Thursday, March 31, 2016


Brian Walters (trans.), Lucan: Civil War. Indianapolis; Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2015. Pp. xlviii, 266. ISBN 9781603849968. $17.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Neil W. Bernstein, Ohio University (

Version at BMCR home site


This new Lucan appears in Hackett's series of translations of ancient epic, characterized by Lombardo's appealing versions of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, and Statius. Walters takes these volumes as his self-avowed models and imagines "a Lucan who can sit—with some slight unease—beside" (xii) Lombardo's works. There are many good choices in this translation. Walters has a fine ear for the range and rhythm of American demotic and often creates excellent turns and images. He makes judicious dictional choices, such as "winter had amped [the] strength" (1.242) of the tiny river Rubicon (BC 1.217 vires praebebat hiemps), or "scrambled feedback / Utterly unlike human speech" (6.721-2; BC 6.687 humanae multum discordia linguae). The Fury's stridentis… comas (BC 1.574) become "cobra-dreadlocks" (1.614-15), a fine phrase that enables the modern reader to envision both the visual image of the hair and its dangers. The appeal of the visual similarly motivates the translator's addition of "like cheesecloth" to Lucan's description of "wounds admitting water" (1.698) through a sailor's perforated body at Massilia (perfosso pectore corpus / volneribus transmisit aquas, BC 3.660-1). Poor Aulus, the first victim of the African snakes on Cato's doomed march, finds that "scorching venom… / makes his tongue bake in a sweltering mouth-oven" (9.757-9; BC 9.744 in sicco linguam torrere palato). Rhythm, off-rhyme, and an unexpected coinage contribute effectively to the power of the ecphrasis.

When Marius captures Rome, "Death walked through the city / With giant strides and killed nobodies and nobles / Indiscriminately!", (2.114-16), an excellent combination of rhythm, echo, and enjambement (BC 2.100-1 quantoque gradu mors saeua cucurrit! / nobilitas cum plebe perit). Walters' whiny Cornelia well represents Lucan's humor, as when she promises her husband: "I'll haunt the cliffs, a nervous wreck" (5.859; BC 5.780 sollicitam rupes… tenebunt). Braund's "anxiously shall I frequent the cliffs" and Fox's "I'll cling to the crags, afflicted" lack the same impact.1 In the account of the minor skirmishing around Dyrrachium, "many unspeakable acts were chalked up / to target practice" (6.85-6) effectively communicates Lucan's cynicism about the cheapness of human life in civil war (BC6.79 et fit saepe nefas iaculum temptante lacerto).

The translation's shortcomings, however, make this volume a much less attractive choice for instructors who want to introduce the Bellum Civile to Latinless undergraduates than Fox's 2012 Penguin. Walters's syntax is often difficult for a modern reader: there are too many passive verbs, hyperbaton can often separate a "not" two lines from its referent, and the translator sometimes leaves it to the reader to figure out whether a genitive is subjective or objective. Other weaknesses involve problems of tone, theme, and accuracy that go well beyond the translator's freedom to omit, condense, or silently gloss. I give a few examples:

BC 1.164-5 cultus gestare decoros / uix nuribus rapuere mares. The decadent Roman nobles are imagined to wear clothing barely acceptable for young women of marriageable age. English is more definite than Latin in its use of terminology that distinguishes age groupings. Walters's "unfit for little girls" (1.185) gives the image of grown men prancing around in elementary-school children's garments, not the transparent gowns and other sexually alluring articles of clothing praised by the elegists.

BC 2.303-4 tuumque / nomen, Libertas, et inanem persequar umbram. Cato's famous address to Liberty reaches a high point in his resolve to follow its mere name and empty shadow. Walters's "And, Liberty, I'll follow even your empty shade" omits the crucial phrase tuumque nomen. This is a particularly unfortunate omission in a poem so concerned with the contrast between appearance and reality, that makes first Pompey's great name and then the gods themselves empty shadows.

A less severe, but still noticeable problem appears to be the translator's distrust in the original poem's appeal. Walters announces his intention to celebrate Lucan's "rhetorical excesses that are... the real meat and bone of the Civil War" (xii). This barb is presumably aimed not at contemporaries but at Graves' efforts in the 1950s to curtail such unmodern offenses against taste. Fox's Penguin and Braund's World's Classics view preserving Lucan's rhetoric as their mission as well, and Fox's introduction offers a detailed reception history of the negative use of the term "rhetorical". The epic catalog, for instance, is one of Lucan's rhetorical pleasures that does not often appeal to the modern reader. Thus BC 1.392-465, for example, lists the various Gallic peoples left ungarrisoned by Caesar's departure from Gaul. Lucan creates effective variation in this catalog by emphasizing the atypical: picturesque Gallic weapons and dress, unusual tides, gods with bizarre rituals. After BC 1.447, Walters contributes variation of his own invention, a five-fold repetition of the same word ("Rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice," 1.485). Fronto may have condemned Lucan for his repetitiveness, but no ancient poet would go one better than Shakespeare's Lear ("Howl, howl, howl, howl"). Walters has made a strange decision to contribute some additional excess at one of the catalog's most extreme moments, a reference to human sacrifice.

W. R. Johnson's illuminating introduction discusses the poet's attitude toward Nero, his abandonment of epic's traditional divine machinery, the epic's jaundiced attitude toward heroism, and its variety of narrative styles. Walters includes plot synopses and a glossary in an effort to make the translation more student-friendly. The volume still lacks explanatory notes, often employs challenging syntax, and does not gloss enough of the kennings that make the student's life difficult. On the first page of Walters's translation, the reader encounters Ausonia and the Seres; Fox speaks of a more recognizable Italy and the Chinese. Thanks to its clear translation and hundred-plus pages of intelligent and economical notes, Fox's Penguin remains the instructor's first choice.


1.   Susan H.Braund, Lucan. Civil War. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992; Matthew Fox and Ethan Adams, Lucan. Civil War. New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

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Alejandro Beltrán, Inés Sastre, Miriam Valdés (ed.), Los espacios de la esclavitud y la dependencia desde la antigüedad. Homenaje a Domingo Plácido. Actas del XXXV coloquio del GIREA. Besançon: Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2015. Pp. 826. ISBN 9782848675213. €49.00.

Reviewed by Marcello Ghetta, Université du Luxembourg (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

Die Akten der 35. Tagung der Groupe International de Recherches sur l'Esclavage dans l'Antiquité (GIREA), die vom 28. bis 30. November 2012 in Madrid stattfand, sind zugleich Festschrift für ihren Präsidenten Domingo Plácido. Räume von Sklaverei und Abhängigkeit stellen laut Buchtitel das Themenfeld dar, das durch 19 Beiträge zum griechischen und 19 zum römischen Bereich abgedeckt wird. Da die GIREA ihre Interessengebiete seit den letzten Jahren auch auf die neuzeitliche Sklaverei ausgedehnt hat, wird der Band durch einen Aufsatz zur Sklaverei und Unterdrückung der einheimischen Bevölkerung in den spanischen Kolonien Amerikas, vier historiographische Beiträge und einem Resümee von Domingo Plácido abgerundet. Die spanischsprachige Forschung ist am stärksten vertreten, daneben finden sich französische und italienische Aufsätze sowie einer in englischer Sprache; daher scheint es nützlich, dass der Band abgeschlossen wird von „Resúmenes" jedes Beitrags in Spanisch mit englischer Übersetzung, in denen allerdings meist nur die Intention der Verfasser/innen wiedergegeben wird, nicht aber die Kernaussagen und die Ergebnisse der Untersuchungen geboten werden (793-822). Im Folgenden kann—wie häufig bei solch einem umfangreichen, aus zahlreichen kleinen Beiträgen bestehenden Sammelband üblich—nur eine Auswahl angesprochen werden, welche die inhaltliche Bandbreite widerspiegeln soll.

Nach einer kurzen Einführung, in der das Wirken Domingo Plácidos gewürdigt und die Bedeutung des Raumes als soziale, materielle und imaginäre Konstruktion betont wird, widmet sich Adolfo Domínguez-Monedero (19-36) dem religiösen Raum und greift mit der Tempelsklaverei in Griechenland ein Thema auf, das, wie die Tempelprostitution, in den letzten Jahren verstärkt Beachtung gefunden hat. Unter Berücksichtigung der nicht immer eindeutigen Terminologie für das Kultpersonals weist der Autor darauf hin, dass es häufig keine Sklaven waren, die niedere Dienste bei Kulthandlungen verrichteten, sondern Freie, die teilweise aus den oberen Schichten stammten und einen zeitlich begrenzten heiligen Dienst leisteten. María Cruz Cardete del Olmo (37-49) arbeitet die Konstruktion von Landschaft (paisaje/landscape) als Instrument der politischen Kontrolle am Beispiel von Azania auf der Peloponnes heraus. Bereits dieser zweite Beitrag zeigt, wie weit und umfassend die Begriffe Raum und Abhängigkeit aufgefasst werden. Dies gilt auch für den folgenden Aufsatz von Colette Jourdain-Annequin (51-62), die „les cultes dans l'espace de la cité grecque: organisation territoriale et différenciations sociales" für Athen beschreibt; dabei wird auch kurz auf die Teilnahme von Sklaven bei der Eröffnung der Anthesterien hingewiesen (55).

Zwei weitere Beiträge sind ikonographischen Problemen gewidmet; in ihnen wird somit der Körper als Raum aufgefasst: Während Fernando Echeverría Rey Kampfszenen auf schwarzfigurigen Vasen als Beispiele anführt, um die Grenzen einer Identifizierung von unfreien „Knappen" aufzuzeigen (63-78), kombinieren Francine Barthe-Deloizy und Marie-Claude Charpentier ikonographische, literarische und ethnologische Quellen, um das Bild des Sklaven in der griechischen Kunst zu analysieren (79- 95). Der Körper des Sklaven sei ein Konstrukt und könne je nach Situation und Arbeitsfeld mit unterschiedlichen Merkmalen gekennzeichnet werden, und zwar durch seine Haltung, geringe Größe, Missgestaltungen, Kleidung oder (unwürdige) Nacktheit. Die Sklavenikonographie korrespondiere somit mit den Aussagen des Aristoteles zur Natur des Sklaven. Diese Stereotypen, die eine „dépersonnalisation" und „déshumanisation" bedeuten, stellen für die Autoren aussagekräftige Zeugnisse zur Mentalität der griechischen Gesellschaft dar.1

Nachdem in weiteren Beiträgen u. a. Räume und Abhängigkeiten bei Herodot und Euripides analysiert werden, betrachtet Massimo Nafissi die spartanische Krypteia als Raum der Abhängigkeit (201-229): Aufgrund der widersprüchlichen Schilderungen bei Platon, Aristoteles und Plutarch kam es in der Forschung zu ganz unterschiedlichen Charakterisierungen der Krypteia, wie „terroristischer Akt", „Menschenjagd", „Initiationsritual" oder „Überlebenstraining". Nach der kritischen Sichtung der Quellen und der Forschungsliteratur schließt sich Nafissi im Wesentlichen der Interpretation von Stefan Link an, dass es nämlich um die Mitte des 4. Jh. v. Chr. eine Reform der Krypteia gegeben habe und erst ab dieser Zeit die Helotenjagd praktiziert wurde, insbesondere um die Messenier, die aus spartanischer Sicht Heloten waren, zu schwächen.2 Nach dieser sachlichen Auseinandersetzung vergleicht Nafissi abschließend Sparta mit dem nationalsozialistischen Deutschland, in dem die Jugendlichen ermuntert wurden, jüdische Geschäfte zu zerstören, und der Autor begrüßt es, dass Sparta sein Ziel, die messenischen Gebiete jenseits des Taugetus wiederzugewinnen, nie ereicht habe.

