PATTERNS OF THE PAST

ed. by Alfonso Moreno and Rosalind Thomas
OUP (2014) h/b  267pp  £55.00  (ISBN 9780199668885)

In 2004, when Oswyn Murray retired as Ancient History Tutor at Balliol, a conference was held in his honour and most of the papers in this volume were presented then. Most have been revised and others have been added to create a heterogenic collection which reflects the breadth of Murray’s scholarship and publications. The appendix contains a remarkable list of 156 published books, articles and reviews, preceded by the honorand’s own contribution reflecting on ‘the pleasure of intellectual friendship’, which is characteristically thoughtful and sympathetic.
The subtitle of the volume is Epitēdeumata in the Greek Tradition which allows the contributors a wide choice of subjects to illustrate the different kinds of ‘ways of life’ or ‘everyday habits’ covered by this. It incorporates religion and myth, politics, sexuality, historiography and more. The stimulating essays range widely—explorations of practices, traditions and customs of the ancient Greeks and their neighbours.

There are ten essays, excluding the editors’ introduction which defines and exemplifies the Epitēdeumata of the subtitle. They cover aspects of the epic tradition (such as d’Agostino on two fifth-century statues of the Trojan Horse, Ewen Bowie on poetic performance, focused on Sacadas of Argos), on historical topics (Lissarrague on battle trophies and Luraghi on Archaic tyranny), and on historiography (both the editors—Moreno on Theopompus, Thomas on polis histories). Schmitt Pantel explores the Epitēdeumata of fifth-century Athenian politicians, with six familiar democratic figures and Plutarch at the heart of her study; Davidson’s contribution (‘Past it at Thirty’) deals with the fame and glory attached to the stadion race at Olympia, together with the importance of the foundation myths of the festival; Kosmin’s essay deals with the Borsippa Cylinder from Seleucid Babylonia and concludes with reflections on its importance both to the political and religious history of the empire. The last essay, written for this book and not for the conference (that paper has already been published elsewhere), is by Hornblower and explores two stories from Herodotus’ narrative after the battle of Marathon (6. 125 – 31), including the notorious Hippokleides, who ‘danced away his marriage’; he is concerned to explain the connection between Agariste’s suitors and the lists of Olympic victors, without covering all the details which should appear in his forthcoming ‘green and yellow’ commentary of Herodotus book 6 (written with Pelling). He convinced me that the suitors could indeed be based on real people, involved in an actual event.

The editors have done an excellent job; though there are inconsistencies in the presentation of the Greek (text, transliteration, translation) and a few errata such as a footnote to a book not listed in the References (p.210 n. 54) and the sniggering omission of the l in public on p. 214. The imprecision and ambivalence of subsequent translations of Epitēdeumata (Latin—mores; French—moeurs; English—habits) allow the contributors a free hand to explore a wide variety of themes, without a particular methodology or aim imposed by the editors.
Stephen Chambers—Balliol

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