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European History


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Roman Historiography: An Introduction to its Basic Aspects and Development by Andreas Mehl, translated by Hans-Friedrich Mueller (Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World: Wiley-Blackwell) Roman Historiography: An Introduction to its Basic Aspects and Development presents a comprehensive introduction to the development of Roman historical writings in the ancient world. Andreas Mehl traces the arc of ancient historical writing about Rome from its origins with the authors of clan history and fragmentary annalists to the writings of Byzantine scholar Procopius, the last major historian of the ancient world. Rooting his survey in the context of its Greek predecessors, and within the broader framework of Roman literature and society, Mehl discusses every historical writer of significance in the ancient Roman era and provides much more than simple biographical detail. Also considered are essential themes such as genre, teleology, the idea of Rome, and exemplary moral conduct. By paying scrupulous attention to political context and religious developments throughout the ancient world, Mehl reveals the evolution and interpenetration of both pagan and Christian historiography. More

Tales of the Barbarians: Ethnography and Empire in the Roman West  by Greg Woolf (Blackwell-Bristol Lectures on Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition: Wiley-Blackwell) Tales of the Barbarians traces the creation of new mythologies in the wake of Roman expansion westward to the Atlantic. Providing a fresh perspective on the topic by examining passages from ancient writers in a new light, Woolf explores how ancient geography local histories and the stories of wandering heroes were woven together by Greek scholars and local experts to establish a place for Celts and Spaniards, Africans and Britons in the classical world. En route, this investigation assesses the impact of Roman imperialism on those intellectual endeavours, tracks the interplay of scientific and mythological reasoning, and asks why ancient stereotypes survived for so long after the first encounters in the contact zone.

Making use of comparisons with modern empires and the voyages of exploration, Woolf offers fascinating new insights into the creation of the first national traditions of Western Europe.

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness begins with a story, told on the deck of a cruiser moored on the Thames estuary where a group of old friends pass the time as they wait for the tide to turn. As the sun sets over London, the narrator begins his tale of the degeneration of imperial rule and Western rationality in the depths of Africa. 'And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth.'"

The phrase is a quotation from Psalm 74, an appeal to God not to forsake his people in the midst of the heathen, a very suitable epigram for this novel. Verse 20 in the King James Bible reads 'Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty'.

Neither Conrad nor Marlow follows up that thought immediately. Conrad continues by characterizing this latter-day Odysseus as an inveterate follower of the seas, a man whose wandering mind is untypical of sailors, especially in his yarns, because to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale like a misty halo. Marlow, for his part, continues:

I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans first came here, nineteen hundred years ago — the other day ... Light came out of this river, you say Knights? Yes; but it is like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker — may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday. Irnagine the feelings of a commander of a fine — what d'ye call 'ern? — trireme in the Mediterranean, ordered suddenly to the north; run overland across the Gauls in a hurry; put in charge of one of these craft the legionaries — a wonderful lot of handy men they must have been, too — used to build, apparently by the hundred, in a month or two, if we may believe what we read. Imagine him here — the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina — and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages, — precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay — cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death — death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here.

The Heart of Darkness was published in 1902, just five years after Kipling's poem 'Recessional', and this opening frame voices a similar consciousness of the imminent end of empire. Rome, as so often for this generation, offered compelling resemblances and contrasts. Marlow goes on at once to provide some of the latter: we are not quite like them, we are more efficient, they were no colonists and barely had an administration. They were mere conquerors, who 'grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got' and he continues in similar vein. The reader is not taken in, of course. What Marlow found up river, at 'the farthest point of navigation and the culmination of my experience', will shatter forever his and our faith in the comforting narratives of the civilizing process. We are no better than the Romans, and our fate will be no different from theirs.

Thinking about the British empire in terms of ancient Rome was perhaps inevitable.. So much of the paraphernalia of British rule — titles and slogans, symbols and ornaments — had been created in the Victorian era, when the status of Classics in the education of the British elite was at an all time high. Yet there has been a price for historians in this Romanizing of Europe's imperial adventures. Whenever Britain becomes the new Rome, the ancient Britons, the Gauls and other western peoples become Victorian savages, illiterate tribesmen hidden in the dark forests of an unexplored continent. Rome's penetration of Europe was easy to imagine as a precursor of the Scramble for Africa. Many versions of the analogy have since been presented. There have been noble Britons, and British victims as well as British savages. Scholars have drawn attention to the limitations of the comparison, from at least`the beginning of the twentieth century. Yet successive generations of revisionists have found it easier to exchange domination and exploitation for the civilizing process than to decolonize our histories of the Roman West.' Post-colonial studies have in many ways only prolonged our double identification with Roman imperialism and its victims.

This book is intended as a contribution to this project of decolonization. Decolonizing does not mean redressing the balance. This is no attempt to give voices to those whom I shall continue to call barbarians, and certainly not to proclaim their ways of life better than (or even merely different from) what replaced them under Roman rule. I am not setting out to 'take their side', as if by affirming solidarity with some of my conquered ancestors, I can expiate the imperialist deeds of my more recent relatives. Nor do I want to tell the story from their point of view. Peoples without History, are usually those who have been deprived of it by force. Pretending to restore it is a condescension that trivializes the original theft. It is in any case an impossible task for antiquity, where it is hard enough to tell a story with any nuance from the I conquerors' perspective. Rather this is an investigation of a group of themes that have become central to the history of modern empires in general, but an investigation that has constantly to navigate between analogy and difference.

