This chapter offers a historical overview of Greek and Roman agronomy as a literary phenomenon, touching on major sources such as Hesiod, Xenophon, Cato, and Columella together with numerous minor authors. It tracks the ever-expanding boundaries of what was considered agronomy during the Classical era, plus trends towards specialization and encyclopedism in writers from Hellenistic and Roman times. The most common feature of this heterogeneous body of writings is a concern to communicate what the authors believe to be best practices in agriculture—which may not always be the same as standard or widespread practices. Interest in agricultural paradoxography is shown to be an enduring and essential feature of the genre. Agronomists did not attempt to take into account the methods of the ancient natural sciences, save for astronomy, which was productively assimilated by the authors of farmers’ calendars.
The burgeoning science of human nature recognized the implications for human identity. In the later fifth or early fourth centuries BCE philosophers started to develop a systematically dualistic account of human beings as composites of body and soul. In this view, the body is something that embeds the person in a particular community, and the soul is the true ‘self’, the locus of desires and beliefs which those communities could shape. This article suggests that personal identity is for these thinkers social identity, and it is no coincidence that Plato's utopian designs for a polis in the Republic are largely structured around rethinking the educational curriculum, or, conversely, that Protagoras assigns the central role in moral education to the city as a whole.
This chapter examines the relationship between the Aristotelian philosophers (30 bce to 200 ce) and the so-called Second Sophistic. It discusses how the study of Aristotle’s works experienced a revival, leading to a new text-based approach to his corpus. The evidence for the main protagonists of those interested in Aristotle is fragmentary. Some were leading thinkers of the school (Andronicus of Rhodes), others eclectic readers of Aristotle (Xenarchus of Seleucia, Galen of Pergamum). The views of both styles of scholar on Aristotle arose mostly in a didactic context, clarifying the texts to students. Thus philosophers began to engage in scholarly commentary as a standard way to practice philosophy. This trend quickly culminated in the running commentary, the prime example of which is the work of Alexander of Aphrodisias (ca. 200 ce), who also had connections to the imperial court.
Neera K. Badhwar and Russell E. Jones
On Aristotle’s account of philia in the Nicomachean Ethics, friends who love each other because of their virtue rather than their incidental properties are most fully friends, because they love each other for who they really are. Alongside his picture of ideal virtue, Aristotle offers a realistic account on which people can develop virtue to varying extents and in different domains. His character friends are good but imperfect people who love each other for the specific way virtue takes shape in their lives, share interests and delight in each other’s company, bring out the best in each other, and pursue each other’s good for the other’s own sake. If one brackets his faulty conception of female nature, his account of moral development allows a character friendship of equals between husbands and wives, even in societies where women’s opportunities are severely limited.
The Rhetoric is a difficult book for two reasons. First, its purpose is not immediately clear because it sees argument as the heart of persuasion yet expands and contracts the meaning of argument in different contexts. The relations between argument and character, logos and ēthos, are complex. The enthymeme is the “body” of proof (pistis), yet ēthos is the most powerful means of inducing belief. Second, Aristotle shows how the art of rhetoric has its own standards, irreducible to logic, politics, or expediency, but its ability to erect its own standards is constrained or guided in three distinct dimensions: fidelity to the facts, a goal of persuading a given audience, and moral responsibility. Aristotle places deliberative rhetoric, not forensic or epideictic rhetoric, at the center of his art to make the art fit for practice by citizens, not experts.
The chapter surveys the contributions of Aristotle to the development of ancient Greek science. Aristotle sought the stable element and reliable truth within changes. Aristotle develops a three-fold system of scientific disciplines: practical, productive, and theoretic (including mathematics and natural philosophy). The primary natural kinds are the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, composed of the fundamental qualities of hot/cold and wet/dry. Each has a natural place, earth in a sphere at the center of the cosmos, and the others in spherical shells around that. The eternal circular heavenly motions are due to the fifth element, “aithēr.” Aristotle’s scala naturae classifies all life: plants are capable of nutrition and reproduction, animals can also perceive and move, and humans can reason. Aristotle also studied the transformation of substances, but mainly focusses on the generation, the parts, and the functions of animals. Aristotle’s chief explanatory tool is the “final” cause, the purpose for which a thing occurs.
This article points out that the genre of biography was also fundamentally concerned with Hellenic identity. As the discussion holds, ancient biographies do not just describe individuals, they tackle a range of issues, chief among which is that crucial question, what it might mean to be Greek. Biography is about individuals. That is what makes it interesting; it is also what leaves it vulnerable to critics who look for something more, for the big things rather than Plutarch's ‘small things’. However, the individuals matter too, and usually matter most. The reason biography can do so much is because a human being is both what other human beings tend to find most interesting, and the mechanism and the phenomenon that other humans understand most intuitively.
This article looks at the parallel evolution of civic institutions, all of which culminated in the polis, the ‘city-state’, as the backdrop to the rich cultural legacy of the fifth and fourth centuries. Historians have demonstrated that the formal institutions of the Greek city-state are best understood as emerging from, but still very much embedded within, a much broader range of collective practices and discourses. Nevertheless, it is the dynamic interplay between the institutional structures of the state and these broader practices and discourses that has been the focus of much of the most fruitful scholarship on the ancient Greek city-state over the past thirty years. The discussion then turns to some of the most interesting areas of investigation in current scholarship on the interaction between formal institutions and broader cultural activities and norms in the Greek city-state.
Commentaries are important research tools in the field of Hellenic studies: even those classicists who are most critical of them tend to use them frequently. More fundamentally still, commentaries seem to be inextricable from the very notion of classical literature. This article focuses on four fundamental issues that are likely to confront anybody who plans to use or write a commentary. The first section considers the historical relationship between classical commentaries and classical literature. The second section discusses the commentary both as an act of reading and as a text in its own right. The third section examines how commentaries establish relationships between texts and between readers. The final section raises some issues of value: the value of commentaries and of the texts they seek to elucidate, but also the valuable role played by readers of the classical commentary.
G. E. R. Lloyd
Appealing to Herodotus, who should perhaps be considered the father of cultural anthropology as much as of history, this article resists an extreme position which relativizes concepts of originality and authenticity out of existence. Nevertheless, it shows that the study of Hellenic culture always involves comparative anthropology: one can look harder and see more, but what one sees is always the view from where he is. Indeed, one must put himself in the frame by selecting the object of the study to begin with.