Friday, December 7, 2018


Zoe Stamatopoulou, Hesiod and Classical Greek Poetry: Reception and Transformation in the Fifth Century BCE. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. x, 270. ISBN 9781107162990. $99.99.

Reviewed by Oliver Passmore, University of Law (

Version at BMCR home site


Stamatopoulou's book is the latest intervention on a topic that has enjoyed considerable scholarly attention in the past decade: the reception of Hesiod and his poems in antiquity. Other recent studies have considered Plato's engagement with Hesiod, later retellings of Hesiod's Myth of the Races, and the reception of the Works and Days, to which we can add Koning's encyclopaedic volume.1 Stamatopoulou supplements this collection by examining the reception of the Hesiodic poems in fifth-century BC lyric and drama, an area neglected in previous works. It is a rich study, encompassing an impressive range of texts and genres, which the author proves equally adept at handling. The book is based on close readings of a number of key texts against the Hesiodic corpus, a fruitful approach that will make the study of interest to scholars and accessible to students. It is meticulously researched, extensively footnoted and lucidly written.

My overall assessment of the book is that it is a learned, solid piece of scholarship offering a number of insightful readings of fifth-century poetry's engagement with Hesiod. The author also deserves credit for the thoroughness of her research and the ambitiousness of the book's scope. My main criticism relates to the coherence of the book as a whole. Those looking for an argument unifying the study will be disappointed; the chapters serve more as episodic treatments of particular aspects of engagement with Hesiodic poetry by Classical poets. This in itself is not a flawed approach, and those interested in specific texts treated by Stamatopoulou will learn much from her detailed discussions. However, I was often left wondering how it all fit together, with the result being that the bigger questions — How does this change our understanding of Hesiod's place in fifth-century literary culture? What are the stakes for Hesiod's own poems and for his Classical interlocutors? — are only indirectly answered. All that said, Stamatopoulou should be congratulated for the impressive achievement of learning represented by this book.

The monograph is divided into roughly two halves, the first of which examines the poetry of Pindar and Bacchylides, with the second turning to drama. From here it is organised into chapters addressing lyric poetics in Hesiod, Pindar and Bacchylides (Ch. 1), lyric poetry's use of Hesiod's mythical narratives (Ch. 2), lyric's use of his gnomic or didactic material (Ch. 3), Hesiodic narratives in Tragedy (Ch. 4), and the appropriation of Hesiodic material by Old Comedy (Ch. 5).

The introduction serves to demonstrate the authoritative status of Hesiod and the wide circulation of his poems within the fifth century BC, as a basis for the intense engagement of lyric and drama with them. The author begins by defining the Hesiodic corpus for the purposes of her study. She rightly distinguishes debates about the existence of an historical figure Hesiod from the question of what, for fifth-century audiences, would have constituted his oeuvre. The various poems that were either attributed to Hesiod already in antiquity or whose Hesiodic authorship has been assumed in modern scholarship, including slightly more obscure poems like the Astronomia, are first introduced and discussed. She claims as a working assumption that a fairly circumscribed group of poems were in circulation under the name of Hesiod at a Panhellenic level already by the fifth century BC. These would have included at least the core repertoire of the Theogony, Works and Days, the Shield of Heracles, the Catalogue of Women and the Megalai Ehoiai. While some variation within these poems at an early stage can be assumed due to the oral nature of their transmission and performance, the canon became more stable in the fifth century.

Chapter 1 considers the relationship between Hesiodic and lyric poetics. Two connected areas are explored here: firstly, the way in which Hesiod's own claims to poetic truth and authority, particularly in the Theogony, potentially influence Pindar's and Bacchylides' poetic positioning; and, secondly and more extensively, the way in which these lyric poets appropriate Hesiodic poetry and invoke the person of Hesiod more directly as a way of establishing their own lyric voices. The latter is treated through discussions of Bacchylides' Ode 5, where the poet famously recalls the words of the 'Boeotian man Hesiod', as well as Ode 3 and Pindar's Paean 7b. I was most convinced by the analysis of the first of these passages, which involved a subtle reading of Bacchylides' allusion to both Theogony 81–103 and Works and Days 1–8.

Chapter 2 focuses on lyric's use of Hesiod's mythical narratives. Rather than providing an exhaustive account of places where lyric engages with Hesiodic myth, the chapter is built on a number of case studies, all of them taken from Pindar. Here and elsewhere, the author does not fully explain her near-exclusive focus on Pindar (and Bacchylides) as exponents of lyric, at the expense of other lyric authors and texts. The first case study is the description of Typhoeus in Pythian 1, where engagement with the Theogony, as is noted (p. 53), has been underappreciated. The main argument here is that Pindar combines reference to Hesiod's Panhellenic version with details tailored to his Sicilian audience, which itself supports (the addressee) Hieron's political purposes. The next sections examine two female figures, Coronis and Cyrene, who feature in Pythians 3 and 9 respectively. The attempt to read P3.24–37 against Hesiod fr.71/60 was intriguing, but to my mind the evidence is pushed slightly further than the texts allow, while the conclusion (p. 76) that Apollo's wrath towards Coronis is due to his fear that Asclepius will become a bastard needs further support. The chapter concludes by examining Ixion's progeny in Pythian 2, where it is argued that Pindar's perverted genealogical description must be understood against the model provided by Hesiod in the Catalogue and the ME. Here and in the preceding two sections, the author does a good job of teasing out information from fragmentary Hesiodic material, but her conclusions can remain only provisional.

Chapter 3 explores the use of Hesiod's didactic poetry by Pindar. Through a study of Isthmian 6 and Pythian 6, it considers how Pindar appropriates Hesiodic precepts and applies them within his specific laudatory contexts. Beyond these two odes, however, it argues that lyric rarely if ever invokes Hesiod's didactic authority directly. The discussion of I. 6 I found especially stimulating; it considers Pindar's reference to Lampon's use of a Hesiodic gnome — identified by the author as WD 412 — in v. 66–7, and to a more oblique reference to the same apothegm by Bacchylides in Ode 13.190–2. As the author points out, this raises important questions about the detachability and use of discrete Hesiodic statements in different contexts, an issue explored extensively by Canevaro in her recent book.2 A more tentative example of Pindar's inclusion of Hesiodic didactic material comes in P. 6, where it is argued that vv. 23–7 paraphrase precepts from the Chironos Hypothekai, based on a reference to this work in the scholia. Both discussions demonstrate great sensitivity in their treatment of the complex poetic embedding of Hesiod by Pindar, and the interesting dialogue of didactic voices it produces. I would, however, dispute the conclusion that these examples obscure Hesiodic didactic authority (p. 118) in favour of something more subtle. The chapter concludes by arguing that examples of the explicit invocation of Hesiod's didactic poetry should be treated differently from those instances where gnomai are introduced without attribution and/or clear verbal echoes of Hesiod. While the content of the latter may overlap with Hesiodic wisdom, they would probably have been understood as expressing conventional ideas not associated with a specific author or authority. The author supports her case once more by reference to the scholia, which regularly quote passages of Hesiod (typically the WD) in order to explicate gnomai found in Pindar without seeking to trace their source back to Hesiod. This seems a sound conclusion as far as the interpretation of Pindar by the scholiasts goes, but it raises further, more profound, questions about the nature of quotation and allusion in archaic Greek poetry that merit a more extensive treatment, as well as more robust engagement with recent bibliography on this subject.

Chapter 4 is the first of two long chapters exploring engagement with Hesiod by the dramatists, beginning with tragedy. Its main case studies are Aeschylus' Prometheus plays and Euripides' Ion. After briefly surveying the evidence for the composition and performance of the Aeschylean tetralogy of which Prometheus Bound and Prometheus Lyomenos are believed to have been a part, the chapter considers how they use Hesiod's poems as a foil for their own more complex presentation of Zeus's rule, especially in Prometheus Bound. While Zeus's two main mouthpieces in the play, Kratos and Hermes, adopt a distinctly 'Hesiodic' view of Prometheus's crimes, presenting Prometheus as a rebellious transgressor and Zeus as a beneficent ruler, Prometheus on the other hand proceeds to revise Hesiod's account, particularly in explaining the purpose of his theft of fire and his role in Zeus's rise to power. This section is very successful in showing how Prometheus Bound probes Hesiod's largely unproblematic presentation of the succession myth in order to explore issues of power, intelligence and violence, and I found it extremely illuminating. This discussion is supported by a more tentative but to my mind convincing section arguing that Io's role in the play needs to be understood as a further aspect of its critique of the Hesiodic world view, this time as presented in the Catalogue of Women. Two further brief sections argue, firstly, that Prometheus's release in Prometheus Lyomenos may reflect a tradition, attested in one version of the Works and Days, of Zeus eventually being reconciled to the Titans; and secondly that, based on the fragmentary and second-hand evidence we have, the Aeschylean satyr-play Prometheus Pyrkaeus may engage specifically with the account of Prometheus and Epimetheus contained in the Works and Days. The chapter concludes with a less strong section on Euripides' Ion, arguing that it also critiques genealogical poetry like that of Hesiod by giving expression to Creousa's female voice.

The final chapter turns to Old Comedy. This is an eclectic chapter, which considers multiple aspects of the reception of Hesiod in (mainly) Aristophanes, including the depiction of Hesiod himself as a comic character: speculatively in Cratinus' Archilochoi, as a way of reminding the audience of Homer's unsuccessful contest with Hesiod vis-à-vis the play's present depiction of a poetic competition between the former and Archilochus, and more concretely in Teleclides' Hesiodoi. The bulk of the chapter focusses on the engagement of Birds' with Hesiodic narratives, arguing that the playwright inscribes his play within the Hesiodic tradition while at the same time offers a bold rewriting of his predecessor's cosmic vision. One specific claim here is that the Titanomachy/Hesiod succession myth provides a crucial paradigm for understanding themes in Birds that are separate from the play's long-appreciated engagement with the Gigantomachy. The author pursues this line of argument persuasively and with skill.

To sum up: Stamatopoulou offers a rich and wide-ranging study of the reception of Hesiod's poems and persona in fifth-century Greek poetry. Notwithstanding the broad and specific criticisms set out above, the book will be essential reading for scholars engaged in this growing area of enquiry, as well as for students of Hesiod's poems and Classical Greek poetry more discretely.

I spotted one typo (p. 175, 'Yet I suggest that there may <be> a more compelling factor…'). Otherwise, CUP has once again demonstrated very high editorial standards.


1.   Boys-Stones, G. R. and Haubold, J., eds., Plato and Hesiod (Oxford, 2010). Noordon, H. van, Playing Hesiod. The 'Myth of the Races' in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge, 2015). Hunter, R., Hesiodic Voices: Studies in the Ancient Reception of Hesiod's Works and Days (Cambridge, 2014). Koning, H. H., Hesiod: The Other Poet. Ancient Reception of a Cultural Icon (Leiden, 2010).
2.   Canevaro, L. G., Hesiod's Works and Days: How to Teach Self-Sufficiency (Oxford, 2015).

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Lucia Cecchet, Anna Busetto (ed.), Citizens in the Graeco-Roman World: Aspects of Citizenship from the Archaic Period to AD 212. Mnemosyne Supplements, 407. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2017. Pp. xi, 341. ISBN 9789004346680. $133.00.

