Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.07.39

Carl Deroux (ed.), Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History, vol. XV. Collection Latomus 323.   Bruxelles:  Éditions Latomus, 2010.  Pp. 527.  ISBN 9782870312643.  €76.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by Andy Crane, University of Kent (

[A table of contents can be found at the end of the review.]

Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History XV forms part of the ever-increasing Latomus Collection and is intended as an English language supplement to the multi-lingual Latomus journal. As such, and as with all the previous volumes in the Studies in the Latin Literature and Roman History series, there is no overarching theme tying articles together. Rather, works within this volume range from early Roman chronology to the reception of Virgil in medieval French literature. The work is, therefore, structured in chronological order according to the main focus of each of the twenty five articles.

The volume opens with Aleksandr Koptev’s Timaeus of Tauromenium and Early Roman Chronology. The scope of this article is wider than the title would suggest, however, and considers questions as to why Timaeus wrote about Rome and his dating of the Trojan War before considering his influence on the chronology of later Roman historians.

Rosemary Moore discusses an equally long period of Roman history when examining the role of women in the castra from “prior to the Late Republic” (49) to the first century of empire. The nature of the evidence available means that Moore starts from generalities in the earlier period, but then moves on to the specific examples of Fulvia, Agrippina and Plancina. Moore argues that the increased role of women in military matters reflected an increased social freedom for elite Roman women more generally. Furthermore, because the named women were acting in their husbands’ interest and in their stead (even if not always with their express permission), they were not “an independent threat to the formal military structure” (77). The fear they created was rather due to the unofficial nature of the role they subsumed. Moore contends that this fear was based on the recognition of female influence in the civilian world.

Margaret H. Williams takes aim at Erich Gruen’s conclusion that the attacks on the Jews of the city of Rome were gestures, rather than actions motivated by genuine crimes or threats, and that the Romans in fact knew little of the Jews living among them.1 It is the second of these two hypotheses that is most convincingly dismembered. In contrast, Williams’ argument about the expulsion of 139BC is particularly thin, ultimately based on one far from certain line of Nepotianus in Valerius Maximus. However, the evidence presented for the imperial expulsions is much stronger, and Williams’ article asks important questions of this aspect of Gruen’s work, which largely remains the standard text for these events.

Radd K. Ehrman contributes a brief review of hope (and false hope) and the sea in Plautus’ Rudens.

David P. Kubiak reassesses the alleged Ciceronian erotic epigram in Pliny’s letter to Pontius Allifanus (7.4). Kubiak’s attacks on earlier attempts to understand the epigram are mostly convincing. However, his conclusion that in an age of companionate marriages the poem cannot be a purely literary exercise due to the offence it might cause Terentia is not so convincing, as this argument is based on the assumption that Cicero would respect his wife enough not to want to offend her, but wouldn’t respect her enough to understand the possibility that such a work could be purely literary.

Michael B. Charles looks at troop transport in the mid-late Republic before a more detailed assessment of the civil war of 49-45. The focus on the civil war years allows for a more general appraisal of military requisitioning and its propagandist presentation in Caesar’s narrative.

The parallels between the prodigies announcing the future reigns of Augustus and Seleucus are the subject of David Engels’ contribution. Engels believes the similarities are too stark to be explained “by the imitatio Alexandri or with reference to the Egyptian context alone” (172). Engels concludes that as there were probably several different traditions of Octavian-related prodigies, those that survive in Suetonius represent only one Egyptian or Syrian strand that seems to appear first during the civil wars with Mark Antony. This was a time when comparison with the Ptolemies’ ancestral enemy would be a logical propagandistic choice.

In the clearest example of a thematic connection between the articles, Harry Snijder also examines evidence relating to Octavian’s divine birth, turning to the identity of the unnamed child in Virgil’s fourth Eclogue. Snijder shows connections between the divine child and descriptions of Augustus from the Aeneid and imperial histories. He also shows that the Romans could believe in a man.s becoming divine during his own lifetime, which means that a symbolic interpretation is not necessary and also helps solve chronological problems within the poem, as we may be dealing with a divine re-birth.

Lee Fratantuono argues that Acestes’ portent of the fiery arrow in Aeneid V should be seen as foreseeing the death of Pallas in Book XI.

