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Article

stola  

Kelly Olson

The stola was a long, sleeveless overdress or slip-like garment suspended from shoulder straps that is claimed by literary sources to be the distinguishing garment of the Roman matrona. The stola was worn over the tunic and belted with a cord (see Figure 1). It was a sign that the wearer (perhaps freeborn) was married in a iustum matrimonium. The term is not mentioned by Terence, Cato, or Plautus, and so the garment may not have been commonplace before about 50 bce. It is by no means referred to by all authors even after this date: often the garment of the married woman is referred to in general terms as longa vestis (e.g., Ov. Fast. 4.134), which may refer to her long enveloping tunic, and not the stola at all. It is uncertain whether or not freedwomen wore the stola (see ILLRP 977; = CLE 56; Macr. Sat.

Article

Michael B. Charles

Elephants were widely used in the Mediterranean World and Middle East for military purposes. The Mediterranean world first encountered them during Alexander the Great’s conquest of Achaemenid Persia, but the first major battle between a Mediterranean power and elephants occurred at the Hydaspes (326 ce) during Alexander’s Indian campaign. Thereafter, the Successor kingdoms sought to maintain elephant corps. When Ptolemaic Egypt was cut off from supplies of Indian elephants, it had to look south. The nearby civilization of Meroë had an interest in elephants, although it is unknown whether they used them militarily. Like the Ptolemies, the Carthaginians and Numidians also trained African elephants for war. Although Rome first encountered the Indian elephants of Pyrrhus, it had to contend with the African elephants of Carthage in the First and Second Punic Wars. Having beaten elephants in several battles, and recognizing that elephants were often a danger to their own side, Rome showed little interest in the elephant other than for display and games. This, together with their appetite for ivory, resulted in the extinction of elephants in northern Africa. African elephants were last used for military purposes by the kingdom of Aksum, although it is uncertain whether this use was commonplace. In contrast, the final user of Indian elephants in classical antiquity was Sasanid Persia, which used them against Rome in various wars, most notably during the 4th century ce.

Article

Erich S. Gruen

The Sibylline Oracles had a long life. The Sibyl was in origin a single Greek prophetess, renowned for the accuracy of her forecasts, divinely inspired, but portrayed as mad or raving, and regularly spewing forth dire forebodings. Additional Sibyls gradually sprang up in a variety of locations in the Mediterranean world, including the renowned Cumaean Sibyl whom Aeneas reputedly consulted. Sibylline prophecies were eventually collected in written form in Rome and used by Roman authorities to provide interpretation of unusual prodigies or natural disasters or to offer advice on significant matters of foreign entanglements and wars. Although that collection (insofar as it is historical) has long since disappeared, the voice of the Sibyl was reproduced in literary form. The extant Sibylline verses, composed in Homeric Greek hexameters, constitute twelve books of oracles, fashioned over a period of several centuries by numerous different and no longer identifiable hands. They constitute a motley assemblage of grim forecasts, historical references, apocalyptic visions, and denunciations of various peoples, especially Romans, for their abandonment of piety and indulgence in evil. The genre was appropriated by anonymous Jewish authors, speaking through the voice of the Sibyl, and employed to convey condemnation of cities and nations for the sins of idolatry, licentiousness, and a range of vices. Vivid portrayals of the end time and eschatological conflagration feature many of the texts. Subsequent Christian writers interpolated verses, added exaltations of Christ, and appropriated Sibylline pronouncements for their own ends. Others manipulated the oracles to record historical personages and events in the framework of prophetic pronouncements. The result was a complex and unsystematic compilation of reconstructed or fabricated prophecies ascribed to Sibyls but largely representing the ingenuity of Jewish and Christian compilers.

