Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2016.09.47

Jens Dolata, Römische Ziegelstempel aus Mainz. Teil I: Militärische Ziegelstempel des 1. Jahrhunderts (Materialvorlage). Mainzer Archäologische Schriften, 13. Mainz: Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe, Direktion Landesarchäologie, 2014. Pp. xi, 420. ISBN 9783935970167. €85,00.

Reviewed by Ulrike Ehmig, Ruprecht Karls-Universität Heidelberg (ulrike.ehmig@uni-heidelberg.de)

Version at BMCR home site

Nach mittlerweile mehr als 25 Jahren eingehender Auseinandersetzung mit den gestempelten römischen Ziegeln aus der Provinzhauptstadt und dem Legionsstandort Mogontiacum / Mainz hat Jens Dolata 2014 eine erste umfangreiche Monographie vorgelegt. Der 420 Seiten starke Band ist explizit als Materialvorlage deklariert und hat die 1.775 gestempelten Ziegel des 1. Jahrhunderts n.Chr. zum Gegenstand.

Im einleitenden Kapitel „Typologie und Chronologie militärischer Ziegelstempel und Editionszweck" (1–19) unterstreicht Dolata die in der einschlägigen Forschung wiederholt formulierte Mahnung, die Typisierung von Ziegelstempeln auf eindeutige, in Text und Feldform gleichartige Grundtypen zu reduzieren. Zur Erläuterung der Problematik, die im Idealfall in der Vergangenheit darauf zielte, stempelgleiche Stücke zu identifizieren, gibt Dolata einen mit Abbildungen untermauerten, überzeugenden Überblick über jene Faktoren, die den Stempelabdruck bestimmen konnten. Unter anderem sind das die Holzmaserung der signacula, überlagernde Wischmarken, Pfoten- und Fingerabdrücke, das ungleichmäßige Aufsetzen und Eindrücken des Stempels, das Überstreichen beim Ausformen des Ziegels aus dem Holzrahmen, ferner die Beschaffenheit der Tonmasse und eine zu schnelle Brandentwicklung bis hin zum Abnutzungsgrad des Stempelwerkzeugs.

Für das 1. Jahrhundert gibt im nördlichen Obergermanien der Stationierungszeitraum der stempelnden Truppen Anhaltspunkte für die relativ-chronologische Abfolge ihrer Stempelrepertoires. Vor diesem Hintergrund nimmt Dolata für die in Mainz vertretenen keramischen Produkte der legiones XII Primigenia, IV Macedonica, I Adiutrix, XIV Gemina, VII Gemina und XXI Rapax eine quantitative Aufteilung vor, differenziert nach claudisch-neronischer respektive flavischer Zeit (14–15, Tab. 2–4). Ferner konstatiert er, dass die verschiedenen gestempelten Baukeramiktypen nur bedingt ein Bild der Bauanwendungen der betreffenden Zeit zeichnen (11). Angesichts der nach Baukeramiktypen aufgeschlüsselten Stempelzahlen (12 Tab. 1 und 15–16 Tab. 5–6) wüsste man jedoch natürlich gerne, ob und in welcher Weise spezielle Truppenverbände arbeitsteilig, das heißt produktspezialisiert, arbeiteten. Die Konzentration der Stempel auf nur wenige Ziegeltypen einerseits und ihr Fehlen auf einer Reihe von Spezial- und Zierziegeln (11) andererseits machen jedoch deutlich, dass derartige, bei Dolata auch gar nicht erst gestellte Fragen allein anhand des gestempelten Materials nicht zu beantworten sind. Gleichwohl möchte man—wie lange etwa auch in der Amphorenforschung—den Gedanken noch nicht aufgeben, mit den gestempelten Funden übergeordnete, den Fundort betreffende, wirtschaftshistorische Überlegungen verfolgen zu können. Dies gilt umso mehr angesichts von Beobachtungen wie den Verschiebungen der Stempelanteile über den untersuchten Zeitraum hinweg: Der Anteil der gestempelten tegulae sinkt von 77 % in claudisch-neronischer auf 47 % in flavischer Zeit. Bei den imbrices geht der Wert von 15 % auf 9 % zurück. Umgekehrt steigt er bei den lateres von zunächst nur 1 % auf 31 %. Die Veränderungen implizieren eine Reihe von Fragen, etwa inwieweit der Befund Neuregelungen in Produktionsstrukturen spiegeln könnte, die ihren Niederschlag in einer modifizierten Stempelungssitte fanden. Lassen sie sich, wie es erste Beobachtungen implizieren (20–21 und v.a. 134) mit dem Wechsel der stempelnden Truppen in Mainz und verschiedenen, für sie typischen Stempelsitten in Verbindung bringen? Ein Phänomen, das ebenfalls besonderes Interesse weckt, ist jenes mehrerer Stempel auf einem Ziegel (17 sowie 260–263). Die gängige Interpretation als Kontrollstempelung wirft die Frage auf, inwieweit derartige Stempelkoppelungen, die ähnlich auf anderen Objekten auftreten, zu denken ist insbesondere an Bleibarren, vergleichbare Mechanismen darstellen.

Auf den Seiten 20–277 erfolgt die eigentliche Vorlage der Ziegelstempel des 1. Jahrhunderts aus Mainz. Die einzelnen Kapitel entsprechen einander im Aufbau und in der Wortwahl: Auf einen kurzen Abriss der Truppengeschichte mit Fokus auf ihre Mainzer Dislokation folgen eine Aufschlüsselung und kurze Charakterisierung der Ziegelstempeltypen der jeweiligen Truppe, ferner Hinweise auf ihre Produktionsorte sowie eine tabellarische Darstellung der Verteilung der Stempel auf die verschiedenen Baukeramiktypen. Es schließen sehr gute Umzeichnungen der Stempeltypen im Maßstab 1:2 an. Darauf folgt der eigentliche Katalog mit Angaben zu Fund- und Aufbewahrungsort sowie eventueller Literatur. Alle Stempel sind in planparallelen Schwarzweißfotos im Maßstab 1:2 abgebildet.

Zwei spezielle Befunde aus dem betrachteten zeitlichen Horizont des 1. Jahrhunderts schließen an: eine archäologisch nicht näher beobachtete Ziegeldeponierung unweit der Therme bei Sankt Stephan (278–280) sowie die gestempelten Rohre und Ziegel aus dem Kontext des Zahlbacher Aquädukts (281–292).

Das Literaturverzeichnis (378–394), eine Erläuterung verwendeter Abkürzungen (395–396), Abbildungsnachweise (397–399) sowie inventar- und fundmeldeaktenorientierte Konkordanzen (400–420) beschließen den Band, der von einer CD-ROM mit vier pdf-Dateien begleitet wird. Darauf zusammengefasst sind 1. die Abbildungen aller Ziegelstempeltypen, 2. die Karten, die dadurch erweitert sind, dass alle Fundpunkte durch die Nummer der Topo-Daten (374–377), auf denen die Bilder der Dichteschätzungen beruhen, ersetzt sind, 3. die Tabellen. Die vierte Datei ist eine gesamte pdf-Version des vorliegenden Bandes.

Die Publikation hinterlässt eine gewisse Ratlosigkeit. Zum einen ist die Qualität der Materialvorlage völlig unstrittig, die gespannt auf weitere entsprechende Editionen warten lässt. Dies gilt umso mehr, als seit dem Erscheinen des Bandes neuerlich hunderte Ziegel mit militärischen Stempeln aus dem 1. Jahrhundert in Mainz zutage kamen und der gesamte zeitlich übrige Fundbestand nochmals den doppelten bis nahezu dreifachen Umfang des hier vorgelegten hat. Darüber hinaus verdient die Publikation deshalb besondere Beachtung, weil das römische Mainz in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten, von wenigen Ausnahmen abgesehen, mehr und mehr zu einem weißen Fleck in der wissenschaftlichen (Publikations-) Landschaft geworden ist (in diesem Zusammenhang 13 Anm. 70).

Zum anderen aber stellt eine mit derartigem Einsatz betriebene Materialedition ganz explizit die Frage nach ihrem historischen Wert, der über jenen eines exzellenten Bestimmungscorpus hinausgeht. Anders und konkret formuliert: Worin liegt der spezifische Gewinn für Archäologie und Geschichte des römischen Mainz, den gestempelten militärischen Ziegeln eine dergestalte Aufmerksamkeit zu widmen? Die Frage rührt, ähnlich wie bei der Beschäftigung mit Stempeln auf römischen Amphoren, an den Grundfesten der Idee, gestempeltem Material einen höheren Aussagewert für einen Fundort zuzuschreiben als ungestempeltem, beziehungsweise es für geeignet zu erachten, stellvertretend übergeordnete Schlussfolgerungen zu ziehen.

Für die Orte, an denen die Ziegel verbaut wurden, das heißt üblicherweise ihre Fundorte, waren die im Produktionskontext relevanten Stempel nicht mehr in ihrer genuinen Funktion von Bedeutung. Gleichwohl sind gerade auch für das römische Mainz bis in jüngste Zeit Versuche unternommen worden, aus der Verteilung der militärischen Ziegelstempel insbesondere im Bereich des Legionslagers weitgehende Schlüsse für die Gestaltung seiner Architektur zu ziehen. Dabei wurde die Argumentation jedoch anhand von Ergebnissen des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts geführt, die bereits schon revidiert waren und dabei dem Ziegelstempelbefund widersprechen (320–321). Dazu weist Dolata wiederholt darauf hin, dass gestempelte Ziegel in aller Regel nicht aus ihrem primären Bauzusammenhang stammen, sondern aus Sekundärverwendungen und speziell aus Schuttplanien (2 und 20).

Über die Problematik eines Funktionszusammenhangs von gestempeltem Ziegel und Fundort hinaus aber lassen sich aus dem Spektrum der in möglichst geschlossenen Kontexten vergesellschafteten Ziegelstempeltypen übergeordnete relativchronologische Anhaltspunkte gewinnen, deren detaillierte Analyse vorschnellen Schlüssen den Boden entzieht. Beispiele hierfür versteckt Dolata bedauerlicherweise weitgehend in Anmerkungen. Sie manifestieren sich etwa in den Stempelgruppen aus dem Bad des Kastells Zugmantel. Diese liefern für entsprechende Funde an anderen Orten begründete Anhaltspunkte für eine Datierung. Diese auszuhebeln bedarf guter Argumente auf breiter Materialbasis (13 Anm. 67). Ein weiteres Beispiel ist die problematische Neudatierung militärischer Ziegelstempel des späten 3. bis 5. Jahrhunderts auf der Grundlage von Trierer Funden. Nicht durchdacht wurden die Konsequenzen für die Bewertung der gesamten militärischen Bauaktivitäten der betreffenden Zeit am Rhein und der breiten ihr zugrunde liegenden Quellenbasis (299 Anm. 199).

