Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Maria C. Shaw, Joseph W. Shaw (ed.), House X at Kommos, A Minoan Mansion Near the Sea. Part 1, Architecture, Stratigraphy, and Selected Finds. Prehistory Monographs, 35. Philadelphia: INSTAP Academic Press, 2012. Pp. xxvi, 150; 61 p. of tables, 41 p. of figs., 33 p. of plates. ISBN 9781931534642. $80.00. Contributors: Maria C. Shaw, Joseph W. Shaw, Deborah Ruscillo, Anne P. Chapin and John G. Younger.

Reviewed by Vassilis Petrakis, National Hellenic Research Foundation (

Version at BMCR home site


The title under review is the first of a two-volume publication of a Late Minoan (hereafter LM) building excavated at Kommos in south-central Crete. This volume includes final reports on the stratigraphy, architecture, frescoes, small finds of various materials, and faunal remains; pottery and its implications for chronology and trade will be treated independently by Jeremy Rutter in the forthcoming Part 2. It naturally supersedes the information provided about House X so far.1 Prospective readers should note that the authors of this volume had access to Rutter's preliminary analysis of ceramic assemblages, and that his proposed dates form a backbone for the discussions of the building's history and the chronology of specific contexts reported in the publication under review. Of course, as it is occasionally cautioned (e.g., p. 116, endnote 1), Rutter himself may modify some of these preliminary notes in his final publication of the pottery.

Chapter 1 by Maria Shaw (accompanied by Table 1.1, Figures 1.1-1.38 and Plates 1.1-1.16) gives a succinct description of the architecture of the building, following a valuable "space-by-space" survey. This organization, however, is only possible because the basic division of spaces (numbered X1-X16, grouped in three "sectors"–Western, Central and Eastern) remains basically valid throughout the building's long history (LM IA to LM IIIB). One can applaud that "spaces" has been preferred to "rooms". References to specific ceramic assemblages associated with each "space" substantiate the reconstruction of the building's history and stratigraphy and ultimately are based on Rutter's preliminary notes on the chronology of these pottery groups.

Chapter 2 by Maria Shaw and Anne Chapin (accompanied by Table 2.1, Figures 2.1-2.4, Plate 2.1 and Color Plates 1B, 2-4) publishes the painted plasters from the building—buon fresco with a secco supplements — where floral landscapes are dominant. All painted plasters were probably produced within LM I, in ground floor spaces, immediately after the construction of the building in early LM IA (fragments from later contexts being secondary). The authors identify the stylistic affinities of the main compositions (the Lily Fresco, the Spiral Fresco and the more obscure Stems Fresco) with contemporary frescoes from Knossos (House of the Frescoes), Amnisos (Villa) or Ayia Triada (Villa: Room 14) and discuss the possibility that the paintings form a Knossian trend, seemingly spread at external (Knossian) initiative. A most important contribution of this new Kommos material is the evidence of so-called "preliminary sketch-lines", the first to be relatively securely identified outside Knossos.2 As the relationship between what remained of these "sketch-lines" and compositions actually executed could not be securely established, Shaw prefers to see them as "trials or a warm-up exercise" (p. 69). This is a defensible position, although nothing positively suggests that these were produced by "an apprentice being trained" (p. 69). Whatever their "virtuosity and fluency" (p. 69) would suggest, if these were intended as guidelines, it is most likely that they were executed by an experienced hand, and apprentices would follow with less skill-demanding tasks. In any case, the presentation of this material is masterful, even if one would like to see more drawings and suggested possible reconstructions of the "sketch-lines" (these are shown only in Figure 2.2 and Color Plate 3C, fragments Fr3 and Fr8 respectively).

Chapter 3 by Joseph Shaw, Maria Shaw and John Younger (accompanied by Table 3.1, Figures 3.1-3.5 and Plates 3.1- 3.11) deals with various categories of small finds. Stone, metal and terracotta artefacts are all treated in this diverse chapter. The catalogue of metal artefacts includes, as its title suggests, "selected" objects (p. 75), although the selection process is not explicitly stated. The seal and the earring stone mold are obvious highlights in this chapter, as is the remarkable Egyptian glass jar from an LM IIIA1 context (p. 90, plate 3.9). The observation that "House X […] has a greater variety of loomweight types" than anywhere else at Kommos (p. 78) is also of considerable interest. The discussion of terracotta figures (pp. 88-90) interestingly reveals that none were found in space X7, considered a "Shrine" in this publication (cf. pp. 13-14, 128).

Chapter 4 by Deborah Ruscillo (accompanied by Tables 4.1-4.79, Figures 4.1-4.5 and Plates 4.1A-D) is devoted to an exhaustive presentation of the faunal remains. The arrangement is very effective, and the survey of Glycymeris shells is highly welcome, given the intricacies of the material from House X. The occurrence of large numbers of these shells in House X (probably to be used as floor-construction material, especially in LM IIIA1-2) is extensively discussed. Readers also may want to consult Ruscillo's previous discussion of Glycymeris from Kommos.3 The chapter concludes with a catalogue of artefacts made of worked bone and shell. A Glycymeris valve with a possible painted Linear sign on it (no. Sh19, p. 116, Plate 4.1.D) is quite interesting, and possibly merits further autopsy. Unless an accidental effect (a possibility suggested by Ruscillo), this 'doodle' can be compared—pending further investigation—to sign AB 122 on HT 58.3, a Linear A tablet from Hagia Triada.

Chapter 5 by Maria Shaw (accompanied by Tables 5.1-5.4, Figures 5.1-5.4 and Color Plate 1A) is an overall synthesis of the data. One will want to read this alongside the excellent synthetic chapter of the previous Kommos publication, as well as a recent article by James Wright on the development of the Kommos town.4 The setting, architecture, circulation pattern and diachronic remodeling of the building are separately discussed, and a further section attempts to reconstruct the main activities in each space and through time. One might want to see one of the crucial features of House X, its remarkable longevity throughout LM IA-IIIB, discussed more extensively as a manifestation of a Cretan Bronze Age phenomenon attested elsewhere (e.g. Building 1 at Palaikastro or, in a vastly more complex scale, the palace complex at Knossos itself), in contrast to those cases where occupation was pointedly discontinued (e.g., the construction of the 'Megaron' ABCD and the Stoa FG atop the 'Royal Villa' ruins at Ayia Triada).

Table 5.1, although formally accompanying Chapter 5, sums up information analytically presented in Chapter 1 by indicating which LM ceramic phases pottery contexts from each space belong to. Since its summary presentation will undoubtedly attract prospective readers, it might be appropriate to point out a few inconsistencies between the two. LM IIIA2 material from spaces X2, X6, X7 and X15 (represented by pottery groups X2:8, X6:6, X7:4, X7:5 and X15:2 phase 2) is reported in Chapter I, but is not indicated in Table 5.1. LM IIIB use is marked for space X10 on Table 5.1, but this is not deduced from the presentation on Chapter 1 (pottery groups X10:1 is LM II; X10:2 and X10:3 are LM IIIA2, and there is also Iron Age activity). It should be noted that Table 5.1 has only a column for "LM IIIA2 Early" (the reviewer's italics) and not plain "LM IIIA2". For the proper ceramic definition of these designations we await Rutter's forthcoming final report on the pottery from the building.5

Overall, the production of the volume is outstanding, on par with the earlier Kommos volumes (by Princeton University Press). The Lily Fresco from space X1, an obvious choice for the color frontispiece, has been wonderfully reproduced, as are all the plates and illustrations. Points of criticism are few: one might prefer tables to be integrated within each chapter, but this would go against the current standard INSTAP Academic Press format. Also, the illustrations of the seals (Figure 3.4 and Plate 3.11) could have included drawings, following the more familiar and highly effective standards set by the Corpus der minoischen und mykenischen Siegel.

Although a proper assessment of Building X will only be possible with the publication of Rutter's ceramic analysis, the Shaws and their collaborators have already given us a very complete and authoritative picture of an important building from a key site in south Central Crete. The familiar standards of previous Kommos publications shine throughout this book.


1.   J. W. Shaw and M. C. Shaw (eds.) Kommos V. The Monumental Minoan Buildings at Kommos, Princeton University Press 2006; J. W. Shaw and M. C. Shaw "Excavations at Kommos (Crete) during 1986-1992" Hesperia 62:2, pp. 129-90, at pp. 131-61.
2.   Cf. M. A. S. Cameron "The painted signs on fresco fragments from the 'House of the Frescoes'", Kadmos 7 (1968), pp. 45-64.
3.   D. Ruscillo "Faunal remains and Murex dye production" in Shaw and Shaw eds. (supra n. 1), pp. 776-840, at pp. 803-5.
4.   J. W. Shaw, M. C. Shaw, J. B. Rutter and A. Van de Moortel "The history and functions of the monumental Minoan buildings at Kommos" in Shaw and Shaw eds. (supra n.1), pp. 845-78 (especially the helpful Table 5.1, pp. 865-71); J. C. Wright "Modeling domesticity" in Ph. P. Betancourt, M. C. Nelson and H. Williams (eds.) Krinoi kai Limenes: Studies in Honor of Joseph and Maria Shaw, Prehistory Monographs22, Philadelphia: INSTAP Academic Press 2007, pp. 263-70.
5.   Interestingly, Eleni Hatzaki's recent survey of Knossian LM III has concluded that there is no sufficient evidence to justify a division between "Early" and "Late" LM IIIA2 at Knossos (cf. E. Hatzaki "Final Palatial (LM II–IIIA2) and Postpalatial (LM IIIB–LM IIIC Early): The MUM South Sector, Long Corridor cists, MUM pits (8, 9, 10-11), Makritichos 'kitchen', MUM North Platform pits and SEX Southern Half groups" in N. Momigliano (ed.) Knossos Pottery Handbook: Neolithic and Bronze Age (Minoan). BSA Studies 14. London: The British School at Athens 2007, pp. 197-251, at p. 225).

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, Die Artemis von Pompeji und die Entdeckung der Farbigkeit griechischer Plastik. Katalog einer Ausstellung im Winckelmann-Museum vom 2. Dezember 2011 bis 18. März 2012. Ruhpolding; Wiesbaden: Verlag Franz Philipp Rutzen; Harrassowitz Verlag, 2011. Pp. 96. ISBN 9783447066648. €28.00.

Reviewed by Clarissa Blume, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

It is stunning how easily a short written passage, separated from its context, can make its way through academia representing an opinion the original author did not intend. This is what happened to a citation from Winckelmann, the father of archaeological research, who has long been thought to have believed in the white surface of ancient marble sculptures. In 1764 he published the first edition of his work Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums in which he stated:

Colour contributes to beauty, but it is not beauty itself, though it generally enhances beauty and its forms. Since white is the colour that reflects the most rays of light, and thus is most easily perceived, a beautiful body will be all the more beautiful the whiter it is, and nude it will thereby appear larger than it actually is, just as all newly formed gypsum figures seem larger than the statues from which they were cast.1

After decades of Winckelmann being misunderstood on this point, a new focus on his judgment of ancient sculptures has brought to light that he did indeed hold the view that ancient Greek sculptures had been painted and that he had even corroborated this thesis with examples in the round. One of these examples was an Archaistic statuette of Artemis from Pompeii which still exhibits ample remnants of its original polychromy (Naples National Archaeological Museum IN 6008).

