Thursday, May 31, 2012


Martin Huth, Peter G. van Alfen (edd.), Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms: Studies in the Monetization of Ancient Arabia. Numismatic studies, 25. New York: American Numismatic Society, 2010. Pp. vi, 602; 42 p. of plates, CD-ROM. ISBN 9780897223126. $250.00.

Martin Huth, Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms: Ancient Arabian Coins from the Collection of Martin Huth. Ancient coins in North American collections, 10. New York: American Numismatic Society, 2010. Pp. xxiii, 162. ISBN 9780897223188. $150.00.

Reviewed by Peter Edwell, Macquarie University (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents for the first volume is listed below.]

These volumes make a very important and long-awaited contribution to our understanding of the numismatics, economy, culture and history of pre-Islamic Arabia. The first volume is a collection of 17 contributions from a range of scholars which explore in considerable detail the emergence and development of coinage in the kingdoms of ancient Arabia, especially in south Arabia and the Persian Gulf, but also in north-western Arabia. The coinage of the Nabataeans receives some updated treatment but the already detailed analyses of Nabataean coinage by Meshorer and Schmitt-Korte did not require repetition here.1 The assembled contributions in the first volume are written by some of the most reputable scholars in ancient numismatics and ancient Arabia and the driving force behind the project, Martin Huth, makes a number of important contributions to it. The second volume is designed to accompany the first volume and is a catalogue of the Arabian coins from Martin Huth's own collection. It is designed not only to complement the first volume but also to act independently as a reference volume for students, scholars and collectors of ancient Arabian coins.

The first volume contains an Introduction and four parts:Part One – Arabian Coinage: Background and Common Aspects; Part Two – The Levantine Coast and Northern Arabia; Part Three – Western and Southern Arabia; Part Four – Eastern Arabia. Martin Huth's introductory chapter sets out clearly developments in research on ancient Arabian numismatics since the nineteenth century. The introduction also provides a brief overview of the coinage in the main regions of Arabia, usually identified as the western (Red Sea) coast, south Arabia, the Gulf Region and Nabataea. From the introduction it is clear that the origins of coinage and monetization in ancient Arabia will be an important focus throughout the volume. The phenomenon of Athenian owl tetradrachm imitations in silver marking the commencement of coinage in the fourth century BCE in the ancient south Arabian kingdoms of Saba, Qataban, Hadramawt and the Minaean Federation is highlighted in the introduction and it is a phenomenon addressed in many of the contributory chapters to the volume. Similarly, the emergence of silver coinage in the gulf kingdoms and principalities in imitation of the tetradrachms of Alexander and early Seleucid rulers is highlighted for its significance.

Chapter 2 by D.T. Potts provides an excellent overview of the political, social and economic structures of the regions of the Arabian peninsula namely south-eastern Arabia, north-eastern Arabia, south Arabia, north-western Arabia and central Arabia from the 7th century BCE – 7th century CE. This analysis provides a useful context for the analysis of the coinage in the following chapters.

Chapter 3, also by Potts, investigates the circulation of foreign coins in ancient Arabia and evidence for Arabian coins found outside of the peninsula and gulf. Overall, there are few examples in either case but this is a useful chapter for its overall purpose as a catalogue. It also provides further evidence for how geographically widespread the Athenian tetradrachm of the fifth century BCE was and how it came to function as an international currency.

Chapter 4 by Martin focusses on two hoards probably from al-Jawf which contain coins originating in the Persian Gulf, Asia Minor and the Levant. A small hoard of 20 coins found in 2001 complements a much larger hoard of 247 coins found in 2002. Of particular interest here are 21 examples which appear to have originated in the Persian Gulf as Alexander and successor imitations which have been folded and restamped as Athena owl imitations in the third/second century BCE. This phenomenon suggests there was a distinctive preference in south Arabia for the Athena owl-types and it may be indicative of a political and cultural distinction between south Arabia and the Gulf as well. The presence in these hoards of genuine Athenian tetradrachms and Egyptian/Levantine imitations of them also provides an insight into the circulation of foreign coinage alongside local coinage in south Arabia from the fourth/third centuries BCE to the likely time of deposition of the hoard ca. 100 BCE.

Chapter 5, also by Martin Huth, investigates in some detail the predominant iconography of Athenian tetradrachm owls on north-western and south Arabian coinage in contrast with the Alexander imitations in the coinage of the Persian Gulf. This is contrasted also with Hellenistic influences on royal portraits on the Nabataean coinage. Huth concludes that local religious and imperial imagery on the coins of ancient Arabia is mostly confined to symbols and letters naming these kings and gods rather than in portraiture.

The final chapter of Part One deals with the very few examples of locally minted gold coinage in ancient Arabia. While some large numbers of foreign gold coins have been found in hoards, mostly dating to the Byzantine period, silver appears to have been completely dominant and gold coin production was largely experimental and ad-hoc.

Part 2 comprises three chapters which focus on the Levantine Coast and Northern Arabia. In chapter 7, Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert undertakes a detailed and impressive analysis of the coinage created in the Philistian harbour ports ca. 450 BCE. While arguably not within the strict confines of Arabia, this is an important chapter because it investigates the impacts of the Philistian coinage on the caravan kingdoms further south with which the Philistians traded. The port cities of Gaza, Askalon and Ashdod are of most significance to this discussion and their coinage demonstrates both the dominance of Athenian and pseudo-Athenian coinage and the development of a new coinage of non-Athenian types. There are also those in between which Fischer-Bossert refers to as "bastard coins". A feature of Philistian coinage is the extraordinary range of mixed images on it while limited circulation and modest output suggests that the Philistian coins were only intended for domestic circulation. This chapter also provides a new analysis of the metrology of Philistian coinage and challenges the notion that there was a common standard of Philistian coinage. Two appendices also form part of the chapter – one is a catalogue of Athenian and non-Athenian styled Philistian coinage and the other is of hoards containing Philistian coins.

Chapters 8 and 9 both deal with Nabataean coinage. Chapter 8 by Oliver Hoover and Rachel Barkay analyses Nabataean coins discovered since Schmitt-Korte's 1990 publication on Nabataean coinage which was itself an update of Meshorer.1 Chapter 9 is another of Martin Huth's contributions and provides a revised analysis of Nabataean coinage which essentially sheds more light on the Nabataean Royal family and the history of Nabataean coinage.

Part III comprises five chapters on western and southern Arabia. Chapter 10 by Martin Huth covers in more detail than in some of the earlier chapters the extraordinary phenomenon of Athenian owl imitations from the early fourth century BCE onwards in Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt and as far even as Bactria. The northern Arabian coinage clearly contained these imports and began making its own imitations, especially from the third century BCE to the first century BCE while in the south there is especially early evidence (ca. 380 BC) of careful copying of Athenian tetradrachms. According to Huth, it is possible that the Sabaeans first minted coins in Arabia due to their crucial geographical significance to the incense trade making its way up the Arabian Peninsula towards the Mediterranean. Chapter 11 by Peter van Alfen is a detailed die study of the earliest Qatabanian and Sabaean coinages which concludes that while each kingdom influenced the other in numismatic terms, it is clear that the coins were minted separately by each authority. Van Alfen identifies an explosion in Athenian imitations from 350-320 BCE after which there were peaks and troughs in production. The chapter includes long and detailed appendices which act as full catalogues of the early coinage of both kingdoms. Chapter 12 by Peter Stein is an especially good contribution to the volume and undertakes as detailed analysis as the coinage and epigraphy allows of monetary terminology in ancient South Arabia. The chapter's predominant focus is on the Sabaeo-Minaean numismatic terminology from the fourth – second century BCE as this is where the surviving evidence is most plentiful. Stein concludes that there is different and changing numismatic terminology over time throughout the kingdoms of ancient South Arabia and cautions that there are considerable gaps in our knowledge of the systems in Qataban and Hadramawt.

Huth and Stein combine in chapter 13 to demonstrate that the legends on Sabaean coins of the Old and New Style were written in minuscule script rather than monumental script. This suggestion renders the enigmatic cursive legend of these coins as the name of a Sabaean ruler of the fourth or early third century BCE. The final chapter in this section is a translation by Martin Huth from the French text of Christian Robin. This chapter contextualises in historical and religious terms six Himyarite rulers who appear on coins and inscriptions and who ruled in the first and second centuries CE. An appendix to this chapter is a provisional publication of the Himyarite inscription Zubayri-al-awd I.

The fourth and final section of the first volume contains three chapters which focus on eastern Arabia. Olivier Callot's Chapter 15 builds on earlier work by Robin, Mørkholm, Arnold-Biucchi and Potts in an attempt to solve some ongoing questions of detail and precision regarding the chronology of the Alexander imitations of eastern Arabia. 2 The chapter reviews the coinage of north-eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula and proposes a chronology of the coins and changes in them from the third century BCE to the beginning of the third century CE.

The final two chapters of the first volume, chapters 16 and 17, deal with the Abiel coinage of eastern Arabia. The two chapters are designed to complement one another with chapter 17 by Peter van Alfen undertaking a detailed die study of these coins. The study of the Abiel coinage in these chapters is based heavily on a hoard of Alexander imitations containing the Abiel legend found at Qalat al-Bahrain in 1970. Chapter 16 by Michael MacDonald is an epigraphic study of the Aramaic legends on the Abiel coinage. It is an exceptionally detailed study of these legends and draws some challenging conclusions, the most important of which is that Abiel was a female name and represents a series of female rulers of Persian Gulf kingdoms some time after the third century BCE. This chapter also includes an appendix which is a full catalogue of all the known Abiel coinage. Both of these chapters make important and thorough contributions to scholarship on the coinage of eastern Arabia.

The second of the two volumes is a catalogue of 478 coins from ancient Arabia in the collection of Martin Huth. This is volume 10 in the series Ancient Coins in North American Collections. The coins of the various ancient Arabian kingdoms are presented under four geographical headings: The Levantine Coast and Gaza, North West Arabia, Eastern Arabia and South Arabia. There is no interpretative and analytical material in this volume due to the extensive analysis in the first volume. The plates are all in Black and White and are of good quality. The same can be said of the plates in the first volume.

The only real criticism to be made of these important volumes is that the interpretative and analytical material in volume one concentrates heavily on the period from the fourth to the second centuries BCE. This is partly defensible due to the nature of the current corpus of ancient Arabian coinage. The period in which the Caravan Kingdoms of Arabia, particularly in the south and west, were perhaps at their most active, however, was in the Roman imperial period. There were opportunities in the first volume to investigate some numismatic issues related to the notable increase in trade originating in the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf bound for the Roman world. An especially poignant example is the Sabaean coinage imitating Roman denarii illustrated in the second volume on page 101. There is no analysis of this admittedly small but clearly intriguing group. This criticism aside, there is no question that these volumes together represent a major contribution to scholarship on ancient Arabian numismatics and on numismatics generally. The long labour of both contributors and editors of these volumes is most fruitful and will stand for a considerable period of time.

