Friday, June 21, 2019


Susanna A. Throop, The Crusades: An Epitome. Leeds: Kismet Press, 2018. Pp. xv, 196. ISBN 9781912801022. $12.50 (pb).

Reviewed by Brian A. Catlos, University of Colorado Boulder (

Version at BMCR home site

Although the Latin military/political adventure in the Holy Land was brief—with the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem enduring less than a century—the Crusades as a phenomenon were a central event to the history of the Latin West, had fatal consequences for Byzantium, and provoked a reorientation of the Islamic Near East. The Crusades were at once a religious, military, economic, political, mercantile, and colonial enterprise. They began with a call to aid fellow eastern Christians in Anatolia against invading Seljuqs, but they soon became a mission to reclaim Christian control over Jerusalem and the holy sites of scripture. Eventually, they became a "global" struggle waged against any and all non-Catholic princes and peoples as well as against any dissenters within Latin Christendom. For over five centuries it was the thread that ran through European history, and the vector by which Latin Christians and Christianity apprehended and engaged with the outside world while constructing their own cultural and religious sense of self.

The Crusades influenced art, literature, song, and popular culture, and facilitated the acculturation and adaptation of Byzantine and Islamic intellectual, technological, and cultural advances in the West. They channeled the popular messianism of the new millennium, harnessed the new rationalism of the scholastics, and transformed the Church, through the establishment of the Inquisition, the imperial papacy, and the indulgences that eventually contributed to the fracturing of Catholicism in the Protestant Reformation. Long after the ambition of reconquering the Holy Land had been (rather quickly) abandoned, the ideal of Crusade continued to be deployed as a rationalization for Latin expansion. It also provided the conceptual framework for the domination and colonization of the "New Worlds" of the early modern age.

Alternately lauded and decried by historians of the middle ages over the succeeding centuries, the rhetoric of Crusade (and its cousin, jihad) continue to inform political discourse in both the Christian and Islamic world today. For historians, their nature and significance remains a subject of discord and debate. It is therefore clear that students of both the premodern and modern West—not to mention the informed public—must have a grasp of the phenomenon and its impact.

Susanna Throop's brief but lucid, The Crusades. An Epitome, fits that role commendably. At less than two hundred handbook-sized pages, with minimal notes, it provides a comprehensive overview of the crusades as a political, economic, and military phenomenon. The introduction, "What were the Crusades?" begins in the present with modern politicians' and activists' invocations and provides the reader with a primer on key concepts. Chapter one, "Connections and Conflicts in the Eleventh-Century Mediterranean," sets the stage, not in northern Europe, but in the disintegrating caliphal/imperial Mediterranean. Next, "Constructing the First Crusade: Contexts, Events, and Reactions" reviews the genesis and execution of the First Crusade, from Urban II at Clermont to the taking of Jerusalem. Three, "Shifting Ground: Crusading and the Twelfth-Century Mediterranean," focuses on the regional politics of the Holy Land and the eastern Mediterranean through to the fall of Jerusalem and its aftermath. "Allies and Adversaries: Crusading Culture and Intra-Christian Crusades," shifts back to the Latin West, focusing particularly on the relationship between Church and empire, and the deployment of crusade against Cathars and other dissidents. Five, "Changing Circumstances: Crusading in the Thirteenth Century," moves to the peripheries, including Saint Louis' adventures in Egypt and Tunis, the Baltic Crusades, a resurgent Byzantium, and the impact of the Mongols on the Islamic East. The final chapter, "Towards Christian Nationalism: Crusading into the Early Modern Period," looks at the era of post-Black Death transformations, when crusading became at once more deeply entrenched culturally and institutionally, and less relevant politically—an evocative if hollow façade for political expansion across Europe, into Africa and the East, and ultimately, beyond. Wrapping up, her "Conclusion: Have the Crusades Ended?," bring us back up to the present and the long shadow the Crusades have cast on western and Islamic culture and history.

This is not the first short history of the Crusades, but it is one that is truly short and impressively comprehensive, weaving together political, economic, institutional, and religious history in a compact narrative that does not scrimp on complexity in spite of its economy. The prose is clear and accessible to student and lay-reader, making the book an excellent supplementary or introductory text. The reviewer was repeatedly impressed at the amount of detail that was fit so neatly into so few pages. To be sure, it is not exhaustive—there are many aspects of crusade and crusading that are not covered. Crusade historiographical debates are not deeply discussed, nor is popular religion or social history. But The Crusades. An Epitome admirably achieves what it sets out to do. The book is generously illustrated with maps, and each chapter has a short list of recommended reading appended to it, making it a useful, reader-friendly pocket-sized overview of one of the crucial and most-often misunderstood episodes in the history of the West.

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Martin Avenarius, Christian Baldus, Francesca Lamberti, Mario Varvaro (ed.), Gradenwitz, Riccobono und die Entwicklung der Interpolationenkritik: Methodentransfer unter europäischen Juristen im späten 19. Jahrhundert. Ius Romanum, 5. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018. Pp. viii, 331. ISBN 9783161559020. €104,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Jakob Forunat Stagl, Universidad de Chile (

Version at BMCR home site

This collection of essays written in German and Italian deals with interpolations in Roman law. The two main sources of Roman law, the Digest and the Codex, were compiled in the 6th century under Emperor Justinian I from textual materials from roughly the first until the third century that were in some respects out of date at the time of the compilation. To give just one example, the ancient material included mancipatio, an obsolete ritual for the transfer of ownership in land, slaves and cattle. The compilers, therefore, had to bring these texts in line with the law of their own time, a task for which Justinian had given them a clear mandate (Const. Deo autore § 7: Sed et hoc studiosum vobis esse volumus, ut, si quid in veteribus non bene positum libris inveniatis vel aliquod superfluum vel minus perfectum, supervacua longitudine semota et quod imperfectum est repleatis et omne opus moderatum et quam pulcherimum ostendatis). In the Renaissance, scholars of Roman law, especially in France, started to analyse these 'interpolations' with the purpose of recovering the pure 'classical' law. But it needed the rise of classical philology and the dwindling practical importance of Roman law, as well as the discovery of Gaius' Institutiones, a work not touched by the hands of compilers, to reap the fruits of this method. This was accomplished at the end of the 19th century in Germany, especially by Otto Gradenwitz (1860-1935) in his "Interpolationen in den Pandekten" (1887). Salvatore Riccobono (1864-1958), then a promising young scholar from Palermo, came into contact with Gradenwitz in Berlin and helped to spread Interpolationismus, as this new method was called, in Italy.

After great enthusiasm at the beginning, doubts began to rise: 'interpolationism' allowed scholars of Roman law to create in an instant the sources they would like to have by declaring everything that bothered them as interpolated. Interpolationism became a method of producing irrefutable theories, insofar as it did not content itself with interpreting its sources, but rather adapted the sources tailor-made to the theories that had to be proved. Otto Lenel (1849-1935), who had propagated this method at an early stage, came by 1925 to denounce the "hunt for interpolations" (Interpolationenjagd). Since the 1960s, thanks especially to Max Kaser, the tide has definitively turned and most scholars consider the compilers' manipulations less frequent and less intrusive than had been thought before. Many alterations are now ascribed to gradual, almost unconscious alterations before Justinian's compilation (Wieacker's theory of Textstufen). However, the problem continues to be intriguing, not least because a considerable amount of literature on Roman law is contaminated by the interpolationistic method, that is to say by its exaggerations. For example, Fritz Schulz' History of Roman Legal Science) (1946), probably the most important contribution to Roman law after Lenel's Palingenesia Iuris Civilis) (1889) and Das Edictum perpetuum (1883), is heavily indebted to interpolationism.

The book at hand contains contributions by various authors. We will have a look at each of them before turning to the collection as a whole.

The introduction by the editors, Avenarius, Baldus, Lamberti, and Varvaro (pp. 1-6), involuntarily reveals the central flaw of this collection as a book: on p. 2 the authors state that Gradenwitz was one among others, the others being Fridolin Eisele, Alfred Pernice, and last but surely not least, Otto Lenel; at the same time they declare that Gradenwitz "must" be the centre of interest. A real explanation for this choice is never given. And why, instead of analysing the intellectual climate in Germany that led to the development of 'interpolationism', and that in Italy that allowed for its reception, do the editors pick a second centre of their enterprise in the person of Riccobono? If the personal relationship between these two men is that important, the introduction fails to explain it. It almost looks as if the rise and fall of interpolationism was some sort of coterie in the editors' eyes. This could be an explanation for the authors' tendancy to delve into the dust of archives instead of discussing the ideas, ideologies and scientific currents of their chosen period lying in the light of easily accessible publications.

Salvatore Marino and Pierangelo Buongiorno analyse under the somewhat opaque title of "Interzessionen vs. Interpolationen. La „Nostrifizierung" di Otto Gradenwitz tra Heidelberg e Berlino" (pp. 13-54) the difficult process of Otto Gradenwitz' Habilitation at the end of the 19th century, and especially the question of whether his book on interpolations was the cause for his troubles. The—negative—answer to this question could, in our judgement, have been given with less effort. The whole problem is one of Gradenwitz' biography rather than one of 'interpolationism'.

Mario Varvaro deals with Riccobono's stance towards interpolationism ("Circolazione e sviluppo di un modello metodologico. La critica testuale delle fonti giuridiche romane fra Otto Gradenwitz e Salvatore Riccobono", pp. 55-100. Although one of its early propagators in Italy, Riccobono turned away from interpolationism as he became aware that this method would in the event cut Roman law off from the pre-interpolationistic literature. After all, this literature was grounded in another textual basis, namely, the sources of Roman law without the many alterations brought about by this method. This in turn meant that Italy's most glorious contribution to legal science, with the glossa and the mos italicus, was being converted into a historic reminiscence—a result that was incompatible with Italian national pride. Textual conservativism became a function of national politics; method revealed itself as a means to an end, the creation of a continuous Italian legal culture from antiquity through the middle ages to modernity. This image of uninterrupted greatness was, of course, central to fascist propaganda, as every visitor to Rome knows. Varvaro's analysis and the vein in which it is written is masterly by all standards, especially his explanation of methodological choices made with the help of stalwart politics. Yet in politics many things are involved: Pietro de Francisci, a dyed in the wool fascista, who held office as Minister of Justice under Mussolini, was one of the most fervent interpolationists in Italy and of all times. After all, the Middle Ages were undeniably Christian, which fascism avowedly was not. Interpolationism therefore had its charms for fascists, too, since it allowed for a 'cleansing' of the Roman sources from their Christian 'contamination'. The interdependence of political consideration and scholarly methods may work both ways: methodological choices made for scholarly reasons may profit from a political situation, but they may also justify political tendencies which originally had nothing to do with them. These reflections by the reviewer show how inspiring Varvaro's contribution is. It is the book's intellectual centre.

