Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate School of The Ohio State University
Scott Kennedy, B.A., B.S.
Graduate Program in Greek and Latin
The Ohio State University
Anthony Kaldellis, Adviser
Modern students of Thucydides and Herodotus may find it odd to think of them as rhetoricians.
Yet in the ancient world, both historians (and especially Thucydides) played an important role in rhetorical schools. They were among the favorite authors of ancient teachers of rhetoric and served as foundational pillars of the ancient curriculum, providing themes for school exercises and even for such seminal texts as Hermogenes' theoretical treatises on rhetoric. Modern scholars might never read technical rhetorical texts such as Hermogenes. They almost certainly would never turn to Hermogenes and his kind to help them understand Thucydides or Herodotus. But for our ancient intellectual predecessors, such an approach would have been unconscionable, as ancient rhetoric was the theoretical lens with which they understood and appreciated historical writings.
In this dissertation, I explore the confluence of rhetoric and historiography in the ancient world through an examination of how Herodotus and Thucydides were used in ancient schools and then by later historians. Chapter 1 and 2 outline how these historians were embedded and encoded within the rhetorical curriculum. In Chapter 1, I examine how Herodotus and Thucydides entered the rhetorical curriculum and how rhetors incorporated them into the rhetorical curriculum through an examination of the surviving progymnasmata, scholia, and pedagogical myths.
Chapter 2 then turns to the practice of declamation, that is the writing of practice speeches in
which the declaimer impersonated a figure from the past. Through an examination of how rhetors wrote a historical declamation on themes from Herodotus or Thucydides, this chapter illustrates how rhetors were trained to invent a speech for a specific historical occasion.
After outlining what assumptions and ideas about historiography these beginning exercises taught students, chapters 3 and 4 demonstrate how they translated these ideas into practice through an examination of imitations of Thucydides by later historians. In chapter 3, I look at imitations of events in Thucydides, such as plague, sieges, strife, and battles. Taught that
Thucydides was the canonical example of these kinds of event, later historians treated him as a template for their own historical writing and often sought to improve their model or even surpass him. Or they might use him as a template for the invention of new historical scenes such as an earthquake or famine. This chapter thus challenges us to think of imitators of Thucydides as participants in a dynamic rhetorical tradition of competition and emulation. Chapter 4 then examines how emulators of Thucydides crafted Thucydidean speeches in light of their rhetorical training. It sees historical speeches as a product of declamation, which mediated Thucydides for later generations. It also seeks to reveal how rhetorical practices encoded the historian with webs of meaning, which modern scholars miss because they are generally unaware of ancient rhetorical practices.
Throughout antiquity, Thucydides and Herodotus played an important role in training students to write and think about history. This dissertation helps us understand the links between rhetorical practice and historiography and more broadly step into the literary workshop of an ancient historian. ii
March 15, 1990……………………...Born-Phoenix, AZ 2008…………………………………Deer Valley High School 2012…………………………………B.A. Greek, B. S. Accounting, University of Arizona 2014…………………………………M.A. Greek and Latin, The Ohio State University 2014-2017…………………………...Graduate Instructor, The Ohio State University 2017-Present………………………...Junior Fellow in Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks
Field of Study
Major Field: Classics
In writing this book, I have incurred a number of debts. First, my thanks is due to my committee
Anthony Kaldellis, Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, and Will Batstone, who read through this dissertation and encouraged me through the long writing process. My gratitude is due as well to
Craig Gibson at the University of Iowa for reading through this dissertation and offering numerous thoughtful suggestions. Marion Kruse at the University of Cincinnati also read part of
Chapter 3 on Prokopios and my thanks are due to him for his incisive comments. My colleagues at the Ohio State University also provided a wonderful and warm environment in which I was able to toss around ideas and garner much needed feedback. Finally, thanks are due to
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington DC, which provided a friendly and thought- provoking context in which I completed this research. To all these individuals and institutions, I owe my sincerest thanks. All errors and infelicities are my own.
Table of Contents
Abstract ...... i Vita ...... iii Acknowledgements ...... iv List of Figures ...... vii Chapter 1: Thucydides and Herodotus in the ancient rhetorical tradition ...... 1 1. The Beginnings of Thucydides and Herodotus as Rhetorical Texts ...... 3 2. The Place of Thucydides and Herodotus as Stylists in Subsequent Schools ...... 7 3. Reading and Writing History: The Progymnasmata and Beyond ...... 12 A. On the Malice of Thucydides: Probability and Bias ...... 12 B. Herodotus and the Mythical Approach to History ...... 23 4. When did students read Thucydides and Herodotus? ...... 28 5. Reading Thucydides in an ancient classroom ...... 32 6. What parts of Thucydides and Herodotus did schools read? ...... 38 7. Pedagogical Myths and Thucydides ...... 42 8. Thucydides in the Ancient Rhetorical Curriculum: an Overview ...... 46 Chapter 2: Thucydides and Herodotus in Declamation ...... 47 1. History and declamation: writing a historical declamation ...... 51 2. History and declamation: character...... 69 3. Theory in action: Sample historical declamations ...... 73 A. Libanios and Chorikios on the legacy of Miltiades ...... 74 B. The reputation of Athens: Libanios versus Gregory of Cyprus ...... 81 C. A Historian Rewrites Thucydides: Nikephoros Gregoras...... 91 4. Conclusion ...... 97 Chapter 3: From textbook to history: imitating Thucydides ...... 98 v
1. Thucydides' greatest hits ...... 104 2. On Strategies of Imitation ...... 114 3. Emulation ...... 140 4. The Creation of New Scenes...... 150 5. The decline and fall of Thucydides in Middle Byzantium ...... 158 6. Concluding Remarks ...... 168 Chapter 4: Thucydidean Speeches ...... 170 1. Declamation and historical speeches ...... 170 2. Rhetoric and intertextuality ...... 177 3. Thucydidean characterization ...... 180 4. Declaiming Periklean Athens in Rome: Dionysios of Halikarnassos ...... 182 5. Thucydidean Propaganda: John Kantakouzenos ...... 188 6. Speaking Hidden Truths ...... 196 7. Conclusion ...... 202 References ...... 203 Abbreviations ...... 203 Primary ...... 203 Secondary ...... 209
List of Figures
Figure 1: The Survival of Thucydides on papyrus ...... 40 Figure 2: The Survival of Herodotus on papyrus ...... 40
Chapter 1: Thucydides and Herodotus in the ancient rhetorical tradition
Modern students of Thucydides and Herodotus may find it odd to think of them as rhetoricians.
Yet in the ancient world, both historians (and especially Thucydides) played an important role in rhetorical schools. They were among the favorite authors of ancient teachers of rhetoric. For example, Libanios, Prokopios of Gaza, and Chorikios of Gaza numbered among Thucydides' adherents.1 Chorikios even labels Thucydides as "the source of rhetoric which often inspired
Demosthenes."2 In late antiquity, a number of authors went even further, labeling Thucydides not just a historian, but a fellow rhetor.3 Rhetors-in-training might memorize the whole of
Thucydides.4 Thucydides and Herodotus also served as foundational pillars of the ancient curriculum, providing themes for school exercises and even for such seminal texts as
Hermogenes' theoretical treatises on rhetoric. Modern classicists might go an entire career without ever reading (or for that matter, needing to read) rhetorical texts such as Hermogenes' On
Issues or the highly technical sections of Quintilian's Institutes of Oratory. They almost certainly would never turn to Hermogenes and his kind to help them understand Thucydides or Herodotus.
But for our Roman and Byzantine intellectual predecessors, such an approach would have been unconscionable, as ancient rhetoric was the theoretical lens with which they understood and
1 Libanios, Oration 2.148-150; Roberto Tosi, “Tucidide in Coricio,” Koinonia 5 (1981): 99–104; János Balázs, A Gazai iskola Thukydides-Tanulmányai. Gli studi Tucididei della scuola di Gaza. (Budapest, 1940). 2 Chorikios, Oration 32, theoria.2. 3 Agni Vasilikopoulou, “Η υφολογική των βυζαντινών και ο Θουκυδίδης,” Επιστηµονική Επετηρίς της Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής του Πανεπιστηµίου Αθηνών 29 (1986-1991): 70. 4 Damaskios, Life of Isidore, frag. 60 Athanassiadi. 1
appreciated historical writings. Indeed, even vehement critics of rhetoric such as the second century A.D. philosopher Sextus Empiricus recognized that discovering the rules of history and teaching students how to write it was the rhetor's purview.5
Modern scholars have increasingly begun to recognize how much history-writing was tied to rhetoric in antiquity.6 Scholars such as A.J. Woodman have broached the topic, showing us that ancient historiography was shaped by the directives of classical rhetoric, but it is only relatively recently that scholars have begun to more profoundly question how the practices of ancient rhetorical schools influenced historical writing.7 Most studies of the reception of Herodotus and
Thucydides have often emphasized their influence on subsequent historiography or on poetry.
Yet in the Roman and Byzantine era, many students of history would have first encountered both historians during their rhetorical training, which not only thoroughly shaped how they thought about history, but taught them how to write it. So our emphasis on finished products of history and poetry fails to understand the process and assumptions that went into producing them. This chapter, therefore, will study this preliminary process. Through a better understanding of how
5 Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 1.268; Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 2.4.2, recognizes that historical narration is a good starting point for boys learning rhetoric. 6 On ancient historiography and rhetoric, see T.P. Wiseman, Clio’s Cosmetics : Three Studies in Greco-Roman Literature (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1979); T.P. Wiseman, “Lying Historians: Seven Types of Mendacity,” in Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World, ed. Christopher Gill and T.P. Wiseman (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1993), 122–46; A. J Woodman, Rhetoric in Classical Historiography: Four Studies (London: Areopagitica Press, 1988); J.P. Moles, “Truth and Untruth in Herodotus and Thucydides,” in Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World, ed. Christopher Gill and T.P. Wiseman (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1993), 88–121; Roberto Nicolai, La storiografia nell’educazione antica (Pisa: Giardini, 1992); Jakub Lichanski, “Historiographie et théorie de la rhétorique de l’antiquité au moyen âge,” Europa Orientalis 5 (1986): 21–48. 7 Valérie Fromentin and Sophie Gotteland, “Thucydides’ Ancient Reputation,” in A Handbook to the Reception of Thucydides, ed. Christine Lee and Neville Morley (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2014), 17–19; Juan Carlos Iglesias- Zoido, “Thucydides in the School Rhetoric of the Imperial Period,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 52 (2012): 393–420; Craig A. Gibson, “Learning Greek History in the Ancient Classroom: The Evidence of the Treatises on Progymnasmata,” Classical Philology 99 (2004): 103–29; Jacques Bompaire, “Les historiens classiques dans les exercices préparatoires de rhétorique (progymnasmata),” in Recueil Plassart: Études sur l’antiquité grecque offertes à André Plassart par ses collègues de la Sorbonne (Paris) (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1976), 1–7. 2
rhetors read and utilized history in the rhetorical curriculum, we can uncover how they thought about history and in consequence how they and their students later wrote it. Ancient scholars just like modern students of historiography read history as literature and made a number of discoveries about Thucydides and Herodotus, which we have only begun independently rediscovering in the last fifty years.
1. The Beginnings of Thucydides and Herodotus as Rhetorical Texts
When Thucydides and Herodotus were first considered rhetorical texts is unclear. Thucydides has been widely studied from a rhetorical perspective by modern classicists. One scholar has even gone so far as to label Thucydides the "first rhetorical historian."8 A number of scholars have examined Thucydides in light of the rhetorical precepts of the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum, going so far as to suggest that he may have even had an indirect influence on the rhetorical theory exhibited in this treatise.9 However, it is Herodotus who is first mentioned in a rhetorical context. Aristotle's Rhetoric employs Herodotus twice for rhetorical-stylistic examples, citing for instance his opening sentence as a specimen of the relaxed style (λέξις εἰροµένη).10 Elsewhere,
Aristotle voices his disapproval of Herodotus as a teller of tales (µυθολόγος),11 but it is nonetheless interesting that Aristotle chose Herodotus as a rhetorical example. Thucydides'
Histories are not cited by Aristotle, much to the chagrin of modern students of Thucydides. Even though modern scholars have suggested that Aristotle and his students knew Thucydides and
8 John Marincola, “Rethinking Isocrates and History,” in Between Thucydides and Polybius: The Golden Age of Greek Historiography, ed. Giovanni Parmeggiani (Washington, D.C.: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2014), 52. 9 E.g., Simon Hornblower, Thucydides (London: Duckworth, 1987), 47; Colin Macleod, “Form and Meaning in the Melian Dialogue,” Historia: Zeitschrift Für Alte Geschichte 23 (1974): 385–400. " 10 Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1409a; 1417a. 11 Aristotle, On the generation of animals, 736a. 3
used him as a source inter alia for the Constitution of Athens, Aristotle does not seem to have seen his value for teaching rhetoric.12
This is not to say that Aristotle's contemporaries and even students did not see the rhetorical value of Thucydides. For example, Simon Hornblower has traced the stylistic influence of
Thucydides on Athenian orators of the fourth century.13 Demosthenes' use of Thucydides is perhaps best known, as scholars have acknowledged Demosthenes' debt to Thucydides since antiquity.14 According to later biographers, Demosthenes had repeatedly read Thucydides and even copied him out eight times.15 The story is probably fiction meant to link later readers' two favorite authors and explain the intertextual links between them.16
However, from this early period, we can detect hints of Thucydides' importance for rhetoric.
Although Aristotle had only used Herodotus, his student Theophrastos noted that Herodotus and
Thucydides had spearheaded an innovation in the quality of historical writing, so that history
"dared to speak more copiously and ornately than before."17 Thucydides the stylist influenced a number of later authors such as the historians Philistios (4th century B.C.) and Agatharchides
12 G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, “Aristotle on History and Poetry (Poetics, 9, 1451a36-B11),” in Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics, ed. Amélie Rorty (Princeton University Press, 1992), 23–32; P. J Rhodes, A Commentary on the Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 15–30. 13 Simon Hornblower, “The Fourth-Century,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 115 (1995): 52–53. 14 Harvey Yunis, Taming Democracy: Models of Political Rhetoric in Classical Athens (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), 240–41, 256–57, 268–77; Luciano Canfora, Terza filippica (Palermo: Sellerio, 1992), 11–41; Arnold Schaefer, Demosthenes und seine Zeit., vol. 1 (Leipzig: Teubner, 1885), 289.Yunis, Taming Democracy, 240-1, 256- 7, 268-77; Canfora, Demostene. Terza Filippica, 11-41; Schaefer, Demosthenes und seine Zeit, 1.289 15 Lucian, Against an unlearned man who buys many books 4. 16 Laurent Pernot, ed., L’ombre du tigre: recherches sur la réception de Démosthène (Napoli: M. D’Auria editore, 2006), 220–24. 17 Cicero, Orator 12.39. 4
(2nd century B.C.), the latter of whose speeches drew heavily upon Thucydides according to the
Byzantine patriarch Photios who read Agatharchides in the ninth century A.D.18
In the Hellenistic age, Herodotus enjoyed a more certain and widespread reception among later historians and poets.19 However, his status as a classroom text like that of Thucydides is problematic, as so little survives of Greek oratory and rhetorical theory from the Hellenistic age.
Thucydides probably entered rhetorical schools by the second century B.C. Plutarch reports that when Cato the Elder learned Greek later in life, "[he is said] to have profited in oratory a little from Thucydides and even more from Demosthenes."20 It is possible that Plutarch exaggerates or draws on later biographers of Cato, who tended to note real or imaginary parallels with classic authors and invent biographical stories to explain them. But if Photios is correct that the historian
Agatharchides, who was a grammatikos by profession, that is a teacher of literature and grammar, imitated Thucydides,21 then perhaps Thucydides and Demosthenes were the kinds of texts that an educated Greek in the second century B.C. would study and recommend to elderly
18 See Valérie Fromentin, “Philistos de Syracuse, Imitateur de Thucydide? Réexamen Du Témoignage de Denys d’Halicarnasse,” in Ombres de Thucydide: La Réception de l’historien Depuis l’antiquité Jusqu’au Début Du XXe Siècle : Actes Des Colloques de Bordeaux, Les 16-17 Mars 2007, de Bordeaux, Les 30-31 Mai 2008 et de Toulouse, Les 23-25 Octobre 2008, ed. Valérie Fromentin, Sophie Gotteland, and Pascal Payen (Pessac: Ausonius, 2010), 105–18. Agatharchides survives only in Photios' summary. See Photios, Library, codex 250 (Henry 7.134-189) and 213 (Henry 3.213-5). Hornblower, “The Fourth-Century,” 58, doubts that Agatharchides actually imitated Thucydides and suggests that Photios took narrative forms similar to Thucydides for Thucydidean imitation. However, Photios was more than capable of recognizing and identifying Thucydidean imitators. For example, he highlights the debts owed to Thucydides by the historians Cassius Dio (codex 71 (Henry 1.105)) and Dexippus (codex 82 (Henry 1.188)), whose many imitations of Thucydides are well established (see Emil Litsch, De Cassio Dione imitatore Thucydidis (Freiburg, 1893); Franz Joseph Stein, Dexippus et Herodianus rerum scriptores quatenus Thucydidem secuti sint. (Bonn, 1955). Photios even highlights the influence of Thucydides on Cassius Dio's speeches like he does for Agatharchides. Thus, it seems overly cautious to suggest that Agatharchides did not imitate Thucydides. 19 Jessica Priestley, Herodotus and Hellenistic Culture: Literary Studies in the Reception of the Histories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Hornblower, “The Fourth-Century”; Oswyn Murray, “Herodotus and Hellenistic Culture,” Classical Quarterly 22 (1972): 200–213. 20 Plutarch, Cato the Elder 2.6. 21 Photios, Library, codex 213 (Henry 3.214-5). 5
statesmen trying to improve their oratory, just as Dion Chrysostomos subsequently did in the first century A.D.22
Whatever the case may be, Thucydides had inspired a devoted following of imitators at Rome by the middle of the first century B.C. Philodemos, Cicero, and Dionysios of Halikarnassos attest to his great popularity among contemporary orators, who sought to emulate the Athenian historian in the courtrooms and public assemblies of Rome.23 According to Cicero and Dionysios of
Halikarnassos, who were hostile to the movement, these individuals thought writing broken and obscure prose made them sound like Thucydides. But if Dionysios of Halikarnassos and
Markellinos fairly represent their defense of their 'Thucydidean' style, they believed Thucydides' value lay in deliberate obscurity.24 By adopting a manner of speech divorced from the common day speech like Thucydides, their oratory appealed to an elite educated in rhetoric and philosophy, whose approval would win the imitator lasting literary fame.25
Naturally, the perceived elitism of those orators and writers provoked a backlash of criticism at
Rome, as both Dionysios of Halikarnassos and Cicero spoke out against it.26 Both believed that
22 See section 2 below. 23 Philodemos, Rhetorica 1.161. Cicero and Dionysios are discussed below. 24 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides, 52; Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 35. 25 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 35. 26 On Dionysios's treatment of Thucydides, G. M. A. Grube, “Dionysius of Halicarnassus on Thucydides,” Phoenix 4 (1950): 95–110; Nicolas Wiater, The Ideology of Classicism: Language, History, and Identity in Dionysius of Halicarnassus (New York: De Gruyter, 2011), 130–64. On Cicero's, see Juan Carlos Iglesias-Zoido, El legado de Tucídides en la cultura occidental discursos e historia (Coimbra: Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos da Universitá de Coimbra, 2011), 87–88; Cyril Binot, “Thucydides enim rerum gestarum pronuntiator sincerus et grandis etiam fuit (Cicéron, Brutus, 287). La réception cicéronienne de Thucydide : une belle voix sans écho?,” in Ombres de Thucydide: La Réception de l’historien Depuis l’antiquité Jusqu’au Début Du XXe Siècle : Actes Des Colloques de Bordeaux, Les 16-17 Mars 2007, de Bordeaux, Les 30-31 Mai 2008 et de Toulouse, Les 23-25 Octobre 2008, ed. Valérie Fromentin, Sophie Gotteland, and Pascal Payen (Pessac: Ausonius, 2010), 253–73. 6
Thucydides should continue to play a role in rhetorical schools and historical writing. However, as they rightly point out, Thucydides was not a good stylistic model for the courtroom and public assembly, where imitating his convoluted and unclear prose would be counter-productive when addressing a popular audience.27 In fact, in four separate works, Cicero repeatedly reminded the
Thucydideans at Rome that Thucydides had never pleaded a case.28 It was one thing to write a brilliant albeit convoluted history, another to bring cases before a court and persuade an assembly. If rhetors wanted a model, they really needed to turn to Demosthenes, whose oratory was better suited to such an audience.29 Dionysios reaches a similar conclusion in his Thucydides after exposing what he thought were the flaws in Thucydides' content and style. However, he is more optimistic than Cicero. After recommending that prospective imitators imitate
Demosthenes, he suggests that if they imitate Thucydides, they should only imitate his style when it is at its best.30
2. The Place of Thucydides and Herodotus as Stylists in Subsequent Schools
The results of Cicero's and Dionysios' criticisms were mixed. Cicero, when attempting to denigrate Thucydides' value for oratory, contends that no Greek sophist had ever called
Thucydides a rhetor.31 Yet in subsequent centuries, not only would rhetors embrace Thucydides as one of their own. Some would even name him the founding father of their rhetorical system or rhetoric itself, fully incorporating him into the Greek rhetorical system.32 Nevertheless, Cicero's
27 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 49; Cicero, Orator 30. 28 Cicero, Brutus 287; Cicero, On the Ideal Orator 57; Cicero, On the ideal type of orator 15. 29 Cicero, Orator 23; Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Thucydides 55. 30 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 55. 31 Cicero, Orator 32. 32 See section 7 below. 7
and Dionysios' advocacy of Demosthenes is likewise reflective of a general trend among subsequent rhetorical schools. If not already in the Hellenistic age, Demosthenes became the bread and butter of later rhetors, serving as the principal text of instruction in schools as well as the basis of later rhetorical theory.33 For example, the second-century rhetorician Hermogenes of
Tarsus would craft his entire theory of style around Demosthenes.34 After the Thucydidean vogue at Rome in the first century B.C., Thucydides and Herodotus remained important models for the prospective stylist. However, they simply were not deemed as important to the intellectual formation of students as other prose authors such as Demosthenes.
