Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018.09.44

Klaus M. Girardet, Januar 49 v.CHR.: Caesars Militärputsch. Vorgeschichte, Rechtslage, politische Aspekte. Antiquitas I, 69. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 2017. Pp. ix, 367. ISBN 9783774940680. €79,00.

Reviewed by François Porte (francoisporte@free.fr)

Version at BMCR home site

Professeur émérite à l'université de Sarrebrück, spécialiste de Constantin et de son époque, Klaus Martin Girardet est également reconnu pour ses travaux sur la période de transition entre la République et l'Empire. Ses nombreux articles et comptes rendus ont été rassemblés en 2007 dans un recueil qui met en valeur la cohérence de sa réflexion et souligne son intérêt pour une approche juridique des événements et des personnages de cette époque.1 L'œuvre de Girardet est en effet caractérisée par une connaissance détaillée des institutions qui guide son interprétation des dernières décennies de la République romaine et plus particulièrement de la période charnière entre les guerres civiles et le début du Principat. Le présent ouvrage s'appuie en grande partie sur un article paru en 2000 analysant les problèmes juridiques autour de la fin du proconsulat de César.2 Partant du postulat qu'une guerre "bricht nicht aus", Girardet propose de développer une reconstruction détaillée des événements qui ont conduit au "Militärputsch" césarien. S'appuyant sur une connaissance approfondie des sources, mais également de la littérature contemporaine dont il fait grand usage, Girardet présente son projet comme une nouvelle reconstitution systématique des événements et un nouveau regard sur ce coup d'État césarien.

Après un court avant-propos, l'ouvrage est divisé en douze chapitres qui présentent chronologiquement les débats qui agitent les années 52 à 49 autour de la fin du proconsulat de César et l'enchaînement des faits qui vont mener au déclenchement de la guerre civile. Suivent sept chapitres annexes de longueur et d'intérêt variés, puis une chronologie détaillée du mois de janvier 52 au mois de janvier 49 mettant en parallèle les événements et les sources. L'ouvrage se termine par une riche bibliographie, un index et deux cartes en noir et blanc auxquelles manque un titre.

Les deux premiers chapitres de l'ouvrage peuvent être considérés comme une introduction. Le premier résume les événements qui justifient selon César le déclenchement de la guerre civile: le respect de son privilège accordé en 52 et la défense de sa dignitas face aux menaces de procès et la défense de la libertas du peuple romain contre ses ennemis au sénat. Le deuxième chapitre présente le jugement porté par les savants sur le putsch césarien et la nécessité pour l'auteur d'y apporter des modifications. Il est ainsi communément admis que la République romaine n'était plus viable, ce qui expliquerait, voire justifierait, l'action de César, à la suite notamment de Theodor Mommsen.

Les cinq chapitres suivants traitent des années 52 à 50, soit la "Vorgeschichte" du "Militärputsch" de César, et pourraient ainsi former la première partie de l'ouvrage. Le chapitre 3 est consacré au privilège accordé à César en 52 et Girardet y reprend les idées déjà exposées dans son article paru en 2000, ce qui en réduit beaucoup l'intérêt. Le chapitre 4 est centré sur l'offensive du consul M. Marcellus contre César au début de l'année 51 et reprend à nouveau de nombreux éléments déjà développés dans cette même étude, auxquels s'ajoutent différents tableaux résumant le potentiel militaire grandissant du proconsul en Gaule de 58 à 52. Le chapitre 5 permet à Girardet d'analyser la situation à l'automne 51, en commençant par cette menace militaire qui se met en place en Cisalpine, tandis que le chapitre 6 aborde l'année électorale 50 et l'action du consul C. Marcellus. L'auteur s'appuie toujours au fil de ces pages sur son article décrivant le "Konsulatsplan" de César. Suivant les conclusions déjà affirmées dans ce dernier, Girardet estime que ces événements constituent fondamentalement l'origine du coup d'État, quand César doute de la possibilité d'exercer son privilège. Le chapitre 7 se penche sur les exigences de César à l'été 50 pour l'année 49: se présenter in absentia aux élections de 49 pour le consulat de l'année 48. César envoie une lettre de menace au sénat où il exige notamment que toutes les armées soient licenciées, c'est-à-dire celle de Pompée en même temps que la sienne, puis réclame l'extension de son privilège à l'année 49. Girardet fait ensuite le point sur le potentiel militaire de César à la fin de l'année 50, notamment en Cisalpine où se trouvent désormais trois légions et vingt-deux cohortes. Il décrit enfin l'escalade des menaces, les voyages de César en Cisalpine, les déplacements de ses troupes: toutes ces mesures démontrent clairement sa volonté d'utiliser la force et le coup d'État si ses demandes ne sont pas satisfaites.

Alors que les sept premiers chapitres reprenaient l'essentiel de l'article paru en 2000 de manière plus développée mais sans en modifier les conclusions, la partie suivante présente davantage d'intérêt pour le lecteur. Dans ces quatre chapitres, Girardet nous guide vers le coup d'État avec autant de précision que le permettent les sources et tente de reconstituer l'enchaînement des événements mais aussi de souligner plus assurément la responsabilité de César. Le chapitre 8 résume ainsi la situation à la veille du putsch, où la vie politique semble paralysée car une majorité de sénateurs craignent de donner à César un motif pour marcher sur l'Italie. L'attitude du consul Marcellus, décidé à contrer Curion, a souvent été jugée, notamment par Mommsen, comme responsable du début de la guerre, forçant un César pacifique à agir. Girardet conteste ce point de vue et souligne que le consul assume sa responsabilité en toute conscience dans le sens de ses obligations, à la lumière de la menace militaire qui pèse alors. L'auteur évoque ensuite les autres options encore envisageables en suivant la correspondance de Cicéron, qui se présente en faveur du licenciement de l'armée de César et de l'abandon de sa province en échange de son élection in absentia au consulat en 49 pour 48. Le chapitre 9 aborde les événements du 1er janvier 49, date à laquelle César n'a officiellement plus de province ni d'armée, et véritable point de départ du "Militärputsch" de César selon Girardet. Lors de la séance au sénat, lecture est faite par les tribuns Marc Antoine et Q. Cassius Longinus d'une lettre du proconsul où alternent, selon Girardet, "Zuckerbrot und Peitsche". Il note néanmoins qu'une chance est laissée à César de revenir dans la légalité et même de respecter l'extension de son privilège promise à l'été 50. Mais César a conscience que le temps ne joue pas en sa faveur et est bien décidé à poursuivre son coup d'État et à déclencher la guerre au plus tôt, alors que la situation lui est encore favorable. Girardet considère cependant que le proconsul préfèrerait atteindre ses objectifs sans combattre et s'interroge ensuite sur le casus belli qui conduit au déclenchement des hostilités.

Le chapitre 10 est ainsi consacré au Senatus Consultum Ultimum du 7 janvier 49. Girardet revient sur l'image véhiculée par César d'une résolution prise contre ou à cause des tribuns de la plèbe et la conteste avec pertinence, comme Cicéron le laisse entendre dans ses Philippiques (2.53). Il considère en effet que le SCU n'est pas une réaction du sénat contre les deux tribuns césariens mais une défense de la République: le sénat et le gouvernement renoncent à négocier et à gagner du temps, refusent de capituler et d'accepter l'ultimatum césarien. Si la résolution du sénat est clairement dirigée contre César, comment expliquer alors le départ des tribuns? Girardet remarque que, dans le texte du SCU, les consuls, les préteurs, les proconsuls et les tribuns de la plèbe sont tous mobilisés sans restriction. Il affirme alors que le sénat s'adresse au collège des tribuns dans son ensemble avec l'intention d'obliger les tribuns césariens à se distancier de César au dernier moment. Ces derniers, par leur refus, sont désormais assimilés au parti des ennemis de l'État et donc menacés à ce titre. Ne bénéficiant plus de la protection de leur statut officiel, ils fuient Rome: le SCU vise directement César et ses partisans, dont les deux tribuns de la plèbe, mais ne s'attaque pas à leur statut en tant que tel, contrairement à ce qu'affirme le texte césarien. Le chapitre 11 suit pas à pas le début de l'offensive césarienne sur le territoire italien afin de mieux comprendre l'élaboration du putsch militaire. Pour cela, Girardet effectue différentes observations à partir des sources dont il a préalablement fait l'inventaire. Analysant les distances parcourues par la XIIIe légion pour se trouver le 11 janvier à la frontière de l'ager romanus, il estime qu'elle a dû recevoir l'ordre de marche mi-décembre pour être le 9 janvier avec César à Caesena: par conséquent, le proconsul aurait anticipé le refus du gouvernement devant ses menaces. Girardet observe ensuite que la XIIe légion devait se trouver à Mutina ou Bononia et non à Placentia pour arriver le 4 février à Firmum, avec la VIIIe légion et les vingt-deux cohortes transpadanes qui parviennent à Corfinium le 17 février. D'après l'auteur, ces estimations montrent comment César a préparé son coup d'État en avance, avant la fin légale de son commandement et que les mouvements de troupe ne sont en aucune manière une réaction aux mesures prises début janvier par le sénat. Le chapitre 12 se présente comme une conclusion à l'ouvrage et permet à Girardet de préciser son point de vue sur certaines théories entourant la crise républicaine, s'appuyant à nouveau sur certains de ses travaux passés (sur Cicéron et la dictature césarienne, sur Brutus et les Ides de Mars ou sur Octave et la naissance du Principat).

Certes, l'ouvrage reprend pour l'essentiel des thèmes déjà développés par l'auteur dans ses précédents articles. Il est vrai que sa familiarité avec les événements et les questions juridiques soulevées alors, étudiées depuis déjà plusieurs décennies, lui permettent d'affirmer plus solidement certaines de ses vues, notamment sur le privilège de 52. Mais son travail d'analyse systématique et rigoureux des sources l'autorise également à proposer une interprétation révisée des faits comme sur le Senatus Consultum Ultimum du 7 janvier 49. Surtout, cette connaissance intime des événements et de leurs implications juridiques donne aux conclusions développées par Girardet tout leur intérêt. Ainsi, selon lui, César n'avait pas l'intention de réformer la République mais de détruire le système constitutionnel pour établir une souveraineté intégrale à travers l'exercice répété de la dictature. Girardet prolonge sa réflexion avec l'établissement par Octave d'une nouvelle forme d'autocratie, le Principat. Il considère cependant comme erroné de reconnaître rétrospectivement César comme un pionnier, comme si le fils adoptif avait accompli l'héritage de son père. César, comme Pompée, n'est selon lui qu'un guerrier qui recherche le pouvoir en tant que tel, sans but constructif pour l'État. La res publica libera n'était rien pour lui, juste un mot sans corps ni figure, selon Suétone. Si l'auteur souligne, preuves à l'appui, la responsabilité directe de César dans la fin de la République, il passe cependant peut-être trop rapidement sur celle de Pompée.

