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OpenEdition Books

Studies in Greek epigraphy and history in honor of Stefen V. Tracy

Gary Reger
Francis X. Ryan
Timothy Francis Winters


Gary Reger, Francis X. Ryan et Timothy F. Winters

Texte intégral

1For four decades, as Christian Habicht shows in his paper on Stephen V. Tracy as an epigraphist, the honoree of this collection of papers has worked tirelessly to advance our understanding of the Greek world, especially Athens in the Hellenistic period, through his patient and painstaking work on the inscriptions the Greeks left behind. As a teacher, whose style shines through Timothy Winters’ appreciation (see also Paul Iverson’s comments in Chapter 20), he has trained generations of graduate students in the intricacies of the field and brought his extensive knowledge and experience to undergraduates. In the last few years, as Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, he has mentored students, raised money, grappled with building plans and administrative nightmares, all out of dedication to the institution and the centrality of the study of ancient Greece to American academic life.

2In the scholarly world Tracy is best known for proving that individual hands could be identified in inscriptions, and that attributions of inscriptions to a particular “cutter” could help date and contextualize the document concerned. He pursued this idea, which had occurred to him already when he was in graduate school, tenaciously, despite predictions by senior scholars that such identifications would prove impossible. He developed the methodology to detect subtle differences in styles of lettering and to sort inscriptions according to those criteria; this work, a model of patience, issued in the first identification of a cutter in his dissertation submitted in 1968 and published as his first monograph in 1975.

3This work revolutionized our understanding of the ways inscriptions were produced – by showing, among other things, that individual cutters might have very long careers, and that two cutters with quite different styles might be working simultaneously. In papers and monographs that followed, particularly the three fundamental books published with the University of California Press, he extended his approach to hundreds of inscriptions and imposed an order and logic on their categorization that had not before existed. No student of Athens in the Hellenistic period, where thanks to the lack of surviving literary accounts inscriptions take first place as our source, can work without Tracy's books propped open on the desk.

4Tracy has always seen that epigraphy is best taken not as an end in itself but as an optic through which we gain access to pictures, however blurry, of the past. That is to say – as Habicht emphasizes – he has always been alive to the contributions of his work to history. It is easy to see the large-scale impact of his work. Athenian chronology in the Hellenistic period is a notorious rat’s nest of archons named but without a year, important texts missing the dating formulae, complicated changes in the calendar systems. The order that his work has brought to much of this mess has led to the assignment of previously floating archons to specific years, and otherwise undated inscriptions to tight ranges. The high political events of Athenian public life – no less dramatic after Chaironeia than before – have come into sharper focus, and the history we can write about Hellenistic Athens has gained immeasurably in detail, accuracy, and subtlety. At the same time, Tracy has always had a keen appreciation for the contribution of less appealing texts to the unraveling of the past. Accounts, lists of Olympic victors, and other categories of “mundane” inscription have not escaped his keen attention, and he has wrung from them their stories as well.

5There is also another way, less remarked on, perhaps, in which Tracy’s work has contributed to history. At the end of the day history happens because people act. In the ancient Greek world, those actors known to us are so often a Demosthenes or Lykourgos, men who manipulated the levers of power and wealth. In recovering the work of the masons who carved the inscriptions, men whose names are sometimes known now to us but remain mostly anonymous, Tracy has shed some light on the patient employees of the democracy, who, squatting in their workshops, transferred the decrees, laws, lists, accounts, and other public documents from perishable papyrus to permanent stone. A Demetrios of Phaleron may have made the history, but it was the masons who transmitted it to us. It is only fair that these ordinary working stiffs, on whom so much of our serious academic work depends, receive now some belated honor; it was Tracy’s efforts that brought them into an imperfect light.

