Sunday, May 31, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Susan Helen Langdon, Art and Identity in Dark Age Greece, 1100--700 B.C.E. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Pp. xviii, 388. ISBN 9780521513210. $90.00.
Reviewed by John K. Papadopoulos, University of California, Los Angeles

In this bold, innovative, and highly original study, Susan Langdon does away with many old, rather tired, and often labored ways of looking at Greek "Geometric" art and in so doing breathes new life into the iconography of the period between 1100 and 700 B.C. For too long the study of Geometric art has been dominated by the shadow of Homer, a tyranny of the text so pervasive that behind each image there had to be some hint, however remote, of epic narrative.1 Hence, a shipwreck, no matter how anonymous, had to be that of Odysseus and his companions; a chariot race could only be the funerary games for Patroklos or some other hero, and a strange pair of "twins" on a trick vase in the Athenian Agora were ingeniously interpreted, in 1936, a year after its discovery, by Roland Hampe as the young Nestor battling the so-called Aktorione-Molione twins described in Iliad XI.707ff.2 This is not to say that Langdon eschews Homer; she simply reads Homer in a different, and I would argue, more enlightened manner.

Beginning in the 19th century, interpretations of scenes on Greek Geometric pottery, bronzes, ivories, and other small finds flourished, each one trying to surpass an earlier interpretation, each limited only by the imagination of its author. A classic case in point is the celebrated dinos in the British Museum (1899.2-19.1) depicting a ship, with some 40 rowers at the ready to carry across the sea the over-life-size man who grasps the arm of a similarly large woman stepping onto the boat. The ways in which the iconography of this vase has been interpreted by earlier scholars is a tale deftly told by Langdon. Although originally considered by A.S. Murray in 1899--who read the two sides of the vase together--as funerary activities culminating in a ship race,3 the couple was later variously identified as Ariadne and Theseus, as Helen and Paris (or Menelaos), as Jason and Medea, or even as Hektor and Andromache (p. 19). As Langdon elaborates, more recent interpretations approach the scene in "real life" terms, namely, as an abduction marriage or simply "a blameless sea-captain taking leave of his wife", though she dutifully lists a whole slew of doubters.4 Langdon goes on to relate Klaus Fittschen's exhaustive discussion of the vase, and the passage deserves to be quoted in full as it typifies Langdon's wonderful manner of dealing, kindly yet firmly, with less-than-satisfying scholarship: "....Fittschen's 1969 discussion of the krater remains unsurpassed for thoroughness. He surveyed the range of mythical possibilities, testing an exhaustive iconographic analysis against literary sources. His process of elimination yielded only negative results. Because of conflicting iconographic clues, he concluded, the ship scene cannot be matched with any legend and must represent a contemporary eighth-century departure of a man, with or without the woman, the meaning of which is ultimately unknowable. It is hard to find a flaw in this logic, or to be satisfied with the results. They offer little to enlarge our understanding of Geometric art" (p. 21).

The beauty of Langdon's achievement lies in the fact that she looks beyond the traditional focus on an Early Iron Age society dominated by warrior males (a society so beautifully fashioned by Homer) as well as elites and non-elites (Ian Morris's kaloi and kakoi), and the focus on processes of change that emphasize class-based aspects. Instead, Langdon brings in women and children, a simple yet radical departure from earlier scholarship. By means of a combination of iconographic analysis, well informed with gender theory, mortuary analysis, and object biography, Langdon brings to the fore the manner in which figural representation was used to mediate critical stages--what Van Gennep's termed rites de passage5--in the life of both men and women. By approaching Greek Geometric art as inventive and expressive, Langdon succeeds in bringing us nearer to the experience of its original audience (cf. p. 8).

Following a succinct Introduction (pp. 1-18), which lays out the organization of the study, and "The Collaborative Enterprise of Geometric Art", "Geometric Art and the Early Greek Community", and "Listening to Homer", the first of five chapters is entitled "Art Made to Order" (pp. 19-55). The chapter begins with the abduction dinos in the British Museum already referred to, and turning to the theoretical underpinnings and reasons for connecting Geometric pictures with social rituals, Langdon neatly sets out the premises and methods of her approach. Here context, and contextualizing imagery, loom large, constrained, of course, by contemporary poetic evidence that provides a glimpse, however fleeting, of a cultural "mentality". What also looms large is the idea that "significant objects" involved collaboration between patron and artist within the framework of a social occasion. What Langdon uncovers is a growing expression of collective identities, the very identities that bound communities and institutionalized roles and inequalities. As she concludes the chapter, "Geometric art is busy with agenda, mediating relationships, behavioral codes, a normative view of men and women, families and communities. Elite self-definition leads the way but does not oppose wider group interests. It will define Greek culture for generations to come" (p. 55).

Chapter 2 (p. 56-125) entitled "Geometric Art Comes of Age: An Archaeology of Maturation", looks at the evidence for maturation rites that prepared boys for adulthood. This, together with the following chapters, documents the creation of what Langdon calls "ideal" gender types. She argues that the use of imagery in rites of passage offered avenues for competitive behavior, as well as a means of ranking and reinforcing a new ideal of masculinity. Here Langdon casts her net wide; the list of chapter sub-headings gives something of a clue of the wide range of themes covered: Children and Material Culture; Trial by Amazon; Being and Becoming; The Case of Kato Syme; Geometric Centaurs: Good, Bad, and Ugly; Gorgons and Medusa: The Maiden Behind the Mask; Masking Rituals; and A Need for Monsters. The chapter begins with the Tiryns bothros, a ritual context which brought to light the remarkable terracotta shield depicting a male warrior brandishing his sword and grasping the helmet of his opponent, a woman; an Amazon. In this chapter, much of the focus is on context and the alternative meanings that emerge when motifs are encountered in other contexts. Throughout the chapter, Langdon is careful to avoid the pitfalls of the anachronistic application of later texts and rituals to an earlier period.

In Chapter 3 (pp. 126-196), Langdon turns to the construction, through ritual and image, of the "virtuous" maiden as a social type and female chastity as a community value. Entitled "Virgin Territory: The Construction of the Maiden", the chapter opens with a dour Hesiod, for whom maidens are constituted, first and foremost, by their bodies. It is in this chapter where mortuary analysis plays a pivotal role, particularly the rich corpus of female graves in Athens, especially those of girls and younger women. From the Early Iron Age cemeteries in the Kerameikos and the later Classical Agora, Langdon goes on to look at how the maiden was visually constructed by Geometric artists. Following the work of Ken Dowden, Langdon analyzes the physical attributes that construct the maiden; beauty and fertility are seen against the backdrop of other elements, not least Dowden's "sympathetic landscape" of nymphs and maidens.6 Throughout the various regional styles of Greek Geometric pottery, the maiden row dance is a major theme, and Langdon analyzes the act of dancing from a regional perspective, beginning with the Argolid, and moving on to Attica and other regions. Langdon returns to mortuary analysis with the interesting iconography on the large cylindrical funerary urn that contained the inhumation of a child: a classic example of enchytrismos. The scene is interpreted against the backdrop of the Theban Daphnephoria, embodying features of maturation ritual: separation, liminality, age-group, and inversion, and from Thebes Langdon moves to dancing at the early Argive Heraion. What is perhaps most startling about Langdon's analysis is the simple realization that young "women and girls are everywhere more visible in the early Greek archaeological record than are young men" (p. 195).

In chapter 4 (pp. 197-233), "Maiden, Interrupted: The Art of Abduction", Langdon explores developments in later Geometric iconography that set the maiden into narrative situations involving abduction, and these, she argues, foreshadow the marriage paradigm of the Classical period. There is the abduction from the dance, as well as abduction by centaur. We return, full-circle, to the London abduction dinos, and related scenes that involve a couple and a ship. As Langdon notes (p. 216), the ship motif has long been connected with possible Bronze Age roots as a sacred hieros gamos theme of ultimately Near Eastern derivation. Consequently, related iconography in Minoan glyptic is scrutinized to see whether the abduction--marriage equation has a prehistory. The smoking gun here is the manned getaway ship, which is found in Minoan and Mycenaean, as well as Geometric and Archaic representations, in a variety of media.

Not only does the male capture the maiden, he also captures the oikos. This is the theme of Chapter 5, "The Domestication of the Warrior" (pp. 234-291). The chapter relocates, as it were, the social actors, as Langdon puts it, from the realm of myth into the "reality" of the Early Iron Age oikos (p. 17). She begins by investigating the pictorial construction of adult masculinity and then examines alternative paradigms for marriage, including the ideological construction of marriage as an increasingly androcentric institution. In addition to the representational realm, Langdon focuses on the actual remains of Geometric houses, with especial attention on the most fully investigated Geometric settlement at the site of Zagora on Andros (pp. 263-276). By comparing representations of the oikos in the context of ritual with actual changes in domestic space, Langdon succeeds in providing a chronological dimension to the dichotomies evident in pictorial representation.

There is a brief Epilogue (pp. 292-297). Here the focus is very much on the climax of the Geometric period: the 8th century B.C. and Langdon cogently questions the modern-day view of the 8th century "renaissance", which may even obscure as much as it enlightens the significant patterns of the period. Rather, Langdon views Geometric material culture through a social lens that yields important insights into art, society, and religion. A central tenet of her study is "that societal change in early Greece was consciously or unconsciously maneuvered through stages of maturation" (p. 293). Rather than limiting the enquiry as it always was to two options: did Geometric pictures depict everyday objects and happenings or were they expressions of a mythic consciousness? Langdon suggests a third alternative: "As a true representational system, the Geometric pictorial style constituted a widely accepted means of depicting reality in terms that complicated social life and created difference" (p. 293).

Envisioning Geometric pictorial representation as a highly social phenomenon is not, as Langdon notes (p. 17), a challenging task. What is more difficult is what Langdon tries to achieve: to return Geometric art to the rituals of life. I suspect that some more traditional Classical art historians may not warm to every aspect of this book, as it unsettles the comfortable manner in which many scholars have looked at image and text as analogues of one another. But this is the challenge of Art and Identity: it shows us that many of the questions previously asked, and indeed the very premises by which Geometric iconography was approached, were off-track, if not flawed.

In short, this is a spectacular book and, to my mind, one of the most intelligent analyses of Greek Geometric art ever written. Its brilliance lies in its simplicity. Reading through it, it is remarkable how many times I found myself thinking: "why hasn't anyone thought of this before?!" Well conceived and thought through, thoroughly researched, richly illustrated, and elegantly written, Art and Identity is a "must-read" for anyone even remotely interested in early Greece. It will quickly take its place as a seminal study, one that will re-orient the way in which we look at pictures in the corpus of Greek Geometric figural representation.


1.   See, most recently, A.M. Snodgrass, Homer and the Artists: Text and Picture in Early Greek Art, Cambridge 1998.
2.   R. Hampe, Frühe griechische Sagenbilder in Böotien, Athens 1936, 87-88, fig. 31; for full discussion and references, see J.K. Papadopoulos, "Tricks and Twins: Nestor, Aktorione-Molione, the Agora Oinochoe and the Potter Who Made Them," in P.P. Betancourt, V. Karageorghis, R. Laffineur and W.-D. Niemeier, eds., Meletemata: Studies in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Malcolm H. Wiener as he enters his 65th Year (Aegaeum 20), Liège 1999, 633-640.
3.   A.S. Murray, "A New Vase of the Dipylon Class," JHS 19, 1899, 198-201.
4.   Including G.S. Kirk, "Ships on Geometric Vases," BSA 44, 1949, 93-153; S. Brunnsåker, "The Pithecusan Shipwreck: A Study of a Late Geometric Picture and Some Basic Aesthetic Concepts of the Geometric Figure-Style," OpRom 4, 1962, 232, note 3; K. Fittschen, Untersuchungen zum Beginn der Sagendarstellungen beiden Griechen, Berlin 1969; A.M. Snodgrass, An Archaeology of Greece: The Present State and Future Scope of a Discipline Berkeley 1987, 166-169; T. Rombos, The Iconography of Attic Late Geometric II Pottery (SIMA-PB 68), Jonsered 1988; G. Ahlberg-Cornell, Myth and Epos in Early Greek Art: Representation and Interpretation (SIMA 100), Jonsered 1992.
5.   A. Van Gennep, Rites de Passage Paris 1909, though this seminal work is not referred to by Langdon.
6.   See K. Dowden, The Uses of Greek Mythology, London and New York 1992; see further Dowden, Death and the Maiden: Girls' Initiation Rites in Greek Mythology, London and New York.

