Previous abstracts

Our final seminar in this year’s series took place on 18th March, when Ellie Mackin joined us to present a talk entitled ‘‘Well-played, Fluttershy…’: Defeating Discord and Dragons in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’.

Abstract

‘Almost every major myth cycle of the Graeco-Roman world featured a drakõn at its heart, including the sagas of Heracles, Jason, Perseus, Cadmus, and Odysseus’ (Ogden 2013: 1). And Hasbro’s most recent incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise (2010) is no different. From the opening shows of Season 2 (‘The Return of Harmony: Parts 1 and 2’) of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, that dragon is actually Discord, a draconequus (a ‘dragon-pony’, as the name suggests, fitting the pony-led theme of the show). But the show includes many different types of classical-themed ‘monsters’. In this paper, I am going to focus primarily on Discord, but these other ‘monsters’ will make brief appearances. I will discuss some of the myriad ways the show uses ancient Greek monsters, and specifically Discord and other dragons, to set up a hero narrative that mimics those of classical myth.

In this paper, I will examine Discord, and other classically-derived dragons (and monsters more generally), looking at their form, actions, and contexts. I will specifically discuss how these characters and creatures, and the hero-narrative tropes they tap into, are rendered for children (the show’s target audience is ages 4-7). My examination will focus primarily on characters who make their first appearance in the first two seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, (those seasons produced by Lauren Faust), and I will compare these to depictions of classical monsters in shows targeted at a similar audience (like Disney’s Sofia the First). I hope to show that the employment of monsters directly from, or influenced by, classical myth serves a broader purpose to the show’s premise, and perhaps more broadly in children’s development.

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On 26th February, Almut Fries joined us to present a paper entitled ‘Strangers in the Night: Indo-European Perspectives on Iliad 10 and the Rhesus Attributed to Euripides’.

Abstract

The story of Odysseus’ and Diomedes’ night-raid on the Trojan camp in Iliad 10 (the spurious episode also known as Doloneia) has an astonishingly close parallel in Book 10 of the Mahābhārata, called Sauptikaparvan or ‘Massacre at Night’. After a devastating defeat, two warrior heroes (or three in the case of the Indian epic) set out to infiltrate the camp of their enemy at night. Guided by a benevolent deity, they wreak havoc among (part of) the sleeping army, kill one of its leaders and depart into the darkness from which they came. A survivor raises the alarm, but all the victims of the attack can do is mourn their losses.

In detail, the two narratives vary enormously, as one would expect, given the differences in their cultural background and time of composition. But the basic similarities are obvious and pervasive, especially if one also takes into account two variants of the Greek myth, which are summarised in the scholia to Il. 10.435 and reflected in the pseudo-Euripidean tragedy Rhesus of the early fourth century BC. Taking further the approach of Kathleen Garbutt (JIES 34 (2006), 183-200), who did not consider the alternative Greek tradition, my paper identifies ten narrative elements shared by the Hellenic and Indian material, sometimes to the point of syntactical correspondence between Greek and Sanskrit. It is argued that these parallels are the result of common Indo-European or, more precisely, Graeco-Aryan origin rather than some form of horizontal transmission or sheer coincidence. I also consider the consequences this line of enquiry has for the interpretation of Iliad 10 and its variants and for their place in the Greek epic tradition.

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On 5th February, Lars Heinze spoke about ‘The late success of early Hellenism: some observations based on the pottery from Priene’.

Abstract

It may seem obvious that developments in material culture do not necessarily coincide with historically defined periods. Nevertheless, some periods seem to encourage us to assume just that, especially if they are associated with drastic political and social changes, as in case of the Hellenistic period. Within the development of ancient pottery shapes and styles, the transition from the 4th to the 3rd century BC appears to emphasise the assumption previously outlined: red-figured pottery declines and the West-slope style prevails as a new form of decoration. At the same time, most Classical drinking shapes begin to cease as new vessels start to become favoured at symposia.

A comparison between some of the earliest closed deposits from Priene, a city that was refounded after the middle of the 4th century BC, may help to understand how these changes were perceived in southern Ionia, a region freed by Alexander the Great during his military campaign. I will present various developments in the fine and the coarse wares found in the deposits from Priene, using both typological and archaeometric methods. The principal aim is to gain insights into the mechanisms that sparked these changes in material culture during the 4th and 3rd century BC, and to narrow down when they occurred in Priene itself. Many of these changes are traditionally explained as being triggered by the amalgamation of the Greek and Achaemenid world under Alexander the Great. However, the analysis of the assemblages from Priene indicate that this model is too simplistic and that the reality, as usual, is far more complicated.

In summary, this paper seeks to underline the significance of pottery studies to detect cultural interdependencies, aspects of commerce and value and, to a certain degree, the role of pots as carriers of a local or regional identity in the Greek world.

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On 15th January Myrthe Bartels came to present a paper entitled ‘The Unity of Aristotle’s Notion of Political Friendship’.

Abstract

There is a fundamental problem with Aristotle’s notion of political friendship in that Aristotle uses the term for two seemingly different things: on the one hand, political friendship is a type of utility friendship, manifested in the exchanges between two types of craftsmen (exchanges of one kind of good against another); on the other hand, political friendship is identified as homonoia (‘concord’) (EE VII.7, 1241a34; EN IX.6, 1167b2) — homonoia being at other places in turn identified with philia and said to be that at which lawgivers aim more than justice. Existing accounts of political friendship tend to focus only on the second aspect of political friendship, leaving the Eudemian Ethics largely out of consideration, or conclude on the basis of the discrepancy that the Eudemian Ethics is spurious. Interpreters moreover tend to explain ‘political friendship’ by imagining in what ways citizens are likely to become friends, thus following the traditional translation of philia as ‘friendship’. This paper will take a different approach to explain Aristotle’s notion of πολιτικὴ φιλία. What Aristotle in fact aims at is to analyse what keeps a polis together; the mechanisms that ensure this he calls ‘philia of the political type’. This approach not only renders the initial (apparent) discrepancy noted above less problematic; through it it also becomes clear that the two parts of political friendship can be viewed under a unifying aspect.

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On 4th December,  Alessandro Poggio gave a paper entitled ‘Dynasts in Action. Art and Society in the Eastern Mediterranean under Achaemenid Rule’.

Abstract

My paper will focus on the cultural and social identity of local élites in Asia Minor and the Eastern Mediterranean under Achaemenid rule. Here, especially between the end of the 5th and the first half of the 4th century BCE, dynasts made impressive display of their high status through artistic creations and social practices, simultaneously with their growing political role. Is it possible to identify a set of material and social aspects connected with the dynastic rank across different regions?