Table of Contents

1. Martin Huth and Peter van Alfen, "Introduction"
2. D.T. Potts, "The Arabian Peninsula, 600 BCE to 600 CE"
3. D.T. Potts, "The Circulation of Foreign Coins within Arabia and of Arabian Coins outside the Peninsula in the Pre-Islamic Era"
4. Martin Huth, "Monetary Circulation in South West Arabia between the Fourth and Second Centuries BCE: The al-Jawf Hoards of 2001 and 2002"
5. Martin Huth, "Gods and Kings: On the Imagery of Arabian Coinage"
6. Martin Huth, "The Gold coins"
7. Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert, "Notes on the coinages of Philistian Cities"
8. Oliver Hoover and Rachel Barkay, "Important additions to the Corpus of Nabataean Coins since 1990"
9. Martin Huth, "Some Nabataean questions reconsidered"
10. Martin Huth, "Athenian imitations from Arabia"
11. Peter van Alfen, "Die studies of the earliest Qatabanian and Sabaean Coinages"
12. Peter Stein, "The monetary terminology of Ancient South Arabia in light of new epigraphic evidence"
13. Martin Huth and Peter Stein, "The so-called cursive legend reconsidered"
14. Christian Robin, "Himyarite kings on coinage"
15. Olivier Callot, "A new chronology for the Arabian Alexanders"
16. Michael MacDonald, "The 'Abiel' coins of Eastern Arabia: A study of the Aramaic legends"
17. Peter van Alfen, "A die study of the 'Abiel' coinage of Eastern Arabia"


1.   Y. Meshorer, Nabataean Coins (Jerusalem 1975); K. Schmitt-Korte, "Nabataean Coinage – Part II. New coin types and variants", Numismatic Chronicle 150 (1990): 105-131.
2.   C. Robin, "Monnaies provenant de l'Arabie du nord-est", Semitica 24 (1974): 83-127; O. Mørkholm, "Greek coins from Failaka", Kuml (1960): 199-207; O. Mørkholm, "A Hellenistic Coin Hoard from Bahrain", Kuml (1972): 183-202; O. Mørkholm, "New coin finds from Failaka", Kuml (1979): 219-236; C. Arnold-Biucchi, "Arabian Alexanders", in W. Metcalf (ed.) Mnemata: Papers in memory of Nancy M. Waggoner (New York 1991): 99-115; D.T. Potts, The pre-Islamic coinage of Eastern Arabia (Copenhagen 1991); D.T. Potts, Supplement to the pre-Islamic coinage of Eastern Arabia (Copenhagen 1994).

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Julia Hoffmann-Salz, Die wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen der römischen Eroberung: vergleichende Untersuchungen der Provinzen Hispania Tarraconensis, Africa Proconsularis und Syria. Historia Einzelschriften, 218. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2011. Pp. 561. ISBN 9783515098472. €84.00.

Reviewed by Kerstin Droß-Krüpe, Philipps-Universität Marburg – Seminar für Alte Geschichte (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Julia Hoffmann-Salz hat ihre 2007 in Bonn eingereichte Dissertationsschrift „Die wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen der römischen Eroberung – Vergleichende Untersuchungen der Provinzen Hispania Tarraconensis, Africa Proconsularis und Syria" nun in einer überarbeiten Version im Franz-Steiner-Verlag vorgelegt. In einem komparatistischen Ansatz strebt sie eine Untersuchung der ökonomischen Veränderungen und Kontinuitäten an, die mit dem Prozess der Provinzwerdung einer Region verbunden sein konnten.

Der Band ist klar gegliedert, seine Struktur folgt nach einer kurzen Einleitung (11-28) einer territorialen Gliederung nach den drei gewählten Provinzen, innerhalb derer jeweils drei regionale Fallbeispiele vorgestellt werden (29-440). Diese näher in den Blick genommenen Gebiete sind dabei so gewählt, dass jeweils eine Küstenregion, eine Region aus dem Hinterland sowie das Gebiet um die jeweilige Provinzhauptstadt besprochen werden. In einem zweiten Schritt erfolgt dann ein Vergleich dieser Regionen, um allgemeine Aussagen über die römische Wirtschaft als Ganzes und wirtschaftliche Integrationsmechanismen in den einzelnen Provinzen zu treffen (441-498).

In ihrer Einleitung betont Hoffmann-Salz die tiefgreifenden Veränderungen durch Eroberung und Provinzwerdung für die einheimische Bevölkerung: „Die Eroberung einer Region durch Rom hatte für die dort lebenden Bewohner gravierende Folgen." (11) – eine Aussage, die in ihrer Globalität zumindest kritisch zu hinterfragen wäre. Die Veränderungen, die das Zentrum ihrer Arbeit bilden, sind wirtschaftlicher Natur – sie fragt nach den ökonomischen Folgen der römischen Eroberungen für die Regionen des Reiches. Daher gibt sie zunächst einen Abriss zur Forschungsgeschichte der antiken Wirtschaftsgeschichte, beginnend mit der Bücher-Meyer-Kontroverse, um sich und ihre Arbeit zu positionieren (13). So befasst sie sich mit den prägenden Arbeiten von Eduard Meyer, Karl Bücher, Max Weber, Michail Rostovtzeff, Moses I. Finley, Karl Polanyi und William H. Pleket. Auf jüngere Forschungsentwicklungen wird an dieser Stelle der Arbeit allerdings nicht eingegangen, vielmehr wird hierfür auf den Schlussteil der Arbeit verwiesen (16).

In der Folge erläutert Hoffmann-Salz die zentralen Prämissen ihrer Studie sowie ihr Vorgehen. Sie versteht, in Anlehnung an Peregrine Horden und Nicholas Purcell, den Mittelmeerraum als engverflochtenes Netz von Mikroregionen, deren naturräumliche Bedingungen zur Ausbildung von bestimmten ökonomischen Aktivitäten führen (17). Veränderungen werden als Prozesse begriffen, die sich durch Wandel und Kontinuität gleichermaßen auszeichnen (18). Diese Muster von Kontinuität und Wandel sind es, die Hoffmann-Salz bei ihrer Untersuchung ökonomischer Auswirkungen der römischen Eroberung von einzelnen Regionen insbesondere interessieren. Dabei soll „bewusst nicht der römische, sondern der indigene Standpunkt eingenommen werden, sofern dies die Quellen erlauben" (21). Als Quellenmaterial kommt neben den literarischen Zeugnissen, die um epigraphisches und numismatisches Material ergänzt werden sollen, vor allem der Archäologie eine entscheidende Bedeutung zu (27). Dabei wird schnell klar, dass die Quellen in überwiegender Mehrheit römischen Ursprungs sind. Hinzu kommt, dass auch der archäologische Befund oftmals vor dem Hintergrund der literarischen – also römischen – Überlieferung gedeutet wird; die von Hoffmann-Salz angestrebte Betrachtung der ökonomischen Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten aus Sicht der indigenen Bevölkerung ist somit ein höchst schwieriges, wenn nicht nahezu unmögliches Unterfangen.

Beginnend mit der Provinz Hispania Tarraconensis folgt dann der Hauptteil der Studie (29-153). Nach einer kurzen Einleitung zu den ereignisgeschichtlich zentralen Elementen sowie einem groben Abriss der vorrömischen ökonomischen Strukturen folgen die Fallbeispiele. Es sei angemerkt, dass alle der insgesamt 12 vorgelegten regionalen Fallstudien nach exakt dem gleichen Schema aufgebaut sind, so dass die Orientierung für den Leser erfreulich einfach ist: Zunächst wird eine territoriale Abgrenzung der gewählten regio vorgenommen, um dann auf Siedlungs- und Bevölkerungsstruktur, naturräumliche Gegebenheiten, ökonomische Aktivitäten und Arbeitsorganisation einzugehen.

Die Einzeluntersuchungen aus der Hispania Tarraconensis zeigen, dass in den gewählten Regionen auf Grund unterschiedlicher naturräumlicher Gegebenheiten ungleiche ökonomische Voraussetzungen und letztlich daraus resultierend unterschiedliche ökonomische Schwerpunktbildung erfolgte – ein Bild, das sich auch in den anderen Provinzen bestätigt. Verdienstvoll ist die Zusammenstellung der Belege für verschiedene Anbauprodukte und ökonomische Tätigkeiten sowohl für die vorrömische als auch die römische Zeit in den einzelnen Regionen. Hoffmann-Salz liefert ihrem Leser hier tabellarische Übersichten, in die sie neben literarischen und epigraphischen auch archäobotanische und archäologische Funde einbezieht.1 Es zeigt sich eine beeindruckende Kenntnis auch entlegen publizierter Forschungsliteratur..

Nicht immer folgen möchte man der Autorin v.a. bei ihrer Deutung der Arbeitsorganisation in den einzelnen Regionen. So heißt es beispielsweise:

Auch wenn keine Quellen für die Organisation von Arbeit in der Cessatania in vorrömischer Zeit vorliegen, so kann doch anhand von grundsätzlichen Überlegungen zur Wirtschaftsorganisation im vorrömischen iberischen Raum davon ausgegangen werden, dass hier Arbeit innerhalb der Familie oder des Familienverbandes aufgeteilt und organisiert war. Mit der römischen Eroberung wurden jedoch auch andere Konzepte von Arbeitsorganisation in der Region eingeführt. (68)
Angesichts der fehlenden Quellen ist dies eine These, die einer ausführlicheren Erläuterung bedürfte. In der Folge wird auf die Bedeutung von Sklavenarbeit nach der römischen Eroberung hingewiesen, da sich nun Sklaven und Freigelassene inschriftlich fassen lassen. Von den angeführten 70 Belegen stammen allerdings nur acht aus republikanischer Zeit, so dass nur postuliert werden dürfte, die römische Eroberung habe zu einem Umbruch in der Arbeitsorganisation der Region geführt, wenn mit „Eroberung" nicht die Provinzwerdung, sondern die Provinzreform unter Augustus gemeint ist. Selbst dann bleibt die Aussage methodisch problematisch, da ja – wie erwähnt – Vergleichsmaterial über die vorrömischen Verhältnisse fehlt.

