Virginia M. Closs, While Rome Burned: Fire, Leadership, and Urban Disaster in the Roman Cultural Imagination (University of Michigan Press, 2020)
While Rome Burned attends to the intersection of fire, city, and emperor in ancient Rome, tracing the critical role that urban conflagration played as both reality and metaphor in the politics and literature of the early imperial period. Urban fires presented a consistent problem for emperors from Augustus to Hadrian, especially given the expectation that the princeps be both a protector and provider for Rome’s population. The problem manifested itself differently for each leader, and each sought to address it in distinctive ways. This history can be traced most precisely in Roman literature, as authors addressed successive moments of political crisis through dialectical engagement with prior incendiary catastrophes in Rome’s historical past and cultural repertoire.
Teresa Ramsby and Ann Vasaly, eds. Epistolary Realities and Fictions: Essays on Roman Letters in Honor of Eleanor Winsor Leach (2019)
In Teresa Ramsby’s new co-edited volume, Epistolary Realities and Fictions: Essays on Roman Letters in Honor of Eleanor Winsor Leach, published as a supplement for the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (61.2, 2018), nine contributors explore the theme of self-representation and identity within Roman letter writing, particularly in the writers of epistolary collections whose corpora display tensions between social position and self-representation, between an identity received and an identity created, between fiction and reality.
The letters analyzed in the collection vary significantly with regard to context, purpose, mode of expression, and addressee, but each paper engages with these three aspects: an individual writer’s representation of self and addressee, the author’s awareness of and performance for a third-party audience, and the author’s literary choices and influences when creating the letter, or the epistolary collection within which the letter appears. Eight essays consider writers who span nearly 400 years of Roman civilization: Cicero, Ovid, Seneca, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Fronto, and Symmachus. In addition, one paper, jumping ahead to the 14th century CE, looks at Petrarch’s use of the image of Cicero to formulate his identity within his own epistles. By exploring previously untreated aspects of identity in Late Republican and Imperial Roman Letters, these papers will contribute to the ongoing discussion about Roman identity, and shed new light on epistolary self-presentation vis-à-vis changing political and social climates.
Professor Ramsby co-authored the volume’s introductory essay and authored chapter three, “Ovid as Ethnographer in the Epistulae ex Ponto.” This volume proceeds from a panel at the 2014 SCS Meeting in Chicago in honor of the career and publications of Eleanor Winsor Leach, Ruth N. Halls Professor of Classics at Indiana University, who died in 2018 before the volume was completed.
Anthony Tuck and Rex Wallace, The Archaeology of Language at Poggio Civitate (Murlo) (Giorgio Bretscheider, 2018)
The Archaeology of Language at Poggio Civitate (Murlo) takes a fresh approach to the study of the Etruscan language and the adoption of literacy in the early Etruscan community of Poggio Civitate. Through a consideration of both the intrinsic meaning of inscriptions recovered at the site as well as a consideration of the archaeological contexts wherein inscribed objects were recovered, the authors reveal evidence for phenomena such as intermarriage between Etruscan communities and poly-linguicism within the non-elite population of the site. This broader analysis also demonstrates a range of social, ritual, and political forces the guide and direct the way the technology of written language is incorporated into this dynamic Etruscan community of the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.
Mario Telò and Melissa Mueller, eds. The Materialities of Greek Tragedy: Objects and Affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (Bloomsbury, 2018).
Situated within contemporary posthumanism, this volume offers theoretical and practical approaches to materiality in Greek tragedy. Established and emerging scholars explore how works of the three major Greek tragedians problematize objects and affect, providing fresh readings of some of the masterpieces of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.
The so-called new materialisms have complemented the study of objects as signifiers or symbols with an interest in their agency and vitality, their sensuous force and psychosomatic impact-and conversely their resistance and irreducible aloofness. At the same time, emotion has been recast as material “affect,” an intense flow of energies between bodies, animate and inanimate. Powerfully contributing to the current critical debate on materiality, the essays collected here destabilize established interpretations, suggesting alternative approaches and pointing toward a newly robust sense of the physicality of Greek tragedy.
