By Jonathan Zarecki

Bloomsbury (2014) p/b 191pp £18.99 (9781780934709)

Cicero wrote De Re Publica in 52-51 BC. A central character is the rector et gubernator rei publicae, who represents the ideal statesman. Unfortunately only a quarter of the text survives, although scholars have reconstructed the gist of the missing sections. In the present work Zarecki, a classics professor at North Carolina University, seeks to analyse Cicero’s ideal statesman.

This book is divided into five parts. Chapter 1 sets the scene. It outlines the philosophical education which Cicero received in his youth. This included a healthy dose of scepticism, as he trained with the two great sceptics of the day, Philo and Antiochus. Cicero received a thorough grounding in Greek philosophy, in particular the works of Plato whom he revered. The De Re Publica owes much to Plato’s Republic. But also, as Zarecki demonstrates, Cicero adapts the theorising of the Greeks to the harsh realities of the Roman state. Cicero seeks to break down the barriers between academic philosophy and practical politics. Cicero’s experience as a politician shaped his philosophy; his philosophy, in turn, guided his political decision-making. Zarecki argues that, for all Cicero’s changes of direction, there is an underlying unity referable to his grounding in philosophy.

Chapter 2 deals with the great events between 63 and 51 BC: Cicero’s consulship in 63, Pompey’s return from the East in 62, the formation of the first triumvirate, Caesar’s consulship in 59, Cicero’s exile between 58 and 57, the composition of De Oratore in 56-55, Pompey’s sole consulship in 52, and Cicero’s departure as governor of Cilicia in 51. The chapter is not a narrative history, but rather an account of how the tumultuous events of that period shaped Cicero’s thinking and led him to compose De Re Publica. The corpus of Cicero’s letters, speeches and writings, particularly De Oratore, are a valuable resource for the author. Cicero witnessed the disintegration of the concordia ordinum, which was vital to the health of the Roman republic. He also saw the benefits of firm government under Pompey. These experiences persuaded Cicero that a mixed constitution was the most stable form of government.

Chapter 3 focuses on the rector-ideal as it is presented in De Re Publica. The rector has three great qualities: sapientia, prudentia and auctoritas. Zarecki discusses each of these Ciceronian virtues in some detail. The primary function of the rector is to preserve the republic, sometimes through crisis mediation. It is not clear whether Cicero envisaged that there would normally be just one rector or more than one. He certainly appreciated that on occasions the preservation of the republic required a single strong man to take charge. For this reason he strongly admired the sole consulship on Pompey in 52, describing it as ille divinus tertius consulatus. At the same time Cicero vehemently opposed tyranny. Indeed he portrayed the rector as the antithesis of a tyrant. When the civil war approached, Cicero was torn. Neither protagonist matched up to his concept of the rector. His relationship with both protagonists became ambivalent.

The last two chapters deal with the period after the publication of De Re Publica. They trace Cicero’s life during the civil war; his exile in Brundisium; his return to Rome; his mounting opposition to Caesar; his bitter struggle against Mark Antony; the Philippics and his death. During these years Cicero developed his concept of rector and he tried to live up to that ideal.

Overall this book is a fascinating study of the intellectual journey made by someone who was a top barrister, a leading philosopher and a senior politician in the last years of the Roman republic. The reader is assumed to have a general knowledge of Roman history and a smattering of Greek philosophy. The book will appeal to anyone who has an interest in political theory.

Rupert Jackson



Ed. by Christina A. Clark, Edith Foster, and Judith P. Hallett

Michigan (2015) h/b 323pp £75.50 (ISBN 9780472119592)

This volume is a Festschrift of papers written in honour of the ‘inspiring scholarship and generous friendship’ of Donald Lateiner, author of The Sardonic Smile, who taught and researched a wide range of Classical subjects during, and since, his thirty-four year career at Ohio Wesleyan University. It begins with a biography of L. by Judith Hallett and ends with a bibliography of his published works to date. The body of the book falls into two halves, arranged according to the main thrusts of L.’s versatile output: Ancient Greek historiography, emotion and nonverbal behaviour.

