Thursday, July 27, 2017


Daniëlle​ Slootjes, Michael Peachin (ed.), Rome and the Worlds Beyond Its Frontiers. Impact of Empire, 21. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016. Pp. xii, 262. ISBN 9789004325616. $132.00.

Reviewed by Katheryn Whitcomb, Franklin and Marshall College (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Part of the Impact of Empire series, this volume comprises a collection of twelve essays derived from a workshop held in New York in June of 2013.  The title of this volume is aptly chosen to reflect both the diversity of the contributions as well as the fluid nature of defining what is "inside" and "outside" the boundaries of the Imperium Romanum. In general, the major strength of this volume is in the stimulating conversation and debates that each contribution will undoubtedly provoke. Especially appreciated is the attention paid by a number of contributors to regions and/or avenues of comparison not often explored with reference to Rome. The quality of the individual contributions varies widely, however, (more on this below) and there are some general flaws that detract from the value of the whole. For example, there are a number of spelling, grammar, and editing mistakes (one chapter footnote refers to a non-existent bibliography). The reader would have benefitted from a comprehensive bibliography for the volume. As it stands, bibliographic material can only be found in the footnotes of each chapter and these vary widely in style and form. Also, some kind of biography, albeit brief, for each of the contributors would be a welcome addition.

Following an introduction by the editors, the volume is organized into three sections: Politics & Military; Politics, Economics, & Society; and Material Culture and Culture. The introduction explains that the aim of the entire volume is to examine identity and identity formation from the perspective of interactions between those within and those beyond Rome's frontiers. The scope of the volume is (and was intended to be) expansive, both geographically and chronologically, but common themes are said to bind all of the essays together. These themes are identified as: Who is an insider/outsider? How were these categories of identity fashioned and/or recognized? What are categories or standards for measuring inside and out in the Roman world? What are the repercussions when inside and outside come into contact?

In the first chapter of this volume, Toni Ñaco del Hoyo and Isaías Arrayás-Morales assess the political and military strategies employed by Republican authorities in the regions of Pontus and Thrace during the decades following the Gracchan crisis. This essay provides an impressive array of primary source evidence, but ultimately leaves the reader without a strong sense of the strategies used by the Republican authorities or their success during the wars with Mithridates. Gil Gambash gives a thought-provoking examination of Rome's long-standing ambivalence towards Britain in the late Republic and early Empire, while seeking to explain a century of atypical imperial inaction with regard to the island. He focuses particularly on a reexamination of the term mare nostrum and the role of Ocean in defining the boundaries of the known Roman world. Lukas de Blois's contribution investigates why the long and dangerous conflict between Rome and Persia during the middle of the third century CE arose, asking: what was the character and aim of Persian actions? and what was the impact of the Persian wars on Roman imperial power? This essay provides a concise argument and useful analysis of a dramatic period in Roman imperial history, offering much food for thought for historians of the third century crisis. In the fourth chapter, and the final one of the first section, Stéphane Benoist looks at the process of constructing an imperial discourse through various perceptions (both internal and external to the Roman Empire) of imperial power and the princeps. This piece provides valuable analysis of the lasting impact that Augustus' relationship with Parthia had on the continuing construction of imperial identity, but ultimately encompasses too great a scope chronologically (the first five centuries of the Principate) and geographically to tackle the main focus of the essay adequately.

Dan Hoyer's piece opens the second section of the book and examines difficulties inherent in defining what is inside and outside the Roman Empire through two case studies: the formation of the Gallic Empire and the revolt of the Gordiani in North Africa. This essay is one of the high-points of the volume, drawing on theoretical frameworks from sociology to understand better the divergent experiences of these two regions during the period of the third century crisis. Wim Broekaert's and Wouter Vanacker's essay expands the horizons of the volume to include Roman interactions with the Garamantes in North Africa. This chapter makes an important contribution in revisiting and revising the role that nomadic tribes played in facilitating trade between Roman settlements and peoples far beyond the frontier. The Garamantes reappear, along with a number of other peoples in contact with Rome, in the chapter on technology transfers by Günther Schörner. Using several case studies ranging from the adoption of the Roman-style hypocaust systems found in modern Slovakia and the Fezzan to pottery workshops and lead production in Germany, this essay draws on recent studies in the field of science and technology to illustrate the multi-faceted nature of technology transfers. Particularly fruitful is the discussion of technology as a kind of artifact, and thus another means by which we can increase our understanding of social functions and relations in the ancient world. Anne Kolb and Michael Speidel further expand the geographical scope of the volume to include China in their discussion of perceptions of the Roman Empire from beyond its eastern borders. Although this essay makes a valuable contribution by including sources not often discussed by historians of Rome, there is little analysis of these sources, and the findings that Rome was viewed by some as an aggressor and by others as a friend do not seem particularly revelatory. The practice and evolution of hospitium in the Roman world are examined by John Nicols in the next and final chapter of this section. This essay raises some interesting points about the nature and function of hospitium in the Roman times, but the main conclusions regarding the evolution of hospitium are based on rather cursory evidence.

The final section of the volume begins with an essay by Blair Fowlkes-Childs on the integration of Palmyrene expatriates into the fabric of city life in Rome. This investigation focuses on (re)evaluating Palmyrene altars in the Transtiberim neighborhood of Rome. She convincingly argues that Palmyrenes may have desired to integrate themselves more fully into Roman life than was previously thought. This chapter provides a useful model for further investigations of this kind. Anne Hunnell Chen delivers an excellent piece of scholarship in her chapter on the potential Sasanian influences on Diocletian's palace in Split. This essay not only makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the potential messages conveyed by the imperial architecture in Split, but also is well written and makes optimal use of images. The book is concluded by a piece on Scandinavian receptions of Roman numismatics by Nancy Wicker. She investigates how the imagery of 4th century Roman medallions was received and imitated in the north, and thus the impact of empire on Scandinavian visual representation. While the discussion of visual art produced by a society far beyond the Roman frontier is very much appreciated, the analysis of the influence that Roman medallions had on Scandinavian bracteates appears superficial. This admittedly may be due to the number of uncertainties surrounding both the medallions and the bracteates (and/or to the reviewer's ignorance of Scandinavian bracteates).

Overall, this volume makes a valuable contribution to the field in a few key areas. First, the entire work broadens our understanding of the Roman Empire as a fluid system in constant contact with the worlds and systems beyond its frontiers. This is an important endeavor at a time when trends in scholarship on Rome are focusing increasingly on the reciprocal nature of relationships between Rome and the territories within its sphere of influence. Second, many of the individual contributions also draw on recent scholarship in other fields, such as anthropology, sociology, and science and technology studies, which greatly enhance the theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of Rome and the worlds beyond its frontiers. As noted above, there are some issues that detract from one's general enjoyment of the book and occasionally provide an unwanted distraction from the argument of an individual piece. Also, given the interrelated material of many of the chapters, it would have improved the work as a whole to have more conversation between the individual contributions, even something as simple as a reference to other chapters in the book that treat similar material. Finally, visual resources, with few exceptions, are not well utilized in this volume. Maps especially would enhance the chapters on trading in North Africa and technology transfers.

Table of Contents

Part I: Politics and Military
"Rome, Pontus, Thrace and the Military Disintegration of the World Beyond the Hellenistic East" by Toni Ñaco del Hoyo and Isaías Arrayás-Morales
"Estranging the Familiar - Rome's Ambivalent Approach to Britain" by Gil Gambash
"Rome and Persia in the Middle of the Third Century AD (230-266)" by Lukas de Blois
"The Emperor Beyond the Frontiers: A Double-Mirror as a 'Political Discourse'" by Stéphane Benoist

Part II: Politics, Economics, and Society
"Turning the Inside Out: The Divergent Experiences of Gaul and Africa during the Third Century AD" by Dan Hoyer
"Raiders to Traders? Economics of Integration among Nomadic Communities in North Africa" by Wim Broekaert and Wouter Vanacker
"Transfer römischer Technik jenseits der Grenzen: Aneignung und Export" by Günther Schörner
"Perceptions from Beyond: Some Observations on Non-Roman Assessments of the Roman Empire from the Great Eastern Trade Routes" by Anne Kolb and Michael A. Speidel
"Hospitium: Understanding 'Ours' and 'Theirs' on the Roman Frontier" by John Nicols

Part III: Material Culture and Culture
"Palmyrenes in Transtiberim: Integration in Rome and Links to the Eastern Frontier" by Blair Fowlkes-Childs
"Rival Powers, Rival Images: Diocletian's Palace at Split in Light of Sasanian Palace Design" by Anne Hunnell Chen
"The Reception of Figurative Art Beyond the Frontier: Scandinavian Encounters with Roman Numismatics" by Nancy L. Wicker
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Elisa Rizo, Madeleine M. Henry (ed.), Receptions of the Classics in the African Diaspora of the Hispanophone and Lusophone Worlds: Atlantis Otherwise. Black diasporic worlds: origins and evolutions from New World slaving. Lanham; Boulder; New York; London: Lexington Books, 2016. Pp. viii, 121. ISBN 9781498530200. $75.00.

Reviewed by Tom Hawkins, Ohio State University (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Atlantis Otherwise joins the growing list of volumes on the reception of classical culture. Beyond the specific issues raised in each chapter, editors Elisa Rizo and Madeleine Henry smartly differentiate their project on three points. First, as the cumbersome title makes clear, national and regional boundaries give way to shared language traditions. Their focus on Spanish and Portuguese receptions permits papers to stand together that might otherwise seem unrelated. Second, Atlantis Otherwise stresses the movement of classical influences. Classical learning, texts and adaptations all circulate in accord with wider patterns of cultural change (colonialism, revolution, economic development, etc.), and the chapters in this volume address this mobility in creative ways. Finally, the editors emphasize the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration for a project that spans continents, language groups, and cultures. Of the seven contributors, four are classicists, and the others are a human rights lawyer (Baldi), a professor of Spanish and African-American Studies (Maddox) and a professor of Hispanic Studies (Rizo). This multi-disciplinary dialogue promotes the refreshing presence of many theorists too rarely seen in classical scholarship (e.g. Frantz Fanon, C. L. R. James and W. E. B. du Bois).

