Thursday, April 30, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Abraham P. Bos, Rein Ferwerda (ed.), Aristotle, On the Life-bearing Spirit (De spiritu): A Discussion with Plato and His Predecessors on Pneuma as the Instrumental Body of the Soul. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2008. Pp. 209. ISBN 9789004164581. $129.00.
Reviewed by Robert Mayhew, Seton Hall University

The central topic of my sole conversation of any length with the great British classicist David Balme (in 1988) was the unusual work, attributed to Aristotle, called περὶ πνεύματος (On Breath or De spiritu [hereafter DS]). Balme said he thought the nature and authenticity of the work needed to be reassessed--at the very least, the idea that its use of ἀρτηρία proved DS's spuriousness ought to be rejected,1 as the same usage can be found in the Historia Animalium. He told me that after he finished his work on the Historia Animalium, and if he lived long enough, he would like to produce a fresh edition of the text of DS.

Unfortunately, Balme died the following year.2 Three years later there appeared a new edition of the Greek text (with Italian translation and commentary) by Amneris Roselli.3 Roselli, however, regards the work as spurious (an early Peripatetic work, but not by Aristotle). As far as I know, the volume under review by Bos and Ferwerda (hereafter B/F) is the first attempt in English to defend the Aristotelian authorship of DS.4

Aristotle, On the life-bearing spirit consists mainly of an introduction (pp. 1-28), a new English translation of DS (pp. 29-46), and an extensive commentary (pp. 47-187).

The introduction is virtually identical to an essay by B/F that appeared recently in the journal Mnemosyne5--which should have been mentioned, and which is somewhat strange, as I think the essay reads more like an introduction than it does an academic article. (The one significant difference is that two new sections have been added for this introduction.) The introduction is divided into thirteen sections; the first is an introduction to the introduction, and oddly has no number or heading. I list here the number and heading of each of the remaining sections: (2) What was known about De spiritu? (3) What has been said about De spiritu in the modern era? (4) Critical evaluation of the modern debate; (5) Vital heat as the soul's multifunctional instrument in chapter 9; (6) Brief outline of the contents of De spiritu; (7) What positions are held by the author of De spiritu himself? (8) The position of De spiritu on the soul; (9) What is the position of 'Aristogenes' that the author of De spiritu contests? (10) Who are the opponents in De spiritu and who is 'Aristogenes'? (11) Conclusion; (12) The place of De spiritu in the Aristotelian Corpus; (13) From life-bearing breath to life-bearing spirit.

A few comments on the introduction: The brief outline (6) is quite useful. Sections (3) & (4) make clear how iconoclastic B/F's book is, demonstrate that the De spiritu is too often dismissed with insufficient argument, and show the need for a reevaluation of the nature, authenticity, and purpose of the DS. Section (2) is entirely insufficient; I quote it in full: "The title of a work 'On pneuma' is absent in the Greek lists of Aristotle's writings but is mentioned in the Arabic catalogue of Ptolemy el-Garib. Some modern authors believe that Galen and Pliny may have referred to De spiritu" (p. 3). In a note (n. 13) B/F quote Galen and cite Pliny, but surely more discussion is called for--especially as this could lend some support (however meager) to their case for authenticity. B/F devote a fair amount of time to a certain Aristogenes (see (9) and (10)), whose views are criticized in the DS. This is understandable, for if this Aristogenes is the third century BC medical writer (the view of Jaeger and Roselli6), the case for Aristotle as the author of DS is overthrown (as B/F are aware, see p. 71). B/F take a very different view, one that is consistent with their conviction that the DS is in large part a response to Plato's Timaeus: the author of DS "seems to identify 'Aristogenes' with Plato. He may have permitted himself a literary joke here, with 'Aristogenes' as a sly allusion to Plato, whose father was in fact called 'Ariston'" (p. 23). I don't find this terribly convincing.7 Finally, I think B/F should have reworked the introduction so that the concluding section--and not the antepenultimate one--was labeled "Conclusion."

As a prelude to my remarks on the translation, I want to register two (related) complaints. First, B/F nowhere provide a general discussion of the Greek text and manuscript tradition of DS, nor do they indicate which edition they are translating. (I assume Roselli's is their base text.) The failure to discuss the text is, I think, a mistake, especially given its poor state.8 Second, and more important, I think B/F's translation should have been accompanied by the Greek text. This would have made both the translation and the commentary more intelligible, and the whole volume more useful. An accompanying text (with notes) would also have been the most suitable vehicle for presenting B/F's own valuable suggested readings.9

I assume that B/F have, in their translation, favored fidelity to the Greek over elegant English. This is completely appropriate. Overall, this translation is superior (with respect to such fidelity) to Dobson's translation in the Oxford Aristotle and to Hett's in the Loeb Classical Library. Given B/F's approach, it is no surprise that the translation is at times awkward. Sometimes, however, it is more awkward than fidelity to the Greek demands. For example, in the opening line, I'm not sure "The innate pneuma, how does it maintain itself and grow?" is the most natural way to render: τίς ἡ τοῦ ἐμφύτου πνεύματος διαμονή καὶ τίς ἡ αὔξησις; I prefer something like "What is the <mode of> maintenance of the innate [or perhaps 'connate'] pneuma and what is its <mode of> growth?" (Dobson, revised). But I was pleased here and throughout that B/F transliterated πνεῦμα, instead of translating it "life-bearing spirit" (as they seem to do in the title of their book).

The 140-page commentary (on 18 pages of translation) is the most valuable part of the book. I found it especially useful in presenting parallel passages from the Corpus Aristotelicum. Further, B/F are generally quite effective in defending their translation and interpretation against those of other scholars. Naturally, B/F believe the commentary supports their interpretive aims: to demonstrate or support their view that the DS is authentic; that it is largely a response to "Plato and his predecessors" (to borrow from the subtitle); and that it contains a conception of pneuma that is significant and employed by Aristotle in his other writings.

Let me elaborate on this last. According to Aristotle, the male seed or semen (σπέρμα, γονή) contains water and pneuma, and this pneuma contains a special kind of heat--namely "soul-heat" (θερμότητα ψυχικήν) (GA 11, 762a20)--which works on the female contribution to generation (menses, καταμήνια) to give rise to a new living being. (See esp. GA II 2-3.) "It seems natural," B/F write, "to assume that there is more pneuma in a fully grown living creature than in the semen through which the creature was formed" (p. 2). I don't know that we should make such an assumption; but I do think it is natural to ask: is there "more pneuma in the fully grown living creature"? Other, related questions: What role does pneuma play in the fully grown living being? What is the relationship between pneuma and the soul? These are some of the questions that one must raise and attempt to answer in considering the authenticity of DS.10 Unfortunately, B/F's answers to these questions, and their case for the authenticity of DS generally, seem intimately (if at times, in the commentary, implicitly) connected to their (or Bos's) unorthodox (and to my mind implausible) view that pneuma (and not the body of a living being, as that is normally understood) is the body Aristotle has in mind in De Anima II 1 when he defines soul as the entelechy of a natural 'instrumental' body (see, e.g., p. 26).11

Nevertheless, this commentary is packed with useful discussions of the text, and should be of value to all those interested in the DS, regardless of whether they accept B/F's interpretation of it and its place in Peripatetic thought.12


1.   For example, J.F. Dobson opens the preface to his 1914 translation of DS (for the Oxford Aristotle edited by W.D. Ross) as follows: "This treatise has been rejected as spurious by practically all editors, one of the chief reasons being the confusion of the senses assigned to ἀρτηρία." Dobson is referring to the view that ἀρτηρία always refers to the windpipe in the genuine works of Aristotle, but to a kind of vein in DS. This is the view Balme challenges.
2.   Fortunately for us, he had already completed a great deal of work on the Historia Animalium: Aristotle's Historia Animalium VII-X, Loeb Classical Library (1991); Aristotle's Historia Animalium, Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, vol. I: Text (2002), and vol. II: Commentary, Books I-VII (forthcoming). These were all prepared for publication by Allan Gotthelf.
3.   Amneris Roselli, [Aristotele]: De spiritu (Pisa: ETS Editrice, 1992).
4.   One recent exception: Patrick Macfarlane, A Philosophical Commentary on Aristotle's De Spiritu (Duquesne University PhD Dissertation, 2007).
5.   A.P. Bos and R. Ferwerda, "Aristotle's De spiritu as a critique of the doctrine of pneuma in Plato and his predecessors," Mnemosyne 60 (2007) 565-88.
6.   Werner Jaeger, "Das Pneuma im Lykeion," Hermes 48 (1913), pp. 29-74; Roselli, [Aristotele]: De spiritu, pp. 76-79. (See B/F, p. 8 n. 24.)
7.   This interpretation of the identity of Aristogenes (that he is Plato) is related to a deeper point, namely, that DS is largely a response to Plato. This can be contrasted with the view that DS is best understood against the background of ancient Greek medicine--the approach of Roselli and Macfarlane.
8.   Which B/F recognize: "The Greek text of the work . . . leaves much to be desired" (p. 1). "Certainly De spiritu has places where the Greek text is corrupt" (p. 23).
9.   I noted about a dozen original readings. For example, at 481a8, where the manuscript tradition gives us οὐχ οὕτως (which is bracketed by Rosseli), B/F plausibly suggest reading ἐκείνως (see pp. 29 n.1, 54-55).
10.   Other important questions: Is there terminology in DS that post-dates the genuine works of Aristotle? Are there references or allusions to people and ideas that post-date the genuine works of Aristotle?
11.   See A.P. Bos, The Soul and its Instrumental Body: A Reinterpretation of Aristotle's Philosophy of Living Nature (Leiden: Brill, 2003).
12.   The book was well-produced. I noticed very few typographical errors. I'll merely mention one Dutch-ism, from p. 52: "The subject van γίνεται is 'food' (τροφή). . . ."

(read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
Dimitrios V. Grammenos, Elias K. Petropoulos (ed.), Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 (2 vols.). BAR International Series; 1675 (1-2). Oxford: Archaeopress, 2001. Pp. viii, 1262. ISBN 9781407301105. 140.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Valeriya Kozlovskaya, NYU ( Word count: 3724 words This two-volume publication is the second--and final--part of Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea, edited by D.V. Grammenos and E.K. Petropoulos.1 Both parts are collections of articles mostly presenting archaeological sites from classical antiquity located on the shores of the Black Sea. This work is unique in terms of its scale: there are twenty six articles in part one, published in 2003, and thirty four in part two. Many of the articles that discuss individual sites are written by the archaeologists who are in charge of the excavations at these sites. However, while the chronological and geographical scope of both parts is the same, the part under review embraces a wider range of topics (authors and titles of the chapters are listed at the end of the review). This second installment truly completes the project in that it provides coverage of the sites that were missing in part one and introduces some themes that were absent from the discussion. Many of the articles are quite long, and all of them are accompanied by extensive bibliographies. Moreover, almost every chapter contains either a short note about the author(s) or an entire CV, including authors' e-mail addresses, which some of the readers might find useful.

The structure of both parts of the publication is the same: the presentation of the sites in Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 also starts with the territory of modern Bulgaria and then continues in a clockwise direction around the Black Sea. The first two articles feature the sites of ancient Dionysopolis (by M. Damyanov, pp. 1-36) and Bizone (by A.E. Salkin, pp. 37-50), both located in the modern region of Dobrudzha. Each article provides a general introduction to the region and describes various aspects of its development, and then features the respective sites. The chapter on Dionysopolis, in particular, is very detailed: after an overview of the local geography and a discussion of the relevant written sources, it focuses on archaeological evidence (including epigraphical and numismatic finds) from the site and on some controversial issues associated with it. It also offers a summary of the previous scholarship on ancient Dionysopolis. The publication of this article is well timed in view of a recent discovery at the site: in 2007, construction work in modern Balchik revealed remains of a Greek temple, which was interpreted as a temple of Cybele, or Pontic Mother. The site is currently being excavated by a team from the Varna Archaeological Museum, and some preliminary reports have been published.2

The cult of Cybele, in general, is a prominent topic in this section of Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2. First, H. Todorova (pp. 175-238) presents a detailed account of the archaeological work at the Durankulak Lake--the territory that in antiquity was particularly associated with the goddess Cybele. In addition, a part of the chapter by Z. Gotcheva on the mythology and religion of the West-Pontic Greek colonies (pp. 51-84, in French) is devoted to the Great Mother Goddess in her various manifestations--Cybele, Demeter, etc. (pp. 72-6). The author also discusses other major deities (Apollo, Dionysus, the Great God) and cults (including Roman imperial cults), as well as two mythological stories relevant to the history of the region: the first story is that of Phineus, the blind prophet rescued by the Argonauts from the Harpies; the second concerns the city of Dionysopolis and the origins of its name. The latter part of the article, inevitably, also deals with the controversial question of the foundation of Dionysopolis, already addressed in the chapter by Damyanov.

