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Re: Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Great Resource)

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  • Peter
    Thanks for posting that Joe! I was familiar with Bryn MAwr but was unaware about the newsletter. It will be a treat! Thanks! :) Peter
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 26, 2006
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      Thanks for posting that Joe!

      I was familiar with Bryn MAwr but was unaware about the newsletter. It
      will be a treat! Thanks! :)


      --- In Roman_History_Books@yahoogroups.com, "Joe Geranio"
      <geranioj@...> wrote:
      > http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/
      > Here is a sample of a review that can you can receive automatically
      > by email. See Sample review.
      > Join the Julio-Claudian Iconographic Association to continue to
      > receive information like this at:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/julioclaudian/
      > Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.04.10
      > ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      > -----------
      > Eric R. Varner, Mutilation and Transformation, Damnatio Memoriae and
      > Roman Imperial Portraiture. Leiden: Brill, 2004. Pp. 340; ill.
      > 215. ISBN 90-04-13577-4. $249.00.
      > ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      > -----------
      > Reviewed by Silke Knippschild, Center for Hellenic Studies
      > (Washington, DC) (knippsch@...)
      > Word count: 2557 words
      > In his study of Roman imperial portraiture Varner (henceforth V.)
      > investigates the destruction and recycling of images of Roman
      > emperors and members of their family after their condemnation by
      > what was called damnatio memoriae. V. includes a wide range of
      > evidence and provides a particularly useful catalogue as well as
      > numerous illustrations of high quality. That said, the presentation
      > of the study is unfortunately rather sloppy.
      > The book proceeds directly to the argument. In chapter 1 (pp. 1-20)
      > V. explains issues of damnatio memoriae in the Roman Empire. He
      > points out the parallels between mutilation of portrait and
      > mutilation of corpse, treats the reworking of images, and stresses
      > the important role the phenomenon played in Roman society. Further,
      > he highlights antecedents and similarities in the Ancient Near East,
      > Egypt, Greece and Sicily, as well as in Republican Rome, with extra
      > sections on Marius and Sulla as well as on Antony and Cleopatra VII.
      > In this part, V. might have examined his sources somewhat more
      > extensively. To specify examples, in the Near Eastern section V.
      > resorts to the mutilation of an Akkadian royal portrait as an early
      > example without considering the fact that the attack on the head
      > apparently took place after the sack of Nineveh in 612 B.C. At that
      > time, the image was more than a thousand years old, and the
      > mutilation should be considered a late example.1 He uses evidence
      > exclusively from Nineveh after 612 B.C. and from Persepolis, in the
      > latter case neither specifying the time of the mutilation nor
      > quoting his sources. This procedure projects a lopsided image, at
      > best. As cause for the mutilation of political images V. resorts to
      > animistic beliefs. One wonders how such beliefs can result in the
      > destruction of a ruler's images in the Near East but apparently have
      > nothing to do with parallel phenomena in the rest of the
      > Mediterranean world. Lastly, V. seems not to be aware that curses
      > against the change or mutilation of objects are frequently inscribed
      > on all sorts of things (e.g. boundary stones and foundation
      > tablets2) throughout the Near East. Such an inscription on a royal
      > statue need not surprise and should certainly not lead to the
      > assumption of a particular "susceptibility of Near Eastern royal
      > images to politically motivated mutilation" (p.12).
      > Chapter 2 (pp. 21-45), Caligula, Milonia Caesonia and Julia
      > Drusilla, opens up with a few words on the life, reign, and death of
      > the emperor Caligula, his wife Milonia Caesonia, and his daughter
      > Julia Drusilla. In equally short fashion V. goes into the reasons
      > why the succeeding ruler, Claudius, vetoed a formal damnatio
      > memoriae of his late nephew but had a de facto ban on his memory
      > instituted nevertheless. V. proceeds to investigate the physical
      > appearance of Caligula as described in literary sources and
      > represented in coins and sculpture, and includes a discussion of
      > iconography. In the following section on the mutilation and
      > destruction of the emperor's images, he points out that evidence for
      > disfigurement of sculpture is fairly rare, that coins bearing his
      > image were defaced as well, and that the sensory organs of the image
      > were the features most frequently attacked. V. also analyses
      > reworked portraits of Caligula, most of which ended up representing
      > his successor, Claudius. These he divides into two groups,
      > classicizing and veristic images, and explains the difficulties a
      > sculptor would face recutting the heads as well as the political
      > implications of the two stylistic groups. This issue recurs
      > throughout the book. Again, V. refers to the typology of Claudius'
      > likenesses and, if pertinent, uses this evidence to point out
      > vestigial Caligulan elements such as the shape of the curls of the
      > forehead. Reworked images of Caligula turned into Augustus,
      > Tiberius, Titus, an unidentifiable soldier emperor -- probably
      > Claudius Gothicus -- , and a deity.
