Thursday, November 16, 2017


Henrik Mouritsen, Politics in the Roman Republic. Key themes in ancient history. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. xii, 202. ISBN 9781107651333. $23.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Jonathan Zarecki, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (

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If his goal was to produce an "original and readable book" that would be "important for all students and scholars of Roman history and of politics in general", as the back-cover copy claims, then Henrik Mouritsen has succeeded. In this slim, 172-page entry in the Key Themes in Ancient History series from Cambridge University Press, Mouritsen not only engages with the giants in Roman political history but challenges them, and the status quo of scholarship on the Roman Republic, while lucidly offering a vibrant reading of populism, republicanism, and political legitimacy in the Roman world that will give any readers with an interest in the subject much to ponder.

Following a brief introduction that highlights the pitfalls inherent in studying the Roman political system, such as the Romans' own multifaceted definition of the res publica and the characteristic dichotomy between constitutional theory and political practice, the first chapter, "Senatus Populusque Romanus: Institutions and Practices," begins with Polybius, whom Mouritsen acknowledges as integral to any study of Roman politics. Polybius, he argues, is a critical source not only because of his contemporary description of the Roman government, but because his parceling out of power among various offices has had a profound influence on the study of Roman politics, though, as Mouritsen will argue in Ch. 3, Polybius was wrong about many features of the Roman constitution, particularly his identification of democratic elements. After a brief discussion of Cicero's De re publica, Mouritsen turns to the function of the comitia. He argues that there was a fundamental paradox embedded in the Roman political system: the people had unlimited power in theory, but virtually no way in practice of expressing that power. Yet, despite the de facto, if not de iure, impotence of the assemblies, Mouritsen argues that the assemblies were a critical component of both the ceremony and the long-term legitimacy of the Roman state. He notes that "there is no evidence that Roman elections…were ever driven by programmes or policies that turned them into political events in a modern sense" (43-4). Rather, the assemblies were a "essential" component of the "symbolic construction of the Roman state as a community of free citizens" (50), and the sole conferees of legitimacy, albeit legitimacy not derived from any sort of democratic ideals.

The second chapter, "Leaders and Masses in the Roman Republic," bears a title similar to that of the honorary volume dedicated to Zvi Yavetz edited by Malkin and Rubinsohn, but draws more heavily from Mouritsen's earlier work on plebs and politics. Mouritsen takes care to highlight the significant impact that recent scholarship into symbolic features of civic inclusion has had on the study of Roman politics, seeing as how the Roman assemblies had very limited participation and very rarely rejected the proposals put in front of them. A discussion of how the physical places used for political activities force a reevaluation of the number of citizens that would be able to participate in contiones and voting processes leads to the conclusion that the comitia functioned purely as the bestowers of legitimacy, and only symbolic legitimacy at that; the populus itself was "a vital but essentially passive source of public legitimacy" (61). The discussion of the symbolic nature of the assemblies is followed by a provocative argument about the role of contiones. Mouritsen takes issue with the attempt to find in contiones an expression of popular sovereignty, which he describes as "a new 'orthodoxy'" (62). He quickly dismantles any notion that these public meetings were "foci of popular power" (64), and suggests that Keith Hopkins' identification of contiones as rituals is more reflective of their actual purpose. Mouritsen argues that it was unimportant who showed up to public meetings, provided only that some representatives of the Roman people made an appearance. Contiones, therefore, were important primarily because of their symbolic, indeed ideological, function. As Polybius had noted, the Roman state was built, at least ideologically, on a partnership between the various social classes. The stability of the Roman state was in large measure a result of this partnership, as the elites were forced to frame their position and success by accepting that their power came from the people.

The third and final chapter, "Consensus and Competition", is the longest of the three chapters, and the most interesting. Here Mouritsen focuses on the social and political factors that contributed to both the initial stabilization and the eventual destabilization of the Republican constitution. Mouritsen begins by deftly outlining the perils of periodization – that is, slicing the period from 509-44 BCE into neat Early, Middle, and Late chunks – before engaging in a long reevaluation of the ubiquitous political terms optimates and populares. Mouritsen, taking his lead from earlier arguments by Christian Meier and Hermann Strasburger, convincingly demolishes any vestiges of ideological definitions for these terms. Mouritsen finds particularly unhelpful attempts to link politicians deemed populares with democratic principles of political institutions. He argues that the terms are polyvalent, and in many ways transpolitical. Mouritsen relies heavily on Sallust and Cicero's Pro Sestio, the locus classicus for any discussion of the two terms, to support his argument. The conflict of the Late Republic becomes, for Mouritsen, "a complex mix of conventional power struggles, personal vendettas and factional strife, with an added element of elite class conflict" (129) rather than any sort of conflict between two distinct groups denoted by the terms populares and optimates. What may be seen as a conflict between these groups was really just divisions among the elites. The people had a deeply-rooted symbolic power, as Mouritsen discussed in the previous chapter, but very rarely did anyone advocate for them on their behalf. Even the tribunes, Mouritsen argues, were not representative of the democratic element, as Polybius suggested, but rather an anomalous feature of the ancestral constitution that ostensibly represented the people's interest but was in reality a tool of the elite. The restoration of the tribunate after Sulla's reforms should therefore be seen not as a restoration of the democratic element but a reaction against what a significant portion of the elites viewed as a Sulla-induced tyranny. Politics, then, insofar as it relied on the symbolic legitimacy conferred by the Roman populus, became a contest of popularity, where popularity was a malleable concept, shaped and reshaped according to the particular needs of the elites in their continual struggle for public honor and dignity. In the end, this struggle led to the creation of "rhetorical strategies" which "could be used to justify open conflict rather than compromise, a development that would have serious consequences for the Roman Republic" (164). Mouritsen concludes the third chapter by stating that the Roman political system worked "on the premise that the bodies which held the power did not exercise it" (166), that Rome "triumphed despite her constitution, because she had found a modus vivendi which neutralised the weaknesses inherent in her political make-up" (166), and that the end of the Republican system was caused by a ruling class that seemed "to lose its collective sense of purpose and instinct of survival, becoming seemingly oblivious to the fundamentals on which its ascendancy depended" (168).

The book ends, however, rather suddenly, with a short discussion of the role of the Social War in the dissolution of the Republic. If this reviewer was left wanting anything at the end of the book, it would have been either a more thorough expansion of this two-page discussion, or a tidier conclusion to match the succinct introduction. That minor quibble aside, however, this book has much to offer students of all stripes. Mouritsen challenges many of the standard interpretations about the role of the people in the Roman constitution. In doing so he spends equal time critically engaging with the secondary and primary sources. Thus, the bibliography is full and multilingual, with no significant omissions for a survey of scholarship on Republican politics. The footnotes are inclusive but not overwhelming, more often expository than argumentative, and useful for tracing the influences on Mouritsen's argument. The book has no production flaws that I noted, save a single omitted conjunction on p. 123.

In short, this book ought to be required reading in any advanced undergraduate or graduate course on the Roman political system, and scholars would do well to add it to their libraries. Mouritsen engages with the major theories and theorists from Mommsen to the present day, and weaves together a coherent and thoroughly modern treatise covering the salient features of Roman political discourse. Of course, everyone may not agree with all of Mouritsen's arguments, but with this book he has created the perfect anti-Carthage: a fertile ground for future growth in the study of the Roman Republic.

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Michael Edward Stewart, The Soldier's Life: Martial Virtues and Manly Romanitas in the Early Byzantine Empire. Romanitas, 1. Leeds: Kismet Press, 2016. Pp. xviii, 385. ISBN 9780995671720. $35.00.

Reviewed by Denis Sullivan, (University of Maryland)

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The author's core argument is that in the Byzantine East "from the fourth to the seventh centuries, conceptualizations of the soldier's life and the ideal of manly life were often the same" (p. 8). He argues in Chapter 1, "Introduction," against what he sees as the reigning view that Christian concepts of "extreme ascetic virtues and pacifism had superseded militarism and courage as the dominant component of hegemonic masculine ideology" (p. 8). Chapter 2, "The Study of Men as a Gender," cites Foucault's view that "masculine ideology formed the core of Greek and Roman morality" as central to the approach of this book. Stewart notes the difficulty of getting beyond the stylized images of "men" found in literary sources, but contends that the latter provide "a 'public' view of ideal manly conduct," while "the private world of early Byzantine men remains mostly hidden" (p. 24). He concludes with a discussion of Mathew Kuefler's The Manly Eunuch: Masculinity, Gender Ambiguity and Christian Ideology in Late Antiquity as the "springboard" for his own work, seeking to see if Kuefler's contention of the rise of a new Christian ideology of masculinity in the West in the fourth and fifth centuries can be applied in the East.

Chapter 3, "Vita Militaris: The Soldier's Life," asserts that Christians and non-Christians alike admired the distinguishing characteristics of the Roman soldier: "physical and spiritual strength, bodily perfection, courage, prudence, discipline, self- mastery, unselfishness, and camaraderie" (p. 45, no source for the list is provided). The author sees a prevailing scholarly view of a demilitarization of the Roman citizenry and barbarization of the army in the second and particularly third centuries, but argues that this is overstated and that barbarization actually declined in the subsequent centuries, citing "the most recent statistical analysis"1 for "less than a third" of non-Romans in command positions in the fourth-fifth centuries, and less than 20% in the army as a whole after the fifth century (p. 51); also, military service remained respected and emperors' relatives and loyal subjects held military command positions. Stewart likewise argues that "links between masculinity, military virtues, and the emperor's divine right to rule" formed a significant part of imperial imagery (p. 61). He disputes Kuefler's claim that late Roman men saw barbarians as "manlier than the Romans," noting that the late Roman armies "continued to hold a distinct advantage in direct confrontations with their foes" (p. 88).

Chapter 4, "The Manly Emperor: Conceptualizations of Manliness, Courage, and Ideal Leadership at the Opening of the Fifth Century," examines the seeming paradox of supposedly increasing demilitarization of Roman leadership and contemporary images of martial prowess disseminated by fifth-century Roman emperors. The author finds secular historians of the period attributing the disaster of Adrianople to failure of manliness, while ecclesiastical historians attributed it to a failure to follow correct Christian belief. He explores the secular historians Ammianus and Eunapius, noting in Ammianus' narrative an initial warning of the dangers of the "effeminate life" which is attributed to many members of the upper class, making recovery from such a defeat much more difficult than in the Roman past. Yet Stewart finds in recent scholarship a rejection of the sweeping view expressed by Ammianus and suggests that while the historian had significant resentment against specific individuals, his expressed sentiments were due more to "traditional perceptions" of Roman manliness, and that he otherwise "provides his reader with a largely positive view" (p. 105) of Roman elites and emperors. The author finds in Eunapius' negative perceptions of imperial leadership, with its conciliatory and, in Stewart's view, "realistic" foreign policy, "prejudicial gendered rhetoric" and reliance on "older military realities" (p. 105). The one emperor who was portrayed as the exception is Julian. Arguing against the view that the positive attitude of Ammianus and Eunapius toward Julian was the result of pagan prejudice, Stewart finds that their portraits of Julian contain little about his religious policies, but rather focus on Julian's philosophically based self-control and military prowess. On this reading, these idealized portraits of Julian served as a corrective to a "subsequent series of feeble, unwarlike and unmanly emperors" (p. 129).

