Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014.04.25

Koray Konuk (ed.), Stephanèphoros. De l'économie antique à l'Asie mineure: Hommages à Raymond Descat. Mémoires, 28. Bordeaux: Ausonius Éditions, 2012. Pp. 421. ISBN 9782356130631. €70.00.

Reviewed by Paraskevi Martzavou, Corpus Christi College Centre for the Study of Greek and Roman Antiquity, Oxford (paraskevi_martzavou@hotmail.com)

Version at BMCR home site

Preview

Ce volume/hommage à Raymond Descat réunit 29 études sous la houlette de Koray Konuk et s'intègre au sein d'une tradition de plus en plus répandue de nos jours, celle des volumes/hommages contenant des contributions de haute qualité. Dans le cas présent, le volume est doté en outre d'une thématique cohérente et ciblée.

L'ouvrage commence par une préface de Patrice Brun, suivie d'une brève introduction par Koray Konuk. Une liste de publications de Raymond Descat vient ensuite, offrant une très bonne idée des thématiques majeures qui régissent l'oeuvre de l'historien, thématiques illustrées par la répartition des contributions en deux parties. La première partie, constituée par une quinzaine d'articles plutôt courts et bien ciblés, est consacrée à l'économie antique, l'un des pôles principaux des intérêts de Raymond Descat. La deuxième partie, comprenant quatorze contributions, se concentre sur l'Asie Mineure, autre pôle des intérêts de l'historien. Pour des raisons d'espace et de préférences personnelles, je traiterai ici surtout des études de la première partie, plus conceptuelle et « historique », en faisant seulement une brève mention des études de la deuxième partie. Ces dernières études traitent de thèmes aussi variés que la réception de la royauté macédonienne ou le culte des évergètes romains et les concours en Asie Mineure. Un index des sources et un index général rendent cet ouvrage utile à la fois pour le novice dans le domaine de l'histoire économique et sociale et pour le chercheur.

Le bref et substantiel article de Jean Andreau, qui ouvre la première partie, a comme sujet les Latins Juniens, une sub-catégorie d'esclaves dans l'Ouest latin. Les problèmes que pose une liste de noms provenant d'Herculaneum sont presentés systématiquement par Andreau afin de comprendre et interpréter le statut juridique des Latins Juniens. Zosia Archibald montre comment des bijoux d'or et d'argent, provenant des fouilles des cimetières de l'ancienne Macédoine et Thrace, peuvent être contextualisés. Archibald suggère que la question de la possession de métaux précieux et celle du genre et de sa signification dans un contexte funéraire méritent d'être examinés de manière diachronique, en combinaison avec d'autres types de sources, par exemple les sources littéraires. Véronique Chankowski, en prenant appui sur l'étude de la loi sur la vente du bois et du charbon provenant de Délos hellénistique (ID 509), propose une précieuse contribution aux débats concernant le caractère primitif, ou non, de l'économie antique. En contextualisant l'analyse de ce document, Chankowski ouvre de nouvelles perspectives de discussion, notamment en ce qui concerne l'époque hellénistique. La cité de Délos au cours de la seconde moitié du IIIe siècle apparaît dotée d'un mécanisme institutionnel puissant, à même de favoriser un équilibre entre besoins civiques, nécessités du sanctuaire, et exigences du commerce de transit. Chankowski met notamment en évidence les mécanismes institutionnels au moyen desquels la cité réglemente les ventes et contrôle le développement de spéculateurs, qui pouvaient être aussi bien Déliens qu'étrangers. L'étude pointue de Michel Cottier concerne un document de collecte de taxes douanières en Egypte achéménide, le célèbre papyrus palimpseste TAD C3.7. Cottier, en considérant à la fois les éléments banals et les éléments innovateurs de ce document, pose des questions concernant l'interaction mutuelle entre le système de taxation perse et le système de taxation valable en Égypte. La distinction entre deux catégories de contribuables, les étrangers (Grecs) et les membres de l'Empire (Phéniciens), est intéressante. François de Callataÿ revisite le miracle grec, depuis longtemps remis en question, et le réaffirme d'un point de vue inattendu, c'est-à-dire quantitatif et économique. Il met l'accent sur trois aspects : la croissance, le bien-être, et le bonheur. Ce point de vue est à prendre cum grano salis dans la mesure où l'optimisme de cette étude, pointue et précise, peut laisser certains sceptiques. Gerald Finkielsztejn, en offrant aussi des exemples quantifiés, modifie des prises de position antérieures, notamment en ce qui concerne le caractère civique et officiel du marquage des instruments et récipients à l'époque hellénistique. En se concentrant sur l'exemple d'Akanthos, cité de Chalcidique, Finkielsztejn fait clairement apparaître le contrôle de la cité dans certains cas, même si la possibilité d'un monopole total de celle-ci sur la production de la céramique doit être relativisée. Une autre conclusion importante est que le timbrage des amphores et leur exportation peuvent être deux activités dissociées. Catherine Grandjean traite la question de la nature de l'état achéen, en prenant appui sur un passage de Polybe (2.27-9-11) et en examinant aussi des données numismatiques. En offrant des observations très fines sur le poids des monnaies, leur formes et leur zones de circulation, elle conclut que des pratiques monétaires beaucoup plus souples qu'on ne l'a cru jusqu'à récemment ont dû caractériser les transactions de l'époque hellénistique. Le privilège de frapper monnaie relevait de la sphère civique, mais seulement pour les monnaies de bronze. Pour comprendre la production et la circulation des monnaies d'argent, un modèle régional serait plus approprié. Cette contribution méticuleuse et intéressante finit par des remarques pessimistes concernant les rapports entre monnaie unique et identité européenne.

Claire Hasenohr traite la question des lieux d'échange à Délos athénienne (167-88 a.C.). Elle examine les aménagements portuaires, les "agoras", les édifices commerciaux, les magistrats, les marchés. Elle revisite les questions de l'identification et de la datation des espaces commerciaux pour évaluer l'implication d'Athènes dans le commerce délien qu'elle juge décisif "au moins jusqu'au début du Ier siècle et ce compris après la dissolution de la clérouchie". Les particularités du cas de la Délos athénienne ressortent très bien de cette étude. John H. Kroll entreprend une étude sur deux poids de bronze en provenance de Corinthe, un archaïque et un hellénistique, menant à des questions générales concernant l'uniformisation de l'étalon sur les poids à travers diverses époques. Léopold Migeotte explore la question des prêts auprès des particuliers (rois et bienfaiteurs) dans le cadre civique en utilisant l'exemple de Milet, de la basse époque hellénistique. Christophe Pébarthe examine, en surplomb, les débats concernant la nature et l'historiographie sur l'économie antique. Il s'interroge sur la question du "marché" comme outil pour étudier l'économie et la société anciennes. Il examine, entre autres, l'approche de Moses Finley par rapport à celle de Karl Polanyi, en un rapide tour d'horizon détaillé, clair et stimulant. Isabelle Pernin, en étudiant les pratiques de viticulture en Attique à travers les baux, arrive à la conclusion que la culture de la vigne en Attique, même à l'époque classique, était modeste et que c'était plutôt les propriétés d'outre-mer qui produisaient des quantités plus considérables. Gary Reger offre une analyse et un commentaire d'un inventaire d'offrandes provenant de Mylasa. Il met l'accent sur le poids des objets, sur leur nature et leur fonction rituelle, sur la date et le type de culte; il suppute l'existence d'un culte héroïque à caractère public à Mylasa. Jean-Manuel Roubineau offre une étude d'histoire sociale, en examinant le cas du traitement des orphelins de guerre, des dotations pour les filles epiclères pauvres et la prise en charge des invalides pauvres pour discerner les motivations civiques et sociales aux racines de l'action "sociale" de la cité. Il finit par conclure qu'il faut absolument opérer un clivage entre les valeurs modernes et les valeurs anciennes nourrissant les motivations institutionnelles. Julien Zurbach tente de préciser le contexte de la naissance de l'oeuvre d'Hésiode, notamment « Les Travaux et les Jours ». Cette étude riche et profonde commence par la question du "genre" de l'oeuvre. Il explore notamment l'hypothèse d'influences orientales et aussi les pièges de nature idéologique dérivant des jugements de valeurs sur les rapports et la conception même de l'Est et de l'Ouest, l'antiquité grecque, les identités modernes.

Les contributions de la deuxième partie illustrent des aspects de l'histoire de l'Asie Mineure : rapports avec d'autres régions (Ignacio Adiego-Michalis Tiverios-Eleni Manakidou-Despoina Tsiafakis sur les inscriptions cariennes en Macédoine), archéologie des débuts de l'époque archaïque (Kaan Iren, Ayla Ünlü sur des rites funéraires d'époque géométrique à Téos, Olivier Mariaux sur les pratiques funéraires dans la région d'Halicarnasse à l'époque géométrique), histoire hellénistique (Alain Bresson sur une nouvelle inscription d'Apamée, Laurent Capdetrey sur les questions complexes concernant les pouvoirs en Carie vers 300 a.C., Winfried Held sur les palais attalides à Pergame, Laurence Cavalier et Jacques des Courtils sur la continuité d'honneurs cultuels rendus à Xanthos dans un enclos funéraire d'époque classique ou "dynastique"), histoire romaine (Fabrice Delrieux sur les tremblements de terre et les empereurs, Gaetan Thériault sur le culte des évergètes), questions numismatiques (Koray Konuk sur des monnaies de communautés cariennes), histoire religieuse (Askold Ivantchik-Alexander Falileyev sur une dédicace olbienne), nouvelles recherches archéologiques (présentation de Zeugma par Kutalmiş Görkay, nouveau fragment du sarcophage de Payava publié par Francis Prost), historiographie (Pierre Briant sur la royauté macédonienne perçue au XVIIIe siècle). En général il s'agit d'études détaillées et pointues. Certaines pourraient être considérées comme liées aux thématiques de la première partie (Gary Reger dans la partie concernant l'économie antique, Laurence Cavalier et Jacques des Courtils traitant des cultes héroïques à partir de perspectives différentes).

Le volume dans l'ensemble reflète à la fois l'école historique de Bordeaux et sa réception, son influence. Il constitue une sorte d'instantané des débats actuels sur l'économie, très utile et très riche, à l'intention des étudiants et des chercheurs.

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2014.04.24

Paolo Accattino, Michele Curnis, Aristotele, La Politica, Libro III. Aristotele. La Politica, 3. Roma: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 2013. Pp. 273. ISBN 9788882659219. €100.00.

