Monday, February 29, 2016


André Hurst, Dans les marges de Ménandre. Recherches et rencontres, 33. Genève: Librairie Droz, 2015. Pp. 174. ISBN 9782600018883. CHF 35.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Antonis K. Petrides, Open University of Cyprus (

Version at BMCR home site


In the Margins of Menander is a collection of nine essays by the renowned Swiss classicist André Hurst. Eight of these were previously published in various venues over the last four decades. The essay that opens the book appears for the first time. The chapters are arranged thematically rather than chronologically. The volume commences with an essay on Menander's didactic value. There follow four pairs of thematically linked studies: chapters 2 and 3 explore Menander's Nachleben; chapters 4 and 5 inquire into his engagement with literary and cultural intertexts, such as tragedy and Athenian law; chapters 6 and 7 examine aspects of his theatrical technique; and, finally, chapters 8 and 9, the oldest studies reprinted here (they both date from the 1970s), turn mostly to the criticism of the text.

Chapter 1 ("What does Menander teach us?", pp. 15–32) explores Menander's role as an educator of the polis—a role New Comedy poets still assume for themselves, albeit indirectly. Hurst argues that Menander's enseignement revolves around the contrast between appearance and reality. He distinguishes three facets of this contrast: (a) The characters are victims of appearances (in some cases the audience, too, are deceived, but, unlike the dramatis personae, they soon wise up to the truth thanks to a delayed divine prologue); (b) The characters create appearances, in order to obtain an objective; and (c) the public itself falls victim to appearances, which the poet eventually exposes. Interestingly, in (c) the poet exploits the spectators' preconceptions, in order to expose them as fallacies—especially as regards certain social classes, such as slaves, women, courtesans, illegitimate children and professional soldiers. Furthermore, Menander draws attention to several deficiencies of Athenian society (legal absurdities, gender and class issues), but also, in the spirit of generic antagonism, he lambasts tragedy as an ineffective educator of the polis. The chapter makes a clear case, although the intentionalist overtones of the term enseignement may strike one as obsolete and the reference to tragedy is inadequately explored (in light of Chapter 4, it could have been excised here altogether). Moreover, rather surprisingly for what was initially a 2014 conference paper, the most recent bibliography on Menander and/in his social context is not reckoned with.1

Chapter 2 ("Menander in everyday language", pp. 33–55) explores a special aspect of Menander's reception in antiquity, namely the penetration of his proverbial discourse into everyday speech. Prime relevant evidence is the famous γνῶμαι gathered in two authoritative collections (Μενάνδρου γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι and Μενάνδρου καὶ Φιλιστίωνος γνῶμαι καὶ διάλεκτοι). Hurst recognises that the use of these sources for the matter at hand is replete with methodological problems. In most cases of undoubtedly genuine γνῶμαι, Menander probably rehashes pre-existing material. Hurst shows convincingly, however, that occasionally the playwright can mask formulations of his own as part of the savoir collectif. Anyhow, the very fact that, spurious or not, this discourse is credited to Menander evinces his grip on the collective unconscious. For Hurst, one further, indirect sign of this is the existence of variants in the tradition of Menander's maxims. These may be simple mistakes, but just as possibly the origin of the "error" could be that a form of the maxim was ingrained in the copyist's memory.

Chapter 3 ("Menander misunderstood?", pp. 57–72) attempts to account for the reversal of fortunes between Aristophanes and Menander on the modern stage. Unlike Aristophanes, Menander is rarely performed nowadays. However, among the educated public of the Imperial period he was the clear favourite. Hurst suggests that the modern directors' partiality for Aristophanes rests not only on the ease with which he can be adapted to contemporary concerns, but also, more importantly, on the parallel impression that Menander's oeuvre "has the unpardonable fault of being anodyne" (p. 64). For this grave misunderstanding Hurst blames Plutarch and the socio-political climate of the Imperial period. Although Plutarch states that he prefers Menander for reasons of style, the matter, for Hurst, goes deeper: in a period where political freedom was lacking, it was natural for outspoken Aristophanes to be regarded as subversive and for urbane Menander to be deemed politically harmless, although in his own way he was as much of a social critic as his predecessor. Hurst is certainly right that Menander has been misunderstood, but, in my opinion, this fact alone (along with the scarcity of complete or near-complete texts) cannot account for his near-eclipse from the modern stage: for three decades now at least, scholars have looked at New Comedy in new, illuminating perspectives,2 yet the proportion of Menandrian performances has not significantly increased.

Chapter 4 ("Menander and tragedy", pp. 73–103) is the book's best known and most seminal study. Doing away with the outdated notion of "influence" and building on Richard Hunter's proactive model of "exploitation", Hurst approaches Menander's intertextual relationship with tragedy as a set of "reactions", divided into three categories: (a) implicit use of tragic diction (vocabulary as well as metre); (b) "designation of tragedy as such"; and (c) arrangement of the plot in the tragic manner (p. 78). Hurst's categories (a) and (b) correspond to what Hunter calls "use of paratragic language and of the terms tragedy and τραγικός". Category (c) is also the equivalent of Hunter's "use of tragedy as part of the comic texture". Hurst's most original contribution in this study is placing Menander's reaction to tragedy in the context of genre politics. Menander occasionally retains the traditional parodic use of tragic diction (an example is the mock-tragedy of Daos in Aspis). More importantly, though, tragic language serves to expose the tragic paradigm as a false guide to life. In Samia 326, for example, "the poet associates the intrusion of tragic language with the impossibility of learning the truth . . . . It is as if tragic sentiments can render blind even the most reasonable of men" (p. 81). In other cases, however, such as the messenger speech in Sikyonios (strongly reminiscent of Euripides' Orestes), this implicit criticism of tragedy is absent and "the poet finds himself drawn to the possibilities offered by tragic diction" (p. 82). Hurst here sees an "ambiguity", which for him characterises Menander's reaction to tragedy in general (pp. 82-83). As for the second category, speakers like the messenger in Sikyonios and the slave Syriskos in Epitrepontes can refer to tragedy as the ultimate source of credibility, but soon tragedy is debunked as empty and vain (κενός). Tragedy blurs one's vision of reality. Nonetheless it can still constitute "an important source for the poet, who seeks to provide credit to a narrative . . . , although it is significant that he immediately keeps his distance from it" (p. 94). Hurst contends that the third and final category, arranging the plot in the tragic manner, should exclude elements like prologues or messenger speeches, which may be common solutions to problems faced by tragedy and comedy alike. But scenes like the anagnorisis in Perikeiromene, which recalls Euripides' Ion, certainly deserve attention. Hurst here endorses Gomme–Sandbach's acute observation regarding the "complicated multiple response" which the audience is induced to have by the combined presence in this scene of tragic diction and a comic element, an eavesdropping Moschion. The presence of a comic personage in such an elevated scene marks the boundaries between the two genres.

In chapter 5 ("Menander and the wicked legalist", pp. 105–114) Hurst examines Menander's fr. 768 K.-A., where, he believes, someone dismisses a "legalist" who abuses his expertise for personal gain. Based on this, Hurst broaches the question of Menander's attitude towards the law focusing mostly on the three Bodmer plays. In fact, only one of these, Aspis, presents a character who takes unethical advantage of the law. For Hurst, this makes it clear that Menander promotes legal knowledge not as a means of personal advancement, but as a tool for improving society. Hurst also submits that in Knemon Menander presents the opposite extreme to Smikrines' "legalist" type; that is, a character showing total indifference for any kind of law, even for the unwritten code of hospitality. This argument is open to objections. Knemon, in fact, knows and uses the law when he adopts Gorgias, transferring to him his daughter's κυριότης. Moreover, if by so doing Knemon intends to eschew his responsibilities and procure himself a guardian for his final days, then he, too, applies the law to his own morally dubious benefit, even if his motives and the overall situation are indeed different. Chapter 6 ("Nooks and crannies in Menander", pp. 115–132) examines the fine details of Menander's dramatic technique, which are shown to be very carefully handled. Specifically, Hurst analyses three secondary characters: the cook in Samia, Simiche in Dyskolos and the fake doctor in Aspis. To gauge the importance of these "small roles" Hurst gleans two criteria from ancient authors: from Antiphanes, fr. 189 K.-A., that ancient audiences expected everything in a comedy, even minor characters, to be wittily invented; and from Aristotle, Poet. 1451a, that everything in a drama must have an organic, if minor, role in its design. Samia's cook, "paradoxical" as he is (p. 121), meets the "Antiphanic" criterion: far from the conventional affected chatterbox, he is a proper professional asking legitimate questions. His role in the plot also satisfies the "Aristotelian" criterion. In ll. 283–95, Parmenon wants to see the cook as the traditional type, which he is not. This error fits in well in a comedy that revolves around the antithesis between reality and appearances or false impressions: even such a small role as the cook is designed to underline a major theme. The Antiphanic criterion is easily met by Simiche, too: although the old woman and the old female slave are stock types, she is highly individualised. Simiche's role is crucial: her first error, dropping the bucket in the well, facilitates the onstage meeting of the lovers, whereas her second mistake, dropping also the mattock, initiates the chain of events that lead Knemon to realise that one cannot live secluded from society. Furthermore, Hurst argues, Simiche and Knemon's daughter, with their obedience and ability for self-criticism, accentuate his misanthropy (here, too, one could object that, on the contrary, their unconditional love humanises Knemon, preventing him from being a mere caricature and confounding the moral evaluation of his ways). Hurst᾽s final observation is characteristically astute. It is through a number of "errors" that Knemon gets to recognise his own erroneous ways: society has value not because it is perfect, but precisely because it is composed of fallible human beings, who need one another. Finally, the fake doctor of Aspis, too, meets both of Hurst's criteria. He is a clever invention, inasmuch as he is not the traditional quack, but a performer playing the type. Beyond Daos' stratagem, his function is to highlight both Smikrines' pettiness and Chaereas' moral value (see below).

