Sunday, September 30, 2012


Claudio De Stefani (ed.), Galeni, De differentiis febrium libri duo arabice conversi. Altera, 1. Pisa; Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2011. Pp. 103. ISBN 9788862273787. €34.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Adam C. McCollum, Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Galen penned his book on different kinds of fevers, which the editor calls "a theoretico-diagnostic work dedicated to fevers" (13), during his second Roman period (168-216/7 [?]), probably in 174 or perhaps early in 175. It is arranged in two books with fourteen and eighteen sections respectively. While there are a number of Greek manuscripts in which the work has been preserved, it is still only in Kühn's edition of Galen's work (vol. 7 [Leipzig, 1824]) that one finds a printed version of the text; there has still been no proper edition of the text "realized according to modern criteria" (13). In addition to the Arabic version dealt with in this volume, there are also Latin translations, none of which have been edited.

The Arabic translation (Aṣnāf al-ḥummayāt) is the handiwork of the famous ninth-century Greek-Syriac- Arabic translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq. Fortunately for those interested in Greek-Syriac-Arabic translations, in particular translations of Galen into those last two languages, Ḥunayn composed an extant "letter" (Risāla) on his involvement with Galen-translations and it survived.1 In § 17 of the Risāla, Ḥunayn explicitly mentions Galen's De differentiis febrium. After briefly describing the work, he says:

Sergius [of Rēš ʿAynā] translated this book [into Syriac], not admirably, and I first translated it for Ǧibrīl ibn Boḫtīšōʿ when I was young, and this was the first book of Galen's I translated into Syriac. Then, after I was older, I examined it and found some shortcomings in it, so I corrected it with care and improved it, since I wanted a copy for my son. I translated it again, [this time] into Arabic, for Abū 'l-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn Mūsá.

As De Stefani notes (14), it is not clear, either from these remarks of Ḥunayn or from the character of the Arabic translation itself, whether the Arabic version we have is a translation directly from Greek, from Syriac, or (I would add) a more complex basis of both Greek and Syriac, in which case Ḥunayn may have worked mainly from his Syriac text, but made even further alterations inspired by the Greek at hand. Nevertheless, since he does not find any conspicuous hallmarks of a Syriac basis for the Arabic translation, De Stefani takes Greek as the practical basis of the Arabic version here edited.

The so-called "School of Ḥunayn" — which includes Hunayn, his nephew Ḥubayš and his son Isḥāq — is the best- known group of translators in the Greek(-Syriac)-Arabic translation movement, and scholars have accordingly devoted much scrutiny to translated texts attributed to it. The earliest significant work was that of Gotthelf Bergsträsser (Ḥunain ibn Isḥāq und seine Schule, Leiden, 1913), who identified a set of criteria to determine the translation styles of the various members of Hunayn's "School." As De Stefani notes (26), Bergsträsser's criteria of translation style highlight a number of features that, based on them alone, might suggest attribution to Ḥubayš and not to Ḥunayn. These include pleonastic expressions, the use of after certain adverbial accusatives, verbal periphrasis for Greek prepositions as the first elements of compound nouns and verbs, and doublets (i.e., two roughly synonymous Arabic terms for one in Greek). Of this last category the editor supplies a complete (it seems) and very useful list of examples from the text, together, of course, with the Greek. Greek-Syriac translators (including Sergius of Rēš ʿAynā) had earlier employed this technique and so do other Greek-Arabic translators (including Ḥunayn), but it is a more notably manifest phenomenon in the work of Ḥubayš. The Arabic translation, however, also shows marks of Ḥunayn's style distinct from that of Ḥubayš (28-29). So what do we make, in terms of attribution, of these stylistic testimonies characteristic of certain translators? It is hard not to agree with De Stefani when he points out that recent work on comparative translation technique has lessened the weight of importance formerly accorded to such evidence for questions of attribution to this or that translator. Bergsträsser was working with a more limited corpus than is now available, so, while his remarks on criteria of translation style remain useful, scholars should employ them cum grano salis.

As the author states in the preface, his work on the text began with the intention of offering a possible evaluation of readings in the Greek text, with which the author had also been occupied, but he then recognized the need for closer attention to the Arabic text in and for itself. Matthias Wernhard, a student of Rainer Degen, happened also at the time to have been working on the text, and upon contact from De Stefani he sent him some of his work. Wernhard's dissertation, Galen: Über die Arten der Fieber in der arabischen Version des Ḥunain Ibn Isḥāq: Edition und Übersetzung is available online at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Library site, and De Stefani's own provisional edition of the Arabic version appeared online in 2004 at the Studi di Eikasmós Online.

The manuscripts on which this edition is based are five: Brit. Mus. Or. 6670.3, Escurial 797.1, Escurial 849.3, Escurial 860.4, and Teheran Maǧlis 6410.1, all of which De Stefani examined in microfilm, with the exception of the Brit. Mus. manuscript (the earliest copy, dated 1184 CE), which he studied through autopsy. The editor gives details for each manuscript in a few lines, but with reference to further descriptions elsewhere. The only manuscript undated is Escurial 860; the last dated manuscript is the one from Iran, from 1348/9 or before. There are twelve errors common to all the manuscripts, but several other mistakes mark out the four later manuscripts from that of the Brit. Mus., which itself has a number of mistakes separating it from the other four. This "tradizione bipartita" (23) which the editor detected convinced him to give the greatest attention to the Brit. Mus. copy.

The text is accompanied by a single apparatus criticus which combines (in Latin) both the textual matter one expects and on occasion literary and stylistic references, giving close parallels in other Arabic medical texts and references to Bergsträsser's translation-style criteria referred to above. The editor has represented more fully than is perhaps normal vowels and diacritic marks, both those with manuscript support and those without; for example, the commonly occurring word "fever" (ḥummá) is given in his edition with the šadda, even though this sign is not necessarily so given in the manuscripts, generally speaking. Because he has been explicit about his editorial practices (§ 9 of the introduction, pp. 23-24), we cannot easily fault him. He has also regularly corrected the writing (or lack of writing) of the hamza; this is not an unusual editorial practice, but it can reinforce a false idea of literary Arabic as being more uniform and regular, even in its orthography, that it really is.

The book itself is well made and sturdy, even though it is paperback; there is, in fact, a durable dustcover that fits around the thick cardboard cover itself. The Arabic font is in its shape easy to read and elegant, but the occasionally supplied vowel marks on top of the consonants (i.e. a, an, u, un) really sit too high and encroach on the area properly belonging to the line above. In addition, the font's size is too small and there are too many words per line for comfortable reading, something I have noticed in another Arabic edition from the same publisher: around eighteen words per line. By contrast, the average word-to-line ratio of four other Arabic editions I pulled from my shelf is about 12. I noticed a single typo: on p. 33, in the spelling out of the reference to Al-Rāzī's Kitāb al-ḥāwī fī al-ṭibb, the word Ḥāwī is missing the macron on the a.

De Stefani has done a service to those scholars interested in Arabic medical tradition — I use "Arabic" here simply as a linguistic descriptor; in any case, naming these texts "Islamic" captures only part of the scholarly activity that produced them — and the more general transmission of Greek literature and learning to Syriac and Arabic: we have here another text, well edited, that will become grist for their mill. It might have been yet more useful with the addition of an index verborum to conclude the volume. While the critical text itself, of course, will only be of real use to scholars with Arabic, the editor's introduction will at the least give other readers a clear picture of this particular text, the witnesses to it, and its Nachleben, as well as some general hints as to the work of Ḥunayn and those associated with him.

Table of Contents

Prefazione 11-12
Introduzione 13-30
Ḥunain e il De differentiis febrium
La tradizione manoscritta
La bipartizione della tradizione
Il gruppo S1 S2 S3
La contaminazione e gli scoli di Ḥunain
Problemi stomatici: i codici S1 e M
Altri casi dubbi della recensio
Conclusioni e criteri editoriali
Le citazioni di ar-Rāzī
Alcune caratteristiche della versione araba
La paternità della traduzione
Dopo Ḥunain: brevi cenni sulla fortuna
Bibliografia 30-32
Conspectus codicum 33-34
Galeni De differentiis febrium 35-103


1.   The Risāla was first edited (and translated) in 1925 by Gotthelf Bergsträsser; an improved edition is due to appear shortly from John Lamoreaux.

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Marcello Spanu, The Theatre of Diokaisareia. Diokaisareia in Kilikien: ergebnisse des Surveys 2001-2006, Bd 2. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2011. Pp. x, 134; 58 p. of plates. ISBN 9783110222210. $180.00.

Reviewed by Laurent Tholbecq, Université Libre de Bruxelles – ULB (

Version at BMCR home site


Cet ouvrage constitue la première étude architecturale du théâtre romain de Diokaisareia (Uzuncaburç), cité de Cilicie Trachée abritant, à 1200 m d'altitude, le célèbre sanctuaire de Zeus Olbios. Fruit d'une unique campagne de relevés effectuée en 2003 en marge des travaux menés sur le site par une équipe allemande (dir. Detlev Wannagat et Kai Trampedach), cet excellent travail succède à un dégagement partiel opéré en 1993 par les services du musée de Silifke et resté inédit. Marcello Spanu (Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo) livre ici une documentation nouvelle utile à tous ceux qui s'intéressent aux théâtres romains et au décor architectural d'Asie Mineure ; dans la mesure où le bâtiment de scène est dédicacé en 164/165, il constitue un jalon important de l'analyse du décor provincial d'époque antonine. L'ouvrage ouvre par ailleurs d'intéressantes discussions relatives à l'articulation topographique et fonctionnelle existant entre le théâtre et le sanctuaire de Zeus Olbios, au développement urbanistique du site ou à la construction simultanée de monuments de spectacles dans d'autres villes de Cilicie, en particulier à Elaiussa-Sebaste. Rédigé avec clarté et beaucoup de prudence, le travail de Marcello Spanu contribue de manière essentielle à notre connaissance de l'architecture monumentale romaine de cette région méconnue de l'Asie Mineure.

Une fois posées les remarques préliminaires relatives au contexte institutionnel de l'intervention et au vocabulaire descriptif (« Preface » et « Introductory remarks »), l'auteur s'attache à situer le monument étudié dans son contexte (ch. 1 « Urban layout », p. 4-6) avant d'exploiter les informations anciennes livrées par les voyageurs (ch. 2 « Earlier works on the theatre », p. 7-11). Le cadre ainsi posé, Marcello Spanu entreprend son analyse par une description minutieuse des vestiges visibles (ch. 3 « Description of the architectural evidence », p. 12-26). Le théâtre, de taille moyenne (62,92 m de diamètre), est adossé à une pente naturelle de 29° ; il présente un plan très légèrement outrepassé (cf. la restitution fig. 54, mais le dégagement complet de l'édifice permettra peut-être de préciser cette proposition) dont la morphologie générale se rapproche néanmoins des formules romaines occidentales. La description est aussi précise que possible et profite des dégagements partiels réalisés en 1993 ; les parties latérales de la cavea restent cependant invisibles de même que certains secteurs de la cavea partiellement occultés par des vestiges de constructions d'époque ottomane ; l'orchestra n'a pas été dégagée, sinon dans un sondage extrêmement limité pratiqué contre un segment du balteus. Marcello Spanu signale la présence d'inscriptions grecques sur le filet supérieur de plusieurs sièges (p. 18). Elles restent malheureusement inédites, ce qui est d'autant plus regrettable qu'elles auraient pu livrer quelques informations sur les spectateurs et partant sur la nature des événements qui s'y déroulaient, festivals religieux et/ou assemblées politiques.