Collected volumes regularly aim at spurring further research, and they are always open to nitpicking about balance and coverage. In spirit of the former, therefore, I will note that the latter might have been improved here. For a volume that emphasizes language, rather than national, boundaries, one might hope for a Lusophone reception from a country other than Brazil, and the focus on the same Columbian author in two of the three chapters on Hispanophone topics feels similarly restricted. Two of the chapters (2 and 5) are also much shorter than the other four, and although these briefer engagements are effective in analyzing the primary texts they examine, neither achieves the wider scope of analysis that I found so appealing in the longer chapters.

In Chapter 1, "From Cultural Appropriation to Historical Emendation: Two Case Studies of Receptions of the Classical Tradition in Brazil," Andrea Kouklanakis offers a provocative, contrasting analysis of the role of classical material in the writings of a folklorist and a modernist poet. Her commendable attention to a non-literary text reminds us that reception studies (often too focused on theater history) should be open to a wide array of materials. Luís da Câmara Cascudo's Meleagro (1951) is an ethnography that uses the myth of Meleager as the point of reference for interpreting the catimbó , a Brazilian religious ceremony in which spirits are summoned to interact with the living. Cascudo builds a case that the sympathetic magic at play in catimbó derives primarily from Greco-Roman magical practices and specifically from the death of Meleager, who is undone by the firebrand which has power over his own vitality. Paradoxically, Cascudo championed the idea that Afro-Brazilian culture was a topic worthy of serious investigation, yet he claimed that much of the presumed African influence really derived from Greece and Rome. Surprisingly, it is the irrational and seemingly exotic aspect of catimbó that turns out to be built upon a Eurocentric narrative of classical mythology.

With Cascudo's academic prose, Kouklanakis pairs Domício Proença Filho's Dionísio esfacelado: Quilombo do Palmares (1984). She describes Dionysus Dismembered (esfacelado) as an "epic history of black life" (17) composed in a fragmented, disjointed and impressionistic style, which offers a layered articulation of the black experience in Brazil as an ongoing process of cultural disintegration that leads to new forms of hybrid identities. Unlike Cascudo, Proença Filho emphasizes the African at every turn, most importantly, through the figure of King Zumbi, the last leader of the quilombo (a maroon settlement that existed in opposition to European colonial power) of Palmares. Dismembered via beheading in 1695, Zumbi stands as the human counterpart to the dismembered god Dionysus. I felt that certain ideas deserved to be pushed further here, as with Proença Filho's description of Palmares as a "black Troy," which suggests a reversal of the standard Eurocentric script such that valorization of Troy becomes an act of resistance to colonial impositions. Rodrigo Tadeu Gonçalves and Guilherme Gontijo Flores work together in the second chapter, "Black Angel: Classical Myth, Race, and Desire in a Brazilian Modernist Play." This short piece consists mostly of an analytic summary of Nelson Rodrigues' play Black Angel (1948). As the introduction to Atlantis Otherwise explains, this play was controversial, in part because it featured a black actor rather relying on the contemporary Brazilian performance habit of using white actors in black-face. Yet its plot and themes must have generated plenty of controversy on their own. The story follows a black man and a white woman, whose attempts to negotiate their marriage and racial biases lead to transgressive sex and serial infanticide. Gonçalves and Flores tease out motifs drawn from Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus and Euripides' Medea, and in the last paragraphs they open an analysis of the psychoanalytic role of desire in Black Angel. This desire—for whiteness, for taboo blackness, for violent lust, for wholeness—could have been unpacked in much more detail, yet the basic point emerges clearly enough. Rodrigues' play stages a family drama that lays bare the febrile tensions in Brazilian racial norms. The themes drawn from classical Athenian tragedy warn the audience of the chaotic and violent possibilities built into those tensions.

In the final chapter focusing on Brazil, "Decolonizing Greek Theatre: Black Experimental Theatre," César Augusto Baldi examines two plays that derive from do Nascimento's Teatro Experimental do Negro (TEN), which existed from 1944-67. This project sought to promote black theater in Brazil and to put forward a vision of Afro-Brazilian culture that could provide a path away from the nation's strict and hierarchical divisions between black and white. Nascimento's idea of quilombismo, an egalitarian vision rooted in the political inclusivity of the quilombos, offers a version of nationalism that celebrates creolization and hybridity while calling for an ecological ethic that brings this sort of national, cultural identity into dialogue with a sustainable global future. Baldi's analysis of the plays is smart and valuable, but it is this broader intellectual perspective that makes this chapter so rewarding.

Baldi discusses two plays created under the auspices of the TEN: Agostinho Alavo's Beyond the River (1957) and do Nascimento's own Sortilege, which was written in 1951, staged in 1957 and radically revised in 1977. Both deal with characters who initially seek to deny their African origins and blackness by assimilating to white culture. This goal is shown to be impossible and undesirable as the characters rediscover their African roots amid violent conclusions. Beyond the River is an overt adaptation of Euripides' Medea, in which the Medea character comes to Brazil via the slave trade and falls in love with a slaver named Jason. The Euripidean plot plays out in the racialized idiom of Brazilian culture, with Medea reclaiming her African identity amid her murderous revenge. Baldi does not present Sortilege as an adaptation of any particular Greek drama but stresses its formal affiliations with tragedy and the importance of replacing a Greek-style chorus with a group of Filhas de Santo ("daughters of the saint") who speak from and for the perspective of Afro-Brazilian candomblé. As in Beyond the River, the main character in Sortilege, a black man trying to whiten himself by becoming a lawyer and marrying a white woman, comes to recognize the system of racialized hierarchies that always thwarts efforts to deny one's blackness. Baldi's title "Decolonizing Greek Theatre" emerges through the ambivalence of the initial gerund. Both Alavo and do Nascimento work to decolonize Greek drama by infusing canonical European theatrical models with Afro-Brazilian elements, but the plays also contribute to the decolonization of Brazilian culture through their updated ethical messages. This two-way street is typical of many moments of classical reception, but Baldi's theoretical framework brings this to the fore. Greek drama is both one tool in the colonial apparatus that creates, naturalizes and sustains hierarchical difference, and a medium through which resistance and transformation can be leveraged.

Chapter 4, "Changó el Gran Putas: A Drama of Memory", moves from Brazil to Colombia as John Maddox takes on Manuel Zapata Olivella's masterpiece, first published in 1983. Among other virtues, this essay excels at setting out some of the basic historical information that many readers will want. We learn, for example, that Zapata's father forced him to memorize Homer's Odyssey, which provides a foundation for approaching the classical influences in this modernist, sprawling, stylistically hybrid history of the black experience in the Western Hemisphere. Maddox also provides a careful discussion of his generic approach to Zapata's novel, which he analyzes as a "drama-based narratological model of historical fiction" (68). This complex formulation fits the hybrid style of Zapata's text, which is itself a form of Dionysiac and carnivalesque intervention in the history of Spanish literature. Changó reveals the influence of the tragic models of both Aristotle and Fritz Fanon, and Maddox applies this lens to two scenes. From the novel's opening section, Benkos Bioho, the seventeenth-century leader of a slave revolt who set up the maroon community of San Basilio de Palenque, emerges as an Oedipal figure who provides a heroic tragico-historical model for Afro-Colombians. Maddox concludes by describing Zapata's account of the Haitian revolution as a layered reception of C. L. R. James' The Black Jacobins, which itself is structured as a form of Aeschylean tragedy.

In Chapter 5, "Resurrection of the Dead: Manuel Zapata Olivella's Caronte Liberado," Henry reveals the classical influences in Zapata's one-act play Caronte Liberado (Charon Freed), which was written at some point in the 1960s. The play deliberately avoids contemporary points of reference and uses classical motifs to provide "an imaginary past" (82) for the characters, a group of prisoners held in a subterranean cell and overseen by Caronte/Charon. Henry analyzes the classical connections activated on various levels. Evocations of specific passages of classical literature will resonate differently with each reader. I, for example, found Archilochus (83) less plausible than Euripides' Alcestis (84). The claim that some of the grim humor of the play is Lucianic (85) felt apt, whereas the idea that Zapata's Caronte evokes Egyptian predecessors of the Greek Charon was left undeveloped. More broadly, Henry shows that Zapata's play follows Aristotelian patterns of Greek tragedy, finding, for example, both a metabolê and a peripeteia (a "change of thinking" and a "plot reversal") that structure the narrative (85). This dramaturgical architecture supports Henry's idea that the play also avoids historical specificities in favor of archetypal dilemmas (e.g. should I resist authoritarian power or acquiesce to it?) reminiscent of Greek tragedy. Finally, Henry profitably dissects the classical resonances of many names used in the play.

In the final chapter, "Glocalizing Democracy through a Reception of the Classics in Equatorial Guinean Theatre," Rizo studies the "glocal" dynamics activated by Trinidad Morgades' Antígona (1991). This is the only primary text authored by a woman studied in Atlantis Otherwise, and the only text composed in Africa. In some ways, the analysis of Antígona is predictable, as this most frequently adapted of Greek tragedies is reconfigured to speak to the cultural and political particularities of Equatorial Guinea in the early 1990s. But Rizo provides rich and rewarding layers of historical contextualization, such as drawing Morgades herself as an Antigone figure. Perhaps most interesting in this respect is the manner in which Equatorial Guinea's two post-colonial authoritarian presidents have sought to limit and undermine the authority of Western political philosophy, rooted in the idealization of Athenian democracy. Morgades' play, therefore, positions itself at a "glocal" moment when classical politics is globally celebrated and locally rejected and Antigone's classical storyline is globally recognized as a call to resistance while being locally pitched as a celebration of the infusion of Equatoguinean elements, especially through drums and dancing.

