Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Oliver Hellmann, David C. Mirhady (ed.), Phaenias of Eresus: Text, Translation, and Discussion. Rutgers University Studies in Classical Humanties vol. 19. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2015. Pp. x, 449. ISBN 9781412862479. $89.95.

Reviewed by Robert Mayhew, Seton Hall University (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Over the past seventeen years, William Fortenbaugh and the other scholars involved with Project Theophrastus have produced excellent collections—with texts, translations, and essays—devoted to the following Peripatetics: Demetrius of Phalerum, Dicaearchus of Messana, Lyco of Troas, Hieronymus of Rhodes, Aristo of Ceos, Strato of Lampsacus, Praxiphanes of Mytilene, and Chamaeleon of Heraclea. The volume under review is the latest in this series.

Phaenias1 of Eresus was a student of Aristotle and a contemporary, compatriot, colleague, and friend of Theophrastus. No works of his survive, nor has a list of his works been preserved. There is evidence, however, that he may have written works with the following titles: Categories, On Interpretation, Analytics, Against the Sophists, Against Diodorus, On the Socratics, On Poets, The Killing of Tyrants Out of Revenge, On the Tyrants of Sicily, The Prytaneis at Eresus, and On Plants. These titles do not exhaust the subjects on which he wrote.

Phaenias of Eresus consists of text with facing English translation of the 'fragments' or source-texts of Phaenias (edited by Johannes Engels)2—the first such collection in nearly fifty years3—followed by thirteen essays (originally presented at the 17th biennial Project Theophrastus conference). I hope readers will forgive me for devoting a disproportionate amount of space to chapter 1, the source-texts themselves. For notwithstanding the generally high quality of the essays, this excellent new edition of texts for Phaenias is the major attraction in the volume.

Texts 1-10 (life and works): There survives no ancient biography of Phaenias. The following can be gleaned from the meager (and not entirely reliable) evidence: He was a student of Aristotle who was alive (flourished?) at the time of the 111th Olympiad (336-332 BC) and during the reign of Alexander of Macedon (died 322). He and Theophrastus were both from Eresus, Theophrastus wrote letters to him, and the two of them worked to liberate Eresus from tyranny. Text 5, according to which Theophrastus wrote to Phaenias about the ἴουλος (woodlouse or millipede?) counts as evidence, however slight, of an interest in animals as well as plants.

Texts 11-13 (logical writings): This section is disappointing, for all we learn from 11-12 is that Phaenias may have written works with the titles Categories, On Interpretation, and Analytics. I think Text 13 belongs under 'Life and Work', as all it says is that Theophrastus, in a logical work, used the name 'Phaenias' in an example. That might hint at their friendship or collegiality, but it says nothing about Phaenias' writings on or views about logic.

Text 14: This text, from Alexander of Aphrodisias, is of great interest. It claims that Phaenias, in a work entitled Against Diodorus (presumably Diodorus Cronus), "states that the sophist Polyxenus introduced the third man argument." A version of this famous argument against Platonic forms follows. There is unfortunately no essay devoted to this text in the volume, comparing this version to those found in Plato and Aristotle; but see the references provided by Engels (p. 27 n. 2).4

Texts 15A-B: These brief texts claim that Phaenias, in a work entitled Against the Sophists, discussed poets who produced depraved songs. Titles in antiquity were a slippery business, however, and one may legitimately wonder whether this is in fact a reference to On Poets, which contained at least two books (see Text 38).

Texts 16-21 (on tyrants): Again, despite there being two titles attributed to Phaenias on this subject (The Killing of Tyrants Out of Revenge and On the Tyrants of Sicily), these texts may come from or refer to the same work. Text 20, one of the love stories of Parthenius, is placed under the heading 'Tyrants Killed in Revenge?' I think the attribution is nearly certain, and so the question mark unnecessary. (See Schütrumpf, pp. 323-24.5)

Texts 22A-25: Text 22A refers to a title (The Prytaneis at Eresus), and 22B is clearly from the same source. But they say nothing about this subject; rather, they seem to provide evidence of Phaenias' interest in mirabilia, as they record his report that in Chersonesos it rained fish for three days. The remaining texts (or merely Text 23?) come under the heading 'The Prytaneis at Eresus?', though in no case is that evident or even probable.6 Text 23 (discussing who invented the board-game pessoi) has been placed here because it notes Phaenias' mention of the Mitylenaean Leon. Texts 24-25 are both evidence of Phaenias' interest in chronology. Text 24, on the debate over the number of years from Kekrops to Alexander of Macedon (Phaenias says 715), would fit well in with the historical and biographical works. Text 25, on the relative dates of various poets, including the Lesbian Lesches, might reasonably be placed with On Poets, though Schorn (pp. 207-208) offers an argument against that.

Text 26-35 (historical and biographical works): These texts concern Solon (26-28B), Keryx and the Kerykes (35), and especially Themistocles (29-34). No titles from Phaenias are mentioned. Most of these come from Plutarch, and it seems clear that Phaenias was an important source for Plutarch's Themistocles.

Texts 36-37: These are both from Diogenes Laertius. The first, on Antisthenes, comes from Phaenias' On the Socratics; the second, on Aristippus, likely comes from the same work—though no title is mentioned, and it arguably could have come from Against the Sophists (as Engels indicates, p. 61 n. 1). See Dorandi (p. 155) and Schorn (pp. 218-19) for different views on the likely source of this text.

Text 38: This text, from Athenaeus, is said to come from the second book of On Poets. It concerns Stratonicus' innovation in kithara playing, and other matters. Schorn (pp. 205-206) argues (successfully, I think) that what follows Text 38 in Athenaeus, on the death of Statonicus, should have been included here as well.

Texts 39A-40: These three texts (under the heading 'Mirabilia (?)') come from [Antigonus of Carystus], Rerum mirabilium. It is difficult to determine which work of Phaenias is the ultimate source of these texts (it was not a work on mirabilia). Incidentally, I think the first two should have been given separate numbers, rather than being labeled 39A and 39B, as they concern two different 'marvels' about two different lakes (see White, pp. 185-86).

Texts 41A-55 (on plants): 41A-F are simply the six references, in the first book of Pliny's Historia naturalis, to Phaenias the natural scientist (Phania physico). We learn nothing from them of the content of Phaenias' writings on nature. Texts 42-55 are on plants. With three exceptions, they come from Athenaeus. Seven of these (all from Athenaeus) refer to a title (Περὶ φυτῶν, or in one case Φυτικά), and three refer to the fifth book of On Plants. The emphasis seems to be on agriculture and plants as food (though that may be a distortion based on Athenaeus' motivations in selecting the texts he does).

Texts 56A-57 are classified as references to unknown works, and 58 is labeled 'AN ADDITIONAL TESTIMONY OF PHAENIAS' LOGICAL WRITINGS?' Texts 56A-B, from Plutarch's On the Decline of Oracles 422B-E (which arguably should have been presented as one text) are of considerable interest. They concern Petron of Himera on the number of worlds. One might consider including them under On the Socratics, but see Dorandi (pp. 155-56). Text 58 belongs under LOGICAL WRITINGS? (it has more of a claim to be there than Text 13).

There follows a list of rejected texts (most from Plutarch's Themistocles), a brief discussion of other ancients called Phaenias or Phanias, and concordances and indexes.

The next three chapters (the first three essays) serve as an introduction of sorts to Phaenias' life and work, and the surviving evidence for our knowledge of them. W. Fortenbaugh's "Two Eresians: Phainias and Theophrastus" discusses all of the texts (nearly forty) that treat Phaenias and Theophrastus together. M. Sollenberger's "The Life and Times of Phaenias of Eresus" lays out nicely the little one can say about Phaenias' life. T. Dorandi's "The Fragments of Phanias of Eresus: Before and After Wehrli" is a useful survey of the earlier editions of the fragments of Phaenias, from Voisin's Diatribe de Phania Eresio, philosopho Peripatetico (Ghent 1824) to Engels's 1998 edition of the biographical and historical texts (see note 2 below). This chapter includes Addenda et Corrigenda to the works he discusses (pp. 156-62).

S. White's "Phaenias in the Mirabilia Tradition: From 'Antigonus' to Callimachus" purports to be about Texts 39A-40, which all come from a Mirabilia collection attributed to Antigonus of Carystus. Actually, the tail is wagging the dog here, as this lengthy essay is in fact a superb discussion of the one codex (Palatinus graecus 398) that contains (inter alia) this collection, and the Phaenias texts in the context of that collection, and in particular the sections of that collection (ascribed to Callimachus of Cyrene) that are the source of the Phaenias texts. White argues that Texts 39A-40 likely come from On Plants (pp. 184-88).

Five essays are devoted to the source-texts of Phaenias' biographical and historical works. Two deal with these texts generally: S. Schorn's "Biography and History in Phaenias of Eresus" (a lengthy and excellent treatment of all of them)7 and C. Cooper's "Phainias' Historiographical and Biographical Method: Chronology and Dramatization". The other three focus on particular sets of texts: L. Zhmud's "Phaenias' Work On the Socratics and His Fragment on Petron of Himera (56A–B = fr. 12 Wehrli)," more than half of which is a discussion of the Petron texts (though note that Zhmud does not argue for its inclusion under On the Socratics); J. Engels's "Phainias' Historical and Biographical Fragments on Solon and Themistokles (26–34)"; and, E. Schütrumpf's "Phainias' The Tyrants in Sicily, On Killing of Tyrants out of Revenge, and Aristotle's Explanation of the Violent End of Tyrants." Schütrumpf argues against the idea that Phaenias' writings on tyranny were influenced by Aristotle's discussion of that subject in Politics 5, and raises the possibility that Phaenias' writings on tyranny are the actual source for the claims that he worked with Theophrastus to remove tyranny from Eresos (pp. 324-27). Three essays are devoted to the source-texts for Phaenias' On Plants. M. Siede's "The Plants of Phaenias" is a brief survey of all but one of the texts, and B. Anceschi's "The Metaphor as a Scientific Device in the Botanical Description of the Mallow in Fragment 49 of Phainias of Eresus" is a lengthy discussion of the one text not discussed by Siede. A. Zucker's "Phainias and the Naturalistic Legacy of the Peripatos" discusses Phaenias in the context of Peripatetic studies of nature, and especially Theophrastus' work on plants. Of the possible hypotheses concerning the relationship between Phaenias' work and Theophrastus', Zucker speculates that Theophrastus and Phaenias shared data, but that Phaenias' botanical work had a different, less theoretical and more practical, orientation (see pp. 380 and 388). Zucker's essay includes an extremely useful discussion of the (un)reliability of Athenaeus as a source for Phaenias' On Plants, using his treatment of Theophrastus' extant Historia plantarum as a test case (pp. 389-96).