Reviewed by Federico Zuolo, University of Pavia (federico.zuolo@unipv.it)

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Il volume, che qui si presenta e che porta le firme di due curatori (Paolo Accattino per l'introduzione, la traduzione italiana e il commento; Michele Curnis per il testo greco, gli apparati critici e le note testuali), è il terzo tomo della nuova edizione della Politica di Aristotele diretta da Lucio Bertelli e da Mauro Moggi. In questa edizione ogni volume è curato da studiosi diversi per quanto riguarda la parte tematica, mentre la curatela di Michele Curnis per quel che concerne gli aspetti filologici assicura l'unitarietà delle scelte testuali e critiche.

Il discorso portato avanti da Aristotele all'interno del III libro della Politica si articola in quattro grandi blocchi tematici: le nozioni di costituzione, città e cittadino; i criteri in base ai quali distinguere e classificare i diversi tipi di costituzione; le qualità pertinenti alla gestione politica e i titoli legittimi per governare la città; le varie forme di regalità e, quindi, il serrato confronto dialettico con Platone volto a presentare come eccezionale l'adozione di una regalità assoluta.

Su ciascuna di queste quattro sezioni il contributo offerto da Accattino si rivela esaustivo e puntuale, ma anche mirabilmente chiaro nell'esposizione e, quindi, di grande utilità per comprendere a fondo il ragionamento di Aristotele e i numerosissimi (e spesso impliciti) riferimenti che il filosofo fa ai predecessori e, tra questi, soprattutto a Platone. È questo, per esempio, il caso dei capitoli conclusivi del libro, all'interno dei quali Aristotele affronta il tema della basileia assoluta, che Platone nel Politico sembra considerare come l'unica forma corretta di costituzione. Al riguardo, però, l'argomentazione dello Stagirita presenta un andamento talmente tortuoso da risultare a prima vista bizzarro (p. 240). Ed è proprio in situazioni come queste che si possono più immediatamente apprezzare gli interventi esplicativi di Accattino e la profonda conoscenza da questi posseduta riguardo alle opere di Platone e di Aristotele. Se è vero che ad una prima lettura della sezione in questione il ragionamento aristotelico può apparire in qualche modo poco lineare, è altrettanto vero che uno studio come quello condotto nel presente volume riesce a ricostruire il ragionamento del filosofo in maniera tale da chiarire le posizioni assunte da questi e da dimostrare la coerenza interna di una trattazione che si sviluppa per diversi capitoli e attraverso diverse diramazioni argomentative.

Relativamente al tema specifico, Accattino mostra chiaramente che Aristotele si mostra d'accordo con Platone solo in linea di principio. Per lo Stagirita la regalità assoluta si può considerare come la soluzione istituzionale migliore soltanto se colui che detiene il potere è dotato di una virtù eccedente le virtù di tutti gli altri cittadini. Tuttavia, dal momento che una siffatta condizione risulta soddisfatta in casi del tutto eccezionali, anche l'adozione di un governo assoluto di un singolo individuo non potrà che essere ammessa in casi straordinari e identificata come una opzione di natura altrettanto eccezionale, non certo normale come, invece, avrebbe teorizzato Platone (cfr., al riguardo, il cap. 11: pp. 97 s., 195 s.). Non c'è dubbio che le posizioni di Aristotele appaiano tanto più divergenti rispetto a quelle assunte da Platone quanto più il ragionamento del primo passa a prendere in esame la realtà effettiva e, quindi, il tipo di uomini che si trovano in una data città. Per lo Stagirita, infatti, una costituzione non può essere proposta senza tenere nella dovuta considerazione la realtà concreta di riferimento (17, 1288a 6 ss. a p. 139 e 140 con esaustivo commento a p. 237-238).

Evidentemente, nel caso specifico, come in tanti altri casi simili, la differenza tra discepolo e maestro è in gran parte giocata sul criterio della effettiva praticabilità e della concreta realizzazione di una idea politica: spesso, come viene ribadito in diversi passaggi dell'introduzione e del commento al III libro della Politica, Aristotele misura sul piano della empeiria ciò che Platone propone indipendentemente (e a prescindere) dal confronto con la storia e, in generale, il primo – diversamente dal secondo – si premura di stemperare e rimodulare la nozione stessa di competenza politica necessaria per adire una carica di governo, non senza aver prima messo in discussione la nozione di techne proposta dal maestro e, nella fattispecie, l'assimilazione tra sapere tecnico e competenza politica da quest'ultimo ribadita nel Politico. Per Platone, infatti, se è vero che per ogni dominio pratico e teoretico rilevante esistono pochissimi individui competenti, sarà altrettanto vero che relativamente alla politica, che rappresenta "la suprema tecnica d'uso" e che richiede un sapere altamente specialistico (p. 15), gli esperti saranno talmente pochi che nella migliore delle ipotesi difficilmente capiterà di individuarne più d'uno; pertanto, una volta individuato ed eletto il tecnico, le competenze degli altri non potranno che essere considerate come delle mere pratiche strumentali incapaci di valutare la bontà dell'operato del vero esperto. Per Aristotele, invece, in ognuno di questi dominii si possono individuare diverse figure dotate – ciascuna – di competenze tali che si presentano come rilevanti anche se si dovesse trattare di competenze di basso livello; di conseguenza, pur ammettendo che i possessori delle più alte cariche di governo debbano necessariamente essere gli aristoi, non è da escludere che anche coloro che non sono aristoi possano comunque giocare un ruolo nella gestione politica a patto che questo ruolo risulti essere commisurato alle capacità e alle competenze possedute da ogni singolo individuo coinvolto.

Tra i meriti da riconoscere al volume, un posto di rilievo va sicuramente assegnato a quelle sezioni in cui viene chiarito, enfatizzato e valorizzato l'insieme complesso degli strati logici e argomentativi nei quali si articola il discorso aristotelico. Se, in estrema sintesi, possiamo dire che il primo libro della Politica, affrontando temi socio- antropologici, presenta una impostazione tale da funzionare come una sorta di premessa agli argomenti trattati nel corso dell'opera; e se nel secondo libro Aristotele entra nel vivo del discorso sulle costituzioni passando in rassegna e analizzando – non senza avanzare obiezioni e critiche – le politeiai teoriche e quelle in vigore in alcune città, nel terzo libro si dispiega appieno tutta la "multidimensionalità" dell'analisi aristotelica. Qui, l'attenzione per i contesti specifici risulta coniugata e costantemente accompagnato da uno sguardo generale a ciò che è per natura; l'approccio descrittivo risulta saldamente intrecciato ai diversi interventi non solo di carattere normativo, ma anche interpretativo. Né è difficile individuare quella sensibilità tipicamente aristotelica per "il dirsi in molti modi" di diverse nozioni fondamentali. Al riguardo, si può citare come esempio il caso in cui Aristotele indaga la "vera" natura della oligarchia e della democrazia e a proposito del quale l'autore del commento non manca di fornirci una analisi chiara e convincente. Anche su questo tema si registrano alcune assonanze con Platone; ma il livello di elaborazione del discorso aristotelico si presenta senz'altro più elevato e, di sicuro, più completo e meglio argomentato. Per lo Stagirita, dunque, "vi è oligarchia quando sono signori del governo coloro che posseggono le sostanze e democrazia quando, viceversa, lo siano coloro che non dispongono di grandi sostanze, ma sono poveri" (8, 1279b 17 ss.). Evidentemente, l'essenza delle due forme di governo è da individuare non tanto nell'essere rispettivamente un governo di pochi e uno di molti, quanto piuttosto nell'essere un governo dei ricchi, nel caso dell'oligarchia, e un governo dei poveri, nel caso della democrazia. Che, poi, il governo dei ricchi sia anche quello dei pochi e che il governo dei poveri sia anche quello dei molti, dipende solo dal fatto che queste proprietà sono da intendere come "accidenti di per sé" dei due regimi e non come parte della loro essenza (p. 185). Come giustamente rileva Accattino, l'innovazione principale di questo tipo di lettura proposto con grande convinzione da Aristotele consiste senza dubbio nel fatto che il filosofo, per classificare le costituzioni, provi a impostare tutto il discorso utilizzando (ed eleggendo come migliore e più pertinente) un criterio non di tipo numerico/formale – come, invece, aveva precedentemente provato a fare –, ma di tipo per così dire "sostanziale": ciò che conta maggiormente è stabilire non tanto il numero dei governanti, quanto il loro status economico- sociale, poiché è questo che determina ciò in vista del quale una certa forma di governo si esprime e procede.

Non potendo, per ragioni di spazio, continuare a dar conto nel dettaglio del grande lavoro compiuto da Accattino, ci limitiamo a chiudere questa recensione ripercorrendo, rapidamente, alcune delle considerazioni più dirimenti avanzate da Accattino a proposito della collocazione di Politica III rispetto agli altri libri che compongono l'opera. Prima di procedere in questo senso, però, è giusto e doveroso riconoscere i meriti di Michele Curnis che si è occupato dell'edizione critica, fornendo ai lettori una ampia messe di dati per pervenire alla ricostruzione di un testo che anche da questo punto di vista presenta tutta una serie di difficoltà sulle quali non è il caso di insistere in questa sede.

Come è noto, diversi studiosi si sono confrontati sulla questione del rapporto intercorrente soprattutto tra il III della Politica e i libri in cui Aristotele tratta della migliore costituzione (VII-VIII). Nel 1923, Werner Jaeger ipotizzò che il libro III facesse parte, insieme al II e alla coppia VII-VIII, di una "Urpolitik" dai tratti marcatamente platonici e che solo successivamente fossero stati aggiunti i libri IV-VI di carattere più squisitamente empirico e realistico e, quindi, anche il I, anch'esso databile al periodo più recente (ca. 334-323). Sebbene questa tesi abbia ricevuto diverse repliche e l'interpretazione in chiave platonica sia ormai poco plausibile, il volume di Accattino-Curnis ha il merito di fornire alcune osservazioni inequivocabili per mettere definitivamente in discussione la validità di ogni ipotesi volta a negare la profonda unità testuale della Politica. Accattino ribadisce che i libri VII-VIII non possono essere considerati come la diretta continuazione del III perché il programma enunciato nelle ultime linee di III 18 non corrisponde perfettamente alla migliore costituzione delineata nel VII e nell'VIII: l'aristocrazia considerata come la costituzione migliore alla fine del libro III presenta caratteristiche diverse dalla costituzione aristocratica a cui Aristotele fa riferimento nei libri VII-VIII. Quella dei libri finali della Politica è, infatti, una comunità di simili ed eguali per condizione e virtù p. 21); l'aristocrazia del libro III, invece, sembra essere meno esigente e ristretta. Qui, Aristotele si premura di delineare una forma di aristocrazia in cui troviamo la condivisione di un interesse comune tra governanti e governati; nei libri VII e VIII, invece, chi è escluso dall'accesso alle cariche politiche non fa nemmeno parte della cittadinanza e il suo interesse non è preso nemmeno in considerazione. Al contrario, vi sono buone ragioni per considerare come conseguenti e linearmente collegati i temi trattati da Aristotele nei libri III e IV. In quest'ultimo, infatti, si riprendono e si sviluppano idee già tratteggiate nel libro III; resta invariata l'attenzione per le condizioni socio- economiche delle componenti della città e continua ad essere adottato come criterio per l'individuazione dei regimi politici non tanto il numero di coloro che accedono al potere, quanto lo status economico e sociale di questi. Anche l'approccio con la materia che il filosofo mette in atto nel libro III presenta più assonanze con il tipo di indagine condotto nel IV, ma anche nel V e nel VI. In questo senso punta, per esempio, l'attenzione mostrata dallo Stagirita per la realtà e per le condizioni date anche quando il discorso (soprattutto nel IV libro) verte sulla migliore costituzione, che, diversamente da quella descritta negli ultimi libri della Politica, è da considerare come la "migliore" per il maggior numero delle città e non certo la "migliore" in senso assoluto.

