Monday, March 31, 2014


Eftychia Stavrianopoulou (ed.), Shifting Social Imaginaries in the Hellenistic Period: Narrations, Practices, and Images. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 363. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013. Pp. xxii, 436. ISBN 9789004257986. $174.00.

Reviewed by Jennifer Finn, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (

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Studies in the complicated nature of ancient intercultural relations—and their effect on self-identification processes—have increased exponentially in the last thirty years. Works by scholars such as Edith Hall,1 and—with special attention to issues of "Hellenization"— the pioneering work of Kuhrt and Sherwin-White,2 are complemented in more recent time by the studies of scholars such as Erich Gruen3 and Ian Moyer.4 Recent trends have sought to situate issues of cultural contact and acculturation within a broader theoretical framework. John Ma's5 work, which is at the forefront of such efforts, expanded Renfrew and Cherry's Peer Polity model6 by shifting the focus from archaeological objects to textual material, and from theorizing change to understanding markers of stability, in order to cast light on modes of interaction in the Hellenistic World. The present volume, the outcome of a conference hosted at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg in November 2011, is a welcome contribution to this dialogue.

In the introduction, Stavrianopoulou presents the overarching goal of the collection of essays "as an effort to understand the multidirectional processes of cultural interaction, to describe their different modes, and to explain their consequences." (19) For this purpose, Stavrianopoulou suggests the use of the idea of a "social imaginary," first introduced by Castoriadis7 in 1987, later revised and further elaborated upon by Taylor8 in 2002. In Taylor's model, social surroundings are "imagined" by the inhabitants of a community and expressed through the use of images, stories, and legends; the formulation of these "imagined" landscapes and perceptions affected the institution of common practices within a society. The connection between imaginary and practice is such that a shift in the former will yield a reinterpretation of the latter. This is an effective theoretical model for discussing intercultural relations in the ancient world, and the application of this line of thinking is utilized admirably and consistently by the authors in this volume, who use the concept of the "social imaginary" to understand the ways in which community identities are changed and reinterpreted based on interactions with each other and with other cultural influences during the Hellenistic period. The inherent difficulties in defining such interactions yield a veritable cache of explanatory terminology throughout the essays, with terms such as "entangled histories," "appropriation," "hybridity," "syncretism," and "interculturality/biculturality" variously deployed. In view of the complex issues associated with this type of loaded terminology, Stavrianopoulou has divided the book into four parts, all of which I will discuss briefly in the following.

The first section of the volume, entitled "Change and Continuity," begins with a chapter from Deniz Kaptan ("Déjà Vu? Visual Culture in Western Asia Minor at the Beginning of Hellenistic Rule"). Kaptan uses the imagery on a select group of seals from Asia Minor to show the ways in which the seals' owners associated themselves with—and positioned themselves within—the larger world of the Achaemenid Empire. The contribution of Heather D. Baker ("The Image of the City in Hellenistic Babylonia") is remarkable for further elaborating on Ian Moyer's identification of "transcultural spaces" in the Ptolemaic world, this time by analyzing the multiple identities of Urukean elites and their development of relationships with different constituencies (both the center of power as well as local communities). Rolf Strootman ("Babylonian, Macedonian, King of the World: The Antiochos Cylinder from Borsippa and Seleukid Imperial Integration") takes the Antiochos cylinder as a basis for questioning hitherto accepted paradigms for describing the Seleucid imperial program, investigating the ways in which the Seleucids sought to achieve imperial cohesion, rather than focusing on their passive acceptance and careful adoption of local ideologies. Gilles Gorre ("A Religious Continuity between the Dynastic and Ptolemaic Periods? Self-Representation and Identity of Egyptian Priests in the Ptolemaic Period (332-30 BCE)") outlines the phases of priestly self- identification in the Ptolemaic period, arguing that by the end of the 2nd century BC, the power of the priests was closely linked to their involvement in military or administrative affairs, initially with Greeks occupying these positions but later also the offspring of Greco-Egyptian unions. Eleni Fassa remains in the religious sphere with her contribution ("Shifting Conception of the Divine: Sarapis as Part of Ptolemaic Egypt's Social Imaginaries"), where she discusses the Greek "translations" of Sarapis as "religious experiments" (135) and the effect that varied political and social conditions had on the Egyptian reception of these creative interpretations.

Part Two, "Modes of Cultural Appropriation," is significantly more reliant on textual evidence, often focusing on translatory practices in more specific semantic contexts. Andrea Jördens' piece, "Aretalogies," studies the evolution of this text type and the inclusion of Egyptian elements from demotic hymns to Isis within Greek epigraphic evidence in a wide geographical span of the Hellenistic world. She argues that the Greeks initially attempted to adapt these Egyptian texts within the boundaries of Greek literature, with a later move closer to primary Egyptian characteristics, which would have reintroduced a sense of authenticity to the original. She identifies the aretalogos as the agent for this change, a definitive mediator between two cultures. Eftychia Stavrianopoulou's own contribution ("Hellenistic World(s) and the Elusive Concept of 'Greekness'") likewise identifies an agent of translatory processes, this time the historiographos, who participated in inventing and "rewriting" the traditions of local communities in Asia Minor. Stavrianopoulou exhibits a strong case and provides a corresponding framework for understanding the creative processes behind the creation of "coherent systems of connections" (196) between Greeks and local communities in Asia Minor, through created mythologies of kinship which served as narrativized legitimation; these processes led to mutual transformations in the representations of the local histories in both Asia Minor and Greece. Sylvia Honigman ("'Jews as the Best of all Greeks': Cultural Competition in the Literary Works of Alexandrian Judaeans of the Hellenistic Period") elucidates the ways in which Alexandrian Jews manipulated texts and ideas regarding philosophical traditions, in order to situate themselves within Greek society through what she describes as a "mimetic project" (223-225). This literary activity followed the influence of older Alexandrian poets (e.g. Callimachus), who had themselves incorporated into their poetry both foreign (i.e. Egyptian) and Greek themes, as an effort to establish a cultural continuum. Christian Marek ("Political Institutions and the Lykian and Karian Language in the Process of Hellenization between the Achaemenids and the Diadochoi") also focuses on textual evidence, analyzing multilingual political documents (a trilingual one from Xanthos and a bilingual one from Kaunos), showing "an unequivocal preference for the local language as the 'state language'" (249) by their failure to reproduce or borrow Greek political terms. Through this analysis, he brilliantly shows the limits of previous approaches to ideas about the ubiquitous nature of "Hellenization." Jessica L. Nitschke ("Interculturality in Image and Cult in the Hellenistic East: Tyrian Melqart Revisited") outlines the ways in which iconography can be used—in conjunction with but also separately from texts—in order to highlight processes of adaptation and syncretism. Tracing the representations of Tyrian Melqart through numismatic evidence, Nitschke shows the varied interpretations of the god throughout the Hellenistic period, stressing changes (and varying use of Greek identifications of the god as a Herakles figure) as a matter of particular Phoenician political motivations. Christoph Michels ("The Spread of Polis Institutions in Hellenistic Cappadocia and the Peer Polity Interaction Model") shows through civic decrees in Hanisa that the polis institution and its corresponding value system had entered even into areas without Greek cities. He problematizes Ma's Peer Polity model, focusing on a more regional approach (as in the original development of the idea by Renfrew and Cherry) in order to prove that Cappadocians had a vested interest in participating in the dominant discourse of Greco-Macedonian culture. This "self-Hellenization" was motivated by the recognition of advantageous practices (in this case, the receipt of honors such as the title of euergetes) for a reinterpreted, local use. Such an argument allows Michels to transpose the initiative for cultural change from a centralized, intentional policy to "a much more plausible discourse between local élite, monarchic centre, and the wider Hellenistic world." (302)

The third section of the volume, "Shifting Worldviews," observes how the passage into a new social imaginary was negotiated and perceived by Greeks and non-Greeks alike; it also deals with the subject of delineating modern scholarly approaches to that ancient reception. Onno M. van Nijf presents the first essay, "Ceremonies, Athletics and the City: Some Remarks on the Social Imaginary of the Greek City of the Hellenistic Period." He investigates the role of civic festivals and public ceremonies as contributors to the creation of social imaginaries in the Hellenistic cities. He argues for a mutual influence wherein the nature of the culture in the Hellenistic city produced "on the one hand, a politicization of the festivals and other public ceremonies, and, on the other, a theatricalization of political life." (334) Andrew Erskine's essay, "The View from the Old World: Contemporary Perspectives on Hellenistic Culture," investigates the ways in which mainland Greeks perceived the new world of the Hellenistic kingdoms. Using textual and inscriptional evidence, he finds that there was no universally common opinion, but rather that perspectives shifted in varying circumstances. The contribution of Rachel Mairs ("The Hellenistic Far East: From the Oikoumene to the Community") is exceptional for adopting a holistic perspective in order to approach the realities of local communities in the Hellenistic World more closely. In this she advocates a two-way dialogue, and seeks to define Bactria as a Hellenistic community in and of itself, rather than as a sum of influences from the Hellenistic oikoumene. Throughout, she problematizes modern definitions of identifying "foreignness" in any particular community in the Hellenistic world.

The final section in the book is a one-essay "Epilogue" by Omar Coloru ("Alexander the Great and Iskander Dhu'l-Qarnayn: Memory, Myth and Representation of a Conqueror from Iran to South East India through the Eyes of Travel Literature"). The essay, which serves as an excellent practical example of the book's thematic, is especially notable for introducing Alexander the Great as a mutually understandable and usable entity for cultural definition in the Hellenistic period, and beyond. Reimagined in Persian and Arabic literary lore, Alexander's presence within the collective memory of the West and the collective imaginary of the East allowed for lasting and meaningful intercultural discourses long after his death.