In Chapter 7 ("How does Menander effect the doctor's exit?", pp. 133–43), another influential study, Hurst revisits the aforesaid "doctor" suggesting an alternative way to supplement and interpret Asp. 455–64. In this concluding bit of the scene, Smikrines asks the doctor to step back from Chaerestratos᾽ house, so they can talk privately. According to Hurst, his purpose is to enquire about his own health, not his brother's. Smikrines᾽ objective is purely self-serving, which underscores his malice afresh: he wants to know if he has enough time left to live, to enjoy his newfound wealth. The pseudo-doctor's answer is not to his liking: he allows him no hope of a much longer life. Nonetheless, being who he is, Smikrines chooses to dismiss the doctor this time, although he had no trouble trusting his earlier diagnosis about Chaerestratos. Hurst sensitively underlines the scene's strong visual aspect (the doctor examines Smikrines hands-on, thus displaying what supposedly he had done offstage before). Furthermore, Hurst concludes, the young man's obvious dislike for Smikrines, whom he practically deems unworthy to be alive, reflects positively on the character of his friend Chaereas.

Chapters 8 ("A new Menander", pp. 145–155) and 9 ("On the text of the Samia", pp. 157–61), which could have been merged, are both devoted to said play. Chapter 8 contains textual notes on ll. 294–5 and 392–393, and Chapter 9 on ll. 7, 11–12, 30–38, 112–117, 192–195 and 530–532. In Chapter 8 Hurst also offers an assessment of how the Bodmer Samia improved our appreciation of Menander as a playwright. His discussion here overlaps significantly with chapters 1, 4 and 6. In an appendix to chapter 8 the author argues that, contrary to common belief, the verse Phrynichos attributes to Samia (Ecl. 163, p. 173 Rutherford) comes from the play and must be placed in the lacuna after l. 166.

André Hurst's scholarship is invariably exceptional. His contributions to Menander have made a strong mark, and to have them collected in a single volume, even with some repetitions and overlaps or without the bibliographical updates one might desire, is a real gain.


1.   For example: S. Lape, Reproducing Athens (Princeton, 2004); A. Traill, Women and the Comic Plot in Menander (Cambridge, 2008); B. Akrigg and R. Tordoff (eds.), Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Greek Comic Drama (Cambridge; New York, 2013); A. Sommerstein (ed.), Menander in Contexts (London, 2014); S. Nervegna, Menander in Antiquity: The Contexts of Reception (Cambridge; New York, 2013).
2.   See A.K. Petrides and S. Papaioannou (eds.), New Perspectives on Postclassical Comedy (Newcastle Upon Tyne 2010).

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Elizabeth M. Craik, The 'Hippocratic' Corpus: Content and Context. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. Pp. xxxvi, 307. ISBN 9781138021716. $49.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Katherine D. van Schaik, Harvard University (
Version at BMCR home site

The 'Hippocratic Question' – which works of those traditionally attributed to Hippocrates were written by the same author – has been answered differently by successive generations of scholars. In the 20th century alone, Edelstein, Lloyd, and Jouanna, among others, have all approached the question and its answers differently.1 Elizabeth Craik's book, The 'Hippocratic' Corpus: Content and Context, contributes to this ongoing dialogue by reframing the question and the content that is used to answer it. She addresses her approach to the Hippocratic Question in her comments about enclosing 'Hippocratic' in quotation marks in her title. In the first paragraph of her preface she writes, "the use of inverted commas ('Hippocratic') is intended to indicate that none of these very numerous and highly diverse texts can be definitely associated with the historical Hippocrates, though he did live in the classical period when most of them were written" (ix). She explains that, through this book, she aims to create simultaneously a "general introduction" and a "reference work" (ix).
In the main body of her book, each work of the Corpus (or, in some cases, a related group of works) is presented with an individual summary, comment, contextual analysis, a suggested date of composition, and the endnotes for the sources to which she has referred in her discussion of that work or group of works. Craik notes in the Introduction that Appendix 3 of Jouanna's Hippocrates informed how she presents each text: her book has expanded and elaborated upon Jouanna's method of arranging information. Most treatises are considered individually in one of the fifty-one chapters, with the exception of texts that are strongly related in content. For example, one chapter is devoted to Epidemics 1-7, though distinctions among the seven books are explicitly maintained. She does not combine Diseases 1-4 into a single linked unit, instead separating the books into four discrete chapters, and both On the Nature of Man and On Regimen in Health appear in the same chapter (somewhat contentiously, she acknowledges, p.208-209). At the end of each chapter, Craik provides dates for each treatise, sometimes giving explicit justification for the assigned date range (as she does for Diseases 1, 2, and 3, for example), sometimes not (On Fractures/On Joints, for example).
The chapters in the main body of the book are preceded by a list of abbreviations, a map of the 'Hippocratic' world, and an introduction that outlines the historical context of Greek medical thought, Hippocrates, and the Hippocratic tradition, as well as how the later scholarly tradition (from Erotian to Littré to the present) has grouped and explained these diverse yet somehow cohesive texts. Craik offers her own system of seven categories for grouping the texts: "scientific principles", "anatomy and physiology", "nosology, pathology and therapy", "surgery", "cases and signs", "gynaecology and embryology", and "guidance and ideals" (p.xxvi-xxvii and p.287-288). In her conclusion, Craik revisits this classification scheme, using it to suggest treatises that might share an author or authors: this is her contribution to addressing the Hippocratic Question. The conclusion is followed by a glossary that links Greek words with translations or, when translation is problematic because of a relationship between the Greek word and a modern medical term, with transliterations and descriptions. The bibliography appears next, followed by an index of authors and texts and a general index.
The book contributes to ongoing questions of 'Hippocratic' authorship by allowing all of the relevant texts to be compared and contrasted with one another conveniently and concisely. Craik's detailed approach to analysis makes her arguments for authorship persuasive, as she grounds her claims in the linguistic, chronologic, and thematic evidence she has systematically presented throughout the book. Though she does offer her own answer to the Hippocratic Question, the particularly innovative aspect of her book is that its structure does not limit readers to its author's interpretations of textual relationships. She still permits readers to ask and to answer their own questions about affinities.
As both general introduction and reference work, Craik's book succeeds admirably. Particularly commendable, and much-needed within 'Hippocratic' scholarship, is the effort she devotes to less-studied texts. The attention she gives to these lesser-known texts, alongside more traditionally studied texts, is another unique aspect of the book. Her summaries of each treatise are succinct and carefully referenced back to specific sections of the text, allowing for easy concordance. Her commentaries discuss in detail particularities of language, style, grammar, authorial voice, and, especially, vocabulary. Of particular importance for both beginning student and advanced scholar are the precise chapter-and-section references she includes for these parallels (p.80 features a helpful concordance of similar patient cases in Epidemics 5 and Epidemics 7, for example). She also helpfully links the ideas of the 'Hippocratic' treatise under consideration with related ideas found in other ancient texts, such as the works of Aristotle, Plato, and others (as she does on p.39 and p.47).
Craik's glossary is praiseworthy for the way that it connects Greek terms consistently with English equivalents, when such translation contributes to clarity of concept. When translation does not aid understanding, Craik's transliterations and English descriptions are useful: τέτανος, for example, is transliterated as tetanus, italicized to emphasize that it is a transliteration and glossed as "a disease marked by stiffness and spasms" (p.294) in order that a reader may distinguish this term from its modern counterpart, which describes the pathology caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. In some cases, however, evidence in support of particular descriptions (καρκίνος as "karkinos (a systemic disease ~ cancer)") would be helpful. Additionally, for both beginning and advanced readers of the Corpus – and especially for the former – the lack of footnotes and explicit bibliographic reference to certain arguments and claims could be frustrating. 2
The 'Hippocratic' Corpus: Content and Context is a much-needed text, and Craik achieves her goal of providing simultaneously a general introduction and a reference work. This concise and comprehensive book is a useful tool both for those interested in learning more about the 'Hippocratic' Corpus and its component parts, and for scholars investigating research questions. Without any assumptions of authorship, Craik's systematic descriptions of the content, context, and date of each text allow readers to make their own judgments about relationships between and among those texts. She advances scholarship on the Hippocratic Question by expanding the way scholars and students approach the texts. Her thoughtful and thorough book focuses on the 'Hippocratic' works themselves, and the interpretive opportunities afforded by her approach ensure that The 'Hippocratic' Corpus: Content and Context will be an indispensable resource for years to come.

1.   Ludwig Edelstein, "The Genuine Works of Hippocrates," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 7 (1939): 236-48; G.E.R. Lloyd, "The Hippocratic Question," The Classical Quarterly 25 (1975):171-192; Jacques Jouanna, Hippocrates, English translation of French original, 1992. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).
2.   For example, while scholars familiar with the Greek medical tradition know, as Craik says, that, "Egyptian medicine surely exhibited an influence on early Greek medicine" (xxix), it would be helpful to cite a source like Heinrich von Staden, Herophilus: The Art of Medicine in Early Alexandria (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

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Angela Fritsen, Antiquarian Voices: The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid's 'Fasti'. Text and Context. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2015. Pp. xvi, 239. ISBN 9780814212844. $69.95.

Reviewed by Frances Muecke, University of Sydney (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Pomponio Leto is no longer dismissed as he was by Wilamowitz as an indulger in "basically harmless antics", such as "keeping the feast of Pales", who made no lasting contribution.1 In this book Fritsen builds on a century of (mainly Italian) interest in Pomponio Leto and his Roman "Academies", in which Paolo Marsi, author of the first printed commentary on the Fasti, has been a key figure since the pioneering study of della Torre.2 At the same time as understanding of the special character of fifteenth-century Roman humanism has advanced, so views of Ovid's Fasti have become enormously more complex and sophisticated. The third ingredient to be added to the mix is the recent transformation of attitudes to older commentaries. They are now recognized as texts that speak for their times.

Fritsen persuasively argues that Ovid's Fasti had special value for the Roman quattrocento humanist milieu influenced by Pomponio Leto. In her book she takes two aspects of the Fasti — as a calendar poem and as a mirror of Roman civilization — as foci for a wide-ranging study both of scholarship on the Fasti in the Renaissance as a whole and of intellectual and political aspects of the poem's reception as well. The story is exciting as well as complicated, involving well-known figures and more obscure ones, and following the typically peripatetic careers of some of the protagonists. The world of the Renaissance Latin commentators has not received many sympathetic studies in English and Fritsen's imaginative and lively book is a welcome addition.

Chapter 1 (Reading Ovid's Fasti) sets the scene. In it Fritsen gives a brief synthesis of modern scholarly views of the Fasti as a calendar poem and then identifies aspects of the Fasti that particularly invited commentary, especially the absence of the last six books. Teaching and imitation of Ovid in the twelfth century is highlighted, as providing not only precedents for the humanists but probably manuscript glosses they used. When discussing some medieval verses supposedly from the opening of Book 7, however, Fritsen appears not to realize that Konrad Celtis and C. Celtes Protacius (1459-1508) are the same person (pp. 26-27).