The final essay is M. Asper's "Peripatetic Forms of Writing: A Systems-Theory Approach," which discusses the different literary forms used in the early Peripatos. Though interesting, it is rather out of place in this volume, as it mentions Phaenias only once (briefly, on p. 420).

The volume ends with a useful "Index of Ancient Sources for Chapters 2-14."

Table of Contents

1. Phaenias of Eresus: The Sources, Text and Translation, Johannes Engels
2. Two Eresians: Phainias and Theophrastus, William W. Fortenbaugh
3. The Life and Times of Phaenias of Eresus, Michael G. Sollenberger
4. The Fragments of Phanias of Eresus: Before and After Wehrli, Tiziano Dorandi
5. Phaenias in the Mirabilia Tradition: From "Antigonus" to Callimachus, Stephen White
6. Biography and History in Phaenias of Eresus, Stefan Schorn
7. Phainias' Historiographical and Biographical Method: Chronology and Dramatization, Craig Cooper
8. Phaenias' Work On the Socratics and His Fragment on Petron of Himera (56A–B = fr. 12 Wehrli), Leonid Zhmud
9. Phainias' Historical and Biographical Fragments on Solon and Themistokles (26–34), Johannes Engels
10. Phainias' The Tyrants in Sicily, On Killing of Tyrants out of Revenge, and Aristotle's Explanation of the Violent End of Tyrants, Eckart Schütrumpf
11. The Plants of Phaenias, Mechthild Siede
12. The Metaphor as a Scientific Device in the Botanical Description of the Mallow in Fragment 49 of Phainias of Eresus, Barbara Anceschi
13. Phainias and the Naturalistic Legacy of the Peripatos, Arnaud Zucker
14. Peripatetic Forms of Writing: A Systems-Theory Approach, Markus Asper
Index of Ancient Sources for Chapters 2–14


1.   Variously spelled Φαινίας and Φανίας in antiquity, and 'Phaenias', 'Phainias', and 'Phanias' by modern scholars. I use the variant in the title of the book under review.
2.   Engels sometimes uses the translations of others (e.g. Olson's Loeb translation of Athenaeus), in some cases modified. Based on the random check I made, I would say his own translations are generally quite good. Note that Engels had earlier collected, edited, translated, and commented on Phaenias' biographical and historical fragments: "Phainias of Eresos" in Felix Jacoby. Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker Continued IV: Biography and Antiquarian Literature. IVA: Biography. Fasc. 1: The Pre-Hellenistic Period, ed. G. Schepens (Leiden: Brill, 1998): 266-351.
3.   That is, since Fritz Wehrli's Die Schule des Aristoteles. Text und Kommentar, Heft 9: Phainias von Eresos, Chamaileon, Praxiphanes, 2nd ed. (Basel: Schwabe, 1969).
4.   See also Stephen Menn, "Aporiai 13-14," in Michel Crubellier and André Laks eds., Aristotle's Metaphysics Beta (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009): 230-31 n. 44.
5.   All such references are to the essays in the present volume.
6.   This is perhaps the appropriate place to mention, for what it's worth, that I found confusing the alternating use of all caps and regular headings in the organization and layout of the source-texts.
7.   In reading this volume I occasionally encountered typographical errors. The only noteworthy one, however, as it may cause confusion if not corrected, occurs on p. 216 of Schorn's essay: '11' (in bold)—a remnant of the numbering system in Engels's earlier edition of these texts—should read '36'.

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Giuseppe Pezzini, Terence and the Verb 'To Be' in Latin. Oxford classical monographs. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. xvii, 355. ISBN 9780198736240. $135.00.

Reviewed by Luca Rigobianco, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia (

Version at BMCR home site


The book deals with the question of two phenomena related in some way to the verb 'to be' in Latin, namely the so-called prodelision or aphaeresis of e- in est and es (e.g. Ter. Eun. 471 ex Aethiopiast [= Aethiopia est]) and the prosodic omission of final -s between a short vowel and the initial consonant of the following word(e.g. Ter. Haut. 15 dicturu(s) sum). Pezzini, through an accurate philological and linguistic analysis, shows that the two phenomena, seemingly unrelated and mostly overlooked in previous studies, depend fundamentally on the syntactic features of the verb 'to be' in Latin and, more precisely, on its possibility of being cliticized under certain conditions.

The book consists of six chapters. After a first introductory chapter (pp. 1-25), the second chapter (pp. 27-97), based on an earlier article by Pezzini,1 is devoted to the collection of evidence about the use of the contracted forms -st and -s attached to the preceding word instead of, respectively, est and es (a phenomenon also attested in the Sabellic languages, as pointed out by Pezzini). Pezzini specifies the phonetic contexts in which the phenomenon seems to occur, i.e. after words ending in a vowel, in elidible -m and in short vowel + -s, and then he considers the different sources which attest the use of the contracted forms -st and -s (with the use of -s being much less evident). These forms are directly attested in manuscripts (especially, but not exclusively, of Plautus, Terence, and Lucretius) and inscriptions. Furthermore, they can be assumed on the basis of both metrical reasons and problematic uncontracted forms in the manuscript tradition of a text. Traces of these forms can also be detected in the linguistic reflections of certain ancient grammarians (Marius Victorinus,2 Consentius,3 and Velius Longus).4

The third chapter (pp. 99-139) is divided into two sections. In the first section, Pezzini shows that the contracted forms -st and -s cannot be explained as either abbreviations or the outcomes of a phonetic process, as the terms prodelision and aphaeresis suggest. -st and -s are, rather, clitic forms, as evident from both their phonological features and the univerbation to the preceding word. A paragraph of this first section focuses on the doubtful pattern -est < -ĭs + est (e.g. Ter. Haut. 1019 consimilest [= consimilis est] moribus [sc. natus]) instead of the expected -ist, on which Pezzini, after taking into account different explanations, suspends his judgment. The second section of the third chapter consists of an analysis of the spread of the contracted forms -st and -s in different types of text across different historical periods.

In the fourth chapter (pp. 141-191), Pezzini analyses the variation between contracted (-st, -s) and uncontracted (est, es) forms in Terence's corpus, considering various factors which could possibly account for this variation (metrical constraints, semantics of the verb 'to be', and stylistic factors). The semantics of the verb 'to be' seems to be one of the most relevant factors. Specifically, Pezzini, in accordance with the observations of Soubiran5 and Fortson,6 shows that the contracted forms -st and -s are preferred when the verb 'to be' is used as an auxiliary, are optional when the verb 'to be' is used as a copula or in idiomatic expressions (such as opus est), and are avoided when the verb 'to be' has a locational or existential meaning. In addition, the use of the contracted forms also depends on the syntax and word order: the contracted forms -st and -s do not occur after monosyllables, after syntactic breaks, and when est and es break a strong syntactic bond (such as that between a name and its modifier).

The fifth chapter (pp. 193-234) addresses the phenomenon labelled by Butterfield as 'sigmatic ecthlipsis',7 i.e. the prosodic omission of final -s between a short vowel and the initial consonant of the following word, usually attributed to a weak pronunciation of final -s. In this regard, Pezzini shows that sigmatic ecthlipsis has little supporting evidence, contrary to what is usually assumed. Specifically, on the basis of a thorough analysis of Terence's corpus, Pezzini demonstrates that the apparent cases of sigmatic ecthlipsis can be explained for the most part as cases of iambic shortening (e.g. Ter. Haut. 617 sătĭ(s) contemplata) or as cases of cliticization of forms of the verb 'to be' beginning with s-, such as sum, sim, sis and sit (e.g. Ter. An. 736 ŏpŭ(s) sit). After a final summary chapter (pp. 235-248), the book ends with three useful appendices (Evidence for Contraction in Terence; Omission of Final -s in CIL I2; Lines Potentially Involving Sigmatic Ecthlipsis in Terence), a reference list, and three indices (General Index; Index of Words; Index Locorum Potiorum).

From a methodological point of view, Pezzini's book stands out for the philological accuracy in the analysis of the texts on which linguistics observations are based, the constant attention to the complex issue of the relationship between speech and spelling, and the judicious application of the quantitative and statistical analysis to the data.

The book goes significantly beyond the state of the art and convincingly clarifies the considered phenomena (the so-called prodelision and sigmatic ecthlipsis). For this reason, its results will necessarily have to be taken into account in the editing of Latin works, for restoring texts more consistent with 'real' Latin.

As a final remark, I wish to point out that a discussion of the modern spelling convention for prodelision ('s versus st, cp. e.g. Ter. Eun. 426 tute's [=tute es], Ter. Ph. 162 aegrest [=aegre est]) would have been interesting. In particular, the sameness of the two phenomena calls for the use of the same spelling convention. In this regard, the use of the apostrophe also for st (e.g. aegre'st instead of aegrest) would be preferable to the use of s without apostrophe (e.g. tutes instead of tute's), because of the possible misunderstanding of such a form.


1.   Pezzini, Giuseppe (2011), 'Contraction of EST in Latin', Transactions of the Philological Society 109, 327-43.
2.   GL 6.22.14ff.
3.   GL 5.389.30ff., 5.402.24ff., 5.403.19ff.
4.   GL 7.80.20ff.
5.   Soubiran, J. (1966), L'Élision dans la poésie latine (Paris).
6.   Fortson, B. W. IV (2008), Language and Rhythm in Plautus (Berlin and New York).
7.   Butterfield, D. J. (2008), 'Sigmatic Ecthlipsis in Lucretius', Hermes 136, 188-205.

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David H. J. Larmour, The Arena of Satire: Juvenal's Search for Rome. Oklahoma Series in Classical Culture, 52. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. Pp. xi, 356. ISBN 9780806151564. $34.95.

Reviewed by Christine Schmitz, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (

Version at BMCR home site


Departing from the fairly well-worn questions and queries of the persona theory, which have dominated the scholarly study of Juvenal for a considerable time, Larmour challenges his reader with a completely new approach to Juvenal's Satires. On the dust jacket the publisher claims nothing less than that The Arena of Satire is the "first comprehensive reading of Juvenal's satires in more than fifty years".