The volume covers a wide range of aspects of ancient life: religion, local politics, myth creation, literary production, and entertainment. Throughout, there is an acute awareness of methodological problems associated with identifying points of syncretism in the Hellenistic world and the limits of our approaches to understanding Hellenization (see e.g. the contribution of Nitschke). Further, the engagement with supplementary theoretical models, such as White's Middle Ground theory9 (Strootman and Nitschke) and Ma's Peer Polity Model (Michels and van Nijf) enhances the volume's methodological grounding. No imperial paradigm (Seleucid, Ptolemaic etc) is overrepresented, and there is a sincere and effective attempt by all authors, using both textual and material evidence, to view these intercultural relationships through different—but not necessarily dichotomous—levels (for instance, the local vs. the global is highlighted, while there is never an endorsement of a "Greek" vs. "barbarian" ideology). Though the chapter divisions often appear artificially constructed due to the immense amount of theoretical and methodological overlap in the book, this problem is of little consequence; in fact, it is a testament to the coherence of the vision of the Hellenistic world as a space of social imaginaries that pervades every contribution to the work.

The volume contains numerous typographical errors (e.g. "beliefs" for "believes" p. 79 n.41; the citation of Liddell-Scott-Jones, A Greek-English Lexicon as Lidell-Scott Jones pg. xiv, among others) and problematic philological citation (e.g. Sumerograms in italics, undifferentiated from the Akkadian, on pg. 80 n. 44 and p. 82 n. 48 and 49, contrary to standard conventions followed in cuneiform studies). Such issues, however, are difficult to avoid in a volume containing studies of several ancient languages, and do not detract from the overall presentation. Furthermore, the maps provided on pp. xix, xx and 204-205 are cumbersome and difficult to read; one will benefit from supplementary use of maps as guides to the wide-ranging geographical spread of the book.


1.   Edith Hall, Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy (Oxford, 1989).
2.   Amélie Kuhrt and Susan Sherwin-White, From Samarkhand to Sardis: A New Approach to the Seleucid Empire (Berkeley; Los Angeles, 1993).
3.   Erich Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (Princeton; Oxford, 2011).
4.   Ian Moyer, Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism (Cambridge; New York, 2011).
5.   John Ma, "Peer Polity Interaction in the Hellenistic Age," P&P 180 (2003) 9-39.
6.   Colin Renfrew and John F. Cherry (eds). Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-Political Change (Cambridge, 1986).
7.   Cornelius Castoriadis (translated by K. Blamey), The Imaginary Institution of Society (Cambridge, 1987). Originally published as L'institution imaginaire de la société (Paris, 1975).
8.   Charles Taylor, "Modern Social Imaginaries," Public Culture 14.1 (2002), 91-124.
9.   Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge; NewYork, 1991).

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Alan C. Bowen, Simplicius on the Planets and their Motions: In Defense of a Heresy. Philosophia antiqua, 133. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013. Pp. xviii, 329. ISBN 9789004227088. $175.00.

Reviewed by Nathan Sidoli, Waseda University (

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This book presents Bowen's translation and interpretation of a famous, and notoriously difficult, passage of Simplicius' Commentary on Aristotle's On The Heavens ('In de caelo'), namely the digression on the early history of Greek mathematical astronomy, In de caelo 2.12, along with the two forgoing sections, 2.10 and 11, which Bowen includes in order to set 2.12 in its proper context. As well as providing a careful reading of these passages, the book provides us with an argument that Simplicius' treatise must be understood in the context of contemporary philosophical arguments and is not unproblematically useful as evidence for the early history of Greek astronomy.

The work begins with an introduction that situates Simplicius' Commentary as a defense of aspects of Aristotle's thought in the face of arguments advanced by John Philoponus against the divinity and eternity of the heavens, and concludes with a discussion of Simplicius' sources for the history of astronomy and the claim that there is no way to objectively use Simplicius' text as evidence for the early history of Greek astronomy (pp. 3-93). This is followed by the translation (pp. 94-177), which is in turn followed by the commentaries (pp. 181-298). The commentaries – which are variously philological, technical, philosophical, and historiographical – are referred to by footnotes in the translation, and each commentary is in turn referenced back to its footnote. There are also two sections of diagrams to help readers follow the train of thought, although there are no diagrams in the manuscript sources for Simplicius' Commentary (pp. 22-5, 181-97).

The sections of Simplicius' Commentary covered in this book are some of the most frequently studied passages in the treatise. The reason for this has to do with Simplicius' treatment, in In de caelo 2.12, of a research program involving homocentric spheres that was apparently developed by mathematicians such as Eudoxus and Callippus during the 4th century BCE. Starting in the early part of the 20th century, historians of astronomy have attempted to use these passages to (re)construct an episode in the early history of the Greek effort to model astronomical phenomena using homocentric spheres. This type of scholarship involves massaging and correcting the text in various ways, proposing different ways of parsing Simplicius' quotations of his sources, and developing mathematical models that can predict various planetary phenomena. Some of the issues with this approach are that the text allows for multiple readings and that it has never been entirely certain what set of phenomena, or data, the classical mathematicians were attempting to explain.

The core of Bowen's argument is that this way of reading these passages is neither useful, nor historically sound. Instead, he argues that we have to understand Simplicius' treatment of the theory of homocentric spheres as a digression within a broader set of discussions meant to address arguments advanced by Philoponus. Essentially, Philoponus, as a Christian trained in late-ancient Platonic philosophy, had argued that Aristotle must have been wrong about the eternity and divinity of the heavens – and in particular in his claim that the heavens are composed of the special element, aether. Philoponus claimed that Aristotle must have been misguided in his belief that the heavens are made of an element whose nature is such that it always revolves regularly around its own center, because such a position was clearly contradicted by the more recent work of mathematicians, which had culminated in the Almagest of Claudius Ptolemy. These arguments put Simplicius in the awkward position of having to admit that, although Aristotle was wrong about homocentric spheres, there is still a sense in which he was right about the nature of aether – that is, even in Ptolemy's theories, aether can be described as rotating regularly about a center, although this center is often not the center of the body, or sphere, in question. Furthermore, Simplicius claims that Aristotle was right to follow the lead of the mathematicians, since this is all that philosophers can do before there is a sound physical theory on the basis of which mathematicians could derive correct models of the heavenly bodies.1 On these grounds, he makes a case that his contemporaries are right to follow the work of later mathematicians, even where this disagrees with Aristotle – indeed, Simplicius himself accepts Ptolemy's models, while admitting that they in turn may later themselves be found wanting. In all of this, Simplicius presents a rather fanciful reading of Aristotle's On the Heavens in order to preserve this treatise as a vital part of the sacred curriculum of Platonic philosophy, despite its glaring discrepancies with contemporary beliefs about the nature of the heavens.

Although In de caelo 2.12 has been translated into English a number of times, and 2.10 and 11 are both included in Mueller's translation,2 Bowen's new translation is a useful contribution to our understanding of the treatise. For one thing, the text is often rather involved, so it will be valuable to scholars to be able to compare the places where Bowen's reading disagrees with Mueller's. Furthermore, Bowen has checked his reading of the text against the indirect tradition in the form of Latin translations of parts of the commentary made by Grosseteste and Moerbeke, which were, in turn, based on Greek sources that are different from ours. Hence, this translation is also an advance over Bowen's own previous translation of these sections.3 Furthermore, Bowen's detailed commentaries help the reader navigate the sometimes labyrinthine course of Simplicius' thought. Nevertheless, as Bowen himself says, the primary reason for giving a full translation and commentary is that it allows him to separate all the interpretive details of reading this text from the main thrust of his argument, which is that the text must be read in light of late Athenian Platonism (pp. 15-16).

There are a number of longer commentaries, in which Bowen sets out his own views on the history of Greek astronomy and its (re)construction by both ancient and modern scholars, but here I will discuss only one of these, in which Bowen argues that there is no compelling evidence that Greeks of the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE were aware of planetary retrogradation (pp. 230-48). Initially he argues only that it cannot be proven that fourth-century Greeks knew of the detailed phenomenon of retrogradation on the basis of contemporary documents, which is strictly true, but he then later goes on to claim specifically that awareness of stations and retrogradation entered the Greek sphere from Mesopotamia in the late 2nd or early 1st century BCE (p. 298). In order to arrive at this position, Bowen applies the fairly strict historiographical principle that nothing that later authors say about earlier authors can be accepted if it is not also supported by independent documents from the reported period. I call this principle 'strict' because none of the technical sources of early planetary theory survive, so that for contemporary sources we are forced to rely on the writings of philosophers, poets, and others whose statements about planetary phenomena and theories are plagued with a certain vagueness of language, or understanding, or both. From these writings we can only be sure that fourth-century Greeks were aware that (1) the planets meander (pp. 233, 241), that (2) Venus and Mercury are sometimes before, and sometimes behind, the sun (p. 234, 241), and that (3) at least some of these Greeks believed that (2) happens because Venus and Mercury are sometimes overtaken by the sun like runners in a race (p. 237, 243). At stake is the question of what kinds of observations, or data, classical theorists had at their disposal when they thought about modeling the motions of the planets. It seems to me that there is a range of possibilities. At one extreme is the possibility that classical Greeks were making and preserving continuous runs of carefully dated and systematically recorded observations, and hence knew rather precisely the phenomena of planetary stations and retrogradations. Although in the past views more or less equivalent to this position have been held, it is now seen as unlikely to most historians. Bowen's position, that the fourth-century Greeks were completely unaware of retrogradation, however, seems to me another extreme. Once it was realized that Venus is sometimes before, and sometimes behind, the sun in its path through the stars, it would take only a small number of crude observations to realize that it must be at least stopping, if not, indeed, retrograding, with respect to the fixed stars. Since consideration of the well-attested parapegmata would make it clear that the sun is moving through the fixed stars at a fairly regular pace, one would only have to notice the regular, and significant, difference in intervals from evening appearances to morning appearances, as opposed to from morning appearances to evening appearances, and put this together with a very rough measure of elongation, to realize that, in reference to the star calendar of the paragemata, it is natural to think of Venus as moving, for a short while, in the opposite direction from the sun when it goes from eastern appearance to western appearance, and as continuously in the same direction as the sun when it goes from western appearance to eastern appearance.4 In order to hold that this phenomenon was completely unknown, we would have to believe that fourth-century Greeks were almost completely unconcerned with planetary phenomena. It seems to me that there are many possibilities between these two extremes, many of which involve considering that the early Greek theorists were aware of retrogradations at least as general phenomena, if perhaps not as a precisely recorded behavior. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what could have been the point of producing mathematical models at all if the only thing that they were meant to show was that the planets meandered. Nevertheless, Bowen's point that the sources are unclear about precisely what phenomena the early theorists were trying to model is well taken, even if his insinuation that those who believe the early Greeks knew about retrogradation are inebriated may be taking the point too far (pp. 231, 247).