The ensuing essay by Stefano Barbato deals with the problem of interpolations regarding imperial constitutions. It seems not to be based on a clear idea, the title speaking for itself: "Nota minima sulle interpolazioni delle costituzioni imperiali nel pensiero di Gradenwitz" (pp. 101-120). The pertinent literature is partially lacking.

Tomaso Beggio's study on Paul Koschaker is excellent, albeit its title is a bit awkward: "La Interpolationenforschung agli occhi di Paul Koschaker. La critica a Gradenwitz e alla cosiddetta neuhumanistische Richtung e lo sguardo rivolto all'esempio di Salvatore Riccobono" (pp. 121-157). Koschaker was a friend of Riccobono's and his thinking developed quite in the same direction. Having been a nationalist before WW II, he became a 'westerner' (Abendländer) afterwards. The destructive impact of interpolationism had to be overcome in the interest of 'Roman law' as a fundament of 'European' civilisation. All this is very interesting but the conncetion with 'interpolationism' is a bit far-fetched.

Stephan Meder and Christoph-Eric Mecke write on "Otto Gradenwitz' Berliner Familienrechtsvorlesung von 1892. Nach einer Mitschrift von Salvatore Riccobono im Kontext von Spätpandektistik und Familienrechtspolitik am Vorabend des BGB" (pp. 157-214). The article is very well documented and written. It is nevertheless not clear why it is necessary to treat the subject at such breadth. Apart from being the occasion when the two men got to know each other, Gradenwitz' class on family law does not seem to have had any deeper impact on the question of interpolations.

Francesca Lamberti's paper on the historiography of the Roman family stands out because she contributes to the history of ideas and not merely to the uncovering of archival academic trivia ("La storiografia italiana sulla familia tra tardo Ottocento e inizi Novecento. Antropologia, evoluzionismo e primi influssi delle teorie interpolazionistiche", pp. 215-238). 'Interpolationism' had some influence on the Pietro Bonfante's seminal theory on the origins of the family. But the real weight of this new method was only felt in Italy in the wake of Gerhard von Beseler, an adamant hunter of interpolations.

Philipp Lothmar, romanist and creator of labour law as a legal discipline, was one of the early critics of Gradenwitz' method and thereby became a voice crying in the wilderness. Iole Farngoli dedicates to him a study with the title: "Poche ombre sugli entusiasmi coevi. Letture critiche della teoria interpolazionistica di Otto Gradenwitz tra Germania e Italia" (pp. 239- 254).

Spain adopted 'interpolationism' only after the civil war. At the same time, it is one of the countries where this method still thrives, a fact due especially to the very influentual 'school' of Álvaro D'Ors. María Teresa González-Palenzuela Gallego has written an instructive essay on this phenomenon ("Die Rezeption von Gradenwitz' und Riccobonos Interpolationentheorien in der spanischen Romanistik") (pp. 255-266).

Britain stands in splendid isolation. In a tight-knit and profoundly-researched article on pp. 267-302 ("Reazioni all'interpolazionismo tra Cambridge e Oxford nella prima metà del Novecento") Lorena Atzeri shows that interpolationism was not, as the dominant opinion has it, exported to the British Isles thanks to émigré scholars after the 1930s. William Warwick Buckland, above all, had already been under its influence before the Great War, but had soon turned away from it. She also points out that David Daube did not take a clear stand against interpolationism when he came to Cambridge. The chapter on Britain reveals that the true strength of Europe always consisted in this interplay of attraction and rejection, preventing methods and schools from reigning supreme.

The final essay by Avenarius (pp. 303-314), under the title of "Methodenwandel und Wissenschaftstransfer in der Interpolationenforschung. Neue Quellen und wissenschaftsgeschichtliche Forschungsperspektiven", is basically a summary of the whole book.

Taken as a whole, the book has some drawbacks. Some of the essays needed more robust editing, and the German is sometimes weak. The editors reined in neither the baroque and treacherously abstract titles of the contributions, on the one hand, nor the contributors' obsession with details, on the other. Yet these rather technical flaws do not obscure that the initiative behind this book is most welcome. It is impossible to understand modern discussions in the field of Roman law without knowing the quarrels of the past, the most important of which is 'interpolationism'. It is also impossible to fully understand certain discussions without knowing the different 'schools', and their friendships and feuds. The editors and their contributors not only write about these scholarly quarrels of the past; they also perform some sort 're-enactment' of these: Gradenwitz had been a professor in Heidelberg and Riccobono in Palermo, like two of the present editors (Baldus and Varvaro); Fargnoli is in Bern just like her subject Lothmar.

Despite the book's qualities, many important aspects of interpolationism remain unexplored, but several chapters of this volume will be an important starting point for future investigation.

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Margarita Sánchez Romero, Rosa María Cid López (ed.), Motherhood and Infancies in the Mediterranean in Antiquity. Childhood in the Past Monograph Series. Oxford; Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2018. Pp. vii, 286. ISBN 9781789250398. $59.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Christoph Schmidhuber, University of Cambridge (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This edited volume is a forceful demonstration that motherhood and mother-child relationships are relevant to virtually every aspect of society and everyday life. The theme of this volume aims to combine two research avenues that have made strong advances in recent years: gender and childhood. The editors and contributors focus especially on how the biological, reproductive aspect of being a woman relates to women's social identity in different socio-cultural contexts. By moving away from the idea that motherhood is a given that does not need to be studied, the volume opens the field for a rich diversity of studies on the topic.

The book explores how different societies, in specific historical settings, attributed different roles to women, or aimed at forcing women into the narrow framework that male-dominated public discourse left for "mothers". It also investigates the varied nature of mother-child relationships that can be observed in the archaeological and historical record, whether focusing on the mother as instructor or on the mother's (or at least parents') role in mourning. It thus provides plenty of material for investigating different facets of motherhood. As motherhood is relevant to virtually all aspects of ancient society and everyday life, the different case studies will be of interest to scholars focusing on, for example, human-animal relations (López-Bertran), religion and cult (Rueda Galán et al.), slavery (Rubiera Cancelas), charity and social solidarity (Domínguez-Arranz), or self-presentation of royalty (Mirón Pérez).

The volume contains 21 papers that are the written versions of talks given at a two-day seminar in Granada, Spain, in 2016. Each chapter is c. 10-12 pages long and thus offers room for short case studies. These are organised chronologically and cover a number of regions. Geographically and chronologically, the chapters cover Bronze Age Spain (Ch. 2-3), Ancient Mesopotamia (Ch. 4), the Iron Age Mediterranean (Ch. 5-8), Classical Greece (Ch. 9-12), and the Roman Empire (Ch. 13-19), even venturing into modern day Spain, discussing how women are portrayed in the contemporary school curriculum for history (Medina Quintana and Garcia Luque; Chs. 20-21).

Rather than following one coherent argument, the book's chapters deal with different aspects of motherhood or childhood or both. While each case study can be read on its own, several chapters contribute to one or more of the overarching themes of the volume. The editors have already identified, yet not synthetically discussed, some very general themes in the introduction, e.g., mothers as "powerful women", or "care practices". I use this opportunity to give the reader an impression of several contributions within their thematic context, before addressing a key methodological point.

In terms of themes, two aspects especially worth highlighting are the termination of mother-child relationships and the construction of motherhood against other modes of living that are not fit for motherhood. Despite the book's title, several contributions underline that the scope of mother-child relationships could outlive infancy. Two case studies address this topic explicitly: (a) one on the depiction of mother-child relationships in Greek iconography (Reboreda Morillo), and (b) one about a Roman empress' influence on her young emperor son (Conesa Navarro). Furthermore, mother-child relationships also form the interpretive focus of different chapters on mourning.

The analysis of Greek iconography by Reboreda Morillo highlights the importance of the mother's role in girls' socialisation, as well as her presence in a motif depicting wedding preparations. Male offspring, however, rarely appear together with their mothers after early childhood. Nevertheless, the mother is depicted in "farewell to the warrior" scenes, worrying about the precarious future of her son. The other chapter by Conesa Navarro, dealing with Roman historiography, shows how mothers' influence on their sons was regarded by contemporary historians. This is the case for Iulia Mamaea, mother of Alexander Severus. The author questions the power over the young emperor ascribed to Iulia Mamaea by the ancient historiographers Cassius Dio and Herodian. He argues that the historians explained the political strains culminating in Alexander Severus' downfall by emphasizing certain gender roles, where masculinity was associated with moderation, while femininity in the public sphere was associated with manipulation and ill-fate. To strengthen his argument, he compares the presentation of Livia or Agrippina, two earlier empresses, by ancient historiographers. Despite different political conditions in each of the three women's cases, their dynamics with their son are presented in similar ways, namely as a negative influence on the son's decision-making (see Méndez Santiago's chapter for exploration of a non-royal, yet still elite perspective on a similar topic).

Finally, an especially visible context in which we can witness mother-child relationships both archaeologically and textually is the ways in which mothers (or parents) coped with the loss of a child (either through death or abandonment). Chapter 2 (by González Marcén) deals with the abandonment of a burial site kept over generations by a community in Bronze-Age Iberia, which was potentially triggered by the death of one specific sub-adult. As intriguing as this case study is for the importance of children in a community, the role of the mother in this process cannot be established without resorting to cross-cultural parallels. This challenge also applies to other chapters dealing with child burials (Ferrer; López-Bertran; see also further below). With epigraphic data, a mother's relationship to her children is easier to trace, as is highlighted by the often very intimate funerary inscriptions written by mothers about their prematurely deceased children (Cíd López). Conversely, one contribution explores funerary data to understand how maternal death was coped with by the community in the Phoenicio-Punic world (Delgado Hervás and Rivera Hernández).

Children are not necessarily only lost to their mothers through death. In Greek and Roman households, the father could ultimately decide whether a child was accepted into the family or abandoned, although two chapters highlight that there was regional (Pepi, discussing Greece) or diachronic variation (Núñez Paz, discussing the Roman world) to the extent that lawmakers cared for the interests of the mother and child in this decision. Furthermore, slave women could be separated from their offspring at any moment, given the complete authority of their owners. Nevertheless, Chapter 16 (by Rubiera Cancelas) highlights that while the threat of being separated was imminent, there are examples of (now adult) offspring commemorating their slave mothers, hence testifying to a strong emotional bond throughout childhood.

