Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Clinton DeBevoise Corcoran, Topography and Deep Structure in Plato: The Construction of Place in the Dialogues. SUNY series in ancient Greek philosophy. Albany: SUNY Press, 2016. Pp. xi, 289. ISBN 9781438462691. $90.00.

Reviewed by Geoff Bakewell, Rhodes College (bakewellg@rhodes.edu)

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Corcoran claims that metaphysical concerns drive Plato's use of (what non-philosophers might call) Athenian Realien. As Corcoran puts it, "the Good structures all dimensions of the natural and human worlds, and . . . also serves as a guide for Plato's construction of his settings, themes, and the various narrative uses of space-time in the dialogues" (1). The Divided Line and the Allegory of the Cave are central to his argument, which focuses primarily on Republic, Menexenus, Timaeus, Critias, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, and Symposium. According to Corcoran, Plato inflects place and history in non-naturalistic ways, thereby offering readers a transcendent experience of the Forms and of the Good that unites them. Clearly written and engaging, Corcoran's book is a welcome reminder we should read broadly across the Platonic corpus, alert to the possibility that even the minutest details of individual dialogues carry metaphysical weight. Yet Corcoran's book does not achieve its potential: it is stronger on metaphysical matters than topographical ones, and contains numerous grammatical infelicities and typos. The following paragraphs provide a brief summary of the contents, followed by some criticisms.

Ch. 1, "Descent into the Maelstrom," argues that the Republic's dramatic setting is deeply connected to its philosophical content. For Corcoran, the Long Walls and circuit wall of Piraeus provide a real-life counterpart to the Cave, into which the dialogue's primary interlocutors descend. While in the port, they work in a gloom spread by politician-puppeteers like Themistocles, Cimon, and Pericles, whose creation of and support for these same fortifications constitutes a deception of the Athenian public. Moreover, the torchlight and shadow of the pannychis are said to call to mind both the Eleusinian Mysteries and visits to the Trophonium at Levadia. The philosopher gains knowledge not from descent in darkness, but ascent amid light. In short, Plato has constructed "a philosophic model and journey that creates a mystic connection of all objects in the Realm of Becoming to the invisible Forms in the Realm of Being" (36). Ch. 2, "The Menexenus, Socrates, and the Battle of Arginusae," explores the dialogue's cooption of the genre of the epitaphios. Conflating past, present, and future, Plato uses the dramatic date of 386 BCE to present Socrates as a psychagogue returned from the dead, who addresses both the Menexenoi (his friend and his son) and his city all at once. "While most funeral speeches are the survivors' exhortations to live up to the deeds of the dead, Socrates's specter haunts his countrymen, warning them not to repeat their errors" (62). In its preference for empire and rhetoric over self-control and philosophy, Athens proves more dead than the man it executed.

Ch. 3, "The Symbolism in the City Plan of Plato's Atlantis," argues that Timaeus and Critias provide a critical perspective on Athenian history. The former "presents us with four slices, or snapshots, of Athens in time: (1) Ur-Athens, (2) the dramatic setting in Athens during the [Peloponnesian] war, (3) the hyperbolic form of Athens's present seen as Atlantis, and finally (4) a retrospective perspective of the post-war Athens from the dialogue's [later] composition date" (74). Corcoran further suggests that Atlantis' rings and roads, canals, bridges and walls resemble Pericles' dream of an island realm possessed of an unrivaled navy. Plato's Atlantis is thus the archetypal "flawed Form" (74) of an aggressively imperial, maritime city.

Ch. 4, "The Slow Boat from Delos, or Socrates's Ship Comes In?," examines the approach of Socrates' execution as depicted in the Crito and Phaedo, arguing that Plato creates uncertainty about when the state galley will return from Delos to expound on the proper relationship between divination and philosophy. Socrates' (ultimately correct) dream that he will not (contra Crito) be executed until the third day establishes him as a clear-eyed devotee of Apollo; his last-minute turn to hymnody allows him to participate vicariously in the Delian festival and redeem the city by his philosophical activity. According to Corcoran, "it is not the Athenian theoric delegation that needs to avoid the pollution of Socrates's execution, but rather Apollo who delays Socrates's death so that Socrates may purify the Athenians' defilements of his festival" (114). Put differently, "Socrates has divined the real source of the Athenians' curse . . . [it] is the plague of pleonexia brought on by Athens" (114).

Ch. 5, "Wrestling and the Fair Fight in Plato," argues that Plato's wrestling metaphors have important aesthetic, ethical and educational dimensions, and that he employs them hierarchically: upright wrestling is better than ground wrestling, which is in turn superior to the disreputable pankration. Socrates' agonistic rounds with his interlocutors, especially in Phaedrus, Republic, and Symposium assume added importance: in each instance, one or more souls are riding on the outcome of the dialogues' discussions. For Plato, winning the wrong way is worse than losing. As Corcoran puts it, "proper philosophic argument, like proper wrestling, is concerned primarily with the correct practice and form of the art, with correctly developing an idea" (130).

Ch. 6, "The Good as Architectonic," sums up the many ways in which Corcoran understands the Good to be the primary force shaping all features of Plato's dialogues. Taken together, these means establish the philosopher as the only figure able to "negotiate the manifold pitfalls of immorality and achieve true immortality" (159). In their devotion to Being, Socrates and his adepts stand in opposition to the mythic creature Glaukos, whose attachment to the realm of Becoming accounts for his misshapen appearance. And the topography of Plato's several afterworlds (in Phaedo, Republic, Gorgias, and Phaedrus) "approximate[s] the structure of the soul, city, and universe, [thereby providing] models for an ordered life" (163). Corcoran concludes that for Plato, "the good life is exactly the one that is self-limiting and ordered according to its essence; the bad life is the indiscriminate and unlimited one. The nature of a thing, person, or complex sets its limit according to its form, what is just for it" (165).

One criticism of Corcoran's book is that it is light on topography as commonly understood. By insisting that Plato everywhere subordinates particularity of place to metaphysical concerns, Corcoran makes it difficult to assess his argument in empirical terms. Yet Nails has argued persuasively that in general Plato allowed himself less rather than more poetic license.1 Thucydides offers an interesting counterpoint in this regard. Like his near-contemporary Plato, Thucydides stressed the contrast between opinion and knowledge, the difficulty in acquiring the latter, and the gulf between the mistaken many and the thoughtful few.2 Yet the historian stated that the truth was rooted in careful study of the concrete past. Was this really the case, or did his ktema es aei emerge out of imagined speeches and skillful juxtapositions? Either way, Thucydides relied on particular presentation of specific detail to make his case. What level of verisimilitude was required for the reader to perceive the "expansion, compression, superimposition, telescoping, and interdimensionality in time, space, and action" (14) that Plato allegedly undertook in service to the Forms and the Good? Consider for instance Corcoran's treatment of the journey of Socrates and Glaucon at the beginning of Republic, on which much rests. He claims in a footnote that "the descent to the Piraeus, of course, would be between the Long Walls of Athens" (183 n.3). Yet the exterior cart track running just to the north was also a distinct, and arguably more likely, possibility.3 If so, then Corcoran's elaborate analogy with the Allegory of the Cave loses luster. And his embrace of the view that Plato promoted an "esoteric doctrine" (9) accessible only to the few complicates matters yet further.

With regard to time, Corcoran's Plato seems obsessed by the Sicilian expedition of 415. Yet equally formative for the young man was the struggle between oligarchs and democrats in the last decade of the fifth century. Indeed, Socrates' route at the beginning of the Republic likely took him past Mounychia; Plato may have wanted to remind his readers of the recent civil war, and of tyranny more generally. Yet the Thirty and their overthrow are largely missing from Corcoran's account, as are Plato's later activities in Sicily. These episodes seem every bit as aktuell for the broader political and educational themes of the Republic.

Significant bibliographic gaps sometimes occur. Ch. 1's discussion of the Bendideia betrays no knowledge of Parker or Wijma;4 Ch. 3 relies primarily on Jacoby for the patrios nomos and demosion sema, while neglecting Clairmont and Arrington; 5 Aleshire is missing from Ch. 4's discussion of the Athenian Asclepieion.6

Despite these flaws, Corcoran's book is worth reading. It tackles a challenging and understudied topic, uses a wide range of sources, and does so intelligently. If the results ultimately contribute more to metaphysics than topography, that is perhaps to be expected in a written work striving to transcend the physical and reach the Realm of Being.


1.   Debra Nails, The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics Indianapolis, 2002, 307-308.
2.   On the relationship between the two figures and their work, see e.g. Mark Munn, The School of History: Athens in the Age of Socrates, Berkeley, 2000.
3.   Robert Garland, The Piraeus, London, 1987, 144-145.
4.   Robert Parker, Athenian Religion: A History, Oxford, 1996, 170-175; Sara Wijma, Embracing the Immigrant: The participation of metics in Athenian polis religion (5th-4th century BC), Stuttgart, 2014, 126-155.
5.   Christoph Clairmont, Patrios Nomos: Public Burial in Athens during the Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C.: The Archaeological, Epigraphic-Literary, and Historical Evidence, Oxford, 1983; Nathan Arrington, "Topographic Semantics: The Location of the Athenian Public Cemetery and its Significance for the Nascent Democracy," Hesperia 79 (2010), 499-539.
6.   Sara Aleshire, The Athenian Asklepieion: The People, their Dedications, and the Inventories, Amsterdam, 1989.

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Jean-Baptiste Gourinat, Plotin. Traité 20: Qu'est-ce que le dialectique? Bibliothèque des textes philosophiques; Les écrits de Plotin. Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 2016. Pp. 307. ISBN 9782711626946. €25.00 (pb).

Reviewed by John Dillon, Trinity College Dublin (jmdillon@eircom.net)

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Table of Contents

We have here another welcome addition to the French series of editions of the tractates of Plotinus initiated by Pierre Hadot, and now being carried on by Gwenaelle Aubrey and Dominic O'Meara. I 3, On Dialectic, is a short treatise, but a significant one, and Gourinat has given it the full treatment—186 pages of commentary to 18 pages of text (and even of those 18 pages over half are footnotes!). But we are not complaining; it is all valuable.

He begins with a most useful and comprehensive introduction, divided into 'Structure' and 'Themes'. The first thing to be noted is that, although we might think of 'dialectic' as part of Logic, Plotinus does not see it that way. Indeed, Plotinus does not deal with explicitly 'logical' themes—in an Aristotelian sense—anywhere in his published work, so that Porphyry has no section reserved for Logic in the Enneads. The present treatise is taken as concerning ethics, and is thus included in the first Ennead, which is devoted to ethical themes. Indeed, as Gourinat points out (in accord with many before him), it can be viewed, if not as an appendix, at least as a sort of complement to the tractate preceding it in both Porphyry's thematic and chronological order, I 2 [19]: 'On Virtues'. There Plotinus sets out an ascending order of levels of virtue, and 'dialectic' may be seen as the method to be employed in this ascent.

