New Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews
- While few of us very likely are able to afford these books, they are a good
cross section of what's being published today.
For all Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews, go to: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/
Florence Dupont, The Invention of Literature: From Greek Intoxication to the
"…D. has a clear agenda: she seeks to undermine the aetiological fantasy of
"Western civilization" as "the cradle for the arts and literature" and sets
out to rediscover the otherness of the ancients that would lead to the
rediscovery of ourselves in all our "repressed diversity"(2). She sees
herself as part of the project of demystifying the "Greek miracle" started by
Jean Pierre Vernant and Pierre Vidal-Naquet. She sets out to show that the
mainstream association of oral = primitive and written = civilized cannot be
justified within the frame of reference of the ancients themselves. The
minority popular cultures of today are heirs to the living, oral version of
Greek and Roman culture as much as our literary culture is heir to the
culture of books and libraries that originated in antiquity. Since modern
culture is witnessing a comeback on the part of orality, the recovering of
our oral origins can help us "project ourselves forward to the future by
acknowledging that "the deficiency, if any, is not on the side of orality and
traditional poetry, but rather on that of writing and the poetry of books"
(16), which are deprived of the voices and bodies that gave birth to them… "
Ronald Syme, The Provincial at Rome and Rome and the Balkans 80 BC-AD 14
" …This is a fascinating book, and can be highly recommended; but for whom
and for what? As a work of history it has clearly been overtaken by
subsequent scholarship, including S.'s own. It would not, therefore, be wise
to include it without great qualification on undergraduate or even
postgraduate reading-lists. Rather, it deserves attention as an
historiographical gem, of enormous interest and importance in helping us
understand S.'s development to become one of the greatest modern authorities
on imperial Rome (see K. Christ, Neue Profile der Alten Geschichte, 1990,
B.H. Warmington, Suetonius: Nero. Edited with introduction, commentary and
"… All in all, this edition will be useful to those readers who are looking
exclusively for factual information about Nero's reign and the ways in which
it is described in Suetonius, Tacitus and Cassius Dio. Those, however, who
wish to study the text as a whole and as a literary document in its own
right, will do better to use the richer commentary by Kierdorf…"
Jean Andreau, Banking and Business in the Roman World. Key Themes in Ancient
"… Jean Andreau already has an impressive bibliography of publications
oneconomics and business in the Roman world. In Banking and Business in the
Roman World he provides an extremely helpful survey of a complex field with
both a refreshing clarity and a depth of insight that is belied by the small
package in which it is presented. The focus of the book is on Roman private
finance in the period from the late fourth century BCE to the first half of
the third century CE, with a special interest in the activity of professional
bankers. The book admirably fulfills the goals of the Key Themes series,
which is designed to serve the needs of students and non-specialists…"
Mark Edwards, Martin Goodman & Simon Price, Apologetics in the Roman Empire:
Pagans, Jews and Christians
"… If historiography seemed too far from the traditional form of apologetic
for this volume (notwithstanding the fact that the editors intended to
explode the classification of the genre by form in favour of intention and
strategy), then surely Apologetics in the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews and
Christians should have addressed the relative absence of pagan apologetic.
Did they really go down with so little fight as the scope of this volume
Quinn, Stephanie, ed. Why Vergil? A Collection of Interpretations
"… This is a very good and intellectually stimulating volume of essays
aboutVergil. In it, Stephanie Quinn (Q) means to address two different, if
largely complementary purposes: to provide a collection of essays for
students and teachers of Vergil in schools and colleges, and to present that
audience and a broader academic and general audience with a compelling case
for reading and thinking about Vergil outside the schoolroom. Largely, the
Philip Hardie, Alessandro Barchiesi, Stephen Hinds, edd. Ovidian
Transformations: Essays on the Metamorphoses and its Reception
"… The papers in this volume, to which all Ovidians and many other scholars
of Latin poetry will want to have access, were delivered at the first Craven
Seminar at Cambridge, a conference in July of 1997 entitled "Perspectives on
Andrew Laird, Powers of Expression, Expressions of Power: Speech Presentation
and Latin Literature
"… From Andrew Laird …we have an exciting study of speech presentation
inLatin literature. It is a thorough work, covering the principle genres of
Latin literature as well as the main questions on the subject raised by the
leading literary theorists…"
Georgia L. Irby-Massie, Military Religion in Roman Britain.
