Saturday, January 31, 2015


Sylvie Donnat Beauquier, Ecrire à ses morts: enquête sur un usage rituel de l'écrit dans l'Egypte pharaonique. Collection Horos​. Grenoble: Jérôme Millon Editions​, 2014. Pp. 286. ISBN 9782841372522. €26.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Juan Carlos Moreno García​, CNRS (

Version at BMCR home site

One of the most characteristic aspects of pharaonic culture is undoubtedly the funerary domain. Massive monuments like the pyramids, beautifully decorated royal and private tombs, extensive ritual texts carved on temples or inscribed in coffins, even contemporary popular icons of the Egyptian past like mummies or the Book of the Dead, attest to the importance of death and deceased people in Egyptian beliefs and in contemporary interpretations of pharaonic civilization. In fact Egyptology has devoted most of its archaeological and philological work to the study of texts and monuments related to the mortuary sphere, especially those belonging to members of the royalty and of the elite who ruled the country. Furthermore, these researches have been mainly focused on art and religious history, while the social aspects of death and its importance in cementing interpersonal ties among the living ones, especially among common people, have not received as much attention. In the last decades Egyptologists have become increasingly aware, however, of the existence of extensive kin networks in Egyptian society, a circumstance usually concealed behind the use of rather general and imprecise kinship terms like "brother", "sister", "son" or "child" to refer, in fact, to collateral or descendant members of one's family as well as to subordinates. The epigraphic and ritual sources of the end of the 3rd millennium suddenly contain a plethora of terms evoking extensive kin groups, but the precise meaning of many of them still eludes us and in many cases it is only possible to suggest approximate translations like "household" or "extended family". Irrespective, the influence of these networks left their mark in the domain of funerary beliefs.

The end of the 3rd millennium appears in fact as an unstable period of political turmoil, increasing social autonomy and weakened royal authority. Under these conditions, extensive kin and patronage networks provided protection for people and inspired new forms of ideological legitimacy, alternative to those derived from service to the (now divided) monarchy. The provincial elite now proudly proclaimed their old and noble origins and, in some cases, developed ritual activities centered on the presentation of offerings to deceased members of the ruling local family or to a prestigious ancestor.1 The best known examples come from the area of Elephantine, in southern Egypt, and from the oasis of Dakhla, where chapels dedicated, respectively, to Heqaib and Medunefer, remained active foci of local cults and of presentation of offerings until the beginning of the 2nd millennium.2 More generally, ritual activities centered on deceased members of a kin group or devoted to ancestors of powerful patronage networks helped drawing together families and communities. Not surprisingly some recent Egyptological research has explored the impact of these ritual practices in pharaonic society, usually from the perspective of archaeological, anthropological and cultural history studies, thus departing from the more traditionally philological and art history views prevalent in Egyptology.3

The book published by Sylvie Donnat Beauquier belongs to this renewed tradition and the focus of her work is an exceptionalcorpus of texts, mostly dating from the end of the 3rd millennium BC, and known as "letters to the dead". Its author is a reputed specialist in the study of these documents and she has devoted much of her research to a better knowledge of the social and religious context in which they appeared, especially to the very particular ways in which deceased people were invoked in order to help solving everyday problems of their living relatives. In a very insightful introduction, Sylvie Donnat reminds us that the ritual uses of hieratic writing have been somewhat neglected in Egyptological studies, as most research was focused on the more prestigious (and abundant) texts written in hieroglyphs and in cursive hieroglyphs. Commonly regarded as an everyday type of writing, mostly restricted to the administrative and personal (i. e. letters) sphere, the utilization of hieratic in ritual and religious compositions has attracted less attention from Egyptologists, despite its early appearance in the 3rd millennium in the so-called "execration texts." She continues her argument by highlighting the importance of the other early corpus of ritual sources written in hieratic, the letters to the dead, for two reasons: on the one hand because the analysis of this epistolary genre helps better understand its history and particularities within text production of pharaonic Egypt; and, on the other hand, because it provides a privileged tool for understanding the role played by writing in the communication between dead and living people.

After a general description of the problems and state-of-the-art of these particular documents, the book is organized in two main parts. The first one consists in the presentation, translation and discussion of all relevant texts. Usually grouped under the label of "letters to the dead", Sylvie Donnat introduces a subtle classification of the corpus by categories. As she reminds the reader in the introduction to the first part, the very notion of "letters to the dead" is a modern one and the sources under discussion appear in fact in a variety of supports, like papyri, bowls, stelae, pieces of cloth, even figurines. But they all share a common feature, the use of the formulaic repertory characteristic of the epistolary genre, but here adapted to an actually funerary communication. In fact, these letters were addressed to a very particular kind of recipient, to the point that rites played an essential role in the communicative context in which they were enacted. These characteristics distinguish them from other types of petitions addressed to deceased people. After a brief overall presentation of the texts, Sylvie Donnat classifies them in two broad chronological categories, texts written in the (late) 3rd millennium (fourteen documents) and those composed in the 2nd and 1st millennia BC (five examples), the former one being in turn divided into five sub-categories, depending on the use of very distinctive epistolary formulae: summings-up, petitions/complaints, classical epistolary expressions, classical funerary expressions and other epistolary formulae (including a contract). As for texts later than the 3rd millennium, they spread over nearly 1500 years, appear on a diversity of supports and, contrary to those of the late 3rd millennium, they do not constitute a coherent corpus from a stylistic or a contents point of view.

The second part of the book consists in an insightful analysis of the social and cultural context in which the documents were produced. To begin with, the earlier group of letters, going back to the late 3rd millennium, consists in pleas addressed to the dead by members of his extended family (sons, spouse, dependents), often motivated by troubles menacing the stability of the household: disputed inheritances, debts, protection of the dependents, etc. A crucial element was the accomplishment of the appropriate rites in order to obtain the help of the dead, but also to remind him or her that offerings were subject to the efficacy of the assistance obtained, so libations and presents might be interrupted if the aid failed to appear. To put it in other terms, these texts reproduce the characteristics and tensions typical of social relations where patronage links bounded together extensive households, including not only people of the same family but also a broader network made up of servants, dependents, friends, colleagues, etc. It is not by chance that such links are often evoked in contemporary sources where rituals played an essential role, like the Coffin Texts or some "execration texts" where wet nurses figure prominently in households.4 As a reflection of contemporary social practices, the dead plays the role of patron, the one from whom help is expected in troubled times, but whose authority must be continuously reasserted and legitimized through the efficacy of his measures. On the contrary, the "letters of the dead" from the 2nd and 1st millennium BC lack a comparable stylistic homogeneity, to the point that the author suggests that only two of the five documents analyzed could be considered true "letters to the dead". This leads to a difficult question: did the practice continue uninterrupted over time? Sylvie Donnat suggests —quite sensibly in my opinion— that it was not the case due to the differences between the earlier and the later (and rather more discontinuous) group of texts. In fact she thinks that what reappeared from time to time was the idea of using letters as an appropriate tool to communicate with dead people, even gods.

Finally, the author suggests a sensible link between changes in funerary beliefs and transformations in the political and cultural spheres. While patronage networks provided crucial support for people during the First Intermediate Period, the reconstruction of the monarchy and the centralization of power in the hands of Pharaohs again, during the Middle Kingdom, had a durable impact on funerary beliefs. Cults sponsored by the king (like that of Osiris) and the formation of a Court society, where provincial nobles were integrated and granted honors and recompenses by the king, undermined the influence of local patronage networks and put an end to the letters addressed to the dead. Later on, during the New Kingdom, the emergence of a more direct relation between individuals and gods further restricted the role to be played by deceased relatives. They appeared as potential irascible forces to be appeased instead of powerful mediators between the world of the living and the world of invisible forces.

In the end, Sylvie Donnat deserves our warmest thanks for the task of bringing together a corpus of texts indispensable for the study of the social practices and funerary beliefs during a rather obscure period of Egyptian history. Also for providing a sensible and suggestive analysis of the interactions between the two spheres and for scrutinizing the use of cursive writing in domestic, private activities, far from its more current utilization in administrative documents. Egyptologists, historians and anthropologists will be well repaid to read her book.


1.   Michael Fitzenreiter (ed.), Genealogie — Ralität und Fiktion von Identität (IBAES, 5), London: Golden House Publications, 2005; Michael Höveler-Müller. Funde aus dem Grab 88 der Qubbet el-Hawa bei Assuan (Die Bonner Bestände) (Bonner Sammlung von Aegyptiaca, 5), Wiesbaden: Harrassowtiz, 2006; Paul Whelan, Mere Scraps of Rough Wood? 17th-18th Dynasty Stick Shabtis in the Petrie Museum and Other Collections (GHP Egyptology, 6), London: Golden House Publications, 2007; Antonio J. Morales, "Traces of official and popular veneration to Nyuserra Iny at Abusir. Late Fifth Dynasty to the Middle Kingdom." In: Miroslav Bárta, Filip Coppens, Jaromír Krejčí (eds.), Abusir and Saqqara in the Year 2005, Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology, 2006, p. 311-341.
2.   Detlef Franke, Das Heiligtum des Heqaib auf Elephantine. Geschichte eines Provinzheiligtums im Mittleren Reich (SAGA, 9), Heidelberg: Heidelberger Orientverlag, 1994; Georges Soukiassian, Michel Wuttmann, Laure Pantalacci, Balat, VI : Le palais des gouverneurs de l'époque de Pépy II. Les sanctuaires de ka et leurs dépendances (FIFAO, 46), Cairo: Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale, 2002.
3.   Harco Willems (ed.), Social Aspects of Funerary Culture in the Egyptian Old and Middle Kingdoms (OLA, 103), Leuven: Peeters, 2001; John Baines, Peter Lacovara, "Burial and the dead in ancient Egyptian society: respect, formalism, neglect", Journal of Social Archaeology 2 (2002), 5-36; Heike Guksch, Eva Hofmann, Martin Bommas (eds.), Grab und Totenkult im alten Ägypten, Munich: C. H. Beck, 2003; Janet Richards, Society and Death in Ancient Egypt. Mortuary Landscapes of the Middle Kingdom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005; Juan Carlos Moreno García, "Oracles, ancestor cults and letters to the dead: the involvement of the dead in the public and private family affairs in Pharaonic Egypt." In: Anne Storch (ed.), Perception of the Invisible: Religion, Historical Semantics and the Role of Perceptive Verbs (Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika, 21), Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe, 2010, p. 133-153; Nicola Harrington, Living with the Dead. Ancestor Worship and Mortuary Ritual in Ancient Egypt, Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013.
4.   Georges Posener, "Tablettes-figurines de prisonniers", Revue d'Égyptologie 64 (2013), 135-175. ​

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Eleftheria Paliou, Undine Lieberwirth, Silvia Polla (ed.), Spatial Analysis and Social Spaces: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Interpretation of Prehistoric and Historic Built Environments. Topoi, 18. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2014. Pp. viii, 320. ISBN 9783110265941. $112.00.