Im dritten Teil der Arbeit – „Vergleichende Untersuchung der Auswirkungen der römischen Eroberung auf die regionale Wirtschaftsstruktur in den Beispielprovinzen" (441-498) kommt Hoffmann-Salz auf die in der Einleitung aufgeworfenen Fragen nach Kontinuität und Wandel zurück. Zunächst betrachtet sie die Frage nach dem Zugang zu den elementaren Ressourcen. Sie kommt hier zu dem Schluss, dass in allen untersuchten Regionen und Provinzen Wasser „für die Benutzung aller Einwohner und nicht nur der Bürger frei zugänglich" war. Der Zugang zu einer der wichtigsten Ressourcen für die Landwirtschaft und andere ökonomische Sektoren war also stets gewährleistet (441- 445). Ähnliches lässt sich mit Blick auf die Ressource Boden konstatieren, Hoffmann-Salz betont hier zu Recht die relativ starken Kontinuitäten in den Besitzverhältnissen, wenn auch daneben immer wieder die Entstehung von Großgrundbesitz zu beobachten sei (445-449). Auch für den Zugang zu den notwendigen Rohstoffen kann sie keine Zugangsbeschränkungen ausmachen – lediglich die jeweiligen naturräumlichen Gegebenheiten determinierten die Rohstoffe einer Region. Die jeweils vorhandenen Rohstoffe konnten im Grundsatz von allen Bevölkerungsteilen genutzt werden. Dem staatlichen Zugriff vorbehalten waren lediglich die punischen Silberminen sowie die Marmorbrüche von Simitthus in der Africa Proconsularis (449-451). Bei der Gewichtung der Tätigkeiten kann sie konstatieren, dass die Landwirtschaft die „wichtigste ökonomische Aktivität der Regionen darstellte" (454). Dabei sind große Kontinuitäten in den Anbauprodukten und Anbautechniken zu beobachten, auch wenn sich eine zunehmende Spezialisierung auf eines oder wenige Produkte abzeichnet (456-459). Eine Spezialisierung beobachtet Hoffmann-Salz für die Kaiserzeit auch mit Blick auf die Handwerker und Dienstleister in allen drei Provinzen – eine Entwicklung die angesichts der umfangreichen Studie von Kai Ruffing zur Spezialisierung in Handel und Handwerk im griechischsprachigen Bereich des Imperium Romanum dieser Zeit nicht zu überraschen vermag. Schon Ruffing kommt zu dem Schluss, dass die Prosperität eines Marktes und damit letztlich die Möglichkeit dort Waren und Dienstleistungen zu Geld zu machen in engem Zusammenhang mit der beruflichen Ausdifferenzierung gestanden habe und weist auch auf die mit einer solchen Spezialisierung einhergehenden Produktivitätssteigerungen hin. Auch betont er die Bedeutung von Standortfaktoren wie naturräumlichen Gegebenheiten und infrastruktureller Anbindung. 2 Hoffmann-Salz kommt für die von ihr untersuchten Regionen zu ähnlichen Schlüssen (462-466). Für die Organisation der Arbeit postuliert sie eine Zunahme der Sklaverei in der Kaiserzeit, die teilweise auf vorrömischen Gegebenheiten fußte. Beobachtbar wird dies in allen Regionen, ist aber in der Africa Proconsularis am schwächsten ausgeprägt (472). Insgesamt dominieren für Hoffmann-Salz also eindeutig die Kontinuitäten gegenüber den Brüchen, wobei sie in der „kontinuierlichen Integration der indigenen Bevölkerung" ein Schlüsselelement sieht (475).

Abgerundet wird der Band durch einen Anhang bestehend aus Quellen- und Literaturverzeichnis, drei Karten sowie einem umfangreichen Sach-, Personen- und Ortsregister, der die gezielte Benutzung des Bandes für den Leser erleichtert.3

Insgesamt bleibt diese vielversprechende Studie, vor allem im dritten Teil, etwas hinter ihren Möglichkeiten und auch hinter den in der Einleitung abgesteckten Ansprüchen zurück. So nimmt die angestrebte Untersuchung von Kontinuität und Wandel einen vergleichsweise geringen Raum ein. Neben dem numismatischen Befund bleibt Hoffmann-Salz auch die angekündigten neueren Forschungstendenzen zur antiken Ökonomie schuldig (zu nennen wäre hier allen voran die Neue Institutionenökonomik sowie Ansätze zu Netzwerkanalysen oder zur Standorttheorie). Neben einigen formalen Schwächen4 ist das Fehlen von detaillierten Karten zu bedauern. Zwar sind im Anhang schematische Karten jeder Region beigegeben, doch sind hier nicht alle im Text genannten geographischen Namen eingetragen. Auch wäre die Eintragung der Ausdehnung der jeweiligen Regionen wünschenswert gewesen, da, wie im Text diskutiert, hier durchaus Schwierigkeiten/Uneinigkeiten bestehen können. Positiv hervorzuheben ist vor allem die intensive Einbeziehung der Archäologie und Archäozoologie. Das hier präsentierte Zusammenspiel unterschiedlicher Quellengattungen und Fachdisziplinen der Altertumswissenschaften zeigt wieder einmal deutlich das Potenzial interdisziplinärer Ansätze. Alles in allem wird der Band trotz kleinerer Monita eine wertvolle Basis für alle zukünftigen Beschäftigungen mit der Ökonomie der römischen Provinzen bieten.


1.   Allerdings hätte man sich eine übersichtlichere Umsetzung gewünscht, die einen schnelleren Überblick ermöglicht. Die Auflösung von Buchstabenkürzeln (AR = Archäologische Funde; EP = Epigraphische Funde; usw.), unterschiedlichen Schriftauszeichnungen und verschiedenen Klammersystemen muss durch die beigegebenen Legenden erst erschlossen werden, die Anmerkungen zu den einzelnen Tabellen hätten sich leicht auch in den übrigen Anmerkungsapparat eingliedern lassen.
2.   Kai Ruffing, Die berufliche Spezialisierung in Handel und Handwerk. Untersuchungen zu ihrer Entwicklung und zu ihren Bedingungen in der römischen Kaiserzeit im östlichen Mittelmeerraum auf der Grundlage griechischer Inschriften und Papyri, Rahden/Westf. 2007 (Pharos 24), insb. 385-390.
3.   Wobei nach der Sinnhaftigkeit von Einträgen wie „Handel" oder „Landwirtschaft" mit je über 200 Verweisen zu fragen wäre.
4.   So wird beispielsweise in Anm. 211 (S. 76) auf Alföldy (2003) verwiesen. Im Literaturverzeichnis finden sich für dieses Jahr zwei Aufsätze von Geza Alföldy, von denen außerdem nur einer mit Seitenzahlen versehen ist. In Anm. 103 wird zitiert: „Curchin (1987), S. 164, nach Alföldy." Weder der entsprechende Beitrag von Curchin noch der von Alföldy erscheinen aber im Literaturverzeichnis. Es handelt sich wohl um: Leonard A. Curchin, "Demography and romanization at Tarraco". AEA 60 (1987), N°155-156, 159-171 bzw. G. Alföldy, "L'onomastique de Tarragone", in: L'onomastique latine – Colloques internationaux du CNRS, Paris 13-15 octobre 1975, Paris 1977, 293- 295. Durch den ganzen Band ziehen sich kleinere Tippfehler (S. 29: „Bodenschätzen" statt Bodenschätze; S. 29 Anm. 2: „Vlg." statt Vgl.; S. 33: „Mittelmeerraumes" statt Mittelmeerraum; S. 93 Tab.-Anm. 4: „beginndene" statt beginnende; S. 494: „grows" statt growths et al.) und auch Akzentfehler im Griechischen kommen vor („Ἱλλικιτανς λιμἦν" statt Ἱλλικιτανός λιμήν [76]).

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


C.W. Willink, Collected Papers on Greek Tragedy (edited by W. Benjamin Henry). Leiden: Brill, 2010. Pp. xviii, 861. ISBN 9789004182813. $309.00.

Reviewed by David Butterfield, Queens' College, Cambridge (

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The significance of volumes of collected papers in the Classics covers a broad range: some are indifferent, some are indefensible, some are indispensable. This splendid gathering between two boards of the dense Kleine Schriften of Sir Charles Willink (1929-2009) is very firmly of the last category. The importance of Willink's researches for scholars of Greek tragedy and/or metre has been immense over recent decades; it is destined to be yet more so in the future once the dust has settled in several quarters, a process only catalysed by this judicious compilation of serious scholarship.

The circumstances surrounding Willink's Classical output in print are atypical, particularly for a scholar whose activity stretched into the present century. Although his educational path through Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, was and remains a well-trodden course for the Classic, his return thereafter to the schoolroom, first at Marlborough and then for over three decades back at Eton, necessarily eroded, if not obliterated, the time available for pursuing his own Classical research. Aside from a flurry of four articles in the late '60s and early '70s, his work did not start to inundate get into academic journals until the mid-'80s, when he was already in his mid-fifties. An early retirement, however, combined with preternatural levels of energy and ambition, allowed prodigious productivity from 1986 until his death, a most fecund period inaugurated by his substantial commentary on Euripides' Orestes (1986, rev. ed. 1989).

In surveying the contents of Willink's Collected Papers, it will be useful to give an idea of numbers. The volume brings together 58 items, of which 8 are (brief) reviews; 53 pieces were produced in the last quarter-century of Willink's life.1 All but the last three items have been published previously in the seven journals that won the author's approval: Philologus, Mnemosyne, Journal of Hellenic Studies, Classical Review, Classical Quarterly, Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica and Illinois Classical Studies. All but two articles ('Prodicus, 'Meteorosophists' and the 'Tantalus' Paradigm' [1983] and 'The Metre of Stesichorus PMG 15/192' [2002]) and three reviews (of West's Greek Metre [1982], Chadwick's Lexicographica Graeca [1986] and Concilio et al.'s La Tradizione Metrica della Tragedia Greca [2002]) concern the text, metre and exegesis of the three major Attic tragedians. Of this trio, Euripides easily dominates the content with 35.5 articles and 4 reviews, set against Sophocles' 7 articles and 1 review, and Aeschylus' 4.5 articles. However, despite the clear Euripidean focus of Willink's energies, his critical modus operandi is such that one can scarcely read any of these articles without being brought into a close and constant engagement with the Greek tragic corpus as a whole.

At the heart of Willink's interests, and one of his most significant contributions to scholarship, is lyric metre. Although his project of a book-length analysis of the text and metre of all lyric verse in Attic tragedy (Cantica Tragica) was abandoned some decades ago, the rich fruits of his work in this field are evident in abundance on almost every page of this collection. Indeed, all Sophoclean cantica and towards a third of Euripides' are explicitly and methodically scrutinised here; hundreds of other lyric passages enjoy similarly close discussion in other contexts. Although Willink inevitably engages throughout these papers with the contributions to metrics of Dale, West, Stinton, Parker and Itsumi, he very often elicits an improved understanding of a passage, whether by bolstering what scholarly consensus exists or independently challenging that orthodoxy through his own natural flair and remarkably sensitive ear. His treatment of such points of metre and colometry proceeds at the utmost technical level; thus, even if an emendation proposed on the basis of his precise analysis is not in itself entirely convincing, such contributions retain obvious value, rewarding readers through their lucid and illuminating detail. From the outset of these collected articles, Willink in both his terminology and his notation exhibits cutting-edge technicality: although little can be done about the former, a conspectus siglorum in the case of the latter could have been beneficial to the potential reader who has not yet been fully initiated into the arcana of Greek lyric metre.

Three Euripidean papers (items 56-8) appear here for the first time: two had been edited by Willink but the last remains in an incomplete state. 'Further on the Helen Reunion Duo' (56) provides a close analysis of the text of the difficult lyric exchange between the reunited Helen and Menelaus at verses 625-97, a task abetted (esp. ad 630-51) by the evidence of POxy 2336 (saec. i B.C.). Alongside further defence of numerous earlier contentions, Willink offers several new conjectures and fresh assignations of (parts of) lines to speakers: most attractive to the present reviewer is the slight tweak of the paradosis at 678 to ἔμολ' ἐς κρίσιν. 'Further Notes on Euripides' Medea' (57) likewise sees Willink reconsider his prior contributions to the text of this play, particularly in light of Mastronarde's commentary (2002). One of the most ingenious suggestions found here is his simple transposition of the difficult φυγῇ and αὐτή transmitted at the beginning of verses 12-13, an interchange that – though less common – posits a single, rather than double, corruption. The last paper of the collection, 'Critical Notes on the Cantica of Euripides' Alcestis' (58), despite lacking its author's ultima manus, provides an important contribution in the wake of Parker's commentary (2007): new conjectures are few in number but clear-headed analysis of some of the most difficult metrical anomalies in the Alcestis are treated with magisterial skill. It is a great and lasting regret that Willink did not live to complete similar treatments for other Euripidean plays, thereby providing invaluable fuel for future scholarly debate. Seven pages (803-8) of 'Addenda and corrigenda' offer in brief some second (or third) thoughts on the foregoing chapters. Amidst these there nestle nine new conjectures, of which the personified Ἠώς (retaining the non-lyric form) at Eur. IA. 158 is perhaps the most compelling.

