Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Marco Galli (ed.), Roman Power and Greek Sanctuaries: Forms of Interaction and Communication. Tripodes, 14. Athens: Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene, 2013. Pp. 346. ISBN 9789609559027.

Reviewed by Rocío Gordillo Hervás, University Pablo de Olavide (rgorher@upo.es)

Version at BMCR home site

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

This volume represents the crowning of four years of work by the members of the project "Formation and transformation of religious identities in the Roman Empire" (2003-2007) and of the outcome of the meeting "Religion as communication: Ritual networks in traditional Greek sanctuaries under the Roman domination" (2008). It is edited by Marco Galli, a scholar well known for his work on Greek religion under the Roman Empire. The book contains ten chapters: eight in English, one in Italian and one in German. They are preceded by an introductory chapter written by the editor (also in English), which undertakes a journey through the evolution of Greek ritual from the third century B.C. to the second century A.D., providing a framework for the main concepts developed within the subsequent chapters.

The first chapter, by Bonna D. Wescoat, analyzes the traces of Roman interaction with the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace from the late third to the first century B.C. The author offers a comprehensive study which explores the relationship between Rome and Samothrace, focusing on the literary and historical sources that emphasize ethnic and religious connections with the founding of Rome. The author first analyzes those passages which describe the Roman visitors to the sanctuary, devoting special attention to the passage where Plutarch describes M. Claudius Marcellus' dedication of part of the Syracusan war-booty to the sanctuary, and where Plutarch also argues that the shrine was chosen because of the ancestral connection between Aeneas and Dardanos, and between Samothrace and the Penates and the Lares Permarini. The analysis of the epigraphic evidence, especially the lists of Roman initiates and dedications, shows that the majority of them refer to members of the Roman elites who visited the island for official or business matters. Finally, the archaeological analysis focuses on the most important architectural changes taking place in buildings such as the Faux-Mycenaean Niche, Theatre Complex and adjacent Dining Rooms, and three late Hellenistic building on the western hill. The chapter represents a definite advance in the studies of the integration between the Greek and the Roman world during Republican times, an oft-neglected period.

Jochen Griesbach carries out a diachronic study of the spatial distribution of the statuary dedications in the sanctuary of Apollo at Delos from the third to the second century B.C. The author argues that a change in the arrangement and dimensions of the statues took place across said period, and hypothesizes that it was a change in social values that spurred the local elites to present themselves as the guarantors of traditional democratic values. This change can be observed both in the new sculptural arrangement of the areas outside the sanctuary and in the homogenization and lack of individualization of the images, which in the third century B.C. had displayed a significant amount of competition and ostentation between members of the same social class.

Annalisa Lo Monaco analyzes the architectural evolution of the Panhellenic Sanctuary of Olympia across the Hellenistic period, focusing on the buildings of the second and first century B.C. in the area between the river Kaldeos and the hill of Kronos, such as the Southern Stoa Gymnasium, its monumental entrance, and the circular baths. The author shows how such buildings define the area as a training and resting place, and hypothesizes that the works may have been financed by the members of the Eleaean elites who were responsible for the administration of the sanctuary, although the latter point would benefit from some additional evidence and arguments.

Milena Melfi undertakes a study of two of Greece's great religious centres, contextualized within a specific moment of their history: the Asklepieion of Epidauros after the destruction of Corinth in 146 B.C., and the Asklepieion of Athens after the siege of Sulla in 86 B.C. For the Asklepieion of Epidauros, the author analyzes the Roman appropriation and reutilization of votive objects, such as Mummius' reuse of two statue bases, one originally representing the god Asklepios and coming to symbolize Mummius' piety, and the other from the representation of a naval victory of the Achaean koinon, which comes to celebrate Mummius' military deeds. The author also dates the inscription IG II2 1035 from the Asklepieion at Athens to the years following Sulla's sack of Athens by linking it to the euergetic work carried out by Diokles and Sokrates Kephisiaeus in that same period. The chapter has the merit of providing an in-depth analysis of the Roman process of appropriation, reutilization, and resemantization as instruments for integration with Greek sanctuaries.

Following the theme of the preceding chapter, Giovanna Falezza analyzes the changes in the main shrines of Northern Greece in order to "investigate whether or not religious sites in Greece maintained their functions after the Roman conquest". The author differentiates three kinds of processes: 1) constructive acts, characterized by the abandonment of pre-Roman centres of cult before the erection of new sanctuaries connected to Rome, such as the second century B.C. erection of the temple to Zeus Eleutherios in Larissa's Eleuthere agora, which was probably connected to the declaration of freedom of the Greeks promulgated by Flamininus in 196 B.C., 2) destructive acts, such as the despoiling and looting of Greek sanctuaries as a means to weaken or destroy the identity of the local population, as for the temple of Zeus Olympios at Dion, and 3) introduction of the imperial cult, as undertaken after the battle of Actium by introducing the emperor as a new divinity. The chapter analyzes the foundation of the sanctuary and festival at Actium, the erection of the Sebasteion in Kalindoia, and the Temple of Thessaloniki as examples of the diffusion of the new cultic system in Greece.

