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Andrew Lear
Classical World, Volume 103, Number 1, Fall 2009, pp. 120-121 (Article)

Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press


DOI: 10.1353/clw.0.0145

For additional information about this article


http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/clw/summary/v103/103.1.lear.html

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120

C lassical W orld

of this archaeological evidence, taken from the Sntana-de-Mure/ernjachov


culture (located in what is now Romania and Ukraine), clearly shows contact
between this culture and the Romans (e.g., the use of Roman construction
practices in some buildings and the presence of Roman cultural artifacts).
In Kulikowskis view, this culture was Gothic and supports his thesis of the
Roman creation of the Goths.
According to the description given in the front matter of this book, the
volumes in this series are intended to summarize the main events and key
characters, the consequences of the conflict, and its reception over time,
and to evaluate the textual and archaeological sources for the conflict
critically. This book fulfills these objectives admirably. Its summary of the
conflicts between the Romans and the Goths is lucid and readable and its
critical evaluation of the various sources of evidence is valuable. It is engagingly written and does a nice job of synthesizing received wisdom with more
debatable views. The book also contains detailed glossaries of biographies
and of ancient sources, several maps, and an extensive section on suggested
further readings, all of which enhance its usefulness. It should also be noted
that production values are high; the maps are well produced (even though
three of them are necessarily spread over two pages), the volume is sturdily
bound, and typos have been kept to a minimum. The book provides a handy,
accessible overview of the subject matter and can therefore be recommended
to students and more experienced scholars alike.
University of Texas at Austin
Classical World 103.1 (2009)

MARC PIERCE

Sandra Boehringer. Lhomosexualit dans lantiquit grecque et romaine.


Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2007. Pp. 405. 35.00 (pb.). ISBN 2-251-32663-4.
Same-sex love in classical antiquity has of course been the subject of
an enormous quantity of scholarship in the last thirty years. When we say
same-sex love in antiquity, however, we generally mean male-male love,
as this was a central theme in Greek literature, culture, and art, as well as
a significant one in the Roman world. There are few references to femalefemale love in our ancient sources, and it has consequently suffered from
a relative lack of attention even in this period of intense concentration on
issues of gender, sex, and sexuality. Boehringer presents the first coherent
account of the evidence on this topic, from Sappho to Lucian.
The difficulties that Boehringer faced in writing this book are considerable:
there is only a handful of evidence on this topic, and much of it is fragmentary.
The Greek sources in particular are each so isolated historicallyfrom the
entire classical period, for instance, there are only three references in Plato
that they do not provide enough of a historical context. Boehringer, however,
uses the small body of evidence as an opportunity. She gives such a thorough
account of each pieces historical and literary contextand of the other erotic
discourse from its period, place, and/or genrethat she manages to derive a
remarkable amount about each sources attitudes. She even takes the risky step
of interpreting the general silence of the different periods of Greek culture on
this topic, arguing for instance that our Archaic sources do not regard femalefemale desire as part of the erotic realm. It is of course easy to dismiss a priori
any argumentum ex silentio, but given that there is some slight but definite
evidence for female-female erotic relations in the ancient world, Boehringer
may be right to see our sources silence as requiring interpretation; in any case,
her arguments on this point (as on so many) are solid and intriguing.

R eviews

121

If I have a complaint about this book, it is that Boehringer never sums up


her conclusions, either at the beginning of the book or the end; instead, at
both ends of her book she discusses methodological questions. In the body
of her book, Boehringer argues forcefully against many ideas now commonly
accepted about female-female love in antiquity. By placing her sources in
diachronic order, for instance, she shows that the opprobrium connected with
this kind of love in Roman or Imperial authors (in particular Martial, Juvenal,
and Lucian) who connect it with gender deviance appears nowhere in our
Archaic, Classical, or Hellenistic Greek sources. This (along with many more
complicated points) is a striking and valuable contribution to scholarship on
this area and should be emphasized clearly.
As a vase scholar, I would also suggest that Boehringer might have included more vase-painting in her volume. She shows an impressive grasp of
iconographical interpretation (as she does of myth studies as well), but while
I believe she is correct in the interpretations that she presentsboth of scenes
she views as erotic and of those scenes that she does notthere are a number of other scenes that she might have considered. I see strong parallels to
pederastic courtship in NY 06.1021.167, and such vases as Mississippi Univ.
1972.3.72, on which women are portrayed (as, again, pederastic couples sometimes are) with a cloak linking them, are highly suggestive. Both of these vases
are illustrated in Nancy Rabinowitzs Excavating Womens Homoeroticism in
Ancient Greece: the Evidence from Attic Vase-Paintingin N. Rabinowitz and
L. Auanger (eds.), Among Women: From the Homosocial to the Homoerotic in
the Ancient World (Austin 2002)to which Boehringer refers several times.
These are, however, truly minor quibbles. Boehringers book is a very
important addition to the study of gender and sexuality in antiquity. It is
not only the first book-length study of its topic, it also addresses it with an
admirable combination of scholarly caution and boldness and will I believe
be the standard reference in this area for some time to come.
Wabash College
Classical World 103.1 (2009)

ANDREW LEAR

Tessa Rajak, Sarah Pearce, James Aitken, and Jennifer Dines (eds.). Jewish Perspectives on Hellenistic Rulers. Hellenistic Culture and Society, 50.
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007. Pp. xiv,
363. $49.95. ISBN 978-0-520-25084-0.
In opposition to the consistent practice of biblical scholars to treat the
Greek Bible merely as an aid in correcting its Hebrew original, the contributors of this fine volume (Dines, Grabe, and van der Kooij) wholeheartedly
embrace Elias Bickermans half-century-old call to research the Septuagint in
its own right and in its Hellenistic context. Traditionally, the Hellenistic Jewish literature in Greek that emerged around the time of the Septuagint under
the names of Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha fell in the domain of biblical
scholars, and not of classicists, whose expertise was challenged because of
their insufficient grounding in Semitic languages. Now, however, bringing
classical and biblical studies together has become a guiding principle of the
AHRC Parkes Greek Bible in the Graeco-Roman World Project, which in
2003 sponsored an international colloquium on Representations of Hellenistic Kingship. In this volume, the projects editorial board collected sixteen
conference papers which are not only well rooted in both Hellenistic history
and Jewish literature, but also thoroughly and successfully committed to putting the spotlight on both sides (4).