Thursday, May 30, 2013


Carole E. Newlands, Statius, Poet between Rome and Naples. Classical literature and society. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2012. Pp. ix, 214. ISBN 9781780932132. $12.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Giulia Brunetta, Royal Holloway (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This new monograph on Statius by C. Newlands follows her previous book, "Statius' Silvae and the poetics of empire", but represents a decisive step forward in the appreciation of different aspects of the poetry of Statius and his reception. Readers should not be misled by the title, which refers to the last chapter of the book: the whole comprises different discussions of Statius' epic works and the Silvae.

In the introduction, Newlands places Statius in the particular historical moment of the Flavian dynasty, and emphasizes the elements of tension and distress that the epic works of the Achilleid and Thebaid raise in such a troubled period of the Roman empire. Moreover, the introduction focusses on more interesting aspects of the poetic personality of Statius, such as his cosmopolitanism (being a Roman and Neapolitan poet), and his identity as auctor and his reception as such, especially in the Middle Ages. Finally, Newlands explains how these themes will feature in the following four chapters.

Chapter 2, 'Misconceptions about Statius' represents a crucial part of the volume with regard to the author's ideological approach to Statius, as Newlands reasserts part of the negative critique of the Flavian poet developed in the past decades. Her argument starts from questioning Domitian's direct patronage of Statius, giving evidence of the paucity of references to direct commissions from the imperial court (with the exception of Silv.. 1.1, 4.2 and 4.3). She rightly observes the unnecessary dichotomy that traditionally divided scholars when approaching Statius' encomiastic strategy, suggesting either passive flattery or subtly hidden subversion of the power of the court. However, it is interesting and also quite surprising to notice that Newlands does not make any reference to her earlier alignment with the subversive line of interpretation of the Silvae. (supported mainly by Frederick Ahl) that so much featured in her previous monograph on the collection. Despite some occasional persistence of her old view in the book, the more balanced position towards the encomiastic strategy of Statius is in fact in line with the general trend of most scholarship on the Flavian poet. According to the general view embraced here also by Newlands, the dialogue between court poets and political power is more complex than it might seem at a first reading, and the ambiguity of encomiastic language reflects the complex dynamics of literary production in the imperial age. Newlands pinpoints the main features of Statius' language of praise and remarks (with examples) how 'figured speech', emphasis and ecphrasis play a particularly important role, especially in contexts of praise of the emperor. Newlands attempts in particular to prove Statius' involvement with his addressees and to highlight the dialogue he creates with patrons and friends. She expands this argument to Statius' relation to contemporary authors such as Martial, Silius Italicus and Valerius Flaccus. Even if the possible interrelations, quotations and borrowings among the poets are a difficult point to demonstrate, the analysis of the figure of Hypsipyle in Valerius Flaccus and in the Thebaid reveals the complex and new interpretation of epic voices in the post-Augustan era.

Chapter 3, 'Boundaries', approaches the theme of both physical and metaphorical boundaries and limits, and discusses how Statius' poetry (epic and occasional) hovers between balance and transgression. The theme of limes however allows the author to interpret the famous passage in the recusatio proem of the Thebaid as a refusal to write epics about contemporary imperial subjects. In this sense, Newlands interprets Domitian's predicted deification as a 'cosmic disruption' (pp. 49-50). The negative reading, which follows, of the comparison between Domitian and Phaethon as charioteer in the sky raises some questions, since positive interpretations of this particular image have recently been convincing (Dewar already on the famous passage from Lucan, and Rosati on the Thebaid, as also quoted by Newlands). Moreover, I would add that in Silv. 4.3, 135-138, a hint at the episode of Phaethon is included in the encomium of Domitian, therefore making this image quite a familiar comparison for the emperor. One last remark needs to be made about Domitian's 'competition' with Jupiter for a place in the sky, which Newlands interprets unnecessarily in a negative way. The comparison of the earthly ruler with the heavenly one (and often the former's superiority) is traditional in imperial encomia. The analysis of water as a geographical and ideological boundary in the Thebaid is followed by a discussion of the geographical spaces that in the Achilleid represent the scenario of Achilles' growth and education. The last part of the chapter is dedicated to the analysis of ecphrasis as a constitutive narratological element of Statius' poetry. Newlands gives due consideration to Statius' particular attention to the use of ecphrasis with a specific example, the patera appearing in the first book of the Thebaid, interestingly analysed in its proleptic function of displaying the horrors and distress of war. However, Newlands possibly goes a little too far in applying the same negative connotations of Medusa, as displayed on the cup, to her presence on Domitian's equestrian statue in Silv. 1.1 as "a sign of the potential for transgression and violence at the heart of any great imperial power" (p. 84).

In chapter 4, entitled 'Statius Auctor', Newlands discusses the fortune of Statius during the Middle Ages, when the Thebaid and the Achilleid featured as key-texts in school education. She goes back to the mixed representation of Achilles as a liminal figure of change and gender ambiguity. Starting from Statius' flattering elevation of his own father over Achilles' first educator Chiron, Newlands argues that the complex and troubled heroic model developed in the epic poems represents a novelty in contemporary theory of education. More interestingly, the author uncovers how in the reception of the model of Achilles in the Middle Ages, this element of originality is dropped, in favour of a more traditional masculine model.

In chapter 5, called 'The double grief of Jocasta', the theme discussed is the display of lamentation in public and private contexts in the Thebaid and in the Silvae respectively. Once again Newlands unveils the elements of originality in how the poet gives space to female voices such as Ide, Hypsipyle and Jocasta, in moments of grief, and the possible instability caused by female lamentations. The following comparison with male grief in the Silvae aims at comparing public and private manifestations of sorrow: if in the Thebaid there seems to be no space for consolation or closure, in the Silvae instead the lavish display of grief is permitted and celebrated, as for example in Silv. 2.1. Perhaps Newlands underestimates the political (and therefore public) impact of Silv.5.1 in her distinction between public and private in the Thebaid and the Silvae. In this section Newlands has undoubtedly the merit of offering an intratextual analysis of grief in the Thebaid and in the Silvae, which too often are read as separate texts. The last part of the chapter deals with three examples of the reception of the Thebaid in the Latin and Vernacular tradition: the Cambridge songs, the Vita Aeduardi and Chaucer's epic poem Troilus and Criseyde . In analyzing the influence of Statius's text upon these later works, Newlands privileges the element of female voices as relevant in a time when female patronage and readership was valued. This last section of chapter 5 reveals a less-known aspect of the reception of the Thebaid: it certainly invites to further reading and represents a strong feature of the volume.

In the final chapter "Between Naples and Rome" which gives its title to the book, Newlands examines more in detail Silv. 3.5 and the celebration of Naples, in particular as an alternative living location to Rome. In this sense, the author marks the difference with the Augustan poets, where the praise of the native region is counterbalanced by the attractions of the capital. Newlands' focus on the virtues of Naples fits nicely with recent discussions on the 'double soul of Statius' as a fusion of Roman and Neapolitan identity.1 She carefully analyses the influences of Ovid, Virgil and Horace in modeling the lively portrait of Naples made by Statius. A closer attention to intertextual elements makes this section more convincing and detailed. On the other hand, Newlands avoids going too much into the analysis of a traditional topic of discussions of the, Silvae, i.e. the philosophical power of the villa and the redemption of luxury, as opposed to the conservative view of Seneca's Letters. The Statian creation of an idealized fusion of morality and modernity in its portrait of Naples and its citizens might still sound antipathetic to modern readers. However, in this sense it would have been beneficial to make clear that such idealization is part of the encomiastic strategy developed in the Silvae.

The book ends with the notes, bibliography, index locorum and general index.

Overall, this book covers different aspect of Statius' poetry, and has the merit of bringing together in one volume discussions of both the epic poems as well as the Silvae. This work offers a fresh and balanced view of more traditional topics of discussion such as the role of Statius as a court-poet and the new values promoted in the ecphrastic poems. At the same time, the examination of the reception of Statius and the Thebaid in the Middle Ages represents a step forward in the appreciation of a poet who too often has been overshadowed by other Classical authors.

The number of passages quoted in the original is limited, suggesting that the book is aimed at the general reader rather than classics specialists exclusively. In conclusion, this volume does justice to Statius the author both among his contemporaries and later followers and critics, and offers a more balanced appreciation of Statius' complex literary dynamics.

Table of Contents

Editor's foreword
1. Introduction
2. Misconceptions about Statius
3. Boundaries
4. Statius Auctor
5. 'The Double Grief of Jocasta'
6. Between Rome and Naples
Index Locorum
General Index


1.  G. Rosati 2011, I tria corda di Stazio, poeta Greco, Romano e Napoletano, in A. Bonadeo, A. Canobbio and F. Gasti (Eds), Filellenismo e Identità Romana in Età Flavia (Pavia: Collegio Ghisleri), 15-34.

(read complete article)


Denis Searby, Ewa Balicka Witakowska, Johan Heldt, ΔΩΡΟΝ ΡΟΔΟΠΟΙΚΙΛΟΝ: Studies in Honour of Jan Olof Rosenqvist. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia, 12. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet, 2012. Pp. 239. ISBN 9789155481070.

Reviewed by Florin Leonte, Central European University, Budapest (

Version at BMCR home site


This volume includes eighteen essays in English, French, and Italian, which were presented to Jan Olof Rosenqvist in gratitude for his many years in service to the field of Byzantine Studies. The papers cover a wide range of topics: hagiography, the history of literary genres, art history, and linguistics. The volume also highlights the importance of Professor Rosenqvist's research on Byzantine literature in general, and on saints' lives in particular. A comprehensive list of the dedicatee's publications precedes the papers. Each chapter is followed by an extensive bibliography.