The most impressive material evidence is represented by monumental tombs. The agency of dynastic patronage operated through the choice of locations, typologies, materials and decorative programmes, which contributed to celebrate the rulers’ status before a multi-faceted audience. Palaces must have been significant places as well, although archaeological evidence is scanty: Mausolus’s palace at Halicarnassus, for instance, was built in a prominent place and for its decoration — according to Pliny the Elder (HN 36.47) — marble slabs were employed for the first time.

In the life of these élites also feasting played an important role as a social and political practice. Athenaeus (12.531a-e) describes such gatherings organised by Straton I of Sidon as part of an intense rivalry with Nicocles, the Cypriot king of Salamis. My analysis of further artistic and archaeological evidence will confirm the importance of such activities for dynastic ideology in the contexts under investigation.

My paper will show the significance of complex cultural interactions across many areas of the Eastern Mediterranean in the formation and consolidation of élites under Achaemenid rule. Moreover, from a methodological point of view, this research will show the potential of using various sorts of evidence to shed light on social contexts that are not yet well known.

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On 13th November, Michael Hanaghan presented a paper entitled ‘Narrative Time in Three Epistles of Sidonius Apollinaris’.

Abstract

In the mid to late fifth-century, as Roman power in the West waned, Sidonius Apollinaris wrote nine books of epistles. Three of his epistles include a pivotal moment as the present of the epistle (what Müller termed the Erzählzeit ). Ep. 1.5 describes Sidonius’ arrival in Rome; Ep. 1.7 provides an account of the trial of the Gallo-Roman aristocrat Arvandus for treason; Ep. 1.10 details Sidonius’ efforts as the prefect of Rome. This paper argues that Sidonius chose these pivotal moments as the setting for the present as a literary strategy designed to enhance the efficacy of the epistolary past and future, make the epistles more exciting, and create anticipation and suspense.

The epistles have a similar temporal narratology; their Erzählzeiten are precisely defined and look backwards to a nostalgic past and forwards to a murky future (as Erzählzeiten are wont to do). Such precise present moments sharpen the excitement for the reader: the alliance between Ricimer and Anthemius hangs in the balance; the Gallo-Roman aristocrat Arvandus has been sentenced to death for treason, but is yet to be executed; Rome is starving, but grain is about to arrive.

Sidonius’ epistles offer more than a pseudo-historical account of a few decades in Late Antiquity; they aspire to be read and enjoyed. The Erzählzeiten of these epistles should inform our understanding of Sidonius’ skill as an epistolary author, rather than the ‘actual moment’ when the epistle was written. His narratology reflects the requirements and expectations his literary circle of fellow Gallo-Roman aristocrats and clergy ― that the narratives contained within should excite.

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On 30th October, Guido Petruccioli joined us from Rome to speak about ‘Collecting and Trading Antiquities in early modern Italy’.

Abstract

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, unprecedented social, economic, and political transformations affected the practices of collecting Greek and Roman antiquities in Europe and North America, beginning to change the ways in which the classical past was appropriated, taught, and enjoyed more widely.

While numerous studies have examined the history of major public and private collections during this period, virtually no attempt has been made to assess how a few dealers impacted the way in which we now look at classical culture.

This paper addresses the early development of large-scale antiquities collecting and trading by looking at the beliefs and modus operandi of such key Italian dealers as Giuseppe Sangiorgi, Attilio Simonetti, Filippo Tavazzi, the Jandolo and Canessa families, and Alfredo Barsanti. These dealers, whose activity is documented by rich but widely scattered archival resources, purveyed artworks for major collectors, and contributed to give shape to some of the largest European and North American collections of antiquities.

My paper draws on extant visual and documentary evidence to elucidate the crucial role of this restricted and interconnected group of individuals in controlling the market and in influencing the acquisition strategies and collecting priorities of individuals and institutions in the early 20th century.

How did these dealers stimulate, adapt to, and take advantage of, the demands of a growing class of collectors and museums? What was their social status, and how did they justify their – sometimes objectionable – activity before the public eye? What was their position vis-à-vis the increasingly tight legislation on art trade?

By presenting a set of case studies of ancient artworks circulating on the market between 1909 and 1928, this paper will examine how changes in the way antiquities were traded and acquired transformed the financial, cultural and ideological values attributed to the Classical past in the western world.

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Our first seminar in the 2015-2016 series took place on 9th October, when Jan Haywood spoke about ‘Character and Motivation in Aeschylus’ Persae’.

Abstract

One of the most controversial aspects of Aeschylus’ historical tragedy is its presentation of the Persian Other. Produced shortly after the Greeks’ defeat of Persians in 479 BCE, the text is read by some as a sympathetic portrait of the Persians who were defeated at Salamis (e.g. Garvie 2009), but by others as a robust defence of Greek ideals, showing little concern for the enfeebled Persians (e.g. Harrison 2000). In this paper I will shed further light on Aeschylus’ complex presentation of his Persian protagonists, dividing the analysis into two parts. The first section will explore Aeschylus’ inclusion of an elaborate and contradictory causal framework, illustrating the manifold reasons that are cited by the drama’s different Persian characters to explain the Greeks’ victory and the Persians’ defeat. As part of this analysis, I will also investigate the way that the narrator shapes these different responses within the overall narrative. The second section will then focus specifically on the chief protagonist of the drama, the Persian Queen, showing the Queen’s potent yet inconsistent understanding of and reaction to Xerxes’ failed invasion. From this will emerge a more nuanced understanding of Aeschylus’ complex presentation of Persian character and motivation in Persae — a text that in many ways pre-empts Herodotus’ multi-layered account of the Persian Wars. The paper will demonstrate how Aeschylus encourages his audience to consider the perspectives of both Greek and Persian antagonists, and how Aeschylus eschews an overt narratorial persona that establishes a monolithic aetiology of the Persians’ defeat.

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Below are details of all the papers which have taken place in the 2014-2015 session.
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Our final seminar of the 2015 session took place on 12th March, when Andrew Roberts spoke about ‘The Rival Kings: Alexander the Great and the English Restoration’.