Materialanalytische und geochemische Untersuchungen, wie Dolata sie in den vergangenen Jahren in sehr großer Zahl durchgeführt hat (16–17), haben die Möglichkeiten der Lokalisierung keramischer Produktionen auf ein neues Niveau gebracht. Mittels Referenzen konnten einerseits für Obergermanien Standorte von Heeresziegeleien, die bisher aufgrund archäologisch-historischer Indizien vermutet worden waren, bestätigt beziehungsweise ausgeschlossen werden. Andererseits erlauben sie, beliebige Ziegelfunde, gleich an welchen Orten, Produktionen zuzuweisen. Makroskopisch ist eine derartige Gruppierung nach Herstellungsprovenienzen nur sehr schwer beziehungsweise in aller Regel gar nicht möglich. Es ist verständlich, dass derart zeit- und geldintensive Analysen vor allem an gestempeltem Material durchgeführt worden sind. Gleichwohl sind die Ergebnisse, und das gilt für Ziegel gleichermaßen wie für Amphoren, nicht geeignet, Verallgemeinerungen für die um ein Vielfaches zahlreicheren ungestempelten Funde zu treffen. Bis heute nämlich werden insbesondere Ziegel nur aufbewahrt, wenn sie gestempelt oder zumindest vollständig erhalten sind. Zur Problematik der Fundüberlieferung kommen weitere methodische Hürden: Es ist nicht zu beantworten, jeder wievielte Ziegel gestempelt wurde, ob die Praxis für alle Baukeramiktypen gleichermaßen galt und von allen militärischen Einheiten übereinstimmend gehandhabt wurde. Entsprechend lassen sich aus der Analyse der gestempelten Ziegel kaum überzeugende Rückschlüsse für die quantitative wie qualitative Verteilung der Ziegelstempel an einem Fundort ziehen. Die von Dolata für jede Einheit erstellten Fundkarten (329–371) illustrieren das Dilemma: Die Fundverteilung erscheint entweder identisch, ist jedenfalls ohne detaillierte archäologische Differenzierung nicht unterscheidbar (Karten 3–8), oder die Zahl der gestempelten Ziegel ist für eine überzeugende Erklärung der Fundbilder zu gering (Karten 9–11, auch 15, 16).

Als Fazit ist festzuhalten: Die Vorlage der militärischen Ziegelstempel des 1. Jahrhunderts n.Chr. aus Mainz ist ein Bestimmungswerk par excellence. Die unterschiedenen Stempeltypen sind mit ihrer hervorragenden Dokumentation als Grundlage einer künftigen Definition von Ziegelstempelgruppen für den betreffenden Zeitraum geeignet. Die historische Aussage für den Fundort selbst bleibt beschränkt. Es lassen sich keine überzeugenden Faktoren benennen, die den Verteilungsbildern der gestempelten Ziegel eine höhere Signifikanz beimessen als der Fundverteilung der gesamten Materialgruppe. Funktion und Bedeutung der Stempel liegen im Bereich der Ziegelproduktion. Hier wäre Forschungsleistung zu investieren, um die Mechanismen dieser epigraphischen Kennzeichnung zu durchdringen. Die übergeordneten historisch relevanten Früchte der Kärrnerarbeit manifestieren sich in Anmerkungen. Es bleibt zu wünschen, dass diese Berücksichtigung finden und in der Lage sind, leichtgewichtige, hochfliegende Ideen auf den (Ziegel-)Boden zurückholen.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2016.09.46

Charles Guérin, La voix de la vérité: témoin et témoignage dans les tribunaux romains du Ier siècle avant J.-C. Mondes anciens. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2015. Pp. 424. ISBN 9782251300023. €27.50 (pb).

Reviewed by Andrew M. Riggsby, University of Texas at Austin (ariggsby@mail.utexas.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

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Giving testimony as a witness was an important act in Roman culture. It could be revelatory of individual character, and Cicero was even able to exploit the notion that proper testimony was a collective feature of Romans in opposition to their various supposedly over- and under-civilized neighbors (Flacc. 11-12, Font. 21). In part for evidentiary reasons, however, trial testimony has not received the scholarly attention it deserves, particularly from the broadly "rhetorical" point of view. Guérin does much to redress the balance in this monograph on "witnesses and testimony in the Roman courts [mostly, but not entirely the public courts] of the first century B.C."

In Guérin's persuasive account, witness testimony is both like and unlike the much better attested and studied part of trials, the oratio continua. On the one hand, witness testimony is not solely concerned with the orator's logical means of persuasion, but with character and emotion as well. In fact, the character component is particularly interesting because the advocate has to construct both his own and the witnesses' simultaneously. On the other hand, testimony is obviously different because it is collaborative/competitive and, as Quintilian stresses, unpredictable.

Testimony is also different in being much more poorly attested, both in terms of actual exemplars being preserved and of rhetorical theory. Thus Guérin performs an exhaustive collection and analysis of several types of evidence: our two distorted representations of interrogatio (In Vatinium and the fragmentary In Cornelium II); scattered testimonia embedded in speeches from other Ciceronian cases; what discussion there is in our rhetorical sources (especially ad Herennium and Quintilian); and judicious use of comparative models, particularly Greek and American. It should be noted that even some of the Latin rhetorical evidence properly falls under this last heading, as in the case of passages that are strictly about the plausibility of a narratio (not testimony) or the auctoritas of the speaker (not witness).

Chapter 1 characterizes the trial witness, particularly by comparison with both the advocates in the process and by other kinds of testis. In contrast to the advocates, the witness needs to maintain a posture of neutrality, and unlike them he is meant to be directly connected to the events about which he testifies by sense-perception. (Though in principle women can be witnesses in certain circumstances, my pronoun here represents both the normal and the normative case.) In contrast to witnesses of, say, a will or transfer by mancipatio, a trial witness is not an invited or necessarily willing participant. The events are normally something that just happened to him. Despite his detachment with respect to the parties, the person of the witness is not independent of his social being more generally. Evaluation of his testimony will depend on evaluation of his character and vice versa. This discussion foreshadows the final chapter on the conversion of testimony to argument in the course of trial.

Chapter 2 discusses the procedures through which testimony is given. In contrast to many other historical systems, the Roman procedure has few formal restrictions either on who may testify or on what may be asked/answered. The constraints, especially in the iudicia publica, lie rather in what kinds of people and what kinds of arguments the jurors are willing to be persuaded by. The chapter also treats some more specialized topics such as the double hearing of reptetundae trials, the opportunity for subpoena in some cases, and the testimony of slaves under torture.

Chapter 3 treats the sources for testimony and for its importance. There is a long argument here that, despite considerable literary reshaping, Vat. and Corn. II do ultimately represent the course of interrogationes. The fact of publishing them despite obstacles of genre, the amount of trial time devoted to witnesses (hypothetically, but plausibly, calculated), and the amount of time even in speeches devoted to discussion of witness testimony, all point to its importance in the trial process.

Chapter 4 moves into more granular detail about how witness testimony was produced. An advocate had to decide how to prepare his own witnesses and what to say in their speeches about all the witnesses that were to come. One important thing that emerges from reading Guérin, but that does not leap out of any individual source, is the fact that every advocate in every case would have had to deal simultaneously with both friendly and hostile witnesses (even ignoring the possibility of mistaking one for the other). For the friendly witness, the advocate must make sure that he is on-message, but not over prepared, prepare him for cross-examination by simulation, and make the interrogatio as seemingly dialogic as possible. For a hostile one he must, for instance, decide between ridicule, refutation, and mere destabilization, between attempting to defeat the witness in detail or scoring a particular point and withdrawing quickly.

Chapter 5 discusses how in practice Roman advocates deal with a problem that has deep philosophical roots. How do the little bits of fact (or at least "fact") provided by testimony fit into a process of argument and persuasion? Though Guérin does not quite put it this way, the process seems to mark the ultimate victory of the advocate over the witness. The witness and his testimony are evaluated together, for instance, on grounds of internal coherence of the testimony (though excess consistency can be made a sign of conspiracy), its general "plausibility," or the deportment of the witness. It was perhaps ideal to offer deductive proof that testimony is false, but the more normal case involves an array of signs and probabilities. For instance, witnesses could be impeached both for deficient and for excessive coherence. That is to say, extrinsic proof is thoroughly absorbed into the world of intrinsic proof.

As can be discerned from the above, Guérin's project is more of a survey than an essay. (It appears to derive from his habilitation.) He systematically investigates and lays out the various steps that different actors might take at each stage of the process. The most general point he makes probably comes in the context of the last chapter. Our corpus of evidence seems not to include any cases of alleged witness error. Witnesses who are wrong are always said to be lying out of some combination of poor character and immediate profit. This suppression of local factual questions in favor of (supposedly) publicly available character is the same thing we see in the treatment of the character of defendants.1 And both phenomena seem to me to mark that ultimate triumph of the orator over the witness.

This book is somewhat reminiscent of Michael Alexander's reconstruction of Cicero's opponents in its meticulous combing and combining of limited evidence.2 It is hard to imagine anyone overthrowing Guérin's account in general; if one wanted to pursue these matters further, I think the most promising line of approach would be to disaggregate some of that evidence and ask whether there are patterned differences in it. In particular, Guérin's discussion leans very heavily on repetundae cases. Procedural peculiarities of that charge seem to make witnesses more prominent in the surviving record, and it could be argued that the substance of the offense makes it more dependent on "factual" testimony than some others (a possibility that Guérin himself seems to hint at).3 Another possibility would be a more direct comparison of one or both of two phenomena that Guérin discusses but (rightly) puts aside as distinct: character laudationes and written testimony. In particular, it would be interesting to see Guérin's conclusions put into dialog with Elizabeth Meyer's work on the authority with which Romans invested certain forms of tablet.4

Guérin's monograph is thoroughly researched, clearly argued, and offers insights into all aspects of witness testimony in the Republic courts. It will be a valuable contribution to the literature on the Republican courts, on oratory, and Roman rhetoric.



Notes:


1.   See my, "Character in Roman Oratory and Rhetoric," pp. 165-85 in J. Powell and J. Paterson, edd. Cicero the Advocate (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2004).
2.   Michael C. Alexander, The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era. (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2003).
3.   For instance in my Crime and Community in Ciceronian Rome. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999).
4.   Elizabeth A. Meyer, Legitimacy and Law in the Roman World: Tabulae in Roman Belief and Practice. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

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2016.09.45

Paul-Hubert Poirier, Agathe Roman, Thomas S. Schmidt (ed.), Titus de Bostra: Contre les manichéens. Corpus Christianorum in translation (CCT), 21. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2015. Pp. 483. ISBN 9782503550176. €60.00.

Reviewed by Jean-Michel Roessli, Université Concordia (jean-michel.roessli@concordia.ca)

Version at BMCR home site

Deux ans après avoir livré la première édition critique (cf. compte rendu par Anna Van den Kerchove, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2014.08.55) de cet important traité de Titus de Bostra—la réfutation la plus développée de la religion manichéenne avant celles d'Augustin –, Agathe Roman, Thomas S. Schmidt et Paul-Hubert Poirier nous en donnent ici la première traduction française intégrale.