The reading lists of a number of authors from the first century B.C. to second century A.D. bear testimony to this fact. Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Dion Chrysostomos, Theon, Quintilian,
Lucian, Hermogenes of Tarsus, and Phrynichos the Arab (fl. 181-193 A.D.) offer important testimonies to what they thought intellectuals should read. Thucydides plays an important role in all these lists, taking pride of place over all other historians, while Herodotus appears on most lists. They are generally prized for rather conventional reasons. Rhetors prize Herodotus for his sweet and charming style, while they admire Thucydides’ vigorous and solemn style.35
It is nevertheless important to recognize that these reading lists are extensive and probably were not fully read by every educated Greek or Roman. Instead, they would have targeted the most
33 On Demosthenes, see Craig A Gibson, Interpreting a Classic: Demosthenes and His Ancient Commentators (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), chaps. 1-3. 34 Hermogenes, On Style, 215-6. 35 This is essentially how they are classified in Hermogenes, On Style, 409-10. This went on to become the canonical definition of style in Byzantium. 8
important authors.36 For example, Theon, the author of a treatise on preliminary rhetorical exercises, recommends reading (in ascending order of difficulty) Herodotus, Theopompos,
Xenophon, Philistios, Ephoros, and finally Thucydides, after reading the ten Attic orators. Theon wanted to give students greater historical breadth, as most of his contemporaries would have read only one of these authors (most likely Thucydides) with their students.37 But if papyri from
Egypt and the literary culture of the Second Sophistic are any indication, Theon's reading list was overly ambitious.38 It represents what an ideal orator would have read, not the average educated person.39
When push came to shove, readings lists were often shortened. Consider Dion Chrysostomos's lengthy list of historians, orators, tragedians, comedians, and poets in oration 18. Although labeled an oration, this text is more of a letter addressed to an older statesman who had asked
Dion what to do and who to read in order to improve his rhetorical skills. Dion recognized that this individual did not need a grueling reading list and instead structured his recommendations to bypass traditional rhetorical mainstays in favor of easier texts.40 For example, Dion acknowledges Demosthenes' and Lysias' superior rhetorical value, but endorses reading
Hypereides and Aischines for their easier style.41 Thucydides was presumably widely read in schools, but Dion recommends Herodotus instead for his easy-going, pleasurable style. Dion tells
36 Teresa Morgan, Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 51; Raffaella Cribiore, The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 158. 37 Theon, Progymnasmata, 104-5 (ed. Patillon) 38 Gibson, “Learning Greek History,” 116; Cribiore, Gymnastics, 234. 39 Cribiore, School of Libanius, 158. 40 Dion Chrysostomos, Oration 18.2, 5. 41 Dion Chrysostomos, Oration 18.11. 9
us that Thucydides is the foremost historian, but stops his recommendation there, declining to elaborate on the virtues of reading Thucydides. Perhaps, Thucydides needed no endorsement, but one suspects that Thucydides’ style may have been too challenging for an adult student.42 For example, Dionysios of Halikarnassos had sarcastically remarked that few of his contemporaries actually understood Thucydides when they read him, and those who did needed grammatical and lexical aids to understand him.43 In any case, Dion recognized that he could not expect his statesman to read every item on his list including Herodotus and Thucydides. Instead, he recommends Xenophon above all as a statesman’s essential reading, as he offered all the political eloquence and knowledge a politician would need in a sweet and pleasurable style conducive to public assemblies and courtrooms.44 If the statesman were to read anyone on Dio's list, he should read Xenophon.
Like Dion, a number of sophists recognized that not all students or sophists were voracious readers and tried to give compact lists for success that reveal which texts they thought were indispensable. For example, Phrynichos the Arab,45 the author of thirty-six books of Attic phrases and clauses dedicated to the emperor Commodus (181-193 A.D.), recommends Plato,
Demosthenes, the remaining nine Attic orators, Thucydides, Xenophon, Aischines of Sphettos
(not to be confused with the orator), Kritias, and Antisthenes as rhetorical models. But when it came to the essentials, he recommends as blameless Plato, Demosthenes, and Aischines of
Sphettos.46 Lucian offers similar models in his short treatise Rhetorum Praeceptor, where
42 Dion Chrysostomos, Oration 18.10. 43 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 51. 44 Dion Chrysostomos, Oration 18.14. 45 PIR2 P 398. 46 Photios, Library, codex 158 (Henry 2.118) 10
Demosthenes, Plato, and Isokrates represent what a student might learn by following the long, arduous road of rhetoric and imitation.47 Thucydides and Herodotus were thus important to ancient readers as stylistic models, but they may not have been the kind of texts that most ancient intellectuals read over and over again unless they were a historian or a staunch adherent.
Thus far, we have examined ancient considerations of Thucydides and Herodotus as stylistic models. This was the most obvious rhetorical use for them early on. But over time, rhetors increasingly incorporated them into all aspects of rhetorical theory and the classroom. Naturally, their use in rhetorical schools created the demand for commentaries and monographs on the historians. We have already discussed briefly Dionysios of Halikarnassos' views on the style of
Thucydides in his monograph On Thucydides. But he was hardly alone. From the first B.C. to fifth century A.D., some fourteen other known individuals wrote scholarship on either Herodotus or Thucydides. Most of these individuals are shadowy figures whose works are all but lost such as the rhetors Hermippos and Sabinos who flourished under the Roman emperor Hadrian (117-
135 A.D.) and wrote commentaries to Thucydides.48 However, others are more well known such as Plutarch's essay On the Malignity of Herodotus and Markellinos' Life of Thucydides (5th century A.D.). And some are well known figures whose works have otherwise perished. For example, the sophist Libanios (c. 314-392/3 A.D.) wrote a refutation of Herodotus, while the philosopher and rhetorician Porphyry (c. 234-305 A.D.) produced a monograph on Thucydides' proem.49
47 Lucian, Rhetorum Praeceptor, 9, 17. 48 On Hermippos, see Suda, epsilon 3024 and nu 375. A lone fragment of Hermippos survives in the scholia. Markellinos, Life of Thucydides, 18, says that Hermippos accused Thucydides of malice toward Harmodius and Aristogiton. The scholia to Thucydides 1.20.1 make the same claim. On Sabinus, see Suda, sigma 11. 49 Libanios, Letter 615; Suda, pi 2098. 11
3. Reading and Writing History: The Progymnasmata and Beyond
A. On the Malice of Thucydides: Probability and Bias
As scholarship on Herodotus and Thucydides flourished during these centuries, it was only natural that Thucydides and Herodotus came to play an important role in other stages of the educational system. First and foremost of these was the progymnasmata or preliminary exercises with which students began their rhetorical training. The progymnasmata that survive from antiquity consist of two parts. First, there are theoretical handbooks on how to write the exercises, and then there are surviving sample exercises. Quintilian (1st c. A.D.), Theon (1st-2nd c. A.D.),50 Pseudo-Hermogenes (3rd c. A.D.?), Aphthonios (4th c. A.D.), and Nikolaos of Athens
(5th c. A.D.) are the authors of our principal surviving progymnasmata handbooks, but numerous other textbooks have not survived the test of time.51 These exercises sought to provide students with the fundamentals of composition through a series of set exercises of increasing difficulty.
Ancient students, who had learned the rules of Attic grammar and poetry with the grammatikos, would begin with fable (µῦθος), which asked them to tell a story, usually involving animal characters. From there, they would practice narration (διήγηµα), which would draw upon what
50 Malcolm Heath, “Theon and the History of the Progymnasmata,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 43, no. 2 (2003): 129–60, has argued in favor of a fifth century A.D. date. I follow Michel Patillon, Aelius Théon. Progymnasmata (Paris: Belles Lettres, 1997), vii–xxiii, who dates the treatise to the second century. 51 On the progymnasmata, see Ruth Webb, “The Progymnasmata as Practice,” in Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 289–316; Robert J. Penella, “The Progymnasmata and Progymnasmatic Theory in Imperial Greek Education,” in A Companion to Ancient Education, ed. W. Martin Bloomer (John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2015), 160–71; Manfred Kraus, “Aphthonius and the Progymnasmata in Rhetorical Theory and Practice,” in Sizing up Rhetoric, ed. David Zarefsky (Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2008). Theon and other writers of progymasmata are translated in George A Kennedy, Progymnasmata: Greek Textbooks of Prose Composition and Rhetoric (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003). 12
they had learned with the grammatikos and required them to retell a story vividly drawn from mythology or history. From there, they would first discuss a saying or action attributed to some famous figure such as Isocrates in the chreia exercise, and then a general statement or aphorism in the gnome exercise. From there, students would either refute (ἀνασκευή) or confirm
(κατασκευή) a story based on criteria such as probability or plausibility. Κοινὸς τόπος, or the commonplace, asked students to rehearse stereotypes about a stock character such as a tyrant or a soldier. From there, students moved to more substantial exercises that could have been considered stand-alone texts, if they were further elaborated. Praise (ἐγκωµίον) followed by blame (ψόγος) asked students to take a well-known figure such as Thucydides or Achilles and write about either their positive features or their negative ones. Building on these two exercises, comparison (συγκρίσις) would compare two things or people. The most famous literary specimens are Plutarch’s comparisons of ancient statesmen.52 After this, students would impersonate a figure from antiquity in ethopoiia, imagining, for example, what words Achilles would say after the death of Patroclus or what Agamemnon would say after taking Troy.
Ekphrasis, or description, then asked students to write a vivid account of a person, thing, place, time, or event, such as a description of the season spring or a rose. The final two exercises would have been the most challenging: thesis asked them to discuss in detail a general question such as whether or not to marry, while the introduction of a law (νόµου εἰσφορά) asked them to write a small-scale speech arguing in favor of a new law.
52 George Alexander Kennedy, Greek Rhetoric under Christian Emperors (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), 55. 13
The progymnasmata offer important testimony as to what assumptions and beliefs about
Herodotus and Thucydides as well as history in general that instructors instilled in their students.
The progymnasmata treatises of Theon, Pseudo-Hermogenes, Aphthonios, and Nikolaos of
Athens all make marked use of the ancient historians in a variety of ways. Theon makes extensive use of the ancient canon of historians: Herodotus, Theopompos, Xenophon, Philistios,
Ephoros, and Thucydides. Most later progymnasmata writers turned to Herodotus and
Thucydides (Pseudo-Hermogenes) or just Thucydides (Aphthonios). As Theon was writing for fellow teachers of rhetoric, Theon combed through the ancient historians for sample examples of each progymnasma, so that instructors using his handbook could take their pick of examples.
Theon's examples from history mostly concern the narration, refutation, confirmation, ethopoiia, and ekphrasis exercises because these techniques were often practiced by ancient historians. In fact, addressing himself to students who might become historians, Theon highlights the fact that history at its most basic is really just a series of narrations strung together (σύστηµα
διηγήσεως).53 In a sense, the act of writing history was simply stitching these rhetorical exercises together.
But more important for the future historian was what the progymnasmata taught him or her about the nature of historical narration and its veracity. Progymnasmata-writers recognized history as a separate mode of narration (τὸ ἱστορικὸν), offering sometimes conflicting definitions ranging from "an account of past events" (gesta res, ab aetatis nostrae memoria remota/ἱστορικὸν δὲ τὸ
παλαιὰν ἔχον ἀφήγησιν) to "an account of past events commonly admitted to have happened"
53 Theon, Progymnasmata, 60. 14
(ἱστορικὰ δὲ τὰ τῶν ὁµολογουµένως γενοµένων παλαιῶν πραγµάτων).54 When writing a narration, they suggest considering a wide range of issues such as the clarity or Hellenism of a narration–a clear style was important, no matter the narration pace Thucydidean stylists. Indeed,
Theon holds Thucydides up as an example of what not to do. He criticizes the historian for his unclear method of dating events by seasons and for his excessive use of hyperbaton.55
However, no matter the instructor, the fundamental requirement of a successful narration was that it should be probable.56 In fact, some instructors made probability their sole requirement for a successful narration.57 So while history may require recounting stories generally believed to be true, the analysis of history and historiography simply dictated that they should be realistic and believable. In order to obtain the desired 'reality effect', Theon notes, one must stack one probable fact upon one another and match the narration to the characters and events.58 In this regard, Thucydides is exemplary for him. If an author must narrate an incredible event, he should do it believably by making the circumstance behind the event clear. As an example of how to do this, Theon cites Thucydides' description of the Thebans' attempt to seize Plataia at the outbreak
54 Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 2.4.2; Pseudo-Hermogenes, Progymnasmata 4; Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 22; Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 12-3. For other similar definitions of history as narration not in the context of the progymnasmata, see Rhetorica ad Herennium 1.8.12; Cicero, On Invention 1.19.27; Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 1.262-3. For commentary, see Nicolai, La storiografia, 126–34; Roos Meijering, Literary and Rhetorical Theories in Greek Scholia (Groningen: E. Forsten, 1987), 73–89; K. Barwick, “Die Gliederung der Narratio in der Rhetorischen Theorie und ihre Bedeutung für die Geschichte des antiken Romans,” Hermes 63 (1928): 261–87. 55 Theon, Progymnasmata, 80, 82. 56 Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 2.4.2; Theon, Progymnasmata, 79; Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 22; Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 14. For an overview of the virtues of narration, see Nicolai, La storiografia, 134–55. 57 Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 14, mentions previous orators for whom probability was the sole criterion for a successful narration. One such orator was Theodore of Gadara (fl. 1st c. B.C.), whose views are attested by the rhetorical collection Anonymus Seguerianus 103. 58 Theon, Progymnasmata, 84. 15
of the Peloponnesian War (2.2-6). Summarizing Thucydides to illustrate how a historian creates rhetorical vividness, Theon writes:
It was probable that the Thebans, always differing with the Plataians and knowing
that there would be war, would want to forestall them by seizing Plataea in a time
of peace; that they laid plans to seize the city on a moonless night rather than
openly, and in addition arranged for some Plataians to open the gates to them, no
guard having been stationed because of the treaty; and that the traitors were acting
out of private hatred for some of their fellow-citizens whom they thought to
destroy when this happened, but they did not intend to betray the Thebans. It is
credible that the Plataians, realizing that their city had been suddenly captured by
the enemy, thought, because of the dark, that many more had come in, and credible
that they came to terms, but later, having realized that the (invaders) were not
numerous, attacked them. The confusion of the Plataians throwing spears at the
Thebans, and the accompanying cries and laments of the women and slaves hitting
the Thebans with stones and tiles, is most credible. The night had been very rainy
and many of the Thebans, pursued through mud and darkness, were unable to
escape from the city because of their unfamiliarity with the streets. It is credible
too that someone fastened the gates with the spike of a javelin instead of using a
bolt-pin in the beam, and the account of the woman giving an axe is very credible;
for it was probable that a woman who lived near the deserted gate would have been
frightened when she saw the enemy shut in the town, not expecting safety, and
driven to madness in causing harm, whatever they could, but first of all to the
nearby houses. I pass over the fact that it was like a woman to feel pity even for the
enemy when they had been defeated.59
Modern scholars have long noted how Thucydides' use of vivid detail makes the Theban assault on Plataia rhetorically effective.60 Yet, there are elements of his narration that could have been problematic and incredible if the historian had not correctly set the scene. For example, the
Plataians locking the gates of the city with the spike of a spear could be problematic. If we did not know the circumstances, why would we believe that the Plataians locked the gates with a spear rather than a regular bolt? The detail, taken on its own, has a Hollywood-esque element of believability to it. But when properly put in the context of a battle where confusion reigned, it seems probable that a Plataian man would not have had the time to find the gate's bolt and, in the heat of the moment, blocked the gate with his spear.
Thus, Theon considered historical narrative a series of probable facts stacked upon one another.
In a sense, modern scholars have only recently rediscovered what Theon and other ancient rhetors always knew about historical writing and Thucydides. Influenced in part by narratology, a number of scholars such as Tim Rood and Simon Goldhill have cleverly revealed how
Thucydides’ creates a “reality effect” by juxtaposing probable facts one after another. They have noted that the cumulative effect of this juxtaposition lends Thucydides his authoritative voice and compels us to buy into his narrative of events.61 But while this conclusion has seemed
59 Theon, Progymnasmata, 84-5 (Translation: Kennedy, Progymnasmata, 33–34, modified). 60 W. Robert Connor, Thucydides (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 52–53; Simon Hornblower, A commentary on Thucydides, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 242. 61 Tim Rood, “Objectivity and Authority: Thucydides’ Historical Method,” in Brill’s Companion to Thucydides, ed. Antonios Rengakos and Antonios Tsakmakis (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 225–26; Simon Goldhill, The Invention of Prose 17
ground-breaking to modern classicists who do not approach Thucydides through the lens of classical rhetoric, it probably would have been banal to ancient teachers of rhetoric and their students.
Inherent to the rhetoricians' definition of historical narration as "an account of past events" was the tacit understanding that the past was unknowable. As ancient rhetoricians such as Lucian recognized, distant past events such as the Peloponnesian War events were only accessible through probability.62 At best, events such as the siege of Epidamnos (1.24) were commonly accepted to have happened, as Nikolaos highlights.63 However, history could be defined as
"something said to be according to nature whether it was done or not."64 The latter definition of history derives from Servius' commentary to Vergil's Aeneid and is rather radical, as most commentators recognized that history was in principle about deeds that had happened, but it conveys the importance of probability for accessing the past for ancient readers of history. As
John Marincola has shown, probability was one of the most common methods by which historians proved or disproved traditions of events commonly accepted to have happened.65
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 43; Carolyn Dewald, Thucydides’ War Narrative: A Structural Study (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 17. 62 Lucian, On how to Write History 47, will be discussed below. The importance of probability to a narrative is very briefly suggested by A. J Woodman, “Self-Imitation and the Substance of History: Tacitus, Annals 1.61-5 and Histories 2.70, 5.14-15,” in Creative Imitation and Latin Literature, ed. A. J. Woodman and David West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 152–53. John Marincola, Authority and Tradition in Ancient Historiography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 282–83, shows how probability was one of the most important criteria for evaluating a historical narrative. 63 Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 14. 64 Servius, Commentary to Vergil's Aeneid 1.235: historia est quicquid secundum naturam dicitur, sive factum sive non factum, ut de Phaedra. 65 Marincola, Authority and Tradition, 282–83. 18
An important component of probability in the ancient world was also the character (ἦθος) of the speaker.66 As Lucian writes in his essay On how to write history, "[If the historian is not an eyewitness of events], he should follow those telling the more impartial story and those whom one would surmise least likely to add or subtract from the facts because of favor or hostility.