In chapter 5, "The Wars Most Peaceful: Militarism, Piety, and Constructions of Christian Manliness in the Theodosian Age," the author asserts that while modern scholarship finds that early Christian intellectuals "cleverly inverted dominant Greco-Roman masculinities," these studies overstate "the impact as well as the innovative nature of Christian masculine ideology of the era" (pp. 134-135). He contends that in the fifth century, warfare and martial courage in battle continued to be an essential aspect of masculinity. The "masculinity" of the disciplined self-denial of ascetics such as St. Antony is seen as similar to the approaches taken by the demilitarized Roman aristocracy. But such self-denial was, Stewart argues, not as widely accepted and practiced among Christian men of the period as some scholars suggest. The security of the empire still required and evoked even from Christian theologians a respect for martial virtues.

Chapter 6, "Representations of Power and Imperial Manliness in the Age of Theodosius II," explores Byzantine gender ideology in the portrayals of Theodosius II in secular and in ecclesiastical historians. Stewart disputes scholars' finding of a shift from military prowess to conventional Christian qualities, notably piety, in representations of emperors. He counters that religious zeal was already a factor cited to explain Roman military success by the time of Cicero, that piety was already an aspect of imperial propaganda by the time of Constantius II, and that one cannot rely on the analysis of the causes of military success adumbrated by ecclesiastical historians. Noting the period of "child emperors" (367-455) and allowing some move away from imperial martial virtues, he still contends that Theodosius II presented himself as "the face of Roman victory" (p. 180) via equestrian statues, a declaration of victory over the Persians, a military campaign against a western usurper on which he personally accompanied the army as far as Thessalonica, and a reign marked by constant (defensive) warfare. Stewart suggests that the loss of much secular literature of the fifth century and the pietistic view of the ecclesiastical authors allowed later critics to use gendered rhetoric to explain the failures of the fifth century.

Chapter 7, "Emperors and Generals: Pathways to Power in the Age of Leo I," focuses on the militarized reign of Leo I who used "Christian martial and civilized Romanitas" to solidify his right to rule. The author suggests that force and violence were not the sole factors in the rise of martial emperors like Leo I, but also the effective use of propaganda against their enemies. Much of the chapter focuses on the relationship between Leo, self-promoting his orthodox Christianity, as opposed to his mentor and rival the Arian Aspar; Leo's creation of the exkoubitors, the elite palace guard; Leo's accusation of treason and self-indulgence against Aspar's son, and his assassination of Aspar and Aspar's son. Likewise the rivalry in the West between Ricimer and Anthemius is analyzed with the general conclusion that the rise of men such as Leo and Ricimer demonstrates the "importance of a military career" for those seeking to rise to prominence.

Chapter 8, "Contests of Manly Virtue in Procopius' Gothic Wars," promises a focus on Procopius' use of "the field of battle," specifically in Italy, to "comment on the role of courage and manliness" in determining outcomes (p. 248). Much of the chapter in fact deals with Gothic monarchs and the Byzantine military hierarchy and with policy as opposed to battle. Justinian's military campaigns are described with an emphasis on motivations, Theodoric and the Gothic leadership are seen as portrayed by Procopius as acting with "wisdom and manliness," which resulted in just treatment of their Italian subjects. Theodoric's heir Athalaric is portrayed as a debauched failure due to his education in the customs of the barbarians, and Amalasiuntha as a "womanly man," but one dependent on men's support. Her co-ruler Theodahad is unmanly "for allowing his love of learning to thwart his fighting spirit" (p. 278). His successor Vitigis, a celebrated warrior, represents a change toward a style of leadership able to take a long-term and steadfast view of a successful strategy and to strike a balance between rashness and appropriate courage. Stuart now provides specific battle analysis by describing the confrontation of Vitigis and Belisarius at Rome. Belisarius' decision to engage hand-to-hand is seen as a minimizing of his "intellectual prowess," but also as providing a demonstration of Roman martial superiority. After the retreat back to Rome and the dissension among the Italian allies, the intellectual Belisarius now saves the situation by delaying an attack of his archers until the Goth siege engines are well within range. The setback turns Vitigis into an "unmanly man," given to reckless action. The author concludes that, given his subject matter, for Procopius the "manly man" was the soldier and that ethnicity did not determine manliness.

Chapter 9, "Conclusion: Lingering Manly Romanitas in Byzantium," initially employs a passage from Theophylact's History, a debate on how to respond to the Avar invasion of Thrace in 587 (the aggressive approach wins out over the cautious one) to "show that the Roman soldier's life remained linked intimately to masculine ideology" (p. 319), while Heraclius' defeat of the Persians in 628 with the emperor personally leading the army is seen by the poet George of Pisidia as a combination "of God's guidance and his own [Heraclius'] courage." Stewart then considers the Muslim conquests and the "modern consensus" that the subsequent devastating losses convinced the Byzantines that "the hand of God was against them." While conceding some truth to this view, he argues that the resilience of the Byzantines – evidenced technologically (e.g., Greek fire), in the resettlement of Slavs in depopulated sections of Anatolia, and in the initial elements of the eventual theme system – suggests not "apocalyptic paralysis" but practical adaptation. He concludes that "a lingering sense of martial Romanitas offers a further explanation for Byzantine endurance," particularly in contrast to the West, as "the majority of the Eastern elites continued to link their Romanness to the Roman state in Constantinople" (p. 327).

The author's characterization of the "new Christianized masculinity" is fundamental to his critique of it. Certainly post-325 CE, Christianity influenced views of warfare and manliness. Whether modern scholarly discussions of it so strongly exclude the martial element is open to question. For example K. Holum is criticized (p. 175) for using Christian literature regarding the battle of Frigidus "as evidence of this new ideology." Yet Holum continues2 (uncited) with the comment, "Such interpretations of the Frigidus miracle came easily to Christian apologists . . ." This does not suggest Holum's acceptance of the view that military strength was generally considered insignificant, only that pietistic Christian authors promoted that view for their own motives. Also, the discussion of the sources of Byzantine resilience in the seventh century following the Muslim conquests, a subject of extensive research, lacks depth and nuance and the subsequent jump to the eleventh-century historian Michael Attaleiates' appeal to the manly virtues of Republican Rome leaves the claim of continuity unexplored. That said, Stewart does provide a wealth of evidence to support the view that traditional Roman military values remained an essential and important element in early Byzantium.


1.   The source citation for this is at best unclear. The closest following footnote initially cites "CJ, 12.35.17, ed. Kruger" (for Krüger, Codex Iustinianus) – although CJ does not appear in the list of abbreviations or the bibliography – followed by references to works by A. H. M. Jones (1964), P. Southern and K. Dixon (1996), and M. Whitby (1995).
2.   Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1982) 51.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Nico Roymans, Stijn Heeren, Wim de Clerq (ed.), Social Dynamics in the Northwest Frontiers of the Late Roman Empire: Beyond Transformation or Decline. Amsterdam archaeological studies, 26. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016. Pp. 230. ISBN 9789462983601. $124.00.

Reviewed by Eli J. S. Weaverdyck, Universität Freiburg​ (

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[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This volume, the proceedings of a conference held in Tongeren in January 2015, is an attempt to move beyond the dichotomy of decline versus transformation in the study of the northwest provinces in the fourth and fifth centuries. In the introduction, Roymans and Heeren write, "We conclude that both decline and transformation were historical realities. They represent two sides of the same medallion and we propose that the perspectives should not be used as a binary opposition" (p. 7). For their part, the contributors present new archaeological evidence and analysis to elucidate the precise nature of social change in the northwest provinces. The result is much more interesting than a choice of decline, transformation, or both. Instead we see in greater detail the long-term withdrawal of central Roman authority and the various social transformations that occurred in the process.

The volume consists of an introduction (Roymans/Heeren), two essays framing the political-economic and military history of the region (Heather and Brulet respectively), three that focus on specific types of material culture (Roymans, Hunter/Painter, and Van Thienen), and four that focus on a specific geographic area (Vanderhoeven, Heeren, Esmonde Cleary, and Collins). Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review. It should be noted that the case studies centered on a specific type of material also tend to have a regional emphasis. In total, six papers cover Germania Secunda or the Rhine region (Heather, Brulet, Roymans, Van Thienen, Vanderhoeven and Heeren) while Britannia is the subject of only three (Hunter/Painter, Esmonde Cleary, and Collins). The emphasis throughout is on power relations between the Roman state, internal constituents, and external groups. Both the material culture and regional case studies rely heavily on new archaeological data from excavations and national databases.

Heather and Brulet offer a political-economic and military framework for the subsequent contributions. Both treat empire-wide developments with special attention to the Lower Rhine region. Heather employs literary sources to identify four "pressure groups" that influenced imperial decision making: the emperor and his advisors, the commanders of regional comitatenses, landowning elites, and non-Roman groups. After reviewing their aims in the fourth century, he discusses their roles within the crises of the fifth century. Although generally insightful and convincing, one of Heather's arguments about the army is open to question. The Gallic army played a central role in imperial politics at the end of the fourth and beginning of the fifth centuries, but after Constantius III, it was largely quiet. Heather explains this as the result of a massive losses suffered between 395 and 422/3, for which he finds evidence in the Notitia Dignitatum. His interpretation rests on the assumption that Stilicho divided the Roman armies equally between West and East in 395. But Stilicho divided the armies either because he received an order from Arcadius to return the Eastern armies or because the Eastern and Western armies had recently fought each other at the Battle of the Frigidus and could not be controlled as a united force.1 In either case, previous divisions between Eastern and Western units remained relevant and Stilicho was not free to divide the armies as he chose. Nevertheless, reductions in military manpower also appear likely based on the archaeological record as set forth by Brulet. Not only are Late Roman forts smaller than their earlier counterparts, but the lower Rhine in particular was no longer garrisoned by regular units after the late fourth century. Upstream of Xanten, forts were renovated under Constantine III and Jovinus and occupation continued through the first half of the fifth century, but forts downstream of Xanten lack fifth-century finds. When considered alongside the withdrawal from Britain, this constitutes a major reduction in the length of the frontier garrisoned by regular units. Although Heather identifies comitatensis commanders as particularly likely to rebel, the limitanei had provided soldiers to previous usurpers, so a reduction in their number is significant.

