Monday, November 11, 2019


Anne Bielman Sánchez (ed.), Power Couples in Antiquity: Transversal Perspectives. Routledge monographs in classical studies. London: Routledge, 2019. Pp. 214. ISBN 9781138575264. $140.00.

Reviewed by Gregory H. Gilles, King's College London (

Version at BMCR home site

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

As the latest addition to the Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies, Power Couples in Antiquity: Transversal Perspectives presents current research on ancient 'power couples'. The contributions were first presented at a workshop at the University of Lausanne in November 2017 attended by specialists in gender studies. The aim of the workshop was to identify the significant attributes of ancient 'power couples' and their nature and duration over the centuries as well as in culturally distinct societies. This resultant volume comprises ten chapters organised chronologically, with the first four chapters pertaining to Hellenistic kingdoms and the next five to Republican and Imperial Rome, while a concluding chapter summarises the central themes of each chapter and the book as a whole.

In the introduction, Bielman Sánchez contextualises the volume by presenting various definitions for 'power couples', using examples of such couples in our modern world in order to provide possible comparisons with ones in antiquity. Her definitions are all analogous and make sense in terms of modern power couples but appear to fall short when applied to ancient ones. While in modern examples both partners in the couple have powerful careers, both either being highly educated or equally influential or successful in their own right, these definitions can very rarely be applied to 'power couples' who predominantly existed in patriarchal ancient cultures. Moreover, the author's use of Wikipedia, newspaper articles and popular sources to illustrate modern power couples makes the reader wonder about the intended audience of the volume. This type of evidence would indicate a general audience, but the hefty price and stated academic ambitions would suggest otherwise. That being said, although the premise of identifying 'power couples' in antiquity by defining them according to modern, popular, standards appears flawed, this does not detract from the high quality of the individual chapters.

In the first chapter, on Hellenistic kingdoms, Carney discusses the union between Philip II and Olympias. Or, more to the point, the power triad between Philip II, Olympias and their son Alexander. There is also a detailed examination of the relationship between Alexander's half-brother, Philip Arrhidaeus (III) and Adea Eurydice. The discussion of each couple, including father/son and mother/son relationships, is well researched but the use of a single main ancient source, Plutarch, and the fact that most of the examples of Philip II and Olympias as a 'power couple' derive from the period from after their divorce, makes one query whether they fit the definitions of a 'power couple' set out in the introduction.

Unfortunately, this is a recurring theme throughout the book. It is difficult to reconcile the majority of the couples discussed with the definitions of a 'power couple' given by Bielman Sánchez. Each contributor, rightly, discusses the limitations of finding 'power couples' within their time period. This issue is mainly due to a general lack of sources, the often-intentional bias of ancient male authors towards women, especially powerful ones, and the seemingly impossible task of distinguishing fact from fiction in relation to anecdotes about a couple's private life. For example, in chapter two, Widmer has to redefine what a couple is, by using Aristotle's term of philia (mutual affection), from the Nichomachean Ethics , to determine if any royal couples from the Seleucid period could be termed a 'power couple'. The short answer is no. After a careful investigation, using the term philia to examine royal unions, Widmer identifies the creation of an "immutable and eternal bond [between Seleucid royal couples that] ensured the permanence of their power" (p. 37).

The next two contributions are beset with the same issues. In chapter three, D'Agostini delivers a very interesting argument about Cleopatra Thea's three marriages and how they shaped the political and social landscape of the Seleucid Empire between 150 and 129 BCE. D'Agostini provides multiple examples of female agency and uses the numismatic evidence efficiently to highlight Cleopatra Thea's central role within her three marriages, but the existence, or the identification, of a 'power couple' from any of these royal unions still appears elusive. Likewise, Bielman Sánchez and Joliton, in chapter four, provide exemplary evidence for the existence of a powerful Ptolemaic couple, Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III. However, the reader again finds a lack of testimony in the literary sources, or the various selected inscriptions, that alludes to their actions as a couple with a unified political or social identity, to warrant their being labelled as a 'power couple' according to Bielman Sánchez's own introductory definitions.

The second half of the book deals with Republican and Imperial Rome. In chapter five, Ferriès discusses the complicated relationship between Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra. As this period is abundantly documented, one might have hoped that finally there would be concrete evidence for 'power couples' in antiquity. Alas, the focus seems to be on how each partner demonstrated, or tried to demonstrate, control over the other. Ferriès offers some very interesting insights into the reasons for this union, and the various political, social and dynastic ploys utilised by both Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra, but there is little evidence of their acting as a 'power couple'. There is no question of their individual influence and authority, but if they did not meet "between 41 and 37 BCE, in spite of the birth of their twins" (p. 107), it is difficult to see how they can be considered a 'power couple'.

The next two chapters do a much better job of demonstrating that the couples in question formed a more complete union. In chapter six, Harders again discusses Marcus Antonius, but she does so by discussing all four of his marriages and how each one illuminates the changes, political and social, that occurred at the end of Republic. Harders perfectly summarises the rules for spouses with regard to Roman marriages and provides valuable definitions for various familial and matrimonial terms. Her use of the literary sources and numismatic evidence for highlighting the role of Marcus Antonius' wives in their marriages is persuasive, and a succinct concluding summary clearly demonstrates how these marriages paved the way for Augustus' marriage reforms. Cenerini, in chapter seven, neatly picks up where Harders left off by examining Augustus and Livia as an 'exceptional and eternal couple'. However, Cenerini places greater emphasis on demonstrating the ways in which Livia asserted, or appeared to assert, power over her husband. But while there are copious examples of Livia as the powerful matrona, exerting influence over Augustus and being repaid for her loyalty in his will and by Tiberius after his death, there are unfortunately only few examples of their acting as a couple.

In chapter 8, Hallett analyses a love elegy by Propertius, 4.11, and applies the attributes of modern American political couples, in particular the Clintons and Doles, to the two main characters of the poem: Cornelia, Augustus' stepdaughter, and her husband L. Aemilius Lepidus Paullus. Hallett readily acknowledges that the speech Propertius gives to Cornelia is "totally fictitious" (p. 154) and thus proposes that Cornelia's power is not only derived from her actions as a wife and mother, but also from her ancestors. It is a thought-provoking chapter that highlights the importance the Romans placed on their ancestors, especially in assessing a woman's contribution to the perceived political power and influence that some Roman marriages could exert.

Lastly, in chapter nine, Späth tries to present the emperor Claudius' marriages to Valeria Messalina and Julia Agrippina as unions between 'power couples'. He does this by focussing on their "practices of married life, instead of their institutional positions, [in order to establish] whether an exceptional social and political situation" (p. 166) leads to the formation of a 'power couple'. However, through the analysis of various passages in books twelve and three of Tacitus' Annals, Späth comes to the conclusion that there were no discernible distinctions between the couples of the domus Augusta and other senatorial couples. On the other hand, he does acknowledge that the domus into which Messalina and Agrippina married was no ordinary domus and that if a wife was able to influence her emperor husband, she must have had some political clout.