Under the heading of 'Themes', Gourinat discusses such matters as why Plotinus composed the treatise, how he constructed it, and what are the chief themes dominating it. A first matter to note is that Plotinus' choice of three types of person, the Musician, the Lover and the Philosopher, who are suitable candidates for ascent to the intelligible (and beyond) is based on a rather formalized interpretation of Plato's mention of these three types at Phdr. 248d. Plato in fact rather lumps all these together, to characterize one "who is a lover of wisdom and beauty, a follower of the Muses [mousikos, in the sense of a lover of the arts in general], and a lover", but Plotinus firmly distinguishes them into three types of person, in ascending order of dignity and understanding the mousikos strictly in the sense of a musician. The musician is at the lowest level of potential enlightenment, as being a lover of sounds, hearing being regarded as inferior to sight. The lover (erōtikos) comes one stage higher, as being a lover of sights; but both of these require a good guide or teacher to ensure that they rise above the love of physical sounds or sights to an appreciation of the intellectual beauties underlying these. Only the natural philosopher can make his or her own way upwards.

All this Gourinat sets out very lucidly and helpfully, both in the introduction and in his commentary on the first three chapters. That commentary, it must be said, tends to err on the side of copiousness. That is not, admittedly, a very serious complaint, but it does make it difficult, on occasion, to see the wood for the trees. For example, the first nine lines of ch. 4, where Plotinus propounds the question 'What is Dialectic?' and proceeds to give a fairly succinct answer, provoke a total of 24 pages of commentary, in which we are taken through all previous definitions of dialectic, particularly those of Plato himself and the Stoics, but in the course of which many interesting points are made. Here, and in his commentary on the rest of the chapter, Gourinat helpfully discusses the processes of division and analysis as components of dialectic, its ultimate attainment of 'tranquility' (hēsykhia, and Plotinus' strong distinction between it and 'logic', relegating the latter to the status of an 'instrument' (organon) of philosophy.

The topic of dialectic and its status within philosophy continues into ch. 5, where Plotinus identifies it as 'the noble (timion) part of philosophy', and its role in the definition of Being and 'what is beyond Being'—emphasizing again its distinctness from logic as mere organon. Gourinat discusses the Peripatetic and Stoic background to this very soundly, and in considerable detail.

Lastly, there is ch. 6, focusing on the role of dialectic in structuring both physics and ethics, which has been viewed by earlier commentators, such as Heinemann and Harder, as somewhat anomalous, and not cohering very well with the previous five chapters; but Gourinat demonstrates very well that, far from being so, it provides a suitable capstone to the little treatise, and further that it connects it in an interesting way to the subject-matter of the previous treatise On the Virtues (I 2 [19]), by showing how dialectic converts 'natural' virtues into 'higher' or rational virtues.

The volume is completed by a bibliography and a full set of indices, comprising both the ancient and modern authors quoted in the notes, an index of Greek terms, and a general index.

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Oliver Grote, Die griechischen Phylen: Funktion – Entstehung – Leistungen. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016. Pp. 284. ISBN 9783515114509. €52.00.

Reviewed by James Kierstead (jameskierstead@hotmail.com)

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This book is a significant contribution to the growing literature on ancient associations. Grote's examination of the evidence is wide-ranging and assured, and his argumentation is always clear and cogent, even on the rare occasions when it fails to convince.

The work focuses on the origins, nature, and political functions of the phylai ('tribes'). The bulk of the book is made up of thorough examinations of the phylai. in ten different poleis. These case-studies provide the basis for the more theoretical discussions that end the volume.


We begin with Kyrene, where a catastrophic defeat by the Libyans sometime after 565 led to a demographic imbalance between a minority of descendants of the original Theran settlers and a majority of relatively recent migrants from other parts of the Greek world. In reaction to this, the reformer Demonax divided the inhabitants into three phylai: one for those ultimately from Thera, one for Peloponnesians and Cretans, and one for people from the islands (Hdt. 4.161.3). The new phylai integrated the newcomers into the body politic and helped structure new political institutions such as a Council (Hdt. 4.165), which in turn enabled the Battiad monarchy to be effectively neutered.

In Sikyon, Hdt. 5.68.1-2 tells us that Kleisthenes changed the names of the three Doric phylai to Archelaoi (rulers – his own phylē), Hyatai (pig-men), Oneatai (donkey-men), and Choireatai (swine-men). Pace Herodotus, Grote argues that Kleisthenes' changes were not meant to mock the Sikyonians: after all, what sort of ruler would needlessly insult three quarters of his population? Instead, the new phylai were meant to distinguish Sikyon from its rival Argos and thus build up its internal solidarity and even its military performance (which may actually have worked: see e.g. Aristot. Pol. 1315b 14-6, 60).

Grote attributes the legendary stability of the Spartan system to the Great Rhetra, which he reads as a reform to civic subdivisions ('die Gliederungstruktur der Bevölkerung,' 81). The point of these reforms was to build up solidarity, both in the army (Tyrt. 10 implies that phylai fought together) and in public life, where membership in phylai and obes helped the Spartiate find his 'Sitz in Leben,' (109). The phylai also helped build up a public sphere, a pre- condition for a functioning Assembly.

The Gortyn Law Code mandates that an heiress can only marry someone outside her phylē once she has exhausted all the options within it (col. 7.50-8.35). For Grote, this was to ensure a rotation of the powerful office of kosmos among all the city's great families. The kosmos was rotated through the phylai, and the great families needed to be kept within their phylai if the system was not to be circumvented. The system eventually broke down in the fourth century, probably because the phylai were never equal in power, and the most powerful phylai came to find waiting for office intolerable. The Gortynian phylai also sent members to a Council.

The situation at Dreros is less clear, but a seventh-century inscription (Koerner no. 91) contains the phrase πόλι ἔϝαδε διαλήσασι πυλᾶσι, 'the city decided after consulting the phylai.' Grote takes this to imply that representatives from each phylē met in a deliberative Council, which he identifies with the 'Twenty of the polis' mentioned in the famous inscription limiting iteration of the office of kosmos (ML 2).

At Korinth, the Suda says there were eight phylai; these eight probably replaced the traditional three Doric phylai sometime after the end of Cypselid rule (c. 580). Grote thinks that the phylai played a more political role than the territorial mere ('parts'); their purpose was to filter out local interests and construct a more general conception of the public good. This they did partly by sending ten members each to a Council of Eighty and one member each to a Council of eight probouloi. Selection of probouloi by phylai meant that any individual group seeking to make itself dominant was sure to face opposition.

There were probably three phylai in archaic Argos, but from around 460 four phylai are mentioned (e.g. ML 42), and soon after we hear of a college of four hiaromnamones. Grote thinks the new phylē, the Hyrnathioi, consisted of perioikoi that Aristotle tells us were integrated into the citizenry following the disastrous defeat at Sepeia in 494 (Pol. 1303a6-8). The new phylē not only incorporated the poor, rural Hyrnathioi into a mainly urban citizenry, but also ensured their participation in political life. Hyrnathioi could now become Ilarchs, one of whom was selected from each of the four phylai.

At Miletus, the top magistrates were the six molpoi, five prosetairoi and a single, powerful aisymnētēs. There were also six phylai, but instead of each of them selecting one molpos each year, three phylai selected two molpoi one year, with the other three getting their chance every other year. Each of the six phylai would get to select an aisymnētēs only once every six years (SIG3 I 57). Grote suggests that the point of all this was to avoid having molpoi from one phylē two years in a row, as well as to ensure that each group of molpoi would have an 'opposition' consisting of members of the phylai without molpoi that year.

The famous βολὴ δημοσίη at Chios (ML 8) probably had fifty members from each phylē. Its role was to provide oversight of magistrates, and hence prevent local 'big men' from making themselves tyrants. The Assembly could hardly be trusted with such a task; the 'Masse des Volkes' was, according to Grote, too vulnerable to manipulation by leaders (202). On the Council, by contrast, rivalry between elite leaders could be harnessed as a means of blocking bids for absolute power.

The final case-study is Athens. One function of the ten new phylai, which were placed on top of trittyes and demes, was 'partikulare Interessen Schritt für Schritt auszublenden' (213). But their real purpose was to make sure that magistrates were accountable—this is why the ten euthynoi and logistai, who were centrally involved in the scrutiny of magistrates, were selected from the phylai.

In his penultimate chapter, Grote criticizes the decades-old orthodoxy established by Roussel, that phylai were not remnants of a tribal past, but artificial creations of the developing polis.1 He questions whether phylai and poleis were as tightly linked as Roussel supposed; after all, Aeolic poleis lack phylai. And the phyla of the Homeric poems are already familiar and coherent units (see esp. Il. 2.362f.). Grote proposes that the phylai did, after all, originate as bands of settlers ('Siedlungverbände') that later became associated with particular localities. Phylai were formed and named according first to priority of settlement, and then to the perceived cultural difference from the earliest settlers.

The final chapter suggests a number of effects that the phylai might have had on the life of the polis. Phylai allowed face-to-face communication to be scaled up. They enabled a kind of representation, not in the modern sense, but as a 'making present' (Gegenwärtigmachen) of a particular group through a member of it. They fostered deliberation. They made possible 'eine Dezentralisierung politischer Macht' (250). They strengthened trust. Through them, local interests were transcended, and public-spiritedness built up. They acted as checks on individual members of the elite, and hence as mechanisms of stability.


I spotted almost no factual errors. But the assertion that semestrial terms for magistrates would be 'äusserst ungewöhnlich, wenn nicht einzigartig' in a Greek polis (181) is too strong: six-month terms are in fact attested for magistrates at Argos, Kos, Delphi, and Larisa.2

Much in the chapter on Athens struck me as debatable. The notion that Kleisthenes' reforms were more about citizenship than democracy is surely contradicted by the wide-ranging and thoroughgoing reforms to political institutions that they encompassed. And the idea that Kleisthenes could not have expected much enthusiasm for politics from the Athenians themselves ignores the mass revolt that paved the way for his reforms.3

In the chapter on Sparta, I was unconvinced by the argument that the phrase φυλὰς φυλάξαντα means that phylai must have already been around; the fact that phylē-ing is the only thing that could be done to a phylē might instead imply that they were not so familiar. As for Herodotus' report that a Spartan founded Thera with settlers ἀπὸ τῶν φυλέων (Hdt. 4.148.1), this was in fact a re-foundation, and the tradition Herodotus reports that there had been settlers on the island for several generations before this might explain the antiquity of the earliest archaeological finds, which go back to around 800.

This brings us to Grote's brave assault on the Rousselian orthodoxy. His question about how the Doric poleis all ended up with the same phylai is a good one, but his scepticism about the influence of cultural interaction runs up against a good deal of contemporary work in institutional theory.4 As for the Homeric phyla, they would only be decisive if we could say for sure that the Homeric poems preceded the development of the polis, and we cannot.

Still, Grote may well be right that some kind of phyla existed before Roussel thought they did. But the point is perhaps not so much what happened before the development of the polis, but that there was a wave of reform in the late archaic period that gave us the phylai in their classical form, as fully-integrated components of the political institutions of the polis.

The political order that emerged from this wave of reform (and of which the phylai were a part) was designed, in Grote's view, to guard against the danger of one-man rule. The polis that emerges from this book is thus very much a republican one. Not that democracies are absent; of Grote's case-studies, only the Cretan cities and Sparta never experienced democracy. But democracy appears here only as one end of a spectrum of anti-tyrannical constitutionalism.