Reviewed by Andrea Raggi, Università di Pisa (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Publications on grants and rights of citizenship in the classical world, on integration of foreigners, as well as on comparison between ancient and modern practices, in parallel to growing issues in modern times concerning inclusion of minorities in civic bodies and migration, have increased substantially over the past decades,1 often in order to argue that ancient societies were more inclined to receive outsiders than many modern-day ones.2 Along these lines, the editors of the volume under review state in the Preface that the original idea of the book was prompted by a conference held in Urbino, Italy, on 10-11 April 2014,3 where the purpose was to investigate these issues, all very relevant to the world in which we live. As a matter of fact, the volume provides readers with an insight into the origin, expansion and transformation in time and space of citizen bodies in the Greek and Roman world, starting from the Archaic period to the major change effected by the emperor Caracalla in 212 AD; nonetheless, as it is clearly stated by the sub-title, it investigates Aspects of Citizenship in the ancient world, and has not the scope to cover all the questions on the issue.

The Introduction by Lucia Cecchet is a valuable overview of the subject matter (variety of civic organisations in the Greek world, the 'imperial' expansion of Roman citizenship, differences between the Greek and Roman worlds)4 and of the questions which to a certain extent still remain open (the origin of the citizen bodies, the extent of participation in political life, the relations between citizens and non-citizens, the working principles of multiple citizenship), and ends with a useful summary of the essays assembled in the volume.

The book is divided into three parts. The first and second section are more consistent in terms of an analysis of the issues under discussion, while the third section is an extension which the editors perhaps should have omitted, since it contains two papers not properly relevant to classical studies: firstly an essay by Valerio Rocco Lozano on Hegel's conception of the Roman citizenship, whereas actually the author presents the sources on Roman history used by the German philosopher and the influence exerted by the institutions of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire on Hegel's political vision; then a discussion on the idea of cosmopolitanism from its origins to present time by Anna Busetto, where the pages dedicated to the ancient world are indeed very few and too broad in their analysis (pp. 303-305).5

The other two essays of this section might have found a more appropriate location respectively in the first and in the second sections. Jakub Filonik traces the metaphorical expressions that refer to citizenship in Lycurgus' speech Against Leocrates, delivered in the trial for treason brought against an Athenian private citizen who had cowardly left the city after the battle of Chaeronea: the prosecutor and renowned politician argues that being a citizen is equivalent to being in war, to owning part of the city, to protecting it and being protected by it, and therefore citizenship is a duty, a debt and a prize for merit. The author brilliantly explains the sophisticated use of these conceptual metaphors in the speech; however the highlighted concepts on the right of citizenship are mostly commonplaces. Filippo Carlà-Uhink deals with the issue of the 'double fatherland' (rightly designated as 'surely not dual citizenship', p. 271) in Cicero' political writings: he discusses the influence of Stoic cosmopolitanism on the idea of civitas Romana presented by Cicero and applied only to the Italians enfranchised (therefore, not an official and authoritative notion); the author concludes that Italy was still central as a political argument after the Social war, since there was a strong need to reformulate the criteria for defining a Roman- Italic identity that could be based, according to Cicero, only on a pan-Italic elite originating from a similar cultural background and now to be integrated in the Roman civic body.6

The first section includes four contributions which focus on citizenship and civic bodies in the poleis, and in general in the Greek world, from the Archaic to the Roman period. Maurizio Giangiulio opens the section by surveying the modern debate on the origin of citizenship in Archaic Greece and correctly points out that this debate is based on a strong Athenocentrism which affects the research results; he concludes that it makes no sense to look for an origin point for the concept of 'citizenship', and that the Archaic period produced many different models of citizenship.7 Three poleis (Athens, Cyrene and Camarina) located in different parts of the Greek world are taken by Lucia Cecchet as key-studies in order to outline the reforms of civic subunits in the late Archaic and early Classical periods: the scope of these reforms was similar, namely the solution of political crises and the integration of foreigners in the citizen body, and always entailed the establishment of subunits, even if the mode of their creation and composition was different.

The Greek federal states in the Hellenistic period are the focus of Chiara Lasagni's essay, moving from considerations on the terminology (συμπολιτεία 'was not provided with technical-juridical content', p. 84)8 and methodology (theoretical models formulated by modern scholars should be abandoned, so that an 'ideal type' of federal state does not exist) in the first part, and then proposing new readings (not all of them convincing…) in a number of third century inscriptions concerning the praxis of citizenship in federal states. In contrast to the previous essays, the last one by Andreea Ştefan is rather disappointing in the treatment of its theme. Throughout the article, there is a general mix-up of the right of Roman citizenship and the different Greek politeiai, and this generates unsubstantiated sentences such as 'citizenship … could also help ordinary people from abroad to … find work' (p. 123), 'the total suppression of an important characteristic of citizenship, be it Roman or Greek, that of exclusivity, completed by the second century AD' and 'the granting of Roman citizenship, conferred more easily than citizenship in a Greek polis' (both at p. 126).

Also the second section presents four essays, moving from the Republic to the constitutio Antoniniana. Elena Isayev uses Plautus' comedies as sources on the change of perception of foreigners at Rome, examining different Latin keywords indicating outsiders, locals (i.e. citizens and inhabitants) and slaves, and concluding that these plays attest a fluid period in which Italy was becoming more cosmopolitan.9 For many years Donato Fasolini has been collecting epigraphic evidence for a new database on Roman Imperial Tribal Ascription (R.I.T.A., not yet available online), and in his paper aims to offer information on the tribal ascription of children; however, the conclusions, in themselves not outstanding, are already present in previous essays published by the same author.10

Two papers find their appropriate places one after another in this section. Valerio Marotta's complex and certainly competent juridical demonstration, already present in his previous studies, deals with the issue of the access to the civitas Romana for the inhabitants of the Egyptian chōra or the nomoi, using as main source papyri (especially P. Giessen 40, I), the letters of Pliny the Younger and the Tabula Banasitana; although Egyptians were prohibited from directly obtaining the right of the Roman citizenship, there were cases in which they could access it even before 212 AD.11 Starting from some remarks on P. Giessen 40 as well, Arnaud Besson surveys the ways in which it was possible to become a Roman citizen (by birth, by enfranchisement or by an individual or collective grant) and the exclusive advantages and rights in private and public domain that the bestowal of the civitas Romana brought on the recipient. He stresses the fact that in the decades before the constitutio Antoniniana 12 the right of Roman citizenship was highly regulated and not easy to achieve (contrast the statement by Andreea Ştefan cited above), and therefore still represented an enviable and privileged status reserved for a restricted elite group.

The volume is well edited, and minor flaws are present (e.g.: Hijf instead of Nijf at pp. 123 and 127; authors in the bibliography not in alphabetic order at p. 129; some index entries give references that do not overlap), albeit the 'General Index' is organised in an odd way: some personal names are rightly listed under their nomina, but others are placed under their praenomina (e.g. Gaius Iulius Antiochus…) or cognomina (Milo), others are omitted (e.g. Aulus Licinius, p. 277).

In general, this miscellaneous volume offers good reflections on important features of civic entities and the right of citizenship in the Greek and Roman world; as already noted, the worth of the essays in the book is diverse, for some are more stimulating than others, but hopefully they will be a starting point for more debate about these issues. However, the book's major weaknesses appear to be very little interaction among the authors on some basic concepts during the conference held at Urbino or afterwards (see note 3), and that the volume brings together a number of studies already published or that would have been published shortly thereafter by the authors, a feature that without doubt undermines the value of the publication.

Authors and Titles

Preface, by Lucia Cecchet and Anna Busetto, pp. vii-viii
Introduction. Greek and Roman Citizenship: State of Research and Open Questions, by Lucia Cecchet, pp. 1-30
Part 1: Defining the Citizen Body in the Greek Poleis
1 Looking for Citizenship in Archaic Greece. Methodological and Historical Problems, by Maurizio Giangiulio, pp. 33-49
2 Re-shaping and Re-founding Citizen Bodies: The Case of Athens, Cyrene and Camarina, by Lucia Cecchet, pp. 50-77
3 Politeia in Greek Federal States, by Chiara Lasagni, pp. 78-109
4 The Case of Multiple Citizenship Holders in the Graeco-Roman East, by Andreea Ştefan, pp. 110-131
Part 2: Citizens and Non-citizens in the Roman World
5 Citizens among Outsiders in Plautus's Roman Cosmopolis. A Moment of Change, by Elena Isayev, pp. 135-155
6 Were Children Second-Class Citizens in Roman Society? Information Technology Resources for a New Vision of an Ancient Issue, by Donato Fasolini, pp. 156-171
7 Egyptians and Citizenship from the First Century AD to the Constitutio Antoniniana, by Valerio Marotta, pp. 172-198
8 Fifty Years before the Antonine Constitution: Access to Roman Citizenship and Exclusive Rights, by Arnaud Besson, pp. 199-220
Part 3: Ancient Citizenship in the Philosophical and Political Reflection
9 Metaphorical Appeals to Civic Ethos in Lycurgus' Against Leocrates, by Jakub Filonik, pp. 223-258
10 Alteram loci patriam, alteram iuris: "Double Fatherlands" and the Role of Italy in Cicero's Political Discourse, by Filippo Carlà-Uhink, pp. 259-282
11 Ancient and Modern Sources of Hegel's Conception of the Roman Citizenship, by Valerio Rocco Lozano, pp. 283-301
12 The Idea of Cosmopolitanism from Its Origins to the 21st Century, by Anna Busetto, pp. 302-317


1.   See e.g. Clifford Ando (ed.), Citizenship and Empire in Europe, 200-1900. The Antonine Constitution after 1800 Years, (Stuttgart 2016) (BMCR 2017.01.17).
2.   Altay Coşkun, Raphael Lutz (ed.), Fremd und rechtlos? Zugehörigkeitsrechte Fremder von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. Ein Handbuch, (Köln 2014) (BMCR 2016.04.15).
3.   Politês and Civis. It is worth noting that many of the papers included in the volume were not delivered at the conference, and the same is true for the contrary.
4.   Although secondary literature is not always adequately considered: for instance, on Lycia (p. 8, note 29) see Christina Kokkinia, Opramoas' Citizenships: The Lycian politeuomenos- formula, in Anna Heller, Anne Valérie Pont (ed.), Patrie d'origine et patries électives: les citoyennetés multiples dans le monde grec d'époque romaine, (Bordeaux 2012), pp. 327 ff.; on the spread of Roman citizenship in the second cent. BC (p. 11) see Michel Humbert, Le status civitatis. Identité et identification du civis Romanus, in Alessandro Corbino, Michel Humbert, Giovanni Negri (ed.), Homo, caput, persona: la costruzione giuridica dell'identità nell'esperienza romana dall'epoca di Plauto a Ulpiano, (Pavia 2010), pp. 139 ff.
5.   On the term κοσμοπολίτης see more thoroughly Tamara Chin in Myles Lavan, Richard Payne, John Weisweiler (ed.), Cosmopolitanism and Empire: Universal Rulers, Local Elites, and Cultural Integration in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean, (New York 2016), part. pp. 134-147 (BMCR 2017.09.50).
6.   Filippo Carlà-Uhink's vision on the history of mid-late Roman Republic is presented in his recent and brilliant volume The 'Birth' of Italy. The Institutionalization of Italy as a Region, 3rd-1st Century BCE, (Berlin 2017).
7.   See now Alain Duplouy, Roger W. Brock (ed.), Defining citizenship in archaic Greece, (Oxford; New York 2018), particularly the essay by Josine Blok, Retracing Steps: Finding Ways into Archaic Greek Citizenship.
8.   See already Chiara Lasagni, La definizione di 'stato federale' nel mondo greco, Dike, 12/13 (2009/2010), pp. 219-270, and now the comprehensive study of Jacek Rzepka, Greek federal terminology, (Oxford 2017).
9.   See now chap. 6 on Plautus in Isayev's book Migration, Mobility and Place in Ancient Italy, (Cambridge 2017) (BMCR 2018.07.39).
10.   Donato Fasolini in Javier Andreu, David Espinosa, Simone Pastor (ed.), Mors omnibus instat, (Madrid 2011), pp. 113-141, and in Gerion, 32 (2014), pp. 225-236.
11.   The only warning I have on this essay is on occasional infelicities of English translation (e.g.: 'date' for 'data' at p. 186, note 60; 'letters'? at p. 161, note 61 and p. 192, note 84; 'as will be show below' at p. 187, note 69, and so forth).
12.   On which see now Alex Imrie, The Antonine Constitution: an edict for the Caracallan empire, (Leiden; Boston 2018).