Understandably, most articles deal with hagiography. In her study of the Life of St. Domnika, C. Amadou defends the importance of a text about which little is known. This vita offers evidence for changes in attitudes toward magical practices and reveals the hagiographer's efforts to draw a line between true miracles and satanic magic. P.A. Bodin discusses several cases of canonization in modern Russia, which, he argues, represent an important culture-generating phenomenon. Such canonizations have a twofold purpose: to serve the Russian Church in maintaining the memory of and settling accounts with the Soviet harassment of Christians, and to reinforce patriotic sentiment in post-communist Russia. S. Constantinou discusses The Life of Mary of Antioch, a text which differs from other Byzantine writings on holy women: a major element of hagiographical narratives, the detailed presentation of the saint's asceticism, is absent from the Life of Mary. The author argues that the uniqueness of this text can be explained by looking at its lay audience. With this vita, the hagiographer sought to provide guidance for the conduct and aspirations of lay people and not those of a monastic audience as is the case with most hagiographical works. V. Déroche looks into late antique epiphany, focusing on collections of the miracles of Cosmas and Damian and of Artemios. He concludes that late antique miracle collections conceive of divinity as a ubiquitous presence in the world. In this sense, such texts seem related to the ancient pagan writings, a continuity which is more visible than in the western world. The symbolic world of hagiography is explored by S. Efthymiadis on the basis of Leontios of Neapolis' Life of St. Symeon the Holy Fool. The author examines an episode involving Symeon's appearance in a sick person's dream where he is playing dice with Death. In the story, Symeon makes the perfect throw and persuades the person to stop sinning. This image of Death playing dice is unique for the Byzantine world. However, as noted, in the Christian West the representation of encounters between men and Death involve the game of chess. Two cases are further analyzed: a fifteenth-century mural by Albertus Pictor and a chess-game scene in Ingmar Bergman's movie The Seventh Seal. While there are similarities between Leontios' account and the western ones, it is also clear that the two different games (dice and chess) have deeper symbolical implications: if in the West chess stands for one's pursuit of rational knowledge, in the Byzantine East tyche (represented by dice) controls everyone's life.

D. Searby begins with a discussion of the meanings of encyclopedism. While taking into consideration previous definitions, Searby argues that texts that have been classified as "spiritual florilegia" display several encyclopedic traits. He explores the florilegia derived from John of Damascus' Sacra Parallela and focuses on the anthologies that are dependent on a text of pseudo-Maximus the Confessor, the Life of Cyril Phileotes. This hagiographical text is particularly interesting in that some of its chapters resemble a florilegium with the narrative reduced to a minimum. Searby argues that a pure florilegium is a "compilation of excerpts from other works in which the author's role is reduced to selection and arrangement." Finally, the meaning of encyclopedism is connected with enkyklios paideia and in this sense, he argues, we can regard florilegia as encyclopedic. A.-M. Talbot offers a translation of a brief vita written by Philotheos Kokkinos, Patriarch of Constantinople in the mid fourteenth century. Kokkinos was known for his lengthy hagiographical texts, but this one, The Life of St. Nikodemos, is unusually short. Nikodemos lived in Thessalonike in the early fourteenth century. Even though he joined the Philokales Monastery, he played the holy fool by living with prostitutes. In 1307, he was killed by some citizens of Thessalonike. Kokkinos' Life, which promotes the cult of Nikodemos, focuses on his saintly deeds, death, and miracles. S. Wahlgren tries to illustrate several principles of New Philology. He underlines the need to use manuscripts for more purposes than simply to reconstruct a text's original shape. If Western medieval texts have benefited from New Philology, Byzantinists are only now beginning to take advantage of this approach. Wahlgren looks into the manuscripts of the Chronicle of Symeon the Logothete and tries to measure the extent to which we can trace intentional change in the Logothete tradition. He concludes that we should take an interest in manuscripts as entities rather than just extracting from them the text for a critical edition. D. Westberg follows in the footsteps of J. O. Rosenqvist who, in his doctoral dissertation, analyzed the syntax of the Life of Theodore Sykeon by Georgios of Sykeon (seventh century). Westberg looks into the text's literary strategies and studies the particular symbolism involved in the distinction between civilization and wilderness. The author notices that, contrary to other scholars who highlighted the text's rhetorical deficiencies, this is certainly a "literary text." Furthermore, Westberg argues that in the vita Theodore is acting in the guise of a mediator not only between God and men, but between the ordered world and the wild.

Several studies deal with other kinds of Byzantine texts. A. A. Longo examines the sources of Theodore Prodromos' tetrastichs dedicated to the biography of Basil the Great to celebrate the feast of the Three Hierarchs in the first year of Alexios Komnenos' reign. The author identifies several sources, above all the texts of Gregory of Nazianzos. D. Afinogenov discusses the sources of two passages in Theophanes' History: the naval battle of Phoenix (655) and the beginning of the Arab conquest of Syria and Palestine (approximately 675). Afinogenov makes a comparison with George the Monk to solve some of the riddles posed by Theophanes' compilation techniques. The author concludes that the sections of Theophanes' history dedicated to the Arab conquest and the reign of Constans used four major sources: a pamphlet, oriental chronicles, a homily by Anastasios of Sinai, and a treatise on the origins of Islam. J. Akujärvi explores the construction of the periegetic genre by comparing Pausanias' Periegesis, Dionysius Periegetes, and Eustathius' Commentary. She asks how texts can be read after they became isolated from their literary context and argues that, despite the scarcity of sources, a periegetic genre can still be reconstructed. Akujärvi concludes that the influence of other genres (geography, ethnography, etc.) emerging in the texts of ancient authors can be evaluated only when the text is understood within its primary periegetic genre. B. Bydén focuses on the criticism of Aristotle in the dialogue Florentius by Nikephoros Gregoras (ca. 1337). Bydén offers a brief overview of Byzantine Aristotelianism, which was strongly influenced by the late antique tradition of Aristotelian commentary from Porphyry onwards. The study deals with the dialogue's unconnected thoughts on natural philosophy which seem to belong to a unitary philosophical system. However, as the author suggests, there is no clear proof for such a system. Instead, the dialogue seems rather to deal with the "freedom and limitations inherent in radical epistemological pessimism." B. Dahlman discusses one of the most interesting collections of Apophthegmata patrum, the so-called Sabaitic collection, a text copied in 1071 at the monastery of St. Sabas, Palestine. This collection was created for a monastic audience, as indicated by its composite nature that makes it different from a pure collection of apophthegmata. This nature is reflected in the fact that along with the apophthegmata placed in alphabetical order by the names of the desert fathers or mothers, the Sabaitic collection also includes more extensive narratives and passages from other monastic texts (e.g. Moschos' Pratum Spirituale and Palladius' Historia Lausiaca). The comparison with other collections of apophthegmata indicates that the Sabaitic collection survived in five manuscripts. Dahlman also argues that several manuscripts transmitted a second stage in the textual tradition. Finally, it seems that the collection combines the tradition of the systematic collections with apophthegmata transmitted through older textual traditions. L.-M. Peltomaa analyzes a kontakion by Romanos Melodos that includes a portrayal of the wife of Potiphar from the Old Testament. This kontakion was composed to urge people to abstain from desires of the flesh so they can celebrate the Resurrection. The analysis reveals that Romanos deliberately employed this story in order to increase his listeners' appreciation of this female character, whom he lets shake the established political order. Arguably, Romanos alluded to historical events when writing this kontakion, for there is evidence that the female figure he created for the wife of Potiphar was credible in the eyes of his audience. J. Blomqvist explores the use of the particle πλήν, a linguistic detail which, arguably, illustrates a phenomenon typical of Biblical Greek. Evidence shows that in the New Testament πλήν was used with the same meaning as in the Old Testament. Moreover, this use of the particle πλήν cannot be found in extra-Biblical Greek. Thus, in Biblical contexts, πλήν appears to have an affirmative meaning, most probably borrowed by the translators from the Hebrew of the Old Testament.

Two studies are concerned with art-historical issues: E. Witakowska and W. Witakowski discuss the paintings in the church of Yemrehanna Krestos (Ethiopia). The analysis of the painting and the dedicatory inscriptions indicate that the donors were clergymen and most probably monks. One piece of evidence for that is the preference for monastic figures. Thus, we have St. Alexius who incorporates all monastic virtues, St. Kiros, a Coptic hermit-monk, St. Libanos and Takla. Furthermore, it appears that the donors were educated, with a good knowledge of Scripture, who commissioned the paintings and the inscriptions with the prayers as elements of a well thought-out project. B. Kiilerich analyzes the uses of chromatic effects by Byzantine artists. The study of sculpted images, mosaics, and painted objects in church interiors (e.g., the Lips Monastery) reveals that in their works artists made conscious use of polychromy and polymateriality. The composition of artistic objects indicates that they were elements of carefully planned, major artistic programs. This is indicated by the layout of the images which was created according to a system of proportions designed to generate an effect of harmony. The author argues that such harmonious proportions were meant to reflect God's order where the artistry of both the parts and the whole had to be equally rendered. That is why in Byzantium one will find a poikilia of materials and colors instead of monochromy.

It is not easy to do full justice to a book that includes many articles from such a wide range of topics. Noticeably, some of the contributions try to connect medieval phenomena to aspects of modern life. As with many edited collections, the contents might have been arranged differently. Perhaps a thematic or a chronological order would have been helpful. That minor issue aside, this is a valuable collection of essays and a worthy tribute to the research of Professor Rosenqvist.

(read complete article)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Lucio Cristante, Luciano Lenaz, Martiani Capellae De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii. Vol. 1, Libri I - II. Bibliotheca Weidmanniana, 15.1. Hildesheim: Weidmann, 2011. Pp. xciv, 406. ISBN 9783615003918. €68.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Danuta Shanzer, Institut für Klassische Philologie, Mittel- und Neulatein, Universität Wien​ (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

This collaborative edition and commentary with an Italian translation of Martianus Capella's De Nuptiis 1-2 began in the 1990s with a translation of Books 1-2 by Lenaz with annotation for the general reader. A change of press followed that enabled it to be re-written at greater length with a different focus. Lenaz's notes on Books 1-2 formed the nucleus, but were updated and expanded by Cristante and his then doctoral advisee I. Filip (attributions on p. 94). The commentary on Book 2 is presented as a light revision of Lenaz's magisterial work of 1975 (with a nicer layout than the original).1 P. Ferrarino's "La prima, e l'unica, Reductio omnium artium ad philologiam, Il De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii di Marziano Capella e l'apoteosi della filologia"2 plus two unpublished membra disiecta of Ferrarino's on "Philosophy and Philology" and on the "Continuity of the Method" are (re)printed at the end. The volume is considered provisional, and there are plans for a web site of the text and commentary that will enable ongoing updates (ix). Since much of this material has been previously published, I will concentrate on the new material related to Book 1. A version of this review longer than fits the parameters of BMCR will appear in Wiener Studien.