      > In the next part of the book, V. addresses pieces of sculpture that
      > were removed from view and thus, ironically, escaped destruction,
      > recycling or reuse as spoils. He remarks upon the excellent state of
      > preservation of some of these images, which suggests storage in a
      > safe location, and on the poor state of others that were disposed of
      > in a more violent fashion intended to denigrate the subject, e.g. by
      > being thrown into the Tiber. As the latter is also a form of
      > destroying an image, I think that a cross-reference in the section
      > on mutilation and destruction would have been in order. In the
      > following section V. lists examples of statues representing Caligula
      > that remained on public display after his death, instances mostly in
      > dynastic groups. Milonia Caesonia's and Julia Drusilla's images
      > were, according to V., destroyed along with Caligula's. In fact,
      > none of their likenesses survives. In a brief conclusion to the
      > chapter V. sums up his findings and notes that the treatment of
      > Caligula's portraits sets patterns which were to remain operative
      > for the following three centuries.
      > In chapter 3, Nero and Poppaea (pp. 46-85), V. emphasizes the extent
      > and severity of the mutilation of the dead emperor's images,
      > including not only sculpture but also coins and gems. He notes that
      > Nero was the first princeps subjected to a proper damnatio memoriae
      > by senatus consultum. Two of his likenesses seem to have been
      > reworked as private individuals, a rarity among the transformed
      > images of emperors. Others were recut to resemble Vespasian, Titus,
      > Domitian, Augustus, Claudius, Galba, Trajan, Antinous, Gallienus,
      > and a Constantinian emperor. V. treats Nero's colossus and its
      > history after Nero's suicide in a separate section. Further, he
      > investigates the reinstitution of Nero's images and their continuing
      > circulation until the fifth century, with interesting spotlights on
      > modern reception since the Renaissance. Poppaea's parallel damnatio
      > is also treated. Concluding the chapter, V. characterizes Nero's
      > damnatio as a turning point in the transformation of imperial
      > portraits.
      > Chapter 4 (pp. 86-104) is devoted to other Julio-Claudians, treating
      > persons connected with but not necessarily related to the Julio-
      > Claudians as well as members of the dynasty. As opposed to his usual
      > presentation V. divides the chapter into subsections on the specific
      > persons, including their history, damnatio, and rehabilitation if
      > applicable. Sculptural evidence for damnatio is rather scarce in
      > these instances. Also, in several cases identification of the
      > subject is far from certain. The objects of V.'s interest are Julia
      > Maior, Agrippa Postumus, Julia Minor, Agrippina Maior, Nero and
      > Drusus Caesar, Sejanus, Livilla, Valeria Messalina, Arippina Minor,
      > Claudia Octavia, Claudia Antonia, Julia Livilla, Julia Drusilla,
      > Lollia Paulina, Domitia Lepida, and Ptolemy of Mauretania. Chapter 5
      > (pp. 105-110) treats the year 69. V. adapts his approach to the
      > circumstances of that year by dividing the chapter into subsections
      > on Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. In each he offers a brief overview of
      > the history, damnatio, and, where pertinent, the rehabilitation of
      > the emperor. The chapter is markedly less detailed than its
      > predecessors, thanks, in part, to the scarce material on these
      > ephemeral emperors.
      > With Chapter 6 (pp. 111-135), devoted to Domitian's damnatio, we
      > return to the structure of chapters 2 and 3. Of particular interest
      > are some little known reliefs in Castel Gandolfo and Anacapri that
      > V. brings to our attention (pp. 113-14). The destruction of some
      > cuirassed statue-torsos is also noteworthy, as statues' bodies were
      > normally retained when the head of the condemned emperor was removed
      > and fitted with the head of his successor (p. 114). Obviously,
      > hatred outweighed economy in these cases. Portraits of Domitian were
      > recut to the likenesses of Trajan, Titus, a Constantinian emperor,
      > Augustus, and an unidentifiable fourth century emperor. V.
      > emphasizes that reworking images of condemned emperors by now had
      > become a well-established practice.
      > Chapter 7 (pp. 136-155) treats Commodus and his reign. V. highlights
      > a change in the exercise of damnatio. According to him, the
      > recutting of images went largely out of practice, or if images are
      > reworked, the recycling did not take place until many years later.
