Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.11.33

Rory B. Egan, Mark A. Joyal, Daimonopylai: Essays in Classics and the Classical Tradition presented to Edmund G. Berry.   Winnipeg:  University of Manitoba Centre for Hellenic Civilization, 2004.  Pp. xv, 496.  ISBN 0-9734982-0-X.  CAN $30.00 (pb).  

Contributors: R. Beck, D. Bright, J. Chlup, C. Cooper, M. Cosmopoulos, R. Egan, M. Fox, J. Gahan, R. Clendinning, R. Gold, M. Golden, A. Gordon, J. Grant, D. Guth, J. Harris, I. Henderson, B. Hijmans, M. Joyal, M. Lawall, B. Levett, K. Lord, A. McKay, J.B. Melnyk, D. Pentland, P. Portnoy, P. Ripat, A. Schachter. J. Shelton, C. Steer, W. Stevens, L. Stirling, J. Tamm, R.S.D. Thomas, H. Williams, J. Wortley

Reviewed by John Aveline, University of British Columbia (
Word count: 2662 words

This Festschrift has as its unifying theme the fact that the contributors have "some connection with the schools, colleges or universities of Winnipeg during the course of Professor Berry's presence here."(vii) This is quite a broad spectrum given that Edmund Berry began his career in Winnipeg in 1940. The 34 essays, which cover the fullest imaginable range of classical inquiry, are arranged in alphabetical order by author's name. This review shall provide only a very brief description of each essay. It would take a scholar of Edmund Berry's experience to comment intelligently on every single paper, and the result would be a review of stupendous length. The essays are listed in the order in which they appear in the book and I have included their length in page numbers to give the reader a guideline as to the scope and depth of the discussion.

1) Roger Beck "Dancing at the Spirit Gates: A Mithraic Ritual Recovered from Proclus (in Remp. 2.128.26ff. Kroll)" (6 pp) builds on his earlier work on the progress of the soul as constructed in Mithraism and adds the argument that when Proclus described Numenius' theory of souls "leaping", he is actually describing an element in the ritual of Mithraism. This essay provides a fitting start to the book as it discusses the two gates by which the soul travels from heaven to earth and back.

2) David F. Bright "The Crucifixion of the Poet: Catullus and Eldridge Cleaver" (13 pp) compares and contrasts Catullus 85 with Cleaver's "To a White Girl" and finishes by suggesting that Cleaver may well have been exposed to and influenced by Catullus.

3) James T. Chlup "Vir Magnus ac Memorabilis Fuit: Livy on the Death of Cicero" (12 pp) examines the surviving epitome of Livy's death notice and obituary for Cicero and its reception by Seneca. He shows how these two passages can help in the understanding of Livy's portrayal of Cicero in the lost books of AUC and how this indicates his assessment of the Late Republic.

4) Craig Cooper "'The Appearance of History': Making Some Sense of History" (23 pp) argues that Plutarch's Lives lean toward history or biography depending upon his predecessors. If previous authors have written biographical accounts of a figure, Plutarch leans toward a more historical account of that figure's life. The reverse is also true.

5) Michael B. Cosmopoulos "An Early Bronze Age Findgroup from Eleusis" (7 pp) describes the discovery of Early Helladic pottery sherds at Eleusis and cites them as evidence that human habitation at Eleusis dates back further than previously believed, to the mid-third millennium B.C.

6) Rory Egan "Eros, Eloquence and Entomo-psychology in Plato's Phaedrus" (23 pp) argues that the cicadas described in Plato's Phaedrus have an even deeper and more wide-ranging "allusive significance". Egan discusses how cicadas are represented as the servants of the Muses and are used as metaphors and symbols for mystic initiation, rebirth and immortality, eloquence and the intelligence of the philosopher. He takes this further by noting how certain sections and phrases in Phaedrus with the repetition of certain consonantal sounds very closely mimic the sound of the cicada.