In sum, Atlantis Otherwise offers a valuable contribution to the field of reception studies both in bringing new texts and cultural traditions into the discussion and in its methodological innovations.

Authors and Titles

Andrea Kouklanakis, From Cultural Appropriation to Historical Emendation: Two Case Studies of Receptions of the Classical Tradition in Brazil (9-30)
Rodrigo Tadeu Gonçalves and Guilherme Gontijo Flores, Black Angel: Classical Myth, Race, and Desire in a Brazilian Modernist Play (31-42)
César Augusto Baldi, Decolonizing Greek Theatre: Black Experimental Theatre (43-60)
John Maddox, Changó el Gran Putas: A Drama of Memory (61-80)
Madeline Henry, Resurrection of the Dead: Manuel Zapata Olivella's Caronte Liberado (81-90)
Elisa Rizo, Glocalizing Democracy through Reception of the Classics in Equatorial Guinean Theatre: The Case of Morgades' Antígona
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Andrew Hicks, Composing the World: Harmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos. Critical conjunctures in music and sound. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xix, 321. ISBN 9780190658205. $45.00.

Reviewed by Antonio Donato, Queens College, CUNY (

Version at BMCR home site


The goal of this book is to examine the decisive role that musical harmony played in the world-view of the twelfth-century thinkers associated with the School of Chartres. The book is divided into three main parts. The first (prologue, chapters one and two) provides the basic conceptual framework, showing how, in the twelfth century, musical harmony was understood both as the basic ontological feature of the cosmos and as a fundamental conceptual tool to investigate the universe. Part two consists of three chapters, each examining the three types of music recognized by Boethius and his medieval followers (instrumental music, human music, celestial music), and a postlude. Two appendixes, which conclude the book, contain critical editions of two twelfth-century texts hitherto unpublished.

The prelude argues for the contemporary relevance of the book's topic by pointing out how medieval investigations of musical harmony somewhat recall (i) the fascination with the audibility of the universe in contemporary astronomy and (ii) recent developments in the fields of biosemiotics and critical theory (e.g., Deleuze, Guattari, Merleau-Ponty, Uexkül). The analysis of these similarities, however, leaves out a fundamental issue: why does the book choose to focus specifically on the twelfth century? The book's sophisticated examination of that century's accounts of musical harmony addresses this question, but only implicitly. The book hints that the historically uncommon convergence of ethical, mathematical, psychological, and metaphysical considerations make the analyses of music articulated by the members of the school of Chartres particularly relevant for current debates in astronomy, biosemiotics, and critical theory. However, the book's lack of a direct discussion of the contemporary significance of the school's view of music ends up underplaying its potential impact..The second part of the prelude makes astute use of William of Conches' famous saying "the world loves concord" to indicate that musical harmony was for twelfth century thinkers not yet another theory, but a meta-theory that allowed them to offer a comprehensive picture of reality.

Chapter one studies the ontological foundation of the idea of the musical harmony of the cosmos. The examination of selected Platonic texts reveals how twelfth-century thinkers regarded Plato's account of the cosmos in the Timaeus, understood through Calcidius' interpretation, as a much-needed complement to the conceptually limited creation story of Genesis. The Platonic account allowed twelfth-century thinkers to develop a "secularized" idea of nature according to which nature, though created by God, operates autonomously according to its own laws. Similarly, the Platonic notion of the world-soul was reinterpreted to describe nature as characterized by "an enmattered vitalism," i.e., a dynamic and animating force. The development of some intuitions present in Calcidius allowed twelfth-century thinkers to further elaborate the Platonic idea (Timaeus 43-44; 47b-c) of a mimetic relation between the human soul and the world-soul – a relation manifested by music's ability to maintain the well-being of the human soul by bringing it into to resonance with the world-soul. On this reading, the cosmological account of musical harmony in the Timaeus was broadened to include also an ethical dimension.

Chapter two has an epistemological focus: it argues that the way in which music was conceptualized in the twelfth century was determined by its place in the classifications of human knowledge common at the time. Notoriously, the ways in which different disciplines were arranged in medieval taxonomies depended on various theoretical considerations and had long-ranging implications. Different trends are individuated through the various ways music was classified in late antiquity. Boethius (and others) seemed to oscillate between considering music as a physical science, which examines elements of the cosmos, and a mathematical science, which offers a conceptual account of the physical universe. Macrobius regarded music as an exclusively physical science; Martianus Capella drew on Calcidius to propose a "humanistic" reading which stressed music's role in aiding man's ascent to the intellectual realm. This anagogical account of music progressively took center stage in the twelfth century. Some thinkers (e.g., Hugh of St. Victor) stressed the closeness between music and mathematics, others (e.g., Bernard of Chartres) between music and physics; however, they all recognized its role in aiding man's ascent to higher realms. In the end, it was the anagogical dimension of music that became predominant.

Chapter three examines what Boethius called "human music," i.e., the inner harmony that maintains the balance in man's soul. The topic is tackled by showing that late-antique and twelfth-century theories of "human music" depended, ultimately, on the ways in which the union of body and soul was understood. The chapter begins by showing how both Plato and Aristotle opposed the "harmony thesis" (the claim that the soul is the harmony resulting from the proper actualization of the different parts of the body) by arguing that the soul is not a harmony, but has its own harmony independently from the body. Twelfth-century authors re-interpreted some elements of the "harmony thesis" and, eventually, integrated them into a new theory of the soul. Initially, thinkers such as the St. Florian commentator suggested that the harmony between the body and the soul is to be understood only as a metaphor. Later on, William of Conches (and others) employed various ancient theories of the harmony of the body (Platonic "gomphi," Galen's crasis) to argue that the soul requires an ideal vessel, the body, to express itself. William of St. Thierry uses an interesting metaphor which had long been employed by ancient thinkers: the soul is a musician who in order to convey its music needs a perfect instrument, the body. Finally, it was suggested that the soul, though separate and independent from the body, "loves" the harmony that the body possesses when the latter is in pristine form. It is this love which explains how body and soul are united. This chapter is of great philosophical interest since it presents a compelling alternative to the soul/mind-body dualism. The retelling, in this chapter, of how a theory which was strongly opposed in the ancient world was integrated, in the twelfth century, within its opposing theory is also of historical relevance. Yet one wishes that the chapter had offered a more forceful expression and exploration of the significance and implications of the theory of the soul that it presents.

Chapter four offers an exposition of "instrumental music" by examining the ontological status of the objects of hearing. The chapter aims to overcome the traditional binary opposition between music understood as number and music understood as sensible sound. It formulates the thesis that instrumental music is fully understood when we consider not only its underlying rational structure but also the physical nature of sound. This thesis promises to have significant implications for the rest of the book since this chapter indicates that materiality is the common denominator of the three "Boethian" types of music. The structure of the chapter follows the "journey" of the sound as imagined by William of Conches: the uttering of sound by a human being, its diffusion in the environment, and its reception. After an investigation of the centrality of sense perception in Boethius' epistemology and the influence of Aristotle's account of sound in the middle ages, the chapter turns to twelfth-century theories of sound. Two main accounts are presented: sound as the product of the interaction of bodies and sound as the trace of such interaction. The examination of the way sound was investigated by grammarians reveals the centrality of a quantitative account that describes sound as "tenor." The study of the analyses by natural philosophers indicates that the concern regarding the materiality of sound was the common feature of their different explanations of the various transformations that sound undergoes from its generation to its reception. This chapter seems to be slightly out of sync with the rest of the book since only some of the authors examined are related to the Platonic and Chartrian traditions that feature prominently in the rest of the work. The impact of the theories discussed in this chapter on the overall analysis conducted in the rest of the book is not very clear: the idea that materiality is the common denominator of the three "Boethian" types of music is stated, but its implications are not fully fleshed out.

The final chapter aims to reconsider the interpretation of the music of the spheres as a figure of speech for the mathematical harmony that threads the universe together. The chapter shows how in the twelfth century the music of the spheres progressively lost its cosmological role to become a model for human behavior. This transformation took place in three ways. First, the music of the elements, which Plato and Calcidius took to be what harmonizes the world-body, was reduced to a metaphor. Similarly, the crucial cosmological and ontological role that the music of the world-soul had in Calcidius (as a manifestation of the world-soul's harmonization of the cosmos) and Macrobius (as the link connecting the divine and material realm) faded more and more into the background. Finally, the Carolingian astronomical interpretation of the music of the spheres as what describes, via precise musical structures, the planetary motions was turned into a model for human ethics (e.g., by Bernard Silvestris). The interesting outcome of these various transformations was that, once the Platonic view of the cosmos as a celestial harmony become just symbolic, the new image of the universe that resulted appeared rather Aristotelian - though the De Caelo was not yet widely disseminated in the Latin West. In other words, a transformation within the Platonic tradition turned a Platonic view of the cosmos into one that was surprisingly and intentionally Aristotelian. The postlude recaptures the results of the book and reaffirms the parallelism between twelfth-century theories of music harmony and contemporary developments in biosemiotics and critical theory.

Composing the World makes a distinct contribution to the scholarship in medieval studies; there is no other work on this topic that can compare in terms of depth, scope, and complexity. This book is likely to become an indispensable point of reference for the study of both medieval musical theory and the school of Chartres. The book displays great command of the rich and daunting scholarship on the topic and, especially in chapters four and five, offers persuasive, new solutions to longstanding exegetical issues.

One of the strengths of the book is its subtle and sophisticated examination how classical texts were reinterpreted in the twelfth century. However, although the book is accurate in documenting such processes, it is not very effective in highlighting their different steps. The book moves from one text to another and the overall thread that connects all of them is not clearly pointed out. The result is that the crucial features and implications of these exegeses end up being obfuscated by the details of the analyses of the texts.