Cette description est suivie par le catalogue des fragments architecturaux provenant de la scène et de son bâtiment associé (ch. 4 « Architectural elements of the scaena : catalogue », p. 27-75). La scène est peu élevée (1,19 m), large de 39 m environ et relativement profonde (ca. 4 m). Le bâtiment de scène est rectiligne, hypothétiquement pourvu de cinq portes et animé, comme à Sagalassos et à Elaioussa-Sebaste, par un ordre corinthien unique – et non double ou triple – constitué de couples de colonnes libres sur podiums indépendants. L'entablement des deux groupes qui flanquent la valva regia est incurvé, affectant ainsi l'aspect de deux niches. Le matériau employé est un calcaire local, à l'exception de trois chapiteaux, d'une demi-douzaine de bases et d'une vingtaine de futs de colonnes de marbre. La description des blocs est précise sans être fastidieuse, soutenue par des planches photographiques de manipulation aisée et des relevés de blocs. Ces derniers sont parfois partiels dans la mesure où les fragments n'ont pas été déplacés, et par conséquent publiés dans des états de finition variés (du croquis au trait au rendu au point des traces de taille). L'auteur profite de son catalogue descriptif pour publier une dédicace grecque à ma connaissance inédite retrouvée sur un socle de statue dans le secteur de la scène (p. 72, bloc 001, fig. 48, pl. 45.1-2).

Le chapitre suivant constitue une analyse détaillée du décor architectural du théâtre (ch. 5 « Architectural elements of the scaena frons », p. 76-87). Considérant que le bâtiment et son décor appartiennent à une phase constructive unique – et la position de l'auteur a changé sur ce point depuis un article publié en 2003 (p. 76, note 74) –, Marcello Spanu considère que les éléments de décor de marbre importé ont servi de modèle aux sculpteurs chargés de mettre en œuvre le programme décoratif du bâtiment dans un calcaire local (en dépit de son aspect, les analyses isotopiques indiquent que ce marbre ne provient pas du Proconnèse, cf. l'annexe II). D'un point de vue stylistique, les chapiteaux reflètent des évolutions propres à l'époque tardo-antonine, et constituent un jalon remarquable entre les nouveautés introduites sous Hadrien et le développement d'un canon proprement sévérien. De leur côté, les architraves frises présentent en partie supérieure un registre profilé en S décoré de rang de flûtes et de feuilles d'acanthes, décor dans lequel M. Spanu reconnaît une signature proprement cilicienne. Dans la mesure où les tendances décoratives identifiées dans ce bâtiment sont partagées par d'autres sites de la région, l'auteur postule l'existence d'une école locale. Ses modèles exogènes seraient à rechercher en Pamphylie et en Pisidie plutôt qu'en Syrie, cette dernière position ayant été défendue par différents auteurs (p. 86 et note 152).1

Sur base de ces éléments descriptifs et analytiques, Marcello Spanu revient dans un riche chapitre de synthèse sur la restitution graphique du monument, introduisant là les données de typologie comparative, en Asie Mineure et en Cilicie en particulier (ch. 6 « Architectural reconstruction of the monument : hypotheses and comparisons », p. 88- 110). Il justifie ainsi un certain nombre de choix (par ex. par probabilité de symétries), parfois confortés par des parallèles régionaux (ainsi par exemple du renvoi au théâtre de Hierapolis Kastabalda pour l'aditus en L ouvrant dans les analemmata de part et d'autre du bâtiment de scène). Marcello Spanu revient ensuite sur la loge axiale et sur ses parallèles micro-asiatiques, suggérant d'y voir un emplacement réservé aux autorités religieuses du temple de Zeus Olbios, plutôt qu'à une hypothétique autorité romaine régionale, proposition séduisante qui paraît confortée par des découvertes épigraphiques ignorées par M. Spanu.2 Marcello Spanu avance ensuite, sur base du relevé précis des points d'ancrages distribués dans la cavea, des solutions inédites de restitution du système de maintien du velum. Les restitutions de l'orchestra et du bâtiment de scène sont discutées ; la forme du théâtre exclut, en dépit de la date tardive de construction, l'organisation de venationes et munera. En l'état, le décor statuaire est inconnu, à l'exception de deux Nikai. La dédicace du théâtre, inscrite sur une architrave frise dont ne subsiste qu'un bon tiers signalant deux titres Armeniacus, est replacée à titre d'hypothèse au dessus de la valva regia. Au terme d'une étude typologique recourant à en particulier aux théâtres d'Aspendos et d'Elaioussa-Sebaste, M. Spanu considère que le monument présente un caractère hybride, directement influencé par la conception occidentale du théâtre, en dépit d'un certain nombre de caractéristiques proprement micro-asiatique (comme les cinq portes, qui sont en réalité supposées). Les aspects constructifs sont rapidement traités.

L'ouvrage se termine sur un bref chapitre relatif à l'implantation topographique du théâtre (ch.7 « The Monument and the city » p. 111-119). Il débute par une tentative de calcul de capacité du théâtre, évalué à 3361 sièges, capacité relativement importante pour une agglomération somme toute petite (d'autant qu'Olba toute proche possédait son propre théâtre) mais qui pourrait s'expliquer par la nécessité d'accueillir des foules importantes dans le cadre de festivals religieux. Suit une réflexion innovante relative à la topographie du site. Si la compréhension des circulations aux alentours du théâtre est grevée par l'absence de fouilles, quelques propositions sont néanmoins avancées. La ville présente deux grilles urbaines, le théâtre étant construit à proximité du temple de Zeus mais sur une trame désaxée. Sans doute s'agissait-il simplement, comme à Hiérapolis par exemple, d'utiliser l'orientation naturelle d'une pente disponible au cœur de la ville. M. Spanu insiste donc sur la relation topographique existant néanmoins entre le théâtre et le temple de Zeus Olbios, et postule l'existence d'un lien organique entre les propylées décentrés du temenos du temple et l'aditus occidental du théâtre. Le sommet de la cavea paraissant par ailleurs détruit par l'installation d'une rue à portiques alignée sur le temenos du temple (le vomitorium central paraît condamné, mais il faudrait fouiller pour s'assurer que ce portique a bel et bien existé), on tiendrait un élément de chronologie relative de la topographie urbaine, la monumentalisation de ce segment de rue étant a priori postérieure à l'époque antonine. Le site se serait donc développé autour du temple de Zeus, noyau doté d'un temenos définissant une grille urbaine intégrant un certain nombre de constructions publiques (nymphée, Tychaion) ; un théâtre lui est tardivement adjoint et les rues dotées alors de portiques monumentaux.

Le livre se clôture par deux annexes « Appendix I, Methodological aspects of the survey » (p. 121-123) et « Appendix II, Archaeometric analyses of marbles in the theatre of Diokaisareia » (p. 124-126), suivies d'un résumé en langue turque. La publication est complétée par onze relevés dépliables couleur (34 x 54 cm), du relevé en plan et d'une coupe axiale sur deux plans indépendants (50 x 60 cm).

On louera la publication de cet excellent travail qui livre une documentation de première main établie avec soin ; l'analyse de Marcello Spanu, à la fois prudente et riche, contribue à cerner l'originalité d'une école architecturale cilicienne d'époque impériale et augure de beaux développements futurs.


1.   Sans nier la possibilité d'un tel processus, on introduira ici une petite réserve : certes, Diokaisareia se situe en Cilicie Trachée et non sur la plaine côtière sans doute plus ouverte à la Syrie. Ceci étant, la connaissance du décor architectural syrien d'époque impériale est trop lacunaire pour qu'on puisse se prononcer : on ignore tout du décor d'Antioche et guère plus du décor architectural des grands sites urbains syriens qui n'ont pas été systématiquement étudiés (Cyrrhus et Apamée par exemple, pour nous limiter à l'arrière-pays d'Antioche), Baalbek constituant par nature un cas exceptionnel. Sans doute est-il par conséquent trop tôt pour trancher.
2.   On pourrait en effet verser au dossier du théâtre la dédicace au IIe s. d'une statue retrouvée « à proximité du théâtre », inscription publiée naguère par G. Dagron et D. Feissel, qui signale un gymnasiarque, plusieurs fois grand prêtre (Inscriptions de Cilicie, Paris, 1987, p. 37-38, n°13, pl. VII = SEG 1987, 1296) et peut-être aussi celle de Papirianos, dit Amachios, prêtre de Dionysos, retrouvée dans le même secteur (E.L. Hicks, Inscriptions from Western Cilicia, JHS 12, 1891, n°56).

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B. Richard Page, Aaron D. Rubin (ed.), Studies in Classical Linguistics in Honor of Philip Baldi. Amsterdam studies in classical philology, 17. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2010. Pp. xxi, 168. ISBN 9789004188662. $118.00.

Reviewed by Todd Clary, Concordia University, Montreal (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Studies in Classical Linguistics in Honor of Philip Baldi is a slim collection of mostly short articles held together by a common thread of predominantly Latin linguistic inquiry focused on specific questions, like the semantic evolution of a particular word. Of the volume's fourteen contributions, there is one article on Greek, one on Etruscan, and one on Proto-Indo-European nominal morphology. The remaining eleven articles focus on Latin linguistics. Within this focus on Latin, however, there is much variety. The researchers draw data from widely divergent time periods, from Old to Medieval Latin. Some use comparative evidence, others rely exclusively on internal data. Though the articles vary in the rigor of their methodology and commensurate success and plausibility of their conclusions, the majority make very thorough and convincing arguments, arguments that others working within that specific area of inquiry will find interesting and important.

The only article in the book focused on Greek linguistics is the first entry, a short excursus by Daniel Berman on the semantics of two words for "water source", κρήνη and πηγή, in Aeschylus. Berman does not add much to our understanding of κρήνη, perhaps because it is scantily attested in Aeschylus. He merely suggests that in its most secure attestation in Aeschylus it may be a proper name for Dirce, the Theban spring. For πηγή, on the other hand, Berman argues that the standard lexical interpretation of the word should be altered: whereas LSJ says that πηγή means primarily "running water", and secondarily "spring", Berman would switch the primary meaning to "spring", and do away with the "running water" definition altogether. This point was made by R.E. Wycherly already in 1937; 1 Berman's contribution is to show how Aeschylus metaphorically expanded the meaning of the word from "water source" to "source" of various things, including tears, (Agamemnon 888), and silver (Persians 240). These extensions definitely make more sense starting with a basic definition of πηγή as "spring".

In the second essay Pierluigi Cuzzolin investigates the semantic nuances of the Latin adverb obviam in combination with verbs of motion but does not present the evidence most relevant to its main argument. Cuzzolin himself describes the piece as a "short survey of the examples in which the adverb obviam occurs with the verbs ire and venire in Plautus' comedies" (19). But of the 21 passages discussed in the article none features the phrase obviam venire in Plautus, and only one features obviam ire. Cuzzolin makes the potentially interesting observation that the expressions obviam ire and obviam venire entail that two people are moving toward each other, and that they must be facing each other, but six of his examples actually feature a pre-positioned verb plus obviam, like obviam obicitur, and one wonders if it might not be the doubling up of prepositions that gives rise to the face-to-face semantics.

Next, Pietro Dini contributes an informative and insightful entry on Venceslaus Agrippa's (1525-1597) conception of Lithuanian as a daughter language of Latin. Agrippa asserted that Lithuanian was a descendant of Latin once subject to what he called "great shadows" (magnas tenebras) of Barbarian influence. Dini points out that Agrippa's views on Lithuanian amount to a quite progressive conception of diachronic linguistic change at a time when other linguists were comparing Lithuanian and Latin based on synchronic models. Hence, Agrippa made an important contribution to the rise of the notion of historical linguistics.