      > Instances of reuse are a transformation of Commodus into Pupienus
      > (probably) nearly 50 years after the initial ban of memory, and into
      > Licinius (again, probably) more than a hundred years later. Instead
      > of the economic reuse of condemned emperors (recycling), mutilation
      > now became the standard response. V. emphasizes the difficulties in
      > treating Commodus because of his rehabilitation in the reign of
      > Didius Julianus and his deification under Septimius Severus only a
      > few years after his murder. Nevertheless, some examples of mutilated
      > images are extant and support V.'s arguments. Further, V. treats
      > Commodus' sister Lucilla and his wife Crispina. An account of Annia
      > Fundiana Faustina, a cousin of Marcus Aurelius, concludes the
      > chapter.
      > The Severans, subjects of chapter 8 (pp. 156-199), mark another
      > change in the practice of damnatio. V. states that under their
      > reigns bans on memory were enforced against a great many members of
      > the imperial family or against rival emperors. The historical
      > introduction to the chapter is separated into a general description
      > of the era and an account of the rivals to Septimius Severus. In the
      > following, V. investigates the damnationes of the contestants to the
      > throne, Didius Julianus, Clodius Albinus, and Pescennius Niger. A
      > section on Plautianus, father of Caracalla's wife Plautilla and
      > highly influential during Septimius Severus' reign, follows this but
      > is missing from the table of contents. Accounts of Plautilla and
      > Geta, with individual subdivisions, follow. Somewhat briefer is the
      > description of Caracalla's damnatio. Macrinus and Diadumenianus are
      > treated together, as are Elagabalus and his mother, Julia Soemias,
      > and also Severus Alexander and his mother, Julia Mammaea. In this
      > period, V. sees the acme of damnatio memoriae in terms of the
      > dissemination and excessiveness of the phenomenon.
      > Chapters 9 and 10 are characterized by generally shorter accounts.
      > In chapter 9 (pp. 200-213) V. investigates the later third century,
      > A.D. 235-285. Maximinus Thrax, Maximus, and Caecilia Paulina open
      > the chapter. In regard to Maximus' wife Caecilia Paulina, V. states
      > simply that no sculptural likenesses of her survive, so they must
      > have been included in the destruction of her husband's images.
      > Further examples of this kind of negative evidence for the
      > destruction of images (e.g. Carinus) follow in the course of this
      > chapter. Pupienus and Balbinus come next, in turn followed by
      > Gordian III, Philip the Arab, Philip Minor and Otacilia Severa. V.
      > continues with Trajan Decius, Herrenius Etruscus, and Hostilian.
      > Trebonius Gallus is next in line. Further emperors treated are
      > Aemilian and his wife Cornelia Supera, a Soldier Emperor, perhaps to
      > be identified with Valerian, the possibly invented North African
      > ruler Celsus, Gallienus, his wife Salonina and his sons Valerian
      > Minor, Saloninus and Marinianus, whose name is notably misspelled in
      > the section's title. Carinus, Carausius, and Allectus conclude the
      > account. In his conclusion V. spotlights the political insecurity
      > and the perpetual changes of power during this era and links them
      > with the conspicuous lack of evidence regarding the destruction of
      > imperial images.
      > The early fourth century is the subject of chapter 10 (pp. 214-224).
      > The condemned and reinstated Maximian opens this part of the book,
      > followed by Maxentius, whose images were transformed into likenesses
      > of Constantine, such as the famous colossus from the Basilica Nova.
      > Maxentius' wife Galeria Valeria Maximilla and their son Romulus are
      > next, the latter featuring in the section's title without actually
      > appearing in the text. After that V. goes on to Maximinus Daia.
      > Subsequently he treats Diocletian's wife Prisca, her daughter
      > Galeria Valeria, and her son Candidianus. Crispus, eldest son of
      > Constantine, and his stepmother Fausta conclude the chapter. V.
      > identifies a revival of the practice of recycling as the most
      > important feature of this era. Perhaps by way of explaining or
      > justifying the timeframe of his study, V. goes on to pinpoint the
      > general lack of conclusive evidence for the practice of damnatio
      > memoriae starting with the rule of Constantine. He mentions a few
      > notorious incidents such as the so-called Riot of the Statues under
      > Theodosius' reign. In a last paragraph V. finally addresses very
      > briefly the functions of imperial images and damnatio memoriae in
      > Roman society.
      > The extensive and clearly structured catalogue (pp. 225-288) comes
      > in rather handy. V. lists the altered and mutilated likenesses
      > discussed in the book. He provides museum information, size,
      > material, provenance, pertinent publications, and short descriptions
      > of the works. Also, the spelling is markedly better than in the
      > previous chapters. V.'s system of presenting altered images in the
      > chapter on the emperor the portrait originally resembled takes a
      > little getting used to but is consistent with V.'s approach. Cross-
      > referencing the figures might have been presented more clearly,
      > especially as works do not always appear in the same sequence in the
      > plates as they do in the catalogue, e.g. no. 1.1 is fig. 3, while
      > no. 1.3 is fig. 2 a-b.