In conclusione, dunque, se è vero che – come dice Accattino – il III della Politica è un "libro di problemi e di difficoltà da risolvere" (p. 11), è anche vero che il lavoro condotto dai curatori del presente volume si rivela perfettamente in grado di gestire nel migliore dei modi la complessità di uno dei libri meno facili di tutta la Politica e di dar conto della fitta e multiforme rete di riferimenti intra-testuali, inter-testuali ed extra-testuali che il testo propone.

Table of Contents

Introduzione al libro III – p. 7
Bibliografia – p. 27
Sigle e abbreviazioni usate negli apparati critici – p. 41
Testo e traduzione – p. 57
Commento – p. 145
Note testuali – p. 245
Appendix coniecturarum – p. 263
Indici – p. 269
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Monday, April 14, 2014

2014.04.23

Juliette Harrisson, Dreams and Dreaming in the Roman Empire: Cultural Memory and Imagination. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Pp. ix, 309. ISBN 9781441176332. £65.00.

Reviewed by Michaela Senkova, University of Leicester (ms422@le.ac.uk)

Version at BMCR home site

Preview

Harrisson's book, based on her 2010 Ph.D. thesis, addresses the possible change in attitudes towards recording dreams in Roman culture of the second century AD.1 Harrisson sees the documenting of dreams as suggestive of cultural identity, and uses a theory of 'cultural imagination' to explain why dreams seemed important and worthy of recording for the Romans. She draws mainly on literature, both historical and imaginative, with some references to epigraphy, and analyses this material for specific literary functions in order to gain a better understanding of the choices of motifs and their wider significance for the study of ancient history. Her book stands in opposition to the traditional approach that focuses on the content of dream episodes regardless of their literary functions and possible cultural and historical meanings (50). Although the title suggests the prominence of Roman material, much of the text refers to evidence from other cultures, notably Near Eastern, Egyptian and Greek. Modern dream experiences and the ways in which they are studied are used for comparison throughout the book.

The book contains an introduction, four main chapters, and a conclusion. In her introduction (1-22), Harrisson explains the fundamentals of her 'cultural imagination' theory and its application to the study of dreams in antiquity. She uses this model to consider dream reports as part of the 'collective' and 'cultural' memory that forms and boosts perceptions of identity among individuals in a group. Harrisson is interested in the cultural purpose of dream reports, and so is able to disregard the problem of whether these reports represent realistic scenarios. For this reason, she includes both the historical and the imaginative sources.

In chapter 1 (23-73), Harrisson asks what Greeks and Romans thought dreams were, and discusses in detail how they are explained and classified in modern terms. For simplicity she focuses primarily on two categories – 'message' dreams (characterized by a visit from a deity or deceased person passing a clear message to the dreamer) and 'symbolic' dreams (an impersonal sign or omen that requires interpretation). She acknowledges, however, that there are other kinds besides these and that the ancients had little interest in categorizing dreams in this way outside the philosophical or technical texts. Rather, they tended to understand dreams as divine (sent by the gods and hence important) or as non-divine (not sent by the gods and hence unimportant). Thus dreams could fulfill social or religious functions, with obvious benefits in areas such as healing or telling the future. This chapter reinforces the idea that the function of a dream report is determined by requirements of the particular text in which it is recorded.

Chapter 2 (75-124) focuses on dream reports in historical literature. In chronological order it surveys dream reports from the Near East, Greece and Rome in order to identify possible changes in recording habits. Overall, the evidence suggests that only fulfilled prophetic dreams are recorded. Typically these are connected to important people or events, and usually they justify action, often with a political undertone. As part of this chapter Harrisson explores the personal stance of particular authors towards the historical value of dreams and of the omens presented in them. This part of her book is especially interesting as it reveals striking variations. Some authors distance themselves, considering people's responses to dreams to be grounded in superstition (e.g. Polybius). Some carefully choose words so as to leave it unclear how far they accept dreams as part of a 'true' historical narrative (cf. the frequent use of λέγεται by Plutarch in connection with dreams). Nonetheless, the evidence clearly marks dreams as an acceptable medium of cultural imagination (i.e. enough people believed in the idea of dreams' ability to shape history), and one that continues to be used up to the Roman period and beyond. Concluding her chapter, Harrisson considers two second-century AD examples (dreams recorded by Appian and by Perpetua), and argues that the practice does not seem to have changed, especially as the case of Perpetua shows both continuity of pagan customs and their incorporation into the early Christian tradition.

In chapter 3 (125-176), Harrisson turns to imaginative literature. She argues that fiction provides a means of explaining the nature of the dream experience, and that dreams could be invented in order to achieve specific effects. In fiction, an author can describe directly where a dream has come from and why. Dreams can then fulfill various functions in the narrative, such as motivating a character to make decisions or justifying their actions. Dreams can also act as tools for moving the plot along. Harrisson divides her argument according to the type of dream. Divine message dreams, presented by epic poets such as Homer, Virgil, Ovid and Silius Italicus, are often described in complex ways. This suggests that the authors introduce via the dream new forms of information and ideas that are not widely accepted. Message dreams from the dead, for example, allow the reader to contemplate the idea of an afterlife without a clear indication of whether the dreams represent real ghost experiences or are inspired by the dreamer's memory. Symbolic dreams usually fulfill dramatic functions, when their true meaning is made clear to the audience but not to the character. Incorrect interpretations of such dreams often lead to tragedy. In comedy, however, the author often mocks overreliance on dreams through the actions and words of the characters. Harrisson concludes that though we cannot be sure what the texts are making fun of, the sense that the ancients distinguished between rational and irrational scenarios reflects the fact that some dreams were strongly embedded within the cultural imagination.

Chapter 4 (177-226) considers the range of actions taken by people in response to dreams and the customs of dreaming in medicine. Harrisson mines literary and epigraphic sources from the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome for rituals (such as purificatory bathing or sacrifice to the relevant deity), professional interpreters and dream books. Despite some evidence for skepticism, especially among members of the Roman elite (e.g. Plutarch), enough examples exist of dreams being regarded as important in the second century AD (e.g. Artemidorus). The evidence reveals a strong similarity in ritual activity and in interpretative means across the range of cultures under examination, but the meaning of symbolism sometimes varies. This, Harrisson argues, might indicate a common source or cultural interchange, and hence similar approaches to dreams may represent continuity. In the second part of this chapter, Harrisson considers the apparent importance of dreams in medicine. She surveys the approach to dreams in technical medical texts ranging from the Hippocratic Corpus to Soranus, and concludes that dreams were not treated more seriously by physicians of the second century AD. Special attention is paid to the popularity of incubation shrines, in which dreams were actively sought. Harrisson discusses the case of Aelius Aristides, and argues that his testimony does not allow definite conclusions to be drawn. Instead she interrogates literary sources and epigraphic dedications from incubation oracles across the Classical world. While a relative decline in the popularity of some incubation shrines is noticeable (especially on the Greek mainland), others appear to have reached their peak in the second century (e.g. Claros). This, Harrisson argues, might be connected with a decline in population or an increase in epigraphic activity in the areas in question, but she does not disregard the possibility of an increase in religiosity in specific regions. The chapter closes with useful commentary on the epigraphic evidence. Harrisson rightly admits its limitations, particularly the lack of detail in dream narratives from which full reports could be reconstructed. However, she observes that a dream is sometimes given as the motive for a dedication, which suggests that dreams have significance in cultural imagination, even if the recorded dreams were not, in fact, real.

Harrisson's conclusion (227-245) links dream reports from the Classical world with modern perceptions of dreams and dreaming. Because the idea of some dreams being significant has not yet died out, she concludes that the ancients related to dreams in similar ways to modern people. Nonetheless, while significant dreams in antiquity occupied a respectable place within the cultural imagination, today they do not.

Two appendices accompany the book. These consist of a catalogue of ancient authors whose works include reports of dreams and dreaming experiences, with references to specific works and passages, and a series of tables profiling the frequency of dream reports according to the type of dream, the genre of its source and its date and region of origin.

Harrisson makes every effort to make her text accessible to a non-specialist audience, using clear language and including a large amount of contextual information. Comparing ancient and modern perceptions about how dreams and dreaming work is useful in this respect. Harrisson takes care to explain her usage of technical terms, though repetition is sometimes noticeable (for example, the reader is frequently reminded of the distinction between message and symbolic dreams: e.g. 88-9; 110; 146). Latin and Greek are punctiliously translated. More direct citations would have been welcome in places where specific dream reports are discussed at length, but each source is well referenced either within the text or in the appendix, allowing the reader to follow the discussed material with ease. Overall, the book is well researched and meticulously presented.2 It provides an engaging and persuasive read throughout, and with its innovative approach it will appeal to readers from both academic and non-academic backgrounds.



Notes:


1.   The original Ph.D. thesis is in the public domain and can be accessed at Cultural Memory and Imagination: Dreams and Dreaming in the Roman Empire.
2.   There are a couple of minor typographical errors (233; 245), and the use of a footnote on page 265 does not comply with the referencing system used throughout the rest of the book.

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2014.04.22

Andreas J. M. Kropp, Images and Monuments of Near Eastern Dynasts: 100 BC-AD 100. Oxford studies in ancient culture and representation. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xx, 497. ISBN 9780199670727. $185.00.

