Table of Contents (Volume 30)

Volume 30: 2016

ERIC ADLER, Effectiveness and Empire in Tacitus’ Agricola, (1-14).

Abstract: Many scholars contend that Tacitus’ praise for Nerva and Trajan in the Agricola was heartfelt: only as his literary career developed did Tacitus prove condemning of the Roman Empire as a system. This article, in keeping with Bartsch’s notion of imperial doublespeak, argues against this claim, stressing that in the Agricola Tacitus can also be read as subtly undercutting the praise he included for the current emperors. It maintains that a key to Tacitus’ implicit criticism of imperial authoritarianism in the Agricola rests on the matter of effectiveness. Unlike all other categories of Roman leaders in the work, “good” emperors lack the ability to be effective agents of change. The Agricola thus carries important hints that Tacitus, far from disdaining Domitian alone, can also be interpreted as deeming the monarchical control of Rome problematic under any circumstances.


JENS JAKOBSSON, Dating of Timarchus, the Median Usurper. A Critical Review, (15-26).

Abstract: In this article, a later dating (c. late 161– 160/159 BC) is discussed for the rebellion of Timarchus in Media and Babylonia against the Seleucid king Demetrius I. This later dating is supported by Diodorus Siculus and Appian, while cuneiform evidence shows that Demetrius I was recognised as king in Babylonia as early as 161 BC, and Demetrius’ first Babylonian coins celebrate the defeat of Timarchus. The previous Seleucid king, Antiochus V, however, was acknowledged in cuneiform documents but issued very few coins in the Seleucid east. With this parallel, the author suggests that Demetrius may have been recognised as king in Babylonia before Timarchus’ brief invasion but only issued coins there after Timarchus’ defeat.


SALVATORE VACANTE, Wetlands and Environment in Hellenistic Sicily: Historical and Ecological Remarks, (27-42).

Abstract: The achievement of a comprehensive and satisfying environmental picture of ancient Sicily has so far eluded modern historians. The absence of convincing conclusions on the role effectively played by wetlands in the Greek period is particularly striking. In the early first millennium BCE, Sicily was an ecologically multi-faceted island. However, some relevant ecological modifications rapidly took place in the island. The evidence shows that in most of the Central-Eastern Mediterranean Basin indiscriminate deforestation and agriculture rapidly caused soil erosion, alluvial deposition, and formation of extensive marshes in the late Classical – early Hellenistic period. There is no reason to assume that Sicily made exception to this general process. However, although serious environmental imbalances likely assumed significant proportions here, an overall understanding of local phenomena is far from being achieved. The aim of the present contribution is therefore to provide new information and suggest possible interpretative models for local ecological processes in the proposed historical framework.


ANDRZEJ DUDZIŃSKI, Diodorus’ use of Timaeus, (43-76).

Abstract: It is quite widely accepted that the main source for at least most of the Sicilian parts of Diodorus Siculus’ Bibliotheke Historike was the lost work of Timaeus of Tauromenion.1 Although this attribution has become a basis of some bold historical interpretations,2 it also raises an important question—is Diodorus’ dependence on Timaeus established firmly enough for historical hypotheses to be build on this basis? In this article I will try to answer this question by careful examination of the positive evidence for Diodorus’ use of Timaeus’ work. I shall, however, limit myself to the evidence firmly based in the Timaean fragments as collected by Felix Jacoby in his Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. The aim of this article is neither a wide and complete study of Diodorus’ use of Timaeus, nor a disproving of Diodorus’ use of the earlier historian’s work altogether—it is merely to examine the positive and reliable evidence of Diodorus’ use of Timaeus’ work in order to create a sound basis for any further inquiry.


STANLEY BURSTEIN, Ptolemy III and the Dream of Reuniting Alexander’s Empire, (77-86).

Abstract: In this article it will be argued that Ptolemy III’s Asian campaign was subsequently reinterpreted in Egypt to minimize the extent of the king’s ultimate failure. In contrast to the Alexandria decree of 243 BC with its triumphal account of Ptolemy’s march to Susa, where he recovered divine statues looted by the Persians, the Canopus Decree of 238 BC treats the repatriation of the statues as the highlight of the campaign while limiting reference to its military aspects to a vague allusion to Ptolemy “fighting on behalf of Egypt against many peoples and their rulers.” Nevertheless, the fact remains that when Ptolemy III saw an opportunity to reunite much of Alexander’s empire, he took advantage of it; and that suggests that the seemingly more prudent foreign policies followed by Ptolemy III’s successors did not result from their adherence to an abstract doctrine of defensive imperialism as Polybius and his modern followers maintain, but from the practical reality that such policies were the wisest, and often, the only course available to them in the difficult political circumstances they faced.


PAUL KEEN, Political Power and the Decline of Epichoric Languages and Writing Systems in Hellenistic Cyprus, (87-102).

Abstract: The goal of this paper is to explore the ways in which power relations and issues of cultural and group identity interacted to form the epigraphic record in Hellenistic Cyprus. In eliminating the institution of Cypriot kingship, the Ptolemies also changed the relational aspects of power as epigraphically commemorated on the island. Deprived of the driving force behind the public epigraphy of the fourth century (i.e., the city- kings), and under control of the multi-ethnic Ptolemaic military-administration, Cypriots appear in many ways to have adopted the manner of commemorating power relationships employed by the imperial agents, and abandoned local writing systems in favor of a more communicable script and language to do so. Long used to autocratic rule, Cypriot cities and elites sought not to replicate the forms of expression used in their past, but instead adapted themselves to the new imperial situation brought on by the court culture and relational power dynamics of Hellenistic Kingship.

FRANÇOIS GAUTHIER, The Changing Composition of the Roman Army in the Late Republic and the So-Called “Marian-Reforms”, (103-120).

Abstract: This paper will examine the Marian Reforms, with particular focus on the alleged transformation of recruiting, equipment, and training. It will argue that the Marian Reforms are a myth created by modern historiography. What Marius did was neither new nor permanent—there is little convincing evidence for such “Marian” reforms, nor is there good evidence for the presence of large numbers of proletarii in the army after Marius. Thus, speaking of a “post-Marian army” is misleading as this entails that the Roman military was quickly and profoundly transformed by a single individual.


CHRISTOPHER TUPLIN, Fragmented Historiography: Sniffing out Literature in a Sharp-nosed Historian, (121-130).

Review Essay: E. Occhipinti’s The Hellenica Oxyrhyncia and Historiography (Leiden: Brill. 2016).


AHB promotes scholarly discussion in Ancient History and ancillary fields (such as epigraphy, papyrology, and numismatics) by publishing articles and notes on any aspect of the ancient world from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity. Although contributors are encouraged to submit articles in English, submissions in French, German, Italian, and Spanish are welcome. AHB appears twice per year in double-issues (1-2 and 3-4).

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