Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Stephen M. Trzaskoma (trans.), Two Novels from Ancient Greece: Chariton's Callirhoe and Xenophon of Ephesos' An Ephesian Story: Anthia and Habrocomes. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2010. Pp. xxxvii, 195. ISBN 9781603841924. $13.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Stephen A. Nimis, Miami University


Stephen Trzaskoma has produced accurate and fresh translations of the two earliest Greek novels, Chariton's Callirhoe and Xenophon's An Ephesian Tale, in a single volume, based on two new editions of the novels in Greek by B. Reardon ( Bibliotheca Teubneriana, 2004) and J. O'Sullivan (Bibliotheca Teubneriana , 2005). A keen textual critic himself, Trzaskoma has published a number of contributions on the novels, offering improvements to the text and identifying additional allusions to classical authors.1 He includes endnotes to both translations detailing his own conjectures and differences with Reardon and Sullivan, all of which bespeaks a complete reexamination of the texts in preparation for his translations. Although no doubt designed for undergraduate courses where these novels will be read by Greekless students, every effort has been made to provide as much information about difficulties in the texts as possible, so these translations will be useful to those interested in the Greek text as well.

An unpretentious introduction that will be very appropriate and useful to students reading ancient novels for the first time covers judiciously the major issues relevant to getting started with these stories: genre, audience, context, date, along with some special problems (the epitome theory for Xenophon), historicity, and intertextuality. Differing views are presented fairly and in a manner that suggests the validity of numerous points of view rather than arguing for a correct one. Trzaskoma makes a case for a higher appreciation of these two "pre-sophistic" novels, based on the literary texture of Chariton and the action-packed simplicity of Xenophon. Brief footnotes with cultural information averaging two per page for Chariton, less for Xenophon, provide plenty of background information. These notes are much more numerous than those that accompany previous translations in the Collected Ancient Greek Novels. Of special interest to Trzaskoma are allusions to classical poetry and prose, and he identifies a number of new ones in Chariton, especially to Xenophon the Athenian. A good bibliography and two maps round out the supplementary material.

Trzaskoma's translation takes its place among a number of recent new editions and translations, beginning with the publication of Reardon's collection in 1987 (Collected Ancient Greek Novels), in which Reardon himself translated Callirhoe and Graham Anderson An Ephesian Tale. For instructors who are teaching a survey of ancient fiction where several novels will be assigned, this remains the standard choice. Bilingual editions of Chariton (ed. and tr. G. P. Goold, 2005) and Xenophon (ed. and tr. J. Henderson, 2009) have also appeared in the Loeb series.2 Unlike Henderson's Loeb, which combines Xenophon with Longus, the two most dissimilar of the five extant novels , Trzaskoma's combination of Callirhoe and An Ephesian Tale presents the two novels most like each other, sufficiently similar in some details to indicate direct borrowing. This will make the stand-alone volume more valuable for courses where just a sample of the genre is to be assigned. Trzaskoma's translation can be best compared to those of Reardon and Anderson, since they are meant for the same audience (as opposed to bilingual editions where English and Greek are meant to be used together).

Translator's introductions are notorious for clichés, but I found Trzaskoma's note on texts and translations to be refreshingly useful. He characterizes Chariton's Greek as a version of koine that is highly literary, but not excessively fussy or above occasional everyday expressions or occasional esoteric words. This suggests an author who, in English, would "end sentences with a preposition," "split infinitives when it sounded more natural", and "not be overly concerned about every whom or who, but would never use whom incorrectly when he chose to use it." I think that is a fair characterization of Chariton and is made in terms that really specify an English register. Using who for whom, splitting infinitives and ending sentences with a preposition are things that most of us do in speech, and even from time to time in formal writing; but we all know people who will jump all over such "errors." On the other hand, using whom incorrectly for who is a different kind of affectation, and unnatural transformations of normal sentence structure to avoid a final preposition occur now mostly for humorous effect (I am sure you know about what I am talking). I found Trzaskoma's explanation very much to the point and observed particular examples of just this kind of looseness in diction from time to time in his translation of Chariton. But it is not the details in this or that passage, but the overall effect that is important, and in general this translation reads better than Reardon's. A rather simple formatting change that makes reading this translation easier is the way Trzaskoma has broken up the text into shorter paragraphs, perhaps a concession to the web-browsing generation. And speaking of small favors, thanks for indicating the book numbers at the top of each page. It is so annoying to search for a particular passage by book and chapter in Collected Ancient Greek Novels.

Graham Anderson recommends Xenophon's novel as "a specimen of penny dreadful literature in antiquity." Trzaskoma more kindly characterizes it as the ancient equivalent of a "rip-roaring action film." He describes Xenophon's style with the single word "blunt." Despite occasional ornamentation in laments, according to Trzaskoma , Xenophon rarely strives for unusual effects in language, more like New Testament prose with its short sentences strung together with καὶ. Trzaskoma identifies the key pitfall in rendering both Chariton and Xenophon to be "creeping irony," treating the originals "as if they were beneath the translations." Anyone who has taught these novels knows what he is talking about. For example, students don't know how they are supposed to take the multiple knee-jerk suicidal laments, finding them ridiculous and improbable, and immediately suspect some kind of authorial condescension. The trick, as Trzaskoma notes, is to produce something readable and yet give a sense of how these authors came across in antiquity, and in this I think he has succeeded admirably. Here is a short example.

In An Ephesian Tale 5.1 we are treated to the story of the poor Spartan Aigialeus and his common-law wife Thelxinoe. The latter has died and her body is kept by Aigialeus, embalmed Egyptian-style. "I speak to her as though she is alive," he says, and συγκατάκειμαι καὶ συνευωχοῦμαι. Anderson translates "I lie down beside her and have my meals with her," and suggests a reminiscence of Alcestis 348-53, where Admetus promises to keep a likeness of his dying wife in his bedroom. Trzaskoma translates "I get on the couch with her and we eat together," citing the comment of Diodorus Siculus (1.92.6) that poorer Egyptians would keep mummies in their homes rather than placing them in tombs. Henderson translates "I can lay with her and dine with her," by this non-standard use of the verb "lay" perhaps trying to insinuate an answer to the question most students have about this passage. The Egyptian connection is surely more to the point than Euripides' Alcestis, but I think it is the Egyptian custom of celebrating and feasting at tombs that is the background for this, and the belief that the dead could enjoy physical pleasures such as food and drink, not the keeping of mummies at home, if that ever happened. The hint in this passage of necrophilia, a charge against Egyptians that had some currency perhaps because of their attention to dead bodies (cf. Herodotus 2.89), is minimized in Trzaskoma's translation of this passage, correctly in my view. A few sentences earlier, Aigialeus says of Thelxinoe's corpse, καὶ ἀεὶ φιλῶ καὶ σύνειμι. Trzaskoma translates "I'm always kissing her and spending time with her." Anderson sanitizes slightly: "I always have her company and adore her." Henderson is again just a tiny little bit more salacious: "I am always kissing her and being with her." In both cases, I think Trzaskoma has hit the right note. It is supposed to be weird, but not too weird. The hero Habrocomes, after all, finds this story downright inspiring.

I stumbled on a couple of apparent oversights: in one (Callirhoe 4.7.1) a short clause inexplicably drops out ("fearing the slanders and wrath of the king"); in another (Callirhoe 6.8.6) the expression τὸ ... ἐν Βαβυλῶνι κατειλῆφθαι is translated as "(that this) had happened in Babylon" when the sense requires something like "this had been reported to the king while in Babylon," or "that the king had been found = happened to be in Babylon."

It is interesting to me that my students who read these two novels back to back (first Xenophon, then Chariton) almost always prefer Xenophon in informal polls that I take each term. They are perhaps conditioned to be more interested in the ancient equivalent of a rip-roaring action film than they are by a text with learned allusions. In any case, it is valuable to read them together, and this new text will make that easy and inexpensive to do.


1.   "Chariton and Tragedy: Reconsiderations and New Evidence," American Journal of Philology 131.2 (2010) 219–231; "Aristophanes in Chariton (Plu. 744, Eq. 1244, Eq. 670)," Philologus 153.2 (2009) 351–353; "Echoes of Thucydides' Sicilian Expedition in Three Greek Novels," Classical Philology (forthcoming). "Callirhoe, Concubinage, and a Corruption in Chariton 2.11.5," Exemplaria Classica (forthcoming); "Why Miletus? Chariton's Choice of Setting and Xenophon's Anabasis," Mnemosyne (forthcoming). "Citations of Xenophon in Chariton," in K. Chew and J. R. Morgan, eds., The Greek Novel and the Second Sophistic, Ancient Narrative Supplementum (forthcoming).
2.   There are also stand-alone translations of Achilles Tatius (tr. Tim Whitmarsh, 2001) and Longus (tr. R. McCail, 2002) in the Oxford World Classics Series. A new Loeb of Achilles Tatius is forthcoming, edited and translated by S. Trzaskoma as well. There is also a school text of Chariton, Book 1, by C. K. Prince (2009), with an incredibly ugly Greek font in the Bryn Mawr series; there is an excellent school text for Longus, edited by E. Cueva and S. Byrne (Bolchazy-Carducci, 2005); and there is another bilingual edition of Longus with literary commentary by J. Morgan (Aris and Phillips, 2004).

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Version at BMCR home site
Ivan Garofalo, Alessandro Lami, Amneris Roselli (ed.), Sulla tradizione indiretta dei testi medici greci: Atti del II Seminario Internazionale di Siena, Certosa di Pontignano, 19-20 settembre 2008. Biblioteca di "Galenos" 2. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2009. Pp. 238. ISBN 9788862271387. €78.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Anna Toscano, Università degli Studi di Milano

La "storia storica della scienza" è un'acquisizione metodologica ormai consolidata da anni che ha permesso di ridisegnare negli ultimi tre decenni il panorama tradizionale di questa disciplina, avendo come esclusiva metodologia ricostruttiva il ricorso a reperti, fonti primarie, inedite, d'archivio come necessario apparato documentario per una corretta definizione dell'effettivo percorso seguito dalla riflessione tecnica e scientifica. In questo contesto, il volume curato da Ivan Garofalo, Alessandro Lami e Amneris Rosselli che qui si recensisce costituisce un prezioso strumento per la ricostruzione della storia della medicina di impianto europeo.

Il volume raccoglie infatti gli atti del II Seminario Internazionale di Studi dedicati alla tradizione indiretta degli antichi testi medici greci, latini ed arabi, tenutosi a Siena nel settembre del 2008. La diffusione diretta ed indiretta della medicina greca nella cultura scientifica tardo antica, medievale e rinascimentale, costituisce il nucleo della ricerca PRIN 2006 "La medicina greca: tradizioni ed influenza" che ha visto coinvolti giovani ed esperti studiosi del settore. Gli sviluppi di questa ricerca, illustrati in tre importanti Seminari Internazionali di Studi,1 offrono importantissime indicazioni agli storici della medicina, non solo antica.