An important lesson from this book is Bowen's emphasis of the extent to which Simplicius' account of early Greek astronomy has shaped what we think we know about the history of Greek astronomy. Whether or not a reader agrees with all of Bowen's arguments, his general point that Simplicius was almost certainly rereading his own understanding of planetary theory into previous thinkers, who themselves may have had very different sets of concerns, is certainly sound. Simplicius himself was centuries removed from the theorists whose work he discusses, and his sources treated the history of the mathematical sciences using methods that are not well known to us, but which may well have involved speculative (re)construction. Hence, we cannot read Simplicius' historical account as a straightforward attempt to relate the historical facts and conditions of the fourth-century theorists. Whatever historical information Simplicius may be including, or obscuring, in his account, his primary purpose was to address issues in a contemporary philosophical debate about the nature of the heavens, not present a detailed historical understanding of homocentric modeling.

This book is a careful study of Simplicius' In de caelo 2.10-12 in the context of challenges to late-ancient Platonism raised by John Philoponus. It will be valuable to scholars interested in the efforts of the Athenian Platonists to create a synthesis of the thought of Plato, Aristotle and Ptolemy, in the history of ancient Greek astronomy and its sources, and in the historiography of early science.


1.   It should be noted that by a physical theory that could serve as the basis of a correct mathematical model of the heavens, Simplicius meant a physical theory in the ancient sense – that is, one involving an articulation of the essential nature of the objects involved – not a mathematization of the motions of bodies and forces – as was developed in the early modern period, when astronomy was finally set on a physical foundation.
2.   I. Mueller, Simplicius, On Aristotle's On The Heavens 2.10-14 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005).
3.   A. Bowen, 'Simplicius' Commentary on Aristotle's De caelo 2.10-12: An Annotated Translation', SCIAMVS 4 (2003), 23-58 and 9 (2008), 25-132.
4.   For a treatment of parapegmata, see D. Lehoux, Astronomy, Weather, and Calendars in the Ancient World. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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Guillaume Bonnet, Abrégé de la grammaire de Saint Augustin. Collections des universités de France. Série latine, 405. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2013. Pp. lii, 96. ISBN 9782251014654. €45.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Vincent Hunink, Radboud University Nijmegen (

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A Latin grammar by none other than Saint Augustine? Few readers and scholars will be aware that such a text actually exists. A splendid new critical edition with French translation and notes by Guillaume Bonnet will justly raise new interest in this forgotten testimony of Augustinian erudition.

It requires some space to explain what text we are dealing with. In his Retractationes 1.6, Augustine records a lost early work of his on Latin grammar. The treatise was meant to be part of an ambitious work on disciplinae, which he planned to write in the years before his baptism in Milan (387). The project remained unfinished: just the extant De musica and the book on grammar were actually composed. For centuries, scholars attempted to identify the lost grammar by Augustine. A grammatical work called Regulae, transmitted under Augustine's name, was an obvious candidate, but this had been labeled apocryphal as early as the 17th century. In 1852 however, cardinal Mai published a little known text from a French manuscript as ars sancti Augustini episcopi ad Petrum Mediolanensem, and this was argued to be the lost Augustinian book on grammar.

The new Latin text, however, failed to meet the high expectations of the age. Its subject matter and contents were generally thought to be far below the elevated standards of the church father, and doubts were raised on it authenticity and integrity. For many decades, the text was considered a summary or abstract made by Cassiodorus or later, and scholarly attention accordingly grew weaker.

It was only in 1984 that an Augustinian scholar, Vivian Law, seriously readdressed the issue and came to new conclusions (her paper was published in Recherches augustiniennes 19, 1984, 155-183). According to Law there are actually some important ideas and concrete examples in the text that can be taken as clues for Augustinian authorship. The evident shortening to which the text has been subjected at several places can be attributed to a second author working at some later stage, but before the Carolingian age, to which the three extant manuscripts can be dated.

Guillaume Bonnet has now taken up and extended Law's arguments. He has established a new critical text of the treatise, with Augustine's name clearly appearing in the title. The main merit of Bonnet's edition is surely to have brought into the open again an early text largely to be attributed to Augustine.

In his sound introduction, Bonnet discusses the history of the text, and analyses all relevant arguments that seem to point to Augustine. These include some ideas about language, remarkable parallels with clearly authentic writings of Augustine, and, somewhat more intriguing, details and examples that appear to reflect a North African context and readership. For example, in c.14 the author uses infector as one of his paradigmata for the declension of nouns (see also below); this is a rare noun referring to African manufacturers of purple dye. In another, rather more curious instance, he uses an example sentence about creatures 'jumping higher than the trees' (c.96: super arborem saliunt, which may be taken as a reference to apes. Many other exemplary words and phrases evoke an atmosphere of school, rhetoric, community life, and positive Christian values.

To be sure, none of this can count as definite proof, but the cumulative evidence is convincing. A reader familiar with Augustine will also have the general intuition of dealing with a text that is essentially Augustinian.

On the other hand, it is also obvious that the text has been abridged in a number of parts. The sections on nouns and verbs look rather extended and show many detailed considerations and thoughts, which suggests that these are more or less authentic. But other sections, such as the ones on adverbs, participles, conjunctions, and interjections are so short or even deficient that they can hardly be attributed to Augustine himself and must be the result of a subsequent shortening of his texts. As Bonnet argues, unlike some earlier scholars, a 'dialogue form' of the original text by Augustine may also have been stripped in the process. Such a dialogue form would have mainly consisted in formal questions like 'What is the declension of Tullius?', 'How many kinds of attributes can the verb have?' and could fairly easily have been removed for reasons of space. Although this must remain uncertain, Bonnet's arguments to date the revision and shortening of Augustine's text to a period shortly after the early 7th century seem sound.

So here is what we seem to have: a seventh-century, shortened version of an authentic, early text by Augustine (ca. 375), whose hand may be still seen in large sections where no major later editing seems to have taken place.

Bonnet's introduction also contains informative paragraphs on the manuscripts, with a new proposal for a stemma (p.XXXVI), on the medieval and later references to the treatise, and on the printed editions. A list of some 35 textual changes adopted here (p. XLVII), mostly involving relatively unimportant matters, is useful for those working with earlier editions.

The Latin text is faced by a French translation that leaves little to be desired. Wherever necessary, Latin words and phrases are reproduced in Latin with French translation added between square brackets (e.g. "mulier [femme]"). This is a useful and reader-friendly procedure, which makes the French translation accessible to linguists whose grasp of Latin is less than perfect.

As to the interpretation conveyed by the translation, I found hardly any points of debate or shortcomings, with the exception of the very first sentence: Latinitas est obseruatio incorrupte loquendi secundum Romanam linguam, which is rendered as follows: 'Le bon usage est l'observance d'un langage sans défaut conforme à la langue de Rome.' Here, the rather essential first word Latinitas has been given too general a sense: the sentence does not discuss language in general, but the proper use of Latin. It would certainly be better to render as e.g. 'Good Latin is...'

Bonnet's extensive explanatory notes (pp.51-90) are a great help in reading and studying the text. He discusses numerous points of historical linguistics, notably by comparing the treatise in question with other texts by late-Latin grammarians, while also raising various interpretative points. It is a pleasure to study Augustine's approach of the Latin language with Bonnet's notes as a helpful guide. Succinct indices round up the modest volume of some 250 pages (as usual in Budé editions, the number of '96' in the bibliographical descriptions refers to 'the text' and must be doubled to account for both Latin text and French translation).

Given his testimony in Retr. 1,6, Augustine seems to have composed his treatise on grammar as a simple, firm basis on corporalia that would allow subsequent study of incorporalia, that is, as a stepping stone for spiritual studies. Accordingly, spiritual matters are largely absent, with the minor exception of general Christian notions in example phrases like propter salutem (c.94) or examples referring to three bishops (c.7).

It provides interesting reading, however, also to those who look for subject matters which may been seen as more worthy of Augustine than grammar. The church father evidently writes for an audience of local non-native users of Latin, who need some first help and backup for their own writing in that language, be it as schoolmasters or clerks. For example, he leaves unexplained what must have been obvious to these users, such as the main functions of the subjunctive, and he deals at some length with matters that seem rather theoretical or irrelevant to daily practice. Nearly always, he appears to be eager to provide morally sound instruction, selecting positive words such as uirtus, oboedire, and above all, scribere, which is, perhaps not surprisingly, his main paradigm of the Latin verb, fully spelled out in all its forms.

