רחל וישניא

רחל וישניא

Rachel Feig Vishnia (1950 – 2015)

Professor Rachel Feig Vishnia passed away on February 6th, 2015, after a long struggle with cancer. During her years of illness she continued to be active in teaching and research, and in editing Scripta Classica Israelica as the editor-in-chief (a post she held between 2009 and 2014, after being a co-editor during the years 2005-2008). Special care was paid by Rachel to the last volume she edited, which was dedicated to Professor Hannah Cotton upon her retirement (vol. XXXIII, 2014). At the annual conference of the Israel Society for the Promotion of Classical Studies, held at Ben Gurion University, in June 2014, Rachel made an enormous effort, hardly noticed by others, to come and present this volume herself. This was typical of her character: always proud, hard-working and rewarding to those she appreciated and loved.


Rachel Feig Vishnia‘s academic interest was not always focused on ancient Rome; she started her Master‘s degree on the history of the USSR, and worked in the Cummings Center for Russia and East European Studies in Tel Aviv University; but soon, following her participation in a seminar given by the late Benjamin Cohen (1921-2000), she changed direction and immersed herself in the study of one of the most obscure and fascinating periods of Roman history: the early and middle Republic. Upon completion of her Ph.D. in 1989, she joined the Department of History at Tel Aviv University, where she taught until the very end.


Her first book, State, Society, and Popular Leaders in Mid-Republican Rome 241-167 BC (1996), is one of her many studies on the Republic (see the articles in her list of publications), culminating in her book on elections in Rome, first published in Hebrew, and then in an English translation. The Hebrew version, Elections, Electors and the Elected in Republican Rome (2008), includes an annotated Hebrew translation of the letter known as Commentariolum Petitionis, a handbook on electioneering usually ascribed to Cicero‘s brother. The translation serves as a point of reference to a lucid and comprehensive discussion of politics and society, the tension between the various governing institutions and the prominence of elections and electioneering in the political life of Republican Rome. As for the English version, Roman Elections in the Age of Cicero (2012), it is, to quote one critic, ―a serious scholarly work … There is much of value here, and this book will doubtless (and rightly) find a permanent place in university reading lists for courses in ancient history‖ — as indeed it has.


Rachel had a special interest in two further subjects: the status of women in the GrecoRoman world (as we see in her articles ‗Women and Education in Ancient Rome‘ and ‗The Vestal Virgins — Women outside the Family in Rome‘, and in her editing a special issue of the Israeli historical quarterly Zmanim on Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Ancient World); and the 282 OBITUARIES scholar at the Centre Camille Jullian — Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine, Université de Provence: Aix-Marseille/ Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, she presented papers on Roman history, on the history of Marseille and on funerary archaeology, and was also engaged with the subject of Jews in Roman Gallia and their funerary practices, in collaboration with French archaeologists (‘Le Sarcophage de Pompeia Iudea et Cossutius Eutycles — À propos d’une découverte récente à Arles’ and ‘A Female Carved Representation from Southern Gaul in the Light of Iconography and Epigraphy’). Sadly, her future plans in the field of Roman history — especially her research projects on the relations between Rome and Marseille, the Jews in the Roman Empire, and ancient Rome in Fellini’s movies, were not implemented due to her illness.


Rachel’s passion for Roman history had an additional facet. She rightly believed that an Israeli scholar should look not only to the academic community of one’s peers, but also to the knowledge-thirsty non-professionals who were eager to learn about ancient Rome. In contrast to many scholars, Rachel thought that at least part of her vocation was to promote classical studies and ancient history among the wider public in Israel. Hence her book and articles published in Hebrew and addressed to Hebrew readers and students, her consent to invitations to talk on the radio or television and the reviews of popular and academic books published in daily newspapers.


Rachel was a demanding teacher; she believed that academic studies were something to be taken seriously, as a means to widening one’s knowledge and acquiring methodological tools, and not as a pastime. Her students were required to attend classes, read the relevant material, and actively participate in class. Those who did so were immensely rewarded. Rachel was a dedicated, erudite teacher, generously imparting her wide and thorough knowledge to everyone who was willing to learn.


On her death, Rachel Feig Vishnia joined other prominent historians of ancient Rome who taught at the Department of History in Tel Aviv University: Benjamin Cohen, Zeev Rubin (who were both her mentors and friends), Zvi Yavetz, and Zeev Rubinsohn. Nulli secunda.


Avshalom Laniado

Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz



List of Publications


I) Publications in English and French


1) Books:


State, Society, and Popular Leaders in Mid-Republican Rome 241-167 BC, London - New York, 1996; issued in paperback 2011.


Roman Elections in the Age of Cicero: Society, Government, and Voting (= Routledge Studies in Ancient History, 3), London - New York, 2012 (originally published in Hebrew: see below II. 1).


2) Articles/Chapters in Books:


‘Caius Flaminius and the lex Metilia de fullonibus’, Athenaeum 75 (1987), 527-534.


‘Cicero, The Republic 2.5-9: On the Disadvantages of a Maritime City’, in: I. Malkin, R.L. Hohlfelder (eds.), Maritime Cities: Historical Perspectives, London, 1988, 186-197; also in: Mediterranean Historical Review 3 (1988), 186-197.