Article

Justa Grata Honoria was the elder sister of the western Roman emperor Valentinian III (reigned 425–455 ce), and the first child of the Augusta Galla Placidia and her husband Flavius Constantius (later Constantius III), who died in 421 ce (Olympiodorus, fr. 33.1). Honoria was born in late 417 or 418 ce,1 and in 425 her younger brother was acclaimed western emperor at the age of six years.2 At perhaps the same time or very shortly thereafter, Justa Grata Honoria was elevated to the rank of Augusta.3 Honoria cannot have been more than eight years old at the time of her elevation, and the creation of a child Augusta was a rare and almost unprecedented event, the only similar case being the recent elevation of her cousin Pulcheria, the older sister of the eastern emperor Theodosius II, who in 414 had been raised to the rank of Augusta while a teenager.

Article

Carlos Machado

The annona was the imperial service responsible for overseeing the supply of key food items to the city of Rome and the army. Primarily concerned with grain, the service became increasingly involved in the provisioning of other commodities, such as olive oil, wine, and pork. By the end of the 3rd century, the annona was a complex machinery involving private and public agents in different parts of the empire, overseen by the prefect of the annona, based in Rome. The operation of this system is documented in literary texts, administrative documents such as papyri and writing tablets, inscriptions, and a rich archaeological record, in Rome and in the provinces. However, the precise working of the system and the degree to which it was controlled by the Roman state remain open to debate. The annona was also involved in the supply of the army, especially with regards to provisions brought from distant producing centres. During the later empire, the system became more centralised, being overseen by the praetorian prefecture.

Article

Subura  

Ian Archibald Richmond and John Patterson

Subura, the valley between the *Viminal and *Esquiline hills of Rome, was connected to the *forum Romanum by way of the Argiletum and Forum Transitorium (see forum nervae). The district was notorious for its bustle, noise, and dirt, and for *prostitution. It was a well-known centre of trade and manufacture. Here lay a Jewish *synagogue. Distinguished residents included *Caesar, prior to his election as *pontifex maximus (Suet.Iul. 46).

Article

Dominic W. Rathbone

In the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, centred as they were on the Mediterranean, maritime transport was far more practical than land transport for long- and even medium-distance trade. Most ships seem to have been of medium size (around 70 tonnes burden) and to have been owned and run by a shipper who both carried goods as freight and traded on his own account. There were also many individual merchants who hired shipping as needed for their ventures. Then as now, the major expense in trading was the investment in purchasing goods; roughly, one cargo of wheat was worth as much as the ship. Hence a merchant, whether or not also a shipowner, often needed third-party finance, for which, because of the peculiar risks involved, a special type of loan was used. This was the maritime loan—nautikon daneion in Greek, nauticum faenus or mutua pecunia nautica in Latin.The maritime loan is first attested in 4th-century bce Athens, in four speeches attributed to Demosthenes, of which the most informative is the prosecution of the brother of a pair of merchants for fraudulent default on a loan (Dem.

Article

prices  

Paul Erdkamp

While our sources mention numerous prices of a wide range of commodities, the question remains to what extent these prices offer insight into the ancient economy. Despite the wealth of data, reliable prices of everyday goods under normal market conditions are rare. The extent to which they can be used to analyze such topics as market integration, living standards, market stability, and inflation is limited. Only regarding Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt do we possess sufficient market prices (rather than imposed prices or valuations) to conduct meaningful analyses. For most of the rest of the empire, the prices—in particular those of everyday goods—are generally too uncertain, too sparse, and too diverse to form a solid basis for economic analysis. It is a valid question, moreover, to what extent prices in the ancient world reflect the interplay of supply and demand according to modern economic theory. Nevertheless, ancient writers depict price levels as depending on the interplay of supply and demand, and market transactions, as narrated in our sources, emphasizing competition and bargaining, make clear that price formation was largely determined by economic forces. Hence, prices fluctuated over time and differed in various places. The authorities tried to keep prices of staple foods low by influencing market conditions, but direct price fixing was rare.

