Saturday, December 29, 2012


Andrew Pettinger, The Republic in Danger: Drusus Libo and the Succession of Tiberius. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. ix, 265. ISBN 9780199601745. $99.00 (hc).

Reviewed by Thomas E. Strunk, Xavier University (

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Tacitus wrote at the end of his account of Cn. Piso's trial that "all the greatest matters are ambiguous, inasmuch as some people hold any form of hearsay as confirmed, others turn truth into its converse, and each swells among posterity" (3.19.2).1 Tacitus' thoughts on the difficulties of recording an episode obscured by time and rumor apply equally well to the period of history Pettinger tackles in this work. Pettinger seeks to clarify the years extending from Augustus' adoption of Tiberius and Agrippa Postumus in AD 4 to the death of M. Scribonius Drusus Libo in AD 16, which he sees as pivotal in the formation of the Roman Principate. Given all that these years encompass, it is hard to argue otherwise. Using the trial and death of Drusus Libo as his anchor, Pettinger carefully reevaluates the political events from AD 4 to AD 16, including the adoptions of Tiberius and Agrippa Postumus, the deaths of Gaius and Lucius Caesar, the accession of Tiberius, the murder of Agrippa Postumus, and the revolt of Clemens, the Pseudo– Agrippa amongst others. While no reader will agree with all of Pettinger's interpretations, overall he sheds much light on the period.

Pettinger's work, in my opinion, joins a host of others in recent years that question what could be considered the orthodoxy on Roman history in the first century AD. This orthodoxy reads Augustus' creation of the Principate as a necessary institution overseen by a wise and just ruler, which Romans, both contemporary and of succeeding generations, overwhelmingly welcomed for its peaceful and prosperous effects. I include such writers as Dylan Sailor, Daniel Kapust, and Sam Wilkinson in the category of recent scholars who are willing to challenge this orthodoxy and to see a more radical critique of the Principate by the Romans and their historians.2 Pettinger lays down the gauntlet on page one, where he challenges the modern interpretation of the Principate as a force for good that faced little resistance; his evidence for arguing that the Principate did meet with resistance is the case of Drusus Libo. Pettinger ultimately reads Drusus Libo as a partisan of Clemens, the Pseudo–Agrippa, and as a leader in the plot to restore the Republic.

Pettinger devotes his first two chapters to the trial and death of Drusus Libo. The first chapter presents the sources and the circumstance of the trial and charges; the second chapter addresses Drusus Libo's inability to acquire an advocate, his treatment as a revolutionary, and the results of the investigation following his death, namely damnatio memoriae and a public thanksgiving. In these chapters, Pettinger disputes Tacitus' portrayal of Drusus Libo as a foolish young man easily led astray. He is successful in doing so, and thereby provides an alternative reading of events, which show Drusus Libo as a revolutionary. Pettinger achieves this by putting Drusus Libo in perspective with others accused of treason in Rome's recent past, including Catiline. This argument is furthered not just by focusing on the actions of Drusus Libo and his accusers, as Tacitus tends to do, but on the serious and determined reaction of the princeps and senate.

In chapter three, Pettinger begins what may be called a sustained flashback, begining in AD 4 and continuing for the rest of the book until catching up at the end with the conspiracy of Clemens in AD 16. Through chapters three and four, Pettinger does an exemplary job of explaining why Augustus adopted Agrippa Postumus (to better control him) and later made him an abdicatus (disinherited, yet still subject to Augustus' patria potestas). Chapter five contains a valuable discussion of libel and maiestas as well as the sedition of L. Aemilius Paullus.

Chapter six (Augustus' Final Arrangements) is indicative of Pettinger's process: he focuses on a specific problem, e.g. Agrippa's relegation, by citing the relevant primary sources and then gives the broader context of political events (103–107). Chapter seven reveals, however, some weaknesses in Pettinger's analysis. Pettinger is very eager to demonstrate that Julia the Younger was guilty of stuprum, not adultery, and to emphasize that Silanus merely lost Augustus' friendship. This much is acceptable, but Pettinger's interpretation of Ovid's exile does not seem to follow. Pettinger argues that Ovid was exiled because he witnessed "Julia in a compromised position" (129). This does not explain why Ovid would be exiled for seeing something, while Silanus, who engaged in stuprum with Julia, was only dismissed from friendship. The latter surely seems the more grievous act.

Chapters eight and nine pick up the narrative in AD 11 and carry it to AD 14, while addressing the rise of Tiberius to an equal share of the imperial power and his subsequent hesitation to assert that power publicly. Pettinger dates the attempted rescue of Agrippa Postumus to AD 12 rather than AD 8 as Levick does (138–140).3 Conversely, he dates the condemnation of Cassius Severus to AD 8 following Jerome, which some scholars date to AD 12 following Dio. 4 Pettinger agrees with Suetonius (Tib. 25.1) in attributing Tiberius' hesitation to his fear of the dangers circulating in AD 14, specifically the threat posed by Clemens and Drusus Libo (167–68).

The murder of Agrippa is dealt with in chapter ten. While most studies of Agrippa's death focus on who was responsible, and Pettinger does so himself, he emphasizes the important point that Tiberius' unwillingness to set the facts straight led to a proliferation of rumors and distrust that profoundly impacted the beginning of Tiberius' regime. There was a cost to following Sallustius Crispus' advice to balancing the accounts only to one and not to the public.

Chapter eleven addresses Germanicus and the mutinies following Tiberius' accession. Pettinger generally portrays Germanicus as loyal and supportive of Tiberius, which he certainly was, and he astutely points out that third parties tried to divide them, but Pettinger seems unwilling to address the conflicts between them, which Tacitus highlights through the first two books of the Annales, particularly the apparent contrast in their personalities.

Pettinger closes his book with a chapter on the years AD 14–16, focusing particularly on the relationship between Drusus Libo and Clemens, the Pseudo–Agrippa. Here Pettinger makes some of his most salient points, including the controversial, but in my opinion convincing, argument that the conspiracy of Clemens was not to culminate in the appointment of Drusus Libo as princeps but rather in the abolition of the Principate. Pettinger suggests that if Drusus Libo had merely taken Tiberius' place, then Germanicus and his legions would have marched on Rome. Whereas if the Principate were abolished, then Germanicus would have acted upon the Republican sympathies he and his father, Drusus the Elder, were reputed to possess.

Some will choose to question Pettinger's closing assertion; I do not. Rather there are two critiques to Pettinger's study I wish to address. The lesser of the two is his treatment of Tacitus. Pettinger seems to have it out for Tacitus, who portrays Drusus Libo more as a foolish young man than a serious threat, a point Pettinger is determined to disprove. This alone is not problematic; Tacitus could simply be wrong in this case. But Pettinger closes on the last two pages with statements like "By not grounding Tiberius' Principate in Augustus' Principate, Tacitus fails to comprehend Tiberius' approach to power; we find ourselves reading Suetonius and Dio with relief!" (216–17). A few sentences later he adds, "Indeed, Syme's belief that Tacitus relied heavily on the acta senatus seems to me unlikely," (217). This then seems to leave gaps in his argumentation, as he seems unaware that Tacitus also attributes Republican sentiments to the Elder Drusus and Germanicus (Ann. 1.33.2, 2.82.2), for Pettinger only cites Suetonius (201 n. 27). I think this is rather unfortunate as Tacitus has much to say that aligns with Pettinger's broader point, that is, the Principate was a corrupt system of government that did not protect the libertas of its citizens.

The second serious critique is at the foundation of Pettinger's thesis. Pettinger bases his argument for viewing Drusus Libo as more than a misguided youth on the notion that he represented a political party. There is evidence for this in Drusus Libo's political and family connections, which Pettinger emphasizes throughout and particularly well in Appendix 1 (A Prosopography of M. Scribonius Drusus Libo) and Appendix 2 (Family Trees). That Drusus Libo could count Pompeius Magnus as an ancestor is an important point in arguing that Drusus Libo was working to restore the Republic. However, Pettinger also ties Drusus Libo to the faction that supported Gaius Caesar in opposition to Tiberius. Pettinger throughout wants to transfer the supporters of Gaius, who died in 4 AD, to other opponents of Tiberius and ultimately to Drusus Libo and Clemens. His statement on p. 211 is characteristic: "These men, [elite supporters of Clemens and Drusus Libo] whose names remain unknown to us, stand at the centre of this reconstruction. They had supported Gaius, then Aemilius Paullus, and finally Agrippa." Yet Pettinger never explains why this should be the case or what evidence we have for it. There does not seem to be a compelling reason to view the supporters of Gaius Caesar as some coherent party that would continue to exist over ten years after his death. Moreover, there seems little argument for why the supporters of Gaius Caesar would want to join Drusus Libo in restoring the Republic. One of Pettinger's virtues is his willingness to read what James C. Scott calls the "hidden transcript",5 that form of resistance which lurks beneath the official record. However, Pettinger at times seems willing to read too much into the hidden transcript, such as in the matter of who supported Drusus Libo. This is especially so, since one does not need to prove this point to argue that Drusus Libo was in cahoots with Clemens and wanted to restore the Republic.

One could point out a number of errata and smaller quibbles. There are several spelling mistakes, particularly in the notes, such as AD for ad (p. 22 n.74), un for und (p. 144 n. 42), "transactiong" for "transacting" (p. 145 line 21), "sate" for "state" (p. 214 line 1), and adrgatio for adrogatio (p. 223 n. 23), among others. Further points could be added, such as his failing to acknowledge Josephus when discussing the assassination of Caligula on p. 214.

Yet in the end, these critiques do not win out over the positive contribution Pettinger here offers. The writing is enjoyable to read; the chapters are succinct and broken up into coherent subsections. Pettinger provides three helpful appendices along with a bibliography and index. Moreover, his rigorous examination of a nearly inscrutable period of Roman history and his willingness to challenge entrenched assumptions and to offer bold reinterpretations make this a refreshing work of scholarship.