‘Lex Atina de tribunis plebis in senatum legendis’, Museum Helveticum 46 (1989), 163-176.


‘The Carvilii Maximi of the Republic’, Athenaeum 84 (1996), 433-456.


‘The Transitio ad plebem of C. Servilius Geminus’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 114 (1996), 289-298.


‘Cicero De senectute 11, and the Date of C. Flaminius’ Tribunate’, Phoenix 50 (1996), 138-145.


„The Refusal of the Centuriate Assembly to Declare War on Macedon (200 BCE) – A Reappraisal‟, SCI 17 (1998) = Studies in Memory of Abraham Wasserstein, vol. III, 34-44.


„The Shadow Army – The Lixae and the Roman Legions‟, ZPE 139 (2002), 265-272.


„The Delayed Career of the Delayer – The Early Years of Fabius Maximus Verrucossus the “Cunctator”‟, SCI 26 (2007), 19-37.


Review of Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War (Berkeley, 2005), in: SCI 26 (2007), 220-222.


„Written Ballot, Secret Ballot and the iudicia publica. A Note on the Leges tabellariae (Cicero, De legibus 3.33-39)‟, Klio 90 (2008), 334-346.


„Ancient Rome in Italian Cinema under Mussolini: The Case of Scipione l'Africano‟, The Italianist 28 (2008), 246-267.


„Le Sarcophage de Pompeia Iudea et Cossutius Eutycles – À propos d'une découverte récente faite à Arles‟, in: Y. Codou, M. Heijmans (ed.), Hommage à Jean Guyon, Supplément à Provence Historique, Aix en Provence, 2011, 93-125 (together with B. Bizot, A. Genot, V.GaggadisRobin, M. Heijmans).


„A Case of “Bad Press”? Gaius Flaminius in Ancient Historiography‟, ZPE 181 (2012), 27-45.


„A Female Carved Representation from Southern Gaul in the Light of Iconography and Epigraphy‟, in: Proceedings of the XIIth International Conference on Provincial Roman Art, Archaeological Museum of Pula, 2014, 74-80 (together with V. Gaggadis-Robin).



II) Scholarly Publications in Hebrew


1) Books:


בחירות בוחרים ונבחרים ברפובליקה הרומית העתיקה, תל אביב, 8002.

[Elections, Electors and the Elected in Republican Rome, Tel Aviv, 2008.]


2) Articles:


"נשים וחינוך ברומא העתיקה", בתוך: ר. פלדחי, ע. אטקס(עורכים), חינוך והיסטוריה – הקשרים תרבותיים ופוליטיים, עמ' 47-62, 1999,ירושלים

["Women and Education in Ancient Rome‟, in: R. Feldhay, I. Atkes (ed.), Education and History – Cultural and Political Aspects, Jerusalem, 1999, 47-62.]


"הבתולות הווסטאליות – נשים מחוץ למשפחה ברומא העתיקה", זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 70 (2000) עמ' 26-34.

["The Vestal Virgins – Women Outside the Family in Ancient Rome‟, Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 70 (2000), 26-34.]


"על ראווה ודעה קדומה: רומא העתיקה בקולנוע – מכביריה ועד גלדיאטור", זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 75 ( 2001 ), עמ' 40-46.

["Ancient Rome in Cinema: from “Cabiria” to “Gladiator”‟, Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 75 (2001), 40-46.]


"על איוולתם וסכלותם של בני האנוש", על יובנאליס: הסטירות, תרגמה מרומית רחל בירנבאום, ירושלים, 2004 , בתוך: זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 87 ( 2004) עמ' 114-118.

["On Human Folly and Stupidity‟: Review of Rachel Birnbaum's Translation into Hebrew of Juvenal's Satires, Jerusalem 2003, in: Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 87 (2004), 114-118.]


"השיבה הביתה: פדיון שבויים ברומא העתיקה", זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 88 (2004)עמ' 84-14.

["Coming Home: Redemption of Prisoners of War in Ancient Rome‟, Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 88 (2004), 84-14]


. "הקדמה: בנות אפרודיטה – זנות וזונות בעולם העתיק", בתוך: רחל פייג וישניא (עורכת), קובץ מיוחד: זנות בעולם העתיק, זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 90 ( 2005), עמ' 6-9

[„Introduction‟, in: Rachel Feig Vishnia (ed.), Prostitutes in the Ancient World, Special Issue of Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 90 (2005), 6-9.]


"מפאסקס לפאשיזם: ייצוגה של רומא העתיקה בקולנוע האיטלקי של תקופת מוסוליני", בתוך: ח. בראשית, ש .זנד, מ.צימרמן (עורכים), קולנוע וזיכרון- יחסים מסוכנים?, ירושלים 2004, עמ' 237-252.

["From Fasces to Fascism – Ancient Rome in Italian Cinema under Mussolini‘, in: Sh. Sand, M. Zimmerman (ed.), History and Cinema: A Dangerous Relationship?, Jerusalem, 2004, 237- 252]


"הסטירה כמשל", על הוראטיוס: הסטירות, תרגמה מרומית רחל בירנבאום, ירושלים, 2014, בתוך: זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 127 (2014), עמ' 105-104.

