Vol. 58 (2022)

Published September 1, 2022



  • The Invisibles Achaemenid Heavy Cavalry During the Greco-Persian Wars

    Today, the Persian empires of Antiquity are still remembered as being famous for their expert use of cavalry forces. However, the textual, pictorial and archaeological evidence shows a slightly different picture, especially when the early Achaemenid period is considered. During the Greco-Persian wars, Persian riders had little chance to shine and were not able to show their full military potential against the Greeks. This paper examines the available sources and, through the evaluation of data, tries to answer some questions about the origins of (Persian) heavy cavalry and their presumed “invisibility” during this time. Their actual capabilities and close combat effectiveness are investigated, emphasising the parameters we associate with heavy cavalry and the use of body protection in combat. The primary question is, though, whether we can talk about “heavy cavalry” as a separate category during this period or not.

  • The Destruction of the City: Loss in the Greek and Roman Memory

    The appearance of the ethnically “Other” naturally has an impact on a society’s own identity. It provokes the confirmation or rephrasing of identity. The loss and destruction caused by an ethnically “Other” group creates an especially deep conflict in the society’s self-definition. This paper focuses on such events and the collective memory concerning these, through the case study of the Persian sack in 490 BC and one hundred years later the Gallic siege of Rome.

  • The Hero, the Realpolitiker and the Careerist: A Historiographical Approach to the Early Foreign Policies of Demosthenes

    The study explores the difficulties research has experienced in distancing itself from the 19th-century view of Demosthenes, rooted in the romantic cult of genius. The approach offers a retrospective view of the young Demosthenes and his early political activities. Assessment of his work – and in some cases, the excuses created for its shortcomings – is influenced by the image of the later leader of anti-Macedonian politics and the speeches On the False Embassy and On the Crown. Based on Demosthenes’s speeches For the Megalopolitans and On the Liberty of the Rhodians, the study will argue – building on statements made by Badian and Wooten – in favour of redefining the typical image of the young politician and, by extension, not looking for consistent political aspirations where none were to be found.

  • Homer's First Battle Supplication and the End of Virgil's Aeneid

    One of the less appreciated literary influences on the Virgilian depiction of Aeneas' decision to slay Turnus at the end of the Aeneid is the first battle supplication scene in Homer's Iliad, the encounter of Adrestus with Menelaus and Agamemnon. Close consideration of Virgil's response to the Homeric scene sheds light on the poet's concerns in his presentation of the choice his Trojan hero Aeneas confronts in light of Turnus' appeal. Acrostics at the end of the Aeneid invite further reflection.

  • Acrostic Conversation: Horace, Ode I 18

    This article argues that gamma-acrostical disce in Horace’s Ode I 18 (ll. 11–15) alludes to the land-confiscatory acrostics recently identified in Virgil’s Eclogues (I 5–8; VI 14–24; IX 34–38). Horace has carefully signposted his acrostical intent. Virgil himself interfaces with this Horatian cryptography by means of other acrostics of his own. The result is an ‘acrostic conversation’.

  • The Gems in the Ustinow Collection, Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo

    Scientifically, the collection’s primary importance is its Middle-Eastern origin; collections of gemstones from the Middle East have rarely been published unlike those from European archaeological sites. Thus the possibility opens up to compare finds from the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire with a focus on similarities and differences. While in the western provinces the gemstones typically spread during the era of the Roman Empire, in the eastern provinces the use of seals and gemstones goes back several thousand years. It follows that in the western regions, representations of the official themes of the age of the emperors, including the characteristic figures of gods of the state religion (Jupiter, Minerva, Mars, Venus Victrix), are the most common. In contrast, the eastern provinces saw the spread of representations of local gods (Zeus Ammon, Zeus Heliopolitanos, Sarapis) or the Hellenistic types of the Greek gods (Apollo Musagetes, Aphrodite Anadyomene, Hermes Psychopompos). However, there were figures of gods that were equally popular in both regions, such as Tyche–Fortuna, Nike–Victoria, Eros–Amor, Dionysos–Bacchus, Heracles–Hercules. Each of these became rather popular in the Hellenistic World, spreading basically spontaneously throughout the entire Roman Empire. There was a similar unity in the popularity of represenations of animals, too.
    The eastern region was, however, characterised by the relatively large number of magic gemstones. There is a piece among these which has no exact analogy (Cat. 69) and its analysis sheds new light on the previous interpretation of similar pieces. The popularity of magic gemstones is highlighted by the fact that some of their motifs became distorted beyond recognition in the popularisation process. Understandably, Sasanian gemstones and seals, which revived the Romans’ dying custom of sealing for some time, were also typical of the eastern regions. What is conspicuous is that the stone cameos (agate, sardonyx) so common in the western regions are completely missing from the collection, while there is a fair number of glass cameo pendants made in the eastern regions.
    From an educational and community cultural aspect, the significance of the Ustinow collection lies in the fact that it represents several historical and cultural eras between the fourth century B.C. and the fifth century A.D. for the benefit of the interested public, private collectors, and students of archaeology and the antiquities. The gemstones may be small, but the representations on them can be extraordinarily rich in meaning. With adequate enlargement and due professional expertise, which this catalogue aims to promote, all this information can come to life in front of us, allowing us a glimpse into the lives and thoughts of the citizens of a Mediterranean world two thousand years back.

  • King of Kings Ardashir I as Xerxes in the Late Antique Latin Sources

    The last ruler of the Severan dynasty, Emperor Severus Alexander had to face an entirely new threat in Mesopotamia, because in 224 AD the Parthian royal house of the Arsacids, which had ruled in the East for nearly half a millennium, was dethroned by the Neo-Persian Sasanian dynasty and the new rulers of Persia were extremely hostile to the Roman Empire. The vast majority of the late antique Latin sources (Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, Festus, Jerome, Orosius, Cassiodorus, Iordanes) call the first Sasanian monarch, Ardashir I (reigned 224–241 AD), who was at war with Rome between 231 and 233 AD, Xerxes, although the Greek equivalent of the Middle Persian name Ardashir is Artaxerxes, as used by the Greek sources. In the Latin textual tradition we can find the correct Greek name of Ardashir only in the Historia Augusta. The paper seeks answers to the question of why Ardashir was usually called Xerxes by late antique Latin sources.

  • A Crux in the Proem of Henry of Avranches’ Bordo-Siler (R 129–144,17–18)

    The 13th-century poet Henry of Avranches has given us in the form of his Bordo-Siler what is a chef-d’oeuvre of poetic vituperation. The proem of this important poem is marred by textual corruption in the view of its editor and commentator, A. G. Rigg. The present article endeavours to show that the text is sound. Here we in fact have a reference to the parable of the Prodigal Son. We also have a clever jeu grammatical in the matter of metrical quantity.