Another theme highlighted is how society decided what kind of female behaviour was fit or unfit for a mother to engage in. This is an important factor to illustrate the role women played in historical contexts beyond reproduction, and to better define the values attached to motherhood. Ultimately, investigating which character traits or types of behaviour were not associated with motherhood can help to understand how society constructed its concept of motherhood. There are three case studies relating to this topic: two focusing on several groups in Athenian and broader Greek society (Molas Font; Pepe), and one on the puella docta in Latin love elegy (Marina Sáez).

In Athens, several groups are known that were seemingly at odds with the Athenian ideal of motherhood, including hetaerae (a type of courtesan), prostitutes, and concubines. Molas Font investigates how these groups were presented in legal oratory, often aiming at denouncing a woman or her offspring. While these speeches present a one-sided view as products of rhetoric, one can nevertheless witness how orators drew a line between an ideal image of motherhood and the women whose status was under scrutiny in these lawsuits. She states that these women for whom marriage and reproduction are not at the centre of their existence, represented a "transgression of the norms of feminine conduct, laid down by the masculine-organised system" (p. 123).

More generally, this is investigated in terms of Pericles' citizenship laws of 451 BC, by which a higher value was attached to motherhood: offspring would only be granted citizen status if both father and mother were proper citizens (Molas Font; Pepe). This narrowed the demands towards mothers' behaviour and status, and especially meant that foreign women, previously preferred as bridal candidates by Athenian male citizenry, were suddenly unsuitable to provide an heir who would become a full citizen.

In Roman literature, the puella docta is reminiscent of the different non-motherhood groups in Athenian society, i.e., a woman who is sometimes juxtaposed with motherhood. The author suggests that there was an ambition among ancient poets to leave the puella docta unchanged, both in terms of her body and her lifestyle, which would be incompatible with the role of a mother. These two studies are especially helpful to think with, when trying to define motherhood, by showing us how ancient societies contrasted certain types of behaviour with that suitable for motherhood.

In contrast, women not allowed to give birth in Ancient Mesopotamia (the religious nadītum-women in 2nd millennium BC Mesopotamia, Garcia-Ventura) could nevertheless become mothers by other means, e.g., through adoption. Here we have women who were forbidden to give birth on the biological level, but who were allowed, or perhaps were even expected, to become "mothers" from a legal point of view.

These different themes, illuminated from the perspective of different cultures and periods, thus underline both similarities and differences, or even oppositions, in the way societies constructed their image(s) of motherhood. In so doing, they draw attention to the varied nature of mother-child relationships across different societies.

Given that the contributions employ archaeological, textual, and iconographic data, some observations can be shared concerning the respective methodologies. The most powerful chapters tend to deal with textual data, and especially specific mothers' biographies. The archaeological evidence occasionally leaves questions unanswered. How can we distinguish the agency of the mother from that of other actors in child burial complexes?

Occasionally, scholars address this question by projecting mothers' roles known from historical societies to prehistoric ones, as in the following example. Alarcón García et al. consider archaeological remains to investigate traces of socialisation in pottery production. Analysing the different stages of pottery production at the Bronze Age site of Penalosa, they argue that the pottery vessels found were "the product of learning processes that took place" in a domestic context (p. 37). Who would have guided the offspring in their explorations of pottery production and use? The authors assume that food-related practices were the role of women (p. 38), and that the material culture investigated was the result of mothers teaching their daughters, thus reproducing the knowledge. Empirical data supports this view, but earlier on, the authors themselves mention an ethnographic example from modern-day Luxor, where both parents are initially involved in teaching their children pottery production.

In her study of child burials in Sicily, M. Ferrer states in a footnote that "[a]lthough we have no archaeological, iconographic or textual information about those members of the household who took care of children in this Sicilian world, it's pretty probable that these practices (…) were carried out by some of the women of the household" (p. 83). That this was "probable" is based solely on parallels from other historical societies.

Contrary to the purpose of this volume, namely identifying social constructions of motherhood, these assumptions project other experiences of motherhood onto ancient societies which have not conveyed to us their attitudes towards motherhood. Arguably, this methodological challenge lies beyond the scope of this volume.

With such a vast geographical and chronological scope of perspectives and scholars coming from different fields, chapters of 10-12 pages length could leave an author struggling between background information, data analysis, and interpretation. It is remarkable that most contributions are accessible even to scholars from outside the field. Occasionally, background knowledge is assumed, e.g., when mentioning the hetaerae (Molas Font), or when referring to a theoretical model whose derivation is unclear (Rueda Galán et al.).

The presentation supports this wider appeal. Archaeological contributions are richly illustrated with figures and photos. Helpful maps are present in all but two chapters dealing with archaeological sites. The appeal to a wider audience is also supported by translations from ancient languages such as Akkadian or Greek. Latin is left untranslated. Each chapter is concluded by a bibliography.

Overall, this volume presents a large number of case studies illuminating aspects of motherhood and mother-child relations in varying historical contexts. The different chapters will be of interest to scholars of childhood, gender, and the social fabric in the ancient world.

Table of Contents

1. Sánchez Romero, M. and R.M. Cid López: Motherhood and infancies: archaeological and historical approaches
2. González Marcén, P.: The child is dead: decision-making and emigration in Bronze Age Iberia
3. Alarcón García, E., J.J. Padilla Fernández, A. García García and L. Arboledas Martínez: Learning to be …: learning and socialisation in ceramic productions during Bronze Age in peninsular southeast Spain
4. Garcia-Ventura, A.: Beyond biology: the constructed nature of motherhood(s) in ancient Near Eastern sources and studies
5. Delgado Hervás, A. and A. Rivera Hernández: Death in birth: pregnancy, maternal death and funerary practices in the Phoenician and Punic world
6. Ferrer, M.: Looking after dead infants: the materialisation of care in Sicilian child burials (10th-7th centuries BC)
7. López-Bertran, M.: Creating beings: relations between children and animals in the Iron Age Western Mediterranean
8. Rueda Galán, C., C. Rísquez Cuenca and A.B. Herránz Sánchez: Maternities in Iberian societies. From day-to-day life to sacredness
9. Molas Font, M.D.: Motherhood, gender and identity in the Athenian polis
10. Reboreda Morillo, S.: Childhood and motherhood in Ancient Greece: an iconographic look
11. Pepe, L.: The (ir)relevance of being a mother. A legal perspective on the relationship between mothers and children in ancient Greece
12. Mirón Pérez, M.D.: The queen and her children: royal motherhood in Hellenistic Greece
13. Cid Lopéz, R.M.: Mors immatura, childhood and maternal-filial relationships in the carmina epigraphica. Case studies from the Iberian Peninsula
14. Domínguez-Arranz, A.: Mater civitatis: forms of patronage, charity and foundations for children
15. Méndez Santiago, B.: Mothers and sons in Plutarch's Roman Parallel Lives. Auctoritas and material influence during the Roman Republic
16. Rubiera Cancelas, C.: Seruae, mothers and the mother-child bond in Roman Italy. The analysis of the epigraphic evidence
17. Marina Sáez, R.M.: On the margins of motherhood: images of the puella docta and the lover-poet in the Latin love elegy
18. Núñez Paz, M.I.: Childhood and maintenance. Legal norms related to education and guardianship of minors, from Antoninus Pius to Justinian
19. Conesa Navarro, P.D.: The relationship of Iulia Mamaea and Alexander Severus, a young imperator. A review through literary sources
20. Medina Quintana, S.: Representations of women, motherhood and childhood in Spanish primary school textbooks
21. Garcia Luque, A.: Women and children omitted in the teaching of history: causes and consequences

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Thursday, June 20, 2019


Gabriel Danzig, David M. Johnson, Donald R. Morrison (ed.), Plato and Xenophon: Comparative Studies. Mnemosyne Supplements 417. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2018. Pp. xvi, 670. ISBN 9789004369016. €154.00.

Reviewed by Vincent Renzi, New York University (

Version at BMCR home site

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

This volume is a landmark of how far the new wave in Socratic studies has traveled. At the same time, it presents an opportunity to assess how much of the remaining so-called Socratic problem resists dissolution. This will be a collection of interest to all scholars working in Socratic studies and a necessary addition to any research library.

The papers collected here originate from a conference at Bar Ilan University in June 2014, and are divided into four groups: Methods, Ethics, From Friendship to Politics, and History. There are also two introductory essays. The first, by conference organizer and co-editor Gabriel Danzig, seeks to give an introduction to the comparative study of Plato and Xenophon. The second, by co-editor David Johnson, includes concise summaries of each of the papers. Also included are an Index of Passages and a General Index. The volume is very well produced; and the publisher's few typographical errors do not obscure the sense of the text.

Space does not permit detailed consideration of each contribution. Suffice it to say that their quality is generally high. All are well informed by relevant scholarship, and there are separate and extensive bibliographies at the conclusion of each. Of rather more value here, I believe, will be to give some overview of several related issues that run through the papers: the origins and current state of scholarship on the "Socratic problem," namely what we can ever know of the historical Socrates; the relation of this problem to developmentalist and ingressive approaches to the works of Plato; the recent renaissance in Xenophon scholarship in the last several decades; and methodological concerns that arise in the comparative approach especially to reading Plato and Xenophon against one another.1

In his "Introduction to the Comparative Study of Plato and Xenophon," Danzig credits the work of Louis-André Dorion as the inspiration for the conference, most immediately the 2000-2001 publication with Michele Bandini of Xenophon's Memorabilia in the Budé series.2 In his introduction to the first of those volumes, Dorion argued at length for the need finally to recognize the "Socratic problem" as a false issue; the need to set it aside in order to rehabilitate the work of Xenophon; and the implications of such a rehabilitation for Socratic studies.3 In the present volume, Dorion rehearses this argument in the first of his two contributions, "Comparative Exegesis and the Socratic Problem," in which he credits the pioneering work of Paul Vander Waerdt in the early 1990's for having moved him to adopt the comparative approach that led him beyond the Memorabilia to a number of important papers collected in 2013 as L'Autre Socrate, études sur les écrites socratiques de Xénophon.4 In the variety and quality of the contributions, the present volume amply demonstrates the value of once again taking Xenophon seriously as a philosophical thinker without need of apology, as well as the merits of a comparative approach to the study of the Socratic literature. Likewise, I believe Dorion has been vindicated in his judgment that the "Socratic problem" is a false one, even while he himself admits (p. 67) that his work has yet to bring "a definitive end to the Socratic problem."