6To commemorate Tracy’s work the three editors of this volume invited a group of outstanding scholars to contribute each an article. The brief was simple: write about epigraphy. Despite the loose direction, the papers that came in fell rather neatly into sets reflecting both Tracy’s influence and his interests. First, several contributors – Voula N. Bardani (Chapter 1), Nora Dimitrova and Kevin Clinton (Chapter 2), Andronike Makres (Chapter 3), Angelos P. Matthaiou (Chapter 4), Erkki Sironen (Chapter 5), all presenting documents from Athens or Attica, and Gary Reger (Chapter 6), with a new text from Choma in Lykia (two new inscriptions are also included in Yannis Tziphopoulos’ contribution in Chapter 28) – publish new inscriptions. The texts include new decrees, new joins or fragments of known inscriptions, a bi-lingual votive, a contribution to the identification of epigraphical hands, Christian texts, and a statue base. All also contribute, in one way or another, to our understanding of Greek history in the broadest sense.

7Second, another group of contributors have used epigraphic evidence to address a wide variety of historical problems – in the best Tracy tradition. These papers fall broadly into two sets: those dealing with Athens and those treating matters in the wider Greek world.

8Questions of more or less purely political history stand at the forefront in Stephen Lambert’s contribution (Chapter 11), which takes Tracy’s observations in Athenian Democracy in Transition (Tracy 1995) about the paucity of treaties in the years between Chaironeia and the Lamian War as occasion to re-examine the abundant treaties of the decades after 350 BC; he argues that the shift from treaties to honorary decrees for foreigners represents a genuine adjustment in Athenian foreign policy in light of the restricted position the city found itself in after 338 BC. Simone Follet (Chapter 12) finds in three instances of damnatio memoriae following the crisis of the Mithradatic War of 88/7 BC evidence of continuing political turbulence and simmering animosity in Athens as much as twenty years after the event – a nice illustration of the eloquence of even the tiniest details of the epigraphic record, read with care and finesse.

9Politics, religion, and the intersection of the two spheres – hardly separable in the Athenian world, of course – occupy a number of contributions. Julia Shear (Chapter 10) addresses a serious problem: why the Athenians cancelled the Panathenaic festival in 286 BC. She argues that this cancellation should be connected with the recent recovery of the city from Demetrios Poliorketes – a linkage between public religious practice and political life that has been at the center of some of Tracy’s work as well. Kent J. Rigsby (Chapter 13) takes some dedications by Athenian archons at “Apollo’s Cave” and shows how they can be used to explore questions of Romanization in the Athenian elite. Matters of social history receive their attention as Marietta Horster (Chapter 14) reviews the role of women in the public religious sphere at Athens, where some recent scholarship has located relative autonomy for women, and reminds us of the continuing determinant role of men in this as in every other aspect of polis life – while also teasing out the places where women’s position did enjoy, in the religious sphere, a certain freedom of self-expression.

10The interconnections between epigraphy and the study of art history emerge in Catherine M. Keesling’s examination (Chapter 15) of the evidence for Demetrios of Alopeke, a sculptor attested through some signatures on statue bases. He turns out to have been an important figure in the transformation from high to late Classical style.

11In a contribution to our understanding of the evolution of lettering in fifth-century Athenian inscriptions, Timothy F. Winters (Chapter 16) looks at a poorly-inscribed gravestone with a strange mix of lettering, attributable perhaps to an out-of-practice mason or an older and inexperienced practitioner; Winters’ study reminds us of the difficulties presented by private epigraphy.

12The second set of epigraphic and historical studies reaches outside of Athens. The section begins with work on a place near and dear to the hearts of many Attic epigraphists. In her contribution Elizabeth Kosmetatou (Chapter 17) finds in the lapidary records of the Delian Artemision recording dedications of Demetrios Poliorketes and Stratonike evidence of Demetrios’ efforts, after the defeat at Ipsos in 301 BC, to shore up an increasingly shaky political position in the Aegean world. Kosmetatou’s teasing out of important historical data from the (apparently) slimmest epigraphical hints stands squarely in Tracy’s world. Miltiades Hatzopoulos (Chapter 18) returns to Athens, at least in terms of evidence, by offering solutions to the identification of several Thrakian toponyms in the Athenian Tribute Lists. In so doing, Hatzopoulos contributes to a larger discussion of the reach of fifth-century Athenian imperialism beyond the fringe of the sea; Athenian authority penetrated farther into the interior of the Thrakian world than had previously been thought.