1.   The translation is from A.J. Woodman, Tacitus: The Annals. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004.
2.   Dylan Sailor, Writing and Empire in Tacitus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Daniel J. Kapust, Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought: Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Sam Wilkinson, Republicanism during the Early Roman Empire. London: Continuum, 2012.
3.   Barbara M. Levick, Tiberius the Politician. London: Routledge, 1976, rev. 1999. p. 61.
4.   R.A. Bauman, Impietas in Principem: A Study of Treason against the Roman Emperor with Special Reference to the First Century AD ( Munich: C.H. Beck, 1974), pp. 29–30.
5.   James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

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Isabelle Boehm, Wolfgang Hübner (ed.), La poésie astrologique dans l'Antiquité: actes du colloque organisé les 7 et 8 décembre 2007 par J.-H. Abry (Université Lyon 3) avec la collaboration de I. Boehm (Université Lyon 2). Collection du Centre d'études et de recherches sur l'Occident romain, 38. Paris: Diffusion De Boccard, 2011. Pp. 263. ISBN 9782904974403. €38.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Frédéric Le Blay, Université de Nantes (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Il est des œuvres ou des corpus dont la lecture démontre que, contrairement à certaines apparences ou idées reçues, la littérature de l'Antiquité classique n'est pas un champ clos, entièrement balisé et reconnu, qui ne laisserait presque plus de place à la découverte. La littérature astrologique, et notamment celle qui fut élaborée en vers, est de ceux-là. Au même titre que les autres corpus relevant des sciences, des techniques et de la connaissance en général, elle reste, pour le spécialiste de l'Antiquité, un domaine dont l'exploration offre encore une grande latitude pour des études et des travaux qui viendront enrichir et renouveler notre connaissance des mondes grec et romain.

Ce volume de 258 pages réunit les exposés présentés au colloque international organisé en décembre 2007 à Lyon. Il constitue aussi un hommage à Josèphe-Henriette Abry, organisatrice de cette rencontre, décédée quelques mois après la tenue du colloque. Cette disparition explique le délai pris pour assurer la publication des actes.

À travers les contributions rassemblées, l'ouvrage embrasse un corpus divers allant du IIe siècle av. J.-C. à la période byzantine (XIIe siècle). À l'exception de l'exposé liminaire de J.-H. Abry, chaque contribution est consacrée à un seul auteur, représentant du genre. Ainsi, l'un des principaux mérites de ce recueil est sa dimension anthologique : à travers la lecture de cette série d'exposés, le lecteur passe en revue les principaux textes constitutifs du genre, dans une perspective qui s'approche de l'exhaustivité. Même si certaines études adoptent un angle ou une thématique spécifique, le propos et les problématiques traitées adoptent un caractère descriptif qui permet au lecteur de s'approprier le corpus concerné. Le volume réussit donc le double pari d'être un ouvrage dans lequel le spécialiste de l'astrologie ou de la poésie trouvera des éléments d'analyse pointus et bien documentés et une introduction didactique à des sources dont l'abord est a priori délicat.

L'état des lieux initial de J.-H. Abry a ceci d'indispensable qu'il présente les principaux enjeux relatifs à un corpus en grande partie redécouvert. Il pose l'ouvrage comme la première synthèse sur le sujet essayant d'embrasser l'ensemble du genre et se veut un état synthétique de la question destiné à inspirer de nombreux travaux. Ce qui rend la littérature astrologique grecque difficile à circonscrire dans tous ces aspects et constituants est le fait qu'elle a essaimé dans de nombreuses traditions : ainsi la Yavanajtāka, poème sanskrit du IIIe siècle ap. J.-C., reprend un manuel grec du IIe siècle ; de même la tradition arabe puise abondamment dans ce corpus. Les textes constitutifs de cet ensemble ont relativement peu circulé en dehors d'un public restreint; ils furent en outre constamment retravaillés et recomposés, paraphrasés par les astrologues. Cette présentation démontre la difficulté de l'étude: « L'histoire des poèmes astrologiques est donc parmi les plus ardues des littératures antiques » (p. 10). Un des points mis en évidence dans cet état des lieux nous paraît fondamental et mérite d'être commenté car il touche à une question qui dépasse le cadre de la seule science astrologique. J.-H. Abry insiste en effet sur un point de chronologie en indiquant que le Ier siècle ap. J.-C. constitue le temps fort de la poésie astrologique antique. On sait que la même période voit fleurir en milieu romain les grandes compilations à caractère encyclopédique (Vitruve, Celse, Pline, le Sénèque des Naturales quaestiones, etc.), témoignage d'un intérêt généralisé des contemporains pour les savoirs et les sciences. L'influence marquée de la philosophie stoïcienne au sein des milieux aristocratiques a aussi contribué à cette valorisation de la curiosité scientifique; en outre, la question de la divination – qui touche de près à l'astrologie – restait un problème débattu parmi les stoïciens. Il faut notamment situer le grand poème de Manilius par rapport à cet enjeu doctrinal. Nous estimons donc que c'est le contexte intellectuel de l'époque qui a pu encourager la production de ces poèmes astrologiques. Bien qu'ils constituent un genre un peu particulier, réservé, comme J.-H. Abry le rappelle, à un public restreint, ils ne doivent pas pour autant être isolés de leur environnement culturel.

Dans une contribution dont la documentation et l'érudition méritent d'être notées, S. Heilen s'intéresse à la « Bible de l'astrologie » des Anciens attribuée au roi Nechepsos et au sage ou prêtre Petosiris, tous deux égyptiens comme leur nom l'indique sans ambiguïté. Il considère que ce texte (dont il faut situer la composition entre le IIe et le Ier siècles av. J.-C.) est sans doute l'œuvre d'un auteur grec car les fragments préservés, composés en grec, supposent une bonne connaissance des auteurs dramatiques classiques et s'appuient sur des éléments tirés de la physique, des mathématiques et de l'astronomie grecques. Mais il note justement la difficulté qu'il y a à distinguer entre égyptiens et grecs à partir du IIe siècle. Des découvertes récentes de fragments en démotique permettent désormais de conclure à un fonds antérieur égyptien. Interrogeant les conditions de l'attribution de ce texte, Heilen renvoie, à partir d'éléments probants, au roi Necho II (610-595) et à son contemporain Petesis. L'étude des Anthologiae de Vettius Valens (v. 175 ap. J.-C.), qui reprend de nombreux éléments de ce texte permet à Heilen d'arriver à la conclusion selon laquelle le poème aurait été composé en mètres iambiques. Il subsiste en revanche une question que les fragments ne permettent pas de trancher : le manuel original était-il entièrement composé en vers ou reposait-il sur une alternance entre prose et mètres? Les fragments conservés en prose sont souvent une paraphrase et laissent la question difficile à trancher. Heilen observe en revanche que Nechepsos et Petosiris ne sont jamais loués comme poètes par leurs citateurs ; seul Aëtius appelle l'un des deux poète. Dans sa compilation, Valens cite littéralement des passages d'Homère, de Cléanthe et d'Orphée mais ne le fait jamais pour ces deux auteurs. L'enquête sur cette première source doit donc être poursuivie, entreprise à laquelle Heilen semble vouloir se livrer si l'on en croit ses remarques conclusives.

À travers l'article qu'elle consacre aux Astronomica de Manilius, J.-H. Abry, met en évidence le fait que cet auteur représente un cas exceptionnel : au sein de ce corpus, il est le seul auteur de langue latine et le plus ancien à l'exception du manuel de Nechepsos et Petosiris. De plus, le système astrologique qu'il développe est essentiellement zodiacal alors que les autres traités envisagent les planètes. Le prologue du chant I témoigne d'emblée d'une astronomie ancienne et approximative, inspirée d'Aratos. La chorographie zodiacale (application de l'astrologie aux peuples), accompagnée de notations ethnographiques, constitue un enjeu important de ce traité. Nous citons ces remarques conclusives de J.-H. Abry, qui résument bien la nature du poème de Manilius: « Sa méthode est claire: à l'astrologie planétaire qui existait dès ce moment là et qui figurait, associée aux paranatellonta, dans sa source, il a préféré un système d'où les planètes sont absentes pour ne garder que les paranatellonta qui offrent des possibilités semblables pour les pronostics, mais reposent sur des images et un contenu mythique qui leur confère une valeur universelle. » (p. 109)

Manilius est pour elle l'astrologue qui a le moins de connaissances techniques mais aussi celui dont l'œuvre doit être lue et comprise selon une perspective qui dépasse le seul savoir astrologique.

W. Hübner revient sur les cinq livres composés à l'époque de Néron et attribués à Dorothée de Sidon. La transmission et l'ecdotique de ce poème didactique sont fort compliquées, s'agissant, comme c'est généralement le cas pour ce domaine de la connaissance, d'une littérature réutilisée et sans cesse renouvelée, soumise à une succession d'altérations. On en retrouve des hexamètres grecs originaux cités par Héphestion de Thèbes (2ème moitié du IVe siècle), plusieurs paraphrases grecques en prose, des paraphrases en prose latine par Firmicus Maternus, des citations latines dans la traduction compilée du Liber Hermetis (Xe siècle), une importante paraphrase en langue arabe d'après une version du poème en langue pahlevi (médio-persane) du IIIe siècle (800 ap. J.-C.) et Hübner d'observer que d'autres textes en langue arabe pourraient apparaître. Fondé sur l'étude de quelques éditions successives, l'exposé est concis et se concentre sur quelques points choisis, en particulier les signes zodiacaux. On appréciera ce choix didactique qui donne un aperçu plaisant de ce texte, renforcé par la présence d'illustrations originales et de schémas.

C. Wolff concentre son propos sur le livre 5 de ce même texte, relatif aux catarchai, genre à part entière de la littérature astrologique consistant à passer en revue les réponses que les astrologues doivent pouvoir fournir à leurs clients lorsqu'ils viennent les consulter sur l'opportunité d'accomplir une action (achat, vente, construction, mariage, voyage, etc.) ou pour connaître l'issue d'un vol ou d'une maladie. Traitant du vol et des voleurs, elle passe en revue, de manière descriptive et typologique, le contenu du long chapitre 35 de ce dernier livre. À propos des portraits de voleurs, C. Wolff a raison d'invoquer l'influence de types dus aux représentations sociales et culturelles du temps. On doit cependant regretter le fait que le propos, uniquement centré sur le corpus choisi, en reste sur cette question à l'énoncé d'une hypothèse très probable, sans poursuivre l'enquête au-delà, alors que la simple comparaison avec un corpus bien connu, celui des traités de physiognomonie—savoir qui connaît, au même titre que l'astrologie, une grande fortune au Ier siècle—aurait permis de dresser des parallèles riches de sens. En ce sens, nous pensons que l'exposé passe à côté de ce qui pouvait constituer l'intérêt du thème étudié.

