Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Ruth Scodel and Anja Bettenworth, Whither Quo Vadis?: Sienkiewicz's Novel in Film and Television. Chichester/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008. Pp. x, 292. ISBN 9781405183857. $100.00.
Reviewed by Simon Goldhill, King's College, Cambridge (sdg1001@cam.ac.uk)

It is a remarkable fact that there were more than 200 novels in English about the ancient world published in the eighty years from Bulwer-Lytton's Last Days of Pompeii of 1838 to the end of the First World War. The vast majority of these were focused on religion -- the development of Christianity, the destruction of the Temple, the end of Druids. Lew Wallace's Ben Hur -- subtitled "A Story of the Christ"-- was the best-selling novel in America until Gone with the Wind, and as a play and film has gone on to define the genre. There were, however, a string of best-sellers now less well-known, as well as some frankly terrible books, where cruel pagans are instantly converted to the new religion by a plucky Christian's honest face and brave resistance to torture. This genre of novels was part of the battle for hearts and minds in Victorian Britain, where religion was debated with an intensity and earnestness unparalleled since the Reformation. Catholics and Protestants (and many other groups) clashed specifically over the early Church and its significance for modern religion, and these historical novels were a prime means of spreading a specific religious agenda about history and its role in the present.

Henryk Sienkiewicz published Quo Vadis? in Polish in serial form in 1895, and shortly afterwards the novel appeared. It tells an epic story of the early Christians and their persecution by Nero. Its first English translation was as soon as 1897, and it has never been out of print since (with a new translation as recently as 1993). In 1905, Sienkiewicz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his contribution to epic writing, and, as the award speech emphasized, his international fame rested on Quo Vadis?, which had already been translated into 30 languages, and sold more than 2,000,000 copies in Germany and Poland alone, as well as 800,000 in a single year in the U.S.A. It was a book which was regarded as sufficiently serious to lead to the Nobel Prize, but sufficiently popular to be a household name the world over.

In many ways, Quo Vadis? is a perfect example of the genre of the classical historical novel. It is obsessed with scholarship about the ancient world and about Christianity, with lengthy excurses on historical and archaeological details. It is peopled with characters from history interlaced with fictional figures -- one of the most distinctive features of what Roland Barthes called "the reality effect" of the nineteenth-century novel. It fleshes out characters who are familiar to the classically trained reader, but who are often only briefly mentioned in classical sources: so one of its heroes is Petronius, the "arbiter elegentiarum" of Nero's intimate circle and probable author of the Satyricon. It has an easy anti-Semitism, and a passionate support for the early Christians. Unlike most novels of this genre written in English, however, the author is Catholic rather than Protestant; and, although by the end of the nineteenth century, the fierceness of the anti-Catholic (and pro-Catholic) rhetoric of earlier novels had been tempered, there is a clear Catholic agenda to the novel's portrayal of Peter and Paul.

The novel Quo Vadis? is, I suspect, not as widely known today, barely read even by classical students, and it may even be the case that the majority of our own graduate students would not be able to recognize the source and significance of the quotation enshrined in the title. This, despite the fact that the book has had a remarkable after-life in the world of film and television. There have been five full-scale adaptations for screen. The first was a silent Italian version made in 1912 by Guazonni; the most recent, a lavish Polish production issued in 2001 -- the most expensive Polish film ever made. The 1925 Italian film (started by d'Annunzio but finished by a German team) is famous for the performance of Nero by Emil Jannings, a landmark in the iconography of the mad emperor. The 1951 Hollywood extravaganza is best remembered for Peter Ustinov's Nero, but, with Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr as stars, it is also highly significant as the first major Hollywood epic after the Second World War. In 1985 there was also a miniseries for Italian T.V. As with Ben Hur, the novel has been overtaken by its screen adaptations, with the films of ancient epics from the 1950s in turn overtaken in the popular imagination by more recent productions such as "Gladiator" and "Troy". Quo Vadis? is a wonderful place to explore not just the reception of classical sources across a century of adaptation, but also the relation of classics and popular culture.

Ruth Scodel, well-known for her studies of Homeric poetry, and Anja Bettenworth, who teaches Latin at Münster, and also works on ancient epic, have set out to investigate these five filmic adaptations of Quo Vadis? in their nicely titled study Whither Quo Vadis?. They offer a very brief and rather thin introduction on the theoretical issue of how novels are transformed into films, along with an equally brief and rather thin discussion of Sienkiewicz's book. The focus of their book, however, is firmly on the films and on how they respond to the novel. There are five central chapters. The first looks at how the narrative of the novel is adapted in the five versions. This is a narratologically informed study of what scenes are included or excluded, of who focalizes the narrative, and of how the city appears within the films. The second chapter looks at gender and ethnicity. In Quo Vadis?, the central love story is between a Roman general and a Christian girl called Lygia, who comes from a region now in Poland and who escapes from any suggestion of barbarian values by quoting Homer, becoming Christian, and mixing purity and beauty in full confirmation of the stereotypes of Victorian heroism. Sienkiewicz was a Polish nationalist, and his ideological commitments are not hard to decipher. The secondary love story is between Petronius and his slave Eunice. Love across the races, across the classes, and across religions, is inevitably differently understood and differently represented across the twentieth century, where race, class, and religion have provided the frameworks for most of the conflicts that have scarred the era. Epic is always about the present understanding of nation, power and history, and the ancient world provides a particularly layered and engaging alibi for debating such issues.

The third chapter, thus, turns to political institutions and the political subtexts of the five different adaptations. There are some particularly interesting suggestions about the connections between Italian politics and the 1985 Italian miniseries, which also helps explain the surprisingly free adaptation of the book. The fourth chapter looks at the people of Rome: how are the masses depicted? This is a question not just of a Marxist bent, but also and more precisely of how any Marxist understanding relates to the Christian obsession with the crowd as the baying voyeurs of martyrdom and the setting for the greatest of conversion stories. The final discussion focuses on religion and religious authority, perhaps the most pressing of the intellectual agendas of the novel -- but which takes on a quite different set of colours as the twentieth century pursues its less earnest engagement with Christianity, at least in popular art.

There is much to admire in this book. It has a clear focus and a good set of questions. It knows its way round the five films and around the classical sources, and is prepared to look at broader issues in relation to the close reading of the films. It does not bang its own drum loudly, but it should be emphasized how few books do succeed in bringing together a detailed appreciation of films as artistically constructed narratives with wider questions of politics and history, especially across such a time frame. There is a huge advantage to being able to see how a single novel is re-worked across a range of contexts: different countries, histories, languages, and ideological frameworks. As such, it makes a genuine contribution to reception studies, and will be used as such, as well as in the more narrowly circumscribed world of film studies.

It would have been more intellectually persuasive if the conclusions of the chapters had been more developed: they tend to fizzle out with the claim that different films produce different Romes, a claim which is of no great surprise and of little analytical purchase. It also desperately needs a broader sense of how each film was received in its own cultural context. There are barely any contemporary reviews or other material discussed, and what there is, is relegated to footnotes. How a film means needs a broader gaze than this book allows. Indeed, my main concern was precisely about what sort of reception studies this book offers. For each of the films is read very much as if it were engaging with previous films and with Sienkweciz's book in an enclosed "literary" world. That is, the formal analyses of what scenes are included or excluded, of how the crowd is represented, who focalizes the scene and so forth, are conducted as formal analyses. Like discussing Apollonius of Rhodes re-working a Homeric type scene. There is much less of an attempt to appreciate any film as an event: who saw it, who said what about it when, how it entered and contributed to a cultural debate. This strategy starts from the beginning of the study: there is no awareness of how Sienkiewicz is contributing to and formed by the genre in which he is writing. He is influenced by Ben Hur, the authors correctly note, but they do not explore what this influence is, or the impact of other novels of the genre, or why this book was so successful as a novel: who it spoke to and how. Each film takes place too within a rich cultural context which needs exploring, with some solid archival history -- as Maria Wyke, for example, has looked in detail at how films about Caesar are constructed as events -- with marketing, reviews, intellectual discussions, all playing a role. There is simply not enough cultural history here to make sense of the cultural event of a film. It leaves us with too thin a historical sense of each film.

Scodel and Bettenworth, as one might expect from their distinguished work in classics, do not utilize the most sophisticated (and sometimes highly pretentious) theoretical work on film; nor are they trained in technical analysis of the production of visual images. They do well here what they do well elsewhere: a careful and largely intelligent analysis of how a film's narrative reworks both earlier film narratives, and also the book from which they all are derived -- which in turn re-works a set of classical sources into a fictional account. It is no straightforward task to tease out these layers of adaptation, and there is much to enjoy here in such analysis. What is missing finally, however, from their formal approach is the cultural history which explains why film matters as a cultural event. And this is a big question for contemporary reception studies: how should reception studies and cultural history interact? (read complete article)


Lucia Amalia Scatozza Höricht, Pithecusa: materiali votivi da Monte Vico e dall'area di Santa Restituta. Corpus delle stipi votive in Italia. XX. Regio I; 3. Roma: Giorgio Bretschneider, 2007. Pp. 116; xxviii p. of plates. ISBN 9788876892257. €95.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Ingrid Edlund-Berry, The University of Texas at Austin (iemeb@mail.utexas.edu)

With each new volume in the invaluable series Corpus delle stipi votive in Italia we recognize the limitations of our overall knowledge of votives in Italy. But, at the same time, each volume provides the important additional pieces in the puzzle which gradually allow students and scholars to evaluate the role of votive offerings as a main, and sometimes the only, evidence for many aspects of ancient religion.

The material presented by L.A. Scatozza Höricht (henceforth S.H.) comes from the peninsula of Monte Vico and from the area of the Basilica di Santa Restituta at Lacco Ameno on the island of Ischia (Pithecusa). Because of the complicated and long-term excavations at Ischia, the terracottas form only one part of the vast body of votive material from the island and we must recognize that we are not dealing with pristine 'votive deposits' in the traditional sense.