The book's fourth entry, by Paul Harvey, is a well-argued clarification of the semantics of two Latin words for plant pestilence: robigo and caniculae. These words occur as agents harmful to plants in manuscripts of the Agrimensores (ca. 120-79 BCE), and later in Latin translations of Psalm 77 (78): 46. Harvey argues that caniculae, based on its relation to canicula "the dog star", refers to a white powdery fungus attacking plants in the summer when Sirius appears in the sky, and that robigo, based on its derivation from robigo "rust", refers to the appropriately colored pre-flight stage of locusts commonly attacking plant leaves in temperate climates. Harvey also points out that St. Jerome correctly altered Latin translations of the Septuagint at Psalms 77 (78) by rendering the Hebrew term hasil as bruchus. Bruchus is a Latin transliteration of a Greek term denoting the immature, nymph stage of the locust. Thus, Harvey's findings confirm the excellence of the scholarship of St. Jerome himself.

The next entry is a short but interesting paper by Brian Joseph on Latin (s)tritavus "great-great-great-great- great-grandfather", a word printed without initial s- in Plautus, Persa 57, but with an initial s- at Paulus ex Festo p. 315M. Joseph argues plausibly, based on the Albanian loanwords stër-gjysh "great-grandfather", stër-gjyshe "great-grandmother", etc., that stritavus was a real Latin form. He further points out that the Plautine passage probably mimics an oft-repeated ditty (pater, auos,….atauos, tritauos) in which the final –s of atauos could have facilitated a re-segmented stritauos.

Christian Lehmann's entry deals with the extent to which fricatives behave like stops and nasals and glides behave like liquids in muta cum liquida onset clusters in Latin. Lehmann's conclusions are interesting in that they show that structural and phonetic approaches to Latin phonotactics yield contrary results. While phonetics might predict that 'f' and 's', both voiceless fricatives, would pattern together in their ability to form onset clusters, instead, 'f' patterns with the stops, and 's' does not. The scenario for glides is similarly disjunctive. 'i' and 'u' are uniformly vocalic after 'f', but after 's' 'i' is always vocalic, while 'u' may surface as 'w', as in suavis. In the case of nasals, Lehmann concludes that they do not form onset clusters in Latin, and that only under Greek influence do such scansions as Ovidian …lucente smaragdis –with the final –e of lucente scanning light— become possible. In general, Lehmann's contribution, while too complex to cover in detail here, is clear and convincing.

Andrea Nuti discusses the semantic nuances of possessive constructions in Latin, an area she has worked on extensively in conjunction with Philip Baldi. In this contribution Nuti focuses on apud + accusative possessive constructions in Latin, concluding that they are used to express "accidental possession", i.e., temporary possession of something that technically belongs to another, like money on loan. Nuti then points out that apud possessive constructions in Latin have a parallel in Irish. The entry is interesting and authoritative, clearly stemming from a great deal of research on this topic.

In the book's eighth article, Richard Page explains why the neuter Latin noun vinum 'wine' switched to masculine gender in Old High German. Jacob Grimm once attributed this gender-shift to contact with Gallo- Romance, which also shows masculine reflexes of vinum, but Page links the shift to a phonological change whereby the nominative singular forms of masculine and neuter a-stems came to look identical, and therefore became susceptible to gender-reanalysis. Further, subsequent loanwords into Germanic show the development of a general trend assigning masculine gender to alcoholic beverages other than beer. Page's conclusion eliminates the need to rely on extra-Germanic influence to explain the gender-shift of vinum, and it seems very likely that he is right.

Harm Pinkster's article on the semantics of Latin quoniam, on one hand, and quod and quia, on the other, builds on his previous research on these words in Early and Classical Latin. In a 2009 article, Pinkster argued that quoniam clauses express the speaker's subjective opinion, while quod and quia clauses signal an objective cause and effect relation between subordinate and main clauses. Here, he considers whether quoniam later evolved semantically toward quia and quod, since Szantyr viewed all three as synonyms in Silver Age Latin.2 Pinkster finds that some passages from Tertullian suggest that the semantic scope of quoniam had widened enough to make it optionally, but not necessarily, interchangeable with quia. He uses statistics and close reading of select passages to support his arguments, which are mostly convincing, though sometimes not as clear as I would have liked.

Next, Hannah Rosén examines the actionality, or semantically determined verbal aspect, of speech-verbs based on their diachronic behavior in Latin. She first treats the oft-discussed fact that in both Latin and Greek, speech verbs appear in the imperfect where one might expect the perfect, or aorist. She then notes the rise in Later Latin of constructions with coepit/incipit plus infinitival verba dicendi. Dismissing other explanations for these facts, Rosén argues, based on a corpus study of speech verbs at several stages of Latin, that unexpected uses of the imperfect and the rise of the coepit/incipit plus infinitive construction highlight both the linear- durative and inchoative actionality of speech verbs. Her conclusion is compelling and interesting in that it has the potential of being valid not just for Latin, but cross-linguistically as well.

The short entry by William Schmalstieg revisits the notion that the most archaic Proto-Indo-European case system featured only four noun cases, a hypothesis proposed by W.P. Lehmann in 1958.3 Schmalstieg's main purpose here is to draw parallels between Balto-Slavic and Indo-European case development to support his view that the adverbial cases (instrumental, dative, etc.) evolved from re-segmentation of various postpositional particles, and he is largely successful in that endeavor.

Next is an article by Brent Vine in which he offers an alternate etymology for Latin alias 'at another time', and other related forms. Rather than interpreting alias as an archaic genitive singular of the pater familias type, or an accusative plural with ellipsis of a noun, Vine derives the ending –as from an instrumental of an –eh2 stem (–eh2–eh1), upon which base an adverbial –s was added. Vine's account is clear, concise, and seems to makes the best sense of all available evidence concerning alias and its sister forms.

Rex Wallace argues for an emendation of the inscription on an Etruscan kyathos published by Cappuccini in 2007. Cappuccini interpreted the inscription's lacunated final word (mlak[.. 'good') as a genitive (mlak[aσ]). Wallace argues convincingly, based on close syntactic parallels on similar inscriptions, that it must be a pertinentive (mlak[aσi]), meaning "to a good man."

The final entry of the book is an article by Stephen Wheeler delineating the semantic transformation of the Latin word poetria. In Classical Latin this word meant "female poet", but in Medieval Latin it came to mean "poetry" or "poem". Wheeler traces the semantic shift to misunderstandings of Remigius' commentary on Martianus Capella. He argues that Remigius defined poetria as both 'woman poet' and 'lady poetry,' an abstract representation of poetry as a feminine entity, and that this ambiguous conception of the word facilitated the semantic shift. He makes his arguments based on astute readings of all the texts and manuscripts involved, and his conclusion seems unimpeachable.

Overall, the quality of these articles is very high. The contributors, faced with limited space, did an excellent job of restricting their topics appropriately. One will find more than one or two typographical errors in some entries, leaving the impression that the contributions should have been proofread again, especially in the double-checking of bibliographies.4

Table of Contents

Tabula Gratulatoria VII-VIII
Editor's Preface IX-X
A Personal Portrait, by Pierluigi Cuzzolin XI-XIII
The Professional History and Publications of Philip Baldi (through 2010) XV-XXI
1. A Few Words for Spring in Aeschylus, by Daniel W. Berman 1-5
2. How to Move Towards Somebody in Plautus' Comedies: Some Remarks on the Adverb obviam, by Pierluigi Cuzzolin 7-20
3. Baltic Paleocomparativism and the Idea that Lithuanian is a Neo-Latin Language, by Pietro U. Dini 21-30
4. Blight and Bugs: The Semantics of Latin Plant Diseases and the Perils of Latin Translations of the OT book of Psalms, by Paul B. Harvey, Jr. 31-41
5. On Latin (s)tritavus, by Brian D. Joseph 43-6
6. On Complex Syllable Onsets in Latin, by Christian Lehmann 47-55
7. Having Something that You Don't Own: Apud Possessive Constructions in Latin and a Comparison with Locative Possessive Sentences in Irish, by Andrea Nuti 57-74
8. Gender Assignment of Latin Loanwords in Early Germanic: A Case Study of Latin vinum, by Richard Page 75-80
9. The Use of quia and quoniam in Cicero, Seneca and Tertullian, by Harm Pinkster 81-95
10. Dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: On Tense and Actionality of Latin verba dicendi, by Hannah Rosén 97-113
11. Thoughts on the Origin of the Latin and Indo-European Nominal Declension, by William R. Schmalstieg 115- 121
12. Latin alias 'at another time', by Brent Vine 123-140
13. Etruscan mlak[ and the Interpretation of the Inscription on the Santa Teresa kyathos, by Rex Wallace 141-47
14. Poetry in Motion: The Semantic Transformation of Poetria in the Middle Ages, by Stephen Wheeler 149-164
Index of Authors Cited 165-168


1.   Wycherly, R.E. 1937. ΠΗΓΗ and ΚΡΗΝΗ. Classical Review 51:2-3.
2.   Szantyr, Anton. 1965. Lateinische Syntax und Stilistik. Munich.
3.   Lehmann, W.P. 1958. "On Earlier Stages of the Indo-European Nominal Inflection. Language 34, 179-202.
4.   For instance, citing Plato's Republic 327b at the top of page 15, Cuzzolin's text reads ἡρᾶς where it should read ἡμᾶς, and a translation of Plautus on page 16 reads "shacking his head" instead of "shaking his head" for quassanti capite. Bibliographical errors consist mainly of omissions. Harvey, for instance, cites sources in his footnotes that do not appear in his bibliography, like Nitschelm (1990) and Allen (1899) in note 9.

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Friday, September 28, 2012


Andrew Robinson, Cracking the Egyptian Code: the Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. 272. ISBN 9780199914999. $29.95.

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

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This book has two principal themes. One is a biography of Jean-François Champollion; the other details the steps to the modern decipherment of ancient Egyptian. Champollion's life as an ardent student of ancient Egypt encouraged by his older brother and returning members of Bonaparte's expedition was eventually rewarded with an assistant professorship of history at the university in Grenoble in 1809. His publication of L'Égypte sous le Pharaons in 1814 was produced long before he could successfully read the language. His summery of his dramatic breakthrough in the decipherment came in 1822 in his Lettre à M. Dacier which was followed by a more detailed exposition two years later. Champollion was able to put his knowledge to practical use in the joint Franco- Tuscan expedition of 1828-30 where scholars were able to identify the royal names on monuments with some security. Champollion's short life of only 41 years was a continuous adventure both intellectual and political befitting the complexity of his eventual accomplishments. A linguistic prodigy, he had begun a study of Coptic in his teens, a language that would prove crucial to his work on ancient Egyptian.

In chapter one Robinson briefly surveys the history of attempts to decipher Egyptian. The most general misconception about the language was that each sign in hieroglyphic script represented a thought or an idea. That it was partly alphabetical, partly ideographic, and partly representative of signs of classification had not to that time occurred to any western investigator immersed in languages that were essentially alphabetical. It was the slow realization by several people during the first quarter of the nineteenth century of the varied uses of the signs that the author has explained with care and detailed examination. The first assumption, that the cartouches, elongated ovals, might contain the names of royalty spelled phonetically, proved to be correct but it was still a far reach to distinguish the varied ways the signs were employed and combined. Robinson has provided an explanation of the tentative steps taken by of Champollion, as well as the others involved, that explains that deciphering the language was not accomplished in a single moment of inspiration but over a period of years by trial and error.