Indeed, the constitutional arrangements Grote carefully reconstructs for us often recall principles espoused by later republican theorists. The way that phylai fostered opposition as a structural element of the system would surely have pleased James Madison, who would insist that 'ambition must be made to counteract ambition' (Federalist 51) in the US constitution. And the way—in Grote's view—Greek poleis sought, above all, to mitigate the risk of absolutism, is very much in sympathy with Philip Pettit's more recent emphasis on 'non-domination.'5

Grote has left it to other researchers to explore precisely how the phylai performed all the roles he proposes for them. How precisely, for example, did phylai build up trust? How did the internal solidarity the phylai built up contribute to a more general conception of the public good, rather than detracting from it? Scholars who hope to answer these questions will need to engage deeply with the contemporary social sciences.

While doing so, they will find a solid empirical basis for their theorizing in the detailed case-studies that make up the bulk of this commendable book.


1.   Roussel, D. (1976), Tribu et cité. Études sur les groups sociaux dans les cites grecques aux époques archaïque et classique. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.
2.   Argos, Kos: Robinson, E.W. (2011), Democracy Beyond Athens: Popular Government in the Greek Classical Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 14-15, 154-55; Delphi: Salviat, F. "L'oligarchie à Delphes: rôle et composition de la boula." Hommages à Lucien Lerat (1984): 743-749; Larisa: Helly, B. "Décret de Larisa pour Bombos, fils d'Alkaios, et pour Leukios, fils de Nikasias, citoyens d'Alexandrie de Troade (ca 150 av. J.-C.)." Chiron 36 (2017): 171-203.
3.   Ober, J. (1996), "The Athenian Revolution of 508/7: Violence, Authority, and the Origins of Democracy." In The Athenian Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 34-52.
4.   Finnemore, M. "Norms, Culture, and World Politics: Insights from Sociology's Institutionalism." International Organization 50 (1996), 325-47.
5.   Pettit, P. (1999), Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Ian A. Todd (ed.), The Field Survey of the Vasilikos Valley, Volume II: Artefacts recovered by the Field Survey. Vasilikos Valley Project, 10. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology, LXXI :10. Uppsala: Åström Förlag, 2016. Pp. xxxvii, 412. ISBN 9789170812095. €88.00.

Reviewed by Thierry Petit, Université Laval (Thierry.Petit@hst.ulaval.ca)

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Table of Contents
[Auteurs et titres sont cités ci-dessous.]

Ce volume complète deux autres déjà parus, qui présentaient respectivement le contexte du « Vasilikos Valley Project » et les sites (vol. 10:I, 2004), puis le modèle d'occupation (« settlement pattern ») (vol. 10:III, 2013). Celui-ci présente les artefacts catégorie par catégorie, majoritairement la céramique, non sans en tirer des enseignements sur le type d'occupation de la région. D'emblée on nous annonce que l'exhaustivité n'était pas possible dans une telle entreprise, ni pour la surface couverte par la prospection, ni pour les artefacts eux-mêmes. S'agissant du premier point, I.A. Todd réaffirme sa conviction que l'échantillonnage est représentatif de l'ensemble du territoire sur quelque neuf millénaires (p. XXIX). Sur le second point, chaque auteur justifie le choix de l'échantillonnage.

Dans une brève introduction (p. XXXIII-XXXVII). I.A. Todd rappelle l'urgence de sauver ces données archéologiques menacées par un « développement » industriel, commercial et touristique dont le rythme s'accélère (et qui est inscrit désormais dans un « Master Plan »). On a ainsi repéré plusieurs nouveaux sites, majoritairement d'époque archaïque, mais aussi de l'Âge du Bronze, du Chalcolithique et d'époque romaine tardive.

La céramique est présentée période par période (chap. 1 à 6). (En plus des dessins qui sont insérés dans le texte après chaque chapitre, cette céramique est illustrée par les planches couleurs I et II.) J. Clarke présente la céramique du Néolithique et du Chalcolithique (p. 7-29). Elle discerne plusieurs fabriques qui trahissent une prédominance du Ve millénaire, avec un fort déclin au IVe millénaire. M.T. Horowitz étudie la céramique du Bronze ancien et moyen (p. 31-70). En l'absence de sites fouillés, l'apport de cette étude ne constitue qu'un modeste pas vers une meilleure caractérisation chronologique des différents types (p. 40-45 et fig. 2.3). A.K. South s'occupe de la production du Bronze récent (p. 71-93). Elle ne prend en compte que les tessons diagnostiques et ne tire pas de conclusions sur les différents types d'occupation (lesquels sont précisés ailleurs). L'examen ne met en lumière aucune nouveauté frappante dans les types, mais révèle un bel échantillon des fabriques caractéristiques de la côte sud de l'île (p. 81). La céramique du Cypro-géométrique (CG) et du Cypro-archaïque (CA) a été confiée à A. Georgiadou (p. 95-127), qui situe d'emblée cette production dans le cadre du royaume d'Amathonte, car les types trouvent leurs exacts correspondants dans la céramique caractéristique de cette cité. Tout laisse donc entendre que la région relevait bien de cette entité politique. Il est frappant à cet égard que les artefacts qui pourraient être datés des CG I et CG II sont totalement absents des trouvailles (p. 104); le CG III apparaît donc clairement comme l'époque où le pouvoir politique amathousien se met en place dans la région (p. 104, 106). 1 Mais c'est bien l'époque archaïque, et spécialement la première partie (CA I : ca 750-600 av.), qui constitue le floruit économique de la région. L'analyse de M. Rautman, quant à elle, couvre pratiquement un millénaire: depuis l'époque classique jusqu'à l'époque romaine tardive (p. 129-157). Après avoir constaté l'évanescence de l'époque classique et une légère reprise à l'époque hellénistique, M. Rautman souligne la densité d'occupation à l'époque romaine dès Auguste, illustrée par une profusion de fragments de sigillée orientale A et de sigillée cypriote. Après un léger recul aux IIIe et IVe s., phénomène général dans toute l'île, la quantité de vases des fabriques African Red Slip, Phocean Red Slip (Late Roman C) et Cypriot Red Slip atteste d'une prospérité retrouvée à l'époque romaine tardive. Ce chapitre 5, comme d'ailleurs le suivant, qui porte sur les différentes époques qui vont du Moyen Âge à la fin de la domination anglaise, ont été rédigés plusieurs années avant la parution de l'ouvrage. Bénin pour ce qui est du chapitre 5, ce délai est cependant dommageable pour ce qui concerne la contribution de B. Walker (chapitre 6, p. 159- 198). En effet, les travaux récents ont fait considérablement progresser notre connaissance de la chrono-typologie de ces fabriques (p. 159). Le choix de l'échantillon s'est en outre effectué de manière aléatoire. La céramique de cette époque consiste en des productions locales, mais présente aussi une proportion considérable de vases importés. Bien que le XIIIe s. soit peu représenté, la céramique atteste une présence humaine continue dans la vallée. Aux cours des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, Chypre est manifestement partie prenante du commerce atlantique.

Dans un court chapitre (chap. 7, p. 201-215), I.A. Todd présente rapidement les autres catégories d'artefacts qui font l'objet des chapitres suivants. Il s'agit de 1355 objets dont le catalogue est accessible en ligne (c'est l'Appendice III que l'on cherchera donc vainement dans le volume). Dans le chapitre 8 (p. 217-243), C. McCartney étudie les lames de pierre (« chipped stone industries ») qui proviennent de trois sites: Mari-Mesovouni — lequel a été depuis lors entièrement arasé (voir le cliché: Frontispiece 1, p. iii) —, Mari-Paliambela et Kalavassos-Mitsingites. Le premier montre une occupation entre le Néolithique acéramique et le Chalcolithique, avec une prédominance du LPPNB et de la phase de Chirokitia; le deuxième est en activité entre la fin du Néolithique et le Chalcolithique; le troisième entre le Chalcolithique et l'Âge du Bronze. I.A. Todd présente (p. 245-318) les « ground stone artefacts », appellation dont il reconnaît qu'elle est controuvée, mais qu'il conserve tout de même car son usage est largement répandu dans la communauté savante (p. 245). Il rappelle d'abord la typologie de ces objets dans la région à partir d'une part des fouilles de Kalavassos-Tenta et, d'autre part, de la prospection elle-même. Cela représente quelque 720 objets provenant surtout de la phase acéramique, mais dont certains sont de l'Âge du Bronze. 14 types sont distingués, notamment les haches, les herminettes, les « gaming stones », les meules dormantes, les meules mobiles, les marteaux, les pilons, les mortiers, les « masses d'armes », etc. Plusieurs conclusions sont tirées quant à la chrono-typologie des différentes catégories (p. 313-316). Dans le chapitre 10 (« Other artefacts »), I.A. Todd rassemble les autres objets, sans avoir la prétention d'en établir des catégories discrètes: basalte, cippes, monnaies, dipinti et graffiti, figurines, pierre [sic], verre, fusaïoles, appliques murales, poids, pipes, ivoire, sacarabée, sceau (p. 319-330).

Le volume se clôt par deux appendices de J.A. Smith, l'un sur un sceau d'époque classique (p. 331-334), l'autre sur une applique murale qui porte un signe du syllabaire cypro-minoen (p. 335-336). Suit une abondante bibliographie, une liste des sites qui furent repérés en prospection. Manque cependant un index thématique qui aurait été utile. On relève très peu d'incohérences dans les renvois ou les abréviations (par exemple, le sigle RPCh—p. 33 et 44—ne figure pas dans la liste des abréviations, p. XXV). Les illustrations sont de bonne qualité, mais certaines catégories sont privilégiées par les planches photographiques, comme les outils lithiques, alors que la céramique est surtout illustrée par des dessins en fin de chaque chapitre.

Ce volume de bonne tenue représente un outil très précieux pour qui veut appréhender le peuplement de cette vallée du Vasilikos à travers les âges, et il constitue, avec les deux volumes qui le complètent (10:I, 10:III), un exemple d'étude régionale qui devrait se multiplier pour mieux saisir la réalité de l'occupation de l'île dans son ensemble.


Liste des contributeurs
1. Preface, Ian A. Todd
2. The Commercial/Industrial Development of the Southern Vasilikos Valley, Ian A. Todd
Section A. Ceramics
3. Neolithic-Chalcolithic, Joanne Clarke
4. Early Bronze Age/Middle Bronze Age, Mara T. Horowitz
5. Late Bronze Age, Alison South
6. Geometric-Archaic, Anna Georgiadou
7. Classical-Late Roman Periods, Marcus Rautman
8. Mediaeval Period to Colonial, Bethany Walker
Section B
9. Other Artefacts, Ian A. Tod
10. Chipped Stone Industries, Carole McCartney
11. Ground Stone Artefacts, Ian A. Todd
12. Other Artefacts, Ian A. Todd
13. Appendix I. A Double-Sided Stamp Seal from Kalavasos-Arkhangelos, Joanna S. Smith
14. Appendix II. A Wall Brlcket Fragment with Cypro-Monoan Sign from Kalavasos-Kaparovouno, Joanna S. Smith
15 Appendix III. Catalogue of Artefacts, Ian A. Todd (Available on-line)


1.   On comprend d'autant moins bien qu'A. Georgiadou (p. 95) suive M. Iacovou (2012) en situant la création du royaume au XIe siècle. Voir à ce propos mes remarques dans « La ville et le royaume d'Amathonte n'ont pas été fondés au XIe siècle », in D. Lefèvre-Novaro et al. (eds), Géosciences, archéologie et histoire en Crète de l'âge du Bronze récent à l'époque archaïque, Padoue, 2015, p. 353-375.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017


John Godwin, Juvenal: Satires, Book IV. Edited with a Translation and Commentary. Aris & Phillips classical texts. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016. Pp. viii, 219. ISBN 9781910572337. £19.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Biagio Santorelli, University of Florida (b.santorelli@ufl.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

Publisher's Preview

Il recente volume di J. Godwin offre un'edizione tradotta e commentata del IV libro delle Satire di Giovenale, che si rivolge dichiaratamente non solo a un pubblico di studiosi, ma anche al lettore che del latino abbia una conoscenza limitata. Il volume, pertanto, si propone come un'introduzione alla lettura di Giovenale, esplicitamente intesa ad aiutare il lettore non specialista a cogliere alcuni degli aspetti per cui queste poesie meritino di essere studiate e apprezzate (p. VII). Il risultato sostanzialmente oltrepassa questa dichiarazione d'intenti: Godwin offre una gradevole introduzione generale a Giovenale, una traduzione nel complesso condivisibile, e un commento che non esita ad approfondire problemi linguistici, contenutistici e anche testuali. Non è possibile render giustizia in poche pagine alla ricchezza delle questioni affrontate da Godwin: nelle note seguenti mi limiterò a soffermarmi su alcuni punti del volume che, a mio avviso, possono dar spunto a ulteriori discussioni.

