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Reviewed by:
  • Epigraphy and the Greek Historian
  • Ephraim Lytle (bio)
Craig Cooper , editor. Epigraphy and the Greek Historian. University of Toronto Press. 2008. 224. $77.00.

This collection is a traditional Festschrift, its content reflecting the interests of its eight contributors and, indirectly, the expertise of its deserving honouree, Phillip Harding. The first five essays are grouped together under the rubric 'Athens.' David Mirhady's contribution concentrates primarily on a few points of legal procedure in Draco's homicide law (attested in IG I3 104), arguing especially that one particular clause records not the punishment of exile but the process whereby the accused became a legal defendant. The contribution by the volume's editor, Craig Cooper, suggests that epigraphic evidence for Athenian relations with Ceos in 360s BC can offer additional context for the attacks on Aristophon attested in Hypereides' fragments. David Whitehead argues that a decree honouring a foreigner for ransoming Athenians (IG II2 283) refers not to Athenians captured in a military operation in Sicily in 360s BC, perhaps attested in Isaeus 6.1, but to equally unfortunate victims of piracy at least two decades later. Kathryn Simonsen analyzes IG II2 1622, a fragmentary account from the late 340s BC recording the collection over a four-year period of debts from naval officials. This otherwise unattested collection was an involved process targeting debts sometimes three decades old, and Simonsen suggests it should be tied to a general attempt to reform the Athenian navy after the Peace of Philocrates. Bruce Robertson's essay concludes the first section by examining 146 slave names recorded in an Athenian naval list probably inscribed in the early fourth century BC (IG I3 1032). He compares the naming patterns of these slaves with those of citizens, [End Page 278] with the results suggesting some interesting ideological distinctions between the two statuses at Athens.

The final three essays are collected in an ambitiously titled section 'Athens from the Outside: The Wider Greek World.' Frances Pownall argues that the fragments of Theopompus display a critical awareness of the Athenians' use of inscriptions in distorting history and promoting their own imperialist aims. Gordon Shrimpton offers a survey of the cultural accomplishments of Ionian Greeks, which he suggests are obscured by Athenian imperial propaganda as well as a corresponding modern Athenocentrism. Finally, Sheila Ager examines an interesting body of epigraphic material from the island of Thera, concentrating chiefly on finding clues about the island's otherwise poorly attested political history.

Overall this volume is a fitting tribute to a respected scholar of Athenian political history, one who with his research and teaching has done perhaps as much as anyone else to advance the study of Greek history in Canada, as Cooper notes in his introduction. The essays are well edited and in general they are thoroughly researched and reasonably argued. As with most such collections, some of the essays arrive at conclusions that are either not particularly groundbreaking or have been presented already in a different form in other venues. These are more than balanced out by contributions that offer novel insight. My only real complaint is that while most but not all of the contributions pay particular attention to epigraphic texts, these are primarily Athenian laws and decrees, and the volume's title, Epigraphy and the Greek Historian, promises a good deal more than that. In my view, it implies an extended exploration of the relationships between the study of ancient inscribed material and the larger field of Greek history. At the very least it suggests essays employing innovative epigraphic and historical approaches. In fact, these essays for the most part explore epigraphic evidence in a very traditional fashion and in service to traditional modes of historical enquiry. Despite an introduction that attempts to relate each of the essays to general features of or developments within the study of Greek epigraphy, this volume is likely to be of concern only to those scholars interested in the particular research questions addressed by particular essays.

Ephraim Lytle

Ephraim Lytle, Department of Classics, University of Toronto



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pp. 278-279
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