BMCR 2001.04.02

Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae (Volume Quinto, T-Z, Addenda et Corrigenda; Volume Sesto, Addenda et Corrigenda, Indici)

, Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae (Volume Quinto, T-Z, Addenda et Corrigenda; Volume Sesto, Addenda et Corrigenda, Indici). Rome: Edizioni Quasar, 1999; 2000. 370; 142. Lit. 260.000; Lit 120.000.

“Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic of his own works.”

Keats said that, but mutatis mutandis it is fittingly applied to Eva Margareta S(teinby), editor of the monumental Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae ( LTUR), the final two volumes of which (V and VI) are under consideration here. The reviewer eager to live up to his duty as a critic finds that the editor has anticipated him by publishing a carefully considered list of problems and difficulties in the realization of LTUR in the valedictory foreword to the fifth volume. Such mature self-criticism is to be expected from a scholar whose dedication has led to the publication of the most important Roman topographical reference tool ever produced, and if editor and reviewers can point to flaws in the Lexicon, this does not detract from the manifest excellence of the work, nor does it diminish the tremendous debt of gratitude students of Roman topography owe to S., her collaborators, and the many contributors to LTUR.

The two new volumes, originally to have been in a single cover, are arranged thus:1

Volume V (marked IV on the spine, though the dust jacket is accurate): “Post Scriptum” (pp. 5-8) by S. Lemmata from T to Z, with one final doubtful entry “—-]PEVIA, AEDES?” (9-219), ed. S. “Addenda et corrigenda” (221-292), ed. Nigel Pollard. “Abbreviazioni bibliografiche” (293-308), ed. Emanuele Papi.2 “Illustrazioni” (309-370), ed. Maria Rosaria Russo.

Volume VI: “Addenda et corrigenda” (7-9), ed. Nigel Pollard. “Indici” (11-142), ed. Marco Buonocore. Notice (13). Indice topografico (15-81). Indice prosopografico (83-139). Pontefici (140-142).

Volumes of LTUR have been appearing for nearly a decade, but a brief description for readers unfamiliar with the Lexicon may be helpful nonetheless. The Lexicon is an encyclopedia covering the physical fabric of ancient Rome, both as it survives in archeological remains and as it can be deduced from literary, numismatic, epigraphical, and other sources. It is organized into alphabetized entries which focus on individual monuments running from workaday structures such as streets and houses up through temples and palaces; comparative discussions have no place here. The basic model is (S.B.) Platner and (T.) Ashby’s A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome of 1929 (I.8), but the essentially monoptic view offered by that venerable work has been abandoned in favor of entries written (variously in Italian, German, English and French) by many contributors who offer state-of-the-art discussions of monuments, often ones they have studied closely. The geographical and temporal limits of the monuments studied are Rome’s Aurelian Walls and the “not yet medieval” late antique, respectively (I.9).3 Christian monuments have wisely been brought into consideration. While S. has imposed consistency in presentation, she has also maintained a policy that the Lexicon should consider “the current state of research, with all its contradictions” (V.6). The bottom line is that the overall quality of the contributions is high, but the user will occasionally encounter an idiosyncratic or partisan article and must not assume that all entries offer equal time to opposing views in matters of interpretation. A great strength of LTUR is the copious collection of often excellent illustrations taken in some cases from quite recent studies, though one must still consult Nash’s Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome (2 vv., 1961-62). Only those ancient literary sources directly relevant to discussions in individual articles are offered in a more extensive form than bare citations (for many monuments the sources have been collected by (G.) Lugli in his Fontes ad topographiam veteris urbis Romae pertinentes (8 vv., 1952-1960)). In sum, LTUR is an indispensible research and reference tool for the scholarly audience at which it is aimed, although it will not serve pedagogical needs suitably below the (advanced) graduate level.

