Tuesday, July 31, 2012


David Raeburn, Oliver Thomas (ed.), The Agamemnon of Aeschylus: a Commentary for Students. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. lxxiv, 289. ISBN 9780199595617. $55.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Victor Bers, Yale University (victor.bers@yale.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

More than half a century has elapsed since the publication of the last English commentary and text suitable for first-time readers of the Agamemnon in Greek, by Denniston and Page (Oxford, 1957). Anyone who has labored at teaching this great play to students who come to the Agamemnon with no experience in Attic tragedy beyond reading, say, Euripides' Alcestis (perennial favorite of elementary Greek classes for its relative brevity and simplicity) will rejoice at Raeburn and Thomas's book. At the same time, those who have been through the text more times than they can remember will find much here that is new and valuable. And MPG Books Group has produced a paperback that for page size, flexibility of spine, layout, and hardiness puts the Cambridge Press Green and Yellow series to shame: CUP Syndics take note!

Inexperienced readers, and of course their instructors, will be grateful for the sort of help hardly to be found in earlier commentaries.1 Knotty stretches are translated, some with the literalism that is urgently needed when what they see on the page can strike beginners as an impossible combination of abstract and concrete (188: "by a lack of sailing characterized by empty innards"). Skillful poetic translations are quoted a few times, e.g., Browning's "Ship's-hell, man's-hell, city's-hell (688-90). At many points disambiguation of homonyms will spare a student time-robbing, discouraging confusion (e.g., 113-15 νεῶν, 1358-9 λέγω). Similarly, Raeburn and Thomas point out important lexical nuances that easily elude most students, especially in these days when many misuse the lexical resources of Perseus and underuse LSJ in both print and electronic media, e.g., ad 136-7 on the ambiguity of πρὸ λόχου and ad 1482 on αἰνέω = "tell of". It was news to me, though a hardware enthusiast, that Aeschylus' specific metaphoric vehicle at 1565-6 might be a masonry bracket. Disambiguation by accent (ad 1174-6; 1324-5) will be especially useful where students are, regrettably, not taught and accustomed to exploit this millennia-old "crutch" for newcomers to the language. Several times they point out not- immediately-obvious particle usage, for instance that at 491-2 οὖν conveys "in fact," not "therefore." Denniston's Particles is, of course, cited, even where the Denniston and Page commentary does not condescend to alert the reader to an important nuance conveyed by a particle. Especially welcome is an explanation (ad 219-21) of a feminine adjective that a tyro is bound to find mysterious unless, which is unlikely in the extreme, she or he has already been directed to Wilamowitz ad Eur. HF 681.

Raeburn and Thomas have a good ear for the articulation, or phrasing, of the lines, and often point out noteworthy rhythmical shaping in dialogue. In their note ad 944, for instance, they suggest how pauses around a phrase would strengthen the line's "resigned acceptance," and ad 1455, where the four longs in West's emendation convey a particular affect. Less credible, in my opinion, are the claims of sound symbolism, as at 956-7, where "the powerful alliteration πορφύρας πατῶν would be a good cue …[for Agamemnon] to step on the purple garments." Likewise, the note ad 312-13: "The five οι sounds are powerfully assertive." I was more persuaded by the authors' suggestion of how a particular delivery could exploit sounds inherent in the words, as at 943: "the diphthong of πιθοῦ and its circumflex accent can be delivered with a seductive cooing effect." In an appendix nearly thirty pages long Raeburn gives an account of scansion and lyric meters far fuller than what one would expect in a commentary. There are interesting suggestions on stage movement, for instance how the murderer and her victims might enter the palace (ad 1299 and 1306), how the chorus might move in reaction to Agamemnon's cries and the display of bodies on the ekkyklēma (ad 1370-1 and 1343-71). Apropos a director's work, I liked the remark ad 905-44: "Clytemnestra now stage-manages Agamemnon's entrance into the house."

Raeburn and Thomas avoid steering the reader towards any particular interpretation of the Agamemnon and the Oresteia as a whole. I want in particular to commend them for pointing out, with a light touch, that Aeschylus did not engage in crude schematizing of the forces that collide in the course of the trilogy. In the Introduction they say that "Unlike [Froma] Zeitlin, we would see gender dynamics not as 'the basic issue' of the Oresteia, but as one important strand in Aeschylus' complex dramatization of oppositions among humans and gods…" Ad 1022-4 (on p. 179) they remark that "The Olympians are … authorities for retributive justice just as well as the Erinyes."

This commentary reproduces Page's OCT text, though it often rejects its readings and makes some textual suggestions of its own. The commercial constraints that put the OCT in this book are obvious. I recommend that when and if the fascicle of a far superior edition, West's Teubner, becomes available again, instructors designate it as the required text. It is physically easy to manipulate while using a commentary, and was not very expensive. Beginners working (and I mean working) through this great play deserve all the help they can get.

This is an excellent commentary, perfectly aimed at its primary audience, yet obligatory for veteran Aeschyleans.


1.   In his Frogs commentary (Oxford, 1993: vi) K.J. Dover took the lead in meeting the requirements of contemporary students.
2.   A few dissents exempli gratia from claimed cross references of various sorts. Raeburn and Thomas's imagination runs out of control ad 4-6 in even entertaining a link between ὁμήγυρις and the audience watching the play. I cannot believe that Aeschylus' word προτέλεια is to be inked to the play as a ritual enactment. Ad 1100-4: Od. 3.261 μέγα μήσατο ἔργον, referring to Clytemnestra, is not at all likely to have been ringing in Aeschylus' or any other ancient's ear when they heard Cassandra sing the word μήδε ται.

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Nikolaos Vakonakis, Das griechische Drama auf dem Weg nach Byzanz: der euripideische Cento Christos Paschon. Classica Monacensia, Bd 42. Tübingen: Narr Verlag, 2011. Pp. x, 184. ISBN 9783823365822. €48.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Fabian Sieber, KU Leuven (fabian.sieber@student.kuleuven.be)

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Das hier zu besprechende Buch stellt Leser(innen) und Rezensenten vor eine Herausforderung: Die stilistischen Mängel sind offensichtlich, sie erschweren Lektüre und Verständnis - doch wer ist dafür verantwortlich? Gewiss letztlich hängt alles immer am Autor, vor allem wenn dieser ein Vorwort schreibt, dass von syntaktischen und stilistischen Fehlern wimmelt. Andererseits verweist der Zustand des Buches vor allem auch auf die derzeitige Situation im Verlagswesen, in der die Institution des Lektorats ersatzlos gestrichen wurde. Ich persönlich tendiere dazu, vielleicht nicht alle, aber einen Gutteil der Probleme des vorliegenden Buches in diesem Feld zu suchen und deshalb nicht so sehr dem Autor Vorwürfe zu machen, als vielmehr den Herausgebern der Serie Classica Monacensia, die zugelassen haben, das Buch in diesem Zustand an den Verlag zu schicken, bzw. dem Narr Verlag, der die Publikation letztlich zu verantworten hat. Leider nur helfen Schuldzuweisungen niemandem etwas. Vor allem nicht dem Buch selbst. Worum geht es also in diesem Werk?

Vakonakis liest den euripideischen Cento Christos Paschon in der Tradition des griechischen Dramas. In einem ersten Teil zeichnet er deshalb die Entwicklung dieser literarischen Gattung in klassischer und nach-klassischer Zeit unter Berücksichtigung von Aufführungspraxis und christlich-patristischer Kritik am Theaterwesen nach.Die Genese der spätantik-byzantinischen Cento-Technik wird in dieser Tradition verortet (Stichwort „Imitatio"). Nicht zuletzt im christlichen Cento drückt sich deshalb, nach Ansicht des Autors, die bleibende Wertschätzung aus, die dem Vorbild der klassischen Literatur auch in einem gewandelten kulturellen Umfeld entgegengebracht wurde. Vakonakis weist jedoch darauf hin, dass die Unterschiede zwischen klassischem Drama und byzantinischem Cento größer sind als ihre Gemeinsamkeiten, weshalb der Cento Christos Paschon nur in einem uneigentlichen Sinn als „Tragödie" bezeichnet werden kann. (Und das ist der Grund, weshalb der Autor von „Tragödie" in diesem Fall nur in Anführungszeichen spricht.)

Der zweite Teil des Werkes beschäftigt sich vor allem mit den klassischen Einleitungsfragen. Auf eine knappe Darstellung der Überlieferungsgeschichte folgt ein ausführlicher Überblick über die Forschungsgeschichte, von der Editio Princeps (1542) bis ins 20./21. Jahrhundert. Diese Darstellung liest man mit großem Gewinn, da Vakonakis äußerst präzise das jeweilige Forschungsinteresse und die Ergebnisse der einzelnen Autoren zusammenfasst. Im nächsten Schritt, der Würdigung des referierten Materials, verortet sich Vakonakis selbst im Kontext dieser Forschungstradition und formuliert eigene „Überlegungen zur Autor- und Datierungsfrage". Sein Fazit ist konventionell, aber kreativ: Aufbauend auf der Schlussfolgerung, dass es sich wohl um das Werk eines unbekannten Autors handelt, das im 12.Jahrhundert geschrieben wurde, formuliert er die These, dass es sich beim Christos Paschon auch um das Produkt eines Autorenkollektivs handeln könnte, das als eine Auftragsarbeit von unbekannten Mönchen verfasst wurde (vgl. S.99f.). Als Indiz hierfür betrachtet Vakonakis die zahlreichen Vers-Wiederholungen im Text. Ebenso lesenswert sind sein Gliederungsvorschlag, bzw. seine kommentierende Zusammenfassung.

Vakonakis' Versuch, die Dramaturgie des Christos Paschon vor dem Hintergrund der antiken Tragödientheorie nachzuvollziehen, führt ihn zu dem Ergebnis, das nicht etwa – wie eigentlich zu erwarten – Jesus Christus, sondern Maria als Gottesmutter im Zentrum der Handlung steht. Unter diesen Umständen ruft das letzte Kapitel des Buches fast zwangsläufig ein wenig Wehmut hervor. Warum beschäftigt sich Vakonakis ausgerechnet mit dem Wert des Christos Paschon für die Euripides-Textkritik, statt sich um eine inhaltliche Auseinandersetzung mit dem Werk selber zu bemühen?

Es ist zu befürchten, dass es auf diese Frage keine zufriedenstellende Antwort gibt. Ebensowenig wie auf die Frage, weshalb Zitate griechischer Sekundärliteratur nicht übersetzt werden; weshalb in der Darstellung der Forschungsfrage, ob es einen Theaterbetrieb in Byzanz gegeben hat oder nicht zwar die pro-Argumente dargestellt werden, nicht aber die Gegenargumente oder weshalb das Literaturverzeichnis dramatische Lücken aufweist. Ein Hinweis auf die zweibändige Überblicksdarstellung über „Die Geschichte des Dramas" von Fischer-Lichte etwa 1 wäre eigentlich unvermeidbar gewesen.


