Monday, July 24, 2017


Valentino Gasparini (ed.), Vestigia: miscellanea di studi storico-religiosi in onore di Filippo Coarelli nel suo 80° anniversario. Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge, 55. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016. Pp. 786. ISBN 9783515107471. €94.00.

Reviewed by L. Bouke van der Meer, Leiden University (

Version at BMCR home site

This Festschrift, called Vestigia ('Footprints'), is dedicated to Filippo Coarelli, professor emeritus of the Università degli Studi di Perugia, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. It contains 52 contributions mostly on Roman religion, often with a diachronic approach, and the themes involve one of Coarelli's main fields of interest. Each paper has its own footnotes and bibliography. The book starts with a short introduction by the editor with a very concise summary of the contents, a tabula gratulatoria, a list of abbreviations, and Coarelli's bibliography of 453 publications including 63 books among which are many famous ones on Rome, published between 1961 and 2015.

In Part I (Religion and landscape archaeology), G. Battaglini surveys the ancient salinae along Italy's coast and relates the Hercules cult on the forum Boarium at Rome to the salt trade in the proto-historical period. S. Sisani derives the juridical-sacred concept of pomerium from *po-smer- ('external boundary') instead of post moerium ('behind/within the city wall') and reconstructs the boundaries of Rome. F. Diosono dates the base of the temple of Portunus, god of gates and harbours, near the Tiber at Rome to the sixth century BC. M. Cébeillac-Gervasoni suggests from circumstantial evidence that Neptunus' relation with volcanic activities (carbon gas emanations) in the (formerly Etruscan) area to the north of the Tiber, near Fiumicino, and in Lake Albano played a role in Rome's siege of Veii. Her hypothesis is based on an inscription from the former region, dated to AD 135, that mentions a dedication to Neptunus by the conductores Salinarum Romanarum. P. Braconi presumes that the life cycle of a Tiber fish, the twaite shad (Alosa fallax), played a role during the ludi Piscatorii of 7 June and the Volcanalia of 23 August, two holidays which Festus mentions together. G. Ghini focuses on Diana's lucus at Nemi, suggesting that a quadrangular structure (ca. 100 BC) on the middle terrace of her sanctuary, contained a sacred branch (known as Frazer's golden bough), a sacred tree, a larch (larix, as visible on denarii of P. Accoleius Lariscolus) or a beech. S. Gatti presents many new data on cult places in the regions of the Hernici and the Volsci, in Latium. It appears that votive deposits in or near springs and other waters can rarely be attributed to specific deities. T. Leggio explains how territorial strategies in the early Middle Ages led to the transfer of the cult of san Vittorino from Amiternum to Cotilia, the former but almost disappeared Roman vicus Aquae Cutiliae in the Sabine region. It was thought that the saint died from inhaling the gas of the local sulphurous waters.

In Part II (Times and spaces of the sacred), E. Greco argues that the sanctuaries of Apollo and Aphrodite form the western boundary of the chora of Athens. M. Maiuro presents a short reflection on the 'Numan calendar' and the feriae conceptivae ('movable feasts') in early Rome. In his view, the calendar was created before ca. 600 BC (p. 178). Usually it is dated to the sixth century BC. R. Esteve Tébar explains the Etruscan origin of the cult of Ceres on the estate of the villa of Pliny the Younger in Tuscis (Colle Plinio) at San Giustino (Perugia). He associates the Ides of September, when a market near her temple was held, with Celi, the Etruscan name of September, that derives from Cel, goddess of the earth. J. Scheid, following H. Versnel, argues that the concepts lustrum and lustratio refer rather to expiation than to purification. M.R. Picuti informs us about a temple with two cellae in the region of Foligno, that was possibly dedicated to a male and a female Pales. O. de Cazanove analyzes the use of a monumental altar for the goddess Mefitis in Rossano di Vaglia in Lucania. P. Gros informs us about the sacred meaning of white marble in Rome, and M.H. Crawford about the late ancient prohibitions of nocturnal reunions which would go back to the archaic period as may be deduced from the Laws of the Twelve Tables.

In Part III (Cult Agents) most papers focus on the third and second centuries BC. M. Torelli deals with the iconography of a statue of Aphrodite leaning on a pillar, called the 'Tiepolo type,' hypothesizing that she was worshiped as a Trojan Venus by the gens Aemilia. L. Pedroni shows that apices on the images of denarii of T. Quinctius Flamininus, Fabius Pictor and L. Postumius Albinus (131-126 BC) refer to frequent power struggles between pontifices maximi and flamines. H. Uroz Rodríges and J. Uroz Sáez demonstrate the connection between Iberian elites and religious representations on pottery. F. Zevi explains the role of Marius and merchants in the introduction of the cult of Honos in Puteoli. L. Capogrossi Colognesi deals with pontifices maximi and curiae, A. Dubourdieu with augures as interpreters of Iuppiter by watching birds, and C. Pavolini with hymn singers of Cybele on the Palatine. D. Nonnis focuses on terracotta votives with inscription from Cales and other places, while S. Panciera concentrates on middle-republican, fragmentary inscriptions dedicated to Aesculapius, Jupiter, and Diana. J. Mangas sheds light on the role of women, liberi and slaves as worshippers of Mars in Hispania. C. Gonzáles Román focuses on religion, for example the assimilation of the indigenous deity Netón with Mars, and Isiac iconography in Guadix (Granada). R. Rubio Rivera looks at Mithraism in Umbria, and H. Solin reads Silvani clientis instead of Silvani pollentis in a votive inscription from Rome, now in Urbino (CIL VI 647). W.V. Harris reflects on the religious mentality of soldiers who participated in the battles of Saxa Rubra (AD 312) and Frigidus (AD 394).