Here one must conjecture and put together the more probable story (τοῦ πιθανωτέρου).67 The character of a speaker is a multifaceted issue, which I cannot hope to fully address here, but for historians this often came down to whether or not they exhibited malice or favoritism toward an individual. As A.J. Woodman and John Marincola among others have shown, truth and bias were polar opposites for ancient readers of history.68
In the Hellenistic age, Thucydides' was admired by rhetors and philosophers according to
Dionysios of Halikarnassos for having "kept his purpose blameless and clean of all envy and flattery."69 But in the Roman era, scholars thoroughly interrogated Thucydides' bias, seeking to uncover the the malice or favoritism of Thucydides. Some of their findings will be familiar to modern scholars, as they still figure in modern discussions of Thucydides' objectivity such as his portrayal of Kleon.70 Others will be less familiar to modern scholars. For example, Hermippos of
66 Anonymus Seguerianus 94: ποιεῖ δὲ πιθανότητα καὶ τὸ τοῦ λέγοντος ἦθος καὶ πάθος. For a discussion of the character of the historian, see John Marincola, ed., “Speeches in Classical Historiography,” in Greek and Roman Historiography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 128–74. 67 Lucian, On how to write history 47: Τὰ δὲ πράγµατα αὐτὰ οὐχ ὡς ἔτυχε συνακτέον, ἀλλὰ φιλοπόνως καὶ ταλαιπώρως πολλάκις περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν ἀνακρίναντα, καὶ µάλιστα µὲν παρόντα καὶ ἐφορῶντα, εἰ δὲ µή, τοῖς ἀδεκαστότερον ἐξηγουµένοις προσέχοντα καὶ οὓς εἰκάσειεν ἄν τις ἥκιστα πρὸς χάριν ἢ ἀπέχθειαν ἀφαιρήσειν ἢ προσθήσειν τοῖς γεγονόσιν. κἀνταῦθα ἤδη καὶ στοχαστικός τις καὶ συνθετικὸς τοῦ πιθανωτέρου. 68 Woodman, Rhetoric, chap. 2; Marincola, Authority and Tradition, 158–74. 69 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 8: ἀνέγκλητον δὲ καὶ καθαρὰν τὴν προαίρεσιν ἀπὸ παντὸς φθόνου καὶ πάσης κολακείας φυλάττων. 70 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 46; Cf. Plutarch, On the Malice of Thucydides 2. As Antonios Rengakos and Antonios Tsakmakis, “Introduction,” in Brill’s Companion to Thucydides, ed. Antonios Rengakos and Antonios Tsakmakis (Leiden: Brill, 2006), xviii, point out, there is no scholarly consensus on whether Thucydides fairly portrays Kleon. 19
Beirut (fl. 117-138 A.D.) accused Thucydides of unfairly portraying Harmodios and Aristogeiton because he was a Peisistratid.71 Others accused him of glossing over the shameful death of the sophist Antiphon out of affection for his former teacher, whose bones were thrown out of Athens after his execution in 411 B.C.72
The majority of these criticisms, we can probably safely disregard. But regardless of whether we afford much credit to them today, they had a profound impact on the interpretation of
Thucydides in the ancient world. Writing roughly one hundred years after Dionysios of
Halikarnassos, Josephos (37-c. 100 A.D.) in his essay Against Apion thoroughly criticizes Greek historiography for its widespread inconsistencies and lies. Not even Thucydides, whom Josephos imitated in both his Jewish Antiquities and Jewish Wars,73 escaped criticism. As he writes,
"Some even accuse Thucydides of telling many lies even though he seem to have written a most precise account of his time."74 Josephos recognized that Thucydides may have lied, but he certainly had written a most probable history that seemed like it should be true.
Of course, Thucydides had his defenders. Both Plutarch and Lucian hold the historian up as an example of how to write history without bias.75 But one suspects that their views would have
71 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 18; Scholia to Thucydides 1.20.2. In the ancient world, scholars believed Thucydides was descended from Miltiades and thus a Peisistratid. 72 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 22. 73 There is ample scholarship on Josephos' imitation of Thucydides. For some recent studies, see Gottfried Mader, Josephus and the Politics of Historiography: Apologetic and Impression Management in the Bellum Judaicum (Leiden: Brill, 2000); Jonathan Price, “Josephus’ Reading of Thucydides: A Test Case in the BJ,” in Thucydides, a Violent Teacher?: History and Its Representations, ed. Georg Rechenauer and Vassiliki Pothou (Göttingen: V & R Unipress, 2011), 79–98. 74 Josephos, Against Apion 1.18: πολλὰ δὲ καὶ Θουκυδίδης ὡς ψευδόµενος ὑπό τινων κατηγορεῖται καίτοι δοκῶν ἀκριβεστάτην τὴν καθ’ αὑτὸν ἱστορίαν συγγράφειν. 75 Plutarch, On the Malice of Herodotus 2-5; Lucian, How to write history 42. 20
been considered marginal or even naive. Scholars too often forget that it was the Hermippos's, the author of a commentary to Thucydides, who taught students the meaning of Thucydides and not necessarily the Plutarch's or Lucian's. In the rhetorical tradition, Thucydides might be highly esteemed by some as the least biased historian, but he was nonetheless thoroughly flawed.76 His narrative was the gold standard for probability with regard to narration, but the character of the historian impugned their veracity.
Besides narration, Thucydides was also widely used in the ekphrasis exercise. Throughout the progymnasmata, his ekphraseis of places such as Chimerion (1.46.3-5) and events such as the
Athenian plague (2.47-55), siege of Plataia (2.75-8), and night battle at Epipolai (7.43-4) were widely admired.77 Ekphrasis built on narration, as ekphrasis is simply a narration in which creating rhetorical vividness (ἐναργεῖα) and putting the event before the viewer's eyes are the ultimate aims.78 These effects are thus an important part of creating probability and verisimilitude.79 As narratives characterized by probability and rhetorical vividness, Thucydides' ekphraseis came to define what an event such as plague looked like for later generations of historians and their audiences. Later imitators of Thucydides such as Tacitus, Julius Caesar,
Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Cassius Dio, Appian, and Prokopios would craft historical
76 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 26-7, contends that Thucydides abstained from bias and was a faithful servant of the truth, showing no malice to Brasidas or Kleon. But note Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 46, accuses Thucydides of the same problem. Thus, the first text quoted probably represents the views of earlier scholars. 77 Chimerion: Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 37; Plague and Plataia: Theon, Progymnasmata, 68; Epipolai: Theon, Progymnasmata, 119; Pseudo-Hermogenes, Progymnasmata, 22; Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 37. 78 For a full overview of the relationship of the two, see Ruth Webb, Ekphrasis, Imagination and Persuasion in Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Practice (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), chap. 3. Pseudo-Hermogenes, Progymnasmata, 23, notes that there were some orators who did not think ekphrasis was separate from narration or other progymnasmata exercises. 79 Anonymus Seguerianus, 96: συνεργεῖ δὲ πρὸς πειθὼ καὶ ἡ ἐνάργεια. ἔστι δὲ ἐνάργεια λόγος ὑπ’ ὄψιν ἄγων τὸ δηλούµενον. 21
narratives, relying on Thucydides' true-to-life ekphraseis to persuade, manipulate, and entertain their readers.80
But while historians qua rhetoricians saw the value of Thucydides for history, rhetoricians' teachings naturally encouraged a certain distrust of Thucydides among ancient scientists. As rhetorical training was a necessary first step to more advanced studies, men of science understood some of the problems associated with using historical texts. Let us take the
Thucydidean plague as an example. Many ancient authors imitated or compared Thucydides' plague with the plagues that beset them, as it was the canon of what a plague should look like.81
However, standard medical texts on plague such as Rouphos of Ephesos (late 1st c. A.D.) pay no mind to Thucydides and apparently saw nothing of medical value in his narration of events.82
Galen, who wrote a now lost essay on Thucydides' plague, succinctly summarizes the problem with Thucydides in his treatise On Difficulties of Breathing.83 He labels Thucydides a layman writing for laymen unlike Hippocrates, an expert (τεχνικός) writing for experts. Thucydides describes the plague at length, but his treatment overlooks those elements key to making an
"expert and precise diagnosis (τεχνικὴν δὲ πάνυ καὶ ἀκριβῆ τὴν διάγνωσιν)," which Hippocrates the expert spots.84 Thucydides thus offers only a narrative (ἱστορίαν) of the event rather than a truly valuable medical observation.85 The rhetorical training of Rome's elite thus set them up to
80 See chapter 3.2. 81 E.g., Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History 4.29; On Galen's comparison of the Antonine plague with Thucydides, see F. Kudlien, “Galens Urteil über die Thukydideische Pestbeschreibung,” Episteme 5 (1971): 132–33. 82 Rouphos’ description of plague became the canonical text on plague by Late Antiquity. It survives in Oreibasios, Synopsis to his son Eustathios 44.14. 83 On Galen's view of Thucydides, see Kudlien, “Galens Urteil.” 84 Galen, De difficultate respirationis (ed. Kuhn) 7.850. 85 Galen, In Hippocratis librum de articulis (ed. Kuhn) 18.729. 22
appreciate the limitations and rhetoricity of history in a way that modern scholars have only begun to appreciate. It is only relatively recently with the downfall of empiricism and the linguistic turn in historical studies that scholars have focused not on the clinical value of
Thucydides' plague account, but the rhetoric of his account, demonstrating how the historian rhetorically exaggerates and transforms reality to fit the needs of his historical narrative.86
B. Herodotus and the Mythical Approach to History
Among progymnasmata writers, Herodotus enjoyed a mixed reception. Theon greatly admired
Herodotus' argumentative abilities. As an example of a refutation or confirmation that students might read, Theon cites many passages from Thucydides and Herodotus,87 but Herodotus' account of the Peleiades (2.54-7) especially elicited comment. The priestesses of Apollo at
Dodona contended that their rites had been founded when a black dove flew to Dodona and proclaimed that an oracle was to be founded there. Herodotus, however, had learned of a story from the Egyptians that the so-called doves were actually women and hence Herodotus attempts to euhemerize the story, proving how linguistic misunderstandings lead to the women being remembered as doves. In this instance, Theon highlights Herodotus' ability to refute a story and trace it back to its origins.88
86 J. Bellemore and I. M. Plant, “Thucydides, Rhetoric and Plague in Athens,” Athenaeum 82 (1994): 385–401; T. Morgan, “Plague or Poetry? Thucydides on the Epidemic at Athen,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 124 (1994): 197–209; Jennifer Manley, “Measles and Ancient Plagues: A Note on New Scientific Evidence,” Classical World 107 (2014): 393–97; David M. Morens and Robert J. Littman, “Epidemiology of the Plague of Athens,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 122 (1992): 271–304. 87 Theon, Progymnasmata, 67, 95. 88 Theon, Progymnasmata, 95 23
However, while rhetors such as Theon might admire Herodotus' argumentative abilities, they often indirectly or directly criticize him for including mythical fictitious content when they draw on his material. For example, Theon draws on Herodotus for the fable exercise (µῦθος), employing his narrative of Kleobis and Biton (1.31). Other progymnasmata writers used
Herodotus for a mix of exercises such as narration and refutation. Among the surviving sample progymnasmata attributed to Libanios, there are short narrations of Polykrates, Arion, and
Kandaules, which briefly retell the Herodotean story.89 The progymnasmata attributed to
Nikolaos include a refutation of the Kandaules narrative.90 Sometimes, these narrative and refutation were even used in conjunction. For example, Pseudo-Hermogenes proposes
Herodotus' story of Arion (1.24) as a narration but then subsequently refutes it as impossible and implausible.91 Thus, for students beginning their rhetorical training, Herodotus was often an author to either rewrite or ultimately refute.
Since Pseudo-Hermogenes only hints at how to refute Herodotus, it is worth looking at the fully developed exercise attributed to the rhetor Nikolaos to see how this was done in practice. When writing a refutation according to Aphthonios, whose precepts Pseudo-Nikolaos seems to generally follow,92 a student should attack the author of the story and then refute the story on the grounds that it is unclear, improbable, impossible, illogical, unseemly, or disadvantageous.93
Pseudo-Nikolaos accordingly begins his refutation with an attack on Herodotus' credibility:
89 Libanios, Progymnasmata, Narration 11, 16, 29. 90 Pseudo Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 287. 91 Pseudo-Hermogenes, Progymnasmata, 4, 11. The theme was the subject of refutation by Theon, Progymnasmata 93. John of Sardis, possibly drawing on a late antique progymnasmata handbook, also includes a refutation: Progymnasmata 73, 77. 92 Gibson Craig, “The Alexandrian Tychaion and the Date of Ps.-Nicolaus Progymnasmata,” Classical Quarterly 59 (2009): 609. 93 Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 10. 24
Πρότερον µὲν ἔγωγε πολὺ τὸ σεµνὸν ἡγούµην συγγραφέων καὶ ποιητῶν, νῦν δὲ µοι δοκεῖ
οὐδὲν ποιητῶν διενηνοχέναι Ἡρόδοτον· το µὲν γὰρ συγγράφειν ἐστὶ πρὸς ἀλήθειαν,
ποιεῖν δὲ πρὸς µύθους· ὁ δ᾽ ἑκατέρας τέχνης τοὺς ὅρους συγχέων, οὔτε τοῦ µέτρου
φυλάττει τὴν χάριν, οὔτε τῆς συγγραφῆς τἀληθὲς συνετήρησε, καὶ πολλῶν µὲν ἄν τις
αὐτὸν αἰτιάσαιτο, µάλιστα δὲ ὧν περὶ Κανδαύλην µεµυθολόγηκεν
I used to think highly of the difference between historians and poets, but now I
think that there is no difference between Herodotus and poets. Writing history aims
at truth, whereas poetry aims at myth. Herodotus has confused the boundaries of
both arts, since he neither preserves the grace of meter nor maintains the truth of
history. There are many things for which one might accuse him, but his tale of
Kandaules is an example of when he has essentially told a myth.94
In what follows, the author briefly summarizes Herodotus' story of Kandaules (1.7-12). Then he turns to the story and attacks it for a number of reasons that range from puerile to clever. For example, the author questions how Kandaules, the Lydian king, could have slipped Gyges into his wife's bedroom when the palace was full of guards, as if a king does not have absolute power.
On a cleverer note, the author rightly scrutinizes the meaning of Herodotus 1.8.1 (οὗτος δὴ ὦν ὁ
Κανδαύλης ἠράσθη τῆς ἑωυτοῦ γυναικός). What does it mean for Kandaules to fall in love
(ἠράσθη) with his own wife in the middle of the narrative? Did Kandaules not lust for her before he married her? Doesn’t marriage dull lust anyway? Why would he suddenly fall in love with
94 Pseudo Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 287. 25
her? Nevertheless, Pseudo-Nikolaos was ultimately a product of his times. When he challenges the credibility of Kandaules' wife offering Gyges the crown on the grounds that it was not hers to give, he indignantly wonders how Herodotus could have upset the natural political state. In his
Roman mindset, "The people and cities choose kings. I do not know how Herodotus thought that his wife could choose the king and offer him a station (τυχὴν), which the whole army did not grant him."95 It seems that Herodotus was unaware of the elective model of monarchy then prevalent in the late Roman period.
But to return to the point from which I have digressed, this refutation exercise follows an established pattern of borrowing narratives from Herodotus and then refuting them. Admittedly, this exercise was only that. Its attack on Herodotus was dictated by the requirements of the refutation exercise. But it is nevertheless culturally significant that rhetors chose to refute
Herodotus. When they picked stories for refutation and confirmation, the narrations were meant to be ambiguous, so that students could both prove and disprove the veracity of a story.96
However, no one ever seems to have written a confirmation of any story in Herodotus. For example, Pseudo-Nikolaos provides a refutation and confirmation of the myths of Pasiphae,
Niobe, and Medea.97 However, he declines to argue for the validity of the Herodotean story or
Herodotus' strength as a historian.
Indeed, Herodotus' preponderance for myth instilled in exercises like the progymnasmata often translated into how people appreciated his style. A number of ancient authors highlighted the
95 Pseudo-Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 288. 96 Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 10; Pseudo-Hermogenes, Progymnasmata, 10. 97 Pseudo-Nikolaos, Progymnasmata, 298-301, 307-310 (Pasiphae); 304-7, 310-2 (Niobe); 301-4, 312-4 (Medea). 26
merriment (εὐφροσύνη) or delight (delectatio), which readers derive from reading Herodotus.98
When Quintilian and Dionysios of Halikarnassos compared the style of Thucydides with
Herodotus, Herodotus wins the prize for pleasure (voluptas, ἡδονή).99 Eventually, Hermogenes of Tarsus made Herodotus synonymous with the sweet style (γλυκύτης) in his treaty On the
Forms of Style. Here he defines sweetness in part by its introduction of mythical or near mythical material to a discourse in order to delight a reader, citing Herodotus as a key example of this style.100 When Hermogenes' stylistic system became preeminent in late antiquity, Herodotus and sweetness became inseparably linked. A number of late antique authors such as the orators
Prokopios of Gaza and Himerios (4th c. A.D.) drew inspiration from the 'charm' or 'sweetness' of
Thus, within the rhetorical tradition, Herodotus never really managed to escape the notion that he was a mythographer rather than a historian. Basic rhetorical exercises encouraged students to criticize his mythical material, while ancient stylistics defined him by his use of myth. This is not to say that there were not rhetors such as Theon who thought students could learn from
Herodotus about proving or disproving stories. However, generally speaking, rhetors seem to have turned these lessons against Herodotus. In this regard, they were only following in the footsteps of earlier classical and Hellenistic readers of Herodotus such as Ktesias of Knidos and
98 Dion Chrysostomos, Oration 18.10; Cicero, Orator 39; Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Imitation 2.3.1-3; Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 10.1.73. 99 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Imitation 2.3.1-3; Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 10.1.73. 100 Hermogenes, On Style, 330. 101 Prokopios of Gaza, Letter 161; Pseudo-Basil of Kaisareia, Life and Miracles of Saint Thecla, 2.proem; Himerios, Oration 46, ll. 306-7. 27
Hecataios of Abdera who often silently used the historian, but openly excoriated him for telling falsehoods and myths.102 Rhetorical practice developed out of this tradition and perpetuated it.
In the ancient schools, students were thus taught to evaluate the truth of an ancient historian based on the probability and credibility of his narrative. Thucydides with his rhetorically effective prose was generally thought credible, while Herodotus was read so as to be challenged and refuted for his mythic content. In addition, the exercises and biases handed down in rhetorical schools often informed later writers, providing them with a pool of source material upon which to draw when necessary. For example, Thucydides' biographer Markellinos, echoing
Thucydides 1.22, promotes Thucydides' concern for the the truth by attacking those authors who made the pleasure (ἡδονή) of their narrative a concern. Chief of these is naturally Herodotus who is rebuked for including falsehoods such as the story of Arion's lyre.103 As we have seen above, this example was typical fare for the refutation exercise. Throughout antiquity, this exercise took on a life of its own in the scholarly literature. For example, Plutarch's essay On the Malignity of
Herodotus or Libanios' lost monograph refuting Herodotus could simply considered a development of this rhetorical trend. Rhetorical schools not only fostered people's later views of a historian, but provided them with a fixed set of examples to prove that view and a prototype for later scholarly production.
