Monday, May 30, 2011


Janett Morgan, The Classical Greek House. Greece and Rome Live. Exeter: Bristol Phoenix Press, 2010. Pp. xiv, 193. ISBN 9781904675754. $25.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Barbara Tsakirgis, (Vanderbilt University)

Version at BMCR home site

It has been over twenty years since Michael Jameson's two articles in which he identified numerous misconceptions about Greek domestic architecture and private space.1 The misunderstandings Jameson noted were due to an approach to houses that was filtered primarily through the lens of Greek literature, with little regard for the material remains of the architecture and domestic assemblages. He argued that the archaeological evidence needed to be given at least equal weight with the literary, especially because the material remains of houses and their attendant assemblages sometimes contradicted the written record. Jameson fundamentally altered the discourse on Greek houses by applying methodologies developed in the social sciences; it is no surprise that one of his two papers was published in a collection dedicated to the cross-cultural study of domestic architecture.

We are now in an age when scholars, fully steeped in the lessons taught by Jameson, are bringing a new light and life to the interpretation of Greek houses. Lisa Nevett's volume was an important overview of Greek domestic space.2 She was followed by Nicholas Cahill, who applied a spatial analysis to the finds from the houses at Olynthos, and by Bradley Ault, who produced a volume which is both a primary publication of the houses at Halieis and an analysis of the domestic assemblages.3 All three of these publications are worth noting because the first serves as the background and the latter two as source material for Janett Morgan's The Classical Greek House. Morgan walks a fine line between her allegiance to the material and written evidence for houses, and while she appears at different points in her book to prefer one source of evidence for houses over the other, ultimately Morgan's study pays homage to the text. Her collation and use of the written sources on houses are both a strength of the volume and a pitfall, as she often relies too closely on the texts.

Morgan writes in a very approachable style, and after an excellent introduction to the urban setting of the Greek house, she examines in successive chapters the social aspects of Greek private life as they are manifested in the buildings we have long called houses. Each chapter begins with the literary and documentary testimonia. The book focuses exclusively on buildings at three Classical sites: Athens, Olynthos, and Halieis. Athens is a natural starting point, not because of its cultural and political prominence in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., but rather because almost all of the surviving literary accounts of houses were penned by Athenian authors. Olynthos recommends itself for the study because 102 buildings identified as houses were excavated there and the findspots of the domestic assemblages were mapped, a practice which was without parallel in most Mediterranean excavations until well after the Second World War. Morgan's inclusion of the Halieis houses was doubtless because they were carefully excavated, with near total recovery of the finds, and well published.

The social issues examined by Morgan revolve around the family, both as a whole, and as an aggregate of the individual members. Gendered space in the home is considered, as are the activities of the inhabitants, including the conduct of their daily lives, their economic support, their religious practice, and their contact with the community as a whole. While Morgan never states so overtly, the organization of her study reflects Aristotle's view that the oikos was the fundamental building block of the polis.

The houses discussed in this volume date to the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. The fourth century was a time of tremendous change, when the simple abodes of the classical polis gave way to the mega-mansions of the Hellenistic city. E. Walter-Karydi's significant study of the evolution in Late Classical domestic architecture should be referenced on this topic.4 Especially as Morgan discusses houses whose plans changed over this period (e.g. the houses on the Areopagus in Athens pp. 49-51, p. 103), she needs to be very careful with dates; unfortunately, she is less than conscientious in this regard, and her imprecision leads to some confusion.

Morgan is the author of a dissertation on Greek domestic religion, from which she drew two articles which focus on aspects on household cult, especially as it pertains to women. In one article, Morgan attempted to reconstruct how the landscape of the home was temporarily altered by word and action to become sacred space.5 The insightful contributions made by these two works cause the reader to wish that the present study had domestic religion as its primary focus, for it is when Morgan writes about religion that her book is at its strongest. It has been decades since Greek household cult came under scholarly scrutiny, and then only in two articles;6 two recent chapters have returned to the topic but it still deserves a book-length study.7 Above all, the surviving material evidence needs to be considered in the discussion of domestic religion, as F. Rumscheid has so masterfully done with the terracotta figurines from Priene.8

There is an underlying polemic that runs through much of Morgan's book. While she frequently and correctly calls on the reader not to view ancient houses through the lens of modern residences and daily life, Morgan also questions whether every building which has been called a house correctly deserves its identification. She contends that the ancient material culture, both architectural and artifactual, has been over-interpreted and that the structures we have called houses had multiple uses. While Morgan does not exactly throw the baby out with the bath water, the reader is sometimes left with the impression that we have little to no idea what defines an ancient house. While the flexibility of space is by now a nearly universally accepted aspect of Greek domestic architecture, Morgan does not fully allow that conception of ancient Greek conception domestic space to reign in her identification of what constitutes domestic space. She argues that only limited portions of the buildings usually identified as houses can be called such. Morgan uses the published assemblages to her own end, e.g., to recognize taverns, without considering the other domestic impedimenta, such as loom weights, that might contradict her identifications of space. Her use of the Halieis material is especially problematic, as the finds there were not recovered from a primary deposition.

Leaving the reader with the impression that much of what we have previously assumed about Greek houses is false is all the more puzzling, given the likely audience for this book. There are no footnotes here, and the parenthetical notes are to a valuable but limited bibliography. While recent scholarship is included amongst the titles, so too are textbooks.9 If Morgan's book is itself intended as a textbook on Greek houses for either undergraduate or graduate students, it lacks the overview of the topic and the detailed presentation that would allow a student to engage with the underlying polemic. Adding to the question of the intended audience are the nature and paucity of illustrations. The few photographs are of middling quality and the only objects illustrated are a funerary monument and a simply drawn vase, both used to depict Athenian women. Any student given this volume as a text on Greek houses would need another fairly thorough introduction to domestic assemblages. The house plans are deceptively simplified and continue the unfortunate practice of substituting solid lines where walls have been restored but are not certain. For all houses discussed here, the reader is cautioned to turn to the excavation reports and final publications for actual state plans.

If the volume is intended for a more sophisticated audience, its bibliography needs considerable expansion and potential objections to the author's approach must be addressed. The bibliography is better suited to the student who is first encountering the subject of Greek houses; it does not refer to excavation reports and only three titles are not in English. The substance of several uncited articles appears to form part of the discussion in the present volume.10 Other articles which support Morgan's point of view are also neglected.11 While there are no footnotes in which the author can engage with the scholarship on houses, there should be, e.g. page 65, where Morgan seems to take issue with Lisa Nevett's identification of the single-entrance courtyard house as the prevailing model in the Classical period.

A few errors and omissions should be noted, because, as they give a mistaken impression to the reader. The author of the Oeconomica is generally considered to be Pseudo-Aristotle, not the founder of the Lyceum himself. Mudbrick fortification walls, presumably thicker than the house walls similarly breeched in Menander's Phasma and Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusai, could be excavated through in just one night (Xen. An 7.8.14). Thus the thinness of actual house walls should not be overstated. In her discussion of the Adoneia, Morgan does not take into account Charles Edwards' refutation of the identification of scenes of that festival.12 Both of these passages illustrate the author's general ignoring of the material evidence for house construction. Demosthenes' statements about the modest quality of Athenian houses MUST be read in the context of his political agenda, i.e., the condemnation his contemporaries with a charge of tryphē, precisely the sort of "ideological purpose" which Morgan herself notes on the following page (46). The so-called Flügelhof houses on the Pnyx have now been proven by Gerald Lalonde not to have been houses at all.13

An overview of Greek houses for an undergraduate audience is sorely needed and, despite this volume, remains to be written. The present study could be used for such an introduction, only if it were accompanied by better plans, many images of architecture and artifacts, and a more balanced and evenhanded approach to the factual evidence.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. House and City, Public and Private: The Urban Landscape
Chapter 2. House as Home: Viewing the Classical Greek House
Chapter 3. The Family at Home
Chapter 4. Working from Home: House and Economy
Chapter 5. Gender Ideology and the Classical House
Chapter 6. Religion and the Classical House
Final Observations and Thoughts


1.   M. Jameson, 1990. "Private Space in the Greek City," in O. Murray and S. Price eds., The Greek City from Homer to Alexander. Oxford, 171-198. Id., "Domestic Space in the Greek City State," in S. Kent ed., Domestic Architecture and the Use of Space. Cambridge, 92-113.
2.   L. Nevett, 1999. House and Society in the Ancient Greek World. Cambridge.
3.   N. D. Cahill, 2002. House and City Organization at Olynthus. New Haven and London. B. A. Ault, 2005. The Excavations at Halieis: vol. 2: The Houses: The Organization and Use of Domestic Space. Bloomington.
4.   E. Walter-Karydi, 1994. Die Nobilitierung des Wohnhauses. Lebensform und Architektur im spätklassischen Griechenland (Xenia: Konstanzer althistorische Vorträge und Forschungen 35.
5.   J. Morgan, 2007. "Women, Religion, and the Home," in D. Ogden Ed., A Companion to Greek Religion. Malden MA AND Oxford, 297-310. Id., 2007. "Space and the Notion of Final Frontier: Searching for Ritual Boundaries in the Athenian Home," Kernos 20, 113-129.
6.   M. P. Nilsson, 1954. "Roman and Greek Domestic Cult," OpRom 1, 77-85. H. J. Rose, 1957. "The Religion of the Greek Household," Euphrosyne 1, 95-116.
7.   D. Boedeker, 2008. "Family Matters: Domestic Religion in Classical Greece," in J. Bodel and S. M. Olyan eds., Household and Family Religion in Antiquity. Oxford, 229-247. C. A. Faraone, 2008. "Household Religion in Ancient Greece," in Bodel and Olyan eds. op.cit. 210-228.
8.   F. Rumscheid, 2006. Die figürlichen Terrakotten von Priene: Fundkontexte, Ikonographie und Funktion in Wohnhäusern und Heiligtümern im Licht antiker Parallelbefunde. Wiesbaden.
9.   E.g. M. Beard and J. Henderson, 2001. Classical Art. From Greece to Rome. Oxford.
10.   E.g. L. Nevett, 2000. "A Real Estate Market in Classical Greece? The Example of Town Housing," BSA 95, 329-343.
11.   E.g. W. A. MacDonald, 1951. "Villa or Pandokeion?" in G. Mylonas ed., Studies Presented to David Moore Robinson on his Seventieth Birthday. St. Louis, 365-373.
12.   C. M. Edwards, 1984. "Aphrodite on a Ladder," Hesperia 53, 59-72.
13.   G. V. Lalonde, 2006. Horos Dios. An Athenian Cult of Zeus. Leiden. P. 20

(read complete article)


Anna Philippa-Touchais, Gilles Touchais, Sophia Voutsaki, James Wright (ed.), Mesohelladika: la Grèce continentale au Bronze Moyen. Actes du colloque international organisé par l' École française d' Athènes, en collaboration avec l' American School of Classical studies at Athens et le Netherlands Institute in Athens, Athènes 8-12 mars 2006. BCH Supplements 52. Athènes: École française d' Athènes, 2010. Pp. 1046. ISBN 9782869582101. €120.00.