In the concluding chapter, Bielman Sánchez successfully collates key aspects from each contribution and highlights the common ground between them. She does this by discussing, albeit slightly repetitively, the ancient sources on 'power couples' as well as the public and private aspects to Greco-Roman 'power couples', as identified in the preceding chapters. What is missing from this conclusion, however, is a consideration of the volume's place within current academic trends, especially its place within studies of gender, female agency in the Greco-Roman world and the differences between royal and non-royal couples. The latter would be particularly useful considering Bielman Sánchez's claim that a second volume, also derived from the original conference but focussed on 'ordinary' couples, will be published within the next two years (p. 204). Moreover, since each chapter contains detailed endnotes and extensive bibliographies, more in-depth engagement with wider scholarship relevant to the subject would have been useful.

Overall, each chapter makes interesting contributions to the rich literature resource of academic research within its particular field. The book itself is well produced, with a beautiful typeface and superb detail in the images of the coins, which makes it easy to identify the features discussed in the text. Some contributions could have benefitted from the inclusion of a genealogical stemma, particularly Cenerini's discussion of the complex relationships within the domus Augusta. Moreover, several spelling mistakes were identified 1, but these do not detract from the readability of this volume. The central weakness of the publication is paradoxically the introduction, and in particular its definitions and examples of a 'power couple'. After having read the entire book, the reviewer would have wished not only that the introduction had been more academic in tone, but also that the definitions of ancient 'power couples' had been more attuned to the specific structures and conditions of elite marriages in antiquity and less focussed on modern notions of such couples. This might have enabled the following chapters to cohere more closely to the central theme of the book and, most likely, achieved its aims more effectively. As a result, Power Couples in Antiquity: Transversal Perspectives falls slightly short of delivering on its main objective: to demonstrate that 'power couples' existed in the ancient world, in ways similar to those that exist today.

Authors and titles

'Introduction: power couples: from antiquity to the contemporary world' – Anne Bielman Sánchez
Chapter 1. 'An exceptional Argead couple: Philip II and Olympias' – Elizabeth Carney
Chapter 2. 'Looking for the Seleucid couple' – Marie Widmer
Chapter 3. 'A change of husband: Cleopatra Thea, stability and dynamism of Hellenistic royal couples (150-129 BCE) – Monica D'Agostini
Chapter 4. 'Marital Crises or institutional crises? Two Ptolemaic couples under the spotlight' – Anne Bielman Sánchez and Virginie Joliton
Chapter 5. 'The magistrate and the queen: Antony and Cleopatra' – Marie-Claire Ferriès
Chapter 6. 'Mark Antony and the women at his side' – Ann-Cathrin Harders
Chapter 7. 'An exceptional and eternal couple: Augustus and Livia' – Francesca Cenerini
Chapter 8. 'A lover poet's script for an Augustan power couple: Propertius 4.11' – Judith P. Hallett
Chapter 9. 'Claudius and his wives: the normality of the exceptional?' – Thomas Späth
Chapter 10. 'Power couples in antiquity: an initial survey' – Anne Bielman Sánchez


1.   For a full list, please contact the reviewer.

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Christopher Moore, Christopher Raymond (trans.), Plato. Charmides. Indianapolis; Cambridge: Hackett Publishing, 2019. Pp. xlii, 124. ISBN 9781624667787. $13.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Thomas Miller (

Version at BMCR home site


Both in antiquity and today, the Charmides has been largely ignored as a text for classroom use. This is a shame, for the dialogue is one of Plato's most enchanting and enigmatic creations. The availability of this new, inexpensive edition by Moore and Raymond may make it more attractive to teachers introducing students to Plato.

Moore and Raymond's translation is probably now the best available, being more accurate and readable than both the 1973 version by Sprague (reproduced in Cooper's Hackett Complete Works) and the Straussian version by West and West in the 1986 stand-alone Hackett edition of the dialogue. With respect to the elusive term σωφροσύνη that the dialogue's participants seek to define, Moore and Raymond innovate by opting for "discipline," which seems at least as good as the alternatives used elsewhere ("self-control," "moderation, "temperance," "sound-mindedness"). The rendering captures well the vaguely martial resonances of a virtue championed by conservative aristocrats, although it misses the cognitive nuance suggested by the Greek word's etymology. While "discipline" can read oddly in the dialogue's discussions exploring the possibility that σωφροσύνη is some kind of ἐπιστήμη, the other options do not fare much better in this respect. Raymond and Moore also produce a smoother text than their predecessors in the thorny second half of the dialogue by rendering γιγνώσκειν, εἰδέναι, and ἐπίστασθαι all as "know" and ἐπιστήμη as "knowledge" (or "kinds of knowledge" in the plural).1 The text used is Burnet's, with a handful of wise but minor departures mostly based on the textual work of David Murphy.2

The translation itself is only 34 pages long. It is accompanied by a brief preface, a 27-page introduction, a 71-page "Analysis," and a five-page concluding essay entitled "The Charmides in Reflection." All this is additionally accompanied by a total of 364 footnotes. Assuming that undergraduates are a principle audience for Hackett's inexpensive paperback editions, this strikes me as simply an excessive (undisciplined?) amount of commentary, liable to either overwhelm students or to preempt insights that they could have reached by reading and considering the dialogue on their own. The footnotes also reference a large volume of secondary literature (the bibliography runs to ten pages and includes many works not in English). The paratextual environment in which students encounter Plato matters, and that which Moore and Raymond provide unfortunately suggests that he must be approached with a forbiddingly extensive scholarly arsenal.

While overly prolix, the commentary material does make good points. In contrast to earlier translators, for example, Moore and Raymond in their introduction follow the current scholarly consensus in giving the dramatic date for the dialogue (based on Socrates' opening reference to his return from Potidaea) as 429, not 432—meaning that the opening erotic banter and the ensuing conversation about σωφροσύνη must be imagined as taking place not amidst the heady optimism of the early days of the Peloponnesian War, but in an Athens already chastened by several major defeats and the onset of the plague. I also appreciate Moore and Raymond's general approach to thinking about the relationship of argument and dramatic action in the Charmides. When Socrates' method appears sophistic, they focus on why Socrates proceeds in the way he does and why his interlocutors accept it (if they do), i.e. what the exchange reveals about the participants' underlying views and characters. For instance, Moore and Raymond interpret Socrates' "feeble" refutation of Charmides' proposed definition of σωφροσύνη as a kind of "shame" through an appeal to a line from Homer as primarily revealing something about Charmides himself, namely how his own sense of shame holds him back from criticizing traditional values and thus from adequately caring for his soul (64). Such an approach can become speculative, yet seems to me often productive of the kind of thoughts that the dialogue is intended to provoke.