4. When did students read Thucydides and Herodotus?
102 Simon Hornblower, “Herodotus’ influence in antiquity,” in The Cambridge Companion to Herodotus, ed. Carolyn Dewald and John Marincola (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 309–13. 103 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 49. 28
Although some rhetors such as Theon or Pseudo-Hermogenes drew heavily on Herodotus and
Thucydides from the earliest stages of a student's training, it bears emphasis that the ancient school system was not uniform.104 The school of Libanios at Antioch offers a test case for when and how students confronted Herodotus and Thucydides, as a large corpus of his letters, orations, progymnasmata, and declamations related to his school survive. As with all the teachers of rhetoric studied here, it is impossible to say exactly what Libanios' curriculum would have looked like. We know from his orations and letters that Libanios, unlike some other sophists, was emphatic about reading classic ancient authors in order to learn rhetoric.105 Even years after his students had left his school, he would recommend that they continually read the classics in order to maintain what they had learned.106 Libanios himself tells us that he used to do something like this with Thucydides. He had his own portable copy of Thucydides that he would carry around with him everywhere and read before it was stolen, only to resurface in class one day when one of his assistants spotted it.107
In a school setting, Libanios read a number of ancient authors with his students in small reading circles, which he or an assistant led. His students’ bread and butter consisted of Homer, Plato, and Demosthenes.108 For example, in a letter to the father of a boy who was removing his son from his classes because he thought it was high time that his son join the imperial service,
Libanios reprimands the boy’s father for taking his son away from Homer, Demosthenes, and
104 A point emphatically made by Morgan, Literate Education. 105 Kennedy, Greek Rhetoric, 163. 106 Cribiore, The School, 153. 107 Libanios, Oration 2.148-150. 108 Raffaella Cribiore, “The rhetorical context: traditions and opportunities,” in Libanius: A Critical Introduction, ed. Lieve van Hoof (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 76; Cribiore, The School, chap. 5. 29
Plato and replacing them with horses and chariot races.109 Libanios' emphasis on these authors apparently bordered on excessive for some students. One student and his pedagogue became so dissatisfied with Libanios that they decided to leave his school, complaining about how much time they spent every day reading Demosthenes and Homer.110 Indeed, Libanios is credited with hypotheses to Demosthenes, which discuss the issues at stake in each speech.111
When would Libanios' students have encountered Herodotus and Thucydides? Libanios' surviving progymnasmata suggest that students may have begun reading them when they started composing progymnasmata, though this would have been at the tail end of the process. His progymnasmata presuppose a certain familiarity with big names and events from the Persian
Wars, such as Themistokles, Xerxes, and the Delphic prophecy about the wooden wall from an early stage, suggesting students read Herodotus early on.112 But in general, most of his progymnasmata that do not deal with generic topics handle material from Homer, such as a confirmation that the rage of Achilles actually was probable (Confirmation 3), or else their themes are pulled from Demosthenes, such as a comparison of Aeschines and Demosthenes
(Comparison 3).113 In all of his authentic progymnasmata, Libanios cites Thucydides only once, in his invective against poverty. Running through a catalogue of ancient writers who have described poverty, Libanios mentions Thucydides' account of archaic Greece's poverty (1.2).114
109 Libanios, Letter 910. 110 Libanios, Oration 34.15. 111 Libanios, Hypotheses to Demosthenes. 112 Libanios, Encomium 5.17 (Demosthenes); Invective 5.17 (Wealth); Anecdote 4.10 (Theophrastos, upon being asked what love is, said, “the passion of an idle soul.”). 113 Raffaella Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 221. 114 Libanios, Invective 6.3. 30
The way in which Libanios introduces Thucydides' account (Θουκυδίδου δὲ ἀκούεις λέγοντος) suggests that students had only begun reading the ancient historian at this point. Yet his citation is drawn from the very beginning of Book 1, so students may not have gotten very far in their reading.
Libanios' emphasis on Herodotus early and Thucydides later seems to be reflect in what we find elsewhere. For example, the progymnasmata of Severos of Alexandria, who was possibly a student of Libanios,115 are entirely preoccupied with mythological, Homeric, and Demosthenic material.116 Aphthonios, also possibly a student of Libanios or at least a contemporary of
Libanios,117 concentrates on Thucydidean material in the latter half of the progymnasmata, devoting an encomium to Thucydides and later citing him for examples of other exercises such as ekphrasis.118 That this situation was probably widespread is evident from the surviving papyri- progymnasmata and declamations dating from the third century B.C. until the sixth century A.D.
Most of the surviving papyrus examples of these exercises are preoccupied with mythic and
Homeric material.119 Historical themes are rare and mostly draw upon material relating to
Demosthenes and Alexander.120 In general, students probably only began reading Thucydides
115 On Severos, see Otmar Schissel, “Severus von Alexandreia: Ein Verschollener Griechischer Schriftsteller Des IV. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. (I),” Byzantinisch-Neugriechisches Jahrbuch 8 (1930 1929): 1–13; Eugenio Amato, “An Unpublished Ethopoea of Severus of Alexandria,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 46 (2006): 63–72. The identity of Severos as a student of Libanios has been doubted on metrical grounds by Martin Steinruck, “Éthos et rythme chez Sévère d’Alexandrie,” in Ethopoiia: La représentation de caractères entre fiction scolaire et réalité vivante à l’époque impériale et tardive, ed. Eugenio Amato and Jacques Schamp (Salerno: Helios editrice, 2005), 156–62. 116 For a summary of Severos’s progymnasmata, see Eugenio Amato, Severus Sophista Alexandrinus. Progymnasmata Quae Exstant Omnia (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2009), ix, xlviii–ix. 117 Hugo Rabe, “Aus Rhetoren-Handschriften 2. Aphthonios Der Schüler Des Libanios.,” Rheinisches Museum Für Philologie 62 (1907): 262–64. An Aphthonius is the recipient of a letter from Libanios: Letter 1065. 118 Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 22-4 (encomium of Thucydides); 37 (ekphrasis of Chimerium, ekphrasis of a night battle (Thuc. 7.44). 119 Morgan, Literate Education, 218; Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind, 227. 7 120 Morgan, Literate Education, 220–21; Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind, 235. 31
near the tail end of their training in the progymnasmata, or when they started composing full- blown speeches during declamation.
5. Reading Thucydides in an ancient classroom
There were good reasons for delaying Thucydides until the latter half of the progymnasmata. As students progressed through these exercises, they were also increasingly learning about rhetorical theory. In the thesis exercise, which came second to last, students learned how to write a deliberative speech on a variety of issues such as whether one should should marry or not. The exercise was kept general, divorced of a specific historical context, but it prepared the way for how students would subsequently read Thucydides. Rhetors and their students read Thucydides for obvious historical and stylistic reasons. However, Thucydides' true value to orators-in- training was as a textbook of deliberative oratory in action. As they cut their teeth on the text, students analyzed it in light of the theoretical constructs that they were learning.
The scholia to Thucydides, which ultimately derive from at least late antiquity if not earlier,121 demonstrate how this was done in practice. Books 1-4 of Thucydides were picked over by ancient readers who broke most of his speeches down into their proem, arguments, and epilogue.
To illustrate this point, let us look at the rhetorical scholia to the Corinthians' speech urging war with Athens at the Spartan assembly (1.68-71):
121 On the date of the scholia, see Otto Luschnat, “Die Thukydidesscholien. Zu Ihrer Handschriftlichen Grundlage, Herkunft, Und Geschichte,” Philologus 98 (1954): 14–58. I plan to publish a separate study on the date and origin of the rhetorical scholia. 32
1.68.1: δηµηγορία Κορινθίων δʹ (The fourth speech of the Corinthians)
1.68.3: ἐντεῦθεν οἱ ἀγῶνες καὶ τὸ δίκαιον κεφάλαιον (From here on the arguments.
The heading is Justice)
1.71.4: οἱ ἐπίλογοι ἐντεῦθεν (From here on the epilogue)
But one of the most important parts of this process was determining which headings (κεφαλαῖα) came up in a speech. For many classicists and Byzantinists, what ancient rhetoricians meant by a heading may be unclear. In deliberative theory, a heading was essentially a question to consider when writing a speech. It is comparable to a stock issue in modern debate theory.122 A writer might ask whether the proposed course of action is just or advantageous. Known by one word monikers such as Justice or Advantage, identifying the headings in a speech meant deciding what were the most important issues and arguments in the debate.
Rhetorical theory was applied early on to classical texts. The scholia to Homer include fossilized fragments of the application of a variant of deliberative theory dateable to the second to first century B.C.123 The earliest dateable attempt to discover deliberative theory in Thucydides dates to Kassios Longinos (c. 213-273), who said according to a later epitomator, "There are a four headings in a speech before a public assembly (δηµηγορία), the same which come up in advisory speeches, namely Justice, Advantage, Feasibility, and Glory. He says that Thucydides observed
122 Ray Nadeau, “Hermogenes on ‘Stock Issues’ in Deliberative Speaking,” Speech Monographs 25 (1958): 59–66. 123 Malcolm Heath, “Stasis Theory in the Homeric Scholia,” Mnemosyne 46 (1993): 356–60. 33
these headings the best."124 However, this is not to say there were not earlier applications of theory to Thucydides, as I have highlighted in a separate study of the scholia to Thucydides.125 In ancient deliberative theory, which headings orators should employ was hotly contested throughout antiquity. For example, the scholia to Homer suggest using the headings Advantage,
Honor, and Necessity.126 Hermogenes of Tarsos, whose rhetorical approach became canonical in the Byzantine period, employed the headings Legality, Justice, Advantage, Feasibility, Glory, and Result.127 But after the second century A.D. and before the fifth century A.D., most rhetors preferred Legality, Justice, Advantage, Feasibility, and Glory/Appropriateness. The scholia to
Thucydides primarily employ only Justice, Advantage, and Feasibility.128 In the speech of the
Corinthians at Sparta cited above, scholiasts note Justice as the heading. While at first glance, this label might seem obscure, it is evident how Thucydides has thought about Justice throughout this speech. One of the major thrusts of the Corinthians' argument is to blame the Athenians for how they constructed and ran their empire. To this end, they point out all of the wrongs committed by the Athenians, such as how they supported Kerkyra and are now besieging
Naturally, determining how scholiasts identified the headings of speeches in Thucydides is fraught with difficulties. Occasionally, the scholiasts themselves are even at loggerheads with
124 Kassios Longinos, Excerpta 15: Ὅτι τὰ κεφάλαια τῆς δηµηγορίας τέτταρα λέγει εἶναι, ὅσαπερ καὶ καθάπαξ εἴωθεν ἐµπίπτειν εἰς τὰς συµβουλάς, τὸ δίκαιον τὸ συµφέρον τὸ δυνατὸν τὸ ἔνδοξον, ταῦτα δ’ ἄριστα τὸν Θουκυδίδην φησὶ φυλάξαι. 125 See Kennedy, forthcoming. 126 Scholia to Homer's Iliad 9.282: εἰς δύο στάσεις διεῖλε τὸν λόγον, τὴν παρορµητικήν, τραγῳδήσας τὰς συµφοράς, εἰς τὸ καλὸν καὶ ἀναγκαῖον καὶ συµφέρον ποιήσας τὴν παρόρµησιν... 127 Hermogenes, On Issues, 76. 128 See Kennedy, forthcoming. 129 Thucydides, Histories 1.68.3-4. 34
one another about how to treat a speech.130 Fortunately, the scholiasts occasionally elucidate their thought process. At Thucydides 3.9, the beginning of the Mytileneans' speech in defense of their revolt from Athens before the Spartans at Olympia (3.9-14), the anonymous scholiast notes:
διαιρεῖται ἡ δηµηγορία αὕτη κεφαλαίοις· τῷ δικαίῳ, [οἷον] ὅτι δικαίως ἀπέστηµεν·
τῷ δυνατῷ, ὅτι δυνατὰ παρακαλοῦµεν (ἐφθαρµένοι γάρ εἰσι τῇ νόσῳ καὶ ἡ δύναµις
αὐτῶν ἐς πολλὰ διῄρηται)· τῷ συµφέροντι, ὅτι λυσιτελεῖ δύναµιν καταδέξασθαι
πόρρωθεν ἰσχύουσαν καὶ τὰς ἀπὸ τῶν συµµάχων Ἀθηναίοις παραγινοµένας
προσόδους δυναµένην κωλῦσαι.
This speech is divided into the following headings: Justice, e.g., we have justly
revolted; Feasibility, e.g., what we request is feasible, since the Athenians are
devastated by disease and their power is divided in many ways; Advantage, e.g., it
is advantageous to welcome a power which is strong, far away, and capable of
stopping the Athenians from receiving revenue from their allies.
In their speech, the Mytileneans try to convince Sparta to join them in an alliance against Athens.
At this point in the war, Mytilene is in a precarious position. It is far from the main theater of war and has shown itself untrustworthy by revolting against Athens. As the ancient commentator has noted, one of the ways in which they can overcome potential Spartan revulsion at an alliance with them is to prove the justness of their revolt. To this end, the Mytileneans protest that they joined the Delian league because they wanted to fight Persia, not other Greeks. When the
130 Scholia to Thucydides 4.59.1; 4.92.1. 35
Athenians began subjugating members of the league, it was only a matter of time before they tried to enslave Mytilene. Thus, Mytilene revolted to preempt the Athenians from extending their unjust control over Lesbos. Next, the Mytileneans note the feasibility of their request.
Hermogenes says that in war-time scenarios, the heading Feasibility consists of analyzing the attributes of the parties involved in the case, such as their moral, international, financial, and military position.131 The Mytileneans do precisely this, pointing to how Athens' ships are scattered across the Aegean, its finances depleted, and its population devastated by plague.132
The scholiast's explanation of Advantage succinctly summarizes how the Mytileneans elaborate this heading of their argument. But the scholiast does only partially handle Hermogenes' twofold division of advantage into usefulness and necessity.133 The scholiast highlights the usefulness portion of the Mytileneans' argument, but overlooks necessity. The Mytileneans stress the necessity of Sparta allying itself with Mytilene by pointing out that Mytilene conquered will be one more foe to fight, while Mytilene as an ally can offer crucial ships against the Athenians.134
Thus, the Spartans have to help Mytilene if they want to avoid that outcome.
As they applied rhetorical theory to the scholia, ancient rhetors noted a number of argumentative patterns in Thucydides that modern scholars have only relatively recently rediscovered. By reading Thucydides in light of deliberary theory as explained in the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum
(4th century B.C.), scholars such as Colin Macleod, Simon Hornblower, David Cohen, and
George Kennedy have seen Thucydides’ speeches turning on a strict dichotomy of arguments
131 Hermogenes, On Issues, 78. 132 Thucydides, Histories 3.13 133 Hermogenes, On Issues, 77. 134 Thucydides, Histories 3.14. 36
based on themes such as justice and expediency.135 Take for example, the Kerkyrean debate
(1.32-43). In this debate, the Kerkyreans speak to the self-interest of the Athenians offering them a profitable alliance, while the Corinthians appeal to justice, asking the the Athenians to respect their existing alliance.136 While proffering a valuable observation on Thucydidean historiography, modern scholars have simply discovered what ancient scholars already knew about Thucydidean historiography while applying a similar version of deliberative theory.
Regarding the Kerkyrean debate, the scholia note:
ἡ τοῦ Κερκυραίου δηµηγορία µᾶλλον τὸ συµφέρον προβάλλεται ἤπερ τὸ δίκαιον,
ἡ δὲ τοῦ Κορινθίου µᾶλλον τὸ δίκαιον ἤπερ τὸ συµφέρον.
The Keyrkyrean speech focuses more on expediency than justice, while the
Corinthian presents justice more than expediency.137
If scholars continue to pursue this fruitful line of study in the future, the scholia can be a valuable source on which to base further analysis. They can even check modern scholars, since ancient critics did not always agree with each other on whether there was such a sharp divide between justice and expediency in Thucydides’ speeches.138
135 George Alexander Kennedy, “Focusing of Arguments in Greek Deliberative Oratory,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 90 (1959): 131; Macleod, “Form and Meaning in the Melian Dialogue,” 390; David Cohen, “Justice, Interest, and Political Deliberation in Thucydides,” Quaderni Urbinati Di Cultura Classica 16 (1984): 35–60; Hornblower, Thucydides, 75; Christina Pepe, The Genres of Rhetorical Speeches in Greek and Roman Antiquity (Leiden, 2013), 35. This is by no means a complete listing of all the scholarship on this issue. 136 As demonstrated by Kennedy, “Focusing of Arguments”; Macleod, “Form and Meaning in the Melian Dialogue”; Cohen, “Justice, Interest, and Political Deliberation in Thucydides.” 137 Scholia to Thucydides 1.32.1. 138 E.g., Scholia to Thucydides 1.33.2, note both expediency and justice in the speech of the Kerkyreans. 37
Through these rhetorical scholia, we can sit in on a day in the class of a rhetor who was reading
Thucydides with his students in perhaps the second to fourth centuries A.D. Slowly but surely, the class would read through the text with the teacher. Whether students had their own copy of
Thucydides is unknown. Presumably some did, some did not. As we have seen above, Libanios' student unknowingly acquired his master's copy and brought it to class. In any case, the teacher would explain and elucidate difficult words and constructions for students. When they reached a speech, this was where students were called upon to apply what they were learning. They might have broken the speech down into its components, noting the proem, arguments, and epilogue.
They would also have applied rhetorical theory, noting for example which headings came up in a speech.
6. What parts of Thucydides and Herodotus did schools read?
After a while, reading Thucydides probably became quite repetitive, as all of Thucydides' speeches with the exception of the funeral oration are deliberative.139 It should therefore not surprise us that rhetorical commentary to his speeches grinds to a halt after Book 4. There is a stray comment here and there, but by and large rhetors did not have anything to say about speeches in later books.140 Having read half of Thucydides, they and their students must have tired of the humdrum of one deliberative speech after another and felt by this point that their students had been sufficiently exposed to Thucydides' style and speeches. In fact, a scholion appended at the end of Book 4, which perhaps derives from the rhetor Antyllos (2nd-3rd century
139 As noted by Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 42. 140 E.g., Scholia to Thucydides 7.14. 38
A.D.?),141 offers what are a teacher's final remarks on Thucydides. After addressing the issue of how many books Thucydides wrote, the author describes his style and literary influences, thus concluding students' study of Thucydides.142 This manner of reading Thucydides seems to have been widespread. Around the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century, Aphthonios' progymnasmata include an encomium of Thucydides which may have served as an overview of what students would read about in Thucydides. The text runs through major events and speeches in Thucydides, but the latest events mentioned are the battles of Sphakteria and Pylos (4.8-41).143
Thus, the way in which the ancients read a historian such as Thucydides or Herodotus tended to be only partial. Craig Gibson's study of ancient progymnasmata treatises notes that Thucydides
Books 1-3 and Herodotus Books 1-2 were the source of most ancient rhetors' examples.144
Similarly, J. Carlos Iglesias-Zoido's study of Thucydides in imperial-age rhetoric highlights rhetors' focus on Books 1-3.145 The surviving papyri of Thucydides and Herodotus also attest to these biases, as demonstrated by the following tables:
141 Frans Goslings, Observationes ad scholia in Thucydidem (Leiden, 1874), 55–56.. On Antyllos and his date, see Luigi Piccirilli, Storie dello storico Tucidide (Genova: Il Melangolo, 1985), 96–97. 142 Scholia to Thucydides 4.135: ἰστέον ὅτι εἰς τὸ κοµψὸν τῆς φράσεως Θουκυδίδης Αἰσχύλον καὶ Πίνδαρον ἐµιµήσατο, εἰς δὲ τὸ γόνιµον τῶν ἐνθυµηµάτων τὸν ἑαυτοῦ διδάσκαλον Ἀντιφῶντα, εἰς δὲ τὴν λέξιν Πρόδικον, ὅθεν καὶ Προδίκου λέξεις ἐν τῷ κειµένῳ σηµειούµεθα, εἰς δὲ τὸ γνωµικὸν τοὺς Σωκρατικούς, Εὐριπίδην καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους (τοῖς γὰρ αὐτοῖς χρόνοις ἦσαν), εἰς δὲ τὴν οἰκονοµίαν τὸν ποιητήν ABCF 143 Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 23-4. 144 Gibson, “Learning Greek History,” 116 n. 59. 145 Iglesias-Zoido, “Thucydides in the School Rhetoric,” 395, 404–5. 39
Figure 1: The Survival of Thucydides on papyrus
Number of Number Occurences 5
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Book Number
Figure 2: The Survival of Herodotus on papyrus
Number of Number Occurences 6
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Book Number
Both historians were quite popular throughout late antiquity, especially during the first to third centuries A.D. However, Thucydides Books 1-3 and 7-8 and Herodotus Books 1-2 survive in the greatest quantity, indicating that these books were more likely to be read.146 The rhetorical scholia to Thucydides attest to this bias and perhaps partially help to explain it.