Reviewed by Matthew P. Canepa, University of Minnesota (mpcanepa@umn.edu)

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Preview

Images and Monuments of Near Eastern Dynasts: 100 BC-AD 100 marks an important advance in the study of the art and architecture of the late Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean and Near East as well as the impact of Rome's expansion and domination of these regions. It is unique in its combined scope, depth of research and chronological focus. The time period within which Kropp has chosen to work allows him to focus on the major developments at the core of the book yet still consider the artistic, architectural and historical precursors and regional afterlives. Kropp explores a wide and diverse group of images and structures, and successfully presents and analyzes both the common dynamics and varieties of cultural backgrounds and responses of these dynasts. The book focuses on ruler representation, architecture and cult among "the six major players of this period, the Kommagenian, Emesan, Ituraean, Nabataean, Hasmonaean, and Herodian dynasties." The book provides a wide trans-regional ideological context for phenomena that have often been presented simply as independent regional idiosyncrasies or speed bumps on the road to Romanization. As Kropp points out at the beginning, this period was so creative because many of these regions had no recent precedents. The strength of this book is that it successfully analyzes each kingdom individually yet consistently puts them into dialogue to elucidate the larger interlocking complex of artistic and political strategies.

The book is a revised and expanded version of the author's 2007 University of Oxford DPhil thesis. While it benefits from a thesis's depth of bibliography and field research, it is clear that the process of revision was extensive, and the present work is mature and impressively clear piece of scholarship. Images and Monuments of Near Eastern Dynasts is organized into six chapters. Rather than proceeding chronologically or regionally, the main chapters each deal with a different topic: portraiture, palatial architecture, tomb monuments and royal cult. Kropp structures each chapter internally according to dynast. This directs the analytical focus of the book towards the broader issues, while allowing the author space to consider the development of individual royal agendas and responses to Rome. By necessity the treatment of each dynasty is not even, as not all dynasties produced the same quantity of material and their creations did not all survive to the same degree.

Chapter 1, "Methods, dynasts, and kingdoms," provides an historical and methodological introduction, and is organized into five sections. In 'Context and the Viewer,' the author provides a very brief methodological discussion suggesting that he intends to ask similar questions and examine a similar range of evidence as Zanker's classic Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. The section on 'Client Kingship' carefully critiques the term, situates it within the main historiographical debates and qualifies his own use of it. In the next two sections, Kropp provides a survey of the 'Geography of the Near East' and the Roman conquest of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East ('Roman Conquest with Leftovers'). 'Kingdoms, Sites, and Peoples' is the most substantial section and introduces the cultures and political histories of each of the kingdoms. He notes that, while many of the kingdoms surveyed used Aramaic, nothing like a 'pan-Semitic' identity ever coalesced around this lingua franca or around any common cultural practices. In a subsection the author critically examines the ancient and modern category of "Arab," situating himself within scholarship that views the term as a social category of people who live in the wilderness as pastoralists and merchants, and maintaining that there was no such thing as an 'Arab' identity until Islam.1

Kropp's control of Hellenistic and early Roman art is evident throughout the work and he successfully and reliably engages and integrates scholarship on a wide range of cultures and regions. Kropp is most comfortable in dealing with those dynasts within the wider Aramaic-speaking Near East, which, indeed, occupy the majority of the book's attention. Kommagene differed markedly in its cultural, political and linguistic history, as did the style of kingship of its first-century sovereign, Antiochos I Theos. Kropp correctly characterizes Kommagene under Antiochos I as exceptional among the kingdoms. Contrasting with the other dynasts, Persian genealogy and Iranian religious practices played a central role in Antiochos I's of strategy of legitimation, even if the 'Persian' cult practices were reimagined or outright invented.2

Chapter 1's overview also touches on the legacy of the Seleukid Empire. Many of these dynasts ruled over lands that emerged from the wreckage of the Seleukid Empire and some, such as the Orontids, claimed Seleukid blood. These dynasts selectively engaged aspects of this Seleukid legacy in recombination with local traditions, influences from Ptolemaic Egypt, and, of course, Rome. In this regard, those regions, like the Hauran, that were largely unaffected by Hellenistic culture, stand in marked contrast. The other important point that Kropp brings forth, which is central to his later analyses, is the remarkable diversity of these kingdoms and dynasts, which range from relatively wealthy and geopolitically savvy players like Kommagene under Antiochos I or Herodian Judea, to more politically diffuse regions or groups, like the Hauran or the Nabataeans. Kropp emphasizes that, other than ancient, distant overlords, most regions had no immediate royal precedents to drawn on. They filled this void with an eclectic group of ancient traditions and inventive new solutions. This is important because it underscores how the Roman advance demanded that each of these regions solve a similar range of problems concerning legitimacy. It also illustrates how they engaged, contributed and manipulated a common repertoire of forms and approaches, creating a larger field of competition in the process.

The next three chapters (Chapters 2 to 4) each focus on one artistic or architectural category (royal portraits, palaces and tombs), while Chapter 5, 'Kings and Cults,' synthesizes a range of evidence to reconstruct and compare the differing approaches to the royal cult. In Chapter 2 Kropp expertly situates the portraiture and architecture of these regions within the broader developments of Hellenistic and early Roman art and architecture, yet provides compelling cultural and political interpretations for the motivations that inspired departures and innovations. As they provide the bulk of evidence, Kropp's analysis of the palaces of the Tobaid, Hasmonaean and Herodian palaces stand at the core of Chapter 3. In the section 'Deciphering Royal Rhetoric,' Kropp emphasizes the importance of display and performance in Hellenistic kingship and royal architecture, and situates the creations of the client kings within the larger traditions of Hellenistic kingship. Chapter 4 surveys the wide range of funerary monuments these dynasts created and their eclectic appropriations of Ptolemid, Seleukid, Roman and even Persian traditions. It should be noted that the period and sites under discussion form a much greater body of evidence than the earlier Hellenistic period. Here as elsewhere, Kropp makes prudent use of the sources and avoids the circular arguments that often confound studies of this material.

Chapter 5 considers the extent to which new Greco-Roman artistic, architectural and cultic practices were mere trappings with no appreciable impact on the meaning of the cult sites, and considers the extent to which these new mediums carried—or were the product of—new cultural identities and messages. Setting himself apart from certain Francophone and German traditions of scholarship, Kropp asserts that new artistic and religious forms did indeed have the power to convey new meanings, especially in commenting on the patrons' cultural and political connections. He contrasts his approach, however, with those traditions of Anglophone scholarship that observe an 'historial amnesia' in the Roman Near East. He argues that the architectural and artistic forms could bear new meanings but did not absolutely determine religious or cultural identities. Similarly, new artistic and architectural forms did not obliterate ancient traditions. Kropp emphasizes that most new temple architecture accommodated local cultic practices, and that clear continuities appear in ritual practice if not in historical discourse. Again, Kommagene and its cults under Antiochos I formed an exception among these kingdoms. Not only was it the only kingdom to engage Iranian religions, it was the only one to produce a genuine royal cult, albeit short-lived and confined to a single ruler.

Chapter 6 summarizes his conclusions for each kingdom and emphasizes the incredible creativity and innovation of the period. Kropp underscores the importance of local cultural context for the ultimate success of each ruler's program. The book engages theoretical debates only sparingly, and the author is restrained in offering extended analysis of the impact these royal creations had on the populace, on other dynasts and on the wider culture of power. This is certainly something that remains for later work, both on the part of the author and future scholars, but this book establishes a solid foundation for such future research. The author is admirably methodologically self-aware at critical points and offers several important insights. In characterizing his approach to images and monuments as 'cultural practice,' he is on solid methodological ground. Following a much more sophisticated approach to sculpture than discretely stylistic or semiotic approaches, Kropp offers an integrated approach that also emphasizes the objecthood of portrait sculpture and its spatial impact. Analysis of palatial architecture considers the architecture's role in role performance, though this could be greatly and productively expanded. Since the book deals with problems of cross-cultural interaction, consideration of this material would have benefited from an engagement with the theoretical and methodological debates of the sort dealt with by Michael Dietler in his Archaeologies of Colonialism (Berkeley: 2010). Though Kropp's book lacks the same theoretical depth and grounding, the author adopts many of the same approaches to the problems at hand. I would look forward to reading future work by the author that contributes to these larger debates in archaeology.

Oxford University Press invested in the book's production and it has paid off. One the major strengths of the book is its extensive illustrations, including 137 photographs and site plans, four maps and a 30 page analytical table presenting the coinage of each dynasty. The author demonstrates a deep knowledge of the numismatic evidence, and the analytical tables in will be a useful short reference to the reader as well as a useful research tool as they provide a convenient entry into the comprehensive catalogs.

Images and Monuments of Near Eastern Dynasts should be in every research library. It is priced beyond the range of a book that one could assign for an advanced undergraduate course, which is unfortunate because it would serve quite well as such. I hope that we will see this in paperback for this reason. In sum, this is an admirable piece of scholarship that will provide the foundation for much future work.



Notes:


1.   This characterization is valid for the period Kropp studies and he is correct to approach it thus. However, his historiographical summary would benefit from engagement with recent advances in our understanding of the role of the Roman and Sasanian Arab clients (Jafnids, Nasrids, and Hujrids) in transforming and Arab identity, especially Greg Fisher's Between Empires: Arabs, Romans, and Sasanians in Late Antiquity (Oxford: 2011).
2.   Kommagene appears to lie outside Kropp's core of expertise; however, his treatment of the royal art and architecture of Antiochos I is sound on all important points. Yet Kropp's assertion that the majority of the population of Kommagene belonged to the same Aramaic-speaking cultural continuum as the others is based solely on 'Semitic' names on stele from Zeugma, and should be modified to take into account the deep and archaeologically well-attested roots of native Anatolian traditions in the region (23n116 and 358n94).

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2014.04.21

Averil Cameron (ed.), Late Antiquity on the Eve of Islam. The formation of the classical Islamic world, 1. Farnham; London; Burlington, VT: Ashgate Variorum, 2013. Pp. 520. ISBN 9781409400707. $225.00.

Reviewed by Kenneth G. Holum, University of Maryland (kholum@umd.edu)

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Table of Contents

This book appears in an ongoing series republishing seminal articles and chapters on the formative period of Islam, defined as roughly 600-950 C.E. The objective is to overcome the "compartmentalization" by disciplines that has affected this and many other fields. A leading scholar will edit each volume, selecting works that have stimulated research and defined understanding. In this case, Averil Cameron ranks as supremely qualified for the task, and she has brought together a group of essays that few will hesitate to approve.