In particolare gli Atti del Secondo Seminario in esame ricostruiscono gli aspetti legati alla tradizione indiretta dei testi medici greci, latini, arabi, che, come scrive Amneris Roselli nel suo saggio 'Testi medici greci. Tradizione indiretta e pratiche editoriali' (pp. 219-34), sono considerevoli e costituiscono un fenomeno peculiare rispetto alla tradizione dei testi tecnici in generale e letterari in particolare. E proprio la ricostruzione della varietà delle tipologie di tradizione dei testi medici permette alla storia della medicina di riscrivere il filum del suo sviluppo.

Nel saggio di Nicoletta Palmieri 'L'Ippocrate latino tardoantico: qualche esempio di bilinguismo imperfetto' (pp. 11-26) si affronta lo studio delle traduzioni latine del VI sec., ponendo l'attenzione sulle tecniche di traduzione adottate per tre importanti testi ippocratici ( De victus ratione, De aëre aquis locis e Prognosticon). Palmieri nota bene come nell'Impero del VI sec., sede di presenze multietniche, il bilinguismo fosse sempre più raro, tanto che lo studioso Guglielmo Cavallo conia l'espressione di "bilinguismo imperfetto", termine con il quale, oltre ad indicare i cittadini latini con ormai sempre più fragili conoscenze di greco, si affiancano abitanti dell'impero di origine greca ed orientale che parlano il latino, ma lo trascrivono utilizzando l'alfabeto ellenico. Secondo Palmieri, un'attenta analisi delle analogie o differenze riscontrate nel metodo di traduzione adottato permette di porre in chiara luce il problema cruciale di identificare le finalità del traduttore e la destinazione d'uso del suo lavoro, ossia il pubblico cui era destinato il prodotto librario. Il De victus ratione ed il De aëre aquis locis sono contenuti nel manoscritto italiano Parisinus 7027 (X sec.), mentre nel manoscritto Ambrosiano G 108 inf. (IX sec.) è presente il Prognosticon. Si tratterebbe, secondo Palmieri, di versioni esasperatamente letterali, concepite come ausilio alla lettura dei testi medici in un contesto di studio: redatte direttamente sul modello greco, erano destinate a facilitare la comprensione di opere divenute troppo difficili per le conoscenze linguistiche dell'occidente tardo antico, tanto da poter essere considerate in origine come vere e proprie traduzioni interlineari. Nei centri come Ravenna, Napoli, Roma, sedi di scuole alle prese con il "bilinguismo imperfetto", queste traduzioni, certamente non destinate ad intellettuali, avevano la funzione più semplicemente di "glossari", utili per decifrare i testi medici, per capirne il senso e forse per commentarli.

Sempre dedicato alla diffusione indiretta dei testi medici greci attraverso opere latine è il saggio di Franco Giorgianni 'Tradizione e selezione del corpus hippocraticum nel De corporis humani fabrica di Teofilo' (pp. 43-77), dedicato alla trasmissione di un'opera che costituisce un vero e proprio manuale enciclopedico di anatomia umana in cinque libri con finalità didattiche. Spunto principale di quest'opera sono i XVII libri del De usu partium di Galeno: galenismo, aristotelismo e scolastica alessandrina si fondono nel progetto di Teofilo di redigere un'immagine del mondo umano ed animale in cui ogni suo componente ha una collocazione ed una composizione perfetta. Tuttavia il Corpus hippocraticum è presente nell'opera teofilea a tal punto che Giorgianni può ben ritenere il Teofilo del De corporis humani fabrica un testimone indiretto della trasmissione di testi ippocratici. Nel suo saggio Giorgianni infatti esamina con particolare attenzione tutti quei passi, relativamente numerosi, del De corporis nei quali Teofilo cita Ippocrate in maniera sia diretta e completa sia indiretta. Gli estratti ippocratici che Giorgianni riscontra nell'opera di Teofilo provengono in larga parte dai trattati pseudo-ippocratici De genitura e De natura pueri, e parzialmente dal De morbo sacro, mentre le citazioni indirette sono tratte dagli Aphorismi e dal Prognosticon. Tutti questi estratti, insieme ai rimandi ricorrenti, sostiene Giorgianni, testimoniano quanto la tradizione diretta ippocratica fosse viva al tempo di Teofilo e come Ippocrate fosse a quel tempo considerato non una mera autorità da citare per soli fini eruditi, ma un esempio di letteratura scientifica sulla quale costruire la professione medica.

Allo studio dei manoscritti medici latini come fonti cui attingere informazioni fondamentali su ampi squarci di sapere scientifico andati perduti è dedicato il contributo di Klaus-Dietrich Fischer 'De auxilio librorum latinorum in memoria scriptorum graecorum de medicina adhibendo' (pp. 11-42), che riporta alla luce opere di medici greci dei quali si era persa memoria, recuperando citazioni dirette alle loro opere ad oggi ancora sconosciute, per esempio nell'Oribasio Latino, Codices Laud. 424 e Par. Lat. 10233.

Le traduzioni latine di Galeno costituiscono il tema centrale dei saggi delle studiose Stefania Fortuna e Anna Maria Urso ('Burgundio da Pisa traduttore di Galeno: nuovi contributi e prospettive', con un'appendice di Paola Annese, 'La traduzione di Burgundio da Pisa del De naturalibus facultatibus di Galeno', pp. 139-75), di Chiara Savino ('Dare ordine a Galeno: l'edizione di Giovanni Battista Rasario (1562-1563)', pp. 187-99) e di Ivan Garofalo ('Il falso commento di Galeno al De humoribus e un saggio di edizione del vero', pp. 201-218). In particolare Garofalo, ricostruendo la storia del falso commento di Galeno agli Umori di Ippocrate, realizzato nel 1562 da G. B. Rasario, presenta un saggio di edizione degli autentici frammenti del commento di Galeno,2 contenuti principalmente in Oribasio e in Razes.

Nel saggio 'Galeno e lo Ps. Alessandro di Afrodisia in due Lyseis di Giovanni Argiropulo' (pp. 177-86), Anna Maria Ieraci Bio esamina un'opera medica poco nota dell'umanista bizantino Giovanni Argiropulo, Le soluzioni delle aporie d'un filosofo-medico cipriota, individuandone due eminenti fonti: l'Ars medica di Galeno, citata esplicitamente nel testo, rimasta inedito fino al 1910,3 ed il De febribus dello Ps. Alessandro di Afrodisia.

Alla presenza di tradizioni greche nella medicina araba sono dedicati i contributi di Oliver Overwien ('Die Bedeutung der orientalischen Tradition für die antike Überlieferung des hippokratischen Eides', pp. 79-103) e di Peter E. Pormann ('Al Kaskari (10th cent.) and the Quotations of Classical Authors: A Philological Study', pp. 105-38). Il saggio di Overwien analizza la tradizione araba del Giuramento di Ippocrate, mentre il lavoro di Pormann ricostruisce la presenza di citazioni di medici greci nell'opera di al-Kaskari, medico attivo a Baghdad nella prima metà del X secolo.

Un indice dei manoscritti citati conclude opportunamente questa interessante raccolta di Atti.


1.   Il primo Seminario risale al 2002, con atti pubblicati in I. Garofalo e A. Roselli (edd.), Galenismo e medicina tardo antica: fonti greche, latine e arabe: Atti del Seminario Internazionale, Siena 9-10 settembre 2002, Napoli 2003; il più recente ha avuto luogo nel 2009: 'Terzo Seminario Internazionale sulla tradizione indiretta dei testi medici greci: le traduzioni', Siena, 18-19 settembre 2009.
2.   La ricostruzione del commento di Galeno agli Umori di Ippocrate è parte di un progetto di raccolta di tutti i frammenti di Galeno, greci ed in traduzione, al quale Garofalo lavora. Composto da Galeno nel 176, nel IV sec. Oribasio ne ricavò diversi estratti. Nella metà del IX sec. fu tradotto in siriaco da Hunain ed in arabo da 'Isa. La traduzione araba non si è conservata, così come l'originale greco. L'opera stampata per la prima volta da Kühn (1828) è un falso come la presunta traduzione latina di Giovanni Battista Rasario, considerata per tre secoli realizzata su un originale autentico.
3.   L'opera fu pubblicata da S. Lampros ad Atene nel 1910, senza apparato delle fonti, sulla base di due manoscritti del XV secolo: il cod. Scor. Φ III 15 e il Par. gr. 958, ai quali si deve aggiungere il Vat. gr. 285 (sec. XV-XVI), vergato da Agallone Mosco, allievo di Argiropulo alla scuola di Kral a Costantinopoli.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
John Taylor, Latin beyond GCSE. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2009. Pp. xvi, 256. ISBN 9781853997204. £14.99 (pb).
Reviewed by John Barsby, University of Otago

This book, written by John Taylor, an experienced English schoolmaster and Head of Classics at Tonbridge School, is closely tied to the Latin syllabus prescribed by OCR, a leading examination board for the top two forms of English secondary schools. Its suitability for its purpose would be best assessed by a current teacher in the English system, but BMCR received no offers of review from this quarter. What is presented here is a more distant view, written by one who taught in an English school at this level for a decade forty years ago and has since been involved in the development of Latin language teaching at school and university level in New Zealand. One question which may interest BMCR readers is to what extent the teaching of Latin in the upper forms of English schools has changed over this period, and in particular how the predominance of reading-based introductory course books (following the example of the Cambridge Latin Course) has affected the rigor with which the subject (and particularly the grammar) is taught at the higher levels.

For those not familiar with the English system, GCSE is the General Certificate of Secondary Education, previously known as O Level; it is based on an examination taken at the end of the last year of general education, known variously as the Fifth Form or Year 11, in practice normally at age sixteen. This is followed by a more specialized two-year advanced course in a limited number of subjects; this course involves an examination at the end of the first year (Lower Sixth or Year 12), called AS or Advanced Subsidiary, and another at the end of the second (Upper Sixth or Year 13), called A2 or Advanced, which corresponds to what used to be known as A Level. OCR is one of the biggest English examination boards (the only one still offering a full set of public examinations in Latin and Greek), an expanded version of the old Oxford and Cambridge Board: its own website fails to explain the acronym, though a determined search reveals that the R stands for RSA (which would need an even more determined search to decode).

According to the first sentence of the Preface (p. viii), the book covers all the language requirements for the OCR AS-level in Latin, and the grammar for A2. It is important to note that it is concerned only with language requirements; the prescription at both AS and A2 level also includes the study of prose and verse set texts. What these language requirements are can be gleaned from the content of the book (or from the OCR website). The prescribed list of accidence and syntax is in fact the same at both levels, though A2 "requires understanding of more complex structures". The A2 prescription also includes continuous prose composition as an option, which the book does not attempt to cover.

The first three chapters (pp. 1-54) cover the whole gamut of syntax, beginning with the use of cases and tenses and ending with conditional clauses in indirect speech. Each point is carefully explained and followed by five Latin sentences to be translated into English and five English sentences to be put into Latin (except at the very end, where remote/closed conditions in indirect statement are evidently judged too difficult for the latter exercise). The explanations are well thought out, thorough and comprehensive, with a series of bullet points in smaller type adding further observations.