Debbie Felton, ed. Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity: Negative Emotion in Natural and Constructed Spaces (Routledge, 2018)
Anyone intrigued by sophisticated approaches to classical philology will be attracted to this thought-provoking collection of essays. Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity is the result of the experimental yet meticulous research of emotion and space in diverse literary contexts. The contributors trace the topography of dread, fear and terror in selected passages from Graeco-Roman literature; they also demonstrate that dragons, demons and ghosts, the abject and the preternatural were a source of fascination for the ancient world as they are for us. Indeed, the dark side of the moon haunts classical as well as modern thought – and this volume succeeds in highlighting both. – Evina Sistakou, Aristotle University, Greece
Contributors include Mercedes Aguirre (University of Madrid), Terressa Benz (Oakland University), Chloe Bray (University of St. Andrews), William Brockliss (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Julia Doroszewska (University of Silesia), Kate Gilhuly (Wellesley), Adrian Gramps (Trinity College Dublin), George Kazantzidis (University of Patras), Bridget Martin (Trinity College Dublin), Melissa Mueller (UMass Amherst), Daniel Ogden (University of Exeter), Leen van Broek (Royal Holloway London), Jesse Weiner (Hamilton College), and Laura Zienteck (Brigham Young).
Brian W. Breed, Elizabeth Keitel, and Rex Wallace, eds. Lucilius and Satire in Second-Century BC Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
This volume considers linguistic, cultural, and literary trends that fed into the creation of Roman satire in second-century BC Rome. Combining approaches drawn from linguistics, Roman history, and Latin literature, the chapters share a common purpose of attempting to assess how Lucilius’ satires functioned in the social environment in which they were created and originally read. Particular areas of focus include audiences for satire, the mixing of varieties of Latin in the satires, and relationships with other second-century genres, including comedy, epic, and oratory. Lucilius’ satires emerged at a time when Rome’s new status as an imperial power and its absorption of influences from the Greek world were shaping Roman identity. With this in mind the book provides new perspectives on the foundational identification of satire with what it means to be Roman and satire’s unique status as “wholly ours” tota nostra among Latin literary genres.
Eric Poehler, The Traffic Systems of Pompeii (Oxford University Press, 2017)
The Traffic Systems of Pompeii is the first sustained examination of the development of road infrastructure in Pompeii &emdash; from the archaic age to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE &emdash; and its implications for urbanism in the Roman empire. Eric E. Poehler, an authority on Pompeii's uniquely preserved urban structure, distills over five hundred instances of street-level "wear and tear" to reveal for the first time the rules of the ancient road. From his analysis of curbstones, cobbled surfaces, and ruts emerge the intricacies of the Pompeian traffic system and the changes to its operation over time. Though archaeological expertise forms the backbone of this book, its findings have equally important historical and architectural implications. Later chapters probe the impact of design and infrastructure on social roles and hierarchies among property owners in Pompeii, illuminating the economic forces that push and pull upon the shape of urban space. The final chapters set the road system into its broader context as one major infrastructural and administrative artifact of the Roman empire's deeply urban culture. Where does Pompeii's system fit within the history of Roman traffic control? Is it unique for its innovation, or only for the preservation that permitted its discovery? Poehler marshals evidence from across the Roman world to examine these questions. His measured and thoroughly researched answers make this study a critical step forward in our understanding of infrastructure in the ancient world.
Melissa Mueller, Objects as Actors. Props and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy (University of Chicago Press, 2016)
Objects as Actors charts a new approach to Greek tragedy based on an obvious, yet often overlooked, fact: Greek tragedy was meant to be performed. As plays, the works were incomplete without physical items—theatrical props. In this book, Melissa Mueller ingeniously demonstrates the importance of objects in the staging and reception of Athenian tragedy. As Mueller shows, props such as weapons, textiles, and even letters were often fully integrated into a play’s action. They could provoke surprising plot turns, elicit bold viewer reactions, and provide some of tragedy’s most thrilling moments. Whether the sword of Sophocles’s Ajax, the tapestry in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, or the tablet of Euripides’s Hippolytus, props demanded attention as a means of uniting—or disrupting—time, space, and genre. Insightful and original, Objects as Actors offers a fresh perspective on the central tragic texts—and encourages us to rethink ancient theater as a whole.