Reviewed by Irene Nikolakopoulou, Archaeological Institute of Aegean Studies (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This impressive volume of 1046 pages is the publication of the proceedings of a conference on the Greek Mainland in the Bronze Age held in Athens in March 2006, organised by the French School at Athens, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Netherlands Institute in Athens. The volume includes 63 papers and 28 posters in Greek, English and French, each conveniently preceded by short abstracts in the two languages other than that of the paper or poster. The book opens with a preface by the directors of the three organising Schools and an introduction by the editors. There then follows a useful list of abbreviations of publications and chronological subdivisions, as bibliographical references are included in the footnotes of each paper. This book aims to bring to the forefront hard evidence which it is hoped will generate fruitful discussion on whether Middle Helladic (MH) Greece is still to be considered "The Third World" of the Aegean1 in terms of cultural level and social processes.

In his usual vivid and succinct way, Oliver Dickinson uses his keynote paper to provide the broader background to many of the hotly debated issues in the study of MH society. Naturally, many of the contributions that follow in the main body of the book are strongly empirical in approach, presenting evidence that helps to fill material, geographical, and chronological gaps, including data from the application of cutting-edge scientific methods. The editors have effectively opted to organise the large number of papers in seven thematic sections, including the poster presentations in the relevant parts. Inevitably, some papers discuss evidence related to more than one sections, but on the whole the outline of the book works for the reader. Nonetheless, the empirical and thematic foci work well together, as an effort is made by the editors to cluster papers presenting evidence from specific sites in broad geographical/regional terms within each thematic section.

The first section is the longest, as it includes 27 papers and posters on Topography and Settlement. Reports on new evidence, mostly retrieved in rescue excavations conducted by the Greek Archaeological Service, as well as thorough restudy of older material, provide us with the essential information for the reconsideration of settlement patterns, social organisation and local sequences. The clarification of Middle Bronze Age (MBA) site stratigraphies and the refinement of chronological phasing will hopefully trigger a much needed boost to research, allowing a comprehensive review of our perceptions of the nature of MH sites and their interaction patterns. Perhaps, however, the most welcome addition is the filling of the gaps in our knowledge of the habitation patterns of areas largely under-represented in the archaeological record. Starting with the Peloponnese, this is the case for Troezenia, with important discoveries at Megali Magoula, Galatas, presented by Konsolaki-Yiannopoulou; and Achaia, with reports on the sites of Pagona in the hinterland of modern Patras by Dietz and Stavropoulou-Gatsi, Aigion by Papazoglou-Manioudaki, and Aigeira by Alram-Stern. Similarly, Rambach offers an overview of recent research at MH sites in Elis and Messenia in the western Peloponnese, while evidence from Laconia is presented by Crouwel, on the important site of the acropolis of Geraki, and Zavvou, who reviews finds from known and newly located sites in the area of Sparta and wider Laconia. Synthetic approaches as a result of restudy of older material enhance our understanding of sites in the Argolid and Messenia (see papers by Demakopoulou and Divari-Valakou, Shelton, Davis and Stocker, Zavadil), while an insular detour extends the boundaries of the MH world to include the important site of Aegina, Kolonna discussed in Gauss and Smetana; the site of Lazarides on the same island presented by Sgouritsa; and the MBA acropolis at Sklavos, Salamis, with surface survey finds reviewed by Lolos. The MH period in Attica is now better understood both in regional and chronological terms as demonstrated by new evidence and restudied material discussed in five papers and one poster. A synthetic approach to the archaeological record for MH Attica by Papadimitriou argues that most sites, with the exception of Thorikos, retained a strong MH character well into the Late Helladic (LH) period. Moving further to Central Greece and Thessaly, balance is restored with new evidence shedding light on insufficiently known MH habitation patterns in the areas of Navpactia, Achaea Phthiotis and Karditsa, and focus on the MBA levels from the renowned sites at Eretria in Euboea, Palamari on the island of Skyros, and Dimini in Thessaly.

The second section of the volume comprises 15 papers and posters on Mortuary Practices and Physical Anthropology. Apart from a series of papers on new information and critical discussion on grave types and funerary practices in the Argolid and Central Greece, significant contributions by physical anthropologists and other forensic scientists included in this section testify to the emergence of bio-archaeology as a promising field in recent years. The anthropological and analytical data retrieved from the study of human bones and teeth, including breakthrough DNA analysis and facial reconstruction of human remains from Mycenae and Lerna, allow for critical insights into the study of MH populations, such as the detection of nutrition and subsistence habits and the nature of diseases, as well as the reconstruction of socioeconomic patterns and kinship relations.

Given that the fields of Symbolism and Ritual in MH Greece are still considered blurry areas due to lack of related evidence, the five papers in the third section of the volume embark upon a challenging venture. Yiannouli and Blakolmer draw on evidence from weapons and iconography respectively to discuss symbolic meanings, while Theodorou-Mavrommatidi, Whittaker and Tranta-Nikoli delve into manifestations of religious beliefs and ritual action in MH societies. In view of the limitations of the material, the contributions present informative arguments on the use of hard evidence to infer ideological aspects building on a sound methodology.

The fact that only ten papers and posters discuss Pottery and Chronology in the fourth section of the book testifies to a shift in current research interests, as also noted by the editors in the concluding remarks. Nonetheless, this field undoubtedly constitutes the backbone for any further approach to archaeological data.2 Therefore, papers by Cosmopoulos on Eleusis, Stamoudi on Kastro Lamias, Papakonstantinou and Sakkas on Amouri in the Spercheios valley and Froussou on Neo Monastiri Phthiotidas provide a better understanding of local sequences and ceramic production and complement the first section of the book in enriching data on insufficiently known areas. A thorough re-evaluation of distinctive MH pottery classes, exploring specific characteristics, chronological attributions and geographical distribution, is presented in papers by Dakoronia, Sarri, Overbeck and Mathioudaki. On a more methodological note, Gauss presents the research database implemented as an instrumental tool for the classification of the pottery from Aegina Kolonna, while Voutsaki et al. stress the significance of the application of radiocarbon dating methods on well-stratified contexts from MH Lerna.

In the fifth section on Production, Technology and Economy, two main fields are addressed. One is related to dietary and subsistence patterns in MH Mainland Greece and Aegina Kolonna, examined in two papers and a poster drawing on archaeozoological, archaeobotanical and marine data. The other is artefact production and consumption, discussed in three papers by Skorda, Spencer and Kiriatzi on pottery and one by Kayafa on metallurgy, with particular emphasis on technological practices and their social contexts. These integrated approaches reflect meaningful advances in the study of material assemblages, in that they can be inherently linked with issues discussed in the next section on social organisation and change. Of particular interest is the critical assessment of the outlook of material production during and towards the end of the MH period, with a view to exploring the big issue of the rise of the LH cultural phenomenon. Given that the MH period has been traditionally, and not without good reason, considered as unexciting in artistic expression and technological advances, a closer look at material production and consumption certainly has the potential to revise fundamentally these long-standing views.

Along similar lines, but on a more theoretical level, four papers and one poster in the sixth section explore aspects of Social Organisation and Social Change in MH Greece. Drawing on the archaeological record, Bintliff, Voutsaki, Philippa-Touchais and Wright offer socio-political perspectives into aspects of demography, domestic economy, settlement planning and social group identities and interaction. Hitchcock and Chapin emphasise the need for a closer look at the data from Laconia on MH exchange networks and the emergence of elite groups. These insights aim towards a more subtle understanding of social dynamics and social change in MH communities, moving a step forward from the traditional quest for the formative processes that led to the rise of social complexity in Mycenaean societies.

Finally, a lengthy section with twenty papers and posters is dedicated to External Relations and Interaction. The almost pejorative treatment of MH culture(s) in Aegean Bronze Age studies has inevitably stemmed from comparison with the preceding EH and the following LH periods, but, possibly more influentially, from comparison with the contemporary thriving Middle Minoan and Middle Cycladic cultural groups and social structures. For this reason, this section is significant in that it places the MH in the wider context of interactions and synchronisms in the Aegean and beyond. While most of the papers on the Cyclades, Crete and the northeast Aegean (the island of Lemnos and western Anatolia) focus on the presentation of local sequences and traits at each site, interesting links with the Mainland are attested in terms of interaction and synchronisms. Evidence from Macedonia, a broad area at the periphery of the MH world which has not yet received due attention in Bronze Age studies, is discussed in a series of papers and posters bringing to light new data and exploring secular aspects, burial practices and interaction. Metallinou reviews the evidence from Corfu, an island with interesting interaction patterns due to its strategic location. The main body of the book is completed with glimpses into MBA material culture from two sites outside the borders of modern Greece, Sovjan in southeastern Albania and Vivara in Italy.

In the concluding remarks the editors emphasise the multifaceted contribution of the papers presented in the conference to the current state of research. Indeed, the compilation of topics in this volume reflects a much needed integrated approach to a disputed era. While due emphasis is unavoidably placed on problematic transitional phases at the beginning and end of the period and the big question of the origins of Mycenaean culture, it becomes evident that the main issue of bringing centre-stage the MH as a distinct cultural period is successfully addressed. This latter point is best exemplified by the misbalance attested among the sections of the book: the most numerous, the first section on the dissemination of data from MH sites and the last section on MH external relations, raise new questions about the uniformity of the MH culture(s) and the nature of interregional interactions in MBA Aegean and beyond.

The volume is certainly not meant to be read cover to cover, but it will definitely be used as a principal reference tool for scholars. The editors are to be commended for the quality of the publication, not least for the very few typographical errors in such a large volume. Illustrations are conveniently set at the end of each paper/poster. However, more plates for ceramic material, especially in colour, and petrographic thin sections would be most welcome by specialists, as only a small number of colour plates is reserved for sherd material from Vivara. A map with all sites mentioned would also be very useful and representative of the breadth of the areas covered in the book.

To sum up, it is too early to judge whether this collective volume represents in itself a rewriting of the history of the MH period, as all data needs to be brought together and assessed in future synthetic work. Nonetheless, it undoubtedly instigates a thought-provoking re-evaluation of the MH communities and it will certainly be at the centre of scholarly debate on the nature of this intriguing period.