The "Socratic problem" or "Socratic question" begins in the 18th century, with the publication of Historia critica philosophiae (1742-1744) by Jakob Brucker, who raises the issue of which of the major witnesses—Xenophon or Plato —provides the more trustworthy account of Socrates' philosophy, where philosophy is understood to be a body of propositional teachings that are built-up rationally and systematically. Brucker judges Xenophon the more accurate, as he finds Plato's work rather to be a syncretism of Socrates and Pythagorean, Eleatic, and Heraclitean thought.5 Some two decades after Brucker, Jean-Jacques Garnier (1761) dissented from this view because of what he saw as Xenophon's exaggerated apologetic purpose; but the most forceful reversal comes with Friedrich Schleiermacher's 1815 essay "Ueber den Werth des Sokrates als Philosophen."

Xenophon, of course, had enjoyed a great reputation as a writer and philosopher until that time. He is the first of the Socratics to whom Diogenes Laertius turns after the life of Socrates; and Diogenes recounts that he was know as the "Attic Muse" for the sweetness of his diction. As a political theorist, his influence is seen prominently in Machiavelli; and he remains of interest still among the founders of the American republic of the United States, only a generation earlier than Schleiermacher's essay. For his part, Schleiermacher complains that Xenophon cannot be trusted as a witness to the historical Socrates because he was incapable of comprehending Socrates' philosophy, and second because the Socrates depicted by Xenophon would have attracted neither the interest of Plato nor the censure of the Athenians. This dismissal of Xenophon's philosophical acumen continues right up through the work of Gregory Vlastos and Charles Kahn scant decades ago.6

As Dorion notes, the work of Karl Joël (starting with Der echte und der xenophontische Sokrates, in 1895) and Olaf Gigon (Socrates, sein Bild in Dichtung und Geschichte, of 1947) had already provided the basis for dissolving the Socratic problem by recognizing the essentially fictional nature of the "Socratic discourses." In view of this, one may wonder why it is Dorion's arguments have not been entirely persuasive, so that even David Johnson, one of the co-editors of the collection under review, tries to salvage the inquiry into the historical Socrates with his suggestion of an essential harmony among the witnesses in his contribution "Xenophon's Intertextual Socrates."

The resources for understanding the resilience of this issue are partly supplied by two of the contributions, Christopher Moore's "Xenophon on 'Philosophy' and Socrates," and David Thomas's "The Enemies of Hunting in Xenophon's Cynegeticus." Together with these should be included Livio Rossetti's recent chapter "Philosopher Socrates? Philosophy at the Time of Socrates and the Reformed Philosophia of Plato," in the anthology Socrates and the Socratic Dialogue (2018). These authors investigate the vocabulary of philosopher, philosophy, and philosophize in fifth and fourth century Greek, with a view (in Moore) particularly to Xenophon's seemingly derisive use of the terms, and (in Rossetti) to the enormous change in usage following what he terms the "Plato cyclone."7

The problem hides in plain sight in the very title of Schleiermacher's essay: Socrates as philosopher. But what does it mean to call Socrates a philosopher, a term that would not have been applied to him in his lifetime?8 And what would it mean to try to reconstruct Socrates' philosophy? So too, what is meant by Schleiermacher's disparagement of Xenophon as insufficiently capable of philosophizing?

Xenophon and Plato differ in many ways, but one of the most obvious is that in the former Socrates does not advocate for the study of cosmology, ontology, meteorology, or mathematics beyond what is immediately useful for civic life (albeit that we are told he makes this judgment not being unfamiliar with these fields); and Xenophon—across all his works, not just those in which Socrates is featured—is rather more concerned with presenting memorable scenes of moral instruction than with theoretical disquisitions. As a positive program, he tells us Socrates concerned himself with what he calls the human things (ta anthropina).9 While in both authors Socrates appears to avoid the sort of natural history parodied in the Clouds, we might say that in Plato we have a Socrates who additionally has concerns for the non-humanistic sciences at least of ontology and mathematics.

Now it is certainly useful to engage in the rational reconstruction of Xenophon's philosophy in the sense of laying out systematically what seems to be his underlying theories. Norman Sandridge admirably pursues such a study of Xenophon's theory of leadership, for example, in Loving Humanity, Learning, and Being Honored (2012). In the volume under review, Roslyn Weiss is similarly the very model of comparative philosophical study in her paper "Pity or Pardon: Responding to Intentional Wrongdoing in Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle"; so too, Dorion in his second paper in the collection, "Plato and Xenophon on the Different Reasons that Socrates Always Obeys the Law."

The problem comes in the wake of Rossetti's "Platonic cyclone," in which the meaning of the philosophical vocabulary begins to shift decisively toward the expectation of systematic, theoretical concern for the non-humanistic sciences. As late as the Suda, we see Xenophon (s.v.) described as a philosophos Socratikos. What has happened between then and Schleiermacher's essay?

An answer to this comes in appreciating that the Socratic problem is essentially an academic problem. Imagine, for example, that Plato had not retreated to a country estate and formed an intellectual community around him that survived his death. Had he been, as it were, a solitary author, presumably the reception of his works would have looked very much like Xenophon's—perhaps even less, for his concerns can be abstruse and his style somewhat mannered; he does not have command of an appealingly wide array of literary genres; and whether deserved or not, he was an object of derision by comedians and fellow Socratics, and not someone known for his great andragathia.10

Our view of Plato has been shaped by the institutional reception of his works through the Academy and thence into the Lyceum and the schools, and, most decisively beyond them, into the normative strains of Christian thought. In early modern Europe, this reception is reduplicated in the intellectual movement from the Renaissance and the Reformation that leads to Schleiermacher's involvement in the founding of the University of Berlin, and his very Lutheran hermeneutical concerns for Plato's texts. We might expect that the fix-is-in against Xenophon as soon as we remember that Schleiermacher's lecture was at the Royal Academy of Sciences. In short, Schleiermacher looks at Xenophon and sees at best a statesman. He looks at Plato's Socrates and he sees himself, ein Wissenschaftler, blind to the irony that that he is now teaching for a fee, perhaps unconsciously repressing the uncanny resemblance between the Humboldtian research university and the Phrontisterion of Aristophanes.11

It is this Platonizing in the academic profession of philosophy whose traces are still evident here. Even Danzig writes of Xenophon "correcting" Plato, as if what is at stake is some appeal to the "real" Socrates. Dorion, for all his radical desire to rid us of the Socratic problem, still sees the ultimate goal as improving our comparative study of Xenophon's philosophy, in the sense of rational reconstructions of his theoretical commitments. In his contribution "Xenophon's Intertextual Socrates," Johnson fights a rather quixotic (dare we say?) rear-guard action: in place of the unrecoverable philosophy of the historical Socrates, this other Socrates is to be systematically harmonized from the various Socratic reminiscences in order to button-down a stable meaning for the signifier "Socrates."12

As surprisingly retrograde as Johnson's suggestion may appear, it marks, I think, the last step in the final overcoming of the Socratic problem. What Johnson is reacting to is precisely the success of Dorion's campaign to eradicate the problem. Assuming that that project has come to fulfillment, what then is meant by "Socratic studies," and what will its research project be, if it is not grounded somehow in the historical reality of Socrates? Already in 1994, Vander Waerdt had anticipated this question, suggesting as "our chief objective ... the understanding of the Socratic movement in all its diversity."13

Consider an analogous problem, courtesy of the Danish Socrates (as he styled himself), Søren Kierkegaard. In the face of the Schleiermacherian program of higher criticism, Kierkegaard dismisses concern for the problem of knowing the historical Jesus. The whole point of Christian devotion is that it rests on faith. No results of philological criticism can change that. What would it even mean to prove scientifically that Jesus had not existed?14 So, imagine somehow that science could prove that Socrates never existed—an existence already better attested than that of Jesus. Nothing would have changed. We would still be faced with a collection of texts sharing a family resemblance in their concern for a character named Socrates; and this sort of exegetical problem is well known in literary studies.

The enclosure by Plato's metaphysical concerns is evident in the yearning to recover the historical Socrates, apparent—like the return of the repressed—in the way so many of the contributors in the present volume help themselves to the assistance of the pseudo-Platonic epistles, especially the seventh letter, hoping that it will provide what Nietzsche calls "a telephone to the beyond," to allow us to hear the voice of the real Socrates.15 Similarly, despite the many protestation about the impossibility of reliably establishing the chronology of either authors' works, many of the contributors continue to speak of Plato's "early works," hoping still that these either reflect a more authentically "Socratic" stage in his development, or, when this becomes indefensible, imagining that these works are at least less sophisticatedly "Platonic," and are meant as entrées into the oeuvre.16 For this reason, several of the contributors lean heavily on the First Alcibiades. This is not the place to engage in a full discussion of the problems with ascribing this work to Plato. Suffice it here simply to note the conflation of whether the work is a good pedagogical introduction to the corpus (as it was certainly viewed by some in antiquity) with the question of whether it is an authentic work of Plato.

What of the future direction of Socratic studies? These contributions at their best have brought us to face this question anew. The project of rationally reconstructing the theoretical positions of the various Socratics and their comparative study will be of central concern; but at the same time we must recognize that comparative philosophy is only one part of understanding the impact of the Socratic authors.17 Of course we will remain interested to learn new facts about the historical Socrates should they become available; but what must be seen now is that Socrates has and always will be a radically absent and unknown origin of the Socratic movement, and we will have to grapple with the historiographical problem that runs parallel to this radical absence, namely whether Socrates marks a turning point in ancient Greek thought. This was another of the reasons Schleiermacher preferred Plato: He could not imagine that Xenophon's Socrates could have had such an impact. A critical reassessment of this problem has recently begun to be explored by André Laks, in his ,Introduction à la «philosophie présocratique» (2006), and in his new collections with Glenn Most, Early Greek Philosophy and Les débuts de la philosophie (both 2016).18 As we confront the realization that, as Derrida has written, il n'y a pas de hors-texte, we will need a new Socratic grammatology, one which recognizes that for the Socratic authors Socrates was always-already en abyme, and that what is really at issue is how these authors have treated this most dangerous supplement.19 Or, perhaps in a more Lacanian way, to appreciate the true sense of what Dorion has pointed us to: l'Autre Socrate.