The subject of this book is the creation of new histories in the Roman West. This new knowledge, and the process by which it was created, I shall term ethnography. What that term might mean in antiquity will need to be clarified in chapter 1.5 But using it has the advantage that it allows me to connect the various texts in which my stories about barbarians are found to similar texts created in other places and periods. It also allows me to draw on a rich body of debate among modern anthropologists and historians about what happens when accounts of unfamiliar peoples are translated into writing. Their questions have helped me formulate my own. Who was involved in the generation of that new knowledge? How did the circum-stances under which they met shape the form taken by the stories they told? How did the prior intellectual preoccupations of ancient writers shape their questions and their answers? How far did empire set the terms in which they came to understand each other? Reading ethnographies has its own pleasure — and I have enjoyed dipping my toes into unfamiliar waters — but I do not expect the stories of Roman Europe to be the same as, or indeed different from, those told in the modern world. If my problematic owes everything to current debates among both historians of empire and ethnographers, my answers will not systematically proclaim either the equivalence of ancient experience, or its utter foreignness.

What do I mean by the Roman West? A vast region that Roman armies fought in, occupied and eventually conquered, between the middle of the third century BCE and the end of the first century CE. The term is a conventional one. West, that is, of Italy, itself largely under Roman control before the first campaigns were waged on the larger islands and along the Mediterranean littorals of France, Spain and North Africa. All these territories were conquered by the end of the Punic Wars, that is in the middle of the second century BCE. It took over a century more to make the Atlantic the limit of Roman rule. The final portions of Roman North Africa and Spain, Gaul, Britain and Germany were not turned into provinces until the first century CE. West is also a cultural realm: West in contradistinction to the East of Greek cities and Hellenistic monarchies. Teleologically, this is the half of the empire which, along with Italy, would come to use Latin in its administration and monuments, literature and education. It coincides roughly with the less successful half of the empire after it was divided in the late fourth and early fifth century, the Roman empire that fell, only for part of it to form the foundations of Western Christendom. That West, of course, was not bisected by the Mediterranean: Africa was as much a part of it as the wilder shores of Europe.

The West was not always so different or distinct. When Timaios of Sicilian Tauromenium gave it its first comprehensive history around the beginning of the third century BCE, it was one of a number of peripheries of the Greek core of Mediterranean civilization. Perhaps it might have been compared to the Euxine as another sea seeded with Greek cities in the Iron Age, or even with the newer Greek lands settled by Alexander's veterans and ruled by the descendants of his generals, in Egypt and Anatolia, the Near East and the Hindu Kush. Aristotle had included the constitutions of Rome and Carthage (along with those of some of the western Greek cities) in his political surveys. Eratosthenes wondered if Romans, Carthaginians and Indians should be considered within the civilized core of the world, a core surrounded by barbarian peoples. A much sharper cultural gradient than East/West divided the Mediterranean world, with its centuries and cities and its dense networks of trade, piracy and pilgrimage, from its various continental hinterlands. The Maghreb, the Spanish Meseta and the Massif Central had little in common, except that all were ecologically distinct from the littorals surrounding the western extension of the middle sea.

The West was, in fact, an artefact of Roman power. part of the aim of this book is to trace how that came about. It was created first by the obliteration of Carthage, and then by devising for Spaniards, Africans and Gauls (and then for others) new means of rule, different from those that Romans were learning to apply in Greek lands. Local memory, whether documented in the Carthaginian libraries — libraries that the conquerors ostentatiously dispersed, translating only one great encyclopaedia of agriculture — or in oral traditions, was treated as worthless. This from a city that had been actively sponsoring the creation of a Latin literature and patronizing Greek scholars for over a century by the time Carthage fell! The early Roman empire stimulated a great recovery and celebration of local memories in the Greek world, but not in the emergent West. Contempt for local traditions in this part of their dominions can be compared to the notorious modern doctrine of terra nullius, the designation of territory as legitimately belonging to no one, and so liable to the most extreme forms of colonial remodel-ling." It is difficult to find explicit statements by Roman writers of such a doctrine, but its application was nevertheless systematic. The Latin West was made, in part, by the effacing of un-Latin and pre-Roman pasts, a process quite different from that applied in other parts of the empire. In their place, new pasts and traditions had to be invented.

Expressed in these terms, the actual violence of Roman conquest might seem to entail what has been called `epistemic violence'. That term refers to the (usually) colonial engineering of an unbridgeable rupture between the knowledge worlds of pre- and post-conquest societies. Indigenous knowledge — of themselves, their past, their identity and their place in the cosmos — is dramatically devalued, to be replaced by the 'discoveries' of the conquerors, inventions that encode the rulers' gaze and build on their own metropolitan preoccupations. The paradigm for such an approach was that pioneered by Edward Said in his study of what he termed `orientalism', although more extreme versions of the idea have since gained currency as well as comprehensive critiques. Common ground is that empire exercised a crucial context for the new texts that were produced. Probably most now would assent to some form to Foucault's general proposition that new orders of knowledge are produced by and underpin new orders of power. These ideas have already been influential in Roman history."

More contentious is the extent to which empire is held to dominate the intellectual field: Did pre-conquest knowledge make any impact on conquerors? Were there any continuities across epistemic shifts? How far were imperial aspirations to totalizing authority ever realized in practice? Historians of the European empires of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are currently locked in sometimes fierce debate over how absolute those ruptures were, and over the extent to which the dominated subjects of European empires actively contributed to the creation of the new knowledge that replaced what was effaced by empire. When the issue is resolved into concrete questions, the answers may vary from one colonial situation to another. This book seeks to ask and answer some such concrete questions, such as: Did western provincials have any input into their new histories? How interested were Roman generals and emperors in gathering and systematizing knowledge? How far did pre-Roman traditions cross the ruptures caused by epistemic violence ?

That empire spellbound the Roman imagination cannot be denied. Yet the precise connections remain obscure. Strabo, writing in Augustan Rome, granted that Roman expansion had brought new knowledge, yet his world is arguably Hellenocentric, his foundational text Homer, his predecessors and rivals Polybios and Poseidonios, Eratosthenes and Artemidoros. When Pliny dedicates the Natural History to Titus, does he celebrate the imperial frame of the encyclopaedia, or merely seek to appropriate the majesty of empire to his scholarly magnum opus? The Roman empire offered various resources to scholars, among them safe passage and all those plundered libraries gathered into the metropolis. But did scholarship pay its dues? Can we credit, as some have, the idea of Caesar guided into the Gallic interior by a battered scroll of Poseidonios? Would merchants exploring the harbours of the empire really find much of commercial advantage in dog-eared copies of Strabo?