Girardet conclut en se demandant si la République était irrémédiablement condamnée. Cette vue, largement partagée par la recherche, a tendance à valoriser les actes de César perçus comme une nécessité historique. L'auteur revient plus particulièrement sur les ouvrages de Martin Jehne3 et de Mischa Meier4 qui ont chacun tenté d'expliquer la fin de la République et dont il avait déjà publié des "Rezensionen". Chez le premier, il identifie la théorie d'un processus autonome, d'une grande tendance au déclin de la République, accéléré par César sans qu'il en soit pour autant à l'origine. Parallèlement, il relève dans le second ouvrage la description d'un processus de transformation vers un régime monarchique déjà entamé avant César et indépendant de son action. Ces deux auteurs contribuent à un courant de pensée qui évacue la responsabilité personnelle des individus tels que César: celui-ci ne pouvait agir autrement et son action destructrice serait ainsi légitimée par un processus préexistant. Girardet condamne à nouveau cette tendance au déterminisme historique et affirme que la République aurait très bien pu survivre malgré la réalité d'une crise grave. Il souligne encore davantage la responsabilité de César, d'une manière qui peut paraître excessive, mais sans complètement évacuer les causes structurelles qui auraient ainsi pu mener à une domination pompéienne et contre lesquelles Cicéron ou Brutus n'ont pas réussi à agir de manière déterminante. Le lecteur familier des précédents travaux de Girardet pourra regretter de trop souvent retrouver des idées et des démonstrations déjà publiées par l'auteur et accessibles dans le recueil paru en 2007. Néanmoins, Girardet livre ici une synthèse dense et détaillée de ses recherches autour du "Militärputsch" de César, propose une nouvelle reconstitution des événements grâce à une connaissance assurée des sources et des questions juridiques, et contribue ainsi de manière solide à une meilleure compréhension de la fin de la République romaine.



Notes:


1.   Klaus M. Girardet, Rom auf dem Weg von der Republik zum Prinzipat. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 2007. Voir l'article de Frédéric Hurlet, "Le passage de la République à l'Empire: questions anciennes, nouvelles réponses", Revue des études anciennes, 110/1, 2008, p. 215-236.
2.   Klaus M. Girardet, "Caesars Konsulatsplan für das Jahr 49: Gründe und Scheitern", Chiron, 30, 2000, p. 679-710.
3.   Martin Jehne, Der große Trend, der kleine Sachzwang und das handelnde Individuum: Caesars Entscheidungen. (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2009).
4.   Mischa Meier, Caesar und das Problem die Monarchie in Rom. (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2014).

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2018.09.43

Matteo Zaccarini, The Lame Hegemony: Cimon of Athens and the Failure of Panhellenism, ca. 478-450 BC. Storia antica, 5. Bologna: Bononia University Press, 2017. Pp. 400. ISBN 9788869232411. €35,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Eyal Meyer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (eyalmeyer2@gmail.com)

Version at BMCR home site

The present monograph, which sprang from the author's doctoral dissertation, constitutes an interesting and well-written study that offers a revised reconstruction of Athenian history spanning from 478 to 450 BC, also known as the Cimonian period. This critical period in Greek history was marked by the emergence of Athenian imperialism and by the political dominance of Cimon son of Miltiades, one of Athens' most accomplished generals.

This is a challenging period for historical research, primarily due to the paucity of contemporary or even near-contemporary sources. In essence, the fifth-century accounts for the first three decades following the aftermath of Xerxes' invasion consist of Thucydides' aguishly terse Pentecontaetia, a few passages in Herodotus, and a handful of variably fragmented Attic inscriptions. These traditions are supplemented by the accounts of fourth-century historians and orators and the detailed accounts of Diodorus and Plutarch, who derived their information from fourth-century historians such as Ephorus and Callisthenes, whose works are now lost.

Consequently, modern scholarship must confront a fundamental question: to what extent can we rely on non-contemporary sources when seeking to reconstruct the early history of the Delian League? Zaccarini justly applies a critical approach when dealing with the later sources, and he successfully demonstrates that the meagerness of fifth-century sources allowed the historians of the fourth century and their successors, both ancient and modern, to reshape and modify fifth-century traditions in the process of appropriating the past into their own historical and cultural context.

Zaccarini begins by providing two preliminary chapters that provide a succinct survey of the literary traditions concerned with Cimon's genealogy, his cultural background, and major traits ascribed to the Athenian general in the ancient sources. The reminder of the monograph is divided into two parts entitled (I) 'Chronology and events' and (II) 'A historical interpretation'.

Part I deals with Athenian military operations occurring between 478 and 450 BC. While still under Spartan leadership, the Greek allies turned their attention to the Hellespont region and Cyprus. Zaccarini argues, rightly in my view, that these attacks, which occurred in the very same campaign season, albeit seemingly aggressive, were in fact defensive in nature since their objective was in all likelihood to hinder another crossing of Persian land forces from Asia to Europe and to prevent the Persian navy from Cyprus as a staging point for future operations in the Aegean.

Only after the Persian threat had been contained, and the Athenians snatched the leadership from the Spartans, were the Greek allies able to storm and retake the last Persian strongholds in the northern Aegean. These operations are divided by Zaccarini into two phases: 'The campaign for the northern Aegean Sea' (470s BC) and 'The Thracian campaign' (mid-460s BC). The capture of Eion (476 BC), the earliest attestation of a military operation commanded by Cimon, prefigured the ongoing Athenian involvement in the northern Aegean theatre in the decades to come. However, as Zaccarini points out, while Aeschines credits the fall of Eion to the collective effort of the citizen-soldiers of the Athenian democracy, Plutarch's account centers on Cimon's role in the operation. The discrepancies between the accounts of Plutarch and Aeschines provide a case-study that demonstrates the impact of the historical context of later tradition on the manner in which these authors commemorated the events of the mid-470s BC.

Furthermore, Zaccarini highlights the centrality of Athenian strategic and commercial interests in the northern Aegean, interests which according to Zaccarini were the main the impetus for the Athenian subjugation of the islands of Scyros and Thasos as well as the Boeotian city of Carystus. One should add that the traditions which brand the peoples of Scyros and Carystus as medizers, whose purpose seems to be to legitimize Athens' war against Greek communities while the war against Persia was far from over, shed light on Athenian conduct in the aftermath of the Persian Wars. We have reports regarding numerous Greek cities and communities that sided with the Persian enemy, but only a handful of them were targeted by the Athenians. Such a policy suggests that the accusation of Medism was a mere pretext that the Athenians exploited to further their position in the Aegean. All in all, Athens' involvement in the northern Aegean allowed the Athenians to establish themselves as the undisputed leaders of the war against the Persian Empire and to safeguard their own interests in the region. Once Attica was secured, the Athenians were able to launch 'The Asian Campaign', in which both Greek and non-Greek cities and communities were attacked by Athens and its allies. Zaccarini seeks to redeem the Athenian war against Naxos by arguing that the Athenians were not exclusively motivated by their desire to protect their hegemony but also by the strategic importance of the island to the war against the Persians, which was located on the route to and from the western coastline of Asia Minor. But the major operation in this phase was Cimon's campaign in Caria and Lycia, which climaxed in the decisive victory over Persian land and sea forces at the Eurymedon River. It is difficult to accept Zaccarini's assertion that "the battle of the Eurymedon commanded a longstanding prominence and celebration in the tradition thanks to it undisputed importance, its sensational outcome, and its distance from the Greek motherland" (p. 140). Athenian presence in the region was ephemeral, while the absence of any attempt to retake Cyprus seems rather odd. The contrast between the succinct account of Thucydides and the wealth of details provided by Plutarch and Diodorus undercuts the notion that the victory at the Eurymedon was as decisive as later traditions claim it to be. Therefore, we cannot rule out the possibility that the memory of this battle, just like many other fifth-century events Zaccarini discusses, was embellished and enhanced over the centuries.

Regardless of the actual historical importance of the Eurymedon campaign, a useful observation made by Zaccarini refers to two opposing perspectives concerned with the manner in which the Greco-Persian war is envisioned in the sources. According to Thucydides' viewpoint, the war against Persia came to an end following the Persian defeats at Plataea and Mycale. But other sources, mainly Diodorus, cast the peace of Callias as the true end of the conflict. These two historiographical frameworks promote two different narratives of the war between Persia and Greece: the one centers on the collective effort of the Greek allies to ward off a Persian invasion, while the other centers on Athens and its leading role in the continuous struggle against the Persian menace.

Next, Zaccarini connects the political downfall of Cimon to the souring relations between Athens and Sparta, which occurred in the context of 'The Peloponnesian Campaign'. The infamous incident at Ithome (464 BC), in which the Spartans dismissed the Athenian contingent sent to assist them in suppressing a helot revolt, constituted the first formal disagreement between Sparta and Athens since Xerxes' retreat. Zaccarini argues, convincingly in my view, that the account of Thucydides is suspect since it depicts the Spartans as unjustly hostile toward the Athenians. Such a portrayal must have been dominant in the context of the Peloponnesian War since it validates Athens' response to the Spartan insult while it enforces Thucydides' claim that the clash between Sparta and Athens was inevitable.

The following phase, entitled 'the one war and the last years of Cimon', centers on Cimon's return from exile and his death. Zaccarini maintains that aggressive Corinthian expansionism was key in the eruption of hostilities between Athens and the Peloponnesians. As for Cimon, Zaccarini notes that Plutarch's account of the battle of Tanagra and Cimon's final days, which may reflect a fourth-century perspective, highlights Cimon's heroic features, which in turn justifies his early recall from exile and debunks the accusation of his pro-Spartan tendencies.

