Thursday, February 16, 2017


Sabine Luciani, Patricia Zuntow (ed.), Entre mots et marbre: les mètamorphoses d'Auguste. Scripta antiqua, 82. Bordeaux: Ausonius Éditions, 2016. Pp. 298. ISBN 9782356131515. €25.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Edwin Shaw, University of Bristol (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This volume, including twelve papers in French and one in Italian, represents the fruits of the symposium "Auguste en mots", organised in Paris in 2014 alongside the exhibition "Moi, Auguste, empereur de Rome" commemorating the bimillennium of Augustus' death. In the survey of the exhibition included here, curators Cécile Giroire and Daniel Roger discuss the absence of the literary dimension from the exhibition: without "les écrivains absents", a whole side to our understanding of the Principate must be lacking, hence the collection under review. The attempt to provide a literary supplement to the artistic and material artifacts of the Augustan period is worthwhile; but focusing on the literary aspect also carries the risk of eliding the metamorphoses of Augustus across the other cultural productions of the period,1 and indeed the "marble" of the book's title is somewhat lacking.2

Sabine Luciani in her introduction sets out four key aspects of the relationship between Augustus and the literature of his period: the personae of Augustus in literature, literary life under the Augustan principate, authors and the emperor, and the relationship of authors to the Republican past. While these four are treated more or less fully in the articles which follow (the last, in particular, is little discussed), there is no attempt to draw the papers together; while some articles include cross-references to others in the volume, most do not, despite multiple discussions of the same material.3 Generally, the contributions strike a balance between those on larger questions such as the freedom of speech of poets and historians, and those dealing with the portrayal of Augustus in specific authors; the overall focus is somewhat diffuse, and the articles themselves are of variable quality. The editors have exercised a light touch: some of the essays include text and translation, others one or the other; the contributors differ markedly in the generosity of their footnotes. Generally the book is well edited and put together, with consolidated indices locorum and nominum and attractive colour pictures.

Space precludes discussion of all of the articles; they cover a variety of authors (although other than Devillers' discussion of Nicolaos of Damascus and the material in part IV on Augustus' Nachleben these are largely limited to the Augustan "usual suspects"), and individual chapters will be of value to those working on specific texts, but it is a shame that the broad themes discussed in the introduction are not more clearly treated throughout. Some papers are more clearly relevant to the book's title and themes than others; Casanova-Robin's chapter on Ovid's Metamorphoses, in particular, makes only very limited reference to Augustus.

Somewhat oddly in the light of the themes identified in the introduction, the opening two articles explore different aspects of the self- presentation of the Augustan regime. John Scheid's chapter on the Res Gestae, with extensive discussion of previous bibliography, considers the text against the categories of either a work of literature or a political accounting, a strictly drawn opposition to which he recurs throughout. As in his edition of the text,4 Scheid's stress is on reading the inscription within a tradition of political communication, and the parallels he adduces for this are effective; he suggests that the literary attention which the Res Gestae has received has been inflated by our ignorance of comparable works of political testimony. Nonetheless, the conclusion that the Res Gestae should be viewed as the product of the Augustan chancery, not reflecting either the hand of Augustus himself nor any particular artistry of composition, is unlikely to convince those who take the opposite view, and despite brief mention of some more recent contributions on the Res Gestae Scheid's argument does not advance far beyond the views already set out in his edition.

Francesca Rohr Vio's chapter on Augustus' marriage to Livia in 38 BC (the sole contribution in Italian) stresses the importance of Octavian's marriage to Livia as a political strategy; by marrying Livia Drusilla, daughter of M. Livius Drusus Claudianus, Octavian could ally himself to families at the heart of Rome's Republican traditions, and thus strengthen his position with the nobiles who made up the support of Sextus Pompey. Rohr Vio considers in particular the moral and social significance of Livia's existing pregnancy, at the time of the marriage, by Tiberius Claudius Nero, who had to be either persuaded or coerced by Octavian into giving her up; the second half of the chapter develops some useful Republican parallels for Nero's divorce of Livia and Octavian's marriage to a woman already pregnant. Rohr Vio suggests that the historical tradition on Cato's politically-motivated ceding of his wife Marcia to the orator Hortensius in 56 BC, and their subsequent remarriage on Hortensius' death in 50, is coloured by Augustan attempts to use this as a precedent for his own marriage; the argument here is mostly persuasive, although the suggestion that the reputations of both Hortensius and Cato were systematically recuperated by the Augustan regime as a direct consequence of this connection seems rather speculative.

Philippe Le Doze's chapter begins the section on poetic views of the principate with a discussion of the vexed questions of freedom of speech and of inspiration. Beginning from Augustus' conspicuous success in creating concordia, Le Doze considers the significance of freedom of speech as an adaptation of the Republican virtue of libertas, and a requirement for the ideological legitimacy of the new regime (although Le Doze's association of Republican libertas with freedom of speech requires further discussion).5 Any form of instrumentalisation of the poets by the princeps, Le Doze argues, would have been both dangerous and ineffective. Instead, writers' engagement with Augustan themes was driven by their own desire as poet-citizens to contribute to the restoration of the state, and as vates to exercise a didactic influence on the princeps himself; Augustus' own literary role was largely reactive. The arguments against official interference in the poets' subject-matter are very useful, but the discussion of the poets' didactic ambitions (for which Le Doze draws parallels with Lucretius' Epicurean project and Horace's discussion of Homer's Odysseus in Ep. 1.2) needs further substantiation. The chapter is also rather selective, with little mention of the elegists (Le Doze does discuss their recusationes, but not, for example, Propertius' remarks on Augustus' moral legislation in 2.7) or any expressions of disquiet with the new state of affairs.

Of the section dealing with historiography, Paul Marius Martin's chapter on the "surveilled freedom" of the historians provides a neat counterpoint to Le Doze's, despite not referring to it directly. Martin considers the supposed tendency among historians to avoid the triumviral period in their works; this, he suggests, was less due to any centralised censorship than to to self-censorship on the part of the historians, and to a desire to forget the traumatic experiences of the civil wars. This did not apply consistently; while members of the elite (such as Asinius Pollio, protected by his neutrality and aristocratic status) might write about the civil wars with relative impunity, the same latitude was not extended to the less distinguished (Martin's example is Titus Labienus, the supporter of Pompey, whose books were burned in 8 AD). Those without the independent means of a Pollio could not risk the displeasure of the princeps. There is clearly some connection here to the themes of Le Doze's chapter, on the ideological connection of free speech to the virtues of the Republican aristocracy, although Martin does not discuss this. The latter part of the article treats Livy as an example of this stratified freedom: Martin suggests a connection between the period of writing of Livy's civil war books, reserved for publication after Augustus' death, with Livy's encouragement of the historical interests of the young Claudius, which supposedly began with a work treating the period from the death of Caesar onwards.6 The suggestion is intriguing, but the evidence only circumstantial.

In the final paper, which best encapsulates the book's subtitle, Emmanuèle Caire uses the citation of Augustus in the sixth-century chronicle of John Malalas as a starting-point from which to explore the reception of Augustus across the following six centuries. Beginning from Malalas' citation of Augustus as mystikos archiereus kai basileus, Caire traces a Christianising interpretation of Augustus, through the specific report of the oracle at the end of Augustus' rule prefiguring the coming of Christ. Caire locates Malalas' version within a complex set of influences, including the vogue for oracular literature, literary diffusion of the theme of awareness at Rome of the coming of Christ, the Christian interpretation of Virgil's fourth Eclogue, and Christian literature which made Augustus himself a precursor to Christ; she then goes on to demonstrate the connection between Malalas' version and the many later accounts of the foundation of the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Stressing a continued process of enrichment of the legend from other sources and unpicking the stages of etiological evolution, Caire places Malalas' version at the centre of a long history of a legend in constant evolution (and for which she provides a provisional history). The chapter illuminates a fascinating example of the complex history of Augustan reception, and its demonstration of the mutability of his legend is a fitting conclusion to the volume as a whole.

Table of Contents

Préface / Carlos Lévy
Introduction. Auguste en Mots. Le princeps au miroir de la littérature / Sabine Luciani
Auguste à Paris / Cécile Giroire et Daniel Roger

1. Biographie, littérature et politique
"Les Hauts faits du Divin Auguste". Texte littéraire ou bilan politique? / John Scheid
Le nozze di Augusto tra azione politica et strategie propagandistiche / Francesca Rohr Vio
Auguste et ses Res Gestae mis en mots par Properce: un regard élégiaque sur le principat/ Marie Ledentu

2. Inmania Caesaris acta condere. Regards poétiques sur le principat
Vox Apollonis / Vox Augusti: liberté d'insipration des poètes et principat augustéen / Philippe Le Doze
Qu'y a-t-il dans un nom? Technique poétique et histoire contemporaine dans les Géorgiques de Virgile / Damien Patrick Nelis
Le Prince et les bonnes moeurs: la restauration du mos maiorum dans les Odes érotiques d'Horace / Bénédicte Delignon
Chanter l'origine de Rome dans les Métamorphoses d'Ovide / Hélène Casanova-Robin

3. Écrire l'histoire sous Auguste
L'écriture de l'histoire sous Auguste: une liberté surveillée / Paul Marius Martin
Tite-Live et Auguste / Bernard Mineo
Octave comme modèle politique universel. Remarques sur le thème de la famille et des amis chez Nicolas de Damas / Olivier Devillers

4. Auguste jugé par l'histoire
Du Vengeur de César au Prince de la Paix, une longue métamorphose / Isabelle Cogitore
Auguste selon Suétone / Giuseppe Zecchini
Octavien-Auguste chez Dion Cassius: entre propagande et objectivité / Marie-Laure Freyburger-Galland
Auguste grand prêtre initié et roi. La légende augustéenne chez Jean Malalas / Emmanuèle Caire.


1.   In this connection it is perhaps surprising that Karl Galinsky's Augustan Culture: An Interpretive Introduction (Princeton University Press, 1996) is cited only twice, and briefly (p. 16, 89).
2.   The Res Gestae are discussed quite extensively, particularly in Scheid's chapter, but there are only brief references to e.g. the evolution of Augustan portraiture or the metamorphosis enacted on the city through Augustus' architectural programme.
3.   Martin's and Mineo's chapters in particular overlap (albeit understandably, given the subject-matter).
4.   Scheid, Res gestae divi Augusti. Hauts faits du divin Auguste. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2007).
5.   See Arena, V. Libertas and the Practice of Politics in the Late Roman Republic, (Cambridge University Press, 2012), which is not cited.
6.   Suetonius, Claudius 41.1-2.

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Barbara Sielhorst, Hellenistische Agorai: Gestaltung, Rezeption und Semantik eines urbanen Raumes. Urban Spaces, 3. Berlin, München, Boston: De Gruyter, 2015. Pp. x, 354. ISBN 9783110344851. €119.95.

Reviewed by Caterina Parigi, Universität zu Köln (

Version at BMCR home site


Il volume di Barbara Sielhorst, che rappresenta il terzo della serie "Urban Spaces" edita da Susanne Muth, Jennifer Trimble e Ulrike Wulf-Rheidt, ha come argomento le agorai di età ellenistica con particolare attenzione alla loro organizzazione, ricezione e semantica come spazi urbani.