The four chapters of this book pursue a sceptical investigation into the connections between empire and knowledge at the turn of the millennia. The first is an attempt to give some specificity to the kinds of knowledge we have of the Roman West in ethnographic writing and considers en route questions of genre and tradition, definition and historiography. It also offers an argument about the locations where new knowledge was created. The second chapter is concerned with the intellectual resources available for ordering this information, specifically the scientific paradigms offered by Greek ethnography, and genealogical discourse, also typically if not uniquely Greek. In particular it asks how scientific and mythopoetic modes of analysis were put into relation with each other, and with other ways of ordering the world, and why they did not produce a more systematic theory of human diversity and its origins. The third chapter deals with the imperial context of these investigations, with questions of imperial sponsorship and use of knowledge, questions that have produced a huge literature in relation to modern imperialisms. The fourth asks how this knowledge was employed in the world of the principate, how open to revision it was, and why there seem so few advances in ethnographic knowledge over the course of the empire. Naturally these investigations tangle around each other as they proceed.

One of the many revelations produced by the modern critique of ethnography has been an explosion of the myth of first contact. Someone has always been there before, and very often these forerunners turn out to be essential guides to those who explore territory new to themselves. Writing this book I have been very fortunate in those who have surveyed this territory ahead of me. It will be obvious from my notes how much I depend on those philologists who, over more than a century, have surveyed ancient ethnographic and geographic writing and have teased out its relationship with historiography!' Three more recent studies have, however, been both guides into the forest and inspirations. Most fundamental of all has been Arnaldo Momigliano's Alien Wisdom, his Trevelyan lectures of 1973, which explored with wit and insight how Greek writers observed and recorded their neighbours as the world was opened up to their enquiries by Hellenistic and Roman imperialisms. Claude Nicolet's L'inventaire du monde also started life as a lecture series, in this case the Jerome Lectures of 1986.18 His rich interweaving of intellectual and and administrative history around the theme of space provided a model for historizing a shift in geographical knowledge at the origins of the principate. Finally, James Romm's elegant volume The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought (1992) encouraged me to believe it was possible to write a cultural history of geography without doing violence to the literature through which is it now mostly represented.

Past Minds: Studies in Cognitive Historiography by Luther Martin and Jesper Sorensen (Religion, Cognition, Culture: Equinox) How do historians understand the minds, motivations, intentions of historical agents? What might evolutionary and cognitive theorizing contribute to this work? What is the relation between natural and cultural history? Historians have been intrigued by such questions ever since publication in 1859 of Darwin's The Origin of Species, itself the historicization of biology. This interest reemerged in the latter part of the twentieth century among a number of biologists, philosophers and historians, reinforced by the`new interdisciplinary finding of cognitive scientists about the universal capacities of and constraints upon human minds. The studies in this volume, primarily by historians of religion, continue this discussion by focusing on historical examples of ancient religions as well as on the theoretical promises and problems relevant to that study.

In May 2007, the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen's University Belfast, spon-sored an international symposium on the theme of this volume, "Past Minds: Evolution, Cognition, and History." The papers in this volume are selected from among those present-ed at this symposium, especially those focusing on historical examples of ancient religions and those addressing theoretical issues relevant to that study. We would like to thank all of those who participated in this symposium, especially those who revised their papers for this volume. And we would like to thank the Institute of Cognition and Culture, its students, and its director, Dr. Jesse Bering, and the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, United States Air Force Research Laboratory, for their generous support and for their contributions to the success of this conference and this volume.

The book is divided into four parts. Part One, Introduction, contains two chapters. In the first, Luther H. Martin outlines the historical development of the relation between historiography on the one hand and evolutionary and cognitive theorizing on the other. He traces the shifting attitudes towards both mentalist and Darwinian approaches all the way from nineteenth and early twentieth century scholars such as Macallister and Harrison to current discussions between selectionist and attractor-based notions of human cultural transmission. In the second chapter, Christophe Heintz discusses how cultural epidemiol-ogy might inform historiography by modeling the influence of evolved cognitive systems on the spread of particular ideas and, subsequently, how this might be said to account for both cultural stability and historical change.

The four chapters that constitute Part Two, Minds and Ancient Civilizations, each address a particular empirical case. In Chapter 3 Gabriel Levy investigates the case of Juda-ism and argues that bottom-up approaches cannot account for particularities of Jewish culture as well as the impact of its particular mental abilities such as intelligence. Instead he opts for a top-down approach claiming that niche-construction and co-evolutionary processes have influenced genetic selection in the Jewish population and, as such, contingent historical factors can have a significant impact on evolutionary processes as well as vice versa. In Chapter 4 Peter Westh addresses how the cognitive optimum theory of religious representations argued by Pascal Boyer can be applied to ancient textual sources, in this case Assyro-Babylonian divine epithets, and to what extent this type of textual data should lead to a revision of the theory. Westh argues that textual sources might result in a more intuitively informed description of gods (i.e. being less counterintuitive than expected) as texts provide an alternative way to transmit cultural knowledge that does not depend on individual humans' memory. Turning to a comparative case, Christian Prager discusses the evolutionary and cognitive underpinnings of a particular symbolic phenomenon in Chapter 5. Based on cognitive understandings of symbolism as well as knowledge of aesthetically preferred landscapes stemming from evolutionary psychology, Prager investigates the often noted, but rarely explained, world-wide dispersal and stability of tree-symbolism and, in particular, its role in Mesoamerican cultures. In Chapter 6, Dirk Johannsen discusses how cognitive theories can help explain the co-existence and persistence of an oral tradition of the "Hidden People» together with standardized Lutheran Christianity in eighteenth and nineteenth century Norway. Making use of Pascal Boyer's repertoire of domain-violations and access to social strategic information, as well as of cognitive narratology, he analyzes how such violations dramatically enhance the explicability of life-events (e.g. sudden disease) and, at the same time, serve a narrative function as a central aspect of the plot.