Roymans, and Hunter and Painter, focus on non-Roman groups by examining precious metal finds in the Netherlands and Scotland respectively. Metal detecting in the Netherlands has brought to light a huge influx of gold to the region in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, which, Roymans argues, represents diplomatic payments to Frankish warlords in return for military service. In Scotland, silver is much more common than gold. Hunter and Painter analyze Scottish hacksilber hoards to show that the weights of pieces often correspond to Roman standards, meaning the silver was distributed in an economic system dominated by Rome, either as payments to foederati or as diplomatic gifts. Both essays cast interesting light on the question of ethnicity and identity. Roymans argues that gold necklaces of the Velp type were produced within the empire as diplomatic gifts that catered to Germanic tastes. Hunter and Painter show that recognizably Roman silver could survive for over a century rather than being melted down. The silver's Roman identity might have guaranteed its purity, but it might also have advertised the owner's association with the Roman world.

Ethnicity and identity is the main focus of Heeren's contribution. Using theories developed by Burmeister in his studies of European settlers in North America,2 Heeren analyzes the archaeological record of rural settlement in the Lower Rhine region and reaffirms the traditional view that the area was settled by allied, Frankish groups around the turn of the fourth and fifth centuries. Most importantly, Heeren demonstrates that the identity of the immigrants was heavily influenced by their role as warriors for Rome: their leadership claims, articulated through weapons burials, rested on the ability to defend the community, but these burials were often located within older Roman cemeteries; they used old Latin place names and Roman-style glassware while adorning themselves with hybrid Germanic/Roman arm-bands, brooches and hair pins. Taken together, these three essays make a strong case for seeing "barbarian" or "external" groups as integral parts of the Roman world.

Vanderhoeven presents archaeological evidence from Tongeren with an emphasis on the results of recent excavations in the eastern half of the Late Roman city. As a result, his contribution sheds light on local elites within a provincial center. Three early Roman cemeteries continued to be used in the fourth and fifth centuries by a mixed population with Roman and Germanic, military and civic elements. Recent excavations have revealed several wealthy domus and a basilica. The domus can only be dated roughly to the fourth century, but the chronology of the basilica's main building phases—based on radiocarbon dating and coins—mirrors peaks in coin loss throughout the city: it was built in the mid-fourth century and the apse was enlarged in the late fourth or early fifth century. The basilica probably functioned as the episcopal church of the Tungri. It continued in use until it was replaced in the sixth century by a new church. Other areas of the city were abandoned in the second half of the fifth century and the episcopal see moved to Maastricht, but Tongeren clearly remained an important place in local memory. Late Roman Tongeren saw declines in population and access to coinage, transformation in the use of the civic space, and continuity of Roman traditions.

Collins and Esmonde Cleary both examine the process by which Roman state authority declined in northern Britain. Collins argues that, as state institutions collapsed, frontier units gradually transformed into war-bands with local power bases. Esmonde Cleary argues against the war-band transformation model by analyzing distribution maps of metalwork associated with the Roman state. In the last decades of the fourth century, such metalwork is almost entirely absent from the northwest part of the diocese. If Roman units turned into war-bands, one would expect old Roman symbols of power to persist (p. 197). Collins argues that such symbols of power do exist, but are unrecognized because they fall outside the most commonly used typology (p. 212). He argues that the frontier region saw significant local production that was influenced by, but distinct from, continental military styles.

Van Thienen examines one particular symbol of power through a cultural biographical study of the crossbow brooch. By combining archaeological evidence from the Netherlands with iconographic and historical evidence, he traces the dynamic social meanings that these brooches held. The crossbow brooch appears as a distinct type at some point in the second half of the 3rd century, when it is worn by soldiers or low-ranking military officers. Under the first and second tetrarchies, the brooches are linked more closely to the imperial cult and are worn by higher-ranking military officials. In the course of the fourth century, the brooches become much more common and are found increasingly in burial contexts, while more and more of the iconographic depictions are of recognizable individuals, suggesting the brooch played an important part in constructing identity. In the late 4th and early 5th century, under Theodosius especially, crossbow brooches are associated with the highest military and civilian officials: they are frequently depicted on consular diptychs, are worn by people of consular or senatorial rank, and are found at only the largest administrative centers in the northwest provinces. In the second half of the fifth century, the brooches are found outside the empire as well, and in the sixth century, similar brooches are depicted in Justinianic mosaics in church apses. After this, the crossbow brooch falls out of use, though its memory as a symbol of power remains, as evidenced by crude, 7th-century depictions.

This collection of essays hangs together better than most such volumes, helped in no small part by well-established geographic, chronological and thematic areas of interest. A synthesis at the end, drawing together the conclusions of the various case studies and explicating their consequences for our understanding of the end of the Roman Empire in the West, would have been valuable. The volume is attractively produced, with full-color maps and figures, but typographical errors are unfortunately common. In sum, this book makes several important contributions and will appeal not only to those interested in the end of the Roman Empire in the West, but also to anyone interested in complex ethnic identities and material culture.

Table of Contents

Preface (vii)
Nico Roymans and Stijn Heeren. Introduction. New perspectives on the Late Roman Northwest (1)
Late Roman State and Military Organization
Peter Heather. The Late Roman imperial centre and its northwest frontier (11)
Raymond Brulet. The Roman army and military defence in Northern Gaul and the Germanic provinces during the Late Empire (39)
Power Relations and Material Culture
Nico Roymans. Gold, Germanic foederati and the end of imperial power in the Late Roman North (57)
Fraser Hunter and Kenneth Painter. Hacksilber in the Late Roman and Early Medieval world. Economics, frontier politics and imperial legacies (81)
Vince Van Thienen. A symbol for Late Roman authority revisited. A socio-historical understanding of the crossbow brooch (97)
Regional Case Studies
Alain Vanderhoeven. The Late Roman town of Tongeren in Germania Secunda (127)
Stijn Heeren. From Germania Inferior to Germania Secunda and beyond. A case study of migration, transformation and decline (149)
Simon Esmonde Cleary. Roman state involvement in Britain in the later 4th century. An ebbing tide? (179)
Rob Collins. Decline, collapse, or transformation? The case for the northern frontier of Britannia (203)


1.   Claudian, In Rufinum 2.196-220. Peter Heather, Goths and Romans, 332-489 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 202 and Michael Kulikowski, Rome's Gothic Wars: From the Third Century to Alaric (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 166.
2.   Stefan Burmeister, "Archaeology and migration: approaches to an archaeological proof of migration," Current Anthropology 41, no. 4 (August/October 2000): 539-567.

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Maged S. A. Mikhail, The Legacy of Demetrius of Alexandria 189-232 CE: The Form and Function of Hagiography in Late Antique and Islamic Egypt. Routledge studies in the early Christian world. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 216. ISBN 9781138189324. $149.95.

Reviewed by Daniel Vaucher, Universität Bern (

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Maged Mikhail ist Professor für Geschichte an der California State University, Fullerton und der Autor von From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt: Religion, Identity, and Politics after the Arab Conquest (2014). Das vorliegende Buch zum Vermächtnis des Demetrius, Bischofs von Alexandrien von 189-232, knüpft nahtlos an den Vorgänger an. Wenngleich der Autor sich mit der antiken Kirchengeschichte bestens auskennt, so ist das Buch in erster Linie ein Buch zur koptischen und arabischen Literatur Ägyptens.

In Teil I (S. 1-114) behandelt Mikhail die biographische und hagiographische Literatur zu Demetrius, die verschiedenen Redaktionsstufen und -absichten, aber auch Überlieferungsprobleme, in erster Linie die „Form" der Hagiographie zu Demetrius. In Kapitel 9 (S. 108-114), dem eigentlichen Fazit des Buches, wird die „Funktion" dieser Hagiographie und ihrer Entwicklung nachgezeichnet. Teil II (S. 115-184) bringt alle relevanten Quellen, die bislang schwer zugänglich waren, in englischer Übersetzung mit Kommentar. Wohl dem Format geschuldet ist das Fehlen der Originaltexte. Diese sind, wie Mikhail betont, ebenfalls bisweilen verstreut und kaum kritisch ediert. Die hier gelieferten Übersetzungen sind daher als Hilfen für den Leser zu verstehen, und nicht etwa als Grundlage für weitere Forschung – diese müsste erst mit grundlegender Editionsarbeit beginnen. Das Buch endet mit der Bibliographie und einem Sach-/Namensregister (S. 185-215).

Das erste Kapitel gibt deutlich das Grundproblem und damit das Programm für The Legacy of Demetrius vor: Entgegen der äusserst geringen Bedeutung des Demetrius in der patristischen Literatur (und der Forschung) genoss der Bischof eine gewaltige Popularität bei den ägyptischen Christen ab dem 9./10. Jahrhundert. Mikhail verfolgt mit der Analyse des literarischen Dossiers von der Antike bis zur arabischen Literatur vier Ziele (S. 5 f.): erstens die historische Persönlichkeit des Demetrius zu umreissen; zweitens die Entwicklungen im literarischen Dossier nachzuzeichnen; drittens diese Entwicklungen im Zuge der Identitätsbildung vom 11. bis 14. Jahrhundert zu verstehen; viertens diese Veränderungen als apologetische Mittel in konfessionellen Rivalitäten zwischen Kopten und Melkiten zu interpretieren. Damit nimmt Mikhail sein Fazit vorweg. Die untersuchten Texte sind weniger zur historischen Figur Demetrius von Bedeutung, sondern als Spiegel für die Gemeinden und Kreise, in denen die Texte redigiert, kompiliert oder korrigiert wurden.