1.   Fischer-Lichte, Erika: Die Geschichte des Dramas: Epochen der Identität auf dem Theater von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. 2.Bd. Tübingen: Francke, 1990.

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Harvey Yunis (ed.), Plato: Phaedrus. Cambridge Greek and Latin classics. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. x, 270. ISBN 9780521612593. $34.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Christopher Moore, Penn State University (crm21@psu.edu)

Version at BMCR home site


Harvey Yunis has published a wonderful commentary on Plato's Phaedrus, now the best available. Both the thirty-page introduction and the 165-page notes are dense, serious, accurate, and insightful. Yunis has a coherent, well-defended, and thoroughly argued thesis about the dialogue. He displays great sensitivity to the linguistic resources available to Plato for depicting irony and playfulness, and shows a vivid appreciation for Socrates' commitments and Phaedrus's character. The commentary is strongest on linguistic, rhetorical, literary, and historical matters; reconstruction or analysis of the dialogue's arguments is given obliquely or incompletely. It often does not signal scholarly controversy; what is gained in clarity of presentation is partially offset by its silence about some of the dialogue's interpretative puzzles. All the same, philosophers, philologists, and rhetoricians concerned with the Phaedrus, classical Greek thought about erôs, and the goodness of speech now have an excellent guide.

Yunis's view is that the dialogue depicts Socrates turning Phaedrus away from sophistic rhetoric and Lysias and toward philosophy and himself. Everything Socrates says in the conversation goes toward that end. The so-called "unity" problem, presented in terms of "logographic necessity" or "organic unity," is thereby resolved. Much of Yunis's analysis explains why Socrates must speak to Phaedrus in some particular way at some particular time, whether "in friendly and ironic conversation, in allegories and myths, in didactic argument, [or] in studied artificial language." Socrates maneuvers constantly. This maneuvering is successful; Yunis shows the extent to which Socrates gains the beauty- and speech-loving Phaedrus's attention, concern, and commitment. (Whether Phaedrus came to live a wholly philosophical life "is beyond Plato's concern in the dialogue.")

The Introduction gives a synopsis of the dialogue's dramatic action, Socrates' "psychagôgic" project. It is remarkable for its precision and narrative insight. Phaedrus is said to "ha[ve] a native passion for what is beautiful and fine"; "his aptitude for philosophy becomes apparent only under Socrates' tutelage"; and "though Phaedrus is younger than Socrates, he is … far from being a potential erômenos to [anyone]; Phaedrus is a potential erastês," "an adult discipline of [Socrates'] art of discourse-composition." Surveying all the evidence, the Introduction argues for a dramatic date of the "last ten or fifteen years" of the fifth century, and a composition date of 370-355. It observes significant allusion to the Gorgias, consistent with the author's argument in Taming Democracy (Cornell, 1996), saying that the two dialogues present complementary arguments against sophistic rhetoric. It claims that the Phaedrus "fundamentally influenced Aristotle's Rhetoric," and efficiently charts its further reception through antiquity and the twentieth century. It gives a thesaurus of Plato's excellent variety of language, and throughout the commentary pays close attention to the role particles play in vivifying speech. The apparatus is severe, reporting only cases when "(1) the adopted reading is one of two or more variants in the primary manuscripts… none of [which] variants is obviously correct, and a decision among [them] affects what Plato means; [or] (2) the adopted reading departs from all primary manuscripts," but this criterion still leaves 91 reports.

The book—used either as a research tool or a text read straight through—provides hundreds of pleasures and revelations. Included among them are Yunis's analysis of Socrates' first criticism, that Lysias's speech should "write that favors are due to the poor, etc."; his gloss of more than a dozen instances of sexual slang; a measured discussion of the non-urban setting of the dialogue (avoiding strained claims about Socrates' infrequent journeying beyond the city walls); his perception of the "annoying jingling quality" of part of Lysias's speech (which he argues to be Plato's invention); and a great explication of Socrates' claim to have focused on the "rhetorical aspect" of Lysias's speech, this aspect being, as he shows, the rational argument (a point among many not discussed in Christopher Rowe's Aris & Phillips commentary). There is a nice explanation for Socrates' shrouding himself for his first speech; a distinction between the three (or four) audiences of Socrates' palinode, with a great summary of the argument of the palinode; a shrewd articulation of the supposed attack on Lysias's speechwriting at 257c6; and an explanation for Sophocles' and Euripides' markedly gentle speech in their hypothetical talk with a budding playwright. Throughout his discussion Yunis specifies ambiguous pronouns and translates long, convoluted sentences; he is also always identifying the evidence for what a reader may have or may not have suspected about Socrates' attitude toward the dialogue's set-piece speeches.

The charms and value of this work will be obvious to anyone who opens the handsome text (which includes two helpful maps, a judicious bibliography, intuitive Greek and English indexes, and a fifty-line synopsis). The remainder of this review will note some of the commentary's few weaknesses, doing so in the spirit of gratitude for the strengths of the rest.

Take Yunis's analysis of 229c5-230a6, where Socrates explains that he avoids myth-rectification because seeking self-knowledge takes too much time. Yunis's thesis is sound: "By warning Phaedrus away from analyzing myth and reducing it to what is 'probable,' Socrates encourages Phaedrus… to maintain an openness to myth and its imaginative power that he will exploit in his palinode." But Yunis does not acknowledge the difficulties in this passage. He does not work out Socrates' claim that the myth-rectifier is "excessively clever" (lian deinou 229d3), and while he rightly defines epanorthousthai as "to rectify" he is silent about its other normative sense of "to restore." More importantly, he says that Delphi's gnothi sauton means only "know your limits," not acknowledging the variety of other possible meanings (per Wilkins's 'Know Thyself' in Greek and Latin Literature), and he asserts that, for Socrates, self-knowledge is "knowledge not about himself qua unique individual, but about himself qua human being, hence applicable to all human beings." Neither of these claims is argued or given evidence, even though one might reasonably disagree about this issue central to the dialogue (and in Platonic literature generally).

Yunis's attitude toward the arguments at 245c5-246a2, about the soul's immortality, and at 261e5-262c3, about the necessity for knowledge in rhetorical success, is indeterminate. On the one hand, Yunis seems to validate the immortality argument. He says it goes about "demonstrating that souls are immortal" (15) and is "a formal proof" that "establishes" its conclusion (129) and "accomplishes this task" (135). He also that its "serious purpose guarantees that, as far as S. is concerned, it is true" (15). On the other hand, however, he distances himself from the argument. His very brief and charitable reconstruction does not link text to his proposed chain of inferences, and while the reconstruction is valid, it is not obvious that Socrates' argument itself is. Seemingly sharing this skepticism, Yunis remarks that "the argument is highly condensed, which jeopardizes its coherence," and that "there is an ambiguity that remains unresolved between the immortal 'all soul' of the proof and the immortal soul that individual human beings possess and that forms the subject of the myth" (136; cf. 139, 246c1n). Yunis unfortunately does not develop this criticism. He cites R. Bett's "Immortality and the nature of the soul in the Phaedrus" and D. Blyth's "The ever-moving soul in Plato's Phaedrus" for analysis of the argument, but not their conclusions. In Bett's case it is that Socrates argues fallaciously; in Blyth's, that Socrates argues validly but does not there substantiate some of his assumption and intends for his argument to appear fallacious. (Yunis excludes from his text's apparatus the OCT reading, depending on Philoponus, that these authors discuss.)

His remarks about the argument on knowledge and persuasive success are equally confusing. Referring to it, he speaks of "no lack of dense argument and abstruse detail" (5); an "abstract argument" that has to be relieved with examples (6); "a dense, abstract argument that makes good on his claim" (12, and again at 187), and a "highly condensed, abstract argument" (189). He notes that Aristotle also believed that one had to be knowledgeable to be a successful persuader (26-7). (He does not note that Aristotle does not use the Phaedrean argument.) Given all this density, its very surprising conclusion, and its central role in the dialogue's argument about "true rhetoric," it is disappointing that Yunis does not give a detailed assessment. In fact he does in places, if rather glancingly, call the argument's validity into question. He calls it a "tour de force of psychagôgia" (178), having already spoken of psychagôgia as concerned with success rather than validity, and refers to the "slippery manner in which Socrates… sometimes argues for the sake of acquiring his interlocutor's agreement" (187). In the introduction he wrote that "Plato made a strategic decision to structure the Phaedrus in such a way that he offers not a philosophical or dialectical defense of the priority of philosophy but merely a rhetorical one" (14). And in the analogy to medicine, Socrates uses a "deceptive, gradually shifting, psychagogic form of argument" (208). A reader might wonder whether this "dense" argument is supposed to appear dense while not actually being good.

Yunis may believe that all that matters is that Socrates succeeds at turning Phaedrus in the direction he wants. But it worth considering whether a proper statement of Socrates' methods must involve investigating whether Socrates ever sacrifices validity for efficacy. (Yunis does provide such an analysis to great effect on the argument at 257e1-2, the paradox that "the proudest politicians love most of all speechwriting and leaving written compositions behind.")

A last complaint is about Yunis's analysis of psychagôgia (defined on p. 183), in particular in contrast to persuasion (peithô). Yunis's basic analysis is that regular persuasion cannot change an audience-member's views very much:

A sophistic speaker, ignorant of the subject of his discourse but schooled in his auditor's beliefs about the subject, can do no more than persuade the auditor to accept something that, by virtue of his existing beliefs, he is already inclined to accept from the start (as in the horse-and-donkey vignette). Psychagôgia is a more demanding persuasive task. It requires the speaker to be able to replace the auditor's current beliefs, which are likely to be conventional, with entirely new ones, for example, beliefs that could be sufficiently transformative to make possible an attachment to philosophy. (12-13)

But it is not clear why psychagôgia in not simply sequential persuasion of the standard variety, as it is in many of the arguments Yunis claims to be psychagôgic (some of which are mentioned above). At some points, Yunis does present a very different kind of psychagôgia, one connected with vivid imagery and liberation from rational inference. In talking about the profit divine erôs would bring, Yunis writes that "it would be impossible to exaggerate the degree to which this set of benefits departs from the conventional values of a young Athenian man. … Plato foregoes an argument based on expediency…. Such an argument, no matter how cogent, would fail to convince, because from the perspective of the auditor the conclusion is so radical that no argument could convince. … Instead, Plato utilizes the affective properties of mimetic art to excite desire in the soul of the auditor" (128). But elsewhere he does not, and anyway it is likely that sophistic orators did use stories and imagery, and so it is hard to know what he takes the innovation of psychagôgia really to be. Nevertheless, Yunis's eye for instantiations of psychagôgia makes his commentary the starting-point for any further inquiry into the issue.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012