This is neither a critical edition with apparatus, nor a "virtual edition" (where departures from a known standard text are noted in a negative apparatus), but a composite text furnished with a collation of Willis' and Dick's texts. The hitch: while departures can be clearly seen if one looks at the table on pp. lxxxvi-xciv, their ontological status is at first unclear. Both manuscript readings and conjectures are reduced to one level, and one cannot discern the authority behind, or nature of, any given reading without recourse to the notes.3 Sometimes even there the source of a conjecture is unclear.4

The text is deeply conservative. There are dark hints in the introduction (vii "interventi;" l "peggiori servizi") about excessively interventionist textual criticism, presumably a backlash against Willis (and perhaps myself). The editors do not feel that the paradosis is as hopeless as previous editors all the way back to Securus Melior Felix in late antiquity had suggested. (There are moments when one wonders whether "stato della tradizione" means essentially Dick's edition!)5 And they rarely saw an emendation they didn't dislike. Only occasionally is a reading of the archetype labeled "absurd."6 The authors at lxxxiii say that there is no reliable edition or acceptable translation, thinking presumably of Willis, Stahl-Johnson-Burge, and Ramelli.7 The latter, after being reviewed rather summarily in one journal,8 here suffers damnatio memoriae, banished even from the bibliography.9 There is likewise, we are reminded, no comprehensive commentary. While Books 1 and 2 have, it is true, not yet appeared, the authors do not mention the editions of other books (4, [Ferré, 2007] 7 [Guillaumin, 2003]); appearing in the Collection des Universités de France. The implication is clear: Martianus has been going to hell in a hand-basket since Kopp in 1836.

This reviewer cowers sheepishly as the author of a previous translation and commentary on Book 1 (1986).10 But Martianus is difficult, and times have changed. Digital resources have considerably simplified certain sorts of research. This review provides an opportunity to revisit and rethink Martianus more than two decades later. After all, Wissenschaft, as Max Weber rightly said, is the profession in which one's work is meant to be superseded, surpassed, and outdated.11 And we should thank the authors for trying to bring the bibliography on the text up-to-date12 and working new material into Lenaz's commentary on Book 2.13

The introduction touches on historical problems such as dating. It does not take account of Hays, B.G. "The Date and Identity of the Mythographer Fulgentius." JMLat 13 (2003): 163-252 for a new, and much later, dating of Fulgentius. The authors date Securus' subscription early (498) with Cameron, arguing (lix) that many decades would be needed before the text became mendosissimus, thereby presumably seeking to push back Martianus' date to earlier in the 5th C. Plausible sounding — but, from what one can observe in medieval traditions, where autograph and earliest witnesses are contemporary, not a "slam dunk." The issue is not intervening time, but the quality of the first copyings.

In 1986 I argued that Dracontius, Reposianus, the Aegritudo Perdicae, and Martianus were contemporary.14 Since Dracontius has known chronological coordinates, this suggested a date under the Vandals in the later 5th C. The authors fail to discuss or take on these arguments in the appropriate place, namely at lviii-lvix, and coyly date the work to the 4th-5th centuries (liii), alluding at l to a "presunta età tarda." Cristante had already passed over my discussion in his Reposianus (1999), though he did mention Martianus, as of uncertain date.15 He is, however, inclined, to follow16 his compatriot Gualandri, who, argued that Dracontius used Reposianus!17 My argumentation is swatted aside in the commentary to 1.1 at p. 97 "non sembrano probanti." Where is the "because . . ." that we regularly exhort our graduate students to include?

Instead, the only information about the date that the authors countenance is (lviii) Schievenin's idea18 that 9.999 proconsulari vero dantem culmini must refer to the Byrsa. Now the Byrsa is occasionally called an arx, but never a culmen, mons, or collis. But proconsulari . . . culmini might best be seen within the context of late antique bureaucratic honorifics, where high offices (e.g. prefectures and consulships) are frequently designated as a culmina.19 The text is probably corrupt,20 there were proconsuls (Victorianus of Hadrumetum and Pacideius are known, probably serving as judges), under the Vandals, and one fails to see how a terminus ante quem of 429 follows inevitably. Yet the commentary is multivocal (at 308 Symphosius, Vandalic, is said to be contemporary of, or slightly later than Martianus!). Fortunately the evidence for the date with a full bibliography can now be found in C. O. Tommasi's fine new, Bee-Orchid.21 (On a related question, at lxxv the commentators sound curiously skeptical about the metrical tractate in Oxford, Bodleian Addit. C. 144 that Mario de Nonno attributed to Martianus, pending the publication of the full text.22)

The commentary is annoying if one doesn't know the text by heart because the authors have not provided references for every lemma, only discreet running heads that might easily be taken for page numbers. Kopp chapters are too long, and some subsystem of reference, such as sentence-numbers, would have been desirable.

Some general points. Imagine that Position A used to be standard. Scholar B then came and argued for Position B. Should Commentator C ignore or dismiss B without refutation? Or has the onus probandishifted with B's argumentation, so that C needs to take account of B rather than just reasserting A? This reviewer believes that once a non-risible argued counter-opinion is "out there," it needs to be responded to. One cannot just shovel sand over it and hope no one will notice, or dismiss it with "pace" or ignore it. There is a considerable amount of the silent treatment here,23 which detracts from progress. That is one pole. At the other end comes what seems like compulsion to disagree for disagreement's sake.24

Profound philosophical differences divide the approach of the Italian team and those of Martian scholars from the Anglo-American tradition. The former tilt against pretty much each and every emendation from Grotius' to my own. The invariable answer: "non è necessario," or "né è necessario."25 The attitude to hapax legomena is schizophrenic. Some must be removed; 26 some defended even at cost to the relationship between text and translation.27 What can one say? Part of the work of the commentator and textual critic is to point to, or discern problems, even if they can't be solved. Diagnostic conjectures can approach problems humbly but constructively. The work would be more useful if it addressed divergences from Willis directly and discussed the underlying issues in places where Willis and others have offered emendations that the editors here reject. But the nonchalance of the notes merely displaces problems to the translation.

The translation can be ad sensum rather than ad verbum. The authors will defend some reading peremptorily, only to glide over it or elide it in the translation. Many of these re-assertions of the paradosis raise greater questions than they solve.28 There is often fuzziness and lack of precision about which word means what and what work it is doing in the sentence. In one place the translation and the note seem to have been written by different people who had not communicated.29

New parallels can be very helpful, and there are some nice contributions in this area: e.g. 1.2 Porph. Abst. 4.9.5; 1.10 Symm. Ep. 4.33; 1.11 Indicus mons: Apollo allegedly lured to Colophon (Lact. Inst. 1.7), but what of the tone? ; 1.17 risum Iovis and its possible relation to creation in Hermetic texts; 1.39 proximo contiguoque as legal language with parallels from the CTh. 2.123 cui panditur . . . tonantis: citation of CIL 6.1779 epitaph of Praetextatus; 2.133 lectica: information about imperial litters.

Someone sat down at the Library of Latin Texts and went iunctura-hunting, a laudable modern luxury. But the results, about which we are incessantly informed ('il nesso non è altrimenti attestato"), fail to meet the "So what?"-test. This iunctura only occurs here30 or in multiple places ("here" and "here" and "here.")31 The information's function is unclear.32 These iuncturae do not demonstrate anything, but seem to be information for information's sake. Occasionally their indiscriminate inclusion undermines the argument in the note.33 Electronic information repositories seem to be excessively popular in many contemporary commentaries.34

This volume yearns for yesteryear's snows and wars. It beats a dead horse about Martianus' Greek (lv) and also his lowly cultural niveau, speaking (lii) of "pregiudizi duri a morire: l'autore sarebbe troppo tardo e quindi troppo ignorante e maldestro per presentare consapevolezza della propria operazione culturale." Hell no! Martianus has come a long way, baby. See now (amazingly!) J. Henderson reviewing Schievenin in this very venue.35

When the author of one commentary reviews another one on the same text, the situation can feel uncomfortable or invidious. Commentaries should identify problems, attempt to solve them, present new ideas and future lines of research. Much of this commentary tells us that there are no problems; it is hard to pinpoint new solutions to problems in the new material here,36 and likewise new constructive ideas. Immense progress was made by Robert Turcan's dissertation,37 by Lenaz's 1975 commentary, and by James Willis' 1983 Teubner edition. Unfortunately I cannot say the same of the new material in this commentary.

[For a response to this review by Lucio Cristante, please see BMCR 2013.08.25.]


