A. Coskun (Hrsg.): Roms auswärtige Freunde

Roms auswärtige Freunde in der späten Republik und im frühen Prinzipat.

Coş kun, Altay
Göttinger Forum für Altertumswissenschaft. Beihefte 19
Göttingen 2005: Edition Ruprecht
Anzahl Seiten
X, 300 S.
€ 46,00
Rezensiert für H-Soz-Kult von
Federico Santangelo, Department of Classics, University of Wales, Lampeter

The University of Trier is home to a collaborative project on the foreign friends of Rome, and this volume collects some of the results of the first part of its endeavour. The topic is relevant to much of the recent historiography on the Roman Empire, and this collective volume is a significant contribution to this relatively recent trend of studies. In the introduction Altay Coşkun develops a convincing case for the importance of the theme, and offers a remarkable survey of the relevant bibliography. The emphasis is on three points: the problem of ‘foreign clientelae’ in the late Republic, the new friends of Rome on the fringes of the Greek world, and the conceptual representation of foreign friendship. Much of the problem is related to the role of the client kings, of course; and indeed Coşkun attempts the daunting task of providing a typology of client kingdoms in the space of three pages. It is a good effort, and one hopes that in due course he will want to present his conclusions more amply.

The volume offers a wide range of topics and methodologies. The relative lack of thematic coherence is largely compensated for by the quality of the individual contributions. Heinz Heinen provides an excellent discussion of the friendship between Rome, the Chersonesus and King Pharnaces I of ‘Pontus’, which is attested by an important inscription, datable to 179 BC (IOSPE I² 402), and must be understood within the wider context of the Roman presence in the North Black Sea. A study of the friends of Rome in the Greek East also implies the study of the importance of local autonomy. Another case in point is provided by the valuable study of Boris Dreyer on the contacts between Rome and the cities of Western Asia Minor in the second half of the second century BC, again based on two epigraphical texts, both recently discovered: the inscription from Metropolis on the preparations for the Aristonicus war and that from Pergamum on the dealings between the city notables and the senatorial committee that was in charge of the organisation of the province of Asia. The chronology that Dreyer suggests for the creation of the province is on the whole convincing, although there are occasional slips in his discussion: dēmagōgōn in Plut. Tib. Gr. 14 does not mean ‘as tribune of the plebs’ (p. 69), but something like ‘trying to gain the favour of the people’; and the law that created the province of Asia did not stay in force until the age of Augustus (p. 69), since it was overhauled by the Sullan resettlement of 85/84 BC. It is regrettable that Dreyer does not discuss the problem of the creation of the system of conventus after the end of the Attalids (Strab. 13.14.12 = C 628), and that the evidence of the lex portorii from Ephesus on the early history of the province is not called into play.

The ruthless exploitation of the province in the early decades of its history played such an important role in the success of Mithridates Eupator, and it is appropriate that the following contribution, again by Professor Heinen, deals with the King’s success in the Black Sea region; Memnon’s account of these episodes is duly revaluated against Janke.[1] Manuel Tröster has a very informed survey of the bonds of friendship and political loyalty that Lucullus built throughout Asia Minor in the Seventies. He argues that Pompey consistently tried to undo the arrangements of Lucullus in the region and to penalise his friends and clients. While there is little doubt about the first point, the case for the second one is far from compelling: the demise of Antiochus XIII and Ariobarzanes I had more to do with strategic reasons than with a desire to punish them for their friendship with Lucullus, and there is no evidence that the cities that had chosen Lucullus as their patron paid any price for that.

As the end of the Republic approaches, the position of the client kings becomes more significant. Kathrin Christmann has a study of the relationship between Pompey and Ptolemy XII, while Coşkun reassesses Cicero’s speech in favour of the Galatian King Deiotarus. He sensibly argues that the rhetorical code of personal friendship and affiliation is much more significant than the critique of Caesar’s regime that modern scholars tend to focus upon; and he also argues for the substantial accuracy of the account provided by Cicero. The two approaches are not mutually incompatible, of course – but the attempt to read the speech in a new light is very stimulating. The collection continues in a Ciceronian mood with John Lamberty’s study of the career of Lucius Cornelius Balbus, who was much more than an associate of Pompey or Caesar, and indeed became the first non-Italian consul in 40 BC. Lamberty seems to suggest that the importance of Balbus’ achievements is confirmed by the persisting attestations of the Cornelii Balbi throughout the Imperial age; this suggestion, however, is to some extent questioned by Jürgen Zeidler, who, in the following contribution, observes that the name Balbus was common throughout Spain and Gaul, like other names that derived from physical anomalies (p. 179–180). With its numerous entries on Spanish friends of Rome, from the Decidii Saxae to Q. Pompeius Niger, Zeidler’s article promises to be a useful working tool for many students of Roman history. With the last three papers we are back to the fringes of the empire. Julia Wilker has an essentially narrative study of Herod the Great; Hartmut Wolff studies the figure of friend-turned-foe of Rome, Arminius, who in fact was probably a Roman citizen and a member of the equestrian order. David Braund provides a perceptive discussion of Pythodoris, a dynast of the Black Sea region who built stable links with Rome and was very flatteringly portrayed in Strabo’s Geography. The choice of Gustav Adolf Lehmann as the final contributor to the discussion is very significant: this book places itself within the prestigious German tradition of studies on the relationships between Rome and the Hellenistic world, which has in Lehmann one of its most distinguished representatives.

The result of the whole collection is commendable, and it would be impertinent to dwell on the omissions, even if some of them may be striking: Seleucus of Rhosus does not even appear in the index [2], and the epigraphic dossier from Claros/Colophon is on the whole under-represented. The volume, however, has no pretence to be exhaustive, and it offers plenty of food for thought; the editor should be congratulated for having gathered contributions of consistently high standard. This book may well be just an interim report, but every serious Classics library should have it on its shelves.

[1] Cf. also my discussion in Simblos 4 (2004), p. 256–257.
[2] On this figure, see now Raggi, Andrea, Seleuco di Rhosos: cittadinanza e privilegi nell’Oriente greco in età tardo-repubblicana, Pisa 2006.

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