The format of the catalogue of objects follows that of the corpus in general. The first category (A) consists of female busts, one from Monte Vico, Scarico Gosetti, and the other from S. Restituta, for which parallels come from Sicily (Morgantina) but also from S. Aniello a Caponapoli. The second category (B) contains female heads, of which there is one example from S. Restituta. Again, parallels come from Sicily, but also from mainland Greece (Corinth, Delphi), and from a sanctuary at Ariccia, south of Rome.

Category C, masks, includes a fragment of a theatrical mask of a type known from both Magna Graecia and Sicily. Category D, statues, includes fragments of three types, a standing Aphrodite, a peplophoros, and a nude male, and category E lists fragments of uncertain attribution.

Category F contains the largest group of votive terracottas presented in this volume. These are seated and standing females, some of the Tanagra type, a fragmentary doll, standing Eros figures, heads, protomes or masks, animals (standing bull), and fruits (for example, pomegranates).

Votive pottery (category G) is sparse (a miniature thymiaterion and two small plates with reclining figures modeled by hand). Small altars (category H) are represented by one well-preserved example with the bust of Athena modeled on the front, and one small fragment. Category I (reliefs) includes a fragmentary plaque of a horse and rider of a type known from Syracuse representing one of the Dioscuri twins.

Category L (moulds/matrices) includes four fragments of a female head, two masks, and a Tanagra statuette. The last category (M, varia) contains an Archaic female head with a polos, interpreted as a patrix or positive original from which a matrix or negative mould was made, a conical stamp with the head of Athena, and a small female head.

As seen in the brief listing above, the votive material from Monte Vico and S. Restituta at Pithecusa is small in quantity and the objects are often fragmentary and, at first glance, rather insignificant. But, thanks to the expertise of the author, the votives are placed in a larger archaeological and historical context in separate chapters of the book. S.H. first discusses the topography of Monte Vico and emphasizes the long history of the promontory, as indicated by pottery and other finds. According to the late Giorgio Buchner, the nestor of Pithecusan archaeology, the peninsula contained a sacred area dating from the 8th c. B.C., for which the best evidence is a votive model of a house or temple from the Gosetti votive deposit, illustrated here as pl. V. Fragments of architectural terracottas with palmette designs further indicate the presence of a temple in the Archaic period. Blocks of tufa and later architectural terracottas (disk akroterion, Gorgon antefix) suggest continued cultic activity, perhaps centered around Athena (antefix with head of Athena pl. XXVI).

The following chapter summarizes the cults of Pithecusa, ranging from Apollo in his function as healer, Medicus, and in the company of Nymphs, to Hera, Herakles, Athena, and Dionysos. The evidence for the cults is varied, and S.H. emphasizes the connection between Pithecusa and its origin, the island of Euboea in mainland Greece, as well as its close contacts with Cumae and the cities of Campania.

S.H. further reviews the evidence for the cult(s) at Monte Vico, and emphasizes the scarcity of clear-cut evidence. A female figure shown on the votive temple/house model from the Gosetti deposit, mentioned above, suggests that the cult centered around a female deity, as do the votive terracottas listed in the catalogue. Objects such as loom weights found at Monte Vico and in the area of the kilns at S. Restituta could apply to the cult of Hera or Athena Ergane, and S.H. favors the cult of Athena as a dominant one on Monte Vico but leaves the question open, awaiting more evidence or new interpretations of the material.

Evidence of terracotta production comes from the kilns and workshops found at S. Restituta (pl. II), and S.H. postulates that this area was used for production of votive objects as well as tiles and architectural terracottas. As for the stylistic and cultural parallels for the votive material discussed in this volume, S.H. highlights connections with Cumae on the mainland for the Archaic period, Naples and other sites in Campania for the 5th and 4th c. B.C., as well as Sicily (Morgantina, Syracuse). The possible importance of Pithecusa as a place of production and distribution is indicated in a clay analysis (presented as an appendix), comparing antefixes from Pithecusa with ones from Pompeii and suggesting Pithecusa as the place of production for both sites.

S.H. concludes that in spite of the fragmentary material it is possible to emphasize Pithecusa's historical and cultural connections with Sicily and Campania and that the island was also part of the Hellenistic globalization which ranged from Asia Minor to mainland Greece to Italy. Finally, in the 1st c. B.C. Monte Vico ceased to exist as a place of terracotta production and was submerged into the Roman occupation of Pithecusa.

This volume forms an important addition to the corpus of votive terracottas. It illustrates how a careful analysis can help place a few fragmentary pieces into a much larger context. Through S.H.'s narrative the reader is able follow the later history of the island of Pithecusa (Ischia) through the end of the Republic, and the discussion of the cults and iconography highlights Pithecusa's place within Italy and the Mediterranean. Detailed footnotes refer the reader to previous scholarship and numerous illustrations provide tools for comparisons with votives from other sites. (read complete article)


Johannes Kramer, Vulgärlateinische Alltagsdokumente auf Papyri, Ostraka, Täfelchen und Inschriften. Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete. Beiheft; 23. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2007. Pp. 182. ISBN 9783110202243. $109.00.
Reviewed by Kalle Korhonen, University of Helsinki (kalle.korhonen@helsinki.fi)

Johannes Kramer's (= K.) work is a new edition of 12 ancient documents in Latin, with Greek elements in a few of them. The documents have been chosen because they all illustrate, on the one hand, everyday life in antiquity, and on the other, Vulgar Latin. They include letters, a list of soldiers, funerary inscriptions and graffiti, the purchase document of a slave, the translation of a Greek fable, and two glossaries. The collection is mainly intended for the purposes of instruction, because, as Kramer puts it, "die meisten Studierenden des Lateinischen oder der Romanistik erfahren am Anfang des 21. Jahrhunderts weit weniger über das Vulgärlateinische, als Romanisten oder Latinisten zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts vermittelt wurde" (p. 14). This is not necessarily an exaggeration. As a collection of teaching materials, the work is useful, and it will most likely be used in courses which cover the history of Latin, Vulgar Latin, or variation and change in Latin, although the relatively high price may prevent students from acquiring it.

But what is Vulgar Latin? K.'s definition of it runs as follows: "die ... schriftsprachenfernen Varianten der lateinischen Umgangssprache, also die Varianten, die nur in geringem Umfang von schulischer Bildung und Anlehnung an literarische Muster geprägt sind" (p. 13). One could obviously point out that these are all written documents, so the language used in them must be a form of written language. K.'s framework is, unfortunately, somewhat primitive: all ancient Latin is divided in two, Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin; the vulgar characteristics of the documents are then pointed out. However, of the documents discussed in the book, some can be labelled as colloquial, whereas others were produced by people who had learned Latin as a second language. Furthermore, they belong to different genres: included are letters, street graffiti (from different genres), lists, even funerary inscriptions. Putting them all in the category of "Vulgar", following the scholarly tradition of the 20th century, is not very useful for intelligent students, but these documents should rather be presented as evidence of the many registers and codes in the history of Latin.1 K. even narrates the history of Vulgar Latin (Einleitung, Ch. 3) divided into phases such as prisca Latinitas, "frührepublikanisches Vulgärlatein", "spätrepublikanisches Vulgärlatein", etc.2 The student is left with one of the following false impressions: either 1) morphology and syntax (and what about pragmatics?) are not important in the study of the phenomena filed under "Vulgar Latin", or 2) morphology and syntax in other registers of Latin differ very little from Classical Latin. Instead of simple dichotomies, 21st-century students need more refined analyses.

This might also have been a good place to teach currently used terms to students, who are now left with terms such as Betazismus, s impurum, etc.3 In all, the introduction cannot be recommended to students; they should rather consult the recent Blackwell History of the Latin Language, by Geoffrey Horrocks and James Clackson (2007), which appeared after the book went to press (see now the review in BMCR.).

As is suitable for a volume appearing in the prestigious series Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete, the texts of the documents are not simply reprinted from previous editions. Instead, the author, who is well-known for his editions of bilingual glossaries and other texts which illustrate ancient bilingualism, puts forward some new readings, which are conveniently listed on p. 12. In all, the readings seem very accurate. The volume does not contain photographs, but this is not a problem, because good line drawings are included instead.

The commentaries are thorough and follow the tradition of klassische Philologie. They contain references to recent scholarly works, often with long quotations. The commentaries suffer to some extent from the limitations of K.'s framework: all phenomena are classified either as literary, which makes all the explanations unnecessary, or as "vulgärsprachlich" / "umgangssprachlich" / "volkssprachlich" / "der gesprochenen Sprache".4 Furthermore, in any edition of ancient documents, the commentary should take into consideration the genre of the text, and give the reader an overview of the features which characterize the genre.

The bibliographies are very useful, especially as far as older scholarship is concerned. In order to facilitate access for beginners, few abbreviations are used, which is good. In the discussions on onomastics, one misses references to the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names and to Heikki Solin's Die griechischen Personennamen in Rom (1982, 2003), or to recent scholarship on Latin cognomina. (Solin's Die stadtrömischen Sklavennamen (1996) is occasionally referred to.) Fortunately, K. devotes some space to discussing non-Latin names.5

Now, some detailed comments and corrections.