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Hasan Malay, Georg Petzl, New religious texts from Lydia. Denkschriften der philosophisch-historischen Klasse, 497; Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris, 28. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2017. Pp. 236; Map. ISBN 9783700180487. €85,00.

Reviewed by Gil Renberg, University of Nebraska - Lincoln (

Version at BMCR home site

Despite the seemingly narrow focus suggested by its title, this corpus of 213 inscriptions will be of interest not only to epigraphers and those who work on religion in Greco-Roman Asia Minor, but also to Greek philologists, scholars of ancient art, and ancient historians. This is in part due to the nature of the material collected in this book, and in part to the valuable commentaries provided by Hasan Malay and Georg Petzl, two of the foremost experts on the inscriptions of Lydia, who together have more than seventy years of experience in this area. The volume that they have produced is unusual in that it is a regional corpus, but only includes inscriptions in some way related to religious practices: as such, it serves as a supplement to the most important corpora devoted to the Greek and Latin inscriptions of Lydia, Peter Herrmann's Tituli Asiae Minoris volumes,1 as well as some shorter corpora subsequently produced by Herrmann and Malay,2 Malay individually,3 and Petzl individually.4 A corpus devoted solely to religious inscriptions is possible – and reasonable – for Lydia because of the extraordinary richness of the epigraphical materials that continue to be found there, the range and depth of which can be best seen in María-Paz de Hoz's 1999 study of religion in Hellenistic and Roman Lydia, which features a catalog of approximately 800 cultic texts.5 Such range and richness are certainly on display in New Religious Texts from Lydia (henceforth NRTL), which features close to 190 dedicatory inscriptions for roughly fifty different divinities. Many of these texts are inscribed on a stele that also bears a relief, usually of a god or worshiper (though some are anatomical). Adding to the work's value, Malay and Petzl have made the unconventional decision to include three appendices devoted to seventy-five anepigraphic finds from three sanctuaries, mostly sculptural and architectural fragments. (As is true of most of the inscribed objects in the volume, the portable uninscribed objects are now in the Manisa Museum.)

NRTL is arranged geographically, with each chapter devoted to a different city, rural sanctuary, or general area. Each entry presents the information that is standard for epigraphical corpora: find spot (or else what is known of point of origin), type of object, dimensions and letter heights, date, current location, and, where necessary, a brief description of any relief or decorations. Following this the text itself is presented, along with textual commentary, translation, and, for many entries, a discussion of some aspect of the document's meaning and significance that typically puts it in the broader context of the religion and history of Lydia. For every entry, even the least informative fragments, there is also a usually excellent black and white photo, helpfully presented on the same page rather than on a plate at the back. The textual commentaries often delve into orthographical variants and unusual uses of specific words, and thus have significance for philologists: indeed, this volume, like so many other epigraphical publications, serves as a reminder of how important it is for our dictionary-writers to be keeping up with discoveries made on stone (and papyrus). Similarly, the analyses that are included in many of the entries, along with discussions of several sites at which one or more of the inscriptions originated, are full of information regarding ancient Lydia, especially the gods worshiped there and the manner of their worship. NRTL also features several topographical photos identifying the locations of rural sanctuaries, and a folded map of the relevant ancient sites inserted into the back cover. The only regrettable omission is that among the seven indexes there is no index locorum, something that all epigraphical corpora should include in order to help users find discussions or citations of previously published texts in the commentaries.

This work's greatest value is that it makes available to scholars 205 new epigraphical texts, as well as a small number of inscriptions that are not new, but rather rediscovered and included in the corpus because of the opportunity to improve previous readings or provide photos for the first time (Nos. 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 130, 168, 169). In addition to the roughly 190 dedicatory inscriptions, these texts break down into the following categories: seven that were honorific in nature (Nos. 2, 15, 115, 189, 195, 206, 207, and possibly 176, mostly for priests), seven Christian texts (Nos. 7, 10, 12, 14, 18, 20, 210), six pertaining to the Imperial Cult (Nos. 163, 194, 195, 197, 200, 201), four using the rare term ἐκλυτρόομαι to record some form of ransom paid to one or more gods (Nos. 61, 78-80), two records pertaining to cultic administration (No. 4, a financial record from the mysteries of Artemis, and No. 199, a record of vineyards and other land being consecrated to Zeus Keraunios), two oracular texts (Nos. 3 and 13, the former a 25-line collection of oracles from Didymaean Apollo and the latter a previously known oracle from Clarian Apollo6), a 20-line cultic regulation (or "lex sacra") (No. 1), a hymn fragment (No. 90), a boundary stone (No. 21, from a cult site of Artemis), a funerary altar recording that two members of a family were believed to have undergone apotheosis upon their deaths (No. 17), and a rather unusual document recording that a town had paid money to appease a god for an undisclosed reason that may have been plague- related (No. 186). Of these non-dedicatory texts, the new oracular text and lex sacra are of particular interest, since the former first presents an oracle warning a city that it must propitiate multiple divinities to alleviate unspecified suffering, and below it one or more other oracles that have been rendered even more cryptic by damage to the stone, while the latter enumerates both the types of pollution (exposure to death, consumption of garlic, murder or manslaughter, intercourse) that would keep one from entering a goddess's sanctuary and how someone (other than a murderer) might be purified, with hetairai held to higher standards and alone facing potential physical punishment for a violation. Other inscriptions of note are a badly damaged altar or base that appears to have been honoring a prophētēs according to the command of a "holy angel" (No. 176), and a stele recording that its deceased leader had been honored by an "association of Good Seasons" (ἡ συνβίωσις ἡ τῶν Καλοκαίρων), an odd name which the editors persuasively argue shows local farmers naming their symbiosis for the seasons that would bring the good weather essential to their livelihoods (No. 189).

In part due to their sheer number, however, it is the dedications that represent the most significant addition to the study of ancient religion. This group is comprised, for the most part, of altars, steles and statue bases, though there is also a marble krater (No. 23). The gods receiving these dedications are representative of the region: a small number of Olympian gods, but many different indigenous gods (some, e.g. Apollo Kisaualouddenos, bearing Olympian names). NRTL is of particular importance for the study of the already well-documented cults of the mother goddess Ana(e)itis and Meis/Men, since the two largest groups of inscriptions in the volume are from the sanctuary of Artemis Ana(e)itis and Meis Tiamou near Maionia (Nos. 24-106) and the sanctuary of Meis Artemidorou Axiottenos near Kollyda (Nos. 123-157), which in both cases are accompanied by a number of anepigraphic finds.7 While most of the dedicatory inscriptions feature fairly ordinary language and circumstances, including the sole Latin text (No. 9), a few stand out. For example, a dedication to Meis Axiottenos quotes a worshiper's vow (purportedly verbatim) instead of merely alluding to it by means of the standard votive formula κατ' εὐχήν, a great rarity (No. 130). Another dedication, for Meter Aneitis and Meis Tiamou at their Maionian sanctuary, is unusually emotive, thanking them "because they brought me from hopelessness to hopefulness and did that to me together with my wife and children" (ὅτι με ἐξ ἀνελπίστων ἤγαγον | εἰς ἐλπίδας καὶ ἐπόησάν μ<ε μετὰ> | γυναικὸς οὕτως κα<ὶ τ>έκνων) (No. 39). In contrast, a broken dedication from the same sanctuary concerned the well-being of a mule, not a person or persons (No. 84).

The motivations for most of the dedications presented in NRTL were fairly typical of those in any sanctuary in the Greek East, but in addition to such standard dedicatory inscriptions the volume contributes up to around twenty more examples to the body of "confession" texts (Nos. 77, 116, 119, 120, 123, 131, 159, 160, 178, 188 are clearly identifiable as such), a fascinating Anatolian phenomenon already known from roughly 150 inscribed steles.8 In contrast to ordinary dedicatory inscriptions, especially those simply recording the fulfillment of a vow, these inscriptions both advertise a divinity's power and warn others either explicitly or implicitly against committing a religious transgression, which is accomplished by recounting how a worshiper had suffered an ailment that was believed to be linked to an offense against the god or goddess, and which only had disappeared after proper amends had been made – leading to a record being publicly displayed at that divinity's sanctuary. The amount of detail provided regarding the nature of the episode being confessed would vary, with the more interesting examples featuring short narratives. This is certainly true of some of the new confession inscriptions in NRTL: a man who swore falsely by Meis Axiottenos loses his son and daughter-in-law and must appease the god's divine wrath (No. 116); a woman who has been punished with an eye affliction for a reason now lost recovers after promising to post a confession inscription and, when she fails to do so in a timely manner, is again punished, before ultimately setting up the stele that has partly survived (No. 131); another woman suffers an eye ailment inflicted by Meter Larmene for having bathed "on the twentieth day," which the editors speculate may be a reference to menstrual impurity, but she is restored to health by the goddess and erects a stele with which to "testify to the manifestations of her power" (No. 159); yet another woman who had disobeyed a demand from the Theoi Tazenoi sees her daughter fall ill, until she rectifies the situation and subsequently erects the stele (No. 178); and, a man who evidently had been healed by Meter Andirene but failed to dedicate the promised relief of a foot after being divinely punished ends up dedicating a stele featuring two feet (essentially, the promised anatomical image and 100% interest on it as a penalty) (No. 188). This last one is the most significant of the new confession inscriptions, since it is the first such text to have been composed as an epigram, here five elegiac couplets.

Overall, NRTL is a noteworthy publication due to the contents of the texts, so many of which are unique or unusual in some manner, but their value is enhanced by the work of Malay and Petzl, whose numerous learned discussions of particular Greek terms, Lydian cults, local topography, and other topics both demonstrate the significance of these documents and illuminate various aspects of Lydian history.


1.   P. Herrmann, Tituli Asiae Minoris V, Tituli Lydiae linguis graeca et latina conscripti, fasc. 1: Regio septentrionalis ad orientem vergens (Vienna, 1981); id., Tituli Asiae Minoris V, Tituli Lydiae, fasc. 2: Regio septentrionalis ad occidentem vergens (Vienna, 1989).
2.   P. Herrmann & H. Malay, New Documents from Lydia (DenkschrWien 340, Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris 24; Vienna, 2007).
3.   H. Malay, Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the Manisa Museum (DenkschrWien 237, ETAM 19; Vienna, 1994); id., Researches in Lydia, Mysia and Aiolis (DenkschrWien 279, ETAM 23; Vienna, 1999).
4.   G. Petzl, Tituli Asiae Minoris V, Tituli Lydiae, fasc. 3: Philadelpheia et Ager Philadelphenus (Vienna, 2007).
5.   M.-P. de Hoz, Die lydischen Kulte im Lichte der griechischen Inschriften (Asia Minor Studien 36; Bonn, 1999).
6.   Merkelbach/Stauber, Steinepigramme I, No. 04/01/01.
7.   Appendix I, Nos. 1-37 and II, Nos. 1-16.
8.   Collected in G. Petzl, Die Beichtinschriften Westkleinasiens (special issue, Epigraphica Anatolica 22; Bonn, 1994), with newer texts in later corpora and Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Claire Taylor, Poverty, Wealth, and Well-Being: Experiencing 'Penia' in Democratic Athens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. viii, 309. ISBN 9780198786931. $105.00.