Although this book is very learned and historically informed, it seems to lack, in part, historical perspective. The authors examined are hardly ever contextualized and the problem with this approach is that without any indication of the authors' broader philosophical frameworks and backgrounds their differences cannot be fully accounted. For example, the late antique Platonic thinkers examined in the book (Boethius, Calcidius, Macrobius, Martianus Capella) belong to rather diverse intellectual environments and different Platonic traditions with specific goals and agendas; failure to take these factors into due consideration limits our ability to understand these philosophers. Similarly, when the book examines different authors associated with the school of Chartres it does not point out that such thinkers represent various philosophical tendencies within that school – tendencies that impinge significantly on their ways of interpreting classical sources. The way in which medieval texts are examined also suffers, to some extent, from a lack of contextualization. The texts are interpreted by paying attention exclusively to their content; their literary genre is not taken into consideration. Yet, especially in the middle ages, the theory of an ancient thinker was examined in ways that varied significantly depending on whether the exegesis was developed in a treatise, commentary, gloss, etc.

Composing the World is not just a very well-researched and erudite book; its conclusions have broad implications for various fields: classics, musicology, medieval studies. However, the lack of a synthesis and a compelling analysis of conclusions reached in the different chapters end up underplaying the impact of the results of this work.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Ronald Syme, Approaching the Roman Revolution: Papers on Republican History. (edited by Federico Santangelo). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Pp. xv, 428. ISBN 9780198767060. $140.00.

Reviewed by Christopher Mallan, St Benet's Hall, University of Oxford (

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Approaching Sallust might have been a more apt title for this generally stimulating collection of twenty-six essays, ably assembled and annotated by Federico Santangelo. With perhaps one or two exceptions, these previously unpublished essays were written by the late Sir Ronald Syme between the publication of his The Roman Revolution in 1939 and Sallust in 1964. As one might suspect, Sallust and Sallustian themes loom large across these studies.

The background to this collection may be summarised briefly, as the details will be known already to many readers of BMCR. When Syme died in September 1989, he left behind scores of draft papers and notes. Some of these were in typescript, but many were written on the backs of scrap paper—old letters, envelopes, circulars—which were then filed away in repurposed cigar boxes. The decade after Syme's death saw the addition of four significant volumes to the Symean corpus. There appeared two major collections of this previously unpublished material, which were edited by Anthony Birley: Anatolica: Studies in Strabo (Clarendon Press, 1995) and The Provincial at Rome (Exeter University Press, 1999), in addition to the final volumes of Roman Papers also edited by Birley. The baton has since been passed to Santangelo as the unofficial editor-in-chief of Syme's Nachlass. Aside from this present collection of twenty-six essays, recent excursions into the Syme Archive have resulted in the publication of an incomplete draft of Syme's aborted biography of Caesar, also edited by Santangelo.1

Whether we now see Syme as an essentially Imperial Historian who produced a masterpiece on the end of the Republic, or as a Republican Historian who spent most of his career trapped in the history and historiography of the Imperial period, we cannot escape the fact that Syme's works on the Late Republic continue to frame and inform much scholarly debate, particularly (and perhaps most appropriately) in antipodean Classics departments. Even so, it is unlikely that this collection will inject much further life into these debates, or open them to new fields.

The studies assembled here fall into broad categories, which Santangelo arranges by theme and historical chronology (but not in the order in which they were composed). The mid-second century provides the starting point. Chapters 1 to 3 deal with the politics and dynastic connections of the great second century families, the Aemilii, the Marcii, and the Fulvii (the decline of the latter is treated in Chapter 19, "The End of the Fulvii"). Chapters 4 to 7 consider the dictator Sulla and the aftermath of his regime, including a fun essay on the rogue consul of 78, L. Aemilius Lepidus (Chapter 6). From here the focus turns to Sallust, with an assortment of problems arising from Sallust's works forming the central theme of Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 12 to 18. The remainder is more eclectic. Caesar's actions as pontifex maximus and Cicero's actions in August 44 are the subjects of Chapters 20 and 21. Three essays on Augustan authors follow, Nicolaus of Damascus (Chapter 22), whose abilities are treated with considerable contempt, and Virgil (Chapters 23 and 24). The penultimate chapter ("How Many fasces") shows Syme more in the mode of Hugh Last or A.H.M. Jones, as he tackles the problem of the relationship between the number of fasces and the level of a magistrate's imperium. The final chapter presents a potted history of Rome's involvement with the Umbrians (Chapter 26).

As one would expect, these essays are packed with keen prosopographical observations. Syme's mastery of the literary and the then-available epigraphic sources is patent on almost every page. Most of the essays focus on addressing particular problems: for example, the date and reason behind L. Aemilius Paullus' divorce from Papiria (Chapter 1). Some of these essays allow us to catch a glimpse of the historian at work. Chapters 13 through 18 may be read as drafts of material which would find final form elsewhere, especially in Sallust. Indeed, there are even some near- identical phrases and lines of argument expressed in these contributions here and in Sallust.

Given the nature of the collection as a whole, and the fragmentary form of some of these essays, some items are less engaging than others. The lengthy relics of Syme's projected study of Umbria collected here under the title "Rome and Umbria" (Chapter 26) left this reviewer cold. Conceived before the revolutionary advances in Italian archaeology, this contribution is also, one feels, of limited usefulness. At times we catch the traces of battles old or abandoned. The essay on the "Abdication of Sulla" (Chapter 4) is a tantalizing pre-Badian attack on Carcopino's 1931 monograph on the dictator. As such it is interesting, but again somewhat narrow in terms of its scholarly utility.

Santangelo does not shy away from the fact that Syme did not intend these pieces to be published in the form he left them, if indeed he ever wanted to publish some of them at all (pp. 2-3). As such, we should not expect too many revelations from the essays. They are minor works, works in progress, or even what might be termed hypomnemata. For whom therefore, may we ask, is this collection intended? It is unlikely that these essays will find their way onto many undergraduate reading lists, although certainly some advanced undergraduates will benefit from reading several of these studies. Professional Roman Republican historians, especially those of a more traditional bent, will also gain something by reading these works. Indeed, the range of studies here means that there is at least something for most historians of the late Republic. But it is a third category, the historian of modern historiography, who would gain most from this collection. It is certainly this nebulous group that Santangelo has in mind as being a major audience for the book (pp. 4-5).

Santangelo's editorial work deserves to be singled out for special praise. One may justifiably say that his editorial contributions are the most useful aspect of this collection. References to (primarily) ancient sources have been discreetly supplied to those essays which had no such scholarly apparatus. Most constructive, given the age of many of these pieces, are the annotated bibliographies Santangelo supplies for each chapter, which are conveniently printed at the end of the volume (pp. 339-389). The bibliographies provide not only a comprehensive list of the most important studies, but also serve to situate each contribution in its broader scholarly context. These have been compiled and executed with due care and attention. Patently this has been a labour of love for Santangelo, and his efforts demand our respect and gratitude.

If we accept that this is a collection with limited utility and niche appeal, we must remember as well that there is another way in which we may appreciate Syme in the 21st century. "Style abides", was a dictum Syme knew well. The literary aspects of Syme's oeuvre are attracting more scholarly attention. Chris Pelling took "The Rhetoric of the Roman Revolution" as his theme for his 2014 Syme Lecture.2 Syme, along with his Oxford contemporaries, the historians A.J.P. Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper, were masters of historical prose. Syme the consummate prose stylist is evident throughout these essays; essays, one may add, which are free from many of the portentous abstractions (to paraphrase Syme's verdict on the style of a lesser historian) which are so characteristic of his own later works.3 The more polished and substantial of these contributions are a pleasure to read. But for all that, unlike the works of Syme's aforementioned coevals, it is doubtful whether these essays will be read by many (if anyone) outside of the profession. Syme was a great writer, but his erudition did not extend to making him an attractive or accessible communicator beyond his field.

Dead dons are in vogue. One suspects a biography of Syme is in the offing. Alan Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper, Steven Runciman, Moses Finley, and Maurice Bowra have all received book-length biographies in recent years. Certainly the private, enigmatic Syme will prove a harder subject than the likes of Finley and Trevor-Roper, men who were forever in the public eye as public intellectuals and who shared a genius for courting controversy. One suspects that it will be in his words rather than in his deeds that Syme will be remembered. This collection, in addition to that which has already been published, perhaps provides us with all we need to know about the man whom Sir Fergus Millar once described as the greatest Roman historian of the 20th century.


1.   F. Santangelo, "The Triumph of Caesarism: An Unfinished Book by Ronald Syme", Quaderni di storia 79 (2014), 5-32.
2.   C. Pelling, "The Rhetoric of the Roman Revolution", Syllecta Classica (2015), 207-247. A podcast of this public lecture. which was delivered at Wolfson College on 14 November 2014, is available here. Note also M. Toher, "Tacitus' Syme" in A.J. Woodman (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Tacitus (Cambridge, 2009), 317-329.
3.   There are still some idiosyncratic turns of phrase, which confound standard English usage; e.g. p. 16 "The consul who fell on the stricken field of Cannae…".

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B. K. M. Brown, The Mirror of Epic: The Iliad and History. Berrima: Academic Printing and Publishing, 2016. Pp. xi, 403. ISBN 9780994541826. $175.00.

Reviewed by David F. Elmer, Harvard University (

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One of the more intractable aspects of the so-called Homeric Question concerns the situation of the Homeric poems with regard to their historical context. Moses Finley located the "world of Odysseus" in the 'Dark Age' of the eleventh through ninth centuries; others have preferred a date roughly contemporaneous with a supposed eighth-century textualization of the Homeric poems. A more recent tendency to date our texts even later has complicated the issue, and some writers (including the author of this review) have maintained that binding the poems to a single historical period is a reductive simplification of their chronological depth.1 B. K. M. Brown's contribution to this debate is to figure the Iliad as a "mirror" that not only reflects the world of its composition, but also transforms it by catalyzing social and political change. While he follows current orthodoxy in linking the poem as we have it to the 6th-century Panathenaia, his overall project is to break down the opposition between historical reality and literary representation. He urges us to think of the Iliad as a historical event and to read in history a record of it.