Brian Breed, Pastoral Inscriptions: Reading and Writing Virgil’s Eclogues (Duckworth, 2006)
Virgil's "Eclogues" represent the introduction of a new genre, pastoral, to Latin literature. Generic markers of pastoral in the "Eclogues" include not only the representation of the singing and speaking of shepherd characters, but also the learned density of the text itself. Here, Brian W. Breed examines the tension between representations of orality in Virgil's pastoral world and the intense textuality of his pastoral poetry. The book argues that separation between speakers and their language in the "Eclogues" is not merely pastoral preciosity. Rather, it shows how Virgil uses representations of orality as the point of comparison for measuring both the capacity and the limitations of the "Eclogues" as a written text that will be encountered by reading audiences. The importance of genre is considered both in terms of how pastoral might be defined for the particular literary-historical moment in which Virgil was writing and in light of the subsequent European pastoral tradition.
Brian Breed (with Cynthia Damon & Andreola Rossi), Citizens of Discord: Rome and Its Civil Wars (Oxford University Press, 2010)
Civil wars, more than other wars, sear themselves into the memory of societies that suffer them. This is particularly true at Rome, where in a period of 150 years the Romans fought four epochal wars against themselves.
This volume brings together exciting new perspectives on the subject by an international group of distinguished contributors. The basis of the investigation is broad, encompassing literary texts, documentary texts, and material culture, spanning the Greek and Roman worlds. Attention is devoted not only to Rome's four major conflicts from the period between the 80s BC and AD 69, but the frame extends to engage conflicts both previous and much later, as well as post-classical constructions of the theme of civil war at Rome. Divided into four sections, the first ("Beginnings, Endings") addresses the basic questions of when civil war began in Rome and when it ended. "Cycles" is concerned with civil war as a recurrent phenomenon without end. "Aftermath" focuses on attempts to put civil war in the past, or, conversely, to claim the legacy of past civil wars, for better or worse. Finally, the section "Afterlife" provides views of Rome's civil wars from more distant perspectives, from those found in Augustan lyric and elegy to those in much later post-classical literary responses. As a whole, the collection sheds new light on the ways in which the Roman civil wars were perceived, experienced, and represented across a variety of media and historical periods.
Debbie Felton, Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity (University of Texas Press, 1999)
Stories of ghostly spirits who return to this world to warn of danger, to prophesy, to take revenge, to request proper burial, or to comfort the living fascinated people in ancient times just as they do today. In this innovative, interdisciplinary study, the author combines a modern folkloric perspective with literary analysis of ghost stories from classical antiquity to shed new light on the stories' folk roots.
The author begins by examining ancient Greek and Roman beliefs about death and the departed and the various kinds of ghost stories which arose from these beliefs. She then focuses on the longer stories of Plautus, Pliny, and Lucian, which concern haunted houses. Her analysis illuminates the oral and literary transmission and adaptation of folkloric motifs and the development of the ghost story as a literary form. In her concluding chapter, the author also traces the influence of ancient ghost stories on modern ghost story writers, a topic that will interest all readers and scholars of tales of hauntings.
Elizabeth Keitel (with Jane Webb Crawford), Cicero Pro Caelio (Focus, 2010)
A commentary of Cicero's great speech which provides insights into Roman life and culture, the nature and tools of Roman rhetoric, and, through the inclusion of correspondence and other texts, the life and friendships of Cicero himself. Includes the text, extensive introduction, notes, vocabulary, selected letters of Cicero and Caelius, and selections from "In Clodium et Curionem."
Eric Poehler (with Kevin Cole & Miko Flohr), Pompeii: Art, Industry, and Infrastructure (Oxbow Books, 2011)
Even after more than 250 years since its discovery, Pompeii continues to resonate powerfully in both academic discourse and the popular imagination.