1.   There seems to be more than light revision.
2.   IMU 12 (1969): 1-7.
3.   E.g. My conjecture (virago for vertigo at 2.170) is listed as Willis' reading with no further clarification (324). The same happened to Grotius' cunctamento at 1.6.
4.   2.125 Platoni[s]: p. 287 "si propone di leggere . . ." Comparison with L. Lenaz, Martianus Capella: De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii liber secundus. Introduzione, traduzione e commento (Padova: 1975), 196 suggests that McDonough had already chosen this reading ("lezione"). But neither Willis' nor Dick's apparatus show any variant in the MSS.
5.   E.g. the assertion (100) that my "nugales ineptias" is a "doppia emendazione," despite the fact that ineptias is a transmitted reading. Nugales is the emendation: Dick read "nugulas ineptas."
6.   1.37 limata, 177.
7.   Ramelli, I. Le nozze di Filologia e Mercurio: testo latino a fronte. (Milano: 2001).
8.   Schievenin, Romeo. "Trappole e misteri di una traduzione." BStudLat 33.2 (2003): 581-90.
9.   She may be the target at p. L, n. 14 on "disconcerting recent attempts to translate."
10.   D. R. Shanzer, A Philosophical and Literary Commentary on Martianus Capella's De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii Liber 1 (Berkeley: 1986).
11.   "Science as a Profession and Vocation," in H. H. Bruun and S. Whimster, eds., Max Weber: Collected Methodological Writings (London: 2012), 341.
12.   Important omissions noted: Fontanella, V. "Mercurio alla ricerca di Apollo-Sole. La teoria geoeliocentrica di Eraclide Pontico nel De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii di Marziano Capella, libro I 8-26." AIVeneto 135 (1977): 305-22. And the more recent Fontanella, V. "L'apoteosi di Virtù : (Mart. Cap. 1, 7-26)." Latomus 51 (1992): 34-51. Also Shanzer, D. R. "Augustine's Disciplines: Silent diutius Musae Varronis?" In Augustine and the Disciplines, ed. K. Pollmann and M. Vessey. 69-112. Oxford, 2005, would have been relevant for lv, lxvii-ix, and 271. At 95-96 I argue that the debate is about whether the liberal arts will be presented by personifications or not.
13.   E.g. Turcan [op. cit. at n. 37 infra] on initiation at 251; the material on the Oracula Chaldaica in the commentary on 2.202-206, pp. 343-44.
14.   Shanzer, A Philosophical and Literary Commentary, 17-21.
15.   L. Cristante, Reposiani Concubitus Martis et Veneris, Bollettino dei classici. Supplemento (Roma: 1999), 8-9.
16.   ibid., 9. "tendo a concordare con Isabella Gualandri nel considerarlo imitato."
17.   I. Gualandri, "Problemi draconziani," RIstLomb 108 (1974): 882: traces a line from the Pervigilium Veneris to Reposianus and thence to Dracontius.
18.   Schievenin, R. "Marziano Capella e il proconsulare culmen," Latomus 45 (1986): 797-815.
19.   Amm. Marc. 28.4.3 ex magistro officiorum, ad proconsulatum geminum indeque multo postea ad praefecturae culmen euectus; Paul. Pell. 34 illic, ut didici, ter senis mensibus actis/sub genitore meo proconsule rursus ad aequor/expertasque uias reuocor, uisurus et orbis inclita culminibus praeclarae moenia Romae. Aus. Praef. 1.35 cuius ego comes et quaestor et, culmen honorum; Cass. Var. 1.42 ad praefecturae urbanae culmen erigimus; Cod. Theod. 6.6.1; 7.4.32; 14.16.1 a tui culminis indagine; Ruf. HE 9.1.2 praefecturae culmen regebat; Paul. Petr. 2.655 Arborius, mundi eximio perfunctus honore, /clarus praecelsae qui culmine praefecturae, etc.praefectus Gallis et Libyae et Latio.
20.   At least as regards vero. Schievenin notes that vero is one of the weakest adversatives and translates "generazioni ignoranti ti hanno visto, rabbioso, soppesare nei processi blateramenti canini e rivolgerli inoltre al culmen proconsulare."
21.   C. O. Tommasi, The Bee-Orchid: Religione e cultura in Marziano Capella, ed. C. Moreschini, Storie e Testi (Napoli: 2012), 19-32, supporting the later dating.
22.   M. de Nonno, "Un nuovo testo di Marziano Capella : la metrica," RFIC 118 (1990) 129-44. Their skepticism dates back a while. See Cristante, L. 1997: «Dal Tardoantico al Medioevo: il De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii di Marziano Capella e la tradizione delle artes nella scuola carolingia», in H. Schefers (ed.), Einhard. Studien zu Leben und Werk dem Gedenken an Helmut Beumann gewidmet, Darmstadt, 57-66, at 64.
23.   E.g. at xlv: Where are Willis' many textual critical articles on the De Nuptiis?
24.   E.g. the note on 1.7 diadema: the authors insist in disagreement with me that the diadem cannot represent eternity, although Jove took it from the head of Aeternitas. It must, according to them, be a symbol of royalty. Psyche's immortality is guaranteed, they say, not by the diadem, but by Jove's symbolic gesture. [[25] Exceptionally: 2.142, p. 306: an emendation of mine is characterized as 'facilior;" also 2.157, p. 317 where an interpretative suggestion of mine is argued to be, "inutile." At 2.199 a suggestion of Willis' is partially exploited.
26.   1.6 luculentas : luculent<i>tas.
27.   1.8 semivulsis, where the "semi"-element seems unexplained in relationship to vello, i.e. why not simply "avulsis?".
28.   E.g. Lvii discussing 9.931 quia eadem voce nos uti summus Iuppiter statuit (rejecting Willis' conjecture vetuit, which seems required by the sense: after all the note is called adquisitus in Latin, not proslambanomenos. "The first note is called the "proslambanomenos" by the Greeks, but among the Romans, because Jupiter ordered/forbade us to use the same word, it is called "'adquisitus.'" The construction of statuo without ut is anomalous. Also Lxxxi, n. 99 Willis' excision of visum at 6.579 'videbis istic depingi quidquid verbis [visum] non valeas explicare' is rejected. With the excision, the sentence means, "You will see depicted in it (i.e. the geometrical sand-board) whatever you are not able to set out in words. If one keeps visum, the position of verbis is awkward for construction with explicare. The commentators seem to want to construe quidquid visum together as "whatever image produced by the mind that cannot find expression in words," despite the fact that with that hyperbaton, verbis would have to modify visum (which is nonsensical). The net meaning of the sentence with Willis's expunction is the same as what the translators suggest, but without serious problems with the word-order.
29.   The note on 1.2 nictantis problematizes nictans as meaning "sleepy," (though the translation reads "mezzo addormentato") and draws attention to "blink" or "wink." The note cites Porph. Abst. 6.4.7 where Egyptian priests are said to be able to prevent themselves from blinking, even though they have stayed up all night. The point is presumably that Martianus has the unblinkingness of the good Egyptian priests in mind and that there is contrast imitation. But the note sounds garbled and could be better reconciled with the translation.
30.   For example at pp. 105 (a plethora of such notes), 116, 141, 143, 153, 154, 162, 175, 213, 295, 307, to name only a few.
31.   For example at pp. 107, 113, 115, 118, 146, 174.
32.   Typical is 1.7, p. 116 pasci foverique. Does "ripreso' mean that Verecundus knew Martianus? That Cl. Marius Victor wrote later than Martianus? If so, then these author's use of Martianus (if that is right), needs to be taken into account for purposes of dating.
33.   The note on 2.14 deorum sociari coetibus lists a few later Christian items that have angel,* not deor*. And the note on 2.132 gesticulationes consonas contains a random piece of information, that the "nesso" also occurs in Conradus de Mure. At 1.6 cuncta merito, Augustine, De Gen. ad litt. 3.16 is cited, which reads in fact cuncta merito considerata. At 1.19 the information supplied about vestigia (p. 142) in Martianus cuts both ways: both "traces," and "feet." At 1.21 mansura voluntas the parallel from Augustine simply isn't apposite: mansura does not modify voluntas in it.
34.   I am being less kind about the usefulness and purpose of such information than was D. P. Fowler, "Criticism as commentary and commentary as criticism in the age of electronic media," in Commentaries - Kommentare, ed. G. W. Most, Aporemata (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1999), 434 on the "infamous cf." For the essential problem see R.W. Mathisen in BMCR 2011.07.41.
35.   BMCR 2011.03.84.
36.   The team were braver than I and took on the sixteen regions of the heavens and the Liver of Piacenza with the expert guidance of G. Capdeville, "Les dieux de Martianus Capella," RHistR 233, no. 3 (1996): 251-99.
37.   R. Turcan, Ésotérisme et néoplatonisme chez Martianus Capella (1954).

(read complete article)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Francesco Montarese, Lucretius and his Sources: A Study of Lucretius, De rerum natura I 635-920. Sozomena, 12. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2012. Pp. xi, 314. ISBN 9783110194524. $126.00.

Reviewed by Frederik A. Bakker, Radboud University Nijmegen (

Version at BMCR home site

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

In De rerum natura I 635-920, Lucretius presents and refutes the views of three Presocratic philosophers on the ultimate constituents of matter: Heraclitus (635-704), Empedocles (705-829) and Anaxagoras (830-920). The first to systematically explore the possible sources for this passage was Rösler (1973),1 who in an admirably concise article argued that Lucretius' description of the three theories was based on second-hand reports, ultimately deriving from Aristotle and Theophrastus. Lucretius' direct source would have been an Epicurean work in which report and criticism of Presocratic theories went hand in hand, written either by Epicurus himself or by some later Epicurean philosopher.

To this subject – the sources of Lucretius DRN I 635-920 – Francesco Montarese has now devoted an entire monograph, a revised version of his PhD thesis. The aim of this work, the author states, is twofold: first to establish the nature of Lucretius's source or sources for the 'Critique' (as Montarese calls the passage), and second to show how Lucretius adapted the material taken from his source to suit his own purposes. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 mainly deal with the first aim, while chapter 4 is concerned with the second.

In the quest for Lucretius's sources two extreme positions can be discerned: on the one hand there are those who, like Piet Schrijvers,2 consider Lucretius an eclectic philosopher, actively engaged in the philosophical debates of his time, on the other hand such scholars as David Sedley,3 who prefer to see Lucretius as an Epicurean 'fundamentalist', whose sole philosophical source was Epicurus himself. Montarese sets out from the second position, paying an homage to Sedley (p.9) not unlike Lucretius's declaration of allegiance to Epicurus (DRN III 3-13). This does not prevent him, however, from severely criticising Sedley on several accounts.

