Bryn Mawr Reviews | 2 Nov 01:39 2007

BMCR 2007.10.53, M.L. West , Indo-European Poetry and Myth

M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth.  Oxford:  Oxford University
Press, 2007.  Pp. xii, 525.  ISBN 978-0-19-928075-9.  L80.00.

Reviewed by N. J. Allen, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology,
Oxford (nick.allen <at>
Word count:  1924 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

Table of Contents

This important book asks a big question and meets a real need. Taking
for granted the stemma provided for Indo-European (IE) comparative
philology, it asks how much in the poetry and mythology of the
IE-speaking world goes back to the preliterate period when the IE
languages were beginning to differentiate and to expand territorially.
An introduction quickly presents the IE-speaking world, the primary
sources and some considerations of comparative method, and thereafter
the book moves from the linguistic craft of the poet via gods towards
heroes. All students of early Greece will be aware of the work of
Martin West (henceforth W.). They will expect a book pitched at the
highest level of scholarship and displaying prodigious erudition, and
they will not be disappointed.

As W. recognises, no one could read everything that might be relevant,
but the range of primary sources is impressive ("I have furnished
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 2 Nov 01:38 2007

BMCR 2007.10.52, Yiannis Papadatos , Tholos Tomb Gamma

Yiannis Papadatos, Tholos Tomb Gamma, A Prepalatial Tholos Tomb at
Phourni, Archanes. With a contribution by Sevi Triantaphyllou.
Philadelphia, PA:  INSTAP Academic Press, 2005.  Pp. xvii, 87; ills.
29, tables 19, pls. 22.  ISBN 1-931534-17-9.  $60.00.

Reviewed by Kostas Sbonias, Ionian University, Corfu, Greece
(sbonias <at>
Word count:  1955 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

Despite recent work in several settlements, the prepalatial period in
Crete is mainly known from collective tombs that received a large
number of successive burials over a period of many centuries. Moreover,
the majority of them have been robbed or known only from short reports
of rescue excavations. In this respect, the systematic excavations by
Yannis and Efi Sakellarakis of Phourni cemetery at Archanes, which
extends from the prepalatial period (EM II) to the end of the Bronze
Age and yielded a wealth of funerary goods and a multitude of burial
buildings, ossuaries and tholos graves, most of them unlooted and
undisturbed till their excavation, provides a unique opportunity to
study the culture and society of Minoan Crete through the mortuary
evidence. The detailed preliminary reports of the excavation and a two
volume synthetic publication by the excavators provide the main source
of information about the cemetery.[[1]]

Papadatos' book Tholos Tomb Gamma: A Prepalatial Tholos Tomb at
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 2 Nov 01:38 2007

BMCR 2007.10.51, Ce/cile Bost-Pouderon , Dion Chrysostome: Orr. 33-35

Ce/cile Bost-Pouderon, Dion Chrysostome: Trois discours aux villes
(Orr. 33-35). To^me 1: Prole/gome\nes, e/dition critique et traduction;
To^me 2: Commentaires, bibliographie et index. Cardo: E/tudes et Textes
pour l'Identite/ Culturelle de l'Antiquite/ Tardive, 4-5.  Salerno:
Helios Editrice, 2006.  Pp. 179; 400.  ISBN 978-88-88123-11-0.  
EUR 38.00/EUR 50.00.

Reviewed by Tonnes Bekker-Nielsen, University of Southern Denmark,
Kolding (tonnes <at>
Word count:  2128 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

By any reckoning, Dio of Prusa ranks among the most fascinating figures
of the Second Sophistic. He was famous for his rhetorical skills and
known to admirers as chrysostomos, the "golden-mouthed". Of his works,
a corpus of 80 orations has been preserved (though not all are
genuinely Dionian, nor orations in the strict sense), dealing mainly
with social philosophy and its applications at all levels from the
imperial down to the municipal: Dio was a city councilor of his native
Prusa and a self-appointed advisor to many other cities of Roman Asia
Minor. The speeches presented and analyzed in this two-volume work,
which is based on the author's doctoral thesis, were delivered in
Tarsus (Or. 33-34), and in Phrygian Apameia, also known as Celainia
(Or. 35). Volume 1 presents a critical edition of the texts, a French
translation with detailed commentary, and a discussion of the
manuscript tradition and other aspects of the textual history of Orr.
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 2 Nov 16:03 2007

BMCR 2007.10.56, David Goodblatt , Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism

David Goodblatt, Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism.  Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006.  Pp. 276.  ISBN 978-0-521-86202-8.