Nell'introduzione, l'autore ripercorre a grandi linee la storia della satira romana, di cui Giovenale è considerato lo sviluppo culminante (p. 4). Sorprendentemente, per un volume dedicato al libro IV, Giovenale è presentato qui come un poeta dotato della «rabbia di un Persio e un Lucilio coniugata con il talento poetico di un Orazio» (p. 4), senza che l'evoluzione "democritea", presentata proprio nella satira 10, sia valorizzata nel tracciare il profilo dell'autore. Nel ripercorrere la cronologia relativa delle satire, quindi, Godwin data al 115 d.C. la pubblicazione del libro I; va tuttavia notato che l'ultimo evento databile a cui questo libro fa riferimento è il processo di Mario Prisco, celebrato nel 100: Giovenale rimanda a questo evento con un'allusione che difficilmente sarebbe stata colta a quindici anni di distanza, e ciò ha portato studi recenti a ribadire che il libro I va datato non oltre il 101 d.C.1

Al termine di questa iniziale rassegna, quindi, Godwin fa riferimento all'antico dubbio che l'incompletezza della satira 16 possa essere dovuta alla morte improvvisa del poeta (p. 5), ipotesi che andrebbe ormai definitivamente accantonata: è stato persuasivamente mostrato che una pubblicazione postuma dell'opera sarebbe stata accompagnata da un'iniziativa editoriale tesa a conferire quantomeno una parvenza di compiutezza al testo (che invece, nello stato attuale, lascia sospeso l'ultimo periodo).2

Altre ipotesi ormai per molti versi superate vengono rispolverate nel successivo paragrafo dell'introduzione, dedicato alla ricostruzione della biografia giovenaliana (pp. 6-8): per limitarci alle più evidenti, Godwin torna alle ipotesi di Syme, su una possibile provenienza di Giovenale dalla Spagna o dall'Africa (ma non ritiene degni di nota p. es. l'aperto riferimento a un'infanzia trascorsa sull'Aventino,3 l'enfatica allusione alla sua Aquino,4 e più in generale l'avversione mostrata per i provinciali che si rovesciano a Roma); e parla di una «chiara connessione» (p. 7) tra i versi giovenaliani e gli Annales di Tacito, che porterebbe a comprimere la pubblicazione delle satire tra 110 e 130 d.C., ma che è stata sottoposta a ben circostanziate critiche dagli studi recenti.5

Alcune generalizzazioni si addensano, come inevitabile, nel paragrafo dedicato al "proposito" per cui Giovenale avrebbe composto le sue satire: «Is he serious or is he a poseur?», si chiede Godwin (p. 14), riassumendo in poche righe l'annosa questione della persona loquens giovenaliana; ma in questa sintesi, per limitarci all'esempio più palese, la sat. 6 torna a essere proposta come un attacco misogino a tutte le donne («it is still pretty strong stuff», p. 15), e l'alternativa che si propone al lettore è quella di leggere la satira come una parodia degli stereotipi misogini tradizionali— con buona pace di chi aveva dimostrato come Giovenale guardasse prevalentemente all'immoralità della matrona, valorizzando l'ampia tradizione della "letteratura misogina" per criticare lo sfaldamento dell'istituto del matrimonio.6

Il testo segue dichiaratamente quello di Clausen, che il commento correda di un ricco apparato di note testuali, stilistiche e linguistico-lessicali. Mi limito qui ad accennare ad alcuni dei punti in cui Godwin si allontana dall'edizione di riferimento.

• 10,41 Celsus per il tradito consul: si è spesso discusso dell'incoerenza in cui Giovenale incorrerebbe, secondo il testo tradito, chiamando prima praetor (v.36) e poi consul il magistrato che presiede i giochi del Circo (vd. nota a pp. 75s.). La correzione può forse essere evitata se si considera che Giovenale sta descrivendo la scena come se si trattasse di un corteo trionfale (associazione incoraggiata dalla vanagloria del praeses stesso): chiamando consul questo personaggio, cui poco oltre si attribuisce appunto lo scettro del potere consolare, Giovenale intende probabilmente rimarcare l'insensatezza di questo magistrato che inaugura i giochi con la stessa pompa con cui un console vittorioso celebrerebbe un trionfo.7

• 10,128 torquentem (congettura di Markland) per il tradito torrentem. Il riferimento è all'eloquenza di Demostene. Godwin ritiene che in torrentem coesisterebbero le nozioni di «torrenziale» e «bruciante»; ma non si bruciano le redini di un cavallo (il riferimento è alla parte restante del verso giovenaliano: pleni moderantem frena theatri), per cui torquere sarebbe invece più appropriato. Anche qui, l'intero ragionamento può risultare non necessario se si considera che torrens è comunissimo in riferimento a un'eloquenza «torrenziale» (cf. 10,9, citato da Godwin, cui si aggiunga 3,74 Isaeo torrentior; molto altro in OLD s.v.); e che torquere, in realtà, non risulta mai adoperato con frenum come oggetto.

• 10,183 il testo tradito è: mitius id sane, quod non et stigmate dignum / credidit? («senz'altro fu segno di una certa indulgenza, non ritenerlo degno del marchio dello schiavo»); Giovenale si riferisce a Serse, che alla notizia della distruzione del ponte di navi sull'Ellesponto avrebbe inviato aguzzini a frustare, mettere in ceppi e persino marchiare a fuoco il mare. Godwin accoglie la correzione di Weber, seguendo in questo Courtney e Braund: mitius id sane. Quid? non et stigmate dignum / credidit? (traducendo: «too mild, that. How so? Did he not think the god deserved branding too?») Con il testo tradito, Giovenale sembrerebbe discostarsi dalle altre fonti, lasciando intendere che Serse avrebbe sì fatto frustare e incatenare il mare, ma gli avrebbe risparmiato quantomeno l'onta della marchiatura. Ciò risulta inaccettabile ai sostenitori della congettura di Weber,8 che tuttavia peccano a mio avviso di eccessivo razionalismo: nell'intera pericope, infatti, Giovenale ostenta scetticismo nei confronti delle "assurdità" narrate dagli storici greci in merito alla leggendaria impresa di Serse; giunto al più incredibile di tali aneddoti—che un mortale possa aver anche solo concepito l'idea di trattare il mare come un proprio schiavo—Giovenale sembra rallegrarsi che ciò non sia avvenuto davvero; ma l'uso di sane, come comunemente avviene in analoghe esclamazioni (cf. 4,16; 5,123; 9,46; 12,124), tradisce una palese carica antifrastica. Giovenale mostra sempre una grande libertà nel selezionare e manipolare le sue fonti, soprattutto riguardo alla storia (leggendaria) greca: non sembra necessario "costringere" il satirico a seguire precisamente il resoconto erodoteo, peraltro proprio in un passo improntato allo scetticismo nei confronti di tale fonte, dove «la selezione nell'uso dei particolari permette di chiudere con una battuta scherzosa per la quale è ipotizzabile un riferimento mitologico».9

• 11,21-23 il testo tradito è: Refert ergo quis haec eadem paret; in Rutilo nam / luxuria est, in Ventidio laudabile nomen / sumit et a censu famam trahit. Secondo Godwin, il testo dei manoscritti farebbe di Ventidio «the subject of the verb [sumit] and also a name in the ablative» (p. 143); ciò lo porta a seguire Heindrich nel correggere sumit in sumptus, da intendersi come soggetto di trahit («Much depends, then, on who is buying these same dishes: if it is Rutilus, it is extravagance, but in the case of Ventidius his free-spending earns him a praiseworthy reputation and celebrity from his wealth»). Tale ragionamento parte tuttavia da un presupposto discutibile: il soggetto logico sia di sumit che di trahit (presupposto anche da luxuria est) non è Ventidio, ma l'azione di acquistare prelibatezze a caro prezzo che è oggetto dell'intera sezione iniziale (v. 21: haec eadem paret); questa azione è considerata segno di lusso sfrenato quando commessa da Rutilo (un ignoto che scialacqua i suoi ultimi averi atteggiandosi ad anfitrione?), mentre procura complimenti a Ventidio («un ricco lodato per il tenore di vita lussuoso»).10 Meglio pertanto conservare il testo tradito, intendendo: «È però importante vedere chi si procuri queste stesse prelibatezze: se è Rutilio, si tratta di lusso sfrenato, se è Ventidio, ciò prende un nome lodevole, e dal suo censo trae buona reputazione».

La bibliografia finale rende conto delle ampie letture su cui si fonda il lavoro di Godwin, ma al contempo denota un'importante lacuna metodologica che, se non compromette l'utilità di questo volume per il pubblico non specialista, ne limita per certi versi l'apporto scientifico. Fatte salve pochissime eccezioni, la bibliografia di Godwin tralascia sistematicamente contributi non in lingua inglese: ciò esclude dalla considerazione dell'autore sia studi complessivi che avrebbero fatto chiarezza delle questioni generali sopra accennate;11 sia, soprattutto, i commenti specifici che sono disponibili per ciascuna delle satire del IV libro,12 le cui note avrebbero offerto un'importante punto di partenza, e un necessario approfondimento bibliografico, alle pur ricche analisi proposte dall'autore.