Chapter 1 reads like an updated and expanded version of Rösler's article, covering more or less the same ground and reaching roughly the same conclusions. Montarese corrects Rösler on several points. In the section on Empedocles, for instance, Lucretius presents two theories that were certainly not held by Empedocles (in lines 763-68 and 782-802). While Rösler saw such passages as signs of Lucretius's ignorance of Empedocles's actual views, Montarese argues that Lucretius intentionally aimed his arguments at other versions of the four-element theory as well, so as to rule out every conceivable variant.

In chapter 2 Montarese challenges the theory, first put forward by David Sedley,4 that books XIV and XV of Epicurus's Περὶ φύσεως were the principal source of Lucretius's Critique. Through a detailed analysis of the remaining fragments, most of which he re-edited for the purpose, Montarese shows (a) that book XIV was not devoted to systematic criticism of earlier views, (b) did not single out Heraclitus as the main representative of monism (if he was mentioned at all), and (c) did not deal with Empedocles, but criticized Plato instead, and (d) that book XV was not devoted to criticism of Anaxagoras (if he was mentioned at all). Montarese concludes that books XIV and XV were not Lucretius's source. I found Montarese's argument in this chapter very convincing, although it was difficult to follow at times. One or two tables to summarize the findings would have been a great help. One wonders, moreover, if the conclusion could not have been reached on the basis of a smaller selection of fragments: some of the fragments needed so much explaining themselves that they hardly helped to support the argument. Besides, since Montarese concludes that Epicurus's Περὶ φύσεως XIV and XV were not Lucretius's source, there does not seem to be much point in lingering on the fragments.

In chapter 3 the problem of Lucretius's sources is studied from yet another angle. On the basis of internal as well as external evidence, Montarese concludes that, while most of DRN I seems to derive from Epicurus's Περὶ φύσεως I and perhaps II, the Critique itself comes from a different source. The available evidence does not, however, permit him to decide whether this source was a text by Epicurus himself or by some later Epicurean. Montarese also speculates on the reasons Lucretius might have had for placing the Critique in the middle of book I. The main reason, according to Montarese, would have been Lucretius's wish to contrast two different styles of writing philosophy – viz. those of Heraclitus (lines 639-44) and Empedocles (716-41), before making his own poetical statement in lines 921-50.

In chapter 4 Montarese goes on to identify and discuss a number of passages where Lucretius may have adapted, or added to, the material of his Greek source. The most important of these are the introductory sections to the refutations of Heraclitus and Empedocles, where Lucretius deals with the literary styles of these two Presocratics, unfavourably in the case of Heraclitus, but very favourably in the case of Empedocles, who was Lucretius's primary poetical model. In both sections, Montarese points out, Lucretius tries to capture and imitate the style of the philosopher under discussion. Although Lucretius does not formally deal with Anaxagoras's style, Montarese suggests that the repetitive and monotonous style that characterizes much of Lucretius's discussion of Anaxagoras, is meant to be a caricature of Anaxagoras's own style, which is thus implicitly criticized. Montarese also draws attention to the way many elements of the Critique recur both inside the Critique and in subsequent sections of Lucretius's work, to produce a kind of internal dialogue. I found this chapter by far the most interesting and stimulating of Montarese's book, even though I cannot agree with everything he writes. I do not believe, for instance, that Lucretius would have subscribed to some kind of 'atomology' (pp.186-90) – the belief that things (words / compound bodies) which share most of their elementa (letters / atoms), would for that reason be related: Lucretius's point is rather that the same elementa, differently combined, may constitute things that are very different.

The four chapters are followed by three appendices. In Appendix A Montarese argues against Sedley's thesis that Lucretius composed his work in two stages,5 in Appendix B Montarese tries to establish the original format of the scrolls containing Epicurus's Περὶ φύσεως XIV and XV, and Appendix C investigates whether Epicurus's Ad Herodotum and Ad Pythoclem reflect continuous books of his Περί φύσεως.

Although Montarese's book offers many new and important insights, it is not very accessible. Montarese does not always clearly identify his own contributions (especially in chapter 1), which makes it hard to assess the value of his work. He also assumes too much familiarity with Lucretius's text on the part of the reader: a brief outline of the Critique, to which the reader could refer from time to time, would have been most welcome. The argument is not always very transparent either: in chapter 2, for instance, it is very hard to form an overall picture of the structure of Epicurus's Περὶ φύσεως XIV and XV, especially since the fragments are not always discussed in their original order. One or two tables summarizing the results would have been very helpful.

Montarese's book is also riddled with mistakes, most of which could have been easily corrected by a proofreader, which makes one wonder if the book was proofread at all. The following list offers just a selection (!), leaving aside most of the smaller and unproblematic errors (of which there must be hundreds). On p.18 the reader is referred to p.16 for the claim (in my view incorrect) that the unnamed opponents whose theory is discussed in DRN I. 1052-113 presented the world as eternal, but there no such claim is made. On p.41 Montarese fails to mention that Diogenes of Oenoanda's 'doxographical list' is part of fragment 6. On p.42, n.142, 'see pp.47-49 above' should be 'see pp.47-49 below'. On p.70 'Lucretius's should be 'Epicurus'. On p.72 'cases instances' should be either 'cases' or 'instances'. On p.86 'Schrjivers' should be 'Schrijvers' (twice!). On p.90, n.259, 'see Appendix A below n.897' appears to be wrong: n.897 is part of Appendix B, not A, and does not answer the question for which it is referred to. On p.95 'εἰδόλων' should be 'εἰδώλων'. On p.107 between 'of a wind-like quality' and 'which does not have a name', something like 'and of a fourth kind' (corresponding to Greek 'ἐκ τετάρτου τινὸς') is missing. On p.117 the word 'ἀρχῶν' in fragment 24.2-3 is not translated. On p.136 'astrology' should be 'astronomy', and the same page fails to mention that 'fragment 25' is part of book XV. On p.155, after 'the body which our sense cannot' a word like 'perceive' or 'see' seems to have fallen out. On p.156, in Montarese's paraphrase of Lucretius's argument in DRN I 599ff (with Munro's supplement), the second occurrence of 'visible' should be emended to something like 'conceptual'. On p.191 DRN 1.934 is quoted with unmetrical 'omnia' instead of 'cuncta'. On p.201, in the translation of Heraclitus fr. B92 D-K, 'the lord where is the oracle' should be 'the lord whose oracle'. On p.218, n.665, Empedocles fragment B17.2 D-K, is quoted with 'τεθεπώς' instead of 'τεθηπώς'. On p.223, n.699, 'gigantomatic' should be 'gigantomachic'. On p.228, responding to a claim made by Campbell,6 Montarese writes: "But Epicurus could have picked up the Empedoclean language […] – as Campbell himself grants – from Plato's discussion of Empedocles's zoogony", but, as far as I know, no such discussion exists, nor does Campbell refer to one. On p.231, Furley is referred to without specific reference, and in n.722 on the same page 'Gower' should be 'Gowers' (as in the bibliography) and 'fiery hear' should be 'fiery heart'. On p.232, n.724, on Empedocles' use of the word 'αἰθήρ', a reference to Peter Kingsley, Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic, Oxford 1995, pp.15-23, would have been in order. On the same page the reference to n.271 should have been to n.721. On p.240 '850-52' should be '851-52', '858 and 918' should be '850 and 918', and on pp.240, 241 and 242 '917-20' should be '918-20'. On p.241 'μνηστρῆσι' should be 'μνηστῆρσι' and 'eat blood-dripping meat' should be 'ate blood-dripping meat'. On pp.247, 248 & 250 'the 22 letters of the alphabet' should be 'the 21 letters of the alphabet': see Cic. ND 2.37.93 (a text which Montarese himself refers to on p.247 n.785). On p.248 Montarese states that 'versibus of line 822 shares 6 of its 7 elementa with verbis of 823': here 822 and 823 should be 823 and 824 respectively, and 'versibus' of course has 8 elementa, not 7. On p.252 Montarese states that 'ignis and lignis share four elementa': I count five. On p.281 'The chances of the roll…' should be 'The chances that the roll …' On pp.309-313, the header should be 'General Index' instead of 'Generell Index'. Finally, on p.310 of the 'General Index' the reference to Epicurus, On nature XIV Col. LXI should be to Col. XLI, and a reference should be added to p.65. There should be a reference to Col. XLII as well, which is also mentioned on p.65.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Lucretius drew his Critique from an earlier Epicurean polemic
Chapter 2: Books XIV and XV of Epicurus' Περὶ φύσεως
Chapter 3: Lucretius' use of sources in DRN I
Chapter 4: Lucretius in the Critique


1.   W. Rösler, 'Lukrez und die Vorsokratiker: doxographische Probleme im I. Buch von "De rerum natura"', Hermes 101 (1973): 48-64.
2.   P.H. Schrijvers, Lucrèce et les sciences de la vie, Leiden 1999 (BMCR 1999.07.13).
3.   D.N. Sedley, Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom, Cambridge 1998 (BMCR 1999.10.29).
4.   Sedley (1998: 123-6, 145-6, 190-2).
5.   Sedley (1998: xvi-xvii, 155-57).
6.   G. Campbell, Lucretius on Creation and Evolution: a Commentary on De rerum natura 5.772- 1104, Oxford 2003 (BMCR 2004.06.26), p.102.

(read complete article)


Mauro Tulli (ed.), L'autore pensoso: un seminario per Graziano Arrighetti sulla coscienza letteraria dei Greci. Ricerche di filologia classica, 6. Biblioteca di Studi antichi 95. Pisa; Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2011. Pp. 224. ISBN 9788862272063. €95.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Novella Vismara, Università Milano Bicocca (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Il volume, curato da Mauro Tulli, raccoglie nove saggi critici relativi alla poesia greca offerti dagli allievi a Graziano Arrighetti, illustre studioso del periodo. Gli studi vertono intorno ad un unico tema: la riflessione degli autori antichi sull'attività letteraria propria o a loro precedente.

