Thursday, November 30, 2017


Haixia W. Lan, Aristotle and Confucius on Rhetoric and Truth: The Form and the Way. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 228. ISBN 978147287360. $149.95.

Reviewed by Matylda Amat Obryk, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf (

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In Aristotle and Confucius on Rhetoric and Truth. The Form and the Way, Haixia Lan (henceforth Lan), a specialist in the field of comparative rhetoric, follows the latest trend of comparing Aristotle's and Confucius' thought.1 Her objective is quite ambitious. The author wants to "to help foster better communication between East and West today". To achieve this she challenges the view that Eastern and Western thought differ beyond comparison. She fights against stereotypical assumptions that e.g. Aristotle's concept of essence (which Lan conflates with "truth") is static and Confucius' dao-the-way is decentered and therefore incompatible with inferential / discursive thinking (cf. p. 14).

To analyze Aristotelian and Confucian understanding of rhetoric and truth Lan chooses Aristotelian "form" and the Confucian "way" as her interpretative tools. The choice of the "dao-the-way" (as she calls it) is intuitive, as Confucius uses this metaphor to construe his understanding of the world processes. The choice of Aristotelian form, however, is unorthodox. Aristotle claims that every object is a compound of matter and form, and his hylomorphism allows for an explanation of the changes observed in the world. But Lan understands "form" as an interpretative tool too, a metaphor that describes the world. She does this because she needs a tool similar to the Confucian dao-the-way in Aristotelian philosophy. Regrettably there is no such a thing (even if the Aristotelian form may in fact be the closest to what she was looking for). She fails to acknowledge this substantial difficulty.

As the aim of the author is to foster mutual comprehension between East and West the choice of rhetoric is rather satisfying. Lan takes a broad definition of rhetoric, understood both as τέχνη and as ἐπιστήμη. She sees that the aim of rhetoric can be either success, when it is conceived more as τέχνη, or truth, when approached as ἐπιστήμη. The second objective of rhetoric is where Lan sees the core issue in both Aristotle and Confucius. She analyzes the means through which both thinkers approach the question of truth.

The main difficulty is the very premise of this book. Aristotle and Confucius appear to have thought and approached the world in such radically different ways that any comparison seems to be impossible. Aristotle is the first to propound a systematic theory of rhetoric. Confucius is far from it. All we can derive about Confucius' thought on rhetoric from the Analects comes from incidental remarks made in the course of dialogues or within an exchange of opinion. In the Analects we can see Confucius' rhetoric at work; in Aristotle we can analyze his theory step by step. That makes the task of Lan extremely difficult and at times rather confusing. And even though she admits to following Kennedy's Comparative Rhetoric2 with his rather heavy Eurocentrism, Lan manages to bring the two thinkers, Aristotle and Confucius, onto a similar platform and deal with them in a sovereign way (always under the restriction noted above: only after she has construed the Aristotelian form as similar to Confucian dao).

In five very well structured chapters (the first two on Aristotle and Confucius respectively and then the last three on different approaches to rhetoric—rhetorical probability, rhetorical reasoning, rhetorical education—in both the Greek and Chinese traditions) the author analyzes the different traditions and their history. Aristotle and his approach to rhetoric grows out of a democratic society where speech was omnipresent and a tool of social life. For him rhetoric has a dynamic dimension as it is used to inquire into the truth of things. On the other hand, Confucian rhetorical theory must be extracted from indirect statements. From Confucius' attacks against "mere rhetoric" we can construct his postulate for a rhetoric as a useful tool of inquiry into the world and human communication.

Lan argues that the main difficulty lies in the fact that the two thinkers conceive of the world and truth in such radically different ways. Lan argues that Aristotle sees in form a metaphor for truth (cf. p. 117) and that is ultimately progressive. On the other hand, Confucius seeks the truth in dao-the-way, which he conceives of being "deferential", as Lan puts it, meaning a humble way of approaching the world and other fellow humans. At first sight, Aristotle's thought is rather static and Confucian is dynamic. However, Lan argues that this is misleading. She compares the concept of appropriateness (καιρός) in Aristotle with the dynamic structure of understanding the world as it is encoded in the ba-gua, the eight trigrams that encapsulate the Confucian teaching of yin and yang. Lan makes here the point that, for Aristotle, taking the concept of καιρός and ἐπιείκεια into account, there is no such thing as inflexible and unchanging judgement either. The circumstances and the appropriate time make the judgment about the right way of acting a rather dynamic affair. Lan argues that this is exactly the point where the two thinkers would meet. Reality is never to be looked at from a single perspective.

Furthermore, the author challenges the common opinion that Aristotelian thought is linear and Confucian circular. Lan argues that Aristotelian thought is not as static as it appears—on the assumption that he thinks of forms as changeable and therefore in flux. This flexibility would bring him near the Confucian understanding of dao-the-way. Lan calls his way of thinking "systematic with flexibility". Confucius' thought on the other hand appears to be in constant flux, being the dao-the-way. Confucian thought is for her "flexible with systemacity". Furthermore, Lan—quite rhetorically herself—points out that the differences are subtle: Aristotle is for her "relationally formal", Confucius "formally relational" (p. 220). She argues that both seem to approach rhetoric in the larger context of inquiry into the truth of things. Aristotle seeks it in form, Confucius in the dao.

Lan concludes with a plea: "we can understand the truths of things, to live the form and walk the way, once we open our minds to others by constantly communicating, reexamining, and improving the probable beliefs and practices of our own" (p. 221). And in that way, she may have achieved her aim to further cross-cultural communication in the globalized 21st century. The dialogue between East and West is a difficult matter, and the book of Haixia Lan shows us both the difficulty and the path.

The most practical of all her conclusions might be this: "it is important to be aware of this difference to communicate effectively cross-culturally, to avoid misinterpreting Confucian ethos as a lack of confidence and Aristotelian ethos as a lack of flexibility" (p. 167). Aristotelian confidence sprouts from his fondness of clarity and deduction in rhetoric as he believes that truths are formal and that they do have an ascertainable aspect. Confucius on the other hand opts for inductivity in rhetoric and a certain subtlety. This insight may indeed help mutual understanding in cross-cultural encounters.

The book is not an easy read. The two traditions Lan is juggling with are indeed very different: the ways of presenting things, of approaching and discussing problems differ. Lan manages to balance between those two worlds very well but not everyone is equally able to. Lan herself seems at times to switch between the two rhetorics in a way that makes the reading even more challenging. Sometimes she speaks as if she would be an Aristotelian, sometimes as a Confucian. Without any doubt she manages to put the two great thinkers, Greek and Chinese, on one platform where a comparison is possible; but whether they in fact meet as often as Lan claims might be another issue. But the value of this work is this very approach. We must try to find ways of communication even across such difficult gulfs. Lan manages to bridge these very different worlds.

Regrettably there is a slight inconsistency in the presentation of non-English terminology. The Greek appears sometimes transliterated, sometimes not, and often lacks its accents. Furthermore, there are some mistakes in the print of the Chinese characters (cf. p. 202). The usual annoyingly typos are to be spotted as well. Nevertheless, the choice of making hyphenated Chinese-English terms for the core words, as for instance "dao-the-way", was a good decision that makes the balancing between the two so different worlds a bit easier.


1.   A small selection: R. Wardy, Aristotle in China: Language, Categories and Translation (Cambridge University Press, 2000); M. Sim, Remastering Morals with Morals and Confucius (Cambridge University Press, 2007); J. Yu, The Ethic of Confucius and Aristotle. Mirror of Virtue (London: Routledge, 2007).
2.   G. Kennedy, Comparative Rhetoric: An Historic and Cross-Cultural Introduction (Oxford University Press, 1998), reviewed in BMCR 98.2.13

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Gérard Genevrois, Le vocabulaire institutionnel crétois d'après les inscriptions (VIIe-IIe s. av. J.-C.) : Étude philologique et dialectologique. École pratique des Hautes Études. Sciences historiques et philologiques - III. Hautes études du monde gréco-romain, 54. Genève: Librairie Droz, 2017. Pp. 541. ISBN 9782600013833. CHF 95.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Éric Dieu, Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès (

Version at BMCR home site

Cet ouvrage, issu du remaniement d'une thèse de doctorat soutenue en juin 2014 à l'École pratique des Hautes Études sous la direction de Laurent Dubois, constitue un apport d'importance à notre connaissance du vocabulaire crétois, d'un point de vue aussi bien philologique que dialectologique. Gérard Genevrois y propose une approche globale du vocabulaire institutionnel crétois sous tous ses aspects (juridique, socio-économique, financier, politique, cultuel et religieux, etc.). Celle-ci vient non seulement synthétiser, mais aussi enrichir les nombreuses contributions à ce sujet qui ont été proposées antérieurement par divers spécialistes du dialecte crétois ou du droit antique, et en particulier par Monique Bile1 et Ángel Martínez Fernández.2 Par cet ouvrage, ainsi que par plusieurs articles parus récemment,3 Gérard Genevrois s'impose désormais comme un chercheur accompli dans le domaine des études crétoises.

L'introduction situe clairement l'enjeu du volume, tout en précisant bien, comme il se doit, les éditions utilisées. Il ne s'agit pas exclusivement de questions d'ordre strictement sémantique, car les conditions même d'émergence du dialecte crétois invitent également à faire intervenir des questions diachroniques : cet ouvrage constitue aussi un apport systématique en ce qui concerne la question du substrat prédorien du crétois, question qui, jusqu'ici, n'avait donné lieu qu'occasionnellement à des travaux touchant le lexique, les études sur ce sujet portant le plus souvent sur des faits d'ordre phonétique ou morphologique. Ainsi, en partie à la suite d'une étude de Monique Bile (Cretan Studies 2, 1990, p. 79-97), il est vrai un peu plus restreinte puisqu'elle ne portait que sur les « homérismes » crétois et que ses conclusions étaient très réservées (elle ne retenait comme « homérismes » sûrs que les deux verbes μωλέω « ester en justice, intenter un procès ; soutenir en justice, alléguer » et ὀπυίω « avoir pour épouse ; épouser »), l'enquête de Gérard Genevrois se veut également comparative, à travers une comparaison non seulement avec le vocabulaire homérique et poétique, mais aussi avec celui des autres dialectes, et en particulier ceux du groupe « méridional » (ionien-attique, arcado-chypriote, mycénien). Gérard Genevrois se propose en outre de mettre en évidence des concordances lexicales et phraséologiques entre les inscriptions crétoises et le corpus littéraire du droit attique, qui soient susceptibles de suggérer l'existence d'un vocabulaire juridique remontant à l'époque grecque commune. Dès lors, un autre objet de son ouvrage est la question du « dorisme » des lois crétoises.

