Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Jerry Toner, Homer's Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the East. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2013. Pp. x, 306. ISBN 9780674073142. $29.95.

Reviewed by Tim Rood, St. Hugh's College, Oxford (

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"This book is not just about Homer and the Turks," Toner writes near the start of Homer's Turk. In fact, this book is not much about either Homer or Turks. The index entry for "Homer" lists 8 pages in all, and while Turks fare better, the book has much more about Arabs and Indians. The source of the title appears near the start of the book, in Toner's discussion of a seventeenth-century traveller in Ottoman Turkey who describes Janissaries using a horse-tail tied to the end of a staff as a royal standard – a usage "which … doth retaine, perhaps something of Antiquity. For Homer sticketh the like in the gallantly armed (though not so spirited) Paris" (quoted p. 4). Toner concludes that "The Turk … was in a real sense Homer's Turk" – by which he seems to mean is that the Turk was (almost) Homer's Trojan. The odd title should not, however, detract from recognition of Toner's ambition in the book as a whole: writing for a general readership, he covers in an accessible style a great deal of material from the Byzantine age to the present day, showing numerous ways in which allusions to classical authors have been used to express western (and particularly English) ideas of the East.

A brief summary is enough to show the chronological range of Toner's interests. The first part of the book consists of three thematic chapters: Chapter 1 offers some general comments on the importance of classical reception for oriental image-making; Chapter 2 examines different modes of classical allusion; Chapter 3 then explores some early (mostly Byzantine) representations of Islam. Part II is a series of case-studies, focussing in turn on seventeenth-century English travellers to the Ottoman empire; Gibbon's portrayal of Islam; James Mill's History of British India; the writings of Lord Cromer; and explorers in Arabia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (e.g. Doughty, Burton, Lawrence). Part III takes the story up to date, exploring representations of the East in cinema and some specifically American responses.

Admirable though this chronological scope certainly is, it is hard not to feel that Toner has been too ambitious. It is difficult for any writer to be fully in control of so much material, and inevitably in the more general early chapters some of the writing has a derivative feel, with examples cited via secondary sources. Toner does mention Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's comparisons between Homeric and oriental manners (pp. 116-17), but there would have been scope for a much richer analysis of this typical eighteenth-century theme: key texts such as the notes to Pope's translation of the Iliad or Robert Wood's An Essay on the Original Genius and Writings of Homer are nowhere mentioned. The very scope of the book also leads to problems with its texture: Toner repeatedly, and commendably, reminds his readers of the complexity of the issues he is addressing, warning against reductive polarities, but he is too often content to stop at that point. The argument is carried forward by many rather bland generalizations (e.g. p. 32: "Classical comparison functioned to legitimate the whole imperial project, from the military to the cultural. Yet it also served as a means for the English to think about their own level of civilization"; or, more dubiously, p. 233: "Not much had changed by 2006" – that is, between The 300 Spartans of 1961 and 300). The evidential basis of such broad-brush comments is sometimes unclear: Toner concludes a discussion of the growing number of women travellers in the nineteenth century with the claim that their travel texts show "that Western, always a general term, was acquiring many more apparent internal divisions": "The 'West' no longer simply meant masculine" (p. 215). "No longer simply meant …" – to whom? Leaving aside the fact that Toner here ignores his earlier, welcome treatment of Montagu, this claim speaks most to one of the dangers of reception studies – the insidious attractions of narrativization.

Many of Toner's abundant classical references could have profited by further contextualization. I was pleased to be introduced to Bholanauth Chunder's Travels of a Hindoo to Various Parts of Bengal and Upper India, in which the name of battle of Plassey is said to "stand on the page of history as equal to those of Marathon, Cannae, Pharsalia, and Waterloo – the greatest battles in the annals of war" (p. 160), but missed an allusion to E.S. Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, one of the most popular history books of the nineteenth century, which was presumably the source of Chunder's Marathon to Waterloo trajectory (though, interestingly, not of the battles in between). Again, Toner notes how James Mill drew on John Richardson's claim that there were no Persian records for the major battles of the Persian Wars (p. 153), but he does not provide any information on Richardson, an idiosyncratic eighteenth-century scholar, or pick up on Mill's distortion of the original argument – which was directed against the reliability of Greek accounts of the Persian Wars. Particularly puzzling is Toner's discussion of a passage in Charles Doughty's Arabia Deserta where a Herodotean parallel is offered to a story of an Arab prisoner escaping by cutting off his fettered foot. Toner uses this story to support the statement that "Many see the oriental as typically cowardly" (p. 203). Since he does not gloss the bare allusion to Herodotus, he does not pick up on how Doughty twists ("will not a rat as desperately deliver herself, leaving even her limb in the trap?") an act that Herodotus describes as "the bravest of all deeds" (9.37). In any case, it is not at all clear that Doughty's nasty rat comparison was meant to characterize the Arab prisoner as "cowardly".

The problem with the texture of the work is compounded by a lack of clear focus: for the most part the book does indeed, as its sub-title and blurb promise, discuss how Classics have shaped the way travellers have viewed the East; but other sections seem more concerned with discussing the intersection between the Greco-Roman world and Islam or more generally the East as a geographical component in the wider problems of empire (for both the British and the United States). A further blurring of focus comes with the rather brief overview of American engagement with the East towards the end of the book: Toner jumps at one point straight from two nineteenth-century American travellers in the Near East to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This final chapter on "America Roma Nova" has comparatively little to say about ideas of the East: it focuses rather on the familiar theme of Rome as a lens for thinking about empire, and seems mainly to be an attempt to boost the book's potential market by giving it an air of contemporary relevance (the jacket blurb alleges that image-making of the Oriental Other through the Classics "persists today in some of the ways the West frames its relationship with the Islamic world and the rising powers of India and China").

The lack of clear focus in Toner's book is nowhere more evident than in its sub-title. Toner is well aware that the images with which he is concerned have often been conceived in different terms (e.g. "Of course, no simple equivalence should be drawn between the Greeks and later Westerners", p. 16; "concepts such as the 'West' and 'Europe' were in their infancy, with 'Christendom' being a far more common term", p. 56; "no simple East/West divide existed in the Middle Ages", p. 59). But while dismissing the "vague and condescending" English ideas about the East (p. 21), Toner does not bring out sufficiently the inherent relativity of the concept of "East": the East is always a plastic concept, and his book would have done more to unsettle (or perhaps for some readers confirm) the vague and condescending ideas that continue in the present day had he noted that for many English travellers from the periods with which he is concerned, the East began not in the Levant or at the Bosporus but within Europe itself.1

Toner's book, then, is valuable for its energetic collection of a large body of primary material, and for its interesting discussion of some of that material. But its interest for all types of reader would have been greater if he had settled on a slightly more modest and coherent topic.


1.   See e.g. the opening chapters of B. Jezernik, Wild Europe: The Balkans in the Gaze of Western Travellers (London, 2004) and M. N. Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (New York and Oxford, 2009; first edition 1997).

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James Romm, Plutarch: Lives that Made Greek History. Indianapolis; Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., Pp. 295. ISBN 9781603848466. $12.95 (pb). Contributors: Translated by Pamela Mensch.

Reviewed by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton (

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This volume features fifteen excerpted Greek Lives, from Theseus to Phocion. Extensive notes and a glossary offer guidance on the periods covered in the volume. It is somewhat problematic that the book's title does not indicate that the Lives are excerpted, as many in the intended audience of ancient history undergraduates will never realise how far the editor has guided their interpretation of the material or how much of the original text is missing. The large number of Lives featured and the extensive historical notes will undoubtedly be welcome to some course leaders, but some will be discouraged from recommending this volume to students by the difficulty of identifying edit points and the encouragement to treat sources without attention to genre or form.

The editor's introduction explains the editing conventions that have been applied. Cuts mid-chapter are marked with ellipsis, while those made at the beginning or end of a chapter take effect without indication. Chapters are marked by bracketed numbers, so cases where chapters have been cut in their entirety can be seen, so long as readers check each number they pass. The result is that there is often little or no indication that a selection process has been applied.

Each Life is given its own introduction, which influences how that Life is read. The introduction to the brief selection from Theseus explains that it has been included despite its mythical nature because it 'preserves important ideas the Athenians held about their own early history,'— a reasonable position. The Lycurgus introduction explains that this is an account of a person who may or may not have been a historical figure. The extracts focus on Lycurgan law, which is a good choice as this reflects the main topic of the Life. Plutarch's account of the inheritance crisis in pre-Lycurgan Sparta is omitted, a decision which has ramifications for attempts to use this Life for discussions of Spartan society.

Solon is particularly rich in notes, something that is likely to be useful to readers unfamiliar with this early period. Political processes and factions are briefly explained (with terms such as boulé carrying pronunciation guides), and the translation issues surrounding tyrannos are discussed.

Plutarch's Themistocles is introduced as 'a complex blend of heroism and self-serving machination.' While a huge percentage of religious episodes are cut from the Lives, this one retains Themistocles' manipulation of an oracle, something surely intended to reinforce the editor's interpretive focus on 'self-serving machination.' Notes provide cross-references to Herodotus and Thucydides, and explain that Themistocles' 'ritual bow' is 'proskynesis. . .a highly formalized gesture of submission seen by the Greeks as a shameful self-prostration.' But there is no explanation of how differently Greeks and Persians understood this gesture, and no cross-reference to Alexander, where an explanation would have been particularly helpful.

The Aristides introduction notes that Plutarch foregrounds this individual in a number of episodes where Herodotus has 'Athenians.' This should 'remind readers that in the Lives Plutarch was composing character studies and moral paradigms, not history as we know it.' This is a welcome reminder, but it disguises the fact that this volume presents neither 'history as we know it' nor Plutarch's character study. Plutarch's elegy on justice is cut, although it is central to the interpretation of Plutarch's selection and presentation of his material (ch.6).

Chapters 1-3 of Cimon, in which Lucullus saves Chaeronea, is understandably cut. The omission of Plutarch's interpretive remarks, however, is more unfortunate. Plutarch is explicit about his admiration for his protagonists' feats against the barbarian, their timely moderate politics, and their generosity; he also notes their love of opulence and failure to capitalise on their victories. Rather than these themes, we get a foregrounding of Cimon's rivalry with Themistocles. This creates an interpretive scheme that is imposed by the editor rather than inherent in the text. Similarly, while Cimon's fondness for women and drink is included, Plutarch's insistence on Cimon's nobility and candour is cut. This creates the impression of an oafish Cimon, something not representative of Plutarch's depiction. The notes provide helpful and concise explanations of phenomena such as cleruchies and the Delian League, but sections in which Cimon helps the poor and refuses bribes are cut, which exaggerates the distinction between Themistocles as populist and Cimon as aristocrat, and obscures the complexity of Athenian society.

Pericles is provided almost in full, in keeping with its significance for the study of the fifth century. Most references to religion are cut. Nicias has few cuts and useful notes. Alcibiades appears almost in full. The introduction asserts that this is a 'morality tale about the perils of self-pride'. Alcibiades' pairing with Coriolanus is typically unmentioned; this silence is particularly unfortunate in the case of this complex Life, in which, as Duff has demonstrated, the pairing helps express themes concerning education and civil strife.1 Lysander is also presented as a tale about pride, with sections exploring attitudes to wealth, veracity, and civic violence largely cut.