Katerina Servi, The Acropolis: the Acropolis Museum. Athens: Ekdotike Athenon, 2011. Pp. 167. ISBN 9789602134528. $36.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Adeline Grand-Clément, Université de Toulouse 2-Le Mirail (adeline.grand-clement@univ-tlse2.fr)

Version at BMCR home site

L'Acropole d'Athènes, véritable « lieu de mémoire »pour les Athéniens de l'Antiquité, le reste encore pour les Européens d'aujourd'hui : elle est depuis 1987 classée au Patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO et reçoit chaque année la visite d'un flot de touristes. Les travaux de restauration de ses monuments, en particulier du Parthénon, ainsi que l'ouverture du nouveau musée de l'Acropole en juin 2009, ont renforcé l'intérêt des historiens et archéologues pour ce rocher situé au cœur de la ville antique et moderne.Des publications récentes en témoignent, telles les monographies de J. Hurwit et de B. Holtzmann1 ou encore les études plus détaillées dont le Parthénon a fait l'objet.2 Le livre de Katerina Servi, consacré à l'Acropole d'Athènes ainsi qu'à son nouveau musée, n'a pas leur ambition scientifique. Son objectif est autre : offrir une synthèse commode et accessible aux touristes étrangers, amateurs éclairés, enseignants et étudiants, qui se rendraient à Athènes. Il appartient en effet à la série des guides que les éditions Ekdotike Athenon publient en format de poche sur les principaux sites archéologiques et musées grecs, et qui sont traduits dans plusieurs langues (grec, anglais, français, allemand, italien,…). L'auteur, une archéologue grecque, a d'ailleurs contribué à d'autres volumes de la collection. Comme eux, ce livre, adressé au grand public, vient remplacer le guide plus ancien de Manolis Andronikos, paru dans la même collection en 1978 (en grec) et traduit dans plusieurs langues, puis augmenté en 1980 et constamment réédité depuis.3 La nouvelle version proposée par Servi reprend un plan analogue, mais se veut une mise à jour intégrant les découvertes archéologiques récentes et offrant une présentation détaillée du nouveau musée. Certes, la composition des collections ne diffère guère de ce qui était exposé dans l'ancien musée, situé sur l'Acropole, mais la muséographie a radicalement changé et le livre rend bien compte des choix qui ont été faits.

Le guide comporte deux parties distinctes. La première est consacrée à l'histoire de l'Acropole et à ses monuments (p. 11-91), la seconde au nouveau musée de l'Acropole (p. 92-167). L'auteur traite chaque partie comme si elle était autonome, ce que l'on pourrait regretter. En effet, des renvois entre l'une et l'autre étaient possibles et même souhaitables, pour permettre au lecteur de naviguer plus aisément entre les pièces exposées dans le musée et leur contexte de découverte. On signalera en outre que le livre ne comporte pas d'index ni de glossaire (les termes grecs employés sont généralement explicités au fil du texte).

La première partie présente l'histoire du rocher depuis l'âge du bronze jusqu'à nos jours. Une attention particulière est portée aux époques archaïque et classique, au cours desquelles le site gagne en importance, conjointement au développement de la cité ; c'est surtout du temps de la démocratie péricléenne, au Ve siècle, que le programme de construction prend une ampleur sans précédent et donne au rocher la configuration qu'on lui connaît aujourd'hui. La présentation historique se clôt par une très (trop ?) courte section consacrée aux « temps mythologiques » : l'auteur rappelle que les principaux mythes fondateurs de la cité prennent place sur l'Acropole.

Les sections suivantes proposent une découverte complète du site archéologique. Pour se repérer dans l'espace, il est nécessaire de se référer régulièrement au plan général qui figure au début du livre (p. 8-9) – ce qui n'est pas toujours très commode. Servi nous fait alors parcourir les monuments un à un, en commençant par ceux situés sur l'Acropole elle-même, puis ceux répartis sur les flancs et au pied du rocher (versant sud, versants nord et est). Dans cette section, c'est bien entendu le Parthénon qui se taille la part du lion (p. 45-54). L'auteur le présente comme le plus grand « temple » consacré à Athéna, sans se faire l'écho des débats qui existent autour de la fonction réelle de l'édifice, en rapport avec la nature de la statue d'Athéna Parthénos : celle-ci faisait-elle l'objet d'un culte ou n'était-elle qu'un magnifique ex-voto consacré à la déesse ?4

La partie consacrée au musée est introduite par une brève présentation de l'édifice et de l'histoire de sa construction. L'auteur rappelle que la volonté de remplacer l'ancien musée situé sur l'Acropole remonte à 1976, mais n'a pu se concrétiser que bien plus tard, avec la victoire du projet conçu par l'architecte franco-suisse Bernard Tschumi, à l'occasion du quatrième concours international. L'édifice, ultra-moderne, a bien rempli le cahier des charges qui avait été fixé : respecter les vestiges archéologiques découverts sur l'emplacement qui avait été choisi (grâce à un système de pilotis et à l'aménagement prévu de l'aire archéologique qui sera ouverte aux visiteurs) ; suggérer un espace ouvert (la lumière rentre abondamment à l'intérieur du bâtiment et l'éclairage naturel, qui varie au cours de la journée, redonne vie et animation aux statues) ; interagir avec l'Acropole et ses monuments, bien visibles depuis le musée (c'est ce souci qui a présidé à la conception de la galerie du Parthénon).

Servi guide ensuite le visiteur salle par salle, vitrine par vitrine. Pour chaque grande section (sous-sol, galerie archaïque du premier étage, galerie du Parthénon, section ouest du premier étage, section nord du premier étage), l'archéologue commence par une brève évocation de la collection et des pièces remarquables, puis entre dans le détail, choisissant un large éventail d'objets exposés. Mais il ne s'agit ni d'un inventaire exhaustif, ni d'un catalogue approfondi : la plupart du temps, l'auteur se borne à mentionner les artefacts, en précisant entre parenthèses leur numéro d'inventaire et leur date (les dimensions ne sont pas fournies, sauf exceptions). Ainsi, les présentations les plus longues excèdent rarement cinq ou six lignes.5 Une part de choix est réservée au deuxième étage du musée, où se trouve la galerie du Parthénon. L'auteur souligne, photographies à l'appui, que la muséographie adoptée reprend la disposition originale des deux frontons, des métopes et de la frise qui décoraient l'édifice, tout en respectant l'orientation et les proportions de l'ensemble. Le visiteur parvient ainsi à se représenter l'aspect originel du Parthénon, en comparant avec ce qu'il peut voir, grâce aux larges baies vitrées, du monument en partie ruiné qui subsiste sur l'Acropole. L'effet est particulièrement réussi et plaide en faveur du retour des marbres conservés au British Museum depuis 1816 : les parties manquantes (environ la moitié du décor sculpté) sont remplacées par les moulages en plâtres que les Anglais avaient envoyés à la Grèce, à sa demande, dans les années 1930.

Comme il est de mise pour un guide, l'ensemble de l'ouvrage est richement illustré. Les photographies sont en couleurs : vues d'ensemble du site archéologique et de ses principaux monuments, aperçus des salles et de certaines pièces majeures conservées dans le musée. Les plans, en revanche, sont plus rares. L'auteur utilise en outre, dans la partie consacrée à l'histoire de l'Acropole, une série de dessins, gravures et peintures proposant des reconstitutions d'édifices ou des vues de leur état à l'époque moderne. La qualité de ces images est très inégale, et la source n'est presque jamais précisée, ce que l'on peut regretter. Des dessins anonymes, dont certains de qualité médiocre (telle la reconstitution de l'Athéna chryséléphantine de Phidias, conservée dans le Parthénon, p. 49), côtoient ainsi des lithographies du XIXe siècle. On notera la prudence avec laquelle est suggérée la polychromie architecturale sur les restitutions, alors que, dans le texte, plusieurs passages rappellent l'importance des couleurs sur les édifices et les statues qui peuplaient le rocher dans l'Antiquité.

En somme, le livre de Servi peut être utile pour accompagner une visite de l'Acropole et de son musée, en fournissant un parcours guidé et quelques clefs de lecture et d'interprétation. Il ménage une place aux nouvelles découvertes et théories : l'auteur signale par exemple brièvement l'existence d'une seconde frise ionique décorant le Parthénon (p. 54). Mais on relève quelques confusions, approximations ou simplifications historiques : le groupe sculpté en calcaire de la lionne attaquant un taureau est improprement associé à l'ancien temple d'Athéna Polias, dont les frontons étaient en fait en marbre (p. 57) ; la korè dite « au peplos » ne portait pas un « simple doric peplos » (p. 121) mais un vêtement richement décoré ; l'auteur ne mentionne pas les différentes interprétations proposées pour la signification de la frise dite « des Panathénées » (p. 52-54) ; les dieux se voient gratifiés d'étiquettes schématiques, voire abusives (p. 21, Aphrodite, « goddess of love », Athena Polias qualifiée de « peaceful », p. 57) ; on trouve le mot deme là où l'on attendrait demos,… C'est ce que l'ouvrage ne privilégie pas l'érudition mais s'adresse à un large public et vise à lui offrir un aperçu de l'histoire mouvementée de l'Acropole, sur plus de cinq millénaires. Il montre que les monuments construits au fil du temps sur le rocher reflètent l'intense activité rituelle qui s'y déployait dans l'Antiquité, mais aussi que les épisodes de destruction et de reconstruction qui ont jalonné les siècles suivants sont tout aussi révélateurs des changements politiques, culturels, sociaux et religieux qui ont marqué Athènes et la Grèce. Le destin du Parthénon est à cet égard exemplaire : transformé en église, puis en mosquée, il abritait un dépôt de munition au moment de sa destruction partielle par les Vénitiens lors du siège de la ville, en 1687. Dépouillé d'une partie de son décor sculpté par les hommes au service de Lord Elgin, au début du XIXe siècle, il fait aujourd'hui l'objet d'une grande opération de restauration : les échafaudages et les grues ont désormais trouvé leur place sur le rocher sacré des Athéniens, aux côtés des édifices érigés en l'honneur des divinités tutélaires de la cité.


1.   J. M. Hurwit, The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology, and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present. Cambridge, 1999; B. Holtzmann, L'Acropole d'Athènes. Monuments, cultes et histoire du sanctuaire d'Athèna Polias. Paris, 2003. Un ouvrage collectif récent cherche à restituer le paysage architectural de l'Acropole aux époques hellénistique et romaine : R. Krumeich, Chr. Witschel (ed.), Die Akropolis von Athen im Hellenismus und in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Wiesbaden, 2010.
2.   M. Beard, The Parthenon. Cambridge, 2003; Fr. Queyrel, Le Parthénon, Un monument dans l'Histoire. Paris, 2008; A. Kaldellis, The Christian Parthenon: Classicism and Pilgrimage in Byzantine Athens. Cambridge/New York, 2009.
3.   L'édition anglaise la plus récente date de 2005.
4.   A. Prost, « Norme et image divine. L'exemple de la 'statue d'or' de l'Acropole », in P. Brulé (éd.), La norme en matière religieuse en Grèce ancienne. Liège, 2009, p. 243-260.
5.   Pour le musée nouveau, voir aussi M. Caskey, "Perceptions of the New Acropolis Museum," AJA 115 (2011). On attend son catalogue complet. Pour l'heure, la présentation la plus détaillée des collections reste l'ouvrage de M. Brouskari paru en 1974 (The Acropolis Museum. A descriptive Catalogue. Athens, 1974

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John Glucker, Charles Burnett (ed.), Greek into Latin from Antiquity until the Nineteenth Century. Warburg Institute colloquia, 18. London; Turin: Nino Aragno Editore, 2012. Pp. xiii, 226. ISBN 9781908590411.