Four chapters with allusive, multidimensional headings (1 "Satires from the Edge", 2 "Beyond the Pale", 3 "The Arena of Satire", 4 "Melting Down the House") are framed by a comprehensive introduction and concise conclusion. In his introduction Larmour reveals what is meant by the subtitle "Juvenal's Search for Rome": Larmour's approach to Juvenal's Satires focuses on the continuous and, in the end, futile "search for anchors of stability to which the Roman male subject might affix his identity" (5). This idea best suits the character Umbricius: "In Sat. 3, Umbricius heads to Cumae […] in search of a more authentically Roman lifestyle" (59, n. 19). Larmour's concept of Juvenal's search for an uncorrupted Rome does not fit all Satires, though. More convincing is his presentation of how such genuine Roman values and social institutions as amicitia (with particular reference to Satires 5 and 9), virtus, nobilitas (Satire 8) and frugalitas (Satire 11) have been eroded in the present.

Chapter 1 (54-104) describes the first poem as a guide for the interpretation of the following 15 satires. It is claimed that in the programmatic satire Juvenal's satirist-narrator introduces himself as a marginal character.1 Larmour spends a considerable part of his first chapter (cf. 88-101) focusing on the one instance where he believes the satirist to be physically threatened. At Juv. 1.155-7, the satirist faces the prospect that his charred body will be dragged across the arena, and Larmour claims that the only way to avoid this fate is to become an editor. Yet, in Satire 11, Juvenal has his satirist make a very unusual appearance as host, thus turning the satirist's disembodied voice into "a person with a body".2

In chapter 2 (105-62), Larmour considers the crossing of boundaries. He compares not only the spatial (e.g. the city and periphery, different regions of the Empire), but also the figurative boundaries of gender identity through explorations of "unmasculine" men and "unfeminine" women (105). Accordingly, Satires 2 and 6 become the main focus of his research, grounded in Jonathan Walters' seminal paper Making a Spectacle: Deviant Men, Invective, and Pleasure (1998). While Walters' paper treats only Satire 2, Larmour extends Walters' concept of the transgression of boundaries and his use of the fashionable metaphor of the "arena of punishment" (364) to all of the Satires.

Like the book itself chapter 3 is entitled "The Arena of Satire" (163-230) and is thus marked as its core. It explores the connections between Juvenal's Satires and the arena as a space within the city but goes on to treat the arena as a metaphor, since for Larmour the arena "offers a productive analogue to the operations of Juvenalian discourse" (173). Larmour regards Juvenal's 'Arena of Satire' as linked with the physical space and its spectacles and gladiatorial combat through three principal themes: "1. Display and Punishment of the Body, 2. Containment and Borders, 3. Consumption and Excretion" (198).

In chapter 4 (231-94), Larmour systematically addresses the later Satires (10-15). He continues to focus on the satirist's nostalgic search across Roman space and time for a putatively pure Romanitas. Larmour convincingly analyzes Juvenal's representation of the Roman cityscape, zooming in on monuments and spaces throughout the poems. He sketches the aim of his own approach in this chapter thus: "to show how statues, ornaments, furniture, and other solidifying items participate in the undoing of permanence by the forces of change and transitoriness in the satirical world" (12).

This book's conclusion, "The Plague of Satire" (295-320), offers some case studies which attempt to identify Juvenalian features in the works of later satirists, from Jonathan Swift and Evelyn Waugh to contemporary writers such as Russian novelist Victor Pelevin and Irish dramatist Martin McDonagh. After a concise conclusion (295-305), Larmour continues seamlessly into a brief survey of several later satirists, who – in his opinion – have developed Juvenal's trademark features in their writings. The link connecting them is "an interdependence of the topographic and the somatic, which is quintessentially Juvenalian" (13). Some of these examples of "modern Juvenalians" of the 20th and 21st centuries seem chosen somewhat randomly and the links between them quite vaguely associative.

In his comprehensive bibliography (321-42), Larmour refers to the new publication (2015) on Juvenal by Uden but not to that by Keane of the same year.3 An index locorum has been integrated into his quite heterogeneous general index (343-56), in addition to an Index rerum, nominum, verborum.

Larmour convincingly identifies the "rhetoric of exemplarity" as the essential feature of Juvenal's satiric technique (esp. 9, 199). Like the spectacle of the arena, the vivid vignettes of Juvenalian satire provide a rapid succession of arena-style entertainment. The constant reference to the amphitheatre as ubiquitous phenomenon of Roman cultural life can be found in other writers as well (as Larmour himself shows, 177-89) – especially in Lucan's epic.4 The arena undoubtedly provided the satirist with colourful imagery and it constitutes a crucial element in Juvenal's satire, a fact Larmour illustrates by many examples. His sophisticated work compels readers to be sensitive to the language of the amphitheatre and overtones of gladiatorial combat, as well as amphitheatrical or gladiatorial imagery and analogy in certain scenes. For me, the central value of his study is his revelation of the pervasive theme of spectacle in Juvenal's satire. Larmour's approach of applying the arena as a conceptual model and framework to all of the Satires does not convince, however.

The numerous different roles of the satirist/speaker are presented throughout (see index s.v. "satirist"). Larmour shows him – above all – as satirist-flâneur wandering along the streets of Rome. He also links Juvenal's poetic role to that of an editor (cf. e.g. 155) who produces textual spectacles (by reenactment) for the entertainment of the reader. The perception of the flâneur aimlessly walking the streets of the city is incompatible with the well-organized producer of games (editor). The combination of editor and aimless satirist would only work if Larmour had located these roles at different levels of reading or in different passages. Especially problematic is that he assigns the satirist the role of the punisher/avenger, cf. e.g.: "the satirist must always set up targets that he then tries to 'punish' or 'kill' with his rhetorical weaponry" (199). Trying to link arena and satire, Larmour assumes a close connection between satire and physical violence. Yet he does not manage to successfully detect this quintessential aspect of the satirist's role as punisher in Juvenal's text.5 What we encounter in Juvenal's text is a display of vice, degeneracy and folly, of villains and frauds, of miscreants and deviants – quidquid agunt homines … nostri farrago libelli est (Juv. 1.85-6) - defined by the satirist as his programmatic subject matter. One wonders if the metaphor of the theatre as an analogy for satire 6 may not play as prominent a part in Juvenal's panoramic satire as that of the arena. Contrasted with the more common metaphor of the theatre, the key element of Larmour's 'Arena of Satire' is the element of punishment. Larmour sees in Juvenal's Satires a spectacle of laughter and punishment; in his conception the rehabilitated Etruscan phersu 7 is the best example of the satirist's role and function. For a sense of his position see p. 210: "Rather than worry excessively about distinguishing the putative persona(e) in the text, we should rather acknowledge in Juvenal's satirist the significance of a probable remnant of this masked organizer of tortures".

Larmour, in general, seems more interested in the sociopolitical aspects and in particular in the "visual machinery of the Roman arena and its presentation of ideologically laden signs to a mass audience" (164) than in an unbiased interpretation of individual Satires. As a result, one learns more about the Roman arena in Larmour's monograph (particularly on 163-98) than about Juvenal's Satires. Larmour's 'Arena of Satire' is one possible approach but not the only one; it is legitimate, but limited.

This richly footnoted publication has been carefully produced, but Larmour does not always apply the careful scrutiny in his close readings that a scholarly reader might wish for.8 Yet, all in all, this is a stimulating, thought-provoking book despite its author's limited view through an 'amphitheatrical lens', and Juvenalian scholars will find much – not in Juvenal's, but – in Larmour's own 'Arena of Satire' to stir their interest.


1.   "The liminal positioning of the speaker as he introduces himself – whether at the crossroads, on the doorstep, or at the city gates – is a self-conscious gesture of marginalization" (10); see also 77. Nevertheless, the central position of the crossroads (cf. medio … quadrivio, Juv. 1.63f.) does not work in this context. To support his argument regarding the liminal positioning of the satirist Larmour draws upon Juv. 1.95-126 claiming: "We hear nothing from the speaker in this scene, as he is pushed aside and silenced" (78). Yet, the speaker is present inasmuch as his biting judgement intrudes on the freedman's words at Juv. 1.104f. natus ad Euphraten, molles quod in aure fenestrae / arguerint. Surely, this is not what the actual speaker would say.
2.   Cf. Catherine Keane, Juvenal and the Satiric Emotions, Oxford; New York, 2015, 150.
3.   James Uden, The Invisible Satirist, Oxford; New York, 2015. Keane (as in n. 2). Larmour's work might have also benefitted from Wendy J. Raschke, "Imperium sine fine – Boundaries in Juvenal", in Fritz Felgentreu/Felix Mundt/Nils Rücker (eds.), Per attentam Caesaris aurem: Satire – die unpolitische Gattung? , (Tübingen 2009), 131- 47. Although one might not share Walter Kißel's often old-fashioned attitudes towards new approaches of literary theory, his research report (Lustrum 55, 2013, Göttingen 2014) provides a detailed overview of the relevant literature dealing with Juvenal published between 1962 and 2011.
4.   Cf. Matthew Leigh, Lucan. Spectacle and Engagement, (Oxford, 1997), Index s.v. amphitheatre.
5.   Larmour proceeds rather brutally to show how in Juv. 1.21 (edam) the satirist is depicted in the role of the arena editor as producer of spectacles. At first he connects the verb with the related noun editor: "In using this verb, Juvenal appears to be casting himself as an editor, who is going to give us a show, a series of spectacula" (70). Here edere is endowed with a meaning which it does not have in the given context (cf. TLL 91.7-9). In the next step the role of editor is additionally connected by Lamour with that of ultor (71).
6.   Cf. especially Juv. 14.256-8, see also Christine Schmitz, Das Satirische in Juvenals Satiren, Berlin; New York, 2000, 21f. Images of the theatre are everywhere to be found, which Larmour does not challenge (see Index s.v. theater, stage). Re: Juvenalian theatre or the amphitheatre cf. Catherine Clare Keane, "Theatre, Spectacle, and the Satirist in Juvenal", Phoenix 57, 2003, 257-75, esp. 260.
7.   Cf. his extensive discussion of the theory that the Latin word persona was derived from, or at least cognate with, the Etruscan figure Phersu (esp. 209, n. 154).
8.   Here only one example: Larmour (243) does not acknowledge the antithesis concerning the servants in Satire 5, for Gaetulus Ganymedes (Juv. 5.59) cf. Schmitz (as in n. 6) 253. There are a few typos, but they do not hinder understanding, such as "Perisus" (193) for Persius, "Corcyrian" for Corycian (241, n. 27) or procures for proceres, 50. There are also some issues regarding the syntax: Read Mauri (Juv. 5.53) instead of Maurus (243), castora (Juv. 12.34) instead of castor (245), fremitu[s] (Juv. 14.247) 284, hianti<a> (Juv. 15.57f.) 286, inclinatus for inclinatis (Juv. 15.63) 286. Further corrigenda: Meister, Karl [von has to be erased], Die Hausschwelle in Sprache der [for und] Religion der Römer (335); Ovid, Fasti 1.700 read erat (thus fitting the metre) instead of est (289).

