Thursday, September 12, 2019


Gianfranco Adornato, Irene Bald Romano, Gabriella Cirucci, Alessandro Poggio (ed.), Restaging Greek Artworks in Roman Times. Archeologia e arte antica. Milano: Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto, 2018. Pp. 300. ISBN 9788879168328. €72,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Brian Martens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (

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

This publication is divided into two parts that have separate aims: the first, to evaluate the iconography and technique of a Classical statue that surfaced recently on the antiquities market in Rome; and the second, to investigate the redeployment or "restaging" of Greek artworks, mainly marble sculptures, in Roman contexts.

Part I developed out of an international conference held in Pisa (2014) to discuss an under-life-size marble statue of Athena now in the collection of the Fondazione Sorgente Group in Rome. The sculpture, which was purchased from a dealer, is said to have been found in Rome, although no documentation has been published to prove the provenance or to disclose its history of ownership (p. 8). Athena is identifiable by the backwards collar-type aegis with gorgoneion clasp at the front. The statue leans forward, and this posture, taken together with cuttings for wings on the back and the subtly windswept drapery, has raised much debate on whether the statue was intended to depict the goddess in her association with Nike. In his publication of the Sorgente piece in 2013, Eugenio La Rocca called it Athena Nike and assigned it to the workshop of an Attic sculptor active in the years around 430 BC.1 Added importance accrued to the figure because its type was already known from an Imperial-period statue in the Glencairn Museum (Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania). The contributors to the publication under review accept, or at least do not contest, La Rocca's dating of the Sorgente statue.

Irene Bald Romano, who had officially published the Pennsylvania statue before the Sorgente figure was known,2 offers an astute reappraisal of the Athena/Minerva at Bryn Athyn. As a quotation of the figure in Rome in both composition and scale, the Glencairn statue now takes on added significance as an example of how an older model could be rearticulated for new consumers in new settings. Regrettably, these shifting meanings remain obscure because, like the Sorgente sculpture, the Glencairn statue's provenance is murky. Romano marshals new archival evidence to reconstruct an engaging account of its acquisition and the personalities involved. She is skeptical of the reported find-spot at Cyrene and ultimately leans in favor of that origin as a fabrication designed to improve its sale on the antiquities market. A measuring mound on the lower left leg of the statue is especially noteworthy in light of the discovery of the Sorgente figure: the method, which implies production from a model, is evidence for a more widespread diffusion of the iconographic type than has been acknowledged. As Romano urges, we must consider "the possibility, even likelihood, that the sculptor of the Glencairn statue may never have seen the Sorgente statue and that there could have been other Greek and Roman statues of this same type of alighting or active Athena" (p. 24).

Olga Palagia conducts a technical study of the cuttings on the back of the Sorgente statue, raising new questions regarding its original identity and display. Palagia argues that the rectangular sockets used to attach marble wings are not original, as La Rocca had concluded, but are instead Roman alterations. It is relevant to note here that the Glencairn statue was, according to current consensus, not outfitted with wings; however, after personal autopsy, I think this conclusion deserves closer scrutiny.3 By contrast, other cuttings on the Sorgente statue, considered by La Rocca to be later repairs, are, in Palagia's view, original, possibly having been used to attach the figure to the floor and tympanum of a pediment. Thus, according to Palagia, the statue may have been conceived as an architectural work for a temple. Having disassociated the wings, she envisions the original figure as a standing Athena supporting a spear in one hand and holding out an attribute in the other. It remains unclear to me, however, why this proposed stance would require the undeniable forward inclination of the upper body, even if, as Palagia notes, the sense of motion is not as dynamic as in certainly alighting figures.

Other contributors do not fully embrace Palagia's finding that the wings of the Sorgente statue are a later addition, and thus they seek to reconcile an unusual winged Athena with known image-types of the Classical period. Kenneth Lapatin reviews the iconographic and literary evidence for Pheidias' chryselephantine Nike held by the Athena Parthenos and another held by the statue of Zeus at Olympia. Lapatin finds that neither can be the immediate source for the Sorgente and Glencairn figures. Arne Thomsen discusses the iconography of, respectively, Athena, Nike, and Athena Nike with emphasis on Attic vase painting. Thomsen finds negative evidence for a winged Athena Nike before the late fifth century BC, but that chronological starting point is based on a poorly preserved inscription on a red-figured pot that is open to interpretation. Next, Eva Falaschi provides a careful and stimulating review of the literary and epigraphic evidence for the name of the Athena Nike cult and for its representations. She finds no evidence for a winged Athena Nike in the fifth century BC. Falaschi discusses some of the same historical sources cited by Thomsen, but with a much more critical range of possibilities, and for this reason, I would have preferred to read Falaschi's contribution first. In the end, Thomsen and Falaschi would seem to bolster Palagia's conclusion that the wings on the Sorgente statue are a later intervention, though this point is not made explicit.

Finally, Alexandra Carpino offers an interesting cross-cultural study of Etruscan bronze mirrors that depict the winged goddess Menrva, a local divinity who adopted iconographic elements of Athena. While Carpino documents the Etruscan tradition of winged Menrva dating back to the fifth century BC, the exact bearing of these Italic representations on the Sorgente and Glencairn statues is left open; neither statue is mentioned in the text.

Armed with authenticity as a Greek "original" very near the carving of the Parthenon sculptures, the Sorgente statue becomes paradigmatic of the artworks examined in Part II: a Greek-made sculpture, maybe carved by a known master, transported to Italy, possibly transformed with the addition of wings, and repeated by Roman copyists. It is worth stressing here that there remain serious gaps in our knowledge of the life history of the Sorgente statue, a point acknowledged in the introduction to this publication. As the evidence now stands, the statue must remain an evocative case study. In future research, drawings and detailed photography should be commissioned of both the Sorgente and Glencairn sculptures with special focus on documenting their cuttings. Moreover, technologies such as photogrammetry could provide an opportunity to manipulate viewing angles in order to compare the scales, styles, and techniques of the two statues in close space. To summarize, many issues regarding the identity, format, and function of the Sorgente figure remain unsettled. The suggestion that the wings of the Sorgente statue are not original is particularly difficult to reconcile if—as I have suggested above, in agreement with Carpenter—the Glencairn statue was also winged.

Part II presents a selection of papers delivered at the 25th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (Leicester, 2015), in addition to new contributions, that offer fresh approaches to the Roman afterlives of Greek artworks. Gabriella Cirucci begins this section by transitioning our focus from the Sorgente statue to the wider issue at hand: how to interpret the "anonymous" archaeological evidence that stands in contrast to the "lost masterpieces" praised at length in literary accounts (p. 108). Cirucci provides a sketch of the challenges involved in identifying Greek works, in terms of both authorship and chronology, as well as determining their phases of use and alteration. The methodological issues that she has carefully highlighted will be an important starting point for future researchers.

Marina Caso presents a group of Greek-made sculptures found in Campania. She focuses on two case studies, both of which concern private residences that displayed, among other items, an Attic votive relief. Caso assumes, problematically, that the reliefs were originally erected in Greece and later removed to Italy. In the case of the Classical-period relief from Sinuessa, Caso notes (p. 125, n. 24), but does not engage, the findings of Iphigeneia Leventi, who argued that the sculpture was carved at Athens as a special order for export—in other words, that it was "restaged" from sanctuary to house, but maybe not from Greece to Italy.4 We must, I think, give more serious consideration to the possibility that sculptures carved in Greek workshops were occasionally traded west during the Classical period. Caso's closing overview of the contemporary art market could have been strengthened by mention of the first-century B.C. Mahdia shipwreck, which contained antique Attic reliefs bound, presumably, for Puteoli or Rome.

The ground covered in the second half of this publication is traditional in its geographical scope, limited primarily to the Italian peninsula, especially the city of Rome. Richard Neudecker's contribution on Greek sanctuaries is therefore most welcome. Particularly thought- provoking is Neudecker's discussion of the "harvested" sacred landscapes left behind by Romans (p. 148). He draws attention to the visible gaps—for example, bases robbed of their statues, or re-inscribed dedications—that were preserved as meaningful religious markers of Roman manipulations in Greek sacred spaces.

In her second contribution to this volume, Eva Falaschi explores the afterlives of a painting of the Rhodian hero Ialysus by the fourth-century BC artist Protogenes. Falaschi synthesizes the life history of Protogenes' painting, known only through ancient authors, by examining its literary reception. The following essay by Alessandro Poggio reconstructs, also using literary sources, the life history of a monument, the Roman Saepta, and considers the changing meanings of the artworks it contained.

Three contributions adopt the view that a Greek artwork could be redeployed not only as the material object itself, but also as the more abstract quotation of an iconographic model. Linda Pozzani, Mariateresa Curcio, and Gianfranco Adornato study male nude statues, seeking to challenge long-held conclusions that locate a source in Greek models of the Classical period.

In an important afterword, Christopher Hallett explains the deficiency in discussing the "restaging" of Greek artworks in terms of modern art collecting. Greek artifacts, he explains, were not only assigned new meanings in Roman contexts, but, perhaps most shockingly for modern audiences, also altered physically. For the Romans, the redeployment of Greek art routinely required readjusting, recarving, and recoloring. Hallett defends the quotation of an iconographic model as a method of "restaging," and further argues that this approach may provide a new avenue for understanding Roman attitudes toward copies. Hallett proposes that, if Greek antiques were themselves routinely altered physically, then it may follow that Romans held similar views toward the production of "copies" that modify the prototype. Hallett concludes that originals and copies "provided the ideal raw material for acts of deliberate resemanticization" (p. 284).

This collection of essays brings critical attention to an exciting new addition to the corpus of fifth-century BC Greek sculpture. Moreover, it offers fresh perspectives on challenging questions regarding the Roman reuses and transformations of Greek art. No doubt, it is an important contribution that will generate new lines of inquiry; there is much food for thought here.

Authors and titles

Gianfranco Adornato, Irene Bald Romano, Gabriella Cirucci, and Alessandro Poggio, "Introduction"

Part I: The Athena Nike of the Fondazione Sorgente Group

Irene Bald Romano, "A Reexamination of the Glencairn Athena/Minerva and Its Relationship to the Fondazione Sorgente Group Athena Nike"
Olga Palagia, "A New Interpretation of the Fondazione Sorgente Group Athena Nike as Part of an Athenian Pediment"
Kenneth Lapatin, "Athena Nike and Athena's Nike"
Arne Thomsen, "Athena, Nike, Athena Nike: Some Iconographic Considerations"
Eva Falaschi, "From Athena Nike to Nike Apteros: Literary and Epigraphical Sources"
Alexandra A. Carpino, "The Iconography of the Winged Menrva on Etruscan Engraved Bronze Mirrors from the 5th to Early 3rd Centuries BC"

Part II: The Afterlives of Greek Artworks

Gabriella Cirucci, "The 'Greek Originals' in Rome: An Overview"
Marina Caso, "Greek Sculptures in Roman Contexts: The Case of Campania"
Richard Neudecker, "Greek Sanctuaries in Roman Times: Rearranging, Transporting, and Renaming Artworks"
Eva Falaschi, "'More than Words': Restaging Protogenes' Ialysus, The Many Lives of an Artwork between Greece and Rome"
Alessandro Poggio, "Experiencing Art in the Saepta: Greek Artworks in a Monumental Space of Ancient Rome"
Linda Pozzani, "Made by the Athenian Κλεομένης Κλεομένους: The Work of a Greek Sculptor Displayed in Rome"
Mariateresa Curcio, "Body Models in Roman Nude Portraits: Restaging Polykleitos?"
Gianfranco Adornato, "The Dilemma of the Prima Porta Augustus: Polykleitos or not Polykleitos?"