The first half includes essays on Thucydides’ use of the word kinêsis; the physical world as a ‘sender of signs’ through natural events and disasters; Thucydides’ use of the historical present tense in Book 8; the emotional bases on which political actors like Croesus or the Athenians take important decisions; a comparison between the silent characters of Herodotos and Sophocles; herald murder in Herodotus and Thucydides; Gorgianic figures in Thucydides’ speeches of Hermocrates; and Polybius’ castigation of the historians Phylarchus and Timaeus as ‘ignoble and womanish’.

The second half explores non-verbal behaviour such as blushes, pallor and tears in ancient literary texts and includes essays on Lucan’s treatment of Pompey’s death; the confrontation between Phaedra and Hippolytus in Seneca’s Phaedra; the representation of animal emotion in Aelian and Pliny the Elder; the comic but sympathetic depiction of the life of hetairai in Lucian’s Dialogues of the Courtesans; the key concepts of love and resistance, art and movement, and the theme of duality and doubling in Ovid’s Apollo and Daphne episode in Metamorphoses 1; the meaning behind the repetitive verbal behaviour recorded by Homeric poets; the similarities in the presentation of shipwreck stories in Homer’s Odyssey and J. M. Coetzee’s Fox; the network of relationships between Aristophanes’ Clouds and Plato’s Symposium; depictions of Hephaestus in black figure vase scenes of the Birth of Athena; and the creative adjustments made to significant objects like papyrus, pepper and cheese in the Alexander Romance throughout the 4th-17th centuries.

The volume is very diverse, in authorship, subject matter and time span. Because of its highly specialist nature, it is aimed chiefly at scholars of Greek and Roman society and literature, as well as of classical reception, although all passages have been translated so that it is accessible to advanced undergraduates. It would be a more suitable purchase for a university rather than a school library.

Claire Gruzelier—King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham


By Federico Santangelo

Pub (2016) Bloomsbury p/b 124pp £16.99 (ISBN 978474214711)

Why and how throughout history have states with apparently secure constitutional safeguards acquiesced in the circumventing of these safeguards by strong personalities? How big a part is played by external military threats, real or contrived, by internal unrest, weak or corrupt government or personal ambition and charisma? Such questions come to mind when reading this study of the life and times of Marius in the Bloomsbury Ancients in Action series. I say ‘life and times’ because right from the start the author eschews what he calls oversimplified ‘Great Man’ history.

The author, a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at Newcastle University, tells us that his book ‘sets out to be used primarily (though by no means exclusively) in the classroom.’ Accordingly he warns time and again of the speculative nature of much of what is constructed as the foreground and background of Marius’ career. Words such as ‘probably’, ‘likely’, ‘arguably’ abound. The author is prepared to speculate himself, but always tells us when he is doing so.

He reminds us that the ancient sources writing many years after the events, but with access to contemporary, but now lost works, had their own agendas whether literary symmetry (Plutarch) or political ideology (Sallust), and he picks his ways carefully through the evidence with regular caveats, such as ‘it would be unwise to draw any conclusions on Marius’ character and personal beliefs’ from the written material; and points out that even the tradition of Marius’ very humble, rural background must be treated with caution. Likewise he leaves open many questions about the complicated and sometimes contradictory politicking and intrigue in which Marius is said to have been involved.

But he has a story to tell and treats us to exciting narratives of military campaigns and dedicates several pages to Marius’ escape from Rome in 88 BC, commenting that for all the inconsistences between the ancient writers it is a good adventure story and should be enjoyed as such.

The ancient sources are cited at the end of the book for those who wish to follow them up. There is a helpful guide to further reading and a serviceable index.

The thoughtful student will benefit from this well–argued example of how to handle ancient sources and perhaps be helped to think though the questions with which I started this review.

Ray Morris


Ed. by Richard Hunter

CUP (2015) p/b 359pp £22.99 (ISBN 9781107636750)

It is more than pleasant to welcome this detailed commentary by a distinguished scholar on Argonautica IV, which follows on from H.’s earlier commentary on Book III (1989), itself a book which any user of this later volume should ideally have to hand, since references to it are inevitably frequent. H.’s Introduction is relatively concise at 27 pages: for example, there is nothing on ‘Reception’ (laus Deo), it does not discuss earlier commentaries, and the brief section on the MSS does little more than warn us that the text remains doubtful in many places, with papyri and scholia attesting ‘to many ancient variants’, while new papyri finds ‘regularly warn against overconfidence’.

