Friday, April 28, 2017


Ursula Kästner, David Saunders (ed.), Dangerous Perfection: Ancient Funerary Vases from Southern Italy. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016. Pp. 212. ISBN 9781606064764. $60.00.

Reviewed by Valeria Riedemann Lorca, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This significant publication examines a group of 14 Apulian red-figure vases from Ceglie del Campo near Bari, Italy. Issued on the occasion of the exhibition Gefährliche Perfektion: Antike Grabvasen aus Apulien, currently on view at the Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the book follows a six-year joint project (2008-2014) between museum staff there and curators and conservators of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.1

The objects in this study are Apulian "display vases", which on account of their large size (about one meter high) are only likely to be found in semi-chamber tombs. Presumably from the same tomb-group, the 14 vessels under investigation span the years 375 to 310 BC, which may imply that they were deposited at different times. Their sizes, elaborate decoration, and holes in their foot render them unsuitable for use as containers, thereby suggesting that they functioned as showpieces during the funeral.

The Ceglie vessels were part of the antiquities collection of Baron Franz Koller, a military ambassador to Naples during the early decades of the nineteenth century. They presented the exhibitors with an opportunity to study Italic funerary customs and interest in Greek myth and, in accordance with the project's aim, to examine them as evidence for the history of vase restoration. The latter objective revealed the work of Raffaele Gargiulo, a leading nineteenth-century restorer. His interventions are a good example of what one concerned antiquarian termed "dangerous perfection", since such effective restorations could be misleading.

Preceded by two detailed essays, the core of the book is the Catalogue (pp. 69-159). This section is followed by a translation of Gargiulo's "Cenni sulla maniera di rinvenire i vasi fittili italo-greci, sulla loro costruzione, sulle loro fabbriche più distinte e sulla progressione e decadimento dell'arte vasaria".

The first essay, by Marie Dufková and Ursula Kästner, narrates the history of the Ceglie vases since their discovery in the early nineteenth century. The authors discuss the geography, history, and archaeology of Ceglie del Campo, as well as Koller's time in Italy, the creation of the collection, and the preparation for an archaeological museum in his native Bohemia. After Koller's death, the vases were kept in Berlin. The second essay, by David Saunders, Marie Svoboda, and Andrea Milanese, outlines the early decades of Gargiulo's career and the contemporary debate about restoration practices. The Ceglie vases, believed to have been restored by Gargiulo and his colleague Onofrio Pacileo between 1800 and 1830, offered the authors an opportunity to study the materials and methods used by the restorers and to place their work within the history of restoration of vases and antiquities in general (p. 43). They include an interesting discussion about the 1818 Neapolitan legislation against restorations, which were considered obstacles to understanding ancient art. This decree seemed to have targeted the deceptive work of well-known restorers, like Gargiulo and his colleagues.

In studying the processes and materials employed in reassembling and repainting the vases, the authors found adhesive that was also sometimes used to level the surface of the vessels. X-ray analysis of some Ceglie vases showed that for more substantial gaps, Gargiulo inserted ceramic blanks assembled in the manner of igloo bricks, as seen in one loutrophoros (Cat. 11). Furthermore, the cleaning of these vessels revealed some cases where the restorer modified aspects of the original design: a male figure on the lower frieze of volute krater Cat. 1 wore a helmet and not a fillet; the box in front of Hera depicted on the hydria Cat. 12 was restored as closed. Some figures, such as Athena and a youth holding a mirror (Cat. 1) were created entirely by the restorer. In short, this essay successfully demonstrates that despite contemporary concerns about deceptive restoration practices, the completeness of ancient artworks continued to be preferred by private collectors whose primary aim was visual integrity.

The Catalogue details the methods and techniques used in Berlin and Los Angeles in the treatment of these vessels: lining removal and disassembly, desalination, reassembly, filling, and inpainting. Each entry includes a description of the vase with iconographic discussion, condition before treatment, analysis, treatment, and in some cases, fabrication of missing sections. The Catalogue is supported by numerous high-quality photographs of the vessels during and after their restoration, archival drawings, and updated bibliography.

The Berlin-Getty collaboration focused on eight vases: three volute kraters (Cat. 1, 2 and 3), three amphorae (Cat. 5, 8 and 9), and two loutrophoroi (Cat. 10 and 11). Two hydriae (Cat. 12 and 13), two amphorae (Cat. 6 and 7), and a dish (Cat. 14) had been previously restored, while the amphora in Moscow (Cat. 4) was treated in Russia. The analytical procedure used was X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), and UV illumination, among others. In some cases, ancient fragments have been reintegrated into a given vase (Cat. 1, 2, 6, and 10). Nineteenth-century restoration pieces were not reinserted into one of the volute kraters (Cat. 1), but they were nonetheless preserved as they are part of its history.2 Furthermore, the study revealed that in two cases (Cat. 9 and the body of Cat. 11), the old restorations dramatically altered their appearance, thus these two vessels were left in their original restored state as examples in the history of vase conservation.

In the Catalogue, some authors pay more attention to iconographic description and interpretations, while others focus on the technical methods used in the treatment of the vessels. The repetition of the Judgement of Paris depicted on two amphorae (Cat. 5 and 8), and one hydria (Cat. 12) is noteworthy, however. Paris is also the subject of amphora Cat. 9, but in this case he is depicted with Helen at Troy. A frequent scene in Attic vase painting, the representation of Herakles' battle with Geryon on one volute krater (Cat. 3) is interesting as it is only occasionally found in Apulian examples. Assuming that all the vases came from the same grave – as suggested by Eduard Gerard 3 – a reader interested in Apulian funerary practices might have expected some discussion about these subjects' implications for the tomb- group, but its absence does not undermine the outstanding research presented in the Catalogue.

The last section of the book is a translation of Gargiulo's Observations, which is preceded by a commentary on his contribution to the understanding of Greek pottery, by Andrea Milanese. The large quantities of archaeological materials available in Naples during Gargiulo's time allowed him and others to shape the history of Greek vases as a discipline for study. Gargiulo's Observations include his remarkable study of ancient techniques of Greek pottery manufacture and his chronological classification of painting styles into six periods. Mark Weir's translation is impeccable, and the original plates of Gargiulo's prospect of vase shapes, ornament, and period are included alongside drawings of a kiln and various tomb types.

In summary, this superb study provides the first full account of the red-figure Apulian vessels in Koller's collection in more than a century. It will prove of great interest to scholars and students of Apulian vase painting, restoration practices, and art history. Lavishly illustrated with high-quality photographs and archival drawings, this book is, undoubtedly, an important contribution for future research and conservation projects.

Table of Contents

Timothy Potts and Andreas Scholl, Director's Foreword 15-16
Ursula Kästner and David Saunders, Acknowledgements 17-18
Marie Dufková and Ursula Kästner, The History of the Ceglie Vases 21-41
David Saunders, Marie Svoboda and Andrea Milanese, Exactitude and Mastery: Raffaele Gargiulo's Work as a Restorer 43-66
Ludmila Akimova, Ursula Kästner, Elena Minina, Sonja Radujkovic, Dunja Rütt, David Saunders, Priska Schilling-Colden, Marie Svoboda and Bernd Zimmermann, Catalogue 69-159
Raffaele Gargiulo (translated by Mark Weir), Observations on How Italo-Greek Ceramic Vases Are Found, on Their Manufacture, on the Most Distinguished Workshops, and on the Development and Decline of the Art of Vase Making (second edition, 1843) 167-194
Bibliography 196-205
About the Authors 206-207
Index 208-212


1.   The exhibition was originally presented as Dangerous Perfection: Funerary Vases from Southern Italy at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu from November 19, 2014 to May 11, 2015. The current exhibition in Berlin will be on display until June 17, 2017: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: Gefährliche Perfektion: Antike Grabvasen aus Apulien.
2.   See an interactive presentation of this vase restoration at
3.   Gerhard, E. Apulische Vasenbilder des Köninglichen Museums zu Berlin. 1845. p. 4. For a discussion, see the first essay of the book, p. 24.

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C. Kavin Rowe, One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. Pp. 330. ISBN 9780300180121. $35.00.

Reviewed by Runar M. Thorsteinsson, University of Iceland (

Version at BMCR home site


This monograph is an extension of an earlier volume of the author titled World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age (Oxford University Press, 2009) (pp. ix–x). The present work is divided into three main parts, each including three chapters. The first main part treats Roman Stoicism, the second part Early Christianity, and the final part includes a comparison of the two and discussion of comparative enterprises in general. The Stoics discussed in the first part include Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, whereas the Early Christians in the second part include Paul, Luke, and Justin Martyr, that is to say, exact contemporaries of the Stoics in question. The author writes a text that is philosophically sophisticated, but nevertheless "light" with dialogical style reminiscent of the ancient diatribe applied by Paul, Seneca and Epictetus.

Each chapter in the first two parts follows a thematic structure. In the first chapter, on Seneca, Rowe discusses the topics death, Fortune, God and Nature, the passions, and philosophy. However, he fails to consult other writings of Seneca other than his letters, which is regrettable, considering the stated aim in the work to focus on the primary sources in the first two parts of the study. It means that Rowe misses much of Seneca's teaching. It is like ignoring three of Paul's authentic letters. One may wonder, for instance, if Rowe would have come to a different conclusion regarding the question whether Seneca's God is personal or not if he had consulted Seneca's other writings (cf., e.g., Prov. 1.1; 2.7; 4.7; 5.1–2; Ben. 4.5.1; 4.6.5–6; Vit. beat. 15.4, 7). In the second chapter, on Epictetus, the topics God, right judgments, philosophy, human being, and society are discussed. And in the third chapter, on Marcus Aurelius, Rowe treats the topics of death, God and Nature, human beings and right judgments, human beings and the possibility of right judgments, philosophy, and society. The choices of precisely these topics are not explained. The same goes for the Christian sources. In chapter four, Rowe discusses the following topics relating to the apostle Paul: God, Jesus Christ, humanity: creation and sin, humanity: death and resurrection, and the way of repair: faith and community. In chapter five, on Luke, Rowe divides the discussion into these topics: Israel, Jesus, God, human beings, and church and society. In the chapter on Justin Martyr, chapter six, the topics treated include God, Jesus Christ, philosophy, human being, politics and death: Rome and the Christians, and Judaism. Exactly how these topics fit to the Stoic topics is not altogether clear, for instance, the topics of Israel/Judaism. Also, one may wonder if it would have been a good move, given the discussion of Jesus Christ in the Christian sources, to include a discussion of the Stoic wise man.