Reviewed by Carol Bakhos, University of California, Los Angeles
(cbakhos <at>
Word count:  1887 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

Table of Contents

In Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism, Goodblatt masterfully argues
that nationalism can be found in the ancient world, and that the
collective identity asserted by the Jews in antiquity fits contemporary
definitions of nationalism. The notion that nationalism existed prior
to the modern period, however, runs contrary to the widespread view
that it is a phenomenon only of the past 200 years. Scholars in the
field by and large maintain that it probably originated as a result of
efforts made by rulers and statesmen to mobilize their subjects and
utilize their loyalty, and thus to strengthen their states in order to
keep pace with the exceedingly competitive European environment.

To be sure, there is an inordinate amount of literature on this very
issue. Ever since 1882 when Ernest Renan delivered a lecture, "What is
a nation?," a cottage industry has flourished seeking to define the
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 2 Nov 16:01 2007

BMCR 2007.10.54, Capdetrey/Nelis-Clement: La circulation de l'information

Laurent Capdetrey, Jocelyne Nelis-Cle/ment, La circulation de
l'information dans les e/tats antiques. Ausonius E/ditions, E/tudes 14.
Paris:  De Boccard, 2006.  Pp. 228.  ISBN 2-910023-87-7.  EUR 35.00.

Reviewed by Fe/lix Racine, Yale University (felix.racine <at>
Word count:  2192 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

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

It is a simple and acknowledged truth that no government can operate,
let alone impose its will on a population, without a steady flow of
information to and from its local representatives. The nature of this
information as well as its manner of transmission are a testimony to a
government's priorities and limitations, to social and intellectual
structures, as well as to the available technology. La circulation de
l'information dans les e/tats antiques collects ten papers originally
presented at a roundtable at the Institut Ausonius (Pessac) in 2002,
which present stimulating analyses of the transmission of information
within ancient administrations. Although the cases covered range from
Sargon II's Nineveh to the Constantinian Church, this volume holds
together very well, and will be a welcome read for anyone interested in
ancient communication, power structures or institutions.

The editors invite readers (Capdetrey's introduction, 9) to consider
this book together with another collection of papers, L'e/criture
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 2 Nov 16:02 2007

BMCR 2007.10.55, Barchiesi/Rosati: Ovidio Metamorfosi, Libri III-IV

Alessandro Barchiesi, Gianpiero Rosati, Ovidio Metamorfosi. Volume II,
Libri III-IV. Translation by Ludovica Koch.  Milan:  Arnoldo Mondadori
Editore, 2007.  Pp. 354.  ISBN 978-88-04-56234-4.  EUR 27.00.

Reviewed by Gauthier Liberman (gauthierliberman <at>
Word count:  2919 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

Probably most scholars interested in Ovid's masterpiece already know
the characteristics of this Fu+nfma+nnerkommentar (thus labelled by
Barchiesi himself in the first volume, XII; one is reminded of the
Sechsma+nnerkommentar of the Odyssey published in the same series,
which is actually a five-men and one-woman commentary): the Latin text
is that of Richard Tarrant's OCT (2004), with few deviations (collected
in a short "nota al testo" XXXVI), mostly restorations of lines
expelled by Tarrant, and an abridged apparatus taken from the same
edition.[[1]] The notes generally provide both laymen and scholars with
what they need to understand the mythology, narratology,
intertextuality and metapoetry of Ovid's work (for an exception see
below the note on 3,721-722). This part seems to me to be successful
and often excellent; as it is based on wide bibliographical knowledge
and less positivistic, more holistic, sometimes typically postmodern
literary criticism, it can be considered as a useful and even
indispensable update of the late Franz Bo+mer's monumental commentary
(1969-1986), which however will remain unsuperseded as a repository of
all kinds of information, especially those which are insufficiently
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 2 Nov 16:04 2007

BMCR 2007.11.01, , BMCR Books Received (October, 2007)

BMCR Books Received (October, 2007).

Titles marked by an asterisk are available for review. Qualified
volunteers should indicate their interest by a message to
classrev <at>, with their last name and requested author in the
subject line. (PLEASE DO *NOT* REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE.) They should
state their qualifications (both in the sense of degrees held and in
the sense of experience in the field concerned) and explain any
previous relationship with the author.

*Abadie-Reynal, Catherine, La ce/ramique romaine d'Argos (fin du IIe s.
av. J.-C.-fin du IVe s. ap. J.-C.). E/tudes pe/loponne/siennes, 13.
Athens: E/cole franc,aise d'Athe\nes, 2007. Pp. 342; pls. 78. EUR
110.00 (pb). ISBN 2-86958-200-5.