Le corps de l'ouvrage est constitué par un « Lexique » des termes étudiés, classé par ordre alphabétique du mot de base ou de la racine de chaque famille lexicale. Il faut souligner la grande rigueur philologique de ce lexique, qui constitue un instrument de travail précieux pour tout chercheur amené à travailler sur les données crétoises. Suivant une méthode irréprochable, les termes étudiés y sont replacés, autant que possible, dans leur contexte, et ils donnent lieu à une analyse philologique systématique, qui se trouve confrontée, le cas échéant, aux apports de la recherche historique, juridique et archéologique. Un classement thématique des lemmes aurait naturellement pu être envisagé, de préférence à un simple classement alphabétique ; mais, outre le fait qu'il serait souvent difficile d'assigner chacun d'entre eux à un champ spécifique du vocabulaire institutionnel, l'ordre alphabétique permet au lecteur de s'y retrouver aisément, et il s'agissait certainement de la solution la plus commode. Ce lexique est néanmoins complété par deux importantes annexes thématiques, qui rassemblent heureusement des données qu'il eût été dommage de trouver éparses : « Noms de tribus », « Noms de mois, cultes et fêtes ».

La conclusion de l'ouvrage répond largement aux questionnements soulevés dans l'introduction, en proposant une synthèse des réponses qui y avaient été apportées isolément dans le lexique. Elle insiste tout d'abord sur les procédés de formation du vocabulaire institutionnel crétois, d'un point de vue formel (suffixation, composition) et sémantique (spécialisation sémantique de termes du vocabulaire commun, par exemple dans le cas des verbes signifiant « divorcer », où la langue des Lois de Gortyne recourt d'une part à des verbes dénotant la séparation, κρίνομαι et son préverbé διακρίνομαι, et d'autre part, pour la femme divorcée, à un verbe dénotant la privation d'homme, χηρεύω, crétois κε̄ρεύω). Elle développe également l'idée d'un « fonds lexical commun de la langue juridique grecque » : entre autres exemples, le syntagme épique δίδωμι ὀπυίειν « donner pour femme », attesté à Gortyne, se retrouve indirectement à Athènes dans les lois de Solon (cf. p. 266), et une formule comme μοῖραν λακέν / λανκάνεν « obtenir une part (d'héritage) » apparaît dans des emplois identiques à Gortyne et chez Solon, et dans un contexte différent chez Hésiode (cf. p. 211-212). Ce type de concordances phraséologiques, documentées par bien d'autres exemples, et qui peuvent être aussi bien d'ordre syntagmatique que de nature syntaxique, sont expliquées d'une manière convaincante par Gérard Genevrois comme résultant de la « conservation de mots et collocations hérités du fonds commun de la langue et de la pensée juridique grecques », fonds commun qui devait déjà être largement répandu dans le monde mycénien, plutôt que par l'idée d'influences réciproques favorisant le passage de termes d'un dialecte à l'autre. Gérard Genevrois revient enfin sur les caractéristiques dialectales du vocabulaire institutionnel crétois. Il est tout à fait notable que les traits lexicaux proprement doriens (du type du verbe λῶ « vouloir ») sont rares en proportion de ce que l'on pourrait attendre d'après l'appartenance du dialecte crétois au groupe dialectal dorien. Inversement, les concordances, souvent exclusives, avec l'ionien ou l'ionien- attique sont particulièrement abondantes (même si leur caractère fréquemment exclusif peut être quelque peu nuancé en tenant compte du fait que le crétois est le seul dialecte à présenter un corpus institutionnel aussi abondant, de sorte que d'autres dialectes seraient théoriquement susceptibles de présenter aussi ce type d'affinités avec l'ionien ou l'ionien- attique). Quelques affinités avec l'arcadien et le chypriote sont également observables. Gérard Genevrois souligne, en dernier lieu, le rôle important du substrat « achéen » dans la formation du dialecte crétois, décelable à travers plusieurs isoglosses avec le mycénien, l'arcado-chypriote ou encore l'ionien des poèmes homériques, voire celui d'Hérodote. Il l'attribue à « l'influence des populations mycénophones présentes en Crète lors de l'"invasion" dorienne » (p. 450), lesquelles auraient conservé une part active dans l'administration locale à côté des nouveaux arrivants : il n'est nullement surprenant que le parler de l'ancienne élite ait pu laisser son empreinte sur la langue des documents officiels.

Le livre se termine par un utile appendice sur les Lois de Gortyne. On y trouvera le texte complet de ces Lois, qui suit très largement (sans toutefois en reproduire l'apparat critique) l'édition de Ronald F. Willetts, The Law Code of Gortyn, Berlin, 1967, ainsi qu'une traduction nouvelle. Suivent une abondante bibliographie, un index des mots du dialecte crétois et de ceux du mycénien, un index des passages cités ou commentés, un index des gloses d'Hésychius, ainsi que des cartes de la Crète.

C'est donc là un ouvrage majeur dans l'histoire des études crétoises, et plus largement dans le domaine de la dialectologie grecque. S'il s'agit en premier lieu d'un ouvrage de philologue, il intéressera également les linguistes, les historiens, les archéologues ou encore les spécialistes du droit antique. Le propos de Gérard Genevrois reste toujours à la fois ferme et sobre. L'appareil de notes bibliographiques, très riche, permet parfaitement de replacer le propos de l'auteur dans le cadre de l'histoire de la recherche et de savoir à qui doit être attribuée la paternité de telle ou telle hypothèse, ou dans la continuité de quels travaux se placent les arguments avancés par Gérard Genevrois. Bref, le lecteur se sent pleinement en confiance en suivant les descriptions et les argumentations de l'auteur, et il dispose de toutes les données nécessaires pour se faire une idée sur les faits analysés. Les erreurs matérielles sont rarissimes, qu'il s'agisse de coquilles portant sur le texte français (absence d'accord, par exemple, à l'avant-dernière ligne de la page 438 dans « la conservation du fonds lexical archaïque s'est accompagné ») ou sur le texte grec. Pour le grec, Gérard Genevrois, afin de faciliter la lecture, a pris le parti d'accentuer les formes crétoises d'après l'accentuation attique, tout en procédant naturellement à quelques adaptations nécessaires comme l'absence de l'application de la loi σωτῆρα, puisque le crétois est un dialecte dorien et que le dorien ne semble guère connaître cette loi (voir p. 11-12) : c'est là un principe commode défendu notamment par Michel Lejeune (Revue des études grecques 54, 1941, p. 76), qui invitait à admettre « l'accentuation des inscriptions dialectales, avec la simple valeur d'un commentaire attique perpétuel (et sans prétendre, bien entendu, indiquer quoi que ce soit sur l'accentuation du dialecte) », même si ce principe général n'interdit pas ensuite certains ajustements. 4 Ce principe est parfaitement appliqué par Gérard Genevrois, et le seul choix, à cet égard, qui nous semble pouvoir être éventuellement discuté (bien qu'il soit conforme à la règle ainsi posée), serait celui de l'accentuation du nom arcadien du cou, de la nuque, noté δέρϝᾱ (p. 376 note 2), accentuation certes conforme à celle de la forme attique δέρη, mais néanmoins distincte de celle de la forme ionienne δειρή. Le plus simple serait peut-être, à l'instar de Pierre Chantraine dans son Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque (Paris, 1968-1980, p. 264), de noter prudemment sans accent δερϝᾱ (mais, p. 567, arcadien κόρϝᾱ « jeune fille » en face d'ionien κούρη et d'attique κόρη). Ce n'est là, cependant, qu'un simple détail, et sa qualité tant du point de la forme que du contenu font de cet ouvrage un petit bijou philologique dont la consultation se révélera indispensable.


1.   Outre les pages de son ouvrage de 1988 (Le dialecte crétois ancien. Étude de la langue des inscriptions. Recueil des inscriptions postérieures aux IC, Paris) qui sont consacrées à des questions de lexique (p. 317-363), voir notamment les études de Monique Bile sur le système de parenté et les systèmes matrimoniaux à Gortyne (Verbum 3, 1980, p. 1-21), sur les structures sociales dans les Lois de Gortyne (Verbum 4, 1981, p. 11-45), sur les verbes de paiement (Verbum 11, 1988, p. 233-244), etc.
2.   Voir en particulier les travaux d'Ángel Martínez Fernández sur le vocabulaire juridique (Fortunatae 9, 1997, p. 103-123) et le vocabulaire économique crétois (Actas del Congreso Internacional de Semántica 1997, II, Madrid, 2000, p. 1139-1150).
3.   Outre ses « Cretica I » (Revue des études grecques 125, 2012, p. 693-713) et « Cretica II » (Revue des études grecques 128, 2015, p. 265-289), qui sont mentionnés dans son livre, on signalera également son étude, datée de 2015 mais parue seulement en 2017, sur les « Gloses et témoignages épigraphiques : l'exemple du crétois » (Revue de philologie 89/1, 2015, p. 73-108).
4.   C'est là, d'ailleurs, une pratique déjà répandue chez les Anciens dans certains papyrus accentués : voir par exemple ce que dit Guy Vottéro (Folia Graeca in honorem Edouard Will : Linguistica, Claude Brixhe et Guy Vottéro (éd.), Nancy - Paris, 2012, p. 154) à propos des papyrus de Corinne, où les diacritiques (accents, esprits, etc.) sont essentiellement « destinés à permettre un décryptage du texte selon les règles de la langue poétique ou de l'attique », et ne sont donc « pas probants pour le dialecte béotien ».