The remaining two articles in this section are thematic, and each of them focuses on a number of sites rather than on an individual site. The chapter by I. Karayotov discusses monetary systems of Mesambria, Apollonia Pontica, Odessos, and Dionysopolis (pp. 127-238). The numismatic evidence presented by the author is organized by the type of coin, the date, and the place where it was issued. K. Panayotova offers an overview of funerary rites and types of burials attested in the necropoleis of the Greek settlements in the Western Black Sea region (pp. 85-126). The article is very informative, but a slight inconvenience is caused by the fact that the necropoleis discussed in the text are sometimes associated with settlement sites not featured in the publication: reports on some of them can be found in part one (Apollonia Pontica, Mesambria, and Odessos), but others are absent altogether.

The next section of the book also contains a piece on necropoleis: it takes us farther north along the western Black Sea coast to sites located in the territory of modern Romania. In the first part of her article, V. Lungu discusses the necropoleis of Histria, Orgame, Tomis, and Callatis (pp. 337-82, in French). She briefly introduces each site and presents archaeological evidence from the necropoleis, followed by conclusions on the demography and social composition of the populations of the respective settlements. In the second part of the chapter, the author summarizes her conclusions and defines the types of burial practices characteristic of the region as a whole. Detailed accounts on two of these settlement sites--Callatis (by A. Avram, pp. 239-86) and Tomis (by L. Buzoianu and M. Barbulescu, pp. 287-336)--can be found in the same volume, whereas Histria and Orgame featured in the 2003 publication. In general, the reports on individual sites throughout Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 often follow similar patterns, with some variations. Thus, the chapter on Callatis starts with a presentation of the site (including the history of the scholarship), and then proceeds to a discussion of the foundation of the colony, its coinage, institutions, cults, epigraphical documents, and rural territory. The same topics are covered in the article on Tomis, although here the authors chose a chronological approach, discussing the development of the city stage by stage.

The prosopographical study by V. Cojocaru (pp. 383-434, in French) serves as a transitional piece between this section and the rest of the volume, since the author employs evidence not only from West Pontic colonies, but also from sites in the Northwestern and Northern Black Sea regions. He discusses the question of ethnicity, based on his analysis of Greek and non-Greek names, as well as toponyms and ethnonyms, attested in epigraphical and literary sources. It is particularly interesting to consider his conclusions in connection with the material from various necropoleis published in the same volume.

The last section of volume one is devoted to the northwestern Black Sea coast: it contains seven articles on various sites located in the territory of modern Ukraine, some of which are virtually unknown to a western readership. The latter include, first of all, the sites in the Odessa region, discussed by Y.F. Redina (pp. 507-36), and those in the Lower Dnieper area, presented by N.A. Gavrilyuk and V.V. Krapivina (pp. 563-90). Many of these sites were only sporadically excavated and the results of the excavations have not always been published, not even in Ukrainian or Russian. Now the situation is changing for the better, partly because of the renewed interest in these sites (as in the case of the Odessa region, where archaeological work has been resumed at some places), and partly because of a noticeable shift in the general direction of local archaeological research, since more and more scholars seem to embrace a synoptic approach to the study of the region. This implies, inevitably, incorporation of non-Greek sites and closer collaboration between scholars of Classical antiquity and Scythologists, a fine example of which is the article by Krapivina and Gavrilyuk. The interest in interrelations between Greek and non-Greek populations in the area is further evident in another chapter by Gavrilyuk in the same section of the volume, where the author considers Greek imports in Scythia (pp. 627-76). So, despite its title, Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 also includes discussions of non-Greek populations and sites, and is thus a step forward in comparison to the first part of the publication, since it provides a more complete picture of the various Pontic regions.

The remaining four articles in this section focus on the four main sites on the northwestern Black Sea coast: Tyras (by T.L. Samoylova, pp. 435-70), Nikonion (by N.M. Sekerskaya, pp. 471-506), Olbia (by V.V. Krapivina, pp. 591-626), and the Island of Leuke (by S.B. Okhotnikov and A.S. Ostroverkhov, pp. 537-62). The chapters on Tyras and Nikonion follow, to a great extent, the standard pattern known from the other articles on individual sites in this volume. The authors start with the relevant ancient sources and the history of the scholarship, and then proceed to questions associated with the foundation of the city, followed by a presentation of the archaeological finds by category, and a discussion of the development of the city, stage by stage. The structure of the chapter on the Island of Leuke, however, is somewhat different, and this has to do with the nature of the site: there was no ancient settlement on Leuke, but it was home to a sanctuary of Achilles. Therefore, a large portion of the article is devoted to a discussion of the cult of Achilles and the relevant material evidence from the site. The part of the article that deals with the geology of the island is also very useful, especially in view of a recent dispute between Romania and Ukraine about the extent of their respective territorial waters, taken to the International Court of Justice in the Hague: Romania based its demands on the claim that the Island of Leuke is, in fact, not an island at all.

The chapter on Olbia in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, although very detailed and informative, would have been be more in place in the first part of the publication, which also contains other accounts on Olbia and its chora.3 The same can be said about the first two pieces of the second volume of Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2: the first article is about the chora of Chersonesus in the Western Crimea and the settlement of Kalos Limen in the Northwestern Crimea (by S.B. Lantsov and V.B. Uzhentzev, pp. 677-728), while the second discusses Roman Chersonesus (by V.M. Zubar, pp. 729-88). They both rather belong to the 2003 publication, which featured the site of Chersonesus.

The rest of the first section of volume two clearly includes articles on sites and topics that were--for whatever reason--left out of the corresponding section in the 2003 publication. Geographically, it covers the Northern Black Sea region (modern Ukraine and Russia); thematically, it includes lesser-known sites, as is evident from the title of one of the chapters--Small and poorly studied towns of the ancient Kimmerian Bosporos (by A.A. Maslennikov, pp. 855-96 )--an overview of several individual sites, some of which (such as Akra, for example) are also the subject of separate articles in either the first or the second part of the publication. In particular, this section features the settlements of Tyritake (by V.N. Zinko, pp. 827-54), Iluraton (by V.A. Gorontcharovskiy, pp. 897-926), Akra (by A.V. Kulikov, pp. 1023-56), Kimmerikon (by V.K. Golenko, pp. 1057-82), and Torikos (by A.A. Malyshev, pp. 927-50), all of which lay in the territory of the ancient Bosporan Kingdom. In addition, this section contains articles on non-Greek settlement and burial sites, such as Scythian Neapolis (by Yu.P. Zaytsev, pp. 789-826) and the necropolis of Kul Oba (by N.F. Fedoseev, pp. 979-1022). The latter, in particular, focuses on the history of the discovery and the subsequent study of the famous barrow of Kul Oba and other tumuli in the area, and it also includes a detailed catalogue and illustrations of the most important finds from Kul Oba. Clearly, these are articles that expand the scope of the volume beyond the Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast. The chapter by A.A. Malyshev (pp. 951-78) also belongs to this category: it discusses, in a more general way, Greek presence in the North Caucasus and the interactions between the Greeks and non-Greeks in this region, from the Archaic period to Roman times.

This theme is also prominent in the next section of the volume, which contains two articles on sites located in the territory of modern Georgia. V. Licheli (pp. 1083-142) offers an extensive overview of Hellenistic and early Roman Colchis and Iberia, with a discussion of the major sites, archaeological finds, and relevant scholarship. He also includes a catalogue of all sites in the region that yielded any Greek (or Greek-looking) material (pp. 1118-28). A large portion of the chapter is devoted to the phenomenon of multilingualism in Colchis and Iberia during the Hellenistic period and, in particular, to the origins of Georgian writing (pp. 1104-17), which makes the article interesting not only to scholars of Classical antiquity, but also to linguists (although the author particularly emphasizes that his work "does not claim the linguistic analysis") (p. 1104).

A. Kakhidze presents (pp. 1143-78) the archaeological complex at Pichvnari that includes several individual sites dating to various periods and attributed to various cultures. The subject of the article is the Greek necropolis of the Classical period, which is, according to the author, the only Greek burial site in the Caucasus. The settlement associated with this necropolis remains unknown, but a contemporaneous Colchian settlement with a necropolis was also discovered at Pichvnari. The author provides a detailed description of the archaeological finds from the Greek burials and draws some general conclusions on the means, goals, and stages of Greek colonization, both in this region and outside of it. However, not everyone will agree with these conclusions and the way in which the author presents them. For example, the part where the author claims that "contrary to the so-called emporial stage, trade was the result of the colonization, rather than determining its content" (p. 1159) would be more convincing if it contained some further explanation or at least references to other bibliographical sources. The latter also applies to the entire discussion of Athenian colonial practices (p. 1160), which culminates in the conclusion that the Greek settlement at Pichvnari must have been an Athenian colony.

The final section of Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 consists of three relatively short articles. The first is a survey of ancient Greek settlements in Eastern Thrace (by S. Atasoy, pp. 1179-94) and has the format of a reference work. The author briefly describes the region and then introduces the settlements, site by site, starting with the Black Sea coast, followed by the Marmara Sea and the Aegean Sea coasts, and finishing with the inland settlements located along ancient routes and roads in Eastern Thrace (modern Turkey). Each entry is accompanied by a short bibliography, and there is a slightly longer general list of bibliographical references at the end of the article. The second chapter covers three sites also located in the territory of modern Turkey, but on the southern coast of the Black Sea--Cotyora, Cerasus, and Trapezus (D.B. Erciyas, pp. 1195-1206). All three were colonies of Sinope and, as is evident from the article, all three are better known from the small number of pertinent literary sources than from archaeological remains (which are also not abundant). This situation is caused by a combination of factors, such as the location and accessibility of the sites (both Cotyora and Cerasus have been identified with more than one site, and some of these sites are presently located in a military zone) or the long history of habitation (as in Trapezus, where ancient layers are covered by multiple later settlements). The article by S. Dönmez (pp. 1207-20) focuses on the same part of the coastal zone and the corresponding inland area, but discusses non-Greek population groups and their interactions with each other and the Greeks.

The final piece of this volume--and, in fact, of the publication--is J. Bouzek's survey of Greek fine pottery in the Black Sea region (pp. 1221-62). The author briefly goes over the sites and areas on the Black Sea coasts where Greek pottery was found, providing bibliographies for ceramic finds from each site, and then describes in detail the main types and classes of pottery attested at these sites, period by period. This chapter serves as an excellent conclusion to the publication, not in the least because the author's short introduction to the survey is so introspective: he has devoted a large part of his life to the study of the subject and is in a position to share his observations about the long-term development of the field.

As mentioned earlier in this review, Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 provides an extensive bibliography on the subject, and this makes it an invaluable reference work. Unfortunately, these bibliographical references are not organized in the most effective way. Each article is accompanied not only by a list of references, but also by a list of abbreviations (and sometimes the latter and the former are compiled together). Some articles have bibliographical references incorporated into the footnotes; others have more than one bibliography--a short list after each part of the text (with references to the same publications appearing in more than one of these lists) and a longer one at the end of the chapter. Different authors seem to have followed different standards while compiling their bibliographies: some of the titles in Cyrillic are given in the original script, transliteration, and translation; others, in the original script and transliteration; still others, only in translation or only in transliteration. Admittedly, the bibliographies are mostly accurate, even if somewhat unconventionally organized and not uniform. The lists of abbreviations, on the other hand, seem to live a life of their own. Each individual list contains both standard abbreviations that are universally accepted (for periodicals, corpora, works of ancient authors, etc.) and abbreviations for major (and sometimes minor) local publications, which are usually not known outside a particular region or country. The former repeat, list after list, without any alteration and could have been omitted altogether; the latter, however, vary, since individual authors have often used different abbreviations for the same publications, and this can be rather confusing. To give just a few examples: A stands both for the Ukrainian periodical Arkheologia (p. 1042) and for the Bulgarian periodical under the same title (pp. 26, 111), while the latter also is to be found in its unabbreviated form in some other lists of abbreviations (p. 82). AGSP is used interchangeably for two different books--Antichnye gosudarstva Severnogo Prichernomor'ia (pp. 555, 705) and --Antichnye goroda Severnogo Prichernomor'ia (p. 111);4 moreover, nothing indicates that these titles stand for books and not periodicals, and in one list of abbreviations the first title even appears paired up with the publication year of the second title (p. 763), which makes it virtually impossible to trace the item for a reader who has never heard of either volume. Such inconsistencies are too numerous to be mentioned here in full, and they make the task of finding the listed titles more difficult than it should be.