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Nancy Bookidis, Elizabeth G. Pemberton, The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore: The Greek Lamps and Offering Trays. Corinth: results of excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, XVIII.7. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2015. Pp. xix, 183; 50 p. of plates. ISBN 9780876611876. $150.00.

Reviewed by Andras Marton, CRBC, Brest; chargé de mission, Louvre (

Version at BMCR home site


Ce nouveau volume dédié à les fouilles du sanctuaire de Déméter et Korè présente deux études indépendantes : les lampes grecques par Nancy Bookidis et les plateaux à offrandes par Elizabeth G. Pemberton.

La première partie publie les lampes grecques provenant du sanctuaire avec un supplément pour les lampes romaines. Au total, 4181 lampes (sur les 4391 exemplaires découverts) ont été étudiées, celles pour lesquelles le lieu de fabrication est identifiable. 60,9 % des lampes attiques ou corinthiennes sont typologiquement reconnaissables. 88,4 % sont corinthiennes, 10,4 % attiques et 1,2 % sont issues d'autres ateliers. 23 % appartiennent à la période archaïque, 38 % datent des Ve-IVe siècles et 7 % ont été fabriquées au cours des IIIe et IIe siècles. Le matériel est en grande partie fragmentaire ; seulement 256 lampes sont complètes ou presque, parmi lesquelles seules 150 sont de taille normale. Leur étude est accompagnée par un catalogue sélectif mais représentatif comprenant 214 lampes en céramique (organisé en deux grandes parties : lampes corinthiennes, en suivant autant que possible la classification d'Oscar Broneer, et lampes importées), une lampe en bronze et en marbre et quinze supports de lampe, le tout illustré par d'excellents dessins des profils et des photographies.

Dans le catalogue, l'accent a été porté, avec raison, sur la production des VIIe et VIe siècles plutôt que sur celle des Ve et IVe siècles, alors beaucoup plus standardisée. Malgré le fait que la production des lampes soit avérée à Corinthe pendant la période d'intérim, leurs dédicaces cessent au sanctuaire de Déméter et Korè après la destruction de la ville en 146 avant n.è. Néanmoins la manière dont la variation du nombre des lampes reflète la fluctuation des visites au sanctuaire n'est pas claire. Par exemple pour les figurines, la période de déposition la plus prolifique est le IVe siècle suivie par une chute soudaine au cours du IIIe siècle. Sous réserve que la dégradation des couches hellénistiques ait pu altérer notre perception, on peut prudemment avancer l'hypothèse que la différence entre la fréquence des lampes et des figurines selon les périodes puisse refléter un changement dans les pratiques au sanctuaire.

Bookidis présente la stratigraphie et des contextes bien datés permettant de situer les divers types dans le temps. Puis elle aborde les lieux de découverte au sein du sanctuaire et elle replace les trouvailles dans leur contexte historique et cultuel. Selon ses conclusions, le nombre important de lampes est une caractéristique des sanctuaires de Déméter et Korè. Des investigations minutieuses permettent de préciser davantage les circonstances de leur utilisation. 31 % des lampes provenant du sanctuaire de Déméter à Corinthe ont été découvertes dans les couches noires et moelleuses identifiées comme des résidus de sacrifices, ce qui indiquerait que les lampes ont joué un rôle important lors des sacrifices et des rituels nocturnes et, comme les sources antiques le suggèrent, également diurnes. L'éclairage des salles de banquet est un autre domaine d'utilisation des lampes attesté à Corinthe. Les lampes en bronze et en marbre pourraient être des offrandes, ainsi peut-être qu'une partie des lampes à becs multiples.

Cette étude approfondie démontre l'importance de la réalisation d'une nouvelle classification des lampes de Corinthe et d'une étude de la production des lampes dans les ateliers de la ville.

La deuxième partie de l'ouvrage publie les plateaux à offrandes autres que ceux du type liknon portant diverses offrandes alimentaires, déjà publiés par Allaire Brumfield,1 c'est-à-dire des plateaux avec des vases miniatures et quelques vases annulaires miniatures. Pemberton classe les 1014 exemplaires dans plusieurs groupes typologiques : 160 appartiennent au groupe A (plateaux vides) ; 596 aux groupes B1 et B2 (plateaux avec trois coupes ou plus) ; 160 aux groupes C1 et C2 (plateaux avec phiales et coupes) ; 78 au groupe E (plateaux avec des vases divers—jarres, cruches, cratérisques et œnochoés ) et 4 au groupe F (vases annulaires). 2138 coupes peuvent appartenir aux groupes B, C ou D et 376 phiales aux groupes C ou E.

La présentation se poursuit par l'étude de leur fabrique et la méthode de fabrication et de décoration. La chronologie est quant à elle une question plus difficile. Les contextes clos bien datés ne sont pas nombreux dans le sanctuaire. Ces plateaux apparaissent plus tard que les likna dont quelques-uns avec vases et nourriture pourraient être des précurseurs des plateaux à offrandes. Les premiers plateaux apparaissent probablement vers le milieu du VIe siècle. Les plateaux à trois coupes sont les plus fréquents au Ve siècle, ils restent populaires au IVe siècle et leur production continue au moins dans le IIIe siècle. Les groupes C et E ont probablement commencé un peu plus tôt que le groupe B et le groupe C perdure jusqu'à la fin de l'époque classique. Le groupe E apparaît au VIe siècle, peut-être vers 550 avant n.è., mais la fin de leur production ne peux pas être datée avec précision. Les vases annulaires (groupe F) datent de la phase tardive du VIe et du début du Ve siècle.

Dans la suite, sont analysés les contextes de découverte de plateaux dans le sanctuaire et au dehors. Ils apparaissent dans le quartier des potiers (où une partie d'entre eux a été produite), dans le dépôt votif de Vrysoula, datant de l'époque classique, et dans une fosse votive du Bâtiment I. Deux coupes détachées de leur plateau se trouvent dans le matériel de la fontaine sacrée. L'analyse suggère que ces plateaux n'étaient pas spécifiques à une pratique cultuelle, mais plutôt à une déesse. Pemberton évoque la possibilité que les exemplaires trouvés sur des maisons détruites dans le quartier puissent être rattachés au culte de Déméter Epoikidie. En dehors de la ville, nous en retrouvons trois dans l'Héraion de Perachora, un à Isthmia et un exemplaire typologiquement distant de ceux de Corinthe à Rachi. Étonnement aucun n'est connu dans le sanctuaire de Déméter de Solygia. En revanche au moins 19 importés de Corinthe ont été mis au jour dans le sanctuaire de Némée.

Une contribution importante est apportée par l'analyse de la relation entre les plateaux à offrandes et les kernoi et d'autres vases munis de vaisselles miniatures attachées. Pemberton suppose que les vases attachés sur les plateaux du sanctuaire n'ont jamais contenu aucune substance. On peut regretter l'absence d'analyses de contenu (cf. 125, n 98) qui ont apporté des résultats prometteurs pour des formes similaires.2

Comme comparatifs aux vases annulaires, Pemberton cite quatre exemplaires corinthiens, tous datant du Corinthien ancien, auxquels on peut peut-être ajouter un kernos (corinthien ?) provenant de l'Antre corycien.3 Les vases annulaires du sanctuaire de Déméter sont plus tardifs. Ils sont datés vers la fin du VIe siècle ; donc environ un siècle les sépare des kernoi du Corinthien ancien. Leur forme est également différente, le support est un anneau bas et solide, les vases attachés n'ont pas de trou sur le fond relié avec l'anneau et ils sont posés de manière plus espacée. Une autre différence fondamentale est que, contrairement aux kernoi du Corinthien ancien, sur lesquels des cotylisques sont rattachés, les vases annulaires du sanctuaire de Déméter ne portent pas de vase à boire. En effet ces deux groupes ne sont pas en relation ; il s'agit de deux expériences indépendantes qui n'ont pas eu beaucoup de succès à Corinthe.

En cherchant une interprétation des plateaux à offrandes, en l'absence de sources écrites, nous devons nous tourner vers les représentations (dont Pemberton présente un recueil) sur des vases et des panneaux peints sur lesquels des plateaux similaires sont représentés. On peut faire quelques remarques concernant sa liste : le no 1 est le vase éponyme du Peintre de la Fête des Femmes (Frauenfest) de Béziers ;4 le no 3 est également dû à ce peinte ;5 le no 2 est attribué au Peintre du Patinage 6 ; le no 8 est dû au même peintre et est désormais publié ;7 d'après la publication le no 9 n'est pas une pyxide, mais un plat ;8 le no 11 provient de Vulci —une amphore décorée par le Peintre de Politis ;9 le cratère no 12 a été décoré par une main proche du Peintre de Klyka.10 Pour la liste des représentations, on peut ajouter une amphore du Peintre de Politis.11

Une différence fondamentale entre les scènes corinthiennes et leurs semblables attiques est le rôle plus important des femmes dans les premières et le fait que le plateau soit porté par une jeune fille. Pemberton émet l'hypothèse plausible que les plateaux à offrandes soient des représentations miniatures de ceux utilisés dans le sanctuaire probablement dans les pratiques cultuelles en relation avec Déméter et Korè plutôt qu'avec Dionysos. Lors du VIe siècle, le liknon, un panier en vannerie, a remplacé le large plateau ouvert, ce qui est représenté sur les vases.

L'œnochoé de Perachora 2066 (ici no 10) est particulièrement intéressante car il semble, pace Pemberton, que la fille ne porte pas un plateau mais un panier en vannerie. S'il s'agit vraiment d'un panier, cette représentation prouve une coexistence des deux types au Corinthien moyen. Les versions miniatures en céramique font allusion aux repas communs et aux offrandes de nourriture.

