"Insignificant", "superfluous" and "useless": legal antiquities for export?

Do the fragments lie too? Heteric Sappho or Sappho Schoolmistress

The aim of this post is to be a little provocative, with regard to interpretations of Sappho’s poetry, including my own. Over the last 20 years, some American scholars – especially Parker (1993) and Stehle (1996) – have challenged what had been the commonly held belief, that Sappho was a sort of teacher of young women. Parker and Stehle proposed that Sappho was a member of a group of coetaneous… Read more

Is the scepter of Agamemnon a cult object?

For the last post I have chosen a subject – the question of the scepter of Agamemnon as a cult object – that arose during the conversation I had at the CHS symposium on November 30. Statues representing gods and other cult recipients are usually classified as “cult objects,” an assumption which I shall question in this post. As far as I know, the scepter of Agamemnon, although a non-statuary… Read more

Odysseus and the Cult of Apollo at Delos

The Hellenistic keraton at Delos. Photo by Steven Lowenstam. For my final post, I would like to explore how the audiences for whom early Greek epics were composed and performed might have responded to representations of the cult of Apollo on Delos in epic poetry. This site, along with Delphi, was one of the god’s major Panhellenic sanctuaries—ones frequented by worshippers from many parts of the Greek world. As a… Read more

Who will win the race between the chorus and the Pleiades?

The race of the Pleiades in Alcm. PMGF 1   In my previous post (The Rise of the Pleiades in Alcm. PMGF 1), I have suggested that ll. 60 ff. of Alcm. PMFG 1 hints at an astronomical phenomenon, i.e. the heliacal rising of Sirius. However, these lines involve several other problems, one of which is the meaning of μάχονται of l. 63.   ταὶ Πεληάδες γὰρ ἇμιν Ὀρθρίᾳ φᾶρος… Read more

Minimizing the Distance? On Pity and Emotional Detachment

The danger of getting lost in translation – whether from one language to another or one culture to another – is a truism that points to recurrent challenges that classicists, among others, have to face.  This is no less the case with emotion-terms.  The debate about whether certain emotions are “basic”, hard-wired, and thus (more or less) easily translatable across cultures has a long history and continues today.[1]  Following the… Read more

Domination and Legitimacy in Hellenistic Monarchy: Some Remarks, Part 1

To think about types of legitimate domination in Hellenistic monarchy implies distinctions between the “probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of persons” and the basis for the continuance of this domination (or how such commands rely on a belief in legitimacy to keep working). In other words, it is crucial to understand both the differences and associations between the concepts of… Read more

The Image and the Text: Dedicatory Epigrams and Strategies of Communication in Archaic and Classical Athens

Citation with persistent identifier: Kaczko, Sara. “The Image and the Text: Dedicatory Epigrams on Stone and Strategies of Communication in Archaic and Classical Athens.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 1 (2012). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:KaczkoS.The_Image_and_the_Text_Dedicatory_Epigrams.2012 Per Roberta Introduction[1] §1  To the eyes of a Greek citizen of Archaic and Classical times, inscribed epigrams were an ordinary sight; to the eyes of a modern scholar, they possibly offer a unique opportunity. This is because… Read more

The Agorē in Epic and Archaeology

Citation with persistent identifier: Marks, Jim. “The Agorē in Epic and Archaeology.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 1 (2012). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:MarksJ.The_Agore_in_Epic_and_Archaeology.2012 Introduction §1  Descriptions of communities in the early Greek epics—like descriptions of places, people and things in general—tend to be cursory and formulaic. One of the features that does recur in the descriptions of communities is a collective meeting place, the agorē.[1] Nearly every community in which a significant portion… Read more

Ritual Practice and Material Support: Objects in Ritual Theories

Citation with persistent identifier: Patera, Ioanna. “Ritual Practice and Material Support: Objects in Ritual Theories.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 1 (2012). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:PateraI.Ritual_Practice_and_Material_Support.2012 Confined to the religious sphere [ritual] has some minimal utility. But used in the wide manner of ethologists (the rituals of copulation), archaeologists (with their ritual objects), the sociologists (discovering rituals of family living) and the anthropologists (rituals, more rituals, yet more rituals), there is little to be… Read more

Abstract: Collective Emotion in Thucydides

Thucydides’ well-known endorsement of Pericles praises his ability to perceive the fears of the Atheniandemos and steer them in the direction that benefits the affairs of the state. This endorsement reflects a preoccupation that permeates his History: the role that individual and collective emotion plays in political decision-making and action. This paper examines Thucydides’ depiction of the nature, characteristics, and effects of emotions primarily as collective responses. The Mytilenean debate and the… Read more

Abstract: Lesbos Between Athens and Sparta

Archaic Greek poems referred to a specific historical context and to a specific audience. To understand the meaning of these poems, it is necessary to reconstruct their contexts. Because of the lack of evidence about archaic Greece, different societies have to be compared: in the case of Sappho and Alcaeus, parallels are made between Lesbos and Sparta or Athens. However, because Spartan and Athenian society were structurally different, it is… Read more

Abstract: Rethinking the Homeric Polis

Descriptions of communities in the early Greek epics—like descriptions of places, people and things in general—tend to be cursory. Three features, however, recur with some frequency, each of which belongs to the public sphere: a central meetingplace (agorē), freestanding temples, and a city wall that encircles the entire settlement. Communities in which a significant part of an epic narrative is set—Troiē and the camp of the Akhaioi before it, Odusseus’… Read more