This statuette was the centre-piece of the exhibition "Die Artemis von Pompeji und die Entdeckung der Farbigkeit griechischer Plastik" in the Winckelmann Museum in Stendal on view from December 2011 to March 2012. The exhibition catalogue is the work under review in this contribution.

It was the aim of the exhibition and of the catalogue to demonstrate that Winckelmann himself was a researcher keen to gather new observations and always open to changing his mind and ideas. The catalogue underlines how over the course of time Winckelmann came to recognise that the Pompeian Artemis was a key source of evidence that Greek and Roman sculptures were painted.

The book's subject is made clear in the introduction by Max Kunze, President of the Winckelmann Society, and further developed in the main essay of the publication by Oliver Primavesi. The latter has carried out in-depth research using 18th-century sources in order to discover when Winckelmann first learned about the Pompeian Artemis and how over the years his judgment shifted in regard to its cultural background and, with that, its painted appearance. His essay on the results is framed by a chapter by Vinzenz Brinkmann on the research history of ancient polychromy and on reconstructing polychrome sculptures and by a chapter (by Vinzenz Brinkmann, Ulrike Koch- Brinkmann and Heinrich Piening) on the polychromy of the Artemis itself. They critically question Winckelmann's statements about its colouring and widen the spectrum of results by examining the sculpture using up-to-date methods. Of interest is the resulting reconstruction of the Artemis as an empiric trial of how the statue might have originally looked (p. 68, fig. 39). The catalogue of objects on display in the Stendal exhibition comes at the end of the book.

The first chapter by Brinkmann is a good introduction; it offers a glimpse at the development of research on ancient polychromy, methods of examination, and the changes in the way polychromy has been reconstructed over time.

With "A paradox", the first subtitle of the second chapter, Primavesi is referring to the fact that even by the 20th century many archaeologists still took it for granted that Winckelmann had denied the existence of paint on Greek and Roman sculptures. As made clear by his study, however, this opinion, which was indeed true at the beginning of Winckelmann's explorations, changed over the course of time as he studied ancient statuary. This change is revealed by his comments on the Pompeian Artemis over the years.

The Artemis was found in Pompeii in 1760. In 1762, Winckelmann had the chance to view the sculpture at the Royal Museum of Portici. In publications up until 1764, Winckelmann claimed the Artemis with her polychrome traces to be a piece of Etruscan art (Sendschreiben von den Herculanischen Entdeckungen, 1762, and Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, 1764). Later on, he changed his attribution and declared it to be of Greek origin, as evident in the second edition of his Geschichte. Yet, this new edition (published in 1776) was not finished by Winckelmann himself, but by Friedrich Justus Riedel years after Winckelmann's death in 1768 and still included Winckelmann's outdated opinions, as pointed out by Primavesi. Thus, Chapter I.3 of Riedel's edition mentions Winckelmann's new attribution of the Artemis to Greek origin while his previous attribution is also recorded in Chapter I.4.

That Winckelmann indeed expected Greek sculptures to have been painted is underlined by his referring to Plato, who uses painted sculptures as comparanda for the ideal state (Republic IV, 420c-d; Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, 1776, chapter I.4, p. 588). Moreover, Winckelmann's latest judgment of the Artemis as an example of Greek polychromy is made clear from notes which he had left in Rome before his final journey to Germany. This clearest evidence of his opinion had not been published until 2008. The confusion caused by the discrepancy between Winckelmann's publications as well as by the lack of publication of his notes, clarifies how the misunderstanding of Winckelmann's opinion arose.2

Moreover, Primavesi is able to sort out the misunderstanding of two of Winckelmann's passages that have often been taken as evidence of his view that ancient marble sculptures had been white. One of them is the statement on white bodies cited above. Primavesi stresses that Winckelmann meant to discuss the body itself (regardless of any coloration), that he did not speak of sculptures but of bodies in general, and that he did not contrast the white body with a body in colour, but simply with a body in black. Further, Primavesi stresses that Winckelmann himself said that "colour […] heightens beauty and its forms".

Through a careful study of the history of the discourse on the Pompeian Artemis and her original setting, Primavesi provides a significant insight into the contact and exchange among archaeological scholars in the 18th and 19th century. He is, for instance, able to reconstruct that Winckelmann must have only seen the original site of the Artemis after it had been filled with earth, so he must have produced an image by combining the architectural pieces of her shrine in the museum with reports from witnesses of the excavation. Winckelmann's description was based on vague facts which have since been proven wrong. Primavesi does not even exclude that Winckelmann was purposely misled by Camillo Paderni, the curator of the museum in Portici, since the latter and other contemporaries seem to have wanted to hinder Winckelmann's work.

In the final chapter, Vinzenz Brinkmann, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann and Heinrich Piening publish their new examinations of the statue carried out according to current standards. One of their most important results is that its skirt and mantle were coated with a white base (kaolin and white lead). This finding is of significance since it proves that white sections of a sculpture could have been coated instead of having the marble original marble surface exposed.

Since red was found on the sleeves of the dress, the authors conclude that the garment consisted of a (red) blouse and a separate (white) skirt. They support their supposition with Archaic comparanda. However, while two colours in one garment might be theoretically possible, more images of Artemis' garment or a sketch showing the exact areas of the colour traces would have helped to follow and support the authors' contention. Moreover, a full-page image of the original sculpture next to the reconstruction would have been valuable to this discussion.

Of further interest is the authors' finding of solely yellow ochre in the hair. Since interpretation of the findings is too briefly treated in the chapter, it should be added here that the yellow ground seems to this reviewer to have been either the base for further shading of the blond hair with other colours or a base for gilding (even though neither other colours nor gold were detected).3

The analyses carried out by Brinkmann and collaborators showed that a broad range of pigments and colorants were used. Thus the authors are able to show anew that a careful differentiation among colour shades was made.

On this basis, the authors created a reconstruction of the Artemis showing the colours detected on the original.

Since the Pompeian Artemis imitates the Archaic style, the authors suggest that the statue might have been patterned after the late Archaic sculptures from Aegina. Though a more comprehensive study could possibly show closer comparanda from other sources, in general it is reasonable to wonder to what extent the Artemis was copied from Archaic originals and whether it was created as a Roman object aiming to look Archaic. As the authors state, the polychromy of the Artemis does not closely imitate Archaic polychromy but was influenced by contemporary (late- Hellenistic and Roman) practices, as attested, for instance, in the extensive use of Egyptian blue and madder.4

All in all, Primavesi's thorough analysis of Winckelmann's own development with regard to ancient polychromy based on one key sculpture he had studied and commented on, is an interesting and significant study that contributes to our knowledge of the history of archaeological research. Nevertheless, his presentation in some regards becomes nearly redundant. Timelines of both of the historic events concerning the Pompeian Artemis as well as the course of Winckelmann's publications would have been useful. Since the publication is a relatively short companion to the exhibition, the interpretation of the polychrome analyses of the Pompeian Artemis is kept brief; therefore, a further treatise on the Pompeian Artemis by the authors is strongly desired.

Despite the suggestions mentioned, the catalogue is striking because of a focus on an interesting question, a significant sculpture examined through generations, and an excellent combination of a historic study and empirical examinations. Moreover, the volume fascinates through a great number of images of historic documents, colour remains and comparanda all of which are of high quality and of great value to this field of research.

Table of Contents

Worwort, Max Kunze, 7
Die Farben Antiker Marmorskulptur, Vinzenz Brinkmann, 9
Das Lächeln der Artemis, Wincklemanns Entdeckung der Farbigkeit griechischer Skulptur, Oliver Primavesi, 17
Alte Gewänder in Neuem Look, Beobachtungen zu den Farben der pompejanischen Artemis, Vinzenz Brinkmann, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, Heinrich Piening, 69
Katalog, Vinzenz Brinkmann, 87


1.   Translation by H. F. Malgrave: J. J. Winckelmann, History of the Art of Antiquity (Los Angeles 2006) 195. Original: J. J. Winckelmann, Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (Dresden 1764) 147-148.
2.   A. H. Borbein – M. Kunze (ed.), Johann Joachim Winckelmann: Anmerkungen über die Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums. Dresden, 1967, Schriften und Nachlass 4, 4 (Mainz 2008) 159.
3.   Ochre is well known as a base for gilded areas. See, for example, C. Blume, Die Polychromie hellenistischer Skulptur (forthcoming) or B. Bourgeois – P. Jockey, 'La Dorure des Marbres Grecs. Nouvelle Enquête sur la Sculpture Hellénistique de Délos.' JSAV, 2005, 253-316.
4.   In contrast, the polychromy of a Classicising Pergamene sculpture followed Classical customs, though the ornamentation is clearly adapted by the Hellenistic painter: Berlin, Antikensammlung, AvP VII 23. See: C. Blume, Die Polychromie hellenistischer Skulptur (forthcoming).

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Sven Günther (ed.), Ordnungsrahmen antiker Ökonomien: Ordnungskonzepte und Steuerungsmechanismen antiker Wirtschaftssysteme im Vergleich. Philippika, 53. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012. Pp. vii, 275. ISBN 9783447067225. €54.00.

Reviewed by Benedikt Eckhardt, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (

Version at BMCR home site

[The authors and titles are listed below.]

Based on a workshop held in Mainz in 2010, this volume brings together fourteen contributions on different aspects of Greek and Roman economic history. The title suggests a preference for state economic measures and legal frameworks, but the spectrum is much broader, including the social dimension of economic thought and interaction.

In the first contribution, Priddat justly points out that Aristotle's views on money are anachronistic and contain strong elements of an older view of exchange, based on reciprocity and barter. In Aristotle's examples, the personal and social relations of two agents are as important as the relations of their goods to each other; a transaction is only valid if it involves no unjust gains that lead to status usurpation. This view ignores some primary features of money as well as market dynamics. Priddat suggests that these anachronisms aimed to preserve the social solidarity and economic dominance of the core ethnic group, limiting as they did the possibility for outsiders to purchase land- ownership (and citizenship). This is a rather one-sided explanation, but the connection of Aristotle's questionable economic thought with a conservative worldview is very plausible.

In her comparative study on the state income of Athens and Sparta, Rohde systematically presents the known facts on liturgies, syssitia etc. She concludes that in Athens, economic inequality was accepted, while in Sparta, it was not; therefore Athens could develop the liturgical system, while Sparta could not. When Sparta's state expenses exploded in the course of the Peloponnesian War, the perioikoi had to step in and structures were developed somewhat similar to those at Athens. According to Rohde, they readily accepted the new demands due to their sense of belonging to the Lakedaimonian community. This may be somewhat optimistic, and the whole reconstruction is difficult to substantiate. But Rohde makes a reasonable attempt to define the differences between the two systems in abstract terms.

Fischer gives a competent overview about economic data in Linear B texts. In the context of the volume, evidence for state regulation of agriculture and trade (e.g., shepherds or blacksmiths) is most relevant. Due to the peculiar nature of the sources, many questions have to remain open.

Günther himself analyzes the use of the Persian king as a model in the Pseudo-Aristotelian Oikonomika and Xenophon's writings. He follows the interpretation that oikonomia basilike does not refer to the financial administration of the Persian Empire, but rather to the king's own oikos. However, the argument that a thorough interest in the empire's financial administration is not attested for real Persian kings (p. 87) is not quite convincing, given the distorted image of Persia prevalent in Greek literature. Günther justly singles out the didactic nature of Xenophon's writings and the presentation of the Persian king as an ideal economist and statesman. Just why Xenophon chose the Persian king to fulfill that function remains an open question.

