October 12+13
2001

Keynote Lecture:
Irene Winter,
Harvard University
October 12, 6:00 pm

Symposium:
October 13
10 am - 5:30 pm

Payson Lecture Room
Carpenter Library
Bryn Mawr College

 

ABSTRACTS

 

Geoffrey F. Compton, University of Michigan

Professional Merchants and Transnational Class Formation in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean

The existence of professional merchants in the international society of the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean has rarely been doubted. Archaeological and documentary evidence have been employed in discussions related to the direction and intensity of the traffic in certain categories of goods, the means of transportation, and the interest taken by states in the maintenance of their commercial links. Rarely, however, has the existence of this class of commercial specialists been viewed in terms of its social, as distinct from material, significance. Cross-cultural research into the mechanics of commercial specialization, particularly in the case of long-distance exchange, suggests that with the `real' risks of physical harm and financial loss comes the psychological threat of social dislocation, as such merchants occupied a position marginal to society, physically separate from their home community and culturally separate from foreign host communities. That strategies to minimize these risks and maintain the infrastructure of Late Bronze Age international exchange were institutionalized by both home and host community is apparent from the documentary evidence. Yet professional merchants may also organize to protect their own interests through the establishment of social norms independent of those of participant states and irrespective of the national or ethnic origins of the merchants themselves, thereby comprising a transnational class of commercial specialists. This paper presents evidence for the social and economic power possessed by just such a transnational class in the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean, a collective power which is paradoxically derived from the marginal social position of commercial specialization.

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Margarita Gleba, Bryn Mawr College

Specialization in Death: Spinners and Weavers in Iron Age Italy

Textile production is one of the oldest specialized crafts that involved both amateurs and professionals. Archaeological, representational and literary evidence indicates that, in many societies, spinning and weaving was practiced primarily by women. In Iron Age Italy, the textile craft became a symbol of the female sphere of life, and women's contribution to the community as textile workers was expressed by the deposition of spinning and weaving implements in their burials. Anna Maria Bietti Sestieri and other scholars have proposed a differentiation between spinners, defined by a single spindle whorl, and weavers, whose burial assemblages included several spindle whorls and numerous rocchetti. I suggest rather that the whorl defines the deceased as female, while rocchetti signify that the deceased was a specialist textile worker. Spinning implements in precious materials, such as bronze, silver, amber, and bone, support the notion that these implements were important symbols of femininity across different social classes. I will argue on the basis of the archaeological evidence that the roccheto was utilized as a kind of loom weight for the production of long narrow bands of cloth, that could have been used as decorative borders on clothing. Large numbers of rocchetti excavated at habitation sites, like Poggio Civitate, indicate the existence of specialized workshops. Deposition of the rocchetti in a burial is therefore an expression of the deceased's specialization in textile craft. All women practiced textile craft, but only professionals brought all their tools into the afterlife.

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Jennifer E. Gates, University of Michigan

Hellenistic Merchants: Ancient Evidence and Modern Misconceptions

Discussions of "specialists" or "professionals" in antiquity are often limited to considerations of artisans, artists, workshops and production. However, this is as much a result of the modern privileging of the arts in antiquity over other professions, as it is a reflection of any historical reality. These modern notions about the "laboring" classes in antiquity have been partially shaped by the writings of ancient social commentators who deplore the working masses and separate themselves from an "other" composed primarily of merchants, farmers and slaves. This has been so dominant a paradigm of ancient society that some cultural and economic historians have largely neglected evidence for these groups and chosen to consider, instead, a select group of elite professions, often writers, public figures and artists. Archaeologists and art historians have similarly focused upon a restricted body of objects which exemplify an elite pattern of consumption and production.

In this paper, I will address some of the ways modern definitions of elite and "common" professions have bled over into our reading of ancient historic sources and the interpretation of archaeological material which pertains to the ancient economy. To explore this phenomenon, I will consider the case of the Mediterranean merchant during the Hellenistic period. I will also briefly discuss ways in which a new emphasis on the role of the merchant in the Hellenistic economy will expand understanding of trade and exchange in that period. This reassessment of the professional merchant will, hopefully, emphasize the need for an evaluation of out own preconceptions about the status of nonelite professionals in the ancient Mediterranean.