Abstract: On Her Majesty’s Service: C. L. W. Merlin and the Sourcing of Greek Antiquities for the British Museum

Based on hitherto unpublished archival material, this paper offers a brief biographical account of Charles Louis William Merlin, who served on Her Britannic Majesty’s consular service in Greece for almost 50 years (1839-1887). His extensive correspondence (1864-1892) with the British Museum, offers the opportunity to reconstruct Merlin’s role in the sourcing and trafficking of ancient objects directly from Athens to London. The study of this material, which is currently ongoing,… Read more

Abstract: Ritual Practice and Material Support: Objects in Ritual Theories

“Ritual” has long attracted classicists. While building on anthropological theories, however, the field of classics has not yet fully explored or integrated recent developments into its hermeneutics. While anthropologists have written and thought a great deal about “ritual” and the adequacy of the term for describing repetitive actions in religious as well as profane contexts, classicists continue to use the term without questioning its theoretical implications. “Ritual” conveys indeed dichotomies… Read more

Abstract: The Image and the Text: Dedicatory Epigrams on Stone and Strategies of Communication in Archaic and Classical Athens

My project deals with the interplay between image and literary-linguistic features of Archaic and Classical Attic dedicatory epigrams on stone in the communication with their two-fold audience, the god and the passers-by or, more broadly and importantly, the patron’s fellow citizens. Since epigrams were part of the ordinary life and “formulaic” on several respects, including their structure (shape of the monument, type of alphabet and dialect, layout of the text),… Read more

Research Symposium, Fall 2012

On November 30, 2012, six fellows presented their research to an audience of faculty, students, and senior fellows at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC. 9:00 am Session 1 “The Image and the Text: Dedicatory Epigrams on Stone and Strategies of Communication in Archaic and Classical Athens” Sara Kaczko, University of Rome Abstract | Paper and Video “Ritual practice and material support. Objects in ritual theories” Ioanna Patera,… Read more

Collective Emotion in Thucydides

Citation with persistent identifier: Visvardi, Eirene. “Collective Emotion in Thucydides.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 1 (2012). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:VisvardiE.Collective_Emotion_in_Thucydides.2012 §1  In classical Athens, negotiations in diverse public contexts – forensic, deliberative, poetic – explicitly evoke and examine the role of the emotions.[1] At the same time, in the context of the debate over the relationship between nature and culture (φύσις and νόμος), emotions occupy an interesting, if slippery, position because they… Read more

Lesbos Between Athens and Sparta

Citation with persistent identifier: Caciagli, Stefano. “Lesbos Between Athens and Sparta.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 1 (2012). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:CaciagliS.Lesbos_Between_Athens_and_Sparta.2012 Archaic Greek Poetry and Quellenforschung §1  A correct understanding of the social and historical background of an archaic Greek poet is necessary for the analysis of his poetry. In fact, the Greek poetry was essentially prag­matic, since it referred to a well-defined social context and to a well-defined audience: a Greek poet… Read more

On Her Majesty’s Service: C.L.W. Merlin and the Sourcing of Greek Antiquities for the British Museum

Citation with persistent identifier: Galanakis, Yannis. “On Her Majesty’s Service: C. L. W. Merlin and the Sourcing of Greek Antiquities for the British Museum.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 1 (2012). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:GalanakisY.On_Her_Majestys_Service.2012 The Diplomatic Pouch §1  The collection and trafficking of antiquities and art objects through the intervention of diplomatic services is neither new nor revelatory.[1] With regard to Greek antiquities, this subject has already been discussed either in relation… Read more

To Serve and to Source: a Trading Consul at the Service of the British Museum

On 15 December 1864, a sub-committee on antiquities at the British Museum (BM) approved a text containing instructions for the consuls in Her Britannic Majesty’s service. Instigated by the BM’s Trustees and drafted by Charles Newton, former consul and Keeper of the museum’s Greek and Roman antiquities (1861-1885), the directive was circulated via the Foreign Office to the consular service. It asked consuls and vice-consuls to identify, source and collect ancient… Read more

Names, shapes and functions of ancient Greek objects: a changing relationship

Current names of vases There is a long history in the typology of ancient Greek vases. Typological studies group ceramics according to their physical characteristics, such as material and shape. Each group is then assigned to a specific time period, which is often used to date archaeological contexts and vice versa. Attribution studies have gone a step further by identifying the hands of potters, artists, and production centers. In this… Read more

Coastalness and Inlandness: the Case of Attica

Scholarship has in the past few years dealt more systematically with networks of interaction in the Greek world, especially within the framework of coastalness and inlandness. According to Polybius (30.9.16.), the inhabitants of the Lycian city of Kybira were not able to send Polyaratus of Rhodes to Rome because they were μεσόγαιοι τελέως, “totally inland people”. I assume that the historian expresses here a sharp opposition between coastalness and inlandness… Read more

Reading Images and Seeing Epigrams: Image and Text in Attic Dedications

In the previous post I argued that some Archaic and Classical dedicatory epigrams deliberately selected non standard and non formulaic features to communicate with their audience. Those features concerned the material and immaterial elements of the dedicatory epigrams, that can be described by the three semantic systems of art and archaeology, epigraphy and literature. Of the two components of a dedicatory epigram — the material and the immaterial — the… Read more

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