Despite these shortcomings, Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2 is a valuable source of information on many sites that are either not well known or not well published (or both). Presently, there is no other publication in English (and probably not in any other language) that covers almost every single site around the Black Sea to such an extent. Together with part one that was published in 2003, it is more than enough to start one's research on this region. So, do not wait any longer--after all, you have 1262 pages and 34 articles to tackle!

V.1. Dionysopolis, its territory and neighbours in the pre-Roman times / Margarit Damyanov -- Bizone / Asen Emilov Salkin -- La Thrace Pontique et la mythologie grecque / Zlatozara Gotcheva -- Burial and post-burial rites in the necropoleis of the Greek colonies on the Bulgarian Black Sea Littoral / Krystina Panayotova -- Le monnayage de Messambria et les Monnayages d'Apollonia, Odessos et Dionysopolis / Ivan Karayotov -Durankulak - a Territorium Sacrum of the Goddess Cybele / Henrieta Todorova -- Kallatis / Alexandru Avram -- Tomis / Livia Buzoianu and Maria Barbulescu -- Necropoles grecques du Pont Gauche: Istros, Orgamé, Tomis, Callatis / Vasilica Lungu -- "L'histoire par les noms" dans les villes grecques de Scythie et Scythie Mineure aux VIe-Ier siècles av. J.-C. / Victor Cojocaru -- Tyras: the Greek City on the River Tyras / Tatyana Lvovna Samoylova -- The Ancient City of Nikonion / Natalya Mikhaylovna Sekerskaya -- Greek Settlements on the Shores of the Bay of Odessa and Adjacent Estuaries / Yevgeniya Fyodorovna Redina -- Achilles on the Island of Leuke / Sergey Borisovitch Okhotnikov and Anatoliy Stepanovitch Ostroverkhov -- Lower Dnieper Hillforts and the Influence of Greek Culture (2nd Century BC - 2nd Century AD) / Nadezhda Avksentyevna Gavrilyuk and Valentina Vladimirovna Krapivina -- Olbia Pontica in the 3rd-4th Centuries AD / Valentina Vladimirovna Krapivina -- Greek Imports in Scythia / Nadezhda Avksentyevna Gavrilyuk

V.2. Distant Chora of Taurian Chersonesus and the City of Kalos Limen / Sergey Borisovitch Lantsov and Vladimir Borisovitch Uzhentzev -- Tauric Chersonesus and the Roman Empire / Vitaliy Mikhalovich Zubar -- The Scythian Neapolis and Greek Culture of the Northern Black Sea Region in the 2nd century BC / Yuriy Pavlovitch Zaytsev -- Tyritake / Viktor Nikolaevitch Zinko -- Small and poorly studied towns of the ancient Kimmerian Bosporos / Alexander Alexandrovitch Maslennikov -- Iluraton: a Fortress of the 1st - 3rd centuries AD on the European Kimmerian Bosporos / Vladimir Anatolyevitch Gorontcharovskiy -- Torikos and the South-Eastern Periphery of the Bosporan Kingdom (7th C. BC - 3rd C. AD) / Alexey Alexandrovitch Malyshev -- Greeks in the North Caucasus / Alexey Alexandrovitch Malyshev -- The Necropolis of Kul Oba / Nikolay Fyodorovitch Fedoseev -- Akra and its chora / Alexey Vladislavovitch Kulikov -- Kimmerikon / Vladimir Konstantinovitch Golenko -- Hellenism and Ancient Georgia / Vakhtang Licheli -- Greek Necropolis of Classical Period at Pichvnari / Amiran Kakhidze -- Ancient Greek Settlements in Eastern Thrace / Sümer Atasoy -- Cotyora, Kerasus and Trapezus: The Three Colonies of Sinope / Deniz Burcu Erciyas -- The Central Black Sea region, Turkey, during the Iron Age: the Local Cultures and the Eurasian Horse-Riding Nomads / Sevket Dönmez -- Greek Fine Pottery in the Black Sea Region / Jan Bouzek Notes:

1. Part one, also in two volumes, was published with a different press: D.V. Grammenos, E.K. Petropoulos, Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea (2 vols.). Publications of the Archaeological Institute of Northern Greece, no. 4. Thessaloniki: Greek Ministry of Culture, 2003. For a review of this publication, see B. Bäbler, BMCR 2004.09.01.

2. I. Lazarenko, E. Mircheva, R. Encheva, and N. Sharankov, "Arkheologicheski razkopki v gr. Balchik, ul. 'Chaika' i ul. 'Gen. Zaimov' (obekt 'Khram na Pontiiskata Maika na bogovete')," in Arkheologicheski otkritiia i razkopki prez 2007 g. (Sofia 2008), 297-300; Minerva. The International Review of Ancient Art and Archaeology. July/August 2008 (vol. 19.4)

3. For more information on Olbia in English (including the 3rd and 4th centuries AD), see David Braund and S.D. Kryzhitskiy, Classical Olbia and the Scythian World (Oxford 2007)--an important collection, which appeared too late to be included in Krapivina's bibliography in Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea 2. For a review of this publication, see V. Kozlovskaya, JRA 22 (2009) (forthcoming).

4. G.A. Koshelenko, I.T. Kruglikova, and V.S. Dolgorukov (eds.), Antichnye gosudarstva Severnogo Prichernomor'ia (Moscow 1984); V.F. Gaidukevich and M.I. Maksimova (eds.), Antichnye goroda Severnogo Prichernomor'ia (Moscow-Leningrad 1955). (read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
Dominic Scott (ed.), Maieusis: Essays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. xi, 425. ISBN 9780199289974. $120.00.
Reviewed by John Dillon, Trinity College Dublin

This is indeed a most distinguished collection of essays, befittingly in honour of a most distinguished recipient. Myles Burnyeat has been for decades now acknowledged as one of the most outstanding minds of his generation in the area of ancient philosophy. Personally, I have always found him a formidable intellect to encounter, but one full of courtesy and consideration, as well as restlessly interested in corners of the ancient intellectual world with which he might not previously have concerned himself, such as later Neoplatonism, but on which he could always bring acute insights to bear.

This collection reflects many, though not all, of his interests, starting from Platonic epistemology and ethics, and extending forward to Aristotle and Hellenistic thinkers. Of the nineteen contributors, seven (Hankinson, Harte, Hobbs, Johansen, Lane, Notomi, and the editor, Dominic Scott, are former students), while of the others, another seven (Sorabji, Denyer, Lloyd, McCabe, Schofield, Sedley, Wardy) are former colleagues at London or Cambridge, the remaining five (Barnes, Bobzien, Broadie, Cooper, Nehamas) being friends and collaborators from elsewhere. One can see from this roll-call what a feast of philosophical speculation is in store for the reader.

I will first list the papers in order, and then make some comments upon them:

1. Mary Margaret McCabe, 'Looking Inside Charmides' Coat: Seeing Others and Oneself in Plato's Charmides'.
2. John M. Cooper, 'Socrates and Philosophy as a Way of Life'.
3. Melissa Lane, 'Virtue as the Love of Knowledge in Plato's Symposium and Republic'.
4. David Sedley, 'Equal Sticks and Stones'.
5. Nicolas Denyer, 'The Phaedo's Final Argument'.
6. Alexander Nehamas, 'Beauty of Body, Nobility of Soul: The Pursuit of Love in Plato's Symposium'.
7. Dominic Scott, 'Eros, Philosophy, and Tyranny'.
8. Robert Wardy, 'Virgil's Sacred Duo: Phaedrus' Symposium Speech and Aeneid IX'.
9. Angela Hobbs, 'Plato on War'.
10. Verity Harte, 'Language in the Cave'.
11. Malcolm Schofield, 'Metaspeleology'.
12. Sarah Broadie, 'Why no Platonistic Ideas of Artefacts?'
13. Noburu Notomi, 'Plato on What is Not'.
14. Thomas Johansen, 'The Soul as an Inner Principle of Change: The Basis of Aristotle's Psychological Naturalism'.
15. Suzanne Bobzien, 'Aristotle's De Interpretatione 8 is about Ambiguity'.
16. Jonathan Barnes, 'Sextan Scepticism'.
17. G.E.R. Lloyd, 'The Wife of Philinus, or the Doctors' Dilemma: Medical Signs and Cases and Non-deductive Inference'.
18. R.J. Hankinson, 'Self-Refutation and the Sorites'.
19. Richard Sorabji, 'Ideas Leap Barriers: The Value of Historical Studies to Philosophy'.

The volume is completed by a valuable list of Burnyeat's publications, and a set of indices.

This is a formidable line-up, on an admirably well-connected sequence of topics. By way of beginning, M.M. McCabe focuses on the argument of Charmides 166-9, and the distinction between 'knowledge of the self' and 'self-knowledge'. She has most stimulating remarks to make on the status of perception. This is followed by a useful discussion by John Cooper, taking off from Pierre Hadot's writings on philosophy as a way of life in antiquity, which shows how this conception properly goes back to Socrates, for whom "it consisted in constant and continued philosophizing: that is to say, in discussion and critical examination of one's own and others' opinions on questions of human life, and how best to lead it" (p.42). This is turn leads well into the essay of Melissa Lane, taking off from a remark of Alexander Nehamas that there is a paradox in respect of Socrates, in that Plato regards him as perhaps the best (i.e. most virtuous) man who ever lived, but virtue, on his own account, requires knowledge, and this Socrates denies that he possesses. Lane's solution is most plausible: Socrates may be regarded as possessing the natural virtues, as set out (by himself) in Republic VI, 485a- 487a.

On a rather different tack, David Sedley and Nicholas Denyer address various aspects of the doctrine of Forms in the Phaedo. Sedley analyses in detail the argument from physical 'equals' to the Equal Itself at 74a9-c6, with sound remarks on the conundrum of auta ta isa at 74c. Denyer takes on the 'final argument' (95e-107a), showing it to be rather more persuasive than it is often taken to be. I still do not see, though, that anything more is proven than that soul in general cannot perish; the specific soul of Socrates is another matter.

Changing the subject yet again, Alexander Nehamas treats us to an extended (37pp.) and thought-provoking meditation on the theory of Beauty in the Symposium, and in particular the implications of the ladder of ascent to the Beautiful Itself. I quite agree with him, as against Gregory Vlastos, that the philosophic lover does not just exploit and then discard his beloved boy as he 'ascends', despite some rather misleading language by Plato; while in a somewhat complementary essay, Dominic Scott makes the interesting point that the philosopher and the tyrant, while polar opposites, are both extremists, as being in the grip of one or other form of eros, and thus both essentially anti-social; which is why the philosopher has to be forced to return to the Cave.

The sequence continues with a fine meditation by Angela Hobbs on whether Plato regards war as inevitable in human society. She concludes, I think correctly, that in an ideal world where all states were run by philosopher-kings warlike impulses would be transcended, but admits that anywhere short of that, Plato envisages war, and prepares for it.

There follow two stimulating essays on aspects of the Cave analogy in the Republic. Verity Harte focuses on the intriguing problem of the language of the prisoners -- what they talk about, to what objects they are referring (e.g. how do they know to refer to the shadow of a model of an ox as 'ox'?). In all this she perhaps presses Plato's allegory rather harder than he intended, but her discussion is no less interesting for that. Malcolm Schofield, for his part, tries to disentangle two strands of allegory that Plato is combining here: a critique of the democratic polis and an analysis of the sense-perceptible realm.

Following these, we have a number of essays which, while still concerning Plato, move beyond him into a discussion of Aristotle and the Academy. Sarah Broadie, starting from the Aristotelian critique of the Ideas, wonders why Plato and his successors rejected the possibility of Ideas of artifacts, and doubts that Xenocrates' 'eternalist' interpretation of the Timaeus is an improvement over a more literal, 'creationist', version. I must say I don't see the force of this; Xenocrates' demythologized Nous-Monad seems to me just as coherent a concept as Aristotle's Unmoved Mover.