Reviewed by Ioannis Deligiannis, Research Centre for Greek and Latin Literature of the Academy of Athens, Greece (deligiannis@academyofathens.gr)

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Table of Contents

The volume contains ten essays originally presented as papers at a 2005 conference (Greek into Latin) held at the Warburg Institute, London. It is addressed to readers familiar with both languages, but with interests covering many aspects of Greek and Latin literature in a period extending from classical Latin (Cicero in particular, Plautus, et al.) to Renaissance Latin and beyond. While Greek, as the source language, and its literature, is present in every essay, it is the Latin language and literature that, as the target language in a volume dedicated to translation, is predominant. In their brief preface the editors believe "that this may be the first book which raises the issue of the transition from Greek into Latin throughout a period of over two thousand years".

In the first part ("Greek in Latin") of her essay ("Greek in Latin, Greek into Latin - Reflections on the Passage of Patterns"), H. Rosén discusses aspects of Greek grammar and syntax used in Latin language (Grecisms). In the second part (Greek into Latin) she focuses on aspects of translating Greek into Latin, and more specifically on typological incongruities between the two languages and how they were overcome by the Latin authors. It is a very informative study, thoroughly supported by examples from classical Latin authors (with Cicero having a prominent place among them), statistical information, and an up-to-date bibliography.

N. Zagagi ("What do Greek Words do in Plautus?") has provided a systematic study of Plautus's use of Greek vocabulary and phraseology in his comedies. She has methodically structured her argument (with numerous examples and discussion of whole excerpts) to lead to the conclusion that Plautus was addressing an audience familiar with this sort of vocabulary, and his use of Greek in sympotic and madness scenes as well as in intrigue and by effeminate characters was aiming at the prejudices of his audience towards negative Greek stereotypes which were opposed to the austere Roman moral ethos.

J. Glucker's essay ("Cicero's Remarks on Translating Philosophical Terms - Some General Problems") is a meticulous study, and by far the most comprehensive one up to this time, of Cicero's remarks on translating Greek philosophical terms into Latin. It reveals Cicero's methodological approach in his attempt to provide accurate and faithful translations of terms in a field (philosophy) where even the slightest difference from the original could cause, at least, serious misconceptions. After a short review of the literature on the topic, Glucker divides his essay into five parts, in which he examines the Ciceronian evidence for a) the first mention of Greek terms and their translations, b) groups of Greek terms and remarks on their translation, especially in issues related to the Stoics, c) cases where Cicero's comments require a certain familiarity with Greek, d) the verbum a verbo expression and others similar to it, used by Cicero in his remarks, and e) some ad sensum translations, with or without their being explained by Cicero. The essay is followed by two appendices with all the texts (philosophical and rhetorical) in which Cicero makes remarks on his translation of Greek terms, and an index of Greek/Latin words.

A. Siebengartner ("Stoically Seeing and Being Seen in Cicero's Aratea") focuses on the early translation of Aratus's Phaenomena by Cicero, who changed not only the title of the original (Aratea) but also added to it a Stoic tinge, absent from Aratus's poem. Analyzing a number of excerpts, the author describes how Cicero's use of second-person verbs related to vision and of descriptions of stars and constellations enhanced by additional actions and characteristics (which resemble those of the Stoic god) transformed Aratus's poem and its static style into a dramatized poem in support of the Stoic cosmology. The author briefly touches on the influence of the Stoic exegesis of Aratus's poem by Boethus of Sidon on Cicero's translation and the similarities between Aratea and Cicero's De Natura Deorum II. The essay offers a deep discussion of the relationship between the original author and his audience and how this relationship may change between the translation author and his audience.

With P. Tóth's essay ("Honey on the Brim of the Poison Cup: Translation and Propaganda: Rufinus's Latin Version of the Historia Monachorum in Aegypto") we move to the late antique period. In this well-structured essay the author examines how history and literature intertwine and how the latter can become the medium for propaganda in the service of or against certain purposes. The changes between the original late-fourth-century hagiographic text and its Latin translation by Rufinus in the early fifth century are attributed, as Tóth convincingly explains, to intentional changes made by Rufinus in defense of Origen and his followers, who in AD 400 were condemned as heretics. The author takes into consideration all the available evidence, making excellent use of the texts under discussion and of historical data, to prove that Rufinus's translation borrowed terminology from another translation of his, that of Origen's De Principiis.

In his essay ("Exemplum logicum Boethii: Reception and Renewal") D. Nikitas shows the extent and nature of Boethius's reception of the exemplum logicum from a long tradition that goes back to Aristotle himself, as well as his innovations in this technique. As a member of the Aristotelian-Neoplatonic school of Alexandria, Boethius draws the material for his use of exempla logica from Greek and Roman sources and from his own contemporary environment. Nikitas analyzes numerous exempla translated by Boethius along with Aristotle's text, others in which Boethius's active intervention is clear, new exempla absent from Aristotle, and exempla drawn from other sources.

P. De Leemans ("Remarks on the Text Tradition of De longitudine et brevitate vitae, tr. Guillelmi") focuses on the thirteenth-century Latin translation of Aristotle's treatise De longitudine et brevitate vitae from his Parva Naturalia by William of Moerbeke. He briefly goes through the medieval translations of the whole collection of Parva Naturalia by James of Venice in the twelfth century (translatio vetus) and by William in the thirteenth century (translatio nova), and their modern editions (or lack thereof). The short review of the history of the text is followed by the comparison of selected passages in James's and William's translations, to conclude that William did not simply revise James's translation, as he usually did with others of his translations, but produced a new one, while a manuscript that the author believes is a revised version of William's translation shows his method of going back to his text in order to improve it. This is undoubtedly a very informative study, which could do, though, with fewer technical details.

M. Pade's essay ("The Fifteenth-Century Latin Versions of Plutarch's Lives: Examples of Humanist Translation") deals with fifteenth-century translation methods, especially of vocabulary, style and concepts, with focus on Plutarch's Lives, a topic very familiar to her. She talks about the knowledge and reception of Plutarch in Western Europe before the fifteenth century, translations of his works before and during the fifteenth century, the influence of M. Chrysoloras in translating Greek into Latin, and why Plutarch's Lives were a reading favorite in fifteenth-century Italy. The originality of the study mainly lies in the discussion of the conscious and intentional use of classical Latin parallels and notions familiar to the contemporary audience by Plutarch's translators for rendering concepts of the Greek original.

P. Botley ("Greek Epistolography in Western Europe in Fifteenth-Century Italy") dilates on a topic which is original, is usually not among the primary interests of scholars working on fifteenth-century texts and therefore is particularly useful for further research. Although this study is placed within specific time and place limits, it is a comprehensive presentation of the fortune of Greek letter collections within these limits. The author divides his material into three parts: a) imaginary letters (e.g., Philostratus, Alciphron, et al.), b) genuine letters (Emperor Julian and Libanius), and c) pseudonymous letters (e.g., Plato, Diogenes the Cynic, Hippocrates, Phalaris, et al.). He explains why the latter group of letters attracted the interest and preference of fifteenth-century Italians, and briefly discusses issues of authenticity and translations. The essay is supplemented with a list of fifteenth-century Latin translations of Greek letters.

P. Petitmengin's essay ("La publication de traductions latines d'œuvres grecques dans la France du XIXe siècle") is the last in this volume and brings us to the nineteenth century. In an almost exhaustive study the author presents the production and publication of Latin translations of Greek texts, pagan and Christian, in France in the nineteenth century, with references to bibliographic catalogues, publishing houses and series, individual translators and editors.

The short description and evaluation of the contributions in this volume are sufficient to show its significance and how useful and helpful it will be for those working or planning to work on subjects related to the relationships of the two classical languages and literatures. The only deficiency of the volume lies in its Index (of authors, translators and publishers); it would certainly benefit the volume if the above-mentioned index included, e.g., the copyists and other scholars, Byzantines, Italians, etc., from P. Botley's essay. Furthermore, a separate index of manuscripts, especially since the volume contains two essays (P. De Leemans's and P. Botley's) with numerous manuscript references, would definitely have been a plus. Finally and as a general observation, certain limitations pointed out and discussed by the editors in their preface in reference to the incongruity of the essay topics and the vastness of the field these cover (or attempted to cover) are to be taken more seriously not only by the organizers of the conference and editors of this volume (which would be too late anyway), but also by organizers of future conferences and editors of future volumes like this.

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Ian Johnston, G. H. R. Horsley (ed.), Galen: Method of Medicine. Volume I, Books 1-4. Loeb classical library, 516. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2011. Pp. clvii, 461. ISBN 9780674996526. $24.00. Ian Johnston, G. H. R. Horsley (ed.), Galen: Method of Medicine. Volume II, Books 5-9. Loeb classical library 517. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2011. Pp. xxv, 541. ISBN 9780674996793. $24.00. Ian Johnston, G. H. R. Horsley (ed.), Galen: Method of Medicine. Volume III, Books 10-14. Loeb classical library, 518. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2011. Pp. xxiv, 567. ISBN 9780674996809. $24.00.

Reviewed by Vito Lorusso, niversität Hamburg – SFB 950 „Manuskriptkulturen in Asien, Afrika und Europa‟ (vito.lorusso@uni-hamburg.de)

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Galeno, Methodus medendi VI 2 (10,390,12-14 Kühn): "Non è possibile stabilire il numero di quanti sono morti in preda alle convulsioni, dopo essere finiti nelle mani guaritrici dei seguaci di Tessalo"; e X 4 (10,683,15-17 Kühn): "Quanto a me, per aver dato prova nei fatti di tutte queste pratiche terapeutiche,... sono stato chiamato taumaturgo da quelli che stavano dalla mia parte o dai miei avversari". Dichiarazioni di questo tipo costituiscono il filo rosso dell'accesa critica da parte di Galeno contro Tessalo e i medici metodici per tutti i quattordici libri del Metodo terapeutico. Opera non solo polemica, ma anche trattato scientifico e raccolta di notizie sulla prassi medica, il Metodo viene ora pubblicato, tradotto integralmente per la prima volta in lingua inglese e con testo greco a fronte, in tre volumi da I. Johnston e G. H. R. Horsley. Non si tratta di un'edizione critica, come gli autori fanno notare (vol. I, p. CVI s.), bensì di un lavoro divulgativo presso un pubblico di lettori interessati alla storia della medicina occidentale.