While parts one and two focus primarily on the ancient sources, in part three Rowe also engages in dialogue with earlier and current scholarship, starting with chapter seven. He wishes to "reset" the scholarly discussion of the relationship between Stoicism and Early Christianity (p. 175), and to that end he consults the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and his three versions of inquiry that, according to MacIntyre, have most profoundly affected people's understanding of knowledge in modern times, namely, "encyclopedia, genealogy, and tradition" (p. 176). Explaining these categories of MacIntyre's, Rowe joins the former in rejecting the first version of inquiry, i.e. the encyclopedic way of knowing, and argues that it is a "tradition of inquiry" that is most appropriate for his purpose in the study, a tradition that is "a morally grained, historically situated rationality". According to Rowe, "tradition in this sense is the word that best describes the forms of life that were ancient Christianity and Stoicism" (p. 184, italics original). Rowe then discusses the works of Abraham Malherbe and Troels Engberg-Pedersen in this regard, and argues that theirs was the "encyclopedic" version of inquiry. These scholars were guilty of "mistaking traditions for entries in an encyclopedia", that is to say, "studying traditions as if they were something else—treating them more like data in a wider, more comprehensive scheme called scholarly knowledge" (p. 191). According to Rowe, the approach of these scholars is nothing but a "fossil-like thinking" (p. 243). If comparison of Stoicism and Early Christianity is to take place, it is necessary, says Rowe, to see them as traditions of inquiry, and "the most constructive way to conceive their relation is to think them in direct narrative juxtaposition, face to face" (p. 199). By "narrative" Rowe means something inseparable from being Christian or Stoic—"to know the story is to know the thing itself" (ibid.). According to Rowe, the importance of narrative has been making its way into New Testament scholarship, but, once again, this has mostly been done in a wrong way, "in good encyclopedic fashion" (p. 200). But what is the "narrative juxtaposition" Rowe intends to apply in his study? "It is an attempt to reason Christianly about Roman Stoicism as my second first language while acknowledging that because I can do this only as an outsider, the way may in fact be closed" (p. 204). In other words, Rowe reads his Stoic sources as a Christian. His construction of the narrative accounts of these traditions is "an account by a Christian who reads as a Christian" (p. 205). In fact, Rowe acknowledges, "in practice I am unable to understand certain Stoic things—perhaps even central patterns of reasoning" (ibid.). Presumably, then, a Stoic would have difficulties with understanding the Christian narrative, and a person who is neither a Christian nor a Stoic will be quite helpless.

Before he starts comparing the two "rival traditions" in chapter eight, Rowe includes a general discussion of the "stories" of the Stoics and Christians, i.e. selected parts of their theory (excluding ethics). He informs his readers that such a comparison can only lead to one conclusion, namely, that the two traditions are in fact incompatible: the assumption that the Stoics and Christians can be put into mutually intelligible conversation is "false". Their stories are "diverge and conflict in every significant way." Conversation between them is "impossible" (pp. 22324). In other words, in the ancient world, a Stoic and a Christian would not be able to converse with one another. This point of departure colors the entire discussion that follows. According to Rowe, subjects and terms like God, the world, human being, Jesus of Nazareth, death, politics/society/community cannot refer to the same things for the Christian and the Stoic: the two traditions "face each other with different and competing stories about all that is. And no amount of scholarly labor can erase this most basic juxtaposition. They are, permanently and irreducibly, traditions in conflict" (p. 235).

The reader who anticipates in these final chapters a close reading of the ancient sources themselves, with examples and quotations from them, will be disappointed. The discussion continues in chapter nine on the general, surface level, without much explicit support from the ancient sources themselves. After all, Rowe has already stated that a conversation between the two traditions is impossible. In this chapter Rowe forms an inclusio by discussing MacIntyre and his account of an "epistemological crisis" that can help us better to understand the "untranslatability" of traditions like Stoicism and Early Christianity (pp. 25057). Rowe concludes by explaining the crux of his book: "Stoicism and Christianity are claims to the truth of life, and knowing the things they teach requires a life that is true" (p. 257)—hence the main title of the work.

Rowe's argument rests much on the claim that the Stoic and Christian traditions are mutually "untranslatable". But the analogy from language does not apply well to the subject under discussion. Most of the Stoic and Christian authors used the same language to speak about similar and different subjects, and had full potential of understanding each other. I can hardly imagine that many scholars would claim that Paul, Luke and Justin did not have the possibility to understand the Greco-Roman "stories" around them. The claim that "you could not have lived the claims of both traditions at once" (p. 246) is certainly surprising for the reader who knows of Stoic and Early Christian moral teaching. It is not that Rowe is wrong that words can have different meanings in different contexts. Certainly they can. But Rowe forces the case too far by claiming the impossibility of any kind of "translation" between the Stoic and Christian traditions, any kind of conversation between them. The Stoic and Christian frame of reference is more complex and more flexible than Rowe allows, overlapping to a considerable degree, in part because of common human experience, often differing in the way that experience is interpreted, but the common factor is there. For this same reason, Rowe is able to understand and discuss Stoic teaching, even though he is a Christian. Furthermore, in this regard, Rowe does not always do justice to the ancient sources themselves. For instance, he argues that the Stoic God is untranslatable into Christian terms because, for the Stoics, God was the world. This would certainly apply to the cosmology of Marcus Aurelius. But both Seneca and Epictetus appear to have understood the term differently, with more flexibility, sometimes referring to God as a personal being, roughly compatible to the Christian God.1 To claim that everything in these traditions is "untranslatable" is surely to overstate the case.

Moreover, not only is the absence of the primary sources in the final, comparative chapters problematic. So is the absence of ethics. It is precisely in the field of ethics or moral teaching that we see clear similarities between the Stoic and Early Christian traditions, as scholars have pointed out.2 Rowe simply dismisses this field of inquiry where the correspondence between the two traditions is most profound. Simply to explain morality away as non-existent (pp. 19293) is not to deal with the matter. Contrary to what Rowe claims, the ancient did have words for morality and commonly divided philosophy into physics, logic and ethics. Mainly for this reason, if the aim of Rowe's book is to engage scholarship on the relationship between Stoicism and Early Christianity, it misses the mark.


1.   E.g. Seneca, Ep. 10.5; 12.10; 41.2; 83.1; 95.48; 107.9; Ben. 4.5.1; 4.6.56; Prov. 1.1, 56; 2.67; 4.78, 1112; 5.12; Vit. beat. 15.4, 7; Epicetus, Diss. 1.3.1; 1.14.1, 910; 2.7.11; 2.8.1; 2.18.29; 3.21.12; 3.24.3, 15, 19, 113; 3.26.28, 37.
2.   See esp. the number of works by Troels Engberg-Pedersen, e.g. his Paul and the Stoics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000). See also Runar M. Thorsteinsson, Roman Christianity and Roman Stoicism: A Comparative Study of Ancient Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

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Anna Rist, The Mimiambs of Herodas. Translated into an English 'Choliambic' Metre with Literary-Historical Introductions and Notes. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. Pp. viii, 143. ISBN 9781350004207. $120.00.

Reviewed by Graham Zanker, University of Adelaide (

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The third-century writer of mimes in choliambic metre, Herodas, has in recent times enjoyed considerable attention in the form of commentaries and translations, notably by I. C. Cunningham with his 1971 Oxford and subsequent Loeb (2002) and Teubner (2004) editions, and by L. Di Gregorio in his two-volume commentary (Milan 1997 and 2004). In 2009 I myself contributed a text, translation, and commentary with lemmata in both Greek and English, aimed at an audience ranging from professional scholars to the interested general laity.1

Rist's new translation offers a 33-page General Introduction (with notes) addressing matters of Herodas' historical and literary milieu, the question of whether or not the Mimiamboiwere staged,2 and Rist's strategies in trying to convey their sense, flavour and metre 'for a wide spectrum of contemporary readers' (p. 1). Each of the nine surviving Mimiambs is given an introduction, with notes for students and interested general readers, followed by the translation, which is not supplied with notes, the introduction apparently having sufficiently explained all the vital problems.

Let us look at a sample of her translation. I take lines 1–20 of Mim. 2 (Rist's lines 1–17), in which the pimp Battaros makes his charge in court against one Thales for allegedly stealing one of his ladies, Myrtale.

Gentlemen of the jury, to be sure you are not judges
of our race or of our standing; nor if this man, Thales,
owns a ship that's worth five talents while I don't have
even bread, will he in law have weight one wit to
prevail to Battaros' hurt; contrariwise, bitter
tears it shall cause him! Like me he's to this city
an immigrant, and we can't live as we might like but
as our lot falls out. He has Mennes to stand sponsor; I have
Aristophon: Mennes is a boxing has-been!
That Aristophon still holds the ring at wrestling's proven,
Gentlemen! Let him come out toward sundown; then from
the cloak he wears shall be known what champion I come armed with!
But perhaps he's going to say 'I've come from Ake, bringing
corn, and put a stop to a feared famine.' Well, so
I brought whores from Tyre: to the populace what difference?
He don't give grist free to grind and nor do I give
her for screwing free!

The translation is accurate enough, where the papyrus' Greek exists; 'a boxing has-been' neatly renders πὺξ [νε]νίκηκεν. On the other hand, some phraseology seems curiously less idiomatic than the Greek, as with 'will he in law have weight one wit to | prevail to Battaros' hurt; contrariwise…', 'Like me he's to this city | an immigrant', 'to the populace what difference?': Herodas certainly parodies Battaros' deployment of forensic clichés, but there is nothing in the Greek text to suggest that he is parodying any attempt by the pimp to ape an orator's elevated diction here, nor that he is interested in the bathos produced by Rist's slangy 'He don't give grist'. On the tonal level, therefore, Rist's rendering adds something which isn't there, all in the name of capturing Herodas' 'liveliness', 'raciness' and 'relevance' for the English reader.

This is a procedure which features throughout Rist's translations. I agree with her assessment of Herodas' diction: '[he] combines an at times decidedly racy realism with a diction which revives… quaint, passé or otherwise striking usages' (p. 20). However, it is the degree of raciness and artificiality that has to be observed. Rist is frank about where she stands on the matter of raciness ('racy' is a word she is fond of: pp. 19, 20, 37, 42 [bis]). She writes (p. 29): 'I have assumed a translator's right to compensate, to an extent and where feasible, for … the 'entropy' implicit in translation — the inevitable loss of the precise and contextual colouring of the original', calling her procedure 'not less but more faithful to the reader.' She gives as an example her translation of Metriche's δὸς πιεῖν (Mim. 1.81, Rist's line 72) 'Give her one for the road!', though the Greek has merely 'Give <wine> to her to drink.' Here, she says, she has 'enlarged' the Greek. Another example of this 'enlargement' can be found in the same Mimiamb at line 54 (Rist's line 48), where Gyllis' decidedly neutral πλουτέων τὸ καλόν in reference to Gryllos' being 'nicely well off' is supercharged into 'all right for the readies'. In the fifth poem Rist makes Bitinna call Gastron 'Gutsy', but the adjective from which the name is taken simply means 'pot-bellied', and 'gutsy' in the sense of 'bold' is not an epithet easily applied to our Gastron (cf. Rist's defense at p. 79). 'Enlargement' too often leads to a false, inflated impression of Herodas' liveliness of diction; he is actually plainer and less sensationalist than he is presented as being. Herodas hyperbolized—who would have thought it?

