Bryn Mawr Classical Review | 1 Nov 22:37 2008

BMCR 2008.11.02: Polignac on Budin on Pironti

Polignac on Budin on Pironti. Response to 2008.08.45.

Response by François de Polignac, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (polignac <at>

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Methodological issues in the study of Greek religion: a necessary mise au point.

One may more or less disagree with a review and nevertheless abstain from reacting, leaving the debate open
for other arenas. But some reviews raise so important methodological issues and reveal so deep a gap in a
field of study that they require a comment. Such is the case of the recent review by Stephanie Budin of
Gabriella Pironti's book, Entre ciel et guerre. Figures d'Aphrodite en Grèce ancienne (BMCR
2008.08.45). As a member of the jury who unanimously gave the highest appraisal to Pironti's doctoral
dissertation and strongly advocated its immediate publication, I feel compelled to point out some
problematic aspects of this review.

One thing to consider is that, in her wish to break with the traditional interpretation of Aphrodite as the
goddess of sweet love, easily associated in our minds with the pretty and slender Botticellian long- and
fair-haired figure, Pironti may have gone a bit too far here and there or neglected some diverging
evidence. Constructive remarks are welcome when the general idea and method of the demonstration are
well understood. But the very first lines of the review reveal, on the contrary, a basic
misunderstanding. The word "love" opens the review and occurs six more times in nine lines, while
Aphrodite is mentioned only twice: would Pironti's book be a dissertation about "the ancient
conceptions of love" (p. 1)? Certainly not; it is concerned with the goddess Aphrodite, in a way which does
correspond to the soundest interpretations of ancient polytheisms. This means that Pironti does not
want to enclose Aphrodite in any rigid category predetermined by our own representations and ways of
thinking. Modern scholars have for long identified the ancient gods by one specific and static function,
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Bryn Mawr Classical Review | 1 Nov 23:13 2008

BMCR 2008.11.03: Balbo on Ferri on Balbo

Balbo on Ferri on Balbo. BMCR 2008.07.10.)

Response by Andrea Balbo, Università di Torino (andrea.balbo <at>

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Rolando Ferri’s review of my book I frammenti degli oratori romani dell'età augustea e tiberiana.
Parte seconda. Età tiberiana (BMCR 2008.07.10) has suggested to me some considerations.

I thank the reviewer for his careful reading of the book and for all his remarks. I was aware that there could
be some problems in a book of over 600 pages, and I take responsibility for them, even if I do not always agree
with Ferri’s objections. In this response I do not intend to answer each of the statements advanced by
Ferri; of course, they can help me (as well as the suggestions of other reviewers) to improve and correct my
book. Nevertheless, reading Ferri’s interesting review gives me the chance to reflect about some
methodological questions.

1) In his review Ferri is concerned about the planning of my edition, which he suspects “to be wholly
absent.” I wish to reassure Ferri that my work has known a lot of phases during more than ten years of
drafting.[[1]] I had the opportunity to exchange ideas with many scholars and obviously with the
editors: during these years, I arrived at some methodological beliefs that are shared also by the
editorial board and that I can summarize as follows: a) the most important factor is adherence to the same
format for both the first and the second volumes; b) the two volumes should be internally consistent and
coherent in their structure.

2) Ferri writes that it would be better to devise a continuous numbering system of fragments for my first
book about the Augustan age and my second work about the Tiberian age. As a matter of fact, the unity of the
project does not necessarily mean the unity of the two books. I decided that consecutive numbering
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 9 Nov 16:57 2008

BMCR 2008.11.09, Richard H. Wilkinson, Egyptology Today

Richard H. Wilkinson (ed.), Egyptology Today.  Cambridge:  Cambridge
University Press, 2008.  Pp. xiv, 283.  ISBN 978-0-521-68226-8.  $29.99

Reviewed by L. R. Siddall, School of Oriental and African Studies, the
University of London (luis.siddall <at>
Word count:  1572 words
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Table of Contents

This is a superb book. Wilkinson has brought together some of the
current leading Egyptologists to produce a single volume work that
introduces the reader to the methods and theories used in the study of
ancient Egypt. All aspects of Egyptology are covered from the Egyptian
language and medical research to the way archaeologists survey sites
and the conservation of artefacts. The book is organized thematically
into four parts (approaches, monuments, art and artifacts, and texts),
with each part comprising three chapters. Wonderfully illustrated, this
book will make excellent reading for students of the ancient world and
the interested public.