Taylor tries conscientiously to explain both the terminology, which is not always easy (why is the supine so called?: p. 21), and the logic behind the various rules (why does dum take the present indicative in unlikely places?: p. 31).His language is largely the conventional language of grammatical description, but he does also make good use of more conversational language to make a point (an indirect command "need not be a bossy order": p. 8). A rare flight of fancy is induced by the complexities of gerundival attraction ("a sort of conjuring trick"); the apparently unobjectionable ars epistulam scribendi "is like an unstable chemical compound or something a spell-check automatically corrects; the gerundive muscles in, changing it to ars epistulae scribendae" (p. 45).

Chapter 4 (pp. 55-85) is entitled "AS practice passages and sentences". , Following the examination prescription, it falls into three parts: "Unseen translation passages for Section A" (15 passages); "Unseen translation from Cicero for Section B", Cicero being the currently prescribed author for this section (15 passages); and English to Latin Sentences for Section B (20 sets of 5). The Section A passages, which are 10-15 lines in length, come from a variety of authors. Livy and Nepos predominate; the others are Cicero, Suetonius, Curtius and Gellius. The Section B (Cicero) passages, divided into (i) lightly adapted passages (5) and (ii) shorter unadapted extracts (10), have only 5-7 lines of Latin. An interesting feature here is that in the "lightly adapted" passages the Latin text is preceded by an English translation of the immediately previous lines to give students a clear idea of the context. Words not in the official OCR vocabulary list are glossed for all passages.

The English-Latin sentences, which are an alternative to the Cicero unseens, are of the type already met in the previous chapters. An interesting introduction (p. 81) urges "close attention to detail in getting the form and ending of every word correct" and recommends the looking up and rechecking of every word except the most common. It also gives some guidelines on Latin word order, which has so far been ignored in the book. Taylor is a firm believer in the value of English-Latin translation: "Translating into Latin may seem difficult at first, but it is the best way to get to know the language properly and to test your understanding of it. It is worth practising even if you do not plan to offer this option for examination. It is also a very satisfying intellectual exercise."

Chapter 5 (pp. 86-135), entitled "A2 practice passages", contains passages for unseen translation and comprehension (both in the same passage). There are four parts: Ovid elegiacs, Ovid hexameters, Caesar and Livy (the first and third of these are prescribed for this purpose in 2010-12 and the second and fourth in 2013-2015). The passages (5 in each part) are typically 18-20 lines long. The first ten or so lines of each are for translation (30 marks) ;the rest becomes the basis for comprehension questions on matters of content, style and tone; For the verse passages this includes two lines for scansion and for the prose passages a grammatical question, typically involving explanation of cases or moods (20 marks). Unfamiliar words are again glossed; since there is no official OCR vocabulary list for A2, the criterion now for glossing is that the word does not appear in the vocabulary list in the back of the book.

The verse section begins with instructions on how to scan hexameters and elegiacs and provides an additional vocabulary list of 250 words which are judged useful for verse unseens ; these again are not glossed in the excerpts. This is the one part of the book where the reviewer has reservations about the treatment. The advice given for scanning verse is basically to bracket all the elisions, mark any syllables you know to be long from the "two-consonant" rule and fill in the rest by applying the scheme of the particular meter as best you can. This is the old crossword-puzzle approach and can be made to work as a pencil-and-paper exercise: in addition students can be told to identify as short a vowel followed by another vowel in the same word and not forming a diphthong. But the goal must be for students to start at the beginning of the line and do the scansion (in their heads, eventually) as they proceed, which is entirely possible if they (i) know the scheme of the meter, (ii) are able to distinguish open and closed syllables and are aware that the latter are long, and (iii) can trust their pronunciation (most of the time) to identify vowels in open syllables as long or short. The book's discussion of syllable division (which is the key to the "two-consonant" rule) is a little muddled: it is surely not true that pulchrum must divide pulch-rum rather than pul-chrum (p. 86). With regard to the pronunciation of vowels, it is interesting that the book does not contain a single macron, even though introductory text books now mark long vowels as a matter of course. It also seems a pity (though this is a criticism of the prescription rather than of the author) that students are asked to scan a couple of lines without commenting on some metrical effect that they have uncovered, such as a spondaic line or an effectively delayed main caesura.

Chapter 6 (pp. 136-60) is a series of five longer Readings, the longest amounting to 81 lines: Nepos on Alcibiades, Curtius on Alexander and Porus, Livy on Horatius and Scaevola (two separate shorter passages), Cicero"s Tusculans on the fear of death, and Tacitus on the fire of Rome. The purpose of these is presumably to provide extra reading for students in addition to the set books that they are studying. The passages are all well chosen for their interest, as are most of the other passages in the book; the difficulty of choosing passages (especially unseens) that combine interest with an appropriate level of linguistic difficulty should not be underestimated.

The six chapters are followed by a substantial reference section, which contains summaries of syntax, a reference grammar, seven useful brief appendices, an English to Latin vocabulary, a Latin to English vocabulary and an index . In addition the preliminary pages include a glossary of grammar terms (pp. x-xvi).

The book represents a considerable achievement. It offers a comprehensive survey of Latin grammar in a more engaging way than the traditional grammar book, and it provides plenty of exercises to reinforce the grammar that has been learned and give practice in applying it. It also offers a good selection of passages for unseen translation and comprehension. Taylor is clearly fascinated with Latin grammar and its various subtleties, and one might deduce that he is used to teaching bright classes who share his enthusiasm. In some of the detail the book must go well beyond the immediate needs of students at this level, but this is hardly a fault.

The book is well produced and attractively set out. The reviewer noticed only two typographical errors: quid respondam? on p. 9, which may mislead, and "sujunctive" on p. 167, which will not. Inevitably in a book of this coverage there are minor quibbles which could be raised. P. xi: Aspect is defined as "the expression of type of time": it is, rather, an aspect of the action of the verb, unrelated to time. P. xii: Complement is defined as "another nominative word or phrase describing the subject": this needs some reference to the verb "to be" and to the idea of completing. P. xii: Elision is defined as the "process by which the final vowel or syllable of a word is in effect knocked off": in fact it is only the vowel which is knocked off (together with nasalizing m) leaving any preceding consonant intact. P. 41: Would the Romans really have said amo currere for "I like running", given as an example of an infinitive as direct object? P. 163: "the ablative is ... a bit of a ragbag": it might be helpful to point out that it is an amalgamation of three Indo-European cases.

If we return to the question posed at the beginning of this review, there is no evidence here of a decline in the thoroughness of the teaching of Latin grammar in English schools, rather the reverse. Students who work their way through this book will be very well equipped linguistically to go on to university study in the subject. If there is a decline, it is in the numbers of students who take Latin to this level, to the extent that even Oxford and Cambridge now offer beginners courses. But that is another story.

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Joannis Mylonopoulos (ed.), Divine Images and Human Imaginations in Ancient Greece and Rome. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 170. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010. Pp. xvi, 437. ISBN 9789004179301. $200.00.
Reviewed by Irene Bald Romano, American School of Classical Studies at Athens

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

This volume consists of thirteen papers originally delivered at a 2007 international conference entitled "Images of Gods — Images for Gods" ("Götterbilder Bilder für die Götter") at the University of Erfurt, exploring issues relating to divine images from various perspectives, although with more focus on Greek than Roman. The editor of the volume, Mylonopoulos, organized the conference and contributed a paper, as well as an excellent introduction on the ancient and modern terms used to describe divine images, theories, and methodological approaches. He reminds us that there was no single word to define "cult image" in ancient Greek or Latin, that the distinction between votive and cult image was often blurred, and that one image could sometimes fulfill both requirements. There have been several recent studies of Greek cult images, by Donohue (1997), Scheer (2000, 8-34) and Bettinetti (2001, 25-63), that include an examination of terminology , and in this volume, Estienne offers an analysis of Latin terms for statue and cult statue (simulacrum, statua, signum, effigies) and discusses the implications of the distinction between images of the gods (simulacrum deorum) and temple ornaments (ornamenta aedium).

Setting aside terminology, these papers and other studies have made clear that the identification of an object as a "cult image" arises from various possible factors, including the use of the object in cult activity or within local religious traditions; the honors it was afforded; oftentimes its purported magical properties and complicated etiology that imbued it with greater interest and sanctity; its prominent position within a sanctuary or shrine (but not necessarily within a temple); and its attributes and other aspects of its appearance, whether anthropomorphic, zoomorphic or aniconic.

Despite these general parameters, there is still lack of certainty over the identification of cult images or specific divinities in Aegean Bronze Age cult, perhaps owing to our lack of complete understanding of visual clues and artistic vocabulary in the absence of literary texts. Blakolmer delves into this issue to try to understand why we fail to recognize specific deities in the complexity of the Minoan and Mycenaean pantheons. This is a situation that is markedly different from the earliest Iron Age cult images, for example, where visible attributes (or other aspects of their physical appearance) were important for the identification of a divinity. These attributes were employed especially intensively from the early 5th century onwards, as Mylonopoulos discusses in his essay on the use of attributes. In the end, Blakolmer justifiably concludes that the evidence for the existence of anthropomorphic cult statues in Minoan Crete or on the mainland in the Mycenaean period is highly speculative, with very little proof that cult images played an essential role in Aegean Bronze Age ritual. A revolution must have occurred sometime early in the 1st millennium B.C. in the way the Greeks conceived of their deities, the way in which they were represented, and in an important aspect of cult practice — the worship of a god through a sacred cult image. For an excellent essay on early Greek religion that suggests some methodological approaches see Pakkanen 2000-2001.

Aniconism has often been discussed as an early stage in the evolution to anthropomorphic images, but it is clear from the existing evidence that non-anthropomorphic objects were used as symbols of the presence of a divinity in various periods. Gaifman uses a historiographical approach to explore this theme and shows that Winckelmannn's reading of the ancient sources, especially of Clement of Alexandria, and his evolutionary schema has colored interpretations from the 18th century to the modern day. It is also Pausanias' fascination with the tales he was told about images from Greece's distant past that has influenced our (mis)understanding of the worship of stones and other non-anthropomorphic objects as a primitive act. The life-story of the wooden and magical aniconic (or semi-iconic) image of the Hermes Perpheraios at Thracian Ainos that is told by Kallimachus' in his seventh iambos provides a case in point, as Petrovic discusses.

In a provocative essay, Keesling shows that despite literary and epigraphical texts that should aid our understanding of religious iconography in the Archaic and Classical periods, there is still ambiguity about how we should interpret the reception of the Greeks to one category of votive image—korai. Keesling attempts to answer what or whom these statues represented, and if these statues that were clearly made for the gods are, in fact, images of the gods, using the Acropolis korai and Archaic-style Cypriot korai for her study. Keesling convincingly suggests that korai took their meaning from their context, their specific placement, the local religious traditions, or historical circumstances, but she generally rejects the notion that korai were perpetual stand-ins for human votaries. Keesling concludes that the ancient viewer would expect to see a divinity in the image, unless the context or some iconographical clues told them otherwise.