In almost every survey of the history and culture of ancient Egypt there is included a short explanation of how Champollion "cracked the code". Generally these explanations are simplified for good reason so as not to detain the reader unnecessarily. In the simple versions it seems to have been the work of one man, a prodigy-genius. The actuality of the decipherment of the ancient language was a complex undertaking. There were attempts by others, notably Johan Åkerblad, a Swede, and Thomas Young, an Englishman, who each contributed to the eventual breakthrough of Champollion. The examination of the part that Young played in the first steps to understand the "picture language" of the Egyptians is a major theme of this work and the arguments of priority of discovery are far from simple.

Robinson comes to an examination of Champollion's life and achievements from a wide study of ancient languages and their discoverers. He has written on the decipherment of ancient scripts, as well as authored biographies of Michael Ventris, who was responsible for the decipherment of Linear B, and Thomas Young, whom Robinson called "Champollion's leading rival in the decipherment." Robinson calls the rivalry between Champollion and Thomas Young to decipher Egyptian "the single most fascinating aspect of the story," indicating that it took a "polymath and a specialist" who worked with different kinds of insights to ultimately come to a successful conclusion. Young was a physicist and a physiologist, "a scientist whom Albert Einstein would compare with Isaac Newton for his discovery of the interference of light in 1801". Champollion was essentially a scholar of ancient Egypt with a particular knowledge of languages including Coptic, the last vestige of ancient Egyptian.

This work is well written and produced in an attractive format. It is neither too scholarly for the general reader nor so popular as not to be a useful reference. The quality of the paper chosen gives the engravings and photographs a definition to be desired in other works. There are occasional minor misprints and identifications, some that seem difficult to explain. In the accounts of the joint French-Tuscan expedition to Egypt when Champollion was able to identify and apply correct names to the inscriptions on many of the monuments, Robinson mentions a palace of Karnak at least twice. Whether this was his misunderstanding for the temple of Karnak or if he was using a designation of Champollion's is difficult to say. The small palaces attached to New Kingdom temples had yet to be identified as such and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is was generally customary to think of the massive structures as palaces.

At one point Robinson describes Champollion as moving to a tomb "on the other side of Thebes". Since the limits of ancient Thebes had yet to be defined what was meant was probably the other side of the Nile. In one instance he mentions the accuracy of Vivant Denon's drawings at the Temple of Dendera (at least in regard to one detail) and on the next page (204) illustrates Denon's drawing of the façade of the temple in which the decoration of the screen wall is completely imaginary. Denon's sketches and drawings were done under considerable pressure according to his own accounts and many of them were completed later in France so some or obviously more accurate in detail than others... An even more obvious (and unrelated) error occurs in the caption to the upper image on page 207.1

The book concludes with a further explanation of the complexity of the language and a basic description of how hieroglyphs work, illustrated with examples of alphabetic signs, bilateral and trilateral signs (signs that stand for more than one sound), ideographs, signs that stand for what they picture, and determinatives, the signs that differentiate various classes of ideas. If the progress of deducing and understanding these different classes of signs is not clear enough in the historical exposition, this last section may provide further information.

In summary, the author has provided a comprehensive and well documented biography of Champollion, detailing his intellectual development and placing him in the contemporary political climate. Born in 1790, he witnessed the return of Bonaparte from Egypt, his ascendency to First Consul and Emperor and ultimately his demise and the return of the monarchy. The steps to the eventual breakthrough and the varied receptions, both positive and negative, that his work garnered are chronicled in some detail. This work gives Champollion his proper due in the decipherment but it reminds the reader that it was not completely a solo effort.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Egyptomania,
I. Hieroglyphic "Delirium" before Champollion,
II. A Revolutionary Childhood,
III. Reluctant Schoolboy,
IV. Egypt Encountered,
V. Paris and the Rosetta Stone,
VI. Teenage Professor,
VII. The Race Begins,
VIII. Napoleon and Champollion,
IX. Exile and Revolt,
X. reakthrough,
XI. An Egyptian Renaissance,
XII. Curator at the Louvre,
XIII. To Egypt At Last,
XVI. In Search of Ramesses,
XV. First Professor of Egyptology,
XVI. The Hieroglyphs After Champollion. Postscript, Geniuses and Polymaths",
Notes and References,
List of Illustrations,


1.   It is not Denon's drawing of Karnak Temple but of Luxor temple that is shown. This is a curious error because the view of Luxor Temple includes the pair of obelisks that were the subject of Champollion's ardent campaign of possible acquisition for France.

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Tomasz Mojsik, Between Tradition and Innovation: Genealogy, Names and the Number of the Muses. Akme. Studia historica, 9. Warszawa: Instytut Historyczny, Uniwersytet Warszawski, 2011. Pp. 134. ISBN 9788390459692. Contributors: Translated by Marcin Fijak.

Reviewed by Penelope Murray (

Version at BMCR home site

This monograph is part of a larger project on the Muses in antiquity and deals specifically with questions relating to their genealogy, names and number in the Archaic and Classical periods. Mojsik's central thesis is that the image of the Muses at this time was far more fluid than standard accounts would have us believe. We all know that there were nine Muses, Clio, Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Urania and Calliope, born from the union of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Variations from this canonical Hesiodic version, of course, existed, details of which can be found in M. Mayer's classic article in the Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 16 (1933), pp. 687-91. But, as Mojsik points out, the obligatory reference to Mayer consigns alternative versions to a footnote and handily dispenses with the need to investigate the source material from a critical perspective for oneself. What is needed, he contends, is a shift from philological and historical approaches to an anthropological viewpoint so that we set aside what we think we know about the Muses from the later tradition and pay proper attention to the cultural conditions which pertained in the oral society of early Greece: we cannot evaluate their image according to the norms of subsequent historical eras. With this in mind, Mojsik sets out to re-examine the evidence, taking into account not only the usual major authors —Homer, Hesiod and Pindar —but also the testimony of lesser, often later, sources in order to understand the image of the Muse as a product of the Greek mentality of the Archaic age.

Key to his study is the undoubtedly correct assumption that the plurality and diversity which characterises Greek myth at this period applies as much to the Muses as to any other mythological figure. It follows, then, that we should resist the temptation to think in terms of a standard account from which this or that poet might deviate and accept that conceptions of the Muses vary, depending on context and place of performance, as poets adapt to the needs of different audiences, or seek to compete with rivals. The inherent fluidity of early Greek myth and the agonistic context in which so much poetry was performed suggests a state of 'permanent inventiveness' (p. 42) in which all versions have equal validity: from the point of view of the contemporary audience, one genealogy, for example, will be as authentic as any other. The fact that Hesiod's account of the Muses' parentage became the dominant one should not blind us to the existence of competing genealogies, the best known of which is that from Ouranos and Ge, which featured in the works of Alcman and Mimnermus, both of whom, it seems, also refer to Zeus and Mnemosyne. According to Pausanias (9.29.4) Mimnermus distinguished between two generations of Muses, the older the daughters of Ouranos, the younger the children of Zeus. But such rationalisation, Mojsik argues, is typical of a later period when the apparent contradictions of early Greek mythology were systematised, and quite probably results from a misreading of Mimnermus' work. Given the narrative pluralism that characterised early Greek poetry there is every reason to believe that the diverse genealogies existed in parallel (together with other lesser known versions which Mojsik discusses) and that poets used one or another in accordance with circumstances and context of performance. The problem, of course, is that in most cases we have no knowledge about the factors involved in any given choice.

As far as names are concerned, those which Hesiod uses and may well have invented (though this cannot be proved), reflect the functions of the Muses as a chorus who collectively embody the pleasures of music and song. Like other groups of female deities, their features and attributes are interchangeable, as are their names, which do not define them as individuals. Indeed some are not exclusive to Muses, and the names Thalia, Clio, Ourania and Erato, are shared by Nereids, Charites, nymphs or maenads. The iconographical evidence also gives apparently one-off names unknown in literary texts, for example, Stesichore, in place of Hesiod's Terpsichore, on the François vase. Such flexibility suggests, as Mojsik puts it, that 'the name of a figure, especially a secondary and female one, and additionally a member of a group, was not ascribed to that figure permanently' (p. 61). It is no surprise, therefore, to find that invoking an individual, named Muse is far less common in Archaic and Classical poetry than a general appeal to the Muse or Muses. In extant texts we find references to Calliope, Ourania, Clio and Terpsichore (the latter only twice before the end of the fifth century, in Pindar and Aristophanes), but no mention of any other of the Hesiodic Muses. Even in the Rhesus, as Mojsik observes, where a Muse, the chief protagonist's mother, is one of the crucial figures in the play, she has no name, but appears as one of the sisterhood of female deities (Rhes. 890-92). The image of the Muses here remains that of an archetypal female chorus without distinctive individual functions or names. Despite the dominance of Hesiod's nomenclature from the Hellenistic period onwards, the Muses' names are by no means fixed, as is clear from the evidence that Mojsik discusses. Aratus fr. 87, for example, refers to Archē, Meletē, Thelxinoē and Aoidē, four daughters of Zeus and a nymph, not dissimilar to the three Muses recorded by Pausanias (9.29.2-3), Meletē, Mnēmē and Aoidē. As Alex Hardie has argued,1 such names reflect a concern with the practical components of song, illustrating the flexibility of conceptions of the Muse which change according to circumstance.

As with names, so with numbers: the allegedly canonical nine is in fact quite rare in the literature and iconography of the Archaic and Classical periods, and the number of Muses remains fluid throughout antiquity, ranging from one to ten, but with only one reference to five, and no certain mention of six. Three is well attested, particularly in relation to cult (at Sicyon and at Delphi, for example), though there is no secure evidence for how far back these go. But attempts to ascertain an 'original' number of Muses are not only doomed to fail through lack of evidence; more importantly, they are misguided in their desire to impose order on the regionally and historically varied image of these deities which emerges from individual sources. The urge to systematise is, of course, not just a modern phenomenon, and part of the problem in studying the Muses is that so much of the material comes from late sources which no longer understand the plurality and diversity of early Greek mythology, let alone the mind-set of the oral culture in which the Muses have their origin.

The picture of the Muses that emerges from this study is richly varied, and one that shows how difficult it is to arrive at any general conclusions. A synoptic view inevitably oversimplifies, and an author by author or vase by vase approach may be enlightening in relation to individual cases, but can only be part of an investigation into the meaning and significance of the Muses in Greek culture as whole. Mojsik points out that the flexibility of the Muses' image is typical of early Greek society in which there is no such thing as a standard myth. And the fluidity concerning their genealogy, names and number is one that they share with other groups of female deities, such as the Charites or Hyades. What seems unique to the Muses, however, is their metapoetic function, which enables the poet to envisage the goddesses more or less as he likes in any given performance. How this metapoetic function fits together with what one might call the religious reality of the figure is a question which I hope will be considered in Mojsik's forthcoming work on the Muses in Greek culture. In the meantime we can be grateful for this monograph on their genealogy, names and number, which should become standard reading for anyone interested in the Muses.


1.  . A. Hardie, 'The Aloades on Helicon: Music, Territory and Cosmic Order', Antike und Abendland 52 (2006) 42-71.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Evan Hayes, Stephen Nimis (ed.), Lucian's The Ass: an Intermediate Greek Reader. Greek text with running vocabulary and commentary. Oxford, OH: Faenum Publishing, 2012. Pp. xii, 230. ISBN 9780983222828. $14.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Joel C. Relihan, Wheaton College, Norton, MA (

Version at BMCR home site

Why have intermediate Greek students read The Ass? (Onos for the rest of this review.) It is, perhaps, only Lucianic at a remove, a not-very-competent abridger's text; the Dialogues are everywhere more elegant, and have the great advantage of brevity; for extended narrative, True History is easily available in a traditional text-and-commentary format. But, truth be told, True History is overrated, quickly turning tedious, and there is great advantage to be had in a continuous text that deals, as the back jacket says, in different punctuation, with the "low-life characters who are rarely present in ancient literature at all: thieves, religious charlatans, witches, millers, servants, soldiers, and bakers"—all much better than Sunites and Moonites. And, of course, there is Apuleius' Golden Ass, and an intermediate Greek course that calls on its students to compare the Greek and the Latin (that is, the language, the grammar, the literature in the original and in translation) is a rich course indeed. More about the presence of Apuleius in this edition at the end of this review.