In the introductory section, the figures on p. 26 are misleading, because both the traditional notation of vowel lengths (a with macron, a with breve, etc.) and the IPA phonetic alphabet ([a:], [a], etc.) are used. The figures give the impression that a with breve became a short back a, and a with macron became a long front a, which both then fused into [a]. The upmost line of arrows should be removed. Moreover, it seems unlikely that the phonetic quality of the short /a/ in Latin was more commonly short back a than [a]. -- K. does not always use a different notation for letters, phonemes and sounds, which makes him list c among the word-final consonants in Latin (p. 34): evidently /k/ is meant, not /c/. -- At times, no proper distinction is made between writing and pronunciation, which leads, e.g., to the following statement: "Zuweilen wurden jedoch auch normale lateinische Wörter hyperkorrekt mit y statt i gesprochen: crysta statt crista" (p. 35). We cannot know with certainty how the writer in this case pronounced the word: crysta could be a hypercorrect written form (cf. K.'s comment on the same spelling on p. 169). -- On p. 32, there are no references to the labiovelar [kw] which probably existed as a phoneme in Latin.6

In document No. 1, no attention is given to the genre of the text (a letter), which leads to the generalization "in augusteischer Zeit der Abstand zwischen die Literatursprache und einer Sprachform, mit der sich einfache Leute wie etwa Freigelassene im Militärdienst identifizieren konnten, nicht allzu gross war". In my view, time is not the only parameter here, but also the familiarity of the writer with contemporary literature. -- On the graphic form conlibertus, K. says: "... die konsonantische Assimilation in der Umgangssprache unbeliebt ist, sobald sie die semantisch wichtige Zusammensetzung eines Wortes verdunkelt". Can we conclude in the case of con/collibertus: "assimilation in Classical - no assimilation in Vulgar"? I think we cannot.

Whoever teaches text No. 2 (Tab. Vindol. II 310) should also consult Geoffrey Horrocks' recent commentary, in his and J. Clackson's work cited above, 244-49. K.'s suggestion on line 18, cumm[odo] seems a plausible solution for a difficult problem. The URL address given on p. 47 does not work. -- In No. 4, "die Zahlen sind umgangssprachlich", according to K. (p. 77). The forms are dua, septe, noue, and naginta". One should mention at least one surviving descendant of the form naginta, if there are any, before claiming that it is a form of spoken language, rather than a non-standard spelling (on p. 81, K. calls the form an "apokopierte Kurzform"). -- Text 5: On line 4, the gentilicium is most likely the common Caerellius, rather than the rare Cerelleus proposed by K. -- Line 31: For LOCE, after Licin(i-), a better explanation should be sought than Loccei(-): it could be a Greek name beginning with Loch-, or another non-Latin name. -- Line 39: K. interprets POMPEIEPANE as Pompeii Epane, with a cognomen derived from ἐπάνω. But such a cognomen seems unlikely; EPANE could in this case even stand for ἐπιφάνης. -- The two glossaries, nos. 11 and 12, are an important and interesting part of the work.

To conclude, it is necessary to point out that more collections of this kind would be needed for instruction purposes, as well as a new handbook on variation and change in ancient Latin.


1. See, e.g., the lucid discussion of the issue by Paolo Poccetti, in P. Poccetti - D. Poli - C. Santini, Una storia della lingua latina, Roma 1999, 22-27.

2. There are no references to Hannah Rosén's excellent Latine loqui. Trends and Directions in the Crystallization of Classical Latin, from 1999, or to David Langslow's recent work on technical Latin prose. K.'s discussion of the linguistic characteristics of "Vulgar Latin" is what one might have expected half a century ago: it focuses on phonology (12 of the 14 pages) and the few lines on syntax on p. 36 are unhelpful.

3. Some terms seem contradictory to the reader: the form pos (for post) is interpreted both as "eine vulgäre Kurzform" (p. 34) and "die geläufige unbetonte Form" (p. 70), both with reference to the same document. In such cases, the explanations should have been made more clear.

4. These concepts are synonymous. Still, when discussing nos. 5 and 10, K. quotes at length J. N. Adams' plausible analyses of these documents as written by persons who learned Latin as their second language.

5. Finally, a small detail: why is Veikko Väänänen's Introduction au latin vulgaire cited in the Spanish translation from 1995? The work was written in French, and the last edition updated by Väänänen (who died in 1997) appeared in French in 1981.

6. P. Baldi, The Foundations of Latin, Berlin - New York 2002, 277-78, 291. (read complete article)

Monday, March 30, 2009


Chiara Robbiano, Becoming Being: On Parmenides' Transformative Philosophy. International Pre-Platonic Studies; v. 5. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag, 2006. Pp. 240. ISBN 9783896653833. €54.00.
Reviewed by Shaul Tor, St. John's College, Cambridge University (st354@cam.ac.uk)

Hailed by A.A. Long as "a full scale paradigm shift"1 in Parmenidean scholarship, R(obbiano)'s provocative monograph displays an exceptionally original methodology, resulting in some radically innovative if, I believe, fundamentally problematic theses. Rather than simply extrapolating from the poem a set of epistemological and ontological propositions, R. approaches the text from a variety of literary, rhetorical and dialectical perspectives, and finds in it a systematic heuristic guide designed to enable and help the audience to develop the unfamiliar categories and mental attitudes they would require in order to achieve an understanding of Parmenides' truth. This understanding, moreover, consists, not merely in the discursive acceptance of certain doctrines, but in a spiritual or mental transformation, culminating in the genuine rejection, and consequent elimination, of the distinction between the human knowing subject and Being as the object of knowledge. "The unique Being is what one can grasp, understand and be (at least with one's mind) if one learns a certain way of looking at reality" (p.208). Although, as I shall argue below, central aspects of R.'s elaboration of this thesis involve various difficulties, her insightful, lucid, scholarly and suggestive discussions will reward close study not only for Parmenidean experts and specialists in other areas of ancient philosophy, but also for classicists of all disciplinary persuasions, non-classicists interested in Parmenides or ancient philosophy and students of comparative literature or the ancient literature of other cultures (the volume includes a text and translation of the poem).

What follows will be necessarily selective and so partial. After offering an overview of the various chapters, I will focus in more detail on some of what struck me as the more problematic aspects of R.'s monograph.

In the first, introductory chapter (pp.9-34), R. elucidates the distinctiveness of her project by identifying both its affinities with and its divergences from previous scholarship. Developing Long (1996), she challenges the old prejudice that only with Socrates did philosophy begin to concern itself with the human observer,2 positing that the unity of Parmenides' poem consists, not in a particular message, but in the project of guiding the audience towards a certain transformation. Perhaps most significantly, R. displaces traditional exegetic norms by adopting, as the criterion of successful interpretations, the putative reactions of the audience of Parmenides' poem. Thus, rather than delimiting the text to a single construal, R. strives to recover as many as possible of the frames of reference that the poem could have evoked for its contemporary hermeneutic audience. Drawing on Iser's notion of 'the implied reader', R. aims "to reconstruct the audience as it is constructed by the text" (p.28), positing as her yardstick ideally collaborative and well-informed addressees. In the second chapter (pp.35-60), R. explores the frames and expectations raised by the generic affiliations of Parmenides' epic, hexametric poem with the verses of Homer, Hesiod and Xenophanes, such as the expectation for a truthful, authoritative and potentially iconoclastic didactic treatment of matters of great importance. She analyses both the fulfilments and the frustrations of these expectations in Parmenides' poem, advancing, for instance, the interesting suggestion that Parmenides is revolutionary in claiming to enable his addressees to make themselves knowledgeable.3

The third chapter (pp.61-88) focuses on the rhetorical strategies by which the protagonist of the poem, who focalises the journey in a first-person narrative, is offered to the audience as a model to emulate. R. helpfully demonstrates that chrê and its cognates delineate what behaviour is possible and appropriate for a given kind of agent: by receiving him as she does, the goddess intimates why the traveller, and so the audience, are required to become knowledgeable concerning both the truth and mortal opinions. In the fourth chapter (pp.89-120), R. turns to strategies of negative persuasion. The confused and indecisive mortals who wander along the wrong-ways serve as anti-models dissuading the audience from adopting these ways, while the argumentation of B8 undermines traditional explanatory methods such as cosmogonies and theories of change.4

In chapter five (pp.121-146), R. analyses the imagery of movement constructed throughout the poem as a means of helping mortals envisage their own approach to Being. I found the claim that all the various kinds of motion in the poem systematically reflect the nature of the knower's approach to Being the least convincing of R.'s proposals. Since, on R.'s own account, the poem develops rather diverse images of motion, the audience would seem to be presented with confusingly mixed messages: the motion of the journey is linear, but also circular, and, ultimately, one realises that the journey involved no movement at all. In chapter six (pp.147-176), perhaps the most successful in the book, R. demonstrates how, throughout the poem, images of opposition and division, such as the division between life and death, are overcome and replaced by those of unity. Dikê, rather than fulfilling its traditional role of maintaining the balance of the whole by preserving the boundaries that separate its constituent parts, undoes such boundaries, sanctioning, for instance, the presence of a living mortal in Hades. Dikê, Anankê and Moira, acting on both Being and the traveller, protect the integrity of Being with an external boundary rather than internal ones. Such imagery fosters the construal of a homogeneous unity that includes both the knowing mind and the Being it knows.5

In the seventh chapter (pp.177-199), R. addresses the perennial question of the relation between the two parts of Parmenides' poem. She interprets the Doxai as the untrue, untrustworthy but best possible account of the objects of their inquiry (such as change and differentiation). Since both involve Not-Being, the Doxai are themselves appropriate to these objects of inquiry: the admission of opposites (each being what the other is not) renders the Doxai both untrustworthy and able to account usefully for certain aspects of our perceptual experience that the way of truth could never accommodate. The book closes with a helpful concluding section, offering a synoptic view of R.'s approach and findings (pp.201-211).

The most daring and innovative result of R.'s methodology is no doubt her notion of 'focalised monism'.6 Simply put, R. denies that the Way of Truth expresses an ontology. Rather than teaching his audience that Being is, say, immobile and ungenerated without further qualification, Parmenides teaches his audience how to adopt a particular perspective from which Being is immobile and ungenerated. The grounds for the rejection of theories of change and differentiation, for instance, is that such theories could never lead to certain, trustworthy results: they invariably involve what-is-not, which one cannot recognise oneself and about which one cannot give clear indications to others. However, this epistemic inability "does not say anything about the ontological status of what-is-not as such." (p.111). Without assuming the non-existence of what-is-not, the arguments in B8 express rather a program of research: "an assignment for the mind, not a characteristic of reality tout court" (p.117). Unifying oneself with Being depends on successfully adopting the perspective from which Being is a unified whole: "[m]onism becomes, on this reading, what one can see if one looks in a certain way: one can learn to see everything as a unity, if one looks from a certain perspective" (p.129). In this manner, R. claims to have dispelled the notorious paradoxes of monism: the dialogic setting, involving both speaker and addressee, no longer implies a duality at odds with the monism advocated in the course of this conversation, nor does the possibility of mortal error conflict with the identity of Being and (self-reflective) cognition (p.129).