To non-specialist readers interested in Latin grammar, it can be a nice little game to look for minor and major differences between Augustine's outlines of the system and modern grammatical descriptions, as presented in text books. Many patterns, examples, and subdivisions, appear familiar, but there are also notable differences. For example, the division of nouns is not according to declensions, the defining criterion rather being grammatical gender, which comes in six forms: male, female, neuter, male/female, male/neuter, or male/female/neuter (with homo, infector and prudens as the paradigms of the last three categories).

It is the combination of the familiar (or perhaps all too familiar...) with the unexpected which makes interesting reading here.

The treatise is probably not among Augustine's masterpieces, and not even Bonnet's fine edition will have the effect to make it count as such. But if this exceedingly high aim is left aside, the new Budé has the merit of bringing one of Augustine's early experimental works back to where it belongs: in the hands of readers.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014


André Binggeli (ed.), L' hagiographie syriaque. Études syriaques, 9. Paris: Geuthner, 2012. Pp. 304; 16 p. of plates. ISBN 9782705338718. €45.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Edward G. Mathews, Jr., Independent Scholar (

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed below.]
[The reviewer apologizes for the tardiness of this review.]

The series, Études syriaques, published by the Société d'études syriaques has, in the less than ten years of its brief existence, already established itself as one of the most essential reference series in the field of Syriac studies. With its emphasis on thematic studies, resulting from round table discussions between leading scholars in the field, the volumes in this series have a coherence and homogeneity not usually found in such collections. Each of the previous volumes can for all intents and purposes be considered a vade mecum for the particular theme treated in the volume. The present ninth volume, on Syriac hagiography, is no exception. Previous volumes have treated Syriac Inscriptions, Old Testament, Apocrypha, Liturgy, Greek Fathers in Syriac Tradition, Historiography, Monasticism, and Mysticism.

Syriac hagiography is, it must be admitted, still in its very early stages. Scholars have had available a considerable number of texts of saints' lives since the eighteenth century,1 as well as a number of handbooks, among which Peeters, Bibliotheca Hagiographica Orientalis (Brussels, 1910), and Fiey, Saints syriaques (Princeton, 2004) must be considered the foremost. The first, however useful it has been since its publication, is woefully out of date (at least two attempts at updating it have already been abandoned),2 and the second, while much fuller and of great usefulness, does not have the critical scholarly apparatus needed for such a work. But, apart from a few short articles or treatments in more general handbooks, a serious, comprehensive overview of Syriac hagiography has yet to be undertaken. Thus the volume under review here, while not the critical updated catalogue so badly needed, nonetheless fills a very pressing need by laying down the necessary foundation, as well as by setting out the necessary parameters both for future editions and studies of the lives of Syrian saints and martyrs.

This volume consists of eleven articles, seven of which were originally submitted in French (though two by non-native French speakers required amelioration) while the remaining four were translated by the editor and/or colleagues. The focus of these articles is not on the cult of the saints, so popular in contemporary study, but on describing the various forms and styles of the texts that tell us about the lives of these saints; scattered throughout are also glimpses into relationships between certain texts and their historical usefulness. Utilizing methods and categories set out for Byzantine hagiography during the last century, the articles in this volume address certain fundamental questions such as just what sort of texts are actually to be included under the label hagiography. No definitive answer is explicitly supplied but general consensus is that it includes almost any text that contains substantial witness of the saint in question; thus, not only the obvious things such as formal lives (individual or in collections) or substantial notices in historical texts –nearly all of which can be found in either prose or poetry– but in certain liturgical texts, most notably the Synaxaria, as well as calendars, etc., and even in pictorial representations.

The issue gets a bit more complex when one opens up the question of language. Clearly, the preponderant number of texts are in Syriac, but other nearby languages need be consulted as they are either the source for the Syriac text, contain translations whose Syriac originals have been lost, or even preserve independent witnesses. The Life of Ephrem, for example, exists in several versions in Greek, Armenian and Georgian, in addition to its various Syriac recensions. The collections of the Lives of the Syrian Fathers (curiously, never mentioned in this volume) survive only in Georgian. Armenian literature preserves a number of texts that offer significantly different, if not contradictory, data to what the Syriac sources tell us. To collect all the relevant data on these texts is clearly one monumental task; the next step of evaluating the relationships, historical value, etc., of all these data will be even more so.

Muriel Debié opens the volume with a nice overview of the state of hagiographical studies in Syriac, addressing these issues just enumerated along with other pertinent matters. Her article is followed by several more that focus on particular questions that she has introduced in a more general fashion. André Binggeli provides a premier sondage of the various collections of saints' lives as they are found in various manuscript catalogues, examining the various types of collections (monastic, women or of a particular region) by a detailed description of a relevant manuscript of each collection. David Taylor then assesses the important witnesses of the liturgical calendars of the various Syrian confessional groups (East Syrian, West Syrian, Melkite, Maronite, etc.), demonstrating their interdependence and common Greek roots. Sebastian Brock then provides a succinct discussion of those hagiographical texts that survive specifically in verse format sorting them according to their Syriac style, mêmrê or madrašê, as well as form: narrative, homily or panegyric. Many more have survived than just the well-known hymns on Ephrem and on Simon the Stylite composed by Jacob of Sarug. Christelle Jullien re-examines the large and fairly well-known collection of Persian martyrs,3 classifying them and noting that they become more romantic the farther they are from the actual events, yet still retain much accurate geographical and political detail. Valentina Calzolari looks at the important Syrian figures Šalîtâ and Jacob of Nisibis, especially as they were remembered in the fifth century Armenian Epic Histories, once attributed to Faustus of Byzantium, and Marutha of Maipherqat, whose lost Syriac life now survives in Armenian and Greek, and demonstrates their importance for recovering the close relationship between early Syria and Armenia.

Lutz Greisinger then looks at the surviving texts concerning those saints from the foundational and early period of Christian Edessa, particularly Alexis, the man of God, Euphemia, Shmona and Guria, demonstrating the importance of their cults particularly for encouraging the lower classes to assert themselves in public affairs. Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent offers an examination of the surviving texts concerning female saints and martyrs, whose memories have been preserved for posterity. She sketches out a typology of their representation in the surviving texts and how they were intended to be models for subsequent readers. Jack Tannous then assembles and provides a succinct overview of the large collection of materials, hagiographical and liturgical, dealing with the saints and martyrs during the early period of the rise of Islam, specifically those preserved in the West Syrian church traditions. The last two articles in this volume make an important contribution by looking at the non-textual materials, that is those representations still evident on church walls as well as – the relatively rare in Syriac – illuminations found in manuscripts. Rima Smine addresses the surviving artistic traditions of the West Syrian Church and how they represent the apostles, monks, martyrs and the great doctors of the church, while Bas Snelders looks specifically at those to do with Mar Behnam as preserved in the monastery of his name. The twenty-two plates at the end of the volume accompany these last two articles. The volume is concluded with a general bibliography of texts and translations of Syrian saints lives (pp. 287-293) and an index of all the saints referred to in the various articles (pp. 295-302).

While no single volume could ever be considered a complete treatment of any such widely ranging field, the eleven articles contained in this volume indeed provide a very succinct yet broad panorama of Syriac hagiography. While one might suggest that the editors might have commissioned an additional article specifically to address the witness of the eastern Syrian tradition, this should not detract from the importance of this collection of studies. It provides a nice overview for the specialist as well as an abundance of information for the scholar of related fields. It is also to be hoped - at least by this reviewer - that with such a foundation now in place, some young scholar or better, a small team of scholars in the field, will be spurred on to produce the necessary comprehensive catalogue. A solid foundation has now been laid; it is time to build.

Authors and Titles

Muriel Debié, «Marcher dans leurs traces»: les discours de l'hagiographie et de l'histoire 9-48
André Binggeli, Les collections de Vies de saints dans les manuscrits syriaques 49-75
David Taylor, Hagiographie et liturgie syriaque 77-112
Sebastian P. Brock, L'hagiographie versifiée 113-126
Christelle Jullien, Les Actes des martyrs perses: transmettre l'histoire 127-140
Valentina Calzolari, Figures de l'hagiographie syriaque dans la tradition arménienne ancienne (Sałita, Jacques de Nisibe, Maruta de Mayperqaṭ) 141-170
Lutz Greisiger, Saints populaires d'Édesse 171-199
Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent, Images de femmes dans l'hagiographie syriaque 201-224
Jack Tannous, L'hagiographie syro-occidentale à la période islamique 225-245
Rima Smine, L'art au service de l'hagiographie: la représentation des saints dans la tradition syro-occidentale 247-270
Bas Snelders, Art et hagiographie: la construction d'une communauté à Mar Behnam 271-286


1.   The two primary, and still indispensable, collections are S.E. Assemani, ed., Acta Martyrium Orientalium et Occidentalium, 2 vols.; Rome, 1748, and P. Bedjan, ed., Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum, 7 vols.; Leipzig, 1890-1897 [repr., Hildesheim, 1968]. These can be supplemented by more modern editions and/or translations found scattered in various journals and in the two main series for oriental Christian texts: Corpus Scriptorium Christianorum Orientalium published by Peeters in Louvain and Patrologia Orientalis published by Brepols in Turnhout. Gorgias Press in Piscataway, NJ, USA has also begun publishing nice bi-lingual texts of the lives of Persian Martyrs and Syriac saints.
2.   As the title indicates, this volume covers the entire field of oriental Christian hagiography (Armenian, Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, etc.), not just Syriac. In his article in this volume under review, Tannous counts nearly one third of the 1300 entries to do with Syrian saints.
3.   In an appendix, Sebastian P. Brock, The History of the Holy Mar Ma'in (Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation, 1; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2008), pp. 77-125, provides a nice, up-to-date catalogue of these Acts.