C. Cusset étudie les chants 2, 3 et 6 du poème attribué à Manethon pour y déceler l'influence d'Aratos. À propos du modèle comme de son émule, l'influence hésiodique est relevée, notamment du point de vue de la structure énonciative du discours didactique, qui consiste en la parole d'un maître adressé à un élève. Toutefois le texte de Manéthon, qui ne comporte ni invocation initiale ni hymne préliminaire, et qui ne désigne pas non plus de destinataire, prend l'allure d'un discours plus ecphrastique que didactique. Manéthon joue ainsi des échos et des écarts avec son modèle, à la manière alexandrine.

E. Calderón propose une étude métrique du poème d'Anubion de Diospolis (Ier siècle ap. J.-C.), à travers laquelle il met en évidence une particularité notable: le distique élégiaque prévaut alors que l'hexamètre épique est normalement le vers didactique. Selon lui, il faut voir dans ce choix l'indication d'une lutte entre tradition et innovation.

A. Pérez Jiménez s'intéresse aux vers (115 conservés) attribués à un certain Antiochos par son compilateur Albumasar- Palchos (Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, 1898). Il relève que la question de l'ordre des planètes est intéressante pour situer les textes astrologiques au sein de la tradition. Il note également, à l'instar d'autres contributions du volume, l'influence sensible de la poésie épique d'Homère et d'Hésiode. Enfin, il met en évidence ce qui constitue sans doute aspect commun à l'ensemble de ces textes, le balancement constant entre recherche des archaïsmes et création de néologismes.

I. Boehm, spécialiste des traités médicaux, porte son regard de spécialiste sur cet autre corpus savant, en partant de l'exemple de Maximus, où la maladie est souvent évoquée. Elle constate que le vocabulaire nosologique y est peu spécialisé. Selon elle, le registre de la poésie alexandrine, qui est ici à l'œuvre, semble empêcher l'excès de spécialisation. L'importance des termes homériques, souvent génériques et imprécis quant au corps, vient renforcer cette caractéristique. Nous pensons que le principe même de cette analyse, consistant à s'intéresser à la présence d'un savoir au sein d'un corpus relevant d'un autre domaine du savoir, est des plus pertinents lorsqu'il s'agit d'étudier les relations que les différents champs de la connaissance pouvaient entretenir les uns par rapport aux autres. Son application étendue permettrait non seulement de mieux évaluer le degré d'érudition des représentants de tel ou tel savoir et de répondre surtout avec une plus grande précision aux questions génériques portant sur le lectorat et les finalités visés par un corpus donné.

À propos du même poème, P. Radici Colace étudie les liens existant avec la poésie orphique.

Enfin, S. Feraboli présente une introduction à l'astrologie en 4 107 vers datant du XIIe siècle, due à Jean Camatère, qui n'est autre qu'un montage réalisé à partir de sources diverses. En cela, ce texte est un bon exemple d'une des tendances de l'érudition byzantine.

Table des matières

« Le cercle des poètes disparus… État de la question », J.-H. Abry, p. 7-21.
« Some metrical fragments from Nechepsos and Petosiris », S. Heilen, p. 23-93.
« La place des Astronomiques de Manilius dans la poésie astrologique antique », J. H. Abry, p. 95-114
« Dorothée de Sidon : l'édition de David Pingree », W. Hübner, p. 115-133.
« Du vol et des voleurs chez les poètes astrologiques », C. Wolff, p. 135-154.
« Poésie et astrologie : l'influence d'Aratos sur le poème attribué à Manéthon », C. Cusset, p. 155-165.
« Étude métrique de l'hexamètre dans le Carmen astrologicum d'Anubion », E. Calderón, p. 167-180.
« Poésie et astrologie chez Antiochos », A. Pérez Jiménez, p. 181-191.
« Astrologie et médecine ancienne : la description des maladies dans le Peri Katarchon de Maximus, un exemple d'écriture poétique ? », I. Boehm, p. 193-207.
« Le Katarchai di Massimo, dall'officina dell'autore alle riscritture bizantine », P. Radici Colace, p. 209-215
« Spunti di un catalogo stellare in un poeta bizantino », S. Feraboli, p. 217-226.
Index des sources littéraires, p. 227-232.
Index des notions, p. 233-256 (et noms de personnes et de lieux).
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Thursday, December 27, 2012


Alan Shapiro, Re-fashioning Anakreon in Classical Athens. Morphomata Lectures Cologne 2. München: Wilhelm Fink, 2012. Pp. 52; figs. 18. ISBN 9783770554492.

Reviewed by Brunilde S. Ridgway, Bryn Mawr College (

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On general principles, I would refrain from reviewing the text of a lecture, no matter how learned its content and elegant its printing. I am making an exception for this publication, for two main reasons. Primary is the fact that this slender booklet is "among the first" (p. 5) of a new series sponsored by Günter Blamberger and Dietrich Boschung, Directors of the Internationales Kolleg at the University of Cologne. The second reason shall become apparent in the course of this review.

The author of this work first presented his ideas to different scholarly audiences (in Sydney, Australia; at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens) and then honed his final presentation as Fellow in a Ringvorlesung at the University of Cologne in April 2010. The topic is the marble statue of the poet Anakreon known as the Anakreon Borghese from a previous ownership in Rome and now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. Although undoubtedly of Roman manufacture, the sculpture is thought to be a faithful copy of a Greek original set up on the Athenian Akropolis and described by Pausanias (1.25.1) as standing near a portrait of Xanthippos, Perikles' father.

Identification as the Tean poet is supported by inscribed herms, also Roman, and the Copenhagen figure represents only the second certain example of a Classical man known to us through a full-body replica, the other being the Demosthenes by Polyeuktos set up by his descendants in 280 B.C.E., 40 years after the orator's death. The monument to Anakreon has been traditionally dated around the mid-fifth century, largely because of its presumed association with Perikles, given its proximity to the statue of the statesman's father. In 1998, the American Journal of Archaeology1 published a lengthy attempt on my part to demonstrate, on methodological grounds, that all our assumptions about location, date, and sponsorship of the Anakreon original rested on uncertain foundations and that a different chronology was possible for the Roman marble: as a copy of a fourth-century or a Hellenistic image, or even as an imaginary recreation for the second-century C.E. Roman patron in whose villa the Borghese statue was found. Shapiro fully acknowledges my reservations (p. 14) but prefers to follow the communis opinio in placing the original portrait around 440, because he has conceived a novel explanation for its meaning at that time.

On the strength of his exceptional knowledge of Attic vase painting and iconography, Shapiro postulates that the statue on the Akropolis must have originated in conservative and aristocratic and oligarchic circles where the poet— even approximately 40 years after his death—was celebrated as the prototype of the noble (and restrained; cf. his infibulation) erastes and singer of the pederastic symposium. Anakreon's almost total nudity, unusual for the fifth century and for an Ionian man, would have appeared to those viewers as the typical eroticized Athenian body, comparable to the Aristogeiton statue in the Agora. This conception is based on the fluctuations in the manner of homoerotic representations on red-figure vases—from courting scenes within the sphere of the palaestra to sympotic arrangements where a young and a mature man recline on the same couch in an all-male environment, and which are not replacing the earlier depictions but should be viewed as complementary to them.

This brief summary does not do justice to Shapiro's carefully reasoned argument demonstrated through an abundance of pictorial images, several of them in color, and citing much recent literature. It can be read with much profit regardless of the author's conclusions on the date for the original Anakreon sculpture, since these changes in vase painting practices and iconography provide an unusual insight into the pederastic culture of the fifth century. A possible objection is that fine pottery traditionally depicted topics unsuitable for large-scale renderings and circulated in environments different from those of public monuments, especially as sacred a place as the Akropolis around 440. Moreover, no convincing sculptural parallels can be cited for poets' portrait dedications (either public or private) at that time. To be sure, our evidence from inscribed bases and mentions in the literary sources is so limited that no proof can be argued e silentio. Weightier are perhaps the points that infibulation is "extremely rare in statuary of the Classical period"2 and that the body type of the Copenhagen statue is generic and could fit any number of subjects—at any time, after the Severe period proper—rather than conform to the advanced age of the historical Anakreon. Yet revealing signs of maturity had already been introduced in Greek sculptures of the 470s, as demonstrated by the undoubted original Seer from the East pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

The mention of Olympia brings me to the second reason for this review. As I noted, and as Shapiro acknowledges, the peculiar manner in which the Anakreon wears his chlaina is paralleled only by the Oinomaos of the same Olympia pediment—yet it is a detail obvious only from a back view and seemingly most unusual.3Still, in Greek art, no detail of costume seems meaningless, even if we can no longer decipher its specific import. To judge from the single undoubted fifth-century original, I could imagine that Oinomaos was shown with his garment wrapped more firmly around his body (passing one end under his armpit, as it were, before flinging it up over his right shoulder) rather than with both ends hanging symmetrically down on his chest, in order to have greater freedom of motion in riding his chariot to race against Pelops and eventually in attempting to kill the unwanted suitor. But what would be the reason for the Anakreon? For greater freedom in playing his musical instrument and singing?

It would be helpful if Shapiro, or readers of this review, could bring to bear their knowledge of vase painting and iconography in providing (two-dimensional?) parallels for the fashion and its motivation, perhaps in more explicit contexts. It would be another contribution to our knowledge, now stimulated by Shapiro's important initiative in revisiting (re-fashioning) Anakreon in Classical Athens.


1.   B. S Ridgway, "An Issue of Methodology: Anakreon, Perikles, Xanthippos," AJA 102, 717-38; reprinted, by permission, in Second Chance:Greek Sculptural Studies Revisited, The Pindar Press, London 2004, no. XXX, pp 655-95, with "update" on pp. 769-70.
2.   Shapiro, p. 22 and notes 31 and 33 with bibliographical references. One of his sources, J. Daehner, "Die Grenzen der Nacktheit," JdI 120 (2005) 155-299, is cited to state that the detail "is found in only a very small number of surviving statues, all of them Hellenistic or Roman." I had suggested that infibulation may have been used on the Anakreon Borghese to comply with the standards of modesty and decorum of the Roman who commissioned the marble.
3.   Shapiro, p. 21 n. 29, quoting me on the Oinomaos. Only another Roman "copy"—the so-called Poseidon Borghese—displays it, to my knowledge, and I have been unable to find other sculptural parallels for the specific fashion. If the marble truly depicted a Poseidon, perhaps the chlaina was similarly worn for greater freedom in using the trident, but I suspect that both the "Poseidon" and the Anakreon were simply imitating the Olympia Oinomaos at a time when the pedimental sculptures had been taken down for repairs and were thus visible all around. Cf. my figs. 7-9 for the Oinomaos and the Poseidon, and Shapiro figs. 2-4 for the Anakreon.