John Bintliff verfolgt—noch umfassender als im Titel („The Spaces of Dependency in Southern Greece: Landscape and Tied Labour from the Mycenaean Era till the Middle Byzantine Period") angegeben—Abhängigkeitsformen im südlichen Griechenland in der long durée vom Neolithikum bis ins 19. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (255-262).

Einem gänzlich anderen Raum, dem Gastmahl, als typischem Arbeitsbereich von Sklaven, wo sie stets als Dienstpersonal auftraten, widmet Guy Labarre seine Ausführungen (307-320), indem er mit den Deipnosophisten des Athenaios (um 200 n. Chr.) eine wichtige literarische Quelle hierzu analysiert. Bezüglich der Rolle der Sklaven kann eine Vermischung realer, zeitgenössischer Verhältnisse mit literarischen Fiktionen und Topoi festgestellt werden.

Auch die Beiträge zur römischen Sklaverei behandeln zentrale Themen: Während Carlos García Mac Gaw die „symbolischen Orte der Freiheit" während der Sklavenaufstände analysiert (327-349), richtet Antonio Pinzone seinen Blick auf die Fragmente des Diodor bzw. dessen Quelle Poseidonius und weist auf die Elemente der Topik in den Berichten zu den sizilischen Aufständen hin (351-364). Paolo Desideri vergleicht die Reden des Dio Chrysostomus mit Rechtsquellen, um die Orte der servi fugitivi ausfindig zu machen (385-393). Es geht dem Autor hierbei um die „politisch-ideologischen" Orte, nämlich die Vortäuschung einer freien Rechtsstellung, die einen kriminellen Akt darstellte, der harte Bestrafung erforderte. Konkrete Orte hat Francesca Reduzzi Merola im Blick, indem sie auf die ortsgebundenen rechtlichen Verhältnisse eines Gladiators hinweist (395-399): Denn sobald er die Arena betritt, wandelt sich das auctoramentum zwischen ihm und dem lanista in ein Mietverhältnis oder eine res empta et vendita; sobald ein Gladiator flieht wird er zum servus fugitivus oder latro.

Weitere wichtige antike Autoren, die hinsichtlich ihres Raumkonzepts untersucht werden, sind Polybius (439-461) sowie Martial, Juvenal und Petronius (505-519), während Antonio Gonzales auf das Konzept der Freiheit und die Rolle der Sklaven bei den Stoikern eingeht (463-485). Ausgehend von dem Bericht des Tacitus (Ann. 4, 27, 1) über den Sklavenaufstand des Jahres 24 n. Chr. in Unteritalien widmet sich Rosalba Arcuri der Sklaverei in der Landwirtschaft (487-503). Die Autorin spricht sich für einen Bedeutungsverlust der Sklaverei im süditalischen Agrarwesen ab tiberischer Zeit aus, denn der schiavo pastore sei nur eine „figura di lunga durata" (497).

Julien Demaille stellt die Grabmäler und -inschriften aus dem Territorium der Colonia Iulia Augusta Diensis, dem römischen Dion in Nordgriechenland am Fuße des Olymp, vor (537-559), wo es verhältnismäßig viele Zeugnisse von Unfreien gibt. Insbesondere außerhalb der Stadt fanden sich über 40 griechische und lateinische Inschriften, die Sklaven oder Freigelassene nennen, wobei der Autor auf zahlreiche weitere epigraphisch belegte Personen verweist, deren Status unsicher ist.

Es folgen Beiträge zu hispanischen Räumen: In Barcino existierte eine Keramikindustrie, in der Oriol Olesti Vila und César Carreras Monfort Sklaven als institores nachweisen können (561-587). Estela García Fernández rekonstruiert anhand des epigraphischen Materials die Klientelverhältnisse in Saguntum (589-605) und Alejandro Beltrán, María Ruiz del Árbol und Inés Sastre bieten einen Überblick zur Archäologie und Epigraphie im römischen Westspanien, den heutigen Provinzen Zamora und Salamanca (607-621).

Die letzten drei Beiträge der römischen Sektion sind den frühchristlichen Quellen gewidmet. Amparo Pedregal hinterfragt das Bild der christlichen Frauen im häuslichen Bereich und spricht von einem Umsturz der Geschlechterordnung (sub/versión del orden genérico) im Zuge der Christianisierung der römischen Gesellschaft (623-636).Manuel Rodríguez Gervás untersucht die Briefe des Augustinus von Hippo, die wichtige Quellen zur spätantiken Sklaverei darstellen, richtet den Focus aber auf das Verhältnis der Grundbesitzer (domini) und Kolonen, um die Mechanismen der dortigen Abhängigkeitsverhältnisse zu untersuchen (637-657). Zum Abschluss der römischen Sektion stellt Francisco Javier Lomas Salmonte die große Autorität der christlichen Kirche im spanischen Westgotenreich heraus (651-683).

Es handelt sich bei dem Tagungsband folglich um weite Streifzüge, die rund um das Thema Abhängigkeit in der Antike (und darüber hinaus) mittels eines weitgefassten Raumbegriffs unternommen werden. Zum Abschluss der römischen Sektion wird ein Schwerpunkt auf Abhängigkeitsformen in Hispanien gesetzt. Durch den chronologischen Aufbau besitzt der Band geradezu einen Überblickscharakter zu wichtigen Problemen der Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei und Abhängigkeit. Aufgrund des meist geringen Umfangs können die Beiträge allerdings nur Schlaglichter werfen, und besonders zu den bereits intensiv erforschten Themen findet sich viel Bekanntes wieder; die Verfasser/innen verstehen es aber durchweg, eine eigene Sichtweise zu präsentieren und neue Aspekte anzuführen.


1.   Zum Thema Sklaven-Ikonographie sei hier noch ergänzend auf das Buch von Leonard Schumacher, Sklaverei in der Antike. Alltag und Schicksal der Unfreien. München 2001, verwiesen, der sich intensiv mit dem Problem der bildlichen Darstellungen von Sklaven befasst. Vgl. außerdem: Ingomar Weiler, "Überlegungen zur Physiognomie und Ikonographie in der antiken Sklaverei", in: Eva Christof u. a. (ed.), Potnia Theron. Festschrift für Gerda Schwarz (Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Archäologie der Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Bd. 8), Wien 2007, 469-479; Stefan Schmidt, Art. Ikonographie, in: Handwörterbuch der antiken Sklaverei CD-ROM I-IV (2012).
2.   Stefan Link, "Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der spartanischen Krypteia", in: Klio 88, 2006, 34-43.

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Victoria Wohl, Euripides and the Politics of Form. Martin Classical Lectures. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015. Pp. xvi, 200. ISBN 9780691166506. $39.95.

Reviewed by David Kawalko Roselli, Scripps College (

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This is an important and thoughtful analysis of the relationship between politics and aesthetic form in a select number of Euripidean plays. After a brief Preface defining terminology and outlining the major goal of showing that "dramatic form is itself a kind of political content" (xiii), Wohl describes in the Introduction the two problems motivating this study: the "oddness" of Euripides' tragedies and the relation between the plays and fifth-century Athens. The first has often led to genre reclassification (e.g., tragicomedies) or blaming Euripides for destroying tragedy. The issue of historicism is typically tackled by collapsing drama into pre-existing political content, thus disregarding the sensuousness of aesthetic form. Instead Wohl proposes (re)turning to formal analysis and invokes the model of immanent critique practised by the Frankfurt School philosopher Theodor Adorno. The challenge is to hold aesthetics and politics together while analyzing the work done in and by form; to paraphrase Adorno, what we grasp as problems of form embody unresolved social antagonisms. After reviewing ancient critical discussions of drama and politics, Wohl provides a brief reading of Euripides' Alcestis. This "odd," apparently apolitical, play solicits the audience's investment through the characters' emotional outpourings, yet it reveals a politics in its structure: the "democratic audience" (15) desires the reunion of Alcestis and Admetus, but finds itself celebrating elite privilege. The dissonance between political values and the "dramatic ends" demonstrates how tragic structure frames ways of believing.

Chapter 1 argues that Ion's dramatic form creates similar affective conditions so that the audience longs for Creusa's reunion with Ion. And yet inescapably yoked to this is Ion's significance for Athens and its empire. By tracking how the play repeatedly threatens the audience's desire for closure (e.g., Ion's false recognition by Xuthus), Wohl shows both how Euripides' "open structure" and the prominence of tukhe reflect the freedom of democratic Athens and its penchant for questioning, and how dramatic topsy-turviness intensifies the emotional longing for certainty because of the formal uncertainty of reaching that desired ending.1 Ion thus models how we become politically and affectively attached to Athens (23, 38). Problematic issues (e.g., imperialism, noxious democratic politics) serve as threats that are papered over by the desired ending and Athena's promise of Athens' glory. Civic ideology can thus be both promoted and critiqued; the key point is that it "emerges from the [drama's] very structure" (37). With ideology understood as an "affective relation" (22) to beliefs (e.g., autochthony, imperialism), rather than a basket containing them, aesthetic form raises critical awareness of such beliefs even as we end up longing for them at the very moment when they appear uncertain and arbitrary.

Chapter 2 addresses the effects of "beautiful suffering" in Trojan Woman and Hecuba. Wohl argues that pity is a politically insufficient response: aestheticized scenes of suffering do not make spectators more humane or just. Instead, Euripides' formally "ugly" (41) plays defamiliarize and critique dramatic form, thus encouraging us to recognize what symmetry, wholeness, and beauty can mask. Spectatorial pleasure in suffering, sublimely presented in Trojan Women, is thus questioned, and the poorly integrated prologue promising justice (an idea that is subsequently dropped) opens a space for spectators (especially Athenians) to "take responsibility for the suffering we have watched and enjoyed" (49). Hecuba similarly questions the adequacy of pity and implicates Athenians in the Trojans' aesthetically pleasurable suffering (53, 57). Although the divided plot (Polyxena's sacrifice and Polymestor's punishment) appears to construct a symmetry of suffering and punishment, Wohl suggests that the formal structure makes us question the excessiveness of Hecuba's justice: the lack of connection between the two plots reveals a gap between "tragic pity and legal recompense" (62) and highlights the injustice we may be hoodwinked into accepting as justice. Not beauty but ugliness as Verfremdungseffekt promises justice.

Class and empty illusions are the focus of Chapter 3. The somewhat anomalous realism of daily life in Electra is often viewed as promoting utopian egalitarianism, but for Wohl the utopian potential is foreclosed by the play's formal structure, in which forms of heroic recognition and the mythological/theatrical tradition—clearly marked by Euripides as hollow—"de-realize" the egalitarianism of the play's first part and its apparent challenges to elite hegemony. It is "the deadweight of tragic form that prevents [the] development [of egalitarian ideas]" (65). The odd recognition scene appears to reinforce the dismantling of traditional elitist props—the tokens of identity are "empty beliefs" much like external signs (e.g., wealth) used to classify people—but Wohl emphasizes that this rather shabby Orestes is nonetheless recognized as the hero, and we are asked to play along—so much for the democratic idea of judging people by their character (70). The formal handling of the rest of the play shows how tragic form "stifles" the radical potential of egalitarianism but stages (with a nod to Lukács' concept of realism) emergent forces—and therein lies its radicalness.