Reviewed by Gabriella Vanotti, Università del Piemonte Orientale​ (

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This book by Claire Taylor, which follows on a large series of articles the author has written in recent years on similar subjects,1 focuses on the study of poverty and wealth in Athens in the 5th and 6th centuries BCE, in particular in the years between 420 and 320.

The work, opening with Preface, Contents, List of Figures, List of Tables, List of Abbreviations, consists of seven chapters, divided in turn into various sections and sub-sections, followed by two short appendices, dealing with Testing the Models of Ober and Kron and Measuring Poverty. It is also rounded off with a comprehensive Bibliography, an Index Locorum and the general Index.

The first chapter, "Poverty and Penia: Approaching the Lives of the Poor in the Ancient World", which constitutes the introduction to the volume, opens with the examination of the stelae by the cobbler Dionysius, dedicated to the hero Kallistephanos. This document provides an accurate idea of the relativity of the concept of poverty, since the artisan, who had to work for living, might be considered poor according to the parameters of classical Athens; however, the elegance of the stele and the content of the text inscribed might cause one to consider withdrawing him from that category and instead classifying him as well-off. The case of Dionysius the cobbler allows Taylor to lay the basis of the themes that underlie the whole volume: poverty is a broader concept; poverty must therefore not be examined solely as an economic condition in terms of wealth possessed or of lack of material resources by an individual, but should rather be considered a dynamic, multi-dimensional phenomenon that is destined to change over time, and which is defined by a series of factors and social inter-relations, interlinked with the idea of well-being. The author, relying on the theories of Amartya Sen, examines poverty in relationship to well-being and underlines the abilities that a person displays in exploiting the resources at his disposal to improve his welfare; therefore his capacity of social inclusion or exclusion becomes fundamental.

In the second chapter, "Poverty and Poverty Discourses", the literary sources of a historical, philosophical, theatrical and legal nature are discussed, which address what the Athenians wrote and thought about poverty, usually presented as a dichotomous condition with wealth. In the section Poverty, Leisure and Work, the author points out the difference between the condition of the poor person and the ptochos, who is delineated as an outsider or social outcast, as opposed to the poor person who can implement strategies to foster their social integration. Ptocheia, therefore, should be intended not so much as a form of serious poverty, but rather in terms of social exclusion. In the subsequent paragraphs, Taylor comes to the conclusion that examination of literary tradition, though fundamental to an understanding of how poverty was perceived within certain circles, offers little help in defining what poverty was for anyone who lived it: the sources are often influenced by elitist perspective and construct a view of poverty at odds with lived experience. Poverty was repeatedly morally charged: to be poor was to be bad.

Chapter 3, "Poverty and the Distribution of Income and Wealth", attempts to measure how widespread poverty was in Athens; the sources from ancient literature tend to reflect the image of a poor city, but more recent research2 appear to disprove this reading: wealth between the 8th and 4th centuries was growing and the Athenians, as a whole, lived above subsistence level. To focus better on this question, the writer devotes a section to The Rich, that is those who performed the liturgies and the eisphorai, and who were to be considered an élite, comprising 4-5% of male citizens and corresponding to 1% of the whole population. This group of rich citizens was not fixed, but destined to change over time: few trierarchs managed to bear the burden of the liturgies within the family group for more than two or three generations. As the writer comments, it proves even more complex to establish the number of poor Athenians, especially considering the fact that the standard of living of the population must have been quite high. It is also rather complicated to measure the poverty of women, children, metics and slaves, who constituted about 80% of the population, for whom the information we have is decidedly scarce. Nevertheless, the writer does not neglect taking into consideration or reflecting on data deriving from the models formulated by Ober and Kron, respectively focusing on the examination of amounts of income (meaning revenue used for daily needs) and wealth (meaning assets accrued through financial investments or also from inheritance), which reveal relative equality in the distribution of income and wealth for a large part of the population, who enjoyed a standard of living above subsistence level. In order to provide a better context to the phenomenon of poverty, Taylor makes use of the Gini index (which provides a simple measure of inequality within a given population), even though the application of the Gini coefficient runs the risk of oversimplifying a multidimensional and complex reality. In conclusion, the use of models such as those of Ober and of Kron, or of coefficients such as that of Gini, provides simple measurements of the distribution of wealth, but does not give information regarding changes in income and wealth taking place over time, and even less on how poverty was experienced. To clarify her thought, Taylor introduces a case study on the situation that arose during the years of the Peloponnesian War and its immediate aftermath, when deep economic transformations occurred: sudden increases in wealth as a result of the high rates of mortality in battle or because of the plague, with the concentration of inheritances. But there were also cases of impoverishment due to the costs of the war, to the depreciation of property, and to a fall in commercial activities, especially maritime affairs. In Taylor's opinion, the demographic decline that occurred during the Peloponnesian War also led to a qualitative change in society, for example, in the ratios of men/women, citizens/non-citizens, young/old, rich/poor. These changes, although they initially led to a reduction in the economic inequalities between rich and poor during the years of the war and post-war, later gave rise, during the second half of the 4th century, to new, more pronounced forms of inequality between rich and poor. The above leads the writer once again to stress the importance of considering poverty and inequality as subject to changes over time. This subject is dealt with in the following Chapters 4 and 5.

Chapter 4, called "Experiencing Penia: The Dynamics of Poverty," therefore studies the changes over time of the experiences of poverty and their differences in terms of duration, depth and of differential experiences with special reference to gender-related aspects. The two sections, Poverty Experiences: Gendered Poverty and Experiencing Poverty in Gendered Terms, are especially interesting and allow the writer to study how women lived and responded to their economic needs and their social exclusion, dwelling in particular on the role played by wet-nursing and midwifery, to which two extensive sub-sections are devoted. Finally, in the section The Dynamics of Poverty: Discourses of Social Worth and Lived Experience, Taylor comes to the conclusion that the categories of rich and poor were anything but unchangeable, rather dynamic and multidimensional.

Chapter 5, called "Experiencing Penia: The Reproduction of Poverty and the Consolidation of Wealth" examines the factors that enabled the reproduction of poverty and the consolidation of wealth in democratic Athens. In particular, the writer highlights that Athenian institutions sought to encourage political equality between citizens and provided for a redistribution of wealth through taxation, the system of the liturgies, and political pay. She observes, however, that these forms of distribution were not so much aimed at the solution of the problems of poverty as at the fostering of civic union and identity. So, the function of political pay and other forms of civic distributions was compensatory rather than redistributive. The material and economic benefit produced by these payments was enjoyed only by male citizens. The "other" social categories, such as women, children or slaves, benefited indirectly within the household, but they were left to the care of the male component, who worked officially for the city. The writer examines also the role of the local structures, primarily the demes, in responding to the needs of their members, through activities such as sacrifices and care of the sanctuaries or activities of renting property. Taylor assumes that local institutions and social networks (like voluntary association, structures of credit, provision of sacrifices, and provision of food) help to improve the conditions or the economic opportunities of some, while they worsen those of others, without having any real impact on poverty. The provision of political pay, resources, or assistance provided with voluntary associations and social networks allowed a broad range of citizens to live above subsistence but reproduced the poverty of those outside those groups.

In Chapter 6, "Appearing without Shame Well Being, Capabilities, and Standards of Living," Taylor's attention turns to the level of well-being achieved by the poor in the Athenian society and their standard of living. On the basis of epigraphic documentation, strategies are examined which were employed by the poor to claim a place in Athenian society. The author points out the fundamental difference between the concepts of subsistence and respectability and indicates possible areas for analysis that may help define the level of well-being and of quality of life of the poor: for example, apart from the standard of nutrition and the quality of the housing, funerary practices and dedicatory practices. Lastly, examining the roles of affiliation, social connectivity and relationship, the writer concludes with good reason that these non-material aspects of living standards help to highlight the strategies and the resources used by the poor to obtain a place in society.

The last chapter, called Poverty, Inequality, and Well Being in Fourth-Century Athens sums up the main issues of the book, emphasising the complexity of discussing penia in Athens.

To conclude, this is a complex book, which needs to be read carefully. It has the merit of taking a broader, multidimensional approach to the concept of poverty and wealth, providing a critical opinion on being poor in Athens in the 5th and 6th centuries BCE. Furthermore, it suggests an approach to the documentation that makes it possible to rethink the literary sources from a different point of view (the non-elite), and so acquire new ideas for reflection. The bibliography is far reaching and up to date; the publication is accurate and tidy. ​


1.   C. Taylor, "Social Dynamics in Fourth Century Athens: Poverty and Standards of Living", in C. Tiersch (ed.), Athenische Demokratie im 4 Jh.: zwischen Modernisierung und Tradition, (Stuttgart) 237-253. C. Taylor, K. Vlassopoulos (eds.), Communities and Networks in the Ancient Greek World, (Oxford 2015).
2.   J. Ober, "Wealthy Hellas", TAPhA 140, 241-286; G. Kron, "The Distribution of Wealth in Athens in Comparative Perspective", ZPE 179, 2011, 129-138; Id., "Comparative Evidence and the Reconstruction of the Ancient Economy: Greco-Roman Housing and the Level and Distribution of Wealth and Income", in F. De Callatay (ed.), Quantifying the Greco-Roman Economy and Beyond, (Bari 2014), 123-146; E. Galbois S. Rougier-Blanc (eds.), La pauvreté en Grèce ancienne: Formes, représentations, enjeux, (Bordeaux 2014). A. Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States, (Oxford; Princeton 2016). ​

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Martin T. Dinter, Charles Guérin​, Marcos Martinho (ed.), Reading Roman Declamation - Calpurnius Flaccus. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, 348​. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. 183. ISBN 9783110401240. €109,95.

Reviewed by Luciano Traversa, Università degli Studi della Repubblica di San Marino​ (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Reading Roman Declamation—Calpurnius Flaccus si colloca in una serie in tre volumi dedicata ai corpora declamatori latini, il primo uscito nel 2016 sulle declamationes pseudo-quintilianee e il terzo nel 2018 su Seneca Padre.

Il volume in oggetto raccoglie gli atti di un convegno su Calpurnio Flacco tenutosi presso la Maison de la Recherche dell'Université Paris-Sorbonne, con il patrocinio dell'Institut Universitaire de France, nel Febbraio del 2014. È la prima miscellanea sui 53 brevi excerpta di declamazioni attribuiti a una figura ancora oscura e dalla discussa datazione, 1 confluita in un'antologia di dieci oratori minori (Corpus decem rhetorum minorum).

La riscoperta di Calpurnio Flacco è evidentemente favorita dal rinnovato interesse per le declamationes: una nuova generazione di studiosi, che si sta rivelando piuttosto prolifica negli ultimi anni, discute sulle molteplici possibilità di interpretare questi scritti, aprendosi ad approcci metodologici diversificati ma complementari e, dunque, interdisciplinari. I topoi delle declamazioni sollevano problemi di natura testuale, ma rivelano anche squarci di mentalità, consuetudini sociali e connessioni con il diritto, rendendo così necessari il coinvolgimento e l'interazione tra svariate competenze scientifiche.