Il libro è suddiviso in due grandi sezioni: la prima di testo, articolata in dieci capitoli, e la seconda di catalogo. Il primo capitolo (pp. 3-20), in qualità di introduzione, chiarisce alcuni aspetti generali della ricerca, quali il tema oggetto di studio e le domande a cui il lavoro intende dare una risposta; esse concernono principalmente la struttura delle piazze ellenistiche, la presenza di principi di costituzione specifici per questo periodo, le funzioni e il rapporto che intercorre fra la strutturazione della piazza e la società che lì agisce.1 L'arco cronologico in esame è compreso fra il 400 a.C. e il 50 d.C., includendo così le fasi immediatamente precedente e successiva a quella ellenistica, in modo da rendere maggiormente efficace l'osservazione dei fenomeni tipici del periodo oggetto di studio. I confini geografici della ricerca sono rappresentati dalla Grecia, le isole dell'Egeo e la zona occidentale dell'Asia Minore; in queste aree sono scelte le 66 agorai sotto analisi, fra le quali 16 vengono prese in esame in modo più dettagliato (cap. 4), in quanto si tratta di piazze molto ben ricostruibili. Inoltre viene tracciata una chiara e particolareggiata storia degli studi (1.2). Dispiace, però, constatare che sia in questa che nel corso di tutto il volume le ricerche italiane siano quasi totalmente ignorate, in particolare per quanto riguarda i numerosi contributi su Atene2 e gli studi recenti realizzati dalla Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene a Sparta.3

La strutturazione e l'organizzazione architettonica, le funzioni, la ricezione estetica e la semantica delle piazze ellenistiche sono i criteri che stanno alla base dell'analisi sistematica delle agorai oggetto del secondo capitolo (pp. 21-66). Questi vengono discussi sia a livello generale sia attraverso gli esempi ricavati dall'analisi delle 66 agorai, che permettono di proporre una serie di conclusioni relative ai singoli criteri considerati. L'autrice pone l'accento in particolare sulla crescente tendenza in età ellenistica all'esclusione dall'area dell'agora delle principali arterie cittadine, così come sulla multifunzionalità dello spazio che, attraverso la strutturazione della superficie della piazza e l'utilizzo di specifiche tipologie architettoniche ai lati di questa, si presenta regolato da criteri strutturali unitari. Di maggior interesse risultano le conclusioni relative alla ricezione estetica e alla semantica delle agorai. Qui il ruolo principale è assunto dalla stoa che fornisce da un lato una chiusura verso l'interno, circondando la superficie centrale della piazza su tutti i lati, e dall'altro un collegamento verso l'esterno, potendo essere considerata da fuori come parte integrante del paesaggio urbano della città e fornendo la possibilità di mettere in relazione da un punto di vista ottico ed estetico la piazza con i dintorni (panorama). Inoltre le stoai assicurano l'unificazione delle facciate degli edifici, integrando anche altri monumenti, come propilei o scalinate, e nascondendo alle loro spalle edifici quali Bouleuteria e Prytaneia. Questa precisa strutturazione della piazza ha, secondo l'autrice, anche un'influenza sui fruitori delle agorai che sarebbero indirizzati nei loro movimenti all'interno dello spazio della piazza e fra i suoi monumenti. Particolarmente interessante risulta l'idea secondo la quale la presenza delle stoai tutto intorno alla piazza porti a nascondere le funzioni degli edifici che si trovano alle sue spalle che sarebbero, però, allo stesso tempo richiamate dal posizionamento di statue, a cui le facciate delle stesse stoai forniscono una quinta e che risultano suddivise in gruppi in base al significato che sono chiamate a simboleggiare. L'esempio principale fornito qui dall'agora di Atene mi sembra particolarmente calzante.

Il capitolo 3 (pp. 67-77) discute l'idea dell'agora ellenistica come fenomeno sociale, arrivando alla interessante e condivisibile conclusione che la strutturazione delle piazze e la scelta dei monumenti abbiano come scopo da un lato l'autorappresentazione e la celebrazione delle élites locali e dall'altro la tendenza a richiamare alla mente la storia cittadina e ad orientarsi in modo sempre crescente agli interessi locali. Questa stessa tendenza a rivolgersi verso il proprio glorioso passato insieme ad una predominanza dell'élite locale, infatti, è riscontrabile anche all'inizio dell'età imperiale e trova ottimi confronti ad esempio con quanto accade ad Atene fra la fine del I sec. a.C. e l'inizio del I sec. d.C., dove è proprio l'élite cittadina a promuovere l'integrazione dei nuovi elementi romani all'interno della tradizione ateniese.4

Le analisi delle sedici agorai, che occupano il capitolo 4, sono suddivise sulla base di tre criteri: forma, funzione e topografia, a loro volta comprendenti ciascuno due sottoinsiemi sempre diversi. Non sempre risulta chiaro, in particolare nel caso delle agorai suddivise topograficamente fra quelle che si trovano vicino al mare e quelle, invece, nell'interno, il valore che questo ha per la piazza, così come a volte sfugge il legame con gli elementi analizzati in precedenza, cosa che comporta in questi casi il perdere di vista i concetti d'insieme. Per questo la lettura del capitolo 5, dove viene riassunto il significato di forma, funzione e topografia per l'organizzazione delle agorai in età ellenistica, risulta fondamentale per la comprensione dei singoli casi di studio. Altre schede, invece, offrono una perfetta analisi integrata dei criteri generali discussi nel capitolo precedente mostrati in relazione al caso specifico di volta in volta preso in esame, come ad esempio quelle di Assos (pp. 148-152) e di Thasos (pp. 152-159).

Lo studio dell'agora di Atene presenta alcune imprecisioni, fra le quali: l'affermazione della presenza di una stoa che nel III sec. a.C. ingloberebbe il Vecchio e il Nuovo Bouleuterion e la Tholos (p. 40), che invece non risulta in nessun periodo legata agli edifici vicini; la costruzione del bema considerata quasi contemporanea a quella della Stoa di Attalo (p. 56), mentre la datazione del monumento non risulta precisa e potrebbe scendere fino all'88 a.C. Inoltre l'autrice considera sicura l'identificazione del monumento sul lato settentrionale della piazza come un propileo di accesso e lo utilizza come prova del fatto che propilei vengano inglobati nelle facciate delle stoai e che gli accessi alle piazze siano regolati e precisamente definiti, senza accennare al fatto che sull'interpretazione del monumento esistono opinioni contrastanti. Sia la Monaco sia Winter, infatti, ritengono che si tratti dei basamenti di due monumenti diversi.4 Se da una parte non si può pretendere, da un lavoro che prende in esame non una ma 66 differenti agorai, un'analisi estremamente dettagliata di ciascuna di queste, dall'altra ci aspetteremmo che almeno per le 16 piazze analizzate in dettaglio venissero presentate le diverse interpretazioni o teorie, quando presenti e soprattutto quando queste vanno a toccare monumenti o aspetti che sono utilizzati dall'autrice a sostegno delle tesi avanzate nel volume.

I successivi capitoli presentano i risultati dello studio (cap. 6), riassunti e articolati secondo i quattro criteri seguiti nell'analisi sistematica delle agorai, e una brevissima panoramica dello sviluppo delle piazze all'inizio dell'età imperiale (cap. 7).

Dopo due abstracts, uno in inglese (cap. 8) e uno in francese (cap. 9), e le abbreviazioni bibliografiche (cap. 10) si trova la seconda parte del volume costituita dal catalogo delle 66 agorai (pp. 216-349) suddiviso in due parti: le schede delle 16 sedici piazze analizzate in modo più approfondito e le schede delle restanti 50 agorai prese in esame nel volume. Per ogni piazza vengono forniti i dati relativi alla posizione, alle misure, al periodo di utilizzo, al contesto urbanistico, alla presenza di edifici e monumenti – questa parte risulta molto più particolareggiata e suddivisa in fasi per le 16 agorai analizzate nel dettaglio – e alla bibliografia. Le 16 schede contengono anche una breve storia degli studi.

Dal punto di vista formale alcuni piccoli errori sono riscontrabili nel testo, senza che questo crei però problemi alla lettura, mentre nelle note molto frequentemente l'elenco della bibliografia citata non appare in ordine cronologico, ma spesso in modo sparso. L'apparato figurativo fornito è molto buono: in ogni scheda di catalogo è presente la pianta della città, con l'individuazione dell'area dell'agora e la pianta dell'agora stessa. Per le 16 agorai analizzate nel dettaglio, inoltre, la presenza delle piante di ogni fase facilita la lettura dei cambiamenti che vengono sottolineati nel testo. Solo in due casi sono riscontrabili degli errori: la Fig. 5 nella scheda relativa all'agora di Atene non è la pianta dell'area nel III sec. a.C., così come indicato nella didascalia, ma quella nel II sec. a.C., risultando infatti identica alla successiva Fig. 6. Nella scheda relativa all'agora di Magnesia sul Menandro, invece, le Figg. 71 e 72 sono invertite rispetto alle relative didascalie e alle indicazioni fornite nel testo: la prima, infatti, è la pianta del periodo compreso fra il I sec. a.C. e il I sec. d.C., mentre la seconda è quella della fase precedente. Per quanto riguarda le Figg. 43-45 nella scheda dell'agora di Thera, le legende troppo piccole risultano illeggibili.

Nel complesso – anche se una maggiore attenzione e precisione nella discussione di alcuni aspetti sarebbero state auspicabili, e se il secondo capitolo incorre in eccessive ripetizioni per la troppo rigida aderenza ai quattro criteri di esame – il volume presenta spunti di riflessione e ipotesi interessanti. La visione dell'agora di età ellenistica, come il luogo principale dove le élites locali agiscono rifacendosi agli eventi fondamentali della storia cittadina, fornisce un'ottima conferma di quanto si riscontra all'inizio dell'età imperiale ad esempio ad Atene, e mostra come questo processo affondi le sue radici già nel periodo precedente. Il catalogo inoltre risulta un utile strumento e punto di partenza per un futuro studio di una o più agorai.


1.   Cap. 1, (p. 16): "die Agora als soziales Konstrukt und somit als Produkt funktionaler, rezeptionsästhetischer sowie semantischer Konzepte zu beschreiben, zu analysieren, historisch zu bewerten und deren Spezifika in der Epoche des Hellenismus herauszuarbeiten".
2.   Mi riferisco in primo luogo alla collana Topografia di Atene diretta da Emanuele Greco e in secondo luogo a contributi su argomenti vari e che forniscono spesso interpretazioni diverse rispetto a quelle classiche di studiosi come ad esempio Enzo Lippolis o Maria Chiara Monaco: M.C. Monaco, "L'Hipparcheion, il lato settentrionale dell'agorà di Atene e l'acquedotto cimoniano", Workshop di archeologia classica 1, 2004, 18-49; E. Lippolis, "Le moderne peregrinazioni di Apollo e di Afrodite nell'Agora di Atene", ASAtene 87, 2009, 235-273.
3.   E. Greco, "Alla ricerca dell'agora di Sparta", ASAtene 89, 2011, 53-77. La scheda relativa all'agora di Sparta (40) indica come incerta la posizione della piazza e come sconosciuti edifici e monumenti, mentre le ricerche italiane forniscono un'interpretazione precisa sulla posizione dell'agora grazie al riesame e a una proposta di identificazione di due edifici: la Skias – già scavata nell'ottocento - e la Stoa persiké – venuta in parte alla luce negli anni '60 del Novecento.
4.   O. Dally, "Athen in der frühen Kaiserzeit – ein Werk des Kaisers Augustus?", in: S. Vlizos (a cura di), Η Αθήνα κατά τη Ρωμϊακή εποχή. Πρόσφατες ανακαλύψεις νέες έρευνες, Μουσείο Μπενάκη Παράρτημα 4 (Atene 2008) 43-53; Th. Stephanidou-Tiveriou, "Tradition and Romanization in the Monumental Landscape of Athens", in: S. Vlizos (a cura di), Η Αθήνα κατά τη Ρωμϊακή εποχή. Πρόσφατες ανακαλύψεις νέες έρευνες, Μουσείο Μπενάκη Παράρτημα 4 (Atene 2008) 11-40.
5.   M.C. Monaco, "L'Hipparcheion, il lato settentrionale dell'agorà di Atene e l'acquedotto cimoniano", Workshop di archeologia classica 1, 2004, 18-49; F. E. Winter, Studies in Hellenistic Architecture (Toronto 2006).