Hölscher analyzes Attic vase painting scenes that purport to show cult images in which archaism is used as a formula to denote "statue" and shows how the formula changed over time. She concludes that whereas in the 6th and earlier in the 5th century, statue and god were more often recognizably distinct and both were sometimes depicted on the same vase, the picture changes in the course of the 5th century. On some vases of around the 440s the representation of the god or of a statue of the god may have been left intentionally vague by the painter. Are we, therefore, to suppose that this signals some shift in religious beliefs in this period? Hölscher leaves the question open to some extent, but the subject is an important one that could be explored further. It is also worth pointing out that this is also the period of the creation of the colossal chryselephantine Athena Parthenos, which seems to have served less as an important object of veneration than as a spectacular and ostentatious symbol of Athens.

In an important paper, Pirenne-Delforge summarizes the essential role and position of Greek priests and priestesses and defines the relationship between these servants of the gods and cult images. As we know, neither priests nor cult images were necessary or central to the worship of a deity in ancient Greece, but both were mediators, in a sense, between the divine realm and the human, e.g., in the ritual feeding of the gods and in standing in for the divinity in various rituals, as the priest or, more often, the priestess did—in a mimesis between the servant of the god and the god. In much the same way, cult images stood in place of the divinity.

Pirenne-Delforge also discuss hidrysis, a term defined as the installation of a deity in the human realm. This act involved not only setting up an altar and a cult image, but also "setting up with pots," as Aristophanes (Peace 922-924) describes it—the preparation of a suitable sacrificial feast; the act of hidrysis is thus another way of defining the difference between a divine statue and a cult image. Moede shows that in artistic representations of the Augustan period, the physical transfer of the cult image into the area of an altar is symbolic of the installation of the signum and the founding of a cult, i.e., in Greek terms, the hidrysis.

We have long understood that, in Greek cult practice cult, images were not as important as the act of sacrifice. Ekroth has in recent years published several important articles on Greek sacrifice (see the bibliography in this volume), including an excellent essay in a recent catalogue of the exhibition on heroes at the Walters Art Museum (2009). In the volume under review, she focuses on an early 4th century B.C. Athenian votive relief in the Louvre depicting Theseus and two worshippers with a low mound between them. Ekroth provides a valuable discussion of the characteristics of various kinds of altars, bomos, eschara, as well as simple fieldstone and rock altars, reminding us that various divinities in various locales were given offerings on a range of altars from the simplest to the most monumental structures. In the case of this relief, Ekroth suggests that the mound represents a stone altar, and she speculates that it might be the Horkomosion, a stone mythically connected to Theseus and the place in the Athenian Agora where oaths and treaties were sworn. (For the lithos in front of the 6th century Stoa Basileios, see Camp 1992, 53–57, 100–105.) Ekroth's argument is fascinating and complicated, but since the cult of Theseus is little documented in Greek sources, her hypothesis is speculative.

Scheer discusses how cult images sometimes served not only religious, but also political, purposes. The statue of Athena Alea from Tegea was removed by Augustus to a secular context in Rome, as a punishment to the Tegeans for taking the wrong side in the Battle of Aktion. The Tegeans resorted to appropriating a statue of Athena Hippia from the neighboring town of Manthourea to serve as the image in the temple in Tegea, although it seems by Pausanias' time to have been thought of as Athena Alea. Scheer concludes that the removal of the old cult image did not cause the demise of the sanctuary. Another conclusion might be that the sanctuary, as a place of cult activity may already have been in decline, and the absence of the original cult images had little impact on its functioning.

Steurnagel interprets "temple-sharing" in which images of the deified Roman emperors shared temples with traditional gods (synnaoi theoi). An examination of specific examples shows that the divine emperors were, through "temple-sharing," integrated into the traditional pantheon. This close association of the emperor and his cult with the higher powers brought greater esteem (and financial resources) to the cities where the special status of "cult partnership" was granted. The careful placement of the statue of the divine emperor and the cult image of the god made it clear that the new gods of the imperial cult were not competing with the traditional gods in their temples. Rather, "temple-sharing" was a reinforcement or identifier of the divine status of the ruler.

In the final contribution to this volume, Bravi sheds light on the reception, use and adaptation of pagan statues in Byzantine Constantinople where the aristocratic, cultivated class kept the flame burning for ancient Greece and Greek identity. These Greek and Roman divine images were situated in new public contexts and, at the same time, were used as ideological underpinnings for an imperial city seeking to emphasize its classical roots. Bravi traces the changing reception of Classical images of the gods, depending on the cultural context, from the period of the founding of Constantinople to the looting of the Crusaders in 1203. This is a very fitting conclusion to this volume where so much emphasis has rightly been put on context — temporal, physical, and cultural — and its importance in identifying the meaning of images of the divine.

It is not easy to produce a volume of conference proceedings with such uniformly high scholarly standards in a single language (that is not the native language of all of the contributors). The bibliography is of great value as a compendium of the most recent and relevant references on Greek and Roman divine imagery, and, as is usual for this Brill series on Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, the indices of ancient authors and subjects are excellent. The illustrations are judiciously chosen, and one never feels the need to search through other resources for missing photographs. The editor and the authors are to be congratulated on their very valuable contributions to scholarship on Greek and Roman religion, cult practices, and divine images.


J. Mylonopoulos, "Introduction: Divine Images versus cult images. An endless story about theories, methods, and terminologies," 1-19.
F. Blakolmer, "A pantheon without attributes? Goddesses and gods in Minoan and Mycenaean iconography," 21-61.
M. Gaifman, "Aniconism and the notion of "primitive" in Greek antiquity," 63-86.
C. M. Keesling, "Finding the gods: Greek and Cypriot votive korai revisited," 87-103.
F. Hölscher, "Gods and statues—An approach to archaistic images in the fifth century BCE," 105-120.
V. Pirenne-Delforge, "Greek priests and "cult statues": In how far are they necessary?," 121-141.
G. Ekroth, "Theseus and the stone. The iconographic and ritual contexts of a Greek votive relief in the Louvre," 143-169.
J. Mylonopoulos, "Odysseus with a trident? The use of attributes in ancient Greek imagery," 171-203.
I. Petrovic, "The life story of a cult statue as an allegory: Kallimachus' Hermes Perpheraios," 205-224.
T. Scheer, "Arcadian cult images between religion and politics," 225-239.
D. Steuernagel, "Synnaos theos. Images of Roman emperors in Greek temples," 241-255.
S. Estienne, "Simulacra deorum versus ornamenta aedium. The status of divine images in the temples of Rome," 257-271.
K. Moede, "The dedication of cult statues at the altar. A Roman pictorial formula for the introduction of new cults," 273-287.
A. Bravi, "Ornamenta, monumenta, exempla. Greek images of gods in the public spaces of Constantinople," 289-301.
Bibliography, 303-359.
Index of passages cited, 361-366.
Subject Index, 367-386.
Figures, 387-437.


Bettinetti 2001 = S. Bettinetti, La statua di culto nella pratica rituale greca. Bari.
Camp 1992 = Camp, J. M. 1992. The Athenian Agora: Excavations in the Heart of Classical Athens. London.
Donohue 1997 = A. Donohue, "The Greek Images of the Gods: Considerations on Terminology and Methodology," Hephaistos 15, 31-45.
Ekroth 2009 = G. Ekroth, "The Cult of Heroes" in S. Albersmeier, ed. Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. New Haven, 120-143.
Pakkanen 2000-2001 = P. Pakkanen, "The Relationship Between Continuity and Change in Dark Age Greek Religion: A Methodological Study," Opuscula Atheniensia 25-26, 71-88.
Scheer 2000 = T. S. Scheer, Die Gottheit und ihr Bild. Untersuchungen zur Funktion griechischer Kultbilder in Religion und Politik, Zetemata 10, Munich.

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Giuseppe Agosta, Ricerche sui Cynegetica di Oppiano. Supplementi di Lexis 41. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert Editore, 2009. Pp. 166. ISBN 9789025612498. €40.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Sebastián Martínez García, Institut Can Vilumara, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Spain

Los Cynegetica, poema didáctico griego escrito a principios del siglo III d. C. por un supuesto Opiano, natural de Apamea en Siria, no han merecido gran atención por parte de los estudiosos; en efecto, la crítica no ha sido pródiga en ediciones, traducciones o estudios. El libro de G. Agosta viene a sumarse a otros escasos volúmenes bastante recientes, como son los de A. N. Bartley,1 L. L'Allier,2 M. Papathomopoulos3 y T. Silva Sánchez,4 así como las publicaciones algo más antiguas de C. Calvo Delcán,5 de A. W. James,6 de F. M. Pontani7 y de W. Schmitt,8 aparte de unos pocos artículos de diversos autores, que, por razones de espacio no se mencionarán aquí, pero cuyas referencias se pueden encontrar en los repertorios habituales o en las bibliografías de los libros de G. Agosta, de A. N. Bartley o de T. Silva Sánchez. El volumen que nos ocupa trata de algunos aspectos del poema, en particular su carácter didáctico y su valor de ofrenda al emperador, centrándose sobre todo en el estudio del comienzo del canto II.

La introducción (p. 1-2) recuerda la bibliografía más importante a propósito de los Cynegetica y anuncia las intenciones del autor, el análisis de algunos aspectos del poema que ya mencionamos, en particular en torno a los versos II 1-175, cuyo texto publica con aparato crítico y traducción al italiano. Sigue una escueta presentación (p. 3-5) de la biografía del poeta, donde Agosta, teniendo en cuenta las pruebas que aportan los textos de los propios poemas, se alinea con la tradicional distinción entre un Opiano, cilicio de nación, autor de los Halieutica a finales del II d. C. y otro autor, nacido en Apamea (Siria), autor de los Cynegetica. Hace también hincapié en que las biografías bizantinas, en la medida en que contradicen los testimonios de los propios poemas, no son de fiar. Aporta además un punto de vista nuevo (aunque, siendo un argumento ex silentio, no parece conveniente usarlo): el hecho de que el autor de los Cynegetica evita presentarse como la misma persona que escribió los Halieutica (p. 5).

El capítulo I (p. 7-18) estudia los proemios de los Cynegetica como manifestación de la conciencia poética, en tanto que adscriben el poema a un género poético, y como elemento estructurador de la materia zoológica y venatoria. Agosta considera que los argumentos zoológicos son necesarios para ilustrar la virtus animal con la que rivaliza el cazador, y que dichos argumentos además siguen la tradición de los escritos sobre caza y responden a las demandas culturales de sus contemporáneos. El contraste que observa Agosta (p. 12-13) entre el relato de la hazaña acometida por Hércules contada en el canto II y el desarrollo mítico sobre el origen dionisíaco de los leopardos en el canto IV resulta interesante, puesto que dichas narraciones simétricas sobre Hércules y Dioniso, las dos divinidades más apreciadas por Caracalla, marcarían el principio y el final de la composición.