Moreover, Rist claims (p. 27) that it is 'an obligation, as well as a challenge, to attempt to reproduce the 'limp"' of the final two syllables of the choliamb. Let us examine this claim. Like all ancient Greek verse, the choliamb is based on syllable-length, diverging from straight iambic trimeters by ending the line with a long-short trochee or long-long spondee instead of a short-long iamb, which gave the metre its 'limp'. It is bound by strict laws, even when the laws are 'broken', as when a long is 'resolved' into two shorts. Rist claims to capture this in English stress-accent, by translating into lines with six stresses, allowing herself 'fair latitude' with the first four feet' but 'rigour with the final two feet' (pp. 27–8). As she admits, she is 'on occasion' forced into a compromise even with the last two feet. Already, we can see that the choliamb's impact is likely to be attenuated. In practice, the effect she aims for is scarcely perceivable, because it is, as can be seen from our sample, rarely possible to make out four stresses (let alone iambic stresses) in 'the first four feet', and even in the last four syllables one cannot reliably sense an unstress/stress stress/unstress patterning. To take the passage above as an example, Rist's success-rate with the last four syllables is a mere 6 out of the 17 lines, and this is enough to destroy the intended effect, especially when there is so much contamination of the 'iambic' pattern in the first two and a half metra. These findings are representative for all the translations. I have to conclude that I do not think that Rist's attempt at replicating Herodas' metre is very effective.

A particularly disturbing element in Rist's translation is her smoothing over of all the papyrus' textual problems. She claims (p. 28) that her text is that of Cunningham, but that she has 'on occasion offered what I surmise to be the poet's likely intent, each time drawing attention to this in a note.' However, this programme is not always followed in practice. In our sample, for instance, she makes no mention of the fact that the left-hand side of the papyrus' lines 5–20 (her 5– 17) is severely damaged, and that line 7 is unintelligible (she therefore simply omits it). The aim is to avoid discommoding the reader, but it also allows her to pick among the 'liveliest' supplements or readings, like Papabasileiou's βινεῖν at the end of line 20 (her 17), which provides her with her 'racy' rendition, 'screwing'. Similar criticism can be made of her massaged translations of Mim. 1.35–47 (her lines 31–41) and 82–5 (her 72–6), and Mim. 7.26–42, after her line 20. Perhaps the most irritating example of her methods of supplementation involves her argument that the references to iambs and his 'second skill' in Mim. 8.77 prove that Herodas wrote straight iambs as well as choliambs. This not only depends on an unfounded equation of the two elements, but also on a word for 'skill' (either γνώμη or γνῶσις, optimistic supplements of the letters γν[ by various editors), which is not attested as conveying the sense of 'poetry'. Rist therefore ascribes an uncertain meaning to an uncertain reading, and yet, she expostulates (124), 'He hardly could be plainer!'

Then there is the problem of part-distribution. The papyrus's only indication that there is a change of speaker is the paragraphos in front of the word where the change occurs, and even then the system fails us. This affects every poem, except Mim. 2, from which our sample is taken (the interjection by the clerk at lines 46–8 [Rist's 38–9] is unproblematic), and Mim. 8, where there is only one speaker. In this respect, Rist follows Cunningham's distributions throughout, even with Offerings to Asklepios, poem 4, where the problem is especially acute (see Zanker [2009] 104–5 for a list of the wildly discrepant solutions). All this without a hint about the problem to the unsuspecting target-audience.

The introductions to poems 1, 2 3, 5 and 6 are the most helpful and least dogmatic in their contextualisations, though the expatiations on, for example, buttock-'mooning' in Mim. 3 (n. 4 pp. 60–1) and the connotations of Kerdon the shoemaker's name (from both kerdos, 'gain', and kerkos, 'tail', and therefore 'penis'!) border on the shy- making.3 Rist and I disagree on many issues concerning Mim. 4, its setting, and the seriousness of the two girls' art criticism, and I would have been interested in seeing her engagement with my position; I note here only that her insistence (p. 74 n. 7) that the traditional comic slave-abuse passage is almost at the centre of the poem does not disprove the possibility that ironically serious art-criticism might after all be at the heart of the piece, or its real aim. As for her introduction to Mim. 7, if all parties are in the know that Kerdon is covertly referring to dildoes as well as shoes, why the need to be 'cryptic' (p. 104)? In her discussion of Mim. 8 Rist forces the case for her old theory that Herodas wrote ordinary iambs in his youth, as we have seen.

For a book of this price, the standard of proofreading is very low. I must record the following for the 'general reader': at p. 19 for Askesis read Akesis, p. 76 Panake for Panakea; at p. 84 there are two note 7s, of which the second should be deleted; at p. 94 there is another supernumerary note 7, two lines of surrounding matter being repeated at p. 96 n. 8; in the bibliography the proofing of German titles and the spelling of Dutch names is haphazard.

To conclude. Rist's enthusiasm for her author is to her credit. Unfortunately, the by-product of this is that she will not serve the needs of her intended wide readership. The Greekless general reader will gain the impression that Herodas is far more slangy (and also archaic) than he really is, and that the text of the papyrus that preserves him is far more reliable than it is. The translation is generally accurate as to sense, but over-idiomatic in tone, and, as we have seen, is sometimes willfully forced to support Rist's interpretations. The book is therefore also unsuitable for 'students in that word's narrower usage' (p. 1).


1.   Graham Zanker, Herodas: Mimiambs (Aris & Phillips Classical Texts: Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2009) Pp. x, 252. Rist omits the item in her bibliography, though she refers to it some fourteen times.
2.   Rist seems to incline to the view that 'they are entertainments to be performed by no more than two or at most three actors', but admits the possibility that they were presented by 'one skilled actor' (p. 22; similar equivocation at pp. 108, 113).
3.   Rist parades her command of trendy, predominantly low-life slang. Some examples: 'send-up' (pp. 8, 19, 700), 'slumming' (p. 9), '(at the least) "oversexed"', 'Ms Bitch', 'from the stews', 'moniker', 'Nellie' or 'Fanny' for the alleged innuendo behind Kokkale's name (all p. 68), '"Bumma" (rather than "Stamma")' for the alleged connotations of Batale's name (p. 74), 'Get your ass out of here' (p. 125).

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Malcolm Davies, The Aethiopis: Neo-Neoanalysis Reanalyzed. Hellenic studies, 71. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies, trustees for Harvard University, 2016. Pp. xii, 107. ISBN 9780674088313. $22.50 (pb).

Reviewed by Giampiero Scafoglio, Université de Nice 'Sophia Antipolis'; CNRS - CEPAM UMR 7264 (

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Sul ciclo epico greco ha pesato per secoli il pregiudizio aristotelico e alessandrino che lo ha relegato al margine dei poemi omerici e che ne ha determinato la perdita quasi completa. Il primato omerico, o piuttosto il fenomeno denominato 'panomerismo',1 ha oscurato fin quasi ai nostri giorni un bagaglio culturale di indiscusso valore documentario e non sempre insignificante sul piano narrativo ed estetico. La 'riscoperta' di questa parte importante della poesia arcaica è stata avviata dalle edizioni critiche pubblicate quasi contemporaneamente da Alberto Bernabé (Leipzig, 1987) e da Malcom Davies (Göttingen, 1988), dopo essere stata anticipata con straordinaria lungimiranza dagli studi di Albert Severyns, specialmente dalla sua preziosa edizione dei riassunti di Proclo (Paris, 1963). In questo solco si pone il piccolo e interessante libro di Malcom Davies sull'Aethiopis di Arctino: il poema risalente al VII secolo a.C. o forse addirittura alla fine dell'VIII, dedicato agli eventi successivi a quelli narrati nell'Iliade, segnatamente alle imprese di Achille contro le Amazzoni e gli Etiopi, fino alla sua morte e poco oltre (compreso il "giudizio delle armi" e il suicidio di Aiace) – ma sulla possibilità di delimitare l'esatta estensione della trama di questa e di altre opere arcaiche, basate sulla tradizione orale e passate per la fase aurale, si dovrebbe svolgere una seria discussione, già avviata ma non ancora adeguatamente sviluppata.

In prima istanza Davies si pone il problema di 'giustificare' lo spazio dedicato al poema quasi interamente perduto di Arctino (pp. IX-X); un problema che, a dire il vero, mi sembra inesistente: molti libri inutili sono stati scritti su autori di primo piano e su opere di grande estensione, come l'Iliade o l'Eneide, mentre studi pregevoli sono stati dedicati ai singoli inni omerici o all'Appendix Vergiliana. A chi obiettasse che gli inni omerici e i componimenti pseudovirgiliani sono almeno pervenuti fino a noi come testi leggibili (diversamente dal ciclo epico, di cui non restano che pochi brandelli) si può facilmente rispondere che lo studio di alcune opere è reso necessario, e ancora più interessante, proprio dalle condizioni frammentarie e dalle incertezze di ricostruzione e di interpretazione, che richiedono tutta l'attenzione e forse maggiori sforzi agli studiosi che coraggiosamente vi si cimentano. Dispiace perciò leggere le motivazioni 'eteronome' addotte da Davies (la possibilità che l'Aethiopis abbia influenzato l'Iliade e l'arte figurativa arcaica) per giustificare un libro che invece si giustifica da solo, considerando la portata dell'opera perduta (un poema epico derivante dal sostrato orale, portatore di un mito che è specchio del mondo greco arcaico; ma uno specchio diversamente posizionato, per così dire, rispetto all'epos omerico).

Un'altra premessa posta da Davies (pp. 1-2) è il rifiuto (senza però una vera confutazione) dell'originaria esistenza di due canti distinti, dedicati rispettivamente alla lotta di Achille con le Amazoni e alla guerra con gli Etiopi: "there is simply no ancient evidence for any such multiplicity of sources for our poem", né vale l'argomento dell'analogia con l'Odissea (formata da Telemachia, evocazione dei morti, viaggio di ritorno). Tuttavia Davies sa che una testimonianza antica non priva di credibilità (Suid. 251 Adler, s.v. Ὅμηρος = Aeth. T 2 Davies) attribuisce a Omero un'opera intitolata Amazonia: l'esistenza di un canto originariamente autonomo con questo titolo è accettata perfino da uno studioso eccellente, ma tutt'altro che disponibile alle speculazioni analitiche, come Martin West (The Epic Cycle. A Commentary on the Lost Troy Epics, Oxford, 2013, p. 135); a meno che non si preferisca credere che si tratti di un altro poema, appartenente anch'esso al ciclo epico, ma diverso dall'Aethiopis, con cui avrebbe in comune però una parte della materia, come suggerisce Jonathan Burgess (The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle, Baltimore, 2001, p. 198). In quest'ultimo caso, si deve pur ammettere la precedente esistenza di un canto orale, o almeno di un tema mitico che è divenuto oggetto di uno o più canti orali, da cui deriverebbero sia l'Amazonia che la prima parte dell'Aethiopis. A mio avviso, è proprio questo il punto: bisogna spostare il discorso dal 'poema' inteso come testo scritto al 'canto' appartenente al sostrato culturale orale, nonché al 'tema' mitico che è oggetto del canto o di diversi canti. In questa prospettiva, mi pare difficile negare che l'Aethiopis potesse derivare da due 'canti' o da due 'temi' distinti: la tesi di un doppio titolo, che piace a Davies, non è inconciliabile con questa duplice origine dell'opera, appare anzi ben più credibile se ricondotta ai 'canti' o semplicemente ai 'temi' tramandati oralmente. L'analogia con l'Odissea è più importante di quanto sembri a Davies per la medesima ragione, cioè perché segnala non un legame tra due opere, ma un fenomeno culturale molto più ampio, che coinvolge anche l'Iliade e tutto il ciclo epico.