The addenda and corrigenda, edited capably by Nigel Pollard, are composed of two different types of notice. The editor has assembled brief corrections and supplemental bibliography as needed for lemmata found in the main body of the Lexicon. Some attention is required here, for some of these entries are found under generic “catchbin” rubrics of the sort not found in the Lexicon proper (e.g., ‘Domus’ and ‘Insula’). The second category consists principally of notices (some quite substantial) sent to the redaction by scholars and printed over the contributors’ names; these occasionally overlap editorial addenda but have nevertheless been printed separately under a duplication of the lemma to maintain the editorial commitment to the contributors’ independence. These entries include new discoveries about old friends (for example, reports on the recent excavation in the Piazza della rotonda, at the Mausoleum of Augustus, along the aqua Traiana on the grounds of the American Academy, and in the Forum of Trajan, to name but a few), and notices of monuments hitherto overlooked or unknown. The decision to publish the indices separately in VI came late and unexpectedly (VI.6), and offered the opportunity to include another brief set of addenda and corrigenda in that volume: both sets must be consulted. In a rare editorial misstep, entirely new lemmata among the addenda are not distinguished from merely supplementary or corrective ones. Lemmata are odd creatures which take on a life of their own as fixed rubrics under which knowledge is categorized, as (A.) Ziolkowski ( Gnomon 68: 53-54) cogently noted while reviewing (L.) Richardson’s A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1992). One useful aspect of a designedly comprehensive reference tool like LTUR is the indication it gives, through its collection of rubrics, of the breadth of our knowledge in its field, and we need look no further than the supplements to Broughton’s Magistrates of the Roman Republic (1960, 1986) to see this principle of marking new additions usefully illustrated. In the belief that some users will want to mark the new lemmata, I’ve compiled a list in note4 below. Lemmata, once established by tradition, have a tendency to crystallize our thinking: ‘Mausoleum Augusti’ is unexceptionable and perhaps inevitable, whereas ‘Mercati di Traiano’ represents a compromise, because we do not know what the Romans called this monument; both are, however, conventional and functional (thankfully the initial policy of omitting conventional post-antique names and some anonymous monuments was abandoned: I.8, V.5). It is therefore important that lemmata be consistently presented, especially when they have been assembled with as much care as those in the Lexicon. In this regard, readers must beware that some lemmata in the addenda at first appear new but are merely altered (or tacitly corrected) forms of the main entries. Some are easy to reconcile, others require needless checking: the ones I noticed will be found in note.5

The indices are arranged by cogent criteria with copious cross-references, necessary, as Buonocore points out, given the many authors contributing to the Lexicon. Given the policy in LTUR of listing sacred buildings under the name of the divinity concerned, it is useful to find the structures also grouped typologically in the topographical index under ‘aedes’, ‘templum’, and the like. Very useful is the printing in bold type of the reference to the chief discussion of a given entry. The prosopographical index is no less carefully worked out. It follows two different standards of reference: names of the Republic and Early Empire are listed, in conformity with RE, PIR, MRR, OCD 3, etc. under the nomen gentilicium. Names of the later Empire are listed by cognomen in conformity with PLRE (cf. I.10). References to RE, PIR and PLRE are offered, and even novices can easily navigate this index, thanks to generous cross-referencing of cognomina and gentilicia. For example, the index rightly locates Scipio Asiagenus among the Cornelii (with the RE references thrown in to permit distinction between the two Asiageni listed), but a search beginning at ‘Asiagenus’ or ‘Scipio’ is immediately directed to the gentilicium. No one at all will be led astray by Buonocore’s sensible policy of listing the first emperor under ‘Augustus’, though more distinctions (with references to RE or PIR) among the various Caesares, Iulii, and Octavii, or at least a conventional ‘dict.’ for Caesar the dictator, would have made the index more user-friendly.

There are practical limits to the amount of indexing that can (or should) be done in a paper edition, but it is a great pity we are limited to topographical, prosopographical and pontifical indices, despite the benefits, noted by S., conferred by the scheme adopted in LTUR (V.7). This raises a much deeper issue which bears upon LTUR and related reference works in general. It is a cliche/ that reference works are already out of date upon their release, brought home in the case of LTUR by the 70 pages of addenda and 23 new illustrations in V and the 3 additional pages of additions and corrections in VI. More seriously, given the tremendous body of knowledge within LTUR, we are hobbled by the limitations inherent in indexing. An index is a cross section of a work arranged along predetermined criteria: persons, titles, ideas, etc. A computerized search would provide scholars the opportunity to go beyond criteria interesting to others and allow them easily to create a new, ad hoc index. Why not encode LTUR and make it available electronically?

A CD ROM would be an obvious way to distribute the work, and would permit all of the searching tools necessary. It is still a stopgap. Better would be a continuously updated database available through a web site. Incomplete, outdated, or idiosyncratic entries could be reassigned by an editorial board for improvement. Such an online edition would swiftly supersede paper and CD ROM versions of LTUR, but these versions are fated to be outmoded anyway; it would be better to have a continually refreshed version available.

This would be a much more durable, if ever-evolving creation, far more useful to scholars than the current versions, limited as they are by technology. There are always important questions about who would pay for the maintenance and development of this LTUR database, and whether access to downloadable and printable versions of articles would be free to users or available at the cost of a subscription. The rudiments of what I envision, however, are already in use among the CD ROM versions of OCD 3, DCB, RE indices, the mode of publication of BMCR, and continually evolving web sites such as the Perseus Project. It is just a matter of rethinking our conception of a reference work, providing for constant, low-level maintenance of a database rather than a giant, once-in-a-hundred-years push to build an entire monument.


