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Final Report Summary - HTDPSH (Historiographical tendencies during the period of Spartan hegemony)

An executive summary:

This project “Historiographical Tendencies During the Period of Spartan Hegemony” (HTDPSH) proposes to study a crucial period of Greek history - the last phase of the Peloponnesian war and the forming of Spartan supremacy (from 412 to 386 B.C.) - through the historians who wrote about it (Thucydides, Xenophon, the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia, Ephorus, Diodorus, Theopompus).

The main focus is, however, on the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia (HO), a text composed of three papyrus fragments (PSI 1304, P. Oxy 842, P. Cairo 26 6 SR 3049/27 1) whose author and date of composition as well as method and aims are unknown.

It has been clear ever since its nineteenth-century discovery that the HO offers valuable and insightful historical material on the early fourth-century, but scholarship has tended to concentrate either on historical cruces – the Boeotian constitution, for instance – or, particularly, on the question of authorship: Cratippus and Theopompus have been the most plausible candidates, but the case for neither has carried the day. It is a great strength of Occhipinti’s work that she has not ignored the authorship question but delayed it to the end of the argument, and devoted her attention more to literary and historiographical questions that have value whoever the author may turn out to be. She is particularly interesting on the relation of the text to Thucydides and to Xenophon, and her analysis here combines close investigation of vocabulary and style (a hallmark too of her earlier work) with an eye for broader matters of narrative technique and interpretation.

A summary description of project context and objectives

As I said, the traditional and common approach followed by those scholars who studied the HO is mostly historical. This current project for its part is unconventional, as it has applied to the HO a plurality of strategies, such as narratology, historical inquiry, papyrological investigation, and literary comparison.

The results of Occhipinti’s research project refer to the following objectives: (a) to clarify structure and narrative devices of the HO, and (b) the relation between the HO and contemporary and previous historians; (c) to propose a revised reading of Diodorus, against the traditional approach (Quellenforschung) which suggests that Diodorus used the HO through Ephorus’ mediation; (d) to clarify the authorship issue of Theramenes papyrus, (e) the HO’s use of Thucydidean patterns, (f) and how ‘moralism’ works in fourth century historians.

In the course of the fellow’s research all the initial planned objectives (1. to re-examine Diodorus and Ephorus’ fragments 2. to examine the style and method of composition of the HO, 3. to identify the relation between the HO and Theopompus, 4. to clarify of which Greek City-States the author of the HO knew the inner political debate, 5. to analyse the HO and the Theramenes papyrus, 6. to understand the extent to which the main topical themes of oratory influenced historiography and whether historiography, for its part, had a role in the formation of political ideas) have been partially redefined and re-shaped in accordance with broader categories and patterns resulting from this actual research, and in coherence with a research activity particularly focused on the HO. This does not mean that there have been deviations from the original research planning (s. Annex I), as the majority of those objectives have been successfully achieved.

A description of the main S&T results/foregrounds

In this section the main results of the fellow’s research activity will be synthesized.

(a) Structure and narrative devices of the HO (October-December 2011)

The examination of the strucure and narrative of the HO has been carried out through a close comparison with the narrative of previous and contemporary historical works (especially those of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon).

The most significant results are the following:

- The HO adopts the methods of composition of both Herodotus’ and Thucydides’ Histories.
- The HO uses, or better re-uses and modifies:
a. Thucydidean paradigms
b. The fifth and fourth-century Athenian political vocabulary (with some implications for the date of composition of the work)
c. Xenophon’s narrative
- The use of Xenophon’s narrative does not exclude the possibility that the HO also resorted to other kinds of sources, such as Persian contemporary reports.

