Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.01.35
Agnès Bérenger, Éric Perrin-Saminadayar (ed.), Les entrées royales et impériales: histoire, représentation et diffusion d'une cérémonie publique, de l'Orient ancien à Byzance. de l'archéologie à l'histoire. Paris: De Boccard, 2009. Pp. 292. ISBN 9782701802572. €27.00 (pb).
Reviewed by Matthew P. Canepa, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Les entrées royales et impériales publishes the proceedings of a 2005 seminar held at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, on the topic of royal entrances. The volume includes sixteen articles with an introduction and conclusion. The editors divide the volume into four thematic, semi-chronological sections, which make it clear that classical antiquity forms the volume’s center of gravity. The first group of essays under the heading “L’influence orientale: de l'Égypte pharaonique aux royaumes hellénistiques,” presents three essays that survey Pharoanic Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Achaemenid Persia. The second section, “Des royaumes hellénistiques à l’empire romain: préparation et retoumbées d’un événement,” collects four essays that, by and large, concentrate on the Roman empire with some consideration of the Hellenistic world. The third section, “Au croisement des influences: diffusion et recuperation d’un ceremonial,” focuses on Late Antiquity, broadly defined (ca. 150-ca.700 CE) and contains several essays on a subject that has received quite a bit of previous attention in scholarship on Late Antiquity: the Roman imperial adventus. The final section, “Représentations et postérité: la réélaboration de l’événement,” groups four multifarious essays that deal with Byzantine Constantinople, Late Antique panegyric, an entry into the city of Rome by Nero, and imperial ritual in 18th century China. The chapters vary in quality and length, with some offering substantial global overviews, others offering very brief considerations, and still others offering more in-depth and richly footnotes studies.
The volume’s introduction offers a brief overview of the literature on the topic and describes the purpose of the volume, which is to offer a survey of some of the most important points in history and encourage a global synthesis on certain problems. The introduction identifies the goal of three topic groupings: 1) to identify elements of royal ceremonial and study them diachronically, intending to track the development of certain forms throughout the ages, 2) consider the individual performance of ceremonies, and 3) to study the nature of the power of ceremonies that transcends each individual culture. In reality, these goals are only addressed in a few of the essays, although such a framing in the introduction invites the reader to consider these questions, and their worth, themselves.
Pierre Tallet’s essay, “Apparations et déplacements du roi à l’époque pharaonique,” provides an overview of the sources on public ceremonial in Pharoanic Egypt of a sort that, if it was in English, it would be very useful to assign to an undergraduate Near Eastern archaeology or civilizations course. Pascal Butterlin’s “Entrées royales en méopotamie: les limites d’une démarche,” offers a more substantial survey of public ceremonial in ancient Mesopotamia, concentrating especially on the Old Babylonian period, Mari and Neo-Assyria. The author relies primarily on cuneiform textual evidence, which he puts into dialogue, where possible, with archaeological evidence. Pierre Briant offers a short essay, “Entrées royales et mises en scène du pouvoir dans l’empire achéménide et les royaumes hellénistiques,” that samples (mainly classical) textual sources on Achaemenid royal entries, with some attention paid to those of Alexander the Great. It reviews some of the same sources and observations dealt with in more detail in his magnum opus, From Cyrus to Alexander (English edition: I.B.Tauris, 2002).
Éric Perrin-Saminadayar’s substantial essay, “La préparation des entrées royales et impériales dans les cités de l’orient hellénophone, d’Alexandre le grand aux Sévères,” opens the next grouping of essays. Reflecting the editors’ goal for the volume, it concentrates on a single geographical area and tracks continuities and changes diachronically. Perrin investigates both the relationship of new performances of such ceremonies to previous civic or royal traditions and the relationship of local power bases and the dominant power. It provides an excellent study of how cities reconfigured this ritual to negotiate with a shifting array of rulers and power structures. In “L’entrée par la mer dans l’antiquité,” Rudolph Haensch, surveys textual sources on maritime entrances of sovereigns. Haensch offers a broad survey but concentrates particularly on the late Ptolemaic empire and Roman Republic. He concludes that the Hellenistic kingdoms and Athenian empire held such maritime displays in higher esteem compared to the Romans because of the greater importance that naval power held for them. Jakob Munk Højte’s “Roman Imperial Portrait Statues and the Emperor on the Move,” derives from the author’s 2005 doctoral research in which he collected all known statue bases from Augustus to Commodus (ca. 2300) to understand their geographical and chronological distribution as well as the circumstances or imperial deeds that might have motivated their dedication. In this essay he considers the connection between imperial visits and the erection of portrait statues. In specific he asks if imperial journeys were commemorated with certain types of monuments and if certain cities were more likely to erect statues compared to others. He concludes that statues were erected not for travel connected to military operations but longer stays and could be completed much later than the actual visit. Helmut Halfmann, “Les cités du monde romain, bénéficiares de la visite impériale,” offers a short essay that points out the connection between imperial visits and munificence given for public works in cities visited.
