Attic Inscriptions in UK Collections (AIUK)

Attic Inscriptions in UK Collections (AIUK)
An AHRC-sponsored project (2017/18-2020/21). PI: Stephen Lambert (Cardiff); CIs: Polly Low (Durham), Peter Liddel (Manchester); Robert Pitt (Athens)

Inscriptions on stone are the most abundant category of written document created by the inhabitants of the ancient city of Athens, collectively and individually, that survives to the present day. Of the 20,000+ such inscriptions extant dating from the 7th cent. BC to the 3rd cent. AD, ca. 1% (ca. 220) are in British collections, the large majority (ca. 165) in the British Museum. The inscriptions currently held in UK collections comprise 33 decrees of the citizen Assembly and other bodies, 14 financial accounts and inventories, 3 sacrificial calendars, 2 leases, 11 name lists (mostly ephebic), 38 dedications, 116 funerary monuments and 2 others (including a sundial: Fig. 1). Many of them are decorated with relief sculpture (see, for instance, the reclining Herakles at Brocklesby Park: Fig. 2). They are a resource of great importance for historians, archaeologists and linguists, providing insight into the political history and institutions of the city, Athenian imperialism, the administration of Attic local communities, religious festivals (both of the city and locally), temple administration and finances, naming and prosopography, the development of ancient Greek in Attica, Attic topography, socio-economic structure and funerary commemoration, both public and private.


Fig 1. Sundial made by Phaidros son of Zoilos, ca. 400 AD. BM 1816,0610.186 = IG II2 5, 13627. © The Trustees of the British Museum.


Fig. 2. A reclining Herakles: a dedication of Timaios of Herakleia, imperial period. Brocklesby Inv. No. 28 =  IG II3 4, 1168. © Forschungsarchiv für Antike Plastik. Köln.

We have attempted to visit all the collections across the UK where Athenian inscriptions are currently held  (see Fig. 3); where possible, we have undertaken autopsy of the inscriptions in those collections. We have also explored archival materials pertinent to the histories of their collection and acquisition.   Some of these inscribed objects are well known; others, such as the sarcophagus for Aelius Epikrates Berinikides (Fig. 4) have fallen out of the modern scholarly discussion.


Fig. 3. Current locations of Athenian inscriptions in the UK

no. 5 sarcophagus

Fig. 4. Inscribed Sarcophagus, Broomhall = IG II2 5875. Photograph: P.P. Liddel.

Over the past 150 years, a number of collections  of antiquities, such as those at Marbury Hall (Cheshire), Winton Castle (Scotland),  Lansdowne House (London), Doughty House (London) have been dissolved: their inscriptions have been transferred to the British Museum or other collections. Others have been sold to the Getty Collection in California. Some are in an excellent state of preservation; others are damaged or deteriorating. Accordingly, it is high time to produce a comprehensive study of the inscriptions in UK collections.

The stories behind the acquisition of Athenian inscriptions by British collectors reflect significant legacies of  18th and 19th-century power dynamics. They include high-profile aristocratic collectors such as Elgin and his agent Lusieri and travellers such as Thomas Legh of Lyme Park. There  were collectors with wide-ranging  interests such as the  mineralogist E.D. Clarke and the archaeologist, Lady Ruthven (Fig. 5). Hitherto-overlooked collectors include Benjamin Gott of York and Jeremiah Rawson of Halifax, Lord Aberdeen (Fig. 6) and Dr William MacMichael (Fig. 7).

Lady Ruthven

Fig. 5. Lady Ruthven (1789-1885), excavator of two Attic funerary stelai



Fig. 6. Lord Aberdeen (1784-1860), excavator of the Pnyx


Fig. 7. Dr William MacMichael (1783-1839), collector of antiquities

The starting point for research into Greek inscriptions in UK collections (and other ancient marbles) is still A.D.F. Michaelis’ Ancient Marbles in Great Britain.  The last systematic edition of the Attic inscriptions in the BM, the majority (ca. 90) of them among the ‘marbles’ collected by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, was published in 1874, supplemented in 1916 as The Collection of Ancient Greek Inscriptions in the British Museum. Its first editor was E.L. Hicks (Fig. 8). It is for the most part this edition that is the basis for the museum’s current online catalogue.