Abstract

During the Renaissance, Alexander the Great was a ‘mirror’ into which the European aristocracy looked for education in generalship, behaviour and policy. Since Alexander’s character encompassed the immoral and the heroic, he was the perfect complement to an age that sought examples of both virtue and vice from the ‘great men’ of antiquity. It is commonplace for modern scholars to note, however, that during the Restoration and the early-Hanoverian period in England this ‘mirror’ was replaced by overwhelmingly negative responses. A polity that had recently renegotiated the rights and duties of the monarchy looked unkindly upon a king who was seen to hold pretensions to divinity and absolute power, but little compunction when abusing the rights and lives of his subordinates. Restoration tragedians presented Alexander as a tyrant in order to critique the Stuarts; by the 1740s, and particularly in the works of Henry Fielding, Alexander was the archetypal ‘criminal’ conqueror.

This paper will examine a set of previously overlooked sources that used Alexander in Restoration political discourse. After the return of Charles II in 1660, there was a glut of translations of Quintus Curtius’ Historiae Alexandri. Each edition has prefatory material that offered Alexander as a flattering comparison to contemporary generals and monarchs. These comparisons suggest that two revisions to the previous scholarly assessment of Alexander’s post-Restoration repute. First, these works formed part of a partisan discourse on the nature of the monarchy that utilised a wide range of interpretations of Alexander’s character. Second, the febrile politics of the Restoration were crucial in transforming Alexander from a pedagogical model into a touchstone for British politics.

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On 5th March, Yukiko Saito joined us from Japan, to speak about ‘A Luminous World in Antiquity: A Study of Argos in Homer’s Iliad’.

Abstract

What is ἀργός? Whiteness? Luminosity? Or, simply a range of bright shades? I have undertaken an on-going research project on the perception of colour-sense in antiquity, attempting to provide new angles for re-reading Greek poetry, shedding light on the role of colour especially in the Homeric epics, by exploring colour’s metaphorical function(s) and its social role. Colour is inflected with particular associations and meanings, giving it a symbolic function. In this paper I focus on bright shades in the Iliad, mainly ἀργός, examining particular contexts to investigate how the poet employs ἀργός in developing a richer narrative, including character portrayal. One aim is an attempt to clarify how ἀργός can be used to illustrate both ‘whiteness’ and ‘quick-running’ (e.g. Il. 1. 50). How are various appearances of ἀργός composed and interconnected? How do they metaphorically affect their contexts? What do they symbolise within the narrative? Through detailed analysis, I show that ἀργός, being appropriately selected to contribute to each context as a significant indicator, plays an important role in brightening the context, effectively and picturesquely. I also integrate this investigation with my previous research into other colour terms, to present my findings on ἀργός, whereby inter-related associations between ἀργός and other colours can be deduced. In this way, fresh aspects of the Greek, Homeric bright colour world are revealed. This investigation, therefore, which is intended to elucidate the ancients’ perception of their world, also serves as an interdisciplinary contribution to multicultural understanding of our modern thought.

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On 26th February, we were joined by Giulio Iovine, who presented a paper entitled ‘The queen in tears. A century of Sophocles’ **Εὐρύπυλοc (1912-2012)’.

Abstract

In 1912, Arthur Hunt published into volume IX of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri the 107 fragments of a tragedy by Sophocles, whose title was perhaps Eurypylus. The number of fragments arose in 1927 to 121 with P.Oxy. XVII 2081(b); most of them the size of a stamp, only few of larger extent. The dramatically fragmentary status of this papyrus has perhaps been a hindrance to the scholarly efforts towards the reconstruction of a tragedy which is the best preserved among the lost works of Sophocles on papyri, and which represented (and represents) an invaluable chance for understanding his technique and the stages of his dramatic career. From Radt’s edition (1975, frr. 206-222b18 R.2), scholarship has been almost silent on the topic.

After more than a century, this paper aims to open a new season for studies on Eurypylus. A close inspection to the module of the letters, their inclination and the colour of ink seems to confirm Hunt’s suspicion, that not all the fragments in P.Oxy. IX 1175+2081(b) belong to that Sophoclean tragedy; one can detect four main groups of fragments, each probably belonging to a determined tragedy, and only the first one (frr. 206-219a79, 222b5-8 R.2) is likely to host the remnants of the Eurypylus.

Having then told the Eurypylus fragments from the others, the paper divides them in sub-groups using physical features, like wormholes on the surface, to reconstruct possible adjacent columns; it tries then to determine the actual title of the tragedy, its position in Sophocles’ catalogue, its characters, the nature of its Chorus, and the tetralogy in which it was included. It argues, eventually, that the leading role of this tragedy was Astyoche, the hero’s mother and the main responsible of his death; the plot was built around her guilt and punishment.

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On 19th February, Elena Giusti presented a paper entitled ‘The Enemy on Stage: Rome’s invention of Carthage’.

Abstract

The period of the first two Punic wars coincided with the birth and growing popularity of Roman adaptations of Athenian tragedies and comedies, with the invention of Rome’s Trojan origin, and with the birth of Latin epic and historiography, namely the birth of a ‘national’ literature. Within this climate, it is possible to see Rome’s collective action, her building of a collective identity and the construction of a ‘national’ Enemy as part of the very same process.

This paper suggests that the construction of the Carthaginians in mid-Republican Rome developed in theatrical performances on the model of the Greek ‘invention’ of the barbarian Persians, as codified by Edith Hall in 1989, and that in both cases the building of a collective identity was a process tightly intertwined with the artificial creation of a national Enemy. While incontrovertible evidence for a Persian/Carthaginian assimilation is provided by Greek poetry, historiography and iconography, the early Roman comparisons between Persian and Punic wars amount to no more than one Cato and two Ennius fragments. Yet Naevius’ so-called ‘fragment of the Giants’ provides a possible point of contact between the Greek, the early Roman, and the Augustan tradition, in which emulation of fifth-century Athens clearly exhibits, in both artistic and literary production, a strong interest in the representation of the barbarian Other, albeit mediated by the iconography of the Hellenistic kingdoms.

This paper will survey the evidence for a Persian/Carthaginian assimilation and explore the possibility of the contention that the locus of this assimilation was early Roman theatre, particularly those tragedies which were often adaptations or translations, staged during the years of the conflicts against Carthage, of fifth-century Athenian plays which dealt with the ‘invention of the Barbarian’. Part of the evidence is provided by a retrospective reading of Virgil’s Aeneid, whose Carthaginian episode is constructed on the model of those same ‘barbarian tragedies’ which were apparently popular on the early Latin stage, often with probable references to Ennius or Pacuvius.

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On 12th February, Marek Verčík joined us to present a paper on ‘Did Hoplites rule the Mediterranean? An archaeological investigation of the connection between the Greeks and the Balkans’.