Gli autori riproducono sostanzialmente il testo greco di C. G. Kühn (Lipsia, 1825) con alcuni emendamenti ricavati sia dalla traduzione inglese di R. J. Hankinson per i primi due libri (Oxford 1991) sia dal codice di Londra, British Library Add. 6898 del sec. XII, e segnalati in brevi note a piè di pagina. In alcuni casi, tuttavia, la collazione del manoscritto londinese si rivela non del tutto accurata: a p. 35 del vol. I, per es., risulta dalla nota 25 che la lezione del manoscritto sarebbe ὅ μοι ὡς εἰ, lezione che viene corretta dagli editori in ὁμοίως εἰ. Il codice di Londra (f. 3v, ultima riga) legge in realtà ὅμοιον (breviat.) ὡς εἰ ed è questa poi la lezione giusta. Quanto alle lezioni derivate da Hankinson, farei notare, sulla base di collazioni da me condotte in vista dell'edizione critica, che i testimoni manoscritti utilizzati dallo studioso americano, i Par. gr. 2160 e 2171, sono discendenti del medesimo codice di Londra per il tramite di un altro suo apografo, il Laud. gr. 56 attualmente conservato a Oxford. Il Par. gr. 2171 inoltre è all'origine della tradizione greca a stampa.

Il lavoro di Johnston e Horsley si compone di Introduction (vol. I, pp. IX-CXXXVII), Bibliography (CXXXIX-CXLIV), Abbreviations (CXLV-CXLVI); ad esse segue la traduzione così ripartita nei tre volumi: libri 1-4 vol. I, libri 5-9 vol. II, libri 10-14 vol. III. In ciascuno dei volumi la traduzione è preceduta da una sinossi dei libri ivi contenuti che facilita l'orientamento del lettore.

Qualche appunto inoltre sull'introduzione. Nel capitolo 1, sulla vita di Galeno, mancano riferimenti ai nuovi dati biografici relativi soprattutto agli ultimi anni di vita, ora forniti dall'opuscolo De indolentia; di esso non si tiene conto nemmeno a p. XLVIII, dove si fa cenno al famoso incendio del tempio della Pace nel 192, dal quale il De indolentia, come noto, trae spunto. Nel capitolo 2, un resoconto dei medici precedenti e contemporanei ricordati nell'opera, sarebbe stato opportuno citare alla p. XLIV l'importante lavoro di K. Deichgräber, Die griechische Empirikerschule. Sammlung der Fragmente und Darstellung der Lehre, Berlin - Zürich 19652. Nel capitolo 3, sugli scritti del corpus Galenicum, non corrispondono al vero le notizie di p. L e della nota 72 riguardanti il primo e l'ultimo (rispetto all'anno di pubblicazione di questa traduzione) dei volumi apparsi nella collana berlinese del Corpus Medicorum Graecorum; in questa stessa sede sarebbe stato forse opportuno anche dare maggiore spazio alle acquisizioni del cosiddetto ʽnuovo Galenoʼ. Buoni invece i capitoli 4 e 5 sulla metodologia di Galeno e sul contenuto dello scritto ora tradotto, il cap. 6, un excursus sulla terminologia medica a confronto con l'uso moderno, e i capitoli 7 e 8 rispettivamente su lingua e stile e sui criteri adottati per il testo e la traduzione. I due capitoli finali dell'introduzione costituiscono altrettante rassegne lessicali su malattie e sintomi (cap. 9) e sui rimedi (cap. 10): esse, come pure il già citato excursus al capitolo 6, hanno il merito di rendere più fruibile il testo da parte del lettore moderno. Tale intento, del resto, non si limita alle sole pagine dell'introduzione, perché anche nella traduzione di alcuni passi dal libro 6, 8 e 10 si fa ricorso a tavole per illustrare meglio la procedura terapeutica adottata da Galeno.

La traduzione, per quel che può giudicare un non madrelingua inglese, appare accurata; i termini medici ancora in uso vengono opportunamente traslitterati, per es. "diapedesis", "ichor", "krasis". Le note alla traduzione forniscono le informazioni essenziali riguardanti i numerosi Realien del testo originale.

Per quanto riguarda il testo greco, il layout di J. - H. presenta il grosso vantaggio rispetto al Kühn della divisione in capoversi non numerati. Ciò consente di comprendere meglio l'articolazione del discorso di Galeno all'interno dei vari capitoli. In qualche caso, come è naturale, si potrebbero apportare ulteriori miglioramenti all'interpunzione: per es. a p. 132 del vol. I sarei dell'avviso di isolare con due trattini piuttosto che tra virgole tutta la sequenza incidentale da εἰ γὰρ ἐπεξίοιμι fino a ἐκέλευσα, diversamente da J. - H., i quali in questo caso ripropongono il testo secondo l'assetto di Kühn (10,84,15-16).

Chiudono l'opera un Index of names (III 539-546) e un General index (547-567), entrambi riferiti alla traduzione.

È questo un lavoro di cui tener conto per la futura edizione critica della Methodus medendi. Ad esso si può applicare la metafora delle strade d'Italia rese più agevoli da Traiano e usata da Galeno per precisare il proprio contributo alla terapia ippocratica (cfr. Methodus medendi IX 8 = 10,632-633 Kühn). In effetti, rispetto all'edizione di Kühn, la nuova traduzione rende ora la lettura di quest'opera galenica più accessibile anche ai non specialisti di medicina greca antica.

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Bruno Centrone (ed.), Studi sui Problemata physica aristotelici. Elenchos, 58. Napoli: Bibliopolis, 2011. Pp. 359. ISBN 9788870886085. €40.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Luca Gili, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (luca.gili.1987@gmail.com)

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Questo volume raccoglie nove saggi su quello che è forse 'lo scritto meno indagato e più trascurato del corpus aristotelicum' (p. 9): otto saggi sono scritti in italiano, uno in inglese.1 Il volume si apre con una prefazione (pp. 9-21) nella quale il curatore fa il punto sullo stato dell'arte intorno a quest'opera: Centrone ribadisce con decisione il carattere spurio dei Problemata, che ritiene possano essere stati composti nell'ambito delle ricerche del primo Peripato. L'importanza che l'opera rivestì nell'antichità, nel medioevo e nel rinascimento mi pare un'ottima motivazione per una rinnovata attenzione ai Problemata: questa pregevole raccolta di studi deve essere sicuramente salutata con favore.

Il primo contributo, a firma di Diana Quarantotto, affronta il testo dei Problemata con una prospettiva originale. Quarantotto osserva che vari προβλήματα (intesi come strutture argomentative) sono rintracciabili anche nel corpus aristotelicum; essi testimonierebbero la presenza di una struttura argomentativa 'orale' anche nelle opere autentiche. La studiosa evidenzia giustamente che l'unica definizione di πρόβλημα che si può rintracciare nel corpus si trova in Top. I, 11, 104b1-3; poiché i Topici spiegano come condurre una disputa, essi erano evidentemente connessi a una forma di filosofare in cui l'oralità aveva ancora una sua rilevanza. Tali strutture argomentative, prosegue la studiosa, si riscontrano anche nella Historia animalium e nel De generatione animalium(alle pp. 40-45 Quarantotto tratteggia utili tabelle, nelle quali individua passi delle opere summenzionate che vengono echeggiati e ripresi nei Problemata). La conclusione che la studiosa ricava da questa ricognizione è che 'la presenza di strutture di pensiero aurale in testi che (a differenza dei dialoghi di Platone) non mirano a imitare il dialogo sia particolarmente significativa, cioè rappresenti un segno ancora più indicativo della natura aurale dello stile linguistico-cognitivo di Aristotele' (p. 56). Lo studio di Quarantotto apre sicuramente prospettive interessanti: alcune strutture argomentative, descritte nei Topici, sono presenti nelle summenzionate opere biologiche e nei Problemata; l'ipotesi che tali 'strutture argomentative' siano 'aurali', mi pare ben difesa dalla studiosa.

Il contributo successivo di Angela Ulacco sviluppa una suggestione già avanzata da H. Flaschar nel suo commento ai Problemata, pubblicato nel 1962 nella collana aristotelica della casa editrice Akademie. Flaschar aveva osservato che esistono notevoli contiguità tra la sezione medica dei Problemata e il corpus hippocraticum. Ulacco, con finezza di analisi, osserva che tale 'materiale ippocratico' è 'integrato con una terminologia aristotelica, che, se in alcuni casi non ne muta gli orizzonti teorici, altre volte crea un vero e proprio slittamento di significato, che inserisce problemi nati in seno alla medicina in un contesto fisiologico di derivazione aristotelica' (p. 80).

Silvia Raffaelli analizza Probl. 886 b35-887 a1, porzione di testo in cui si parla di 'affezioni che hanno origine dalla verità' (τὰ ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας πάθη).2 Raffaelli osserva che l'espressione 'ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας' non occorre nel corpus aristotelicum. La studiosa conduce poi un'analisi sicuramente pregevole delle occorrenze di 'ἀληθές' e di 'ἀλήθεια' nel corpus (cfr. pp. 95-96), ma si esprime in modo che a me non risulta molto perspicuo. La studiosa parla di un 'contesto di tipo proposizionale', p. 96, in cui l'aggettivo 'ἀληθές' occorrerebbe, ma non sembra rendersi conto che questa scelta è esclusiva rispetto alla possibilità che tale aggettivo si dica anche di enunciati; non dico che l'interpretazione proposta sia sbagliata, ma mi pare che si sarebbe rivelato fecondo un confronto con l'importante monografia di Paolo Crivelli, Aristotle on Truth, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004:3 Raffaelli, sorprendentemente, non fa mai riferimento a questo lavoro. La tesi che la studiosa difende è che, mentre per Aristotele la vista è il senso più importante, per l'autore di Probl. 886 b35- 887 a1 le percezioni visive sono 'più lievi', e quindi 'questo pone sicuramente degli interrogativi circa l'effettiva riconducibilità o meno del testo in questione allo Stagirita' (p. 113). Mi chiedo se fosse davvero necessaria una così lunga discussione per dimostrare una tesi come questa, che mi pare piuttosto evidente.

