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Christian Laes / Alfredo Buonopane: Grumentum. The Epigraphical Landscape of a Roman Town in Lucania (= Giornale Italiano di Filologia; 22), Turnhout: Brepols 2020, 248 S., 129 s/w-Abb., ISBN 978-2-503-58999-2, EUR 90,00
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Annarosa Gallo
Università di Bologna
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Matthias Haake
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Annarosa Gallo: Rezension von: Christian Laes / Alfredo Buonopane: Grumentum. The Epigraphical Landscape of a Roman Town in Lucania, Turnhout: Brepols 2020, in: sehepunkte 21 (2021), Nr. 11 [15.11.2021], URL:

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Christian Laes / Alfredo Buonopane: Grumentum

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The volume is the twenty-second issue in the "Bibliotheca" of the "Giornale italiano di Filologia". It consists of two sections, preceded by two Prefaces; the "Introduction" is divided into eight paragraphs (1. The history of epigraphy in Grumentum, in two subsections [1.1. Scholars, forgers and priests from the Renaissance to Mommsen and later, 1.2. Excavations and systematic archaeological research]. Grumentum in Antiquity: an historical overview. 3. Political institutions articulated in six sub-sections: 3.1. The aediles; 3.2. The praetors duoviri; 3.3. The quaestores; 3.4. The decuriones; 3.5. The magistri Mercuriales Augustales and the Augustales Mercuriales; 3.6. The Herculanei Augustales / Augustales Herculanei. Military men and the army. Economic activities and professions. 6. Religion. 7. Family and life course. 8. The role of Christianity), and then there is the edition and commentary of the inscriptions. The volume is completed by a supporting apparatus with list of epigraphical and lexicographical abbreviations, list of figures, indices (by Fiammetta Soriano) of literary sources, epigraphic corpora, places, people, and a general index, then concordances and literature. Since the parts ascribable to each author are not specified, the entire text must be attributed to both.

Already the title specifies the thematic horizon and the approach of the research, which is essentially based on the analysis of the epigraphic evidence pertaining to Grumentum. However, not only such research lacks an exhaustive autopsy of the entire epigraphic documentation still existing (with too many references to readings of EDCS, notoriously sometimes unreliable), but the volume does not give full account of the epigraphical landscape. No reconstructive hypothesis of the boundaries of the territory of this colony of Regio III is formulated, although it would be precisely possible thanks to the epigraphic documentation. Even though a good part of the inscriptions from Grumentum were reused in other contexts, their discovery and especially the analysis of the other inscriptions from the territory (CIL X, 192 = no. 34; 228 = no. 38; 237 = no. 42; 238 = no. 43; 244 = no. 48; AE 1993, 546 = EDR100296 = no. 118) would have provided useful information in this regard.

The catalogue lists 129 inscriptions from Grumentum (some of which are published here for the first time: nos. 102-105, 116-117): on the one hand it excludes an inscription that many scholars consider pertinent to Grumentum (AE 1988, 409 = EDR080933; its exclusion should have been at least discussed) and on the other hand it includes a non-Grumentan inscription (CIL X 202 = EDR147641 = no. 2), despite the commentary states (p. 67) that "in all likelihood, this inscription does not belong to Roman Grumentum". One wonders, then, what reasons led to its inclusion in the corpus. Moreover, the authors did not always conduct an autopsy examination of the inscriptions (nos. 12, 14, 26, 48, 106, 125), and, except for a few titles, drafted comments that were all too essential.

The analysis of the historical events of Grumentum is therefore based on epigraphic sources. The authors only shortly refer to other (albeit fundamental) literary and archaeological sources. This modus operandi greatly limits the whole reconstruction suggested by the authors, which would perhaps have required an integrated reading of the available data: each type of source is assumed in an autonomous and independent way and therefore unrelated to each other.

Such a limitation can be seen, for example, regarding the chronology of the colony (a condition documented by an inscription of the 2nd century AD [CIL X 228 = no. 38]), which the authors set in an assertory way at the age of Caesar based on a pretended Lex Iulia agraria Campana (p. 32), which has never been so attested in the sources (it is debated, moreover, whether in 59 BC Caesar had signed one or two agrarian laws), and in any case based on what has already been proposed in the literature.

