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Cassius Dio's fragmentary Roman History 15 contains an account of Archimedes’ role in defending Syracuse during the Roman siege of 213–212 b.c., incorporating a legendary tale about a solar reflector Archimedes constructed to burn Roman warships, and including details of his death when the city fell. The textual basis of this famous episode depends on two derivative twelfth-century works: Zonaras’ Epitome of Histories (9.4–5) and Tzetzes’ Chiliades (2.35). After clarifying the present state of enquiry, this paper introduces two new witnesses, overlooked by editors of Dio and extensive scholarship on Archimedes, and assesses their value for reconstructing Dio's text. Comparative analysis of corresponding Dio-derived material in Tzetzes’ Carmina Iliaca and Hypomnema in S. Luciam, especially verbal correspondences with Zonaras’ Epitome, demonstrates that they are independent and, sometimes, superior witnesses to Dio's wording and content, reflecting Tzetzes’ selective use of the Roman History in different verse and prose compositions over several decades. The study considers editorial implications for this section of Dio's work and general characteristics of Tzetzes’ writings as repositories of testimonia and fragments.
Frames of reeds. ‘The Lazi, having dug pits and securely fixed spears within them, concealed the openings of the holes with frames of reeds and material that has no firm foundation but would give way to any load placed upon it; and having thrown earth on top and tilled the ground to either side and sewn wheat, they put the Romans to flight.’ Frames of reeds in Herodotus are the drying-rack, where they used to dry bricks.
This entry in the Suda comprises three elements. First, the lemma Ταρσοὶ καλάμων, compared with the usual format of the lexicon, is atypical (though not unparalleled) both in being a two-word phrase and in lacking an explanatory gloss. The word ταρσός most frequently denotes various artefacts with a flat and/or interwoven structure, such as screens, baskets and mats, and by extension is used figuratively of surfaces that resemble wickerwork or basketry. The phrase ταρσοὶ καλάμων or καλάμου is otherwise attested, with somewhat different meanings, in only three ancient authors: Herodotus, Thucydides and Aeneas Tacticus. Second, an anonymous extract from an unidentified historical work supplies a sample usage of the headword phrase, in this instance a military ruse in which wicker screens are instrumental in concealing pits dug by the Lazi prior to an engagement with the Romans. The historical setting, the style and language of the extract, along with the known sources and methodology of the compiler(s) of the Suda, indicate that the quotation belongs to a classicizing historian of Late Antiquity. These issues will be examined below. Third, as testimony to an alternative meaning of ταρσοὶ καλάμων, the compiler adduces a gloss on Herodotus’ Histories, which he drew from an earlier glossary of Herodotean usages. Here two problems arise. The definition of a drying-rack for bricks indicates that the original glossarist (and in turn the Suda compiler) did not in fact understand Herodotus’ technical description. In any case, the reading πρασιά, transmitted in all codices of the Suda, and accepted by Adler, should undoubtedly read τρασιά.
A survey of the written evidence for attacks by Scotti on fourth-century Roman Britain provides a historical context for the introduction of two hitherto overlooked references to Scotti in the works of Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis on Cyprus (c.a.d. 315–403). Examination of Epiphanius' Ancoratus and Panarion confirms that he inserted the ethnonym Σκόττοι into patristic source-material in the early 370s. These passages claim attention as unique testimony to the Scotti in Greek literature and the second earliest witness to this term in Roman sources. Their date prompts the conjecture that the barbarica conspiratio that beset Britain in a.d. 367–68/9 was a widely reported event even before its significance was magnified by Theodosian dynastic propaganda.
This chapter assesses the factors which distinguished Roman armies from their various opponents: the tactical roles of the different troops deployed; their training, discipline and morale; and whether their attitudes to and preparation for combat were equal to the operational tasks they faced. Like their predecessors, later Roman emperors and officers embarking on military operations had at their disposal a number of military treatises or tactica. While Roman cavalry became more effective in fulfilling its existing tactical roles, the fundamentals of mounted combat remained unchanged. Sieges constitute over half the military engagements in late antiquity. Given the relative rarity of large-scale Roman offensives before the sixth century, Roman troops were ordinarily in the role of defenders, and more likely to be limitanei than comitatenses. This changed perspective is evident in contemporary treatises, which hitherto dealt almost exclusively with offensive siegecraft.
Scholars of late Roman Britain will be familiar with the name of the Attacotti, who appear in several fourth- and fifth-century Roman texts. Ammianus refers to this mysterious people attacking the British diocese in the second half of the fourth century. In the same period the promiscuous marriage customs and, more so, the ferocious cannibalism of this ‘British race’ shocked a young St Jerome. It is somewhat surprising therefore that the Notitia Dignitatum lists a number of Attacotti units among the auxilia palatina stationed in Gaul, Italy, and Illyricum, and in the last instance their presence is also attested in epigraphic sources. Scholarly consensus has been content to regard the Attacotti as just one among the many minor and otherwise unknown tribes of Ireland or north Britain. It is interesting to note, however, that for a brief period Ammianus ranks the Attacotti alongside the Scots, Picts, and Saxons as a threat to the north-western frontiers of the Empire. It is also to be noted that the recruitment of the Attacotti into the Roman army, seemingly in considerable numbers, is apparently unique among the peoples of the British Isles beyond Roman rule. The writer's purpose is to assess the fourth- and fifth-century evidence for the Attacotti and to examine the problems of their identification and origins, together with their relationship to other peoples hostile to the late Roman diocese of Britain. The results of this examination will demonstrate that the character of the Attacotti and the location and nature of the threat they posed have been misunderstood. This study will suggest circumstances for their recruitment and transfer into the continental comitatus, set in the wider context of the on-going debate concerning the presence of barbarian troops in later Roman Britain, and the size and nature of the British garrison in general. Furthermore, at a time when there are many studies of the mutual relations between the Roman Empire and its neighbours, this contribution seeks to shed new light on the interaction between Roman Britain and Ireland, a subject relatively neglected by Roman historians, despite considerable advances in the fields of early Irish history and literature.
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