Christopher H. Hallett, "Afterword: The Function of Greek Artworks within Roman Visual Culture"



1.   E. La Rocca, "Athena Nike of Fondazione Sorgente Group" in E. La Rocca, ed., Athena Nike: La vittoria della dea. Marmi greci del V e IV secolo a.C. della Fondazione Sorgente Group (Rome, 2013), pp. 31–71.
2.   D. G. Romano and I. Bald Romano, Catalogue of the Classical Collections of the Glencairn Museum (Bryn Athyn, 1999), pp. 15–24. The figure is also known as the "Pitcairn" statue after its most recent collector.
3.   R. Carpenter ("The Nike of Athena Parthenos," ArchEph 1953–1954 (1958), vol. 2, pp. 41–55) identified narrow cuttings behind the shoulders as attachment points for wooden wings. Romano does not accept Carpenter's interpretation; in her assessment, the right cutting is a pouring channel for attaching the arm (p. 20). In my view, the cuttings cannot be for lead because: (1) pouring channels were, in my experience, infrequently used for smaller-scale statuary; (2) at the left arm there is no communication between the cutting and the dowel for the arm; and (3) the cuttings were carefully squared.
4.   I. Leventi, "Τhe Mondragone Relief Revisited: Eleusinian Cult Iconography in Campania," Hesperia 76 (2007), pp. 107–141. A relief from Pompeii, also interpreted by Caso as a reused work of the Classical period brought from Greece to Campania, has been convincingly re-identified as a work of the first century BC/AD; see J. Powers, "The Votive Relief from House V.3.10 in Pompeii: A Sculpture and Its Context Reexamined," in B. Longfellow and E. Perry, eds., Roman Artists, Patrons, and Public Consumption: Familiar Works Reconsidered (Ann Arbor, 2018), pp. 213–239.

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G. O. Hutchinson, Plutarch's Rhythmic Prose. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. x, 339. ISBN 9780198821717. $100.00.

Reviewed by Ronald Blankenborg, Radboud University Nijmegen (

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Hutchinson's is not the first book on rhythmic prose, but the data it relies on makes it the most impressive. In order to elaborate on Plutarch's Rhythmic Prose, Hutchinson parsed all the Parallel Lives by hand, as well as many other writings, both by Plutarch and others. The result is an insightful and fascinating overview of the various ways in which rhythm brings out the content of Plutarch's writings, and underlines their argumentative force. However, before the reader of Hutchinson's latest publication on these matters1 can start on an interesting journey through the pervasive rhythms of the Lives exemplified in many densely annotated passages (pp. 87-304), he/she is well advised to get acquainted with the technical details and terminology in the three preliminary chapters: Hutchinson's book 'aspires to make progress in the understanding of prose rhythm' (p. vii), and to answer the question whether most Imperial Greek prose is significantly rhythmic (p. 10). And, last but not least, 'the reader should also be beginning to see how important the rhythm is to a detailed reading and general appreciation of a rhythmical text' (p. 16).

For rhythmic prose and its impact are not as self-explanatory as one might think. Greek prose appeared rather late when compared to poetry (p. 1), whose characteristic effect, in Hutchinson's words, is 'to produce a more rapt attention, as the listener is absorbed in a special aesthetic sphere: the listener is enchanted, bewitched' (p. 2). In prose, rhythm may play a part in such 'heightened and extreme attention' (p. 3). Soon after its introduction, Greek prose began to cultivate particular rhythmical patterns, detectable in the text through the identification of metrical unities. Hegesias of Magnesia was credited with the systematic application of metrical cola as the building blocks of prose composition, and, as a result, equally criticized for corruption of style ('asianism') through using them too lavishly. Aristotle famously warned against such lavish application (Rhet. 3.1408b21-2, 1408b31, 1409a21-2); Cicero championed rhythmic prose in Rome. That is, a rhythmic prose marked by frequently occurring endings of sentences and phrases. These Hegesean endings take the following metrical shapes: ˉ ˇ ˉ ˉ ˇ ˉ, ˉ ˉ ˉ ˉ ˇ ˉ, ˉ ˇ ˉ ˉ, ˉ ˇ ˉ ˉ ˉ and ˉ ˇ ˉ ˇ ˉ, all based on the (resolved) cretic (ˉ ˇ ˉ).

Hutchinson (pp. 23-32) uses an algorithm both to identify the level of rhythmicality of specific Greek writing authors and genres, both from the Imperial period and from preceding eras, and to establish each author's and genre's deviation from the 'group' median rhythmicality. Thus, he is able to conclude that narrative is the best predictor of rhythm (p. 25). In his description of the relation rhythm-attention, Hutchinson carefully notes that 'not all weighty words occur in rhythmic phrases' (p. 37): nonetheless, he sees sufficient evidence to expect particular moments of attention in the ends of phrases, indicated by a rhythmic close, and their beginnings immediately following a rhythmic clausula. 'Attention' is not meant here as a mere synonym for 'emphasis', but rather as an indication that 'rhythmic organization enhances emphasis produced by meaning, sharpens our attention, helps us observe more point in a word and more connections with other words, encourages us (if you like) to read more slowly' (p. 41). To further illustrate this notion of attention for readers, Hutchinson uses quotations from the Lives to show the particular ways in which rhythm underlines meaning (pp. 47-66): 1) the brevity of rhythmic phrases, highlighting important words, 2) the way rhythmic phrases encompass pairs of related words, e.g. by turning related words into clausulae, or 3) matching words through correspondence or contrast, 4) emphasis through stress on the phrases' first and last word, 5) verbs filling an entire rhythmic phrase (reinforcing the sense of syntactic structure), 6) highlighting of isolated phrases in context by shaping them as a rhythmic phrase, 7) the sensation of 'overlap',2 and 8) the avoidance of (or rather: allowance for) hiatus within the scope of the rhythmical phrase. To conclude the technical remarks, Hutchinson rules out the possible objection that the density of rhythmic phrases in Plutarch is due to chance (p. 68).

The remainder of the book (chapters 4-25, pp. 87-304) is devoted to what Hutchinson labels the 'commentary', a vast list of example passages from the Lives, each followed by interpretative issues arising from, and suggested by, the rhythmic analysis, in order to show that 'rhythmic analysis must be integrated into larger criticism, for the sake of both' (p. 84). To stress this point further, chapters 4 to 25 are each followed by an appendix that presents prose passages deemed less rhythmic or unrhythmic (written by Plutarch and others) that deal with the same topic as the passage from the Lives. All passages, as in chapters 1-3, are translated. Because of its deliberate focus on rhythmic analysis, the commentary makes little reference to editions and translations, and does not attempt to provide systematic discussion or bibliography on the historical and literary questions that the passages raise. Plutarch's Rhythmic Prose ends with a conclusion (pp. 305-308), bibliography (pp. 309-320), and two useful indices, one of passages (pp. 321-331), and one general (pp. 332-339).

Readers of chapters 4 to 25 are in for an interesting journey through the Lives. A wide variety of passages is presented, parsed, and commented on under thematic headings (e.g. chapter 4 'Life as Art' [Timoleon 35], chapter 7 'What to Write under a Statue?' [Cato Maior 19.4-6], chapter 10 'Daggers and Dangers' [Brutus 10.4-6, 13.7-10, 29.2-3, 40.7-8], and chapter 25 'More Tears in Achilles Tatius' [Achilles 7.4.3-6]). Inevitably, certain types of comments and phrases occur very frequently in the commentary sections, e.g. 'a distinctive verb, brought out by the rhythm', 'the rhythm contributes to the structure', 'rhythmic magnificence', 'the point is (not) presented rhythmically', 'the rhythmic organization adds some underlining/emphasis', 'rhythm mirrors/reinforces word-order/structure', etc. All aspects of rhythm are closely tied to the passages' content, hence regularly recurring (and often similarly sounding) interpretative remarks, like 'two items are grouped together', 'the name/event is thrown in sharper relief/stands out', or 'all gain some emphasis'. Some readers may grow tired of such repetition, or come under the impression (against Hutchinson's warning, p. 35n3, cited above) that something similar (such as 'emphasis!') may be said about any and every sentence or phrase in a passage identified as rhythmic prose. But that feeling or verdict would do injustice to the case this book tries to make and the results it presents. Hutchinson strives to make his readers 'read Plutarch more closely and responsively' (p. 46). And so he does: interpreting a passage through rhythmic analysis makes for slow but attentive reading, and slow reading creates opportunities to discover new meaning in well-known and broadly studied passages. Two examples from Plutarch's Rhythmic Prose may illustrate this claim:

Chapter 12, 'Mist or Smoke?' (pp. 169-177), deals with Flamininus 4.8-12, a passage about the moment when Roman troops cause panic in enemy ranks with an unexpected smoke signal followed by a war cry. Readers who are sensitive to the rhythmic subtleties of Plutarch's rendering of the battle will experience the fight first-hand. Rhythm underlines the organization of the stratagem, both with regard to what the Romans know and their enemies are not yet aware of. Flamininus' own ingenious tactics are conjured up. Consider the following sentence (copied from p. 172), with '|' indicating the right-hand boundaries of the clausulae: | τῶν δ'ἄλλων ἑκατέρωθεν ἅμα | πειρωμένων ἁμιλλᾶσθαι, | καὶ ταῖς τραχύτησιν | ἐμφυομένων προθύμως, | ὅ θ'ἥλιος ἀνέσχε, | καὶ καπνὸς οὐ βέβαιος, | κτλ. ('The others attempted to fight from both sides of the river at once, and stuck enthusiastically to the rough places. The sun rose, and so did some smoke which was not firmly formed'). Hutchinson points out that 'the other two parts of Flaminius' forces might have been expected to receive a main clause […, b]ut they are subordinated in a genitive absolute, and another main clause succeeds in this big sentence [….] The effect is not only to subordinate the other two parts to Flaminius and the main army, but also to conjoin the genitive participles | πειρωμένων and | ἐμφυομένων to the preceding nominative participles | βαλλόμενος and | (καὶ) συμπλεκόμενος, and so accumulate a sense of the Romans' struggles and determination. Rhythm reinforces the structure: the participles all effectively begin a rhythmic unit.' Subsequently, the sun coming up is rhythmically paired with smoke rising up, bringing uncertainty for both sides. As soon as the Roman war cry is heard, the whole landscape is vividly (or rather: audibly, through recurring clausulae) depicted resounding with noise.

In chapter 19 (pp. 263-266), 'A Blasé Mother' (Cleomenes 43 (22). 4-5), we hear how Cleomenes' mother Cratesicleia forsakes her own well-being (she must be taken hostage so that the Egyptian king Ptolemy may help Sparta) for the greater good: her son and Sparta. This is quite a dramatic scene, as Cleomenes at first is reluctant to ask this favor of his mother. Cleomenes' dilemma is articulated in the rhythm, as the words 'hostage' and 'mother and children' are juxtaposed (ἠξίου λαβεῖν ὅμηρα | τοὺς παῖδας καὶ τὴν μητέρα, | '(King Ptolemy) asked his children and his mother as hostages'). Rhythm further contrasts the worried son and the no-nonsense mother; the latter shows contempt for her body by giving the words | τὸ σῶμα τοῦτο | 'this body of mine' a separate rhythmic unit. A scornful rhythmic phrase | αὐτοῦ καθήμενον | 'it is merely sitting here (waiting to fall apart from old age)' enhances her detachment.