Table of Contents

• Acknowledgements
• Abbreviations
• Notes on Contributors
• Introduction to the Comparative Study of Plato and Xenophon, Gabriel Danzig
• Introduction to This Volume, David Johnson

Part 1 Methods
• Comparative Exegesis and the Socratic Problem, Louis-André Dorion
• Xenophon's Intertextual Socrates, David Johnson
• Division and Collection: A New Paradigm for the Relationship between Plato and Xenophon, William H. F. Altman
• Xenophon and the Socratics, James Redfield
• Xenophon on "Philosophy" and Socrates, Christopher Moore
• Xenophon and the Elenchos: A Formal and Comparative Analysis, Genevieve Lachance

Part 2 Ethics
• Laughter in Plato's and Xenophon's Symposia, Katarzyna Jazdzewska
• Socrates' Physiognomy: Plato and Xenophon in Comparison, Alessandro Stavru
• Xenophon's Triad of Socratic Virtues and the Poverty of Socrates, Lowell Edmunds
• Pity or Pardon: Responding to Intentional Wrongdoing in Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle, Roslyn Weiss
• Mechanisms of Pleasure according to Xenophon's Socrates, Olga Chernyakhovskaya
• Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon on the Ends of Virtue, Gabriel Danzig
• Socrates Erotikos: Mutuality, Role Reversal and Erotic Paideia in Xenophon's and Plato's Symposia, Francesca Pentassuglio
• Socratic Economics and the Psychology of Money, T. A. van Berkel

Part 3 From Friendship to Politics
• Xenophon's Conception of Friendship in Memorabilia 2.6 (with Reference to Plato's Lysis), Melina Tamiolaki
• Socrates' Attitude towards Politics in Xenophon and Plato, Fiorenza Bevilacqua
• Plato and Xenophon on the Different Reasons that Socrates Always Obeys the Law, Louis-André Dorion
• Plato's Statesman and Xenophon's Cyrus, Carol Atack

Part 4 History
• Sparta in Xenophon and Plato, Noreen Humble
• Plato, Xenophon and Persia, C. J. Tuplin
• The Enemies of Hunting in Xenophon's Cynegeticus, David Thomas

Index of Passages

General Index


Since 2007, I have several times offered seminars on Xenophon and on Socrates at New York University (both Collegiate seminars and in the Departments of Classics and Comparative Literature); and it is with gratitude that I acknowledge the insights and efforts of the students in those classes.


Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Stephen Herek, director. Interscope Communications. 1989.
Brucker, Jakob. Historia critica philosophiae. 4 [5] volumes (v. 4 published in parts 1 & 2). Leipzig: Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf, 1742-1744.
Cantana, Leo. "The Concept 'System of Philosophy': The Case of Jakob Brucker's Historiography of Philosophy. History and Theory 44, 1 (February, 2005): 72-90.
Companion to Socrates, A. Sara Ahbel-Rappe & Rachana Kamtekar, eds. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006.
Companion to Socrates, The Bloomsbury. John Bussanich & Nicholas D. Smith, eds. London & New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.
Companion to Socrates, The Cambridge. Donald R. Morrison, ed. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
débuts de la philosophie, Les. André Laks & Glenn W. Most, eds. Paris: Fayard, 2016.
Derrida, Jacques. De la grammatologie. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1967.
--------. The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. [1980] Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Does Socrates Have a Method? Gary Alan Scott, ed. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.
Dorion, Louis-André. L'Autre Socrate. Etudes sur les écrites socratiques de Xénophon. Paris: Les Belle Lettres, 2013.
Dupont, Florence. The Invention of Literature: From Greek Intoxication to the Latin Book. [1994] Translated by Janet Lloyd. Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins, 1999.
Early Greek Philosophy. André Laks & Glenn W. Most, eds. 9 volumes. Loeb Classical Library 524-532. Cambridge, MA & London: Harvard University Press, 2016.
Edmunds, Lowell. "What Was Socrates Called?" Classical Quarterly 56.2 (2006): 414-425.
Garnier, Jean-Jacques. "Premier Mémoire sur Platon. Caractere de la Philosophie Socratique." [1761] Mémoires de Literature, tires des Registres de l'Academic royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 57 (1773): 247–296.
Hadot, Pierre. Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Edited with an introduction by Arnold I. Davidson. Translated by Michael Chase. Oxford & Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995.
Kahn, Charles H. Plato and the Socratic Dialogue: The Philosophical Use of a Literary Form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Kierkegaard, Søren [Johannes Climacus]. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs. [1846] Edited and translated by Alastair Hannay. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Kofman, Sarah. Socrates: Fictions of a Philosopher. [1989] Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1998.
Laks, André. Introduction à la «philosophie présocratique.» Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2006.
--------. The Concept of Presocratic Philosophy: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Translated by Glenn W. Most. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.
Montuori, Mario. Socrate. Fisiologia di un mito. Florence: Sansoni, 1974. English translation by J. M. P. & M. Langdale (less full notes) as Socrates: Physiology of a Myth. London Studies in Classical Philology 6. Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1981.
--------. De Socrates iuste damnato: The Rise of the Socratic Problem in the Eighteenth Century. London Studies in Classical Philology 7. Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1981.
Nails, Debra. Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy. Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995.
Rosenmeyer, Patricia A. Ancient Epistolary Fictions: The Letter in Greek Literature. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Sandridge, Norman B. Loving Humanity, Learning, and Being Honored: The Foundations of Leadership in Xenophon's Education of Cyrus. Hellenic Studies 55. Washington, D.C.: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2012.
Schleiermacher, Friedrich. „Ueber den Werth des Sokrates als Philosophen." [1815] Abhandlungen der philosophischen Klasse der Königlich-Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften aus den Jahren 1814-1815. (1818): 50-68.
Socrates and the Socratic Dialogue. Alessandro Stavru & Christopher Moore, eds. Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2018.
Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. Michael Trapp, ed. Centre for Hellenic Studies Publications 9. London: Ashgate, 2007.
Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Michael Trapp, ed. Centre for Hellenic Studies Publications 10. London: Ashgate, 2007.
Socrates 2400 Years since His Death (399 B.C.-2001 A.D.). Vassilis Karasmanis, ed. Athens: European Cultural Center of Delphi, 2004.
Socratic Movement, The. Paul Vander Waerdt, ed. Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1994.
Thesleff, Holger. Studies in Platonic Chronology. Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 70. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1982. Reprinted in Platonic Patterns: A Collection of Studies by Holger Thesleff. Las Vegas, Zurich, Athens: Parmenides Publishing, 2009.
Vander Waerdt, Paul A. "Socratic Justice and Self-sufficiency: The Story of the Delphic Oracle in Xenophon's Apology of Socrates." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 11 (1993): 1-48.
Vlastos, Gregory. Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher. Ithaca & New York: Cornell University Press, 1991.
Wohl, Victoria. "Plato Avant la Lettre: Authenticity in Plato's Epistles." Ramus 27.1 (1998): 60-93.
Xénophon. Mémorables. Texte établi par Michele Bandini, traduit par Louis-André Dorion. 3 tomes. Collection Budé. Paris: Les Belle Lettres, 2000-2001.
--------. Memorabili, a cura di Fiorenza Bevilacqua. Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 2010.


1.   By "ingressive" I mean any attempt to establish an intended order for reading the works of Plato, i.e., their imagined curricular or pedagogical arrangement, as distinct from the question of their dates of composition. The term is borrowed from Charles Kahn's Plato and the Socratic Dialogue (1996).
2.   Reviewed by Danzig at BMCR 2005.05.30.
3.   For a version of this argument in English, see Dorion's chapter "The Rise and Fall of the Socratic Problem," in the Cambridge Companion to Socrates. (Reviewed at BMCR 2011.07.13.)
4.   See Vander Waerdt 1993, and also the collection The Socratic Movement.
5.   See, e.g., Brucker's chapter de schola socratica, vol. 1, pp. 522-523, p. 556. In his Budé introduction, Dorion recounts this history in some detail. For more complete accounts, see the section "La recezione dei Memorabili e la questione socratica," pp. 63-92, in Bevilacqua's introduction to her Memorabilia text and translation. For a study of Brucker's anachronistic concern of systematicity, see Cantana, "The Concept 'System of Philosophy': The Case of Jacob Brucker's Historiography of Philosophy." Montuori 1974 sketches the reception of Socrates from antiquity through the Renaissance and Enlightenment. For a bibliography of 18th century writings on Socrates, see Montuori 1981.
6.   Some typical examples: Vlastos 1991, p. 99: "[Plato and other Socratics] were philosophers with aggressively original doctrines of their own, one of them a very great philosopher, while Xenophon, versatile and innovative litterateur, creator of whole new literary genres, does not seem versed nearly as well as they in philosophy or as talented in this area." Kahn 1996, p.76: "[Xenophon] apparently makes use of material from Plato in order to add philosophic spice to his otherwise bland accounts of Socrates' moral teaching."
7.   These authors' careful concern for philological investigation of the question of what it would mean to call Socrates a philosopher, is similar to the earlier studies of James Lesher and Harrold Tarrant on the question of whether Socrates has a "method" and whether that method is "elenchos." For these studies—which, unfortunately, are not reflected in the present volume's discussions on this topic—see the anthology Does Socrates Have a Method? This concern to distinguish Plato's Socrates by his scientific method derives ultimately from Scheielermacher.
8.   See Lowell Edmunds, "What Was Socrates Called?"
9.   Memorabilia I.1.11-16, IV.7. Cf. Symposium 8.4, where Socrates recognizes the sense of wonder that engenders natural history, but dismisses it as no more suitable to polite company than the Syracusan's entertainments. Better might be to adopt distinction emphasized by Hadot between philosophy as a way of life and philosophical discourses. (See, e.g., "Philosophy as a Way of Life," in the collection also by that title, pp. 266 ff.)
10.   See Diogenes Laertius' life of Plato at III.35 for Antisthenes' disparagement, at III.26-28 for his treatment in comedy. See also Thomas's contribution to the present volume, "The Enemies of Hunting in Xenophon's Cynegeticus."
11.   Cf. Hadot, "Philosophy as a Way of Life," p. 271: "[M]odern philosophy is first and foremost a discourse developed in the classroom, and then consigned to books. It is a text that requires exegesis."
12.   This approach is anticipated by Livio Rossetti, "The Sokratikoi Logoi as a literary barrier. Toward the identification of a Standard Socrates through them." Socrates 2400 Years since His Death (2004): 81-93.
13.   Vander Waerdt, The Socratic Movement: 3.
14.   See, e.g., Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Book I, Chapter 1, §1 The Holy Scriptures.
15.   I believe the authenticity of the epistles can no longer be maintained after the work of Wohl and Rosenmeyer. Rosenmeyer has clearly situated them as a part of a wider literary phenomenon. Of particular relevance, as Wohl very ably discusses, is the way in which the seventh letter's overly Hellenistic concern for writing traces a Platonic metaphysics of presence. This same problem is evident in Johnson's repetition of the anxiety over "[Socrates'] refusal to write anything himself." (p. 75, emphasis added) Socrates did not write because—why should he?...In any case, it was not because he had read Plato's Phaedrus. Behind this anxiety is a kind of Freudian longing for the parential figure by which one imagines that Socrates should have been concerned to write in order to make himself present for us. Cf. Dupont (1994), who, while not au courant with more recent Socratic studies (e.g., her conflation of Plato and Socrates), nevertheless provides the means for understanding why Socrates did not write (apart, perhaps, from his prison writings). Relevant here also is Derrida 1980.
16.   In Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy (1995), Debra Nails nicely discusses the relation between what she terms the "analytic deveolpmentalist" approach to Plato and the approach taken to the Socratic problem in Anglo-American scholarship, particularly as typified by Vlastos. Overall in the present volume, there is no real critical concern for how the dissolution of the Socratic problem impacts developmentalist or ingressive reading strategies for the works of Plato, of the sort Nails has pioneered. If nothing else, the recognition of Plato as simply one among other writers of Socratic discourses—albeit one whose cyclonic force has been magnified by his institutional reception— ought to renew interest in interpretative projects such as that of Thesleff, who focuses on how literary features of Plato's works may reflect differences in audience and institutional contexts of reception (inside and outside the Academy) rather than speculations about philosophical development. At the same time, this will have implications for our ability to appreciate the literary aspects of these writers' work. In this vein, students in my Socrates seminar have suggested that the literary rivalry between Plato and Xenophon can be compared to a rap battle, in which Plato is Kanye, and Xenophon is Drake—which I find a refreshingly unphilosophical suggestion.
17.   Of the three recent "companions" to Socrates—Blackwell 2006, Cambridge 2011, Bloombury 2013—only the first includes sustained engagement with the reception-tradition. Sarah Kofman (1989) had already moved further in seeing Socratic studies as essentially the study of fictions; but I have yet to see anything in the scholarship to equal the unpublished work of a student in one of my seminars on the figure of Socrates in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. For a call to understand Socratic studies as more than comparative philosophy, see Michael Trapp's introduction to Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. (Also of interest is its companion volume, Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.)
18.   Reviewed at BMCR 2007.06.42; also now in an English version, reviewed at BMCR 2018.11.39. Early Greek Philosophy reviewed at BMCR 2018.03.15, and BMCR 2018.03.16.
19.   Cf. Wohl, "Plato Avant la Lettre," p. 82.

