La vie des portraits grecs. Statues-portraits du Ve au Ier siècle av. J.‑C., usages et re-contextualisations. – Fr. Queyrel, R. von den Hoff éds.- Paris : Hermann, 2017. – 406 p. : bibliogr., fig., index. – ISBN : 978.2.7056.9334.3.

In close succession to the conference proceedings[1] « Eikones. Portraits en contexte: recherches nouvelles sur les portraits grecs du Ve au Ier s. av. J.-C. »[2] published in 2016, the present volume under review represents the final result of the German-French cooperation project EIKON financed by the DFG and ANR over the period from 2013 to 2016. The project’s scope, the afterlives of Greek honorary statues from the moment of their erection to their final destruction, – « autrefois négligés » (p. 5) as the editors comment in the brief introduction – remained for a long time a desideratum in spite of H. Blanck’s pioneering study from 1969.[3] It is not until recently that research has taken up the issue again with particular emphasis.[4] Instead of focusing on the significance of honorary statues within contemporary social frameworks or rather on their original presentation in the built spaces of the poleis and sanctuaries, these studies offer new diachronic perspectives on the dynamics of the cultural practices of Greek sculpture and their medial receptions stimulated by « un grand nombre de transformations, appropriations, interprétations, sémantisations et re-contextualisations » (p. 7).

The chronological framework of the present volume, designed as handbook, encompasses the period from the beginning of the 5th to the end of the 1st century B.C. In contrast, the Roman period is deliberately excluded as the copy practice of Greek originals create different contexts of interaction and reception. A certain longue durée of the « pratiques du portrait » (p. 8) is nevertheless manifest by the frequent anticipation of interventions within the statuescapes of the poleis and sanctuaries during the Roman period. Geographically, the strong focus on the eastern Mediterranean, on Greece and Asia Minor in particular, reflects all the more the sparse evidence from other regions, for instance from the Magna Graecia. The book is divided into nine thematically arranged chapters on the interaction with and the reception of honorary statues followed by an appendix with eight brief essays in the manner of a
source book.

In the first chapter Éric Perrin-Saminadayar offers a quasi prolegomenon to the major theme of the volume (p. 9-21). In the light of epigraphic sources from the late Classical and Hellenistic period the author illustrates the organisational and administrative processes that preceded the erection of an honorary statue: the resolution of the boule or demos, the often difficult question of financing, the choice of an appropriate place for the statue and, finally, the engagement of a capable artist. The risk of long lasting and indeed epigraphically attested delays in the production of honorary statues might, besides other factors, have offered incentives for the reuse of older sculpture.

Chapter II by Elena Gómez-Rieser and Éric Perrin-Saminadayar addresses honorary statues as objects of ephemeral performance (p. 23‑37). Besides the involvement in religious-ritual practices in form of processions and religious festivals as well as the worship of the statues themselves, special attention is given to their periodic crowning, usually with perishable material, in the context of large civic festivals. As an official act, the crowning was an important aspect of memorial culture, as Gómez-Rieser argues. Finally, honorary statues could act as « reference points » in public space, for instance as meeting points or as places that accumulated further inscriptions.

In the next chapter Martin Szewczyk examines the public maintenance of honorary statues (p. 39-83). Following a detailed discussion of the terminology attested by written sources Szewczyk considers the significance of maintenance and repair in terms of the history of mentalities as well as from a socio-historical perspective: Why repair at all? And who is actually repairing? An overview on the actual restauration techniques and methods of surface treatment highlights not least the lack of a comprehensive study of these practices in Greek sculpture. Substantial repairs such as the piecing of broken fragments beg the question to what extent their visibility was conceived as aesthetic interference that needed to be concealed. At any rate, that new applications of paint could very well modify the original colouring of statues certainly is revealing for the conceptualisation and perception of authenticity.

Next, Frédéric Herbin, François Queyrel and Martin Szewczyk review in chapter IV different forms of reuse of honorary statues that involved changes of identity (p. 85-109). The reinscription of statue bases (metagraphe) often discussed recently is a phenomenon closely linked with honours given to Roman magistrates in Greece and Asia Minor from the 2nd century B.C. to the early Roman period. The motives behind this practice are not simply economic, but formed by elite discourses rooted in memorial culture. Changes of identity were, however, not confined to inscriptions alone, but could also involve the statues themselves, i. e. by a replacement of their portrait heads. In this context, a significant number of portrait heads from members of the Ptolemaic dynasty represent an exceptional case insofar as they have been reworked from portraits of their dynastic predecessors. According to Queyrel who convincingly rejects an interpretation of this phenomenon as damnatio memoriae it signifies « l’oblitération du culte rendu aux souverains antérieurs » (p. 208 in chapter VII). Without being particularly striking in terms of perceptibility one wonders, however, for which audience these subtle generation changes were intended, if at all.

