Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Version at BMCR home site

Peter Van Nuffelen (ed.), Faces of Hellenism: Studies in the History of the Eastern Mediterranean (4th Century B.C.-5th Century A.D.). Studia Hellenistica 48. Leuven: Peeters, 2009. Pp. ix, 342. ISBN 9789042922730. €62.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Alfred M. Hirt, Wolfson College, Cambridge

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

Readers expecting a collection of papers all addressing a specific research question or novel approach might feel somewhat deceived by the title of the volume when reading the 'Introduction' (pp. 1-9). These papers, mostly by scholars currently or formerly connected with the K.U. Leuven, were marshalled not with a particular thesis in mind but as an expression of gratitude towards and a tribute to the achievements of L. Mooren, G. Schepens, and H. Hauben. This fact, however, should be flagged in the title. Even though Hellenism in the Eastern Mediterranean is claimed to be the overarching theme, it is not pursued coherently throughout the volume; neither is a conclusive discussion of the various aspects of Hellenism described by the contributions, nor an index supplied at the end of the volume. A closer look reveals an imbalance towards Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt; one paper on the 'Marbre de Thorigny' shows only a tenuous relation with the Hellenistic East.

Besides these minor quibbles with the thematic coherency of this Festschrift, the individual papers offer valuable insights into the cultural phenomena emerging from the study of written sources and material culture in the Greek East from the 4th c. BC to the 5th c. AD.

Stefan Schorn's paper, 'On Eating Meat and Human Sacrifice. Anthropology in Asclepiades of Cyprus and Theophrastus of Eresus' (pp. 11-47), focuses on a late 4th/early 3rd c. fragment of Asclepiades, FGrH 752 F1, which relates the tale of how man began to eat meat in Phoenicia during the rule of the mythical king Pygmalion. The comparison with Theophrastus' work 'On Piety', in particular a passage relating the perceived sacrificial rites of Jews, allows Schorn to provide a compelling new reading of Asclepiades' text. He can show convincingly that the evolution of sacrifices set out in Theophrastus, i.e. from human to animal holocaust to sacrificial meals of meat, is mirrored in FGrH 752 F1. Schorn's attempt, however, to understand the fragment of Asclepiades as a description of actual human sacrifice practiced in Syria-Palestine relies too heavily on an uncritical reading of classical sources and a onesided review of the ongoing scholarly dispute over child sacrifice in the Phoenician/Punic world.1

Antonio Luis Chávez Reino, 'Una noticia olvidada sobre el principio de las Historias de Éforo (Tauro ap. Juan Filópono, Aet. VI 8, p. 147, 17-18 Rabe)' (pp.49-62), identifies a further fragment of Ephoros' Histories in Philoponus, who quotes the treatise of L. Calvenius Taurus, a Platonic philosopher of the second century AD. Taurus retraces the scholarly debate over Plato's view on the origins of the world and cites Ephoros' work. Chávez Reino demonstrates that the cited passage of Ephoros was quoted independently by Diodorus (4.1.3, 16.76.5). He proposes to add the fragment (neglected by Jacoby) as T8b to the testimonia on Ephoros (FGrH70).

Alexander Meeus ('Kleopatra and the Diadochoi', pp. 63-92) revisits the relations of the Diadochoi with Kleopatra, the only full sister of Alexander the Great. He discusses the political context in which marriage negotiations took place first with Leonnatos, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, and, after Leonnatos' death in 322 BC, with Perdikkas. Furthermore, Eumenes appears to have wanted to link himself with Kleopatra in order to strengthen the loyalty of his troops; she was finally murdered at the hands of Antigonos' henchmen after she entered into talks with Ptolemy around 308 BC. Meeus proves that the leading men of the time sought the hand of Kleopatra in order to legitimize their factual power and link themselves with the Argead house — an aspect hitherto sidelined in scholarly discourse; furthermore, he hints at the independent agenda Kleopatra displays in her actions and the negotiations with her suitors.

In his paper 'The Name Game: Hellenistic Historians and Royal Epithets' (pp. 93-111) Peter Van Nuffelen reviews royal epithets and their use in written sources; he wants to show "how epithets were received in historical writing" (p. 94). He traces the use of epithets in Polybios' Histories, in works by Posidonius, and by early imperial authors. Van Nuffelen states that 'post-Polybian' historiographers, unlike earlier authors, dealt with epithets differently: they mused on possible origins, likely used unofficial 'king lists', and often substituted the epitheton for the ruler's name.