The Agesilaus retains the accusations of bastardy against the heir-apparent, before skipping straight to Agesilaus' succession, thus omitting the 'lame king' warning oracle. This selectivity means that there is no interpretive guide or anticipation of problems to come. Similarly, Agesilaus' spoiled sacrifice at Aulis is omitted, although as well as anticipating future events it offers valuable insight into Spartan-Boeotian relations. Notes provide guidance on a period that many students will be less familiar with, although in a serious omission there is no reference to Tissaphernes' possible absence from the battle of Sardis. While the translation is generally clear and accurate, Agesilaus contains a striking exception. When Agesilaus watches Epaminondas crossing the Eurotas and says "Ώ τοû μεγαλοπράγμονος," "O doer of great deeds,' this resonates with the dominant theme. Here we have "A mover of mountains!" which is neither accurate nor as thematically meaningful.

Pelopidas and Demosthenes both appear in edited form. Plutarch gives several explanations for Demosthenes' nickname (ch.4); this volume includes only one, and that one is not found in Plutarch. Alexander 1.1 is omitted, losing Plutarch's famous statement about writing biography not history. This is significant in its own right, and has implications for e.g. n.42 'Plutarch has not troubled to explain these movements clearly', which sounds unnecessarily critical. Dion and Timoleon are omitted because of their Sicilian focus, while Eumenes, Pyrrhus, Agis, and Aratus are omitted because they are Hellenistic (p.vii). A brief Phocion closes the collection.

The introduction states that this volume is a 'further step' in 'a gradual shift in the way the Lives are read, moving away from the ethical towards the historical' (p.viii). This runs contrary to modern Plutarchan scholarship. Timothy Duff and Christopher Pelling feature in the bibliography, but the introduction's position does not reflect the work that these scholars and others have done to discourage plundering Plutarch for apparent nuggets of 'pure history' and to encourage readings of the Lives that are sensitive to their nature as biography, as moral literature, and as works that function in parallel pairs. Although the introduction does mention that the Lives were originally presented in pairs, no information on the respective pairings is provided. While there may be some merit in collecting Greek or Roman Lives separately, the omission of information on the pairings limits readers' ability to locate the corresponding Lives for themselves.

The editing pattern sees references to religion and sexuality largely cut, creating a misleading impression of Greek history and Plutarchan writing. Plutarch's reference to Spartan boys taking lovers is included, but with the observation (n.27 p.19) that Xenophon says that Lycurgus outlawed homosexuality. While it was thorough to include a reference to Lac. Pol., this accords with a general tendency to downplay Greek homosexuality. The Aristides retains one version of the origin of Aristides' rivalry with Themistocles (differing personalities), but cuts the other (in which it was instigated by rivalry over a boy). Similarly, there is extreme selectivity in the episodes that illustrate Agesilaus' personal life. That Agesilaus was tough and happy to lie on rough ground is included. That he accepted a handsome Persian boy as a guest-friend and helped him with his love affairs is not. The king's (politically significant) indulgence of his son's relationship with Cleonymus is omitted, while Cleonymus dying bravely at Leuctra is retained. It is hard not to conclude that this represents a particular notion of what the history of warriors should be about.

The religious theme, so strong in Aristides and elsewhere, is absent from this account of the Persian Wars. The Tegean push for prime-position is retained (ch.12), but the entire section in which leaders seek and interpret oracles is cut. Chapters in which the Spartans delay their attack, sacrifice, read omens, and pray are also omitted, without indication that a cut has been made. This significantly alters the battle narrative from a tactical perspective, and it creates the false impression that ancient warfare was essentially religion-free. Nicias' reaction to the eclipse is cut until it appears as if Plutarch presents him as absurd, rather than as a man who lacked necessary religious guidance (Nicias ch.23-4). The Syracusans' corresponding access to diviners and to the sanctuary of Heracles is also cut, again omitting what Plutarch represents as significant aspects of the conflict. Cimon's capture of Scyros is depicted solely in terms of the recovery of Theseus' bones, with nothing on the suppression of piracy (Cimon ch.8). As so much religion-focused material is cut from the Lives, this inclusion (with the retention of Themistocles' oracle) creates the impression that ancient Greek religion was little more than opportunistic trickery, which is certainly not the impression Plutarch gives.

No two people would make the same selection from Plutarch, and it would have been impossible for the editor to make a selection to everyone's satisfaction. Nonetheless, at a time when most students are being encouraged to treat sources sensitively and to think broadly about what constitutes 'history', it seems retrograde to have a work which treats biography as historiography, and history as a matter of politics and battles. Above all, with edit points so hard to identify, non-Plutarchan themes quietly and misleadingly replace those which were carefully constructed by Plutarch.


1.   Duff, T. (1999) Plutarch's Lives. Exploring Virtue and Vice (Oxford University Press) ch.7.

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Georges Rougemont, Inscriptions grecques d'Iran et d'Asie centrale. Corpus inscriptionum Iranicarum, Part II: Inscriptions of the Seleucid and Parthian periods of eastern Iran and central Asia. Vol. I: Inscriptions in non-Iranian languages, 1. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 2012. Pp. 326; 82 p. of plates. ISBN 9780728603974.

Reviewed by Federicomaria Muccioli, Università di Bologna (

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L'attenzione degli studiosi nei confronti della presenza greca nel plateau iranico e nell'Asia centrale (in particolare per il periodo da Alessandro Magno in poi) si sta caratterizzando negli ultimi anni da una serie di lavori che aiutano sensibilmente, se non sostanzialmente, a mettere in luce una realtà per molti aspetti complessa, non solo dal punto di vista politico ed evenemenziale e in cui, forse più che altrove, vi è bisogno di un lavoro d'équipe per coniugare saperi diversi e cogliere, in modo non parziale, intersezioni e interazioni culturali complesse. Il volume in oggetto, che si deve alle attente cure di Georges Rougemont, con importanti contributi di Paul Bernard, si inserisce perfettamente in questo filone, e ha origini lontane. Il progetto che qui vede la luce si deve infatti, in primo luogo, alla lunga e magistrale attività di Louis Robert (la cui ombra scientifica aleggia in quasi tutto il volume), proseguita poi da altri studiosi nel corso degli anni, fino alla redazione finale di questa corposa raccolta.

Il libro è pubblicato nell'ambito di una collana prestigiosa e importante quale il Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum, inserendosi nella sezione dedicata alle iscrizioni, soprattutto di lingue iraniche, di età seleucide e partica (Part II, che, nel piano dell'opera comprende sei volumi, divisi in numerosi tomi). Nella sua 'Présentation' Rougemont chiarisce subito i limiti della sua silloge, che deliberatamente riguarda solo l'Iran, l'Afghanistan, il nord-ovest del Pakistan, alcune ex repubbliche sovietiche dell'Asia Centrale (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tagikistan)1, senza comprendere la Mesopotamia, il Golfo Persico (e le sue isole) e l'Armenia (a differenza della raccolta di Canali De Rossi).2 I testi in lingua greca raccolti sono dunque divisi per città e per regioni, partendo da Susa, per proseguire con Perside, Media, Partiene-Ircania, Drangiana, Aracosia, Gandhara, Battriana e Sogdania, con un'appendice di 'Addenda'. La gran parte dei documenti comprende il periodo compreso tra il IV secolo a.C. e gli inizi del I secolo d.C., peraltro con qualche concessione all'età achemenide e a quella dei Kushan (ne sono escluse, deliberatamente, le poche iscrizioni sassanidi).

Se la silloge di Canali De Rossi, peraltro ampiamente citata e utilizzata, include, in modo estensivo (ed esemplificativo), anche la leggenda monetale dei re greco-battriani e indo-greci, Rougemont, attenendosi a una regola propria del Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum, si occupa di epigrafi su vari supporti scrittorii, comprendendo tuttavia anche testi su pergamena e su papiro (provenienti dalla Media e dalla Battriana; nrr. 73-74, 92-93, 131-32; cf. p. 7, con qualche incongruità nella numerazione); ne sono volutamente escluse, oltre alle leggende monetali, iscrizioni su timbri d'anfora e lettere greche (anche sotto forma di monogramma) stampate su mattoni.

La parte più consistente di documenti è offerta da Susa (nrr. 1-50; cf. nr. 50 bis), da Aï Khanum (nrr. 97-150) e, in generale, dalle regioni di Battriana e Sogdiana. La raccolta abbraccia le tipologie più disparate, con un'alternanza di testi anche di poche righe o parole ed altri davvero importanti se non fondamentali, sia propriamente documentari sia letterari. Basti pensare alle iscrizioni, provenienti da due località distinte della Media, riguardanti l'istituzione del culto di Laodice III, per volontà del marito Antioco III (nrr. 66, 68) ovvero agli editti nrr. 12-13 di Asvoka, nella versione greca (nr. 83; cf. nr. 82, traduzione greca di riassunto degli editti), da Kandahar; forse proveniente dalla stessa Kandahar è anche l'epitafio di Sophytos (nr. 84), recentemente edito3 e qui ripubblicato tenendo conto della discussione che ha sollevato tra gli studiosi. Tra gli 'Addenda' spicca la lettera, finora inedita, di un non precisato re Seleuco a Herophantos, ora in una collezione privata e proveniente forse dalla Drangiana (nr. 80 bis). Rougemont adduce buoni argomenti per l'identificazione con Seleuco II, piuttosto che con Seleuco III, discutendo (insieme a Bernard) tutti gli elementi di interesse, anche toponomastico, di questa epigrafe, peraltro gravemente mutila.

Chiudono il volume indici dettagliati (delle parole latine e di quelle greche, degli antroponimi iranici, quest'ultimo a cura di Philip Huyse), concordanze con le altre edizioni dei testi nonché con i numeri d'inventario museali, una tabella per illustrare il sistema di traslitterazione dal russo, tavola delle illustrazioni e ben 82 tavole, con foto, facsimile e cartine illustrative (della regione e di alcune singole località). Manca una bibliografia finale: questa è comunque ampiamente compensata dai lavori citati nelle abbreviazioni (cf. pp. 17-18) e da un ampio e quasi sempre esaustivo apparato bibliografico presente nel lemma relativo a ciascuna iscrizione (il che peraltro comporta inevitabili ripetizioni nelle citazioni, che comunque non appesantiscono affatto la lettura).

Credo che sarebbe davvero limitante classificare l'opera unicamente tra le raccolte d'iscrizioni, in questo caso di carattere macroregionale, anche se, inevitabilmente, sarà questo il suo destino, in termini di catalogazione bibliografica. In accordo con la migliore tradizione epigrafica francese, questo volume è infatti molto di più di una raccolta di iscrizioni, anche se la parte propriamente epigrafico-paleografica costituisce il punto di partenza dell'analisi. Si tratta infatti di una silloge che, partendo dalla documentazione epigrafica, assomma, direttamente o indirettamente, un'ampia gamma di fonti, che vanno ben al di là del ristretto ambito epigrafico greco e nel cui studio è combinata l'opera dei classicisti con quella di altri studiosi. Bisogna dunque davvero ringraziare Rougemont per essere stato in grado di approntare un'opera così impegnativa e, direi, imprescindibile, avvalendosi del sostegno e dell'apporto di numerosi colleghi e collaboratori, a cominciare da Bernard. A questo secondo studioso, infatti, si devono importanti e illuminanti interventi, spesso sotto forma di note aggiuntive, che costituiscono quasi dei veri e propri piccoli saggi a parte.