["Satire as Allegory‘: Review of Rachel Birnbaum‘s Translation into Hebrew of Horace's Satires, Jerusalem 2014, in: Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 127 (2014), 104-105.]



3) Translations into Hebrew of Scholarly Articles:


טים ג'. קורנל, "המיתוס של רומא האטרוסקית", זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 22( 9114 ,)עמ' 92-81( תרגום הפרק הששי מתוך ספרו של טים ג'. קורנל, ראשיתה של רומא: איטליה ורומא מעידן הברונזה ועד המלחמות הפוניות, לונדון, 9112.)

[Tim J. Cornell, ‗The Myth of ―Etruscan Rome‖‘, Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 58 (1997), pp. 16-29 (translation of Tim J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars, London 1995, chapter VI).]


לסלי דין ג'ונס, "זנות כמסך עשן: מעשה בזונת-צמרת ביוון העתיקה", זמנים: רבעון להיסטוריה 10( 8002 ,)עמ' -20 41( תרגום של הרצאה שטרם פורסמה באנגלית(.

[Leslie Dean Jones, "Prostitution as a Smokescreen: The Story of a Hetaera in Ancient Greece", Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly 90 (2005), 39-50 (translation of an unpublished lecture).]


III) Popular Publications in Hebrew


"המאה השלישית, 809-400 :משבר פוליטי ואנרכיה צבאית", בתוך: ש. בן-עמי, נ. משעל (עורכים), ואלה תולדות 2000 שנות היסטוריה יהודית, תל אביב, 1999,עמ' 65-54.

["The Third Century, 201-300: Political Crisis and Military Anarchy", in: Sh. Ben Ami, N. Mishaal (ed.), And These Are the Generations: Two Millennia of Jewish History, Tel Aviv 1999, 54-65.]


"מרומא לקונסטנטינופול": על ספרו של משה עמית, תולדות הקיסרות הרומית, ירושלים, 2002,בתוך: הארץ ספרים, גיליון מס' 506( 6 בנובמבר 2002)

["From Rome to Constantinople": Review of Moshe Amit, A History of the Roman Empire, Jerusalem, 2002, in: Haaretz Book Review Supplement, No. 506 (6 November 2002] 


"בלשים בטוגה": על ספרו של ג'ון מדוקס רוברטס, גמביט המלך, תרגמה יעל סלע שפירו, תל אביב, 2002,בתוך: הארץ ספרים, גיליון מס' 528 ( 9 באפריל 2003)

["Detectives in Toga‘, Review of John Maddox Roberts, The King's Gambit, Translated into Hebrew by Yael Sela Shapiro, Tel Aviv, 2002, in: Haaretz Book Review Supplement, No. 528 (9 April 2003)]


"צריך עריכה מדעית": תגובה לתרגומה של אביבה ברק למסתו של מונטין, "על הבלותן של מלים", הארץ תרבות וספרות (16 באפריל 2003) בתוך: הארץ תרבות וספרות (14 במאי 2003). 

This Requires Scholarly Editing‘: A Reaction to Aviva Barak's Translation into Hebrew of the Essay ‗On the Vanity of Words‘ by Michel de Montaigne, in: Haaretz, Culture and Literature (14 May 2003).


 "לרגע, פומפיי חוזרת לחיים": על ספרו של רוברט האריס, פומפיי, תרגם מאנגלית מרדכי ברקאי, אור יהודה, 2006, הארץ, מוסף ספרים מיוחד (5 ביוני 2006)

["For a Moment, Pompeii is Brought Back to Life": Review of Robert Harris, Pompeii, Translated into Hebrew by Mordechai Barkai, Or Yehuda, 2006: in: Haaretz Book Review Supplement – Special Issue (5 June 2006).]


"הכל פוליטיקה: מה בין טוני בלייר לבין קיקרו": על ספריו של רוברט האריס, סופר צללים, תרגם מאנגלית מרדכי ברקאי, אור יהודה, 2008; אימפריום, תרגם מאנגלית מרדכי ברקאי, אור יהודה, 2009;בתוך: הארץ ספרים (10 בפברואר 2010)

["All is Politics: Between Tony Blair and Cicero": Review of Robert Harris, The Ghost, Translated into Hebrew by Mordechai Barkai, Or Yehuda 2008; Idem, Imperium, Translated into Hebrew by Mordechai Barkai, Or Yehuda 2009, in: Haaretz Book Review Supplement (10 February 2010).]


"קיקרו – המומחה לידידות שהופקר בידי חבריו": על מרקוס טוליוס קיקרו, על הידידות [לאיליוס על הידידות], תרגם מרומית אברהם ארואטי, בנימינה, 2013, בתוך: הארץ ספרים (19 בנובמבר 2013)

["Cicero, the Expert on Friendship Let Down by His Friends": Review of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Laelius De Amicitia, Translated into Hebrew by Abraham Arouetty, Binyamina 2013, in: Haaretz Book Review Supplement (19 November 2013).]


Compiled by Avshalom Laniado

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