Review by: James Anderson, The Classical Outlook - February 1, 2005
Rome Alive. A Source-Guide to the Ancient City. By PETER J. AICHER. Two Volumes. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci
Publishers, Inc., 2004. Vol. I: Pp. xxii and 343, illus. 61; Paper, $29. Vol. II: Pp. xi and 205, illus. 22 (selected from
illus. in Vol. I). Paper. $39.
A book or books such as these two volumes by Peter Aicher have been needed for years. The last useful compendium of ancient literary and epigraphical sources on the city of Rome and her monuments in antiquity, translated from the original Latin and Greek, was Donald R. Dudley's Urbs Roma (London & Aberdeen: Phaidon, 1967) which has been out of print for decades; the last good anthology of those same sources in the original languages--the rather elegant Breviarium Urbis Romae Antiquae edited by A. Van Heck (Leyden: E. J. Brill, 1977)-also fell out of print some years ago. Aicher's two volumes now replace both, and do so efficiently and effectively. Volume I contains the great majority of important sources in English translation, interspersed with a few black and white photographs and rather more (and more useful) maps, site plans, and reconstruction drawings. Volume II has most of the same passages in the original languages, interspersed with a selection of 22 maps and plans chosen from the 61 illustrations included in Volume I. The repetition of about one-third of the same illustrations in both volumes seems an odd and unnecessary editorial decision; given that the much shorter second volume is priced $10 higher than the first, surely those repeats could and should have been omitted altogether and the price of Volume II reduced.
That minor quibble aside, Aicher's new volumes fill a serious lacuna in the scholarly bibliography on ancient Rome. Even more important, they fill a gaping hole in the pedagogical materials available to those of us who teach about or lead students around the remains of the ancient city. In that context, Volume I will probably be more widely used than Volume II, but both are most welcome. Indeed, Volume I could be very profitably used as a textbook for a course on the ancient city's topography-especially one taught in situ-and it could be admirably supplemented by Amanda Claridge's Oxford Archaeological Guide: Rome (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998), to which in fact Aicher refers periodically in his brief archaeological notes and comments. In general, the presentation of major monuments complements the way(s) in which one can visit them, with the single exception of Aicher's decision to work through the testimonia for the monuments of the Roman Forum in chronological, rather than topographical, order (Vol. I, pp. 73-122; Vol. II, pp. 44-70). That authorial decision makes sense on the written page, admittedly, but might prove difficult to follow among the ruins themselves. Nonetheless, as one who teaches exactly such a course in Rome every year, I welcome these two volumes and will certainly adopt them.
Aicher has, probably wisely, chosen to focus on the texts themselves, what they say and do not say, and avoid the perils of classical topographical scholarship, for the most part. For instance, he wisely passes over such inconclusive recent debates as whether the Tabularium ought to be identified with the atrium Libertatis, whether any figures, historical or symbolic, on the oft (and over)-discussed Ara Pacis Augustae can be firmly identified, or what architectural form the shrine to Venus Victrix attested atop the theater of Pompey may have taken. He enters the topographical lists only rarely, and then with good sense, e.g. when he rejects a recent attempt to identify the late antique "temple of Romulus" in the Forum with the Temple of Jupiter Stator (Vol. 1: pp. 139-41). An occasional recent development has slipped through his editorial filter: e.g. on p. 202 of Volume I he appears unaware that very recent (2000-2001) excavation in the area of the Temple of Peace has securely identified (from hydraulic pipe lines and opus signinum found there) that there were long, narrow pools of water in the center of its garden area, evidence which refutes Claridge's anachronistic suggestion (Claridge, 1998, op. cit., p. 155) that the incisions on the fragments of the Severan Marble Plan showing these pools might represent market stalls (!). There 1 are also occasional typographical errors, e.g. a reference (Vol. I, p. 75) to Vitruvius "21.5" (sic) ought, of course, to be "2.1.5". ''
But such problems are few and far between. The overall execution of so tremendously detailed a compendium of source materials is good, and Aicher and his press have done everyone interested in the ancient city of Rome and her monuments a true service, especially in making these volumes available in paperback, and so at a price that students might readily be expected to pay. Furthermore, Aicher clearly knows the ancient city well and loves it. By the same token that made his earlier guide to the Roman aqueducts (Bolchazy-Carducci, 1995) so valuable, his new volumes do indeed go far to help bring "Rome Alive" through the eyewitness testimony of ancient inhabitants and visitors to the Eternal City. They are very, very welcome.
JAMES C. ANDERSON, JR.
University of Georgia
Review: New Testament Abstracts - January 5, 2005
PJ Aicher, Rome Alive. A Source-Guide to the Ancient City. Vol. 2, Original Sources (Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2004, paper $39) xi and 205 pp., 22figs. Indexed. LCN:2003023423. ISBN 0-86516-507-6
The first volume in this project [NTA 48, p. 441] contained introductions to and translations of ancient texts pertaining to Rome. This volume provides the Greek and Latin texts of the sources translated in the first volume under the same eleven headings: the site and foundation of Rome, walls and aqueducts, the Capitoline Hill, the Roman Forum, the upper Sacra Via, the Palatine Hill, the Colusseum area, the imperial forums, the Campus Martius, the Forum Boarium and Aventine, and the Circus Maximus to the Tomb of the Scipios. Aicher is associate professor of classics at the University of Southern Maine.