A suo modo, il volume costituisce perciò davvero una storia dell'Ellenismo, lato sensu, nelle regioni orientali, su base epigrafica. Questa non potrà essere trascurata da chi vorrà, in futuro, indagare in modo sistematico, soprattutto dal punto di vista culturale (data la labilità della storia evenemenziale in molti di quegli ambiti), sull'espansione greca e sul rapporto dei successori di Alessandro, in particolare i Seleucidi, con le emergenti monarchie e realtà politico-militari di quelle aree. Il commento a molti testi, infatti, offre un aggiornato status quaestionis e, molto spesso, rappresenta un contributo alla ricerca significativo e innovativo.

Ciò non toglie, evidentemente, che di alcuni documenti si sia voluta mantenere una interpretazione 'conservativa' o addirittura agnostica, anche laddove sono state avviate importanti discussioni critiche. Nell'impossibilità di offrire un esame dettagliato, mi limiterò forzatamente solo ad alcune osservazioni su alcuni punti a mio avviso di un certo interesse.

Ad es., ampio spazio è riservato ad Aï Khanum e, tra l'altro, alle iscrizioni di Clearco, identificato con Clearco di Soli da Robert, con le massime dei Sette sapienti fatte incidere nel temenos di Cinea (nr. 97). È un'identificazione contestata da più parti (Narain, Lerner), nel quadro di una revisione cronologica in senso 'ribassista' della fondazione del sito. Rougemont, trincerandosi cautelativamente dietro le sue competenze di epigrafista greco, ma utilizzando anche i dati archeologici, ritiene possibile che Aï Khanum sia stata impiantata tra il regno di Alessandro e quello di Antioco I, non recependo però l'identificazione di Clearco con il filosofo peripatetico. Accoglie comunque l'ipotesi che davvero Cinea sia l'ecista della città e che proprio per questo abbia ricevuto colà timai eroiche. Un'accettazione che dovrebbe comunque tener conto, in uno sguardo comparativo, delle dinamiche cultuali del primo Ellenismo nelle fondazioni di città, sia sotto Alessandro sia sotto i diadochi e i loro immediati successori (come Antioco I), oltre al rimando al caso, peraltro dubbio e discusso, di Anfipoli in Thuc. 5.11.1, evocato da Rougemont.4

Riguardo a due importanti iscrizioni di Susa, in stretta connessione tra loro (nrr. 11-12) pubblicate negli anni Trenta del secolo scorso da F. Cumont, l'editore, uniformandosi a quella che ormai è divenuta la communis opinio, ritiene che Phraatis nel primo testo sia non un funzionario (?) partico, come pensava a suo tempo Cumont, bensì un aggettivo femminile in unione con polis; si tratterebbe di una personificazione della città chiamata Phraata, nuovo ed effimero nome di Susa (l'uso di Phraatis sarebbe dovuto a una 'licenza poetica'). Comunque sia, nella lunga discussione che segue, peraltro quasi completamente condivisibile, è passata in subordine (p. 53) l'importanza di queste epigrafi per il problema del culto del sovrano sotto i Parti, tanto più da parte della comunità greca di Susa/Phraata. I termini usati nelle due iscrizioni per Fraate IV, pur attraverso il filtro poetico e nonostante i problemi di lettura e di interpretazione, possono offrire elementi a riguardo e, forse, anche nuove interpretazioni sulla percezione, anche sotto gli Arsacidi, dell'ecumene, divisa in due con i Romani come ammesso anche da certa pubblicistica di matrice classica.5

Nel complesso il volume si presenta molto accurato nell'esposizione, nelle scelte redazionali e nelle citazioni testuali e bibliografiche. Per quanto ho potuto scorgere, poche e trascurabili sono le mende (peraltro 'fisiologiche' in una pubblicazione di siffatta portata); ad es., p. 133: B. Virgilio, Lancia, diademe et porpora (ma vd., ad es., p. 169: Lancia, diadema e porpora). Parimenti rare sono le integrazioni bibliografiche che si possono suggerire: ad es., p. 135, nota 422: nel commento al titolo onorifico adelphē di Laodice III, moglie di Antioco III, il rimando a Holleaux, per quanto importante, risulta senz'altro datato, se si considera la recente discussione sull'introduzione tra i Seleucidi della titolatura aulica, modellata, sia pure con adattamenti, su quella tolemaica, e, in particolare, degli appellativi 'affettivi', con Antioco I – accettando una datazione alta della redazione di OGIS 219 – e soprattutto in seguito, da Antioco III in poi.6

In conclusione, si ribadisce l'estrema rilevanza del volume sia per per gli antichisti sia gli orientalisti (ammesso che abbia davvero ancora un senso tale rigida distinzione). Ci si augura solo che, vista la sede editoriale, prestigiosa ma forse non inserita in modo 'agguerrito' nei canali commerciali del mercato librario, possa godere di un'adeguata distribuzione e pronta diffusione nella comunità scientifica.


1.   Un'eccezione, più apparente che reale, è il decreto di Antiochia di Perside del 205 a.C. in risposta ad un'ambasciata della città di Magnesia sul Meandro, conservato in origine nella città ionica (nr. 53; cf. nrr. 51-52).
2.   F. Canali De Rossi, Iscrizioni dello Estremo Oriente Greco. Un repertorio. Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien. Bd 65, Bonn 2004.
3.   Vd. P. Bernard - G.-J. Pinault - G. Rougemont, 'Deux nouvelles inscriptions grecques de l'Asie centrale', JS, 2004, pp. 227–356, partic. pp. 229-332.
4.   P. 202, n. 703; cf. p. 205. Per una riconsiderazione del problema, assai discusso negli ultimi anni, cf. ora M. Mari, 'Amphipolis between Athens and Sparta. A Philological and Historical Commentary on Tuc. V 11, 1', MedAnt, 15 (2012), pp. 327-353 (con la bibliografia ivi riportata).
5.   Cf. F. Muccioli, 'Il problema del culto del sovrano nella regalità arsacide: appunti per una discussione,' Orbis Parthicus. Studies in Memory of Professor Jósef Wolski (Electrum, 15), Kraków 2009, pp. 83-104, partic. pp. 89- 90, 98.
6.   Basti il rimando a H.M. Cotton - M. Wörrle, Seleukos IV to Heliodoros. 'A New Dossier of Royal Correspondence from Israel', ZPE, 159 (2007), pp. 191-205 (pubblicazione a cui sono seguiti diversi interventi critici, soprattutto nella stessa rivista); B. Dreyer, 'Wie man ein «Verwandter» des Königs wird - Karrieren und Hierarchie am Hofe von Antiochos III.', New Studies on the Seleucids (Electrum, 18), Kraków 2011, pp. 97-114.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Christos Theodoridis (ed.), Photii Patriarchae Lexicon. Volumen III, N–Φ. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2013. Pp. xxvi, 600. ISBN 9783110282665. $266.00.

Reviewed by Martin West, All Souls College, Oxford (

Version at BMCR home site

Photius' Lexicon has grown and grown. Although the work had always been known about, none of it was published until 1808, when Gottfried Hermann issued a virtually uncorrected text from two inferior copies; the edition bore, in Blomfield's words, 'many marks of that precipitancy and want of concoction which so often distinguish the productions of that very learned and able German'.1 Richard Porson, who died in the same year, left a transcript that he had made from the twelfth-century Codex Galeanus in Trinity College, Cambridge, which is the archetype of all known manuscripts of the Lexicon (g). Actually it was his second transcript, the first having been lost in a fire. Peter Dobree took it over, checked it carefully against the manuscript, added a few emendations to those few that Porson had made, and published the work in 1822. Although not much had been done to correct the transmitted text, this remained the standard edition through the nineteenth century; that by S. A. Naber (Leiden 1864–5) marked a critical advance, but was marred by numerous omissions.

The great defect of g is that 120 leaves of the original manuscript are lost, so that it preserves only some 55 per cent of the Lexicon. Most of α–ε is missing, as well as portions of κ and of φ–ω. Eventually a thirteenth-century manuscript acquired in 1901 for the Preussische Staatsbibliothek, b = Berolinensis graec. oct. 22, was found to contain the beginning of the work as far as ἄπαρνος, filling 157 pages in Reizenstein's edition of 1907.2 Then in 1959 Linos Politis discovered in a remote monastery at Zavorda in western Macedonia a codex of the thirteenth or fourteenth century (z) containing the entire Lexicon from α to ω, albeit with some abridgment.

The Classics Department of the University of Thessaloniki resolved to undertake a new edition of the Lexicon. After fourteen years of desultory collaborative work and discontinuous funding, responsibility for the project was entrusted to Christos Theodoridis, who accepted it on condition that the edition should appear under his name. Between 1974 and 1979 he spent several periods of time at Bonn with Hartmut Erbse, consolidating his mastery of the grammatical and lexicographical tradition while he made progress with the edition. He worked from photographs of z, as the pig-headed bishop of Grevena, the diocese in which Zavorda lies, denied him access to the original.

His first volume, covering α–δ, appeared in 1982 and the second, covering ε–μ, in 1998. Both contain extensive Prolegomena. Those in the first volume deal with the transmission of the Lexicon, its relationship to the ῥητορικόν cited in the Etymologicum Genuinum, and Photius' sources; those in the second with Photius' relationship to the Suda, the Harpocration epitome, and Timaios' Platonic lexicon, and further questions connected with the Suda and Genuinum.

The third volume was meant to be the last, but in September 2009, after completing much the greater part of it (up to φ), Theodoridis died. His widow, Niki Papatriantaphyllou-Theodoridis, who had followed his work from the beginning 'mit Geduld und Einfühlung' (I. xii, cf. II. x), has put the finishing touches to his manuscript and seen it through the press. The remainder of the Lexicon, χ–ω, is to be edited by Stephanos Matthaios.

Of the 592 pages of text in the new volume only the last 13 (φορίνη–φώσσων) add to what was in Porson's edition of g, and all the material that they add was already represented in other sources such as the Synagoge and Suda; they bring us no new fragments of classical writers. But Theodoridis' work of course represents a huge advance in terms of editorial technique, with its numbering of glosses, marginal source-indications, and double apparatus in which all the parallel texts from the grammatical tradition are cited and exact information provided about variants and scholars' conjectures. For α–φ we now have a definitive edition. Unless some of the missing leaves from g turn up, or a manuscript independent of g, Photius will not need to be edited ever again.

The following examples, taken from the first hundred glosses of ν and the first hundred of σ, will illustrate how often the new text (Th) is superior to Porson's (P), though many of the improvements are already in Naber (N). I cite some corrections from Th's apparatus as if they were in his text.