Le chapitre se termine par le catalogue, accompagné par un dossier photographique, des plateaux et des vases annulaires rangés selon les groupes définis dans l'étude.

D'une façon générale, l'ouvrage présente la qualité habituelle de la série Corinth, les dessins et les photographies sont de qualité et les indexes détaillés permettent une orientation facile du lecteur.

Le volume constitue une contribution majeure à notre connaissance sur les pratiques de dévotion des habitants de Corinthe envers Déméter et sa fille, à travers les siècles, et une importante étape pour la publication complète du sanctuaire de Déméter et Korè.


1.   "Cakes in the Liknon: Votives from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore on Acrocorinth" Hesperia 66.1 (1997), 147-172.
2.   Alessandro Quercia. "I residui organici nella ceramica. Stato degli studi e prospettive di ricerca," dans Francesco D'Andria, Jacopo De Grossi Mazzorin, Girolamo Fiorentino (éds). Uomini, piante e animali nella dimensione del sacro. Bari, 2008, 209-216 ; Giorgio Samorini, "L'uso di sostanze psicoattive nei Misteri Eleusini," dans le même volume, 217-233.
3.   AC 2395, Anne Jacquemin. « Céramique des époques archaïque, classique et hellénistique. L'Antre Corycien II, » Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique Supplément IX (1984), 90, no 36 et fig., l'anneau présente une section à mi-chemin entre le type quadrangulaire et arrondi.
4.   Prov. de Délos, Darrell Arlynn Amyx, Corinthian Vase-Painting in the Archaic Period. Berkeley – Los Angeles – Londres, 1988 (= Amyx, CorVPA dans la suite), 230, no 1, 501.
5.   Pour le numéro d'inventaire, mes notes donnent 127 (SA 192), Amyx, CorVPA, 230, no 2, 501, pl. 98. 2.
6.   Amyx, CorVPA, 229, A-3, 654, pl. 98. 1.
7.   Hermitage B. 2961. Inv. GR. 8754, trouvée près de Berezan. Le vase a été attribué probablement au Peintre du Patinage par Darell A. Amyx (229, AP-1, 323, 654). La pyxide est désormais publiée, Anastasia Bukina, Anna Petrakova, Dmitry Aleksinsky, Corinthian Vases and Their Antique Imitations. Catalogue of the Collection. St. Petersburg, 2015, 116-118, no 118, ici attribué au Peintre de la Fête des Femmes de Béziers. D'après les photos publiées ici, l'attribution au Peintre du Patinage est tout à fait justifiée.
8.   T. J. Dunbabin, Perachora. The Sanctuaries of Hera Akraia and Limenia. Vol. II. Oxford, 1962, 194, no 1951, pl. 77.
9.   Publiée dans Jack Leonard Benson. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Philadelphia 2, Princeton, PA, 1995, pls. 24-26.
10.   Amyx, CorVPA, 200, B-1, 563 note 26, pl. 83. 2.
11.   Amyx, CorVPA, 312, A-1, 390 note 2, 648, 654 ; Charikleia Papadopoulou-Kanellopoulou. Sylloge Karolu Politi. Athènes 1989, 95, no 46, figs. 86-91, pl. 14 ; Sotheby's, Sale Catalogue, 7-8/7/1994, no 326, ill. (coul.).

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Lennart Gilhaus, Statue und Status: Statuen als Repräsentationsmedien der städtischen Eliten im kaiserzeitlichen Nordafrika. Antiquitas. Reihe 1, Abhandlungen zur Alten Geschichte, Bd. 66. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt, 2015. Pp. viii, 432. ISBN 9783774939738. €89.00.

Reviewed by Cristina Murer, Freie Universität Berlin (

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This book by L. Gilhaus discusses the representational behaviour of elites in the cities of Africa Proconsularis from 31 BC until AD 284. It is based on a doctoral dissertation submitted in spring 2015 at the University of Bonn. The book asks for whom, where, when, why, and by whom honorific statues were set up, and explores the extent to which this material delivers new insights on the social order, political interactions, and mobility of elites during the imperial period. The main sources consulted are the inscriptions of honorific statues set up for emperors and elites, since with few exceptions (a total of 21 commemorated freeborn and slaves) only these social groups were granted such honours. With this epigraphical approach the book builds on important earlier works in the field.1 The author is right to note, in the introduction, that even though statue-base inscriptions from Africa Proconsularis are discussed in detail in local epigraphical studies, hers is the first larger overview for the region.

The book is divided into four chapters. Following a general introduction (Chapter 1), Chapter 2 discusses the definition of elites, and Chapter 3 the development of cities in Africa Proconsularis from the Hellenistic period until the 3rd century AD. Then follows the main chapter of the book, divided into two parts, on the epigraphical sources for honorific statues (4.1) and the places where honorific statues were set up (4.2). Almost all of the statue-base inscriptions cited in this chapter are collected in logically organized tables at the end of the book. Following a top-down hierarchical structure, the first part of the main chapter starts with the discussion of statues set up for emperors (4.1.2), followed by statues for high office holders (4.1.3); for patroni (4.1.4); for senators (4.1.5); for equites (4.1.6); for members of the decurial order (4.1.7); and statues for freeborn and slaves (4.1.8). On the basis of the epigraphical sources discussed here, Gilhaus stresses the important role of the ordo decurionum within each town as a supervisory body for the erection of statues, especially when statues were set up for emperors (p. 160). Several statistical charts clarify the author's convincing discussion of the rise and fall of the epigraphic (i.e. statuary) habit in Africa Proconsularis. Gilhaus shows that very few statues were set up in the first century AD, and that the practice of setting up statues increased throughout the second century and reached a clear peak during the reign of Septimius Severus (p. 162). Even though all this sounds convincing and confirms earlier research,2 it is surprising that the problem of the reuse of older statue bases is never addressed—even though newer publications deal with this important problem. Therefore the reader always wonders whether the apparent scarcity of first-century statue bases might not result, at least in part, from later reuse processes, as I. Tantillo and F. Bigi recently showed in the case of Leptis Magna. 3 Moreover, the towns with a better preservation situation and whose statue bases have been included in epigraphic corpora (for example, Leptis Magna) stand in contrast to other cities that lack such good preservation or publication conditions. All these factors have a strong influence on the epigraphical statistics. Some critical comments on these factors should therefore have been made by the author—they would not have contradicted the arguments in general, but made the discussion more up to date and plausible. Also, the consideration of statues and portraits would in some places have helped to sharpen the conclusions drawn within this chapter: although the author is technically correct that no statue inscription provides evidence for honorific statues for emperors from the first century in Sabratha (p. 55), preserved statues and portraits of emperors from the forum area of the same town do. Most surprising is why, without any further explanation, the statue-base inscriptions for female members of the imperial family are omitted.

The second part of the main chapter (4.2) is dedicated to space and representation. The focus is on honorific statues set up in fora (4.2.2), theatres (4.2.3), bath buildings (4.2.4), market buildings (4.2.5), and temples (4.2.6), since most of the epigraphical material under discussion derives from these contexts. The epigraphical material is therefore confronted with its actual urban environment, which is a very fruitful approach.

On fora, the most prominent display space for statues within a Roman town, the author begins with a detailed overview of the statue bases found in the fora of Leptis Magna, followed by discussion of finds from the fora of Sabratha, Sufetula and Uchi Maius. He points out that mainly statues of emperors were set up by the ordo decurionum in North African fora (pp. 200–206), and that many more honorific statues were dedicated to members of the supralocal elite (especially high officeholders) than statues for members of the local elite (pp. 203f.). One wonders why, given the author's acknowledgement that most of the statue bases are no longer in situ, he does not apply this point to many of the bases he concentrates on: for example, it is determined, without providing any archaeological proof, that twelve statue bases were certainly found in situ in the forum of Sufetula (p. 190), even though this forum space in particular underwent vast transformation in Late Antiquity.4

Next, the honorific statues set up in the theatres of Leptis Magna, Carthage, Madauros and Thugga are discussed. The author has chosen very important and interesting contexts, since many statue bases and even portrait statues were found within these compounds. But unfortunately, several conclusions in this section result from problematic methodology or even, in parts, inaccurate data. For example, the theatre of Leptis Magna is neither the earliest nor the largest theatre in North Africa as suggested in the introduction to this chapter (p. 206; older and larger theatres are known from Utica and Cherchel). The statue of Vibia Sabina as Diana/Venus from the theatre of Leptis Magna is not a portrait statue of the empress, and it is also not the custom to represent empresses as Diana as the author suggests (p. 211). The over-life-sized statue of Septimius Severus does not represent him as Heracles (p. 212), and contrary to the author's opinion, no such sculptural representations of Septimius Severus are known.5

Then comes discussion of the epigraphical and sculptural finds from baths, market buildings, and temples. Again, many very important but problematic sculptural assemblages have been selected by the author, notably those from the Hadrianic Baths of Leptis Magna, the Antonine Baths at Carthage, and the temple of Apollo at Bulla Regia. In all three cases, much of the sculpture recovered was transferred there only in Late Antiquity or even later.6 Thus, the sculptural and epigraphical finds do not represent—as the author repeatedly suggests (pp. 238, 291)—the original sculptural program of the buildings. Furthermore, the finds from the temple of Apollo at Bulla Regia are not complete (many epigraphical finds are not mentioned), and the statue described as Marcus Aurelius from the Serapis Temple from Leptis Magna (p. 264) is not a statue of the emperor but a private portrait statue.7

More general criticisms include, in addition to the volume's high price and tiny, poor-quality maps, the unusually harsh tone it adopts regarding past scholarship (primarily in the footnotes), which can become distracting and bothersome to the reader, particularly because at times it is wrong or inappropriate. For example, the allegation (p. 307, n. 15) that M. Højte made a methodological mistake to include statue inscriptions from honorific arches in his catalogue of statue inscriptions of emperors is unjustified,8 since honorific arches originally functioned as statue carriers, as other specialists in the field have repeatedly stressed.9 Further, Gilhaus often criticizes how incomplete other epigraphical or sculptural corpora are, when he himself has failed to integrate the statue bases of imperial women into his own corpus. The harsh criticism of P. Veyne's and G. Alföldy's works on Roman society in the introduction seems somewhat unnecessary, since no updated viewpoint or or fresh attempt at discussion follows (pp. 12–16). In general, one would have wished for the author to have been guided by somewhat less conservative and more up to date perspectives on, and methodological approaches to, this exciting field of study.

