Table of Contents (Volume 30-31)
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).
Volume 31: 2017
Paul Johnstono, Rumor, Rage, and Reversal: Tragic Patterns in Polybius’ Account of Agathocles at Alexandria (1-20)
Abstract: Polybius’ Histories include numerous digressions devoted to condemning writers who penned sensationalized, or tragic, history. According to Polybius, tragic history tended toward invention rather than strict truth, because its purpose was to entertain rather than educate. Polybius’ harsh words for popular historians did not stop him from occasionally indulging a sensational edge. His account of the regency and overthrow of Agathocles at Alexandria merits special attention in a consideration of Polybian historiography, for not only did Polybius compose a dramatic, sensational narrative, he also ended the account with a sharp rebuke to any historian who would use the fall of Agathocles to spin a grand yarn. The story is rife with corruption, unrest, and violence, but in the final tally Polybius drew no moral lesson from it. These factors invite consideration of the historian’s undivulged purposes in crafting an account that showed, rather than told, a historical lesson.
Frances Pownall, Dionysius I and the Creation of a New-Style Macedonian Monarchy (21-38)
Abstract: The influence of the royal ideology of the Achaemenid Persians on Philip and (especially) Alexander of Macedon has increasingly been recognized, but the role of Dionysius I of Syracuse in their creation of a new-style Macedonian monarchy has received less attention. I examine some aspects of the royal ideology of both Philip and Alexander that appear to be modelled upon precedents inaugurated by Dionysius: self-fashioning as the god Dionysus, the wearing of purple (which conveyed both elite status and magnificent display), the adoption of the diadem, the donning of ornate festal clothing previously reserved for athletic victors and performers on the stage, and the desire to engage in theatrical performances themselves. The biased portrayal of the Macedonian court by the Greek sources and the apologetic tradition on Alexander have given rise to the popular misconception that he gave little thought to his ruling ideology until his ‘orientalism’ following his conquest of Persia, denying any influence in its development either to Philip or to Dionysius, who as the ruler of a large multi-ethnic empire was his only real predecessor in the Greek world.
Christopher Kegerreis, Setting a Royal Pace: Achaemenid Kingship and the Origin of Alexander the Great’s Bematistai (39-65)
Abstract: Alexander the Great’s campaign significantly expanded Greek knowledge of Central Asia. While several experts assisted in this geographical collection process, none were as important as the bematistai, Alexander’s distance-measurers. The data collected by these specialists served as the foundation of Hellenistic mapping for the newly conquered regions. This paper is a reevaluation of the bematistai, notably their origin and the manner in which they collected their measurements. While the limited scholarly discussion concerning them has generally assumed that the specialty developed prior to the start of Alexander’s Asian campaign, this study suggests instead that Alexander borrowed from Achaemenid Persian collection practices and initiated this specialty unit mid-campaign. This late origination date demands a reconsideration of the methods the bematistai used to acquire measurements. While it has been suggested that they utilized measuring lines or even a primitive odometer to arrive at their measurements, a mid-campaign development suggests instead that these calculations were the product of pace counting.
Waldemar Heckel, Dareios III’s Military Reforms Before Gaugamela and the Alexander Mosaic: A Note (65-9)
Abstract: Nylander contends that the Persian infantry adopted the Makedonian sarissa before the battle of Gaugamela, having experienced the effectiveness of Makedonian weaponry at Issos. In support of this view he cites a passage from Diodorus, who says that the Persians were armed with longer spears. Hence, he argues that the sarissas depicted on the Alexander Mosaic, which point in the direction of Alexander, are those of the Persian infantry. Unfortunately, the term used by Diodorus for the lengthened spears is xysta. The xyston was a thrusting spear employed by cavalrymen, not infantry. In fact, the parallel passage in Curtius shows that the military reforms pertained to the cavalry and not the infantry. Badian cites Nylander’s work with approval, adding that the sarissa-bearers on the right side of the Alexander Mosaic are in fact Persians. A close look at the Mosaic shows that this is not the case. Neither the literary nor the artistic evidence supports the use of the sarissa by the Persian infantry. Nor can it be argued on these grounds that the Alexander Mosaic depicts the battle of Gaugamela.