Agnès Bérenger opens the next thematic grouping, which concentrates on the imperial adventus. In her essay, “L’adventus des gouverneurs de province,” Bérenger studies the gubernatorial entrance and its relationship with imperial entrances concentrating primarily on literary and papyrological sources. In “L’adventus consulaire pendant l’Antiquité tardive,” Ralph W. Mathisen surveys the textual, numismatic and visual sources on the consular adventus. He asks to what extent did they differ from the imperial adventus. He concludes that they offered a complex event where the senatorial elite was able to, momentarily, provisionally and in a controlled manner, pretend to be the equal of the emperor. “Adventus et Salutatio” by Christophe Badel investigates the relationship between the adventus and the ceremony of greeting, the salutatio, in Late Antiquity. He first tracks its development, noting that under the early empire it took place at the city walls but in the late empire it was took place in the palace. He tracks the changes that took place in the gestures of greeting and concludes by noting the contrast between the function of the two, where the former demonstrated the emperor’s humanitas and the later took place as an epiphanic event. “Introitus infaustus. L’adventus des usurpateurs- trois examples: Galba, Vitellius, Septime Sévère,” by Egon Flaig studies the adventus in the context of considering the notion of imperial legitimacy versus acceptance, tracking the use of the adventus as a primary means of bolstering their rule and connecting with the people in three usurpations. Mikaël Nichanian’s “L’adventus médiéval à Constantinople: continuité romaine et rupture sociale aux VII-IX siècles, offers a brief chapter on the adventus from the Iconoclastic through Middle Byzantine era, largely surveying the secondary literature.
Sandrine Lerou offers an important and in-depth study of the imperial entrance under the Comnenian dynasty, drawing primarily from literary evidence. Her essay, “Les entrées à Constantinople à l’époque des empereurs Comnènes,” tracks ceremonies that departed from or incorporated aspects of the ancient ritual in new ritual creations that responded to the social, political and religious realities of the day. In the tradition of Sabine MacCormack’s early study, Bernadette Puech’s “Discours pour une entrée manqué,” deals with Roman panegryic and its relationship to the adventus. Gilles Sauron’s essay, “Néron, retour de Grèce,” studies a passage in Suetonius’ “Life of Nero,” which details a Greek-inspired ritual entry into the city of Rome which Nero enacted upon his return from Greece within the context of Roman historiography and rhetoric. Luca Gabbiani’s long essay, “Les déplacements impériaux dans la Chine du XVIIIe siècle: dimensions rituelles et politi ques,” departs from the previous essays and offers a point of comparison with China under the Qing. The author implies that there are points of fundamental difference between China and the “manière occidentale,” which, in this reviewer’s opinion are only partially true. Gabbiani characterizes the ‘Occident’ as having a need for power to be made visible through repetitive, structured, public ceremonies, and offers the Chinese emperor’s ‘invisibility’ as an alternative strategy. This is a common trope that is often repeated in such cross-cultural studies; however, a quick review of the Late Antique and Byzantine evidence demonstrates that the late Roman imperial court made equal use of the invisibility of the emperor to underscore his power and divinity (as did that of Persia). In fact one is struck by their incredible similarity despite differences in space, time and culture. Mireille Corbier’s conclusion summarizes the basic arguments of each essay but does not offer much in the way of a final analysis that would tie the essays together.
All in all, this is a respectable collection of essays that offers a broad introduction to ancient ceremonial. In addition, given its price, the volume might be useful as introductory materials for undergraduates in a Francophone university. If one is not motivated to buy the entire volume, some of the essays will be worth accessing through interlibrary loan, depending on one’s own area of interest. In this regard, the editors’ introduction and the essays of Perrin-Saminadayar, Højte, Badel, and Lerou are particularly important.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Agnès Bérenger, Eric Perrin-Saminadayar, “Entrée,” 5-10.
Pierre Tallet, “Apparations et déplacements du roi à l’époque pharaonique,” 12-24.
Pascal Butterlin, “Entrées royales en méopotamie: les limites d’une démarche,” 26-46.
Pierre Briant, “Entrées royales et mises en scène du pouvoir dans l’empire achéménide et les royaumes hellénistiques,” 47-64.
Éric Perrin-Saminadayar, “La préparation des entrées royales et impériales dans les cités de l’orient hellénophone, d’Alexandre le grand aux Sévères,” 67-90.
Rudolph Haensch, “L’entrée par la mer dans l’antiquité,” 91-99.
Jakob Munk Højte, “Roman Imperial Portrait Statues and the Emperor on the Move,” 102-10.
Helmut Halfmann, “Les cités du monde romain, bénéficiares de la visite impériale,” 111-19.
Agnès Bérenger, “L’adventus des gouverneurs de province,” 125-38.
Ralph W. Mathisen, “L’adventus consulaire pendant l’Antiquité tardive, 139-56.
Christophe Badel, “adventus et salutatio,” 157-75.
Egon Flaig, “Introitus infaustus. L’adventus des usurpateurs- trois examples: Galba, Vitellius, Septime Sévère,” 177-85.
Mikaël Nichanian, “L’adventus médiéval à Constantinople: continuité romaine et rupture sociale aux VII-IX siècles,” 187-95
Sandrine Lerou, “Les entrées à Constantinople à l’époque des empereurs Comnènes,” 221-26.
Bernadette Puech, “Discours pour une entrée manqué,” 227-43.
Gilles Sauron, “Néron, retour de Grèce,” 245-54.
Luca Gabbiani, “Les déplacements impériaux dans la Chine du XVIIIe siècle: dimensions rituelles et politiques,” 255-82
Mireille Corbier, “Conclusions,” 283-290.