Nel saggio successivo Fabio Acerbi affronta le sezioni XV e XVI dei Problemata, in cui si discutono questioni matematiche e fisiche. Acerbi si sofferma su analogie e differenze tra il lessico e gli argomenti proposti in questi problemi e il lessico e le strutture argomentative dei trattati antichi di matematica (in particolare, egli pone a confronto il lessico dei Problemata con il lessico euclideo). Nei Problemata l'ottica è considerata subordinata alla geometria, come già sosteneva Aristotele. Acerbi compie una serie di osservazioni pregevoli sulle sezioni più spiccatamente matematiche (ad esempio sull'uso di lettere denotative, sul fatto che le argomentazioni sono da 'classificare più come "mostrazioni" che come "dimostrazioni" '[p. 117], etc.).4

Simone G. Seminara affronta la porzione di testo tra 915 b36 e 916 a39, in cui ci si chiede a) perché gli uomini sproporzionati appaiano più grandi quando sono in gruppo; b) perché animali e piante crescano in lunghezza più che in larghezza; c) come bisogna intendere i termini 'anteriore' e 'posteriore'. A me pare che di questi tre προβλήματα quello che suscita maggiore interesse filosofico sia il terzo. Commentando quest'ultimo, Seminara compie un opportuno parallelo con Met.Δ, 11 (dove Aristotele parla di priorità e posteriorità) e fa un excursus sulla figura di Alcmeone di Crotone, filosofo menzionato nel πρόβλημα. Nella conclusione del saggio, Seminara rivede in più punti l'interpretazione di H. Flaschar (cfr. p. 174 n. 62), ponendo in dubbio la dipendenza – suggerita dallo studioso tedesco – dell'autore dei Problemata da Stratone di Lampsaco, per quel che riguarda la critica di quest'ultimo alla nozione di tempo, che Aristotele aveva elaborato nella Fisica.

Federico M. Petrucci dedica alle sezioni musicali dei Problemata un saggio molto corposo e ricco di informazioni: lo studioso ci presenta un Peripato che, nelle intenzioni esplicite dei suoi scolarchi Teofrasto e Stratone, intende rimanere fedele alle dottrine del Maestro, senza tuttavia rinunciare ad una recezione critica di esse. La sezione XI, dedicata al suono, è studiata con particolare rigore analitico da Petrucci, che ne sottolinea la 'coerenza peculiare' (p. 206), al di là di ripetizioni e di discrepanze – che sono quasi la cifra di quest'opera. La sezione XIX è più composita e si occupa di temi 'dalla musica alla storia dell'armonia' (pp. 210-211). Qui, 'lungi dall'essere un corpo omogeneo i problemi armonici rappresentano piuttosto la molteplicità e le differenziazioni degli interessi e dele prospettive teoriche del primo Peripato' (p. 238).

Il saggio di Laura M. Castelli è forse uno di quelli che ho maggiormente apprezzato di questa raccolta. Castelli mostra che la metodologia di ricerca dei Problemata non solo è analoga a quella esposta nei Topici, ma che si pone come obiettivo la risposta a quegli interrogativi fondamentali, propri di ciascuna indagine scientifica, che Aristotele aveva esposto in Post. An.B 1-2. La studiosa prende in esame i passi dei Problemata in cui si parla delle affezioni dell'anima (nel senso di affezioni transitorie, di disposizioni caratteriali permanenti e di disposizioni e attività intellettuali). Nei primi due casi la spiegazione materialista di questi fenomeni, quale ci è offerta dall'autore dei Problemata, sembra compatibile con quanto Aristotele aveva sostenuto al riguardo. Le attività intellettuali, invece, sono sì attività che non possono prescindere dal corpo, dal momento che rielaborano dati offerti dall'immaginazione, ma per lo Stagirita sono pure attività autonome, che non paiono del tutto riducibili alle caratteristiche somatiche, o alle condizioni climatiche e ambientali esterne. Non così per l'autore dei Problemata, il cui 'materialismo', suggerisce Castelli, potrebbe essere stato influenzato dagli sviluppi teorici del primo Peripato (in particolare dalla filosofia di Stratone).

Robert Mayhew affronta con cura e attenzione la sezione XXIX 13 dei Problemata, che è anche la più lunga di quest'opera. In questa discussione ci si chiede per quale motivo viga la consuetudine di accogliere la posizione della difesa di un imputato, qualora i giudici preposti a dirimere la sua causa si esprimano in ugual numero per la tesi della difesa e per quella dell'accusa. Questa questione nasce a partire da una legge del codice ateniese. Il contributo di Mayhew dimostra quindi anche un possesso di cognizioni storiche e culturali veramente notevoli. La tesi generale è che i dibattiti legali all'interno del Peripato si proponevano di comprendere le norme vigenti, piuttosto che suggerirne di nuove: una certa norma può in effetti essere letta come un 'long-standing endoxon' (p. 300), un'idea che trovo davvero stimolante e meritevole di essere sviluppata. Mayhew, che sta preparando una versione inglese dei Problemata per Loeb, mostra una padronanza non comune della sua materia in questo saggio davvero pregevole.

L'ultimo studio reca la firma di Bruno Centrone, a cui si deve anche la cura dell'intero volume. Centrone si concentra sul Problema XXX, nella cui prima sezione si affronta il tema della melanconia. Lo studioso rileva che l'autore dei Problemata offre una presentazione della melanconia decisamente diversa rispetto a quella rintracciabile nel corpus aristotelicum: Aristotele non sembra avere infatti una buona opinione della malinconia, che peraltro tratta come una disposizione dell'anima e del corpo (una disposizione che può essere di ostacolo nella deliberazione e dalla quale è difficile liberarsi); lo Stagirita non fa del malinconico un 'tipo umano', come invece fa l'autore dei Problemata, per il quale la malinconia è qualcosa di positivo, dal momento che è caratteristica di una personalità straordinaria. Come riassume Centrone, 'non è perfettamente chiaro quale sia per Aristotele [...] la condizione fisiologica associabile al μελαγκολικός, se 1) la prevalenza della bile nera o 2) la sua stessa presenza (essa, infatti, non è presente in tutti) o 3) la sua posizione in una certa regione del corpo (la regione cardiaca), o ancora 4) un'anomala mistione di freddo e caldo, principi della salute e della malattia, laddove nel Problema XXX si tratta chiaramente della prima ipotesi' (p. 312). In conclusione, l'autore dei Problemata si muove certo in una prospettiva aristotelica, ma si distanzia in più punti dal dettato aristotelico, soprattutto nella valutazione positiva della malinconia.

La cura editoriale del volume è sicuramente encomiabile (pochi i refusi: a p. 91, n. 3 'letteraria' mi pare debba essere sostituito con 'letterale'; a p. 100, n. 27 e a p. 351 si dà come luogo di edizione dell'editore Duckworth la città di Oxford, mentre il luogo corretto è London).

Sono presenti utili indici dei nomi antichi e moderni (manca però un indice dei passi citati).

In generale, si tratta di una raccolta di studi molto ben riuscita, che getta una nuova luce su un'opera poco studiata: i destinatari di quest'opera sono, evidentemente, gli specialisti di questo particolare settore di studi sull'aristotelismo. Come ho mostrato, la qualità dei saggi è varia, anche se mi sembra di poter dire che molti di questi lavori sono di ottima fattura.


Bruno Centrone, 'Prefazione', pp. 9-21
Diana Quarantotto, 'Il dialogo dell'anima (di Aristotele) con se stessa. I Problemata: l'indagine e l'opera', pp. 23-57
Angela Ulacco, 'Malattia e alterazione del calore naturale: medicina ippocratica e fisiologia aristotelica negli hosa iatrika e in altri Problemata pseudo-aristotelici', pp. 59-88
Silvia Raffaelli, 'Connessioni tra vista e ἀλήθεια in Aristotele: uno spunto tratto da Problemata physica VII (ΟΣΑ ΕΚ ΣΥΜΠΑΘΕΙΑΣ)', pp. 89-113
Fabio Acerbi, 'Problemata physica XV-XVI', pp. 115-142
Simone G. Seminara, 'Problemata physica XVII (ΟΣΑ ΠΕΡΙ ΕΜΨΥΧΑ)', pp. 143-174
Federico M. Petrucci, 'Una traccia della dialettica scolastica del primo Peripato: le sezioni musicali dei Problemata physica (XI e XIX)', pp. 239-274
Laura M. Castelli, 'Manifestazioni somatiche e fisiologia delle "affezioni dell'anima" nei Problemata aristotelici', pp. 239-274
Robert Mayhew, 'On Problemata XXIX 13: Peripatetic Legal Justice and the Case of Jury Ties', pp. 275- 307
Bruno Centrone, 'Μελαγχολικός in Aristotele e il Problema XXX 1', pp. 309-339
Bibliografia (a cura di Angela Ulacco), pp. 341-351
Indici, pp. 355-359


1.  L'indice del volume è riprodotto al termine di questa mia recensione.
2.  La traduzione riportata è di Silvia Raffaelli.
3.  Paolo Crivelli difende con ottimi argomenti la tesi secondo cui Aristotele sostenne che 'vero' e 'falso' si dicono di enunciati ('utterances').
4.  Su questo testo si veda ora anche R. Mayhew, 'The Title(s) of [Aristotle], Problemata 15', in CQ 62.1 (2012), pp. 179-183.

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Friday, July 27, 2012


Paul Curtis (ed.), Stesichoros's Geryoneis. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 333. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2011. Pp. xii, 201. ISBN 9789004207677. $127.00.

Reviewed by D. Thomas Benediktson, University of Tulsa (tom-benediktson@utulsa.edu)

Version at BMCR home site


Curtis provides us with an edition and translation of and a commentary upon the fragments of the Geryoneis as he reconstructs it. Only a very few possibly authentic but small fragments are omitted. A lengthy Introduction presents virtually all aspects of the author and work: biography of Stesichorus, the myth and cult of Geryon, Archaic Greece as relevant to the work, the dispute whether the work was performed as choral poetry (after extended discussion of the arguments Curtis concludes it was choral song for cult rather than monody and that Page's reconstruction is not solid), the language and meter of the work, the history of citation and description of the extant papyri, and the rationale for reconstruction of the Geryoneis. Text, apparatus criticus and translation appear together on the page as much as possible, with commentary following as a unit. Appendices provide texts and translations of Greek and Latin testimonia, followed by comparative material, texts (in Greek, Sanskrit and Iranian) again with translations. Finally, a full bibliography is followed by a concordance (Curtis' and Davies' numerations of the fragments) and indices.

The Greek text is conservative and thoroughly documented in apparatus and commentary. Information about the papyrus, based on Curtis' autopsy, is copious and makes a lasting contribution to study of the Geryoneis. Curtis is very sparing in his own conjectures.1 His translations are conservative, translating only what is fairly certain. The result is that the translation greatly aids a scholar trying to make sense of the Greek (probably Curtis' primary audience), but would not be a good read for a Greekless student trying to figure out what the poem was like. The apparatus and commentary are very full. Occasionally there are very thoughtful comments on literary issues, as for example the remarks on the "series of dactyls" in fragment 1 (page 103) or on parallel structure in Fragment 7 (page 122). There is also discussion interesting for its own sake, as for example on the use of prepositional dialectical forms (page 132).