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Tino Villanueva, So Spoke Penelope. Cambridge, MA: Grolier Poetry Press, 2013. Pp. 60. ISBN 9781891592027. $17.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Ramiro González Delgado, Universidad de Extremadura (

Version at BMCR home site

[An English translation of the review is presented below.]

So Spoke Penelope es un libro atípico para ser reseñado en BMCR al no tratarse de un ensayo, una edición o traducción de textos clásicos o un estudio científico; estamos, sin embargo, ante una excelente obra de creación literaria que, con toda seguridad, será fuente de análisis y estudios como ejemplo de recepción literaria de la épica griega arcaica, en concreto de la Odisea, en la poesía contemporánea y, especialmente, del personaje de Penélope.

La obra es el sexto libro de poesía de Tino Villanueva (Texas, 1941), profesor del Departamento de Estudios Románicos de la Universidad de Boston y autor de referencia de la literatura chicana. La mayoría de su obra está publicada en español y en inglés. Así, Hay Otra Voz. Poems (1968-1971) (1972), Shaking off the Dark (1984, revisada 1998), Crónica de mis peores años (1987) / Chronicle of my Worst Years (1994), Scene from the movie GIANT (1993)1 / Escena de la película Gigante (2005), Primera causa / First Cause (1999), a las que ahora se suma la obra que revisamos y que contará con edición bilingüe en la editorial del Instituto Franklin. Además, ocho de sus poemas han sido incluidos en The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011) y una selección de sus composiciones ha sido traducida al italiano: Il Canto del Cronista (2002).

So Spoke Penelope se presenta en una cuidada edición y con una sugerente introducción a cargo de Ifeanyi Menkini, poeta nigeriano, profesor y fundador de la Grolier Poetry, editorial que publica la obra. Menkini esboza unos pertinentes rasgos biográficos y bibliográficos de Villanueva para tratar de mostrar las afinidades, la trayectoria y el compromiso del autor con la figura de Penélope, destacando la importancia en la configuración de la obra de Clara Solana Ríos, abuela del autor y "another Penelope of the hard Texas sun".

Imitando las palabras de Homero, el título de la obra ya nos indica que la protagonista es Penélope, la mujer de Ulises, el héroe de la Odisea. Coincidencias literarias, estas mismas palabras, en gallego, "Así falou Penélope", aparecen en la reivindicación feminista del poema "Penélope" de Xohana Torres que, como Villanueva, quieren dar voz poética a la mujer de Ulises. Aunque existen otras tradiciones que difieren de la versión canónica homérica, Villanueva retrata a su Penélope según la Odisea: la fiel esposa de Odiseo, de carácter y conducta intachable. Sus epítetos (περίφρων o ἐχέφρων) así lo reflejan: una mujer sensata, prudente y discreta, cuyo nombre es también sinónimo de modestia, castidad, fidelidad y paciencia. Es, por antonomasia, la esposa-modelo, pues, durante la ausencia del marido, no olvida sus labores propias (tejer) y permanece recluida en su oikos sin dar que hablar; cumple a la perfección el papel de la esposa en la Antigüedad y, por tanto, su comportamiento ejemplar será alabado. Sigue así esta obra la concepción de una Penélope virtuosa, frente a otras reescrituras contemporáneas que se decantan por una Penélope libertina o, incluso, feminista. La Penélope de Villanueva es una mujer enamorada, que suplica a Atenea para que su esposo regrese, que explora el horizonte anhelando ver las velas de su barco, que desea verse envuelta entre sus brazos, tenerlo en su cama; sin embargo, lo único que encuentra es, con paciencia desesperada, su odiosa ausencia. Poema tras poema, Villanueva va tejiendo la odisea de Penélope, la mujer que esperó fielmente por su marido veinte años, asediada por pretendientes, y a la que los aedos de la Antigüedad no prestaron la atención adecuada. De ahí que modernas reescrituras incidan, al igual que aquí, en su historia personal, como por ejemplo, entre muchas otras, La tejedora de sueños (1952) de Antonio Buero Vallejo, The Penelopiad (2005) de Margaret Atwood o, más recientemente, Nostalgia de Odiseo (2012) de la menos conocida Nuria Barros.

So Spoke Penelope contiene 32 poemas, fruto de un trabajo de, al menos, diez años. Veinticuatro de estas composiciones se habían presentado previamente en diferentes revistas y antologías desde el año 2004, cuando una primera muestra se publica en el número 6 de Poiesis: A Journal of the Arts and Communication, en concreto "So Spoke Penelope", "Prayer to Athena", "Dream", "In Color and in Cloth" y "A Width of Cloth". Cada poema puede leerse individualmente, pero el acierto ha sido reunirlos todos ya que, leyendo la obra, vamos releyendo la Odisea a través de los ojos de Penélope que, en primera persona, nos cuenta su propia odisea de amor, esperanza y desesperación. Siguen los poemas, además, un orden cronológico en la vida de esta heroína, pues vemos cómo es su estado de ánimo con el paso de los años. En el primero, cuyo título da nombre a la obra, han transcurrido dos años desde que se fue Odiseo; en el quinto, "Patterns that I weave", ya van cinco años; seis, en el séptimo, "Against all odds"; nueve, en el noveno, "Prayer to Athena"; quince en el décimo-séptimo, "In the courtyard"; dieciocho en el vigésimo-segundo, "Another prayer to Athena"; en el vigésimo-sexto, "Wakeful dreaming", un año más; y veinte, en el trigésimo, "Athena, Spinner of many schemes". La alegría llega en el último poema, "Twenty years waiting", en el que Villanueva le hace olvidar los malos momentos del pasado. De esta forma, el poeta intenta completar lo que Homero deja entrever en su poema, ahondando especialmente en los sentimientos de la mujer enamorada, la esposa abandonada o la madre angustiada. Lo que en la Odisea se obvió, la reescritura de esta historia va a prestarle atención, en parte porque el destinatario, la lengua, el tiempo, las circunstancias son diferentes. Además, la lectura de este poemario puede servir de acicate para que el receptor de la obra contemporánea lea y conozca, si no lo hizo todavía, la épica griega, aunque, en este caso, perdería las ironías (por ejemplo, cuando Penélope se pregunta si Odiseo está en apuros o se encuentra con otras mujeres), alusiones o referencias intertextuales que perciben quienes conocen bien, como el autor, la obra homérica.

Review translated by Lisa Horowitz:

So Spoke Penelope is not the sort of book BMCR ordinarily reviews, in that it is not an essay, or a new edition or translation of classical texts, nor is it a scientific study. It is, instead, an excellent creative work of literature, one which is undoubtedly destined to become a source of critical analyses and studies regarding the influence of ancient Greek epic poetry on contemporary poetry, in general, and The Odyssey—especially the character of Penelope—in particular.

This book is the sixth volume of poems written by Tino Villanueva (b. Texas, 1941), a professor in the Department of Romance Studies at Boston University, and an authority on Chicano literature. Most of his previous works have been published in both Spanish and English. These include Hay otra voz poems (1968-1971) (1972); Shaking Off the Dark (1984, rev’d. 1998); Crónica de mis peores años (1987) / Chronicle of My Worst Years (1994); Scene from the Movie GIANT (1993)[[2]] / Escena de la película GIGANTE (2005); and Primera causa / First Cause (1999). So Spoke Penelope now joins this list, with a bilingual edition soon to be released by The Franklin Institute. In addition to these books, eight of Villanueva’s poems appear in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011), and a selection of his works has been translated into Italian and published under the title Il Canto del Cronista (2002).

Ifeanyi Menkiti, the Nigerian poet, professor and founder of the Grolier Poetry Press which published So Spoke Penelope, has taken great care in bringing out this first edition, and contributed a thought-provoking introduction of his own. In that introduction, Menkiti outlines the salient biographic and bibliographic features of Villanueva’s life, in order to show how the poet came to engage with and feel an affinity for the character of Penelope. In so doing, Menkiti places particular emphasis on the influential role of the poet’s grandmother, Clara Solana Rios, “another Penelope of the hard Texas sun.”

Invoking the words of Homer, the title of the book announces that it is Penelope—wife of Odysseus, the hero of The Odyssey—who is to be the book’s protagonist. By way of literary coincidence, these very same words, but in gallego—“Asi falou Penelope”—were also used by Xohana Torres in her poem “Penelope,” in which she, like Villanueva, endeavored to give Odysseus’ wife a poetic voice, albeit from a feminist perspective. The character of Penelope has likewise appeared in a variety of other guises, all differing from the canonical Homeric version. Villanueva, however, has chosen to take Penelope just as he found her in The Odyssey: Odysseus’ faithful wife, a woman whose conduct and character are beyond reproach. The epithets used by Homer (περίφρων or ἐχέφρων) portray a sensible woman, prudent and discreet, whose name is synonymous with modesty, chastity, faithfulness and patience; in short, she is the model wife par excellence. While her husband is away, she remains cloistered in her oikos, tending to her labors (weaving) and leading a quiet, reclusive life. Her conduct is at all times exemplary; she plays the role of the praiseworthy wife in antiquity to perfection. It is this quintessentially virtuous Penelope whom Villanueva has chosen as his subject, even as other contemporary re-writers of the epic have veered off in the direction of Penelope-as-feminist or even as-libertine. Villanueva’s Penelope is a woman possessed by love; she prays to the goddess Athena for the return of her husband and searches the horizon, yearning to catch a glimpse of his sails; she longs to feel the arms of her husband around her, and to lie with him in her bed. But for all the hopelessness of her patience, she meets only with his hated absence. In poem after poem, Villanueva weaves Penelope’s odyssey, the woman who for twenty years waited faithfully for her husband, besieged all the while by suitors. Insofar as the epic poets of antiquity failed to give this woman the attention she warranted, many other contemporary writers have likewise embarked on telling her personal story. Among them, for example, are La tejedora de sueños (1952) by Antonio Buero Vallejo, The Penelopiad (2005) by Margaret Atwood, and, most recently, Nostalgia de Odiseo (2012) by the lesser known writer Nuria Barros.

