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Fraternal "Pietas" in Roman Law, Literature, and Society
Stories about brothers were central to Romans' public and poetic myth making, to their experience of family life, and to their ideas about intimacy among men. Through the analysis of literary and legal representations of brothers, Cynthia Bannon attempts to re-create the context and contradictions that shaped Roman ideas about brothers. She draws together expressions of brotherly love and rivalry around an idealized notion of fraternity: fraternal pietas--the traditional Roman virtue that combined affection and duty in kinship. Romans believed that the relationship between brothers was especially close since their natural kinship made them nearly alter egos. Because of this special status, the fraternal relationship became a model for Romans of relationships between friends, lovers, and soldiers.
The fraternal relationship first took shape at home, where inheritance laws and practices fostered cooperation among brothers in managing family property and caring for relatives. Appeals to fraternal pietas in political rhetoric drew a large audience in the forum, because brothers' devotion symbolized the mos maiorum, the traditional morality that grounded Roman politics and celebrated brothers fighting together on the battlefield. Fraternal pietas and fratricide became powerful metaphors for Romans as they grappled with the experience of recurrent civil war in the late Republic and with the changes brought by empire. Mythological figures like Romulus and Remus epitomized the fraternal symbolism that pervaded Roman society and culture. In The Brothers of Romulus, Bannon combines literary criticism with historical legal analysis for a better understanding of Roman conceptions of brotherhood.
War in Words
Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with Latin knows “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” (“All Gaul is divided into three parts”), the opening line of De Bello Gallico, Julius Caesar's famous commentary on his campaigns against the Gauls in the 50s BC. But what did Caesar intend to accomplish by writing and publishing his commentaries, how did he go about it, and what potentially unforeseen consequences did his writing have? These are the questions that Andrew Riggsby pursues in this fresh interpretation of one of the masterworks of Latin prose. Riggsby uses contemporary literary methods to examine the historical impact that the commentaries had on the Roman reading public. In the first part of his study, Riggsby considers how Caesar defined Roman identity and its relationship to non-Roman others. He shows how Caesar opens up a possible vision of the political future in which the distinction between Roman and non-Roman becomes less important because of their joint submission to a Caesar-like leader. In the second part, Riggsby analyzes Caesar's political self-fashioning and the potential effects of his writing and publishing the Gallic War. He reveals how Caesar presents himself as a subtly new kind of Roman general who deserves credit not only for his own virtues, but for those of his soldiers as well. Riggsby uses case studies of key topics (spatial representation, ethnography, virtus and technology, genre, and the just war), augmented by more synthetic discussions that bring in evidence from other Roman and Greek texts, to offer a broad picture of the themes of national identity and Caesar's self-presentation.
The laments of captive women found in extant Athenian tragedy constitute a fundamentally subversive aspect of Greek drama. In performances supported by and intended for the male citizens of Athens, the songs of the captive women at the Dionysia gave a voice to classes who otherwise would have been marginalized and silenced in Athenian society: women, foreigners, and the enslaved. The Captive Woman's Lament in Greek Tragedy addresses the possible meanings ancient audiences might have attached to these songs. Casey Dué challenges long-held assumptions about the opposition between Greeks and barbarians in Greek thought by suggesting that, in viewing the plight of the captive women, Athenian audiences extended pity to those least like themselves. Dué asserts that tragic playwrights often used the lament to create an empathetic link that blurred the line between Greek and barbarian. After a brief overview of the role of lamentation in both modern and classical traditions, Dué focuses on the dramatic portrayal of women captured in the Trojan War, tracing their portrayal through time from the Homeric epics to Euripides' Athenian stage. The author shows how these laments evolved in their significance with the growth of the Athenian Empire. She concludes that while the Athenian polis may have created a merciless empire outside the theater, inside the theater they found themselves confronted by the essential similarities between themselves and those they sought to conquer.
In this provocative book Éric Rebillard challenges many long-held assumptions about early Christian burial customs. For decades scholars of early Christianity have argued that the Church owned and operated burial grounds for Christians as early as the third century. Through a careful reading of primary sources including legal codes, theological works, epigraphical inscriptions, and sermons, Rebillard shows that there is little evidence to suggest that Christians occupied exclusive or isolated burial grounds in this early period.
In fact, as late as the fourth and fifth centuries the Church did not impose on the faithful specific rituals for laying the dead to rest. In the preparation of Christians for burial, it was usually next of kin and not representatives of the Church who were responsible for what form of rite would be celebrated, and evidence from inscriptions and tombstones shows that for the most part Christians didn't separate themselves from non-Christians when burying their dead. According to Rebillard it would not be until the early Middle Ages that the Church gained control over burial practices and that "Christian cemeteries" became common.
In this translation of Religion et Sépulture: L'église, les vivants et les morts dans l'Antiquité tardive, Rebillard fundamentally changes our understanding of early Christianity. The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity will force scholars of the period to rethink their assumptions about early Christians as separate from their pagan contemporaries in daily life and ritual practice.
Much of the modern world's knowledge of criminal court trials in the Late Roman Republic derives from the orations of Cicero. His eleven court trial speeches have provided information about the trials and the practices of the time period. Records of the prosecution's case are lost; these speeches, our only transcripts of the time, were delivered by the defense. The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era attempts to restore the judicial balance by depicting the lost side of the trial. Guided by Cicero's argument, Michael C. Alexander recreates the prosecution's case against the defendants in the trials. Organized into eleven chapters, each detailing one trial, the core of the work discusses the different dimensions of each trial, the circumstances surrounding the cases, those involved, the legal charges and allegations made by the prosecution, the ways in which the prosecution might have countered Cicero's rebuttal and the outcome. There is also a discussion concerning particular problems the prosecution may have faced in preparing for the trial. This book reveals strong points in favor of the prosecution; justifies the hope of the prosecutor, a private citizen who had volunteered to undertake the case; and asks why the prosecutors believed they would come out victorious, and why they eventually failed. The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era draws on ancient rhetorical theory and on Roman law to shed light on these events. It will interest historians and classicists interested in Ciceronian oratory and those intrigued by legal history. Michael C. Alexander is Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois, Chicago.