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Adrian Robu, Iulian Bîrzescu (ed.), Mégarika: nouvelles recherches sur Mégare, les cités de la Propontide et du Pont-Euxin. Archéologie, épigraphie, histoire. Actes du colloque de Mangalia (8-12 juillet 2012). De l'archéologie à l'histoire, 66. Paris: Éditions de Boccard, 2016. Pp. 494. ISBN 9782701803647. €59.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Margarit Damyanov, National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (

Version at BMCR home site

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

The present volume brings together the proceedings of a conference on Megara and Megarian colonization. The title is slightly misleading, as there are no contributions specifically dealing with any of the Propontic and Pontic colonies, except for Kallatis (located at Mangalia, the host city of the conference). The 19 texts vary greatly in length and scope, ranging from two to 113 pages, and are organized in three sections, dedicated respectively to general topics concerning Megarian colonization, the city of Megara, and Kallatis.

The opening contribution, by Alexander Herda, occupies roughly one quarter of the volume and could be expanded into a book by itself, considering the wealth of topics treated in its overly copious footnotes. Herda builds a compelling case for a "colonization alliance" between Miletos and Megara in the Archaic Period. The first part of his text discusses the parallel roles of Apollo Didymeos and Pythios, respectively, in Milesian and Megarian colonization. The second explores similarities in the social and political organization of Miletos and Megara, emphasizing the oligarchic institution of aisymnetai. The third is dedicated to Milesian-Megarian elite interactions, strengthened by mythical kinship, originating as early as the Lelantine War, when both cities were allies of Eretria. Herda considers the Propontic and Pontic colonization a joint venture of the two cities, since, given their locations, the colonies could not have functioned independently. On a mythical level, this cooperation was sanctioned by the Argonauts, who visited (future) colonies of both states.

The remaining texts of the first section deal with epigraphic evidence, mostly for the external relations of the Pontic colonies of Megara. Thibault Castelli explores the networks of Herakleia, Kallatis, Mesambria, and Chersonesos by tracing the activity of their citizens abroad and of foreigners at home. Mostly local and regional networks emerge, but also preferences and specifics—for example the presence of people from all the cities under consideration in the sanctuary of Amphiaraos at Oropos. The proposed explanation is the absence of healing cults in the Dorian cities of the Black Sea and the Boeotian role in the colonization of Herakleia. Victor Cojocaru discusses proxeny decrees issued by Propontic and Pontic colonies of Megara—and for their citizens by other poleis. He notes the numerous decrees for people from Herakleia, Byzantion, and Chalkedon, in contrast to the very few decrees issued by their home states (none are known from Herakleia). One explanation is that the cities on the Bosporus controlled Pontic trade and all parties (both exporters and consumers) sought to secure good relations with them by making their citizens proxenoi, while the opposite was not that necessary. On the other hand, in Cojocaru's opinion, Herakleian trade, limited to mainly within the Black Sea, was channeled through Kallatis and Chersonesos, regulated by the ties of syngenneia. This conclusion is based on amphorae, but overlooks the ample Herakleian imports in Apollonia and its surroundings (commented upon by Castelli) that would suggest direct relations, at least in the 4th c. BC.1 Both Castelli and Cojocaru provide useful tables summarizing the evidence. Federica Cordano discusses personal names and family relations from the area of Selymbria. Combinations of Greek and Thracian names on tombstones are intriguing, although the chronology of the inscriptions is not specified (recently, Dan Dana has dated them to later Hellenistic and Imperial times).2 The contribution of Denis Knoepfler concerns a decree of a religious association in Athens, dated to 214/213 BC and honoring a wealthy Kallatian woman, "overseer" of the cult of Agathe Theos.

The papers in the second section of the volume provide a sketch of the archaeology of Megara, plus a preliminary publication of a rural sanctuary in Megaris. Yannis Chairetakis discusses funerary practices in the 7th and 6th c. BC. Unfortunately, there is no comparable evidence from the early colonies in the Propontis that might reveal continuity of the practices of the mother city; the data from Megara Hyblaea suggest that burial customs were not necessarily replicated in the colonies.3 On the other hand, Adrian Robu identifies a parallel practice at Megara, Kallatis, and Chersonesos, but for a later period (Classical to Late Hellenistic): the insertion of small "funerary plaques" in larger stelae.

Eugenia Tsalkou offers an overview of the current state of the urban archaeology of Megara, discussing fortifications, roads, sanctuaries, etc., and several other contributions supplement and expand on various topics. Of particular interest is Panagiota Avgerinou's discussion of the elaborate water system, which included impressive tunnels and public fountains, drawing comparisons with other Archaic and Classical examples, including Eupalinos' tunnel on Samos. Megara was the motherland of the famous engineer, and the existence of such structures here is not surprising. However, the attribution to Eupalinos of Megara's subterranean aqueduct, dated only on the grounds of its masonry, is perhaps rash.

A specific group of structures deserves attention — the so-called megara, subterranean chambers beneath Megarian houses of the later 6th–4th c. BC, more than a hundred of which have been excavated. On the basis of a local tradition, recorded by Pausanias, that the city was named for the sacred megara of the mysteries of Demeter, Tsalkou suggests a cult function (though conceding they could also have served as storerooms); Eleni Banou supports this interpretation as well. It is unfortunate that neither author gives the chambers' dimensions; associated materials are mentioned only summarily by Tsalkou and are not discussed at all by Banou, who attempts to trace the megara to Minoan structures. While this seems unlikely, another direction of study is worth exploring—the transfer of this typical feature of Megara's domestic architecture to its colonies. A number of Classical and Hellenistic "cellars" have been excavated in Mesambria, the earliest dating in the first half of the 5th c. BC, soon after the city's foundation.4

In the section dedicated to Kallatis, Iulian Bîrzescu and Mihai Ionescu address the main unsolved issue of the Herakleian colony — the date of its foundation. The only written source offers as a dating event the ascension of Amyntas (I or III?) of Macedon. Thus, the alternative dates fall in the second half of the 6th c. (as accepted by A. Herda and T. Castelli in the present volume) or the late 5th–early 4th c. BC (e.g., in the contribution of N. Alexandru). Archaeology has not uncovered anything earlier than the 4th c. BC. Bîrzescu and Ionescu therefore embark on a search for an earlier Greek settlement nearby, encouraged by Pliny's testimony to an earlier name of Kallatis—Cerbatis/Carbatis (an independently attested toponym in the region). They consider this an Archaic Ionian foundation of minor (if any) importance for the future development of Kallatis, which was spurred by the arrival of Herakleians in the early 4th c. BC. Such an analysis seems actually to support the late date of Kallatis' foundation, raising questions about some aspects of the process, e.g. the number of the colonists and their relations with the native population, as within two or three generations Kallatis created a substantial chora and emerged as one of the most powerful West Pontic cities.

Nicolae Alexandru discusses the fortified settlements in the Kallatian territory, adding new evidence about the extensively published site of Albeşti and other sites. Livia Buzoianu and Maria Barbulescu present the terracotta figurines from Albeşti, which indicate that mainly chthonic deities (Kybele, Demeter, Dionysos, etc.) were worshiped there. Numerous parallels from other Pontic colonies are adduced, to which one could add the evidence of a cult of Kybele from Durankulak, a rural sanctuary in Kallatis' territory,5 and the numerous female protomes from the necropolis of Mesambria.6 Florina Panait Bîrzescu and Tatiana Odobescu publish two fragmentary marble sculptures from the presumed temenos of Kallatis, which they date to the 2nd c. AD and tentatively identify as depictions of Athena (her cult is known from inscriptions). Gabriel Talmaţchi offers a short essay on the Hellenistic coinage of Kallatis, discussing various types and their chronology. An interesting conclusion is that the city was at its most prosperous in the 3rd and the first half of the 2nd c. BC—contrary to Memnon's claim that it never recovered after its mid- 3rd c. BC war with Byzantion. Finally, Alexandru Avram and Mihai Ionescu add four inscriptions to the corpus of Kallatis, one of which documents the dedication of a stoa(?) and a gymnasium to the Emperor Augustus.

To summarize, the reviewed volume covers a variety of topics and is particularly useful for bridging the ever-narrowing gap between studies of the Mediterranean Greek world and of its Pontic extension.

Table of Contents

Denis Knoepfler, "Avant-propos"
Adrian Robu, Iulian Bîrzescu, "Introduction"

I. Colonisation et contacts des cités mégariennes avec le monde égéen
Alexander Herda, "Megara and Miletos: Colonising with Apollo. A Structural Comparison of Religious and Political Institutions in Two Archaic Greek Polis States"
Thibaut Castelli, "À propos du réseau mégarien du Pont-Euxin: la mobilité spatiale des personnes entre mer Égée et mer Noire aux époques classique et hellénistique"
Victor Cojocaru, "Un espace dorien pontique d'après les décrets de proxénie"
Federica Cordano, "Les familles de Sélymbria et quelques noms personnels"
Denis Knoepfler, "Une femme de Callatis à Athènes dans un nouveau décret d'association religieuse au IIIe siècle av. J.-C."