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Version at BMCR home site
Sven Günther, "Vectigalia nervos esse rei publicae": die indirekten Steuern in der Römischen Kaiserzeit von Augustus bis Diokletian. Philippika. Marburger alterumskundliche Abhandlungen 26. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008. Pp. viii, 197. ISBN 9783447058452. €48.00.
Reviewed by Juan Ballesteros, Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Sevilla-Spain)

La recherche sur la fiscalité romaine a une longue tradition. Depuis l'Humanisme, le domaine des impôts a été un thème de recherche privilégié pour l'étude des structures de l'État romain, de ses dimensions et de son éventuelle modernité (ou archaïsme). En fait, une grande partie de la capacité du monde romain à devenir un modèle pour l'Occident réside dans la valeur exemplaire de son système fiscal. Sven Günther (G par la suite) a produit un important ouvrage dans cette tradition. Il s'agit d'un travail économique du point de vue de sa longueur (168 pages, plus la bibliographie et les index), mais d'une érudition exhaustive et pertinente.1

Le travail aborde fondamentalement les quatre impôts qui, dans le sens antique du terme, peuvent s'appeler indirects: celui de la vicesima hereditatium (5% sur les successions), celui de la vicesima libertatis vel manumissionum (5% sur les affranchissements), celui de la centesima rerum venalium (1% soit sur les ventes, soit sur les adjudications aux enchères) et celui de la quinta et vicesima venalium mancipiorum (4% sur la vente des esclaves). Je trouve fondamental, du point de vue méthodologique, l'effort que G a produite pour proposer une définition commune de ces quatre taxes sous le label d'impôt indirect (indirekt Steuer) --aussi tarif (Tarifsteuer)-- en opposition à d'autres ressources indirectes (indirekte Abgaben). Pour les Romains, un impôt indirect n'est pas une taxe appliquée à la consommation, mais un revenu public dont la perception ne dépend plus d'une liste personnelle ou d'un recensement étatique, mais d'une procédure établie ad hoc (p.17). Ce mécanisme de prélèvement fiscal rend impossible le calcul de la recette finale dérivée de la taxe, et il met les vectigalia en nette opposition avec les constributions directes (tributa) et le reste des rentrées publiques.

Après une première partie introductive (pp. 1-21), le livre est structuré en chapitres monographiques sur ces quatre impôts. Le deuxième est consacré à la vicesima hereditatium (pp. 23-94). G parcourt exhaustivement les sources littéraires et la bibliographie secondaire pour établir les origines de l'impôt pendant les guerres civiles du Ieer siècle av. J.-C. Il étudie aussi les circonstances de son introduction définitive dans le contexte de la création de l'aerarium militare (la caisse de retraite des légionnaires qui depuis 5 apr. J.-C. substitua les assignations polémiques de terres aux vétérans), aussi bien que les conséquences de la politique fiscale et militaire d'Auguste (p. 33: [die] inflationäre Politik), dont cette vicesima serait un important vestige. Malgré le soupçon d'anticipation anachronique (p. 48), le témoignage de Dion Cassius (DC 55.25.5; 56.28.4-6), du IIIesiècle apr. J.-C., reste fondamental dans tout l'exposé de ce processus. Tacite (Tac. ann. 13.50: sur la réaction de Néron face à l'activité abusive des publicains dans les prélèvements: 58 apr. J.-C.) permet de fonder l'hypothèse d'une progressive augmentation de l'intervention de l'État et du contrôle public sur la vicesima hereditatium, notamment par le moyen des procuratores XX hereditatium. Les réformes de Nerva et Trajan illustrées par les textes de Pline le Jeune (Plin. pan. 37-40), sont décrites dans le même sens. À côté de cette documentation traditionnelle, G a employé avec maîtrise enviable les sources légales sans cacher les problèmes de datation de ces données juridiques. Par exemple, tout le procédé public d'inspection et perception décrit aux pp. 69-70 a été établi dans un moment indéterminé entre Néron et Antonin le Pieux. Des sources papyrologiques sont aussi citées pour décrire le système d'affermage de la vicesima.

Le troisième chapitre étudie la vicesima libertatis (pp. 95-126). L'impôt sur l'affranchissement fût établi par le consul Manlius Capitolinus l'année 357 av. J.-C. (Liv. 7.16.7) et son existence peut être supposée jusqu'à l'Empire et les réformes fiscales de Dioclétien. G étudie divers aspects de l'administration impériale ayant rapport avec cette vicesima: l'organisation de la caisse où on la versait --l'aerarium Saturni dont l'aerarium sanctius était une section--, les modalités d'affermage de l'impôt, le fonctionnement des sociétés de publicains gestionnaires, le sens du fiscus libertatis et peculiorum du temps de Claude et les contenus des réformes de Néron et d'Hadrien. Ensuite, G présente les types d'affranchissement selon le droit romain et essaie d'en déduire les procédés de prélèvement de l'impôt associés.

Dans le quatrième chapitre on analyse la centesima rerum venalium (pp.127-147). C'est, à mon avis, le plus intéressant des impôts étudiés dans ce livre, car sa compréhension complète permettrait de répondre à une vieille crux sur l'administration des Romains: ont-ils eu une taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (Mehrwertssteuer)? Il est possible de suivre seulement une partie de l'histoire de la centesima: ni la date ni les circonstances précises de son introduction ne sont attestées par les sources, mais on sait que sous Tibère elle était destinée à l'aerarium militaire (Tac. ann. 1.78.2: 15 apr. J.-C.), qu'entre le 17 apr. J.-C. et le 31 apr. J.-C. Tibère le réduisit de moitié (Tac. ann. 2.42; DC 58.16.2), et que Caligula en exempta l'Italie en 38 apr. J.-C (Suet. Cal. 16.3 --ce texte, cependant, parle de la ducentesima--; DC 59.9.6). Il n'y a aucune source postérieure sur cette centesima. G a su se limiter à exposer les débats par lesquels d'autres chercheurs ont essayé de remplir ce vide. Par exemple, sagement il a traité dans deux sections individuelles les rapports supposés avec la centesima de deux sources épigraphiques: les tablettes pompéiennes de Caecilius Iucundus et la lex metalli Vipascensis. G présente aussi avec prudence les différents impôts qui, glissés dans la définition d'impôt sur la vente, ont été associés avec la centesima: le [vectigal] venalium rerum d'Ulp. dig. --vraisemblablement, une interpolation--, le pro edulibus (Suet. Cal. 40; DC 59.28.8) aboli par Claude (voir le quadrans de Claude, reproduit à la p.145) et le vectigal foricularii et ansarii promercalium (CIL 6.1016 a,b,c) --des droits de marché (Zölle auf Marktwaren)--. Une question intéressante est celle de l'objet de la taxe: s'agissait-il d'un impôt sur les ventes tout court ou sur les ventes aux enchères? G paraît choisir la seconde option (en s'appuyant sur Suet. Cal. 16.3: ducentesima auctionum). Sur ce point il serait donc souhaitable d'établir l'importance de la vente à la criée dans le monde romain.2

Le cinquième chapitre étudie la quinta et vicesima venalium mancipiorum (pp.149-154). On sait que'elle fut créée pour financer l'effort militaire des années 6-9 apr. J.-C et la création des cohortes vigilum, mais le problème fondamental de cette taxe, le taux, reste sans solution. Les deux témoins littéraires qui fournissent cette donnée offrent des chiffres différents: Tac. ann.13.31.2 (4%: 57 apr. J.-C.) et DC 55.31.4 (2%: 7 apr. J.-C.). Pour les arranger, soit on accepte la correction du texte de Dion Cassius, soit on postule une montée, non documentée par les sources, du taux depuis son introduction. G fait toute la lumière possible sur ce point et continue avec l'exposé de l'évolution de l'impôt. La réforme de Néron (Tac. ann. 13.31.2: 57 apr. J.-C.: Néron fit payer la taxe au marchand et non plus à l'acheteur) essaya de transformer la quinta et vicesima d'impôt sur l'achat d'esclaves, dont la perception devait être assez compliquée, en une taxe sur le chiffre d'affaires des enterprises de vente d'esclaves. Tacite lui-même montre l'échec d'une réforme specie magis quam vi, quia, cum venditor pendere iuberetur, in partem pretii emptoribus adcrescebat.

Il y a un dernier chapitre sur d'autres petits --par leur courte durée-- impôts indirects, notamment ceux introduits par Caligula et Vespasien (pp.155-161). Les vectigalia nova atque inaudita de Caligula sont exposés dans des textes très connus de Suétone et Dion Cassius (Suet. Cal. 40-41; DC 59.28.8). Ils furent vraisemblablement abolis par Claude (DC 60.4.1; Suet. Claud. 11.3). À côté du pro edulibus sur les aliments, traité dans le chapitre antérieur, il s'agit de la pro litibus ac iudiciis quadragesima sumae de qua litigaretur (2.5% sur les procès judiciaires), la ex gerulorum octava (12.5% sur les transports en ville), le ex capturis prostitutarum quantum quaeque uno concubitu mereret (le prix d'un service comme la taxe sur la prostitution), l'impôt sur les manufactures ou l'impôt sur les tavernes. Tous ces éléments ont eu une large répercussion historiographique. À l'exception peut-être de la quadragesima, ce furent des taxes imposées sur des activités commerciales et, avec la possible exception de l'impôt sur les prostituées --pour lesquelles l'existence d'un registre public et d'une éventuelle continuité à l'époque tardive restent discutées--, doivent être classés parmi les impôts indirects. Un des vectigalia...nova et gravia de Vespasien (Suet. Vesp. 16.1), qui frappait aussi une activité économique --celle des tanneurs--, apparaît dans le texte fameux de Suétone sur le urinae vectigal (Suet. Vesp. 23.3; DC 66.14.5). Sans continuité dans la période étudié par G, pourrait-on trouver des échos de cet impôt dans le khrysargyron, attesté au Bas-Empire (Cedrenus, Hist. Compend. 1.626-7; Manasses, Breviarium historiae metricum, vv. 3085-3099; Zos. 2.38.2; Evag. 3.39 sont des sources déjà rassamblées par Juste Lipse au XVIème siècle)?

La question fondamentale que l'auteur se pose tout au long de son ouvrage est celle des rapports entre les différents organes publics créés pendant l'Empire pour gérer les impôts indirects --procuratèles du prince, sections administratives gerées par des affranchis impériaux, caisses étatiques centrales et provinciales-- et les sociétés vectigaliennes fermières d'impôts et héritières de l'époque républicaine, dont l'origine privée ne cachait pas une fonction quasi publique. G, suivant le travail fondamental de Werner Eck, essaie de nuancer le point de vue traditionnel, c'est-à-dire l'accroissement des structures administrives centralisées de l'État depuis Auguste, et la disparition conséquente des sociétés gestionnaires des publicains, en postulant la coexistence, voire la collaboration, de ces deux instances de gestion (p.168: das Zusammenspiel von privaten Pächtern und staatlichem Personal). Il montre aussi que, depuis Néron, il est possible de définir une fonction de contrôle de la part de l'autorité publique sur les mesures des socii. Le manque de sources ou la nature lacunaire de la plupart d'entre elles êmpeche, néanmoins, de préciser cette évolution, et laisse le lecteur face à un travail de reconstruction historique dense et très technique mais, parfois, peu fluide du point de vue de l'exposé, où les données disponibles et les débats académiques sont très clairs, mais le discours proprement historique,un peu diffus. G a voulu trouver ce qu'il reste de l'État romain impérial dans les impôts romains dits indirects levés soit en Italie soit dans les provinces. Bref, la reconstruction des procédures administratives centrales, les moyens de contrôle des enterprises de prélèvement privées, les procédures de décentralisation, les dimensions des structures administratives proprement publiques, ou la base juridique des rapports entre les institutions privées et publiques, occupent la partie plus importante du livre. L'intérêt de son travail réside aussi dans ce qu'il présente de la sociéte romaine frappée par ces impôts. De ce point de vue, l'analyse de la réaction senatoriale contre la vicesima hereditatium décrite par Dion Cassius (DC 56.28.4-6, pp.1-2), la recherche sur les effets de la Constitutio Antoniniana (pp. 88-94), ou l'étude des mesures de Caligula touchant la remissio de la centesima (pp.130-132), soulignent les résistences, voire le refus, des Romains vis-à-vis des nouveaux sacrifices associés à la paix établie par l'Empire. L'introduction des vectigalia nova à l'époque d'Auguste supposa une définition complètement nouvelle de la politique fiscale et administrative romaine. La substitution de la fiscalité républicaine --d'une "brutale simplicité" selon Claude Nicolet (Rendre à César, p.259)-- dont les impôts, même indirects, avaient un rapport immédiat avec l'expansion territoriale (cf. App. B.C. 1.7) et la guerre, demandait du citoyen romain un dévouement fiscal qu'il n'a pas toujours octroyé sans résistance. De ce point de vue, peut-être, les bornes chronologiques que G a données à son étude sont-elles trop limitées pour comprendre les mesures qu'il décrit dans une perspective plus large.