"… Roman Britain is the military province par excellence. It has provided a
bodyof information on military architecture and the organization of the Roman
army during the four centuries or so of its presence there that is unmatched
by any other part of the Roman empire. It is therefore natural that we should
turn to the evidence from Britain to understand better the religions
practised by the Roman army. This is the task that Irby-Massie has undertaken
in her comprehensive and useful study. She is not, of course, a pioneer. Much
important work has already been done on religion in Roman Britain, which she
acknowledges, but earlier studies have concentrated on specific topics. Hers
is the first systematic treatment of the subject as a whole…"
Co-host, Ancient/Classical History Forum
You will like the new and spiffy look of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
Here is a recent selection (as usual the prices are rather stiff):
1. Stephen Harrison, Apuleius. A Latin Sophist.
"That the opening of a work often repays close attention is a truth commonly,
if not universally, acknowledged. Priscian in the sixth century devoted a
treatise of more than fifty pages to the opening line of each book of the
Aeneid. The opening paragraph of Apuleius's Metamorphoses has spawned any
number of articles, as well as a 1996 conference, and now a 300 page
"companion."1 So it might be just as well to look closely at the opening
sentence of Stephen Harrison's new book and the capsule evaluation it offers
of its subject: "Apuleius -- display orator and professional intellectual in
second-century North Africa, Platonist philosopher, extraordinary stylist,
relentless self-promoter, and versatile author of a remarkably diverse body
of work, much of which is lost to us." (v) Uncontroversial, perhaps, at first
glance. Or is it? ...
...One shrinks at applying the word "radical" to such a painstaking,
level-headed, and lucidly-argued book. Yet its conclusion is indeed a radical
one. Paradoxically, H. argues, we can better appreciate Apuleius's real
achievement by taking him less seriously (deep down, he's really very
shallow). To be sure, others have expressed similar judgments from time to
time. Many readers of H. will be reminded of Perry's analysis of the
Metamorphoses as a slapdash piece of Unterhaltungsliteratur (though H. has
greater respect for Apuleius's compositional skill) or Rudolf Helm's
characterization of the Apology as a masterpiece of the Second Sophistic.6
But the center of discourse has been elsewhere. From Fulgentius and Beroaldus
to Merkelbach and Winkler, criticism of the Metamorphoses has persistently
yearned for deeper significance in Apuleius (or in Winkler's case, perhaps, a
deeper lack of significance). Not all intending readers will be delighted by
H's portrait of a writer "to whom breadth and rapid composition must have
often been more important than depth and elaborate literary craftsmanship"
(209). But even those who disagree will be stimulated by this book, easily
the best study to date of this curious and perplexing author."
2. Barbara Levick, Government of the Roman Empire. A Sourcebook.
"One of the most useful tools for the ancient historian is the sourcebook, a
collection of primary source passages which serve to capture a particular era
or theme. Levick's The Government of the Roman Empire: a sourcebook attempted
to illustrate the administration of the first two centuries of Roman imperial
government as well as the problems it faced which led to the crisis of the
third century. The effort was successful enough that a second edition has
been been produced fifteen years later...
...Levick's Government of the Roman Empire is more of a narrative with
passages interspersed to illustrate each point or issue.1 Because the
author's touch is so deft and the passages are allowed to demonstrate the
relevant issues, this narrative never seems invasive or unnecessary. In fact,
the effect is quite smooth and natural. Included in these narrative portions
are explanations the author felt necessary to clarify any references in the
preceding passage with which the reader may be unfamiliar...
...On the whole it is quite user-friendly and well laid out, so that it is
easy to focus in on any one area (geographical or topical) of Roman
government. It provides students and non-specialists with an excellent
discussion of the topic and specialists with an important addition to their
3. Sarah Scott, Art and Society in Fourth-Century Britain: Villa Mosaics in
"Romano-British mosaics have never quite featured at the top of anyone's
wish-list of favourite objects in Roman art; and indeed Roman art in general
figures lower than Greek. But for a topic where interesting objects can be
placed in their archaeological and hence social and historical context better
than most, these mosaics score rather high. Relatively good excavation, a
long history of serious academic and antiquarian interest in Roman Britain
and the application of modern archaeological methods and theories makes the
Scott's theme a meaty one, generally well executed and handled...
...this is a strong, competent and eminently useful monograph."
Co-host, Ancient/Classical History Forum