Sul problema dei rapporti tra l'Iliade e l'Aethiopis (pp. 3-24) Davies ripercorre lucidamente il dibattito critico, evidenziandone punti deboli e incongruenze, per addivenire infine alla posizione precisamente formulata da E.R. Dodds:

"certain of the motifs do look as if they had been invented for the Memnon story, but others, like the Funeral Games and the avenging of a friend, may well have been drawn by both poets from a dateless traditional stock"; d'altronde "in an oral tradition it is perfectly possible for two poems which belonged to the repertory of the same reciters to have influenced each other reciprocally, and to have continued to influence each other for a long period."2
La stessa posizione è assunta contemporaneamente (pur con un atteggiamento titubante e quasi oscillante, da "work in progress") da Bernard Fenik, (Typical Battle Scenes in the Iliad: Studies in the Narrative Techniques of Homeric Battle Description, Wiesbaden, 1968, pp. 235-236 e passim).3

Per quanto riguarda l'influenza esercitata dall'Aethiopis sull'arte figurativa arcaica (pp. 25-43) Davies riesamina i singoli temi: la "Kerostasia/Psychostasia", il combattimento tra Achille e Memnone, il cadavere di quest'ultimo tra le braccia di Eos, ancora il suo (presunto) cadavere trasportato dal Sonno e dalla Morte. A buon diritto, Davies rifiuta una corrispondenza fedele tra le singole scene dell'opera perduta e le rappresentazioni vascolari, che spesso tendono a concentrare diversi momenti del racconto in un'unica immagine, introducono elementi 'simbolici' (e.g. la presenza di Teti ed Eos al fianco di Achille e Memnone che combattono) o rispondono a esigenze squisitamente visive (colmare lo spazio, armonizzare il numero e la posizione dei personaggi, etc.).

Sull'immagine ricorrente del cadavere trasportato dal Sonno e dalla Morte, Davies smentisce l'identificazione con Memnone, che non gli sembra adeguatamente documentata e che sarebbe incoerente con l'immortalità concessa al guerriero da Zeus per intercessione della madre: il corpo in questione sarebbe quindi quello di Sarpedone (pp. 36-43). Non intendo entrare nel merito del problema; devo però dissentire dalla presunta incoerenza tra le suddette personificazioni e l'immortalità di Memnone. Infatti l'immortalità ottenuta da Eos e Teti per i rispettivi figli, se presa alla lettera o paragonata alla vita eterna delle divinità, sarebbe ugualmente in contrasto con i riti funebri celebrati (presumibilmente nel lutto e nella tristezza collettiva) per il defunto Achille, secondo il riassunto di Proclo (198-199 Severyns). Non bisogna dimenticare che, nella poesia arcaica, si riscontrano tracce evidenti di una riflessione sulla mortalità come caratteristica strutturale della condizione umana e sull'aspirazione all'immortalità: la testimonianza più importante è l'Inno omerico ad Afrodite. Il privilegio accordato a Memnone e ad Achille va probabilmente interpretato come un'immortalità 'relativa', forse non meramente simbolica (al modo del culto eroico devoluto a personaggi defunti, come riconoscimento dei loro speciali meriti), ma neppure pienamente realizzata: un'immortalità che implica comunque una separazione definitiva dal mondo umano e che, per questa ragione, non è molto diversa dalla morte, almeno dal punto di vista degli uomini. D'altra parte, non mi sentirei di escludere nemmeno che i due episodi riferiti da Proclo in merito all'immortalità concessa a Memnone e ad Achille risalgano a una fase successiva nella composizione 'stratificata' dell'Aethiopis (mentre la scena del cadavere trasportato dal Sonno e dalla Morte potrebbe appartenere a una fase precedente): se così fosse, l'incoerenza con i funerali e col compianto non sorprenderebbe. In ogni caso, anche la morte di Sarpedone nell'Iliade risulta alquanto problematica e forse finanche 'contigua' a qualche forma di immortalità (non a caso, si è pensato che sia modellata sulla morte di Memnone nell'Aethiopis).4

Davies svolge poi un commento puntuale e rigoroso ai riassunti di Proclo (pp. 45-81) e ai tre frammenti superstiti del poema (pp. 83-95), uno dei quali egli considera però spurio: segnatamente il finale alternativo dell'Iliade (tramandato dallo scolio T ad Il. XXIV, 804a) che mira a creare un raccordo con l'Aethiopis, annunciando l'arrivo della "Amazzone, figlia di Ares". Davies ricorda giustamente che questo passo non costituisce l'incipit del poema di Arctino, come in passato si è spesso sostenuto, ma solamente una variante testuale dell'Iliade. D'altro canto, non si tratta del finale originale del poema omerico, che non sarebbe arrivato "so close to total disappearance, preserved from oblivion by the slender thread of a uaria lectio". Queste premesse mi sembrano assolutamente corrette; non condivido tuttavia la conclusione tratta da Davies: "if the distich belongs neither to the Iliad nor to the Aethiopis there is litle scope for speculation". Credo piuttosto che, alla luce della 'gradualità' e della 'fluidità' che ha caratterizzato la composizione del ciclo epico e, almeno in una prima fase (la fase cosiddetta di auralità), anche i poemi omerici, si possa sostenere legittimamente che quel frammento non appartenga stricto sensu all'Iliade né all'Aethiopis, eppure appartenga in qualche modo a entrambe le opere.

Il dissenso su questi e su altri punti, che non posso sviscerare qui,5 non mi impedisce di salutare il piccolo libro di Davies come un lavoro pregevole che, proprio come i resti del poema a cui è dedicato, vale molto più della sua estensione. Tanto più dispiace notare un uso troppo selettivo della bibliografia, esclusivamente in lingua inglese e tedesca, con la sola eccezione degli ineludibili contributi di Albert Severyns: sorprende invece di non trovare mai citato uno tra i massimi studiosi del ciclo epico, Alberto Bernabé; a cui molti altri nomi e contributi inspiegabilmente ignorati si potrebbero aggiungere. Credo e spero di poter escludere un atteggiamento pregiudiziale di 'snobbismo' intellettuale, ma penso comunque che uno studioso del calibro di Davies non dovrebbe sottrarsi al confronto.


1.   La definizione è coniata da B. Gentili, Poesia e pubblico nella Grecia antica. Da Omero al V secolo, Milano, 2006, p. 98.
2.   "Homer", in Fifty Years (and twelve) of Classical Scholarship, ed. M. Platnauer, New York, 1968, pp. 1-13, 31-34, in particolare 12.
3.   Cf. I. Holmberg, "The Creation of the Ancient Greek Epic Cycle", Oral Tradition 13, 1998, pp. 456-478; G. Scafoglio, "La questione ciclica", RPh 78, 2004, pp. 289-310. Purtroppo, per motivi cronologici, Davies non ha potuto vedere il volume collettivo "Studies on the Greek Epic Cycle" (Philologia Antiqua 7-8, Pisa; Roma, 2014-2015), dove molto si dice sul ciclo epico in generale e anche sull'Aethiopis in particolare.
4.   Cf. C. Delattre, "Entre mortalité et immortalité : l'exemple de Sarpédon dans l'Iliade", RPh 80, 2006, pp. 259-271.
5.   Sul "giudizio delle armi" e sul suicidio di Aiace nell'Aethiopis, ma anche nell'Ilias parva e negli accenni retrospettivi presenti nell'Odissea, mi limito a richiamare il mio libro Ajax. Un héros qui vient de loin, di prossima pubblicazione nella collana "Classical and Byzantine Monograph" (Hakkert, Amsterdam).

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Robert Garland, Athens Burning: The Persian Invasion of Greece and the Evacuation of Attica. Witness to ancient history. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017. Pp. xiii, 170. ISBN 9781421421964. $19.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Sarah A. Rous, Rice University (

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Long lines of refugees on foot, possessions heaped on their backs, the elderly and women with small children struggling to continue their halting progress, all slowly snaking their way to the coast, creating enormous dust clouds in their wake. Families huddled in makeshift tents, waiting their turn to board precarious vessels. Once crowded on board, doing their best not to move, lest the overloaded vessel fill with water. Uncertain of their reception should they survive the crossing, some find a warm welcome, but most settle into tent cities they hope will be only temporary, doing their best to maintain their spirits in the face of unhygienic conditions, lack of food, and psycho-social stress.

Unfortunately, such accounts conjure up graphic images in our minds all too easily these days, in the midst of the ongoing global refugee crisis. But these are not descriptions of modern Syrians, risking their lives in crossing the Aegean, facing an uncertain future should they succeed in reaching European soil. Rather, they are Robert Garland's vivid depictions of Athenians abandoning their city in 481 BCE, "forsaking their homes, their shrines, and their dead" (pp. 47ff.), in the face of Xerxes's advancing Persian army. Garland's new volume on the Persian invasion of Greece is unique among the many books on the Greco-Persian Wars in its focus on civilians––particularly Athenians––their collective decision-making, and their fate as refugees and survivors. Garland treats the period from June 480 to August 479 BCE, basing his narrative on those collective decisions and their consequences. Throughout the work, Garland explores questions of logistics, emotions, perspectives, and intentions of the sort that, lacking "hard data," ancient historians have usually avoided (p. 3).

Like the previous volumes in the series Witness to Ancient History, Athens Burning is a slim volume primarily aimed at the general reader but meant to be of interest to scholars and students as well. A brief prologue setting out the focal points of Garland's approach to the topic is followed by five chronologically arranged chapters based not on battles but on evacuations and "burnings." A short epilogue brings the narrative to the 20th century. "A Note on Sources" should be useful for students and general readers, serving to elucidate the necessary reliance on Herodotus throughout the narrative. This is followed by notes, "Suggested Further Reading," and an index. A helpful timeline near the beginning of the volume covers the aftermath of the Battle of Marathon (Winter 490) until the Battle of Plataea (August 479). The eight figures and six maps throughout the volume are adequate but would be more valuable if they were numbered and referred to in the text.

In Chapter I, "The Origins," Garland presents concise overviews of the Persian Empire and the state of affairs among the Greek poleis at the turn of the 5th century, then briefly traces the early episodes of the Greco- Persian conflict, including the Ionian Revolt and the Battle of Marathon. He devotes the second half of the chapter to Xerxes's preparations to invade Greece, with emphasis on his mindset and motivations, and the Athenians' preparations to meet the looming invasion, especially their decision to build a fleet at the urging of Themistocles.

Chapter II, "The Evacuation," begins with an engaging narrative of the Athenians considering their options for the defense of their city, consulting the oracle at Delphi, and debating the correct interpretation of the oracle in the Assembly. The result of that debate, in Garland's view, was the decision to fight the Persians at sea and a concomitant binding decision to abandon Attica. The provisions for the evacuation were laid out a few weeks or months later in the Themistocles Decree, of which Garland finds "a historical kernel" in the famous inscription found at Troezen (p. 43). Garland's vision of this agonizing but orderly "first evacuation" in Winter 481 or Spring 480, while admittedly speculative, is drawn in vivid imagery, down to visceral details like human waste extending along the shoreline and floating in the sea (p. 49). The question of the destinations of the evacuees, whether Troezen, Salamis, or Aegina, is dealt with rather confusingly (e.g., "Troezen was probably the most favored location for the refugees" (p. 44) vs. Salamis "probably received the largest number of evacuees" (p. 51)). After briefly narrating the battles of Thermopylae and Artemesium and Xerxes's advance southward, Garland turns to the "second evacuation," that is, the evacuation attested by Herodotus, Diodorus, and Plutarch. Garland finds it "inconceivable" that the whole population could have been evacuated quickly in the manner described in the sources, and thus concludes that this was only a second, emergency evacuation (p. 58).