(read complete article)


Harold Tarrant, Danielle A. Layne, Dirk Baltzly, François Renaud (ed.), Brill's Companion to the Reception of Plato in Antiquity. Brill's companions to classical reception, 13. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2018. Pp. xxi, 657. ISBN 9789004270695. €187,00.

Reviewed by Adrian Pirtea, Freie Universität Berlin; Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (

Version at BMCR home site

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

Although the reception of Plato's philosophy is discussed to various degrees in the standard handbooks and companions to Plato published in the last two decades,1 Brill's Companion to the Reception of Plato in Antiquity is the first English-language publication to do so in a truly comprehensive and systematic manner. Excluding the treatment of Plato himself and only briefly mentioning Aristotle, the Companion focuses on how Plato's dialogues and letters were read, interpreted and adapted by admirers of Plato's thought, from the philosopher's death in 347 BCE until the late 6th century CE. In doing so, the book nicely illustrates the academic scope and relevance of the new series "Brill's Companions to Classical Reception" edited by Kyriakos Demetriou. This series was inaugurated in 2014 and has so far offered, among others, an equally comprehensive volume on the ancient reception of Aristotle.2

After the pioneering studies on the history of interpreting Plato by the likes of František Novotn‎‎ý‎‎‎‎‎‎ (1881-1964), Eugène N. Tigerstedt (1907-1979), or Endre von Ivánka (1902-1974), whose early achievements are sadly almost forgotten today, few attempts have been made to offer overarching narratives of the reception history of Plato's philosophy (in antiquity and beyond). Obviously, the sheer number of specialized monographs, articles, editions and conference proceedings that appeared in the last fifty-or-so years on the subject of Platonism(s) have made it virtually impossible for a single person to provide a complete and coherent history of Platonism (or even of ancient Platonism). Relying on the collaborative effort of no less than thirty scholars, the Companion sets out with a more pragmatic goal: it aims to provide some guidelines for readers interested in, but potentially overwhelmed by the complexities and pitfalls of studying the Platonic tradition of Antiquity. The four editors, who are all leading experts on various aspects of ancient Platonism, deliberately avoided the adoption of a specific methodological approach or "school" and offered a clear and balanced picture of ancient readings of Plato in all their (sometimes conflicting) variety.

The Companion is divided chronologically into three parts and 31 chapters, which usually center on individual Platonist philosophers, beginning with Plato's immediate successors Speusippus and Xenocrates and ending with the celebrated exponents of the Neoplatonic schools of Athens and Alexandria (Proclus, Simplicius, etc.). The three parts cover (1) the Old Academy to Cicero, (2) the Early Imperial/Middle Platonic reception (1st cent. BCE - 2nd century CE), and (3) Late Antiquity. Some chapters provide broader overviews, such as Ryan Fowler's survey of Plato's reception in the Second Sophistic (pp. 223-49) or Crystal Addey's chapter "Plato's Female Readers" (pp. 411-32). The latter contribution is particularly important, since it covers the long and hitherto neglected history of female Platonists, from Plato's direct disciples Lastheneia of Mantinea and Axiothea of Phlius (4th century BCE) to Hypatia of Alexandria (d. 415 CE) and the accomplished theurgist Asclepigeneia, the daughter of Plutarch of Athens (5th/early 6th century CE). One very useful and new feature of the volume, absent e.g. in the Companion to the Reception of Aristotle, is the addition of separate, more detailed introductions for each of the three parts. Aside from giving a general overview over the periods under discussion, the role of these introductions is to address those topics and authors which, for various reasons, could not be alotted separate chapters in the book. Thus, the introduction to Part One (pp. 10-27) contains a section on the Peripatetic engagement with the cosmology of the Timaeus. The controversial issue of Plato's "unwritten doctrines", famously advocated by the Tübingen school, as well as the question of the exact doctrinal relationship between Plato and his "greatest pupil" Aristotle (p. 14) are also mentioned, albeit only briefly.

Part One (pp. 29-99) itself contains four chapters dealing with Speusippus and Xenocrates (Horky), the Stoics (Alesse), the New Academy (Snyder), and Cicero himself (Renaud). A particularly welcome contribution in this section is Francesca Alesse's study on the influence of Platonism on Stoicism. Alesse rightly begins by stating that any inquiry into the Stoic reception of Plato has to take into account (a) the basic incompatibility of the Platonic and the Stoic worldviews (e.g. Stoic materialism) and (b) the Stoic enduring interest in the historical figure of Socrates, who was perceived as an ideal model for ethics and morals. The issue of incompatibility comes to light in Alesse's discussion of the Stoic interpretation of the Timaeus, which involved the conflation of the Demiurge and the World Soul, and the transformation of Plato's intelligible forms into the Stoic "seminal reasons" (pp. 49-50). Alesse also gives a good overview (pp. 48-9) of other key Platonic dialogues that became relevant for the Stoics, such as Protagoras, Laches, Euthydemus, Meno, Gorgias, Theaetetus (for Stoic epistemology and the concept of φαντασία καταληπτική) and the Republic (in her discussion of Panaetius, pp. 51-3). What is missing from Alesse's list is the Cratylus, whose influence on Stoic philosophy of language has been highlighted recently.3 Alesse then focuses on a few fundamental ideas in Stoic ethics which also have their antecedents in Plato's dialogues. More specifically, the Chrysippean doctrine of the interconnectedness of all virtues (ἀντακολουθία) is convincingly shown by Alesse to be a response to Protagoras' views expressed in Protagoras 329c-332a. Unfortunately, what Alesse does not address in any detail is the reception into Stoicism of Platonic tripartite psychology by the Platonizing Stoic Posidonius.

Part Two (Chapters 5-13, pp. 92-249) focus on the "Early Imperial reception of Plato", i.e. the period between Cicero and the end of the 2nd century CE. This period includes chapters on the Middle Platonists Plutarch (Bonazzi), Alcinous (O'Brien), Theon of Smyrna (Petrucci), Numenius (Athanassiadi), but also contains excellent discussions of Apuleius (Roskam), Philo of Alexandria (Yli-Karjanmaa) and Galen (Rocca). Harold Tarrant's account of how Plato's dialogues became part of the philosophic "core curriculum" (pp. 101-14) is extremely useful to understand the wider context of early imperial Platonism. In this section I would highlight Mauro Bonazzi's comparative study of Plutarch and the Anonymous Commentary on the Theatetus and their understanding of Academic skepticism within the Platonic tradition. While, in the eyes of many, the skeptic Academy was an embarassment or even a betrayal of Plato, Bonazzi argues that both Plutarch and the anonymous commentator (most likely a contemporary of Plutarch) regarded Academic skepticism as a legitimate reaction to Stoic and Epicurean empiricism. Taking a Platonic stance, the skeptics layed bare the philosophical inconsistency of the empiricist/materialist stance and thus safeguarded Plato's metaphysical dualism, which for Plutarch (and the entire later tradition) became the fundamental tenet of Plato's philosophy (pp. 135-38).

Part Three, by far the largest section (Chapters 14-31, pp. 252-579) deals with the large diversity of Platonic interpretations in Late Antiquity (ca. 3rd-6th centuries). Most of these chapters focus on the Greek ("pagan") Neoplatonism and consider all the representative figures of this tradition, from major authors like Plotinus (Gerson), Porphyry (Chase), Iamblichus (Finamore), Proclus (Opsomer), Damascius (Ahbel-Rappe), to lesser known authors, such as Amelius and Theodore of Asine (Baltzly), Syrianus (Klitenic Wear), Hermeias (Tarrant/Baltzly), and Olympiodorus (Griffin). Two highly relevant contributions discuss the anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides (Clark) and the anonymous Prolegomena to Plato (Layne).

Rather dissapointingly, only two chapters really address the early Christian reception of Plato: a clear exposition of Augustine's knowledge of Plato (van Riel, pp. 448-69), and a cursory survey by Ilaria Ramelli, which hastily covers the Christian Platonism of Clement, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa and Evagrius Ponticus. While Ramelli's contribution is often insightful (e.g. her suggestion that Evagrius' spiritual teacher was Gregory of Nyssa, not Gregory of Nazianzus), she devotes perhaps too large a part of her chapter to reiterate earlier arguments for the identification of Origen the Neoplatonist and Origen the Christian (pp. 279-84).