Noburu Notomi addresses the question of Not-Being as it is set out in the Sophist, developing creatively the 'joint illumination' or 'parity assumption' first identified by G.E.L. Owen. For Notomi, the structural parity of the arguments about 'what is not' and 'what is' is more than a mere literary device; it is the key to understanding what Plato is doing in the dialogue. He ends, interestingly, by seeking some enlightenment on the unspeakability of 'what is not' from Damascius, that master of ineffability from later antiquity.

With Thomas Johanssen we turn to Aristotle. Starting from one of Myles Burnyeat's seminal articles, that on 'De Anima II 5' (Phronesis 47 [2002]), he gives a convincing account of how the soul is the efficient cause even in the case of perception, where this honour might seem to be accorded to the external object. Still on Aristotle, Suzanne Bobzien, on a logical topic, sets out to argue, against such authorities as John Ackrill and C.W.A. Whitaker, that De Interpretatione 8 is in fact concerned with homonymy, and specifically, homonymy as it may occur in dialectical arguments; and I think she proves her point.

Bobzien in an end-note thanks Jonathan Barnes for 'incisive comments' on her paper; and the next paper is a characteristically lively effort by Barnes himself, dissecting the specific features of the skepticism professed by Sextus Empiricus in the Outines of Pyrrhonism. Barnes has a rather poor opinion of Sextus' consistency, and he makes a persuasive case.

We have next a fine essay from Geoffrey Lloyd, also taking off from an article of Burnyeat's ('The Origins of Non-Deductive Inference'), studying the use of arguments that are less than syllogistically valid, in that still neglected body of works (but one which Lloyd had made his own) the Hippocratic Corpus. The details of various patients' urine samples, including those of the wife of Philinus, hardly make jolly reading, but the analysis of the texts is superb. This is followed in turn by a most useful essay by R.J. Hankinson on the Sorites argument and its importance -- or more precisely, the importance of its refutation -- for Stoic logic. I must say I rather like what I take to be Chrysippus' suggestion (reported by Sextus, p. 360) that the Sage, faced with a Sorites, will at a certain stage simply keep silent -- though I'm not sure if that entirely solves the problem!

The collection is rounded off by a most stimulating meditation by Richard Sorabji on the transferability and preservation of philosophical concepts, drawing on his own vast experience and his many conversations with the honorand. His conclusion that philosophy does not 'advance' like a science, but more in the way that art might be seen to do-- a thought borrowed from Burnyeat (p. 389) -- fittingly brings this excellent volume to a close.

The list of Burnyeat's publications at the end is also most useful to have, and remind us what the world of ancient philosophy owes him.

(read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
Joel C. Relihan, The Prisoner's Philosophy. Life and Death in Boethius's Consolation. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007. Pp. xiv, 222. ISBN 978-0-268-04024-6. $30.00 (pb).
Reviewed by John Casey, Northeastern Illinois University

Joel Relihan's The Prisoner's Philosophy: Life and Death in Boethius's Consolation serves as a sequel of sorts to his Ancient Menippean Satire (Johns Hopkins, 1993) in which he argued that Boethius's Consolation belongs to the genre of Menippean satire. This is to say that it is both "philosophical and ironic" in that it "presents and undermines" an intellectual synthesis (x-xi). The Prisoner's Philosophy expands on that thesis and rethinks some of the methods, definitions, and interpretive practices of Ancient Menippean Satire. The present text argues, in particular, that the Consolation is a decidedly Christian work that "dramatizes" the limits of pagan philosophy and that it belongs to a Platonic tradition (stretching back to the Crito) which culminates in 12th Century Christian Platonism (ix). Relihan defends this thesis (1) by "intensive appeal to the details of plot and structure," (2) by careful attention to the other traditions and texts visible in it; (3) and by reference to the subsequent interpretive tradition. For those readers who see the Consolation as a collection of interesting philosophical arguments wrapped up in the narrative of Boethius's last days, The Prisoner's Philosophy will prove to be both a revelation and a challenge.

One might view the central thesis of The Prisoner's Philosophy in two ways. On the one hand, it is a detailed, comprehensive, yet approachable synthesis of the broader philosophical, literary, and historical sources and context of Boethius's most well-known work. It argues that the Consolation belongs decisively to the genre of Menippean satire, a genre whose primary function, Relihan argues, is to uncover the limits of theoretical knowledge. The first six or so chapters of the book build the case for this reading of the Consolation by examining various aspects of the genre at work in Boethius's text. Relihan knows his subject, and, as a result, the reader can expect to learn much from this side of the text.

On the other hand, The Prisoner's Philosophy argues that the Consolation is at heart a Christian work. Relihan argues, in fact, that Boethius employs the genre of Menippean Satire in order to deliver a fundamentally Christian message. To put this somewhat starkly, the failure of theory borne out by the genre considerations of Menippean satire, points, for Boethius, to the alternative of prayer, specifically Christian prayer, which notion closes the Consolation. Relihan builds his case for this reading alongside his case for taking the Consolation as Menippean satire. Despite their being intertwined, they are, fortunately I think, partially separable theses. In other words, one might profitably read The Prisoner's Philosophy's exploration of the Menippean elements of the Consolation without embracing the rather more ambitious claims that the Consolation seeks to deliver a Christian message. That reading, of course, would leave open the question of what the critique of theory was for in the first place.

The Prisoner's Philosophy is organized in series of relatively short, almost independent, chapters. Each covers a narrow aspect of the text, the genre, or the textual reception. Relihan's lively mind, broad scholarship and attention to source material makes summary difficult. Having said that, the structure of the chapters would make it possible to read the book out of order (and I don't mean this as a criticism). I would suggest in fact reading the later chapters first, as they make more decisive arguments for the second, and more ambitious, thesis (which the first chapters often only suggest obliquely).

The text opens with a discussion of the genre of Menippean satire. For Relihan, Menippean Satire is fundamentally a parody of scientific knowledge rather than polyphony--i.e., the combination of prose and verse, fantasy and morality (xi). Menippean Satire, in other words, consists in uncovering the limits of theoretical knowledge to explain "irrational human behavior." Relihan isn't unaware of the post-modern ring to that claim, but he labors to show that his notion of Mennipean satire is thoroughly grounded in the ancient textual tradition. For this reason the first chapter develops the notion of Menippean satire with reference to the ancient tradition in Fulgentius and in Martianus Capella's Marriage of Mercury and Philology as well as the Consolation itself. Relihan's conception of Menippean Satire rests on four unfulfilled promises, as he calls them, in the Consolation: (1) it's a consolation, but there's no consoling; (2) self-realization is promised but never achieved; (3) Philosophy promises to lead the narrator to a true homeland, but never does; (4) harsher medicines are promised, but never given. These "absences, omissions, and frustrations of expectation" must be seen, Relihan argues, as central to the interpretation of the text (4).

Having explained the general perspective on the Consolation, the subsequent chapters pursue the details. Chapter two argues that, as far as Philosophy is concerned, the Consolation is effectively finished at the end of Book III. But Boethius is unsatisfied and in the remaining two books forces Philosophy into an interrogatory exchange which ends up undermining her project. We see this in the contrast between the God of benign providence of Book III, the final cause to which Boethius must attune himself, and the God of the final two books, who as an efficient cause orders and foresees everything that will come about. In light of this contrast, books IV and V of the Consolation, according to Relihan, are digressions meant to keep Philosophy from achieving her stated goals. They are, in short, the ironic undermining of the work of Philosophy (21). Relihan then argues that Boethius frustrates Philosophy and forces her to admit the legitimacy of prayer--in his view, a Christian theme--as a way of accessing God. So the irony, or rather one of the ironies, of the Consolation is that it begins as a consolation of knowledge which it ends up rejecting.

In addition to undermining Philosophy's theoretical enterprise, another Menippean feature of the Consolation is the collision of the universal and the particular. Chapter three exposes the tension between the universal philosophical and the particular autobiographical aspects of the Consolation. This tension comprises part of the paradoxical or ironic structure of the text as a text about the production of a text. The universal and the particular collide on purpose. The universal genre of the Consolation collides with the particular consolation of Boethius the person; the universality of philosophical consolation is rejected in the affirmation of the particularity of supplicant prayer. Philosophy--the universal and theoretical--is frustrated by the specific and practical. The writing of the text is taken out of Philosophy's hands.

Chapter four considers the place of the text within the genre of Consolation. Relihan runs through some of the typical features of the consolation genre and how Boethius both assumes and violates them. Among these features are the necessity of consolation (on account of "melancholy"), the two-part structure of the text, the proposed universal nature of the cure, and the doctor-patient relationship. But Boethius frustrates these genre expectations. Relihan argues that one can only see this as intentional, in a number of respects. To give a few examples, the "consolation" really never happens; Boethius is never consoled. The second part of the text undermines the universal view typical of consolations; Boethius refuses (again in the second part) to take the philosophical escape of the Platonic style consolatory text (cf. Phaedo) and he remains perpetually interested in worldly problems. In particular, the first part of the text gives the providential picture of fortune and fate in a world wisely governed, moving toward its final cause. But Boethius rejects this philosophical picture, Relihan argues, with his persistent interest in the coherence of this wise governance with the possibility of human freedom (his interest in human freedom being "worldly").

The tensions between the personal and the universal play out on the narrative level as well. Relihan argues, in Chapter five, that Boethius peppers the consolation with puzzlingly false or misleading narrative elements, whose presence resists Philosophy's desire to depersonalize, to offer a universal cure. Indeed, at this point in the text one begins to notice with more urgency the Christian aspect of Relihan's thesis. One might also be mindful of the marked absence of overt references to Christianity or to Christian themes. It is, of course, well known that Boethius, the person, intervened in several Christian debates (he wrote, after all, five tractates on theology and was known to have intervened in other religious debates). So why the reticence? Relihan holds that this reticence is more than a matter of style; rather the Consolation is "the author's less-than-perfect accounting of himself" which points, very much on purpose, to that which is missing--and what is missing is any mention of religion.

The intellectual journey of the Consolation recalls the Odyssey; it is an epic journey (of an intellectual kind of course) in which the protagonist resists temptations, faces challenges, and so forth, to return home. There is, however, a twist. Philosophy, who represents Death, points out the route home, but Boethius refuses. Consistent with the genre of Menippean satire (cf. Lucian, Seneca, Martianus Capella), Boethius journeys to the Land of the Dead, and comes back alive (78). He is filled with "otherworldly wisdom," which he uses as reason to return to the world. This underscores, according to Relihan, the Christian elements in the Consolation. Philosophy's teaching has "converted the prisoner from her teachings." That practically nothing Christian has been explicitly expressed in the Consolation should come as no surprise; Odysseus, after all, spends most of his time trying (and failing) to reach his destination. The last part of this chapter systematically restates Relihan's rereading of the Consolation as consisting in a series of four "redirections." (1) In the first lines of the work, the epic genre of consolation is redirected by an elegiac poem (84); (2) Philosophy redirects the genre to philosophical dialogue (85); (3) Philosophy changes her diagnosis of the prisoner; (4) the prisoner interrupts Philosophy's argument. One final redirection, Relihan argues, is Christianity. This consists in the prisoner's final refusal to exult in Philosophy's exhortation to "return with Philosophy to the homeland that she had in mind" (91) and his insistence on prayer as a means of accessing God.

The rest of the text continues to look beyond the Consolation itself for clues to its interpretation. Chapter seven considers some of the textual parallels to the Consolation. Relihan begins with the Crito, arguing that the Consolation is an ironic retelling of the Crito story. He then proceeds to discuss Lucian (some dialogues involving Philosophy as an interlocutor) and Agathias Scholasticus as parallels, and Fulgentius (Mythologies), Maximian (Elegies) and Isidore of Seville (Synonyma) for the reception of the Consolation.

Chapter eight involves an author substitution. William E. Heise, a former student of Relihan's, takes up the question of the "Menippean Boethius in the Personification Allegories of the Middle Ages." Despite the change in author, the chapter addresses a critical objection to the first of Relihan's theses: namely that the Middle Ages betrays little if any sense of the Menippean elements of the Consolation. Not so, argues Heisse. And he goes on to point out Menippean elements in several key medieval "personification allegories." Medieval authors, Heisse argues, were certainly aware of what Boethius was doing. Among the works he considers are Dante's Paradiso (especially his discussion of Boethius vis à vis the fate of Siger of Brabant), Alan of Lille's Complaint of Nature (Nature is limited), Jean de Meun's Roman de la Rose (personification of reason is confounded), William Langland Piers Plowman (personification of the Holy Church).