Chapter V by Jochen Griesbach and Frédéric Herbin addresses the reuse and relocation of honorary statues as well as the transformation of the places where they had been originally set up (p. 111-149). Following up on the previous chapter, the reuse of honorary statues and their bases is according to the authors seldom attested before the late Hellenistic period, while a large variety of material and written sources give evidence to the practices of relocation, collocation or the secondary addition of statues to already existing groups. Reasons vary: for instance, the aim could be to display the statues in a more prominent setting, to create new meaningful statue ensembles or simply to satisfy the needs for space of extensive building projects. If « les pressions externes » (p. 149) were indeed the key factor for the transformation of statuescapes, as the authors conclude, certainly will be a matter of future debate.

Within the perspective of « dissémination » Vincent Azoulay and Ralf von den Hoff address in chapter VI two broader issues (p. 151‑194), first of all the increasing multiplication of honorary statues of the same individual, especially since the 4th century B.C. onwards. As the authors demonstrate, this development contained a high conflict potential that affected the « emotional budget » and social cohesion of the Greek poleis and their elites. Private or public resentment eventually could turn against the statues themselves prompting their defacement, mutilation or destruction. Despite the emergence of a subtle « culture de la copie » (p. 174) in the Hellenistic period it is noteworthy that royal portraits were not (with minor exceptions) systematically distributed in accordance to an official, uniform model as in the Roman period. The initiative to set up statues of Hellenistic rulers thus remained with the local elites. The second part of the chapter is dedicated to the transfer of honorary statues into other media including the Tyrannicides or statues and portraits of Hellenistic rulers. In addition to the reception of existing models, the honorary statue as stereotype entered the iconographic vocabulary of the Hellenistic period.

François Queyrel examines in chapter VII the accidental and intentional destruction of honorary statues (p. 195-210). Viewed ex post from the Roman period, a relation with episodes of dishonour and damnatio memoriae seem obvious, as Queyrel points out. This was the case, for example, of several statues of Syracusan tyrants that have been immersed in the sea (katapontismos) in the age of Timoleon (337/6-334/3 B.C.). On the contrary, an early Roman inscription from Cos (IG XII 4, 2, 471) offers more nuances to the intentional « death » of honorary statues: In a time of crisis, the Coans melted down a large number of bronze statues in order to reclaim the precious metal. Far from being intended as an act of dishonour, a stele with the names of the individuals was subsequently set up as substitute. One wonders if the empty statue bases did remain in place as well. Furthermore, the periodical removal (kathairesis) of old or damaged votives from a sanctuary potentially had similar effects on their statuescapes.

In contrast to the previous thematic approaches the last two chapters narrow the focus to more specific case studies. Ralf Krumeich sets out to analyse the afterlives of honorary statues in the panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi (p. 211-251). Both sanctuaries are compared according to practices already examined in previous chapters, such as the relation of statues and inscriptions, the relocation of statues or the transformation of their original settings, the reuse, the reception and transfer into other media, and, finally, the plundering, disrepair and destruction. The parallels between the two sanctuaries are revealing, for instance, when it comes to the scarcely attested cases of metagraphe. Their slight number stands out all the more when compared to the situation on the Athenian Acropolis. « Le désir de garder durablement le souvenir des monuments » (p. 247) is apparent, even in those cases – regarding, for instance, the relocation of several Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic statues into the Heraion of Olympia – where memoria was, in fact, highly artificial.

Finally, Vincent Azoulay examines the case of the statue of the famous athlete Theogenes set up on the agora of Thasos (p. 253-284). Providing on overview on the archaeological and epigraphical evidence Azoulay argues that the overall three statue bases for Theogenes from Thasos, Delphi and Olympia were actually part of the same programme to reinstate the memory of the athlete in the early 4th century B.C. Whether or not the establishment of an healing cult attested by an altar and a thesaurus of to the 2nd century B.C. dates back to this period as well, remains an open question. In the second part of this chapter Azoulay comments on the reception of the statue from Thasos in literary sources from the Hellenistic and Roman period. While the episode of its flagellation seems difficult to judge in terms of authenticity[5], the satirical scorn that authors as Lucian or Oenomaus of Gadara poured over the head of Theogenes’ statue demonstrates that it remained a matter of controversy.