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Detlef Liebs, Summoned to the Roman Courts: Famous Trials from Antiquity. Joan Palevsky imprint in classical literature. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 2012. Pp. viii, 274. ISBN 9780520259621. $60.00. Contributors: Translated by Rebecca L. R. Garber and Carole Gustely Cürten.

Reviewed by Leanne Bablitz, University of British Columbia (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Liebs has devoted more than forty years to the study of Roman law, many of those at the at the prestigious Institut für Rechtsgeschichte an der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg. Although he retired in 2005, Liebs continues to publish extensively and in this volume we find the latest contribution of an eminent Roman legal scholar.

Liebs states that this book arose from a course entitled "Seminal Trials in the Roman Empire" in which he "acknowledged the contributions of Roman judicial practices to the evolution of Roman law" (p. vii). For the course, and for this book, trials were selected on the basis of their "ability to illuminate specific legal precedents that were essential to the development of law in Roman antiquity and quite possibly beyond" (ibid.). Liebs notes that while scholarship to date has given much attention to the acts of politicians, the decisions of jurists, and the development of law by civil authorities, less attention has been given to case law, the judges and advocates themselves, and the emperor. His volume therefore presents "sixteen trials that ended in trail-blazing decisions" and examines "to what extent these participants in the public discourse on law were also able to effect change that contributed to the development of Roman law" (p. 2).

The book consists of sixteen chapters devoted to different legal incidents. Twelve legal hearings receive Liebs' attention for a chapter each (1-9, 13, 14, and 16 – see the Table of Contents below, to which I have added the subtitles included in each chapter heading but not listed in the actual Table of Contents). In Chapter 12, Liebs focuses upon two passages of Ulpian and Gaius that discuss the abuse of slaves. These thirteen chapters follow a somewhat similar pattern of organization. Liebs opens each by summarizing the story leading to the hearing and the hearing itself. The texts from which he derives his account are included in the early notes of each chapter in Latin and English (excepting Chapters 6, 8 and 9). The English translations in the notes are not those of Liebs but are drawn either from the Loeb Classical Library series or other translations. Liebs next discusses the source or sources from which our knowledge of the legal hearing is drawn under the heading of "Textual Transmission." This typically is followed by a section or sections in which Liebs dissects the issues at the heart of the case be they historical, legal, or procedural. It is in these sections that we benefit most from Liebs formidable legal knowledge. Most of these chapters are concluded with a section entitled "Effect" in which Liebs reflects upon how the outcome of the case affected the subsequent trajectory of cultural or legal thought in the short term, or upon how the case raises broader legal issues that continued in the long term to warrant debate.1 Three chapters (Chs. 10, 11, and 15) do not focus on a single trial, but rather on a group of trials connected with the persecution of the Christians and the role of the emperor. Beyond that they conform to the pattern of the others in that the story is told, transmission is discussed, attention is given to specific legal and historical issues arising from the affair, and the lasting effect concludes the chapter.

Liebs examines these cases with two themes in mind. First, he believes that these cases had an impact on the development of law and thus he looks not only at the case itself but also at the lasting effect or precedent it established. In this respect, on occasion he gives individual cases too much credit either with regards to their immediate impact or the impact they had on subsequent history. For example, Liebs states that the Horatius case shows that "it was possible to appeal to the people's assembly in critical cases, and their decisions were considered sovereign" (p. 197). To see this as an effect of the case is to assume that the situation was not so before the case. Yet, the story does not suggest that this was the first occasion for such an appeal. Likewise in the "Effect" section of Chapter Two, when discussing the case of Gaius Furius Cresimus, Liebs comments that "there are no records of prosecutions for black magic over the next two hundred years." Yet he then turns to discuss the accusation of Titus Statilius Taurus of engaging in magical ritual acts in 53 CE, Agrippina's use of the charge of maleficium, Apuleius' trial in 158/9 CE, and concludes with some general remarks about how charges of maleficium came to used with dire effect again in the fourth century (pp. 20-23). This is a valuable and interesting discussion, something only a scholar with a strong understanding of the history of the law could do successfully. Unfortunately, because this discussion appears under the subtitle "Effect," readers may receive the impression that the Cresimus case directly led to these subsequent cases. and may not see the distinction that must be drawn. I believe this is merely a problem of labeling. Perhaps the subtitle "Further developments" used only in Chapter Four for this section would better serve Liebs' purpose.

Second, and perhaps of more interest to the expert reader, Liebs draws particular, though brief, attention to the judge(s) hearing the dispute. He notes how diverse was the legal training of those serving as single judges, and the impact this could have on the outcome of disputes. In several of the cases under discussion the emperor served as the judge and Liebs examines several aspects of his role, including the very creation of this jurisdiction, the personal interest several emperors took in the proceedings they were presiding over, and the influence of jurists upon the emperor's decisions.

How diverse an audience will benefit from this book is difficult to predict. The book's subtitle clearly will entice readers to pick it up. Liebs makes a concerted effort to support the non-expert reader by providing glosses on all specialized terminology, both administrative and legal,2 brief biographies on important jurists and authors, and longer explanations on topics such as the types of republican assemblies, the role of the accuser in the criminal justice system, the legal nature of the household account entries, and the functioning of the emperor's petitions office.3 Such helpful aids to the reader encourage accessibility. However, Liebs' discussion ranges widely in time and subject matter (sometimes even within the same chapter), requiring a broad familiarity both with Roman history and law. The student reader may find this scope too demanding. At the other end of the spectrum, academics familiar with Roman law may become frustrated. For them, the story of each case does not need to be retold and they likely would rather Liebs had spent those pages giving more space to his thoughtful discussions of the legal problems presented.

In conclusion, Liebs provides an interesting mixture of detailed examination of several legal problems and consideration of more broadly conceived legal change over time. Only a scholar of Liebs' breadth of knowledge could undertake such work. Commendation also should be given to Rebecca L. R. Garber and Carole Gustely Cürten for the excellent English translation of a text made all the more difficult by the legal terminology. In less than a handful of sentences was there any sign that the text was a translation. It is good that Liebs' views can reach a still wider audience.

Table of Contents

1. Killing a Sister for Mourning a Fallen Enemy – The Horatius Trial (allegedly c. 670 BCE)
2. Temporary End to Trials Involving Black Magic – Furius Cresimus Defends Himself (c. 191 BCE)
3. A Dowry Hunter Loses Out – Fast-living Fannia (100 BCE)
4. A Naïve Buyer – Publius Calpurnius Lanarius Seeks Recourse (c. 98-95 BCE)
5. The Party's Intention vs. The Pedantry of Jurists? – The Trial of Curius (93 BCE)
6. Cicero Thwarts the Intrigue of a Powerful Man – The Rescue of Sextus Roscius the Younger (80 BC)
7. Defense against a Lover's Malice - Otacilia vs. Gaius Visellius Varro (c. 65 BCE)
8. Corrupter of Morals through Poetry, or Accessory to a Conspiracy? – Ovid's Banishment (8 CE)
9. A Precautionary Crucifixion – The Trial of Jesus (7 April 30 CE)
10. "They Hate Mankind" – Nero Prosecutes Christians (64 CE)
11. A Criminal Organization? – Pliny the Younger Judges Christians (c. 110 CE)
12. Brutal Slave Owners – Umbricia, Julius Sabinus, and Alfius Julius on Trial (c. 130-152 CE)
13. Self-Help Is Punished –Marcianus before Marcus Aurelius (c. 170 CE)
14. Protecting a Ward Prevails over Standard Payment Practices – The Dispute over the Rutilian Country Estate (c. 200 CE)
15. A Dispute among Christians – The First Trials of the Donatists (313-316 CE)
16. The Execution of Heretics – Priscillian and His Followers before the Court of Emperor Maximus (386 CE)


1.   Liebs (p. 2 and the first page of the conclusion, p.195) and Harries (in her statement on the dust jacket) describe the book as examining 16 famous trials. The term "trial" does not seem an adequate descriptor, though it is difficult to think of an alternative.
2.   E.g. cursus honorum, p. 17; dowry, p. 27; rescript, p. 139.
3.   Respectively, pp. 19, 53-54, 72, 141.

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Susanna Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome. Transformation of the Classical Heritage, 49. Berkeley; Los Angeles; Oxford: University of California Press, 2012. Pp. xx, 553. ISBN 9780520269309. $75.00.

Reviewed by Bradley K. Storin, Indiana University (

Version at BMCR home site


Susanna Elm's new monograph is a welcome and erudite study of Gregory of Nazianzus's intellectual engagement with the emperor Julian. These two men had much to say to each other concerning the contributions of philosophy, education, and knowledge of the divine to the governance of the Roman oikoumenē. Indeed, each man's understanding of virtuous leadership emerged out of the same cultural and ideological matrix: they engaged with the same Platonic and Aristotelian texts, operated on the same philosophical assumptions regarding the divinity's interaction with materiality, prized affiliation with the divine as the goal of good governance, and understood the philosopher as central in maintaining that affiliation. Consequently, both are "sons of Hellenism" and simultaneously (thanks to the Apostate's profound impact on the Theologian) "fathers of the church."

The book proceeds chronologically from the reign of Constantius II through the aftermath of Procopius's revolt. Elm's introduction is followed by a survey of Constantian culture and its effect on Nazianzan ecclesiastical politics (Chapter One). She then turns her attention to Julian's entrance into public life as Caesar and the first half of his reign as Augustus (Chapters Two and Three), Gregory's entrance into public life as a priest (Chapters Four, Five, and Six), the conclusion of Julian's reign (Chapter Seven), and Gregory's literary responses to Julian and the usurpation of his cousin Procopius (Chapters Eight, Nine, and Ten). The choppiness of the book's structure makes it difficult for this review to proceed chapter-by-chapter, but it does give the reader a sense for how intellectual development and interchange occurred in real-time. As Julian articulated his thought on the role of philosophy in public life, so too did Gregory.

