Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.08.46

Joaquín Gómez-Pantoja, Hispania Epigraphica 1989-2000 (1 al 10).   Madrid:  Servicio de Publicaciones, 2006.  Pp. CD-Rom.  ISBN 84-95215-53-5.  €50.00 (individuals).  €66.00 (institutions).  



Reviewed by David Noy, University of Wales Lampeter (d.noy@lamp.ac.uk)
Word count: 2068 words

Rome's Iberian provinces have been the source of some of the most important recent discoveries in Latin epigraphy, including the Lex Irnitana and the SC de Cn. Pisone patre. Three volumes of a completely revised CIL II have already appeared. Since 1989, Hispania Epigraphica (HEp) has been providing an annual summary of publications on inscriptions up to the Visigothic period, a regional version of the service which L'Année épigraphique (AE) performs for the Roman world as a whole. HEp entries are rather more detailed than those in AE: apart from the text of the inscription, each one includes full details of the stone (size, location, etc., and a useful note on word-dividers, e.g. "interpunción: triángulo") and a summary in Spanish of the publication, as well as in many cases comments in square brackets by the editors of HEp, often expressing strong disagreement with the original publication. The most recent AE has 189 entries for the Iberian provinces, whereas each issue of HEp has over 600, and some over 1000 (practicalities of publication seem to have limited the size of the most recent issues). Of these, well over half each year refer to previously unpublished inscriptions (including, admittedly, many very fragmentary ones).

Like all such publications, the title year of HEp refers to the year covered by the volume, not the year of the volume's publication, i.e. 1989 covers epigraphic publications of 1989. Since HEp seems normally to have appeared after AE for the same year, some AE entries are themselves commented on in HEp. The most recent printed volume (no.12) covers 2002. Only four libraries in the UK hold the printed volumes. Hence the availability of volumes 1-10 on CD-ROM is greatly to be welcomed in making a valuable resource more widely accessible. This review will look first at the CD-ROM itself, and then, since HEp has not previously been reviewed in BMCR, at a small selection of the contents.

The ten volumes on the CD-ROM are in PDF format, with a left-hand-side menu giving access to each section of each volume (arranged by modern Spanish or Portuguese province; a map of ancient and modern provinces is provided from volume 5 onwards). The PDFs for volumes 1-4 have been created from photographic images rather than from text, which means that they are not electronically searchable and cannot be cut-and-pasted; the quality of some pages is not very high and Greek is particularly difficult to read. The other volumes' PDFs are based on text. Some of the accented characters in volume 10 do not display correctly in the version of Acrobat Reader provided on the CD-ROM, although they do display correctly in a more recent version. More seriously, many of the texts in volume 5 have been mangled in the process of conversion to PDF. The problem seems to have arisen mainly around bracketed text. For example, in 5.287 the text which should appear as "[Imperator C]aesar divi Vesp(asiani) f(ilius)" has come out as "[Imperator C]as(ar) iv s(asiani) f(ilius)". Similar clear examples are numerous and no doubt there are others which are less obvious. Fortunately only volume 5 is affected.

These limitations of the CD-ROM can largely be resolved by using it in conjunction with the Hispania Epigraphica section of the Ubi Erat Lupa website, an excellent resource which, as a website, offers more flexibility than the static form of a CD-ROM; it also includes inscriptions from CIL II which have not been discussed in HEp. The texts provided online have not suffered the misfortunes of volume 5 on the CD-ROM. They have HEp references and extensive bibliography, photographs in some cases, and a very usable search facility. The online texts do not, however, include all the diacriticals (e.g. underdotting) or, at least at present, Greek texts (e.g. for 7.962, a fragmentary Jewish inscription with apparently parallel texts in Greek and Latin, the online database only gives the Latin with no indication that the Greek exists). Commentaries or variant readings are also not available online, so anyone wanting full information about an inscription needs to go from the website to the CD-ROM. Another extremely useful website, not directly connected with HEp but occurring in references, is worth mentioning here: Centro CIL II, the website for the revised CIL II.

One example may help to illustrate various points about what is available on the CD-ROM and elsewhere. 4.724 is a Latin dedication from Italica of a statue to Victoria Augusta by Vibia Modesta, who originated in Mauretania and was twice flaminica. Exact details are given in the inscription of the silver, gems and gold used in the statue from whose base the text comes. A place was provided in the temple by the city council, and Modesta also provided golden busts ("capitula") of Domina Isis, Ceres (with silver hands) and Juno Regina. The inscription was mentioned in two volumes of AE before HEp began, and the publication cited in HEp (by J. González) is a revision with some new restorations, not the first publication of the text. HEp quotes from the publication González' suggested date (first half of the 3rd century). The HEp editors offer some slightly different readings and restorations, not changing the sense at all, and suggestions on understanding individual words. The Ubi Erat Lupa website entry for the text (easily found by searching for Vibia Modesta) provides a fairly low-resolution photograph, updated bibliography (AE 2001), and a slightly different text which does not incorporate all the HEp suggestions. The text given online as "II(unciarum) |(semunciae)" appears on the CD-ROM as ": £" (presumably due to the PDF conversion process). Searching for Vibia Modesta does not produce any results in the Heidelberg Epigraphische Datenbank; the Clauss-Slaby Epigraphisch-Datenbank provides the same information as Ubi Erat Lupa, without the photograph.