ν 16 ναμέρτεια N Th: ναμεργία Ρ || 21 Ναξία λίθος· ἡ ἀκόνη N Th: Ναξίανθος· ἡ ἀκοή P || 38 (om. N) ἐὰν δὲ ἦι ναυκραρικά, εἴη ἂν τὰ τῶν ἀρχόντων Th: ἐὰν δὲ ἦι Ναυκρατητικά, ἢ ἀντ᾽ αὐτῶν ἀρχόντων P || 40 διαταγῆναι αὐτούς, ἃ ἐκάλουν ναυκραρία<ς> Th: διαταγῆναι· αὐτοὺς δὲ ἐκάλουν ναυκράρια P N || 48 ναυσίποδες Th: ναύποδες P N || 50 νηΐ· {νηΐ}· τὴν δὲ πληθυντικὴν <***> Th: νηΐ· νηΐτην δὲ πληθυντικήν P: νηΐ· νηΐτην δὲ πληθὺν τὴν ναυτικήν N || 64 ναυτικὴν N Th: ᾽Αττικὴν P || 70 Νικοφῶν N Th: Κτησιφῶν P || 73 Αἰξίν· N Th: Σφιγξὶν P || 74 κενὰ N Th: καινὰ P || 82 (om. N) διαζωννύντος νεβρίσιν· <***> ἐπὶ Th: διαζωννύντος· νεβρίζειν ἐπὶ P || 91 τειμὰς N Th: τιμὰς P || 98 νεοχμιζομένου N Th: νεκνιζομένου P.

σ 2 καὶ τὸν σῶον σῶν· καὶ σῶοι σῶι παρὰ Θουκυδίδηι· οἱ δὲ δισυλλάβως σῶοι N (in app.) Th: καὶ τὸν σῶον καὶ σῶν· καὶ σῶοι, σοῖ· παρὰ δὲ Θουκυδίδηι δισυλλάβως σῶοι P || 4 σαβαρίχην N Th: σαβαρίχιν P || 23 σαλακωνίσαι N Th: σαικονῆσαι P || 27 κοσμεῖ· {ἢ χαίρει} Th: κοσμεῖ ἢ χαίρει P: κοσμεῖ ἢ χαίνει N || 41 σαλάμβην N Th: σαλάβην P || 49 σαμάκιον N Th: σαλμάκιον P || 50 (om. N) σαλακών Th: σαλαμός P || 59 εἰς ὑηνίαν ἐπισκώπτων †Μιννύωνα†· ὑσὶ Th, item cum μιννύω· ὑσὶ N: εἰσυαμίαν ἐπισκώπτων †μιννύω† ναυσὶ P || 61 ᾽Αρχῖνος ὁ ᾽Αθηναῖος … κε´ N Th: ἄρχειν· οἱ δ᾽ ᾽Αθηναίοις … καὶ P || 63 σανδαλιοθήκην N Th: σανδανοθήκην P || 67 σαννίον {ον}· τὸ αἰδοῖον· ἀντὶ <τοῦ> κερκίον N Th: σαννίονον· τὸ αἰδοῖον· ἀντικέρκιον P || 70 νάξας N (in app.) Th: ἁμάξας P || 74 σάκ{τ}αν· καὶ σάβυττον Th: σάκταν· καὶ σάβυτταν P: σάκταν καὶ σάβυττον N || 82 Τάλων N Th: σιαλον P || 83 σαρκάσας· τὰς τῶν χειλῶν σάρκας <διανοίξας> N Th: σαρείσας· τὰς τῶν χειλῶν σάρκας P || 88 Κράτης τὴν μεγάλην N Th: κρατίστην· μεγάλην P.

Wilamowitz, reviewing the first volume of Ada Adler's Suidae Lexicon eighty-five years ago, wrote, 'Wie gut wird es die Generation haben, die Cyrill und Hesych, Bekkers Anekdota und die Etymologika im Stile dieses Suidas besitzen wird.'3 He would have acclaimed Theodoridis' Photius as a decisive step towards that still distant goal. It is to be hoped that we shall not have to wait too many years for χ–ω and for the indexes that Volumen IV will presumably include. An Index Auctorum is an especial desideratum.


1.   Edinburgh Review 42 (1813), 331.
2.   Der Anfang des Lexikons des Photios, Leipzig and Berlin.
3.   Deutsche Literaturzeitung 49 (1928), 2158.

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Sergio Audano, Giovanni Cipriani (ed.), Aspetti della Fortuna dell'Antico nella Cultura Europea : atti della Nona Giornata di Studi, Sestri Levante, 16 marzo 2012. Echo, 9. Foggia: Edizioni Il Castello, 2013. Pp. 133. ISBN 9788865720905. €15.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Guillaume Flamerie de Lachapelle, Université Michel-de-Montaigne/Bordeaux 3 (

Version at BMCR home site

[La liste des articles est donnée à la fin de la présente recension.]

Voici que paraît, en l'espace de deux ans seulement, le neuvième fascicule de la collection ECHO, dirigée par Giovanni Cipriani et publiée sous l'égide de l'Université de Foggia. Au sein de la série alternent essais individuels et ouvrages collectifs : c'est de cette deuxième catégorie que relève le présent volume. Comme les précédents, ce recueil aborde la question de la réception de l'Antiquité, envisagée dans son sens le plus large, ainsi que s'en explique Cipriani dans sa brève préface. Quelles qu'en soient les causes profondes,1 il s'agit décidément d'un des domaines les plus dynamiques de nos études classiques.

Sergio Audano propose une introduction qui résume commodément les différentes contributions.

Giancarlo Mazzoli s'intéresse à l'image de Sénèque chez Diderot. Après avoir rappelé les controverses qui entourent la figure du stoïcien au XVIIe siècle et au début du XVIIIe, il note que Diderot se montre d'abord froid, voire critique à l'égard du Cordouan. Mazzoli étudie ensuite l'influence de Sénèque sur le Paradoxe du comédien (notamment sur la façon de jouer la colère). La dernière partie de l'article revient sur l'Essai sur les règnes de Claude et Néron (17781 ; 17822), qui consiste au fond pour une large part en une apologie historique, morale et littéraire du précepteur de Néron. Ce commode et judicieux aperçu pourra être utilisé en complément d'autres synthèses.2

Valeria Viparelli retrace la succession des représentations iconographiques et littéraires d'Ariane en tant que « belle endormie », c'est-à-dire lors de sa rencontre avec Dionysos. Cette légende eut d'abord une existence parallèle au mythe de l'abandon par Thésée, avant que les deux se fondent au Ve siècle a.C. Si la scène revient souvent sur des vases anciens, ce qui prouve sa popularité, les témoignages littéraires sont moins nombreux. Viparelli s'intéresse surtout à l'élégie I, 3, de Properce. Le poète, découvrant Cynthie endormie, belle comme une statue de pierre (l'image était déjà chez Catulle et se retrouvera chez Ovide), pense à Ariane, mais aussi à Andromède ou à une Bacchante. L'auteur analyse très finement le trouble du poète ivre et son extase devant la jeune femme. La dernière partie de l'élégie, la lamentation de la belle, transforme en quelque sorte le poète en Thésée. Viparelli passe ensuite en revue les occurrences du personnage dans la poésie hellénistique (Nonnos de Panopolis, Anthologie palatine et Anthologie de Planude), avant de s'attarder sur la treizième Élégie romaine de Goethe : cette fois-ci, c'est le poète qui est comme pétrifié par la femme assoupie. Le poème Der Besuch, du même, est quant à lui une brillante récriture de l'élégie de Properce.

Marco Fernandelli résume les principes de la Rezeptionstheorie élaborée par Hans Robert Jauss (et affinée par Wolfgang Iser), avant de les appliquer au carmen 64 de Catulle. Il est difficile de résumer cette communication riche et ardue, qui se conclut par une réflexion plus générale sur les Reception Studies : celles-ci ne doivent pas négliger les théories élaborées par des penseurs comme Jauss ou Iser, sous peine de se réduire à une série de constats empiriques et d'enquêtes isolées, dépourvues de méthode solide et inaptes à donner lieu à une approche véritablement neuve des textes anciens.3

Yasunari Takada se penche sur la fortune de la littérature antique dans la culture japonaise. La première vague, c'est-à-dire les rudiments apportés par les missionnaires espagnols et portugais au XVIe siècle (avec des cours et quelques traductions), n'a pas laissé d'empreinte durable du fait de la politique isolationniste adoptée dès le début du XVIIe siècle. Au milieu du XIXe siècle, résolus à moderniser le Japon technologiquement, mais aussi culturellement, les dirigeants s'inspirent de la pensée des grandes nations, en particulier l'Allemagne. Or celle-ci est plutôt philhellène. Par conséquent, si les traductions du grec se multiplient, le latin est réduit à la portion congrue, comme le montrent les exemples de Virgile et (à un degré moindre) d'Horace. Cette étude méticuleuse donne à voir un aspect méconnu, mais passionnant, de la diffusion des textes antiques dans le monde.

Les deux derniers articles sont de pieuses offrandes à la mémoire de Emanuele Narducci, grand spécialiste de Cicéron et de Lucain brutalement disparu en 2007 à l'âge de cinquante-sept ans, et qui donne désormais son nom au « Centro di Studi Sulla Fortuna dell'Antico » de Sestri Levante, organisateur du colloque à l'origine du présent volume.

Giovanni Mennella a exhumé des documents difficilement accessibles pour éclairer un épisode marquant de la jeunesse toscane de E. Narducci. En 1965, ce dernier découvrit à l'âge de quinze ans, en compagnie d'un médecin tout aussi amateur que lui, un important site étrusque qu'il signala aux services archéologiques de la région : la tombe dei Boschetti et le tumulus de Montefortini. Il consacra deux solides articles à ces monuments (une présentation dans un journal local et une analyse plus poussée dans une revue), qui témoignent de sa maturité et de sa vivacité intellectuelle ; la recherche postérieure a d'ailleurs confirmé une bonne part des déductions du brillant lycéen. La précision avec laquelle Mennella a mené son enquête, enrichie par plusieurs documents photographiques, est sans doute l'un des meilleurs hommages que l'on pouvait rendre à la rigueur et à l'exigence scientifiques qui furent celles de Narducci.4

Enfin, Rosario Pintaudi évoque brièvement les cours de papyrologie de M. Manfredi que Narducci suivait à l'Université de Florence, et son premier article : une note critique consacrée à un fragment de Callimaque.

On le voit, les thèmes des interventions sont très variés, et le sujet choisi par Takada semble même extérieur au périmètre géographique défini par le titre. Il n'en reste pas moins que ces contributions solides et (généralement) claires seront très profitables à tous les antiquisants soucieux de mieux connaître la fortune de leur discipline. Quant à l'éclairage apporté sur Narducci, il est de nature à accroître encore l'admiration qu'on lui porte et le regret qu'on éprouve à l'idée de sa mort prématurée.

Table of Contents

Giovanni Cipriani : « Prefazione ».
Sergio Audano : « Premessa ».
Giancarlo Mazzoli : « Seneca e Diderot ».
Valeria Viparelli : « La scoperta della Bella Addormentata : Arianna da Properzio a Goethe ».
Marco Fernandelli : « Fortuna e ricezione del testo antico : il caso di Catullo 64 ».
Yasunari Takada : « La diffusione di Virgilio e Orazio, ovvero la letteratura latina al di là delle culture ».
Giovanni Mennella : « Il momento etrusco di Emanuele Narducci ».
Rosario Pintaudi : « Narducci e la papirologia : il ricordo di un amico ».