H.’s text relies on the Bude edition of Vian (1974-81). In keeping with this, the apparatus criticus is commendably selective, and doubters are directed to Vian for further information. H. had earlier referred to the ‘preliminary edition’ (proekdosis) of the poem, referred to in the scholia, which, at the least, says H., warns us that a ‘date of publication’ cannot be sought in the same way as is possible with a modern literary work, even if it does not imply the existence of Mooney’s (vide infra) ‘double recension’. To anticipate, one notes that in the bibliography (pp. 321-33) it might have been helpful to give details of W.H. Race’s Loeb Library edition (2008, replacing R.C. Seaton, 1912) and G.W. Mooney’s complete edition of 1912, to which of course H. refers when appropriate.

That said, the Introduction includes an account of the contents of the Fourth Book, followed by a detailed description of the Argonauts’ return itinerary (accompanied by a two-page map which is clarity itself: o si sic omnes!), together with the sources used, including Herodotus, Timaeus and Timagetos (4th century BC), which Apollonius (3rd century BC) had at his disposal. This in turn is followed by a section entitled ‘Odyssey and Argonautica’: by moving the Argonauts from the Adriatic to the Western Mediterranean, it was possible for them to visit sites that Odysseus was to visit after them, but where of course he had already been (this ‘Prequel’ concept is not original to H: it is meat and drink to ‘Receptionists’): for this subject, Apollonius looked to Pherecydes, Herodorus of Heraclea and (again) Timaeus. But the debt to the Odyssey is not limited to a tour of the sites: ‘at every level of motif and language, Arg. is saturated with the Homeric heritage’.

While this may not be thought to be especially novel, the next chapter—‘Apollonius and Callimachus’—is more thought-provoking, as H., assisted now by Harder’s outstanding commentary on Aitia (2012), discusses the intertextual relationship with Callimachus. H. tentatively suggests an alluring, if unprovable, picture of a kind of continuous poetic dialogue between the two, working in close proximity, and even revising their work in response to the poetry of the other. Further (dense textual) argumentation suggests that, if borrowing existed, it was more likely to be Apollonius who was the borrower. It will be seen that this effectively disposes of a ‘quarrel’ between Apollonius and Callimachus, a concept to which Mooney was devoted to a well-nigh absurd extent. Finally, H. briefly considers the Apollonian hexameter, basically repeating himself from 1989: he rightly refers in a footnote both to West (1982) and to the (long, detailed, and wholly admirable) account of Apollonian metre given in an appendix by Mooney in his edition, to which the student would do well to have access (as s/he would for the other equally detailed appendix on the alleged ‘double recension’).

This is the first Anglophone commentary to appear for over a century since Mooney’s (which, as noted, was of the entire poem), and (need one say?) is of the distinguished quality which one might expect to see from a Regius Professor. In a brief review, it is impracticable to do more than to give three (purely textual) examples. First, at line 59 there is a notorious crux where, according to the MS tradition, a main verb is lacking. Mooney adopts a most unlikely conjecture, without comment; H. lists the various suggestions, shows their implausibility, points out the importance of the only word—given in the MSS—which is open to alteration, and accepts that a line may simply have dropped out. Secondly, after line 348, the MSS offer a line which is irrelevant ad loc.; H. points out that it has been repeated from Book 2.1186, where it is in place, and adds that a papyrus fragment, which could have settled the matter, is annoyingly unhelpful: Mooney’s text and notes ignore the problem. Finally, at line 786, ‘the most difficult and intriguing textual problem in the whole poem’, where the text as reported says what is not the case (i.e. that Hera ‘saved’ the Argonauts at a particular dangerous location), H. sets out the difficulties (ignored) and the solutions proposed by other scholars, explains the unexpected presence of Thetis (again ignored by Race and Mooney), and persuasively suggests that there is a one-line lacuna.

With Harder’s Aitia, Hornblower’s Lycophron (2015), and now Hunter’s Argonautica IV, Anglophone scholars of Alexandrian literature have been superbly served at the highest level of scholarship in the past three years (and let us not forget Hollis’s Hecale [1990]). Perhaps it is asking too much to hope for an updated version of Gow’s Theocritus, itself now over 60 years old?