One very commendable feature of this third part is the inclusion of often ignored or marginalized traditions of Late Antique Platonism, which are shown to fully belong, even if in unexpected ways, to the broader Platonic tradition. Turner's in-depth study of the reception of Plato in the Sethian treatises from Nag Hammadi (Zostrianos, Allogenes, Three Steles of Seth) is a case in point (pp. 292-315). Likewise, Julian the Apostate's admiration for Plato's dialogues (O'Meara, pp. 400-41), or the Platonic-Pythagorean number symbolism in Theodore of Asine (pp. 394-8) are extensively discussed, probably for the first time together in a handbook on ancient Platonism. However, given this increased awareness of the more mystical and religious aspects of Platonism, one does wonder if the pervasive role of theurgy and the Chaldean Oracles, although repeatedly mentioned in some chapters, would not have deserved a fuller treatment.

In terms of how the volume is organized, the editors opted for the most practical solution, i.e. a strict chronology and a focus on individual authors. Still, one could have envisaged an alternative, perhaps more appealing structure, based on the Platonic dialogues themselves. It is for instance quite difficult to appreciate the tremendous influence of the Timaeus, the Republic, or Parmenides from the scattered references in the various sections of the book. Separate chapters on the reception of these (and other) key dialogues – and indeed, on the Platonic dialogue as a literary form itself – would certainly have proven helpful.

There is otherwise very little criticism that can be adduced against the individual chapters, which are all high quality contributions by leading experts in their respective fields. In a few cases some recent publications have not been taken into account. For example, Marie-Luise Lakmann's new comprehensive prosopography, which gathers all the known sources on the several dozen lesser known Platonists of Antiquity,4 apparently passed unnoticed. Similarly, the seminal studies on Hierocles of Alexandria by Ilsetraut Hadot, Theo Kobusch and others, were not taken as an incentive to include a chapter on this rather neglected figure of 5th century Neoplatonism.

Equally puzzling is the absence of a chapter on Synesius of Cyrene, who is only fleetingly mentioned by Addey and O'Meara. Finally, it would have been worthwhile to include a discussion of the "negative" reception and criticism of Plato in the writings of the early Christian heresiographers like (pseudo-)Hippolytus, who considers Plato to be the source of all heresies, or Tertullian, who harshly criticizes Plato's psychology and epistemology. Regardless of these minor omissions, the Companion is a truly impressive and much needed scholarly achievement, written with clarity and edited with great care. The volume will certainly set a new standard for research on the reception of Plato in Antiquity, but it will hopefully also encourage scholars specializing on Plato to reconsider Plato's thought in light of later Platonism. If anything, the incredible variety of ancient interpretations, reactions and responses to Plato's dialogues discussed in the book should make the historicity and partiality of today's interpretations painfully evident. Thus, any scholarly attempt to get as close as possible to Plato's own thought can only profit from engaging with and drawing from the deep well of the Platonic tradition.

Authors and Contributions

Speusippus and Xenocrates on the Pursuit and Ends of Philosophy, Phillip Sidney Horky
The Influence of the Platonic Dialogues on Stoic Ethics from Zeno to Panaetius of Rhodes, Francesca Alesse
Plato and the Freedom of the New Academy, Charles E. Snyder
Return to Plato and Transition to Middle Platonism in Cicero, François Renaud
From Fringe Reading to Core Curriculum: Commentary, Introduction, and Doctrinal Summary, Harold Tarrant
Philo of Alexandria, Sami Yli-Karjanmaa
Plutarch of Chaeronea and the Anonymous Commentator on the Theaetetus, Mauro Bonazzi
Theon of Smyrna: Re-thinking Platonic Mathematics in Middle Platonism, Federico M. Petrucci
Cupid's Swan from the Academy (De Plat. 1.1, 183): Apuleius' Reception of Plato, Geert Roskam
Alcinous' Reception of Plato, Carl S. O'Brien
Numenius: Portrait of a Platonicus, Polymnia Athanassiadi
Galen and Middle Platonism: The Case of the Demiurge, Julius Rocca
Variations of Receptions of Plato during the Second Sophistic, Ryan C. Fowler
Origen to Evagrius, Ilaria Ramelli
Sethian Gnostic Appropriations of Plato, John D. Turner
Plotinus and Platonism, Lloyd P. Gerson
Porphyry, Michael Chase
The Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides, Dennis Clark
Iamblichus, the Commentary Tradition, and the Soul, John Finamore
Amelius and Theodore of Asine, Dirk Baltzly
Plato's Political Dialogues in the Writings of Julian the Emperor, Dominic J. O'Meara
Plato's Women Readers, Crystal Addey
Calcidius, Christina Hoenig
Augustine's Plato, Gerd Van Riel
Orthodoxy and Allegory: Syrianus' Metaphysical Hermeneutics, Sarah Klitenic Wear
Hermias: On Plato's Phaedrus, Harold Tarrant and Dirk Baltzly
Proclus and the Authority of Plato, Jan Opsomer
Damascius the Platonic Successor: Socratic Activity and Philosophy in the 6th Century CE, Sarah Ahbel-Rappe
The Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy, Danielle A. Layne
Olympiodorus of Alexandria, Michael Griffin
Simplicius of Cilicia: Plato's Last Interpreter, Gary Gabor


1.   See e.g. Charles Brittain in Gail Fine (ed.). 2008. The Oxford Handbook of Plato. Oxford University Press, pp. 526-52; "Part VI The Platonic Legacy" in Hugh Benson (ed.). 2006. A Companion to Plato. Malden; Oxford;Victoria: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 403-451; "Teil VII Wichtige Stationen der Wirkungsgeschichte", in Christoph Horn, Jörn Müller and Joachim Söder (eds). 2008. Platon-Handbuch. Leben – Werk – Wirkung. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, pp. 387-433.
2.   Andrea Falcon (ed.). 2016. Brill's Companion to the Reception of Aristotle in Antiquity. Leiden: Brill.
3.   See Francesco Ademollo. The Platonic Origins of Stoic Theology. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 42 (2012), pp. 217-43.
4.   Marie-Luise Lakmann. 2017. Platonici minores. Leiden: Brill.

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John Kevin Newman, Catullus as Love Poet. Studia Classica et Mediaevalia, 21. Nordhausen: Verlag Traugott Bautz, 2018. Pp. 50. ISBN 9783959483582. €20,00.

Reviewed by Wilfried H. Lingenberg, Universität des Saarlandes (

Version at BMCR home site

The slim volume consists of short sections varying in length between several lines and just under three pages, dealing with general aspects of the subject — e.g., "Love then and now", "First persons", "Catullus and the Carnival", "The hendecasyllable not neutral", "Martial's Catullus" (pp. 9–30) — and then with single poems or groups of poems (31–47). There is a two-page index of names and subjects at the end. The result does not really read like a finished book but rather like a set of concise notes, parallels, and questions, to be turned into a book maybe some other time. Consequently, its value lies not so much in the development of general ideas; what we get is sometimes assertoric (and not always convincing), sometimes too close to the obvious, and many a paragraph ends in a question instead of a conclusion. There are, however, a substantial number of worthwhile observations in detail. A few examples will suffice.

Taking "love poetry" as defined by its theme, not as establishing a genre, makes it surprisingly easy to draw connecting lines across what would conventionally be seen as borders of genre (16ff). One such connection would be with comedy (19–21).

Catullus' altering the venue of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis from the traditional Pelion to Pharsalia (Catull. 64.37) is indeed curious and might be easier to explain if the line was written after 48 BC, "when Pharsalia became generally known" (17). Catullus would then have lived at least some six years longer than he is usually granted (17, 35–36; at both places the battle of Pharsalus is erroneously dated to 49 BC).

On a closer look, the choice of the pseudonym Lesbia, presumably for the noble Clodia Metelli, is somewhat odd. It is not in line with the naming conventions of other Roman love poets and would be more appropriate for slaves or even prostitutes (there is an obstetrix of that very name in Terence's Andria). Newman wants us to be cautious with the idea that Lesbia, and even more so generic terms like puella, necessarily refer to one specific person only (27–29).

In short: There is no fundamentally new theory on offer here, but Catullan scholars will want to scan the volume for overlooked parallels and lines of thought hitherto neglected.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Shane Butler, Sarah Nooter (ed.), Sound and the Ancient Senses. The senses in antiquity. London; New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. x, 290. ISBN 9781138481664. $32.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Kim Haines-Eitzen, Cornell University (

Version at BMCR home site

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

The sixth and final volume in The Senses in Antiquity series, this book is organized in three sections: ancient soundscapes; theories of sound; and philology and sound. The editors begin by introducing the spectrum of the lexicon of ancient sound from the pleasurable to the cacophonous. With just one exception, the essays in the volume are literary, philosophical, and/or philological in their approach.

The first section seeks to amplify ancient soundscapes in a variety of contexts. Timothy Power's essay on the sounds of religion considers literary comments about the sounds of festivals and processions; his detailed analysis of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo and sounds associated with Poseidon allows him to posit the "rattle of driverless chariots" as a "signature soundmark" of Poseidon's grove at Onchestus (p. 22). D'Angour treats ancient Greek music—rhythm, melody, voice and instrument—noting especially the effect of music on ancient listeners. Valerie Hope plumbs mostly Latin sources to recover the sounds of Roman mourning rituals—sounds such as silence, speech, lament, groaning, shouting, and music—arguing that "Roman mourning was noisy" (p. 74). The one exception to the literary focus of the volume appears in this section: the essay by Erika Holter, Susanne Muth, and Sebastian Schwesinger emerges from their interdisciplinary collaborative project, "Analog Storage Media – Auralizations of Archaeological Spaces." Their case study is the Digital Forum Romanum, which uses 3D modelling of the Roman Forum to recover the "auditory experience of participants in public assemblies in the Forum in the Late Republican period" (p. 47). Accompanying the detailed discussion of their acoustic reconstruction is a sample auralization of a selection of Cicero's third oration against Catiline, read in Latin as "heard from the perspective of an audience member standing in the Comitium at a distance of 20 m" (p. 53, n. 29). It is available for download through Routledge's website for the book; I highly recommend that readers take the time to listen to this evocative recording.

The next four essays are organized around the topic of ancient theories of sound. In this section, Stephen Kidd considers whether Aristotle conceived of sound apart from its experience, arguing in the end that "Sound, as Aristotle defines it, includes the act of hearing as an irreducible component" (p. 90). Andrew Barker treats Greek acoustic theories, including simple sounds and complex sounds. In an intriguing essay about the role of sound in ancient Greek healing practices, Colin Webster examines "the acoustic signatures of ancient therapies" (p. 109), finding that "all ancient healing groups subjected sick people to specific sonic regimens" (p. 129). Pamela Zinn investigates the relationship between sonus and vox in Lucretius, for whom, she argues, "sound is the perception arising from the process of hearing" (p. 149).

