lesbos', REA 62 (1960), 276–85.

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Friday, August 18, 2017


Michael von Albrecht, Geschichte der römischen Literatur: von Andronicus bis Boethius und ihr Fortwirken. 3. Auflage (2 vols.). Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2016. Pp. xxiv; xiv, 1,605. ISBN $99.95 (pb). $9783110496437.

Reviewed by Fred W. Jenkins, University of Dayton (

Version at BMCR home site

Publisher's Preview

Von Albrecht's monumental work has reached its third edition.1 Much that has been said in reviews of earlier editions remains applicable. E.J. Kenney justly praised it as "a work of prodigious labour and encyclopedic erudition, informative and protreptic in equal measure." He and other reviewers also noted the sometimes problematic arrangement of material, inadequate explanations and cross-references for students, and sundry omissions in the bibliographies.2 Little has changed in these respects with the third edition.

For those unfamiliar with earlier editions, von Albrecht takes a largely traditional and humanistic approach in covering Roman literature exhaustively from Andronicus to Boethius. After a lengthy introduction on the development of Roman literature, he arranges material chronologically by period with each subdivided first into prose and poetry, then by genre. Von Albrecht provides each period with a historical and literary introduction. He treats individual authors in a highly structured manner: life and dating; overview of works; sources, predecessors, genres; literary technique; style; reflections on the Gedankenwelt ("thought-world") of the author; transmission; and influence. He provides extensive notes and bibliographies throughout. It is very much a book to be consulted rather than read at length.

The question, then, remains how does this iteration differ from its predecessors. The foreword does not explicitly address changes but offers clues: von Albrecht notes the difficulty of listing the most important editions, commentaries, and monographs amid the rapidly burgeoning scholarly literature, laments the growing monoglot tendencies of the academy, reviews recent trends in scholarship with many bibliographical references, and speaks briefly on the importance of reception studies. Bibliography was clearly central to this revision. Sample comparisons with the second edition indicate that the text is virtually unchanged, footnotes occasionally updated, and bibliographies substantially augmented. Von Albrecht's section on Ammianus Marcellinus is a good example. Neither text nor footnotes have been altered, although a generous selection of recent works has been added to the bibliography. Similarly, in his introductory chapter on the development of Roman literature, von Albrecht virtually reprints the text of the second edition, with very sporadic additions to footnotes and extensive updates to the bibliographies. He has rarely failed to note updated editions or significant new works that appeared through 2009.

In short, von Albrecht remains a valuable reference work, especially for graduate students seeking an orientation and key bibliography for an author or genre in Roman literature; his treatment of influence (Fortwirken) will be of use to anyone tracing each author's impact on later European literature and culture. It is disappointing that von Albrecht chose not to revise his main text to reflect changes in thinking and emphasis over almost twenty years of scholarship.


1.   Earlier versions: 1. Auflage, Bern: Francke, 1992; 2. Auflage, Munich: Saur, 1994; English translation of the second German edition: A History of Roman Literature from Livius Andronicus to Boethius with Special Regard to Its Influence on World Literature, Leiden: Brill, 1997. NB: the third German edition reviewed here was originally published in hardcover in 2012.
2.   Among reviews of earlier versions that I have consulted: Joseph Hellegouarc'h, Gnomon 66 (1994): 496-499; Philip Hardie, Classical Review 109 (1995): 57-59; E.J. Kenney, BMCR 98.2.04; Philippe Desy, L'Antiquité classique 68 (1999): 389-390; Hubert Zehnacker, Latomus 60 (2001): 478-480.

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Jeremy McInerney, Ineke Sluiter (ed.), Valuing Landscape in Classical Antiquity: Natural Environment and Cultural Imagination. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 393. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016. Pp. xv, 495. ISBN 9789004319707. $181.00.

Reviewed by Laura Zientek, Brigham Young University (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This volume is a collection of essays revised from papers presented at the 2014 Penn-Leiden Colloquium, which focused on examining landscapes of value in the ancient Mediterranean. It is a welcome addition to a growing body of scholarly work in Classics on landscape studies, and. Because it collects a variety of focused studies, McInerney's and Sluiter's volume is able to incorporate the diversity of both landscape studies and the Classical world itself. While "landscape" may be a necessary and applicable unifying term, it is also unavoidably anachronistic, with no simple analog in Greek or Latin. Landscape studies encompass a wide array of subtopics, including space, place, human memory, geology, geography, topography, cartography, population studies, environment, ecocriticiscm, aesthetics, and more., McInerney and Sluiter define landscape as it applies to their collection as "a creation of human culture" through "the symbolic use of terrain" (1), and cite the work of Denis Cosgrove on landscape and Henri Lefebvre on space. 1 According to their interpretation, landscapes are polyvalent, with meaning varying among different observers and experiences. Landscape is a medium for cultural ideas, and may even be understood as "terrain rendered into text" (15). This approach to landscape in Classical antiquity is suitably nuanced yet broad and provides a fitting introduction to the sixteen individual essays that follow.