The thirty-two poems which make up So Spoke Penelope are the product of at least ten years of work. Twenty-four of these poems have appeared before in various journals and anthologies, starting in 2004, when a preview of the collection came out in Poiesis: A Journal of the Arts and Communication, Vol. 6, specifically, “So Spoke Penelope,” “Prayer to Athena,” “Dream,” “In Color and in Cloth,” and “A Width of Cloth.” Each of these poems is capable of standing on its own, but the real strength of this work lies in reading them all together. By reading the collection as a whole, we are, in effect, re-reading The Odyssey, but this time through the eyes of Penelope, who in the first person, recounts her own odyssey of love, hope and despair. Moreover, by arranging the poems chronologically in the life of the heroine, Villanueva enables us to follow the trajectory of her state of mind throughout the many passing years. In the first poem, which takes its name from the title of the book, two years have gone by since Odysseus’ departure. In the fifth poem, “Patterns That I Weave,” five years have already passed; six years, in the seventh, “Against All Odds;” nine years in the ninth, “Prayer to Athena;” fifteen years in the seventeenth, “In the Courtyard;” eighteen years in the twenty-second, “Another Prayer to Athena;” yet one more year in the twenty-sixth, “Wakeful Dreaming;” and twenty years in the thirtieth, “Athena, Spinner of Many Schemes.” Happiness finally arrives in the last poem, “Twenty Years Waiting,” in which Villanueva has Penelope forget the awfulness of past moments. In this way, the poet aims to finish what Homer had barely begun; he delves deeply into the feelings of this enamored woman, abandoned wife and anguished mother. The story, as re-written by Villanueva, focuses on what The Odyssey did not, in part because the audience, along with its language, times and circumstances, has changed. Moreover, reading this contemporary book of poems may serve as a catalyst to get readers, who have not yet read the ancient Greek epic poem, finally to do so, even though certain ironies in the text may escape them (for example, when Penelope wonders to herself whether Odysseus is in trouble or arranging trysts), allusions and intertextual references which can be appreciated only by those who, like Villanueva, are intimately familiar with Homer’s work.


1.   Esta obra obtuvo el American Book Award en 1994.

2.   This book won the American Book Award in 1994.

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Ulrike Ehmig, Rudolf Haensch, Die lateinischen Inschriften aus Albanien (LIA). Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 2012. Pp. iv, 724. ISBN 9783774938199. €98.00.

Reviewed by Florian Matei-Popescu, Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology​ (

Version at BMCR home site

After a less than successful attempt to gather and publish the Latin inscriptions from Albania,1 the task was undertaken in a project developed by the German Archaeological Institute in Lissus (Lezhë, Dalmatia province) and within the larger framework of a long expected new edition of the third volume of Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL).

Due to the political context of Albania during the Communist regime, it was practically impossible for foreign scholars to have close contacts in the country and to work with their Albanian counterparts. The only way to get in touch with the new discoveries was the Albanian publications, which reached Western libraries only with difficulty. The anarchic period that followed prevented any foreign projects being developed and the situation began to normalize only in 2000. Meanwhile the Latin inscriptions were published in different venues, which are not always easy to find. These are the reasons why such a corpus is welcome in an era when "national corpora" are making space for regional or (Roman) provincial corpora. This is in fact the future of the epigraphy of the Roman Empire, arrangement by the ancient administrative divisions and not the modern ones.

The book is divided into four main sections: the introduction (p. 1-12), the inscriptions (p. 13-700, without instrumentum), the indices (p. 701-717: onomastic, historical, linguistic, orthography and history of the inscription, type of monument and representations) and the concordances (p. 719-724: CIL, L'Année Épigraphique, Corpus des inscriptions latines d'Albanie (CIA); unfortunately concordances with other publications, especially the articles published in the different journals, are missing). There are 302 inscriptions included in the corpus, following geographic criteria from north to the south and ordered after the CIL model: votive inscriptions, inscriptions mentioning emperors, senators, Roman knights and members of the urban magistracies, funerary inscriptions in alphabetical order following the nomen gentile of the deceased and varia, badly preserved inscriptions and Late Roman ones. For all these inscriptions relevant information is given concerning the place of their discovery (see also the map, p. 17) and the place where they are now kept, the type of the inscription (votive, honorary, building and funerary), the stone and the type of the monument itself (altar, architrave, base, block, cippus, plate, column, sarcophagus and stele), as well as the measurements.2

The readings can in general be conveniently checked through the given images, although conditions of preservation mean that the quality of some of the images is not entirely satisfactory and so one must also consult the photos published in the CIA. The commentaries were kept to a minimum, understandably since some of the most interesting inscriptions were already published and commented on in previous articles. Therefore only the most relevant issues were discussed, including possible chronology (sometimes only conjectural, especially for the funerary inscriptions) and literature (cited in chronological order after the model of the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg).

Most of the epigraphic documents come from the three Roman colonies: Dyrrachium (LIA 31-148; see also L'Année Epigraphique 1984, 811-813, stamped lead water pipes from the Hadrianic period, an important addition to LIA 148, which attests the construction of the aqueduct during the reign of Hadrian), Byllis (LIA 188-226), and Buthrotum (LIA 243-302).3 There are also inscriptions from rural communities such as vicani Scampenses (modern Elbasan: LIA 165, a funerary inscription for a former centurion of the Roman army, decorated by Hadrian in the bellum Iudaicum4), or from imperial domains, such as the one attested in the area of Baldushk, probably in the territory of Dyrrachium (LIA 154, a dedication to the Castores Augusti raised by Epictetus, an imperial freedman and by another person).5 Another vicus of Dyrrachium may be attested by LIA 156 and 159, funerary inscriptions of the soldiers, or former soldiers, of the prima Macedonica legion (in LIA 159 only legio I appears). They were settled in the territory of Dyrrachium probably before the year 27 BC.6

The exact judicial status of another community, Scodra (LIA 8-19) in the Dalmatia province, is unknown, but there is an inscription at Doclea (Dalmatia) that seems to attest that it was also a colonia (CIL III 12695: [p]on[t(ifex)] in col(onia) Sc[o]dr(a); and Pliny the Elder, NH 3, 144, mentions the town as oppidum civium Romanorum, which could be understood as being a municipium, which thereafter became a colonia. Lissus, also in the Dalmatia province, a former civitas of the Illyrians, became a municipium during the Roman age (LIA 20-26; Pliny the Elder, NH 3, 144, oppidum civium Romanorum).

In addition to providing information on the history of local communities, the Albanian inscriptions add to our understanding of Roman military and political practices. One of the most interesting inscriptions is that of M. Valerius Lollianus at Byllis (LIA 188).7 This Roman knight, being in his third militia equestris, was commissioned with command of the war vexillations, groups of horsemen belonging to several units of Syria province, during Lucius Verus' expedition against the Parthians. Lollianus' inscription attests that such vexillations were made up of troops from many units, probably because taking 50 horsemen from a unit is less damaging than taking 100-200 horsemen. Upon his retirement Lollianus seems to have become one of the most influential persons in his colonia, as the inscription attests his activity in the construction of a public road (via publica), probably at the request and with the approval of the city council. This is our only epigraphic information about the involvement of local benefactors in the construction of public roads.

Also of interest is the new reading of an inscription discovered at Margegaj, Dalmatia province (LIA 1), where a dec(urio) II(iterum) is attested. The decuriones are known in the urban (ordo decurionum) or military (decurio equitum) milieus, but this seems not to be the case here and the meaning of decurio iterum is not at all clear.8 Two parallels are given by the authors, one from Rome (CIL VI 244 = ILS 7358) and one from Dalmatia, Ivangrad (ILJug 1818) . Leaving aside the Roman attestation, which refers to another context, I wonder if the two Dalmatian attestations could not be connected to the division of the Illyrian native civitates into decuriae (Pliny the Elder, NH 3, 142-143, without any doubt financial districts).

In closing, I want to add something on LIA 38, a very badly preserved inscription. The key to interpretation might be the mention of divi V[eri] and divae Fau[stinae] in l. 3-4, in the genitive case, combined with the possible reading [Gem vel Marc]ella ux[or] in the following line. To have on the same inscription both divus Verus and diva Faustina is very unusual. Divus Verus in the genitive case is always a part of Marcus Aurelius' title, but there is no place for diva Faustina, the wife of Antoninus Pius. A possible solution could take into account the mention of a person who had close relations with both divus Verus and diva Faustina9 in the missing part followed by the name of his wife, most probably Gemella or Marcella, in the nominative case, the one who erected the inscription for his husband. 10 The new corpus of the Latin inscriptions from Albania is a welcome improvement over the CIA. The inscriptions conveniently gathered and commented on here give us insights into the Roman provincial society of this part of the Empire and provide a starting point for future studies. ​


