Monday, March 17, 2014


Jean-Christophe Couvenhes (ed.), L'hellénisme, d'une rive à l'autre de la Méditerranée. Mélanges offerts à André Laronde. De l'archéologie a l'histoire. Paris: De Boccard, 2012. Pp. 570. ISBN 9782701803340.

Reviewed by R. Malcolm Errington, University of Marburg (

Version at BMCR home site

In October 2010 friends and colleagues of André Laronde organised a conference in his honour in Paris. A few months later he died suddenly, and was therefore not able to see the published results of the conference, which this volume contains. It begins with two personal appreciations of André Laronde and his work by François Lefèvre and Jean-Michel Mouton, followed by a complete bibliography. The remaining contents of the book, as such honorary volumes tend to do, reflect the very wide interests of the honorand and his pupils and friends in Greek archaeology and history. There is, however, a clear and perhaps inevitable dominance of contributions to the history of north Africa and its exploration, especially the Cyrenaica, where Laronde led the French research team at Apollonia. These occupy more than half of the book and provide a certain superficial thematic unity. The mixture of local Cyrenaican archaeology and general Greek history, however, makes it difficult to assess the public to which the book as a whole might be directed. It will doubtless be used primarily to consult individual essays on specific subjects. Apart from dutiful reviewers, it seems improbable that anyone will feel the inclination to read the book from cover to cover.

The articles are grouped into three broad sections. The first, entitled "Archéologies", consists of four contributions concerning the history of archaeological exploration, especially in North Africa. The most substantial piece in this section (by Christophe Chandezon) concerns the archaeologist, scientific organiser and politician Ernest Beulé—best known outside France for his discovery of the "Beulé Gate" on the Athenian acropolis—which offers fascinating insights into the development of the academic scene in France under Napoloeon III. Early modern knowledge of Cyrenaica is explored by Jean-Sylvain Caillou, and Gianpaolo Nadalini offers a modern history of Apollonia with interesting archival photos. Denis Knoepfler and Thierry Chatelain tell the story of Charles-Philippe de Bosset, a man from Neuchâtel who served the British in Greece at the beginning of the 19th century and was foreseen for an expedition to Lepcis Magna which, however, did not take place.

The second section, entitled simply "Cyrénaïque", contains eight essays on the history and archaeology of the Cyrenaica. It begins with a survey of Attic Black Figure ceramic material by Jean-Jacques Maffre found at Apollonia (with a catalogue) and continues with a discussion of the Philosopher of the Palazzo Spada, which François Queyrel, on the basis of the inscription (for which he provides a legible photo), plausibly suggests is Aristippos of Cyrene, not Aristeides. Jean-Christophe Couvenhes discusses three rare bronze coins of Thibron within the context of his adventures in the Cyrenaica, and argues that they come from a late phase, when Thibron was short of cash. Jehan Desanges discusses problems arising from Strabo's account of Cyrenaica and Catherine Dobias-Lalou presents the text of a new but extremely fragmentary hellenistic epigram from Apollonia (with rather inadequate photos of the stones). Sophie Grosjean-Agnès argues that the Telessai of Cyrene are simply a local manifestation of Demeter and Kore, while Khaled El Hadar surveys the necropoleis at Taucheira (Tocra). The longest and perhaps most important piece in this section is a substantial survey by Vincent Michel of the complex archaeological evidence for the development of urban space in the cities of the pentapolis during the process of christianisation.

The third section bears the portfolio title "D'une rive à l'autre de la Méditerranée", from which the book as a whole takes its title. It is basically historical in content, offering a thematically unconnected potpourri of fifteen articles ranging widely over the field of Greek history (including Cyrene of course). Typhaine Haziza interprets Herodotus' apparently straightforward narrative account of the two Cyrenean women, Ladike and Pheretime, as a literary working up of aspects of the relationship between Egypt and Cyrene in the 6th century B.C. Eric Perrin-Saminadayar offers an interesting prosopographical notice on the relations between Ophellas and the Athenian family of Miltiades, the Philaidai. Philippe Rodriguez examines the development of the oath-formula by the kings during the Ptolemaic period as evidenced in the papyri, and shows the assimilation of demotic ideas into the Greek period, which involved the substitution of the kings for the Greek gods. Anne Queyrel Bottineau spends some thirty pages examining the career opportunities of the sons of men condemned for prodosia at Athens, only to conclude that there is no standard model—career chances depended on the usual range of factors: family circumstances, finance, the needs of the city and above all personal ability or inclination. Karine Karila-Cohen examines two Attic families at the turn of the second/first centuries B.C. and explores the possibility of analysing social networks in late Hellenistic Athens. Pierre Sineux draws attention to the strongly pharmacological evidence for healing at the Asklepios temple at Lebena in Crete, in contrast to other Asklepios temples, which seems to attest special medical knowledge, while Alexandru Avram provides a preliminary catalogue of Rhodian amphora stamps found at Istros. Two papers concern Messene: Nadine Deshours argues convincingly (against Themelis) for the traditional date of 91/90 B.C. for the great inscription concerning the Andania mysteries, and Pierre Fröhlich offers a masterly discussion of an honorary inscription from Messene for a deceased citizen. Marija Stankovska-Tzamali examines the role of the Paionians in Balkan history and William Pillot looks at the way the Greeks regarded the Carthaginians at the time of the Punic Wars. Two pieces have Caria as their subject: Damien Aubriet examines honorific titles at Roman Stratonikeia and Fabrice Delrieux discusses an unpublished Roman imperial coin issue from Mylasa. The book ends with a list of Greek names known from central France (the Lingones and the Aedui) collected by Yann le Bohec and a piece on inter-linguistic word-play in Roman North Africa by Michèle Coltelloni-Trannoy. There is no index.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.