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Kristen Seaman, Peter Schultz (ed.), Artists and Artistic Production in Ancient Greece. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. xvi, 242. ISBN 9781107074460. $99.99.

Reviewed by Janet Burnett Grossman, Spokane, WA (

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[Authors and titles are listed below.]

The intention of this slim volume of essays is to counter what the contributors think is a diminution in recent scholarship of the role of artists in ancient Greek society. It is a reassertion of the importance of the individual in the creation of the material culture of ancient Greece. There are a total of ten essays with an eleventh called a response, which in actuality is an additional essay. To their credit, Seaman and Schultz have expanded the topics from the usual suspects of sculpture and vase painting to include essays on mosaics, coins, and architecture. The authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.

In her introduction, Seaman gives an overview of the historiography of the study of Greek art, from early interest emphasizing the artist and the subsequent attribution studies to the death of the artist in vogue at the end of the twentieth century. Seaman sees a gap in the historical understanding of artistic production in ancient Greece and hopes that the essays promote a more balanced approach to the study of surviving artifacts that lies between these two extremes. She defends the use of "artist" rather than "craftsman" in the volume by a short review of Greek language terms and examples from ancient literature of the awareness of inventiveness and personal style. She ends the introduction with a summary of each of the essays.

Seaman then continues these themes in the second essay by focusing on ancient literary sources that attest to the elite social and educational backgrounds of some Greek artists. It seems clear that certain makers of ancient objects were neither in the bottom ranks of society nor were they anonymous figures in their communities.

There are three essays on sculptors: Kritios and Nesiotes, Euphranor, Kephisodotos the Younger. Stewart writes on the revolutionary nature of Kritios and Nesiotes in their conception of the statues of the Tyrannicides of Harmodios and Aristogeiton (pp. 37-54).1 It is generally accepted that the Roman marble statues in Naples are copies of original bronzes erected in Athens in 477/6 B.C. However, this designation is a continuation of the attribution game and the construction of artistic profiles based on a compilation of literary references with signed statue bases and later reproductions of a statue type.2 According to Stewart, Kritios and Nesiotes were artistic innovators, since they fulfill two of his designated three conditions of artistic innovation in the ancient world: they created a style, i.e., the Severe style, and they founded a school. (p. 51). The difficulty, however, remains that the concept of stylistic phases is an invention of modern scholarship.3

Palagia's contribution on the sculptor Euphranor is actually a paper given in 2007 at the Louvre Museum. Her continuing interest in Euphranor stems from research first presented in 1980 in her dissertation. This essay highlights the problematic nature of attributing existing statues to literary sources. Palagia no longer endorses attributions that she made to Euphranor in her dissertation, acknowledging a lack of evidence (p. 137). But, apart from the statue of Apollo Patroos discovered in the Athenian Agora (inv. S 2154), it is not entirely clear which statues she continues to believe were made by Euphranor. For example, although the bronze statue of Athena from Piraeus has been attributed by some scholars to Euphranor—and Palagia herself makes a strong stylistic argument in favor of its creation by that sculptor—, uncertainty remains about its still undetermined date (p. 136). Indeed, the authors of the catalogue of the recent exhibition of large Hellenistic bronzes remind us that none of the bronze statues found in the Piraeus cache have yet been systematically analyzed or investigated for their casting techniques. 4 At the very least, technical examination and scientific investigation must be included for any attribution of an unsigned statue discovered out of its original context —which is the case for the vast majority of sculptures, since they were portable in antiquity as well as in later periods when they were frequently re-used for other purposes.

Schultz's essay is a case study of Kephisodotos the Younger that demonstrates his status as a member of elite Athenian society. Works produced by the sculptor and his workshop are known only from literary references and epigraphical sources. Schultz is masterful at marshalling all extant information on this man, but as to creating a personality, the lack of any material remains is a serious impediment to that goal.

Of the two contributions concerning vase painting, the essay by Neils (pp. 23-36) attempts to give a portrait of Euthymides, a painter and potter of red-figure vases of the late sixth century B.C. Her point of departure is a depiction of a youth on an Attic red-figure hydria in Munich (Antikensammlung 2421), who is identified by inscription as Euthymides. By reviewing all the evidence connected to Euthymides, inscriptions as well as the style and imagery of his vases, she concludes that rather than a lowly craftsman, Euthymides associated with elite members of Athenian society.5

The second essay on the topic, by Bolmarcich and Muskett, is a statistical study of painter and potter signatures on vases. Using a database of 1039 signatures, the two authors analyzed them by various categories, including chronology, findspots, shape and technique.6 There are useful tables summarizing their findings for chronology and findspots. The findings are inconclusive, however, on whether signatures represent the name of the individual craftsman or rather that of the owner of the workshop producing the vases.

The essay on mosaics by Martin seems an odd topic to include in this volume, since by their very nature of production, mosaics were the work of many hands. She begins by recognizing that mosaics do not meet basic criteria to reconstruct an ancient artist's style.7 She then attempts to recover the role that Hellenistic picture mosaics played in the development of artistry and aesthetics of the Hellenistic world by examining, especially in their technical aspects, works from the Palestinian sites of Tel Dor and Tel Anafa. She concludes that Greek iconography and style, and the few Greek signatures do not mean that picture mosaics were invented and made by Greeks nor were they a byproduct of Greek painting.

Similarly, the essay on coins by Pafford does not attempt to identify individual artists or die engravers, but is an examination of coins with closed and open borders. The aim is to demonstrate that even within the constraints of state-produced coinage, individual die engravers made innovative aesthetic decisions in their designs. In this manner, the hand of an individual artist may be glimpsed.

The essay by Miles focuses on the architect of the Hephaisteion, prominently placed and dominating to this day the archaeological remains of the Agora in Athens. The actual name of the architect of this temple is unknown, but was dubbed the "Theseum Architect" (the Theseum being the early name for the Hephaisteion), by the influential architectural historian, W.B. Dinsmoor in 1940. Besides the Hephaisteion, he attributed three additional works to this unknown architect: the temple of Ares, also in the Athenian Agora, the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, and the temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous. Miles meticulously dissects Dinsmoor's eight specific characteristics of this architect's designs, showing them to be problematic and exposing the fictitious nature of the "Theseum Architect." Her aim is to improve the understanding of ancient Greek architecture by focusing on observation and study of the remains of the buildings themselves, not by getting sidetracked into the creation of architectural personalities. She advocates looking for "artistic individuality" in further study of the material evidence for the design process itself. That being said, a particularly useful element in her essay is a table listing religious buildings built during the Archaic and Classical periods, which are attributed to named architects by ancient authors and inscriptions (pp. 107-108).

The concluding essay by Hurwit is a sophisticated exposition of the middle ground between Rhys Carpenter's assessment of sculpture (and by implication other forms of ancient art) as "anonymous product of an impersonal craft," and the creation of artistic personalities such as the "Theseum architect," promoted by Dinsmoor. Hurwit notes the exceptional nature of Greek artists, as compared to Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Etruscan, and even Roman craftsmen, in the declaration of their own identities by the names that survive, completely and partially in signatures, inscriptions or ancient sources. By framing the argument between those who adhere to the anonymous craftsman line of thinking and their opponents stressing the master artistic personality as one of degree, his position is successful. While named ancient Greek artists confidently connected with existing works of art do exist (e.g., Damophon), in general the production of cultural artifacts was an interactive process. Hurwit concludes that not only do artists shape culture, culture shapes them.

In many ways, this volume of essays is a continuation of the 1996 book Personal Styles in Ancient Greek Sculpture. That publication focused on the "big" names in Greek sculpture such as Pheidias, Polykleitos, Praxiteles, and Lysippos. This volume continues the methodologies and conclusions advanced there in broadening the field beyond that of sculpture. At the beginning of the volume, the editors state that its origin lies in the discussions of graduate students at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. As an alumna of the American School, I well recall similar discussions and perhaps the essays in this volume will prove most useful as departure points in graduate seminars. Hurwit's essay particularly should be required reading in the curriculum.

Authors and titles

1. Introduction: Greek artists, yesterday and today. Kristen Seaman
2. The social and educational background of elite Greek artists. Kristen Seaman
3. Portrait of an artist: Euthymides, son of Pollias. Jenifer Neils
4. Kritios and Nesiotes: two revolutionaries in context. Andrew Stewart
5. Craft identity: mosaics in the Hellenistic East. S. Rebecca Martin
6. Artistic choice and constraint on coins. Isabelle A. Pafford
7. Constructing architects: the so-called "Theseum architect". Margaret M. Miles
8. Euphranor. Olga Palagia
9. Politics and personality? the case of Kephisodotos the Younger. Peter Schultz
10. Artists' signatures on archaic Greek vases from Athens. Sarah Bolmarcich and Georgina Muskett
11. Response: reflections on identity, personality, and originality. Jeffrey M. Hurwit.


1.   A forthcoming book on the statues is V. Azoulay, P. Cartledge, and J. Lloyd, The Tyrant-Slayers of Ancient Athens: A Tale of Two Statues, Oxford.
2.   On later copies of Greek originals see Miranda Marvin, The Language of the Muses: The Dialogue Between Greek and Roman Sculpture, Los Angeles, 2008, and an annotated bibliography on the topic by A. Anguissola for Oxford Bibliographies: "Greek Originals and Roman Copies".
3.   For an idiosyncratic view of the role of style in archaeology and art history, see R. Neer, The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture, Chicago and London, 2010, pp. 1-19.
4.   J. M. Daehner and K. Lapatin, eds. Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, Los Angeles, 2015, p. 31. Of particular relevance to the arguments advanced by the book under review on the individual hand of Greek artists/craftsmen is the response: "Barr-Sharrar on Ridgway on Daehner and Lapatin" BMCR 2016.02.29; see also Ridgway's response at BMCR 2016.02.47, and Barr-Sharrar, review of Daehner and Lapatin in JRA 30 (2017), pp. 559-568.
5.   See also G. Hedreen, The Image of the Artist in Archaic and Classical Greece: Art, Pottery and Subjectivity, (Cambridge 2016).
6.   Based on H. Immerwahr Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions (CAVI) plus additions of their own.
7.   Defined by J.J. Pollitt, "Masters and Masterworks," in O. Palagia and J.J. Pollitt, eds. Personal Styles in Greek Sculpture, Cambridge, 1996, p. 1.

