Reading Greek and Hellenistic-Roman Spolia

Objects, Appropriation and Cultural Change


Plundering and taking home precious objects from a defeated enemy was a widespread activity in the Greek and Hellenistic-Roman world. In this volume literary critics, historians and archaeologists join forces in investigating this phenomenon in terms of appropriation and cultural change. In-depth interpretations of famous ancient spoliations, like that of the Greeks after Plataea or the Romans after the capture of Jerusalem, reveal a fascinating paradox: while the material record shows an eager incorporation of new objects, the texts display abhorrence of the negative effects they were thought to bring along. As this volume demonstrates, both reactions testify to the crucial innovative impact objects from abroad may have.
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Irene J.F. de Jong, Ph.D (1987), University of Amsterdam, is professor emeritus of Ancient Greek. She has published widely on Homer, tragedy, Herodotus, and ancient narrative. Recent publications include Narratology and Classics: a Practical Guide (OUP 2014) and (with M. de Bakker) Speech in Ancient Greek Literature (Brill 2022).

Miguel John Versluys, Ph.D. (2001), is Professor of Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology at Leiden University and PI within the Gravity Grant program Anchoring Innovation. His research focuses on the cultural dynamics that characterise the global ancient world. Recent publications include Visual style and constructing identity in the Hellenistic world. Nemrud Dağ and Commagene under Antiochos I (Cambridge 2017) and the edited volume Canonisation as innovation. Anchoring cultural formation in the first millennium BCE (Leiden 2022).

Series Editors:
Irene J.F. de Jong, University of Amsterdam
Eric M. Moormann, Radboud University Nijmegen

Editorial Board:
Stephen E. Hinds (University of Washington, Seattle)
Caroline Kroon (University of Amsterdam)
Margaret Miles (University of California, Irvine)
Maarten De Pourcq (Radboud University, Nijmegen)
Sitta von Reden (University of Freiburg)
Michael Sommer (Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg)
Liba Taub (University of Cambridge)

Advisory Board:
Josine Blok - Luuk de Ligt - Olivier Hekster - Andre Lardinois - Ineke Sluiter - Teun Tieleman - Onno van Nijf - Miguel John Versluys - Antje Wessels
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

Part 1: Introduction

1 Innovating Objects? Spolia and the Question of Appropriation
Irene J.F. de Jong and Miguel John Versluys

2 How to Deal with ‘Things from Outside’: An Anthropological Perspective
Pieter ter Keurs

3 Triumphus and the Taming of Objects: Spoliation and the Process of Appropriation in Late Republican Rome
Miguel John Versluys

4 Spolia as Exempla / Exempla as Spolia: Two Case Studies on Historical (Dis)Continuity and Morality
Christoph Pieper

Part 2: Case Studies

5 Herodotus’ Framing of the Persian Spolia at Plataea
Irene J.F. de Jong

6 Herodotus and the Persian Spolia on the Acropolis of Athens
J.Z. van Rookhuijzen

7 ‘A City Is Not Adorned by What Comes from Outside, but by the Virtue of Its Inhabitants’: Polybius on the Pragmatics of Spoliation
Rutger J. Allan

8 Spoils of Sicily and Their Impact on Late Republican Rome: An Archaeological Perspective
Suzan van de Velde

9 Luxuria peregrina (Livy 39.6): Spolia and Rome’s Gastronomic Revolution
Lidewij van Gils and Rebecca Henzel

10 Showing and Telling Spolia: The Triumphal Procession of Aemilius Paullus in Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus
Michel Buijs

11 ‘The Glory of Alexander and Philip Made Spoil by Roman Arms’: The Triumph of Aemilius Paullus in 167 BCE
Rolf Strootman

12 Between Triumph and Tragedy: Josephus, Bellum Judaicum 7.121–157
Luuk Huitink

13 Judaea at the Tiber: Sacred Objects from Judaea and Their New Function in Imperial Rome
Eric M. Moormann

Part 3: Conclusion

14 ‘Spolia’ as Category: Greek and Roman Perspectives
Classicists, archaeologists, and ancient historians, at all levels.
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