Part Three, Roman Minds, consists of five chapters each of which addresses a historical case in the Roman period. In Chapter 7 Anders Lisdorf analyses the extensive use of omens and prodigies in the Roman Republic during a 200-year period. Lisdorf argues that understanding human cognitive systems can shed new light on the type of prodigies accepted, as well as how these were distributed through different strata of Roman society. In Chapter 8, Ales Chalupa discusses how cognitive science might help answer the old riddle of the origins and rapid spread of Mithraism. Focusing on questions of ritual performance and transmission of religious ideas can supply new information to help the historian fill in the gaps in the historical record and thus reconstruct a likely historical scenario. Keeping with the theme of ritual, in Chapter 9 Douglas Gragg tests the ritual form hypothesis of Lawson and McCauley on the description of a ritual initiation found in a literary source, The Golden Ass by Apuleius. Gragg argues that an apparently potential problem for the theory, Lucius' second and third initiation into the mysteries of Isis, in fact supports the theory as these are regarded as extraordinary in the narrative itself Turning to the topic of anthropomorphism, Ulrich Berner points in Chapter 10 to the important role of this con-cept in recent cognitive theories of religion as well as to its ancient roots in Greco-Roman scepticism in general and in the writings of Lucian of Samosata in particular. He warns that explaining religious conceptualization does not amount to an explanation of religion in general and that other methods must complement cognitive approaches in order to create a fuller picture. Finally, in Chapter 11 István Czachesz develops a cognitive explanation of magic and tests it from early Christianity. He argues that situations of operant condition-ing with a variable reinforcement in themselves produce a ritualized magical response and, when combined with widespread miracle stories as well as explicit explanations, a positive feedback loop emerges whereby stories and explanations reinforce rituals and vise verse.

In the final part of the book, Conclusion, the perspective is once again widened in two chapters that discuss at the theoretical level the relation between historiography, cognitive science and evolutionary models. In Chapter 12, Don Wiebe critically accesses the potential role of social science and historiography for current evolutionary psychology. He criticizes evolutionary psychology for being overly reductionistic and, in fact, leaving no room for complementary approaches. Instead he calls for a pluralistic approach that acknowledges emergent levels of explanations of human phenomena and the need for a combination of evolutionary, cognitive and social scientific / historiographical approaches. In Chapter 13 Jesper Sorensen points to the inherent tension in historiography between contingent and particular facts, on the one hand, and the more or less explicit systems or structures understood as binding events together in narrative strings, on the other. He out-lines three analytical models of the relation between psychology, socio-cultural systems and contingent historical events and discusses these in relation to the temporal scope as well as the explicit investigative concern of the historian.

But what is all the fuss really about? Why do historians need to concern themselves with cognitive science and evolutionary modeling? While this book has a lot to say in that regard, a short quote at the outset might point to a common denominator between the different views expressed. In his 1994 article, E. Thomas Lawson concluded that historians have a stake in the debate over the role of cognitive [and evolutionary] theorizing for historiographical method (Lawson 1994, 482). If historians "are willing to make assumptions about the transmission of tradition, then it is their job," he challenges, "to help in identifiing the mechanisms which underwrite such a process" (Lawson 1994, 483, emphasis original). From this perspective, historians—including historians of religion—are not only begin-ning to employ evolutionary and cognitive theorizing in their historiographical work but are becoming potential contributors of evidence for our understanding of such theorizing. We hope that the contributions to this volume might contribute to this project by offering some examples of such historiographical work while at the same time inquiring into the relevance and inferences of evolutionary and cognitive theorizing for that work.


Roman Attitudes Toward the Christians: From Claudius to Hadrian by John Granger Cook (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament: Mohr Siebeck)  John Granger Cook investigates the earliest interactions between Roman authorities and Christians. The events in Claudius' time surrounding "Chrestos" and possible Jewish Christians are fascinating but obscure. The persecutions of Nero and Trajan may be crucial for interpreting certain texts of the New Testament, including the Gospel of Mark, 1 Peter, and the Apocalypse. Scholars have become increasingly skeptical of a persecution of the Christians during Domitian's rule, and the evidence is not strong. The rescript of Hadrian did little to change Trajan's policy with regard to the Christians. Although the texts provide no evidence for a general law against the Christians (probably no such law existed until the time of Decius), they do give some indication of the way magistrates characterized ("constructed") constructed") Christians: to Nero and his prefects the Christians were arsonists and harbored intense hatred of the human race; to Pliny and Trajan they were people who did not "supplicate our gods." More

 A. H. M. Jones and the Later Roman Empire edited by David M. Gwynn (Brill's Series on the Early Middle Ages,  15: Brill Academic) The appearance in 1964 of A.H.M. Jones’ The Later Roman Empire 284–602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey transformed the study of the Late Antique world. In this volume a number of leading scholars reassess the impact of Jones’ great work, the influences that shaped his scholarship, and the legacy he left for later generations. Jones’ historical method, his fundamental knowledge of Late Roman political, social, economic and religious structures, and his famous assessment of the Decline and Fall of Rome are re-examined here in the light of modern research. This volume offers a valuable aid to academics and students alike who seek to better understand and exploit the priceless resource that is the Later Roman Empire.
Contributors are Averil Cameron, Peter Garnsey, David Gwynn, Peter Heather, Caroline Humfress, Luke Lavan, Wolfgang Liebeschuetz, Stefan Rebenich, Alexander Sarantis, Roger Tomlin, Bryan Ward-Perkins, and Michael Whitby.

