Sunday, October 11, 2015


Werner Eck, Peter Funke (ed.), Öffentlichkeit - Monument - Text: XIV Congressus Internationalis Epigraphiae Graecae et Latinae, 27. - 31. Augusti MMXII – Akten. Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum. Auctarium, series nova, 4. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2014. Pp. xv, 773. ISBN 9783110374964. €169.95.

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

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

The 14th International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy took place in Berlin, where the modern discipline was born at the beginning of the 19th century. The very close ties between city and discipline were emphasized by Werner Eck, in the welcoming speech (p. 1-6), and by Stefan Rebenich, in his opening lecture on the history and the development of three important epigraphic projects: Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, replaced by Inscriptiones Graecae, and Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (p. 7-75).

The theme of the congress, Display – Monument – Text, marks a shift of focus from the text alone to the context where the inscriptions were produced and displayed, and, as Stephen Mitchell points out (p. 276), this "is partly due to the inspiration and example set by the leading Latin epigraphic scholars of the last thirty years, Werner Eck and Geza Alföldy, who have successfully applied this approach to the epigraphic monuments of the Roman governing class". The articles in the volume address the theme of the congress in various ways and from many perspectives. The proceedings were quickly published, an effort for which both the editors and the contributors must be congratulated.

It is not an easy task to summarize and review a volume with so many contributions, divided into 17 sections (of which the first four were plenary sections). The papers of the plenary sessions were fully published in the volume (p. 77-429), while the papers of the ordinary sections appear only in shortened versions (p. 431-729). The wise decision of the editors to publish all of the papers given at the congress allows the reader a substantial overview of the discipline. The volume ends with Jürgen Hammerstaedt's closing lecture on Diogenes of Oinoanda's philosophical inscription (p. 731-754).

The papers of the first plenary session addresses the question of the relationship between epigraphy and public space. Athanasios D. Rizakis (p. 77-89) emphasizes the distinction between public, private and sacred domains attested already by the middle of the 8th century BC in the Greek world. The display of the various texts in the public space (the so called "epigraphic habit") was an urban phenomenon born with the Greek polis and ending with the collapse of the ancient city during Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. This introductory paper is followed by two case studies: one on the Athenian Agora, by John McK. Camp II (p. 91-104), "the preferred location for the displays of hundred of inscriptions conveying a wide range of information" (p. 104), and the other on the Western provinces of the Roman Empire, by Christian Witschel (p. 105-133), underlining the close link between Romanization and urbanization and the development of the "epigraphic habit".1 The session is closed by Charlotte Roueché with a paper on "using civic space: identifying the evidence", based mostly on the examples provided by the city of Aphrodisias (p. 135-158).

The second plenary session is dedicated to the interaction of the different "epigraphic cultures" in the ancient world and especially the interaction of Greek and Latin epigraphy with the epigraphy of other ancient languages (see Werner Eck's introduction, p. 159-160). The papers focus on the "Greek language and script in the bilingual and trilingual inscription from the Iranian world" (Philip Huyse, p. 161-181,2 on the "Hebrew and Aramaic Jewish inscriptions in Iudaea/Palaestina" (Jonathan Price, p. 183-196), on the evidence coming from the Aswân area in Egypt (Stephan Johannes Seidlmayer, p. 197-230) and on the multilingual inscriptions of Asia Minor3 (Ignasi-Xavier Adiego, p. 231-269).

The third plenary session takes us out of the city and into the countryside with "rocks, religion and rural epigraphy". The epigraphic culture migrated from the city to rural areas, but the evidence is harder to contextualize and interpret, compared to urban epigraphy (see Stephen Mitchell's introduction, p. 271-273). The link between rural epigraphy and religion is indicated by the large number of inscriptions related to religious phenomena (and the funerary world) found in every corner of the Roman Empire: "small sanctuaries of local divinities were a universal feature of the countryside of the Roman Empire" (p. 272). Since only a small number of these sanctuaries and shrines have been archaeologically and architecturally researched, Mitchell concludes that "rural religion is to a great extent a subject that has to be studied through rural epigraphy" (p. 272). The first paper in the session, also by Mitchell, deals with "epigraphic display and the emergence of the Christian identity in the epigraphy of rural Asia Minor" (p. 275-297). From Asia Minor, Péter Kovács takes us to the Danube: "rural epigraphy and its public in Pannonia" (p. 299-321) and Ralph Haeussler farther west, in the Gallia Narbonensis, analyzing "the regional diversity of the epigraphic habit in the rural landscapes" and pointing out "that there was no Roman blueprint on how to 'Romanise' indigenous cults" (p. 323-345). Guy Labarre and Mehmet Özsait direct us back to Asia Minor, discussing the rock inscriptions in Greek language from Pisidia, with an emphasis on the large inscription dedicated to Apollo and Hermes from Sülüklü Kale (p. 347-374).

The final plenary session addresses public entertainment, a characteristic feature of the Graeco-Roman world and a subject that "ha sempre trovato, e continua a trovare, motive e spunti di interese e persone interessate a trattarli" (Silvia Orlandi's introduction, p. 375). Two papers were delivered during this session. Brigitte Le Guen addresses the question of the finds relating to theatres and performances during the Hellenistic period (highlighting that the prevailing opinion of the decadence of theatre performance after Menander's death is no longer tenable, p. 377-399); the second, by Tullia Ritti, deals with the spectacles in the amphitheatres during the Roman Imperial period and is a useful outline of this fascinating aspect of the Roman way of life (p. 401-429).