Chapter III, "The First Burning," describes Xerxes's destructive march toward Attica in September 480, his siege and sack of the Athenian Acropolis, probable destruction of the Agora, and his "dramatic change of heart" (p. 72) after which, according to Herodotus, he ordered the Athenian exiles to perform sacrifices on the Acropolis. A long section called "The Dēmos Afloat" covers the strategy discussions of the Greeks and the naval battle at Salamis. Garland explores Xerxes's psychological reaction to the battle and his choice to withdraw from Greece, submitting that politics won out over strategy in the decision to leave Mardonius behind.

Chapter IV, "The Second Burning," begins with "the first homecoming" in October 480, when Garland believes many of the refugees, on Salamis at least, would have come home and begun rebuilding. The traumatic homecoming, like the evacuation, is presented with great empathy as Athenians "pick among the ruins" and "encountered decomposing bodies in their homes." (p. 89) The Athenians reject Mardonius's offer of alliance, delivered by Alexander I of Macedon, and finding no help arriving from the Peloponnese, are finally forced to abandon their city again as Mardonius's army crosses into Attica in mid-summer 479. By now, he claims, they could indeed pull off a last-minute departure, having "got evacuation down to a fine art" (p. 95). Mardonius duly finds Athens empty, sacks whatever the previous plunderers had left standing, withdraws to Boeotia, and dies at Plataea, thereby changing the course of the battle and the war. One might wish for a slightly more robust account of the aftermath of Plataea and the action of the Greek fleet—previously a major player in the narrative––at Mycale, but the focus returns again to the Athenian refugees making their way home and beginning the work of cleaning up and rebuilding. The unity and urgency they felt is encapsulated by the construction of the "Themistoclean" city wall––a major collective undertaking indeed, though not accomplished exclusively, as G. makes it seem, through the appropriation of elite funerary monuments.

A final chapter on "The Postwar Period" begins with an account of lessons not learned on both sides, which includes an exploration of what the "Persian version" of the Greco-Persian Wars may have been, and the Greek cities' lamentably quick return to making war on each other. The Greeks thanked the gods by initiating new cults and festivals, but showed no great gratitude toward their successful leaders Themistocles or Pausanias. At Athens, the Agora was rebuilt, and so too, eventually (Oath of Plataea or not), was the Acropolis. Garland ends the chapter with brief discussions of the historiography of the Greco-Persian Wars (focused on Aeschylus's Persians), the question of Athenian reception of Persian material culture, and the development of the Greek stereotype of the Eastern barbarian.

In a brief epilogue, Garland confesses to being "profoundly moved by the extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice of the Athenians," without which we would not have the myriad achievements "that have illuminated Western civilization" (p. 125). Salamis did not "save" the West, only because the West was still in danger. Despite repeatedly emphasizing the positive aspects of the "remarkably inclusive" Persian empire throughout the book, then, Garland does hew to the view of the Greco-Persian Wars as the first pivotal moment in a continuing clash of civilizations, a view that many classicists and ancient historians find increasingly problematic.

Overall, Garland's take on the latter years of the Greco-Persian Wars is a welcome departure from the many accounts and investigations focused around battles. His emphasis on people rather than events, on the experiences and attitudes of individuals and communities, and on the impassioned debates that must have taken place but rarely leave traces in our sources, provide rich food for thought for both the specialist and general reader. The writing style is clear and engaging, if prone to hyperbole (e.g., "without precedent in human history" (p. 11), "virtually unparalleled in the history of human conflict" (p. 24), "rarely in the history of human conflict" (p. 81)). The headings within each chapter are helpful, though they sometimes seem deliberately designed to further downplay battles within the narrative. The Battle of Salamis, for instance, is covered in the section headed "The Dēmos Afloat," and the Battle of Plataea in "The Persians Withdraw from Greece."

As with many books aimed largely at a general audience, the specialist reader will find plenty to quibble with in the choice of which questions merit lengthier discussion, or points where the general reader deserves franker admission of scholarly uncertainty or debate. The most striking here is perhaps the question of multiple stages of the evacuation of Athens, which deserves more candid treatment than it receives in Chapter II. When coming to the "second evacuation" (the only one attested in sources), the reader suddenly has the sense that Garland may have invented the whole "first evacuation," presented with such empathic richness earlier in the chapter. He admits in a footnote to a later discussion (n. 56, p. 143) that the idea of two evacuations is a "theory" but this merits more explicit argumentation since the evacuation(s) are such a focal point of his approach. That the section on Mardonius's advance in Chapter IV is titled "The Second Evacuation," adds to the confusion. More generally, in Garland's treatment of individual episodes in, for example, Herodotus and Plutarch, the reader will find it hard to understand the distinction between those anecdotes of which Garland is skeptical and those he takes at face value.

A more substantial problem is Garland's treatment of secondary scholarship. Particularly on questions of topography and archaeology, Garland's claims are often outdated, unsupported, or occasionally simply incorrect. Most of his discussions of the buildings on the Acropolis and the damage they suffered in the Persian sack, for example, lack any references, and where he does acknowledge any degree of uncertainty he cites only older summary treatments. To give just two examples: on the vexing question of the "Hekatompedon," Garland cites only R. A. Tomlinson's Greek Sanctuaries (New York: St. Martin's, 1976), which itself lacks adequate citation. He relies heavily on Tomlinson elsewhere as well, including most egregiously on an unreferenced inscription that must be the much-discussed IG I3 35 on the appointment of a priestess for Athena Nike, which Garland takes as the first evidence of rebuilding on the Acropolis, "dated by its letter forms around 450" (p. 118). Of course one does not expect an exegesis of the three-bar sigma controversy in book like this, yet repeated instances of such less-than-current interaction with scholarship may make one hesitant to assign this book to students. A few topics, like the Perserschutt deposits, do receive more comprehensive notes, so the issue does not seem to be one of space constraints.

If one can get over such qualms (and perhaps one should), the book's reasonable price and modern relevance make it attractive for classroom use. The production quality is high, with only a few mostly minor typographical errors noted. Scholarly quibbles aside, the attempt to humanize ancient warfare is a worthy endeavor and Garland is to be commended for managing this effort well, painting a vivid and universalizing picture of the human causes and consequences of war with which we can, sadly, too easily relate.

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Konrad Heldmann, Europa und der Stier oder der Brautraub des Zeus: Die Entführung Europas in den Darstellungen der griechischen und römischen Antike. Hypomnemata, 204​. Göttingen​: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016. Pp. 227. ISBN 9783525208724. €90.00.

Reviewed by Thomas Gärtner​, Institut für Altertumskunde, Universität Köln​ (

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Konrad Heldmann verfolgt den Mythos über die Vereinigung des Götterkönigs mit der phönizischen Agenor-Tochter Europa durch die gesamte Antike (von der archaischen griechischen Epik bis hin zu den spätantiken Dionysiaka des Nonnos) und betont dabei insbesondere den Aspekt, daß es sich hierbei ursprünglich nicht um die amouröse Eskapade eines notorisch untreuen Ehemanns, sondern um einen Brautraub mit dem Zweck einer dauerhaften Verbindung handele; dieser Charakter der Geschichte gehe erst auf der letzten von Heldmann verfolgten Station, nämlich in den Dionysiaka des Nonnos, verloren.

Der Zeus der archaischen Epik ist völlig unbekümmert um die mögliche Wirkung seiner Liebesabenteuer auf Hera (14 f.); Hera grollt nicht prinzipiell aus Eifersucht, sondern höchstens dann einmal, wenn aus den Seitensprüngen ihres Mannes besonders prominente Kinder entspringen, wie etwa der Gott Apollon (17). Für die weitere antike Dichtung unterscheidet Heldmann zwischen bloßen furta des Götterkönigs und adulteria (19 ff.), bei denen eine eifersüchtige Hera in der mythischen Erzählung von vornherein präsent ist; zur ersteren Gruppe gehören neben Europa etwa Leda und Danae, zur zweiteren insbesondere Io (21); die Kallisto-Geschichte ist ein sekundär zum adulterium umgewandeltes furtum (33), während sich der Europa-Mythos als weitestgehend immun gegen eine solche Umwandlung zum adulterium erweist (37). Wichtig zum Verständnis von Heldmanns Argumentation ist, daß er diesen unterschiedlichen Charakter von Jupiters Affären als grundsätzlich in jeglicher Dichtung präsent betrachtet; etwa im Arachne-Gewebe der ovidischen Metamorphosen, wo alle möglichen Liebschaften kumuliert werden, wird dieser Unterschied „in bewußt inszenierter Fehldeutung" aufgehoben (22). Seit der hellenistischen Zeit wird, möglicherweise unter dem Einfluß der Neuen Komödie, der adulteria-Typ bevorzugt (23); parallel hierzu entwickelt sich das Motiv der permanenten Eifersucht Heras (30 f.), die sich jedoch nie unmittelbar gegen ihren Gemahl, sondern immer gegen die Nebenbuhlerin und gegebenenfalls deren Kinder richtet (31 f.). Die häufigen Selbstverwandlungen Jupiters bei seinen Affären (24 ff.) beruhen niemals auf dem Bestreben, die Untreue des Götterkönigs vor seiner ihm gegenüber ohnehin machtlosen Gemahlin zu verheimlichen (26).

Im zweiten Kapitel beleuchtet Heldmann das Motiv des Brautraubs (38 ff.), dessen Voraussetzung stets sei, daß Bräutigam wie Braut unverheiratet sind (39—bereits hier ergibt sich in bezug auf den Götterkönig das Problem, daß er, insofern seine Ehefrau ursprünglich seine Schwester ist, strenggenommen nie wirklich ungebunden gewesen ist). Heuristisches Paradebeispiel für den mythologischen Brautraub ist die Dis-Proserpina-Geschichte (44 ff.).

Archäologische und literarische Zeugnisse erhärten den Charakter des Europa-Mythos als Brautraub (56 ff.); wichtige Kriterien hierbei sind die Brautbeschenkung bei Hesiod (75 f.) und das schon von Wilamowitz hervorgehobene Motiv, daß Europa—im Gegensatz zu anderen Geliebten des Götterkönigs—von diesem drei Kinder hat (79). Natürlich darf Zeus als Götterkönig ohne weiteres den Brautvater übergehen (78).