The need to think about character as much as or more than about argument sensu stricto explains why using the Charmides in the classroom would be both rewarding and possibly daunting. Although it is often categorized alongside the Euthyphro as a "definitional dialogue," the two texts are in fact very different in character: the Charmides cannot be read as offering a sequence of failed attempts that together build up a neat negative illustration of what a "Socratic definition" should be. But χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά, and students may benefit from first meeting Plato in stranger (and more charming) form.


1.   Sprague uses "science" and "sciences" for the noun, West and West "knowledge" and "knowledges"—in both cases with unnatural results. West and West also scrupulously distinguish γιγνώσκειν from other verbs of knowing by translating it as "to recognize," resulting in the odd rendering of γνῶθι σαυτόν as "recognize yourself." I do not mean to imply that nothing hangs on the variation between different verbs of cognition in the Charmides (perhaps part of the dialogue's point is that "self-knowledge" by definition lacks the kind of technical systematicity possibly suggested by the term ἐπιστήμη) but the cost of literal fidelity in English is too great. Moore and Raymond in any case signal shifts between terms in the footnotes and discuss the issue the "Analysis" (see esp. 84-85), which seems to me the most elegant way of handling the problem.
2.   There were, inevitably, instances where I thought that the translation missed the precise nuance (although the choice was often clarified in a footnote). These included: "think" for ἐννοήσας at 160d, "give a defense" for διδόναι λόγον at 165b (as if the Greek was ἀπολογήσασθαι), "have a hunch" for μαντεύομαι at 169b (missing the religious connotation), "was embarrassed" for ἠσχύνετο at 169c (obscuring the connection to 160e), and "impression" for προφαινόμενον at 173a (a surprisingly rare term).

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Friday, November 8, 2019


Hans Beck, Kostas Buraselis, Alex McAuley (ed.), Ethnos and Koinon. Studies in Ancient Greek Ethnicity and Federalism. Heidelberger Althistorische Beiträge und Epigraphische Studien 61. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2019. Pp. 415. ISBN 9783515122177. €64.00.

Reviewed by Roy van Wijk, University of Fribourg (

Version at BMCR home site

Publisher's Preview
[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

This volume is the product of a conference held at Delphi in May 2015. And just as Apollo's sanctuary must have been an inspiring setting to discuss and deliberate how the bounds of ethnicity could stretch beyond the immediate scope of political boundaries and the expansion thereof, so too is this collection of articles a rewarding read that challenges our way of looking at the interconnection between the internal mechanics of the koinon and its external foreign policy.

Some of the papers treat the usual suspects when it comes to koina. Boiotia receives attention in three papers, just as Aitolia does, while the Arkadians get two. The Achaians stake a claim as the most discussed koinon, with four authors deciding to dedicate time and space to them.

The Boiotian triptych starts with Albert Schachter, who uses his incomparable knowledge of Boiotia to detail the friction between the Boiotian ethnos and its political exponent, the koinon. He argues that the creation of this political union was the result of the Thebans' will, rather than the natural expression of a shared sense of belonging. The next piece, by Angela Ganter, is an exquisite attempt to integrate the study of emotions in ancient Greece—a movement spearheaded by Angelos Chaniotis 1—into the history of the Hellenistic Boiotian koinon and its pan-Boiotian festivals, such as the Pamboiotia, Ptoia and Basileia . She masterfully shows the potential of investigating emotions in a federal context, especially for the reinforcement of communality in times of fading glory in comparison with the koinon's more grandiose past. Finally, Ruben Post tackles the question of the integration of non-Boiotian poleis in the Hellenistic koinon. He argues that the political context in which the koinon expanded—a department in which rival koina were more successful—prevented a permanent expansion of the koinon. Additionally, the history of the Boiotians, marred with internal discord and military interference, created an unstable foundation on which to build a true powerhouse in Central Greece.

Achaia is the topic of two comparative papers. One by Kostas Buraselis sets the Achaians against the Aitolians, whereas Athanassios Rizakis draws similarities and distinctions between the Achaians and Lykians. Buraselis reveals some strong dissimilarities between the koina in his piece, with the Achaians more flexible and ready to compromise in their foreign policy, while the inner workings of the Aitolians were more integrative and democratic. Rizakis convincingly argues that we should view the Achaians as the blueprint for the later Lykian koinon and more generally, sees a gradual appreciation during the Hellenistic period of the institutions a koinon comprised and of what it could achieve in a changing world.

The Achaians are also the focus of two other investigations. Catherine Grandjean demonstrates how Achaian silver coinage in the Peloponnese can reveal the inner workings of the koinon, with some emissions clearly the work of the higher institutions of power. At the same time, her numismatic acumen also allows her to draw the convincing conclusion that one of the Achaians' keys to successfully integrating the Peloponnesian communities, as compared with earlier attempts by the Spartans, was indeed the distribution and regulation of coinage. The other paper on the Achaians stems from the pen of Sheila Ager. In an eye-opening piece she explores the limits of ethnicity and institutionalism through the example of Sparta's membership of the Achaian League between 192 and 148 BCE. By employing the theory of enduring international rivalries, which originates in international relations, Ager shows how the Spartans clung to the memory of their domination over the Messenians and other Peloponnesians—and with it their rivalries with their neighbours—and how this emotional attachment prevented the Achaians from ever fully quelling the Spartans into submission, or subduing them into a friendly co-existence with their neighbours.

The Aitolians receive special attention in the articles by Jacek Rzepka and Claudia Antonetti. Rzepka tackles the question of expansion and concludes, after tracing Aitolian attempts to expand in the late 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, that negotiation was a more successful tool for expansion than the exercise of sheer power. Antonetti, in a wonderful exhibition of scholarly acumen, demonstrates how the Aitolians employed their cult network and connection to the Kalydonian Hunt as a force majeure for the strengthening of ties with new members of the koinon, who wished to partake in the mythological glory, a willingness the Aitolians were eager to exploit.

Up next are the Arkadians. The doyen of Arkadian studies, James Roy, adds an insightful piece that delimitates the difficulties of speaking of a pan-Arkadian feeling, since these ethnic claims were only promoted by cities when they served their own purposes. More commonly, it was local identity, and interests, that dominated the political landscape of Arkadia. Cinzia Bearzot follows up on this line of investigation by elaborating on the foreign policy of the Arkadians. She stresses that their policy was mostly dictated by old dividing lines such as between oligarchs and democrats, rather than any overarching dedication to other koina.

Other areas under the microscope include both eastern and western Lokris. The latter especially enjoys the spotlight through the treatment of archaeological material by Nikolaos Petrochilos, as he explores the interaction between the Lokrians through the prism of grave goods and other goods exchanged through the "Doric corridor". Giovanna Daverio Rocchi argues that the difference between local and federal proxenies reflects regional and local attitudes, instead of a homogenised foreign policy. She makes a compelling case, but a striking omission from the bibliography is William Mack's book on proxenia, from which Daverio Rocchi's investigation might have profited 2.