Préface, par Dominique MULLIEZ, Directeur de l'EFA 1
Stephen V. TRACY, Directeur de l'ASCSA et 2
Gert Jan VAN WIJNGARTEN, Directeur du NIA 2
Introduction 3
Liste des abréviations 7
Conférence inaugurale, par Oliver DICKINSON : The "Third World" of the Aegean? Middle Helladic Greece Revisited 13


Katie DEMAKOPOULOU and Nicoletta DIVARI-VALAKOU, The Middle Helladic Settlement on the Acropolis of Midea 31-44
Άλκηστη ΠΑΠΑΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ, Οι ανασκαφές στο Νοσοκομείο του Άργους 45-56
Kim SHELTON, Living and Dying in and around Middle Helladic Mycenae 57-65
Eleni KONSOLAKI-YIANNOPOULOU, The Middle Helladic Establishment at Megali Magoula, Galatas (Troezenia) 67-76
Joost CROUWEL, Middle Helladic Occupation at Geraki, Laconia 77-86
Eλένη ZΑΒΒΟΎ, Eυρήματα της μεσοελλαδικής και της πρώιμης μυκηναϊκής εποχής από τη Σπάρτη και τη Λακωνία. 87-99
Jack L. DAVIS and Sharon R. STOCKER, Early Helladic and Middle Helladic Pylos: The Petropoulos Trenches and Pre-Mycenaean Remains on the Englianos Ridge 101-106
Jörg RAMBACH, Πρόσφατες έρευνες σε μεσοελλαδικές θέσεις της δυτικής Πελοποννήσου 107-119
Søren DIETZ and Maria STAVROPOULOU-GATSI, Pagona and the Transition from Middle Helladic to Mycenaean in Northwestern Peloponnese 121-128
Lena PAPAZOGLOU-MANIOUDAKI, The Middle Helladic and Late Helladic I Periodsat Aigion in Achaia 129-141
Eva ALRAM-STERN, Aigeira and the Beginning of the Middle Helladic Period in Achaia 143-150
Michaela ZAVADIL, The Peloponnese in the Middle Bronze Age: An Overview 151-163
Walter GAUSS and Rudolfine SMETANA, Aegina Kolonna in the Middle Bronze Age 165-174
Naya SGOURITSA, Lazarides on Aegina: Another Prehistoric Site (poster). 175-180
Γιάννος Γ. ΛΩΛΟΣ, Σκλάβος: ένα μεσοελλαδικό ορόσημο στη νότια ακτή της Σαλαμίνος (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 181-185
Γιάννα ΒΕΝΙΕΡΗ, Νέα στοιχεία για την κατοίκηση στη νότια πλευρά της Ακρόπολης των Αθηνών κατά τη μεσοελλαδική περίοδο: ευρήματα από την ανασκαφή στο οικόπεδο Μακρυγιάννη 187-198
Όλγα ΚΑΚΑΒΟΓΙΑΝΝΗ και Κερασία ΝΤΟΥΝΗ, Η μεσοελλαδική εποχή στη νοτιοανατολική Αττική 199-210
Konstantinos KALOGEROPOULOS, Middle Helladic Human Activity in Eastern Attica: The Case of Brauron 211-221
Jeannette FORSÉN, Aphidna in Attica Revisited 223-234
† Μαρία ΟΙΚΟΝΟΜΑΚΟΥ, Μεσοελλαδικές θέσεις στη Λαυρεωτική και τη νοτιοανατολική Αττική (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 235-242
Nikolas PAPADIMITRIOU, Attica in the Middle Helladic Period 243-257
Φωτεινή ΣΑΡΑΝΤΗ, Νέοι οικισμοί της Μέσης Εποχής του Χαλκού στην επαρχία Ναυπακτίας (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 259-267
Sylvie MÜLLER CELKA, L'occupation d'Érétrie (Eubée) à l'Helladique Moyen (poster) 269-279
Λιάνα ΠΑΡΛΑΜΑ, Mαρία ΘΕΟΧΑΡΗ, Σταμάτης ΜΠΟΝΑΤΣΟΣ, Xριστίνα PΩΜΑΝΟΥ και Γιάννης MΑΝΟΣ, Παλαμάρι Σκύρου: η πόλη της Mέσης Xαλκοκρατίας (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 281-289
Anthi BATZIOU-EFSTATHIOU, Kastraki, a New Bronze Age Settlement in Achaea Phthiotis 291-300
Βασιλική ΑΔΡΥΜΗ-ΣΙΣΜΑΝΗ, Το Διμήνι στη Μέση Εποχή Χαλκού 301-313
Λεωνίδας Π. ΧΑΤΖΗΑΓΓΕΛΑΚΗΣ, Νεότερα ανασκαφικά δεδομένα της Μέσης Εποχής Χαλκού στο Νομό Καρδίτσας 315-329

Anna LAGIA and William CAVANAGH, Burials from Kouphovouno, Sparta, Lakonia 333-346
Eleni MILKA, Burials upon the Ruins of Abandoned Houses in the Middle Helladic Argolid 347-355
Ελένη ΠΑΛΑΙΟΛΟΓΟΥ, Μεσοελλαδικοί τάφοι από τη Μιδέα 357-365
Olivier PELON, Les tombes à fosse de Mycènes : rupture ou continuité ? 367-376
Vassilis ARAVANTINOS and Kyriaki PSARAKI, The Middle Helladic Cemeteries of Thebes. General Review and Remarks in the Light of New Investigations and Finds 377-395
Laetitia PHIALON, Funerary Practices in Central Greece from the Middle Helladic into the Early Mycenaean Period (poster) 397-402
Vassilis P. PETRAKIS, Diversity in Form and Practice in Middle Helladic and Early Mycenaean Elaborate Tombs: An Approach to Changing Prestige Expression in Changing Times 403-416
Maia POMADÈRE, De l'indifférenciation à la discrimination spatiale des sépultures? Variété des comportements à l'égard des enfants morts pendant l'HM-HR I 417-429
Florian RUPPENSTEIN, Gender and Regional Differences in Middle Helladic Burial Customs 431-439
Sevi TRIANTAPHYLLOU, Prospects for Reconstructing the Lives of Middle Helladic Populations in the Argolid: Past and Present of Human Bone Studies 441-451
Abi BOUWMAN, Keri BROWN and John PRAG, Middle Helladic Kinship : Families, Faces and DNA at Mycenae 453-459
Robert ARNOTT and Antonia MORGAN-FORSTER, Health and Disease in Middle Helladic Greece 461-470
Anne INGVARSSON-SUNDSTRÖM, Tooth Counts and Individuals: Health Status in the East Cemetery and Barbouna at Asine as Interpreted from Teeth (poster) 471-477
Fabian KANZ, Karl GROSSSCHMIDT and Jan KIESSLICH, Subsistence and more in Middle Bronze Age Aegina Kolonna : An Anthropology of Newborn Children (poster) 479-487
Leda KOVATSI, Dimitra NIKOU, Sofia KOUIDOU-ANDREOU, Sevi TRIANTAPHYLLOU, Carol ZERNER and Sofia VOUTSAKI, Ancient DNA Analysis of Human Remains from Middle Helladic Lerna (poster) 489-494

Evyenia YIANNOULI, Middle Helladic between Minoan and Mycenaean: On the Symbolic Meaning of Offensive Instruments 497-507
Fritz BLAKOLMER, The Iconography of the Shaft Grave Period as Evidence for a Middle Helladic Tradition of Figurative Arts? 509-519
Anthi THEODOROU-MAVROMMATIDI, Defining Ritual Action. A Middle Helladic Pit at the Site of Apollo Maleatas in Epidauros 521-533
Helène WHITTAKER, Some Thoughts on Middle Helladic Religious Beliefs and Ritual and their Significance in Relation to Social Structure 535-543
Alexandra TRANTA-NIKOLI, Elements of Middle Helladic Religious Tradition and their Survival in Mycenaean Religion (poster) 545-548

Michael B. COSMOPOULOS, The Middle Helladic Stratigraphy of Eleusis 551-556
Αικατερίνη ΣΤΑΜΟΥΔH, Η μεσοελλαδική κατοίκηση στο Κάστρο Λαμίας. Κεραμεικές ακολουθίες και ιδιαιτερότητες στην κοιλάδα του Σπερχειού.. 557-571
Fanouria DAKORONIA, Delphi-Kirrha-Pefkakia via Spercheios Valley : Matt-Painted Pottery as Sign of Intercommunication 573-581
Μαρία-Φωτεινή ΠΑΠΑΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥ και Δημήτρης Ν. ΣΑΚΚΑΣ, Μεσοελλαδική κεραμική από το Αμούρι στην κοιλάδα του Σπερχειού (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 583-590
Ελένη ΦΡΟΥΣΣΟΥ, Η μετάβαση από τη Μέση στην Ύστερη Εποχή Χαλκού στο Νέο Μοναστήρι Φθιώτιδας (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 591-601
Kalliope SARRI, Minyan and Minyanizing Pottery. Myth and Reality about a Middle Helladic Type Fossil 603-613
John C. OVERBECK, The Middle Helladic Origin of "Shaft-Grave Polychrome" Ware 615-619
Iro MATHIOUDAKI, "Mainland Polychrome" Pottery : Definition, Chronology, Typological Correlations 621-633
Walter GAUSS, Aegina Kolonna. Pottery Classification and Research Database (poster) 635-640
Sofia VOUTSAKI, Albert NIJBOER and Carol ZERNER, Radiocarbon Analysis and Middle Helladic Lerna (poster) 641-647

Δέσποινα ΣΚΟΡΔΑ, Κίρρα: οι κεραμεικοί κλίβανοι του προϊστορικού οικισμού στη μετάβαση από τη μεσοελλαδική στην υστεροελλαδική εποχή 651-668
Lindsay SPENCER, The Regional Specialisation of Ceramic Production in the EH III through MH II Period 669-681
Evangelia KIRIATZI, "Minoanising" Pottery Traditions in the Southwest Aegean during the Middle Bronze Age: Understanding the Social Context of Technological and Consumption Practice 683-699
Maria KAYAFA, Middle Helladic Metallurgy and Metalworking : Review of the Archaeological and Archaeometric Evidence from the Peloponnese 701-711
Ιωάννης Δ. ΦΑΠΠΑΣ, Από τη Μέση στην Ύστερη Εποχή Χαλκού: μια οικοτεχνική δραστηριότητα στον Βοιωτικό Ορχομενό 713-719
Armelle GARDEISEN, Approche comparative de contextes du Bronze Moyen égéen à travers les données de l'archéozoologie 721-732
Gerhard FORSTENPOINTNER, Alfred GALIK, Gerald E. WEISSENGRUBER, Stefan ZOHMANN, Ursula THANHEISER and Walter GAUSS, Subsistence and more in Middle Bronze Age Aegina Kolonna :Patterns of Husbandry, Hunting and Agriculture 733-742
Alfred GALIK, Stefan ZOHMANN, Gerhard FORSTENPOINTNER, Gerald WEISSENGRUBER and Walter GAUSS, Subsistence and more in Middle Bronze Age Aegina Kolonna : Exploitation of Marine Resources (poster) 743-751

John BINTLIFF, The Middle Bronze Age through the Surface Survey Record of the Greek Mainland: Demographic and Sociopolitical Insights 755-763
Sofia VOUTSAKI, The Domestic Economy in Middle Helladic Asine 765-779
Anna PHILIPPA-TOUCHAIS, Settlement Planning and Social Organisation in Middle Helladic Greece 781-801
James C. WRIGHT, Towards a Social Archaeology of Middle Helladic Greece 803-815
Louise A. HITCHCOCK and Anne P. CHAPIN, Lacuna in Laconia : Why were there no Middle Helladic Palaces ? (poster) 817-822