The ordinary sessions covered various aspects of the epigraphy and history of the Greco-Roman world, such as: harbours (p. 431-452), armies (p. 453-480), inscriptions in private areas (p. 481-499), history of the discipline (p. 519-544), progress report on Fontes epigraphici religionum Celticarum antiquarum (p. 567-582) of the Austrian Academy of Science, measuring the areas and partitions of territories (p. 583-610), sanctuaries and cults (p. 611-634), inscriptions and Christian cult areas (p. 635-657), funerary epigraphy (p. 659-680), the interplay between space, images and inscriptions (p. 681-705); also, new discoveries, a tradition of the epigraphic congresses (tituli novi, I, p. 547-565, Greek inscriptions; and II, p. 707-729, Greek and Latin inscriptions of the Roman period) and a small session dedicated to digital epigraphy (p. 501-517). Space limitations allow me to highlight only few of these important contributions.

The workshop dedicated to the Romano-Celtic cults and deities addressed documents related to Rome's impact on ancient Celtic religion in both Germanic provinces, Gallaecia and conventus Asturum (Hispania citerior).

So also the session dedicated to "measuring the areas", discussing different aspects of the partitions of the lands both in Hellenistic and in Roman periods.

For the urbanization of the Danube limes, Werner Eck's preliminary publication of a newly discovered municipal law dating to the Principate is important. It was written on dozens of bronze tables (some 50-100, Eck estimates) of which only two are preserved. It refers to the city of Troesmis (lex municipii Troesmensis), in the Lower Moesia province, shedding new light on municipal life on the Roman frontier during Marcus Aurelius' and Commodus' joint reign (p. 708-710).4 The other better preserved laws (as Eck underlines, every Roman city had a constitutional law of its own, p. 708) were composed for three cities of the Baetica province (Irni, Salpensa and Malaca),5 all of which were Latin municipia, whereas the municipium from Troesmis was a municipium civium Romanorum. The Troesmis text is very close to the others, but a little bit longer and relatively verbose; the paragraphs relevant for the Latin municipia, especially the ones related to the acquisition of the Roman citizenship, were of course left off.

Christian Marek discusses C. Calestrius T. f. Tiro's cursus honorum inscription from Kaunos (the final publication will follow), one of Pliny the Younger's closest friends and T. Calestrius Tiro' close relative, if not his brother (p. 711-712).

From Capua comes a new inscription concerning the re-foundation of the colonia Iulia Felix by the end of the Republican period, discovered "praticamente in situ presso le mura cittadine" (Laura Chioffi, p. 720-721: Iussu Imp(eratoris) Caesaris / qua aratrum ductum est; other new interesting discoveries are also briefly mentioned).

For the history of the Punic wars the inscribed bronze rostra of the battle of Aegates Islands from 241 BC, published by Jonathan Prag (p. 727-729), are extremely valuable, allowing interesting prosopographical connections with the known magistrates of that period.

In the end, I would also like to draw attention to the session "Inschriften in der digitalen Welt", where some of the ongoing projects were briefly presented (p. 501-517). While digitization of Greco-Latin epigraphy opens it to a wider audience, it is not yet clear whether the online corpora will replace traditional print editions; in presenting a project on a digital corpus of the ancient inscriptions from the Northern Black Sea coast, the authors simply state: "Print editions will precede online publications" (Askold Ivantchik and Irene Polinskaya, p. 512-514).

Though the volume gathers papers tackling subjects from many different periods and areas, it provides a substantial overview of the discipline and marks the welcome shift from text to context in the field of Greek and Latin epigraphy.


1.   I do not completely agree with the author that there is a clear difference in number of monuments between North Africa and Hispania, on the one side, and the tres Galliae, on the other side; we have to imagine that during the Early Middle Ages many of this monuments were reused or destroyed, since almost every former Roman city in that area became an important centre also in the Middle Ages, which is not always the case in North Africa and Hispania (see also Werner Eck's opinion cited by the author, p. 125, note 86).
2.   An important part is dedicated to Sapor I's trilingual inscription, in Middle Persian, Parthian and Greek, dated to 260-262 AD; the author points out that Sapor I was the last Sasanian king to use the Greek language in the royal inscriptions, p. 174-177.
3.   These are mostly bilingual—a native language combined with Greek, but also two native languages, e. g. Lycian and Carian— and few trilingual, e. g. Lycian, Aramaic and Greek,
4.   See also other two preliminary papers on the subject published by Werner Eck: „La loi municipale de Troesmis: données juridiques et politiques d'une inscription récemment découverte", Revue historique de droit français et étranger 91, 2013, 2, p. 199-213 and „Das Leben römisch gestalten. Ein Stadtgesetz für das Municipium Troesmis aus den Jahren 177–180 n. Chr.", in Gerda de Klejn, Stephan Benoist (eds), Integration in the Roman world. Proceedings of the tenth workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Lille, June 23-25, 2011), Leiden–Boston, 2014, p. 75-88.
5.   Julián González, Michael Crawford, „The Lex Irnitana: a new copy of the Flavian Municipal Law", Journal of Roman Studies 76, 1986, p. 147-243; Salvator Riccobono (ed.), Fontes iuris Romanis antejustiniani. I. Leges, Florence, 1968, no. 23 (lex Salpensa), no. 24 (lex Malacitana).

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