In Chapter 4 Wohl confronts tragedy's allegorical nature and argues that Suppliants formally critiques historicist readings and the humanist appeal to universal truths. The formal paradox of the "democratic king" Theseus representing the demos serves to question the very possibility of political representation in tragedy; formal structure (agon, individual protagonist) also contributes to misrepresentations of the demos (e.g., suppression of class divisions), thus challenging tragedy's ability to "be a form of political discourse" (98). If tragedy as politics appears doomed, the play's handling of despair underscores the inability of tragedy's "anti-politics" of lamentation (following Nicole Loraux) to respond to suffering. The insolubility of the tragic and the political is, however, mastered in the final kommos with its procession of Argive orphans anachronistically recreating the civic ritual of the procession of Athenian orphans in the Theater of Dionysus; spectators are thereby hailed as humans/citizens, and this "affective synthesis" (108), the political effect of which is the Argive alliance, produces a new kind of political tragedy that enacts politics.

Chapter 5 focuses on the "broken" Orestes performed in 408 between the two civil wars in 411 and 404. Wohl makes some good points about the usual (and problematic) practice of excavating Thucydidean "reality" before looking for related reporting in Euripides. Such approaches disregard aesthetics, reducing plays to reified historical context. Wohl argues that Euripides' plays also create context by shaping historical reality: they forge an "affective and cognitive framework" (112, cf. 131) for spectators to realize historical events. After a brief review of Helen and Trojan Women emphasizing a certain cross-fertilization between tragedy and historical reality, Wohl analyzes the formal oddities of Orestes. Since we become affectively attached to Orestes' and Electra's salvation, the sudden peripeteia with the protagonists ("companions" (hetairous, 804) staging a wild attack precipitates a dilemma: continued support for this hetaireia—an elite social/political group of the sort that fomented the oligarchic putsch in 411—begins to feel like support for political revolution: the play produces the "structure of feeling" (from Raymond Williams) of social unrest. The improbability of the deus ex machina's commands is nonetheless formally effective: by modeling past tensions and pointing to future ones, the play provides a framework for experiencing civil war and for the improbable but successful reconciliation in 403.

The conclusion helpfully unites the book's various strands and reviews the conditions enabling Euripidean tragedy to explore the imaginary relations that make up ideology. It is the articulation of these relations through experimental aesthetic form that provides the potential structures for future transformations—both aesthetic and political. Euripides typifies not the exhaustion of form and content but the emergence of a new formalism in politics, philosophy, and art.

With its clear and judicious articulation of the many complexities involved in these plays, detailed attention to past scholarship, and sustained engagement with critical theory, this is an exciting book that should be widely read. Certain aspects will hopefully encourage discussion and doubtless elicit some quibbles.

Despite the post-Marxist approach, there are some unresolved class issues related to matters of form. For example, in Orestes Apollo allows that agent of the "blind repetition of the crimes of the past" (127)—Orestes—to rule Argos, a detail that underscores the real lack of reconciliation: this dramatic resolution appears miraculous but suspiciously leaves elite criminals in power, thus complicating the cognitive framework put forward to process civil unrest. In Suppliants the affective merging of citizen and human appears to conjure away the specter of class divisions (cf. 96–98), and in Wohl's discussion the play's enactment of politics seems to erase class considerations rather than encourage audiences to notice that erasure. In Hecuba, the Trojan queen's revenge seems less unfair given the situation that produces it (despite Polymestor's wild Thracian ravings claiming it is incommensurate) and thus our critical awareness of complicity in "injustice" (61) appears questionable. Although Wohl brackets class from this chapter (42), Hecuba's elitist disdain for common people (e.g., the "mob") points to the play's formal (and problematic) coupling of pleasurable vengeance and certain brands of elitism.2

A corollary of Wohl's immanent critique is the necessary downplaying of viewing tactics, in which spectators can manipulate smaller dramatic units to their own ends, and the lack of interest in "hidden transcripts" that disguise the voices of subordinate groups.3 Wohl rightly notes that comedy appears more forthright in its critique of class relations (70) and emphasizes the formal limitations placed on tragedy's dramatic structure (the myth must be realized!)—limits that Euripides ably (ab)uses to make audiences reflect on the implications of tragic form. This suggests to me that we need to be even more attuned to what tragedy does with the form in which it operates and what spectators can do with it. Euripides was no Brecht (whose engagement with spectators as a collective subject through formal methods [cf. 145n22] contrasted with Adorno's aesthetic theory addressed to intellectual elites), but the contradictions and formal oddities in Euripides' productions may offer more possibilities for resistance to domination than current scholarly practices suggest.4 Matters of performance thus need to be considered alongside dramatic form. Wohl pays little attention to opsis (143n3) and the ways in which staging, spectacle, and music helped forge those affective relations to ideology, so there is more work to be done.

This leads to the question of the audience, which for Wohl was "primarily Athenian citizens" (xii). Thus in Alcestis the play's contradictions are defined in terms of the values of democratic citizens and elite privilege (15–16). Would all metics and slaves (or even all citizens) have shared this perspective? Similarly the idea that the audience of Ion "long[s] for their own national and imperial destiny" (22), while capturing an important aspect of the play, posits a shared affective relation to Athenian imperialism among metics, xenoi, slaves, and citizens. Wohl rightfully stresses the production of meaning at the level of form but unnecessarily restricts judgments and perspectives to citizens, thus silencing other social antagonisms contributing to formal dissonance. Democracy is something of a fetish in discussions of ancient Athens (perhaps because today many experience less and less of it), and it is good to think with. But drama was produced for more than citizens in the imperial city, and some poets seem to have had an eye on (re)performances outside Athens. The ideological attachments that Wohl argues are enacted through tragic form can be expanded still further.

As my comments hopefully make clear, this is an insightful study that is accessible to students and rewarding for scholars. It makes a major contribution to the study of Euripidean drama and offers a productive model for rethinking how tragedy worked through aesthetic form.


1.   See D. Mastronarde (2010) The Art of Euripides: Dramatic Technique and Social Context (Cambridge) for a different approach to Euripides' "open structure;" BMCR 2011.02.43.
2.   See J. Morwood (2014) "Hecuba and the Democrats: Political Polarities in Euripides' Play," Greece & Rome 61: 194–203 for Hecuba's anti-democratic elitism.
3.   J. C. Scott (1990) Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven and London); see also A. Richlin (2014) "Talking to Slaves in the Plautine Audience," Classical Antiquity 33: 174–226. Scott's notion of resistance nonetheless tends to downplay the power of domination on consciousness.
4.   See S. Buck-Morss (1977) The Origins of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and the Frankfurt Institute (New York) for discussion of Adorno's praxis.

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Philip Hardie, Gioachino Chiarini (ed.), Ovidio: Metamorfosi, Volume VI: Libri XIII-XV. Scrittori greci e latini. Milano: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla; Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 2015. Pp. lxv, 717. ISBN 9788804651628. €30.00.

Reviewed by Bartolo A. Natoli, Randolph-Macon College (

Version at BMCR home site

Ovidio: Metamorfosi, Volume VI (Libri XIII-XV) is the sixth and final installment of a the multi-authored commentary on the Metamorphoses edited by Alessandro Barchiesi and published by the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla. The project produced its first volume in 2005, with subsequent volumes being published every two years or so. All of the individuals involved in this project (the aforementioned Barchiesi, Gianpiero Rosati, E.J. Kenney, J.D. Reed, and Philip Hardie) are world-renowned scholars of Ovidian and Latin literature, and their work on the project has resulted in the creation of a collection of top-flight volumes that demonstrate the immense knowledge and experience of their authors.1

This particular volume is a text, translation, and commentary of Metamorphoses XIII-XV, a portion of Ovid's magnum opus that has received surprisingly little scholarly attention in comparison with the first ten books of the epic. The text and commentary have been prepared by Philip Hardie and are accompanied by an excellent Italian translation by Gioachino Chiarini. This review will examine these three portions of the volume in turn, beginning with the Latin text itself.

Hardie's text is based on Tarrant's 2004 OCT, but makes a number of changes (54 in total across the three Ovidian books) ranging from the minute to the major, all of which are listed on pp. lix-lxi. The text itself is quite clean with an attractive and legible font. At the bottom of each page of text is the complete apparatus of Tarrant (the sigla of the extensive Ovidian manuscript tradition are given on pp. 3-5), and facing each page of text are the corresponding lines of Chiarini's Italian translation. In all these respects, Hardie's volume resembles a standard critical text; however, one minor oddity stands out that is not indicative of Hardie as much as is typical of the Lorenzo Valla editions. As a means to alert readers to important commentary while they are reading the text, the series has included the symbol < in the right margin of the translation on each line about which "note indispensabili alla comprensione del testo" have been made (212). Although the symbol is a useful tool, the presence of multiple such symbols in a page's margin is, at times, distracting.

Hardie's text is accompanied by a wonderful Italian translation by Chiarini, who also penned the translations for Volumes III-IV. As with his work in the other volumes, Chiarini's translation here is as expressive as the Ovidian original, while maintaining the basic thematic progression and—generally—following the line numbers of the Latin. Chiarini's rendering of the famous sphragis of the Metamorphoses is emblematic of his style:

Ho ormai compiuto un'opera, che non potranno cancellare
né l'ira di Giove, né il fuoco, né il ferro, né il tempo divoratore.
Quando vorrà, quel giorno che ha potere solo su questo corpo,
ponga pure fine alla durata – che io ignoro – della mia vita:
la parte migliore di me mi trasporterà più in alto
delle stelle, e il mio nome resterà indelebile.
E dovunque si estende la potenza romana sulle terre domate,
sarò letto dalla gente, e per tutti i secoli, grazie alla fama,
se c'è qualcosa di vero nelle profezie dei poeti, vivrò.

However, as strong as the text and translation are, Hardie's lengthy commentary (415 pgs) is by far the star of this volume. It fills a gaping hole in the scholarship on the final books of the Metamorphoses, providing a full and cohesive commentary on Ovid's ultimate triad missing from W.S. Anderson's commentaries on Books I-V and VI-X.2 Moreover, unlike previous single-book commentaries on Books XIII-XV, whose focus is more on grammatical and cultural issues, Hardie's discussion centers on the aesthetic and intertextual.

A prime example of Hardie's technique comes from his notes on the beginning of Ovid's 'Aeneid' (XIII.623-XIV.608). The lines under review are as follows:

Non tamen eversam Troiae cum moenibus esse
spem quoque fata sinunt; sacra et, sacra altera, patrem
fert umeris, venerabile onus, Cythereius heros…
(M. XIII.623-625)

Hardie's commentary on these important lines emphasizes the intertextual relationship between Vergil and Ovid, as well as the poetics of the passage that add depth to that relationship:

623-625: Non tamen . . . heros: una sillessi (senso concreto e senso astratto di eversam) incapsula con eleganza lo schema essenziale di Aen. II: distruzione della vecchia città (Troiae . . . moenibus forma un anello con la prima citazione di novae . . . moenia Troiae a XI 199) insieme all'emergere di una speranza nel futuro, incarnata nell'icona augustea del pius Aeneas che si carica il fardello (onus: Aen. II 723, 729) di Anchise, che a sua volta trasporta i sacri oggetti di Troia, il gruppo di famiglia visto alla fine di Aen. II e, in forma scultorea, nel Foro di Augusto (Fasti V 563; sulla tradizione nelle arti visive ved. Austin 1964, ad Aen. II 708; Fuchs 1973). Troiae si presenta nella stessa sede metrica del primo verso dell'Eneide, fata quasi nella stessa sede di fato nel secondo verso. non tamen: per questa transizione cfr. VII 453 nec tamen. Il contrasto riguarda l'Iliupersis dei vv. 408-21, ma anche quello fra i destini di due figli di madri divine, Memnon ed Enea. sacra . . . patrem: i due oggetti della pietas di Enea, dèi e famiglia, espressi attraverso la ripetizione di sacra. Ovidio ripete la fraseologia in Fasti I 527-8; IV 37-8; cfr. Met. VII 156-157 spolioque superbus / muneris auctorem secum, spolia altera, portans. venerabile: si deve rispetto sia alla vecchiaia sia al sacro. La vicinanza di Cythereius heros allude al nesso etimologico di veneror e Venus. Cythereius heros: Venere, madre dell'eroe, era nata a Citera. La frase introduce Enea, e viene ripetuta nell'ultimo episodio dell'Eneide ovidiana, non a caso nel contesto di una preghiera della dea a favore di suo figlio Enea (XIV 584; anche in Fasti III 611).

