February 15, 2014
I’ve just learned from a colleague that the word ἀρχαιομελισιδωνοφρυνιχ-
ήρατος is used by Japanese twitter-users to express a great astonishment or surprise. She herself has it from one of her students who is currently taking part in an exchange programme in Japan.
The word comes from Aristophanes. It occurs in line 220 of the Wasps and makes fun of Phrynichus, a tragic poet from the beginning of the 5th century BCE who has written several tragedies. One among them is called Phoenissae and had probably almost the same content as Aeschylus’s Persae, which means the defeat of Xerxes’s army. The piece is alluded to by the adjective Sidonian, as the Phoenician women who constituted the chorus of this play were from Sidon.
The word has therefore to be divided as follows ἀρχαιο-μελι-σιδωνο-φρυνιχ-ήρατος: a dear old honey-sweet (song) from Phrynichus’s Sidonian play (Phoenissae). The context is the following:
At the beginning of the play Bdelycleon speaks with his father Philocleon. He holds him back in their house because Bdelycleon wants to prevent his father from going to the court. Philocleon’s habit to go to the law court as a jury has become a disease which has to be cured according to Bdelycleon. When at the end of their discussion, Bdelycleon announces the arriving of the chorus, who is played by fellow-jurors of Philocleon, he describes them as singing, on their way to the court, these dear old honey-sweet Sidonian songs from Phrynichus.
There is no surprise at all in the Aristophanean lines. It is rather to be understood as a bad habit of them at least in the eyes of Bdelycleon. So, where does the surprise in the Japanese use of the word come from? And why on earth has this old Aristophanean word made its way to the young Japanese twitter accounts? Does anyone has an answer to this very nice example of modern reception of ancient Greek?
December 9, 2013
A few days ago I came across the last volume of where three interesting contributions about fragments can be found.
- Schorn S., Collecting Fragments in the 21th Century: A LECTIO Series of Round Table Discussions, AncSoc 43, 2013, 267
- Berti M., Collecting Quotations by Topic: Degrees of Preservation and Transtextual Relations among Genres, AncSoc 43, 2013, 269-288
- Lenfant D., The Study of Intermediate Authors and its Role in the Interpretation of Historical Fragments, AncSoc 43, 2013, 289-305
As we learn from Schorn’s text, the publications are the result of a first round table about fragments in the context of the research centre from the KU Leuven. The main focus of this research group is a new reflection on critical editions of ancient texts, but the issues dealt with when editing or collecting fragments are also included in the research field.
Monica Berti describes a range of different sorts of fragments which are characterised by their degrees of preservation. She suggests six kinds of quotations:
- gossip quotations, authoritative quotations, quotations as demonstrations, unnamed quotations vs. named quotations, memorable sayings and statements and quotations inside quotations.
One of the interesting aspects of this list is the fact that the quotations are defined by the functions they have for the quoting authors and occur at special places in the narrations or argumentations of the quoting author. This is indeed often neglected when dealing with fragments, as they are often classified by their more or less close renderings of the original text. Both approaches seems extremely interesting and should perhaps be combined in the future.
Dominique Lenfant focuses on the quoting author she calls an “intermediate author” and highlights the selection and adaptation he makes in the process of reuse. She gives then two examples of how the study of the methods and aims of an intermediate author may influence the interpretation of the fragments and could aid to analyse the preserved pieces. She did indeed carefully analyse the quotations from Herodotus in Athenaeus and can conclude that Athenaeus’s choice is not representative of Herodotus’s work and that paraphrases are more common in Athenaeus’s text than verbatim quotations. Also when focusing on the vocabulary used in some of the fragments of Ctesias’s Persica Lenfant can draw interesting conclusions about how much the intermediate author may have introduced his own wordings or thoughts in the quoted text. She concludes her article by suggesting that a large place should be given to the intermediate author in future editions of fragments.
November 5, 2013
I have just received the information from the SAWS project. The project is completed and four groups of texts are now available in new editions at the :
In each of them the quotations and textual reuses have been marked and defined. This was one of the main aims of the project and the result is a convincing demonstration of what is possible. It is a real pleasure to browse through them and they can be viewed in several parallel windows so that comparing them becomes much easier. Also very extant indices exist and for some translations in several modern languages provide helpful tools for the reading and analysing of these texts. It is therefore a huge step forward for the study of this set of texts. Moreover, as the digital tools, documentation and methodology is freely available the results of the research can be used for other projects and texts.
Also with regard to the content, wisdom literature and the transmission of sayings and proverbs, is a fascinating topic and the project has brought it to the fore!
September 18, 2013
After the in Warsaw and the in St-Gall, I am pleased to announce that the will be held in Hamburg from the 22nd to the 28th of September 2013.
The is dedicated to the general theme: Greek Manuscripts, yesterday, today and tomorrow. One day, organised at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, is focusing on the new technologies which are now available for the decipherment and analyses of ancient documents.
Further an extremely interesting exposition on the manuscript collections in northern Germany is accompanying the event. It can be visited until the beginning of December 2013.
I am looking forward to attending both of them!
August 28, 2013
I have just spent a year at King’s College London. It was a wonderful and very productive time! I achieved a lot, met many interesting and helpful people and acquired many new insights for the two aspects of my project I wanted to develop in London during my Marie Curie Fellowship.
As for the monograph on Demetrios of Scepsis, I have completed a first version of it, as the fellowship allowed me to have a year to focus on my research without any other obligations. Of course, as happens often with a book, after the first draft there is still a lot to be done and the final version may not look the same. Nevertheless that what I achieved so far will become a good basis to work on and it has certainly brought me closer to a version I may want people to read.