The last chapter takes up questions related to the place, or should I say the absence, of Christianity in Boethius's Consolation. What is, one might wonder, the religion of Boethius? Why is it hidden in the Consolation? More importantly, what would it mean, after all, to call the Consolation a Christian work, as Relihan has been aiming to do in this text? The short answer is that, taking Wisdom literature as his inspiration, Boethius has co-opted a secular tradition for religious ends--he uses the limitations of philosophy to make a religious point. The frustration of the Prisoner with Philosophy points to the alternative of humble Christian prayer. The textual key for this reading, Relihan argues, lies in language which echoes Job and the book of Esther, as well as other admittedly more tenuous religious elements (such as the Lord's Prayer) (130), and a reference to hidden treasure reminiscent of Matthew 13.44 (133). That these religious clues are hidden underscores, rather than negates, the religious attitude of the prisoner. Each one of these elements itself suggests a theme of hiddenness. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Boethius chose them as his points of religious reference.

This brings us back to the two theses of The Prisoner's Philosophy. The first thesis, that the Consolation is Boethius's unique and compelling conception of Menippean satire, rests in particular on the inability of Philosophy to attain her objective and the resistance of the prisoner to her various remedies (among other things). If Boethius' Menippean satire consists in his frustrating the expectations of genre, then I think Relihan has made a powerful case. Will it be powerful enough to sway those who would be inclined to view these genre considerations as window-dressing for an interesting discussion of Divine foreknowledge, the problem of evil, human freedom (and much else)? Probably not, because Relihan is decidedly unconcerned with the actual arguments with which many other readers of the Consolation are solely preoccupied. He has done little, in other words, to bring in likely skeptics. This doesn't mean that skeptics won't have a lot they can take away from The Prisoner's Philosophy. A heightened attention to the literary detail of Boethius's work makes for a richer appreciation of the text itself, even if it ignores the arguments. One can always add those oneself. One shouldn't have to choose.

Convincing a narrowly philosophical reader of the presence and significance of Menippean elements in Boethius's Consolation is one thing, getting that same reader to see them as an argument for a Christian reading of this text is quite another. I suspect I wouldn't be alone in finding the claim that the Consolation is a decisively Christian work to be a rather weak one. I say this not only because the evidence for any religious interpretation is purposely thin--indeed, some of the evidence for this reading consists in there not being evidence for it. That there may be a religious feature to the Consolation doesn't strike me as strange, that that religious aspect is uniquely Christian, as Relihan stresses throughout the text, seems fairly groundless.

In the first place, one might indeed see the Consolation as undermining academic theorizing, but not at the same time see an affirmation of anything else than its failure. Philosophy may indeed fail, but that doesn't mean religion succeeds. Besides, considering the ironic tone implicit in the frustration of expectations, perhaps the affirmation of prayer at the end merely underscores Philosophy's failure. After all, many of Plato's dialogues end in the failure to find a suitable definition of the concept under consideration. They do not result in the abandonment of the project.

Second, even if one were to concede there might be a reasonable religious interpretation to the Consolation, there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that religion is specifically Christian. Throughout the text, Relihan insists on a specifically Christian character to this religion, but he does not alert the reader to the meaning of this claim. Christianity, after all, for Boethius might be something rather different from how one might imagine it was. And for this reason I might suggest reading the last chapter for some--not much--guidance on Relihan's sense of what it would this claim might mean. While indeed it is surprising that Boethius seems to have little to say about religion, in particular the Christian religion, in the Consolation, given his background as a participant in Christian religious controversies, one might expect a possible reference to Christianity on his part to be a little more theologically rich than Relihan suggests.

Fortunately, however, The Prisoner's Philosophy does not dwell single-mindedly on the Christianity, as it may be, of Boethius at work in the text. There is enough, I think, in the discussion of the Consolation as Menippean satire--with the consequent implications for the interpretation of the text--to make Relihan's book well worth reading.

(read complete article)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Pantelis Golitsis, Les commentaries de Simplicius et de Jean Philopon à la "Physique" d'Aristote: tradition et innovation. Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca et Byzantina. Quellen und Studien; Bd. 3. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. Pp. ix, 306. ISBN 9783110195415. $118.95.
Reviewed by Robert B. Todd

For Simplicius of Cilicia (ca. 480-ca. 540 A.D.), pagan antiquity's last major Platonist and its greatest philosophical scholar, the year 2008 was a good one. Han Baltussen published a pioneering and wide-ranging account of his methodology,1 while Alan Bowen completed a richly annotated translation of the astronomical material from the commentary on the De caelo.2 Finally, in the volume under review (part of de Gruyter's new series on the Aristotelian tradition) Pantelis Golitsis has, despite his title, dealt with the "tradition" upheld by Simplicius more extensively than the "innovation" introduced by his contemporary, the anti-Aristotelian Christian John Philoponus (ca. 490-ca. 570 A.D.).

This monograph emanates from a 2006 Paris 'thèse de doctorat' on the interpretation of Aristotle's Physics from late antiquity to the Byzantine period, and like some well-known papers by one of its supervisors, Philippe Hoffmann, it aims to put material occasioned by Aristotelian exegesis into a context that more adequately reflects a commentator's individual projects. In this vein it primarily focuses on digressions, that is, passages in which Simplicius and Philoponus expressed views in a more discursive and original fashion than when commenting on successive parts of the text (lêmmata).

Pt. 1 (chs. 1-3: 7-80) covers (1) the intellectual and institutional careers of the commentators; (2) their general conception of the Physics and their exegetical methodology; and (3) their sources and their assimilation of the earlier Greek philosophical tradition. Simplicius dominates chs. 2 and 3, which amount to a more concise version of the main thrust of Baltussen's study, in which "particular emphasis" (Baltussen, p. 8) is also placed on Simplicius' commentary on the Physics.

Pt. 2 (chs. 4-6: 83-280) surveys the digressions first in general terms (83-88), then by analysing seventeen that cover fourteen topics (89-195), with just four from Philoponus. A brief conclusion (196-203) precedes an appendix of clear, accurate, and annotated translations of thirteen passages (207-280), two of which are from Philoponus. The ancillary material (bibliography; indices of names ancient and modern, and of terms and loci) is unusually well presented.

Ch. 1 points up the contrast between the two commentators' careers and exegetical procedures. Simplicius, faced in 529 with the closure of the philosophical schools at Athens, where he had migrated from Alexandria, became "un maître sans école," a status that helps explain the "purely literary" (22; cf. 18) character of his commentaries as detailed compilations rich in source material rather than the product of oral presentation.3 Golitsis wisely follows others in rejecting any definitive hypothesis about Simplicius' final post-Athenian location, while allowing that he was "isolé peut-être en Syrie" (203), maybe in an exiles' collective (21-22). Philoponus, by contrast, published commentaries derived from lectures, but in the case of that on the Physics was sharply critical of Aristotle. Golitsis joins the growing consensus (27 n. 82) that rejects Koenraad Verrycken's elaborate theory4 that this critique represents a revision of an earlier version of this commentary that had been derived from his education at Alexandria under the pagan Ammonius. Ch. 2 shows that the learned Simplicius gave more attention than Philoponus to the various "headings" (kephalaia) under which commentators classified treatises (goal, title, structure, ordering, authenticity, utility), while Ch. 3 discusses how Simplicius, unlike Philoponus (65 with n. 1), offered detailed documentation of earlier Greek philosophy and used the original works of earlier commentators.

As a whole, Pt. 1 offers a good orientation, well documented and helpfully enriched, as is the whole book, by generous amounts of quoted Greek, which is, with a few minor exceptions, translated. Particularly noteworthy are the two codas on, respectively, the method of reading the text for its meaning (its nous) rather than its literal sense (its lexis) (55-57), and on commentary as "recomposition." (58-64). In the second case the two commentators' dependency on Alexander of Aphrodisias' lost commentary on the Physics is shown to derive in Philoponus' case from Ammonius' teaching whereas Simplicius used Alexander's text directly. But to illustrate the nature of such dependency Golitsis helpfully juxtaposes (at 62-64) passages from Asclepius' commentary on the Metaphysics with their sources in Alexander's commentary, an exercise impossible for Simplicius' Physics commentary due to the loss of Alexander's commentary. As Golitsis notes (64), a commentator's originality is circumscribed by reliance on such inherited material, which can often go unacknowledged. Hence the significance of this study's focus on digressions, since, as in rhetorical practice generally, these afford an opportunity for more independent thought.

Pt. 2 opens with a nuanced sketch of a typology ("esquisse d'une typologie") (Ch. 4) of the digressions that are to be analysed and translated. While digressions are self-conscious deviations from textual exegesis, they can also be more autonomous segments of text, such as Simplicius' refutation of Philoponus' treatise Contra Aristotelem (described as an "excursus" on p. 4, but appended to a list of digressions at p. 86), and asides such as his discussion of the theological dimension of physics (1359.5-1360.23), part of a comment on Phys. 267b17-26 but involving a "harmonizing" comparison of Aristotle and Plato. That there should be some ragged edges in defining this sub-genre is perhaps inevitable, and Golitsis extends it to include texts like the lengthy Corollaria on time, place and void in Simplicius, and on place and void in Philoponus, which are more like mini-treatises.

Such digressions, I would note, are not without precedents in the Aristotelian exegetical tradition, and perhaps have a forerunner in Plato's self-conscious remarks at Theaetetus 177b7-c2. Thus the fourth century commentator Themistius includes a digression on the concepts of matter and the substrate in his paraphrase of Physics 1.7, while in his paraphrase of De Anima 3.5 he offers an independent and discursive account of the intellect, in which he seeks to harmonize material from Plato, Aristotle and Theophrastus to support an interpretation coloured in places by neoplatonic language.5 The CAG editors failed to identify these digressions, just as Hermann Diels failed to isolate several of the Simplician digressions discussed here (Golitsis, 85).

But digressions matter most for their content and purpose. Golitsis (87-88) divides the genus digression into the species of the "harmonizing", the "scientific", and the "polemical." The first two of these dichotomize the texts analysed in Ch. 5, with a Philoponan polemic on the eternity of time (124-127; 274-276) added to the first group to identify this commentator's non-harmonizing program. The passages translated in the Appendix are mostly from the digressions that involve harmonization. The "scientific" digressions on matter, place, void, time, the general theory of nature, and the case of contra-natural motion involved in Philoponus' impetus theory6 receive more analysis (127-195) but less translation (just 240-251 on nature, and 277-280 on the impetus theory).7 This "scientific" material has received considerable attention in the recent past, with the exception perhaps of the theory of nature (139-149; 240-251), where Aristotle is taken to task by both Philoponus (147-149) and Simplicius.

Ch. 5 and the Appendix are in effect a source book (supported, for example, by meticulous outlines; see 96, 131-132, 141, 152, 169, 175, 191), complete on the topic of harmonization, but unfortunately incomplete on the aforementioned topics in physical theory. In the Appendix the translations are arranged in a different order from the items in ch. 5 and have markedly different titles; they might just as well have been appended to the relevant analyses, if only to avoid lengthy quotations in ch. 5 being repeated in the Appendix.

The digressions on harmonization ("les digressions 'concordistes'") are unquestionably the most important and valuable part of this study. The goal of reconciling Aristotle with Plato goes back to Antiochus of Ascalon in the first century B.C., and has been the subject of two recent studies.8 Golitsis offers what must be the first detailed treatment of the most important evidence in Simplicius for a practice also found in his standard "lemmatized" exegesis.9 He shows that harmonization is not just a way of reconciling Plato and Aristotle on a topic such as "mouvement" (kinêsis; 108-121; 252-262), where differences can be seen as superficial, but can also be a device for embracing the earlier Greek tradition in natural philosophy (89-100; 207-219). This is notably so in case of Parmenides (100-108; 220-231), with whom Simplicius' engagement is seen not merely as generating those much studied quotations in Diels-Kranz but as having been part of a creative exercise in self-definition (108). Of particular interest is Simplicius' "harmonizing" reconstruction of Aristotle's account of tukhê in religious terms (108-114; 252-258).