In the first stage of her research activity the researcher was accurately trained through seminars and tutorials. She attended seminars (Ioannou Centre, Oxford), lectures and tutorials (Christ Church, Oxford): seminar on Research Techniques in Classical Languages and Literature led by Prof. T. Reinhardt and Prof. T. J. G. Whitmarsh. Seminar on Sophocles' Philoctetes, given by Professor C. B. R. Pelling and Dr F. Budelmann. Seminar on Herodotus given by Prof. S. Hornblower and Prof. C. B. R. Pelling. Lecture and Tutorial on Papyrology given by Dr. D. Obbink.

(b) Relation between the HO and contemporary and previous historians (January-March 2012)

The HO shares with Xenophon an untraditional attention to land scenarios and land hegemony. Nevertheless in the same period Xenophon and contemporary orators seem to return to the old commonplace view (the supremacy of a sea-power) related to the fifth-century reading of Athenian sea power.

The most significant results are the following:

- HO’s replacement of Thucydidean narrative patterns with new ones that reflect an untraditional interest in land scenarios
- A special attention devoted by the HO to Boeotian and Theban history, and the use of a phrasing mostly paralleled in technical contemporary documents (e.g. inscriptions)
- Historians and orators share audiences, themes, and political catchwords
- Fourth-century histories might have been performed other that read
- Fourth-century historiography shows a certain tendency to simplify realities as well as political vocabulary

The fellow attended the following seminars (Ioannou Centre, Corpus Christi, Oxford): Research Techniques in Classical Languages and Literature, led by Prof. T. Reinhardt and Prof. T. J. G. Whitmarsh; Ancient History Seminar: Language and History, led by Prof. R. C. T. Parker- Prof. A. J. Willi; Corpus Christi Seminar: Freedom and Dependency in the Greek City, led by Dr. J. T. Ma- Mr. W. Mack.

The researcher attended EAS course (English for Academic Studies), Advanced Communication Skills, Language Training Centre, Oxford.

She attended Project Management Seminar, IT Learning Programme, Oxford (14.05.12), and Breakfast at OUCS, IT Learning Programme, Learning Technologies Group, Oxford (10.02.12).

(c) The authorship issue of the Theramenes papyrus (April-September, 2012)

The anonymous writer of the HO might be also the author of the so-called Theramenes papyrus, consisting of two further papyrus groups (P. Mich 5982 and P. Mich 5796b). Some stylistical clues would support this reading. Furthermore, the researcher has made a new proposal for supplementing some missing letters of P. Mich 5982.

The most significant results are the following:

- A revision of the image of the Athenian politician Theramenes. He is charged in one strand of Greek tradition (Xenophon and Lysias) with treachery against his own city (Athens) and his own fellow citizens. The parallel tradition coming from the Theramenes papyrus would suggest a different reading, since it shows that Theramenes’ political room for manoeuvre was quite limited by the difficulties of the time.
- A new supplement for lines 32-32 of P. Mich 5982.
- Stylistical clues suggest that the writer of the HO is the same as the author of Theramenes papyrus.

The scholar attended: Ancient History Research Seminar, led by Prof. R. C. T. Parker (Ioannou Centre, Oxford); Lecture on Greek History 403-336 BC: Documents, led by Dr. C. V. Crowther (Examination Schools-Ioannou Centre, Oxford); Ancient History Seminar ‘Presentism in Ephorus’, Senate House, UCL, London (07.06.12).

(d) Revised reading of Diodorus (October-November 2012)

We are used to hearing from the tradition of Quellenforschung that the Anonymous writer of the HO was used by Diodorus, but only came to him through Ephorus’ mediation. Today scholars are of the opinion that Diodorus might have gained his knowledge of fifth and fourth-century history through several other sources rather than through Ephorus alone, and may have read them directly rather than knowing their material only through Ephorus’ mediation. This is what the researcher has investigated.

The actual results are the following:

- Diodorus relies on his fourth-century sources as regards the use of certain political catchwords
- Diodorus shares with fourth-century history a tendency to simplify political realities and language
- Diodorus applies to his historical work (Bibliotheke) his own patterns as well as a peculiar paradigm in reading the development of empires (rise-fall) that is typical of Roman historical thought.