Chapter 2 (Fifteenth-Century Revival) surveys teaching and commentary on the Fasti in Italy in the fifteenth century. It is here that the two commentators that are the main focus of the book begin to come to the fore: Paolo Marsi (1440-84) and Antonio Costanzi (1436-90). Their commentaries were first printed in 1482 and 1489, respectively. The first section of the chapter sets them in the contexts of their careers, contacts, and of other work on the Fasti. For fifteenth-century teaching of the Fasti some evidence also survives in MSS. Thus at pp. 49-50 Fritsen compares glosses in Vat. Lat. 1595 (Pietro Odi, ca. 1450), Vat. Lat. 1982 (associate of Pomponio Leto, ca. 1485) and Vat. lat. 3263 (Pomponio Leto, post 1488) (see Appendix II). It is unfortunate that she was not aware of Odi's hand in Vat. Lat. 2784 (glosses dated 1445). The Vatican Library has now put a digitized version of this MS online.

Fritsen argues that the Fasti commentaries are a special case, to be related to contemporary Roman antiquarianism. This is why she highlights a late link of Antonio Costanzi of Fano to Pomponio's Roman "Academy" (pp. 44-45, 109). He was not really part of this group, though he may have looked towards it. Costanzi's interest in the Fasti can be dated from about 1470. In 1480 he presented a finished MS commentary to Federico da Montefeltro, and it underwent continuous revision until it was printed in 1489. Marsi's commentary similarly had a long period of incubation from when he began lecturing on the poem at the Roman Studio (from 1474, p. 34) to its first printing in 1482 at Venice (pp. 30-33). Thus Marsi's work belongs to the heady days of Rome in the 1470s so brilliantly described by Maurizio Campanelli.3 The rivalry characteristic of this period is echoed in Marsi's and Costanzi's prefaces and elsewhere (pp. 87-98). Thus the fascinating topic of commentary writing early in the age of printing is explored in Chapter 3 (Commentary and Professional Identity).

In Chapter 4 (Antiquarianism I: The Roman Academy, the Fasti, and a New Historicism) the notion of the Fasti as an antiquarian handbook is floated. Here Fritsen nicely illustrates how especially in Rome the humanist enterprise of recovering the buildings and monuments went hand in hand with that of restoring the texts to legibility. Flavio Biondo's foundational antiquarian works stimulated the following generation, especially the Roman "Academy", to further study of the archaeological remains and Roman institutions. I agree that the Fasti played a special role here, both in Roma instaurata and in Roma triumphans. Finally, Fritsen is interested in instances of empirical observation being used to test information derived from the auctores, especially as a result of travel.

Chapter 5 (Antiquarianism II: Christian Fasti and Papal Connections) approaches the Fasti as a text exploitable for Renaissance purposes. It consists of four rather disparate sections, three of which deal with aspects of the Christian environment and the possible influence on Marsi of Ludovico Lazzarelli's Fasti christiane religionis (1475-80). Lazzarelli's sixteen-book Latin elegiac composition includes a reference (dated 1483-84) to the Pomponian literary sodalitas's celebration of the Palilia on the feast of St. Victor (1483). Marsi's interpretation of the death of Pan as the passion of Christ (F. 1.397) is suggested as another instance of Lazzarelli's influence. Here Fritsen's view that quem nam deum intelligi oporteret is an interpolation by Marsi into the translation of Plutarch's De defectu oraculorum (and that it refers to "God") cannot be right (pp. 153-54). It means that Tiberius asked "which god, tell me (quisnam), ought he be thought to be", the answer being "the son of Penelope and Mercury". I suspect that when Marsi distances himself from Eusebius he means the Latin translation of Eusebius by George of Trebizond.

The Afterword argues for a link between Marsi's Venetian patron Giorgio Cornaro (who supported the printing of the Fasti commentary) and Giorgio's son Francesco's commissioning of Mantegna's The Introduction of the Cult of Cybele at Rome in 1505. Fritsen has missed the compelling case made by M. A. Pincelli to show that it is likely that Mantegna used the reduced combination of Livy 29.10, 11 and 14 and Ovid F. 4.247-348 (dropping Claudia Quinta altogether) in Biondo Flavio's Roma triumphans (ed. Basel, 1531, p. 33) as his source.4

As what I have written so far shows, much of Fritsen's argument is carried by discussion of many intricate points of detail with a few of which I have had to take issue. The book's main strength indeed lies in its ability to pursue broader interesting and important questions through painstaking research into detailed evidence and specific problems. Hence the material is not organized straightforwardly. Each chapter is divided into sections, which may be more or less related to each other. Historical development is followed, but not exclusively. Fritsen's method is to move to and fro between topics and broader themes to build up a rich context for her two main commentators. While she is interested in the educational, social, and political aspects of commentaries, philology for its own sake is played down.5 This lack of interest in philology may explain why the Fasti commentaries are hardly ever set in the context of contemporary commentaries on other authors.

All Latin quotations are translated (sometimes incorrectly).6 An appendix of biographies introducing less well-known figures would have made her book more user-friendly to a broad audience.


1.   U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, History of Classical Scholarship, ed. by H. Lloyd-Jones (London, 1982), p. 27.
2.   A. della Torre, Paolo Marsi da Pescina. Contributo alla storia dell'Accademia Pomponiana (Rocca di San Casciano, 1903).
3.   M. Campanelli, Polemiche e filologia ai primordi della stampa. Le "Observationes" di Domizio Calderini (Rome: Storia e Letteratura, 2001).
4.   M. A. Pincelli, "La Roma triumphans e la nascita dell'antiquaria: Biondo Flavio e Andrea Mantegna", Studiolo, 5 (2007), pp. 19-28.
5.   On p. 83 there is a misunderstanding of what Marsi did with the paradosis Palaestinas at F. 4.236, where palam Stygias is Roeper's conjecture. Marsi explained it as "of Palaeste", adducing Caes. B.C. 3.6.3, where he found in codice vetustissimo the reading phaleste (i.e., he says, paleste) for the printed text's Pharsalia, and Lucan 5.460. Except for the reference to and emendation of B.C. Costanzi says much the same. That these Palaestinas…deas were the Furies who had a temple at Palaeste is an interpretation Marsi attributes to another scholar recently deceased, who also told it to Pomponio.
6.   p. 13 species est surely just means "a kind of"; p. 14 per eas notatas refers to the prosperitates et adversitates; p. 19 the translation and text of Arnulf's comment on F. 1. 213 look wrong; p. 32, l. 11 religaverit means "tied up" and this line goes with the following one; p. 33 umbracula is good Latin for "parasol"; p. 42 nobis pueris "when I was a boy". facile has dropped out after pueris; p. 65 "There is no other text which would inform us", i.e. if it were complete; p. 98 Servius has noxiam vero culpam ("noxia as offense"); p. 107 put religiosae before litterariae; p. 177 plebeios homines has not been translated. It is the common people, not the soldiers, who succumb to dazed bread.