Reviewed by Gavin Kelly, University of Edinburgh from http://www.bmcreview.org/2010/12/20101217.html

[Occasionally reviews are reproduced from other sources. Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

Among English-speaking Romanists, the Later Roman Empire can denote not just a period and a geographical area, but also a book, A.H.M. Jones's The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (Oxford: Blackwell, 1964). Jones's great work (conventionally LRE) remains a fundamental tool for scholars of the later empire. There are several reasons for this: the most obvious is that it reflects Jones' astonishingly broad reading and prodigious memory of the primary sources. Jones aspired to have read everything surviving from his period, although he soon drew the line at various categories of text, notably sermons. His confidence in his accuracy was such that he submitted the two volumes of text to the press before the third volume of notes was ready. On virtually any aspect of social or political organisation, the LRE can usually be relied upon to present the ancient textual evidence in accurate and comprehensive detail: it is itself almost a primary source.

The book under review derives from a seminar series held in Oxford (where Jones was an undergraduate of New College and a Fellow of All Souls) to mark the LRE's fortieth anniversary in 2004; a few additional papers were commissioned. The list of contributors is dominated by established scholars of distinction; all but one (Rebenich) work within the UK, and those with Oxford connections dominate. Only one (Liebeschuetz) was a pupil of Jones.

The book is divided into two unequal parts. The first part focuses on Jones himself and the LRE's composition and reception; the second consists of studies of individual themes. The division, one presumes intentionally, reflects Jones' division of the LRE into a shorter (though still 300-page) narrative introduction, and a longer section of thematic surveys. The first chapter is a biographical sketch of Jones: its author, Alexander Sarantis, has spoken to pupils and relatives and done some archival research. Although any advances on the previous biographical accounts of Crook, Liebeschuetz, and Brunt are limited,1 the chapter achieves what it means to, and a number of anecdotes illustrating Jones' prodigious memory and concern for primary evidence prepare us for the meat of the collection.

Peter Garnsey is a fellow of Jesus, Jones' Cambridge college, and his starting point is a box found in his college rooms, which contained some of Jones' papers from the time of the LRE's composition. 'Jones' box is no treasure chest', Garnsey declares (27), but he nevertheless uses it as the starting point for an illuminating study of Jones' method. What emerges above all is the importance of contact, oral or epistolary, with professional colleagues and the value he placed on his careful and systematic filleting of primary sources. In one case a letter to a colleague ends with a request to return it and its list of references to Jones 'with any comments that may occur to you... as I might want to use it myself.' Garnsey also discusses two themes which recur in Stefan Rebenich's chapter on Jones and continental scholarship: his attitude to previous grands projets in Roman history (especially those of Stein and Rostovtzeff), and the relative absence of citation of modern scholarship in the LRE. Jones' avowal in the preface that he had not had time for full coverage of modern scholarship is shown by Garnsey to be doubly disingenuous: first, in that he genuinely did undervalue modern scholarship; secondly, in that he had read much more than he admitted. Rebenich demonstrates the latter point well, illustrating not only the general influence of grand-scale works, but also listing a number of places where demonstrable influences on Jones from contemporary scholarship are simply unacknowledged in the notes. Rebenich also records the understandable bewilderment of continental European reviewers at this disregard. He concludes that Jones' ostentatious refusal to try to keep abreast of modern scholarship did little practical damage to his work, but should be seen as 'a striking example of academic self-fashioning' (60, cf. 44).

The papers of the second half are thematic, covering Jones' treatment of various important topics in the late Roman world: the emperor; bureaucrats and senators; law; the army; the cities; the economy; religion; and 'decline'. I shall discuss these chapters collectively rather than sequentially. Inevitably, the same structure repeatedly imposes itself (i.e. coverage of the theme before Jones; Jones' treatment; the reception of Jones; scholarship since; appraisal). Readers may therefore get an occasional sense of déjà vu. Still, these are all good surveys by acknowledged experts and are especially worthwhile for graduate students who wish to get a picture of the history of a particular area.

The LRE's impact naturally varies from field to field. For Roger Tomlin, in a precise and characteristically elegant chapter on the fourth-century army, Jones 'remains the essential starting-point, and still quite often has the last word' (163). The same could be said of Jones on bureaucrats, curials, and senators, a subject covered in an excellent essay by Peter Heather. Caroline Humfress' chapter on law and justice confronts the problem that the LRE's most relevant chapter (XIV) is entitled simply 'Justice'. Jones' interest was wholly focused on how law worked or did not work rather than on legal theory. She argues that his conclusions were based on remarkably wide reading and understanding of broader problems, and point the way to interpretations more optimistic than his own. His views of what his strident final chapter called 'The Decline of the Empire' and what Averil Cameron's chapter calls 'the End of the Ancient World' are another area where we can see an undoubted advance on his predecessors, but some tensions at least between his conclusions and his evidence. When it comes to emperors, there is a stark contrast between Jones' relative taciturnity, outside the narrative chapters, and the vast efflorescence of (mainly Anglophone) scholarship on emperors and their representation in the last few decades, described by Michael Whitby. Whitby concludes that 'the narrowness of Jones' vision is undoubtedly a weakness' (93). The emperor may have been a vital part of the structures of government which were Jones' main theme, but the vast divergences in the nature and the extent of imperial power across a 300-year period, as well as in emperors' attitudes to religion, would have created serious problems in a work which presented a cross-temporal survey of governmental and social structures withoutsystematically exploring changes within them.

Jones' renunciation of archaeological evidence is a running theme. His reluctance to use it is to some degree surprising, as he had himself excavated in the near east and had written two major works on urbanism, The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces (1937) and The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian (1940). It is clear both from Luke Lavan's chapter on the cities and from Bryan Ward-Perkins' on the economy that a reliance on literary and epigraphic sources led to an overly pessimistic assessment (though Ward-Perkins is more generous to Jones for having replaced the far more morbid pessimism of his early twentieth-century predecessors). Both speculate that, to quote Ward-Perkins, 'it was not just [archaeology's] opacity, but also its open-endedness that he found difficult' (206, cf. 178). The vast growth in excavation over the last forty years rather proves the point. One is left with the paradox that the omission of archaeology is a flaw which has helped to preserve the LRE's relevance. The same could be said of his treatment of the church solely from the point of view of organization, on which the editor, David Gwynn, has written his own chapter. Broader understanding of late-antique religion has been transformed by the very different sort of social history, focused on history of mentalities and associated above all with Peter Brown, which has flourished since the early 1970s.