II. Archéologie et épigraphie des cités de la Mégaride
Yannis Chairetakis, "Burial Customs of Megara during the 7th and 6th Centuries B.C.: The Case of the North-East Cemetery"
Polytimi Valta, "A Rural Sanctuary in the West of Pagai. Preliminary Report"
Eugenia Tsalkou, "A 'Peridiavasis' in the City of Megara in the 5th and 4th Centuries B.C."
Eleni S. Banou, "Megarian Urbanism: A Note on the So-Called 'Megaron'"
Panagiota Avgerinou, "Water Supply Facilities in Megara during the Archaic and Classical Period"
Irini Svana, "A Refuse Deposit of Classical Period from Megara. Reexamination of the Topography and History of the Ancient Town"
Adrian Robu, "Contribution à l'épigraphie mégarienne: les tablettes funéraires inscrites"
Yannis Kalliontzis, "Rapport préliminaire sur le nouveau fragment de l'inscription d'Aigosthènes IG VII 219-222"

III. Callatis et son territoire: nouveaux développements de la recherche
Iulian Bîrzescu, Mihai Ionescu, "Recherches sur la fondation de Callatis: l'apport de la documentation archéologique"
Nicolae Alexandru, "Fortified Settlements in the Territory of Callatis (4th-3rd Centuries B.C.)"
Livia Buzoianu, Maria Bărbulescu, "Les terres cuites d'époque hellénistique d'Albeşti. Représentations de divinités"
Florina Panait Bîrzescu, Tatiana Odobescu, "Découvertes sculpturales de la 'zone sacrée' de Callatis"
Gabriel Talmaţchi, "The Coinage of Callatis in the Hellenistic Period Revisited"
Alexandru Avram, Mihai Ionescu, "Nouvelles inscriptions de Callatis"
Alexandru Avram, "Conclusion"


1.   Chavdar Tzochev, "Between the Black Sea and the Aegean: The Diffusion of Greek Trade Amphorae in Southern Thrace," in D. Kassab Tezgör and N. Inaishvili (eds.), PATABS I. Production and Trade of Amphorae in the Black Sea. Actes de la Table Ronde Internationale de Batoumi et Trabzon, 27–29 Avril 2006. Paris, 2010, 99, pl. 56.2.
2.   Dan Dana, Onomasticon Thracicum. Répertoire des noms indigènes de Thrace, Macédoine Orientale, Mésies, Dacie et Bithynie, Athènes, 2014, 93, 109, 221, 265.
3.   Gillian Shepherd, "The Pride of Most Colonials: Burial and Religion in the Sicilian Colonies," in Fisher-Hansen, T. (ed.), Ancient Sicily (Acta Hyperborea VI), 1995, 56-58, 66-68.
4.   Anelia Bozkova and Petya Kiyashkina, "L'urbanisme et l'architecture domestiques des colonies grecques ouest-pontiques: Mésambria," in Martinez, J.-L. et al. (eds), L'épopée des rois thraces. Des guerres médiques au invasions celtes 479-278 avant J.-C. Découvertes archéologiques en Bulgarie. Catalogue de l'exposition présentée au musée du Louvre, à Paris, du 16 avril au 20 juillet 2015, Paris, 2015, 303; Luba Ognenova-Marinova, "L'architecture domestique à Messambria, IVe-IIe s. av. J.-C." Nessebre III, Burgas, 2005, 11-28.
5.   Henrieta Todorova, "Durankulak—a Territorium Sacrum of the Goddess Cybele," in D. Grammenos and E. Petropoulos, Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 (BAR International Series 1675), Oxford, 2007, 182, Fig. 22.
6.   Petya Kiyashkina et al., A Guide to the Collections of the Archaeological Museum of Nessebar, Nessebar, 2012, 30, Nos. 46-47.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Juan Martos, Apuleyo de Madauros. Apología o Discurso sobre la magia en defensa propia; Floridas; [Prólogo de El dios de Sócrates]. Introducción, traducción y notas. Alma mater. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2015. Pp. cvi, 607. ISBN 9788400099435. €53.00.

Reviewed by Ian H. Henderson, McGill University (

Version at BMCR home site

The rightly inescapable Metamorphoses of Apuleius of Madauros have often overshadowed the other surviving works of the brilliant North African sophist. In its way, the Apologia pro se de magia is every bit as unique as the Metamorphoses. No doubt it was heavily worked-up for literary circulation, yet the Apologia is the only extant Latin defense speech to come from an actual criminal trial in the Roman Empire. It is also very much pro se and de magia, because Apuleius' main defense strategy seems to be to admit almost all allegations of fact against him and instead to contest whether the alleged behaviours could be magic in a criminal sense if the perpetrator is, like himself, an educated philosophic practitioner. The text is thus almost an encyclopedia of possibly magic practices and of personal ritual experience in the borders between magic and religion. Together with the fragmentary Florida and so-called Prologue attached to the De Deo Socratis, the Apologia is also a treasure-trove of exquisite sophistic Latin discourse.

It is very much to be welcomed, then, that following the publication of an edition and text of the Metamorphoses of Apuleius for the prestigious Spanish Alma Mater collection of Greek and Latin authors, Professor Juan Martos has now given us a single volume bringing together the Apologia pro se de magia and the Florida, along with the so-called Prologue attached to the De Deo Socratis. In keeping with the series in which it appears, the volume includes a Latin text with critical apparatus and a facing-page Spanish translation with notes, as well as ample introductions and rich bibliographies. Also in keeping with the Alma Mater series, the volume is physically beautiful and typographically elegant; together with that graphic clarity, the fact that text, apparatus, translation and notes all appear on one double-page spread makes this volume a convenient resource, over against, say, Vincent Hunink's superb three volumes of text and commentary and the translations and notes in the volume edited by Stephen Harrison.1 Of course, the one-volume format cannot eclipse the rich scholarship and generous scale of such existing multi-volume editions and multi-author translations, but Professor Martos' expertise and judgement have given us a remarkably authoritative yet accessible instrument.

The manuscript tradition for the Apologia and Florida does not invite a dramatically new textual edition, but Martos' independence of judgement is evident and justified in the clear introduction and in the full apparatus of manuscript readings and principal editions. The full apparatus on the same page means that the text itself is as free as possible from editorial signs, a benefit for general readers like this reviewer, while allowing us to be aware of the text's manuscript and editorial history.

The situation for the so-called Preface to the De Deo Socratis is intriguingly peculiar: textually it is witnessed only in manuscripts of "philosophical" works attributed to Apuleius, specifically the De Deo Socratis, not in the manuscripts containing the Metamorphoses, the Apologia and the Florida. In itself, however, the Preface has looked to modern editors much more like a mini-collection of five fragments very like those in the Florida, than like a unified prologue, let alone a prologue to the discourse De Deo Socratis.2 It makes sense, then, to include the Preface in the present volume along with the Florida. On the other hand, debate continues about both the integrity of the Preface and its pertinence to the De Deo Socratis.3 We really don't know how much a prolalia needed to be thematically relevant to the speech for which it might serve as an audience warm-up. Martos (xxxv-xxxvi) therefore wisely prescinds from making definitive claims, but he does print the text and translation as a continuous text, rather than as five fragments. This is in some contrast with Martos' presentation of the translation of the Florida, in which each fragment is introduced as such by an editorial heading (172 n. 515). At any rate, the Preface is a good occasion for thinking about the possible relations between improvisation and composition, Greek and Latin, preface and body in a sophistic discourse.

For all three texts, the Apologia de magia, the Florida, and the so-called Prologue attached to the De Deo Socratis, the single-volume format precludes really detailed introduction or commentary, yet Martos devotes nearly half of almost every translation page to dense annotation identifying allusions and references to other texts and to persons or realia. Most comments are aimed at a fairly general reader, but Martos is particularly helpful on the rhetorical characteristics of these intensely-crafted texts. The translation is designed as an aid to reading the adjacent Latin text, even where the latter is unclear; as far as the present reviewer can judge, Martos probably wisely refrains from trying to simulate Apuleius' florid, scintillating style and periodic architecture. It often falls to the notes therefore to point out aspects of Apuleius' compulsive word-play, punning and rhythmic games and to reassure the first-time reader that Apuleius' special effects are almost always intentional aspects of the total performance.

The contrast in scale and focus between the intricately elaborated, articulated religious-legal argumentative unity of the Apologia and the deliberately fragmentary quality and apparently epideictic purpose of the selected Florida and prefatory fragments from the De Deo Socratis makes this volume especially fascinating and a delight to use.


1.   Apuleius, and Vincent Hunink, Pro Se De Magia: Apologia. v. 1. Introduction, text, bibliography, indexes v. 2. Commentary (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 1997); Apuleius, and Vincent Hunink, Florida. (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 2001); Apuleius, S. J. Harrison, John Hilton, and Vincent Hunink, Apuleius: rhetorical works (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).
2.   Apuleius, and Jean Beaujeu, Opuscules philosophiques (Du dieu de Socrate, Platon et sa doctrine, Du monde) et fragments (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1973); Apuleius, and Claudio Moreschini, Apulei Platonici Madaurensis Opera quae supersunt. vol. 3 De Philosophia Libri (Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1991). Contra see Vincent Hunink, "The Prologue of Apuleius' De Deo Socratis" in Mnemosyne 48/4 (1995) 292-312.
3.   See S. J. Harrison, "'False Preface' to On the God of Scorates Introduction" in Apuleius, S. J. Harrison, John Hilton, and Vincent Hunink, Apuleius: rhetorical works (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) 177-180.

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Shane Butler (ed.), Deep Classics: Rethinking Classical Reception​. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. Pp. ix, 347. ISBN 9781474260510. $34.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Mathura Umachandran, Princeton University (

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[A note from the editors: When BMCR assigned this book, we were not made aware that three chapters were written by faculty at the reviewer's home institution. Upon learning this, we asked the reviewer to omit any mention of essays by faculty exercising a supervisory role over her work, and she graciously agreed.]

A major landmark for classical reception studies is approaching. In 2018, it will be twenty-five years since the publication of Charles Martindale's Redeeming the text [1993]. Deep Classics takes up some of the challenges, anxieties and energies produced by Martindale's Grundtext. In its capacity for provocation as much as theoretical self-awareness, the present volume is a major intervention in classical reception studies. It provides an excellent core sample of the state of the art with the confident hallmarks1 of a sub-discipline that is no longer required to make the case for its existence, or perhaps worse, domesticated as "a detachable postscript," (p 16).

This edited volume of fifteen chapters, emerging from a conference at the University of Bristol, November 2014, is candid about situating itself in the context of reception studies as practiced in the United Kingdom, its preference for Greek rather than Roman antiquity and its focus on the reception of antiquity in the last three centuries (p 17). Beyond this, there are various loose thematic constellations across the set of fifteen papers. Three papers cluster around the uncanny, that is, the contributions by Edmund Richardson, Mark Payne and Davide Susanetti. This review identifies two further themes across the volume: the affective and the [homo]erotic. Since this review cannot cover all the contributions to the volume here, it will discuss a chapter from each of these three themes. To put these contributions in context of the volume as a whole, this review starts with a discussion of the conceptual formulation of Deep Classics.

Deep Classics positions the activity of classicists within the concept of "deep time", that is, alongside that of scientists who deal with vast stretches of time. All these investigators of the human and earthly pasts, Butler claims, deal with evidence that collapses these inconceivable temporal distances to produce sometimes "jarring juxtapositions" (p 4). Classics, then, genetically resembles Enlightenment discourses of scientifically approaching the distant past. Butler complicates this scientificity by pointing to the epistemic resistance that antiquity per se Deep Classics aim to recognize rather than solve this resistance when it occurs. In addition to the problems thrown up from the temporal and epistemological abysses separating the inquirer from the past, Butler indicates that the spatial dimensions of the governing metaphor are also implicated in the conceptual apparatus of Deep Classics.

While it explicitly eschews manifesto-making, this volume has programmatic notions about methodology. Butler calls for a hermeneutics of mediatedness, situated between attitudes to antiquity committed either to assimilation or alterity. By focussing on this tertium quid, Butler intentionally circumvents the agon between aestheticism and historicism that animated classical reception studies in its formative stages. Another concern is to attend to the "pose by which the human present turns its attention to the distant human past" (p 14). This notion of "pose" usefully shifts the immediate point of critical scrutiny to the cultural and political situatedness of a person inquiring after and into Greco-Roman antiquity. How these concerns add up to a "re-thinking of classical reception" will perhaps orient the work of reception scholars to come, taking this volume as a provocative starting point.

