Scholia Reviews ns 20 (2011) 6.

Jerzy Linderski, Roman Questions II: Selected Papers. Heidelberger AlthistorischeBeiträge und Epigraphische Studien, Band 44. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2007. Pp. ix + 726. ISBN 978-3- 515-08134- 4. Euro100.00.

Alex Nice
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa /
L’École Européenne II (Woluwé), Belgium

Were a Roman augur to have taken the auspices in Professor Linderski’s youth, he might have noticed the number and positive aspect of the praepetes aves. In a career spanning from the 1970s to the present, Professor Jerzy Linderski has published in excess of 190 articles, reviews, and edited volumes.

Following on from the critical success of Roman Questions I, the current collection of articles consists of some 71 separate entries dating from 1971 to 2006. The contributions are divided into five main sections: I. Historia et Ius (pp. 1- 296); II. Historia et Philologia (pp. 297-366); III. Historia et Epigraphia (pp. 367-497); IV. Historia et Religio (pp. 499-571); V. Antiqua et Recentiora (pp. 573- 605). Many of these items have been updated, with informed and, sometimes, lengthy footnotes which clarify points of detail and add bibliography (for example, p. 27, nn. 21 and 22; p. 55, n. 45; p. 97, n. 38; p. 99, n. 46; p. 146 n. 52; p. 228, nn. 53 and 54; p. 338, nn. 7 and 8 p. 461, n. 8; p. 482-483, n. 67a; p. 594, n. 30). An appendix (607-40) ‘Addenda et Corrigenda Altera to Roman Questions I’ is not simply a list of corrections, it is much more. Bibliographic omissions are corrected and more recent bibliographic items included. In certain cases there are fuller discussions occasioning slightly revised conclusions, for example, ‘natalis patavii (1983)’ (pp. 626-30) or ‘Roman religion in Livy (1993)’ (pp. 638-40). There are four indices: modern authors, ancient sources, ancient persons, and ageneral index -- a wonderful exemplum for other writers and publishers.

Every article, book review, and note is an academic treat. Research articles invariably begin with a riddle, arising from a literary text, object, or even a single word, to be solved. Thus, in Section I, there is the interpretation of the augural symbolism in Ennius, Ann. 9 1-94V = 86-89Sk (pp. 3-19), the significance of P. Scipio Nasica’s toga in the death of Ti. Gracchus (pp. 88-114), a very full discussion of Scipionic nomenclature arising from a recently published gemstone with the inscription Q(uintus)/SCIPIO/IMP(erator)(pp. 130-74). In his discussion of the missing Ponticus (pp. 115-29), or the analysis of CIL XI. 6053 (pp. 242-61), Linderski’s powers of detection and perseverance unearth information either forgotten or overlooked.

The four new articles (all in the first section) confirm Linderski’s erudition, mastery of the sources, and his attention to detail. ‘Augustales and the sodales Augustales’ (pp. 179-83) corrects an error in Severy’s 1990 article on the Senatus consultum de Pisone patre[[1]] where the terms Augustales and sodales Augustales are conflated. In ‘Orbilius, Scaurus and the award of corniculum’ pp. 184-215, Linderski takes us from an apparently minor textual point all the way from Republican Rome to the Byzantine Empire (pp. 184-215) in its search for the meaning of the words corniculum and cornicularius. ‘Legio V in Messana’ (pp. 229-41) argues that Caesar left freshly levied troops at Messana rather than the hard-bitten veterans of legio V. Few classicists could have handled ‘How did King Flavius Dades and the pitiaxes Publicius Agrippa acquire their Roman names?’ (pp. 262-76). Linderski’s mastery of Georgian, Russian, and German means that he is well-qualified to comment on Braund’s recent contribution to Black Sea studies and to postulate that Dades was probably a minor regulus whose ancestor had been given the title by a Flavian emperor.