Le ragioni che hanno indotto il curatore Mauro Tulli a proporre un tema così peculiare sono illustrate nella 'Prefazione': studiare gli autori che, riflettendo sull'attività poetica, identificano quale compito dell'attività poetica la difesa della dignità dell'uomo, valore alla base anche dell'insegnamento e delle relazioni con gli studenti di Graziano Arrighetti.

Michele Buongiovanni (9-23), presenta il rapporto tra verità e poesia in Omero, Esiodo e Parmenide, a partire dall'incontro tra Eumeo e Odisseo. mentre per Omero la bellezza del canto può rendere vera la menzogna, mancando l'equivalenza tra bellezza e veridicità del racconto, per Esiodo (Teogonia 27-28), al contrario, le Muse sanno cantare anche la verità e la scelta spetta solo al poeta. Con Teogonia, quindi, Esiodo fonda una poetica nuova, basata proprio sulla verità che l'atto poetico rivela. La scelta, operata da Esiodo, di porre la verità al centro della propria poetica si ritrova anche in Parmenide, a lui strettamente connesso. L'opera di Parmenide però rivela strette connessioni con l'Odissea che consentono di impostare il discorso della poetica lungo due binari, quello della verità, legato alla natura dell'essere, e quello delle opinioni degli uomini, certamente affascinanti ma che in un ordine assoluto devono essere rigettate perchè non pertinenti all'essere.

Dino De Sanctis (25-50) dimostra come Esiodo, con la propria poetica, scardini i principi etici presenti nei poemi omerici, per rifondarli secondo le caratteristiche della società a lui contemporanea. Tra i molti principi discussi, è di grande interesse l'emulazione, vista in genere con valenza positiva, una delle caratteristiche che rendono gli aedi simili a Zeus. Per meglio comprendere il valore del termine, De Sanctis ritiene necessario analizzare i passi della Teogonia e degli Erga nei quali il termine ζ͠ηλος viene usato con accezione positiva o negativa. Mentre nella prima opera l'emulazione ha marcatamente una valenza positiva, nella seconda, con il decadimento dell'età del ferro e con la perdita di un modello corretto da seguire, si afferma anche come valore negativo.

Maria Raffaella Calabrese De Feo (51-70) analizza, partendo dalle notazioni autobiografiche introdotte per primo da Esiodo, il rapporto esistente tra il poeta e le Muse: Esiodo infatti da pastore diviene aedo proprio grazie all'incontro con le dee. I temi trattati in dettaglio sono: 'Esiodo e le Muse: un rapporto esclusivo', manifestato dalla citazione del proprio nome in relazione a quello collettivo delle dee, delle quali verranno citati per la prima volta di lì a poco i singoli nomi; 'Il nome Esiodo', per l'interpretazione del quale si adotta 'colui che emette la voce, il canto', un ulteriore elemento di centralità del rapporto del poeta con le Muse; 'Esiodo e le Muse: un rapporto privilegiato', ove l'impiego della prima persona in Teogonia 24-34 serve a rimarcare quanto fosse stata personale l'esperienza vissuta nell'incontro. Ugualmente, Esiodo parlando negli Erga 654-662 della propria attività di poeta ne tratterà in prima persona.

Michele Corradi (71-109) concentra la propria attenzione critica su Protagora, ed in particolare su come Platone ne ricostruisce l'interesse per la tradizione letteraria precedente. Nel Protagora, il Sofista argomenta come la poesia sia uno strumento di paideia, citando, a sostegno della tesi, numerosi autori antichi, primi dei quali Omero ed Esiodo. Con il confronto con anche altri trattati platonici, appare chiaro come per Platone stesso potesse essere stabilito un parallelo tra Protagora e i poeti nel loro ruolo educativo. Proprio questo stretto legame può aiutarci a comprendere il principio dell'uomo-misura che Platone presenta nel Teeteto (152a2-4) e Sesto Empirico nell'Adversus Mathematicos (VII 60). Corradi, analizzando l'impiego ed il significato del termine μέτρον conclude che per Protagora è impossibile l'incontro Muse / poeta, ed è l'uomo il μέτρον della realtà; contro questa visione argomenta Platone, impiegando gli stessi spazi retorici e le stesse armi formali del Sofista. Protagora ha elaborato le proprie teorie partendo dal profondo studio della tradizione letteraria relativa alla paideia ed alla verità.

Maria Isabella Bertagna (111-120), osserva alcuni passi: libro VI dell'Iliade, versi 503-514; Tucidide VI, 108, 4; Euripide, Baccanti, 200-203; Platone, Leggi (769b6-c 8) analizzando la presenza della costruzione dell'anacoluto che viene identificato quale potente sistema espressivo per attirare l'attenzione del lettore in passaggi di particolare importanza.

Mauro Tulli (121-133), analizza il proemio del Teeteto e le sua difficoltà testuali, partendo dall'analisi del commento conservato dal Papiro di Berlino 9782 (III 28-37), il cui autore conosce due incipit diversi, solo uno noto alla tradizione medievale. Interessante è analizzare l'opera impiegando il secondo, ritenuto spurio dal commentatore, nel quale "l fanciullo del Teeteto sostituisce la διήγησις per assumere un compito delicato e insolito: la μίμησις, con le maschere di Socrate, di Teodoro e di Teeteto". Attraverso numerosi dotti confronti, Tulli dimostra come Platone anteponga la διήγησις alla μίμησις, troppo legata al frazionamento dell'io e "priva di un sapere".

Mario Regali (135-155) individua "un rapporto ... fra tradizione letteraria e la definizione del demiurgo, della sua attività e della sua funzione" a cominciare dall'etimologia del nome 'demiurgo' che, pur avendo ben presente che l'etimologia "è uno strumento ben conosciuto nella produzione letteraria stessa", ha negli Erga(1-10) di Esiodo e nell'etimologia del nome di Zeus proposta in quella sede un modello. Numerosi altri spunti ripresi dagli Erga, analizzati puntualmente, mostrano come la riflessione di Platone tenga bel conto di questa opera nel Timeo, per affermare una nuova poetica, che si diversifica proprio partendo dalla conoscenza, dimostrata dall'impiego, dei linguaggi poetici precedenti.

Margherita Erbì (157-190) analizza i dieci frammenti, 36 versi in tutto, che testimoniano la presenza, nella commedia, di una maschera che riprende le caratteristiche di Demostene per comprenderne la funzione nella μέση. La maschera di Demostene comincia ad affermarsi nel periodo in cui l'Ateniese inizia la propria opposizione a Filippo, e sulle scene viene duramente attaccato per le proprie scelte, anche antimacedoni, riprendendo i giudizi che già Eschine aveva avanzato su di lui.

Giovanni Calvani (191-207), studia la funzione di ζητήσεις e λύσεις in Pindaro, partendo dall'autore che può essere interpretato quale primo esegeta di Pindaro nell'antichità: Platone nel Protagora (338e6-347b2). Tali ζητήσεις sono presenti anche negli scoli a Pindaro, ma sino ad oggi gli studiosi non si sono posti il problema del perché alcune difficoltà meritassero in antico un'analisi ed una spiegazione. Per cercare di rispondere all'interrogativo, la Calvani analizza prima le ζητήσεις esplicite e poi quelle nascoste ai testi di Pindaro, presentandone il contenuto: nel caso delle 23 esplicite ben 16 riguardano il mito, e quindi se ne deduce che "il mito in Pindaro creava difficoltà su cui la critica riteneva utile indagare". Anche quelle nascoste sono a soggetto prevalentemente mitico, ma perché non dichiarate? Perché verosimilmente redatte nel periodo, il II secolo, nel quale la formulazione ζητήσεις era scomparsa dall'uso.

Il volume si chiude con l''Indice dei passi citati' in tutti i contributi, mente la bibliografia impiegata chiude ogni singolo articolo.

I saggi raccolti ne L'autore pensoso raggiungono lo scopo che si sono prefissati, di illustrare la riflessione "critica" di un'autore sulla propria produzione letteraria e su quella a lui precedente. Pur nella diversità dei temi trattati e delle angolazioni assunte, da tutti i saggi emerge come questa riflessione coincida con la riflessione dell'uomo sul proprio compito e sulla propria dignità.

(read complete article)


Iain McDaniel, Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Roman Past and Europe's Future. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2013. Pp. x, 276. ISBN 9780674072961. $45.00.

Reviewed by Christopher Smith, University of St Andrews;British School at Rome (

Version at BMCR home site

Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) was an important and combative figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, who could number Robert Adam, David Hume and Adam Smith among his friends, and who had an eventful and intriguing life. Descended from nobility, he was educated in St Andrews and Edinburgh, became a military chaplain, Librarian to the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, a tutor in the family of the Earl of Bute, and a professor at the University of Edinburgh. He travelled to France and Italy, met Voltaire, and was sent to negotiate with Washington during the American Revolution (the commission was completely unsuccessful). He lived through the French Revolution (which he welcomed and then found depressing), and he heard with joy the news of the battle of Waterloo read to him from the newspapers. He is buried in the grounds of the Cathedral at St Andrews, and Sir Walter Scott wrote his epitaph.1

There is ample reason to be intrigued by an individual whose two best-known works, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) and The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1783) were in their day widely read and controversial. Hume disliked the first, for reasons we never quite discover, and the second was much reprinted. He was productive and opinionated – his friends knew him as the Scottish Cato. Internationally famous (despite his views, he was even respected as an author in America, and was particularly popular in Germany), after his death his reputation suffered more of a decline in Great Britain.

Iain McDaniel's book is a fairly austere account of this colourful individual. There are no biographical details, and one gets little sense of how Ferguson fitted into his society and his times, but the volume is still a valuable contribution to the history of Enlightenment thought.2 Ferguson was both a significant voice in the intellectual debates of his time, and a product of his upbringing. He brought his Perthshire awareness of the fault lines between the highland clans and the new life of the polite cities to bear on the great questions of civic virtue, the compatibility of commerce and empire with good governance, and the relative merits of militias and standing armies, where he and Adam Smith were completely at odds.