NPG Ax39059; Edward Lee Hicks by Walter Stoneman, for  James Russell & Sons

Fig. 8. E.L. Hicks, editor of the  Greek Inscriptions at the British Museum (1874-1916)

Attic Inscriptions are engaging monuments for visitors in the context of the museums and collections where they are located. However, in recent decades these inscriptions have suffered from neglect. The British Museum’s epigraphical galleries are open only by special appointment. Currently, a handful of Attic inscriptions are  on public display in UK collections. Some collections (such as that at Chatsworth: Figs 9, 10) can be viewed by special appointment Other than the British Museum, the best places to see Athenian inscriptions on display are Leeds City Museum, Lyme Park (Fig. 11) the Ashmolean and the Fitzwilliam.

Photo 24-04-2019, 12 25 12

Fig. 9. Statue base for Julia Domna in the Gardens at Chatsworth. Photograph: P.A. Low.


Fig. 10. The ‘Lodge of Fragments’, Chatsworth


Fig. 11. The Library, Lyme Park, disley, Cheshire. NT Image no. 62194.
© National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel.

So far (September 2019) we have published six volumes of scholarly editions of these inscriptions (up-to-date in the light of  new discoveries and modern scholarship) on the open-access Attic Inscriptions Online website: these volumes encompass the inscriptions at Petworth, the British School at Athens,  the Fitzwilliam, the British Museum, Leeds and Lyme Park. We anticipate publishing two further volumes (Chatsworth and Broomhall) later this year. Our work has generated improved readings and new interpretations of specific points: it has emerged that several inscriptions in UK collections corpora have been mis-identified as Attic (usually because of confusion in their narratives of provenance); conversely, at least one Attic inscription has been mis-labelled as non-Athenian.

We offer our assistance to collections in terms of displaying and making their Attic inscriptions accessible (Fig. 12). Our research will feed in to the updating of online databases which include these inscriptions. We aspire  to raise the profile of Athenian inscriptions in UK collections and to promote public engagement with them, for instance by offering public events and developing open-access videos.


Fig. 14. Funerary Monument at the British School at Athens; label with QR code. Photograph: R. Pitt.


A Workshop on the Aldine Edition of the Greek Epistolographers (17 June 2019)

A.D. Morrison, Antonia Sarri

In June the Ancient Letter Collections project was able to host a workshop at the John Rylands Library in Manchester on the Aldine edition of the Greek epistolographers (thanks to the support of the John Rylands Research Institute and the Research Support Fund of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures). The idea for the workshop arose out of the vital role the Aldine plays in the publication history of many ancient letter collections in Greek.

The Aldine edition was published in 1499 in Venice and forms a crucial document for the Letters project, since it is the first printed edition of most of the 36 letter collections that it contains, including some of the most important letter collections in Greek. These collections include not only  likely pseudepigraphic collections such as the letters of philosophers and wise men (e.g. Plato, Anacharsis, Diogenes, Crates, Pythagoras and the Pythagorean women philosophers, Hippocrates, Demosthenes, Apollonius of Tyana et al.), but fictional letter collections such as those of Aelian, Alciphron and Philostratus, and ‘real’ letters by such major figures of late antiquity as Basil, Libanius and the emperor Julian. The text of the Aldine was based on earlier medieval mss, and itself formed the basis for most of the subsequent printed editions of the collections it contains.

We gathered a number of experts from around Europe and the UK to explore the roots of the Aldine edition, its relationship to the Byzantine manuscript epistolary collections, and its legacy and relationship to modern critical editions of the Greek epistolographers. We heard papers on Alciphron and Theophylact Simocatta, Philostratus, Aelian, Basil the Great, Apollonius of Tyana and Phalaris (see the conference poster). It became clear from a number of the papers that the role of the Aldine as the junction between the medieval manuscripts and the later printed publication history of the letters is no mere accident: the Aldine’s enduring influence is also owed in large part to the high quality in its choice of manuscripts (both in primary exemplars and checking manuscripts), in its editorial corrections and interventions and so on. In the case of the letters of Basil and Libanius it is also clear that the Aldine edition involved careful selection from a much larger group of letters, since the Latin letter by Aldus Manutius prefacing the second volume makes it clear that there were many letters of Basil and Libanius (and Gregory) that it was not possible to publish in the Aldine. In the case of the other letter collections, however, the Aldine contains all the letters which they were able to gather.