Reviewed by Mary Hollinshead, University of Rhode Island (

Version at BMCR home site

Full text (open access)

This volume of ten papers presents analytical modes of studying human experience in the built environment, emphasizing new developments in computer-based methodology. The book results from a 2010 conference, "Spatial Analysis in Past Built Spaces," held in Berlin. The goal is to enrich our understanding of human interaction with structures and spaces (on scales from individual to societal) by including in its study visibility, movement, and accessibility as described by computational techniques.

Most of the papers are based on Space Syntax, the methodology promulgated by Hillier and Hanson in their 1984 book, The Social Logic of Space, founded on the concept that human activity is profoundly affected by the arrangement of buildings and spaces.1 Space Syntax, encompassing access analysis, axial analysis, and visibility analysis, expresses spatial relationships in highly analytical terms, both graphic and algebraic. Although only a few Classical archaeologists have embraced Hillier's model, perhaps owing to a skepticism about theory in general, perhaps because it seemed unduly reductionist, the value of analytical and computational study of ancient sites has gained greater acceptance. Many scholars have welcomed computer-generated reconstructions of structures and sites, and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) has become an essential tool of survey work. This book offers opportunities to see analytical methodologies in action, applied to specific archaeological sites. In addition, new techniques open up possibilities of reconstructing increasingly complex aspects of human behavior. With curiosity and patience, the reader without extensive experience in computational processes will gain important insight into patterns of use at ancient sites and tools for interpretation that merit more attention.

Because Hillier and Hanson enunciated a specialized vocabulary for their practices, and because software programs have their own sets of common phrases, terminology can be a deterrent. However, nearly every author who uses this same specialized vocabulary is careful to explain it, so that the reader can navigate the jargon—but diligence is required. Those familiar with DepthMap and GIS (specifically ArcGIS) will find discussions of methodology more accessible, but every chapter here offers content of value to archaeologists. Paliou's clear, well-written Introduction is a fine guide to the contributions and to the varied computer-based analyses of ancient sites.

The first paper, by Hillier himself, explains Space Syntax and brings it up to date. Starting from the premise that there is a dynamic interaction between space and social relations, Hillier assesses how the configuration of space affects human cognition, summarizing the empirical experience of "inter-visibility" in a mathematical formula. Applying his "spatial laws" to urban sites, Hillier uses DepthMap software to examine patterns of behavior at the societal level, acknowledging the agency of human participants, but focusing on quantifiable information.

Using Hillier's methods as a starting point, contributors to this volume aspire to maximize understanding of human interaction with the built environment in antiquity on multiple scales. They evaluate visuality and intervisibility, now including three-dimensional views and lighting effects so as to project patterns of use for individuals, and more broadly, of function and interaction at societal levels. Most authors acknowledge the importance of integrating their methods with social theory and contextual archaeological information, and many incorporate all to some degree in their papers.

In the second paper, Letesson applies Hillier's methods to Minoan architecture, observing a diachronic change from vernacular structures to more intentionally designed architecture, and from individual invention to more widespread societal innovation. He documents the transition from Prepalatial and Protopalatial agglutinative spaces to Neopalatial articulated configurations organized around a central court, finding key traces of this process at Building A of Quartier Mu at Malia, an unusually well preserved site. This article demonstrates the value of integrating analysis of spaces and of the configuration of structures with archaeological data. Letesson argues convincingly that changes in physical manifestations of Neopalatial Minoan culture (such as architecture) suggest incremental development in Crete, and continuity with earlier phases on the island.

Paliou expands the study of visibility in the built environment to include three dimensional analysis, the vertical aspects of structures. Most effectively, she employs computational 3D analysis to reconstruct spatial and viewing experiences at Akrotiri, Thera, noting that inhabitants may have been able to see interior wall paintings from streets outside the buildings, views made possible by open "squares" in the network of streets. She also applies these methods to evaluate the visual experience of women in the gallery of the sixth-century church of San Vitale at Ravenna. Incorporating not only the vertical dimension, but the treatment of materials and surfaces as well, Paliou's contribution makes clear how new techniques can literally provide new perspectives to the interpretation of well known, well documented sites.

Visibility is central to Wheatley's valuable contribution. He notes the comparable methodological and theoretical foundations of Space Syntax with its "isovists," and of GIS-based analysis, with its "viewsheds," and discusses the differing critical reception of each. Wheatley refutes criticisms of maps, GIS-based applications, and the pre-eminence of visuality over sensory and somatic experience in spatial research. He then proposes linking Spatial Syntax and landscape-scale spatial analysis by incorporating more social gradations of distance, using E.T. Hall's proxemics and Higuchi's zones based on human perception so as to find a convergence of scales for these closely related modes of research. 2

Like Letesson, Papadopoulos and Earl base their study on Minoan structures (a house, a workshop, and a burial structure) and like Paliou, they treat three dimensional analysis and visibility. Assuming the importance of visual perception, they take as their subject light and the effects of illumination on the functions of constructed spaces. Using both natural and "flame light," they propose new, revised interpretations for the use of a burial structure at Phourni and an installation for ceramics at Zominthos, and they reconstruct lighting in the living spaces of the North House at Kommos. To obtain the most reliable record of such an intangible but crucial component of human behavior as illumination, they advocate combining physical reconstruction and experimental archaeology with computerized simulation. Like Wheatley, Papadopoulos and Earl seek to find linkage between computer graphics and GIS-based approaches; like Paliou, they seek to analyze all surfaces visible in three dimensional environments, with "texture viewsheds" (derived from computer games) that integrate the visual experience of three dimensional forms with patterns of light.

Fisher's subject is also related to the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean, as he compares buildings at two sites on Cyprus, Kalavasos-Ayios Dimitrios (Building X) and Alassa-Paliotaverna (Building II). Citing the interaction between people as agents and buildings as agents, he contrasts the "biographies" of two structures of similar form, combining practice theory with access analysis so as to explain how buildings express meaning. Fisher emphasizes that structures of similar design and monumentality nevertheless may have different functions and social roles. Using Hillier's terminology, he concludes that, even though they share a genotype, the two buildings represent different phenotypes, or particular expressions of an underlying form.

The challenging paper by Hacigüzeller and Thaler seeks to compare and evaluate analytical methods. They propose "GIS-based metric integration analysis" as an advance over its progenitor, Space Syntax analysis, using case studies at Malia, Building A, Quartier Mu (like Letesson) and the Mycenaean palace at Pylos. Their detailed technical explication makes this the most difficult chapter for the non-expert reader. The challenge of specialized terminology couched in dense prose is intensified by quantities of plans without labels, requiring constant flipping back to the plans with numbered rooms. There are useful insights, such as changes projected for routes of access to the throne room at Pylos, but much of this article requires deep familiarity with methods of spatial computing.

Bintliff's approach differs from the other papers in that his survey of house design at sites in the Aegean proceeds from socio-political information to physical evidence of domestic structures that he adduces to support his stated interpretation. His discussion of access analysis would benefit from a more consistent pairing of the access diagrams with the plans whose patterns they express.

Moving to studies based in Italy, van Nes uses Space Syntax to discern the liveliness of street life in Roman Pompeii. She uses components of Hillier's methods, such as access and angular analysis, to describe spaces within private buildings (micro scale) and the relationship of buildings to streets (macro scale) so as to measure the activity of street life. Assessing the density of entrances and the "intervisibility" of a streetscape, together with contextual archaeological information, she adds predicted patterns of human use to the known network of streets at Pompeii, and to areas yet to be excavated. Although she is not an archaeologist, one would nevertheless expect a more complete history of the site's layout, since the street grid instituted in 80 BCE is so striking. (The major north-south artery is the cardo, not the cardus.)

The final paper by Stöger concentrates on movement and interaction in a single city block (insula IV ii) of Roman Ostia, using Space Syntax to analyze topological and visual patterns. Considering the insula as a single spatial entity, she reconstructs social patterns in an effective combination of streets and courtyards that promote social interaction over the long occupation of the neighborhood. She emphasizes that the advantage of Space Syntax is its premise that buildings, singly or in groups, are best understood as configurations of space.

All of the ancient sites examined here are preserved to an unusual degree, a necessary condition for analyses dependent on a comprehensive set of data. The examples cited are either individual buildings with records of rooms and contents, self-contained units such as neighborhoods, or urban centers with a dense concentration of buildings and streets. Such well-defined environments with ample documentation are primarily urban, and not so common as to allow us to foresee widespread use of the techniques described here for most ancient sites, where configuration is less predictable and datasets are less complete. On the other hand, these studies are forward-looking essays about future prospects, as well as present practice, and there is much to learn here.