Dans le livre de G, en conclusion, on ne trouvera pas un long discours sur l'ensemble du système fiscal romain, mais une étude approfondie des procédures de gestion des impôts dits indirects. C'est seulement de ce point de vue que l'ouvrage, à mon avis, se montre un peu décevant. Le livre ne touche pas le système douanier, ni la fiscalité indirecte républicaine. Dans son introduction (pp.10-14), l'auteur a choisi pour chacun des impôt qu'il s'apprête à étudier quelques précédents bibliographiques pour exposer le fondement de sa recherche. Par ce choix, il est possible d'apprécier la ligne que G a voulu suivre. Il cite, par exemple, les ouvrages de Schragius (1672), Slevogt (1709) ou Bachofen (1843 et 1848) sur la vicesima hereditatium, mais il ne mentionne pas d'autres auteurs de divulgation, qui étudièrent la fiscalité indirecte romaine dans un contexte plus large, à savoir en considérant l'ensemble du budget impérial. Par exemple, la recherche pionière de Juste Lipse dans le deuxième livre de ces Admiranda sive de magnitudine romana libri IV (3ème ed. 1605) sur les opes romaines, le De vectigalibus populi romani (1734) de Pieter Burmann ou le très influent De tributis ac vectigalibus populi romani de Jules César Bulengerus (1618), qui auraient pu aussi paraître dans ce chapitre introductif, si la recherche qui suit avait été d'une portée plus synthétique.

Cela dit, le livre de G est destiné à devenir, dans les prochaines années, un ouvrage de référence dans le domaine de la fiscalité romaine et un instrument de recherche pour n'importe quel travail touchant les finances et l'administration impériales romaines. Le texte épuise les materiaux primaires aujourd'hui disponibles, il offre aussi des chapitres prosopographiques très utiles (comme celui sur le personnel connu pour les services provinciaux de la vicesima hereditatium, pp. 74-81; ou ceux sur le personnel de la vicesima libertatis, pp.106-107 et pp.113-117), et il propose un état de la question complet avec la bibliographie secondaire la plus récente. Il pourra être consulté avec profit à côté d'une bibliographie large mais qui commence à devenir démodée et peu stimulante, vues les nouvelles questions que notre époque a besoin de poser à Rome et à sa fiscalité.3 Son auteur a su garder les formes académiques d'une publication universitaire --je n'ai trouvé que deux coquilles dans les nombreux textes classiques transcrits: Locuplebant au lieu de Locupletabant (p.23) et contrasciptor au lieu de contrascriptor (p.69)--. Pour terminer, j'estime qu'il aurait été judicieux de recourir à un système de notation de la bibliographie en bas de page plus léger, d'autant que le titre complet des ouvrages apparait aussi dans la bibliographie finale (pp. 169-183).


1.   L'index général et l'introduction sont disponibles on line.

2. Voir là-dessus García Morillo, M., Las ventas por subasta en el mundo romano. La esfera privada (2005).

3. Par exemple, les livres de Cagnat, R., Étude historique sur les impôts indirects chez les romains (1882), Marquardt, J., De l'organisation financière chez les romains (1888), De Laet, S. J., Portorium. Étude sur l'organisation douanière chez les Romains, surtout à l'époque du Haut-Empire (1949), Goffart, W., Caput and Colonate. Towards a History of Late Roman Taxation (1974), Nicolet, Cl., Tributum (1976), Neesen, L., Untersuchungen zu den direkten Staatsabgaben in der römischen Kaiserzeit (27 v.Chr.-284 n.Chr.) (1980), parmi d'autres, continuent à être essentiels et indispensables. (read complete article)

Friday, May 29, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Maria-Zoe Petropolou, Animal Sacrifice in Ancient Greek Religion, Judaism, and Christianity, 100 BC to AD 200. Oxford Classical Monographs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pp. xii, 336. ISBN 978-0-19-921854-7. $120.00.
Reviewed by Paul Dilley, Kansas State University

This important book is a survey and analysis of animal sacrifice in Greek polytheism, Judaism, and Christianity, from 100 BC to AD 200, in the eastern Mediterranean. It is part of a recent resurgence of studies on sacrifice in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and its relationship to Judaism and Christianity.1 The author is motivated by "the fact that Christianity is known as a religion with no altars for slaughter, in combination with the historical fact that early Christians came from religious environments where animal sacrifice was practiced" (p. v). Despite this ultimate goal of understanding Christian sacrifice, the work is most useful as a series of individual studies. Petropoulou bases her research almost entirely upon textual sources, both literary and epigraphic; given the geographical area of study, most of these are in Greek, although she also considers the Mishnah in English translation. Rather than assuming a decline in Greek animal sacrifice in the Roman period, a frequent assertion made popular especially by the influential scholar M.P. Nilsson, Petropolou demonstrates its continued significance during the first two centuries of the development of Christianity. In this context, she then explores Hellenistic Jewish, early Rabbinic, and early Christian attitudes to animal sacrifice.

In Chapter One, "Approaching the Issue of Sacrifice," Petropoulou briefly discusses the work of various theorists of sacrifice, including E. B. Tylor, W. Robertson Smith, James George Frazer, and Marcel Mauss, and classicists, including Karl Meuli, Walter Burkert, René Girard, and the "Vernant School." She also reviews several studies of Jewish sacrifice, by Mary Douglas, Francis Schmidt, and Jonathan Klawans. This group represents a fairly broad cross section of approaches to ancient ritual, with a few conspicuous absences, for instance recent work based on Pierre Bourdieu's practice theory.2 Petropoulou critiques these different approaches, despite the highly simplified form in which she has presented them, and somewhat abruptly concludes with her own understanding of sacrifice: "a composite of beliefs, gestures, objects, and materials, which are defined by both vertical and horizontal lines, as these have been described above: that is, vertical is the line linking offerer and recipient, and horizontal is the one linking the offerer with objective reality" (p. 28). Although no sustained argument for this approach is offered, it proves to be a useful heuristic device, which is used occasionally in later chapters.

Chapter Two, "Greek Animal Sacrifice in the Period 100 BC-AD 200," forms the heart of the book and is its most significant contribution. Contrary to the widespread view that animal sacrifice declined in this period, Petropoulou argues that it remained an integral part of Greek religion through the second century CE. She makes good use of a number of authors, but especially Diodorus Siculus' Bibliotheca Historica, the Moralia of Plutarch, and Pausanias' Description of Greece. Petropoulou argues that although these authors often refer to the remote past in their discussion of various rituals, including animal sacrifice, they assume continuity with the present. She also establishes convincingly that some of the passages in Pausanius closely reflect the language of the so-called "sacred laws," that is, inscriptions which regulate cultic practice, which continued to be produced into the second century. This is an important connection, although Petropolou does not discuss the difficulties in defining "sacred laws," which have been the subject of recent studies.3 Citing Dionysius of Halicarnassus, she concludes that Greek religion was fundamentally conservative, and even points to several areas in which "animal sacrifice was an act required of the Greek pagan, or felt as necessary by him/her" (p. 102). This chapter is followed immediately by Appendix 1 and Appendix 2, the Greek text of relevant passages by Plutarch.

Chapter Three, "From Greek Religion to Judaism: A Bridge," is a brief comparison between Greek and Jewish sacrifice. Petropoulou suggests that while our evidence for Greek religion concerns mostly the "horizontal" line, for Judaism it is possible to describe not only the "horizontal" but also the "vertical" in some detail, that is, "the wishes and intentions of the offerer" (p. 122).

Chapter Four, "Jewish Animal Sacrifice in the Period 100 BC-AD 200," begins with a discussion of Jewish animal sacrifice from a historical perspective, both before and after the destruction of the Temple; and then gives a synchronic perspective on the Jewish sacrificial system. For the former, Petropolou's primary source is Josephus; for the latter, she uses Philo and the Mishnah, primarily Kodashim. She argues that Jewish sacrifice did not decline in the Second Temple period, until its end in 70 CE, a view shared by a number of other scholars. According to Petropoulou, animal sacrifice remained important for Diaspora Judaism, at least as represented by Philo. She quickly dismisses the overly "allegorical" interpretations of his oeuvre, citing a passage (De migratione Abrahami 89-93) in which Philo explicitly advocates following the law, in contrast those who oppose literal adherence to it, instead emphasizing its symbolism. After a survey of the Mishnah, Petropolou concludes that "a common aspect between the horizontal lines of Greek religion and Judaism, which has arisen from this study, is the insistence on the definition of ritual details" (p. 206).

Chapter Five, "A Bridge Linking Greek Religion and Judaism to Christianity," is a transition to Petropoulou's discussion of Christian animal sacrifice. According to Petropoulou, early Christians included "Greek pagans, Jerusalem Jews, Diaspora Jews, and Jewish sympathizers" (p. 218), all of whom would have had various preconceptions about animal sacrifice. She speculates as to the possible shift in attitudes about sacrifice among pagan converts to Christianity, as well as gentile God-fearers, in the first century.

In Chapter Six, "Christians and Animal Sacrifice in the Period up to AD 200," surveys early Christian attitudes toward sacrifice. Petropoulou argues that, although there is no explicit evidence, some Jewish Christians may have continued to participate in Temple sacrifice before 70 CE, and that "to some Christians, the problem of participation in pagan feasts had not yet been solved" (p. 240). While these conclusions about the place of sacrifice in the New Testament will not surprise specialists, her overview of the apologists (including Tertullian, with Pliny the only Latin author she discusses) is an important contribution. She argues that a widespread argument against sacrifice had been developed by the second century and deployed against proponents of sacrifice, both pagans and Jews, despite the fact that Jews did not conduct animal sacrifice after the destruction of the Temple. In fact, one interesting rhetorical ploy of Christian authors in this period is to elide the differences between pagan and Jewish sacrifice, labeling the latter "idolatry". The apologists' primary critique of sacrifice was simply that it was unnecessary for an omnipotent God. The theological rather than practical nature of this critique is of great interest.

In Chapter Seven, "Conclusions," Petropoulou offers some reflections on the question of why Christians seem to have largely abandoned animal sacrifice by the second century CE, while noting the difficulty in answering this question, given that most of the evidence is from the second century, rather than the first. She applies her heuristic tool for analyzing ritual to this major development within early Christianity: "Any change in the vertical line, that is, in the relationship of the worshipper to the recipient of sacrifice, results in radical changes in the horizontal line, that is, in new cultic codes" (p. 285). Petropolou then turns, somewhat unexpectedly, to the ambiguous notion of "experience," a vertical phenomenon in the form of contact with Jesus, "which, in turn, led to an exceptional change in cultural semiotics, namely the tendency to abolish ancestral customs." This underdeveloped appeal to "experience" (and by implication "conversion"), whether it is to be understood psychologically or in terms of "cultural semiotics," distracts from the force of the arguments in the first six chapters.

Despite this somewhat problematic conclusion, Petropoulou's book is an important contribution to the study of late Hellenistic and early Roman religion, most notably for its demonstration of the continued importance of animal sacrifice in the early imperial period, and its elucidation of early Christian responses to this phenomenon, particularly in the second century.