Butler's contribution to the volume, "Homer's Deep" puts the punchiness of the introduction to work. Butler argues that John Addington Symonds, Victorian man of letters and friend of Oscar Wilde, is the paradigmatic Deep Classicist. (There will be other nominations for this job: for Jansen it is Borges; Nooter makes the case for Pasolini.) Butler sets up the case for Symonds in an exploration of the interpretative history of the Achilles-Patroclus relationship. In the crucible of that history, polarized between prurience and repression, Butler argues that Symonds's complex classicism was formed. Butler insists that Symonds's grasp of the Achilles-Patroclus relationship extended beyond an idealized and deeply repressed Victorian gay reading of the past. Along parallel tracks of homoerotic love and antiquity, Butler traces how Symonds installs a distance between the dynamics of a desire to know and impossibility to articulate. These emerge as Butler's key criteria of the Deep Classicist that Symonds fulfills, in addition to a keen sense of "untimeliness", that is, anachronistic self-awareness. This essay constitutes a setting out of the stall for Deep Classics in action - it is alive to the politics, vicissitudes and subterranean ways of reading the past.

If the messy range of sexuality is arguably bypassed in Butler's essay, Sebastian Matzner's contribution to this volume does justice to the theoretical and hermeneutic productivity of queerness. "Queer Unhistoricism: Scholars, Metalepsis and interventions of the Unruly Past" works out some of the implications of Matzner's suggestion that reception studies is the queer Other to "straight" classics (p 192). Intersectional postcolonial theorists have recently formulated the rambunctious notion of "queer unhistoricism", that is, a privileging of anachronism as a mapping out of the space between both of the binary choices of straight/gay and past as completely similar/other. Matzner takes up an unruly version of a queer unhistoricist perspective together with the figure of metalepsis, understood as "the rhetorical strategy that links A to D but elides the intervening steps of B and C" (182). He brings these to bear on two postmodern novels: Este latente mundo (1999) by Jose Luis de Juan and Boy Caesar (2004) by Jeremy Reed. Since both novels have scholars as protagonists, Matzner reads them as parables that problematize the epistemic limits, gestures and dynamics shaping the totalizing thrust of academic research. The conceptual work that Matzner calls for, in the end, is "the complex shifting web in which proximity and distance, similarity and difference are constantly re-negotiated" (p 192). The main payoff of this, at least for this reviewer, is the possibility of being able to forge untimely community [both political and erotic] across the abyss. A potential concern of Matzner's approach is that it runs the risk of turning philology into something of a straw, if not straight, man. Despite itself, this essay discloses the working assumption that the inquiring queer subject is "cis-gendered white male". One can only imagine the possibilities that Matzner might open up in considering the variety of epistemic queer subjects gazing into the abyss, instead of re-inscribing the privileged subject within contemporary queer politics. Nevertheless, that is a small objection. This essay has the kind of energy that feminist and queer theory brought to Classics in the first instance and deserves to be read and re-read.

Laura Jansen makes an alternative nomination for Deep Classicist par excellence (p 295) in "Borges and the Disclosure of Antiquity". Jansen starts by arguing that Lucretius's Epicurus is an instantiation of total epistemic mastery offering an impossible model for those interested in knowing the ancient past. Instead, Jansen argues that the pursuit of the past is better described as a douleur exquise (p 293), an epistemic exercise wherein pleasure is derived from the chase rather than the catching of the desired object. Jorge Luis Borges, Jansen claims, has best described this [almost] self-defeating affective dynamic of epistemic pursuit. She points to his short story "The Library of Babel" in which Borges carefully parses the mechanisms of joy and dismay in the failure to master knowledge entirely. Jansen finds Borges's approach to the past valuable because "it's all about the entry points and meaning in between and never attempting to recuperate full what we know, and accept, is lost" (p 304).

Jansen's endorsement of doing classics à la Borges requires bold imagination and self-reflexivity on the part of a reader. Where this approach falls short is made clear by the coda to Jansen's essay that, standing as the last contribution in the volume, also functions as a coda to Deep Classics. Jansen discusses a photograph of an aging and blind Borges gazing at the ruins of Selinunte in Sicily, his back completely turned to the viewer (p 307). In reading this photograph as a description of Borges's complicated limits to knowing the ancient past, Jansen aligns the excavation efforts at Selinunte with an epistemology of totality that she traces back to Epicurus. This reviewer would suggest that engaging with the ancient past materially does not necessarily have to re-ground totalizing ways of knowing. Furthermore, a rejection of "digging into the earth" as an approach to the ancient past is at odds with the metaphor of depth that governs this volume, which depends figuratively if not methodologically on 'digging' down. Thus, the use of the photograph alerts us to how the Borgesian approach to classical past flattens antiquity out to the point of being iconic. Borges' flattening out maneuver crucially misses the historicized situation of knower and un/knowable object. Therefore, while Jansen's conclusion works well as a capstone to her own contribution, it is a jarring note to wrap up volume as a whole.

The final contribution I discuss here is Mark Payne's "Relic | Channel | Ghost: Centaurs in Algernon Blackwood's The Centaur". Payne takes up Algernon Blackwood's 1911 The Centaur, a generically unconventional piece of fiction, possibly a "weird tale". It is about a man, O'Malley, who nearly became a centaur and tried to write about this metamorphic near-miss. O'Malley's friend posthumously attempts to write his biography from the garbled notes that he left behind. It is a real joy to read Payne working through how The Centaur's frame and inset narratives warp the relationships between man and the concept of Nature. Payne hangs his three conceptual hooks (relic, channel and ghost) from the idea that by the turn of the 20th century, the cultural confidence in translating Nature from an ontological to a textual reality had crumbled. For Payne, "relic" takes the place of language to ground the nexus of the past, poetry and nature. Payne argues that the relic is a material and uncanny surplus of the past and therefore "interpolates us" into that lost world of the past. Interpolation here is a mechanism that implies alterity: material, historical, discursive. In the capacity to interpolate, Payne insists that the relic runs a "subvenient" path of communication, which formulates his second term "channel". In order to make sense of these channels, Payne argues that the relic therefore cues the historical philologist to re-create a horizon in which the relic can make sense. Thus, Payne draws a parallel between this horizon-making as the basic conceptual labour of both the historical philologist and the historical evolutionist, who deals with animals as imprints of much older, prior creatures.

If Greco-Roman antiquity and Payne's final term "ghost" register a notable absence in this thumbnail sketch, that is because neither is the main quarry for Payne. Indeed Payne frames his analysis as "a more provocative intervention in our understanding of discourse networks and media theory" (p240). That Greco-Roman antiquity is only one of a set of analytic concepts rather than a governing term is not a drawback per se. However, Payne misses a golden opportunity to refine and push the concept of Deep Classics. The vast timespans of ecological life that Payne explores here in the context of the relic could have productively coincided with the geological chronologies on which the Deep Classics program predicates itself.

If the selected essays discussed here tend towards the theoretical, this is where this reviewer sees the greatest overall strength of the Deep Classics enterprise. Deep Classics: Rethinking Classical Reception is essential and stimulating reading for those both in the field of classical reception studies and beyond: it certainly deserves a wide audience.

Table of Contents

On the origin of "deep classics" / Shane Butler
Homer's deep / Shane Butler
The sigh of philhellenism / Joshua Billings
Feeling on the surface: touch and emotion in Fuseli and Homer / Alex Purves
Perceiving (in) depth: landscape, sculpture, ruin / Helen Slaney
Etymological "alterity": depths and heights / Joshua Katz
Shut your eyes and see / Adam Lecznar
The loss of telos: Pasolini, Fugard, and the Oresteia / Sarah Nooter
Kings of the stone age, or how to read an ancient inscription / Stephanie Ann Frampton
Queer unhistoricism: scholars, metalepsis, and interventions of the unruly past / Sebastian Matzner
Affects and contexts: a deep history of erotic anger / Giulia Sissa
Ghostwritten classics / Edmund Richardson
Relic, channel, ghost: centaurs in Algernon Blackwood's The centaur / Mark Payne
Circulation of spectres: ghosts and spells / Davide Susanetti
Cosmopoiesis in the field of the classical / Brooke Holmes
Borges and the disclosure of antiquity / Laura Jansen.


1.   For example, as an index of self-assuredness, Frampton notes that Deep Classics is always capitalized (p 177 note 5).

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Margreet L. Steiner, Ann E. Killebrew (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant c. 8000-332 BCE. Oxford handbooks in archaeology. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xxi, 885. ISBN 9780199212972. $175.00.

Reviewed by Thomas Kiely, British Museum (

Version at BMCR home site

The Roman jurist Cassius Longinus is said to have begun every case put before him with the simple interrogative Cui bono—who benefits? A strange question with which to start an academic book review perhaps, but when confronted by an expensive scholarly behemoth of the kind under scrutiny here, one that claims to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date and—more tellingly—ground-breaking approach to the subject, the question is not merely whether the contents reflect the title but also if the editors and authors have been well served by their publishers to whom they have entrusted their scholarship. At £110 one wonders if the chief beneficiaries are the publishers who continuously exploit the trend for volumes promising to be the comprehensive handbooks, companions and encyclopaedias that scholarship clearly needs, but whose quality, coherence and usefulness varies wildly—despite the best efforts of many of the contributors.

At the outset, it is only fair to say that the editors of this 58-chapter and almost 900-page compendium on the archaeology of the Levant between around 10,000 BC and the conquests of Alexander the Great, deserve to be congratulated on their attempt to present an up-to-date survey for scholars and advanced students. The scale, scope and aims of the book are certainly impressive, especially since even the most assiduous and energetic modern reader could not possibly master the geographical and temporal range presented here. Writing as a Cypriot specialist, it is great to see a very full and coherent inclusion of the island (chapters 18, 24, 32, 38, 43, and 53), while my broader Bronze and earlier Iron Age interests appreciate the accessible overviews of both earlier and later periods. Many regional or chronological specialists will find much useful comparative material in the clusters of essays on the Neolithic (Part IIIA), Chalcolithic (IIIB), Early and Intermediate Bronze Age (IIIC), Middle Bronze Age (IIID), Late Bronze Age (IIIE), Iron Age I (IIIF), Iron Age II (IIIG). The last period alone is represented by a dozen chapters, though with a narrower geographical coverage than the essays in the preceding sections. All but one of these chronologically defined groups of papers are prefaced by useful commentaries on the main themes emerging from the succeeding essays.

Furthermore, the increasing demands for cross-cultural and inter-regional teaching and research are such that volumes of this sort are absolutely necessary to avoid the balkanisation of the subject that has emerged with ever-greater specialisation and modern political frameworks. The latter is an under-current of much of the book, even if somewhat replicated though the organisation of the chronological sections of the book according to more-or-less modern political units (as Sherratt notes in chapter 33). Add to this the practical problems of conducting research in much of the region which—as the multiple tragedies unfolding in Syria and Iraq demonstrate—is once against plagued by crisis. Accessible overviews of this region have never been more needed to remind modern readers of its rich archaeological diversity, how our understanding has been distorted and occluded by successive interest groups, and why we should care about and study it, especially in an era of severe economic stress for academic programmes and public museums.