Colin Leach

WAR AS SPECTACLE: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Display of Armed Conflict

Ed. by Anastasia Bakogianni and Valerie M. Hope

Bloomsbury (2015) h/b 454pp £90.00 (ISBN 9781472522290)

Gone are the days when military history was merely the examination of battle tactics, regimental formations and cavalry charges. With the growth of socio-military history has come a greater understanding of the interrelated destinies of those waging war, and warfare itself. As this direction of enquiry has been sought, some very hard truths are being realised. Nowhere is this clearer than in B./H.’s well-presented edited volume, which explores the dark reality of war being a spectacle, and in essence, a form of entertainment for both ancient and modern audiences.

This book’s greatest strength, apart from the fascinating breadth of topics under discussion, comes from its editorial organisation, which brings a logical structure with which to explore the notion of war as spectacle. Part 1 focuses on literary spectacles of war and is itself split into two smaller areas: 1A explores Greek and Roman Epic, whereas 1B focuses on the spectacle of war in poetry, historiography and philosophy. Of particular note is Yamagata’s fascinating comparison between the Iliad and the much later Japanese epic poem, the Tale of the Heike. Yamagata’s analysis reveals how both epic poems manipulate the emotions of the reader to ‘make us re-examine the idea of glory and fame to be found in war’ (p.55).

Part 2 homes in on the spectacle of war in material culture. This short section focuses more keenly on the reception of ancient warfare, and indeed on the ancient spectacle, that has permeated into later cultures. These three provocative papers reveal the true extent to which modern cultures have kept alive the ancient notions of the spectacle, and in many cases it has been done with deliberate intent.

Part 3 is a natural progression from 2, as it concentrates on the depiction of the spectacle on the stage and in modern media. It is in this final section that we can see just how free the ancient notion of war as spectacle is to manipulation and adaptation. Nevin’s paper on the ‘Panoply’ project (a must read for any teachers of ancient history) ends the book as a whole, leaving us with the most modern incarnation of ancient warfare as a spectacle in the form of vase animation.

This edited volume is gifted with a thorough and well-rounded introduction, but the lack of conclusion or discussion at the end does leave the reader with the feeling they have simply read a selection of papers, rather than a unified book. Similarly, the academic nature of some of the topics and writing styles could make this a daunting prospect for non-specialists.

It is unfortunate that there was no opportunity to look at other classical cultures such as the Egyptians or Persians, but the exploration of the vast topic and its reception does perhaps validate this narrowing of the editorial review. That being said, the papers it holds offer fascinating insights into Greek and Roman notions of the spectacle of war, and bring into question our own fascination with warfare as a form of entertainment.

Owen Rees

CLASSICAL VICTORIANS: Scholars, Scoundrels and Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity

By Edmund Richardson

CUP (2013) h/b 227pp £54.99 (ISBN 9781107026773)

From the title—or especially the subtitle—one might expect to be led on a romp through the lives of the many maverick, even picaresque characters who were involved directly or indirectly with the classics in the Victorian era: sed caveat lector! This book throughout shows its genesis from a PhD thesis (supervised by S. Goldhill), and is part of a series that (say the General Editors) ‘aims to unsettle, provoke debate and, above all, stimulate a re-evaluation of assumptions about the relationship between Greek and Roman classical pasts and modern history’. But sometimes one forgets that for almost anyone who was fully educated in those days, his (rarely her) education was, in fact, likely to be classical—so almost any maverick of note had probably studied Greek and Latin at school, if not at university. And although Sir Richard Jebb—no maverick he—makes an appearance, his role is relatively minor.

Actual case studies here are not very many: there is an opium addict (dead at 30); a wife-murdering headmaster, who rather luckily escaped the noose; a debt-ridden burlesque-writer (dead at 32), and—incomparably the most interesting—Samuel Butler, author of The Authoress of the Odyssey, Erewhon, and The Way of All Flesh. The ‘Greek Play’ bishops have cameo roles (but Blomfield was a scholar of repute, as Housman knew), and an Appendix gives lists of bishops in 1800 and 1865 ‘born into the elite’, who ‘advanced through patronage’, who ‘gained advantage from theological writings’ and who ‘gained advantage from classical learning’ (only 3 of these are listed): a similar, and longer list does much the same for archdeacons in 1840. The generals of the subtitle are the Lords Cardigan and Raglan, who so distinguished themselves in the Crimean War: a French officer amusingly compared the latter to Agamemnon, Cardigan to Achilles and Sebastopol to Troy: only the wooden horse was lacking.