Many more examples like the two above may be drawn from the pages of the commentary sections. The question remains, though: who is going to draw them from those pages? Students and scholars working on Plutarch's Lives will not and cannot use the notes to the passages cited as a running commentary. Those working on an individual Life find only fragments in this book, others working on issues of rhythm may be eager to find a 'rhythmical commentary' to the complete text of a Life. Plutarch's Rhythmic Prose thus runs the risk of not being consulted as often as it should, or not attracting as much scholarly attention as it deserves. The book is well worth the time of everyone interested in the workings and impact of prose rhythm, and in the fruits to be harvested from reading slowly and responsively. It is also interesting for students and scholars of metrics as Hutchinson deals with intricate problems (in prose even more so than in poetry) concerning hiatus and elision (see especially p. 64 n12).

Plutarch's Rhythmic Prose is well produced, and shows hardly any typos or infelicities, which is remarkable for a work that contains a fair number of metrical symbols and diacritical signs. All the more reason therefore to recommend it to a broad audience, which may enjoy the subtleties of prose rhythm even more by listening to all the passages analyzed read aloud in accompanying online videos.3


1.   Earlier publications include 'Rhythm, style , and meaning in Cicero's prose', CQ n.s. 45, 485-99 (1995), 'Appian the artist: rhythmic prose and its literary implications', CQ n.s. 65, 788-605 (2015), and 'Repetition, range, and attention: the Iliad', in Chr. Tsagalis (ed.), The Winnowing Oar: New Perspectives in Homeric Studies (Berlin 2017), 147-172.
2.   Because the syllable that ends one rhythmic phrase is the first syllable of the next. Compare the notion of epiploke in poetry, cf. T. Cole, Epiploke: Rhythmical Continuity and Poetic Structure in Greek Lyric (Cambridge, Mass. 1988).
3.   Videos may be viewed on the Oxford University Press website Companion Website.

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Magali Année, Tyrtée et Kallinos: la diction des anciens chants parénétiques (édition, traduction et interprétation). Kaïnon–Anthropologie de la pensée ancienne, 9. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2017. Pp. 1360. ISBN 9782406065463. €98,00.

Reviewed by A. Sebastian Anderson, Brooklyn College (

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Tyrtaeus and Callinus are arguably well served by the editions of West and Gentili–Prato.1 With the present volume, Année offers a re-edition in support of an ambitious interpretive agenda: to explain how paraenetic elegy achieved its paraenetic function in performance. Année believes that previous editors of these authors have adhered to too-rigid rules of grammar and meter and have not properly appreciated the sound and rhythm of performed elegy, and her edition and analysis are intended to correct such perceived deficiencies.

The book is divided into three parts: the first contextualizes archaic elegy, explains the aims of the edition, and lays out the interpretive agenda; the second contains the edition and translation of the testimonia and fragments; the third develops the analysis outlined in the first part. The conclusion contains an epilogue and a colophon on Plato's use of Tyrtaeus; there follow four appendices, a large bibliography, metrical glossary, six indices, and a concordance. Since the edition is founded upon Année's ideas about elegy's performance, I review first the arguments in parts one and three, then the edition.

Année rightly questions the assumption that Tyrtaeus and Callinus are derivative from Homer and posits a shared poetic system (27, 50–51). Paraenetic elegy (dubbed "holoparénétique") is distinguished by its pragmatic function, which is realized in performances (scholarship on performativity and deictic language is rehearsed: 40–47). This function is achieved through sound, meaning a system of phonic echoes (61–86), dialect variation (103–168) and rhythm, which is far more variable than has been recognized (169–243). Année's ideas about sound, dialect, and rhythm guide the edition and are further discussed in the review of part two, below.

An excursus justifying Année's analysis and method considers Plato's ideas about language in the Cratylus (249–384). One passage in particular (437b3–4) is cited (255–56) for a connection between 'memory' (μνήμη) and 'halting' (μονή), entailing a "network of correspondence" between the syllables μνη, μην, μον, which relates to Archilochus' notion of rhythm 'holding men' (fr. 128 W): the dialogue hints at a connection between sound, rhythm, and paraenesis. But the conception of language here is Plato's (as Année acknowledges: 297), and it is not made clear why he should guide interpretation of archaic poetry.

Returning to Tyrtaeus and Callinus in part three, Année notes that archaic Greek speakers may have conceptualized their language in syllables rather than words (575–77), so the "alternating syllable" -μεν/μην/μον/μν-, identified in the Cratylus, again receives attention. The middle-passive participle in –μενος is central to the sound- and rhythm-system (578–83). After highlighting elegy's communal orientation (called "koinônique," 583–94), Année explains the "phonico-pragmatic" function of the -μεν/μην/μον/μν- "émaillage" (596), that is, how these recurrent sounds achieved paraenetic (pragmatic) aims within a community. Syntactic and semantic interconnections are drawn between the words in which the sounds occur; μένω, μαίνομαι, μιμνήσκω are emphasized (606–19). Année makes several claims about the effects of these sounds in performance: the secondary verbal ending -μην connotes atemporality, unlike the primary ending's hic et nunc (621). The particle μέν suspends the utterance and rhymes internally with middle-passive participles; for example, the phrase τετλαίη μέν in Année's Tyrtaeus 1.11–12 (12.11–12 W), printed intentionally as εἰ μὴ τετλαίη μέν (sic) ὁρῶν φόνον αἱματόεντα, / καὶ δηίων ὀρέγοιτ' ἐγγύθεν ἱστάμενος, forms a prosodic unit (with the syllable μέν prolonged in performance) in a quasi-holospondaic hemistich that gives paraenetic force to the participle ἱστάμενος by anticipating its sound (622–39).2 The verb μένω and the phonic group are said to have an intrinsically middle/reflexive value that interiorizes the paraenesis in auditors (651–852).

Elegy is then considered as a "poietic" discourse (meaning a linguistic mode of 'fabrication' entailing a process of virtualization, 71–73): Tyrtaeus pioneered "le premier système poïétique purement hypothétique adressé à l'esprit humain" (855), in service of the Spartan order (koinônique). The priamel of Tyrtaeus 1.1 Année (12.1 W) is key: οὔτ' ἂν μνησαίμην οὔτ' ἂν λόγωι ἄνδρα τιθείμην functions, in the "potentially realizable" Doric form *οὔ κα λόγωι (corresponding to οὔτ' ἂν λόγωι), as a reactualization of the Homeric expression οὐκ ἀλέγω, as well as the remarkably named Oukalegon of Iliad 3.148 (886–922), and the verb τιθείμην conjures Thetis, who is the ordering force of the kosmos and Spartan koinonia (923).

In the edition (part two), fragments and testimonia are renumbered. Testimonia are organized by source-author's name, rather than by categories like 'vita'. Quotations are usually longer than those found in Gentili–Prato, and each is translated — sometimes inaccurately.3 Authors judged important (395) receive comment. Some authors, like Stobaeus, are helpfully included as testimonia, though they provide no context for their quotations of fragments; others, however, do not explicitly name Callinus or Tyrtaeus at all. Here lies a methodological problem: included are extracts that take "la forme d'échos ou de reprises implicites" (392). Alcaeus fr. 208.12–14 Campbell is included because it possibly adapts Tyrtaeus, but Tyrtaeus is not mentioned. Année relates Herodotus' remark (7.231) about the Spartan Aristodemus' nickname, ὁ τρέσας, to Tyrtaeus' τρεσσάντων δ' ἀνδρῶν (2.14 Année ~ 11.14 W), but what of Homer's ἀνδρῶν τρεσσάντων (Il. 14.522)? Such possible echoes, while interesting, are not testimonia.

Année does not aim to recover an original text (58) but hews to the paradosis and eschews most post-medieval corrections, sometimes at the expense of meter or sense. Given a choice of readings, Année opts for one that provides a sound, rhythm, or wording that suits her analysis (again, sometimes sacrificing meter or sense). Ancient texts are often misprinted: erroneous accent-marks are actually confusing because Année sometimes advocates idiosyncratic accentuation. There is a large apparatus criticus and long lists of manuscripts, but Année relies on the spadework of West, Gentili–Prato and Bergk (57). On one occasion, Année provides a manuscript facsimile (148) to document a preferred reading, and this example illustrates her editorial principles: Tyrtaeus 20.1–2 Année (4.1–2 W) is printed Φοίβου ἀκούσαντες Πειθωνόθεν οἱ τάδε νικᾶν / μαντείας τοῦ θε͜οῦ καὶ τελέεντ' ἔπεα. Unintelligible οἱ τάδε νικᾶν is retained despite Amyot's οἴκαδ' ἔνεικαν, and Année prefers the unparalleled variant Πειθωνόθεν in one Plutarch MS (Par. Gr. 1676, which is prone to such errors) to otherwise transmitted Πυθωνόθεν because Alcman (64 PMGF) pairs Peitho with Eunomia (146–68). Année also prefers the prosaic τοῦ θε͜οῦ of Par. Gr. 1676 to the vulgate τε θεοῦ. The apparatus criticus records, alongside variant readings and emendations, previous editors' preferences. Année privileges the 'editio princeps' of Callinus 1 W and Tyrtaeus 11–12 W by Sigismund Gelenius (Basel 1532), but the manuscript from which Gelenius' edition was derived is not a significant witness for the text of Stobaeus;4 Gelenius' edition is actually listed as a manuscript and its text is adopted or reported often (but not consistently or always accurately).5 Such deference to manuscripts does not extend to inscriptions¬ — ancient autographs — which are printed with modern corrections.

From several similar funerary inscriptions Année tentatively derives a new fragment of Callinus (designated *0a–b, the number and asterisk indicating uncertainty and the letters the multiform nature of the purported fragment). *0a reads οὐ τὸ θανεῖν ἀλγεινόν, ἑπεὶ (sic) τό γε πᾶσι πέπρωται / ἀλλὰ πρὶν ἡλικίης καὶ γονέων πρότερον. The inscriptions are Hellenistic or later in date, but Année considers them redolent of Callinus and evidence of his continued influence (389–90).

Année's conception of rhythm affects the edition. Since the elegiac couplet is not a stichic meter but a strophic one, Année suggests that it was, in the seventh century, interpreted in transmutable cola (but a treatise quoted as testimonium [Ka. 5] is not evidence of this6). Fragments with partial verses, viz. Callinus 3 and 4 Année (4 and 2 W), become evidence of non-elegiac segments in elegies (193–205). Critias 4 W, where Alcibiades' name is fitted in elegiacs by the contrivance of an iambic trimeter, is claimed (182 n. 357, 205) to show flexibility of form, but Critias' emphasis on the artifice leads one to the opposite conclusion. Année cites (206–34) early inscriptional epigrams that include prose (CEG 362) or whose meter is debated (CEG 394, 454), as well as the perplexing epigram of the shadowy Echembrotus. This is a meager basis for a revisionist account of elegiac form.7 Influences involving Terpander are speculated on (234–43), and the edition of Tyrtaeus includes anapestic fragments connected with Sparta (PMG 856–57, 870). Lacunae of whole verses (e.g., between the pentameters transmitted as Callinus 1.4–5 W) are explained instead as metrical variation. Unmetrical readings are defended: e.g., Tyrt. 2.5–6 Année (11.5–6 W) is printed essentially as transmitted, ἐχθρὰν μὲν ψυχὴν θέμενος, θανάτου δὲ μελαίνας / κῆρας αὐγαῖς ἠελίοιο φίλας (some manuscripts show attempts to fix the meter), and verse 6 is analyzed (1203) as an "unité (dipodie) trochaïque ou hypodochmius + hemiepes" (Grotius inserted ὁμῶς after κῆρας, which restores the meter and yields sense).