Elm's primary subject is Gregory and his first six orations, composed during the early and mid-360s. The Gregory that readers meet here is far more attuned to culture and politics than any other we have seen; he is ambitious, calculating, and combative, not an "opinionated bystander, a 'philosopher' standing at a critical and ascetical distance from the fray" (to use Brian Daley's characterization in Gregory of Nazianzus [London and New York: Routledge, 2006], 59, quoted by Elm at p.155 n. 32), but rather someone who, from the earliest phase of his career, deployed the tools of his education and status to carve out a niche for himself at the center of Roman power. Chapters One, Four, Five, and Six demonstrate that, contrary to previous scholarship, Gregory's entrance into the ecclesiastical hierarchy hardly came as a surprise. He was quite prepared for, and even aspired to, it. The context for his ordination in 361 was specific: his father-bishop Gregory had signed the Homoian creed of the council of Constantinople in 360. Consequently, a small but increasingly vociferous group of Homoousians in and around Nazianzus challenged Gregory the Elder's authority and coalesced into an outright schism that lasted until 364. Recognizing his son's theological and philosophical savvy as well as his rhetorical talent, Gregory the Elder ordained him priest and advisor to help restore unity to the local church (see p.42-59). Gregory would frame the ordination as an act of paternal tyranny from which he initially fled and to which he eventually submitted (the basis for the dominant but misguided view that he reluctantly entered the priesthood). However, Elm brilliantly situates his initial flight in the context of classical topoi of retreat (used by Gregory to announce his qualification for office) and his eventual submission in the context of patria potestas (exploited by Gregory to publicly and legally enter into "a reciprocal relation of honor" [p. 194] with his father). Furthermore, the office provided Gregory with an official platform from which he could intellectually engage Julian and competing Christians (namely, Eunomius of Cyzicus and Photinus of Sirmium).

Chapters Two, Three, and Seven attend to Julian's reign and thought. Julian became sole Augustus in mid-361 (just prior to Gregory's ordination) and he came to power with a distinct plan for the Empire's security. As she does for Gregory, Elm offers a new portrayal of Julian: he was not the derivative philosopher or impetuous monarch of previous scholarship, but a philosopher-king who implemented, albeit briefly, a sophisticated and consistent vision for the Empire that linked governance with philosophy, mythology, education, and Iamblichean theurgy. Several of Julian's letters, hymns, and treatises reveal his conviction that the gods had charged him with guiding the Roman populace to true knowledge of them based on theurgical practice and allegorical interpretations of the myths. Incorrect knowledge condemned the broader philosophical program, and ultimately threatened the Empire with disaster. The defeat of his predecessor Constantius at the hands of the Persians made this perfectly clear: what Constantius and his court took to be true knowledge of God and the true practice of philosophy was incorrect and the gods had punished him (and the Empire) for it. To right Constantius's wrong, Julian instituted a consistent program of de-christianizing and re-paganizing the Empire with varied tactics: he protected the normative texts of paideia from the devastating effects of misinterpretation by blocking Christians from teaching them; he tried to show Christians that they perverted humanity's natural inclination toward the gods; and he established a pagan "church" that would make divine philanthropia available to the populace. The goal of his vision and its policies was to restore the oikeōsis that Rome once shared with the divine, and thereby its security.

By the time of his ordination, Gregory was familiar with the broad strokes of Julian's program thanks to his connections at court and Nazianzus's location along a major highway connecting Constantinople and Antioch (although Elm's insistence on this latter point is controversial, given that learned guesses place the town some twenty miles southwest of Caesarea, and not on a major thoroughfare). She persuasively identifies the influence of the emperor's vision in Gregory's early triptych Orations 1-3. Of the three, Or. 2 is the masterpiece, containing detailed reflections on the role, conduct, and disposition of the Christian priest. Elm convincingly argues that this text constitutes Gregory's entrance into elite public life by offering views on governance and philosophy that directly countered Julian's. For Gregory, knowledge of the divine came from the Christian Scriptures read within the classical matrix of rhetorical and philosophical education and from the personal purity conferred to the priest by periodic philosophical retreat. Christian priests and bishops were the true philosophers (contra Julian) charged with guiding the less purified politeia toward assimilation with God (oikeiōsis pros theon). To Gregory, Julian's program spelled only doom for the Empire (as Constantius's did to Julian). His second oration also publicized this vision to other Christians, most notably, the Nazianzene schism and Gregory's chief theological rivals, Photinus of Sirmium and Eunomius of Cyzicus, two prominent bishops in the mid-fourth century whose respective views on theology, epistemology, philosophy, and leadership were widely known. Thus, Elm persuasively argues that this text operated on several levels: it mapped out a vision of true philosophical leadership that countered Julian's vision while helping Gregory to negotiate local and transregional theological conflicts.

Chapters Eight, Nine, and Ten argue that Gregory's famous anti-Julianic orations (Or. 4 and 5) constituted a careful recasting of the emperor as the "Apostate" that shaped the way he and his vision were memorialized. In doing so, Gregory propelled his own vision to greater heights. Now he proclaimed that providence had preordained the Roman politeia to be Christian. Inasmuch as Julian tried to de-christianize the Empire, he opposed God's will and revealed himself to be a genuine criminal. Elm takes quite seriously Gregory's description of these texts as stēlographiai (see, e.g., Or. 4.20), public proclamations of the emperor's crimes against God and humanity. Additionally, these texts constitute a "tour de force of classical learning, demonstrating that Gregory the Christian, inspired by Christ the Logos, was more Greek in his paideia and a better philosopher than the Hellēn Julian, who had declared by edict that logoi belonged to those who believed in the gods of the Greek and Romans" (p. 341). By arguing that Julian's criminality invalidated his entire reign and its laws, Or. 4, composed in 364, counted as a plea for their repeal, especially Julian's edict on teachers. Or. 5, composed in 365 or early 366, had a different political application. The text refuted point-for-point Libanius's positive remembrance of Julian and endorsement of the emperor's vision in the Epitaphius. The issue was particularly relevant in 365 or 366: Julian's cousin Procopius, presumably an endorser of Julian's vision, challenged the emperor Valens. Elm speculates provocatively that Gregory's citation of Julian's Misopogon as well as his reference to Julian's beard and ascetic practice were condemnations of an emperor who would affect similar pretensions, namely, the usurper Procopius. For additional support, she reads the conflict between bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in Cappadocia and then-priest Basil as one based on Eusebius's support for the Homoian Valens (for which, to my mind, there is no direct evidence) and Gregory's advice to Basil that he reconcile with the bishop as support for Valens (against Procopius), despite his later condemnation of Valens as a second Julian.

There is little in this excellent book to criticize, and I only mention two minor points. First, one might wish to have seen more forceful arguments for dating Or. 1-3 to 363, a year later than their traditional date. The re- dating is certainly attractive in that it gives Gregory an extra year to digest and respond to Julian, but Elm's case is made only on the basis of personal preference or the plausibility of her narrative rather than on evidence internal to the orations or contemporary letters. Second, readers familiar with fourth-century theological factions will salute Elm's incorporation of sophisticated terminology (e.g., "Homoian," "Homoiousian," "Homoousian," etc.) into her narrative, but may also be disappointed when, despite her promise to refrain from using them (p. 36), she slips back into the older, less refined designations of "Arian" and "Arianism" (see, e.g., pp. 48, 209, 228, 339, 342 n. 27, 483 n. 3). One particularly curious point is her regular, yet ill-fitting, designation of Eunomius as "Homoian"; most scholars would label him "Heteroousian" or, to use an older term, "Anomoean."

Neither of these points affects the success of Elm's argument and its major contributions to the study of Gregory, Julian, and the fourth century. The refined corrective she brings to the dominant portrayals of her two protagonists is itself noteworthy, but her book does much more. It insists that Christianity owes its success to its leaders' exploitation of classical ideals and structures, a controversial but persuasive thesis. Paideia and its normative rhetorical, philosophical, and political texts were central to Christianity's goal of universalism, itself borrowed from Roman political ideology. Her book also shows that the predominant dichotomies by which many historians have treated late antique Christianity and Roman culture—Christian/pagan, orthodox/heretical, political/theological, religious/philosophical, local/universal—cannot stand. Gregory, Julian, Constantius, Themistius, Libanius, Basil, and Eunomius, to name a few, all participated in the same culture and the same philosophical- political-theological debates regarding the best way to guide the Roman populace to security and salvation. Every university and college library should have this exceptional piece of scholarship on its shelves.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012


Nikos G. Charalabopoulos, Platonic Drama and its Ancient Reception. Cambridge classical studies. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xxi, 331. ISBN 9780521871747. $99.00.

Reviewed by Emily Wilson (

Version at BMCR home site

The title is a provocation: Nikos G. Charalabopoulos presents Plato as the author not of "dialogues", but of "drama", which was, he argues, seen as a fourth dramatic genre in antiquity, designed to be performed in quasi-theatrical fashion, and was performed both by Plato's immediate followers and by many others throughout antiquity. The book, based on the author's Cambridge PhD thesis, is divided into four chapters: "Setting the stage"; "The metatheater of dialogue"; "Performing Plato"; "Plato's theater". The evidence is laid out clearly, although the writing style is not lucid. "Performance" is a popular buzz-word in the contemporary academy, suggesting a more vibrant, lively tradition than mere dead words on a page.1 It is quite likely, as many scholars have suggested, that Plato used performance of his dialogues as a teaching tool in the Academy.2 But there is very little evidence of any specific kind for ancient performances of Plato. Charalabopoulos takes us on an interesting journey through the issues, but he struggles to make a compelling case.

The first chapter focuses on the constitution and arrangement of the Platonic corpus. Charalabopoulos sensibly insists that the standard modern taxonomy is only one possible arrangement among many. Ancient readers worked with several alternatives, including groupings into trilogies and tetralogies. He also argues that we should be less preoccupied with issues of authenticity: in the case of several of the doubtfully-attributed dialogues, there may always be a very fine line distinguishing the "genuine dialogues from later additions" (p. 16). But authenticity of a different kind remains important: Charalabopoulos justifies his focus on reception by suggesting that it will produce a more authentic reading of Plato's own intentions, enabling the "recovery of the integrity of the Platonic dialogue". He claims that it is not "improper" to use Plato for our own particular agenda, but only if "the reading will bring us closer to Plato and not vice versa" (sic). Charalabopoulos seems to believe that the study of reception is valuable only insofar as it can help us recapture the original meaning of the text.

The second chapter discusses Plato's antecedents in the dialogue genre, including other writers of Socratic dialogues, and Sophron's mimes. There is no discussion of whether the Platonic dialogue might be influenced by any non- dramatic genres (such as historiography or oratory). Charalabopoulos provides a fairly useful map of how different Platonic dialogues may seem to engage with different dramatic genres, including satyr plays and comedy as well as tragedy, ending up with an analysis of the ending of the Symposium, where Socrates' victory over the tragedian, Agathon, and the comedian, Aristophanes, can be read as presenting the Platonic dialogue as the "ultimate drama".