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Mark Masterson, University of Chicago

Augustus’ Aristippan Architect or Pleasure and the Client

In the preface to the sixth book of Vitruvius's De Architectura, the philosopher Aristippus (435-366 BCE), a shipwreck victim, washes up on shore in Rhodes. By means of a number of textual strategies, Vitruvius encourages his readers to identify the idealized architect that emerges from his 20s BCE treatise on architecture with Aristippus. Constructing an equivalence between this successor to Socrates and an idealized architect (whose behavior and education Vitruvius specifies with a view toward raising the general estimation of architecture) is a move that deserves consideration. Aristippus was notorious for privileging pleasure and, an this basis, is on occasion associated with Epicurus (eg Cicero, De Finibus 1.23.) Furthermore, if Lucretius is any guide, then, in at least some quarters, the prizing of a philosopher who privileged pleasure could be a productive procedure. However, other Romans, such as Cicero, found Aristippus objectionable on the basis of his views on pleasure, seeing in Aristippus a betrayal of the life of the mind for the pleasures of the body (eg Academice 2.139-40.) Hence, it is of some interest that it is Cicero who famously states that medicine and architecture are the two professions (cries) suitable for the free (De Officiis 1.151.) Vitruvius and Cicero, accordingly, do not envision architecture in precisely the same terms. In the paper, I consider how we can understand Vitruvius's concern for the raising of the status of architecture and his use of Aristippus in relation to Cicero's concerns about the dangers of pleasure. As it turns out, the use of Aristippus as a model for an architect, which at first seems counterintuitive and possibly counterproductive, is in the end a useful rhetorical move for raising the status of the profession.

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Eoghan Moloney, Cambridge University

Royal Choregoi and Greek Tragedy — New Beginnings, Changing Performance

For students of Roman civilization the issue of patronage casts a large, even overpowering, shadow over the study of that society and its literature. But in the study of Greek literature this is a topic that has been neglected somewhat. Traditionally when critics treat the subject it is usually with a quick reference to some anecdotes about Simonides and Pindar. The issue of patronage has been a topic of particularly little concern to scholars of Greek tragedy. After all, the context for the most important of all ancient theatrical performances (the City Dionysia in Athens) has long been well established by historians. But there was more to tragedy's moment than has generally been acknowledged. As the genre developed into an international art form a wider selection of benefactors began to offer new commissions to playwrights, directors, and actors.

In my paper I shall explore the nature of the relationship between theatre, cast, and these new choregoi:

• To what ends did 5th and 4th century BC kings like Hieron of Syracuse, Dionysius I, Archelaus of Macedon, Philip II, Alexander the Great, and Demetrius Poliorcetes lavish vast sums on theatre festivals?

• What context can we establish for the dramatic productions of these highly astute manipulators of the genre?

• What of the literati? To what effect, and, indeed, for what incentive, did established Athenian stars (e.g. Phrynichus, Aeschylus, Euripides, Agathon) perform on foreign stages?

• How did their productions interact with the social, political, and religious discourses in these sites?

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Andrew Fenton, University of Pennsylvania

Tu maior: Community and Virtuosity in Virgil's Eclogues

Since the time of Servius, Virgil's Eclogues have tended to be read either as allegorical representations of political events, or as purely aesthetic, even escapist, depictions of the power of song. This paper, however, will show that the Eclogues are concerned on a deep level with the conditions of poetic production in Virgil's day. In particular, they portray a conflict between two ideologies of poetic creation: the one, based on equivalence, community and amateurism, and the other, on hierarchy and individual excellence.

The fully pastoral Eclogues, in particular 3 and 7, depict communities of shepherd-poets who exchange songs freely and without distinction based on social class, or even talent. Both are contests, but 3 ends in a tie, and the reason for Corydon's victory in 7 is famously problematic. Competition, accordingly, forms the basis of an economy of exchange, one in which poetic and economic distinction flow back and forth equally. This paper will compare Menalcas and Mopsus' performances in Ecl. 5, where Menalcas attempts to efface the difference between himself and the younger Mopsus, who threatens to overwhelm the pastoral balance both by reciting written poetry and by putting on a virtuoso performance. The problem of how to accommodate exceptional talent is also stressed in the first Eclogue, where Tityrus' petition allows him to keep his pastoral lifestyle; the inverse is true for the failed poet Moeris in Ecl. 9.

Finally, I will argue that this anxiety over emerging poetic hierarchies reflects the shift of modes of poetic creation in the triumviral period, from circles of amateur poets, such as Catullus', to the prominence of professional poets, reliant on patronage, in the Augustan age. Virgil's shepherds accordingly highlight nostalgia for a lost community of poetic equals.