The participants at the conference also had the opportunity of examining some of the treasures of the John Rylands Library in a ‘collections encounter’ with some early printed editions of Greek letters, including the Aldine itself (as you can see from the photos). We are very grateful to the Special Collections staff of the John Rylands Library for making this possible.

We hope to publish the papers from the workshop in due course: it was a heartening example of pan-European cooperation and collaboration and the project has benefited immeasurably from the expertise and good will of all of those involved!


exhibition 4exhibition 1

Women’s letters in ancient letter collections and the Pythagorean women’s letters

A.D. Morrison & Antonia Sarri

The recent symposium at Manchester on ‘Women in Antiquity’ (10 April) organised by our colleague Alison Sharrock (and including such distinguished speakers as Alison Keith from Toronto and Sharon James from UNC-Chapel Hill) gave us the welcome opportunity to give some further thought to the letters of women as find them in the ancient letter collections we’ve covered in the project so far (all in Greek). (We haven’t looked systematically at the Latin collections yet but as far as the letters of women are concerned the picture looks broadly the same, with Cicero’s Ad Fam. 14 and Ovid’s Heroides standing out.)

In the Greek letter collections we find (remarkably rarely, it must be said) women as addressees, such as Xanthippe, consoled by Aeschines on the death of Socrates in Socrates and the Socratics 21, with frequent reference to the well-being of the children of Socrates and Xanthippe, or the wife of Arinthaeus consoled by Basil in letter 269, or the anonymous women in Philostratus’ erotic letters  (e.g. 60, 33, 32 to Γυναικὶ καπηλίδι, a woman-innkeeper), and as senders, such as the isolated examples in the letters of farmers and fishermen of Alciphron (e.g. the exchange of mother and daughter in 1.11 and 1.12, where the mother warns her daughter that ‘if your father finds out about any of these things, he won’t think it over or pause, but throw you to the sea-creatures as food!’) or the more sustained correspondence visible in the letters of hetairai  of Alciphron book 4 (19 letters, most by hetairai who are historical figures, including Phryne, defended on a charge of impiety by Hypereides). But the nearest thing we find to a discrete collection of women’s letters is that often described as the ‘letters of Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans’ or the ‘Pythagorean letters’. These are, we should say, almost certainly pseudepigraphic (dating from the Hellenistic period or later). The great majority are written in the personae of Pythagorean women philosophers, including Theano, the wife of Pythagoras, and their daughter Myia.

There are two main arrangements of the collection in the mss:

The β tradition transmits 6 letters in the following order:

  • Lysis to Hipparchus, about Pythagoras’ way of life.
  • Melissa to Cleareta, on the dress and behaviour of a virtuous woman.
  • Myia to Phyllis, about the nursing of a new-born child.
  • Theano to Euboule, about the bringing up and training of children. [‘Theano 1’]
  • Theano to Nicostrate, on how a woman should deal with an adulterous husband. [‘Theano 2’]
  • Theano to Callisto, on how to treat household servants. [‘Theano 3’]

The α tradition, on the other hand, transmits 5 of those 6 letters in a different order:

  • Theano to Euboule. [‘Theano 1’]
  • Theano to Nicostrate. [‘Theano 2’]
  • Theano to Callisto. [‘Theano 3’]
  • Melissa to Cleareta.
  • Myia to Phyllis.

There is considerable overlap between these two arrangements, since the group of Theano letters has the same internal order in both, as does the pair Melissa-Myia. The main difference in content is the addition of a letter to Lysis (a male Pythagorean) to the beginning of the collection in the β tradition.