Auteur méconnu et longtemps oublié du IVe siècle de notre ère, Titus, dont on ignore l'origine exacte, était évêque de Bostra, capitale de l'Arabie romaine en Syrie actuelle, de ca. 361 à 371, sous les règnes successifs de Julien (l'Apostat), Jovien et Valens. Soucieux d'œuvrer en faveur de l'unité et de la paix de l'Église orientale et aux prises avec les soubresauts de la crise arienne, Titus s'attaque dans cet ouvrage aux fondements mêmes de la religion de Mani, qu'il cherche à combattre par des arguments philosophiques, d'où le caractère assez technique de sa prose. Son traité est composé de quatre livres, dont les deux premiers visent à démontrer par une démarche dialectique le caractère illogique, voire irrationnel de la doctrine de Mani, fondée sur l'idée d'une opposition entre deux principes—le bien et le mal, la lumière et les ténèbres –, tandis que les deux derniers ont pour but de réfuter l'interprétation de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Testament données par les manichéens. L'ouvrage, écrit en grec en 363-364, a été traduit en syriaque au plus tard en 411—date du manuscrit dans lequel cette traduction est conservée –, soit une cinquantaine d'années à peine après sa rédaction, sans doute pour répondre aux besoins de l'environnement bilingue dans lequel vivaient les contemporains et successeurs immédiats de Titus, et cette version est la seule qui nous soit parvenue en entier, le grec n'en ayant conservé que les deux tiers environ.

L'intérêt de la présente traduction n'est donc pas seulement de permettre à des lecteurs peu familiarisés avec les langues anciennes d'accéder à cet ouvrage capital, mais aussi de rendre compte des deux formes dans lesquelles nous pouvons le lire, la version syriaque ayant en outre l'avantage de nous avoir été transmise dans un manuscrit plus ancien que tous les manuscrits grecs—il s'agit même du plus ancien manuscrit syriaque daté—et de coller au plus près à la lettre et à l'esprit de l'original. Le syriaque permet donc de remonter par rétroversion à un état du texte potentiellement antérieur à celui que nous donnent les manuscrits grecs conservés. Chacune des deux versions possède par ailleurs ses spécificités, qu'il s'agissait de mettre en valeur.

Ce beau volume du Corpus Christianorum se compose d'un bref avant-propos (9-11) rappelant la genèse du travail, démarré au milieu des années 1980 ; il est suivi d'une introduction substantielle à l'auteur, à son œuvre et au traité lui-même, dont un plan détaillé est proposé, en plus de remarques sur le style, la langue et les particularités lexicales et grammaticales des deux formes dans lesquelles le Contre les manichéens est conservé (13-49). Une bibliographie (51-67) et une liste d'addenda et de corrigenda à l'édition des textes grec et syriaque (69-72) complètent avantageusement cette introduction générale, qui est suivie de la traduction française des deux versions, données en regard l'une de l'autre, rendant ainsi la comparaison des plus aisées. La traduction est excellente, même si le texte est de lecture assez difficile et, de l'avis même des traducteurs, quelque peu rébarbative. Une annotation sommaire mais précieuse apporte les clarifications nécessaires à la bonne intelligence du propos, en même temps qu'elle indique les parallèles les plus pertinents dans les littératures anciennes. Le volume s'achève sur un index scripturaire et un index des noms propres.

On l'aura compris : cet ouvrage comble une importante lacune dans l'histoire de l'hérésiologie antique et de la polémique anti- manichéenne ; il intéressera tous les historiens des religions et spécialistes de littérature paléochrétienne et devrait figurer en bonne place dans toute bibliothèque digne de ce nom.

Un troisième tome, en préparation, fournira un inventaire commenté des citations de l'Écriture et des citations de Mani lui- même, telles que Titus les a reproduites et utilisées dans ses écrits. Il devrait paraître sous peu chez le même éditeur.

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2016.09.44

Delphine Lauritzen, Jean de Gaza: Description du tableau cosmique. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 515. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2015. Pp. ciii, 279. ISBN 9782251005997. €65.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Elizabeth M. Conner, University of Maryland (econner1@umd.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

This volume is the first modern critical edition exclusively focused upon John of Gaza's verse ekphrasis, the Tabula Mundi, a text which constitutes our sole evidence for a megalograph of the cosmos that adorned a lost winter bath in late ancient Gaza. Delphine Lauritzen's masterful contribution offers the first translation of the text into a modern language, making accessible to students and specialists alike this understudied text consisting of 703 hexameters and two iambic prologues that shows substantial Nonnian influence as well as the imprint of Neoplatonic and scientific texts. The present work consists of a substantial introduction to the text and its transmission, text with facing-page French translation, commentary, glossary, list of passages cited from the Dionysiaca, and a substantial bibliography.

As Lauritzen emphasizes, the uneven quality of the modern critical editions (the most recent of which was that of Friedländer, published in1912), and the absence of a complete translation into a modern language has meant that the Tabula Mundi has remained fairly obscure and has not received the diffusion it merits (p. LXXXVIII). The text is transmitted by the single witness of the Supplementum Graecum 384, the second part of the Palatinus Graecus 23 which famously preserved the Palatine Anthology(AP), commonly dated to the first half of the 10th century (p. LXXII). The present edition establishes its text based on the Supplement held at the Bibliothèque Nationale and the 1608 apograph of Joseph Scaliger (Leidensis BPG 11). In fact, one of the principal contributions of this volume is to render due acknowledgment to Scaliger for his magisterial work as the premier editor of the Tabula Mundi, a role that has remained largely ignored, to the detriment of the text (p. XCVI). Lauritzen's fascinating synopsis of what may be known of the journey of the Supplement in the Early Modern period demonstrates how intellectual friendships in the "Republic of Letters" facilitated early paleographical work on the text. For example, because he could not leave his academic chair at Leiden, Scaliger never worked first hand on the portion of the antigraph transmitting John's ekphrasis but based his remarkable apograph on installments of copies sent to him from Paris by his friend Jean Gruter (1560-1627) and the young savant Claude Saumaise (1588-1653) (p. LXXXIII). Lauritzen's discussion of the posterity of John's description in late antiquity focuses on Paul the Silentiary, with some remarks about the influence of John's ekphrasis on Agathias and Dioscorus of Aphrodito. One regrets, however, that Lauritzen omits in this volume an overview of the reception of John's description among earlier Byzantine savants as well, an important subject for a reference work.

Concerning the identity of the author, Lauritzen's biographical discussion focuses less on the historical person than on elucidating a context valuable for understanding the poem (p. VII). It is unclear from the titular toponym of the Supplement, which refers to "John of Gaza" as author, whether John hailed from Gaza, whether he simply taught as a grammarian at Gaza (and originated elsewhere), or whether he both originated at Gaza and remained there to teach (as in the example of Procopius of Gaza). This superscription, however, does allow us to situate the poet in the greater context of the intellectual flowering of the School of Gaza in the 5th -6th centuries C.E., whose other leading figures, Christian rhetoricians writing classicizing prose, included Aeneas, Procopius, and Choricius. Lauritzen accepts as highly likely the identification of John author of the Tabula Mundi with the homonymous author of the six anacreontic poems. The content of the anacreontic poems and John's ekphrasis— encomiastic pieces meant for public declamation—share in common the pedagogical content of the progymnasmata, and a scholium on the Supplement testifies that John was one of a circle of celebrated anacreontic poets at Gaza. Based upon her analysis of the recently-discovered Epithalamia for Mēlēs and Antoniana of Procopius of Gaza, Lauritzen has proposed the identification of John of Gaza with the homonymous father of the groom mentioned in the oration as responsible (along with his brother Timotheus) for repairs on a bath house quite similar to that of the Supplement's superscription.1 Such a hypothesis identifying a grammaticus as a member of the Gaza boule invites us to consider perhaps a more fluid conception of these intellectual elites and their liturgical contributions to the late ancient city than predominates in modern scholarship. Ultimately, Lauritzen establishes the dates of John's activity, 500-530 C.E., on the basis of two termini post quem of Nonnos and Proclus, and, the terminus ante quem of Paul the Silentiary, as well as a scholium in the Supplement mentioning John along with Procopius of Gaza and the grammaticus Timotheus as belonging to a coterie of intellectuals (ellogimoi) at Gaza. The absence of Choricius in this list and the reference to Procopius likely indicates that John was anterior to the former and a contemporary of the latter (pp. XVI-XVII).

When we turn to consider the material reality of the painting, and the location of the bath itself, the ekphrasis and scholia are not particularly helpful, but Lauritzen provides a useful overview of the main issues and current scholarship in her introduction (pp. XVIII-XXX). John's ekphrastic interpretation of the painting iconography is itself an allegorical cosmography, a description of the interrelationships among 60 personifications of the various physical elements and principles that structure the cosmos. The central portion of the poem describes the forces of nature (including Ocean, Earth Sea, the Winds, the Storm, as well as seven angels) and the superior order of the stars, including the star par excellence, the Sun. The cycle of the sun—symbolized by the allegories of the Seasons—is supported by ordering principles as in Wisdom (Sophia) and Excellence (Aretē) as well as the figure of Atlas. Framing the personifications are two sets of symbols; namely, the Cross and the Trinity, and Ether crowning the World for its victory over Nature. These two sets of symbols are mingled in a hymn devoted to the cosmic god at lines 44-53. The range of Hellenic and Christian allegories in the description may well reflect, as Lauritzen suggests, a type of reinterpretatio Christiana (p. XXVIII). This allegorical mode is well attested at Gaza in the writings of Procopius on Dialexis on the Rose in which the sophist likely offers a Christian interpretation of elements of the Gaza festival of the Day of the Roses.2

The vibrant intertextuality of the Tabula Mundi enriches greatly our knowledge of the literary tastes and training of Gaza literati, of whom John appears to be our sole extant poet, and the diffusion of Egyptian poetry in late antiquity, most likely underscoring a lively intellectual exchange between Gaza and Alexandria. Perhaps the poet learned Nonnus' poetry during study at Alexandria, and it seems likely that John played a critical role in popularizing Nonnian verse among Gaza and Palestinian literati. Lauritzen's scholarship has contributed greatly to contemporary understanding of the innovative elements of John's vivacious mimesis of the Dionysiaca (and to a lesser extent, the Paraphrase), yet the introduction and notes in this edition could communicate her most interesting analysis on this issue far more explicitly.3 In addition to the towering presence of Nonnus, John interweaves references to standard texts and authors of the grammatical-rhetorical repertoire (Aristophanes, Euripides, Homeric Hymns, Hesiod, Homer [also a by-product of Nonnian mimesis]), as well as citations of Hellenistic authors Theocritus, Apollonius of Rhodes, Callimachus, epigrams surviving in the Greek Anthology, and Gregory of Nazianzus (Carmina moralia, Carmina dogmatic). Of particular interest also are John's quotations of scientific authors in passages related to astronomical or atmospheric phenomena (Aratus, Phaenomena; Pseudo-Manethon, Apotelesmata), a fairly unusual feature in works associated with the Gaza School.