The analysis of sound, too, affects the edition: e.g., Tyrtaeus 1.43–44 Année (12.43–44 W) is printed ταύτης νῦν τις ἀνὴρ ἀρετῆς εἰς ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι / πειράσθω θυμὸν μὴ μεθιεὶς πόλεμον (θυμῶι is a variant; πολέμου is Camerarius' correction) and translated "Que tout homme, donc, de l'excellence que voilà, atteigne le sommet! en son ardeur, soi-même s'éprouvant, et l'œuvre de guerre jamais ne relâchant!" Année prefers θυμόν and πόλεμον because of the phonic echo, and she explains the syntax of πειράσθω θυμόν as an innovation by Tyrtaeus (844–45 n. 407).

Année also detects significant dialect variation in the fragments. Non-Ionic forms are transmitted occasionally, but Année's purported examples of "Ionic–Doric chiasmus" (e.g., αἰσχρᾶς δὲ φυγῆς, Tyrt. 1.17 Année) involve 'Doric' forms that are probably Attic ones (with so-called alpha purum in the first declension), which the source-authors and copyists both used. In general, the manuscripts are unreliable as evidence of these poets' use of dialects.

The book displays the author's erudition and innovative thinking, but, while the interpretive sections contain many interesting ideas, these are buried amidst hundreds of pages that suffer from repetition and digression. Année's prose is dense, but new terminology is clearly defined. The edition, however, is fundamentally unreliable and not infrequently detracts from the interpretive insights.


1.   M. L. West Iambi et Elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati vol. 2 (Oxford 19922); B. Gentili and C. Prato Poetae Elegiaci: Testimonia et Fragmenta vol. 1 (Leipzig 19882).
2.   The analysis is inconsistent: the eccentric accentuation and interpretation of μέν is not applied to verse three of the poem, which opens with the same metrical shape as verse eleven: οὐδ' εἰ Κυκλώπων μὲν ἔχοι.
3.   E.g., [Ka. 5], 399–400: ...Archilochum, qui cum epodos excogitaverit alios breviores, alios longiores..., is translated "...Archiloque, lui qui, en inventant d'autres épodes, tantôt plus courts, tantôt plus longs...," but "d'autres" is not in the Latin. [Tyrt. 23b], 447: verses 3–4 of the sepulchral epigram CEG 6, hόστ' ἐχθρὸς στενάχεμ πολέμο θέρος ἐκκομίσαντας, |αὐτοῖς δ' ἀθάνατον μνɛ̃μ' ἀρετɛ̃ς ἔθεσαν, are rendered "Sur eux, que l'haïssable saison du combat a emportés, ils ont pleuré / Et à la mémoire immortelle de leur excellence ils ont levé ce monument," but ἐχθρός is the accusative plural substantive with ἐκκομίσαντας, and it is the subject, not object, of the infinitive στενάχεμ.
4.   On this manuscript, see A. Biedl "Eine griechische Handschrift aus der Sammlung des Bohuslaw v. Lobkowicz" Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Deutschen in Böhmen 71 (1933) 94–119.
5.   E.g., at Tyrtaeus 1.1 Année (12.1 W), τιθείμην is ascribed to Plato's Laws (AO), Gentili–Prato, Prato, whereas the variant τιθείην is attributed to Stobaeus (codd.), West, Gelenius, in that order. The preference of a given editor for an ancient reading is irrelevant, but such preferences are not even reported consistently. At Tyrtaeus 2.6 Année (11.6 W), Gelenius prints φίλαις, not φίλας as reported.
6.   See footnote 3.
7.   Année omits inscriptions (CEG 108, 140, 280) that actually show some metrical variety. The discussion of Echembrotus' meter lacks reference to K. Tsantsanoglou "ΕΧΕΜΒΡΟΤΟΣ ΑΡΚΑΣ" ZPE 176 (2011) 39–44. The bibliography lacks R. S. Garner Traditional Elegy: The Interplay of Meter, Tradition, and Context in Early Greek Poetry (Oxford 2011).

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Dimitris Bosnakis, Klaus Hallof (ed.), Inscriptiones Graecae. Volumen XII, Inscriptiones insularum maris Aegaei praeter Delum / Fasciculus IV, Inscriptiones Coi, Calymnae, insularum Milesiarum. Pars 4, Inscriptiones Coi insulae : tituli sepulcrales demorum. Tituli varii incerti alieni. Inscriptiones insularum milesiarum. Inscriptiones Graecae, 12,4,4. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Pp. vi, 268. ISBN 9783110601688. €299.00.

Reviewed by Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, Oxford (

Version at BMCR home site

Publisher's Preview

Now comes the fourth part of the fourth fascicle of IG XII, the sequence of the venerable corpus of Greek inscriptions, Inscriptiones Graecae, devoted to the islands of Cos and its Milesian neighbors Leros, Lepsia, and Patmos. The general approach, scope, and method of IG are long established and well known, and each of the preceding parts for Cos has been treated in BMCR (IG XII.4.1: BMCR 2011.04.37; XII.4.2: BMCR 2013.10.67; XII.4.3: BMCR 2017.10.35); the present review will be confined to a summary of the particular contribution of this fascicle. The material already benefits from a freely available and widely accessible companion presentation, as the recent TELOTA project, developed by the Berlin Academy in conjunction with IG, publishes simplified versions of the text editions from this fascicle along with German translations online.

We have here first the completion of the corpus for Cos. The funerary inscriptions of the demes follow on the urban epitaphs to which the third part of the fascicle was devoted: the monuments from Phyxa, Haleis, Hippia, Antimachia, Halasarna, and Isthmia are treated in that order, as are funerary testamenta and epitaphs for Coans set up in foreign lands (nos. 3054–3329); some of the incerta probably belong to this category too, including 3544, a fragment of a curse against violators of the burial, and 3595, a building epigram for a tomb. Then come sections for texts of miscellaneous or uncertain character, as well as graffiti and smaller fragments of stone inscriptions. Notable among the varia are texts of religious content including an oracle of the late third century BCE internally titled "Oracle from Delphi" (χρησμὸς ἐγ Δελφῶν) which records a Coan's query on the disposition of an inheritance and the god's apparently positive response (3400), and a curse-tablet of the fourth century CE invoking the Egyptian god Seth (3401). There are also mosaic inscriptions, including captions for scenes of the Muses, the Judgment of Paris, and some spectacles of hunting and gladiatorial combat from Roman houses (3375–3377), as well as commemorations of building works in churches (3381–3399). Finally, there are also inscriptions found on Cos but which belong to the epigraphy of other cities (the tituli alieni) including Athens, Myndos, Halikarnassos, Bargylia (the epitaphs 3854–3856, on the basis of a formula for penalties for tomb-violation referring to the goddess Artemis Kindyas), and Iasos.

The volume also comprises the full epigraphic corpora for the Milesian islands of Leros, Lepsia, and Patmos, whose texts, which come to a more modest total, are presented in the customary order. Especially noteworthy is a Milesian decree of the late second century BCE for the re-inscription of the land survey records of a temple of Apollo on Lepsia in collaboration with an architect (ὁ κατὰ πόλιν ἀρχιτέκτων, 3897). The inscriptions of Calymnos, treatment of which is promised by the title of the fascicle, are still awaited.

In the revision of previously published inscriptions for inclusion in the corpus, the editors have proceeded via autopsy when possible, also making use of the extensive Berlin collection of squeezes and by unpublished notes from the observations of predecessors, most notably here Rudolf Herzog (1871–1953). The same can be said for the newly published texts, which similarly profit from the notes of Herzog and others on stones now lost or deteriorated. The result is a total of 879 texts, all Greek monolinguals with the exception of six entirely in Latin (3300, 3330–3333, and 3677), concentrated in the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial periods, though Christian inscriptions from the Byzantine period extending even into the Middle Ages are also well represented. New inscriptions number just over 250, not counting the nearly 200 among the short fragments (frusta), which are not without occasional interest, e.g. the possibly sympotic invitation "Let him drink!" (πινέτω) at the end of a short text added to a marble base sometime in the third or fourth century CE.

Some especially noteworthy texts among the inedita may be mentioned. Sources for the religious life of Cos are augmented by two new Hellenistic monuments from the Coan Asklepieion, one possibly a hymn referring to Asklepios (3520) as ἄναξ ἀκεσφόρος and to a sacred fire (ἱερὸν πῦρ), and one unfortunately even more fragmentary (3616). A Latin funerary testament attests a new temple, the Meropeum, apparently dedicated to the Coan hero Merops (3000); there is also a novel dedication to the divinized Aegean, Ἥρων Αἰγαῖος (3927). A building inscription illustrates the equation of Nero with Asklepios in the context of imperial cult (3341). There is also a crop of ten new grave epigrams, including one for a gladiator (3372; further 3080, 3084, 3101, 3103, 3119, 3132, 3283, 3291, 3293), while the epigraphy of death is further illuminated by a new boundary marker for a communal burial plot belonging to members of a Bacchic thiasos (θιασῖται Βακχιασαί, 3133), a monumental σᾶμα set up by the deme of Halasarna (3239), and a funerary testament citing written documentation in the form of a sales contract (ὠνή, 3302). On Lepsia, we gain a dedication to the Nymphs (3902); on Patmos, a Christian building inscription for the pavement of a basilica (3931), donated by one Paulos in thanksgiving for his escape from shipwreck "by the prayers of the saints" (εὐχɛ̃ς τῶν ἁγίων) and listing the names of at least four artisans "from the city" (τεχνῖται τῆς πόλεως) brought in for the task.

New contributions to the history of the civic and economic life of Cos include a new fragment of a published text that, once joined, yields a building inscription for a Museum (Μουσεῖον, 3338). We also learn from a new attestation of the Λ. Κοσσίνιος Ἀπολλώνιος on record in IG XII.4.2.473.33–34 that he was a physician and secretary (ἰατρὸς καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν) to a Roman magistrate (3574); just possibly the fragments 3563 and 3682 are to be joined to give an attestation of a homonymous descendent of the well-known Coan physician Xenophon (PIR2 S 913), with whom the building of a library, and a catalogue of books, may also be associated (3342). Three new records document land surveys and taxation, the Roman capitatio-iugatio, one particularly substantial at 45 lines (3363)

Novelties among the tituli varii hold interest as testimony to the varieties of everyday writing on these islands. There is an abecedary on stone, in which the practicing writer perhaps also names himself (3403); a sundial (3410; possibly also 3404); a dipinto accompanying a scene of a winged youth with a horn of plenty and comparable to an epigram in the Greek Anthology (3406, cf. AP 16.275), a moralizing epigram in senarii on a mask (3411), and an exhortation to good sportsmanship on a gaming table (3409).

Nor does the volume lack onomastic interest. Aside from the rich and diverse data afforded especially by the funerary inscriptions, there are some rare or even new names including Ἀγαλλιάσιος (3891), Ἀναγνωστικός (3500), Ἡλιοφόρα on a new reading of a known inscription (3370), Ἰησίδημος (3877), Νεμεοκλῆς (3181), and possibly Βιδεύς (3926).

The known texts in their revised form, and the texts newly offered here, succeed in large part in offering definitive editions of reference. Occasionally queries or points admitting of further discussion remain, of which a few may be mentioned here.