The volume begins with Cameron's bibliographical essay "Late Antiquity on the Eve of Islam," followed by thirty pages of titles representing the cream of scholarship: first edited and translated literary sources, then general works on the sixth century. Then follow studies of military subjects, religion, and visual art, and a group of essays on regions that the Muslim conquerors would soon threaten or inhabit, from Asia Minor to Egypt. Finally titles are included on Sasanian Persia and the Arabs before Islam. It is striking that most essays here postdate 1990, representing the ingenuity and productivity of recent and current scholarship. Cameron judges on the basis of this vast and rich literature that "some aspects at least of the emergence of Islam no longer seem so incomprehensible" (xxxvii). A broad consensus prefers "Late Antiquity" to "Early Byzantium" for the pre-Islamic centuries, perceives both underlying Mediterranean unity in the manner of Horden and Purcell and continued prosperity in the East right up to the conquest, and downplays the Battle of the Yarmuk in 636 as a sharp break. Scholars have focused on identity as a conceptual tool and on related issues of language diversity and translations. Although insisting that material culture is essential to understanding the transition to Islam, Cameron shows relatively little interest in the prosperity and transformation of Mediterranean cities, evident in numerous excavations of urban sites in recent decades, and not much more in the Late Antique countryside, so important for illuminating the economy and demographics. Instead she addresses religious change in the sixth and seventh centuries, drawing attention to discussion of "religions of the book," of an alleged pervasive monotheism, and of issues within Christianity like the persistent debate about the divine and human in Christ, the cult of the saints, apocalypticism, and the veneration of images. Nevertheless, she refrains from proposing these as a specific historical context for the emergence of the Qur'an.

Andrea Giardina's provocative essay "Explosion of Late Antiquity," first published in Studi Storici in 1999 and translated competently for this volume, challenges the heuristic utility of the term "Late Antiquity." Tracing the concept to the art historian Alois Riegl's reaction (1901) against "decadence," Giardina suspects that "strains" of modernity, as Peter Brown put it, account for its current attraction, "as in some unaccustomed overture" (3). In Brown's wake Late Antiquity has become virtually a separate discipline, of which the "lifeblood" is sociocultural processes represented in "sketches" lacking genuine periodization—hence the "expansionism" or even "elephantiasis" of Late Antiquity with boundaries ultimately pushed back to the second century and forward to the tenth. Even the "fall of the Roman Empire" itself is reduced to an epiphenomenon! 1 In Giardina's view, historians need to stop treating imperial constitutions, for example, as "a molten mass of self-referential discourse" and return to the value of such documentation for understanding institutions and politics. Attention to the fundamental structures of Late Antique society, to its "morphology," will permit meaningful comparison in a chronological framework of what came before the Muslim conquest with what came after it.

The next essay, Chris Wickham's classic "The Other Transition: From the Ancient World to Feudalism" (Past and Present 1984), is perhaps the kind of "morphological" study that Giardina had in mind—though Wickham employs a Marxist understanding of fundamental structures. Focusing not on the East but on Italy and Francia, Wickham explains with exceptional clarity the transition from the "ancient mode" of extracting surplus production through taxation, mediated by cities, to the "feudal mode" of landlords extracting through rents. In the West the barbarian invasions enabled landowning aristocracies to withhold taxes, leading to the extinction of the state, but the same did not occur in the East, even in lands seized by the Arabs. From the material perspective, therefore, the end of antiquity, in the West more than in the East, represents a sharp break with the past.

There follow two event-focused essays. Geoffrey Greatrex, "The Nika Riot: A Reappraisal" (Journal of Hellenic Studies 1997) brings under a microscope the best-known urban riot of Late Antiquity that nearly brought Justinian down in 632. Drawing together influential studies of urban mobs (Eric Hobsbawm) and the Roman circus factions (Alan Cameron, Charlotte Roueché), he lays bare a series of events that corresponded well with established typologies of urban violence, except perhaps for the emperor's notoriously supine response to provocation. The broader significance is the occurrence of circus faction rioting and similar unrest in cities throughout the eastern Empire, and of course the implications for understanding the limits of imperial power. A second focused study is Dionysios Stathakopoulos, "The Justinianic Plague Revisited" (Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 2000). This is not, however, an innovative interpretation but an analysis of plague historiography since the early nineteenth century, helpful but not especially influential, and it seems somewhat out of tune with the rest of the volume. Meritorious is its skepticism about the monocausal view that the plague by itself accounts for alleged demographic and economic regression in the century before the Muslim conquest. As other authors in this volume agree, the evidence suggests relatively quick recovery after recurrent plague outbreaks. 2

Next in line is Peter Sarris, "The Origins of the Manorial Economy: New Insights from Late Antiquity" (English Historical Review 2005), which makes a good pairing with Wickham earlier in the volume. Sarris proposes that the bipartite manor characteristic of Carolingian Francia, consisting of serfs working both small plots in return for rents and the landlord's demesne, actually went back to the emergence of a new "aristocracy of functionaries" in the fourth century. These were imperial officials, sometimes senators of Constantinople or Rome, who maintained their local ties in the cities and provinces of both East and West, using their powers of patronage to amass large estates. This phenomenon is first clearly visible in sixth-century Egyptian papyri, consisting of both small plots in synoikia cultivated by bound peasants that the Codes called coloni adscripticii and the "self-working land" or autourgia on which the peasants owed labor. The resemblance between the Apion estate of sixth-century Egypt and the Carolingian manors suggests a continuum from the former to the latter, and ingenious reinterpretation of well-known texts like the Life of Melania and Salvian's De gubernatione Dei makes the hypothesis more than plausible.

The continuity that Mark Whittow has in mind in "Ruling the Late Roman and Early Byzantine City: A Continuous History" (Past and Present 1990) is of the new aristocracy itself, but the focus is on the cities, not the countryside. Taking issue with J. H. W. Liebeschuetz and others, Whittow denies that the well-documented decline of the local councilmen, the curiales or bouleutai, meant the end of the Classical Mediterranean city. Drawing especially on hagiography and archaeological evidence, including concentrations in the cities of precious metals, he asserts prolonged prosperity, and that a new elite, in effect Sarris' "aristocracy of functionaries," continued to uphold the polis in the fifth and sixth centuries while redirecting competitive civic patronage from maintaining bathhouses and gymnasia to funding churches and charitable institutions. This essay meshes well with the archaeological evidence that Clive Foss assembled in "Syria in Transition, AD 550-750: An Archaeological Approach" (Dumbarton Oaks Papers 1997). Focusing on the northern Levant, 3 and on both the cities and their attributed hinterlands, Foss documents general continuity and sustained prosperity right through the conquests of the early seventh century. Cities did suffer grievously from earthquakes, plague, and from Persian attacks (Antioch 540, Apamea 573), but reconstruction confirms vitality, while excavation and survey of rural and village landscapes like the limestone massif in the north and the plain of Batanea in the south yielded little evidence of depopulation and deterioration until well after the conquests. At Epiphaneia/Hama, for instance, continuity is visible in both city and countryside. What ultimately led to "ruralization" in cities like Apamea was less the destructive onslaught of Persians or Muslims than the flight of traditional elites who preferred not to live under the new rulers. Construction of mosques transformed Bostra into a Muslim center, but Christianity also flourished there until the great earthquake of 749 when the city "vanishes from history." 4

Michael Whitby, "Recruitment in Roman Armies from Justinian to Heraclius (ca. 565-615)" (The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East, ed. Averil Cameron, 1995), likewise points in the direction of continuity, doubting that a collapse of Roman military capacities led to the loss of the Levant to the Muslims. Conscription continued. Barbarian recruits made reliable soldiers. Plague outbreaks did not permanently reduce military strength. Generally, discipline remained sound. Instead the culprits for the loss were civil wars and the Roman lack of familiarity with the new and energetic enemy. The next essay supports this hypothesis. In "Heraclius' Persian Campaigns and the Revival of the East Roman Empire, 622-630" (War in History 1999), James Howard-Johnston first evaluates the complex sources for the "last great war of antiquity" in 603-630 that began with the Sasanian conquest of Egypt, much of Anatolia, and the entire Middle East. Then he reconstructs a narrative of victorious offensives in 624-625 and 627-628 culminating in the overthrow of the Shah Khusro II, the withdrawal of Persian forces from Roman territory, and the return of the Holy Cross to Jerusalem. The Armenian chronicle of Moses Daskhuranatsi provides evidence for the emperor's "northern" strategy and his critical alliance with the Kök Turks. Sound financial management, deft arousing of religious fervor, and the emperor's ingenious strategy defeated the enemy despite inferior Roman resources.

Two brilliant studies on religious topics complete the volume. Henry Chadwick, "John Moschos and His Friend Sophronius the Sophist" (Journal of Theological Studies 1974) remains authoritative on the travels and enthusiasms of John, author of the Leimonarion or "Spiritual Meadow," a compendium of 219 anecdotes about ascetic men and women. Widely circulated and translated, the text advanced these ascetic achievements and miracles as support for the Chalcedonian Christology. Sophronius receives less attention. He arrived in Jerusalem with John's coffin in 619 or 634, was elected bishop, and composed celebrated anacreontic odes on Christian feasts, Jerusalem's holy places, and the Muslim attacks. Gilbert Dagron's "Holy Image and Likeness" (Dumbarton Oaks Papers 1991) provides context for impending iconoclasm. Breaking with the ancient tradition of eikonismos, in which established physical features authenticated a portrait or other representation, the icon reversed the process. As Dagron summarizes, "it is no longer the image that resembles the saint, but the saint who resembles his image . . ." (427).

The work included here remains influential, but one might nevertheless question the volume's purpose. It is not for undergraduates! Apart from Cameron's essay, the bibliography, Giardina's translated article, and a blow struck against "compartmentalization," these articles are readily available, in libraries and online. What accounts for the stiff price, to be paid mainly out of overstretched library budgets, is less the book's utility, one suspects, than the publisher's profits.



Notes:


1.   See, however, Peter Heather (2006), The Fall of the Roman Empire (Oxford), and Brian Ward-Perkins (2005), The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford).
2.   More recently Lester K. Little (ed.) (2007), Plague and the End of Antiquity (Cambridge).
3.   For the southern Levant see e.g. Kenneth G. Holum and Hayim Lapin (eds.) (2011), Shaping the Middle East: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in an Age of Transition 400-800 C.E. (Bethesda, MD), missing from Cameron's bibliography.
4.   For innovative approaches see A. Asa Eger (2013) "(Re)mapping Medieval Antioch: Urban Transformations from the Early Islamic to the Middle Byzantine Periods" Dumbarton Oaks Papers 67, 95-134.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

2014.04.20

Christian Laes, C. F. Goodey, M. Lynn Rose (ed.), Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Mnemosyne, supplements. History and archaeology of classical antiquity. Leiden; Boston: Boston: Brill, 2013. Pp. xiii, 318. ISBN 9789004248311. $178.00.

Reviewed by Jack Lennon, University of Nottingham (jack.lennon@nottingham.ac.uk)

Version at BMCR home site

Preview

The study of disability in history is, as the editors acknowledge, by no means a new area of enquiry. However, it has begun to experience a revival in recent years guided by new methodologies, ever-expanding medical developments, and a greater awareness of the complications and pitfalls that surround the subject. Laes, Goodey and Rose demonstrate a constant awareness of these obstacles and by bringing together a series of carefully considered studies they have created an excellent resource for further investigations into the various subjects addressed in the collection. The present volume has its origins in a conference at the University of Antwerp on the 5th-6th September 2011, and consists of a dozen contributions on a wide variety of subjects connected to disability in the ancient world, including two chapters not originally presented at the conference. The overall structure of the collection aims to address issues of disability and disparity from head to toe. This is generally more successful in the first half of the volume, although the later chapters are of an equally high standard.

