Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2018.09.25 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.09.25

Emanuele Greco (ed.), Giornata di studi in ricordo di Luigi Beschi / Ημερίδα εις μνήμην του Luigi Beschi: Italiano, Filelleno, Studioso Internazionale. Atti della Giornata di Studi, Atene 28 novembre 2015. Tripodes, 17.   Atene:  Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene, 2017.  Pp. 316.  ISBN 9789609559089.  €69.00.  

Reviewed by Kevin Clinton, Cornell University (

[The Table of contents is at the end of the review.]

This volume honors a scholar whose expertise extended across an extraordinary range of fields of Hellenic studies—archaeology, architecture, topography, history, art history, music, and religion. All who knew him were touched by his kindness and humanity, noted by Emanuele Greco in his Premessa: “si tratta della sua affabilità, della sua cortesia: in breve Luigi era un vero signore e viene perciò naturale definirlo ‘archeologo gentiluomo.’”

This review will discuss articles on the Greek historical period.

In “Επεισόδια από τη ζωή του Σαλαμινίου Αίαντος και απόπειρες αποκρυπτογράφησης των μηνυμάτων τους,” Michalis Tiverios treats the significance of voting scenes in the competition between Salaminian Ajax and Odysseus over the arms of Achilles (κρίσις τῶν ὅπλων)—scenes that occur only in the first two decades of the fifth century B.C., on red-figured kylixes by Douris , the Brygos Painter and Makron. . The well preserved cups by Douris and the Brygos Painter clearly show scenes of voting with ψῆφοι, overseen by Athena, whereas Makron’s depiction, preserved only in fragments, is more puzzling: one fragment (f) shows Diomedes (labeled) and Athena standing next to a table with voting pebbles; another fragment (a) preserves two bearded figures identified by inscriptions as Agamemnon and Nestor (the former holds up a pebble between thumb and forefinger, the latter extends his palm to receive it); and a third fragment (c) contains a bearded figure labeled as Tydeus. However, the scene with Agamemnon and Nestor (a) is completely unlike other renderings of deposition of pebbles in voting; the author persuasively argues that it does not refer to the decision about the arms of Achilles but rather to the Greeks’ lottery to choose an opponent to Hector as in Iliad H 171-192. Thus one side of the vase has the voting scene to determine the recipient of the arms of Achilles, the other side the lottery to determine the opponent of Hector. (This assumes that the figure labeled ΤΥΔΕΥΣ, who belongs to the generation preceding that of Agamemnon and Nestor, should have been inscribed ΤΥΔΕΩΣ, “son of Tydeus,” Diomedes, who, because of his presence in the voting scene (f), should belong to the lottery event on the other side of the vase.)

The appearance of such scenes on vases in the first decades of the 5th century and never again was motivated, as Tiverios reasonably speculates, by the prominence of decisions by vote and lot in the newly constituted democracy: the mythology reflects democratic practice. In the case of the kylix by Makron the lottery scene reflects precisely κλήρωσις ἐκ προκρίτων, a prominent procedure in the early decades of the Cleisthenic democracy. Tiverios interprets the predominance of voting (as opposed to lottery) scenes among the preserved depictions as reflecting the fact that voting at Athens was reserved for choosing the more important officials and for decisions by the Demos, Boule, and courts. As a final comment, he notes that the mythological figures in voting scenes do not display their warrior status, but wear himatia and often hold canes (bakteriai), also given to Athenian jurors to identify the specific courts to which they are assigned; they are in effect assimilated to Athenians in democratic Athens.