In the metrical epitaph for a priestess of Demeter (3905), an unusual circumstance is envisioned, namely that the deceased has been predeceased by two husbands of the same name, Apollodoros, "propter malitiam (δυσμένεια), qualis sub sole (ἐν φάει) viget." From the published photograph, one might read perhaps instead a more conventional enumeration of family and surviving relatives (Ἀ̣πολλόδωρος̣ for Ἀ̣πολλοδώρου̣ς̣ in 3 and νεανίαν̣ for νεανίας̣ in 4) and construe ἐν φάει (by metonymy, "among the living") with λιποῦσα: one husband Apollodoros and one (anonymous) son left motherless. In any case, the accompanying relief is said to have one female and one male figure. A mosaic building inscription in a Christian church names donors to the construction, Εὐστοχιανὴ ἡ κοσμιοτάτη ναυκλήρισσα κὲ Μαρία ἡ νεὸ[ς] αὐτῆς ἐψήφωσαν τὴν στοάν (3391), which is taken to mean a female ship-owner and her ship; although ships could certainly be named in antiquity, no parallels for this unusual sponsorship scenario are given, and the plural verb seems to call for two animate subjects, one of which could perhaps be the ship-owner's daughter, ἡ νέο[ς] αὐτῆς, rather than the odd by-form, or grammatical error, νεό[ς] for ναῦς. A commemoration of the consecration of the altar of a church of St. John the Theologian on Patmos (3929) cites as eponym the bishop Epithymetos, whose title should be read ἐπισκό(που) not ἐπισκ(όπου), as the photograph shows the abbreviation marked by small superscript ο, not stigma as reported; in the boundary-inscription referring to the same saint (3930) the photograph commends without hesitation the reading [Θεολ]όγου in line 5 tentatively proposed in the commentary in place of ὁσ̣ί̣ου ( The re-edition of a curse-tablet, said to have been found near the Roman baths, which invokes the Egyptian Seth and includes a drawing of the god overturning a human enemy by the hair, is the contribution of J. Curbera, who produces a drawing based on a published photograph (3401) along with commentary. The internal title εὐχὴ κατακλητική would indicate a "Prayer of invocation" as written, which is accepted in the new edition; a phonetic spelling for κατακλιτική "of subjugation" might also be considered in light of a rubric in a magical formulary on papyrus describing the procedure as a κατακλιτικόν (PGM VII 430). In line 26, ἀ̣στέρα ἔχων is printed after the sensible rejection of the first editor's -ας γέα ἔχων and ὀστέα ἔχων (Jordan), but the matter is not quite settled as the drawing nevertheless shows ΑΣΓΕΑ initio; in 30, the tablet's ΑΓΙΩΤΔ (so reported, and confirmed by the drawing) is given an unusual resolution ἁγίῳ Τ(υφῶνι) δ(αίμονι), while one might prefer to take ἁγίῳ as a substantive (cf. ἅγιος as epithet of the invoked divinity at 25 above) and read τ(ὸν) δ(εῖνα) as a mistaken copying of a formulary placeholder, given that the name of the victim, one Hermias son of Pithias, in fact follows. As for the commentary to 8–9, "Auctor adloquitur puppam ceream ...," might another possibility, an address to the divinity (Seth) invoked in the string of vocatives from line 2, be considered?

Throughout, the Greek texts are elegantly presented. Typographical errors are very rare: I encountered only the following: 3497, latus B, 5–6, ἱ̈ιερ̣[έ]|ως is printed but ΤΟΥΪΕ is cited in the apparatus as the reading of the stone, and as the first editor had ΓΕΙ|ΩΣ, one may suspect a simple mistake for ἱ̈ερ̣[έ]|ως; 3911.16, read ἂ̣ν ζῇ; ibid. 17–18, Ἡγήμανδ|[ρον]. The introductions, commentaries, and other paratextual matter are in a generally clear and correct Latin (in the titles to 3897 and 3912, read delimitationis and hydrophoro, respectively). There are the customary indices for the Milesian islands but not yet for Cos itself.

The editors are to be congratulated on a lasting achievement. This volume, and the series whose high standards it upholds, will be fundamental to the epigraphy and history of the Graeco-Roman Aegean.

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Megan Ciferelli, Laura Gawlinski (ed.), What Shall I say of Clothes? Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to the Study of Dress in Antiquity. Selected Papers on Ancient Art and Architecture 3. Boston: Archaeological Institute of America, 2017. Pp. xvi, 223. ISBN 9781931909341. $24.95.

Reviewed by Kelly Olson, The University of Western Ontario (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This volume derives from panels held in 2016 and 2015 at the annual meeting of the AIA and the American Schools of Oriental Research respectively. The short introduction briefly mentions "the residues of practices relating to dress and adornment" (x) present in the visual, textual, and archaeological records of the ancient world, and gives an outline of the book. The papers explore the dynamic, transformative nature of dress, focusing variously on art objects worn as accessories (Castor, Verduci, Castor, Beckman, Whitmore, Bursali et al., and Cifarelli) and on the representations of dress in various media (Heyn, Wueste, Neumann, McFerrin). This second category is complex, as artistic renderings are not a snapshot of life in the ancient world, but a constructed, highly particularized view of how one wants to appear.

The first section of the book ('Getting Dressed') begins with Kiersten Neumann's essay, a study of first-millennium Assyria. The gods' dress and the performance of their dressing conferred divine identity and social status during the Neo-Assyrian period, and contributed to the establishment of hierarchies that were fundamental to the ideology of the royal court. Statues of gods were also dressed and washed (11-12). Josephine Verduci's paper explores the deposition of bodily adornment in the form of jewelry and clothing attachments in the southern Levantine region, and asks in what ways these embody agency and identity. Rather than viewing the adorned body as a static social display, her perspective focuses on how normative acts construct identity, and how jewelry and other items of adornment articulate the interaction of death and lived experience.

The second section, 'Being Dressed,' begins with Alissa Whitmore's contribution. In it she examines fascina : and phallic pendants, widely interpreted as apotropaic with the support of ancient literary sources. Phallic pendants are not found in artistic representations (50), and thus burials offer the most relevant data. In her sample (just 17 instances, from the Roman west), she finds such pendants are strongly associated with children; other sites yield phallic jewelry in adult female burials. She notes however that evidently (due to the scarcity of phallic amulets in children's graves generally), such amulets were not held to be a necessary part of the ritual. She details an experiment with a replica amulet worn by a colleague in which the phallus, suspended from different lengths and thickness of cord/chain "was in a near-constant state of motion" (57). Perhaps this was essential to its apotropaic properties, as its darting in and out of clothing folds would attract and hold the gaze of the invidious viewer.

The next essay (Eric Beckmann) looks at the link between imagery and color in ancient amuletic and medicinal gemstones, meant to provide the bearer with protection or relief from illness (67). For example, yellow gemstone amulets often display a carving of a scorpion and were used to ward off scorpion stings; the gemstone crushed into powder and made into a salve or ingested is recommended as a remedy for a sting (73). Amulets are often found as rings or pendants, but there is some indication they may have been tied into garments as well, or carried in a pouch (72). Yellow gemstones may also have a connection to yellow bile, heat, dryness, and fire (75), an overabundance of which carries symptoms similar to scorpion stings. The scorpion was also connected to Mars, himself connected with fire, yellow bile, and Orion (77ff).

Alexis Castor's contribution begins by rightly lamenting the absence of any typology for ancient jewelry. She focuses on the dense, minute surface decoration on some pieces of Greek and Etruscan jewelry, which was often invisible to the viewer while it muted the gleam of the gold piece as well. Castor also examines the "technology of enchantment" inherent in jewelry (that is, the psycho-social effects), and searches for its social context as it was experienced in a sensory way (84). "[T]he combination of plain and rough surfaces on an object requires the brain to sort out its patterns, thus focus on the object lasts longer."(85). She also contends that this type of jewelry had audiences: those at a distance and those invited to view the object close up.

Megan Cifarelli's chapter examines dress-related artifacts from burials of the early first millennium BCE in Hasanlu in relation to theories of embodiment (102). Rather than viewing burial goods as "relatively straightforward representations of the fixed social identity of the deceased" (103), dress has "haptic impact" (ibid). Items of dress were "active elements in the construction of identity, social reproduction, and embodied personhood" (104), and she urges dress historians to avoid reading dress "like a text," and instead examine how social identity is negotiated and re-negotiated through dress. One framework for understanding change in dress is 'costly signaling theory,' a theory originating in the field of evolutionary biology, that accounts for traits assumed which are a handicap to their owners (like a peacock's tail, 104). Examples in dress history include restrictive garments and the burial of expensive ornaments with the deceased (106). Cifarelli examines here the large sharp pins found with female burials in Hasanlu, used to hold garments in place with discomfort and danger to the wearer (112-13). Interestingly, skeletal remains of women buried with these pins show a lesser degree of injuries relating to external and "local routine violence," perhaps because such pins "served as visual amplification of… the unassailability of their persons" (115).

Section three is 'Dress and Identity,' and begins with a chapter on Neolithic blue beads (Ayşe Bursalı, Rana Özbal, Emma Baysal, Hadi Özbal, Barış Yağcı). Here the authors examine imitation turquoise beads recovered from the seventh millennium BCE Neolithic levels of Barcın Höyük in northwest Anatolia, as well as beads from other Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites in Turkey and northern Mesopotamia. Beads were indicators of age, affiliation, power, or social status (124), and the imitation beads were manufactured using bone, tooth, or ivory (with the application of manganese and possibly heat: 132-4). The desire to own and wear simulated precious stone perhaps hints that social inequality in Anatolia (conventionally held to have appeared in the fourth or even the third millennium BCE) may have be in place as early as the seventh (126).

Neville McFerrin's important chapter in this section begins by noting the tendency of dress scholars in the past to emphasize "identification and classifications, generally of ethnic groups, dictated the interpretational endeavor, while multiplicities of purpose and viewership—and of individual agency—tended to be overlooked entirely" (148). She finds clear variations in dress of the figures in the friezes here (though not variations in physical forms), and that there are carefully delineated differences even between groups (149-50). Most interesting is the architectural decoration on the reliefs that actually parallel dress ornaments: the medallions with rosettes, which appear in art on high-status persons; and the crenellations which mark the upper edge of the Apadana reliefs, which resemble the turreted crown worn by Darius on the Bisitun monument (153).

Laura Gawlinski's excellent chapter also begins with section on past theories of dress: how scholarship on dress in living religions has mostly focused on physical religious identity (161). Greek religion, on the other hand, may be counted an "embedded" religion, inasmuch as there was no definitive separation between civic and religious life, and the question therefore is what we should expect to constitute "religious" dress in such a context. She does note examples of reliefs in which items (a knife or keys) indicate a male or female religious: but intriguingly, she says, such dress elements are related to actions: religion is what someone does (sacrificing, opening the temple), rather than what someone is. Gawlinski also cautions about placing "too much scholarly focus on the reception of the communication that dress sends" (169) and reiterates that dress does not merely reflect social forces, but is "a participant in their creation and recreations" (172).

In Elizabeth Wueste's chapter, the author has examined late antique statues dating 284 – 550 CE using Last Statues of Antiquity and finds 52% of the honorands had themselves depicted in the toga. Statues wearing high imperial and contabulate togas are examples of reuse (i.e., new portrait heads placed on old bodies); there is no example in late antiquity of a new statue being carved with either toga style. Wueste posits therefore that the appeal was not the specific garment, but "the archaizing visual effect and perhaps the traditional Roman values it represented" (189). Second in popularity to the toga was the Greek himation, often associated with intellectuals, Christians, and philosophers. Wueste finds fewer than 2%-3% of the people depicted so are identified as such, yet 20% wear it. She states this is because in the Greek east, the himation (worn along with the chiton) was the garment of civic engagement (190). Late antique statues also wear the chlamys (191-2), a garment "oriented toward the court culture of the new capital" (192).

