Edited by Ida Östenberg, Simon Malmberg and Jonas Bjørnebye

Bloomsbury Academic (2015) h/b 361pp £80 (ISBN 9781472528001)

In 260 BC the successful general Gaius Duilius was granted torch bearers and flute players to accompany him home every night, to celebrate his military achievements in a perpetual nocturnal celebration. Gaius Duilius therefore became a man you could not easily pass in the street. From the unmissable Duilius to the Christian virgins of late antiquity, this eclectic collection of papers investigates the sights and sounds of Rome, looking at the ways in which movement through a city full of symbolism and tradition could be used to convey messages about status, morality and power, with several variations on the theme, including group movement, ritual movement and violent movement.

Articles are grouped into four sections, ‘Elite Movement’, ‘Literary Movement’, ‘Processional Movement’ and ‘Movement and Urban Form’, with an extensive bibliography, a rather cursory index and wide chronological spread, from Republican Rome to Christian Rome, without any consistency of approach. The contributors come from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, ranging from well-known names in the field of Roman movement and gesture (Anthony Corbeill, Timothy M. O’Sullivan) and Roman attitudes to the built environment (Diana Spencer) to archaeologists, authorities in the study of religions and a ‘historian of mentalities’ (Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo). Also included are contributions from PhD students involved in the workshops, which were hosted by the Swedish and Norwegian Institutes in Rome.

Monica Hellström looks at types of movement, through the characterisation of the ‘supervillain’ in the Severan histories, claiming that ‘speed, or indeed moving much at all, is without exception bad: if an elite individual is moving fast through the city of Rome, he (always a male) is up to no good’ (p.48). Hellström makes some intriguing links between the characterisation of dangerously energetic villains and the controlled power which formed the Republican ideal, although her discussion of precedents is rather thin on Tacitus’ narrative techniques.

Other essays look in detail at the movement of individuals and their implications. Livia, wife of Augustus, is the subject of an essay by Lovisa Brännstedt; in being granted the unprecedented right to travel through Rome in a two-wheeled carpentum like the Vestal Virgins, Livia may well have presented a striking and controversial spectacle. Michael Mulryan looks at the churches of the martyr-deacon St. Lawrence which were positioned throughout Rome, marking significant events in the martyr’s story on a kind of religious tourist trail.

Arguably the most successful essays in this volume deal with the ‘written Rome’, focusing on specific texts rather than the uncertainties of poorly recorded group movements. Timothy M. O’Sullivan investigates what Augustan ‘urban tour’ poems suggest about the restriction of movement through Rome in the early decades of the empire, while Anthony Corbeill looks at the practice of self-help and public justice in the Roman streets, through Horace and the ‘pest’ of Satire 1.9.

This is a volume aimed at the academic market, and in its fashionable focus on society’s experience of space it is a product of its time. It is an enjoyable read, successfully presenting a picture ‘of a bustling, lively society, where cityscape and movements are closely interactive and entwined’.

Cora Beth Knowles


Ed. by Mark Walker

Pineapple Publications (2015) p/b 195pp £4.99 (ISBN 978095474343)

In 1850 the editors of Sabrinae Corolla gloomily observed, of verse composition, that these were studia quae veremur ne in dies obsolescant. They were premature, and 50 or more years later no less a scholar than Wilamowitz commended the English for keeping up a practice which was dying out in Germany. And he could have pointed to distinguished practitioners: Benjamin Hall Kennedy, H.A.J. Munro, Sir Richard Jebb, Gilbert Murray, and many others of high scholarly achievement. Even up to the 1960s a group of Oxford classical scholars (including Bowra, Denniston and Platnauer) were able to publish Some (and then More) Oxford Compositions, which included prose and verse, in both languages, of very high quality.

The up-to-date book under notice here, edited by W., confines itself to Latin verse, mainly in hexameters and elegiacs; but many other metres (especially hendecasyllables) also make appearances, some of them not remotely classical, and in one case incorporating ten different metres; translations or English originals are provided. It is clear that many of the thirty-seven authors are inexperienced composers, and the reviewer merely observes, without particularising, that he encountered examples of false quantities, inaccurate prosody (even including a seven-foot hexameter!), incorrect grammar, unhappy word order, voces nihili, and metrical practices which showed a fine disregard of classical usage—which makes one wonder how firm and searching was the editorial hand. (Of course, it may be retorted that ‘classical usage’ is not necessary: just so, but without it composition becomes almost too easy, and the results might strike oddly on the eyes of an ‘ancient’ Roman.) But enthusiasm there is in plenty, and Jonathan Meyer’s offerings, were it not for excessive use of elision (including of cretics) could be warmly commended; David Money, too, was among others who presented enjoyable work.