This volume brings together a collection of ten papers that advance, challenge and revise the present conceptions of the city's art, industry and infrastructure. The discussions of domestic art in this book, a perennial topic for Pompeian scholars, engage previously neglected subjects such as wall ornaments in domestic decoration, the sculpture collection in the house of Octavius Quartio, and the role of the covered walkways in luxury villa architecture. The famous cupid's frieze from the house of the Vettii is given a novel and intelligent reinterpretation. The place of industry at Pompeii, in both the physical and economic landscapes has long been overlooked. The chapters on building practice in inhabited houses, on the presence of fulling workshops in atrium houses, and on the urban pottery industry serve as successful contributions to a more complete understanding of the life of the ancient city. Finally, this volume breaks new ground in the consideration of the urban infrastructure of Pompeii, a topic that has won serious attention only in the last decades, but one that is playing an increasingly central role in Pompeian studies. The final three chapters offer a reassessment of the Pompeian street network, a scientific analysis of the amount of lead in Pompeian drinking water, and a thorough analysis of the water infrastructure around the forum that supported its architectural transformation in the last decades before the eruption of mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Teresa Ramsby (with Sinclair Bell), Free at Last! The Impact of Freed Slaves on the Roman Empire (Bloomsbury Academic, 2012)
How did freed slaves reinvent themselves after the shackles of slavery had been lifted? How were they reintegrated into society, and what was their social position and status? What contributions did they make to the society that had once - sometimes brutally - repressed them? This collection builds on recent dynamic work on Roman freedmen, the contributors drawing upon a rich and varied body of evidence - visual, literary, epigraphic and archaeological - to elucidate the impact of freed slaves on Roman society and culture amid the shadow of their former servitude. The contributions span the period between the first century BC and the early third century AD and survey the territories of the Roman Republic and Empire, while focusing on Italy and Rome.
Teresa Ramsby, Textual Permanence: Roman Elegists and the Epigraphic Tradition (Bloomsbury Academic, 2007)
Textual Permanence is the first book to examine the influence of the Roman epigraphic tradition on Latin elegiac poetry. The frequent use of invented inscriptions within the works of Rome's elegiac poets suggests a desire to monumentalise elements of the poems and the authors themselves. This book explores inscriptional writing in the elegies of Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus and Ovid, showing that whenever an author includes an inscription within a poem, he draws the reader's attention beyond the text of the poem to include the cultural contexts in which such inscriptions were daily read and produced. The emphases that these inscriptions grant to persons, sentiments and actions within the poems are reflections of the permanence that real-life inscriptions grant to a variety of human efforts. These poetic inscriptions provide unique windows of interpretation to some of Rome's most significant and influential poems.
Teresa Ramsby traces an important relationship between the Roman tradition that honoured individual participation in Roman politics, and the way that elegiac poetry was early applied in Rome to the same activity. In the course of the book she offers fresh interpretations of poems that have been analysed by a host of scholars.
Anthony Tuck (with Derek Counts), Koine: Mediterranean Studies in Honor of R. Ross Holloway (Oxbow Books, 2009)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines koine as 'a set of cultural or other attributes common to various groups' . This volume merges an academic career over a half century in breadth and scope with an editorial vision that brings together a chorus of scholarly contributions echoing the core principles of R. Ross Holloways own unique perspective on ancient Mediterranean studies. Through broadly conceived themes, the four individual sections of this volume (I. A View of Classical Art: Iconography in Context; II. Crossroads of the Mediterranean: Cultural Entanglements Across the Connecting Sea; III. Coins as Culture: Art and Coinage from Sicily; and IV. Discovery and Discourse, Archaeology and Interpretation) are an attempt to capture the many and varied trajectories of thought that have marked his career and serve as testimony to the significance of his research. The twenty-four papers (plus four introductory essays to the individual sections, biographical sketch and main introduction) contain recent research on subjects ranging from the Kleophrades Painter to the Black Sea, Sicilian Coinage and archaeology in modern Rome.