2003

A2 -- Biographies by Era


Biographisches Archiv der Antike = Biographical Archive of the Classical World. Ed. Hilmar Schmuck. München: Saur, 1996–1999. ISBN 3-598-33970-4 (diazo fiches): EUR 9,800; ISBN 3-598-33971-2 (silver fiches): EUR 10,800 [99-B09-023]

According to the publisher’s website (http://www.saur.de), approximately 90 biographical reference works covering around 150,000 figures from antiquity were cumulated alphabetically to produce the Biographical Archive of the Classical World. Sources are from German, English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek. The Archive covers almost 1,500 years, beginning with some figures from the time of Homer through the “transition to the Middle Ages in the West, respectively to the Byzantine culture in the East.” The geographic area covered is “from Lusitania to India, from Britannia to North Africa.” It includes figures from ancient Persia and Egypt, listed under the heading of Hellenic and Roman rulers. [sh/sd]

Metzler-Lexikon antiker Autoren [Metzler Lexicon of Authors of Classical Antiquity]. Ed. Olivier Schutze. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, 1997. vii, 791 p. ill. 24 cm. ISBN 3-476-01547-5: EUR 49.90 [99-B09-028]

A product of roughly 150 collaborators covering approximately 450 authors of classical antiquity, this reference work sets a definitive standard for scholarship in Classical Studies. Entries contain information on the authors, their work, and its reception (if available). References to textual editions and secondary literature are included. Th e work is equally valuable for the interested layperson and the specialist. Early Christian writers are covered; articles from the Metzler-Philosophen-Lexikon [Metzler Lexicon of Philosophers] (1995) are included, as well. The volume is free of technical jargon. This work is highly recommended for purchase. [jm/sd]

Reclams Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Autoren [Reclam’s Lexicon of Greek and Roman Authors]. Bernhard Kytzler. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1997. 519 p. 16 cm. ISBN 3-15-029618-8: EUR 18.90 [99-B09-029]

The Berlin Classical philologist emeritus Bernhard Kytzler works with amazing speed as translator, editor, and author. His writing is of the highest quality and displays a fluid and elegant style. From his vast knowledge of the period, Kytzler presents information that brings humanism to life. The entries in this lexicon contain information on authors and their major works, and often brief interpretive notes as well, sometimes with text excerpts and comments on the use of language. Bibliographic information includes the major editions, translations, the most recent secondary literature, and personal bibliographies where available. A four-column synoptic timetable occupies nearly 100 pages and is broken into the categories of Greek literature, Latin literature, general cultural history, and political history.

The tables demonstrate the Latin-Greek bilingualism of educated Romans beginning in the Hellenistic period, which is vital to an understanding of Classical culture. A user-friendly bibliography is divided into subjects such as literature, music, mythology, and everyday life. Kytzler’s work is a welcome reference tool for students as well as general philologists and aficionados of the Classical period. [hak/sd]

Bildlexikon antiker Personen [Visual Lexicon of Classical Figures]. German Hafner. 2d ed. Düsseldorf; Zürich: Artemis & Winkler, 1997. 302 p. ill. 25 cm. [(Ed. note: rev. and expanded ed., Düsseldorf: Patmos, 2001, ISBN 3-491-96023-1: EUR 14.90)] [99-B09-030]

Whether the volume contains 418 entries or over 480, as it variously states, it is certainly one that can be recommended for a particular readership. The work lacks an overview of the research into classical portraiture and the meaning of Greek portraits— topics that have occupied generations of archaeologists. Still, as the volume states, it will be of interest to the general researcher or layperson who, in addition to being able to read the usual biographical information, is simply curious to see how political and literary figures, artists, and philosophers among others, were depicted. References to secondary sources pertinent to each depiction appear in an appended bibliography, as do explanations of names, e.g., the fact that “soter” means “saviour,” or “apostata” the “fallen one.” Some entries contain no portraits, as in the case with Ovid and Tacitus, where no depictions from antiquity are known to exist. Although the volume leaves substantial conceptual questions unanswered, it nonetheless addresses a legitimate interest in Classical portraiture. [jm/sd]

Die Bildnisse der antiken Dichter, Redner und Denker [Depictions of Classical Poets, Orators, and Philosophers]. Ed. Karl Schefold. Basel: Schwabe, 1997. ISBN 3-7965-0997-5: EUR 89.50 [99-B09-031]

Among the many books that have substantially influenced the interpretation and understanding of Greek portraiture, the work of the recently deceased Karl Schefold on poets, orators, and philosophers of antiquity has become a recognized standard. Now, more than 50 years after its first publication in 1943, this classic reappears in a second edition, with expanded textual and visual material.