As can be seen from this excerpt, the overwhelming emphasis of Hardie's commentary is on the intertextual relationship between the dueling Aeneids of Vergil and Ovid. To make his case, Hardie explores similarities in aesthetics: thematic repetition, specific vocabulary, and metrical similarity. He omits the more basic questions of grammar and syntax found in other commentaries, a move that makes Hardie's discussion of limited use to non-specialists. On the other hand, the plethora of intertexts explored by the commentary presents graduate students and professional classicists with a veritable goldmine of information with which to conduct research.

Overall, the text, translation, and commentary of this most recent and final installment of the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla's project on Ovid's Metamorphoses constitutes a fitting conclusion to a valuable resource for Ovidian scholars. Hardie's clear text and Chiarini's lucid and expressive translation provide a strong foundation for the volume. However, it is Hardie's extraordinary commentary with its focus on Ovidian aesthetics and intertexts that makes this volume a must-have in the collection of anyone serious about Ovidian studies. One can only hope that the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla will build on this major success and will turn to other classical works that are currently lacking major commentaries.


1.   BMCR has reviews for each of the individual volumes in the project except Volume 5 available online. Volume I (Books 1-2) was edited by Barchiesi (BMCR 2006.07.38). Volume II (Books 3-4) was edited by both Barchiesi and Rosati (BMCR 2007.10.55). Volume III (Books 5-6) was edited by Rosati (BMCR 2010.07.33). Volume IV (Books 7-9) was edited by Kenney (BMCR 2012.03.59). Volume V (Books 10-12) was edited by Reed.
2.   Other single book commentaries exist on these books. Cf. the 'green and yellows' of Hopkinson (2001) and Myers (2009) on Books XIII and XIV, respectively; Hill (2000) (BMCR 2002.02.07) provides a commentary on XIII-XV aimed at undergraduate students.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Roald Dijkstra, Sanne van Poppel, Daniëlle Slootjes (ed.), East and West in the Roman Empire of the Fourth Century: An End to Unity? Radboud studies in humanities, 5. Leiden: Brill, 2015. Pp. ix, 183. ISBN 9789004291928. $120.00.

Reviewed by Craig Morley, University of Liverpool (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents
[Authors and titles are listed below.]

The internal unity of the Later Roman Empire is the source of frequent examination. For example, Pabst's Divisio Regni: Der Zerfall des Imperium Romanum in der Sicht der Zeitgenossen (1986) offered valuable insights into how fragmentation and unity existed simultaneously. Indeed, as is correctly pointed out in the introduction to this volume by the three editors, the Roman Empire abounded with different forms and degrees of internal unity and disunity: religious, cultural, social and political. It is the aim of the book under review here—the end result of the conference, 'An End to Unity: East and West in the Fourth Century', held at Nijmegen in 2012—to join in this discussion by focusing 'on the unity of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, with a particular concentration on the fourth century' (1).

The book is divided into two parts, 'Geo-political Developments' and 'Unity in the Fourth Century: Four Case Studies'. Part one focuses on the geo-political factors that affected Roman unity in the fourth century, while also addressing wider concepts and issues. Part two presents four case studies from which those concepts and issues addressed in part one can be seen in practice. These papers seek to show how unity was perceived and thought about by fourth-century Romans.

Hervé Inglebert's opening chapter sets the stage for the discussions on Roman unity in the following chapters. He highlights the complexity of the term 'unity', demonstrating that it can have different and often contradictory meanings. The malleability of the term, therefore, creates difficulties when attempting to identify how unified a vast entity like the Roman Empire was. In this regard, Inglebert's major contribution is the identification of a framework or control, against which the different levels and degrees of unity in the Roman Empire can be judged and analysed. In this framework 'unity' is broken down into three parts: unicité (the political indivisibility of Roman imperium); unité (relations among the different parts of the empire/rulers); unification (the sense of shared Romanness). Applying Inglebert's framework to other aspects of Roman unity, in the fourth century and beyond, will help to inform and guide future investigations on the topic.

David Potter's chapter on Roman power is one of the most interesting contributions in this volume. He opens his chapter by discussing the ancient milieu in which Roman ideas about state power developed. The case is made that the Romans perceived state power primarily in terms of revenue and manpower. However, in making this point Potter also indicates that the Romans believed no matter how much revenue and manpower a state could muster, these resources were always liable to be undermined by cultural and moral factors. This point is certainly borne out in the fact that culture and moral virtue were regarded as essential factors in other aspects of Roman thinking, such as, for instance, racism1 and legitimate and effective leadership (as seen in the biographies of Suetonius). As such, further elaboration on how such beliefs had, or did not have, a direct effect on the use of Roman power could have provided a further perspective to this discussion. Modern theories have been employed effectively in helping to understanding Roman power in similar studies, for example, Eckstein's Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War and the Rise of Rome (2006). In a similar vein Potter uses modern theories of relative decline to analyse the waning of Roman power. He argues that the emergence of new powers, such as northern federations and the Sasanian Empire, did not significantly alter the balance of power and result in an equalising of Rome's power with those of its neighbours. Rather, he argues that internal interests, disunity and political division were the underlying causes of the decline in Roman power in relation to its neighbours. This is certainly true, as the political partition of the Roman Empire among and between co-rulers throughout the fourth century resulted in the division of the financial and manpower resources that made up its power. Thus, although the Sasanian Empire was no match for the power of the united Roman Empire, as can be seen in its struggles to defend against Julian's invasion in 363 (until his untimely death), it was able to force Constantius onto his back foot when he only had the resources of the eastern provinces to call upon.

Giusto Traina's contribution on the geography of the empire emphasises the fact that notions of geography, particularly ideological notions, were important for the Romans in understanding both the size and success of their empire, as well as its internal unity. Traina's use of both literary and visual sources illuminates the fact that, although the Romans were aware of the different geographical regions that made up their empire and the administrative differences among those regions, they considered them as an indivisible whole. Thus, Traina's paper underlines the growing contradiction between an imperial ideology and propaganda anxious to portray unity and the administrative reality of an empire increasingly politically divided along geographical lines.

Josef Rist's chapter uses the Council of Serdica (343) to analyse the dis/unity of the Church. Although not doubting that the fiasco at Serdica played a fundamental role in an east-west split of the Church in fourth century, Rist argues that the formation of this split was more complex than traditionally believed. He highlights in particular the support granted to the exiled eastern bishop, Marcellus of Ancyra, by western bishops, many of whom spoke Greek, not Latin, to show that it was not simply a matter of a wholesale disagreement between eastern Greek-speaking bishops and western Latin-speaking bishops. Rist's chapter is important in underlining that division in the empire did not always adhere to the neat geographical lines imposed by modern historians. In doing so, the chapter also further underlines the complexity of analysing the concept of Roman unity.

The next chapter, Jan Willem Drijvers's 'The Divisio Regni of 364', deals with the question of unity from 'an administrative and political viewpoint' (p. 83). The focus of Drijvers's attention is the partition of the Roman Empire between the brothers Valentinian and Valens in 364. In this chapter he explores the formation, development and nature of this power-sharing regime. This approach is important in highlighting the differences between this power-sharing regime and others. For example, Drijvers shows that it was the army, or officers in the army, not Valentinian himself, who wanted the promotion of a co-ruler, unlike the more famous power-sharing examples of Diocletian's tetrarchy and the Theodosian dynasty. Drijvers's chapter is particularly valuable in the wider discussion of unity and political division in Roman history because of his realisation that with the exception of the division of 395—to which one could also also add the tetrarchy— the composition and organisation of political partitions of the empire between and among co-rulers have not been investigated. Indeed, in the fourth century the Roman Empire was more often divided among co-rulers than it was ruled by a single emperor. In this regard, Drijvers helps to shed light on the fact that throughout the fourth century, political partition was the norm for Roman rule, not the exception, and that the various partitions did not all follow the same formula.

Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo's paper shows how the promotion of concordia and unity through imperial propaganda and patronage had lasting effects on real feelings about the unity of the empire, as well as expressions of it. She traces the spread of the cult of Sts. Peter and Paul from Rome (titulus Apostolorum) to Constantinople (The Church of the Holy Apostles) and Ravenna (Ecclesia Apostolorum). By showing that these churches were built as sister churches of one another and as part of the Theodosian dynasty's attempts to promote concordia and unity in their dynasty and across the empire, Dal Santo excellently illustrates how imperial patronage and propaganda could, and did, have a real effect in spreading shared customs, religious ideals and a sense of Romanness across a politically divided empire.

Sofie Remijsen's paper takes a different approach to the topic by dealing not with a certain aspect of one dynasty, but with a ubiquitous aspect of Greco-Roman culture: games. Before the fourth century there was a clear distinction in the nature of and prestige awarded to games and the participation in games between the Roman West and Roman East. However, in the fourth century attitudes in the East began to mirror those in the West. Of the reasons suggested by Remijsen for this two stand out: the decline of the elite's inclination to sponsor events in their home cities as their interests shifted towards the imperial court(s) and the bureaucracy and the establishment of new imperial residences in the East from the time of the tetrarchy onwards (particularly Nicomedia, Thessalonica and Constantinople). When constructing these new residences the emperors were keen to construct circuses next to the imperial palaces, with important consequences for the culture of games in the East: namely, that as the races and games held in these circuses were attended by the emperors, they became more popular at the expense of other cultural forms. Taken together, these two factors suggest that political developments in the fourth century, such as the rise of the East and political partition, stimulated internal cultural unity. It must be noted, however, that this was most likely accidental and not the intended purpose of these political decisions. Remijsen's paper again highlights the contradiction between the political disunity and partition of the Roman Empire with its increased cultural unity.

The focus of Shaun Tougher's paper is that of eunuchs and the role they played in Roman unity, with the emphasis placed on the poet Claudian's two attacks against the chamberlain of Arcadius' eastern court, the eunuch Eutropius. In these works Claudian stresses the contrast between the masculine West and the effeminate East, as represented by the position and power of Eutropius in the eastern court. However, as Tougher points out, despite the poet's assertions, eunuchs had been a defining part of the Roman world since the time of Augustus and played important roles in the West throughout the fourth century. Thus, as Tougher puts it, as a defining feature of the Roman Empire, the eunuch was a symbol of Roman unity, not division (p. 161). In the wider scope of Roman unity Tougher emphasises that, despite Claudian's attacks on the effeminacy of Eutropius and the East, the poet does not envisage or propagate a permanent east-west split, but rather viewed the contemporary division as temporary. This reinforces the widely held view that for contemporary Romans imperial unity was still regarded as the normal state of affairs.