En el capítulo II (p. 19-31), que lleva por título "(Θέατρα) κυνηγετικὰ", Agosta explica que el poema puede verse como un munus ofrecido al emperador (p. 22) y destaca las diferencias entre los Cynegetica y sus antecesores (p. 28-29). Hay algunas opiniones un tanto injustificadas, como la de que Opiano habría viajado a África (p. 24), siguiendo a R. Keydell,9 que se apoya en III 46-47, pero el hecho de que el poeta declare haber visto un animal africano, cuando fue transportado para servir de espectáculo en presencia del emperador, no parece motivo suficiente para creer que haya visitado África. Asimismo parece bastante gratuito decir que el poeta encontró inspiración constante en el culto imperial (p. 25-26), cuando de él sólo se conoce esta obra.

El capítulo III (p. 33-60), titulado "Τόποι" está consagrado al estudio del proemio del canto II del poema, concretamente de los versos 1-42. El análisis es exhaustivo y concienzudo, aunque se pueda discrepar de algún detalle, como el hecho de que la expresión δίδυμον γένος de II 2 podría implicar una participación de Apolo en el don de la caza a los mortales (p. 37). Sin embargo, contiene algún acierto muy valioso en mi opinión, como su propuesta acerca de ἐπιδόρπιον, que conduce a una valiente interpretación del pasaje a propósito de los cazadores míticos: considera que ἐπιδόρπιον tiene el sentido de "alimenticio" y que caracteriza a los Centauros frente a los cazadores nobles (p. 39-40). También resulta interesante la interpretación en el sentido de que el Pseudo-Opiano retrata a Perseo como un representante de los cazadores a la carrera (p. 46-47) en una clasificación donde los personajes mitológicos que han recibido este don de Ártemis representan los distintos tipos de caza, descendiendo desde los más nobles a los más humildes: desde Perseo el corredor hasta Orión, que practica la caza nocturna, condenada por Platón (Leg. 824a). La conclusión de este capítulo incide en la variada mezcla de tópicos literarios que informan los proemios de los poemas didácticos, procedentes, en el caso que nos ocupa, de las tradiciones cinegética, didáctica, bucólica y épica, principalmente.

El capítulo IV (p. 61-72), que lleva por título "Ἔπη (la lotta dei tori: 2.43-82)", estudia la estructura y fuentes del pasaje dedicado al enfrentamiento entre los toros para emparentarlo con la épica. Es innegable el carácter homerizante del pasaje (cabe preguntarse si un pasaje de lucha, al menos en hexámetros dactílicos griegos, podía evitar el referente homérico), pero lo que no parece tan evidente son algunas afirmaciones de Agosta (p. 69), en el sentido de que la disputa entre los dos toros aluda de alguna manera al enfrentamiento entre Aquiles y Agamenón presentado al comienzo de la Ilíada: la confrontación entre Aquiles y Agamenón tiene carácter único e irrepetible frente a las luchas de los toros que se repiten anualmente en cada vacada entre machos dominantes y aspirantes. No parece que este pasaje anule la distinción entre poema épico y poema didáctico (p. 70), tanto más cuanto que se contradice con la afirmación de que "i poemi che si suole definiri didattici appartenevano semplicemente, o prima di tutto, all'epica" (p. 69). Tampoco podemos estar completamente de acuerdo con una frase muy poco matizada: "non sarà difficile intendere la praeteritio applicata agli animali βαιοί e οὐτιδανοί (2.570 ss.) anche come rifiuto, imposto dai canoni dell'epos, di assumere a protagonisti soggetti umili, inferiori" (p. 71). Y es que la poca atención que presta el poeta a estos animales se debe a su escaso interés cinegético.

En el capítulo V, "Εὐρέα κάλλη (2.100-58)", que ocupa las p. 73-86, Agosta analiza el pasaje etiológico sobre los toros de Siria siguiendo principalmente a A. S. Hollis,10 a P. Bernard11 y, en menor medida, a T. Silva Sánchez.12 El autor considera que estos versos serían una presentación de la ciudad de Apamea ante el emperador Caracalla, una especie de xenion que acompañaría el homenaje (p. 80). La conclusión del capítulo (p. 84-86), que relaciona el pasaje con el excurso mitológico del canto IV acerca de la transformación de las bacantes en leopardos, no parece tan clara, puesto que se apoya en la seguridad de que el texto del poema está completo, lo cual parece, por lo menos, discutible.

"La nature organisée", expresión tomada de un artículo de M. Riffaterre13 es el título del capítulo VI (p. 87-95), que trata de la estructura del poema. Para Agosta la descripción de la confrontación hombre-animal (canto IV) está precedida por dos partes dedicadas a los respectivos instrumentos, medios de defensa o armas (el canto I está consagrado a los humanos y los cantos II-III a los recursos de los animales). Está claro que la estructura del canto II se basa en la alternancia entre animales grandes y pequeños, aunque no sucede así en el canto III. Agosta también subraya la organización paralela de los cantos II y III, comenzando por el animal más importante de las respectivas categorías (canto II: toro; canto III: león), acabando con animales ajenos a la materia del libro y ordenando a menudo los animales por parejas (toro-bisonte, lobo-hiena, jabalí-puercoespín, etc.).

El último capítulo del libro, "Formaler Typ" (p. 97-105), estudia la clasificación de los Cynegetica como formaler Typ de poema didáctico en la tipología de B. Effe;14 los rasgos que motivarían esta clasificación serían el desinterés por el tema por parte del autor y su inclinación hacia una forma agradable. El estudio del poema, según Agosta, en particular la realización de una función didáctica efectiva, permite, no obstante, considerar que más bien tendría que pertenecer al tipo transparente, como su modelo principal, los Halieutica de Opiano de Cilicia, si es que esta categoría no es (en palabras de Agosta) un "miraggio critico".

En las páginas finales del trabajo (p. 107-129) se recoge el texto de II 1-175 (precedido de un prefacio sobre la tradición manuscrita), texto que no presenta erratas, según hemos comprobado; va acompañado de aparato crítico y de una traducción italiana verso a verso. Siguen (p. 131-152) unas notas críticas que tratan algo menos de una treintena de lectiones; entre ellas hay tres aportaciones de Agosta; para el verso II 59 (p. 136-138) sugiere la posibilidad de que la lectura original fuera σάλπιγξεν, pero, con buen criterio, no edita esta corrección, superflua a nuestro entender. Por contra, en el v. 89 (p. 142-144), un lugar bastante complicado, la elección de Agosta (ἐνέπουσιν, ἐννηέες εἰσανέχονται) parece acertada y defendible. En cambio, la corrección ἀλλήλῃσι propuesta para el v. 168 (p. 151-152) es desafortunada y resulta extraño que Agosta no se haga eco del excelente análisis del pasaje que hace T. Silva Sánchez.15 El volumen acaba con una recopilación bibliográfica muy completa (p. 153-165).

En suma, Agosta realiza un análisis completo del pasaje II 1-175 de los Cynegetica, en el que se conjugan observaciones atinadas, opiniones difíciles de demostrar y aportaciones valiosas. El libro constituye un avance en el conocimiento del contenido y el sentido de la obra del poeta de Apamea.


1.   Stories from the Mountains. Stories from the Sea. The Digressions and Similes of Oppian's Halieutica and the Cynegetica, Göttingen, 2003.
2.   Arrien & Oppien d'Apamée. L'Art de la Chasse. Cinegétiques, París, 2009.
3.   Oppiani Apamensis Cynegeticorum Concordantia, Hildesheim-Zurich-New York, 1997; y Oppianus Apameensis, Cynegetica. Eutecnius sophistes, Paraphrasis metro soluta, Munich-Leipzig, 2003.
4.   El hexámetro de Opiano de Anazarbo y Opiano de Apamea, tesis doctoral, Cádiz, 1998 (edición en microfichas, Cádiz, 1999); y Sobre el texto de los Cynegetica de Opiano de Apamea, Cádiz, 2002.
5.   Opiano, De la caza, De la pesca. Anónimo, Lapidario órfico, Madrid, 1990.
6.   Index in Halieutica Oppiani Cilicis et in Cynegetica poetae Apameensis, Hildesheim, 1970.
7.   Nos referimos a la traducción publicada en I. Furlan, Codici greci illustrati della Biblioteca Marciana, V, Padua, 1988, p. 49-79, y VI, Padua, 1997, p. 55-80; también se puede encontrar en Tratado de Caza. Oppiano. Cynegetica, Valencia, 2002, p. 401-448.
8.   Komentar zum ersten Buch von Pseudo-Oppians Kynegetica, diss. Münster, 1969.
9.   "Oppianos", RE 18-1, 1939, c. 704.
10.   "[Oppian], Cyn. 2, 100-158 and the mythical Past of Apamea-on-the-Orontes", ZPE 102, 1994, 153-166.
11.   "I. Une légende de fondation hellénistique: Apamée sur l'Oronte d'après les 'Cynégétiques' du pseudo-Oppien. II Paysages et toponymie dans le Proche Orient hellénisé", Topoi 5, 1995, 353-408.
12.   "Kaiserkult y creación poética. Algunas reflexiones sobre las Vitae Oppiani y la composición de los Cynegetica", ExcPhil 4-5, 1994-1995, 107-122.
13.   "Système d'un genre descriptif", Poétique 3, 1972, p. 25.
14.   Dichtung und Lehre. Untersuchungen zur Typologie des antiken Lehrgedicht, Munich, 1977.
15.   Sobre el texto de los Cynegetica de Opiano de Apamea, Cádiz, 2002, p. 134-137.

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Martin M. Winkler (ed.), The Fall of the Roman Empire: Film and History. Malden, MA/Oxford/Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Pp. xvii, 334; 24 p. of plates. ISBN 9781405182232. $119.95.
Reviewed by Hunter H. Gardner, University of South Carolina


I requested this book for review under the impression that it offered various perspectives on how Roman decline was represented in a range of so-called "toga films," and was somewhat surprised to find that the entire volume is dedicated to exploring the historicity and artistic value of Anthony Mann's 1964 film, The Fall of the Roman Empire (hereafter FOTRE). I had omitted the film from my "Classics in the Cinema" (Spring 2010) syllabus, including only an excerpt of it for students to watch in conjunction with the film's more popular successor, Gladiator . Not to be discouraged, I decided to approach the volume, a companion piece to similar collections on Spartacus(2007) and Gladiator (2004), not only as an exploration of this particular film, but also as an overview of the questions and methods that scholars are using to address depictions of the ancient world in cinema. On both counts, the volume is largely successful. In what follows I outline the arguments offered by each contributor, saving for my concluding remarks a few issues that I (as a neophyte teacher of an undergraduate course on classics in the cinema) thought could use further consideration.