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Response: Ridgway on Barr-Sharrar on Ridgway on Daehner and Lapatin, Power and Pathos. Response to 2016.02.29
Response by Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Bryn Mawr College (
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Beryl Barr-Sharrar is an acknowledged expert on ancient bronzes, whose published work has highlighted Greek and Macedonian metal vessels (1982, 1999), bronze lamps and decorative busts from the Mahdia shipwreck (1994), and—in a splendid book—the spectacular Derveni Krater (2008). Most recently, she gave a paper at the 19th International Congress on Ancient Bronzes held in California (October 13-17, 2015) in conjunction with the Exhibition "Power and Pathos", which allowed her a close look at some of the exhibits. I, on the other hand, have yet to see that important show; I only reviewed the hefty Catalogue that accompanied it, which prompted Barr-Sharrar's response.
I could therefore take the easy way out and claim that I was simply paraphrasing the editors' comments on the points to which Barr-Sharrar objected: the "replication" and "reproducibility of bronzes through casting" because of their technique (Essay I, p. 33 and passim), and the subdivision of selected items in the final display section, V, entitled "Apoxyomenos and the art of replication." But this response would be inadequate, especially since I personally subscribe to the theory of seriality in antiquity, as I hope to demonstrate by citing some of my own publications through the years.
In 1985, The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) and the National Gallery sponsored a Symposium: "Retaining the Original. Multiple Originals, Copies, and Reproductions." I was asked to address the Greek period1 and mentioned several examples of duplication in architecture and sculpture (e.g., stone waterspouts, "Kleobis and Biton," Telemachos Relief) but did not include major bronzes because of the lack of known replicas at the time. I was already intrigued, however, by the evidence of statue bases and of ancient sources mentioning commemorative monuments that comprised great numbers of figures. My concerns on the subject were not about iconography but stylistic homogeneity—how to explain the juxtaposition of works by different masters who came from different places and schools to collaborate on a (supposedly) unified presentation.2
The first example to catch my attention was the Granikos Monument. Erected at Dion, in Macedonia, it represented 25 mounted companions of Alexander who died at the Battle of the River Granikos in 334 B.C.E. It was allegedly made by Lysippos and some modern commentators suggested that the sculptor must have followed the conqueror in his Asian campaigns since the statues were said to have portrait-like quality. I objected to this last theory in view of the fact that Lysippos (to judge from datable signed bases) would have been quite old at that time. Moreover, a large group of that nature would have required a well-established foundry, hardly to be encountered by an army in motion.3 But back "home," with an established school of Lysippos (?) contributing, the feat was at least theoretically possible. The basic model? A horseman with individual head but similar armor, legs cast separately, spread out across his mount, as exemplified by some recent finds from the sea near Kalymnos—two headless, cuirassed torsoes, a right leg and two left legs— illustrated in Power and Pathos (pp. 76-79, figs. 5.3-5.7)
More complex (ca. 40 figures) was the Lysander Monument (also called "of the Nauarchoi"), erected at Delphi to commemorate the Battle of Aigospotamoi (405/4 B.C.E.). The major master was Antiphanes of Argos, but he was helped by Athanodoros and Dameas of Kleitor (Arkadia); Alypos, Patrokles, and Kanachos of Sikyon; Theokosmos of Megara, Pison of Kalaureia; and Teisandros—that is, sculptors belonging to different "schools" (of Polykleitos, of the Athenians Kritios and Pheidias) who would have been heirs to different styles. At Delphi stood also the Arkadian Dedication: nine figures commemorating Theban victories over the Spartans (370/69 B.C.E.), made by Antiphanes of Argos (again), with Daidalos of Sikyon, Pausanias of Apollonia, and Samolas of Arkadia. A semicircular base for the Monument of the Kings of Argos (after the foundation of Messene, 369 B.C.E.) held 10 bronze images.4 Comparable examples from Olympia and other sanctuaries could also be cited.
Two possible explanations can be advanced for this rapid production in multiples: either the conception of personal style(s) is a purely modern construct, or the various collaborators—simultaneously—made use of a basic model and created minor variations on it to identify specific individuals, while retaining a fairly uniform appearance. I cannot refrain, in this connection, from citing an eloquent example of a "forest of statues": the 42 life-size bronze figures of the historical American Founding Fathers who, on September 17, 1787, signed the Declaration of Independence in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall. They have been created by artists at the Studio EIS in Brooklyn and now stand in "Signers' Hall" of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Although numerous historical sources, including portraits and written descriptions, were consulted in producing the individual images,5 it is obvious that (few) basic models were used to produce the bronzes: notice especially the three types of footwear which repeat consistently among the images, and several other details of the attire. Piece casting indeed favors such procedure.
On May 5-August 24, 2015, the Fondazione Prada, in Milan, Italy, held the exhibition "Serial Classic. Multiplying Art in Greece and Rome" curated by Salvatore Settis and Anna Anguissola.6 Although "seriality was an essential characteristic" of Roman marble copies, as demonstrated by many of the same types (e.g., the Diskobolos by Myron, Cat. nos. 2-8; the "Pouring Satyr" by Praxiteles, nos. 25-32; the "Pothos" by Skopas, nos. 29-30) assembled for comparative purposes, the show explored also Classical Greek art, its function, and "its highly conventional serial language." The Greek examples included the frequently copied Karyatids of the Erechtheion, the famous Fifth-century Penelope statue from Persepolis and its later replicas (nos. 52-58; obviously derived from a second "original" that had remained in Greece), and, at the very entrance to the display, a series of large (lifesize) terracotta busts from Medma (South Italy; nos. 19-24) dated between 500-400 B.C.E. These were "produced in molds" and made "after the same original type" although "varying in hairstyle, decoration, narrative detail…and, in ancient times, their color" now lost). Note that such details were of parts that were applied separately and easily replaced individually, creating an apparent variety that disguised a basic identity.
This eclectic procedure is widely accepted for terracottas, since we generally consider them relatively cheap objects of mass production. Yet bronzes are equally dependent on molds, and piece-casting from a single initial model could easily allow for variations in the type of head, position of arms and legs, and other additional elements (so-called narrative attributes) to create apparently, but superficially, different statues.
Let me briefly address the specific instances that Barr-Sharrar cites in her Response, regarding some objects exhibited in section V as exemplifying the "Art of Replication." We would all agree with her that molds were taken at all times from opera nobilia, either to produce marble replicas or to cast newer bronzes: we even know this from ancient sources (on the Hermes Agoraios, for instance) and from extant examples, including the very bronze apoxyomenoi exhibited in "Power and Pathos" (cat. nos. 40-42), to which different manufacturing dates have been assigned, as Barr-Sharrar points out. But only chance has preserved for us the exhibited pieces! Moreover, dating of ancient bronzes continues to depend heavily on stylistic details, since seldom enough elements of the core exist for radiocarbon dating and the chemical analyses of the alloys may produce ambiguous results—as two of the essays within Power and Pathos warn us. Given the wide distribution of the extant Scraper replicas, both in bronze and in stone, it is logical to assume that the "original" creation—an anonymous athlete with no individualizing features, caught in a generic action—was produced in multiples by its workshop and sold throughout the ancient world to serve varied purposes. Think of the comparable modern examples of Rodin's works!
Barr-Sharrar devotes her most specific analysis and argumentation to the two Herms of Dionysos, one of which, signed by the sculptor Boethos, came from the Mahdia shipwreck and the other, at the Getty Museum, has an unknown provenience (Cat. nos. 45-46). Replicas of the type in other media produced while the signed herm was underwater prove that other "originals" circulated in Roman times; one of them may be the very Getty Herm which, on the basis of its alloy, has been attributed to the same workshop that made the Mahdia Herm. Barr-Sharrar, however, dismisses the importance of the traces of cobalt in both bronzes as being a feature recurring in other, unrelated, metal statues. She correctly discounts the possibility that the Getty Herm is a Renaissance work because the Mahdia Herm was unknown at the time, but cannot explain the special technique revealed by its interior, which substantially differs from that of the signed piece. She believes, however, that discrepancies in the arrangement of the Getty headdress mean that the entire piece was produced from molds taken not from a prototypical model—as needed for mechanical reproduction— but from the already completed Mahdia Herm, on which the ribbons had been arranged in wax by the sculptor before the one-piece, direct-casting procedure.7
I cannot argue against such specific technical details; I can only contribute something from direct experience. When I had a chance to study the fragmentary "Lady from the Sea" I could notice that the surface of the interior (the chest section of the preserved front) was greatly simplified from the complex arrangements of garments and folds visible on the exterior. In particular, one major fold (cast hollow) was applied separately and must have been made as an independent piece with its own "lost wax" procedure. Only a cuirass-like original form must have been made and cut into pieces for ease in casting, to be later "dressed" with the appropriate folds. Indeed, such a two-time possibility had been raised about the manufacture of the headdress of both the Mahdia and the Getty Herm, but it was challenged by Barr-Sharrar in view of the above-mentioned discrepancies. Isn't it possible, however, to have both "master" and "pupil" working virtually side by side (or even days/months apart) on two fillet-less heads, the master producing the more elaborate and skillful arrangement and the pupil imitating him in a less successful manner?8
One final objection concerns the two Archaistic figures, Cat. nos. 47-48. I agree with Barr-Sharrar that they both reproduce a generic kouros type, differentiated by the addition of diverse attributes—in the case of the Pompeian youth, objects that transformed it into a "servant statue." But this very imitation of a style current several centuries previously is a form of replication, whether to produce a forgery ( passing it as an "antique," as I still believe for the Piombino Apollo), or to enhance the concept of "statue" as an inanimate object, or even to impart a sense of religious ambiance to its location. The many Severizing/Polykleitan/Classicizing examples of "pretty boys" suggest that there was a Roman market for such creations well beyond the Archaic/Archaistic imitation. I never saw the two "Apollos" together; I only was given a glimpse of the Pompeian bronze's back in 1982, when it was at the Istituto del Restauro in Rome, lying face down undergoing examination. At that time, Dr. Fausto Zevi suggested that the modeling of the back recalled that of the Apollo in the Louvre, and I agreed that it had the kind of fleshy/feminine quality I had noticed in the Piombino statue. Profile photographs of both figures enhanced the similarity of the pose, but I did not suggest production from a single model. The Rhodian provenience of the bronze in Paris, however, may help in another instance.
The famous Praying Boy in Berlin arrived in Venice before September 28, 1503, as it was described in a letter to Isabella d'Este by Lorenzo di Pavia, a local artist. It had been excavated outside the city walls of Rhodes and belonged to Fra Andrea de' Martinis of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, whose order had a base on Rhodes. Although virtually complete, the bronze lacked both arms and the front part of one foot. Pietro Bembo, a Venetian cardinal and noted author and humanist, in seeing the statue, donated to its owner a half foot in his collection that had been found in excavations "nel Padovano," that is, the area of Padua. The piece fitted so perfectly that Enea Vico thought it truly belonged to the Boy—yet this is a virtual impossibility, given the distance between the two findspots.9 But another explanation is possible. The statue in Berlin is under lifesize, a scale typical of the adolescent servant figures that embellished rich Hellenistic and Roman villas. Standard forms existed for specific anatomical parts since the fifth century B.C.E., witness the well-known depictions of the Foundry Cup. Workshops in Rhodes produced not only Archaistic statues like the Piombino Apollo, but also works in different styles—e.g., Classicizing figures like the Praying Boy, which might originally have served the same practical function as the lychnouchoi known from North Africa and South Italy. In addition, Pietro Aretino, in praising that statue, remarked that its back was better than the front and appeared feminine rather than masculine—a dichotomy I had noted in the Piombino Apollo.
This evidence of seriality across vast geographic spaces should not surprise in Late Hellenistic and Roman times. A much humbler example is again provided by my own experience. During the summer of 1969 I travelled through sites in North Africa, from Cherchel to Cyrene, to improve my knowledge of classical antiquity. In Algeria I picked up a broken terracotta tube of the kind that was used by Roman construction to provide rib-like frames for vaults, walls, and pavements: cylindrical but smaller at one end so as to fit within a similar piece and create a sequence of hollow pipes (tubi fittili). Roman sites which I visited were littered with such fragments. When in Carthage, therefore, I picked up another such broken tube, expecting it to differ from my previous example. But the two fitted perfectly into each other— splendid examples of standardized manufacture across the Roman Empire.
Am I comparing a cheap construction device probably of mid-Imperial date with the expensive artistic production of Hellenistic bronze workshops? Mutatis mutandis I believe the analogy applies. As the contents of the Mahdia wreck and of many other loaded ships that foundered in the Mediterranean have shown, the insatiable demand for luxury generated by different standards of living and self-expression fed into the already practical Greek artisanal mind and produced the means of fast replication, from inexpensive terracottas to what we would consider artistic masterpieces in expensive media. After all, remember that the Greeks did not conceive of a Muse for sculpture and that they called art techne.