1.   Skender Anamali, Hasan Ceka, Élizabeth Deniaux, Corpus des inscriptions latines d'Albanie, Rome, 2009. See also the review published by Dan Dana in L'Antiquité Classique 80, 2011, p. 438-440.
2.   Unfortunately no short presentations of the different findspots are added, though some information can be found in the introductory chapter, which must be completed with the information provided by the authors of CIA (p. 9-17). Historical information, only for the cities located in Macedonia province, can be also found in Jens Bartels, Die städtische Eliten im römischen Makedonien. Untersuchungen zur Formierung uns Struktur, Berlin-New York, 2008, with the older bibliography.
3.   Interesting in this context is LIA 252, which attests that Germanicus as duumvir quinquennalis, was replaced by a praefectus, C. Iulius Strabo; in LIA 258, the unknown Roman knight was very likely tribunus legionis V Macedonicae. See also Johannes Bergemann, Die römische Kolonie von Butrint und die Romanisierung Griechenlands, Munich, 1998, with Peter Riedlberger's review in BMCR 1999.02.23 and Inge Lyse Hansen, Richard Hodges, Butrint 4: The Archaeology and Histories of an Ionian Town. Butrint archaeological monographs 4, Oxford, Oakville, CT, 2013, with Ivan Vranić's review in BMCR 2014.02.18.
4.   He was buried on a place given by his fellow villagers, the convicani Scampenses; the village was located in the territory of Dyrrachium: LIA 163-175, 178; LIA 166 is a funerary inscription raised in the memory of a former duumvir, probably of the colonia.
5.   In the same area another dedication to the Dioscuri, in Greek, was raised by another imperial freedman, Italikos, SEG 38, 1988, 463. Discussion of the rural territory of Dyrrachium and the status of the attested imperial domain would have been welcome here. It seems, as in other cases, the imperial domain was located in the middle of the rural territory of Dyrrachium, if we consider that vicus Scampa belonged to Dyrrachium as well.
6.   This could also proof that the colony of Dyrrachium was a veteran settlement (something that can also be understood from Cassius Dio 51, 4, 6, which mentions that the veterans were settled at Dyrrachium and Philippi, both being thereafter attested as enjoying the ius Italicum, and Digestae 50, 15, 6 and 8, 8), and this is probably the reason why Dyrrachium received the ius Italicum.
7.   The corpus follows the new readings and comments in Rudolf Haensch, Peter Weiß, Ein schwieriger Weg. Die Straßenbauinschrift des M. Valerius Lollianus aus Byllis, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Römische Abteilung 118, 2012, p. 435-454, the new and the best edition of this very important inscription, CIL III 600 = ILS 2724, cut into a rock from the vicinity of Byllis, with a brilliant epigraphic and historical commentary, especially concerning the military units, and a new photo and a drawing.
8.   The older reading was decurio II(vir). The only attestation in a military context seems to be the inscription discovered at Künzig, Quintana, Raetia, an auxiliary fort, where CIL III 11978 gives the following reading: MILES LEG DEC II. Here too the meaning is not clear, but the inscription is now lost and so it is impossible to check the reading.
9.   Faustina II died in 176 and was consecrated as diva Faustina Pia or diva Augusta Faustina, see D. Kienast, Römische Kaisertabelle. Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronologie , 5. Auflage, Darmstadt, 2011, p. 141-142.
10.   An imperial freedman or a priest of the imperial cult? If we admit the second solution, it is highly probably that his wife also was involved in the cult celebration and therefore mentioned in the inscription. ​

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Carl Knappett (ed.), Network Analysis in Archaeology: New Approaches to Regional Interaction. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xx, 350. ISBN 9780199697090. $135.00.

Reviewed by Shawn Graham, Carleton University, Ottawa (

Version at BMCR home site


This is an important book. But it is not an easy book. Network Analysis in Archaeology brings together a number of the leading figures in archaeological network analysis to explore what 'networks' mean for archaeology, what a network perspective might offer the practice and interpretation of archaeology, and to offer the results of case studies ranging in space and time from across the globe. Newcomers to archaeological network analysis might find it daunting, but if they read this book after reading survey articles by individuals such as Tom Brughmans (2010, 2012, 2013) or Knappett's 2011 volume, An Archaeology of Interaction: Network Perspectives on Material Culture and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press), they will be well equipped to begin their own forays into archaeological network analyses.1

The book is timely. 'Network', as a metaphor, suffuses everything we do these days, to the point where the word is almost meaningless. This collection returns the analytic power to the concept. This collection shows what sustained and careful use of formal network methods can offer archaeology, beyond what are sometimes called the 'spaghetti monsters' of network visualization (Malkin 2011, p18).2 Indeed, social network analysis does not need to visualize networks in order to provide useful insight; sometimes the metrics alone are sufficient, as Coward's contribution in this volume amply demonstrates (247-280).

The volume is arranged in four parts. Part I sets some of the background to the use of networks by archaeologists over the last half century (Terrell), and many of the theoretical potentials and pitfalls of the approach (Isaksen). Isaken's contribution is especially important, as he draws attention to the 'deceptive' way the phrase 'network analysis' conceals 'a wide arrange of techniques designed for different purposes' (43). The network analysis tools that are widely available (and often freely available) come to us from studies of the structure of the internet, of social media, of mathematical graph theory. Their metrics and approaches have to be used with some caution and with understanding of the contexts for which they may be appropriate. Isaksen also points out that a major theme in archaeological network analysis is that of experimentation, of iteratively exploring both real and hypothetical networks and the interplay of variables that make one match the other. Given the necessary incompleteness of archaeological data, this experimentation or exploration seems to me to be a major attraction of network analysis for archaeologists.

Part II explores network analysis over geography, examining ways networks can be deduced amongst, within, and across sites and settlements. The contribution by Scholnick, Munson and Macri on Mayan political rhetoric (95-124) is particularly noteworthy, in that it brings to the fore the notion of 'structural equivalence' in networks deduced from epigraphic materials. They are looking, not just at connections, but at the holes, the patterns of non-connections. Given the rich epigraphic records of Greco-Roman antiquity, readers of BMCR might find much to inspire them in this piece. Rivers, Knappett, and Evans explore ideas around 'centrality' and deducing 'what makes a site important' in their contribution (125-150). They evaluate and discuss several models of assessing site importance, and offer their own, 'Ariadne', a simulation package that operationalizes their perspective (the Ariadne package is open source and is available for download). That these authors share their code is exciting; network analysis needs re-usable data to learn with and build upon, and such sharing is to be applauded.

Part III turns to material culture, and networks generated from artefact distributions themselves. The contribution by Mills et al. is extremely important in not only its sheer scope, some 1,600 settlements with approximately 4 million artefacts across 415 ceramic types in the American South West, but also in terms of the lucidity of their approach. Using Brainerd-Robinson co-efficients of similarity, they are able to explore and map regional migrations of people through the region, seeing both large-scale and micro-scale patterns play out. They demonstrate the ways in which their research confirms or is in accordance with existing findings but also the ways in which network analysis pushes understanding of this region and period forward. Mol and Mans reverse the telescope and use social network analysis to understand the social world within a single village in the Caribbean. They suggest that intra-site relationships as evidenced in material culture can shed light on larger inter-site relationships. Collar uses epigraphic evidence of the Jewish Diaspora, constructing networks via proximal-point analysis, to show how conceptions of Jewish ethnicity changed after the destruction of the Temple. It would be interesting to extend Collar's approach to take temporal proximity rather than geographic proximity into account (which could be done with, for instance, Scheidel and Meeks's ORBIS The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World, which allows for the reconfiguring of Mediterranean geography by time rather than space).

The book concludes with a meditation on 'Archaeology, networks, information processing, and beyond', by Sander van der Leeuw. He remarks that virtually every paper in this collection uses network analysis in an analytic/descriptive mode, and so he frames his remarks to discuss where network analysis may go in the future. He explores ideas concerning 'societies as dissipative flow structures'. He writes, 'we can model the interaction between the society and its environment as a dynamic structure consisting of two flows going in opposite directions—a flow of organization ('information-processing capacity') that emanates from the society and flows towards the surrounding environment, and a flow of energy that is extracted from that environment and that flows inwards into the society. The resultant feedback loop dissipates entropy by organizing the environment and the society' (338-9). He goes on to discuss multi-nets, or networks where the nodes have different kinds of relationships and the nodes themselves may not all be of one kind, pointing to the analysis of these complex networks as a future direction for archaeological network analysis. In this sense, it might be worthwhile for the person interested in network analysis to consider archaeological work on agent-based modeling, as it seems to me that the two approaches can speak to each other usefully.

To repeat; this is an important book. But it is not an easy book. It demands close attention, and familiarity with many of the terms and issues of network analysis. If the reader perseveres, she or he will find much stimulating material to engage with in all of the papers, across cultures and across time and space. It is appropriate to conclude with van der Leeuw's parting remarks:

" far [archaeologists] have only explored and exploited the tip of the iceberg of the network perspective on society. But if the signs do not betray me, that exploration promises to be a fascinating and very rewarding trip that may bring our discipline much closer to a truly dynamic understanding of the past societies."(346)


1.   T. Brughmans (2010), Connecting the dots: towards archaeological network analysis, Oxford Journal of Archaeology 29(3), 277-303; (2012), Thinking through networks: a review of formal network methods in archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19(2) doi:10.1007/s10816-012-9133-8; (2013), Networks of networks: a citation network analysis of the adoption, use, and adaptation of formal network techniques in archaeology. Literary and Linguistic Computing: The Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 28(4), 538-562; C. Knappett (2011), An Archaeology of Interaction: Network Perspectives on Material Culture and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2.   I. Malkin (2011), A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014


Dexter Hoyos, A Roman Army Reader: Twenty-One Selections from Literary, Epigraphic, and Other Documents. BC Latin Readers. Mundelein, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 2013. Pp. xlviii, 214. ISBN 9780865167155. $19.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Jonathan J. McLaughlin, University of Michigan (

Version at BMCR home site


In a welcome change for the Bolchazy-Carducci Latin Readers series, Dexter Hoyos provides their first Latin reader that focuses on a theme rather than an author or a genre.1 This well-balanced book introduces students to the history of the institutions and the people of the Roman military community through a number of carefully selected ancient sources in Latin. Hoyos has successfully marshalled passages from literary prose, satiric verse, and epigraphic and papyrological documents, representing not only traditional elite male authors, but also emperors, common soldiers, and women. The selections are further bolstered by a commentary appropriate for the series' intended audience of intermediate and advanced Latin students. While additional auxilia will be necessary for those interested in generic or literary conventions, Hoyos' Roman Army Reader nevertheless fills a need for a more social and institutional historical approach to Latin instruction. Besides traditional Latin students, Roman army enthusiasts will also find the selection and commentary to be both informative and rewarding.