Die Europa des Moschos (84 ff.) wird durchweg überzeugend gedeutet unter dem Gesichtspunkt, daß das ganze Gedicht positiv gefärbt ist durch die Aussicht Europas auf eine dauerhafte eheartige Verbindung mit Zeus; besonders deutlich wird dieser Aspekt durch die Begrifflichkeit des Verlassens (λείπειν) bzw. Folgens (ἕπεσθαι), welche Heldmann treffend mit einer auf Helenas neue Ehe bezüglichen Ilias-Stelle in Verbindung bringt (98). Weniger überzeugend erscheint dagegen die für Heldmanns Deutung zentrale Tilgung (89 ff.) des V. 77 (δὴ γὰρ ἀλευόμενός τε χόλον ζηλήμονος Ἥρης). Dieser Vers widerspricht Heldmanns Axiom, daß die Selbstverwandlungen des Götterkönigs niemals der Verheimlichung vor seiner Gattin dienen und daß Hera in der reinen furtum-Geschichte über Europa überhaupt keinen Platz hat. Es ist zuzugeben, daß der Vers ganz abgesehen von solchen Überlegungen unter sprachlichen Problemen leidet (vgl. Bühlers Kommentar z.St., der sich jedoch auf Ausstellungen an der Partikelfolge δὴ γάρ nach ἦ γὰρ δή in V. 74 beschränkt); andererseits ist eine Interpolation am Periodenanfang (wobei nach Heldmann in V. 78 παρθενικῆς τ' erst sekundär für ursprüngliches παρθενικῆς δ' eingedrungen sein soll, um den interpolierten Vers syntaktisch einzubetten, 92 mit Anm. 125) ziemlich ungewöhnlich und unwahrscheinlich. Ich würde den Vers eher als einen Versuch des Dichters betrachten, die von ihm konzeptionell präferierte Brautraubversion mit der bekannten Ehe von Zeus und Hera zu vereinbaren bzw. Hera als potenzielle eifersüchtige Ehefrau kurzerhand von der Bildfläche des Epyllions auszublenden.

Die Deutung der notorisch schwierigen Europa-Ode Horazens (carm. III 27) wird von Heldmann (123 ff.) dadurch gefördert, daß er zurecht die Möglichkeit betont, die Venus-Prophezeiung im Lichte der Brautraub‑Version als eine positive Verheißung an Europa zu verstehen (bes. 130) und uxor … Iovis (V. 73) in seinem günstigen Vollsinn zu deuten—in diesem Falle würde wohl durch das Europa-Exemplum auch der von Horaz angesprochenen Galatea eine positive Botschaft vermittelt (ob diese unbedingt in einem allegorischen Propemptikon zu einer Reise von der virginitas in den Hafen der Ehe bestehen muß, wie Heldmann im Anschluß an Clay will [129; 158], scheint nicht gesichert). Viele Interpreten haben das Europa- Exempel nur im Schatten der Ehe Jupiters mit Juno gesehen und daher eine positive Botschaft an Galatea von vornherein abgelehnt.

Sprachliche Details von Heldmanns Deutungen erscheinen jedoch auch hier zweifelhaft: victa furore (V. 36) sollte man kaum gemäß dem Horaz-Kommentar des Pseudo-Acro aus der oratio recta herauslösen (138 ff.); pietas …/ Victa furore entspricht exakt in der partizipialen Form dem vorausgehenden relictum/ Filiae nomen, wobei man furor nicht unbedingt als „Liebeswahnsinn" verstehen muß, sondern einfach auf den „wahnsinnigen" Entschluß Europas beziehen kann, ihr Vaterhaus zugunsten eines Stiers aufzugeben. Ferner kann Uxor invicti Iovis esse nescis (V. 73) auch kaum heißen „Du weißt nicht, daß Du … bist" (156), zumal dies ja in korrektem Griechisch durch eine Partizipialkonstruktion ausgedrückt werden müßte (vgl. zuletzt Iris Sticker, Uxor invicti Iovis. Zur Funktion des Europamythos in Horaz´ Ode 3,27, Hermes 142, 2014, 404 – 417, hier 408 mit Anm. 27); οὐκ οἶσθα εἶναι hieße „Du verstehst nicht, (richtig) … zu sein", wohingegen „Du weißt nicht, daß Du bist" einem οὐκ οἶσθα οὖσα entspräche; gerade ein des Griechischen mächtiger Leser würde also vollends verwirrt, wenn Heldmanns Deutung (nescis esse i.q. „Du weißt nicht, daß Du bist") zuträfe. Es werden also wohl tatsächlich Anweisungen für die richtige Ausfüllung der Rolle einer uxor … Iovis gegeben, die dann durch bene ferre im folgenden Vers fortgeführt werden (so entscheiden sich auch m.E. richtig Nisbet/ Rudd z.St.).

In der ovidischen Darstellung der Europa-Geschichte am Ende des zweiten Metamorphosen-Buchs steht nicht mehr, wie bei Moschos und Horaz, die Befindlichkeit des Mädchens, sondern vielmehr die Lüsternheit Jupiters im Fokus (161; 170). Der Grund, warum Europa, die bei Ovid bloße Beute ist (172), vor dem Geschlechtsakt überhaupt nach Kreta transportiert werden muß, ist nurmehr die mythische Tradition (170). Bei seiner schließlichen Deutung spielt Heldmann einen intratextuellen Leser gegen einen intertextuellen aus (175 f.); wer das Bild Jupiters in den Metamorphosen berücksichtigt, wird kaum annehmen, daß Jupiter mit Europa auf Kreta längere Zeit zusammenbleibt, wie es derjenige Leser, der die Tradition der Brautraubgeschichte kennt, annehmen muß. Nach Heldmann hat sich die von Ovid intratextuell suggerierte (aber nicht ausdrücklich erzählte) Version, daß Jupiter in Europa nur eine einmalige Affäre sah, in der Rezeption weitestgehend durchgesetzt und die ursprüngliche Brautraubversion entscheidend in den Hintergrund gedrängt (vgl. schon S. 10). Dabei unterschätzt er möglicherweise das inhärente Spannungsverhältnis zwischen Brautraubversion und Jupiters Ehe mit Juno, welches die von Heldmann immer wieder beschworene Brautraubversion schon längst vor Ovid in Frage stellte und einschränkte.

Für die Dionysiaka des Nonnos betont Heldmann (182; 186), daß sich hier die Europa-Handlung erstmals zu einem mythologischen Zeitpunkt vollzieht, als der Götterkönig bereits mit Hera verheiratet ist. Genaugenommen liegt diese Konstellation jedoch bereits bei Ovid vor (anders Heldmann 208): Nachdem Juno in der Io-Geschichte in met. I so nachdrücklich und unerbittlich als verletzte Ehefrau eingegriffen hat, muß sich jeder serielle Leser der Metamorphosen am Ende des zweiten Buches, als Jupiter Anstalten zur Überlistung Europas trifft, fragen, wie Juno nun hierauf reagieren wird. Bei Ovid greift Juno nicht ein, bei Nonnos kommt es immerhin zu einem „grimmigen" und „sarkastischen" Monolog Heras voller mythologischer Gelehrsamkeit, der letztlich nur ihrer Machtlosigkeit Ausdruck verleiht und ohne faktische Auswirkung bleibt (198 ff.). Bezeichnend ist, daß Zeus bei Nonnos während des Transports der Europa als νυμφίος Ἥρης (Nonn. Dion. I 82) bezeichnet wird (194); damit ist der Charakter der Geschichte als Brautraub endgültig verloren (194; 209).

Ein grundsätzliches Problem in Heldmanns Methodik besteht darin, daß er eine Urversion des Mythos (den Brautraub eines unverheirateten Jupiters ohne jedwedes Eingreifen Junos) herauspräpariert und als für sämtliche Autoren vor Nonnos verbindlich ansieht; die bestimmende Eigenschaft dieses Urmythos ist, daß er gegen Verfälschungen durch seit dem Hellenismus aufkommende adulterium-Geschichten im wesentlichen immun ist. Nur die Suggestivkraft der ovidischen Open-End-Erzählung hätte gemäß Heldmann dazu geführt, daß die Vorstellung von der Europa-Geschichte als einer kurzzeitigen Affäre Jupiters in der neuzeitlichen Rezeption einseitig die Oberhand gewonnen hat.

Demgegenüber möchte ich ein eher flexibles Alternativmodell der Erklärung bevorzugen: In archaischer Zeit wurde die Verbindung der sterblichen Europa mit Zeus uneingeschränkt positiv als große Ehrung für erstere angesehen, zumal die Verbindung als dauerhaft galt und durch drei prominente Nachkommen gesegnet war. Schon relativ früh, spätestens in hellenistischer Zeit, geriet diese archaisch-naive Brautraubversion in einen unvermeidlichen rationalistischen Konflikt mit dem Mythologem der Ehe zwischen Zeus und Hera, die ja eigentlich, insofern Hera Schwester des Zeus ist, kaum eine „voreheliche Lebensepoche" des Zeus gestattet. Die Auseinandersetzung mit diesem konkurrierenden Mythologem zeigt sich in V. 77 des Moschos, der die Selbstverwandlung des Zeus—vielleicht im Zuge einer eigenen Erfindung—als eine prophylaktische Abschottung gegen eine mögliche Eifersuchtsszene Heras interpretierte und damit die Götterkönigin aus dem weiteren Gang seines Epyllions ausblendete, wenngleich der rationalistische Konflikt natürlich bestehen blieb. Horaz erwähnt Juno nicht und verwendet das Europa-Exempel—zumindest an der Textoberfläche—in seiner naiven archaischen Gestalt; einige Interpreten glauben, daß die positive Wertigkeit des Exempels durch die immer im Hintergrund stehende Ehe mit Juno eingeschränkt wird (was bei einem Dichter wie Horaz, dem differenzierter und anspielungsreicher Umgang mit dem Mythos zuzutrauen ist, natürlich a limine nicht auszuschließen ist). In Ovids Metamorphosen läßt das Jupiterbild des Gesamtwerks eine naiv-archaische Ausdeutung der Europa-Geschichte abwegig erscheinen, obwohl sie durch das von Ovid gegebene Faktengerüst nicht ausgeschlossen wird. Erst bei Nonnos bricht Hera als mythologische Person in die Europa-Geschichte ein, freilich nur als sarkastische Kommentatorin.

Der bleibende Wert der Untersuchung besteht darin, daß die archaische Brautraubversion des Europa-Mythos als die ursprüngliche herausgearbeitet, auch durch archäologische Zeugnisse (56 ff.) und Vergleiche mit dem teilweise parallelen Ariadne-Mythos (115 ff.) erhellt und als bis in die augusteische Epoche wirkmächtig herausgestellt wird, wenngleich auf der anderen Seite die seit dem Hellenismus nachweisbare rationalistische Konfrontation dieser Version mit dem Mythologem der Zeus-Hera-Ehe und die Überformung durch parallele adulterium-Geschichten minimalisiert und unterschätzt wird.

Das Buch ist sprachlich sehr korrekt gestaltet; Druck- oder Ausdrucksfehler im Deutschen begegnen nicht (nur auf S. 120 fehlt hinter einem Absatz der Punkt). Selten findet man kleine Versehen im Griechischen, etwa S. 13 im Ilias-Zitat σθήτεσσι statt στήθεσσι und ἅλοχος mit falschem Spiritus asper; S. 74 Z. 2 αυτῇ ohne Spiritus lenis; S. 102 δύναμαι γε ohne den durch die Enklisis erforderten zweiten Akut auf der Schlußsilbe von δύναμαι; S. 118 κατεστέρισαν statt richtig κατηστέρισαν (Aorist von καταστερίζειν).

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James Wilberding, Forms, Souls and Embryos: Neoplatonists on Human Reproduction. Issues in ancient philosophy. London; New York: Routledge, 2016. Pp. ix, 232. ISBN 9781138955271. $140.00.