1.   See, for instance, Francesca Prescendi, Decrire et comprendre le sacrifice. Les réflexions des Romains sur leur propre religion à partir de la littérature antiquaire, Stuttgart 2007; George Heyman,The Power of Sacrifice: Roman and Christian Discourses in Conflict, Washington, D.C. 2007.
2.   For such an approach, see Stanley Stowers, "Greeks Who Sacrifice and Those Who Do Not: Toward an Anthropology of Greek Religion," in L. Michael White and O. Larry Yarbrough (eds.),The Social World of the First Christians: Essays in Honor of Wayne A. Meeks, Philadelphia 1995, 293-333. Another important overlooked work is Nancy Jay, Throughout Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity, Chicago 1992.
3.   See, for instance, Eran Lupu, Greek Sacred Law. A Collection of New Documents, Leiden 2005.

(read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
César Fornis, Grecia exhausta: ensayo sobre la guerra de Corinto. Hypomnemata, Bd. 175. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008. Pp. 362. ISBN 9783525252864. €98.00.
Reviewed by María Cruz Cardete del Olmo, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Entre la numerosa producción bibliográfica del año pasado creemos necesario destacar una obra como Grecia exhausta. Ensayo sobre la guerra de Corinto, del Prof. Fornis, editado con gran calidad por una excelente editorial como Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Este libro plantea preguntas y trata de encontrar algunas respuestas para los múltiples interrogantes que rodean a la guerra de Corinto y a su significado histórico. Dicha guerra no fue simplemente un epígono de la Guerra del Peloponeso, como muchas veces se la ha considerado. Se trata, más bien una representación de los problemas sociales, económicos, políticos e ideológicos que azotan Grecia en un momento de desintegración progresiva del tradicional sistema políado.

La calidad del libro se advierte en diferentes elementos de los que nos gustaría destacar al menos tres. En primer lugar, la importancia de analizar con profundidad científica y rigor histórico un período que, a pesar de su brevedad (la Guerra de Corinto se extiende desde el 395 al 386 a. C.), juega un papel fundamental en el desarrollo sociopolítico, económico e ideológico de la historia de la Grecia del s. IV. A pesar de ello, no ha recibido especial atención por los historiadores (sobre todo por los españoles), posiblemente deslumbrados por la inmediatamente anterior Guerra del Peloponeso y la posterior ascensión meteórica de Macedonia. En segundo lugar, por la rigurosa minuciosidad con que el autor acomete su tarea y por la claridad expositiva con que plantea objetivos, problemas e hipótesis, así como por la ingente bibliografía que desgrana, analiza y ofrece al lector. Y en tercer lugar, por las posibilidades de análisis que abre este libro que, marcado por un especial apego a la historia político-militar, no limita por ello las opciones de continuar el análisis desde perspectivas más sociales y/o ideológicas, sino que las alienta, como el propio autor declara en el prólogo del libro.

El hecho de que el Prof. Fornis se centre en el universo político-militar de la guerra, marca la organización del libro, que se estructura en 12 capítulos, a los que hay que añadir un prólogo, una muy cuidada y extensa bibliografía y un útil y bien diseñado índice alfabético). Dichos capítulos siguen cronológicamente las vicisitudes militares y diplomáticas de las seis potencias principales en liza en la Guerra de Corinto: la homónima Corinto, Atenas, Tebas, Argos, Esparta y la voluble Persia.

El libro comienza con una magnífica introducción formada por los dos primeros capítulos ("Fuentes" y "Las causas de la guerra: un análisis tucidídeo"). En dichos capítulos el autor estudia con minuciosa laboriosidad todas las fuentes que sobre la guerra nos han llegado, no sólo las literarias sino también las epigráficas, en sus diversas versiones y ediciones. Con ello pretende analizar con precisión las causas (entendidas al modo de Tucídides, que diferencia claramente entre causa y pretexto) de la guerra, más allá de enfrentamientos superficiales, señalando finalmente a Esparta y a su marcado imperialismo posterior a la Guerra del Peloponeso como la causa última de la singular y casi antinatural, como el propio autor la califica, alianza entre Corinto, Atenas, Tebas y Esparta.

El tercer capítulo ("La configuración política y jurídica del synédrion de Corinto") comienza ya a mostrar uno de los rasgos característicos que se repiten a lo largo de toda la obra: la atomización de los problemas históricos en compartimentos pequeños para, analizando uno por uno, poder ofrecer una hipótesis global, una visión más amplia, producto del desmenuzamiento concienzudo. Los problemas estudiados de este modo varían mucho: desde hechos puntuales como las razones por las que Lisandro se apresuró a atacar Haliarto, (con un resultado muy negativo para los espartanos, pues mostró sus flaquezas a los estados griegos deseosos de librarse de su poder), hasta otros más profundos y complejos como la estrecha unión que se produjo tras las victorias de Nemea y Coronea entre Argos y Corinto.

Los capítulos cuarto ("La hora de la homoplachía") y quinto ("Campañas olvidadas: guerra de desgaste y de trincheras") analizan con detalle las maniobras políticas y los desarrollos militares de batallas clave (Nemea, Coronea y algunas incursiones menores) en la evolución de la guerra y en la toma de posiciones políticas de los diversos contendientes La guerra estuvo marcada por los condicionantes económicos propios de un enfrentamiento de desgaste (depredación de la chora, aumento de la rapiña, contracción de las rutas comerciales y de los mecanismos de intercambio...), así como por las crecientes dificultades político-sociales aparejadas, siendo la más grave de ellas la stásis, de especiales resonancias en Corinto, sobre todo por su estrecha relación con Argos (de cuyo análisis se encarga el autor en el capítulo sexto, "La virtual unión entre Corinto y Argos").

Siguiendo con el análisis exhaustivo de los desarrollos bélicos y sus consecuencias políticas, el capítulo 7 ("Conón, que dirigió a Atenas nuevamente hacia el dominio del mar") se centra en la batalla de Cnido, que marca el fin de la hegemonía naval espartana, el renacer temporal de los sueños imperialistas atenienses y una mayor incidencia del poder persa en el Asia Menor. Teniendo como hilo conductor al ateniense Conón de Anaflisto, al que el autor considera oficial al servicio de los intereses persas, Fornis analiza cómo los persas se van configurando como árbitros de los asuntos de los griegos orientales, marcando las que serán dos de las consecuencias más destacadas de la Guerra de Corinto. La primera de ellas, a corto plazo, es el giro en la política espartana que, de marcadamente belicista, pasa a proyectos de koinè eiréne, hábilmente desmenuzados por el autor en el capítulo 8, "Diplomacia y Realpolitik: estériles proyectos de κοινὴ εἰρήνη". La segunda consecuencia, a medio-largo plazo, es la capacidad persa de interferencia efectiva en la política de las ciudades griegas.

En el avance progresivo de la interferencia persa en los asuntos griegos se encuentran una serie de hitos que Fornis analiza en los capítulos del 9 al 12.

El capítulo 9 ("La stásis rodia") se centra en la discordia civil que se vive en Rodas en el 391 y que enfrenta a los demócratas (establecidos en el poder gracias a la vinculación de Rodas con Atenas, impulsada por la actividad de Conón durante la batalla de Cnido) y a los exiliados oligárquicos, que vieron en la reanudación de los ataques espartanos en las costas minorasiáticas en el 392-391 la oportunidad de recuperar el poder, sin que los espartanos parezcan instigadores directos de la lucha. Destaca en este capítulo un acercamiento interesante, a pesar de su brevedad, a las diferentes versiones que las fuentes (especialmente Jenofonte y Diodoro) ofrecen del proceso. Fornis desmenuza los textos de ambos autores exculpando a Jenofonte de falsear deliberadamente los hechos e incidiendo en los errores de Diodoro.

El capítulo 10 ("Τὸ ξενικὸν ἐν Κορίνθῳ: Ifícrates y la revolución subhoplítica") incide en un aspecto de la organización militar, concretamente en la consagración de la infantería ligera, de mano de Ifícrates, como nuevo modo de expresión guerrero y, por tanto, social. El capítulo 11 ("Λῃστεία: Egina y la depredación sobre el Ática"), por su parte, trata muy brevemente la entrada de Egina en el teatro de operaciones de la guerra como punto de control del golfo Sarónico y promotora de piratería privada sobre las costas del Ática.

En el capítulo 12, titulado "Trasibulo y el fracaso de la reconstrucción imperial ateniense", Fornis ofrece un estudio detallado del papel que jugó Trasibulo a finales de la guerra de Corinto como cabeza visible de un intento ateniense de reconstrucción imperial que devolviera a Atenas el poder y el esplendor del s. V. De nuevo nos encontramos con un minucioso análisis de fuentes, así como una exposición de las disputas cronológicas entre los expertos, sin eludir la crítica ni el posicionamiento. Fornis considera que la expedición de Trasíbulo tuvo lugar en el 390, que fue sometida a consideración del demos por el propio Trasíbulo, cuyos métodos de actuarión no fueron mal vistos por los atenienses y que los juicios que siguieron al fracaso no fueron dirigidos por los conservadores, deseosos de hacer pagar a los radicales sus excesos bélicos, ya que aquellos carecían de la fuerza política suficiente.

Por último, con "La paz enviada por el Rey" (capítulo 13), Fornis presenta una conclusión en la que ofrece una detallada síntesis de las causas, consecuencias y procesos relacionados con la guerra de Corinto, a resultas de la cual puede hablarse de esa Grecia exhausta con que el autor titula su obra. Llegados a este punto, el lector puede apreciar el valor de la idea central de la obra: la reivindicación de la importancia de esta guerra como punto de inflexión en el desarrollo de la polis griega, de cuya transformación profunda es referente básico. El periodo que se abre tras la guerra está marcado, siempre siguiendo al autor, por la fractura de la identificación entre ciudadano, hoplita y propietario. El cambio socio-económico al que contribuye la guerra es, por tanto, imprescindible para entender el desarrollo político del s. IV.

Concluyendo, podemos decir que esta obra es un trabajo de investigación puntero tanto por el tema que trata (de capital importancia pero pobremente analizado hasta el momento) como por la minuciosidad y el riguroso detalle con que son analizados los actores y procesos protagonistas del período en cuestión. A la innegable calidad científica se añade una excelente edición, presentada en un formato sencillo y cuidado. Sólo se echa en falta, en ocasiones, algunos mapas que centren el desarrollo de batallas tan prolijamente descritas por el autor y ofrezcan una información visual siempre rica en sus posibilidades de análisis.

Esperamos, por tanto, dada su calidad, que la Grecia exhausta de Fornis contribuya a impulsar enfoques que analicen un siglo IV riquísimo en su complejidad histórica, muy alejado de las simplificaciones a las que demasiadas veces ha conducido el excesivo protagonismo otorgado a la etapa posterior, la helenística, y a las figuras (Filipo, Alejandro) que la jalonan, que han conseguido eclipsar, no sólo a nivel popular, sino también entre los especialistas, la importancia histórica del período que se abre tras la guerra de Corinto.

(read complete article)

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Joachim Latacz, Thierry Greub, Peter Blome, Alfried Wieczorek (ed.), Homer: der Mythos von Troja in Dichtung und Kunst. München: Hirmer Verlag, 2008. Pp. 506. ISBN 9783777439655. $77.00.
Reviewed by Peter C. Nadig, Universität Erfurt

"Homer: der Mythos von Troja in Dichtung und Kunst" (Homer: the Myth in Poetry and Art) was an exhibition shown at the Antikenmuseum and Sammlung Ludwig in Basle, Switzerland (March 16 - August 17, 2008) and at the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums in Mannheim, Germany (September 13, 2008 - January 18, 2009). Its focus was on Homer, his times, and his reception throughout the ages. It drew quite a lot of attention with about 44,000 visitors in Basle and another 55,800 in Mannheim. The reviewer has seen the exhibition at Mannheim where he currently resides. However, this review will not comment on the exhibition display, but will focus on the catalogue which was designed to cover both locations. (The table of content listed below gives an impression of the great range of topics.) The Mannheim exhibition also ran parallel to another exhibition on the "dark centuries" in Greece at the Schloss in Karlsruhe1 which concentrated on the archaeological finds from 1200-700 BC in their historical context--the age generally associated with the "Homeric heroes". The Homeric epics were given less coverage there.