13In further studies devoted to the political landscape of the Hellenistic world, Roland Oetjen (Chapter 19) argues that Philip V undertook a project to settle soldiers as cleruchs at various points in Greece, notably in Thessaly (the main object of Oetjen’s study), but had to grapple with the delicate relations between poleis and the monarchy which did not encumber Philip’s contemporaries elsewhere in the Hellenistic world. M. D. Dixon’s contribution (Chapter 21) sheds new light on the elite of Troizen in the later Hellenistic period and offers a date and context for the construction of some fortifications, and Paul Iverson (Chapter 20) restores an inscription from Thespiai long known by applying techniques he had learned from Tracy in an advanced graduate course – a notable example of the impact of Tracy’s role as a teacher on the field of Greek epigraphy.

14Moving again to the intersection of political and social life (including the role of institutions), Christian Habicht (Chapter 25) traces the appeal of Kyzikos in Asia Minor to various oracles – surprisingly, relatively rarely to Apollo at Didyma, despite the daughter-city–mother-city relationship between Kyzikos and Miletos. At the same time, a relationship of isopoliteia struck between the two poleis remained active 600 years later: a striking reminder of the continuities in institutional life that our epigraphic evidence sometimes reveals. Fritz Graf (Chapter 24) uses a set of three inscriptions from Erythrai in Asia Minor to illuminate the cult practices surrounding the Corybants, a group of minor deities best approached, as Graf shows, through the public epigraphic evidence – which tells us much about practice but, Graf pointedly reminds us, little about the “living reality” of the religious experience. Reaching back into the pre-classical period, Yannis Lolos (Chapter 22) studies a text from Sikyon which bears the earliest attestation of the word hestiatorion. But this text also opens a window onto the social organization and the practice of writing in the Sikyonian countryside at an early date. Robert Wagman (Chapter 26) looks at an inscription from Pharsala to figure out some details of the House of the Nymphs to which it refers. In a far-ranging study, F. X. Ryan (Chapter 27) brings order and understanding to the complexities of the Rhodian calendars, illuminating the relationships between the conciliar, eponymous, and mastroic calendars.

15In his close study of dialect and literacy on Athenian vases, Henry R. Immerwahr (Chapter 7) returns very much to the spirit of Tracy’s work on hands. Georg Petzl (Chapter 23) uses close observation of the lettering and ornamentation of a gravestone from northeast Lydia to determine its origin. Yannis Z. Tzifopoulos (Chapter 28) republishes eight inscriptions from Sybritos on Krete and two newly discovered but very incomplete texts. These inscriptions contribute to our understanding of a small polis in the Kretan world.

16These multifarious contributions are linked by matter and method – both of which we hope will retain Stephen Tracy’s interest. They represent a small return of thanks for the years of consistently careful and important work that he has made to the field of Greek epigraphy over the course of forty years of publication (see “The Scholarly Work of Stephen. V. Tracy”) – a career that shows no signs of letting up.

17It would be remiss, however, to end this introduction to a volume celebrating Tracy’s work without at least a confession of omission. The reader of Tracy’s publications will have noticed that we have failed to include any papers honoring his abiding non-epigraphic interest in poetry: from the grand epic represented by the book The Story of the Odyssey, published, remarkably, in the very same year as the first of his three monumental books on Attic hands, to the lyrics of Catullus. It is the rare epigraphist in whom lurks also the soul of a poet; we leave the commemoration of that aspect of Steve to others, more competent than ourselves. It is enough that we can say with this volume our thanks for the one area of his work that has touched both us and every contributor to this volume.

© Ausonius Éditions, 2010

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