Peggy SOTIRAKOPOULOU, The Cycladic Middle Bronze Age : A "Dark Age" in Aegean Prehistory or a Dark Spot in Archaeological Research 825-839
Donna May CREGO, Ayia Irini IV: A Distribution Center for the Middle Helladic World ? (poster) 841-845
Gerald CADOGAN and Katerina KOPAKA, Coping with the Offshore Giant: Middle Helladic Interactions with Middle Minoan Crete 847-858
Luca GIRELLA, MH III and MM III : Ceramic Synchronisms in the Transition to the Late Bronze Age 859-873
Aleydis VAN DE MOORTEL, Interconnections between the Western Mesara and the Aegean in the Middle Bronze Age 875-884
Tomáš ALUŠÍK, Middle Helladic and Middle Minoan Defensive Architecture: A Comparison (poster) 885-889
Christos BOULOTIS, Koukonisi (Lemnos), un site portuaire florissant du Bronze Moyen et du début du Bronze Récent dans le Nord de l'Égée 891-907
Vassilis P. PETRAKIS and Panagiotis MOUTZOURIDIS, Grey Ware(s) from the Bronze Age Settlement of Koukonisi on Lemnos : First Presentation (poster) 909-917
Massimo CULTRARO, In Death not Separated. Evidence of Middle Bronze Age Intramural Burials at Poliochni on Lemnos 919-930
Peter PAVÚK, Minyan or not? The Second Millennium Grey Ware in Western Anatolia and its Relation to Mainland Greece 931-943
Ιωάννης ΑΣΛΑΝΗΣ, Στοιχεία αρχιτεκτονικής από τη μεσοχαλκή Μακεδονία: τα δεδομένα από τον Άγιο Μάμα Νέας Ολύνθου 945-953
Χριστίνα ΖΙΩΤΑ, Η δυτική Μακεδονία στην ύστερη τρίτη και στις αρχές της δεύτερης χιλιετίας π.Χ. Οι ταφικές πρακτικές και οι κοινωνικές τους διαστάσεις 955-967
Sevi TRIANTAPHYLLOU, Aspects of Life Histories from the Bronze Age Cemetery at Xeropigado Koiladas, Western Macedonia (poster) 969-974
Aikaterini PAPANTHIMOU, †Angeliki PILALI and Evanthia PAPADOPOULOU, Archontiko Yiannitson: A Settlement in Macedonia during the Late Third and Early Second Millennium B.C. (poster) 975-980
Λιάνα ΣΤΕΦΑΝΗ και Νίκος ΜΕΡΟΥΣΗΣ, Αναζητώντας τη Μέση Εποχή του Χαλκού στη Μακεδονία.Παλιές και νέες έρευνες στην Ημαθία (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 981-986
Ευτυχία ΠΟΥΛΑΚΗ-ΠΑΝΤΕΡΜΑΛΗ, Ελένη ΚΛΙΝΑΚΗ, Σοφία ΚΟΥΛΙΔΟΥ, Ευτέρπη ΠΑΠΑΔΟΠΟΥΛΟΥ και Αναστάσιος ΣΥΡΟΣ, Η Μέση και η αρχή της Ύστερης Εποχής Χαλκού στην περιοχή του Μακεδονικού Ολύμπου (αναρτημένη ανακοίνωση) 987-993
Kyriaki PSARAKI and Stelios ANDREOU, Regional Processes and Interregional Interactions in Northern Greece during the Early Second Millennium B.C. (poster) 995-1003
Rozalia CHRISTIDOU, Middle Bronze Age Bone Tools from Sovjan, Southeastern Albania (poster) 1005-1012
Γαρυφαλιά ΜΕΤΑΛΛΗΝΟΥ, Η Μέση Χαλκοκρατία στα άκρα: η περίπτωση της Κέρκυρας 1013-1023
Christina MERKOURI, MH III/LH I Pottery from Vivara (Gulf of Naples, Italy). A Contribution to the Understanding of an Enigmatic Period 1025-1036

Conclusion 1037-1039

Tables des matières 1041-1046


1.   Dickinson, O.T.P.K. 1989. 'The Origins of the Mycenaean Civilisation' Revisited. In R. Laffineur (ed.), TRANSITION. Le monde égéen du Bronze Moyen au Bronze Récent, Actes de la 2e Rencontre égéenne internationale de l' université de Liège, Aegaeum 3, Liège, 131-6.
2.   Cf. papers in Felten, F., Gauss, W. and R. Smetana (eds.) 2007. Middle Helladic Pottery and Synchronisms, Proceedings of the International workshop held at Salzburg, October 31st-November 2nd 2004. Wien. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

(read complete article)


Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos. Lfg. 25 χαλκότυπος – Ὦψ. Göttingen/Oakville, CT: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010. Pp. 120. ISBN 9783525255285. €119.00.

Reviewed by Oliver Thomas, University of Oxford (

Version at BMCR home site


The volume under review is the twenty-fifth and final part of the Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos (LfgrE), a monumental and indispensable resource for researchers of early Greek epic. If they have access to LfgrE and do not use it, they are very probably being negligent.

During the first half of the twentieth century, as the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae inched forwards, the heft and breadth of the Greek canon seemed to preclude a similar treatment. However, in 1944 Bruno Snell founded an Archiv für Griechische Lexikographie at the University of Hamburg with a view to producing a whole range of Greek lexica, targeted at single genres and periods. Snell's most notorious interest was to argue that Homer thought in ways quite different from the Greeks of a few generations later, and indeed the first project which he designed for the Archiv was to focus on archaic epic. The first fascicule appeared in 1955, promising twenty-four more, each of about 96 pages and to cost 24 Deutschmarks. There were indeed to be twenty-five fascicules, even if the time-frame, length, and cost of the project rather outstripped initial expectations.1

The lexicon's approach was characterised, like Snell's discussion of Homeric verbs of looking, for example, by ignoring traditional definitions, ferreting out semantic detail by contrasting near-synonyms ('Wortfeldforschung'), and relating this to the thought-patterns of a particular era.2 This was a world away from the venerable lexicographical tradition of one-word definitions. It was also, particularly when applied to epic epithets, a polemical position opposed to any oral poetics whereby 'essential ideas' and metrical exigency prevail over controlled semantic subtlety.

For the lexicon, each headword's etymology, ancient interpretation, accidence, and metrical distribution were to be treated systematically, all of its instances categorised and cited, and secondary literature mentioned. This methodology was streamlined after twenty-five years, when the lexicographers moved from α to β and their main funding from Hamburg to Göttingen. In particular, various less-efficient branches of each entry were pruned (see the Introduction to Volume II). Perhaps the only regrettable decision was to provide a mere bibliography for the commonest words, such as ὡς in the present fascicule. More significant than this major overhaul, however, was the authors' constant care to keep abreast of scholarly developments. For instance, the lexicon's treatment of formulas adapted as scholars such as Russo, Hainsworth and Hoekstra demonstrated formulaic flexibility, and again as J. M. Foley's ideas about traditional referentiality gained ground.

It is impossible to review lexicography without wading into some detail. In the following paragraphs I will consider two entries (χαλκός, by H. W. Nordheider; χάρις, by V. Langholf), partly with specific criticisms, but mainly to show what kind of questions the lexicon is well-placed to answer. Examples could be multiplied, but I chose these entries with a particular contrast in mind. On the one hand, one might expect to be satisfied by a brief definition of χαλκός: the word means 'bronze', or occasionally 'copper'; strikingly often it appears in synecdoche (as a shorthand for 'bronze weaponry', 'bronze armour', or even 'bronze basin'), and occasionally in metonymy (as a shorthand for 'war'). What does Nordheider achieve by devoting slightly over ten columns to the word? On the other hand, χάρις is a very slippery word, and quickly takes one into the specifics of Greek social relationships. This is where one might expect a longer discussion to be particularly illuminating.

The fascicule begins, despite its title, with almost the whole entry for χαλκός. Nordheider gives a generous (or, depending on one's enthusiasm, overwhelming) archaeological bibliography, and draws particular attention (with more manageable bibliography) to some general literary questions posed by the technological background. Do mentions of bronze by the iron-age poet simply reflect centuries-old formulas, or do they also constitute deliberate archaism? If the latter, as is generally accepted, why? For example, references to gold/silver, bronze and iron help respectively to stratify the heroic world into gods, heroes and the 'working class'. LfgrE also prides itself on bringing out the prominent associations of a word as well as its core meaning, and Nordheider rightly emphasises the remarkable frequency with which Homeric bronze 'flashes like lightning' and 'clatters' in vivid battle-narrative.

However, the main value of listing every instance, and describing the word's metrical distribution and epithets at length, would seem to be in assessing the variegated formulaic landscape. In some respects, different formulas apply neatly to different types of object: thus, at verse-end, ὀξέϊ / νηλέϊ χαλκῶι of weapons, but αἴθοπι / νώροπι χαλκῶι of defensive armour; contrast formulas describing bronze in storerooms, which eschew epithets in favour of a string of nouns – gold and bronze, and sometimes also iron or clothing. But in other cases the same epithet applies to objects of diverse categories. For example, the bronze blade of a wood-axe may also be ὀξύς or νηλής. This makes organising the entry tricky: should one group passages by referent, by formula, or some sort of mixture? Personally, Nordheider's approach does not seem totally intuitive. Hatchets and sacrificial knives are widely separated from swords and spears, despite the shared formulaic background. Three instances of the trope 'Even he can be wounded with bronze' end up in three different subsections (Iliad 4.511, 13.323, 22.568). The numerous synecdoches where χαλκός means 'bronze missile(-tip)' are categorised artificially by grammatical case, which separates the formulas διάπρο δὲ εἴσατο χαλκός and διάπρο δὲ χαλκὸν ἔλασσεν. Nordheider begins with the few passages where χαλκός is a raw material, but includes Iliad 8.473 (the Achaeans purchased wine with bronze booty) and excludes from this section Works and Days 151 (the brazen generation worked with bronze).

A few pages later one finds Langholf's entry on χάρις (and on Χάριτες, χαρίεις, χάρμα, χαρμή, etc). As I said, the basic desiderandum here is to pin down the basic meaning in a way that carries conviction. For example, in Iliad 4.95 Athena tempts Pandaros with the thought of kudos and χάρις (including gifts from Paris): 'impressiveness', Trojan 'gratitude', 'reciprocal favours'? Given such difficulties, the entry as a whole could usefully have been rather longer, though Langholf again gives a good bibliography, including the classic lexicographical study by Latacz, and some references to scholarly disputes about individual passages.3

Langholf begins with passages where χάρις denotes a quality of producing τὸ χαίρειν ('grace', 'delightfulness', 'impressiveness', etc.). Physical attractiveness, the most straightforward, is taken first, though more emphasis could have been placed on its conception as a kind of radiance (joy and brightness together, as often in Greek thought), or as something to be poured (like unguent?). A subsection on 'communicative' instances (which in fact includes the χάρις not only of words but also of situations and actions) glosses verbal χάρις as 'Interessantheit', which fails to convince. Langholf's other main category is when χάρις denotes an action, subdivided into sections on the formula 'bear χάρις to someone' and reciprocal favours. This seems dubious: first, a framework of reciprocity seems to me to lurk close to the surface of all instances of χάρις as 'a favour'; secondly and more importantly, there is a further distinction to be made between χάρις which is 'sensed' or 'remembered' (roughly, 'gratitude') and that which is done.

Many of these criticisms reflect the degree to which the nuanced sense of Greek words – and it is in the nuances, not in cursory glances at Liddell & Scott, that so much of the poetry lies – is a subject for interpretative debate. One of the great benefits of LfgrE is to draw attention to precisely this complexity, both through its general aims and through the use it makes of (for example) internal cross-references and alternative glosses. It invites critical engagement rather than complacency. The other great benefit is that all but the shortest entries (including, I must emphasise, both of those discussed above) will teach something useful even to experts.