More than seventy collections loaned objects for the display dating from the 9th century BC to the present and ranging from ancient art and archaeology to medieval manuscripts, early prints, old master paintings, and modern art. One of leading authorities on Homer, Joachim Latacz (Basle), was the chief coordinator for both the exhibition and the catalogue. The aim was to show Homer's impact on the ancient world which through innumerous ramifications endures until the present day, as Latacz points out in the introduction. This huge book is divided into two parts--thematic articles and catalogue. The first (pp. 15-289) is in five sections--often with several chapters each--on the following themes: I. Homer and his times, II. The prehistory of Homeric poetry, III. Homer's work: Iliad and Odyssey, IV. The transmission of Homer's poetry, and V. The reception of Homer. All articles are lavishly illustrated with photos, charts or maps and contain various cross-references to the catalogue (pp. 290-471). The Appendix incudes bibliography, glossary, and short biographies of the authors of articles in part I. The catalogue contains numerous entries by additional contributors as well, who are not listed separately. There is no index.

Section I (pp. 19-69) starts with the question of Homer as a person in idealistic portraits and the ancient biographical tradition. The next chapters cover Greek western Asia Minor, the area of Homer's roots (either from Smyrna or Chios), the architecture of the late Mycenaean Geometric periods and the beginnings of writing. Section II (pp. 71-111) examines the historic setting and the archaeological background of the "real" locations of the Iliad (Troy) and Odyssey (Ithaka, Pylos, Sparta). It also takes a closer look at the bards from the Late Bronze Age until Homer and [?)pre-Homeric epics.

Section III (pp. 114-179) concerns the Homeric epics themselves. Its content and structure are succinctly summarized--often enriched with many quotes. In a short article Arbogast Schmitt introduces the relations of gods and men in Homer and closes with a note on "Homer und Wir" (pp. 169-170)--a reflection on a personal god in later ages. Martin L. West, contributing the only chapter to section IV, gives an interesting overview of the transmission of the Homeric text from the 7th century BC to the present. He also draws attention to the fact that the addition of innumerable papyrus fragments has done little to improve our text, though sometimes they have helped to point out interpolations. The largest section of the book (V: pp. 195-289) deals with the literary and artistic reception of Homer. Six chapters alone on the classical world--including Etruria--cover this topic, followed by two chapters on the reception in Byzantium and Medieval Latin poetry. Three further essays relating to the modern age conclude section V. The first is on Homer in the arts and design (exemplified here by a photo of a French hairdryer named "Odyssée") (p. 271) from the early Renaissance up to Max Beckmann's "Odysseus" and Twonby's rather abstract cycle "Fifty days at Ilium" from 1978. A summary on the modern literary reception from Winckelmann to Joyce comes next. Homer in merchandising and cinema is dealt with in the last chapter. A brief entry covers the modern use of Homeric terms and names including Trojan Horses, ballet shoes or boots named Penelope and Nausicaa, Homer Simpson or Duck Tales episodes as well as modern novels. The section on Homer in the movies is more detailed though far from being exhaustive.

The adjoining catalogue lists the 230 displayed objects with extensive commentary. Not surprisingly it begins with depictions of Homer in sculpture and coinage with the famous Munich head--a Roman copy of a Greek original from 460 BC. Many of the other artifacts that follow (pottery, bronzes, weaponry, and metallic vessels) are included as representative samples of the period covered. It is not until no. 70 that the theme returns to the Homeric epics--then with events prior to the Iliad. Most of the subsequent ancient objects directly related to Homeric themes are often shown alongside much later works. No. 103 may be singled out here: this painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (c. 1803) from Basle of the injured Aphrodite returning to Olympus is placed amidst fighting scenes on Greek vases.

Needless to say, a good catalogue is often a very useful and welcome supplement to a large exhibition. This applies to the Homer catalogue in particular. The editors as well as the contributors can be congratulated for their efforts. All the articles and entries reflect the current state of research. The size and quality of the excellent photographs--many of them fairly large--leaves nothing to be desired--and reflects the high standard of Hirmer, one of the finest art publishers in Germany. In itself the catalogue gives a fairly rounded overview of Homer, his work and reception. An exhaustive coverage is impossible even in such a big book and certainly not intended or necessary. The possible impact of ancient oriental literature on Greek epics, however, is avoided here. A chapter on the similarity of leitmotifs found in Mesopotamian texts might have enlarged the perspective.

Table of Contents:

Einführung: Warum Homer (J. Latacz)

I Homer und seine Zeit
1. Homers Person
Homer-Darstellungen in der antiken Bildkunst (E. van der Meijden Zanoni)
Homer-Darstellungen in der antiken Literatur (J. Latacz)
2. Homers Lebensraum
Die mediterrane Welt und das griechische Westkleinasien zur Zeit Homers (A. Bigmasca)
3. Homers Zeit
Die griechische Renaissance des 8. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (J. Latacz)
Die Architektur--Häuser für Menschen und Götter (K. Reber)
Die Bildkunst in der Zeit Homers (P. Blome)
Der Beginn der Schriftlichkeit und Literatur (J. Latacz)

II Die Vorgeschichte der Homerischen Dichtung

1. Die Schauplätze
Griechenland, die Ägäis und das westliche Kleinasien (W.-D. Niemeier)
Der Schauplatz der Ilias: Troja (P. Jablonka)
Die realen Schauplätze der Odyssee: Ithaka, Pylos, Sparta (M. Guggisberg)
2. Die Besinger der Schauplätze zwischen der Spätbronzezeit und Homer: die Sänger (Aoiden)
Die vorhomerische Epik--Indizien und Wahrscheinlichkeiten (S. Deger-Jalkotzy)
Die Sänger aus musikarchäologischer Perspektive (S. Hagel)

III Homers Dichtung: Ilias und Odyssee

Die Ilias: Inhalt und Aufbau (J. Latacz)
Die Odyssee: Inhalt und Aufbau (S. West)
Die Grossstruktur der Epen (E.-R. Schwinge)
Homers Erzählkunst (I. J.F. Jong)
Gott und Mensch bei Homer (A. Schmitt)
Die Abenteuer des Odysseus (A. Bierl)

IV Die Überlieferung der Homerischen Dichtung (M.L. West)

V Die Rezeption der Homerischen Dichtung

1. Die Rezeption in Griechenland
Die Rezeption der Homerischen Dichtung in der griechischen Bildkunst (P. Blome)
Die Rezeption der Homerischen Dichtung in der griechischen Literatur (A. Bierl)
Die Rezeption Homers durch die Philosophen (H. Flashar)
2. Die Rezeption in Etrurien
Zur Rezeption der Homerischen Dichtung in der frühen etruskischen Bildkunst (F.-W. von Hase)
3. Die Rezeption in Rom
Homer in der römischen Bildkunst (E. Simon)
Homer in der römischen Literatur (H. Harich-Schwarzbauer)
4. Die Rezeption in Byzanz
Die Homer Rezeption in Byzanz (C. Cupane)
5. Die Rezeption im Mittelalter
Die Rezeption der Homerischen Dichtung im lateinischen Mittelalter (F. Montanari)
6. Die Rezeption in der Neuzeit
Nähe und Ferne zu Homer: Die künsterische Rezeptions Homers in der Neuzeit (T. Greub)
Die literarische Rezeption Homers in der Neuzeit (B. Seidensticker)
Nenne mir Muse, den Vater der Massenkultur: Homer in Kommerz und Kino (M. M. Winkler)


Homer und seine Zeit
Die Person Homers
Die Kulturhöhe zur Zeit Homers
Geometrische Kunstwerke
Orientalisierende Kunstwerke
Die Schrift

Die Vorgeschichte der Homerischen Dichtung
Die mykenische Zeit (Spätbronzezeit)
Die Aufführungsorte

I. Homers Dichtung: Ilias und Odyssee
1.1 Darstellungen der vor der Ilias liegenden Ereignisse
1.2 Ilias: Handlungs-Darstellungen
1.3 Darstellungen der nach der Ilias liegenden Ereignisse
2. Odyssee: Handlungs-Darstellungen

VI. Überlieferung und Wirkung


1.   Zeit der Helden. Die "dunklen Jahrhunderte" Griechenlands 1200-700 v. Chr. shown at the Badisches Landesmuseum Schloss Karlsruhe October 25 -February 15, 2009. Catalogue edited by Claus Hattler et al., Karlsruhe-Darmstadt 2008.

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Alden A. Mosshammer, The Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era. Oxford Early Christian Studies. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pp. xi, 474. ISBN 9780199543120. $130.00.
Reviewed by Gregory Halfond, Framingham State College

It has been nearly ten years since a computer glitch dubbed Y2K by the media raised millennial fears (and hackles) throughout much of the developed world. While talking heads debated the severity of the problem and the possibilities of an apocalyptic crash of the world's computer systems, others raised the question whether, strictly speaking, the year AD 2000 marked the beginning of a new millennium, or whether that distinction belonged to 2001. As Alden Mosshammer observes in his new monograph, The Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era, this debate caused a remarkable amount of attention to be directed towards Dionysius Exiguus, the sixth-century putative inventor of Anno Domini dating. Skeptics of the apocalyptic implications of a new millennium noted that Dionysius' dating of the nativity was quite likely wrong. They were by no means the first. The Venerable Bede had observed back in the early eighth century that Dionysius' dating of Christ's birth contradicted biblical, annalistic, and patristic evidence, which favored the years BC 2/3. Most modern scholars thus have assumed that Dionysius willfully broke with tradition, and calculated his own (incorrect) nativity date.

Mosshammer effectively undermines this accusation in a lengthy, highly technical, and meticulously-argued study, presented as a monograph not as a handbook.1 That he largely succeeds is a testament to his clearly extensive knowledge of antique calendrical traditions. Nevertheless, the exposition of his findings is not by any means reader-friendly, and even has the potential to limit their diffusion. There are too many occasions when Mosshammer's otherwise admirable attention to detail distracts the reader from his larger argument. Additionally, his lengthy, often multi-page, summaries of scholarly debates belong in the footnotes, as they likely will be of interest only to specialists. While Mosshammer's intention of allowing opposing views to be heard is admirable and while these discussions are models of sharp critical analysis, stylistically they confuse and interrupt his narrative. And, while our author surely cannot be held responsible for the complexity of his subject matter, which Mosshammer himself acknowledges can be "highly technical and abstruse" (5), he makes no concessions to his readers. These stylistic critiques are in no way intended to diminish Mosshammer's accomplishment. His work is not only an important contribution to the study of early Christian computus, it also clarifies Dionysius Exiguus' role in the definition of the chronological periodization scheme that defines our own time in relation to antiquity. However, it is a legitimate concern that such contributions will go underappreciated by readers unable to penetrate Dr. Mosshammer's difficult work.

Mosshammer divides his study into four sections: "Contexts," "The Easter Tables of Dionysius Exiguus," "Paschal Calculations in Early Christianity," and "The Origin of the Christian Era." Part I provides a necessary, albeit difficult, introduction to the chronological systems of antiquity, including Olympiads, Diocletian dating, regnal years, and indictions. Mosshammer additionally provides a brief, but helpful, discussion of the calendrical origins of Easter, whose intimate relationship with the Passover feast -- celebrated by the sacrifice of the paschal lamb on the fourteenth day of the lunar month of Nisan-- made it necessary to graft a lunar-based feast onto a solar calendar. Today, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (25 March in the Roman calendar), but standardization of observance was lacking in the centuries prior to the Council of Nicaea (325), which formulated this rule. Sunday observance, as Mosshammer shows, was by no means requisite: worshipers in Asia Minor, known by their critics as Quartodecimans, observed Pascha as a commemoration of Christ's passion on the fourteenth day of the month, the date of the lamb's sacrifice. Mosshammer convincingly argues that the attendees of Nicaea "apparently or implicitly endorsed the rule of the equinox, even if it published no rule as such" (52). Although the Council did not formally adopt a nineteen-year cycle, as Dionysius later claimed, for early Christians such a cycle made the calculation of the date of Easter an easier task. Ninety-five-year paschal tables, such as the one constructed by Dionysius, could thus be calculated, as after five nineteen-year cycles the Paschal moon returned to the table's launch-date.

In Part II, Mosshammer examines in detail Dionysius and his table, which Dionysius completed in AD 525. Dionysius addressed his Easter table to a certain Bishop Petronius, who had requested the table with the ninety-five-year table of Cyril of Alexandria nearing its end. Dionysius claimed that his use of Anno Domini dating was his sole innovation; otherwise he followed Cyril's cycle. Dionysius' table, like its predecessor, consisted of five nineteen-year cycles, beginning with the last nineteen-year cycle of Cyril. To his table, Dionysius appended argumenta, nine or ten mathematical formulae, including formulae for calculating the Anno Domini from the indiction. Following Charles W. Jones, Mosshammer makes the important point that regardless of whether the Roman Church requested the table's construction, it had no official standing in the Western Church (61).