Yvan Nadeau also focuses on one event in the Aeneid: Aeneas’ tree felling for the funeral of Misenus in Book VI. Nadeau connects this to four other events:: the building of the Portus Iulius; the theme of the Golden Age; the ships of Paris; and Aeneas and Caesar and the defeat of Sextus Pompeius. He then examines the story of Erysichthon in Ovid’s Metamorphoses using linguistic and thematic parallels between the two destructions of sacred groves to illustrate how Ovid subverted the themes in Virgil to show the damaging elements of Augustus’ Rome.

Although ostensibly about Horace Satires 2.8, Dunstan Lowe’s discussion also has a Virgilian focus. Lowe claims that Satires 2.8 draws much of its imagery from the epic theme of the feast of the Harpies and that Virgil’s presentation of this scene in Aeneid III was in turn influenced by Horace’s final Satire. Lowe’s argument hinges on the similarities between the additions made to the Apollonian model by both Horace and Virgil.

Continuing with Horace, R.T. Scott attempts to rescue Odes 4 from a century of disparagement, demonstrating that its construction can be shown to be as precise as that of Odes 1-3. As part of this argument, Scott offers an alternative identification of the Vergilius in 4.12, suggesting the M. Vergilius Gallus who is commemorated in CIL X.4862 rather than the famous poet. Scott admits that this will not settle the issue, but it is an intriguing suggestion that would solve an otherwise glaring anachronism.

Bernard J. Kavanagh presents a study of Vistilia, a woman reported by Pliny the Elder as having had 7 children by 6 different husbands (NH 7.39). Kavanagh briefly traces the known careers of Vistilia’s children and grandchildren. Of her six sons, four became consuls, and her only daughter married Caligula. Two consuls are also known from her grandsons and another empress in her granddaughter Domitia Longina. The article further suggests that the cycle of marriage, childbirth and divorce seen in Vistilia may provide evidence as to why the Lex Iulia de Maritandis of 18BC needed to be strengthened in 9AD with the Lex Papia Poppaea.

Gottfried Mader’s article on Seneca’s Phoenissae convincingly argues that while both Oedipus and Antigone engage in Stoic rhetoric, neither is consistent in their stance. Oedipus is betrayed by his own furor and Antigone by her enveloping pietas, but both represent the central themes of the fractured self and disjointed values. Mader’s final conclusion, however, is much more speculative than the rest of his contribution. He suggests that the prominence of the regnum motif means that the play could perhaps be intended to end where the manuscripts break off, with Eteocles’ final words being as powerful as his later fratricide would be.

Stephen M. Kershner discusses the significance of Statius’ elevation of Lucan to the head of his ranking of great poets and his self-representation as a Horatian priest of the Muses, concluding that the purpose of both these claims is to promote Statius’ own role as poet.

The series editor, Carl Deroux, returns for a third time to the subject of Cordus in Juvenal Satire 3. Here, he briefly highlights the evidence that Cordus himself may have been a poet and the significance this adds to the objects described within his house.

Two articles on Tacitus follow. The first, by L. Foubert, argues that Tacitus used the narrative technique of parallel lives in order to apply the traditional image of matronae to evaluate the imperial women. This is demonstrated with the examples of Livilla, Plancina, Messalina and both the younger and elder Agrippina. Interestingly, this article echoes ideas found in Moore’s article (49-78), particularly the dux femina and the suggestion that the wives of leaders could be deliberately characterised to highlight elements of their husbands’ portraits.

The second Tacitus article, by Caroline A. Perkins, draws parallels between Caecina and his army in the Histories. This work owes much to Rhiannon Ash, who completed a similar valuable study on the armies and generals of Galba, Otho, Vitellius and the Flavians.2 However, Perkins goes further than Ash - who looked at the generals and armies in isolation - by highlighting the shared characteristics of the army and their general and examining the effects this had on both.

Keith Bradley draws attention to the historiographic features of Pliny’s letters and then advocates a return to a more strictly historical approach, akin to that of the commentary of Sherwin-White.3 He then applies this method to claim that Pliny intended his letters to have a moralising purpose, presenting exemplary behaviour from historical characters (and his own life) to expound a practical guide to public and private life.

Julian Bennett provides a detailed analysis of the epigraphic evidence for the deployment of auxiliary cohorts during Trajan’s Parthian War. Barry Baldwin takes a similarly focused approach to a very different topic by dissecting the contemporary allusions in the Historia Augusta.

Alberto J. Quiroga argues that Ambrose believed silence could be a rhetorical tool rather than an impairment and that “in a more practical sense, silence helped Ambrose articulate a social, religious and political agenda” (464).