1.   Cf. sat.1,49-50:Exul ab octava Marius bibit et fruitur dis / iratis, at tu victrix, provincia, ploras; cf. ora J. Uden, The Invisible Satirist: Juvenal and Second­Century Rome, Oxford-New York 2015, 219-226.
2.   Stramaglia 2008, 291-292.
3.  sat. 3,84-85.
4.   sat. 3,318-321.
5.   Cf. per tutti F. Bellandi, Cronologia e ideologia politica nelle satire di Giovenale, in A. Stramaglia – S. Grazzini – G. Dimatteo (edd.), Giovenale tra storia, poesia e ideologia, Berlin-Boston 2016, 5-64.
6.   Cf. F. Bellandi, Contro le donne, Venezia 2003, 9-38, e più recentemente L. Watson – P. Watson, Juvenal, Satire 6, Cambridge 2014, 19-26.
7.   Cf. P. Campana, D. Iunii Iuuenalis, Satura X, Firenze 2004, 113-114.
8.   Cf. E. Courtney, A Commentary on the Satires of Juvenal, 20132, 415: «the crowning absurdity should not be denied».
9.   Campana 2004, 241; nonché 222-224.
10.   F. Bracci, La satira 11 di Giovenale, Berlin-Boston 2014, 76.
11.   Oltre ai lavori citati alle nn. 5 e 6, per l'interpretazione complessiva delle Satire restano un punto di partenza fondamentale F. Bellandi, Giovenale, in F. Della Corte (ed.), Dizionario degli scrittori greci e latini II, Milano 1987, 1035-1048, nonché Id., Etica diatribica e protesta sociale nelle satire di Giovenale, Bologna 1980.
12.   Non sembrano essere stati considerati, nella stesura di questo volume, il commento di Campana 2004 alla sat. 10 (cit. n. 7), nonché quello alla sat. 12 di A. Stramaglia, Giovenale, Satire 1, 7, 12, 16. Storia di un poeta, Bologna 2008 (rist. riveduta 2017), che è fondamentale anche per una più corretta comprensione dell'evoluzione della "carriera poetica" del satirico. È invece citato nella prefazione e in bibliografia il commento alla sat. 11 di Bracci 2014 (cit. n. 10).

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Cesare Cuttica, Gaby Mahlberg (ed.), Patriarchal Moments: Reading Patriarchal Texts. Textual moments in the history of political thought. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. Pp. xii, 217. ISBN 9781472589156. $29.95.

Reviewed by Georgina White, Central European University (whiteg@ceu.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

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

This collection of essays represents a fresh offering in Bloomsbury Press's "Textual Moments in the History of Political Thought" series, an exciting new attempt to bring together a number of essays by experts on key texts in the history of political thought.

Published at the same time as the series' Feminist Moments, this volume takes as its focus "Patriarchal Moments," though those familiar with the former volume will find significant overlap both in the themes discussed and even in some of the texts treated: for example, Mary Astell's Reflections on Marriage (1700) is the subject of chapters in both works and "proto-feminist" (p. 6) Mary Wollstonecraft earns essays in each. Part of the reason for the overlap between these two volumes is the broad definition of "patriarchal moment" that is employed in this work. The editors take as their remit key texts in which patriarchal power (a "concept of power implying a fatherly male domination of society," p. 1) is contested or renegotiated in some way. While, in the majority of texts chosen for study, this renegotiation amounts to the reaffirmation or expansion of patriarchal power structures (for example, Deborah W. Rooke's analysis of biblical passages in the opening chapter, which traces "the increasingly patriarchal trajectory of an already patriarchal tradition," p. 16), a significant proportion of the essays in the latter half of the volume describe challenges to patriarchal attitudes. As well as the essays on Mary Astell and Mary Wollstonecraft, the final six essays in this chronologically-ordered1 book treat texts which are described as subverting patriarchal norms, and so seem to have as great a claim to inclusion in the Feminist Moments volume as in the Patriarchal Moments volume. The upside of this is that Patriarchal Moments would work as a standalone teaching text, introducing students to a variety of texts which both support and challenge patriarchal power structures. However, as this book is explicitly intended as a complement to the Feminist Moments volume, one wonders whether it might have been more valuable to include some more recent texts which show that support for traditional patriarchal ideas did, in fact, persist into the 19th, 20th, and even 21st centuries.

The format of this volume is, like that of the other volumes in this series, rather unusual. The slim paperback edition contains an almost dizzying number of essays. There are 21 chapters, each written by a different author and treating a different text, with no contribution running to more than 9 printed pages. Each chapter begins with an extended quotation from the work under discussion, which provides the reader with an extract of about half a page taken from the original text. It then continues with a short essay, which takes its cue from the quoted passage but explores more generally the status of the text in question as a key moment in the (re)negotiation of patriarchal thought. To take as an example the chapter that will probably be of most interest to classicists, Edith Hall's treatment of Aristotle's Politics (Ch.4) begins with an abbreviated quotation of Politics book 1, 1259a-1260a, translated by Hall herself. The translation is clear and accessible, and the passage well chosen; but cutting the excerpt down to size requires the omission of a few vital sentences, which then need to be paraphrased in the main text of the essay (p. 39), and also means that the translation picks up after an ellipsis with an "of this" which has no obvious referent. The subsequent essay is in 3 parts, beginning with a (very brief) discussion of Aristotle's life; then considering the location of the quoted passage within the project of the Politics as a whole; and finally offering a close reading of the passage that emphasises the psychological grounds Aristotle gives for the differing patriarchal relationships of a husband's control over his wife and a father's domination of his children. In doing so, Hall's treatment combines a solid, well-written, and for the most part conventional introduction to the presentation of women and children in Aristotle's Politics with some more novel and controversial observations that should stimulate lively class discussion if not always agreement.2 In addition to the textual excerpt and essay, each chapter is accompanied by a short bibliography containing suggestions for further reading. The bibliography accompanying Hall's chapter on Aristotle, for example, contains only 4 items: Cynthia Freeland's Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998) and 3 short articles treating Aristotle's presentation of women. Consequently, as is the case with the rest of the bibliographies in this book, it should prove much more useful to undergraduates making their first forays into individual research than to the expert reader.

There are a number of benefits to this novel format. It provides, in a short and affordable volume, an introduction to a large number of texts of differing genres and from a variety of different periods. Meanwhile, the inclusion of the opening extracts provides the reader with some exposure to the original texts and offers a possible focus for text-based class discussions. A brief glance at the contents (below) shows the expansive time-frame and wide range of texts under discussion, which include poetry, oratory, drama, and religious texts, as well as political and philosophical treatises. Working with these diverse texts, and the aforementioned broad definition of patriarchy, each author picks up on different themes in their essay, and so reveals the variety of interconnected power relations that can feed into patriarchal ideology: we see the power of male over female within the institution of marriage (e.g. Federico Bonaddio, Ch.20 on Federico García Lorca's Blood Wedding), the domination of female by male in the natural world (e.g. Edith Hall, Ch.4 on Aristotle's Politics), the rule of father over son within the family (e.g. Oliver Jahraus, Ch.19 on Franz Kafka's Letter to his Father), and the rule of monarch over subjects (e.g. Cesare Cuttica, Ch.8 on Robert Filmer's Patriarcha). The large number of essays in this volume also means that a variety of academic perspectives and methodologies are on display, from the historicism of Jonathan Scott's analysis of Algernon Sidney's Discourses Concerning Government (Ch.9), which discusses the biographical and political contexts that informed the production of the text, to Arnold Weinstein's resolutely literary critical analysis of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (Ch.18), which traces the symbolism of the book manuscript as offspring in the play. How useful an individual reader finds each of these approaches will depend very much on the interests and temperament s/he brings to the book. As a display of the various perspectives available for grappling with these texts, however, the volume works admirably.

There are, of course, some obvious downsides to the format of this book. While the majority of authors succeed in integrating an astonishing amount of background information into the limited space available (of particular note here is Sarra Lev's clear and insightful introduction to midrash in Ch.2), at times historical figures and events can pop up with little to no introduction, which may prove confusing for the student reader (e.g. "Robert Sanderson, bishop of Lincoln" makes a brief cameo at p.86; the Forced Loan of 1626-7 is mentioned in a throwaway mark at p.70). The book is also distinctly (and self-consciously) Western in focus and a little unbalanced in its choice of texts, with philosophical treatises and religious texts being confined to the earlier historical periods, and novels and plays to the final half of the book. Additionally, while the broad definition of "patriarchal moment" has its virtues, there are points at which one wishes that a more standard definition had been used across the offerings. Anne McLaren's essay on John Knox's First Blast of the Trumpet (Ch.6), for example, which is illuminating while it focuses on the text, gets derailed in its closing pages as it takes up the biographical question of whether or not Knox himself was a misogynist. The most successful contributions take a consideration of their chosen "patriarchal moment" to involve an analysis of the later influence of the text under discussion, as well as its content and historical context: for example Catherine Conybeare's analysis of Augustine's The City of God and its influence on Hannah Arendt (Ch.5), or Charlotte Alston's essay on Leo Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata, which outlines the subsequent censorship of the text and its emergence as a focus for discussion of contemporary attitudes to sex, marriage, and gender relations. One might wish that this approach had been encouraged more universally across the contributions.

In general, then, this volume should prove to be a useful and well-priced addition to any undergraduate course dealing with the contours of patriarchal power in the western world. The passages chosen are all relevant and interesting, and student readers will find the short essays lively and easily digestible (though they may require additional background information on the texts, figures, and historical periods under discussion). Where the source passages have been translated the English is smooth and readable, and the text of the essays is admirably clean and free of error. The only typographical issue is the lack of consistency in the formatting of the quoted passages that begin the various chapters. In the selections from Bereshit Rabbah that begin chapter 2, for example, square brackets are employed to show conjectured additions and transliterated Hebrew terms are given as non-italicised text in rounded brackets (e.g. "R. Yohanan opened [his exposition]: '"You have beset me behind and before (ahor vadedem tzartani) "…' " p.19). In chapter 3's translation of the Qur'an, however, both conjectured additions and transliterations of the original Arabic are given as italicised text within square brackets (e.g. "men are [qawwamuna ῾ala] women [on the basis] of what Allah has [faddala] some of them over others…" p.27). In the dramatic texts, stage directions are sometimes given in non-italicised text (Ch.18), and sometimes in italics (Ch.20). Meanwhile, although emphasis is generally indicated in these texts by a change in italicisation, the excerpt from Robert Filmer's Patriarcha (ch.8) employs asterisks instead, and, despite the fact that every other extended quotation is given in italics, for some reason Ch.12's quotation from Alexander Pope's Essay on Man is not italicised. These typographical inconsistencies are for the most part unobtrusive, but they are never acknowledged or explained,3 and so may cause unnecessary confusion in the classroom when trying to compare two texts with different formatting conventions.