Like Tougher, Christian Gnilka investigates what another poet, Prudentius, and his work can tell us of contemporary Roman thought and belief on the unity of the empire in the fourth century. In this regard, Gnilka considers two main themes within Prudentius' work, Christianity and concordia, as essential components in the poet's idealised views of Roman unity. It is made clear that Prudentius believed that a unified Christianity was the key to unity within and throughout the Roman Empire itself. Again then, this reinforces the conclusion that unity, not disunity, was what fourth-century Romans believed in, despite the political realities of the period.

The underlying features of this book, its chronological focus on the fourth century and its structure, make it essential to anyone interested in understanding the internal unity of the Later Roman Empire. Its focus on the fourth century allows insights into the maintenance of a sense of shared Romanness across the empire at a time when it was increasingly divided politically between two or more emperors. Likewise, its structure permits discussion on wider thematic issues alongside the investigation of how these issues and ideas worked on the ground.

Authors and Titles

'Introduction' / Roald Dijkstra, Sanne van Poppel and Danielle Slootjes
'Les discours de l'unité romaine au quartième siècle' / Hervé Inglebert
'Measuring the power of the Roman Empire' / David Potter
'Mapping the new empire: a geographical look at the fourth century' / Giusto Traina
'Die Synode von Serdika 343: Das Scheitern eines ökumenischen Konzils und seine Folgen für die Einheit der Reichskirche' / Josef Rist
'The divisio regni of 364: the end of unity?' / Jan Willem Drijvers
'Concordia apostolorum — concordia augustorum. Building a corporate image for the Theodosian dynasty' / Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo
'Looking at athletics in the fourth century: the unification of the spectacle landscape in East and West' / Sofie Remijsen
'Eunuchs in the East, men in the West? Dis/unity, gender and orientalism in the fourth century' / Shaun Tougher
'Kaiser, Rom und Reich bei Prudentius' / Christian Gnilka.


1.   Benjamin Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton, 2004).

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Thomas Riesenweber, C. Marius Victorinus, Commenta in Ciceronis Rhetorica (2 vols.). Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte, Bd 120.1–2. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2015. Pp. xxiii, 531; 50 p. of plates; 520. ISBN 9783110316377. $266.00.

Reviewed by James Zetzel, Columbia University (

Version at BMCR home site

Jerome in his Chronicle records under the year 354 CE the eminence of two teachers (insignes habentur): one, his own teacher the grammarian Donatus; the other, the rhetorician Marius Victorinus. He reports also that Victorinus was honored by a statue in Rome, in the Forum of Trajan—appropriately, as it was one of the places where teaching regularly took place. Victorinus' name has faded from the glory he had in his own day, but he stands out for his career, his interests, and the range of his writings. Victorinus was a grammarian, rhetorician, Neoplatonic philosopher, and finally Christian convert (whose transformation was recorded by, and affected, Augustine himself). Even those works of his that survive represent a range of interests that few ancients can match and that even fewer modern scholars can control. We possess the opening chapters of his Ars grammatica; his commentary on Cicero's De Inventione; a work on definitions; some anti-Arian tracts; three hymns; and commentaries on several letters of St. Paul that represent the first known New Testament commentaries in Latin. And that is only part of what seems a fairly prodigious and remarkably varied output that also included (now lost): a commentary on the first part of Cicero's Topica; a translation of and commentary on Aristotle's Categories; and more.

Victorinus was renowned in his own time and at least until the sixth century, when some of his works were used and recommended by Cassiodorus and replaced by Boethius. In modern times, however, he was largely out of fashion until he was resurrected in an important book by Pierre Hadot in 1971.1 Until 1960, the only remotely modern editions of any of his works were Keil's 1874 edition of the fragment of his Ars grammatica in Grammatici Latini VI and Halm's edition of the commentary on De Inventione in Rhetores Latini Minores in 1863.2 Hadot and others began to edit Victorinus' theological works in 1960; the Pauline commentaries were edited in 1972. Victorinus's secular works have not been neglected. The Ars grammatica was edited with commentary by I. Mariotti in 1967, the Liber de definitionibus was edited by Pronay in 1997, and there have been two critical editions within ten years of the commentary on Cicero's De Inventione.3 The volumes under review are supplementary to the second of these editions, a Teubner text edited by Riesenweber and published in 2013. It follows the earlier edition by A. Ippolito that appeared in the series Corpus Christianorum in 2006.4

The work under review, despite its vast size, contains no text of Marius Victorinus: that is to be found in Riesenweber's 2013 edition, to which all references in the present work are keyed by page and line. The first volume includes a brief review of Victorinus' life and works, a discussion of the form of the commentary, a history of the transmission, a descriptive list of all the known manuscripts, extant, partial, and lost, and an extremely detailed reconstruction of the relationships among the manuscripts. It concludes by providing three critical editions of other texts: two late accessus to Victorinus, the anonymous ninth-century Compendium de rhetorica transmitted in manuscripts of Victorinus (sometimes between the two books of Victorinus, sometimes at the end), and the Renaissance Castigationes in Victorinum of Marinus Becichemus (Marino Bezicco), who had access to the far less well represented side of the manuscript tradition. It also includes fifty color photographs of manuscripts and early editions. The second volume contains a critical commentary on the text and a long list of differences between Riesenweber's edition and that of Halm, accompanied by bibliography and indices.

To read in detail through the thousand pages of Riesenweber's analysis of manuscripts and textual problems is something that only another editor of Marius Victorinus would undertake, and hence this review will not go over his arguments in detail. Some observations, however, are in order. Riesenweber's work on Victorinus' commentary began, as he tells us in his preface, with a review of Ippolito's 2006 edition. Both that review and the present work make clear that he was shocked by the number of errors (of collation, of judgment, and of proofreading) that he found in her work.5 I will not render a verdict on this dispute since I have not collated either the manuscripts or the two editions. What is clear, however, is that whatever failings Ippolito's execution of her edition may have, she did extremely important work on the manuscripts. Where Halm in his edition had relied primarily on the earliest manuscript (D, Cologne 166) and very few others, Ippolito catalogued 46 manuscripts and discovered among them a Renaissance manuscript in Oxford (O, Bodleian D'Orville 152) that is in fact an extremely important witness to the text. Riesenweber relies on her work. He has added some manuscripts to the list, but the most cursory examination of his account of the transmission shows that much of his reconstruction rests on hers. In that respect, Riesenweber's eagerness to point out Ippolito's errors, even trivial ones, and his incomprehensible decision not to include her edition along with Halm's in the table of differences between his edition and those of his predecessors inevitably make one distrustful. Riesenweber and Ippolito differ considerably in establishing the shape of the stemma. Ippolito believed that D and O were closely related and (I oversimplify considerably) together constituted one side of the stemma, against almost all other witnesses. Riesenweber believes that O itself, with a few relatives, constitutes one side of the stemma while D is merely an older witness to the same tradition represented by the rest of the manuscripts. He further argues that there has been a considerable amount of contamination from one side of the tradition to the other. The relationship among the bulk of manuscripts is complex and will not concern me here; suffice it to say that under any interpretation, Marius Victorinus was relatively widely read at some periods, and there was certainly contamination.

Although Riesenweber does not present the evidence for his reconstruction in a fashion designed to be intelligible by the non-expert, it is clear enough that he has done a very careful job. I have no reason to question his reports of manuscript readings, which fill lists going on for pages, except for the one, most important question, about the relationship between D and O. There (I, 165–66) he merely says that the 250 shared errors of DO are largely insignificant. His failure to provide full evidence here gives one pause, but I am not about to gather the evidence again to check. His reconstruction here is probably right, but the tradition is contaminated, and a glance at his stemma (I, 453) is a little unnerving. It includes 30 extant witnesses, 20 hypothetical and reconstructed manuscripts, and eleven lines of contamination. The odds are heavily against anything that complicated and that imaginary being completely correct.

The 399 pages on Überlieferungsgeschichte in the first volume are followed by 412 pages of critical commentary on the text in the second. It is, as Riesenweber makes clear, purely a textual commentary. He has no interest in unraveling Victorinus' argument, his philosophical sources, or his rhetorical theories. That is his privilege, but it is not exciting reading. Riesenweber is, however, a careful and learned student of the text, and, when relevant for his choice of variants, he duly brings in the appropriate parallels for Victorinus' usage and discusses the different meanings to be attached to the variant readings. At the same time, it is frustrating and often perplexing to read his notes. On the opening sentence of Inv. 1.3, for instance, on the power of eloquence to organize humans into society, Victorinus (13.10–21) discusses the relationship between eloquentia and sapientia. Riesenweber here has only a didactic note ("Die Stelle ist unter methodischen Gesichtspunkten ein Lehrstück . . ."; II, 29) on a haplography in one of the important manuscripts, one that he does not even bother reporting in his apparatus. Indeed, not a few notes discuss very minor readings. The instance I cite above is not the only time he devotes zealous discussion to a variant he himself did not think worth printing. An editor needs to consider such things in evaluating the evidence; but why Riesenweber should waste time and paper in explaining them to anyone else is a mystery to me.

[For a response to this review by Otto Zwierlein, please see BMCR 2016.05.09.]


1.   P. Hadot, Marius Victorinus: Recherches sur sa vie et ses oeuvres (Paris, 1971).
2.   H. Keil, ed., Grammatici Latini (Leipzig, 1857–1880) and C. Halm, ed., Rhetores Latini Minores (Leipzig, 1863).
3.   Theological works (not a complete list of modern editions): Marius Victorinus, Traités théologiques sur la trinité ed. P. Henry and P. Hadot (Paris, 1960); Opera theologica ed. P. Henry and P. Hadot (Vienna 1971); Commentarii in Epistulas Pauli ad Galatas, ad Philippenses, ad Ephesios ed. A. Locher (Leipzig, 1972). Secular works: Ars grammatica ed. I. Mariotti (Florence, 1967); Liber de definitionibus ed. A. Pronay (Frankfurt, 1997) (a slightly altered reprint of the edition of T. Stangl, Tulliana et Mario-Victoriana [Munich, 1888] with translation and commentary).
4.   Marius Victorinus, Explanationes in Ciceronis Rhetorica ed. A. Ippolito (Turnhout, 2006); C. Marius Victorinus, Commenta in Ciceronis Rhetorica ed. T. Riesenweber (Berlin/Boston, 2013).
5.   T. Riesenweber, Review of Ippolito 2006 in Gnomon 81 (2009) 25–32.

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W.J. Dominik, C.E. Newlands, K. Gervais (ed.), Brill's Companion to Statius. Brill's companions in classical studies. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2015. Pp. xx, 702. ISBN 9789004217898. $222.00.

Reviewed by Andrew M. McClellan, University of Delaware (

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Brill's most recent volume in the Latin author 'Companion' series puts Statius under the microscope. We might have expected this a bit sooner, considering the swell of material on Statius' poetry from especially the early-to-mid 2000s, which helped inspire something of a large-scale re-examination of his poetic output. Still, like Statius himself, the editors should feel no anxieties about the volume's 'belatedness'. It was worth the wait.

The Companion is massive: 34 chapters divided among 33 international scholars yielding over 600 pages of discussion. It is separated into seven sections: 'Introduction'; 'Beginnings' (three essays); 'Social and Cultural Matters' (four essays); 'Transgressive Poetics: The Achilleid' (three essays); 'Conflict, Power, and Death in the Thebaid' (six essays); 'Predecessors and Contemporaries' (eight essays); and 'Reception' (nine essays). The contributions are weighted somewhat to discussions of the Thebaid (no surprise), but this does not produce on the whole a feeling of imbalance. Many of the chapters tackle issues that bridge all three of Statius' extant works (Thebaid, Achilleid, and Silvae), and the size of the volume is a testament to the range of Statius' output and the eclectic interest his poetry inspires. I do not have space here to analyze each chapter in depth; what follows is an illustrative cross-section of the volume.