This is, therefore, a useful book that corresponds to a real need. I read through Onos in this edition and found that it does facilitate a rapid reading, which is just what you want. An interesting virtue is that it is also done on the cheap: it is self-published, print on demand, and the editors invite the users of the volume to submit corrections and suggestions for revisions (their e-mail addresses are given on p. xi); the pdf file can be easily changed before the next printing. A version of the text is also made available (via e-mail to the editors) on Creative Commons; this allows users, under certain conditions, to "copy, alter, and distribute this work" (to quote from the publication information page). Errors in a work of this sort are inevitable, they admit, and perfection is unnecessary, so what we have is the promise of an on-going collaboration between editors and users. This is a worthy experiment: a very useful and very affordable edition of an important text, and a good read to boot; most important, student users can be brought into the editorial process. It is always difficult, after all, to compress the necessary exegetical information into the small spaces that such a format affords. A class can be encouraged, even trained, to cast a critical eye not only on the Greek text but also on the translation apparatuses and aids, from catching missing periods to suggesting better definitions to improving coordination of notes with vocabulary and with context, all in the expectation that their efforts will see the light of day, suitably acknowledged.

Its methods are modest. After an average of about eight lines of Greek, each page has a two-column register of briefly defined vocabulary items (in alphabetical order, except on p. 144), followed by a one-column register of translation aids, keyed to phrases in the order of their appearance in the text. After an appendix of ten parallel passages from Apuleius' Golden Ass, there is a list of Greek verbs, followed by a general Greek glossary and a few hopeful blank pages for notes. The text is that of Jacobitz' 1907 Teubner (freely available online), with no textual apparatus or discussion. There is very little by way of rhetorical, literary, or textual discussion in these notes, and the editors freely admit to using what they call "translationese" in the notes for the sake of clarity, though they still could have operated with a more up-to-date English: e.g., ὑπερτρυφάω, "to be excessively haughty" (56, p. 145).

This disinterest in criticism occasionally carries a cost: in section 38, the note on the telling phrase ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἐκ τῶν ἀστραγάλων μάστιγι says "although no whip has been mentioned yet" and refers to the parallel in Apuleius Met. 8.30, but does not mention that this is certainly one of the signs of the abridgement of an original. On the other hand, a very useful exegetical addition is made in conjunction with sections 8-10, the sex scene with Lucius and Palaestra, where she gives commands for holds and moves that have not only wrestling but military connotations. This inset box, "Love and War" (p. 24), offers materials for an understanding of the puns that are a real advance on, say, J. P. Sullivan's translation in Collected Ancient Greek Novels. But I still doubt that even the most graphic undergraduate imagination will understand all of this still fairly opaque passage, and to say on the back cover that this is a "hilarious love-making episode with lots of double-entendre" is to overvalue both its humor and its eroticism.

Some instructors will find the book's limitations as acceptable and congenial; others, less so. There is no attempt to remove common words from the vocabulary register in any systematic way as the text progresses: ὄνος is glossed as "an ass" just a few pages from the end. There is no keying of grammatical points to a standard Greek grammar; rather, the text very usefully gives as it goes along brief, boxed explanations, with examples drawn only from Onos, of particular grammatical categories (future conditions, potential ἄν, etc.). But these are not flawless: in the inset box on defective verbs (p. 9), ἠρξάμην is listed as a less-preferred aorist form of the verb ἐρχομαι; but this is derivable only from ἄρχω, and it is odd to see this error in what should be a routine exposition; the form is also given in a separate inset box on p. 7, "The Conjugation of ἔρχομαι." The editors decided not to include particles in the running vocabularies, and so should have discussed them more in the commentary. The page vocabularies do not contain much useful information on combinations of particles; while καὶ μὴν καὶ is explained a number of times (pages 69, 126, 127, but not 134) as "indicating a climax," I found no explanation for ἅμα μὲν . . . ἅμα δὲ, and ἅμα does not appear in the glossary, though it appears also both as a preposition and with participles (ἅμα ἐπιγελάσας; 10, p. 25). While the text's over-used vivid historical present is sometimes noted, not enough attention is given to a perpetual student need, the difference between imperfect and aorist tenses. And of course there are some slips in the notes: ἐπὶ τοῖς αὐτοῖς explained as "for the same things" when it means "on the same terms" (52, p. 136); ἐπεθορύβησαν labeled as an aorist participle (54, p.141); πάραψαι is not the active aorist infinitive of purpose from παράπτομαι but the middle aorist imperative (10, p. 28).

But the larger problem, I think, is that there is often a mechanical feel to the vocabularies, in that sometimes the definition is so brief as to be misleading; e.g., σπάω glossed as "to draw" when it means to "pull out" (9, p. 23); ὀκνέω glossed as "to shrink" when it means "to refuse to do" (54, p. 140). Sometimes, the word in the vocabulary isn't close enough to what the note translates: e.g., ἀτρέμα appears in the text, but the running vocabulary gives the adjective ἀτρεμής, -ές, from which this adverbial form cannot be derived (51, p.135); similarly, the adverbial δημοσίᾳ is not profitably explained by "δημόσιος, -α, -ον: of the people, public" (55, p.143); τὸ νεκρῷ ὄνῳ συνοικεῖν is correctly translated as "living in an ass corpse" (25, p. 71) while the vocabulary offers νεκρός, -ά, -όν as a non-existent adjective meaning "dead". Lucius and the condemned woman are placed ἐπί τινος μηχανήματος (53, p. 138); glossing μηχάνημα as "machine" without explaining it as stage machinery is unhelpful. One last item: since ψεύδομαι is typically used in the middle, it is misleading to give ψεύδω as a vocabulary entry (55, p. 143); this giving of an active first principal part for deponent verbs or for verbs used primarily in the middle happens rather often.

Again, infelicities of this sort can be readily remedied via the print-on-demand process, and do not substantially detract from the value of the book, a value greatly increased by the presence of Apuleius, for the Greek text is followed by a sort of appendix: ten "Selected Passages" from The Golden Ass that closely parallel portions of Onos. I'll list them here (the section numbers are not necessarily represented in their entirety): Met. 1.22 = Onos 1-2; Met. 3.25 = Onos 12-14; Met. 6.30 = Onos 24; Met. 6.31-32 = Onos 25-26; Met. 7.14 = Onos 27; Met. 7.17-24 = Onos 29-33; Met. 9.32 = Onos 43; Met. 9.40 = Onos 44; Met. 9.42 = Onos 45; Met. 10. 19-23 = Onos 50-52. This is a great pedagogical boon, even though it does not attempt the complexities of van Thiel's bilingual edition of 1972.1 The Latin texts are provided with the same aids as the Greek text, though without a comprehensive vocabulary in the back, and this consistency in presentation greatly facilitates the comparison of the Greek and the Latin. As students very rarely get to confront parallel Greek and Latin (Benjamin Farrington's Primum Graius Homo is from 1927), this alone would justify the volume as a valuable teaching tool. Of course, there are some problems; again, primarily with the vocabulary that is provided. For example, the first passage begins et cum dicto modico secus progressus. The note explains cum dicto as a common Apuleian expression, "with this word," but offers no assistance with the peculiar expression modico secus, "somewhat, a bit" (OLD secus2 A.4.), unhelpfully giving "secus: beside" in the vocabulary. Later in the passage, on the next page, modico appears by itself and is correctly translated in the notes as "in a short time" (abl. of time when from the noun modicum) while the vocabulary gives "modicus, -a, -um: moderate, small." There are also small typos of a sort not found in the Greek text: e.g., p. 157, cepressus for cupressus and procreus for procerus, both in the vocabulary register; and on p. 160, viscera (Met. 6.32) is said in the vocabulary to be from viscer, visceris; viscer does not exist, though Apuleius sometimes has viscum for the expected viscus.

If I have seemed to devote too much time to nitpicking, it is only in the service of an excellent enterprise sponsored by two editors who have promised to incorporate rapidly the suggestions of readers into the next printings of their collaborative experiment.


1.   Helmut van Thiel, Der Eselroman. 2 vols. Zetemata Monographien zur klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, Heft 54/I, 54/II. Munich: Beck, 1971-2.

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Keith Bradley, Apuleius and Antonine Rome: Historical Essays. Phoenix supplementary volumes, 50. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012. Pp. xvi, 397. ISBN 9781442644205. $75.00.

Reviewed by Vincent Hunink, Radboud University Nijmegen (

Version at BMCR home site


Books on Apuleius commonly focus on the Metamorphoses and mostly deal with literary and philological issues. The ancient historian Keith Bradley has now collected a volume of twelve essays on Apuleius that is different on both accounts: the author's main interest is clearly and primarily historical, and Apuleius' rhetorical works, notably the Apology and the Florida, are given hardly less attention than the novel.

Bradley's main assumption is that Apuleius' works, like all literary works, may be considered as historical documents that can be used to study the world of their time, in this case the age of the Roman emperors Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius. Accordingly, various historical aspects are highlighted on the basis of Apuleius' texts, such as magic, slave trade, Romanitas, religion, adultery, and most prominently: family relationships and social structures. Bradley's well written and carefully produced book is a pleasure to read. It is, of course, compulsory reading for specialists of Apuleius, but it will also be profitable to general readers with an interest in the history of the Roman Empire.

The essays in this volume are ranged in their order of first composition. The first eight have been published in journals during the period 1997-2008, the last four are the result of new research. As there is no other, thematical order, I will simply review the essays in order.

The opening piece, 'Law, Magic, and Culture in Apuleius' Apology' (originally published in 1997) gives an overview of Apuleius' early text as a document that yields valuable information about Roman law, magic, and the general cultural context. In a postscript Bradley explicitly rejects the view that the Apology may be no more than a rhetorical showpiece typical of the Second Sophistic 'composed chiefly for purposes of self-aggrandizement, intellectual display, and amusement' (p.20), a suggestion advanced amongst others by the reviewer of this book in a paper from 2008. Bradley notes that the idea of the Apology as, essentially, a piece of fiction, cannot be disproved, but that to him it seems 'inherently implausible' (p.20). However, he does not further discuss this matter.

The second paper deals with the famous 11th book of the obviously fictional Metamorphoses, and asks whether or not it is a case of personal, religious conversion. In the end, the term appears to be difficult to use for Lucius' encounter with the goddess. In the ancient, polytheistic culture, there was little room for 'religious conversion' in the modern sense.

Four consecutive essays concentrate on family matters and social relations. First, the Apology is studied for the rather complex social and cultural aspects of family life in Roman Africa, in which a tension may be seen between Roman and local influences. The conflict in the family of Apuleius and Pudentilla is even called 'a clash of cultures' (p.57). Next comes a piece on slavery, a theme on which Bradley has published extensively. On the basis of the story of Lucius turned into an ass, Bradley elaborates on the theme of 'animalizing the slave'. It may be remarked that there is little evidence in the novel that the ass Lucius is considered a slave rather than, literally, an animal. The few references to 'servility' presented by Bradley (p.67-68) are not really convincing. For instance, Lucius' 'servile pleasures' (serviles voluptates) are mentioned in 11.15, that is, well after his retransformation into a man.