Auf dieser Grundlage sind die Quellen ins Auge zu fassen, die der Autor ab Kap. 2 ausführlich bespricht. Die früheste patristische Tradition in Griechisch bzw. Latein ist sehr spärlich (Euseb, Hieronymus, später Photius). Demetrius ist hier trotz seiner langen Amtszeit als alexandrinischer Bischof und seiner Rolle im Streit um Origenes kaum von Bedeutung. Selbst sein Vorgehen gegen Origenes hat sich kaum in den Quellen niedergeschlagen, und seine Briefe sind verloren.1 Von Bedeutung ist Demetrius erst in einem anonymen, koptischen Encomion (EncDem), das Mikhail entgegen der früheren Forschung, die darin eine spätantike Quelle sah, anhand literarischer Motive ins 10. Jahrhundert datiert (S. 32 ff.). Nach dieser zweiten Redaktionsphase unterscheidet Mikhail weiter eine dritte „frühe arabische" Phase mit der Alexandrinischen Patriarchengeschichte2 (HP) sowie eine vierte „späte arabische / bohairische" Phase. Immer wieder betont der Autor, wie Textbausteine kompiliert und umgeschrieben werden und so verschiedene Redaktionsstufen durchlaufen. Beispielsweise liegt dem EncDem Eusebs Kirchengeschichte zugrunde – in einer radikalen Umschreibung – und der HP unter anderem EncDem und Euseb selbst.3 Mikhail bezeichnet dieses Phänomen als „living texts" (S. 69)4 – ein Phänomen, das an der Basis seines Buches steht.

Von grosser Bedeutung für Mikhails Argumentation ist weiter, das koptische EncDem und die arabische HP nicht als Biographie, sondern als Hagiographie zu verstehen. Der Autor bespricht zwar mögliche historische Wurzeln, arbeitet aber vielmehr die Topoi heraus, die EncDem und HP kennzeichnen und mit der Figur des Origenes in Eusebs Kirchengeschichte verbinden: namentlich das Martyrium, die sexuelle Enthaltsamkeit und die Gelehrsamkeit. Die Texte seien anhand dieser Motive deutlich als Apologie für Demetrius zu lesen, die mit den Topoi aus Eusebs Kirchengeschichte versehen wird. EncDem und HP würden mit ihren Vorlagen spielen, sie aber gezielt umschreiben, um Origenes' Gegenspieler Demetrius in ein gutes Licht zu rücken. Die Analyse der drei Motive, die an der Basis von Mikhails Argumentation stehen, bleibt dabei leider etwas knapp: Das Martyrium wird Demetrius auch in der Hagiographie verwehrt, er erleidet gerademal den Exiltod; die Gelehrsamkeit ist in EncDem noch nicht thematisiert, erst in HP wird aus einem scheinbar ungebildeten und analphabetischen Bauern durch ein himmlisches Wunder ein Gelehrter; und die sexuelle Enthaltsamkeit (im Fall des Demetrius eine keusche Ehe) wird als Zeichen für Selbstkontrolle und Askese aufgefasst. Dabei wird der Themenkomplex der Askese nicht weiter ausgeführt und nur auf die sexuelle Enthaltsamkeit reduziert („he is every bit the ascetic Origen was – even greater.", S. 64. Hingegen wird die „rigorous askesis" des Origenes, S. 62, eben nicht nur darauf reduziert). Mikhails These, EncDem und HP seien hier als „apologetic counternarratives" zu lesen, ist anregend und durchaus plausibel, hätte aber noch einer gründlicheren Beweisführung bedurft.

Diese Knappheit in der Beweisführung zeigt sich auch an anderen Stellen, so beispielsweise im Schlusskapitel. Mikhail spricht sich gegen vereinfachende Kategorisierungen aus wie schismatische „Egyptian natives" (Kopten) vs. „authentische Byzantiner" (Melkiten). Die Kategorien seien viel flüssiger und weniger scharf getrennt: „The Melkites were every bit as „Egyptian" as the Copts (…) The schism was largely theological, not „ethnic" or political." (S. 109). Diese Überlegungen werden durch einzelne Aspekte des Buches beleuchtet, beispielsweise durch die verschiedenen Fastenpraktiken (Kap. 8); in den Anmerkungen findet man aber schlicht den Verweis auf Mikhails letzte Monographie.5 Damit wird für die Lektüre von The Legacy of Demetrius vieles verkürzt oder vorausgesetzt, was für den Leser, der nicht beide Monographien parallel lesen will, weiter hätte ausgeführt werden dürfen.

Dennoch sind Mikhails Analyse und Fazit schlüssig: nach dem in Chalkedon 451 hervorgerufenen Schisma wurden die Patriarchen zu „Identitätsmarkern" und „confessional symbols" in Bekenntnisfragen. Unter islamischer Herrschaft wurden sie gleichzeitig die weltlichen Führer der religiösen Minderheiten. Daher stamme der Fokus der ägyptischen Literatur auf die Patriarchen, angefangen im 5. Jh. mit der HEpA. Eine konstruierte Verbindungslinie der eigenen Konfession zu früheren Patriarchen konnte möglicherweise deviante Praktiken (bsp. Kap. 8: Fastenpraktiken) legitimieren. Dabei boten sich Alexandriens Bischöfe aus vor-chalkedonischer Zeit umso eher an, insbesondere weil zu Demetrius aus patristischer Zeit nicht mehr viel bekannt war. Demetrius war wie ein leeres Gefäss, das aufgefüllt werden konnte, um der eigenen Konfession eine Identität und vermeintliche Orthodoxie zu verleihen. Damit steht fest, dass das literarische Dossier zu Demetrius wenig über dessen Person aussagt. Besser sei es, das hagiographische Dossier als Palimpsest mit verschiedenen Ebenen von Komposition, Redaktion und Widersprüchen zu verstehen.

Aufgrund dieses innovativen Ansatzes und eines souveränen Umgangs mit den Quellen ist Mikhails Buch als sehr gelungen zu bewerten. Seine Dekonstruktion von hagiographischen Legenden und Motiven, gepaart mit seiner Analyse verschiedener Redaktionsstufen, müsste einen neuen Standard für die Erforschung hagiographischer Texte setzen. Dass der Leser am Ende weniger über Demetrius gelernt hat als über den korrekten methodischen Umgang mit der Hagiographie, dürfte ebenfalls als Erfolg gewertet werden. Ein kleiner Wermutstropfen allein ist, dass dabei die Auseinandersetzung mit der Forschung grösstenteils fehlt und Mikhail in erster Linie mit den Quellen selbst arbeitet.6 Diese Kürze ist, wie oben dargelegt, dem ganzen Buch anzukreiden; mit 215 Seiten ist The Legacy of Demetrius nicht gerade zu lang geraten, und vielerorts hätte sich der Rezensent weitere Ausführungen erhofft. Dies spricht aber wiederum für den Inhalt und die hohe Qualität des Buches.


1.   Vgl. A. Harnack, Die Überlieferung und der Bestand der altchristlichen Litteratur bis Eusebius. Leipzig 1893, S. 330-332.
2.   B. T. A. Evetts, History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria, Paris 1904–1915.
3.   Öfters erwähnt Mikhail als mögliche Quelle für den zweiten Teil der HP die Histories of the Church of Alexandria bzw. Histories of the Episcopate of Alexandria (HEpA). Dieser Zusammenhang bleibt leider unausgeführt. Neue Zusammenhänge könnten sich hier aus der Entdeckung und Edition einer äthiopischen Fassung von HEpA ergeben, s. A. Bausi / A. Camplani, The History of the Episcopate of Alexandria (HEpA): Editio minor of the fragments preserved in the Aksumite collection and in the Codex Veronensis LX (58), in: Adamantius 22 (2016), S. 249-302.
4.   Dasselbe Konzept wurde bezüglich der antiken Kirchenordnungen ausführlich besprochen, s. zur „living literature" bsp. P.F. Bradshaw, Ancient Church Orders, Milton Keynes 2015, S. 27 ff.; D. Vaucher, Sklaverei in Norm und Praxis. Die frühchristlichen Kirchenordnungen, Hildesheim 2017, S. 58 ff. (im Druck).
5.   From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt: Religion, Identity, and Politics after the Arab Conquest, London 2014.
6.   Eine Auseinandersetzung mit der Forschung zur Hagiographie fehlt – abgesehen von jener zu Eusebs vermeintlich hagiographischem Programm zu Origenes – völlig; nicht einmal das zentrale Werk von H. Delehaye, Les légéndes hagiographiques, Bruxelles 1906 wird genannt. S. dazu auch T.D. Barnes, Early Christian hagiography and Roman history, Tübingen 2016.

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Fabrizio Slavazzi, Chiara Torre (ed.), Intorno a Tiberio, 1. Archeologia, cultura e letteratura del Principe e della sua epoca. Materia e arte 2. Firenze: All'Insegna del Giglio, 2016. Pp. 137. ISBN 9788878147065. €24.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Edoardo Bianchi, Università di Verona (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Il volume raccoglie gli Atti dell'omonimo Convegno tenutosi presso l'Università degli Studi di Milano nel 2014, in occasione del bimillenario dell'ascesa al potere di Tiberio, e dedicato appunto all'età tiberiana. In tutto, vi si trovano 14 saggi, che spaziano dalla filologia alla filosofia, passando per l'archeologia e la storia politico-sociale con diversi approcci metodologici. Essi sono stati raggruppati dai curatori in due sezioni — "Ritratti" e "Contesti"— dedicate rispettivamente alla ricostruzione di un profilo culturale di Tiberio e all'analisi di aspetti e problemi significativi della sua epoca. Particolarmente interessanti risultano i saggi della prima sezione, il cui obiettivo precipuo sembra quello di restituire piena dignità all'attività culturale di Tiberio e degli uomini legati alla sua corte. Si cerca così di colmare una lacuna negli studi moderni, dove, anche a causa delle testimonianze ostili di Tacito e Svetonio, le opere di età tiberiana sono state per molto tempo trascurate, così da impedire, ad esempio, una puntuale valorizzazione del coevo impiego di fonti e motivi d'ispirazione ellenica, non solo nell'arte ma pure nella letteratura. Il contributo di Carla Castelli si occupa appunto della familiarità che Tiberio aveva con la lingua greca: ne emerge che l'imperatore se ne serviva per la comunicazione di tutti i giorni e addirittura per il suo personale impegno letterario. A Tiberio è attribuita espressamente una predilezione per la poesia greca, e in specie per Euforione, Riano e Partenio; si è anche conservato un epigramma greco a lui riconducibile (AP 9.387), di cui Castelli offre un'interpretazione originale. Alle testimonianze in lingua latina sulla cultura di età tiberiana è dedicato invece il saggio di Chiara Torre, che parte da una puntuale analisi della Epistula 88 di Seneca (contenente la nota polemica contro le arti liberali) e di alcuni passaggi svetoniani (incentrati sugli interessi grammaticali di Tiberio) per approdare a una ricostruzione delle tendenze filologiche e filosofiche in voga presso la cerchia di intellettuali vicini all'imperatore.