1. References to the volumes of LTUR will be in the form VI.6, etc.

2. The aggressive use of abbreviations throughout the Lexicon as an economy gives this section the appearance of a general bibliography, which it is not. “Harris 1997” in the addendum to ‘Fornix Augusti’ (V.256) is not to be found among the abbreviations; only time and use will reveal all omissions.

3. The geographical limits have been surpassed in the case of some hard-to-find monuments, particularly in Transtiberim (V.6); a Lexicon Topographicum Suburbanum ( LTS) is underway.

4. New lemmata in vol. V: Aerarium Aedilium; Anubis, Ara; Apollo Ramnusius, Aedes; Aqua; Arcus Liviae; Arcus: Vespasianus; Armamentaria Publica; Atria Minervae; Atria Traiani; Auditorium Capitolii; Aurelia(na); Basilica Lateranensis; Basis: Numa Pompilius; Bibliotheca; Bibliothecae Traiani; S. Callixtus, Titulus; Castra Nova Equitum Singularium; Cella Muroniana; Circus Varianus; Clivus Ursi; Columna; Columna Iovis; Columnae Rostratae Agrippae; Compitum; Corniscae; Cybele, Templum; Dis (et Proserpina), Sacellum; Domus; Domus Caesarea; Episcopium Lateranense; Fortuna, Templum Novum; Fori Imperiali; Harpocrates, Ara; Hercules, Aedicula; [Horrea Corn]elia; Horti; Horti: P. Cornelius Scipio; Horti Scriboniani; Imago: C. Popillius Laenas; Insula Eucarpiana; Insula: M. Caelius Rufus; Insula: P. Clodius Pulcher; Insula in Foro Boario; Insula: M. Licinius Crassus; Insula: T. Pomponius Atticus; Insula: Terentia; Iseum, Isis; Isiaci; Isis, Ara; Iuppiter (Insula Tiberina); Lateranis; Liber Pater, Signum; Mariana/ Marianea; Mars in Campo; Minucius, Ara, Sacellum; Nave di Enea; Pantheon (Fase Pre-Adrianea); Quies, Aedes; Saepta; Sepulchrum: Epaphroditus [A]ug L.; Sepulchrum Liciniorum; Sepulchrum Minucii; Sepulchrum: P. Paquius Scaeva; Serapis, Ara; Statio Gaudiosi Librari; Statua: Lupa, Romulus et Remus; Statuae: Mars Invictus, Romulus, Remus; Statua: Cn. Sentius Saturninus; Vicus [—-]i Publici; in vol. VI: Basilica Piniani; Basis: Claudii Marcelli; Pinus; Tritones; Vicus Anici. The following each appear in V under the heading “Domus:”, suppressed here for economy: L. Aelius Lamia; Q. Aemilius Papus; Sex. Afranius Burrus; Baebius; M. Buculeius; (M.?) Caelius; T. Coponius?; P. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther; P. Cornelius P. f. Sulla; Demetrius?; Egnatius; L. Fufius; M. Fulvius Nobilior; M. Furius Camillus; Gemellus; Ti. Iulius Frugi; Iulius Ursus?; (P.?) Licinius Crassus (Dives); L. Licinius Mucianus; C. Manlius; L. Marcius Philippus; M. Mettius Epaphroditus; Neratius Palmatus; M. Papirius; Petra; Plaetorius; Q. Pompeius; Posides; Ti. Sempronius Gracchus; Septimii; C. Sergius Orata; Ser. Sulpicius Galba; Sex. Titius; C. Trebatius Testa; Valerius Cato; C. Valerius Catullus; Vedius; L. Vibius.

5. Lemmata (all are from V) listed without comment are merely out of alphabetical order: Basilica Paul(l)i; Basis: Numa Pompilius; Curia in Palatio; Fortuna et Magna Mater, Aedes [read: Mater Matuta]; Hercules Invictus Hesychianus [Esychianus, III.17]; Horti: Domitia Lucilla [Horti Domitiae Lucillae, III.58]; Iuno Moneta [Iuno Moneta, Aedes, III.123]; S. Maria Antiqua, Ecclesia [S. Maria Antiqua, III.214]; Porticus Gaii et Luci [read: Gai, IV.122]; Semo Sancus in Insula [Semo Sancus, IV.264]; Septimiana [Septimianum, IV.267]; Sessorianum [Sessorium, IV 304]; Venus Erycina, etc. [Erucina, V.114].