In a similar vein, the friction between local and regional identities is treated by Nikos Giannakopoulos, who deals with the Euboians in the 2nd century BCE. His insightful treatment of Euboian unity shows how local identities—and the politics attached to them—were the dominant force on the island and that even Roman intervention could not promote the ethnic cohesion the Romans may have found desirable to establish.

Further north, Selene Psoma traces the history of the Chalkidike. The collaboration between smaller poleis against the Athenian threat that kickstarted the development of this koinon into an eventual powerhouse was founded on federalist principles aimed at enticing new members to join and subsequently be integrated. Its short-lived history, however, was mostly due to the rise of a new force in the north, Philip II of Macedon and his interventions. Katerina Panagopoulou, in her article on Macedonia, tackles the question whether Philip was indeed responsible for forming the koinon Makedonōn that continued to exist until Roman times, to which the answer is a probable no, as responsibility for its formation should be assigned to Antigonos Gonatas. She furthermore shows how the Macedonians developed federalist institutions under the guise of their ethnos, which eventually transformed the region from strict adherers to monarchy into federal champions under the last Macedonian kings.

Remaining in the north, Adolfo Domínguez investigates the Thesprotians and their relationship with Dodona. This panhellenic sanctuary plays an important part in the formation of a Thesprotian identity, through the contacts with the outside world that triggered a desire among the elites to coagulate into a more coherent ethnos. The centrality of the sanctuary can be seen in the subsequent history of Thesprotia, which as a region declined after control of Dodona was lost to the Molossians.

Other northern regions examined are Thessaly and Achaia Phthiotis. In a wonderful exploration of Thessaly's federal and statehood credentials, Maria Mili demonstrates how previous scholarship has always tended towards a Manichean interpretation of Thessaly. Either it was a full-fledged federation or it was a loose ethnic affiliation. Whatever the outcome, its foreign policy was a failure. Contrariwise, Mili finds a common identity for the Thessalians in the ancient sources and argues that the Thessalians, far from being a failed state, were incredibly flexible. The constant competition between various dominant groups, each with its diverging policies, was actually at the core of Thessalian foreign policy and remarkably enabled it to persevere until Philip II put an end to the region's independence. Similarly, Margriet Haagsma, Laura Surtees and C. Myles Chykerda offer a stimulating reading of the history of Achaia Phthiotis, which was equally marred by divided political loyalties. These were the main stimulus in the early Hellenistic period for the creation of a common identity, in combination with the interventions by Hellenistic successor kings, whose alterations of the landscape ultimately created the political and urban shape of the region that lasted for centuries. These changes were also a conscious effort by the inhabitants to differentiate themselves from their more powerful and famous neighbours such as Thessaly. The conclusions reached by the authors are convincing, and more importantly the article is a perfect example of the proper integration of archaeological material into a historical narrative and demonstrates how these varying sources can complement each other.

I end this review with what perhaps can be termed two odd commodities in a volume about koina.

The first is the article by Alex McAuley, who bravely dives into the complex case that is the Argolid and offers a hesitant yes to the question of whether there was an Argolic ethnos and whether it had a political dimension akin to other koina. Following a brief survey of Argolic history, McAuley makes a convincing case for discarding notions of archaic continuity in cult and other practices in the region, and instead advocates a later development of Argive ethnicity and identity that started in the 5thcentury BCE. Based on epigraphic evidence from the Heraion, it seems plausible that the inhabitants of Argos stimulated the creation of an Argive ethnicity both financially and politically. McAuley then follows that up with a comparison between the Nemean theoric lists from Argos and those of the Asklepieia in Epidauros. The similarities between the lists are striking and his argument that these lists were deeply connected is convincing. Despite political differences, the utilisation of Argive contacts by the Epidaurians to expand their theoric network is unsurprising. One note of criticism I would wish to provide here relates to his treatment of Epidaurian coinage. McAuley remarks, "it comes as little surprise that Epidaurian coin types from this period bear portraits of Asklepios and Apollo—the latter being the chief deity of Argos itself" (p. 139), as a possible indication of Argive financial support for the expansion of the Asklepios sanctuary in Epidauros. Yet that overlooks the fact that Apollo had been regarded as Epidauros' father, supposedly since Hesiod's time and the connection between the two deities is attested from the early 5th century BCE.3 Another would be that an engagement with the new editions of the Epidaurian Building Inscriptions by Sebastian Prignitz concerning the date of the refurbishment of the Epidaurian sanctuary would have thrown a different light on McAuley's tentatively proposed Argive sponsorship for this Epidaurian project and the chronological gap between this building project and the new Argive Heraion that is normally assumed to have existed.4 Nevertheless, these are only minor footnotes to an otherwise provocative but masterfully crafted thesis.

Hans Beck closes off the volume with an article on the Aiolians. Beck meanders through the long-standing history of this intriguing group, who, as it appears, have always been lodged together with the Dorians and Ionians but have never truly found their political exponent to the same extent as their brethren did. He analyses the archaeological and linguistic evidence normally put forward for assuming the existence of the Aiolians, and in the process deconstructs the assumption that the Aiolians migrated from the Greek mainland to Asia Minor. Instead, Beck demonstrates it was precisely the other way around, with the Greeks of later times wishing to tie them into the migration myth of other areas and thereby creating a homeland called Aiolis. The repercussions of this proposal are far-reaching, as it allows us to understand better why the Aiolians, unlike the Dorians and Ionians, seem to have been more loosely associated in the first place. In most cases, Aiolian sungeneia was the result of personal ties among the aristocracy and there seems to be little or no evidence for the existence of a political affiliation revolving around the Aiolians, despite Thucydidean and Pindaric descriptions of genealogical legacies on a par with other groups of Greeks. This leads to Beck's conclusion that the Aiolians were indeed a phantom ethnos. He therefore shows how the notion of ethnic togetherness does not necessarily translate to a political expression, whether in the form of a koinon or otherwise.

All my positive comments notwithstanding, they do not mean that this is is an easy book to tackle for the uninitiated. The lack of an overall introduction—although one could plausibly argue that Emily Mackil's insightful initial chapter serves as a basis for the later papers—and the absence of a general conclusion could make it difficult to trace the fil rouge of this volume. The lack of maps for most papers could make it less accessible for scholars and students less acquainted with the material or the regions in question. The same goes for some used abbreviations in the articles, such as IPArk on page 245. An overview of these abbreviations would have been helpful. Ideally, the book would therefore be read in conjunction with earlier work on the koina. 5 Finally, there are various typos throughout the book. 6 More worrying are the references to books that are then not mentioned in the bibliography or vice versa. 7 Nevertheless, these minor errors form no impediment to the overall quality of the contributions.

In sum, this is a collection of rewarding articles that merit detailed attention and study and will bring fresh insights into the interaction between ethnicity and foreign policy.