Charalabopoulos goes on to discuss "dramatic qualities" in the Republic and the Laws, arguing that the challenges offered to the tragic poets in these texts suggest that there are "intrinsic affinities" between the work of drama, and that of the Platonic "philosopher-poets". The discussion struck me as convincing only insofar as it reproduced the standard scholarly picture, which acknowledges both a relationship and a gap between the Platonic dialogue and the traditions of drama. Where Charalabopoulos strikes out on his own is in trying to close that gap, and here he is much less convincing. In Laws book 7, the Athenian argues that the Laws itself provides a model for a better kind of school text book than the standard curriculum, in poetry or prose (811c-812a). 3 There is an inset debate between the Athenian and the tragic poets, who beg to be allowed into the city and get a pretty frosty reception. The Athenian's response is that the law-maker-magistrates themselves are already "poets of the best and most beautiful tragedy" in their whole state (politeia); the poets' thunder has been stolen by the legislators. Charalabopoulos argues that this passage does not simply trump or reject traditional forms of drama, but invites comparison between the two types of tragedian. Moreover, he assures us, "the Athenian needs tragedy" (p. 101, italics his). The precise meaning of this is unclear to me, but it seems to be connected to the claim that the Laws is composed "as a self-reflective performance piece", which is designed to be not merely read, but acted out. All of this goes much too far towards erasing the Athenian's obvious hostility towards actual tragedy.

The third chapter argues that Plato's dialogues not only draw on drama, and are friendly to drama, but were actually performed in antiquity. This is a suggestive claim, and perfectly possible, but there is a real lack of evidence. Charalabopoulos tries to use Aristotle's Poetics to link Platonic dialogue with stage drama, but the connection is very weak. The treatise of Demetrius, On Style, is more promising evidence, but is also far later (first century BCE). Demetrius discusses the beginning of the Euthydemus and comments that its style is more suitable for an actor (ὑποκριτῇ) than for "written letters" (γραφομέναις ἐπιστολαῖς). This suggests, as Charalabopoulos notes, that Platonic dialogues were seen as texts "intended for performance", although it surely does not follow that they actually were performed, either in the fourth century or the first (let alone tell us anything about what kind of performance it might have been). It would have been extremely useful at this stage of the argument for Charalabopoulos to look sideways at the reception of drama in this period. Fifth-century tragedy was often encountered through private reading, not public performance: for instance, there is the vivid account in Dio Chrysostom of his experiences reading Aeschylus', Sophocles' and Euripides' versions of the Philoctetes side by side, and imagining the plays' performance in his mind (Discourse 52). In this context, the references in Demetrius to the actorly qualities of Plato's dialogues are inconclusive evidence for whether or not Demetrius had actually seen them performed: they suggest only that he is able to imagine a performance (which is, again, not very surprising).

The second half of the chapter discusses the "pragmatics of publication". Charalabopoulos reiterates the scholarly truism that most literature in the fifth and fourth centuries was experienced through "oral presentation" as well as (or instead of) through private reading, but suggests that this was true in particular ways for Plato's dialogues. He begins by discussing the testimony in Diogenes Laertius, which includes a couple of references to Plato reading out his own work (DL 3.35 and 37). Charalabopoulos does not deal with the fact that these passages are, on the face of it, evidence against the idea that the dialogues were composed for anything like theatrical performance, as opposed to reading by a single lecturer (in however exuberant a fashion). Charalabopoulos then discusses the opening section of the Theaetetus in which the text of the subsequent dialogue is read aloud by a slave. Charalabopoulos concludes, quite reasonably, that "reading aloud" was a normal mode of presenting a prose dialogue in the fourth century. But there is a long distance between reading aloud, by a single (servile) speaker, and actual theatrical enactment (with multiple speakers, movement, props and so on); these possibilities are different again from multi-part readings by philosophy students for their own edification. None of Charalabopoulos's evidence proves anything about the latter two possibilities. The argument is directed at straw people when he insists that individual reading was probably not the "exclusive means" for encountering Plato's dialogues in the fourth century BCE. Whoever said it was?

In the fourth and final chapter, Charalabopoulos promises to evoke "the unknown story of Plato the playwright". He discusses five pieces of evidence: a statue group which seems to represent Socrates as a Silenus (hence linking him with "the world of the theater"); the ancient taxonomies of Plato's dialogues, which include groupings in trilogies and tetralogies; allusions to performance in sympotic contexts, in Plutarch and Athenaeus; a papyrus fragment from Oxyrhynchus (POxy xiii 1624) which may possibly suggest markings for performance; and the mosaic representation of Socrates in the House of Menander (from the fourth century CE). Charalabopoulos acknowledges that his evidence is miscellaneous and its implications debatable, but he goes on to use it to construct a case for an ancient perception of Plato as a kind of dramatist. In fact, the papyrus evidence is very flimsy, and the first two pieces of evidence (the statue and the taxonomies) do nothing more than suggest that ancient readers picked up on Plato's obvious interest in drama. They do not show us anything about any actual performances. Linking Socrates with Silenus only takes a quick read through the Symposium; it obviously does not require one to have seen a theatrical production of any Platonic dialogue.

The most interesting part of the chapter, and indeed of the book, is the discussion of the passages of Plutarch and Aristaios that form our most substantial evidence for the performance of Platonic dialogues in antiquity. In the Sympotic Questions, book 7, Plutarch evokes a party-time conversation in which one guest suggests they should get rid of the usual entertainers, and instead introduce a "form of entertainment recently imported to Rome", namely performance by slaves of the "lightest" of the "dramatic" Platonic dialogues. It is clear from the passage that the practice is controversial. Charalabopoulos gives a helpfully detailed and nuanced account here, arguing that Plutarch's own position is left deliberately opaque, but that both this passage, and the following discussion of types of musical performance, suggest that the possibility of performing Plato could be seen by Greeks of this period as a way to "reaffirm an alternative Greek cultural discourse in the context of foreign rule" (p. 214). Charalabopoulos then goes on to discuss a passage from Athenaios composed almost a century later, which reports the practice of having cooks come out of the kitchen carrying food and reciting lines from Plato. He quite rightly emphasizes that this is a completely different kind of dramatized Plato from that described in Plutarch: it is not a complete performance, with gestures, but simply the evocation of individual lines, presumably to add a layer of cultural cachet to the dinner- party atmosphere. Charalabopoulos follows his discussion with a highly speculative suggestion that all these dinner- party practices may go back to performances at the Platonic Academy itself, perhaps in celebration of Socrates' birthday (a tradition that would then have survived intact for some five hundred years . . .). Well, maybe it did; or perhaps not.

The final piece of evidence is the mosaic of Socrates, in the House of Menander. This has been well discussed by Eric Csapo, along with the Menander mosaics which accompany it.4 Csapo argues that these images are markers of status; they do not provide good evidence for performance of Menander in this house, or any kind of private theatrical performance in the period. The same is even more obviously true for Platonic dialogues. Charalabopoulos seems to be aware of Csapo's work, but does nothing to take it into account, and still asserts that this mosaic is evidence for "the longevity of the tradition of Plato performances". Sadly, it isn't: the case is just not proven.


1.   The tendency to privilege speech over writing is questionable, and was questioned most famously by Derrida in Of Grammatology, Speech and Phenomena, and Writing and Difference (Paris, 1967). One of Derrida's key exhibits is Plato's Phaedrus.
2.   A good discussion of all this, along with analysis of the ways in which Plato's dialogues both are and are not like theater, comes in Ruby Blondell's The Play of Character in Plato's Dialogues (Cambridge, 2002), especially Chapter 1, pp. 1-52; Blondell includes useful further bibliography on the relationship of Platonic dialogue to Greek drama.
3.   A more compelling recent analysis of this passage is Susan Sauvé-Meyer's "Legislation as a tragedy (on Laws VII. 817b-d)" in P. Destrée and F.-G. Herrmann, edd., Plato and the Poets (Leiden / Boston, 2011).
4.   In Actors and Icons of the Ancient Theater (Oxford, 2010).

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Frédérique Woerther, Hermagoras. Fragments et témoignages. Collection des universités de France. Série grecque, 486. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2012. Pp. lxxxv, 43, 316. ISBN 9782251005706. €59.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Claude Loutsch, Université du Luxembourg (

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Table of Contents

Figure majeure de la rhétorique grecque du IIe siècle av. J.-C., Hermagoras de Temnos passe pour être sinon l'inventeur, du moins le premier à avoir théorisé la distinction entre θέσις et ὑπόθεσις ainsi que la doctrine des états de cause. Son traité est perdu et n'est connu qu'à travers des allusions chez les rhéteurs postérieurs. La redécouverte moderne d'Hermagoras et de son importance pour la rhétorique classique est le mérite de K.W. Piderit. 1 Depuis, deux autres éditions ont été publiées, celle de G. Thiele en 1893 et, en 1962, l'éd. Teubner par D. Matthes.

Voici que le corpus des rhéteurs grecs publié à l'initiative de Michel Patillon dans la collection Budé vient de s'enrichir d'une édition du Temnite par Frédérique Woerther. Cette nouvelle édition comporte une introduction (p. VII-LXXXV), une édition critique avec une traduction française en regard (43 p. doubles), des notes complémentaires (p. 45-57), un commentaire continu (p. 59-241), un répertoire bio-bibliographique des sources (p. 243-289), et six index (p. 291-314). Une des difficultés de toute édition d'Hermagoras vient du fait que les sources antiques mentionnent deux autres rhéteurs du même nom: un disciple de Théodore de Gadare, contemporain de l'empereur Auguste, qui semble avoir été plutôt déclamateur que théoricien de la rhétorique (à lui se réfèrent les témoignages et fragments conservés dans les Controverses de Sénèque le rhéteur); ensuite, un rhéteur du IIe siècle apr. J.-C., Hermagoras le Jeune, qui, comme son contemporain plus jeune Hermogène de Tarse, a travaillé à cette grande refonte de la doctrine des états de cause qui alla rendre obsolète et condamner à l'oubli l'œuvre du Temnite. Il n'est pas toujours possible de déterminer avec certitude auquel des trois Hermagoras se réfèrent les rhéteurs de l'époque impériale. Prudente, Woerther suspend son jugement pour dix passages (deux dubia seulement dans l'éd. Teubner).