Abstract

Contacts between different regions and civilisations as well as the interaction of their cultures have become one of the most discussed topics also in current Classical research. This discussion does not so much concern the results of this process, but rather its nature. However, one subject of the study has been persisting in this development — Classical Warfare. According to the assumption of the old-fashioned, ‘colonial’ approach the Greeks military dominates their neighbour and furthermore resists foreign influence. Using the extensive material dimension of the Greek Warfare, I attempt to re-examine this approach out of the perspective of ‘material connections’. By analysing the origin of the Hoplite Arms and Armour, which was an essential component of Greek identity, the diversity within its development and the importance of the foreign influence, in this case from Balkan Peninsula, will be shown.

In chronological terms, the paper focuses on archaic and classic periods. This approach makes it possible to examine the topic diachronic and in comparison to the development in other neighbouring cultures, before the eminent changes symbolising the Hellenistic period the ‘globalisation’ of Warfare — occurred. During that time, the eastern Mediterranean and especially the Aegean itself were frequented by Greeks, Thracians, Persians and other local peoples, all of whom became entangled in ever-shifting regional and intra-regional movements. Both of these make it possible to interrogate how conflicts, peaceful contacts or commodities convey the experience of Mediterranean people, and how these experiences were interpreted by the Greeks, thus improving their own Armoury and Warfare in order to survive.

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On 5th February, Lucy Jackson joined us to present a paper on ‘The Chorus in Fourth-Century BCE Comedy’.

Abstract

It is often said that the chorus ceased to play any significant role in fourth-century BCE Attic comedy. This assertion is based on two strands of argument: first, a conspicuous (but by no means total) absence of choral text in what remains of comedy after 400 (often signalled in our manuscripts by the word xoροῦ); and second, the fact that in the plays and fragments that survive, comic characters frequently ignore the chorus for the majority of the drama. Further to this, many accounts of comedy’s development in the fourth century, ancient and modern, reveal what we might describe as a ‘textually positivist’ assumption that any absence in the text (itself a partial rendering of a dramatic performance) indicates a similar absence in the performance itself. In light of this assumption, indications of choral performance that do survive in extant fragments are frequently and dogmatically construed as exceptional rather than the norm.

In this paper I shall set out a way to re-frame the discussion of the fourth-century comic chorus. Building on the recent, significant shift
in attitudes towards the vitality and quality of fourth-century theatre (see E. Csapo et. al, 2014) and highlighting the problems with previous readings of our evidence for the fourth-century comic chorus, it will be possible to look at the role of the comic chorus in a new light. First I shall set out how both the text and the absence of choral text has traditionally been read. Next I turn to the fragments of choral text that do survive and see how the picture of the fourth-century comic chorus is a great deal more diverse and positive than is often reported. Finally, I return to the xoροῦ mark and provide an
alternative way of reading the absence it draws attention to.

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On 29th January, Fabio Tutrone presented a paper on ‘Seneca on the Nature of Things: Moral Concerns and Theories of Matter in Natural Questions 6’.

Abstract

The influence of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura on Seneca’s Naturales Quaestiones — on Book 6 in particular — has long been recognised by scholars. As is well-known, the sixth book of Lucretius’ poem contains a wide-ranging treatment of meteorological matters, in the typically ancient (i.e. Aristotelian) sense (6.96-1089), including a notable section on the causes of earthquakes (535-607). Furthermore, the last part of the same book deals with the origins and effects of pestilences (and an artistic translation of Thucydides’ Athenian plague is the famous finale of the whole work, 6.1090-1286). Both these aspects of Lucretius’ didactic exposition appear to have strongly influenced Seneca’s seismological discussion in Book 6, but while a general consensus obviously exists about the shared inclination of our two authors to emphasise moral aims, further research seems to be needed with respect to Seneca’s use of Epicurean-Lucretian physiology.

Basically, I shall address the issue in three stages. First, I will analyse the structure of the so-called doxographic review put forth between chapters 5 and 20 of Book 6. In such chapters, Seneca discusses the different explanations provided by previous thinkers for the emergence of earthquakes. But even if his progressive, epitomising approach has often been compared to that of doxographers sensu proprio, his intellectual goals are of a very different nature and can only be understood in light of the Book’s paraenetic-scientific strategies. Second, I will concentrate my attention on the philosopher’s description of the plagues arising from earthquakes (6.27-28). The special interest of this aetiological sub-section lies in its skilful assimilation (and manipulation) of Lucretius’ theories, for Seneca succeeds in readapting the Epicurean account of the origin of diseases and its typically atomistic consideration of matter to the Stoic view of physical elements. Third and last, I will briefly remark on the chapter immediately following the aetiology of post-earthquake plagues (6.29). I will suggest that such a chapter, too, should be understood in view of the predominant Lucretian influence, as it entails a subtle allusion to the climate of the late Republic — if not to the fate of Lucretius himself.

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We were delighted to begin the series in 2015 on 22nd January with a paper by Edmund Stewart, on ‘Euripides in Italy: the case of Melanippe Bound’.

Abstract

The plays of Euripides were well known in Italy and Sicily by the time of the author’s death, if not earlier. Taplin and others have pointed to the evidence of vase paintings which seem to depict scenes from tragedy, while references to the Greek West appear in the plays themselves (particularly Euripides’ Cyclops). This paper will pose the question of whether Euripides ever visited Italy himself and whether he ever composed dramas specifically for an Italian Greek audience. I will focus on the Melanippe Bound in order to show that this play was in all probability originally composed for performance in Metapontum. No ancient source attests to such a connection; however, the biographies of Euripides do mention travels to Magnesia and Macedonia. In addition, the Andromache was known to have been first performed outside Athens, probably in Epirus. This paper will argue that Melanippe Bound shares a number of similarities with the Andromache and Archelaus: the latter a play written for King Archelaus of Macedonia. In particular, all three plays establish an heroic genealogy for a particular people. In addition, both the Archelaus and Melanippe contain innovations in the mythical tradition that seem to be designed to appeal to or further the interests of the king of Macedonia and the Metapontines respectively. These conclusions will raise further questions about the performance context of other Euripidean plays (especially the Aeolus) and provide further confirmation that tragedy was widely disseminated at an early stage and within the life time of Euripides.

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Below are details of all the papers which have taken place in the 2013-2014 session.

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Our final seminar of the academic year took place on 14th March: Aikaterini Kolotourou presented ‘The Crafted Beat: Shields, Tympana and Symbolic Transformation in Early Iron Age Crete.