The book is attractive and well laid out. All but two of the papers are preceded by abstracts; adding them to the remaining two would have provided consistency. Moreover, allowing slashes between words of equivalent or alternative meaning diminishes the precision of any writing, and should be discouraged. These are minor concerns. Spatial Analysis and Social Spaces represents the method and theory of the 1980s revisited in the next generation with the benefit of advances in software that promise even more information and insights in the future. This book offers up-to-date methods of assessing how humans experience both spaces and structures, and perspectives on what those experiences mean.


1.   Hillier, B., and Hanson, J. 1984. The Social Logic of Space, Cambridge.
2.   Hall, E.T. 1966, The Hidden Dimension New York, NY; Higuchi, T. 1988, The Visual and Spatial Structure of Landscape, Cambridge, MA.

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Josho Brouwers, Henchmen of Ares: Warriors and Warfare in Early Greece . Ancient Warfare special, 4. Rotterdam: Karwansaray Publishers, 2013. Pp. v, 203. ISBN 9789490258078. €29.95.

Reviewed by Christopher Matthew, Australian Catholic University (

Version at BMCR home site

Josho Brouwers's Henchmen of Ares is a recent addition to the growing body of non-scholarly literature examining warfare in the ancient Greek world from earliest times the end of the Classical Period. This work is beautifully presented with magnificent colour illustrations reconstructing the warriors of ancient Greece and images of artefacts and artworks throughout. Text boxes and sidebars scattered across the chapters take the reader to additional information about specific elements of ancient Greek warfare without taking anything away from the flow of the main narrative of the text. The book is well written and easy to read and appears to have been designed with the layman and/or general reader with an interest in this period of history as its target audience. Consequently, this book is not academic in its feel—despite being a reworked version of Brouwers's doctoral dissertation. There are, for example, no references (footnotes or endnotes) within the book, other than in-text citations of key ancient texts when they are quoted within the chapters. Nor is there a list of suggested 'further reading' or a standard bibliography. Rather, the 'bibliographical notes' at the end of the book (pages 150-170) contain pages of discussion of some modern texts which deal with various aspects of the chapters to which they are associated. However, even these notes are in places simplistic in their form and are missing references to some key works relevant to the examined topics.

Nor does the text as a whole engage with many of the scholarly debates which have raged (and in some cases are still raging) over many of the aspects of ancient Greek warfare that are being discussed. There is no in-depth analysis within this work and nothing overly new is presented in the book's pages. Brouwers, possibly due to the intended market for the work, has instead presented a clear, but in some cases one-sided, view of many features to do with the changing nature of ancient Greek warfare. In other cases, where a debate over a certain topic is mentioned, Brouwers does not offer his own view or interpretation of what he perceives to be the correct perspective or argument, and some sides of a multi-viewpoint debate are omitted entirely. Thus, while the material is well-presented and easy to read, the limited engagement with the topic means that the information provided within the book can be, in parts, lacking.

However, a lack of rigorous academic engagement with the subject matter should not detract from the book in its entirety because that is not what the work has set out to be. When viewed as a basic, introductory-level, text detailing the evolution of warfare in early Greece, the book adequately fulfils its role. Those just starting out on their investigation of this fascinating period of human history could do far worse than to use Henchmen of Ares as their starting point.

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G. O. Hutchinson, Greek to Latin: Frameworks and Contexts for Intertextuality. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xii, 438. ISBN 9780199670703. $185.00.

Reviewed by Adam Gitner, Indiana University (

Version at BMCR home site

The cover presents a statuette of Euripides found on Rome's Esquiline Hill, near the Villa Gaetani (Louvre Inv. MA 343 = IGUR IV 1508). Flanking the playwright's chair, an inscribed Greek list of his plays in alphabetic order breaks off mysteriously with the Orestes. Two additional titles are missing, the Chrysippos and the Electra, which belong here if the list were merely an alphabetized record of the poet's oeuvre. Instead it has plausibly been identified as a catalogue, documenting some of the contents of a Greek library that would have once stood in the Horti Maecenatis in the first century AD.1 The sculpture illustrates some of the questions at the heart of Hutchinson's study: Which Greek works were Romans reading, and how were these ranked and classified? Where did Romans encounter Greek literature—both in what kinds of building and in which cities—and under the guidance of what sorts of professionals? Above all, how have these encounters shaped the development of Latin literature?

Whereas many studies of Greco-Roman literary interaction concentrate on a single genre or pairing of authors, Hutchinson aims to describe these interactions both up close and at higher levels of generality by sampling across a wide generic and temporal spectrum. While the range varies by chapter, his remit appears to take in all Latin literature written in prose and verse between roughly Varro and Tacitus. As the cover suggests, Hutchinson also takes a wide view of the social and historical contexts necessary to evaluate such literary interaction. The statuette of Euripides figures alongside the Tabulae Iliacae, literary herms recovered from Italian villas, southern Italian amphitheatres, and numerous inscriptions documenting poetic contests and associations of performers, all of which richly illustrate the social and cultural milieu in which Latin literature developed. Indeed, there are few better places to turn for sociological data about literary production during the period in question—that is, to answer questions such as: at which contests was poetry being performed and by whom? Tellingly, the longest entry of the index locorum contains inscriptions, split about equally between Latin and Greek. Through many individual observations, Hutchinson mounts a sustained argument for the continued relevance of imperial Greek poetry and practice to contemporary Latin writers.

Such a wide angle of vision could easily yield a miscellany rather than a monograph. To keep centrifugal forces in check, Hutchinson has organized the material around four central parameters of literary experience: time, space, words, and genre. While the treatment of these parameters is not meant to be exhaustive, each section synthesizes a vast array of evidence in varying scales and perspectives. The result is not so much a bird's eye view of Greco-Latin literary relations as a set of tracer studies, in which different features of the phenomenon are illuminated. Perhaps as a result, many of the sections or chapters also stand successfully on their own: notably, Part II can be consulted as a prosopography of elite Roman travelers to the Greek-speaking world; chapter 10 ("The Landscape of Prose") discusses the origin and development of Latin prose rhythm (233–38); Part IV offers a new way of mapping and describing ancient genres. To move even briefly in Hutchinson's plenum of knowledge is a humbling experience. It also calls for patience, since the density of information sometimes overwhelms. Yet the density and abundance of citations make it a valuable source of evidence that readers may develop and apply.2

Part I ("Time") examines immanent literary history: the techniques and metaphors Roman writers used to locate themselves in relation to their predecessors, both Greek and Roman. Hutchinson shows how Roman writers represented Greek and Latin literature as paired temporal sequences, which differed in shape and teleological structure, and used these sequences to define their own authorial identity. Whereas Greek literature reached its peak already with Homer, the sequence of Latin literature could be represented as evolving and open-ended. The separation of the literary domains "Greek" and "Latin," already assumed by Terence's prefaces, was not inevitable, as Hutchinson reminds us, and sometimes required considerable artifice to maintain. Among other contributions, there are useful discussions of "old" and "new" as literary keywords (25–26), the meaning of imitari (28–30), which often has a completive aspect ("imitate successfully," "outdo"), and the notion of a literary corpus or σῶμα (20).

In Part II ("Space"), three chapters explore the physical places where educated Romans encountered Greeks and Greek literature. The tour begins domestically in Rome and the Italian countryside and moves progressively farther afield, first to Sicily, mainland Greece, and Rhodes, and eventually to Asia. Here Hutchinson brings literary evidence into productive dialogue with the local archaeological and epigraphic evidence of Roman contact. Thus it is a useful supplement to the dossier assembled in J. Kaimio's, The Romans and the Greek Language (Helsinki, 1979). Much more than just a catalog of Roman tourism, though, it provides a panoramic view of literature as a social activity—performed and consumed in banquets, porticoes, public contests, and theaters across the Mediterranean. While there is little extensive literary interpretation in these chapters, the evidence documents a reciprocal relationship between geographic and literary experience. On the one hand, Greek places seem to validate or authenticate Romans' experience of literature: Cato's trip to Athens in 191 enlightens him about the nature of Greek litterae (ad fil. frg. 1); Virgil wants us to know that the Georgics were written in dulcis Parthenope (4.562–3) and was working on the Aeneid in Greece. On the other hand, Romans experienced Greek places through their literature: Horace's Iccius reads Empedocles in Sicily (epist. 1.12.20) and the speakers in Cicero's De finibus 5 experience Athens through the works of Plato, Sophocles, and Demosthenes among others.

In Parts III ("Words") and IV ("Genre"), we turn from the cultural environment to the content and texture of Latin literature. Under the heading of intertextuality, Hutchinson treats four phenomena, which I find useful to distinguish as follows: the interaction of a Roman text with (1) a specific Greek passage through translation or allusion; (2) the Greek language, for instance by lexical borrowing; (3) a Greek literary style, for example by reproducing Homeric repetitions or the sententiousness of Hellenistic declamation; (4) a Greek genre, for instance by appropriating distinctive features of meter or narrative voice.