Chapter one: 'Approaching disabilities a capite ad calcem: hidden themes in Roman antiquity' (C. Laes, C.F. Goodey and M. Lynn Rose) offers a cautious introduction to the subject, charting the development of disability studies as a subject over time, and the problems that have arisen as a result of previous endeavours. In particular, the authors seek to outline the scope of the subject and the problems of terminology, drawing distinctions between the ideas of 'disability' and 'impairment'. The difficulties posed by this extensive subject are numerous, and this is made painfully apparent by the number of caveats and pitfalls outlined in the authors' discussion of previous studies and approaches.

Chapter two: 'Mental states, bodily dispositions and table manners: a guide to reading 'intellectual' disability from Homer to late antiquity' (C.F. Goodey and M. Lynn Rose) continues to outline the problems that previous studies have faced, stressing that attitudes were not static across the Greek and Roman worlds. The chapter proceeds to offer a series of brief surveys of Greek and Roman attitudes over time, including discussions of Homer, Plato and Aristotle, Martial and Juvenal, Pliny and Suetonius, and the Greek medical writers of the mid-late Empire. The authors consider social attitudes and behaviour as much as physical appearances and by raising these issues early on they help to pave the way for subsequent chapters.

Chapter three: 'Psychiatric disability and the Galenic medical matrix' (P.A. Clark and M. Lynn Rose) seeks to examine the social impact of mental illness in the ancient world. The evidence of Galen in this area provides Clark and Rose with ample opportunity to consider a wide range of potential illnesses and their supposed causes, as well as asking how different mental illnesses were distinguished from one another. Particular attention is paid to the conditions of phrenitis, mania, memory loss/dementia, melancholy, epilepsy and senility. With regard to identifying and categorising mental illnesses, Clark and Rose also stress that shared socio-cultural ideas contribute significantly towards the definitions of 'unacceptable' behaviour.

Chapter four: 'Two historical case histories of acute alcoholism in the Roman Empire' (D. Gourevitch with G. Demigneux) considers a case of heavy drinking from Galen along with an inscription from Chalkis, commemorating a man who apparently died from excessive drinking at the age of twenty-two. Gourevitch is especially interested in the opinions of ancient doctors on the subject of alcohol consumption, but also stresses the need for modern studies of alcoholism in the ancient world to consider medical approaches alongside the sociological and philosophical traditions.

Chapter five: 'Exploring visual impairment in ancient Rome' (L. Trentin) considers a wide range of causes for visual impairment in Roman society, in cases resulting from 'disease, injury...or old age' (91). As well as cataloguing the varied terminology for blindness the chapter also considers the curiously wide range of Roman cognomina which refer to blindness or eye conditions. While Trentin acknowledges the severe difficulties that blindness might impose (especially on those from outside the wealthy elite), the chapter argues convincingly that the difficulties have at times been overstated in the past, and that help from one's family and to some degree the wider community might offer some level of support to those afflicted with impaired vision.

Chapter six: 'A nexus of disability in ancient Greek miracle stories: a comparison of accounts of blindness from the Asklepieion in Epidauros and the shrine of Thecla in Seleucia' (C.B. Horn) explores the process of healing within a religious setting. The question of what constituted 'healing' is addressed, and Horn makes an important point by demonstrating how healing might include helping the sufferer to reach 'full acceptance of permanent disability' (120). Under such circumstances, full and successful reintegration into society becomes as much a goal as the physical process of healing itself.

Chapter seven: 'Silent history? Speech impairment in Roman antiquity' (C. Laes) stresses the emphasis placed on public speaking in the Greco-Roman world, and the effect this had on attitudes towards those afflicted with speech difficulties. Laes argues that cases of speech impairment in the ancient world would have similar causes to those of the modern world, citing neurological and anatomical factors as well as injuries, trauma and disorders typically associated with old age. The legal ramifications of such disorders, as well as medical opinions and terminology are considered, with the Emperor Claudius offering a seemingly inevitable case-study. Laes, however, is critical of previous attempts to retrospectively diagnose this emperor, focusing on the literary aims of those descriptions of Claudius' various medical conditions. The chapter closes with a useful appendix which lists sixteen prominent figures from the ancient world that were said to have suffered speech impairment.

Chapter eight: 'Monstrous births and retrospective diagnosis: the case of hermaphrodites in antiquity' (L.A. Graumann) demonstrates the ongoing problems of terminology with regards to hermaphrodites, and uses the example of Favorinus of Arelate to highlight the problems of modern attempts at offering diagnoses based on the descriptions of primary sources. In particular, Graumann is reluctant to use terms such as hermaphrodite when this can, in fact, cover such a wide range of medical conditions, which are catalogued and explained in detail. Brief discussions of the status of hermaphrodites in Roman law, as well as their use and location in Hellenistic and Roman sculpture, are also included. The chapter includes a useful table of literary sources that refer to monstrous births and for each case quotes the ancient source directly.

Chapter nine: 'What's in a monster? Pliny the Elder, teratology and bodily disability' (B. Gevaert and C. Laes) focuses specifically on Pliny's discussion and categorisation of 'monsters', considering the extent to which his chosen examples equate to conditions that might be recognised as physical handicaps, and what Pliny's language can reveal about wider social attitudes. It is notable that 'monsters' could be physically, but also morally ugly. The chapter also raises the possibility that some people could become monsters as a result of physical mutilation. The chapter considers monstra from a religious and philosophical standpoint, but also addresses the status of such beings in Roman law.

Chapter ten: 'A king walking with pain? On the textual and iconographical images of Philip II and other wounded kings' (É. Samama) offers an excellent case-study, focusing on Philip of Macedon to highlight the gradual change in attitudes towards those men (and especially military leaders) in the Greek world who suffered disfigurement as a result of injuries sustained in battle. The chapter begins by exploring the symbolism of wounding in Homer, and the increase in cases of war-wounds that would have accompanied the Peloponnesian war. Before Philip, it is argued, generals were typically expected to exercise caution and not risk themselves unnecessarily. The numerous injuries suffered by Philip are notable in that they were not thought to impede his ability to rule or to command, although Samama also views it as notable that Philip's wounds were not a source of pride for the king. The change in attitudes only becomes visible during the reign of Alexander, who is praised by various commentators for sharing in the hardships of his troops.

Chapter eleven: 'Disparate lives or disparate deaths? Post-mortem treatment of the body and the articulation of difference' (E.-J. Graham) takes a new direction, considering the archaeological evidence of human remains, many of which show signs of physical hardship, and considers to what extent the afflicted were integrated with the rest of Roman society in life and after death. Graham raises a highly pertinent point by observing that for many citizens 'disparity was actually the norm' (258). Calling upon a handful of archaeological examples Graham suggests the possibility that those who had suffered certain forms of deformity were buried in a specific location (but conceding that the act of burial, itself, was a sign of social integration). The chapter raises key questions about how we should interpret the placement of bodies after death, although at times the limitations of the evidence force Graham to stretch her interpretations in order to sustain her overall hypothesis.

Chapter twelve: 'Disparate bodies in ancient artefacts: the function of caricature and pathological grotesques among Roman terracotta figurines' (A.G. Mitchell) also focuses on physical evidence, exploring a number of case studies of grotesques and caricatures from Asia Minor which once again raise the issue of humour in difference, with comedic exaggeration playing a central role. As is noted, however, many representations of grotesque figures are not mere caricatures, but rather realistic portrayals cataloguing the effects of real diseases. Mitchell attempts to explain these phenomena, and goes on to highlight the use of grotesques, and especially hunchbacks, as a means of warding off the evil eye.

This collection will undoubtedly prove invaluable for future studies of the subject, and each separate contribution will achieve the goal of stimulating further thought and discussion. The book is marred somewhat by a number of typographical errors, and the quality of images in the final chapter is at times frustrating, although these points do not detract from the overall strengths of the study. Various themes run throughout to bring the disparate chapters together and demonstrate the importance of the approach set out by Laes, Goodey and Rose. The carefully considered introductory chapters provide a methodological framework that will help to bring the study of historical disability into the twenty-first century.

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2014.04.19

Ronald S. Stroud, The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore: The Inscriptions. Corinth, 18.6. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2013. Pp. xxiv, 179; 4 p. of plans. ISBN 9780876611869. $150.00.

Reviewed by Enrique Nieto Izquierdo, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (enrique.nieto.1977@gmail.com)

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This book is a careful edition of the inscriptions found in the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Corinth, excavated by archaeologists from the American School of Classical Studies in 1960s and 1970s. This volume adds to previous ones of this series, which dealt with other aspects of the site such as topography, architecture or sculpture, and will be supplemented in the future with others dedicated to other miscellaneous finds and a detailed study of the cult and rituals of the sanctuary.

In this installment a total of 135 inscriptions (134 in Greek and one in Latin) dating from the archaic period to ca 400 CE are studied. Eighty have not been published before. Documents are classified according to the type of object on which they are inscribed and, where possible and relevant, according to the type of inscription. The book opens with a section of varia, devoted to inscriptions on stone (nos. 1-10), metal (nos. 11-12), bone (no. 13) and mosaic (no. 14), followed by a broader section on inscriptions on pottery, painted (nos. 15-40) and incised (nos. 41-97). Painted inscriptions are classified according to their content: dedications (nos. 15-21), labels of figures (nos. 22-29), kalos-inscriptions (nos. 30-31), commercial inscriptions (nos. 32-36), an inscription with letters imitating Greek (no. 37), two uncertain ones (nos. 38-39 ) and a possible dedicatory tray or bowl (no. 40). Among incised pottery, we find dedications (nos. 41-50), ownership inscriptions (nos. 51-53), personal names/signatures (nos. 54-72) and a miscellaneous section and incerta with many documents difficult to ascertain (nos. 73-97).

The volume continues with a study of a collection of pinakes (nos. 98-117) and of eighteen Late Roman curse tablets (nos. 118-135), one of which is written in Latin (no. 135). The edition of the enigmatic pinakes is preceded by an Introduction (pp. 71-72) and followed by some concluding remarks (p. 80). The chapter devoted to the curse tablets constitutes in itself a thorough essay of this type of documents: after an informative introduction (pp. 81-83), Stroud studies their condition, the deities invoked, the language and the different hands, the archaeological context, magic in Roman Corinth and ends with some conclusions. Unlike the previous documents and for obvious reasons, the defixiones are accompanied by an English translation. The volume ends with an inventory and a concordance of inscriptions, as well as some very useful indices: a general index, an index of ancient sources cited, and indices of Greek and Latin words and personal names. The book is appended with four maps of the sanctuary, corresponding to different archaeological periods (from 500 BC to the Roman period).