These reservations aside, the book delivers important insights into the functioning of elite society at the local level, the actions of and interactions between local notables and imperial-level officials and grandees, and the possibilities for advancement that could transform the former into the latter. It is very clearly written, and consequently also easily comprehensible for non-native German speakers. Of special interest is its account of the rise of wealthy North African families from the equestrian into the senatorial order, especially from the later second century onwards. Gilhaus' study reminds us, again, of just how much statue bases have revealed about the internal workings of provincial cities, and the notables who shaped those cities in both physical and institutional terms.


1.   For example: G. Alföldy, "Bildprogramme in den römischen Städten des Conventus Tarraconensis. Das Zeugnis der Statuenpostamente", in Homenaje a García Bellido IV, Compultum 118, 1979, 177–275; C. Witschel, "Die Entwicklung der Gesellschaft von Timgad im 2. bis 4. Jh. n. Chr.", Klio 77, 1995, 266–331; M. Corbier, "Les familles clarissimes d'Afrique proconsulaire (Ier–IIIe siècle)", in Atti del Colloquio Internazionale AIEGL su epigrafia e ordine senatorio, Roma, 14–20 maggio 1981 (Rome, 1982), 685–754.
2.   R. MacMullen, "The Epigraphic Habit in the Roman Empire", AJP 103, 1982, 233–246; C. Witschel, Krise – Rezession – Stagnation? Der Westen des römischen Reiches im 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (Frankfurt, 1999).
3.   I. Tantillo – F. Bigi (eds.), Leptis Magna. Una città e le sue iscrizioni in epoca tardoromana (Cassino, 2010).
4.   A. Leone, Changing Townscapes in North Africa from Late Antiquity to the Arab Conquest (Bari, 2007), 153, Tab. 11 (with further references on the Late Antique transformation of the forum space).
5.   A. Lichtenberger, Severus Pius Augustus: Studien zur sakralen Repräsentation und Rezeption der Herrschaft des Septimius Severus und seiner Familie (193-211 n. Chr.) (Leiden, 2011), 83.
6.   A. Leone, The End of the Pagan City: Religion, Economy, and Urbanism in Late Antique North Africa (Oxford, 2013); C. Lepelley, "Le musée des statues divines: la volonté de sauvegarder le patrimoine artistique païen a l'époque théodosienne", CahArch 42, 1994, 5–15.
7.   L. Buccino, "Ritratti di Leptis Magna: modelli, produzione, contesto tra la dinastia flavia e gli Antonini", LibSt 45, 2014, 23.
8.   J. M. Højte, Roman Imperial Statue Bases from Augustus to Commodus (Aarhus, 2005).
9.   See H. von Hesberg, "Bogenmonumente der frühen Kaiserzeit und des 2. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. Vom Ehrenbogen zum Festtor", in H. von Hesberg, H. J. Schalles, and P. Zanker (eds.), Die römische Stadt im 2. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Der Funktionswandel des öffentlichen Raumes (Cologne, 1992), 277–299.

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Claudia Sagona, The Archaeology of Malta: From the Neolithic through the Roman Period. Cambridge world archaeology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Pp. xix, 449. ISBN 9781107006690. $135.00.

Reviewed by Rowan McLaughlin, Queen's University Belfast (

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Part of the Cambridge World Archaeology series, this book presents a synthesis of the archaeology of Neolithic and Bronze Age Malta not achieved since John Evans's seminal Prehistoric Antiquities of the Maltese Islands,1 and in addition, also contains chapters covering Punic/Phoenician and Roman sites. This is an ambitious and compendious book that falls intermediately in scope and detail between Evans's work and Sagona's own treatise on Punic Malta,2 and more popular accounts of Maltese archaeology.3 The book is generally a success, but the treatment of various cultural phases is uneven and—especially in the Early Neolithic (Chapter 2) and Roman periods (Chapter 8)—the reader is left wondering whether more could have been made of the available evidence within Malta and its relationship to the surrounding Mediterranean worlds.

The book is structured chronologically, with each section containing a very useful overview of the material culture and evidence for the economy of each cultural phase that has been identified. Chapter 1 sets the scene: the Maltese Islands are a small archipelago in the central Mediterranean, comprised of limestone, isolated from neighbouring landmasses, and today rather denuded of natural vegetation. The islands are now intensively populated and perhaps were in the distant past too, as some of the world's most remarkable prehistoric sites are found in Malta and Gozo—most renowned of all are the megalithic buildings ('temples') built and used presumably for ritual between approximately 4000 and 2400 BC (i.e. the Copper Age, although due to an absence of the metal in Malta the term is not used). The book begins with a brief history of archaeology in Malta, explaining how international interest in these prehistoric monuments was first piqued in the 17th century. A number of antiquarian investigations followed, and by the late 19th century, the work had become recognisably 'archaeological'. By this time, the pace of development on Malta and Gozo had increased, and there was already an awareness that the archaeological resource was finite—indeed the richness of the islands' archaeology is a consequence of the successful management of this resource over years of rapid change. Twentieth-century archaeology in Malta saw the excavation of important prehistoric sites by Maltese, Italian and British workers, and from the 1960s onwards, the development of a radiocarbon-dated cultural sequence that provided and still provides a framework upon which the successive phases of prehistoric human occupation can be mapped.

All the available radiometric data for Malta is presented in Chapter 1 (with further details in an appendix) by graphing the probability distributions of the available dates. Missing is a some kind of way to summarise these data further; useful, for example, would have been a table of the various phases, associated with an estimated span of their dates. Although a map of sites mentioned in the text is given, there is no attempt to show the topography and geology of the islands, which are both important factors in the location of the sites, as discussed elsewhere in the book.

Chapter 2 provides an account of the evidence of the Ghar Dalam (5000-4300 BC), Grey Skorba (4500-4400 BC) and Red Skorba phases (4400-4100 BC), which aside from tenuous and inconclusive evidence for Palaeolithic, comprise the first, overlapping phases of Maltese prehistory. Much of the discussion is dependent on the finds, structures and samples from one site, also known as Skorba, where strata from most of the Maltese prehistoric phases were excavated between 1961 and 1963.4 Sagona points out both the similarity and growing differences between Maltese and Sicilian material culture during these times, although illustration of the Sicilian evidence would have been a useful addition for the reader. Also, there is no discussion about why the 'phases' or 'periods' (the terms are used interchangeably) apparently overlap during the 4400-4300 BC period; clearly there are very few radiocarbon dates to build the chronology upon, but the book does not adequately acknowledge the problem, let alone suggest ways in which the necessary refinements can be made.

Chapter 3 deals with the 'Late Neolithic', from 4100 to 2400 BC, the period of time that concerns the great megalithic structures and hypogea for which the islands are known. Sagona avoids where possible the arguably misleading term 'temple' for the Maltese megaliths. This, of course, leads the reader to speculate about what the structures were actually built for, and although there is plenty of discussion that sacred or shamanistic aspects of Late Neolithic life in Malta are suggested by the material culture and architectural details of the period, there is very little discussion concerning the function of the megaliths themselves. There are interesting parallels drawn between Late Neolithic iconography found in the hypogea and hallucinated patterns commonly seen during trance states. These observations, and the ethnographic parallels on which Sagona draws when attempting to probe the belief system, add much colour to problems that are difficult to grapple with. The conclusions are of course speculative but thought provoking. Not satisfactorily addressed, however, is the overwhelming evidence from the excavated megalithic sites that animals were of paramount importance. The evidence of this comes from the animal bones found during excavations at the megalithic sites and the representative carvings found at the megalithic site of Tarxien.5

Chapter 4 rehearses an important debate in Maltese archaeology concerning the end of the Late Neolithic period and what happened to the megalithic culture that reigned on the island for centuries but suddenly 'collapsed' or disappeared around 2400 BC.6 For Sagona, the period is a time of cultural transition rather than collapse or catastrophe, the presence of a unique 'Thermi ware' pottery type from Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age strata at several sites providing evidence for a degree of continuity. But whether the period began after a break in the cultural sequence is a critical question that can only be answered, as Sagona points out (139), with more radiocarbon dates. The chapter also contains an interesting discussion on the origin of so-called 'cart ruts'—bedrock striations found in many parts of Malta—that Sagona proposes are somehow related to the act of artificially manufacturing soil to bring otherwise barren land into agricultural productivity. These features are very difficult to date, however, and indeed may be from slightly later in the Bronze Age. To fully accept Sagona's thesis, it will be necessary to compare their distribution not only to other archaeological sites (117) but also the bedrock geology and topographic factors, and unfortunately this exercise was not done.

The Early and Middle Bronze Ages in Malta are discussed in Chapter 5. Around 2400 BC, the dawn of the 'Tarxien Cemetery' period heralded new directions for the early Maltese, less apparent insularity and greater connection to other Mediterranean cultures, which are also themes that develop later in the book as the account of Punic and classical Malta plays out. This period differed from the Neolithic in terms of material culture, artistic style, and funerary rites. Next came the 'Borg in-Nadur period' beginning in 1500 BC (the transition is another archaeological mystery), which is described as a time of fortified sites at naturally strategic locations, small rural settlements, and caves used for dwelling and ritual.

The most satisfying Chapters in the book are 6 and 7, which concern the evidence for the Phoenician settlement of Malta in c. 750 BC (although there is much evidence for earlier influence), and their descendants who, two centuries later, came to be known by their Roman competitors as Punic. The end of the Bronze Age is considered first (in Chapter 6), the timing of which is again bedevilled by poor dating. Here, and elsewhere in the book, Sagona is keen to stress continuity, although given the absence of archaeological evidence, one is left wondering what the reasons for this are.

Reading Chapter 8 'Malta's Place in the Roman World', one is left with the impression that the archaeological evidence for this period is slight. This may be somewhat misrepresentative of the reality—there are many sites, although few that approach the magnificent vestiges of the Roman world found elsewhere in the Mediterranean. There was apparently much continuity with Punic lifeways, the best archaeological evidence for which is present in the funerary record, but unfortunately discussion on this important theme is limited to less than two pages, and fails to account for how burial practices evolved and were elaborated throughout the Roman period.