The critical appreciation (chapter one) offered by Martin Winkler demonstrates the scholar's genuine admiration for Mann's film and polemically builds a case for the virtues of FOTRE based on its relationship to Ridley Scott's Gladiator, a loose remake of the 1964 film in so far as both treat the matter of Commodus' accession after the death of Marcus Aurelius. As an ardent admirer of Scott's film, I am unconvinced by many of Winkler's criticisms (e.g., "Gladiator deals with Roman history mainly as blood sport,"); yet a defensive posture may be unavoidable when evaluating FOTRE, often considered the box office failure that sounded the death knell for the genre. Winkler's appreciation proceeds on firmer footing when he discusses FOTRE's strengths on their own terms, especially the film's sensitive treatment of Marcus Aurelius. Winkler rightly emphasizes how the ending of the film diverges from most formulaic narratives of imperial Rome that end in the overthrow of a tyrant: FOTRE's conclusion implies that tyranny and corruption are not inherent in individuals alone, but can be attributed to society as a whole. By concluding with a meditation on the film's role in an ongoing dialogue about the lessons to be learned from ancient Rome and applied to America as an "unparalleled superpower," Winkler introduces questions about the equation between Rome and America in FOTRE that will be further developed by other contributors.

Allen Ward (chapter two) makes a strong case for the film's serious interest in Roman history, and demonstrates how Mann (under the guidance of historian/consultant Will Durant, and ultimately Edward Gibbon) visually demonstrates the extent and diversity, as well as the failures, of the Roman empire. The chapter provides a thoughtful analysis of how the film's screenwriters adapted ancient sources. While noting a few significant inaccuracies (Ward is most critical of the film's virtual silence about Christianity), the author explains the majority of FOTRE's deviations from the historical record as a desire to address contemporary issues and create fictions that allow more significant truths about Roman decline to be conveyed in a film of viewable length.

Diskin Clay's contribution (chapter three) examines Marcus Aurelius' philosophical interests and how those interests were perceived by others according to a range of ancient sources. Clay also cites frequently from the Meditations, especially those passages that reflect on Marcus Aurelius' notion of his role as princeps. Clay avoids direct discussion of the film, aside from the occasional comment on the difficultly of dramatizing on screen Marcus Aurelius' philosophical reflections. Consequently, the chapter does not directly enhance our appreciation of the film, though it does provide useful comparanda for those interested in Marcus Aurelius' representation as a quasi- "philosopher-king" in the western tradition.

In a similar manner, Eleonora Cavallini (chapter four) is not primarily concerned with addressing the cinematic achievement of FOTRE, other than to use the film as a starting point for discussion about misrepresentations of Commodus. While conceding that the Commodus of Mann's film is faithful to the Commodus of historical tradition, she exposes the literary stereotypes that may have shaped such a tradition. As her discussion turns from the scathing portrait drawn in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae to more ambivalent or even positive evaluations of Commodus, we are attuned to the possibility of a ruler whose governance (especially his conservative border policy1) reflected a keen interest in preserving the empire. While scholars and moviegoers alike may find it hard to shake Commodus' scintillating perversity, as well as its implications for the master narrative that has shaped our ideas about the fall of Rome, Cavallini makes readers more sensitive to the fictions created by Hollywood and antiquity alike. Jan Willem Drijvers (chapter five) focuses on the antithesis between West and East as one of many opposites that structure the toga film. Drijvers identifies a "simplistic celluloid mythology" that "emphasizes the dichotomy between East and West and the good Westerner's superiority over the bad Easterner." While Drijvers largely confines his discussion to FOTRE, and especially the portrait of the Armenian prince Sohamus (=Sohaemus of historical tradition), he usefully acknowledges other films in which this dichotomy operates (The Robe, Ben-Hur, Spartacus, 300). Constructions of the East reveal more about the culture that generates them than about the orient itself, and the author concludes with an intriguing, if not fully explored, demonstration of the extent to which Commodus and Rome are orientalized at the end of the film.

Chapters six and seven include documentation of the early 1960s ideologies that went into production of the film, a brief essay written by Anthony Mann (first published in 1964), followed by excerpts from the original American souvenir program. Mann defines the intent of the film as an effort to relate the Roman story rather than the Christian story more common to Hollywood toga films. The essay also reveals something of Mann's attitude towards the "spectacle film" and its relationship to historical accuracy: details can be tampered with, but "you cannot change the actual event." The souvenir program excerpts (chapter seven) include a prologue by Durant and a lively excursus on the development and history of the Roman forum, as well as a detailed account of how Veniero Colasanti and John Moore created a life-sized replica of the forum outside the Bronston studios in Madrid.

Winkler's second contribution to the collection (chapter eight) explores the influential role played by Gibbon's history in marking Commodus' reign as the beginning of Roman decline, an influence evident in various narratives of Roman history, but especially in FOTRE. To demonstrate the impact of Gibbon's work on the film, Winkler cites comments from Mann's essay, as well as segments of various speeches in the film. Winkler argues that Gibbon and Mann share a fundamentally similar approach to the past: like Gibbon, Mann wanted his audience to see things from a Roman perspective, and like Gibbon, Mann stressed the relevance of the Roman empire to today's empires. The affinity between the film and Gibbon's history is due in part to the overtly literary qualities of The History of the Decline and Fall, and in particular, Gibbon's penchant for developing visual imagery, which Winkler describes as "innately cinematic".2

Winkler's focus on the literary qualities of Gibbon's work provides a background for the scholar's final contribution (chapter nine), on the complex relationship between history and historical fiction/cinema. Winkler, expanding the limits of what many consider historical fiction by including all historical narratives (from ancient epic to Shakespeare's Hamlet), offers a defense of the genre grounded within ancient debates about visual and verbal representations. The author defends the proposition that all texts (whether verbal or visual) relate to other texts, rather than to historical events. This line of thinking may appear obvious to readers accustomed to recognize an unbridgeable gap between discursive representations of an event and the event itself--yet the defense is warranted in light of the scorn often heaped on the historical novel or film. The second part of this chapter treats Mann's film as a demonstration of the "feeling of history," a phrase borrowed from the director and used by Winkler to convey the capacity of a creative artist to make an audience emotionally involved with historical processes. Among the intriguing correspondence between Mann and Durant included in the chapter, there is brief mention of the necessary "commercial viability" that impacts many cinematic projects, though the author does not probe how such necessity has the power to distort a "feeling of history." Still, this chapter was one of the most substantial in the volume, providing an apologia of the historical film as a viable approach to understanding the ancient world.

In chapter ten, Ward Briggs returns to the matter of the 1960s political climate addressed in the film, with particular focus on how different forms of government are reflected and refracted in FOTRE. Briggs includes an in-depth history of Mann's career, which departs from the trend of mid-century filmmakers who used Rome as an analogue for contemporary forms of totalitarianism. In outlining the more positive evaluation of Rome evident from the first part of the film, Briggs cites thematic overlap between John Kennedy's acceptance speech and that of Marcus Aurelius to the assembled representatives of the Roman provinces. Optimism about Roman potential is countered in the film's second half by a distinct pessimism, more characteristic of Mann's oeuvre, regarding the capacity of any hero to correct the processes of decline.

The volume's final chapter (eleven), contributed by Peter Rose, attempts to recapture the political consciousness (or "political unconscious") of American citizens in the period just prior to the film's production. Rose views the anxieties of empire as a primary inspiration for FOTRE, and (like Briggs, et al.) recognizes the film's unique treatment of Rome as representative of America, rather than of those totalitarian governments commonly depicted as expansive and threatening in the prevalent mythology of US anti-imperialism. To locate the sources of anxiety that inspired the politics of Mann's film, Rose offers a thorough portrait of US foreign relations of the late 50s and early 60s, especially US /Cuban relations.

Rose's contribution to some extent addresses two aspects of the film that are frequently overlooked in the volume. In speculating on the film's reception, Rose suggests that FOTRE's original audiences were offered a warning that they must believe in the American empire if it is to survive, but were simultaneously exhorted to change the character of their empire away from xenophobia toward a more peaceful, multicultural society. This message, perhaps overly conflicted or overly nuanced, may have had something to do with the film's failure. Amidst all its well-articulated admiration for FOTRE, the volume could do more to explain why the film has become emblematic of the fall of the toga film. In his conclusion, Rose also mentions the film's regressive sexual politics: this might have been further explored, particularly since there is generally so much interest in viewing FOTRE in the light of Gladiator. For all its indebtedness to Mann's film, Gladiator offers a portrait of Lucilla (Connie Nielson) that conspicuously challenges the portrait of Lucilla (Sophia Loren) as a "woman defined by her subservience to two males." Considering the volume's larger achievement of providing a comprehensive treatment of an underappreciated film from a variety of critical perspectives, such omissions are not so much failings as starting points for further research.

The collection concludes with excerpts from Gibbon on the period covered by the film, along with relevant selections from Dio Cassius, Scriptores Historiae Augustae, and Herodian.


1.   On this aspect of Commodus' reign, see Arthur M. Eckstein, "Commodus and the Limits of the Roman Empire," in Martin M. Winkler (ed.), Gladiator: Film and History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 53-72.
2.   In this characterization of Gibbon's work, Winkler follows W.B. Carnochan, Gibbon's Solitude: The Inward World of the Historian (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987), 59, 62.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010


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Cristina Carusi, Il sale nel mondo greco, VI a.C.-III d.C.: luoghi di produzione, circolazione commerciale, regimi di sfruttamento nel contesto del Mediterraneo antico. Pragmateiai; 15. Bari: Edipuglia, 2008. Pp. 325. ISBN 9788872285428. €40.00.
Reviewed by Vincent Jolivet, Centre national de la recherche scientifique -- UMR8546, Paris

Avant de devenir un problème de santé majeur pour les populations des pays (trop) développés, le sel a joué, dès la Préhistoire, un rôle essentiel dans le système alimentaire de l'homme. Cristina Carusi souligne d'emblée (p. 7) que les études qui le concernent ont connu récemment un développement beaucoup plus important pour les périodes médiévale et moderne (orientation bibliographique aux notes 3-4) que pour l'Antiquité. Son livre se présente donc comme la première monographie moderne relative au sel dans le monde grec, du VIe siècle av. J.-C. au IIIe siècle ap. J.-C. Il vient particulièrement à point, compte tenu de l'importance du sujet en termes d'histoire économique, d'autant qu'il concerne un cadre topographique et chronologique beaucoup plus large que ne le laisserait supposer son titre : abordant des questions relatives à tout le bassin méditerranéen, et au-del à (la mer Noire), ainsi qu' à une période comprise entre la Pré- ou la Protohistoire (voir p. 41-43, 89-91 ou 98-99, p. ex.) et le VIIe siècle ap. J.-C. (p. 66), il ne néglige pas, de loin en loin, l'éclairage offert par l'anthropologie ou l'ethnographie, par les récits de voyages des XVIIe -XVIIIe siècles, voire par des témoignages beaucoup plus récents encore.

Le corps du livre se compose de quatre principaux chapitres, efficacement résumés aux p. 10-11 : sel et sources antiques ; lieux de production du sel en Méditerranée ; approvisionnement et circulation dans le monde grec ; modes d'exploitation dans le monde grec.