The third 'family piece' deals with households in the Metamorphoses. Again, on the assumption that the novel in some way represents everyday reality, the text is scrutinized for various types of family life. A convenient list of 25 different households in the novel concludes the article. Curiously, the household of the band of robbers (entering the story in 3.28, and being the setting of the famous 'Amor and Psyche' tale as told by the robbers' female housekeeper), is missing here, although the robbers are mentioned in the course of the paper. In fourth place there is a piece on Christian martyrs willing to sacrifice their family ties in favour of their religious convictions, a theme rather loosely connected to Apuleius' texts.

The seventh paper deals with the city of Carthage and so focuses on Apuleius' speech fragments in the Florida, some of which were delivered in Carthage or even address a Carthaginian audience. Taken together and taken at face value, the Florida fragments seem to produce something like a panorama of Carthaginian life. The paper includes a nice description of the town of Madauros, Apuleius' place of birth. The eighth piece deals with the minor accusation in the Apology that Apuleius was a philosophum formonsum et... disertissimum. Here, the issue of 'effeminacy' and its rhetorical effects are clearly central.

The four new papers also deal with rather diverse themes. First comes a study of the Sub-Saharan slave trade. The topic was apparently triggered by Apuleius' sarcastic remark that until recently he did not know whether his opponent Aemilianus was 'black or white' (libenter te nuper usque albus an ater esses ignoraui (Apol.16.9). It may however be doubted whether the expression raises any racial issue at all; it occurs in other authors, as Bradley duly notes, and so seems to be metaphorical rather than literal. Skin colour is, of course, a hot issue in our own time, but in Apuleius' texts there is hardly any special interest in it. Perhaps not surprisingly, Bradley has to resort to other forms of evidence, such as mosaics and vases.

A paper entitled 'Apuleius and Jesus' seems exciting beforehand. I found it slightly disappointing as it does not compare Apuleius with Jesus, or show Apuleius' knowledge of Jesus. Instead, it concentrates on the issue of child divination, on the basis of the Thallus episode in the Apology (Apol. 42-47). For this, similar miracle tales about the infant Jesus are adduced, as they are recorded in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas. In passing, Bradley also briefly surveys possible connections between Apuleius and Christianity, but without offering new insights.

The eleventh paper returns to Book 11 of the novel, and so to Isis. It develops the idea that book 11, which seems to end on a happy and optimistic note, is in fact concluded in a truly negative and pessimistic manner: Lucius appears to be completely enslaved to Isis and Osiris, and after his initiations he has lost his 'cognitive independence' (p.211- 212). Fortunately, Bradley does not offer this rather sombre view as the only possible interpretation of the ending (p.228), and he is wisely cautious, as elsewhere in the book, about Apuleius' intent.

The final paper deals with adultery, which readers of the novel will easily recognize as a central motif in much of the Metamorphoses, notably books 9 and 10. Again, Bradley stresses that it is impossible to know to what end Apuleius inserted his various adultery tales, but that he certainly 'captured the complexity of attitudes to sexual comportment in the high imperial age' (p.256). His conclusion that interest in adultery converges in both fiction and non fiction in the Antonine era can perhaps be extended: it will not be easy to find a period in which non-licit sexual relationships are considered a minor issue.

The volume is concluded with a short appendix on biographical details; a supplement of fourteen images (black and white); an impressive body of annotations (mostly grouped in a relatively small number of large notes replacing numerous small ones), amounting to 65 pages; a full bibliography of 36 pages; and an index of names and themes.

Bradley's study offers a broad panorama of essays on Apuleius, which effectively puts these works in their historical context. It offers interesting case studies on a number of themes that are, on the whole, relevant to readers of Apuleius, as well as to scholars interested in the Antonine age.

That said, some of the book's basic assumptions are open to criticism. It is fair enough to state that any text can be seen as a historical document and that its stories 'must bear some relationship to the world in which they were written.' (p.231) But what exactly is 'some' relationship? I often had the impression that Bradley was so eager to find good historical material, that he almost overlooks the methodical difficulty that Apuleius' texts have a special, literary nature and are, in whole or part, fiction.

It is likely that the strange and often gloomy storyline of the Metamorphoses has led to various special touches in its setting. The world of the novel is not the real world of Roman Africa, as any reader will quickly observe, but a curious mixture of literary and cultural, Greek and Roman, along with a great number of details that look realistic but may actually be no less coloured. On the other hand, Apuleius' speeches are obviously meant to convey a highly positive image of the speaker. This in turn must have influenced his representation of any historical elements (to mention just a few things: the speaker is likely to highlight all that seems welcome, while avoiding anything that may seem negative, exaggerating minor issues and relativating major ones.) Admittedly, literary texts do relate to their historical context in 'some' way, but it should perhaps be discussed more at length how exactly they may be used, and at what points caution seems due.

Secondly, Bradley's broad historical interest leads him to explore themes in Apuleius that others leave unexplored. That is perfectly all right, but it may run the risk of going too far away from Apuleius and even Apuleius' age. Sometimes, the Latin texts seem merely the starting points of Bradley's research, leading him in various directions. For instance, the paper on slave trade mostly deals with the period of 700-900 (p.169-177).

On some occasions, one would have liked to see the author at least return to Apuleius. In the paper on Christian martyrs, for instance, it would have been possible to pose important new questions about the Apology on the basis of the historical approach. If Christian martyrs often act in provocation, as is rightly shown, could the same not be said about the speaker of the Apology? Risking everything, even one's life, for 'a good cause': is that not Apuleius' fundamental pose as well? Could the Apology perhaps be seen as a parody of martyr acts? The list of relevant questions could be extended, but Bradley does not even start to discuss such matters. Surely, more can be done here.

In a note Bradley admits that his views 'run against the grain of much contemporary Apuleian criticism' (p.293 n.7). That is probably true, and Bradley is all the more to be praised for publishing the book in this form and in this period. Scholarship flourishes through debate. One would, however, have liked to see Bradley really entering the debate on methodical issues.

As it is, Apuleius and Antonine Rome, is a valuable and highly readable contribution to Apuleian scholarship, proudly reasserting the right of historians to use literary texts from antiquity to learn more about the past. Every reader will find much that is of immediate interest . And by all means it delivers food for further thought.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Jürgen Franssen, Votiv und Repräsentation: statuarische Weihungen archaischer Zeit aus Samos und Attika. Archäologie und Geschichte, Bd 13. Heidelberg: Verlag Archäologie und Geschichte, 2011. Pp. 440; 19 p. of plates, 1 CD. ISBN 9783935289368. € 66.00.

Reviewed by Veit Vaelske, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (

Version at BMCR home site

Nach Polycharmos (FGrHist 640F1) soll Herostratos zur 23. Olympiade (688–685 v. Chr.) auf Zypern eine Aphroditefigur, nur eine Spanne hoch und von alter Machart, erworben und, von der Göttin glücklich aus Seenot gerettet, im Aphroditetempel zu Naukratis geweiht haben.1 Die Anekdote liefert einen möglichen Einblick in die Vielfalt von statuarischen Weihungen, ihren Wegen, Formen und Motivationen zur Zeit der griechischen Archaik. Gerade dazu sind in den letzten Jahren erneut viele materialreiche Publikationen erschienen,2 die die Wichtigkeit des Themas nachdrücklich vor Augen führen. Umso willkommener ist vorliegende, sehr umfängliche Monographie, die aus einer Heidelberger Dissertation von 2003 hervorgegangen ist und bisher geäußerte Thesen einer ausführlichen Revision unterzieht; dies allerdings, ohne grundsätzlich neue Fakten, Statuen oder Inschriften, zu präsentieren.

Gegenstand der Publikation sind die von Samos und aus Athen bzw. Attika stammenden Skulpturen, die in das siebente bis frühe fünfte Jahrhundert datiert werden können. Dabei werden die Monumente nicht „als Kunstwerke betrachtet, sondern als historische Zeugnisse" (p. 27). Das Interesse des Verfassers richtet sich primär auf das Selbstverständnis und den gesellschaftlichen Anspruch bzw. die soziale und ideologische Motivation der jeweiligen Stifter. Die Konditionen der Herangehensweise sind etwas unbestimmt: a) Zum einen konzentriert sich der Verfasser mit Samos und Attika auf zwei kleine, wenngleich bedeutende Teile der griechischen Welt. Die geographische Auswahl ist aber nicht repräsentativ, da archaische Votivskulpturen durchaus auch andernorts entdeckt wurden,3 sondern ist für den Verfasser allein in der, seiner Fragestellung günstigen, Publikationslage begründet (p. 27). – b) Zum andern umfaßt die avisierte Materialgruppe zwar die größeren rundansichtigen Statuen (menschen- und tiergestaltig) aus Marmor und erscheint insofern homogen, als darin die bekannten statuarischen Typen der Kouroi und Korai enthalten sind. Nicht in gleicher Weise berücksichtigt wird das übrige Votivspektrum, wodurch die Arbeit aber auch übermäßig ausgedehnt worden wäre. – Hinsichtlich beider Prämissen fragt es sich, ob gesamthistorische Prozesse in dem gewählten Ausschnitt objektiv erfaßbar sind.

Zur Verfolgung seiner Fragestellung hat der Verfasser die Arbeit in drei große Teile geschieden, deren erster Samos (Kap. A, Kat. A1–A62), deren zweiter, deutlich umfangreicher, der athenischen Akropolis (Kap. B, Kat. B1–214) und deren dritter dem übrigen Athen und Attika (Kap. C, Kat. C1–C34) gewidmet ist. In diesen Teilen wird als jeweils erster Schritt das Statuenmaterial in thematischer und chronologischer Gliederung vorgestellt; für die Datierung orientiert sich der Verfasser an der Literatur. Es folgen Erörterungen der vermutlichen Aufstellungs- und Fundorte der Statuen, die – nach einer kurzen Bestimmung der Stifter – in Relation zur allgemeinen Entwicklungs- und Baugeschichte der Heiligtümer gesetzt werden. In jedem Teil der Arbeit schließen sich raumgreifende und für die historische Auswertung der Funde (s. unten) wichtige Erklärungen zum Sinngehalt und zu der zeitgenössischen archaischen Bewertung der Bildthemen an, allen vorweg der von Kouros und Kore. Dieses übersichtliche Vorgehen verfolgt also den verdienstlichen Ansatz, Antworten auf die Fragen zu finden, welche statuarische Themen wann, wo, von wem, in welchem Zusammenhang und aus welchem Grunde präferiert wurden.

Der Arbeit wichtigste These, die in den letzten Unterkapiteln besagter drei Teile wie in einer auswertenden Zusammenfassung (p. 395ff.) ausführlich dargelegt wird, ist die Feststellung des Verfassers, daß die untersuchten Statuen vor allem als Ausdruck des Repräsentationsbedürfnisses sowie des religiösen und sozialen Selbstverständnisses der lokalen Aristokratie zu verstehen seien. Danach wollten sich deren Mitglieder einerseits angesichts der krisenhaften, sich zunehmend konstituierenden bürgerlichen Gesellschaft als Elite profilieren, andererseits aber, neben ihrer beanspruchten Exklusivität, die Zugehörigkeit zum Gemeinwesen herausstellen. In Übereinstimmung mit der bisherigen Forschung4 erscheint es im ganzen auch wirklich plausibel, die Urheber der Statuen in Kreisen einer wohlhabenden Haute-Volée zu vermuten; allerdings läßt sich das im Einzelfall kaum beweisen5 und auch nicht generaliter voraussetzen. Selbst die epigraphischen Informationen erlauben es nur selten, den sozialen Status der Stifter genauer zu fassen. Sogar auf der an Objekten und Inschriften vergleichsweise reichen Akropolis ergibt eine Suche nach Skulpturen, die aristrokatische Etikette und Handlungsweise bildthematisch vor Augen führen, nur wenig eindeutiges: Unter 417 vollständigen oder fragmentierten Skulpturen (davon 214 mit bestimmbarem Thema) sind etwa dreizehn Reiter- und Pferdeanatheme und ca. vier entsprechende Basen auszumachen (p. 211f.; s. unten). Dagegen lassen sich Handwerker als Urheber von Weihungen – auch unter Erwägung der berechtigten Distanz des Verfassers zu den Zuweisungen Raubitscheks – in immerhin zehn Fällen inschriftlich sicher fassen (p. 220f., p. 224ff.).6 Darunter sind so gering geschätzte Berufe wie Gerber oder Walker. Allerdings sind offenbar nur zwei Statuenstiftungen nachweisbar (DAA 178; 196). Die Basis des Nearchos (DAA 197), die mit der sogenannten Antenor-Kore (Kat. B20) zu ergänzen ist, wird dagegen als Handwerkerstiftung abgelehnt (p. 226f.).