Part I, "Mountains," contains essays that draw on literary sources as well as theories of visualization that seek to understand the context and significance of mountains in ancient thought and experience. Two authors focus on specific peaks: Richard Buxton builds on his previous work on mountains in Greek myth, literature, and thought in a focused approach to Mt. Etna's simultaneous wild metamorphic nature and its "fluid actuality" as a volcano (43);2 Christina G. Williamson looks at Teuthrania (Kalerga Tepe) as a focal point in the adjacent Pergamene landscape and in local mythography, effectively employing modern theories of viewsheds and foregrounded/backgrounded places. The standout chapter of this section is Jason König's "Strabo's Mountains," in which the author explores the nuances of Strabo's dichotomy between civilization and wilderness, as well as the integration of mountains into human contexts throughout the Mediterranean world. Equally important is König's methodological argument, that understanding the significance of landscape in an ancient text benefits from a total and chronological reading of that text, since "successive moments of landscape depiction have a very complex intratextual relation with each other" and "they tell between them a developing story as each text goes on" (47). While studying isolated passages does have value, the ubiquity of landscape to the human experience requires these more universal approaches to textual sources as well.

The next pair of essays concerns "Underground and Underworld." Julie Baleriaux's study of mythological and literary treatments of karst geology and subterranean rivers represents Greek sources well, but could have benefitted from more discussion of geology vis-à-vis myth and philosophy. Kathrin Winter uses Senecan drama to study the emotional quality of spatial experience. Winter deftly analyzes a selection of Senecan texts (Hercules Furens, Thyestes, and Oedipus) to argue that the connection between landscape and emotional experience is "diffuse and ubiquitous" (129-30) rather than originating with either landscape or viewer alone. The effect, she argues, is a "defamiliarization" (135) that destabilizes the assumed definitions of human and non-human, and the expression of "something inherently indescribable" (143). The observation here, that the atmosphere of landscape scenes can have a greater effect on the reader than the mere sum of its words may suggest, has valuable implications for the study of aesthetic experience in ancient literature.

"The Sacred" is the unifying theme of Part III. Margaret M. Miles lays out the different aspects that contributed to and determined a sacred environment, and includes an impressive survey of scholarship. Rianne Hermans contextualizes Roman religious practices in the Alban Hills by examining literary, numismatic, archaeological, and topographical evidence. Betsey A. Robinson frames her discussion of two religious centers in Greece—the Thespian Mouseion/Mt. Helicon and the Delphic sanctuary of Apollo/Mt. Parnassus—in terms of the concept of kharismata, wherein "a dynamic, reciprocal system" (229) emerges in places where divine presence or gifts were thought to exist. The chapter as a whole is framed by a Pauline idea of kharismata transferred to a charisma of place.3 This thought experiment is certainly compelling (and, I think, successful), though integrating this concept of kharismata into the long literary and material history of these two religious centers that predate Paul's writings could have been more fully addressed in a project of greater scope. In addition to considering the geologically enhanced soundscape and the ongoing seismic change that augmented the exceptional nature of Delphi, she brings into her study both natural and built landscapes, contrasting statues atop pillars with mountain peaks and worked blocks of stone with the native bedrock (242). All three essays in this section address the integration of constructed or cultivated nature as part of the landscape, which, considering the fact that landscape itself is essentially nature as understood and interpreted by humanity, is a fundamental part of the wider study of landscape literature.

Part IV deals with "Battlefields and Memory of War." The visceral experiences of war and the subsequent sociopolitical effects of battles bring issues of memory and memorial into the landscape more vividly. Elizabeth Minchin notes the "humanization" of landscape in the addition of heroic tumuli to terrain (255), and connects modern archaeological knowledge about the tumuli in the Troad to ancient myth, ritual, belief, and the ongoing tourism of these sites since antiquity (262). Notably, Minchin sets out to identify consistent features in a "landscape of value:" distinctive topography, a humanizing narrative, renown, autopsy, ritual activity, and the transmission of cultural memories (270-271). These features are certainly useful as part of the larger collection of essays concerning value and landscape, and may be informative to landscape studies in general as well. Bettina Reitz-Joosse writes about the human power to restructure space (281), create landscape (287), and construct visions or memories of physical places (288), demonstrating the memorializing power of the town of Nikopolis and literary approaches to Actium in the Augustan era. Annemarie Ambühl also addresses the ability of poetry to reshape a landscape, where the reality of Thessaly percolates through the poetry of Catullus, Vergil, and Lucan to become "a paradigmatic landscape of anti-memory and anti-values" (300). Moreover, Ambühl's analysis of Lucan's Thessaly as "an imaginary text-landscape embodying the traumatic heritage of the civil wars in Latin poetry" (315) is a fitting climax to this part of the collection, with its focus on memory's ability to shape and change landscape and its emphasis on the variable distance between "landscape" and geographical or geological reality.