All in all, this is a very worthwhile collection of fine essays; we should be grateful to Gwynn for assembling them. For those interested in a broad view of Jones' place in twentieth-century historiography, Garnsey and Rebenich's chapters, along with Cameron's chapter and Liebeschuetz's epilogue, will be the most valuable parts of the book; the other chapters of Section 2 will be useful for those with more specialized interests. Presumably this, like most Brill volumes, was not professionally copy-edited. There are inconsistencies of style between chapters and occasional lapses throughout, especially in punctuation. The English of Lavan's chapter could have done with more work.2 On the whole, however, the editor has kept the text reasonably clean. There follow some errata and a complete table of contents.

3: Jones' grandfather Dr Hugh Jones lived to a good age, but not from 1807-1919! The birth year should be 1837. The web address in n. 2 should not have a hyphen. 9: The letters FSA (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries) are misinterpreted to make Jones a Fellow of the (non-existent) Scottish Academy. 15: Jones is said to have ensured that Cambridge University Library stored previously scattered works on epigraphy and calligraphy in the same place. Presumably 'calligraphy' should be 'papyrology'? 74 and 76: Constantine VII should be called Porphyrogenitus (or –gennetos), not –gennitus. 90: Claudian was almost certainly in Milan, not Rome, when he wrote In Eutropium in 399. 108, cf. also 112: 'Jones of course knew Libanius' famous diatribe against some of the administrative officers of Constantius II, which emphasised their obscure and generally sordid social origins.' Famous or not, it would have been helpful to give readers a reference to Libanius Or. 42. 139 and n. 50: Hans Teitler's 1985 monograph on Notarii is wrongly said to be in Dutch with an English summary (the Dutch edition is that of 1983); Teitler's middle name is Carel not Carol. 168-169: The impression is given that 'Petit on Libanius' and 'Petit on Antioch' are different books, rather than the same monograph of 1955. 174: This could be read as implying that Libanius was a senator. 182: The reference to the pater civitatis/pater ths polews [sic, no Greek font] is ugly. 192 n. 5: 'One can almost hear the groans of the translator, struggling, and failing, under the weight of Oertel's ponderous prose.' Nice: but I wonder if Ward-Perkins originally wrote 'flailing' (or 'falling')?

Section 1: The Man and the Historian
1. Alexander Sarantis, 'Arnold Hugh Martin Jones (1904-1970)', 3-24
2. Peter Garnsey, 'Writing the Late Roman Empire: Method and Sources', 25-41
3. Stefan Rebenich, 'Jones and Continental Scholarship', 43-62
ion 2: The Later Roman Empire
4. Michael Whitby, 'The Role of the Emperor', 65-96
5. Peter Heather, 'Running the Empire: Bureaucrats, Curials, and Senators', 97-119
6. Caroline Humfress, 'Law and Justice in the Later Roman Empire', 121-142
7. Roger Tomlin, 'A.H.M. Jones and the Army of the Fourth Century', 143-165
8. Luke Lavan, 'A.H.M. Jones and "The Cities" 1964-2004', 167-191
9. Bryan Ward-Perkins, 'Jones and the Late Roman Economy', 193-211
10. David Gwynn, 'Idle Mouths and Solar Haloes: A.H.M. Jones and the Conversion of Europe', 213-229
11. Averil Cameron, 'A.H.M. Jones and the End of the Ancient World', 231-249
Afterword. Wolfgang Liebeschuetz, 'A.H.M. Jones and the Later Roman Empire', 252-269


Etruscans/a> by Mario Torelli (Rizzoli) The Etruscans have long been a rich source of research and intellectual inquiry as the most significant ethnic group who resided in ancient Etruria, current-day Tuscany and Umbria in Italy. A well-defined polity, the Etruscans were an advanced people whose presence on the Italian peninsula from the 8th to 4th century BCE had an enormous impact on Roman culture, whose rise to power saw the collapse of Etruscan civilization. As is to be expected Etruscans is wonderfully illustrated and Torelli’s text is a sustained interpretation of the archeological evidence painstaking uncovered this last century.

Etruscans is extensive in its scope: it traces the rise of the Etruscans at the end of the Bronze age; examines the economic structure of the society; explores the emergence of a powerful aristocracy in the period from 750-650 BCE; and the considerable religious and cultural life of the group. This knowledge has largely been gleaned from a wealth of monuments and material culture which the Etruscans left behind including architecture (the various forms of which indicate familial structure and socio-economic standing, not to mention the larger social structure of Etruscan society) and applied arts, such as bronze objects for both ceremonial use and everyday life, which were produced by an artisan class for a wealthy and demanding aristocracy.

Etruscan contributions to the history of art are also of immense importance and are explored in depth in this volume. Etruscan wall painting was exceptional in that it is one of the few examples of pre-Roman artistic production of this genre. Sculpture was also a relatively highly developed form of art and the Etruscans are known for their important experiments with form. Noted scholar Mario Torelli, editor of the book, gathers here an illuminating collection of essays reflective of the most current research on the Etruscans. As a professor of classical archaeology for nearly three decades who has directed archeological digs at some of the most significant Etruscan sites, Torelli offers a unique insight into the scholarly terrain of Etruscan studies. Torelli also contributes a substantive essay on Etruscan religion, exploring the rather exceptional character of this important aspect of Etruscan life. Lavishly illustrated with beautiful reproductions of Etruscan art and culture, this impressive catalogue explores every aspect of the Etruscan people and their artistic and cultural legacy in the most expansive consideration of their enormous contribution to Western culture to date. The exhibition of the same name, organized by the world-renowned Palazzo Grassi, Venice, and this volume are destined to be landmarks in Etruscan studies.