Article

Rebecca Langlands

Lucretia, the virtuous wife of Collatinus, was raped by a royal prince, Sextus Tarquinius, and killed herself after reporting the crime to her father and husband. Her death and the vengeance it inspired marked a turning point in Roman history in 509 bce, when Lucius Junius Brutus led the expulsion from Rome of the tyrannical Tarquinii, putting an end to monarchical rule, and founding the Roman republic; Brutus and Lucretia’s father Collatinus were elected the first pair of consuls. The avengers of Lucretia’s rape are thus champions of liberty, freeing Rome from tyranny. This is the core of one of Rome’s more powerful and enduring foundation legends. Although the episode is set in the 6th century bce, our most extensive early ancient accounts were written in the 1st centuries bce and ce by Livy, Ovid, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Augustan authors for whom Lucretia’s fate was a distant legend. Since antiquity, the story has been reworked and reinterpreted many times, in scholarship, political thought and philosophy, and literature and arts. It has been used to explore a wide range of political and moral ideas, including the ethical ramifications of both rape and suicide.

Article

The inherent strengths, weaknesses, and availability of diverse Roman building materials governed the techniques used in construction and greatly influenced the final appearance of Roman architecture. Trace archaeological evidence exists of buildings and burials in Rome from the Italian Bronze Age (second millennium bce) or earlier, and substantial physical remains, in the form of Iron-Age huts and grave goods, roughly correspond to the Romans’ own belief of the foundation date of their city (traditionally 753 bce). Rome’s earliest builders sourced materials obtainable from the immediate environment and transformed them using practical knowledge. Within the span of a couple centuries, architectural design, implementation, and decoration reflect a broad interaction between Roman builders and their counterparts in the regions around central Italy (particularly Etruria to the north and Campania to the south) and also the wider Mediterranean world, particularly those areas where Greeks traditionally lived or had placed colonies. While southern Italy and Sicily represent the closest areas for the transmission of Greek ideas, Greek building practices on the Greek mainland and in Asia Minor also influenced Roman projects from the Archaic period onwards. As Rome grew wealthier and expanded abroad, patrons and builders imported marble to the capital from the Aegean, well before the discovery of more local, Italian sources. The importation of exotic stones grew exponentially over the period of the late Republic and the first two centuries of empire. The coloured marbles that embellished the buildings of Rome served as physical testimony to Rome’s control over the eastern Mediterranean. Nothing, however, was as transformative as the adoption of concrete in the late 3rd century bce, the mass production of fired brick, and the ensuing experimentation that resulted in the vaulted structures that have become the hallmark of Roman architecture.

Article

Polybius was a Greek historian who documented Rome’s rise to power in the Mediterranean in the 3rd and 2nd centuries bce. Originally a leading figure of the Achaean League, he was deported to Rome after the defeat of Perseus of Macedon in 168 bce and became closely attached to Scipio Aemilianus, forming part of the so-called Scipionic Circle. While in Rome he began to write his Histories, a vast forty-book historical account of the middle-Hellenistic world and Rome’s establishment of dominion over the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, only the first five books remain complete; the rest are preserved in varying degrees of fragmentation. The Histories are the earliest surviving “universal” history and interweave events in the different geographical areas of the Mediterranean to demonstrate the increasing interconnectedness of world affairs.The Histories are described by Polybius as pragmatikos, concerned with political and military affairs, and have a strong didactic and moral tendency aimed at current and future leaders. The work intends not only to explain what happened in the Mediterranean and why, but also to train its readers to navigate a political and military career as successfully as possible and to bear the reversals of fortune with courage. As a historian, Polybius was characterized by his deep concern for the truthfulness of his narrative, his careful consultation of documents and witnesses, his efforts to apply reason and correct judgement, his focus on human character and action, and his elucidation of cause and effect. While not immune from political bias, Polybius adheres rigorously to his principles throughout the Histories and often criticizes other historians for their lack of accuracy, judgment, or objectivity.