After a 60-page “introduction” sketching the development of Greek portraiture from the beginning to late Roman times, there follows a two-part catalog of illustrations. Schefold first treats Greek original portraits, then discusses copies of them from Roman times. The Swiss numismatist Herbert Cahn contributed sections about portraits that appear on coins. There are 329 portraits of consistently high quality. At the end of the main portion of the work, a 40-page summary offers, among other things, a brief outline of the scholarship on the topic. Supplements, annotations, and references take up more than 100 pages and include important information about the portraits and the state of relevant scholarship. An index to the illustrations traces the provenance of the images. In addition, there are footnotes, an index of museums, and a general index.

Two points deserve mention for those unfamiliar with Schefold’s work. First, it covers only portraits of Greek subjects. It does include persons whose dates coincide with Roman times, but they, and their predecessors, come from Greek cultural domains. Second, Schefold’s is not a reference work to be compared with German Harrier’s Bildlexikon antiker Personen [Picture Dictionary of Persons in Antiquity]. It is primarily an art-historical treatise. It does not provide rapid access to portraits, but rather to theories about the “deeper” meaning of images and their historical development. To find detailed information about portraits of individuals, the user must consult the index, which, in the case of famous figures from classical Greece, is very tiresome work indeed.

Given these facts, the question arises as to why it was deemed necessary to reissue a work that itself has become a historic document. A primary consideration is that in 1997 it was possible to present more complete, more up-to-date, and better documentation than it was in 1943, when the first edition appeared. This is probably the biggest benefit to most users of this tool. The author and his collaborators evidently saw it as their task to pump new life into the theories promoted in the original edition.

A common theme of contemporary archaeology is that Greek portraiture did not attempt to depict individual physiognomy “photographically” correctly; rather, it strove to reflect the “inner qualities” of an individual in a timeless (and thus) idealized form. For the development of this thesis, which remains within the tradition of absolutizing everything Greek and consequently disparaging everything Roman, Schefold’s work still has an indisputable value. Schefold was able to build up his intellectual house on the foundation of his impressive knowledge of the resources and thus to develop an internally consistent and comprehensive overview. But so unconditional and totally consequential a science of interpretation, which claims to offer the only key to the correct interpretation of Greek portrait art, is alien to our modern understanding. Yet this is precisely the point of view represented in the revised edition. In the face of so much new research, one has to ask what the editors were trying to accomplish. Perhaps one quotation will make this clearer. Here is what Schefold has to say about the discrepancy between the life dates of the subject and those of the artist who attempted to capture how he “actually” looked: “Statues of such gripping reality as the ancient Greek statues of Pindar and Demosthenes were created many years after the death of the individuals portrayed, and yet they capture their spiritual essence so well that crude curiosity about their external appearance becomes almost an embarrassment. In the creation of images of the Greeks, the same creative power may be admired as in other Greek art. A profound and not fully explicable sense of form and the ability to create life-like images discovered the inner structure of the nation, shaped it further, selected, and created a species of humanity, the likes of which are among the secrets of all higher cultures. Of this we can only say: nobility attaches itself to that which is noble.” Comments like this are in the final analysis beyond any sort of scientific discourse, as understood today. They result from a philosophical construction of the world that one can either believe in or not.

It might be easier simply to accept the reprint of this work as an homage to the life’s work of a great scholar (i.e., Schefold). Schefold’s influence on the course of portraiture scholarship actually occurred 50 years ago. [jm/jbr]

Internationaler Nekrolog: Verzeichnis verstorbener Personen aus Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur, Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft; mit einem ausführlichen Pressespiegel von Nachrufen aus deutschsprachigen Zeitungen und Zeitschriften [International Necrology: Index of Deceased Persons from the Political, Economic, Cultural, Scientific, and Social Spheres; with a Detailed Collection of Obituaries from German-Language Newspapers and Journals]. Ed. Willi Gorzny. München [et al.]: Saur. 30 cm. Vol. for 1982 published by Willi Gorzny-Verlag. ISSN 01777858 [99-B09-037]

1993. 1995. viii, 776 p. ISBN 3-598-23010-9: DM 398
1994. 1996. viii, 796 p. ISBN 3-598-23011-7: DM 398

The 1993 volume contains the same basic information as volume 1, its predecessor for 1982. The volumes for 1983–1992 were never published; the subsequent volumes were no longer numbered.

The first part of both volumes lists ca. 1,300 people who died in the year covered, including brief biographical statements, sources of death notices, brief notices by editors or in the media, and obituaries. All sources lack mention of pagination. Obituaries are reproduced in full in the second part of the volume. Names are indexed (1) by 28 general subject areas; (2) by country; (3) by place of birth, residence, and death; and (4) by corporate body. The third and fourth indexes are unique to the 1993 volume. Well over half of the entries are for people from German-speaking countries, as only German-language publications are analyzed. The 1994 volume (published 1996) includes the Times (London). Spot checking reveals that analysis is not systematic. Although the introduction to the 1993 volume describes plans to catch up with the missing years of 1983–1992, the user would be grateful if only ongoing publication were guaranteed. In lieu of the advertised October 1998 appearance of the 1995 volume, an announcement was made that continuation was not foreseen. [sh/rm]


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Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
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