Ein weiteres Problem für die Aristokraten-These ist die verwendete Begrifflichkeit,7 da etwa – wie der Verfasser selber herausstellt – die (attische) Bürgerschaft „nicht als Ständegesellschaft in rechtlich und sozial abgeschlossenen Schichten organisiert" war (p. 208) und „es für die modernen Gruppenbezeichnungen Aristokratie, Adel, Elite oder Oberschicht kein sprachliches Äquivalent aus archaischer und klassischer Zeit gibt" (p. 209). Auch insofern ist die Zuweisung der meisten anonymen oder nur die Namen der Weihenden offenbarenden Stiftungen zu einer Aristokratie hypothetisch. Der häufig vorgebrachte Hinweis (aufschlußreich p. 267f.), die materielle Kostbarkeit der Statuen würde in diese Richtung weisen, kann nur unvollkommen greifen, zumal die Aussage kaum konkretisiert wird (vgl. p. 256 und Fn. 981) und die Argumentation dadurch zirkuläre Formen annimmt: Viele Skulpturen werden aufgrund ihres Werts oder aufgrund der Kostbarkeit der dargestellten Kleidung einer wohlhabenden, deswegen angeblich „aristokratischen" Stiftergruppe zugewiesen, deren Befindlichkeiten andersherum zitiert werden, um sich der Motivation der Aufstellung besagter Skulpturen zu nähern.

Der ebenfalls verwendete Begriff „Oberschicht" scheint sinnvoller, um die nach Herkommen und Profession möglicherweise durchaus inkohärente Gruppe der Stifter zu umschreiben. Allerdings differenziert der Verfasser erneut: Die Aristokraten könnten sich der Statuenstiftungen gerade dazu bedient haben, ihren Lebensstil und ihre Ideale gegenüber unliebsamen sozialen Aufsteigern zu behaupten (p. 129ff., vgl. p. 209f., p. 376). An anderer Stelle (p. 268, p. 280) wird eingeräumt, daß solche Parvenüs sich in der Auswahl von Themen und Formen ihrer Stiftungen sehr wohl an den aristokratischen Weihungen orientiert haben könnten,8 was aber deren grundsätzlichen Charakter nicht in Frage stellen, sondern eher bestätigen würde. Die Folgerung hieraus schien dem Verfasser nicht zwingend, daß demnach zahlreiche Statuen ihrem formalen Anspruch nach zwar „aristokratisch" und einer sozialen Vorbildhaftigkeit verpflichtet gewesen sein mögen, dies aber nicht auf ihren konkreten Hintergrund zugetroffen haben muß.9

Entsprechend sind die Angaben zur „inhaltlichen Bewertung" der figürlichen Typen einzuschätzen, vor allem der Koren und Kouroi. Selbige – an erster Stelle Geschenke an die Götter – werden dabei nicht als Darstellungen von Gottheiten oder bestimmten Personen verstanden, nicht als Abbilder von Individuen, sondern von bestimmten sozialen Rollen, die Ausdruck des Selbstverständnisses der lokalen Aristokratie seien. Solche Gepflogenheiten sieht der Verfasser von konkreten politischen Ereignissen der historischen Überlieferung höchstens indirekt beeinflußt. So sei die Stiftertätigkeit auf Samos während der Tyrannis nicht beschränkt worden (p. 133f.), wie das Weiterlaufen der Weihungen in den 530er und 520er Jahren bestätigt (p.135). Ähnliches gilt auch für die Zeit der Peisistratiden in Athen (p. 148f.).10 Die solonischen Reformen hätten hier die Aristokratie zwar nicht direkt und umfassend beeinträchtigt, aber durch die zunehmende Konsolidierung der Bürgerschaft und die zentrale Bedeutung der Polis- Hauptgöttin, die mit vermehrter Bauaktivität und Festen geehrt wurde, entstand für die Oberschicht eine Notwendigkeit, sich zur selben Zeit durch Statuenweihungen zu präsentieren (p. 369ff.). Schließlich hätten ab dem Ende des 5. Jh. v. Chr. weitere Reformen und Verteidigungsdruck das Gemeinschaftsbewußtsein soweit gefestigt, daß sich politische Verfahren weitgehend auf demokratische Strukturen und Gremien verlagerten und letztlich „die traditionellen aristokratischen Bildtypen, insbesondere jene des Kouros und der Kore, für die repräsentative Selbstdarstellung im öffentlich-sakralen Bereich nicht mehr zweckdienlich" gewesen seien (p. 391).

Die Identifikation der Koren aus dem samischen Heraion mit der dortigen Hauptgöttin wird abgelehnt (p. 94f.), ähnlich verhält es sich mit der Deutung als Athena (p. 259f).11 Ebenfalls abgewiesen wird die von Vinzenz Brinkmann vorgeschlagene Lesart der sogenannten Peplos-Kore als Göttin (Kat. B15, p. 262f.).12 Weiter sieht der Verfasser in den Koren zuallererst Sinnbilder weiblicher „Schönheit, Anmut und Jugendlichkeit" (p. 95). Im Zusammenhang mit einer Charakterisierbarkeit der jeweiligen Hauptgöttin der Polis im Heraion bzw. auf der Akropolis als Schützerin von Braut, Hochzeit und Ehe (p. 97f., p.272f.) werden die Koren „als Darstellungen junger, unverheirateter Frauen in ihrer sozial hochbewerteten Rolle als Braut bzw. Parthenos" begriffen (p. 98). Dieser in der Literatur bereits früher gezogene Schluß wird vom Verfasser durch den Verweis auf die Gepflogenheiten adliger Heiratspolitik ergänzt (p. 268ff.): „Vor diesem Hintergrund werden die Koren auf der Akropolis als bildliche Verkörperungen der aristokratischen Braut verständlich [...] Durch die Weihung einer Kore an Athena übergibt der Stifter, wahrscheinlich der Vater bzw. der jeweilige Vormund des Mädchens, diese und das mit ihr verbundene Potential symbolisch in den Besitz der Polisgottheit." (p. 273). Mit der solcherart vorgeschlagenen Integration von sozialen und religiösen Deutungsmustern erweitert der Verfasser bisherige Positionen.13

Auch im Falle der Kouroi wird die Identifikation als Gottheit (vor allem als Apollon) abgelehnt (p. 101). Die idealische Nacktheit der Statuen stehe „in konkretem Bezug zur aristokratischen Lebenswelt"; mit der Wertung athletischer Physis seien „zugleich ethische Maßstäbe verbunden, die mit dem genuin aristokratischen Konzept der Aρετή korrespondieren" (p. 104). Derselbe „exklusive, kompetitive Aspekt" (p. 280) erklärt für den Verfasser die geringe Zahl der Kouroi auf der Athener Akropolis, die in der innerstädtischen, politisch fundamentalen Situation des Athena- Heiligtums begründet sei, das deswegen – im Vergleich zum extra-muralen Heraion von Samos – eine „freizügige 'aristokratische' [sic!] Votivpraxis", gekennzeichnet durch „individualistische, auf Konkurrenz ausgerichtete Wertvorstellungen", nicht gefördert habe. „Eine aristokratisch-selbstbezogene Repräsentation durch die Errichtung kolossaler Kouroi" (die Zitate von p. 281) habe in Attika nur außerhalb der Stadt stattgefunden; besonders zu erkennen in den kolossalen Kouroi von Sounion (p. 359f.). Da aber ebenso die Reiter- und Pferdeanatheme auf der Akropolis (p. 292–304; s. oben) als aristokratisch wahrgenommen werden und in ihnen „die statuskonstituierende Bedeutung, welche das Pferd und die Pferdehaltung für die soziale Gruppe der vermögenden Aristokraten besaß", festgestellt wird, sollen diese Weihungen den wirtschaftlichen Rang der Stifter „innerhalb der Gemeinschaft" versinnbildlichen (p. 303). Bezüglich der zahlreichen Funde außerhalb Attikas wird erneut ein Zusammenhang zwischen Statuenweihungen und internen Krisen bzw. aristokratischen Rivalitäten impliziert (p. 410), eine breit angelegte Konfrontation der Arbeitsthesen mit dem gesamtgriechischen Befund unterbleibt jedoch. Der Mangel an Koren und Kouroi in überregionalen Festorten wird nur marginal angesprochen (p. 406, p. 412), müßte aber gerade hinsichtlich der nicht nur auf Polis-, sondern auch auf überregionaler Ebene operierenden Adelsgeschlechter besonders rätselhaft sein.14

Das Buch wird durch einen wissenschaftlichen Apparat beschlossen (p. 415ff.), bestehend aus thematisch und topographisch gegliederten Datierungstabellen, Registern der Sachen und Namen, der Aufbewahrungsorte und Inschriften sowie einem knappen Abbildungsteil. Angesichts der häufig zitierten und für Deutungsfragen ausgesprochen wichtigen Passagen in der antiken Literatur, hätte man sich ein Verzeichnis der verwendeten Stellen gewünscht. Auf einer CD-ROM ist der Katalog der behandelten Statuen und Fragmente beigegeben; Objekte ohne klaren Kontext bzw. solche aus sepulkralem Zusammenhang werden in zwei Appendices aufgelistet. Die Arbeit zeichnet sich durch Umfang und redaktionelle Sorgfalt, besonders jedoch durch die Ausführlichkeit zahlreicher Einzelerörterungen aus, deren Ergebnisse in konzentrierter Weise dem Oberthema untergeordnet sind, hier ihrer Weitläufigkeit wegen aber gar nicht ausreichend gewürdigt werden können. Einschlägige Literaturtitel und Informationen wurden offenbar bis kurz vor der Drucklegung nachgetragen, so der Neufund von zwei Kouroi bei Korinth (p. 412, Fn. 31). Fraglos wird das Buch wegen der darin so beeindruckend versammelten wie gewissenhaft erörterten Objekte und Thesen für ähnliche Publikationen als nutzbringendes Kompendium verwendet werden.