Mark Depauw, 'Bilingual Greek-Demotic Documentary Papyri and Hellenization in Ptolemaic Egypt' (pp.113-46), offers an extensive overview of bilingual texts from Ptolemaic Egypt to demonstrate the shift from written Demotic to Greek. His quantitative survey groups 367 bilingual texts according to the primary use of Greek or Demotic into different document types (contracts; receipts and other declarations; epistolary texts e.g. letters, petitions, orders; lists or accounts) and offers an overview of the secondary use of Greek or Demotic (i.e. entries or sections in a continuous text; autograph subscriptions; summaries and archival notes; registrations; related secondary use i.e. receipts for tax, reimbursements of loan, forwarding notes) in documents written predominatly in the other language. The observed changes, Depauw argues, are explained by a gradual withdrawal since the mid third century BC (p. 130) of written Demotic from public life — a consequence of a more efficient Greek administration.

Bart Van Beek, '"We too are in good health". The Private Correspondence from the Kleon Archive' (pp. 146-159), revisits the archive of an immigrant to Egypt, Kleon an architekton during the reigns of Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III. Van Beek examines sixteen letters sent to Kleon in the Arsinoite nome by his wife and children in Alexandria (nos. 32-47 of the re-editon of P.Petrie2). These letters provide insights into the relationship of Kleon not only with his distant family, but with the king: Kleon falls out of royal favor and is, at a later stage, replaced by the hyparchitekton Theodoros.

In 'The Archive of the Toparch Leon once again' (pp. 161-8) Willy Clarysse weeds out texts falsely attributed to the Leon archive. He offers a new date, the190s BC, for Leon's activities as a toparch (previously set in the mid third century); and provides novel readings, foremost for P.Yale 40, and P.Yale 38, 42, 43, 44, as well as SB VI 9103.

Anne-Emmanuelle Veïsse, L'expression 'ennemi des dieux': theoisin echthros' (pp.169-77), addresses the use and meaning of the expression theoisin echthros , 'enemy of the gods' (also in P.Yale 40). Ludwig Koenen thought this term labeled a Harsiesis, who came to power in Thebes during the civil war in 132/1 BC, as a rebel king. The expression, however, often occurs in an non-seditious context to describe obstructionist opponents. Veïsse traces the origins and use of it back to Greek literary texts, predominantly comedies and oratory, where the term is used to condemn a wide range of people whose 'malignant' acts, however, are not actually directed against the gods or their sanctuaries per se. The Ptolemaic documentary papyri pick up the expression widely disseminated through comical productions and literary texts.

In 'Why Tax Receipts on Wood? On Wooden Tablet Archives from Ptolemaic Egypt (Pathyris)' (pp.179-97), Katelijn Vandorpe and Sofie Waebens explore the question of who provided the writing material, the tax payer or the tax official. They point to wooden tablets from Pathyris as a possible solution to this problem. There, 17% of tax receipts by private houses in the Ptolemaic period were penned on wood whereas the majority was written on potsherds. The use of wood is limited to particular families and individuals which had access to this commodity.

Herbert Verreth, 'The Border between Egypt and Syria from the 7th century B.C until the 7th century A.D.' (pp. 199-216), provides a sketch of the political and administrative history of northern Sinai during fourteen centuries which furthermore addresses the whereabouts of the border between Egypt and Syria in different periods. The author then focuses on the question of military presence in the northern Sinai, and finally moves to elaborate on the administrative situation of northern Sinai over time.

Gertrud Dietze-Mager, 'Die Beziehung zwischen römischem Bürgerrecht und alexandrinischem Stadtrecht bis zur Constitutio Antoniniana (212'(pp. 217-275), presents an extensive study on the connections between Roman and Alexandrian citizenship – a link hinted at in the letters of Pliny the Younger to the emperor Trajan (Ep. 10.5, 6, 7, 10; AD 98/9). She first addresses the relevancy of onomastics to identify Roman citizenry in Egypt and turns to the correspondence between Pliny and Trajan in order to examine the question of Alexandrian as a precondition for Roman citizenship. She argues that (1) the lack of Hellenistic poleis institutions in Egypt throughout much of the first two centuries AD; (2) Alexandrian citizenship being the only known civic category documented in Egypt; and (3) evidence for Alexandrian citizenry reaching Roman citizenship, point to a linkage between Alexandrian and Roman legal status; however, a conditionality of Alexandrian citizenship for access to Roman citizenship can not be proven.