From 'Beginnings', K. Sara Myers' chapter (pp. 31–53) examines the proem of the Thebaid and its relation to invocations of the Muses throughout the poem. She ends by looking at sources of inspiration in the Silvae. Among many insights, she argues convincingly that the somewhat staggered opening of the Thebaid mirrors the famously fraught multiple ending of the poem. This is a key insight and foregrounds two of the overriding themes of the volume: Statius' obsession with his 'belated' position in the history of Greco-Roman epic; and the almost dizzying (and thrilling) cacophony of intertextuality that Statius activates with his poetic predecessors.

From the section 'Social and Cultural Matters' (pp. 123-38), Bruce Gibson analyzes stereotypes of wealth in Flavian Rome through the various perspectives of wealth relations in the Silvae and Thebaid. The Thebaid equates wealth with corruption, but it becomes more difficult to parse wealth relations in the Silvae, particularly given the nature of Roman gift exchange in the context of poetic composition. Gibson shows how Statius skillfully extricates himself and his (very rich) patrons from the traditionally negative portrayal of wealth.

Two essays in 'Transgressive Poetics: The Achilleid' examine how Statius blurred character and genre in the Achilleid. Peter Davis (pp. 157–72) explores the 'paradoxical' nature of the poem. The focus, again, is on Statius' intricate conflation of poetic models. The epic's wide array of intertexts destabilizes our conception of genre (the poem is both 'epic' and 'anti-epic', p. 169), and this generic ambiguity mirrors the ambiguities of characterization, especially of the central character, Achilles. This essay will be required reading for those interested in the Achilleid and in Statius' engagement with his predecessors. Christopher Chinn (pp. 173-88) reaches some similar conclusions but pushes further on the metapoetic context for these ambiguities: Statius presents Achilles' ambiguous appearance (between boy and man; female and male) as a vehicle to expatiate on the generic status of the poem and on the process of generic composition.

In the opening essay from 'Conflict, Power, and Death in the Thebaid', Rhiannon Ash (pp. 207-20) considers the Thebaid's battle narratives within the context of Domitianic Rome. She identifies specific narrative features that Statius exploits in battle descriptions that would resonate with his contemporary readers: narrative 'delay'; substitute battle; grotesque or surrealist visual imagery; 'paradoxography' (note the excellent autopsy of Theb. 8.412–18, pp. 216–18). These features share similarities with historiographical descriptions of warfare, and Ash concludes by suggesting a few scenes that convey a 'cross-fertilization' with historical violence during the civil war of 69 CE. That Tydeus' cannibalizing of Melanippus' head may contain a grim reference to a blending of historical moments later narrated in Tacitus' Histories—Otho's gazing at the severed head of Piso (Hist. 1.44.1; cf., too, Luc. BC 9.1032–36, of Caesar staring at Pompey's severed head); and Aquilius Regulus' cannibalizing of Piso's head (Hist. 4.42, p. 219)—does convince me, although Tacitus could easily be reading Statius' scene back into his own narrative (see Antony Augoustakis, pp. 377–92, on the influence of Senecan tragedy in the cannibalism scene). The Thebaid projects a dismally and thematically 'tragic' worldview of cyclical socio-political madness onto an epic framework, and the subject matter offered by ancient Thebes allowed Statius to explore disturbing elements in Rome's recent history. We have to dig a bit to uncover historical/historiographical allusions, but, as Ash recognizes, they are surely there.

Next, Kyle Gervais (pp. 221–39) looks at the distorted parent-child relationship in the Thebaid, sharing a thematic interest with Neil Bernstein on kinship in Statius' corpus (pp. 139–54). The poem presents a series of dead and dying children and the destruction of parent-child bonds. Read in this context, Statius' epilogue, in which he presents himself as a parent-poet sending his 'child' out into the world, carries certain self-defeating metapoetic overtones. Gervais argues that Statius is stuck between his desire for his poem's immortality (the sphragis, 12.810–19) and prayers that its wickedness be forgotten (e.g. post fratricidal duel, 11.574–79). The temptation to read into this reading Theban (Oedipal) child 'exposure' is strong, although Gervais is more interested in foster parenting; the coda, linking Statius' own foster child to Hypsipyle, is a nice touch (p. 239).

Also in this section is Frederick Ahl's chapter (pp. 240–65). As with the contributions by Ash and William Dominik (pp. 266–90, on the theme of the abuse of power in the Thebaid's similes), Ahl focuses his attention to socio-political undercurrents of the Thebaid. The path Ahl leads is dense and circuitous with some rehashing of previous arguments (e.g. the ingenious, but surely specious, claim that Seneca's tragic corpus is the product of our Elder Seneca, pp. 260–63). This is a robust broadside to readings of the poem that downplay the connection between Theban myth and memories and contemporary trauma of civil war. Ahl's Thebaid is gloomy (see Cecilia Criado, pp. 291–306, for discussion of 'optimistic' vs. 'pessimistic' readings).

Closing out the section on the Thebaid, Jessica Dietrich (pp. 307–21) argues that Statius' Jocasta exists in a state between life and death. Dietrich reads Jocasta through a matrix of previous epic, tragic, and historical figures, concluding that she is a uniquely Flavian creation, suited to Flavian ambivalence about Rome's past—a past that is continuously, simultaneously bulldozed and resurrected. Jocasta is, of course, just one of a number of zombie-figures in the poem: e.g., Laius (to whom Dietrich compares Jocasta, appropriately), Oedipus (cf. Theb. 1.46–52, 4.414–17, 11.580–4), Amphiaraus (7.794–8.122), Polynices and Eteocles, who renew their 'deathly' duel on a joint-pyre (12.429–36). Similar ground is covered in Helen Lovatt's chapter (pp. 408–24). The poem, like other post-Augustan epics, is on the whole suffused with the stain of death, and characters take on the features of corpses living out extended death rituals.

In 'Predecessors and Contemporaries', Laura Micozzi (pp. 325–42) looks broadly at Statius' engagement with his literary sources. She argues that Statius' self-conscious recognition of his poetic 'belatedness' draws him directly into rehashing standard epic topoi. Statius' main strategy for creating epic originality is the bold appropriation of major epic tropes. He achieves this by having characters speak out against their own literary pasts, appropriating mythic traditions by refusing to follow them, and continuing stories from earlier poems, building quasi-narrative continuity with his predecessors. The range of poetic material Micozzi covers is vast, a 'melting pot of models' (p. 335). Statius' dexterity in juggling this series of models allows his Thebaid a pride of place despite its 'belatedness' in the epic tradition.

In the same section, Victoria Pagán (pp. 362–76) spots an unnoticed intertext between Thebaid 1.19–20 and Virgil Georgics 2.497 concerning the Dacians and the Hister river. She argues that Statius explores the obliquity to Roman (civil) warfare contained in the Virgilian line, imposing upon Virgil's 'silence' a reading implicit in the original poem (one is reminded of Dryden's famous aphorism in his dedication to Examen Poeticum: 'Virgil had the Gift of expressing much in little, and sometimes in silence'). Pagán's essay is a battle cry for the preeminence of the Georgics for post-Augustan writers. The idea that Statius plays upon the gaps and deliberate silences of the Georgics is, I might add, a valuable adjustment to Philip Hardie's thesis in his Epic Successors of Virgil (1993) on the importance of the Aeneid to post-Augustan epicists.

François Ripoll (pp. 425–43) tackles the fraught allusive relationship between Silius Italicus' Punica and Statius' poems. Much of this chapter is highly speculative, but note the enticing claim (pp. 442–43) that the density of allusions to Statius' poetry in Punica 16 indicates Silius' homage to Statius who, he argues, had recently died before Silius' composition of that book.

Scholars typically compare Statius' Silvae and Martial's Epigrams as a means of scrutinizing particular Flavian sociological phenomena (e.g., here: Gianpiero Rosati, pp. 54–72; Meike Rühl, pp. 91–105). Luke Roman's chapter (pp. 444–61) in 'Predecessors and Contemporaries' examines ideological ties between these two works. He posits that both Statius and Martial deconstruct and satirize the conceit of the Augustan poet-vates in favor of a devotion to the 'playful informality' of Catullan poetics. He suggests convincingly that both poets create unified poetic collections for general readership, but that the strategic 'unpolished' nature of the poems re-invokes the off-the-cuff context of their composition.

Peter Heslin (pp. 512–26) opens the final and longest section of the Companion by looking at Dante's portrayal of a Christian Statius in the Commedia, unpacking layers of a pagan façade through the lens of Dante's ill-informed netherworld Virgil. For Dante, Statius' Thebaid offers a mediating force between Virgil's traditional poetic centrality and Lucan's 'godless' redefinition of the epic landscape. Heslin explores potential Christ-like figures in the Thebaid, prey for a Christian audience applying the 'light of Christian revelation' to pagan poetry (p. 516). Finally, the Ara Clementiae takes center stage and Heslin makes a reasonable claim that Dante followed Peter Abelard's cue in attaching Statius' Altar to the Christian altar visited by St. Paul in Athens. The suggestion that Statius in the Commedia functions, like Hypsipyle in the Thebaid, as a metapoetic marker for the central turning-point of the poem is brilliant (p. 518).

Dustin Mengelkoch (pp. 562–78) compares contrasting early modern views of Statius' Silvae. The Italian scholar Poliziano viewed the Silvae as useful for its recondite learning and pedagogical value. Conversely, Dryden found its erudition vulgar and extravagant, setting a precedent for negative evaluations of his poetry only recently readdressed. Carole Newlands, whose essay concludes the volume (pp. 600–12), picks up on negative views of Statius' poetry but focuses instead on the impact of reading Statius' biography into his work. She argues that Statius' reputation even now is burdened by the political factionalism of seventeenth- to nineteenth-century European and American criticism that sought to equate Statius' style with a presumed political lifestyle of monarchal flattery tantamount to the negative portraits of decadent Romanticism. Happily, the Companion is devoid of the disparaging ideological residue Newlands identifies here.

This is just a taste. The rest of the collection is strong. Programmatic statements, of course, come early. In the 'Introduction' the editors state that they "have attempted to provide for our readers both an overview of present trends in research and a stimulus to future exploration of Statius, his times, and his reception' (pp. 13–14). These goals are easily met in the volume and everywhere contributors point to fertile avenues for future research. Students and scholars alike will find much value here.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Maria Teresa Galli, Gabriella Moretti (ed.), Sparsa colligere et integrare lacerata: centoni, pastiches e la tradizione greco-latina del reimpiego testuale. Labirinti, 155. Trento: Università degli Studi di Trento, Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia​, 2014. Pp. 233. ISBN 9788884435705. (pb).

Reviewed by Anna Busetto, Università di Roma Tre​ (

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[L'indice dei contenuti si trova alla fine della recensione.]

La tipologia testuale del centone ha conosciuto per lunghi decenni una notevole sfortuna critica.1 La sua "riscoperta" estetica e metodologica è iniziata proprio in ambito italiano all'inizio degli anni Ottanta con le edizioni di Giovanni Salanitro e Rosa Lamacchia della Medea di Osidio Geta,2 ma una più attenta e lucida considerazione della comunità scientifica si è osservata a partire dagli anni Novanta e soprattutto Duemila: ne è prova l'ampia messe di studi apparsa nell'ultimo ventennio (tra cui spiccano i lavori monografici di Scott McGill3 e di Martin Bažil,4 per i centoni latini, virgiliani e cristiani, e di Óscar Prieto Domínguez5 per quelli greci), che testimoniano un progressivo e ormai inesorabile affrancamento del centone dall'etichetta pregiudiziale di "arte minore".