The volume opens and closes with succinct essays by the editor on the
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 9 Nov 16:54 2008

BMCR 2008.11.08, Henry Hurst, Ancient Colonizations

Henry Hurst, Sara Owen (ed.), Ancient Colonizations. Analogy,
Similarity & Difference.  London:  Duckworth, 2005.  Pp. 165.  ISBN
0-7156-3298-1.  L16.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Irad Malkin, Department of History, Tel Aviv University
(mediter <at>
Word count:  3320 words
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When Marc Ferro, one of France's leading historians and editor of the
recent Le livre noir du colonialisme (2003), published the English
translation of his Colonization: a global history (1997) he probably
did not imagine how little he would be read by ancient historians
dealing with Greek and Roman colonization, and specifically by those
interested in issues of "Analogy, Similarity, and Difference."
Similarly, it is not clear that Marcel Detienne's comparer
l'incomparable has been read by anyone participating in this
volume.[[1]] Even Jean Be/rard, a major historian of ancient
colonization, goes unmentioned, although he both warned against the
misnomer of colonization and, in his L'expansion et la colonisation
grecques (1960)[[2]] against the analogy of French colonization (les
franc,ais outremer) in north Africa. The books offers seven different
perspectives on explicit and implied analogies, three of which concern
the British  Empire, and the other Roman Colonialism, the Inka Empire,
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 10 Nov 15:36 2008

BMCR 2008.11.10, Tomasz Derda, Arsinoites Nomos

Tomasz Derda, Arsinoites Nomos. Administration of the Fayum under Roman
Rule. The Journal of Juristic Papyrology Supplement, 7.  Warsaw:
Institute of Archaeology, Warsaw University and Fundaja im. Rafala
Taubenschlaga, 2006.  Pp. xviii, 345; maps 4, tables 2.  ISBN
978-83-918250-6-8.  $79.00.

Reviewed by Peter Fibiger Bang, University of Copenhagen
(PBang <at>
Word count:  1251 words
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In this useful and interesting study of provincial Egypt, Tomasz Derda
has set himself the far from moderate task of disentangling the complex
and fragmented papyrological evidence relating to the formal aspects of
Roman administration in the Egyptian Fayum. The book grew out of his
engagement with the project of Willy Clarysse on "Fayum villages in the
Graeco-Roman Period" (p. XII) and as such reflects the classic concerns
of papyrology. First and foremost, this is a study of the formalities
of state administration; the emphasis is heavily on clarifying the use
of administrative terms which scholars encounter in the numerous
surviving documentary papyri in order to chart the nature of
administrative units and offices. A more penetrating analysis of the
relations of power underwriting Roman rule in Fayum society, on the
other hand, is not really attempted, though Derda does occasionally
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 10 Nov 15:38 2008

BMCR 2008.11.11, Davide Del Bello, Forgotten Paths. Etymology

Davide Del Bello, Forgotten Paths. Etymology and the Allegorical
Mindset.  Washington, DC:  The Catholic University of America Press,
2007.  Pp. xvi, 187.  ISBN 978-0-8132-1484-9.  $64.95.

Reviewed by Dunstan Lowe, University of Reading (d.m.lowe <at>
Word count:  984 words
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Table of Contents

This could never have been a simple book. Although modern definitions
separate them completely, allegory and etymology are both ways of
reading for hidden meaning: from antiquity to the present, those who
read texts for allegory and language for etymology have (in different
ways) seen themselves as hierophants of truths hidden from the
majority. An intellectual history of both practices together must
therefore lead into extremely abstract territory. Del Bello aims to
restore a lost appreciation for the long and varied tradition of
etymologizing, most of which is given scant attention because (by the
criteria of modern linguists) it is largely wrong. He argues that such
etymology, or rather 'etymegoreia' (in Proclus' coinage),[[1]] has
borne a close affinity with allegory and deserves some of the attention
which that concept currently enjoys among historians of literature and
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 13 Nov 00:26 2008

BMCR 2008.11.12, Catherine Darbo-Peschanski, L'Historia

Catherine Darbo-Peschanski, L'Historia. Commencements grecs. Collection
Folio essais.  Paris:  E/ditions Gallimard, 2007.  Pp. 585.  ISBN
978-2-07-034869-5.  EUR 10.30 (pb).