Keeping this reading pattern in mind can also illuminate our understanding of ancient intertextuality, since Thucydides was so widely quoted and imitated by littérateurs of the Second
Sophistic and Late Antiquity. There is a strand of older scholarship, which alleged that authors such as Lucian, Prokopios, and Agathias only partially knew their Thucydides, deriving their knowledge of him from limited reading and rhetorical collections of topoi.147 For example,
Graham Anderson suggested that Lucian's knowledge of Thucydides was superficial, confined to rhetorical topoi and the first few books.148 In a similar vein, J.A.S. Evans suggested that because most of the Prokopios' references to Thucydides come from Books 1-4, rhetors in the era of
Justinian were only reading the first four books of Thucydides.149 In more recent years, scholars have generally pushed back against such claims. But collectively, their claims are not entirely
146 Stephanie West, “The Papyri of Herodotus,” in Culture in Pieces: Essays on Ancient Texts in Honour of Peter Parsons, ed. Dirl Obbink and R. B. Rutherford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 71–72; Natascia Pellé, in Proceedings of the 25th International Congress of Papyrology Ann Arbor, July 29 - August 4, 2007, ed. Traianos Gagos and Adam Hyatt (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Library, 2010), 599. 147 J. A. S Evans, Procopius (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972), 129; Graham Anderson, “Lucian’s Classics: Some Shortcuts to Culture,” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, no. 23 (1976): 65; Averil Cameron, Agathias. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 62. 148 Anderson, “Lucian’s Classics,” 65. 149 Evans, Procopius, 129. 41
wrong and to a degree vindicated by understanding how rhetors were reading Thucydides with their students. Rhetors' emphasis on the first half of Thucydides and his speeches meant that these were the parts of Thucydides that their students knew well. They formed part of the educated class's common cultural literacy. Undoubtedly, there were those who read Thucydides in full, but when people later referenced or imitated Thucydides, it was only natural that they returned to what they and their audience had studied. One might compare the situation to the average educated American's knowledge of Shakespeare's corpus. There are many who might catch a reference to Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, but exceedingly few for whom an allusion to one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays such as Henry VIII would resonate.
7. Pedagogical Myths and Thucydides
As Thucydides was increasingly used in rhetorical schools, it was only natural that later generations invented pedagogical myths to explain and justify their appropriation of Thucydides.
Scholars have long noted that from the Hellenistic age onward ancient scholars inferred biographical details from the texts that they were studying, but less emphasis has been placed on the practical context in which these stories were invented.150 What purpose did these myths serve? In Thucydides' case, one can trace how rhetoricians increasingly appropriated the text for their classroom and worked out the relationship between historian and rhetorician.
150 On the invention of biographical stories, see Arnaldo Momigliano, The Development of Greek Biography (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 69–71. For Thucydides in particular, see Judith Maitland, “‘Marcellinus’’ Life of Thucydides: Criticism and Criteria in the Biographical Tradition,” Classical Quarterly 46 (1996): 538. 42
Take for example ancient discussions of Thucydides' intellectual influences. We know from
Dionysios of Halikarnassos that Thucydides was widely admired by earlier rhetors and philosophers.151 Although their work has almost completely perished, we can perhaps discern fragments of earlier traditions preserved in other fragments. According to Markellinos' biography of Thucydides, the rhetor Antyllos (2nd-3rd c. A.D.?) held that Thucydides studied with the pre-
Socratic philosopher Anaxagoras and the sophist Antiphon, acquiring the former's atheistic worldview and the latter's cleverness in speaking.152 It is impossible to be certain, but perhaps
Antyllos preserves here the results of earlier examinations of Thucydides in philosophical schools, which noticed his similarities with Anaxagoras just like modern scholars.153 Whatever the case may be, Thucydides' relationship with Antiphon was of greater concern to later rhetoricians. In subsequent centuries, biographers of Thucydides such as Hesychios of Miletos
(6th c. A.D.) and the anonymous biography of Thucydides gradually eliminated or simply forgot traditions about Thucydides' philosophical education. They only note his rhetorical education, noting like Antyllos that Thucydides was the student of the sophist Antiphon, or as they title him
But Thucydides' relationship with Antiphon and the nature of influence was far from settled in the ancient world. We find the earliest dateable attempt to link Antiphon and Thucydides in
151 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 8, 37, 50-2. 152 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 22. 153 On the relationship between Thucydides and Anaxagoras, see Emmanuel Golfin, “Thucydide et Anaxagore ou une origine philosophique à la pensée de l’historien?,” Dialogues d’histoire ancienne 33 (2007): 35–56; Charles Mugler, “Sur la méthode de Thucydide,” Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé 10 (1951): 20–51. 154 Tryphon, On Tropes, 281; Scholia to Thucydides 4.135; Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 2; Suda, theta 721. The Suda's entry on Thucydides most likely derives from a collection of biographies assembled by Hesychios of Miletos in the sixth century A.D. On Hesychios, see, Anthony Kaldellis, “The Works and Days of Hesychios the Illoustrios of Miletos,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 45 (2005): 381–403. 43
Dionysios of Halikarnassos who simply notes the stylistic similarities between them.155 But given Thucydides' high praise for Antiphon as an orator (8.68), ancient scholars imagined a close relationship between Antiphon and Thucydides.156 For example, the critic Kaikilios of Kaleakte
(1st c. B.C.) tells us that Thucydides was Antiphon's teacher, while Aristeides records that
Thucydides was a companion (ἑταῖρος) of Antiphon.157 Eventually, however, subsequent biographers of Thucydides worked out the direction of intellectual exchange, and Thucydides was securely made Antiphon's student.
Thus, over time we can see how biography reflected the intellectual priorities of Thucydides' readers, who increasingly claimed Thucydides for the rhetor and only the rhetor. But more broadly speaking, one might also note the increasing subordination of history to rhetoric as reflected in these stories. The rhetor came to play an increasingly important role in the intellectual formation of the historian. Future historians studying with a rhetor might note that they were only following in Thucydides' footsteps.
As Thucydides came under increasing scrutiny by rhetoricians and was analyzed in light of deliberative theory, rhetoricians granted Thucydides a special hallowed status as an inventor and innovator in their field. For Kassios Longinos, Thucydides was an example of his conception of
155 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On the Composition of Words 10. On modern attempts to link the two, see e.g., Hornblower, Thucydides, 107. 156 On Antiphon, see now Michael Gargarin, Antiphon the Athenian Oratory, Law, and Justice in the Age of the Sophists. (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2009). 157 Aristeides, On the Four, 131; Pseudo-Plutarch, Lives of the Ten Orators, 832E. Manuscripts of Plutarch read µαθητής, which scholars have corrected to καθηγητής due other reports that Thucydides was Antiphon's student. On the issue, see Piccirilli, Storie, 98–99. I, however, prefer the original reading, as ancient biographies are often confused and incorrect. 44
deliberative theory in action.158 Thucydides' biographer Markellinos took things a step further, attributing to Thucydides the invention of the speech before an assembly (δηµηγορία) complete with headings.159 The progymnasmata writer Aphthonios, who wrote an encomium of
Thucydides as a sample exercise, took matters a step further, crediting Thucydides with the invention of the rhetorical art. As he encomiazes:
Ἅπαντας µὲν οὖν τοὺς εὑρετὰς τιµᾶσθαι καλόν, τοσούτῳ δὲ µᾶλλον Θουκυδίδην
τῶν ἄλλων, ὅσῳ τῶν ἁπάντων εὗρε τὸ κάλλιστον· οὔτε γὰρ λόγων ἐν τοῖς οὖσι
κρεῖττον ὑπάρχει λαβεῖν οὔτε Θουκυδίδου περὶ τοὺς λόγους σοφώτερον ἔστιν
It is a fine thing for all inventors of something new to be honored, but Thucydides
especially deserves honor more than anyone else as he discovered the finest thing
of all. It is impossible to find anything better than words [i.e., rhetoric] among all
the things in existence, nor to find anyone more skilled in words.160
Obviously, both Markellinos and Aphthonius exaggerate Thucydides' role in the creation of the later rhetorical system, but these pedagogical myths testify to the rhetoricization of Thucydides, as his text was increasingly encompassed within the rhetorical curriculum.
158 Kassios Longinos, Excerpta 15. 159 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 38. 160 Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 22. 45
8. Thucydides in the Ancient Rhetorical Curriculum: an Overview
In antiquity, the teaching of rhetoric had multiple components. Rhetors would guide students through the progymnasmata. They would teach them issue theory and style, as they readied them to declaim. Thucydides played an important role throughout this entire process. When instructors introduced students to Thucydides probably depended on the instructor, but Thucydides had much to teach students about how to construct and analyze a rhetorically effective text.
Herodotus' place in the rhetorical curriculum would have probably been quite variable. Some instructors such as Theon may have read him with their students earlier on because of his relative simplicity and engaging style. Their students may have rewritten parts of Herodotus as narrations during the progymnasmata and then refuted him. But Herodotus' value to teachers of rhetoric was not as great as that of Thucydides, who was a convenient handbook of deliberative theory.
Therefore, if rhetors read Herodotus with their students early on, it was probably in a limited way, with an eye to appreciating Herodotus' style, but they were leery of Herodotus' trustworthiness and instilled this bias in their students through their choice of themes in the progymnasmata.
Chapter 2: Thucydides and Herodotus in Declamation
After examining Thucydides' and Herodotus' role in the rhetorical schools during antiquity, no account of how they were studied would be complete without a study of declamation. In the ancient world, no practice was more essential to learning rhetoric than the declamation.161 A declamation (Latin: declamatio; Greek µελέτη) was a rhetorical piece on an invented theme, whether fictional or historical.162 When declamation first began is unknown, but scholarship has traced its origins to as early as late fifth century B.C. Speeches such as Gorgias' Helen and
Antiphon's Tetralogies have sometimes been labeled the first proto-declamations.163 For the sophist Philostratos, the practice began when Aischines opened a rhetorical school at Rhodes after voluntarily leaving Athens upon his political defeat by Demosthenes in 330 B.C.164
161 On declamation, see Donald Russell, Greek Declamation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); D. H. Berry and Malcolm Heath, “Oratory and Declamation,” in Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period, 330 B.C.-A.D. 400, ed. Stanley E Porter (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 393–420; Robert Kaster, “Controlling Reason: Declamation in Rhetorical Education at Rome,” in Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity, ed. Yun Lee Too (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 317–37; Jutta Sandstede, “Deklamation,” in Historisches Wörterbuch Der Rhetorik, ed. Gert Ueding, vol. 2 (Tübingen, 1994), 481–507; Stanley Bonner, Roman Declamation in the Late Republic and Early Empire. (Liverpool: University Press of Liverpool, 1949). 162 On the Greek term µελετή, see Maurizio Civiletti, “Meléte: analisi semantica e definizione di un genere,” Papers on Rhetoric 4 (2002): 61–87. 163 Russell, Greek Declamation, 16–17. 164 Philostratos, Lives of the Sophists 2. 47
Whatever the case may be, the practice of declamation caught on in Greek and Latin schools throughout the ancient world. With the efflorescence of culture and literature that characterized the end of the Roman Republic and the early Roman empire, the practice grew to new heights, as rhetorical schools flourished and declamation itself became a cultural pastime of Rome’s literati.
Roman administrators organized competitions between competing sophists, and even emperors encouraged this rhetorical sport. When the sophist Apollonios of Naukratis visited Rome on an embassy, the emperor Septimius Severus persuaded him to compete with Rome’s resident sophist for a cash prize.165
In the ancient educational system, students would first begin declaiming after completing the progymnasmata. Declamation represented students' first baby steps at producing a complete deliberative or judicial speech. As classroom exercises, declamations took as their theme fictional or historical situations. In a fictional theme, students would argue an imagined case in the persona of type-set characters, such as a general advising his city to build a wall or a tyrant- slayer defending his slaying of a tyrant on behalf of his city. Set in an imaginary city, which
Donald Russell has famously labeled 'Sophistopolis',166 the fictional declamation was an important and crucial part of the educational program. A number of studies of fictional declamations in Latin (and more recently in Greek) have highlighted the fictional declamation's power for teaching students to act and think within the existing social orders. Called upon to imitate fathers, sons, slave masters, generals, soldiers, politicians, etc., students learned to negotiate their position in society and acted out potential roles that they would assume later in
165 Philostratos, Lives of the Sophists 57. 166 Russell, Greek Declamation, chap. 2. 48
life.167 In contrast to the generic scenario of the fictional declamation, the historical declamation focused on the specific. Rather than assuming the character of any politician or general, students would assume the persona of an ancient figure such as Demosthenes or Perikles. A typical theme might put Perikles on trial for treason and ask students to argue for either the defense or the prosecution. Declamation was a kind of historical roleplay that asked students to put themselves in the place of a great figure from the past and think through their circumstances to develop a logical argument, given the facts of the case and the historical record.
In Greek declamation, the primary subject of this chapter, historical themes were often drawn from the history of Greece between the beginning of the Persian Wars (490 B.C.) and the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.), which we now call the classical period. The period was extraordinarily popular with the sophists of the Second Sophistic and Late Antiquity about whom we know the most. One popular branch of thought has seen the emphasis that sophists of the second century A.D. placed on the classical period as nostalgia for the better days of the past.
Conquered by Rome, Greeks under foreign rule looked to the glorious past when Greece was
167 Amy Richlin, “Gender and Rhetoric: Producing Manhood in the Schools,” in Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature, ed. William J Dominik (London: Routledge, 1997), 202–20; W. Martin Bloomer, “Schooling in Persona: Imagination and Subordination in Roman Education.,” Classical Antiquity 16 (1997); Joy Connolly, “Mastering Corruption: Constructions of Identity in Roman Oratory,” in Women and Slaves in Greco-Roman Culture: Differential Equations, ed. Sandra Joshel and Sheila Murnaghan (London: Routledge, 1998), 130–51; Kaster, “Controlling Reason,” 324–26; Margaret Imber, “Practiced Speech: Oral and Written Conventions in Roman Declamation,” in Speaking Volumes: Orality and Literacy in the Greek and Roman World (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 201–12; Erik Gunderson, Declamation, Paternity, and Roman Identity: Authority and the Rhetorical Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Thomas N Habinek, Ancient Rhetoric and Oratory (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005), 60–78; John Dugan, “Modern Critical Approaches to Roman Rhetoric,” in A Companion to Roman Rhetoric, ed. William Dominik and Jon Hall (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007), 9–22; Anthony Corbeill, “Rhetorical Education and Social Reproduction in the Republic and Early Empire,” in A Companion to Roman Rhetoric, ed. William Dominik and Jon Hall (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007), 67–82; Neil W Bernstein, Ethics, Identity, and Community in Later Roman Declamation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). 49
free to escape their present servitude.168 Historical escapism probably did play a role initially in the popularity of this period, but we should not forget that sophists' identities were more complex than this Roman-Greek dichotomy.169 The Second Sophistic and Late Antiquity were times of great transition for the Roman empire and its subjects, as Greeks gave up their ancestral identity and became Romans, first in law and then by political allegiance. By the end of the third century, many seem to have identified as Romans.170 Hellenic identity, then, became something to which people throughout the empire could lay claim if they learned Greek and obtained an education in the classics. Thus, knowledge of the classical past became something of a cultural marker of education, helping to unify the Roman elite of the empire.171 The emphasis that sophists placed on the classical period, then, may have begun as an attempt to get back to the Hellenic glories of the past, but over time it became an essential part of what defined a learned man. Greece's
Roman conquerors may have even contributed to this trend by appropriating the Greek past for
Rome's political agenda.172 As the centuries passed, these themes remained relatively constant, encouraged no doubt by the continued reading of classical texts such as Thucydides and
Herodotus.173 Even more than one thousand years later when Byzantine intellectuals under the
168 E. L. Bowie, “Greeks and Their Past in the Second Sophistic,” Past & Present, no. 46 (1970): 3–41.Bowie, "Greeks and their past." 169 Christopher Jones, “Multiple Identities in the Age of the Second Sophistic,” in Paideia: The World of the Second Sophistic, ed. Barbara Borg (De Gruyter, 2004). 170 Anthony Kaldellis, Hellenism in Byzantium: The Transformations of Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 31–61, esp. 47.. 171 Paolo Desideri, “Forme dell’impegno politico di intellettuali greci dell’ impero,” Rivista Storica Italiana 110 (1998): 87; Paolo Desideri, “Filostrato: la contemporaneità del passato greco,” in El Pasado renacido: uso y abuso de la tradición clásica, ed. Fernando Gascó and Emma Falque Rey (Seville: Universidad de Sevilla; Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, 1992), 55–70; Fernando Gascó, “Vita della polis in età romana e memoria della polis classica,” in I Greci. Storia, Cultura, Arte, Società, ed. S. Settis, vol. 2 (Turin, 1998), 1147–64. " 172 Anthony Spawforth, “Symbol of Unity? The Persian-Wars Tradition in the Roman Empire,” in Greek Historiography, ed. Simon Hornblower (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 243–47. 173 Graham Anderson, The Second Sophistic: A Cultural Phaenomenon in the Roman Empire (London: Routledge, 1993). 50
Palaiologoi wrote declamations during the fourteenth century, their historical declamations were inspired by the Second Sophistic and focused on the classical period.174
The world of Herodotus and Thucydides therefore was the essential basis of historical declamations. Yet studies of both authors' reception have generally failed to consider declamation, even though this practice essentially forced students to study the historical record and produce a coherent argument given the historical circumstances of a case. Before they went on to write the more original works that we study today in monographs and conferences, they first cut their teeth on these preparatory exercises. This chapter will study the influence of
Herodotus and Thucydides on declamation as well as the influence the genre had on them. In our chapter on their reception in late antique rhetorical schools, we highlighted how declaimers came to view Thucydides as one of the founding fathers of their art and analyzed him by applying rhetorical theory. This chapter will reveal how they converted the fruits of their study into practical results and deployed both Herodotus and Thucydides in historical themes.
1. History and declamation: writing a historical declamation
As we have seen, scholarship has made much of what historical periods sophists chose for their declamations and sufficiently explored the cultural implications of their choice. However, little has actually been said about the mechanics of writing a historical declamation in antiquity. We
174 There were some attempts in the Middle and Late Byzantine period to include more Christian material in the exercise. See Richard Kohl, De scholasticarum declamationum argumentis ex historia petitis. (Paderborn: Schoeningh, 1915), 89. In the fourteenth century, the monk Sophonias wrote a fictitious declamation in which St. Paul defends himself before the Athenian Areopagus: Denis M. Searby and Ambjörn Sjörs, “A Rhetorical Declamation Of Sophonias The Monk And Paraphrast,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 104 (2011): 147–182. 51
know little about how ancient sophists actually came up with historical themes for declamation and then went about writing such a declamation, even though there is ample material testifying to the process. Hermogenes' On Issues, late antique commentators on this work, the second-century treatise On Errors in Declamation attributed to Dionysios of Halikarnassos, and finally the fourth-century rhetor Sopatros's Analysis of Themes preserve crucial information on how ancient declaimers went about this process. This section will examine that process, as it can shed important light on how ancient students were reading ancient historians, what level of historical accuracy they expected in historical declamations, and how they brought together their rhetorical training to produce the ancient equivalent of historical fiction.
Hermogenes' treatise On Issues provides invaluable information on how sophists of the second century A.D. treated history. This text is meant to teach rhetorical theory for court cases, but like several other sophists of his era, Hermogenes puts a heavy emphasis on the declamatory themes then current among the sophists of his time. The first section of his treatise is fundamental because Hermogenes lays out criteria for evaluating whether a theme was worth declaiming.
First of all, there had to be a stasis for a theme to be worthwhile. His first criterion for a theme to work was that disputes could not be one sided or an open-and-shut case. There had to be an ambiguous situation. Both sides in the dispute had to be able to marshal strong arguments in favor of their respective positions.175 As such, one of the ways in which ancient rhetoricians were reading Herodotus and Thucydides was with an eye to morally problematic situations, where either side of the dispute had strong grounds to believe they were right. In other words, this translated into rhetoricians looking for speeches or prosecutions in an ancient historian to which
175 Hermogenes, On Issues, 32. 52
they could write an antilogy. As we will see below, this is exactly what Chorikios did in his handling of the theme of Miltiades' prosecution for the disastrous Parian expedition of 489 B.C., responding to the charges brought against Miltiades in Herodotus 6.136.