1.   "Defining the Issue: the Greek Period," in Studies in the History of Art vol. 20 (1989) 13-26.
2.   This interest differed somewhat from that of existing publications on ancient groups, which tried to reconstruct the total compositions from the evidence of extant (empty) bases or echoes in other media: Ch. Ioakimidou, Die Statuenreihen griechischer Poleis und Bünde aus spätarchaischer und klassischer Zeit (1997); H. Bunke, Statuarische Gruppen in der frühen griechischen Kunst (JdI-EH 32, Berlin 2004)
3.   Besides the riders, the monument perhaps included also some infantry. For the sake of space, I shall cite my works primarily in abbreviated form; in this case, see my review of a 1989 book by G. Calcani, JRA 4 (1991) 206-209; also my Hellenistic Sculpture I (1990) 139 n. 14.
4.   For the evidence (inscriptions and ancient sources), see my Fourth Century Styles (1997) 240-43 and ns. 8-12.
5.   Information derived from Google, s.v. "Constitution Center."
6.   For access to the accompanying pamphlet, in Italian and English, I am greatly indebted to Dr. Irene B. Romano of Arizona State Museum and Arizona University.
7.   Such direct casting would obviously eliminate the existence of an "original" wax model because of the "cire perdue" procedure. Yet, regardless of the time frame, would such a mold taken from the completed and cast Mahdia Herm (obviously before it was shipped on its fateful voyage) indicate its existence in the master's workshop for future serial reproduction?
8.   I was able to study the bronze, Izmir Museum No. 3544, in November 1966 when it was displayed at the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. See "The Lady from the Sea: A Greek Bronze in Turkey," AJA 71 (1967) 329-34, pls. 97-100, especially figs. 7-8 for interior views and 12-13 for line drawings specifying the separately cast elements and their re-assembly. Cf. also the abbreviated version in Expedition 10.1 (Fall 1967) 2-9 with the same line drawings and additional photographs. A modern parallel? It has recently been demonstrated that the version of the Mona Lisa in Madrid is not a later copy of the original painting in the Louvre but a simultaneous rendering by a painter working side by side with Leonardo, as indicated by the slightly different angle of the woman's pose and the shifted elements of the background. Martin Bailey, correspondent with The Art Newspaper in London: "… the two pictures had been done side by side in the studio, and it was probably on easels which were two or three yards away from each other." (quoted in "The Mona Lisa's Twin Painting Discovered" (NPR)). Something comparable is now being advocated for the two versions of "The Virgin of the Rocks" in Paris and in London.
9.   For references and a more extensive discussion, see my Hellenistic Sculpture I (1990) 227-28, and n. 20 on pp. 241-42. Enea Vico's statement, in the original Italian, reads: "…e congiunta la parte del detto piede con quella, che alla statua mancava, si conobbe quella essere propria sua" (my emphasis). ​

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Anne Queyrel Bottineau (ed.), La représentation négative de l'autre dans l'antiquité: hostilité, réprobation, dépréciation. Histoires. Dijon: Éditions universitaires de Dijon, 2014. Pp. 524. ISBN 9782364410800. €35.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Mohamed Tahar, Faculté des Sciences Humaines et Sociales de Tunis (

Version at BMCR home site

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

En 524 pages, l'ouvrage rassemble les communications faites à la Maison de la recherche de l'Université Paris-Sorbonne lors de la journée du 25 octobre 2012 et du colloque international des 18-19 avril 2013 autour du thème choisi comme titre.

L'ouvrage compte une introduction sous la plume de la directrice de la publication et 28 communications ventilées sur 9 chapitres. Dans la présente note de lecture, nous tâcherons de donner un très bref aperçu sur les problématiques traitées par les différents participants avant de procéder à une évaluation globale qui s'évertuera à mettre en exergue l'apport de la publication.

Dans le premier chapitre « Dichotomie entre deux mondes, antagonisme et interactions » le travail de Ch. Chandezon, analysant les Oneirokritika d'Artémidore de Daldis, a pu dégager les contours de l'ekhthros et du philos. Cette démarche permit à l'auteur de déceler comment l'inimité (l'ekhthra) et l'amitié (philia) ont pu jouer un rôle dans la structuration de la société. Ch. Hunzinger examine les vices accolés aux kakoi dans le corpus élégiaque attribué à Théogonis avant d'analyser l'attitude de l'aristocratie grecque hantée par le souci de ségrégation. A. Perrot, en prenant appui sur la poésie archaïque, tenta de démontrer que le terme kakos ne revêt pas une connotation strictement morale. Il véhicule une série de semeia pour désigner cette masse démunie La démarche s'inscrit dans l'optique d'un réexamen du problème lancinant de la possibilité de distinguer aristocrates et gens du peuple à l'époque archaïque. E. Caire a choisi de focaliser son étude sur les procédés usités par le vieil oligarque pour vilipender le régime démocratique athénien afin de démontrer que, loin d'être de simples attaques d'un théoricien hostile, les thèmes développés trouveront écho chez les artisans de la révolution oligarchique.

Le second chapitre aborde le thème « Regard et discours sur l'abus des formes de blâme : réserves et pratique ». T. Haziza analysant le mythe de Busiris et de Protée chez Hérodote, parvint à déceler chez l'historien « une double condamnation »: l'attitude dépréciative des Grecs envers les Egyptiens d'une part et l'attitude d'Hérodote s'opposant aux préjugés des Grecs d'autre part. L'étude de Marie-Rose Guelfucci permet de comprendre les vindictes de Polybe contre Théopompe et Timée. Pour l'auteur mégalopolitain, la critique à outrance fausse la vérité. Parrhèsia et kakègoria, sont au cœur de l'étude d'Ariane Guieu-Coppolani. Athènes se targuait d'être non seulement la cité de l'égalité de la parole mais aussi la cité où l'on pouvait tout dire. Mais les dérives sont inévitables. Certes, la kakègoria a été sévèrement critiquée par les orateurs athéniens, mais il n'en demeure pas moins qu'elle a été très largement utilisée. La réprobation peut revêtir une dimension morale et sociale pour atteindre le seuil de l'interdiction de parole. L'étude de J. Hesk montre que les invectives servent à catégoriser l'autre dans sa dimension négative. Le référent demeure les valeurs athéniennes. La loidoria d'Eschine ravalée par Démosthène en est la parfaite illustration. L'auteur soulève à la fin le problème des risques que courait le mauvais rhètôr ; une question qui a été également posée par Anne Guieu-Coppolani dans son travail.

Le chapitre III aborde le thème « Suggérer, exprimer, manifester blâme et réprobation : vocabulaire, manière et procédés ». L'étude de M. Fartzoff permet de voir que chez Sophocle, le blâme est avant tout « un danger et un déshonneur qu'il faut éviter ». Chez Eschyle, il sert à conditionner le lecteur. Quant à Euripide, le blâme n'est ni condamné ni rejeté « il est même assumé ». Il reflète ainsi une attitude critique sur les personnages et sur les dieux. F. Prost développe sa réflexion autour de deux idées majeures : la réprobation dans son rapport à la flatterie et à la parrhêsia, et réprobation et caractère (êthos). La réprobation, comme l'éloge et le blâme, doit s'attacher à l'opposition entre amitié et flatterie. La communication d'A.Vigourt aborde l'aspect réprobateur des signes divins sous le haut empire. L'homme se devait d'obtenir l'appui et le secours de ces êtres suprêmes qui ne se souciaient visiblement pas de la clarté des messages envoyés aux faibles immortels qui disposent, toutefois, d'une marge d'interprétation pour les décoder. Mais la réussite est loin d'être garantie.

« Dérision, stigmatisation et satire sur la scène » est le thème qu'aborde le chapitre IV. L'étude de C. Corbel-Morana a relevé chez Aristophane 6 vices majeurs permettant de catégoriser les figures noires d'un régime politique à la dérive. Néanmoins, l'invective pouvait, parfois, être perçue comme salutaire et nécessaire au bon fonctionnement de la démocratie. Toujours dans le même cadre spatio-temporel. G.Cuniberti, à travers les cas de Cléonymos et Clisthène d'Athènes dans l'œuvre du même poète, a pu montrer que le corps civique ne pouvait tolérer dans ses rangs des efféminés dont le portrait se confond avec celui des dépravés. L'article d'E. Marquis dégage chez Lucien trois niveaux dans le processus de dépréciation pour dénigrer les philosophes de son temps : récit, énonciation et intertextualité. Lucien mêle, dans une mise en scène burlesque, violence, invectives et polémique. Le lecteur doit adhérer à l'idée que les philosophes se comportent à l'opposé de ce qu'on attend d'eux.

Dans le chapitre V « Réprobation, dépréciation et faire valoir ». P. Pontier revient sur les différentes appellations pour désigner le roi perse chez Xénophon. L'article s'attèle à montrer qu'Artaxerxés est souvent désigné par le terme Roi (dans l'Anabase et dans les Helléniques). L'antonomase serait le résultat d'une tendance à se conformer à la logique de la dénomination officielle. « Artaxerxés, frère de Cyrus » et les qualificatifs « le Perse et le Barbare » chez Xénophon traduisent le désir de ravaler le personnage pour enraciner, par la dépréciation, l'idée de l'ennemi héréditaire des Grecs. La réflexion de A. Queyrel Bottineau, en partant du discours Plataïque d'Isocrate, analyse les dynamiques politiques qui auraient incité l'orateur à attribuer à un Platéen un discours dont l'un des procédés est le recours à l'histoire pour marteler une idée maitresse : Thèbes est une cité qui a toujours trahi la cause grecque. La comparaison avec d'autres sources (Hérodote et Thucydide) permet de mesurer la véhémence d'Isocrate qui s'explique par son hostilité à l'empire perse et son opposition à la montée de Thèbes en tant que puissance rivale.

Le chapitre VI « Passion, politique et rhétorique : anéantir par la violence du verbe » aborde l'invective oratoire. En étudiant le discours de Lysias contre Ergoclès, C. Bearzot a démontré, qu'en associant Thrasybule à Ergoclès, Lysias tenta de démolir l'image du libérateur de Phylé pour en faire un lâche, un politicien qui enrichit ses propres amis, aspirant même à devenir un despote. E. Bianco examine les procédés de Démosthène dans le Contre Aristocrate pour brosser un portrait accablant du chef mercenaire Charidème. Outre les thèmes classiques, l'orateur recourt à l'histoire (comparaison avec les héros de Marathon et Salamine) et insiste sur l'absence de lien solide entre sa cible et la cité pour s'opposer enfin au décret de protection pour le chef des mercenaires proposé par Aristocrate. Le travail de S. Gotteland se penche sur deux discours, celui de Démosthène et celui de Dinarque, pour étudier le portrait d'un parfait sycophante. Avec des stratégies différentes, les deux orateurs s'attèlent à démontrer qu'Aristogiton, est le prototype du mauvais citoyen qui calomniait les citoyens honnêtes pour faire de leur cible non pas un ennemi public mais un monstre inhumain. Dans la même perspective s'inscrit le travail de M.-C. Ferriès analysant la vindicte de Cicéron contre Antoine et son parti. En s'inspirant de Démosthène, l'orateur tenta de catégoriser sa cible avec des traits originaux pour donner à l'attaque toute sa force. L'orateur vilipende les Antonii sur tous les plans pour en faire non pas de simples adversaires politiques mais des ennemis publics menaçant la vie même de L'Urbs.