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Timothy M. Costelloe (ed.), The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xiii, 304. ISBN 9780521143677. $34.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Cressida Ryan, University of Oxford (

Version at BMCR home site

[The reviewer apologizes for the lateness of this review.]

Costelloe has put together this wide-ranging book of essays on the sublime in an attempt to demonstrate that the concept is not dead—that there is still merit in treating it both theoretically and in its relevance to the present day. Part 1 offers a philosophical history of the sublime. Part 2 contextualises the theoretical models, offering different disciplinary perspectives. The resulting fifteen chapters do justice to the overall aim. Many of the authors point out that their essays are works in progress, or open up new avenues for investigation. The book is therefore both a synthesising introduction to scholarship on the sublime (and by extension, the beautiful), and a call to readers to respond with new engagements of their own. The number of chapters means only brief comment on each is possible. This remains desirable given the density of the volume – each chapter is an important contribution.

Costelloe's introduction does not summarise the contents of the book. Instead, Costelloe gives some background to the concept of the sublime, from its heritage in Longinus through major contributors such as Boileau to Monk. He distinguishes the sublime style from sublimity, a distinction that is made with varying power throughout the book, perhaps most clearly in ch. 14.

Malcolm Heath opens with a tour through Longinus, offering a good summary of sources and a discussion of terminological problems. Heath summarises a number of approaches to understanding Longinus, including the five sources of the sublime, the relationship of the sublime to the divine, and art versus nature. In considering how progress in nature is allowed (perhaps through art), he reminds us of the moral nature of the sublime, a theme picked up throughout the book.

Rodolphe Gasché contributes the only chapter to focus explicitly on beauty, thinking through Burke's 'double aesthetic' in order to offer a rehabilitation of beauty. He takes different aspects of the sublime and gives a reading of comparables role for beauty, considering objects, rarity value, the sublime as a derivative feeling compared with beauty, and beauty's place in three particular passions of sympathy, imitation and ambition. He concludes that beauty is fragile and hence subject to being overwhelmed, but that nonetheless it should not be neglected.

Melissa McBay Merritt focuses in ch. 3 solely on Kant, establishing a core focus for the rest of the book. She describes the sublime state of mind and Kant's responses to Burke. She explains Kant's differentiation between the mathematical and dynamic sublimes, grounding her discussion and exposition in the Critique of Judgement and enumerating some conceptual challenges. She explores the moral nature of Kant's sublime and the relationship between morality and reason, considering some of the epistemological issues in the Kantian sublime, not least the relationship between the sensible and supersensible.

The rapid tour of European philosophy post-1700 starts in ch. 4, where Timothy Costelloe compares the role of the imagination in Shaftesbury, Reid, Addison and Reynolds. As with similarly structured chapters, each individual only gets a few pages, leading to some necessarily dense prose, held together by the common topic of the imagination. Costelloe concentrates on elucidating the differences between the sublime style and aesthetic, and considers topics such as art and nature, the role of greatness in the sublime, and different orders of beauty. A clear and well-structured essay, it helps contextualise many of the issues discussed throughout the book, reminding us of the central role of eighteenth-century Britain in this aesthetic movement.

In ch. 5, Rachel Zuckert compares another four eighteenth-century thinkers: Alexander Gerard, Lord Kames, Archibald Alison, and Dugald Stewart. She considers a specifically Scottish understanding of the sublime which she calls 'associative', in contrast to Burke and Kant. Putting terror at arm's length as a secondary response, she discusses the sublime as a mental process, an imaginative engagement with more dreadful reality, in order for it to be able to evoke pleasurable feelings. She concludes by considering how they do not provide a unified account, but allow a pluralist, open-ended account of the sublime which may be too diffuse to be useful, again demonstrating some of the tensions in this subject.

Where history has frequently prioritised Boileau as a starting-point for thinking about the sublime, Éva Madeleine Martin argues in ch. 6 that Boileau consolidates and advances strands of thought already evident in French aesthetics. She traces a French 'pre-history' for the sublime, including Racine and Balzac. Though discussing Longinus, she concentrates on the relationship between sublimity and the development of different branches of Christian thought, and then on the place of sublimity in political rhetoric. She is particularly concerned with the relationship between the terms 'merveilleux', 'meraviglioso', 'admiration' and 'ravissement' and with the spatial reach of sublimity as something both humble and elevating.

Paul Guyer negotiates a post-Kantian sublime (ch. 7). He focuses on Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche as responses to Kant, with more summary than discussion and no conclusion. Guyer concentrates on ideas of the subjective nature of the sublime and the role of the individual, moving from what he calls Kant's apotheosis of the individual to Nietzsche's dissolution of individual rationality. Along the way he incorporates comparisons of those philosophers' views on the art / nature distinction, the roles of transcendence and reason in the sublime, and consequently the sublime as both aesthetic and cognitive.

We are brought speedily into the twentieth century by David B. Johnson in ch. 8, whose discussion of the postmodern sublime covers Lyotard, Deleuze, Kristeva and Jameson. The emphasis is far more on the dark side of the sublime. He again couches his discussion as a response to Kant, focussing on Darstellung, 'the process through which the imagination presents sensible intuition to rational thought'. Johnson uses his four thinkers to offer four ways to undermine Kant, concentrating on conceptualising an unpresentable object, how important the sublime is, what its emotional baggage entails, and its relationship with art rather than nature.

Part 2 opens with John R. J. Eyck on the Dutch sublime (ch. 9), which he is keen to demonstrate is a real thing, and moreover one of intellectual and aesthetic value. The chapter is again couched in terms of a Kantian response, but looks at artists rather than philosophers, concentrating on Balthazar Huydecoper, Rhijnvis Feith, and Jacob Geel. He describes the Dutch sublime as 'subtle', and concludes with an insight into the value of studying practitioners, and the nature of intercultural interplay (as transplant not naturalisation).

Leaving Europe briefly, Chandos Michael Brown uses ch. 10 to set the sense of exploration across an unknown, vast, and terrifying landscape (America) as a sublime experience in contrast to European ideas and landscapes. His essay starts with a theoretical investigation of the ideological sublime, but moves to its application to landscape painting and various forms of literature, notably Thomas Cole.

In chapter 11, Emily Brady stops to consider the purpose of the book, writing engagingly about why the sublime has resurfaced as such an important concept now, that is, about its environmental significance. A historical argument suggests the sublime is no longer relevant in a world which has lost its sense of awe and wonder. Her metaphysical argument seeks to engage with the extent to which we have lost our metaphysical imagination. An anthropocentric argument considers the relational nature of the sublime (between man and nature) and how that works today. Brady finishes with the modern focus on ugliness and the sublime. The essay self-consciously opens up avenues of thought and promotes further investigation rather than setting down any theory.

Other chapters bring in aspects of religion, but in ch. 12 Andrew Chignell and Matthew C. Halteman make it the core topic, aiming for a theoretical and therefore generalised template of how religion works. They offer a fourfold taxonomy of theistic, spiritualistic, demythologistic, nontheistic sublimes. Before assessing each of these in turn, they set out their own preliminary understanding of the sublime, splitting the usual two phases (astonishment and pleasure) into three (bedazzlement, outstripping faculties, epiphany). They offer a fresh structure for thinking about the sublime, and tackle some key objections clearly in their discussion.

Given Burke's prominence, surprisingly little of this book focuses on Britain, but Adam Potkay does offer a chapter (13) devoted to the British Romantic sublime. He differentiates how the Romantics conceived of the sublime from how critics think they did, and the key difference is the place of morality. Couching his work as a response to Thomas Weiskel, Potkay uses Akenside, Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth to argue for a relationship between transcendent and moral sublimes, grounded in Longinus.

Theodore Gracyk frames ch. 14 through a vivid narrative which tries to relate a Rothko painting with all its depth of colour to its shallow, minimised reproduction on a postcard. He analyses what constitutes the fine arts from the eighteenth century onwards, concerned as they are with whether art is concerned (merely) with the representation of nature, or whether it is a sublime form in its own right – and, if so, whether that sublimity is owned or provoked. Offering no easy answers, he considers art and music, Europe and America (the latter supposedly free from European aesthetic shackles), style and content, and the place of beauty as a corollary to the sublime. These are familiar topics, perhaps, but here are set in a wide-ranging, fast-paced and thought-provoking discussion of well-known examples (Longinus, Addison, Batteux, Turner, Burke, Kant, Hardy).

In ch. 15, Etlin reads the history of architecture through a sublime lens. He first sets down a theoretical background whereby the sense of the infinite in the sublime can be represented architecturally, using the concept of the psychophysical sublime, and German categories of Einfühlung and Raümgefühl to differentiate between sublime experiences. He integrates literary and architectural sublimes through topics such as the gigantomachy, with a careful choice of examples including the Domus Aurea, the Pantheon, the Mausoleum of Diocletian, the Orthodox Baptistery in Ravenna, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, Hagia Sophia, and both Giulio Romano's Palazzo del Te, and Philibert Delorme's Château d'Anet. He concludes with a reading of the Gothic as magical, and the magical as sublime.

In general, the chapters are all thoughtful views of the one central topic. There is almost no internal referencing through the book, however, and in such an interlinked topic one might have hoped that an editor would have enabled this. A rare example is Potkay in ch. 13, who links back well to Heath in ch. 2, and the general focus on Longinus in the closing chapters round the book up well. Reading this book cover to cover, one does build up an interesting layered picture of the sublime, with a good range of interrelated views. Almost every chapter covers three or more different theorists, or theories, of the sublime. Almost all engage with or respond to Kant and / or Burke. This sometimes leads to repetitive ground-laying, but does hold the book together. It may be more useful for those looking to get a grounding in a particular set of approaches or theories. In ch. 14, Gracyk comments on the sublime nature of writing about the sublime (see Pope on Longinus at Essay on Criticism 675-80). There are some very well-written pieces in this collection, particularly in Part 2, but many of the essays are perhaps not easily accessible to non-specialist readers. While most chapters are very clearly structured, many lack overt introductions, or more often conclusions, which makes it hard to summarise easily how each chapter has advanced one's knowledge and understanding of the topic.