È ormai un dato acquisito che il genere declamatorio, nella sua duplice declinazione greca2 e latina, si muove al confine tra esercitazione retorica e invenzione fittizia; una linea di ricerca sempre più condivisa3—e che risulta dominante in questo volume—intende valorizzarne la dimensione letteraria, fondata sull'uso consapevole di tecniche e convenzioni ben precise.

Nell'introduzione Martin T. Dinter e Charles Guérin offrono un quadro puntuale della storia degli studi segnalando i contributi più recenti.4 Sono richiamati anche i preziosi commenti editi negli ultimi anni, dal lavoro di Lennart Håkanson sul primo libro delle Controversiae di Seneca Padre, pubblicato postumo con la curatela di Francesco Citti, Biagio Santorelli e Antonio Stramaglia (Berlin-Boston: De Gruyter, 2016), alla serie delle Declamazioni maggiori—ancora in fieri—di Antonio Stramaglia, edita dall'Università di Cassino, che presto sarà seguita da un'edizione Loeb in collaborazione con Michael Winterbottom e Biagio Santorelli; quest'ultimo è al lavoro anche sulla traduzione italiana, con commento, delle Declamazioni minori coordinata da Lucia Pasetti.

Rispetto a una tradizione così ricca di indagini e approfondimenti su Seneca e lo pseudo-Quintiliano, gli studi su Calpurnio Flacco hanno presentato per lungo tempo un'anomalia: al di là dell'eccellente edizione Teubner del 1978, a cura di Håkanson,5 e dei commenti isolati di Lewis A. Sussman (Leiden: Brill, 1994) e Paul Aizpurua (Paris: Gallimard, 2005), nessun gruppo di ricerca si era mai concentrato sull'autore. I curatori del volume si sono proposti di colmare tale lacuna ben riuscendo nell'impresa di valorizzare un corpus declamatorio, il cui dato distintivo è dato dalla collocazione cronologica in coda ai più corposi precursori.

Così la figura di Calpurnio Flacco assume, innanzitutto, i caratteri dell'epitomatore, dato che la voluta frammentarietà della sua opera—il cui abbreviatore si identifica con l'autore—e la centralità che conferisce alle sententiae sintetizzano i tratti costitutivi di un intero genere.

Eppure il volume in oggetto si spinge oltre e lancia una sfida dichiaratamente provocatoria: la letteratura di Calpurnio Flacco si situerebbe ad un tale stadio di avanzamento rispetto alla precedente, da cui pure non può prescindere, da meritare la definizione di "Declamazione 2.0". Occorre una certa prudenza quando si adoperano categorie moderne nella ricezione dell'antico, sebbene questo approccio estetico-antropologico stia dominando negli studi sul tardoantico, dalla sua invenzione da parte dello storico dell'arte Alois Riegl (è del 1901 il famoso saggio sulla Spätrömische Kunst- Industrie per una prima rivalutazione del basso-impero) alla più recente "esplosione di tardoantico" nel solco di The World of Late Antiquity di Peter Brown;6 alla luce di queste suggestioni si può motivare l'insidioso interrogativo, aperto nell'introduzione, su Calpurnio Flacco come autore postmoderno. Laddove il filosofo contemporaneo Jean-François Lyotard identificava le grandi novità narrative della modernità con la conoscenza assoluta e un'emancipazione universale e ne dettava il superamento con l'avanzata della tecnologia e del capitalismo, Dinter e Guérin ritengono che Calpurnio Flacco abbia oltrepassato i confini del genere declamatorio, integrando la sua grande narrativa con delle piccole narrative, pronte a mettere in discussione leggi e valori che sorreggevano i modelli della tradizione.

Tale prospettiva guida anche il poderoso contributo di Jonathan E. Mannering in apertura del volume; da una parte l'autore tenta un'analisi complessiva del corpus e dall'altra raggruppa declamazioni, pur distanziate in esso, in base a filoni tematici o tecniche retoriche comuni, così da ribadire la presenza di legami letterari sottesi nell'opera. Appaiono utili i riferimenti alla seconda controversia, in cui il dibattito sulla nascita di un neonato nero apre una duplice riflessione sul diritto di natura e sul ruolo del caso nell'esperienza umana (locus communis declamatorio), e alla terza, la sola ambientata in un periodo specifico della storia romana quale la guerra di Mario contro i Cimbri e i Teutoni (113-101 a. C.). Sulla terza controversia si concentra il capitolo di Catherine Schneider, con una puntuale disamina tra retorica e diritto del noto episodio del miles Marianus: il giovane Caio Plozio era reo di aver assassinato il suo tribuno Caio Luiso, nipote dello stesso Mario, che aveva tentato di violentarlo. Dopo un inevitabile confronto con la III Declamazione maggiore pseudo-quintilianea, che affronta lo stesso tema,7 e con altrettanti riferimenti in Cicerone, Quintiliano, Valerio Massimo e Plutarco, l'autrice indaga i temi della morale sessuale e della trasgressione che si intravedono tra le pieghe degli estratti: a tal fine si sofferma sul lessico della pudicitia che ricorre nella declamazione, attraverso l'exemplum ancestrale dello stupro di Lucrezia e un confronto con la degradazione civica dell'infamia; ampiamente discussa è anche la sanzione dell'impudicitia di natura sessuale sotto il principato di Adriano (Dig. 48. 8.1.4 Marcianus 14 inst.), a cui si aggiunge un'ulteriore riflessione di carattere giuridico sul tema della legittima difesa (con riferimenti al Codice penale tuttora vigente in Francia). Nella ricostruzione declamatoria dell'episodio è rinvenuto un tratto di deformazione retorica analogo a scritti come il De bello Gallico o la Germania di Tacito: il mito del buon barbaro (in questo caso rappresentato dal Cimbro) risulterebbe contrapposto—in chiave satirica o moralizzatrice—alla degenerazione morale dei Romani. Una così puntuale indagine intertestuale traccia la permanenza e la vitalità nei secoli della tradizione retorica, dato il perpetuarsi delle argomentazioni declamatorie sino a un'antilogia di Lorenzo Patarol della prima metà del XVIII secolo.

Si possono così trarre importanti elementi per un approccio storico—non sempre praticato e invece altrettanto auspicabile —alla pratica declamatoria, aperto alle sue implicazioni socio-culturali: in questo orizzonte si inserisce il contributo di Alfredo Casamento sul carattere del vir fortis, soprattutto nella dimensione conflittuale tra padre e figlio o tra fratelli (la famiglia è un tipico leitmotiv delle declamazioni).

Ulteriori opportunità dell'intertestualità, nello studio delle declamazioni, si evincono dal contributo di Lydia Spielberg che traccia diversi parallelismi tra Seneca Padre e Calpurnio Flacco; i tentativi di aemulatio e la libera circolazione di sententiae negli ambienti declamatori si affiancano, tuttavia, a un continuo e dinamico riadattamento dei modelli per assecondare il cambiamento dei gusti e dei tempi. L'autrice denuncia un problema del tutto condivisibile, ovvero la difficoltà di distinguere una netta citazione letteraria da un bagaglio di topoi trasmessi oralmente e che appartenevano a una tradizione popolare, a cui si aggiunge l'altrettanto labile confine nel mondo antico tra citazione e plagio, definito brillantemente "the dark side of intertextuality" (pertanto si sofferma a sua volta sul Miles Marianus). Così Spielberg definisce efficacamente il corpus di Calpurnio Flacco come il prodotto di una "community continua e diacronica di declamatori attivi" (50).

L'interesse per le relazioni tra testi si riscontra anche nell'originale capitolo curato da Andrea Balbo. Dopo aver già precedentemente indagato il lessico di Calpurnio Flacco per individuarne eventuali elementi datanti,8 in questo caso si occupa di paremiografia partendo dal problematico rapporto tra proverbi e sententiae nelle declamationes. Balbo identifica le sententiae con quelle tirate moraleggianti e filosoficamente fondate che si riscontrano in autori come Lucano e considera il loro riuso nelle declamazioni una peculiarità del background culturale e scolastico a cui appartengono. Attribuisce, invece, ai proverbi—sinora individuati in maniera esigua o erronea nei corpora declamatori, una duplice finalità persuasiva e stilistica: essi sono finalizzati a rafforzare un'argomentazione, ad aumentare il pathos o a creare una pausa tra due punti diversi della declamazione. Nel caso di Calpurnio Flacco Balbo trova più opportuno parlare di materiale paremiografico che si contraddistingue per

"la brevità della formulazione, spesso resa più efficace mediante accorgimenti retorici e fonici; la riconosciuta tradizionalità e condivisibilità del contenuto; la funzione didascalica, etica, morale, in altri termini di 'ammaestramento / giudizio' sociale e umano del messaggio, significato chiaro, autonomia dal tema della declamazione, facilità di memorizzazione" (p. 118; cfr. E. Lelli 2006, I proverbi greci. Le raccolte di Zenobio e Diogeniano (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino), p. 11).

Pertanto Balbo ha voluto apportare delle rettifiche alla nota edizione Teubner dei proverbi latini pubblicata nel 1890 da August Otto, Die Sprichwörter und sprichwörtlichen Redensarten der Römer, aggiungendo ai soli nove casi attestati in Calpurnio Flacco altre occorrenze sinora trascurate (riemerse proprio dal confronto con altri testi).

In conclusione la lettura di Reading Roman Declamation: Calpurnius Flaccus apre uno squarcio variegato e ricco di elementi innovativi su una fonte rimasta a lungo appannata. L'approccio degli autori risulta contagioso e coinvolgente per la vivacità dei giudizi e della scrittura, che restituisce questioni complesse e filologicamente fondate con una capacità di sintesi e una linearità espressiva del tutto apprezzabili. Altrettanto riuscita è l'impresa di abbracciare il fenomeno declamatorio da più punti di vista, anche se una prospettiva filologico-letteraria risulta prevalere sulle altre. La sola struttura del volume risulta penalizzante per la successione non sempre coerente dei singoli capitoli: su temi fondanti si ritorna più volte a distanza di diverse pagine mentre i contributi-chiave di Santorelli e Winterbottom, rispettivamente sui problemi di datazione e sulla storia editoriale del corpus, sono posti in coda all'opera nonostante discutano di problemi preliminari.

Per queste ragioni, nel recensire il volume, non si è riusciti a seguire l'ordine dei singoli capitoli, rinvenendo a tratti nel suo impianto lo stile postmoderno, diretto e pindarico insieme, di Calpurnio Flacco.