This bold interpretation runs into several difficulties. Firstly, R., following recent scholarly consensus, contends convincingly that we would be wrong to isolate existential, predicative and veridical uses of 'is'. All three senses are inextricably operative in Parmenides' use of the verb (p.80). By analogy, however, the statement that 'nothing is not' (B6.2) signifies, inter alia, the non-existence of 'nothing' or 'what-is-not', and not merely that it is "not sensible to look for something that now is not." (p.110). Indeed, R. inconsistently presupposes the non-existence of what-is-not when explaining why it cannot be recognised (p.94). Given R.'s own analysis of 'is', Parmenides does seem to hold the view that 'it is not the case that what-is-not is' where 'is' means 'exists, can sustain coherently predications of attributes, and can be the subject in true propositions'.

Secondly, R. seems to develop two severally problematic and seemingly incompatible elaborations of the notion that the ways represent 'perspectives' on reality: she sometimes speaks as if (1) the first way and the wrong way(s) deal with different objects of inquiry (e.g. what is changeless and what changes as different aspects of reality), and sometimes as if (2) they offer different perspectives on the same object of inquiry (reality as changeless and changing).7 To begin with (1), R. herself seems to recognise that B8.36f ('nothing else is or will be apart from Being') indicates the uniqueness and exhaustiveness of the object of inquiry on the first route (p.171). She refers in passing to what-is as "everything there is" (p.134, n.362). More generally, in B8 Parmenides does not engage with statements of the form 'what does not change is...', but rather of the form 'what is (to eon) does not change'. The rejection of generation and perishing, therefore, is not restricted to one class of things (only what one focuses on in the first route) but extends to all that is (to eon, what one focuses on in the first route).

As for (2), it seems undeniable that, within the perspective of the first route, Parmenides formulates statements in which what-is acts as the subject to which various attributes are predicated. To support her contention that "[n]o birth and so no death can be attributed to Being within a trustworthy account" (p.113), R. cites Parmenides' assertion that 'true trust' has pushed birth and death away (B8.27f.). But this last assertion is introduced specifically as the justification (ἐπεί) of the declarative statement that 'Being is without beginning and end' (ἔστιν ἄναρχον ἄπαυστον, B8.27). Again, even if in rejecting theories of change Parmenides signifies also an 'assignment to the mind', rather than merely a description of reality, the statement that Being 'remains where it is firmly' (ἔμπεδον αὖθι μένει, B8.30) evidently says something about Being. It is, in other words, an ontological statement. Indeed, R. herself notes that, in B8.2-6, Parmenides lists "the predicates of Being" (p.126). To make sense of focalised monism on (2), R. thus develops what we may style a 'relativistic' picture of Parmenides. Reality as seen from one perspective is different from, and indeed incompatible with, reality as seen from another, while both remain ontologically equipollent. Thus, even if the first way expresses an ontology, that ontology remains relative to its particular perspective: "Being, on the way hôs estin, is without birth and death, homogeneous, immobile and without development" (p.127). However, once we rule out the possibility that the different ways investigate non-coextensive sets of objects of inquiry, it becomes difficult to see how the first way can be epistemologically superior and yet ontologically equipollent to the wrong way(s). If the different ways simply dealt with different things, there would be no difficulty in the view that only the first leads to knowledge of truth concerning its particular objects of inquiry. But if the different perspectives produce incompatible views about reality, then their import becomes mutually exclusive, as R. herself implies when she ascribes to the Truth "the insight according to which no opposites are real" (p.162). If, then, the first route leads to a correct and trustworthy understanding of reality (as R. emphasises throughout her book), it becomes difficult to see how the stipulation that Being is immobile 'on the way hôs estin' delimits in any way the validity of the ontological statement that Being is immobile.

We can maintain focalised monism only so long as we fail to distinguish between (1) and (2). The somewhat contrary pull of (1) and (2), as well as the textual and philosophical strain of focalised monism, are reflected in instructive inconsistencies between some of R.'s own statements. While adhering to focalised monism, R. elsewhere notes in passing that the first route deals, inter alia, in metaphysics (p.178), styles it "the right perspective" (p.169) and cites favourably Coxon's view that, while the characteristics of the two Doxastic Forms are 'conventional in status', those of Being are 'objectively real' (p.186f.). R. sometimes assumes that the objects of Doxastic inquiry are also aspects of reality (concerning which we can never know the truth): "reality, in fact, from another point of view, also shows change" (117). Elsewhere, however, she writes that those who apply to reality such categories as 'birth' and 'death' "must not believe that they are real, in fact they do not describe reality as it is" (p.197). Indeed, if, as R. argues, Parmenides rejects what-is-not for the methodological and non-ontological reason that we can have no clear information about it whatsoever, he should advocate complete suspension of judgement concerning the existence or nature of such processes as change and becoming to which what-is-not is integral, and, consequently, concerning the truth-value of mortal opinions about such processes. And yet, on several occasions, R. asserts confidently that, since they involve what-is-not, the Doxai "cannot be true" (e.g. p.179, my emphasis). Most tellingly, in the very same page R. writes both that the Doxai are deceitful, since they employ arbitrary distinctions and are therefore "just a way of looking at reality", and that "Parmenides' Poem teaches the audience two perspectives: two ways of looking at reality." (p.198). Given Parmenides' alleged non-ontological monism, it is unclear why R. does not style the first way too as "just" a way of looking at reality and does not pronounce it thereby equally arbitrary and deceitful in the categories it applies to reality. Again, the Doxai, avers R., are deceitful since they teach humans to regard as real boundaries such as day and night which "can also be regarded as one and the same" (p.211). The force of the relativising 'also' is unclear: is the first route equally deceitful since it teaches mortals to regard as real an undifferentiated unity which can 'also' be regarded as divided according to night and day?

The paradoxes of monism are undoubtedly one of the most urgent scandals for the student of Parmenides (to cite Simplicius: ὐκ ἠγνόει Παρμενίδης, ὅτι γενητὸς αὐτὸς ἦν, ὥσπερ οὐδέ, ὅτι δύο πόδας εἶχεν, ἓν λέγων τὸ ὄν, in Cael. 7.559.27). R.'s radical attempt is rare and welcome if, as I think, ultimately untenable.8

Although the book's title and its final words refer to 'becoming Being', and although R. repeatedly indicates that the knower is to become identical with Being, she often speaks as if the transformation consisted in becoming like Being. For instance, in arguing that descriptions of Being could characterise also the knowing subject, R. typically suggests that an adjective referring to Being in one sense, could refer to the agent in another sense (thus akinêton in B8.26 attributes immobility to Being and mental 'steadfastness' to the mortal agent, p.144f). The difficulty is obvious: it cannot be the mortal agent as a whole who becomes Being, since, for instance, the mortal agent was born and moves. Although she never elaborates on this, R. several times restricts the transformation to the agent's mind: "Being is what one can ... be (at least with one's mind) ... one (i.e. one's mind) must become Being in order to understand it" (pp.208, 210). However, a transformation whereby Being and the mortal's mind become identical is not clearly coherent either. R. avers that birth and death are only truly 'extinguished' (B8.21) "as the knowing subject does not believe in them anymore, if the true pistis has convinced one to let go of them" (p.165). Does the knower's mind become ungenerated upon knowing and thus becoming Being? Did the mortal's mind previously have a beginning but no more? R.'s parenthetical and unelaborated restrictions of transformation to the agent's mind betray unease with certain fundamental questions that arise from her basic setup but are never addressed directly: in what precisely does the transformation consist? What is the notion of the mortal self operative in it? From what other aspects of the mortal are we to distinguish his 'mind' when restricting to it the identification with Being?

A final issue which warrants brief, closer consideration is R.'s misleadingly oversimplified treatment of Parmenides' poetic predecessors, and her account of the relation to truth and knowledge which the hexametric poet traditionally claims for himself. Homer, Hesiod and Xenophanes, avers R., "all claim to know the truth" (p.43, cf. p.48) about the subject matter of their poetry, thus recommending themselves to their audiences as dependable, trustworthy authorities. For her interpretation of Homeric poetics, R. relies primarily on the invocation of the Muses in Il.2.484ff, where, so far as I can tell, the Iliadic poet avows ignorance rather than knowledge (οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν, 486). More importantly, even if we grant the poet himself self-assured possession or knowledge of truth, the conception of poetic speech as alluring but potentially deceptive dominates the Odyssey and complicates the representation of the poet as a voice of unproblematically trustworthy truths.9

"Hesiod's Muses", writes R., "claim to tell the truth even if they can also inspire something different" (p.44). In offering this statement as a self-evident gloss of Theogony 27f., R. elides without argument centuries of continuous scholarly polemic concerning what has been described without exaggeration as "one of the most enigmatic statements about poetry to be found in Greek literature."10 All that Hesiod's Muses claim is the knowledgeable ability to articulate both truths and falsehoods that are similar to the genuine truths (or realities): they offer no clear indication as to the implications of their words for their relationship with Hesiod. The interpretation of these implications thus becomes very much a challenge of reading the subtext. 11

With Xenophanes, the truth which the poet claims to know turns out to be the second-order insight that no mortal can know the truth concerning the subject-matter of his poetry (p.44f). It is doubtful that Xenophanes would have conceptualised this second-order principle as knowledge of a truth, important or otherwise. However Homer, Hesiod or Xenophanes construct and promote their appeal in isolated passages, the prospects of poetic deception, divine inscrutability and the limitations of mortal cognition had, well before Parmenides (or Xenophanes), complicated the portrayal of the Hexametric poet as a figure of indisputably trustworthy authority enjoying a privileged relationship with the divine. As early as the Odyssey, the danger of a captivating and verisimilitudinous deception was an integral part, not only of the fascinating allure of the poetic voice, but also of its special affiliation with the truth, that is, its relation to a divine inspiration that offers otherwise unavailable avenues of information, narration and reflection.