The publication of this collection was not a simple matter. The harvesting and editing was undertaken by Willink himself, although his death left the project short of its final stages; in advance of this, Sir Edward Willink, Sir Charles' son, developed the OCR software to bring his father's writings to print. In 2009 Benjamin Henry duly took up the reins and completed the editorial task with diligent criticism and a keen eye. He deserves credit and gratitude not only for his meticulous correction of proofs but also for his painstaking revision of references, clarification of other scholars' views where appropriate, and his own occasional asides (of which 516 n. 15a provides a good example). These comments are wisely placed in double square brackets to set them aside from Willink's own minor retrospective alterations and cross-references (themselves in square brackets) without diverting the eye excessively. One further benefit, often disregarded in similar collections, is the inclusion of a signal (the double dagger) to mark the change of page in the original publication; what may seem needless pedantry of course makes possible, via the inclusion of initial page numbers in the running headline, the easy citation of the work from its first appearance without laborious consultation.2

Willink added his own detailed index locorum, whose thoroughness is demonstrated by its covering over fifty pages of small, two-column type; Henry took upon himself the Herculean task of updating this index once the pagination of the collection inevitably changed. A comprehensive additional index rerum and possibly also uerborum, criticorum and metricus would have been a significant additional boon, but the labour required would have been almost Sisyphean and, in Willink's absence, extremely difficult. By contrast, the rejection of a consolidated bibliography, with all references (except the most regular, which are covered by abbreviations) being given at the foot of each page, is a genuine blessing. The volume is attractive on the page (and a particularly graceful majuscule epsilon awaits the reader), of a thickness that makes its presence known on the shelf, and bound as a book should be: Willink's lament that through use "one's Diggle is likely to have disintegrated" (p. 263) can hardly redound in the foreseeable future upon his own monumentum.3

The book with which this formidable volume has most in common is John Jackson's Marginalia Scaenica (1955), a collection – for those who can get their hands on it – that amply bears witness to what a clear head, hard thought and curiosa felicitas (as much as felix curiositas) in emendation can bring the scholar. Jackson returned north to tend his family farm in Cumbria following his undergraduate degree at Oxford, and worked on the Classics by lamplight until his death. Willink himself found a second home for himself in Cumbria, interspersing his Classical research with a similarly pastoral pursuit, the careful cataloguing of that county's flora and fauna. One thus wonders whether a ramble among such less well-trodden lands could be salutary to Classical scholarship more broadly.


1.   Willink chose to provide only a summary of two of his three earliest articles ('Some Problems of Text and Interpretation in the Bacchae' of 1966 and 'A Problem in Aeschylus' Septem' of 1968). These single-page summaries can be taken as good evidence of the author's sensitivity to how much philological scholarship, his own included, can advance in a matter of decades.
2.   Since Willink's tweaks of his earlier publications are few and far between, citation of the original publication first remains the preferable course, although consultation of the re-edited version for corrigenda and addenda is a necessary step.
3.   The names of Diggle, particularly via his Oxford Text (1981-94) and Euripidea (1994), and Kovacs, particularly via his Loebs (1994-2002) and several Euripidea (1994-2003), are invoked much the most frequently by Willink (inter uiuos); that he was a regular correspondent of both of these Euripideans means that further new insights that arose per litt. enjoy their first outing in this revised collection.

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Franco Montanari, Lara Pagani (ed.), From Scholars to Scholia: Chapters in the History of Ancient Greek Scholarship. Trends in Classics – Supplementary Volumes 9. Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, 2011. Pp. xi, 205. ISBN 9783110251623. $112.00.

Reviewed by Antony Augoustakis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (

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As the editors observe in their Preface, there has been a growing interest in the field of ancient scholarship (ancient commentaries, scholia, textual criticism and exegesis, the study of the Greek and Latin philologists), especially in the course of the twentieth century, and in particular in the past two decades. This volume should be read closely with the preceding supplement 8 in the Trends in Classics series (Stephanos Matthaios, Franco Montanari and Antonios Rengakos (edd.). Ancient scholarship and grammar: archetypes, concepts and contexts. Trends in classics – supplementary volumes, 8. Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, 2011; cf. also BMCR 2012.03.30). The book comprises five essays, a bibliography, a general index, and a list of contributors. All five essays cover a wide range of topics, at times to form a cohesive whole, from the ekdosis of literary texts, to ancient linguistic theories, to the use of scholiastic corpora in the Roman world for propaganda purposes. But as is the case with edited volumes, the selection of essays with a very specific focus will often appear idiosyncratic in nature.

The first essay by Franco Montanari ("Correcting a Copy, Editing a Text. Alexandrian Ekdosis and Papyri", 1- 15) explores the process of producing an ekdosis in Alexandria. The author considers the text produced and published both as a library artefact and as an object of editing, that is, the text together with the annotations that accompany it. By looking at P.Oxy. 2404 and P.Laur. III/278 (Aeschines' Against Ctesiphon), Montanari privileges the ancient philologist's crucial role not only in emending texts where deemed necessary, without caring much for the support of the textual tradition, but also in correcting texts by comparing different copies and choosing from variants. The author emphasizes that the combination of these two practices results in the "mutual dependency of textual criticism and textual interpretation" (15).

The following article by Lara Pagani ("Pioneers of Grammar. Hellenistic Scholarship and the Study of Language", 17- 64) investigates the fascinating topic of linguistic theory in the ancient Greek world, that is, how Hellenistic philologists understand the term γραμματικὴ τέχνη, and what role they play with regard to the birth of technical grammar. Did the Alexandrians have a system of grammatical rules? Pagani offers a detailed overview of the scholarship on ancient grammar since the early nineteenth century (Classen and Lersch to Friedländer, Steinthal, Barwick, Di Benedetto, Erbse, Ax, and most recently Matthaios, among others). The author supports the idea that philology and grammar intersect, inasmuch as Hellenistic scholars are equally concerned with the exegesis of the text as with a structured grammatical system that contributes to textual criticism.

In the third essay of the volume ("The Greek origins of the Romans and the Roman Origins of Homer in the Homeric Scholia and in P.Oxy. 3710", 65-86), Paola Ascheri looks at the Homeric Scholia and P.Oxy. 3710, a commentary on Odyssey 20, dating to the second century CE, in order to examine the nature of the idea circulating from the third century BCE onwards, and especially during Augustan times, that the Romans have a Greek origin (from Arcadia), a view promoted, for instance, by Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Of course if the Romans trace their origins back to the Greek, the implication is that Latin also derives from Greek. The papyrus commentator discusses Od. 20.155-6 and points to the connection between the Greek ταλασιουργία and the Roman custom of spinning wool, assigned to female slaves. Thus the scholiast discerns a clear association between the two cultures and traces it back to Homer: such practice exists at the palace in Ithaca and continues in the Roman world throughout the centuries. The Romans are fashioned as proud descendants of the Greeks, while at the same time, Augustan propaganda underscores the Roman origins of Homer, in a unitary vision of the Greco-Roman world. Roman imperialism thus acquires greater significance and justification: the new conquerors of the world share very much in common with the conquered, such as common heritage, language, and culture.

The fourth article by Silvia Consonni ("Observations on Περὶ ἐπιρρημάτων by Apollonius Dyscolus", 87-104) discusses the definition of ἐπίρρημα ("adverb") by Apollonius Dyscolus, as the part of speech that precedes the verb. Clearly, however, Apollonius is aware of the linguistic structure and usage of adverbs as postpositive, a use which he deems incorrect. At the same time, Apollonius classifies the postpositive usage of adverbs as πάθος ("pathological variant"), not ἁμαρτία ("error") and thus approves it as an acceptable anomaly.

The final contribution by Fausto Montana ("The Making of Greek Scholiastic Corpora", 104-162), the longest in the volume, offers a detailed overview and new insights concerning the genesis of scholiography, which has traditionally been dated back to late antiquity. Montana claims that we should distinguish between marginal annotations, which do not necessarily constitute a "corpus of scholia" and the scholiastic corpora devoted to the Greek authors of profane literature from the ninth century CE onwards. Thus Montana defines a corpus of scholia as "an exegetic editio variorum, designed to be made up in an orderly way alongside or around the text commented upon" (107). Montana then distinguishes between multifaceted materials, such as hypomnemata, syngrammata, lexeis in the margins of the editions of texts, and the corpus of scholia, that is, "the long-term selection, conservation, and safeguarding of the exegetic heritage" (111). The author provides a detailed overview of the scholarship and the status quaestionis. Montana finally allows that the question of the origin of scholiastic corpora is an open one and depends on specific individual cases, and therefore any conclusions must remain cautionary.

There are a few typos, mostly self-explanatory (and some Greek breathings/accents misplaced or missing), but overall the volume is produced well. From my personal experience of having led a graduate student workshop on ancient scholia and scholarship last semester, I can testify to the usefulness of the essays in this volume. This is a book to be consulted by scholars and students alike.

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Roberto Mandile, Tra mirabilia e miracoli: paesaggio e natura nella poesia latina tardoantica. Il Filarete, 273. Milano: LED – Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto, 2011. Pp. 271. ISBN 9788879164924. €30.50 (pb).

Reviewed by Elena Cazzuffi, Università degli Studi di Padova (

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Table of contents

The latest findings in geography, ecology, philosophy and archaeology have recently promoted a new philological interest in ancient literary landscape; various works have appeared and Mandile's study fills a broad gap in the research into Latin Late Antiquity. The author has put together a wide range of texts about the conception of nature and landscape in late Latin poetry, including both lay and Christian compositions of the fourth and fifth centuries A.D.; he gives a detailed and scholarly reading of these texts.

The meaning of the term "landscape" has often been declared fluid, because it refers to different objects according to the scientific area the speaker is dealing with; therefore Mandile tries to avoid the difficulty with an opening declaration of intent: «ricorreremo alla categoria di paesaggio nel senso più ampio possibile, paghi di raccogliere sotto questa fluida etichetta ogni genere di accenno, più o meno sviluppato, più o meno coerente, più o meno esplicito, a luoghi, ambienti e porzioni di territorio» (p. 10). In view of the continuous attempts to exclude the Greek and the Roman world from the so-called sociétés paysagères,1 this statement does not seem superfluous: it can amply accommodate some typical features of late compositions (reliance on rhetoric and on classical literature, re-use of poetic iuncturae and verses, passion for encyclopaedism and for catalogues) and it allows the author to examine a large number of texts. In fact the late Latin compositions show a wide range of nuances in the concept of landscape, which includes many kinds of descriptions of nature, such as views, itineraries, catalogues and geographical digressions.2

The introduction presents the innovations of the literary landscape of Late Antiquity through the analysis of Tiberian. carm. 1 and of Repos. 33-51; the main changes are the painting style, care for details and for visual data, disposition of the elements as a catalogue, pursuit of amoenitas at any cost, and, ultimately, the tendency to make the scenery the only source of poetic inspiration.

