Vol 54 (2018)

Published September 1, 2018

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Articles

The enactment of moderation in Plato's "Charmides"
5–34

Plato’s dialogues are as much literary dramas as philosophical inquiries. In light of the scope and development of σωφροσύνη and the carefully crafted historical resonances of the dialogue’s dramatic date and cast of characters, it is argued here that σωφροσύνη is a foundational virtue, best understood as moderation, moder...ating one’s behavior, rather than on a par with other virtues. The Charmides is non-dogmatic, rather than skeptical or aporetic, and essentially political rather than ethical or epistemological, as often assumed. Rather than asserting any simple, propositional account of moderation, it enacts a complex moral and political view of moderation that unifies many strands of the term’s meanings in Greek through the persons and words of its characters and operating as much through the reader’s, imagination, and emotions as through reason and purely logical argument.

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How does a Goddess of the Earth became the Mistress of the Sea?
35–48

With the coming of the Ptolemaic dynasty to the Egyptian throne, the goddess Isis goes through a series of changes that will turn her into a very different divinity. This new Hellenistic or Greco-Roman Isis not only stands out for the degree of expansion attained throughout the Mediterranean world but also for displaying a series of attributes,... among which we highlight one in particular: Her role as goddess of the Sea. This not only changed the attitude of her devotees but also entailed deeper ritual implications, festivities and iconographic motifs. There are innumerable variations that brought about her “metamorphosis” into a maritime deity, especially since this was one of the most popular facets of Isis that penetrated the Roman Empire.

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Isis the immigrant and Roman toleration
49–71

In adopting a foreign cult, ancient Roman worshippers were not searching for a new religion to replace their old one, but rather seeking to expand the range of gods and practices at their disposal. They assumed that all traditional gods and religions were valid and effective. There was, therefore, an implicit toleration built into the system of... ancient polytheism, and this was admired by the thinkers of the Enlightenment, though the Roman state never guaranteed freedom of worship. The cult of Isis was distasteful to the Roman élite, and the government often reacted brutally to particular actions by her worshippers. Nevertheless, her cult was always popular with the general public and the state never wished to abolish it, and eventually built a public temple to Isis. The worshippers of Isis tested the limits of Roman toleration and demonstrated its vitality.

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MA VE PU again: Kill Caesar! (Georg. I 424–471)
73–90

This article deals with the Virgilian onomastic in Georgic I 429-433: some fresh considerations are advanced. In particular this sphragis would seem to endorse an overlooked acrostic: “Kill Caesar!”

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Continuity through change: Augustus and a change without a break
91–106

“Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same”: this sentence, overstepping the borders of its novel (the famous G. T. di Lampedusa’s “The Leopard”) and the context of the reaction of local nobles to Garibaldi’s Sicilian expedition, has entered in a sort of timeless dimension, becoming appropriate for several ages and... events. It effectively depicts the case of the “Augustan Revolution” – recalling Ronald Syme – when the birth of the new regime brought with it a pivotal change and the need to hide it under the cloak of continuity. Augustus’ absolute preeminence was by itself the proof of a completely new situation; the will and the need to show continuity was instead evident in his flaunted adherence to republican laws, according to which he assumed only the powers prescribed by the Roman “constitution”, but exceeding them in virtue of his superior “auctoritas”. In this continuous dualism between persistence and rupture, I shall attempt to consider what in actual fact changed and what did not. I think that behind the idea of a complete transformation it is possible to see a politics that was still working in accordance with the same guide-lines and in the same ways.

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Image, text, corpus in the stories of Narcisus and Pygmalion in Ovid's "Metamorphoses"
107–121

The article offers a comparative analysis of Ovid’s stories of Narcissus and Pygmalion. The analysis highlights the intertextual link between the two narratives, and uses it as the basis for comparison, focusing on the single aspect: who creates what, and how. The paper concludes that what is at stake in the two texts at a fundamental level c...an be found in the sphere of aesthetics

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Empire and invention: the Elder Pliny's heurematology ("Nat." VII 191–215)
123–135

This paper focuses on the catalog of inventions and inventors that concludes book VII of Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia (Nat. VII 191-215). While the list is certainly a fundamental source for the largely lost tradition of Greek invention-catalogs, the literary, rhetorical, and intellectual-historical importance of Pli...ny’s heurematography has, to date, rarely been appreciated for its own merits. I argue that, in spite of the seemingly irregular and heterogeneous character of the catalog, the underlying rhetorical strategy of Pliny’s heurematography allows the list to become a teleological narrative. As I argue, Pliny’s main goal is to show the Romans’ historical merit in unifying the whole Mediterranean world through the appropriation of its cultural and technological patrimony.

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Accio nell'età degli Antonini: il giudizio di Frontone
137–145

This paper aims to analyze the reception of Accius in Fronto’s Epistulae. The connections between Accius and Fronto emphasize various interesting aspects (e.g. Fronto’s influences on the emperors’ literary background); simultaneously, they point up some questions which might seem to require caution: in contrast with some previous... authors, Fronto’s value judgement does not seem particularly enthusiastic; moreover, Accius seems to be part of a canon. Finally, Van den Hout’s editions show the persistence of some textual problems, with the result that testimonia appear uncertain and need to be discussed.

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The cult of Glykon as a 'New Religious Movement'
147–160

This essay explores the integration of eastern religions into the Roman world during the early Empire by examining one particularly successful example, the Cult of Glykon, which became popular during the later second century and following. Drawing on the characteristics that social scientists have identified as most significant in contributing ...to the success of New Religious Movements (NRMs) in the recent past, the presence of these features in the Cult of Glykon is considered from the surviving evidence, including the satire Alexander or the False Prophet, which was written by Lucian of Samosata. As this discussion makes clear, the Cult of Glykon appears to have achieved some measure of success as a New Religious Movement in the Roman world because it possessed many of the same characteristics. They are, therefore, a useful starting point for exploring the integration of other religious groups in the Roman world.

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Mithras, Neoplatonism and the stars
161–180

The main ideas of this study (which is a continuation of my former article entitled “Mithras, Sol Invictus, and the Astral Philosophical Connections”) are the following: I. The dichotomy and differences between the two main groups of theories regarding the origins of the Roman mystery cult of Mithras, namely the school of ...the great Belgian scholar Franz Cumont, who considered Mithraism in the Roman world as an essentially Iranian cult adapted to the new cultural Hellenistic-Roman context, and the theory of the 19th century German scholar K. B. Stark (revived in the 1970s by academics like R. Beck, J. R. Hinnells, S. Insler, R. Gordon, and A. Bausani, who considered that the Roman cult of the solar god Mithras was a new mystery cult which was born in the Roman world because of the Hellenistic scientific discovery of the precession of the equinoxes.1 My conclusion is that the Roman cult of Mithras, fused with the cult of Sol Invictus (the Hellenistic-Roman cult of the Unvanquished Sun), has more things Iranian than the name of the central deity of this initiation-mystery cult (despite its undeniable Hellenistic-Roman and astrological-astronomical elements). II. The astral element as a potent religious component of the religious and philosophical mentality of the so-called “mystery religious and initiation cults” in the Roman Empire is seen in Roman Mithraism as a ladder for the journey of the soul through the astral spheres towards perfection or possibly towards liberation (these are modern interpretations, since we do not have any consistent Mithraic religious-liturgical text). III. The role of Neo-Platonist philosophy in the religious and philosophical landscape of the 3rd and 4th centuries CE of the Late Roman Empire and its possible relationship with the Roman cult of Mithras.

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