Reviewed by Sophia M. Connell, Selwyn College, Cambridge (

Version at BMCR home site


'Leave the starry heavens alone', Plato exhorts (Republic 530c), forever after associating Platonism and its descendants with a lack of interest in natural science. One of the least dignified parts of natural science is that to do with reproduction or embryology. Surely those that promote a vision of a world as a reflection of a supreme godlike reality would not bother themselves with what occurs in the wombs of lowly female animals? But they did, as is revealed by this astonishing and fascinating study of Neoplatonist embryology. There are these caveats to be made, of course. Neoplatonist embryology, as ingenious and intricate as it is, shows no engagement with data collection or experimentation (p. 5). As with astronomy, it was driven 'entirely by higher order concerns' (p. 7) and so is very much on the theoretical side of science. The effort is focused on explaining this phenomenon in terms of how the sensible world reflects and is causally connected to the intelligible. Thus Wilberding's study is one of the most philosophical books one could ever imagine on embryology.

Wilberding's eye-opening book maps embryology onto Neoplatonic ontology more generally. This is done by undertaking a meticulous examination of a series of difficult-to-decipher texts ranging from classical antiquity to the 12th century CE, whose styles of writing and points of reference differ dramatically. Wilberding manages to order this material by establishing what the core Neoplatonic theory of embryology is. This then acts as a 'yardstick' by which to sort other texts that either focus on or mention embryological themes. Wilberding brings to light two key things. First, the importance of this moment in the history of embryology, and second the unusual, one might say radical, position on the female role. The female (or woman) is the active agent in generation or the 'actualiser'.

The book is organised in a helpful manner. Chapter 1 gives us Plato's own references to embryology, focusing on how Neoplatonists interpreted and tried to stay true to his view. It is also structured by general stances in ancient embryology, such as the contributions of male and female and the origin of semen in the body (whether from blood, marrow or the whole body). The second chapter focuses on Neoplatonist ontology, particularly from Plotinus and the way he compares cosmogony to sexual generation. Chapter 3 then turns to Neoplatonic embryology and the 'core theory'. An Appendix to Chapter 3 provides interpretations of a series of other texts that focus on or include embryology and which have elements of the core theory. None of these are entirely in line with the 'core theory' and so are deemed 'eclectic'. Chapter 4 is on the formation and animation of the embryo and the final chapter discusses the problem of monstrous births and the degeneration of kinds. There is also an Epilogue on the possible impact of the 'female actualisation thesis' and an exhortation to future research.

Chapters 2 and 3 are the central focus of the book; it is here that Neoplatonist metaphysics and causal principles are elucidated and then mapped onto embryological theory. As Wilberding explains, the Intellect is generated from the One because 'production necessarily follows from perfection' (PNP). Another principle that cannot be violated is that the product is always an inferior likeness of the producer (PIP). And finally there is the priority of the actual to the potential (PAP). All three fundamental principles are in place in explaining the creation of the visible world from the One and the Indefinite Dyad. The One creates the Intellect and the Dyad (which is 'procession'); these two must then work together to create the forms (which is 'reversion'). Procession is associated explicitly with the male and reversion with the female. Thus the female is playing an active role here.

Turning then to Neoplatonic embryology, Chapter 3 begins with a captivating account of the treatise entitled To Gaurus on How Embryos Are Formed (Ad Gaurum) by the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry, who studied with Plotinus; this text was only discovered in the last century in a dusty monastery. Wilberding explains clearly how his embryology reflects the philosophical principles explained in Chapter 2. The One has to produce something (PNP) and something inferior to it but like it (PIP)—the Pre-Intellect or Dyad. This is equivalent to the seed that the male produces that is inferior to him because it exists in potentiality. This seed carries in it immaterial form-principles that are actualised by two external agents—the mother and the heavenly bodies. These main tenets of Neoplatonic embryology are then traced in other core theorists including Proclus, Themistius, Ammonius Hermeiou, Asclepius, Simplicius, and John Philoponus.

The Appendix to Chapter 3 covers many treatises that do not have enough about them to count as Neoplatonic embryology but have elements of it or hint at a knowledge particularly of the idea that the mother is active and has formative powers (p. 102). Chapter 4 then moves on to discuss the formation and animation of the embryo about which there seems to have been less consensus. Thinkers either opted for the seminal or the pneumatic-body theory. The seminal theory posits that the soul and its parts exist in potentiality in the semen, whereas the pneumatic-body theory has it that all the parts of the soul enter at birth. (The rational soul, which is immaterial, picks up the non-rational parts as its pneumatic body during its descent into the body.) The chapter includes an illuminating discussion of how Philoponus manages to find ingenious ways to make the seminal theory accord with PIP and PAP (pp. 142-50). The final chapter details worries about the degeneration of the human kind, showing how Neoplatonists were able to bypass this problem. Since the product is worse than the producer (PIP) one might worry that offspring would always end up worse than parents. This can be avoided because the form principles that shape offspring are not made by parents but are from a universal source.

This is a fascinating book, well worth reading if you have any interest in Platonic philosophy or ancient philosophy more generally. However, it is not an easy read and on top of this quite a lot of knowledge is assumed. At times it was not clear what counts as Neoplatonist—the criteria might have been set out more clearly at the outset, as well as the chronology of the thinkers and texts discussed.

The idea that there is a core embryological theory provides a very pleasing structure to the book and gives it a tight coherence. Wilberding makes a strong case that the core theory, and especially the theory found in Ad Gaurum, fits with key parts of Neoplatonism. However, we have less information about his other 'core theorists', and the line between a core theorist an eclectic theorist is not always that clear. Wilberding attempts to sort through some pretty difficult and confusing texts, looking for features of the core account. One might worry that this distracts from treating these as sources of information in their own right about views on embryology at the time. Rather than being confused, some of the works may not be theoretical but rather more like compilations or compendia. So, for instance, pseudo- Galen's De Spermate, rather than being thought to combine all three origins for semen, could be presenting them as possibilities or alternatives (p. 105).

One theme that is briefly touched on in the book is the effect of upgrading the female role in reproduction. For the Neoplatonists the mother is the active agent, actualising the form principles that are merely potential in the male seed. At several points Wilberding labels this 'a quiet revolution in embryology' (p. 1). The possible positive implications of the doctrine are brought out most forcefully toward the end of Chapter 3 where the following remark is made:

"This [embryological theory] is historically significant insofar as the proponent of the maternal actualisation thesis no longer gives the male the pride of place he receives in Aristotelian embryology, rather both the male and female nature are more or less accorded equal weight. This may be seen as an important corrective to much of the androcentric embryology that the Neoplatonists inherited."

This remark invites comment. First of all, it seems that the contrast with Aristotelian theory is exaggerated both in its contents and its implications. Although Aristotle holds that the female is not the active agent in generation, she does contribute semen of a sort that is able to aid in forming parts of the offspring. The idea that for Aristotle, male seed already possesses soul in actuality is also questionable. Furthermore, this is no evidence that Aristotle's views were used at the time to undermine women. Second, it is not at all clear that this would have been seen as a 'corrective' to its proponents. As Wilberding himself notes, the metaphysics of Neoplatonism seems to require the maternal actualisation thesis; the theory was motivated by higher order concerns of that kind. It is improbable in any case that this either reflected or led to more respect for actual women. Wilberding is of two minds about the connections between the maternal actualisation thesis and female equality. He is inclined to think that theory has little to do with practice, writing that his own understanding 'is that this more commensurate understanding of women was not accompanied by a more commensurate social and political view of women.' After all, Porphyry denigrates his own wife's femininity (p. 171). On the other hand, he wants to leave it open that future research might link the two—and find it to be the case that women were better treated by Neoplatonists. 'If Aristotle's biology is often cited as evidence of a rather misogynistic world- view then why should the embryology of Neoplatonism not be seen as evidence of their distancing themselves from such a worldview?' Of course it is unlikely that this could be evidence of this. Whether a theory accords an active or positive role to the female in generation does not tend to make any difference to whether the culture views women as equal to men. Even at present, where our science posits equivalent genetic contributions from both sexes, women are often still seen to be inferior.

The evidence we have is actually open to various interpretations. Perhaps Neoplatonists did not 'refrain from stressing the novelty of their theory' (p. 171) out of modesty but out of the desire to keep quiet about something that might have helped actual women. We could see them as misogynistic. It is also possible to find sympathy to feminism of the Platonic variety. As Wilberding says in a footnote, Porphyry also tells his wife not to be overly concerned whether she has a male or female body, and given what Plato says in Republic V this is unsurprising (p. 173 n. 2). It certainly seems worth exploring more documents like Porphyry's letter to his wife in this context (she, by the way, was known to be a keen philosopher as well as the mother of seven children).

Wilberding makes a strong case for including Neoplatonist embryology in the history of the subject (p. 172). There is a recognition here that this was a continuous field of research amongst philosophers, who puzzled over the deep metaphysical problems of the generation of animals. It is time that we took more notice of philosophical engagement with embryological theory from the earliest thinkers to the early modern period. Wilberding's book is a major advance in scholarship in this area and will surely open up substantial avenues for further research.

The typescript is immaculate; there are comprehensive notes, an excellent bibliography and index locorum. In short, this book in outstanding in content, style and presentation.

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Jacques-Hubert Sautel, Denys d'Halicarnasse. Antiquités romaines, Tome VI, Livre VI. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 522. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2016. Pp. cxxvi, 302. ISBN 9782251006062. €55.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Stavroula Kefallonitis, Université de Lyon, UJM Saint-Étienne, UMR 5189 HiSoMA (

Version at BMCR home site

L'édition critique du livre VI des Antiquités romaines proposée par Jacques-Hubert Sautel s'inscrit dans le projet d'édition de l'œuvre historique de Denys lancé dans les années 1980 par Jacques Jouanna pour la Collection des universités de France (CUF), dont il dirige la Série grecque depuis 1999, ayant succédé à Jean Irigoin. En 1990, une traduction des livres I et II par Valérie Fromentin et Jacques Schnaebele était publiée par les éditions Les Belles Lettres dans la collection « La Roue à Livres ». En 1998, le coup d'envoi dans la CUF était donné avec la publication par Valérie Fromentin de l'introduction générale et du livre I, suivie en 1999 de celle du livre III par Jacques-Hubert Sautel. Depuis la fin des années 1990, plusieurs thèses inscrites dans ce projet éditorial ont été soutenues.1

À l'échelle internationale, le renouveau des études dionysiennes se trouve en grande partie centré sur les Antiquités romaines, qui bénéficient désormais de la considération qui leur avait souvent été refusée depuis le XVIIIe siècle. Ce regain d'intérêt a pris son essor à partir des années 1950, à travers toute l'Europe, avec notamment les travaux de Jean Gagé, Emilio Gabba, Paul Marius Martin, Domenico Musti, Jacques Poucet, Jean-Claude Richard, Dominique Briquel, Germaine Aujac, Valérie Fromentin, Silvie Pittia, Emanuèle Caire, Anouk Delcourt, Casper de Jonge, Nicolas Wiater, et tant d'autres.