Les principales sources pour connaître l'œuvre du Temnite sont le De inuentione de Cicéron, l'Institutio oratoria de Quintilien et le De rhetorica de saint Augustin. Woerther estime que ni Cicéron ni Quintilien n'ont lu Hermagoras dans le texte (cf. p. L, elle semble même douter qu'Hermagoras ait lui-même publié un traité! Sous-entend-elle par là que son enseignement était purement oral et connu à travers les seuls écrits de ses disciples?). Elle donne non moins la préférence à Quintilien qui a eu accès à la fois à Cicéron et à une autre source lui permettant de vérifier les affirmations de Cicéron. Quant à la valeur du traité incomplet d'Augustin, Woerther est loin de partager la position de K. Barwick,2 défenseur de l'authenticité de cet opuscule qui reproduirait la doctrine d'Hermagoras même là où le Temnite n'est pas cité explicitement. Woerther souscrit plutôt aux conclusions récentes de M. Heath,3 selon qui 1° le De rhetorica ne doit pas être postérieur au milieu du IIe siècle apr. J.-C., en raison du silence autour des innovations introduites par Hermogène; 2° rien ne permet d'attribuer à Hermagoras tous les développements que l'auteur ne lui attribue pas explicitement; 3° rien ne prouve que tous les passages que l'auteur lui attribue proviennent effectivement du traité du Temnite. Woerther maintient toutefois (non sans réserve) une date tardive (IVe siècle).

Dans son introduction (p. XXV), elle explique son but qui n'est pas de reconstruire le traité d'Hermagoras, mais simplement de réunir les témoignages conservés sous le nom d'Hermagoras et d'étudier « les stratégies auctoriales » des auteurs qui se réfèrent à Hermagoras: ce docte néologisme ne doit pas nous cacher que l'éditrice fait ce que tous ses prédécesseurs ont essayé de faire avec plus ou moins de bonheur: s'interroger, à propos de chaque passage, sur les intentions de l'auteur et le contexte dans lequel il y est fait allusion à Hermagoras.

La présentation des textes est traditionnelle, sauf que témoignages et fragments sont réunis dans un même classement thématique. Contrairement à Matthes, Woerther estime que la plupart des textes retenus sont des témoignages (T) et que très peu méritent d'être qualifiés de fragments (F): aucun pour Hermagoras l'Ancien, cinq pour le disciple de Théodore et trois pour Hermagoras le Jeune, alors que, pour le seul Temnite, Matthes comptait quelque 54 fragments. Comme l'éditrice l'explique dans la préface (p. XLIII), les passages mentionnant Hermagoras (de Temnos) ne sont pas des citations uerbatim, mais des paraphrases plus ou moins précises et fidèles, voire polémiques. L'élimination des passages reflétant la doctrine hermagoréenne dans la Rhet. Her. ou chez Iulius Victor est justifiée par le fait que le nom d'Hermagoras n'y apparaît pas (chez Iulius Victor, il n'apparaît que dans l'explicit du seul manuscrit O) et celle des commentaires tardifs du De inuentione (en particulier de Marius Victorinus) par le fait que ces auteurs ne font pas appel à une tierce source pour commenter Cicéron.4

Autre différence notable avec l'éd. Matthes: Woerther réduit au strict minimum le contexte d'un passage retenu, afin de faire mieux ressortir l'information pertinente. Un exemple (Herm. mai. T 15 = I fr. 6c Matthes): alors que Matthes imprime intégralement le passage Quint. 2.21.21-23 relatif à la materia rhetorices (10 lignes, le texte concernant plus particulièrement Hermagoras [§ 21 fin-§§ 22 début] étant imprimé en caractères italiques), Woerther ne retient que 2 lignes de la dernière phrase du § 21. Elle exclut le début du § 22, bien que le nom d'Hermagoras y figure, et cela pour la bonne raison que Quintilien y affirme ignorer si oui ou non Hermagoras a inclus les θέσεις dans la matière de la rhétorique, preuve indéniable qu'il n'a pas lu Hermagoras dans le texte et ne le connaît que de seconde main. Le passage omis sera toutefois cité et traduit dans le commentaire (p. 86, n. 71): je ne pense pas que le lecteur gagne à ce va-et-vient d'une page à l'autre et la reproduction d'un contexte plus large aurait facilité la consultation.

L'établissement des textes retenus se base sur les éditions récentes (Winterbottom pour Quintilien, Giomini pour Augustin, Calboli Montefusco pour Fortunatianus, Håkanson pour Sénèque le rhéteur), ou à défaut sur les éditions canoniques (Walz); dans ce dernier cas, l'éditrice a vérifié en cas de doute sur les manu¬scrits mêmes. L'apparat critique est sommaire et ne donne que les variantes significatives. J'ai noté trois conjectures nouvelles, une de Woerther (Herm. min. T 4) et deux de son réviseur M. Patillon (Herm. mai. T 13 et 40). Malheureuse¬ment, Woerther n'indique pas toujours que le texte adopté contient une conjecture d'éditeur: ainsi p. 24 (T 47, l. 18), pour miles (conj. de Giomini, pour militis ou militem des mss.); p. 25 (T 47, l. 36), pour quacumque (conj. de Giominini, pour alia quadam, alia quacumque ou aliam quamquam des mss.)

Les références ne sont pas toujours claires: p. 24b, on lit dans l'apparat critique « 18 se post occidisse Halm, coll. p. 59,6 »: cette dernière référence ne se comprend que si l'on sait que l'apparat de l'édition Giomini est reproduit ici tel quel et qu'il s'agit d'un renvoi à la p. 59, ligne 6 de cette édition. P. 134, n. 194, la référence précise (Rhet. Her. 1.18) serait utile; j'aurais ajouté, à titre de curiosité, que Lambin avait proposé de corriger la leçon noster doctor Hermes (ou Hermestes) qui se trouve dans quelques mss. en n.d. Hermagoras — et cela en méconnaissance de la préférence d'Hermagoras pour les quadripartitions.

Les traductions sont très soignées: pour les textes déjà publiés dans la collection Budé, les traductions n'ont pas été reprises telles quelles, mais un effort a été fait pour donner une traduction plus respectueuse de la technicité terminologique, à l'exemple des traductions de Michel Patillon. On peut chipoter sur telle ou telle traduction: p. 6a (T 13, l. 3), je traduirais calumnia par « objection spécieuse » (plutôt que par « fausse accusation »); ibid. l. 10, lire « donne » (et non « donna »); p. 7b (T 13, l. 18 quasi rationem faciant), garder la correction de Halm (ratione; non signalée par Woerther) et traduire « comme s'ils procédaient méthodiquement »; p. 12a (T 21), traduire eum secuti par « ses disciples » (et non « ses sectateurs »); p. 15a (T 28, l. 7), traduire substantia par « matérialité » (la matérialité d'un acte par opposition à ses motifs); p. 15 (T 28, l. 16), la traduction de de inducendo iudicio par « si elle doit faire l'objet d'un procès » est ambiguë, plutôt « s'il faut engager un procès »; p. 15a (T 28, l. 20), traduire in foro par « au tribunal » (et non « sur la place publique »); p. 21 (T 41, l. 5), traduire legum contrariarum par « des lois contradictoires » (et non « des lois contraires »).

Quelques formules surprenantes: pourquoi signaler qu'Hermagoras appartient à un monde « en mutation, ouvert sur d'autres cultures » (p. XIII): le Temnite, parfaitement ancré dans le monde grec, s'intéresse à la seule παιδεία grecque. Parfois Woerther est d'une sévérité gênante vis-à-vis de ses prédécesseurs: ainsi, quand elle leur reproche d'avoir voulu retrouver «l'unité phantasmatique d'une œuvre » (p. XLI); ou encore quand elle dit que Piderit était « obnubilé par l'esprit de système » (p. XXVII). P.131, on lit « avec Hermagoras, la procédure qui consiste à modifier ou annuler une action devient un état de cause à part entière »: c'est plutôt le débat si la procédure doit être modifiée ou annulée qui donne lieu à un état de cause (la bonne interprétation est donnée n. 183 in fine: à Rome, la translatio ne peut être plaidée que dans la phase liminaire apud iudicem).

Quelques longueurs gonflent inutilement le volume: est-il bien utile, p.ex. pour Quintilien ou Tacite, de présenter longuement le contenu de leurs œuvres dont sont tirés les passages relatifs à Hermagoras et esquisser leur biographie? L'éditrice a aussi la fâcheuse tendance à citer (en traduction française) de longs extraits de travaux modernes. Deux exemples parmi beaucoup d'autres: aux p. 73-75, on lit d'abord (n. 40) 11 lignes traduites de H. Tarrant, Plato's first interpreters, puis 18 lignes traduites de G. Thiele, Hermagoras, enfin 11 lignes traduites de H. Throm, Die Thesis; p. 187, n. 319, 29 lignes traduites d'un article de M. Heath!

D'où parfois l'impression d'être en présence d'un recueil mal équarri de notes de lecture. Par ailleurs, on regrette l'absence d'une bibliographie récapitulative des travaux modernes, qui aurait permis d'alléger considérablement les références dans les notes infra-paginales et de signaler des études auxquelles Woerther ne se réfère guère (je pense aux travaux d'A.C. Braet). Même si elle ne leur doit rien, elle aurait pu signaler pour Augustin la vieille traduction française de H. Barreau (1873) ainsi que les récentes traductions espagnole (P.R. Díaz y Díaz, 1992) et italienne (M. Bettetini, 1993).

Peu de coquilles: p. X, n. 13 (dernière ligne), lire « Philosophy » (et non « Rhetoric »); p. XLVI, n. 89 (l. 2), lire « rethorica » (et non « rhetorica »; même métathèse dans les notes 88, l. 2 et 90, l. 4-5; erreur de lecture due à Halm et reprise par Matthes); p. 9a (l. 19), lire « doit » (et non « soit »); p. 11b (T 20, l. 18), lire « plurimorum » (et non « plurimum »); p. 16b (T 28, l. 29), lire « facti » (et non « faci »).

Bref, malgré quelques imperfections formelles, la précision de la traduction et la richesse du commentaire font de cette édition un instrument de travail désormais indispensable.