The 3,300 or so pages of LfgrE constitute a huge achievement, and are remarkably free from slips. Particular praise is due to three long-term editorial driving forces – Michael Meier-Brügger and his second William Beck, and before them Eva-Maria Voigt – as well as to various funding bodies, and to Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. I for one look forward to further products of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae team, even if patience will again be required.4


1.   Supplementary volumes were also planned. Two on archaeological material turned into the Archaeologia Homerica series. Others, such as a list of the intersection between Mycenaean and epic vocabulary, and a set of maps, were obviated by other publications.
2.   B. Snell, The Disovery of the Mind, transl. T. G. Rosenmeyer, New York 1960, 1-4.
3.   J. Latacz, Zum Wortfeld 'Freude' in der Sprache Homers, Heidelberg 1966.
4.   The other major project to have appeared to date, the Index Hippocraticus (Göttingen, 1986-9), has been of similar importance to its field.

(read complete article)


J. L. Lightfoot (ed.), Hellenistic Collection: Philitas, Alexander of Aetolia, Hermesianax, Euphorion, Parthenius. Loeb Classical Library 508. Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 2009. Pp. xix, 662. ISBN 9780674996366. $24.00.

Reviewed by Giambattista D'Alessio, King's College London (giambattista.d'

Version at BMCR home site


'Hellenistic' literature is preserved largely in fragments. Scholars and students have access to annotated bilingual editions of the preserved works of the major poets and of other less prominent Hellenistic authors but the great mass of fragmentary texts, some of them of considerable literary and historical importance, is a field usually reserved for the specialists, who can make use of various important scholarly collections, such as Powell's Collectanea Alexandrina and Lloyd-Jones and Parsons' Supplementum Hellenisticum, updated by Lloyd-Jones' Supplementum Supplementi Hellenistici, that also supplement Pfeiffer's monumental Callimachus (BMCR 2006.12.26). With the exception of Callimachus, though, no up-to-date bilingual annotated collection of these fragmentary texts is available to the general reader.

J. Lightfoot's Hellenistic collection partly fills the gap, in a reliable and sensible way. This is a "selection of Hellenistic literature" (p. vii), not an "anthology", offering a comprehensive edition of the testimonia and the fragments (and, in the case of Parthenius, of his single entirely preserved work) of five Hellenistic writers whose output is mainly but not only poetic: Philitas of Cos, the shadowy 'founding father' of Hellenistic literature (late 4th- early 3rd century);1 two more peripheral early 3rd-century poets, Alexander Aetolus and Hermesianax; Euphorion, a mid-3rd-century poet and scholar who represents at the highest degree some of the features that may seem to embody the potentially less appealing aspects of Hellenistic poetry (extremely concentrated learnedness, obscurity, and apparently gratuitous playfulness); and Parthenius of Nicaea (late 2nd- early 1st century) who arguably played a key role in setting literary trends in late Republican and early Imperial Rome. While the chronological and geographical range is fairly comprehensive, from the point of view of genre Lightfoot 's selection is somewhat limited, her authors (or, at least, the bulk of their preserved fragments) being all representatives of the mainstream elegiac and hexametric production of works prevalently concerned with love stories and/or mythological narrative.

The collection is preceded by a concise and terse general introduction, explaining the criteria of the edition, and touching on a few crucial themes, such as the range of generic expressions of elegiac poetry, the weight of Hesiod's legacy, the importance of making poetry on literary history, and the mutual interaction between poetry and scholarship. Lightfoot's comments on these are generally accurate, up-to-date and to the point. I am a bit puzzled, though, by her statement, that in this period "we do not find literary commentary, in the sense of extracts or lemmata from a text followed by explanatory or interpretative comment on it", a form of scholarship that "was not really developed until the end of the Hellenistic, or beginning of the Roman period" (p. xiii). Apart from the abundant scholarly material from this age that found its way into later scholia, Hellenistic papyri have preserved extremely interesting examples of this very format even for works of Hellenistic poetry, ranging from the very elementary explanations found in the early 2nd-century papyrus with Callimachus's Victory of Berenice to the fully fledged commentary on the epigram on the "Oyster", unconvincingly attributed by its first editor, F. Lasserre, to Philitas.2

Each of the selected authors is preceded by a useful, brief introduction and an up-to-date bibliography. The collection opens with Philitas himself, famously the first to be described as "at the same time poet and critic" by Strabo (Test. 3). For his works Lightfoot could avail herself of three recent full-scale monographs3 but her bibliography includes the most recent scholarship. Even so, however, Test. 2, with biographical information on the poet provided in the scholia on Theocritus' Idyll 7 in a papyrus from Oxyrhynchus, should have been updated with the new readings of C. Meliadò in ZPE 147 (2004), 21. Both in the old and in the new reading, the form of the name of the poet's mother (Εὐκ̣τιόνη, according to Hunt, Εὐκαλιόνη, according to Meliadò) seems to be otherwise unattested,4 and I wonder whether the original name might not have been the fairly frequent (predominantly, but not only, in Attica) Εὐκολίνη. Another case where recent scholarship might have prompted different choices is that of the new Posidippean epigram with the description of a bronze statue of the poet by the famous silversmith Hecataeus. According to the text accepted by Lightfoot, Hecataeus "rendered that punctilious old man with his whole art, maintaining truth's strict canon". According to the conventions of the ekphrastic genre, however, it is surely more likely that Hecataeus with his art rendered the old man "in his entirety" (supplementing, with W. Lapini, ὅλ̣[ον κ]α̣τεμάξατο τέχνηι).5

For Alexander Aetolus the standard reference work remains E. Magnelli's excellent monograph (Florence, 1999). It is slightly awkward, though this conforms to Lightfoot's general practice, that this poet's main fragment, 34 lines on the unhappy story of Antheus, thrown in a well by the wife of his host, whose advances he had rejected, is not printed in this section at all but in that of Parthenius' Sufferings in Love, our only source for the text.6

No recent reliable edition, on the other hand, is available for Hermesianax of Colophon, famous mainly for a long excerpt from his poem Leontion, a huge extract from a playful list where traditional and made-up and surreal love-stories (including Homer's love affair with Penelope, and Hesiod's with Ehoie) set into motion Greek literary history (concluded, not by chance, by Philitas) and philosophical thought. Language and style of this paradoxical catalogue do not always live up to its potential verve. Its text, quoted by Athenaeus, and preserved in a single manuscript, is fraught with corruptions and difficulties. Lightfoot provides an independent new text, incorporating recently published conjectures and suggestions. The apparatus, however, is not entirely reliable. At v. 16, for example, Musurus' conjecture is attributed to a Musaeus (a slip: Musaeus is the mythical poet mentioned by Hermesianax in the preceding lines); at v. 37 ἔτι belongs to Schweighäuser, not to Caspers; πολιῶι is attributed to Hermann, but this was already the text printed in earlier editions, while at 33 Ἰκαρίου is due to Hermann (the manuscript has Ἰκάρου, Lightfoot has no note in the apparatus). This section includes also the edition of a papyrus text of Hellenistic date, with a fragmentary elegy where the speaker curses an unnamed adversary, threatening to tattoo him with representations of famous punishments. Its attribution to Hermesianax, based on a tenuous textual link, has not been universally accepted, and this scepticism is shared by Lightfoot.7

The Hellenistic author best known for curse poetry is Euphorion of Chalcis, whose recherché output enjoyed a remarkable fortune among poets and grammarians in the ancient world. His 210 fragments and 17 testimonia fill up 280 pages, far more than one third of the entire volume. Here too no comprehensive recent edition of the same standard as those of Philitas and Alexander is available, but a few useful monographs have recently contributed to a better reconstruction of his works.8 These texts do not lend themselves easily to a concise bilingual edition. A mature assessment of this mobile and controversial intellectual and of his influential work is still a desideratum, and having made his fragments available to a wider audience of scholars and students is already no small achievement. Within these limits, Lightfoot has succeeded in providing a useful and generally reliable working text. Some recent significant textual contributions, though, have been missed, including A. Ciampi's fresh collation of an important papyrus in Florence,9 that rules out previously supplements, confirms other ones, and provides a few entirely new readings, especially in the scholia, where, for example, it is now clear that the annotation printed and translated by Lightfoot at the top of pp. 252 f. does not mention a place called Pagrai in the Caucasus, but Sicilian toponyms: Syracuse, Mylai (modern Milazzo) and a nearby river (apparently mentioned by Callimachus as well, a new addendum to his fragments). Here too the apparatus is not always entirely reliable: at fr. 26 col. ii, for example, δούρα[τι at v. 22 does not belong to Lloyd-Jones and Parsons, but to Norsa and Vitelli , and at v. 24 λ̣[ευ]κανίην does not belong to van Groningen, but to Latte. At the end of the fragment no explicit indication is given to the reader that it actually coincides with the end of the poem itself. At fr. 121 our source mentions a commentary ἀνεπίγραφον on Euphorion's lost Gaping Dionysus: Lightfoot translates the word as "untitled", but it is more likely what the commentary lacked was the name of its compiler.10 At 127 Lightfoot translates ἠὲ πόθεν ποταμῶν κελέβηι ἀποήφυϲαϲ ὕδωρ as "you have drawn river-water in a cup- how can that be?": a likelier alternative, perhaps, is that πόθεν here is specified, as usual, by the following genitive ποταμῶν and that the meaning was simply "from which/some river". At fr. 128 the person described as hunting with a dog ( κυνηλατέων) sporting a prominent leather-belt and a newly wiped sword ( αὐτῶι ϲὺν τελαμῶνι νεοϲμήκτωι τε μαχαίρηι ) is very probably Orion. Nonnus, Dion. 3.1-3 describes the constellation in similar terms (ἄκρα δὲ φαίνων ἀννεφέλωι τελαμῶνι φαεϲφόρα νῶτα μαχαίρηϲ Ὠρίων, with τελαμῶνι and μαχαίρηϲ in the same metrical sedes), and Nicander, the only other author to use the verb κυνηλατέω, applies it to Orion. According to Euphorion fr. 67 not even a child would fail to recognize his constellation. The source quoting this latter fragment draws attention to the brightness of its stars, particularly those in the "belt" and the "sword". We may venture to imagine that fr. 128 might have followed fr. 67 after a very short interval. Lightfoot follows previous editors in supplementing, with Schneider, the genitive κυνηλατέοντοϲ at the end of the previous line but, of course, there is no need to assume that the word was in this case.11 At fr. 130 a new examination of the lexicographical sources and of the Arabic version of Galen I published in 2006 shows that Euphorion's πέμφιγεϲ were neither "droplets" nor "breezes", but "ghosts".12 Regarding fr. 152, Lightfoot's idea (p. 383 n. 183) that Euphorion's ναυαγόϲ in the sense of "one who leads / is a captain of a ship" would presuppose a scansion different (with a short alpha) from that of the usual meaning of the word ("shipwrecked") is very doubtful: nominal compounds from ἄγω, as a rule, have a long alpha (or an eta). Fr. 183 should be excluded from a collection of Euphorion's fragments as the traces of the name quoted in this papyrus commentary on Pindar are not compatible with this reading.13 Lightfoot's edition includes the fragments of Euphorion's prose works. These range from medical lexicography to the history of musical instruments and of athletic competitions. Fr.193 deals with the prehistoric monsters that once inhabited the island of Samos, "able to create fissures in the earth through their cries alone". Aelian, explicitly quoting Euphorion, calls them νηάδεϲ. Traces of this tradition are preserved also in other sources, examined in detail in a 1999 article by E. Magnelli (not mentioned by Lightfoot), who, partly reviving a 19th-century scholarly opinion, argued that these terrific beasts were in fact called νήιδεϲ, the "Slow-witted Ones", suggesting a possible link to Callimachus' Telchines.14