Neil Adkin provides further etymological supplements to Marangoni’s own supplement of Maltby’s Lexicon from Servius and Servius Auctus.

Robert E. Colton highlights areas of Claudian’s In Eutropium that show signs of Juvenal’s influence. Although over 30 such examples are offered, an analysis beyond the immediate linguistic adoptions is limited. As is often the case with this type of investigation, some examples are inevitably weaker than others. For example, 1,1-8 seems to have more in common with portents in Virgil and Lucan than Juvenal.

The final article sees Raymond J. Cormier turn to medieval French literature and the use of Cerberus in Le Roman d’Eneas. In an article that is probably of more interest to scholars of French than Latin literature, Cormier demonstrates that although Le Roman d’Eneas is an adaptation of the Aeneid, the presentation of Cerberus also owes a debt to the Georgics and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

In sum, Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History XV continues the work of the previous 14 volumes by providing a wide-ranging and high quality supplement to the journal Latomus. Its lack of any connecting theme means it is unlikely to appeal to the general reader, but the quality of the contributions means the series would be a useful addition to any university classics library. The only surprises for a publication of this standard are in odd inconsistencies in the formatting. First , while the majority of the contributors do not provide a bibliography, Foubert and Bradley do; Foubert in the last footnote, Bradley in the first. Second , translations do not appear in a uniform way: some are supplied in the body of the text with the original language in the footnote (e.g. Moore), some are in the body of the text immediately following the original language (e.g. Colton), some are in the footnotes (e.g. Cormier), while other contributors do not supply translations at all (e.g. Kershner).


A. Koptev, Timaeus of Tauromenium and Early Roman Chronology 5
R.Moore, Roman Women in the Castra : Who’s in Charge Here 49
M. H. Williams, The Disciplining of the Jews of Ancient Rome: Pure Gesture Politics? 79
R. K. Ehrman, Hope from the Sea in Plautus’ Rudens 103
D. P. Kubiak, An Erotic Epigram of Cicero? 110
M. B. Charles, Caesar and the Maritime Troop Transport in the Civil War (49-45 B.C.) 130
D. Engels, Prodigies and Religious Propaganda: Seleucus and Augustus 153
H. Snijder, The Cosmology of Octavian’s Divine Birth in Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue 178
L. Fratantuono, Seraque terrifici: Archery, Fire, and the Enigmatic Portent of Aeneid V 196
Y. Nadeau, Naulochus and Actium, the Fleets of Paris and Aeceas, and the Tree-felling of C Iulius Caesar Erysichton 219
D. Lowe, Burnt Offerings and Harpies at Nasidienus’ Dinner-Party (Horace, Satires 2, 8) 240
R. T. Scott, There’s Nothing Wrong with Horace, Odes 4 258
B. J. Kavanagh, The Marriages, Motives and Legacy of Vistilia 271
G. Mader, regno pectus attonitum furit: Power, Rhetoric and Self-division in Seneca’s Phoenissae 287
S. M. Kershner, Statius as Horatian Priest of the Muses in Siluae 2, 7 311
C. Deroux, More on the Subject of Cordus in Juvenal’s Third Satire 335
L. Foubert, Literary Constructions of Female Identities: the Parallel Lives of Julio-Claudian Women in Tacitus’ Annals 344
C. A. Perkins, Looking in the Mirror: Caecina and His Army in the Histories of Tacitus 366
K. R. Bradley, The Exemplary Pliny 384
J. Bennett, Auxiliary Deployment during Trajan’s Parthian War: Some Neglected Evidence from Asia Minor 423
B. Baldwin, ‘Contemporary’ Allusions in the Historia Augusta 446
A. Quiroga, Quid est gloria, si tacetus? Silence in Ambrose’s De Officiis 463
N. Adkin, Further Supplements to Marangoni’s Supplementum Etymologicum : Servius and Sevius Auctus on Virgil 473
R. E. Colton, Echoes of Juvenal in Claudian’s In Eutropium 492
R. J. Cormier, After Virgil’s Aeneid : a Medieval Variation on the Monster Dog Cerberus 517


1.   E.S. Gruen, Diaspora: Jews amidst Greeks and Romans, Cambridge, Mass., and London, 2002, pp.15-53.
2.   R. Ash, Ordering Anarchy: Armies and Leaders in Tacitus’ Histories, Ann Arbor, 1999.
3.   A. Sherwin-White, The Letters of Pliny: A Historical and Social Commentary, Oxford, 1966.

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