Chapter 6 ("Two Languages") catalogues Roman authors who write in Greek either exclusively or within the domain of a Latin text; hence it concerns the second type of interaction enumerated above. By concentrating on elite language use, it complements recent work on multilingualism, where the emphasis has tended to fall on sub-literary texts. Among other matters, Hutchinson discusses the phonological and perceptual distance between the two languages, the foreign quality of Greek proper names (150), the differing tolerance for Greek in text and title or para-text (153), and the aesthetic qualities ascribed to Greek (speed, richness, precision). Chapters 7 ("Transpositions and Triads"), 8 ("Styles and Settings"), and 9 ("Trunks and Branches") treat intertextuality of the more canonical variety: relationships between Latin texts and Greek model(s). Hutchinson gives close attention here to "triads," cases where a Latin text has adopted a Greek model and a later Latin text makes reference to both the original source and the earlier Latin rendition: for instance, Silius (3.518–20), adapting Livy (21.36), adapting Polybius (3.55.5) on Hannibal's crossing of the Alps. Among his findings, Hutchinson shows that the "deictic center" of these texts shifts to Rome and that intra-linguistic intertextuality exhibits closer verbal similarity than transposition from Greek to Latin.

The remaining five chapters are devoted to genre as a descriptive framework and to specific forms of generic interaction. Hutchinson relies throughout on a distinction, which he extrapolates from ancient criticism and practice, between individuals genres, such as pastoral and symboleutic oratory, and higher-order classes he calls "super-genres." In prose these are history, oratory, and philosophy; in poetry these are metrical categories, such as hexameter, elegy, and iambic. Whereas much modern criticism of Latin poetry concerns individual genres, it is the super-genres, or at least the metrical categories, that bulk large in ancient discussions. Hutchinson's attempt to direct attention towards these higher-order categories deserves serious consideration, but I suspect the approach will meet resistance. Is the relationship between genre and "super-genre" as fixed and hierarchical as Hutchinson seems to suggest? A polymetric genre, such as satura or iambi, poses problems for this scheme, which Hutchinson does not fully address (277). Moreover, super-genres, if they are just metrical categories, specify so little about the form and content of individual poems it is hard to imagine them being much use to the working poet. To overcome this difficulty, Hutchinson supplements super-genre with the notion of a poem's "ground," a term he borrows from cognitive grammar to describe the situation or setting of an utterance. Even dissenters from Hutchinson's views on genre will have to reckon with the evidence he assembles: for instance, the tendency he documents for interaction within the super-genre to be "typically more subtle and intimate than interaction outside it" (337).

These notions—genre, super-genre, and ground—provide Hutchinson with the framework he uses to compare what remains of Latin literature with its Greek counterpart. After two chapters, on the prose super-genres and their respective grounds, Hutchinson devotes three chapters to hexametric poetry alone: first surveying the grounds of the six hexametric genres he identifies (narrative, didactic, pastoral, satire, occasional poetry, inscriptions); then describing the proximity of the Latin genres to their Greek counterparts; finally examining the development of these hexametric genres over time and in relation to one another. These chapters range widely and show the value of Hutchinson's framework in drawing attention to unremarked features or patterns within Latin literature. For instance, he notes an increasing "professionalization or confinement to the super-genre" (325) of Latin hexameter poets after Tiberius and draws attention to the fruitful relationship between the hexametric genres of narrative, epigram, and oracle. Also valuable is the attempt to quantify the amount of extant Latin literature produced within given categories (prose at 224–25, hexameter at 275). These few examples provide an inadequate impression of the large territory covered by these chapters and their wealth of observation.


1.   See further Jörn Lang, Mit Wissen geschmuckt? (Wiesbaden 2012), p. 131 n. 1410 (cf. the online catalogue entry), who cites a fragmentary Euripidean catalogue found in the Piraeus (IG II2 2363); if the argument holds, both documents are relevant to Hutchinson's discussion of libraries (12 n. 14, 50, 97).
2.   Another danger in this case is that some of the author's findings in fields such as papyrology and art history may not reach the relevant audience. To publicize these findings and illustrate the book's range, I merely note the following: Hutchinson proposes to identify Euripides as one of the poets portrayed in the Monnus mosaic in Trier (CIL XIII 3710; p. 11); mentions P. Oxy. LXXI 4808 col. i. 9-12 as a source of Quint. inst. 10.1.27–36); provides conjectures for Petr. 48.4 Latinam <, tertiam …>< and Galen Περὶ ἀλυπησίας 13 ἐν τοῖς <μετώποις> (13 n. 14); argues that P. Oxy. LXXI 4808 col. 15-17, used to date the philosopher Clitarchus, has conflated two Clitarchi (14 n. 17); argues on rhythmical grounds that Cicero's De inventione preceded the Rhetorica ad Herennium (235); adds Sen. fr. rhet. 2 Jal to the apparatus testium in Dilts's edition of [Dem.] 11.13 (30 n. 8); notes that P. Oxy. X 1249, an early text of Babrius, "is not necessarily as early as once thought (ii-iii rather than i-ii?)" (145); supports Hartel's conjecture elephantomachi at Liv. 44.41.4; argues pace Strocka that a Pompeiian wall painting of Dido and Aeneas (Casa del Citarista, Pompeii I 4.5, 25, 28 oecus 20, north wall) slightly postdates the Aeneid (171 n. 12).

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Anthony Andurand, Le Mythe grec allemand. Histoire d'une affinité élective. Histoire. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013. Pp. 404. ISBN 9782753528796. €22.00.

Reviewed by Leopoldo Iribarren, Leiden University (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

From the late eighteenth century down to the 1940s, the Hellenic paradigm was decisive in the shaping of Germany's political and cultural identity. Conversely, German influence in the shaping of classical Greek scholarship during that same period can hardly be overestimated. Both cultural phenomena respond to a peculiar "elective affinity" between Germans and ancient Greece, first brought to light by the Goethezeit and ever since bequeathed through generations of scholars. The historical recurrences and actualizations of this affinity, from the Aufklärung to the Nazi period, are the subject matter of Anthony Andurand's book, which originated as a doctoral thesis at the University of Toulouse. The author's objective is twofold: on the one hand, he examines the social function of philhellenism in the construction of Germany's self-perception as a nation; on the other hand, he explores the emergence and institutionalization of Altertumswissenschaft as a consequence of the German-Greek elective affinity. This approach is clearly indebted to Suzanne Marchand's pioneering monograph on the same theme.1 Although sharing a similar perspective, the scope of the two works differs: whereas in Marchand's opinion Greek art lies at the center of German philhellenism (hence her focus on the cultural history of classical archeology), Andurand focuses instead on the cultural history of Altertumswissenschaft as a whole. Paradoxically, such a vast scope weakens this otherwise remarkably informative book. If the author has valid reasons for considering Altertumswissenschaft as a coherent epistemological unity, the historical account of its successive transformations and sociopolitical implications in the longue durée cannot be covered consistently in one single monograph.

The first chapter traces back the origins of German Graecophilia up to the reception of Winckelmann's Gedanken (1755) in the late eighteenth century. In this respect, Andurand does not depart from scholarly consensus. The change of aesthetic paradigm—from Roman to Greek—advocated by Winckelmann receives a political reading in Germany shortly after the French Revolution. Whereas the French actively draw their political models from Roman antiquity, the Germans, horrified by the Reign of Terror in revolutionary France, will seek their own models in Greek antiquity, of which Winckelmann gave a characteristically "serene" image. In this chapter, Andurand also discusses the prominent part played by Wilhelm von Humboldt in providing a theoretical foundation for the Greek affinity in the early nineteenth century. In Humboldt's philosophy—only superficially discussed by Andurand—the topic of a linguistic kinship between Greek and German is coupled with a kinship of "national characters". At a less speculative level, Prussia's defeat by Napoleon at Jena (1806) offers Humboldt a concrete analogy to his theory: Jena is to Prussia what Chaeronea was to Greece in 338 BCE. In both cases, the lack of a solid national unity and the cult of individualism led to the loss of political independence. Like Greece, Germany is a politically fragmented nation which nevertheless manifests a cultural unity. In Humboldt's opinion, political division, far from being an obstacle, is a condition for the achievement of a superior culture: one embedded in agonistic emulation—a topic later developed by Burkhardt. Greece thus provides the model for a Bildung that will ultimately help Germany define itself not as a Staatsnation (exemplified by Rome and France), but as a Kulturnation. This chapter, which betrays the influence of Jean Quillien's remarkable work,2 argues in favour of a strong influence of Demosthenes on Humboldt's historical model.

The institutional context of Humboldtian neo-humanism is treated in chapter 2. Some very interesting pages are devoted to the reform of the Prussian educational system (1809-10), oriented by the classical Bildung ideal. Not only does Graecophilia become a national institution, but Prussians use it as a dialectical vehicle for better knowledge of themselves. As E. Curtius (1853) will famously put it: durch die Griechen zu uns selbst zurück (quoted in p. 79). The German specificity, theorized in those years by J. G. Fichte (1807-08), mirrors itself in the Greek specificity scrutinized in philology seminars. One may regret, however, that Andurand's otherwise fine analysis of the classical Bildung does not take into account its confessional dimension. In order to fully grasp German philhellenism as a cultural phenomenon, it should be situated within the larger context of Kulturprotestantismus. Greek was, to some extent, the language of Protestantism; in Catholic Germany, piety prevented access to Greek culture without Roman mediation.

The constitution of the Altertumswissenschaft as a coherent epistemological totality is the subject matter of chapter 3. Not surprisingly, a fair amount of the discussion concerns the role played by F. A. Wolf's Darstellung (1807) in the definition of the object of study of the new science. In Wolf's programmatic text, Antiquity is not only a historically determined notion, but also a normative one, to the extent that it excludes Oriental civilizations for not qualifying as Geistkulturen, a status only attained by the Greeks and Romans. Within the sciences of antiquity, philology, defined as the historical science of texts, ensures the unity of the whole, therefore subsuming all the other classical disciplines. Thought-provokingly, though not totally convincingly, Andurand argues that the unity of Altertumswissenschaft in the intellectual sphere reflects the aspirations of the Germans in the political sphere.