The third and longest section of the volume—on philology and sound—includes six essays. Joshua Katz explores the relationship between "gods and vowels"; he ranges widely through Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Sanskrit to attend to "the literal sound structure of the divine universe" (p. 153). Silvia Montiglio treats the interpretations of the Homeric Sirens in Apollonius of Rhodes and Jean Dorat, noting how ancient readers wrestled with the tension "between the beauty of sound and profundity of meaning" (p. 179). Sean Gurd's insightful essay finds "auditory philology" by entwining the experimental composer Alvin Lucier's 1960 I Am Sitting in a Room with Sappho's poetry; the essay here is in part derived from his book Dissonance: Auditory Aesthetics in Ancient Greek (New York: Fordham University Press, 2016). Sarah Nooter studies compellingly "the emanation of sounds from the ancient Greek stage," especially "those that came from the actors and chorus, most often when language broke down into nonsense" (p. 198), in the plays of Aristophanes, Sophocles, and Aeschylus; she aims to recover "the elements of the sonic experience of being in an ancient audience" (p. 211). Pauline LeVen "considers the sounds of language as experience and in experience" (p. 212) by focusing on three literary episodes of listening taken from Plato, Longus, and Ovid. The final chapter for this section and the volume, is the essay by Shane Butler, who offers a rich and dynamic reading of especially sonorous passages from Vergil's Aeneid and who invites us "to read as Vergil did: not just soundly, but resoundingly" (p. 255).

The volume will be important to scholars and students of the ancient senses, especially those that have been following this series and those with special interests in the acoustical past. Although one might wish for more attention to the material and archaeological evidence for ancient soundscapes, the cumulative effect of the volume is quite dazzling as it amplifies the sonorous registers of our textual remains and recovers the acoustical residues of ancient experiences of sound.

Authors and Titles

Introduction: Sounding Hearing, Shane Butler and Sarah Nooter
1. The Sound of the Sacred, Timothy Power
2. Hearing Ancient Sounds through Modern Ears, Armand D'Angour
3. Sounding Out Public Space in Late Republican Rome, Erika Holter, Susanne Muth, and Sebastian Schwesinger
4. Vocal Expression in Roman Mourning, Valerie Hope
5. Sound: An Aristotelian Perspective, Stephen Kidd
6. Greek Acoustic Theory: Simple and Complex Sounds, Andrew Barker
7. The Soundscape of Ancient Greek Healing, Colin Webster
8. Lucretius on Sound, Pamela Zinn
9. Gods and Vowels, Joshua T. Katz
10. The Song of the Sirens between Sound and Sense, Silvia Montiglio
11. Auditory Philology, Sean Gurd
12. Sounds of the Stage, Sarah Nooter
13. The Erogenous Ear, Pauline Leven
14. Principles of Sound Reading, Shane Butler
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Andrej Petrovic, Ivana Petrovic, Edmund Thomas (ed.), The Materiality of Text: Placement, Perception, and Presence of Inscribed Texts in Classical Antiquity. Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy 11. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2018. Pp. xviii, 416. ISBN 9789004375505. €118,00.

Reviewed by Hanna Golab, University of Miami (

Version at BMCR home site

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

The Materiality of Text is a collection of essays exploring an important new angle that can be productively applied to ancient inscribed objects. As emphasized by several contributors, most academic interaction with epigraphic sources still takes place via disembodied text on paper or in digital editions, often without photographs. This does not come close to the manner in which those texts were originally meant to be experienced. Hence, this generously illustrated book is a welcome publication that should reinvigorate the way in which we read and conceptualize epigraphic texts.

The book is divided into two major parts, "Concepts" and "Contexts", although the disparity in their length should be noted — the former is comprised of two chapters only, the latter of twelve. The second section is divided further into "Epigraphic Spaces", "Literary Spaces", and "Architectural Spaces", with the last being the most substantial in length. Otherwise, balanced attention is given to the subject's other aspects: prose texts and verse inscriptions, Greek and Roman texts, and the longue durée from the Archaic to Late Antique period all receive equal treatment. The volume opens with Andrej Petrovic's introduction, which gives us a strong sense of the theory that guided the editors in their work. The methodological ruminations are brought together from across the humanities, not just Classics. Cultural practices and events such as Soviet censorship of those who were deemed counter-revolutionary, and a 1985 exhibition "Les Immatériaux" at the Centre Pompidou blend effortlessly with philosophical approaches to (im)materiality as represented by Aristotle, Cicero, Heidegger, and Hegel, among others. This broad perspective is reflected in the selection of essays that discuss not only the material presence of the text, but also its absence (Mylonopoulos on the Greek reluctance to inscribe altars and architraves in the Archaic and Classical periods) and transience (Opdenhoff on dipinti in Pompeii).

The chapters are in a constant dialogue with one another, addressing similar themes from different angles, which makes the volume a coherent whole. For example, P. J. Rhodes' "Erasures in Greek Public Documents" and Ida Östenberg's "Damnatio Memoriae Inscribed: The Materiality of Cultural Repression" both treat disposal, effacing, and redactions of official texts. Rhodes collects an impressive set of inscriptions that were either purposefully destroyed, such as FD 3.1.400, which honored Aristotle and Callisthenes, but was later discarded in a well, or amended, as in the case of IG II2 43, from which a pro-Persian statement was erased when Athens turned against the King's Peace in 367 BCE. Östenberg's essay addresses the paradox of such visible erasures in the case of personal names. She shows that sometimes the traces of effacing were purposefully left in order to create the memory of their disgrace (thus not exactly in line with the modern label of damnatio memoriae) and that those erasures were treated differently based on their material form.

Particularly valuable is the scrutiny in the book of epigraphic landscapes and the movement of people in the inscribed urban space. Here, the contribution that stands out is Abigail Graham's chapter, "Re-Appraising the Value of Same-Text Relationships", in which she rejects the common practice of looking for an "original" text and calling all other versions "copies". Graham analyzes how the same text can be manipulated and presented in different ways depending on its surrounding space. Those subtle variations reveal that monumental inscriptions were each meticulously planned to satisfy the aesthetic needs of the relevant building and, at the same time, to reflect ideological hierarchies of the text as perceived by ancient audiences. In a similar vein, Katharina Bolle in her chapter, "Inscriptions between Text and Texture", analyzes how placement in the urban landscape, visibility, letter design, and the relation to other objects in the vicinity influenced the self-representation of inscriptions' dedicants and their viewers' perception.

In the context of crowded epigraphic landscapes it is especially important to discuss the ways in which inscribed texts could vie for attention and create their own authority. Joseph Day, in "The 'Spatial Dynamics' of Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram", explores the highly competitive sanctuary of Delphi. In several case studies of intertextual conversations, Day distinguishes between "cooperative" and "competitive" interactions. The former are illustrated by the Daochus' monument, where nine statues of Daochus' family members were accompanied by epigrams that referred to one another's accomplishments and reinforced the prestige of their kin. The competitive relationship is apparent in the monument of the Nauarchs: dedicated by Sparta, it was intended to challenge the military display of Athens, but was in turn contested by an Arcadian foundation boasting of its own victory over Lacedaemon. Day's treatment of those epigraphic interplays opens new analytical perspectives for texts that are not as blatantly intertextual.

Donald Lavigne's essay, "The Authority of Archaic Greek Epigram", explores comparable questions of self-representation in early epigraphic poetry, but perhaps with less convincing results. Lavigne states that performance, performer, and audience are crucial for our understanding of epigrammatic authority (p. 171) and continues with interesting remarks on epigrams as site-specific performance. Unfortunately, there are not enough details of how Lavigne would actually imagine a performative interaction with epigrams. He limits himself to a notional audience (p. 171) and notional performance (p. 179) by "a person who happens to be inspired by the presence of a monument" (p. 182). While I do agree that funeral epigrams could indeed have been performative, I would like to see more evidence to support this claim. Other chapters add to the diversity of methodological approaches. Philology is represented by Kirk's essay on what epigraphe is exactly, Zadorojnyi's exploration of related terminology, Tueller's work on the creation of women's speech in Greek epigrams, and Heyworth's inquiry into the materiality of writing in Latin elegy. Garulli's and Leatherbury's contributions both delve into the relationships between different media. The former addresses lectional signs shared by papyri and stone inscriptions, albeit in a rather traditional form of a catalogue. The latter investigates the material form of tabula ansata, which became a decorative element on Late Antique mosaics.

I have one note on an editorial inconsistency: the reference style is author-date in the footnotes, but on some pages we find a doubling with in-text references, which creates unnecessary clutter (see, e.g., p. 106). That minor imperfection, however, does not take away from the value of the volume. Since this publication includes essays from the field of epigraphy, philology, and history of art and architecture, it should be of great interest to scholars across ancient disciplines. It represents a wide variety of perspectives, each of them pushing the field of epigraphy forward.

Authors and Titles

1. Andrej Petrovic, "The Materiality of Text: An Introduction" (pp. 1-25)
2. Athena Kirk, "What is an ἐπιγραφή in Classical Greece?" (pp. 29-47)
3. Alexei Zadorojnyi, "The Aesthetics and Politics of Inscriptions in Imperial Greek Literature" (pp. 48-68)
4. Joseph W. Day, "The 'Spatial Dynamics' of Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram: Conversations among Locations, Monuments, Texts, and Viewer-Readers" (pp. 73-104)
5. Valentina Garulli, "Lectional Signs in Greek Verse Inscriptions" (pp. 105-144)
6. P. J. Rhodes, "Erasures in Greek Public Documents" (pp. 145-166)
7. Donald E. Lavigne, "The Authority of Archaic Greek Epigram" (pp. 169-186)
8. Michael A. Tueller, "Writing, Women's Silent Speech" (pp. 187-204)
9. S. J. Heyworth, "Hard Verses and Soft Books: The Materials of Elegy" (pp. 205-228)
10. Ioannis Mylonopoulos, "The Power of the Absent Text: Dedicatory Inscriptions on Greek Sacred Architecture and Altars" (pp. 231-274)
11. Abigail Graham, "Re-Appraising the Value of Same-Text Relationships; a Study of 'Duplicate' Inscriptions in the Monumental Landscape at Aphrodisias" (pp. 275-302)
12. Fanny Opdenhoff, "Layers of Urban Life: A Contextual Analysis of Inscriptions in the Public Space of Pompeii" (pp. 303-323)
13. Ida Östenberg, "Damnatio Memoriae Inscribed: The Materiality of Cultural Repression" (pp. 324-347)
14. Katharina Bolle, "Inscriptions between Text and Texture: Inscribed Monuments in Public Spaces — A Case Study at Late Antique Ostia" (pp. 348-379)
15. Sean V. Leatherbury, "Framing Late Antique Texts as Monuments: The Tabula Ansata between Sculpture and Mosaic" (pp. 380-404)
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