Yet despite the editors' laudable concern to cut across the traditional boundaries of the subject, it is questionable if they have entirely succeeded in this aim, or indeed convincingly justified why the Levant—as defined in the Introduction (pp. 1–3 and see below)—should continue to be seen as a 'natural' unit of study and especially as a long-term cross-roads between surrounding areas (especially empires). This old cliché still has some truth about it, but only if carefully argued with the help of more fully integrated presentation of long(er)-term trends. While issues of geography and climate are discussed throughout the book by individual authors, these fundamental parameters should have been explored at the outset as part of the definition of the Levant. This is not adequately provided by Suriano's contribution (chapter 1) on historical geography. Most of the historical citations are biblical, with quite limited use of other textual data; while his discussions of landscape development—the actual descriptions of geography landscape, region by region, are supported by a handful of poorly (and sometimes inaccurately) labelled relief maps and neither will help the uninitiated—are minimal and the references lack some quite basic works such as Toby Wilkinson's seminal Archaeological Landscapes of the Near East.1 On a micro-scale, across the volume as a whole there is no attempt to integrate discussions of key sites (or favoured areas) with long habitation histories which feature in successive chapters. A diachronic approach, perhaps with focused boxes for major sites or regions, would surely have helped to illustrate longer-term patterns for both the inexperienced and the specialist alike.

The editors wisely resisted the initial invitation to produce a handbook of biblical archaeology, opting instead for a more holistic framework, though the Iron Age II sections includes some suspiciously recusant biblical geographical entities (Israel, Judah, Ammon, and Moab). Yet it is not at all clear how and why the basic parameters of the actual volume came to be defined. Why, for example, begin with the Neolithic, thus omitting the region's arguably most significant contribution as a genuine bridge in the spread of modern homo sapiens, and leaving the hardly less seismic millennia immediately prior to 10,000 BC—the extended Epipalaeolithic prelude to developments in the Neolithic? The exception is Clark's overview of the relevant period on Cyprus (chapter 13), but this is a necessary prelude to much of her subsequent argument. Other authors in this section handle these issues in passing (notably Goring-Morris and Belfer-Cohen in chapter 11). What is lacking is a focused overview of current thinking on the subject of Neolithic origins (though see Finlayson's editorial in chapter 9).

At the other end of the scale, it seems somewhat perverse to end the book with the Achaemenids as if the region's constant interaction with its imperial neighbours—defined from the beginning as a key theme of the volume (and facilitated via four useful chapters on the role of Egypt, the Hittites, the Assyrians/Babylonians and Persians in shaping Levantine cultures and identities external players: chapters 5 to 8 by Mumford, Klengel, Schneider and Elayi respectively)—somehow ended with the appearance of Alexander the Great. One might ask why the impact of Ptolemaic, Seleucid and Roman/Byzantine interventions would not be of importance here—in all three of these cases, one can argue or at least search for the existence of local cultural and material identities nestling within larger political entities. Conversely, this basic approach is arguably questionable in itself and all too easily translates the metaphor of the 'Levant as bridge' into 'Levant as doorstop', placing too much emphasis on older metanarratives or even on more recent post-colonial concerns with issues of dominance versus resistance as a stifling polarity. Furthermore, the fact that Steiner, in her introduction to the Iron Age II, ponders the limited material influence of the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians in their conquered territories, suggests that the following chapters have not addressed this question sufficiently.

Space may have been an issue, but the decision to include over 160 pages of individual chapter bibliographies, with the abundant repetition that this entails, is highly questionable in a digital age—though admittedly striking a balance between print and digital media remains a challenge. At almost two kilograms, this is not really a book to read on the bus or in bed so it seems misguided to devote almost 20% of the expensive (especially to non-Western scholars) hardcopy to material that could have been published online, leaving the printed version—and the typically over-priced digital downloads—for texts and, more importantly, images. The limited number (and sometimes quality) of the latter is an unconscionable aspect of a volume claiming to be a handbook. While some authors have squeezed an admirable range of material into their choices for graphic support, others seem not to have bothered much (or indeed at all). The maps are also generally inadequate throughout, both in terms of design—the lack of even token attempts at showing the complex topography of the area is hopeless—and content. The latter is often vague, inconsistent and inaccurateFor example, on Fig. 1.2, Larnaca and Kition are different sites, the latter near the mouth of the Tremithos river; the Mesaoria plain (spelt 'Messaria') is represented as a place; random and irrelevant locations are included (e.g. Pano Amiandos and Zygi) while others of importance are omitted (e.g. Enkomi and Palaepaphos). In other areas, Gaza/Tell el-Ajjul moves around even within its limited cartographic box, while Hazor's location is also mutable. Constantly repeated modern national boundaries, which we should be thinking across in this context, are unnecessary and distracting details given the absence of other more useful lines on the map, such as river courses. These are rarely labelled and appear or disappear between successive versions of the same area. Overall, it is somewhat alarming to read the acknowledgements to the graphic artist 'who struggled with the (sometimes very) approximate maps that the contributors provided' (p. 4). A more proactive and integrated approach, and certainly more investment from the publisher, would surely have benefitted this aspect of the volume.

Yet space cannot be the sole reason. The final two essays, on the Babylonian (Zorn, chapter 54) and Achaemenid (Lehmann, chapter 55) periods, abandon the multi-authored and multi-regional approach completely—though here Cyprus is also an exception, as Iacovou surveys the entire later Iron Age in chapter 53—in favour of rather short and inadequate surveys of the periods in question. The section therefore also lacks the editorial overview provided in earlier chronological surveys. While Lehmann rightly observes that political and material developments are not directly related, but also that the material culture of this period has been neglected in favour of textual data, it is odd that the chapter did not address this specific issue, at least with a few focused case studies that would set a good methodological example for future work. The text lacks a single illustration, and for examples of the coins discussed in a sub-section (p. 848) one has to turn to Elayi's excellent historical survey back in chapter 8 or to Iacovou in chapter 55 for similar coverage. This is unfortunate because this is an ideal context in which to place discussions about the origins and dynamics of regional cultural and material identities within broader imperial structures, including the interplay of Achaemenid, Hellenising and diverse local elements across the region in the century before the conquests of Alexander.

So, cui bono? It is unfortunate to conclude that this is not really a handbook in any meaningful sense, that the uneven and at times neglectful treatment of material culture in some sections is disappointing, and that the volume is more of a vast and at times somewhat unprincipled compendium (though of often very good scholarship). This is regrettable because, apart from the qualities of the individual contributions in the diachronic or thematic sections, such as Gzella on peoples and languages (chapter 2) and Sharon on the complexities of chronology (chapter 4), some of the period clusters fit at least together quite nicely, even if the authors do not explicitly cross-reference their neighbours. Likewise, the commentators on the individual sections generally do an excellent job in making overall sense of the theme. Perhaps had the publishers invested more in the basic presentation of the book and given the authors—and perhaps editors—far more scope for better visualizing the masses of data cited, they would have provided a better investment for the punter.

In the Introduction, by way of defining their understanding of the Levant as a cultural unit, the editors set aside what they see as a welter of theoretical positions on cultural interactions employed to explain what they see as the particular qualities of the region, proposing 'Levantinism' in their stead. Does archaeology really need yet another semantically-ambiguous buzz-word, one that—like hybridity, which Levantinism is intended to replace—needs to be redeemed from earlier unsound applications to become useful? The inevitable comparison is with the long-running debate on the integrity of the Mediterranean and 'Mediterraneanism'. Harris questioned whether such over-arching terms were, inter alia, a 'romantic delusion', 'Eurocentric cultural imperialism', or simply a 'recipe for boredom'. If, he added, Mediterraneanism is 'something of a danger (and in effect a cousin of Orientalism)', might we apply precisely the same charge to 'Levantinism' as proposed here? In any case, the editors' manifesto is actually presented very fleetingly and not subjected to extended discussion, which could have been a fascinating contribution in itself. The concept—which is missing from the index—was evidently not taken up by the individual authors and it seems that in the end, like Jonah's shipmates during the storm, each prayed to their own God.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Ann E. Killebrew and Margreet L. Steiner
Section 1: Archaeology of the Levant: Background and definitions
1. Historical geography of the ancient Levant, Matthew J. Suriano
2. Peoples and languages of the Levant during the Bronze and Iron Ages, Holger Gzella
3. History of research, Thomas Davis
4. Levantine chronology, Ilan Sharon
Section 2: The Levant as the crossroads between empires: Egypt, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Persia
5. Egypt and the Levant, Gregory D. Mumford
6. Anatolia (Hittites) and the Levant, Horst Klengel
7. Mesopotamia (Assyrians and Babylonians) and the Levant, Tammi J. Schneider
8. Achaemenid Persia and the Levant, Josette Elayi
Section 3: The archaeological record
Subsection 1: The Neolithic period
9. Introduction to the Levant during the Neolithic Period, Bill Finlayson
10. The northern Levant during the Neolithic period: Damascus and Beyond: Neolithic settlement dynamics in Syria and Lebanon, Peter M. M. G. Akkermans
11. The southern Levant (Cisjordan) during the Neolithic period, A. Nigel Goring-Morris and Anna Belfer-Cohen
12. The southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Neolithic period, Alison Betts
13. Cyprus during the Neolithic period, Joanne Clarke
Subsection 2: The Chalcolithic period
14. Introduction to the Levant during the Chalcolithic Period: Regional Perspectives, Thomas E. Levy
15. The northern Levant during the Chalcolithic period: The Lebanese-Syrian Coast, Gassia Artin
16. The southern Levant (Cisjordan) during the Chalcolithic period, Yorke M. Rowan
17. The southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Chalcolithic period: Jordan (c. 4500-3500 BC), Zeidan A. Kafafi
18. Cyprus during the Chalcolithic period, Edgar J. Peltenburg
Subsection 3: The Early and Internediate Bronze Ages
19. Introduction to the Levant during the Early Bronze Age, Raphael Greenberg
20. The northern Levant (Syria) during the Early Bronze Age, Lisa Cooper
21. The northern Levant (Lebanon) during the Early Bronze Age, Hermann Genz
22. The southern Levant (Cisjordan) during the Early Bronze Age, Pierre de Miroschedji
23. The southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Early Bronze Age, Suzanne Richard
24. Cyprus during the Early Bronze Age, Jennifer M. Webb
25. The northern Levant during the Intermediate Bronze Age: Altered trajectories, Harvey Weiss
26. The southern Levant during the Intermediate Bronze Age, Kay Prag
Subsection 4: The Middle Bronze Age
27. Introduction to the Levant during the Middle Bronze Age, Aaron A. Burke
28. The northern Levant (Syria) during the Middle Bronze Age, Daniele Morandi Bonacossi
29. The northern Levant (Lebanon) during the Middle Bronze Age, Hanan Charaf
30. The southern Levant (Cisjordan) during the Middle Bronze Age, Susan L. Cohen
31. The southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Middle Bronze Age, Stephen J. Bourke
32. Cyprus during the Middle Bronze Age, David Frankel
Subsection 5: The Late Bronze Age
33. Introduction to the Levant during Late Bronze Age, E. Susan Sherratt
34. The northern Levant (Syria) during the Late Bronze Age: Small kingdoms between the supra-regional empires of the international age, Marta Luciani
35. The northern Levant (Lebanon) during the Late Bronze Age, Marlies Heinz and Sabina Kulemann-Ossen
36. The southern Levant (Cisjordan) during the Late Bronze Age, Nava Panitz-Cohen
37. The southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Late Bronze Age, Peter M. Fischer
38. Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age, Louise Steel
Subsection 6: The Iron Age I period
39. Introduction to the Levant during the Transitional Late Bronze Age/Iron Age I and Iron Age I periods, Ann E. Killebrew
40. The northern Levant during the Iron Age I period, Helene Sader
41. The southern Levant (Cisjordan) during the Iron Age I period, Ayelet Gilboa
42. The southern Levant (Transjordan) during the Iron Age I period, Larry G. Herr
43. Cyprus during the Iron Age I period (Late Cypriot IIC IIIA): Settlement Pattern crisis (LC IIC IIIA) to the restructuring (LC IIIB) of its settlement pattern, Maria Iacovou
Subsection 7: The Iron Age II period
44. Introduction to the Levant during the Iron Age II period, Margreet L. Steiner
45. The Aramean states during the Iron Age II-III periods, Stefania Mazzoni
46. Phoenicia during the Iron Age II period, Maria Eugenia Aubet
47. Philistia during the Iron Age II period, David Ben-Shlomo
48. Israel during the Iron Age II period, Ann E. Killebrew
49. Judah during the Iron Age II period, James W. Hardin
50. Ammon during the Iron Age II period, Randall W. Younker
51. Moab during the Iron Age II period, Margreet L. Steiner
52. Edom during the Iron Age II period, Piotr Bienkowski
53. Cyprus during the Iron Age through the Persian period: From the eleventh century BC to the abolition of the city-kingdoms (c. 300 BC), Maria Iacovou
54. The Levant during the Babylonian period, Jeffrey R. Zorn
55. The Levant during the Persian period, Gunnar Lehmann