In the context of Prussian militarism, Humboldt's ideal of a Kulturnation compensating for the lack of a Staatsnation had, predictably enough, a limited ideological impact. Within that historical context, chapter 4 discusses other modes of German identification to the Greek paradigm. One of them was provided by J. G. Droysen's valorization of the Hellenistic period (1836-43). Considered by previous scholarship as a period of decline, the Macedonian rule becomes in Droysen's perspective—strongly influenced by Hegel—the model of an accomplished political unity under a single authority. The Hellenistic model, however, will not prevail in mid-nineteenth century Germany. The reason for this, Andurand argues compellingly, is that prominent German classicists (F. A. Wolf, K. O. Müller, et al.) considered Macedonians not as Greeks, but as barbarians. As only a "purely Greek" model could adequately serve Germany's political aspirations, Pericles' Athens will remain the governing idea for national unity, at least until the end of the First World War.

Chapter 5 is devoted to the historicist dimension of Altertumswissenschaft and its effects on Romantic Graecophilia. From the perspective opened by the works of A. Boeckh and J. G. Droysen, to name just two examples of nineteenth-century historicism, the Greek equation between beauty and liberty falls apart. In Andurand's opinion, a historically based knowledge of Greek art and society, as opposed to the idealized constructions of the Romantics, led to the "disenchanted" and "pessimist" image of Greece that characterized fin de siècle German scholarship, embodied by Burckhardt and Nietzsche. The causal connection proposed by Andurand between the triumph of historicism and the "pessimist" Greece championed by Burckhardt and Nietzsche seems rather far-fetched. In order to understand these authors' "pessimist" Hellenism properly, their work has to be situated within the larger context of German Kulturpessimismus. How this Zeitgeist modeled Burckhardt's and Nietzsche's perception of the Greek past is, in my opinion, the question that needed to be addressed here.

Chapter 6 examines the significant transformation of the Greek paradigm witnessed in the period going from the foundation of the Wilhelmian Reich (1871) down to the First World War. A considerable amount of research is devoted here to U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff who, besides being the most accomplished philologist of his generation, reshaped the Greek paradigm in order to fit Prussia's imperial aims. Within the new national Bildung that resulted from the Gymnasium reform of 1880-90, the status of classical Greece changed from cultural ideal to imperial model. A most engaging section of this chapter is dedicated to the active part played by Wilamowitz and other prominent classicists such as E. Meyer in the promotion of German expansionism in 1914-18. To use Wilamowitz's own terms, a "fraternal alliance (Verbrüderung) between militarism and science" prevailed in those days.3 On the other hand, when faced with an unprecedented conflict that actually ravaged the cultural unity of Europe, classicists would turn in despair to Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian War as a source for understanding their present tragedy. Classical Greece will provide Germany with yet another convenient analogy to overcome political failure: 1918 was to Imperial Germany what 404 BCE was to Imperial Athens.

As shown in the seventh and last chapter of the book, the post-war period favored a renewed interest in Greek political and pedagogical thought, exemplified in Wilamowitz's Platon (1919) and W. Jaeger's Paideia (1934- 44). Plato, read mainly as a political philosopher, becomes a central figure of German philhellenism in the interwar years. Some interesting discussion is devoted to Jaeger's ephemeral "Third Humanism" movement, its early critics (notably B. Snell) and its "adaptability" to the Third Reich's objectives (revealed by W. M. Calder III). Concerning Jaeger, one may regret that Andurand did not take into account A. Follak's study of the German reception of Plato's pedagogy. 4 Her book provides an excellent analysis of the intellectual background — namely F. Schleiermacher and P. Natorp — against which Jaeger inscribed his own "Platonic" ideal of education. The last section of the chapter is devoted to the Nazi ideology's relationship to Altertumswissenschaft, a complex subject on which the author confines himself to re-interpreting the findings of V. Losemann and B. Näf.5 As the latter conclude, although a large percentage of the classicists remaining in Germany after 1933 were not actively hostile to the regime, only a minority made actual attempts to Nazify Altertumswissenschaft. Reaching the end of this last chapter, one cannot help thinking of the prominent role that Greek themes played in Heidegger's philosophy, which goes unmentioned in this book. But that is perhaps a case study in itself, one that deserves its own monograph.

In its aim to define the interactions between cultural forms and sociopolitical phenomena in the longue durée, a study of this kind courts a considerable risk: that of failing to establish the complex balance between the social impact of ideas and the influence historical events have on them. Andurand, aware of this risk, succeeds nevertheless in providing us with a remarkable study, not lacking in original insights and thought-provoking suggestions.


1.   Suzanne Marchand, Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750-1970, Princeton (1996).
2.   Jean Quillien, G. de Humboldt et la Grèce, Lille (1983).
3.   Cf. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, "Wissenschaft und Militarismus", in Reden aus der Kriegszeit, Berlin (1915). Discussed by Andurand on pp. 294-303.
4.   Andrea Follak, Der "Aufblick zur Idee". Eine vergleichende Studie zur Platonischen Pädagogik bei Friedrich Schleiermacher, Paul Natorp und Werner Jaeger, Göttingen (2005). See BMCR 2006.01.19.
5.   Volker Losemann, Nationalsozialismus und Antike. Studien zur Entwicklung des Faches Alte Geschichte 1933- 1945, Hamburg (1977). Beate Näf, Von Perikles zu Hitler? Die athenische Demokratie und die deutsche Althistorie bis 1945, Bern, Frankfurt am Main, New York (1986).

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Karl Galinsky (ed.), Memoria Romana: Memory in Rome and Rome in Memory. Supplements to the Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 10. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, for the American Academy in Rome, 2014. Pp. xiii, 193. ISBN 9780472119431. $85.00.

Reviewed by Caroline Vout, University of Cambridge (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Memoria Romana is a book born of a conference held at the American Academy in Rome in 2011 as part of its editor Karl Galinsky's research project of the same name, initiated in 2009 by the award of a Max-Planck Prize for International Cooperation. It brings young and established scholars in Roman history, literature and art together with the architect and designer Daniel Libeskind to demonstrate how scholarship's ongoing obsession with Gedächtnisgeschichte or "memory studies" might bear fruit for ancient Rome, the recollection of which has, since the Renaissance at least, sustained western culture. Montaigne is an eloquent spokesperson for this kind of fashioning when he claims: "I knew the Capitol and its plan before I knew the Louvre, and the Tiber before the Seine. I had more in my head about the conditions and fortunes of Lucullus, Metellus and Scipio than I did about the men of our day".1 But it is not only those who work on Reception who would benefit from a more self-conscious understanding of what it is that is, and, crucially, is not, being revived in each and every engagement with the Antique.2 Ancient historians have much to learn from better understanding how the memories of the artists and authors who now constitute their primary sources were shaped and shared, how and why Romans remembered, and how these processes of remembering differed from what they then chose to inscribe, and forget. At least from the time of Ennius, Rome's present was always also its past. By the Principate, the reality of autocracy and the extent of the "Augustan building programme" had so amended the Urbs as to make instinctive insight into its past life increasingly difficult and the need for continuity more urgent. Small wonder that the Res Gestae takes refuge in a language of "re- building" and that the first building it lists is the curia. By the time its words were displayed publicly, Augustus himself was a memory, and his "memoirs" the script for ongoing imperium.

Memory points forwards as well as backwards. Yet in the first of the book's eleven chapters, "The Memory of Rome in Rome", Richard Jenkyns argues that the concept of the eternal city is "a concept of indefinite duration in the future, not of a past unfathomably deep" (19). He deploys an impressive range of authors to draw an important distinction between posterity's packaging of Rome as the ultimate palimpsest, and ancient Rome's perception of its own urban fabric – namely that for all of the energy expended on age and ancestors, there was little sense that "the scars and wrinkles of age were a proper part of a building's maturation" (17), nor that rebuilding of the kind practised by Augustus diminished any kind of aesthetic appreciation that might accompany a structure's antiquity. This is not to say that there are no lieux de mémoire in Jenkyns' Rome, the maintenance of which was paramount, Romulus' hut on the Palatine being a case in point, but that "visual pleasure" was not what made them worthy of investment or admiration. Not even Virgil, in the dialogue he creates between pre-Rome and present Rome, quite sees "accumulation in the visible fabric of the city" (26).

Jenkyns is surely right to stress that Rome's relationship to its built environment is different from our relationship to it, and to our own material culture. Rare indeed are the examples of buildings, paintings or sculptures in Pliny's Natural History that are notable simply for being old, a realization with interesting implications for recent work on "ruins" in Roman painting.3 But Jenkyns perhaps overstates the insignificance of authenticity: the ancient ignorance about the attribution of the Niobid group in the Temple of Apollo Sosianus that he highlights is in a passage of Pliny that complains that there was just too much statuary and too much to do in Rome to give sculpture the study it deserved (NH 36.27), while for Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1.79.11), repairing Romulus' hut meant respecting its holiness, and respecting its holiness, "healing" it "completely" (ἐξακούμενοι) and restoring it as accurately as possible. Emphasise this, and we reconvene with modern connoisseurship, conservation and heritage.

If Jenkyns delicately queries the role that Rome's urban fabric played in recalling its past, Peter Wiseman rallies to smash the notion that collective memory resides in the stones of the city. But before he is given the opportunity, Harriet Flower, whose prior work on memory-sanctions has done much to insist on the cultural specificity of Roman memory, changes tack to raise the crucial question of when and why autobiographical writing first emerged in Rome. Her answer is in around 100 BCE, when Q. Lutatius Catulus saw the genre as way of securing a stronger position for himself in the past, present and future, in the wake of Marius' prominence. Although the loss of Catulus' text prevents a detailed analysis of exactly how "memory studies" put his person(ality) back into history, the fact that he experimented with two forms of autobiographical expression—a letter to the Senate and a more personal memoir, written in the style of Xenophon—creates space for some suggestive comments about culture's impact (both Roman and Greek) on experience, and experience on culture.