Readers will make up their own minds about the various ‘technopaegnia’ such as alliterative hexameters, haikus, ‘Alcmanian strophe’, rhythmic iambic or trochaic, free verse, goliardics, quincouplets, and the aforementioned polymetric (as well as sotadeans, and, bravely, galliambics) which are presented.

Although the editor offers a short bibliography, some important, and highly relevant, items are missing: C.G.Gepp’s Latin Elegiac Verse (1912), M. Platnauer’s Latin Elegiac Verse (1952), Ainger and Wintle’s English-Latin Gradus (1905), S.E. Winbolt’s Latin Hexameter Verse (reprint, 2011) and C.D. Yonge’s (Latin-English) Gradus ad Parnassum (6th edition,1858). (W. lists ‘Carey’s Gradus ad Parnassum’, but is incorrect in saying that there is no other.) Anyone seriously intending to take up the highly demanding, but also highly rewarding, practice of Latin verse composition should arm him(her)self with these, though one or two of them may prove elusive; and there is much to be learnt from the many available second-hand copies of compositions by such experts (in addition to those mentioned above) as Archer-Hind and Shilleto, or in compilations such as Some Cambridge Compositions.

It is W.’s hope ‘that the flame which once seemed all but extinguished is burning just a little brighter now’: the reviewer naturally concurs, while hoping that an editio altera correctior will follow.

Colin Leach


Ed. by Henry Stead & Edith Hall

Bloomsbury (2015) h/b 368pp £80 (ISBN 9781472584267)

This is the first substantial published product of the pioneering Arts and Humanities Research Council ‘Classics and Class in Britain 1789-1939’ project, to which Dr Stead, the author of A Cockney Catullus (OUP, 2015), is attached as a postdoctoral student. Prof. Edith Hall needs no authorial—or indeed edithorial—introduction. She inspired and oversaw the 2010 Conference held at the surely classy British Academy on which this published collection is based, and contributes no fewer than three out of its fifteen essays (more than a fifth of the book’s total pages), as well as co-authoring the sparky introduction.

Besides her, there are six other women contributors, and six men including such eminences within the broad field of classical reception as Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray. The collection is full of unexpected gems, e.g. R.H. Tawney teaching a WEA (Workers Educational Association) class in Rochdale in 1908 (that from an essay on the WEA by Barbara Goff), or the fact that Mary Agnes Hamilton, elected MP for Blackheath in 1929, was classically educated (from an essay by Hall on classically educated women within the ILP—not the ‘Labour Party’ as the running heads have it).

It is invidious to pick out particular essays, perhaps, but I was especially struck by Paula James’ recasting of Heracles/Hercules as ‘a symbol of Labour: a Nineteenth-century Class-conflicted hero’ (‘The Philanthropic Hercules Association was part of a campaign to ensure that the skilled wage-earner, a decent and valuable member of society, gained a fair price for his labour’—who would have guessed?), and by Justine McConnell’s play with the classical engagement of another James, the Trinidadian C.L.R., author of Black Jacobins—hence her essay’s challenging title ‘Staging the Haitian Revolution in London. Britain, the West Indies and C.L.R. James’s Toussaint Louverture’.

On the other hand, I missed a proper discussion—as opposed to a mere mention—of E.S. Beesly, a member of the First International as well as Professor of Latin at Bedford College, London, a women-only college graced also by Mary Ann Evans a.k.a. George Eliot. And another Evans, George Ewart, does not, I believe, get a mention at all; at least he is not indexed (but then neither is Beesly—see p. 201). Born into a South Wales mining family, Evans, after taking a degree in Classics from Cardiff University, taught at Sawston Village College before graduating to distinction as an oral historian of rural East Anglia and author prominently of Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay.

