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The Poetry of Venantius Fortunatus
The Humblest Sparrow is a superbly illuminating study of one of the major Latin poets of late antiquity. Every chapter is marked by a thorough, accurate, and up to date knowledge of the historical and material setting of the Merovingian upper classes. As a deep treatment of Fortunatus' poetry, this book will surely appeal to readers with a serious interest in the Latin verse of late antiquity. ---William Klingshirn, Catholic University of America In The Humblest Sparrow, Michael Roberts illuminates the poetry of the sixth-century bishop and poet Venantius Fortunatus. Often regarded as an important transitional figure, Fortunatus wrote poetry that is seen to bridge the late classical and earlier medieval periods. Written in Latin, his poems combined the influences of classical Latin poets with a medieval tone, giving him a special place in literary history. Yet while interest has been growing in the early Merovingian period, and while the writing of Fortunatus' patron Gregory of Tours has been well studied, Fortunatus himself has often been neglected. This neglect is remedied by this in-depth study, which will appeal to scholars of late antique, early Christian, and medieval Latin poetry. Roberts divides Fortunatus' poetry into three main groups: poetry of praise, hagiographical poetry, and personal poetry. In addition to providing a general survey, Roberts discusses in detail many individual poems and proposes a number of theses on the nature, function, relation to social and linguistic context, and survival of Fortunatus' poetry, as well as the image of the poet created by his work. Michael Roberts is Robert Rich Professor of Latin at Wesleyan University. Jacket illustration: L. Alma Tadema, Venantius Fortunatus Reading his Poems to Radegonda VI AD 555. (Courtesy of Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum.) Also of Interest Abandoned Women: Rewriting the Classics in Dante, Boccaccio, and Chaucer, by Suzanne Hagedorn The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton, by J. Christopher Warner Early Modern Autobiography: Theories, Genres, Practices, edited by Ronald Bedford, Lloyd Davis, and Philippa Kelly
Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius
Caesar Augustus promoted a modest image of himself as the first among equals (princeps), a characterization that was as popular with the ancient Romans as it is with many scholars today. Paul Rehak argues against this impression of humility and suggests that, like the monarchs of the Hellenistic age, Augustus sought immortality—an eternal glory gained through deliberate planning for his niche in history while flexing his existing power. Imperium and Cosmos focuses on Augustus’s Mausoleum and Ustrinum (site of his cremation), the Horologium-Solarium (a colossal sundial), and the Ara Pacis (Altar to Augustan Peace), all of which transformed the northern Campus Martius into a tribute to his major achievements in life and a vast memorial for his deification after death.
Rehak closely examines the artistic imagery on these monuments, providing numerous illustrations, tables, and charts. In an analysis firmly contextualized by a thorough discussion of the earlier models and motifs that inspired these Augustan monuments, Rehak shows how the princeps used these on such an unprecedented scale as to truly elevate himself above the common citizen.
Vedic and Roman Cult
In Indo-European Sacred Space, Roger D. Woodard provides a careful examination of the sacred spaces of ancient Rome, finding them remarkably consistent with older Indo-European religious practices as described in the Vedas of ancient India. Employing and expanding on the fundamental methods of Ã‰mile Benveniste, as well as Georges Dumezil's tripartite analysis of Proto-Indo-European society, Woodard clarifies not only the spatial dynamics of the archaic Roman cult but, stemming from that, an unexpected clarification of several obscure issues in the study of Roman religion. _x000B_Looking closely at the organization of Roman religious activity, especially as regards sacrifices, festivals, and the hierarchy of priests, Woodard sheds new light on issues including the presence of the god Terminus in Jupiter's Capitoline temple, the nature of the Roman suovetaurilia, the Ambarvalia and its relationship to the rites of the Fratres Arvales, and the identification of the "Sabine" god Semo Sancus. Perhaps most significantly, this work also presents a novel and persuasive resolution to the long standing problem of "agrarian Mars."_x000B__x000B__x000B_
The school of Greek philosopher Epicurus, which became known as the Garden, famously put great stock in happiness and pleasure. As a philosophical community, and a way of seeing the world, Epicureanism had a centuries-long life in Athens and Rome, as well as across the Mediterranean. The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus studies how the Garden's outlook on pleasure captured Greek and Roman imaginations---particularly among non-Epicureans---for generations after its legendary founding. Unsympathetic sources from disparate eras generally focus not on historic personages but on the symbolic Epicurean. And yet the traditions of this imagined Garden, with its disreputable women and unmanly men, give us intermittent glimpses of historical Epicureans and their conceptions of the Epicurean life. Pamela Gordon suggests how a close hearing and contextualization of anti-Epicurean discourse leads us to a better understanding of the cultural history of Epicureanism. Her primary focus is on sources hostile to the Garden, but her Epicurean-friendly perspective is apparent throughout. Her engagement with ancient anti-Epicurean texts makes more palpable their impact on modern responses to the Garden. Intended both for students and for scholars of Epicureanism and its response, the volume is organized primarily according to the themes common among Epicurus' detractors. It considers the place of women in Epicurean circles, as well as the role of Epicurean philosophy in Homer and other writers.