The second part of the monograph is thematic in nature. In it Zaccarini seeks to evaluate the consistency of Athens' grand strategy during Cimon's period of prominence. He argues that, since the safety of Attica was paramount, the Athenians sought to acquire strategic depth by subjugating locations of military and economic importance in the Aegean. Such an interpretation does well to connect the Athenian operations in the northern Aegean, Asia Minor, and mainland Greece, but fails to explain the Athenian intervention in Egypt in the 460s. Operations in Asia Minor, Cyprus, and even Phoenicia can be viewed as efforts to keep the Persians at bay, as Zaccarini deems Athenian operations in the eastern Mediterranean to have been preemptive wars conducted on an irregular basis. However, the considerable investment of resources and manpower in the expedition to Egypt serves as an indication that the Athenians aspired to something more. Several scholars have argued that economic and commercial considerations drove the Athenians to assist the Egyptian rebels against the Persians,1 which corresponds with Zaccarini's interpretation of Athens' involvement in the northern Aegean. Regardless, although we cannot determine with certainty the nature and character of the Persian policy in the west, there is no substantial evidence for a Persian intention to reassert the Great King's authority in the Aegean. We may assume that economic considerations were cardinal in Athens' strategy, but we should not forget that the official goal of the Delian League was to wage war against the Persians. Persian passivity posed a real and immediate threat to the legitimacy of the Delian League, and by extension to Athens's lofty position within this political framework. Therefore, furthering the war against Persia, regardless of actual Persian intent or action, must have been a crucial component in Athenian strategy and foreign policy.

In the next section, 'The New tyrants', Zaccarini underscores the limitations of the bipolar division between pro-democratic and pro- oligarchic factions in Athenian politics. He demonstrates that such a partition did not exist in the fifth century BC, and suggests that Athenian politicians should be assessed by the manner in which they used wealth, either public or private, to garner political support. It is followed by a section entitled 'Contemporary Intellectuals', which constitutes an essentially negative exercise aimed at refuting the hypothesis that Cimon's policies and public image benefited from the support of several prominent intellectuals. Zaccarini maintains that, while a close relationship between Cimon and these intellectuals remains plausible, the assumption that they were active participants in his effort to maintain his political prominence is an overstatement. Lastly, Zaccarini argues against the notion that Cimon was the driving force behind various contemporary public works in Athens, which is followed by a summary of the themes pertaining to Cimon's literary portrait and how it developed throughout the centuries.

To summarize, this monograph is an excellent addition to the study of the history of Cimonian Athens. Zaccarini's study is very thorough and coherent, and provides ample documentation of the ancient sources and the modern treatments. Although the Athenian campaigns in the eastern Mediterranean may receive less attention, this study supplements and completes Biondi's recent monograph on the Athenian Empire.2 To some extent, this study constitutes a biography of Cimon, a most welcome contribution since, as far as I know, the only modern biography of Cimon was published by Lombardo in 1934.3 However, since this book also seeks to reassess Athenian policies between 478 and 450, when Cimon's role in certain episodes is not well documented, the tendency to follow his career disrupts the flow of the discussion. Nevertheless, despite the scarcity of evidence, which adds a tinge of speculation to any debate regarding the first decades of the Delian League, Zaccarini's contribution provides a valuable reconstruction of Athenian policies and strategy in this pivotal period in Greek history.



Notes:


1.   Cf. R. Meiggs. The Athenian Empire (Oxford 1972), 95; M. Dandamaev. A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire (Leiden 1989), 239; S. Ruzicka. Trouble in the West: Egypt and the Persian Empire, 525-332 BC (Oxford 2012), 34.
2.   E. Biondi. La politica imperialistica ateniese a metà del V secolo a.C.: il contesto egizio-cipriota (Milano 2016).
3.   G. Lombardo. Cimone: ricostruzione della biografia e discussioni storiografiche (Rome 1934).

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2018.09.42

James J. O'Hara, Vergil, Aeneid Book 8. Focus Vergil Aeneid Commentary. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2018. Pp. ix, 195. ISBN 9781585108800. $17.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Matthew P. Loar, University of Nebraska – Lincoln (mloar2@unl.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Two generations ago, a triumvirate of anglophone commentaries dedicated to Book 8 of the Aeneid appeared in just two short years.1 Mirabile dictu, almost exactly 40 years later another triumvirate of anglophone commentaries has flooded the market: Keith Maclennan's Virgil: Aeneid Book VIII (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), Lee M. Fratantuono and R. Alden Smith's Virgil, Aeneid 8 (Leiden: Brill, 2018), and James J. O'Hara's Vergil. Aeneid Book 8 (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2018), the last of which is the subject of this review. All three new commentaries are pitched at slightly different audiences, and thus all three should rightfully occupy their own places inside and outside the classroom. Although it is not the remit of this review to address all three commentaries, I will make some occasional comments on the ways O'Hara's differentiates itself from the others, which I hope will be instructive and useful especially for instructors pondering which, if any, to adopt for their own courses.

O'Hara's commentary is the seventh to be published in the new series of Focus Vergil Aeneid Commentaries, having jumped the line and appeared before Randall Ganiban's commentary on Book 7.2 To the great delight of those who regularly teach with the series' commentaries, O'Hara's follows the format of the other six single-book commentaries already published, including (in order): a general introduction to the Aeneid penned by the series co-editor, Randall Ganiban; an introduction to Book 8 written by O'Hara; a pair of relevant maps; the text with running commentary printed below the Latin; two appendices on Vergil's meter and stylistic terms; a relatively extensive up-to-the-minute up-to-date bibliography of relevant scholarship cited throughout the commentary; a short list of abbreviations; more than 40 pages of vocabulary; and finally a subject index.

As O'Hara notes in his Preface, much of this material has been repurposed and/or adapted from other sources. The general introduction is nearly identical to what is found in the other commentaries in the series, though Ganiban has appended relevant references from Book 8 to several footnotes that discuss certain lexical items that feature prominently in the book. Likewise, O'Hara has adapted his appendices from those found in Ganiban's 2008 commentary on Book 2, tailoring his examples to Book 8. The vocabulary section, itself adapted from John Tetlow's The Eighth Book of Virgil's Aeneid (1893), reflects a number of the changes already included in the series' other commentaries, though it also deviates at times from its predecessors. For the sake of some examples, I have selected a few early items included in the vocabularies for both Book 6 (by Patricia A. Johnston) and Book 8:

acies, -ei (f.) – edge, sharp sight, gaze; pl. eyes; line of battle (Book 6); edge; line of battle, line, army (Book 8)
adeo (adv.) – to this or that point or degree; so (Book 6); to that extent, thus far (Book 8)
anima, -ae (adj.) – breath, breath of life, life; spirit, shade, soul (Book 6); breath, air, wind, blast; life (Book 8)

One could argue that such differences, minor though they are, might frustrate the undergraduate user who has attempted to master the vocabulary from one commentary, only to be thrown off by the sudden introduction of additional valences to a given word in another commentary. The counter argument, however, is that tailoring definitions to a given book prevents a reader from being overloaded by superfluous meanings that are irrelevant for the task at hand. For my part, I am in favor of the slight differences between books for precisely this reason.

The text of the Aeneid is that of F. A. Hirtzel (Oxford, 1900), though O'Hara has made four changes: tenent for tenet at line 75, furis for furiis at line 205, oculis for oculi at line 223, and nomine for munere at line 519 (viii). With the exception of furis, none of the changes is particularly controversial; while O'Hara briefly notes the implications of furis for the translation of the poem (205–6 n., p. 48), readers interested in a fuller discussion can turn to Fratantuono and Smith (205 n., p. 327), who themselves opt for furiis in their edition of the text. O'Hara also briefly explains how his selection of oculis over oculi impacts the translation and therefore the sense of line 223, but in his notes attached to the other two lines in which he has deviated from Hirtzel, he offers no discussion of the changes.

As to the meat of the Book 8 commentary, like the others in the series, it uses as its starting point T. E. Page's Vergil: Aeneid 7–12 (1900). Traces of Page are detectable throughout, sometimes through verbatim quotation (though not indicated as such) and sometimes through paraphrase. Where O'Hara is borrowing heavily from Page, he often updates the language to make it seem less arcane to a 21st-century reader. Even more entertainingly, O'Hara sometimes elects to modernize Page's then-modern illustrations of phenomena described in the poem. For example, in the note to line 22 (sicut aquae…), where the sun's rays are imagined striking the water and then being reflected back onto different surfaces, Page has this to say: "Any schoolboy can produce the effect with a small mirror" (p. 205). O'Hara, ever mindful of his target audience (viz. undergraduates, many/all of whom were/will be born in the 21st century), offers this instead: "Today the effect can be produced with the face of a watch or cellphone" (p. 24). Additionally, new references to, among others, the 1989 film Field of Dreams (162 n., p. 41; though the date is incorrectly given as 1998), the Supremes' 1964 hit "Where Did Our Love Go?" (395–6 n., p. 73), and Harry Potter (429 n., p. 77; 632–4 n., p. 102) further illustrate O'Hara's efforts to make his commentary as accessible to the undergraduate user as possible. I especially appreciated O'Hara's warning about extrapolating lessons on the fixity of fate from Vulcan's response to Venus when she requests his assistance: "what an oft-cuckolded god says to his wife, the goddess of sex, when she caresses his arms is not a good source of philosophical doctrine about the nature of fate" (396–9 n., p. 74). Wise words.

Undergraduate readers should be cheered by O'Hara's not infrequent acknowledgements of how challenging the Latin can be in places. In fact, in the note to lines 236–9 (p. 51), for example, O'Hara's first words are, "difficult Latin," but he then proceeds to offer an annotated translation of the lines to help the reader understand how the Latin works (cf. 563–6 n., p. 92). Page, by contrast, had merely supplied translations for the lines in question, without attempting to explain (or acknowledge) the complex syntax. In reading and using O'Hara's commentary, then, one gets the sense that O'Hara is down in the trenches struggling right along with you—and having a good time in the process.