About the Author
Mario Torelli is currently Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Perugia in Italy. After completing his doctorate at the University of Rome in 1960, Torelli has had numerous academic appointments at such institutions as the University of Cagliari, and held visiting professorships at University of Paris, University of Michigan, and Princeton University, among others. In addition to his academic endeavors, he has directed archaeological digs at numerous Etruscan sites.

The Gods of Ancient Rome: Religion in Everyday Life from Archaic to Imperial Times by Robert Turcan, translated by Antonia Nevill (Routledge) is a vivid account of what their gods meant to the Romans from archaic times to late antiquity, and an exploration of the rites and rituals connected with them. After an extensive introduction into the nature of classical religion, the book is divided into three main parts: religions of the family and land; religions of the city; and religions of the empire. The book ends with the rise and impact of Christianity.

 For the Romans, as the author shows, religion was less a question of belief than a form of insurance. The gods were valued according to the degree of protection they afforded against natural hazards and occult powers. They were a crucial source of tactical information in time of war and their approval was vital to the success of agriculture, marriage and childbirth. Appeasing the gods and enlisting their help involved ritual and sacrifice that required the arcane knowledge of the priesthood. Because there were so many gods, it might be hard to know which one to invoke and perilous to get it wrong. There was nothing more complicated than a Roman sacrifice or more precise than the preparation of the meal offered to the god. The slightest infringement of the priestly recipe would spoil the feast and might jeopardize the affairs of Rome itself.

 Robert Turcan shows that Roman attitudes towards the gods continued to be pragmatic and opportunistic throughout the millennium covered by the book. Useful gods discovered among conquered peoples of the Empire were adopted without rejecting any from the old pantheon. Traditional worship remained strong long after the emperors converted to Christianity, and many of the early Roman Christians maintained a tactful respect for older deities.

 Up-to-date in its archaeological and epigraphic evidence, and drawing extensively on a wide range of relevant literary material, this book is ideally suited for undergraduate courses in the history of Rome and its religions. Its urbane style and lightly worn scholarship will broaden its appeal to the large number of non‑academic readers with a serious interest in the classical world.

 Robert Turcan is Professor of Roman History at the Sorbonne. He has published widely on Roman antiquity, mainly on aspects of religion. His Cults of the Roman Empire (also translated by Antonia Nevill) was published by Blackwell in 1996. His books include Mithras et le Mithriacisme (Les Belles Lettres, 1991).

Antonia Nevill has translated many books from French, including The French Republic by Maurice Agulhon, Carthage by Serge Lancel, and Rome in Late Antiquity by Bertrand Lanton.

Contents: List of Illustrations Abbreviations 1. Introduction: Pietas Romana 2. Religions of the Family and the Land 3. Religions of the City 4. Religions of the Empire 5. Conclusion: The Impact of Christianity Bibliography Guide to Further Reading Index

 The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and His Mysteries by Manfred Clauss, translated by Richard Gordon (Routledge) The Mithras cult first became evident in Rome towards the end of the first century AD. During the next two centuries, it spread to the frontiers of the Western empire. Energetically suppressed by the early Christians, who frequently constructed their churches over the caves in which Mithraic rituals took place, the cult was extinct by the end of the fourth century. Since its publication in Germany, Manfred Clauss's introduction to the Roman Mithras cult has become widely accepted as the most reliable and readable account of this fascinating subject. For the English edition, Clauss has updated the book to reflect recent research and new archaeological discoveries.

Contents: List of illustrations Preface to the English edition Translator's preface Foreword Abbreviations Contexts 1. Mitra and Mithras 2. Religious perspectives in the Roman Empire 3. Mystery religions 4. The nature of the evidence The God and his`Mysteries 5. The growth of the cult 6. Recruitment 7. The mithraeum 8. The sacred narrative 9. Ritual 10. Utensils 11. The priestly grades 12. Mithras, swift to save 13. Mithras and the other gods 14. Mithras and Christ Notes Bibliography Further reading General index Index of ancient passages Index of monuments and inscriptions.

 The Mithras cult first became evident in Rome towards the end of the first century AD. During the next two centuries, it spread to the frontiers of the Western empire. Energetically suppressed by the early Christians, who frequently constructed their churches over the caves in which Mithraic rituals took place, the cult was extinct by the end of the fourth century.

 Since its publication in Germany, Manfred Clauss's introduction to the Roman Mithras cult has become`widely accepted as the most reliable, and readable, account of this fascinating subject. For the English edition the author has updated the work to reflect recent research and new archaeological discoveries. Richard Gordon, the translator and a distinguished scholar of the subject, has provided a bibliography of further reading in English.

 Manfred Clauss is Professor of Ancient History at the Free University of Berlin. His many books include histories of Sparta and ancient Israel, as well as a concise biography of Cleopatra.

 Richard Gordon is a Senior Fellow of the University of East Anglia. He has published extensively on the history and archaeology of Roman myth and religion.

This is not a treatise on Roman religion: several justly celebrated works fulfil that function on various counts. My aim is to show the main characteristics of the part played by gods in the lives of Romans, from day to day, in the annual cycle, throughout a lifetime or in the course of history.

 I shall therefore emphasize the material aspects of each cult, its ritual forms and practices, rather than concentrate on beliefs or theology. In any case, this approach matches the sense of the Latin religio, at least in its original form and in tradition. For Cicero, a `religion' was a way of honouring the gods (religione, id est cultu deorum), and God knows there were plenty to honour in pagan Rome! It is important to set out clearly the aspects of this multiform piety in a series such as `Daily Life', which was inaugurated by a book by Jerome Carcopino that has become a classic, but in which the religious life of the Romans at the height of the Empire occupies a somewhat limited place. However, in spite of the increase in nonbelief or foreign forms of worship, even then the inhabitants of Rome remained loyal to ancestral rites more often than is thought. We must concentrate on the acts and facts of positive religion, especially after half a century of ideological and sometimes immaterial reconstructions.