From the perspective of women’s letters, two things emerge from examining the orders as transmitted in the manuscripts. First of all there is a clear focus in the collection on women’s letters, both in terms of content (the subject-matter of the letters concentrating on material traditionally regarded as the province of women, such as the management of the oikos and the care of children) and in the senders and addressees of the letters: in one family of manuscripts the collection is made up solely of women’s letters to other women, and in the other the five women’s letters are prefaced by one letter of one male Pythagorean to another. Secondly, the collection is clearly separate from the letter of Pythagoras to Hieron with which it is often associated in modern discussions and in editions such as Hercher’s Epistolographi Graeci, which presents the collection as that of ‘Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans’ (Pythagorae et Pythagoreorum Epistolae). But the letter of Pythagoras to Hieron, while it is found in epistolaria collecting the work of several epistolographers (such as Harleianus 5610, from the β tradition, or Parisinus gr. 1461, from the α tradition, in both cases between the letters of Phalaris and those of Anacharsis), does not form part of the same collection as the five or six letters listed above. The focus is rather on the letters of the Pythagorean women (with the exception of the Lysis letter in one version of the collection). It is also clear that this collection of Pythagorean women’s letters is separate from the group of four letters of Theano (to a varied group of male and female addressees) which is found in one codex of the sixteenth century (Vaticanus gr. 578): these letters are not transmitted with the main collection of Pythagorean women’s letters and are different in character, being both shorter and more personal (rather than advisory) in tone.

In general it seems fair to conclude that interest in the letters of the Pythagorean women’s letters as an entity in itself already existed in antiquity, since there seems to have been a discrete collection concentrating on the correspondence between Pythagorean women.



Dead Letter Office? Making Sense of Greek Letter Collections

A.D. Morrison

On 6 February I gave my inaugural lecture as Professor of Greek at Manchester. I used the opportunity to think about ancient letter collections (esp. those in Greek!) and what they can tell us about the changes in the discipline of Classics, as well as why they deserve more critical attention than they have sometimes had from classicists. After all, the letter collections of Greco-Roman antiquity dwarf in total size all of ancient drama or epic combined.

Part of the reason for the lack of sustained interest in Greek letter collections, at least, is that (Greek-focused) Classics long concentrated on classical Athens, that is the literature, culture and history of the fifth and fourth centuries BC (alongside important antecedents, of course, such as Homer). Many of the Greek collections which have survived from antiquity have come down to us under the names of famous figures from classical Athens, such as Themistocles, Socrates, Plato, Euripides, Aristotle, Demosthenes and so forth and while these letters were considered authentic, there was considerable interest in them, as a means for accessing the ‘private lives’ of the authors concerned (particularly seductive in the case of figures such as Socrates, who left no writings, or Plato, whose philosophical dialogues are emphatically not in the form of treatises, despite the best efforts of some of his modern interpreters). Hence we find an Aldine edition of the Greek epistolographers published at Venice in 1499, good evidence that the letters were of considerable interest in the Renaissance.

Once, however, scholars began to doubt that the letters were authentic and to suspect that they were instead the work of later writers characterised by Richard Bentley (whose Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris &c. of 1697 is key in casting doubt on the authenticity of many Greek letter collections) as ‘puny sophists’ and ‘little pedants’, interest in them began to wane, with a few notable exceptions (including the Epistles of Plato), which were defended as (perhaps) authentic, at least in part. Now, of course, classicists are much more interested in periods outside the classical age of Athens, such as the Hellenistic period or Second Sophistic, in which the bulk of the Greek collections purporting to be by famous classical figures must have been produced. We’re no longer as inclined as Bentley to see such writers as ‘puny sophists’ in comparison with the giants they impersonate. This has led to much greater interest in the letters themselves as important literary products of those periods (as well as important documents of the reception of classical Athens).

Nevertheless, there remain some obstacles to full appreciation of some of these epistolary collections. One of the most important (and one which the AHRC Ancient Letter Collections Project is attempting to address) is lack of knowledge of (or misapprehensions about) the orders and arrangements of these collections. Several collections, such as those of Alciphron and Philostratus, are sometimes characterised as preserved in the manuscripts in a chaotic situation which makes the study of the collection as a coherent entity impossible. But as we’ve explored in this blog before (Aelian and Philostratus: contrasting manuscript traditions of two Greek fictional letter collections), such disorder can be exaggerated and there is good reason to think that we can establish at least some key aspects of the orders and arrangements of many letter collections, such that we can regard these collections as meaningful entities. The order of the letters in Kayser’s Family 2 of the manuscripts of Philostratus, for instance, is much more likely to be authoritative (it is tempting to say authorial!)