Una prospettiva artistica e archeologica è prevalente negli altri contributi della sezione, tra cui si distinguono quelli di Matteo Cadario e di Elena Calandra. Il primo studia l'evoluzione della ritrattistica di Tiberio nei cicli statuari giulio-claudi, alla luce delle vicende dinastiche interne alla domus Augusta, per capire come l'imperatore fosse percepito e illustrato dai committenti. Viceversa, il saggio di Calandra, collocato significativamente in apertura del volume, si concentra sulla spettacolare grotta della villa di Sperlonga, dove – secondo le fonti – Tiberio avrebbe tenuto banchetti fino a un drammatico crollo avvenuto nel 26 d.C. L'importanza della grotta risiede nel fatto che essa fu ornata con gruppi statuari ispirati al mito odisseico e inseriti in un contesto simposiale in cui l'elemento acquatico svolgeva un ruolo fondamentale, con un accostamento già conosciuto in età ellenistica (e impiegato soprattutto dai Tolemei). Ora, siccome il banchetto deve essere considerato "un rituale di autorappresentatività politica e culturale", Calandra ritiene che la sua associazione con il mito nella grotta di Sperlonga abbia assunto un preciso significato ideologico. Tiberio, nello specifico, avrebbe voluto autoavvalorare il proprio potere richiamandosi al passato: tuttavia il passato in questione sarebbe stato non quello familiare, legato al nome del padre adottivo Augusto, ma appunto quello mitico legato alla figura di Odisseo, il padre dell'antenato della gens Claudia, Telegono. Ne consegue che Tiberio avrebbe espresso un messaggio di discontinuità rispetto al suo predecessore, sul piano sia personale sia ideologico, sottolineando la sua discendenza dalla gens Claudia ed esplicitando la sua adesione a ideali propri della "monarchia ellenistica".

Tale interpretazione, che tende a sfociare nella dimensione politica, solleva perplessità su cui tornerò alla fine di questa mia nota. Per il momento, intendo concludere la presente rassegna concentrandomi sulla seconda sezione del volume, dove si trovano contributi indaganti fatti e contesti dell'età tiberiana da un punto di vista storico, letterario e archeologico. Il saggio di S. Segenni propone di rileggere in chiave politica il processo per lesa maiestas condotto nel 25 d.C. contro il senatore e storico A. Cremuzio Cordo. Come giustamente viene sottolineato, tale processo fu il primo assoluto ad essere intentato sulla base non di azioni compiute ma di parole solo pronunciate, e dunque può essere visto come il sintomo della difficoltà sempre maggiore incontrata da Tiberio nella gestione del dissenso nei confronti del principato come istituzione. Il contributo di A. Raggi affronta invece un tema apparentemente secondario: la concessione della cittadinanza romana ai membri delle élites della provincia d'Asia. In realtà, si tratta di un aspetto fondamentale della politica tiberiana, anche alla luce del fatto che l'imperatore aveva una conoscenza diretta e profonda del mondo greco-orientale (se non altro per il suo lungo soggiorno a Rodi dal 6 a.C. al 2 d.C.). E' quindi fondamentale sottolineare come Raggi, analizzando la documentazione epigrafica superstite, sia giunto alla non trascurabile conclusione che Tiberio non fu affatto generoso nella concessione della civitas alle élites locali; anzi – a dispetto del filellenismo da lui mostrato in altri ambiti – sembra avere perseguito l'obiettivo categorico di limitarla.

Di rilievo sono i contributi di taglio archeologico dedicati a località dell'Italia che furono specialmente legate a Tiberio e ai suoi familiari o collaboratori, tanto da beneficiare della costruzione o del rifacimento di complessi architettonici di rilievo. Questo è ad esempio il caso analizzato da Fabrizio Pesando, relativo alla città di Alba Fucens: da qui proveniva Q. Nevio Cordo Sutorio Macrone, il successore di Seiano alla guida dei pretoriani, che per testamento fece costruire l'anfiteatro della città. Va però osservato che, in questo contributo, alla puntuale analisi archeologica relativa all'area dell'anfiteatro si accompagna un tentativo di ricostruzione storica del profilo di Macrone che appare meno efficace per via di un vizio di fondo: si dà infatti per scontato che Macrone sia stato l'assassino di Tiberio, quando invece la sua colpevolezza è tutta da dimostrare. Sebbene Tacito e Cassio Dione non esitano a riferire di una diretta responsabilità del prefetto nella morte dell'imperatore, bisogna anche considerare che i due autori scrissero a distanza di parecchio tempo dai fatti narrati (e, tra l'altro, non senza qualche esitazione, se Dione attribuisce a Caligola la vera responsabilità dell'assassinio). Le fonti coeve, invece, come Seneca e Filone d'Alessandria, non accennano mai a una fine cruenta di Tiberio.1 D'altronde, l'imperatore morì nel 37 d.C. all'età di settantanove anni, ciò che non può far trascurare l'eventualità di una sua morte naturale.

Da ultimo, merita di essere considerato da vicino il saggio di Diana Gorostidi, in cui si indaga il rapporto tra Tiberio e la città di Tusculum, dove l'imperatore possedeva una villa. Recenti indagini archeologiche, infatti, hanno messo in luce che la città latina conobbe proprio in età tiberiana un significativo fervore edilizio, specie nell'area forense, da ricondursi con buona probabilità al diretto interessamento dell'imperatore. Secondo Gorostidi, il forte legame di Tiberio con Tusculum era dovuto al fatto che i Tusculani si dicevano discendenti di Telegono figlio di Odisseo, mentre lo stesso imperatore, in quanto membro della gens Claudia, vantava di avere un'analoga ascendenza. Si può qui scorgere un'affinità con la riflessione proposta da Elena Calandra a proposito di Sperlonga, e poggiante in ultima analisi su un'interpretazione avanzata anni addietro da Bernard Andreae, che già riteneva Sperlonga e Tusculum idealmente collegate grazie a Tiberio. 2 Lo studioso, in effetti, ricordava che i Claudii migrati a Roma al seguito di Atta Clausus provenivano da Inregillum (o, secondo altre fonti, da Regillum) e proponeva di vedere in questo toponimo il richiamo al territorio circostante—il più noto Lacus Regillus, luogo della famosa battaglia combattuta nei pressi di Tusculum agli inizi del V secolo a.C. Ne derivava che i Claudii< sarebbero stati originari di Tusculum e, siccome i Tusculani si vantavano di discendere da Telegono, allora anche i Claudii avrebbero celebrato il figlio di Odisseo come loro antenato. Una simile ipotesi è evidentemente allettante, ma si scontra, a un'attenta analisi, con alcune obiezioni difficili da superare. Innanzitutto va rilevato che, secondo le fonti, Atta Clausus proveniva dalla Sabina e non dal Lazio; inoltre, fatta salva la ben documentata tradizione sulla fondazione di Tusculum per opera di Telegono, occorre osservare che solo la famiglia locale dei Mamilii è espressamente celebrata per la sua discendenza dal figlio di Odisseo.

Tutto ciò deve indurre, a mio avviso, a usare molta cautela anche a proposito della valorizzazione dell'appartenenza alla gens Claudia da parte di Tiberio. Infatti, se da una parte non è da escludere che egli andasse fiero di discendere da una delle più antiche gentes dell'Urbe, questo non significa, dall'altra, che abbia voluto esaltare la gens Claudia in funzione anti-giulia, o addirittura in funzione anti-augustea. In altre parole, sarebbe bene non confondere il piano privato della vita dell'imperatore con il piano pubblico della sua condotta politica. In più, bisogna scongiurare che una simile confusione si produca qualora si legga la storia di Tiberio secondo la categoria interpretativa del filellenismo. Tiberio, in effetti, fu un grande amante della cultura ellenica e si circondò sempre di intellettuali greci (anche al tempo del ritiro a Capri), ma questo non comporta che la sua condotta politica abbia pubblicamente assunto connotati filellenici.3 Anzi, un'indagine pur parziale come quella di Andrea Raggi sembra dimostrare esattamente il contrario.

In ogni caso, proprio sul tema del filellenismo di Tiberio, credo che i contributi presenti in questo volume possano costituire un valido stimolo per ulteriori approfondimenti. L'indagare più nel dettaglio se e in che misura i valori della Grecità e dell'Oriente abbiano influito sulle decisioni politiche del secondo imperatore di Roma permetterebbe di aggiornare le posizioni ormai classiche alle quali è ancorata la storiografia moderna sul personaggio, che si rifanno alle insuperate monografie della scuola anglosassone: di Robin Seager, del 1972, e di Barbara Levick, del 1976.4

Table of Contents

Introduzione/ a cura di Fabrizio Slavazzi e Chiara Torre
Sezione I Ritratti
1. Banchettare sull'acqua: Tiberio e gli altri/ Elena Calandra
2. Osservazioni sulla presenza di Tiberio nei cosiddetti cicli statuari imperiali/ Matteo Cadario
3. La Turchese Marlborough: una gemma problematica/ Elisabetta Gagetti
4. Il greco di Tiberio: aspetti linguistici e letterari/ Carla Castelli
5. Tiberio tra filologia e filosofia/ Chiara Torre
Sezione II Contesti
6. Politica e cultura in età tiberiana: il caso di Aulo Cremuzio Cordo/ Simonetta Segenni
7. L'integrazione delle élites cittadine asiane sotto Tiberio: le concessioni di cittadinanza romana/ Andrea Raggi
8. Tiberio a Tusculum: un riesame/ Diana Gorostidi
9. Tiberio e Aquileia. Considerazioni in margine al complesso edilizio dell'ex Fondo Tuzèt/ Fulvia Ciliberto
10. L'assassino di Tiberio/ Fabrizio Pesando
11. Esemplarità e paradosso: un modello repubblicano e la sua (in)attualità imperiale in Velleio Patercolo/ Marco Fucecchi
12. La storia romana negli Astronomica di Manilio: tradizione didascalica e sguardo imperiale/ Elena Merli
13. Callimachismo animale. Istanze letterarie nel Culex e in Fedro/ Sandro La Barbera
14. Tentativi di mediazione con il potere. Ovidio, Germanico e il proemio dei Fasti/ Luciano Landolfi
Indice analitico (autori antichi, personaggi, luoghi geografici e cose notevoli)/ a cura di Daniela Massara.


1.   Per un'analisi delle fonti si veda ad esempio A.A. Barrett, Caligula. The Corruption of Power, London-New York 1989 (20012), p. 41.
2.   Cfr. soprattutto B. Andreae, Praetorium Speluncae. L'antro di Tiberio a Sperlonga ed Ovidio, Soveria Mannelli 1995, pp. 153-157.
3.   Si veda ora l'articolo di S.H. Rutledge, "Tiberius' Philhellenism", in The Classical World 101, 2008, pp. 453-467.
4.   R. Seager, Tiberius, London 1972 (20052); B. Levick, Tiberius the Politician, London 1976 (19992).