Parthenius of Nicaea was the subject of Lightfoot's first excellent monograph, with a commentary on the poetic fragments and the one extant prose work of this author, whose shadow hovers in many literary history of 1st-century Latin poetry. Captured by the Romans during the third Mithridatic war, and possibly a freedman of the 'neoteric' poet Cinna, he dedicated his collection of love stories to Cornelius Gallus and is widely thought to have exerted a significant influence on Virgil and other contemporary poets. Parthenius enjoyed great fame throughout the Imperial period and counted among his fans the emperors Tiberius and Hadrian (perhaps the author of a Greek epigram on the restoration of his tomb: Test. 4). Lightfoot includes the same texts as in her previous edition, in a slightly different format (with a new critical apparatus for the papyrus fragments), and with some updates. The edition includes two papyrus fragments (55 and 56) whose ascription to Parthenius is very doubtful (Lightfoot herself is sceptical). It is a pity, though, that two further papyri (964.1-20 SH and POxy 4711) recently attributed to the poet are merely mentioned without actually being printed. Their claim to a Parthenian authorship is not weaker than that for fragments 55 and 56. Bernsdorff has made a strong case in favour of the ascription of POxy 4711 (a leaf of a 6th-century CE parchment codex with a series of short elegiac poems on themes related to metamorphosis) to a much later author, but the debate on this text has raised so many interesting issues, with possible implications on the literary history of the genre, that most readers of Parthenius' fragments would have certainly benefited from its inclusion.

The collection is concluded by Parthenius' Sufferings in Love, 36 short stories drawn from (mostly Hellenistic) poetic and erudite sources and dedicated to Cornelius Gallus as possible subject-matter for further poetic elaborations in Latin verse. Apart from their interest for reconstructing lost Greek narrative poems and the background of much, lost and preserved, Latin poetry, these stories are an interesting mixture of mythography, paradoxography, and historiography, offering points of contact with the novel. Most of them involve incestuous and other illicit passions, such as necrophilia, and end in suicides, murder, or accidental killings, but the grim content is conveyed in a detached and thoroughly nonjudgmental narrative style that makes this collection more intriguing. Not surprisingly, they are far more easily accessible than the poetic fragments and have enjoyed a much greater popularity.15 Lightfoot had already earned well-deserved praise for her previous treatment of this work in her 1999 edition and now makes the results of her efforts available to a wider readership in a revised and improved version.16

The Loeb series imposes restrictions of space, and these are difficult texts to read. In most cases Lightfoot manages to find the right balance between concision and the need to provide the necessary information to different categories of readers. Only occasionally the lack of explicatory notes may make life complicated for the uninitiated reader. For some examples of this, and other cases of criticisms of details, I refer to the comments section in the blog version of this review (see below).

All in all, this is an excellent tool that will render a good service to the study of Hellenistic literature.


1.   All dates are BCE.
2.   Cf. K. Spanoudakis, Philitas of Cos (Leiden, Boston, Köln, 2002), 335 n. 1. The text is not included in Lightfoot's edition.
3.   Cf. L. Sbardella, Filita. Testimonianza e frammenti poetici (Rome, 2000), E. Dettori, Filita grammatico. Testimonianze e frammenti,(Rome, 2000), Spanoudakis (above, n. 2).
4.   According to Spanoudakis (above, n. 2), 26 (writing before Meliadò's new reading), Euktione "is unattested elsewhere in the Aegean and it is a rare name altogether, which suggests some elitism", but I have been unable to trace any occurrence at all.
5.   Cf. W. Lapini Capitoli su Posidippo (Alessandria, 2007), 266, with previous bibliography.
6.   At v. 21, Passow's different punctuation of the transmitted text, still, in my opinion, the best solution for this tormented passage, should have been mentioned in the apparatus or in a note.
7.   To the bibliography on this add R. Rawles, "Homeric Beginnings in the Tattoo Elegy", CQ 56 (2006), 486-495 (and the corrections in CQ 57.1).
8.   B. A. van Groningen's posthumously published Euphorion (Amsterdam, 1977), though harshly criticized in reviews, and not based on a first-hand assessment of the manuscripts, is still very much worth consulting, and Lightfoot rightly mentions several of his suggestions in her apparatus, adopting a few ones in her text. We should be looking forward to E. Magnelli's announced edition, already preceded by several articles and by a preliminary monograph, Studi su Euforione (Rome, 2002).
9.   A. Ciampi, "Euforione: testo e scolî in PSI XIV 1390", in Comunicazioni dell'Istituto Papirologico <[G. Vitelli]> 7 (2007), 9-28.
10.   Cf. the sch. A on Eur. Med. 9, p. 143 Schwartz, quoting a commentary ἀνεπίγραφον on Pindar (corresponding to sch. ad Ol. 13.74).
11.   I find that I have been anticipated in this by Magnelli (above, n. 8), 118 n. 71 followed now, by A. Debiasi in QUCC 94 (2010), 99-119, on p. 112 (who further speculates that Euphorion treated Orion's myth in his Hesiod). The conjecture is likely enough, and should at least have been mentioned in a note.
12.   Cf. G. B. D'Alessio in 'Le ῟Ωραι e le πέμφιγεc: fr. 43.40-41 Pf. (= fr. 50 M.)', in G. Bastianini, A. Casanova (eds.), Callimaco. Cent'anni di papiri (Florence, 2006), 101-117.
13.   Cf. Magnelli (above, n. 8), 129, n. 8, referring to my inspection of the papyrus. In Lightfoot's own edition the relevant letters are printed as if they were in a gap, though their traces are visible both on the papyrus and in its reproductions.
14.   ZPE 27 (1999), 52-58. On the text of another of Euphorion's prose fragments cf. L. Lehnus, "A Callimachean Medley", ZPE 147 (2007), 27 f.
15.   The bibliography on this work is steadily increasing. To Lightfoot's own updates add also A. Zucker (ed.), Littérature et érotisme dans les Passions d'amourde Parthénios de Nicée (Grenoble, 2008).
16.   Mistakes and slips noted in reviews of the 1999 edition have generally been corrected. I am not sure that the solution now adopted at 33.2 (Zangoiannes' γήμαϲθαι <βούλεϲθαι>) actually solves the linguistic problems involved in the transmitted text.

(read complete article)

Friday, May 27, 2011


Dietrich D. Klemm, Rosemarie Klemm, The Stones of the Pyramids: Provenance of the Building Stones of the Old Kingdom Pyramids of Egypt. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2010. Pp. v, 167. ISBN 9783110221237. $98.00.

Reviewed by William H. Peck, The University of Michigan-Dearborn (

Version at BMCR home site

Dietrich and and Rosemarie Klemm have published extensively in the past on the geology of Egypt, the stones used in ancient Egyptian construction and the quarries from which building stone was obtained in antiquity. Their work, employing petrographical and geochemical methods, has become something of a model for the analysis of ancient construction material and its sources in Egypt. This text is concerned with the provenience of the stone used in the pyramids of the Old Kingdom, differentiating between the material of core and casing, as well as the stone of attendant structures (Valley Temple, Causeway, and Pyramid Temple, where they exist.) Proximity of quarries to the monuments is taken into consideration as a natural element in the study of the logistics of supply.

Each pyramid is discussed chronologically beginning with the Step Pyramid of Djoser and ending with the Pyramid of Pepi II, but also including the Mastabat el-Faraoun and the Sun Temples of Userkaf and Niuserre. The geological setting of each structure and any physical factors that may have influenced its building and condition are given as preliminary information. Number and source position of stone samples are given and the results of the petrographical and geochemical analysis for structures and quarries are presented in textual and graphic form. Each structure is given its exact geographical coordinates, height, base and slope. Original height and preserved height are sometimes indicated. The size of the base is stated in meters. "Slope" indicated the inclination of side. In general the text is simply and direct and there are only occasional infacilities in the English translation from the German. Numerous photographs both aerial and ground of structures and quarries, plus construction details where appropriate, are included.

The samples for study and analysis taken were made with the permission, agreement and supervision of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Analysis was carried out with the assistance of the Institute of Egyptology, University of Munich, in the laboratories and with the technical assistant of The Institute of General and Applied Geology of the same institution. Some tentative conclusions suggest that the establishment of a correlation between stone source and monument may lead to explanations other than those generally accepted by Egyptologists. As an example, it is posited that the physical nature of the stone derived from the limestone quarries used in the construction of the Step Pyramid of Djoser may have dictated the size of stone elements, counter to the widely held theory that the size of the units used imitated traditional mud brick in this early example of stone construction (p. 15). A similar contrary conclusion concerning the Medium Pyramid suggests that exhaustion of the high quality stone in the nearby quarry may have been one factor in its abandonment before completion (p.47).

In addition to the specific discussion of each monument there is included a short digression on the somewhat popular idea that pyramids were built of poured concrete blocks. In the past many theories have been advanced to explain the transport and placement of the blocks, particularly for the Pyramid of Khufu. The poured concrete theory is only one of the latest such. After a technical explanation based on their own work and observations, the authors conclude: "However it must be emphasized that such theories are nonsense" (p. 81)

In general the evidence is presented in a convincing manner and the relation of monument to quarry is demonstrated with little room for argument. The evidence of the microphotographs and other graphic representations can only be challenged by a geologist or geochemist. In a conversation with a geologist about the methods employed, the only negative comment, however, concerned the translation of the technical language from the German by a translator who was not completely familiar with English technical usage. The publisher's price, like those of many works of a technical nature, seems prohibitively high for what is relatively modest publication of 167 pages on glossy paper.

The Contents: Preface, Acknowledgements, Introduction, I. The Step Pyramid of Djoser, II. The "Buried Pyramid" of Sekhemkhet, III. The Pyramids of Zawiyet el-Aryan, IV. The Meidum Pyramid, V. The Pyramids of Snofru at Dahshur, VI. The Gizeh Pyramids, VII. The Pyramid of Djedefre at Abu Roash, VIII. The Mastabat el-Faroun of Shepseskaf, IX. The Pyramid of Userkaf at Saqqara-North, X. The Sun Temples of Userkaf and Niuserre at Abu Gurob, XI. The Pyramids of Abusir, XII. The Pyramid of Djedkare at Saqqara-South, XIII. The Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara-North, XIV. The Pyramid of Teti, XV. The Pyramid of Pepi I at Saqqara-South, XVI. The Pyramid of Merenre, XVII. The Pyramid of Pepi II, XVIII. Concluding Remarks, Notes, References.

(read complete article)


Chiara Battistella (ed.), P. Ovidii Nasonis "Heroidum Epistula" 10: Ariadne Theseo. Introduzione, testo e commento. Texte und Kommentare Bd 35. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2010. Pp. viii, 135. ISBN 9783110240856. $98.00.