1.   Fernandelli (p. 86) n'a sans doute pas tout à fait tort quand il met en avant, pour expliquer l'essor de ce domaine, l'ardent désir des antiquisants d'échapper à l'extinction universitaire qui leur est promise s'ils se cantonnent à la philologie traditionnelle.
2.   Nous pensons notamment à M. Spanneut, « Permanence de Sénèque le Philosophe », BAGB, 1980, 361- 407 (surtout 402-403) et Ch. Grell, Le XVIIIe siècle et l'Antiquité en France, Oxford, 1995, 1108-1113.
3.   Peut-être vaudrait-il la peine de mettre en regard un bref essai de R. L. Fowler : « Why Every Good Classicist Hates Theories, or the View from Parnassus », Classical Views, n. s. 1, 1982, p. 77-81.
4.   Exigence qui le menait à prendre des positions fermes et courageuses : on pense notamment à sa critique dévastatrice d'un certain « déconstructivisme » anglo-saxon appliqué à Lucain (« Deconstructing Lucan ovvero Le nozze [coi fichi secchi] di Ermete Trismegisto e di Filologia », Maia 51, 1999, 349-387).

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Fiona Hobden, Christopher Tuplin (ed.), Xenophon: Ethical Principles and Historical Enquiry. Mnemosyne supplements. History and archaeology of classical antiquity, 348. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2012. Pp. x, 791. ISBN 9789004224377. $307.00.

Reviewed by Alex Alderman, Missouri Valley College (

Version at BMCR home site


This volume collects 23 papers presented at a conference of the same name held in 2009 at the University of Liverpool, and it represents the latest attempt by scholars to resuscitate Xenophon's image as a serious classical author. Xenophon wrote in a wide variety of genres—Socratic dialogue, continuous history, idealized biography, technical treatises—but while the breadth of Xenophon's writing inspired its share of imitators (Arrian, Dio Chrysostom), it also gave rise to the charge that Xenophon was a jack of all trades, a master of none. This collection aims to make a virtue of Xenophon's breadth by drawing out the views on ethics and political action that inform Xenophon's various depictions of historical figures and events, and to apply this more broadly informed perspective back to scholarly issues in philology and history. Fewer than half of the papers from the conference were included in this collection, and the ones that were chosen fill evident gaps in scholarship. Unfortunately, I do not have space to treat all of them at length.

The introduction gives a quick summary of the contributions before getting to the elephant in the room: the issue of irony and esotericism in Xenophon's writings. At one end of the debate is Leo Strauss, whose ironizing interpretation has helped shift perceptions of Xenophon from an Athenian Bertie Wooster to something between Jane Austen and Machiavelli.1 At the other end is Vivienne Gray, who has developed a complex account of Xenophon's rhetorical methods that eschews any suggestion of hidden meanings or deliberate falsehood.2 Gray does not contribute to the volume, and none of the authors is an ipse dixit Straussian, but references to both abound throughout. The editors try to offer a via media and suggest that interpreting a text either through external knowledge of contravening details or with attention to the author's awareness of rhetorical exigencies is not necessarily ironic but "just a matter of active and informed readership" (36).

Yet, the contributors vary in the degree to which they admit such active readership. David M. Johnson rejects Strauss's claims about the secret teachings of Xenophon's Socrates, but he must defend his own interpretation from charges of similar ironism. Johnson's paper is most helpful in its citation and translation of Strauss's private papers, which are much more prolix than Strauss's later writings and help both to explain his views on esotericism and open them up to criticism. Johnson then lays out an item by item critique of Strauss's analysis of the conversation between Socrates and Hippias in Memorabilia IV.4, faulting Strauss for making a hash of Athenian religious views and imputing to Socrates an ironism that serves no rhetorical purpose. Ultimately, Johnson rejects the "literary charity" (156) that leads Strauss to disparage the logical validity of Socrates' arguments while crediting Xenophon with a greater rhetorical purpose; instead, Johnson adopts a "logical charity" (156) that fills gaps in argument with plausible —but unattested—philosophical principles.

In defending his own form of ironic reading, Johnson disparages those readers who let gaps in sense stand in the text, an approach advocated elsewhere by Louis-André Dorion.3 Dorion's contribution to the volume shows characteristic restraint in its analysis of Xenophon's view of sophia, which Dorion shows to be an ambivalent good that can bring harm to others and even to oneself. Dorion contrasts this view with Plato's, which makes sophia the foundation of virtue and principle of its unity, and argues that the comparably central virtue for Xenophon is enkrateia, or sophrosyne conceived of as enkrateia. This analysis is sound for Dorion's methodology; while there is some room to argue for an intellectual component in Xenophon's concept of sophrosyne, it requires filling in gaps with the kind of philosophical speculation Dorion considers unwarranted.

Gabriel Danzig also treats problems of irony, deception, and literary tone, but in the context of Xenophon's portrait of Cyrus the Great. Danzig resists the recent trend toward dark readings of the Cyropaedia and argues that there is no conflict between Xenophon's depictions of Cyrus as both a benevolent ruler and a self-interested political operator. Focusing on Cyrus's acquisition of his uncle Cyaxares' troops, Danzig argues that Cyrus is both justified in deceiving his uncle for their mutual benefit and hesitant in his use of deception or force as political tools. For Danzig, Cyrus' willingness to treat Cyaxares kindly after he has exhausted his political usefulness proves the sincerity of his benevolence—any thoughts to the contrary are just phthonos.

John Henderson gives a tonally rich analysis of a more playful episode from the Cyropaedia, the scene of Pheraulas being struck in the face by a clod of dirt in book 8. He describes the episode as a narratological device commenting on the Cyropaedia as a whole. Henderson's style is itself serio-comic and self-effacing, full of lengthy translations in a beatnik vernacular and theory-laden jeux d' esprit. He seems to suggest that Pheraulas's elevation in stature and his disdain for it epitomize everything admirable, regrettable, and plainly fantastical in Cyrus's rise to power.

Issues of authorial sincerity play less of a role in other areas of the collection, which lacks organized sections but groups some contributions by common methodology, literary subject, or historical focus. Three papers on the reception of Xenophon in the ancient and modern world help to set stage for a new appreciation. Philip Stadter traces the extent of Plutarch's appropriation of Xenophon; the results show the relation between the rhetorician's approach to gathering exempla and Plutarch's biographical method, and Stadter suggests that Xenophon also serves as a model for Plutarch in the breadth of his literary production. Noreen Humble goes back to the Renaissance to find the origins of the early twentieth century interpretation of Xenophon's Spartan Constitution; Humble finds a number of divergent readings, and shows that Xenophon's work had broad influence on perceptions of Spartan virtue, especially in early Calvinist moralizing. Tim Rood gives an account of several English writers' fascination with the land Xenophon dedicated to Artemis in Scillus, and he raises questions about how the image of Xenophon as a country squire has influenced scholarly debates over Xenophon's tone, compositional history, and biography.

Two essays on Xenophon's defense of Socrates diverge in their assessment of the factors that led to Socrates' execution. The late Michael Stokes reconstructs the relative chronology of three defenses of Socrates. Taking at face value Isocrates' suggestion that Polycrates invented the relationship between Socrates and Alcibiades, Stokes places the Apology of Plato and the one by Xenophon before Polycrates' lost Accusation, and the Memorabilia after it. Speculating on the historical trial, Stokes argues that religious suspicions were more to blame for Socrates' execution than political ones. Robin Waterfield's paper, on the other hand, disregards the remark from Isocrates' Busiris and, developing Xenophon's suggestion at the beginning of his Apology, makes Socrates' disastrous political associations into a possible justification for his voluntary choice to be put to death.

The relationship between Xenophon's personal allegiances and his historical method dominates the discussion in essays on his historical works. Dustin Gish tries to rescue Xenophon from charges of anti-democratic bias in his version of the trial after the battle of Arginusae; Gish notes a number of faults in the process but argues that that they reflect circumstantial deficits in leadership rather than flaws inherent in a democratic constitution. Guido Schepens examines the divergence between depictions of the causes of the Corinthian War in Xenophon's Hellenica and the Oxyrhynchus historian; Schepens concludes that Xenophon puts forward the version of history favorable to the Spartans but preserves his own reputation for objectivity through artful introduction of the account and fair depiction of other views elsewhere. Shane Brennan puzzles through geographic and meteorological data to test the accuracy of Xenophon's account of the march of the Ten Thousand; ultimately, he concedes a certain amount of inaccuracy but discounts the possibility of a long lacuna due to adverse weather conditions. Sarah Brown Ferrario explores the use of conventional narratives in Xenophon's construction of the actions of Agesilaus, Alcibiades, Lysander, and even Xenophon himself, and shows how Xenophon depicts those figures as consciously engaged in the creation of those narratives. Ellen Millender presents a thematically unified reading of the Anabasis centered on a critique of Clearchus's relations with Greeks and foreigners; Millender takes the depiction of Clearchus as a touch-stone for Sparta's problematic alliances with foreign powers and exploitation of minor poleis.

Two papers analyze form and rhetorical purpose in Xenophon's encomiastic works. Rosie Harman situates the Agesilaus as a problematic contribution to the discourse of Panhellenism; pointing out the encomium's emphasis on spectacles of Hellenic virtue in the midst of attacks on fellow Greeks, Harman argues that the work deftly challenges its readers' conception of Greekness. Louis L'Allier explains the attack on sophistry at the end of Xenophon's Cynegeticus as a preemptive defense in light of the sophistic style of that work's composition, especially in its encomiastic preamble.

Three essays treat aspects of the relation between personal virtue and political success. Melina Tamiolaki compares the limited virtues of political leaders in Xenophon's works with the lack of political involvement by the virtuous Socrates; she concludes that Xenophon's imperfect portraits of various leaders' virtues stem not from political cynicism but from a pragmatic interest in the evaluation and achievement of virtue in the face of immoral expediencies. Lisa Irene Hau, conversely, offers an assessment of the problems that success creates for maintaining virtue; giving a systematic account of Xenophon's use of words from the phron- root, Hau shows that Xenophon consistently gives pride-related words a negative connotation and presents pride in success as leading to personal harm. Pierre Pontier uses the story of a refused kiss in the Agesilaus as an example of the difficulties of maintaining and expressing moral propriety across cultural boundaries.

Four essays at the end of the collection address issues of social history and economics. Emily Baragwanath frames her analysis of the surprising roles that slaves play in Xenophon's works through the thaumata of the floor show in Xenophon's Symposium; the abilities of the Syracusan showman's slaves to defy expectations by displaying virtue and humanity represent something wondrous both to the party-goers and to Xenophon's readers, and Baragwanath extends that sense of showmanship to Xenophon's depiction of slave behavior in the Oeconomicus and Cyropaedia; ultimately, though, Baragwanath takes the slave-based economic proposals of the Poroi as proof that Xenophon is less a social pioneer and more a self-placating apologist for the status quo. Thomas Figueira extends the discussion of the Poroi by defending the work's contribution to elementary economic theory from Moses Finley's minimizing critique; Figueira is careful not to minimize Finley himself, and he credits Xenophon not with a concept of economy but a fundamental understanding of elements of decision-making. Stefan Schorn, on the other hand, does not deny the presence of economic ideas in the work but argues that they are subordinate to a moral theory of civic restraint that Xenophon advocates through a proposal for achieving Athenian hegemony by peaceful means. Finally, Joseph Jansen analyses the class distinctions that Xenophon proposes to reduce in the Poroi, and he attributes Xenophon's progressive political attitudes to his personal experiences as an exile and the practical development of his utopian vision in the Cyropaedia.