1.   T. Wilkinson, Archaeological landscapes of the Near East; see also his opening essay in D. Potts (ed.), A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Oxford, 2012, pp. 3–26.
2.   W.V. Harris, 'The Mediterranean and ancient history' in (ed.) W.V. Harris, Rethinking the Mediterranean, Oxford, 1999.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Werner Riess, Garrett G. Fagan (ed.), The Topography of Violence in the Greco-Roman World. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. Pp. vi, 416. ISBN 9780472119820. $85.00.

Reviewed by Conor Whately, University of Winnipeg (

Version at BMCR home site

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

For many of us the ancient world was a violent place, but the varied kinds of violence that characterized that world—in battle, against women, against slaves, and so on—rarely get treated together in single volumes. This book, edited by Werner Riess and Garrett Fagan, does just that, with an emphasis on the setting (topography) of violence, and how this affects its interpretation. The fifteen, sometimes matching, chapters focus on classical Greece and Rome, especially the cities of Athens and Rome. On balance, this book provides a valuable introduction to violence in classical antiquity.

Riess' short introduction opens the volume with a discussion of the spatial turn, and in it he argues that both space and circumstance had an important role in determining whether a particular act was violent, and for whom. This is followed by David Philips' paper on Xenophon, hubris, and shame, which draws on the evidence of Xenophon and Athenian law. Philips argues that in Athenian society the intent of the actor and the impact on the sufferer helped determine whether a violent act, like Xenophon's striking of a man digging a premature grave for an ill soldier (Xen. Anab. 5.8.6-10), was justified: the striker of the blow commits an act of hubris, or he does not.1 Trundle discusses the famed krypteia, and emphasizes its secrecy and relationship to the agoge. Among other things, Trundle traces its history from an initiation rite to a distinct element of Spartan military service, and he rightly dismisses those who attempt to view this Spartan institution sympathetically.

Riess' chapter looks at assassinations and executions in classical Athens, and particularly those involving Athenian citizens. Topography features prominently here, for Riess notes that an assassination only qualified as tyrannicide if it took place in public. His chapter also includes a useful catalogue of Athenian executions and homicides where we know, or at least have a good idea of, the location of the killing. Continuing the emphasis on legal matters, Rosanna Omitowoju examines women in Athenian courts. Omitowoju's paper is the first in the collection to focus specifically on a disenfranchised group, perhaps somewhat surprising in a collection on violence. One particularly striking example she draws upon is the case of Neaira, allegedly the lover and foreigner who had been living with Stephanos, an Athenian, as his wife. It illustrates well the problems with the source material, here a lawcourt speech, and with Athenian law, such as we have it, at least when it comes to the rights of women.

Peter Hunt's chapter deals with slaves in classical Greece and examines two points: violence as a means of social control, and violence as reflecting wider thinking and values. Hunt notes, unsurprisingly, the difficulty in measuring violence against slaves, and he covers the myriad ways that slaves in Classical Greece might experience violence. In her entry on the Spartan hoplite, Ellen Millender highlights the battlefield's place as the setting for violence in the Greek world, and she makes a strong case that this was the place where the Spartans best revealed their character. Among other things, Millender notes that Spartans were socialized in all aspects of war, education included, a defining feature of their polis. Yet, although the performance of Spartan hoplites on the battlefield reinforced fundamental socio-political structures, the Spartan mirage that the battlefield fostered also obscured significant challenges at home and abroad. Oswyn Murray's short essay finishes the Greek section with the symposion. His paper looks at violence and the symposion through the ages, from Archaic, even Mycenaean, through Hellenistic Greece, stressing the strong links between alcohol, banqueting, and violence in the Greek world.

Josiah Osgood opens the Roman section with assassinations, and the chronological breadth of this first Roman essay matches that of the last Greek one, ranging from the fall of the Gracchi to the murder of Elagabalus. Along the way, Osgood covers some of the most gripping historical events of the late republic and occasionally highlights the significance of the setting of acts of political violence, like the Curia of Pompey, the location of Caesar's assassination. Fagan's first contribution surveys urban violence in the city of Rome, and he concentrates on five locations: the street, the forum, the bath, the circus, and the theatre. Some of the instances of violence that he covers are widespread and not peculiarly Roman, as he readily admits. The crowding at baths, for example, could fray the nerves and lead to violent outbursts. Serena Witzke examines violence against women, with a particular emphasis on non-Roman women.2 She argues that Roman women were treated well, relatively speaking, in the late republican and early imperial eras, which was in stark contrast to the experiences of non-Roman women. Topography is at the forefront, for the violence meted out to Roman citizen women had to be hidden away, in contrast to that against non-citizen women.

Noel Lenski, like Hunt, focuses on slaves. For Lenski (and many others besides), the very system of slavery was bound up in acts of violence and, again like Hunt, he provides a bewildering array of different kinds of abuse slaves might be expected to suffer. This includes all those seemingly paradoxical, but legally sanctioned, instances of the abuse of slaves in legal trials. Graeme Ward's chapter explores the tension between competition and comradery in Roman combat, with the battlefield the locus for this competitiveness and cooperation. He discusses the three contexts in which soldiers could desert their comrades: to retrieve weapons, to seek out the enemy, and to save a fellow soldier's life. David Potter's contribution, something of an outlier, looks at second- and third-century (AD) descriptions of battle. He examines how a handful of historians—Cassius Dio, Herodian, Dexippus, and Tacitus—used similar material, here the tried and true battle description. He takes into consideration their varied source materials (both written and visual) and different objectives, such as audience engagement (war as theatre). Fagan's second paper, on the Roman arena, returns to ground covered in his important book,3 while providing a good introduction to the violence of gladiators. It covers the different types of gladiator, the impossibility of clarity in the case of the famous "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" gesture, and the spectacular sets and devices deployed in gladiatorial shows. Fagan's second chapter is the only one to contain illustrations, and they enrich the discussion. John Donahue closes the book with an evaluation of violence in the Roman cena, noting that violence itself was the antithesis of the dining experience. Donahue notes that, here as so often, we lack useful data, and in this case that means resorting to sources like works of fiction, here Petronius' Satyricon.

The book focuses on the centre of the classical Greek and Roman worlds. A little more attention to peripheral times and places would not have gone amiss even if, in the case of late antiquity for example, violence has been the subject of some significant treatments recently.4 Clarity is essential in a volume that covers so much ground, and some points fall short. 5 This book would have benefitted from a conclusion or a discussion chapter highlighting underlying themes. For instance, the law features prominently in the majority of the Greek-themed chapters, but generally less so in the Roman ones. To be sure, some of this is due to the abundance of surviving Greek oratory and the evidence of Demosthenes. On the other hand, Cicero alone has furnished us with more than enough speeches that deal with Roman republican legal matters, to say nothing of the Corpus Iuris Civlis. A closing chapter might have fleshed out these peculiarities. Following from that, there is quite a lot of overlap in the chapters, and some additional cross-references would have served the reader, and the individual authors, well. Not least, topography could have featured more prominently in some of the chapters, as the introduction and title suggest it would.

Still, it is no mean feat to have so many strong chapters on violence in one volume, and which cover such a broad range of the human experience in Classical Greece and Rome. This book would work best as an introduction to violence in the Classical world, thanks in part to the relative symmetry in the presentations, as well as the abundance of familiar ground in the contributions. In this it would seem to have met its aims: to benefit undergraduate and graduate students, as the dustcover claims. Those offering a course on violence in the ancient world would do well to include this as part of their required reading.

The book is well produced and virtually free of typos, with only a couple of small errors.6 In short, even if "topography" does not feature as prominently as it could have, this book should be the standard introduction to violence in classical antiquity.

Authors and titles

Werner Riess, Introduction
David D. Philips, Xenophon and the Muleteer: Hubris, Retaliation, and the Purposes of Shame
Matthew Trundle, The Spartan Krypteia
Werner Riess, Where to Kill in Classical Athens: Assassinations, Executions, and the Athenian Public Space
Rosanna Omitowoju, The Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Violence Against Women in the Athenian Courts
Peter Hunt, Violence against Slaves in Classical Greece
Ellen Millender, The Greek Battlefield: Classical Sparta and the Spectacle of Hoplite Warfare
Oswyn Murray, Violence at the Symposion
Josiah Osgood, The Topography of Roman Assassination, 133 BCE-222 CE
Garrett G. Fagan, Urban Violence: Street, Forum, Bath, Circus, and Theater
Serena S. Witzke, Violence against Women in Ancient Rome: Ideology versus Reality
Noel Lenski, Violence and the Roman Slave
Graeme Ward, The Roman Battlefield: Individual Exploits in Warfare of the Roman Republic
David Potter, War as Theater, from Tacitus to Dexippus
Garrett G. Fagan, Manipulating Space at the Roman Arena
John Donahue, Party Hard: Violence in the Context of Roman Cenae


1.   This chapter ends with a remarkable tale of seducers (moichoi) punished with radishes, where "radish" is used as a verb.
2.   A disclaimer: this reviewer knows Witzke from his graduate student days at McMaster, but had not been aware of her contribution until he received the book.
3.   See BMCR 2013.12.42 on G. Fagan's, The Lure of the Arena, (Cambridge, 2011).
4.   See M. Gaddis', There Is No Crime For Those Who Have Christ, (Berkeley, 2005); BMCR 2007.09.23 on H. Drake's Violence in Late Antiquity, (Burlington, VT, 2006); BMCR 2010.08.36 on T. Sizgorich's, Violence and Belief in Late Antiquity, (Philadelphia, 2009); and BMCR 2012.08.30 on B. Shaw's, Sacred Violence, (Cambridge, 2011).
5.   Omitowoju's distinction (pp. 113-114) between "real" (in quotation marks) and real (not in quotation marks) is one such case.
6.   Tiberius is too early to be considered an emperor from the high empire (p. 291), while Davidson's paper on Polybius' gaze was published in 1991, not 1981 (p. 326, n. 1).