Regarding this vexata quaestio, the authors firmly exclude that Grumentum had been a Gracchan as well as a Sullan colony, arguing that the hypothesis of a Sullan deduction is based on an incorrect interpretation of Th. Mommsen. This hypothesis is however not based on the argumentum ex auctoritate (and anyway it could have been useful to discuss the literature in this regard), but on a twofold argument: the first is the incontrovertible fact that praetores duoviri, the magistrates of the colony, are never documented in colonies of Caesar's age (see e.g. Lex Ursonensis, FIRA 21), but in the Gracchan and also Sullan colonies; the second is the historical consideration that a Sullan deduction would have fulfilled the military control (App. civ. 1.96.447 f. ) exercised over a territory whose population had continued to fight well after the Social war, espousing the Marian cause (App. civ. 1.93.431; Plut. Sull. 29.2). It's then inappropriate to minimize the significant contribution of the colonization carried out by Sulla in the areas where the manifestations of resistance and hostility towards him had been very relevant.

This, however, does not exclude the possibility of a Gracchan intervention, already attested in Lucania by the massive viritan assignments between 132 and 131 BC in the Vallo di Diano.

In this regard it should be noted that for Grumentum such a hypothesis could be based on the indication limitibus Gracchanis in the cd. Liber Coloniarum I (209L). It is undisputed by the scholars that this syntagma may indicate interventions carried out even on the Gracchan model, and therefore does not constitute an incontrovertible proof of the action of the Gracchi in this area as the authors claim (p. 30): "This means that the city's ager was delimited under the Gracchi (134-121 BCE) that the place was divided into square centuriae of 200 iugera (25 hectars)". However, on this last hypothesis, the authors baste their following argument that the citizens of Grumentum "enjoyed Roman citizenship without the right of bringing in their votes, and the praetor urbanus from Rome took care of juridical matters by yearly sending a magistrate".

All these arguments turn out to be wrong since the use of the date of 134 BC. If we exclude, as the authors do, the existence of a Gracchan colony, the Gracchan interventions would have then centuriated a part of the public land of the Roman people formed in that area to assign it individually to Roman citizens who were the recipients of such measures. This agrarian policy certainly did not imply the granting of citizenship to the natives present in the area. Therefore, in this case, the urban praetor administered justice for the assignees (or possibly the citizens of the colony) through his own praefectus, who, as the term itself denounces, was a provost, certainly not a magistrate.

In any case, against a Caesarian chronology of the colony there is also the same epigraphic evidence from Grumentum concerning the building works carried out on the walls (CIL X 219, 220, 221; AE 2002, 377 = nos. 18, 19, 22). It must be stressed that the history of the settlement of the oppidum has been greatly revealed thanks to the excavations carried out over a period of about thirty years. These excavations allowed, among other things, the recovery of several inscriptions placed in different sectors of the settlement, including one of the inscriptions pertaining the walls (no. 22).

It seems then quite unusual that only a few years after the supposed Caesar's foundation and still at the end of the Fifties the construction of parts of the walls and of a tower was possible thanks to private funding (nos. 18, 19, 22; the formula 'de sua pequnia' in the text of the inscription no. 22 can be restored on the basis of no. 18), whereas public funds would have been used in the same period for the construction of a balneum (no. 20). The walls were indeed a constitutive element of the ancient city, and even more so of a colony, for the construction of which the deductor coloniae was responsible by virtue of a lex data (e.g. Lib. Col. I 228 ss. L).

On the other hand, the same authors go so far as to claim based on the inscription at Silvanus (CIL X 205 = no. 5), improperly juxtaposed with Suet. Aug. 30, that (p. 72): "This inscription shows how the colonia Grumentum was organized as a mini-Rome. The town was divided into vici. The magistri vici were assisted by ministri". If this were so, also other cities (not even colonies like nearby Potentia) where ministri Larum Augustorum are equally attested would have been "mini-Rome"!

With regard instead to the local magistrates, the authors explain the presence in Grumentum of three aediles (CIL X 220 = no. 19), mistakenly comparing them with the aediles attested in Arpinum, Fondi and Formia (e.g. CIL X 5679 = EDR132331; 6239 = EDR159017; 6105 = EDR154943), without realizing that in these municipalities of the Latium adiectum the three aediles are in fact judicial magistrates, like the duoviri praetores of Grumentum and certainly not the aediles.

Another issue: with reference to the cursus honorum of the local magistrates of the colony, there is an improper use of the formula extra ordinem to indicate that the quaestura was a kind of munus.

Drawing a balance, we can state that this volume is halfway a missed opportunity. While the authors have assembled a large body of epigraphic documentation and information about Grumentum, the re-edition of this material presents, as we have seen, some gaps and inaccuracies. On the other hand, the profiles of institutional history have some inaccuracies that limit a complete historical reconstruction of this Roman city that developed since the end of the second century BC until the XI century CE.

Annarosa Gallo