Brown conducts his argument primarily in terms of a sophisticated theoretical discourse. Books 1 and 23, which bear directly on his primary object of interest, namely, collective practices of distribution and adjudication, come in for close scrutiny, along with a few other passages, but Brown's method does not center on the sustained interpretation of the Iliadic text. His project is to construct a theory of the relation between the Iliad and its historical context based on an impressive synthesis of thinkers including (in approximate order of their significance for the argument) Pierre Bourdieu, Louis Gernet, Jean Baudrillard, Claude Calame, Fredric Jameson, Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida, and others. The result is a dense and largely abstract discussion that demands careful reading and rereading, and that will be heavy going for readers who find continental philosophy and social theory to be less familiar ground. The book repays attention, however, even for those of a more empirical cast of mind. Brown marshals a wide range of documents, including, for example, Linear B tablets and the Gortyn law code; detailed notes and a generous bibliography make the book a valuable resource for anyone interested in archaic Greek notions of value or exchange.

In six chapters divided into two sections and framed by an Introduction and a Conclusion, Brown argues that the Iliad explores a tension between "the intimacy of symbolic exchange" and "the alienated referentiality of the political sign" (363). The poem's central concern, he maintains, is precisely "the problem of value" (89), a view he develops in Part One by exploring the ways in which the poem first poses this problem and then seeks a solution. The trajectory he traces is in broad terms a familiar one: like Dean Hammer and Donna Wilson, for example, he sees in the funeral games of Book 23 a form of institutional progress that resolves, to a degree, the social and political tensions of Book 1.2 The theoretical framework against which he plots this trajectory is, however, an original attempt to situate the Iliad's themes in the context of the development of the early polis.

Following an introduction that sketches crucial components of the theoretical framework and outlines the structure of the book as a whole, Chapter One, "γέρας: The Expression of Political Value in the Iliad," lays the groundwork for Brown's investigation of social conflict in the poem by examining the institution of the dasmos, the division of spoils in which the hero receives his geras. Brown's crucial intervention here is to establish a firm distinction between the dasmos and the institution of reciprocal gift-exchange, a distinction that helps to explain certain aspects of Achilles' quarrel with Agamemnon. The distribution of gera is a matter of non-reciprocal exchange insofar as it concerns relations between the warrior and his social group as a whole, rather than between two individuals. The Homeric dasmos is, in Brown's view, already a departure from a purely "symbolic" mode of exchange, in which value is expressed immanently in ritual practice. The geras "straddles the divide between the 'symbol and the sign,'" by which Brown means that the Iliad speaks to the emergence of an abstract and referential notion of value that is "independent of social exchange" (66).

The ambiguity and institutional weakness of the dasmos allows the system to be exploited by Agamemnon; this disruption of the system of exchange is, in turn, what prompts Achilles to mount his critique of the heroic economy. Chapter Two, "The Economy of Social Worth in Iliad 1," provides, in the form of a sequential reading of the poem's first book, an analysis of how the "crisis of value" arises (102). Brown wavers between outright condemnation of Agamemnon for overturning the social contract and a position more sympathetic to the king (as at pp. 125-26). Nevertheless the chapter concludes by making Agamemnon a proto-tyrant and linking the poem to "emerging crises in the formalization of civic identity and institutions" in historical poleis. Achilles, meanwhile, emerges as the hero of a new form of value-consciousness whose ordeal becomes "the aetiology of politics itself" (143).

If Achilles' "crisis of authenticity," as described by Brown in Chapter Two (114), is to arrive at any resolution, it must come in the form of an institutionally robust framework for the adjudication of status and social worth. Chapters Three and Four —"Beyond the dasmos: Succession" and "Funeral Contests and the Beginnings of the Greek polis"—conclude Part One by arguing that the funeral games of Book 23 provide just such a framework. Chapter Three focuses on social practices regulating the distribution of an inheritance among legitimate heirs. The aim is to situate the funeral games for Patroklos in the context of procedures for the determination of status, but the relevance to Iliad 23 of some of the material reviewed here (the Gortyn code, Hesiod's quarrel with Perses) is not always made clear. In Chapter Four Brown turns his attention more squarely on the games for Patroklos. Especially valuable here is Brown's discussion of the distinction between prize and gift, which he shows to be essential to the interpretation of the aftermath of the chariot race (203-8). Pointing to the explicit valuation of prizes in terms of oxen (Il. 23.703, 705), Brown argues that aethla represent a form of "proto-monetary estimation" prefiguring the emergence of coined money. He concludes the chapter by positioning the Iliad as an expression of a "historically interstitial" way of thinking that hovers "between symbolic forms of truth and authority and the autonomous public discourses of the polis" (213).

In the two chapters of Part Two, Brown presents his theory of the relation between the Iliad and its broader social and historical context. Chapter 5, "'Worlds of Performance, Worlds in Performance,'" articulates a vision of how the performance of epic poetry could catalyze social and political change. This is perhaps the most theoretical chapter in the book: many pages are devoted to expositions of the ideas of Greimas, Calame, Bourdieu, Baudrillard, and others. By combining Greimas' actantial categories, as applied to archaic Greek poetry by Calame, with Bourdieu's theory of practice, Brown arrives at a notion of poetic performance as a ritual act that transforms the habitus of participants. The participants in turn carry these embodied dispositions beyond the performance event; in this way, performance can have a transformative effect on the broader social and political world. The chapter concludes with a short "endnote" on the "Peisistratid Question" that for the most part endorses established views about the relation between the text of the Iliad and the Panathenaia under the Peisistratids.

Chapter 6, "The 'Oath of Achilles': Symbolic Exchange in the Iliad and Beyond," is a final examination of the transition from symbol to sign. Applying Baudrillard's concepts of "symbolic exchange" and "fatal strategies" to the situation of Achilles, Brown finds in Achilles' great oath in Book 1 an act of 'disenchantment' that opens a gap "between social identity and self- identity" (307), that is, to quote from the Introduction, between "the social subject formed by communal narratives and symbolic exchanges, and the self, who begins to demand that those exchanges somehow accurately map his own real experience of himself" (52). This gap is partly mended by the sacrifice of Achilles' double, Patroklos. Drawing a comparison with the conclusion of the Oresteia, Brown sees the poem's resolution as pointing to a "'Eumenidean' outcome" (339) in which an archaic mode of symbolic exchange—the geras afforded to the hero—is preserved within a context that also licenses more political modes of adjudication—including the awarding of aethla. Finally, Brown links Achilles' experience of a split between the "social subject" and the "self" to the emergence of "historical consciousness" in archaic Greece, arguing that Hekataios' "invention of the historical fact" derives from a similar moment of 'disenchantment' with regard to traditional forms of truth.

The brief Conclusion associates the Iliad with the emergence of the politēs, a process understood as a destabilizing and ambivalent rupture. Thus the poem is no simple celebration of new social and political arrangements. Performed at the Panathenaia in Peisistratid Athens, "the Iliad lay across, and sharpened, fault-lines opened by a nascent political consciousness focused and challenged in equal measure by the arrogations of tyrants. Out of a dialogue with an embryonic citizen identity coalescing at these Panathenaic gatherings, the figure of Achilles helped the autonomous subject make his traumatic historical entry between the intimacy of symbolic exchange and the alienated referentiality of the political sign" (363).

This lengthy summary illustrates the complexity of Brown's argument and of its presentation. The unavoidable gap between a theory and the objects it seeks to explain inevitably leaves such a project open to a variety of reservations. Unquestionably, however, the book is a rich and thoughtful examination of the relation between the Iliad and its social context. It is also an impressive, if occasionally bewildering, synthesis of theoretical approaches. The presentation suffers somewhat from lackluster editing: the text is occasionally repetitive, and is liberally strewn with typos. Nevertheless, Homerists will find much on which to ruminate in the pages of Brown's book.


1.   For a survey of various positions, see D. F. Elmer, The Poetics of Consent: Collective Decision Making and the Iliad, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (2013).
2.   Dean Hammer, TheIliadas Politics: The Performance of Political Thought, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press (2002), pp. 134-43; Donna Wilson, Ransom, Revenge, and Heroic Identity in the Iliad, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2002), esp. pp. 124-25.

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Rita Lizzi Testa (ed.), Late Antiquity in Contemporary Debate. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017. Pp. 280. ISBN 9781443843089. $90.95.

Reviewed by Dennis E. Trout, University of Missouri (

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[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This collection of papers began life at the twenty-second meeting of the International Congress of Historical Sciences held at Jinan, China, in August 2015. The volume's editor, Rita Lizzi Testa, designed a session meant to address the current debate over the "chronological definition" and "geographical context" of Late Antiquity (viii), issues that Hervé Inglebert's concluding remarks characterized as the "two big problems of late-antique studies" (215). In fact, only half of the papers in this volume (Ando, Díaz, Tantillo, Carrié, and Inglebert), apart from the introduction, deal explicitly with matters of periodization and definition (although none seriously treat geography). Only two of the book's ten chapters (Ando and Lenski) were originally composed in English, but all appear here in that language. The choice is understandable; the translations, however, are sometimes sufficiently stilted to be distracting. More thorough proofreading might have rectified this and also eliminated typographical errors. Surprisingly, there is not a single map or cross- reference. The few images included are of poor quality. There is no index.