Article

Cumae  

Matteo D'Acunto

Cumae was an early Greek colony that was established by the Euboeans (c. 750 bce), conquered by the Campanians (421 bce), and subjected to the rule of Rome (from 338 bce), benefitting from an enduring prosperity throughout the Imperial period. An important city of ancient Italy, Cumae’s economy was based mainly on agriculture and commerce. During the Campanian and Roman periods, it preserved Greek-rooted cults and traditions even as it adopted first Oscan and then Latin languages and customs.Cumae (Greek Kymē; Latin Cumae; modern Cuma), Euboean colony, founded c. 750bce, 16 km (10 mi.) northwest of Naples (Neapolis). It was an important city of ancient Italy during the Greek, Campanian (Samnite), and Roman periods; in the Medieval period it became a castrum (military fortification).The ancient settlement lies on the coast north of Cape Misenum in the region called the Phlegraean (“Fiery”) Fields due to its volcanic activity. The acropolis of Cumae is a rocky spur and in antiquity was a headland protruding into the sea. A north–south ridge, known as Monte Grillo, lies .

Article

rivers  

Brian Campbell

Ancient peoples lived in close proximity to the environment and experienced at first hand natural phenomena and landscape features that, while often helpful or indeed essential to life, were also potentially threatening. The land and its produce were crucial to survival, and in a predominantly rural world dotted with towns and cities, many people will have observed at first hand mountains, rivers, and the relationship of landscape to available space for settlement. Rivers expressed the local community’s link with the landscape and sustained river valley communities by providing water for drinking, washing, irrigation, and watering of animals, as well as offering routes of communication. Many rivers were also a fruitful source of fish, especially if the water was clean, such as the high-quality fish from the Pamisos in Messenia (Paus. 4.34.1–2). But of course rivers could also flood a settlement or sweep it away. In addition, popular reaction to the environment around the local area was often influenced by strong cultural and religious feelings associated with landscape. In this context, it is not surprising that some literary works were exclusively devoted to natural features of the landscape, for example describing rivers, their character, history, and legendary associations. Mythology helped to explain natural phenomena. Furthermore, the theme of rivers in various guises appears repeatedly in the work of geographers, ethnographers, teachers, poets, and historians. Philosophers were also interested in the curiosities of riverine conditions, which, by their timeless quality yet constant movement, seemingly offered a comment on the human condition.

Article

Harriet I. Flower

Terentia (c. 98 bcec. 6 ce?) was the first wife of Cicero, to whom she was married for over thirty years, and the mother of his two children Tullia and M. Tullius Cicero. She and Cicero divorced in 46 bce, two years before his death, but she lived on to be 103 years old (Val. Max. 8.13.6, Plin. HN 7.158). She is said to have later married Sallust and M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus, but these other marriages to much younger men seem highly dubious. Terentia is well attested in Cicero’s writings, especially his rich correspondence, as well as in other ancient sources, which makes her one of the most frequently mentioned women of the first century bce. Yet her own voice and point of view are hard to recover, since none of her letters to Cicero has survived. She is not attested as having been as independently active in politics or as visible in the public eye as the most prominent women, such as Servilia, Fulvia, or Clodia (the wife of Metellus). She was a wealthy and well-connected woman who worked hard to support Cicero and their children in times of exceptional political and financial turmoil.

Article

women  

Helen King

Almost all information about women in antiquity comes to us from male sources. Some women could read and write (see literacy), at least to the level needed for their role as guardians of the *household stores (e.g. Xen.Oec. 7.5 and 9.10; see housework), but, although there are many references to literary works by women, very few texts survive. The known exceptions to male authorship include women poets (e.g. *Sappho, *Corinna, *Erinna, *Nossis, Sulpicia (1 and 2)), early philosophers (e.g. *Hypatia; some Hellenistic pamphlets are attributed to Pythagorean women; see women in philosophy), personal letters from women, and the 5th-century ce travel diary of Egeria (*Itinerarium Egeriae). Many attributions to women are problematic. Were women's letters written by scribes? Is a text ascribed to a woman simply in order to attack a man (e.g. Aspasia's alleged authorship of *Pericles(1)'s speeches)?The central source problems, and the strategies developed to overcome them, underpin the large amount of work on ancient women produced since the 1980s.