McDaniel begins with Montesquieu, and perhaps no thinker held more sway over Ferguson. The enormous influence of L'Esprit des Lois (1748) was felt by many of course, but the comparative and constitutional project carried forward there, the interest in the role of the military, and the reflections specifically on England made it an important spur to Ferguson. McDaniel's second chapter places these ideas in a slightly broader context, looking at, for instance, Adam Smith's more positive view of Britain's future, and his belief that economic stability, based in the division of labour and the product of self-interest, reduced reliance on a standing army, but also avoided some of the excesses of populism. Where Smith saw dangers was in the role of monopolies, and in the failure to resolve problems such as the relationship between Britain and her American problems through a recognition of common interests in commerce. Ferguson, who also saw that, despite its monarchy, Britain was remarkably Republican in its institutions and conduct, was much more concerned about the dangers of despotism which arose from an over-extended Republic with both democratic tendencies and effectively a standing army, and for him, Britain was far too close to the world of the late Roman Republic.

If Smith was an exponent of a neo-Epicurean morality, Ferguson tended to the neo-Stoic. McDaniel argues that he derives his views on the grounds of morality from a position closer to Shaftesbury's ethic of sociability, takenfrom Mandeville, and indeed Hume. And interestingly, McDaniel also shows Ferguson as constructing his history of morality along lines drawn from Rousseau. Ferguson stressed both the positive value of strife and dissension as encouraging political and moral development, and the early emergence of inequality (in contrast to views which saw a more egalitarian beginning to society). All this of course is developed out of surmise and classic texts, including Tacitus' Germania.3 Ferguson has a much more combative and spiky view of civil society than Smith; less tranquillity and more vigorous competition. It is not surprising therefore, as McDaniel shows in his fourth chapter, that Ferguson worried about the capacity of commerce to detract from alert national defence. The commercial democracy of Athens was a warning. Ferguson was also close to the conclusions of Mably and Raynal, the roughly contemporary French theorists, about the weakness of Europe before the danger of an aggressive state led by an ambitious individual. For Ferguson, empire dissipated energy, and, especially if governed democratically, could either slide into such a dangerous state, or be vulnerable to another.

Most of this can be derived from the Essay but McDaniel has done a good job of showing that the general themes there underlie the way in which Ferguson constructed his history of the Roman Republic. It is interesting to note that Ferguson saw the republic as a project for democratic equality – and as such a prelude to despotism. Unlike European aristocracy, the patriciate lost its reason to exist; and the advent of the standing army extinguished liberty. Gibbon's task therefore became the need to explain why the empire lasted so long.4

For Ferguson, the answer to contemporary problems lay in a revitalised martial aristocracy, a military hierarchy based on merit and allied to the civil state. Again, Ferguson's project united Rousseau and the 'German' world of the post-Roman empire. The challenge became, as McDaniel's last chapter shows, how in the current circumstances to match up to the French revolution and most particularly the terrifying power of Napoleon, whom Ferguson in a sense had predicted. It was France not Britain, in the end, where democracy had led to despotism; as McDaniel says, it was a later generation of French and German thinkers who had to try to resolve the challenges of post-revolutionary Europe.

McDaniel demonstrates repeatedly the ways in which Ferguson's thought reverted to ancient models. Grounded as all the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers were in the classics, Ferguson made particular use of the later Republic. McDaniel might have made even more than he does of the significance of the land reform projects in Scotland (which Adam Smith for instance was involved in) as an encouragement to reflect on Republican history. However his account is now the most interesting we have and steps beyond the relatively brief mentions by Pocock in his monumental work. As Pocock and also Hont have shown, Ferguson was partly responsible for reintroducing what Pocock saw as Machiavellian themes of growth and decay, virtue and corruption into the Scottish Enlightenment in the 1760s.5 However, a relatively unexplored theme is the parallel between Ferguson's thought and contemporary developments in French thought; Sieyès grappled with Rousseau, Barnave would suggest a similar military aristocracy in the 1790s, and all French thinkers were challenged by the problem of public credit, social inequality and preservation of empire.6 McDaniel's approach chases down the ideas but we still do not quite see how Ferguson interacted with other thinkers, or how they used him.

Perhaps the most intriguing presentation of why all this mattered comes in Emma Rothschild's remarkable recent book on the Johnstone family, eleven brothers and sisters of an unprosperous lowlands family whose interactions with the world from America to India she has brilliantly uncovered. George Johnstone was a friend of Ferguson and was on the same commission to George Washington; Ferguson hoped to succeed him to the governorship of West Florida, and brought up his younger son. Ferguson, Adam Smith and Hugh Blair celebrated William Johnstone's wife's inheritance at the Poker Club, where David Hume was also a member and a friend. The records show borrowing of books and exchanges of letters and the tragedies of life and death, all played out against the vast historical problems which Hume, Smith and Ferguson wrote about, the rights and wrongs of the East India Company's growing power, the American revolution, the debate over slavery. For the Johnstones, as Rothschild shows, these debates were not abstract; they were intensely significant, and life-changing. McDaniel shows Ferguson in his intellectual context, and it is one which was rooted in the classics; and Ferguson seems more interesting as a result of the book, but not necessarily more important. Rothschild reminds us that his importance lay in his position at the heart of an intellectual movement which was internationally significant, and of a society of individuals whose lives were caught up in the struggle to redefine civil society.7


1.   Fania Oz-Salzberger, 'Ferguson, Adam (1723–1816)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2009 [, accessed 13 April 2013; subscription required].
2.   Compare the very different accounts by Nicholas Phillipson, David Hume: The Philosopher as Historian (London 2011) and Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (London 2011).
3.   C. Krebs, A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich (New York, 2011)
4.   See also J. Moore, I. Macgregor Morris, A. J. Bayliss (eds) Reinventing History: The Enlightenment Origins of Ancient History (London 2008).
5.   J. G. A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion (Cambridge 1999-)ii. 330-65; iii. 399-416; The Machiavellian Moment : Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, 1975) 499-501; I. Hont Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation-State in Historical Perspective (Harvard 2010), 296-8.
6.   See M. Sonenscher Before the Deluge: Public Debt, inequality, and the Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution (Princeton 2007)
7.   E. Rothschild, The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth Century History (Princeton, 2011)

(read complete article)

Monday, May 27, 2013


Philip Freeman, Marcus Tullius Cicero. How to Run a Country: An Ancient Guide for Modern Leaders. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013. Pp. xix, 132. ISBN 9780691156576. $12.95.

Reviewed by Joanna Kenty, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate Group in Classical Studies (

Version at BMCR home site


The playful title of this book suggests a kind of political handbook, perhaps a sequel to Freeman's 2012 volume How to Win an Election, a translation of Quintus Cicero's Commentariolum Petitionis. This is not exactly what the book contains: instead, the reader will find an anthology of passages translated from Cicero's works – including speeches, philosophical works, and letters – related to various political themes, such as corruption or tyranny. In his introduction, Freeman highlights ten lessons which modern readers can take from Cicero: "There are universal laws that govern the conduct of human affairs," "Intelligence is not a dirty word," "Compromise is the key to getting things done," and so on. As these precepts suggest, Freeman has tried to find quotations which have particular relevance for today's political debates; while he does provide a brief biographical sketch of Cicero in the introduction, it is Cicero's ideas and not his life and times which Freeman emphasizes.

Many translations of Cicero's works can be found in the average bookstore, and although some of Cicero's works are generally considered more canonical than others, there seem to be as many methods of selecting representative samples of the Ciceronian corpus as there are translators of it. Today, the most widely available volumes seem to focus mainly or exclusively on the speeches, as "Cicero the Orator" (or Advocate) has come to overshadow "Cicero the Philosopher" in modern approaches. If the philosopher appears, it is as a political philosopher only. Citizens of the American Republic, at least, find much that is relevant in Cicero as a political thinker and actor, and as a master of rhetoric and the art of spin. This approach to Cicero also fits comfortably into surveys of Roman history and courses on political thought at the college level, courses which probably account for much if not most of the readership of Cicero's works in translation.

Freeman seems to imagine a different audience for his volume, one outside the university with a general interest in Rome, political philosophy, or both, and perhaps some nostalgia for the Latin classes of their youth. He includes the Latin text of his selected passages at the end of the volume, a useful reference for the general reader with some knowledge of Latin. Freeman arranges his excerpts – some no more than a few sentences, others a few pages – thematically rather than chronologically, and allows them to stand alone with little or no historical context; sometimes the larger work to which the excerpt belongs is described or identified, sometimes not (an index with full citations of each passage can be found at the end of the book). The passages themselves provide an interesting mix of approaches: some are quite abstract or general, while others show Cicero's interactions with specific people and events; some passages will be well-known to readers familiar with Cicero, and others are more obscure.

It may be useful to compare Freeman's approach to that of another translator, Michael Grant, in his volume Cicero On Government (Penguin, 1994). Both translators focus on Cicero's political thought; both include material from the philosophica and orations; and several excerpts appear in both. Where the selections overlap, the translations are not dissimilar, although Freeman tends to be slightly more colloquial in his language. The main difference is the length of the passages: Grant's shortest selection is from the Pro Balbo, about ten pages, while Freeman's longest is only a few pages, and short ones at that. Grant emphasizes historical context and gives the reader more of a sense of each work as a whole, while Freeman frees the material from its context, selecting excerpts whose content is thought-provoking on its own terms, and which demonstrate Cicero's outlook as a thinker in general. Freeman's book is an entry-point, an introduction; while it is simply too short (the translations occupy 67 pp.) to provide much traction for students in a typical college course, I certainly hope it will be successful in introducing Cicero to a wider audience.

Typographical error: "Manlian" for "Manilian" on pp. 99, 118.

(read complete article)


Cécile Morrisson (ed.), Trade and Markets in Byzantium. Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine symposia and colloquia. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2012. Pp. ix, 459. ISBN 9780884023777. $85.00.