O'Hara's method throughout is variable, which suits a commentary "for use at the intermediate level of Latin or higher, though it may have something to offer to anyone working on the book" (vii). Where grammatical aid is necessary, O'Hara typically foregrounds it in his comments, allowing the translation-oriented user to move on to the next passage without getting bogged down with additional information. Indeed, in those passages laden with particular historical or political meaning, O'Hara heaps up the in-text citations (e.g., 626–728 n., pp. 98–101), which more advanced users of the commentary—be they graduate students or scholars—should find useful. Lastly, when the literary features of the text are being highlighted, O'Hara offers abundant intratextual and intertextual references, but unlike Maclennan and Fratantuono and Smith, O'Hara largely restricts his intertextual sources and literary comparanda to Vergil's predecessors and contemporaries (with the notable exception of the Vergilian commentators). Where Greek authors are cited, the Greek itself is rarely printed—an improvement on Page, at least insofar as it does not assume that today's intermediate or advanced Latin student can translate, much less read ancient Greek. That being said, when Greek does appear it is inconsistently transliterated and/or translated— sometimes transliterated but not translated (49 n., p. 28), sometimes translated but not transliterated (98–100 n., p. 34), and sometimes neither transliterated nor translated (112–14 n., p. 36). Perhaps there is a reason for such seeming inconsistency, but it was not immediately evident to me.

One of the same criticisms/observations that reviewers have aimed at the other commentaries in the series applies to this one as well: the bibliography is almost exclusively anglophone, and where O'Hara has referred to a non- English source, he indicates the language in which it is written. To me, however, this does not seem problematic; predominantly anglophone though it is, O'Hara's bibliography is nonetheless impressively capacious—far more so than Maclennan's sparse selection of texts for "Further Reading"—and readers in search of a more robust (and more polyglot) bibliography can happily turn to the mammoth tome just published by Fratantuono and Smith. Not only that, but it is unlikely that the commentary's primary target audience—fifth-semester Latin students (or at least these were the ones on whom O'Hara claims he tested his in-progress commentary, ix)—will be familiar enough with German, French, etc. to make use of non-anglophone scholarship for research papers or presentations.

Finally, if I were to take issue with one thing in this commentary—and here I reveal my own scholarly predilections—it would be with the placement and inclusion of a Hercules temple in Map 1, "Evander's Rome" (p. 18). Next to the Ara Maxima, O'Hara has indicated a possible location of a (possible) Temple of Hercules Invictus. My quibbles with this are twofold: to the extent we have ancient literary evidence attesting to the existence of such a temple, it seems to be called not a Temple of "Hercules Invictus" but rather a temple of "Hercules Pompeianus." More to the point, when O'Hara directs his reader back to this map in his summary of lines 102–25 (p. 35), he does so by referring to the Ara Maxima and a Temple of Hercules Victor, not Invictus. Will the inconsistency of Invictus/Victor flummox an undergraduate user of this commentary? Probably not, but I point this out nevertheless.

As the editors of this excellent series of commentaries continue to publish the remaining volumes, I would like to encourage them to add a pair of items to their appendices: "s.v." is not currently included among the list of abbreviations, though it appears frequently throughout the commentary, and "prolepsis" strikes me as a rhetorical term worthy of definition in the appendix of stylistic terms.

Ultimately, for accessibility, affordability, and portability, O'Hara's commentary is hard to beat. I fully intend to use it when I next teach Aeneid 8 in my advanced Latin class, and I can heartily recommend that others do too.

Table of Contents

Preface, p. vii
Introduction to Vergil's Aeneid, by R. Ganiban, p. 1
Introduction to Book 8: Its Role in the Aeneid, p. 12
Maps, p. 18
Latin Text and Commentary, p. 21
Appendix A: Vergil's Meter, p. 119
Appendix B: Stylistic Terms, p. 125
Bibliography, p.131
List of Abbreviations, p. 148
Vocabulary, p. 149
Index, p. 191


Notes:


1.   P. T. Eden, A Commentary on Virgil: Aeneid VIII (Leiden: Brill, 1975); K. W. Gransden, Virgil: Aeneid Book VIII (Cambridge University Press, 1976); C. J. Fordyce, P. Vergilii Maronis Aeneidos Libri VII–VIII (Oxford University Press, 1977).
2.   The other commentaries are: Book 1 (Ganiban), BMCR 2011.03.29; Book 2 (Ganiban), BMCR 2009.05.42; Book 3 (Christine Perkell), BMCR 2010.11.23; Book 4 (O'Hara), BMCR 2012.04.08; Book 5 (Joseph Farrell), not [yet] reviewed in BMCR; Book 6 (Patricia A. Johnston), not [yet] reviewed in BMCR.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

2018.09.41

G. E. R. Lloyd, The Ambivalences of Rationality: Ancient and Modern Cross-Cultural Explorations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. ix, 125. ISBN 9781108420044. £34.99.

Reviewed by Michael Leese, University of New Hampshire (Michael.Leese@unh.edu)

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All too rarely in classics do we see a work that directly engages with the fascinating debates over cultural relativism and particularism that dominated the field of anthropology in the twentieth century and have so profoundly enriched and influenced the fields of classics, archaeology, and ancient history. Students of antiquity following in the footsteps of Lévi-Strauss, Geertz, and Sahlins, have attempted to capture and reproduce the mental universe of the Greeks and Romans, to penetrate to the core of what makes our conceptual world similar to and different from those of ancient peoples. But much of this work was left undone or unresolved, and though it has shaped the thought of subsequent generations of scholars, its effects have seldom been addressed explicitly, especially with respect to the problem of rationality.

Who better to confront these issues than Professor G.E.R. Lloyd, whose prolific output has delved into the essence and particularities of ancient Greek thought for over half a century? With this latest contribution, he focuses on rationality, and has packed into just ninety-nine pages of body text a century's worth of scholarly debate alongside original analysis of primary sources to produce a compelling argument that is much-needed in the fields of classics and ancient history.

Through extensive direct comparisons between ancient Greek and Chinese texts of the first millennia BCE and CE, Lloyd argues clearly, elegantly, and persuasively that rationality is not exclusive to the modern West, and that modern scholars' inclination to employ the binary opposition of rationality and irrationality is a gross oversimplification of reality. The rational-irrational dichotomy is itself an inheritance from the ancient Greeks that still shapes the way we think and argue, and modern scholars need to reconsider entirely their attitudes towards the term 'rational,' and be acutely aware of the dangers that come from using it in an absolute sense (to exclude or simplify), rather than as an ambivalent concept (to include or complicate).

Chapter 1, "Aims and Methods," and Chapter 2, "Rationality Reviewed," provide the methodological and theoretical background and justification for the study. Lloyd opens with a clear description of the scholarly tradition he is addressing, with direct or indirect references to the bifurcated anthropological debates between those advocating universalism and the psychic unity of mankind on one side, and relativism and conceptual incommensurability on the other. To what extent is it possible to understand another culture or to make comparisons between seemingly similar notions in different cultures without making the mistake of inaccurately (and misleadingly) assimilating concepts between them, especially when terms are not perfectly commensurable across different languages? To address these issues, Lloyd introduces the notion of 'semantic stretch,' which "allows that any term may exhibit a range of interactive meanings which may all contribute to our understanding of what the term conveys" (3). With this handy tool, Lloyd gives himself some flexibility in identifying the similarities and differences between Greek and Chinese thought.

Before examining the ancient evidence, however, Lloyd devotes the second chapter to the debates over rationality and relativism and traces how they have developed recently in four different fields: paleontology, ethology, developmental psychology, and anthropology. This comprehensive overview of the various theoretical fields that have continued to explore the issues that gripped anthropology during the twentieth century is matched by the range of topics that Lloyd addresses in the subsequent body chapters, whose content covers the variety of issues that ancient Greek philosophers on the one hand and modern scholars on the other have focused on in their respective discussions.

Chapter 3, "Cosmology without Nature," contrasts Greek and Chinese approaches to cosmology, and successfully demonstrates that although Chinese authors do not employ the concept of "nature" in their accounts of the universe, nevertheless comparisons can be made to Greek authors' discussions of physis. This approach yields fruitful results, particularly illustrating that what the Greeks considered to be elements (like water) were more associated with processes rather than substances in ancient Chinese thought (26). Here, however, Lloyd does not employ semantic stretch to the extent that it could penetrate deeper into the comparisons between Greek and Chinese concepts. By focusing mainly on Plato and Aristotle and restricting his comparisons of Chinese texts to the Greek term physis, he limits his ability to make more elemental insights into the concepts that expand beyond this term, particularly in the specific details of the interactions between cosmological processes and substances in Greek thought. Greek cosmological texts that do not focus explicitly on physis could have been employed, and in particular more in-depth, fine-grained comparison with pre-Socratic Greek philosophical works would present a fuller depiction of the precise ways in which Greek and Chinese thought were similar and divergent. Reading the cosmogonic account of the Huainanzi alongside that of Hesiod's Theogony would have been particularly interesting and insightful. Moreover, sources that might more closely approximate the content of the Zhuangzi texts, such as Parmenides, may have shed light on such passages as "No thing is not 'other': no thing is not 'it'. What is 'it' is also 'other', what is 'other' is also 'it'" (31), which Lloyd argues contrast with Greek thought. But such breadth and depth would have required a much longer and more detailed analysis, and the point of the chapter is well-taken and convincing —Chinese cosmology could be completely rational without a developed sense of 'nature,' at least in the sense of being a formalized term that was the focus of dedicated and sustained analysis.

In the fourth chapter, "Seeming and Being," however, the pre-Socratic philosophers do appear, and Parmenides is a welcome addition to Aristotle and Plato, the Milesians, the Hippocratic corpus, the Stoics and Epicureans, Hiero and Ptolemy, and Galen. Here Lloyd deftly unpacks the nuances of the Greek intellectual tradition as it developed over time, beginning with Homer and Hesiod, with respect to distinguishing the superficial appearances of things from their underlying reality. Moreover, while simultaneously demonstrating that Chinese thinkers (as seen in such texts as Lüshi chunqiu) did appreciate the potentially deceptive nature of appearances like the Greeks, Lloyd also makes some interesting insights into the differences, such as the lack of an "ancient Chinese parallel to the—Platonic—view that the reality that mathematics accesses has an altogether different ontological status from the perceptible phenomena that it explains" (51), and that the Chinese "were less prone than some Greeks to try to insist that the most that could be attained in certain contexts was mere opinion" (55). This chapter is framed by a discussion of an important methodological point, which is extremely well-articulated and should be noted by all scholars of antiquity: binary oppositions are often more the product of rhetorical strategies for winning arguments by scholars or philosophers than they are reflective of the complexities of reality, and such dichotomies as "rational vs. irrational" are frequently employed in a polemical sense within the context of debate and for the purpose of declaring victory in a dispute (39, 56).