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Karl Galinsky, Kenneth Lapatin (ed.), Cultural Memories in the Roman Empire. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016. Pp. xi, 296. ISBN 9781606064627. $85.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Matthew P. Loar, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (

Version at BMCR home site


This handsomely produced collection is one of a trilogy of edited volumes to emerge from Karl Galinsky's project, Memoria Romana.1 What distinguishes this book from the other two volumes is its heavy focus on the Roman Empire, where the term "Empire" is just as much (if not more) a geographical as a chronological designation. In turning its gaze [mostly] away from the city of Rome, the volume [mostly] details the manufacture of heterogenous, imperially inflected local memories and memory practices in the Empire. One main premise of the volume is that local memories were "never harnessed or superseded by a pan-imperial memory community" (1), though they did bear the signs of having accommodated themselves to something approaching such a community. Indeed, a recurrent theme among the chapters is, as Carlos Noreña puts it, the "intricacy of local memory within the broader imperial memoryscape" (93). One of the volume's core questions, therefore, is how the many diverse communities swallowed up in the Roman Empire absorbed and adapted Roman cultural memory without completely ceding control over their own local memories or memory practices. In other words, how was Roman cultural memory received, revised, or elided by local and Roman communities in and during the Roman Empire, and what can this tell us about the different memory practices utilized by those communities?

The volume opens with a programmatic introduction by Karl Galinsky that includes, in addition to the expected theoretical and historical contextualizations, a brief analysis of Strabo's and Pausanias' respective uses of memory in their geographical writings.

Part One, "Concepts and Approaches," contains three chapters with no clear thematic connection. The first, by Susan Alcock, cites three case studies (all of which Alcock has discussed at greater length elsewhere) aimed at illustrating the kaleidoscopic nature of memory, while also underscoring the importance of considering the "physical settings of remembrance" (25): the insertion of a shrine for imperial cult inside a tholos tomb at Orchomenos, memories of the Mithridatic massacre of Roman citizens at Ephesos, and contests of paideia in the triclinia of cities located in the eastern cities of the Roman Empire.

Following Alcock, Rachel Kousser tracks how Greek models influenced Roman public and private commemorative practices from the late Republic until the late Empire. In its chronological span and the variety of its evidence, the essay feels at times a bit overly ambitious, and a number of its points about Roman art's invocation of Greek styles are reminiscent of Tonio Hölscher's claims in Römische Bildsprache als semantisches System (1987, trans. 2004). The chapter's most compelling intervention comes in its analysis of how the Romans adopted and improved upon Greek-style memory sanctions in their deployment of damnatio memoriae.

Lastly, Tim Whitmarsh contrasts the ways that two travel writers of the second century CE, Pausanias and the periegete Dionysius of Alexandria, use cultural memory in their writings. For Pausanias, the spaces of the Greek mainland are deeply striated with memory—which Pausanias himself curates in the ways that he describes various monuments—while Dionysius presents a world marked rather by oblivion, or at least the absence of memory. The two authors, then, present two ways of understanding and incorporating the impact of Roman dominion on Greek memory cultures.

Part Two, "Imperial Memories and Local Identities," consists of four chapters that examine the strategies deployed by local communities in their confrontations with Roman cultural memory. John Weisweiler contrasts representations of the senatorial elite in honorific statues at Rome and abroad in the Principate and late antiquity, arguing that such a comparison can offer insights into imperial memory policies (presuming the existence of such top-down policies). Weisweiler connects this commemorative practice to the Roman interest in exemplarity, proposing that the divergent representations of the senatorial elite at Rome and abroad can reveal to us not only the sorts of individual virtues the Roman state wished to cultivate among its subjects, but also the vision of government and imperial rule it wanted to propagate at different points in its history.

Carlos Noreña comes at the question of how memory practices legitimized Roman rule abroad from a different perspective, laying out the evidence (from an admittedly small data set) for the persistence of Hellenistic ruler cult in the Roman east. Noreña proposes that the ability of ruler cults to activate memories of communities' local histories is ultimately a positive for the Roman Empire, as the celebration of local identities militated against the emergence of a broader, unified non-Roman identity that could challenge Roman hegemony. Not only that, but the existence of these ruler cults, and the precedent they set for monarchic worship, was perfectly congenial to the installation (and worship) of the Roman emperor as a new monarch.

Jaś Elsner shifts from the importance of remembering to the importance of forgetting, turning to Philostratus' Imagines and a passage describing the foundation of a mystery cult of Melicertes- Palaemon at the Isthmus near Corinth (2.16). Ultimately, Elsner argues that Philostratus' attempt to link the cult to the mythic period of early Corinth (and the figure of Sisyphus) is at odds with historical reality: surviving evidence suggests that Rome, which had conquered Corinth in 146 BCE, actually inaugurated the cult.

Ann Marie Yasin concludes by examining how late antique renovations and restorations of three early Christian churches—S. Paolo fuori le mura in Rome, the cathedral of Poreč, and the extramural shrine of Saint Felix at Cimitile outside Nola in Campania—shaped memories of those spaces. Yasin focuses specifically on how the materiality of the churches enshrines or abolishes continuity between the buildings' past and present states. Central to her analysis are instances of "conspicuous antiquity": fragments from the buildings' early stages that have been repurposed and oftentimes repositioned to convey new meaning. Part Three, "Presence and Absence of Memory in the Roman East and West," takes us geographically farther afield, touching on cultural memory and memory practices in Asia Minor, Roman Britain, and Spain. Brian Rose surveys the "Homeric reconfiguration of Ilion's built and natural environment" (134) from the Bronze Age until the late twentieth century. In particular, Rose is interested in how each successive reconfiguration invoked the city's Homeric past as a way of enhancing its present status. To this end, he highlights the different ways that Rome, Roman authors, and Roman emperors incorporated and capitalized on the cachet of Ilion's Homeric resonances over time.

Zena Kamash looks to Roman Britain in a chapter that tries to recuperate the importance of individual memory in archaeology through three very different case studies. Her first focuses on two objects and their imagined owners from Marcham/Frilford (Oxfordshire): "Ms. Cattle Figurine" and "Mr. Adlocutio Brooch." Kamash argues, based on speculative, hypothetical narratives that she has constructed for the objects, that they reflect two possible models for individuals striving to preserve their local memories while also assimilating to a new culture. The second case study considers sensual memory practices, particularly within Mithraism, and how these could have linked individuals and created a shared sense of community. The chapter concludes with a discussion of iconoclasm and the destruction of pagan objects by Christians.

Alicia Jiménez's chapter visits the Roman west, examining a group of first- and second-century CE humanoid cippi found in necropoleis from Baelo Claudia in southern Iberia. Jiménez shows how the appearance and use of these cippi reflect the confluence of vernacular, Punic, and non-Roman Italic traditions. In other words, the cippi provide a valuable case study for the development of cultural memory in the Roman Empire that is not mediated through or colored by Rome, but rather emerges from the influence of other cultural networks engendered by Roman colonialism.

Felipe Rojas offers something completely different, investigating the cultural importance of the Lydian lakes to local Anatolian communities. Working backward from the Roman period to the time of the early Hittites, Rojas analyzes how local mythologies often elided the significance of the largest of the lakes, the Gygaean lake, and even ignored the major city of Sardis and its historical kings in an effort to trumpet local traditions and founders.

The final section, "The Transformation of Memory at Rome," is the star of the volume. Greg Woolf starts by drawing us into the ideologically rich Forum Augustum and its Temple of Mars Ultor. In particular, Woolf examines the summi viri gallery encircling the Forum, querying for whom the various elogia may have been legible and whether/how the educated elite could have understood the messages embedded in them. Woolf approaches the question by thinking of the Forum Augustum as a sanctuary, turning to comparative evidence from Paleolithic caves (Chauvet, Lascaux, and Altamira) as a way of interrogating what he means by a "sanctuary" (a habitual site of ritual performance, a place of symbolic accumulation). Reconceptualizing the Forum Augustum as a sanctuary enables Woolf to ultimately change the question we ask of social memory: instead of focusing so much on what is learned, Woolf instead encourages us to ask how it is learned, suggesting that the "shared memory of how we learned" (206) is itself an important social memory.

Steven Rutledge comes at the question of class and memory. This is a valuable topic for the present volume since most other contributions have focused largely on memory practices and policies related to the elite. The effect of this elite focus is a rather top-down vision of memory production and curation that excludes resistance or challenges by the lower classes. Rutledge, by contrast, detects the presence of such competing memories in Rome's topography and monuments. For examples of these, Rutledge notes first the competing spoils deposited in Aventine temples by the novus homo L. Mummius Achaicus and the aristocrat L. Licinius Lucullus. He ends by examining the emperor Tiberius' renovations of the Temple of Concordia, a monument with a rich plebeian history, arguing that such renovations reflected an attempt by the emperor to appropriate and recast a plebeian symbol.

Elizabeth Marlowe concludes the volume with the Tetrarchy and the Vicennalia monument added to the Rostra in the Forum Romanum, proposing that the new Tetrarchic monument did not fundamentally alter the memories already attached to the monumental space of the Rostra. Marlowe begins by illuminating the ambiguous meanings attached to the Vicennalia monument and the space that it occupies, and she then explicates the value of that ambiguity for diplomacy among the senatorial elite. She ultimately suggests that the Roman aristocracy built the monument for the Tetrarchs, and that the aim of the monument was to celebrate the Tetrarchs in a mode legible to the local customs of Rome (e.g. by grafting the structure onto the Rostra, an important Augustan monument).

As tends to happen with conference volumes, there are a number of missed opportunities for constructive dialogues between the papers. The roles of cult and ritual—particularly the places, objects, and sensory experiences of ritual — dominate a number of contributions (Alcock, Elsner, Noreña, Yasin, Kamash, Jiménez, Woolf). Several essays describe an "accumulative or agglutinative strategy of memory production" (127): the accretion and co-mingling of old and new memories over time (Yasin, Rose, Marlowe). And the place of the emperor in local communities' cultural memory repeatedly appears (Weisweiler, Noreña, Rose, Marlowe).

After reading through these essays, I am inclined to ask, with Alcock, whether it is time "to stop concentrating on [the workings of memory in the ancient world] as an exceptional, isolated topic" (31). Given the success of Galinsky's project to elevate conversations about memory in Roman culture, I believe the answer is "yes." Memoria Romana has patronized and encouraged a great amount of valuable research on cultural memory and memory practices in the ancient Roman world, and the field now seems more primed than ever to move forward with the next sets of questions.


1.   First came Memoria Romana: Memory in Rome and Rome in Memory in 2014 (BMCR 2015.01.48), and the third volume, Memory in Ancient Rome and Early Christianity, was published in 2016 (BMCR 2016.07.31).

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