Le chapitre VII aborde le thème « Les sentiments négatifs , un rôle moteur dans l'histoire? » S'appuyant sur des sources très variées, A. Queyrel– Bottineau revient sur ce sentiment d'abandon ressenti par les Athéniens lors de la seconde guerre médique. Ancrée dans la mémoire collective, cette émotion finit par ériger la belle image de l'Athènes philhellène avant de devenir enfin un topos repris par les orateurs pour faire l'éloge de la cité. Derrière l'image luisante d'Athènes, se profile celle de Sparte accusée d'avoir abandonné les Grecs. Y. Benferhat étudie l'effet de la inuidia sur la vie politique selon Tacite pour montrer que la jalousie est un sentiment essentiel dans la vie politique et elle constitue un moteur des débats aussi bien que des actes.

L'avant dernier chapitre s'intéresse à « L'étranger : une construction dans l'espace ou le temps, entre réserve et méfiance ». D. Lenfant s'est évertué à fixer les contours de l'image des eunuques à l'époque classique pour montrer qu'elle ne sert systématiquement pas à valoriser, par opposition, l'image des Grecs. L'approche dépasse la vision réductrice pour parler de représentations plurielles conditionnées par des soucis autres que le souci identitaire. La communication de Ph. Rodriguez analyse l'attitude des Egyptiens face au pouvoir gréco-macédonien du temps de Ptolémée II. Le papyrus de Zénon fait état de critiques formulées par les Egyptiens allant contre un certain Damis tout en montrant leur confiance dans ses supérieurs. Leur réaction n'atteint pas encore le stade de l'agressivité mais traduit néanmoins une forme de contestation. Analysant le discours sur les Athéniens dans le roman de Chariton, E. Romieux-Brun a démontré que le discours de Théon n'est qu'une relecture inversée de l'œuvre de Thucydide. Derrière l'image de l'Athènes de l'époque impériale, se profile celle du Vème siècle exerçant une politique pesante sur ses alliés. Le travail de T. Grandjean analyse les différents vices accolés aux Bithyniens. Des stéréotypes sont repris à satiété pour accentuer leur caractère monstrueux. La genèse de cette image se rattacherait à l'arrivée de ce peuple dans la région. Les colonies grecques se sont retrouvées face à ces nouveaux venus de plus en plus menaçants pour leurs intérêts économiques.

Dans le dernier chapitre, E. Parmentier aborde les versions de la fin tragique d'Hérode. Flavius Josèphe, utilisant le souvenir de la répression d'Antiochos IV, établit un lien de cause à effet entre la répression de la révolte des jeunes juifs et la mort atroce du tyran qui, vue sous cet angle, n'est qu'une forme de châtiment divin . Quant à Eusèbe, il chercha à évacuer le contexte juif du récit de sa source (Flavius Josèphe) en substituant le crime évoqué par son modèle par des crimes contre le Christ et contre tous les enfants âgés de deux ans et moins à Bethléem. Le dernier travail de P. Paré-Rey s'intéresse à l'étude du portrait et autoportrait de Médée dans la tragédie de Sénèque pour qui il fallait que le personnage ne soit ni homme ni femme ni humain mais qu'il se laisse posséder par ses passions. Sous l'éclairage de la voix du chœur surtout, elle est l'incarnation du mal et de la sauvagerie.

Même si le thème choisi n'est pas nouveau, le livre est très enrichissant. Les travaux proposés permettent, en effet, d'aborder la question sous des éclairages novateurs. En s'appuyant sur les sources textuelles, le livre offre une approche pluridisciplinaire couronnée de probants résultats. Sans se perdre dans les sinuosités de l'histoire évènementielle, les communications ont, judicieusement, analysé les catégories de pensées des différents protagonistes et les formes qu'elles ont revêtues pour exprimer leur hostilité, leur réprobation et leur dépréciation de l'autre permettant ainsi de comprendre les stratégies en usage pour ravaler un ennemi, une cité rivale, une communauté, un peuple, une catégorie sociale, un roi barbare, de saisir les moyens déployés par les différents acteurs chacun selon les réquisits de son art, de déceler les soucis qui les hantaient et partant, d'apercevoir les objectifs prisés mais souvent dissimulés. Avec des degrés de réussite différents, les travaux s'inscrivent dans la même synergie ; le fil conducteur étant toujours la représentation négative de l'autre. Enfin un autre mérite de ce livre et non des moindres, est d'avoir, en dépit de l'indigence de la documentation, tenté de sauver la voix des vaincus vouée le plus souvent à l'oubli ou présentée sous le prisme déformant du vainqueur. Le lecteur ne peut s'empêcher de relever une certaine redondance entre quelques travaux ayant eu à aborder des thèmes communs et de déplorer l'omission de la bibliographie relative à l'article d'A. Perrot.

Table des Matières

Anne Queyrel Bottineau, "Introduction"
Dichotomie entre deux mondes, antagonismes et interactions
Christophe Chandezon, "L'ekhthra dans les Oneirokritika d'Artémidore de Daldis, Contribution à une réflexion sur l'inimitié et les réseaux dans la société grecque" (23-40)
Christine Hunzinger, "Le spectre des kakoi dans le corpus élégiaque attribué à Théognis" (41-58)
Antoine Pierrot, "Vilains, gueux et va-nu-pieds en Grèce archaïque" (59-84)
Emmanuèle Caire, "« Dans chaque cité, c'est la racaille qui est favorable au peuple... ». La stigmatisation des démocrates dans l'Athenaion Politeia du Pseudo-Xénophon" (85-98)
Regard et discours sur l'abus des formes de blâme: réserves et pratique
Typhaine Haziza, "Hérodote contre l'opinion : Busiris vs Protée" (101-116)
Marie-Rose Guelfucci, "La représentation négative de l'autre dans les Histoires de Polybe et les styles du moraliste" (117-126)
Ariane Guieu-Coppolani, "Παρρησία et κακηγορία : l'exercice et les limites de la liberté de parole dans la cité démocratique" (127-142)
Jon Hesk, "La construction de l' « autre » et la contestation du « soi ». L'invective et l'elenchos dans l'art oratoire athénien" (143-160)
Suggérer, exprimer, manifester blâme et réprobation: vocabulaire, manière et procédés
Michel Fartzoff, "Le blâme dans la Tragédie grecque" (163-176)
François Prost, "La réprobation dans les deux premières lettres de Cicéron à son frère Quintus, gouverneur d'Asie : une comparaison avec Plutarque, Comment distinguer l'ami du flatteur" (177-186)
Annie Vigourt, "Indignité et fautes dénoncées par les dieux (Haut-Empire romain)" (187-202)
Dérision, stigmatisation et satire sur la scène
Cécile Corbel-Morana, "La construction du type du démagogue dans la comédie ancienne: codes et fonctions du blâme comique" (205-220)
Gianluca Cuniberti, "Les différences de genre et les habitudes sexuelles entre satire comique et délégitimation politique : les cas de Cléonymos et Clisthène d'Athènes chez Aristophane" (221-234)
Émeline Marquis, "La représentation négative de l'autre chez Lucien : les philosophes du Banquet ou les Lapithes" (235-250)
Réprobation, dépréciation et faire-valoir
Pierre Pontier, "Artaxerxès II et les noms du Roi chez Xénophon" (253-268)
Anne Queyrel Bottineau, "« Rappeler leurs anciennes trahisons serait un long travail » : les Thébains selon Isocrate" (269-296)
Passion, politique et rhétorique : anéantir par la violence du verbe
Cinzia Bearzot, "L'image « noire » de Thrasybule dans le Contre Ergocles de Lysias" (299-312)
Elisabetta Bianco, "Charidème : un héros du mal chez Démosthène" (313-328)
Sophie Gotteland, "Ἄσπειστος, ἀνίδρυτος, ἄμεικτος (Dem., C. Aristog. I, 52) : Aristogiton chez les orateurs attiques" (329-346)
Marie-Claire Ferriès, "Le venin et la République. Les Antonii et leurs partisans croqués par Cicéron" (347-368)
Les sentiments négatifs, un rôle moteur dans l'histoire ?
Anne Queyrel Bottineau, "Les Lacédémoniens coupables d'abandon lors de la seconde guerre médique : mémoire et ressentiment dans le discours athénien, d'Hérodote à Plutarque" (371-406)
Yasmina Benferhat, "Le miroir déformant de la jalousie. L'invidia dans la vie politique selon Tacite" (407-420)
L'étranger : une construction dans l'espace ou le temps, entre réserve et méfiance
Dominique Lenfant, "Le mépris des eunuques dans la Grèce classique: orientalisme ou anachronisme ?" (423-442)
Philippe Rodriguez, "L'expression d'une forme de réprobation par les Égyptiens à l'encontre du pouvoir gréco-macédonien sous Ptolémée II" (443-454)
Élodie Romieux-Brun, "Le discours sur les Athéniens dans le roman de Chariton : critique ou reconnaissance d'un déclin ?" (455-468)
Thierry Grandjean, "Les origines du blâme des Bithyniens : des Thraces aux Antonins" (469-486)
La représentation négative au superlatif : excès et monstruosité
Édith Parmentier, "Le blâme d'Hérode dans les sources juives et chrétiennes : essai de déconstruction" (489-504)
Pascale Paré-Rey, "« [...] maius parat / Medea monstrum » : portraits et autoportrait de Médée dans la tragédie de Sénèque" (505-524)

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M. L. West, Hellenica: Selected Papers on Greek Literature and Thought. Volume III: Philosophy, Music and Metre, Literary Byways, Varia. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xiii, 513. ISBN 9780199605033. $150.00.

Reviewed by Edith Hall, King's College London (

Version at BMCR home site


Martin West died very suddenly on July 13th 2015, leaving a hole in the lives not only of his family but of countless former students, colleagues, and academic correspondents all over the world. There can't be a reader of BMCR who has not used his editions of Hesiod and archaic Greek poetry, his work on the Ancient Near Eastern elements in Greek culture, or (my personal favourite) his readable and breathtakingly learned Ancient Greek Music (1992). He was a kind and helpful examiner of my doctoral thesis in 1988 and ever afterwards found time for a coffee and help with the latest on musical papyri, enhanced by punning conversation. I had asked to do the BMCR review of this book before his death, and apologise for the delay in writing it.