Samuel Butler has been the subject of a full-length biography, by Peter Raby (1991), which is inexcusably omitted from R.’s bibliography. He was, in short, a wealthy and dedicated enfant terrible whose targets lay everywhere—the Bible, Darwin, Shakespeare, Homer. Butler’s intention in The Authoress of the Odyssey was largely, but perhaps not entirely, to entertain, while delivering a Shavian attack on (one) Victorian concept of Homer, patriarchal and blind, by replacing him with Nausicaa; R. writes about this episode with markedly more verve, point, and interest (in my view) than elsewhere, and the book itself can still be read with enjoyment today. There are several distinctly interesting quotations from Andrew Amos’s Four Lectures, and, among other notable figures, the familiar and rotund figure of Oscar Browning makes an appearance (with the well-known illustration of him with Lord Curzon).

Whether R. achieves the lofty aims of the General Editors may be doubted; and a more balanced view of the Victorians and the classics can be found in Richard Jenkyns’s superb The Victorians and Ancient Greece (1980). As hinted at above, the book is well, and amusingly, illustrated: but, to repeat, although most mavericks may have known their classics, not all classicists were mavericks. One may hope that a paperback edition will be much less expensive.

Colin Leach


Ed. by Tyler T. Travillian

Bloomsbury (2015) p/b 360pp £17.99 (ISBN 9781472535665)

Wonders are many, but none more wonderful than Pliny the Elder, as Sophocles certainly would have said had he not been dead for nearly 500 years. Pliny’s 37-book Naturalis Historia is a stupor mundi, an encyclopedia of everything there was to know—whether it was worth knowing or not—in Rome of the 1st C AD. Book VII is of particular interest, as Pliny observes at the start: ‘So far our subject has covered the world and its lands, peoples, seas, notable [rivers], islands and cities’ and its animals are no less important, he goes on, but ‘first place must go to man’. And what a piece of work he is, Pliny observes: no creature more vulnerable, none with a greater lust for pleasure, none more timid, none more prone to rage, the only animals exhibiting ambition, greed, superstition, concern about the afterlife and so on.

There follow an excursus on varieties of men (e.g. some with eyes on their shoulders); a study of man from birth to death with all his strengths and weaknesses (a sort of Guinness Book of Records, e.g. Lucius Siccius’ 120 battles, 8 single combats, 45 scars in front and none in the back, captured 34 spoils, won 18 spear-shafts and so and on, ending with 10 PoWs and 20 cows); reflections on the human condition (e.g. notable long lives and deaths); and finally a list of human inventions (more long lists, from writing and fabrics to clubs and auguries to shaving). But T.’s text does not end there: he adds the opening of book VIII, where Pliny moves on to the animal kingdom with a description of the animal ‘closest to man sensibus’ (in intelligence, perhaps, or disposition, awareness). Any offers? Yes, Mr Darwin? Hullo? Sorry, wrong. The answer is the elephant, which understands language, can learn ancient Greek, respects the stars and is generally honest, noble, bold and true.

T. supplies the Latin, a commentary with helpful, school-style grammatical as well as generous background information, an appendix on numerals, abbreviations of names, and weights and measures, maps, and a full Latin-English vocabulary and indices. The introduction gives a brief account of Pliny’s life; the Younger’s account of the Elder’s rigorous working practices (regularly dictating over meals, while being scraped down after bathing, and during journeys: no wonder he produced nearly 100 volumes of work in all); a very thoughtful analysis of the structure, content and significance of Books VII and VIII; a list of sources for Book VII (sixty, including references to material taken uncited from Valerius Maximus’ Facta et dicta); extensive notes on his style; his later reception, and further reading.

This, in other words, is an admirably wide-ranging edition, well-suited to introducing to a wider audience both Pliny himself and the realisation that, for a Roman, the world was a place of wonders, ‘discoverable, knowable, comprehensible’—conquerable in that sense as well—and well worth the effort. All so different from the exquisitely enclosed, inward-looking literary worlds of the poets.


Peter Jones