The title of Part V, "Moving Around," seems to hint at the variety of topics and geographical locales addressed by its authors; more pointedly, it introduces Danielle L. Kellogg's analysis of migration patterns in Attica. Kellogg accounts for physical and conceptual (social) landscapes in Attica, but admits the many complicating factors of any study of population or migration, and concludes that Attica was "a more localized climate of microregions—physically, spatially, and socially" (344). Maša Ćulumović explores the importance of place to epinician poetry, laying out a "victory-hometown axis" (350) influenced by geography, metaphors of movement, deictic language, and local landscapes; most interesting in this study is the idea of contrasting deixis ad oculos and deixis am Phantasma, that is, evoking present-visual landscape versus distant-imagined landscape. Lissa Crofton-Sleigh identifies the physical and conceptual "landscapers" in Vergil's Hercules-Cacus episode: Hercules himself, Evander, and Aeneas, all serve to some degree as agents through which Vergil "imposes a human frame on the natural structure" of the landscape (388), and they enact a process of "constructive deconstruction" (395) that aligns with Augustus' building program and creates a value-landscape in the heart of Rome. Greta Hawes focuses on Thebes as a "place" maintained through its reputation and memory, and reinforced through physical reconstructions that aligned with the mythographic tradition of Thebes' heroic past. Most illuminating in Part V is Christoph Pieper's analysis of Ovid's exile literature as a way to understand the landscape of Tomis ca. 8-9 CE. Pieper reads Ovid's portrayal of Tomis as a barbaric backwater against epigraphic, historical, and military evidence for Tomis' real multiculturalism and probable connections to Rome during Augustus' military campaigns in the Danube region. He concludes that while "mutual acculturation" (425) likely took place in Tomis, Ovid's approach to the landscape of Pontus is symbolic of fragmentation.

Ultimately, the study of landscape is concerned with the exploration and analysis of the human experience of and in the world and thus is necessarily diverse and multivalent. McInerney's and Sluiter's collection of essays mirrors this plurality of topic and perspective with its multiplicity of topics, perspectives, theoretical approaches, and conclusions. This is both beneficial in the largely excellent collection of chapters that make up the volume, and detrimental, in that the modern metaphorical use of "landscape" (e.g., the landscape of history, the political landscape) at times overshadows the fundamental connection between "landscape" and environment or terrain. The volume includes numerous maps, photographs, and even visualizations of numerical data, all enormously helpful in supporting the arguments of the authors who employ them. Bibliographical information appends each individual contribution. An excellent editorial contribution is the variety of indices: an index of Greek terms, of Latin terms, a general index, and an index locorum. While some contributions to this volume shine more brightly than others, each essay is informative to its own topic and representative of the relevant scholarship. The volume itself is a worthy addition to the growing body of literature dedicated to landscape studies and environmental humanities within Classics.

Authors and Titles

1. Jeremy McInerney and Ineke Sluiter, General Introduction
2. Richard Buxton, Mount Etna in the Greco-Roman imaginaire: Culture and Liquid Fire
3. Jason König, Strabo's Mountains
4. Christina G. Williamson, Mountain, Myth, and Territory: Teuthrania as Focal Point in the Landscape of Pergamon
5. Julie Baleriaux, Diving Underground: Giving Meaning to Subterranean Rivers
6. Kathrin Winter, Experience and Stimmung: Landscapes of the Underworld in Seneca's Plays
7. Margaret M. Miles, Birds around the Temple: Constructing a Sacred Environment
8. Rianne Hermans, Juno Sospita and the draco: Myth, Image, and Ritual in the Landscape of the Alban Hills
9. Betsey A. Robinson, Charismatic Landscapes? Scenes from Central Greece under Roman Rule
10. Elizabeth Minchin, Heritage in the Landscape: The 'Heroic Tumuli' in the Troad Region
11. Bettina Reitz-Joosse, Land at Peace and Sea at War: Landscape and Memory of Actium in Greek Epigrams and Propertius' Elegies
12. Annemarie Ambühl, Thessaly as an Intertextual Landscape of Civil War in Latin Poetry
13. Danielle L. Kellogg, Migration and Landscapes of Value in Attica
14. Maša Ćulumović, Songs of Homecoming: Sites of Victories and Celebrations in Pindar's Victory Odes
15. Lissa Crofton-Sleigh, The Mythical Landscapers of Augustan Rome
16. Christoph Pieper, Polyvalent Tomi: Ovid's Landscape of Relegation and the Romanization of the Black Sea Region
17. Greta Hawes, Stones, Names, Stories, and Bodies: Pausanias before the Walls of Seven-Gated Thebes


1.   Cosgrove, D. 1984. Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape. London and Sydney.; Lefebvre, H. 1991. The Production of Space (tr. D. Nicholson-Smith). Oxford.
2.   Buxton, R. G. A. 1992. "Imaginary Greek mountains," Journal of Hellenic Studies 112: 1-15.
3.   Cf. 1 Cor. 12:8-10.

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