I have a few minor criticisms. There seem to be intrusive apostrophes in the first word of line 3 of fragment 1 (page 73) and in the third word of line 10, column 2, of fragment 12 (page 84). There is inconsistency between the information in text, apparatus and commentary on fragment 6, line 1: the printed text is simply a dotted mu, the apparatus conservative, but the commentary speculative (pages 77 and 115). The Greek is remarkably clean throughout (although corrections need to made on page 47, line 9 (bis,, and on page 161, 17 lines from bottom), The modern language sections are not so carefully proofed.2 Curtis apparently uses subscripts when quoting a text edited with subscripts but uses adscripts when himself editing or where quoting a text with adscripts. Here consistency would be a virtue. On page 145, I am not sure why Aeschylus and Pindar are mentioned as examples of "6th century poetry." For testimonium 34 the translation runs past the Latin printed.

These details of course do not undermine my firm belief that for many years no one will be able to study the Geryoneis without the help of this book.


1.   For a rare example see fragment 19, line 1, where in the commentary a generous comment is made concerning Lobel's alternative conjecture (pages 91 and 163).
2.   For example: Abbreviations, line 21, read "Altertumswissenschaft"; page 28, note 115, line 6, read "roll"; page 58, last line, read "here it looks"; page 122, line 4, omit either "a" or "the"; page 129, line 21, read "emphasis"; page 168, 4 lines from bottom, read "in the archonship."

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Claire Holleran, April Pudsey (ed.), Demography and the Graeco-Roman World: New Insights and Approaches. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. ix, 215. ISBN 9781107010826. $95.00.

Reviewed by Timothy Doran, University of California at Berkeley (doran@berkeley.edu)

Version at BMCR home site


A culture war still tears at the Classics. One camp, the Literary Theorists, sees culture as independent of non-cultural forces, revels in truth's alleged elusiveness, distrusts science, and opines that the world is constructed of words. Another camp, the Social Scientists, utilizes models derived from economics, political science, and demography, and sees the world as composed of physical elements. The Literary Theorists find charts full of information incomprehensible and deplore the Social Scientists' reduction of reality to numbers and generalizations, suspecting that political bias lies behind much scientific enterprise. The Social Scientists ridicule the Literary Theorists' befuddlement at the alleged kaleidoscope of human culture and deplore postmodernism's rejection, and relegation to scare-quote status, of science, facts, and truth. And an older third camp, the Historical Positivists, dismisses both literary theory and social-science theory, working particularistically from surviving fragmentary evidence. Each group's only conceivable strategy is to produce scholarly work of as high a quality as possible to receive attention, readership, and praise in order to attract new graduate students into their factions, which will remain separate until or unless some presently inconceivable synthesis be achieved.

Happily for the Social Scientists in the Classics world, this latest book from their stable is sufficiently meritorious to impress readers of all persuasions—newcomers to ancient demography's position in the juncture of the social and biological sciences, scholars working outside the ancient Mediterranean, surely some Historical Positivists, and perhaps even a few Literary Theorists looking for something new.

The Introduction qualifies the editors' bold placement of "demography in its rightful position at the centre of studies of the ancient world" with an initial semi-recusatio specifying the multiple variables affecting the demographic behavior of historical populations and these populations' great diversity. Such a focus on specificity naturally risks the sort of infinite fragmentation visible in Purcell and Horden's The Corrupting Sea, in which no microregion is judged small enough for any generalization to hold. Fortunately, the editors also stress the common aspects of ancient Mediterranean populations' demographic behavior. They explain how age structure, gender ratios, migration, population size, osteological analysis, model life tables, and population dynamics can be used as tools for quantitative and qualitative analysis in all aspects of ancient history, including economic development, political participation, urbanization, military recruitment, marriage, cultural attitudes toward childbearing, household organization, and the cultural interactions of different populations or ethnic groups: exciting prospects indeed. The introduction then proceeds to survey the last several decades of work in ancient demography from Hopkins through Scheidel and onward, bestowing deserved praise on de Ligt and Northwood's recent edited population studies-centered volume on Roman history.1

The remaining chapters present either commentaries or case studies on how population studies illuminate ancient historical and cultural problems.

Extensive methodological cautions animate the first two essays.2 First, Neville Morley's "Demography and development in classical antiquity" presents a highly learned history of modern ideas cross-referencing economic development with population, from Hume, Godwin, and Malthus to Esther Boserup to current development studies, and then critiques demographic approaches limited to population size since more can be done. Morley's essay mostly limits itself to a status quaestionis: the conclusions of the essay itself are negative overall, surveying the debate and pointing out difficulties rather than offering much contribution. An essay offering a new, more unified, positive argument might have been preferable in this position.

Next, Ben Akrigg's essay "Demography and classical Athens" carefully analyzes the epistemological bases and reasoning behind the Athenian population size estimates of Beloch, Gomme, A.H.M. Jones, and particularly M.H. Hansen, criticizing Hansen for likening Classical Athenian population structure to that of the Roman Empire and noting that our poor empirical data for ancient Roman and Greek populations necessitate reliance upon comparative data and human biology. Why Akrigg phrases this as a negative (our poor data render our conclusions "baseless and inadequate") rather than a positive (our information and models are quite applicable to these periods) is curious. After eighteen pages, he finally gives positive suggestions: a new mortality table revealing Hansen's estimates as reasonable. The essay ends by asking fascinating questions like "did the ratio of young to old men affect perceptions of intergenerational conflict?" and "did the Athenians produce fewer children in an atmosphere of [wartime] gloom and pessimism, or did they experience a baby boom at the end of the war as immediate threats dissipated and new opportunities arose?" These might have served better at the essay's beginning, leaving finer-tuned specialist debates for its end.

Pudsey's substantial "Nuptiality and the demographic life cycle of the family in Roman Egypt" emphasizes the constantly changing composition of families in contrast to "snapshots" given in single census records and uses the same families' multiple census records (usefully presented to the reader) to narrate change more dynamically within individual households. Pudsey follows the work of, among others, Bagnall, Frier, Saller, Shaw, Scheidel, and theorists on the emergence of nuclear versus extended families, but more engagement with Sabine Hübner's recent work on incest in Roman Egypt might have been desirable.3

Saskia Hin's outstanding "Family matters: fertility and its constraints in Roman Italy" begins with a million-dollar question for the vexed issue of late Republican population. Was it more functional for impoverished Italian households to have many children, or to restrict fertility? Contra Brunt and several demographers, Hin argues against a rational-actor (in terms of intergenerational wealth flows) approach to fertility, employing evidence and clever models: Richerson and Boyd's model of biology-culture interaction.4 Roman funerary inscriptions, Juvenal and Cassius Dio, evidence of contraception, models of 'natural fertility,' elite fertility limitation, the impact of birth spacing and prolonged breastfeeding, and adaptive strategies to avoid wealth reduction.

Claire Taylor's "Migration and the demes of Attica" treats non-permanent internal migration within Attica, utilizing circular migration theory, deme decrees, slave manumission-inscriptions, grave markers, pinakia, material evidence at Hymettos and Atene, the usage of demotics, and historical texts to plot intra-Attica migration and assess its permanence, concluding that in terms of migration, "no strong town/country divide" existed for Attica/Athens and arguing that migration and lax deme registrations affected communal deme identity in Sounion. The constant migration of citizens within Attica, Taylor argues, invigorated deme structure rather than weakening it.

Christelle Fischer-Bouvet's "Counting the Greeks in Egypt: Immigration in the first century of Ptolemaic rule" halves previous estimates of early Hellenistic Greeks and Macedonians immigrating into and living in Egypt. Her estimates, based on openly-laid out assumptions, calculations, and evidence, re-interpret Ptolemaic militaries, Egyptian religion's popularity, intermarriage, and revolts in the final two centuries BC.

A useful contribution to the study of Roman poverty, Claire Holleran's "Migration and the urban economy of Rome" examines push and pull factors for migration into Rome and posits an extensive informal urban economy created by and for migrants, primarily in the construction trade, street hawking, scavenging, and prostitution. She sees large classes of structurally impoverished individuals in Rome existing sustainably yet miserably in excess of the city's employment opportunities.

"From the margins to the center stage: Some closing reflections on ancient historical demography" by Tim Parkin, whose 1992 book Demography and Roman Society introduced many to this field, provides the volume's coda. Parkin reviews general thoughts on ancient demography, defends the usage of model life tables suitably modified to better emphasize increased post-childhood mortality, and comments on the book's papers.

Overall this volume is very well-edited aside from one typo on page 115 ("temporarily" instead of "temporary"), an abnormal usage of "down" on page 162, line 5, and the volume's only repeated infelicity: the editors' and authors' frequent belaboring of the unsurprising fact that real life varies from generalized models. Otherwise this fine book is a splendid step forward in precisely the editors' goal, using population studies to better understand an extremely broad range of aspects of ancient Mediterranean life and culture.

What may we expect from this volume's implicit heralding of a social-scientific revolution in Classics? Several things. First, the examination of comparative evidence and plausible models allows us partial escape from the "representativity trap," that aporetic twilight zone whose enthusiasts assert that our knowledge of the ancient world is limited to what elite males have written, and that the reality that presumably inspired their representations is forever unattainable. Immense new vistas of potential research are opened: more analyses and fruitful theories can be brought to our texts, to our non-textual evidence, and to existing hypotheses, supplementing and challenging previous qualitative and poetic reconstructions of social phenomena, as other superb recent works have emphasized. 5

We may hope that authors and editors of volumes including material on Greek or Roman gender or family life, from infant-exposure through marriage through pronatalist discourses through maternal mortality through death rituals, will more closely attend to how demographic regimes structure these phenomena in a quite fundamental way. A long-needed reappraisal of Greco-Roman female roles and status is now possible along the lines sketched by Hin, finally providing a control for literary representations of, and polyvalent material evidence for, women's behavior; more importantly, it may finally muster comparative evidence to ask whether – given the necessary production of 5-7 children per woman in order to maintain population homeostasis – ancient Mediterranean female role limitations should still be attributed primarily to misogyny, given that the requirements of the pre-industrial high-mortality fertility regime are a simpler culprit. This demographic fact is central to women's existence in the pre-industrial world, and has received far less attention than it has deserved in existing published treatments on the lives of ancient Mediterranean women.

Finally, aside from imminent future work on the archaeogenetic end of demography permitting the study of ancient ethnicity to escape from the representativity trap, perhaps we may look forward to population thinking applied to broader cultural fields such as studies of ethnic conflict, the rhetoric on population found in tragedy and oratory, and most promisingly to the population-based models of cultural transmission in the work of Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson.

Much remains to be done to bring these to the Classics. Until then we can thank this volume's writers and editors for introducing population studies to a wider scholarly audience and paving a road for more.