Some aspects of Sagona's book must be highly praised: there are detailed drawings and even some photographs of the bewildering array of pottery styles from each cultural phase. The appendices are excellent and very useful, giving a complete and georeferenced list of archaeological sites from the periods in question and details of radiocarbon dates. The bibliography too is a goldmine of information, and will be useful for years to come as a guide to the quite sizable body of literature concerning Malta and its archaeological past. There is an excellent index. However, for a volume that aspires to 'The Archaeology of Malta', there are too many frustrating omissions in the discussions, and simultaneously too much entanglement of fact and interpretation. That said, the book is a useful contribution, and as such the publisher ought to have provided better proofing, thicker paper and the perhaps some colour photographs—considering that the book is lacking in all these respects, its fairly high cost is difficult to justify.


1.   Evans, J. D. 1971. The prehistoric antiquities of the Maltese Islands. (London: Athlone Press).
2.   Sagona, C. 2002. The Archaeology of Punic Malta. (Leuven: Peeters Press).
3.   Given by, for example, Trump, D. H. 1990. Malta: An archaeological Guide. (Valletta: Progress Press Co. Ltd.; and Cilia, D. 2004). Malta Before History. (Malta: Miranda).
4.   Trump, D. H. 1966. Skorba. (London: Society of Antiquaries).
5.   E.g. Evans 1971, 116-149.
6.   See Malone et al. (ed.) 2009. Mortuary Customs in prehistoric Malta. (Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research), pp. 341-346.

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Philippe Lafargue, La bataille de Pylos: 425 av. J.-C. Athènes contre Sparte. Essai / Histoire. Paris: Alma éditeur, 2015. Pp. 266. ISBN 9782362791673. €22.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Edith Foster (

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Philippe Lafargue offers a thought-provoking reconsideration of Thucydides' account of Athens' victory over Sparta at Pylos in 425 BCE. Close to the beginning of the book, Lafargue announces his aim: "reconsidérer la chronologie de la guerre du Péloponnèse en sortant de la vision imposer par Thucydide; vision géniale, sans nul doute, mais qui ne se confond pas nécessairement avec le ressenti de la plupart de ceux qui vécurent le conflit" (14). He quickly admits (18) that Thucydides is our main source for the story upon which he will focus, and further specifies that he does not intend seriously to challenge his account of the events of the campaign (19). For Lafargue, it is Thucydides' lack of attention to the consequences of the Athenian victory at Pylos that differentiates him from others of his time. Whereas other Athenians, Lafargue argues, saw Pylos as the victory that determined the end of the Archidamian War, Thucydides described it as an event that led to greater Athenian hubris and therefore toward Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian War as a whole.

The first half of the book follows Thucydides' story of the initial phases of the Peloponnesian War, of the Athenian general Demosthenes' fortification at Pylos, of the Spartan assault by land and sea upon this position, and of the responding Athenian naval attack that cut off 400 Spartan hoplites on the island of Sphacteria (25-72).1 It concludes by retracing Thucydides' tale of the events at Pylos through to the end of the battle of Sphacteria (84-109).

The second half of the book begins with a useful description of the developments in warfare during the Peloponnesian War, focusing on the consequences of the new importance of light armed troops (e.g. 113-115) and continues by showing that the victory at Pylos was followed by celebratory architecture (137-142) and by reinforcements of the Athenian democracy; in particular, jury pay was increased. Lafargue also indicts Thucydides and Aristophanes for resentment and jealousy of the popular leader Cleon, passions that in his view caused them to dismiss or attack Cleon's achievements (e.g. 132-135); he reminds us that by contrast to these authors the Athenians honoured Cleon with unprecedented rewards.2 For Lafargue the architectural evidence, the strengthening of democratic institutions, and the honours for Cleon point toward the conclusion that the Athenians thought of Pylos as a turning point in the war with Sparta (150). Thucydides, however, "recognizes the importance of the event while minimizing its consequences" (151).

Lafargue is surely right that regular Athenians would have experienced the cessation of the Spartan invasions of Attica as a turning point in the war (153-155). It's also true that Thucydides does not himself comment on this cessation, a fact of some interest, given his sympathetic coverage of Athenian hardships during the invasions (2.14-17), which include the plague (2.49-53).3 Lafargue also notes that Thucydides focuses initially on the consequences of defeat for Sparta, rather than those of victory for Athens (165).4

On the basis of such observations, Lafargue argues that Thucydides diminished the consequences of the Pylos victory, somewhat because he detested Cleon (and also Demosthenes [157]) but mostly because he wanted to show how wrong the Athenians were to refuse the peace and alliance that the Spartans offered after the Spartiates were captured on Sphacteria. It was not that Thucydides thought that a real peace could have been achieved: as far as I understand Lafargue's argument, in his view the Spartan ambassadors who came to negotiate (4.17-20) offered the Athenian assembly no credible reason to make peace (83, 162).5 Moreover, Thucydides' account of the events after the peace of 421 showed how weak a peace in 425 would have been (163). Instead, Lafargue argues that Thucydides wanted to showcase the reason why the Athenians refused the peace, namely their hubris (cf. 196, "celui-ci [i.e. Thucydide] voit dans la paix refusée de Pylos l'incarnation suprême de la démesure Athénienne…"). By stressing this cause for refusing the Spartan peace offer, Thucydides made the victory at Pylos one more step on the road to Athens' defeat in the war as a whole (163-168).

Lafargue therefore insists that Thucydides suppressed the importance of the Pylos affair. E.g. « …en insistant sur les circonstances (hasardeuses) qui ont mené à cette victoire improbable, au détriment de ses conséquences, il la relègue presque au rang de non- évènement » (169, repeated almost verbatim at 193, cf. 197). This conclusion seems somewhat over-stated. Lafargue's own book follows Thucydides' lengthy presentation of the Pylos campaign (4.3-42) for nearly a hundred pages. Thucydides emphasizes, as Lafargue points out, the consequences for Sparta, which tries again and again to regulate affairs at Pylos right up to the victory at Mantinea in 418 (cf. e.g. 5.35.6-7, 5.44.3, 5.56.2-57.1). However, Thucydides' analysis of the consequences of Pylos for Athens is hardly invisible. For instance, he narrates in detail the aggression against nearby neighbors that characterized Athens' post-Pylos glory period (4. 42-57), campaigns that culminate in the destruction of the Aeginetans at Thyrea (4.57.3-4), a crime the Athenians themselves later remember as one of their worst (Xen. Hell 2.2.3). Later, Thucydides compares Athens' defeat at Syracuse to Sparta's defeat at Pylos (7.71.7; cf. 7.86.3), by this means drawing together his largest campaign stories. I don't see how we can call Pylos a "non-event" in Thucydides, even if we look only at his representation of Athens.

Lafargue's main point, however, is that Thucydides saw the war, and in particular the victory at Pylos, differently from most Athenians, in that Thucydides saw one long conflict from 431-404. By contrast, other historians saw a variety of divisions, beginnings, and endings of the war or wars; in particular, many marked off the Archidamian War as a conflict separate from later events (174-184). But historians are of course not "most Athenians". To support his argument that Athenians who lived through the war saw Pylos as the battle that produced Athens' victory in the Archidamian War, Lafargue takes evidence from Plato's Menexenus, which recounts the chronology of the war in a way that Lafargue argues "proves that the Peloponnesian War was not one [his italics] except in the mind of Thucydides" (183). Lafargue admits that the Menexenus is a problematic source, in which Plato's Socrates satirizes the funeral orations, and "magnifies past and present victories" (197). "Despite this", the Menexenus "expresses that which numerous Athenians will have still have believed in the fourth century: Pylos ended the war (or a war); thus the great glory of this victory" (197).

Unfortunately, it is difficult to accept the argument that the Menexenus can help us understand popular views of the 420's. Scholars (including Lafargue himself) generally agree that the Menexenus parodies the Funeral Orations. This poses a problem for using the Menexenus as straightforward historical evidence. As far as I can tell, the Menexenus, which seems to have been written during the 380's, proclaimed that Athens was forever undefeated by any power except her own internal dissensions (242e), and thus suggested that the Funeral Orations could represent Athens as stronger than all adversaries, even after her defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. If the Menexenus also suggests that Athens won the Archidamian War, how do we know that it was not mocking this idea as a delusion? The more elite audience of the Platonic dialogues should also be considered. How can writing that Plato addressed to an educated elite be a reflection of popular views?

Lafargue's argument that many Athenians thought that Athens had won the Archidamian War thus faces the problem that all scholars face when trying to study the Peloponnesian War, rather than Thucydides' views of the Peloponnesian War, namely the scarcity of evidence. His attempt is nevertheless stimulating, and would have been even more interesting if he had faced squarely the main challenge that all readers will think of, namely that the Archidamian War came to an end not after the Pylos campaign, but after Athens' defeats at Delium and Amphipolis. To trust Thucydides, by 421 Athenian public feeling had drastically changed from over-confidence to regret and lack of self-confidence (5.14.1–2), and it was this change, among other things, that made the peace agreement possible. Lafargue mentions Delium and Amphipolis only briefly on page 198; how is it that these reverses were not as powerful for Athenian views of the war as the victory at Pylos? However, defeat is notoriously difficult to admit, and perhaps they were not. Perhaps the fact that in 421 the Athenians had the prisoners from Pylos to trade for concessions gave rise to the sense that Athens still had the upper hand. The problem is that it is so hard to find evidence for such popular feelings.

Thucydides shows that he was aware both that popular views of particular events would differ from his own analysis (1.20.1, 1.21.1-2) and also that his contemporaries would quarrel with his assessment that the war was one long war (5.26.2-5). Lafargue's book encircles the question of Thucydides' situation in respect to his contemporary audience, providing an argument that the historian's synoptic overview differed from the experience on the ground. The main line of Lafargue's argument makes sense: that the Athenians were full of hope after Pylos, or even thought that they had won the war, seems possible and even likely; whether we can say that Thucydides distorts the story of the war by representing that these hopes and this conclusion were short lived is another question.