Coinage appeared at a moment when it fulfilled an essential need in Greek society and brought with it rationalization and social leveling in some respects, while simultaneously producing new illusions, paradoxes, and new elites. In a book that will encourage scholarly discussion for some time, David M. Schaps addresses a range of important coinage topics, among them money, exchange, and economic organization in the Near East and in Greece before the introduction of coinage; the invention of coinage and the reasons for its adoption; and the developing use of money to make more money. David M. Schaps is Professor of Classics at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
On the boundary of what the ancient Greeks and Romans considered the habitable world, Ireland was a land of myth and mystery in classical times. Classical authors frequently portrayed its people as savages—even as cannibals and devotees of incest—and evinced occasional uncertainty as to the island’s shape, size, and actual location. Unlike neighboring Britain, Ireland never knew Roman occupation, yet literary and archaeological evidence prove that Iuverna was more than simply terra incognita in classical antiquity. In this book, Philip Freeman explores the relations between ancient Ireland and the classical world through a comprehensive survey of all Greek and Latin literary sources that mention Ireland. He analyzes passages (given in both the original language and English) from over thirty authors, including Julius Caesar, Strabo, Tacitus, Ptolemy, and St. Jerome. To amplify the literary sources, he also briefly reviews the archaeological and linguistic evidence for contact between Ireland and the Mediterranean world. Freeman’s analysis of all these sources reveals that Ireland was known to the Greeks and Romans for hundreds of years and that Mediterranean goods and even travelers found their way to Ireland, while the Irish at least occasionally visited, traded, and raided in Roman lands. Everyone interested in ancient Irish history or Classics, whether scholar or enthusiast, will learn much from this pioneering book.
Civic virtue and the type of education that produces publicly minded citizens became a topic of debate in American political discourse of the 1980s, as it once was among the intelligentsia of Classical Athens. Conservatives such as former National Endowment for the Humanities chairman William Bennett and his successor Lynn Cheney held up the Greek philosopher Aristotle as the model of a public-spirited, virtue-centered civic educator. But according to the contributors in this volume, a truer model, both in his own time and for ours, is Isocrates, one of the preeminent intellectual figures in Greece during the fourth century B.C. In this volume, ten leading scholars of Classics, rhetoric, and philosophy offer a pathfinding interdisciplinary study of Isocrates as a civic educator. Their essays are grouped into sections that investigate Isocrates’ program in civic education in general (J. Ober, T. Poulakos) and in comparison to the Sophists (J. Poulakos, E. Haskins), Plato (D. Konstan, K. Morgan), Aristotle (D. Depew, E. Garver), and contemporary views about civic education (R. Hariman, M. Leff). The contributors show that Isocrates’ rhetorical innovations carved out a deliberative process that attached moral choices to political questions and addressed ethical concerns as they could be realized concretely. His notions of civic education thus created perspectives that, unlike the elitism of Aristotle, could be used to strengthen democracy.
The Poetics of Power in Late Antiquity
In histories of ancient Jews and Judaism, the Roman Empire looms large. For all the attention to the Jewish Revolt and other conflicts, however, there has been less concern for situating Jews within Roman imperial contexts; just as Jews are frequently dismissed as atypical by scholars of Roman history, so Rome remains invisible in many studies of rabbinic and other Jewish sources written under Roman rule.
Jews, Christians, and the Roman Empire brings Jewish perspectives to bear on long-standing debates concerning Romanization, Christianization, and late antiquity. Focusing on the third to sixth centuries, it draws together specialists in Jewish and Christian history, law, literature, poetry, and art. Perspectives from rabbinic and patristic sources are juxtaposed with evidence from piyyutim, documentary papyri, and synagogue and church mosaics. Through these case studies, contributors highlight paradoxes, subtleties, and ironies of Romanness and imperial power.
Contributors: William Adler, Beth A. Berkowitz, Ra'anan Boustan, Hannah M. Cotton, Natalie B. Dohrmann, Paula Fredriksen, Oded Irshai, Hayim Lapin, Joshua Levinson, Ophir Münz-Manor, Annette Yoshiko Reed, Hagith Sivan, Michael D. Swartz, Rina Talgam.
Law, Communication, and Control
As the first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine the Great has long interested those studying the establishment of Christianity. But Constantine is also notable for his ability to control a sprawling empire and effect major changes. The Justice of Constantine examines Constantine's judicial and administrative legislation and his efforts to maintain control over the imperial bureaucracy, to guarantee the working of Roman justice, and to keep the will of his subjects throughout the Roman Empire. John Dillon first analyzes the record of Constantine's legislation and its relationship to prior legislation. His initial chapters also serve as an introduction to Roman law and administration in later antiquity. Dillon then considers Constantine's public edicts and internal communications about access to law, trials and procedure, corruption, and punishment for administrative abuses. How imperial officials relied on correspondence with Constantine to resolve legal questions is also considered. A study of Constantine's expedited appellate system, to ensure provincial justice, concludes the book. Constantine's constitutions reveal much about the Theodosian Code and the laws included in it. Constantine consistently seeks direct sources of reliable information in order to enforce his will. In official correspondence, meanwhile, Constantine strives to maintain control over his officials through punishment; trusted agents; and the cultivation of accountability, rivalry, and suspicion among them.
In ancient Greece, interstate relations, such as in the formation of alliances, calls for assistance, exchanges of citizenship, and territorial conquest, were often grounded in mythical kinship. In these cases, the common ancestor was most often a legendary figure from whom both communities claimed descent. In this detailed study, Lee E. Patterson elevates the current state of research on kinship myth to a consideration of the role it plays in the construction of political and cultural identity. He draws examples both from the literary and epigraphical records and shows the fundamental difference between the two. He also expands his study into the question of Greek credulity—how much of these founding myths did they actually believe, and how much was just a useful fiction for diplomatic relations? Of central importance is the authority the Greeks gave to myth, whether to elaborate narratives or to a simple acknowledgment of an ancestor. Most Greeks could readily accept ties of interstate kinship even when local origin narratives could not be reconciled smoothly or when myths used to explain the link between communities were only “discovered” upon the actual occasion of diplomacy, because such claims had been given authority in the collective memory of the Greeks.