A collated bibliography was an ambitious project for a book of this scope, but the twenty pages at the end give a useful overall view of the topic. It will be of limited to use to anyone trying to plumb particular aspects of the sublime, but could offer some useful general starting points.

The production of the book is reasonably sound, with some room for improvement. The print is dense and not always easy to read. I noticed few typing errors per se, but both Costelloe's introduction and ch. 6 (Martin) included errors in the Greek (lack of breathings, miswritten words), and there was a disorientating inconsistency over whether or when to italicise Latin phrases throughout. A number of images are included. Unfortunately, they are all black and white, and often not well enough produced to illustrate the points being made. Sometimes they feel superfluous (I'm not sure much is added to ch. 12 by the photograph of the nude Freedomites on p. 196, for example). Occasionally more images would help, such as in ch. 14, where rich descriptions are given and illustrations are criticised, but for some examples the inclusion of an image might clarify the point being made and reduce the need for overly descriptive writing.

Table of Contents

"The sublime: A Short Introduction to a Long History" – Timothy Costelloe 1-7
1 "Longinus and the Ancient Sublime" – Malcolm Heath 11-23
2 "- …And the Beautiful? Revisiting Edmund Burke's 'Double Aesthetics'" – Rodolphe Gasché 24-36
3 "The Moral Source of the Kantian Sublime" – Melissa McBay Merritt 37-49
4 "Imagination and Internal Sense The Sublime in Shaftesbury, Reid, Addison, and Reynolds" – Timothy M. Costelloe 50-63.
5 "The Associative Sublime Gerard, Kames, Alison, and Stewart" – Rachel Zuckert 64-76
6 "The "Prehistory of the Sublime in Early Modern France An Interdisciplinary Perspective "- Éva Madeleine Martin 77-101
7 "The German Sublime After Kant" – Paul Guyer 102-117
8 "The Postmodern Sublime Presentation and Its Limits" – David B. Johnson 118-131
9 "The "Subtler" Sublime in Modern Dutch Aesthetics" – John R. J. Eyck 135-146
10 "The First American Sublime" – Chandos Michael Brown 147-170
11 "The Environmental Sublime" – Emily Brady 171-182
12 "Religion and the Sublime" – Andrew Chignell and Matthew C. Halteman 183-202
13 "The British Romantic Sublime" – Adam Potkay 203-216
14 "The Sublime and the Fine Arts" – Theodore Gracyk 217-229
15 "Architecture and the Sublime" – Richard A. Etlin 230-273
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Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Derek Krueger (ed.), Prayer and Worship in Eastern Christianities, 5th to 11th Centuries. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. xvii, 312. ISBN 9781472465689. $50.00 (hb). ISBN 9781315601977. ebook.

Reviewed by Laura Lieber, Duke University (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below]

This volume originated from papers presented at a three-day workshop held at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University (now renamed the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies) in Jerusalem, in June 2014. The subject of the workshop, prayer and worship in eastern Christianities from the fifth to eleventh centuries, is reflected in the title of the book. The authors represent a cross-section of the field: junior and senior scholars from the US, Europe, and Israel, writing on topics that span from late antiquity to the medieval period. With the exception of one essay (that by Hillel Newman), the pieces share a focus on elements of Christian ritual that may reflect doctrinal differences but reveal, upon deeper examination, continuity across communal and creedal boundaries.

While these studies share a common interest in religious practice, they display a wide array of approaches to the study of ritual and treat a diversity of specific subjects. The editors of the volume state explicitly that these essays were not assembled in order to provide a comprehensive history of Christian liturgy in antiquity; rather, they illustrate new trends in the analysis of such works with a particular focus on performance, transformation, transmission, and flexibility. The specific approaches taken in the essays vary widely, ranging from basic collection of data to theory-informed analysis of well-established texts and traditions. The works do not share a common theoretical or methodological frame of reference but cohere around a fairly precisely defined topic, namely the adaptability of prayer performance traditions over time.

The volume contains eleven chapters. It is not divided into subsections, although the arrangement of the chapters displays a clear organizational sense along topical lines. A brief introduction by the editors (who are themselves contributors) lays out the general scope of the volume and articulates the links among the ten subsequent essays. The essays themselves address an array of topics. The first two essays (chapters one and two) address questions regarding the efficacy of prayer in late antiquity, both in terms of interior perceptions of prayer (Bitton-Ashkelony) and practices that translate interiority into physical practices (Chialà). The next three essays (chapters three through five) address physical traces of prayer: the creation and transmission of prayer rubrics in the context of the Psalter (Stewart); epigraphic expressions of devotion and piety (Di Segni); and the transformations of such epigraphic evidence as forms not only of remembering but forgetting at a communal level (Yasin). The essay in chapter six turns from the monumental to the (potentially) mundane: the transformation of commonplace items, especially bread, into the Eucharist (Menze). In chapters six and seven, the volume's focus shifts to the liturgical components of ritual: how liturgy, consisting of specific words recited at a specific time in a specific context, can shape emotional experience (Krueger); and how liturgical preferences and sharing can reveal "pragmatic ecumenism" despite overt expressions of confessional dispute (Tannous). In the final three chapters, the scope continues to widen. Chapter nine addresses the phenomenon of "liturgical Byzantinization," in which the varied liturgies, lectionaries, and calendars that emerged in different areas and languages (here those practices surrounding the celebration of Christ's nativity) coalesced into a rough but lasting commonality (Galadza). The penultimate essay (chapter ten) explores the relationships between ritual and narrative in the context of "grief therapy." The author (Minov) draws comparisons not only with "pagan" mourning practices but also, at the end, with Zoroastrian materials as part of the larger societal context in which the Syriac writings took shape. The final chapter offers the only example of a paper in which differences—in this case, between Jews and Christians in regards to apocalyptic elements of liturgical poetry by Romanos and Qalir—are as thoroughly articulated as commonalities (Newman). Even in this case, however, the differences are regarded as reflective of a shared tradition that results in mutually- comprehensible "coherence."

As the above synopsis suggests, the volume offers an array of fairly technical essays that display the range of subjects and approaches currently being used to produce important scholarship in the study of early Christianity from late antiquity and the early Byzantine periods. Issues of philosophy, material culture, performance studies, affective studies, and intercultural penetration each find a voice here. The work is, without exception, firmly grounded in rigorous textual study. Three examples from the volume illustrate the technical yet sophisticated nature of the studies.

Leah Di Segni's contribution, "Expressions of Prayer in Late Antique Inscriptions in the Provinces of Palaestina and Arabia," treats the topic of "epigraphic prayer." Within this designation, Di Segni includes Greek-language inscriptions ranging from brief, rough graffiti to quotations from Scripture, which suggest more care and education. She treats inscribed petitions (e.g., "Lord [or Christ] remember" and "Lord, help!"—perhaps with a personal name included) as well as dedicatory and donor inscriptions. These brief texts are recovered within shrines, in venerated locations, or on the roads leading to such structures and places. Among the recovered epigraphic texts, Di Segni highlights those which include quotations from biblical texts (particularly associated with buildings of cultic significance). As she notes, most of these quotations come from Psalms, but she notes that the epigraphic quotations seem to serve a different function from those recited in a liturgical-devotional context. Within the essay, Di Segni conveys the diversity of this body of material in spatial, geographic, and functional terms. She includes a substantial table, ten pages in length, which lists inscriptions with scriptural quotations in Greek (including text quoted, location, nature of location [church, monastery, villa, etc.], bibliographic reference, and function) and provides English translations of the scriptural quotations referenced. The essay, while preliminary in nature and comparatively under-theorized, is thorough and gestures toward an important and under-utilized body of literature.

Volker Menze's essay, "The Power of the Eucharist in Early Medieval Syria," interprets prayer and ritual—specifically, the Eucharist—in a way that highlights easily overlooked class and economic elements of the performance. Menze draws attention to the fact that, in contrast to most other ritual objects, the Eucharist was intrinsically inexpensive and easily reproduced. Thus liturgical and material methods had to be applied to the bread in order to both imbue it with holiness and authenticate its manufacture. At the same time, the accessibility of Eucharistic bread meant that when it was taken out of the ritual world of the church, it could acquire unsanctioned magical and medical significance in the eyes (and lived realities) of the laity, despite the statements of ecclesiastical authorities. Menze's analysis brings together a variety of sources, both literary and material, in a sophisticated and elegant way.

Finally, Derek Krueger's chapter, "The Transmission of Liturgical Joy in Byzantine Hymns for Easter," retains a focus on literary works and their development—among the more conventional approaches to liturgical studies—but he attends carefully to easily overlooked, non-textual elements such as calendrical setting and performative context, and in doing so highlights "off the page" elements. He does so by being a sensitive, attentive reader and bringing current theoretical models to bear on them, notably affective and performative theory. In this essay, Krueger examines how liturgical poems created, shaped, and maintained an experiential atmosphere of joy as the congregation pivoted from the sorrow of the crucifixion to the wonder of resurrection, and how they similarly moderated the return to ordinary time—and ordinary emotion—as the holiday concluded. It is a technical piece, but thought-provoking in the best way.