Il presente volume, che nasce dalla raccolta degli studi presentati all'omonimo Seminario internazionale tenutosi presso l'università di Trento il 21 e 22 marzo 2013, si colloca appunto in tale florido filone e il più significativo contributo che sembra apportarvi è l'eterogeneità della prospettiva: oggetto di indagine sono infatti patchwork poems (non solo centoni, dunque, ma anche pastiches) latini e greci, pagani e cristiani, riferibili a un arco cronologico che va dall'epoca ellenistica al pieno Medioevo. Pertanto, sebbene alcuni contributi rimontino (in quanto estratti o "filiazioni") a più ampi saggi dei loro autori in precedenza pubblicati, dal momento che una trattazione monografica esaustiva sul centone (nonché sul pastiche nel mondo antico) ancora non esiste, il primo e maggiore merito dell'opera va individuato proprio nell'ampiezza tematica che la connota.

Altro pregio del volume è sicuramente il rigore di analisi e la chiarezza di impianto, che si osserva fin dall'Introduzione, dove si definiscono le caratteristiche specifiche delle due tipologie testuali (il centone è un testo composto esclusivamente da «segmenti virgiliani, senza l'aggiunta di materiale verbale esterno e senza che il testo fonte venga modificato»; il pastiche presenta «anche porzioni di testo interamente aggiunte dalla mano del (ri)compositore, nonché parti in cui l'ipotesto viene considerevolmente modificato», p. 9). Se, naturalmente, è opportuno rifuggire da un'applicazione troppo rigida di questi parametri, è pur vero che tale distinzione preliminare aiuta il lettore non specialista a focalizzare in modo chiaro l'articolazione del volume (suddiviso in due ideali sezioni dedicate rispettivamente al centone e al pastiche), il lettore specialista a orientarsi velocemente fra i contributi, i primi cinque dei quali (relativi al centone), mostrano un utile impianto induttivo, muovendo tutti da un'analisi di loci testuali che poi si allarga a questioni di più ampia portata.

Scott McGill si rivolge al De Ecclesia, opera di cui è recentemente apparsa una nuova edizione critica commentata a cura di Adriana Damico. 6 Il contributo dello studioso è di natura esegetica: egli si concentra sull'inserto in prosa tra i vv. 110-111 (e in particolare sull'appellativo Maro Iunior riferito al suo autore) e sul breve centone che ne segue, dove si menziona l'episodio di Apollo e Marsia, elevati a metafore sia del rapporto crudamente "agonistico" tra il centonatore e il suo modello sia della natura stessa del centone, fatto di «membra disassembled and reassembled to form a new textual body» (p. 28).

Maria Teresa Galli sfrutta la Medea di Osidio Geta e successivamente i Vergiliocentones minores per proporre, attraverso uno specimen di passi significativi e testualmente problematici, «un itinerario attraverso le mille astuzie dell'arte centonaria» (p. 35). L'obiettivo— che sembra riuscito—della studiosa è dimostrare che coniugare originalità artistica e massima adesione formale al modello richiede sapienza nella scelta delle fonti e padronanza linguistica e grammaticale per la "cucitura" dei segmenti, ma rende talvolta inevitabili errori e forzature metriche. Di conseguenza, l'arte centonaria obbliga all' "equilibrismo" anche l'editore moderno, costantemente esposto al rischio «di cadere o nelle insidie [di] un'eccessiva uniformazione del testo centonario a quello virgiliano o […] di un'accettazione incondizionata del testo tradito» (p. 53).

Paola Paolucci ci porta all'interno del laboratorio ecdotico, concentrando la sua indagine sul v. 145 della Alcesta centonaria. L'apertura del contributo ripropone il frutto di uno studio già presentato al convegno conclusivo dei lavori del progetto Musisque Deoque (Venezia, 21-23 giugno 2010) e pubblicato nel 2011,7 e cioè l'interpretazione del segmento oblitus natorum come glossa marginale erroneamente penetrata nel testo, emendabile, secondo l'analisi della Paolucci, in hoc nomen solum. Nuova è invece la seconda argomentazione avanzata per difendere la bontà di tale congettura, argomentazione che si articola attraverso il raffronto stilistico e tematico tra il centone da una parte, l'Alcesti euripidea, l'Alcestis Barcinonensis e gli stilemi della coeva poesia epigrafica dall'altra. Questa convincente metodologia "comparativa" sostiene la Paolucci anche nella proposta di una diversa—e più sensata—distribuzione delle battute nei vv. 155-161, altro locus vexatus sulla cui analisi critica si chiude l'articolo.

Ritorna sul De Ecclesia Sergio Audano, già autore di un corposo studio sui vv. 89-91 dell'opera,8 che qui invece affronta alcuni problemi ecdotici e teologici presenti nella sezione nota come Descensus Christi ad Inferos (vv. 51-67). La minuziosa e dotta esegesi dei vv. 58, 62 e 64, che approfondisce e rettifica le posizioni espresse in merito da altri studiosi,9 rivela un'istanza spiccatamente dottrinale: la tesi innovativa sostenuta da Audano è che, in seno alle dispute che nel V secolo opponevano i sostenitori di una salvazione del solo Adamo nella catabasi infernale di Cristo e coloro che invece ampliavano il numero dei salvati, il centonatore appartenga a questa seconda, più "aperta" corrente. Ciò tuttavia non pregiudica la sua ortodossia, sia testuale—il rispetto dell'ipotesto virgiliano, la catabasi di Enea nel VI dell'Eneide—sia teologica—il rispetto della visione di Agostino, che indicava il numero dei salvati da Cristo nei santi dell'Antica Alleanza.

Lo scopo dichiarato dello contributo di Carmen Arcidiacono, basato sull'analisi filologica del riuso virgiliano in alcuni loci dei Versus ad gratiam Domini, « è quello di dimostrare che, previa un'accurata selezione, le testimonianze centonarie meritano di essere accolte negli apparati critici delle future edizioni di Virgilio » (p. 113). Questa tesi era già stata sostenuta dalla Arcidiacono (che si è occupata molto di questo centone fin dal 2011) in un contributo apparso su Sileno nel 2012, di cui il presente costituisce la mera sintesi, come dichiarato in apertura (p. 114).10

Alice Bonandini apre l'ideale sezione dedicata ai pastiches con un lungo contributo (l'unico, insieme a quello di A. Camerotto, di stampo grecistico) che offre un'inedita, articolata rassegna del reimpiego dei versi omerici nella letteratura diatribica e menippea greca e latina, da Diogene di Sinope a Seneca. Il pregio del lavoro risiede sia nell'ampiezza dell'arco cronologico considerato, sia nella struttura dell'articolo (suddiviso in 10 capitoli), la quale testimonia rigore di impianto analitico e si traduce in perspicuità quasi "manualistica" nella comunicazione dei risultati raggiunti.

Uno degli ultimi autori esaminati dalla Bonandini, Luciano, diviene il protagonista dello studio di Alberto Camerotto (che all'eroe lucianeo ha dedicato un saggio apparso sempre nel 2014),11 che indaga la funzione mimetica e parodica del pastiche nel Cataplus (cap. 1), nel Come si deve scrivere la storia (cap. 2), nelle Storie vere (cap. 3), in Sulla morte di Peregrino (cap. 4) e nell'Alessandro o il falso profeta (cap. 5). Camerotto argomenta come Luciano ammicchi, con sapiente ironia, ora a Tucidide, ora a Omero, ora ad Aristofane, rivelando sia la tendenza tipica della Seconda Sofistica dell'omaggio agli autori antichi congiunta al compiacimento del gioco letterario, sia una volontà di originale superamento della tradizione.

Il volume si chiude con il contributo di Caterina Mordeglia sull'Ecbasis captivi (opera a cui l'autrice si è dedicata fin dal 2006, come provano le sue numerose pubblicazioni in proposito elencate nella bibliografia finale); questo non solo è il più tardo fra i testi presi in esame nel volume, ma anche uno dei più singolari nel Fortleben virgiliano e più sfuggente a una ascrizione inequivoca alla categoria di 'centone' o di 'pastiche' (la studiosa si inserisce nel solco già tracciato dalla critica nel ricondurlo al Mosaikstil, p. 208). Dopo la presentazione dell'opera, viene offerto un dettagliato elenco delle occorrenze che tradiscono una ripresa di testi classici e tardoantichi (p. 209). Merita osservare che mentre i—pochi—contributi recenti sull'Ecbasis captivi si concentrano soprattutto sulle reminiscenze oraziane ivi contenute, l'articolo della Mordeglia si focalizza su quelle virgiliane, per la prima volta censite integralmente e messe a confronto con i relativi passi originali (pp. 213-217), con una tecnica che coniuga dati filologici e statistici.12 La disamina che ne segue—volta ad analizzare soprattutto il trattamento che l'autore dell'Ecbasis riserva a riprese e citazioni di Virgilio—porta la studiosa a definire l'opera «una testimonianza molto interessante della lectura Vergilii tra i secoli X e XI» (p. 222). Una conclusione, questa, che, decontestualizzata dalla cronologia dell'opera specifica, sembra potersi utilmente riferire a tutti i centoni e i pastiches, campo d'indagine privilegiato per esplorare le dinamiche dell'intertestualità.

Indice dei contenuti

Introduzione, p. 7
Scott McGill, From Maro Iunior to Marsyas: Ancient Perspectives on a Virgilian Cento, p. 15
Maria Teresa Galli, Insidie palesi e nascoste dell'arte centonaria: le astuzie del compositore e le scelte metodologiche dell'editore, p. 35
Paola Paolucci, Per la costituzione del testo dell'Alcesta centonaria. L'epilogo, p. 57
Sergio Audano, Intrecci teologici e tecnica centonaria: per l'esegesi della sequenza del Descensus Christi ad Inferos (vv. 51-67) nel centone De ecclesia (AL 16 R2), p. 79
Carmen Arcidiacono, Il riuso di Virgilio nel centone cristiano Versus ad gratiam Domini, p. 113
Alice Bonandini, Tessere omeriche nella tradizione diatribica e menippea in Grecia e a Roma, p. 133
Alberto Camerotto, Pastiches sovversivi. Strategie della parodia e della satira in Luciano di Samosata, p. 181
Caterina Mordeglia, «Non simplo stamine texam»: reminiscenze e citazioni virgiliane nell'Ecbasis captivi, p. 201
Note bio-bibliografiche, p. 229