There are a few errors: "…he also been adjudged…" (21), an incorrect accent on ἡδίων (56), and some inconsistent capitalization "xenophontic" (693)/ "Xenophontic" (698).


1.   Beginning with Leo Strauss (1939), "The spirit of Sparta; or, a taste of Xenophon", Social Research 6: 502- 536.
2.   Most recently in Vivienne Gray (2011), Xenophon's Mirror of Princes (Oxford).
3.   Dorion "L'exégèse straussienne de Xénophon: le cas paradigmatique de Mémorables IV 4" (originally 2001), English translation in Vivienne Gray (2010), Xenophon, pp. 283-323 (Oxford).

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Daniel L. Selden, Hieroglyphic Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Literature of the Middle Kingdom. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 2013. Pp. xxiv, 400. ISBN 9780520275461. $39.95.

Reviewed by Nikolaos Lazaridis, California State University, Sacramento (

Version at BMCR home site

(This book was withdrawn by the press after this review was published.)

Daniel Selden, Professor of Literature at UC Santa Cruz, has produced a new and thorough introduction to Middle Egyptian, the version of Egyptian hieroglyphic language that was popular from Dynasty 9 of the First Intermediate Period (ca. 2135 BC) until Dynasty 18 of the New Kingdom (ca. 1300 BC).1 This introductory book is mainly intended to serve as a textbook for both a traditional university course, such as the one that is being offered by the author at Santa Cruz, and for self-study (p. xvii).

The book is divided into three parts, titled "Grammar", "Reading", and "Further Resources". Part One, which consists of a detailed presentation of most of the Middle Egyptian grammatical rules, is preceded by a short preface, a map of Ancient Egypt, a list of the periods of Egyptian History, and a list of abbreviations.

Part One consists of 18 lessons, which are introduced by a long section (pp. 3-34) that situates Middle Egyptian in the context of the Afroasiatic family of languages and of linguistic developments in Pharaonic and post-Pharaonic Egypt. In this section the author also discusses a number of general features of Egyptian hieroglyphs, such as the scripts' use and arrangement of signs, in addition to modern conventions pertaining to the reading and interpretation of the hieroglyphic script.

Part One's 18 lessons constitute the largest portion of this book (pp. 35-256). They all follow a well-structured format that smoothly guides the student's exploration of Egyptian grammar. Each lesson consists of: (a) two or more sections discussing grammatical rules; (b) a list with transliteration and English translation of vocabulary that appears in the lessons' examples and exercises, and which is almost always thematically organized; (c) exercises with short Egyptian phrases or complete sentences that need to be transliterated and translated, as well as simple English phrases or complete sentences that need to be translated into Middle Egyptian, written both in hieroglyphs and transliteration; and (d) a list of further readings that are relevant to the vocabulary's theme. This format follows the successful formula of most of the other Middle Egyptian textbooks. The thematic organization of each lesson's vocabulary is a useful pedagogical tool, since it helps the student understand and memorize more easily the Egyptian words. However, since each lesson's further readings touch upon a specific aspect of Egyptian culture, it would have been useful to include a short general discussion of that aspect, as is done in J. Allen's Middle Egyptian (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

The grammatical rules presented in these 18 lessons are explained in most cases clearly, with minimal use of difficult jargon.2 Most often the author uses the traditional Egyptological terminology, but in some cases he opts for terms that are more widely used in linguistics (for instance, the term "radical" that partially replaces the more traditional but less effective term "consonant" on pp. 108-9). The most innovative feature of this book is the author's occasional comparison of Middle Egyptian to other ancient and modern languages; see, for example, some interesting comparisons to Ancient Greek on p. 46 or to Hebrew on p. 71.3

Another equally important innovative trait of this book is the fact that it combines lessons on grammar and vocabulary with a full reading of a Middle Kingdom literary work, the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor.4 The hieroglyphic text of this work is presented in Part Two (pp. 262-96). There the author has separated the text's sentences, numbered its lines, and provided a very useful, almost line-by-line grammatical commentary, all features that will certainly be of great help to the student who is expected to transliterate and translate the hieroglyphic text. This complete work of Egyptian literature constitutes a remarkable opportunity for the student reader to be fully exposed to the workings of Egyptian language, as the transcribed narrative illustrates best how an Egyptian author could make meaningful use of most of the grammatical rules presented in the 18 lessons.

A minor drawback of this original combination of lessons on grammar with the reading of an ancient literary work is the fact that several Middle Egyptian grammatical rules are not included in the 18 lessons but instead are treated separately in the section "Supplementary Grammar" of Part Three (pp. 299-310). Some of these rules, like those pertaining to Egyptian particles, are rather important, and one may wonder whether pedagogically the fact that they are briefly presented, without any relevant exercises and only in an appendix, will discourage the student from paying enough attention to them.

Part Three also includes useful tables of biconsonantal and triconsonantal signs, a somewhat unusual list of basic prepositions, a table of verbal forms, a glossary from Egyptian to English and vice versa, an annotated sign list, and finally an index to the sign list following the traditional format of A. Gardiner's Egyptian Grammar (3rd edition. London: Oxford University Press, 1957). Part Three ends with a general index (pp. 388-400).

Overall, Daniel Selden's new introduction to Middle Egyptian is a detailed, clear presentation of Middle Kingdom hieroglyphs' grammatical rules and writing conventions that can serve as an excellent textbook for a university course, as well as an effective language course for self-study. Its main contributions to the genre of Egyptological grammar books are its original insights into Egyptian grammar through the lens of comparative linguistics; and its innovative text-integrative methodology, which gives the student the opportunity to examine the use of grammar in one of the most famous works of Egyptian literature.


1.   The book's title may be misleading, since the author does not actually discuss the general features of Middle Kingdom literature.
2.   A few terms are left undefined and thus potentially confusing for the student (for example, the linguistic terms "bound morpheme" on p. 37 and "tropological" on p. 78).
3.   Such references to multiple languages may intimidate many, and in some cases the methodology of comparative linguistics is overused. Thus, for instance, the excursus on the multiple ways of reading Hebrew texts on pp. 174-5 seems somewhat out of place.
4.   It is unfortunate that the text of the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor is not better integrated into the examples and exercises that are included in the 18 lessons – as is done, for instance, on p. 175. For a good example of full grammar-text integration, see J. Johnson, Thus wrote 'Onchesheshonqi. 3rd edition. SAOC 45. Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 2000.

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Charikleia Armoni, Studien zur Verwaltung des Ptolemäischen Ägypten: Das Amt des Basilikos Grammateus. Abhandlungen der Nordrhein-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste. Sonderreihe Papyrologica Coloniensia, 36. Paderborn: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 2012. Pp. xxiv, 304. ISBN 9783506775801. €59.90 (pb).

Reviewed by Sven Tost, Universität Wien (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Gemeinsam mit der Strategie als der leitenden Instanz bildete die mit fiskalischen Belangen befasste Behörde des Königlichen Schreibers (basilikos grammateus) die Spitze des lokalen Verwaltungsapparats im griechisch-römischen Ägypten. Beide Ämter haben ohne nennenswerte Änderungen über einen außergewöhnlich langen Zeitraum vom Beginn der ptolemäischen Herrschaft bis in die römische Kaiserzeit hinein bestanden. Trotz dieses Umstands und einer umfangreichen urkundlichen Dokumentation ist mit dem hier zu besprechenden Buch von Charikleia Armoni der erst dritte Versuch unternommen worden, das Amt des basilikos grammateus für die ptolemäische Zeit monographisch aufzuarbeiten. Ihm waren lediglich eine die ptolemäische und römische Zeit abdeckende Behandlung dieses Funktionärs durch Erhard Biedermann 1913 sowie die sich auf Einzelbeobachtungen konzentrierende Bestandsaufnahme The Ptolemaic Basilikos Grammateus in BASP Suppl. 8 durch John F. Oates 1995 vorangegangen. Mit letzterer hatte sich wenig später Thomas Kruse im Zuge dessen eigener Annäherung an die Nachfolgebehörde im kaiserzeitlichen Ägypten in Tyche 12 kritisch auseinandersetzt. Kruses Einwände sowie dessen 2002 veröffentlichte und längst als Referenzwerk geltende Monographie Der Königliche Schreiber und die Gauverwaltung dienten der vorliegenden Studie als Vorbild und unmittelbarer Anknüpfungspunkt. Eine weitere wichtige Vorarbeit hatte Armoni mit ihrem eigenen, 2006 als P.Heid. IX erschienenen Editionsband Papyri aus dem Archiv des Königlichen Schreibers Dionysios sich bereits als eine kundige Expertin auf diesem Gebiet ausgewiesen hat.

Das Hauptziel der vorliegenden Studie besteht in einer Verortung des ptolemäischen basilikos grammateus in dessen verwaltungshierarchischer Stellung „unter Abgrenzung seines Funktionsbereichs von demjenigen anderer Gauämter, deren Aufgabenbereich es auch zu definieren gilt" (S. 3). Die Arbeit steht unverkennbar in der Tradition papyrologischer Spezialuntersuchungen, die einen verwaltungs- und institutionengeschichtlichen Ansatz verfolgen, der auf keinen Geringeren als Ulrich Wilcken zurückgeht. Dass Armoni ihre Untersuchung nicht, wie bei Kruse vorexerziert, auf den gesamten Verwaltungsapparat auf Gauebene ausdehnt, ist, wie sie selbst einleitend erläutert, zwei Umständen geschuldet: zum einen der hinlänglich bekannten disparaten geographischen und zeitlichen Streuung des Urkundenmaterials, die im Fall der – gegenüber späteren Jahrhunderten – geringeren Anzahl an Zeugnissen noch stärker ins Gewicht fällt; zum anderen der besonderen Struktur der lokalen Verwaltungsverhältnisse, die sich in einer Überschneidung und Parallelität mehrerer Verwaltungsinstanzen äußert und aus der Einrichtung neuer Ämter sowie Änderungen in der Kompetenzverteilung resultiert (S. 4–5). Dessen ungeachtet versteht sich Armonis Darstellung auch als ein Versuch, den in der Fachliteratur mehrfach geäußerten Verdacht einer Ineffizienz der ptolemäischen Administration, die in einer stark anlassbezogenen Verwaltungspraxis und nur unscharfen Abgrenzung von Kompetenzbereichen gegründet habe, einer kritischen Überprüfung zu unterziehen (S. 6–8). Damit geht die Studie über den Anspruch einer rein deskriptiven Verwaltungs- und Institutionengeschichte hinaus und knüpft an eine der Leitfragen der aktuellen Imperiumsdebatte an, nämlich nach der Systemimmanenz und -relevanz bürokratisch und rational geprägter Strukturen in vormodernen Gesellschaften. Es ist zu bedauern, dass auf diesen Aspekt in weiterer Folge nicht näher eingegangen wird, sondern es dem Leser überlassen bleibt, allfällige Bezüge aus dem Kontext der untersuchten Amtshandlungen oder administrativen Abläufe selbst herzustellen.