As we slide from section one, "Rome: Memory and Memoirs", to section two, "Memoria in Ancient Rome", we come to the book's central showdown. Wiseman's objections are necessary if Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp is to reassert the wisdom of an approach outlined in his 2006 essay, "History and Collective Memory in the Middle Republic",4 and the usefulness of Jan Assmann, Pierre Nora and Reinhard Koselleck's theoretical templates. Wiseman, who favours the term "popular memory" to the overly homogenous "collective memory", is devoted to exposing competing, especially non- elite, forms of remembering, and the significance of oral and performative culture (in particular ludi) over and above the literary or the monumental. But in the process of stressing process, he sometimes risks being too reductive and "doing material culture in". Of course, many of the lieux de memoires that attract the scholars' gaze are reminders of the individual aristocrats whose lives they commemorate in their inscriptions, but to overstate this is to underestimate the polyvalence of any artefact's visual properties and the loquaciousness of its relationship to other artefacts and to a range of viewers. One does not have to think that a monument "embodies" or "carries" memory (44) to follow Hölkeskamp's lead—not only because "the key concept is interdependence—it is the complex interplay of written texts and oral tradition… of symbolically charged places and spaces, monuments..." (70), but because monuments emote rather than transmit information.

Gianpiero Rosati is the Lepidus of section two's Triumvirate, offering no contest, but dipping his toes into the pools of memory and power, memory and intertextuality, and memory and ekphrasis. His chapter, "Memory, Myth, and Power in Statius' Silvae" shows how the Silvae perform a mediatory role in the construction of cultural memory —an imperative that was perhaps particularly pressing in a new, post-Neronian Rome under the freshly formed Flavian dynasty.

Section three admits to being about art and topography proper, and again embraces three papers. Chapter six is by Diane Favro, who applies her distinctive mix of vivid narrative and architectural vision to the institution of the Roman triumph and to the ways in which the movement of triumphal processions, and the movement encouraged by depictions of processions, functioned as a powerful mnemonic to bind people, past and present, together.5 In chapter eight, Anna Anguissola warns us not to let scholarship's recent revision of Roman "copies" as imaginative, playful "versions", productive of new meaning,6 blind us to Rome's concurrent love of "true copies", which with freer imitations of opera nobilia, "were among the most efficient aides-mémoire in the visual practice of the Romans" (120). Her case-studies, the funerary altar of Ti. Octavius Diadumenus and the Palazzo Pitti's Resting Hercules, remember different things of their originals, but both raise issues beyond her analysis: issues about what kind of knowledge or experience is encoded in replication specifically, especially if the prestige of the form in question resides ultimately in fifth-century Greece or in the Hellenistic court, and how this fits with the sorts of memory debated by Hölkeskamp, Wiseman and Jenkyns. Between Favro and Anguissola, Jessica Hughes takes us forward to late antiquity when Rome began obviously to cannibalize its own material culture, incorporating sculptural elements from the capital's older imperial structures into its new ones. Whether ideology or exigency, re-positioning these elements in immediately alien environments made their style more vocal, no more so than next to the Tetrarchic frieze on the Arch of Constantine. This monument's use of spolia has been well discussed of late,7 and Hughes offers several ways in which memory studies can elucidate the dynamic of viewing such a monument. She ends by highlighting how the episodic nature of the arch's spolia contrasts to the recent past as captured in the continuous narrative of the frieze, mirroring the difference between adult memories and eidetic, fragmentary childhood memories. It is regrettable that the book does not move into Christian culture to examine what happens to memory with ideological schism.8

The book's final section, "Ancient and Modern Memories", attempts to make memory central to the Classicist's 'backwards glance' towards ancient Rome, but the contributions are too 'niche' to speak to ongoing interrogations of what 'reception studies' is. As an exploration of how the Aventine and Monte Sacro become, and are even now, imbued with ideological meaning, Lisa Marie Mignone's chapter is technically excellent, but its focus is inevitably narrow. Bernard Frischer eloquently defends Archaeology's love-affair with interactive 3-D digital technology: in his sophisticated hands, the versions of the past that it allows us to experience amount to "an updated form of mnemotechnics" (162). I remain a skeptic: if it is ways of seeing and of remembering one wants, I prefer the rich elusiveness of Statius' poetry.

There is no overarching conclusion, and no index, just an epilogue. Here Libeskind speaks meaningfully and movingly about the role of memory in his architectural projects. There is no denying the ways in which structures such as his Felix Nussbaum house in Osnabrück unsettle the visitor with their spatial collisions and claustrophobia, or, in the case of his Military History Museum in Dresden, by pointedly plotting the impact of the Allied bombing so as to have it illuminate and splinter the very fabric. For evidence of the power of memory, this is the best essay in the volume. It is certainly the only one that is elegiac. But one cannot help feeling that it also constitutes a missed opportunity. Libeskind has a prestigious portfolio of public talks to his name, many of them about the projects he discusses here, and some of them published.9 Yet any link between these projects, memory in Rome and Rome in memory, remains embedded, and this despite the fact that 2013 saw the first exhibition of his architectural drawings in a gallery close to the multi-layered remains of the Porticus Octaviae.10 The palimpsestic nature of the centro storico means that opportunities for new architectural interventions are rare, and exceptions controversial – none more so than Richard Meier's Museum of the Ara Pacis and its curatorship of Fascist and imperial pasts. Beyond the centro, concert-halls and art- galleries continue to be built, but are better at preserving the artistic genius of Piano and Hadid than they are Rome's residual Roman-ness.

This failure to capitalize on the potential of Libeskind's piece holds for the volume as a whole. The lack of coherence leaves us, like the spolia of Hughes's article, with a set of fragments, too few of them momentous enough to top subject-specific bibliographies (on the Triumph, the Silvae, the Roman-ness of Roman art), and none theoretically innovative enough on its own to mould Roman memory studies. Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies this book isn't.11 Memory may well have "defined Roman civilization", as Galinsky's opening sentence states, but the singularity of "memoria Romana" merits deeper meditation.

Table of Contents

List of Figures vii
List of Contributors ix
Preface and Acknowledgments xiii
Introduction, Karl Galinsky 1
Part i Rome: Memory and Memoirs
1 The Memory of Rome in Rome, Richard Jenkyns 15
2 Memory and Memoirs in Republican Rome, Harriet I. Flower 27
Part ii Memoria in Ancient Rome
3 Popular Memory, T. P. Wiseman 43
4 In Defense of Concepts, Categories, and other Abstractions:
Remarks on a Theory of Memory (in the Making), Karl-J. Hölkeskamp..63
5 Memory, Myth, and Power in Statius's Silvae, Gianpiero Rosati 71
Part iii Memoria in Roman Art and Topography
6 Moving Events: Curating the Memory of the Roman Triumph, Diane Favro 85
7 Memory and the Roman Viewer: Looking at the Arch of Constantine, Jessica Hughes 103
8 Remembering with Greek Masterpieces: observations on Memory and Roman Copies, Anna Anguissola 117
Part iv Ancient and Modern Memories
9 Remembering a Geography of Resistance: Plebeian Secessions, Then and Now, Lisa Marie Mignone 137
10 Cultural and Digital Memory: Case Studies from The Virtual World Heritage Laboratory, Bernard Frischer 151
11 Memorials and Their Voices, Daniel Libeskind 165
Bibliography 177


1.   Essais 209, De la Vanité.
2.   See e.g. James I. Porter, "Reception Studies: Future Prospects", in Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray (edd.), A Companion to Classical Receptions. Malden, MA and Oxford, 2008, pp. 469-81, Charles Martindale, "Reception", in Craig W. Kallendorf (ed.), A Companion to the Classical Tradition. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 297-311 and Basil Dufallo (ed.) Roman Error: the Reception of Rome as a Flawed Model (forthcoming), the contribitions to which are summarized in Bollettino di studi latini 44.1, 2014, pp. 195-200.
3.   I thank my PhD student Alina Kozlovski for this point. For the concept of "ruins" in Roman painting, Isabella Colpo, Ruinae... et putres robore trunci. Paesaggi di rovine e rovine nel paesaggio nella pittura romana (I secolo a.C.-I secolo d.C.). Rome: Quasar, 2010.
4.   In Nathan Rosenstein and Robert Morstein-Marx (edd.) A Companion to the Roman Republic. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, pp. 478-95.
5.   Extant literary evidence goes against Favro's claim (89) that "observers did not sit still but were themselves in motion" by emphasizing how processions moved past them.
6.   E.g. Ellen Perry, The Aesthetics of Emulation in the Visual Arts of Ancient Rome Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005, and Miranda Marvin, The Language of the Muses: The Dialogue Between Greek and Roman Sculpture. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.
7.   See e.g. Paolo Liverani and Hugo Brandenburg's contributions to Richard Brilliant and Dale Kinney (edd.) Reuse Value: Spolia and Appropriation in Art and Architecture from Constantine to Sherrie Levine. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.
8.   Although I note that the Memoria Romana project has also produced Memory in Ancient Rome and Early Christianity, forthcoming.
9.   See e.g. Daniel Libeskind, "Architectural Space", in François Penz, Gregory Radick and Robert Howell (edd.), Space in Science, Art and Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 46-68.
10.   Never Say the Eye is Rigid: Architectural Drawings of Daniel Libeskind, Ermanno Tedeschi Gallery, Rome, from 11 March 2013.
11.   David Cannadine and Simon Price (edd.), Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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Friday, January 30, 2015


Zeev Weiss, Public Spectacles in Roman and Late Antique Palestine. Revealing antiquity, 21. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2014. Pp. xii, 361. ISBN 9780674048317. $49.95.

