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Hommages à Carl Deroux, 4: Archéologie et Histoire de l’Art, Religion

July 2006 (110.3)

Book Review

Hommages à Carl Deroux, 4: Archéologie et Histoire de l’Art, Religion

Edited by Pol Defosse (Collection Latomus 277). Pp. xxiii + 567, figs. 3, pls. 69. Editions Latomus, Brussels 2003. ISBN 2-87031218-0 (paper).

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The volume begins with the bibliography of the works of Carl Deroux down to his 60th birthday in 2002. The variety and range of the contributions reflect the interests of the recipient and his international contacts. Readers will find subjects especially relevant to their own interests; the following are my choices.

The first section deals with art and archaeology, the second with religion. As is to be expected, there is much overlap in the two categories. Françoise-Hélène Pairault Massa’s contribution, for example, focuses on the role of the Etruscan death demon Vanth. Her rainbow-colored wings unite the dead Patroclus and the living Achilles, who is honoring his friend’s grave by spilling the blood of the 12 Trojan prisoners in the wall painting of the François Tomb in Vulci. The author’s final words on the centrality of sacrifice resonate in several contributions of this rich collection.

In the archaeological section, several other famous monuments are examined. Fred Kleiner writes on the Arch of Constantine, in “Roman Art in Microcosm”; Lucia Amalia Scatozza-Horicht discusses the House of the Faun and its owner. C.J. Simpson presents a new interpretation of the Bikini Girls of Piazza Armerina. Gianna Dareggi looks at the identification of the statue of Augustus from Otricoli as the Greek Diomedes, while Jean-Michel Croisille finds a historical context for the ekphrasis of the pinacotheca mirabilis mentioned in the Satyricon of Petronius.

In the second section, authors focus on problems of Roman religion. Robin Lorsch Wildfang, in “Why Were the Vestals Virgin?,” convincingly sets out four explanations for this complicated concept: (1) virginity kept them pure and enabled them to approach the gods in an appropriate state, setting an example to Roman women; (2) it ensured that they did not become members of an individual Roman family; (3) it gave them a special status that allowed them to represent Rome as a whole; and (4) it made them sacred and gave them a special power. In “Ovid and Lucretius on Virgin Sacrifice,” Charles Segal takes a purely literary view of the human sacrifice of Iphigeneia, Polyxena, and Philomela. Claude Sterckx identifies several Gallo-Roman goddesses with the Roman Diana as virgin, mother, and kourotrophos in “Les épiclèses indigènes de la Diane Gallo-Romaine.” In spite of the fact that language and religion are often the signs of a national sense of identity, Robert Turcan warns against relying on modern parallels when attempting to understand the religions of foreigners in the Roman empire: “Fani quidem advena, religionis autem indigena.” “Celer, un autre double maudit de Romulus,” by Alain Meurant, looks at the way Roman authors deal with the disturbing story of the death of Remus at the hands of Romulus. Germaine Guillaume-Coirier explains the religious function and symbolism of flowers, plants, and garlands represented in Roman scenes of sacrifice, “L’ornementation végétale de l’autel dans le déroulement du sacrifice romain.” Sandrine Ducaté-Paarmann examines votive terracottas from sanctuaries of southern Etruria as evidence for the cult of Minerva kourotrophos (see also this reviewer, in Antonia Rallo, ed., Le donne in Etruria [Rome 1989] 85–106). The Roman Pontifex Maximus is the subject of two informative contributions. Carlo Pellegrino investigates the curious case of L. Caecilius Metellus, whose blindness was attributed to him by ancient sources for religious reasons and propagated for political purposes, while Jean Gaudemet provides details of how and when the title of Pontifex was transferred from the Roman emperor to the medieval Popes. The apotropaic value of laughter was a basic part of the Roman festivals within which Roman comedies were performed; the author of “Fête archaïque et comédie antique,” Jean-Pierre Cèbe, looks at the place of Terence in this context. Frederick Brenk, in “Osirian Reflections,” presents some Pompeian images of the worship of Isis and Osiris. The fascinating philosophical theory of the harmony of the spheres is examined by Mireille Armisen-Marchetti in “L’harmonie des sphères chez Macrobe.” Finally, Richard Adam studies religious traditions in Livy concerning the Capitolium in the context of their political implications.

Larissa Bonfante
Department of Classics
New York University
25 Waverly Place
New York, New York 10003

Book Review of Hommages à Carl Deroux, 4: Archéologie et Histoire de lArt, Religion, edited by Pol Defosse

Reviewed by Larissa Bonfante

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 110, No. 3 (July 2006)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1103.Bonfante

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