1.   Commentatio de Hermagore rhetore (Diss. Marburg, 1839).
2.   K. Barwick, Zur Rekonstruktion der Rhetorik des Hermagoras von Temnos, in Philologus 109(1965), p. 186-218.
3.   M. Heath, Hermagoras: transmission and attribution, in Philologus 146 (2002), p. 287-298.
4.   Plus surprenante est l'inclusion d'un passage du Didascalicon d'Hugues de Saint-Victor (Herm. mai. T 10), qui dérive visiblement d'Isidore, Etym. 2.2.1-2 (Herm. mai. T 9). Pour compléter l'aperçu de l'image posthume du Temnite, il faudrait signaler qu'une édition post-incunable du De inu. et de la Rhet.Her. (Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1508) portait le titre Rhetoricorum commentarii in Hermagoram et ad Herennium.

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Irad Malkin, A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. Greeks Overseas. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. xviii, 284. ISBN 9780199734818. $60.00.

Reviewed by Danielle L. Kellogg, Brooklyn College, CUNY

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[The reviewer sincerely apologizes for the lateness of this review.]

Irad Malkin's latest book, A Small Greek World, views the phenomenon of Greek colonization from the perspective of network theory, one of the new theoretical models finding traction amongst scholars of the ancient world. It is the first volume in a new series from Oxford, Greeks Overseas, which, according to the editors, "is dedicated to reconceptualizing the emergence of Greek communities all around the Mediterranean during the late Iron Age and the Archaic period…encompass[ing] archaeological and literary perspectives, applying new methods and theoretical approaches and bringing together old and new evidence…"(ix). Malkin's work meets and exceeds these lofty goals, making it a worthy volume to inaugurate what promises to be an important series.

The first chapter is devoted to an overview of network theory with particular attention to those themes and ideas that are being utilized within the discipline of Classics. The concept of the network, for Malkin, "is not just a metaphor but a descriptive and heuristic term…the first goal of this book is to identify the phenomenon of network formation. Its second, and more suggestive one is an interpretation of its implications. Identifying networks and their overlaps involves much of the more familiar historical research and reconstruction, well known to historians of antiquity" (16). This chapter is, in my opinion, the most valuable part of the book. This chapter should be consulted by anyone interested in the use of network analysis in studies of the ancient world. I think, however, that Malkin is too quick to dismiss other theoretical models and frameworks in this chapter. Hybridity, for example, a concept which other archaeologists and ancient historians have used with some profit, is set aside because it "has too many biological connotations and, again, is obscure and as such means little" (47). I would have preferred that Malkin engaged more directly with such alternative models, not necessarily because I was unconvinced by his conceptual model, but because elucidating the relative strengths and weaknesses of the alternatives would have very explicitly underlined the benefits of the model he espouses here. In emphasizing the significance of Chapter 1, I do not mean to detract from the rest of the text, which is devoted to case studies of various aspects of ancient colonization, and which contains much of value. In particular, the case studies do add significant nuance to the center-periphery model, which has been somewhat overworked. The particular cases Malkin presents are ones which involve "linking network dynamics and actual space" and which "revolve around the creation of the permanent nodes that allowed for network connectivity, namely, Greek colonies" (17).

Chapter 2, "Island Networking and Hellenic Convergence," focuses on the island of Rhodes and the Greek settlement of Naukratis in Egypt. Malkin analyzes the influences that impacted the development of shared identities on both the regional and the larger Hellenic levels. He argues that a coherent Rhodian identity emerged as a result of interactions with overseas settlements populated by Rhodians, an effect he terms a "back-ripple". One place at which this effect was specifically articulated was the colony of Naukratis, a settlement in which the three Rhodian poleis were tied together into the larger category of "Rhodian". Thus, at the same time as Rhodian identity was being influenced at home by the effects of the "back-ripple", Greek colonial efforts overseas led to the emergence of a shared Hellenic identity that was most explicitly articulated in colonies such as Naukratis. Malkin does occasionally push the evidence too far, however; I was unconvinced by his claim that the port site at Vroulia "could easily" have served all three Rhodian poleis. Asserting that it was possible does not make it so, and no specific archaeological evidence is cited to support the claim (76-77).

The idea of convergence – albeit in a reversed fashion – continues into the next chapter, "Sicily and the Greeks." Malkin convincingly claims that the emergence of a Sikeliote identity was the result of the presence of Greeks from many different poleis on the island and their interactions with one another in this colonial context. In Malkin's view, the altar of Apollo Archegetes at the site of the destroyed city of Naxos in Sicily played a pivotal role in the development of a distinctive Sikeliote identity, and Naxos thus emerges as a point of convergence for the inhabitants of the Greek colonies on Sicily. This Sikeliote identity was then, according to Malkin, reinforced in an ongoing dialogue between the Greek cities of Sicily and the great Panhellenic centers of Olympia and Delphi, with the Sicilian theoroi acting as a "ritual intermediary" (110). Malkin views Delphi as being of particular significance in this formulation, due to the significance of the Delphic oracle as a topos in so many of the foundation stories of the Greek colonies (114).

Chapter 4, "Herakles and Melqart," continues the focus on Sicily, and is an updated version of an earlier article by Malkin on the same topic.1 Here Malkin undertakes an analysis of the cults of the Greek hero/god Herakles and the Tyrian Phoenician Melqart with particular reference to western Sicily. In Malkin's framework the syncretic Herakles/Melqart acts as a mediating figure not only between the Greeks and Phoenicians but also between these groups and the indigenous peoples of western Sicily. According to Malkin, this mythical framework provides a medium by which a level of acculturation is reached between the indigenous inhabitants of a region and more recent immigrants in the disputed geographical area of western Sicily. As such, western Sicily functioned as a "middle ground," defined as "a field with some balance of power in which each side plays a role dictated by what it perceives to be the other's perception of it, resulting from mutual misrepresentation of values and practices" (46).

In Chapter 5, "Networks and Middle Grounds in the Western Mediterranean," Malkin turns his attention to the settlements associated with the city of Phokaia in Asia Minor. The incredibly large number of settlements, the extent of the area settled, and the extended period of time in which these settlements were founded and flourished was a phenomenon that drew attention to these colonies even in ancient literary sources. Here once again Malkin sees the Phokaian colonies in southern France and eastern Spain functioning as a middle ground, "forming local, intensive clusters with a few significant links to long-distance Mediterranean networks" (45). The center of this Phokaian network, he argues, was not Phokaia nor any of the many colonies involving Phokaians, but rather the Mediterranean itself, an argument that forms a crucial part of the book as a whole: "The 'center' was the entire Archaic Mediterranean, free from any mare nostrum claims. It was multiethnic, multicultural, and, most important, multidirectional. 'Greece' was no central place radiating outward. The perspective needs to be reversed: the 'Greece' of our own abstraction had evolved from the network, the result of both outward and backward currents along the network lines" (164).

The Phokaian network explored in Chapter 5 serves as the basis for Chapter 6, "Cult and Identity in the Far West," in which Malkin explores the development of interrelated levels of identity in the western Mediterranean (most specifically in southern France and in Spain). Just as the syncretic relationship between Herakles and Melqart was of particular significance in the middle ground of western Sicily, Malkin notes the importance of the cult of Ephesian Artemis in the Phokaian colonies of the western Mediterranean. He identifies at least five levels of identity at work in this region, beginning with the polis and moving upwards through Phokaian, regional, Ionian, and finally Hellenic identities. The result of the interaction of these various levels of identity, as well as the interactions of Greek actors with the non-Greek peoples of the western Mediterranean, was the development of a "stabilizing, conservative dynamic of networks… While in other colonies and poleis emphasis and form could vary greatly, the reverse was true in the far west. It is precisely the 'missionary,' mediating function of the cult that kept the prominence, form, and customs associated with the goddess as conservative as possible…It is the network that solidifies the cult, a dynamic characteristic of decentralized networks in general" (202).

Malkin handles a wide variety of different types of evidence with aplomb, but while he does discuss some archaeological evidence the case studies are based primarily upon historical arguments. In particular, I wished for more specific figures concerning the trade in material objects in the areas under discussion, which would have enabled a detailed analysis of the spread of the networks on the ground, so to speak. For example, Malkin references a commercial network amongst the Phokaian colonies in eastern Spain and southern France, offering as evidence two inscribed lead tablets. He argues that the commercial network spans people of numerous different backgrounds, including Etruscans, Phokaian Greeks, and indigenous inhabitants of the area, amongst others. Given that Malkin has already characterized the area as a cultural middle ground, the inclusion here of specific archaeological data concerning what we know about goods being traded in the area would have enhanced the discussion.

In terms of production the book is generally well done. The maps that are included are quite useful, although one might have wished for a few more specific maps keyed to particular areas of analysis, rather than having to scour the more general ones for the relevant information. I noticed a few errors and inconsistencies in the text, but they do not detract from the overall structure of what is a well-written volume.

I did notice what seemed to be a level of uneasiness about the audience for the book, which might perhaps be a factor of it being the inaugural volume of the series. On the one hand, Malkin assumes a decent level of familiarity with various scholarly discourses in Classics surrounding the phenomenon of colonization, the formation of ethnic identities, and even some other, more specialized, debates such as that surrounding the gods of Naukratis in the postscript to chapter 2. On the other hand, he takes the time and effort to gloss basic terms and concepts with which I would expect most readers to be familiar.2 While not a major deterrent, this was occasionally distracting.

These quibbles aside, this book is a major achievement. It is thoughtful and stimulating, and will hopefully – as Malkin himself notes on page 224 – provide a useful conceptual framework for advancing studies of any number of specific areas of Greek history, language, and culture. Not only should this volume become essential reading for anyone interested in Greek colonization, the processes of identity formation, and the history of the Archaic Mediterranean, but students of the ancient Greek world in general should also find much of interest.


1.   Malkin, I. (2005), "Herakles and Melqart: Greeks and Phoenicians in the Middle Ground," in Cultural Borrowings and Ethnic Appropriations in Antiquity. Oriens et Occidens 8, E. Gruen (ed.), Stuttgart: 238-57. See, however, the criticisms of Carla Antonaccio (which, to be fair, were probably published too late for Malkin to respond to directly here): Antonaccio, C.M. (2010), "(Re)defining Ethnicity: Culture, Material Culture, and Identity," in Material Culture and Social Identities in the Ancient World, S. Hales and T. Hodos (eds.), Cambridge: pp. 32-53.
2.   For example: "temenos," "proxenos," and "apoikia", among other terms, and concepts such as Apollo being worshipped at Delphi and Zeus at Olympia (92) or the age of Sicilian tyrants being "mostly during the fifth century" (99).

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