Table of Contents

Martin T. Dinter and Charles Guérin, Introduction: Calpurnius –a postmodern author? 1
Jonathan E. Mannering, Declamation 2.0—Reading Calpurnius 'whole' 9
Lydia Spielberg, Non contenti exemplis saeculi vestri: Intertextuality and the declamatory tradition in Calpurnius Flaccus 45
Catherine Schneider, (Re)lire la déclamation romaine: le soldat de Marius par Calpurnius Flaccus 77
Alfredo Casamento, Colorem timere peius quam sanguinem. Paintings, family strife and heroism 97
Andrea Balbo, Problems of paremiography in Calpurnius Flaccus 113
Biagio Santorelli, Metrical and accentual clausulae as evidence for the date and origin of Calpurnius Flaccus 129
Michael Winterbottom, The editors of Calpurnius Flaccus 143
Bibliography 161
Subject Index 175
Index locorum 177


1.   Biagio Santorelli, nell'analisi delle clausulae metriche condotta in un capitolo di questo volume, ipotizza una datazione alla seconda metà del secondo secolo d.C., ritenendo che Calpurnio Flacco sia stato influenzato dalle pratiche scolastiche delle province africane.
2.   Per un confronto con le declamazioni greche resta imprescindibile la lettura del volume di Donald Russell, Greek Declamations, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983, a cui si deve la fortunata definizione di Sofistopoli per indicare l'immagine di città ideale che appare sullo sfondo delle scuole di retorica e dunque delle declamazioni.
3.   La rilettura delle declamazioni in un'ottica prevalentemente letteraria si ripropone in Martin T. Dinter, Charles Guérin e Marcos Martinho (a c. di), Reading Roman Declamation: The Declamations Ascribed to Quintilian, Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2016.
4.   Per citarne alcuni: Eugenio Amato, Francesco Citti e Bart Huelsenbeck (a c. di), Law and Ethics in Greek and Roman Declamation, Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2015 (BCMR 2016.07.30); Rémy Poignault e Catherine Schneider (a c. di), Fabrique de la déclamation antique. Controverses et suasories, Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 2016; Alfredo Casamento, Danielle van Mal-Maeder, Lucia Pasetti (a c. di), Le declamazioni minori dello Pseudo-Quintiliano. Discorsi immaginari tra letteratura e diritto, Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2016 (BCMR 2018.03.47); Mario Lentano, La declamazione a Roma: breve profilo di un genere minore, Palermo: Palumbo, 2017.
5.   In un capitolo di questo volume la storia di tutti gli editori di Calpurnio Flacco, a partire da Pierre Pithou vissuto nel XVI secolo, è ripercorsa da Michael Winterbottom.
6.   Cf. Andrea Giardina, "Esplosione di tardoantico" Studi storici 40 (1999): 157-180, per una ricostruzione del dibattito sul tardoantico con distacco critico.
7.   Cf. Graziana Brescia, Il miles alla sbarra. [Quintiliano], Declamazioni maggiori, III, Bari: Edipuglia, 2004.
8.   Vd. Andrea Balbo, "Ri-leggere un lettore. Riflessioni lessicali su Calpurnio Flacco", in Rémy Poignault e Catherine Schneider (a c. di), Fabrique de la déclamation antique. Controverses et suasories, Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 2016, 49-65.

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Claudia Antonetti, Stefania De Vido (ed.), Iscrizioni greche: un'antologia. Studi superiori, 1092. Roma: Carocci, 2017. Pp. 326. ISBN 9788843088249. €33,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Clément Sarrazanas, Université de Picardie Jules Verne (

Version at BMCR home site

Ce nouveau recueil épigraphique, qui se présente explicitement comme une « anthologie » d'inscriptions grecques antiques, a été élaboré sous la direction des éditrices Claudia Antonetti et Stefania de Vido (de l'Université Ca' Foscari de Venise), mais est en réalité le fruit d'un travail collectif auquel ont collaboré de nombreux auteurs. Pas moins de 50 auteurs différents ont ainsi été mis à contribution pour réaliser chacun l'édition et le commentaire d'une ou quelques inscriptions présentées dans le volume.

L'ouvrage rassemble au total 72 inscriptions provenant de l'ensemble du monde grec, réparties sur une vaste période chronologique (du VIIIe au IIe siècle av. J.-C.). De façon assumée, le recueil ne propose ni unité thématique, ni logique géographique : en cela, le livre constitue bien une « anthologie », ou plutôt un « choix » non restreint de textes épigraphiques de tout type et de tout horizon.

Après une très brève introduction présentant le sujet du livre et les buts recherchés, le cœur de l'ouvrage suit une progression chronologique stricte : les inscriptions y figurent les unes à la suite des autres en fonction de leur datation, et sont seulement regroupées dans trois grandes sections reprenant la périodisation canonique de l'histoire grecque (« l'arcaismo » no 1-17, « l'età classica » no 18-50, et « il mondo ellenistico » no 51-72). Le recueil est complété par deux brefs indices, l'un des noms et choses remarquables, l'autre des noms géographiques et ethniques, ainsi que par une table des concordances avec les principaux recueils épigraphiques.

L'introduction (p. 11-14) présente clairement les principes ayant présidé à la réalisation de ce projet, ainsi que ses objectifs. Les éditrices ont souhaité se placer dans une perspective avant tout didactique et élaborer un recueil qui offre aux étudiants un accès aisé aux sources épigraphiques, notamment en proposant systématiquement une traduction des textes en italien. Il s'agit également de présenter un aperçu de la variété des inscriptions grecques, y compris de celles plus modestes mais qui peuvent renseigner sur tel ou tel aspect de la vie culturelle, économique, religieuse, etc. : l'ouvrage refuse donc de suivre le modèle traditionnel des Greek historical inscriptions ou encore des Iscrizioni Storiche Greche qui se concentraient essentiellement sur les institutions et les grands événements de l'histoire politique ou militaire de l'Antiquité grecque. L'ensemble de l'ouvrage se revendique ainsi comme « uno strumento di studio e di ricerca che mancava nel panorama editoriale italiano ».

Le cœur de l'ouvrage est constitué de 72 inscriptions grecques qui sont présentées selon les standards habituels des corpus épigraphiques avec description, lemme génétique, texte grec, traduction italienne, notes critiques et qui offrent un bref commentaire suivi d'une bibliographie sélective. À de très rares exceptions près, la reproduction des textes grecs est satisfaisante, tout comme la justesse et la clarté des traductions italiennes. Dans l'ensemble, la présentation des textes grecs est ainsi rigoureuse et conforme aux exigences des publications épigraphiques modernes, et la bibliographie est généralement à jour.

Les commentaires qui accompagnent chaque texte présentent en revanche une grande disparité et une grande hétérogénéité dans plusieurs domaines. Ce manque d'unité criant pose plusieurs problèmes, qui peuvent être source de frustration pour le lecteur.

1o) Le premier élément regrettable pour l'ensemble de l'ouvrage réside dans le fait que qualité et la pertinence des commentaires proposés s'avèrent très variables d'une inscription à l'autre.

Une majorité d'entre eux propose un aperçu globalement satisfaisant des principaux enjeux soulevés par les textes. Ces présentations, nécessairement synthétiques, pourront aisément être approfondies grâce aux indications bibliographiques figurant en fin de commentaire, qui pourront guider les étudiants comme les chercheurs vers des études et analyses plus poussées.

En revanche, on s'étonne de trouver dans un nombre non négligeable de commentaires plusieurs défauts de méthode élémentaire : quelques-uns ne prennent pas la peine de mettre en évidence les différentes parties des inscriptions ni leur composition générale, ce qui est pourtant capital pour bien saisir la logique de rédaction de textes développés comme des décrets, des lois ou des traités d'alliance. Il manque aussi parfois des définitions ou des rappels basiques de certaines réalités antiques : ces éléments ne sont pas nécessairement connus des étudiants débutants en épigraphie, qui de l'aveu même des éditrices constituent la cible privilégiée de ce recueil (par ex., le commentaire à l'imprécation sur plomb de Sélinonte no 18 n'explique à aucun moment en quoi consiste la pratique magique de la defixio ; le no 47, monument chorégique de Lysicrate, ne dit pas un mot du mode de fonctionnement institutionnel de la liturgie de la chorégie à Athènes). D'autres encore négligent de resituer les textes dans leur contexte historique propre, souvent nécessaire pour comprendre correctement ces documents (le commentaire au no 27, décret athénien sur les poids et les monnaies, ne dit pas un mot de l'impérialisme athénien et de ses modalités au Ve siècle), un défaut qui là encore risque de laisser des étudiants dans l'obscurité.

Sur le fond, certains commentaires ressemblent parfois plus à une fiche bibliographique, se contentant de compiler les opinions des commentateurs précédents (sans toujours les hiérarchiser) qu'à une explication à proprement parler (c'est en particulier le cas pour un certain nombre d'inscriptions de l'époque archaïque). D'autres commentaires éclairent assez peu (voire très peu) les documents proposés, soit parce qu'ils sont beaucoup trop courts (par ex. no 35, lamelle orphique d'Hippone ; no 49, décret pour les exilés de Mytilène ; no 52, lettre d'Antigone à Scepsis, qui occupent à peine une demi-page), soit parce qu'ils négligent de rendre compte de parties entières du texte, en passant ainsi sous silence des enjeux pourtant majeurs de l'inscription (par ex. no 43, récit de guérison par Asklépios, qui parle à peine du contenu précis de l'inscription ; no 56, stèle des fondateurs de Cyrène, qui ne commente pas du tout les termes et les modalités du serment des colons de Théra ; no 57, décret de Thémistocle, dont le commentaire porte presque exclusivement sur son authenticité et laisse de côté le sens de nombreuses mesures prises par ce décret, etc.).

À l'inverse, le recueil propose heureusement des commentaires qui sont très réussis, et offrent parfois des modèles d'analyse historique (par ex. les no 11, 13, 24, 25, 26, 38, 60, 64, 65, particulièrement remarquables). Ces contributions correspondent tout à fait aux standards attendus de l'exercice et s'avèreront très précieux aussi bien aux étudiants qu'aux chercheurs.

Cette hétérogénéité frappante est manifestement due au grand nombre de contributeurs du recueil (50 !), dont certains sont déjà des chercheurs chevronnés alors que d'autres, de l'aveu des éditrices, étaient encore peu expérimentés en épigraphie grecque : cette disparité se ressent (trop) clairement à la lecture. L'ouvrage aurait sans doute beaucoup gagné en cohérence et en pertinence si le nombre des contributeurs avait été moins important, ou si les commentaires avaient suivi des lignes directrices globalement identiques d'un auteur à l'autre.

2o) Un autre point problématique vient du choix, annoncé et assumé par les éditrices (p. 13), d'accorder une place prépondérante aux commentaires d'ordre philologique et linguistique. Ainsi le contenu de certains commentaires est presque exclusivement consacré à des points de morphologie, de syntaxe ou de composition (le cas est particulièrement marqué dans les inscriptions de l'époque archaïque, comme dans les nos 1-3, 5, ou 16), au détriment manifeste de la mise en contexte et de l'analyse plus proprement historiques (par ex. le no 39, épigramme commémorant la victoire de thébaine à Leuctres, dont le commentaire se consacre exclusivement à des questions littéraires, sans rappeler—même brièvement—la place et le sens de cette bataille dans l'histoire du IVe siècle). Là encore, il aurait peut-être été préférable de réduire le nombre d'inscriptions proposées, afin d'en proposer des commentaires plus consistants, aussi bien du point de vue philologique que du point de vue historique.