This sampling of three essays—one on epigraphy, one on social class and material realia, and one on theory-informed literary analysis—suggests the rich if episodic nature of the volume. Its origins in a conference can be discerned in that the papers fit together somewhat loosely and address a wide variety of materials, topics, and concerns. The focus of each essay tends to be narrow, although many are framed in a way that indicates the larger significance of the project the author pursues. Furthermore, the editors have worked to revise the articles such that they read well and cohere in a larger sense. The volume does not offer definitive, sweeping understandings of prayer and worship in eastern Christian communities of late antiquity and the early Byzantine period, but it offers a kaleidoscopic sense of the variety of work being done in this field by some of the most notable scholars of the current moment. This is not a volume to read cover-to-cover; it does not offer a comprehensive state of the field nor does it muster a single strong argument. If, however, one wants a sense of some of the high level, solidly executed work being done in the field of early Christian liturgical studies by European and American academics, this is an excellent source.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
List of Contributors
"Introduction: Prayer, Worship, and Ritual Practice" (Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony and Derek Krueger)
1. "Theories of Prayer in Late Antiquity: Doubts and Practices from Maximos of Tyre to Isaac of Nineveh" (Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony)
2. "Prayer and the Body according to Isaac of Nineveh" (Sabino Chialà)
3. "Psalms and Prayer in Syriac Monasticism: Clues from Psalter Prefaces and their Greek Sources" (Columba Stewart)
4. "Expressions of Prayer in Late Antique Inscriptions in the Provinces of Palaestina and Arabia" (Leah Di Segni)
5. "Renovation and the Early Byzantine Church: Staging Past and Prayer" (Ann Marie Yasin)
6. "The Power of the Eucharist in Early Medieval Syria: Grant for Salvation or Magical Medication?" (Volker Menze)
7. "The Transmission of Liturgical Joy in Byzantine Hymns for Easter" (Derek Krueger)
8. "Greek Kanons and the Syrian Orthodox Liturgy" (Jack Tannous)
9. "Various Orthodoxies: Feasts of the Incarnation of Christ in Jerusalem during the First Christian Millennium" (Daniel Galadza)
10. "The Therapy for Grief and the Practice of Incubation in Early Medieval Palestine: The Evidence of the Syriac Story of a Woman from Jerusalem" (Sergey Minov)
11. "Apocalyptic Poems in Christian and Jewish Liturgy in Late Antiquity" (Hillel I. Newman)
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Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Andrew C. Johnston, The Sons of Remus: Identity in Roman Gaul and Spain. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2017. Pp. 420. ISBN 9780674660106. $49.95.

Reviewed by Myles Lavan, University of St Andrews (

Version at BMCR home site


This is an important study of the Roman empire in the west based on an impressive synthesis of epigraphic and literary material. The allusive title (The Sons of Remus, a nod to a foundation myth of the Remi) and generic subtitle (Identity in Roman Spain and Gaul) perhaps risk obscuring the two clear and important theses at its heart. This book is a powerful argument for the primacy of local identity in the Roman West (challenging the implications of the now ubiquitous language of 'becoming Roman') and for the importance of the pre-Roman past in the social memory of provincial communities (rebutting conventional accounts of a 'forgetful' West).

The argument is developed through a series of scintillating close readings of an extraordinarily rich array of epigraphic and literary texts. The close readings are grouped into five thematic chapters, framed by a brief Introduction and even briefer Conclusion.

Chapter 1 ('Selves') explores the communities that provincials of the Roman west represented themselves as belonging to. The extensive discussion covers a series of topics including the sub-divisions of civitates and municipia, practices for marking boundaries, local calendars and eras, and eponymous divinities. The central argument is that the identities that were most important for provincials were largely independent of Roman influence, because they were often grounded in collective memory of the pre-Roman past and often articulated at a local level that was 'beyond the practical and discursive reach of the Roman imperial apparatus' (p. 65).

Chapter 2 ('Others') analyses the evidence for interactions between provincial communities, both collaborative and antagonistic. Two larger points emerge. First, interaction often followed pre-Roman patterns, either in form (e.g. the use of hospitium agreements in Spain) or geographic extent (informal groupings sometimes reflect pre-Roman ethnic divisions, e.g. a collaboration between a sub-set of the civitates of Lusitania that shared an origin in the former ethnos of the Lusitani). Second, local identities were constructed in opposition to neighbouring communities, creating the potential for vicious conflict in moments of crisis.

Chapter 3 ('Local pasts') is a broadside against 'the long-standing assumption that the inhabitants of the western provinces were uninterested in their pasts' (p. 188). It develops two related arguments: that local communities constituted distinct 'memory communities' whose sense of self was rooted in memory of a shared past and that those local memories often extended into the pre-Roman past. The wide-ranging discussion gleans ethnographic literature for evidence of possible local foundation myths (an exercise necessarily involving some bold imaginative moves), highlights the richness of local memoryscapes (encompassing distinctive urbanisms, non-Latin monumental writing and cult sites in the landscape), gathers evidence of monuments memorialising local heroes and collates genealogies that reached back to the pre-Roman past.

Chapter 4 ('Roman Pasts') explores the role of the Roman past in local memory. The discussion traverses claims to Trojan ancestry by the Aedui and Arverni, stories that Saguntum (Arse) was founded from Italian Ardea, various local deployments of the iconography of Aeneas and Romulus, a mosaic from Albuterium that represents the final scene of the Aeneid (and may be attuned to Vergils' 'further voices'), local resonances of the Lupercalia, and the invention of connections to prominent figures in Republican history. Throughout, the emphasis falls both on the idiosyncrasies of provincial constructions of the Roman past ('localized, unconventional and non-canonical') and on their embeddedness in local politics and the construction of local indentity.

Chapter 5 ('Performances of Identity') foregrounds the question of agency, seeking to correct what it identifies as a widespread assumption that provincials played a passive role in the construction of their identity and culture. The rich and suggestive discussion ranges over the persistence of pre-Roman political offices, druidism ('primarily performative' in the imperial period, an example of provincials appropriating imperial stereotypes), the local identities constructed by Martial and Ausonius, and distinctively Gaulish elements in the funerary arrangements in the testamentum Lingonis. The chapter's target is something of a straw man, since an important strand of work in the 'Romanization' tradition has for several decades been stressing the importance of local agency in the transformation of provincial cultures, but this does not make the material and readings any less interesting.

This provocative and important contribution to the literature on identity in the western provinces is the fruit of extensive and profound research. Johnston demonstrates a very impressive command of the vast epigraphic record of the Gauls and Iberia, including much recent material, while showing himself equally at home developing insightful readings of sophisticated 'literary' writers such as Martial, Pompeius Trogus and even Pseudo-Plutarch. He also shows considerable dexterity with the archaeological literature where it is relevant to his argument, though texts remains very much the focus of attention.

It is perhaps a pity, given the book's significance, that Johnston did not take more time to situate it in relation to other scholarship on provincial society and culture. The very brief 8-page Introduction provides only a cursory frame for the argument. Johnston's main interlocutor is Greg Woolf, or rather two relatively early articles by Woolf that argued that provincials in the West – unlike the East – were 'forgetful' of the pre-Roman past.1 Johnston spends far less time contextualising his thesis about the primacy of local identity, though this is, if anything, even more important than the argument about memories of the pre-Roman past. He does align his book with David Mattingly's work on 'discrepant experience' in the provinces.2 But he does not discuss how it relates to other influential studies of the provincial experience, such as Greg Woolf's larger argument that what we call 'becoming Roman' 'did not involve becoming more alike the other inhabitants of the empire, so much as participating in a cultural system structured by systematic differences' or Clifford Ando's argument that the communicative action of the Roman state induced provincials to conceive of themselves as subjects of an imperial polity.3 Although Johnston represents his work as a reaction against recent scholarship, it seems to me more useful to think of it as a complement to, rather than rebuttal of, Woolf's analysis of social stratification and Ando's analysis of new forms of subjectivity that worked to legitimate imperial rule.

The compatibility of these different arguments become clearer if Johnston's argument is brought into dialogue with recent work on empire as a particular mode of organising large states. 'The creation of lasting unity out of an ever vibrant diversity' is not really 'a singular and in many respects enigmatic phenomenon', as Johnston's concluding remarks suggest (p. 282). The two most important influences on his conception of what constutes a community are the anthropologist James Brow's discussion of community, 'communalization' and social memory and Benedict Anderson's observation that a sense of 'deep horizontal comradeship' is one of the constitutive features of a nation.4 The idea of horizontal solidarity certainly helps to illuminate the political culture of the small city-states that constituted the empire and are the main focus of Johnston's book. But it is less helpful in understanding what it meant to be a citizen of one of those city states and a subject of the emperor. Empires are organised and conceived very differently than nation states. Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, in their world history of empire, have usefully formulated a fundamental distinction between nation states and empire: 'Empires are large political units ... that maintain distinction and hierarchy as they incorporate new people. The nation-state, in contrast, is based on the idea of a single people in a single territory constituting itself as a unique political community. The nation-state proclaims the commonality of its people—even if the reality is more complicated—while the empire-state declares the non-equivalence of multiple populations'.5 Johnston repeatedly argues that, far from 'becoming Roman, provincials remained 'local', and implies that that they did so despite incorporation into the empire. But this obscures the fact that, like other imperial structures, the Roman empire actively recognised and cemented ethnic and other forms of difference by, for example, organising the population of the empire into more than two-thousand largely-self governing communities and developing the administrative category of origo which ensured that all persons were clearly affiliated to one of these constituent communities. The 'robust' local identities so well illustrated by Johnston might more usefully be seen as the result of a collaboration between local agency and imperial structures rather than a failure of the latter.

I should also observe that the book sidelines any question of chronological developments. The only time horizon that matters for its argument is that between the Roman period and the pre-Roman past. The discussion regularly flits back and forth between the first century BCE and the fourth CE, as if nothing had changed in the interim. This is obviously the result of a decision to focus on continuity rather than change, a decision that makes sense given the book's central objectives. But it means foregoing the opportunity to explore how the relationship between local communities and imperial structures may have evolved over the course of five centuries of Roman rule in the West.

These are relatively minor reservations about how Johnston has represented the significance of his argument. They should not be allowed to detract from the importance of this book and its clear, powerfully argued and richly documented case for the diversity of local communities in the West and their primacy as foci of belonging for their inhabitants.