Abstract

Standard works on ancient Greek music describe percussion as an oriental musical element, whose introduction in the Aegean resulted from the intensive contacts with the east from the turn of the first millennium BC onwards. The establishment of settlements and emporia along the Western Anatolian and Syro-Phoenician coasts and Cyprus, together with the circulation of foreign tradesmen and craftsmen in the Greek environs during the Early Iron Age, would indeed provide the Greeks with several opportunities to experience the  percussive music of their neighbours. Yet, the intensity and plurality of external stimuli do not suffice to explain why ‘foreign’ performance practices would assume an important role in the Aegean from the Early Iron Age onwards. This paper argues that the process of incorporating new musical elements into one’s culture is closely related with internal social negotiations and dynamics. Focusing on one of the most striking examples of musico-cultural amalgamation in the Aegean, the performance of the frame drum (Greek tympanon), this paper proposes a shift in the way we qualify the increased appreciation for percussive music in the Aegean, by examining the specific eastern parallels for this type of Greek percussion in connection with the meanings that such percussive practice might have communicated within the Greek socio-cultural milieu.

The earliest allusions to the performance of tympana (frame drums) in the Aegean are found on Crete: on the well known 8th century BC bronze votive sheet from the Idaean Cave, often referred to as ‘tympanon’ in scholarship, and on two late 7th century BC female terracotta figurines from Praisos. The iconography on both sets of objects demonstrates a multiplicity of musical references from the Assyrian and Neo-Hittite kingdoms of Anatolia to the Cypro-Levantine experiences of drumming.  Both Cretan artefacts, however, exploit in an unparalleled manner a visual and notional conflation between a shield and a tympanon, evoking in this way an exclusive, local and culture-specific theogonic and initiatory framework for the regenerating and protective qualities of tympanon-playing.

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On 7th March Ellie Mackin gave a paper entitled ‘Little Korai: Persephone-Imitation in Marriage and Death in Early Greek Cult.

Abstract

Persephones most recognisable mythic role is subservient maiden.  However, several cults show a different Persephonean persona.  This paper explores two such instances, in the marriage-themed dedications at the Persephone cult in Lokri and the burial-imitation of the goddess for prematurely deceased Athenian girls.

At the Persephone cult in the southern Italian settlement of Lokri a group of pinakes were found depicting the goddess abduction by Hades, and a sub-type showing young women being abducted by young men. These pinakes are dedications made to the goddess by girls on the occasion of their marriages.  There is no evidence that mock-abduction formed an aspect of marriage rituals here.  The pinakes show girls presenting themselves and their bridegrooms in imitation of the divine pair – as little Korai undergoing the same pre-marriage ritual abduction as the goddess who provides protection for new brides.

The tradition of girls acting in imitation of Persephone is not unique to Lokri.  There are numerous examples of mythic maidens acting in imitation of the goddess in her guise as wife of Haides in contemporary literature.  Well known literary examples include Iphigenia and Antigone. The practical application of this is found within the Classical Athenian practice of burying unmarried maidens wearing a wedding dress with wedding-related grave-goods.  In these cases the young girl is not portrayed as Haides bride, but presented as the metaphorical image of Persephone.

This paper will discuss the implications of the ‘little Korai who act in imitation of the goddess to elucidate aspects of the wider cultic persona of Persephone herself.  In particular the use of subservient-themed mythic narratives – namely, Persephones abduction – in the non-subservient cultic persona of the goddess will be explored in order to offer up a new perspective on Persephones role in early Greek religion.

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On 28th February Alessia Dimartino presented her work on ‘Paleographic Analysis and Historical Perspectives on Greek Honorary Inscriptions from Ancient Sicily.

Abstract

At the end of the 5th century BC, the Milesian reform made the use of the Ionic alphabet compulsory in Athens and elsewhere in Greece. As Margherita Guarducci says “having been modified and improved in such a way as to render adequately the principal sounds of the language, the Greek alphabet did not undergo any further substantial alteration, but only variations of form, or to be more precise, of style. While it is not easy to date archaic inscriptions only on the basis of their epigraphic characteristics, the difficulties normally increase further in inscriptions from the Hellenistic and the Roman Imperial period” (M. Guarducci, Epigrafia greca, 1967, I, 368). In fact, from the end of the 5th century BC letter forms vary considerably from place to place; therefore, changes in palaeography attested in one particular case and location cannot be used for dating inscriptions found in another place.

Starting out from these preliminary considerations, during my doctoral and post-doctoral researches on palaeographic analysis and historical perspectives on Greek inscriptions from Sicily, I studied and traced palaeographic evolution of letter forms from the 4th to the 1st century BC. The success of my first project allowed me to extend the research to the Imperial age, with the aim to complete the framework that I had traced, and to study a thematic aspect focused on the relationship between inscriptions and the honorary statue bases they are engraved on, along with their archaeological context. This project is called “Writing and Statues”, and I have been carrying out it at the University of Oxford.

The examples I will show in the ICS Seminar – the inscriptions pertaining to the Syrakusan reign of Hiero II and the public inscriptions coming from the late-Hellenistic agora of Soluntum dating after Sicily had become a Roman province -, will better illustrate the methodology of my palaeographic investigation, emphasizing, as it does, the importance of contextualizing inscriptions as to understand their aims and implied messages.

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On 21st February Helen Slaney presented a paper entitled ‘A Dilettante’s Guide to Classical Reception.

Abstract

In 1750, the Society of Dilettanti sponsored Britain’s first official fact-finding expedition to Greece, and initiated half a century of intensive observation, acquisition, and reproduction of Hellenic antiquities. Their investigations were informed by Enlightenment discourses of empiricism which stressed the cognitive value of encounters with the tangible and material relics of ancient civilizations. This paper examines the ideology of eighteenth-century dilettantism and its relationship to the reception of classical material culture, particularly as manifested in the activities and publications of the Society of Dilettanti.

Dilettantism cannot be called a ‘movement’ as such, but the frequent – usually disparaging – contemporary references to its practitioners indicate its widespread presence in various – usually artistic – fields during the period in question. Like ‘tourist’, ‘dilettante’ is a term most often applied to other people. In reclaiming the soubriquet, the Society of Dilettanti reverted to its etymological origins in dilettare < delectare, or in other words, delight, contrasting a boundless enthusiasm for the acquisition of knowledge to the self-imposed limitations of the professional or the pedant. Variety was also an important aspect; the dilettante was an intellectual omnivore.

When dilettantism is considered in this light as a means of relating to cultural phenomena, the distinctive features of this phase of classical reception become apparent. These three vital elements – empiricism, heterogeneity, and amateurism or pleasure-seeking – set the agenda for Britain’s first organised pursuit of knowledge of classical material culture. In recuperating dilettantism as a mode of enquiry and an epistemological paradigm, this paper also addresses its particular implications as a model for conducting classical reception.