This is as mentioned a pioneering project, and one full of potential for expansion and elaboration in terms both of subjects and of individuals.

Paul Cartledge—Clare College, Cambridge

AUGUSTUS: The Biography

By Jochen Bleicken (tr. Anthea Bell)

Allen Lane (2015) h/b 771pp £30.00 (ISBN 9780713994773)

In this work de longue haleine, first published in Germany in 1998, and now admirably (one confidently hazards) translated by Anthea Bell, B. gives a very detailed account of how the 18 year-old Gaius Octavius, with little to back him in terms of birth, wealth, appearance, or military accomplishment, and indeed of distinctly poor health and dubious physical courage, yet rose to become, as Augustus, the first Roman emperor and one whose auctoritas enabled him to rule as princeps for over forty years, while establishing the Roman empire—in doing so he travelled widely and often—in a form that successfully endured for centuries. His one great advantage was that he had been named as son and heir in the will of the assassinated Julius Caesar; and besides steely ambition and will-power, he also enjoyed considerable good fortune in the very difficult years of civil war before Actium, and, nearly a year later, the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra in 30 BC.

It is a little surprising that B.’s book opens without an Introduction or Foreword of any kind (was there one in the German edition?); and the text mercifully dispenses with those too frequent references to other scholars (eg ‘Syme [1939]’) to which we have become accustomed: Mommsen alone is referred to, and that not very often. Of course the Notes—nearly 100 pages—give the documentary evidence and the necessary references to modern scholarship; the bibliography is full, but notably less bloated than some we have seen (but cites only the first edition of CAH, volume X), and since the text is not lavish with dates, the Chronology given on pp.717-723 is helpful.

To resume: the text takes us through the long life (he died aged 76) and achievements of Augustus in as much detail as anyone but a professional historian of the period could possibly want: that life is far too well-known for there to be any need to recapitulate it here, but it is perhaps worth noting that (the then still) Octavian showed no inclination to match the famous clementia of Julius Caesar in the proscriptions of 43 BC made by the triumvirs: the many victims included his former tutor Toranius and, most notably, Cicero, the only consular to be killed, who had once described Augustus as adulescentulum laudandum, ornandum, tollendum (i.e. discarded): the words (not cited in B.) were reported to its subject. Later, during the Principate, what is remarkable is not that difficulties arose from time to time (Cornelius Gallus in Egypt, Marcus Primus in Macedonia), but that such episodes were so rare.

Given this background, the reader will want to ascertain B.’s views on the nature of Augustus’s principate. Many Anglophone readers are likely to have in their minds Syme’s rightly famous The Roman Revolution of 1939, in which the author, influenced not only by Tacitus but by the rise of fascism in Germany and (especially) Italy, described Rome’s constitution as a ‘screen and a sham’ (Syme’s exact words), and Rome as being run by Augustus’s ‘bully-boys’ (the word is Peter Green’s in Classical Bearings (1989) with reference to Syme via Mussolini). In B.’s Explanatory Notes Syme gets short shrift (pp.629-30): ‘for all the recognition of his purely literary [reviewer’s italics] achievement, Syme has had a number of critics’, many of whom are then listed with references. Since B. himself refers with reverence to Mommsen, except, indeed, where he takes issue with Mommsen’s contemptuous view of Cicero, we can see here the deep difference between the prosopographer and the constitutional historian.

On the nature of the principate—and, as B. frequently reminds us, even when he formally held no magistracy, Augustus’s word, thanks to his auctoritas, was law—the chapter headed ‘The Principate as Idea and Reality’ [what a very German title! cf. Schopenhauer’s Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung] is essential reading. B. says: ‘The nub of the matter was his command of the army… The “constitution” might seem an illusion, and Augustus nothing but a hypocrite hiding his lust for power behind a glittering façade’. Not hard to guess whom B. has in mind here, but he continues: ‘Such an evaluation of the principate is wide of the mark … A form of government had to be sought that bound the ruler’s power to Roman society … That could derive only from the tradition that had made Rome all it represented … Augustus knew that his power had to be based formally in the law’. Yet on reading those words, one may reasonably ask, ‘How far on from Syme does this take us?’ The answer, for B., is to be found in Mommsen, who ‘interpreted the principate as a constitution [?institution] that, despite its monarchical structure, stood within the framework of the constitutional order of the “republic”’. He (Mommsen) ‘consequently counted the princeps as one of the magistrates of the republic’, thus restoring to the principate its ‘significance as a constitutional order, which was the way Augustus wished it to be seen’. Result!