Chapter 5, "Language, Literacy, and Cognition," begins with the Sapir-Whorf thesis and rightly criticizes scholars who once labeled certain (non-western) cultures' thought as irrational on the basis of their language structure: "it would be a mistake to conclude from the fact that there are differences in the syntactic structures available that these languages are mutually unintelligible or that they reflect different degrees of 'rationality'—whatever that might mean in context" (60). Lloyd then makes some important observations on the ways in which ancient Greek literary traditions and the process of canonization reveal problems with Jack Goody's theories in The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Here Lloyd brings a fresh perspective to Goody's arguments about literacy and its effects on cognitive performance and shows how ancient Greek evidence can make contributions to modern theories that were developed on the basis of ethnographic research (67).

The sixth chapter has the most exciting title, "Gods, Spirits, Demons, Ghosts, Mysticism, Miracles, Magic, Myth," and deals with the material that modern science and scholars have most commonly labeled as 'irrational.' Here Lloyd begins by focusing on the ways in which Greek and Chinese intellectuals broke from their cultural norms and rationalized the existence of the gods as having their origins in real people or creations of the elite to justify the social and political status quo. In both societies, however, such challenges did not affect the overall religious practices of the people at large, which brings the discussion to modern theoretical debates on how and whether belief in the supernatural can be explained as rational. But as he notes, it is a particular brand of ethnocentrism to call belief in the divine 'irrational' because the limitations to the explanatory power of natural science provide an enormous amount of space for belief in supernatural causality (86); science today still cannot explain everything, and in the long course of its development throughout history, it is easy to see how mystical and spiritual explanations would have more persuasive power to someone seeking a cause for observable phenomena. Lloyd effectively breaks down the rational-irrational dichotomy and argues that it is only from the narrow standards of modern science that myth and magic are depicted as irrational, and such practices perform other functions in their societies than explanatory precision or measurable efficacy.

Classicists will benefit from Lloyd's refreshing reassessment of the ways in which the terms rationality and irrationality are "deployed polemically, serving as a prime weapon to defeat opponents, whose ideas and practices, once labeled 'irrational', can be disqualified from serious consideration" (94). Here Lloyd draws attention to the performative contexts of both ancient philosophical texts and modern scholarship, and thereby offers a compelling methodological lesson – when these terms are employed as a dichotomy and therefore act as a rhetorical device, a stylistic means of argumentation, their explanatory value becomes undermined since they are not being used as heuristic tools for analysis. Moreover, the individual subjectivity of ancient authors can become confused with the Weltanschauung of an entire people, as modern scholars often conflate an individual's thought with that of their broader culture to serve their own rhetorical ends, and label that entire culture's conceptual world 'irrational,' when in reality that world is far broader and more complex than the single example cited to back up a persuasive agenda. Sometimes ancient intellectuals were being intentionally provocative, breaking from their prevailing cultural norms for the express purpose of encouraging members of their audience to become their students (71). Lloyd is right that when scholars privilege their own arguments within the context of a discourse of modern superiority, such a victory is gained at the expense of a true understanding of the complexities of ancient peoples and their intelligence, their achievements.

Scholars must therefore be alert to the ways in which using the terms 'rational' and 'irrational' can distort our understanding of the ancients. Because "the diagnosis of irrationality is often just a particularly emotive way of expressing disagreement or disapproval" (19), scholars would be better off avoiding such judgments altogether, and should consider the potential consequences of employing the terms 'rational' and 'irrational.' Such self-aware "vigilance involves … harder work than a quick verdict of irrationality," which often stems from the "implicit assumption that our own views, by contrast to those we criticise, manifest no shred of the irrational" (95).

In short, Professor Lloyd has done the field a great service with this book in drawing attention to the fact that Great Divide and Grand Transformation theories of modernization posit a strong cognitive gap between modern and premodern societies, reinforce feelings of modern western superiority, and make irrational savages of ancient peoples while simultaneously extolling ourselves. Emphasizing rather the similarities between Greek thought and our own modern analytical and argumentative techniques, Lloyd shows how classicists are uniquely positioned to challenge metanarratives about the rise of the West, and that pinpointing the cultural particularism of Greek thought in comparison to our own (or that of other ancient peoples) is a difficult task that still requires years of deep and careful analysis.

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2018.09.40

Ryan Boehm, City and Empire in the Age of the Successors: Urbanization and Social Response in the Making of the Hellenistic Kingdoms. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018. Pp. xiv, 300. ISBN 9780520296923. $95.00.

Reviewed by Paul J. Kosmin, Harvard University (pjkosmin@fas.harvard.edu)

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The planned, designed, institutional reorganization of urban populations, together with a systematic and rationally-articulated thinking about cities, were, for whatever reason, characteristic of the Greek world since the archaic period. But nothing matches the royal synoikisms of the early Hellenistic period for scale of ambition, coherence of vision, and on-the-ground disruption. In this impressive and considered book, Ryan Boehm investigates such consolidations of existing Greek poleis into new or expanded mega-cities by the warlords, kings, and dynasts of the early Hellenistic period. Boehm, who had already explored some aspects of this phenomenon in a 2015 Classical Antiquity article,1 succeeds in giving both a macro-historical synthesis of early Hellenistic synoikism as a set of strategic, economic, and communal dynamics and a close-to-the-evidence, carefully striated study of social response.

A fleet-footed Introduction (1-25) fixes the geographical and chronological parameters of the study—the Aegean coastlands (mainland Greece, Macedonia, and western Asia Minor) from 323 to 281 BCE, that is, through the Successor Wars to the second generation of Hellenistic rulers. Such a focus makes sense on both pragmatic and substantive grounds: whereas enforced urbanization and the relocation of populations took place all across the extensive landscapes of the Hellenistic kingdoms, with obvious antecedents in the Near Eastern and Greek worlds, Boehm's Aegean region and generational time-span have the advantages of rich, overlapping textual and material evidence, a common urban and political culture, and a fractured imperial landscape, and so offer the opportunities for fair comparison and contrast between the various big players of the region. The Introduction also makes the case for the distinctiveness of this Hellenistic consolidating urbanism vis-à-vis the dispersed, fragmented, and "dioikistic" settlement patterns encouraged or enforced by Achaemenid, Athenian, and Spartan imperialisms.

The book then proceeds in two parts, of two chapters each —"Part One: Urbanization and the Imperial Framework" and "Part Two: Cult, Polis, Empire: The Religious and Social Dimensions of Synoikism"— that explore the mechanics and effects of synoikism for the Hellenistic kings and the incorporated local communities, respectively.

The substantial first chapter, "Imperial Geographies: City, Settlement, and Ideology in the Formation of the Hellenistic Kingdoms" (29-88), offers a clear political narrative of the Successors that situates the major synoikisms in the territorial formation of the new kingdoms. The chronological ordering of the reconstruction elucidates the specific historical conditions for each individual synoikism, as well as the interrelationship of these urbanizing moves in the unsteady and intensely competitive geopolitics of the period. In an effort to reconstruct the scale and impact of these urban policies on the regional landscapes of the north Aegean and western Asia Minor, Boehm overviews the textual and archaeological evidence for a core set of synoikized cities —Kassandreia, Thessalonike, Herakleia Latmos, Lysimacheia, Alexandreia Troas, Ilion, Ephesos, Smyrna, and Demetrias— with which the book will continue to engage.

If the first chapter lays out the fairly clear strategic thinking behind early Hellenistic synoikism —the imposing of a governmental coherence by concentrating resources and populations at few, well-fortified nodes— the second chapter, "Urbanization and Economic Networks" (89-139), seeks to explore the economic consequences of such synoikism on the productive and commercial landscape. As Boehm shows, while the costs for synoikism likely fell on the communities subject to synoikic processes, economic benefits would have been considerable, including a modernized civic infrastructure, the rationalization of debts and legal disputes, reduced transaction costs and fiscal simplification, exemptions from tax or tribute, and, in many cases, new harbor facilities. This economic dimension of synoikism has rarely been studied in a systematic way, and Boehm makes an important contribution here in concretely demonstrating substantial increases in the volume and differentiation of trade associated with these new or expanded centers.

The book's third and fourth chapters, constituting "Part Two: Cult, Polis, Empire: The Religious and Social Dimensions of Synoikism", are closely related. Chapter Three, "Civic Cults between Continuity and Change" (143-183), explores the range of institutional religious reactions to synoikism within the synoikized communities—the absorption of older cults into the new cities, the invention of new, central cults, and the decline, abandonment, and occasional retention of pre-synoikic sanctuaries. The chapter is organized around three regional case-studies—Demetrias and the Pagasitic Gulf, Thessalonike and the Thermaic Gulf, and Alexandreia Troas and the western Troad—that illustrate, in different ways, the practical complexities of uniting pre-existing worship communities in one place. In turn, the fourth and final chapter, "Consensus, Community, and Discourses of Power" (184-224), attempts to reconstruct the internal organization and communal affiliations of the newly synoikized politai, exploring how institutions, coinage, cultic processions, foundation myths, and so forth worked to broker the competing interests and identities of the constituent populations, tailored in each case to highly specific local concerns. Together, these chapters develop a model of institutional accommodation, of a top-down, consciously designed integration of an inorganic citizen-body that also left spaces for the continued expression of the constituents' diverse and ancient origins.

Boehm splendidly makes the case for his topic. In his hands, synoikism is located at the intersection of many of the historical dynamics of greatest interest to scholars of the early Hellenistic world: most obviously, the fraught interactions of poleis with kings and the formation of Hellenistic imperial landscapes, but also the workings of regionalism in the Aegean, the functions and ambivalences of political religion, and the fungibility or stickiness of communal identities. Boehm displays remarkable control of up-to-date archaeological (including survey) and epigraphic evidence over a very large area, in several cases permitting the re-evaluation of historiographical statements on monarchic action, urban destruction, and dating. Boehm is especially strong on identifying the practical problems and political compromises that lie behind the epigraphic record, such as the sharing of priesthoods or codification of sacrificial calendars. The first chapter is illustrated with useful topographical maps of the synoikized cities' catchment areas, indicating cult sites and constituent poleis. It is only a minor complaint, and born of enthusiasm, that Boehm's careful argumentation from material and numismatic evidence is not accompanied by the archaeological plans and coin images in question.