Authors and titles

1. Emily Mackil: "Ethnic Arguments"
2. Giovanna Daverio Rocchi: "Lokrian Federal and Local Proxenies in Interstate Relations: A Case Study"
3. Nikolaos Petrochilos: "The Archaeological and Epigraphic Testimonies for the ethnos of the Western Lokrians"
4. Albert Schachter: "The Boiotians: Between ethnos and koina"
5. Angela Ganter: "Federal Based on Emotions? Pamboiotian Festivals in Hellenistic and Roman Times"
6. Ruben Post: "Integration and Coercion: Non-Boiotians in the Hellenistic Boiotian League"
7. Nikos Giannakopoulos: "Euboian Unity in the 2nd Century BCE and the Chalkidian Embassy at Amarynthos: The Limits of Roman-Sponsored Greek Federalism"
8. Alex McAuley: "Sans la lettre: Ethnicity, Politics, and Religion in the Argive theōria"
9. Claudia Antonetti: "Spearhead and Boar Jawbone—An Invitation to Hunt in Aitolia: 'Foreign Policy' within the Aitolian League"
10. Jacek Rzepka: "Federal Imperialism: Aitolian Expansion between Protectorate, Merger, and Partition"
11. Sheila Ager: "The Limits of Ethnicity: Sparta and the Achaian League"
12. Catherine Grandjean: "Internal Mechanisms, External Relationships of the Achaians: A Numismatic Approach"
13. Kostas Buraselis: "Dissimilar Brothers: Similarities versus Differences of the Achaian and Aitolian Leagues"
14. Athanassios Rizakis: "Achaians and Lykians: A Comparison of Federal Institutions"
15. James Roy: "The Dynamics of the Arkadian ethnos, or poleis versus koinon"
16. Cinzia Bearzot: "The Foreign Policy of the Arkadian League: From Lykomedes of Mantinea to staseis among homoethneis"
17. Maria Mili: "Ἄπιστα τὰ τῶν Θετταλῶν: The Dubious Thessalian State"
18. Margriet Haagsma, Laura Surtees and C. Myles Chykerda: "Ethnic Constructs from Inside and Out: External Policy and the ethnos of Achaia Phthiotis"
19. Selene E. Psoma: "The League of the Chalkideis: Development of its External and Internal Relations and Organization"
20. Adolfo J. Domínguez: "The ethnos of the Thesprotians: Internal Organization and External Relations"
21. Katerina Panagopoulou: "Between Federal and Ethnic: The koinon Makedonōn and the Makedones Revisited"
22. Hans Beck: "The Aiolians—A Phantom ethnos?"


1.   For its application in Ancient History, see A. Chaniotis (ed.) Unveiling Emotions. Sources and Methods for the Study of Emotions in the Greek World (HABES 52). Stuttgart 2012; A. Chaniotis and P. Ducrey (eds.) Unveiling Emotions II. Emotions in Greece and Rome: Texts, Images, Material Culture (HABES 55). Stuttgart 2013.
2.   W. Mack, Proxeny and Polis. Oxford 2015.
3.   Hesiod, Catalogue of Women, fr. 90. For this early attestation of a common cult, see V. Lambrinoudakis 1990 ,'Un réfugé argien à Épidaure au Ve siècle avant J-C.' CRAI 134-1, 174-185.
4.   S. Prignitz, Bauurkunden und Bauprogramm von Epidauros (400-350): Asklepiostempel, Tholos, Kultbild, Brunnenhaus. Vestigia Bd. 67 . Munich 2014.
5.   H. Beck and P. Funke (eds.) Federalism in Antiquity. Cambridge 2015; E. Mackil, Creating a Common Polity: Religion, Economy, and Politics in the Making of the Greek Koinon. Berkeley 2013, among others.
6.   For instance, in the preface: "The editors of this volume along with many of its contributors were involved in the recent project Federalism in Greek Antiquity published by Cambridge University Press in 2015, whose various systematic and case studies demonstrated in striking detail…"
7.   This is not a conclusive list, but I will offer several examples here. 1. Schachter's bibliography mentions Rousset, Camp and Minon (2015) but this is not mentioned in the footnotes; 2. Haagsma, Surtees and Chykerda mention Batziou- Efstathiou 2002 at p. 292 n. 58, but this is not in the bibliography; 3. Bearzot refers to Beck 2000 at p. 268 n. 26, but this cannot be found in the bibliography. If these omissions were the result of bibliographical overlap between articles, a general bibliography would have prevented confusion.

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Massimo Raffa, Theophrastus of Eresus: Commentary Volume 9.1. Philosophia antiqua, 149. Leiden: Brill, 2018. Pp. x, 135. ISBN 9789004362277. €149.00.

Reviewed by Angelo Meriani, Università di Salerno (

Version at BMCR home site

This book comes as a part of the series of commentaries which were planned to serve as exegetical tools for all the Theophrastean texts included in FHSG, the two-volume, and now standard, collection edited by W. W. Fortenbaugh, P. M. Huby, R. W. Sharples and D. Gutas, together with other scholars, in 1992.1 It is dedicated to the sources on music, which in FHSG had been edited by Andrew Barker,2 and can be regarded not only as a critical synthesis and remarkable completion of the subsequent research on different aspects of Theophrastus' musical thought,3 but also as a new starting point in the study of it. In fact, Massimo Raffa gives here a number of original contributions that cannot be properly discussed or even catalogued in a brief review, while they will be highly appreciated by learned readers. The volume consists of four chapters; the first is the 'Introduction'; the other three, according to the editorial custom of the series, are: 'The Sources', 'Titles of Books', 'The Texts'; there follow a rich and up-to-date Bibliography and three useful Indexes. In general, the material has been studied with extreme thoroughness, and in particular the discussion on specific technical issues reflects Raffa's great competence in the field and his breadth and depth of understanding of the sources and the secondary literature.4

Though deeply interested in music, Theophrastus can hardly be considered as a specialist in the field. While he shows a remarkable competence on some technical details,5 from the list of his works compiled by Diogenes Laertius (V.42-50), which includes as many as 224 items, we know of only three closely connected to music: a Περὶ μουσικῆς in three books, and an Ἁρμονικά and a Περὶ τῶν μουσικῶν in one book each; some important considerations on music are to be found in a work whose title, depending on the sources, is Περὶ ἐνθουσιασμοῦ or Περὶ ἐνθουσιασμῶν. Unfortunately, apart from one long excerpt from the second book of the Περὶ μουσικῆς, due to 'the unpredictability of the manuscript tradition or the fact that after him harmonic science would take such a direction as to render his approach somehow peripheral to mainstream conceptions – or perhaps both' (p. 1), we have only a handful of short and very problematic fragments from his works on the topic. But however scanty, this material suffices to make us realize 'how outstanding and, in hindsight, extremely modern his contribution was, if compared not only to ancient musical thought, but also to Western reflection as a whole on music, its origin, nature and aims, as well its relation to the human soul, passions, and states of mind' (p. 1).