John's references to the hymns of Proclus in the context of his cosmography merit comparative study with the inclusion of Proclus in the writings of other members of the Gaza School, especially the discussions of the creation of the cosmos in the Gaza rhetoricians Aeneas (Theophrastus), Procopius (Commentary on Genesis), and Zacharias (Ammonius). Proclus' powerful defense of the eternity of the world, articulated with precision in his Eighteen Arguments on the Eternity of the World and his Commentary on Plato's Timaeus, did much to rankle these Christian sophists from Gaza, who each responded to the diadoch in a separate treatise.4 In contrast, John deploys Proclus' verse to add both poetic and philosophical inflection in his ekphrasis. In contexts in which he is beseeching the favors of the gods of poetry (the Muses, the Sirens, Apollo), John refers to verses from Proclus' Hymns that indicate poetic inspiration (Tab.40; cf. Hymn to the Muses), and the metaphor of the breath of inspiration that navigates the ship of the poet (Tab.; cf. Hymn to Athena). Elsewhere, John makes use of Proclus' poetic personifications of the Winds (Tab. 250; cf. Hymn to Athena), the sun as the heart of the sky (Tab.74; cf. Hymn to the Sun1.6) and the rays of the sun as generating life (Tab.76; Hymn to the Sun1.10). Numerous other passages contain language and concepts replicated in various texts of Proclus (pp. LXI-LXIII). John's inclusion of Proclus confirms again the engagement of Gaza literati with Neoplatonic thought, even if late ancient Gaza, as far as we know, did not produce philosophers (famous or otherwise).

The issue of the context of performance and the audience of theekphrasis could have received greater attention here. It seems likely that John declaimed his poem publicly (p. 56n9), and if the bathhouse was indeed located in Gaza, then the audience was likely comprised of Gaza and Palestinian literati. Lauritzen's suggestion that John's references in his initial iambic prologue (Tab.2 and 12) to the figure of the philosopher "exalté par la hauteur de son sujet," drawn from Aristophanes Clouds (810 and 225), represents the Gaza poet's attempt to distance himself from the role of interpreting the allegorical figures of the Hellenic tradition, a role she judges "délicat voire risqué" in the context of 6th c. Gaza, may require qualification (p. XLV). Christian Gaza literati seem to have participated in unapologetically "Hellenic" public oratory with comfortable enthusiasm. One needs only to refer to the delightfully folksy mythological language of the Ekphrasis tou horologiou, probably delivered publicly in the Gaza city center (the clock's location), by John's contemporary, Procopius of Gaza. John's assumption of the philosopher's persona may well be similar to the posturing of Procopius as sophist-philosopher used frequently in his letters.

John's genius, which Scaliger rated more highly than that of Nonnus, has regrettably stood for far too long in the Panopolitan's shadow. One hopes that this fine edition will stimulate new literary, textual, and historical study of this long-neglected ekphrasis associated with the cultural blossoming of late antique Gaza, a subject of burgeoning scholarly interest.



Notes:


1.   On this, see Lauritzen, "Sur l'identité de Jean de Gaza: grammatikos et notable," RET 5 (2015-16): 177-210. It would have been helpful if Lauritzen could have shared in the present volume her reasoning on this matter.
2.   See Eugenio Amato, Notice, pp. 3-39 at 32-39, in idem, ed., comm., and Pierre Maréchaux, trans., Procope de Gaza. Discours et fragments. Collection des universities de France. Série grecque, 503. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2014).
3.   Cf. Lauritzen's excellent essay, "Nonnus in Gaza: the Expansion of Modern Poetry from Egypt to Palestine in the Early Sixth Century CE," pp. 421-33, in K. Spanoudakis, ed., Nonnus of Panopolis in ContextTrends in Classics Supplement 24 (Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2014).
4.   For discussion of the response of the Gaza rhetoricians to Proclus' thought on creation and eternity, see Michael W. Champion, Explaining the Cosmos: Creation and Cultural Interaction in Late-Antique Gaza Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

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Monday, September 26, 2016

2016.09.43

Camille Gerzaguet, Ambroise de Milan, La fuite du siècle. Introduction, texte critique, traduction et notes. Sources chrétiennes, 576. Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2015. Pp. 379. ISBN 9782204104647. €45.00 (pb).

Reviewed by John Moorhead, University of Queensland (j.moorhead@uq.edu.au)

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Towards the end of his life bishop Ambrose of Milan, by then a veteran commentator on the Old Testament, wrote a work in which he considered passages within that text that could be used to illustrate the topic of flight from the world, the De fuga saeculi. After a short introduction he discussed six cities of refuge mentioned in the Book of Numbers that God ordered the children of Israel to establish, to which those guilty of homicide could flee. The biblical narrative prompted a number of questions: Why were these cities located in the area of the Levites? Why were there just six of them? Why were three beyond the Jordan and three in the region of Canaan? And why could people enjoy refuge in them only until the high priest died? Having dealt with these matters, Ambrose then turned from the theme of refuge to that of flight, examining two occasions on which Jacob fled, the first to his uncle Laban in Mesopotamia after his falling out with his brother Esau and the second when he left Laban. He then examined the figure of David, with reference to his utterances in various psalms, being careful to distinguish between passages that were spoken in the voice of Christ and those spoken in David's own voice. Moving away from analysing portions of Scripture in their own right, Ambrose then considered, in a general and somewhat disjointed manner, the themes of fleeing from the evil that God permits to occur in this world and turning towards the good that is on high, before returning to the figure of Jacob, whom he now interpreted as one who found wisdom. After briefly mentioning Susannah, who is envisaged as having fled from the world and entrusted herself to God, Paul, whose flight took the form of being let down from a window in a basket, and Lot, who fled from Sodom, Ambrose concluded by recommending to his readers that they flee from the wrath to come by means of repentance and faith.

Summarized in this way, the work gives the impression of being a hodgepodge of material that does not fully cohere. Its chunky nature reflects its being a reworking of sermons delivered on different occasions, and it retains an air of exhortation, the word fugiamus occurring remarkably frequently. In the introduction to her fine edition and its accompanying translation into French, Camille Gerzaguet shows the difficulty of establishing the composition of the audience of the sermons. Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that some of the preaching may have been delivered to people who were not yet baptized, and in this respect those who heard the sermons can be contrasted with the readers of the book that Ambrose based on them, for these were clearly people who had been baptized. They were also interested in philosophical issues. At a strategic point towards the end of the work, Ambrose accused Plato of having based some of his teaching on the Old Testament. The point was by no means an original one, but Gerzaguet reminds us that there were a number of Christians in Milan at that very time who were interested in Neoplatonism, and when Ambrose insisted on the priority of biblical teaching it will have been with them in mind. She also provides a very worthwhile discussion of the date of the work. The key piece of evidence is a citation of Sallust that seems to depend on a work that may well have appeared in 395, or perhaps later, which Ambrose uses to defend the Latinity of St Paul, a surprising ploy, for he was well aware that the Latin text before him was a translation of the original Greek the Apostle had written. Gerzaguet sets this use of Sallust beside the potential relevance to a work on the topic of flight of Ambrose's own flight from Milan a few years earlier when the usurper Eugenius had been in power, and similarities between the De fuga and two other items written by Ambrose at that period, a letter that can be dated to between Christmas 394 and Easter 395 and his De Isaac, that she feels was written in about 396. On the basis of this evidence she is able to build a strong case for placing the composition of the De fuga in 395 or 396, and so at the very end of Ambrose's life.

Gerzaguet also very helpfully locates Ambrose's thought against the background of earlier thinking. She demonstrates his sustained debt to Philo's exegesis of the Old Testament, and the fleeting uses to which he put Origen, Plato and Plotinus; portions of Philo's De fuga et invention that are given in Greek with a French translation allow readers to see just how Ambrose dealt with this source. Ambrose was concerned to bring the doctrines of the philosophers into some kind of harmony with those of the Bible. Hence, he felt that Plato's teaching on the need for assimilation (ομοίωσις) unto God to the extent that this was possible (Theaet. 176ac) was to be interpreted in the light of the biblical notion of man being made in the image and likeness (καθ' 'ομοίωσιν) of God (Gen 1:26); he elsewhere writes of the believer being a new creation having the likeness of Christ, having been buried with him in likeness of his death and taken up the likeness of his life; it may have been worthwhile noting that Ambrose is drawing here from a passage in Paul concerned with baptism (Rom 6: 4-5). Similarly, the dichotomy between the soul and the body that had been familiar since the time of Plato could be understood in the light of Paul's distinction between the spirit and the flesh, or, as Ambrose put it, the heart and the body, although he did not hold, like Plato, that the body was evil because it was material; rather, the problem was that it was marked by sin. Such manoeuvres, which Gerzaguet helpfully describes as a decomposition and reconstruction of the expressions of pre-Christian philosophy, can read like unconvincing attempts to bring one body of thought into harmony with another which was quite dissimilar to it, but she points out that that, given Ambrose's understanding of the biblical origin of much of what the philosophers said, he would have seen himself as doing no more than placing their ideas in their native context.

The Latin text printed here marks an advance on its predecessors, for the editor is able to bring forward a manuscript not hitherto used, one copied in Milan between 860 and 875, and hence the oldest one emanating from Ambrose's city, where textual memory of his works was carefully maintained. The critical edition that has hitherto been standard, that of Schenkl (1897), relied too heavily on the two oldest manuscripts, for these represented one family, the French, to the neglect of a Germano-Italian family, to which the Milanese manuscript belongs. In manuscripts belonging to this family the De fuga occurs as one of a group of seven works of Ambrose that Cassiodorus was already familiar with, a circumstance that suggests the antiquity of this family. She therefore proposes a number of readings different to those adopted by Schenkl, although some of them were anticipated by Gabriele Banterle in the lightly revised version of Schenkl's edition he published in 1980. An important change is made at 2.8, where she reads publicas leges in place of publicare leges; rather than seeing the church as not publishing its own laws, Ambrose thought of it as ignoring civil laws, an amendment that calls into question arguments advanced by some recent scholars. A fascinating section of Notes Critiques at the end of the book justifies her textual decisions. There is also a short commentary on the afterlife of the work that discusses the uses to which it was put during the Pelagian crisis, when Augustine found its emphasis on God's grace useful, and the Carolingian period, while pointing out the apparent lack of interest taken on the work by later ascetic authors. This discussion is not particularly satisfying, for as Gerzaguet points out a good deal of work remains to be done in this area, but it is clear that this work did not enjoy the success in the Middle Ages that some of Ambrose's other works did.

The same is true of the modern period, for the De fuga is not one of Ambrose's better known works, and the abstract nature of its content limits its use for historians; despite the title of his book, David Natal Villazala is able almost entirely to avoid it in his study Fugiamus ergo forum: asceticism y poder en Ambrosio de Milan (2010). Its interest rather lies in its handling of philosophical themes. Gerzaguet's most worthwhile evaluation of these, as well as the philological acumen of her work, will ensure that this new edition will henceforth be the standard one.

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2016.09.42

Gabriel Bodard, Matteo Romanello (ed.), Digital Classics outside the Echo-Chamber: Teaching, Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement. London: Ubiquity Press, 2016. Pp. 234. ISBN 9781909188617. £34.99.