Karen Haegemans, 'The 'Marbre de Thorigny': Rebellion or Loyality?' (pp.277-88), focuses on the assumed connection of the inscribed monument and statue honouring Titus Sennius Sollemnis, discovered in Thorigny — its erection dated to 16 December 238 — and the upheaval of 238 in Northern Africa which saw the death of the Gordiani. Based on this synchronicity and the exceptionality of the grandiose monument (with letters of recommendation by highranking senatorial officials in Gaul for the rather common Sollemnis), Hans-Georg Pflaum and others read the inscription in the context of the political events and believed Sollemnis sided early on with the senatorial emperors. Haegemans debunks this interpretation, setting the monument more firmly within the context of the provincial administration of Gaul where T. Sennius Sollemnis was president of the concilium of the Three Gauls and treasurer of iron mines.

Karolien Geens, 'Hellenism as a Vehicle for Local Traditions in Third Century Egypt: The Evidence from Panopolis' (pp. 289-319), explores the manifestation of Hellenistic values in building programs, titles and epithets of cities, the introduction of 'Panhellenic' games, and in onomastics at Panopolis. The exuberance of Hellenism in Panopolis seems connected with the introduction of city councils in Egypt's metropoleis in AD 199/200 by Septimius Severus, providing the local elites with the opportunity for public self-representation. Geens also draws on personal names of Panopolitans to argue that, despite the elite's affection for Greek culture, local Egyptian cults and belief-systems survived and flourished.

The volume concludes with a contribution of Inge Uytterhoeven, 'Know your classics! Manifestations of 'Classical Culture' in Late Antique Elite Houses' (pp. 321-42), who details references to the classical literature in the artwork of private houses owned by the upper echelons of Late Roman communities; the mosaic floors and collections of statues suggest an intimacy and familiarity of the rich and educated with a canon of Greek and Latin literary traditions, mythical tales and heroes, philosophers, and historic figures. Uytterhoeven argues that these are displayed through artwork in private contexts not only to underline the status and taste of its owner, and thus his association with the privileged, but to isolate him from those less well off or less well educated.


List of Contributors VII Introduction (Peter VAN NUFFELEN) 1

Stefan SCHORN, On Eating Meat and Human Sacrifice. Anthropology in Asclepiades of Cyprus and Theophrastus of Eresus 11

Antonio Luis CHÁVEZ REINO, Una noticia olvidada sobre el principio de las Historias de Éforo (Tauro ap. Juan Filópono, Aet. VI 8, p. 147, 17-18 Rabe) 49

Alexander MEEUS, Kleopatra and the Diadochoi 63

Peter VAN NUFFELEN, The Name Game: Hellenistic Historians and Royal Epithets 93

Mark DEPAUW, Bilingual Greek-Demotic Documentary Papyri and Hellenization in Ptolemaic Egypt 113

Bart VAN BEEK, 'We Too Are in Good Health.' The Private Correspondence from the Kleon Archive 147

Willy CLARYSSE, The Archive of the Toparch Leon Once Again 161

Anne-Emmanuelle VEÏSSE, L'expression 'ennemi des dieux': theoisin echthros 169

Katelijn VANDORPE and Sofie WAEBENS, Why Tax Receipts on Wood? On Wooden Tablet Archives from Ptolemaic Egypt (Pathyris) 179

Herbert VERRETH, The Border between Egypt and Syria from the 7th Century B.C. until the 7th Century A.D. 199

Gertrud DIETZE-MAGER, Die Beziehung zwischen römischem Bürgerrrecht und alexandrinischem Stadtrecht bis zur Constitutio Antoniniana (212) 217

Karen HAEGEMANS, The 'Marbre de Thorigny': Rebellion or Loyalty? 277

Karolien GEENS, Hellenism as a Vehicle for Local Traditions in Third-Century- Egypt: the Evidence from Panopolis 289

Inge UYTTERHOEVEN, Know your Classics! Manifestations of 'Classical Culture' in Late Antique Elite Houses 321


1.   Cf.Othmar Keel (2007). Die Geschichte Jerusalems und die Entstehung des Monotheismus (Orte und Landschaften der Bibel, Bd. 4), Göttingen, pp.492-504.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.