7) Michael Fox "Bis Gravidae Pecudes: Vergil, Georgics 2.150 and Genesis 31:7-8" (7 pp) compares the references of great fecundity found in Genesis 31:7-8 and Vergil's Georgics 2.150, noting that this provides one of the rare occasions when biblical commentators cite Vergil as an authority.

8) John J. Gahan "Epictetus as Therapist" (8 pp) discusses how Tom Wolfe's 1998 A Man in Full makes use of Epictetus' Stoic philosophy and how this is a practical application of Lou Marinoff's (founding president of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association) suggestion that accredited philosophers serve as therapists in the model of psychologists and psychiatrists. He concludes by briefly drawing a parallel between A Man in Full and Apulieus' Metamorphoses.

9) Robert Glendinning "Words Without a Song: The Challenge of the Carmina Burana 62" (21 pp) provides a complex analysis of Carmina Burana 62 which includes a discussion of metrical and rhythmic aspects, aided by a comparison with Carmina Burana 197 which is a parody of CB 62. He also argues that the second four stanzas in CB 62 are genuine and not later interpolations of an inferior author. At the beginning of his essay Glendinning provides the Latin text of CB 62 as well as a literal translation and something he refers to as a "free translation, transformation, variation, imitation". One curious point; all non-English is translated until the final page when two quotes, one in German and the other in Latin are left untranslated.

10) Robert D. Gold "Iovis Ira: Allusion and the Relegation of Ovid" (16 pp) argues that the "error" which resulted in Ovid's relegation in 8 CE was a repeated allusion to Augustus in his unflattering portrayal of Jove in the Metamorphoses.

11) Mark Golden "The Literate Revolution in Greece and its Canadian Causes: Eric Havelock and Harold Innis" (12 pp) looks for a specifically "Canadian" approach to Greek history and, after a brief survey of the most prominent Greek history scholars Canada has produced, he settles on Eric Havelock. He concludes that Havelock and Innis, who were at the University of Toronto at the same time and who had similar ideas about orality and literacy in Ancient Greece, developed their ideas independently of each other.

12) Alex L. Gordon "Self-Fashioning in the Classical Tradition: Ronsard's 'De l'Élection de son sépulcre'" (9 pp) discusses Pierre de Ronsard's "De L'élection de son Sépulchre" and how he accesses classical sources for this work. He notes that Ronsard takes his inspiration from his classical models but then applies them for his own purposes in ways that are very different from their original classical applications.

13) John N. Grant "Textual Criticism of Classical Texts in Erasmus' Adagia"(17 pp) points out that there are several correct textual emendations which should be credited to Erasmus in his Adagia but are mostly credited to other, later writers. Grant notes that Erasmus, although by no means infallible, was an excellent critical reader.

14) DeLloyd J. Guth "Erasmus and More, Jaeger and Berry: The Renaissance Model for a Humanist" (6 pp) draws a parallel between the relationship between Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More and the relationship between Edmund Berry and his doctoral supervisor, Werner Jaeger. He focuses on Erasmus' definition of the model Renaissance humanist as embodied by More.

15) John P. Harris "Τέχνη and Θεία Μοῖρα in Plato's Ion"(10 pp) discusses how Plato in his Ion makes the concepts τέχνη and θεία μοῖρα mutually exclusive so as to separate the poet, Ion's, divine gift from his craft and force Ion to choose between the two. This topic is very close to Edmund Berry's own doctoral thesis which discussed θεία μοῖρα.

16) Ian H. Henderson "Christians, "Schools" and Greek Literacy" (10 pp) questions the "underlying presupposition" that there was a recognizable Greco-Roman school system by which Christian teachers and students not only learned the skills to fight against paganism but also had a forum to proselytize their religion.