Based on epigraphic sources and prosopographical studies, Burgemeister and Köcke convincingly discuss the appearance of women as benefactors in Miletus from the 2nd century BCE onwards. They rightly reject simple explanations and stress gradual development (before the Roman period, women still needed a kyrios when acting in public), as well as the multilayered developments that caused the rise of women as benefactors. Emphasis is placed on economic needs of the polis, but due attention is given to the self-presentation of elite families as well.

While the "Greek" part of the volume consists of five very disparate studies covering a time-span from 1200 BCE to the first century CE, the "Roman" part is much more coherent. Nine contributions treat diverse, but often related subjects from the late republic to late antiquity.

Rollinger gives an introduction into recent debates on use and supply of money in Roman antiquity. He discusses Ciceronian evidence for non-monetary forms of payment for large sums, such as credit and the enigmatic permutatio. He convincingly argues that permutatio was not a concrete procedure, but rather a generic term that encompassed several options for transferring money without physically transporting tons of silver (it normally took the form of transferring debts). He justly stresses the importance of networks and amicitia as the basis for permutationes, which were not legally regulated, and concludes that this way of transferring money was available only for the upper echelons of society.

In his treatment of Pliny the Younger's economic thought, Page takes him as representative for the aristocratic habitus of his time and argues against a "primitivist" understanding by highlighting Pliny's economic competence and foresight. He also shows that agricultural and economic competence was part and parcel of aristocratic identity and self-presentation.

Schartmann discusses the monetary crisis of 33 CE. No new explanation is offered – Schartmann basically presents the diverse reconstructions of earlier scholars without taking sides (p. 155: "Suchen Sie sich das passende Szenario aus"). Apart from some remarks on details, the strength of the article lies in the economic competence of the author, who re-describes common historical explanations in terms of economic theory. The closing remarks attempt a comparison with the financial and economic crisis of 2009 – not a new idea, as Schartmann duly acknowledges. His caution in drawing an analogy between Tiberius' grant of 100 million HS and the EU rescue-fund is certainly justified, given the very different social and economic contexts (but this does not keep Schartmann from using the word "Rettungsschirm" a number of times in the article).

Edelmann-Singer illuminates the economic dimension of Roman provincial councils. She notes the immense costs that could be connected with the high priesthood of the province, partly depending on the priest's willingness to engage in euergetic activity. She also stresses the financial burden caused even by a seemingly small institution such as the hymnods (but in the treatment of IvP 374, more attention should have been given to the self- financing of the Pergamene hymnods via the members' contributions). While cities and individuals could use the provincial councils for self-presentation, Rome could use them as an administrative instrument that offered access to resources and networks.

The late antique state has long been infamous for strong state regulations in different social fields, including the economy. One of the elements of that picture has always been the colonate. Based on juristic sources, Schipp reconstructs the history of this institution. Up to the third century, continuity of land lease was desired, but not legally enforced. Schipp then describes the development of a system that first tied people to the land, but later – in reaction to economic necessities – to land-holders, who could move them within their estates. Schipp's evaluation of the economic use of the colonate is negative: The main agricultural problems the state had to face, especially the cultivation of deserted lands, would have been easier to deal with if there had been less severe regulations for potential leaseholders. This "liberal" view may be correct, but it would be all the more interesting to know why Roman emperors in late antiquity thought otherwise not only in this, but also in other contexts.

Two archaeological contributions by Ehmig and Hensen do not exactly show concepts of order or steering mechanisms, but illuminate the inherent laws of trade. Ehmig discusses the provenance and contents of amphorae in Noricum and the north-western provinces. Her conclusion that the import of goods is determined to a large degree by practical considerations (like easy access to certain goods) is not really surprising (but note the justified criticism of the theory that absence of amphorae for olives in the periphery indicates "culinary resistance" against Romanization, p. 204). Hensen presents evidence from a large necropolis in Heidelberg and concentrates on the large number of oil lamps. He collects evidence from this and other sites for a conscious reduction of oil-use and speculates about the possible reasons for a rise in the price of oil. It may be true that Spanish oil-merchants achieved a monopoly and used it for their purposes. This – together with the search for alternative sources of lighting by consumers – would be an example of self-regulation by the market, which does not figure prominently in the volume.

Droß-Krüpe gives a concise presentation of the procedures and actors involved in supplying the Roman military with textiles. Based on Egpytian papyri and a comparison with the grain supply, she reconstructs the regular process from the declaration of demand to the production of the actual textiles. She plausibly explains the small numbers mentioned in some papyri as indicating the assignment of an order to different villages and regions; she also speculates about the function of professional collegia in this regard. It is clear from the evidence that the organization of textile-supply for the military took place on a supra-regional basis; Droß-Krüpe uses this observation against a primitivist view of ancient economies.

In the final contribution, Vögler discusses the modalities of river traffic in Roman antiquity. It is concerned mainly with the technical requirements and geographic conditions. The subject of the volume is touched upon when Vögler inquires into state intervention to ensure navigability, but it seems to be impossible to pin down actors or procedures (the corporations are mentioned only in a sidenote).

The contributions are diverse, but at least in the Roman section, they yield a pretty coherent picture. Still, it is difficult to pinpoint overarching connections. The editor's preface starts with the financial crisis of the 21st century, which is an easy point to make, but its relevance as a parallel is thin. Scharmann's contribution does most to incorporate this dimension, but modernizing language can be found more often, e.g. Hensen's "energy crisis". This fits the tendency of some contributions to opt for a "modernist" instead of a "primitivist" view on ancient economics – another dimension pointed to in the introduction, but explicitly addressed only by Rollinger, Page, Schartmann and Droß-Krüpe. Surprisingly, modern economic theory is almost totally absent from the volume, although Günther does point to New Institutionalism in the introduction.

All in all, the volume has its strengths and weaknesses. Many contributions can be used as good, sometimes excellent introductions to their topics, which makes the volume especially interesting for students or scholars not well-acquainted with ancient (especially Roman) economic history. On the other hand, many contributions do not present new information or interpretations. This is at times due to their introductory character, but more often to their being derivative from earlier work. Ehmig and Hensen clearly state that their results have already been published elsewhere; the same is true (with varying degrees) for Priddat, Rollinger, Schipp and Droß-Krüpe. For the purpose of the volume, this works very well, but specialized scholars may at times be disappointed. In addition, the editing could have been better. Proofreading seems to have been left solely to the authors, resulting in a very uneven distribution of grammatical and typographical errors. In the first contribution by Priddat, the number of such errors is beyond belief, in some others, it is above what may be called an average level. More care should have been given to this issue. An index of subjects would also have been useful.

Notwithstanding these observations, the volume is a useful contribution to ongoing debates on the nature of ancient economies. It can be recommended as a valuable tool especially for students as well as for scholars looking for a first approach to the broad field of ancient economic history.

List of contributions

Birger P. Priddat: Aristoteles über Markt und Geld, 5–21
Dorothea Rohde: Bürgerpflicht und Gleichheitsideal. „Besteuerung" und ihre diskursiven Grundlagen in Sparta und Athen, 23–40
Josef Fischer: Die mykenische Palastwirtschaft. Aspekte frühgriechischen Wirtschaftslebens im Spiegel der Linear B-Texte, 41–81
Sven Günther: Zwischen Theorie und Praxis. Der Perserkönig als idealer Ökonom in Xenophons Schriften, 83– 96
Katja Burgemeister/ Lara Sophie Köcke: Spenderinnen und Stifterinnen: Zur ökonomischen und gesellschaftlichen Rolle von Frauen in Milet, 97–110
Christian Rollinger: Zur Bedeutung von amicitia und Netzwerken für das Finanzwesen der Späten Republik, 111– 126
Sven Page: Wirtschaftliche Fragen und soziopolitische Folgen – ökonomische Ordnungskonzepte bei Plinius dem Jüngeren, 127–143
Günter Schartmann: Die Krise des Jahres 33 n. Chr., 145–164
Babett Edelmann-Singer: Die finanzielle und wirtschaftliche Dimension der Provinziallandtage in der Römischen Kaiserzeit, 165–179
Oliver Schipp: Der ökonomische Nutzen des Kolonats? Das System der Bodenpacht und die ökonomischen Folgen, 181–197
Ulrike Ehmig: Produktive Nähe. Archäologische Beobachtungen zu wirtschaftlichen Abläufen in der Römischen Kaiserzeit, 199–213
Kerstin Droß-Krüpe: Stoff und Staat – Überlegungen zur Interaktion von Textilökonomie und römischer Staatlichkeit im 1.–3. Jh. n. Chr., 215–226
Andreas Hensen: Öl für den Norden: Energieversorgung und -krise am Beispiel des römischen Kastellvicus von Heidelberg, 227–241
Alexander Vögler: Des Kaisers schwimmende Güter – Die Bedeutung der römischen Administration für die antike Flussschifffahrt, 243–260
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Michael Blömer​, Engelbert Winter (ed.), Iuppiter Dolichenus: vom Lokalkult zur Reichsreligion. Orientalische Religionen in der Antike, 8. Tübingen​: Mohr Siebeck, 2012. Pp. vii, 306. ISBN 9783161517976. €99.00.

Reviewed by Frederick G. Naerebout, Leiden University (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

These are the proceedings of a workshop held in Münster, Germany, 24-25 February 2010, published in a series dedicated to 'oriental religions' in the ancient world. The previous volumes in this series dealt mainly with aspects of religious life in the Ancient Near East, Egypt and the Biblical world, which of course can all be labeled 'oriental', but with this volume we enter the field of 'oriental religions' in the narrower sense in which that term was popularized by François Cumont: the 'religions orientales' as in the famous Études préliminaires aux religions orientales (EPRO) series published by Brill. Iu(p)piter Dolichenus was the subject of two monographs in EPRO, M.P. Speidel, The religion of Iuppiter Dolichenus in the Roman army, Leiden 1978, and M. Hörig and E. Schwertheim, Corpus Cultus Iovis Dolicheni, Leiden 1987, and relevant articles can be found in several other EPRO volumes, especially the ones conceived as regional overviews. As the editors of the present volume themselves stress, over the past decades progress in the study of Iuppiter Dolichenus has been minimal (pp. 2-3, cf. Haensch about Speidel, p.111). So what has changed now and what has this volume to offer that is new?

Considering the fact that the cult of Iuppiter Dolichenus was an expansionist one that originated in Syrian Doliche but was disseminated across the Roman Empire, there have been important developments on either side of the spectrum. On the one hand the study of the cult's origins has been put on a new footing: the two editors Winter and Blömer, both of Münster University, are closely involved in the excavations at Doliche, and recent finds from that site are changing our views of Iuppiter Dolichenus and his cult. On the other hand the wider context of Roman imperial religion has been the subject of a large amount of recent research, much of it organized around empire-wide religious phenomena as opposed to the more local, and on 'oriental religions' in particular.