From 07.11.2013 to 01.12.2013 the scholar was in visit at the Department of Classics of Princeton University.

She attended the one-day workshop on Teaching the Ancient Languages, Senate House, UCL, London (18.09.12).

She attended the Lectures given by Prof. C. B. R. Pelling on Herodotus and the Persian Wars (Examination Schools, Oxford).

(e) The use of Thucydidean patterns (December 2012-June 2013)

The Hellenica Oxyrhynchia’s narrative uses a kind political language which recalls Thucydides and which tells the fifth-century history of Athens and its internal factions.

There is one particular Thucydideanism in the text that draws immediately the attention of the reader, that is, the constant recourse to an explanatory mode that recurrently echoes two words familiar from Thucydides, prophasis and aitia/aition.

The fellow attended the seminar-paper given by Dr Kosta Vlassopoulos, “Epigraphies of Slavery” (Oxford Philological Society, 22.02.13).

The researcher attended the Ancient History Research Seminar given by C. Pelling and P. Stadter: “Plutarch and History”, Oxford April-June 2013.

She attended, moreover, in the Gauthier Liberman Seminar on a proposal for Greek text for the new edition of Thucydides’ Histories by the OUP (Oxford, April-June 2013).

The fellow attended the Seminar Corpus Christi College, Oxford: “The War of Words: Lexica and Atticism in Imperial Greece” (11.03.2013).

She attended the seminar-paper given by T. Duff, “Beginnings and Endings in Plutarch’s Lives”, Oxford Balliol College, 31.05.2013.

(f) ‘Moralism’ in fourth century historians (July-October 2013)

The terminology connected with the language of causation throughout the HO shows the narrator’s approach to questions of blame of peoples or their political actions. Consequently, this gives us good reasons to talk in terms of morality. Morality acts in a similar way as it does in Thucydides, where morality chiefly ‘explains’. Moral issues are interwoven with didacticism, and with the need to provide the reader with ethic lessons and paradigms. Any discussion of ‘morality’ in the HO inevitably invites us to turn also to other contemporary authors who are usually set in a particular intellectual context, where a peculiar concern in instructing the reader in virtues and in giving moral exempla is found: Xenophon (Hellenica), Theopompus, and Ephorus. The comparison has been helpful, as it has allowed the researcher to find patterns of ‘moralism’ that make the HO’s historiographical view considerably different from that of Xenophon, Theopompus, and Ephorus. This could be a good starting-point for a broader re-consideration of the authorship issue of the HO in future and hoped studies.

The researcher attended the Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School (Wolfson College, Oxford, 8-12 July).

The potential impact:

The contents of this research project have been disseminated through several different activities, such as teaching and other academic appointments. The researcher participated as a speaker in different seminars, and conferences in UK as well as in Europe, and produced a considerable number of publications.

Furthermore, in 2012 she mentored a Masters student (Chrysanthos Chrysanthou) of the Faculty of Classics (Oxford) on Plutarch, Polybius, Herodotus, ancient historiography, papyrology, and on writing essays, Masters dissertation, and DPhil proposal. In April-October 2013 the researcher gave tutorials on the subject “The End of the Peloponnesian War to the Death of Philip II of Macedon: 403 to 336 BC” to undergraduate students (Oriel College, Oxford).

As the main output the researcher produced a monograph. The next research stage by the end of this fellowship will be the producing of a final draft of the whole work in order to submit it to the Oxford University Press for publication.

Not only did the seminars and conferences that the researcher participated in allow her to be known in the academic panorama, giving her further career opportunities; but they also made this new research perspective know to a broader academic audience. Furthermore, as shown, the monograph produced proposes a new methodological approach in studying and either the HO or fragmentary historians in general; therefore, after its publication it will be an unprecedented scientific tool and important pioneering work which will encourage further studies on the field.

Informazioni correlate


Stephen Conway, (Associate Director)
Tel.: +44 1865 289800
Fax: +44 1865 289801