17) Ben Hijmans "Centaurs in Love: An Old Man's Memory" (12 pp) analyses the apostrophe of Cyllarus and Hylonome in Ovid's description of the battle of the Lapiths and the Centaurs in Metamorphoses 12. He sees in Ovid's description of the two centaurs an imitation of art and a subject matter that is worthy of the poet's craft.

18) Mark Joyal "The Language and Style of the Old Oligarch" (19 pp) discusses in some detail the language and style of the Old Oligarch in the context of determining its place in the development of intellectual thought and ancient Greek prose. He determines that the author does not employ symmetry or antithesis to the extent that Thucydides or Gorgias did but established his own style which emphasized clarity and ἀκρίβεια.

19) Mark Lawall "Nothing to do with Mendaian Amphoras? Athenaeus 11.784C" (9 pp) deconstructs the theory, based on Athenaeus 11.784C, that Cassander, the ruler of Macedonia in the late fourth century B.C. had a special amphora designed for exporting Mendaian wine. Although it is tempting to conclude that a distinctive shape of amphora was created to be identified with the newly found city of Cassandreia and that we have here an example "commodity advertising", a critical reading of Athenaeus, taking the context of the passage into account, 'casts doubt on this interpretation.

20) Brad Levett "Similarities in Generic Variations in Euripides' Ion and Sophocles' Philoctetes"(17 pp) compares the deus ex machina, the mêchanêma and the anagnôrisis as used in Euripides' Ion and Sophocles' Philoctetes to show how these plays are similar as compared to other plays written around the same time, such as Helen and Iphigeneia at Tauris. He concludes that the use and interaction of these dramatic devices bear striking similarities. He also notes that the integration of the deus ex machina in these plays obviates a single 'over-riding explanation' of this dramatic technique.

21) Kristin Lord "Mythmaking and the Construction of the Feminine in Sappho and Eaven Boland" (27 pp) discusses the influence of Sappho, and especially fragments 1, 16 and 92, on the Irish poet, Eavan Boland. Lord extensively analyzes these three poems by Sappho and then describes how they affected Boland's works, "Degas's Laundresses" and "The Journey". She notes how Sappho guides Boland in much the same way as Aphrodite guided Sappho, although the analogy is not exact because of the cultural and social difference between the poets.

22) Alexander G. McKay "Dido's Court Philosopher" (11 pp) notes how Epicurean philosophy influences the portrayal and behaviour of Dido and her court in Vergil's Aeneid. He suggests that Iopas, her court philosopher, be identified with Juba II, the king of Numidia and polymath writer.

23) David H. Pentland "Manitoba 'DAIMONOPYLAI'" (9 pp) offers an etymology for 'Manitoba', arguing that it is from the Ojibwa manitowapaw, meaning "spirit narrows".

24) Phyllis Portnoy "Biblical Remnants in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Old English" (22 pp) gives a detailed account of the theme of the "remnant" in the Old Testament to demonstrate that this theme also occurs in Old English, in particular, the Junius Codex, an eleventh-century collection of biblical poems.

25) Pauline Ripat "Longing for Victory: The Erotic Coercion of Victoria" (6 pp) offers a suggestion about one of the curse tablets published by Audollent in 1904, which has been identified as a double curse to make one Victoria fall in love with the 'practitioner' and to make one Ballincus fall from his chariot. She argues that this is a single curse to gain victory over the charioteer Ballincus.

26) Albert Schachter "Politics and Personalities in Classical Thebes" (15 pp) looks at critical points in the history of Thebes between 480 BC and 379 BC and relates how the leading men in Thebes were influenced in their policies not by patriotism or doctrine but by ambition and peer loyalty.

27) Jo-Ann Shelton "Dancing and Dying: The Display of Elephants in Ancient Roman Arenas" (20 pp) discusses how the Romans' abuse and killing of elephants in spectacle was a demonstration of Rome's ability to control the natural world and conquer and dominate its enemies. She gives particular attention to Pompey's disastrous elephant spectacle in 55 B.C.E. In Shelton's analysis of the audience sympathetic reaction to the elephants' seeming appeal for mercy, she might have compared this scene to one in which the spectators clamour for clemency for a gladiator who has fought bravely but lost.