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On 7th February, Andrew Roberts spoke about ‘The Greatest Captains of their Ages: Alexander the Great and John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722).

Abstract

John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), was the first general to be widely acclaimed as a martial hero of post-Revolution Britain. Appointed Captain-General of the coalition of powers opposing France in the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), Marlborough led the alliance forces at the Battleof Blenheim (1704). It was a victory that ended the longstanding military dominance of Louis XIV’s armies, and the coalition’s subsequent successes in Flanders provoked widespread acclaim for the Duke in the booming print culture of the early-eighteenth century. Throughout his career, and even after his fall from favour at court and subsequent death in 1722, Marlborough was portrayed by many as the foremost military commander of his age.

Alexander the Great was cited by Marlborough as a model for his career, and parallels between the two were consistently made in printed works by the Duke’s supporters. The paper will discuss the basis of Alexander’s fame and – at least in some quarters – his enduring popularity in post-Restoration English literature, in order to understand why Marlborough saw fit to portray himself as Alexander redivivus. Alexander was chosen primarily because he was considered an appropriate benchmark by which to measure military accomplishment, but the Duke also sought to revoke Louis’ own claim to be the inheritor of Alexander’s legacy. The vanquisher of Louis, however, was not merely to be flattered by the comparison with the conqueror of the Persians; his supporters often elevated the Duke above his predecessor on the basis of his conduct and his aims. How and why Marlborough could be claimed as a “new” type of British hero will be examined through analysis of the intellectual basis for the rejection of ancient heroes like Alexander. The perceived embodiment of one British civic ideal especially – the protection of liberty – propelled Marlborough above his ancient predecessor in the eyes of his supporters. The comparatio with Alexander served not just to articulate the superiority of the Duke, but also to reduce his ancient rival to an anachronism of martial virtue.

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On 31st January (Chinese New Year) Theodora Jim spoke about ‘Seafaring and ‘Saving’ Gods in Ancient Greece and Early China.

Abstract

Perhaps because ‘salvation’ is such a central concept in Christianity, historians have traditionally neglected that soteria (‘safety’, ‘deliverance’, ‘salvation’) and soteres(‘saviours’) played an important role in ancient Greek religion also. Innumerable Greek prayers and dedications from all over the Greek world were made ‘for soteria’. Individuals could appeal to a wide range of gods and goddesses as ‘saviours’ in different contexts. But what exactly did soteria mean to the ancient Greeks? How different is the Greek soteria from other religious cultures’ conceptions of ‘salvation’?

This paper focuses on ‘saving’ gods and ‘salvation’ in maritime activities. A combination of literary, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence is exploited to examine the diversity of ‘saving’ divinities at sea, the maritime cults of gods with the title soteres/soteirai, and private expressions of piety (such as dedications) pertaining to soteria. It hopes to address several questions: how did individuals decide which gods or goddesses to appeal to as ‘saviours’ at sea? What can their choices and decisions tell us about the Greeks’ religious beliefs and conceptions of their gods? What was distinctive (if at all) about the epithets soter and soteira?

The second part of the paper adopts a comparative approach to examine ‘saving’ gods in Ancient Greece and Ancient China. Both religious systems were polytheistic; both provided worshippers with a diversity of recipes for their well-being and deliverance. In particular I will compare the Greek Dioscuri and the Chinese goddess Mazu (媽祖). While the historical settings and cult practices differ in the two cultures, the participants’ basic psychology may transcend cultural boundaries and may prove comparable.

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On 24th January, Alan Ross joined us from KwaZulu-Natal, to speak about ‘Syene as face of Battle: Heliodorus and Late Antique Historiography’.

Abstract

Heliodorus of EmesaAethiopica is the latest and longest surviving example of the ancient Greek novel. In this paper I will offer a narratological and intertextual survey of one notable episode in the Aethiopica, which, I argue, demonstrates Heliodorus interaction with contemporary, late-antique literature, and thus supplies further evidence for the novels (contested) fourth-century date.

Critics have noted that the narrator of the Aethiopica deploys a historiographic pose, with which he increases the emotional intensity for his readers by inviting them to respond to his fictional narrative as if he were narrating real events. Most scholars have pointed to classical Greek historians, predominately Herodotus, as Heliodorus sources for these historiographic mannerisms. However, in the narrative of the siege of Syene in Book 9 (itself one of the best examples of historiographical content within the Aethiopica, and some details of which have already been connected to a historical siege in the 350s), I argue that Heliodorus deploys a narrative form that closely resembles poliorcetic narrative in contemporary historiography. This involves a ‘face of battle approach which seeks to present the participants experience, rather than just a tactical overview of combat.

The conclusions of this paper offer an important new argument for reading Heliodorus within a distinct, late-antique literary milieu. They also provide an illustration of how the intertextual relationship between these two genres can enable a novelist to create realism, and a historian to invoke credibility by adhering to recognisable narrative patterns.

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We started the new year on 17th January when Diana Rodríguez Pérez spoke about ‘Image and Practice in Ancient Greece: The Case of the Athenian Plemochoai’.

Abstract

In this paper I would like to introduce my postdoctoral project, whose aim is to analyse the relationship between the painted image and the lived realities in Archaic and Classical Greece. To this end, the specific subject of study is a class of vases, traditionally known as plemochoai, a stemmed vessel, black-glazed and most often lidded, produced in Athens from 550 BC onwards, whose essential characteristic is the incurving rim, overhanging on the interior.

The plemochoe did not carry iconography but it was frequently represented on other vases, in particular in the so-called ‘toilet scenes’ and in scenes of the visit to the tomb on white-ground lekythoi during the 5th century BC. Its frequent appearance in ‘domestic settings’ in Attic vase painting might make one expect to find examples recovered from households, but this is not the case. The extant plemochoai come from 6th and 5th century tombs of both sexes in Macedonia and Boeotia while the representations — on Athenian vases — occur in the last half of the 5th century, when the shape was apparently not produced any more. In addition, despite the insistence of the vase painters on the Athenian woman bringing plemochoai to the tomb, only very few of them are known to come from Attic graves and no image of this vessel is attested on Athenian funerary stelai. As the images show the vessel in close association with women, it has traditionally been assumed that the plemochoe was a perfume container whose use was restricted to them, an assumption that the contextual analysis of the extant vases may prove wrong.