Reviewed by Gabriel Moss, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (gwmoss@live.unc.edu)

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Among specialists in the many subfields of classics, scholars whose work draws on the digital humanities tend to be refreshingly optimistic. Amid the pervasive gloom of modern academia, tech-oriented philologists, archaeologists, and historians form a rare group which believes that the state of its field will be better in a decade or two than it is today. In excess, this optimism can verge on a sort of technocratic utopianism, a belief that when data is sufficiently "Big", access sufficiently open, labor sufficiently crowdsourced (and grants sufficiently generous), then the seemingly intractable problems faced by generations of scholars and teachers will melt away. Such unchecked optimism is not entirely absent in Digital Classics Outside the Echo-Chamber. Yet as numerous outstanding contributions to the volume demonstrate, inventive digital approaches paired with the methodological rigor and thoroughgoing skepticism of more traditional scholarship can offer impressive results, especially as a bridge between academia and the broader public.

In an excellent introduction, Bodard and Romanello argue that it is vital for digital classicists to break free of the narrow "echo chamber" of their specialty, engaging with scholars outside the field of classics as well as students and enthusiasts beyond the traditional academy. This interdisciplinary engagement is a two-way street: digital classicists "import" high-tech methodologies and crowdsourced labor from beyond the echo-chamber, and they "export" in turn innovative pedagogy and engaging, open avenues for the general public to explore the ancient past. In one way or another, the projects described in this volume all make a self-conscious effort to breach the walls of their echo chambers.

The first and longest section ("Teaching") explores digital approaches to pedagogy, featuring projects which aim to improve classical language training both within the university classroom and beyond it. Three chapters argue for the benefits of various forms of textual markup in teaching Latin and Greek: chapter one provides a broad discussion of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), while chapters three and five focus on the specific examples of the EpiDoc markup standards and the Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank. These chapters make persuasive claims that the structured process of parsing texts into machine-readable formats provides students with rigorous training in both the technicalities of Latin and Greek, and in the interpretive choices scholars make when editing an ancient text. Though less than tech-savvy instructors will perhaps be daunted by this pedagogical mix of classics and programming, the pioneers of this hybrid approach provide an array of anecdotal evidence to suggest that it is engaging and effective.

The remaining chapters in section one stick closer to the traditional forms of classics pedagogy, discussing how the digital revolution has opened up wider access to instructional tools. In chapter two, Simon Mahony advocates for the increased availability and diversity of Open Educational Resources (OERs). He argues especially that they are most useful when released in smaller units, as lessons and assignments rather than entire pre-fabricated courses. In chapter four, Jeff Rydberg-Cox focuses on one OER (rather more sizeable than Mahony might like), an interactive Ancient Greek textbook aimed at students unable to study the language in a traditional university classroom.

In section two ("Knowledge Exchange"), focus shifts to the connections between digital classicists and their colleagues in other disciplines. Drawing upon her career as an image processing specialist for both surgeons and papyrologists, Ségolène Tarte presents a superb linguistic and epistemological primer for interdisciplinary cooperation. She argues that the key is an understanding of the loaded terminology and engrained expectations in both fields about knowledge production. In chapter seven, Campagnolo and others show Tarte's principles put into practice, reflecting on a project that studied parchment decay by combining the expertise of cultural preservation specialists with the methodologies of bio-medical engineers. Valeria Vitale in chapter eight proposes a new documentation standard for the 3D reconstruction of historical objects, a standard based on the information technology concept of Linked Open Data which promises to produce more transparent, intellectually honest 3D models.

The third and final section of the volume ("Public Engagement") turns towards crowdsourcing, public scholarship, and other ways that classicists can inspire and benefit from widespread enthusiasm for the ancient past. In chapter nine, Almas and Beaulieu present the Perseids platform, an initiative by the Perseus Digital Library which allows users to collaboratively transcribe, translate, and even edit ancient texts, and then makes the fruits of this labor available to the internet at large. Chapter ten, by James Brusuelas, discusses Oxford's Ancient Lives project, a crowdsourced effort to transcribe the Oxyrhynchus papyri. Finally, in chapter eleven, Silvia Orlandi discusses EAGLE (the Europeana network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy), which seeks to make inscriptions available to the general public not just as texts, but as material objects set in the full richness of their archaeological, historical, and linguistic contexts.

Clearly, Digital Classics Beyond the Echo Chamber encompasses an impressive diversity of topics, and a review can most usefully identify those chapters which exemplify the systemic strengths and liabilities both of the volume and of digital classics more broadly. For example, when the digital classics stumble it is often through the unchecked optimism and overconfidence mentioned above. This weakness can manifest itself in the unreflective assumption that a digital approach is the best solution to any given problem. Strong though both chapters are, Simon Mahony's survey of Open Educational Resources (chapter two) and Jeff Rydberg-Cox's presentation of a digital ancient Greek textbook (chapter four) could both be more explicit about the benefits of a digital approach to pedagogy. Mahony, for instance, quite openly takes the value of OERs as a given. Yet the inherent worth of open-access, online teaching materials (from MOOCs on down) is hardly agreed upon outside the echo-chamber of digital classics.1 In a book that aims to break disciplinary walls, OERs deserve a more forceful defense. For his part, Rydberg-Cox makes a compelling case for widely available, digital resources for learning ancient Greek (especially for the benefit of students geographically removed from elite universities). Yet he does not provide enough evidence that his own interactive Greek textbook is educationally effective. Despite its long list of impressive technical features, his tutorial is fundamentally based on a textbook from 1896, with its attendant hyper-grammarian slant (for example, students learn to decline nouns in the dual before learning the verb "to be"). A digital, interactive version of this textbook is certainly better than no Greek resources at all; yet Rydberg-Cox could do more to convince us that it is necessarily better for the conscientious student than a newer, non-digital textbook.

Hints of utopian overconfidence in digital methodologies also appear in several of the chapters on crowdsourced research. Almas and Beaulieu's Perseids Platform (chapter nine) and Silvia Orlandi's EAGLE network (chapter eleven) share the laudable goal of "democratizing" research, breaching the ivory walls of the academic echo-chamber to engage the general public in the consumption and construction of academic knowledge. Both platforms not only give users access to vast libraries of ancient texts, but also allow them to publish translations and editions of texts (in the case of Perseids) or micro-narratives around epigraphic documents (in the case of EAGLE's storytelling application). These are without doubt worthwhile projects, backed by sophisticated technological infrastructures. Yet we are told very little about the editorial processes used to ensure the quality of user-published work.2 Crowdsourced research is only as good as its editors. If the products of these platforms are to be accepted by the mainstream academic community, Almas, Beaulieu, and Orlandi should feel obliged to more thoroughly convince us that strong editorial checks exist against too radically democratic scholarship.

Whereas this volume's more problematic chapters stumble over their contagious enthusiasm for the digital humanities, the best ones firmly constrain themselves within the bounds of the possible. They recognize the limitations of digital approaches along with the opportunities, and at every step they work to ensure that digital optimism does not sweep away the intellectually rigorous cynicism of traditional scholarship.

James Brusuelas' Ancient Lives project (chapter ten) is exemplary in this regard. While it shares Perseids' and EAGLE's mass-participatory approach to research, it sets more easily achievable goals, asking its users only to transcribe papyrus texts. As Brusuelas puts it, this project has been successful because its central crowdsourced task is nothing more than pattern recognition, "a task at which the human brain excels." Beyond setting this reasonable goal for untrained users, Ancient Lives employs some truly impressive computational techniques to collate and "average" many users' transcriptions of the same papyri in order to produce a "consensus text." This approach nicely leverages the numeric advantages of crowdsourced research: not just editorial oversight but the law of averages checks academically untenable contributions by rogue enthusiasts. Finally, Ancient Lives excels in rigorously self-assessing the accuracy of its crowdsourced contributions: at least on relatively simple and legible papyri, its consensus transcriptions matched expert transcriptions 95% of the time. The inclusion of this statistic is critical to the success of Brusuelas' chapter in breaking the echo-chamber of digital classics: skeptical readers in traditional academia need not take the accuracy of crowdsourced papyrus transcription on faith alone. All told, Brusuelas' careful, measured approach to democratized scholarship has produced an outstanding model of a well-designed research project.

Valeria Vitale's proposal for a new set of documentation standards for 3D modeling (chapter eight) deserves similar praise. Like Bruselas, Vitale sees a technology-driven research trend that is very much in vogue (crowdsourcing for the former, 3D reconstruction for the latter), and is keenly aware that its products may not meet the traditional standards for academic rigor. Vitale makes the convincing case that the lack of shared, technologically viable documentation standards has rendered many 3D models of historical objects little more than crowd-pleasing curiosities. Without clear and accessible metadata describing the decision making process that went into each aspect of a reconstruction, the project cannot be replicated or formally critiqued, excluding it from mainstream academic discourse. Vitale's new standards cleverly apply a relatively simple and well-understood technology, Linked Open Data, to this basic problem of academic credibility. Vitale's program is still in its early stages. Yet if it wins widespread acceptance in the field, her melding of the visual potential of 3D reconstruction with traditional academic rules of evidence may well be remembered as this volume's most important contribution to the field.

All told, Digital Classics Beyond the Echo Chamber reflects a field in the process of self-discovery, balancing the utopian optimism of the digital revolution against the traditional standards of classical studies. The work is at times too technical for non-digital classicists, and its focus on digital philology to the exclusion of projects involving G.I.S. or archaeology means it does not quite capture the full diversity of the digital classics in 2016. Still, its best chapters provide models of outstanding research design for scholars of the ancient past contemplating public-facing, digital research projects.



Notes:


1.   On the heated debate over MOOCs in particular, see Heller, Nathan. "Laptop U." The New Yorker. May 20, 2013.
2.   The EAGLE storytelling application, whose FAQ's encourage users to "unleash their creativity" is particularly concerning in this regard.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016.09.41

Jonathan Master, Provincial Soldiers and Imperial Instability in the 'Histories' of Tacitus. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. Pp. viii, 238. ISBN 9780472119837. $70.00.

Reviewed by Lydia Spielberg, Radboud University (L.Spielberg@let.ru.nl)

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Tacitus' Histories have never received the attention lavished on the Annals, and provincial and external narratives in both works are often treated as ancillaries to the "main action" in Rome. Master's book contributes to the slow but steady righting of the first imbalance by taking aim at the latter assumption.1 His thesis is that the provinces are in fact the center of the Histories's didactic mission, namely, to show that Rome's reliance on provincial manpower will have dangerous consequences for the empire unless these soldiers, like the Italian allies before them, are given citizenship and fully integrated into Roman society.