The CD-ROM includes the epigraphic index for each volume of HEp, in the form in which it was originally published, although revised versions for volumes 1-7 using the format of the later volumes are promised. The indexing has improved considerably over the years, and the more recent indexes include, for example, "typology" (starting in volume 6) and "literary references" (from volume 7). The section of the index entitled "Christiana" up to volume 6 became "Christianae et Judaicae" in volume 7 but reverted to "Christianae" in volume 8 despite there being some Jewish content. 9.731 is a seal with the name Samuel and a menorah, the latter clearly identifying it as Jewish, but in the absence of a "Judaicae" section in the index, anyone hoping to find Jewish material without reading every entry would miss it (they would not find it on the website either, since, although searching by English keywords is possible there, "Jewish" is not one of them). In other respects the small number of Jewish inscriptions are given due attention, and in 9.39 the editors vigorously defend the Jewishness of three mosaic inscriptions from Elche against a new attempt to argue that they are Christian.

The majority of inscriptions in HEp could come from anywhere in the Latin-speaking world: standard epitaphs, dedications, statue bases, milestones, decrees by city councils, etc. Some people commemorated their origins elsewhere in the Roman Empire: several were born at Rome; a Samnite gladiator was born in Greece (6.525); a Christian called Thecla came from Egypt (10.700); and Julia Glyconis from Nicomedia had a Latin epitaph put up by her two sons when she died at Mérida aged 45 (5.92). Two inscriptions provide an answer to a debated question in Latin literature. In Petronius' Satyricon (ch.30), an inscription in Trimalchio's house refers to the master as "our Gaius" ("C. noster"), something which commentators have taken as showing lax discipline and over-familiarity on the part of the household. However, there is a dedication by a freed paedagogus to "M(arco) n(ostro)" (1.527) and another by a steward to "C. n(ostro)" (5.314), so Petronius only reproduced normal epigraphic practice. There is also an example from Spain of a "beware of the dog" mosaic (3.417), found as a painting in Trimalchio's house (Sat. 29).

There are, however, many distinctive features of inscriptions from the Iberian provinces. Local deities with more or less latinised names abound, such as Mavus (7.976) and Moclevus (7.698); there is an extensive index of "Hispanic divinities" in each volume. There are also many indigenous personal names. 3.415, datable to 87 BC, contains a list of magistrates such as "Lubbus Urdinocum Letondonis filius". 1.291, the dedication of a gate by local notables dated to 49 BC and thus the oldest inscription from the Cordoba region, names one of the the benefactors as Binsnes, "xvir maxsumus". An example of particular significance in the UK is "Boudica Flacci filia" (2.803), since whose publication it has become normal to write the name of the Iceni queen with only one c. There are also a small number of inscriptions in native languages ("Paleohispánicas" in the index), mostly of very debated interpretation. Visigothic inscriptions in Latin contain many features of Medieval Latin, particularly in the "pizarras": pieces of slate used for the same sort of writing (mainly business transactions, but also school exercises and religious texts) as wood or ostraka in other provinces, mainly from Lusitania (e.g. 3.30-87). Some regional peculiarities can be observed earlier, such as the recurrence of the phrase "pius in suis" in epitaphs. A dating system using a local era also emerged in Late Antiquity, usually designated by "era" or "cos" (for consulatu). In one case (7.35), the HEp editors show that "aera DLX depundius" means year 562 (AD 524).

Greek appears mainly in Christian epitaphs, but with a few earlier examples, e.g. 7.289, an altar dedicated to theoi epekooi, named as Helios and others, and some curse inscriptions (7.326-7). 7.1131 is a gold ring of the 3rd or 4th century with an apparently magical inscription in Greek asking "Theos Hypsistos" not to be unjust and adding "great is his name". According to the summary of the publication (there are no additional HEp comments), the god referred to is probably Zeus but could be the Judaeo-Christian god. In fact the adjective hypsistos is also applied to Serapis (5.1060).

The Iberian provinces are very rich in municipal inscriptions such as various leges municipiorum (e.g. 4.835) which have acquired huge bibliographies. The early spread of the epigraphic habit means that there are some from the 1st and even the 2nd century BC, including the submission of local communities to Roman rule (deditio), e.g. by the Populus Seanocum in 104 BC (2.151). Inscriptions record the co-option of leading Romans such as Asinius Gallus as patrons (1.458, 3.247) and the tessera hospitalis which set up a relationship between communities and individuals and their descendants (e.g. 1.645). Other reminders of the early stages of Roman rule include slingshots with the name of Sertorius (1.356, 362); the brief existence of a provincia Transduriana mentioned in an edict of Augustus inscribed on bronze (7.378); and a man described as "princeps Cantabrorum", Doviderus son of Amparamus, commemorated with a conventional Latin epitaph (7.380).

Emperors inevitably feature prominently. Some striking examples include: a bronze inscription pledging loyalty to Augustus, Gaius, Lucius and Agrippa Postumus ("M. Agrippae Augusti nepotis"), the oldest such one known from the Western Empire (2.623, 5.694); a dedication to Tiberius after his adoption but before he became emperor (1.215); the erasure of Domitian's name from the Aqua Nova Domitiana Augusta at Cordoba (1.251); a statue base for Philip dedicated by the province of Baetica (1.248); evidence of the damnatio memoriae of Gallienus (5.87); a milestone of Julian (7.519).

Anyone who has emerged with an aching back and covered with dust after a session with CIL will appreciate having inscriptions in a form accessible from a desktop anywhere, although we are still a long way from the epigraphic utopia of having all information about an inscription available at the click of a mouse, or even from easily knowing where to click for the information. It is not likely that anyone other than a reviewer will want to go through ten volumes of HEp page by page, but the convenience of being able to do so at home rather than in a library is clear. Electronic publication offers other advantages too: ease of searching; updatable bibliographies and concordances. The epigraphy of the Iberian provinces seems to be particularly well-served electronically, and although the CD-ROM version of HEp has some shortcomings, it will be extremely useful in conjunction with other resources.

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