It is the final volume in the three-book set Hellenica, containing a 'selection of ninety or so of his most notable papers relating to Greek literature or thought'. It is an index of his productiveness that this last volume contains a list of dozens of other articles he published that have not been included. Volume I was devoted to early epic and Volume II to epic and tragedy. Volume III assembles thirty-five pieces—eleven on broadly philosophical topics, ten on 'Music and Metre', and fourteen under the heading 'Literary Byways, Varia.' They are of different lengths, ranging between two and thirty pages. They have been published over a period of four decades. It is remarkably difficult to tell from the prose and argumentation how old most of them are, so distinctive and consistent were West's lucid prose, common-sense approach to all cultural artefacts, and lack of interest in ephemerally fashionable theory. Given that almost all the articles reproduced here are available elsewhere, the Hellenica project, with its reams of unapologetically untranslated ancient Greek and high price tag, does prompt reflection on the whole tradition of the publication by elite University Presses of Great Men's Opera Minora. But in this case, the author's personality and sheer intellectual versatility, as well as the inclusion of some hard-to-access pieces, makes it enjoyable to read the volume straight through from beginning to end.

Although the first article in the 'Music and Metre' section, 'The Transmission of Ancient Greek Music: Then and Now', has been supplemented since its first publication in Classica 2004-5, and West made small changes and corrections in other chapters, the only article in the volume that has never been published before is 'The Date of Zoroaster' (ch. 5). Here he attempts to date the commencement of the Zoroastrian religion practised by Darius I and his descendants. Some scholars have pushed the life of the eponymous founder of the religion, Zoroaster himself, back to as early as 1000 BCE. Yet it is not possible to be certain even that Cyrus was a Zoroastrian. West's linguistic comparison of texts in Old Avestan with Vedic hymns reveals that Zoroaster's 'own' prose style was strikingly replete with abstract nouns and complex subordinate clauses, making it unlikely that his date can be pushed back earlier than the eight century BCE; West prefers the seventh. Since this fits with both what we known about the Achaemenids and the Jewish identification of Zoroaster with Ezekiel, West's finding here is unlikely to prove controversial. But, as ever with this dazzling polyglot, ordinary classical Hellenists unskilled in Avestan etc. are ill equipped to do more than admire his erudition and accept his findings.

West was aware that identifying a single unifying theme amongst the contents of this volume was hopeless. In his Preface, he admitted that it had caused pain to his 'artistic spirit to have to give a volume so limp and sprawling a subtitle as this one has', but that it was the result of not having channelled his work 'more purposefully and into fewer fields.' For those of us who like reading West, however, the very diversity, the fascination with esoteric philosophical ideas, the attraction to eccentric and bizarre or even absurd detail, are part of the charm. Reading this volume sometimes feels like reading a far more rigorous Athenaeus: good examples are chapter 8, in which we learn about the obscure Petron of Himera (known to us only through Plutarch's de Defectu Oraculorum), who believed that there were one hundred and eighty-three universes, chapter 9, which argues about how Plato spelt katoptron ('mirror'), and ch.10, which alters just one word (albeit an important one) in Aristotle's On Coming to be and Passing Away. Best of all for the lover of arcana is West's text and analysis of the Hebdomadibus attributed to Hippocrates, which sees the number seven in almost everything, from the structure of the material world to the seven ages of man. The volume is worth acquiring for this excellent text and commentary alone.

West's classic and relatively conventional survey of the Presocratics (ch. 2, originally published in The Oxford History of the Classical World (1986), rubs shoulders with his riveting argument in ch. 4 that the Greek Orphics got the idea of the Cosmic Egg, parodied so beautifully in Aristophanes' Birds, from the Phoenicians; he offers us a wonderful picture of Eudemos sitting in a Rhodian port talking to 'Sidonian' sailors about such eggs, and takes seriously Eusebius' accounts of Phoenician traditions, acquired through Philo, propounded by the purported authority Sanchuniathon of Beirut. The sensible opening essay, 'Towards Monotheism', irons out (to my mind, slightly too many) complexities in early Greek cosmogonic strife, but nevertheless sustains a plausible argument about the drift away from polytheism at least in the Mediterranean part of the planet. Yet the seminal account of Alcman and Pythagoras, published in 1967 only a decade after the emergence of PMG fr. 5 iii, with its delightful material on Greek and Babylonian sea goddesses and chthonic spirit gong rituals, shows an adventurous intellect experimenting with new models of analysis. We catch a glimpse of West's own expertise in astronomy in 'The mighty Planet' (ch. 6), which takes off from the mysterious heavenly body Mesonyx mentioned by Stesichorus (PMG fr. 259) on a whirlwind tour of the night skies as descried in archaic and classical Greece, before persuasively arguing that 'Midnight' could be the title of several ill understood planets at that time, including Jupiter and Saturn. I enjoyed even more the paper 'Cosmology in the Greek tragedians', which we are endearingly told was 'originally delivered in a French restaurant in Tokyo', with its exploration of tragic characters' and choruses' cosmological statements, for example when the wanderings of the hero are a recounted by the chorus of Euripides' Heracles Mainomenos. Who knew what a variety of meanings the noun aither could have in the tragedians, including Polyphemus' halitotic breath in Euripides' Cyclops?

The middle section provides treats for scholars specialising in ancient music. The expanded ch. 12, on transmission, contains indispensable comments on early Greek musical annotation, the difference between signs for singers and those for instrumentalists, and their vestigial presence in the papyri; there is also a colourful word-picture of Heraclides Ponticus, listening to Lasus of Hermione's Hymn to Demeter in the Hypodorian mode. West had a splendid ability to bring life to obscure individuals, with intellectual peccadilloes, in remote corners of the Greek world. He is happy to write himself into humorous stories, too: this chapter contains enticing glimpses of a concert performance of ancient Greek music he once attended in Brazil. Chapters 13-14 discuss when the word pektis began to mean 'panpipe' as well as (or instead of) 'lute' and the precise structure of the 'eleven-stringed lyre' notoriously mentioned in a passage of Ion (of Chios?) fr. 32 West. One of the most important chapters in the volume is 15, West's excellent commentary on P.Hibeh 13, a crucial text for ancient music studies, variously attributed to Hippias or Alcidamas, which discusses the Harmonikoi, music theorists who had absorbed Damon's notions about the ethical effects of music on the human soul. This is followed by an article arguing that P.Oxy 1786, an anapaestic Christian hymn with precious musical notation, is Greek rather than Syriac in origin, and the witty 'Music Therapy in Antiquity.' The latter makes a serious contribution to our understanding of the medical standing of music in antiquity while introducing us to some of the most charming anecdotes in West's entire oeuvre: my favourite concerns the women of Locri and Rhegium, who heard disembodied voices. The cure prescribed by the oracle was the singing of a paean twelve times a day for no fewer than sixty days. Presumably not much time was left in sufficient silence for disembodied voices to make themselves heard any more.

The general reader will find some of the papers in the third section heavy going, especially the four metrical pieces, chapters 18-21. But a much wider audience will be attracted to chapter 22, 'The Greek Poetess: her Role and Image', the first English translation of West's substantial survey of evidence for female composers of poetry in the ancient Greek world, originally published in German in 1996. There is some fascinating material here on chorus-leader-turned-composer Telesilla of Argos, and unfamiliar female figures like Eriphanis, the traditional inventor of a certain kind of pastoral ode called the nomion, mentioned in a fragment of Aristotle's pupil Clearchus. There are interesting observations on the more familiar ancient women poets—Sappho, Nossis, Erinna and Corinna. But West is fundamentally sceptical about ancient women's opportunities for learning musical skills (more attention to vase-painting evidence and inscriptions recording female instrumentalists might have tempered his minimalist case). If any ancient male author ever questions whether a work was by a woman—as Athenaeus questioned the authenticity of poems attributed to Erinna, or doubts were cast on the Praxilla of Sicyon's claim to have composed paroinia, drinking songs—West always believed the negative rather than the positive testimony. Although there is now considerable evidence for women's epic in traditional societies in parts of Africa and south- east Asia, he insists that that this was out of the question in ancient Greece: 'That a woman could have produced such a poem in that society is inconceivable'. His tone here is wearing, and compounded by the dismissal of several fine studies in the first footnote as 'feminist-dilettante', and, near the end, the lumping together of 'feminist essays' and 'erotic fiction' as a category distinct from the work of 'serious scholars'. This may have been acceptable academic discourse twenty years ago, and one must remember that West spent most of his adult life inside Oxford colleges and thus largely protected from shifts in wider public sensibility. This article will be helpful, but for the wrong reasons, in teaching 'Women in Ancient Greece' courses today.

Yet the remainder of the volume is a joy. In chapter 23 we are treated to an unanswerable case that Aphrodite's name originated, appropriately enough, in the language spoken by Cypriot Phoenicians; the fairly recent study of rhapsodes at festivals in chapter 24 illuminates some neglected inscriptions showing how far these prestigious professional musicians travelled on the competitive circuit; chapter 25 is a reproduction of West's classic 1967 article on 'The Contest of Homer and Hesiod'. His equally influential studies of Aesopic fables, Ion of Chios and Erinna follow, before four brief but compelling notes on P.Oxy 4762 (perhaps a mime about a woman having sex with a donkey), Longinus and the Ancient Near Eastern gods, imperial acrostics and the parallels between the diction of Proclus and the 8th Homeric Hymn (to Ares). Chapter 34 reproduces a rather bland obituary for E.R. Dodds and a markedly charitable one for Hugh Lloyd-Jones. The final chapter consists of a collection of obiter dicta—both published and unpublished—which remind us how buoyant and witty West always was as a conversationalist—'Profound thoughts are not created by presenting obscure thoughts obscurely' is one of my favourites, although it is just beaten into second place by 'Oral poetry has inspired much anal prose.' Priceless.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016


Christopher A. Faraone, Vanishing Acts on Ancient Greek Amulets: From Oral Performance to Visual Design. BICS supplement, 115. London: Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2012. Pp. xii, 105. ISBN 9781905670406. £38.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Katherine McDonald, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed at the end of the review.]