3o) Une autre remarque concerne le choix des textes retenus dans le recueil. Un assez grand nombre d'entre eux figure déjà dans des recueils d'inscriptions grecques bien connus et largement utilisés comme ceux de Tod, Meiggs-Lewis, Pouilloux, Van Effenterre-Ruzé, ou Bertrand. On peut s'interroger sur la nécessité ou de la pertinence de reproduire, encore une fois, des textes comme celui de la coupe de Nestor (no 1), la dédicace de Nikandrè (no 3), la dédicace de Gélon à Delphes (no 79), le décret sur la fondation de Bréa (no 23), le décret sur les poids et mesures d'Athènes (no 27), la loi de Dracon sur l'homicide (no 31), la lettre d'Antigone sur la liberté des cités grecques (no 52), ou encore la stèle des fondateurs de Cyrène (no 56) ou le décret de Thémistocle (no 57). Il s'agit là de documents extrêmement connus, maintes et maintes fois commentés et que les étudiants en histoire ont en général déjà rencontrés et étudiés dans leurs manuels ou leurs cours dès leurs premières années à l'Université. À plus forte raison, la réédition de ces textes ne présentera qu'un intérêt limité pour les chercheurs en histoire ancienne. Malgré tout, à côté de ces « classiques » vus et revus, le recueil propose aussi des inscriptions moins connues, qui permettent ainsi des commentaires plus novateurs, et qui sont souvent les plus réussis (par ex. no 38, loi sur la taxation du grain, publié pour la première fois en 1998 : no 64, décret de proxénie de Thespies ; no 68, dédicace à Flamininus, etc.). Dans ce domaine encore, on ne peut que constater l'hétérogénéité des choix éditoriaux dont on peine à saisir la cohérence de fond.

4o) Enfin, le lecteur pourra être surpris par le déséquilibre dans l'architecture générale du recueil entre les trois périodes retenues. Alors que l'anthologie prétend embrasser une vaste période chronologique, de ca 750 à 31 av. J.-C., l'époque hellénistique fait clairement figure de parent pauvre de l'ouvrage. Ainsi, ce n'est qu'à partir du no 58 (sur 72) que l'on commence à trouver des inscriptions sûrement datables du IIIe siècle ; les inscriptions du IIe siècle ne sont qu'au nombre de 4 (no 68 à 72), et le Ier siècle av. J.-C. est tout simplement absent du corpus, contrairement à ce qu'annonce l'introduction (p. 12). C'est laisser fort peu de place à une période aussi riche et intéressante que l'est l'époque hellénistique, pendant laquelle les textes épigraphiques de toute nature foisonnent, dans un espace géographique plus étendu qu'aux périodes précédentes.

On l'aura compris, le manque d'unité de l'ouvrage et les disparités parfois importantes dans la qualité des commentaires proposés (avec, heureusement, d'excellentes contributions) risquent ainsi d'être des facteurs de frustration pour les chercheurs. Il est ainsi difficile d'émettre un avis d'ensemble sur cette anthologie où se mélangent des analyses trop rapides et de très bons commentaires, sans que l'on puisse savoir à l'avance sur quel cas de figure on va tomber. Il reviendra à chaque lecteur, suivant son degré de familiarité avec l'épigraphie grecque, de séparer pour lui-même le bon grain de l'ivraie.

Malgré ces réserves, la publication à l'heure actuelle d'un recueil d'inscriptions grecques traduites et commentées doit toujours être accueillie comme une bonne nouvelle pour la défense et la sauvegarde des études classiques. On saura donc gré aux éditrices et aux contributeurs d'avoir consacré leurs efforts à l'accomplissement de ce but, notamment en ayant voulu rendre l'épigraphie grecque accessible à un plus grand nombre. Le mérite majeur de cette anthologie réside bien dans la qualité des traductions italiennes des textes : les enseignants pourront y trouver des idées de documents à étudier en cours, mais l'ouvrage sera avant tout profitable aux étudiants italiens et italophones qui ne lisent pas ou peu le grec ancien et qui auront désormais un accès facilité à l'étude de ces sources anciennes.

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Christopher S. Celenza, Petrarch: Everywhere a Wanderer. London: Reaktion Books, 2017. Pp. 263. ISBN 9781780238388. $22.50.

Reviewed by Vibeke Roggen, University of Oslo (

Version at BMCR home site

The book on my table is beautiful, on the inside as well as the outside. And it is not only attractive to look at, it is also well written—a pleasure to read. For your reviewer, one highpoint was the presentation of Petrarch's role in the transmission of Livy's great history of Rome.

The book contains six chapters, in addition to a brief Preface and an Epilogue with the subtitle "Death and Afterlife". There is a kind of chronology: the first chapter is entitled "Origins and Early Years", the last simply "Endings". The chapters in between present themselves more thematically than chronologically. Chapter 2, "The Discovery of the Ancient World", describes Petrarch the book collector and the scholar who contributed so greatly to the transmission of central classical authors such as Livy and Cicero. Celenza's excellent example from Petrarch's Livy manuscript illustrates both scholarly and pedagogically what this is all about, through a photo that shows one of Petrarch's conjectures and accompanying explanation in the text (51–53).

On a par with this is Celenza's analysis of Petrarch's coronation as a poet in 1341, and how he must have prepared the ground for this himself. The discussion forms an important part of Chapter 3, "A Reputation Assured", and gives a probable explanation of Petrarch's relationship with King Robert of Naples. The concept "social capital" is meaningful in this context. Nevertheless, one might ask why Petrarch's epic poem Africa as we have it is dedicated to King Robert, who died only two years after the coronation. The chapter treats the period 1337–1348.

Chapter 4, "The Interior Man", concentrates on Petrarch's dialogue Secretum, or the Secret as it is entitled here. The interlocutor Augustinus challenges Petrarch (Franciscus in the dialogue) on his various weaknesses—primarily love and glory. Augustinus criticises writing as a way to glory, "focusing on the works which, one suspects, Petrarch believed might gain him lasting glory: his On Illustrious Men and his Africa" (123). This sentence marks the transition from the subject of "the interior man" to a presentation of these two works.

Chapter 5 bears the title "A Life in Letters: Petrarch and Boccaccio" and is dominated by analyses of a few of Petrarch's letters to his younger friend. Petrarch is shocked; he has heard that Boccaccio has burnt his poetry in the vernacular after reading poems by Petrarch. It is in this context, apparently, that Petrarch first presented the hierarchy of early Italian vernacular writers, with himself as number two, above his younger friend Boccaccio, but with Dante at the top (153, 155). Why should Boccaccio be ashamed of being number three? Even Petrarch has a poet above him: Dante, not mentioned by name in Petrarch's works, is presented here as "that leader of our vernacular eloquence" (153).

Chapter 6, "Endings", treats the last two decades of Petrarch's life. The literary works discussed are primarily his Triumphs and the invective On His Own Ignorance. Part of the given background is the growth of universities, which coincided with the emergence of Aristotle in the Latin West (193). Even in this context, Petrarch presents himself as a critical thinker; he writes that his friends "would be amazed and silently angered, and would look at me as a blasphemer for requiring more than that man's authority as proof of fact" (195 with note 31, Celenza's modified translation from Invectives).

The book contains 27 informative illustrations, many of which show works of art. The text itself is laid out in a way that does justice to the content and invites reading. In order to keep the pages clear, endnotes are used rather than footnotes. The book is part of a series called Renaissance Lives, and, apparently, such graphic choices have been made for the series as a whole. As the title says, these are biographies—a genre that includes books that present themselves more like scholarly dissertations as well as books that come fairly close to novels. Celenza's Petrarch biography belongs to the latter group.

However, this less intellectual form comes with a few losses. One of them is the reader's overview. The titles of the six chapters only partly reflect the contents. Thus, in the above-mentioned Chapter 3 we find mentioned , in addition to the coronation, Cola di Rienzo and the Canzoniere. The chapters have no subtitles, but luckily, there is a fairly good index. There are no cross-references, only general remarks of the type "as we have seen …". To some degree the index can help, but not in the case of the poem Voglia mi sprona, "which we have encountered earlier" (88). A list of Petrarch's most important works would have been helpful. The same goes for his life: important events, where he was living, how he was employed, and works that he concentrated on and published in various periods.

Regarding Petrarch's 'love story', it is a relief to read about Laura here: "maybe we should say the woman he 'may have seen'" (87), and "Laura was an abstraction" (219). This book contains many such pertinent observations, and in various scholarly fields. In his treatment of the world of texts and books in the century before the age of printing, Celenza has chosen a pedagogical approach. Starting by "Now imagine …", he invites us as readers to enter Petrarch's world (45). Nor are we allowed to forget the catastrophe that struck not only Italy, but all of Europe as well in Petrarch's time: The Black Death. Celenza sums up: "It is worth emphasizing, as well, that the Renaissance in many ways represents a world constructed by survivors of a societally traumatic event" (103). In so many ways, the book suggests very useful answers, not only to the question asked in the last sentence of the Preface: Who was this man?, but also to the question What was his world like? Another question is this: What is it that we have to thank Petrarch for? The book traces lines related to what we may call the reception of Petrarch: to Montaigne, inspired by the letters, (58) and to Machiavelli, who quotes a poem by Petrarch at the end of Il principe (93). "Later thinkers would take inspiration from Petrarch's thoughts on Rome and Italy" (76), and we understand that the classical school curriculum would not have been the same without him (8). But perhaps Petrarch's initiative to bring about a rebirth of classical antiquity, in combination with Christianity, might have deserved a broader presentation.

A very relevant observation is that, from Petrarch's perspective, "the matters to be treated, celebrated and articulated within his poetry will be useful to the city of Rome" (75). Yes, Rome was a central factor for Petrarch, e.g., in his work to encourage successive Popes to move back from Avignon. And arguably, even Petrarch's support for Cola di Rienzo should be seen from this perspective, as a potential way to obtain new strength for Rome, instead of, or at least in addition, to the claim that Petrarch 'fell for' Cola (76) and was "enamoured of dictatorial figures" (64).

Petrarch's unfinished Latin epic poem Africa receives fair treatment here, which is not the case in some former biographies. One might discuss the part of Ennius in this epic. Celenza finds it striking that Ennius is used as a mouthpiece (131). However, the poet was known in Antiquity and later for his dream about Homer,1 and for Petrarch it was useful to let him present such a dream as a means to foretell the future about a Tuscan poet named Franciscus. According to Huss and Regn, it would have been an action of pride ("Hochmut") on Petrarch's part to claim that 'Franciscus' was going to supersede Vergil, and moreover, this would have ruined ("konterkarikiert") the Petrarchan Renaissance project.2

However, the account of the historical background (the Second Punic war) contains surprising errors. On pp. 47 and 71 we read: "… winning the final Punic war against North African general Hannibal", and "the Roman hero Scipio Africanus, who defeated the North African general Hannibal during the Punic Wars …". No, not the final Punic war, and not the Punic wars either, but the Second Punic war (219–201); the general in the Third Punic war was not Petrarch's hero, but that hero's adopted grandson, Scipio the Younger. Hannibal is repeatedly presented as an African or North African general; Carthaginian would be more precise. We read (127) that Scipio "had suffered early defeats against the Carthaginians and then, against the advice of some of Rome's leading figures, took forces with him into Carthage …". The Romans suffered a series of defeats against Hannibal, but these were not Scipio's defeats, even though he participated in two of the battles on Italian soil as a teenager. In 210 he was appointed to the command in Spain, where he was victorious. In 205 "he was assigned Sicily with permission to invade Africa if he saw fit."3 Nor is it correct that Scipio "settled back into an initially apolitical life" after his triumph (127). On the contrary, he participated actively in Roman politics for about fifteen years, serving as consul, censor and general. But later on in his life he met problems, and even a trial; the sources are not sufficient to give us details, but it was at this point he left Rome for good.

The presentation of Charlemagne (52 f.) is brief and somewhat misleading. We read here that he reigned 800–814, which is the period when Charles reigned as Holy Roman Emperor. However, the movement that is the reason that Charlemagne is mentioned here in the first place started in the 780s when its leading scholar, Alcuin, was invited to the court of Charles, at the time King of the Franks. Moreover, this movement did not restrict itself to the improvement of "biblical and other sacred texts"; even classical texts were taken care of—which is relevant in our context.