Authors and Titles

"Introduction," Cesare Cuttica
1. "The Talmud: A Tale of Two Bodies", Sarra Lev
2. "Of Women, Snakes and Trees: The Bible," Deborah W. Rooke
3. "Patriarchalism and the Qur'an," Asma Barlas
4. "Citizens but Second-Class: Women in Aristotle's Politics (384 to 322 B.C.E.)," Edith Hall
5. "Augustine's The City of God (5th century A.D.): Patriarchy, Pluralism, and the Creation of Man," Catherine Conybeare
6. "Men, Women and Monsters: John Knox's First Blast of the Trumpet (1558)," Anne McLaren
7. "Love and Order: William Gouge, Of Domesticall Duties (1622)," Karen Harvey
8. "Filmer's Patriarcha (1680): Absolute Power, Political Patriarchalism and Patriotic Language," Cesare Cuttica
9. "Patriarchy, Primogeniture and Prescription: Algernon Sidney's Discourses Concerning Government (1698)," Jonathan Scott
10. "Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693): Fathers and Conversational Friendship," J. K. Numao
11. "'Nothing Pleases Like an Intire Subjection': Mary Astell Reflects on the Politics of Marriage (1700)," Brett D. Wilson
12. "Ants, Bees, Fathers, Sons: Pope's Essay on Man (1734) and the Natural History of Patriarchy," Paul Baines
13. "Rousseau's Emile (1762): The Patriarchal Family and the Education of the Republican Citizen," Sandrine Parageau (Paris West University Nanterre La Défense, France)
14. "Patriarchy and Enlightenment in Immanuel Kant (1784)," Jordan Pascoe
15. "In 'Her Father's House': Women as Property in Wollstonecraft's Mary (1788)," Michelle Faubert
16. "Father Enfantin, the Saint-Simonians and the 'Call to Woman' (1831)," Daniel Laqua
17. "Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata (1889)," Charlotte Alston
18. "Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1890) as 'Patriarchal Moment'," Arnold Weinstein
19. "Account of a Fight against Paternal Authority: Franz Kafka's Letter to his Father (1919)," Oliver Jahraus
20. "Federico García Lorca's Blood Wedding (1932): Patriarchy's Tragic Flaws," Federico Bonaddio
21. "'His peremptory prick': the failure of the phallic in Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve (1977)," Ruth Charnock
"Postscript," Gaby Mahlberg


1.   The exceptions to this chronological arrangement are the 3 opening essays in the volume, which discuss the central texts of Abrahamic religion: the Bible, the Talmud, and the Qur'an. The book then moves backwards in time to Aristotle's Politics and proceeds chronologically from there.
2.   For a similar analysis of the presentation of women in this passage, see e.g. Saunders, Trevor J. Aristotle Politics. Books 1 and 2. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995) p. 96-7. Among Hall's more novel contributions is the claim that Aristotle's reference to the low-born Egyptian king Amasis in this passage illustrates how, just as Amasis ruled due to his wisdom rather than by birth-right, it is the male's deliberative capabilities rather than social convention that guarantee his rule over women. Although the exact reading given here sits rather strangely with the position of the reference to Amasis in Aristotle's text, Hall's highlighting of Aristotle's choice of example and its connection to the Herodotean tradition is certainly welcome.
3.   The exception is Sarra Lev's note that "italics indicate transliterations and my own emphasis" (p. 194). Unfortunately, however, it seems the author was unaware that the opening excerpt would be reproduced in italics. So, while transliterations and emphatic phrases are indeed italicised in the body of her essay, they are, in fact, unitalicised in the opening excerpt in order to differentiate them from the surrounding text.

(read complete article)


Rosie Wyles, Edith Hall (ed.), Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly. Classical presences. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Pp. xviii, 465. ISBN 9780198725206. $125.00.

Reviewed by Linda Grant, Royal Holloway, University of London (linda_2805@yahoo.co.uk)

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed below.]

Roland Mayer's essay in this collection is partly titled 'The Unknown Pioneer' and this might serve as a fitting descriptor, pluralised, of so many women who are uncovered in this book which springs from a conference at King's College London in 2013. In investigating women's engagement with ancient Greek and Latin texts from the Renaissance forward, the book takes a geographically diverse view and also explores the range of ways in which this engagement might manifest, from translations to teaching Classics, from receptions to the commissioning and editing of popular editions. As Edith Hall and Rosie Wyles state in their introduction, there is not a steady, progressive narrative to be revealed, but rather one which emerges haphazardly taking in various divergences. That it never completely disappears, however arduous the journey, is a testament to the tenacity, determination and, sometimes, sheer bloody-mindedness of the women discussed.

All of the chapters here offer basic biographical information along with an assessment of the women's scholarly contributions to the field, and a view of how they operated, and were viewed, as women when the study of Classics was predominantly gendered masculine. Some of these women remained unmarried; others used husbands or other male relations as covers for their own work: the various strategies brought into play to allow women to participate in the study of Greek and Latin is itself instructive.

Even though the individual essays range widely across history and geography, there are certain key themes which play out across the volume. The importance of scholarly networks is one, whether formalised in a university setting, or informal via letter-writing and intellectual patronage: as we know, scholarship is not a solitary occupation, and while some women supported each other in their endeavours, the book is also attentive to men who enabled, encouraged and facilitated female classical study.

Inevitably, the question of women as classical scholars intersects with wider questions about female education, and many of the chapters tackle this topic explicitly. Even when women are 'allowed' to study classical texts, it seems that some are more appropriate to a female sensibility that others: Xenophon and Herodotus, for example, are deemed more suitable than either Thucydides or Polybius, whose more rigorous approach to history is thought to be implicitly 'masculine'.

While gender is the construct which organises this book, individual essays are also interested in the way it intersects with other social categories: class, race. Many, though certainly not all, of the women here are white and middle-class, so it's good to see chapters which explore women who used their engagement with classical texts as a way to make the money they needed to live, and a discussion of African American classicists.

All of the chapters here offer up thoughtful material, often surprising, and illuminating of just how extensive is women's contribution to classical philology across history. Some of the highlights for this reviewer which offer a taste of the breadth and scope of the collection are:

Jennifer Wallace on how Elizabeth Carter's classical translations intersected with wider eighteenth century cultural debates about 'the exemplary and polite qualities of women' (p.135).
Judith Hallett's nuanced discussion of Edith Hamilton, a popular writer about classical antiquity who aimed for commercial success.
Edith Hall's reminder that many of us came to classics via the pleasure of the texts, and reads that back into female translators.
Rowena Fowler's entertaining exploration of the role of Betty Radice in popularising classical texts.
Barbara Gold's subtle readings of Simone Weil's Iliad.

In summary, this is a positive, inclusive, wide-ranging collection which challenges the idea of the history of classical scholarship being inherently masculinised, and foregrounds the way in which women have contributed to the field. It sits alongside the ongoing feminist project of writing women back in history generally, and complements the exciting work on gender being done in Classics. Uncovering our 'foremothers' continues to authorise women's purchase on the field and serves as an act of both assimilation and inspiration.

Authors and titles

Introduction: Approaches to the Fountain, Edith Hall and Rosie Wyles
Learned Women of the Renaissance and Early Modern Period in Italy and England, Carmel McCallum-Barry
Hic sita Sigea est: satis hoc: Luisa Sigea and the Role of D.Maria, Infante of Portugal, in Female Scholarship, Sofia Frade
Ménage's Learned Ladies: Anne Dacier and Anna Maria van Schurman, Rosie Wyles
Anne Dacier (1681), Renée Vivien (1903): Or What Does it Mean for a Woman to Translate Sappho?, Jacqueline Fabre-Serris
Intellectual Pleasure and the Woman Translator in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-century England, Edith Hall
Confined and Exposed: Elizabeth Carter's Classical Translations, Jennifer Wallace
This is Not a Chapter about Jane Harrison: Teaching Classics at Newnham College, 1882-1922, Liz Gloyn
Classical Education and the Advancement of African American Women in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Michele Valerie Ronnick
Grace Harriet Macmurdy (1866-1946): Redefining the Classical Scholar, Barbara F. McManus
Greek (and Roman) Ways and Thoroughfares: The Routing of Edith Hamilton's Classical Antiquity, Judith P. Hallett
Margaret Alford (September 1868-May 1951): The Unknown Pioneer, Roland Mayer
Eli's Daughters: Female Classics Graduate Students at Yale, 1892-1941, Judith P. Hallett
Ada Sara Adler: 'The Greatest Philologist' of Her Time, Catherine P. Roth
Olga Friedenberg: A Creative Mind Incarcerated, Nina V. Braginskaya
An Unconventional Classicist: The Work and Life of Kathleen Freeman, M. Eleanor Irwin
A.M. Dale, Laetitia Parker
Betty Radice and the Survival of Classics, Rowena Fowler
Simone Weil: Receiving the Iliad, Barbara K. Gold
Jacqueline de Romilly, Ruth Webb
Afterword: Keeping the Fountain in Flow, Rosie Wyles
(read complete article)

Friday, September 22, 2017


Alexandra Dimou, La déesse Korè-Perséphone: mythe, culte et magie en Attique. Recherches sur les rhétoriques religieuses 18. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2016. Pp. 552. ISBN 9782503565088. €90.00.

Reviewed by Maria Barbara Savo, Università degli Studi dell'Aquila (barbara.savo@cc.univaq.it)

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Questo volume, che nasce da una tesi di dottorato discussa nel 2012 presso l'École doctorale Humanités di Strasburgo, è frutto di una indagine di antropologia religiosa su una delle divinità più conosciute, ma anche meno delineate del mondo greco e si propone alla comunità scientifica come esaustivo manuale sulla divinità con il suo corpus di fonti letterarie ed epigrafiche circoscritto al contesto geografico attico; l'arco cronologico preso in esame va dal mondo omerico all'età del neoplatonico Porfirio.

Il libro si presenta al lettore con una struttura bipartita: nella prima metà viene presentato il lavoro di raccolta e critica dei dati archeologici, ma soprattutto delle fonti letterarie, epigrafiche e papirologiche che sono poi riproposte nella seconda metà dell'opera con traduzione.

Nella prima parte si individuano tre sezioni, dedicate rispettivamente al mito e al nome della dea, alla sua presenza nel culto civico, alla sua funzione nel mondo della magia e del culto privato. La trattazione prende l'avvio dalle opere omeriche, prosegue con il racconto del rapimento di Core e il mito eziologico della fondazione dei misteri eleusini per soffermarsi poi sui testi orfici, dove la dea, da sterile sposa di Ade, è trasformata in dea madre. Chiudendo la panoramica introduttiva con i riferimenti all'opera di Paniassi e Apollodoro, Dimou passa alla trattazione del mito nella tragedia e sin dalle primissime battute focalizza l'attenzione del lettore sulle epiclesi che accompagnano la dea nei diversi drammi, creando così una costante tensione verso la specifica trattazione delle epiclesi stesse che concluderà la prima sezione. Proseguendo l'analisi sulla dea la studiosa si sofferma soprattutto sull'immagine offerta da Plutarco nel De facie quae in orbe lunae apparet, in cui Plutarco distingue nettamente Core da Persefone e parla di una tripartizione dell'individuo (νοῦς, ψυχή e σῶμα), che nella sua visione escatologica lega alla terra (σῶμα), alla luna (ψυχή) e al sole (νοῦς). In questo contesto l'immagine di Persefone che regna sulla Luna deve essere ascritta a concezioni filosofiche che affondano le loro radici nel platonismo e nello stoicismo. Nel costante lavoro destinato a rendere omogenei teologicamente i dati che gli provenivano dalla tradizione diacronica Plutarco presenta la dea omerica dei morti e degli spettri come colei che porta il nome della pupilla dell'occhio, che riflette εἴδωλα, le immagini che guarda, come la luna riflette il bagliore solare. Per il neoplatonico Proclo, che è per l'autrice il punto di arrivo di ogni discorso, costituisce invece una entità complessa, inserita all'interno di una triade zoogonica completamente priva di legami con la Core classica.