1.   Vgl. F. Leclère, Les villes de Basse Égypte au Ier millénaire av. J.-C. Analyse archéologique et historique de la topographie urbaine. Bibliothèque d'Étude 144, Bd. 1 (2008) 122f.
2.   Hier seien nur einige genannt: Peter C. Bol (Hrsg.), Die Geschichte der antiken Bildhauerkunst, Bd. 1. Frühgriechische Plastik (2002); Catherine M. Keesling, The Votive Statues of the Athenian Acropolis (2003); Marion Meyer – Nora Brüggemann, Kore und Kouros. Weihegaben für die Götter. Wiener Forschungen zur Archäologie Bd. 10 (2007).
3.   Vgl. die geographisch deutlich breiter angelegten Sammlungen in: Meyer – Brüggemann (2007).
4.   S. etwa: Helmut Kyrieleis, Der grosse Kuros von Samos, Samos Bd. 10 (1996) 99; Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, Der Kouros vom Heiligen Tor (2002) 53; Nora Brüggemann, „Kontexte und Funktionen von Kouroi im archaischen Griechenland," in: Meyer – Brüggemann (2007) 97, 110f, 123.
5.   Keesling (2003) 68f.
6.   Antony E. Raubitschek, Dedications from the Athenian Akropolis [= DAA]. A Catalogue of the Inscriptions of the Sixth and Fifth Centuries B.C. (1949); vgl. Keesling (2003) 69f.
7.   Inwieweit sich die p. 118 als „Landadlige" bezeichneten samischen Geomoroi von anderen grundbesitzenden Aristokraten unterscheiden könnten, bleibt offen. Innerhalb der Weihungen lassen sie sich nicht explizit nachweisen. Detlev Kreikenbom, „Reifarchaische Plastik," in: Bol (2002) 166 formuliert vorsichtiger, daß „in einigen Gebieten Adelsherrschaft und Kourosschema parallelisiert werden" können.
8.   Vgl. etwa die bei Aristoteles (Ath. Polit. 7, 4) überlieferte Weihung des Anthemion, die vom Verfasser p. 211f. auch thematisiert wird.
9.   Marion Meyer, „Athena und die Mädchen. Zu den Koren auf der Athener Akropolis," in: Meyer – Brüggemann (2007) 28: „Die Werte, die im Bild einer Kore visuellen Ausdruck fanden, entsprachen dem Denken der Aristokratie, aber sie waren dieser nicht vorbehalten."
10.   Vgl. Brüggemann (2007) 111.
11.   Im Widerspruch zu Keesling (2003) 97–161.
12.   Zuletzt: Vinzenz Brinkmann, „Mädchen oder Göttin? - Das Rätsel der Peploskore von der Athener Akropolis," in: Bunte Götter. Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur. Ausstellungskatalog Berlin, hrsgg. v. Vinzenz Brinkmann und Andreas Scholl (2010) 84–93.
13.   Vgl. dazu Meyer (2007) 32: „Wenn es sich bei den archaischen Weihungen auf der Akropolis gewissermaßen um Pflichtabgaben an Athena handelt und dafür [...] fast ausschließlich weibliche Figuren verwendet wurden, wird die Wahl einer Kore als Weihgeschenk nicht durch den Bezug zum Stifter, sondern durch den Bezug zur Gottheit zu erklären sein."
14.   Vgl. Brüggemann (2007) 103 u. Fn. 460.

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Emma Stafford, Herakles. Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World. London; New York: Routledge, 2012. Pp. xxvi, 302. ISBN 9780415300681. $32.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Hugo Koning, University of Leiden (

Version at BMCR home site

Herakles, the greatest hero of all time, is the latest addition to the increasing list of mythological characters scrutinized in the Routledge series Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World. In this series, the book takes a rather exceptional place: much like the hero himself, it is bigger, heavier and decidedly more tawny than its fellows. And there is, of course, good reason for it. In the vast fabric of Greek mythology, the figure of Herakles forms a huge knot. Just as on the divine plane 'everything begins with Zeus', so on the human plane almost all heroes of different generations, tales and locations are somehow connected to Herakles. To fully investigate this figure and his place in the Greek imagination is truly – as is noted more than once in the book – a Herculean task. It took the author more than ten years, but the result is most impressive.

The goal of the Routledge series is not to present straightforward biographies of some of the best-known gods or heroes, such as Dionysos, Athena, Zeus, Perseus, Medea or Prometheus, but rather to investigate 'their multifaceted aspects within the complex world of ancient paganism.' The intended audience consists of the general reader and students of religion, myth, anthropology and literature. Generally speaking, the series succeeds admirably in combining description and analysis, and creates a full and complete account of the god or hero in question, while placing him (or her) in his (or her) cultural and religious context. In this respect, Stafford's Herakles is certainly no exception.

Herakles follows the general structure of the series: a brief introduction first, followed by a discussion in chapters organized by theme (the so-called 'Key Themes'). Stafford first discusses the twelve labors (chapter 1), and then Herakles' other martial exploits (2). Chapter 3 deals with tragic representations of the hero in antiquity, and chapter 4 with less obvious images, such as that of Herakles as a proto-philosopher or romantic hero. Chapter 5 investigates the way the image Herakles was used by kings and other leaders, whereas chapter 6 discusses the religious and cultic aspects of the hero-god. The final chapter (as always in the series) is on reception in post- classical times. Notes, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, a bibliography and (a useful) index come last.

The introductory chapter ('Why Herakles?') gives us an outline of the story of Herakles and discusses the most important sources – a very necessary exercise, since the myth of Herakles comes to us only in bits and pieces, until mythographers like Apollodorus, Diodorus and Hyginus offer their syntheses. The chapter's largest interest, however, is in the tantalizingly brief overview of past and predominantly modern interpretations of (parts of) the Herakles- myth. Of the modern kind, rationalistic, comparative, psychoanalytical, structural and ideological approaches are presented and applied to Herakles, which gives us an impression of how the hero is understood by modern scholars. Even though the book is explicitly aimed to bring the ancient context to life, I would have been most grateful if the author had expanded this section, especially since the modern approaches she touches on from time to time later in the book are mostly restricted to the rationalistic, historicizing or euhemeristic ones (i.e. those known in antiquity as well).

Chapters 1 and 2 offer us an overview of the hero's adventures: the well-known labors (ch. 1) and Herakles's other exploits, from the strangling of the snakes in his cradle and the killing of his music teacher Linos to encounters with Giants, centaurs, Argonauts, Cacus and Prometheus (2). Stafford's aim here is less analytical than descriptive. The exploits are neatly listed, and each time we get a brief outline of the story, the earliest versions in (Greek) literature and an impression of the popularity of the tale in the visual arts (pottery and sculpture). Much like Gantz,1 on whose valuable work Stafford relies, the overviews do not always present easy reading, but they are packed with valuable, relevant, up to date and often surprising information, provided with useful annotations. Anyone who wishes to familiarize himself with the deeds of Herakles could find no better place to start than here. The image of Herakles as a valiant monster-slayer is to a large extent archaic, as is shown in the chapter on the hero's appearance in tragedy (3). Sophokles's Women of Trachis and Euripides's Herakles form the focus of this chapter. Stafford skillfully demonstrates how the tragedians exploit the hero's tendency to excessive behavior, problematize the heroic tradition and focus on his weak spots, thus adjusting him to the tragic stage. In this chapter as well, Stafford is all-inclusive, discussing other plays and fragments, and comparing the Roman tragic Hercules in Ovid and Seneca with the Greek antecedents – she even mentions the hero's appearance in Roman pantomime and so-called 'fatal charades', mythological role-playing by way of capital punishment (Nero perhaps providing the most striking example in burning someone alive for stealing apples). While this chapter contains less to impress classicists, who might want to argue with some of the details in Stafford's interpretations, the selection and lucid discussion of the material are well done.

Chapter 4 presents three other images of Herakles developed from the 5th century onwards. The first is the 'cheerfully promiscuous glutton' familiar from comedy and satyr play, well known for representing in a 'heroically' magnified form man's inclination towards bodily pleasures. Less familiar, perhaps, is the intellectualized Herakles, the exemplum virtutis that Stafford plausibly retraces – through Prodikos' tale of Herakles at the crossroads and the hero's appearance in Pindar's epinicians – to allegorical representations in visual arts and literature. For the Cynics and Stoics, Herakles thus became a model for endurance and patience, a champion of freedom, and, interestingly enough, a man thoroughly disdainful of earthly pleasures and seductions. Different again is the third image, that of Herakles as a lover. This aspect of the hero is probably connected to his comic image, as Stafford argues, and thus – in my opinion – should have been more at home under that heading than as a separate category.

Stafford's thoroughness and eye for detail we see again in chapter 5, which focuses on the ways Greek and Roman leaders appropriated Herakles to legitimize claims to territory or political power. The chapter is subdivided in discussions (a) of Herakles as ´ancestor´, dealing with Spartans, Macedonians, Hellenistic kings and the many Roman generals and emperors who claimed to have Herakles´ blood in their veins; (b) of Herakles as a founder of both colonies and games; and (c) of the hero's place in the democratic ideology of Athens. The first two parts are very complete and rather enumerative, both characteristic of Stafford's book as a whole. The last part, on Athens, is perhaps the most interesting, since it aptly demonstrates that appropriation of a favourite cultural icon can be a very difficult enterprise. After Peisistratos' exploitation of the image of Herakles (which Stafford rightly says is 'difficult to pin down' but very likely), the hero was somewhat 'tainted' by an aristocratic ideology that was hard to get rid of in later times; consequently, his works were used as a model for the exploits of the more democratically-minded hero Theseus.

Chapter 6 confronts the difficult question of Herakles' ambiguous status as a hero-god. The book reaches its climax here, since it is ultimately the religious aspect of the hero that the book (and the series as a whole) wishes to elucidate. Stafford duly discusses ritual and remains of Herakles-worship in the Greek mainland, Magna Graecia and Rome, pointing to the duality of his status as both a hero and a god. Most often, Herakles is honored as a god with temples and sacrifices involving feasting, though there are several rituals with elements that are commonly associated with hero-worship (such as holocausts or partial destruction). Of greater interest is the way Stafford analyzes such evidence, rightly arguing for a historical development of the image of Herakles and putting the deification of the original hero somewhere in the late seventh century BC. Stafford offers some intriguing clues as to the nature of this duality (such as the similar status of Asklepios and Herakles' initiation at Eleusis), but leaves them, to my taste, underexamined.

Each book in the series ends with a chapter on 'post-classical variations', and it is hard to think of a hero or god who could boast a richer Nachleben than Herakles. Stafford probably faced her biggest challenge here, and in my view produced the best chapter of the book - for three reasons. First of all, Stafford's overview over the enormous quantity of material is very impressive. Naturally, it is impossible to present a comprehensive and systematic account, but Stafford – in the limited space available to her – comes pretty close, mentioning painting, sculpture, poetry, prose, movies, tv-show, comics and brand names and logos (and I am probably forgetting a few). Secondly, the wealth of material is presented in a most lucid way, organized both chronologically and thematically, from 'Herakles and the Christians' to 'Hercules the movie star'. And third, this chapter more than any other shows Stafford's pleasure in dealing with the subject, as she allows herself a somewhat more congenial style and the occasional digression, however small. This chapter is a very good read.

In short, Herakles is a well-edited,2 comprehensive and compact guide to the life and afterlife of the hero who turned god. It is packed with up-to-date information and relevant references, reflecting a long and thorough study of the subject. The discussions are most lucid and chapters are well organized, always concluded by helpful overviews. In my opinion, certain passages could have benefited from more analysis and less enumeration – but this focus is understandable as the book is explicitly aimed at both classicists and non-classicists, who may be less familiar with the material. All in all, I strongly recommend Stafford's Herakles to both categories: this book is now the place to start (and keep returning to) for anyone interested in the world's most famous hero.


1.   Gantz, T. (1993), Early Greek Myth: a guide to literary and artistic sources, Baltimore (MD).
2.   I found only a few typos (most of them in the last chapter): xvi Mythography > Mythography,; 7 encounterd > encountered; 26 three-headed, > threeheaded; 60 on > on and; 60 name-vase > the name-vase; 131 homoseroticism > homoeroticism; 214 chose > choose; 219 Medici family > the Medici family; 219 date > date.; 220 putto > putti; 225 Richlieu > Richelieu; 228 prima > prime; 230 identities > identifies; 233 movies > movies.; 233 make > male; 234 story, > story; 235 quarter > a quarter; 236 Teminator > Terminator

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