1.   de Ligt, L. and S. J. Northwood (eds.), 2008. People, Land and Politics: Demographic Developments and the Transformation of Roman Italy, 300 BC – AD 14. Mnemosyne Supplement 303. Brill.
2.   The advisability of two entire cautionary essays here is uncertain: their caveats are well known to demographic- minded scholars, and newcomers are unlikely to find in them the sort of excitement that makes demography fascinating, as found e.g. in Massimo Livi-Bacci's introductory textbook from 2007, A Concise History of World Population. Second edition. Blackwell.
3.   Hübner, Sabine, 2007. " 'Brother-Sister' Marriage in Roman Egypt – A Curiosity of Humankind or a Widespread Family Strategy?" Journal of Roman Studies 97, 21-49.
4.   Richerson, Peter, and Robert Boyd, 2007. Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. University of Chicago Press.
5.   E.g., Scheidel, W., Morris, I. and Saller, R. P. (eds.) 2007, The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco- Roman World. Cambridge University Press.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Dorigen Caldwell, Lesley Caldwell (ed.), Rome: Continuing Encounters between Past and Present. Farnham; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011. Pp. 282. ISBN 9781409417620. $119.95.

Reviewed by Genevieve S. Gessert, Hood College (gessert@hood.edu)

Version at BMCR home site


"La Terza Roma si dilaterà sopra altri colli lungo le rive del fiume sacro sino alle spiagge del Tirreno." (Inscription on the Palazzo degli Uffici, EUR)

Scholars and tourists alike easily recognize the Ancient and Christian as the First and Second axes of identity for the Eternal City, but what qualifies as the Third? Rome has constantly interacted with and privileged its past, but with multiple phases to choose from, which past is to be embraced or rejected? Mussolini defined his Third Rome as a Fascist revivification and improvement upon the First /Ancient iteration, devoid of the corrupting influence of intervening periods and entities. But in actuality his definition rested upon the Risorgimento claim on the city as a modern secular capital, which Giuseppe Mazzini had also dubbed la Terza Roma.1 Before this formal coining of the term, cartographers and writers had also long sought to depict Rome as an ideal combination of pagan antiquity and Christian hegemony, in the hopes of defining the contemporary era as the next major phase in the city's history. For our own part: what version of Rome are we currently in, or are we perpetually searching for a Third? Should the first two Romes be recognized as closed contexts, as defined archaeological strata in palimpsest, or as co-existent and living membranes still evolving in the eyes of their inhabitants and interpreters? While many recent volumes by single authors have explored these questions of era and relation to the past,2 Rome: Continuing Encounters between Past and Present, edited by Dorigen Caldwell and Lesley Caldwell, makes a profound contribution to this subject, because it combines and juxtaposes innovative contributions on these questions from archaeologists, art historians, film scholars, and historians from the US and Europe.

Many of the essays in the volume deal with the aforementioned issues of compatibility of versions and definition of phases, but also with many other dichotomies, specifically of methodology. While some essays are distinctly archaeological (Goodson, Manacorda), focusing on the vertical exploration of the city and the implications of this technique, the core of the volume is topographical and/or cartographic. The volume includes many large-scale reproductions of maps and aerial photographs, which implement a variety of physical perspectives and technologies that are in themselves representative of particular historical outlooks. Thus Rome is in essence about urban plans, in every sense of the word: both the designs for future improvement and development, as well as the written or artistic representation of the city (past /present, ideal /actual). Another dichotomy may be perceived throughout the volume between personal and communal experiences of the city (the adjacent essays by Benci and Caldwell illustrate this concept well). But as a collection, these varying perspectives coalesce into important meditations on the exploration of identity, both individual and cultural, and on the concept of time as non-linear. For classicists and archaeologists, this volume accordingly provides an important alternate approach to chronology; though the essays are placed in a basic chronological framework beginning with the Middle Ages and continuing to the present, time is constantly "concertinaed" (Stirrup) and "layered" (Benci), or the past "conquered" (Kallis).

Following Dorigen Caldwell's informative introduction, Caroline Goodson presents a revision to the conventional interpretation of early Medieval architecture as a deliberate break with the ancient past. With a close look at several well-known structures around the Forum Romanum, Goodson characterizes this transitional period as one of measured continuity. Late-antique facades were preserved to maintain urban monumentality, and ancient materials were reused, not to efface their pagan function, but to preserve their aesthetic impact. These tactics served both to preserve the loci of formative events, such as martyrdoms, and to allow the ancient edifices to witness cultural change and thus emerge as monuments "intrinsic to early medieval culture" (30) in their own right. This simultaneous collapse and expansion of time is also convincingly explained in Emma Stirrup's essay on the Altar of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (Chapter 3). Here the placement and veneration of Stefano Maderno's statue of the saint not only makes present Cecilia's martyrdom and the history of her cult, but reactivates the process of archaeological discovery and alludes to the promise of future salvation for the faithful.

The essays by Jessica Maier (Chapter 2) and Mario Bevilacqua (Chapter 4) take up the cartographic theme of the core of the volume, examining maps and large-scale images of the city in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries respectively. In both periods cartographers and urban planners grappled with the synchronic depiction of the First and Second Rome alongside the vision for the modern city. Maps created during these periods were a complex combination of archaeological reconstruction and wishful thinking for the future, conveying their ideology through both subtle details and overall effect. For example, Maier observes that several 16th-century maps depicted the city from the orientation of the Vatican, with St. Peter's rendered in detailed perspective or plan in the lower left corner of each. At the same time, the overall impact of these heavily labeled and minutely decorated maps is multi-historical abundance, increasingly framed and parsed by both modern urbanism and cartographic rendering. The plans analyzed in Bevilacqua's chapter resulted from a more modern sense of engineering and demographics. The urban planners of the eighteenth century saw Rome as representative of a hierarchical society and administration, both in its existing features and in their designs for its future, and thus were some of the first to envision "una nuova Roma". Some fruits of these aesthetic and practical projects are still visible as major monuments of Rome today (most notably the Trevi Fountain of 1732). Yet in terms of overall strategies these innovators contended with the same complications that the earlier cartographers and later planners did – the idiosyncratic presence of antiquity and the Church – in addition to a "polycentric topography… of papal nobility and princely aristocracy." (93) Thus, their visions ultimately just contributed to the patchwork.

Terry Kirk (Chapter 5) and Aristotle Kallis (Chapter 6) focus on the architecture and urban planning of the period between the unification of Italy and World War II, the period in which the question of the Third Rome and its identifying topography came most explicitly to the fore. In many ways Kirk's chapter links back with Goodson's and the concept of early medieval 'facadism,' since Rome as the capital of the newly unified Italy was portrayed as undergoing a cultural change similar to that of the early Christian city. In the first decades of the republic, facades and montages were used to transform existing structures into emblems of the new regime; these ephemeral projects tested a new fusion of ancient and modern that would find permanent form in structures such as the Vittoriano and the Palazzo di Giustizia on Piazza Cavour. Kallis explores a similar yet more starkly strategic relationship with the past in his chapter on Via della Conciliazione. Though many contemporaries criticized Il Duce for his concessions to the Vatican in the Lateran Pacts of 1929, this architectural project overseen by Marcello Piacentini can actually be understood as a conquest of papal space, a conduit of Fascist-style antiquity into the heart of the Second Rome. The singular drawback of Rome is the absence of illustrations in Kallis' fascinating essay; the numerous maps and aerial views in the other chapters invite comparison with the conquest and idealization of space in Fascist plans. 3

Modern views of Rome, particularly through the filmmaker's lens, are the major theme of the chapters by Jacopo Benci (Chapter 7) and Lesley Caldwell (Chapter 8). Benci meticulously analyzes the connections between the actual places Pier Paolo Pasolini inhabited, from Monteverde Vecchio to EUR, and Pasolini's depiction of the city in prose, poetry, and film. Benci's description of Pasolini's methodology has the distinct echo of an archaeological survey: "The process of walking, of exploring urban margins step by step, of engaging 'on site' with its diverse, contradictory aspects, was the essence of Pasolini's understanding of Rome." (178) This connection with archaeology and its embrace of the past is all the more fascinating for the fact that Pasolini consistently "turned his back" on ancient Rome in his creation of a "wholly modern" city. (156) Significantly, Benci also makes use of archival aerial photographs to illustrate the neighborhoods of Pasolini's lifetime, which provides a notable technological juxtaposition with the earlier cartographic chapters. Lesley Caldwell focuses her chapter on the cinematic characterization of an iconic Roman monument with multiple associations: the Piazza Vittorio. In her examination of four post-war films by Italian directors, Caldwell points to the crux of the matter for any artist or scholar working on Rome: the city itself is a protagonist, with certain expected qualities. "[A] city's extra-diegetic status is a conditioning aspect of any narrative that depends upon its diegetic use, precisely because its actuality makes its diegetic use an already highly inflected one." (203) In creating Rome, a filmmaker must take into account all subjectivities to recreate a Rome that is recognizable to the contemporary audience, even at the cost of subordinating its concurrent use and meaning.

The volume closes with a valuable essay by Daniele Manacorda on the many practical issues facing a historical city. Summarizing the history of urban archaeology and planning in Rome since antiquity, Manacorda underscores the basic challenges facing tourists, scholars, and cultural administrators alike. In the end, the motivation in studying and preserving Rome should be "the desire to know and understand the whole of history," (217) including its creation in the present.

Rome: Continuing Encounters between Past and Present ultimately recalls the folk story of the seven blind men and the elephant:4 each author uses his/her particular experience and skills to create a metaphorical understanding of an essential and defining component of the whole. While the components standing alone might not provide a complete and accurate picture of the beast that is Rome, each essay reveals a level of nuance and texture impossible in a volume by a single author. Caldwell and Caldwell's assembling of these interdisciplinary interpretations of the city creates a rich and layered collage that is tantalizing and necessarily incomplete. Though we may recognize Rome for what it is – a city of many versions coexistent and ever-interacting – we remain blind men, using our scholarly perceptions to recognize and reveal one nuance at a time even as they shift beneath our fingers. This volume both gives comprehensive form to many significant details of the city and illuminates the path for further exploration.


1.   F. Chabod, Italian Foreign Policy: The Statecraft of the Founders. Trans. William McCuaig. (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1996) et al.
2.   Most notably R. Krauthimer, Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1308. (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1980); C. Hibbert, Rome: The Biography of a City. (London: Viking, 1985); C. Edwards, Roman Presences: Receptions of Rome in European Culture 1789-1945. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999); B. Painter, Mussolini's Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); see also D. Caldwell's introduction for additional bibliography.
3.   See I. Insolera, Roma fascista: Nelle fotografie dell'Istituto Luce (Rome: Editori Riuniti and Istituto Luce, 2001) for photographs of the project, and M. Piacentini and A. Spaccarelli, "Dal Ponte Elio a S. Pietro," Capitolium 12.1 (1937) 5-26 for plans.
4.   Among the many versions of the story are "The Elephant in the Dark" by Rumi, "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe, and Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young (Scholastic, 1992).

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