Lizzi Testa's introduction surveys Late Antiquity's modern history, galloping across a sprawling terrain—Gibbon, Marrou, Mazzarino, Momigliano, Jones, and Brown—and highlighting turning points. Pirenne, the Annales school, Foucault, the cultural turn, mentalité, and the new materialism all get their due. A good graduate seminar primer, the essay foregrounds the difficulty that the volume sets out to address: Late Antiquity is an academic field of remarkable power and popularity, yet despite (or because of) this success, fundamental questions about the field's definition have only become more contentious. Recent disputes over Late Antiquity's temporal and spatial boundaries express deeper disagreements over the structures—social, political, economic, artistic, or more broadly cultural—that analysis should privilege and over the proper balance of continuity, creativity, and catastrophe that should inform conceptualization and narrative. If most scholars are likely to agree on the period's late third-century origins, the timing and nature of its end, as Lizzi Testa emphasizes, is more problematic. Economic, social, religious, and cultural histories may move to different rhythms and change beat in different moments, a fact the papers collected here illustrate.

Three chapters directly heed Lizzi Testa's summons. Clifford Ando's "Empire and Aftermath" executes a provocative re-framing of the issue of beginnings and endings by reexamining "decline and fall" in the works of two eighteenth-century authors, Montesquieu and William Robertson. If "our" Late Antiquity is methodologically "robust," Ando concedes, it is nevertheless woefully "narrow" when set against the Roman and post-Roman worlds imagined by these two Enlightenment historians. For them—ruminating on the relationship between empire, virtue, and freedom; and accepting the Roman Empire's destruction as prerequisite for their own post-imperial Europe —it was Republican empire-building that activated the potentiality of decline. The seeds of Rome's "fall" were sown in the second century BCE, in the incompatibility of civic virtue and violent domination. For Ando, however, the more disconcerting narrowness of contemporary studies lies in circumscribed ambitions. Content to retreat "into the study of particulars," we fail to employ history as "a form of critique" (2). It is, I believe, primarily the potential contributions of historians of the Roman Empire to contemporary international relations that Ando laments. Perhaps rightly so, given the tenor of political discourse since Ando wrote this piece. On the other hand, some historians of late antiquity—whose concerns have been gender, sexuality, and spirituality—may call foul.

The Empire's "fall" (in a more restricted sense) is also the focus of Pablo C. Díaz's "Usefulness of Useless Categories." His goal is to assert the continuing legitimacy of "crisis" and "fall" for writing the history of late antiquity. The "major crisis of the Western Empire" (21), in his telling, unfolded between the years 405 and 411, precipitated by the movement of "barbarians" through Italy and the western provinces. Strategic incompetence was to blame, the loss of tax base and territory the result (25). Thereafter the withering of loyalty left large landowners free to parlay with the "emerging barbarian powers" (27). By the sixth century, despite continuities, "everything had changed" and the world was a much grimmer place (29). Though hardly novel, Díaz's argument exposes one of Late Antiquity's fundamental dilemmas, the fact that the western empire's disappearance and Late Antiquity's heyday overlap. This issue is also at the heart of one of the volume's most engaging pieces, Jean-Michel Carrié's "From Transformation to Rupture." Carrié's is an essay of considerable sweep. Privileging, but not blindly, economic and social structures, Carrié identifies the end of the ancient world (and thus of its final stage) with the collapse of the "world economy" that had been the Empire's "fundamental originality" (199). Anticipated by the dislocations associated with the fifth-century fall of the western empire (and fall it did, hard, at the hands of German invaders), and then the Justinianic Reconquista, plague, and climate change, the final "rupture" arrived with the loss of Syria and Egypt to Islam in the early seventh century (199). In short, "the passage of the ancient world into a definitively new world took place in the seventh century" (200). Pirenne got the timing right, Carrié observes, but the reasons wrong. Carrié's Late Antiquity also begins with rupture, the innovative political, administrative, fiscal, and military structures created between 285 and 330, transformations that responded to the third-century crisis and laid the foundations of a "new empire," the ancient world's distinctive final phase (178 and 183).

The first paper in the Methodologies section yields less than it promises. Although a useful epitome of Jutta Dresken-Weiland's important work, the chapter skirts the questions targeted by the volume. Billed a "tour d'horizon on Christian images" (52), it offers only a limited survey of private (not public) Christian (not non-Christian) art between ca. 200 and 400 CE. Funerary contexts and images on "everyday" objects dominate, with an exclusive emphasis on content (not style). The vague concluding claim that after the fourth century, due to changes in funerary practice, "Christian images would have their places in churches and on liturgical objects" (52) is undercut by the catalog of almost any recent exhibit of late antique life. Questions of periodization are central to Ignazio Tantillo's essay. Tantillo distinguishes between the contribution made by Latin and Greek epigraphers. The latter, notably through Louis Robert's work on verse dedications and Charlotte Roueché's on Aphrodisias, have isolated telltale traits that can define a field of late antique Greek epigraphy extending from the late third century to a moment of "sharp fracture in epigraphic practice around CE 600" (66). In the Latin west matters are blurrier. Practical decisions made in the nineteenth century (Mommsen and de Rossi), long before there was a "late antiquity," set the turn from the sixth to the seventh century as the terminus for assemblies of ancient Latin inscriptions (and endorsed the segregation of "Christian" texts). This boundary long remained "uncontested" (60), queried primarily by medievalists. Only recently, as inscriptions gain ground as monuments as well as texts (68), have scholars begun to refine their sense of late antique epigraphy's peculiar forms and content. In this movement towards a more "global comprehension" of epigraphic development, Tantillo sees signs that epigraphy's weight will help tip the balance toward Late Antiquity's "short periodization" (71).

The Case Studies section contains three papers. Gilles Bransbourg offers a lucid survey of eight centuries of Romans "expressing their fiscal views," particularly their "aspiration for fairness" in taxation (105). He traces the story of the Empire's evolution from a "predatory entity" in the mid-Republic (80) to a close approximation of a "consensually accepted state" following the promulgation of the Constitutio Antoniniana and the fiscal reforms of Diocletian and Constantine (92). Bransbourg aims at showing how close that approximation was by re-examining several papyrus archives. These reveal surprisingly equitable tax assessment and extraction across social categories in sixth-century Egypt. In the "fiscal doctrine" and "tax philosophy" he identifies, Bransbourg finds "one of the main legacies of Late Antiquity in the field of political economy" (105), whose origins he locates in the Tetrarchic and Constantinian period. Noel Lenski offers another longue durée study, querying "the relative importance of free, bond, and slave labor in generating surplus" in the estates of the African Maghreb (114). Rejecting recent arguments asserting the predominance of slave labor on fourth- century estates (Jean-Michel Carrié and Kyle Harper), Lenski amasses evidence for "long-term dependent or semi-dependent tenants" as the "primary cultivators" on North Africa's "large and medium scale estates" (120). This system, he argues, prevailed (with some variation and reliance on slavery) from Carthaginian times through the sixth century. Like Bransbourg, Lenski does not explicitly link his conclusions to the volume's "big" questions. Nevertheless, here, too, the Constantinian age emerges as a "watershed" (132), albeit a low grade one, by virtue of its promulgation of laws that, by creating the bound colonate, reduced distinctions between free and slave labor—even though Africa remained "a land of agricultural tenancy with relatively self-assertive peasant labors" (149) until by the late sixth century, prior to the Arab conquest, the system had unraveled. Alas, the reader is left to imagine the discussion between Bransbourg, Lenski, and Carrié, whose studies both overlap and differ in fundamental ways. In the section's third paper, Philippe Blaudeau seeks to clarify the concept of "geo-ecclesiology" with which he has elsewhere tried to "highlight the precise dynamics of ecclesial issues" (168). The discussion is dense and theoretical and addresses specific charges that geo-ecclesiology is either too reductive or too focused on "political effects" at the expense of "doctrinal or religious content" (163) to have full explanatory power. The paper makes little attempt to speak to the volume's announced themes.

The book ends with Hervé Inglebert's "Birth of a New Short Late Antiquity," which conveniently sorts the volume's contributions to the "debate" about time and space into four categories: conceptual terminology (e.g., crisis and decline), "non-literary" media (e.g., images and inscriptions), new "hermeneutic patterns" (geo-ecclesiology), and "historical singularities" (taxation, rural labor, and a kind of discourse analysis). Most importantly, Inglebert concludes that the themes selected for discussion, admittedly short on "religious and cultural trends" (218), all favor a "short" Late Antiquity, one that synchronizes the disappearance of the late Roman state with the rupture of Late Antiquity's defining social and economic structures (218). As have Bryan Ward-Perkins and Peter Heather, Inglebert explains (218-21), these papers argue for a "New Short Late Antiquity," reaching from the late third century to the late sixth or early seventh, equivalent to the old chronology (think, e.g., A.H.M. Jones) bookended by Diocletian and Heraclius though boasting a broader evidential base and embracing once marginalized lands (e.g., Central Europe and parts of the Sassanian Empire). This is a world, and a period, resting on "Roman power and Roman peace" (219), not on the vibrant cultural and religious experiments of the Long Late Antiquity sketched by Peter Brown's World of Late Antiquity. Can the two be reconciled? Perhaps, but Inglebert's potential resolutions, in part, return us to the quagmire of decline, transition, and transformation. Maybe that's fine. Mucking around there inevitably forces us to confront the big questions.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rita Lizzi Testa
Chapter One: Clifford Ando, "Empire and Aftermath"
Chapter Two: Pablo C. Díaz, "Crisis, Transition, Transformation: The End of the Roman World and the Usefulness of Useless Categories"
Chapter Three: Jutta Dresken-Weiland, "Transformation and Transition in the Art of Late Antiquity"
Chapter Four: Ignazio Tantillo, "Defining Late Antiquity through Epigraphy?"
Chapter Five: Gilles Bransbourg, "Reddite quae sunt Caesaris, Caesari: The Late Roman Empire and the Dream of Fair Taxation
Chapter Six: Noel Lenski, "Peasant and Slave in Late Antique North Africa, c. 100-600 CE"
Chapter Seven: Philippe Blaudeau, "Geo-Ecclesiology: Defining Elements Applied to Late Antiquity (Fourth-Sixth Centuries)
Chapter Eight: Jean-Michel Carrié, "The Historical Path of 'Late Antiquity': From Transformation to Rupture"
Concluding Remarks: Hervé Inglebert, "The Birth of a New Short Late Antiquity"
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Andreas Serafim, Attic Oratory and Performance. Routledge monographs in classical studies. London; New York: Routledge, Pp. 144. ISBN 9781138828353. $149.95.