1.   Historical errors mar this presentation: on page 63, for example, Lafargue maintains that the Spartans closed the entrances to what is now the Bay of Navarino, whereas they planned to do this, but importantly, did not (4.13.4); on page 68 he maintains that Brasidas first appears in Thucydides at 4.12, but this is not the case (cf. 2.25.2, 85.1, 86.6, 93.1; 3.69.1-2, 76 and 79.3); on page 69 he argues that Epaminondas dropped his shield at the battle of Mantinea, but he must mean another figure or another battle (Xen. Hell. 7.25.5). His argument on page 71 that the Spartans somehow relinquished control of the entrances to the Bay of Navarino responds to the error on page 63. However, on page 160 he correctly states that the Spartans did not close the entrances in the first place.
2.   The book under consideration is a "prolongement" (205) of Lafargue's previous book, which was a defense of Cleon. See Cléon: Le Guerrier d'Athéna, Ausonius Éditions, 2013.
3.   It is not correct, however, that the cessation of the invasions is ignored in the narrative. Hippocrates disingenuously (or uselessly) exhorts his soldiers to fight to prevent the already defunct invasions in his exhortation at Delium (4.95.2); more importantly, the Spartans' post-Pylos attacks on Thrace replace the invasions of Attica.
4.   A less persuasive argument is his indictment of Thucydides for saying nothing about the victory celebrations (129). Cf. Lisa Irene Hau (2013) "Nothing to Celebrate? The Lack or Disparagement of Victory Celebrations in the Greek historians", in Rituals of Triumph in the Ancient World, Anthony Spalinger and Jeremy Armstrong, eds. Brill. 57-74. She shows that Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon almost never mention victory celebrations, particularly in the case of victories over other Greeks.
5.   Lafargue's arguments on the Spartan embassy are contradictory. He argues that Thucydides uses the Spartan speech at 4.14-17 to express his own views (79), and that for Thucydides the moment was a missed opportunity to make a real peace with Sparta (82, 162, 197); however, he also argues that Thucydides gave the Spartans a speech that was (quoting Roussel) "piteous and awkward," and which offered the Athenians nothing substantial that they didn't already have (83, 162). I have followed what seems to be the main line of his argument.

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Monday, August 29, 2016


Mario Telò, Aristophanes and the Cloak of Comedy: Affect, Aesthetics, and the Canon. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2016. Pp. xiii, 237. ISBN 9780226309699. $55.00.

Reviewed by Alan H. Sommerstein, University of Nottingham (

Version at BMCR home site


The thesis of this book is that Aristophanes' response, in Wasps and in the surviving version of Clouds, to the defeat of Clouds in its original form at the City Dionysia of 423 BCE, exercised an important influence on the ancient critics whose judgement that Aristophanes was the best of the three leading Old Comic dramatists determined, in turn, that eleven of his plays became the only Old Comedies to survive antiquity intact. The book consists mainly of a detailed analysis of that response (though with Wasps getting the lion's share of attention), covering not only the parabases (in which reference to the first Clouds, and other earlier plays, is explicit) but many other parts of the two comedies. Aristophanes, it is argued, presents himself as a son seeking to cure his audience (imaged as a father) from maladies brought on by the comedies of his rivals (mainly Cratinus in Wasps; mainly Eupolis in Clouds II) by means of his brand of comedy, imaged as a warm, soft cloak (χλαῖνα) in contrast with the rough, threadbare garment (τρίβων) offered by inferior poets.

One would have thought that a study with this aim would have much to say about problems concerning the revision of Clouds, which is known never to have been completed,1 and would also examine closely the statements of ancient critics about Aristophanes, Cratinus and Eupolis and compare them with the content and language of Wasps and Clouds II. Telò does nothing of the sort. On the revision of Clouds, he declares that he regards the surviving script as "the product of a thorough and systematic process of re-creation . . . [and], beyond the portions clearly established as new, [does] not attempt to determine what the revised version preserves or alters" (126–7). None of the ten surviving quotations from Clouds I is ever mentioned, and when Telò (p. 150) discusses Clouds 1415 (= Euripides, Alcestis 691) he refers to the quotation of the same Euripidean line in Thesmophoriazusae 194 (200 n. 102) and thinks it "may be worth noting" that the names of the speakers in Alcestis and Clouds (Pheres and Pheidippides) begin and end with the same pairs of letters (200 n. 104), but apparently does not think it worth noting that a phrase from the same argument by Pheidippides (1417 δὶς παῖδες οἱ γέροντες) is cited by a scholiast on pseudo-Plato (on Axiochus 367b) as from Clouds I.

As to the response of ancient critics, there is, so far as I can tell, just one passage in the book where any attempt is made to show that any ancient critic's judgement that Aristophanes was the superior of Cratinus and Eupolis was influenced by anything in Wasps or Clouds II. This is on pp. 53–4 where Telò claims to find "remarkable convergences" between Wasps 1450–73 and the first paragraph of the ancient Life of Aristophanes (Aristophanes test. 1.2–5 Kassel–Austin). This paragraph contains a comparison between Aristophanes on the one hand, and Cratinus and Eupolis on the other—but the comparison and the Wasps passage have exactly one word, σεμνότερος (Wasps 1472), in common. It is true that the next sentence of the Life contains the word τρόπος (cf. Wasps 1452), and Telò writes that "according to the Life, Aristophanes profoundly transformed the archaic tropoi characteristic of Cratinus and Eupolis", just as Bdelycleon attempted to transform the τρόποι of Philocleon; but unfortunately the sentence containing τρόπος has nothing to do with Cratinus or Eupolis—it is about Aristophanes' supposed pioneering of the τρόπος of New Comedy in the 380s, long after they were dead. And that is all. Telò has not produced the slightest actual evidence that Aristophanes' alleged self-promotion at the expense of these two rivals exercised a significant, much less a determinative, influence on ancient critical assessments of their relative merits—or even that they so much as noticed an implicit disparagement of Cratinus in Wasps (in which Cratinus is never mentioned).2

What of the actual arguments by which Telò attempts to establish the existence of the themes of the "healing son", the "cloak of comedy", and the pervasive polemic against Cratinus and Eupolis? In chapter 2, section 2 (pp. 31–42), the argument begins from Wasps 1037–42, in the parabasis, which refers to an occasion "last year" (i.e. in 423) when Aristophanes confronted the "shivers and fevers that by night choked fathers and strangled grandfathers". In the scene following the parabasis (1122–56), Bdelycleon gives his father a warm cloak, and according to some Hippocratic texts this is "the final stage . . . in a therapeutic strategy for fighting various kinds of fevers" (p. 37). This demonstrates an intratextual link between the two passages, and hence between the cloak scene and the comedy of "last year", namely Clouds.

One hardly knows where to begin in deconstructing this argument. The persons who in Wasps 1037–42 are metaphorically described as "shivers and fevers" are said (1041) to have "glued together affidavits, summonses, and depositions"; in other words, they are prosecutors—or, as their opponents would call them, sykophants. And sykophancy is not a topic of Clouds, not even a secondary one, and it is hard to see how it ever can have been (Telò might, of course, attempt to show otherwise, but, as already noted, he disclaims all interest in the actual content of Clouds I). The passage is therefore likely to refer to another play produced in 423, presumably at the Lenaea.3 Nothing is said about fevers in the cloak scene, nor is Philocleon described as currently suffering from one, though the chorus once wrongly speculates (284) that he might be; he is, to be sure, liable to fevers from time to time (cf. 813), but the therapy prescribed in the Hippocratic treatises is curative, not prophylactic, and the patient is first to be bathed and anointed, which is not done to Philocleon. The connection between the cloak scene and 1037–42 is said to be "signaled" (p. 35), inter alia, by the appearance of the verb ἀποπνίγειν in both passages (1039, 1134); but if this is to be taken as a signal, it is a remarkably muddled one, since in 1039 it is the "shivers and fevers" that are said to exert a suffocating force, whereas in 1134 it is the allegedly antipyretic cloak.

Philocleon, when offered the warm cloak, says he would prefer to keep his old τρίβων, and Telò claims (p. 41) that the latter "functions as a material representation of Cratinean comedy". This equation is established (pp. 42–3) with the help of a passage from Lysistrata (278–80) associating the τρίβων with bodily dirtiness; this although not one passage is cited that describes Cratinus as dirty or unwashed, while the Lysistrata passage refers to a Spartan, and dirtiness was part of the Athenians' stereotype image of a Spartan (Birds 1281–2). Just previously, we had been told (p. 42) that "the bodily freedom and exposure to the external elements caused by the tribōn could be thought to entail a regression to an unmediated relationship with nature in its most primitive and unsettling manifestations, as embodied by Polyphemus" (no evidence is offered, except that the Cynics, some generations later, both wore the τρίβων and sometimes claimed a spiritual kinship with the Cyclops), and that Cratinus in Odyssês "suggested an assimilation of his comic persona to the Cyclops". This last remarkable claim is backed only by references to two earlier articles by Telò4; consulting these, we find that the "evidence" for this assimilation consists in the facts that (a) the chorus of Cratinus' Archilochoi (not Odyssês) refer to fish sauce and the barking of dogs (Cratinus fr. 6), and the Cyclops also refers to fish sauce (fr. 150) and is allegedly equated with Scylla, whom Homer describes as barking, and (b) that Cratinus casts himself as an Archilochean satirist, so that a chorus of "Archilochoi" can be taken to speak for him. With such evidence, and such methods of argument—which recur throughout the book—one could "prove" just about anything.

As to the style and intelligibility of the book, the following passage (p. 40) is unfortunately far from unique:

What makes [the cloak] an emblem of Aristophanes' comic fashion is not the dramatic product per se, its refined manufacture, as it were, but its relational vitality, which its materiality and sensory force bring about. Bdelycleon's chlaina is, in fact, meant to recapture the original affective energy of an archived performance, paradoxically fixing such ephemeral energy in a durable object.

This from an author who in his preface (p. xi) reserves his highest praise for the person who "taught me how to write in English, reinforcing for me the value of clear prose, free from flowery embellishments and jargon"!

My overall verdict on this book will now, I trust, be sufficiently apparent.


1.   K. J. Dover, Aristophanes: Clouds (Oxford, 1968) lxxx–cxviii. Issues regarding the revision have subsequently been further discussed by, for example, A.H. Sommerstein in M. Menu and P. Thiercy (eds.), Aristophane: la langue, la scène, la cité (Bari, 1997) 269–82; A. Casanova, Prometheus 26 (2000) 19–34; and M. Sonnino, SemRom 8 (2005) 205–32 (none of these articles appears in Telò's 25-page bibliography).
2.   By contrast, as the scholia show, they did perceive (rightly or wrongly) an implicit disparagement of Eupolis in Wasps 1023–5 (and Peace 762–3) where the chorus claim that Aristophanes did not exploit his fame and popularity by cruising the wrestling-schools trying to pick up boys.
3.   See now Z. P. Biles and S. D. Olson, Aristophanes: Wasps (Oxford, 2015) 390–2. The play is usually identified as Holkades, but the evidence for this is inconclusive.
4.   In Ramus 43 (2014) 25–44 and Arethusa 47 (2014) 303–20.

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