ASCS 33 Proceedings


The abstracts and papers are listed here alphabetically:

1. Anagnostou-Laoutides, Eva (Monash University,

Title: Zeus and Apollo in the Religious Program of Seleucus Nicator and Antiochus I

Abstract: This paper discusses the appropriation of eastern cults by the Seleucus I Nikator and his son Antiochus in their struggle to establish their dynasty. I, therefore, examine the roles of Zeus and Apollo, the foremost divine protectors of the Seleucids, against near eastern royal traditions. The evidence indicates that the tradition of Apollo as Seleucus’ father was of a late date and limited circulation. Instead, at the start of the dynasty Seleucus seems to have promoted Zeus as his divine protector, while it was Antiochus who was primarily associated with Apollo. Although the phenomenon is often explained as the result of Antiochus’ more systematic religious policy, a more accurate explanation can be reached if we examine the solar aspects of Babylonian kingship which are transferred to both Zeus and Apollo during the Hellenistic period.
In Babylon, kings relied on the benevolence of Shamash, the Sun-god, for maintaining their just, god-sanctioned rule, often publicized on royal inscriptions. But while Shamash for responsible for the legislative duties of the king, Marduk, the protector of the city, determined its military supremacy. Marduk, identified in the Hellenistic period with Zeus Belos, acquired solar aspects in the same way that the divinity of a number of local Baals came to be praised in solar terms. Zeus was often worshipped as Zeus Helios, while Apollo was eventually identified with the Sun. However, Seleucus and Antiochus who posed as Babylonian kings did not assimilate the sun-god with Apollo: Seleucus relied on the favour of Zeus/Marduk to establish his kingdom, while Antiochus received the protection of Apollo who was identified with Nabu, Marduk’s son. Therefore, the first two Seleucids applied their insight of Babylonian traditions to the interpretatio graeca encouraging the identification of Marduk and Nabu with Zeus and Apollo respectively; thus, they promoted the father-son relationship of the gods, also projected on their kingship.   

2. Billot, Frances (University of Auckland,

Title: Representing Zama to create an iconic event

Abstract: This paper compares the use of certain literary features by Polybius, Livy and Silius Italicus to present the battle at Zama in 202BC between Hannibal and Scipio as an iconic event and a grand finale to the Second Punic War. The comparisons highlight some of the literary construct in Polybius’ Histories and illustrate how later authors adapt and possibly respond to Polybius’ presentation. Where Polybius’ special treatment of Zama, Hannibal and Scipio, reflects his belief in the pivotal role the outcome of the battle played for changing the balance of power across the ancient Mediterranean world (Hist. 15.9.2; 15.10.2), Silius’ treatment may also be read as presenting the outcome of the battle in terms of causing a shift in power balance, in this case at Rome leading to the development of the principate and the one-man rule of imperial Rome (Pun. 17.653-4; Pun. 3.261-264).

3. Bisset, Miriam (University of Auckland,

Title: Abduction or performance? A re-interpretation of scenes depicting satyrs carrying maenads in black-figure vase-painting.

Abstract: This paper will present the case for interpreting the representation of satyrs and maenads in the black-figure period as a reflection of some form of performance. The painters’ penchant for showing satyrs and maenads singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments is one of the clear indicators of this. This emerges from an analysis of the representations of gods, particularly Dionysos, in order to investigate the potential for interpreting the scenes as related to festival practice. Thus far groups of vases which show satyrs and maenads engaged in various activities have indeed supported the hypothesis that more vases than previously thought can be seen as evoking festival or ritual practice. The activity that will be the focus of this paper is that of satyrs lifting maenads and carrying them on their shoulders. Although the connotation of abduction in these scenes seems obvious, the indications of dance and the inclusion of musical instruments in the depictions support an interpretation of the scenes as showing a performance of abduction. More importantly, these representations of performing satyrs can also be seen as evoking the festivals of the god for whom they dance and sing.

4. Covino, Ralph (University of Tennessee – Chattanooga,

Title: The leges Scipionis of Cic.Verr.II.ii.123-4—Whose are they?