28) Carol E. Steer "City Slicker versus Country Bumpkin: Farmers in the Acharnians of Aristophanes and the Dyskolos of Menander" (14 pp) examines how city life and country life are portrayed in Greek comedy by looking at Aristophanes' Acharnians and Menander's Dyskolos. She notes that city dwellers are generally portrayed negatively whereas there are two, distinct portrayals of farmers. They are either honourable and hard-working or they are miserly, anti-social and boorish.

29) Wesley M. Stevens "Circulus, Triangulus, Epidonicus: Geometrical Difficulties with Latin Lexicography" (30 pp) provides a very detailed analysis of the meanings for Latin geometrical terms as found in the major medieval and modern Latin lexica. He shows that "the research tools upon which we depend" contain very few of the meanings for geometrical terms as they would have been understood in the classical Roman world and, as a result, are unreliable.

30) Lea Stirling "Archaeological Evidence for Food Offerings in the Graves of Roman North Africa" (25 pp) evaluates literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence regarding the type of foods offered and eaten at graves in Roman North Africa. She discusses the difficulties in interpreting the evidence and the caution required in reaching conclusions as to what offerings and meals were consumed at grave-sites.

31) John Tamm "Roman Drinking Silver: Terms, Forms and Functions" (15 pp) examines the Latin vocabulary for Roman drinking silver with a close reading of the texts in which such vocabulary is used. This reading is placed against the back-drop of the artistic renderings of drinking vessels as well as archaeological finds. He concludes that, whereas it is possible to confidently identify some names (calathus, cantharus, cyathus and phiala) with forms, there are other words which are best translated by generic English terms to avoid confusion since there is considerable doubt in identifying name and form (calix, crater, lagona and scyphus).

32) R.S.D. Thomas "Euclid's Non-Euclidean Geometry" (10 pp) argues that Euclid's Elements was not a compendium of mathematics as it was known when he wrote. He engages in a technical discussion of theorems on small and great circles which supports his case that Euclid developed these theorems rather than repeating things which he regarded as obvious.

33) Hector Williams "Gladiator Representations on Egyptian Lamps in Vancouver" (8 pp) publishes four pottery lamp fragments from Roman Egypt which are in the collection of the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia. All four lamps depict gladiators, and Williams identifies three of the four with known, intact lamps that have been published.

34) John Wortley "The Legend of Constantine the Relic-Provider" (10 pp) deconstructs the idea, which originated in the ancient world and has been repeated by scholars, that Constantine the Great was the instigator of Constantinople's relic collection.

In general, the quality of the essays is quite high. There is an enormous range in the level of expertise required to appreciate any one paper. Some (2, 8, 11) can easily be understood by non-academics. Others (32 stands out in this regard) are accessible only to experts. The editors have done a good job of gathering such a large number of papers and presenting them in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Their touch has been light, almost to excess. In particular, there is no consistency in the translation of non-English. In some cases all or virtually all the Greek and Latin has been translated (1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 34), in others no or almost no translation has been provided (3, 17, 18, 20, 21, 29, 31). There is one paper (7) which offers translations for longer passages in Latin, but not for individual phrases. There are also papers for which the issue of translation does not arise (5, 8, 11, 14, 16, 23, 33). The result is that the essays are not all accessible to the same audience.

On the other hand, there are very few errors. The first one I noticed was on page 275 ('The social initiation of the young as well may be present as well'). Also, on page 344 the text reads 'though' instead of 'through' and on page 379 Sydenham is written Sydneham. On page 433 a footnoted citation refers to pages 535-526. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the fact that the author of this citation is not to be found in the bibliography. Still, the editors' task of collecting and organizing such a large number of papers was a formidable one and has been very successfully accomplished.

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