In the first section "La poesia 'non cristiana'" a convincing introduction underlines the increasingly important role of the mirabile as a subject of the ekphraseis. The chapters of this section are devoted to the descriptions of water, forests, mountains, ports and cities in the works of Ausonius, Claudian and Rutilius Namatianus. Mandile opens each chapter with a brief summary of the value and the treatment of these topoi in classical poetry,3 and proceeds with an inspection of the texts in minute detail.

The first chapter provides a comprehensive list of the novelties that we find in Late Antique representations of landscape: syncretic conception of nature, inclusive of all the meanings that nature assumed in the previous literary tradition; superficial belief in its providence; view of the world as a museum requiring a cataloguing system; re-use of famous poetic elements and lines; outline of the scenery complying with rhetoric rules but dotted with real and realistic details; and, above all, a new poetic of Wonder which makes a wonder of virtually anything as long as the poet's descriptive powers excite the reader's admiration and amazement. In the following chapters a close analysis of the texts demonstrates that nature and the landscape have become no more than an opportunity to versify. Mandile masters a very ample bibliography and uses it skilfully in order to confirm the reliability of the categories listed in the first chapter.

Some comments on this section. The reader is presented with a study of Claudian's c.m. 28 (Nilus) that is almost a commentary on the carmen, all the more valuable as the poem has not been published with a commentary; but, perhaps, the final lines of the composition needed deeper analysis in that they catch, through the eyes of the sleepy shepherd, the surreal but realistic expanse of fields submerged by the floods of the Nile.

In the chapter dealing with woods it is noted that Claudian develops the ekphrasis on Venus' palace (c.m. 25,49-96) with a "tecnica affine allo zoom cinematografico", which moves from wide spaces to the goddess' throne (p. 57). The poet employs this technique in other carmina too, whereas in c.m. 25 the eyes move from the little locus amoenus where Venus is taking a nap to the near city (presumably Milan) and, then, to the lakes and rivers of northern Italy, listed as catalogue, from which fly the birds drawing her chariot (vv. 105ss.).4

In studying the ports Mandile draws the miniatures of 2 and 5 close to the landscape pictures of Gild. 520-4, to Rutilius' ports of De Red. 1,237-248 (Centum Cellae)5 and of De Red. 1,531-540 (Portus Pisanus): the succession of pictures displays a gradual movement from the purely rhetorical sketches (in fact the ports outlined in 2 and 5 could refer to any Mediterranean port) to descriptions that are more and more dotted with real elements; the common denominator of all the depictions and filter of all the representations is the poet's astonished point of view.6

In the second section of the volume a general introduction to Christian poetry provides some guidelines for the interpretation of landscape. At first Mandile considers the Christian position concerning the relationship between "mirabilia and miracula" and focuses on the choice of vocabulary, on the Augustinian theory of miracula, on the interpretatio naturae, and on the problem of faith. He then recognizes the birth of a new literary landscape, which is the outcome of the convergence between the Jewish and Classical traditions; basic sceneries characterize the first one, while the second one is skilful in creating descriptions of places that are rich in detail. Following these preliminary remarks the author identifies three routes as the most representative of a journey into the Christian landscape: Paradise, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the Miracles of Lake Tiberias. In this respect the survey of the relevant biblical references and their patristic exegesis is very useful in order to understand how Christians could re-use elements of the classical tradition and fulfil the three aims Charlet pointed out: defend the faith, praise God, rejoice in His gifts. It is remarkable that Christian poets should feature alongside non-Christian poets in same volume, given their entirely different understanding of the world, even if they all had classical educations and shared the same historical and cultural traditions. A point of convergence between pagans and Christians could be found in the description of the habitat of the Phoenix, which is a locus amoenus, but has many features that make it a sort of paradise: the author stresses this overlap, but does not look into the question in depth (p. 155).

As the landscape is the outcome of a human creation ('artialisation') which changes nature both by physical handling (e.g., the action of architecture or agriculture) and by artistic manipulation (for instance, through the window of literature and painting), it is reasonable to expect that writers in the Late Empire enjoyed a similarly physical relationship with nature, perceiving the landscape as the combination of natural and human elements. This view of the world is demonstrably true for the Silvae of Statius, whose artificial landscapes influenced Ausonius'and Claudian's depictions of nature. Mandile's analysis is limited to poetry and his aim is not to recognize the real objects listed in the descriptions, but—even if verisimilitude in representation is not the main goal of these poets— the essay might have also capitalized on the acquisitions of archaeology and history: non-Christian texts show various allusions to the contemporary landscape and society. These texts also stress the importance of human contribution in the shaping of territories (for instance, in c.m. 26 Claudian pays attention to the plumbing and even to some architectural structures which seem to imitate the opus naturae). The Christians' case is quite different: they focus their attention on the Bible and not on the physical world; but, much as the non-Christian poets, they are affected by the artistic treatment of nature.7

Despite differences and despite the large corpus of texts, Mandile skilfully masters a considerable number of authors, poems, themes and interpretations. He offers a clear and systematic view of poems and themes concerning nature and landscape in the fourth and fifth centuries and makes this variety converge into unity. Scholars cannot do without this volume, which will soon become a standard addition to bibliographies of both landscape and Late Antiquity.


1.   E. Malaspina addresses this crucial point in 'Quando il paesaggio non era ancora stato inventato. Descriptiones locorum e teorie del paesaggio da Roma a oggi', in G. Tesio and G.Pennaroli, Lo sguardo offeso. Il paesaggio in Italia: storia geografia arte letteratura. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, 24-25 settembre 2008, Vercelli, Demonte, Montà, Torino 2011, 45-85.
2.   These descriptive schemes have been recently studied, with specific reference to the works of Statius and Silius, by F.Morzadec, Les Images du Monde. Structure, écriture et esthetique du paysage de Stace et dans les œuvres Silius Italicus, Brussels 2009.
3.   The author had already worked on the landscape in Latin poetry from the first century B.C. to the first A.D. in 'Lo spazio del paesaggio. Concezioni e rappresentazioni della natura nella poesia latina (I sec. a.C – I sec. d.C.)', Acme 63, 2010 (3), 5-31.
4.   On carmen majus 9 one should now see F. Garambois-Vasquez's essay, 'Claudien et le mythe de Vénus: entre ornement poétique et propagande politique', in Claudien: Mythe, histoire et science. Journée d'étude du jeudi 6 novembre 2008, Université Jean Monnet de Saint-Étienne, Saint-Étienne 2011 pp. 45-61; while for c.m. 25 we look forward to the publication of E. Cazzuffi, 'Vedute, cataloghi, descrizioni geografiche e itinerari nei Carmina minora di Claudiano', dagli atti del convegno 'Regionis forma pulcherrima. Percezioni, lessico, categorie del paesaggio nella letteratura latina'. Università degli Studi di Padova, Palazzo Bo, 15- 16 marzo 2011 (publication details not yet available).
5.   The port-description of Centum Cellae is moulded by rhetorical and poetic reminiscences that can also be found in prose; see, e.g., the case of Plin. epist. 6,31,15ss. (on Pliny's landascape see the forthcoming R. Schievenin 'Spazio e paesaggio nell'epistolografia latina', in Regionis forma pulcherrima (see previous note).
6.   As a bibliographic update we note the recent release of the edition by S. Pozzato and A.Rodighiero of Claudio Rutilio Namaziano. Il Ritorno, with introduction by A. Fo, Torino 2011.
7.   See M. Jakob, Paesaggio e letteratura, Città di Castello (PG) 2005, 82.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Emanuela Zanda, Fighting Hydra-like Luxury: Sumptuary Regulation in the Roman Republic. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2011. Pp. xii, 172. ISBN 9780715637074. $80.00.

Reviewed by David Hollander, Iowa State University (

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[The Table of Contents is listed at end of the review.]

Hankering for a tasty dormouse? If you were a Roman living in 115 BCE, you'd be out of luck. The lex Aemilia, passed in that year, banned dormice along with shellfish and imported birds from Roman banquets (Pliny HN 8.82.223). It was just one of at least a dozen laws passed or proposed in the late Republic to stop newly wealthy Romans from indulging in expensive tastes and exotic dishes. Rome was not alone in struggling with conspicuous consumption; many other cultures have legislated against luxury. Emanuela Zanda's monograph makes an important contribution to the understudied topic of Roman sumptuary legislation by deploying the rich comparative evidence for the practice from England, Italy, and Japan. Her goal is "to understand the reasons and purposes behind the enactment" of such laws (x) and she argues that Rome's ruling class used them primarily to (try to) protect itself from destructive political competition rather than to fight luxury per se.

After a brief introduction in which Zanda discusses but declines to define the "explicitly relative" (1) concept of luxury, Chapter 1 turns to "The Roman Response to Luxury." Extravagance took many forms – games, buildings, clothing – but the Romans focused heavily on the regulation of banquets. In the second century BCE alone, the Romans introduced at least five new laws regulating dining. Zanda suggests that games and houses did not become major targets of sumptuary law in part because the Romans considered games "as acts of generosity offered to the totality of the Roman citizenry" (15) and viewed elite houses as "public space" (18). Chapter 2 looks at earlier and alternate attempts to rein in luxury, beginning with the provisions of the Twelve Tables regulating funerals as well as Greek funerary laws. Zanda then considers the activities of Roman censors who at times also fought against luxury. Cato the Elder provides the most well-known example of this phenomenon: as censor in 184 BCE he assessed expensive clothes, vehicles, articles and slaves at ten times their market value for tax purposes (Livy 39.44). Zanda suggests that the "erratic, discontinuous" and idiosyncratic nature of censorial actions against luxury led the Roman elite to pass sumptuary laws as additional measures (47).