The letters in Family 2 are carefully arranged so as to produce an alternation in addressees between male and female, while also forming clear thematic sequences and juxtapositions, such as the long run of letters involving roses at the beginning, but also pairs of letters on similar themes, such as natural beauty, the poverty of a lover, long letters on being a foreign lover and so on. It is unlikely, I suggest, to be the creation of a later editor who has been lucky enough to stumble upon these patterns and fashioned the collection with this shape: it is much more probable that the letters were all composed with this particular arrangement in mind. But the intricate nature of this arrangement is entirely obscured in Kayser’s edition because he chooses instead to follow the arrangement in Family 1.

It’s clear that editors can make the wrong choice in selecting which order to present in their critical editions of texts such as the letters of Philostratus. In some cases, of course, editors impose an order which they find in no manuscript. But editors can’t really be blamed for this – one needs, in the final analysis, to present the letters in some order, and editors select the order they think is closest to the ancestor of the manuscripts and/or is the most convenient for modern readers. It’s important, however, to note that these editorial choices are necessarily distorting and affect the ways in which readers read and interpret the letters. It’s also clear that presenting the variation in order and arrangement that one often finds in the manuscripts of letter collections is a real challenge and one might say a blind spot for many critical editions. Discussion of different orders tends to take place only in prefaces to critical editions, if at all, and even if an editor is careful to provide an indication of the alternative position of a given letter by giving a number in brackets, that can’t really give the reader a sense of the overall effect of a differing order or arrangement. Nevertheless, the difficulty of representing these basic features of manuscripts in critical editions reminds us of the distance between the critical editions we use today to read not just letters but all ancient Greek and Latin texts and the manuscripts in which they were read by earlier generations of readers (and by extension the differences between our OCTs and Teubners and the ways in which ancient readers read these texts). Critics (not only classicists) have become increasingly interested in the paratextual material which accompanies texts – covers, titles, marginalia, blurbs, footnotes, etc. and the effect these have on interpretation. We need also to factor in the character of our critical editions and what they miss. For many ancient letter collections (and other Greek and Latin texts) one thing which is missed is the order and arrangements in which the letters were read by generations of readers.

The Single Life in the Roman and Later Roman World

Christian Laes


“What a great topic” – “I had never ever thought about it” – “There should be a book about this” –

“Let’s discuss this further, later on”. Such were almost invariably the reactions of colleagues when, during a break at a conference or in more informal meetings, I brought up my interest for the theme of single people (sometimes called ‘singletons’) and the single life in the ancient world.

So, what do you when you feel you have a good and innovative idea?

First, try to define it properly, and to find out which research questions you would really like to address. For singleness, this is not that easy. In the terminology of present-day languages the terms used to denote ‘a single person’ point to at least three different aspects: the legal fact of not being married or not being in an exclusive relationship with another person; living alone and the possible economic or emotional consequences of this loneliness; a happy-go-lucky lifestyle mostly associated with youth. It seemed like a good start to look for these aspects in the world of Antiquity, and to see how and whether such conditions were connoted under the heading of a terminology that is somewhat similar to our singleness.

Second, try to bring together as many colleagues as possible who are passionate about the new topic and – in this case – knowledgeable about family history. You obviously need a nice place to get together, to deliver presentations and to exchange thoughts and ideas. Finding such a spot was not that difficult: the Academia Belgica in Rome was the best venue we could dream of.

Third, one needs the inevitable money and funding. The History Department of the University of Antwerp generously provided funding, as did the Roman Society Research Centre (Universities of Ghent and Brussels). Above all, I was fortunate that Sabine Huebner, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Basel, shared the same interests. Without generous Swiss funding, the conference could not have taken place. At the same time, we were kindly supported by the Istituto Svizzero di Roma, the Institutum Romanum Finlandiae and the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome.