Master argues that this is an unambiguous and specific didactic program aimed at Tacitus' Trajanic readership, and that such specific lessons are a hallmark of ancient historiography, although they often lie below the surface and require the reader to navigate a polyphony of narrative voices and opinions. Didacticism, in his view, offers the potential to reunite historians and literary scholars divided by the "rhetorical turn" by grounding ancient historiography in "the lessons of history" (18-19). Nevertheless, the book Master has written is, as he admits, firmly on the literary side of the room. Although there are nods to scholarship on ethnic soldiers in modern colonial regimes (19-25) and on ethnic identity in the Roman empire (26-27), Master by and large avoids historical questions about the historical realities of provincial revolts or the influence of Tacitus' Trajanic context on his depiction of military policy a generation earlier. Rather, Master aims to tease out a consistent presentation of provincial soldiers and their consequences for the empire in the narrative of the Histories. He does this largely by comparing speeches and narrative portions of the work to earlier texts such as Cicero's Pro Balbo, Sallust's Histories, Augustus' Res Gestae, and historiographical traditions about the Social War.

The Batavian Revolt narrated in Histories 4 and 5 dominates chapters 1, 4 and 5, with periodic excursions to relevant episodes in the earlier books, while the two central chapters consider respectively the preface and the overall "annalistic" organization of the Histories. The result is a book that is not for the novice. Master jumps abruptly backward and forward in time and text, and he does not waste time with historical summary. The reader is expected to be already familiar with the persons, events, and sometimes Latin of the Histories to a high degree of detail.

The first chapter falls into two quite distinct parts. In the first, Master sets out his methodology, through a close analysis of the speeches of the Batavian leader Julius Civilis. In spite of the fact that Civilis is characterized as "dishonest and treacherous", Master argues, his criticisms are shown to have merit, and moreover, to fit within a tradition about the proper recompense of soldiers and allies who fight for Rome. This leads Master to the general interpretative proposition that the "lesson" of a given passage should be found in its cumulative and intertextual effect rather than based on pronouncements by the historiographical narrator. The second half of the chapter turns to provincial soldiers throughout the Histories. Master argues that provincial manpower is shown by Tacitus to be vital to the maintenance of the empire, but also a constant source of instability in its present form. Here the strengths of Master's approach are most evident: he points out that there are implicit Tacitean claims about realia behind the application of well-worn topoi. Tacitus characterizes the Vitellian and Flavian armies of 69 as not just "like" barbarians, Master argues, but shows them to be actual foreigners, provincial soldiers who enter Rome as an alien city with complete ignorance of its history and customs and little incentive to preserve it.

Chapter 2 moves (backward) to the opening geographical survey of the empire in Histories 1.4-11, which Master reads as a "reminder of how tenuous Rome's grasp on its empire is" (75). Master emphasizes the novelty of using geography rather than time as a structuring device. He argues that it signals a "different way of understanding history" than that used by, e.g., Thucydides and Sallust: for Tacitus, explanations of events in a fragmented empire with many potential sources of power have to be sought in "location, distance, and diversity" rather than simply in time past (84).

In Chapter 3, Master broadens his scope to the form of the Histories. He argues that the work invokes and then subverts the conventions of "annalistic" historiography, as civil war and an expanding empire confuse standard annalistic elements like the consulship, the price of grain, and the division into res internae and res externae. Few will dispute the extension of Ginsburg's analysis from the Annals to the Histories2, and Master's readings of Tacitus are at their most convincing when he shows that the historian first imposes the "annalistic" norms of linear chronology and neat division into res internae and res externae and only then disrupts them (133-38). One could have wished for similar depth and precision in the treatment of other "annalistic" features. The grain supply gets a suggestive but incomplete page and half, and prodigies are omitted altogether, a strange gap considering the prominent Eastern portents of Vespasian's reign (e.g. Hist. 4.81-82). The absence of this archetypical annalistic preoccupation is especially noteworthy because Master consistently emphasizes the early Republican tradition in his lengthy and not always persuasive account of the "annalistic historiography" evoked by the consular dating that opens the Histories (but surely the Historiae of Sallust and Asinius Pollio are more relevant here than the Annales of Quadrigarius or even Livy?). Instead, there is a discussion of obituary notices, here oddly considered "another traditional category of annals" (122).3

Chapters 4 and 5 present Master's case for Tacitus' constructive argument: "the Histories point the way to lessons for how to regain a lasting stability in the provinces." In Chapter 4, Master analyzes repeated failed attempts to distinguish "Roman" from "Germanic" by both the leaders of the Batavian Revolt and the Roman generals who try to crush it, ending with a good account of the debate between the Tencteri and the assimilated German inhabitants of Cologne (157-63). The lesson for the reader, Master concludes, is that Roman and Provincial have become inextricable. Chapter 5 argues that Tacitus models his account of the Batavian Revolt and the motives of its leaders on the Social War, which was only resolved when Roman citizenship was extended across Italy. After underlining the theme of "identity transformation" in the Histories, Master draws attention to the precariousness of Roman identity in northern Italy (176-81), an Italic pun in Vitellius' name (182- 85), and general historical similarities between Social Wars and the events of 69-70.

A brief Conclusion reiterates the thesis that the Histories provide a warning and a blueprint for imperial Rome's relationship with her subject peoples, adducing the excursus on the Jews in Histories 5 as a further example of the utility in reading for a complex, constructive message beneath the apparent prejudices and cynical dismissals of the work's narrator.

Specific thesis and readings aside, Master's most provocative move is to split the "narrator" of the Histories cleanly from the historian: "When the narrator of the Histories most obviously attempts to frame the reception of the content of the narrative... readers should be wary of accepting his framing." (203). Thus, for Master, the Tacitean narrator may undermine the credibility of speakers like Civilis, engage in ethnic stereotyping, and offer bitterly pessimistic sententiae, but the "historian"—understood as something like the intentionality of the work as a whole — shows an optimistic path to imperial stability through full provincial enfranchisement. It is in this sense that Master claims to "reconnect historiography and history" by "explor[ing] what lessons the Histories and other ancient historical works might be setting out before their readers."(203).

This claim deserves to be argued and entertained seriously. Although "persona-theory" has long been a staple of scholarship on satiric genres, and the "further voices" of the Aeneid are well known, the historiographical "I" – perhaps because of the genre's reliance on the authority of its author as a purveyor of the truth – has resisted such disentanglement from the persona taken on by the historian.4 On one level, Master is surely right. The meaning of Tacitus' historical works is often more complex and subtle than the first-person comments of the historian would seem to allow, and Master's insistence that we not take refuge in the easy answers of "ambiguity" and "ambivalence" is salutary. It may likewise be more satisfying to resolve such discrepancies by imagining a Tacitean "author function" that plays a long game for the benefit of the perceptive reader rather than, say, the old picture of an embittered historian whose commitment to accurate reporting is at war with his desire to insinuate the worst.5 On the other hand, some readers may find it hard to embrace a historically informed reading of Tacitus that requires divorcing the work's message and claims to social utility from those of the powerful voice that claims ownership in the Histories' first sentence: Initium mihi operis Servius Galba iterum…

The book is well-produced, although with occasional inconsistencies in the style of primary source citation, italicization of non-English words, and the normalization of v and u in Latin text. Among the very few typos, I note the following: p. vii for "at the Het Valkhof Museum" read "at the Valkhof Museum", p. 5 for "convivorum elegantiam" read "conviviorum elegantiam", p. 46-47 n.48 for "Steel" read "Steele" (2x), p. 77 n.8 for "Raflaub" read "Raaflaub"; p. 133 for hae tibi artes read hae tibi erunt artes.



Notes:


1.   Master's book joins the monographs of R. Ash, Ordering Anarchy: Armies and Leaders in Tacitus' Histories, London 1999 (BMCR 2000.05.21), H. Haynes, Empire of Make-Believe: Tacitus on Imperial Rome, Berkeley 2003, T. Joseph, Tacitus the Epic Successor, Brill 2012 (BMCR 2013.05.17), and the commentaries of Damon on Histories I (2003, BMCR 2003.09.14) and Ash on Histories II (2007, BMCR 2008.10.34) in the Cambridge Greek and Latin Commentaries series.
2.   J. Ginsburg, Tradition and Theme in the Annals of Tacitus, Salem NH, 1984.
3.   Extended obituaries were in fact regarded as a relatively recent innovation: Seneca the Elder, Suas. 6.21.
4.   See e.g. R. O. A. M. Lyne, Further Voices in Vergil's Aeneid, Oxford 1987, W. S. Anderson, Essays on Roman Satire, Princeton 1982, M. M. Winkler, The persona in three Satires of Juvenal, Hildesheim 1983.
5.   For the latter interpretation, see e.g. I. S. Ryberg Tacitus' Art of Innuendo, TAPA 73, 1942: 383-404, B. Walker, The Annals of Tacitus: A Study in the Writing of History, Manchester 1952, 82-157.

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2016.09.40

Adrian Mihai, L'Hadès céleste: histoire du purgatoire dans l'Antiquité. Kaïnon – Présence de la philosophie ancienne, 1​. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2015. Pp. 469. ISBN 9782812433962. €49.00 (pb).

Reviewed by François​ Doyon, Cégep de Saint-Jérôme​ (fdoyon @cstj.qc.ca)

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Cet ouvrage met au jour, dans près d'un millénaire d'histoire de la pensée païenne, l'existence d'un lieu purgatoire, lieu intermédiaire de purification des âmes situé entre le monde physique et le monde métaphysique. C'est une magistrale remise en question de la thèse de Jacques Le Goff, selon laquelle le purgatoire est une invention du XIIe siècle. La première partie de l'ouvrage expose la doctrine du purgatoire dans l'ancienne Académie et dans le stoïcisme, où l'auteur traite l'influence de l'Épinomis et de la controverse sur l'existence d'une l'eschatologie luni-solaire chez Posidonius d'Apamée. La deuxième partie de l'étude se penche sur différentes conceptions de l'Hadès céleste, qui est au départ conçu comme atmosphérique et qui finit par devenir planétaire. Les doctrines sur le purgatoire de Plutarque, de Virgile, Cicéron, du gnosticisme et de l'hermétisme sont abordées dans le détail. Enfin la troisième partie montre que chez les néoplatoniciens, le purgatoire retrouve sa localisation d'origine; les entrailles de la Terre. On trouve en annexes une anthologie de témoignages ponctuels sur l'Hadès céleste ainsi qu'une traduction et un commentaire du In Meteor de Philopon.

L'auteur défend la thèse selon laquelle dans l'Antiquité, le problème du sort de l'âme désincarné est toujours pensé en fonction de la radicale séparation physique et ontologique entre le monde supralunaire et le monde sublunaire ainsi qu'en fonction de l'importance croissante de la médiation entre ces deux régions cosmiques. Pour démontrer sa thèse, l'auteur s'attache à interpréter les variations de la notion d'Hadès céleste au cours du temps, en retraçant les motivations successives qu'on trouve chez les penseurs dans l'élaboration de cet espace purgatoire qui a été jusque là interprété fautivement comme un espace homogène à l'abri de toute évolution notable. La démonstration de l'auteur prend la forme d'une présentation entièrement consacrée au sujet de l'Hadès céleste et à son évolution durant toute l'Antiquité, la première, à notre connaissance.