In the longest article in the volume, “Το τρόπαιον του Μαραθώνος, αρχιτεκτονική τεκμηρίωση,” Manolis Korres gives a fascinating analysis of the architectural clues that he used to reconstruct the original design of the Trophy (the basis for the replica set up in 2004) and the evidence for the history of the monument, from its presumable beginning as a tree trunk set up immediately after the battle. (Unfortunately, pls. 7, 9, and 12 are cropped too much.) After recounting the critical work by William Leake, Eugene Vanderpool, and Beschi associating remains at Marathon with the Trophy, he hypothetically identifies, on the basis of various indications from the finds and terrain, its original location at the spot where the Persians should have begun their retreat (τροπή). Discussion of the stylistic characteristics of the unfluted Ionic column (including a helpful lesson on the production and economics of fluted and unfluted marble columns) leads to the conclusion, in agreement with Vanderpool, that the monument should be dated in the Cimonian period (second quarter of the 5th century). A similar column in the Cimonian Propylon on the Acropolis serves as a guide to the reconstruction of the base, column, and capital of the Trophy. In 2004, a few days after the erection of the replica, the author made an important discovery: two new fragments of a rectangular element (which he calls an επίθημα) situated above, and integral with, the abacus. It served as a base with a cavity for insertion of a statue. The new fragments reveal that the επίθημα is much larger than previously assumed, and its cavity held a plinth measuring ca. 137 cm. (length), 47 cm. (width), ca. 9 cm. (thickness), appropriate for a statue twice life-sized, such as the representation of Athena on Panathenaic vases.

Ida Baldassare, “Cirene e la Grecia nelle ricerche di Luigi Beschi,” has the special merit of calling attention to a funerary phenomenon that Beschi treated at length: a female bust inserted into the top of a stone sarcophagus or the roof of a tomb. These figures occur in Cyrene from the beginning of the fifth century to the mid first century, but in many examples an aniconic column takes the place of a fully sculpted face. The figure, emerging as if from the ground, is reminiscent of anodos scenes; Beschi interpreted her as Persephone. His typology of these figures shows that in a given type both an aprosopic and a fully sculpted figure can occur.

The iconography of the frieze of the Ionic temple on the Ilissos—a notoriously difficult subject—is taken up by Bruno d’Agostino in “I Pelasgi e Atene: il tempietto dell’Ilisso.” Following in large part F. Studniczka, who in 1916 interpreted the scene on slabs A-C as the arrival of the Pelasgians in Attica, Beschi suggested it should rather show the later expulsion of the Pelasgians from Attica, for mistreating Athenian children as they were fetching water from the Enneakrounos and for plotting to attack the city (Hdt. 6.137). Further following Studniczka, he interpreted slabs D-E as representing the Pelasgians, who had fled to Lemnos, now avenging their expulsion by abducting Athenian women at Brauron to take back to Lemnos (Hdt. 6.138). The author concedes that in spite of Beschi’s many excellent observations, it is undeniable that his interpretation is “un atto di arbitrio,” thus agreeing with Olga Palagia, who recounted the history of scholarship on the frieze and concluded: “All interpretations of the frieze are bound to sound arbitrary since only a fraction of the material has come down to us.”1

In the second longest article, “Litora rara, et celsa Cabirum delubra. Luigi Beschi e gli scavi nel santuario di Choi,” Maria Chiara Monaco provides an excellent account of the history of the excavation of Hephaestia’s extra muros sanctuary of the Kabiroi. A simple list of her section headings illustrates the scope of her account: “Dalle segnalazioni settecentesche agli scavi pre-bellici.” “Dal 1949 al 1982: saggi e pulizie del dopoguerra.” “L’edizione del Corpus delle fonti letterarie...” “…ed epigrafiche.” “Il rinvenimento del più antico ‘Telesterio’; “Il deposito di ceramiche tardo-geometriche ed arcaiche.” “Le iscrizioni di età arcaica graffite o/e dipinte su ceramica.” “Lo hiatus di età classica e l’immenso scarico di ceramiche (V secolo a.C.—inizio del II secolo d.C.).” “Graffiti, lettere dipinte, bolli di età classica, ellenistica e romana.” “Dai materiali al rito.” “La pianta riletta e completata: il Telesterio di età ellenistica.” “La pianta riletta e completata: il Telesterio tardo-romano.”