My project deals with some of the most current and exciting questions of modern scholarship on Greek vases: the relationship between image and practice, the different agendas of the artistic media, the use of perfume vessels in funerary contexts, the points of view of the producer and the consumer, the semiotics of the space, the representation of women or the fundamental question of how to understand Greek imagery.

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Our last seminar of the autumn term took place on 6th December, when Stephe Harrop gave a paper entitled: ‘The End of the World? On the Wall with Rudyard Kipling and George R.R. Martin.’  

Abstract

Both Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) and A Song of Ice and Fire (1996 -) represent important sites for the modern reception of Hadrian’s Wall. In Kipling’s story, a centurion recounts his youthful defence of the Roman Wall against ‘the Winged Hats’ to two modern children, this stirring evocation of British history exhorting its young readers to patriotic endeavour and self-sacrifice. In the grittier fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire (which appropriates tropes from Kipling’s classic tale), noble bastard Jon Snow vows to defend an over-scale, fantastical version of the Wall – seven hundred feet of lethal compacted ice, infused with protective magics – against the uncivil, monstrous peoples inhabiting the wilds beyond. Thus, both tales echo traditionalreadings of the ancient Wall as a defensive, divisive structure, rigidly segregating south from north, civilisation from barbarism.

However, closer analysis reveals that both texts also come to develop more complicated and unsettling accounts of their northern frontiers. Throughout Kipling’s narrative, the young Parnesius’ experiences subtly subvert the heroic tale told by his storyteller-self, creating a submerged counter-narrative which figures the landscape and peoples of the Roman Wall in some unexpected ways. A Song of Ice and Fire similarly (and radically) destabilises its own initial depiction of a monumental, impermeable Wall as the series (and its TV version Game of Thrones) progresses, provoking dramatic shifts in perspective, allegiance and identity.

In this way, both texts can be read as mirroring current scholarship on Hadrian’s Wall, which has increasingly begun to interpret the ancient monument as an unpredictable ‘frontier’ site, a location of contact, hybridity and cultural exchange. Tracing some of the key overlaps between this emerging scholarship and the fictions of Kipling and Martin, this paper examines how new readings of historically-influenced fantasy might help facilitate a more flexible, creative and reciprocal range of interactions between popular audiences and our evolving understanding of the real-world Hadrian’s Wall.

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Link to Stephe’s website.

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On 29th November Kathleen Hamel gave a paper entitled: ‘Vivam: The Continuing Survival of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Twentieth Century France: Proust and Darrieussecq.

Abstract

‘Ovid was the most French of Latin writers and so he was the strongest classical influence on nascent French literature’1. Ovid’s poetry has remained a powerful influence in French literature, validating his claim to immortality through the survival of his art as expressed in his famous epilogue to the Metamorphoses (XV.871-2). I propose to discuss the Metamorphoses’ continuing presence in French literature by examining two radically different novels which book-end the twentieth century, Marcel Proust’s À la Recherche du temps perdu and Marie Darrieussecq’s Truismes. Begun in 1909, Proust’s formidable meditation on the genesis of the artist, À la Recherche du temps perdu has itself become part of the literary canon. Proust’s reflection on his method of constructing the novel, a web-like construction like Arachne’s tapestry, owes much to Ovid, making potent use of the myth of Pygmalion and the creation of a work of art. The novel is underpinned by Proust’s anxiety about his own artistry and capacity for survival through his fragile masterpiece. This is in sharp contrast with Ovid’s supreme confidence as expressed in the epilogue in which he presents his poem as a monument that will outlive the ravages of time and ensure the survival of its creator.

Marie Darrieussecq’s Truismes (1996) tells of a young woman’s metamorphosis into a sow against the backdrop of a dystopic rendition of France at the turn of the millennium. Ovid is present throughout this disturbing and often distasteful novel as the reader is taken on a whirlwind tour of the Metamorphoses through a pastiche of details from various myths. However it is in its final pages that Truismes crystallises its Ovidian resonances, with especial reference to his epilogue in which he stakes his claim for future survival. Despite being a victim the vulnerable heroine of this novel manages to survive the social upheaval and turmoil of the early 21st century, tenuously retaining vestiges of her humanity or human shape in order to write her history.

By demonstrating the engagement of both texts with the Metamorphoses, and in particular its epilogue my paper will show how these two radically different novels answer and support Ovid’s claim to immortality ‘VIVAM’.

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1 Gilbert Highet, The Classical Tradition (London: OUP, 1949), p.59

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On 22nd November, we welcomed Hallie Marshall, who gave a paper entitled ‘On the Book Trade in Fifth-Century Athens

Abstract

In the 1950s and 60s there was a brief spate of work on the book trade in Athens, most notably E. G. Turner’s 1951 inaugural lecture at University College London and J. A. Davison’s 1962 articles on literature and literacy in ancient Greece. With the exception of Knox’s 1985 chapter in the Cambridge History of Classical Literature, much of what has been written about texts and their transmission in fifth-century Athens since the 1960s has been much more fragmented in its focus, examining the transmission of a particular corpus, the representation of writing in a particular genre such as tragedy, and interest in books and their circulation has fallen to the side of widespread interest in much broader issues of literacy and its relationship to culture and politics in fifth-century Athens. This paper returns to basic questions about the book trade, exploring what can be said about the production, function, and circulation of books in fifth-century Athens. By coupling the literary and visual evidence for the presence of books and the book trade with the physical practicalities of writing technology and the economic factors that were likely in play, I argue that it is possible to establish a clearer and more detailed picture of the production, circulation, and habits of usage for books in Athens in this period than has previously been allowed. The picture that emerges from this collation of evidence necessitates significant changes in the way we understand texts to have been read and transmitted in the fifth-century and later periods.

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On Friday 1st November, Cara Sheldrake gave a paper entitled ‘History, Identity and Independence: Children’s Time-travel to Roman Britain’

Abstract

British writing has often pondered the question of which areas of history have had the most impact on modern national identity and over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries a dialogue about the influences of the Romans and the Celts developed which then spilled over into modern fiction. By looking at some examples of the way that “natives” and Romans are compared and contrasted in children’s literature this paper hopes to open up ideas about the way that specific qualities and ideals are both associated with specific peoples and are also brought together as exemplars for the modern Briton. I am particularly interested in how authors negotiate and marry the issues of “conquest vs. independence” with a desire to inherit both the Roman influenced intellectual developments of democracy and philosophy and the ideals of creativity and pastoral innocence allegedly embodied in the Celts. By looking at examples that focus on modern children travelling through time this paper aims to investigate how authors have called their reader’s attention to similarities and differences between ancient and contemporary societies and the way that the cultures are evoked within the novels. In this way I hope to demonstrate that Roman Britain was not only a key part of our conception of the major parts of British history but also a useful tool for discussing ideas about Empire and ‘multi-culturalism’.