Chapter 1 outlines lucidly the debate on music in Theophrastus' time and gives background information for understanding the texts; intended also for non-specialist readers, it is divided into three sections. In the first, Raffa explains briefly the main subjects, the methods and aims of ancient harmonics (harmonikē), taking into account the results of the most recent and authoritative studies in the field. He underlines the fact that the mathematical and the empirical approaches to the discipline, with all their differences, were both firmly grounded in the observation of sonorous reality, and makes clear how it was that Plato played a crucial role in distancing the one from the other, and in creating the conditions for the former to prevail over the latter. Raffa also explains briefly the basics of the ancient theories on the nature of sound, its attributes such as pitch and volume, and its production and propagation, giving convincing reasons why timbre, one of the most important characteristics of sound, was disregarded by the ancient musical theorists; emphasis is given to the fact that Theophrastus radically criticised any quantitative approach to acoustics, and in particular to the nature of pitch. The second section 'covers the intriguing territory between psychology and rhetoric, perhaps reaching as far as the theory of acting and healing' (pp. 1-2). The piece is well set out, and the readers will certainly appreciate the succinct account of the theories regarding the relationship between music and the soul. What in my opinion deserves a special mention here is the discussion aiming to show that not only can the idea that music can affect the soul, notoriously picked up by Plato, be traced back to Damon in the first part of fifth century BCE, but so can the view that music can be affected by the soul of those who produce/compose/perform it. In his brilliant analysis of Damon Test. C 1 Wallace (Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 14, 628c), Raffa rightly considers Athenaeus' testimony reliable,6 and resolves convincingly the alleged syntactical ambiguities of the passage. Thus, Athenaeus' text should be construed in the sense that the soul affects the music it produces, not the other way round, and on this basis Raffa develops acute considerations on musical composition and performance in order to interpret texts of Theophrastus such as 718 and 721B in a line of thought originating with Damon; he also explains convincingly why Plato does not say a single word on this idea (pp. 11-15). In the third section, Raffa emphasizes the relationship between Theophrastus' musical thought and the early, pre-Socratic stages of Pythagoreanism (pp. 16-17), as well as the points of contact with the doctrine of Aristoxenus (pp. 20-1).

Chapter 2 deals with the sources for the extant Theophrastean texts on music. A concise account is given of each author in whose work each text is quoted, and the material is arranged in chronological order; the information provided is up to date throughout, and appropriate references are given when further details on the same sources can be found in other volumes in the series. The importance of these pages can hardly be overestimated by any reader of the book, who will certainly keep them at hand while using the commentary in Chapter 4.

Chapter 3 contains a critical assessment of the testimonia for the three titles of Theophrastus's works connected to music (FHSG 714). After an overview of the sources and the arrangement of Diogenes Laertius' catalogue, Raffa resolves the alleged ambiguity of the title Ἁρμονικῶν α', arguing that the work must have been a treatise on harmonics, not on musical theorists, and discusses the attractive hypothesis that Περὶ μουσικῆς is the cumulative title of three individual monographs (Περὶ μέτρων, Ἁρμονικῶν, Περὶ ῥυθμῶν), giving good reasons to consider it untenable (pp. 33-4). After all, our sources assign only three texts to a specific work (716 to book 2 of the Περὶ μουσικῆς, 726A and 726B to his Περὶ ἐνθουσιασμοῦ/ἐνθουσιασμῶν). Thus Raffa, well aware that every decision on which (unattributed) text one should assign to which work can only be highly speculative, points out that the uncertainties about the attribution of texts such as 715 and 717 to a work on music or on harmonics can hardly be removed, and cautiously proposes, mainly on the basis of their content, to read 719A, 719B and 721B as parts of the Περὶ μουσικῆς. He might have added here that it is very probable that 726C too belong to the Περὶ ἐνθουσιασμοῦ/ἐνθουσιασμῶν, as he implies on p. 107. As for texts 722-725, handed down through the devious routes of the Arabic tradition, Raffa expresses serious doubts that they can have conveyed genuine elements of Theophrastus' thought, while he looks more confident in attributing 718 to the Περὶ (τῶν) μουσικῶν, without ruling out other possibilities and, above all, wisely recalling that 'in such cases, a profession of ignorance appears sensible' (p. 36).

Chapter 4, arranged under four headings, which mirror the disposition of the material in FHSG, contains a rich, clear and well-grounded commentary. As there is no room for a full discussion here, I will make only a few notes on specific points. Raffa analyses the source contexts and the loci paralleli given in FHSG in detail; on occasion, other passages not included in FHSG are added and commented on, and this proves extremely useful, as for 715 and 717 (pp. 41-3, 67-70); for 715, Raffa observes that Plutarch borrowed also from Theophrastus' CP 6.4.7 and 6.5 (pp. 40 n. 9, 41 n. 10). The discussion of texts 716 and 717, quoted by Porphyry, is founded on the critical edition recently produced by Raffa himself, while texts 720 and 721A, handed down by Philodemus, are printed according to the Delattre's critical edition, which supersedes that in FHSG.7 Now, while Raffa's conjecture at 717.2 (τῇ διὰ πασῶν) is convincingly motivated, his suggestions for 720.4-5 (τινα] κολακίαν and συνερ|[γεῖν ἄιδο]ντας) remain unexplained. As for 716.35, again from Porphyry, expunging ἡ φωνή would produce an awkward position for the δέ at the very beginning of the clause. Other textual problems are usually taken into consideration and discussed, except for the thorny one at 715.17, concerning the received reading δι' αὐλῶν.

As a remarkable piece of scholarship, this book should be read from cover to cover not only by scholars interested in the musical side of the Theophrastean thought, but also by those interested in ancient Greek music in much broader sense. 8