Lastly is Maura Heyn's chapter, which focuses on the clothing worn by women in the funerary sculpture from Palmyra. The women wear the Greco-Roman tunic and cloak, but intriguingly unlike provincial males pair them with more locally specific items: turbans, diadems across their foreheads, and eventually elaborate jewelry (203). This is not unusual in provincial communities and is usually attributed to public, more civically oriented activities of men versus the private, domestic activities of women. However Heyn cautions against a direct and simplistic equation of dress styles with identity. The iconography changes significantly over two centuries of production in Palmyra, moving from "displaying cultural identity to focus attention on a woman's family" (205).

Each chapter in this volume is a valuable contribution to ancient dress (especially those concerning the Near East and Turkey, subjects not often found in books on "ancient" dress) and a helpful compendium on fascinating new directions in studies on ancient clothing and adornment. Emphasis is particularly laid on the lived experience of dress: that is, not as a costume or text signifying social rank, status, etc., but rather on the haptic experience of clothing: the act of wearing. I would count it essential reading for every scholar of costume in antiquity.

Authors and titles

Section One: Getting Dressed
Gods Among Men: Fashioning the Divine Image in Assyria, Kiersten Neumann
Early Iron Age Adornment within Southern Levantine Mortuary Contexts: An Argument for Existential Significance in Understanding Material Culture, Josephine A. Verduci
Section Two: Being Dressed
Fascinating Fascina : Apotropaic Magic and How to Wear a Penis, Alissa M. Whitmore
Color-Coded: The Relationship between Color, Iconography, and Theory in Hellenistic and Roman Gemstones, Eric Beckman
Surface Tensions on Etruscan and Greek Jewelry, Alexis Q. Castor
Costly Choices: Signaling Theory and Dress in Period IVb Hasanlu, Iran, Megan Cifarelli
Section Three: Dress and Identity
Neolithic Blue Beads in Northwest Turkey: The Social Significance of Skeuomorphism, Ayşe Bursalı, Rana Özbal, Emma Baysal, Hadi Özbal, Barış Yağcı
Fabrics of Inclusion: Deep Wearing and the Potentials of Materiality on the Apadana Reliefs, Neville McFerrin
Theorizing Religious Dress, Laura Gawlinski
The Costumes and Attributes of Late Antique Honorific Monuments: Conformity and Divergence within the Public and Political Sphere, Elizabeth Wueste
Western Men, Eastern Women? Dress and Cultural Identity in Roman Palmyra, Maura K. Heyn
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Maria Gerolemou (ed.), Recognizing Miracles in Antiquity and Beyond. Trends in classics. Supplementary volumes, 53. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Pp. xx, 430. ISBN 9783110530469. €119,95.

Reviewed by Trevor S. Luke, Florida State University (

Version at BMCR home site


This volume originated in a conference on miracles and wonders in antiquity and the Byzantine period held in the autumn of 2014 at the University of Cyprus. (Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.) Taken as a whole, Recognizing Miracles well represents the challenges one encounters when grappling with the topic of miracles and wonders in antiquity. From the outset the editor, Maria Gerolemou, acknowledges problems of definition that may nag at the reader throughout the volume. What is a miracle? How is it different, if it is, from a wonder? What impact does wonderment have on belief and knowledge? Is wonderment hostile to knowledge or does it induce one to search for greater understanding? The chapters in this volume address these and other questions, both directly and indirectly, making it worthwhile reading for anyone working on the topics of miracles, wonders, paradoxography, and the role of all these in Greek and Latin literature.

Both the strength and the limitation of this volume lie in its predominantly literary approach. The contributors generally stick to the literary analysis of texts featuring wonders and miracles. Those unfamiliar with the study of paradoxography will be exposed not only to analyses of miracles and wonders in a wide range of texts but also to bibliography that provides context for the larger scholarly discussion of these phenomena. Readers will thus gain a stronger grasp of the importance of paradoxography in Greek and Roman literature, as well as the nuances of different ancient authors' constructions of both their worlds and their authorial identities through their treatment of miracles and wonders. No one with Recognizing Miracles under their belt will have any excuse to treat Pausanias' conception of wonders the same as Polybius', vel sim.

Other readers, drawn to the book by its title, may be disappointed that innovative work in anthropology, archaeology, art history, and religious studies has not been engaged to their satisfaction. Naturally, no single conference or volume can hope to touch on every important aspect of such a vast and protean topic. The reader's sense of unfulfilled promises may arise in part from language in Gerolemou's Introduction (X-XI): "the volume approaches miracles and wonders as counter intuitive [sic] phenomena, beyond cognitive grasp, which challenge the authenticity of human experience and knowledge and expand the frontiers of intellectual and aesthetic experience based on the notion of credibility, rather than on the negative analysis of the concept as an affirmation of epistemological certainties or as an element of fiction." That is a tall order, as well as a provocative position to stake out, and it is unsurprising that not every contribution appears to have pursued this ambitious agenda. For those familiar with the work of Ann Taves, the word "experience" leaps off the page, but the reader soon realizes that here it is examined primarily as mediated by ancient authors' perspectives and agendas. 1

Nevertheless, what Gerolemou has written is true in that, departing from well-worn lines of argument on these topics, the volume explores the rhetorical and generic strategies ancient authors employed when writing (about) wonders and situating themselves within, or in relation to, the rich tradition of paradoxographic writing. Such questions have been frequently overlooked in favor of exploring the relationship between ancient views of wonders and the "epistemological certainties" of our time.2 Moreover, one can argue that ancient authors writing about wonders and miracles are participating in a culture that deems these phenomena special in a way that makes them worth writing about in the first place. Therefore, even the apparent limitations of literary evidence are not to be viewed as disqualifying or insurmountable problems when one considers the experience that underlies that evidence. Writing (about) wonders and miracles truly is part of the larger culture of wonders and miracles.3

A word of criticism must be added before summarizing the contents of the volume. One hesitates to carp at faults at a time when a great abundance of useful scholarship on even the most recondite of topics is being made widely available both electronically and also in hardcopy books. Still, one sometimes yearns for the skills of the able copyeditor. Recognizing Miracles suffers from uneven editing, resulting occasionally in passages that are difficult to parse. This problem must be partly attributed to the generous efforts of non-native speakers of English to make their work broadly accessible. Still, one has cause to wonder (pun intended) at the puzzling errors that crop up in Anglophone scholars' contributions. One must accept the trade-off between accessibility and polish, it seems, but lingering questions regarding authors' intended meanings can be distracting.

A synopsis of the contents of the volume is here provided, beginning with the First Section (the authors' full names are given below). In Chapter One, Nichols argues that Ctesias' Indica is not a paradoxography. Although it contains similar material, its subject matter was more wide-ranging, including such things as customs and medicine. Prêtre demonstrates in Chapter Two how the arrangement and content of the healing inscriptions at Epidaurus were designed to bolster the credibility of Asclepius and overcome, at the outset, potential skepticism regarding his powers. In Chapter Three, Kazantzidis illustrates how human oddities were segregated from other paradoxes until the Imperial period, when the two categories converged. Hau analyzes in Chapter Four Polybius' use of the word thauma to highlight the remarkable behavior and feats of cognition of great figures of history. Papaioannou traces recurring motifs of serpents, Apollo, and healing surrounding important political leaders in Roman historiography and biography from the Augustan to Trajanic eras in Chapter Five. In Chapter Six, Kraft demonstrates how the figure of Christ serves as an archetype for the figure of the Last Emperor in Byzantine apocalypses.

The Second Section opens with Gerolemou's discussion of the mnemonic function of thaumata in Herodotus' historiography. According to her argument, Herodotus exploits the emotional power of the thauma to shape readers' memories of the past. In Chapter Eight, Demetriou examines how Plautus uses the dramatization of wonders and wonderment to evaluate approaches to the divine and highlight the limits of human perception. Neger, in Chapter Nine, illustrates Pliny's epistolary architecture of the self through the lens of wonders of both nature and the supernatural. Delattre argues that the paradoxical is not inherent in the nature of the topic but is instead the effect a skilled author produces in Chapter Ten. The authority of the author is established in his ability to evoke the paradoxical. In Chapter Eleven, Mheallaigh elucidates how Lucian's treatment of the fraudulent techniques of charlatans such as Alexander of Abonouteichos serves as a mirror for the author's own literary marvels.

The Third Section opens with Hunziger's phenomenological foray into thauma in archaic Greek literature, wherein ancient authors' awareness of both the illusionary and intellectually fruitful aspects of wonder is illuminated. In Chapter Thirteen, Leyra maps out the relationship between wonder and science in accounts of miracles that occurred during the travels and conquests of Alexander the Great. Langerwerf, in Chapter Fourteen, expands on Elsner's earlier argument regarding Pausanias' Periegesis as an account of pilgrimage with the argument that the author is also very much an historian whose persona includes the skepticism expected of a pepaideumenos, something that his accounts of paradoxes allow him to establish.4 Tsakmakis discusses the role of miracles in biographical traditions and biography from the works of poets and biographies of pre-Socratic philosophers and into late antiquity, with special emphasis on Plutarchan biography, in Chapter Fifteen. Plutarch, following a historiographical tradition laid down by Thucydides, includes miraculous material, with necessary qualification, for the appropriate amplification of a grand subject. The final two contributions, by May and Lateiner, take us to the topic of miracles in the novel. May illuminates Apuleius' deft use of necromantic motifs, which "blur the boundaries between life and death" and prepare the reader for the transformative effect of Lucius' initiation into the mysteries of Isis. Lateiner situates the treatment of miracles in the Greek novel within the larger context of ancient literature, arguing that in the Greek novel miraculous themes were used to fine effect in a way that was both allusive and relatable to the daily experience of contemporary readers eager for emotional escape.

Addressing a broad swath of genres over a grand sweep time, Recognizing Miracles is not the first or definitive word on miracles and wonders in Greek and Roman literature, but it is recommended reading for both scholars who specialize therein and also readers who want to begin to grapple with issues regarding the literary role of these phenomena.

Authors and titles

Maria Gerolemou, Introduction: In search of the Miraculous
I. Miracles
1. Andrew Nichols, Ctesius' Indica and the Origins of Paradoxography
2. Clarisse Prêtre, The Epidaurian Iamata: The first "Court of Miracles"?
3. George Kazantzidis, Medicine and the paradox in the Hippocratic Corpus and Beyond
4. Lisa Irene Hau, 'One might rightly wonder'—marvelling in Polybios' Histories
5. Sophia Papaioannou, Omens and Miracles: Interpreting Miraculous Narratives in Roman Historiography
6. András Kraft, Miracles and Pseudo-Miracles in Byzantine Apocalypses

II. Workings of Miracles
7. Maria Gerolemou, Wonder-ful Memories in Herodotus' Histories
8. Chrysanthi Demetriou, Wonder(s) in Plautus
9. Margot Neger, Telling Tales of Wonder: Mirabilia in the Letters of Pliny the Younger
10. Charles Delattre, Paradoxographic discourse on sources and fountains: deconstructing paradoxes
11. Karen ní Mheallaigh, Lucian's Alexander: technoprophecy, thaumatology and the poetics of wonder

III. Believing in Miracles
12. Christine Hunzinger, Perceiving Thauma in Archaic Greek Epic
13. Irene Pajón Leyra, Turning Science into Miracle in the Voyage of Alexander the Great
14. Lydia Langerwerf, 'Many are the wonders in Greece': Pausanias the wandering philosopher
15. Antonis Tsakmakis, Miracles in Greek Biography
16. Regine May, Apuleius on Raising the Dead: Crossing the Boundaries of Life and Death while Convincing the Audience
17. Donald Lateiner, Recognizing Miracles in ancient Greek Novels
List of Contributors
Index Nominum et Rerum


1.   See Ann Taves, Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things. Princeton University Press, 2011.
2.   See, by way of contrast, R. L. Gordon, "Reality, evocation and boundary in the Mysteries of Mithras," Journal of Mithraic Studies 3 (1980) 21: "The fantastic element in religion is not itself particularly interesting, inasmuch as it is merely a sub-set of the entire human capacity for thinking and speaking about the non-actual . . . ."
3.   On the religious significance of ancient writing on religion, see Mary Beard, "A Complex of Times: No More Sheep on Romulus' Birthday," Classical Journal 33 (1987) 1-15.
4.   J. Elsner, "Pausanias: A Greek Pilgrim in the Roman World," Past & Present 135 (1992) 3-29.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019


John Granger Cook, Empty Tomb, Resurrection, Apotheosis. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 410. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018. Pp. xvi, 717. ISBN 9783161565038. €164,00.