I have found only the following misprints: p. 28, reference to illustration 3, should have been 5; p. 52, "scio ('know' …)" for "scio ('I know' …)"; p. 243, note 63, "Petrarch, Africa, 9.9–97" for 90–97; p. 85, perhaps not a misprint, but the given reference to an illuminated manuscript can hardly be correct, namely that the artist was born in 1390, and the manuscript is dated to 1400. A question mark or two, and/or a "ca." would have improved things.

This is a book that is meant to read from start to finish, rather than as a reference work; reading it is a little like walking through a labyrinth, or solving puzzles (which the present writer at least loves doing). It is stimulating and it gives you new ideas.

Finally, a few words should be said about the title of the book: Petrarch: Everywhere a Wanderer. The title is translated from one of Petrarch's Latin poems, where the passage reads peregrinus ubique. (34) Petrarch lived in different places; we meet him on an excursion with his brother Gherardo, climbing Mont Ventoux (57), and there is also the "travel within the mind" (106). However, peregrinus has various meanings, and I would have preferred 'foreigner' or 'stranger' to 'wanderer' or 'pilgrim' – the latter is suggested as an alternative translation. As we read in this biography, Petrarch called himself a Florentine, even though his father had been exiled from Florence before the birth of his son. This might be an explanation of the expression.


1.   See, for example, Peter Aicher: "Ennius' Dream of Homer", The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 110, No. 2 (Summer, 1989), pp. 227–232.
2.   Bernhard Huss and Gerhard Regn: "Petrarcas Rom: Die Geschichte der Africa und das Projekt der Renaissance", in Huss and Regn (eds.) Francesco Petrarca: Africa, vol. 2 ("Kommentarband"), pp. 161–192, p. 167.
3.   "Cornelius Scipio Africanus (the Elder), Publius", in Oxford Classical Dictionary 1999, p. 298.

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Guy D. R. Sanders, Jennifer Palinkas, Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst, James Herbst, Ancient Corinth: Site Guide (7th ed.). Princeton: ASCSA Publications, 2017. Pp. 208. ISBN 9780876616611. $19.95.

Reviewed by David Gill, University of Suffolk (

Version at BMCR home site


This latest edition of the site guide to the ancient site of Corinth is aimed at both the casual tourist as well as the professional archaeologist. First, the guide has a practical function of serving as a handbook for an informed visit to the site. There are two main 'tours': the forum and the area outside the forum. There are also some suggested longer walks to discover wider aspects of the city such as the walls. The guide is thus intended as suitable for the visitor with just a couple of hours to explore to the site, to the one who will want to get to grips with the location over several days. Second, the guide will serve as a handy reference point or prompt when visitors return home. And, as with all guidebooks, it will be a reminder of what to see on a return visit. The key to the guide is a double-sided color fold-out plan inserted in a pocket inside the back cover. The plan of the forum area also marks the positions of the site interpretation points so that a visitor who is trying to orientate themselves can locate their position more accurately. The text of the guide provides detailed information of the forum area, and then the wider city as far as Lechaion and the prehistoric site of Korakou. While there is a brief mention of the eastern port of Cenchreae on the Saronic Gulf, there is no entry; there is merely a passing reference to nearby Isthmia.

This guide replaces earlier editions. The first edition, Ancient Corinth: a Guide to the Excavations and Museum (1928) was prepared by Rhys Carpenter. The previous, 6th edition, was revised by Henry S. Robinson, Ancient Corinth: A Guide to the Excavations (1960), and continued as Corinth: a Brief History of the City and a Guide to the Excavations (Princeton: ASCSA, 1969). A feature of this new edition is that it contains numerous historic images taken during over 100 years of American work in the city. They include the 1914 discovery of the statue of Gaius Caesar in the Julian basilica at the east end of the forum (no. 24; p. 86, fig. 70), and excavators standing on the epistyle of the temple of Apollo in 1901 (no. 4; p. 38, fig. 18). A seated Josephine Platner Shear is shown recording wall-paintings in the Roman theater in 1925 (p. 122, fig. 112). A list of the standard publications in the Corinth monograph series is provided towards the end of the volume. The guide is provided with a numbered gazetteer of individual locations that can then be located on the individual plans, as well as in the brief introductory historical and chronological essays (pp. 16–19). Would the seven chronological plans of Corinth have been more usefully placed at this earlier point rather than as a group at the back of the volume? Thus, a visitor wishing the view the remains of the hellenistic city could access the overview, obtain the topographical orientation, and move straight to the gazetteer.

The site gazetteer describes monuments from temples to latrines (no. 43) and even a base for displaying a bronze quadriga dating to the 4th century BC (no. 32). The modern use of colored gravels to mark Protogeometric graves at the Heroon of the Crossroads is explained (no. 26). Remains of the Classical and Hellenistic racecourse, as well as the platform for contact sports such as the pankration, are explored (no. 23).1 A Roman bath-house, to the east of the Lechaion Road, used green lapis lacedaemonius derived from a benefaction by a member of the Euryclid family (no. 42). Outlying structures, such as the amphitheater in the eastern part of the city (no. 65), are described. Changes to the monuments through time are noted. For example, the reorientation of the sanctuary of Apollo that was no longer accessed from the south-east but rather from the west (no. 4). Post-classical remains include the 11th–12th century church over the site of the Bema (no. 27), the 16th century fountain dedicated by Joseph the Tailor (no. 48), and there is a note in the section on the Panayia Field (no. 62) on 'the debris of an American who had been part of the corps of Philhellenes mustered at Corinth' in 1822 (pp. 166–67). The colored plan showing the water supply for the Fountain of Peirene (no. 37; p. 108, fig. 96) was particularly instructive. The complex remains of Acrocorinth perhaps deserved a little more detail (no. 50). Few inscriptions are referenced although they include one recording a bronze statue by Lysippos of Sikyon that was found near the sacred spring (no. 33; p. 103, fig. 91). Roman benefactions include the dedication of a piazza next to the theatre by Erastus ('in return for his aedileship') (no. 47; p. 122, fig. 113), and the circular monument dedicated by Cnaeus Babbius Philinus (p. 60 fig. 38), former duovir, aedile and pontifex, 'at his own expense'. At the end of most gazetteer entries is a reference to the publication either in the Corinth monograph series, or one of the excavation reports in Hesperia.

There are a several in-text features. Any archaeological guide to Corinth is likely to reference to the 2nd century AD description of the Roman colony by Pausanias (pp. 58–59). The text highlights the problems in relating this description to the structures on the ground. The entry highlights the key buildings that are described in the classical text. Other in-text features discuss the Apostle Paul (p. 93), and Prehistoric Corinth and the Corinthia (p. 176–78). A color map showing the geology of Corinth and its immediate environs is extremely helpful (pp. 48–49). Six topographical notes are included in the text to help the visitor to get the most out of their time at the site: 1. From the northeast corner of Temple Hill (p. 41); 2. To the forum and Panayia (p. 51); 3. View of the forum (p. 99); 4. View down the Lechaion road (p. 105); 5. Monuments near the fountain of Peirene (p. 110); 6. Walks to the Greek city walls (p. 179).

What should a guide for a Roman city look like? Putting aside complex and extensive sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, or Ostia, the Roman colony of Philippi in Macedonia is a comparable site. The official Hellenic Ministry of Culture guide, with 93 pages, is introduced with a short history, followed by a "Promenade through the archaeological site".2 It includes illustrations from the finds stored in the site archaeological museum. A plan of the site is included at the start of the tour. A particularly complex urban site in Greece is the late Classical, Hellenistic and Roman city of Messene.3 The official Ministry guide, with 154 pages, takes the visitor from the main public areas, to the walls and up to the top of Mount Ithome. It also includes a section on the museum. These guides, containing a history and a tour, form part of a series for many of the archaeological sites in the care of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. They present more detailed information than the highly useful Oxford Archaeological Guide for Greece.4 Looking eastwards, my guide for Ephesus by Ülgür Önen consists of 168 pages, with a foldout plan inside the front cover with numbered locations that link to the gazetteer catalogue.5 There is an illustrated section on the finds displayed in the Ephesus Museum.

Model guide formats that would be worth considering are provided by two Roman towns in the United Kingdom. The English Heritage guide for Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) in England by Michael Fulford includes an extensive tour of the site (pp. 1–21).6 A similar format is used for the town of Caerwent (Venta Silurum) in south Wales.7 Apart from foldout plan of the site, and bird's eye view, placed inside the front and back and covers, the tours include thumbnail plans of the town with the specific part of the tour highlighted in red, and cross linked with numbers. One disadvantage of both the English Heritage and the Hellenic Ministry Guides is the size. The Corinth guide is more compact and could easily be slipped in and out of a bag. (I am not sure that the loose plan would survive too many visits.) The volume is comparable to other ASCSA guides produced for the Bronze Age palace at Pylos and the Athenian Agora.8 Equally user friendly are the guides for the Kerameikos (by the German Archaeological Institute), and Nemea.9 One of the dilemmas for any visitor is what to see if time is short. A guidebook can provide assistance with this. The beautifully designed souvenir guidebooks for Historic Environment Scotland include a section at the beginning showing key features and where they can be located (e.g. 'Skara Brae at a Glance').10 This type of feature could be a useful addition to any future editions of the Corinth guide.

The authors as well as the ASCSA design team have produced a highly functional guidebook to help lay and professional visitors to engage with the extensive excavated and visible remains.11 The monuments are brought to life by plans, reconstructions, historic photographs, and color images. This will be an invaluable aid to interpret what can be seen on the ground, and will serve as a model for guides to other archaeological sites.


1.   David Gilman Romano, Athletics and Mathematics in Archaic Corinth: The Origins of the Greek Stadion (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 206. 1993). Reviewed BMCR 95.09.19.
2.   C. Koukouli-Chrysanthaki and C. Bakirtzis. Philippi. Athens: Ministry of Culture, 2003.
3.   P. Themelis, Ancient Messene. Athens: Ministry of Culture, 2003.
4.   C.B. Mee and A. J. S. Spawforth. Greece: an Archaeological Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
5.   Ü. Önen, Ephesus: Ruins and Museum. The City's History Through Art. Izmir: Akademia, 1983.
6.   M. Fulford, Silchester Roman Town. London: English Heritage, 2016.
7.   Richard J. Brewer, Caerwent Roman Town. Cardiff: Cadw, 2006.
8.   A Guide to the Palace of Nestor, Mycenaean Sites in its Environs and the Chora Museum. Princeton: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2001; John McK. Camp II, with photographs by Craig A. Mauzy, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide. 5th ed. Princeton: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2010 (BMCR 2010.12.13); Laura Gawlinski, with photographs by Craig A. Mauzy, The Athenian Agora: Museum Guide. 5th ed. Princeton: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2014.
9.   U. Knigge, The Athenian Kerameikos. History-Monuments-Excavations. Athens: Krene Editions; Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Athen, 1991; Stephen G. Miller, ed., Nemea: A Guide to the Site and Museum. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
10.   David Clarke, Skara Brae. The Official Souvenir Guide. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 2012. The Historic Scotland guides now tend to omit a formal ground plan of the monuments.
11.   For guidebooks aimed more as souvenirs of a visit: David W.J. Gill, "The Ministry of Works and the Development of Souvenir Guides from 1955." Public Archaeology 16 (2018), pp. 1-23.

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