Ch. 6 and its coda (202-203) offer a comparison and contrast: Philoponus is seen as liberated by his Christian beliefs from adherence to the pagan philosophical tradition, Simplicius as seeking to sustain that tradition in a strongly personal project. But this familiar polarization now rests on the neglected evidence of the digressions so that the main objective ("objet principal") of this study, that of putting the digressions into relief ("la mise en relief des digressions") (3), is duly realized. Simplicius is perhaps implicitly privileged by the amount of attention he receives, for if Philoponus is, as has been claimed, "philosophically the most brilliant of all the commentators",10 this is not how he emerges in a study in which he tends to be used as a foil for Simplicius,11 albeit to good effect at 196-201 on exegetical methodology, and which ends (200-201) with an eloquent appreciation of the Simplician project of using digressions as an exercise that leads to truth.

Golitsis has, then, provided a valuable account of some central issues in the study of two major Aristotelian commentators, and in particular has made Simplicius' unique contribution to the practice of harmonization more easily understood and appreciated. One must hope that he will soon manage to fill the hiatuses left by the present study.


1. H. Baltussen, Philosophy and Exegesis in Simplicius: the methodology of a commentator (London, 2008). A review is forthcoming in BMCR. My review will appear in Aestimatio.

2. See A.C. Bowen, "Simplicius' Commentary on Aristotle, De caelo 2.10-12: an annotated translation," Sciamus 4 (2003) 23-58, completed at Sciamus 9 (2008) 25-131.

3. Alexander's commentaries can be similarly characterized; see R.W. Sharples, "The School of Alexander?", in R. Sorabji (ed.), Aristotle Transformed (London, 1990), 95-97, to be added to the references at 60 n. 75, where the fortuna of the Alexandrian method of commenting is traced to Simplicius via Proclus (cf. also 57).

4. See his "The Development of Philoponus' Thought and its Chronology," in Aristotle Transformed (preceding note), 233-274.

5. See Themistius, In Physica, 25.24-27,13 (from which 26,12-24 is cited at Golitsis, 71 n. 21), which has (27.12-13) the formulaic conclusion used in various genres, as a TLG search confirms, namely, "back to the point from which we digressed" (επανιτέον ὅθεν εξέβημεν), which Golitsis, 86 n. 9, quotes from Philoponus as though it was original with him. On the intellect see Themistius, In De anima 102.30-109.3.

6. Regarding the secondary literature on this theory Golitsis, 188 n. 146 refers to a criticism by Christian Wildberg ("Impetus Theory and the Hermenuetics of Science in Simplicius and Philoponus," Hyperboreus 5 [1999] 107-124) of a paper by Michael Wolff, "Philoponus and Rise of Pre-classical Dynamics," in R. Sorabji (ed.), Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science (London, 1987), 84-120. Wildberg, 113-114, in fact reserves his main criticism for Wolff's earlier Geschichte der Impetustheorie (Frankfurt, 1978) and at 114-115 describes the paper that Golitsis cites as "a less objectionable account."

7. Golitsis plans to publish translations of the Corollaria mentioned above, and the Simplician polemic against Philoponus' Contra Aristotelem'; see 4 n. 4.

8. See L.P. Gerson, Aristotle and Other Platonists (Ithaca, 2005), reviewed at BMCR 2005.11.17 and G.E. Karamanolis, Plato and Aristotle in Agreement? Platonists on Aristotle from Antochus to Porphyry (Oxford, 2006), reviewed at BMCR 2007.05.36.

9. R. Sorabji (ed.), The Philosophy of the Commentators 200-600 A.D.: a sourcebook (London, 2004), vol. 3, 37-40 has only a few texts on harmonization in a section on methodology in a volume on logic, none of them the Simplician texts discussed by Golitsis. Baltussen (note 1) addresses harmonization at various places in his book, and in an appendix (218-220) lists instances in Simplicius' commentaries of the term sumphônia in a lexicographical exercise that picks up only one case from the Physics commentary that coincides with one of the texts discussed by Golitsis.

10. Sorabji, The Philosophy of the Commentators (preceding note), 10.

11. See 196-197 where Philoponus is said not to have replicated Simplicius' engagement with harmonization and religion but to have developed the criticisms of Aristotle that led to his theories of impetus and place by relying on a purely philosophical truth, founded on experience of things themselves ("une vérité purement philosophique, fondée sur l'expérience des choses elles-mêmes"), which could be taken to imply Philoponus' philosophical superiority to Simplicius. See further Wildberg (note 6), 120-121, and idem Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
Lothar Haselberger, Urbem adornare: die Stadt Rom und ihre Gestaltumwandlung unter Augustus = Rome's Urban Metamorphosis under Augustus (English translation of the main text by Alexander Thein). Journal of Roman Archaeology. Supplementary Series; no. 64. Portsmouth, R.I.: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 2007. Pp. 288. ISBN 9781887829649. $99.00.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis, Oxford University

[Table of Contents (in English and German) at the end of the review.]

Rome and its physical transformation under Augustus remains one of the most popular subjects for scholars and students of the ancient world. Because of this interest in Augustan Rome, saying something new is often a challenge. One of the scholars at the forefront of recent work on Augustan Rome has been Lothar Haselberger. Haselberger's contribution to the study of the topography of Rome is considerable, specifically in the form of his Mapping Augustan Rome project and his work on imagining ancient Rome.1 Here he explores the well-known topic of the transformation of the city of Rome under Augustus and builds on the work of previous scholars, specifically Zanker, Favro and Hülscher (p. 18).2 In six chapters, a postscript and addenda, Haselberger examines how the Augustan Revolution affected the urban image of Rome.

Chapter 1, "Adorn this city," sets the stage for the main arguments of the book. This chapter focuses on the idea of "adorning the city," (Dio 52.30.1) and the visual built image of Rome as perceived in the ancient sources. The discussion is heavily focused on textual analysis, with archaeology a distant second place here, which is surprising considering the considerable archaeological evidence there is on the topic. However, the rest of the book draws on archaeology, epigraphy and the ancient sources.

He also sets out the two main arguments of the book. First, the Campus Martius was the center of the Augustan building program and its development reflects a shift away from the center of the Urbs and a new focus for the city of Rome. Second, he argues that the Augustan reforms of 7 BC, specifically the reorganization of the city into fourteen regions and "the all-encompassing 'opening' of the urbs, along with the neglect of its walls," (p. 36) reflect a radical transformation of the city. It is this two-pronged transformation of Rome that allowed Augustus to articulate his "revolutionary realities" (p. 28). Haselberger sees Augustus as the driver for all of these programs even if he was not explicitly involved in them; specifically, he sees Augustus and Agrippa working in concert (p. 36).

In Chapter 2, "Rome--a deficient metropolis," Haselberger retraces the well-accepted facts that Rome was not constructed, planned or organized the way that a leading ancient metropolis should be and that Augustus tried to address the scruffy image of Rome, now the capital of the ancient world, through this extensive building project. The position of the city on seven hills and its organic development dictated its form and, as a result, its failure to be as architecturally grand as many Greek and Hellenistic cities. He argues that the Campus Martius was the only place where orthogonal planning in accordance with cardinal points could be applied since it was outside the heart of the city of Rome (pp. 40-43). In other words, in Haselberger's opinion, it was the only part of the city whose urban image could be made into something comparable or superior to the cities of the Greek East and, even, Alexandria.

Chapter 3, "La grande Rome--creating and preserving the new Rome" (pp. 70-221), explores the development of the Campus Martius. The development of the Campus Martius, which commenced under Caesar and Pompey, continued unabated under the auspices of Augustus and Agrippa. It became a "new urban landscape" of gleaming monumental architecture and green space (p. 126). There is little doubt of this from the textual and surviving archaeological data. However, Haselberger's image of an orderly, designed Campus Martius, is not sustained in his discussion of the various building projects. This argument becomes increasingly difficult to support when one considers the buildings whose locations in the Campus Martius are known archaeologically and those buildings and properties whose placement in the Campus Martius remains unknown. The boundaries of the Horti Agrippae, Thermae Agrippae, Horti Pompei, the park complex associated with the Mausoleum of Augustus are unknown. Even Haselberger's maps from Mapping Augustan Rome suggest that there are large portions of the Campus Martius that we simply do not know enough about to assess its organization accurately.

Furthermore, Haselberger sees the Campus Martius as the focus of the Augustan building program. It was certainly a critical part of the program; however, he underplays Augustus's restoration or construction of new monuments within the bounds of the old Urbs, specifically the eighty-two temples mentioned in the Res Gestae, his completion of the Forum Iulium, the construction of the Forum Augustum, the restoration of the city gates, and his building projects in the Roman Forum. While Haselberger discusses these projects (pp. 127-144), he sees them as secondary to the building works of Agrippa and the construction of monuments on the Campus Martius. Clearly, Augustus focused on these monuments; the construction or restoration of temples reflected his ideological goal of restoring pietas, one of Republican Rome's core values, while Agrippa, probably with Augustus's approval, carried out the bulk of the improvements to the Campus Martius. While the Campus Martius was undoubtedly important, as its new public monuments presented Rome as an imperial city and underlined the importance of public building, Augustus and his associates focused on restoring and transforming all of Rome.3 Haselberger also places the transformation of the city in a strict chronological framework, seeing the first two decades of Augustus's reign until 7 BC as the most critical for the development of the new urban image of Rome.

Chapter 4, "The silent revolution of 7 BC--the 'open city,' " serves as a platform for Haselberger's second argument that Augustus' other radical transformation of the city occurred with the reorganization of city into fourteen regions that included the suburban part of the city and even a whole region across the Tiber. As he observes, Rome became a city without walls, whose gates became open gateways, and the suburban edge of the city became subject to the city's administration, although the pomerium was not extended to include these domains. This was quite revolutionary, since many cities in Roman Italy were still walled. Rome, like Sparta, "was protected by its strength rather than its walls" (p. 230). The opening of the gates, the decline of Rome's walls and her urban boundaries remain understudied generally and should provide a fruitful area for further study.

Chapter 5, "Augustus' new Rome," summarizes Haselberger's two arguments. Although with a slightly different emphasis on the Campus Martius and the opening of the city, Haselberger presents the same argument about the transformation of Augustan Rome that we have seen before. She became an imperial capital from a city of brick. In conclusion, Haselberger's argument for the centrality of the Campus Martius in Augustan Rome is less convincing and original than his argument about the opening of the city and its transformative power. While the Campus Martius becomes a space for public entertainment and leisure, the political, religious and ceremony heart of Rome remained the Forum Romanum and Forum Augustum. The continued imperial focus on this region remained throughout Rome's history.

This study, however, makes a number of useful contributions. It provides a clear overview and narrative for the Augustan building programs and a precise chronology; his list of Augustan buildings (Chapter 6, "Augustan buildings in Rome: a list") is particularly helpful, it gives dates for the years of dedication and individuals involved in the various Augustan building projects. It serves as a good starting point for a student new to Augustan Rome or for a scholar engaging with complex topographical arguments.

Now let us briefly discuss certain issues of the bilingual German and English text, formatting and images. Publishing the text in German and English is laudable; Haselberger's ideas are quickly available to a wider range of scholars, and the book achieves its goal of engaging non-German scholars with the German tradition of Bauforschung (p. 10). However, the decision not to translate the footnotes or the addenda is irritating. Only the most active of readers will hunt through the long, complicated footnotes to find references. Inevitably, those reading in English naturally find themselves ignoring the footnotes, and thus, do not get as much out of the book as they could. Furthermore, not all of the captions of the images (for example, Abb. 3, p. 47) are translated. As an experiment in this type of bilingual publishing, the book is fairly successful and should encourage similar efforts; however, a full translation would make the book even more accessible and user-friendly.

Finally, for a book on the metamorphosis of Augustan Rome, it is far too short on maps and images. There are only four figures and a total of nine images, including one small map that only depicts part of the Campus Martius. This work assumes that one will have Haselberger's previous book, Mapping Augustan Rome, or at least a map of Rome, to hand when assessing his arguments (p. 10); if one does, this book is much easier to use. It would have been helpful if at least one or two large-scale maps, perhaps of pre- and post-7 BC Rome, had been included to allow the reader to follow and dissect Haselberger's arguments. Considering Haselberger's recent work on creating accurate visual reconstructions of ancient Rome and the topic of this book on the urban image of Rome, it is also surprising that no reconstructions play a role in it. Inclusion of such images might have also strengthened his arguments, particularly those about the organization of the Campus Martius, by helping the reader to visualize the transformation of Rome and understand how the topography of Rome changed during this period in its history.