1.   G. Woolf (1996), 'The uses of forgetfulness in Roman Gaul', in H.-J. Gehrke and A. Möller, eds., Vergangenheit und Lebenswelt. Soziale Kommunikation, Traditionsbildung und historisches Bewußtein, Tübingen; Woolf, G. (1997), 'Beyond Romans and natives', World Archaeology 28: 339-50.
2.   Most recently D. J. Mattingly (2014), 'Identities in the Roman world: discrepancy, heterogeneity, hybridity, and plurality', in L. R. Brody and G. L. Hoffman, eds., Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire, Chestnut Hill, MA, 35-59.
3.   G. Woolf (1998), Becoming Roman: The Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul, Cambridge (quote from p. 242), mentioned briefly at p. 366 n. 69. C. Ando (2000), Imperial ideology and provincial loyalty in the Roman empire, Berkeley, cited once at p 342 n. 142.
4.   J. Brow (1990), 'Notes on community, hegemony, and the uses of the past', Anthropological Quarterly 63.1: 1-6. B. Anderson (2006), Imagined Communities: Reflections of the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 2nd ed., London; New York.
5.   J. Burbank and F. Cooper (2010), Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference, Princeton (quote from p. 8).

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Monday, November 27, 2017


Stephen E. Potthoff, The Afterlife in Early Christian Carthage: Near-Death Experience, Ancestor Cult, and the Archaeology of Paradise. Routledge studies in the early Christian world. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. xiii, 240. ISBN 9781138182981. $149.95.

Reviewed by Scott G. Bruce, University of Colorado at Boulder (

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The rich textual and material remains of late Roman North Africa between the early third and early fifth centuries have attracted many scholars of ancient Christianity. As a result, the southern littoral of the late antique Mediterranean has become one of the most vivid settings in our historical imagination. Based on a dissertation completed in the early 1990s, Stephen Potthoff's book explores accounts of near-death visions and encounters with ghosts in this familiar place, while at the same time examining the activities of early Christians at gravesites and symbols of the afterlife on funerary monuments. Over the course of eight chapters, he treats the following topics: visionary journeys to paradise in the ancient Mediterranean (ch. 1), the cult of ancestors in early Christian Rome (ch. 2), the material evidence for graveside commemoration in Carthage (ch. 3), thoughts and debates about the postmortem fate of the dead in the writings of Tertullian (ch. 4), Cyprian (ch. 5), and Augustine (ch. 6), the archaeology of Christian cemeteries in North Africa at the time of Augustine (ch. 7), and the language and images of paradise on funerary inscriptions and sarcophagi (ch. 8).

Unfortunately, Potthoff's book manages to summarize much that is old without taking due account of all that is new. While drawing heavily from the work of scholars who published before 1995, Potthoff's treatment of more recent historiography is disappointing. For example, the book takes no account of the most significant work on late Roman funerary culture and early Christian identity published between Brent Shaw's classic "Seasons of Death: Aspects of Mortality in Ancient Rome" (1996) and Eric Rebillard's paradigm-changing Christians and their Many Identities in Late Antiquity: North Africa, 200-450 CE (2012).1 The failure to incorporate the insights of Rebillard's book, let alone his many articles on these topics, undermines the arguments of the volume under review because it is now impossible to talk about late antique Christians as a homogenous body of like-minded believers.2 Moreover, Potthoff's primary contribution—the comparison of the visions of ancient Christian martyrs to modern near-death experiences—is not very convincing nor particularly useful as a heuristic for understanding the ancient world. Lastly, his reliance on outdated translations of primary source materials and his failure to acknowledge modern editions of the texts he uses as evidence do not meet the standards of scholarship that one expects of a modern monograph.3


1.   Brent Shaw, "Seasons of Death: Aspects of Mortality in Ancient Rome," JRS 86 (1996): 100-138. Eric Rebillard, Christians and their Many Identities in Late Antiquity: North Africa, 200-450 CE (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012), see my review in BMCR 2013.05.28.
2.   Conveniently collected and translated in Eric Rebillard, Transformations of Religious Practices in Late Antiquity (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2014).
3.   See p. 118: "Unless otherwise noted, all English translations are from the ANF [Ante-Nicene Fathers] series; Latin, with corresponding numeration, is from the PL [Patrologia Latina] series."

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Claude Calame, La tragédie chorale: poésie grecque et rituel musical. Mondes anciens. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2017. Pp. 256. ISBN 9782251447049. €29.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Louise Bruit Zaidman, ANHIMA (Anthropologie et Histoire des Mondes antiques) UMR 8210 (

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Table des Matières

Les sept chapitres de cet ouvrage se présentent comme l'aboutissement d'un long travail sur les poétiques grecques, mené dans des cadres divers et qui ont donné lieu à plusieurs publications autour de la voix chorale dans la tragédie grecque (rappel pages 17–18 et dans la bibliographie 235–237). Dans cette enquête, comme dans toute son activité d'enseignant et de chercheur, Claude Calame donne une place primordiale à la question de la méthode, et on ne s'étonnera pas de voir ce dernier ouvrage s'ouvrir sur un « prélude méthodologique » (pp. 11–19) où il revendique une approche d'anthropologue et d'ethnopoéticien à l'égard des textes grecs et de la tragédie.

L'ouvrage se propose d'enquêter sur « la dimension chorale de tragédies attiques représentées à Athènes dans la seconde partie du Ve siècle », dimension oubliée, selon l'auteur, par la plupart de ceux qui se sont intéressés à la tragédie, notamment en France, jusqu'à ces dernières années. Au lieu de mettre l'accent sur l'action tragique et sur le héros tragique (héritage de l'approche aristotélicienne), Calame entend revenir à la dimension musicale et rituelle de « ces manifestations de poétique culturelle en acte » dont l'analyse relève d'une anthropologie sensible « au contexte rituel, institutionnel politique et religieux » de l'Athènes du Ve siècle.

Les trois premiers chapitres définissent les modalités de la « performance musicale tragique » qui unissent le poète et son public dans le contexte religieux, politique et culturel de la représentation dans le théâtre de Dionysos. Les trois chapitres suivants confrontent les résultats obtenus à trois tragédies : les Perses d'Eschyle, l'Hippolyte d'Euripide, l'Œdipe-Roi de Sophocle. Le dernier chapitre est une conclusion en forme de retour à la question des origines, du point de vue des formes poétiques, narratives et rituelles. Ainsi seront convoqués successivement le dithyrambe de Bacchylide, et le nome citharodique de Stésichore, qui aboutissent à définir la tragédie attique autant comme une « institution chorale » (p. 219) que comme une action héroïque dramatisée. Dans le cadre de cette institution, le spectateur est invité à une participation « rituelle, affective et intellectuelle », favorisée par une « identification chorale » à laquelle contribue la compétence musicale du public.

Calame convoque d'abord (ch.1), pour prendre ses distances d'avec elles, les conceptions romantiques et nietzschéenne de la tragédie qui dissocient action tragique et performance musicale pour aboutir à une interrogation sur l'essence du tragique et une focalisation sur l'action des héros. A l'inverse, Calame part des « catégories indigènes » pour montrer que, « dans sa définition indigène, la tragédie antique est fondamentalement chorale » (p. 41). Le chapitre 2 revient longuement sur les aspects rituels et cultuels de la tragédie attique. Calame examine d'abord la place du rite dans la tragédie, puis la tragédie comme rite. Si la tragédie est bien la dramatisation d'un épisode du passé héroïque, elle l'est sous une forme qui associe étroitement la dimension vocale, musicale et chorégraphique. Pratique musicale chantée et dansée, le drame tragique est en lui-même une offrande à la divinité, au premier chef à Dionysos, dans le cadre des Grandes Dionysies, « une pratique religieuse fortement ritualisée » (p. 91).

Le chapitre 3 est consacré à l'étude du groupe choral en termes d'identité (dramatique, politique et de genre), et sur son rôle de médiateur. Il assure en effet une médiation entre les protagonistes de l'action dramatique et le public, entre le temps et l'espace héroïque mis en scène par l'action et la réalité historique, politique, religieuse et sociale dans laquelle se déroule la représentation, enfin entre les hommes et les dieux.

Les trois tragédies retenues comme exemple et illustration de cette lecture offrent chacune au chœur une place et un rôle spécifique. Calame insiste dans un premier temps sur « l'identité dramatique du chœur des Perses » (ch. 4) qui fait de l'ensemble de la tragédie « un thrène dramatisé et dramatique » (p. 138). Il montre ensuite comment « la voix chorale de l'émotion » transforme la défaite perse de Salamine en tragédie universelle qui s'adresse au spectateur athénien du théâtre de Dionysos, public citoyen et grec, ici concerné en même temps en tant qu' homme mortel.

Le chœur principal de l'Hippolyte (ch. 5) est composé quant à lui de femmes appartenant aux bonnes familles de Trézène. Mais un chœur secondaire, composé de jeunes choreutes compagnons d'Hippolyte, souligne l'opposition des rapports sociaux d'âge et de sexe au cœur de la tragédie, incarnés par le héros et Phèdre. L'alternance des deux chœurs dans le troisième stasimon serait significative de l'ambiguïté sexuelle du héros. La tension entre le développement dramatique de la narration et la distribution genrée des voix du chœur, se résout dans la conclusion rituelle et étiologique de la tragédie.

Enfin, dans l'Œdipe-Roi, (ch. 6) où toute l'attention est traditionnellement captée par la figure d'Œdipe, incarnation, s'il en fut, du destin héroïque, et devenu paradigme du « héros tragique », Calame s'attache à montrer comment les interventions du chœur, protagoniste constant de l'action, encadrent les péripéties du drame auquel elles confèrent « une dimension de forte ritualité religieuse » (p. 177) tout en définissant pour le spectateur athénien la condition de mortel.

Ce livre réussit brillamment à rendre à la tragédie sa dimension chorale, c'est à dire à rétablir la place du chœur dans cette manifestation complexe offerte par la cité athénienne du V° siècle à ses dieux, place si difficile à restituer dans les mises en scène modernes. Car la tragédie attique est ici réaffirmée comme offrande rituelle à l'occasion des Dionysies, dans sa dimension musicale et chorégraphique. Calame a recours pour sa démonstration, à sa science et pratique de longue date de la linguistique, de la philologie et de la narratologie, en soumettant les textes à une analyse serrée. Mais il a en même temps pour objectif de les replacer dans leur contexte social et historique. Cette double perspective textuelle et pragmatique contribue à situer sa démarche dans le contexte des recherches, notamment anglo-saxonnes, sur la choralité de la tragédie d'une part 1, et dans le courant de la « nouvelle » ethnopoétique d'autre part.2 Le souci de précision et d'exhaustivité dans la référence linguistique conduit parfois à une accumulation de formules dont la répétition peut paraître alourdir l'exposé. Mais la pertinence des analyses et des conclusions qu'en tire Calame s'impose et sa démonstration est très convaincante. Ce volume est une belle illustration de la voie originale tracée par l'auteur au fil de ses publications.