Reviewed by Gail Trimble, Trinity College, Cambridge (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

No one could now call the Heroides a neglected part of Ovid's oeuvre. The collection of (apparently) fifteen elegiac letters written by mythical women to the men they desire or have lost, and its sequel of six letters of courtship between heroes and heroines, are now read as an elaborate reflection on the relationships between poetry and myth-making, and between writing and gender. The last two decades have seen important articles on the poems' intertextuality1 and monographs offering different feminist readings of their epistolary form and interrelationships.2 Battistella's joins a number of commentaries on single poems or on twos and threes,3 while the Cambridge green-and-yellows of Knox and Kenney will be familiar to many.4 A good modern text, however, is still lacking,5 and for many of the letters questions of authenticity remain.

Battistella's book, described as the 'rielaborazione' of a doctoral thesis defended at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, consists of an introduction, text, translation and commentary taking a long, thoughtful look at Heroides 10, the letter of the abandoned Ariadne to Theseus. The text is Battistella's own but has no apparatus criticus; the philological side of the commentary is competent and will be helpful for someone undertaking a careful reading of the poem. The introduction, however, and the more literary notes develop some interesting new interpretations: these parts of the book will be of benefit to anyone working on the Heroides or Ovidian intertextuality. I wish that the author had displayed a similar level of assertiveness throughout.

As Battistella notes in the acknowledgements (p. vii), the introduction (pp. 1-29) is selective. It does not contain truly introductory material designed for a reader approaching the poem in detail for the first time. Instead, the first section, on literary and personal memory, briefly situates Battistella's work within the contemporary critical tradition on the Heroides, and is followed by eight short literary studies (counting the appendix).

Like most of the other Heroides, Ariadne's letter is parasitical upon one earlier text in particular: in this case, Catullus 64. One of Battistella's introductory essays (pp. 2-7) discusses the Ovidian Ariadne's failure to free herself from this model of "Ariadne on the shore": Battistella finds metapoetic significance in the words litus and harena, and reads line 20, alta puellares tardat harena pedes, as a depiction of Ariadne's elegiac "feet" being retarded by the epic pull of Catullan sand. Another section (pp. 7-9) intriguingly finds a Homeric "palimpsest" behind the Catullan one. Using careful textual comparisons with Odyssey 9, Battistella argues that at some points in her letter, Ariadne plays Polyphemus. The phrase nullus erat, repeated in typically elegiac fashion at the beginning and end of a couplet (11-12), evokes Odysseus' deceptive self-naming as Οὖτις, thus casting Theseus as the successful trickster and Ariadne, dozily feeling for her lover in bed, as the blinded Cyclops checking his sheep for escaping heroes.

Both of these sections are convincingly argued, but the fact that each relies so much on close reading of a particular couplet creates a problem of balance between the introduction and the lemmata concerned (11-12, 19-20); it is not always clear why particular points have been made in one place rather than the other, or even whether Battistella's work here might not have been better presented in article form. Other sections, however, are more suited to their place in the introduction to a literary commentary, setting out approaches to the poem which can be supported by further discussion across various lemmata. These include the section characterising the relationship between Ovid's Ariadne and a second Catullan voice, not the Ariadne of Catullus 64 but the "Catullus" of the (proto-elegiac) personal poetry (pp. 15-16); and the two closing sections on how this Ariadne uses hints of the elegiac in Catullus 64 to fashion herself as a super-elegiac version of the abandoned woman (pp. 17-22), yet simultaneously "disfigures" the elegiac genre by contaminating it with epic themes of maenadic madness and adventurous voyage (pp. 22-8).

In a note on the text (p. 31), Battistella explains that she has not consulted the manuscripts but has worked from the standard editions of Palmer and Dörrie and therefore omits even a minimal apparatus criticus.6 A table indicates the 14 places where her text differs from Palmer's, Dörrie's, or both; oddly, given that in the commentary she frequently discusses the textual choices of Knox, she describes his work only as "[i]l commento più recente all'eroide" (emphasis mine), and the table does not include his readings. There is a list of sigla for occasional use in the commentary: four manuscripts (P, G, F, Ea) and the standard ω "codices recentiores omnes vel plures" and Ϛ "codices recentiores aliquot vel pauci vel unus." The note concludes simply, and slightly mysteriously, "[Cf. Tarrant (1983); Knox (1995), pp. 34-37]'.7 Battistella is far from alone in wishing to treat textual matters as economically as possible in a literary commentary: but neither here nor anywhere else does she tell her readers that the transmitted text of the Heroides is more corrupt than that of any other part of Ovid's corpus, or that it is impossible to draw a satisfactory stemma, but that "[a]ll inherently plausible readings, whatever their source, must be taken seriously, and sense and usage are the only sure criteria for deciding among them."8 Just this much characterisation of the tradition would have been helpful for readers of her textual notes.

The text itself is elegantly presented. I cannot comment on the stylistic quality of the Italian translation (facing-page prose), but it is accurate and fairly literal.

In the commentary, Battistella's discussions of textual controversies often reveal a conservative attitude: if the text of the main manuscript tradition can be defended, she will usually defend it. Examples such as 149n. (choosing uento against the more pointed uelo) seem merely cautious, but elsewhere it is good to see literary and textual criticism meeting, and the recent appreciation of the Heroides as self-consciously metapoetic works being used in the discussion of editorial choices. Battistella thus defends 79-80 nunc ego non tantum quae sum passura recordor | sed quaecumque potest ulla relicta pati in terms of Ariadne's awareness of what "any abandoned woman" usually suffers, and her "memory" – from earlier texts – of what she is about to suffer herself. Battistella accepts several small-scale conjectures, supporting them sensibly, but in doing so reveals a practical flaw: she regularly names the originator of a conjecture without identifying or dating the publication in which he made it. The reader must go to Dörrie or Knox even to confirm that the conjectures of Heinsius and Burman were made in their own editions; it would have been simple to add these to the bibliography. The same problem sometimes occurs where Battistella chooses one manuscript reading over another; neither at 15-16n. nor at 31n. is it clear that Battistella's preferred text is a reading of Ϛ, while in an edition without apparatus expressions such as "stampo con Knox" only confirm the impression that this editor sees her task as a choice among previous editions as much as among manuscripts.

The philological notes explaining usage, style, linguistic features and so on are often very informative, with appropriate parallels selected to fit the middling scale of the commentary: see e.g. 35-6n. on fugere of abandoning lovers. For further explanation than that given by parallels and references to OLD and TLL, however, Battistella consistently refers not to grammars or to other standard reference works9 but to other commentaries, in the great majority of cases to other commentaries on the Heroides (see n. 3); Michalopoulos is apparently a particular favourite. This policy gives an unnecessary impression of diffidence; it implies that the best notes on some typical stylistic features of Latin poetry are to be found in recent commentaries on the Heroides, which is surely not always the case; and it takes up space that could better be used to show how a construction or vocabulary item has the particular effect it does at this point in this text. "Knox ad loc." also appears very frequently; often Battistella is adding to or questioning Knox's note, but often too she is simply agreeing with his judgement or citing the same parallels as he does.

The best qualities of the commentary are found in the most literary notes. Battistella is particularly strong in some of the interpretative areas identified in the introduction, especially the poem's detailed relationship with Catullus, and with other literary predecessors including Homer (Ariadne as a Siren, 39n.), Lucretius (81n.), Virgil, and non-Ovidian elegy (the blending towards the end of the poem of Dido's suicide with a Propertian or Tibullan death wish). There is much excellent material on Ariadne's negotiations between elegy and epic (e.g. 130n. on tituli), and on her ironic foreshadowing of her Bacchic future (e.g. 15-16, 58, 89-90, 96nn.). Miscellaneous examples could be multiplied. Again, however, Battistella has a frustrating tendency to direct the reader away from her own achievements. Sometimes she does so without providing enough information, giving a reference to another work without telling the reader what to expect there. But frequently she provides too much, quoting from other criticism at some length, often in English. Of course Battistella is building on the work of other scholars, but both of these habits appear to stem from an unwillingness to paraphrase it and integrate it with her own.

The bibliography (pp. 109-21) reflects Battistella's immersion in recent work on these poems, mostly in Italian or English. It is clearly set out but has no separate sections (one might have expected one for editions of and commentaries on the Heroides), except for a list of six abbreviated titles. Verducci (1985), referred to several times in both introduction and commentary, seems to be missing. There are useful indices of "Parole e cose notevoli" and passages cited. The book is attractively produced. I noticed some minor typographical errors, in punctuation or orthography.

This is a helpful commentary on an interesting poem, longer and fuller than Knox. It is a shame that it is marred by such frequent deference to external authority, either forcing readers to find details in other books (but overwhelmingly in other commentaries on Ovid), or providing them with quotations from other books rather than more of Battistella's own judgements. These tendencies, which strangely replicate the characteristic "secondarietà" of the Heroides themselves, may result from the book's origin as a doctoral thesis: they are particularly unfortunate because Battistella's strongly argued ideas about this poem are so obviously worthy of attention.


1.   Including A. Barchiesi, "Future reflexive: two modes of allusion and Ovid's Heroides," HSCPh 95 (1993) 333-65; D. F. Kennedy, "Epistolarity: the Heroides", in P. R. Hardie ed. The Cambridge companion to Ovid (Cambridge 2002) 217-32.
2.   S. H. Lindheim, Mail and female: epistolary narrative and desire in Ovid's Heroides (Madison 2003); E. Spentzou, Readers and writers in Ovid's Heroides: transgressions of genre and gender (Oxford 2003); L. Fulkerson, The Ovidian heroine as author: reading, writing, and community in the Heroides (Cambridge 2005).
3.   A. Barchiesi, P. Ovidii Nasonis Epistulae Heroidum 1-3 (Florence 1992); S. Casali, P. Ovidii Nasonis Heroidum Epistula IX (Florence 1995); G. Rosati, P. Ovidii Nasonis Heroidum Epistulae XVIII-XIX (Florence 1996); F. Bessone, P. Ovidii Nasonis Heroidum Epistulae XII (Florence 1997); T. Heinze, P. Ovidius Naso. Der XII. Heroidenbrief (Leiden 1997); J. Reeson, Ovid, Heroides 11, 13 and 14 (Leiden 2001); A. N. Michalopoulos, Ovid, Heroides 16 and 17 (Cambridge 2006); L. Piazzi, P. Ovidii Nasonis Heroidum Epistula VII (Florence 2007).
4.   P. E. Knox, Ovid, Heroides: select epistles (Cambridge 1995); E. J. Kenney, Ovid, Heroides XVI-XXI (Cambridge 1996).
5.   But awaited from J. B. Hall, for Teubner.
6.   A. Palmer, Ovid, Heroides (Oxford 1898); H. Dörrie, P. Ovidii Nasonis Epistulae Heroidum (Berlin 1971).
7.   R. J. Tarrant, Heroides, in L. D. Reynolds, ed., Texts and transmission. A survey of the Latin classics (Oxford 1983) 268-72; Knox, n. 4 above.
8.   Tarrant (n. 8 above) 270.
9.   For instance, R. Pichon, De sermone amatorio apud Latinos elegiarum scriptores (Paris 1902) might have been helpful for the language of elegy.