If Syme was influenced by the rise of fascism, it may be no less relevant that B. was born in 1926, and thus was about 19 when the Third Reich met its end in 1945: B. early on refers to the ‘distaste felt through … the Graeco-Roman world for autocratic rule founded on no legal or moral order … History offered plenty of examples of this unpleasant form of government’, i.e. tyranny (with accompanying justification for tyrannicide). In this light, the antithetical positions of both Syme and Bleicken may be seen with sympathy and understanding. Here one may refer with warm commendation to B.’s chapter entitled (in part) ‘Self-presentation of the Monarchy’ (with its excellent account of the Forum of Augustus): for when in that chapter B. severely but justly censures the inaccurate and self-boosting account given by Augustus in the Res gestae of his achievements in the years 44-43 BC, he could be forgiven if he were to be recalling other rewritings of history in his own lifetime.

At least five biographies of Augustus are readily available, of which B.’s is certainly the fullest, if not the easiest to read (for this reviewer, it seemed rather to resemble an extended version of the account by J.A. Crook, admirable in itself, which is to be found in the second edition of CAH, volume X, ‘The Augustan Empire’). And although Livy, Virgil and Horace are given appropriately full treatment, and there are other anecdotes, such as the notorious one concerning Vedius Pollio and the slave, while Livia’s important role is assuredly not forgotten, this is not the book to buy for those seeking ‘Augustus the man’; if, indeed, such a book could ever be convincingly written. As for Bleicken-Mommsen versus Syme, readers may conclude that adhuc sub judice lis est.

The quality of production is high (a single typo in a Latin word, and an index reference to ‘pulchrus libertas 468’—not only bad Latin but factually incorrect—are all that came to the reviewer’s eye): maps and illustrations are few but helpful. Again, this is not a book for that elusive creature, the ‘general reader’, but rather for one with a real interest in what is an ever-fascinating subject, Augustus, one of the most remarkable men who has ever lived. When B. says that he ‘was not and is not considered as exceptional’, the sense in which we must take those words is a very specialised one indeed.

Colin Leach


By Harry Mount

Bloomsbury (2015) h/b 264pp £18.99 (ISBN 9781472904678)

Despite the pretentious title, this book is both modest and entertaining, if a little self—indulgent. Mount is a journalist, writer (Amo, Amas, Amat and All That) and classical scholar in the British tradition—Westminster and Oxford—and the book records the author’s journey round sites of ancient Greece loosely following the trail of Odysseus. Its inspiration, Mount asserts, is his rejection in love and the need for cathartic refuge in travel—almost mythically he parted from his girl friend in Naxos. It is light-hearted but not lightweight, including erudite references and creating a coherent structure on to which he can tag his own comments and experiences. He has the happy knack of relating ancient sites and practices to modern life. But throughout it all his respect and love of Homer shines through.

The book is not completely faithful to Odysseus’s post Troy trek—which does not matter as the best bits are probably his visits to Sparta and Athens where he is able to meet current political figures (contrastingly un-Periclean) and comment on Greece’s modern predicament. Indeed at times he treats the Odyssey more as a marketable entity than as an inspiration and seems almost utilitarian when he writes ‘the Odyssey brand was beginning its extremely slow journey towards domination of world literature.’

Amid the solipsistic narrative there are some real gems. His explanations of the development of Greek sculpture and architecture as well as his analysis of the Greek dialects and the eventual ascendancy of Attic (although Homer’s language was Ionic) are clear and authoritative. The origin of asterisks and punctuation itself is a particularly fine passage. But the book never becomes didactic—except perhaps for the continual insistence on analysing almost every Greek word with its modern derivation—and it is full of bon mots: the Gods of Olympus are described as a ‘celestial soap opera’.

As seems customary for all contemporary books about the classical world, there is an abundance of commentary on ancient Greeks’ liberal attitude to sex. Perhaps this is a reaction to the prudish editing and absurd euphemisms that dampened the pages of schoolboy texts in previous generations; or perhaps simply to spice up the story. This is fun, but over-egged.