The inscriptions are preceded by lemmata with detailed information concerning the object and an exhaustive bibliography when available. Stroud also describes thoroughly the letter forms of each text and comments on various aspects of the readings. For the most part, texts are illustrated by a photograph and/or a facsimile, generally of high quality.

A renowned specialist for many years on the archaeological area of Corinth, Ronald Stroud has in my opinion written an outstanding volume. He provides an exhaustive bibliography of all subjects under discussion; his comments and readings are always insightful and accurate, and for the most part convincing. As mentioned above, the two studies dealing with the pinakes and the curse tablets, undoubtedly the jewel of the epigraphic discoveries of the sanctuary, are excellent examples of great philological work. Stroud does not avoid the thorny problems: for instance, his remarks on the difficult inscription no. 51, the kotyle of Choirasos, are thorough and valuable.

In the following paragraphs I offer some minor quibbles and objections that do not call into question my overall impression of Stroud's work.

Stroud avoids using the letter forms as a criterion for dating the documents, although, admittedly (cf. p. 2), most of the deposits on the site were highly contaminated and therefore can be specified only as "late classical", "late archaic", "classical" etc., using archaeological criteria. To my mind, in some documents the alphabet allows for a more accurate date: e.g. no. 1 clearly points to no earlier than the 6th c. BC, no. 41 to the early Archaic period, and nos. 49-50 to the late Archaic period, and not the Classical, as mistakenly assumed by Stroud.

Stroud's identification of a type of document is sometimes open to debate. I cannot understand why he does not even raise the possibility that no. 59 [---]πολλ[---] could be a mere dedication to Apollo. As he correctly points out on several occasions, various deities other than Demeter and Kore are attested in the sanctuary (cf. nos. 74 and 79). Needless to say, dedications to deities other than the holders of the shrine are found profusely in the Ancient Greek sanctuaries: e.g. at the Argive Heraion, ex-vota to Dionysus (IG IV, 512) or Artemis (IG IV, 513).1

Stroud rarely lapses into errors and inaccuracies, but some of his statements concerning Greek linguistics are doubtful. In p. 87 no. 118 the editor writes χρες (L. 8), as if ε stood for ει or η, as suggested by the accent. However, since other examples of ε instead of ει or η do not occur again in the text (e.g., Ἡρακλίδην, ll. 4-5) the reading should be χέρες, with a first short vowel attested in Homer and late Attic.2

Stroud contends that ὄνυμα, ὀνυμάζεται in the curse tablet nos. 125-126 (ll. 13 and 14), instead of ὄνομα, is a Doric feature (cf. p. 85). But ὄνυμα is also attested in the epic language and Aeolic poets, where Doric words are unknown. More importantly, the ypsilon appears also in compounds in all dialects (e.g. ἐπώνυμος). In fact, ὄνυμα was probably taken from some poetic tradition, since the defixiones show other characteristics of pseudo-literary texts.

Referring to ΟΡϜ in p. 7 no. 3 (ca 300 BCE; sc. ὄρϝ[ος] = Att. ὅρος), Stroud states that, since forms with the digamma are attested in inscriptions from Kerkyra, a colony of Corinth, it is not surprising to find them for the first time in the motherland. Actually, the forms from Kerkyra only prove that, at the time of its foundation (8th c. BC), ϝ was intact after /r/ in Corinth, but tells us nothing of the status of the phoneme in the 3rd c. Corinthian, given that the evolution could be completely different in the colony and the motherland.

In the following paragraphs I offer some readings that are intended to complement the already splendid work of Stroud.

There are some inscriptions written in archaic Corinthian alphabet, but with unexpected Attic dialectal features: e.g. hιερά (p. 45 no 50; instead of expected Doric hιαρά, cf. p. 44 no. 49), ἐάτō (= ἐάτω, p. 58 no. 73).3 These forms have consequences for our understanding of the history of the shrine, since the presence of Athenians would call into question that the shrine was only frequented by local Corinthian worshippers. The question deserves a more in depth study.

In no. 61 Stroud proposes to correct ΑΙΣΚΛ in Αἰσ>χυ<λ[---], on the assumption that there are not many personal names in Greek starting with Αἰσκ-. This correction is unnecessary. Variants of the name of Asclepius with spurious iota, i.e. Αἰσκλαπ-, are found in the nearby areas of Achaea and Argolis. More importantly, Αἰσχλαβιõι is attested in an inscription discovered in Bologna written in Corinthian alphabet (LSAG, p. 132 no. 40).

A dedication to Demeter belonging to the late archaic period contains the reading ΡΕΤΑΚΑΣΟΦΙΑΤΑΔΑΜΑΤΡ (no. 16). Among other more or less plausible guesses, Stroud considers the possibility of the presence of two female worshippers [---]ρέτα κα>ὶ< Σοφία τᾷ Δαμάτρ[ι]. But a mistake for καί can only be admitted after all other possible explanations have been discarded. In the Corinthian dialect the diphthong /aj/ became /aḙ/ and was therefore written AE instead of AI. In fact, A could be an alternative spelling for a further step in the evolution of /aḙ/, the long vowel /æ:/ (cf. Elean ματάρ with A for / æ:/ from inherited /ε:/). If my interpretation is correct and the spelling KA is not merely a mistake but reveals a phonological development, further support would come from the enigmatic anthroponym Κάϙυλος (p. 50 no. 56), which Stroud correctly compares to Argive Καίκαλος (for alternations between suffixes -αλος ~ -υλος cf. e.g. Δόρκαλος ~ Δόρκυλος).

Let the above quibbling illustrate the interest that this excellent edition has aroused in the reviewer. The material found here and the author's own comments will be extremely useful to scholars interested in the epigraphy, archaeology and linguistics of Corinth.



Notes:


1.   This remark can be extended, though more doubtfully, to other cases as pp. 52-53 nos. 61-63 (Asclepius? Hera? Apollon?).
2.   Cf. Nieto Izquierdo, Enrique, Gramática de las inscripciones de la Argólide, 2009, pp. 101-102 n. 38.
3.   Stroud does not mention that ἐήτω (*ea-e-tō) is expected in Doric.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014.04.18

Adam Rogers, Water and Roman Urbanism: Towns, Waterscapes, Land Transformation and Experience in Roman Britain. Mnemosyne supplements. History and archaeology of classical antiquity, 355. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013. Pp. xi, 278. ISBN 9789004247871. $161.00.

Reviewed by Eric E. Poehler, University of Massachusetts Amherst (epoehler@classics.umass.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

In Water and Roman Urbanism: Towns, Waterscapes, Land Transformation and Experience in Roman Britain Adam Rogers sets himself the ambitious task of elevating the word "waterscape" into equal prominence with related terminology, such as landscape and townscape, which have received both thoughtful theoretical attention and detailed historical investigation. In the same way that landscape encompasses all topographic interests and townscape surveys the totality of urban environment, so too is waterscape exhaustive, including all bodies of water: rivers and streams, lakes and marshes, springs and pools, groundwater and oceans. In bringing a vast corpus of research materials to bear upon a novel question, Rogers is remarkably successful. Equally, Rogers is successful in demonstrating the need for a theoretical stance toward the subject of water in archaeology, perhaps classical archaeology particularly. His attempt to activate this research through such theory to create credible new narratives of how the Romans understood urbanism, however, is not equally successful. I will return to this issue after summarizing the contents of the book.

Rogers begins (Chapter 1) by establishing the purpose of the book and then placing that purpose within the context of previous scholarship, particularly the traditional thinking on Roman urbanism in Britain: how conquest and colonialism drove urbanism and how political and economic arguments have been used to substantiate those claims. Rogers does well to remind the reader of the preexisting people and things excluded by this narrative of Roman dominance and suggests that the roles and meanings of water offer a valuable avenue to examine those predeterminants (the rebuttal of traditional scholarship is picked up again in chapter 2, pp. 27-32). For this reason, Rogers also wants to dislodge the discussion of water from within its locations in built environments, particularly as evoked in monumentalism. More specifically, he wants to talk about water beyond its physical infrastructure: ports, baths, aqueducts, dams, and reservoirs.

Chapter two consists of a set of deep descriptions of five Roman towns in Britain and their waterscapes. These are London, Canterbury, Cirencester, Lincoln, and Winchester. Each was chosen for the depth of its documentation and for the diversity of the evidence. Rogers is at his best here, offering some fascinating potential hydrological histories: showing the efforts of land reclamation at Lincoln (73-78), altered river courses at Cirencester (59-65), and the development of London's waterfronts (39-45). The chapter ends, however, with the conspicuous absence of a summarizing or synthetic statement. Instead, two short paragraphs assert that these five examples can offer a "much more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of Roman urbanism, urban development, and urban experience." Perhaps the ideas that might have been presented here are saved for the following chapters, but the reader is left to wonder.

In the next three chapters Rogers adds a stronger chronological dimension, discussing changes to several types of waterscapes across the Roman period. He does this by dividing the different watery environments and how humans interacted with them, giving each its own section and treating each within its own theoretical framework. Chapter three addresses rivers, lakes, and islands and how these features informed Roman townscapes. These features, however permanent they may seem in our daily existence, are forever in flux and we must be aware of their changing relationships to both ancient cities and modern ruins. This chapter relies, in part, on the descriptive disciples of geology and geography, whereas following chapters look back to theoretical approaches. Waterfronts are discussed in chapter four as the physical and social interface between water and town. Thus, at the intersection of the town—moored in the landscape—and the lapping waters at shorelines, banks, and riparian zones are the physical embodiments of how Romans expected such interactions to be defined: as ports, harbors, and waterfronts. To contextualize these embodiments, Rogers introduces maritime archaeological theory (140-143) as a means to move the discussion of waterfronts beyond the descriptive; that is, beyond the economic questions of ports, the monumentalism inherent in the construction of such features, and/or the architectures built upon them.

Wetlands, land reclamation, and the repercussions of reclamation, such as flooding, are the subject of chapter five. Again, a better established body of practice, wetlands archaeology (180-184), is engaged to advance the questions Rogers wants to consider. And again, these questions rightly push an old subject, drainage, past its traditional discussions of rationalizing landscapes or maximizing value. For example, the question of urban flooding forms a challenge to Roman environmental knowledge, or perhaps to our own misconceptions of Roman notions of inconvenience. A concluding section (chapter six) attempts to bring greater cohesion to the argument and offers suggestions on the broader impact that work on waterscapes might have on the discipline of archaeology.