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Javier Velaza (ed.), Insularity, Identity and Epigraphy in the Roman World. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017. Pp. 348. ISBN 9781443847049. £64.99.

Reviewed by Randall Souza, Seattle University (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This volume contains a number of papers delivered at an international conference on insularity held at the University of Barcelona in November 2015, along with a few later additions. Its fourteen chapters touch upon islands across the Mediterranean, though with a decided focus on those of the West. The "Roman world" of the title is broad: chronologically, the papers cover a period from Phoenician and Greek settlement of the western Mediterranean to Byzantine rule there, approximately eighth century BCE to eighth century CE.

Velaza raises a number of interesting questions in the half-page Preface, which is unfortunately the only metatext for the book's succession of chapters. He asks: "What was an island in the Ancient world? Did the Greeks and Romans have a concept of insularity that had practical consequences for the political, economic and social life of the Empire? Was being related to an island an externally or internally distinctive feature? Can a tension between insularity and globalization be detected? Is there an insular material culture, an island-based approach to sacredness, or an island-based category of epigraphy?"

I read those words with great enthusiasm and relish, but must report that none of these evocative threads of inquiry are sustained throughout the volume, and many of the contributions do not address any of them. With few exceptions, insularity as a concept remains basically unexplored, and identity is ascribed to various groups in a cavalier manner that does not reflect the work of the past generation. A fuller introduction could have provided a scholarly framework for the papers, communicated some of the fruits of the 2015 conference, or more generally tied the themes, approaches, and evidence of the various contributions to the questions raised in the Preface.

The cursory preface is one of several shortcomings common to edited volumes also present here. Some papers lack a substantive conclusion, or any conclusion at all. Translations into and compositions in English often fail to communicate the nuance required, and there are some errors of typography and production.1 None of these are fatal flaws, but reader beware: you will work to identify and extract the valuable material.

Still, there is value in this book. The contributors represent an impressive range of disciplines from literary analysis to political history, topography, archaeology, iconography, and of course epigraphy. In what follows I review what I consider to be the highlights.

The first chapter, by Attilio Mastino and Raimondo Zucca, serves as an introduction insofar as it does actually if briefly discuss insularity and islands on a broad, theoretical level. Mastino and Zucca reprint Lucien Febvre's "celebre pagina...sovente citata" (4) on the opposition between islands that act as conduits to other peoples or places, and those that prevent such communication (the île-carrefour and the île-prison).2] Yet their sympathy lies with those who reject the dichotomy, Carmine Ampolo and Stephane Gombaud in particular, and they conclude that the insular identity of each island "evolves in relation to the anthropological and natural dynamics that define the historical passage" (5). They review the ancient canon of islands, and the history of islands in the changing boundaries of the Roman provinces. Their discussion of the mosaic map from Haidra, which depicts a number of islands related to the worship of Venus, was exciting but too brief for me. Important questions about the perception of insularity and the historical assimilation of island names with their major settlements go unasked, and this seems like a missed opportunity.

Nikoletta Manioti (Chapter Three) convincingly reads late Republican anxieties about isolation and exile in Roman versions of Ariadne's abandonment on Dia. In Catullus 64 and Ovid's Epistulae 10, Ariadne takes stock of her situation as both deserted (by Theseus) and deserter (of her family), and comes to recognize both her geographical isolation and her social remoteness. Paraphrasing Ep. 10.63-64, Manioti writes that "Ovid's Ariadne...explains that even if she had the means to cross the sea, she would not be welcome on Crete because of a change in her identity brought about by her earlier actions" (57). Manioti argues that these versions of Ariadne articulate the fears of contemporary Roman exiles in a period when exile did not yet actually entail confinement on a nearly empty island. As she puts it, "we can detect in Ariadne's view of her situation a close affinity to the exiled contemporaries of Catullus and Ovid, even if her self-presentation is intentionally blown out of proportion" (65). Manioti makes only passing allusion to Ovid's own exilic experience, but this is a welcome decision as it allows her to develop original ideas about real and imagined island exiles. Her exploration of how physical and social dislocation interact in island settings is stimulating and makes a good case for further work. Alejandro Díaz Fernández (Chapter Four) demonstrates rather conclusively that in Sicily and Sardinia, simple praetorian imperium for provincial governors was the rule rather than the exception. Against a conventional understanding that governors were normally proconsuls, Díaz Fernández conducts a review of the literary and epigraphic evidence for Roman commanders, and finds that "Sicily and Sardinia constitute two representative instances of the malleability of the provincial command developed by the Roman Republic, based on the circumstances and needs of each province and each time and not on a systematised norm or law" (74). The argument is basically sound, but assuming proconsular imperium is no longer conventional; Díaz Fernández himself cites the work of a number of scholars, such as Hurlet, Vervaet, and Ferarry, who had already made this point. Further, neither the epigraphic nor the literary records of Sicily and Sardinia are extensive or certain enough to support a positive claim about the normative status of their governors. Still, this essay is effective in continuing the discussion about improvisation in Roman administration of overseas provinces and in setting the stage for a broader comparative study.

Philippe Tisseyre (Chapter Seven) brings his considerable familiarity with underwater archaeology to bear on the question of trade with and between the Aeolian Islands. A brief topographical and literary tour sets the stage for a review of the many shipwrecks recently discovered and excavated in and near Lipari. These shipwrecks demonstrate among other things that Lipari enjoyed rather close commercial contacts with Campania, at least until conditions both ecological (silting) and economic (competition from other ports) closed them down. At the same time, the Aeolian Islands' relative absence from literary accounts of the fifth and sixth centuries CE can now be countered with good aqua-archaeological evidence for continued habitation and trade.

Marc Mayer Olivé (Chapter Twelve) attempts to get at aspects of insular identity in the Balearic Islands with a three-pronged approach. He first discusses the Roman concept of mare apertum and examines in detail two episodes related to the Baleares that illuminate the duration of the sailing season. Next he looks at the circulation of exotic marble into and through the Baleares, which reveals the islands' place in Roman Mediterranean shipping routes. Finally he discusses mining operations in the islands and the scanty evidence for pottery production there. A lead anchor stock with the inscription "SES" may be the first physical evidence for the shipping operations of the Sestii, a famous Cosan merchant family known from other sources. Ultimately, Mayer Olivé demurs on the question of insular identities in the Baleares, pleading the homogenizing effects of "the process that is conventionally known as 'Romanisation'" (256).

Javier Velaza and Víctor Sabaté (Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen) approach the question of insular identity in the western Mediterranean with a shared focus on epigraphy but rather different styles. Velaza reads a Celtiberian funerary inscription found on Ibiza, an Iberian inscription found in Cagliari, and a series of Latin inscriptions found on Majorca and Minorca as evidence of migrating populations from the Iberian and Italian peninsulae. Sabaté, on the other hand, reviews all the inscriptions identified as Iberian from the Balearic Islands and concludes that since only one of these is unquestionably Iberian, there is no reason to think that there was a significant population of Iberians there. Sabaté's skeptical approach seems more prudent; Velaza is perhaps too ready to see major cultural phenomena in single testimonia, and to explain them by recourse to new populations without addressing the well-established difficulty of proving links between material culture and population makeup. The connections between the islands of the western Mediterranean and the nearby continental coasts are not yet well understood, but these chapters together make a start.

All in all, the volume finds its greatest coherence in this final section on the Balearic Islands. After ten chapters only loosely connected to one another, these final four admirably familiarize the reader with the Greco-Roman history of the Baleares as well as key archaeological and epigraphic finds. In my view, this constitutes the major success of the volume, in addition of course to the accomplishments of certain of the contributions. Beyond that, Velaza has collected a broad range of studies dealing with ancient Mediterranean islands, and while one might well wish for more synthesis, the individual papers may be worth a look.

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Part I. Islands and Identities
1. Identità Insulare (Attilio Mastino – Raimondo Zucca) 3
2. The Islands in Pliny the Elder's Work: nuda nomina (Francisco Oliveira) 25
3. The View from the Island: Isolation, Exile and the Ariadne Myth (Nikoletta Manioti) 45
4. A Survey of the Roman Provincial Command from Republican Epigraphy: The Cases of Sicily and Sardinia (Alejandro Díaz Fernández) 69
5. Commercio e identità culturale: il caso delle cupae (Giulia Baratta) 93
Part II. From the Atlantic to the Aegean
6. The Mediterranean Inclination in the Archaeological and Epigraphical Profile of Tróia (Setúbal, Portugal) (Sílvia Teixeira) 111
7. La navigation antique dans les îles éoliennes: l'apport de l'archéologie sous-marine (Philippe Tisseyre) 129
8. Routes and Landing on the Cilento Coast: Licosa and its Surroundings from Mythical Suggestions to Archaeological Evidence (Salvatore Agizza) 147
9. The Theatrical Panorama of Republican and Imperial Sicily: Language, Identity and Culture (Víctor González Galera) 159
10. The Wine Trade of Roman Crete: Construction of Onomastic and Geographical Networks (Daniel J. Martín-Arroyo – Luce Prignano – Ignacio Morer – Guillem Rull – Manel García-Sánchez – Albert Díaz-Guilera – José Remesal) 177
Part III. A Case Study: The Balearic Islands
11. The Origin and Timespan of the Names for the Archipelagos, the Islands and the Cities of the Balearic and Pityusic Islands (Josep Amengual i Batle) 197
12. Shipping and the Movement of Materials and Products in the Roman Mediterranean, with particular reference to their reflection in the Balearic Islands (Marc Mayer Olivé) 221
13. Insular Epigraphy or Epigraphic Insularity? The Case of the Insulae Baliares (Javier Velaza) 259
14. Some Remarks on the Iberian Inscriptions from the Balearic Islands and Their Bearing on Questions of Identity (Víctor Sabaté) 273
Bibliography 285


1.   E.g. "oppidus" (pp. 33 and 34), "rately recordedin" (p.117), "Tindarys" (p. 139). The maps are nearly unreadable because of low resolution images, and a number of figures are never cited in the text. Chapter Seven contains two images, Fig. 1 and Fig. 3. In Chapter Thirteen, Fig. 3 is not a photo of CIL II 3677 as labeled, but of 3678, which is nowhere discussed in the text.
2.   Oddly, they do not actually give the numbers of those celebrated pages (264-266 in the 1922 edition of La Terre et l'evolution humaine).