1.   W. W. Fortenbaugh, P. Huby, R. W. Sharples and D. Gutas, Theophrastus of Eresus, Sources for his Life, Thought and Influence, Leiden: Brill, 1992.
2.   Cf. FHSG 2, 714-726C, pp. 560-83; FHSG 1, p. 4.
3.   Cf. mainly A. Barker, The Science of Harmonics in Classical Greece, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 411-36; A. Barker, Psicomusicologia nella Grecia antica, Napoli: Guida, 2005, pp. 131-41.
4.   Cf. e.g. the discussions on the names of the concords and the structures of the ancient ἁρμονίαι (pp. 16-17), and on the structure of the chromatic and enharmonic genera (p. 42 and n. 19); the explanation of the allegedly corrupt participle δοκοῦσα, based on considerations of the relationship between tension and thickness of the strings (pp. 63-4); the notes on Ismenias (p. 39 n. 7), on the capacity of articulation of the instruments compared to the voice (p. 94 n. 166) and on the expressive use of the reeds regarding HP 4.11 (p. 113 n. 234).
5.   Cf. the famous passage regarding the fabrication of the aulos reeds (HP 4.11.1-7), and the two passing references to musical contexts (ibid. 5.10, 19.10).
6.   Contrary to Barker, Psicomusicologia, p. 71.
7.   Full references to these editions are given in the Bibliography, pp. 121 and 117 respectively.
8.   Although the book is very well produced, I have come across the following misprints and inaccuracies: p. 10.14, delete 'are'; last line, read 'songs'; p. 11.2, read 'become", "to'; n. 43, last line, read 'Herodotus' Histories'; p. 19.8, read πανουργικὸν; n. 73, last line, read '2010'; p. 33.11, delete 'on'; 33.15, read 'as a sort'; 33.29, read 'text 1.213'; p. 36 n. 19. 2, read 'text 1.260'; p. 37.10, read 'qualitative' instead of 'quantitative'; p. 41 n. 15.2, read 'φθέγγεται "why of pipes of equal length does the narrower'; p. 42 n. 16, penultimate line, delete 'to'; p. 44.17, read 'on the list'; p. 46 n. 37.6, read 'philosophers'; p. 53.7, read 'πορρωτέρω' (for 'πορρωτέρῳ'); n. 52.17, read 'in [Aristotle]'; n. 54.1, read '69-72'; p. 55.6, read 'It is'; p. 57 n. 62.16, read 'variation, such as tongues and mouths,'; p. 62.1, read 'every note'; p. 63.18, delete 'or'; 63.24, read 'θάτερον'; p. 64.12, read 'πορρωτέρω'; 64.28, read '1969'; p. 66.7, delete '6'; p. 69 n. 79, read 'Hagel (2010)'; p. 72 n. 86, read 'τε τίθενται'; p. 73 n. 95.1, read 'Jan'; p. 77, last line, read 'as it seems'; p. 84 n. 139.3, read 'the ears'; p. 87 n. 147.3, read 'numeros'; n. 148.2, read 'congruos'; p. 89 n. 156, read '2016'; p. 92.8, read 'δὲ'; 92.13, read 'εἰπ]ό̣ντος'; p. 107 n. 210.1, read 'cantilenas'; p. 112 n. 232.2, read 'p. 74, n. 99'; p. 113 n. 234.7, read 'perhaps'; last line, delete 'the'; p. 117, add the reference to I. Düring, Ptolemaios und Porphyrios über die Musik, Gøteborg: Elanders 1934, which is quoted on p. 66.23; p. 118, last line, read '2010'; p. 133, at the end of the Theophrastus passages, add '712, 77n117'.

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B. D. Hoyos, Rome Victorious: The Irresistible Rise of the Roman Empire. London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2019. Pp. xiv, 256; 8 p. of plates. ISBN 9781780762746. £25.00.

Reviewed by Georgina Longley (

Version at BMCR home site


In his opening paragraph, Hoyos speaks of 'the power of Rome's memory' (p. 1), later noting how it 'remains an eventful and instructive theme of study' (p. 5). Not only does it remain a topic full of questions, it also remains one that fascinates. Investigation into the nature of the Roman empire has been a prominent trend in recent scholarship, for example Woolf's Rome: An Empire's Story and The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, and Culture.1 Rome Victorious: The Irresistible Rise of the Roman Empire makes a detailed, insightful, and informative contribution to the field. Like Woolf, Hoyos does not focus on a single period, but is narrower in scope, ending in AD 212. The choice is an interesting one. Not only had the empire reached its greatest extent by this point, but the year also saw the enfranchisement of the majority of the empire's freeborn population by Caracalla. Hoyos even questions whether the term 'empire' can really be used from this point, as Rome effectively ceased to rule subject peoples (p. 199).

Hoyos does justice to the complexity of the topic. Chapters 1-6 combine chronological narrative with analysis and chapters 7-10 draw together wider themes. Chapter 1, 'Rome Before Empire: Hegemony Over Italy' explores Rome's rise to power over Italy down to 264 BC. Chapters 2-4 deal with the empire under the Republic. Chapter 2, 'Mediterranean Hegemony and the First Provinces' explores the expansion of Rome across the Mediterranean, and beyond, down to Caesar's death. Chapter 3, 'The Provinces of the Republic' discusses the development of the provincial system and its implications for both Rome and her subjects. Chapter 4 'The Political Impoverishment of the Imperial Republic' looks at the more negative consequences of empire for Rome, including how issues of empire sharpened the internal conflicts of the late Republic. Chapter 5 is devoted to Augustus, looking at the challenges he faced internally and externally, and his own policy regarding the empire. Chapter 6, 'Imperial Takings and Leavings, AD 14-212' examines how the empire fared under the different emperors after Augustus down to Caracalla. Chapter 7, 'The New Romans' focuses on how citizenship was used to secure and spread Roman influence throughout the empire. Chapter 8, 'Governing and Misgoverning' describes the nature of Roman government of the empire, painting an ambivalent image of life under Rome. Chapter 9, 'Judging the Empire: Romans and Others' looks at perceptions of the Romans and their empire from both sides. Chapter 10, 'Resistance' more closely explores the different types of resistance Rome encountered. Chapter 11, 'How Roman was the Roman Empire?' describes how Roman culture spread and how diverse the empire remained. The Conclusion draws together Hoyos' observations and makes a brief comparison between Rome and later empires. The book also contains maps of Rome under the Republic and under the Caesars (pp. x-xiv) and a useful Appendix on the literary and material sources of the period. Hoyos' use of evidence is very good throughout, citing ancient sources appropriately, particularly when discussing peoples' perceptions of the empire or portrayals of Roman rule or the Romans.

Five key themes are central to Hoyos' investigation: (1) the motives that lay behind the empire's formation, (2) the inextricable tie between the difficulties that arose from governing the empire and internal politics, (3) the perceptions held by Romans and provincials of the empire, (4) modes of expansion, (5) the challenges Roman rule faced and the consequences of governing so vast an empire for both Romans and provincial subjects.

(1) 'Roman motives for expansion, like the circumstances and the personalities, surely varied over the centuries' (p. 3). Hoyos sees individual striving for gloria and the lust for booty on the part of the elite and ordinary Romans as a key driving force in the early days of expansion, a picture similar to W. V. Harris'. 2 The Romans may not have set out to gain their huge empire, but they in no way acquired it passively (p. 193). In chapter 1, Hoyos draws a connection between Rome's military drive and the competitive elite that emerged with Rome's new Republican system of government. Military gloria was the key to achieving popularity. Nor did gloria disappear as a motive among the emperors, as he shows in chapters 5 and 6. For Augustus, Claudius, Trajan, and Septimius Severus, gloria served to legitimize their power. However, Hoyos gives a nuanced analysis of Roman motives. Strategic and defensive concerns could govern their actions. He argues that the aim of the First Punic War was to keep a check on Carthaginian power (p. 40). Hoyos argues that a more aggressive expansionist drive appeared with Pompey's campaigns in the 60s, continuing into the 50s. The first century AD saw a greater shift towards consolidation and development, although expansion continued (p. 111; p. 199). Chapter 5 gives a complex view of Augustus' motives which included gloria and expansion, as well as securing Roman imperial power.