Reviewed by Hazel Dodge, Trinity College Dublin (

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The study of games and spectacles in the Roman world has been the subject of a number of excellent publications in the last two decades. These range from works focussed on a particular type of spectacle (in particular the perennially fascinating gladiatorial combat, such as Dunkle's book on gladiators), to more general treatments, such as Jacobelli's on Pompeii.1 These entertainments were a fundamental part of Roman culture from the early Republic to the 6th century CE, but their popularity manifested itself in different ways across the Roman Empire, a phenomenon difficult to address in a publication with more general coverage.

Zeev Weiss's Public Spectacles in Roman and Late Antique Palestine therefore is a welcome addition to the current scholarship on the subject. It discusses the range of public entertainment that flourished in Palestine from the first century BCE to the sixth century CE, as well as the venues in which they occurred. It draws on a wealth of original archaeological and textual evidence, particularly the Jewish rabbinic and Talmudic sources so that the spectacles staged in Roman Palestine can be assessed against their specific regional and multicultural background. The material of several of the chapters has been published before in article form, but this has been up-dated, for the most part, to include the most recent evidence and scholarship.

In his introduction Weiss sets out the scope and raison-d'être of his study. He states that his approach is different from that of many other scholars in that he discusses all the building types in the region designated for public spectacles along with the range of performances and competitions that they accommodated. This is indeed a major step in the right direction. Buildings and the spectacles they hosted are discussed separately, but so much can be learned about one from a study of the other. The geographical area covered is Palestine in the Roman period, effectively the area of the modern state of Israel, with reference to the cities of the Decapolis (thus extending to the southernmost part of modern Syria and the western part of central Jordan) for comparison and contextualisation. A map is provided (Figure 2.1, incidentally the only map in the volume), but it is very unclear This makes for a rather artificial, even anachronistic, set of physical boundaries that creates problems for some of Weiss' more general observations and conclusions about spectacles and spectacle buildings. He does try to set what occurs in Palestine against the evidence for the eastern Mediterranean more generally, but this is not pursued in a very systematic way. The provision, design and nature of the venues themselves in particular cannot be discussed in relative regional isolation from the rest of the eastern provinces. Although, to be sure, there were spatial differences (as elsewhere, not only in the wider region, but also across the Roman world), the population of Palestine, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, seems to have embraced entertainments in much the same way as elsewhere in the Roman East. The educated elites, responsible for much of the documentary evidence, were similarly critical of the spectacles and the spectators in both Palestine and the wider Roman East.

The volume has a clear structure. It is divided into six chapters following the introduction. Chapter 1 explores the introduction of spectacles into Palestine under Herod in the context of his relations with Rome. This was a significant time for the region, politically and socially. Weiss's approach combines an examination of the range of performances with a discussion of the physical structures provided by Herod, particularly at Caesarea, Jericho and Jerusalem, but also at Samaria-Sebaste and Herodium. Weiss provides a very useful discussion of the political and cultural context of these key developments along with the important archaeological evidence that has resulted from recent archaeological discoveries at these sites. Chapter 2 discusses the physical and cultural context of the construction of the venues associated with games and spectacles. It enumerates the theatres, hippodromes (circuses) and amphitheatres constructed within the cities of the region. Not surprisingly, much of the architectural provision took place in centres with more direct Roman agency, such as Caesarea, Gerasa and Scythopolis, rather than specific Jewish centres such as Jerusalem and Sepphoris. Theatres are most numerous, an observation which can be made of the Roman world generally, not just the Roman East, and they seem to follow similar design models. The provision of other buildings, such as the amphitheatre and circus, is indicative of a closer engagement with Roman culture by the urban elites.

In Chapter 3, Weiss explores the entertainments themselves. He begins with a discussion of theatrical displays before moving on to athletic competitions and chariot races in the circus. He then concludes with spectacles associated with the amphitheatre. Weiss observes a definite regional character to the activities on offer, although in fact a broadening of the discussion would have found strong similarities in this respect with other parts of the eastern Mediterranean world at this time. Some attention is given to how these spectacles were actually accommodated physically in the different venues, but the discussion, with the exception of the situation at Caesarea with its "hippo-stadium," tends to rely on the traditional modern attribution of entertainments: drama, mimes, etc., in the theatre; chariot racing in the circus; gladiators in the amphitheatre, etc.

Chapter 4 discusses the finances behind the construction of the venues as well as the provision of the displays in each locale. In Chapter 5, Weiss focuses on the relationship between Jewish society and Roman entertainment in Late Antiquity. He provides an in-depth discussion of the Jewish literary sources and the light they shed on rabbinic attitudes towards Roman public entertainment.

Chapter 6 provides a concluding assessment of the final phase of entertainment and performance in Palestine in Late Antiquity. At this time Jewish and Christian attitudes towards the spectacles and those involved in them ran in parallel, at least according to the literary texts, although the buildings tell a story of adaptation and remodeling, a process that may actually have started earlier.

Overall, this is an extremely well-researched and valuable study of the subject, but there are two major issues of concern. The geographical scope of the volume is understandable and indeed some limits were necessary to ensure it did not become too unwieldy. However, such Roman entertainments, their venues and context cannot properly be understood without the broader context of the eastern Mediterranean being taken into account. The provision of amphitheatres in particular needs to be discussed in the context of adaptation of other entertainment buildings (such as theatres, stadia and circuses) for use in the staging of munera. This phenomenon is now well-known and still much discussed in studies of the Roman East. Weiss acknowledges the problem of the accessibility, for non-Hebrew specialists, of many of the written sources that are specific to the region; although full references are given, much of this material is still very difficult to access.

The second issue relates to the physical description of the venues themselves. It is generally accepted that each building type can be defined in very distinct architectural terms with apparently clearly defined functions; the theatre for drama, the stadium for athletics, and the circus for chariot and horse racing. These Roman period building classes (theatre, amphitheatre, circus, stadium) therefore have a recognisable and definable form, and a primary function that is defined and acknowledged in modern scholarship. A particular challenge for the study of entertainment structures in the Eastern Provinces is the employment of specific terminology that attempts to describe both the architectural design and the performances that the structures accommodated. It is known from the excellent Caesarea excavations that Herod built the long structure with a curved end that is connected to his palace and runs parallel with the shore. Following Josephus, it may be inferred that this structure was used for a variety of quite different entertainments that Herod staged in 11 BCE (AJ 16.136-138; BJ 1.415). Its architectural form is that of a circus, admittedly a little short compared to the Circus Maximus (290m vs 600m), but in fact longer that the circus at Gerasa (the shortest so far recorded at 244m). Although Weiss makes the important point that many of the venues were used for a range of spectacles (something demonstrable across the Roman world in fact), he uses the term "hippo-stadium", referring more to the displays that the building accommodated. This term was first coined in the 1990s2 in an attempt to clarify the nature of the Caesarea and similar structures, but its very inexactitude is more of a hindrance than a help.

Weiss' text is not well supported by the illustrations. The quality of the one map has already been mentioned. The black and white photographs are often very grainy, and the inclusion of more plans to accompany them would have been useful, particularly as some of these sites are only published in more specialist bibliography that is not easily accessible, at least for now. The publisher's house style of not providing an end-bibliography, but including all the bibliographical material in the references (which, it should be observed, are very full and immensely useful) means that it can be frustratingly difficult to find the full details of a particular work.

This is an immensely useful volume that gives access to important Hebrew sources and publications. In some respects, the book has limitations in geographical scope and perception. There are frequent general references back to the situation in Rome. While these are often valuable, notably in relation to Herod's activities, recent studies of Roman imperial culture stress diversity of regional development as opposed to core-periphery models. Despite being critical of the approaches of other scholars, Weiss still falls into similar traps of traditional architectural simplification and cultural categorisation. Nevertheless, Weiss must be congratulated for this very important study, which represents a significant contribution to the study of spectacles and entertainments in the Roman world.


1.   L. Jacobelli, Gladiators at Pompeii, trans. M. Becker, Los Angeles 2003; R. Dunkle, Gladiators. Violence and Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Harlow 2008.
2.   J. Humphrey, "Amphitheatrical Hippo-Stadia", in A. Raban and K. G. Holum (ed.), Caesarea Maritima : a retrospective after two millennia, Leiden 1996, 121-129.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015


Koen De Temmerman, Crafting Characters: Heroes and Heroines in the Ancient Greek Novel. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xxi, 395. ISBN 9780199686148. $150.00.

Reviewed by William M. Owens, Ohio University (

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Koen De Temmerman's Crafting Characters provides the first comprehensive study of the characterization of the protagonists and the techniques of characterization in the five surviving Greek novels. The author's reading of these novels significantly advances our understanding of characterization in the genre. Characterization is a complex theme. Human character—the product of both nature and culture and a phenomenon that may be viewed from the perspectives of intellect, morality, and psychology—is itself complex. The study of literary characterization is even more complicated, in that it also involves questions that concern the nature of literary representation. An ancient literary genre adds a final layer of complexity, because, as De Temmerman notes, modern concepts of character do not easily map on to the way character was conceived by ancient authors.

De Temmerman notes appropriate comparisons with characterization in ancient epic, drama, and biography, but this is not a book that compares characterization across genres at length. De Temmerman describes characterization in the novels as both a mimetic and a semantic process. The protagonists are fictional analogues of human beings. At the same time, they are not real people, but rather exist in the context of the text, depending on and interacting with other literary elements. Thus De Temmerman emphasizes that characterization in the novels is a rhetorical product, both value-laden and ambiguous. This premise—which is also a conclusion—aligns with the author's methodology and the structure of the book. A detailed introduction considers ancient and modern notions of character, the nature of the literary representation of character, particularly in narration, and techniques of ethopoeia, the means by which character was constructed in ancient rhetorical theory. In the chapters that follow, De Temmerman examines each novel in a close reading that draws on modern narratology and ancient rhetorical theory: Chariton's Callirhoe, Xenophon of Ephesus's Ephesiaca, Achilles Tatius's Leucippe and Clitophon, Longus's Daphnis and Chloe, and Heliodorus's Aethiopica. This order reflects the present consensus for the chronology of the novels. A helpful summary concludes the book.