Dans la littérature homérique, l'Hadès est un lieu souterrain, le lieu physique du séjour des âmes après la mort du corps. La transformation de la religion traditionnelle sous l'influence de la critique philosophique et de l'interprétation dualiste des dialogues platoniciens a fait évoluer la conception antique de l'Hadès qui a cessé d'être pour tous les penseurs un lieu terrestre ou infra-terrestre. L'Hadès est devenu céleste (mais il redeviendra chthonien chez Proclus). Dans cette traversée de plus de huit siècles de philosophie et de religion antiques, l'auteur a relevé le caractère central et durable de la notion d'Hadès céleste, notion qui est habituellement considérée comme marginale et limitée aux premiers siècles de l'ère chrétienne. L'auteur montre que ce jugement doit être révisé : « la notion du dieu Hadès comme souverain du monde sublunaire est encore soutenue par les néoplatoniciens à la fin de l'Antiquité, même si le domaine du purgatoire est limité au monde chthonien traditionnel » (p. 395).

L'étude expose de façon minutieuse et détaillée les principes de la doctrine du purgatoire durant l'Antiquité. On apprend que la division cosmologique et ontologique entre le monde supralunaire et le monde sublunaire a posé le problème de la transition du monde physique vers le monde métaphysique qui correspond à ces deux régions du cosmos. Le développement de la notion de l'Hadès ouranien comme lieu intermédiaire entre le sensible et l'intelligible est la réponse à ce problème que pose cette forme de dualisme platonicien.

Il se pose alors le problème de l'emplacement précis de cet Hadès céleste. Dans le monde antique, on rencontre deux systèmes eschatologiques, donc deux modèles cosmologiques : la plus ancienne est une cosmologie à trois niveaux (la Terre, la Lune, la sphère des étoiles fixes et le Soleil) et l'autre est une cosmologie qui comporte sept niveaux, qui correspondent aux sept astres visibles dans l'Antiquité, si l'on fait abstraction des étoiles fixes. Selon l'ordre des astres adopté par chaque auteur, nous trouvons une eschatologie et un emplacement de l'Hadès ouranien différent.

L'Hadès céleste, que les chrétiens appellent purgatoire, explique l'ascension et la purification de l'âme après la mort du corps. La partie la plus pure de l'âme, l'intellect (le νοῦς), étant incorporelle, elle a besoin d'un véhicule corporel (l'ὄχημα) afin de voyager à travers les sphères planétaires avant et après son incorporation.

En fonction de leur cosmologie, les auteurs antiques ont ainsi proposé différentes localisations de l'Hadès (je reprends la synthèse de l'auteur, p. 396) :
1. un Hadès sublunaire, situé entre la terre et la Lune (Plutarque, Xénocrate, Philippe d'Oponte, Apulée, Macrobe, etc.) ;
2. un Hadès situé entre la terre et le Soleil (Héraclide du Pont, Jamblique) ;
3. un Hadès situé entre la sphère des Fixes et la Lune, le Tartare étant situé à son tour entre la Lune et la terre (les écrits hermétiques, Numénius) ;
4. un Hadès chthonien (les néoplatoniciens grecs, tels Porphyre, Proclus et Damascius).

Mais l'auteur n'a pas fait que situer l'emplacement de l'Hadès dans l'histoire de l'eschatologie antique. Il a aussi proposé une interprétation de l'Hadès comme étant un purgatoire païen. En effet, pour le néoplatonisme, l'Hadès retourne dans les creux de la terre, où sont aussi situées les prisons de rétribution. Pour Proclus, c'est un lieu souterrain réel. Le véhicule astral hypercosmique et le véhicule pneumatique planétaire accompagnent l'âme dans son exil aux creux dans les creux de la terre. L'âme est châtiée dans l'Hadès souterrain, mais les juges des âmes sont localisés dans la région lunaire. Proclus suit ici Platon qui situait dans la région lunaire la résidence des démons. « Cette tradition platonicienne nous ramène encore une fois aux premières spéculations sur le purgatoire céleste commencées dans l'ancienne Académie, et avec les néoplatoniciens de l'Antiquité tardive se ferme la boucle, le dernier mot sur le purgatoire païen retourne se perdre en son début » (p. 394).

Cette étude est fascinante, même si la notion de purgatoire peut sembler désuète, car l'auteur nous fait découvrir toute la richesse de la pensée métaphysique et cosmologique de près d'un millénaire de spéculations. Nous avons là une démonstration aussi rigoureuse qu'originale de la très grande influence de la pensée païenne sur la formation de concepts que l'on croit généralement d'origine chrétienne.

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2016.09.39

Noel Lenski, Constantine and the Cities: Imperial Authority and Civic Politics. Empire and after. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. Pp. ix, 404. ISBN 9780812247770. $79.95 (hb).

Reviewed by Hendrik Dey, Hunter College, CUNY (hdey@hunter.cuny.edu)

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While the life and times of emperor Constantine I have never wanted for scholarly attention, the bibliographical floodgates have opened since the seventeenth centenary of his accession, in 2006, and the battle of the Milvian Bridge, in 2012. We can expect the rising torrent to attain biblical proportions by the centenary of his death in 2037, probably with intermediate surges around 2024 (Chrysopolis) and 2030 (the dedication of Constantinople). One reason for the endless stream of monographs is that Constantine has proven so hard to pin down, so open to the most diverse and conflicting interpretations, as Noel Lenski points out in the succinct historiographical summary with which he prefaces Constantine and the Cities. Constantine has been many things (religious zealot, saintly preceptor, pragmatic realpolitiker, cynical opportunist, benighted rube, etc.) to the very many people who have thought about him, judged him, and written about him from his own time up until the present, nearly all of whom have presumed to understand the 'real' Constantine. Lenski sensibly demurs: 'It is this fundamental assumption, the assumption that an essential Constantine exists and that, once uncovered, its framework can be used as the key to unlock this perennial hermeneutic mystery, that this monograph draws into question.' (pp. 6-7)

Rather, Lenski seeks new purchase on Constantine the chameleon by focusing on communications between emperor and subjects, especially the system of petition-and-response that permitted a direct channel of discourse between Roman emperors and various constituencies throughout the empire, the workings of which are adumbrated inter alia by surviving rescripts and several illuminating inscriptions of Constantinian date that Lenski uses to especially good effect. Lenski's Constantine, then, is essentially mediated: if we can never really know Constantine, we can at least seek to know better the multifarious personas he chose to present to different groups at different times over the course of his long reign; the assumptions and expectations of those who petitioned him; and the responses available to those petitioners when confronted with imperial pronouncements.

Lenski girds his approach with a theoretical carapace derived from S. Hall's application of Jaussian reception theory—according to which art and cultural production constitute reality as much as they passively represent or reflect it—to systems of mass communication, leavened with a sprinkling of Jürgen Habermas on the ways in which social activity is structured, or negotiated, through discourse. Lenski thus prefaces his reading of Constantine with two related premises: that Constantine's life was a collective affair, a continual give-and-take between the emperor and his subjects that shaped not only perceptions of the man, but also his conduct; and consequently that Constantine's power, like that of all Roman emperors, was not absolute, but rather derived from 'intersubjective processes that entailed input and reaction from the ruler himself, but also and in turn counter-input from his many relatives, administrators, soldiers, subjects, opponents, and enemies' (p. 12). Following Hall, Lenski proposes three principal governing dynamics of mass communication between emperor and subjects: 1) a 'dominant' or 'hegemonic' reading, wherein the emperor's agenda was understood and shared by the recipients of his communiqués; 2) a 'negotiated' reading in which both emperor and subjects compromised on the ways in which policy was both formulated (by Constantine) and interpreted or enacted on the part of his subjects; and 3) an 'oppositional' reading involving active resistance to the imperial will.

Constantine and the Cities comprises four sections. The first, 'Constantine's Self-Presentation,' deals with Constantine's 'official' persona as communicated to his subjects via written (especially legal) and iconographic (especially numismatic) sources. Lenski finds art historians' traditional division of Constantine's portrait types into four successive phases broadly applicable to his career as a whole: an early Constantine (ca. 306-10) operating within the established framework of Tetrarchic conventions, followed by an increasingly assertive, individualized liberator and conqueror of tyrants (ca. 310-21); a still more explicitly Christian vanquisher of tyrants and propagator of the faith (ca. 321-30); and finally (ca. 330-37) a moralizing proselyte, a sort of living incarnation of the ideal Christian monarch. He follows Peter Weiss in thinking that Constantine saw a cross- shaped solar halo in southern Gaul in 310, which later inspired whatever Constantine saw or claimed to see before the battle of the Milvian Bridge, whose outcome sufficed to confirm Constantine's definitive conversion to Christianity. Chi-rho inscribed milestones from North Africa, legislation establishing clerical exemption from traditional civic munera, imperial funding allocated to church-building in Rome and elsewhere, as well as the famous decree of religious toleration, all convince Lenski that already by 313, Constantine was operating as a Christian sovereign dedicated to the propagation of the faith, though his manifestations of support for the new faith became still more unambiguous and ostentatious following his rupture with Licinius in the early 320s. The well-worn textual and iconographical evidence adduced in support of this portrayal of Constantine as a devout Christian and tireless supporter of the Christian cause by the morrow of the Milvian Bridge, if not earlier still, will not convince many of the dissenters in the endless debate over Constantine's credo, but I suspect Lenski never intended it to: rather, having staked out his positions on the main causes célèbres in Constantinian scholarship, he leaves the rest of his book to do the real work of conversion.

Lenski lays the groundwork in the subtly and rather brilliantly subversive Part 2, on petitions from cities and the responses they elicited from Constantine (here, at last, the cities promised in the title make their appearance). He begins with the famous inscription from Orcistus in Asia Minor that preserves the text of four documents: the petition of the Orcistans to receive civic status and become autonomous of their larger neighbor, Nacoleia; Constantine's favorable response; and the two rescripts he issued in confirmation of his decision. Lenski plausibly argues that just as cities (perhaps including Nacoleia) had been encouraged by Maximin Daia to solicit imperial judgments unfavorable (even lethal) to Christians—to furnish the emperor with the pretext, via the traditional mechanism of petition and response, to proactively pursue his political and religious agenda—so too Constantine encouraged Christian communities to petition him, that he might ostentatiously reward his co-religionists by rendering judgments favorable to the Christian cause.

But while it was simple for Constantine and the Orcistans to collude in the emperor's preferred 'dominant' or 'hegemonic' mode of pro-Christian discourse, Lenski's Constantine proved equally adroit at exploiting traditional civic rivalries with non-Christian polities, in order to achieve 'negotiated' solutions that allowed him to make more incremental but nonetheless real progress toward Christianizing the empire. The prime example is Hispellum (Spello) in Umbria, the subject of Ch. 5, where another famous inscription records the petition of the Hispellates, late in Constantine's reign (ca. 333-35), to be allowed to build a temple to the gens Flavia, to which Constantine—strangely, in the eyes of some past scholars— acceded. Lenski makes a strong case that what the Hispellates really wanted was more cultic autonomy from Volsinii (Bolsena), whose annual festival the priests of Hispellum had been compelled to attend since the amalgamation of Tuscia and Umbria under the Tetrarchs, requiring an arduous multiday journey through the Apennines. By granting the Hispellates' petition to build a new center of imperial cult on their home soil only with the important caveat that no blood sacrifices (and perhaps some other rites besides, depending on one's interpretation of contagiosa superstitio) be conducted in the new complex, Constantine struck a blow against one of the pillars of traditional religion even as he acquiesced to the Hispellates' petition and honored them with traditional signs of imperial favor.

