June 21, 2014
If one starts thinking about conferences focusing on fragments that will take place this summer, one should not forget the one organised by the Department of Classics from University College London:
Song Regained, Greek Epic and Lyric Fragments from the Archaic to the Imperial Era
2-4 July 2014
For further information see their
In this case the focus is on Greek poetic fragments and interestingly the topic is addressed in a chronological perspective including works from the Archaic period up to Late Antiquity. Three sessions are dedicated to Hellenistic poetry and many of the participants can also be found in the programme from the . The venue is preceded by a were methodological questions are dealt with and participants will be trained in the handling of papyri. It is really a pity that I will not be able to attend the conference!
June 18, 2014
Here is the announcement for the second venue on fragments happening this summer. Fragments, seen as reused textual elements, will be the theme of a panel discussion at the which will be held in Lausanne from the 7th to the 12th July. More information about the panel may be found at , but here a sort summary of the approach the panel will explore:
RETHINKING TEXT REUSE AS DIGITAL CLASSICISTS
DH 2014, Lausanne, 10 July 2014, 09:00-10:30
Amphimax, room 410
Text reuse – the meaningful reiteration of text, usually beyond the simple repetition of common language – is a broad concept that can naturally be understood at different levels and studied in a large variety of contexts. This panel will gather researchers from different projects focussing on text reuse in the field of Digital Classics with the aim of discussing the possible approaches to and understandings of the notion. It will also bring together current efforts and lay the ground for further research.
Aurélien Berra (Université Paris-Ouest & EHESS)
Matteo Romanello (German Archaeological Institute & King’s College London)
Alexandra Trachsel (University of Hamburg)
Monica Berti (University of Leipzig)
Chris Forstall (University at Buffalo, SUNY)
Annette Geßner (University of Leipzig)
Charlotte Tupman (King’s College London)
I am really looking forward, especially after having attended the last week, to taking part in this panel. It will be particularly interesting for me to switch from one domain, Classics, and its approach to fragments to the other, Digital Humanities. Both research fields face the same difficulties when dealing with the fragmentariness of the past, but each has its own tradition and methodology. The challenge consists, therefore, in bringing both fields together.
Last week the conference entitled was held in Warsaw. Its theme was the reconstruction of the past in theory and practice. The papers focused on several aspects of the fragmentariness of our access to the past, especially to the Greco-Roman past and gave fascinating insights into the different fields of Classics. Here is a sort summary:
Themes linked to the more theoretical aspects:
- A first important aspect was the question of how scholars should deal with quotations and their incorporation in later works. The context in which they have been transmitted is different from the original one and there may be a huge gap between the original context and the several and various reuses of the pieces coming from the lost work.
- Secondly much attention was given to the concept of reuse and what the new context of a given piece may tell us about either the way ancient people understood these pieces or about the social context in which these reuses were made. This was illustrated with examples such as the tabulae Iliacae and the ancient collections of poems preserved in papyri. It was, however, also a central element in two further papers: the one on the Hellenistic machines and that which presented an interesting attempt to make sense of a large amount of pottery remains.
- Furthermore, the quoting methods of ancient authors was brought to the fore in several papers. It was illustrated in Cicero’s speeches and in Latin oratory in general, in Plutarch’s Lives, in Polybios, in Ps.-Apollodorus and to a lesser degree even in Stephanus of Byzantium. On the other hand, also the quoted authors were discussed and how a new approach focusing more on the context could help to collect the fragments of their works. Here we had examples from the Latin Atellane comedies and from Dicaearchus. In the paper on the Pythagorean tradition the question was raised whether it was always necessary to reconstruct the past or if the awareness of several readings of a lost past would be more accurate in some cases, especially when we start to think about the evidence we have as several layers of reception.
- Finally, as a result of this focus on the context in which a piece has been preserved, the question was raised whether one can trust the ancient context in which a fragment has come down to us. This new aspect was for instance also addressed by the papers dealing with the ways the quotations are introduced, either by a certain category of verbs which can be analysed or by imputed intentions that a quoting author may mention while he reproduces the thoughts or speeches of the quoted author. Similarly interesting was the idea which came up in the discussion that we should also explore the ways a work disappears in order to get more information about how it could be recovered.
Themes related to more practical aspects of the reconstruction of the past:
- Here we may first mention the brilliant demonstration given by the papyrologists of how they reconstruct on a daily basis the often very tiny pieces and bits preserved on the papyri.
- We had also several papers on the previous collections of fragments, such as Jacoby’s FGriHist, Diels’ collection of Presocratic fragments and Kassel-Austin’s collection of comic playwrights. The choices from these outstanding editors were presented and discussed. The papers showed how controversial they are today, even if they also pointed out how necessary these choices were for the projects themselves at the time when they were undertaken. A large part of the discussion was, however, dedicated to the presentation of new projects and their new ways of approaching the difficult question of collecting fragments.
- Finally we also had an interesting summary of the archaeological project of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures from the Polish Academy of Sciences and this reminded us that fragments can be more than just textual elements.
The three days were extremely inspiring and they will certainly help to develop further research on fragments and their modern understanding. However, I am also please to announce here that this was only one of two venues scheduled for this summer where fragments play an important role. The second is coming soon…
May 10, 2014
Two particularly interesting panels at the :
- Greek and Roman Mythography: see the programme
- Lists and Catalogues: Towards a Poetics of Enumeration: see the programme
March 25, 2014
Very interesting venue:
Telling stories with maps: the geoweb, qualitative GIS and narrative mapping Digital Humanities Hub
It is going to happen at the University of Birmingham, on 30 April 2014. Here the programme:
Vanesa Castán Broto (UCL):
‘Mapping stories, urban energy’
Nela Milic (Goldsmiths):
‘Belgrade log BG:LOG’
Agnieszka Leszczynski (University of Birmingham) and Sarah Elwood (University of Washington):
‘Telling stories with new spatial media’
Ekaterina Yahyaoui Krivenko (NUI Galway):
‘Challenging the Narrative of International Law through GIS: limits and opportunities’
Miranda Anderson & James Loxley (University of Edinburgh):
‘Mapping the Factual and the Counterfactual’
Pietro Liuzzo (University of Heidelberg) and Francesco Mambrini (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut):
‘Storytelling and geographical data in EAGLE’
Ian Gregory, Chris Donaldson (Lancaster University) and Patricia Murrieta-Flores (University of Chester):
‘Exploring Lake District writing using GIS’
Akiyoshi Suzuki (Nagasaki University):
‘A Good Map is Worth a Thousand Words: 3-D Topographic Narrative of Haruki Murakami’
Moacir P. de Sá Pereira (University of Chicago):
‘Robert Jordan’s nearest neighbor: A “For Whom the Bell Tolls” GIS’
Øyvind Eide (University of Passau):
‘Narratives of maps and texts. The role of media differences and stepwise formalisation’
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 !