Reviewed by Kelly Shannon-Henderson, University of Alabama (

Version at BMCR home site


In this book, New Testament scholar John Granger Cook collects evidence for the concept of resurrection in Greek, Roman, Jewish, and early Christian texts. He aims to prove two propositions: "first, there is no fundamental difference between Paul's conception of the resurrection body and that of the Gospels; and second, the resurrection and translation stories of Greco-Roman antiquity probably help explain the willingness of Mediterranean people to gradually accept the Gospel of a crucified and risen savior" (1). The first of these will be of interest primarily to specialists in early Christian studies, while the second will appeal to a wider audience of scholars of classical literature, ancient religions, and ancient history. My own interest in this volume is of the latter type, and it is from that point of view that this review is written. Classicists will find here a wealth of information, some of it perhaps unfamiliar, stretching across many linguistic, temporal, cultural, and religious boundaries that will prove useful in considering the concept of resurrection in its pan-Mediterranean context.

The volume consists of an introduction, seven chapters, and conclusion; an appendix of 37 images keyed to discussions in the main text; a bibliography listing the editions of ancient sources, databases and websites, and selected scholarly works consulted; an index of selected passages; and brief indexes of images, ancient figures, modern scholars, and terminology. Ancient texts are quoted directly, and English translations are provided (particularly welcome for this reviewer for evidence in Hebrew and Syriac).

In the introduction, Cook defines his scope for analysis as "physical resurrection" of the body (to be distinguished from "the immortality of the soul and variations thereof"). The approach taken to identify such instances is primarily linguistic: Cook asserts that "a fundamental marker for the concept 'resurrection' in the New Testament and elsewhere… is the bodily motion upward of a formerly dead individual" (2), an idea present in verbs such as ἀνίστημι, ἐγείρω, and resurgo. Cook then discusses the semantics of such verbs in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, with Greek receiving the most emphasis.

Chapter 1, "Resurrection of Divinities," collects examples of stories of "dying and rising gods" from various Mediterranean polytheistic contexts, which Cook analyzes with "the goal of ascertaining whether or not some of them experienced a vicissitude analogous to bodily resurrection," in order to prove the thesis that "the belief of some ancient people that certain divinities had overcome death… may have been fertile ground for their willingness to accept the Gospel of a crucified and risen Christ" (56). He concludes that the stories of Osiris, Dionysus, and Heracles/Melqart provide the strongest analogies for Jesus' resurrection. Cook admits, however, that the concept of dying and rising gods "is not of fundamental importance" for his project (53), and one wonders whether the 87 pages of material here, while interesting, might not have been better treated in a separate study.

Chapter 2, "Resurrection Accounts in Greek and Latin," collects literary, epigraphical, and iconographic testimonia for accounts of resurrection, mostly pagan; Greek literature takes up the bulk of the chapter (144-208), while Latin texts get comparatively short shrift (208-223). Cook's goal is to illustrate the difference between real resurrection and accounts of bodily translation (the subject of chapter 4). He adopts a "somewhat fluid" (144) definition of resurrection, which allows him to include stories of bringing someone out of the underworld (e.g. Heracles and Alcestis), demigods and wonder- workers raising people from the dead (e.g. Asclepius, Apollonius of Tyana), and even metaphorical or rhetorical references to the concept of resurrection. From this wealth of evidence, Cook concludes that "the concept … was widely available to elite Greco Roman authors" (246).

Cook is interested in the motif of the empty tomb as it applies to the gospels' narrative of Jesus' resurrection; in chapter 3, "Tombs and Post-Mortem Appearances," he collects from (mostly) non-Christian texts examples of similar instances. This includes cases where an individual, presumed dead, appears elsewhere while his/her tomb is found empty (e.g. Aristeas of Proconnesus); where the dead person appears although the tomb is known not to be empty (e.g. Protesilaos); and where a tomb is found to be empty although no subsequent appearance of the deceased takes place (e.g. Numa). While Cook suggests some of these stories may be better interpreted as translations than as resurrections, the motif of the empty tomb is shown to be amply present in non-Christian texts.

Chapter 4, "Translations and Apotheoses of Heroes," considers stories of legendary (e.g. Achilles) and historical individuals (e.g. Pompey) who are said to disappear or be removed from mortal life, sometimes to a location such as the Isles of the Blessed, and presumably made immortal. Cook emphasizes several differences between these stories and accounts of true resurrection from the dead: a translated person typically does not appear again on earth after translation; often the translated person disappears before his/her actual death; and different vocabulary is used to describe the translated person's removal (e.g. ἁρπάζω), not words like ἀνίστημι/ἐγείρω that imply motion upward.

In the book's shortest chapter (chapter 5, "Apotheoses of Emperors"), Cook considers a specific category of translation: the deification of Roman emperors. Cook surveys textual evidence for the deifications of emperors and members of the imperial family from Julius Caesar to Antoninus Pius, concluding that the apotheosis of an emperor is very similar to the post-resurrection ascension of Jesus, with the difference that "only the emperors' souls ascended to the gods, while Luke affirms that Jesus' risen body was taken to heaven" (454). The analysis in this chapter is questionable in a few respects. Cook seems to conflate the imago (wax mask of an ancestor worn in procession at his descendants' funerals) with the wax image of a deceased person (especially, in this context, an emperor) used in a funus imaginarium, leading to the curious remark that Polybius, in his famous passage on funerals (6.53.1-4), "does not mention the practice of burning the wax image of the deceased." Cook's discussion also elides the difference between official apotheosis and other categories of posthumous honors or worship, since he includes evidence relating to emperors (Nero, 445) and members of the imperial household (Germanicus, 419; Antinous, 427) who were never deified by decree of the Senate. Furthermore, Cook's evidence does not seem definitively to support his conclusion that only the emperor's soul was thought to ascend to heaven, not his body. While several of the texts quoted do refer to an emperor's anima or ψυχή being carried upwards (e.g. Dio 56.42.3, Ovid Met. 15.855-857), and while Cook is right to follow Gradel in rejecting Bickermann's notion that the wax image proves that the ancients believed that the emperor definitively ascended bodily to heaven, it does not necessarily follow that worshippers always believed that it was only an emperor's spirit that joined the gods. Cook admits (432) that Ovid Fasti 3.701-2 in fact seems to suggest that Venus snatched Caesar's physical body away into heaven, in contradiction with the passage from Met.. A more cautious and nuanced way to interpret all this evidence might be to say that the question of body vs. soul was perhaps not one that many ancient people would even have asked about imperial apotheosis; as Gradel has noted on this issue, "Elsewhere, pagan theology contained glaring theological inconsistencies, which were not felt to be a problem, simply because pagan religion was not very preoccupied with dogmas and theology."1

Chapter 6, "Resurrection in the Hebrew Bible and Later Jewish Texts," is the book's longest, although Cook has been selective in his citation of rabbinic material (518), which chronologically speaking stretches from around the 2nd century BCE to the 11th century CE. This material again could perhaps have been pruned (especially since texts are included from much later periods than for any other category of literature under examination in the other chapters), but its breadth allows Cook to demonstrate amply that the idea of bodily resurrection was mentioned and debated in Jewish literature, with the clearest examples being Daniel 12:2-3 and Hosea 6:2.

By this point, Cook has certainly provided ample evidence for the existence of Greco-Roman and Jewish traditions of resurrection that could have helped to smooth the way for the acceptance of Christianity. In the final chapter, "Empty Tomb, Resurrection, and Translation in the NT," he returns to the other of his two main propositions: that Paul's discussion of the resurrected body of Jesus in 1 Cor 15 is not in fundamental conflict with the Gospels. Contrary to the practice of extensive primary-source quotation employed in other chapters, no text or translation of many of these biblical passages is given, so non-specialist readers will want to be sure to have their Greek New Testament to hand here. Some NT scholars have asserted that Paul did not believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ because he does not mention the empty tomb at 1 Cor 15:3-5; Cook argues against this, emphasizing Paul's use of ἐγείρω, which is never used to describe ascension of the soul but only resurrection of the body. He also cites evidence showing that Mark, Q, and Luke all suggest Jesus' bodily resurrection. Cook concludes that, when 1 Cor 15 is considered in light of the weight of evidence for a belief in bodily resurrection widely present in Mediterranean culture of the time that he has presented in the preceding chapters, "Paul could not have conceived of a risen Jesus whose body was rotting away in the tomb" (591; italics original), while acknowledging that this "argument is not deductive, but inductive" (592).

The reader may disagree with some of Cook's observations, and one might have wished for a deeper, more cohesive analysis of the vast array of evidence assembled here. The conclusion (only five pages long) summarizes the chapters' findings but does not offer further observations or suggestions for future directions. This book is also extremely long, and there are places where judicious pruning might have made for a more streamlined text. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of information included here is also the book's main strength. While few may have the stamina to read Empty Tomb from cover to cover, many will find it valuable as a θησαυρός of passages and bibliography on which they will draw again and again. It will serve as a reference for scholars working on topics related to resurrection, and the testimonia it assembles will undoubtedly be the seeds of future enquiries and discussions. Although Cook seems to aim primarily at a reader who is also a scholar of early Christianity, the book will be of use to those in other disciplines as well. He is particularly to be congratulated for bringing material from his own area of expertise together with Jewish and Greco- Roman pagan texts, in a way that will likely introduce readers from any of these disciplines to evidence that is new to them.

The volume's presentation is unfortunately marred by numerous typographical errors, mostly suggestive of mere carelessness2, but a few are more consequential.3 One hopes the press will invest more resources in copy editing in the future.


1.   Ittai Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion (BMCR 2003.09.26), 284. Cook quotes from both before and after this sentence, putting the weight on the fact that Bickermann is wrong to assert bodily ascension, rather than on Gradel's point about Roman religion's tolerance of inconsistency and indeterminacy.
2.   For example, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (correctly, 329) is repeatedly referred to as "Dionysius Halicarnassus" (25, 260, 305, 335), and highlighting has been left in several footnotes (e.g. 88 n. 190).
3.   An extraneous negative has Cook appear to contradict his own stated aim in the introduction: "Acceptance of the Gospel… by the Mediterranean people was not due in part to the analogies of resurrection in paganism" (54, italics mine). Eudoxus of Cnidus is said on one occasion to date from the 4th century CE rather than BCE (129), although the date is given correctly elsewhere.

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Noel Lenski, Catherine M. Cameron (ed.), What is a Slave Society? The Practice of Slavery in Global Perspective. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. xvii, 508. ISBN 9781316534908. £105 (pb).