Doliche itself is the point of departure of this volume as much as it was of the cult itself, but the main issue is the interplay between what we see happening in Syria and in other parts of the empire. The following questions are being asked here: is there contact between Doliche and other cultic centres where Iuppiter Dolichenus was worshipped? Does it matter that the god is from Syria? What changes does the cult go through in expanding across the empire? What is the cult's attraction? What, if anything, is special about Iuppiter Dolichenus?

For answers to these questions we can turn to nine articles preceded by an introduction (three in English, six others and the introduction in German, no summaries). The articles range from the very general (Witschel on 'oriental religions'), by way of the cult of Iuppiter Dolichenus across time and space (Blömer on Doliche and the cult's diffusion, Collar on the cult's diffusion as well, Schwarzer on the cult's sanctuaries empire-wide, Haensch on Iuppiter Dolichenus and the army, and Kreikenbom on the cult and women), to the specific (Fowlkes-Childs on Rome, the Birleys on Vindolanda, and Jobst on the Alpine and Donau region). The main focus of this volume lies in the contributions by Blömer and Collar, supported by Witschel and Schwarzer. This can be seen from a simple page count: not counting bibliographies, appendices and illustrations, the four authors just mentioned have 130 pages at their disposal, the five others 65. We shall see that this is not merely a question of numbers.

Before coming back to what I consider as the four main contributions, I will summarize the other five articles, because they cannot be dismissed: all are highly competent and lead the way to a host of primary material, especially inscriptions, and to the relevant secondary literature. Haensch accepts that there are no specifics of the cult or imperial support that made it especially attractive to soldiers, as Speidel had already argued, but he clearly demonstrates the remarkable fact that we have dedications by complete army units, setting Iuppiter Dolichenus on the same footing as the 'official Roman gods'. This is not done on an ethnic basis (as in military dedications to dei patrii). Haensch also discusses the distribution across the map of such dedications and of indivual dedications by the military (he includes helpful tables) and concludes that this defies easy explanation: he urges us to look for the individual cult adherent that could have started a 'fashion.' Kreikenbom analyzes the role of women within the cult: compared to the 500 dedications by men, we have only some 30-40 which mention females, usually in some secondary role. Kreikenbom shows that whether women are present depends on many factors, such as the status of the dedicators (civil versus military), the nature of the sanctuary, the type of dedication, and local practices. Thus we cannot generalize from any one set of epigraphic evidence. The only thing we can conclude with certainty is that women were not excluded (relevant might be Jobst's figures that 40 % of dedicators were soldiers, 60 % civilians). Fowlkes-Childs offers a re-consideration of the evidence from Rome, where she distinguishes four, or possibly five Dolichean sites connected with the military, and a Dolichenum on the Aventine intended for civilians (of these six sites only three figure in the article by Schwarzer, cf. below). There are Syrian connections, but at the same time the cult has a local dynamic and becomes fully integrated into the religious life of the city. Fowlkes-Childs also makes the interesting point that influences on the cult in the capital need not come straight from the East but could be mediated by the cult as it developed elsewhere in the empire. Andrew and Anthony Birley discuss the Dolichenum discovered inside the fort at Vindolanda (cf. Haensch on the (semi-)official nature of the cult), in existence from the 3rd into the 4th century. Their contribution is a description of the archaeological and epigraphic evidence, with helpful lists of comparative evidence from Britannia. Jobst concludes on the basis of the evidence from Pannonia that the cult probably was imported into Rome from Syria and that while in Rome it largely lost its Syro-Anatolian character and was 'romanized' before being passed on to the armies in the border regions. Five interesting articles, but they do not really address the questions that are supposed to be central to this volume, or do so only in a very oblique way.

Let us move on to the remaining four contributions. Schwarzer presents a first attempt to look at all archaeologically attested Dolichena from a comparative perspective (16; another 15 are epigraphically attested, and a further eight are likely to have been located). The oldest examples are Hadrianic, the high watermark is under the Severi, and in the 3rd century many are destroyed – though a few escape destruction and show continuity into the 4th century. All have some connection to the military, though in most cases not exclusively so. Schwarzer's comparison with Mithraea is enlightening. There appears to be no single architectural pattern, but the sanctuaries have certain features in common, especially the presence of a banqueting room. Much remains unclear, but Schwarzer provides us with a firm basis on which further research can build. Although Schwarzer does not address explicitly the central questions of the volume either, his comparative approach, besides delivering a number of implicit answers, lays some of the groundwork for that as well. Christian Witschel gives an illuminating overview of the recent discussions about Reichsreligion in general and 'oriental religions' in particular – the one part of the book that is not purely aimed at specialists and would deserve a wider audience. He does not deal exclusively Iuppiter Dolichenus, but provides a necessary background.

Collar defends the hypothesis, already presented in earlier work, that a pre-existing social network of Roman army officers enabled the diffusion of the cult. In order to trace how this diffusion might have begun, by a clever diachronic use of network analysis she establishes first that the Danube region was the 'hub' in the initial diffusion of the cult, and that, as this region was also where we find army units raised in Commagene (who might be behind the dedications that expressly say that Iuppiter Dolichenus is 'of Commage'), these might be the 'missing link' between Doliche and the occurrences of the cult across the empire. Blömer stresses that the cult of Iuppiter Dolichenus was not an important cult in Syria: it was just one of the many local cults. Thus it can only be called Syrian because of characteristics which it shares with other cults in Syria, not because it was pan-Syrian. This, and the fact that the cult, when we encounter it in the East of the empire, was introduced there by military men coming from the West, shows that it was diffused from Doliche and Doliche only, and that Syrians were not instrumental in doing so, even if the cult came to be felt to be part of a Commagenan identity (by Commagenans abroad). Why this local god became popular across the empire as the aeternus conservator totius mundi remains unknown. Locally, the cult takes on new forms, but some ties with Doliche are maintained. Thus, the romanized iconography of the god is also found in Doliche (or might even come from Doliche, as Blömer interestingly suggests). He agrees with Collar in stressing the importance of military networks, not only for the diffusion of the cult but also to explain its demise. Declining mobility and connectivity in the third-century empire meant a steady decline of the cult. As one can see from this summary, Collar and especially Blömer are the only contributors who explicitly address the questions that Blömer and Winter raise in the introduction – with provisional results.

All in all, this is an interesting and important volume: in directing the attention to Doliche it ties in with what in these post-EPRO days is happening in the field of oriental religions' and makes a worthwhile contribution to these new approaches. Nevertheless, the thinking about the cult of Iuppiter Dolichenus could still be pushed a bit further. There is still an echo of EPRO in the urge to catalogue the evidence (in this respect it is also remarkable that the editors in their introduction ask for a new critical edition of the Corpus Cultus Iovis Dolicheni), but what we need above all is more analysis, along the lines of Blömer and Collar. There is much work still outstanding. The chronology of the cult deserves more attention (Schwarzer notes complications that the others do not really deal with); its distribution raises questions such as why the cult was apparently unpopular in Gallia and Hispania (again it is Schwarzer who brings this anomaly to our attention). But of course it would not be fair to expect this one volume to do everything: it has opened up some new avenues in the research on the cult of Iuppiter Dolichenus, and that is something to be grateful for.

The book is well-edited, free of misprints, decently printed and cloth bound as nowadays only German books seem to be. Its usefulness is increased by the presence of many maps and illustrations, alas of no more than acceptable quality. The line drawings do not pose a problem, but the photographs are murky and grey. In some maps and tables black and up to two shades of grey have to be distinguished, which can be difficult; cross-hatching or the like would have been preferable. Indices, a general one and a selective one of sources, conclude the volume.

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G. E. R. Lloyd, Being, Humanity, and Understanding: Studies in Ancient and Modern Societies. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. 136. ISBN 9780199654727. $45.00.

Reviewed by Anders Klostergaard Petersen, University of Aarhus (

Version at BMCR home site


G. E. R. Lloyd is probably best known to most readers for his important work on ancient Greek and Chinese philosophy, yet he has also maintained a vivid interest in the vibrant field of cognitive science ever since it came into existence in the early 1990s. Lloyd's recent book bears ample testimony not only to his impressive erudition in all these fields but also to his ability to have such diverse fields interact in an intellectually stimulating and intriguing fashion.

Despite its brevity, Being, Humanity, and Understanding wrestles with some of the most important and thorny questions in the philosophy of science as it bears on the humanities in general and the study of anthropology and history in particular. How can we possibly transpose ourselves into the thinking of others when we are inescapably bound by the constraints of our own culture and societal context? How do we, on the one hand, account for the undeniably universal elements that human beings share across time and space, while, on the other hand, acknowledging the specifics that tie particular humans to specific contexts? How can we pay credit to cultural whims, bound as they are to the contingencies of history, while simultaneously explaining the biological underpinnings of these caprices? These are among the pivotal questions that Professor Lloyd embarks upon answering. Apart from a short introduction, the book comprises five main parts, a brief epilogue, a glossary of pivotal Chinese terms and names, a bibliography, and an index of names and concepts. There is a laudable lack of errors in the book, which is a rare thing in much publishing of today (I only detected one, on p. 60: 'is' for 'his'). The scene for the arguments of the book is set in the commendably lucid introduction. In the first main part entitled 'Humanity between gods and beasts?', Lloyd further pursues the difficult methodological question posed in the introduction of how we can possibly understand the otherness of others if we cannot disentangle ourselves from our own perceptual constraints. Lloyd espouses a sort of vertical anthropological method by which he finds a close resemblance between ethnography ('horizontal' anthropology) and ancient history. Although he acknowledges differences between the two disciplines, he underlines how they both face similar and severe hermeneutical problems, so that it makes sense to think of ancient history as a form of 'vertical' anthropology. In order to interpret foreign worlds – whether they be remote in terms of historical or of geographical distance – one will need to grasp them through familiar perceptual filters. But will such an approach not ineluctably distort a proper understanding of them? In the terms of the theory of science, Lloyd holds the view, inspired by Quine and not unlike Putnam's idea of critical realism, that "incommensurability should not be taken (as it sometimes has been) to imply the impossibility of any mutual understanding" (p. 24). Although we may never attain a full understanding of others in their otherness, that does not necessarily imply that "all efforts of understanding are systematically thwarted" (ibid.). One could add that, in order to detect a difference between 'them' and 'us', there must by necessity exist some element of commonness that instantiates our ability to identify the difference in the first place (cf. p. 111). With respect to this shared element, Lloyd has recourse to biology. He refers to the argument of Tooby and Cosmides that, apart from sharing genes, human beings also have basic cognitive capacities in common that date back to our hominid ancestors. At this point, Lloyd, with reference to Marshall Sahlins, makes the crucial argument that culture is a reflection of biology (p. 25) – but this contention could in my view be pushed further and in a different direction from Sahlins' claim (which is also found in Clifford Geertz). In fact, one may endorse the view promulgated by Merlin Donald that even culture is a niche of biology – that is to say that there is no culture that is not part and parcel of biology. But in any case, by Lloyd's combination of biology and the 'thick description' of culture (in Geertz' terms), he is able to avoid the Scylla of overemphasising global and historical commonality, and the Charybdis of turning every culture into a unique and singular phenomenon.