(read complete article)


Silvia Bussi, Daniele Foraboschi (ed.), Roma e l'eredità ellenistica: atti del convegno internazionale, Milano, Università statale, 14-16 gennaio 2009. Studi ellenistici, 23. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2010. Pp. 226. ISBN 9788862272797. €95.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Stefano Caneva, Università di Pavia (ITA) (

Version at BMCR home site

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

The fourteen papers contained in this volume approach a wide range of topics related to continuity, rupture, and change between the Hellenistic and Roman ages. The collection opens with an introduction by Foraboschi and includes two reviews of a previous book by Bussi whose topic is related to the conference.

The paper by Virgilio stands out as it provides a much improved edition of a royal letter from the Carian temple of Sinuri,1 dating to Antiochos III's campaign in 203-201 BC. Virgilio has worked on the dossiers collected at the Fonds Louis Robert and thanks to digital tools has been able to reconstruct portions of text that were hitherto unreadable. The new document confirms the dossiers from Amyzon and Labraunda about the problems caused by the activities of Antiochos' troops during his western campaign.

With reference to the expedition in Lower Nubia recorded in the stela of Cornelius Gallus, Bussi reviews the story of the encounters between Egypt and the Meroitic Kingdom in the region of the Dodekaschoinos, from the eighth century BC to the early Roman age (a map of the region would have been useful). Bussi provides a convincing portrait of the economic and strategical relevance of the region. On the other hand, she might have focused more on the ideological aspects of control over Nubia, which emerge through the pharaonic and Ptolemaic documentation. For example, one would expect a reference to the procession held by Ptolemy II in Alexandria where Nubian captives are displayed bringing a tribute of ivory, gold, silver, and gold powder (Athen. V.200 F – 201 C), the same products appearing on the decoration of a Ramesside temple in Beit el-Uali, Nubia.2

Miedico investigates the role of Demetrios' propaganda in shaping a message of victory and aspiration to universal power through coins and statuary. In particular, she focuses on the motifs of Nike and the sea, which hint at the victory against Ptolemy I at Salamis in Cyprus (306 BC), and of Poseidon stepping either on a rock (after the conquest of Athens in 294) or on a globe, alluding to universal power (probably late in Demetrios' career, before his fall in 287). Both symbols reappear in the late first century BC, in Sextus Pompeius' and Octavian's coinage. Miedico also intriguingly reevaluates an early dating of the Nike of Samothrace to the period when Demetrios was king of Macedon (294-288 BC).

Savio and Cavagna explore Augustan coinage in Egypt by focusing on the iconography of Augustus' six bronze series. The presence of typical Roman elements is meant to mark the beginning of a new rule by portraying some crucial points of Augustan ideology; on the other hand, the preservation of Ptolemaic emblems, such as the cornucopia, the eagle, and the Dioscuri's stars or pilei clearly hint at the appropriation of legitimating motifs that could also be understood in the Roman iconographic tradition.

Desideri considers the different treatments of Alexander in the works of Plutarch and Dio of Prusa against the background of the relationship between intellectuals and imperial power in the first and second centuries AD. Plutarch, whose Alexander gives more space to some negative aspects of Alexander's character than his earlier De Fortuna, follows a different evolution from Dio's thought, Desideri argues. The latter seems to move from the diatribic dialogue On Kingship IV, where Diogenes stands against an arrogant Alexander playing the violent ruler of Domitian's times, to the revised portrait of On Kingship II, probably dating to Trajan's reign, where Alexander is portrayed as a legitimate king modeled on Homeric tradition.

Asmonti focuses on the evolution in Hellenistic and Roman times of the remembered link between Athens and the invention of democracy by focusing on the portrait that Cicero's Brutus gives of Demochares' committed style, a model of the orator as a politically involved man. Asmonti points to a discrepancy between the concept of democracy as it appears in second century decrees and official letters and in the work of Demochares of Leukonoe. In the first case, the granting of freedom and autonomy to cities belongs to a well established Hellenistic procedure, which was adopted by the Romans while spreading their rule over Greece.3 On the other hand, Demochares ideologically recalls an uninterrupted link between democracy, Athens' past grandeur and its present struggle for freedom. Asmonti thus recognizes in Demochares an intellectual who resisted the "process of normalization" carried out by the Hellenistic monarchies "by reasserting the irrenouncable link between Athens and its democratic heritance" (p. 139). However, the contrast could be explained rather by the different contexts and pragmatics of the texts discussed: an Athenian nationalist, Demochares gives his city's past a value that would be out of place in the language of a pacific international exchange.

Marcone's paper offers an up-to-date discussion of the links between Hellenistic ruler cults and the imperial cults of the Roman age. The thorough combination of epigraphic and literary texts allows Marcone to reconsider the patterns of acculturation that accompanied the granting of cultic honours to Roman leaders. Marcone investigates the introduction and reception of ruler cults in the West from the most recent perspectives developed by studies in Hellenistic religion: 1) the 'deus praesens' pattern responds to the aim of confirming the legitimacy of a leader whose efficacy in granting peace and wealth is depicted in terms of a divine epiphany; 2) the political relevance of the cults cannot be separated from their religious importance; 3) the religious experience related to the new cults must be sought not in senatorial literature, but in documentary texts, which provide a direct description of the cults and their meaning for the large majority of the population;4 4) the moral discourse employed by the senatorial elite must be read against the background of the political strife they express.

Bejor returns to the link between Pergamene baroque and Attalid propaganda, both internal and external, by raising the question of which Pergamene art was actually related to this style and to what extent its pathos and dynamism were expressly meant to mark the works related to the self-representation of dynastic power.

In Coppola's paper, iconography is a part of a broader perspective investigating the ideological link between art, the place it is displayed, and the community that displays it. Through a large number of cases in which Greek statues were removed, returned, or re-used by Romans, Coppola convincingly argues that the meaning of such initiatives can be fully grasped only when we approach them as the confirmation of communicative acts: the interaction between those responsible for removing the statue, the community where the statue was originally located, and the one that receives it can be read as a diplomatic exchange stating the relationships between central power and local identities.

Troiani discusses Flavius Josephus' quotation of a passage in Polybios where reference is made to an epiphany in the temple in Jerusalem (Flav. Jos., Ant. Jud. XII.135-136 = Pol. 16.39.1-5) by associating it with the story of Heliodoros in II Maccabees 3.3. According to this narrative, Heliodorus was inspecting the temple to prepare for withdrawal of royal funds when a divine epiphany prevented him from depriving the temple of its grant. Troiani links the episode in II Macc. with an epigraphic dossier attesting a general inspection of the sanctuaries of Coelesyria and Phoenicia ordered by Seleukos in 178 BC and concludes that the episode, mentioned by Polybios, disappeared in the later Jewish tradition as it reflected an excessively Hellenized depiction of God's intervention.

Capponi deals with the identification of the Chrestus who, according to Suet. Claud. 25.4, instigated the Jews to the revolt that resulted in Claudius' expulsion decree of 49 AD. By considering the documentation on imperial freedmen named Chrēstos or Chrestianus, Capponi rejects the identification with Christ in favour of a figure who must have been still living during the revolt. This Chrestus might be an influential imperial freedman, possibly the owner of an ousia in Egypt (P. Thmouis 1). The confusion with Christ was generated by Orosius (Adv. Pag. 7.6.15-16), Capponi argues, who was the first to interpret Suetonius' passage as a reference to the Christians in Rome.

Foraboschi proposes a long-term assessment of the relations between centralized dirigisme and the development of a 'market' economy in Hellenistic kingdoms and the Empire. Borders and interactions between the two trends are discussed in the fields of monetary policy, agrarian economy, and professional associations. A composite portrait emerges in which planning responds to varied aims and shows different levels of fulfilment or failure in relation to the social and economic background where it is implemented.

Brizzi reconsiders the casualty numbers given by ancient sources regarding the first battles between Roman and Hellenistic armies. Although exaggeration can sometimes be taken as certain, a new evaluation is proposed, considering not only the different fighting strategies employed by the Romans, but also a more general change in mentality, which occurred, Brizzi argues, during the third-century wars against Carthage. A significant increase in the human costs of wars, which can be detected in Rome through the census documentation, had already accustomed the Romans to evaluate massacres as a revealing measure of field victories, a change that had not taken place in the Orient, despite the enlargement of Hellenistic mercenary armies.

After a theoretical discussion of the concepts of 'Romanization' and 'transfert culturel', Legras studies the implementation of Roman principles in the family law of the peregrini in Egypt. By concentrating on the status of children born inside or outside marriage as well as on adoptions and successions, Legras shows that the 'transfert de droit' was not uniform and did not lead to a mixture of systems of law; rather, it implied an "interchange of borrowings or of influences" that added a new stratum to the already complex coexistence of Greek and Egyptian legal traditions in the Ptolemaic period.

Table of Contents

D. Foraboschi, Introduzione (6)
P. Desideri, Il mito di Alessandro in Plutarco e Dione (19)
C. Miedico, Comunicare il potere presso la corte di Demetrio Poliorcete (33)
B. Virgilio, L'epistola reale del santuario di Sinuri presso Mylasa in Caria, sulla base dei calchi del Fonds Louis Robert della Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (55)
G. Bejor, Pergamo, propaganda di stile (109)
L. Troiani, Polibio e l'«epifania» nel tempio di Gerusalemme (113)
D. Foraboschi, Programmazione ellenistico-romana? (119)
L. Asmonti, The Democratic Model from Hellenistic Athens to Republican Rome: Cicero on Demochares of Leuconoe (131)
G. Brizzi, Forme principi della guerra tra Grecia e Roma: qualche ulteriore considerazione (141)
A. Coppola, Storie di statue: vincitori e vinti nella Graecia capta (153)
S. Bussi, Egitto e Nubia tra ellenismo e Roma: continuità e fratture nella politica internazionale romana (165)
H. Cotton, B. Legras, Presentazione del libro di Silvia Bussi, Le élites locali nella provincia d'Egitto di prima età imperiale (177)
B. Legras, Rome et l'Égypte: les transferts de droit familial d'Octave à Caracalla (183)
A. Savio, A. Cavagna, La monetazione egiziana di Augusto: ideologia imperiale e substrato egiziano (193)
A. Marcone, «Un dio presente»: osservazioni sulle premesse ellenistiche del culto imperiale romano (205)
L. Capponi, Impulsore Chresto: una risposta dai papiri (217)


1.   A longer version of the paper is forthcoming in B. Virgilio, Studi EllenisticiXXV, Pisa 2011.
2.   Cf. K.A. Kitchen, Pharaoh Triumphant. The Life and Times of Ramesses II, King of Egypt, Warminster 1982.
3.   On the rhetoric of decrees and letters, cf. J. Ma, Antiochos III and the cities of Western Asia Minor, Oxford 1999. On the lexicon of democracy in Hellenistic cities, cf. V. Grieb, Hellenistische Demokratie. Politische Organisation und Struktur in freien griechieschen Poleis nach Alexander dem Großen, Historia Einz. 199, Stuttgart 2008.
4.   For the social spread of ruler cults in Hellenistic times, L. Robert, Sur un décret d'Ilion et un papyrus concernant des cultes royaux, Op.Min.Sel. VII, 599-635; A. Chaniotis, La divinité mortelle d'Antiochos III à Téos, Kernos 20 (2007) 153-171.

(read complete article)