Alternatively, a sophist might simply fabricate events involving famous personalities loosely based on what they read in an ancient historian. For example, Hermogenes cites a theme where
Pericles was being tried for tyranny after it was discovered he was stockpiling weapons in his house during the Peloponnesian War, which culled from Hermogenes would later become the subject of a declamation by the Byzantine historian George Pachymeres.176 This prosecution never happened, but it offered both sides the opportunity to deploy powerful arguments. The prosecutor could argue that Pericles was becoming too powerful in Athenian politics and that his stockpiled arms indicated his desire to subvert Athenian democracy by force of arms. The sophist representing Pericles could easily protest Pericles' loyalty to democracy and remind the court of all the services he had rendered to the Athenian state, while explaining away his arms stockpile.
As one might imagine, fabricating a historical theme came with its share of hazards, such as historical inaccuracies if the sophist did not know his history well. Yet Hermogenes and his fellow sophists recognized that declaimers were not historians. Even though they disliked inaccuracies, they were not completely averse to them. In a different section of On Issues,
Hermogenes deals with themes that are badly conceived (κακόπλαστον) but still worth declaiming. As his examples, he cites two themes. The first is a proposal to make Cleon general
176 Hermogenes, On Issues, 51-2; George Pachymeres, Declamation 1. 53
after the Sicilian disaster in Book 7, while the second imagines Mardonius defending himself before Xerxes upon returning to Persia after Plataea.177 Both figures were obviously dead, resulting in uncomfortable historical inaccuracies for those who took up these themes. Yet,
Hermogenes and his fellow sophists probably would have declaimed on these themes anyway. It was only later that commentators came to expect a higher degree of accuracy. Late antique commentators on this passage of Hermogenes were actually even more averse to ill-conceived themes than Hermogenes himself. Sophists of the fifth century A.D., such as Sopatros, Syrianos, and Markellinos, were generally uncomfortable with these themes and offer differing advice for dealing with Hermogenes' sample themes.178 For example, Syrianos (d. 437 A.D.) suggests fixing the Thucydidean theme, by substituting someone more historically accurate in lieu of
Cleon in order to make the theme acceptable.179 Markellinos, who is probably the same
Markellinos who wrote a life of Thucydides, is even more insistent upon historical accuracy. He bluntly declares that Hermogenes' ill-conceived themes should not be declaimed at all, as they run contrary to history. Markellinos is himself unable to accept that his authority Hermogenes could have made such a statement, as it runs so contrary to his own expectations of a declamation theme. He tries to resolve the dissonance between himself and his source text by suggesting that Hermogenes was not actually serious when he said these themes were still declaimable. Hermogenes must have mentioned them only as examples of a problematic phenomenon.180
177 Hermogenes, On Issues 34. 178 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 173-4; The author of the P-Scholia to Hermogenes' On Issues, dating probably from the 5th-6th centuries notes that badly conceived themes are always a part of declamation. P-Scholia to Hermogenes, 158. 179 Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 40. 180 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 173-4. 54
Thus, it is intriguing to see how rhetorical theoreticians varied in their preferences for historicity across time and space. Nevertheless, the anachronistic problems posed by Hermogenes' poorly conceived themes probably testify to the needs of sophists as teachers. Ideally themes would be historically accurate, but declamation was still subject to the exigencies of the classroom. The first few times that students read a work of history it would have been difficult for them to keep track of the various personalities in it. Instructors therefore may have wanted to limit their use of minor or unmentioned characters in the ancient historians for the sake of their students and audience. For example, someone undoubtedly probably had to make an account of the disastrous end of the Persian expedition before the great king, but making that character Mardonius was pedagogically expedient even if it was chronologically inaccurate. Mardonius would have been well known to students from Herodotus' vivid description of his interactions with Xerxes and then as commander of the Persian forces in Greece. Thus, making him the bearer of bad news would have served multiple purposes. First, it created drama, as this well-known failed general would have needed to account for himself before his despotic master. Second, it would have required that students familiarize themselves with all of that person’s appearances in history in order to ‘get him right,’ i.e., it would have required a measure of textual research. And third, it would have alleviated the burden that this theme imposed upon students, who would have otherwise had to make up the character of some anonymous Persian. Ancient personalities, whose characteristics were well known from ancient historians, made declaiming easier for
students, since they already had a ready-made template of the person whom they were imitating.181
Studies of Greek declamation rarely emphasize the importance that declaimers placed on successfully impersonating an ancient figure. Yet ancient declaimers by and large signal the crucial importance of characterization when writing and evaluating a declamation. For example, the second-century author of the treatise On Errors in Declamation notes that one of the major problems that he has seen in declamations is that a declaimer has not carefully considered the character of the person whom he was imitating and adapted his speech to fit that persona. The declaimer has only tried to think about the facts of the case. Yet, as he writes, "A declaimer must contend with these things [i.e., characterizing a speaker] as if combining a soul with a body, a character with the facts of a case."182
The Greek school system put a heavy emphasis on developing a student's skills in characterization from the start of their rhetorical training. The progymnasmata allowed students to acquire the basic skills in characterization that they would need for writing fully fledged declamations.183 Exercises such as the topos asked students to argue for or against a vice or virtue of a type of person, such as a tyrant or a brothel owner. Later on, in the ethopoiia, students would imagine what a tyrant slayer or Themistokles might have said given particular
181 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 93; Pseudo-Dionysius of Halikarnassos, On Errors in Declamation, 362. 182 Pseudo-Dionysius of Halikarnassos, On Errors in Declamation, 359-60. On the date and author of this treatise, see Malcolm Heath, “Pseudo-Dionysius Art of Rhetoric 8-11: Figured Speech, Declamation, and Criticism,” The American Journal of Philology 124 (2003): 81–105. 183 John of Sardeis, Commentary to Aphthonios, 194. 56
circumstances. This system relied on a measure of character type-casting and stereotypes to successfully imitate a generic type. As such, ancient declamations can often seem foreign or boring to modern audiences. Modern novels, the modern descendants of the declamation,184 delight in taking well known characters and subverting their established characteristics. For example, Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad, a modern declamation in which the author takes on the persona of Penelope to explore the character of Homer's faithful Penelope, playfully shows how clever Penelope really was and mocks Odysseus as a lying, cruel buffoon.185 Ancient rhetoricians, however, were averse to this kind of subversion in declamation. For example,
Hermogenes' On Issues notes that a theme is not declaimable if its subject matter is improbable, so a theme representing Socrates as a brothel-keeper or the Athenian statesman Aristeides as a wrongdoer was totally unacceptable.186 For ancient commentators, both were by definition good, moral figures, and hence declaimers should only represent them in this manner.187 Thus, ancient declaimers and their audiences came to expect that major historical characters would have a certain fixed character. For example, Demosthenes was always clever and a philhellene.188 This, then, is one of the challenges that modern readers of declamations face. We are trained by much of modern literature to expect a character who defies our stereotypes, but declaimers were trying to cleave to a preconceived notion of a character. Ancient fiction and satire might playfully mock and subvert the character of ancient figures, but the declamation provided the baseline
184 A point made by Russell, Greek Declamation, 38. 185 Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad (New York: Canongate, 2005). On its subversion of Homer's Penelope and Odysseus, see Hilde Staels, “The Penelopiad and Weight: Contemporary Parodic and Burlesque Transformations of Classical Myths,” lit College Literature 36 (2009): 100–118; Mihoko Suzuki, “Rewriting the Odyssey in the Twenty-First Century: Mary Zimmerman’s Odyssey and Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad,” College Literature 34 (2007): 263–78. 186 Hermogenes, On Issues, 33. 187 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 158; Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 38-9. 188 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes 35.1. 57
stereotypes for later authors to mock. When ancient authors subverted a figure, they were acutely aware of the kinds of stereotypes their audience would expect from their shared schooling in the classics.
As such, we may wonder where declaimers found the character of the personalities that they were imitating. Ancient commentators are relatively unanimous in recommending looking at history.189 For example, ancient declaimers told their students that they could find the personality of figures such as Alkibiades, Themistokles, and Perikles in Thucydides.190 As Markellinos comments, Thucydides was like a treasure trove for declaimers:
εἰ τοίνυν ποιήσειας τὸν Περικλέα συµβουλεύοντα Πελοποννησίοις ἐπιέναι, ἢ
γραφόµενόν τινα ἢ ἀπολογούµενον, πλείστην ἐργασίαν σοι πίστεων ἡ ποιότης τοῦ
προσώπου παρέχεται·ἀφ’ ὧν εἴρηται γὰρ τῷ Θουκυδίδῃ περὶ αὐτοῦ, ὥσπερ γὰρ
ἀπὸ θησαυροῦ λέγειν ἕξοµεν ἱκανὰ, πολλῆς οὔσης τῆς µαρτυρίας· καὶ πάλιν εἰ τὸν
Θεµιστοκλέα ὑποθώµεθα, κἀνταῦθα πολὺς ἡµῖν ὁ Θουκυδίδης µαρτυρῶν, ὃς (read
ὡς) περὶ ἐκείνου φησίν· ἦν γὰρ δὴ ὁ Θεµιστοκλῆς βεβαιότατα δὴ φύσεως ἰσχὺν
If therefore you portray Perikles counseling the Peloponnesians to attack, or
alternatively someone being put on trial or giving his defense, the qualities of the
person will greatly elaborate your proofs. From what Thucydides has said about
189 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 91-2; Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 40. 190 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes 1.1; Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 90, 93. 58
him [i.e. Perikles], we will have ample things to say as if drawing on a treasure
trove, for Thucydides offers much testimony about Perikles. Similarly, if we make
Themistokles our subject, Thucydides also has much to offer us in this situation.
As Thucydides says about him: “For Themistocles was a man who exhibited the
most indubitable signs of genius” (1.138.3).191
Declaimers obtained their characterizations of ancient figures through a variable process. In the passage above, Markellinos probably would have crafted his image of Themistokles based on
Thucydides' explicit characterization of Themistokles in 1.138.3. But where Thucydides was not as explicit, declaimers often turned to his speeches for help. The Neoplatonist philosopher
Syrianos (d. 437 A.D.), who also taught rhetoric, offers his own analysis of Perikles when commenting on Hermogenes' breakdown of the qualities of persons in a stasis. There are seven qualities that define a person: defined individuals, relative terms, prejudicial terms, characterizing terms, terms combining two qualities, terms combining person and act, and simple appellative terms. The order in which they are listed correlates to the strength that they lend to an argument. Defined individuals such as Demosthenes can encompass multiple terms.
Demosthenes was a father (relative quality) and also a politician (simple appellative term), and thus a declamation employing him has greater argumentative force.192 Syrianos' commentary on this passage analyzes Perikles as an example of this concept:
ὁ γὰρ Περικλῆς εἰ τύχοι παραληφθεὶς, ὡρισµένον τέ ἐστι πρόσωπον, καὶ πρός τι·
191 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 93. 192 Hermogenes, On Issues, 29-30. 59
πατὴρ γὰρ καὶ δεσπότης, καὶ ἠθικὸν, φιλόπολις γὰρ καὶ ῥήτωρ· ὁ γοῦν
Θουκυδίδης παραλαβὼν αὐτὸν εὐθὺς ἐκ τῆς τοῦ προσώπου ποιότητος, τὸ
ἀξιόπιστον αὐτῷ περιτίθησι λέγων, καίτοι ἐµοὶ τοιούτῳ ἀνδρὶ ὀργίζεσθε, ὃς
οὐδενὸς ἥττων εἰµὶ, γνῶναί τε τὰ δέοντα καὶ ἑρµηνεῦσαι ταῦτα, φιλόπολίς τε καὶ
Perikles, if he is deployed in a text, is a defined individual. His relative terms are
father and master. His characterizing terms are his love for the city and his status
as a rhetor. Thucydides deploys Perikles directly in his Histories based on his
individual qualities and confers trustworthiness upon him when he says, "And yet
you are angry at a man such as myself, who is inferior to none at recognizing what
is necessary and bringing it before you; who loves his city and is above bribery”
Syrianos' remarks are interesting in that they show how one sophist came up with his characterization of Perikles. Clearly, Syrianos has drawn on elements of Perikles' own self- characterization from his defense of his conduct during the Peloponnesian War (2.60-4), such as his avowed love for Athens. Yet he has also interpreted Perikles' words, recognizing their intent to prove his trustworthiness. But what is more interesting about this passage is how Syrianos almost treats Thucydides as a fellow declaimer following the rules of declamation, noting how
Thucydides' Perikles directly characterizes himself.
193 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 90; Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 20. 60
Yet the process of assessing an ancient figure's personality was not always consistent. While commentators on Hermogenes (Sopatros, Syrianos, and Markellinos) universally recommend looking at history, sometimes the actual declaimer might go elsewhere. In his Analysis of
Themes, a handbook for how to handle sample themes, the rhetor Sopatros, who may or may not be the same as the commentator on Hermogenes, actually recommends consulting Ailios
Aristeides' characterization of Perikles in On the Four rather than reading Thucydides. On the
Four is a defense of Themistokles, Perikles, Kimon, and Miltiades against the attacks leveled against them in Plato's Gorgias and in general the art of oratory.194 At other times, the declaiming process could require some research on the declaimer's part. When portraying the personality of an ancient figure, some declaimers probably read multiple sources on the same individual. Sopatros' Analysis of Themes again casts light on this process. When dealing with the theme After the battle of Kyzikos (410 B.C.), Alkibiades asked for a bodyguard and is now being charged with tyranny, Sopatros states that Alkibiades will be proud and daring because of his victories. This is how Thucydides presents him during the debates before Sicily (6.16-8), making him argue that he more than anyone else should have command of the expedition. But Sopatros also backs up this characterization by noting how Plutarch shows Alkibiades' inherent boldness in all his deeds.195 Thus, Sopatros would have crafted his Alkibiades by collating how
Thucydides and Plutarch characterize him.
Determining the qualities possessed by a historical figure was an important part of the declamation process. Yet declaimers also had to play the role of biographer and research a
194 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes, 31.1; Ailios Aristeides, On the Four, 118-9. 195 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes, 1.1. 61
person's story. For example, the Hermogenean commentator Sopatros notes that people's qualities are already laid out in historical writing. As he writes, "It is not possible to add or subtract details about a person when you take them up, but you have to advance to the proofs of a question such as it is when history is clear on the defined person."196 In other words, you cannot make Socrates a rhetor or Demosthenes, the son of a sword-maker, a noble man. Declaimers thus would ideally know the biography of a historical figure and avoid committing gross historical inaccuracies. Yet unlike biographers, they were not bound by the rules of history. Yes, they had to avoid historical inaccuracies, but if we read into the negative implications of Sopatros' statement, there was some room for fabrication when the historical record was unclear.197 Thus, declaimers were in a sense writing historical fiction. They had to follow the historical record, but were free to fill in the gaps for the sake of their argument.
Thus far we have addressed how declaimers undertook the first two necessary steps before writing a historical declamation: picking a declaimable theme and determining the character of the person whom they were imitating. Now we turn to the actual mechanics of writing the declamation. Once a declaimer had assessed the character of a historical figure, his next step was to figure out how to convey that characterization in the declamation. Sopatros' Analysis of
Themes offers some clues as to how this was done. After instructing his students that Alkibiades should be bold and proud (in the theme cited above), Sopatros gives examples of how a student might accomplish this effect. Alkibiades should be pompous, almost unbearable, and remind the
196 Sopatros, Commentary to Hermogenes, 40: οὔτε προσθεῖναι οὔτε ἀφελεῖν ἐστι παραλαµβάνοντος πρόσωπον, ἀλλ’ ἀνάγκη ταύτῃ χωρεῖν πρὸς τὰς ἀποδείξεις τοῦ τοιοῦδέ τινος ζητήµατος, ὅταν ᾖ τῷ ὡρισµένῳ ἡ ἱστορία φανερά· 197 Russell, Greek Declamation, 117–20. 62
Athenians of all the victories and benefactions that he has accomplished on the city's behalf.
Sopatros even suggests that Alkibiades' proem should include a clause showing Alkibiades' boastfulness. His proem might begin with the exhortation, "Men of Athens, who are free because of Alkibiades."198
As we have seen, ancient declaimers had varying expectations for how historically accurate a declamation should be. As for the body of the actual declamation itself, ancient commentators do not have much to offer on what degree of historical accuracy they expected. Presumably, they wanted their speeches to be relatively historically accurate. For example, Syrianos instructs students on the importance of getting right the cultural institutions and laws of a society.
Spartans should not refer to Athenian legal practices and vice versa.199 However, there was an expectation that every declamation would have some inaccuracies.200 Even masterpieces of the genre, such as the speeches of the second-century sophist Polemon on behalf of Kallimachos and
Kynegeiros (who died at Marathon) could be problematic. In the same text, Polemon tells us that
Dareius witnessed Marathon and then subsequently that he received news of the defeat back in
Persia.201 Presumably, Polemon confused Xerxes for Darius, but his error was not significant enough to make him revise the declamations. It appears that many declamation-goers were more interested in the rhetoric and performance of a declamation rather than its historical accuracy.202
198 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes, 1.1. 199 Sopatros, Markellinos, and Syrianos, Scholia to Hermogenes, 72. 200 P-Scholia to Hermogenes, 158. 201 Thomas Schmitz, “Performing history in the Second Sophistic,” in Geschichtsschreibung und politischer Wandel im 3. Jh. n. Chr., ed. Martin Zimmermann (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1999), 91. 202 Schmitz, 89.. 63
But if Syrianos, Sopatros, and Markellinos are representative of their time, expectations of historical accuracy became more stringent in late antiquity.
When it came to the actual argumentation, sophists generally had to rely on the rules of their craft and their own ingenuity to come up with their speech. But a thorough knowledge of ancient history and oratory had its advantages. Sometimes, declaimers could model their approach on that of an ancient orator, such as Chorikios (6 c. A.D.) does in his declamation on Polydamas. In this declamation, the Trojan commander Polydamas urges his fellow Trojans to accept money from Achilles following the death of Hector so that the Greek can marry Polyxena. In his theoria
– that is his outline of his approach to the theme – Chorikios informs us that he saw Polydamas in the guise of Demosthenes in On the Peace, urging his countrymen to listen to him because they had suffered great losses in the past when they refused to listen to him (for example, by refusing to retreat after the death of Patroklos in Book 18 of the Iliad).203 The challenge for future declaimers and lawyers therefore lay in stepping outside the peculiars of a case to see how another author's rhetorical technique might work for them.204 Nevertheless, declaimers' study of historical and poetic texts sometimes went too far. The treatise On Errors in Declamation complains that some declaimers incorporated gratuitous ekphraseis of winter, plague, wars, or famine in their productions inspired by historical writings rather than sticking to the facts of the case.205 Clearly, practicing these techniques during the progymnasmata had left a lasting mark on some declaimers who attempted to deploy what they had learned as a rhetorical flourish.
203 Chorikios, Oration 10, theoria 2-3. Cf. Demosthenes, Oration 5.4 (On the Peace). 204 Apsines, Rhetorical Art, 332. 205 Pseudo-Dionysius, On Errors in Declamation, 372. 64
Yet in handling a historical theme, declaimers could sometimes find their case ready-made in an ancient historian. For example, in his Analysis of Themes, Sopatros handles the theme Since the
Peloponnesian War has been protracted, the Corinthians are prosecuted by the Greeks for their crimes against the Greeks at the war's inception. Prosecutions of city-states for their crimes during the Peloponnesian War were an established theme. Libanios and, much later, the
Byzantine scholar Gregory of Cyprus (d. 1290) would argue opposing sides on whether the
Athenians should be punished for their crimes at Potidaia (Thuc. 2.70).206 As such, these themes required the declaimer to closely study Thucydides in order to find the material for his prosecution, and in some cases a prosecution might be ready-made in Thucydides. At the beginning of his analysis of how to prosecute the Corinthians, Sopatros bluntly states that:
Ἡ µὲν πᾶσα οἰκονοµία καὶ διαίρεσις τοῦ ζητήµατος πρόκειται ἐν τῇ Ἀρχιδάµου
δηµηγορίᾳ καὶ τῇ τῶν Κορινθίων· ἡ αὐτὴ γάρ ἐστι κἀκεῖ τῶν ἀντιθέσεων ἡ τοµὴ
καὶ ἡ τῶν κεφαλαίων εὕρεσις·
How to handle the theme and analyze it are entirely set forth in the speeches of
Archidamos and the Corinthians. The division of counterpositions and the
invention of headings is the same as there.207
While this remark is cryptic to most modern classicists unfamiliar with the intricacies of rhetorical theory, Sopatros' instructions would have been clear enough to his students.