Hoyos' selections are meant to illustrate the "true range" of the Roman army beyond the narrow image of the Caesarian or Trajanic army on the march, and they aim to "depict the army in war and at peace, collectively and individually, sometimes at war with itself" (xi). The passages are organized into five sections that focus on different themes: individual soldiers' careers, "peacetime" activities, training and the order of battle, praetorian coups d'état, and battle narratives. The total is about 850 lines or 36 pages of Latin text, with twelve literary passages,2 eight selections from sixteen inscriptions,3 and the famous birthday invitation of Claudia Severa, preserved on a wooden tablet from Vindolanda.4 The texts are generally organized chronologically within each section and cover topics that range from the organization of the fourth-century BCE legion as reported by Livy, to Vegetius' late fourth-century CE description of sword-training in the imperial army. The selection of inscriptions and the tablet is excellent and represents a variety of text types (epitaphs, dedications, letters, and speeches) as well as people (generals, officers, centurions, legionaries, auxiliaries, infantry, cavalry, and women). The book also includes a preface, a thirty-six page historical introduction, a list of suggested secondary readings, a commentary, appendices (original texts of the inscriptions and the tablet, a chronological table of events, and a list of emperors to 235 CE), a map of the Roman Empire, illustrations of some of the inscriptions and the tablet, and a complete vocabulary (with a list of the abbreviations for Roman praenomina).5 Additional illustrations can be found on the publisher's website.

In his introduction, Hoyos provides sufficient background information on the Roman army without overwhelming the reader with too many technical details. He focuses largely on the historical changes in the size, structure, organization, recruitment, hierarchy, weapons, and battle style of the Roman army from the early Republic to Marcus Aurelius. Much of this information is necessary, especially when reading the passages from the career inscriptions (selections 2-6) or Hadrian's speech to cavalry units (selection 13). Greek sources, especially Polybius and Josephus, are discussed in detail, as are some of the potential problems of determining the structure of the early Roman army. Little mention is made of the daily life of soldiers or of the contributions from archaeology (beyond the discovery of new texts). While Hoyos acknowledges the expansionist policies of a number of emperors, he supports the traditional view that the overall purpose of the Roman imperial army was "mostly to maintain the status quo and resist outside pressures" (xxxix). Hoyos occasionally discusses the controversial idea of "Romanization" and the equally controversial idea that the Roman army was an agent in this process (xli and 143), yet he does not provide a clear definition of this important term. Does he consider "Romanization" a change in habits and values reflecting contact with the institutions of the Roman state that led to the creation of a new Roman imperial culture? Or does he mean the more aggressive sense of the imposition of "civilization" on "barbarians"?6 Since this book may be a student's first real encounter with the sources for the history of the Roman army, I believe that a fuller discussion of "Romanization" was warranted. In addition, the introductions offers no close discussion of the authors, genres or specific historical and literary contexts from which his selections derive. Rather, when the selections are mentioned at all in the introduction, they are usually used to illustrate an historical point about the development of the Roman army.

The commentary is by far the best part of this book. In general, the notes appropriately aid the intermediate-level student in reading the Latin and understanding the text. Hoyos introduces each entry with a brief assessment of the selection's historical or narrative context, usually indicating how the passage contributes to our knowledge of the development of the Roman army. Inscriptions and the tablet are given a physical description, a findspot, a date, and often a photo, and at times Hoyos refers to typological conventions, such as the arrangement of military positions in career inscriptions. While many notes focus on historical points related to the Roman army, much of the commentary is devoted to elucidating aspects of grammar, the narrative or historical context, idioms, and some stylistic points, especially for Tacitus. Translations are provided only for ambiguous vocabulary, technical terms, or where a literal English translation might prove awkward. At times a final note previews what comes next in the source. For a book aimed at the intermediate Latin student, however, Hoyos surprisingly assumes that his audience has a great deal of background knowledge about Cicero, Caesar, Livy, and Tacitus. He provides more background information for the authors less typically assigned in beginning Latin courses, but more on the major authors would have been helpful.7 The commentary is also short on discussion of genre or literary conventions. For example, the notes on the selection from Juvenal's Satires appropriately address points grammar, legal language, and historical context, but a more thorough discussion of meter and genre would not have been out of place. The teacher should be prepared to provide additional guidance to students unfamiliar with the generic or stylistic conventions of the selected authors. While I am sympathetic to Hoyos' focus on these texts as historical sources, I believe that an intermediate reader, even a thematic one, needs to provide information necessary to appreciate the literary background of the selections, in addition to how they contribute to our understanding of Roman history.

This book will appeal to a range of audiences.8 First, the Roman army enthusiast with a background in Latin is likely to enjoy this book, which complements Campbell's well-known sourcebooks of translated texts.9 For the intermediate Latin student, perhaps in a third- or fourth-semester college course, this reader offers a nice diversity of text types (prose and poetry, different authors, different periods) on a clearly circumscribed theme that could easily be expanded upon, perhaps with readings from Augustus' Res Gestae or Virgil's Aeneid. For an upper-level course on the Roman army, I might assign this text first, then have students read extended selections from Caesar, Tacitus, or even epic poetry, and then compare these to visual depictions of the Roman army. Or, using Hoyos' commentaries as a model, students could write their own commentaries on short texts easily available on epigraphic and papyrological databases. Hoyos' Latin reader, like many others in this series, offers the instructor the flexibility to use the book in a variety of courses.

Overall, this is a very good annotated thematic Latin reader appropriate for the series' intended audience and even for others. Students will leave this book not only with a better understanding of the Roman army but also with the satisfaction of knowing that they can read, with assistance, a variety of authors and texts in Latin. Finding the right balance in any commentary between historical significance and literary conventions is no easy task, but I believe that Hoyos has done an excellent job at selecting and annotating a diverse set of interesting and challenging texts. Hoyos has done the field a great service by providing this thematic Latin reader based on what will continue to be a popular topic.10


1.   Another thematic reader from the Bolchazy-Carducci Latin Readers series is scheduled for publication in 2014: Sheila K. Dickison and Judith P. Hallett, A Roman Women Reader: Selections from the Second Century BCE to the Second Century CE. ISBN 9780865166622.
2.   Three from Livy Ab Urbe Condita 42.34-35.1; 8.8.2-14; 22.4-6; two from Tacitus Annals 1.16-17, 28; 14.37-39; and one each from Tacitus Histories 1.40-41; Juvenal Satires 16.7-34; Vegetius De Re Militari 1.12, 3.13-14; Suetonius Gaius 57-59 and Claudius 10; Cato Origines 4, frg. 83 (= Gellius, Noctes Atticae 3.7); Cicero Ad Atticum 5.20.3-4; Caesar Bellum Civile 3.90-96, 98-99.
3.   The texts provided for the inscriptions and the tablet in the main section of the book are normalized: abbreviations are expanded, editorial emendations and additions are generally accepted, and, at times, line numbers are altered for easier reading. The original texts of the inscriptions and the tablet are provided in appendix A, with full editorial markup (except for underdots), so that students or instructors can compare the two. The texts include: ILS 2244 (9 CE); ILS 2683 (early I CE); ILS 9200 (late I CE); JRS 60 (1970) pp. 142-153 = AE 1969/70, 583 (early II CE); AE 1956, 124 (ca. 183 CE); E. Mary Smallwood, Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian (Cambridge, 1966), 321d-e, g, i, 322, 323b, 324-5 (all from Hadrian's Wall; each of these inscriptions is one line, except for 324, which is three lines; early-mid II CE); ILS 9134 and 2487 (128 CE); CIL 3.13439 (179 CE).
4.   T.Vindol. 291 (ca. 100/105 CE), available online at Vindolanda Tablets Online.
5.   As often in this series, the suggested reading list is limited to books in English. Most of these focus on the Roman army. No articles are mentioned, and very little scholarship on the literary sources is listed, nor is a general work on epigraphy. A number of places mentioned in the text are missing from the map, including Vindolanda, Baalbek, Beirut, and Venice.
6.   Hoyos seems to offer a definition for "Romanization," without explicitly saying so, here: "Although the first Roman soldiers were citizens living in and around the City itself, the army's range of recruitment steadily widened as the empire grew, until legionaries represented all the peoples who had become ciues Romani and no less numerous were the auxilia of provincial non-citizens. The spread of Roman culture and the Latin language, and their enduring impact on Europe, was due in great measure to the settled presence of the legions over so many centuries" (xiii-xiv).
7.   No major errors were detected in the notes, although the note on manu 2 in line 11 of selection 8 (T.Vindol. 291) is incorrect: manu 2 indicates Severa's own hand for lines 11-14, while the majority of the letter, including manu 1 in lines 15-17, is the hand of the scribe.
8.   I doubt that the average college Latin student would appreciate this comparison on page 68: "Maximianus was clearly an outstanding cavalry commander, like Napoleon's Marshal Murat and the American South's J. E. B. Stuart." Then again, perhaps this is an opportunity to explore other periods in military history.
9.   Brian Campbell, The Roman Army, 31 BC-AD 337: A Sourcebook (London and New York: Routledge, 1994) and Greek and Roman Military Writers: Selected Readings (London and New York: Routledge, 2004).
10.   I would like to thank Deborah Pennell Ross and Josiah Osgood for their insightful comments.

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