Reviewed by Jason Douglas Porter, University of Nottingham (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Students of ancient history like myself are often gladdened to see their subject incorporated into broader comparative histories. The present volume does just that and is all the more welcome because ancient slavery has been absent from several recent thematic volumes on global slavery.1 Antiquity is crucial to this volume, whose theme is a critique of the 'slave society' framework set out by arguably the most influential historian of ancient slavery ever to have lived, Moses Finley. This book has significant value for advancing approaches to Graeco-Roman slavery, especially in relation to world history. As the volume is geographically wide-ranging, I will focus in this review on the essays relating to antiquity, but draw out the broader significance of the volume's framework for ancient historians interested in global slavery studies.

As its title suggests, What is a Slave Society? questions Finley's assertion that there have been five genuine 'slave societies' in history (Greece, Rome, the US South, the Caribbean and Brazil), owing to the high proportional number of slaves they contained, the reliance of elites on slave labour, and the extent to which slavery permeated their cultural output. The editors reject the usefulness of this, the titular conceit of their book, early on. They highlight three problems with Finley's model, which are discussed throughout the remainder of the book's chapters: the size of Finley's list of slave societies (it is far too short), the rigid and arbitrary qualifications of the definition, and it is ethnocentric focus on Western societies.

Lenski's opening chapter expands on these criticisms, and offers an alternative approach. He begins by briefly setting out the background to the model in Finley's writings, and then provides a detailed overview of the pervasive effect that it has had on subsequent scholarship. Lenski also examines Finley's "Westerncentrism" in more detail, arguing that a combination of Western exceptionalism and post-colonial reshaping of attitudes towards Western cultural heritage led Finley to forefront Western societies as deserving of this "dishonourable… distinction" (p. 25). (The argument here is sound, but a more simple explanation might be that Finley's historical expertise, impressive though it undoubtedly was, was largely limited to the societies he mentions). Lenski proceeds to identify five other societies outside the western tradition that nevertheless qualify for Finley's dubious honour: Carthage, Sarmatia, Native societies on the northwest American coast, the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kingdom of Dahomey. Next, he addresses four problems with the model itself: 1.) Of Finley's three qualifications for a slave society (see above), the first is arbitrary and the other two are vague. 2.) "Society" is vague, and is often used to compare polities, geographical areas and complex empires under the same rubric. 3.) Finley's definition is incorrectly tied to what he perceived to be the imperatives of such a society. 4.) A binary set of categories has the potential to invite unwarranted similarities and differences between societies.

Lenski then proposes an alternative comparative model which judges a slave system by its resemblance to an "ideal type", which he constructs by combining the two most influential definitions of slavery: the use of humans as property, and Orlando Patterson's definition of slavery as the permanent, violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonoured persons. He then sets out a number of criteria in two groups by which a society might be comparatively assessed on the value it placed on slave labour, and the extent to which its treatment of slaves corresponded to the most extreme connotations of Patterson's definition. By assigning a numerical value to each of these criteria and adding them together, Lenski produces a single integer that expresses his evaluation of the intensification of slavery across several test cases. Lenski's model is a marked improvement on that of Finley. By placing societies on a scale and by making its assessment through a broader set of criteria than Finley admitted, it removes the issues inherent in his binary model. I offer some small criticism: firstly, Lenski does not address the problem he identifies with Finley's vague definition of a "society" as the subject of comparative inquiry. This is an issue raised by several of the volume's later chapters. For example, the authors in part 3 point out considerable chronological and regional variations in the "societies" that they study, and Freamon's chapter on the East African slave trade argues for the assessment of a slave society as a broad geographical area, in which numerous states and communities are interconnected by climatic similarities. Criticism might also be made of Lenski's computation of these factors, for different factors in different combinations can produce the same numerical outcome. Finally, I personally have reservations about the use of Patterson's "natal alienation" as a definitional criterion for slavery, including those expressed by Harper and Scheidel (pp. 92–3) and Toledano (p. 362) in this volume. What consequently amounts, in my opinion, to an ahistorically extreme description of the consequences of owning human beings (true of course in many, but not all, cases) should not be treated as a definition. Of course, I am sure that there are many who will disagree with me on this point, and even unattached to a definition of slavery I find Lenski's framework useful and his model flexible enough to accommodate future tinkering with its specifics.

Peter Hunt argues (chapter 2) for the usefulness of Finley's definition in the Greek world, providing an excellent overview of the importance of slavery to classical Attica, by pointing to (in reasonably cautious terms) the high number of slaves in Athens, the economic importance of slavery, and its permeation of Athenian culture. He argues that Sparta, conversely, was fundamentally different because of its exploitation of a categorically different servile group, the helots. Hunt argues that the agrarian, rent-paying nature of the helots' work, in addition to their quasi-ownership over the means of production from which they paid their Spartan masters, make their status closer to that of serfs and therefore significantly different from that of Athenian douloi. However, if there was a fundamental difference between the helots and the slaves of other poleis, it was not one which was recognised by contemporary Greeks, and a fragment of Ephorus suggests that helots could be privately sold (FGrH 70 F 117), which undermines any rights over property which the helots may be said to have had. Hunt acknowledges these issues, but stresses the actual likelihood of a given helot being sold as an issue of importance here. As David Lewis has recently argued the opposite point of view to Hunt regarding the status of the helots, I look forward to the debate which Hunt's chapter is sure to provoke.2

In chapter three, Kyle Harper and Walter Scheidel discuss the influence of the "slave society" concept on the study of Roman history and provide a stimulating discussion on the importance of slavery throughout the history of the Roman Empire, viewing Finley's "slave society" formulation as a considerable advance in the study of ancient slavery. However, Harper and Scheidel remain sceptical about the connection between large-scale slavery and strong notions of individual freedom first posited by Finley and more recently argued by Patterson. They offer an alternative narrative, couched in purely economic terms, which sees slaves as commodified persons, and thereby the rise of a slave society as resulting from a high demand for and supply of this particular commodity. They then provide a chronological overview of the rise and continuity of large-scale slavery across the Roman Empire until the plague of Justinian. This is a useful synthesis, taking into account of the many different regions subsumed into the Roman world, and (like Hunt's chapter) demonstrates the value of Finley's definition in expressing the importance of slavery to a particular society—if not in strictly comparative terms.

Chapter 4, the book's second by Lenski, further elaborates several criticisms of Finley, and provides the qualitative groundwork for the comparison between slavery in Rome and the Antebellum South which he uses to demonstrate his model of intensification in the first chapter. He begins with a lengthy discussion on the sociological influences on Finley's thinking—and the Greco-Roman exceptionalism Finley maintained independently. Lenski then offers a critique of Finley's connection of slavery to a value of personal freedom, which was based almost entirely on an explanation of the rise of slavery in classical Athens that has recently been heavily criticised.3 Returning to the issue of how the label of "slave society" elides differences between slave systems, he then offers a short comparison between Athens and the US South. Lenski makes several useful points, but his insistence that slavery was of no real importance to Athenian agriculture (listed as one of the big differences between both systems) is much more controversial than he maintains, and Hunt's discussion (pp. 71–2) provides a more robust reading of the evidence, showing that slavery was of key importance in this sector. Finally, in an admirable exercise in comparative history, Lenski compares Rome and the US South. One wonders, however, if this second chapter might better have been combined into Lenski's first. There is much overlap between the subjects of both, and a full demonstration of the model in a single place would have been preferable. The superb analysis of Finley's influences would have been well suited to an introductory chapter as well. Naturally, this would have resulted in an extremely long first chapter, but there is successful precedent for such.4

The contributors to Part II of the volume discuss slavery in small-scale societies. All are unified in their belief that Finley's model is problematic for comparisons with their subjects. Part III discusses slavery in Finley's modern "slave societies", and here the contributors are more positive about the usefulness of the term—though they recognise its problems and limitations. Part IV discusses slavery in non-Western, modern societies. These chapters raise similar concerns to those of Part II, though a notable exception in this regard is Toledano, who fully endorses Finley's concept of "society with slaves" (i.e. not a "slave society") for the slave systems of the Ottoman Empire and Islamic world.

For ancient historians this book contains some important remarks on Greek and Roman slavery and a thought-provoking methodological framework in which to study them. For those with a broader interest in comparative slavery, it is invaluable. In their introduction, the editors hold that the label of "slave society" has value as a flexibly employed "descriptive term" (7). This statement is borne out by the final results of this project, which benefit in particular from its format as an edited volume. This allows specialists in different periods of history to answer the important question which Finley's formulation prompts: how crucial was slavery to different societies throughout history, and in what ways?

Table of Contents

p1. Noel Lenski and Catherine M. Cameron, "Introduction: Slavery and Society in Global Perspective" (pp. 1–14)
2. Noel Lenski, "Framing the Question: What is a Slave Society?" (pp. 15–57)
3. Peter Hunt, "Ancient Greece as a Slave Society" (pp. 61–85)
4. Kyle Harper and Walter Scheidel, "Roman Slavery and the Idea of 'Slave Society'" (pp. 86–105)
5. Noel Lenski, "Ancient Slaveries and Modern Ideology" (pp. 106–147)
6. Catherine M. Cameron, "The Nature of Slavery in Small-Scale Societies" (pp. 151–168)
7. Christina Synder, "Native American Slavery in Global Context" (pp. 169–190)
8. Fernando Santos-Granero, "Slavery as Structure, Process, or Lived Experience, or Why Slave Societies Existed in Precontact Tropical America" (pp. 191–219)
9. Paul E. Lovejoy, "Slavery in Societies on the Frontiers of Centralized States in West Africa" (pp. 220–247)
10. Aldair Carlos Rodrigues, "The Colonial Brazilian 'Slave Society': Potentialities, Limits, and Challenges to an Interpretative Model Inspired by Moses Finley" (pp. 251–271)
11. Robert Gudmestad, "What is a Slave Society?: The American South" (pp. 272–289)
12. Theresa Singleton, "Islands of Slavery: Archaeology and Caribbean Landscapes of Intensification" (290–309)
13. Matthew S. Hopper, "Was Nineteenth-Century Eastern Arabia a 'Slave Society'?" (pp 313–337)
14. Bernard K. Freamon, "Slavery and Society in East Africa, Oman, and the Persian Gulf" (pp. 337–359)
15. Ehud R. Toledano, "Ottomon and Islamic Societies: Were They 'Slave Societies'?" (pp. 360–382)
16. Kim Bok-rae, "A Microhistorical Analysis of Korean Nobis through the Prism of the Lawsuit of Damulsari" (pp. 383–409).
17. Antony Reid, "'Slavery so Gentle': A Fluid Spectrum of Southeast Asian Conditions of Bondage" (pp. 410–428)
18. James F. Brooks, "Conclusions: Intersections: Slaveries, Borderlands, Edges" (429–437)


1.   E.g. the volumes by G. Campbell, S. Miers and J. Miller: Women and Slavery. Volume I (2007) and II (2008), Athens, OH; Children in Slavery through the Ages (2009), Athens, OH.
2.   D. Lewis, Greek Slave Systems in their Eastern Mediterranean Context: c. 800-146 BC, Oxford (2018). Lewis builds on J. Ducat, Les Hilotes, Athens (1990).
3.   E. M. Harris, "Homer, Hesiod, and the 'Origins' of Greek Slavery", Revue des Etudes Anciennes, 144 (2012): 345–366; T. E. Rihll, "The Origin and Establishment of Ancient Greek Slavery", in M. Bush, Serfdom and Slavery: Studies in Legal Bondage, London (1996): 89–111.
4.   E.g. B. Akrigg, and R. Tordoff, (eds.), Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Greek Comic Drama, Cambridge (2013).

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