Table of Contents (In English and German)


List of figures 6
Special abbreviations 7
Preface 8
I. "Adorn this city" 12
Problems and perspectives 16
The territorial definition of the Urbs 18
built urban image 22
Leading and directing public building 28
Augustus' own urban building as represented in the Res gestae 32
Campus Martius and Urbs 36
II. Rome--a deficient metropolis 40
Not yet adorned 40
Attempts at a solution 46
Caesar's inheritance and new initiatives 54
Programmatic building 64
III. "La grande Rome"--creating and preserving the new Rome 70
Staging the project (29/28 B.C.) 72
Building the Campus Martius: monumenta Agrippae (27-19 B.C.) 100
Suburb and "the rest of the Urbs" (27-19 B.C.) 128
A Rome transformed: aurea saecula (19-7 B.C.) 150
Sealing and confirming (7 B.C.-A.D. 14) 192
IV. The silent revolution of 7 B.C.--the "open city" 222
Regiones and urban territory 224
A city without walls 230
V. Augustus' new Rome 238
New city and old Urbs 238
Traumatic notions 244
Augustus' program and "deception" 248
VI. Augustan buildings in Rome: a list 256
Postscript 266
Addenda 272
Select bibliography 275
Indices 277
Rome: buildings and localities 277
Other cities and places 280
Terms, aspects, concepts 280
Prosopography (except authors) 282
Ancient authors 283
Inscriptions, papyri, coins 287


Abbildungsverzeichnis 6
Besondere Abkürzungen 7
Vorwort 9
I. "Schm7uuml;cke diese Stadt" 13
Fragen und Perspektiven 17
Die Urbs 19
Gebautes Stadtbild 23
Lenkung und Leitung 29
Die Res gestae 33
Marsfeld und Urbs 37
II. Rom--Weltstadt mit Mängeln 41
"Noch nicht geschmückt" 41
Lösungsversuche 47
Caesars Erbe und neue Initiativen 55
Bauen als Programm 65
III. "La grande Rome"--Schaffen und Bewahren des neuen Rom 71
Programmatisches Inszenieren (29/28 v.Chr.) 73
Grossbaustelle Marsfeld: monumenta Agrippae (27-19 v.Chr.) 101
Vorstadt und "übrige Stadt" (27-19 v.Chr.) 129
Ein verwandeltes Rom: aurea saecula (19-7 v.Chr.) 151
Besiegeln und Bekräftigen (7 v.Chr.-14 n.Chr.) 193
IV. Die stille Revolution von 7 v.Chr.--die "offene Stadt" 223
Gebietsreform und Stadtgebiet 225
Stadt ohne Mauern 230
V. Das neue Rom des Augustus 239
Neue Stadt und alte Urbs 239
Traumatische Stadtfragen 245
Augustus' Programm und "Augentäuschung" 249
VI. Augusteisches Bauen in Rom: eine Liste 257
Postskript 267
Addenda 272
Bibliographie in Auswahl 275
Register 277
Rom: Bauten und Örtlichkeiten 277
Andere Städte und Orte 280
Begriffe, Aspekte, Konzepte 280
Antike Personennamen (ohne Autoren) 282
Antike Autoren 283
Inschriften, Papyri, Münzen 287


1.   Mapping Augustan Rome, directed by Lothar Haselberger in collaboration with David Gilman Romano; edited by Elisha Ann Dumser. Journal of Roman archaeology. Suppl. 50, 2002; Imaging ancient Rome: documentation, visualization, imagination, ed. Lothar Haselberger and John Humphrey. Journal of Roman Archaeology Suppl. 61, 2006.
2.   See Höllscher, T. "Augustus und die Macht der Archäologie," in F. Miller et al. La révolution romaine après Ronald Syme. Bilans et perspectives (=EntrHardt 2000), 331-58; Favro, D. The Urban Image of Augustan Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996; Zanker, P. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, trans. by Alan Shapiro. Ann Arbor, 1988.
3.   Haselberger downplays the importance of the building programs within the traditional bounds of the city. For example, he sees the construction of the Naumachia Augusti and the Forum Augustum as two parts of a "twin project," because the Naumachia was to host a spectacle celebrating the completion of the Forum Augustum (pp. 194-6). This seems to overstate the importance of the Naumachia, as the Forum Augustum was not only one of the most important constructions for its ideological significance, but it was used on a daily basis and as a setting for major public events and sacrifices.

(read complete article)


Version at BMCR home site
Walter Scheidel, Ian Morris, Richard P. Saller (ed.), The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. xiv, 942. ISBN 9780521780537. $225.00.
Reviewed by Constantina Katsari, University of Leicester

Table of Contents


This is certainly an extraordinary book on the Ancient Mediterranean economies that ought to be read and quoted by all historians who work in the field of pre-industrial economics. This excellent project was brought to completion by its 3 editors and 27 contributors over the span of a decade. Although this is a Cambridge volume, we should also give ample credit to Stanford University, in which the editors work. According to the editors the goals of this volume are two-fold: 1) to summarize the existing scholarship on the Greco-Roman economy and 2) to shape future research. (p. 1) The chronological and geographical span of time and space extend far beyond what traditionally has been considered the Greco-Roman world. Apart from the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman worlds, it includes prehistoric societies in the Mediterranean and part of the Near Eastern civilizations. This expansion could allow for comparisons between different economic systems across the Mediterranean and, in some cases, may also clarify concepts that were otherwise obscure. In this review, I intend to assess the achievements of this collaboration and the fulfilment of the initial targets.

During the last three decades ancient historians focused on the debate between modernists on one side (with Rostovtzeff as the main representative of this school) and substantivists on the other (with Finley as the undisputed leader). In fact, whenever an ancient historian writes a book or an article on the ancient economy, s/he is expected to place herself/himself within the spectrum ranging from modernism to substantivism. During the seventies and the eighties, the polarization between the two schools of thought was complete and the debate was fierce. For the past two decades, though, researchers have been trying to establish a middle ground or attempted to break away from the stifling atmosphere. The editors of the CEH belong to the new generation of ancient economic historians who lead the way in the writing of ancient economic histories. Their initial intention was to focus on growth and some of the main parameters that affected it, such as institutions, demography, ecology, gender and technology. Most contributors attempted to analyse these economic factors and managed to construct new perspectives of the ancient economies.Especially in the first part, the chapters, which describe the economic determinants in the ancient world, set the tone for the rest of the book. However, in some cases the authors of this volume follow closely the editors' structure which focuses predominately on the production, distribution and eventual consumption of the products across the Mediterranean. These are fundamental parts of the economy and, hence, seem to have been studied in conjunction with the law, governmental regulations and political processes, possibly because of the limitation of other types of evidence. However, such a choice eventually limits somewhat the scope of the editors, since at least a few authors concentrate on the political economy of antiquity. Indeed, the study of political factors is essential for the analysis of any economic system and Political economics encompasses several alternatives to Neoclassical economics. However, the systematic exclusion or undervaluation of the study of market forces could lead scholars to the de facto acceptance that substantivism may be the only way to interpret the ancient economies. Despite the shortcomings, most authors explore the production, distribution and consumption of some ancient societies not as independent factors but in conjunction with the demography, technology, political structures of those societies and above all, the growth of the economy. Without emphasizing the limitations of the ancient economies, they describe the continuity and change of the Mediterranean economic systems. In accordance, probably, with the vision of the editors, in some aspects of the ancient economy, several authors attempt to move away from Political as well as Neoclassical economics into the sphere of Institutional economics.

The editors also hoped that they would develop "general theoretical models of ancient economic behavior" and they will put them "in a global, comparative context". (p. 12) The first part of the volume, on the determinants of economic performance, is one of the best scholarly examples of the study of the ancient Mediterranean in comparative perspective. Sallares, Scheidel, Saller, Frier and Schneider compare the regions surrounding the Mediterranean to each other, while they try to assess the economic conditions diachronically, from antiquity to modern times. Braudel's The Mediterranean in the Ancient World (English translation 2001) and the recent publications of Horden and Purcell1 and the contrasting views of Harris,2 renewed the interest in the study of the Mediterranean Sea as unifying entity and dealt with new aspects of the topic. Similarly, in this volume the editors managed to bring together varied views on the function of the Mediterranean economy. The main factors that affect ancient economies, according to the editors, seem to be 1) the ecology, 2) demography, 3) household and gender, 4) law and economic institutions and last but not least 5) technology. Sallares explores the effect of mostly non-human related conditions on the economy and focuses on the impact of geography, climatic conditions and the natural environment on the development of agriculture. He supports the idea that, although over the centuries a few regions remained unaltered, others changed radically. Although agriculture is connected to environmental issues and certainly had a substantial impact on the subsistence economy, Sallares does not expand on other, equally important matters, such as the environmental changes caused by the expansion of urban centres, industrial pollution (especially from the mines), or the technological developments in the agricultural sector.

Scheidel, using mortality and fertility rates from the epigraphic material and papyri (?), estimates the size of the population in specific regions and in the entire Mediterranean. Once he forms a rough idea of the numbers of people in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, he explores the impact of increases or decreases on population sizes, living standards, subsistence rates, and growth of the ancient economies by comparison to Medieval and Early Modern societies. He eventually comes to the conclusion that demographic conditions changed radically in certain areas, e.g. the western provinces of the Roman world, once the empire was firmly established. However, the overall growth of the population across the Mediterranean, even though it continued until the Middle Ages, was slow. The ancient economies seem to have been locked in "a low equilibrium trap", in which "limited increases in output will raise surpluses less than population size and the latter will eventually offset intermittent productivity gains" (p. 55). Saller compares and contrasts two different models of management of the household's assets in Classical Athens and in the Roman Empire. His results give us new insights on the contribution of women and children in the production of the household, two social groups that are usually ignored in economic studies. Although in his conclusions, he splendidly attempts to integrate the households into the wider economies of Athens and Rome, he fails to take into consideration the size of these political entities. On the one hand, Athens was a hegemonic power with several colonies in the Mediteranean and away from the Greek mainland, while Rome created an empire that dominated the Mediterranean. The scale of the two economies was such that it would have certainly affected the impact of the household production and consumption.

Frier and Kehoe focus on the economy of the Roman world and evaluate the application of modern economic theories in explaining ancient economic phenomena. Early on, they reject Neoclassical Economic doctrines, since these theories may be applied only to free market economies, such as modern capitalism. As an alternative, they favour the application of New Institutional economics, since the ancient markets were closely regulated by the imperial and the civic authorities. In order to prove their case, they emphasize "agency" as an economic institution. According to the authors, a principal delegates some rights to an agent, "who is bound by a (formal or informal) contract to represent the principal's interests in return for payments of some kind".3 Whether these agents were freedmen, slaves or husbands, they facilitated transactions, they cut the costs and they overcame the problem of asymmetrical information. Unlike the previous authors, Schneider restricts himself to the description of specific Roman innovations -- such as the grain mill, oil and wine presses, the production of ceramics and glass, building techniques, transportation over land and sea, and the use of water-lifting equipment -- and seems to be dangerously close to the original ideas that Finley presented in 1965.4 If we take the articles of the first part as a whole, the readers may be able to build a new theoretical model that is based on the comparative development of the ancient economies across time in the Mediterranean and clearly moves beyond the substantivist/modernist model.

In the second part of the book five authors -- Bennet, Morris, Dietler, Osborne and Bedford -- explore the Early Mediterranean Economies and the Near East. The first four describe a Mediterranean economy that was based on strong palatial control during the Mycenaean period. However, this control was eroded with the decline of the economy and in its place we find the emergence of aristocratic families that become major economic forces in new urban centres. By the end of the Iron Age, the focus shifted towards trading activities across the Mediterranean Sea. These activities were promoted through colonization, a process that did not polarize indigenous and intruding populations but, instead, created multiple, interconnected spheres of economic activities. New economic factors, such as the invention of money, improved communications, the advancing knowledge of economic laws and new political institutions changed the economic foundations of Mediterranean societies, which now focused on the promotion of trade. Unfortunately the authors, apart from Morris, do not provide adequate evidence on the change of living standards, a fact that inhibits us from detecting changes on the daily lives of the inhabitants. The last article by Bedford on the economy of the Near East differs, while he puts special emphasis on the similarities of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian economies. He creates a substantivist model in order to explain the limited urbanization processes, the restricted growth and the strict political control of the economy. This stale environment, though, may be explained if we assume that the Near East was not an integral part of the Mediterranean.

