TONY KEDDIE Triclinium Trialectics: Jewish and Christian Reactions to the Emergence of the Triclinium in Early Roman Palestine
This paper draws on critical spatial theory to analyze the earliest literary constructions of the triclinium, or Roman dining room, in Jewish and Christian sources from Early Roman Palestine. It begins by examining the archaeological evidence of triclinia with stone benches in Palestine, addressing their dating, their differing settings (palaces, peristyle mansions, temples), and how their appearance and diffusion reflects socioeconomic and cultural changes under Roman influence. In a second section, the paper turns to literary constructions of triclinia in the Parables of Enoch, Testament of Moses, “Q Sayings Gospel,” and the Synoptic gospels in the New Testament. It demonstrates that these sources all seem to envision a triclinium setting in which elites eat, drink, and engage in all sorts of revelry while reclining on couches. The final section is devoted to critical spatial analysis of these constructions of the triclinium as space. It argues that these sources all represent the triclinium as a social space enjoyed and controlled by elites—by a group of people who are socially, economically, and culturally distinguishable as a class. But in various ways, each of these sources also subverts prevailing ideological constructions of this space, whether by envisioning its spatial or temporal relocation, revealing the hidden truths it masks, or displacing those it empowers.
MARK NUGENT Roasting Caesar: Talbot Mundy’s Tros of Samothrace and the ‘Camp-Fire’ Controversy
In 1925-1926, Talbot Mundy published a series of seven stories about Julius Caesar’s invasions of Britain in the pulp magazine Adventure. These stories—collected and published in 1934 under the title Tros of Samothrace—depict the exploits of a Greek freedom-fighter named Tros, who joins with native Britons to thwart Caesar’s imperialist ambitions. Caesar appears in these adventures as a villainous figure: an unscrupulous brute and a destroyer of conquered peoples’ liberty. Mundy’s portrait of Caesar provoked an enormous controversy among the readership of Adventure, and ultimately the wider public; readers wrote letters to Adventure in great numbers either protesting or praising Mundy’s depiction of Caesar. Adventure printed many of these letters in its “Camp-Fire” column, along with Mundy’s responses, and the controversy continued unabated for almost a year.
My paper explores both Mundy’s revisionist portrait of Caesar and the popular debates that followed upon the publication of the Tros stories. Although Mundy’s depiction of Caesar can be situated within contemporary receptions of Caesar’s military career as explored by Maria Wyke, the author’s approach—which is profoundly anti-classical in spirit—was inspired primarily by his anti-colonialist politics and Theosophical beliefs. Given that the political character of Mundy’s reassessment of Caesar was an important factor behind the intensity of the popular reaction to the Tros stories, the “Camp-Fire” controversy can serve to illuminate ways that a popular audience responds—negatively and favourably—to a subversive depiction of a historical figure who, like Caesar, looms large in the classical tradition. My paper, then, considers the cultural work performed by a debate about Julius Caesar’s ethics and legacy in the letters column of a pulp magazine.