Der Darstellungsteil, dem das Literatur- und Abkürzungsverzeichnis (S. XIII–XXV) und eine Einleitung zur Forschungsgeschichte, Zielsetzung und Methodik (S. 1–8) vorangestellt sind, gliedert sich in fünf eigenständige Kapitel, die das Amt (S. 9–32) und dessen Aufgabenbereichen (S. 33–242) beleuchten. Die Kapitel sind in mehrere Abschnitte unterteilt, die neben einer Klärung inhaltlicher Fragen auch die Interpretation und ausführliche Kommentierung ausgewählter Urkundenbeispiele zum Gegenstand haben.

Das erste Kapitel setzt sich mit dem Amt des Königlichen Schreibers, dem Gau als dessen Verwaltungssprengel (S. 9–20), der sozioökonomische Stellung der Amtsinhaber und deren Zugriff auf subalternes Personal auseinander. Die vermutlich zentral über den dioiketes erfolgte Besetzung des spätestens seit Ptolemaios II. Philadelphos fest etablierten Amts dürfte – wie auch in anderen Fällen einer Vergabe öffentlicher Funktionen – mit der Verpflichtung zur Übernahme einer Bewirtschaftung von Grund und Boden minderer Qualität verbunden gewesen sein, mit der die Melioration von Anbauflächen bezweckt wurde (S. 20–21). Die Tatsache, dass die neu bestellten Amtsträger mit ihrem eigenen Vermögen oder durch Stellung von Bürgen hafteten, steht nicht im Widerspruch zu ihrem Anspruch auf ein monatliches Entgelt, das als persönliches Salär, aber auch zur Deckung der aus der Amtstätigkeit erwachsenden Sach- und Personalkosten diente (S. 21–23). Der onomastische Befund legt nahe, dass die Träger dieses Amts vorwiegend dem Milieu der einheimischen Ägypter entstammten. Wenngleich es keineswegs ausgeschlossen werden kann, dass auch Angehörige hellenisierter oder hellenisch-makedonischer Familien mit der Übernahme des Amtes einen ägyptischen Namen angenommen haben, so gilt es in Hinblick auf das seit dem 2. Jh. zu beobachtende Auftreten von Funktionsträgern mit griechischen bzw. gräzisierten Namen doch als wahrscheinlicher, dass sich hierin sowohl ein Anpassungsmuster seitens der einheimischen lokalen Eliten als auch eine Aufwertung des Amts widerspiegeln (S. 23–24). Für letztere Vermutung scheint nicht nur die etwa gleichzeitig einsetzende Ausweitung der amtlichen Kompetenzen zu sprechen (S. 30); sie gewinnt auch dadurch an Gewicht, dass einige der Amtsträger im 1. Jh. zu Gaustrategen aufstiegen und dieses Amt in kumulierender Weise mit jenem des epi ton prosodon wahrgenommen haben (S. 25–26). Subalternes Personal wurde in der Regel für Kanzleidienste, die sich aus der Notwendigkeit einer fiskalischen Erfassung von Landbesitz ergaben, oder als Kontrollorgane im Zuge staatlicher Transaktionen in lokalen Getreidespeichern und königlichen Kassen eingesetzt. Um die Mitte des 2. Jh. v. Chr. dürften dem basilikos grammateus im Zuge der Übertragung zusätzlicher Befugnisse auch die an der Seite der Steuerpächter auftretenden antigrapheis unterstellt worden sein (S. 26–32).

Zu den Aufgabenbereichen des Königlichen Schreibers zählte unter anderem die Kontrolle regulärer, üblicherweise zentral festgelegter staatlicher Auszahlungen (S. 33–105), welche die Bereitstellung bestimmter Mengen an Steuergetreide in den lokalen Getreidespeicher und den Transport dieser Mengen nach Alexandria betraf. Die bis zur Mitte des 2. Jh. vom oikonomos gegenüber dem Gausitologen verfügte Ausgabe des Getreides wurde vom basilikos grammateus in dessen Eigenschaft als einer prüfenden Instanz mittels Subskription mitangewiesen. Die Anordnung wurde an die lokalen Speicherbeamten weitergeleitet, welche die Verladung in Gegenwart von Kontrollbeamten des oikonomos und des basilikos grammateus zu veranlassen hatten (S. 36–48). In späterer Zeit erfolgte die Ladeverfügung durch den epi ton prosodon anstelle des oikonomos, dessen frühere Aufsichtsfunktion nun gänzlich dem basilikos grammateus übertragen wurde. Dieser bediente sich fortan auch einer eigenständigen Urkundenpraxis, indem er seine antigrapheis in separaten Schriftstücken anwies, die Verfrachtung des Steuergetreides sowie die Entlohnung der mit dem Transport beauftragten privaten Unternehmer zu überwachen (S. 48–60). In ähnlicher Weise waren der Königliche Schreiber und dessen Subalterne als Kontrollinstanz auch bei der Entlohnung von Staats- und Tempelbediensteten (S. 60–70), Zahlungen an Militärangehörige (S. 70–84) sowie der Vergabe von Saatgutdarlehen und -zuwendungen an bestimmte Bevölkerungsgruppen (S. 84–102) aus Mitteln und Beständen der königlichen Banken und Magazine beteiligt. Armoni gelingt mit Bezug auf die spätptolemäische Evidenz der überzeugende Nachweis, dass der Gaustratege entgegen landläufiger Meinung nur in Ausnahmefällen in fiskalische Angelegenheiten involviert war – nämlich dann, wenn sein Amt mit dem des epi ton prosodon kumulierte oder die nicht auf zentrale Vorgaben, sondern einzig auf Entscheidungen der lokalen Gauverwaltung zurückgehende staatliche Vergabe von Saatgut zu verantworten hatte (S. 101–102).

Das dritte Kapitel bezieht sich auf die Einbindung des basilikos grammateus bei der Vergabe königlichen Eigentums durch öffentliche Versteigerungsverfahren (S. 106–171), die der Veräußerung königlicher oder als Hypothek konfiszierter Immobilien (S. 119–131), der Vergabe von Steuer- und Monopolpachten (S. 131–147) oder Priesterstellen und damit verbundenen Einkünften (S. 147–152) dienten. Armoni stellt der Betrachtung den Versuch einer Rekonstruktion des allgemeinen Verfahrensablaufs solcher staatlicher Auktionen voran, für den sie sich vor allem auf den Textbefund in P.Köln VI 268 und einzelne Passagen in P.Tebt. III.2 871 stützt (S. 107–117). Ihre plausible Schlussfolgerung läuft darauf hinaus, dass das Verfahren in zwei Schritte unterteilt war (S. 117–119): Demnach ging der Versteigerung eine Vorlaufphase voraus, in der die Versteigerungsobjekte durch einen Herold und mittels Aushangs bekanntgegeben wurden. Daraufhin konnten Interessenten, deren Namen – um Absprachen und Verleumdungen zu verhindern – nicht veröffentlicht werden durften, zehn Tage lang Offerten einreichen. Erst im Anschluss daran fand die eigentliche Auktion statt, die von dem bis dahin erzielten Mindestgebot ihren Ausgang nahm . Die Aufgabe der Behörde des Königlichen Schreibers bestand darin, den Status und Wert der versteigerten Objekte und Einkünfte, den ordnungsgemäßen Abschluss der zehntägigen Vorlaufphase und die Berücksichtigung des Meistbietenden bei der Erteilung des Zuschlags zu überprüfen, andernfalls das Verfahren zu annullieren. Abschließend hatte er die Zahlung der Zuschlagssumme mitanzuweisen (S. 152–169).

Mit der Beteiligung an der Erstellung eines von der Verwaltungszentrale in Alexandria als fiskalische Bemessungsgrundlage herangezogenen Registers, in dem die Grundbesitzverhältnisse im Gau in Hinblick auf Besitzer, Größe, Nutzung bzw. Landkategorie und die daraufhin festgelegte Abgabenhöhe einer jeden Parzelle dokumentiert waren, wird im vierten Kapitel der wohl wichtigste Aufgabenbereich des basilikos grammateus angesprochen (S. 172–228). Die Daten wurden einerseits von staatlichen Funktionären im Zuge regelmäßiger, jeweils nach der Nilüberschwemmung und vor der Ernte unternommener Inspektionen und Vermessungen von Grundstücken (S. 172–178), andererseits auf Grundlage von Selbstdeklarationen seitens der Steuerpflichtigen zum Personenstand im Haushalt, zu Immobilienbesitz und Viehbeständen, Erträgen aus Taubenschlägen und Badeanstalten, Garten- und Weinland sowie Monopol- und Steuerpachten Bezug (S. 205–225) erhoben. Obwohl sich Ulrich Wilckens Vermutung hinsichtlich der Existenz eines systematisch geführten Gaukatasters anhand der bisherigen Evidenz nicht bestätigen lässt, so steht doch außer Zweifel, dass der Königliche Schreiber über den aktuellen Status informiert war und sich im Bedarfsfall an die Bezirks- und Dorfschreiber wandte (S. 178–182). Die vom Büro des basilikos grammateus ermittelte Ertragsfähigkeit des Bodens wirkte sich außerdem auf den Verpachtungsmodus aus: Während Nutzungsrechte über ertragreiches Land nur auf kurze Zeit vergeben und dementsprechend auch im Register vermerkt wurden, waren für die in der Regel durch eine öffentliche Versteigerung erfolgte Verpachtung von minderertragreichem Land eine längere Nutzungsdauer und günstigere Konditionen vorgesehen (S. 183–187). Auch bei der Zuweisung und Verwaltung von Katökenland, das in den Akten vom übrigen Landbesitz gesondert geführt wurde, hatte der Königliche Schreiber eine ähnliche Kontrollfunktion wahrgenommen (S. 187–204).

Im abschließend angerissenen Bereich der Rechtspflege (S. 229–242) scheint dem basilikos grammateus hingegen bloß eine äußerst eingeschränkte Befehls- und Koerzitionsgewalt zugekommen zu sein, die sich entgegen der Auffassung in der älteren Forschung über keinerlei richterliche Kompetenzen erstreckte (S. 229–232), sondern ausschließlich in dessen Zuständigkeit für das eigene Ressort begründet lag und primär die Aufsicht und allfällige Unterbindung von Amtshandlungen seiner Untergebenen betraf. Ferner wurde er, soweit er nicht bloß ihm zur Anzeige gebrachte Tatbestände an die zuständigen Vollstreckungsorgane weiterleitete, auch als Auskunftsperson bei der Ahndung von Vergehen, welche in den von ihm mitbetreuten Verwaltungsbereichen angesiedelt waren, zur Klärung der Sachlage angerufen (S. 232–242).