Mount’s bond with Odysseus is a touch contrived, loosely comparing his emotional down-draft ‘post jilt’ with the traumatic stress of Troy’s ten year battlefield. He reveals little that is new, so the professional reader will not benefit intellectually. But it is an excellent book for the general reader—and it is a lot more than just a scholarly scamper round the Med.

Primrose Campbell


Ed. by Judith Evans Grubbs and Tim Parkin with Roslynne Bell

OUP (2013) h/b 690pp £100 (ISBN 9780199781546)

This large, heavy volume is dedicated to the memory of the renowned scholar of Roman family studies, Beryl Rawson, who sadly died while it was being compiled. It is not really a ‘handbook’: one cannot look up certain topics and necessarily find information on them, such as children’s clothing, children in Roman religion, the registration of births, child abuse or child labour. Rather, it is a collection of specially written essays, all in English, on different aspects of the subject by scholars in the field, mainly from the USA and other English-speaking countries, with a few from northern Europe. As Grubbs and Parkin say in the Introduction, the aim is ‘to build on existing scholarship and to point to ways forward.’

The volume comprises thirty essays as well as an introduction and an envoi, gathered under six headings: Gestation, Birth, Disease and Death, Children and Childhood in Ancient Greece, Children and Childhood in Ancient Rome, Education and Educational Philosophy in the Classical World, Children in the Eastern Mediterranean and Late Antiquity and Early Christianity, with a bibliography following each essay. The geographical and chronological spread is enormous. The ancient evidence used by the authors is visual as well as written, and the photographs, drawings and plans are sufficiently clear, except for a few illustrations of memorials with inscriptions, which are not very legible. Full reference details given in the text rather than as footnotes can sometimes be rather obtrusive. The styles of writing and the language are generally accessible, with the exception perhaps of Sivan on children in the synagogue. Although perhaps less splendid than the price suggests, in general this is a handsome book.

While some essays give an overview of a topic, such as Oakley on children in Greek art and Loven on children in Roman art, others are very specific, such as ‘Babies in the Well: Archeological Evidence for Newborn Disposal in Hellenistic Greece’ by Liston and Rotroff, or rather technical, like Casey on the Athenian ephebeia or McGinn on Roman children and the law. Others are straightforwardly informative and factual, like Leyerle’s ‘Children and “the Child” in Early Christianity’, or offer an unexpected aspect, like Laes on raising a disabled child. Grubbs on infant exposure is, for example, not afraid to explore the nasty side of life.

Altogether, the volume may be quite a difficult read for those who do not know very much about this area of social history, but it certainly clarifies what is known and what cannot be known of childhood in its various aspects. The evidence is of course patchy, given the huge time-span from 800 BC to AD 500 and the cultural diversity of the Mediterranean, and indicates both change and continuity. Bradley says in the Envoi that the main problem is ‘how to recover the lived experience of children in antiquity from evidence that comes predominantly from a limited number and type of adults’. The problem is to a great extent solved here in the most interesting way: the volume succeeds in making children visible and in giving a fascinating picture of ancient childhood, offering indeed an embarras de richesses. It repays reading and rereading.

Inga Mantle


Translated and with Introduction and Historical Commentary

By D. Wardle

OUP (2014) p/b 603pp £100 (ISBN 9780199686469)

 If you want all the lies and smears about the early Roman emperors, and a lot more mildly random information, Suetonius is your man. I, Claudius was based on Robert Graves’s novel, and he translated Suetonius for Penguin. But Suetonius was no fool. A serious historian, he worked in the imperial civil service under the emperor Trajan as director of archives AD 114-5 and director of the imperial library 116-7, and finally (under Hadrian) chief secretary i/c correspondence 118-122 (he was dismissed for an offence related to Hadrian’s wife). So the whole of the imperial archives was open to him, together with the works of large numbers of Roman historians otherwise unknown to us, as Suetonius reveals by quoting them. His major work, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, was published, presumably in different chunks, in the course of Hadrian’s reign between AD 117-138; his Life of Augustus, who died in AD 14, appeared, W. suggests, between AD 119 and 122.