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Tanja Itgenshorst, Philippe Le Doze (ed.), La norme sous la république et le Haut-Empire romains: élaboration, diffusion et contournements. Scripta antiqua, 96​. Bordeaux; Pessac: Ausonius Éditions​, 2017. Pp. 681. ISBN 9782356131805. €30.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Christopher Smith, University of St Andrews (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

One major strand in the recent study of the Roman Republican and early imperial period has been the identification of normative social behaviour, the social practices that arise from and recursively construct values within the Roman context. We see this most obviously in work on exemplarity, but it has also influenced the current trend on examining Roman emotions. It underlies much of the most interesting work on explaining the emergence and continuity of aristocratic behaviour within the context of Republican politics. I would argue that it is also the deep substrate beneath the recent boom in studies of memory and memorialization, which often turn out to be arguments for continuity across time of certain expectations, translated into the shared recollection of the past.

To a degree, this interest in normative behaviour at Rome arises from a sense that the Romans both conceptualized the past as instructive and were acutely aware of transgressive behaviour. On the first, the notion of the mos maiorum is a key indicator that what had gone before should to some extent constrain current behaviour, and the use of the concept as a bulwark against change is just one way in which we find the notion of deviance expressed and rejected.

At the same time, historians have been deeply aware of the contingent and constructed notion of norms. The tendency of some scholarship is to demonstrate that the expressed norm was in fact the exception—that mildly corrosive approach which finds in every value statement a concealment of the opposite behaviour, and in every claim for antiquity a signal that the institution or practice was of recent invention. Crudely put, did the Romans ever actually believe in what they said about themselves?

This valuable volume, which includes over thirty essays on everything from elegy to clothing and coinage to senatus consulta, does not quite get to the heart of this conundrum, and stays largely on the side of the normative. As a whole, the collection only occasionally meets the intellectual challenge and spark of the opening essay by Lundgreen and the initial brief. This is because too few of the essays theoretize the concept of the norm that they are using, and thus lay themselves open to the sort of challenge I briefly indicated above. However, all the essays are intelligent and some important—and they point in very interesting directions.

The first part includes two essays on method by Lundgreen and Bruhns that introduce critical concepts of methodology, with especial reference to Max Weber; I will return to this. David Engels offers a lively comparison of normative culture in four imperial contexts—Rome, Han China, Sasanid Iran and the Fatimid Levant. The second section focuses on 'traditions savantes': comedy, elegy, philosophy, historiography, oratory, ethnography, biography and artistic representation in terms of clothing. The latter is an odd inclusion in a volume almost entirely lacking reference to the material world.

The third part focuses on religion. The first essay is a four hander with an emphasis on diversity, innovation and change, stemming partly from Erfurt's 'Lived Religion' school, led by Jorg Rüpke. Leppin argues for an unsuccessful philosophical concept of religious freedom and tolerance—his essay was perhaps written too late to take account of Tim Whitmarsh's Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World.

Part Four concentrates on the role of institutions and social elites, although it would have to be said that for the most part the whole volume is based on elite discourse. Some of the most interesting essays reflect the new strength of institutional history, especially in Germany and France. Harder's essay focuses on Scipio Aemilianus, tracing the shift from his ambiguous status in life to the clear-cut narrative created afterwards. Ganter looks at the image of the good patron, partly through the lens of Horace and Maecenas. Deniaux has a very good piece on the aediles, an understudied magistracy. She shows expectations of aedilician generosity inverted during the triumvirate, when M. Oppius was assisted in his aedileship by the citizens because his father had been ruined by the proscriptions. Wendt's focus on the praetors as lawmakers leads him to emphasize flexibility in norms and in law; it would be interesting to expand the ways in which this dossier could contribute to the significant literature on law and normativity. Hurlet traces the development of the dual consulship through the uncertain early period before the Licinian-Sextian legislation, to the transformation under Augustus. Humm draws out the role of the censors in defining membership of appropriate parts of the Roman citizen body. He shows that one can construct a body of normative expectation by inverting the reasons for being removed or demoted, and identifies a sense of citizen equality—a geometric equality, where obligations increased with means and privilege. Baudry focuses on the number of witnesses required for writing senatus consulta, and sees the increase to seven under Augustus as reflecting a degree of formalization. This is immediately followed by Eich's provocative question 'wie hielt es der Kaiser mit den Normen?' to which his answer is that the emperor almost by necessity transformed some norms and by choice interfered with others, especially relating to marriage and personal morality, but the impact may have been limited to begin with. Finally, Moatti's excellent essay on the rhetoric around the defence of the res publica argues that the very concept of the res publica grew in definition as a more elaborate set of arguments were mounted in its defence, for instance the lex de maiestate.

Part Five introduces the question of the involvement of the people in the definition of norms, but in the end their role is limited. Lanfranchi looks at the more formal aspects of popular assemblies, and uses some evidence from the middle Republic to argue for their role in arbitration between competing aristocrats, and van Haeperen argues somewhat similarly for the role of the comitia curiata. Courier uses the episode where the people force the emperor Tiberius to return to public display a statue that he had taken for himself to suggest the power of popular disapproval. Flaig analyses Livy's account of the speech of Sempronius Gracchus, father of the famous brothers, in 186 BC (Livy 39.41.4-5). He argues that Sempronius' definition of the role of the tribunate and the nature of its power, intended to rein in an aggressive fellow- tribune, actually gave a justification for later tribunes to persist in their veto. Not everyone perhaps will follow Flaig's defence of the speech as a genuine reflection of the discourse of the early second century, but it would be illuminating if it were.

Cosme and Assenmaker look at the world of the military, and both focus on change. Cosme argues that the professionalization of the army from Augustus on moved discourse on from the idea of the citizen-soldier, whilst Assenmaker notes the transformation of expectations, especially regarding booty, which came through the changing relationship of general and army during the civil wars of the first century BC.

The last section is on the dissemination of norms. Suspène makes the excellent point that coinage acts both as a normative instrument of measure and exchange and as a medium of messages. Corbier's excellent essay on graffiti gets us closer to norms further down the social order. She finds interesting examples beyond a crude masculine world, and argues for a performative aspect and a pleasure in writing itself through the process of imitating and appropriating formal epigraphy. Itgenshorst writes on Valerius Maximus, arguing for his ambiguous approach to the Republican past. Walter admits to raising more questions than answers in his account of law and communication. His historical approach to law- making is vital to understand a hugely significant part of the interaction between people and elite at Rome, which is too often understood in terms of a system, rather than a process.

The last essay by Badel is a helpful summary but also a conversation with Lundgreen's opening essay. Lundgreen introduces two further distinctions to assist with the heuristic problem of identifying norms: the distinction between rule and principle and between conflicting and concurrent norms. As Bruhns does in his essay, Lundgreen draws on Weber for some of his analysis of norms as conventions. Lundgreen also makes the distinction between a norm as an institutional fact and the internalization of normative behaviour, which he distinguishes as external and internal; and the nature of and response to transgression obviously varies along this opposition. The instability of the former and the unrecoverability in most instances of the latter are genuine challenges for a history of normative behaviour, but at the same time undercut the attempt to identify hard and fast laws. So Lundgreen effectively identifies a complex of not necessarily congruent attitudes and positions, expressed in various ways, though for his argument predominantly through political and legislative activity, which are normative but not unchanging.

Whilst Badel rejects Lundgreen's suggestion that we use modern for ancient terminology, he accepts the argument, which is prevalent within the whole collection, that Roman conceptions are fluid, and the Augustan period is represented throughout as a seminal moment of radical shift. One might make two points—first that there is greater evidence available for the Augustan period than for previous or subsequent periods, and evidence from authors who by virtue of their undoubted originality were always likely to have been challenging normative behaviour. Secondly and conversely, such an observation would fit well with interpretations such as that of Andrew Wallace-Hadrill in The Roman Cultural Revolution (Cambridge, 2008), a book that included the archaeological and material evidence that is missing here.

It would seem that the Roman Republic and early empire will remain a significant site for the study of normative behaviour, transformation and transgression. However, we do need to be attentive to how we deploy such a theoretical language. First, there is a danger that we identify norms not from observation of their operation but from highly articulate and manipulative sources. In this context, we need to be especially careful of attributing deep genealogies to supposed norms, since this is precisely where we may be suspicious that contemporary interpretations overlay narrative substrates. We should also emphasize just how narrowly some of this behaviour was shared. This is a specific and sharp problem with some of the more literary genres studied here. If we are serious about the significance of norms in respect of communication, a concept we may derive from Habermas, surprisingly absent from this volume, we need to be attentive to exactly what is being communicated. Many of the supposedly normative contexts explored here are actually sites of conflict and contestation. That might not have surprised Weber, who associated normativity with authority and dominance; but it would need some work to square this body of rather individual, contingent and fluid expressions of norms with the rather more concrete 'orders' of the Weberian universe. At least one solution to that would be through the application of theories of habituation and the concept of field deftly deployed by Bourdieu (who does fleetingly enter the fray).

This volume therefore seems to me to deliver less than its more theoretical underpinnings might promise. Yet it has also served to nudge the door open a little further to permit a different way of talking about the late Republican and early imperial period, and there is much here to enjoy. Finally, one can only admire the evident co-operative spirit with which the project was delivered. The final essay is Ungern-Sternberg's moving recovery of the collapse of communication between Maurice Holleaux, that determined defender of Roman indifference towards the east, and Georg Karo, an expert on the orientalising period, after the destruction of Reims Cathedral in 1914. As well as being the congenial site of this conference, Reims has also seen important moments of Franco-German reconciliation, reminders of the attention required to shore up the faltering norms of international discourse.