*Ashdowne, Richard, and James Morwood, Writing Latin. An Introduction
to Writing in the Language of Cicero and Caesar. London: Duckworth,
2007. Pp. vi, 186. $23.50 (pb). ISBN 978-1-85399-701-3.

*Asheri, David, Alan Lloyd, and Aldo Corcella (comm.), A Commentary on
Herodotus Books I-IV. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. lxxi,
721; maps 44, figs. 8. $320.00. ISBN 978-0-19-814956-9.

*Asper, Markus, Griechische Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Formen,
Funktionen, Differenzierungsgeschichten. Philosophie der Antike, 25.
Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007. Pp. 453. EUR 66.00. ISBN

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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 6 Nov 00:45 2007

BMCR 2007.11.04, Florian Ebeling , The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus

Florian Ebeling, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism
from Ancient to Modern Times. Translated from the German by David
Lorton.  Itaca:  Cornell University Press, 2007.  Pp. xiv, 158.  ISBN
978-0-8014-4546-0.  $29.95.

Reviewed by Pieter W. van der Horst, The Netherlands (pwvdh <at>
Word count:  948 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

This book is a revised version of Ebeling's dissertation (the
Heidelberg Egyptologist Jan Assmann was his supervisor) and it offers a
concise history of Hermeticism from antiquity up to and including the
twentieth century. It is a wide-ranging subject that is competently
covered by the author.

The first chapter begins with a clear declaration of principle: "The
eponymous patron of Hermeticism never existed: Hermes Trismegistus was
a fiction, a fruitful fiction with lasting effects" (3). This chapter
deals with the origins and early history of Hermetic thought and
literature in antiquity. Ebeling rightly stresses the variety of ideas
within the Corpus Hermeticum and highlights the still undecided debate
over the primary background of the Hermetic movement (Egyptian or

In chapter 2, E. argues that Hermetic literature was better known the
Middle Ages than has often been assumed. The fact that some of the
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 6 Nov 00:47 2007

BMCR 2007.11.05, S. A. Barney et al., The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville

S. A. Barney, W. J. Lewis, J. A. Beach, O. Berghof (trans.), The Etymologies of
Isidore of Seville. With the collaboration of M. Hall.  Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006.  Pp. 475.  ISBN 0-521-83749-9.

Reviewed by Rolando Ferri, Universita\ di Pisa (r.ferri <at>
Word count:  1402 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

Table of Contents

The Etymologiae or Origines of Isidore of Seville, composed in the
first half of the seventh century, are what we would call today an
encyclopedic dictionary, though one in which the attempt to provide
accurate, informative definitions is not the overriding concern, and
the study of a word's origin or etymology, which gives the work its
title, is often more important than its definition. The work's twenty
books start from the seven liberal arts (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic,
arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy, Bks. 1-3), then broaden in
scope to include other spheres of human activity (medicine, Bk. 4; law,
Bk. 5) and of the natural and mineral world (e. g. the sky, the earth
and other geographical topics, Bks. 13 and 14; the animals in Bk. 12;
gems, stones and the metals in Bk. 16). Bks. 6-8 are devoted to
Christian subjects, spanning from the Scriptures to liturgy and heresy.
The work was described by Isidore himself as unfinished (some lemmata,
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 6 Nov 00:45 2007

BMCR 2007.11.03, Sabine MacCormack , On the Wings of Time. ROme, the Incas, Spain

Sabine MacCormack, On the Wings of Time. Rome, the Incas, Spain and
Peru.  Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2007.  Pp. 320.  ISBN
978-0-691-12674-6.  $35.00.

Reviewed by Chiara O. Tommasi Moreschini, University of Pisa
(tommasi <at>
Word count:  2587 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

Table of Contents

Sabine MacCormack is a familiar name to all scholars of Late Antiquity
because of her successful book Art and Ceremony (Berkeley 1981), which
investigates with a fine sensibility for iconography the panegyric
motifs and the sense of grandeur that pervaded late antique
ceremonials, and her more recent book devoted to the examination of
Saint Augustine's aesthetic theories (Shadows of Poetry. Vergil in the
Mind of Augustine [Berkeley 1998]). Her second main field of interest
is the history of Latin America and of Peru in particular, and the
interaction, in terms of both conflict and accommodation, between
Andean and European cultures and religions at the beginning of the
modern era: she has already published a book in this field, Religion in
the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru (Princeton
1991), together with many papers, among which worth mentioning are
"From the Sun of the Inca to the Virgin of Copacabana," Representations
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