In Part III, the longest and most wide-ranging section of his study, Mosshammer examines the context and (primarily eastern) models for Dionysius' table, and the extent to which he was more follower than innovator. Mosshammer begins by tracing the use of epacts, i.e. the age of the moon measured in days, in Easter calculations. Mosshammer credits Demetrius of Alexandria (AD 189-232) with first employing epacts for the purpose of paschal calculations, basing his conclusion primarily on later Coptic (and derivative Ethiopian) sources, which he acknowledges have their problems (112). Epacts allowed Demetrius to construct an Easter table based on an eight-year cycle. The oldest surviving table, a sixteen-year chart credited to Hippolytus of Rome (third century), while adapted to Roman customs, is based on this Alexandrian eight-year cycle. It was the third-century polymath, Anatolius of Laodicea, who introduced the nineteen-year cycle with the new moon on 22 March and an equinoctial date of 21 March (25 Phamenoth in the Egyptian calendar). According to Anatolius' methodology, Easter could fall no earlier than the fifteenth day of the moon. Over the course of the fourth-century, as Mosshammer shows, Anatolius' work served as a model for subsequent Alexandrian tables, augmented by the employment of Diocletian dating, which "arose in response to the introduction of the consular year and the loss of Egypt's special status as a royal domain" (177). Around the early fifth-century, Annianus of Alexandria introduced the 532-year period to Easter calculation. In his Pachoualion, he calculated a new base date for Creation (Sunday, 25 March, 5492), and adjusted Anatolius' epact so as to coordinate the cycle with the Alexandrian civil year. Annianus' work provided much of the theoretical basis for Cyril of Alexandria's paschal list, which commenced in the year AD 399.

In Part IV, Mosshammer turns to the central question of the origins of Dionysius' Christian era. His principal argument in this section is that Dionysius was not the originator of his infamous nativity dating. Mosshammer observes that Pandorus, a contemporary of Annianus, had used a similar chronology. Pandorus had rejected Annianus' calculation that the Passion had taken place in the nineteenth year of Tiberius and the Resurrection in the twentieth, and dated both events to the nineteenth year. Pandorus, Mosshammer argues, was following Julius Africanus (late second-early third century), who dated the Resurrection to 25 March, AD 31. Africanus' dating implies a Nativity date of 25 March, 1 BC (cosmic era 5501). Pandorus, Mosshammer argues, probably was not Dionysius' direct source, just as he was not the ultimate source for this chronological scheme. Pandorus was merely "reasserting" the dating of Julius Africanus against Annianus (421). Anatolius too borrowed from Julius Africanus in composing his nineteen-year cycle, and Julius' Christian era was implicit in his table. Despite his reliance on the work of Annianus, Cyril of Alexandria did not adopt the latter's Christian era, but rather preferred the 'traditional' Alexandrian nativity date. Cyril's table, of course, served as the foundation for that of Dionysius. Thus, Mosshammer concludes, "The Christian era of Dionysius is no more than the cosmic year 5501 in the system of Julius Africanus, adapted first to the Alexandrian civil year, then to the Roman [civil] or indictional year" (435).

Although the history of Christian computus certainly does not end with Dionysius, Mosshammer concludes his study with the sixth-century monk, leaving aside the fascinating question of the transmission of Dionysius' table and his Anno Domini dating in subsequent centuries.2 However, Mosshammer's contribution to our understanding of Christian chronology is a significant one, clarifying the extent to which the system that Dionysius introduced to the West was of eastern origin, and its adoption into a Roman context. In doing so, Mosshammer redeems the much-maligned Dionysius from the charges of his critics, both medieval and modern.


1.   For students, a fine introduction is Arno Borst, The Ordering of Time, trans. Andrew Winnard (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993). Briefer, but slightly more technical, is the introduction by Faith Wallis to her translation of Bede, The Reckoning of Time, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999), xxxiv-lxiii.
2.   A problem discussed by Charles W. Jones, "The Victorian and Dionysiac Paschal Tables in the West," Speculum 9 (1934), 408-421; Charles W. Jones, "Two Easter Tables," Speculum 12 (1938), 204-205.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


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Daniel Greenspan, The Passion of Infinity: Kierkegaard, Aristotle and the Rebirth of Tragedy. Kierkegaard Studies. Monograph Series, 19. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. Pp. x, 336. ISBN 9783110203967. $141.00.
Reviewed by Steven M. Stannish, State University of New York College at Potsdam

Table of Contents

In 1872 Friedrich Nietzsche published his first and only major work in classical philology, Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik.1 Although Ulrich Wilamowitz-Moellendorff savaged the book,2 it became, to quote Walter Kaufmann, "one of the most suggestive and influential studies of tragedy ever written."3 Nietzsche's ideas on the Apollonian and Dionysian impulses, as well as on the baleful influence of Euripides and Socrates, still merit consideration today. At the same time, his portrayal of Richard Wagner as a new Aeschylus remains an instructive example of misguided hero-worship.

Daniel Greenspan's monograph The Passion of Infinity: Kierkegaard, Aristotle and the Rebirth of Tragedy, a revision of his Ph.D. dissertation at Villanova University,4 covers much of the same ground as Nietzsche's seminal work. The book is an inquiry into the nature and fate of the Attic theatre. Rather than focusing on Socrates and Wagner, however, Greenspan asks whether the relationship between Aristotle and Kierkegaard is as close as some scholars believe. The philosophers' views on tragedy are Greenspan's litmus test, and he finds them to be very much at odds on the subject.

Greenspan's touchstone is Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. Here, in the wake of unintentional patricide and incest, the mortal and the divine meet in tragic conflict to produce a "third wisdom": the awful light of Phoebus' sun exposes the complete inadequacy of human securities (pp. 28-37). Greenspan explains that the blind prophet Teiresias and the self-blinded king Oedipus embody the new awareness, which has uncertainty at its core (pp. 14, 28, 37).

Greenspan observes that Oedipus presents a problem for rationalistic philosophers like Aristotle (pp. 114-115). He is not lawless, insane, or vicious -- "a mere ritual purification" would serve to absolve him of his crimes (p. 23) -- but, nonetheless, he experiences a dreadful fall. In one of the murkier sections of the book, Greenspan argues that Aristotle viewed Oedipus' tragedy as an aesthetic revelation of reason in a seemingly irrational disaster (p. 89). He envisioned a soul with two parts: a personal psuchê tied to the body, and an impersonal nous wedded to reason. When the latter carried the day, eudaimonia, "well being," was the result (pp. 128ff.). Hence, where Nietzsche saw Euripides and Socrates as the killers of tragedy, Greenspan suggests that Aristotle not only participated in the murder, but also helped hide the body (cf. pp. 70-71).

Next, Greenspan turns to the Golden Age of Denmark and Kierkegaard's philosophy. While classical Greeks may have feared a sudden eruption of the divine into mortal life, Kierkegaard believed that modern Europeans suffered from a subjective autonomy manifest in feelings of total guilt (pp. 146, 148, 188, 190). For him, reason and society were obstacles, for they offered false justification and ineffective protection. Only a shattering encounter with the omnipresent yet unthinkable Christian God could redeem humanity (pp. 152ff.). Greenspan thus maintains that Kierkegaard's notion of tragedy shaded towards the Sophoclean (p. 172). Indeed, the Dane rejected the Delphic maxim of mêden agan and the corresponding Aristotelian view of the accomplished life as the ultimate telos. Rather, he stressed the role of the passions in human rebirth. In Greenspan's words, "Greece needed a Saint Paul, apparently, and then a Kierkegaard, to finish the job tragedy had started" (p. 234).

To flesh out this position, Greenspan examines Kierkegaard's archetypal Biblical figures as well as his various personae. Among the former, Abraham looms large. Unlike Agamemnon, whose sacrifice of his daughter, Iphigenia, has a clear end, the patriarch's charge to kill his son, Isaac, is completely absurd (p. 197). Also exemplary is Job's continued devotion to God in the face of staggering loss (p. 241). Kierkegaard emphasizes both men's surrender to the Divine, and their consequent experience of grace and mercy (p. 287). Thus, in his hands, "philosophy ends in a 'repetition' of the tragedy it originally suppressed" (p. 285).

As may be judged from the preceding remarks, The Passion of Infinity is as much about nineteenth-century philosophy as it is about classical drama. In fact, Greenspan's desire to compare ancient and modern thought may engender a flaw in his otherwise excellent study: a partial vision of Attic tragedy. Could not the Oedipus Tyrannus, among other plays, be experienced as a demonstration of the utter futility of immoderate striving? What is one to make of the ominous counsel in Oedipus at Colonus that the best thing for man is to have never been born, and the second best is to die quickly (1410-1413)?5 Here, there is no "third wisdom," no redemption, only the endless round of dikê, hubris, and nemesis. In such a cosmos, is not the Delphic injunction of "nothing in excess" entirely appropriate? So the chorus in Oedipus at Colonus proclaims: "Whoever it is that seeks to have// a greater share of life,// letting moderation slip out of his thoughts,// I count him a fool, a persistent fool" (1394-1396, cf. 646-647).

In the same vein, we may wonder whether Abraham's fate is truly tragic. God does order the patriarch to sacrifice his child, but the old man does not display the arrogance of an Oedipus or bewail his fate like an Antigone. Even more importantly, he never suffers the trauma of divine wrath. At the last moment, an angel prevents the killing, blesses Abraham for his obedience, and repeats God's promise of offspring "as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sand on the seashore" (Genesis 22:17, cf. 17:1-8). Is this story really the consummation of Sophocles' tragic art? Does Abraham, the anti-type of Agamemnon, actually reflect the outlook that produced Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis?

To go on in this fashion would be easy, but also unfair, for The Passion of Infinity is largely concerned with the link between Aristotle and Kierkegaard. Greenspan does an admirable job of demonstrating that, while the Dane may have used his predecessor's categories, he rejected his rationalistic philosophy. Suffice it to say that the author may have been better served by a less definitive reading of Attic drama. Today, only a small fraction of the tragedies of the fifth century survive. We may attempt to understand the messages of the extant plays, but should not trace them back to an overarching moral that dovetails with modern Existentialism. From a Greek perspective, Kierkegaard may have radically misunderstood tragedy as Judeo-Christian romance. He may have been no more a modern Sophocles than Wagner was a new Aeschylus.


1.  Leipzig: E. W. Fritzsch, 1872.
2.   Zukunftsphilologie! (Berlin: Gebrüder Bornträger, 1872); Zukunftsphilologie: Zweites Stück (Berlin: Gebrüder Bornträger, 1873).
3.  Introduction to The Birth of Tragedy (New York: Vintage, 1967), 3.
4.  "Kierkegaard and the Rebirth of Tragedy: Philosophy, Poetry and the Problem of the Irrational" (2006).
5.  Sophocles I: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, trans. D. Grene (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955).

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Ernst Osterkamp (ed.), Wissensästhetik: Wissen über die Antike in ästhetischer Vermittlung. Transformationen der Antike; Bd. 6. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. Pp. x, 386. ISBN 9783110204919. $125.00.
Reviewed by Claudio Franzoni, Liceo-Ginnasio "Rinaldo Corso", Correggio, Reggio Emilia, Italy

Il volume raccoglie una serie di studi di ottimo spessore incentrati sul tema della ricezione dell'Antico dal Medioevo fino al Novecento, ma secondo un'angolazione ben precisa che il curatore, Ernst Osterkamp, mette ben in evidenza nella premessa, quella cioè della trasformazione della cultura classica attraverso la mediazione estetica; Osterkamp sostiene insomma l'insostituibilità del tramite artistico nella conoscenza del mondo classico e non a caso richiama il pensiero di Novalis (p. VIII): "Si sbaglia di grosso se si pensa che ci siano degli antichi. Solo ora comincia a formarsi l'antichità, sotto gli occhi e l'anima dell'artista. I resti antichi sono solo stimoli specifici alla costruzione dell'antico. L'antichità non viene costruita a mano. Lo spirito la suscita tramite l'occhio, e la pietra scolpita è solo un corpo che riceve significato diventandone manifestazione" (qui nella traduzione di S. Mati). Il confronto con l'antichità, insomma, si costituisce come occasione di una continua rielaborazione dell'antichità stessa, in un processo che implica un ruolo attivo e creativo da parte delle epoche successive che a quel mondo guardano.