The conference was held from 28 to 30 May 2015, and it stuck in the in the minds of its participants as a most interesting event, full of engaging exchange and scholarly discussions. But after this, (academic) life goes on. Getting ready a volume out of the conference meant several years of hard work, patience, readers’ reports, revisions, proofreading. But, it was very much worth the effort. Readers will be treated by a first set of chapters that take fully into account the demographic, archaeological and socioeconomic conditions of singleness. Then follows a section on the Roman world: Augustan marriage legislation, Cicero, poets as Virgil and Catullus, or the image of procuresses in Augustan literature. Judaism is an integral part of the Roman Empire, hence contributions on Nazarite vows and celibacy, as well as the famous and intriguing question on Jesus being single. In late antique Christianity, singleness became an ideal as is witnessed in the chapters of the following section. Here, we encounter literary case studies on writers as Libanius and St. Augustine; the gendered aspect with an inquiry of virgins and their heavenly family; an exploration of early Byzantine literature – but also a minute epigraphical analysis of the inscriptions from Rome, and a papyrological chapter on widows and divorcées in the Coptic record. The volume ends with some highly needed comparative voices: celibacy and sexual abstinence in Early Islam, not being married in fifteenth and sixteenth century Flemish towns, and singleness in the Libri Animarum of nineteenth century Italy.

The last phase of proofreading was partly spent at my new workplace in the University of Manchester. And Fortuna has it that the book will appear almost at the same moment of the introduction of a brand new course on Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds at the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology. I can only hope that the volume will testify of the strong and vibrant research culture of our department. After all, in the words of late Beryl Rawson (1933-2010), who stood at the front of Roman Family studies: “Classics might be called the originally ‘multidisciplinary’ subject (…) New disciplines have evolved, and Classics has embraced some of those – Sociology, Anthropology, and, more recently, Demography (…) It is important, however, that we make the effort to engage with new developments. If we do not, there are two-way consequences: our own studies are deprived of possibly helpful and stimulating new insights, and other fields do not get input from us which would enhance their understanding and would help Classics be an integral part of the modern intellectual world”.

Empedocles in Dublin


Salvator Rosa, ‘The Death of Empedocles’, c. 1665 – 1670, Oil on canvas, 135 x 99 cm, Private collection (Helen Langdon, Salvator Rosa – Dulwich Picture Gallery, London 2010, p. 213). According to Helen Langdon, the real theme of the work is ‘man’s desire to lose himself in the immensity and violence of natural forces’. [ Public domain image from ]

Jenny Bryan


At the end of October 2018, I followed in to the footsteps of two of my colleagues, Alison Sharrock and Peter Liddel, in travelling to Trinity College Dublin to give the 2018 W. B. Stanford Memorial Lectures. The Stanford Lectures were established in honour of Professor William Bedel Stanford who was Regius Professor of Greek at Trinity College between 1940 and 1980 and it was a privilege to be invited. I used this as an opportunity to try out, across three lectures, some of the material I have been working on for my ongoing project on the early Greek philosopher Empedocles. Empedocles has long been one of my favourite philosophers and I am particularly interested in the relationship between the form and content of his philosophical teachings. Like his predecessors, Xenophanes and Parmenides, Empedocles’ philosophy is presented in hexameter verse of which only parts survive, almost exclusively as quotations in later authors. The primary focus of my project is on the role and nature of knowledge, wisdom and perception in Empedocles’ poem. This topic demands a consideration not only of what he has to say about how perception works or what kind of knowledge we can achieve, but also of the kind of knowledge and authority Empedocles himself claims in communicating his teachings in verse.

My first lecture sought to get to grips with the implications of the various labels we use to discuss both Empedocles and other early Greek philosophers and their teachings: ‘poet’, ‘philosopher’, ‘poet-philosopher’, ‘science’, ‘philosophy’, ‘religion’ etc. My worry is that, in applying such terms, we are categorizing Empedocles’ thought in ways that are not always justifiable on the basis of the evidence. Such labels encourage us to construct and impose illegitimate distinctions in our discussions of the evidence. However, it is also fair to say that it is almost impossible to talk about early Greek thinkers without using such labels and distinctions. So what are we to do? My suggestion is that we can make a useful start from Empedocles’ claims of authority. He makes various such claims in different ways which touch on and combine many of the aspects of his thought to which we are likely to apply labels. In asserting the value and truth of his teachings, he sometimes appeals to the Muse, sometimes to empirical evidence and sometimes even to his own divinity. We need to think about the implications of these claims and their relationship to one another. In doing so, we may find a more robust and inclusive context in which to consider his teachings as a whole.