The argument of Chapter One is further pursued in the second chapter, in which Lloyd poses the question of how we may account for error, or even diagnose it, without falling prey to prejudice. In other words, Lloyd takes the post- modernist objection against much previous scholarship in deadly earnest by underlining the need to engage sympathetically with our others; but against much post-modernist anthropology that has run amuck in its attempt to side with 'others' by any means, Lloyd retains the need to account for the fallibility of others too. Among a great many wise arguments based on common sense, Lloyd propagates the sound view that "to comprehend a radically different ontology does not mean reducing it to our own (whatever that is), provided, as I have been urging, we allow the revisability of our own assumptions and the possible multidimensionality of what is there to be understood" (p. 38).

The subsequent chapter sheds further light on the overall questions of the book by bringing in the case of ancient science. In contrast to scholars who constrain the use of the term science to an Enlightenment phenomenon, Lloyd, in the wake of the German and French tradition, conceives of science in the broader sense of "every attempt systematically to investigate the phenomena, to observe, classify, predict, and explain them, in short to increase understanding of them" (pp. 4-5). He therefore includes the case of ancient Chinese and Greek science, since both provide an excellent opportunity to examine to what extent we are really dealing with "radically discordant conceptual systems and the circumstances in which they may be challenged and revised" (p. 46). Against scholars who argue that one cannot genuinely speak of ancient Greek society as a society with a naturalist ontology, since such an ontology only penetrated a very limited segment of that society, Lloyd rightly objects that this holds true for much of the subsequent history of science in European society. He also contends that one cannot deny that the main components of naturalism and its multiculturalist counterpart already existed in ancient Greece. In the same breath, Lloyd makes the interesting observation that the first movements to impinge on the masses did not emerge in the context of philosophical debates, but in the realm of religion proper, namely in the context of mystery religions and especially Christianity (p. 70). Whereas I – in agreement with much current scholarship − am skeptical towards the continued use of the fuzzy concept of mystery religion as a proper taxon, I certainly agree with Lloyd's inclusion of Christianity in the context of 'popular' religion. One cannot help recalling Nietzsche's contention in the preface to Jenseits von Gut und Böse that Christianity is Platonism for the masses.

The question of Christianity leads into the fourth chapter where Lloyd wrestles with the issue of language and audiences. He observes how intricate doctrinal problems within the Christian symbolic system, such as for instance the notion of the Trinity, the idea of transubstantiation, and the concept of virgin birth, led to the study of hermeneutics. One model prevalent in scholarship for accounting for these paradoxical claims has been to differentiate between metaphorical and literal levels of understanding. One may think, for example, of J. Z. Smith's seminal essay "I am a Parrot (Red)" from Map Is not Territory. Lloyd's argument in this chapter is, in my view, the most original and thought-provoking part of the book. He challenges the time-honoured take on the topic by insisting that the literal/metaphorical dichotomy falters on the ground that it creates a Procrustean bed in which the statements of the actors are either shortened or extended in a manner that does not do justice to their world-view. Hence, we find a collision between emic and etic perspectives that do not take the sympathy advocated by Lloyd satisfactorily into account. Lloyd further criticises the literal/metaphorical dichotomy for its improperly positivist view of language that presupposes a one-to-one relationship between terms and their referents. Against such a view, Lloyd advocates the idea of semantic stretch, which transposes the customary digital differentiations of literal and figurative, myth and rationality into an analogue spectrum that allows concepts to undergo polysemantic stretch.

In the fifth and last chapter, Lloyd takes up the philosophical implications of the previous discussion. This part focuses in particular on the issue of incommensurability and the difficulty of securing objectivity in our judgments. At the back of the argument looms the frequently heated debate between realism and relativism. Once again, Lloyd appeals to a cool common-sense approach that avoids the pitfalls of any extremist position aligned to this alternative. Distortion of other worlds cannot be remedied by remaining within the confines of the worlds studied. If, for example, we study ancient Greek worlds, we will have to abandon Greek concepts and use modern ones in order to understand what is at stake, although that may lead to distortions. Once more, Lloyd espouses the view of perspectivism – an expanded version of 'semantic stretch' applied to the philosophy of science − which allows for the acknowledgement of different dimensions and worlds. Lloyd is extremely sober in pinpointing the problems that pertain to his own views, which makes his arguments even more persuasive. I especially appreciate his humble emphasis on the fallibility of our own present world-view in the West: "We may never be faced with the challenges of subsistence in the Amazonian jungle nor having to navigate the Pacific by stars and winds and waves alone. But we may reflect with due modesty that the skills we happen to pride ourselves on in our society are not the only ones that humans have brought to a high level of perfection" (p. 111). On the basis of such a view, we may enhance our chances of avoiding prejudicial thinking and thereby diminish the risk of falling prey to habitual judgments.

Lloyd's book is one of the best pleas I have read in recent years for the unremitting importance of the humanities. As should be evident from my review, I am full of praise for the book. Needless to say, there are things that I would have appreciated to see further developed, just as I would have liked to see Lloyd take a stand on the recent resurgence of cultural evolutionary thinking (see e.g. Bellah, Donald, and Eisenstadt). Is it coincidental that the two cultures Lloyd devotes most attention to are both situated at the transition from archaic to historic forms of religion / culture? But these remarks should not in any way obscure the great qualities of this highly ambitious and intellectually stimulating book. I shall leave the last word to the author, who should be granted the privilege of conveying a most edifying and salient exhortation for everybody working in the humanities: "Maybe we should learn to live without the prop of simple answers" (p. 28).

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Monday, March 25, 2013


Maria Wyke, Caesar in the USA. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 2012. Pp. xii, 306. ISBN 9780520273917. $39.95.

Reviewed by Eran Shalev, Haifa University (

Version at BMCR home site


Maria Wyke has written an important book that joins a growing number of studies that analyze the reception and role of the classics in the United States. The author chose to write a "tunnel history": Caesar in the United States focuses not on a particular historical moment—the book covers the long twentieth century—but rather chooses a trope, namely Julius Caesar, which she uses in order to "demonstrate the importance, and some of the diversity and the workings" of the great Roman in modern America (7). Wyke is the author of a previous book that traces Caesar throughout Western culture, which positions her well for the current task (although one would like to hear more about the distinctiveness, if such exists, of the American Caesar). Indeed, she capably demonstrates the various ways through which Julius Caesar provided—and still provides—a rich vocabulary with which to articulate major themes in America's history. The book thus successfully deepens our understanding of the nation's political culture (broadly understood) and its perceived role in the world through the image of Julius Caesar.

Wyke explores Caesar's American life in well-conceived chapters. The first three revolve around Caesar's prominence in American classrooms in the first half of the century, demonstrating how young Americans, mostly boys, routinely studied Caesar's military exploits and his approachable Latin, and how the devastation of Europe in the Great War eroded the former command of the man and his De Bello Gallico. The final chapters discuss Caesar's role during the latter half of the century, and his cultural working vis-à-vis the rise of the fascist (and self-proclaimed "Roman") regimes in Europe, the Cold War and the rise of the recent American "empire." Here Caesar's image emerges out of the confines of the classroom and the theatrical stage and casts its shade on the age of the silver screen and new journalism; the centuries-old fears of the decline of the republic and its replacement with a tyrannical empire converge with the potent image of the military chieftain, the Caesarian president.

The author casts a wide net in her search for America's Caesar and her findings are interesting and impressive, at times striking. The main problem with this otherwise well-written book is that the author, while acknowledging the central role that Caesar played in the American political imagination for more than a century before the starting point of her book, goes little further than this acknowledgement (indeed, the choice of title for the book is indicative, implying that it covers the whole gamut of the nation's history, whereas in fact it neglects more than a century of American Caesarism). Since the early days of the Revolution and throughout the nineteenth century Caesar has dominated many politicians' and commentators' minds in their attempts to make sense of the new American republican world. Partisans would repeatedly see those they deemed to pose a threat to America as Caesars, potential destroyers of the republic. Leaders as diverse as George III, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, as well as countless other national and provincial politicians, would thus be labeled "Caesars," commonly referring not to the imperial title but specifically to the energetic Roman who lent his name to that title. Wyke of course knows this but many of her examples, and consequently the book's overall analysis, would have profited from a deeper appreciation and more rigorous analysis of her material in light of this long American tradition. One evident example is the discussion of the Americanization of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in chapter 2, which would have benefited from many interesting parallels with the late eighteenth-century Americanization of another English play in which Caesar is a major protagonist, namely Joseph Addison's Cato.

Nonetheless, the book significantly enriches our growing understanding of the important role of the classical world, and particularly of Rome, in shaping the culture of the United States.

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Emmanuelle Raymond (ed.), Vox poetae: manifestations auctoriales dans l'épopée gréco-latine. Actes du colloque organisé les 13 et 14 novembre 2008 par l'Université Lyon 3. Collection du Centre d'études et de recherches sur l'Occident romain - CEROR, 39. Paris: De Boccard, 2011. Pp. 432. ISBN 9782904974380. €39.00 (pb).

Reviewed by John Henderson, King's College, Cambridge (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is given below.]

This busy collection of nineteen papers from a 2008 colloquium co-organized by the editor includes several contributions that are unexpanded, presumably as delivered, but she has made it all add up to a volume that works.1 She herself supplies a stand-out paper (replacing a drop-out on Venantius) as well as a brisk general introduction and conclusion (pp.7-13, 355-57); but she has also shuffled and teed up the re-grouped offerings into three themed 'Parts', on 'Author-izing identities = ?' (pp.15-18 on §§1-6), 'Poetic Subjectivity. . .outcrops' (pp.123-27 on §§7-13), and 'Poetic Ideology: Poet meets Citizen' (pp.263-66 on §§14-19); her link-divisiones provide succinct commentary obiter. Generous End Papers (pp. 385-424) include exhaustive Indexes Locorum, Scriptorum Recentiorum, Notionum.2

The essays are (quelle surprise) all-but-one in French (§15 in English) and all-but-two from France. Among the poets, Latin voices get the Lyon's share: Catullus 64, Aeneid (x 4, plus the scholia, and plus his Troy), Metamorphoses (x 2), Lucan (x 1, plus his Troy), Thebaid, Claudian, Dracontius, Corippus Iohannis. Keep ears peeled for Greek: only Homer (x 3, plus the scholia) and. . .– Theocritus have shown up (and he is up first). Apart from the last mentioned, then, it's all canonical hexameter poetry all the way (bar Corippus' elegiac proem), and no ramifying (beyond neoteric-countergeneric, oratorical epideictic, Biblical epyllion) into the likes of satiric, epistolary, or other frills.

The target is set open and sitting at the outset, with Aristotle's idealization of Homer as minimalist narrator wheeling on his personnel to talk soon as maybe (Poetics 1460a5-11) for Aunt Sally. Almost all the essays show how the genre was forever and as a constitutive feature thoroughly invested in massaging of récit with discours. They point out from author to author the chain of tradition-forming, -varying, and (conceivably) -developing riffs on programmatic salience for narration; and they explore techniques of constant self-commentary through rhetorical colouring and 'subjective' loading interwoven with presentational prompting and cueing. The formula vox poetae is actually rare in the Homer and Aeneid scholia (p.10 n.10), but essay §6 uncovers their recognition of a narratorial ego that is epiphenomenal to, a discursive function of, the story to be told, and contained within its arc (cf. §11), as distinct from authorial, biographizing, extratextual identity. However, right from the outing in §1 of the bid to import into the citified Alexandrian world of Ptolemaic patronage for Hellenic worthies such as Dr. Nicias and poet Aratus a purveyor of Syracusan-Sicilian Doric 'baahing' music from an unlikely new Pindar in hexameters, the 'biographical space' created by any writing-project recuperates psychological-social-cultural-political-ethical impulsion for however well-insulated textualist scenography. (The vocals of the corpus Theocriteum flock in, crowd round, step up, to run the gamut of 'porosity' between outback, metropolis, and showbiz at court, p.32.) This turn back out to narrative as cover for narration smuggling self-promotion into the author stakes will take over the book's out-turn (§§14-19).