Abstract: The Scipionic laws which regulated the senate at Agrigentum have caused scholars working on the Verrines and Roman Sicily concern. There have been nearly as many theories as to the identity of the Scipio in question as there are available Cornelii Scipiones. Unlike the other two civic reorganizations which Cicero examines in nearby passages, i.e. those of Halaesa and Heraclea wherein the names of the consuls in office at the time of the reorganization or of an indisputably datable magistrate are provided, in the case of Agrigentum there are few clues as to the appropriate time frame for context – or anything else for that matter.
This paper seeks to consider the available Scipionic options and provide an analysis of Cicero’s use of Cornelian exempla elsewhere in his speeches. In doing so, the paper seeks to reject the two most commonly suggested Scipiones, Scipio Africanus (cos. 205) and Scipio Asiagenes/Asiaticus (cos. 190), as potentials at the outset and offer new support for Brennan’s theory that the responsible agent was Scipio Aemilianus (cos. 147 and 134). The process by which this conclusion is reached will offer possible solutions to other dating questions that emerge from Cicero’s speeches.

5. Di Castro, Andrea Angelo (Monash University,

Title: Hestia, a Tabula Iliaca and Poseidon’s trident: Symbols’ adaptations of some Bactrian and Gandharan divinities

Abstract: This paper investigates cultural adaptations of ancestral traditions between the Hellenistic and local elites in Western and Central Asia from an iconographic and symbolic point of view. It is recognized that the hegemonic Greek population made use of symbols such as the cornucopia and the mural crown (together with those emerging from the local background) in order to reiterate their control over resources. This can be also maintained from a merely symbolic perspective where the divinities legitimize the power of the new rulers and grant a fortunate, wealthy rule over a fertile rich-producing land. In considering select examples of material culture, this paper will look at the diffusion of some “western” symbols and their popularity in various later artefacts of the Indo-Iranian borderlands. Following the introduction of Hellenistic elements in the eastern regions the religious imagery was subject to a series of adaptations that in some cases had a longer life in local variations. This can be exemplified by the appropriation of “adapted symbols” by subsequent waves of conquerors that ended up in controlling the land that formerly was under the rule of Seleucus I.

6. Marshall, Bruce (Emeritus Macquarie University,

Title: ‘Riders in the Chariot’: Children Accompanying their Fathers in Roman Triumphs

Abstract: [The first part of the title has been taken from Patrick White’s novel of that name.]  A phenomenon associated with triumphs in the Roman republican period is the regular appearance of children, especially sons, accompanying their fathers. But it has received little comment. Given the strong religious associations in the appearance and paraphernalia of the triumphator, one wonders what justification there was for him to arrange for a son or sons to accompany him, sometimes in the triumphal chariot, at other times on one of the lead horses pulling the chariot. Did the triumphator require permission for this practice?  Did it have any religious connotations?  What was its purpose?  How common was it, and when did the practice start?  An examination of the evidence of literature and coinage might provide some answers to these questions – or maybe not.

7. Morrison, Gary (University of Canterbury, New Zealand,

Title: Romans, the Night and Martial

Abstract: Modern commentators have accepted a view of antiquity where the onset of night equates to the cessation of activity; Romans we are told ‘lived by day and slept by night’ [Balsdon (1969) Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome London: Phoenix Press. p.18]. But is this assessment reasonable? Anecdotes abound that suggest our understanding of the night may be too simplistic and in need of further analysis. This paper begins the process. We look at the imagery of the night, specifically societal expectations and associations to the night. We see the night as a time of excess and as an extension of the day. Certain practices are associated with the night, practices that are in turn based on social constructs that can reflect moral and social identity. Night imagery is demonstrably a complex mix of literary and societal expectations, and reality. Martial’s use of night and darkness is then analyzed, his literary imagery giving us further insight into Roman identity, culture and society. Our conclusions comment on methodology (a different ‘lens’ through which to view Roman society) and the complexity of unraveling literary imagery and reality. It also becomes clear that there is more to the night than we have understood and accepted to date.

8. O’Sullivan, Patrick and Wong, Andrew (University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and

Title: Odysseus the Athenian: Antisthenes, Thucydides, and an Homeric Hero in an Intellectual Age

Abstract: Antisthenes’ Ajax and Odysseus speeches present the conflict between the Homeric characters in their rivalry for the arms of Achilles. The speeches show the opposing natures of the two heroes, and how Odysseus, as the versatile hero, can achieve more than the inflexible Ajax. Antisthenes’ presentation of the intellectual heroism of Odysseus has some notable parallels to aspects of the Athenian character as shown in Thucydides. This paper will discuss the typically Athenian qualities, outlined by Pericles in the Epitaphios, which are similar to Odysseus' attributes in Antisthenes. The endorsement of λ?γοι by Antisthenes’ Odysseus and Ajax’s dismissal of them can be discussed in relation to Pericles’ views in Thucydides. What Antisthenes’ Odysseus says invariably correlates with the Homeric Odysseus, and so his alignment to Athenian intellectual ideas is significant.  Geographically Ajax is considered to be more of an Athenian hero, yet paradoxically the sophistic heroism of Odysseus more closely aligns him to Athenian values; it is the nature and character of the hero which is the more telling link. The correlation between Odysseus’ heroism in Antisthenes and Athenian values in Thucydides and other fifth-century sources is one which has not been examined in great detail and deserves a closer analysis.

