Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Scholars Lose

J. Linderski, review of Mary Beard et al., Religions of Rome, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), in Journal of Roman Archaeology 13.2 (2000) 453-463 (at 454), rpt. in Roman Questions II. Selected Papers (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007), pp. 501-514 (at 503):
But the praise is mixed: it is magniloquent if we regard the book as a work of informed, and yes, inspired scholarship aimed at a broad readership, but muted if we reckon it as a work of pure Wissenschaft. For all excerpts are in translation; Latin and Greek are not allowed to speak for themselves. The educated public perhaps gains. Scholars lose. There is a middle way (though more expensive): to provide both original texts and translations. No scientific study of any topic in history or the humanities can proceed without the engagement of original sources, their textual analysis, investigation of the idiom, phrases, and terms.
Id., p. 458 (rpt. pp. 507-508):
But in order not to be accused of blatant partisanship, we hasten to add that the study of Roman religion has been bedeviled not only by those Christian believers who cannot bring themselves to take seriously any "pagan" creed; it has no less been bedeviled by those adherents of the Enlightenment whose rationalism is so fierce that they cannot take seriously any religion.

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