Link to: Cara’s blog

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Dániel Kiss gave a paper entitled ‘The Neoteric Generation’ on 1st November.

Abstract

This paper aims to reach a better understanding of the writings of the Neoteric poets by locating them within their socio-historical context.

As is well known, the so-called Neoterics (the term goes back to a quip of Cicero’s) were a group of poets writing in Rome around the Fifties BCE. They included Catullus, C. Helvius Cinna, C. Licinius Calvus and Valerius Cato. It has been debated whether they formed a closed literary coterie or a looser group with some shared interests. This paper argues for a related point: that the Neoterics propagated values that found a wide resonance in their generation. That suggests that they were a more diffuse group that was closely rooted in contemporary society.

There only survive meagre fragments of the writings of the Neoterics other than Catullus, but it is clear that alongside learned mythological epyllia they mostly wrote short personal poems. One of the key themes of the latter, and a regular motif in the former, is the appreciation of the pleasures of life, including love, sex and good literature. Remarks by Cicero and Sallust suggest that this hedonistic mindset was shared by many well-to-do young men in Rome in the Sixties and Fifties BCE. It is telling that Epicureanism was notably popular at the time. While no Neoteric is known to have been an adherent of this philosophical school, its influence can be felt in some of the poems of Catullus, and several friends and acquaintances of his followed its teachings or had a strong interest in it. Neoteric poetry not only reflects this social environment, but also appears to enact it in poems about friendship and love affairs, letters in verse, invective, praise and social commentary.

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On Friday 25th October, Kleanthis Mantzouranis spoke about ‘Reconstructing a Cultural Ideal: Aristotle’s Virtue of ‘Greatness of Soul’’

Abstract

Megalopsychia, ‘greatness of soul’, is arguably the most complex and controversial among the virtues of character articulated by Aristotle. The megalopsychos, according to Aristotle’s definition, is one who considers oneself worthy of great things, being worthy of them. Aristotle describes megalopsychia as a sort of ornament (kosmos) of the virtues, yet the virtue itself has often attracted severe criticism by modern scholars.

In this paper, I present Aristotle’s account of megalopsychia as a prime example of his methodology in ethics, by engaging into a reading of megalopsychia in the light of pre-Aristotelian literature. I argue that the raw material from which Aristotle draws in discussing megalopsychia comprises traits and attitudes with a long-standing and prestigious history in Greek ethical thinking. But far from giving a descriptive depiction of a cultural ideal, Aristotle transforms traditional and contemporary views and poses an ethical ideal of his own. Therefore, in order to fully appreciate the nature and scope of this virtue we need to investigate the nexus of views traditionally associated with the concept of ‘greatness of soul’ in Greek culture.

To contextualize Aristotle’s account of megalopsychia I explore the prehistory of the concept drawing on evidence from Homer, archaic poetry, historiography, and oratory. In pre-Aristotelian literary sources, megalopsychia and its cognates signify the loftiness or grandeur of spirit that is characteristic of great and exceptional individuals. It is a multifaceted virtue manifested in a range of disparate attitudes and actions, such as sensitivity to the claims of honour, exemplary generosity, and imperturbability to the changes of fortune. In traditional thinking, wealth and other external goods such as birth, power, and status are a precondition for megalopsychia. Aristotle encapsulates a number of traditionally admirable qualities in his account, but revises the relation between megalopsychia and external prosperity and redefines the standards of greatness: for Aristotle, it is moral goodness, not the possession of external goods that constitutes the only true ground of self-worth.

Thus, Aristotle’s final picture preserves most of the common opinions (τα ἔνδοξα) about megalopsychia, but at the same time transforms traditional views by placing moral virtue at the core of his revised conception of ‘greatness of soul’.

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On Friday 18th October, Alexandra Sofroniew gave a paper entitled ‘The Origin of the Lares: from Votive Statuettes to Household Gods’.

Abstract

This paper will explore the roots of the iconography of the Lares. Taking into account the long Italic tradition of the dedication of small bronze figurines and the huge numbers of terracotta statuettes as offerings and cult statues, I will consider how and why votive practices changed in Roman Italy in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, moving from the rural sanctuary into the domestic sphere. Where are the earliest attestations of the Lares? What did domestic cult look like in this period? I will examine the literary evidence for different types of Lares and where they were worshipped, alongside the archaeological remains of statuettes and shrines (what does the Lares mean to slave or to master, a shrine in the atrium or in the kitchen?) to shed light on how the Lares came to be at the heart of Roman religious practices.

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Our first seminar was on Friday 11th October, when we welcomed Katie Low, who gave a paper about ‘Civil war and autocracy in Annals 1-6: Romans, foreigners and metus hostilis’.

Abstract

I shall show that in Annals 1-6 Tacitus characterises the Julio-Claudian principate as the backdrop for various forms of ‘civil war’. I shall also argue that he repeatedly draws on the Sallustian notion of metus hostilis to explore how civil strife is engendered and to demonstrate the dominance of autocracy in Rome.

I shall begin by substantially developing the suggestion of Elizabeth Keitel and Tony Woodman that Tacitus sees Rome under Tiberius as experiencing a kind of civil war. I shall stress the echoes of past and future conflicts in the Tiberian narrative, especially the German and Pannonian mutinies and Germanicus’ travels in the eastern Mediterranean, and then demonstrate how genuine conflict in the second half of the hexad culminates in Book 6, when Romans turn violently on each other in a manner that recalls Thucydides’ famous description of stasis at Corcyra. This escalation is matched by the increasingly tyrannical nature of Tiberius’ principate.

I shall then consider the implications of this phenomenon of Roman civil war. I shall touch on its possible relevance for Tacitus’ own time, but I shall focus on how Annals 1-6 can be interpreted with reference to the notion of metus hostilis, the idea that fear of external enemies serves to promote internal concord that was popularised by Sallust. I shall suggest that Tacitus’ stress in the Tiberian books on the Romans’ control of their empire and inability to extend it further indicates that Rome is indeed no longer subject to foreign threats, and that this is one means of accounting for Rome’s domestic problems.  I shall finally show how the Germans, Rome’s enemies in the text, are also subject to civil war, but this does not have the same consequences that it has for Rome, and the reasons for this reinforce imperial Rome’s status as an autocratic, imperialist – and troubled – state.

Institute of Classical Studies, University of London