In Section II reviews of Forsythe (1994) and Rawson (1991)[[2]] sit awkwardly beside minute points of textual emendation: *transitam* is altered to transitus in Cic. Ad Att. 5.21.5; at Sall. Cat. 53.5 *effeta parentum* becomes effeta partu. These are followed by detailed analysis of visceratio, the relationship of the term fatalis to prostitution, an article on ancient window boxes deriving from Pliny NH 19.59, and two articles that discuss paintresses in Pliny and the sacrifice of porcelli respectively. Section III has Linderski’s updates to the CIL vols. 4-8; 13-14; and 16-17, along with a review of Ville, La gladiature en Occident des origines à la mort de Domitien (Paris 1981). The article 'Games in Patavium', which might as easily have been found in Section II or Section IV, analyses Tac. Ann. 16.21.1 on the ludi cetasti Patavinorum and the ‘scores of conjectures . . . ideas and intepretations, ingenious or fantastic’ (p. 463) that have been offered on the subject. Three brief reviews conclude the section.

Throughout the volume articles rest side- by-side with reviews and review articles. Appropriately they tend to have less footnotes but the approach is no less perspicuous. Section IV notably begins with Linderski’s review article of Beard, North, and Price (pp. 501-14).[[3]] His thoughtful insights raise as many questions as they sought to answer. Historians of Roman religion would pass over such an insightful piece at their peril. Despite Linderski’s criticisms he remains self-consciously aware of the difficulties of interpretation: ‘The field of religious studies, like the religion itself, is a battlefield and so it will remain . . . ad saecula saeculorum (p. 514). Other reviews discuss Rüpke on the Roman calendar, Bergemann and De Libero on politics and religion in the late Republic (see below), Treggiari on Roman marriage (too little attention is paid to the auspices), Brouwer on the Bona Dea, Capdeville on the god Vulcan (there is‘a splendid heap of misapplied erudition!’ -- Capdeville confuses fulmina and fulgura). Shorter articles discuss Titus’ visit to the oracle at Paphos (in Latin!), the presence of Jupiter Dolichenus at Balaclava and a recent text published in Epigraphica. The reference to symphoniace ‘acquires a mystical dimension’ (p. 551), relevant to Hermes-Mercurius and ‘the numerological and eschatological speculations of the Pythagoreans and the Orphics’ (p. 551).

The final section provides a worthy bookend. The lives and work of Rostovtzeff (pp. 575-77), Tenney Frank (pp. 578-80), then the dedicatees of the volume: Lily Ross Taylor (pp. 581-83), Agnes Kirsopp Michels (pp. 584-602), and T. R. S. Broughton (pp. 603-05), are handled with sensitivity and perception. Even for a reader less familiar with their work Linderski ensures that we understand their place importance in the history of modern classical scholarship.

Despite the divisions, there is almost no article when Linderski does not take the reader on a journey through law, history, prosopography, literature, philology and epigraphy. Every shred of evidence is adduced to expand, support, clarify and to make his argument. Therefore, footnotes are de rigueur, in some cases vastly outweighing the main text, or spanning more than one page (passim, but see, for example, p. 145f., n. 52; 196f., nn. 41-45; and esp. pp. 469-71, n. 27!). Linderski's work is the very model of academic scholarship. His use of parallel texts, comparative inscriptions (for example, CIL, AE, ILS), philological sources (the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, Lewis and Short, the Oxford Latin Dictionary, the TLG, and PHI computer repositories: see, for example, pp. 23, 48, 50, 175, 187-94, n. 34, 248ff., 331, 549), are rooted in the best traditions of nineteenth-century German empiricism and are testaments to Linderski’s desire to leave no stone unturned, no reference untouched, if it will help him and us to arrive at the truth. Even if it does not, at least we can arrive at a 'well-informed aporia' (p. 491).