But before we get there, storyteller's obtrusions into the stories they tell are mapped for each work in a repetitive overlay/sustained imbrication of the main palpation techniques that have so far won modern critical recognition. All the while, these chapters stage a running fight to get more of a handle on 'incroyable' poetic 'plasticité' (p.12) than circularity in the form of comment on the familar lines of 'focalizes through specularity, marks suspense, points up pathos' ('. . .dans une sorte de maniérisme où le poète dénonce lui-même l'illusion qu'il a créée', ibid.; cf. esp. §7, p.131). And how (to):

Start up intros, inset internal proems, and catch outros(the paratext): §2 (Iliad 2 catalogue), §3 (Catull 64), §15 (opening suite of the Aeneid), §16 (Thebaid's closing sequences).
Gazette obtrusions, in formal tabulations: Metamorphoses in §9, the Johannis in §18.
Re-count narrator 'outcroppings', tracking apostrophe, invocation/ imprecation: §§2, 9, 16, 18 and associated rhetorical figures, esp. linking into helical chains — §§2, 8 (Patroclus in Iliad 16), §7 (Menelaus < = > Patroclus, squared with Sarpedon and of course Hector), §12 (Telemachus), §16 (Oedipod brothers and Furies, readers and finished poem).
Let 'free indirect style' sink in: §§6, 9.
Search through loading and atmospherizing keywords, esp. buzz epithets organizing themes, linking into series: §11 (nêpios), §12 (infelix), §13.
Diagram narratorial deployment of person and number in shaping and negotiating reader-relations, attuning the writing 'I' to each variety of 'we': esp. §4, a fine map of types of 'us'.
Pick out archiving, memorializing, epitaphic, voicings: §§6, 10.
Mark tradition, intertextually launching innovations of epic: §19.
Accept hybridization, commandeering other generic accentuations: §15.
Listen, be told by ana-, pro-, cata-, meta-lipsis: §§2-4, 9, 12.

Besides several stand-out initiatives in their own right (see * below), the underlying story of the volume is rightly pinpointed as the attempt to uncover the decisive power of narration in creating and re-creating the generic, metageneric, and megageneric status of epic — captured in the other organizer's slogan, 'non plus une voix de poète' mais une 'voix poétesse' (p.17): as Bruno Bureau's own exposition points the aperçu, it's the self-enacting dimension of performative enunciation that is in 'our' sights, 'Ego n'est pas la voix du / d'un poète, il est la "voix-poétesse", comme si le poème lui-même parlait' (p.80).

And, true enough, the first tranche of papers is organized so as to tell us there are (can be) no boundaries to the self-limning calculations of story-telling (à la 'beyond here lies nothin''), before the second works through instance to nuance and/or deviance towards the moral that story (like song) constantly self-reinvents, and that too is a must. When this reader reached the final suite for that journey back from within, and ran into author-politics for the run-in, he felt that, despite ditching the fake-carapace of (omnimpotent) scientism, 'we' are still nowhere near matching Barthes' battery of narrative codes for nailing the powerplay (in S/Z). That 'internal narrator' phenomena and dynamics can be relatively downplayed (until, that is, the morphomorphic finale, §19) may be down to postmodern demystification of the (character of) character in narrative, but when the penetration of epic lines by didaxis opens the trapdoor to Part III (§§14-15), in rush those old demons ethos and ideology, emperors to cater for and custom to work, and we're back with the moulding of fictive worlds from-and-back-to axiological-deontological profiling through hermeneutic | prohairetic | semantic | symbolic | cultural frames, before we head out to resume the lives we write ourselves. Enfin our editor-narrator has mixed her epicist voices into multi-track versions of 'narration comme le débat sur elle-même et sur ses modalités', and en français this suasion makes for ear-stroking eloquence: 'une voix qui dit, se dit, se montre disant et se dit en montrant' (p.266). So much banging at an open door, you wonder? Maybe, but attention to sententiousness (§14) — to what epic storytelling does with story — rightly brings home the subject's definitive seriousness: that imperious voice (§15).

Episodic-reader specialists intent on their own patch will scan the ToC below, but coruscations f.t.a.o. everyone include:

§2 Contrast between ethically engaged Iliadic busyness hyping up quasi-live performativity and specular Odyssean 'novelistic' erasure of interactive 'orality'.
§3 Self-staging labyrinth, threading, weaving, diegetic images and Argonautic, Thessalian, Roman student-class audiences convoked for Catullus to teach. . .the maze of myth/ poetry/ fiction/ everything.
§4 Do not try to iron out ambiguity and contradiction from the voice of De Bello Civili as it flips between ego-nos appropriations, 'because that's precisely what they're there to introduce, on the model of the [self-denunciatory] satirist' (p.96).
§8 Montage clinches an included 'Wrath' for Patroclus (proleptic for Achilles' dénouement).
§10 Virgil invents apostrophe within catalogues at Aeneid 7.744-5 and 10.185, for (cannon-fodder) nobodies who won't reappear, so their vocatives amount to commemorative salutation through a secondary 'orality'.
*§11 57 times the Iliad plays the nêpios card, strewing across the tale the narrrator's nominees for fall-guy, who either are in no position to grasp what's being done with them in and by the(ir) story, or else are characters who risk a boomerang by themselves dishing out the label. The 25 cases in Odyssey re-shape and parody the Iliad, with 18 issuing from Odysseus.
*§12 48 times the Aeneid stars persons or peoples infelix, half from narrator, half from characters. Prodding us, and dooming them (while pitying, denouncing, cursing) to (narrative/ metapoetic) elimination from the mode and mood of martial heroics monopolized by epic commemoration.
§13 explores more ancient criticism, this time engaged at closest quarters with epic, in Propertius' review (in 2.34) of Virgil's career as authorial self-profiling. And shows how Lucan's pulverization of Troy in Caesar's fantasmic visit both desecrates and effaces Virgil's pained memorialization of civil war through Troy and Italy.
*§16 brilliantly disentangles the transcendence of the brothers' by their cities' feud in Thebaid 11-12. (1) As the duel to double death ends nothing, ending only in Creon's takeover, no less tyrannous despite trading on his son's devotio, the narration is studded with authorial energy, including (evidently self-confuting) prayer to the Furies to deny the theme a future except for kings to read (11.576-79). Whereas (2) after Argos' depulsion, as Thebes' defeat by Athens brings reconciliation, and even redemption for all the abominable casualties, this is managed by fading the vox poetae until narrator calls in the widows' lamentations to do the trick, so writer can make port and seal his poem as (self-guaranteeing) achieved work with assured future station in reading.
§17 reminds us how hard Claudian, caught in the blatancy of panegyrical-historical imposture, had to scrap to cook up any semblance of community to vocalize, while his story falls to bits around his strident orating. Delegation of the severely shrunken battle-narrative to captives freed after the victory regaling their families conjures up narratorial jubilation, the joy of storytelling.
§18 Christianizing Corippus gets in your face to take on Virgilian epic for Justinian.
*§19 clinches epic narratoriality with the 'paroxysm' of the Metamorphoses (p.266). Un-writing Virgil's Mercury metapoeticizes flighty hopping narration as episodic disconnect; jumping the tracks with Phaethon's nauagium (phaeton crash at the first turning-post into book 2) flouts Callimachus' programmatic semaphore on correct driving and puerility: but (by aping the bracketing of tragic melodramatics between the storms of Aeneid 1 and 5) Naso's carmen perpetuum recovers its ordained drive along time's arrow once past the shipwrecking of angel Ceyx at the end of book 11, bumping onto the straight and narrow path of solid epic narrative from Homer through Virgil through Ennius, to reach the goal of Ovid's promised tempora.4

Table of Contents

I: 1. (pp.19-32) Christophe Cusset et Fanny Lévin, 'La voix du poète dans le corpus Theocriteum'
2. (pp.33-56) Sylvie Perceau, 'Voix auctoriale et interaction de l'Iliade à l'Odyssée: de l'engagement éthique à la figure d'autorité'
3. (pp.57-71) Jean-Pierre De Giorgio et Emilia Ndiaye, 'Vox poetae noui dans l'epyllion 64 de Catulle'
4. (pp.73-96) Bruno Bureau, 'Quand il n'y a plus de honte à parler de soi. Ego et ses avatars dans le poème de Lucain'
5. (pp.97-101) Étienne Wolff, 'La uox poetae dans les oeuvres épiques de Dracontius'
6. (pp.103-22) Séverine Clément-Tarantino, 'Vox poetae, persona poetae: le point de vue des commentateurs anciens d'Homère et de Virgile'

II: 7. (pp.129-44) Sandrine Dubel, 'Changements de voix: sur l'apostrophe au personnage dans l'Iliade'
8. (pp.145-56) Jocelyne Peigney, 'La voix de l'aède au chant 16 de l'Iliade et la colère de Patrocle'
9. (pp.157-81) Marie Ledentu, 'La voix du poète et ses mises en scène dans les Métamorphoses d'Ovide'
10. (pp.183-93) Anne Maugier-Sinha, '"Non ego te. . .transierim" (Aen.10, 185-186): apostrophe au personnage et énonciation épitaphique, la nécessité d'une voix comme support de mémoire'
11. (pp.195-213) Michel Briand, 'A propos de népios dans l'Iliade et l'Odyssée: ambiguïtés et variations auctoriales, entre récit et performativité'
12. (pp.215-46) Emmanuelle Raymond, 'Entre poétique du pathos et mémoire du poète: le cas d'infelix dans l'Énéide de Virgile'
13. (pp.247-61) Aline Estèves, 'Virgile et Lucain interprètes de la guerre de Troie: les épithètes subjectives, fragments de discours auctorial'

III: 14. (pp.267-74) Martin Dinter, 'Sentences chez Virgile'
15. (pp.275-83) Damien Nelis, 'Didactic voices in Vergil's Aeneid'
16. (pp.285-98) Sylvie Franchet d'Espèrey, 'Finir l'histoire. La voix du poète aux chants 11 et 12 de la Thébaïde de Stace'
17. (pp.299-313) Marie-France Guipponi-Gineste, 'Modalités et signification de la uox poetae dans l'épopée historique de Claudien, De Bello Getico'
18. (pp.315-33) Benjamin Goldlust, 'Quand le récit épique devient discours politique et manifeste poétique: les interventions auctoriales dans la Johannide de Corippe'
19. (pp.335-54) Florence Klein, 'L'hen aeisma diènékès ou la poétique de l'épopée en question: Étude de quelques manifestations de la uox poetae dans les Métamorphoses d'Ovide'


1.   I should perhaps declare an interest in that I supervised Martin Dinter's Lucan thesis.
2.   These notiones stake out the collection's aspirations to theory; the recentiores just waste paper (and cause hilarity when e.g. the entry Fraenkel E: 367 directs us to. . .the entry in the Bibliography).
3.   Bibliography does, I should say, range worldwide: who says my ears missing all reference to Simon Goldhill's The Poet's Voice beyond one bare reference in a Nelis footnote to its bare existence counts as parochial? (Touché.)
4.   The pun between 'times' and 'temples (of the head, so "mind")' has yet to impinge on études latines.