9. Stevenson, Tom (School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, University of Queensland,

Title: Milo of Croton: heptaki[s]?

Abstract: The wrestler Milo of Croton (whose floruit occurred in the second half of the 6th Century BC) was probably the greatest athlete of the ancient Olympic Games.  He became a famous symbol of brute strength, and thus appeared regularly in stories dealing with the theme of ‘brawn versus brains.’  Milo is supposed to have won the wrestling at 6 successive Olympiads before being defeated by a youthful champion, who used his brains to outwit the venerable champion.  Did this really happen?  Could the tradition of Milo’s defeat stem from another ‘brawn versus brains’ story?  The aim of this paper is to question the widely held view that Milo’s career was marred by a single defeat at Olympia.  There is a possibility that he won an amazing 7 times in a row.

10. Thorpe, Sue (University of Auckland,

Title: Social aspects in ancient Egyptian letters from the Old Kingdom to the Late Ramesside period

Abstract: There has been considerable interest in ancient Egyptian letters, but the methodology of the research has resulted in a ‘compartmentalization’ of focus on individual letters rather than looking at a broader spectrum which considers the total range of letters from a societal and personal perspective. Personal correspondence can provide an important primary source of social history in ancient Egypt. This paper will provide an introduction to the topic by looking at a selection of letters of complaint across the timeframe of the Old Kingdom to the Late Ramesside period, ca.2720BC–ca.1070BC. An important aspect of the writing which will be looked at is the ways in which these complaints have been formulated and expressed. Discussed in conjunction with this are the identities of the sender and recipient and the additional information revealed about them and other people mentioned, together with the societal and administrative knowledge that the letters provide and the manner in which there are differing styles and modes of address. The final conclusion draws together the above to pinpoint the generic similarities and differences.

11. Tully, Caroline (University of Melbourne,

Title: The Sacred Life of Trees: What trees say about people in the prehistoric Aegean and Near East

Abstract: Iconographic evidence, primarily glyptic and fresco, is the main source of information about tree cult in the Aegean Bronze Age. Such images are widely considered to depict rural sanctuaries of various levels of architectural sophistication; three dimensional examples of which have been sought within the physical landscapes of Crete and mainland Greece. Poor archaeological preservation of vegetation from the Aegean Bronze Age means that the presence of trees at such sites can only ever be theoretically determined; any potential locations being dependent upon suggestions derived from architectural configurations. This paper abandons the wild goose-chase of seeking out the fugitive sacred tree, instead focusing upon its two dimensional representation upon gold signet rings and its probable politico-religious function. It argues that whilst the Minoan glyptic idiom appears realistic, the miniaturisation process characteristic of glyptic art means that such images are not scenes but signs, analogous to minimalist Cypriot and Israelite examples. Essentially depicting a heterotopic space, Minoan glyptic images of tree cult are promoted within the Neopalatial administrative network as utopic through the verbosity of sphragistic multiplicity.

12. Watson, Patricia (University of Sydney,

Title: Reality, Paradox and Storytelling in Aulus Gellius’ Narrative of Androcles and the Lion.

Abstract: The narrative has been discussed (1) as a folktale  (2) for the light it casts on the attitudes of spectators to venationes  (3) as an illustration of Gellius’ storytelling technique. 
Dealing in turn with each approach, I will show that
(1) the story need not be dismissed as complete fiction. Evidence for emotional interraction between humans and wild animals will be presented from both ancient and modern sources.
(2) there is a paradoxical inversion of the usual roles played by wild beasts and condemned criminals in the arena. The spectators react not merely from sentimentality but out of a recognition that both beast and slave have earned the right to enter civilised society by displaying traits associated with humanity and civilisation.
(3) Gellius’ qualities as a storyteller may be demonstrated by close analysis of the text, using as a source of comparison the relatively dry and straight-forward version of his contemporary Aelian. Gellius underscores in various ways the paradoxical nature of the tale, he makes effective use of the ‘flash-back’ technique to impart a sense of reality to the story, and in general he engages the reader, evincing a sympathetic response by his treatment of both Androcles and the lion.  


The ASCS Journal
Antichthon Journal


ASCS 34 (2013)

Deadline for offers of papers extended.