Article

Carlos Amunátegui Perelló

According to tradition, during its first two and a half centuries of existence, seven kings governed Rome. Each of these promulgated regulations, which were known as the “laws of the kings” (leges regiae “royal laws”). Reports of these laws are to be found in many traditional accounts about the early history of Rome (most importantly, Dion. Hal. 2.7-29; Plut. Rom. 9.3; Cic. De rep. 2.8.14; Liv. A.U.C. 1.8), in a chapter of Justinian’s Digest dedicated to the origins of law extracted from a work of the jurist Pomponius (D.1.2.2, Pomponius, libro singulari enchiridii), and some casual statements made by antiquarians, including Varro and Gellius.

The fact that many—but not all—of the laws were attributed to Romulus and Numa Pompilius, the two most unlikely of the seven kings the tradition offers, led scholars generally to discard them as simple myths, historical anticipations (for some of the laws’ contents were repeated in the Twelve Tables), or even as fabrications of Dionysius in a political pamphlet.

Article

Harriet I. Flower

Servilia (c. 100 bce–?) was one of the most prominent women in the generation of Cicero and Caesar and the older half-sister of Cato Uticensis, who would become a martyr for the republican cause. She was the mother of Marcus Brutus, a leader in the plot to assassinate Servilia’s long-time lover, Gaius Julius Caesar, the dictator. Cicero describes her as having her own political views and as working to influence the chaotic events that unfolded rapidly after Caesar’s murder on the Ides of March 44 bce. Her life exemplifies many aspects that were traditional in the personal aspirations and family situation of elite women in republican Rome, as well as the uniquely harsh experiences of violence, civil war, and political disintegration that few in her generation escaped. Servilia is the subject of the first large-scale book treatment of a Roman family organized around the life of an individual Roman woman, published by Susan Treggiari in 2019.

Article

Reception in historical novels set in ancient Greece and Rome differs fundamentally between the 19th and the 20th/21st centuries. In the 19th century, reception was governed heavily by imperial attitudes and religious controversies, particularly in regard to claims about the true Christian faith under the Roman Empire. Hence, novels set in Rome or the Roman Empire dominated the field. In the 20th century, attitudes to empire and religion were drastically revised in the wake of World War I. The growing authority of academic history in an age of scientific progress was another factor which helped to produce a decline in the reputation of historical fiction. Other changes, however, were more stimulating in nature, including the use of ancient Greece as a setting, more impressive source analysis, the rise of female novelists, different subjects and perspectives, and new social and sexual attitudes. These and other developments lifted the reputation of historical fiction once more.

Article

fishing  

Annalisa Marzano

Fishing was an economically important activity in the classical world. Some communities owed their prosperity to the exploitation of bountiful fisheries and the trade in salted fish and fish sauces or the manufacture of products such as purple dye made from sea molluscs. Salted or pickled fish products supplemented a subsistence diet, while specific types of fresh fish were costly and sought after as status enhancers. Marine fishing rights were not the object of monopolies since in ancient Greece and Rome the sea was seen as something held in common. In practice, ownership of coastal fishing installations and control of specialist knowledge related to fishing were ways in which one could exercise control over fishing rights. In contrast, inland bodies of water could be held as private property and exclusive fishing rights to them could be claimed. Fishermen specialized in specific fishing techniques and formed professional associations. In the Roman imperial era, fishing activity and the trade in fish products increased.

Article

Cicero’s and Terentia’s daughter Tullia was born around 78 bce, shortly after her parents were married. Since her brother Marcus Tullius Cicero, her only sibling, was about 13 years younger and Tullia married young, she essentially grew up as an only child in the home of Rome’s leading orator. We do not know if any other siblings died as infants. She was surrounded by a loving and stable family and a large household of slaves. Her uncle Quintus Cicero and his wife Pomponia, sister of her father’s best friend T. Pomponius Atticus, were also a regular part of her life. Her mother’s half-sister Fabia was a Vestal Virgin. Tullia may have been brought up by a pious mother to practise Rome’s traditional polytheistic religion. Terentia also had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances amongst Rome’s elite women. Tullia received an excellent education and loved reading. She also enjoyed public entertainments, such as the games held at Antium, where Cicero owned a villa for a while.