These sections are unified by a related and often repeated purpose, namely Rogers' project of advancing the scholarship on watery places and towns in Roman Britain beyond the functional, political, and economic modes previously used to explain these environments and associated architectures. The heart of Water and Roman Urbanism is thus an attempt to consider rivers beyond their navigability, to imagine waterfronts outside their role in trade and conquest, and to examine wetlands not only when they are drained away. Such a goal is very worthy of pursuit and Rogers has certainly done well to advance its cause.

There are also some complaints to be made about the book. The first of these is in execution of the project, in the transformation of facts into narrative and narrative into argument. In many places the remarkable depth of research— the simple weight of so many useful facts—has flattened the book's organization and especially its writing. At times the reader feels this weight and can almost see through a paragraph to its underlying outline. This makes it difficult for the reader to hold in mind the argument being made through the outlay of these many facts.

The strongest criticism of the book is that it does not achieve the goal of demonstrating how waterscapes help us to a better understanding of Roman urbanism. This is a distinction of the historical over the theoretical. The book has surely succeeded in amassing evidence and making the case for waterscapes as a concept worthy of consideration in the analysis of urban contexts, but it has not transcended the evidence of a particular Roman town to demonstrate the impact of waterscapes on Roman urbanism in Britain. To put it another way, although the holes in our knowledge produced by the preoccupations of previous scholarship are laid bare and the value of exploring these gaps forcefully argued, what we might find within them is not demonstrated. Instead, the reader finds formulaic repetitions of the claim of importance, particularly at the end of paragraphs and sections, coupled with an abundance of the language of uncertainty in illustrating conclusions. The discussion of sourcing pozzolana offers a paradigmatic example (150-51):

"This [pozzolana] took on a different appearance from the central Italian material and it is important to recognise that the different sources and appearances may have had cultural meanings and actions cannot be reduced down solely to technological considerations. It is possible that the Mount Vesuvius material was associated with myths and stories linked with the wider landscape and histories of this location. It may as a consequence also have been regarded as possessing special properties and powers which made it impossible to consider that other sources of material would function in a similar way. The colour of the material may also potentially have been regarded as just as significant as other characteristics. The use of these materials, then, cannot be reduced merely to economics and practicality and we can also look at the meanings associated with the construction of installations in other contexts."

It is hard to disagree with these cultural possibilities, but it is harder still to do anything with them. Such difficulty in operationalizing these theoretical ideas is illustrated by the absence of any archaeological case study to prove the point. Instead, after this series of suppositions, the reader finds a claim of exportability and comparative value. Let me be clear in the target of this criticism. I am fully supportive of theory building and of imagining in print the human agencies that represent those theories. What is lacking in the text (and promised in the title) is the discussion of how such social and cultural considerations did impact Roman urbanism, not only how they might.

Especially striking in the passage above is the number of words used to cushion the impact of the historical potentialities that the reader is asked to imagine. The book is replete with such words: appears, could, might, possibly, etc. Indeed, applying a quantitative approach to find occurrences of such words in the book reveals numbers more striking even than the reader's impressions.1 Within the 229 pages of text there are 549 instances of words that distance the author from the conclusion being asserted. This is on average nearly twice a page. Another example further demonstrates how the writing privileges the possible over the certain. To introduce the possible, the word "can" is used 190 times in the book, while its unequivocal negation, "cannot" has only 18 instances. These simple tabulations support the reader's instincts and validate a worry that he is no more certain about what he knows of Roman urbanism for having read this book.

In important ways, Water and Roman Urbanism: Towns, Waterscapes, Land Transformation and Experience in Roman Britain is more manifesto than monograph. It effectively challenges the overly positivist interpretive regimes in which Roman urbanism in Britain has been previously understood and demonstrates that human relationships to water, with particular emphasis on urban environments, are contingent and socially mediated beyond desires to rationalize and maximize. What it does not do, however, is offer a convincing historical image of Romans broadly making such culturally mediated decisions because of their relationships to water. In the end Rogers has effectively advanced the theoretical position of water for classical archaeologists and has positioned the discipline to more fully notice and describe examples of Roman attitudes and actions toward watery environments.



Notes:


1.   These quantifications were made by creating an optical character recognized copy of the book and uploading its text, excluding front matters and bibliography, to Voyant Tools. The 549 instances were calculated from the following individual words: appears (69), could (130), likely (59), might (56), must (30), perhaps (63), possibly (25), probable (5), probably (95), should (17).

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2014.04.17

Miko Flohr, The World of the Fullo: Work, Economy, and Society in Roman Italy. Oxford studies on the Roman economy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xvi, 401. ISBN 9780199659357. $185.00.

Reviewed by Sandra R. Joshel, University of Washington (sjoshel@u.washington.edu)

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Although Miko Flohr's The World of the Fullo deals with Roman fulleries and fullers in depth, it is more than a book about ancient laundries and cloth treatment. Flohr also instances how scholars might further understand the everyday work life of "ordinary" Romans by integrating textual sources and the archaeological record and by reading the material remains of workshops as evidence for social relations. Along the way Flohr address some of the major issues that have characterized the scholarship on the economy, trade, and work in the Roman world. Flohr calls his own work "economic history on the micro-level" (5). His book participates in the recent stream of excellent scholarly work on lived conditions in Roman cities, urban infrastructure, and production; it should then be of interest to a wide scholarly audience of Roman historians, archaeologists, and other classicists.

Flohr's "Introduction" locates his book in the history of modern scholarship on work in the Roman world, the debate on the Roman economy between the "modernists" and "primitivists," and the current discussion of the quality and quantity of ancient trade. After a brief summary of the economy of Italy in the Empire (his geographical and chronological focus), he surveys the literary, legal, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence (as well as the painted and sculptural representations of fullers). As the material remains of fullonicae are so central to Flohr's work, they receive careful treatment, especially the criteria for identifying fulleries. His "conservative approach in fullery identification" produces what he calls "a data set of 22 fullonicae in the Italian peninsula" (26). An overview of their locations and the history of their excavation provides a framework for later analyses.

Chapter 2, "The Economy of Fulling," examines the economic context of fulling within the context of textile production, trade, and consumption. Flohr considers the variety of contexts in which fulling occurred—large elite households, small workshops for external paying customers, and large "industrial" fulleries that serviced cloth traders. Flohr's discussion of Roman practices of dress and the cultural need for fulling in terms of what fullers actually did nicely places the work of fulling in a larger social and cultural order. Instead of relegating workshops and workmen to a separate and nearly alternative world to that occupied by the elite and other citizens, he integrates the service of fulling into an urban environment of varied social actors.

Chapter 3, "The Rational Workshop," takes the reader into the details of the fulling process—soaping, rinsing, drying, polishing, sulphuring, and chalking—and describes the necessary materials and equipment, examining in particular the stalls and rinsing basins in the fulleries of Pompeii and Ostia. The latter part of the chapter is concerned with the operation of fullonicae, small and large, including the movements of water, materials, workers, and tasks. Although Flohr himself is well aware of the historical associations of the notion of the "rational factory" in European industrialization of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, he insists that "rationality itself may be a highly relevant perspective from which to approach these material remains" (97). His knowledge and sharp analyses of the archaeological remains provide a solid grasp of the traffic of work and the water systems in specific fulleries. His attention to physical detail enables him to unpack the process of work and hence the shaping of conditions within the workshop.

In Chapter 4, "Fulling and the Urban Environment," Flohr engages with the recent studies of urban space to explore the social and material place of fulleries. To understand "the position of a fullonica in its direct environment," he focuses on the role of architectural typology, the kind of building in which a fullery existed: in a taberna, in an atrium house, or in a large purpose-built establishment (termed "industrial"). Turning to the fulleries in his study, he analyzes how the specific type of structure in which the fullery was embedded shaped its relation to the larger urban landscape. Fulling appears as a "normal element in urban space," and in fulleries located in tabernae and atrium houses, "living and working could be combined without the one getting too much in the other's way" (239). Key, however, is the distinction between fullonicae visible to the street and passersby and those larger establishments that were not easily seen or entered. Flohr concludes that "differences within the data set" in terms of the geography and chronology evokes "a picture …of spatial compromises and economic rationality" (242).

Chapter 5, "Populating the fullonica," focuses on the men and women who worked in, managed, and/or owned fulleries. Flohr is most especially concerned with the social relations on the shop floor. Privileging the material remains over the literary and epigraphic evidence means Flohr turns away from questions about the legal status of fullers and their denigration in literature. For him, the latter approach is problematic "because it asks the wrong questions, and generates an incomplete distorted picture" (243). The "tendency to reduce people to archetypes, such as 'the slave, 'the freedman'," etc. means that "people are studied without regard for their everyday social environment" (244). Rather Flohr focuses on the "micro-scale" and "the social networks in which people operated," opening a "dialogue between written evidence and material remains" (245). Networks involve interaction and communication, and these "are for the large part determined by the size and spatial organization of the workshop and by the audiovisual circumstances in there during working hours" (247). Based on the size and shape of a workshop and the remains of equipment and physical plant (stall, basins, presses), Flohr plots out the movement of workers and what he calls the "communicative landscape." Mapping social relations in and through analyses of the archaeological record of fulleries in tabernae and atrium houses in Pompeii and the large purpose-built establishments in Ostia opens up the varying social worlds of the shop floor, introduces questions about the relation between task and hierarchy, and leads to a comparison of the "social climates" in the Pompeian fullery and the Ostian production hall. Worked out in a series of articles over the last few years, Flohr's incisive use and interpretation of the material remains add a valuable methodology to the practice of a Roman social history engaged with the everyday lives of ordinary men and women.

In his last chapter, "Fullones and Roman society," Flohr considers the men and women on the workshop floor in terms of the larger urban world outside the fullery's doors. Topics here include the permeability of the workshop, the question of tenancy, the social ties of fullers with other members of the community, and the interactions of fullers in the city. Flohr deals with the fullers' collegia and the even more interesting evidence of a fullers' culture in Pompeii (the paintings near the rinsing complex in the fullery at VI 14, 21-22 and the graffiti involving fullers in house V 2.4).

Flohr's "Epilogue" summarizes his major contentions. His central argument, he claims, "is that the relation between economy and society in Roman Italy must be seen as fundamentally reciprocal"; the latter is not "subordinated to or to use Polanyi's term, 'embedded' in social, political, and cultural structures" (351). Some Roman economic and social historians may debate some of Flohr's assumptions in various chapters, others the logic of his terminology. To take one example, his use of the term "rationality" might be questioned, especially since what he means by it seems to be the "efficiency of the production process" (98). In an eighteenth or nineteenth century sense rationality when applied to production involved rather more than efficiency. Moreover, "rationality" carries some particular historical baggage that may not really further Flohr's analyses as much as his own incisive analyses do. Nonetheless, Flohr's The World of the Fullo is an engaging case study of an important trade, and it models new productive methodologies for Roman social history.

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