It is probably inevitable, given the book's shape as a diptych of monarchic ambitions and civic responses, that Boehm's underlying model is one of negotiation between two discrete entities. There is emphasis throughout on how the norms of the Greek polis and the traditions and claims of the participant communities constrained the power of the dynasts and mediated the processes of urban conglomeration: synoikism emerges as "a reciprocal exchange between king and community" (23) and "a delicate balance between royal authority and local concerns" (228). Such insistence on polis resilience and civic agency vis-à-vis the Hellenistic monarchs accords with what has become, to a large extent, a historiographical consensus. Yet, when so much of our evidence derives from the public transcript or institutional record of the synoikized communities, can this capture the profound imbalance of power at play, or the unlevel and highly circumscribed ground in which small poleis could manoeuver, or the violent disruptions of social and personal life that a forced synoikism imposed? Asandros' late fourth-century synoikism of Latmos and Pidasa in Karia prescribed that for six years the Latmians could only marry Pidasians and the Pidasians Latmians (SEG 47 1563 ll.21-25); it is not to indulge the historical imagination too much to pause and ponder the extra-institutional effects of this synoikic mechanism, and this is where the historiographical and literary evidence for (mostly ineffectual) local hostility to synoikism, downplayed by Boehm, could, for all its complications, have some reach. It would be surprising if these rather dramatic instances of "seeing like a state", a rationalizing, strategic vision of empire that so easily assimilates to historians' concerns and scale, did not bring misery with profit.



Notes:


1.   Ryan Boehm, "Alexander, 'Whose Courage Was Great': Cult, Power, and Commemoration in Classical and Hellenistic Thessaly", Classical Antiquity 34 (2015): 209-215.

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2018.09.39

Timothy Howe, Sabine Müller, Richard Stoneman (ed.), Ancient Historiography on War and Empire. Oxford; Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2017. Pp. xv, 280. ISBN 9781785702990. $75.00.

Reviewed by Joseph Frechette (jfrechet@umd.edu)

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

Howe, Müller, and Stoneman's Ancient Historiography on War and Empire is the product of a 2013 conference on Greek history and historiography and includes chapters that form sections devoted to Classical Greece and Achaemenid Persia, Macedon, Alexander and the Diadochoi, and the Second Sophistic. Presumably these divisions indicate the various conference panels from which the papers had their genesis. As with all edited volumes of such breadth, the individual contributions present a wide variety of specific topics and approaches. The golden thread theoretically running through all of them is that they all variously explore the ways in which the ancient authors' contemporary contexts and the perceived needs and desires of their audiences affected their presentation of history. This was serious business. As Howe notes in his foreword, the ancient historians' tendencies towards either propaganda or didacticism were impelled by "war and its uncompromising consequences… as they sought to shape current decisions by creating and curating history" (xi). Since, however, the authors and topics under consideration span nearly a millennium the papers all have particular foci and approaches.

The practical focus is ably brought out in Mark Munn's introduction, which could stand alone as a study on the origins of classical historiography. Munn suggests that not only Thucydides, but Herodotus and the Atthidographers all wrote with an eye towards the political utility of their works in democratic Athens during the Peloponnesian War and the conflicts in its aftermath. For Munn, Xenophon's work represents a transition to history composed not for a political class engaged in collective deliberative counsel, but for one that operated through charismatic leadership and battlefield reputation. Those with a broad interest in classical historiography will undoubtedly find it the single most useful study in this collection.

The more specialized studies will be of greater or lesser interest depending upon the focus of the reader. Likewise, their adherence to the volume's theme of pragmatic history is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. Both Eran Almagor's piece on the Achaemenid royal inscriptions and their presentation of the Persian kings' mirror-relationship to the divine, and Josef Wiesehöfer's discussion of the cultic veneration of the royal Persian tombs suggest that the Greek historians were not insensitive to such cultural currents. Frances Pownall's study on the Sicilian historian, Philistus, and his views on tyranny, rounds out the section on the classical period. It is an intriguing study of both the historiography and the politics of the Syracusan tyrants of the fourth century B.C., and, although conceding that Philistus was an apologist for the Dionysii, Pownall notes that his portraits of earlier Sicilian tyrants are ambiguous at best. In other words, Philistus was not so much an ideological partisan in favor of tyranny as such, but a political opportunist hoping to maintain his place in the court of the Dionysii.

The three pieces devoted to Macedon all investigate specific questions related to the royal house in the early Hellenistic period. William Greewalt's study takes on the fraught problem of which Macedonian king should be credited with introducing the Foot Companions. He makes a strong case for Alexander II over Philip II, suggesting that both the turbulence and the violent end of Alexander's reign may well have been inspired by the political and social implications of attempting to create a new military elite capable of not only facing down external foes, but also of providing the king with a counterweight to the traditional mounted Companion aristocracy.

In perhaps the most substantial piece, Waldemar Heckel, Timothy Howe, and Sabine Müller take on the fraught questions of the motives for the murders of Philip II, as well as his widow Cleopatra, and her guardian, Attalos, early in Alexander's reign. They are inclined to credit irrational, emotional factors motivating events, particularly insult and vengeance, but they also suggest caution regarding the sources, noting particularly that the Roman "moral cultural logic" of Justin/Trogus was not the same as that of fourth century B.C. Macedon.

Rounding out Part III, in a study of the royal Macedonian tombs at Vergina, Franca Landucci Gattinoni revisits the debate over whether Tomb II is indeed the resting place of Philip II and Cleopatra, suggesting instead Philip III and Eurydice. Although Gattinoni's hypothesis is suggestive, given the archaeological uncertainties, it is not definitive. Nevertheless, her observation that Cassander's obsequies for Philip III parallel those of Alexander for Philip II are well taken as both new monarchs sought to secure their positions in part by associating themselves with their predecessors.

Turning to the section on Alexander and the Diadochoi, Olga Palagia's paper is a bit of an outlier for the volume, as it is focused on the visual rather than the literary representations of Alexander's victories over the Persians as they developed during the period of the Successors. It does, however, pair nicely with Gattinoni's study, since she identifies such iconography on the remains of a chryselephantine couch from Tomb II at Vergina, arguing that it would tend to favor a post-Alexander date, and thus Philip III as the occupant. The absence, however, of an illustration of the couch in question means that partisans for the earlier date will likely remain unconvinced.

Hugh Bowden argues, in his study of the mantic episodes in the Alexander historians, that accounts of divination represent the historians' retrospective judgements rather than contemporary propaganda. In his estimation, such stories are a feature of ancient historiography in general, showing that the course of events was a product of destiny rather than blind chance. Even those who prefer to see a bit more chance in the functioning of Tyche in ancient historiography, or those perhaps willing to believe that actual episodes of divination might lie behind some of these stories rather than pure invention, will profit from Bowden's reminder that mentality of the Alexander historians is premodern and not always analogous to our own.

Among the other papers in this section, in a revisionist study of Arrian's notes on Alexander's fiscal administration of Asia Minor, Maxim Kholod discusses the nature of the collection of tribute and contributions from the indigenous and Greek communities to the Macedonian war chest. He argues that Philoxenus, mentioned in Anab. 3.6.4, was emblematic of intermediate officials responsible for collecting both tribute and war contributions from the local satrapies and cities to forward on to the king. Jacek Rzepka suggests, in a study of casualty figures for Alexander's army, that the most contemporary of the Alexander historians had access to official statistics of one sort or another, at least some of which were probably circulated for propaganda purposes. In an intriguing literary study of the fragments of Megasthenes, Richard Stoneman compares him to Kipling for his wide-ranging interest in Indian myths and folk tales which could only be satisfied by oral inquiry. Finally, Aleksandra Klęczar's examination of the presentation of Alexander the Great in 1 Maccabees suggests, reasonably, that the image of the king was reworked to suit contemporary Maccabean propaganda as the forerunner of Antiochus IV.

Turning to the final section of the book, students of late antiquity will rightly disagree with Howe's characterization of the Second Sophistic as the "final great movement of ancient Greek historiography." (xiv) Certainly, the historical writing of the fourth through the early seventh centuries might have made for an honorable inclusion. This quibble of periodization aside, the first two papers in the section fit nicely with the volume's overall theme, suggesting practical messages in Plutarch's Lives for contemporary readers in the reign of Trajan. In a study of the parallel lives of Alexander and Caesar, Rebecca Frank argues that the former demonstrates the legitimate exercise of royal power while the latter shows the illegitimate actions of a tyrant as models for appropriate and inappropriate monarchical behavior. Elias Koulakiotis focuses on the function of Dionysus in the Life of Alexander. He suggests that royal charisma, while given by Zeus, was diminished by Dionysus in Plutarch's account as offenses against the god were repaid with inebriation and death, and that readers aware of Trajan's imitatio Alexandri would be warned against the hubris of competing or trying to identify oneself with a god.

The final two papers focus on recurrent topoi in Second Sophistic historical writing. Müller examines ways in which writers such as Arrian, Plutarch, Lucian, and Athenaeus described the participation of Hellenistic monarchs in the musical and plastic arts as inappropriate and as a way of impugning their moral standing regardless of the actual context of such behavior. Sulochana Asirvatham's piece takes its point of departure from Lucian's injunctions against flattery in How to Write History, in which the writer positions himself as a "truth teller" rather than flatterer of his audience, and deploys historical anecdotes of frankness and flattery of those in power. Asirvatham traces this discourse at least as far back as Hellenistic historiography, in which both Diodorus and Polybius criticized other historians' excessive flattery. She also notes that in the Second Sophistic, when the only meaningful challenges to Roman authority could be in the realm of intellectual discourse, inclusion of historical anecdotes concerning both flattery and over-frank speech, provided a method not only for historians, but also for writers in other genres of moralizing sophistic literature such as Dio Chrysostum, Plutarch, and Athenaeus to indicate their moral authority

Overall, made up as it is of fairly specific and focused pieces, this volume will likely only be sought out by specialists interested in particular constituent studies, rather than by a those interested in ancient historiography more generally. It would be a pity should this be the case. All of the papers are thought-provoking and Munn's essay, at least, deserves wider circulation.