Reviewed by Victor Bers, Yale University (

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In a book published in 1928, Gustave Glotz wrote, "Tant que duraient les débats, le rôle des juges était celui de jurés muets et passifs."1 Eighty-nine years later, most students of the Athenian courts imagine the jurymen as given to frequent shouts of anger and derision, and regard the arguments in Athenian drama, both tragedy and comedy, as significantly like the rhetoric of the city's forensic bodies. The title of Serafim's book suggests his affiliation with that point of view, which he justifies at length in his book's first and sixth numbered chapters, "The hermeneutic framework: An analytical approach" and "Conclusion." No surprise, then, that he lays great stress on Aeschines' professional work as an actor and the report in [Plutarch] Lives of the Ten Orators 845b1-5 that Demosthenes assigned primary importance to orators' mastery of ὑπόκρισις. But at many points Serafim flies a yellow flag. Adhering to Oliver Taplin's sensible caution, Serafim concedes that since many facets of theatrical performance are beyond our ken, scholars are faced with "the need for a fair amount of speculation" (p. 113). Throughout the book he allows for pervasive distinctions between court speech and the theatrical performance of tragedy and comedy, as well as small-scale variations, remarking for instance that "it seems highly unlikely" that orators "were using gestures with every deictic word" (p. 31).

The book sensibly concentrates on the two grand exchanges between Demosthenes and Aeschines, the former's On the Crown and On the Dishonest Embassy, and the two corresponding speeches by Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon and On the Embassy. In the book's introduction (pp. 6-9) Serafim calls these four speeches "case studies," but acknowledges their "generic atypicality." He also attributes to them a "shift in the register and tone from forensic to epideictic oratory." I am not sure I follow that statement; still, it does sometimes happen that works atypical of a genre because they are late or satiric serve as pedagogically useful guides to what has come before, even as they are seen as markers of an artistic genre that has come to an end, e.g., Don Quixote and Bach's B-minor Mass, which evidently took on its final shape shortly before Bach's death. And Serafim is right to remark (p. 7) that "performance in Aeschines' transmitted speeches is still terra incognita."

Particularly for the many students who will never read the stylistic analyses presented in the great warhorses of rhetorical scholarship, such as Goodwin's commentary on Demosthenes 18 or a single page of Blass's Attische Beredsamkeit, Serafim's book should prove very helpful. And even though he hedges many of his remarks, as in "the repetition of the particle οὔτε … may well [emphasis added] have required a change in the tone and volume of Demosthenes' voice" (p. 126), Serafim's enthusiasm for rhetorical combat that mimics, or even quotes, theatrical works should encourage many students to look carefully at his target speeches.2

A few remarks on some specific passages of Serafim's book.
p. 4: Though I cannot claim a good knowledge of the principal texts of performance studies, I see very little in the book that could not be formulated without that field's terminology. Speech act theory, as formulated by Austin, et al., seems far simpler and as useful for Hellenists.
p. 17: "In 2.5…Aeschines…claims that the majority of the civic body attended high-profile trials…" The passage cited is not a generalization, but a reference to the spectators at the specific trial for which the speech was written.
p. 20: Serafim makes a very important point: in the many references to the theater in the four speeches "acting itself is not denigrated."
p. 55: "Everyone likes to feel that they are part of history." This is surely an overly broad generalization.
p. 69f: I do not accept Serafim's comments on the verbal aspect of the "present" (I would say "imperfective") and aorist imperatives. Hector's aorist imperative at Iliad 6.476 Ζεῦ ἄλλοι τε θεοὶ δότε certainly does not risk offending the prickly Homeric gods by use of a "sharper, more authoritative command than the present imperative" would have done.
p. 120: I do not see why Serafim thinks it necessary "to rule out the possibility of a deadpan delivery" in Demosthenes' ridicule of Aeschines' mother. Has anyone ever suggested that possibility?


1.   G. Glotz, La cite grecque (Paris, 1928, p. 289). I have not seen any indication that Glotz recognized that ideal dicastic silence was in fact often broken.
2.   I do, however, object to the incautious assimilation of imaginative literature to the real world, as when Creon in the Antigone is seen as pointing to Pericles, or worse, when the historicity of the plague in Athens is doubted on the "evidence" of the νόσος afflicting Thebes in the OT. Even though audiences sometimes react to events on the stage or screen with emotions nearly as intense as if the depicted events are really happening before their eyes, they do know what is and what is not real. Socrates' son acknowledges as much at Xenophon, Mem. 2.1.9.

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David K. Pettegrew, The Isthmus of Corinth: Crossroads of the Mediterranean World. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. Pp. xiii, 290. ISBN 9780472119844. $85.00.

Reviewed by Michael Kleu, Universität zu Köln (

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Anknüpfend an die neuere archäologische Forschung ist es das Ziel der vorliegenden Studie, das aus dem 19. Jahrhundert stammende Bild über Korinth und seinen Isthmos einer kritischen Prüfung zu unterziehen, wobei sich David K. Pettegrew hauptsächlich auf die Zeit von den ersten Kontakten der Römer mit dieser Region bis zum späten 4. und frühen 5. Jh. n.Chr. konzentriert. Da sich diese Zeitspanne nicht ausführlich behandeln lasse, widmet sich der Autor im Anschluss an die Einleitung ausgewählten Aspekten, die er in sieben chronologisch angeordneten „interpretive essays" (S. X u. XI) behandeln möchte. Eine weitere Eingrenzung des Themas erfolgt durch den Umstand, dass Pettegrew in seiner Untersuchung einen Schwerpunkt auf die Ergebnisse des von 1999 bis 2003 andauernden Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (EKAS)legt, an dem er in unterschiedlichen Funktionen beteiligt war.

In der Einleitung (S. 1-27) skizziert Pettegrew zunächst anhand von Strabon und weiteren antiken Autoren das klassische Bild von einem korinthischen Isthmos, dessen Brückenfunktion von zentraler Bedeutung für die Geschichte der Stadt Korinth und ihrer Umgebung gewesen sei. Abweichend von diesem Bild möchte der Autor im Folgenden umfassendere dynamische Prozesse vorstellen, auf die er die Prägung der Landschaft zurückführt (S. 1-3). Um den Leserinnen und Lesern eine Grundlage für das Weitere zu bieten, werden zunächst die Umstände beleuchtet, die dazu führten, dass im 19. und 20. Jh. das eben vorgestellte Bild, das die antiken Quellen vom Isthmos zeichnen, in der Forschung weitestgehend übernommen wurde (S. 4-14). Im Anschluss stellt Pettegrew seine drei Rahmenkonzepte Landschaft, Konnektivität sowie Kontingenz und Wandel vor und bietet einen Ausblick auf die folgenden Kapitel (S. 14-19), bevor er schließlich näher auf das bereits angesprochene EKAS-Projekt eingeht (S. 19-27).

Das zweite Kapitel (S. 28-46) beginnt mit einer Beschreibung der Landschaft und einer Untersuchung der Verwendung des Begriffs Isthmosim Griechischen, bevor der Autor näher betrachtet, was genau griechische Autoren meinten, wenn sie vom bei Korinth gelegenen Isthmos sprachen. Dabei zeigt sich, dass hiermit bis in den frühen Hellenismus hinein allein die schmalste Stelle der Landenge zwischen dem Golf von Korinth und der Ägäis gemeint war und nicht auch Korinth, Lechaion, Kenchreai, Sidous und Krommyon wie es später etwa bei Strabon der Fall sein sollte. Kapitel 3 (S. 47-88) behandelt die baulichen Eingriffe in die natürliche Landschaft, die den Isthmos im weiteren geographischen Sinne vom 7. bis zum 3. Jh. v.Chr. prägten, wobei es Pettegrew wichtig ist zu betonen, dass der Ausbau der Region zwar bereits in der Archaik begonnen habe, der diesbezügliche Schwerpunkt jedoch in klassischer und hellenistischer Zeit liege. Besonderes Augenmerk legt der Autor dabei auf den Diolkos, die Befestigungsanlagen, die Häfen Lechaion und Kenchreai sowie Kromna-Perdikaria. Hinsichtlich des Diolkos zeigt sich, dass dieser wohl weniger als „a great maritime highway" (S. 241) fungierte, sondern eher als eine Straße, die der Versorgung von Isthmia gedient hat. Im vierten Kapitel (S. 89-112) wird dargelegt, weshalb dem Isthmos eine so zentrale Rolle in den Erklärungsmodellen griechischer und lateinischer Autoren hinsichtlich der Zerstörung Korinths 146 v.Chr. und der anschließenden Annektierung des Gebiets durch Rom zukam. Dabei liegt der Schwerpunkt zunächst auf der Darstellung des Polybios, bevor in einem zweiten Schritt untersucht wird, wie Polybios und die physikalische Landschaft spätere Autoren prägten. Kapitel 5 (S. 113-134) widmet sich den überlieferten Fällen, in denen Schiffe über den Isthmos befördert wurden. Hierbei zeigt sich, dass dies eher selten und nur im militärischen Kontext belegt ist, weshalb sich Pettegrew gegen die Ansicht ausspricht, dass Schiffe aufgrund von Handelsverbindungen regelmäßig über den Isthmos gezogen worden seien.