Table of Contents

Tanja Itgenshorst, Philippe Le Doze, Avant-propos
1. Introduction
Christoph Lundgreen, Norme, loi, règle, coutume, tradition: terminologie antique et perspectives modernes
Hinnerk Bruhns,"Normes, intérêts et visions du monde" : à propos de la normativité chez Max Weber
David Engels, Construction de normes et morphologie culturelle. Empire romain, chinois, sassanide et fatimide—une comparaison historique

2. Traditions savantes et naissance des normes
Pierre Letessier, Le jeu des normes dans la palliata: la surprise comme horizon d'attente
Philippe Le Doze, L'élégie romaine: entre subversion et normativité
Anne Gangloff, Philosophie grecque et normes du pouvoir à Rome sous les Julio-Claudiens et les Flaviens
Olivier Devillers, Écriture de l'Histoire et débat normatif. Quelques remarques
Jean-Michel David, Les jeux de la norme dans les déclamations, à la fin de la République et au début de l'Empire
Jean-Pierre Guilhembet, Le point de vue de Plutarque: les Vies de Romulus et Numa
Émilia Ndiaye, Stéréotypes ethniques et "sagesses barbares" dans l'élaboration des normes identitaires du citoyen romain: l'exemple des Gaulois
Jan Meister, Kleidung und Normativität in der römischen Elite

3. Normes et religions
Sylvia Estienne, Valentino Gasparini, Anne-Françoise Jaccottet, Jörg Rüpke, La religion romaine: une fabrique de la norme?
Hartmut Leppin, Le christianisme et la découverte de la liberté religieuse

4. Le rôle des institutions et des élites sociales dans l'élaboration de la norme
Ann-Cathrin Harders, The Exception becoming a Norm. Scipio the Younger between Tradition and Transgression
Angela Ganter, Normes et comportement: l'image du bon patron entre République et Principat
Élizabeth Deniaux, Les édiles de la fin de la République et de l'époque d'Auguste. Normes et transgressions
Christian Wendt, Legum finis: la préture comme facteur normatif à Rome
Frédéric Hurlet, La dualité du consulat à l'épreuve de la longue durée. À propos de la transgression et du contournement de la norme
Michel Humm, Les normes sociales dans la République romaine d'après le regimen morum des censeurs
Robinson Baudry, Le Sénat et la norme. Les normes relatives au choix des témoins des sénatus-consultes
Peter Eich, Wie hielt es der Kaiser mit den Normen?
Claudia Moatti, De l'exception à la norme. Quelques réflexions sur la défense de la res publica aux iie et ier siècles a.C.

5. Le rôle du peuple et de ses représentants dans l'élaboration de la norme
Thibaud Lanfranchi, Les assemblées du peuple jouèrent-elles un rôle dans l'élaboration de la norme ?
Françoise Van Haeperen, Les comices curiates, une assemblée garante de la norme ?
Egon Flaig, S'écarter de la tradition: le rôle des tribuns de la plèbe
Cyril Courrier, Le peuple de Rome et les ornamenta de la Ville: usages et normes. Le cas de la confiscation de l'Apoxyomène de Lysippe par Tibère (Pliny, Nat., 34.62)

6. L'armée et les normes
Pierre Cosme, La fabrique de la norme militaire
Pierre Assenmaker, Les grands individus dans les guerres civiles: une nouvelle architecture normative ?

7. La diffusion des normes
Arnaud Suspène, La monnaie et la norme: l'exemple de la République et du Haut-Empire romains
Mireille Corbier, Autour des graffitis dans le monde romain: normes, codes, transgressions
Tanja Itgenshorst, Au-delà d'une fabrique de la norme: l'œuvre de Valère Maxime
Uwe Walter, Legislation in the Roman Republic: Setting Rules or just Political Communication?

8. Conclusion
Christophe Badel, De la norme à la normativité
9. Épilogue: de l'amitié franco-allemande (Reims, 13-15 mars 2014)
Jürgen von Ungern-Sternberg, Un regard en arrière: Reims à l'automne 1914 et les suites
Résumés des contributions (in French, German and English).
Index des sources
Index des noms
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Judith Affleck, Clive Letchford (ed.), OCR Anthology for Classical Greek GCSE. OCR. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. Pp. 270. ISBN 9781474265485. $29.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Judith Owen, The University of Western Australia (

Version at BMCR home site


The OCR Anthology for Classical Greek GCSE edited by Judith Affleck and Clive Letchford is disappointing. It should have been an invaluable book for Greek GCSE teachers, since it contains all the prescribed texts for the literature component of the GCSE (9–1) in Classical Greek for the years 2018-2019, 2020-2021, and 2022-2023, texts that had previously been found in separate works by different authors. Unfortunately, the book was not properly proofread before publication. Confident Greek teachers will be able to correct the numerous errors and advise their students. Less confident teachers may find the book confusing and misleading. Unless a revised version is published, teachers should rely on this book with caution and students may be better off using other editions of the set texts. I give an indication below of the sorts of errors I have found.

If it were not for the errors, the book would make an excellent teaching textbook. As well as ease of access to the set texts, the book also provides uniformity of formatting and content. While uniformity is not of such importance for the Greek GCSE student, since he or she is likely to choose only one of the set texts or at most two of them, the layout of the texts should please students and teachers alike. Affleck and Letchford have gone for an achievable ten to fifteen lines of text per page, introduced by a line or two of outline and followed by helpful cultural or stylistic notes and a box of questions to provoke discussion of the passage. At the bottom of the page is a list of the vocabulary for revision. The facing page gives the meaning and dictionary form of the new vocabulary and additional help with difficult grammar or translation. This layout provides the student with everything they need right before them, while the cultural and stylistic notes and the box of questions provides prompts for the teacher for discussion of the passage. Further aid to understanding the set texts is given before and after each text with 'The story so far . . .', 'What happens next?' and 'Final questions'. Altogether, the content and layout of the set texts has been thought through carefully.

The book also contains a series of helpful supporting material. There is an Introduction (pp. 7-11) that sketches the historical context of the texts by describing developments within Greece and contact with other civilisations. Many important facets of the Greek cultural world are covered, but religion is noticeably missing. An invaluable Table of Texts (p. 11) specifies which of the texts are prescribed for each pair of years and which unit they fall under (Prose Lit A or B; Verse Lit A or B). The section on How to Use this Book (pp. 12-13), which explains the layout for each prescribed text, is very important. Since the layout is one of the advantages of the book, it is important that students and their teachers are familiar with it from the beginning. Included here is a sensibly brief list of references for other helpful books and internet sites. The URL for Perseus and details of the app Attikos could be added to them. All the points in Tips for Translation (pp. 14-15) for the prescribed texts, Greek to English unseens and comprehension passages, and English to Greek translation are good. Some of the points in the second subsection on unseens and comprehension passages apply to reading the prescribed texts as well, and more thought to the ordering of the points might have been helpful. The main limitation of the book is brought to the fore with the first point, 'Use the colour-coding to help find your way into a sentence' (p. 14), since the colour-coding is often incorrect, as I explain below. The Timeline from 2500 BCE to 1453 CE (p. 16) is of benefit in showing how the texts relate to each other chronologically and to historical events. The Who's Who (p. 17) is of less benefit, since it lists the key names met throughout the book and so includes many that individual students will not need. A briefer Who's Who at the start of each text might be of better value, and then it would also be clearer whether the names refer to mythical or historical figures, something that is not evident as it stands. A Map of the Ancient Mediterranean (pp. 18-9) follows. Because the order of these introductory sections comes across as rather random, I would have had the Timeline, Who's Who and Map straight after the Introduction, as they are general introductory material, allowing the sections specific to this book and the set texts to follow on from each other. The section on Technical Terms (pp. 20-1), which are primarily grammatical terms with a few terms for describing verse, such as 'stichomythia', is helpful, as is the section on Discussing Literary Style (pp. 22-3). The body of the work is the prescribed texts, arranged in the following order: Homer, Herodotus, Euripides, Plato, Plutarch and Lucian. Each of the texts is given its own introduction. Finally, there is the entire Defined Vocabulary List for the OCR Greek GCSE (pp. 258-70).

A further aid to students needs special mention, and it is not one that I have come across before. Affleck and Letchford have chosen to colour-code the nominatives and the finite verbs of each sentence in the set texts as an aid to translating. This is explained in their Preface and in the section 'How to use this book'. As a concept this promises to be very helpful to the students; in practice it is the only feature I would criticise. The reason for this is that, while the finite verbs are colour- coded a clearly visible dark blue, the nominatives are printed in a faint light blue that makes it hard to read the Greek text clearly. It is also this feature that lowers the quality of the book, since words in the Greek text are colour-coded incorrectly at a rate of about two words per page. This is not a trivial error of presentation. A nominative in black type, for instance, is not a matter of lack of assistance for translating, but is, rather, a misleading insistence that it is not nominative. For instance, the nominative μονούμενος on p. 154 line 101 is left in black type, where it should be in light blue. A capable student should realise this is an error, but may have more difficulty with σπανίζων on p. 162 line 2, since it is the nominative of the present participle and should be light blue instead of the dark blue verb it claims to be. While we are all liable to miss a word or two while proofreading, the proofing of this book is insufficient for a scholarly publication. One final example of incorrect colour-coding demonstrates this clearly: on p. 62 line 106, οἱ is coded as nominative with light blue, despite its syntactic context and the fact that it is correctly given in the note on the facing page as a 'possessive dative'. Colour-coding is an interesting concept and could be very helpful, if properly proofed.

There are a few errors of interpretation. Regarding the note on p. 61 for line 88, the subject of κέλεται is surely Paris Alexander, not Hector as stated. On p. 99 at the note on line 87, ἐπεβοήσατο is not imperfect, but clearly aorist. On p. 145, the note on line 29 says that αἰτέομαι has 'no particular middle sense here', but the word echoes its earlier use at line 21, where the note acknowledges the middle sense as 'ask for my own benefit'. The middle sense is relevant in both instances. On p. 253 at the note on line 90, ταῦτα is incorrectly given as the subject of οἴχομαι; it is the subject of ἐδόκει.

There are a few inconsequential inconsistencies. Because the book is not designed to be read in sequence, cross- referencing is essential. At the start of the three set texts taken from Homer, there is a helpful reference to the general introduction to Homer. Without that, it is possible that only the students studying the first of the Homer passages, the one prescribed for 2018-2019, would notice that the general introduction existed. Unfortunately, the subsequent set texts do not cross-reference their general introductions and it will fall to the observant teacher to tell the students to read the relevant pages. Fortunately, all but one of these general introductions are listed in the Contents. 'Drama in Ancient Greece' is the general introduction missed by the Contents. In fact, the Contents says that the section for Euripides begins on p. 141, whereas the general information on Euripides is on p. 140 and 'Drama in Ancient Greece' begins on p. 139.

A few trivial errors also crop up. For instance, on p. 41 the note for line 81 seems to have a stray closing bracket. References to line or page number are occasionally incorrect, though many of the errors are trivial. For instance, at the start of the set text Alcestis 280-392 on p. 141, the renumbered text lines are given as '1-114', whereas the passage ends on line 113 on p. 156, as it is correctly given in the Contents. Sometimes, however, the error is more inconvenient. For instance, on p. 41 the note to line 83 βῆ δ᾽ ἴμεν gives no explanation for the phrase, but instead refers to line 50, where the phrase does not occur; a reference to line 3 would be more helpful.

Overall, the book had the potential to be a very useful textbook. In its current, poorly proofread state, however, it falls short of its intended purpose.

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