Authors and titles

Forward: Ancient Historiography and Ancient History, Timothy Howe
Part I: Introduction
1 Why History? On the Emergence of Historical Writing, Mark Munn

Part II: Persia and Greece
2 The Political and the Divine in Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions, Eran Almagor
3 Cyrus the Great and the Sacrifices for a Dead King, Josef Wiesehöfer
4 The Horse and the Stag: Philistus' View of Tyrants, Frances Pownall

Part III: Macedon
5 Alexander II of Macedon, William Greenwalt
6 'The Giver of the Bride, the Bridegroom, and the Bride': A Study of the Death of Philip II and its Aftermath, Waldemar Heckel, Timothy Howe and Sabine Müller
7 Royal Tombs and Cult of the Dead Kings in Early Hellenistic Macedonia, Franca Landucci Gattinoni

Part IV: The Empires of Alexander the Great and the Diadochoi
8 The Financial Administration of Asia Minor under Alexander the Great: An Interpretation of Two Passages from Arrian's Anabasis, Maxim M. Kholod
9 The Eagle has Landed: Divination in the Alexander Historians, Hugh Bowden
10 The Casualty Figures of Alexander's Army, Jacek Rzepka
11 Alexander's battles against Persians in the art of the Successors, Olga Palagia
12 How the Hoopoe Got His Crest: Reflections on Megasthenes' Stories of India, Richard Stoneman
13 Creating the King: The Image of Alexander the Great in 1 Maccabees, 1-10, Aleksandra Klęczar

Part V: Second Sophistic Rome
14 The Hero vs. the Tyrant: Legitimate And Illegitimate Rule in Plutarch's Alexander-Caesar, Rebecca Frank
15 Plutarch's Alexander, Dionysos and the Metaphysics of Power, Elias Koulakiotis
16 The Artistic King: Reflections on a Topos in Second Sophistic Historiography, Sabine Müller
17 Flattery, History, and the Pepaideumenos, Sulochana Asirvatham
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

2018.09.38

P. J. Heather, Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. vii, 393. ISBN 9780199362745. $29.95.

Reviewed by Tom Campbell-Moffat, University College London (ucratca@ucl.ac.uk)

Version at BMCR home site

Preview

What, in the aftermath, should be said of the conquests of the Emperor Justinian? Were they a doomed crusade that left a structurally and economically weakened Roman Empire as easy prey in the seismic upheavals of the seventh century? And what should be said of the man on whose whim such destruction was unleashed? Was Justinian a romantic visionary, engaged in a valiant attempt to restore God's chosen kingdom to sacrosanct unity? Or was this the reign of a tyrant, allowing his megalomania to cut a bloody swathe through the fields and cities of the West? What, if anything, was achieved? Peter Heather's Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian is a bold, absorbing and thoroughly compelling response to these questions. Combining a wealth of literary material, a flare for swashbuckling narrative, and the most up-to-date archaeological discoveries available, Heather endeavours to achieve a critical realignment of the traditional and often contradictory views of Justinian's attempt to reconstitute the West at the point of a sword.

Heather establishes his central thesis in the first two chapters. Chapter one, 'In this sign conquer', sets out the ideological underpinnings of the late Roman regime and the political standards by which Justinian would expect to be judged. In particular, Heather focuses on the interplay between the traditional Graeco-Roman concept of civilitas and the subtle changes and striking continuities introduced by the advent of Christianity. Through an examination of the importance of written law, the often convoluted politico-theological relationship between Emperor and Church and, crucially, the overwhelming emphasis placed on military victory, Heather demonstrates how the "empire's Panglossian ideology" (p. 31) necessitated a relentless search for legitimising victories on the part of any Emperor determined to maintain total approval. In as labyrinthine a political environment as sixth-century Constantinople, failure could, and frequently did, have the direst of consequences.

Chapter two, 'The military-fiscal complex', is intended to explain the nature of the state that Justinian inherited. Repeated catastrophic military crises in the third- and fifth-centuries had forced a dramatic adaptation on the part of the Roman Empire. Rome, according to Heather, emerged from the Tetrarchic period with a military establishment that had potentially doubled in manpower, and was forced to meet the corresponding costs by enforcing a new fiscal regime. The result was a revolutionary realignment of imperial society, politics and economic interests around "what was in fact the largest flow of wealth ever to have been generated by any society of the ancient Mediterranean" (p. 65), now firmly under the control of a centralised Imperial bureaucracy. Heather claims that, far from bankrupting the empire, these enhanced systems of taxation were supported by a corresponding expansion in rural settlement and cultivation. In short, the empire inherited by Justinian was in a far healthier economic condition than has traditionally been believed, and was potentially capable of absorbing the economic shock of overseas military adventurism. This section also contains a detailed analysis of the composition, tactics and equipment of the sixth-century Roman army, paving the way for the accounts of Belisarius' unexpectedly stunning successes.

If chapter one outlines what was expected of Justinian, chapter three, 'Regime Change in Constantinople' demonstrates how far he might fall should he fail: Heather details the series of political and religious intrigues that led him to the rule of the Roman world, as well as the crucial policy decisions he had inherited from his predecessors, Anastasius and Justin I. Concurrently, chapter five, 'The Last Desperate Gamble', shows how close Justinian came to the edge, as it relates the outset of his attempt to reformulate Roman law, the disastrous consequences of brinksmanship with Persia, and the Nika riots that so nearly proved fatal to his rule. It was from the ashes of these cataclysms that the nascent conquest policy was conceived, as Justinian cast around for any legitimising victory that could save his battered regime.

In chapters six and seven, we are treated to the quality in-depth military analysis that characterises a great deal of this book. 'Five Thousand Horse' deals with the origins of the Vandal kingdom in North Africa, as well as Belisarius' campaign against them. The consequence of such a seemingly easy victory, Heather attests, was the evolution of what had been a desperate political gamble into a full-blown imperial policy of reconquista. In 'Rome and Ravenna', Belisarius inflicts this policy upon the Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy. Again, Heather takes care to break down the origins and state of the Ostrogothic kingdom at the time of conquest.

The following three chapters deal with the immediate consequences of Justinian's military conquests. In chapter seven, 'The Culture of Victory', Heather details how Justinian chose to spend the immense political capital accrued by reinvesting it in further conquests in the civil field. To that end, Heather relates the somewhat hurried completion of the review of Roman jurisconsult material by Tribonian as a complement to the successful promulgation of the Justinianic legal code; the empire-spanning raft of construction projects launched, not least of which was the redesign of a Constantinople gutted by fires during the Nika rioting; and the ill-fated attempt to solve the growing schism between Chalcedonian and anti- Chalcedonian partisans within the Church.

Chapter eight, 'Our Brother in God', is a reminder of the intractable antagonistic relationship between the Roman Empire and its Persian counterpart. Determined to redress the imbalance introduced by the sudden expansion of the Roman tax base, the Persians took advantage of the relative absence of Roman troops to strike deep into the heart of Syria, before settling down to their own round of military adventurism in Armenia: peace was eventually restored, but at a colossal price. Heather thereby demonstrates that, far from assuaging Rome's most persistent strategic rivalry, the 'rebirth' of the western empire served only to exacerbate it.

Chapter nine, 'Insurgents' gives another granular account of the military situations left behind in Justinian's new provinces in North Africa and Italy, and demonstrates that, in spite of Belisarius' triumphs, victory was still distant. In the case of North Africa, a berber insurgency put off final victory for fifteen years. In Italy, Heather recounts the rebellion of Totila, which necessitated another full-scale invasion under Narses; the insurgency was eventually defeated, although not without fatally undermining the Roman grip on northern Italy in the process.

Heather addresses the central questions posed by his thesis in the final two chapters. 'The Western Empire of Justinian' straightforwardly addresses whether or not the conquests of North Africa and Italy can be said to have led to imperial collapse in the seventh century. Heather is to be commended for reminding the reader of the human cost of Justinian's campaigns, as he asserts that for so many to have died at the whim of an emperor seeking nothing more than political capital was an unjustifiable catastrophe. However, from a strategic standpoint, the view is more nuanced. In the case of North Africa, Heather combines its evident political stability with the wealth of archaeological evidence to assert that the new province did, in fact, pay dividends in the century it remained under Constantinopolitan control. Conversely, Heather takes pains to demonstrate that the collapse of Roman rule over northern Italy following the Lombard conquest was the product not so much of Roman inefficiencies as it was of geopolitical shifts beyond Rome's frontiers. Despite this, Heather attests that the same basic literary and archaeological patterns indicate that the parts of Italy that remained within the Roman sphere of influence would, eventually, have paid dividends for their reconquest. Heather's conclusion, therefore, is that the western conquest policy may even have served to strengthen Rome's hand financially in the long-term, had these provinces remained under Roman control.

'The Fall of the Eastern Empire' addresses the fundamental question head on. According to Heather, in spite of the huge immediate losses incurred, Justinian's reconquest policy did not fundamentally undermine the socio-economic health of the empire, as the archaeological evidence for serious decline in the eastern heartlands does not occur until the seventh century. It is to external pressures and to the policies of Justinian's successors that Heather attributes the decisions and events that fatally destabilised the Roman east. In spite of this, Heather reminds us that for all of its successes, Justinian's western adventurism remained an act of political opportunism, and nothing more. If any blame is to be laid at his door for the fall of the empire in the seventh century, it is to be found in the politically toxic legacy he left for his successors: having set the bar for imperial glory-hunting so high, Justinian forced them to follow suit in order to satisfy the pressing need for legitimising victory.

Overall, Heather's argument is extremely compelling, particularly in light of its nuances. The handling of the political necessities of imperial ideology is particularly deft, as is the counter-balancing weight given to the prominence of external forces in explaining Rome's eventual decline in the seventh century. Given that Justinian's reign is somewhat ripe for polarised interpretations, this is in itself a triumph. Further, Heather's sympathetic handling of the human costs of Justinian's campaigns is wholly appropriate, and serves to ward the reader away from any eulogising tendencies: indeed, whatever one may think of the successes of Justinian-as-emperor, one cannot walk away from this book with anything other than a jaundiced view of the man himself.