Unlike Plutarch’s slightly earlier chronological Lives, Suetonius’ was thematic. W. divides up Suetonius’ Life of Augustus as follows: ancestry, early life; public life (military, civilian, administrative, behaviour towards citizens and feelings towards him); personal life (family, disgraceful behaviour, restraint, physical aspects, intellectual aspects, personal beliefs); signs of greatness; death and posthumous divinity. W. argues that the result is a carefully constructed, well-rounded picture of a man who underwent various transformations throughout his imperial career, leaving an ‘overwhelmingly positive’ picture of the emperor, for all his faults.

The translation of Suetonius’ Latin text occupies 37 pages. It stays close to the Latin. The commentary takes up 486 pages. It is a superb achievement: a masterpiece of clarity and detail, shirking no problem and casting light on Augustus and the Roman world on page after page. Three examples will give a flavour (the translation is quoted in bold).

The first comments on Augustus’ legislation to encourage marriage and the production of children among the upper classes by giving them privileges:

‘When he realized that the force of the law was being evaded by betrothal with immature girls…, he shortened the period allowed for betrothals.’ Cf. Dio 54.16.7: ‘so, because certain men were betrothing themselves to infant girls and enjoying the privileges of married men, but without performing the duties ex­pected of them, he ordered that no betrothal should be valid if the man did not marry within two years, that is, the girl must in every case be at least ten years old at her betrothal if the man was to profit from it, since, as I have said, girls are held to have reached the marriageable age on the completion of twelve full years’ … If the testimony of post-classical jurists is relevant, the absolute minimum age for betrothals was seven (Dig. 23.1.14). Aug.’s own example of betrothing Julia to M. Antonius Antyllus when she was only two and Vipsania’s betrothal to Tiberius when she was one (Treggiari 1991: 153-4) reveal the traditional practice of the Roman elite in securing advantageous unions, but the legislation was aimed primarily at those men who wanted to avoid marriage by contracting betrothals with very young girls or extending betrothals beyond the age when it was normal for girls to marry.

Here, Suetonius is commenting on his fascination with language:

‘vapide se habere (to be flat) for male se habere (to be ill).’ Aug. substitutes a colourful adverb taken from ‘stale wine that has gone sour’ (vappa) for the bland ‘ill’ or ‘poorly’, presumably to describe listlessness (Billerbeck 1990: 195).

‘betizare (be limp like a beet) for languere (be weak), the vulgar term for which is lachanizare (to be limp like a vegetable).’ Aug. makes a humorous coinage of a hybrid word in which a Greek root (lakhanon ‘vegetable’) is replaced by a similar Latin root (beta ‘beet’) … It is likely that the popular term lachanizare (‘to be put out to pasture’) pre-existed Aug.’s coinage, which plausibly has a sexual connotation (used of ‘a limp dick’: Cat. 67.21) …

 And here, Suetonius discusses Augustus’ dinner-parties:

‘He gave dinner parties frequently, but they were always formal and showed great regard for social status and the individuals concerned.’ Suet.’s words reveal a sociable Aug., one who fulfilled the social obligation of entertainment, but who preferred the traditional kind of dinner and paid great respect to the compatibility and social status of his guests. The giving of dinner parties was one aspect of an emperor’s generosity (liberalitas) and illuminating as to his treatment of friends and clients, as it was part of the relationship of exchange for which the shorthand of ‘patronage’ is often used. The dinner party was a gathering at which ‘status distinctions, and power relations are established, con­firmed or challenged’ (Roller 2001: 135); indeed Suet.’s formulation here makes explicit that the social status (ordo) of the guests was important. Aug.’s preference for the formal dinner (cena recta), at which up to nine guests were arranged on three couches in a small triclinium (cf. Dunbabin 1991: 122-8) indicates a context in which the place occupied by each guest revealed his position in the hierarchy with respect to the host. Nonetheless, the context encouraged and expected some expression of equality from the guests (D’Arms 1990: 311-17). See Vossing 2004, esp. 290-1.

This fat book comes at a fat price: but in terms of content, it absolutely invaluable for anyone interested in a major source for the life of the first Roman emperor, and at 16.5p a page, when you consider the vast amount of thoughtful research that has gone into every page, a bargain.

Peter Jones