I vari saggi sono ordinati appunto secondo le diverse fasi storiche, a cominciare dal Tardoantico e dal Medioevo, che vengono considerati come la prima epoca di trasformazione dell'Antico. Nel primo saggio Arnold Esch ("Wahrnehmung antiker Überreste im Mittelalter", pp. 3-39) si chiede quale fosse la percezione delle antichità nell'Europa medioevale, in particolare nel XII secolo; il percorso proposto dallo studioso, per quanto sempre ancorato a questa domanda, risulta variegato e capace di abbracciare situazioni diverse: l'atteggiamento di Impero e Papato di fronte ai possibili usi dell'antico, l'atteggiamento dei Comuni; i racconti, spesso favolosi, dei "Mirabilia Vrbis Romae" o dei "Gesta Treverorum", una sorta di "Mirabilia" di Treviri. L'autore ribadisce lo sfondo colto e non popolare di questi testi--ben diversi dal "Codex Einsidlensis" di età carolingia (fig. 6, p. 16) --, osservando giustamente che il problema dei "Mirabilia" è che sanno troppo e hanno una risposta per tutto (p. 17), anche se tale risposta è spesso infondata. Eppure il modello interpretativo dei "Mirabilia" non è affatto destinato a scomparire col Medioevo e ancora nel XV secolo uno stesso monumento (il Pantheon ad esempio) può suggerire descrizioni differenti o addirittura contrastanti, come del resto capita anche nella pittura e nella miniatura.

Un altro aspetto rilevante della percezione medioevale dell'Antico è quello del reimpiego: qui Esch torna su un campo in cui è stato letteralmente pioniere, se è vero che risale al 1969 un suo saggio sull'argomento, ancora oggi più che mai valido. Esch affronta dunque le forme del reimpiego nelle grandi città e nelle piccole pievi (ad es. S. Martino a Poggio Moiano, in Sabina, p. 24) e si chiede quali potessero essere le spiegazioni date dai parroci ai rispettivi fedeli intorno ai marmi classici recuperati ed esposti in quei paramenti murari medioevali. Anche i cambiamenti nelle forme del riutilizzo--come un caso di reimpiego nella casa romana di Lorenzo Manili, datato e precisato nella sua provenienza topografica (fig. 9, p. 21)--segnalano il grande mutamento introdotto nel XV secolo dalla cultura umanistica. Tale nuova prospettiva si riflette anche nei nomi propri all'antica, e tra i vari interessanti esempi riportati dallo studioso spicca il caso attestato nel 1465 di un commerciante di Magliano in Sabina di nome Taliarcho (con chiara derivazione da Orazio, Carmina, 1.9).

In conclusione Esch torna su un argomento ben studiato anche di recente (N. Gramaccini)--quello del confronto con le statue di divinità antiche--offrendo la suggestione di una foto (fig. 13, p. 30) col disotterramento di una statua femminile nuda (Ostia, 1939), fotografia che ci aiuta a ricostruire quella mescolanza di sorpresa, attrazione e inquietudine che doveva suscitare in età medioevale l'improvvisa apparizione di immagini antiche come questa.

Nel saggio successivo ("'Eine andere Antike'. Für ein ästhetisches Paradigma der Spätantike", pp. 41-58) Marco Formisano parte da un'idea di H.-I. Marrou, citata appunto nel titolo, secondo cui l'età tardoantica fu appunto "une autre antiquité, un autre civilisation", per osservare come il cliché del Tardoantico come decadenza, presente nella letteratura e nelle arti figurative del XVIII-XIX secolo, sia a volte penetrato anche nella ricerca storica moderna. Lo studioso fa notare come un contributo positivo a un diverso sguardo sull'epoca sia stato offerto dagli storici dell'arte antica, Alois Riegl in particolare; e così le indagini sul reimpiego (ad es. gli "spolia" nell'arco di Costantino) hanno in un certo senso aperto la strada per comprendere i meccanismi di adattamento della tradizione classica ricorrenti nel Tardoantico. La ricerca contemporanea permette di cogliere sempre più la pluralità delle esperienze culturali di questi secoli tardi, caratterizzate dalla continua modifica e reinterpretazione dei modelli letterari tradizionali; si nota, in particolare, un nuovo rapporto tra attività creativa e opera di commento e, anzi, il tardoantico si profila proprio come l'epoca per eccellenza del commentario sotto forma di parafrasi, "epitomai", "centones"; in questi ultimi si realizza appunto una singolare tensione tra il ricupero e il rispetto degli autori classici utilizzati e lo sforzo innovativo nella costruzione dei contenuti.

Susanne Moraw ("Zweifelhafte Gestalt oder Inbegriff von 'virtus' und 'sapientia'. Odysseus in der lateinischen Spätantike", pp. 59-77) riassume l'episodio omerico di Odisseo e Polifemo per affrontarne poi la ricezione nell'iconografia tardoantica; l'episodio di Polifemo, diffuso soprattutto nell'iconografia dell'Occidente romano, viene trattato soprattutto nel momento dell'offerta del vino e in quello della fuga dalla grotta di Polifemo; si direbbe che la figura di Ulisse diventi simbolo di un uomo che se la sa cavare nelle difficoltà della vita, eroe in cui si può così identificare la classe media. I testi invece--Ps. Ausonio ("Periocha Odyssiae"), Boezio ("Consolatio philosophiae"), Fulgenzio ("Expositio Virgilianae continentiae") --si concentrano sul momento dell'accecamento del ciclope , letto come simbolo della "superbia", mentre Ulisse diviene simbolo dell'"ingenium". In conclusione l'autrice osserva brevemente la ricezione rinascimentale dell'eroe, nell'emblema "Iusta vindicta" di Andrea Alciati (1531) e negli affreschi col tema dell'Odissea nella Galleria di Fontainebleau.

Ursula Rombach ("Wissen und Imagination--Distanzierung und Aneignung. Transformationen des Amazonenbildes in der Alexanderdichtung des 12. Jahrhunderts", pp. 79-95) si concentra in particolare sull'"Alexandreis" di Walter de Châtillon (c. 1180) e sul "Roman d'Alixandre" di Alexandre de Paris per osservare secondo quali modalità venga delineata, all'interno delle narrazioni poetiche medioevali su Alessandro, l'immagine delle Amazzoni; la "barbara simplicitas" che le caratterizza nella prima opera, ancora legata al testo di Curzio Rufo, va man mano stemperandosi nella seconda, e le Amazzoni vanno acquistando i caratteri distintivi dell'ideale femminile cortese; si compie così per la Amazzoni, ma del resto per pressoché tutti i temi del romanzo d'Alessandro, una vera e propria trasformazione in senso cortese e cristiano del racconto pagano.

Thomas Haye ("Die Ästhetisierung der Zeitgeschichte aus dem Geist des antiken Epos. Begründungen lateinischer Panegyrik im frühen und hohen Mittelalter", pp. 97-109) si concentra sul tema dei panegirici medioevali, soffermandosi in particolare su Guillaume le Breton che scrive una "Philippis" agli inizi del Duecento dedicata al re Filippo II Augusto di Francia, e offrendo così una più generale riflessione sul rapporto medioevale con i modelli classici e tardoantichi. Secondo lo studioso, gli antichi--che avevano già riletto in chiave artistica la propria storia--diventano per gli scrittori medioevali vero e proprio modello legittimante; anche lo scrittore del Medioevo può ritenere dunque percorribile la strada di una rielaborazione poetica di vicende e personaggi moderni o contemporanei. La cultura classica offre in questo senso non solo, e non tanto, dei contenuti da adattare, quanto un possibile metodo di trasfigurazione estetica degli accadimenti storici.

La sezione dedicata all'età barocca viene aperta da Tatjana Bartsch ("Transformierte Transformation. Zur 'fortuna' der Antikenstudien Maarten van Heemskercks im 17. Jahrhundert", pp. 113-159), che affronta il tema della ricezione dei disegni eseguiti da Maarten van Heemskerck nel suo soggiorno romano (circa 1532-1537); come è noto i disegni dell'artista fiammingo a Roma riguardano complessi di sculture (a cominciare dalla celebri descrizioni delle collezioni, soprattutto cardinalizie, di antichità), singole statue, minutamente analizzate in tutto o in parte, come accade per i Dioscuri del Quirinale (fig. 1, p. 115), monumenti antichi come il cosidetto "Ianus Quadrifrons" (fig. 2, p. 116), infine opere del XV secolo o contemporanee. L'autrice parte con l'osservare come il primo a usare--con citazioni e adattamenti--i propri disegni romani sia stato proprio Heemskerck nelle opere eseguite ad Haarlem, quindi si sofferma sull'interessantissimo ex-libris del taccuino romano di Heemskercks (oggi separati l'uno dall'altro), riportandone immagine e testo (fig. 5, pp. 120-121).

Tra i proprietari del taccuino ci fu anche Cornelis van Haarlem: alcuni suoi dipinti a tema mitologico e a soggetto sacro (fig. 10, p. 126) dimostrano, secondo l'autrice, l'uso dei disegni di Heemskerck, tanto per quanto riguarda lo studio dell'antico (in particolare il Torso del Belvedere), quanto per quello di Michelangelo (Cappella Sistina). Anche Jacob Matham nelle sue "Antiquae aliquot elegantiae Romanae urbis omnibus artium studiosis utiles" (c. 1610) inserisce diverse sculture tratte dal libro di Heemskerck; ma se a Cornelis van Haarlem interessava soprattutto la resa dei corpi, Matham guardò maggiormente agli elementi decorativi di carattere antiquario. Pieter Saenredam venne in possesso del taccuino di Heemskerck nel 1639; da esso derivano i dipinti con vedute di Roma (figg. 20-21, pp. 139-141), città in cui il pittore del resto non andò mai; particolarmente interessante l'attribuzione a Saenredam di un disegno con una veduta della piazza del Laterano (Firenze, Museo Horne) e di un altro foglio con veduta del cantiere di San Pietro in collezione privata. Altrettanto suggestivo il parallelo che l'autrice propone tra l'impaginazione di alcuni disegni romani di Heemskerck e quella di alcuni disegni di Saenredam con interni di chiese olandesi. Infine Jan De Bisschop nei suoi "Signorum veterum icones" (1668-1669) e "Paradigmata graphices variorum artificum" (1671) inserisce statue antiche tratte dai disegni di Heemskerck accanto a opere di artisti moderni, in una prospettiva classicista che fa riferimento sostanzialmente al Rinascimento italiano.

Ludwig Braun ("'Fortia facta cano Lodoici'. Über die Heroisierung der Gegenwart durch das transformierte Epos der Antike im 17. Jahrhundert", p. 161-170) mostra come una serie di poemi seicenteschi prendano a modello l'epica antica nel tentativo di celebrare episodi e personaggi moderni; in particolare l'autore si occupa della "Rupellais" di Paul Thomas (1630), che narra la vicenda dell'assedio di La Rochelle, e la "Rhea Liberata" del gesuita Jean de Bussières (1655) che racconta gli scontri avvenuti sull'isola Ré, nei pressi della stessa località. Braun traccia più che convincenti paralleli tra la prima opera e passi dell'Eneide, tra la seconda opera e passi delle Metamorfosi di Ovidio, ma apre anche lo sguardo ad altre opere del pieno Seicento che rimodellano variamente l'epos virgiliano (e l'implicita celebrazione di Augusto) per celebrare grandi eroi cristiani, Costantino, Clodoveo, Carlo Martello, Goffredo di Buglione, san Luigi, Giovanna d'Arco, Skanderbegh.