The 'vanishing acts' of the title refer to the 'vanishing' names or words on ancient amulets: these names are written over and over on magical amulets, one letter shorter on each repetition, so that the word 'disappears' by the end of the text. These texts were referred to in ancient times as 'wing-shaped' (if they made a right-angled triangle) and 'heart-shaped' (if they made an isosceles triangle, usually by deleting letters from both the beginning and the end of each line). In the early twentieth century, these were viewed as curative amulets which cured illness by gradually 'deleting' a disease or the demon who caused it, a process dubbed deletio morbi. More recent scholarship had moved away from this view of wing- and heart-shaped texts, noting that these 'vanishing' texts could be used to summon as well as banish — for example, to call on a demon in a love spell, or to encourage menstrual bleeding to start. In this short monograph Faraone seeks to revive the idea of deletio morbi by showing that it constitutes the earliest stage of an evolving magical tradition, while acknowledging the large degree of variation which exists within this small corpus.

Faraone stresses that the generic differences between the various types of amulet and non-amuletic magic are the key to our understanding of the historical development of wing- and heart-shaped magical texts. He suggests that, in origin, the practice of writing wing- and heart-shaped amulet texts derived from oral magical practices, in which the name of the demon would be repeated aloud and reduced progressively until its name was gone. Setting up five basic stages of development (p6-7), Faraone argues for purely oral 'vanishing speech-acts' in the earliest phase, with handbooks writing out the spell but only referring to it being read out, not copied in written form. There is then a progression through several stages where the triangular layout of these texts was developed and the oral and visual influenced and fed off each other, finally resulting in a stage where the only consideration was the visual appearance of the written text. It is in these later stages that (Faraone suggests) scribes noticed that the name of the demon or disease remains present in a written 'vanishing text' not only along the first line, but also along the diagonal of the triangle, making the writing text quite unlike oral versions of the spell. As a result, extra symbols and magical characteres are added to the sides of the triangle of text in some cases to 'contain' the vanishing demon. But in other cases, the triangular text is used instead to give power to and summon a demon rather than making it disappear, and so wing- and heart-shaped texts are believed to be appropriate in some cases to love-charms. In these later stages, the triangles may appear in groups, or upside-down, and are much less likely to include comprehensible Greek.

Faraone is generally cautious about how clear-cut these developments are, though he suggests that these five stages may become a helpful diagnostic for dating new amulets as they are discovered and gives an outline of likely dates based on existing examples (p76). He nevertheless fully acknowledges the fuzzy boundaries between these stages of development, and says from the outset that the evidence is 'not so tidy' (p7), expanding on this lack of tidiness particularly in the final chapter. Overall, his heuristic use of a five-stage development, with detailed readings of the evidence which allow for porous boundaries between the stages, leads to a highly convincing explanation of the use and development of wing- and heart-shaped texts, and seems to be a valuable contribution to our understanding of ancient amulets.

The internal chapters of the book each take a different illness as their main focus: fever (Chapter 2), bleeding (Chapter 3) and headaches and sore throats (Chapter 4). Chapter 3 is based on Faraone (2009a), and Chapter 4 combines Faraone (2009b) and (2010). In practice, Faraone allows himself to draw comparisons across genres where necessary, and it would be best not to read any one chapter in isolation. The Appendix (given on several slightly awkward fold-out pages) lists 49 amulets and amulet recipes from around the first century CE to the sixth century CE, and Faraone gives close readings of almost all of these at some point in the monograph, usually accompanied by photographs, drawings or typed representations of the layout of the text. Most of the examples he includes are in the Greek alphabet and the Greek language (where the inscriptions have identifiable words), but he also includes several examples which use Latin, Aramaic and Coptic.

The real strength of the work is the close attention that Faraone pays to both the language and the materiality of the amulets. His focus on the materiality of the amulets addresses a very current issue in research on magic of all periods (see for example Boschung and Bremmer 2015; Houlbrook and Armitage 2015). He argues that the material of the amulet seems to be specific to individual diseases, with haematite for bleeding, cool-coloured stones for fever, and so on. Faraone suggests that we may be able to use the colour and material of the amulet as a diagnostic where the purpose of the charm is not stated explicitly, which allows him to include several additional texts in his fever chapter (p32). He also includes the interesting suggestion that ceramics may have functioned as 'a poor man's version of a cool stone' (p24).

Regarding the language of the amulets, Faraone shows that words which appear at first sight to be nonsense (and may, in some cases, have seemed to be nonsense even to the original users of the spell) can in fact be shown to have origins in understandable Greek words or names, often with a plausible connection to the disease which the charm was supposed to cure. In the examples from Aramaic and Coptic, for example, Greek words and names have often been transliterated into other writing systems; the Latin word morbus 'disease' also appears backwards on a number of Greek amulets as ΣΟΥΒΡΟΜ (p18). These transliterations quickly seem to become 'nonsense' magical words to the users of the spells, showing the important role of language contact in the creation of magical traditions in the Mediterranean. The author's focus on the interplay between orality and writing throughout the book is thoughtful, and is present in all of his close readings. But he could go even further, since literacy probably also had an effect on the first, oral stage of the five-stage development he lays out. The practice of reciting names which reduce by one letter-sound each time must itself be heavily influenced by alphabetic literacy, since non-literate individuals do not usually segment words into phonemes in this way (Morais et al 1979; Manfrellotti 2001). It seems therefore that even the earliest oral stage of vanishing names may have been dependent on written versions in handbooks, or at least heavily influenced by the alphabetic literacy that was present in Greek society of the first century AD.

The book is well-produced and clearly laid out, with useful indexes. The Appendix, while very helpful, could have been easier to use if it had been printed on normal pages rather than as fold-outs. It is also inconvenient that the Appendix lists the main features of each text (including the words in the wing- or heart-shaped formation, the invocation and any images, the date and material) but does not give the full text of each amulet, for which readers must refer back to the main chapters. Many of these texts are quite long, and so a full corpus of texts would have added somewhat to the length of the book – but given that the book as it stands is only just over 100 pages, it would have been a bonus to make this a user-friendly reference book as well as a well-argued monograph.

In conclusion, Faraone argues convincingly for the development of the oral magical and medical practice of 'vanishing names' into wing- and heart-shaped written forms, with orality and writing feeding off each other at multiple points during the spells' evolution. His close attention to the language and orality of these texts makes for a compelling contribution to the study of ancient magical amulets.

Readers interested in the volume can currently find the preface, table of contents and first chapter on Faraone's page here.1

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Oral performance and epigraphic habit
2. Fever: Palindromes, confrontation and containment
3. Bleeding: The evolution of a vox magica
4. Headache and sore throat: Vanishing acts as expulsion rituals
5. Conclusions: A tentative history of disappearing speech-acts
Appendix: Survey of wing- and heart-shaped names in magical texts
Non-amuletic magic
Subject index
Magical texts and gems
Index of foreign words
Index locorum


1.   References:

Dietrich Boschung and Jan N. Bremmer (eds.) (2015) The Materiality of Magic. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink.
Christopher Faraone (2009a) 'Does Tantalus drink the blood, or not?: An enigmatic series of inscribed hematite gemstones.' In U. Deli and C. Walde (eds.) Antike Mythen: Medien, Transformationen und Konstruktionen. Berlin; New York: De Gruyter. 248-273.
Christopher Faraone (2009b) 'A Socratic leaf-charm for headache (Charmides 155b-157c), Orphic gold leaves and the ancient Greek tradition of leaf amulets.' In J. Dijkstra, J. Kroesen and Y. Kuiper (eds.) Myths, martyrs, and modernity. Studies in the history of religions in honour of Jan N. Bremmer. Leiden; Boston: Brill. 145-166.
Christopher Faraone (2010) 'A Greek magical gemstone from the Black Sea: amulet or miniature handbook?' Kernos 23. 91-114.
Ceri Houlbrook and Natalie Armitage (eds.) (2015) The Materiality of Magic: An artifactual investigation into ritual practices and popular beliefs. Oxford: Oxbow.
Olga M. Manfrellotti (2001) 'The role of literacy in the recognition of phonological units' Italian Journal of Linguistics 13(1): 85-98.
José Morais, Luz Cary, Jésus Alegria and Paul Bertelson (1979) 'Does awareness of speech as a series of phones arise spontaneously?' Cognition 7(4): 323-331.
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Response: Allen on Konstantopoulos on Allen, The Splintered Divine: A Study of Ištar, Baal, and Yahweh Divine Names and Divine Multiplicity in the Ancient Near East. Response to 2016.02.33

Response by Spencer L. Allen, King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies, University of Arkansas (

Version at BMCR home site

I would like to thank Gina Konstantopoulos for her recent review of my book, The Splintered Divine: A Study of Ištar, Baal, and Yahweh Divine Names and Divine Multiplicity in the Ancient Near East. I appreciate all of her kind words and welcome her criticisms as part of the continued dialogue about our modern conceptualizations of ancient deities in our fields of study. I am especially thankful that she brought to everyone's attention a previously unnoticed mechanical and technical error.

As she rightly notes toward the conclusion of the review, a few words were inadvertently deleted from the book's main body of text, whereas these same words do appear included in the book's index. Specifically, the words "witness list" (or "witness-lists," depending on the context) are missing, sometimes multiple times in a sentence. This is especially problematic in section 3.4, which happens to be titled "Witness-List Traditions." Naturally the absence of these words may make reading those sections of the book rather confusing.

Upon learning of this problem yesterday, the SANER editor Gonzalo Rubio, the De Gruyter project editor John Whitley, and I have reviewed our notes trying to discover the source of the error. After checking all sets of proofs, De Gruyter has concluded that these deletions occurred when the book's indexes were being compiled by a typesetter during the third round of proofs, in the final stages of production. This is an unprecedented error at De Gruyter and the publisher will put measures in place to prevent such an unusual mechanical error from happening again.

In its commitment to serious scholarship, De Gruyter is now producing a corrected version of the ebook, and all future reprints of my book will contain the corrected text as well. Moreover, a list of corrections will also be posted on the De Gruyter website for this title (

I would like to thank Bryn Mawr Classical Review for the opportunity to post this response and to direct people to the correction of this serious issue. On my own behalf and on behalf of everyone involved in this project, I would like to apologize to my readership for the confusion or irritation this might have caused you. Please rest assured that this is a one-time occurrence both for SANER and for De Gruyter, and that all future projects will proceed with the extreme care that has characterized the books printed by De Gruyter for over 260 years.

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