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Gregory Starikovsky, Columbia University

Poet vs. Poetaster: Horace on the Profession of the Poet in the Ars Poetica

My paper deals with Horace's treatment of literary professionalism in one of the most influential texts of classical antiquity and western literary tradition, the Art of Poetry. In this paper, I propose to define the Horatian concept of the trained Roman professional poet in opposition to the random dabbling of amateur poetry, which is broadly criticized throughout the poetic treatise.

In the Art of Poetry, while not denying the importance of a natural capacity for verse composition (ingentum, cf. A.P., 1. 385), Horace without reservation gives preference to literary training (ans), and he continually emphasizes the need for literary apprenticeship. Horace's concept of professional poetic training can be divided into two constituents. The first — and here the poet follows Aristotle and Neoptolemus — deals with the necessity for the professional poet to concern himself with literary technicalities, such as characterization (e.g., A.P., 11. 156-78, 312-16), appropriateness of poetic diction (e.g., A.P., ll., 92-98, 105-24, 185-88), and structure (e.g., A.P.,11. 23, 34, 240-43). The second constituent of the poet's ars - and here Horace is original — deals with what might be called poetic ethics, a much-neglected subject in the ancient literary theory (e.g., A.P.,11. 38-41, 263-68, 291-95, 377-78). It is significant that Horace's precepts of how one should write are accompanied by trenchant criticism of the weak craftsmanship that, according to Horace, is a besetting vice of Roman poetry (cf. A.P., 416-18). Careful analysis of the Horatian concept of literary professionalism will shed new light on the way Horace perceived his own literary objectives and — more broadly — the position of the poet in Augustan society.

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Holly M. Sypniewski, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Vergilian Expert or Amateur Vergil? The Poet of the Ps.-Vergilian Culex Reconsidered

The Culex is a short hexameter poem transmitted as a part of the Appendix Vergiliana, the collection of minor poems whose attribution to Vergil is uncertain. The authenticity of the Culex was a long standing debate until Giintzschel (1975) all but conclusively proved that the poem was composed c. 35 CE by a Vergilius personatus who adopted the persona of young Vergil. Even prior to Guntzschel's study, critical opinions of the poem's literary merits were firmly divided along the lines of the poem's authenticity: those who attribute the poem to Vergil see it as an "example of consummate Alexandrianism" (Berg 1975), while those who deny Vergilian authorship consider its poet a "bungling versifier" and "mere poetaster" (Housman 1902). What could inspire such radically different opinions about the same poet and his poem? In this paper I will argue that any literary merits of the Culex have been too closely bound to the question of the poem's authenticity, and that our judgment of the Culex as pseudonymous has condemned the poem to near obscurity. I will discuss a few examples of the poem's literary allusions to show that, although it was not written by Vergil, the Culex still contains many examples of Roman Callimacheanism (in particular allusions to Cat. 64). I hope to prove that a Culex composed by a "Vergilian expert", one with enough poetic acumen to imitate the greatest of Rome's poets, should be given the same literary consideration as a Culex written by an amateur Vergil, still in his creative infancy.

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Ian Verstegen, Temple University

Imitating the Inimitable: Federico Barocci's 'Incompetent' Workshop

Federico Barocci (1535-1612) had a workshop filled with untalented youths, none of which went on to great careers. Less than an arbitrary fact, this sheds important light on the structure of his workshop and the technology he employed to produce altarpieces. Barocci did not have his students rough out (abbozzare) subjects that he would touch up and pass off as his own in the manner of the great Venetian Titian. More tuned to Central Italian practice he was chained to the faithfully drawn outlines of the cartoon. Barocci's mediocre youths could reproduce outlines from cartoons and these he might touch up. The test of authorship does not rest on visual quality as it does when deciding if Titian or one of his many pupils actually made a painting. Rather the test of authorship rests with the amount of preparatory drawings that exist for a given painting. This points to a paradox, however, for a copied composition only means Barocci's effort began elsewhere and any visual quality inhering in the piece is owed to him. Thus we should give more credit to these workshop production than we normally do. This does not mean that Barocci had no workshop, however, only that it was of a particular kind. The case of Barocci cautions us in applying too readily a Venetian, and what became the standard seventeenth-century model, of artistic production.