Cornelia Wilde ("Nathaniel Ingelos 'Bentivolio and Urania' als philosophische 'romance'. Aspekte antiker Philosophien in christilich-neuplatonischer Erbauungsliteratur", p. 171-198) presenta la figura del teologo inglese Nathaniel Ingelo (1621-1683), che appartenne alla cerchia dei cd. "Cambridge Platonists", caratterizzata dalla ripresa della filosofia antica all'interno di problematiche religiose e morali. Il romanzo 'Bentivolio and Urania' apparve nel 1660 ed ebbe immediatamente un grande successo come prova di letteratura edificante cristiano-neoplatonica; può essere un esempio di questa prospettiva la premessa dell'opera, che sviluppa il tema della saggezza e della conoscenza di sé secondo il motto delfico. Il neoplatonismo cristiano diviene così una sorta di arma diretta contro l'epicureismo antico e lo scetticismo ateo moderno, mentre la complessità degli argomenti viene temperata proprio dall'impostazione narrativa: come una sorta di velo, il romanzo coprirà abbellendola la verità filosofica, ma nello stesso tempo la rivelerà e la renderà più abbordabile. Le avventure dei tre fratelli Bentivolio, Urania e Panareto si intrecciano dunque con quelle di eroi positivi (Alethion) e negativi (Antitheus), e sottintendono dunque verità teologico-filosofiche altrimenti difficilmente rappresentabili. I nomi dei protagonisti e dei luoghi fantastici sono ricavati manipolando termini greci, latini e italiani, ed è lo stesso autore a chiarire il loro significato allegorico: ci sono dunque Bentivolio (dal cognome italiano Bentivoglio, letteralmente "ti voglio bene") e Panareto ("del tutto virtuoso"); c'è un luogo che si chiama Vanasembla e un altro Piacenza, senza alcun riferimento alla omonima città italiana, ma a "Pleasure", il piacere là venerato come una divinità; e c'è Alethion, l'eroe che ha raggiunto "the Peace of Soul", in cui si incarnano e si saldano assieme i valori del cristianesimo e della filosofia antica.

La sezione dedicata all'epoca dello storicismo inizia con un importante saggio di Martin Dönike ("'Belehrende Unterhaltung': Altertumskundliches Wissen im antiquarisch-philologischen Roman", p. 201-237) sulla storia del romanzo storico; si comincia dal "Voyage du jeune Anacharsis" di Jean-Jacques Barthélemy (1788), in cui si narra il soggiorno in Grecia di un giovane scita per ventisette anni dal 363 al 337 a. C.; la seconda opera affrontata è quella di August Böttiger, "Sabina, oder Morgenszenen im Putzzimmer einer reichen Römerin" (1803), che prende spunto dal dipinto di Ercolano con la cosidetta "Vestizione della sacerdotessa" (fig. 3, p. 214), con l'obbiettivo di descrivere la vita privata dei Romani e di aiutare la comprensione degli autori antichi; la terza opera presa in esame è quella di François Mazois, "Le Palais de Scaurus ou description d'une maison romaine, fragment d'un voyage fait à Rome, vers la fin de la République par Mérovir, prince des Suèves" (1819); vi si immagina che l'architetto greco Crisippo mostri a un principe barbaro, Meroviro, il palazzo di Marco Emilio Scauro, magnificamente costruito e decorato (in riferimento a Plinio, 36, 2). Lo studioso mette in relazione queste opere con un romanzo come "The last days of Pompeii" di Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1834), scrittore che non a caso criticava gli eccessi di erudizione e pedanteria dei suoi predecessori, Barthélemy in particolare. Del resto il modello di Barthélemy era destinato a sopravvivere a lungo, ad esempio nelle opere di Wilhelm August Becker ("Gallus, oder, römische Scenen aus der Zeit Augusts: zur genaueren Kenntniss des römischen Privatlebens", 1838 e "Charicles: Bilder altgriechischer Sitte, zur genaueren Kenntniss des griechischen Privatlebens", 1840). Dönike ricorda opportunamente che Barthélemy, Mazois, Böttiger e Becker erano tutti professionisti, in particolare filologi e archeologi, e anche questo spiega, nelle loro opere, la complessa relazione tra fiction e note erudite, excursus e digressioni, in una tensione spesso irrisolta tra attenzione ai dati storici e abbandono agli slanci fantastici.

Charlotte Schreiter ("Bildhauerische Technik und die Wahrnehmung antiker Skulptur: Francesco Carradori Lehrbuch für Studenten der Bildhauerei von 1802", p. 239-265) affronta il tema della riproduzione della statuaria antica in età neoclassica e prende per questo in esame l'"Istruzione elementare per gli studiosi della scultura" (Firenze 1802) di Francesco Carradori, che era già stato restauratore a Villa Medici (1772-1785) e in questo stesso periodo copista dall'antico (alcune sue copie sono oggi a Palazzo Pitti); dal 1799 fu direttore dell'Accademia di Firenze, e anche questo spiega il taglio didattico dell'operetta (37 pp.), corredata da 17 tavole incise (l'articolo ne riproduce sei). Le tavole I e II dipendono dall'"Ecorché" di Jean-Antoine Houdon (1767) e, tramite questo, dall'Apollo del Belvedere; le altre tavole descrivono l'interno del laboratorio di scultura e si soffermano in particolare sui momenti della riproduzione di originali antichi, e sulle varie tecniche adottate per misurare i modelli ed eventualmente diminuirli o ingrandirli; Carradori si riannoda ai metodi già adottati nelle botteghe di scultori del Seicento e del Settecento, come quelli descritti anche nei "Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke (. . .)" di Winckelmann (1755) e in "Dell'arte di ben restaurare le antiche sculture" di Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (1768).

Il saggio di Adolf Heinrich Borbein ("Kunstgeschichte als ästhetisches Ereignis. Die Kunst der Antike in deutschsprachigen wissenschaftlichen Monographien für ein bürgerliches Publikum im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert", pp. 267-281) prende in considerazione il successo editoriale e di pubblico del "Grundriss der Kunstgeschichte" (1860, ma riedita ancora nel 1921) di Wilhelm Lübke e della "Geschichte der griechische Plastik" di Joh. Overbeck (1857 e riedita ancora nel 1893). Si tratta di opere indirizzate al pubblico colto (non necessariamente agli specialisti), ma anche agli stessi artisti, in cui la dimensione estetica--secondo la lezione di Hegel--serviva a far meglio abbracciare l'intera dinamica storica. Uno dei problemi che Borbein affronta è quello dell'uso delle immagini nei volumi di Lübke e Overbeck, ma anche nella "Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Griechen" (1824) di H. Meyer, nella "Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Alten (1833) di A. Hirt, nei "Meisterwerke der griechischen Plastik" (1893) di Adolf Furtwängler, in "Die Kunst der Griechen" di A. von Salis (1919), fino a "Die Kunst der Antike (Hellas und Rom)" (1927) di G. Rodenwaldt, e, ancora, in altre monografie scientifiche di lingua tedesca. Lo studioso osserva dunque le illustrazioni di questi volumi sia sotto il profilo della qualità e delle tecniche adottate (il disegno, l'incisione, la fotografia), sia, soprattutto, sotto il profilo del rapporto numerico tra documentazione iconografica e pagine del testo; il diverso rapporto tra l'una e le altre riflette i mutamenti della storiografia artistica tra XVIII e XX secolo, in particolare nel progressivo ribilanciamento tra la analisi storica e analisi estetica.

Achim Aurnhammer (Georg Ebers' 'Kleopatra': Kompromiss zwischen Gelehrsamkeit und Popularität, p. 283-306) si concentra sulla figura dell'egittologo Georg Ebers, allievo di Johann Gustav Droysen, che scrisse una ventina di romanzi storici, perlopiù ambientati in Egitto; tra essi "Kleopatra. Historischer Roman" (1894) ebbe un successo notevole in Germania, ma, come dimostrano diverse traduzioni, anche in altri paesi. Aurnhammer segue Ebers nel suo profilo della figura di Cleopatra attraverso i vari capitoli: il procedimento è quello di combinare fonti letterarie (in particolare Strabone per la topografia dell'antica Alessandria e Plutarco nella vita di Antonio) e materiali archeologici; in appendice vengono infatti riportate quattro lettere a Ebers dell'amico Paul Walther da Alessandria (1892), sulla scoperta di due statue che si presumeva raffigurassero appunto Cleopatra e Marco Antonio. A commento dell'articolo l'autore pubblica incisioni relative alla storia di Cleopatra comparse in "Ägypten in Wort und Bild" dello stesso Ebers, non a caso in relazione con Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

L'ultima sezione del volume si propone di esaminare alcuni aspetti della ricezione e dell'uso dell'antico nella contemporaneità. Il saggio di Marcus Junkelmann ("Parade und Triumphzug im Monumentalfilm", p. 309-324) studia l'interpretazione e la resa delle parate trionfali dell'antica Roma nel cinema; dopo aver giustamente rilevato le affinità esistenti tra la pittura a tema storico della fine del XIX secolo e i primi film a soggetto storico, l'autore fa osservare le numerose improprietà nelle ricostruzioni del trionfo antico e l'influenza che ebbero su queste produzioni cinematografiche il modello delle parate militari del Fascismo e del Nazismo, ma anche un'opera come "Triumph des Willens" (1934) di Leni Riefenstahl. I film su cui Junkelmann maggiormente si sofferma sono "Quo vadis?" di M. LeRoy (1951), "Ben-Hur" di W. Wylers (1959), "The Fall of the Roman Empire" di A. Mann (1964), "Gladiator" di R. Scott (2000), ma anche la serie televisiva "Rome" di A. Taylor (2005).

"Catilina's Riddle" di Steven Saylor (1993) e "Pompeii" di Robert Harris (2003) sono i due romanzi--ambientati appunto nel 63 a. C. e nel 79 d. C.--al centro del saggio di Craig Williams ("Rom in der Postmoderne. Darstellungen der Antike in zwei historischen Romanen", pp. 325-344); una volta tracciate le caratteristiche del romanzo storico postmoderno, l'autore sintetizza la trama dei due libri; mentre nel XIX secolo uno dei temi preferiti era quello della vittoria del cristianesimo sul paganesimo, i temi centrali sembrano ora quelli della schiavitù (anche con riprese puntuali di fonti antiche come Catone, Agr. 2.7), della sessualità (in particolare l'omosessualità e la prostituzione), della tecnica (ad es. gli acquedotti in "Pompeii", il mulino in "Catilina's Riddle"); notevole nel romanzo di Harris la descrizione dell'eruzione del Vesuvio tanto dal punto di vista dei protagonisti antichi, quanto da quello della scienza odierna, e il conseguente contrasto stilistico e lessicale. Nello stesso libro è interessante notare come gli elementi paratestuali orientino il lettore verso il tema della decadenza, della catastrofe imminente, della corruzione, del resto abituali quando si parla di Roma nella cultura popolare, sollecitando, ad es., il parallelo Pompei-11 settembre 2001. Aspetti interessanti del saggio sono l'indagine sull'uso dei testi antichi (ad es. il discorso di Catilina in Sallustio) e l'attenzione al gioco di specchi tra fiction e storia, come quando il "Satyricon" di Petronio viene imitato e, nello stesso tempo, citato come tale a proposito della Cena Trimalchionis.

Matthias Dreyer ("Archiv und Kollektiv. Griechischen Tragödien als chorisches Theater, Einar Schleef, Theatercombinat und Theodoros Terzopoulos", pp. 345-367) ripercorre rapidamente la storia delle rappresentazioni della tragedia greca dagli anni '70 in poi (ad es. Peter Stein, Christoph Nel. . .) rimarcando la continua tensione tra rispetto della dimensione storica e desiderio di attualizzazione. L'autore esamina in particolare il ruolo del coro della tragedia greca come problema nel teatro del Novecento, in quanto figura posta ai margini tra lo spazio del palcoscenico e quello degli spettatori, e in quanto tale possibile tramite tra il processo drammatico e il pubblico. A questo scopo Dreyer affronta "Mütter" di Einar Schleef (Frankfurt 1986)--dai "Sette contro Tebe" di Eschilo e dalle "Supplici" di Euripide--ricordando la scelta registica del lunghissimo lamento del coro e il rapporto che si venne così a instaurare tra coro e spettatori. Si descrive quindi la messa in scena dei "Persiani" di Eschilo (Genf, 2006) da parte del gruppo "Theatercombinat", con un coro formato da un gran numero di cittadini di Genf, nell'intento di riprodurre proprio i meccanismi teatrali dell'antica Atene e, allo stesso tempo, rendere vivo e presente il testo antico. L'ultima rappresentazione studiata è quella di "Aiace" di Theodoros Terzopoulos (2006), tratto da Sofocle.

Il volume si conclude con un profilo biografico degli autori, con un indice dei nomi (non indenne da qualche imprecisione, ad es. Andrea Mantegna e Benedetto Antelami indicizzati secondo il nome di battesimo) e con un indice delle cose notevoli.

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