Cet élan a contribué à faire ressentir la nécessité d'une redécouverte du texte même des Antiquités romaines, jusqu'alors essentiellement accessible via l'édition critique de Carl Jacoby2 et la traduction annotée d'Earnest Cary.3 Aussi l'œuvre historique de Denys a-t-elle fait l'objet de plusieurs traductions ces dernières décennies, dont une version française du livre I proposée par Paul Marius Martin4, une traduction en grec moderne sous la direction d'Athéna Hatzopoulos5, une traduction espagnole d'Elvira Jiménez et Esther Sánchez, ainsi que d'Almudena Alonso et Carmen Seco6, une traduction italienne de Floriana Cantarelli7, une traduction française des fragments des livres XII à XX dirigée par Sylvie Pittia8 et, en 2014, une traduction allemande de Nicolas Wiater.9 Toutefois aucun de ces travaux n'a été précédé d'un examen philologique méthodique, par la collation de l'ensemble de la tradition manuscrite du corpus, travail que la (re)découverte de plusieurs témoins ignorés par Carl Jacoby a rendu nécessaire.

Aussi l'édition du livre VI des Antiquités romaines dans la CUF constitue-t-elle un progrès important pour les études dionysiennes, non seulement parce qu'elle fournit la première traduction française de ce livre depuis 1723 et un commentaire informé sur les questions historiques et philologiques qu'il soulève, mais aussi parce que le texte édité résulte, selon les principes éditoriaux de la CUF, d'une collation à nouveaux frais de l'ensemble des témoins à ce jour connus et, notamment, d'un manuscrit ancien contenant les livres VI à X des Antiquités romaines10, témoin décisif qu'ignore l'édition de Carl Jacoby, fondée sur l'étude de deux autres manuscrits ueteres11 et la consultation de quelques recentiores.

L'ouvrage a bénéficié de la révision de Loïc Bertrand et de l'apport déterminant de Dominique Briquel, spécialiste des origines de Rome, dont Jacques-Hubert Sautel indique qu'il a non seulement relu le commentaire par étapes, au fil de sa rédaction, mais aussi lui-même rédigé la partie historique de la notice.

La notice (p. VII-CX) est composée de cinq parties intitulées « Analyse du livre » (p. IX-XV), « Questions d'érudition » (p. XV-LVIII), « Intérêt historique » (p. LIX-LXXV : partie rédigée par Dominique Briquel), « Intérêt littéraire » (p. LXXV-XCVI) et « La tradition du texte » (p. XCVI-CIX).

La notice commence avec quelques rappels sur la composition générale des Antiquités romaines, suivis par un focus sur celle du livre VI, « Analyse du livre » : après un premier chapitre décrivant le consulat d'Aulus Sempronius et Marcus Minucius (l'année 497, selon la chronologie varronienne) et son fait majeur, la consécration du temple de Cronos (Saturne), le livre VI est présenté comme un diptyque, avec une première partie relatant le consulat d'Aulus Postumius et Titus Verginius (VI, 2-21, année 496) et la bataille du lac Régille, puis les problèmes intérieurs sous le consulat d'Appius Claudius et Publius Servilius (VI, 22-33, année 495) et celui d'Aulus Verginius et Titus Veturius, avec la dictature de Manius Valerius (VI, 34-48, année 494), et une seconde partie consacrée au consulat de Postumus Cominius et de Spurius Cassius (VI, 49-95, année 493) réussissant à calmer les troubles intérieurs et à remporter une victoire importante sur les Volsques.

La partie « Questions d'érudition » commence par un point sur « La chronologie de Denys dans le livre VI » : après quelques rappels sur les correspondances entre systèmes de datation grecs et romains et sur le décalage entre la chronologie varronienne et celle de Denys, il est question de la variabilité de la date d'entrée en fonction des consuls, de l'écart entre Denys et Tite-Live à propos du consulat sous lequel se déroule la bataille du lac Régille, et de la transition entre la sécession de la plèbe et la famine qui s'ensuit. Le second temps des « Questions d'érudition », intitulé « Le personnel politique », est consacré d'abord à la problématique de l'origine gentilice, puis aux différentes tentatives de reconstitution de la liste des noms des sénateurs députés sur le mont Sacré lors de la seconde ambassade (VI, 69, 3) et, pour finir, à l'identification des membres du premier collège de tribuns (VI, 89, 1-2). Le troisième volet des « Questions d'érudition » étudie « Le vocabulaire politique » à travers στάσις, πίστις et δῆμος/ πλῆθος.

La troisième partie de la notice, « Intérêt historique », s'intéresse aux deux événements historiques principaux du livre VI, à savoir, d'une part, la bataille du lac Régille, qui marque la fin des tentatives de retour au pouvoir des Tarquins et la mise en place de nouveaux rapports au sein de la ligue latine (bataille d'Aricie, foedus Cassianum) et, d'autre part, la première sécession de la plèbe et sa résolution avec l'institution du tribunat de la plèbe, événements à propos desquels un décalage est relevé entre l'importance de l'aspect économique dans la description du déclenchement de la sécession, et le caractère politique des mesures mises en œuvre pour résoudre le conflit, orientation qui pourrait être attribuée à une catégorie du peuple disposant de ressources plus abondantes et aspirant à un accroissement de son pouvoir politique, les futurs tribuns de la plèbe.

La quatrième partie de la notice, « Intérêt littéraire », permet à Jacques-Hubert Sautel de faire notamment la synthèse de plusieurs travaux récents sur des aspects stylistiques et rhétoriques de l'œuvre historique de Denys12, dont les siens, avec une étude de « La composition d'ensemble du livre VI », puis de « La rédaction des discours et des récits ».

La dernière partie de la notice est consacrée à « La tradition du texte ». Les grandes lignes de la tradition manuscrite de la deuxième pentade des Antiquités romaines (livres VI-X) sont rappelées. Jacques-Hubert Sautel vient confirmer les résultats des collations effectuées pour les autres livres de cette pentade dans les thèses récemment soutenues (voir infra, note 1), ainsi que ceux d'articles qu'il a lui-même consacrés aux témoins des Antiquités romaines, avec l'identification de deux branches dont les plus anciens manuscrits conservés sont A, B et V (voir infra, notes 10 et 11). Parmi les manuscrits recentiores et la tradition indirecte (notamment des excerpta qu'il a lui-même retrouvés dans un manuscrit athonite) Jacques-Hubert Sautel rejoint également les conclusions des thèses soutenues sur le reste de la pentade et brosse un tableau de l'état actuel de la recherche sur ces traditions. Quant aux principes de son édition, considérant que la tradition du codex V est contaminée et que la branche AV a fait l'objet d'une réfection, Jacques-Hubert Sautel estime qu'il n'est pas possible de trancher systématiquement dans les lieux variants opposants A à BV ou AV à B, et fait intervenir la critique interne, renvoyant à des lieux variants parallèles des Antiquités romaines (au moyen du TLG), aux résultats des thèses soutenues sur les autres livres de la pentade, ainsi que des habitudes d'écriture de Denys. Il n'est pas proposé de stemma, mais fait référence à celui de la thèse soutenue en 2004 sur le livre VII comme au « plus complet ».13

Suivent différents tableaux synthétiques (p. CXI-CXXIV), une table des sigles (p. CXXV-CXXVI), le texte, l'apparat critique et la traduction s'étendant sur cent quarante pages, puis la liste des abréviations bibliographiques utilisées (p. 141-152), des notes complémentaires (p. 153-295) et un index nominum (p. 297-299).

Par ailleurs, quelques remarques peuvent être formulées. Aucune des traductions récentes des Antiquités romaines contenant le livre VI, mentionnées supra, ne figure dans la bibliographie. Les références à Edward Spelman et Earnest Cary sont confuses14 : c'est en fait, d'une part, sur le texte de Carl Jacoby et, d'autre part, sur la traduction d'Edward Spelman (elle-même basée sur le texte de John Hudson) que s'appuie le travail d'Earnest Cary.15 On regrette une tendance à distribuer à Denys « bons points »16 et, plus souvent, « mauvais points »17, face à un passage difficile à comprendre, ou encore à le comparer à ses prédécesseurs sur le mode d'un classement dont Thucydide serait le major et Denys un camarade à la critique « indécente »18 : voilà des clichés dont il serait temps de s'affranchir, en évitant de comparer deux œuvres comme des valeurs absolues, pour les étudier dans leurs contextes pragmatiques respectifs.


1.   Valérie Fromentin, Denys d'Halicarnasse et l'historiographie de Rome en langue grecque (garant : Jacques Jouanna, Université Paris 4, 1997 / édition critique du livre IV) ; Nicole Haffner-Monleau, Denys d'Halicarnasse, Les Antiquités romaines : édition critique, traduction et commentaire du livre VIII (directeur : Jacques Jouanna, Université Paris 4, 1997) ; Hélène Godin-Olivier, Denys d'Halicarnasse, livre IX des Antiquités romaines. Édition critique, traduction et commentaire (directeur : Jacques Jouanna, Université Paris 4, 1998) ; Stavroula Kefallonitis, Édition, traduction et commentaire du livre VII des Antiquités romaines de Denys d'Halicarnasse (directeur : Jacques Jouanna, Université Paris 4, 2004) ; Mélina Lévy, Édition, traduction et commentaire du livre X des Antiquités romaines de Denys d'Halicarnasse (directeur : Jacques Jouanna, Université Paris 4, 2005) ; Jean-Baptiste Clérigues, Édition critique, avec traduction et commentaire, du livre XI des Antiquités romaines de Denys d'Halicarnasse (directrice : Valérie Fromentin, Université Bordeaux 3, 2007).
2.   Bibliotheca Teubneriana, Leipzig, 1885-1905.
3.   Loeb Classical Library, London-Cambridge, 1937-1950.
4.   Tours, 1971 (thèse dactylographiée).
5.   Athènes, 2003.
6.   Madrid, 1984-1988.
7.   Milan, 1984.
8.   Paris, 2002.
9.   Stuttgart, 2014, vol. 1 (livres 1-3).
10.   Le Vaticanus gr. 1300 (sigle V).
11.   Le Chisianus R VIII 60 (sigle A) et l'Vrbinas gr. 105 (sigle B).
12.   Entres autres, les thèses de doctorats soutenues ces dernières années en France sur les des livres des Antiquités romaines (voir supra, note 1), ainsi que différents articles, dont Valérie Fromentin, « La définition de l'histoire comme ʽmélangeʼ dans le prologue des Antiquités romaines de Denys d'Halicarnasse (I, 8, 3) », Pallas 1993, p. 177-192 ; eadem, « Les Moi de l'historien : récit et discours chez Denys d'Halicarnasse », Dialogues d'histoire ancienne. Supplément 4-1, 2010, p. 261-277. Consulté le 12 mars 2017. URL : ; Stavroula Kefallonitis, « Unité du livre VII des Antiquités romaines de Denys d'Halicarnasse », REA 110, 2008, p. 195-214 ; Jacques-Hubert Sautel, « Discours et récits dans les Antiquités Romaines de Denys d'Halicarnasse : différents niveaux d'énonciation », Pallas 97, 2015, p. 51-67. Consulté le 12 mars 2017. URL : Pallas: Revue d'études antiques.
13.   P. XCVII n. 253.
14.   P. CIX, 141.
15.   Loeb Classical Library 319, 1937, p. XLIII.
16.   P. XCIV-XCV, 174 (n. 40).
18.   P. XCIV-XCVI.

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