Further, while working with the at KCL, I learned a lot about possible solutions for the editing of fragments. The project has demonstrated how to express the relationship between several parallel texts and how to present them in a dynamic way. The expertise of the SAWS team was therefore very helpful for my own project and especially during the workshop I was allowed to co-organise I learned a lot from the discussions between the participants who came either from Classics or from the field of Digital Humanities. In particular I would like to mention here the conclusion we reached about the usage of the term ‘fragment’. It is after all not really fitting to describe the works which are transmitted only indirectly through quotations. It would be much better to start speaking about the preserved pieces as ‘reuses’ or ‘reformuations’ of a given content.
Finally, last but certainly not least, I would like to mention the help I got from who worked for a few months on the fragments themselves and created the XML-files for some of them. Her contribution to the project was tremendously helpful and led to substantial progresses. We hope to be able to show soon some examples! I wish her all the best for her new position at the University of Leipzig.
I would also like to thank a great number of persons who offered their help at several stages of my year in London. First, of course, there are all the members of the DDH at KCL. All were very interested in my project, welcomed me enthusiastically and allowed me to share the vivid life of their department. I had a great time working there and leaning more about the field of Digital Humanities. Also in the Department of Classics, I met a lot of interesting students and scholars, especially during the several seminars and lectures I attended there and at the Institute for Classical Studies. It would be a shame not to find a way to keep in touch at least with some of them.
Special thanks go to , and !
August 7, 2013
I have just received, as everybody subscribed to the Liverpool Classicists mailing-list, the message that the digitised the manuscript of Homer’s Iliad named after its owner Charles Townley and containing the so-called T-scholia.
I just had a quick look at the beginning of book 12, where the Trojan rivers are mentioned. This passage is to be found on . I chose this part as we, Simona Stoyanova and myself, were working in the last couples of month on Demetrios’s fragments 29 to 31. These three fragments are in Gaede’s edition actually three clusters of several texts. First there is Strabo 13.1.43-45 [C 602-603] which is a close description of the river system of the Troad. Gaede adds to this first witness several of the scholia to Il. 12.20, most of them coming precisely from the manuscript which has been digitised. Further we find some elements from Hesychius and Eustathius.
Interesting to find fr. 64, a comment on the Simois, as an interlinear scholia here. Gaede’s arrangement puts this fragment in a completely different context. It is linked to the fragments mentioning the homonymy between places in Crete and in the Troad rather than to those describing the river system. It is therefore very helpful that the digitised folio reminds us of the context of its transmission.
Then the layout is also interesting. The comments on the rivers are separated in two blocks designated with two different signs. In the first the Rhesos is the lemma and the comment is about this river only whereas the second contains the remarks about the Caresos, the Rhodios, the Grancios and the Scamander. This has not been taken into account in Gaede’s presentation and we may start thinking about whether this may have some meaning or not. But, anyway, it is a huge progress that we can look at it now in such an easy way!
July 10, 2013
In a little more than 2 weeks the International Congress of Papyrolgy starts in Warsaw. The programme is now out. Please have a look!
Two sections focus on Christian literature preserved on papyri and there is a further on the Acta Alexandrinorum. These are all topics which will be very interesting for one of my other research-projects which is aiming at deciphering and publishing a palimpsest from the Genizah Collection in Geneva. For this, see the contribution I made with my colleague Uri Yiftach-Firanko during the previous congress in Geneva
A Trachsel /U. Yiftach-Firanko, Genizah Ms. 17: Une séquence narrative de coloration juive ou chrétienne provenant du contexte des récits martyrologiques, in P. Schubert (ed.), Actes du 26e Congrès international de papyrologie, Genève, 16-21 août 2010, Genève 2012
June 2, 2013
I guess everybody who decided at some point in his academic life to deal with the new technologies and to explore the options the fields of Digital Humanities may offer for one’s research topic has also given some thoughts to the question of what kind of recognition this choice will bring him/her among his/her fellow-researches.
Often, however, the additional dimensions Digital Humanities introduce in a research field are seen with some suspicions. They seem to drag the researcher away from the main subject, as the new tools provided by the Digital Humanities have to be mastered, up to some point at least. Further, as digital projects tent to be collaborative works, with new work-flows and shared responsibilities for the release of the results, they also challenge a more traditional view of the evaluation of a researcher’s contribution.
Now several institutions and funding bodies are discussing this issue and how they could adapt the present situation for the evaluation of such digital projects. Here is the programme and link to one of those events, held in Paris on the 10th and 11th June 2013.
- Research Conditions and Digital Humanities: What are the Prospects for the Next Generation?
- Link to the
- Link to
May 26, 2013
I have just come back from a workshop organised by Chris Blackwell and Neel Smith from the . They explained us their new tool, the Canonical Text Service, which allows to quote classical texts in a unambigous and machine-readable way which is moreover relying on, but independent from the traditional divisions of a given text. All these features are extremely helpful for the handling with fragments, especially if they are quotations as in the case of Demetrios.
Moreover, next week the second workshop of the will be held. It will be dedicated to fragments in a very broad sense and the presentations will, for instance, deal with quotations and how to render them in a collection of fragments as well as with physical fragments such as inscriptions. We will also look at different fields, such as Latin drama, the transmission of the New Testament, ancient scholarship and the collections of Protagoras’s fragments. Have a look at the !