(2) Hoyos importantly emphasises the link between Rome's internal politics and problems related to governing and maintaining the empire, particularly under the Republic. Towards the end of chapter 2, Hoyos describes how Rome's Eastern wars had brought great riches to victorious generals, which they used to strengthen their power back in Rome (p.38). The link between empire and politics went deeper. He argues that issue over the empire's revenues and their deployment fuelled and sharpened the conflict between the optimates and populares that escalated from 133 BC onwards, when Tiberius Gracchus directly challenged the senate by using the Attalid bequest to fund his land grants, raising the question of who should benefit from the rewards of empire. Nevertheless, it was members of the elite who amassed vast fortunes (pp. 66-67), while ordinary soldiers could find themselves dispossessed or crushed by debt (p. 77). Hoyos rejects the traditional view that the conflicts of the late Republic revealed the inadequacy of Rome's city-state government, arguing rather that excessively wealthy individuals 'lacked willingness to abide by the norms under which they had grown up' (p. 81). Struggles between these wealthy individuals eventually culminated in Augustus. Hoyos shows how as Roman politics and government came to focus on the power and person of Augustus, so did the empire. Senatorial control over senatorial provinces 'went as far as the emperor wished' (p. 89).

(3) Throughout Hoyos keeps a consistent focus on the perceptions of the Romans and their empire from both sides. An ambivalent picture emerges; Rome appears as both exploitative, yet at times benevolent. The Romans perceived their empire as justified and Hoyos concedes that some conflicts could be perceived as such, for example, the Aetolians in 192 BC. However, he in no way depicts the Romans as defensive or reluctant in their imperialism. He rightly observes a sense of entitlement which became part of Roman self-identity early on, accompanied with a belief in divine favour, using literary and epigraphic sources in support (pp. 160-163).3 Roman extortion of the provinces reflected Roman belief that the revenues of empire were for their benefit (p. 69). Attempts to establish a system of redress under the Republic largely failed. Hoyos points out how this led to feelings of resentment among Rome's allies, resulting in serious conflicts, such as the wars with Mithridates that followed the Asiatic vespers (p. 36). Corruption did not completely disappear under the emperors, as Nero's extortions for his building project show (p. 147). Nevertheless, the image is not completely gloomy. In chapter 8, Hoyos shows how some areas saw an improvement in urban infrastructure (pp. 149-153) and that scrupulous governors did exist, citing examples of more conscientious individuals (pp. 155-157).

(4) Hoyos' definition of expansion is significantly not confined simply to increasing territorial gains, but also includes the spread of Greco-Roman culture and conferral of statuses, such as citizenship. Expansion could be achieved in several ways. 'It was through influence, though, not control' writes Hoyos about the nature of Rome's early power. Rome would further use that influence to enrich those that favoured her hegemony, for example, Pergamum (p. 26). The Romans were initially reluctant to take on direct control through annexation, but Hoyos notes an increasing harshness in Rome's approach during the 160s-140s BC, starting with the Third Macedonian War (pp. 27-32).4 However, he also shows that expansion did not occur only through military action or diplomatic interventions. As the empire grew territorially, Roman control was spread and strengthened in other ways. Migration and colonies were one, planting Roman influence directly in the provinces (pp. 56-60). He sees citizenship as an important way the empire 'expanded', and grants increased during the late Republic and under the emperors. An important consequence was the widening participation and integration of provincials in Roman society; they became consuls, emperor's staff, and even emperors. Provincial citizens even came to outnumber Italians in the army (p. 138). In chapter 11, Hoyos shows that, although locals were actively encouraged to adopt Roman ways as Tacitus' Agricola shows; Roman culture could, nevertheless, be adopted willingly at the local level. He also points to the religious and linguistic diversity of the empire. Religions were generally left alone unless perceived as a threat, for example, Christianity (pp. 188-190). Hoyos also shows the imperial cult to have been important in affirming Roman power: 'Across the vast empire … the worship of the ruler … constituted one of the key bonds of overt loyalty' (p. 192).

(5) The final theme 'Resistance' is explored throughout the narrative of chapters 1-6 and forms the focus of chapter 10. Chapter 10 recounts the different forms of resistance Rome encountered. 'With its mix of virtues and vices, Roman imperial rule was never free from challenge or defiance' (p. 170). New conquest often met with resistance, for example, in Spain, Gaul, Pannonia and Dalmatia, and it would resurface. Resistance could be a reaction to Rome's own conduct, for example, extortion, excessive demands, or border encroachments (pp. 171-172). The chapter goes on to focus on particularly serious revolts: the revolt under Boudicca AD 61, the revolts in the Rhineland and Gaul in AD 69, and the Jewish revolt in AD 66. All these saw a period of relative quiet following successful suppression by Rome. Despite their success, funding the army was a strain for the later emperors and Hoyos implies this was why legion numbers rose only slightly after Augustus, although these numbers made fighting on different fronts simultaneously a risky venture (p. 115).5

The reviewer has only two criticisms which by no means hamper the overall success of the book. Chapter 6 feels rather compressed, covering all the remaining emperors after Augustus down to Caracalla. Individual emperors cannot be discussed in the same detail as Augustus' in chapter 5. Nevertheless, the point and focus of the chapter is clear, namely the victories and struggles of the empire, the differing motivations and abilities of different emperors, and their impact on the empire. This may in fact be Hoyos' point in dealing with them all in one chapter, to make the contrast between the different personalities and approaches clear. Secondly, although Hoyos describes the varying opinions of modern scholars on key issues, these scholars could more usefully have been named in the main body of the text, footnotes, or in bibliographic sections at the end of chapters. However, Hoyos, as the above shows, has achieved a rich account of the rise of the Roman empire, both chronologically and thematically. The book offers an excellent introduction to and overview of the subject. His lucid style also makes this a highly enjoyable read.


1.   Woolf, G., Rome: An Empire's Story (Oxford, 2013); Garnsey, P., Saller, R., et al., The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, and Culture (Oakland, California, 2014 edition).
2.   See Harris, W. V., War and Imperialism in Republican Rome 327-70 BC (Oxford, 1985).
3.   On this issue, see Brunt, 'Laus Imperii' repr. in P. A. Brunt Roman Imperial Themes (Oxford, 1990): 288-323.
4.   Traditionally dubbed Rome's nova sapientia. See for example, Briscoe, 'Q. Marcus Philippus and Nova Sapientia', JRS vol.54 (1964): 66-77.
5.   For more detail, see Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third (Johns Hopkins, 2016 edition): 94-98.

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