Linderski has little time for academic sloppiness, pretentiousness or spurious theorising. Even the most sage does not escape his cutting criticism: ‘Wiseman’s study (1995) suffers from an almost total neglect of the augural perspective . . . We can either try to understand our sources or write our own fable’ (p. 19, n. 55) or on Bergemann’s (1992): ‘the second part of the book is a disaster . . . the collection is useless: it is riddled with errors, and individual cases, often enigmatic, are never subjected to rigorous analysis’ (p. 523. Cf. p. 33; 554f.; 559), or the damning indictment of Erdmann (1995, p. 284f.): ‘A pretence of sociological open-mindedness coupled with philological negligence is an excellent formula for producing a useless book. [Since these lines were composed the pest has spread far and wide producing vast libraries of hotair]’ (cf. pp. 515f.).[[4]] In part, at least, Linderski suggests that this is due to ‘an absurd academic system that rewards effuse scribbling and frowns upon concise lucidity’ (p. 39). It is also a system that compels the publication of theses without sufficient revision, redaction, and copy-editing, as Linderski states: 'To read a thèse is an art: mixed with sloppy deposits there are veins of information and nuggets of insight to be mined' (p. 39; cf. p. 522). [[5]] scriptor, cave! No doubt Linderski would also have something to say with regard to administrators (and tenure committees) who have a tendency to ignore critical reviews in the academic process, relegating them to their own kind of academic footnote. Linderski’s volume is instructive: reviews serve a vital purpose in alerting readers to good examples to follow, bad ones to avoid (see, for example, p. 595).

Nonetheless Linderski is happy to give praise where praise is due: 'Staveley’s book is a rara avis indeed! It is a superb achievement' (p. 282) or on Nörr’s Aspekte des römischen Völkerrechts: ' . . . this brief review cannot do justice to the legal riches of the inscription and of the monograph we are fortunate it elicited' (p. 288). There are occasional lighter touches. The importance of correct terminology is illuminated through the use of the word 'football' to describe two very different varieties of the game: one, North American, and the other, quite well-known in the rest of the world, in which the ball is primarily kicked with the foot! Linderski too has a keen sense of humour: ‘There exists a text that throws a new and unsuspected light on the person of the rex in Charisius. For more than four hundred years this text had eluded all the learned interpreters of Terence and Suetonius, from Palmerius and the great Casaubonus to Gratwick, but my computer, a sage machine, produced it in less than four minutes’ (p. 23).

Despite Professor Linderski’s remarkable output and several articles of considerable length, it is of note that, with the exception of his dissertations and a monograph on Roman electoral assemblies, he has not published another book, although some articles, notably ‘The Augural Law’, are sufficiently lengthy and influential.[[6]] Fortunately, Linderski was able to pursue his career cum summis auspiciis to bequeath to us, very like a Varro illuminating the complexities of Roman religion for Cicero, a series of comprehensive and immaculately researched insights into the law, religion, and politics of ancient Rome.


[[1]] CP 95 (2000) 318-37 (at p. 321).

[[2]] The Historian L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi and the Roman Annalistic Tradition (Lanham 1994); Roman Culture and Society. Collected Papers (Oxford 1991).

[[3]] Mary Beard, John A. North and S. R. F. Price, Religions of Rome. 2 Vols. Vol. 1. A History; Vol. 2. A Sourcebook. (Cambridge 1998).

[[4]] Peter Wiseman, Remus (Exeter 1995); Elisabeth Erdmann, Politik und Religion im spátrepublikanischen Rom (Ph. C. W. Schmidt 1992); Claudia Bergemann, Die Rolle des Heeres in der Zeit von Marius bis Caesar; Militärische und politische Probleme einer Berufsarmee (Franz Steiner 1995).

[[5]] See too Nice on Schneider, Cicero 'Haruspex'. (Piscataway, NJ, 2004): http://www. classics. und. ac. za/reviews= Scholia Reviews ns 14 (2005) 47.

[[6]] The dissertation is Pan/stwo a kolegia: Ze studio/w nad histori* rzymiskich stowarzysze* u schylku republiki = Roman State and the Collegia: Studies in the History of Roman Associations in the Late Republican Period (Kraków 1961) -- dissertations in Europe are ordinarily published in book form after they have been successful defended in the viva voce examination; the monograph is Rzymskike zgromadzenie wyborcze od Sullido Cezara = Roman Electoral Assemblies from Sulla to Caesar (Wrocl*aw 1966); the article is ‘The Augural Law’, in W. Haase and H. Temporini (eds. ), ANRW 2.16.3 (Berlin 1985) 2146-312.