In Part 3, 'reconstructing the cities,' Lenski widens his purview to address Constantine's systemic efforts to spread Christianity throughout his dominions, via the cities and the urban institutions that comprised the administrative (and political, and social, and intellectual) backbone of the empire. Constantine began the process of arrogating the material wealth, revenues, and estates of temples, and even some civic lands, to the res privata, from which he allocated vast sums to bishops across the empire, who used it to subsidize local clergy, nourish the poor, distribute patronage, and build churches. In a stroke, bishops surpassed city-councilors as leading local power-brokers, a process Constantine furthered with a remarkable series of concessions: he permitted bishops to adjudicate civil cases and to enforce their (un-appealable) decisions with the collaboration of imperial officials; to manumit slaves; and to use the cursus publicus on official church business; and all clerics were made immune from taxes and traditional civic munera. Constantine, in short, tweaked existing civic and administrative structures in ways calculated to make the church the leading player in cities across the empire, setting in motion a process that would unfold gradually, with innumerable local vicissitudes and setbacks, over the ensuing centuries.

Finally, in Part 4, Lenski turns to the limits of Constantine's ability to effect change, as reflected both in his usual willingness to compromise with constituencies averse to his 'dominant' mode of Christian discourse, and his occasional and usually counterproductive recourse to outright violence or unilateral highhandedness in attempting to enforce orthodoxy, whether against adherents of traditional cult or against heterodox or dissenting Christian communities. The upshot here is that while Constantine was usually unable to impose his will as fully as he might have wished, especially in cities as complex and fractious as Alexandria and Antioch, and in strongholds of traditional religion like Baalbek, he was nearly always acting in ways calculated to hasten the advent of the Christian Roman oikumene over which he believed himself divinely appointed to preside.

I noted that Lenski's approach is subtly, and rather brilliantly, subversive. In framing his monograph in terms of Constantine and cities, he has pulled off an intellectual bait-and-switch—we leave with considerably more than we came to get. Contrary to the promise of the title, this is neither a book about cities per se, nor, for the most part, about Constantine as a shaper of cities. It is, rather, the umpteenth book about Constantine and Christianity, by a crafty scholar who presumably realized that an umpteenth title to that effect would have provoked (at best) eye-rolls and cries of 'another!?' To the extent that cities feature prominently, it is because cities were the marrow of the Roman empire. If most of the audiences and constituencies Lenski shows us addressing and being addressed by Constantine are city-based (and some in fact are not), it is because cities were overwhelmingly where the important people whose petitions reached imperial ears/eyes—aristocrats and decurions, pagan priests and Christian bishops, writers and orators and intellectuals—lived and worked. Constantine was no more concerned with cities than his imperial predecessors or successors, nor were his policies and pronouncements targeted at urban milieus to any unusual extent. Like any Roman emperor anxious to shape attitudes and beliefs on an empire-wide level, Constantine addressed himself primarily to urban constituencies because these urban constituencies were what mattered.

By focusing on Constantine's adroit manipulation of municipal politics, intercity rivalries, and the system of petition and response to further his own political and especially spiritual agenda, Lenski grinds a fine new lens through which to assess the character and priorities of this complex and confounding personality, insofar as they can be recovered and analyzed via the sum total of extant discourse created by, for, and about the man himself. His book convinces me more fully than any of its myriad predecessors that Constantine viewed himself as the prime mover in the Christianization of the Roman empire, and devoted himself to catalyzing this transformation as quickly and as completely as possible, albeit (usually) with an eye to respecting ancient traditions of compromise and consensus between ruler and subjects. Constantine recognized, as any emperor before him would have, and as Julian after him so clearly did, that the battle for the empire's spiritual destiny required fighting on an urban battlefield. Once urbanites turned Christian, the pagani would eventually, inexorably, follow suit.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

2016.09.38

Helen Van Noorden, Playing Hesiod: The 'Myth of the Races' in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge Classical Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Pp. x, 350. ISBN 9780521760812. $110.00.

Reviewed by Rachel Loer, Rutgers University (rachloer@scarletmail.rutgers.edu)

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The ancient Nachleben of Hesiod, as recently as 2006, could be characterized as a "vast, complex, and very under-researched area". 1 In the past few years, however, the trend has begun to be reversed with an influx of studies on Hesiodic reception. Scholarly attention has been paid to the more general picture of Hesiod's reception over time, as well as to particular authors and particular Hesiodic texts.2 Playing Hesiod joins this number, yet offers a fresh perspective by focusing on "readings and rereadings" of a single myth in its original context.

Van Noorden approaches Hesiodic reception in later Greek and Roman authors through the treatment of a famous passage from the Works and Days: the "myth of the races" (WD 106-201). More narrowly, she proposes to focus her discussion on the intermediate races and small variations of detail, showing that nuanced responses to these aspects of Hesiod's text not only reveal the multiplicity of possible "Hesiodic voices" in antiquity but also contribute meaningfully to the later texts themselves. She achieves this admirably through detailed case studies of works by Plato, Aratus, Ovid, pseudo-Seneca, and Juvenal. A summary and review of the book's content will be followed by a brief consideration of presentation.

The opening two chapters provide necessary background, including methods of identifying a Hesiodic project, considerations of terminology and narrative form, and a close reading of the myth of races within its original context. Emphasis is placed on the framing of the races narrative as an "alternative" account and Hesiodic didaxis. Although a fundamental part of Van Noorden's underlying thesis is that there exists a "continuing relationship between the 'myth of the races' and the didactic mode of its first extant context" (42), she has chosen later texts for analysis that are specifically not considered didactic (with the exception of Aratus' Phaenomena). This seemingly unusual choice of texts contributes greatly to the originality of the project, as well as amply demonstrating the wide scope of possible responses to the races narrative by moving beyond what might be expected (i.e. analysis of Virgil or Lucretius).

The third chapter presents Plato as the first case study. Van Noorden traces Plato's reception of Hesiod's races through their repetition and variation in three key dialogues: the Protagoras, Republic, and Statesman. She demonstrates how each dialogue appropriates and transforms aspects of not only the content of the myth, but also the framing of the material and the didactic voice of the narrator. It is this last feature that receives the most attention, as she identifies as crucial to Plato's reading of Hesiod "a speaker who brings together multiple discursive modes and perspectives in persuading diverse audiences towards the upright life" (93). The main takeaway is that Plato's dialogues reveal a specifically philosophical reconstruction of the text and argument of the Works and Days, opening the door for varied ancient responses to Hesiod, which are the focus of the later chapters.

The case study on Aratus' Phaenomena, the subject of chapter four, fulfills a different function from the other studies in this volume. Rather than establishing the importance of Aratus in the legacy of Hesiod, already widely accepted, this chapter seeks to emphasize the often ignored complexity of Aratus' "reading" of Hesiod's races narrative. Van Noorden focuses largely on the Maiden passage (Ph. 96-136), considering it key to Aratus' handling of Hesiod throughout the Phaenomena. Among other issues, she explores how unique features of the Maiden narrative raise and clarify two key concerns of the larger work: the problem of interpretation and the role of the observer in creating meaning. In this way, rather than eclipsing the Works and Days entirely for later Roman authors, Aratus is revealed to have instead paved the way for and encouraged them to reinterpret Hesiod for themselves.

Chapter 5 introduces Ovid as the first Roman author to be considered in the study, whose Metamorphoses contain the second longest version of the myth of the races after Hesiod (Met. 1.89-150). The possible relationship between Ovid and Hesiod in the Metamorphoses has become a rather fashionable topic as of late,3 but as Van Noorden points out, there remains much more to say about the Works and Days specifically and its influence on the Metamorphoses. Her argument for its importance is structured around three main considerations of what Ovid adapts from Hesiod: the process of periodization, alternate perspectives, and a voice that is both universalizing and self-conscious. The chapter advertises that it is based upon two sections of the Metamorphoses, the metallic myth in Book 1 and Pythagoras' speech in Book 15; in the end, however, there was very little concerning Pythagoras, and a more in-depth discussion of this particular passage would have been welcome.

The sixth and final chapter does begin with a slightly fuller exploration of Ovid's Pythagoras speech, "as an anticipation of the breakdown of speaker-audience relations dramatized in the development of the races theme in Roman drama and satire" (260). But the bulk of the chapter is devoted to ps.-Seneca's Octavia and Juvenal's Satire 6, and their exploration of the potential failure of the didactic pupil and speaker, respectively. This is an intriguing twist on the earlier chapters, which argued for more positive potentialities exposed in responses to Hesiodic didaxis. It functions extremely well as a concluding chapter, by emphasizing the range of possible readings and responses to Hesiod's myth of ages.

Each chapter is divided into multiple subsections, most including summaries of what came before and anticipating the next section. As such, key points of discussion are necessarily repeated and rephrased multiple times throughout the text. This strategy provides a very clear map of the course of the arguments and makes the text more accessible to the general reader. At times, however, the amount of subdivision becomes excessive: for instance, in the third chapter the instances of four different levels of division (i.e. section 3.3diii) has the unfortunate effect of fragmenting the overall argument and causing this reader, at least, to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Overall, I noticed few spelling and grammatical errors, and they did not detract from the argument.

One potential drawback to the case study approach taken by the book is that the sheer number of authors and texts discussed can leave the audience feeling both overwhelmed and, at the same time, wishing for more in each instance. That is "a natural consequence of the road taken and of the importance and interest of the material",4 and in the case of this project, a certain sign of success. Van Noorden has more than fulfilled her stated goal of revealing "the diversity of the intellectual traditions that stem from these readings of Hesiod, as the best possible argument for the significance of Hesiod's races narrative in Classical antiquity and beyond." (42). In addition, she has laid the groundwork for further in-depth studies of Hesiodic reception in previously unsuspected authors and genres. Playing Hesiod is a fast- paced, comprehensive, and certainly welcome addition to the field of Hesiodic reception.



Notes:


1.   G. Most, Hesiod: Loeb Classical Library, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA, 2006), 1. lxiii.
2.   Examples include: G. Rosati, "The Latin Reception of Hesiod", in Brill's Companion to Hesiod (Leiden 2009); H. Koning, Hesiod: The Other Poet (Leiden 2010); G. Boys-Stones and J. Haubold, Plato and Hesiod (Oxford 2010); I. Ziogas, Ovid and Hesiod (Cambridge 2013); R. Hunter, Hesiodic Voices (Cambridge 2014).
3.   Often in terms of the Catalogue of Women, such as in R. Fletcher, "Or such as Ovid's Metamorphoses…" in The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions (Cambridge 2005); Ziogas 2013.
4.   H. Koning, BMCR 2014.10.08, on Hunter 2014, which takes a very similar approach.

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