In Chapter 3 Zanda turns to the Roman sumptuary laws themselves, beginning with the lex Metilia of 217 BCE and the lex Oppia of 215 BCE. She regards these as "war measures" rather than true sumptuary laws but suggests they were "a sort of precedent to the enactment of sumptuary laws in a strict sense" (51). Zanda concludes this chapter with a discussion of the lex Iulia of 18 BCE and the lex Papia Poppaea of 9 CE which likewise were not "strictly speaking sumptuary laws" but bore some similarity to these, since they also interfered with "the disposal of personal wealth" (69). In between, she sketches out the genuine sumptuary enactments of the late Republic, many of which, like the aforementioned lex Aemilia, sought to regulate banquets. Together with the book's appendix, a catalogue of sumptuary laws and the evidence for them, this chapter should prove tremendously useful to those working on related topics. Finally, in Chapter 4, Zanda looks at the comparative evidence from late medieval and early modern England, seventeenth- through nineteenth-century Japan, and late medieval Italy. English sumptuary laws tended to focus on clothing rather than banquets and often had a more explicitly protectionist quality, but Zanda argues that, like the Roman laws, they primarily sought to protect "the political and social order" from luxury (83). The Japanese produced a great number of sumptuary laws during the Tokugawa period and these laws could be extraordinarily thorough. Regulations governed the production and consumption of food, gift-giving, the design and furnishings of houses, and even whether or not one could carry an umbrella (86). Nevertheless, Zanda finds the basic motivation to be the same: the "social preservation of the ruling class" (90). In Italy there was also a broad range of "targets" for sumptuary laws including funerals, weddings, and other celebrations, but women's clothing and dowries tended to dominate (92-3). Protectionism motivated some laws but Zanda argues that the Italians focused on women's clothing in order to allow husbands to "re-establish their power inside the family and… prevent women from wasting their personal patrimonies that often constituted the base of the family's wealth" (98). There follows a brief discussion of Roman dowries, which, Zanda argues, were not as "extravagant" as later Italian ones and so did not represent "a threat to the patrimony of the ruling class" (104) nor prompt a similar raft of legislation. Chapter 4 ends with a summary of the features common to all the sumptuary regimes discussed: rhetoric highlighting the threat posed to the state by luxury, a secondary but significant interest in "defending the local economy," a desire to "defend the patrimonies of the ruling class," and an attempt to maintain or impose a social structure (106). Here, and in her short concluding section, Zanda argues that sumptuary legislation "was about limiting and controlling the display of luxury rather than the actual luxury and wealth itself" (107) in order to limit competition (110).

Zanda's admirable concision, sensible analysis of complex problems, and fresh comparative perspective make Fighting Hydra-Like Luxury well worth reading, but the book is not without its flaws. There are a few typos (e.g., on pages 35, 45, 57, 60, 75, 96, and 147, n. 80), some inconsistent italicization (e.g., on pages 41-2), instances of unnecessary repetition (e.g., on page 38), and M. Aemilius Porcina was consul in 137, not 183 BCE (44- 5). The decision no doubt on the part of the press to use endnotes rather than footnotes is also lamentable. It is understandable but disappointing that Zanda repeatedly declines to explore intriguing sidelights, declaring them to be "beyond the scope of this book" (e.g., pages 37-8, 42, 58, 77, 98). I would have welcomed further discussion (or at least a sizable endnote) on many of these topics. Further engagement with the economic history of the late Republic would also have strengthened the work even if, as Zanda argues, the ultimate causes of sumptuary legislation were primarily social and political rather than the high price of dormice.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments [vii]
Preface [ix]
Introduction: The Evil of Luxury [1]
1. The Roman Response to Luxury [7]
2. Previous Measures Against Extravagance [27]
3. Sumptuary Laws [49]
4. Sumptuary Legislation in Comparative Perspective [73]
Conclusion [109]
Appendix: Catalogue of Sumptuary Laws [113]
Notes [129]
Bibliography [157]
Index [167]
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Frank Scheppers, The Colon Hypothesis: Word Order, Discourse Segmentation and Discourse Coherence in Ancient Greek. Brussels: VUBPRESS, 2011. Pp. xvii, 484. ISBN 9789054879442. €35.00 (pb).

Reviewed by D.M. Goldstein, Thesaurus linguae Latinae (

Version at BMCR home site


It would be difficult to overstate the role that intonation plays in how we interpret utterances.1 Take a question like "What?" Depending on its prosodic contour, its function will vary considerably, from asking the speaker to repeat what he has just said, to signaling surprise, confusion, disbelief, or annoyance (among other possibilities). Elsewhere the effect of prosodic phrasing can be more subtle:

(1) This course aims at providing a reading knowledge of Classical Greek,

Examples like this raise at least two questions. One, what does the pause before "quickly" contribute to the meaning of the utterance? Second, what if (as in the case of classical texts) we did not have the luxury of commas: would there be any way to detect this pause?

In a series of articles spanning roughly thirty years,3 Eduard Fraenkel attempted to answer questions like these for Greek and Latin on the basis of indirect evidence of prosodic phrasing, such as second-position clitics. These were typically said to occur second in a syntactic domain, namely the clause;4 so the dative pronominal clitic οἱ in the following example (translations are mine unless otherwise noted):

(2) κρητῆρές οἱ ἀριθμὸν ἓξ χρύσεοι ἀνακέαται.
'Six golden craters have been dedicated by him.' Hdt. 1.14.6

Fraenkel, however, argued that such clitics occur second in a prosodic domain, which he called a Kolon5 (and which corresponds more or less to e.g. intonational phrase or intonational unit of other frameworks). So with (2), the sentence would be recast prosodically as a Kolon (the boundaries of which are marked by parentheses), with οἱ now second in that domain:

(2.1) (κρητῆρές οἱ ἀριθμὸν ἓξ χρύσεοι ἀνακέαται.)

One advantage of Fraenkel's analysis is that it allows us to make sense of counterexamples in which a pronominal clitic does not occur second in its clause:

(3) τοῦτο δὲ ποιήσας ἀπέπλεε. ἀπικόμενος δὲ ἐς τὰ οἰκία συμφορῆι ἐχρᾶτο.
(πέμπτηι δὲ ἢ ἕκτηι ἡμέρηι ἀπὸ τούτων) (τάδε οἱ συνήνεικε γενέσθαι).
'Once he [= Polycrates] did this [= cast his seal-ring into the sea] he sailed
back. When he got home, he lamented the loss. On the fifth or sixth day
from these (events), the following things by chance happened to him.' Hdt. 3.42.2

While οἱ is not the second word in its clause, it is second in a Kolon. The position of the clitic thus gives us a rough indication of the prosodic profile of the sentence.

Fraenkel's Kolon-theory has found favor, but it prompts an abundance of questions: what phonetic properties characterize Kola? Are there other indirect indicators of prosodic structure? And are they all equally reliable? Assuming they can be trusted, how do we describe the effect(s) that prosodic structure has on meaning? These are just some of the questions that Scheppers wrestles with in this rich, ambitious—and at times radical—work, which investigates not only Kola but also word order and discourse structure in Lysias and four Platonic dialogues (Cratylus, Sophista, Theaetetus, and Politicus). A central claim of Scheppers' work is that the Kolon is the domain in which Greek word-order rules generally apply (pp. 38, 433).6 This stands in stark contrast to most other attempts, which try instead to explain Greek word order by setting up generalizations for the sentence as a whole (i.e. "put the most important element of a sentence at the beginning"; and not "initiate each Kolon with the most important element"). This is the most thorough treatment of Greek Kola available, and offers a comprehensive inventory of words for segmentation criteria. The book is packed with interesting insights and observations (note e.g. pp. 91-97 on clitic chains; pp. 328-329 on vocatives and discourse structure; pp. 385-400 on Topic development in Platonic dialogue). Despite this bounty—to which this review will not do justice—it suffers from faults that limit its utility.

Scheppers divides his treatment into three Parts, which are each preceded by a Preface and General Introduction. Part I (Word order rules) focuses in particular on words that tend to occur in initial, second, and final position. Scheppers offers a wealth of valuable data here, including quantitative. Part II (Discourse segmentation) presents a dossier of criteria for segmenting Greek sentences into Kola, followed by a handful of case studies. Part III (Discourse coherence) moves beyond the sentence to introduce a model for how Kola cohere in larger discourse units, which is then illustrated with a series of Leseproben (and thus finds similarities with the work of Bakker, Slings, and Wakker). Even this brief overview should reveal the truly remarkable breadth of this study: it engages fine-grained word-order patterns within the context of larger discourse structures. This is a feat that studies of this kind rarely, if ever, achieve.

The most conspicuous faults of the work are presentational and structural. The book is long and complex, and now and again I struggled to understand its claims. Take for instance the treatment of focus: the reader has to piece together Scheppers' view from e.g. pp. 37-38; 46-48; 214-217; 286-289; 419-422; 435 and 439. (At p. 419 he defends this kind of presentation as unavoidable given the complexity of the topic.) There is, to be sure, a helpful index in which the relevant sections are listed; but the reader still has to cobble together the analysis for himself. Another consequence of this presentation is repetition: we are for instance given a definition of Topic several times (e.g. pp. 12, 207, 210, 301-303, 439) in the course of the book. Lastly, the publisher should have taken greater care in editing the English.

As far as the content is concerned, I will mention here only three broad reservations. The first concerns syntax, which plays no significant role in the analysis (e.g. p. 174), since word order is conditioned primarily by prosody and pragmatics. Leaving aside the theoretical issues that this raises, the absence of syntax creates problems at a practical level. Take for instance the discussion of fronting (primarily pp. 200-209), which Scheppers defines (p. 200) as "any phenomenon in which a constituent occurs to the left of the segment which constitutes the—somehow—'central' part of a clause, sentence or similar construction." A typical example of this pattern would be example (3) from above, which I repeat:

(4) τοῦτο δὲ ποιήσας ἀπέπλεε. ἀπικόμενος δὲ ἐς τὰ οἰκία συμφορῆι ἐχρᾶτο.
(πέμπτηι δὲ ἢ ἕκτηι ἡμέρηι ἀπὸ τούτων) (τάδε οἱ συνήνεικε γενέσθαι).
'Once he [= Polycrates] did this [= cast his seal-ring into the sea] he sailed
back. When he got home, he lamented the loss. On the fifth or sixth day
from these (events), the following things by chance happened to him.' Hdt. 3.42.2

The phrase πέμπτηι δὲ ἢ ἕκτηι ἡμέρηι ἀπὸ τούτων occurs to the left of the nuclear clause. As for the meaning of fronted elements, Scheppers (p. 201) claims that these typically function according to what he labels the Thematization Principle: essentially they serve to frame the information that follows. So in (4) the fronted phrase sets up the temporal context of the nuclear clause.

Scheppers includes in his treatment a class of fronted verbs:

(5) χρὴ τοίνυν, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, τοῖς πρότερον γεγενημένοις παραδείγμασι
χρωμένους βουλεύεσθαι περὶ τῶν μελλόντων ἔσεσθαι, καὶ τούτους ἡγεῖσθαι
'You ought therefore, gentlemen, to take the events of the past as your example in
resolving on the future course of things, and to account those men the best
democrats...' Lys. 25.237

Scheppers interprets χρὴ τοίνυν as a fronted Kolon—and thus parallel to the fronted constituent in (4)—on the assumption that the vocative ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί itself forms a Kolon. The syntactic status of χρὴ τοίνυν is not, however, the same as that of πέμπτηι δὲ ἢ ἕκτηι ἡμέρηι ἀπὸ τούτων in (4). The location of the clitic οἱ in (4) tells us that the fronted phrase lies to the left of the clause proper. In (5), however, there is no equivalent syntactic indicator: the vocative only tells us that χρὴ τοίνυν forms a Kolon. We know from evidence elsewhere that χρή in fact stands at the beginning of its clause, not outside of it, as it were. Pragmatically, χρὴ τοίνυν also differs from the fronted phrase in (4) in that it does not frame the upcoming clause. The clause-initial position of verbs like χρή result from their thetic (or presentational) function: they introduce a new state of affairs or entity into the discourse (a category that is in fact recognized on e.g. pp. 128-129 and 240).8 In sum, we have two very different constructions grouped together in the same category. To be sure, Scheppers himself is aware of the need for syntax when it comes to fronting (as acknowledged on p. 200 fn. 173), but perhaps examples like (5) reflect a more pervasive need for syntax in a model of Greek word order.