In his readings De Temmerman emphasizes how characterization emerges from the process of narration itself. As we read the text we assemble the associations and attributes of a given character into an integrated whole. The novels' authors themselves inform their protagonists' characters through both direct and indirect means. Direct characterization tended to associate the protagonists with moral and cultural qualities such as eugeneia, sōphrosynē, and paideia. But in De Temmerman's careful readings, more important than the direct assertion of character were the indirect methods which implied character through metaphor and metonymy, through shifting focalization, and within intra- and intertextual associations. These indirect methods lie at the heart of the rhetorical character of characterization. In addition, indirect characterization destabilizes the certainties of direct characterization. Through his Ethiopian heroine Chariclea, Heliodorus calls into question the quality of eugeneia, normatively conceived as a variety of Greek nobility. In Chariton, focalization through Chaereas raises questions about Callirhoe's sōphrosynē. Longus questions the ways in which paideia makes a difference, or does not, in the character of Daphnis. When all is said and done, character remains elusive and indeterminate.

De Temmerman articulates his readings with reference to three principal axes: character as type or individual; character as idealized or realistic; finally, character as static or dynamic, whether a protagonist remains the same or evolves over the course of the novel. A focus on overt characterization tends to favor the first end of each axis. The characters in the Greek novels, especially the protagonists, have been viewed as static and idealized literary stereotypes. Rohde's view of the novels' protagonists as seelenlose Gestalten, while extreme, has retained its influence. Through his careful close reading of the indirect means of characterization, De Temmerman makes a sustained and persuasive case for the other end of each axis. There are exceptions. The author accepts the paradoxical consensus view that Longus's novel, an Erziehungsroman that represents Daphnis' and Chloe's psychological states as they undergo their education in social mores and erōs, does not depict these protagonists as particular individuals but rather as types: the male and female versions of elites endowed with innate nobility and simple rusticity. And it is difficult to see how Clitophon, that most self-centered of narrators, has changed at the end of his story. But in general De Temmerman's readings leave us with protagonists who have been individualized, who seem endowed with psychological realism, and who change over the course of the narrative. Crafting Characters thus offers an important revision of our understanding of characterization in the novels.

The readings themselves are theoretically rich, densely argued, and meticulously researched. The bibliography, which approaches a thousand items, reflects De Temmerman's extensive reading in character theory, narratology, ancient rhetorical theory, and previous scholarship in the novels. Because characterization is enmeshed with the other constituent elements of narration, such as plot, time, and action, these readings do more than analyze characterization. They are proper readings in their own right. However, no one reader is likely to agree with the author on every point. For example, De Temmerman thematizes the dynamic aspect of characterization across several novels as a process involving a protagonist's increasing self-control and control of others, often through rhetorical ability. The explanation applies to many protagonists, but not all. In Chariton's novel, De Temmerman sees Callirhoe as the victim of Plangon, the serva callida who manipulates her into marriage with her master Dionysius. Later, in a parallel episode, through skillful rhetorical manipulation, Chariton's heroine asserts her control over Artaxates, the eunuch who tries to seduce her for the Great King. But the text can also support a reading in which the ever astute Callirhoe sees through Plangon's manipulation. She agrees to marry Dionysius, not as a naïve victim of manipulation, but as a cool-headed heroine who understands the necessity she faced as a slave. Other readers may disagree with the author on how far to press a given intertextual reference. For example, De Temmerman notes (pp. 93–4) how, late in Callirhoe, when Chaereas is finally establishing his aretē in the battle at Tyre, Chariton aligns the hero with Homer's Diomedes. Following the author, the alignment with Diomedes, who rashly attacked Aphrodite in battle, would evoke Chaereas's earlier rashness, when he assaulted Callirhoe, who was herself compared to Aphrodite. The association may be tenuous. Chaereas's courageous audacity in battle may be rather different from his impetuous attack on Callirhoe. However, such disagreements do not arise from some flaw in the author's method or approach; rather they are points for further discussion and debate.

A contribution of particular importance involves the association that De Temmerman draws out between characterization and the character of the narrative. The author interprets the characterization of Habrocomes and Anthia, the protagonists of Ephesiaca, in the context of Xenophon's simple or aphelic style. Ancient rhetorical theory regarding apheleia indicated a style of discourse in which the speaker would seldom render direct judgment but was, rather, neutral and distant. Thus, Xenophon constructs the character of his protagonists principally through indirect means, through judgments focalized in the protagonists themselves or in other characters and through metonymic references that allow the reader to infer the protagonists' characters from their words, thoughts, and deeds. Thus Xenophon's simplicity is neither a reflection of his lack of craft nor a by-product of clumsy epitomization (a matter on which De Temmerman is neutral). Rather, this apheleia is a contrived simplicity rooted in the tradition of rhetorical apheleia and essential to Xenophon's approach to characterization. The author sees an even closer association between rhetorical style and character in Daphnis and Chloe, where Longus's aphelic style mirrors the rustic simplicity of the protagonists themselves.

In Leucippe and Clitophon, except for a brief framing episode at the start of the novel, Clitophon himself relates the story in first-person or homodiegetic narration. Thus, the narrative itself, a focalized reflection of Clitophon's thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and judgments of himself and others, may be considered "one long example of ethopoeia" (p. 153) informing a self-portrait that is both intentional and unintentional. There is no touchstone to assess the truthfulness of Clitophon's account; in addition, Achilles Tatius regularly undermines confidence in his protagonist's reliability through the dissonance between what he could know and what he purports to know, between his characterization of himself and what the events he narrates suggest.1 From this dissonance De Temmerman traces ambiguities in Clitophon's level of sexual experience, his relative interest in sex versus love, and his claims to sōphrosynē. An important aspect of Clitophon's unintended self-characterization is his use of maxims. De Temmerman notes how these maxims, elaborated according to rhetorical practice, depict the protagonist as a pepaideumenos. Clitophon uses the maxims as heuristic devices, a form of bookish knowledge, to explain events he does not really understand, events involving, in particular, women, slaves and barbarians.

De Temmerman suggests that this bookish knowledge may serve as the basis of Clitophon's characterization of Leucippe. For all that he loves her, for much of the novel the hero has relatively little to say about the heroine apart from commenting on her physical beauty. This changes when the lovers are finally reunited at Ephesus, at which point Clitophon increasingly depicts Leucippe as a typical novel heroine. In particular, De Temmerman notes in the Ephesian episode a significant intertextual alignment between Leucippe and Chariton's Callirhoe. De Temmerman's suggests here that the book behind Clitophon's bookishness is the genre of the novel itself. The protagonist's knowledge of the romance genre compensates for what he does not really understand—in this case, his own beloved. The point is well taken. Characterization in Leucippe and Clitophon is deeply embedded in the hermeneutics of fictionalization, narratorial authority, and narratorial (un)reliability.

In the case of Heliodorus's Aethiopica, De Temmerman argues that indeterminacy of characterization has been written into the DNA of the narrative itself. The novel starts with an enigmatic in medias res ecphrasis of the protagonists on the beach near an outlet of the Nile. A Chinese box of embedded flashbacks narrates what came before. These flashbacks elaborate, revise, and often deconstruct what the reader thinks he or she knows about Chariclea and Theagenes. Heliodorus cultivates this ambiguity in finer detail through complex intra- and intertextualities and the rhetorical techniques that De Temmerman has described in the other novels: metaphor, metonymy, speech, and strategic focalization.

The principal focus of De Temmerman's discussion concerns Chariclea, for whom the novel is a reversal of the traditional nostos. Chariclea's journey takes her from the heart of the Greek world in Delphi to the periphery of Ethiopia. 2 From Heliodorus's complex structure, De Temmerman draws out a nuanced and complex portrait of the heroine as a dynamic character. Her essential nature is molded and altered by Calasiris, the Egyptian priest who finds Chariclea in Delphi and starts her on her journey home. As she internalizes Calasiris's teaching and realizes her identity, Chariclea herself molds her character in a consciously adopted process of change. She defends her sōphrosynē by enacting her nobility in dramatic performance and rhetorical display. Characterization is now not only a product of rhetoric, but rhetoric itself. De Temmerman notes a final Heliodoran irony. In Meroë at last and at the height of her rhetorical powers, Chariclea is unable to convince her father Hydaspes of her identity. The nostos in which the heroine realizes her true self runs aground in a place where rhetoric, the means by which she has up to that point defined herself, is utterly ineffective. Hydaspes is convinced she is his daughter not by words but by an image, the heroine's likeness to a picture of Andromeda.

In Crafting Characters Koen De Temmerman presents five meticulously researched, carefully argued, and important readings of the surviving Greek novels that significantly advance our understanding of characterization in the genre.


1.   Cf. John Morgan (2004). "Achilles Tatius," in I. J. F. de Jong, R. Nünlist, and A. Bowie (eds.), Narrators, Narratees, and Narratives in Ancient Greek Literature. Leiden: Brill, 493–506.
2.   On Chariclea's nostos, Tim Whitmarsh (1998). "The Birth of a Prodigy: Heliodorus and the Genealogy of Hellenism," in R. Hunter (ed.), Studies in Heliodorus. Cambridge: Cambridge Philological Society, 93–124.

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