Le pagine che seguono sono dedicate all'interpretazione etimologica proposta dagli antichi e dai moderni del nome Persefone, considerato un nome connesso alla radice –φον/-φν, comune tanto al termine φόνος quanto al verbo θείνω, ma anche legato al sostantivo *πέρσος *πέρσον: la dea, dunque, è "colei che uccide/ batte i covoni". L'autrice passa quindi in rassegna le diverse etimologie proposte dagli antichi; la complessità del discorso, la difficoltà, tutt'altro che marginale, di presentare un così gran numero di informazioni si percepisce appena grazie alla padronanza con cui l'argomento è trattato e al procedere tassonomico con cui il materiale è proposto. Più semplice la successiva discussione sull'etimologia di Core, nome già presente in Omero e per il quale Dimou evidenzia il dato epigrafico: il teonimo sembra esser stato utilizzato per la prima volta nell'isola di Tera, in una iscrizione rupestre rinvenuta nell'area sacra dell'agora degli dei (IG XII 3, 355), ascrivibile ad un'"alta arcaicità". Solo a partire dal V secolo a.C. il nome avrebbe fattola sua – sporadica - comparsa nella ceramografia. In realtà oggi la datazione accettata per i graffiti terei è quella dell'VIII-VII sec. a.C. grazie ai recenti studi sull'epigrafia dell'isola, e sono sfuggiti all'autrice non solo i problemi di lettura del teonimo, ma anche la presenza, nella stessa area, di altre tre iscrizioni del medesimo orizzonte cronologico (IG XII 3, 350, 354 e 371=suppl. 1311).1 Nella letteratura il nome Core rimase sempre legato al significato di figlia e giovane/bella fanciulla tanto che nella Suda viene associato al verbo κωρῶ, da riferirsi alla necessità dei giovani di essere sorvegliati e accuditi da coloro che sono di età superiore. E nella celebre iscrizione del 329/8 a.C., IG II2 1672, le due dee sono appellate, in rapporto inscindibile, come πρεσβύτερα e νεώτερα. Questo legame fondato sull'età si cristallizza nei secoli successivi e ritorna nelle glosse lessicografiche. In questa panoramica diacronica Dimou torna quindi alla concezione plutarchea di pupilla che riflette/porta luce e a L. Anneo Cornuto, che legava saldamente al verbo κορέννυμι quel nome che non esitava a deformare (ἡ Κόρος) a vantaggio della sua interpretazione.

Nell'ambito cultuale il nome utilizzato della dea è principalmente quello di Core ed è con Core che Demetra forma un connubio così stretto da generare il nome collettivo di Δημήτερες. In stretta connessione con la questione del duale l'autrice offre al lettore un'interessante raccolta di esempi sul giuramento κατὰ τοῖν ϑεοῖν/ κατὰ ταῖν ϑεαῖν e νὴ/μὰ τὼ ϑεὼ in cui chiarisce al lettore come questo sia legato, almeno sino all'epoca ellenistica, alla sfera e ad argomenti esclusivamente femminili.

La seconda sezione di questa prima parte è tutta dedicata ai culti civici di Core/Persefone. Dimou affronta immediatamente il tema dei Thesmophoria, il cui nome rimanda ad un composto di φέρειν e ϑεσμός o, forse, ai ϑεσμοὶ connessi col rito del μεγαρίζειν, mentre nella diatriba connessa alla localizzazione del santuario si dichiara propensa per una sua localizzazione sulla collina della Pnice, sebbene la discussione archeologica a supporto della teoria sostenuta sembra essere modesta, anche nel suo aspetto bibliografico.2 Allo stesso modo, nella descrizione delle giornate che scandivano la festa, manca un accenno alla possibilità di riconoscere una attività femminile di procedura giudiziaria alla Nesteia, un'attività descritta nelle Thesmophoriazusae aristofanee e che trova conferma in una serie di documenti di Cnido, Amorgo e Locri.3

L'autrice inserisce a questo punto una la mappatura dei demi, complessivamente una decina, per i quali vi è testimonianza di un Thesmophorion; delinea poi, attraverso una documentazione selezionata, l'evoluzione della festività, che in epoca postclassica sembra accogliere donne dalle diverse condizioni sociali e un pubblico maschile. Non viene tralasciata nemmeno la funzione politica e militare che i Thesmophoria ebbero per Atene, dall'inganno di Solone per la conquista di Salamina (Plut., Sol. 8, 4-5 e Aen. Tact. 4. 8-11), all'episodio del Χαλχιδικὸν δίωγμα (menzionato in Esichio4 e in Suda), sino alla manifestazione di pietas di Timoteo, che ornò di mirto le triremi degli Ateniesi combattendo il giorno degli Skira del 375 a.C. (Polyaen. III 10, 4).

A seguire,la studiosa presenta al lettore le feste eleusine dell'Haloa, analizzando l'etimologia del nome e indagandone il legame con le terre piantate a vigna e con l'aia, mentre il celebre scolio a Luciano (DMeretr. 8.4), che parla della festività ne individua la precisa posizione nel calendario agricolo, il momento del taglio della vite e della degustazione del vino nuovo il cui uso sconsiderato avrebbe creato l'aition per la consacrazione di terracotte in forma di genitali e il comportamento licenzioso delle donne.

Il capitolo successivo, dedicato ai Misteri di Eleusi, consiste una puntuale descrizione della festività data in ottica sincronica. La trattazione degli aspetti archeologici di Eleusi non è completa: mancano una serie di recenti studi, come quello di M.B. Cosmopoulos, che attribuisce proprio al culto di Persefone la comparsa, nel corso della metà dell'VIII secolo a.C., in prossimità del Megaron B di età micenea, di pire destinate a enagismoi.5 Nel volume seguono poi le sezioni dedicate alle descrizioni dei Piccoli Misteri e degli Skira, questi ultimi destinati esclusivamente alle donne e celebrati, stando a scoliasti e lessicografi, in onore di Demetra e Core in associazione con Atena. Su questa festività, dalle testimonianze controverse, l'autrice spende diverse pagine per porre ordine e chiarire i problemi legati al nome, al luogo e alle modalità del loro svolgimento.

Successivamente il lettore è accompagnato, attraverso dati archeologici, fonti letterarie ed epigrafiche, alla scoperta dei culti locali celebrati in onore di Core-Persefone presentati, come espressamente indicato, secondo un ordine topografico seguendo la via Sacra.

La terza sezione della prima parte del volume è dedicata, come accennato, all'analisi dei rapporti della dea con la magia e la sua presenza nel culto privato. Una prima allusione di un legame tra Demetra e il mondo della magia si ha nell'Inno omerico (vv. 227-230), ma l'argomento è trattato in maniera cursoria e il compito di una illustrazione esauriente è demandato ai testi citati in bibliografia;6ampio spazio è invece dedicato a illustrare la ricorrenza dei termini quali μύστης e τελετή nell'ambiente magico, che per l'autrice sembra creare un legame concreto coi Misteri eleusini. Persefone è altresì legata al mondo delle defixiones, dove compare attestata per la prima volta in un documento proviene dal Pireo e datato al IV secolo a.C.; sulla base dei dati raccolti, però, è evidente, a giudizio della studiosa, una sostanziale estraneità di madre e figlia al mondo oscuro della magia, estraneità confermata dal mancato ritrovamento nei loro santuari di defixiones. Nel culto privato l'attenzione del lettore viene focalizzata sull'iscrizione del II secolo d.C., rinvenuta nell'agorà di Atene, e pertinente alla comunità degli Iobacchi, che nel 10 del mese Elafebolione celebrava il dio con sacrifici di cui una parte era destinata a Core.

Nell'ambito dell'onirocritica e nel manuale di Artemidoro, celebre sintesi di diverse tradizioni, ogni categoria di divinità corrispondeva, per loro posizione nell'universo, ad una specifica categoria umana e Core, sulla scia di Demetra, era la dea dispensatrice di ricchezze: vederla in sogno costituiva presagio di fortuna, esattamente come Persefone, che nell'inno orfico era indicata coll'appellativo di dispensatrice di vita. Allo stesso modo vederle in sogno da parte di persone malate rappresentava presagio di guarigione.

Le conclusioni generali, che ripercorrono i tratti essenziali del volume precedono l'appendice destinata all'analisi della Core/Persefone del Περὶ ἀγαλμάτων di Porfirio. L'opera presenta un mosaico di simboli della dea e raccoglie una serie di sui aspetti meno conosciuti, depurati dal fattore negativo della morte, vista non più come evento nefasto, ma come liberazione dell'anima dal corpo. Demetra qui è simbolo di potenza generatrice della terra, identica a Rea, che con Zeus concepisce Core, la pienezza che proviene dai sementi. Nel De Antro Nympharum Persefone diviene simbolo di tutte le potenze invisibili, mentre Core è colei che per la tradizione orfica è tessitrice, al pari delle ninfe che nell'antro, simboleggiante il cosmo, "tessono" l'uomo unendo corpo e anima. E nell'antro Porfirio ricorda anfore di miele e api, che assimila alle ninfe,7 ovvero alle anime dei giusti. E se le anime possono reincarnarsi negli animali non è possibile mangiarli e sacrificarli sugli altari degli dei. Nel ragionare proprio sui sacrifici animali viene ricordato l'assedio di Cizico del 73 a.C. durante il quale l'animale prescelto per Persefone si sarebbe presentato spontaneamente all'altare, essendo anima predestinata alla dea. Dunque ancora sopravviveva, nel I a.C, il culto di Persefone/Core Soteira nella città.

In un'opera che già alle prime battute si prospetta, a ragione, di grande rilievo nell'orizzonte degli studi sulla religiosità locale, sorprende la scarsa attenzione per quei particolari che sono frutto di un labor limae essenziale e rispettoso per il lettore. Al di là dei diversi refusi, si registra una fastidiosa assenza di uniformità nelle note, il vezzo di annotare in francese il luogo di edizione di un'opera scritta in altra lingua, la frequente assenza di puntuali riferimsenti bibliografici per citazioni utilizzate nel testo, case editrici scambiate per luoghi di edizione e cognomi di autori stravolti.8 Si aggiungano, infine, una bibliografia che non sempre rispetta l'ordine alfabetico e alcune disarmonicità dell'impaginato, determinate in parte dall'inserimento delle immagini e in parte da semplici sviste.9


1.   A. Inglese, Thera arcaica. Le iscrizioni rupestri dell'agora degli dei, Tivoli 2008, pp. 125-135; 141-144; 197-198.
2.   Manca, ad esempio, il contributo di C. Lucchese, Statuette teatrali e riti di passaggio. I contesti di Atene, in «ASAtene»LXXXIII, 2005, pp. 437-462.
3.   Chr. A. Faraone, Curses, Crime Detection and Conflict Resolution at the Festival of Demeter Thesmophoros, in «JHS» 131, 2011, pp. 25-44.
4.   Tra le glosse esichiane avrebbe potuto essere inserita quella di ζημία mentre all'elenco dei testimonia potrebbe essere aggiunto Paus. Gr., s.v. Χαλκιδικὸν δίωγμα.
5.   Bronze Age Eleusis and the Origins of the Eleusinian Mysteries, New York 2015, pp. 138-139.
6.   Sarebbe stato utile un riferimento a P. Scarpi, Letture sulle religioni classiche: l'inno omerico a Demetra, Firenze 1976, e a Chr. A. Faraone, Gli incantesimi esametrici ed i poemi epici nella Grecia antica, in «QUCC» 84, 2006, pp. 11-24.
7.   Negli studi di F. Aspesi (Archeonimi del labirinto e della ninfa, Roma 2011) νύμφη risulta termine probabilmente non indoeuropeo, forse da identificare coll'antico nome dell'ape.
8.   È il caso di p. 160 nota 246: l'autrice è G. Daverio Rocchi, non G.D. Rocchi e il volume che comprende il suo contributo è dell'editore Cisalpino, scambiato per luogo di edizione (che è, invece, Milano).
9.   è il caso di pp. 228-230; 247.