The upshot of R.'s discussion is in itself both convincing and stimulating. Through Parmenides' use of hexameters, she concludes, "[t]he Greek audience are prepared for the possibility of new truths that put old traditional truths in a different light" (p.45). But the foregoing superficial analysis of Parmenides' predecessors embodies also a superficial account of his reactions to them. R.'s own novel contention that the progress of the poem's audience is what explains and determines its structure, imagery and argumentation calls for a more complex story about Parmenides' relation to his predecessors' models of poetry and epistemology. If the Homeric (and especially Odyssean) poetic figure, though in possession of truth, is sometimes inclined also to deception, the Hesiodic poet is arguably unclear, or perhaps even unsure, concerning the classification of his verses as true or as verisimilitudinous falsehoods. Xenophanes, in turn, apparently professes to enjoy the same epistemic potential as that of his audience, and to be subject to the same limitations, except for his revolutionary recognition of the nature of this potential and of these limitations, a recognition which itself dispels methodological and epistemological naivety and opens new avenues of inquiry and (perhaps) progress (B34, B18). How do Parmenides and his goddess draw on and supersede these different notions of the poetic voice and of the implied reader constructed by Homer, Hesiod and Xenophanes? A more comprehensive investigation of this question, drawing on R.'s distinctive methodology, may produce fresh and better-rounded explanations of the presence in Parmenides' poem of a knowledgeable goddess, who articulates both truths and verisimilitudinous deceptions, who identifies such deceptions with traditional teaching and who enables the mortal, poetic voice, and so his mortal audience, to acquire the knowledge they need in order to distinguish these two different kinds of divinely disclosed speech.

Although R.'s exposition is generally very lucid and accessible, it is also excessively repetitious: theses general and specific are throughout announced, stated and restated with sometimes burdening frequency. The English is severely under-edited, with numerous typos and ungrammatical sentences. The bibliography is sometimes inaccurate and does not refer the reader to all the scholarship referred to in the text. (A reference on page 71 to 'Dickey 1996, 9 is to E. Dickey, Greek forms of address (Oxford, 1996); a reference on page 115, n.317 to 'Curd Kenig' 1991, 253' is to P.K. Curd, 'Parmenidean Monism', Phronesis 36 (1991), pp.241-264.) But for all its minor flaws and despite -- and occasionally thanks to -- its more substantial difficulties, this provocative, daring and imaginative monograph will no doubt make a stimulating contribution to Parmenidean scholarship.


1. A.A. Long, Phronesis Vol.53, no.3 (2008), p.296f.

2. A.A. Long, "Parmenides on Thinking Being", BACAP 12 (1996), pp.125-151.

3. P.58 contains some interesting philological insights about B3.

4. P.99f. contain an excellent, remarkably lucid and wisely inconclusive discussion of the two ways / three ways question, assessing the merits and demerits of the various views.

5. See pp.169-171 for a masterly discussion of B8.35f.

6. Cf. Long's praises, see n.1.

7. E.g. (1) "certain aspects of reality that the audience should not focus on if they are looking for understanding" (p.119); the first route focuses on "what is and does not change", the other(s) on "what changes and is different" (p.86); while the first route focuses on Being, the Doxai's project "involves focusing on something else" (p.198, R.'s emphases); (2) "one can learn to see everything as a unity, if one looks from a certain perspective" (p.129, my emphasis).

8. For the most plausible model to date see the recent A.P.D. Mourelatos, The Route of Parmenides: Revised and Expanded Edition (Las Vegas, 2008), pp.xlii-xlviii.

9. Odysseus is systematically portrayed as a poet-like figure (see e.g. C. Moulton, Similes in the Homeric Poems (Göttingen, 1977), p.153) and it is specifically in reference to one of his Cretan Lies that Eumaeus compares Odysseus' 'enchanting' speech to that of a poet (Od.17.514-521).

10. P. Pucci, Hesiod and the Language of Poetry (London, 1977), p.8.

11. Although R. throws her lot in with the majority, and although there is certainly much to be said for this traditional view, numerous scholars have argued powerfully that Hesiod's Muses either implicate the poet in both kinds of poetic speech, or leave the issue unclear. See e.g. G.M. Ledbetter, Poetics Before Plato: Interpretation and Authority in Early Greek Theories of Poetry (Princeton, 2003), pp.40-61. (read complete article)


W. Jeffrey Tatum, Always I Am Caesar. Malden, MA/Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Pp. viii, 198. ISBN: 978-1-4051-7525-8. $24.95 (pb).
Reviewed by: Ayelet Haimson Lushkov, Yale University and Dartmouth College (ayelet.haimsonlushkov@yale.edu)

Table of Contents

Caesar has always fascinated those who encountered him, whether in person or through the reception of text, memory and image. In Always I am Caesar, Tatum offers a wide lens onto Caesar and his times in "an attempt to understand central aspects of Caesar's life within a pertinent slice of Roman habits, concepts and expectations" (3). Although the book falls into the broad biography-cum-context category, Always I am Caesar is concerned with city and society as much as the man himself, and it delves most fruitfully into the culture and norms which converged to create the Caesar we know.

Was Caesar truly an incomparable genius, unwilling and unable to live as a citizen of the Republic? Or was he a rather less prodigious product of his time and culture, driven by the relentless competition among aristocrats and by the machinations of his enemies into civil war and dictatorship? As Tatum sees it, this familiar line of questioning reduces Caesar to an ideological choice between the noble and dark sides of empire, ignoring both generations of reception and the nuances of contemporary context. In Always I am Caesar, the question of Caesar's singularity becomes a springboard for separating Caesar the icon from Caesar the historical figure, and especially for elucidating his relationship to the society and culture which shaped him and in which he operated.1

Always I am Caesar originates in the De Carle Lectures, a series of public lectures which Tatum gave at the University of Otago in 2005. The lectures must have been a treat, since the book itself makes for highly enjoyable reading, written in commanding style and sharp prose, and peppered with modern quips and anecdotes which are often funny if not always decorous.2 There are three stemmata and three maps at the front,3 illustrations throughout, and a list of important dates in the back. The book is also of convenient size and modest price, and its formula of broad perspective and judicious detail will tempt many to assign or recommend the book to those seeking a fresh perspective or, more likely, an introduction to Caesar and the Late Republic. Further interest is addressed in handy and usually thorough Further Reading notes at the end of each chapter, which are then collected in a bibliography at the end of the book.

The book's eight chapters all follow a roughly similar formula, each discussing a single facet of Roman republican culture, before treating Caesar's particular instantiation of the feature. The formula has much to recommend it, not least the salutary effect of presenting Caesar as an actor within a pre-existing society, with many choices and endings open and available, rather than as the protagonist of a teleologically determined history. The structure also allows Tatum to cover a considerable amount of ground, as each chapter brims with sharp observations on the workings of central cultural phenomena as well as the more minute detail of Caesar's life. The result is an interesting mixture of socio-cultural history with bare-bones biography, which explores the dynamics of interactions between individual and society, impersonal currents and personal agency.

The first two chapters cover the traditional domains of Caesarian interest: politics and warfare. Chapter 1 begins with an exploration of Caesar's early career, "when it was by no means a certainty that he would manage to avoid failure or even to attain to mediocrity" (21), a reminder that the Sullan dictatorship and its aftermath left the young Caesar with less than certain prospects for the realization of any political ambitions. It then follows him, via an account of the Roman political system, up through his first consulship. Chapter 2 launches Caesar into Gaul and nearly unprecedented military success. Curiously, Caesar himself is relegated in this chapter to a few pages at the beginning and end. The bulk of the chapter is instead taken up with a good account of the Roman ideology of war and victory, covering the role of warfare in the social structures of the ancient state (43), the complex of gloria, virtus and honor (glory, courage and reward) which drove Roman aristocrats towards military exploits, the idea of 'just war' (48), and especially Roman militarism and imperialism.

Chapter 3 explores the Roman religious system: its reciprocality (do ut des), the Roman dedication to conserving the pax deorum (the state of affairs which kept the gods favorable to Rome), the question of belief and practice, and the difficulties inherent in understanding a religion which is no longer lived.4 The chapter concludes with a discussion of the political ramifications of religious actions, citing as examples the intricate legalities of Bibulus' spectio of 59 B.C., and, several years later, of Caesar's divine honors. Although there are many insights here into the interaction of politics and religion, and especially into the vividness of Roman ritual, what is lacking is a sense of the underlying mechanisms of the state religion, and especially of Caesar's function as pontifex maximus -- a role which surely had greater resonance and responsibilities than the extra clout it lent Caesar in the senate and assemblies.

Chapter 4 engages with the semantics of privately-funded public construction at Rome. The foray into the topography of the city has grown in importance and scholarly attention recently, and it is especially welcome to see it so well integrated into a discussion of Roman society. Tatum begins with the "mechanisms of public building in Rome" (85), noting the political, symbolic, and didactic functions of dedicatory inscriptions, but the highlight of the chapter is rather his acute discussion of Pompey's temple/theater complex as an example of the sort of statement available to Roman leaders, and of the ripple effect such statements inevitably had: Pompey's theater not only showed off his considerable resources, but through its deviation from a cultural norm (it was Rome's first permanent stone theater) demonstrated and enhanced his authority in society.

Chapter 5 points out the central importance of women in shaping Caesar's early life and career, while the bulk of the chapter explores Roman expectations of women's behavior. Although his claim that the disadvantages suffered by Roman women "were negligible in practice" (103) is perhaps overstating the case, the following survey of the influence deployed by Caesar's mother Aurelia in the service of her son's career is illuminating. Tatum concludes by considering the romance and political pragmatism behind the two most famous love affairs of Caesar's life: Servilia and Caesar's alleged paternity of Brutus the Liberator ('kai su, teknon'!), and Caesar's notorious affair with Cleopatra and the resulting parvulus Aeneas, Caesarion.