206 See below. 207 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes, 26.1. 65
Essentially, students would have begun their research for writing this theme by opening their copy of Thucydides and rereading the speeches. If their copy of Thucydides included scholia or they had access to a commentary to Thucydides, the task of assessing what headings came up in these speeches was already done for them.208 The scholia to the speech of the Corinthians and
Archidamos note that Justice and Feasibility are the headings of each speech, respectively.209
These, then, would be the headings of our student's declamation. He would consider the justness of the Corinthians' exhortation to attack Athens on the grounds of tyranny. Then he would stop with Archidamos to consider the feasibility of a war; that is he would think about the moral, military, and financial power of Athens and Sparta before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian
Wars. These would be the main headings of his declamation. Next, the student would read these speeches to determine his counterpositions. That is, he would go through the speeches of the
Corinthians and Archidamos and take their arguments as possible objections in a court case. His task was to overcome their positions and prove how the Corinthians really were at fault for the evils of the Peloponnesian War.
This process probably seems foreign to modern readers, but thankfully Sopatros took the time to fully analyze this theme for the sake of clarity. He classifies this speech as a counterplea—that is, a prosecution for an action that is not generally actionable in court as if it could be actionable.210
In this specific case, the prosecutor does not have any legal basis to prosecute the Corinthians for urging war (i.e., they did not break an existing law), but he would try to convince his audience
208 See chapter 1 section 6. 209 Scholia to Thucydides 1.68.3 (Justice), 1.80.3 (Feasibility). 210 Hermogenes, On Issues, 32, 83-8. 66
that what Corinthians had done deserved punishment. To borrow an anachronistic concept, this theme required students to be the prosecutor in a war crimes case.
Sopatros' analysis and sample sentences offer a window into understanding how a rhetor might appropriate Thucydides for his speech. From his analysis, it appears that Sopatros relied on both speeches for separate parts of the declamation. His katastasis (narration) relies heavily on the
Corinthians’ speech (1.68-71), dwelling on the heading justice. It is essentially a rehashing of the major points touched upon by the Corinthians: the events of the pentakontaetia, their accusations that the Athenians enslaved Greece and acted tyrannically, and finally their advice to make war on other Hellenes. But now the speaker in this case will turn the Corinthians' arguments against them, arguing that it was not the Athenians who injured the Hellenes but the Corinthians themselves, by inciting the Spartans to make war on the Athenians. In fact, Sopatros recommends taking the Corinthians' statements inciting the Spartans to war and using them for the declamation's horika paragraphika.211 A horikon paragraphikon required the speaker to take what his opponent had said (or might have said) and refute it based on the definition of what he said. For example, Sopatros suggests that the Corinthians might hypothetically object that they had every right to criticize the Spartans and urge them to go to war because they were just giving advice, and advice in and of itself is harmless enough. The horikon paragraphikon would call into question the morality of this definition of advice, by pointing out that the Corinthians could also advise the Greeks to obey the Great King—an unthinkable action in the world of the sophists. Thus, a declaimer would show that the Corinthians advising the Spartans to wage war on their fellow Greeks was morally problematic. Just giving advice does not spare one from
211 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes 26.2. 67
reproof. Furthermore, Sopatros suggests bringing in subtle historical examples to further complicate the Corinthians' defense, such as Kyrsilos, the Athenian who counseled surrender when Xerxes was marching on Athens and was stoned to death for his advice.212 Thus declaimers could deploy their knowledge of Greek history to bolster their argument, and it is worth pointing out that Sopatros picked a historical example that is not anachronistic. Clearly, getting the period right mattered to him.
Sopatros next deploys Archidamos' speech at Sparta. The scholia to Thucydides highlight that the heading of this speech is Feasibility, that it assesses the moral, military, and financial power of one state relative to another. In his speech in Thucydides, Archidamos does exactly this, dwelling on how powerful Athens is. How can Sparta defeat Athens when the latter has a superior navy and can bring in revenue from its distant tributaries? Athenians are high spirited and will not surrender easily. Thus, the Spartans will probably pass the war on to their children.213 In his accusation of the Corinthians, Sopatros grafts Archidamos' argument to his own, focusing on many of the same themes. He assesses how powerful and resolute the
Athenians were and thus, like Archidamos, accuses the Corinthians for not realizing that the war would last for a long time. This was their critical oversight and crime against the Hellenic race: they thoughtlessly incited two stubborn city-states to fight one another. The crimes of the war, such as Plataea and Pylos, rest on their shoulders. Once they are punished, the Hellenic world can have peace.
212 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes 26.2. 213 Thucydides, Histories 1.81. 68
Sopatros' handling of this theme offers us a glimpse into how declaimers might handle a historical theme that came from Thucydides or Herodotus. First, the declaimer would have to assess a theme and determine whether it was controversial enough and historically accurate.
Then he would assess the character of the person whom he was imitating, studying ancient history and literature in order to portray a person's character correctly. The argumentation of a declamation was often left to the ingenuity of the declaimer, but sometimes the ancient historian made the process easier by offering all of the raw material the declaimer needed to craft his argument. Nevertheless, declaimers probably had to rely on a wide knowledge of the historian and the historical period which they took as their subject in order to masterfully render a theme.
For example, Sopatros' trial of the Corinthians cites events from other books of Thucydides.
Similarly, he introduces Kyrsilos, but this is not a figure mentioned in any history. Declaimers would have known about him from Demosthenes' On the Crown, a popular rhetorical text.214
Thus, the process of declaiming made a declaimer into something of a novelist and research- oriented historian, teaching students the essential skills they would need as writers.
2. History and declamation: character
With the educational practices of declaimers in mind, we can begin to understand how they were reading history in the classroom. We have already highlighted in our previous chapter how readers of Thucydides would have analyzed him as an example of deliberative oratory and the practical issue of stasis theory. This section will discuss how students in antiquity analyzed
Herodotus and Thucydides in light of how declaimers thought about character in their
214 Demosthenes, On the Crown 204. 69
declamations. In an ancient classroom, one of the tasks that declaimers set their students was to think about how well or badly a prospective historian crafted speeches befitting his subjects.
Their evaluations were often based on external preconceptions regarding how a group of people should behave. For example, a number of rhetors highlight Herodotus' skill in characterizing his subjects—that is, in writing ethopoiiai.215 The progymnasmata-writer Theon highlights
Herodotus' skill in writing speeches for barbarians in his Histories, but fails to elaborate.216
Fortunately, the author of the second-century treatise On how to judge texts offers some clues on what constituted barbarian speech. As an example of Herodotus' barbarian speech, the author cites words from Kandaules' address to Gyges in Herodotus:
ὦτα γὰρ τυγχάνει ἀνθρώποισι ἐόντα ἀπιστότερα ὀφθαλµῶν
Men trust their ears less than their eyes. (1.8)
Barbarian speech, the ancient sophist writes, is more rustic and rough, often somewhat presumptuous. For this sophist, Herodotus successfully conveys the barbarism of Kandaules through his word choice. Rather than making Kandaules discuss abstract concepts, such as observation (ὄψις) or hearsay (ἀκοή), a barbarian might just refer to the body parts.217 Thus,
Herodotus' speech fit nicely with the anonymous sophist's preconceived notions of how a barbarian should behave and speak, namely in an unrefined manner.
215 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 38, highlights that Herodotus only managed to write ethopoiiai and not complete speeches. 216 Theon, Progymnasmata, 116. 217 Pseudo-Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On how to judge texts, 378-9. 70
But what if an ancient author did not fit a sophist's notions of how a group should behave?
Dionysios of Halikarnassos' long, infamous attack on Thucydides criticizes the Melian Dialogue
(5.84-116) for its portrayal of character on precisely these grounds. Throughout the dialogue, the
Athenians highlight how the Melians are not at the bargaining table with equals. The Athenians are strong and the Melians weak, so Melos must logically yield to the wishes of its superiors.
Dionysios took issue with the blunt and brutal rhetoric of Thucydides' Athenians, arguing that his characterization of them did not befit the Athenians. A barbarian king might have expressed himself in such a manner, but the Athenians were the liberators of Greece and would not have talked to their fellow Greeks in this way.218 With declamation's conception of character in mind, these sentiments illustrate how Dionysios' rhetorical training might have shaped his understanding of how a historian should write. Thucydides' subversive portrayal of the Athenians shocked his sensibilities, violating his preconceived image of the Athenians.
If we turn to Thucydides' later defender, the rhetorician Markellinos' Life of Thucydides, we see an opposing view of Thucydides' methods of characterization. He admires Thucydides' skills at drawing characters and notes that in Thucydides, "You will see the pride of Pericles, the questionable character of Cleon, the youth of Alcibiades, the versatility of Themistocles, and the kindness, fear of the gods, and good fortune, until Sicily, of Nicias."219 Given the emphasis that declaimers placed on reading Thucydides to assess the character of a historical figure for a declamation, Markellinos is not just admiring Thucydides contra Dionysios. He is also pointing out characteristics of ancient figures to look for in Thucydides. From Thucydides, students can
218 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Thucydides 38-9. 219 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 51: ὄψει γοῦν παρ’ αὐτῷ φρόνηµα Περικλέους καὶ Κλέωνος οὐκ οἶδ’ ὅτι ἂν εἴποι τις, Ἀλκιβιάδου νεότητα, Θεµιστοκλέους †πάντα, Νικίου χρηστότητα δεισιδαιµονίαν εὐτυχίαν µέχρι Σικελίας 71
learn not only how to sketch characters but also to find the prototype of famous figures that they might be called upon to imitate during a declamation.
Similarly, Markellinos' background in the rhetorical schools also played into how he conceptualized Thucydides as a speechwriter. For example, Markellinos contends that
Thucydides did not employ conceptual figures of speech (σχηµατισµοῦ τοῦ κατὰ διάνοιαν) in the
Histories.220 That is, Thucydides did not employ dissimulation, epitimesis (reproof), oblique speech, or any other rhetorical tricks in his speeches even though he knew what they were.
οὐ γὰρ ἔπρεπε Περικλεῖ καὶ Ἀρχιδάµῳ καὶ Νικίᾳ καὶ Βρασίδᾳ, ἀνθρώποις
µεγαλόφροσι καὶ γενναίοις καὶ ἡρωικὴν ἔχουσι δόξαν, λόγους εἰρωνείας καὶ
πανουργίας περιτιθέναι, ὡς µὴ παρρησίαν ἔχουσι φανερῶς ἐλέγχειν καὶ ἄντικρυς
µέµφεσθαι καὶ ὅτι οὖν βούλονται λέγειν. Διὰ τοῦτο τὸ ἄπλαστον καὶ ἀνηθοποίητον
ἐπετήδευσε, σῴζων κἀν τούτοις τὸ προσῆκον καὶ τῇ τέχνῃ δοκοῦν· τεχνίτου γὰρ
ἀνδρὸς φυλάξαι τοῖς προσώποις τὴν ἐπιβάλλουσαν δόξαν καὶ τοῖς πράγµασι τὸν
It was not right for Thucydides to bestow speeches of dissimulation and cunning
upon Pericles, Archidamos, Nikias, and Brasidas, high-minded and noble men who
possessed a heroic reputation. It is not as if these men did not have the frankness to
220 On figured speech, see Julius Penndorf, De Sermone Figurato Quaestio Rhetorica (Leipzig, 1902); D. M Schenkeveld, Studies in Demetrius On Style (Amsterdam: A.M. Hakkert, 1964), 116–34; Michel Patillon, Apsines. Art rhétorique. Problèmes à faux-semblant (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2001), lxxxix–xci. 72
openly reprimand and directly censure or say what they wanted. For this reason,
Thucydides made a practice of writing speeches that were free from rhetorical
devices and not out of character, and he ensured they were fitting and appropriate to
his art, for a rhetorician should preserve the reputation that belongs to his characters
and apply the corresponding embellishment to events.221
Obviously, modern readers of Thucydides will strongly disagree with Markellinos' assessment of
Thucydides' use of tropes, such as dissimulation. Luigi Piccirilli's commentary to Markellinos notes a number of specific instances where Thucydides actually does employ these figures.222
Ancient readers will have also disagreed, as the scholia to Thucydides note when the historian employs figures such as irony.223 But Markellinos' reasoning, however naive, starts to make more sense in light of declamatory practice. Declaimers were not trying to subvert the character of well-known figures in declamations, but convey that person's existing reputation. A theme would even be undeclaimable, if it required the declaimer to impersonate a well-known figure doing something quite contrary to that reputation. Thus, Markellinos' understanding of Thucydides as a speechwriter was thoroughly grounded in the rhetorical schools. He and Dionysios before him could react positively or negatively to Thucydides based on whether or not they thought
Thucydides had produced a speech like a fellow sophist, or even one of their students.
3. Theory in action: Sample historical declamations
221 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 56. 222 Piccirilli, Storie, 163. 223 E.g., Scholia to Thucydides 3.61. 73
Thus far, we have examined only the rhetorical handbooks and commentaries for the theoretical information they offer on how sophists thought a declamation should be written. Now it is time to turn from theory to practice and look at a sample of historical declamations from late antiquity and Byzantium, which demonstrate how declaimers practiced what they had learned. We will examine a number of paired declamations, that is declaimers’ similar or opposite approaches to a theme. In the first pair, Libanios and Chorikios take on the legacy of Miltiades, who was tried by
Athens after his failure to take Paros (Hdt. 6.132-6). This procedure offers us the opportunity to see how declaimers responded to Herodotus and mined him for the purpose of declamation. In the second pair of declamations, Libanios and the Byzantine rhetorician and patriarch Gregory II of Cyprus (1283-9) handle the 'war crimes' committed by Athens during the siege of Potidaia
(Thuc. 2.70). The advantage of analyzing these declamations is that their theme is similar to that of Sopatros' sample declamation, which we examined at length in section A. These declamations can show how a rhetor actually transformed the theme into a reality from the ample Thucydidean raw material available. They also afford the opportunity to explore Athens' vaunted reputation as the savior of Greece and bringer of civilization. The final declamation examined here will be a theme from Thucydides worked up by the Palaiologan historian Nikephoros Gregoras (d. ca.
1360 A.D.). Although the declamation is exceedingly late, it offers the rare opportunity to see how a historian in the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition wrote a declamation and attempted to rewrite Thucydides.
A. Libanios and Chorikios on the legacy of Miltiades
Throughout our examination of how the sophists recommended writing a historical declamation, the material mostly focused on Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War because that was what
Hermogenes' commentators chose as examples. In general, declaimers seem to have focused heavily on the Peloponnesian War, as themes from this period gave their students the opportunity to transform the Thucydides they were reading into an oration. Nevertheless, the Persian Wars were also important to declaimers. Of the themes that survive, 90 are concerned with the
Peloponnesian War. In comparison, the Persians Wars has a sizeable 43.224As Herodotus was a major source on the Persian Wars for declaimers, themes that treated this period needed to engage with him.
The declamations of Libanios and Chorikios of Gaza offer an illustration of how declaimers went about this. Both treat the downfall of Miltiades reported in Herodotus 6.132-6. Miltiades reportedly told the Athenians to give him 70 ships to attack an undisclosed location and he would quickly bring them back plunder and make them wealthy men. Miltiades then turned the expedition against Paros to allegedly punish the island for supporting the Persians during the recent war. However, Herodotus informs us that this was a pretext to mask his real purpose: punishing the Parian Lysagoras for slandering him to the Persian ruler of Asia Minor. Miltiades' attack on the island did not go as planned. The Parians resisted his assaults and mysteriously he came under the influence of a priestess Timo, who advised him to follow her directions to seize the city. Under her instruction, Miltiades entered the temple of Demeter at Paros and passed into the shrine itself when the Athenian took fright and fled, jumping from the wall of the temple and breaking his leg. Scarcely able to walk and soon feeling the effects of gangrene, Miltiades called
224 Russell, Greek Declamation, 107. 75
off the expedition and returned to Athens, where the father of Perikles, Xanthippos, prosecuted him for deceiving the Athenian people. Unable to speak, Miltiades let his friends argue his case.
Even though the death penalty was on the table, Miltiades managed to escape with a fine of 50 talents and died soon thereafter. As one scholar has pointed out, this anecdote reveals that most
Herodotean theme of the peripeties of fortune: Miltiades the victorious and popular commander of Marathon swiftly loses everything on a failed military adventure.225
Miltiades' dramatic downfall and its fallout understandably lent themselves to the imagination of ancient teachers of rhetoric, who produced a number of themes and progymnasmata on this topic.226 Libanios' theme Kimon asks to be imprisoned instead of his father is a practical issue.227
It builds on a historical anecdote reported in Ephoros where the future Athenian commander asked the Athenian assembly to accept him as a substitute for his ailing father. In contrast,
Chorikios' theme is a direct response to Herodotus. It fantastically imagines what Miltiades would have said in his defense during his trial. The stasis of his speech is the conjecture.228 Even though Libanios' and Chorikios' speeches have different themes and staseis, both authors adopted a number of common arguments. Just like modern readers of Herodotus, both Chorikios and
Libanios were struck by the remarkable volte-face of Miltiades' fortunes. Accordingly, both authors try to exculpate Miltiades by pushing the blame away from his own incompetence onto
225 K. H. Kinzel, “Miltiades’ Parosexpedition in Der Geschichtsschreibung,” Hermes 104 (1976): 280–307.Kinzil, "Miltiades’ Parosexpedition," 283. 226 Bernard Schouler, “Chorikios déclamateur,” in Gaza dans l’Antiquité Tardive: archéologie, rhétorique et histoire : actes du colloque international de Poitiers, 6-7 mai 2004, ed. Catherine Saliou (Salerno: Helios, 2005), 117.. 227 Bernard Schouler, “Le retour de Miltiade,” in Approches de La Troisième Sophistique: Hommages à Jacques Schamp, ed. Eugenio Amato, Martin Steinrück, and Alexandre Roduit (Brussels: Editions Latomus, 2006), 344. 228 Schouler, 344. Simona Lupi, Coricio di Gaza, XVII (= decl. 4) F.-R.: Milziade (Freiburg: Rombach, 2010), 37– 51.On the issue conjecture, Hermogenes, On Issues, 43-59. 76
fortune itself and the divine. For example, Libanios contends that it was actually the goddess
Demeter who injured Miltiades. If he failed it was because fortune had deceived both him and the Athenian people.229 For Chorikios, the shadowy figure of the Parian priestess Timo offered ample ammunition. Herodotus reports that the Parians asked the oracle at Delphi whether or not they should punish the priestess for betraying her homeland and the shrine of Demeter. The priestess reportedly advised them not to, since Miltiades was doomed from the start and it had actually been a divine apparition who led him into the temple.230 Chorikios adopted the Delphic interpretation of events, contending that Timo was actually an apparition that disappeared at the crucial moment leaving him to his misfortune.231 Chorikios even adds historical exempla of similar examples of peripeties of fortune from Herodotus to bolster his case, such as the downfall of Polykrates the tyrant of Samos.232 However, it is strange that neither Libanios nor Chorikios seized upon the full implications of the Delphic oracle in Herodotus. It might have gone a long way to exculpating Miltiades with the religious Athenian populace to argue that even Apollo had decreed that Miltiades was doomed to fail.
As acts of reception, both Libanios and Chorikios reflect their culture's obsession with Marathon.