In conclusion she expresses her confidence that continuation of research at Chloi will shed much greater light on the complex archaeology of the sanctuary and on its cult, including the problem of the Τυρρηνοί for which Beschi’s work has become indispensable. For anyone wishing to study those two topics her article would be an optimal starting point, as its footnotes facilitate access to Beschi’s work published in a multitude of articles, and it is also accompanied by an extensive bibliography of studies by many other scholars..

In the final article, “La pubblicazione del santuario arcaico di Efestia: Luigi Beschi e la promessa mantenuta,” Emanuele Greco summarizes the excavation history of the important archaic sanctuary on the acropolis of Hephaistia, carried out in 1926-1931 and by Beschi in 1977-1984, fully published by the latter in two lengthy articles in ASAA 2005 (which appeared in 2008). Greco emphasizes the fundamental importance of these studies as well as Beschi’s publications on the Kabirion for the future of research on Hephaistia. In the archaic sanctuary the presence of wells, dedications of models of fountains, and finds relating to women suggested to Beschi that the cult was that of the great mother goddess Lemnos, “wife of Hephaistos and mother of the Cabiri.”2 Greco mentions the recent discovery of two other sanctuaries: one under the theater of Hephaistia, excavated by Aglaia Archontidou-Argyri, not yet published, which yielded an important new text in a non-Greek language (pl. III.2), recently discussed by Carlo de Simone;3 the other located on the isthmus separating the Gulf of Pournias from the Gulf of Ekaton Kephales, which went out of use around the end of the 6th century/beginning of the 5th. Preliminary analysis suggests dining and initiations (“most probably ephebic”); an especially interesting find is a figure, ca. 1 m. in length, incised on a block, perhaps an ithyphallic satyr or an archaic herm.

This volume of articles in such a wide array of disciplines is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary scholar. It includes an apparently complete bibliography of Beschi’s publications.

Table of Contents

Premessa / Emanuele Greco
Bibliografia di Luigi Beschi / Gli allievi della SAIA
Luigi Beschi: l’occhio dell’archeologo / Salvatore Settis
Luigi Beschi e Louis Fauvel / Alessia Zambon
Il contributo di Luigi Beschi agli studi sul collezionismo e sull’archeologia delle Venezie / Irene Favaretto – Francesca Ghedini
Oggetti dai primi scavi a Santorino nella collezione Giovanni Capellini del Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna / Mario Benzi
Επεισόδια από τη ζωή του Σαλαμινίου Αίαντος και απόπειρες αποκρυπτογράφησης των μηνυμάτων τους / Michalis Tiberios
Το τρόπαιον του Μαραθώνος, αρχιτεκτονική τεκμηρίωση / Manolis Korres
Cirene e la Grecia nelle ricerche di Luigi Beschi / Ida Baldasarre
I Pelasgi e Atene: il tempietto dell’Ilisso / Bruno d’Agostino
Dalle Muse a Bach. Gli studi Luigi Beschi sulla musica greca tra antico e moderno / Riccardo di Cesare
Αναμνήσεις από τη συνεργασία μου με τον Luigi Beschi / Aglaia Archontidou-Argyri
Litora rara, et celsa Cabirum delubra. Luigi Beschi e gli scavi nel santuario di Chloe / Maria Chiara Monaco
La pubblicazione del santuario arcaico di Efestia: Luigi Beschi e la promessa mantenuta / Emanuele Greco


1.  “Interpretation of two Athenian Friezes. The Temple on the Ilissos and the Temple of Athena Nike,” in M. Barringer, J.M. Hurwitt, J.J. Pollit (eds.), Periclean Athens and its Legacy, (Austin, 2005), 177-192, esp. 184.
2.  L. Beschi, “Culto e riserva delle acque nel santuario arcaico di Efestia,” ASAA 83 (2005) 95-218, esp. 144.
3.  ”La Nuova Iscrizione ‘Tirsenica’ di Lemnos (Efestia, teatro): considerazioni generali,” Rasenna 3 (2011) 1-34.

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