Chapter 6 marks the book's turn from contextualizing Caesar in republican society to closer scrutiny of more familiar concerns: the civil war, his assassination, and his heir. This chapter tackles the first of these, the minutiae of political maneuvering which led to the civil war in 49 B.C. Tatum opens with a salvo against Hobsbawm's dismissal of Great Men as a focus for the study of the past in favor of a Marxist focus on social or economic forces.5 On the contrary, this chapter asserts, "personnel matters" (123). Particularly arresting is Tatum's decision to build much of his account not on Caesar and his relentless ambition, as is customary, but rather on Pompey's campaign to assure his own supremacy in the state, and to advertise that position to the boni on the one hand and to Caesar on the other.

Chapter 7 treats the motivations for Caesar's murder and the social conditions that framed it. As in the previous chapter, Tatum insists that the assassination had more to do with the perceptions of a small circle of the aristocracy than with the mood of the mob, who adored Caesar as they had Pompey before him. Tatum begins with a brief survey of Roman notions of dying appropriately and of old age, and especially the role of a timely death as "an important safety valve in the pressurized world of the Roman senate" (147). This has the interesting effect of casting much of the resentment against Caesar and his post-war honors as a gradually worsening tension between a man late in his career and ambitious young aristocrats. Caesar controlled all resources and all access to any measure of glory, while his celebrated clementia temporarily put the lid on any resentment this restrictiveness caused -- a situation which only left young men like Cassius and Brutus to simmer. Clementia also obligated them to Caesar and formed an intractable moral conundrum -- how to betray a friend without forfeiting honor? As Tatum goes on to show, Greek philosophy, which saw the tyrant as dehumanized, became the shibboleth of the conspirators, enabling a way out of the moral bind and providing a self-identifying mark for recruitment.

Finally, chapter 8 deals with the aftermath of Caesar's death. From Mark Antony and his actions in the wake of Caesar's death to the rise of Octavian, Tatum suggests, the republic was effectively restored, and this equilibrium was precisely what Octavian saw as the obstacle to his own ambitions. As in the previous chapters, there is much cultural analysis here -- testamentary adoption, Octavian's deployment of his alleged paternity -- and a clear and refreshing view into the political morass following Caesar's fall. Tatum concludes with a few worthwhile thoughts on the transition from the war-torn republic to the principate and political stability. His final remark, appropriately enough, rounds out this consideration of greatness and its consequences: "Too many Caesars are definitely not a good thing" (188).

With a public audience in mind it may seem appropriate that the book be "unencumbered by scholarly apparatus like footnotes or citations" (12). And yet therein lies the chief frustration of the book, for, as Tatum himself announces, this means that the reader "is more or less forced to take [his] word for it" (12). For the general reader, who will find here a more informed and responsible account than in other similar works on Caesar, citations and footnotes may matter little. But the rudimentary scholarly apparatus reduces the book's usefulness for an academic audience. Always I am Caesar is packed full of informative and acute observations, on everything from philosophy to old age to epigraphic practices -- but without annotation, how can scholars and students alike suitably judge the picture Tatum so ably presents? Faith alone should not suffice. The suggestions for further reading offer an excellent starting point for inquiring young minds, but they cannot compensate for the fact that the student is rarely told where the weaknesses, conjectures, or controversies are in the main text, or even from which ancient author a particular quotation is taken.6 In sum, this is a stimulating and enjoyable book, which deserves a wide readership, but the format is not without its flaws, and these, regrettably, may inhibit the book's utility.

Nevertheless, in Always I am Caesar Tatum has produced a highly enjoyable account of Caesar and his world. These twin foci between them generate a considerable energy, which illuminates many areas of Roman life, politics and culture, as well as the multifaceted personality of Caesar himself. It is a welcome contribution to one of the most well-tilled corners of Roman history and will hopefully provoke many minds into considering old questions in new ways.7


1. The final chapter of Andrew Riggsby's 2006 Caesar in Gaul and Rome discusses Caesar's own construction of his uniqueness in comparison to his peers. Caesar the author and scholar is the one aspect of Caesar's life that is missing from Always I am Caesar, a lack which is especially regrettable in light of the growing attention in scholarship to the Commentarii and to Caesar's self-fashioning in them.

2. E.g., on p. 57, when speaking about the Gallic campaign: "One cannot say that the campaign was intelligent. Caesar ripped through Gaul like an undergraduate through a case of cheap beer."

3. The stemmata: The family of Julius Caesar (ix -- note the tentative inclusion of Sex. Julius Caesar, cos. 91 as Caesar's uncle); Caesar and the Aurelii Cottae (x); and Cato and his connections (xi). The maps include a map of the Mediterranean in the time of Caesar (xii); a map of the Republican city of Rome, reproduced, without page reference, from Rosenstein and Morstein-Marx (2006) A Companion to the Roman Republic, Oxford; and a map of the Roman forum during the Republic, reproduced from the same Companion.

4. Tatum rightly cautions against the possible distortions of Roman religion when viewed through a Judaeo-Christian lens, but his assertion that there is no contemporary "paganism on the ground" (66) on which we might lean to understand the Romans ignores the one billion or so polytheists of South Asia. The statement is all the more surprising since Tatum himself uses older Western impressions of Buddhism (65) to illustrate how misleading our views of unfamiliar religious practice can be. None of this is meant to suggest that modern polytheist cultures hold the key to the Roman religious imagination, only to point out that we should not restrict ourselves to the West in search of useful critical paradigms.

5. Hobsbawm, E.J. 1962. The Age of Revolution, 1789-1848, New York. The reference is missing from the Bibliography.

6. There is a good discussion of the sources and their treatment in pp. 12-16, but as Tatum informs the reader, he will not "cite ancient authors (or other ancient documents) by chapter and verse, though I will regularly refer to them and often quote them (and naturally, I will rely on them constantly)" (16, emphasis original).

7. A few typographical errors: Tiber is misspelled Tibur on p. 46; there are several italicizations missing on p. 88; Aphrodite is referred to as a god on p. 91, but Minerva as a goddess on p.89; Capitol is spelled Capital in the quotation on p. 97; 'my' ought to be 'by' on the first line of p. 111; and the coin reproduction on p.177 is too dark to be useful. Orlin's 2005 Temples, Religion, and Politics in the Roman Republic (Brill), might usefully have been added to the Further Reading note for chapter 4, and Brunt's 1977 Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic (Norton, New York) to the note on chapter 6, if only as a less dense version of Brunt 1988. There is, curiously, no mention at all of the conference of Lucca, though the so-called First Triumvirate is amply discussed. (read complete article)


David O. Ross, Virgil's Aeneid: A Reader's Guide. Malden, MA/Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Pp. ix, 155. ISBN 9781405159739. $29.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Lisa Rengo George, Tulane University (lrgeorge@tulane.edu)

[The reviewer apologizes for the tardiness of this review.]

[This review does not compare different reader's guides for the Aeneid. For a recent review of Vergil companions, see Marc Mastrangelo, CJ 97 (2001) 89-93.]

David O. Ross's book Virgil's Aeneid: A Reader's Guide, has an introduction, six chapters, and an appendix on the Latin hexameter. In his preface, Ross says that his intended audience is a "wide range of non-specialist readers" (although frequent citations of untranslated Latin suggest that the book might be more useful to someone reading the poem in Latin). I believe, however, that everyone--professional academic, student, or layperson--will benefit from Ross's lyrical and insightful reading of Vergil's great poem. Ross has definitely changed my own perspective on the Aeneid.

In his introduction Ross emphasizes that Virgil is above all a poet and accordingly asks many questions but supplies few answers. The Aeneid has been misread, misunderstood, and disparaged over the centuries by those who unprofitably compare Virgil's secondary (that is to say, written) epic with the oral epic of Homer, his greatest predecessor, and find Vergil lacking the simplicity of Homer's linear and descriptive narrative. To demonstrate, Ross compares Odyssey 10.156-71 with Aeneid 1.184-94, two hunting scenes. Homer's description is precise and accurate: Virgil's description is much grander and more general. The details of the hunting scene are not important to Virgil: the hero's actions and feelings are. Ross states: "Virgil has written a poem not so much about Rome's origins and its imperial present, but about the deceptive images that we continually make and remake to restore our past and imagine our future" (p. 10). Part of Ross's goal is to offer different perspectives on some of the more prominent scholarly views of the poem. This view informs the rest of his reader's guide.

In chapter one, "Virgil's Hero," Ross presents Aeneas as a human figure caught in the great net of the gods' divine plan for Rome. "The difference between a Homeric hero at a time of crisis and Aeneas is simply this, that in Homer the hero acts, decisively and without hesitation, whereas for Aeneas there is no course of action possible, no way to resolve the conflict" (p. 13). Ross then examines three scenes of crisis in the Aeneid: 2.634-704, 5.700-54, and 4.279-95, all depicting Aeneas compelled to act on the orders of his divinely ordained mission. "No Homeric hero, even Odysseus, was ever so conflicted" (p. 15). Ross then looks at "The Hero and Personal Loss" with views of Dido, Creusa, Anchises, Venus, and Ascanius, then at "The Hero as Warrior (10.510-605)," Aeneas' aristeia.