An das Gesamtresümee (S. 243–248) sind zwei tabellarische Übersichten angeschlossen (S. 249-282), in denen alle bislang bezeugten Königlichen Schreiber der ptolemäischen Zeit (insgesamt 160 Personen;) und die ihnen unterstellten Organe (105 Personen;) nach Gauen geordnet und in chronologischer Reihenfolge aufgelistet werden. Die Indizes (S. 283-302) enthalten ein Verzeichnis der Papyri, Inschriften und literarischen Quellen , ein Sach- und auf Angehörige der Ptolemäerdynastie beschränktes Personenregister sowie einen Wortindex griechischer und demotischer Termini. Eine sinnvolle Ergänzung stellt eine abschließende Zusammenstellung der im Band kritisch diskutierten Urkundentexte (S. 303–304) dar, wodurch ein rasches Auffinden der zahlreich im Haupttext und in den Fußnoten verstreut wiedergegebenen Korrekturen, Lesungs- und Interpretationsvorschläge ermöglicht wird.

Mit ihrer Monographie zum Amt des Königlichen Schreibers und seinem administrativen Umfeld hat Charikleia Armoni eine ebenso fundierte wie detailreiche Studie zum Verwaltungswesen im ptolemäischen Ägypten vorgelegt. Die inhaltliche Akzentsetzung, mehr noch aber die Aufbereitung und die Präsentation des Quellenmaterials, welche grundsätzlich auf Übersetzungen der in ihrem griechischen Originalwortlaut wiedergegebenen Urkundentexte oder -auszüge verzichtet, weisen das Buch als primär auf ein papyrologisches Fachpublikum zugeschnittenes Werk aus. Als solches setzt es gemeinsam mit Thomas Kruses Behandlung des gleichnamigen Amts in römischer Zeit jenen Maßstab, an dem alle künftigen Forschungen zu diesem Gegenstand gemessen werden müssen.

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Monday, July 29, 2013


Darel Tai Engen, Honor and Profit: Athenian Trade Policy and the Economy and Society of Greece, 415-307 B.C.E. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010. Pp. x, 400. ISBN 9780472116348. $85.00.

Reviewed by Benjamin Keim, Pomona College (

Version at BMCR home site


In this informative volume Darel Tai Engen encourages us to recognize, first, the complementary roles of honor (τιμή) and profit (κέρδος) as economic motivations, and, second, the socio-economic complexities that these twin motivations imply, both institutionally and individually. Focusing on the surviving corpus of 34 honorary decrees awarded by the Athenians for trade-related activities between 415 and 307 B.C.E., Engen introduces the relevant scholarly and historical contexts (Chapters One through Three), scrutinizes the honorands and their honors (Chapters Four through Eight), and assesses the broader implications that these decrees have for our continuing conversations about the ancient economy (Chapter Nine). The volume concludes with a series of appendices containing the corpus of honorary decrees, with Greek texts followed by the author's translations and commentary.

Drawing inspiration from Xenophon's Poroi and Aristotle's Politics, Engen's introductory chapter (3- 19) emphasizes the necessity of moving beyond Moses Finley's "still widely accepted model of the ancient Greek economy" by recognizing the greater "complexity and dynamism" of that economy, especially within the waning decades of the classical era (5, 6-7). Writing as an ancient historian with a background in economics and an interest in economic sociology, Engen examines his chosen literary and epigraphic texts in order "to illuminate Athenian trade policy and the economy and society of ancient Greece" (13, 17).

Thus the second chapter, "Approaches to the Ancient Greek Economy" (20-36), positions the volume as an unwavering, if not entirely unsympathetic, revision of Finley's model. Engen sets the stage by ably leading us through the initial Bücher-Meyer controversy ("primitivists" versus "modernists"), and then through the later interpretations of Weber, Hasebroek, and Polanyi (whence "substantivists" versus "formalists"). After introducing Finley's model and Morris' typology of its critics (24-27), Engen begins fleshing out his own interdisciplinary approach, which is rooted in "substantivist economic theory" (29) and is enhanced both by the methods of economic sociology more broadly, and by Hargreaves Heap's "economic rationality" more specifically. Such interdisciplinary approaches have become increasingly common in recent years,1 and here they offer an intriguing basis for the author's desired "middle ground" between scholarly factions.

The third chapter, "Historical Context" (37-72), reviews the cultural foundations of ancient Greek society and their evolving manifestations within the Athenian democracy. As Engen reviews these building blocks, such as guest- friend relations and liturgical services, two key themes emerge. The first, more Athenian, theme concerns the tension between Homeric, hierarchical competition for recognition and the more egalitarian "democratization of values and institutions" that continues throughout the classical centuries (40).2 The second, more Hellenic theme concerns the ebb and flow of Athenian standing and authority, from the early years of the Delian League through all of the misfortunes – the final years of the Peloponnesian War, the loss of the Second Athenian League, the arrival of Macedonian hegemony after Chaeronea – that upset Athens' equilibrium and encouraged both hand-wringing and adaptation. Both domestic and interstate concerns significantly impacted the actions considered and taken by the Athenians, and Engen sensibly focuses on the fourth century as a particularly fertile period for further exploration.

In his main "Analysis" section Engen examines the honorary decrees and their implications from several different perspectives, scrutinizing in turn the "What", "Whom" and "How" of Athens' economy of honor. The fourth chapter, "Goods and Services" (75-102), lays out the stated rationales for which the surviving honorary decrees were enacted. Of the 34 extant decrees, 25 record the provision of goods (23 involving grain, 1 or 2 involving fish, and 2 involving timber), while a total of 27 include mention of services. Engen divides these services into five categories: gifts of imported goods (on 5 occasions); securing shipments of goods (3); sales of imported goods at reduced prices (4); simple importations of goods (6); and other, miscellaneous trade-related services (9). Two conclusions should be noted: first, in light of this evidence Engen sides with Finley's view of Athenian trade policy as consumptive, and argues—contra Gernet, Hasebroek, and Burke —that with these decrees the Athenians focused not on generating more revenue, but rather on obtaining goods (76-78). Second, drawing especially on the decrees enacted in honor of the Spartokid dynasty of the Bosporos, Engen argues that "gifts" of grain contributed significantly towards meeting classical Athens' caloric needs (79-84).

If the hallowed Athenian ancestors were distressed by their descendants' need to request such goods and services, their distress would only be deepened, one imagines, by the "motley crew" subsequently recognized by the Athenians for such services (104). The fifth chapter, "Honorands" (103-118), examines the ethnic, legal, and economic statuses of those recognized by these decrees. Engen finds "little reason to believe that Athens honored native citizens for trade-related services", and no particular preference for metics over xenoi (104-7). The presence of more Greeks than non-Greeks should not be attributed, Engen argues, to any greater Hellenic desire for honor, but rather should be seen simply as an indication of the relative numbers of Greeks and non-Greeks involved in trade with Athens. Socio-economically there is far greater diversity than earlier studies have suggested; perhaps "traders" were not as poor, or as outcast, as has often been thought. Here Engen rightly stresses the complementary roles of κέρδος and τιμή as incentives (111), and explores the possibility that because wealthy individuals are more likely to consider forgoing profit for the sake of receiving honor, they may be overrepresented within the corpus of honorary decrees.

The sixth chapter, "Honorary Language" (119-139), focuses on the vocabulary with which honorands were recognized. After acknowledging the foundational work of earlier scholars,3 Engen reviews the frequency, chronology, and meaning of anêr agathos (in 6 decrees), chrêsimos (5), aretê (3), eunoia/eunous (25), and philotimia/philotimeomai (6) within the corpus. This vocabulary follows the usual rules: foreigners received the same plaudits well before Athenian citizens did; traditional (political and military) services were increasingly joined by trading services and other forms of euergesia; and—not coincidentally—the official vocabulary of honor itself became more detailed from the middle of the fourth century (120-1). Engen acknowledges this continuing evolution from the fifth-century onwards, while perhaps underestimating the impact of Athens' losses in the Social War. Again, he stresses the importance not of economic embeddedness itself, which is unavoidable, but rather of the society within which the economy is embedded (136).

The seventh ("Honors", 140-81) and eighth chapters ("Privileges", 182-213) examine the material and non-material incentives granted by the Athenians. This division, although (as he admits) somewhat arbitrary, roughly separates the honor- and profit-incentives that were operative. The honors are divided into seven categories: commendation; grants of proxenia and euergesia; golden crowns; bronze statues; xenia in the prytaneion; seats (thea, not prohedria) in the theatre; inscriptions. Engen is sensitive to the relative value and economies of these honors (e.g., a gold crown could be easily monetized, while a bronze statue could not). 'Privileges' are divided into five categories, ateleia and four others—asylia, enktesis, liability to military service eisphora, and citizenship—that were already enjoyed by citizens. On the negative side of the Athenian equation, Engen worries about the 'cheapening' of awards by their extension to 'disesteemed' groups. More positively, he recognizes that the increasing panoply of honors and privileges available for bestowal increased Athens' flexibility and efficacy in recruiting benefactors.

The ninth and concluding chapter (214-21) reiterates the complexity and dynamism of the Athenian economy, the "variety in the organization of trade", and the "diversity of those who were responsible for it" (217). Rather than trade being left to a relatively disesteemed gaggle of traders, Engen sees a much more diverse range of individuals, motivations, and communities involved. He worries about the "social costs" and the erosion of traditional values that the extension of honors to an ever-wider range of individuals suggests, yet it appears that the fourth-century Athenians felt they had little choice but to adapt.

And when they did adapt, as their dreams of empire faded and the specter of Macedon arose, it was indeed to honor, and honors, that the Athenians turned. Thus the most noteworthy achievement of Engen's clearly-argued volume is that it does take τιμή seriously, establishing honor 'atop the Greek system of values' and then exploring the ramifications of that placement (215). Since one can look through the indices of dozens of recent Greek history volumes and only rarely encounter entries for "honor"—much less extended discussions—this emphasis is refreshing. The next step that might be taken would involve the realization that honor was not simply an elite concern, but rather a matter—albeit in varying ways—of significant concern for all Athenians, in their personal and political lives. More broadly, Engen and other contemporary authors are right in their contention that Finley's model of the ancient economy may be improved. The present volume convinces us of the complexity and dynamism of the ancient economy, while encouraging us to carry on with further research, using the literary and epigraphic texts of the fourth century (and beyond), to deepen our understanding of the individuals and the complex motivations that shaped their experiences. ​


1.   See, for instance, I. Morris and J.G. Manning (2005) "The Economic Sociology of the Ancient Mediterranean", in N.J. Smelser and R. Swedberg (ed.) The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition. (Princeton: PUP) 131-159.
2.   This tension and its ramifications are a central theme of C. Brüggenbrock (2006) Die Ehre in den Zeiten der Demokratie. Das Verhältnis von athenischer Polis und Ehre in klassischer Zeit (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht).
3.   Notably D. Whitehead (1983) "Competitive Outlay and Community Profit: φιλοτιμία in Democratic Athens", in C and M 34: 55-74, D. Whitehead (1993) "Cardinal Virtues: The Language of Public Approbation in Democratic Athens", in C and M 44: 37-75, A.S. Henry (1983) Honours and Privileges in Athenian Decrees (Hildesheim: G. Olms), and C. Veligianni-Terzi (1997) Wertbegriffe in den attischen Ehrendekreten der Klassischen Zeit (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag), reviewed BMCR 1998.01.09

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