Reviewed by Peter Van Nuffelen, University of Exeter
(p.e.r.van-nuffelen <at>
Word count:  1827 words
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This rich, detailed book studies the development in antiquity of the
term and concept <greek>i(stori/a</greek> from its origins as a
judicial term. As the use of the Greek noun in the title makes clear,
Darbo-Peschanski argues against the projection of the modern category
'history' onto ancient Greek 'historia'. The Greeks did not invent
history, they invented 'historia'. The thesis of the book is that
'historia' has three meanings: (1) an empirical epistemology; (2)
'historicity', i.e. the way in which change over time is
conceptualised; (3) the literary genre of history. Darbo-Peschanski
proposes to study these three in sequence, although they can never be
fully disentangled.[[1]] Arguing, among others, against those who see
the creation of history in a methodological shift caused by an emphasis
on autopsy as the method to reconstruct the past, Darbo-Peschanski
locates its origins in judicial practice. The book thus proposes a new
context in which to situate the first practice of history,[[2]] but
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 13 Nov 00:28 2008

BMCR 2008.11.13, Emanuele Papi, Supplying Rome and the Empire

Emanuele Papi (ed.), Supplying Rome and the Empire: the Proceedings of
an International Seminar Held at Siena-Certosa di Pontignano on May
2-4, 2004, on Rome, the Provinces, Production and Distribution. Journal
of Roman Archaeology, Supplementary series no. 69.  Portsmouth, R.I.:
Journal of Roman Archaeology, 2007.  Pp. 227.  ISBN 9781887829694.

Reviewed by Edward Luttwak, Center for Strategic and International
Studies, Washington, DC  (eluttwak <at>
Word count:  1923 words
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This exceedingly useful and mostly very readable collection of
conference papers also contains a synthesis paper of which more anon,
but many non-specialists will focus on the particular rather than the
general, because in most cases the subject matter is inherently so

Mediterranean fisheries were notoriously poor (they are slightly richer
now because of littoral sewage), fish is the most perishable of foods,
yet the Roman diet was much enriched by fish. Laura Cerri's "Salsamenta
dalla Tingitania" focuses on one aspect of the paradox: In Tingitania
the more abundant Atlantic fishery provided the raw material,
evaporation basins provided the salt, and processing plants produced
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 14 Nov 02:29 2008

BMCR 2008.11.15, Darejan Kacharava, Wine, Worship, and Sacrifice

Darejan Kacharava, Guram Kvirkvelia, Wine, Worship, and Sacrifice: the
Golden Graves of Ancient Vani.  Princeton:  Institute for the Study of
the Ancient World; In association with Princeton University Press,
2008.  Pp. 215.  ISBN 9780691138565.  $40.00.

Reviewed by Eleni Konstantinidi-Syvridi, National Archaeological
Museum, Athens (eleni_konst <at>
Word count:  1711 words
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[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

"Wine, Worship and Sacrifice", a publication presented in the frame of
the homonymous temporary exhibition at the Institute for the Study of
the Ancient World at New York University, is much more than an
exhibition catalogue. It is the long awaited publication of the
archaeology of ancient "rich in gold" Colchis and the extraordinary
finds of the city of Vani, a most important centre with a life span
from the 8th to the 1st centuries BC. The catalogue is the first
comprehensive English-language publication about ancient Colchis and
Vani. Beautifully illustrated, it succeeds in giving a complete picture
of the archaeology of a culture in which we can trace the roots of
ancient jewellery techniques and viticulture. The authors themselves,
Kacharava and Kvirkvelia, are senior researchers at the National Museum
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Bryn Mawr Reviews | 14 Nov 02:27 2008

BMCR 2008.11.14, David Fearn, Bacchylides. Politics, Performance

David Fearn, Bacchylides. Politics, Performance, Poetic Tradition.
Oxford Classical Monographs.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2007.
Pp. xii, 428; figs. 6.  ISBN 978-0-19-921550-8.  $140.00.

Reviewed by Giambattista D'Alessio, King's College London
(giambattista.d'alessio <at>
Word count:  4642 words
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In his monograph on Bacchylides ("the first ... in English in over
twenty years") Fearn presents his own approach as "original and
wide-ranging" and describes his book as "a significant and timely
contribution" to an ongoing debate (p. v). There is no doubt that very
few monographs have been devoted to Bacchylides, in English or in other
languages for that matter, and Fearn's work, based on a 2003 Oxford
dissertation, is thoroughly researched, wide-ranging and stimulating.
The book comprises an introduction, on "Tradition and
Contextualization", and two parts, one on "Praise", and the other on
Bacchylides' 'Dithyrambs'. It is on points of detail that the book's
strength can be more easily recognized, and the second part, on the
so-called Dithyrambs, seems to me to be the most successful one.

In his introduction, after the usual brief preamble about Bacchylides'
neglect in comparison to Pindar and other contemporary poets, Fearn
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