In chapter two, Ross turns to the victims of Aeneas's great mission. "Were the victims really obstacles to progress, and were they necessary sacrifices?" (p. 32). He notes Dido's downward spiral from great queen of Carthage to obsessed and mad woman in love, and concludes "[t]here is only one other character in the epic who suffers from a similar progress to a similar isolation, cut off from every human contact, and that is Aeneas" (p. 35). About the young lovers Nisus and Euryalus, as well as about Pallas and Lausus, Ross states that the young men's attraction to the savage heroism of Aeneas brings with it "a tone of ambivalent irony" (p. 38), "and sound[s] again the Catullan themes of loss and betrayal in the new age of heroes" (p. 42). To Ross Turnus despite his enemy status) exemplifies (the Roman aristocrat with his ancestral ingenium and virtus as well as his beauty of form. When he battles against Aeneas in book XII , his furor (in both an erotic and war-eager sense) proves to be no match for Aeneas. "There is no final message to be abstracted here, no conclusions to be drawn about the rightness or wrongness of Turnus' actions or of what his heroic world made of him" (p. 52). After a brief excursus on Camilla, Ross turns to Italy itself as the epic's final victim. Pallanteum (also Latium), as Evander presents it, is both a prelapsarian idyll and a community experienced in the sufferings and glories of warfare.

Ross turns to "Fate and the Gods" in chapter three. "The Romans had no religion," (p. 62) in the sense that the Judeo-Christian tradition understands it: no creed, no personal or moral responsibility to lead a just life, no spirituality expressed through prayer and devotion, no divinity whose grace we can hope to obtain (paraphrased from p. 62). The Romans of Virgil's time were still very much aware of native animistic beliefs from their ancient past. "Virgil's gods and fate are sometimes agents, sometimes expressions of [the images of the past and the future] with an emotional depth that only poetry is capable of" (p. 76).

In "Virgil's Troy" (chapter four), Ross surveys the history of Troy as a Roman ideological concept, positing that "[f]or the ancient Romans, Troy provided an emotional antiquity" (p. 80). Since Troy is simultaneously Homeric and the source of Rome itself, Aeneas's tale of its destruction in Book II "tells of the personal loss that is always and inevitably our individual past" (p. 82). The reconstruction of Troy at Buthrotum (which Ross calls "Andromache's Troy") lacks any sense of reality. It is purely a monument to Andromache's unhappy past, since she lives for those who are dead. The real new Troy will be Rome. But the Trojan Games in Book V reveal "figures lost in a maze, trying desperately to escape, to recover a way out, inextricably wandering, blind and deceived" (p. 103). This is what his Trojan past represents for Aeneas.

"Rome the rerum imago" (chapter five) sets forth the "unknowable" future of Rome as it is presented in the poem. Ross points out that our confidence in what the future will bring is considerably higher than it would have been for the ancient Greeks and Romans, what with our abilities to predict weather, sports outcomes and to diagnose disease. "Jupiter's revelation to Venus in Book I has the simplicity of an outline offered in the first lecture of a course on Roman history" (p. 107). But for Aeneas and his men, as well as for Virgil's contemporary readers, the future of Rome was far less certain. Ross notes the textual comparison between Augustus on Aeneas's divine shield and Aeneas himself, standing high on the stern, accompanied by flames (p. 117). He sees in this shield the ignorance imposed on the epic's most important figures as well as the false dreams Aeneas received as he left through the gate of ivory from the Underworld in Book VI.

In chapter six, Ross looks at Virgil's life and works. I'm sure that he must have considered putting this chapter first at one point, and in the most obvious reading of his book, that's where it would belong. But it is fitting that this look at the limited biography of Vergil, as well as his historical context, should be at the end of this work, as Ross analyzes the Eclogues and Georgics and notes their influences on the Aeneid (as well as the Aeneid's influence on the Georgics). The analyses of Vergil's earlier works are concise and pithy, and are most suitable for those who have already read these poems. Ross's final words are about furor, the passion both erotic and violent that has driven so many of Vergil's characters breathlessly and desperately forward throughout the epic.

This short summary cannot begin to convey the complexity and allusiveness of Ross's reading of the Aeneid. He notes throughout Virgil's reliance on earlier poets, both Greek and Roman, from Homer and Theocritus to Gallus and Catullus, and enlivens the portrait he paints of the poem with the intuitiveness and relevance of his observations. Ross truly makes this notoriously difficult poem accessible to the reader, and though his analysis will be especially suitable for undergraduates reading the poem in Latin, it has something to offer both the non-specialist and professional alike. (read complete article)


Teresa Morgan, Popular Morality in the Early Roman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. xiv, 380; ills. 5, table 1. ISBN 978-0-521-87553-0. $105.00.
Reviewed by Cheryl L. Golden, Newman University (golden@newmanu.edu)

Teresa Morgan's Popular Morality in the Early Roman Empire aims to examine popular attitudes toward right and wrong, virtue and injustice in the first and second centuries AD in an effort to discern the "degree of common moral ground" held by the people of both higher and lower status in the Roman Empire during the pax romana (2). Morgan begins with the assumption that morality and ethics, namely a shared understanding of what people can and cannot do if they want a predictable and secure existence in society (as regards land use, marriage, what constitutes murder, etc.), is essential to any group's success. Morgan places morality alongside political, economic and social behavior for analysis of the nature of a culture. That noted, Morgan then approaches her evidence with the tools of historical, literary, anthropological and philosophical inquiry. Her evidence for this study is both Latin and Greek proverbs, fables, gnomai and exempla. Morgan's use of this particular pool of evidence in a systematic way for historical and philosophical inquiry represents a breakthrough in social history and may serve as a model for others.

Getting at popularly held concepts in a society where possibly 80 percent of the male population was illiterate is daunting from the outset. Furthermore, the social, ethnic and geographic diversity of the Roman Empire presents an enormous obstacle. Morgan confronts these concerns by recognizing the limitations of written evidence for the examination of popular attitudes, but reminds us that Homer and others had a mass audience of listeners across the Mediterranean and that the tradition of oratory in the ancient world insured that large audiences heard speeches invoking such concepts. Aristotle maintained that fables were the poetry of the poor. Thus Morgan allows that proverbs, fables, gnomai and exempla may have worked both upwards and downwards socially, "percolating" as she has it, throughout society, thus helping us begin to understand how the elite of society influenced the common element, and how the reverse could also occur (324).

So how might one use "sayings" to study the problem at hand? Morgan outlines her method in the introduction. First, she claims that in this evidence that even though there are inherent ambiguities in the study of ancient language and religion, one can still identify a coherent systematic thought process behind them. Second, one might need to determine whether the evidence from sayings relates to widespread issues (concerns for all), or if they merely focus on marginal and/or disputed topics. Ultimately, Morgan contends that most proverbs, fables, etc. deal with topics that are "ethically ponderable" (18). Such "ponderables" speak directly to her aim to discern a commonly held attitude to the right and wrong ways of dealing with ethical issues. Finally, Morgan acknowledges the great efforts of literary criticism to analyze the various meanings, ambiguities and intentions associated with ancient texts as well as proverbs, fables, etc. The author then notes, however, that people in antiquity who used such sayings did not "live in a perpetual consciousness of ambiguity and refuse to come to conclusions; if they did they would hardly be able to act at all. Historians, therefore, do not need to focus on the infinite potential of the text, but on what it is reasonable to believe it may have meant in context" (22). Thus Morgan's method of research relies upon identifying the systemic nature of "ethical ponderables" found in the evidence to discern popular morality of the Roman Empire in its historical context.

Morgan has organized her presentation into three parts. Part one defines, presents and analyzes four categories of evidence: proverbs, fables, gnomai and exempla. Chapter six of part one then presents patterns found in the evidence. Morgan defines each category of evidence:

Proverbs: popular and anonymous sayings (23-31; 84)

Fables: stories providing a "useful source of wisdom and morality in general, teaching great moral lessons from small things" (59)

Gnomai: "moralizing quotations from a known author" (31; 84)

Exempla: "the sayings and doings of famous men and women of the past as examples to be imitated or avoided" (122)

For each category, Morgan proceeds to offer what she terms "a map of the ethical landscape," in which she orders the evidence into themes. Under the category of exempla, Morgan finds exempla commonly used in the areas of religion, such as courage, friendship, mercy and self control, and shows how these examples provide a general picture of Roman expectations regarding relationships between family members, law and its enforcement, and the relationship between gods and humans. At times the reader would like to see Morgan stretch a bit in her analysis. She seems to have anticipated the readers' frustration, writing at the beginning of her presentation on fables: "I shall try both to do justice to the multiplicity of possible readings of the fables, and to draw out what can defensibly be seen as their major concerns. It should be emphasized, however, that the nature of fables means that two listeners or readers will never see or hear them in quite the same way. As a result, no one analysis is definitive (and it is hard for anyone to be absolutely wrong)" (63). Thus, Morgan, while offering an analysis of the evidence, leaves room for the reader to take the evidence where it may or may not go for his own purposes. At the conclusion of each chapter, Morgan presents a graphic distribution of the main topics represented by each category, allowing another form of comparison across all categories of evidence. Again, this is a useful tool for the researcher hoping to develop his own conclusions about the evidence.

Part two offers more analysis as to the language of morality, focusing on the verbs and adjectives represented in this evidence, and noting what is "approved or disapproved of" in the sayings (191). This part also investigates the roles of authority and time represented in the evidence.

Part three looks at specific works that help to understand the connection between popular morality, ethics and high philosophy. Morgan intentionally saves this topic for last, hoping to have established the systematic thinking of popular morality before comparing it to the systematic thinking of high philosophy of the schools then active in the empire. Her appendices offer support for the validity of such a comparison. I will leave it to others better schooled in philosophy to judge Morgan's success.

Overall Morgan's work is an exhaustive study, helpful and entertaining. Her writing style is easily accessible. Her method, employing the work of history, classics, anthropology and philosophy should serve as an example for others hoping to delve deeper into the social history of Rome or any other past culture displaying similar evidence. Such an approach provides a pathway to understanding not only the early Roman Empire but other societies and times as well.