Le premier chapitre (p. 15-43) consiste en un inventaire très détaillé, au travers des sources grecques et latines des principales mentions du sel, dont différents textes permettent de saisir la valeur tant concrète que symbolique, si importante qu'on le tenait pour l'un des traits distinctifs de l'homme civilisé par rapport au barbare (p. 22). Même si la facilité à se le procurer en faisait une denrée peu estimée, son importance transparaît au travers des sources qui montrent qu'il répondait alors à une gamme de besoins très diversifiés : condiment, agent de conservation des aliments, de préparation des salaisons -- poissons ou sauces de poisson -- ou encore pour la nourriture des esclaves et du bétail, la préparation de la pourpre, la métallurgie, les soins médicaux apportés aux hommes et aux bêtes... Son importance était donc cruciale dans le commerce à moyenne ou longue distance, dans toute la Méditerranée, d'un certain nombre d'aliments. L'auteur distingue quatre modes différents d'exploitation du sel, pouvant aller de l'échelle privée à celle d'installations de type industriel : dépôts naturels, salines artificielles (l'idée répandue selon laquelle, dotées de plusieurs vasques, elles auraient été introduites sur le littoral méditerranéen par les Arabes, est réfutée à la p. 37), sel gemme de l'arrière pays, ainsi que les rares exemples (on quitte ici le domaine des sources littéraires), dont les plus anciens remontent au Néolithique, de briquetages, récipients en terre cuite brisés après cristallisation du sel, qui devaient avoir valeur de monnaie d'échange pour les biens de prestige, mais qui paraissent avoir entièrement disparu à l'époque historique (p. 41-43).

Le deuxième chapitre, le plus nourri (p. 45-148), est un catalogue des lieux de production antiques connus du sel, subdivisé en quinze parties dont la première est une réflexion méthodologique sur l'usage des sources : l'auteur insiste sur la difficulté à distinguer gisements naturels et sites d'exploitation artificielle, et sur le caractère hautement périssable d'installations toujours légères (un ou plusieurs bassins, quelques canaux et, dans certains cas, un dispositif spécifique de levage de l'eau, le tympanum décrit par Vitruve, ici p. 35) situées le long du littoral, c'est-à-dire dans des zones dont les contours ont été partout affectés de manière importante depuis l'Antiquité. Lagunes et lacs côtiers offraient en effet les meilleures conditions pour la production du sel, et ont été souvent le siège d'ateliers de production de salaisons : difficile de dire, dans ces conditions, si c'est la disponibilité en sel ou la richesse en poisson qui ont décidé de l'implantation de ces ateliers, tant ces différentes ressources halieutiques, précisément, sont imbriquées et attestées sur les mêmes sites. Les quatorze autres parties nous entraînent dans une circumnavigation qui, au départ de l'Attique, touche notamment la mer Noire, l'Égypte et la péninsule ibérique avant de nous ramener à notre point de départ avec la péninsule italienne (le développement spécifique consacré à Rome est approfondi aux p. 199-202 ; on notera qu'en différents points de la péninsule, le sel est associé plus ou moins directement à Hercule, p. 138, 140, 142) 1, pour finir avec la côte adriatique. L'auteur convoque à cet effet un nombre impressionnant de sources littéraires, épigraphiques, papyrologiques, juridiques, archéologiques, toponymiques ou paléo-environnementales qui, dans leur diversité et leur hétérogénéité, permettent de prendre la mesure de la complexité de l'étude. On ne peut donc s'attendre à un exposé uniforme pour ces différents secteurs géographiques, et les données sont présentées ici sous forme de paragraphes successifs (a, b, c...), selon un ordre qui peut parfois déconcerter le lecteur -- un sous-titre pour chacune d'entre elles eût permis d'organiser plus clairement le corpus, et de mieux repérer les thèmes traités.

Avec le troisième chapitre (p. 149-188), le cercle se resserre sur le monde grec. L'auteur étudie d'abord les besoins en sel des communautés grecques au travers de tentatives de quantification qui s'avèrent assez aléatoires. Ces besoins ont déterminé différentes stratégies d'approvisionnement, ici plus spécifiquement étudiées au travers de deux cas, celui de l'Attique, où le sel n'est pas un élément central du débat politique, et celui de la Macédoine, où il le devint dès lors que Paul Émile en interdit l'importation après Pydna, sans doute dans le but de ralentir la production de l'or et de faire obstacle au déplacement des personnes. Suivent trois aspects plus techniques : la valeur économique réduite du sel dont les sources montrent notamment qu'il était beaucoup moins cher que le blé (7,5 fois moins à Athènes en 295 av. J.-C., p. 163) ; son mode de mesure au volume, et non au poids, et les questions de transport pour lesquels son poids, en regard de sa valeur marchande, constituait un handicap important, qui explique que l'on ait surtout cherché à utiliser les ressources locales -- même si nous savons (p. 167) que certains navires en étaient exclusivement chargés ; la circulation et le commerce, avec une attention particulière pour le trafic vers l'arrière-pays, notamment en Thrace, et la question des sels DOC, comme on dirait aujourd'hui, en raison des vertus qu'on leur prêtait, qui ont fréquemment été exportés, mais en faibles quantités. Le chapitre se clôt par une brève étude de la circulation des salaisons dont la production implique la disponibilité de quantités importantes de sel, même s'il n'est pas obligatoire que celui-ci ait été, tout ou partie, collecté ou produit sur place.

Le quatrième chapitre (p. 189-246) regroupe les données en fonction de trois situations géopolitiques bien distinctes : celle des cités grecques de l'époque archaïque à l'époque hellénistique, des royaumes hellénistiques, et du monde grec dans le système des provinces romaines. Rien ne permet d'établir que les premières aient exercé un contrôle étatique sur les ressources en sel du littoral, même si son exploitation a pu faire l'objet de taxes ; de surcroît, la plupart des documents pointe vers un contrôle des salines par les associations religieuses ou les grands sanctuaires – l'Artémision d'Éphèse ou le temple d'Athéna Poliade a Priène, par exemple. À l'intérieur de l'immense aire géographique couverte par les royaumes hellénistiques, conçus comme la propriété personnelle du roi, et particulièrement bien illustrée par le corpus papyrologique de l'Égypte (étude approfondie de la halikè, la taxe sur le sel du régime ptolémaïque, aux p. 214-222), la diversité des sources et des situations défie l'analyse mais confirme l'absence de tutelle étatique directe sur le commerce du sel. L'époque de la domination romaine présente la même diversité, en dépit de la tentative des compagnies de publicains de s'emparer des salines contrôlées jusqu'alors par les grands sanctuaires ; l'idée d'un monopole étatique, contenue dans le codex Iustinianus, ne semble être apparue qu'à l'initiative d'Honorius et d'Arcadius (p. 242) 2. Le chapitre s'achève par une étude spécifique de la question du garum sociorum, à propos duquel l'auteur réfute l'hypothèse d'un contrôle de cette production, dans toute la péninsule ibérique, par une societas publicanorum, même s'il n'est pas exclu que le peuple romain y ait possédé une partie des grandes salines.

Pour qui n'aura pas eu le loisir de lire tout l'ouvrage, le cinquième chapitre (p. 247-253), qui forme sa conclusion, représente un véritable tour de force compte tenu de l'ampleur de la documentation : en renouant tous les fils suivis dans les quatre chapitres précédents avec une grande rigueur, mais sans évacuer les zones d'ombre, l'auteur y expose clairement et succinctement les résultats de son enquête, ses incertitudes, et les perspectives de recherche futures dans ce domaine.

L'ouvrage est complété par un chapitre comportant le texte et la traduction (qu'on aurait préféré trouver en vis-à-vis) de l'excursus de Pline (31.73-105) relatif au sel, d'après l'édition Einaudi, en partie dérivé d'un ouvrage perdu de Théophraste. Suivent une liste des abréviations, une bibliographie de plus de 20 pages et trois index : des auteurs anciens (9 pages, pour plus de 120 auteurs) ou de sources documentaires (4 pages), des noms propres et des noms de lieux (7 pages), enfin, des matières (comportant peu de termes, mais soigneusement détaillés en fonction de la région géographique concernée). Enfin, 17 figures en noir et blanc sont regroupées sur 11 pages en fin de volume.

Comme on l'a vu, l'ampleur et la diversité de la documentation ici rassemblée force l'admiration, d'autant que l'auteur combine érudition philologique, clarté d'exposition et prudence dans les hypothèses. Tous les passages d'auteurs anciens sont cités en langue originale et, dans la quasi-totalité des cas, en traduction, souvent à partir d'éditions antérieures opportunément révisées par l'auteur. L'intérêt du volume, servi par un très riche appareil de notes, dépasse donc très largement la question du sel, au prisme duquel sont réexaminées des questions relevant de l'histoire, de l'économie, de la topographie, du droit ou de l'archéologie.

Le parent pauvre de ce riche volume est, indiscutablement, son illustration. Exclusivement topographique, elle a été élaborée par l'auteur à partir de plans antérieurs de qualité inégale, parfois retravaillés de manière très judicieuse, comme c'est le cas pour les fig. 1-2 qui localisent tous les sites mentionnés dans le texte et font office d'index, en indiquant les paragraphes où l'auteur en traite. Est-ce un hasard ? Alors que ces cartes sont souvent fondamentales pour suivre son raisonnement, leur renvoi est donné en note, et non dans le texte, où elles auraient pourtant eu toute leur place, risquant ainsi de passer inaperçues. Dans le même registre, le lecteur aurait aimé trouver également dans ce volume quelques plans de sites de production connus, ou différents dessins d'amphores réputées avoir contenu du garum ou des salaisons 3 – citées à plusieurs reprises dans le texte (p. 114, 120, 125, 134, 167, 183, 244 ; cf. aussi les pithoi mentionnés p. 72), celles-ci ne figurent malheureusement pas dans l'index des cose notevoli.

Ces réserves mineures, qui reflètent aussi des choix scientifiques et éditoriaux parfaitement justifiables, ne retirent rien à la qualité du volume. Pour avoir poussé aussi loin que possible l'analyse en permettant au non-spécialiste de comprendre l'intérêt et les implications de l'étude du sel, tout en rectifiant au passage différents anachronismes ou idées reçues, on peut affirmer, cum grano salis, que Cristina Carusi a bien mérité du club très fermé des halologues.


1.   Pour la Sardaigne, voir maintenant l'article richement illustré de A. R. Ghiotto, La produzione e il commercio di sale marino nella Sardegna romana, Sardinia, Corsica et Baleares antiquae 6, 2008, p. 83-95.
2.   Sur cette période, en dernier lieu, A. Pikulska, Un impôt sur la consommation du sel dans la République romaine ?, Revue Internationale des Droits Antiques 55, 2008, p. 365-371.
3.   Sur cette activité, voir, en tout dernier lieu, E. Botte, Salaisons et sauces de poissons en Italie du Sud et en Sicile durant l'Antiquité, Naples, 2009.

