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Roots and Echoes of Pliny’s Observation capris laudata Brattia... in the Classical Heritage of the Island of Brač

Ante Rendić-Miočević

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 694 Kb

str. 65-92

preuzimanja: 135


Puni tekst: engleski pdf 694 Kb

str. 65-92

preuzimanja: 283



Under a diversity of names (Krateiai ?, Brectia, Brattia, Bractia, insula
Brattia, Brazia, Elaphusa, Bretanide), Brač is encountered in Greek and Roman literature sources, although it is easy to see that the biggest island of the central part of the eastern Adriatic shores was not at the centre of interests of the writers, including travel writers, of the time. Few are the authors that refer to it, like Pseudo-Scylax, Polybius, Pliny the Elder, or Anonymous of Ravenna and Stephanus of Byzantium, but the name also appears in some itineraries and maps, in, for example, the Antonine Itinerary, in its annex the Maritime Itinerary, and then also in the Tabula Peutingeriana. The relatively modest presence of Brač in the works of the ancient authors clearly derives from the island’s having, unlike several islands in its vicinity, no autonomous Greek settlements. Not even in Roman times was there any urban milieu with the status of municipium. In his Natural History (Naturalis historia), Pliny the Elder quotes not only the name of the island but also the circumstance of its being known for its goats (…capris laudata Brattia…). Following up this observation, it seemed interesting to attempt to identify the possible roots of this claim of Pliny’s, as well as confirmation of it in the extant monumental remains found on the island, particularly with reference to recorded depictions of goats. In this context, it also seemed worthwhile to attempt to track possible clues, starting from hypothesised depictions of goats (he-goats) carved into glass ring stones from Vičja luka. These are finds from the Greek era concerning which analysis has shown that it is not only the determination of origin and dating that is dubious but also, in all likelihood, the character of the contents represented. After that there are confirmations of the cult of Silvanus, which with good reason can be assumed to correspond to features of the Brač landscape, and accordingly, with the rearing of goats and the phenomenon of goat-keeping, one of the key features of both former and current Brač agricultural holdings. In this context, attention is drawn in parallel to the depictions of (he-) goats on coins of the Greek settlements on Hvar and Vis, and the importance of them, as confirmed by some of the names of places and mountains in the neighbouring coastal areas once inhabited by the Delmati. Attention is in conclusion devoted to monuments now made public from the Nerežišća plain, trace of which had been lost, and the fragment of an altar recently discussed in print dedicated to the nymphs and Silvanus from Vodna jama. The article gives a detailed description of the drawing of a missing fragment of the Silvanus altar from the Nerežišća plain, for the first time reproducing a drawing of it. Finally, the relief with a depiction of a goat on a column of a Roman villa rustica in Bunje in the eastern part of Brač, lost until recently, is assumed not to have a cult character, and in a symbolic manner reflects the conditions that obviously prompted the reference from Pliny.

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