1.   Parmi de très nombreuses références on notera les renvois aux travaux sur ce sujet de Ch. Segal, A. Henrichs, G. Nagy.
2.   Voir La voix actée, pour une nouvelle ethnopoétique sous la direction de Claude Calame, Florence Dupont, Bernard Lortat-Jacob, Maria Manca, éds. Kimé, 2010.

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David D. Phillips, Polybius, Book 1: A Commentary. Ann Arbor: Michigan Classical Press, 2016. Pp. 269. ISBN 9780979971372. $65.00 (hb).

Reviewed by Daniel Walker Moore, University of Virginia (

Version at BMCR home site

Teachers and students reading Polybius in Greek will find this commentary to be a useful asset for understanding the language and context of the first book of the Histories. Since the publication of Walbank's monumental commentary in three volumes (1956, 1967, and 1979) on the surviving portions of Polybius' Histories, scholars have been wary of producing commentaries in English on this historian. Perhaps Walbank's extensive efforts have seemed to exhaust the need for further comment, or perhaps his shadow has simply been too intimidating. But, as Phillips notes in his preface (p. 1), Walbank's invaluable contribution to Polybian scholarship focuses primarily on historical (and historiographical) issues while offering little aid with grammar, syntax, or vocabulary to first-time readers of Polybius. This new commentary fulfills that need. By its own account (p. 1), "the majority of the notes here are intended to explain Polybius' Greek." This effort is especially welcome since, while Polybius' relatively simple prose makes this an accessible text for students learning to read Greek, the type of assistance provided by this commentary becomes an important guide for the unique style of koinē Greek and often technical vocabulary of this Hellenistic historian. I recommend this commentary as a companion text for students reading Polybius in Greek at the advanced undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or early graduate levels. Students reading Greek at the intermediate level would require a commentary of this sort, but I am skeptical that Polybius is an appropriate author for this level. Career scholars and graduate students pursuing advanced research on Polybius will find that Walbank remains the primary resource for in-depth analysis of the difficult questions arising from Polybius' first book.

After addressing the purpose of this commentary in the preface, Phillips includes an eight-page, general Introduction to Polybius' life and work. The brief overview of what is known about Polybius' life is supported by cross-references to relevant passages in Polybius' text beyond what is found specifically in Book One. While useful, this practice – frequently employed by the author throughout the commentary for historical references as well – means that complete understanding of the notes requires access to a full translation of the rest of Polybius' work. The discussion which follows in the Introduction contains a summary of the contents of the entire Histories as well as sections presenting Polybius' views on the important historiographical topics of pragmatikē historia, universal history, and causation (pp. 5-11). Here, the author's general approach is to let Polybius speak for himself through quotations from the Histories, while there is less discussion of the broader significance of these passages. Again, the purpose here is to provide enough context for the reader to understand the text of Book One, not to produce a complete account of the extensive scholarship on these topics. This is followed by a more specific outline of the contents of Book One and discussion of the distinct nature of Polybius' first two books as introductory material (prokataskeuē) to the more extensive narrative beginning in Book Three (pp. 11-14). The Introduction concludes with a section on the distinctive language, style, and tone of Polybius' Greek (pp. 14-18). Phillips acknowledges the relatively simple style of Polybius' prose but shares the view of an increasing chorus of scholars suggesting that this text is, nevertheless, composed with some degree of artistry and skill. The author concludes by rightly emphasizing the importance of Polybius both as a historical source and for the insights which he provides on the nature of Hellenistic historiography.

This book next includes the complete text of Book One of Polybius. Just like the Loeb edition by Paton (1922; revised by Walbank and Habicht, 2010-12), Phillips' text is based on the Teubner edition of Büttner-Wobst (1905) with minimal emendation. For sixty- three pages (pp. 19-82), the Greek text continues unbroken by a single English word and only divided by the standard chapter (88) and section divisions. In a classroom setting, this format offers the advantage of forcing students to engage directly and exclusively with the Greek text (as opposed to commentaries which offer running vocabulary or translation assistance on the same page). While the visual effect of this layout is daunting – especially for students relatively new to extended Greek texts – this format is ultimately preferable for teaching (and learning) Greek.

Phillips' extensive commentary on the text of Book One follows (pp. 83-245). Here, Book One is divided into thematic sections corresponding to the outline provided in the Introduction (pp. 12-13). While these divisions are helpful both for mitigating the intimidating effects of the unbroken Greek text and for orienting readers in the broader narrative of Book One, brief introductions at the start of each new section might have further benefited readers.

The notes on Polybius' Greek provided in this commentary are thorough and well-researched, as consistent cross-references to the LSJ, Denniston, Smyth, and (less frequently) Goodwin demonstrate. Such references are a valuable tool for training students in the use of these necessary resources for mastery of ancient Greek. Whenever possible, Phillips' approach is to provide just enough assistance for readers to work out Polybius' meaning on their own. Thus, his notes frequently describe the grammar and syntax of a passage or provide definitions for atypical vocabulary without giving a full translation. For example, instead of translating the verb ἐγεννᾶτο (1.67.2), the author advises readers "distinguish from ἐγίνοντο below." For especially difficult passages, such as Polybius' overly technical description of the so-called crows (κόρακες) used by the Romans to grapple enemy ships (1.22.4-10), Phillips offers his full translation of the passage; but, even here, he includes explanations of grammar and vocabulary that guide readers through the process of translation. Such an approach again makes this commentary especially appropriate for students learning to read Greek, as it enables them to arrive at proper translations themselves. Phillips does not, however, include any further discussion of the significance of this technological innovation by the Romans; Walbank (1: 77-8) remains the chief resource for such in-depth commentary. For words and phrases repeated by Polybius throughout Book One (e.g ἔχων, 1.22.4), Phillips frequently refers readers back to his initial comment on the subject; thus, it will be necessary for students to have access to the complete commentary even if only reading later sections of Book One. When Polybius' expression or grammar differs significantly from what one would expect in Attic Greek, Phillips is keen to note this with parallel Attic constructions. In explaining his translation "through the punishment (inflicted) on them" (1.7.12), for example, he notes that "in place of εἰς ἐκείνους Attic Greek more usually employs an objective genitive ἐκείνων."

In his notes, Phillips provides only enough historical context to orient the reader, rather than offering extended historical analysis such as one would find in Walbank. At the introduction of Philip V (1.3.1), for example, the author briefly summarizes the historical background of this Macedonian king but does not discuss Polybius' characterization of this figure. When Polybius makes mention in Book One of events narrated in more detail elsewhere in his work, Phillips provides cross-references to Polybius rather than recount events himself (e.g. 1.3.1 on the Social War). Where applicable, he will also cite passages from other historians – such as Livy – for more complete narratives. Phillips helpfully provides more historical context than usual in his notes on Polybius' summary of Roman history (1.6-10, pp. 94-102), because of the rather oblique nature of Polybius' outline.

In his notes on specific words and phrases in Greek, Phillips proves an astute reader of Polybius. At the conclusion of Polybius' opening paragraph, where the historian claims that his reader will benefit from the empeiria provided by his work, Phillips – unlike others who simply translate this word here as "knowledge" – is careful to note the more literal definition of "experience," although he does not comment on this significance of Polybius' unorthodox application of the term here to the study of history. For complicated but historiographically significant terms in Polybius, Phillips again offers useful but limited commentary. On the definition of historia in Polybius (1.3.8), Phillips discusses three meanings of the term, all related to the study, the record, or the events of history. He does not discuss the more general definition of "inquiry" found outside of Book One in Polybius (e.g. 9.14.1) nor, in this case, does he provide references to the use of the term in other Greek authors (most notably Herodotus, 1. praef). On the especially fraught meaning of tuchē in Polybius (1.4.1), Phillips offers an excellent and easily digestible summary of the various definitions employed by Polybius with brief citation of secondary literature on this much-discussed topic. I do question Phillips' translation of Polybius use of the phrase ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν (1.1.2; cf. 1.66.10) to qualify the generalization that all (πάντες) previous historians have asserted the benefits of history. Phillips' translation of "so to speak" – although an often used and (seemingly) literal translation of this Greek phrase – is more typically used in English to mark an unusual or metaphorical turn-of- phrase. A more appropriate example of this in Greek is Polybius' subsequent use of the phrase ὡς ἂν εἰ (1.3.3), which Phillips alternatively (but accurately) translates "as it were," to qualify the use of the term σποράδας (scattered) as applied the nature of historical events prior to the outbreak of the Second Punic War. A more fitting translation of the initial phrase (ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν) would be "to put it in a word" or simply "almost," i.e. to acknowledge the over-generalization inherent in the adjective πάντες (LSJ s.v. ἔπος, II.4).

Phillips' commentary includes notes on unusual Greek accentuation (e.g. Φόλουιον, 1.36.10); difficult to recognize verb forms (e.g. ἐπανενεχθεισῶν, 1.17.1); and rhetorical figures (e.g. prolepsis, 1.4.3; and hendiadys, 1.4.10) with cross-references to Smyth. Dog owners will especially appreciate Phillips' astute observation of the various implications of canine tail-wagging as it relates to Polybius' cryptic use of the verb συσσαίνομαι to describe common reactions to listening to the Phoenician language (1.80.6).

The Glossary to this book is an exhaustive list of Greek words discussed in the commentary. There is no index of topics, events, or names mentioned in the text or notes. For such matters, the scholar of Polybius must continue to consult Walbank; for basic help understanding the Greek text of Polybius' first book, this commentary by Phillips is now the primary resource.

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