Bryn Mawr Classical Review 03.03.17


H. Solin and M. Kajava (edd.), Roman Eastern Policy and other studies in Roman History. Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 91. Helsinki: 1990. Pp. 174. ISBN 951-653-208-X.


Reviewed by David Potter, The University of Michigan.

This volume was inspired by a visit that Fergus Millar made to Finland in 1987. It includes an article by Millar on Roman coloniae in the Near East, an article by Mika Kajava on the epigraphic evidence for senatorial women in the Greek East, and five other papers on various aspects of Roman cultural and administrative history. It is rather a mixed bag, though the individual contributions are all interesting in and of themselves.

Millar's article is a major piece of work, examining three stages of "colonial" foundation in the Near East. The first is Augustan, represented only by Berytus. The second occurred in the mid-second century, when three cities received colonial status in and around Judaea; the third is Severan, at which time it is clear that colonia had come to have the same implications as other civic titles like "metropolis," marking a status to which a city could aspire within the province rather than an indication of Roman settlement or culture. Millar then goes on to examine extremely complicated questions of administrative, social and linguistic integration. A full discussion of this paper would require an article in and of itself.

Kajava's article is limited to the Republican and Augustan periods, and it is accompanied by a catalogue, organized by city, of places where women of the senatorial class are honored. It is a useful collection for illustrating the point that the wives of Roman administrators began accompanying their husbands to the provinces in greater numbers under the principate. Kajava's further observations that in this period senatorial women were not honored as independent and private persons, but rather in role of wife, daughter or mother, and that "even if no male relatives were mentioned in the inscription, there is good reason to believe that the act of honoring a woman derived from the activity of her husband or father" (p. 104) are of more general interest to the study of the status of aristocratic women at this period. Katariina Mustakallio's article, "Some aspects of the story of Coriolanus and the Women behind the cult of Fortuna Muliebris," is an interesting piece arguing that the cult (celebrated at a site four miles outside Rome) was established as a "sacral defense of Rome," and its "maternal and constructive aspects" mark it out as a rival to "destructive male manhood" (p. 131).

Christer Bruun offers a short study of the office of curator aquarum, looking at the issue of its discontinuance in the second century AD after a string of distinguished holders of that office up until the time of Trajan. The paper does no more than confirm a couple observations by Eric Birley and Ronald Syme, one being that such offices were essentially honorary ("paid leave" as Birley put it) and that when they lapsed the duties continued to be exercised by the procurators, who had been doing the work anyway. The one issue that Bruun addresses anew is that it seems paradoxical that the office should be abolished by the "pro-senatorial" Trajan, or Hadrian. Just how "pro-senatorial" either of the rulers was should, however, be regarded as a very open question indeed. Hadrian was clearly loathed by a substantial number of senators (hence the difficulty that Pius encountered in arranging his deification), and there is evidence to suggest that the outward signs of autocracy were enhanced under Trajan him self. This point emerges from Simon Price's important article on imperial funerals in D. Cannadine and S.R.F. Price, eds., Rituals of Royalty. Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies (Cambridge, 1987). There is a lot more work to be done on the evolution of the imperial office in the second century.

The final three articles deal with various aspects of Roman Italy. Timo Sironen offers an interesting discussion of native Italian peoples and the inhabitants of Magna Graecia, showing that Greek culture had a profound influence on life outside the cities of the region, where, as Ennius tells us, the population in the third century was bilingual in Oscan and Greek (l. 477 Skutsch). Heikki Solin looks at two aspects of the administrative history of Roman Capua. In the first case, he argues that the inscriptions listing the magistri Campani, show that the magistri (mostly the descendants of freedmen) were not, as has been argued in the past, the "principal tool" of the municipal administration. His second point is that the series of well-carved Capuan grave stelai that have traditionally been dated to the Republic could continue into the empire. An article by Hannu Laaksonen on the administrative history of Formiae concludes this volume.

On the whole this is a worthwhile volume with some interesting material, even though the spread of subjects falls well short of the unity that a collection of essays should ideally have.