Style in Greek Literature
Well before Aristotle’s Rhetoric elucidated the elements of verbal style that give writing its persuasive power, Greek poets and prose authors understood the importance of style in creating compelling characters to engage an audience. And because their works were composed in predominantly oral settings, their sense of style included not only the characters’ manner of speaking, but also their appearance and deportment. From Homeric epic to classical tragedy and oratory, verbal and visual cues work hand-in-hand to create distinctive styles for literary characters. In this book, Nancy Worman investigates the development and evolution of ideas about style in archaic and classical literature through a study of representations of Odysseus and Helen. She demonstrates that, as liars and imitators, pleasing storytellers, and adept users of costume, these two figures are especially skillful manipulators of style. In tracing the way literary representations of them changed through time—from Homer’s positive portrayal of their subtle self-presentations to the sharply polarized portrayals of these same subtleties in classical tragedy and oratory—Worman also uncovers a nascent awareness among the Greek writers that style may be used not only to persuade but also to distract and deceive.
From Poetic Translation to Elite Transcription
In the past decade, classical scholarship has been polarized by questions concerning the establishment of a literary tradition in Latin in the late third century BCE. On one side of the divide, there are those scholars who insist on the primacy of literature as a hermeneutical category and who, consequently, maintain a focus on poetic texts and their relationship with Hellenistic precedents. On the other side are those who prefer to rely on a pool of Latin terms as pointers to larger sociohistorical dynamics, and who see the emergence of Latin literature as one expression of these dynamics. Through a methodologically innovative exploration of the interlacing of genre and form with practice, Enrica Sciarrinobridges the gap between these two scholarly camps and develops new areas of inquiry by rescuing from the margins of scholarship the earliest remnants of Latin prose associated with Cato the Censor—a “new man” and one of the most influential politicians of his day. By systematically analyzing poetic and prose texts in relation to one another and to diverse authorial subjectivities, Cato the Censor and the Beginnings of Latin Prose: From Poetic Translation to Elite Transcription offers an entirely new perspective on the formation of Latin literature, challenges current assumptions about Roman cultural hierarchies, and sheds light on the social value attributed to different types of writing practices in mid-Republican Rome.
Cows and Culture in the World of the Ancient Greeks
Though Greece is traditionally seen as an agrarian society, cattle were essential to Greek communal life, through religious sacrifice and dietary consumption. Cattle were also pivotal in mythology: gods and heroes stole cattle, expected sacrifices of cattle, and punished those who failed to provide them. The Cattle of the Sun ranges over a wealth of sources, both textual and archaeological, to explore why these animals mattered to the Greeks, how they came to be a key element in Greek thought and behavior, and how the Greeks exploited the symbolic value of cattle as a way of structuring social and economic relations.
Jeremy McInerney explains that cattle's importance began with domestication and pastoralism: cattle were nurtured, bred, killed, and eaten. Practically useful and symbolically potent, cattle became social capital to be exchanged, offered to the gods, or consumed collectively. This circulation of cattle wealth structured Greek society, since dedication to the gods, sacrifice, and feasting constituted the most basic institutions of Greek life. McInerney shows that cattle contributed to the growth of sanctuaries in the Greek city-states, as well as to changes in the economic practices of the Greeks, from the Iron Age through the classical period, as a monetized, market economy developed from an earlier economy of barter and exchange.
Combining a broad theoretical approach with a careful reading of sources, The Cattle of the Sun illustrates the significant position that cattle held in the culture and experiences of the Greeks.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.
Women and the Pre-History of the Great Chain of Being
In Centaurs and Amazons, Page duBois offers a prehistory of hierarchy. Using structural anthropology, symbolic analysis, and recent literary theory, she demonstrates a shift in Greek thought from the fifth to the fourth century B.C. that had a profound influence upon subsequent Western culture and politics. Through an analysis of mythology, drama, sculpture, architecture, and Greek vase painting, duBois documents the transition from a system of thought that organized the experience of difference in terms of polarity and analogy to one based upon a relatively rigid hierarchical scheme. This was the beginning of "the great chain of being," the philosophical construct that all life was organized in minute gradations of superiority and inferiority. This scheme, in various guises, has continued to influence philosophical and political thought. The author's intelligent and discriminating use of scholarship from various fields makes Centaurs and Amazons an impressive interdisciplinary study of interest to classicists, feminist scholars, historians, art historians, anthropologists, and political scientists.
Performing Politics in Rome between Republic and Empire
In Ceremony and Power, Geoffrey Sumi is concerned with the relationship between political power and public ceremonial in the Roman Republic, with particular focus on the critical months following Ceasar's assassination and later as Augustus became the first emperor of Rome. The book traces the use of a variety of public ceremonies, including assemblies of the people, triumphs, funerals, and games, as a means for politicians in this period of instability and transition to shape their public images and consolidate their power and prestige. Ultimately, Sumi shows that the will of the people, whether they were the electorate assembled at the comitia, the citizen body at the contio, the spectators at the theater, the crowd at the triumph, or mourners at a funeral, strongly influenced the decisions and actions of Roman aristocrats.