My second reservation concerns prosody. Scheppers envisions a much more profound role for Kola than Fraenkel ever seems to have. It is not simply a resource that speakers make use of when packaging sentences: its roots lie much deeper in cognition, as discourse essentially comes in Kolon-sized units (p. 433). While Scheppers succeeds in showing that there are insights to be gained from reading Greek in Kola, his ultimate claim seems to lie beyond anything that textual data alone could substantiate, involving as it does a barrage of issues linguistic, psycholinguistic, and cognitive. I also wonder about the role of prosodic constituents other than the Kolon: its importance is undeniable, but is it really the end-all-be-all of Greek discourse (if not cognition)? Are there no word-order patterns that make reference to larger (i.e., the utterance9) or smaller (i.e., the phonological phrase10) prosodic units (possibilities that are raised on e.g. p. 25, but not explored)?

Third, the theoretical framework of the book is fairly idiosyncratic, in as much as it results from a conglomeration of concepts developed within both the linguistics and philological literature (the work of Kenneth Dover is prominent, which I found odd, given how dated his work is now). While theoretical preliminaries and assumptions are sketched, Scheppers does not work with a devoted prosodic (e.g. the Prosodic Hierarchy of Nespor and Vogel), pragmatic (e.g. Functional Grammar), or discourse-analytic framework. The upshot is that the generalizations that Scheppers offers are not always formulated with sufficient rigor or detail (cf. above the definition of fronting). Moreover, the book casts such a wide net that bibliographic coverage is inevitably spotty at times.


1.   For a general introduction, see A. Cruttendon, Intonation (Cambridge 1997). For Latin and Greek specifically, see W.S. Allen Accent and Rhythm. Prosodic Features of Greek and Latin: a Study in Theory and Reconstruction (Cambridge 1973); A. Devine and L.M. Stephens The Prosody of Greek Speech (Oxford 1994).
2.   Joshua T. Katz, Ancient Greek: An Intensive Introduction,; accessed 25 May 2012.
3.   For a summary review of Fraenkel's work on this topic, see Laughton's review article in The Journal of Roman Studies 60 (1970): 188-194.
4.   By e.g. J. Wackernagel, "Über ein Gesetz der indo-germanischen Wortstellung," Indogermanische Forschungen 1 (1892): 333-436.
5.   I preserve the German term Kolon in this review; Scheppers himself prefers colon.
6.   Cf. the following article, which presumably appeared too late for Scheppers to consider: B. Agbayani and C. Golston, "Phonological movement in Classical Greek,"Language 86 (2010): 133-167.
7.   Translation by W.R.M. Lamb, Lysias (Cambridge, MA/London 1930).
8.   See recently N.A. Bailey, Thetic Constructions in Koine Greek (Ph.D. Dissertation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 2009).
9.   On which see A.M. Devine and L. Stephens, The Prosody of Greek Speech (Oxford 1994): 409-455.
10.   On which see A.M. Devine and L. Stephens, "The Greek Phonological Phrase," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 31 (1990): 421-446; id., The Prosody of Greek Speech (Oxford 1994): 376-408.

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, Luigi Lehnus, Susan Stephens (ed.), Brill's Companion to Callimachus. Brill's companions in classical studies. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2011. Pp. xviii, 708. ISBN 9789004156739. $261.00.

Reviewed by James J. Clauss, University of Washington (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed at the end of the review.]

Non possum reticere. Thus began Catullus' poem of uninhibited praise and gratitude for a most appreciated benefaction (68b). Though un-Callimachean, I will aspire to such enthusiasm (sans verbosity given the imposed word limit) in lauding the recent collection of essays invited, organized, and edited by Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, Luigi Lehnus and Susan Stephens. Despite the fact that that the number of my decades is not few, I shall nonetheless take the time to stray from the common path and mix personal and scholarly, as the Battiad himself might approve.

In the fall of 1976 when I entered the graduate program at the University of California at Berkeley, Callimachus for most was little more than a passing esoteric reference in commentaries, especially on late Republican and Augustan poets. As luck would have it, Anthony Bulloch showed up at the same time and inaugurated his professorial career at Berkeley with an exciting graduate seminar on this learned footnote, a class even attended by other Berkeley professors to the fear and trembling of the students. Our textbooks included the two Loebs of Callimachus1 and Rudolph Pfeiffer's History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic age.2 Pfeiffer's two-volume commentary on Callimachus was available for consultation,3 but this intense and epoch-making work, as well as Bulloch's fascinating report on a critical forthcoming publication regarding the Victoria Berenices, were difficult to comprehend for those of us puzzling over these lacunose and rarefied texts for the first time.4 There were few publications, and reader-friendly ones at that, in the 1970s to help struggling graduate students, let alone august professors, gain even a basic understanding of the rich and complex Callimachean terrain that was waiting to be discovered by the masses, or at least by the four score or so scholars who would come to brave the fragmentary and then marginal.

All of this began to change in the 1980s as scholarly energy and attention on both sides of the Atlantic came to view the Hellenistic era as a period worth studying on its own and not as a link between Classical Greece and the literary coming of Rome. Universities now regularly host international conferences, and professional organizations include panels, dedicated to the Hellenistic world in general and individual authors, including Callimachus, Apollonius, Theocritus, and even Lycophron (mirabile dictu). As a measure of the volume of work being done on the Hellenistic world, its literature and its influence on later peoples, Martine Cuypers, who manages an impressive on-line bibliography, notes that she added around 400 new items between July 2010 and January 2011. What is more, graduate students writing on Hellenistic topics no longer have to despair (fully, at any rate) at being ignored on the job market, something that I encountered with a dissertation on Apollonius; I was fortunate to have acquired my current position in 1984 as a Roman historian.

Within the context of an ever growing interest in things Hellenistic, Brill's Companion to Callimachus reflects not merely an increasingly growing trend, but constitutes a watershed moment in Callimachean studies that provides a splendid history of work on the author to date, examination of the central and many of the ancillary issues that his texts raise, a look at his influence on later Greek and Roman authors, a convenient (though costly) place for students and scholars interested in learning about all of this, and as such a central staging area for future work. The editors divided up the collection of essays into five parts. Because each of the articles begins with a summary of their content—a very nice touch, I should add—I will mostly forgo a critique of content, impossible for a review of this size, and focus on an overview of the papers, their organization, and an impression of the collection as a whole.

"The Material Author," which follows a helpful introduction by Susan Stephens, includes seven papers that look primarily at the history of the recovery of the fragmentary texts through papyri, commentaries, summaries and citations (Lehnus, Massimilla, Harder, Falivene, Pontani), with one paper focused on Callimachus' scholarly works (Krevans) and another on the poet's various linguistic registers (Parsons); each of the last two situates the poet comfortably within his time on the basis of scholarship and language. As I read each paper in this section, I marveled at the lucidity of presentation and wished over and over that such a resource were available years ago when I struggled to make sense of Loebs that were already dated only eight years after their publication and an ageless commentary teeming with references to authors I had not yet encountered.

The papers in "Social Contexts" examine Callimachus' relationship with Ptolemaic geopolitics (Asper), kings and kingship (Barbantani), Alexandrian queens (Prioux), the Ptolemaic court in general (Weber), the manifestation of the divine in cult, statues and epiphanies (Hunter), and contemporary religious practices as compared with sacred regulations (Petrovic). All of the papers build on work of the past decades in which Callimachean poetry has been shown to engage and comment on the pan-Hellenic and bi-cultural worlds of Alexandria and the rulers who tried to negotiate the many and complex relations.

As we move into the next three parts, the diversity of the poet's work becomes more manifest in the heterogeneity of the papers and their (at first) seemingly less cohesive juxtaposition, which accounts for why my summaries are longer. In fact, the papers accurately reflect the wide-ranging interests and publications of one of the worlds greatest docti poetae and hang together with considerable charm.

In "Sources and Models," the papers focus on the different ways in which Callimachus echoes earlier works and trends in literature and scholarship. For instance, the New Music of the late fifth century anticipated many Callimachean gestures, including semantic instability, genre crossing, and polyeideia (Prauscello). Callimachus further engaged a variety of conversations involving contemporary literary theory (Romano) and his relationship with the Muses reflects the then current association of the Muses with the various areas of learning epitomized by the Museion (Morrison). The writings of the Atthidographers features in the long list of local chronicles that Callimachus consulted (Benedetto). Regarding popular literature, the presence of fables in Archaic lyric, Hellenistic philosophy, and Near Eastern traditions made them an appropriate subject for the poet's interdisciplinary and bicultural literature (Scodel); the inclusion of proverbial and popular expressions also reveal a more personal side to Callimachus that contrasts with the esoteric author revealed in much of his writing (Lelli), a contrast that lies at the heart of the first essay of the next section.

"Personae" begins with Callimachus' representation of himself as a child which underscores the sense of curiosity, wonder and imagination that fuels an inexhaustible desire for sophisticated and learned knowledge across disciplines (Cozzoli). In fact, a multiplicity of voices can be observed throughout Callimachus' poetry, such as that of literary critic, organizer of a cult, editor, encomiast, a god, or earlier poets, such as Hesiod, the tragic poets, and Hipponax (Fantuzzi and Cusset). Other "personae" include a wide variety of characters: mythical and heroic, common and aristocratic, ancient and modern, Olympic victors and a Roman stereotype, an apt menagerie for a multicultural metropolis (Durbec). The section concludes by revisiting the issue of Callimachus as child, but from a Lacanian and not Freudian-Bloomian model: the poet's conflict with his critics is said to represent instead a disappointed and ambitious mother's insistence that he create an adult-sized poem (Payne).

"Callimachus' Afterlife" completes the collection. The lack of a paper on Callimachus in Rome would be impossible to imagine and Barchiesi (not surprisingly) delivers: to wit, Callimachus represented a highly visible target not to be reproduced but absorbed and transformed by central Roman authors. De Stefani and Magnelli offer a detailed account of the "evolution of Callimacheanism," focusing on how writers responded to the poet from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine eras and noting the various trends in his reception, from close imitation to oppositio in imitando. Speaking of which, the penultimate paper in the collection provides a lively history of scholarly grappling with allusion and intertextuality from Pasquali to Giangrande, Conte and beyond (Citroni). Acosta-Hughes brings the collection to a satisfying conclusion with an epilogue in which he defines Callimachus as the first modern poet because of his self-consciousness and awareness of earlier verse, comparing him with Cavafy and looking at his poem "In the Month of Athyr" in particular. The parallels between the latter and the The Tomb of Simonides (fr. 64 Pf. = 163 M.) are remarkable and convincing. While some might take issue with the identity of the first modern writer, the paper raises an important question and one that is most appropriate as we reflect on the sum of the parts of this successful book: to what extent does Callimachus' literary contribution instantiate something revolutionary or classical, modern or ancient in outlook? Food for further thought.

Reading, let alone reviewing, a "companion" of 708 pages might seem daunting, especially when the topic is as demanding as Callimachus. But Acosta-Hughes, Lehnus, and Stephens have managed to assemble a collection of essays that not only advances Callimachean studies significantly, but, even more amazingly, is a delight to read from start to finish. I will be returning to all of these papers in the years ahead because one read does not suffice, given the detail, and because sometimes a μέγα βιβλίον can actually be a μέγα καλόν.