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Kay Ehling, Gregor Weber (ed.), Konstantin der Grosse zwischen Sol und Christus. Zaberns Bildbände zur Archäologie. Darmstadt: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 2011. Pp. 144. ISBN 9783805342926. €29.90.

Reviewed by Pieter W. van der Horst (

Version at BMCR home site

In this beautifully executed and richly illustrated volume, fifteen German scholars discuss the whole range of problems concerning the 'conversion' and religious identity of Constantine the Great. The essays are all well written, aiming at a wider audience (there are no footnotes, only a short bibliography at the end of each chapter), and each of them is accompanied by well chosen photos of artefacts and by maps. Even though the book has less than 150 pages, its large size and (unfortunately) very small print in two columns guarantee that it contains a great amount of information.

The opening chapter by Wolfgang Kuhoff sketches the political and military developments from the death of Constantius in July 306 to Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Milvian bridge in October 312. Next Gregor Weber describes the role of rulers' dreams and visions in late antiquity and their relevance for the interpretation of the divergent reports about Constantine's vision of the cross (if it was that) before the battle at the Pons Milvius. Kay Ehling discusses in detail the significance of a silver medallion minted by Constantine on the occasion of his decennalia in 315, the same year in which his famous arch in Rome was completed. On this large coin (a 'Schaumünze') Constantine wears the 'Christogram' on his helmet, a clear and early statement of what he stood for. In 'Sarapis contra Christum,' Ehling also discusss the religious policy of Constantine's opponent Maximinus Daia and the central role of the god Sarapis, in his solar aspects, in Daia's struggle against Constantine. Martin Wallraff points out that in 315, in spite of the display of the Christogram on Constantine's helmet on the medallion of that year, the emperor also erected his arch without any Christian elements but with a medallion depicting Sol-Helios, and that even as late as 324 he had himself presented as Helios in an image in the newly founded Constantinople (even shortly before his death in 337 Constantine presented himself in the solar quadriga on a coin). Apparently, Constantine's program was 'Christus und Sol' (45), and Wallraff situates this aspect of his religious policy in the context of late antique solar piety (pagan and Christian). Johannes Wienand shows, however, that representations of the deity Sol on coins begin to disappear after 318 and that after 324 Constantine increasingly uses Christian symbolism. All this shows the very gradual nature of the christianization of this emperor. In the longest article in this volume, Steffen Diefenbach presents a somewhat technical survey of Constantine's building activities in Rome, especially as regards basilical churches and their close relationship with pre-existing sepulchral constructions (tombs and mausolea) and concludes that by these activities Constantine created a connection between emperor cult and the Christian cult of the dead and thus 'den Kaiserkult unter dem Vorzeichen der christlichen Heiligenverehrung weiterentwickelte' (80).

Karen Piepenbrink discusses the foundation of Constantinople on the site of Byzantium (between 324 and 330) and sketches briefly the city's new topography and the emperor's building activity which, she says, 'weist generell keine eindeutige religiöse Konnotation auf, sondern enthält christliche wie pagane Elemente' (87). The emperor built not only churches there but also pagan temples. Bruno Bleckmann describes the course of the lingering war(s) between Constantine and Licinius. Ernst Baltrusch deals with Constantine's attitude towards the Jews and argues that the emperor's fierce anti-Jewish utterances in letters and elsewhere and his often pro-Jewish legal measures should not be regarded as contradictory; the first are to be viewed in light of the legal and political situation of the times. Heinrich Schlange-Schönigen sketches the life of Helena, Constantine's mother, with special emphasis on her famous journey to the Holy Land and the post-Constantinian development of the legend of her finding of the True Cross. Constantine's abortive plans to invade the Sasanian Empire in the last year of his life are dealt with by Andreas Luther who pays special attention to the question why the emperor started this endeavour. Christian Gliwitzky presents us with a fine study of the portraits of Constantine, their place in the history of imperial portraiture, and their influence on later emperor portraits. Hartmut Leppin contributes a good essay on the agreements and the differences between the early and later Christian historians of antiquity in coping with the positive and negative features of the reign of Constantine. Finally, Alexander Demandt tries to answer the question, "Wer war Konstantin der Grosse?" and sketches both the ruthless power politics and the impressive achievements of Constantine in creating a Christian Empire.

The essays are uniformly written by the best German specialists in Constantinian studies. Consequently, they are of a high level (even though the target audience is not the scholarly world). Most of them are a pleasure to read. I recommend this superbly illustrated book to all readers interested in the history of late antiquity.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013


Pierluigi Leone Gatti, Nina Mindt (ed.), Undique mutabant atque undique mutabantur. Beiträge zur augusteischen Literatur und ihren Transformationen. Vertumnus, Bd 8. Göttingen: Edition Ruprecht, 2012. Pp. 221. ISBN 9783767530904. €39.90.

Reviewed by Christian Zgoll, Universität Göttingen (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Der anläßlich des 50. Geburtstages von Ulrich Schmitzer entstandene Sammelband vereinigt unter dem eher lose verbindenden, in verschiedenem Sinn verwendeten Begriff „Transformationen"1 sieben deutsche und zwei italienische „Beiträge zur augusteischen Literatur" und ihrem Fortleben, wobei allerdings ein deutlicher Schwerpunkt auf Ovid liegt. Acht Aufsätze befassen sich mit Ovid oder stellen Bezüge zu Ovid her, nur ein Beitrag handelt ausschließlich von Horaz (Schubert). Literarische Prätexte werden in den Beiträgen von Mundt und Seng in den Blick genommen, ovid-intern bleibt die Interpretation der Gestalt der Livia in Ovids Werk von Koster, rezeptionsgeschichtlich ausgerichtet sind die Aufsätze von Šterbenc Erker, Mindt, Gatti, Janka und Barchiesi. Der Band wird gerahmt durch ein Vorwort und eine knappe Einleitung und durch ein Personen- und Sachregister sowie ein Stellenregister; der Satz wurde von der Mitherausgeberin Mindt besorgt.

In dem Aufsatz „Kompositionelle Exposition und Reprise. Strukturanalysen zu Catull und Ovid" versucht Seng an Catull 68 aufzuzeigen, wie die Einleitungsverse 1-40 den Aufbau des gesamten Gedichtes kompositorisch vorwegnehmen, was er als „kompositionelle Exposition" bezeichnet. Ausführlicher widmet er sich dem Aufbau von carmen 64, in dem er die Wiederaufnahme einer dreigliedrigen Großstruktur des Gedichtes in den einzelnen Gedichtteilen eine „kompositionelle Reprise" nennt. Es folgt eine „darauf sich stützende Analyse" (S. 12) des kompositionellen Aufbaus von Ovids drei Amoresbüchern im einzelnen und abschließend der Amores insgesamt, ohne daß der Sprung von der Beobachtung gedichtinterner Strukturen zu der Behauptung einer mehrere Gedichte und schließlich sogar Bücher übergreifenden kompositionellen Gestaltungsabsicht hermeneutisch plausibilisiert würde. Angesichts der äußerst komplexen Motivvernetzungen und der zahlreichen Detailprobleme in den Amores, die zu diskutieren wären und die nach wie vor umstritten sind (Einheitlichkeit von am. 2,9, Echtheit von am. 3,5 etc.), bleiben bei der Amores-Analyse viele Beobachtungen assertorisch. 2

Schubert konstatiert in seinem Beitrag „Die 8. Epode des Horaz – eine Provokation" zunächst die eher verhaltene Rezeption der Epode. Es folgt eine formal und inhaltlich sehr sorgfältige, trotzdem flüssig und sogar vergnüglich zu lesende Detailanalyse, sodann ein Blick auf die Gesamtkomposition der Epode (u.a. Entsprechungen zur Rhetorik), so daß man Schuberts abschließendes Urteil – „perfekte Invektive nach allen Regeln und mit allen Mitteln der Kunst" (S. 45) – bestens nachvollziehen kann. Nach einer Einordnung des Gedichtes in die Gattungstradition und in die thematische Komposition des Epodenbuches fragt Schubert weiter, ob nicht trotz aller „Gattungszwänge" und der Entlastung Horazens durch eine Abtrennung des lyrischen Ichs vom Autor der anstößige „pornographische Charakter des Stücks" (S. 50) doch bestehen bleibe. Im Anschluß führt Schubert ein ganzes Spektrum verschiedenster Erklärungsmöglichkeiten für die 8. Epode vor Augen: ein biographisch-psychoanalytischer Interpretationsvorschlag, die Epode „als Dokument einer Frustration zu lesen, die sich letzten Endes aus einer gestörten Mutter-Sohn- Beziehung herleitet" (S. 54), eine moralphilosophische Annäherung („Elemente einer kynisch-stoischen Hauspredigt", S. 56), ein rezeptionsästhetischer Ansatz (zu Ergänzungen durch den Leser anregendes „Fragment eines Schlafzimmergesprächs", S. 61) und schließlich symbolische oder allegorische Interpretationsansätze (vetula als poetologische Chiffre für „alte", schlechte Dichtung, als Personifikation Roms, als Symbol für die Oberschicht, als allegorische Figur der Voluptas oder der kynischen Philosophie). Die „Fülle der Möglichkeiten", die leicht noch erweitert werden könnte, so schließt Schubert seine facettenreichen Ausführungen, sei „leicht verstörend"; in jedem Fall aber bleibe die Epode ein „faszinierendes und provozierendes Stück" (S. 65).

