Friday, February 20, 2009


Yardley on Aveline on J.C. Yardley and Anthony A. Barrett, Tacitus. The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero. Response to BMCR 2009.02.15.
Response by J.C. Yardley, University of Ottawa (

In his review of the Oxford World's Classics Tacitus Annals, John Aveline makes a number of criticisms, especially of the notes compiled by Anthony A. Barrett. It is not my contention that the criticisms are unfair or biased. Readers should, however, always be made aware of any relationship of reviewers to the authors under scrutiny, and generally reviewers do very properly make a declaration of this relationship at the beginning of their report.

Readers of this journal were not informed of the relationship between John Aveline and Anthony Barrett, specifically of Aveline's failure to obtain his PhD (on Tacitus) at the University of British Columbia where Anthony Barrett was his supervisor. This information should have been provided.


  1. This seems unnecessary. If the criticisms aren't unfair, then why publicly humiliate this poor reviewer?

  2. I have to agree with the above comment. Was it really necessary to send an email outlining this and for BMCR to print it? Ah, the pettiness of academia, makes the kids playground looks sophisticated at times.

  3. Very glad to see this. Having read the book in question, I found the notes helpful, well-done, and not at all intrusive. Little that the reviewer complained about made sense -- until I learned that he had, contrary to standard practice, hidden his relationship to the author of the notes. Such an act cheapens both review and reviewer, and is why reviewers (in any field) nearly always take pains to disclose such information at the start of a review. That way, a good review escapes the charge of fawning, and a bad review still carries weight, all due to the apparent integrity of its author. Otherwise, it becomes painfully clear that the review is indeed "unfair and biased".


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