In Part IV (Portraits of Iuppiter), L. Agostiniani explains forms of the Etruscan name for Zeus like tin(i)a and tins, deriving them from tin-, tinia being a nominative and tins a genitive.1 E. Jarva identifies the famous bronze statue from the Cape Artemision wreck as Zeus, rejecting the Poseidon interpretation. The idea is not new. A. Celani holds that a second century BC marble head from Terracina belonged to an over-life-size statue of Iuppiter Anxur, and I. Bragantini argues that an exceptional painting with Iuppiter, Amor and eagle from (the Basilica of?) Herculaneum (now in Naples) hints at the god's relation with Alcestis. A Greek painting in or from Southern Italy may have been used as model.

In Part V (Iconography and religious preferences), E. Lo Sardo comments on representations of heavenly constellations in Egypt and the Greek world, such as an incised one on an eighth century BC Euboian shard from Ischia. A. Polosa shows that deities on coins of Sybaris and Thurii did not necessarily have local cults. M. Clavel-Lévêque pays attention to terracotta votive statuettes from Roman Gaul and syncretism, F. Marcatilli to statues of Marsyas with raised right hand in connection with the taking of oaths, and V. Gasparini to the meaning of marble and bronze votive ears from Isiac cult places. L. Abbondanza looks for the original context of two marble wings (probably of one statue of Victoria) from the Palatine. G. Sauron focuses on paintings in two parts of Augustus' residence, in the 'Room of the Masks' in the 'House of Augustus' and in the 'triclinium' of the 'House of Livia' on the Palatine, each showing a baetylus, in the latter context with three torch bearing Diana statuettes on a curved wall, in order to reconstruct the worship of Apollo and Diana by Augustus and Livia in 36 BC. In my view, the so-called Pompeian second style paintings cannot be dated with certainty before or to that date. E.M. Steinby demonstrates the importance of 'speaking' and 'non-speaking' stamps showing deities on dolia for the identification of owners and the contractors of figlinae. A.M. Poveda Navarro explains why Hercules and Christ in late antique Spain assimilated: both were regarded as sufferers and saviours.

In Part VI (Funerary practices), M. Nafissi deals with the transfer of Tisamenos' bones to the sanctuary of the Moirai at Sparta in the sixth century BC that may imitate the (contemporary?) one of Orestes' bones. T. Mavrojannis holds that the recently discovered but not yet fully published 'Great Tumulus' (ca. 325-300 BC) at Amphipolis functioned as the heroon of Alexander's general Hephaistion who died at Babylon in 320 BC. L. Alapont Martín analyses two fourth century BC grave goods of Samnite warriors in Alife (ancient Allifae), thus reconstructing funerary rites among which the os resectum ('cut bone'). P. Vitti presents a new reconstruction of the Mausoleum of Hadrian at Rome, and V. Tsiolis explains why Hadrian promoted the cult of Antinoos in Mantineia where he was said to been born.

In Part VII (The reception of antiquity. The myth and the sacred), E. De Albentiis sheds light on the change of place names into ancient, sometimes 'presumed' sacred ones, after Italy's unification and during the fascist period. A. Tinterri shows how Igor Strawinsky and Alberto Savinio transformed the content of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in their operas. L. Romagnoli and G. Batacchioni present reconstructions of temples in Villa S. Silvestro at Cascia, the Sanctuary of Hercules Victor at Tivoli, and highlight the importance of 'musealisation' in Diana's sanctuary at Nemi. A. Schnapp explains why visitors and Arab poetry during the Abassid empire paid respectful attention to Sassanian and other ancient ruins. The visitors left their name on monumental remains in order to be remembered but, fortunately, did not destroy them because of their glorious past.

Then follows an index locorum and an analytical index.

Some papers give incomplete or wrong information. The circus at Anagni, meeting place of the nomen Hernicum (p. 134), was called maritimus (Livy 9.2. 6-11), a strange adjective since the form of the travertine building from the fifth or fourth century BC is round. Should we read Maricinus, adjective of the goddess Marica? The Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis does not mention Cel Ati (p. 193), nor tinś in marle (pp. 461, 464) but tinś in śarle (LL VI 14).2

The book is impeccably edited, with very few typos.3 The editor makes cross-references, though not exhaustively. The analytical index is reliable but entries such as assimilation, syncretism, memory, etc. are missing. As most papers do not offer translations of Greek and Roman words and texts, the book is less accessible to non-classicists. The many black-and-white maps and photos in the text are sharp. However, fig. 3 on p. 103 is useless since the dots are without colour; fig. 2 and its captions on p. 135 are too small. Since the papers are written in four languages, most of them in Italian, it is regrettable that abstracts or conclusions in English are missing.

To conclude, this is a book of high standards. Because it contains many new data and hypotheses, no doubt it will become a source of inspiration for archaeologists, ancient historians, and, last but not least, for scholars and students of ancient religions. Coarelli may be proud of his pupils, friends and colleagues.


1.   For tis (from tins), see now F. Colonna, Notarella ceretana, Studi Etruschi 78, 2015 (2016), 97- 113.
2.   V. Belfiore, Il liber linteus di Zagrabia. Pisa-Roma 2010, 138; reviewer, Liber linteus zagrabiensis. Louvain-Dudley 2007, 108.
3.   Typos are: fainomai (p. 120) > phainomai ; Tinia velηumna (p. 196) > *veltumna (which never occurs as an adjective of Tinia); basement (p. 482) > base, platform; Faistos (p. 486) > Phaistos; Ralf > Rolf (p. 595); lekythos aryba-llica (p. 670) > arybal-lico.

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