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Linda Ann Nolan, University of Southern California

Artist or Restorer? Artist as Restorer of the Antique in 17th century Rome

In 17th century Rome, the sculptor and restorer as two distinct categories did not exist. In the following century the rupture between the two practices, both theoretically and professionally, was the result of Winckelmann's and Canova's theories on the restoration of ancient art. The cult of the fragment and the esteem for originality stopped creative restoration as the artist was no longer seen as the appropriate person to perform suitable restorations. The division between artist as maker of sculpture and archaeologist as restorer of ancient sculpture was fully defined in the 19th century, definitions of which inform modern ideas of the roles of artist and restorer (and now conservator) of art.

In this paper, I shall show how the 17th century in Rome provides a venue in which to examine the beginnings of the division between artist and restorer of ancient sculpture. Key to my discussion is Orfeo Boselli's Osservazioni della Scoltura Antica (c.1650-64). In light of the views presented by Boselli, I offer a case study of Gianlorenzo Bernini and Ippolito Buzzi, seventeenth century sculptors in Rome who performed different types of restoration on ancient sculpture. Bemini rendered apparently minor restorations on pieces like the Ludovisi Ares (Ludovisi Collection, Rome) and the Sleeping Hermaphrodite (Louvre, Paris), with closer examination of the objects revealing the presence of the artist's creative hand. Buzzi's restorations range from the archaeological coherent as in the case of the Dying Gaul (Capitoline, Rome) to the largely creative, involving the combination of unrelated fragments, as in the Amore and Psyche (Ludovisi Collection, Rome). Buzzi's creative restorations did not stand the test of time, whereas Bernini's did. The theoretical and practical division in the 18th century registers a change in European culture's imagining of itself in relation to a fragmentary past that had its beginnings in 17th century Rome.

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Dara K. Sicherman, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Digital Expertise in Contemporary Printmaking: Professional Artists

Recent developments in the field of digital printmaking have aroused the attention of scholars and critics, curators and connoisseurs, artists and the general public alike. The Brooklyn Museum of Art's exhibition entitled Digital., Printmaking Now has prompted me to inquire what exactly it is that distinguishes the digital expert from the digital amateur?

With the current revolution and continual evolution of the digital printmaking medium, virtually anyone with a computer and appropriate software program has some sort of access to computer "art." What then establishes the digital artist as an expert with that of an amateur practitioner or even someone who is simply sitting down at the computer for the very first time to design a birthday card or a garage sale flyer?

My paper will aim to address issues pertaining to how we might begin to classify someone as an "expert" in the field (and whether or not this is even an appropriate term for such a relatively new phenomenon), in addition to considering the work of someone who might be more clearly categorized as an amateur "technoguru." With such available access to developing computer technology, how and where can we draw the line between amateur and expert? What then can help us to better ascertain these idiosyncrasies within such a burgeoning and continually metamorphosing medium? With an understanding that the topic itself begs for further investigation, such questions will help to confront some of these issues so that we as scholars can begin to distinguish the differences between expert and amateur in the field of digital printmaking.

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Elizabeth Dungan, University of California, Berkeley

Imaging and Re-imagining: Scanning the Body

In The Birth of The Clinic, Michel Foucault argues that the medical clinic developed a specialized set of procedures of looking which served to regulate and conceptualize "the body." The medical gaze is thus a highly codified, institutionally-specific practice, one which shapes the representations of health and the body.

Using Foucault's notion of the gaze, this paper explores the specialized knowledge and viewing practices required by CT/MRI scans. Scans produce pictorial "slices" of the brain, which subsequently require translation by specialists. The conventions of representation are supposed to deliver meaning about the patients body — they are designed to allow the body's recalcitrant material condition yield a legible sign. But this effort to deliver certainty often fails. Scans are ambiguous, even to the most "practiced" of eyes. As technologies develop, physicians lack a standardized technique for producing/ interpreting the scans? Without standardization, medical personnel are extremely specialized: they might be proficient in reading one laboratory's scans, but can't reliably read images from other laboratories. This paper investigates the ways in which specialization and technologized imaging have increased the surveillance of the body, while simultaneously rendering it less "knowable."

This uncertainty about "reading" the body is highlighted by the artist Kiki Smith. Using her work, this paper explores artistic representation as one intervention in specialized procedures of looking. Smith explores the ambiguities inherent to medical visual practices. Her art allow non-specialists access to the ambiguities of imaging — and re-imagining — the body.

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