      > The select bibliography (pp. 289-305) is comprehensive and highly
      > useful. The same applies to the index of museums and collections
      > (pp. 307-316). The general index is well structured, wide-ranging,
      > and facilitates the access to the book (pp. 317-333).
      > A list of illustrations (pp. 335-340) and 215 images complete the
      > book. The numerous illustrations are of generally high quality, show
      > most objects from different perspectives, and are very welcome
      > indeed.
      > On the positive side, this guide to and compilation of imperial
      > portraits subjected to damnatio memoriae is extremely useful. It
      > compiles and updates preceding scholarship on the subject and
      > presents it in an easily accessible manner.3 Further, V. uses
      > literary sources frequently to highlight the events he investigates,
      > thus providing a deeper insight into the processes involved. He also
      > puts epigraphic, numismatic, and glyptic material to good use. In
      > most cases, V. provides the Latin or Greek texts as well as
      > translations, which is certainly helpful for students or the
      > interested public.
      > On the downside, the lack of an introduction and a general
      > conclusion is to be lamented. Thus, the reader remains in the dark
      > as to the aim of V.'s study and his insights on a higher level than
      > that of the piecemeal consideration of damnationes of individual
      > emperors. For example, V. fails to put into perspective the general
      > impact of damnatio on Roman society and the extraordinary factors in
      > this particular society that made the ritualization of change rather
      > than continuity possible -- striking in a monarchy, where
      > continuation of rule tends to be emphasized. Of course, this may not
      > have been V.'s intention, which is impossible to judge because an
      > introduction is lacking.
      > The numerous and creative misspellings are rather astonishing,
      > hamper the reading, and set a bad example. Examples are numerous
      > throughout the entire book -- may it suffice to name the four
      > different spellings of Hatchepsut on a single page (p. 13) or the
      > cut-and-paste garbled sentences as in n. 15 pp. 22-23. Fortunately,
      > this shoddy presentation rarely extends to the subject matter
      > itself. There are exceptions, however. For example, in addition to
      > the section on the precedents of damnatio treated above
      > (particularly pp. 12-14), there is negligence in small details like
      > the appearance of Romulus, son of Maxentius, in a section-title
      > although he does not appear in the text (pp. 215-16). In the case of
      > a head of Domitian found in a well (p. 60), V. fails to consider the
      > fact that the portrait ended up in said well several centuries after
      > the actual damnatio4 -- a minor point, but one that changes the
      > overall picture.
      > Apart from the abysmal execution in terms of spelling, punctuation,
      > and cut-and-paste garbled sentences, the book is a useful addition
      > to the art historical investigation of damnatio memoriae and a
      > helpful point of reference.
      > ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      > -----------
      > Notes:
      > 1. For earlier cases cf. for example Shutruk-Nahunte's notorious
      > raid into Mesopotamia in 1158 B.C., during which the Elamite ruler
      > had royal images mutilated and transported to his treasuries in Susa
      > in great number. On many of the looted works of art the inscriptions
      > were erased and replaced with epigraphs of Shutruk-Nahunte. Among
      > the destroyed images were objects that had stood in their places for
      > more than a thousand years. Important examples are the Naram-Sin
      > Stele and the Codex Hammurabi, both now in the Louvre. Cf. e.g. Z.
      > Bahrani, The Graven Image (Philadelphia 2003), a highly relevant
      > work, which Varner seems to be unaware of.
      > 2. Cf. e.g. I.J. Gelb, Earliest Land Tenure Systems in the Near
      > East: Ancient Kudurrus (Chicago 1991). The existence of curse-
      > inscriptions is to be expected; however, the actual stipulations of
      > these can be case-specific, cf. Z. Bahrani, Assault and Abduction:
      > the Fate of the Royal Image in the Ancient Near East, Art History 18
      > (1995), pp. 363-382: pp. 373-375.
      > 3. Notably, e.g., T. Pékary, Das römische Kaiserbildnis in Staat,
      > Kult und Gesellschaft (Berlin 1985). M. Bergmann, G. Daltrop, K.
      > Fittschen, and P. Zanker, for example, have presented a wealth of
      > studies on the subject, all of which are easily accessable in V.'s
      > bibliography.
      > 4. T. Hauschild, Munigua, Vorbericht über die Grabungen in Haus 1
      > und Haus 6, Kampagne 1982, Madrider Mitteilungen 25 (1984), pp. 158-
      > 180: p. 179.
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