1.   Si vedano ad esempio Domenico Comparetti, che lo ritenne lo sterile frutto di un apprendimento meccanico dei versi virgiliani (Virgilio nel Medio Evo, Firenze 1937, I, pp. 64-65), Giorgio Pasquali (un «esercizio scolastico inferiore», in Stravaganze quarte e supreme, Venezia 1951, p. 12) e da ultimo David Roy Shackleton Bailey, che bollò come opprobria litterarum (Anthologia Latina, Stutgardiae 1982, I.1, p. III) i centoni virgiliani, espunti dalla sua edizione della Anthologia Latina.
2.   R. Lamacchia (ed.), Hosidii Getae Medea, cento Vergilianus, Lipsiae 1981; G. Salanitro (ed.), Osidio Geta: Medea. Introduzione, testo critico, traduzione e indici. Con un profilo letterario della poesia centonaria greco-latina, Roma 1981.
3.   S. McGill, Virgil Recomposed. The Mythological and Secular Centos in Antiquity, Oxford 2005.
4.   M. Bažil, "Centones christiani". Métamorphoses d'une forme intertextuelle dans la poésie latine chrétienne de l'Antiquité tardive, Turnhout 2009.
5.   Ó. Prieto Domínguez, De alieno nostrum: el centón profano en el mundo griego, Salamanca 2010.
6.   A. Damico, De ecclesia. Cento Vergilianus, Acireale-Roma 2010.
7.   P. Paolucci, "Dall' Alcesta centonaria ad alcune chiose di lettura nella tradizione a monte del Salmasiano (Par. Lat. 10318)", in P. Mastandrea, E. Spinazzè (edd.), Nuovi archivi e e mezzi di analisi per i testi poetici. I lavori del progetto Musisque Deoque, Venezia 21-23 giugno 2010, Amsterdam 2011, pp. 239-249.
8.   S. Audano, "I signa del Giudizio nel centone De ecclesia (AL 16 R2): testo ed esegesi dei vv. 89-91", Sileno 2012 (38), pp. 55-87.
9.   Ad esempio Damico 2010 e F. Formica, Il riuso di Virgilio nel centone cristiano De ecclesia, Vetera Christianorum 2002 (39), pp. 235-255.
10.   C. Arcidiacono, "Il contributo dei Versus ad gratiam Domini alla ricostruzione dell'ipotesto virgiliano", Sileno 2012 (38), pp. 21-53.
11.   A. Camerotto, Gli occhi e la lingua della satira. Studi sull'eroe satirico in Luciano di Samosata, Milano-Udine 2014.
12.   Tra i più recenti contributi sulle reminescenze oraziane nell'Ecbasis captivi vd. A.M.R. Tedeschi, L'«Ecbasis captivi» e il testo di Orazio, Bollettino di Studi Latini 2004 (34.1), pp. 117-129; M. Billerbeck, "Die Horaz-Zitate in der Ecbasis cuiusdam captivi", Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch: internationale Zeitschrift für Mediävistik und Humanismusforschung 1976 (11), pp. 34-44; sul metodo matematico-statistico di analisi dei centoni vd. R.F. Glei, "Die Auflösung des Textes: zur literarischen, grammatischen und mathematischen Centonisierung Vergils", in M. Baumbach, W. Polleichtner (edd.), Innovation aus Tradition. Literaturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven der Vergilforschung, Trier 2013, pp. 167-186.

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Léopold Migeotte, Économie et finances publiques des cités grecques. Volume II: Choix d'articles publiés de 2002 à 2014. Collection de la Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 54; Série épigraphique et historique, 8. Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée - Jean Pouilloux, 2015.. Pp. 463. ISBN 9782356680532. €39.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Sven Günther, Institute for the History of Ancient Civilizations, Northeast Normal University (

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Kann man mit einzelnen Aufsätzen, also der „kleinen Form" des wissenschaftlichen Publizierens, heute (noch) den Anforderungen an einen Historiker, die komplexen Geflechte vergangener Gesellschaften konzeptionell zu beurteilen und zu bewerten, gerecht werden? Man kann, wenigstens zu einem gewissen Grade, wie der zweite Band der gesammelten Schriften aus der Feder des Experten für griechische Epigraphik sowie die Wirtschafts- und Finanzgeschichte der griechischen Poleis, Léopold Migeotte, eindrucksvoll zeigt. Zusammen mit dem ersten Band genommen,1 liegen nun die meisten der an oft abgelegenen Orten publizierten Detailstudien vor, die Basis und Voraussetzung für Migeottes Monographien zum Wirtschafts- und Finanzwesen der griechischen Städte bilden, unter anderem und jüngst sein Opus magnum „Les finances des cités grecques".2

Und was für ein Bild da gezeichnet wird! Die 32 Aufsätze, die jeweils in einem Postscriptum neuere Literatur, Querverweise zu anderen Aufsätzen / Monographien etc. enthalten, entwerfen in sechs Kategorien—gestion financière; taxation; revenus et défenses; emprunts et souscriptions; fondations; politique, société, économie—ein facettenreiches Bild der griechisch-hellenistischen Wirtschafts- und Finanzwelt. Dieses ist so gar nicht primitiv im Finley´schen Sinne, sondern zeichnet sich durch komplexe Geldströme, Abrechnungsverfahren und Interaktion zwischen Privatpersonen, staatlichen Institutionen und/oder Herrschenden aus.

Von der Methodik her geht Migeotte jeweils direkt in medias res und damit stets den oft als altmodisch verschrienen quellenorientierten Weg: Das antike Zeugnis, meistens eine oder mehrere Inschriften, steht im Mittelpunkt der Betrachtung und wird mit klassischer Quellenkritik angegangen sowie in allen Details analysiert. Große hermeneutische oder gar konzeptionelle Fragen—etwa nach dem Charakter antiker Wirtschaft (in Form des Dualismus Primitivismus-Modernismus oder neuerer Theoreme wie der Neuen Institutionenökonomie), der Rolle staatlicher, religiöser oder sonstiger Institutionen und Vereinigungen, der wirtschaftlichen „Rationalität" der Akteure—spielen dabei meist nur am Rande eine Rolle. Antworten darauf gibt es ergo nicht in direkter Form, aber implizit macht Migeotte klar, daß die primitivistische Orthodoxie mit ihrer Nicht- und Verachtung außer-literarischer Quellen einem literarischen Konstrukt aufgesessen ist, das die Realität antiken Wirtschaftshandelns und -denkens unzureichend erfaßt.

Symptomatisch für Migeottes Vorgehen und den daraus zu ziehenden Erkenntnisgewinn sei auf drei Beiträge hier näher eingegangen:

In „Taxation directe on Grèce ancienne" (S. 165-180)3 kann er deutlich nachweisen, daß staatliche Institutionen nicht nur zur indirekten Besteuerung, d.i. ein nicht aufgrund einer Zensusliste im Voraus berechenbares Steueraufkommen, griffen, sondern auch direkte Besteuerungsmethoden anwandten, obgleich letztere weitaus weniger verbreitet waren, was allgemein mit der Unvereinbarkeit von Bürgersein und direktem Zugriff des Staates auf das Vermögen der ihn tragenden Bürgerschaft erklärt wird. Anknüpfend an Josiah Obers jüngste Arbeit mit der These des direkten Zusammenhangs von wirtschaftlichem Erfolg und demokratisch verfaßten Poleis könnte man hier modifizierend die Frage nach dem Zusammenhang zwischen Staatsform, Besteuerungssystem und wirtschaftlicher Implikation stellen.4

Mit „Les souscriptions dans les associations privées"5 greift er die „private" Seite der epidoseis durch Vereinigungen auf, nachdem er bereits umfassend die „öffentlichen" Finanzierungsmechanismen behandelt hatte.6 Diese agierten komplementär zu „staatlichen" Aktionen, insbesondere im 3. und 2. Jahrhundert v.Chr., könnten aber, so seine Vermutung (S. 304), diese Finanzierungsart im 4. Jahrhundert v.Chr. für die Polis erst interessant und nachahmenswert gemacht haben. Gerade diese Wechselwirkungen zwischen privaten und öffentlichen Institutionen für die Übergangsphase zwischen klassischer und hellenistischer Poliswelt zu untersuchen, dürfte ein interessantes Forschungsfeld für zukünftige Untersuchungen, nicht nur im Bereich der Ökonomie, bilden, da solche „Übergänge" bis in die Begrifflichkeiten hinein zu konstatieren sind (vgl. bspw. nur den oikonomos).

Die negative Verknüpfung von körperlicher Arbeit und (demokratischem) Staatssystem seitens der aristokratisch gesinnten Philosophen des 4. Jahrhunderts v.Chr. arbeitet Migeotte in seinem Aufsatz „Les philosophes grecs et le travail dans l´Antiquité" (S. 367-381)7 heraus. Er macht dabei auch deutlich, wie das von Platon, Aristoteles und teilweise Xenophon gezeichnete Bild einer arbeitsfreien, höchstens im landwirtschaftlichen Großgrundbesitz agierenden, moralisch überlegenen Elite ein Kontrastgemälde zur wirtschaftlichen Realität darstellt. Da diese Elemente auch in anderen, nicht nur antiken Gesellschaften auftreten, könnte man hier dezidiert danach fragen, inwieweit diese idealisierenden, letztlich antidemokratischen Vorstellungen gerade erst und innerhalb des demokratischen Diskurses geformt und denkbar wurden, eine Fragestellung, der sich eine von Ivan Jordovic organisierte Tagung annehmen wird.8

Neben den Einzelerkenntnissen in den jeweiligen Aufsätzen sind der beigefügte Quellenindex und ein Gesamtregister mit Personen, Orten, Sachen von allergrößtem Nutzen, so daß ein systematisches Arbeiten mit dieser kohärenten Schriftensammlung vereinfacht wird. Alles in allem entfalten die Gesammelten Schriften in beiden Bänden trotz ihres konservativen Ansatzes ihre stimulierende Wirkung gerade aus dieser genauen Quelleninterpretation und vermögen damit, unsere Kenntnis des Wirtschafts- und Finanzsystems der griechisch-hellenistischen Welt enorm zu bereichern.


1.   L. Migeotte, Économie et finances publiques des cités grecques, volume I: choix d'articles publiés de 1976 à 2001. Collection de la Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 44. Lyon 2010.
2.   L. Migeotte, Les finances des cités grecques: aux périodes classique et hellénistique. Epigraphica, 8. Paris 2014. Siehe dazu die Rezension von John Ma in BMCR 2015.08.27. Eine vollständige Bibliographie findet sich im Anhang des hier besprochenen Werkes, S. 425-432.
3.   Original publiziert in: G. Thür & Fr. J. Fernández Nieto (eds.): Symposion 2009. Vorträge zur griechischen und hellenistischen Rechtsgeschichte (Pazo de Mariñán, La Coruña, 6.-9. September 1999). Akten der Gesellschaft für griechische und hellenistische Rechtsgeschichte 14, Köln, Weimar, Wien 2003, S. 297-313. Erweitert nun in id.: L'économie des cités grecques de l'archaïsme au Haut-Empire romain. 2nd ed. Paris 2007, S. 230-248, 504-508.
4.   J. Ober, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Princeton, Oxford 2015. Zur Frage zwischen Steuersystem und Staatsverfassung vgl. S. Günther,„'Die Steuern sind die Nerven des Staates!' (Cicero, Rede für den Oberbefehl des Cn. Pompeius 17) – Überlegungen zum Zusammenhang zwischen antiken Staatsformen und ihrem Steuersystem, oder die Frage: Welche Besteuerung verdient eine Gesellschaft?", Pro Lingua Latina 12 (2011) 27-38.
5.   Original in: P. Fröhlich; Patrice Hamon (eds.), Groupes et associations dans les cités grecques (IIIe siècle av. J.-C.-IIe siècle ap. J.-C). Actes de la table ronde de Paris, INHA, 19-20 juin 2009. Hautes études du monde gréco-romain 49, Genève 2013, S. 113-127.
6.   Les souscriptions publiques dans les cités grecques, Genève, Québec 1992.
7.   Original in: D. Mercure & J. Spurk (eds.), Le travail dans l´histoire de la pensée occidentale, Québec 2003, S. 11-32.
8.   „Das antidemokratische Denken und die demokratische Ideologie", Bielefeld, 30.-31. August 2016, organisiert von Prof. Dr. Ivan Jordovic (Novi Sad, Serbien).

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