In spite of this, the handling of the evidence gives me pause. The majority of this is a compilation of the existing literary material, which is treated with a practised hand—in particular, Heather must be commended for a masterful analysis of Procopius of Caesarea. The archaeological evidence is somewhat more sparse, significantly more revolutionary, and methodologically curious. Firstly, Heather's suggestion that "no serious student of the late Roman army thinks that its notional manpower strength increased by less than 50 per cent in the century after 230, and a pretty good argument can be made that it actually doubled in size" (p. 48) is likely to make a couple of modern scholars feel rather silly. Heather bases this estimation on "a whole range of evidence, from the size of extant barrack blocks to pieces of specific information" (ibid.): one feels that given the centrality of this claim to Heather's thesis he is being unnecessarily coy. As Heather attests, this manpower expansion led to the social, political and fiscal revolution that underpinned the entire late Roman regime, which in turn led to "the overall conclusion, in fact, that imperial GDP was at an overall maximum in the fourth century…" (p. 60), based on evidence for rural settlement and land cultivation. A military-fiscal revolution of this scale is fundamentally necessary in supporting Heather's thesis that Justinian's conquests did not fatally weaken the empire. However, whilst his analysis may be correct, one cannot help but feel that Heather may be taking the most generous interpretation of the available evidence and setting it as his median. In a book notable for eschewing extremes, this appears to be the one extreme in which Heather indulges.

Rome Resurgent is situated firmly in the revisionist tradition that has emerged in opposition to the recent Cultural Turn, and in political and ideological terms will doubtless be taken as an important contribution to the field. As a military history of the reign of Justinian it is unparalleled, being both eminently readable and thoroughly researched. In sum, it is a process of disillusionment: the romantic vision and diabolical pageant of Justinian's reign stripped away to reveal the bleached bones of naked political opportunism beneath.

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2018.09.37

Luise M. Errington, Otto Jahn und Adolf Michaelis. Briefwechsel 1848 bis 1869. Kommentierte Textausgabe. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Archäologie und der Altertumswissenschaften, 1. Berlin; Boston: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut; de Gruyter, 2017. Pp. ix, 863. ISBN 9783110544015. €149,95.

Reviewed by Balbina Bäbler, University of Göttingen (bbaebler@gmx.de)

Version at BMCR home site

The correspondence between the classical philologist, archaeologist and musicologist Otto Jahn (1813–1869) and his nephew, the archaeologist and philologist Adolf Michaelis (1835–1910), is of outstanding importance for the history of scholarship, since both were widely influential scholars in their time. Jahn was professor in Greifswald (1842-1847), Leipzig (1847-1851) and finally Bonn (from 1855 until his death); he produced fundamental editions of ancient texts (e.g. Persius in 1843, Cicero's Orator and Juvenal, both in 1851), was involved with Theodor Mommsen in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, and developed new critical methods in Classical Archaeology. In addition to this workload he managed not only to write a biography of Mozart in four volumes (1856–9) and articles about topics of musicology, but also his own compositions for piano and song (7–11).

Michaelis went to Rome in 1857 after completing his PhD in Kiel. Three years later he became, together with Alexander Conze, the first to receive the "Reisestipendium" of the "Istituto di corrispondenza archaeologica" (which was renamed in 1874 "Kaiserlich-Deutsches Archäologisches Institut"). During his years in Rome he wrote long confidential letters to Jahn about the internal affairs of the institute that illuminate his decision not to aspire to a post there. In 1862 Michaelis became "Außerordentlicher Professor" of archaeology in Greifswald, in 1864 he got the chair in Classical Philology and Archaeology at Tübingen, and in 1872 at the newly founded university of Strasbourg, where he assembled the collection of plaster casts. He worked extensively on Greek sculpture; being responsible for Jahn's legacy—he also wrote Jahn's biography in "Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie"—, he started a systematic collection of Jahn's letters in later years, but did not manage to publish them.

The present edition is a monumental achievement: it is very carefully produced (with next to no misprints in 857 pages!), with an informative introduction to the letters and the writers (pp. 1–19), a chronological overview on their lives and a chronological list of the letters (pp. 29–39). A very great asset are the seven different indices (pp. 795–856) on a variety of subjects mentioned in the letters: people, geographical names, modern literature, PhD theses of various younger scholars, ancient authors and editions of their works, ancient sculpture and architecture, ancient vases, persons and subjects from musicology and finally key words. These make the huge volume easily accessible to readers with a variety of specialized interests.

Of course this review cannot do justice to the enormous amount of work and diligence put into this volume. Already the transcription and careful editing of the handwriting was a laborious task1; moreover, some letters of the young Michaelis had to be translated from Latin. The commentary consists of footnotes providing detailed information on persons, places and events mentioned in the letters.2

Let me present some (necessarily subjective and personal) impressions out of the whole panorama of culture, politics, academic institutions and personal struggles in the academic world in Germany and Italy in the middle of the 19th century that one is able to access through this correspondence.

The letters start in the year 1848 when Michalis was 13 years old and last until Jahn's death in 1869. One wonders about the precocity of the boy Michaelis who takes great interest in every edition of an ancient author and makes eager enquiries about those in print. He diligently informs his uncle about everything he is reading; according to him, Thucydides is dead easy ("kinderleicht", p. 46 nr. 7). For his part, "dear uncle Otto" provides the young man from the beginning with very detailed instructions (still valid today) about how to look at works of ancient art and how to describe them (p. 97 nr. 52).: He should memorize distinctions of style provided by renowned scholars and try to verify them on the works of art he sees. In every visit in the museum he should choose one work of art and provide a detailed and exact description of it (including the pose of a statue, its clothing, expression, style and the impression it makes on the viewer) that must be simple, but lively. With this method he would learn exact viewing as well as the art of description.

The letters that Michaelis wrote as a student often contain amusing descriptions (and scathing criticism) of famous teachers: Eduard Gerhard mainly reads from his own book and manages to slaughter (sic) every Greek vase-painter in just one hour (p. 109 nr. 60).

Both Jahn and Michaelis were in the habit of writing extremely long letters (the collection contains also letters from Michaelis to his mother and sisters). They provided each other with extensive descriptions of works of art and manuscripts of ancient authors, information about their ongoing archaeological and philological research as well as on cultural activities (mainly visits to concerts and operas) and of course family matters. One often wonders when they still found the time for their extensive letter-writing.

What struck me was the omnipresence of illness in almost all the letters. But apart from the real recurring tragedies of infant mortality and death in childbirth among family and friends,3 both seem to have suffered periodically from what was then called "melancholia" (see e. g. p. 244 nr. 165), and both seemed to have also had an inclination towards hypochondria. Time and again each of them lectures for the benefit of the other about the blessings of hard work and study, which was obviously for both of them the remedy for everything.

This private correspondence of two eminent academic figures, which is now available through this volume, will doubtlessly also shed more light on many developments concerning the politics (and intrigues) in the universities and archaeological institutions Jahn and Michaelis were connected with. One example of this is how the young Michaelis received support for his career from the older man; Jahn's good connections smoothed his way in Rome (p. 185 nr. 124). Michaelis' very ambivalent relationship to Eduard Gerhard4 (whom Michaelis accuses in a letter to his mother of having judged a work of his without even having seen it, p. 511 nr. 326) was a source of constant admonitions by Jahn (e. g. p. 306 nr. 206) who tries to convince Michaelis that the famous professor in Berlin is in fact well disposed towards him. He obviously wanted Michaelis to be on good terms with influential people. But, as Errington correctly states (p. 12), Jahn could only have been successful in this endeavor because Michaelis produced excellent scholarly work.

Another example that left deep traces in German scholarship will be mentioned here, the so-called "Bonner Philologenkrieg": although the renowned philologist Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl was the driving force behind Jahn's appointment at Bonn, there soon was a growing alienation between the two men. The uncomfortable situation escalated into open conflict in 1865 when Jahn tried—behind Ritschl's back—to get Hermann Sauppe from Göttingen to Bonn to reinforce the Greek side of classical philology and have someone else to share the burden of teaching. Jahn went so far as to make Sauppe's appointment the condition for his own staying at Bonn. The ministry gave in, but Sauppe, in spite of his earlier acceptance, decided to remain at Göttingen. At this point Ritschl finally learned about all the dealings in which he had had no part and started a smear campaign against Jahn that got him a sharp reprimand from the ministry. The whole affair even became a matter of debate in the local parliament, and the institute was deeply split into the supporters of Ritschl and those of Jahn. The conflict ended with Ritschl leaving Bonn for Leipzig and Jahn's already precarious health deteriorating further. Reading the letters dealing with this affair (pp. 682 nr. 456–691 nr. 462), one wonders whether Jahn did not misjudge the situation from the beginning, blinded by his eager wish to have Sauppe at Bonn. "I put my neck into the noose […] and Sauppe pulled tight", he wrote bitterly (p. 689 Nr. 461); but then Sauppe never seemed to have been really eager to leave Göttingen, and when the ministry at Hannover offered him an increase in his salary and an augmentation of the pension for his widow he immediately decided to stay.5

All in all, this edition of letters offers much more than just a contribution to the history of scholarship: we get here a whole overview of an epoch, with academia, culture, politics, different countries and many different places viewed and described through the eyes of two highly cultivated and educated chroniclers whose personal involvement makes it all the more entertaining. It is—apart from its value to classics—simply a pleasure to read.



Notes:


1.   The reproductions of two letters of Jahn and Michaelis respectively (pp. 860–863) show what the editor was up against.
2.   My only minor criticism is that the words and quotations that Jahn and Michaelis sometimes use in their native dialect (e.g.: p. 131 nr. 78: Mi nich to dull!; p. 225 nr. 156: he kummt sick not Küken in'n Drank) are not translated. They were often barely understandable for me and are probably even less so for a non-German native speaker. But as they are usually a kind of ironical comment on something that had been said before, the letters can be read without them and I am aware that additional comments would have made the book even more voluminous.
3.   Michaelis lost his first wife in 1869 after less than a year of marriage when she gave birth to his son. His brother died very young from what was possibly cancer; he gives a long harrowing description of the bedridden boy in the last stages of his illness (p. 108 nr. 60).
4.   A profile of Gerhard can be found in a book that is a highly recommendable introduction to classics in 19th century Germany: Annette M. Baertschi, Colin G. King, (Eds.), Die modernen Väter der Antike: die Entwicklung der Altertumswissenschaft im Berlin des 19. Jahrhunderts, Berlin 2009, 145–164.
5.   A detailed account of the events is provided by C. W. Müller, Otto Jahn, Stuttgart 1991, 30–34.

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