Table of Contents

Susan Stephens, "Introduction"
The Material Author
1. Luigi Lehnus, "Callimachus rediscovered in papyri"
2. Giulio Massimilla, "The Aetia through papyri"
3. Annette Harder, "Callimachus as fragment"
4. Maria Rosaria Falivene, "The Diegeseis papyrus : archaeological context, format, and contents"
5. Filippomaria Pontani, "Callimachus cited"
6. Nita Krevans, "Callimachus' philology"
7. Peter Parsons, "Callimachus and his koinai"
Social Contexts
8. Markus Asper, "Dimensions of power : Callimachean geopoetics and the Ptolemaic Empire"
9. Silvia Barbantani, "Callimachus on kings and kingship"
10. Évelyne Prioux, "Callimachus' queens"
11. Gregor Weber, "Poet and court"
12. Richard Hunter, "The gods of Callimachus"
13. Ivana Petrovic, "Callimachus and contemporary religion: the Hymn to Apollo
Sources and Models
14. Lucia Prauscello, "Digging up the musical past: Callimachus and the new music
15. Allen J. Romano, "Callimachus and contemporary criticism"
16. Andrew Morrison, "Callimachus' muses"
17. Giovanni Benedetto, Callimachus and atthidographers
18. Ruth Scodel, Callimachus and fable
19. Emanuele Lelli, Proverbs and popular sayings in Callimachus
20. Adele-Teresa Cozzoli, "The poet as a child"
21. Marco Fantuzzi, "Speaking with authority: polyphony in Callimachus' Hymns"
22. Christophe Cusset, "Other poetic voices in Callimachus"
23. Yannick Durbec, "Individual figures in Callimachus"
24. Mark Payne, "Iambic theatre: the childhood of Callimachus revisited"
Callimachus' Afterlife
25. Alessandro Barchiesi, "Roman Callimachus"
26. Claudio De Stefani and Enrico Magnelli, "Callimachus and later Greek poetry"
27. Mario Citroni, "Arte allusiva: Pasquali and onward"
28. Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, "Epilogue"


1.   C. A. Trypanis (ed.), Callimachus: Aetia, Iambi, Hecale and Other Fragments, Cambridge, Mass., 1968; A. W. Mair and G. R. Mair, Callimachus: Hymns and Epigrams; Lycophron; Aratus, Cambridge, Mass., 1969.
2.   Oxford, 1968.
3.   Callimachus, Oxford, 1949-53.
4.   P. Parsons, "Callimachus' Victoria Berenices," ZPE 25 (1977) 1-50.

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Monday, May 28, 2012


Christine Hamdoune (ed.), Vie, mort et poésie dans l'Afrique romaine: d'après un choix de Carmina Latina Epigraphica. Collection Latomus, 330. Bruxelles: Éditions Latomus, 2011. Pp. 395; xxviii p. of plates. ISBN 9782870312711. €80.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Hagith Sivan, University of Kansas (

Version at BMCR home site

This edited volume brings together contributions addressing a corpus of 174 African verse inscriptions, assembled for the occasion by a team of experts in Montpellier. The aim was to discuss linguistic and historical aspects of the poems along the lines forged by the laudable example of the 1993 publication on a single verse inscription from Cillium.1 In the brief introduction the editor accounts for the selection mainly on the basis of omissions (material already published, texts too fragmentary), and as a reflection of the specific interests of individuals in the team (Latinists and historians). The main cities represented are Carthage and Caesarea, as well as smaller urban centers such as Haidra (Ammaedara), Auzia, Mactar and Madaura. The majority of the "pagan" texts belong to the third century CE; the Christians (or Christianized) texts range from the fourth to the seventh centuries.

The bulk of the book is devoted to the corpus itself. The poems are arranged along the lines of CIL VIII. Each poem is equipped with apparatus criticus, an analysis of its meter, translation, and commentary. Where known, a description of the monument where it had been inscribed is added. The result is a readable and accessible body of poems that reveal both banality and astonishing ingenuity, as well as remarkable continuity. The influence of the classics is evident as are clumsy constructions and grammatical errors.

Among noteworthy features of the inscriptions is the representation of two populations, women and children, that are ordinarily less conspicuous in comparable collections. It would have been useful to include a summarizing table showing the age at death of the children, where known, the cause, the type of tribute, its date, and the party recording the dead. Was there a reason why the Romans of Africa recorded their grief over the demise of children in poems, and in greater abundance than grieving relatives in other provinces?2 It would also have been useful to inform readers what ties the selected poems together besides the research interests of the contributing scholars. Take, for example, the three poems from Hippo (nos. 104-6). One is an epitaph, possibly composed by Augustine, of a deacon named Nabor who is represented dying a martyr's death at the hands of the Donatists. This Nabor had been a Donatist himself, and a later convert to orthodoxy. It seems that Augustine was not the only African to experience a change of heart, albeit the best known one. What does this poem have to do with the two other Hippo poems that commemorate the passing of children, a boy (4th-5th century) and a girl (6th-7th century)? The latter is lamented precisely because she died at the age of twelve, an age that instead of heralding her puberty and marriage, brought the tragedy of death. In a way all three are 'converts', death being their final conversion. This said, the articles make a notable effort to lend coherence to the corpus by complementing analysis.

Maria José Pena analyzes the language of two inscriptions from Caesarea (CLE 1243 and 479= nos. 162 and 170 in the assembled corpus), both commemorating transplanted Spaniards. The inscriptions include several remarkable features. The poem composed in memory of M. Furius Herennius contains a phrase alluding to his native land (Baetica me genuit tellus) in terms made familiar by the much later pseudo-epitaph of Virgil. That the Herennius poem is a pioneer in linking man and native soil in such a manner is curious and striking, suggesting that epigraphy did not invariably follow literature even when using literary conventions. The Herennius reference is closely followed by a Narbonese inscription that depicts the dead protagonist as a man hailing from a barbara tellus (CLE 1276). Pena also distinguishes two dates for the inscription, an early (mid first century) for its prose praescriptium, and a fourth century one for the poem. The latter was apparently reused in the same cemetery, perhaps to commemorate another Spaniard who lusted after Libya (cupidus Libuae cognoscere). This is an intriguing suggestion that should be examined in other contexts.

Étienne Wolff deals with two poems from the Anthologia Latina, both ascribed to Luxurius (nos. 49 and 50 in the corpus= Ant. Lat. 345 and 354), both dating to the "Vandal period" (in the corpus). A close analysis proposes a date after 530 for the poem commemorating Damira, the infantula filia of Oageis, member of the Vandal royal clan. Luxurius employs "pagan" and "Christian" allusions to highlight the extent of the loss. Similarly, in a poem honoring Olympius, a young slave or freedman, Luxurius favors the hunter's staged feats in the Carthaginian amphitheater with expressions alluding to Rome's victory over Carthage! Wolff further notes the close affinity between literary and lapidary poetic epitaphs, the former perhaps no more than literary exercises. Commonalities are based on references, direct and indirect, to classical literature, a habit whose incongruity was clearly not apparent in the heart of the Vandal capital.

Jean Meyers addresses the question of the employment of specific phrases borrowed from a host of classical sources and conveniently tabulated on pages 319-322. One wonders whether the Africans engaged in composing versified epitaphs used 'model books' containing relevant lines from a variety of authors, or whether the allusions imply first hand familiarity with the authors cited of composers and readers alike.

Jean-Marie Lassère analyzes biographical elements in the poems, ranging from matters of health, domestic virtues, moral qualities, to careers, professions and good deeds. The African poems do not appear to present startling innovations although some merit attention. One such is an epitaph of a priestess of Cirta who died at the extraordinary age of 115 (no. 127; CLE 1613; 2nd-3rd century). She probably also had tough soles since for eighty years she served the divinity (Ceres?) with bare feet. A life of seclusion and piety rewarded with exceptional longevity? Not surprisingly, those who lived their life as public figures are accorded detailed epitaphs bursting with biographical information. Such details stand in curious contrast with the dateless state of so many of the poems, as though the verse itself should suffice to lend concreteness to the dead.

In a similar vein Anne Fraïsse examines the typology of the information provided about the defunct, such as name, age, location, profession, magistracies, type of death, designation of the tomb, its type, etc. As she notes, the tomb itself is a place of dialogue between the dead person and her/his live relatives, whether children, parents, spouse, or a passerby. In brief, a testimony that death is a passage from life on earth to a mode marked by absence of continued communication.

What indeed the dead do say to the living is the subject of Laure Échalier, who notes that in no fewer than 49 out of the 174 selected poems the dead are given an opportunity to address the living, while only 32 poems allow the living to address the dead. For the rest (109 poems), the dead are talked about in the third person. In general, the dead console or advise the living. Do they also prepare the address in advance? Or rather did the deceased edit the text to be engraved upon death on the tombstone? It seems that the choice of the addressee also determined the words imparted by the dead to the living, possibly dictated by a desire to exert lingering influence over familial matters. To use fashionable terms, the dead continue to perform from the grave, aiming to fashion the lives of those left behind.

Jean-Noël Michaud dwells on readers, or addressees, as central figures of the poems, whether those related to the dead or persons wholly unrelated. Here a distinction is made between those with whom the dead had been in conversation during their lifetime, and potential readers united with the dead only through the temporary act of reading in a cemetery. Michaud focuses on four poems (nos. 70, 38, 136, and 108) that had been commissioned in life by the dead to be inscribed on their tombs. The "messages" differ as do the speakers.

In sum, this collection constitutes a worthwhile attempt to create a conversation around a definitive body of texts united by diction, theme (death) and location (African provinces) yet disparate in time (from mid first to sixth century CE) and exceptionally diverse in content. Can other commonalities be forged? The present collection takes an important step in collective analysis of common themes. One hopes that such conversation will continue.

There are indexes of names and of first lines, but not a general index. There are several good photographs but no map showing the places discussed.

Table of Contents

Avant-Propos, p. 5
Première Partie: Recueil de Poèmes Commentés, p. 13
Deuxième Partie: Études et Commentaires, p. 283
Maria-José Pena, "Deux carmina de Caesarea (Cherchel) et la Péninsule ibérique (n°170 et n° 162)", p. 285
Étienne Wolf, "Deux épitaphes de Luxorius (Anth. Lat. 345 et 354 R = 340 et 349 ShB) N° 49 et N°50", p. 299
Jean Meyers, "L'influence de la poésie classique dans les Carmina epigraphica funéraires d'Afrique du Nord", p. 306.
Jean-Marie Lassère, "Éléments de biographie dans les Carmina Latina Epigraphica", p. 323.
Anne Fraïsse, "Typologie des renseignements fournis sur le défunt dans les carmina", p. 336.
Laure Échalier, "Ce que les morts disent aux vivants", p. 349.
Jean-Noël Michaud, "Un instant dans l'éternité, l'éternité dans un instant", p. 364.
Bibliographie, p. 377
Index Nominum, p. 389
Incipit, p. 393
Table des Illustrations, p. 396
Table des Matières, p. 397


1.   Les Flavii de Cillium (Rome 1993)
2.   On the manner of lamenting and burying infants, H. Sivan, Galla Placidia (New York and Oxford 2011), passim.

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