Der Beitrag „Femina sed princeps – Livia bei Ovid" von Koster untersucht die Figur der Livia Drusilla, Augustus' langjähriger dritter Ehefrau, in der augusteischen Dichtung, wobei Livia in größerem Umfang erst bei Ovid in Erscheinung tritt. Es gelingt dem Autor aufzuzeigen, daß die Livia-Panegyrik bei Ovid an etlichen Stellen so ambivalent formuliert ist, daß hier Seitenhiebe auf ihre nicht unproblematische Verheiratung mit Octavian, auf ihre Machtposition als erste Frau im Reich (und ihre Mitverantwortlichkeit für Ovids Relegation) oder auf ein sexualmoralisch anstößiges Verhalten des princeps zumindest erahnt werden können.3

Mundt zieht in seinem Aufsatz „Von Solon zu Ovid. Transformationen der Auseinandersetzung mit archaischer griechischer Dichtung in der augusteischen Renaissance" v.a. aus dem Corpus Theognideum Parallelen zu Ovids Exilpoesie heran, um aufzuzeigen, daß Ovid dort „ganz bewusst die Gattung der Elegie … zu ihren Anfängen zurückführt" und deutliche Kritik an Augustus übt (S. 92). Ein Rückbezug auf die „Anfänge der Elegie" (die nach Mundt für Ovid in der Auffassung von Elegie als Klagegesang lagen) mag gerade in der Exildichtung aber auch situationsbedingt begründbar sein, und die für die Augustuskritik als Kronzeugin herangezogene Stelle (Ov. trist. 1,1,75-78) „muss" (S. 92) keineswegs so gelesen werden, wie Mundts eigener Verweis auf die abweichende Interpretation von Luck (Anm. 40) zeigt. Im weiteren versucht Mundt „ähnliche Transformationen" (S. 93f.) in der Dichtung von Horaz ausmachen, am Beispiel des Themenkomplexes „Recht und Gerechtigkeit" und Bezügen zu Solon. Forschungsliteratur wird durchwegs ausgesprochen sparsam rezipiert. Recht zu geben ist sicherlich Mundts allgemeiner Behauptung, daß in literarischen Diskursen „trotz aller Vermittlung durch spätere Epochen auf das früheste Auftreten bestimmter Gedanken Bezug genommen" werden kann (S. 97), und berechtigt ist auch sein grundsätzliches Anliegen, implizit wertende Begriffe wie imitatio, aemulatio, Rezeption, Allusion o.ä. durch neutralere Begrifflichkeiten wie Transformation oder relationship (nach Feeney) zu ersetzen.4

Šterbenc Erker verweist in ihrem Beitrag „Transformation des poetologischen Programms: Ovid und die Epigramme Martials" auf die Fiktionalität der Epigramme Martials, die aber doch auch Bezüge zur römischen Alltagswelt hätten, in denen sich das „poetologische Programm" (S. 102) des Dichters besonders deutlich zeige – im Unterschied zu Ovid, der seine Elegien nicht in „spezifische Situationen aus dem römischen Alltag" einordne (S. 106). Durch Bezugnahmen auf das Fest der Floralia und den Mimus, auf die Spottgedichte beim Triumphzug und auf die Saturnalia weise Martial seine Dichtung speziell solchen Bereichen zu, in denen Elemente wie Freizügigkeit, Laszivität und Verspottung eine institutionalisierte Rolle gespielt haben und toleriert wurden, gerade weil sie, wie Martials Dichtung, nicht wirklich ernst gemeint seien. „Der größte Unterschied in der Poetik beider Dichter", so versucht die Autorin dann anhand einer Interpretation der Passagen Ov. trist. 3,1,37-42 und Martial 8,82 zu zeigen, liege darin, „dass die Panegyrik in Martials Epigrammen humorvoll ist, die Exil-Poesie Ovids jedoch nicht" (S. 118). Es erscheint sehr fraglich, ob dies tatsächlich aufgrund dieser Ausschnitte so verallgemeinerbar ist; ob es bei Herrscherpanegyrik wirklich um „Poetik" und nicht vielmehr um „Politik" geht; und ganz grundsätzlich: ob sich Unterschiede in der Behandlung politischer Themen, zu denen auch die von der Autorin untersuchte Ehegesetzgebung gehört, nicht allein schon aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Gattungstraditionen (Elegie vs. Epigramm) ergeben, worauf Šterbenc Erker nur an einer Stelle hinweist (S. 122).5

Mindt bietet in ihrem Aufsatz „Ovidius exul bei Theodulf von Orléans und Modoin von Autun" zunächst eine konzise Einführung in die literarische Welt der karolingischen Zeit. Anhand einer luziden, textnahen Interpretation von Passagen aus den Eklogen von Modoin beleuchtet sie dann die Art und Weise, wie dort eine schon durch die Spätantike überformte, biographistische Sichtweise auf antike Autoren zu einer komplexen Adaption antiker Vorstellungswelten führt. Die reflektierten und kreativen Anspielungen auf Ovids Werke, aber auch auf die darin enthaltenen, biographisch aufgefaßten Informationen prägten Modoins poetologische Aussagen, seine Selbstdarstellung und bspw. seine Positionierung Kaiser Karl gegenüber in hohem Maß, so daß Modoin „seinen Spitznamen Naso wirklich verdient" habe (S. 144). Die Funktionalisierung der Ovidvita zeigt Mindt im weiteren anhand des Briefwechsels zwischen Modoin und Theodulf von Orléans auf, „wo Theodulfs biographisches Schicksal in poetische Parallelität zum Leben Ovids gekleidet wird" (S. 137).6

Der Fokus von Gattis Beitrag „Da impudicitiae praedicator a princeps della narrazione: Ovidio fra Medievo e Rinascimento" liegt auf dem Nachleben Ovids vom Mittelalter bis in die Renaissance. Nach einem äußerst knappen Überblick über die Entwicklung der Ovidrezeption vom 1. Jahrhundert n. Chr. an folgt eine längere, vor allem Ovids Weltsicht in den Metamorphosen kritisierende Passage aus Konrad von Hirsaus literaturhistorischer Abhandlung Dialogus super auctores, eine Passage aus dem Römerbrief-Kommentar von Petrus Abaelardus, in der sich die Wendung impudicitiae praedicator Ouidius findet (eine Bezugnahme auf Ovid als Autor der Ars) und eine Einführung zu den Werken Heroides und Amores aus dem 13. Jahrhundert, die Ovid als ethischen Schriftsteller empfiehlt, um ihn, so Gattis Interpretation, den Fängen der Zensur zu entziehen. Im Hinblick auf die Renaissance konstatiert Gatti einen entscheidenden Einschnitt und Wechsel in der Haltung, die man Ovids Werken gegenüber einnimmt. Zur Veranschaulichung kontrastiert Gatti die Beschreibung von Ovids Exil in einer mittelalterlichen Ovid-Einführung aus dem 14. Jahrhundert mit einer entsprechenden Darstellung von Bonus Accursius aus Pisa, letztere nach Gatti „praticamente coincidente con le biografie leggibili in qualsiasi odierno manuale di storia della letteratura latina" (S. 157). In einem dritten Abschnitt widmet Gatti sich Leben und Werk des aus Sulmo stammenden Humanisten Ercole Ciofano, der sich als Ovid-Kommentator einen Namen gemacht hat und dessen Ovidii defensio et metamorphoseos laus als Abschluß im Original mit Übersetzung präsentiert und kurz analysiert wird.

Ein Beispiel für eine modernste „Transformation" augusteischer Literatur ist das Ovid und sein (Verbannungs- )Schicksal aufgreifende und neu interpretierende Erstlingswerk „The Love-Artist" (publiziert 2001, bei Janka in der deutschen Übersetzung von Martin Ruf, 2003, zitiert) der 1961 geborenen Schriftstellerin Jane Alison. In Jankas klar gegliedertem Aufsatz „Ovidische Bio-Mythographie im postmodernen historischen Roman: Metamorphosen von Ovids Leben und Werk in Jane Alisons Der Liebeskünstler" folgt nach einer kurzen Einführung in die moderne Ovidrezeption und in die Typologie des „postmodernen historischen Romans" sowie der Zuweisung von Alisons Roman zum „revisionistischen Typus" (nach Nünning) zunächst eine Makroanalyse der narrativen Strukturen und Zeitebenen des Romans, dann exemplarische Einzeluntersuchungen zu zwei Leitthemen (Verhältnis von Wirklichkeit und künstlerischer Darstellung; Ewigkeitsanspruch von Dichtung). Durch Textvergleiche unternimmt es der Autor nachzuweisen, daß Alison „direkt aus Ovids Textcorpora und damit aus dem Quellenfundus mit dem höchsten Authentizitätsgrad geschöpft hat" (S. 172), daß sie dann aber diese „Textwirklichkeiten … ironischerweise als Grundierung und Motor einer Gegengeschichte zur philologisch überprüfbaren 'Realität' einsetzt" (S. 180). In summa zeige Alisons Roman, „dass Ovid Vergil nicht nur als Vater des Abendlandes abgelöst hat, sondern durch seine schier grenzenlose Wandelbarkeit gerade dem postmodernen Literaturverständnis als ein echter Seelenverwandter Pate gestanden hat" (S. 195).7

Barchiesi reklamiert in seinem Aufsatz „Il prossimo Ovidio" eine neue Ära in den „studi classici", in welcher das von ihm in die Bereiche „trasmissione" und „ricezione" unterteilte Forschungsfeld des „Fortlebens" immer größere Bedeutung erhalte, wobei er das 2005 erschienene Buch Ovid and the Moderns des amerikanischen Germanisten und Komparatisten Theodore Ziolkowski zum Ausgangspunkt für seine Beobachtungen wählt. Die wachsende Produktion in Literatur, Film und Kunst, die Ausweitung des Blickwinkels der Forschung auch auf außereuropäische Literaturen, die Vielzahl der Bezüge und Bezugsmöglichkeiten auf antike Werke (nicht zuletzt begünstigt durch eine „Google-Mentalität" mancher moderner Autoren) und die (teilweise) zunehmende Subtilität der Anspielungen mache letztlich eine umfassende Aufarbeitung des Materials kaum mehr möglich. Die Ausführungen schließen mit Überlegungen zu Periodisierungsversuchen der Moderne, die einerseits konsum-/körper- und generationenorientiert seien (was eine Rezeption der Metamorphosen Ovids begünstige), sich andererseits nach (welt)politisch einschneidenden Ereignissen richteten (wodurch sich eine Affinität zur Vergilrezeption ergebe).


1.   Vgl. zu dem dahinterstehenden „Konzept" den Sonderforschungsbereich 644 der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft „Transformationen der Antike" an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, dem u.a. die Beiträger Gatti, Mindt, Mundt und der mit dem Band geehrte Schmitzer angehören.
2.   Corrigendum: 16: „Hierarchisierung" statt „Hierarchisisierung".
3.   Corrigenda: 73: Fehlen der Fußnote 10. 76: „der Vorwurf der Blindheit … nicht gilt" statt „Vorwurf der Blindheit … gilt".
4.   Corrigenda: 84: γνῶμαι statt γνωμαί. 85: iuvenem fehlt in der Übersetzung. 89: 1.6.27-36 statt 1.6.27-42. 89-99: Die Verse 33-36 fehlen in der Übersetzung. 91: „verleihen und" statt „verleihen_und". 94: „Kodifikation" statt „Kodifiktion". 95: ἀθανάτων fehlt in der Übersetzung.
5.   Corrigenda: 102: corona civica statt corna civica. 108: „eines prüden Lesers" statt „eines prüden Leser". 115: „Siegessymbol Jupiters" statt „Siegessymbol des Jupiters". 121: Zu Martial 6,4,2: das cum ist hier nicht kausal, sondern konzessiv zu übersetzen.
6.   Corrigenda: 130, Anm. 15: „Mühen des Schicksals" statt „Mühen des Schicksal". 132, Anm. 25: sprevit et … delusit sind präsentisch übersetzt (vgl. aber nuper im Vorvers). 133: „verschönerte" statt „verschönert" (für mulcebat). 134: recte (5. Zeile von unten) ist zu tilgen. 134, Anm. 34: mihi ferre per orbem statt mihi referre per orbem. 135: „mögen … dringen" statt „mögen … gedrungen sein" (für perveniant). 137, Anm. 41: „die Problemlosigkeit" statt „das für die Problemlosigkeit". 138: pontificisque statt pontificque. 138, Anm. 46: „Salanus" statt „Salenus". 143: „ermunterst" statt „ermunderst".
7.   Corrigenda: 179: „im historischen Raum" statt „Raums". 181: amanti fehlt in der (gelungenen) Versübersetzung (Vers 3,12,1). 185, Anm. 42: „Ähnliches" statt „Ähnlich".

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