Reviewed by Matt Gibbs, University of Winnipeg (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of contents

This collection, edited by Cécile Morrisson, is the fourth volume of the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia to be published, and it is the first dedicated to the Byzantine economy. The volume contains an introduction and seventeen individual chapters by an array of well-known scholars of antiquity and the medieval period. The book is divided into four sections that are both broadly chronological and thematic.

Morrisson's introduction sets out the aims of both the earlier symposium and the volume. It highlights the importance of trade as well as the areas of study in the Byzantine economy neglected by both archaeologists and historians. The symposium aims to combat this. The reasons behind the emphasis on trade and markets here as opposed to the Byzantine economy itself are made clear, as is the existence of a general consensus among the participants concerning the criteria for local, regional, and interregional exchanges as well as the regulation, control, and payments within market exchange. These themes govern the chapters.

The first section—Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages—begins with a contribution by Jean-Michel Carrié. He provides an overview of the current debate and an updated view of the late antique economy. He also examines the criteria necessary for a market economy, the movement of currency and information (15-16) and innovations in technology and management (17-19). While highlighting the significant level of monetization of the economy in the fourth century CE (22-23), Carrié also considers the functions of urban and rural environs, the networks of exchanges that existed therein, and their relationship in a market economy.

Dominique Pieri offers a survey of the manufacture, use, and circulation of amphorae in the eastern Mediterranean. He discusses the evolution of amphorae in the late Antique and Byzantine period and examines comparative data from the western Mediterranean, as well as issues concerning standardization, production, imitations and forgeries. Perhaps most interestingly, he considers the apparent decline of maritime trade during the Late Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages, and offers a brief examination of the agents involved (39-42). Pieri leaves the reader under no illusion about the limited contribution that amphorae can make to economic history, but he also suggests that the study of amphorae allows us to follow the stages of economic development and regression, noting where the emphasis of future research should lie (48-49).

Michael McCormick first examines the meaning of the term "market" in a variety of ways. He considers theory and its application to the Roman and post-Roman world before moving to economic behaviour, models, and crucially the transfer and use of information. He offers a clear and engaging study of the use of containers (specifically amphorae and barrels), their place in economic history, and the implications of specific types of containers for both markets and transport systems; this section also contains some interesting issues concerning the efficiency of containers, their sizes, and their use in export (60-77). Finally, McCormick considers the movement of goods using the evidence of, and from, shipwrecks, and concludes that market conditions can be seen between c. AD 350-1000, albeit in part indirectly, and markets and the informational networks therein "mattered throughout the first millennium" (97).

John F. Haldon discusses commerce and exchange in the seventh and eighth centuries. Beginning with a brief discussion of "demand", he moves on to consider the ceramic, numismatic, sigillographic, and textual evidence, while making suggestions for material evidence (in this case Byzantine belt buckles) that should be studied further to illustrate the "movement across and within imperial territory" (118). A discussion of roads and transport follows, with examples from the Balkans and Asia Minor. Haldon notes that there was a high degree of localized differentiation, that patterns altered over relatively short cycles, and finally that subsistence or marginal economies typically exist at "key tipping points" (122); they have the ability, on one hand, to flourish in a wider economic network, but on the other, to revert to "localized and semi-autarkic" relationships when these tipping points are forced and their balance is disturbed (122).

The second section, entitled "The Middle and Late Byzantine Periods", begins with Angeliki E. Laiou (who died in 2008) considering regional trade networks in the Balkans. Importantly, she states that "there is an institutional component to international trade that is absent from regional and interregional trade within the Byzantine Empire" (126). Discussing the movement of a variety of traded items, Laiou posits there were different forms of regional trade that were affected by centres of consumption, centres of exchange, and the level of regional monetization in the Balkans during the Middle and Late Byzantine periods.

In his study of regional networks in Asia Minor between the seventh-eleventh centuries, Johannes Koder presents a series of ideas concerning the size of settlements (149-51), their connections through road networks (152-55), and agrarian productivity (155-57) where he provides two examples of terrain variation. He provides several examples of settlements and the networks between them, from Mysia to Anazarbos, and ends with two suggestions: first, that the differences between western Asia Minor and the interior regions of central and eastern Asia Minor, and the demand therein for goods in medium- and long-distance trade should receive more attention; second, that the existing status quo be more vigorously tested.

Christopher Lightfoot examines the archaeological evidence for commercial enterprise at Amorium, in central Anatolia, between the seventh and eleventh centuries, arguing a dynamic environment of regional supply and demand existed in this region that was unaffected by the decline in long-distance trade or by the reliance on state support (177). Lightfoot points out that the evidence from Amorium may be exceptional, but that this is, in part, because of the state of archaeology generally in central Anatolia (182). He argues briefly but persuasively that, through both the extant architectural and material remnants, the role of Anatolia in the survival of the Byzantine Empire should be reassessed.

Demetra Papanikola-Bakirtzi investigates the trade and market characteristics of Byzantine glazed pottery between the tenth and fifteenth centuries (194-95). She considers a variety of tablewares, and treats in passing more elaborate material evidence produced at various sites (for instance, from Constantinople, Thessalonike, and Pergamon). The material evidence illustrates both interregional and international communication and reveals that the relationships built through these trade networks were not only "complex and multilateral" but also "intercultural" (216).

Sauro Gelichi's chapter on local and regional exchanges in the Lower Po Valley during the eighth and ninth centuries introduces the third section of the volume "West and East: Local Exchanges in Neighboring Worlds". Gelichi's considers the scale of the northern Italian economy using a substantial range of archaeological evidence. Gelichi suggests that medium- and long-distance trade in this area continued (229-32), and proposes that these economic aspects demonstrate that Mediterranean trade did not completely cease, but developed in a variety of ways. The success of these aspects, linked inherently to the emerging centres in the region, led to the emergence and eventual consolidation of Venice.

Rowan Dorin examines trade networks in the Adriatic during the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. These were established in the eighth and ninth centuries and, he argues, they flourished and became increasingly sophisticated and interconnected. Using textual evidence, Dorin paints a convincing picture of a region (see particularly 270-77) that becomes ever more commercially integrated in intra-Adriatic networks despite international upheaval and increasing control of commodity exchange from northern Italy.

André Binggeli, in examining annual fairs, associated networks and trade routes in Syria between the sixth and tenth centuries, presents literary evidence that illuminates a network of annual fairs that ranged from northern Syria to Palestine, and from Upper Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean. Although the evidence is scarce, the material that Binggeli presents attests not only to the continuation of late antique networks (287-89) for regional and interregional trade (289-95), but shows that they continued, expanded, and declined following the shift of power in the Islamic Empire (296).

Scott Redford examines trade and the economy in Antioch and Cilicia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and suggests that "the founding of the principality of Antioch on the model of the Byzantine duchy of Antioch led to a geographical, administrative, and economic imbalance" (297). Comparing the ceramic evidence taken from Port Saint Symeon and Kinet to other centres of production, Redford concludes that there were several networks in operation in the eastern Mediterranean (305-7); he argues persuasively for a sliding scale of prices based on skill and length of production, at the local and Mediterranean-wide level.

Alan Walmsley considers regional exchange and the role of the shop in Syria-Palestine during the Byzantine and Early- Islamic periods. The first section examines pottery, coins, and their place in regional trade networks. The author suggests that these networks were the precursors of a long-distance trade that spread far beyond anything that had existed before. In the second, he considers the place of the shop in local commerce and in society generally (321-24). Finally, using a storekeeper's financial records (326-39), Walmsley convincingly argues that account-keeping in Arabic had become common practice in the region, and—more broadly—that this was one part of a process by which eastern Christianity adopted Arabic as its own, building "a new identity that was both Arab and Christian" (329-30). This reflects not only a change an economic process, but also a social transformation.

The final section of the volume—Markets and the Marketplace—begins with Luke Lavan's study of retail and regulation. Through an analysis of archaeological, architectural, epigraphic, literary, and pictorial evidence, Lavan considers stalls and shops in several major communities of the late antique period, and suggests that although there was "overwhelming continuity with the Roman past", newly-built shops reveal an expansion of these types of premises in city centres (361). He concludes that this commercialization "did not cause urban decay or a loss of monumentality" and that the process, at least in respect to the communities discussed, occurred during the fifth and sixth centuries AD. He states that the locations of market stalls were still regulated, specialized market buildings were constructed for particular traders, and that the amenity of porticoes was not disrupted.

Cécile Morrisson discusses the institutions of trade, and the transaction costs of Byzantine trade, across the early, middle, and late Byzantine periods. Considering systems of weighing, measuring, and payment through material and textual evidence, she suggests that regulating these exchanges contributed to the functioning of the market. In conclusion, Morrisson argues that markets in Byzantium benefited from a unified system of control of paying and weighing, and that the influences of this system were still felt later (397).

Brigitte Pitarakis examines the evidence for daily exchanges in the marketplace through pictorial evidence—the Megalopsychia Hunt Mosaic, the Procession of the Hodegetria in Constantinople in the narthex of the Blachernitissa at Arta, and the Protaton church on Mount Athos—and suggests that the depictions there compare favourably with archaeological evidence (407). An analysis of weighing instruments reveals little change in their form (407-10), and measures for liquids, despite retaining their shape, had different standards (412-16). Finally Pitarakis convincingly argues that the decoration of and inscriptions on weighing instruments (namely religious motifs, imperial imagery, invocations), when taken alongside the evidence for the treatment and punishments of "swindlers", were believed to protect the transactions made (416-26).

Peter Temin's summary illustrates the methods and terminology used by an economist considering markets (429-33), and describes how to test the chapters of the volume against these methods (433-35). Temin offers a critique of the volume, and its preceding conference, before providing suggestions for areas of the Byzantine economy and trade for future study (435-36).

In all, the individual chapters make up a volume of exceptional scholarship. Any scholar working on the late Roman or Byzantine economy, trade, or markets and trade networks in these periods will find several chapters here of interest and significant importance to their own studies.

(read complete article)