 Roman religion took shape and developed in the course of history, but it is impossible to write a 'history of Roman religion'. With a few rare exceptions, the evidence we have about worship is at best datable to the last two or three centuries BC, even if it refers to earlier times and deeds, and archaeology is grudging with information about its practices. The problem of origins would lead to speculative theorizing, and any kind of narrative account would give rise to useless repetition. Moreover, the secret of the way things developed, in both the execution of rituals and the consciousness of believers, is bound to elude us; but the inveterate conservatism of the Romans implies and explains certain constants in their attitude to the gods. There is nothing strictly chronological in my account; nevertheless, its three major divisions embrace an overall historical perspective, the religions of the family and the countryside being, so to speak, first or original, whereas the religions of the Empire appeared in Rome only by virtue of a process of political and sociocultural changes marking the end of the city‑state's regime.

Although the cult of Mithras was in many ways the most unusual of the new religions of the Roman Empire, as well as the last to become popular, it has long had a special place in the educated folk memory of the English­speaking world. In England, that place was demonstrated by the extra­-ordinary public interest aroused by the discovery of a head of Mithras on the Bucklersbury House site in the City of London in September 1954, the site of the Walbrook Mithraeum. The cult‑niche of the Mithraeum at DuraEuropos in Syria, excavated in 1933‑4, is prominently displayed in the University of Yale Art Gallery, and many US public and private collections boast a Mithraic relief. This educated interest rests partly on the fame and haunting quality of Rudyard Kiplings' poem `Song to Mithras' - itself one of the leitmotivs of the later volumes of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music o f Time (1951-75) ‑ but also on the fascination of an iconography which is as suggestive as its precise meaning is obscure.

 The English‑language edition of Franz Cumont's The Mysteries of Mithras, which has hardly been out of print since its publication in 1903, is now seriously, one might say hopelessly, out of date, not least on account of the archaeological discoveries of the past century. Its only recent competitor, M. J. Vermaseren's competent but rather uninspired Mithras  (tr.1963 ), has long been unavailable. Manfred Clauss's The Roman Cult of Mithras offers just the reliable and balanced introduction for undergraduate teaching and for the general reader, taking account of all important recent archaeological discoveries, that was needed to replace Cumont. At the same time, a word about its background may be useful.

 The book was written during the late 1980s, at a time when Reinhold Merkelbach's Mithras  (1984) had made a considerable impact in Germany, though not elsewhere. Merkelbach's book was characterised by bold, imaginative writing, and bold, imaginative theories. Clauss's aim was partly to present a corrective to Merkelbach's propensity to speculate. Hence his emphasis on the archaeological material, and his resistance to going beyond what it allows one to say. Moreover, the book was of course written for a German‑speaking public, which has naturally influenced its choice of material, its focus on the Rhine­Danube frontier rather than, say, Italy or Dura‑Europos. The neoplatonic philosophical appropriations to the cult are worked out in the suggestive R. Turcan’s Mithras Platonicus: Recherches Sur L'Hellenisation Philosophique De Mithra (Etudes Preliminaires Aux Religions Orientales Dans L'Empire Romain: Brill Academic)

 Since the late 1980s, thanks to the work of David Ulansey and Roger Beck, interest in a possible astronomic‑astrological reading of the Mithraic cult‑relief has grown very substantially. This development could hardly have been foreseen a decade ago. Given Clauss's distaste for speculation, I do not think that, had he been writing the first edition now, he would have come to a conclusion much different from the one he expresses in the Foreword to Manfred Clauss's The Roman Cult of Mithras, but he would no doubt have discussed the problems involved more fully than he does. Some astronomic­astrological features in the captions to the illustrations.

Planetary Gods and Planetary Orders in the Mysteries of Mithras by Roger Beck (Etudes Preliminaires Aux Religions Orientales Dans L'Empire Romain: Brill Academic) The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World by David Ulansey (Oxford University Press) In the centuries following the conquests of Alexander the Great the dramatic unification of the Mediterranean world created exceptionally fertile soil for the growth of new religions. Christianity, for example, was one of the innovative religious movements that arose during this time. However, Christianity had many competitors, and one of the most remarkable of these was the ancient Roman "mystery religion" of Mithraism.

The teachings of the ancient Roman "mystery religion" of Mithraism-- one of the most important competitors of early Christianity-- were guarded with the utmost secrecy, revealed only to select initiates. While the Mithraists never wrote down their secret doctrines, they did leave a key to them in the cryptic iconography that filled the walls of their underground temples. Until now, all attempts to decipher this iconography have proven fruitless. Most experts have been content with a vague hypothesis that these images somehow derived from ancient Iranian religion. In this groundbreaking work, David Ulansey offers a radically different theory. He argues that Mithraic iconography was actually an *astronomical code*, and that the cult began as a religious response to a startling scientific discovery. As his investigation proceeds, Ulansey penetrates step by step the mysteries concealed in Mithraic iconography, until finally he is able to reveal the central secret of the cult: a secret consisting of an ancient vision of the ultimate nature of the universe.

Like the other "mystery cults" of antiguity, Mithraism kept its beliefs strictly secret, revealing them only to initiates. As a result, the cult's teachings were never written down. However, the Mithraists filled their temples with an enigmatic iconography, an abundance of which has been unearthed by archaeologists. Until now, all attempts to decipher this iconography have proven fruitless. Most experts have been content with a vague hypothesis that the iconography somehow derived from ancient Iranian religion.

In this groundbreaking work, David Ulansey offers a radically different theory. He argues that Mithraic iconography was actually an astronomical code, and that the cult began as a religious response to a startling scientific discovery. As his investigation proceeds, Ulansey penetrates step by step the mysteries concealed in Mithraic iconography, unitl finally he is able to reveal the central secret of the cult: a secret consisting of an ancient vision of the ultimate nature of the universe.

Brimming with the excitement of discovery--and reading like an intellectual detective story--Ulansey's compelling book will intrigue scholars and general readers alike.

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