Bryn Mawr Classical Review 98.4.10


J. Linderski (ed.), Imperium Sine Fine: T. Robert S. Broughton and Roman Republic. Historia Einzelschriften 105. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1996. Pp. ix, 234, 14 figs.


Reviewed by R.T. Scott, Bryn Mawr College.

As Linderski describes in his preface, this volume of papers dedicated to the memory of T. R. S. B. is the result of a colloquium held at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in November, 1994. Of the original papers given there four appear here, to which others have been added to bring the volume to its present complement of nine.

It begins with G. W. Houston's Annals of the Broughton years, based to a considerable degree on an unpublished memoir written by Broughton himself late in his long and fruitful life. Although the year by year accounts are given in imitation of MRR, the single cursus revealed is a remarkably lively one and indeed illuminates not only the breadth of his travels exploring the Roman empire, how and when his idea for the study of the magistrates came about, but also, because Broughton spent so many years at Bryn Mawr College with Lily Ross Taylor (the College owed its good fortune to the repulse he received from the President of Johns Hopkins after having been nominated to succeed Tenney Frank), the reader incidentally learns a good deal of the College's history as well. H. concludes with a personal appreciation of Broughton's years as teacher, colleague and friend in Chapel Hill.

From remembered conversations we pass to conversations that never took place. Ronald Ridley did not know Broughton personally, but offers an original contribution on Broughton and Munzer, who likewise never had an opportunity to talk shop together: when Broughton got seriously under way with MRR in the early forties, Munzer had already died in confinement at Theresienstadt (1942), yet R. succeeds in creating the impression of discourse between these two outstanding prosopographical scholars of the Roman republic, their points of agreement and disagreement, as these emerge from their works. Of the two Broughton appears the more conservative perhaps, Munzer the bolder in some of his solutions, but, despite disagreements between the two, we have Broughton's own words to show how important he considered Die römische Adelsparteien u. Adelsfamilien to be.

Following R., T.P. Wiseman elegantly mixes prosopography, historiography and topography in an investigation of the ancestral pedigree of the gens Minucia, whose name and associations with the grain supply survived the republic in the early imperial Porticus Minuciae in the campus Martius. W. deconstructs the information contained about the family on the reverses of denarii issued ca. 135-134 by C. Minucius Augurinus and his brother Ti. Minucius C.f. Augrinus to arrive at a reconstruction of a possible early family monument and its location at the base of the Aventine, but also casts doubts on the authenticity of some early names in MRR by highlighting mendacious or eccentric historiographical tendencies of the mid-republican period.

Deconstruction is also very much in evidence in Robert E. A. Palmer's article in which he accomplishes the following. Beginning with a new restoration of the text of Festus 462/464 L different from Mommsen's, P. goes on to predicate that the sacrifice to Saturn, Graeco ritu, introduced in Rome in 217 is involved in the quarrel that may be elicited from the text of Festus, which he argues was between the famous Pontifex Maximus L. Caecilius Metellus and a recalcitrant young would-not-be Flamen, Q. Claudius. The latter resisted being captured for the office in 223 on the grounds that his clan's cult of Saturn required him to sacrifice bare headed and, ipso facto, made it impossible for him to serve as a Flamen. He was upheld subsequently by the people to whom he appealed the fine levied on him by Metellus. P. adds a number of observations on patrician priests, the persistence of clan worship in the republic and concludes with a few suggested qualifications (not all based on the arguments previously mentioned) to entries on priests in MRR.

One of Broughton's last works, Candidates Defeated in Roman Elections: Some Ancient Roman 'Also-Rans' (Philadelphia 1991), inspired the next article by C. F. Konrad (with the collaboration of Frank Ryan), which in exordio furnishes a supplement to that work. The author then takes up certain considerations having to do with getting candidates' names down in recognizable form on the ballots, a re-examination of the lamentable electoral fortunes of M. Favonius (which also involves the investigation of other careers), and how it was that Favonius finally managed to secure the plebeian aedileship in 53 or 52: when not enough hands could be distinguished on the aforementioned ballots, the suspect ones were thrown out and F. emerged a winner in the recount.

All these articles exhibit a conspicuous common reliance on MRR, which makes them especially suitable to the occasion, for, as Wiseman observes, even when the authors disagree with T. R. S. B. over a name, an office or a date, "we must also remember with gratitude that without the Magistrates of the Roman Republic such enquiries could never be undertaken at all". J. Linderski follows with a study of Pompey's father-in-law and inveterate opponent of Julius Caesar, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, whose heroic suicide in the African War in 46 (in the opinion of some people at least) made him the equal of his distinguished ancestors. The point of departure of L.'s study is a carved gem smaller than Wiseman's denarii which he impishly notes "appears to have escaped the attention of students of Roman prosopography". The reader familiar with L's meticulous scholarship may be assured that nothing having to do with Q/Scipio/Imp, his antecedents and his career (including his coinage) has escaped him. He has contributed a model RE entry and a wealth of observations on Roman institutions to the volume.

The following article by Ernst Badian on the history of the tribunate of the plebs is another in the series of his seminal studies of Roman magistrates that have appeared in recent years. While Livy predictably takes it on the chin, this is not an isolated instance of source criticism as B. undertakes to come to grips with the development of what he considers (probably fairly) an irrational institution. Much of the source material on the tribunate is admittedly confused and confusing, but B., having demonstrated how little reliable information there is for it down to the end of the third century, makes the most of what is available thereafter to discuss, inter alia, the peculiar independent status of the tribunes in the period before they acquired the right to membership in the senate and the resulting delicate relations that obtained between them and the senate before then (and even thereafter).

In the final article Erich Gruen continues his examination of the various strands in the delicate braid that sustained aristocratic ascendancy and promoted a sort of class unity amongst the nobles in the republic for so many years. The theme has occupied him since The Last Generation of the Roman Republic (1974) and found its voice in Culture and National Identity in Republican Rome (1992). In this paper he considers the varieties of aristocratic self-representation -- portrait busts, statues, the triumph, the aristocratic funeral and the like, a subject which is unfortunately ill-served by some remarkably poor black and white photographic illustrations.

The book is otherwise well made with few misprints, for which the reader may again be confident that some credit go to Jerzy Linderski, Broughton's colleague and successor as Paddison Professor of Latin at Chapel Hill, who has been responsible for the conversion of fleeting oral commemoration to written form. And it is precisely through the written word of MRR that T. R. S. B. will continue to live so long as scholars interest themselves in the history of the Roman republic. He himself, of course, in his cheerful unassuming way, would have made no such extravagant claims: at littera scripta manet.