Im sechsten Kapitel (S. 135-165) legt der Autor dar, wie sich die Bedeutung des Terminus Isthmosin römischer Zeit erweiterte, und welche Kontinuitäten und Brüche sich zunächst aus der Neugründung Korinths durch Gaius Iulius Caesar ergaben. Hierbei zeigt sich, dass der Isthmos – anders als von Strabon dargestellt – wohl keine große Umverteilungszone zwischen Italien und Asien war und dass auch dem Diolkos in diesem Kontext keine besondere Bedeutung zukam. Kaiser Neros Pläne zum Bau eines Kanals werden in Kapitel 7 ausführlich beleuchtet (S. 166-205), wobei Pettegrew darlegt, dass Nero das Bauprojekt aus Gründen der Nahrungsversorgung initiierte und mit großem Aufwand in die Tat umzusetzen versuchte. Auch wenn das Projekt bekanntlich scheiterte, sei es dennoch von großer Bedeutung für die weitere Entwicklung der Region gewesen. Diese weitere Entwicklung steht im Zentrum des 8. Kapitels (S. 206-239), in dem der Autor einen Mittelweg vorschlägt zwischen der älteren Ansicht, dass verschiedene Katastrophen im 3. und besonders 4. Jh. n.Chr. einen längerfristigen Niedergang Korinths und seiner Umgebung herbeigeführt hätten, und neueren Forschungen, die für den Zeitraum vom 4. bis zum frühen 7. Jh. n.Chr. von einer florierenden Region ausgehen.

Auf ein kurzes Schlusskapitel (S. 240-244), in dem die gewonnenen Ergebnisse noch einmal in konzentrierter Form präsentiert werden, folgen ein Literaturverzeichnis (S. 245-276), ein Quellenregister (S. 277-280) sowie ein Sachindex (S. 281-290). Zahlreiche Karten, Schaubilder, Tabellen und Fotografien veranschaulichen die Untersuchung.

Pettegrew hat mit dem vorliegenden Buch eine sehr zu begrüßende Studie vorgelegt, zu deren Stärken es zählt, dass der Autor gleichermaßen archäologische und literarische Zeugnisse heranzieht und diese kontextuell und wohl abwägend auswertet, wobei sich seine Argumentation im Wesentlichen als ebenso fundiert wie überzeugend erweist. Ergiebig ist außerdem, dass Pettegrew die Aussagen antiker Autoren und ältere Forschungsmeinungen nicht einfach widerlegt, sondern auch darlegt, wie sich deren Aufkommen im Kontext ihrer Entstehungszeit erklären lässt. Zu guter Letzt ist es natürlich auch ein Verdienst der Studie, daran zu erinnern, dass manche als Gewissheit geltende Ansicht der Forschung bei genauerer Betrachtung auf äußerst tönernen Füßen steht.

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Sandrine Vuilleumier, Un rituel osirien en faveur de particuliers à l'époque ptolémaïque: Papyrus Princeton Pharaonic Roll 10. Studien zur spätägyptischen Religion 15. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016. Pp. xii, 644. ISBN 9783447104548. €148.00.

Reviewed by Mark Smith, The Oriental Institute, Oxford (

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The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of Princeton University Library has a small collection of Egyptian papyri. These include a number of demotic texts and thirteen hieroglyphic or hieratic manuscripts. Many of the latter are inscribed with spells from the Book of the Dead. One of the most interesting hieratic texts is P. Princeton Pharaonic Roll 10, which is edited and published for the first time by Sandrine Vuilleumier (hereafter the author) in the volume under review. This substantial roll preserves parts of twenty-two columns of writing. The text is undated, but can be assigned to the Ptolemaic Period, perhaps more specifically to the third century BC, on palaeographical grounds. The provenance of the manuscript is unknown, and there is little in the way of internal evidence to suggest where it may have originated. Of the toponyms mentioned in it, those from Lower Egypt predominate. There are twelve of these, as opposed to four from Upper Egypt, but, as the author remarks, this in itself is insufficient reason to assign the text to the Delta.

The texts inscribed on P. Princeton Pharaonic Roll 10 are ritual in nature. A bark or barks figure prominently in them, as does the 'work which is unknowable', i.e. the figure of Osiris which was fabricated during the Khoiak mysteries of that god. Some of the texts are completely new, while others are attested elsewhere. The new texts include addresses to the four sons of Horus, glorifications for Osiris, and a formula for making libations and entering the divine bark. Those known from other sources include the conclusion of the Ritual for Bringing Sokar out of the Shrine, the Book of the New Moon, a series of anti-Sethian imprecations, the Spell for Sailing in the Bark, various offering formulas, and a litany in which Osiris, or Sokar-Osiris, is enjoined to raise himself.

The presence of such compositions, or extracts from them, raises questions about the integrity of the manuscript as a whole and the relationship of its constituent parts to one another. The author argues that, even if not all of the texts preserved in the Princeton manuscript were composed by the same person, they nevertheless constitute a single, continuous, coherent ritual in that papyrus, and are not simply a random collection. As evidence she cites the notation 'It has concluded' which occurs at the end of the entire roll but not after any of its constituent parts. Thus she would describe the contents of the roll as an original composition drawn from a range of sources. It is not clear whether this arrangement was made by the scribe who actually wrote the manuscript or whether he copied an existing model.

The main beneficiaries of the ritual texts inscribed in P. Princeton Pharaonic Roll 10 are the gods Osiris and Sokar- Osiris. However, two non-divine beneficiaries are named at various points in the manuscript as well, a pair of men called Padihorpakhered and Mesreduwief. Both share the same mother, who is called Tahebet. No titles are attributed to Padihorpakhered. Mesreduwief has the title 'god's servant'. The name of the former occurs thirteen times, that of the latter, thirty-two times. In one instance, it is written in between two lines. In others, it has been written over the previously erased name of Padihorpakhered. Wherever it occurs, the name of Mesreduwief appears to have been written by a different hand and with a different implement to the rest of the text. The author considers various possibilities to account for this, but settles on the idea that the two men were brothers, who were intended to benefit from the same ritual scroll. A manuscript in Spain, P. Barcelona Palau-Ribes inv. 80, which preserves formulas 9 and 10 of the First Book of Glorifications, was inscribed for a Padihorpakhered son of Tahebet, who could be identical with the co-owner of the Princeton text.

The book under review begins with a history and survey of the papyrus holdings of the Princeton University Library. This is followed by a detailed description of P. Princeton Pharaonic Roll 10, its format, and its writing. The author is to be commended for her careful work in establishing the text. She has been able to identify a number of its fragments which are incorrectly positioned and determine where they actually belong. Regrettably, due to the fragility of the manuscript, it has not been possible physically to reposition the fragments in question. But she has made a digital reconstruction of the text which reflects her improvements. (Several small fragments, mostly anepigraphic, remain unplaced.) A comparison of plate XXIII, which shows the actual state of the roll, with plate XXIV, which shows her virtual reconstruction of it, will reveal what an important contribution she has made to its reconstitution.

The author devotes a lengthy section to the palaeography of P. Princeton Pharaonic Roll 10. She provides an elaborate catalogue of the forms of individual hieratic signs, comparing these with those of the same signs in other more securely dated manuscripts. The palaeography is followed by a discussion of the names of the two beneficiaries of the manuscript, their relationship, and the reasons why their names appear together, with one sometimes replacing that of the other. The explanation for this given by the author has already been cited above. The edition proper divides the text of the manuscript into sections. Each section is given an annotated transliteration and translation, followed by a more detailed commentary where appropriate. In most cases, the individual sections are marked by formulas like 'words to be spoken' or 'another spell'. More rarely, there is a more elaborate title or a rubric specifying ritual actions that must be undertaken in conjunction with the recitation of the words of the text, for example, fabricating images of the god Seth and his confederates from wax and throwing them onto a brazier. As noted above, some of the constituent sections of the manuscript are paralleled in other sources. In such cases, the author has been scrupulous in noting all parallels and taking them into account in her treatment of the relevant portion of the Princeton roll.

The author's section by section edition of the papyrus roll is followed by a chapter of analysis, in which the officiants who perform the rituals, those who were intended to benefit from them, and the sequence of the rites are discussed in detail. This is turn is followed by a running translation of the entire text, which enables the reader to form an idea of the whole, and a glossary which lists the officiants and other actors who figure in it, the divine barks, the deities, festivals and their dates, toponyms, titles of rituals, and general vocabulary. The book concludes with a bibliography and a section of plates. The latter are of excellent quality. Each column of the manuscript is reproduced in a colour photograph with the hieroglyphic transcription on a facing page.

All in all, the author has produced an excellent edition, which will be received with enthusiasm by students of this genre of text. She has transcribed the hieratic accurately. Her transliteration and translation of it are reliable, and the commentaries which she provides for the individual sections of the manuscript show evidence of deep erudition and wide acquaintance with relevant primary and secondary sources. The new text which she presents so impressively here will form a valuable addition to the ever-growing corpus of texts for the afterlife from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.

One criticism that might be made of the author's edition is that she could have given more attention to the language of manuscript's constituent texts. She devotes three lines to this topic on p. 46, describing it there as 'égyptien de tradition', a label which is widely used but not very informative. She devotes a few additional paragraphs to the grammar of the manuscript on pp. 48−9. These draw attention to the use of post-Middle Egyptian forms like the definite articles. But no attempt is made to characterise the language in more detail, nor is any justification given for the translations that she adopts for suffix conjugation verbal forms. This is a failing, it has to be said, which is shared with a number of other recent editions of late hieratic ritual texts, in which questions of grammar do not always receive the attention they deserve. So there is room for improvement in this area, not just in the present edition, but in others as well.

It would be wrong to conclude on a negative note, however. With this book, the author has made an outstanding contribution to the study of ancient Egyptian rituals and ritual texts. Her work will be used and cited by many. As with any papyrus of this type, there are a number of intractable problems which remain to be solved. This is only to be expected, given the difficulty of the material and the fact that so much of it is new. Nevertheless, this is a book to be warmly welcomed. On p. 505, the author describes her plans for a new research project which will investigate the process whereby rituals originally composed for use in the divine cult were adapted for the benefit of deceased humans, a subject which is attracting more and more interest from scholars. In view of the promise shown in the book under review, the results of her next study will be keenly anticipated.

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