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James Robson, Aristophanes: An Introduction. London: Duckworth, 2009. Pp. xi, 244. ISBN 9780715634523. $27.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Anna Peterson, Ohio State University

For the average undergraduate, Aristophanes is paradoxically one of the most appealing and inaccessible authors from antiquity. Students are drawn to his ribald humor, but at the same time struggle with the high concentration of topical and culturally specific references. In response to this problem, Robson's new introduction offers a solid discussion of some of the core issues surrounding Aristophanes' plays: its staging, humor, obscene language, and politics, to name just a few. Although Robson writes in a clear and accessible style, an advanced undergraduate, already somewhat familiar with Aristophanes, would perhaps be best served by this introduction. That said, this book or selections from it would work well both in courses on Aristophanes and those on ancient drama.

Robson's thematic focus fills a gap left by MacDowell's play-by-play approach in Aristophanes and Athens by presenting a more overarching view of Aristophanes as a comic playwright.1 In his introduction, he provides a concise and thoughtful summary of the various recent theoretical approaches to Aristophanes. As Robson admits, his discussion is limited to the plays most commonly read by students, namely Acharnians, Knights, Clouds, Birds, Lysistrata, and Frogs, with Wasps, Peace, Women at the Thesmophoria, and Assemblywomen appearing more sporadically. The casualty of this approach is sadly Wealth, to which I will return at the conclusion of this review.

Robson divides his book into ten chapters, each of which reads as its own distinct essay. Chapter 1 presents a general introduction to Aristophanes and the genre of Old Comedy, covering Aristophanes' biography, Aristophanes' own comments about his work, the conventions of Old Comedy, and finally the general plot movement of an Aristophanic comedy: the comic hero(ine)'s dissatisfaction and subsequent fantastical solution to the problems they face. The most interesting part of this chapter comes in Robson's attempts to "get a grip" on Aristophanes' "'personal sentiments," specifically those found in the Clouds regarding the modesty and originality of that play (p. 4-8). While Robson rightly points to the perhaps irresolvable contradictions between this assertion and the rest of the play, a reader unfamiliar with Aristophanes might find this section confusing since it presumes an understanding of the general conventions of Old Comedy (specifically the role of the parabasis) before it in fact defines and discusses them.

The next two chapters are devoted to the question of performative context. While these chapters, for the most part, present a standard discussion about the dramatic contest, theater space, and costumes, their clarity and refusal to oversimplify will provide a particularly helpful introduction to the questions surrounding the production and staging of Aristophanic plays. Chapter 2, "Putting on a Show," examines the basic features of the two main dramatic festivals, the Lenaea and the Great Dionysia. In considering the performative context of Aristophanes' plays, Robson tackles the questions surrounding the festival program as well as how a play came to be produced, including the roles of the chorêgos, the allotment of actors, and the ambiguous relationship between poet and didaskalos. In addition to this, Robson also includes brief discussions of the dramatic contest itself, the potential makeup of the audience, and other smaller festivals such as the Rural Dionysia.

Chapter 3, "Setting the Scene: Theatre Space and Costumes," continues the previous chapter's discussion by examining the physical space of the theater as well as the use of costumes and masks. In addition to a general description of a Greek theater, this chapter explores Aristophanes' use of the theatrical space, shifting from defined places such as the Acropolis or Euripides' house to less specific locations.

From questions concerning performance, Robson shifts in Chapter 4, "Aristophanes the Humorist," to the realm of humor theory. The chapter opens with a systematic study of the different connotations associated with the modern English words: laughter, funny, humor, joke, and serious. This discussion is useful not so much for what it reveals about Aristophanic humor, but rather for the more nuanced view of our modern concept of "humor." From here Robson moves into a summary of the different theoretical approaches to humor, specifically verbal humor, Classical discussions of humor (though Plato is unfortunately overlooked), and social theories of humor, which does not engage with Bakhtin despite the recent work on Bakhtin and Aristophanes by Charles Platter.2 While the lens of humor theory is certainly a valuable way of approaching Aristophanes, Robson surprisingly does not apply it in the rest of the chapter, which focuses largely on the different character types and the types of jokes found in Aristophanes' plays.

Robson continues his focus on the different character types in Chapter 5, "The People of Aristophanes." Beginning with a discussion of the "discontinuity" of characters, namely a character behaving contrary to our expectations, and their "recreativity" or ability to instantly transform, Robson accepts Silk's argument that this represents "a fundamental part of the way they are characterized" (Robson's emphasis) and that Aristophanes' characters do not subscribe to any "realistic understanding of human character." (79-80) This then allows Robson to turn his attention to two character types, women and old men, as well as the characterization of the chorus. Robson's discussion, however, is not limited to the different ways in which Aristophanes makes use of these character types but also begins to raise questions about the use of Aristophanes' plays as a source for social history. For Robson, Aristophanes' portrayal of women, for example, can provide information about women's lives, male attitudes towards women, and ultimately Aristophanes' comic technique. (83) This chapter is useful for the different interpretative approaches that it offers its reader.

In Chapter 6, "Tragic Fragments," Robson tackles the issue of Aristophanes' relationship to tragedy by first discarding the term parody, which he contends is overused to the point that it has lost much of its meaning, and replacing it with "paratragedy." Within this category, Robson draws the distinction between "tragic parody" and "tragic pastiche," the difference being in the treatment of the original tragic material. Parody, on the one hand, is an inherently negative style of imitation that "exaggerates and misrepresents to achieve its effects," while tragic pastiche is the mimicry, not mockery of tragedy (108). Although Robson is precise in his discussion of Aristophanes' treatment of tragedy, this chapter surprisingly lacks an in-depth analysis of one of the main examples of Aristophanes' treatment of Euripides, namely Dikaiopolis' appropriation of the Telephus in the Acharnians. As a result of this, the chapter fails to get at the complexity of Aristophanes' appropriation of tragedy, specifically, as Rosen has shown, his use of it to reveal the disingenuousness of the comic hero. 3

Chapter 7, "Talking Dirty: Aristophanic Obscenity," addresses the role and effects of obscene language. Beginning with a brief account of obscenity in our modern culture, Robson provides a good introduction to the use of obscenities in Classical Athens. In his discussion of this issue, Robson borrows Henderson's distinction between primary obscenities (words that refer to taboo objects or acts in a non-euphemistic way), euphemisms, obscene slang, double entendres, and obscene gestures. As Robson acknowledges, the differences between these terms are not always clear. To illustrate this point, Robson turns to three major contexts in which Aristophanes uses obscenities: personal abuse, humor, and sex. While the distinctions drawn in the first half of the chapter are useful, Robson is at his best when he considers the different roles that obscenity assumes in Aristophanes' plays, such as its ability to highlight the positive value of sexual freedom at the same time as it presents other forms of sexual behavior in a negative light.

Robson rather abruptly shifts gears in Chapter 8, "Waxing Lyrical: Aristophanes the Songwriter," to discuss the range of lyrical passages found in Aristophanes' plays. For a modern reader, Aristophanes' lyrical passages are perhaps the most unfamiliar. In response to this problem, Robson begins by exploring the difference between the metrics of an English poem such as Blake's Infant Joy and that of Ancient Greek, before moving on to the discuss range of tones, from abusive to elevated, that we find Aristophanes striking in these sections. While Robson's attempts to tackle this aspect of Aristophanes are commendable, much of the discussion, such as the distinction between the glyconic and pherecratean meters, is likely to be lost on most undergraduate readers except for the most advanced.

Robson surprisingly delays addressing the politics of Aristophanes' plays until Chapter 9, "Getting the Message: Aristophanic Politics." This chapter largely covers moments of personal abuse and the question of how much truth there is in Aristophanes' caricatures. In addition to this, Robson highlights Aristophanes' tendency to glorify the past, moments of political advice, and the different biases that we find in the plays, for example Aristophanes' mockery of the courts. In his discussion of the political nature of Aristophanic comedy, Robson makes the important argument that we should not read these moments as indicative of Aristophanes' own political views, but should discuss them simply as expressed within the context of the play. The reception of Aristophanes' politically charged statements represents the conclusion of the chapter, both in terms of their potential reception by the audience and external sources, such as Socrates' comments in the Apology.

Robson ends his introduction to Aristophanes with a stimulating chapter on the issues surrounding translation and several modern performances of Aristophanes. Moreover, "Aristophanes in the Modern World: Translation and Performance," provides an interesting history of Aristophanic translations and their censorship, as well as a discussion of the act of translation from a theoretical perspective. Robson's focus in this chapter is almost exclusively on the Lysistrata, which allows him to compare how different translators grapple with issues of dialect, obscenity, and Aristophanes' culturally specific humor. The chapter then concludes with discussion of several modern British adaptations of Aristophanes for the stage. While this chapter represents a fitting conclusion to this introduction, it would have been nice if Robson had included some discussion of the more immediate reception of Aristophanes, for example his presence in Plato's Symposium or Lucian's debt to him.

The only major complaint I have of this book is that it fails to discuss in much detail the rivalry between Aristophanes and the other comic poets, as well as Wealth.4 Although the topic of this book is admittedly Aristophanes, its exclusion of these topics from the discussion has at times the unwanted effect of presenting Aristophanes as if he were in a vacuum, unconnected to other poets and the later comic tradition. In addition to this, since Robson uses endnotes, which an undergraduate is unlikely to consult, it would have been useful if he had included a further reading section at the conclusion of each chapter as a guide for students wishing to further research a topic. That said, overall Robson's text represents a very informative introduction to Aristophanes.

Table of Contents:

1. Aristophanes and Old Comedy 1
2. Putting on a Show 13
3. Setting the Scene: Theatre Space and Costumes 30
4. Aristophanes the Humorist 48
5. The People of Aristophanes 77
6. Tragic Fragments 103
7. Talking Dirty: Aristophanic Obscenity 120
8. Waxing Lyrical: Aristophanes the Songwriter 141
9. Getting the Message: Aristophanic Politics 162
10. Aristophanes in the Modern World: Translation and Performance 188


1.   Douglas M. MacDowell. (1995) Aristophanes and Athens: an Introduction to the Plays. Oxford University Press.
2.   Anthony Edwards. (1993) "Historicizing the Popular Grotesque: Bakhtin's Rabelais and Attic Old Comedy," in R. Scodel (ed.) Theater and Society in the Classical World. Ann Arbor: 89-117; Charles Platter. (2001) "Novelistic Discourse in Aristophanes," in Carnivalizing Difference: Bakhtin and the Other. ed. Peter I. Barta, Paul Allen Miller, Charles Platter, and David Shepherd. Routledge; Charles Platter. (2007) Aristophanes and the Carnival of Genres. Oxford.
3.   Ralph M. Rosen. (2005) "Aristophanes, Old Comedy and Greek Tragedy" Departmental Papers (Classical Studies).
4.   Malcolm Heath (1990) "Aristophanes and his Rivals," Greece and Rome, 143-158; Ralph Rosen (2000) Cratinus' Pytine and the Construction of the Comic Self, in The Rivals of Aristophanes ed. F. D. Harvey and J. Wilkins. University of Exeter Press; and Zachary Biles (2002) "Intertextual Biography in the Rivalry of Cratinus and Aristophanes," AJP 123: 169-204.

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