The next part includes three chapters on production, distribution and consumption in Classical Greece, written by Davies, Möller and von Reden respectively. The impression that these chapters give is of an underdeveloped (though not primitive) economy, with minimal growth and market exchange, in a true Finleyan sense.5 Davies rightly speaks of the fragmentation of the Greek world in smaller regions or city-states that develop according to different rhythms. However, he does not take this flexibility as a force of economic growth (even at the expense of the less developed regions). Instead, he thinks that agricultural production was stagnant, labour structures were defined by issues of morality and status, while the role of capital (given the lack of evidence) was restricted to the building of large projects of infrastructure (water supplies, harbours, bridges etc); thus, it was controlled by the state. This overwhelming focus on the role of the city-state is evident also in Möller's work. With the exception of the knowledgeable merchant, who had basic accounting skills and invested borrowed capital to buy goods, Möller takes a pessimistic view of the practical issues of trade. Although she acknowledges that the volume of traded goods probably increased, she justifies it by emphasizing the impact of civic institutions, which redistributed goods for the glory of the city and the comfort of its citizens. Along the same lines, von Reden prefers to explore the symbolic character of consumption and comes to the conclusion that the city-states and religious organizations stimulated public and private consumption, through payments, public works, benefits, sacrifices, festivals, handouts. In the end, though, surprisingly faithful to the doctrines of Adam Smith, she admits that democracy encouraged also a turn to a free market (open exchange) oriented commodity consumption.

In the fourth part of this volume Van der Spek, Manning and Reger explore the economies of the Hellenistic Near East, Egypt, Greece and Asia Minor respectively. The division of the chapters point towards the existence of separate regional economies in the Eastern Mediterranean, in accordance to the ideas presented by John Davies and others in the edited volume on the Hellenistic Economies.6 In this part we observe that the authors describe different levels of economic centralisation, with Egypt being the most centralized and Greece and Asia Minor the least. Even if the Ptolemies in Egypt administered the largest part of the economy, we start observing for the first time interplay of the fiscal aims of the state with private incentives. At the same time, the kings brought innovations to the fiscal system and promoted the use of money (the economy seemed to be monetized also in the rural countryside). Even if these changes were not radical, we may acknowledge the systematic organization of the economy and a tendency towards decentralization. Despite the dominance of the State on the Ptolemaic economy, Manning resists describing Egypt as an underdeveloped system as Van der Spek and Reger do. Especially Van der Spek undervalues consistently the significance of the monetary economy, which could have been the motor of commerce in the Seleucid empire. Despite the carefully controlled weight standards, the influx of cash during the reign of Alexander the Great, the wide circulation of silver coins, their use as units of account, the increasing use of bronze (small change) in the markets and the popularity of coins as fiduciary money or even bank notes, he insists that the use of silver decreased and that the monetary system burdened the empire with transaction costs for millennia to come! Reger, on the other hand, may notice the "underdeveloped" nature of the economy in Greece and Asia Minor but he measures his evidence more carefully. He rightly notices that the economy at the time was in fiscal crisis and this may have affected the overall growth. In my view, though, the system was not as centralised as in other areas of the eastern Mediterranean; hence, the private economy may have played a more important role in driving growth. Specifically agricultural innovations and the increase in long-distance trade probably contributed to growth, despite the persistent stagnation of population levels.

In the next part, Morel and Harris in two chapters attempt to reconstruct the economic history of Early Rome and the Late Roman Republic respectively. Morel describes the Roman economy from the eighth until the second century BC. Probably because of the large chronological span, he does not manage to provide separate economic models for each period or region. Instead, he asserts the previous held theories that agriculture remained the most important aspect of the economy, with minor variations. Harris, on the other hand, starts with the assumption that the economy of Rome at that time received positive benefits from its direct contact with Carthage and the Hellenistic kingdoms of the east, especially in advancing its financial system. The era is characterized by a substantial increase of the population of Rome, the more efficient regulation of commerce, the expanding use of credit, organized villas and large estates becoming part of the rural landscape, the increased consumption of olive oil and wine that probably promoted monoculture and trade, and improvement in communications, all of which promoted growth, even if this growth does not come close to the one we encounter in capitalist societies.

The next two parts deal with the economy of the Roman empire: Part 6 focuses on the economy of Italy and other regions during the Early Empire, while the chapters of Part 7 are divided geographically and cover the Roman Principate until the third century. In Part 6 the contributors -- Kehoe, Morley, Jongman and Lo Cascio -- divided their pieces according to production, distribution, consumption with the addition of one chapter on the State economy respectively, which indicates a turn towards Institutional economics. And yet, almost all authors move beyond the constraints imposed by the structure and explore the theme of growth. In the next two chapters on the production and distribution of goods in the Roman Empire Kehoe and Morley do not confirm the expectations of Harris that growth would have increased after the death of Caesar. Instead, Kehoe describes an agriculturally based economic system, in which only 'middle class' Romans made substantial profits from trade. On the other hand, the upper classes, although they were indirectly involved in commercial activities, focused their efforts mainly on the increase of agricultural production. Despite the economy's shortcomings, Kehoe acknowledges that the urban centres promoted the production of ceramics, building materials and textiles, while parts of agriculture were commercialized. Similarly, Morley blames the limited integration of the Roman empire on the domination of the distribution by the State and the elite. However, he also admits that this intervention may actually have promoted growth, while no part of the empire remained a self-sufficient cell. These two authors seem to have moved slightly away from their previous ideas on the function of the Roman economy, which can be explained if we take into consideration the general shift in historiography from a substantivist viewpoint towards a more balanced economic model. In the next article, Jongman claims that the population increased during the empire, while the per capita income was higher. At the same time the living conditions and the diet of the inhabitants became better. In fact, for the first time in history we notice unprecedented levels of prosperity. In this case, Jongman does not disagree radically with the previous two authors. The only difference is that he compares the Roman Empire with other pre-industrial economies, while Kehoe and Morley seem to compare it with early Industrial systems. Last but not least, Lo Cascio assesses the intervention of central institutions in the development of the economy. Using Hopkins' model of "taxes and trade," he comes to the conclusion that, while the economy of Italy reached its highest limit and then stagnated, the provincial economies flourished through the export of their products. This piece is in clear contrast to the view expressed by Morley who believes in the existence of a strong centre, Rome, and a large number of self-sufficient peripheries.

In Part 7 the editors divided the Empire geographically into four zones: the East, the West, Egypt and frontiers. The economic models the authors present range according to the individual characteristics of the region and/or according to their own beliefs on how the ancient world operated. The most conservative approach comes from Cherry who attempts to reconstruct the economies of the northern European, eastern and north African frontier zones. His article focuses almost exclusively on the influence of the army on the local economy (especially on local markets), following closely Michael Crawford's theories on the subject. Leveau, on the other hand, adopts the well-known core-periphery economic model in order to explain the relationship between Rome and its western provinces. In effect, this model insinuates the dependence of these regions on Rome and their comparatively inferior economic status; an inferiority that is accentuated, when compared with the eastern provinces. According to Leveau, even if the Romans (in their attempt to Romanize the area) organized the countryside around villas and vici, the role of these predominately agricultural units was to serve the developing "consumer cities". The weaknesses of the economies in the western provinces (as he suggests), may shift the opinions of scholars who used to believe that growth there remained strong, while in the eastern provinces it was limited. Similarly, according to Alcock, indicators such as population increases, the expansion of rural settlements, denser trade networks, higher per capita income that increased demand and consumption, and improved living standards, all point towards accelerated growth in the east. The annexation of the eastern provinces to the Empire undoubtedly changed the parameters and probably facilitated the expansion of regional economies. Evidence of maritime trade presented by Alcock confirms wide patterns of regional and interregional distribution. However, the extent of these developments and their impact on the economy cannot be projected with any accuracy. And in my view, even if growth was less than estimated, this happened because the East was already in an advantageous position by comparison with the west.

The article that breaks with current scholarship is the one written by Rathbone, who places Egypt firmly within the Roman economic system and, at the same time, moves away from a state-centric economic model. Although he admits that the state stimulated both consumption and production, while it regulated the economy, he emphasizes the inflow of wealth from trade with the east. In this case also, the unifying Mediterranean market and the urban demands in other provinces became the main forces of growth. A boom in urbanization during the second century probably allowed the urban population to create more wealth by exports to Alexandria or sales to the villages. Simultaneously, the privatisation of land, labour mobility and the monetization of transactions were attributes of a free-market economy that stimulated growth even further. And of course, as in all economies, we observe periods of affluence and poverty (before and after the Antonine plague).

As is appropriate the volume finishes with a chapter by Giardina on "The Transition to Late Antiquity." Here the author assumes that free trade is the obvious characteristic of modernization and that it is lacking from late antique society. Instead, we observe that the state's grip on the economy probably increased from the reign of Diocletian onward. This change was the result of conditions in the third-century: a decrease in population, a decrease in cultivated lands, monetary, political and military crises. Also, the initial co-existence of unfree labour systems -- the colonus and slavery -- seems to have been replaced by the regression of the slave mode of production (at least in the Italian peninsula). Existing evidence cannot prove whether or not this situation led to an overall economic growth. It is interesting, though, to note that Giardina's chapter reflects the thought of editors and the majority of the contributors; emphasizing, in a true Neoclassical fashion, the importance of free trade for the realization of growth and the modernization of the economy. According to this economic school, imperial regulation could only impede 'free' economic activities that otherwise would have lead to the prosperity of the population. Bearing in mind, though, the current global economic crisis, which was triggered by the excessive deregulation of the private economy, the reader would allow me to remain skeptical.

Table of Contents

1. Ian Morris, Richard P. Saller, W. Scheidel, "Introduction" 1


2. Robert Sallares, "Ecology" 15
3. Walter Scheidel, "Demography" 38
4. Richard P. Saller, "Household and Gender" 87
5. Bruce W. Frier, Dennis P. Kehoe, "Law and Economic Institutions" 113
6. Helmuth Schneider, "Technology" 144


7. John Bennet, "The Aegean Bronze Age" 175
8. Ian Morris, "Early Iron Age" 211
9. Michael Dietler, "The Iron Age in the Western Mediterranean" 242
10. Robin Osborne, "Archaic Greece" 277
11. Peter R. Bedford, "The Persian Near East" 302


12. John K. Davies, "Classical Greece: Production" 333
13. Astrid Möller, "Classical Greece: Distribution" 362
14. Sitta von Reden, "Classical Greece: Consumption" 385


15. Robartus J. van der Spek, "The Hellenistic Near East" 409
16. Joseph G. Manning, "Hellenistic Egypt" 434
17. Gary Reger, "Hellenistic Greece and western Asia Minor" 460


18. Jean Paul Morel, "Early Rome and Italy" 487
19. William V. Harris, "The Late Republic" 511


20. Dennis P. Kehoe, "The Early Roman Empire: Production" 543
21. Neville Morley, "The Early Roman Empire: Distribution" 570
22. Willem M. Jongman, "The Early Roman Empire: Consumption" 592
23. Elio Lo Cascio, "The Early Roman Empire: The State and the Economy" 619


24. Philippe Leveau, "The Western Provinces" 651
25. Susan E. Alcock, "The Eastern Mediterranean" 671
26. Dominic W. Rathbone, "Roman Egypt" 698
27. David Cherry, "The Frontier Zones" 720


28. Andrea Giardina, "The Transition to Late Antiquity" 743


1.   Horden, P. and Purcell, N., The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History, London: Blackwell 2000.
2.   Harris, W. (ed.), Rethinking the Mediterranean, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2005. In the book pay particular attention to Harris's introduction "The Mediterranean and ancient history".
3.   Eggertsson, T., "The role of transaction costs and property rights in economic analysis", European Economic Review 24.2 (1990), pp. 40-41.
4.   Finley, M. I., "Technical innovation and economic progress in the ancient world", The Economic History Review 18.1 (1965), pp. 29-45. For a revision of this article see Greene, K., "Technological innovation and economic progress in the ancient world: M.I. Finley reconsidered", The Economic History Review 53.1 (2003), pp. 29-59.
5.   Finley, M.I., The Ancient Economy, London 1972.
6.   Archibald, Z., Davies, J., Gabrielsen, V. and Oliver, G.J. (edd.), Hellenistic Economies, London: Routledge 2001.

(read complete article)