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Paola Angeli Bernardini (ed.), Le funzioni del silenzio nella Grecia antica: antropologia, poesia, storiografia, teatro: Convegno del Centro internazionale di studi sulla cultura della Grecia antica: Urbino, 9-10 ottobre 2014. Biblioteca di "Quaderni urbinati di cultura classica," 12. Pisa; Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2015. Pp. 232. ISBN 9788862278294. €72.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Stephen Kidd, Brown University (Stephen_E_Kidd@brown.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed below.]

This volume originated in a conference held at the University of Urbino in October 2014. It comprises 14 essays on the uses of silence in Greek literature and culture. Although literary studies are most prominent (Homer, Pindar, the tragedians, Aristophanes, Chariton), there are also studies on ritual silence, the "silences" found in genealogies, and the silencing of the demos in the oligarchic coup of 411 BCE. What constitutes "silence" can at times be rather wide-ranging, including not only secrets, conspiracies, omissions, and ritual silences, but also barbarian language, false names, rhetorical devices like praeteritio and aposiopesis, and the strategic choices that poets make in choosing one mythological tradition over another. There are thus a number of questions raised for the reader regarding the boundaries of silence and how, considering this broad range, silence ought to be defined.

After a brief introduction from Bernardini (9-16), the volume begins with Spina's meditation on the relationship between the silent dead and the living community which wishes to give voice to that silence. Although funerary epigram becomes the eventual focus of the piece (21-3), an illuminating modern parallel is found in the curious applause found at certain Italian funerals. Why the applause? Much like the inability of audiences to allow silence to linger at the end of theatrical and musical performances, so too at the funeral (24): there is an urge to fill the silence rather than letting it speak.

Fileni argues that barbarians, because of their inability to speak Greek, are conceived of as incapable of producing normal human sounds, exhibiting instead a pathology of speech which groups them together with non-human animals: they are thus effectively reduced to silence. The central text behind this view is Sophocles' Trachiniae 1058-61 where the word aglossos is used to describe non-Greeks. She develops her interpretation with Strabo and others, but the most helpful context comes at the end where it is noted that communication with non-Greeks could not have been uncommon (44-5).

Serafini collects references to instances of ritual silence in the cult of the Eumenides (51-7), Demeter (57-60), magic ritual (60-5), Pythagorean cult (65-8), as well as the observed silences that surround homicides (68-71). This wealth of material cannot be adequately covered here, but regarding the last, there is a useful conception of words' ability to convey pollution (68: "i Greci erano profondamente convinti che il miasma potesse trasmettersi anche attraverso le parole"), as he discusses Orestes, the silent drinking of the Choes festival, Jason and Medea's visit to Circe in the Argonautica, and the Lex Cathartica of Cyrene.

Amatori confronts the "silences" found in genealogies, focusing on the omission of women (73-6), the omission of secondary branches from family trees (76-8), and the silences that arise from the so-called "floating gap," that is, the chronologically middle section of a genealogy which is of less interest than the distant origin or present time, and so regularly forgotten (78-83). These phenomena are not caused by issues of logistics or simply lost information, they are rather strategic silences (82: "i silenzi…non sono mai casuali, ma al contrario svelano schemi convenzionali e strategie precise").

Santucci reconstructs the silences of the Athenian assembly before the oligarchic coup of 411, focusing on Thucydides' account and Aristophanes' Lysistrata. The brilliance of the conspirators lay in their co-opting democratic language to advance their agenda, while fear and suspicion prevented the majority from speaking its mind. In such a scenario, it becomes impossible for a majority to ascertain the size of a conspiracy since the majority remains silent in fear while a vocal minority is perceived to be much larger than it actually is.

Catenacci's chapter considers Odysseus' false name of "Aithon" which he reveals to Penelope in Book 19. Since many of Odysseus' false names are interpreted as meaningful or "speaking" names (Outis, Eperitos, Apheidas) what is Odysseus doing with the name "Aithon"? After overviewing past theories on this question (105-107), he offers his own: Aithon is an allusion to the similar-sounding aietos (eagle) which not only regularly represents Odysseus (108), but, more significantly, is the symbol of the dream Penelope will soon relate to him.

Montiglio, whose book Silence in the Land of Logos (Princeton, 2000) is regularly cited in this volume as foundational for the subject, expands her earlier study which focused mainly on archaic and classical Greece with a chapter on Chariton's Callirhoe. Unlike Odysseus, who is characterized by his ability to use silence for his own purposes, the heroes of this novel reflect a different ideal: Chaereas and Dionysius are regularly struck dumb with emotion, while Callirhoe, although voluntarily silent, is compelled by aidos. In fact, it is only the lower characters who use silence for rhetorical ends.

Lomiento explores Pindar's rhetorical devices of aposiopesis (132-3), praeteritio (133-5), and ainigma (135-9) as forms of silence. Aposiopesis often marks a transition and draws attention to whatever is left unsaid, while praeteritio can be seen as the avoidance of excess, not just for the purposes of performance (e.g., avoiding boredom), but because measure is a supreme ethical value (134). Ainigma requires consultation of the contentious scholia which report Pindar's "riddling", for example, about Simonides and Bacchylides. These scholia should not be dismissed but rather "registrano la convinzione ferma dell'esistenza… di un discorso sommerso" (138-9).

Olivieri examines Pindar's choices of myths in non-epinician poetry: Paean 2 omits certain features of Abdera's founding and history (143-6), Enc. frs. 118-19 Maehler treat the history of the Emmenidai differently from Ol. 2 (146-7), while Paean 12 and Hymn 1 treat differently the birth of Apollo and Artemis. The context of patronage and performance explains these differences, and similar strategies can be found in the treatment of Heracles in Isth. 4 (what to make of his eight children dying as adults?), and Melampus in Paean 4. These strategic choices do not reflect "opportunismo" but a "disincantato realismo" (150).

Beltrametti examines the use of silence in Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Euripides' Hippolytus, and Prometheus Bound. The silence and apprehension at the beginning of Agamemnon returns in the problems of articulation in the third stasimon. Hippolytus creates a mirroring structure where Phaedra maintains silence about her unspeakable passion until it becomes Hippolytus' secret to keep. Prometheus meanwhile is silent not just for the first 87 lines of the play, but holds the play's secret of Zeus' overthrow, which may be connected to secretive Orphic cults at the end of the fifth century (165-7).

Galvani collects and organizes the moments when characters in tragedy command the chorus to be silent. Although he notes there is no way to categorize these moments precisely—there will always be sui generis outliers (171)—he identifies three headings: 1. to draw attention to the stage action, e.g., the entrance of a new character (171-5), 2. to prevent the noisy chorus from awakening a sleeping character (175-80), 3. to ask the chorus to keep a secret (180-5). An exemplary outlier is the choral silencing at the beginning of Seven Against Thebes: Eteocles' motive is to protect the city from the women's infectious fear (185-90).

Bravi wishes to improve on the treatment of comedy's euphemia in Susanne Gödde's 2011 book by examining euphemia in not one but all of Aristophanes' comedies. This includes a nuanced appreciation of the metrical and musical changes that surround calls for euphemia, with helpful hints from the scholia. Although such changes do not occur at each call for euphemia, the overview does suggest a pattern: euphemia (unlike sigē and siōpē) always bears a religious or sacred aspect, whether the context be a sacrifice, a consecration of a certain space, or a prayer to the gods (202).

The volume ends with an appendix, Danese's chapter on the uses of silence in two films: Pasolini's Medea (1969) and Taymor's Titus (1999). Pasolini uses silence to characterize Medea and the Colchians as ideal and wild (read: rural proletariat) and contrast them to the talkative Greeks (read: capitalist bourgeoisie). Taymor's Titus has the mutilated Lavinia able to narrate her story first by using the "voce muta" of a book (212), but then, in a departure from Shakespeare, renouncing the voice by choosing to write not with her mouth, but with her whole body: it is the choice of a "silenzio assai fragoroso" (214).

Many connections are waiting to be made between the chapters, and I offer a few that occurred to me, for example, between ritual silence (Serafini) and dramatic silence (Beltrametti, Galvani, Bravi). Dikaiopolis' ritual silence at his homemade phallic procession (Ach. 237, discussed at 195-6) reminds of Semos of Delos' On Paeans (FGrHist 396 F 24 = Ath. 14.622a-d), where performers are described as entering in silence (sigēi) and only breaking that silence when they reach the middle of the orkhestra, at which point they turn to the audience (theatron) and announce the entrance of the god "erect and engorged". Is this ritual silence or dramatic silence and what is the relationship between the two? Is it that both ritual and drama share in some timeless rhetoric of silence (e.g., a silence which draws attention to what is about to be performed), or are the two historically related in some way (e.g., dramatic silences emerge from ritual silences)? Spina describes well the silences at the end of performances (24), but there are also the quasi-ritual silences that precede them as well.

Another question emerges from the Pindar chapters: if certain silences arise whenever a poet chooses one mythological tradition over another (141-50), or, like Catenacci's Odysseus, leaves riddling clues that the majority of listeners do not even register (135-9 for Pindaric ainigma), where is the line of "silence" to be drawn? Does all figurative language create a certain silence, inasmuch as the non-figurative version of the utterance is left unsaid? Or should one be more bold and claim rather that all language—by choosing to say one thing rather than another—is surrounded by the unspoken? Such a model reminds of Santucci's interesting description of the democratic assembly where a unified resolution conceals an unknown number of voices—unknown because they are silent—while a vocal minority is mistaken for the voice of the people.

Thus, there was often a desire for some over-arching definition of, if not consensus about, silence beyond the helpful remarks and examples of Bernardini's introduction. On the other hand, as I found myself wishing to impose that over-arching meaning on this volume about "Silence", I could not help but recall Spina's opening meditation on applause and the inability of audiences to allow silence to speak after a performance: one always surrenders to the anxious need to control silence's meanings by breaking it. Perhaps Bernardini wished to avoid just this sort of imposition on Silenzio, leaving it to the rest of us to applaud.

Authors and titles

Paola Angeli Bernardini, Introduction (9-16)
Luigi Spina, "Tacere, parlare e applaudire dinanzi alla morte" (19-25)
Maria Grazia Fileni, "Aglossos gaia: il silenzio dei barbari" (27-48)
Nicola Serafini, "Il silenzio come atto rituale: fra culti 'ctonî' e cerimonie magiche" (49-72)
Alessandra Amatori, "I silenzi nelle genealogie in età arcaica e classica: strategie e convenzioni" (73-84)
Marco Santucci, "Funzioni del silenzio nella dialettica politica di V secolo ad Atene: la katalysis tou demou del 411 a.C." (85-99)
Carmine Catenacci, "Odisseo e il falso nome Aithon (Hom. Od. 19,183)" (103-13)
Silvia Montiglio, "Emozioni e strategie: aspetti del silenzio in Cherea e Calliroe" (115-26)
Liana Lomiento, "Il silenzio nell'encomio. Riflessioni sulle figure del non detto nell'epinicio pindarico" (129-39)
Oretta Olivieri, "Dire o non dire? Strategie mitiche nella lirica pindarica" (141-50)
Anna Beltrametti, "Quali silenzi per quali segreti in tragedia: scandali, tabù, sapienza" (153-68)
Giampaolo Galvani, "Esortazioni al silenzio nella tragedia di V secolo" (169-93)
Luigi Bravi, "Scene di εὐφημία nella commedia di Aristofane" (195-203)
Roberto M. Danese, "I loquaci silenzi filmici di Medea e Lavinia. Medea di Pier Paolo Pasolini e Titus di Julie Taymor (207-15)
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