My second lecture focused on fragment B23, in which Empedocles appears to liken the creation of the world to the creation of painted images. Just as painters mix a limited number of pigments to produce a whole range of images, so the cosmic ‘forces’ of Love and Strife mix together four physical principles (earth, aether, fire and water) to produce everything in the cosmos. Scholars generally focus on what this fragment implies about the physical process of creation, asking whether it means that Love and Strife cooperate and what sort of mixture or blending of physical principles the analogy might imply. For me, what is interesting is that Empedocles uses an everyday example of creation to explain cosmic processes. In this way, he is pointing to our experience to ratify his teachings. In the final lines of the fragment, however, he insists on the authority of his teaching on the basis that he is divine (‘know these things clearly, having heard the story from a god’). The question here is what sense we can make of the relation between an appeal to the authority of experience (which seems to ask to be judged on its own terms) and an appeal to divine authority (which seems to be independent of the evidence)

My final lecture discussed B129, a fragment that describes ‘a man of exceptional knowledge’, someone who has achieved a great ‘wealth’ of knowledge. Scholars have often followed ancient commentators in assuming this fragment to be about Pythagoras, particularly because of what appears to be a reference to remembering past lives in the final lines. In fact, however, the fragment does not name Pythagoras, nor does it actually state that the wise man is wise as a result of remembering the experience of past lives. I am particularly interested in the possibility and implications of reading this fragment as suggesting that access to the experience of multiple lives is a consequence of wisdom, rather than its cause.

I am immensely grateful to the staff and students of TCD for their enormously kind invitation to give the Stanford lectures, for their hospitality and, especially, for the stimulating and helpful discussions they offered for each of my lectures. I have plenty of work to do in developing these lectures further and expanding my discussion, but it was a privilege to be able to take some first steps with the help of such a receptive audience.

Letters of a Roman Emperor

A.D. Morrison, Antonia Sarri

One of the most interesting Greek letter collections surviving from antiquity is that of the Roman Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus (331–63 C.E.), usually known as ‘Julian the Apostate’, because of his conversion to paganism, despite being brought up a Christian. In fact, however, ‘collection’ is somewhat misleading, since the manuscripts transmit smaller collections of Julian’s letters, often (partly) overlapping, in various combinations. The largest ms collection is transmitted by Laurentianus pl. 58.16 (15th c.), which contains 43 letters, but the total number of letters preserved across the different collections is 85.

Standardly this larger number of letters is collected into a single group and read as one collection (though this does not reflect the way in which the letters are preserved in the mss). The number of letters so collected has grown over time, as more ms groups were discovered: the editio princeps (the Aldine, 1499) included only 48 aggregated letters, Hercher’s (1873) edition 78 letters, Hertlein’s (1875) edition 79 letters, Wright’s (1923) edition 85 letters. The extraordinary number of 207 letters in Bidez-Cumont’s edition (1922) is formed by including letters extracted from other sources, such as Byzantine historians and the Suda.

If one turns to the ms groups of letters one can see that there remains a lot of work to be done to untangle the ordering principles visible in those groups, which are obscured in modern editions, since these generally aggregate the distinct ms collections and re-order them chronologically (as in Bidez-Cumont and Wright, for instance). The two main ms groups are those headed by Vossianus 77 (12th c.) and Ambrosianus B 4 sup. (10th c.), respectively. There seems to be clear evidence of thematic arrangement in these groups: in Vossianus 77, the first group of letters (26, 7, 50, 6, 9, 23; we employ the numbering of Hertlein 1875, since it is closest to the orders in the mss) concern the administration of Egypt, while there is another group of letters (14-19), in which literary or philosophical themes are prominent and which praise the rhetorical ability of the addressee.

In the case of Ambrosianus B 4 sup. we seem to be dealing with a selection of letters representative of his life and beliefs. The two first letters (75, 3) are pairs of letters, 75 to Basil with the latter’s reply and 3 to Libanius’ with the latter’s reply. The next letter (14) is also to Libanius, referring to a speech that Libanius has sent to Julian and may have been been placed there on purpose, since in the previous letter (3) Julian asked Libanius to send him a discourse. In 64 and 13 Julian’s pagan religious beliefs are displayed. Letters 65, 178 and 157 seem to be extracts from historians or excerpts from longer Julian’s letters brought together.