By systematically ordering and presenting bons mots preserved by Greek and Roman fabulists, biographers and poets of the Roman Empire, she has presented a method for historical inquiry into the largest part of Roman society. Ancient historians always bemoan the lack of literary evidence for the vast majority of Roman society and have turned rightly to economic theory, archaeological and epigraphic evidence, as well as demographic approaches to ascertain the typical Roman citizen's lifestyle, diet, and level of involvement in military, political and social organizations. Morgan's efforts to analyze this collection of literary evidence stand alongside such attempts, offering yet another tool to help us to "get at" the vast majority of people living under the Roman Empire. (read complete article)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Katharina Volk (ed.), Vergil's Georgics. Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford/ New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pp. 281. ISBN 9780199542949. $49.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Randall Pogorzelski, University of California, Irvine (rpogorze@uci.edu)

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

Eighteen years after the publication of Stephen Harrison's Oxford Readings in Vergil's Aeneid, Katharina Volk (hereafter V.) gives us the "Oxford Readings in Classical Studies" volume on the Georgics. The volume was originally intended to be a collection of articles on both the Georgics and the Eclogues, but the decision was made to split the project into two volumes, and thus we have V.'s collection of ten previously published essays on what is currently the least popular poem of Rome's most popular poet.

The primary aim of the collection, as the statement of the series' purpose on the inside cover of the volume explains, is to provide "a representative selection of the best and most influential articles" on the Georgics. Readers of this volume will find especially useful V.'s introduction and the volume's combined bibliography. The introduction, the only original piece in the volume, provides a brief but fairly comprehensive overview of scholarship on the Georgics from 1970 to 2006. This overview together with the bibliography will be welcome tools for both students and scholars beginning a project or a course involving the Georgics.

The articles themselves provide a necessarily less comprehensive, though more detailed overview of the most debated issues in scholarship on the poem from 1970 to 1995. V. has not picked just any ten of the "best and most influential" articles, but has chosen pieces that work together as a cohesive collection and arranged them in an order that flows nicely. The first four selections (chapters 2-5) treat the poem as a whole and are arranged chronologically. The remaining six selections (chapters 6-11) each focus on a particular passage or section, and are arranged according to the order in which the passages occur in the Georgics.

V.'s selections, as is typical of the series, are fairly conservative. The most recent articles in the collection are from 1995, and each one has stood the test of time. A collection focusing on the traditional core of Georgics scholarship and leaving out samples of the most recent work and the fringes of the field may offer little that is new and exciting to those who are already familiar with the most important work on the poem, but it accomplishes the goal of the series in providing a reliable guide for those who are not familiar with the important scholarly debates and positions on the Georgics.

As a whole, the collection focuses on the most important passages and issues in Georgics scholarship since 1970. It addresses the relationship between the Georgics and agriculture (Spurr; Thomas), the status of the poem as didactic (Thomas; Rutherford), the poem's intertextual relationship with mythological and didactic sources (Thomas; Gale; Wilkinson), the meaning of labor improbus (Jenkyns), the laudes Italiae (Putnam), the proem to the third book (Hardie; Wilkinson; Thomas), and Aristaeus and Orpheus (Griffin). V. often juxtaposes articles in disagreement, giving readers an impression of lively debate. On the issue of intertextuality and the poem's use of sources, for example, the juxtaposition of L. P. Wilkinson's article arguing for the primary influence of Pindar on the proem to the third Georgic and Richard Thomas' piece arguing for the primary influence of Callimachus on the same passage is a nice example of a traditional sort of debate in Vergilian scholarship. Similarly, the first two articles in the collection form a pair debating the issue of whether or not Vergil's poem was a legitimate farming manual. In the first selection, M. S. Spurr takes the position that the poem was intended to teach Romans how to run a farm, and in the second article Thomas, who has two articles in the collection, argues against this position, at one point even using the same evidence as Spurr to draw the opposite conclusion (Spurr 19; Thomas 61).

Perhaps the most well-known and heated debate in recent Georgics scholarship is the fundamental "optimism/pessimism" debate. This issue is represented in V.'s collection by a balanced set of four close readings alternating between the two sides of the debate. In chapter 6, Richard Jenkyns introduces the issue with what he calls a "progressive" (rather than "optimistic") reading of the phrase labor improbus in the first Georgic. The next chapter is Michael Putnam's reading of the laudes Italiae and other passages from the second Georgic, arguing that under a surface of praise, there is a "deeper current of unease" (153). Putnam is followed by Philip Hardie's "nationalistic" reading of the end of the second Georgic and beginning of the third. We have to wait until the final article in the collection for the last word in the debate, in the form of Jasper Griffin's nuanced but ultimately pessimistic (though explicitly not "anti-Augustan"; 232) reading of the Aristaeus and Orpheus episodes. V.'s selection of two articles on each side of the issue follows the series' advice to privilege "no single school or style of approach," demonstrating instead the unfolding of the debate and the continuing lack of consensus.

The "Oxford Readings in Classical Studies" series as a whole has drawn mixed reviews.1 Much of the criticism has focused on the questionable utility of reprinting essays that are readily available in their original publications. Although the series claims that "the collections are particularly valuable for their inclusion of many important essays which are normally difficult to obtain and for first-ever translations of some of the pieces," this is difficult to reconcile with the aim of collecting the "best and most influential articles." Especially in the case of an author as important as Vergil, it is rare that an excellent and influential article remains difficult to obtain or untranslated into English for long. In V.'s collection, none of the essays was originally in a language other than English and none is particularly hard to find. Four of the ten articles are available on JSTOR and the remaining six are available in most university libraries.

Similarly, the series' statement of purpose suggests that there is additional value in that, "Many articles are thoroughly revised and updated by their authors or provided with addenda taking account of recent work." In V.'s collection only two footnotes in one article have been updated with new bibliography.2 This is not to say that the reprints do not improve the articles at all. Three of the selections feature corrections of minor errors in their original publications.3 Translations of Latin, Greek, and German quotations have also been added to the articles that originally lacked them.

I would have preferred that the translations be added more consistently. Sometimes short Latin (and sometimes Greek or German) phrases lack translations, and often when a particular passage is quoted more than once in the same article, a translation is provided only for the first quotation. More significant is the misleading note that Putnam's article has been reprinted "with...the addition of translations of the Latin passages by the author." It should be noted that with two exceptions the translations of passages from the Georgics in this essay are not done by Putnam, but are from Fairclough's Loeb, as should be obvious to a reader who knows Putnam's usual translations to be somewhat more current and precise than, for example, "[you] who...now drivest the craven Indian from our hills of Rome" (2.171-2, quoted on p.143). Fairclough's translations are also included (though not attributed) at the end of the original publication of Putnam's essay, although the translation of 2.541-2 was altered.

While the utility of a series that reprints often readily available articles may be questioned, especially in a time of limited resources for academic publishing, this collection successfully accomplishes the goal of the series. Certainly V.'s introduction and the volume's bibliography will be useful introductions to scholarship on the Georgics. The selected articles themselves cover in detail the most important issues and passages in Georgics scholarship of the late twentieth century. Focusing on the goal of selecting very good and influential pieces that work well together rather than selecting hard-to-find articles, V. has produced a collection that accurately represents the influential debates about the Georgics from the last 38 years.


V.'s introduction (p.3 n.3) gives a URL for Niklas Holzberg's bibliography on the Georgics, but the site is no longer accessible.

On p.35 n.54, read "figure" for "figures" (this error is also in the original publication of Spurr's article).

On p.100 n.13 read "naturai" for "naturae" in the quotation of De Rerum Natura 1.586 (this error is not in the original publication of Gale's article).

On p.152 the second 'e' in "tempe" should be italicized (this error is not in the original publication of Putnam's article).


Scholarly Approaches to the Georgics Since the 1970s / Katharina Volk -- Agriculture and the Georgics / M. S. Spurr -- Prose into Poetry: Tradition and Meaning in Virgil's Georgics / Richard F. Thomas -- Authorial Rhetoric in Virgil's Georgics / Richard Rutherford -- Virgil's Metamorphoses: Myth and Allusion in the Georgics / Monica R. Gale -- Labor Improbus / Richard Jenkyns -- Italian Virgil and the Idea of Rome / Michael C. J. Putnam -- Cosmology and National Epic in the Georgics (Georgics 2.458-3.48) / Philip Hardie -- Pindar and the Proem to the Third Georgic / L. P. Wilkinson -- Callimachus, the Victoria Berenices, and Roman Poetry / Richard F. Thomas -- The Fourth Georgic, Virgil and Rome / Jasper Griffin.


1. For positive remarks on the series in other reviews, see especially Kraus and Volk. For more critical comments on the series see especially Farrell, but also Lacki, Olson, and Kruschwitz.

2. Notes 2 and 5 in Gale's "Myth and Allusion in the Georgics" have been updated with new bibliography.

3. Errors corrected in the reprint of Rutherford's article are: On p.85 (23 in the original) the emphasis on "vidimus" has been removed. On p.87 (24 in the original) a reference to Georgics 1.294 has been corrected to 3.294.

Errors corrected in the reprint of Gale's article are: On p.108 (43 in the original) "labor" is now italicized. On p.111 (45 in the original) "working-out" has been corrected to "working out." On p. 112 (45 in the original) "weapons" in the translation of Georgics 1.332 has been corrected to "weapon." On p. 114 (47 in the original) "Early man is durus" has been changed to "Early man is tough." On p.117 (48 in the original) the ellipsis has been removed from "Cyclopum ... agros" in the quotation of Georgics 1.471. In n.11 the ellipsis has been removed from "ferreus ... decrescit" in the quotation of De Rerum Natura 1.314. In n.17 "maris sudor" has been corrected to "sudor ... maris" in the quotation of De Rerum Natura 2.465. In n.46 the reference to Georgics1.378 has been corrected to 1.318. In n.68 "E.g." has been corrected to "e.g." In n.89 "Virgil may have had...in mind" is changed to "Virgil might have...in mind."

Errors corrected in the reprint of Putnam's article are: On p.138 (171 in the original) "conservation" is corrected to "conservative." On p.141 (173 in the original) "Tyrrhenian seas" is corrected to "Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas." On p.151(181 in the original) "Utopia" is now capitalized. In n.3 a reference to Georgics 1.153 has been corrected to 2.153. (read complete article)