In the following appendix Azoulay comments on a passage in Diogenes Laërtius’ vitae philosophorum (Diog. Laert. V 75-77) which accounts for the destruction of the honorary statues of Demetrios of Phaleron after 307 B.C. Priol discusses an early Hellenistic decree from Erythrai (I. Erythrai 503) inscribed on the statue base of the tyrannicide Philitas. The renovation of the statue after the overthrow of the oligarchic regime gives evidence to its significance as symbol of the restored democratic constitution. Gómez‑Rieser is concerned with a financial endowment of Agasikratis (IG IV² 2, 1236) made to the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia in the late 3rd century B.C. Krummeich draws attention to a building account by the Delphic naopoioi (CID II 34) which attests the removal of two equestrian monuments by the Phocian strategoi Philomelos and Onomarchos after the Third Sacred War in 346 B.C. On the contrary, an exedra monument from the acropolis of Lindos dated to the high Hellenistic period (I. Lindos 131a-f) was relocated to a different spot, as Priol and Griesbach demonstrate, probably because the original setting lost its former prominence due to radical building activity. A discussion of the presumed portrait head of Attalos I. from the gymnasium of Pergamon by von den Hoff and Szewczyk demonstrates that practices of reworking in the Hellenistic period did not necessarily went hand in hand with changes of identity, but could have been motivated as well by changing aesthetic concepts and altered viewing habits. Herbin and Queyrel provide an overview on the statue of C. Ofelius Ferus and its setting in an exedra of the Agora of the Italians at Delos. In the last essay, Priol and Szewczyk review the inscription on a late Hellenistic statue base of the euergetes Iollas from Sardis (I. Sardis 27).

The volume is rounded off with a much welcome and comprehensive index of sources, names and places. A disappointment is, however, the print quality of many photos. As a consequence, the inscription on the base of Agias from the Daochos monument at Delphi (p. 245 fig. 88) is hardly legible.[6] Here, as in other cases, a transcription of the inscription would have been much desirable (and, indeed, would have chimed with the character of a handbook). This should, however, not distract from the fact that the volume represents a substantial, well-informed and, in turn, informative point of departure for further studies in the fields of Greek sculpture, epigraphy and memorial culture appealing to students and scholars alike.

Johannes Fouquet, University of Heidelberg

[1]. This review is part of an ongoing research project on text and image in Greek sculpture under the auspices of the SFB 933 « Material Text Cultures » at the University of Heidelberg.

[2]. R. von den Hoff, F. Queyrel, É. Perrin-Saminadayar eds., Eikones. Portraits en contexte: recherches nouvelles sur les portraits grecs du Ve au Ier s. av. J.-C., Venosa 2016.

[3]. H. Blanck, Wiederverwendung alter Statuen als Ehrendenkmäler bei Griechen und Römern, Rome 1969.

[4]. Including C. Leypold, M. Mohr, C. Russenberger eds., Weiter- und Wiederverwendungen von Weihestatuen in griechischen Heiligtümern, Tagung am Archäologischen Institut der Universität Zürich 21./22. Januar 2011, Rahden 2014 ; T. M. Kristensen, L. Sterling eds., The Afterlife of Greek and Roman Sculpture. Late Antique Responses and Practices, Ann Arbor 2016 ; R. Kousser, The Afterlives of Greek Sculpture. Interaction, Transformation, and Destruction, New York 2017. See also C. Keesling, Early Greek Portraiture, Cambridge 2017, p. 182‑216 ; G. Biard, La représentation honorifique dans les cités grecques aux époques classique et hellénistique, Athènes 2017, p. 237-250.

[5]. Azoulay refers to the flagellation ritual in the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta as comparison, but this practice was a historicising creation of the Roman period, see e.g. P. Bonnechère, « Orthia et la flagellation des éphèbes spartiates. Un souvenir chimérique de sacrifice humain », Kernos 6, 1993, p. 11-22.

[6]. And the same can be said about the photo of the statue base of P. Servilius Isauricus from the Amphiaraion at Oropos (p. 96 fig. 10).