Jessica Piccinini analyzes the Augustan literary sources on the sanctuary of Dodona in order to argue that the sanctuary was not abandoned after the attacks by Aemilius Paulus in 168/7 B.C. and by the Thracians in 88 B.C. The author carries out a comprehensive study of the literary references on the sanctuary of Zeus Naios and especially on its oracle, with special attention to passage 1.19.3 of Dionysius of Halicarnassus. The author also examines the archaeological record of the sanctuary, carried out by S.I. Dakaris, providing a new dating of some of the material and an in-depth analysis of the bronze base of the statue dedicated to Livia and situated west of Zeus' porch, which is argued to belong to Augustan times, thus showing the sanctuary was never abandoned during that period.

Andrea Baudini carries out an in-depth analysis of the evolution of the flogging rite of Orthia in Sparta, from its origins to Roman times, focusing on literary sources such as Xenophon—who describes it as a minimally violent rite of passage —, Pausanias, Lucian and Sextus Empiricus—whose account focuses on the whip-flogging and the bloodied youths—, and Plutarch (Arist. 17.8)—who considers the ritual an identity-building creation by Roman Sparta inspired by a phase of the battle of Plataia. The author also analyzes the archaeological record of the sanctuary and dates the cavea in front of the temple, the new pavement and the new altar to the second half of the third century A.D., and underlines the monumental changes that stemmed from the renewed Roman interest in the sanctuary during that period.

Elisa Chiara Portale analyzes the reception of imperial images in Greek local contexts through a comprehensive study of the introduction of female statues in centres such as Greek Tenos, Olympia, Epidaurus, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Cyrene, Eleusis, and Aulis. Special attention is granted to the theatre close to the Asklepieion of Butrint, with the analysis of its complete sculptural group and of its connection to the Trojan legend. The author argues that the imperial sculpture is reinterpreted within a Greek local context by the merging of the Hellenistic sculptural tradition and the novel Roman fashion, and is assimilated to the local divinities by means of epigrams or of its "theomorphic" representation.

Enzo Lippolis' somewhat derivative work focuses on the much trodden path of the architectural intervention of the Emperor Hadrian in the sanctuary of Eleusis. The author describes the work of the emperor, who had been initiated into the mysteries, as the euergetes of the cultic centre, underlining the part he played in the reconstruction of a bridge over the river Cephisus, and in the building of an aqueduct and probably of a nymphaeum. The emperor's euergetic work was an example for the members of the assembly of the Panhellenion, constituted by Hadrian in A.D. 131/132 during the monumentalization of the sanctuary, and the author argues that due to the emperor's intervention, the sacred precinct broadens its function of integration from a pan-Hellenic to a pan-Mediterranean perspective.

The last chapter, by Marco Galli, examines the dynamics of communication established between the emperor and the Greek world, taking its cue from the meeting between Lucius Verus and the representatives of the province of Achaia during the former's journey to Asia Minor to fight the Parthians. The author analyzes the co-emperor's involvement with the sanctuary of Eleusis and the latter's function as an intermediary between Roman power and the Greek elites, defined as "figures of mediation" (such as Titus Flavius Leosthenes) and "ritual mediators" (the euergesiai of Flavius Xenion and Herodes Atticus). In the second part of his study the author analyzes the "[p]olicy of memory" followed by the Greeks after the victory of Lucius Verus over the Parthians as a new tool for defining Greek identity. The author also explains the architectural "copies" of Athenian buildings in the Eleusinian forecourt, as well as the revival of the cult of the founding-heroes, by means of the enagisteria that were restored following the model of the sanctuary of Eleusis and the Palaimonion of Isthmia. The chapter provides a most welcome addition to the studies on Greek identity during Roman times with its focus on the period of Lucius Verus which, as the author notes, has not been the object of critical analysis.

This volume is well structured in its diachronic organization and offers a cohesive study of Greek sanctuaries during Roman times through a mostly archaeological and landscape-related perspective. The introductory chapter plays an important part in easing the reader into the subject, although it appears to anticipate a deeper treatment of the changes within the rituals of the sanctuary, while the volume as a whole actually focuses on architectural and sculptural changes. The main achievement of this book is represented by its utilization of studies of religion as a focus for the analysis of the mechanisms of interaction between Rome and Greece across a broad timeframe (from the third century B.C. to the late second century A.D.). Any scholars interested in the function of cultic centres as a bridge between the Greek and the Roman world will find this volume an indispensable tool for their research.

Table of Contents

M. Galli, Preface and Acknowledgments, 7-8.
M. Galli, Ritual Dynamic in the Greek Sanctuaries under the Roman Domination, 9-44.
B. D. Wescoat, Insula Sacra: Samothrace Between Troy and Rome, 45-82.
J. Griesbach, Zur Topographie hellenistischer "Ehrenstatuen" auf Delos, 83-124.
A. Lo Monaco, Fuori dall'Altis. Tende, bagni e propilei a Olimpia in età ellenistica, 125-142.
M. Melfi, Religion and Communication in the Sanctuaries of Early-Roman Greece: Epidauros and Athens, 143-158.
G. Falezza, From Eleutheria to Theos Kaisar Sebastos. Rome and the Sanctuaries of Northern Greece, 159-176.
J. Piccinini, Dodona at the Time of Augustus. A Few Notes, 177-192.
A. Baudini, Propaganda and Self-Representation of a Civic Elite in Roman Greece: The Flogging Rite of Orthia in Sparta, 193-204.
E. C. Portale, Augustae, Matrons, Goddesses: Imperial Women in the Sacred Space, 205-244.
E. Lippolis, Eleusis. Sanctuary of the Empire, 245-264.
M. Galli, The Celebration of Lucius Verus in the Provincia Achaia: Imperial Cult, Ritual Actors and Religious Networks, 265-298.

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