They bring up the battle repeatedly for their Athenian audience.233 Chorikios even briefly retells
Herodotus' narrative of the event. In this, they reflect the ancient historical record, as Miltiades himself often reminded the Athenians of his military record during his trial according to
Herodotus. But Herodotus adds a dimension overlooked by the declamers: Miltiades' capture of
229 Libanios, Declamation 11.25, 27. 230 Herodotus, Histories 6.135. 231 Chorikios, Oration 17.13-4. 232 Chorikios, Oration 17.77. 233 Libanios, Declamation 11.3, 30; Chorikios, Oration 17.29-42. 77
Lemnos was also a key part of his defense.234 Libanios' Cimon briefly mentions the event, but
Chorikios' Miltiades is silent on on it.235 Lemnos appears to have been the accomplishment that won Miltiades great popularity with the Athenians in spite of the fact that he had supported the unpopular Peisistratid tyranny.236 Yet both declaimers largely overlooked the event. One possible reason may have been the obscurity of sources on the event. However, a declaimer might have welcomed this event as an opportunity to invent a narrative strongly in favor of Miltiades, but neither Libanios nor Chorikios decided to follow Herodotus' account of the trial too closely.
Chorikios' declamation is of particular interest, as it, intentionally or not, became a cross- examination of Herodotus' account of the Parian expedition. As Chorikios tells us, this declamation's theme was born of a desire to hear the famed hero speak after Herodotus had silenced him during the trial.237 When impersonating Miltiades, Chorikios had to carefully scrutinize Herodotus' account of the expedition and imagine what the prosecution might have said. Xanthippos' alleged charge of deceiving the Athenian people is the fundamental basis of
Chorikios' defense, but he even took the historian's explanation of Miltiades' motives for attacking Paros as something that Xanthippos might have said.238 Herodotus explains that
Miltiades' pretext for attacking the island was that it sent ships to Marathon, but his real reason was a personal grudge against the Parian Lysagoras.239 At least one modern scholar has, like
Chorikios, concluded that Herodotus' account may derive from a source in favor of the
234 Herodotus, Histories 6.136. 235 Libanios, Declamation 11.3. 236 J. A. S. Evans, “Note on Miltiades’ Capture of Lemnos,” Classical Philology 58 (1963): 168–70. 237 Chorikios, Oration 17.protheoria.2. 238 Lupi, Coricio di Gaza, 55. 239 Herodotus, Histories 6.133. 78
prosecution.240 But when this argument is transferred to Chorikios' declamation, it allows him to criticize the historian indirectly. As Miltiades protests, where is the proof for the allegation?
Herodotus' narrative does not offer any proof to back his reasoning or explain how he could possibly have known Miltiades' true designs. Chorikios in the guise of Miltiades rightly lambasts the allegation as agora gossip worthy of punishment once introduced into the courtroom, taking it as a reflection of the petty-mindedness of his accuser.241 If we understand the courtroom of the
Athenians as the courtroom of posterity, then Chorikios is putting Herodotus on trial for his prattling malignity. By attacking Herodotus's much discussed untrustworthiness,242 Chorikios indulges in a kind of historical criticism just like an ancient historian.
However, Chorikios was also rewriting history for his audience. Throughout the declamation he cleverly manipulates the historical record, filling in the gaps of history with facts favoring his case, always according to the recommendations of the theorists. In a conjecture case,
Hermogenes recommends carefully considering the motive and capacity of not only the defendant but also the accuser. The rhetor should review the information available about the life and deeds of these individuals in order to develop their interpretation of the different motives and capacities at play in the trial.243 Chorikios seems to have carefully scrutinized the historical sources available to him for this purpose and when he saw a potentially valuable gap in the historical record, he pounced on it. For example, his Miltiades castigates Xanthippos, Perikles' father, as a gossipmongering, petty-minded, malicious man with no real knowledge of military
240 Robert Develin, “Miltiades and the Parian Expedition,” L’antiquité classique 46 (1977): 573. 241 Chorikios, Oration 17.18-21. 242 See for example, Plutarch, On the Malice of Herodotus. 243 Hermogenes, On Issues, 46-7. 79
operations. How can Xanthippos accuse Miltiades when he does not understand military maneuvers? He has completely misunderstood Miltiades' concealment of the true destination of the Athenian fleet as signifying a malicious intent when really it was meant to surprise the
Parians and make capturing the island easier.244 One might object that Xanthippos actually had military experience, as the Athenians fought under him at Mykale in 479 B.C.245 But since
Xanthippos' early life and biography are not recorded in the historical record, Chorikios was on solid ground to accuse Xanthippos of lacking historical experience, as there was no record of him serving in a military capacity before Xerxes' invasion of Greece.
Similarly, the Persian naval commander Datis received a surprising amount of attention from
Chorikios, who takes advantage of the historical record to deploy him as a historical exemplum.
After Marathon, almost nothing is known about what happened to Datis when he returned to
Persia.246 If Ktesias is trustworthy, he perished at Marathon.247 But declaimers probably were not expected to research their declamations so well that they would have known Ktesias.
Accordingly, Chorikios was free to conjecture Datis' fate. He imagines that Darius received him favorably and did not put him to death, recognizing that the expedition's misfortunes were the work of fortune. If Darius, a cruel barbarian ruler, could treat his commander in such a manner, why were the Athenians now threatening Miltiades with the death penalty for his failure at
244 Chorikios, Oration 17.10. 245 Plutarch, Pericles 3. 246 Rüdiger Schmitt, “Datis,” in Encyclopedia Iranica, vol. 7.2, 1994, http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/datis. 247 Ktesias, History, frag. 13.22, 25. 248 Chorikios, Oration 17.52-4. 80
B. The reputation of Athens: Libanios versus Gregory of Cyprus
The theme of Libanios' declamation The Potidaians tasted each other's flesh while being besieged by the Athenians, and the Athenians are charged with impiety by the Corinthians seems to have been relatively popular among declaimers. The treatise On Invention attributed to
Hermogenes cites it as an example.249 It is based on the events of Thucydides’ narrative of events at Potidaia right after the Peloponnesian War broke out. After seizing Kerkyra, Athens ordered its tributary Potidaia, a Corinthian colony, to demolish one of its walls in order to prevent it from helping Corinth, with whom Athens was at war.250 Potidaia instead revolted and was the battleground of an early skirmish between the Athenians and the Corinthians and Spartans. After losing the skirmish, the Corinthians and Spartans fled behind the walls of Potidaia and were besieged by the Athenians.251 The Corinthian commander Aristeus realized the city could not feed the besieged armies and tried to convince his fellow commanders to leave only 500 men to defend the city.252 But his advice went unheeded. After two years, the defenders finally surrendered, though not before resorting to cannibalism. The Athenian generals in charge of the siege were merciful and let the Corinthians and Spartans depart unharmed, but the Athenian assembly was displeased with its generals for not consulting them and prosecuted them for their actions because the Athenians apparently wanted to take the besieged captive.253 For the prospective declaimer, Thucydides' narrative had much to offer, as it set the Athenians in a
249 Hermogenes, On Invention, 117-8. 250 Thucydides, Histories 1.56-7. 251 Ibid., 1.64. 252 Ibid., 1.65. 253 Ibid., 2.70. 81
negative light and allowed the declaimer to consider the morality of the Athenians and their empire.
Like Sopatros' theme, both Libanios' and Gregory's declamations handled this theme as a counterplea issue. In this issue, the speaker either prosecutes or defends an action that is not generally actionable in court, but as if it could be.254 In this particular circumstance, there was no written law that the Athenians violated by besieging a city until its inhabitants resorted to cannibalism. It was up to the speaker to convince an audience that the Athenians had indeed committed a crime. One way to do this was to accuse the Athenians of Hellenic genocide and crimes against humanity, which were not necessarily against any written law but violated higher laws of morality. As we have seen, Sopatros' sample analysis of a similar counterplea theme did exactly this. He argued that the Corinthians should have known better than to incite the Spartans against the Athenians and that the crimes committed against Greeks during the war are actually the responsibility of the Corinthians, charging the Corinthians with Hellenic genocide for urging on the Peloponnesian War. In his prosecution of Athens, Libanios adopts a similar strategy. Like the speech of the Corinthians at Sparta, his impersonation of the Corinthians puts Athens on trial for its empire and for the crimes that they have committed against the Greeks. Yet, he goes a step further due to the nature of the event in dispute. The Athenians besieged the city and compelled the Potidaians to resort to cannibalism. For the person committing cannibalism, this act is a crime against humankind, gods, and nature. But what about the Athenians who effectively held a
254 On the counterplea issue, Hermogenes, On Issues, 32, 83-8. 82
gun to the head of the Potidaians and Corinthians, forcing them to fall upon this impious and morally reprehensible act?255
This Thucydidean theme therefore gave Libanios the opportunity to refute the myth of Athenian exceptionalism that pervaded the ancient reception of Athens, where Athens was held up as the defender of liberty, the benefactor of mankind, and a pious city of the gods. Libanios' motivation for taking up this theme may stem from his own personal aversion to Athens and rivalry with its rhetorical schools.256 Libanios succinctly undermines this tradition with the question, "If the city of the Athenians has committed actions such as these (i.e., Potidaia)–a city famous for the antiquity of its people, the introduction of laws, piety toward the gods, and food itself257–how can either their victims or we ourselves put up with their actions?"258 As a reader of Thucydides,
Libanios skillfully exploits Thucydides' narrative and ideas to bely the construct of Athenian excellence. As we have seen, Thucydides has already problematized the morality of the Athenian demos in his narrative, highlighting their anger with their generals for negotiating a settlement rather than enslaving the besiegers. Libanios naturally enhances the implications of Thucydides, attacking the Athenian demos for their insatiable greed and lack of regard for human life.
Libanios explores these issues with a hypothetical question:
255 Libanios, Declamation 13.35. 256 Aaron Wenzel, “Libanius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Ideal of Athens in Late Antiquity,” Journal of Late Antiquity 3 (2010): 264–85. 257 Athens was famous throughout antiquity for the introduction of grain. Allegedly, the Athenian Triptolemos received Demeter while she was mourning Persephone and was given a chariot to spread grain throughout the world. 258 Libanios, Declamation 13.27. 83
οὐ γὰρ ὅπως ἢ τοὺς παθόντας ὧν ἔπαθον ᾤκτειρεν ἢ τοὺς ταῦτα βιασαµένους
στρατηγοὺς κατεµέµψατο. πόθεν; ὅς γε τοὐναντίον ὡς φιλανθρώπων κατέγνωκεν...
διόπερ οὐδ’ἄγνοιαν ἔστιν αὐτοῖς προφασίσασθαι τῶν πραχθέντων. ἡ γὰρ µετὰ
ταῦτα ἀπανθρωπία τὸ κἀκεῖνα εἰδέναι µαρτυρεῖ.
It was not because the Athenian demos took pity on the victims for what they had
suffered or because they faulted the generals who compelled this action [that they
prosecuted the generals]. Why then did they prosecute them? The demos on the
contrary condemned its generals for showing humanity... For this reason, the
Athenians cannot allege that they were ignorant of what happened. Their lack of
humanity after the fact testifies to their complicit knowledge of what was going
A defender of Athens might allege that the Athenians had no knowledge of what was going on and even assert that their prosecution was motivated by a desire to punish the generals responsible, but Libanios effectively curtails this train of thought by highlighting how they acted after the "war crime" was committed. Libanios also cleverly challenges the piety of the
Athenians by raising their decree against Megara as reported in Thucydides. Allegedly, the
Megarians had trodden on sacred land and in response Athens had forbidden them from stepping foot on Attic land. For some ancient observers, the decree was the main reason why Athens and
Sparta went to war.260 A defender of Athens might hold this event up as a sign of Athenian piety
259 Libanios, Declamation 13.44. 260 Plutarch, Pericles 30. 84
and their unwillingness to trade conviction for political expediency. Libanios concedes this side of the argument by introducing the decree in his text. The text of the decree does not survive, but
Libanios apparently made it up based on Thucydides' description of it.261 His purpose, however, was to flip the decree on its head by arguing that it does not reflect the Athenians’ alleged piety as it is cancelled out by their conduct at Potidaia. The Megarians trampled on sacred lands; the
Athenians rode roughshod over human nature by compelling cannibalism. How can they maintain that they are pious?
Libanios employs Thucydides for his historical declamations just as ancient teachers of rhetoric advised their students. As we have seen, Sopatros recommended taking the speech of the
Corinthians at Sparta as raw material for constructing an accusation of the Corinthians. Libanios' situation was easier, as he was impersonating the Corinthians. He recycles the Corinthians' ideas and arguments for his own speech, dwelling on how the Athenians have constructed an unjust, tyrannical empire over their fellow Greeks.262 When introducing this section of his argument,
Libanios even paraphrases the words with which the Corinthians began their speech at Sparta:
[O]ὔτ’ ἂν ὅλως ἐν τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἦν τύραννος πόλις, εἰ µὴ δι’ ὑµᾶς, ὦ ἄνδρες
Ἕλληνες, καὶ τὴν ὑµετέραν ὀλιγωρίαν, οἳ πολλάκις ἡµῶν ἠκούετε λεγόντων καὶ
261 Libanios, Declamation 13.53. Cf. Thucydides, Histories 1.67, 139. 262 Libanios, Declamation 13.6-7. Cf. Thucydides, Histories 1.68-69. 85
There would have never been a tyrannical city among the Greeks, were it not
because of you, my fellow Greeks, and your disregard for us, whom you have
often heard warning you and shouting…263
Compare with Thucydides:
Πολλάκις γὰρ προαγορευόντων ἡµῶν ἃ ἐµέλλοµεν ὑπὸ Ἀθηναίων βλάπτεσθαι, οὐ
περὶ ὧν ἐδιδάσκοµεν ἑκάστοτε τὴν µάθησιν ἐποιεῖσθε, ἀλλὰ τῶν λεγόντων µᾶλλον
ὑπενοεῖτε ὡς ἕνεκα τῶν αὑτοῖς ἰδίᾳ διαφόρων λέγουσιν·
We have warned you many times that the Athenians would cause injury, but you
did not pay any mind to our frequent instructions. Instead, you essentially viewed
our warnings with distrust, thinking that we addressed them to you because of our
personal quarrels with the Athenians.264
Seizing upon the words of the Corinthians, Libanios has not only made his impersonation of the
Corinthians more convincing, by using their words from Thucydides, but he has also turned their warning into a common rebuke of the Greeks for not listening sooner rather than later. Libanios even reappropriates the Corinthians' rebuke of the Spartans for their slowness to action and their unwillingness to make war. As part of his multi-pronged campaign against Athenian exceptionalism, Libanios reviles their swift and decisive method of warfare. His Corinthians hold
263 Libanios, Declamation 13.6. 264 Thucydides, Histories 1.68.2. 86
up the Spartans as the paradigm for how wars should be fought: they do not start a war, they do not rush into it, and they deliberate for as long as possible.265 Libanios' declamation reflects the fact that he had read Thucydides often throughout his life. As a declaimer, he does not appear to have needed to fabricate any details for his case.
Nearly one thousand years after Libanios wrote his assault on Athens and its empire, his argument elicited a Byzantine response, which was so well written that modern scholars would not have known that it was by someone other than Libanios were it not for the manuscript title.
Gregory of Cyprus's antilogy to Libanios took the side of the Athenians in the debate. Labeling the Corinthians' (aka Libanios') charges as 'infantile', Gregory's declamation seeks to reveal the truth about Athens before an assembly of Spartans.266 His decision to write a response to
Libanios was most likely inspired by his love for Aristeides' image of Athens, as expounded in the latter’s Panathenaic Oration. In Byzantium and during the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries,
Aristeides' Panathenaic Oration was one of the most popular rhetorical texts in the curriculum.
One thirteenth-century anonymous teacher of rhetoric of rhetoric labeled the Panathenaic
Oration one of the four essential texts that every student should read.267 Gregory was no exception. Aristeides numbered among Gregory's favorite authors and was a text he read with his students.268 His response to Libanios draws upon the general spirit of the Panathenaic Oration's celebration of Athens as the defender and benefactor of all Hellenes against barbarians, in order
265 Libanios Declamation 13.25. Cf. Thucydides 1.69.3-4. 266 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 1, 5. 267 Pseudo-Gregory of Corinth, On the four parts of a complete speech, 105. 268 Constantine Constantinides, “Teachers and Students of Rhetoric in the Late Byzantine Period,” in Rhetoric in Byzantium, ed. Elizabeth Jeffreys (London: Ashgate, 2003), 46–47; Sofia Kotzabassi, Die handschriftliche Überlieferung der rhetorischen und hagiographischen Werke des Gregor von Zypern (Wiesbaden: L. Reichert, 1998), 7. Nikephoros Choumnos, On those who took ill, 369. 87
to defend the reputation of Athens. Repeatedly in it, the Athenians emphasize how they have helped their fellow Greeks with ideas pulled from Aristeides. For example, at the beginning of their oration, the Athenians remind their audience that Athens founded colonies in Ionia and
Sicily to defend Greece from barbarian invasion as part of their pro-Greek, anti-barbarian policy.269 This idea comes directly from Aristeides.270 Aristeides is also probably the source of the Athenians' celebration of Theseus' victory over the Amazons and the destruction of Sardis in
498 B.C. as early signs of their opposition to barbarity.271 This was the natural response to
Libanios' accusations that Athens and its empire had committed crimes against their fellow
Greeks. The Athenians needed to show that their conduct had always benefited their fellow
Hellenes, so that an audience might believe that Potidaia was a single isolated incident rather than an indication of a general pattern of behavior.
As a reader of Thucydides, Gregory seems to have borrowed fewer arguments and ideas from
Thucydides than Libanios did. In describing the process of how the Athenian empire was formed, he does echo the words of the Athenians at the Spartan assembly in Book 1, namely that the Athenians had only formed their empire at the invitation of Greek city-states who sought their aid.272 However, Gregory seems to have relied on Aristeides for his facts and arguments.
Unlike Libanios, Gregory was more willing to fabricate material for his arguments and fill in the holes in the historical record. For example, after presenting Athens' antibarbarian mission,
Gregory applies this ideology to the particular circumstances of Potidaia. Unlike Libanios and
269 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 3. 270 Ailios Aristeides, Panathenaic Oration 64-6. 271 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 48. Cf. Ailios Aristeides, Panathenaic Oration 82-4 (Amazons), 94 (Sardis). 272 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 49. Cf. Thucydides, Histories 1.75.2. 88
Thucydides, he pays a great deal of attention to how the city first came under Athenian rule.
Since the historical record did not have much to say about Potidaia's history before the siege,
Gregory freely filled in the gap with a pro-Athenian narrative. He presents Potidaia as a city that was threatened by Thracian barbarians. It came to Athens to ask for protection and basically forced the city to help it, appealing not only to the assembly but also elite citizens in private meetings. It threatened to go over to the barbarians if Athens did not help it and do what was honorable: rule as a Greek over Greeks rather than let a barbarian rule over Greeks.273 Gregory thus shows that Athens' rule over Potidaia was just and that the Athenians were true to their principles of fighting on behalf of all Greeks. Gregory even highlights the selflessness of the
Athenians in this regard and their willingness to exert themselves on behalf of others by mentioning all the money and effort they spent defending the city against barbarian attacks, attacks of which there is no historical record.274 Gregory's inventions help paint Potidaia as an ungrateful city, which revolted against its protector and justify the Athenians' position tearing down the city's wall and besieging it.
The main aspect of Thucydides' Athenians that Gregory seems to have adopted is their spirit and character. Whether or not he was aware of the declaimers' emphasis on assessing and then imitating the character of the person they were imitating, Gregory seems to have almost channeled the Corinthians' characterization of the Athenians at Sparta as bold, risk takers.275 His
Athenians boldly praise themselves in front of the Spartans. At one point, his Athenians even boast how they have attacked and destroyed the Peloponnese, while the Spartans' attacks on
273 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 11-2. 274 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 13-4. 275 Thucydides, Histories 1.70.3 89
Attica have done little harm.276 Nevertheless, sometimes his choice of material from Thucydides is questionable. For example, his Athenians remind the Spartans how they assisted them in a helot revolt during the Pentakontaetia (Thuc. 101-2).277 On its face, this seems like good material to include, illustrating Athens' benefactions on behalf of other Greeks. But in Thucydides this is signaled as the very moment when the Spartans began to fear the Athenians for their bold and innovative spirit. Why would an Athenian speaker remind Spartans of that moment?
Gregory's declamation also makes a number of similarly strange choices. Libanios' Corinthians had pleaded before an audience of fellow Greeks. Gregory, however, imagines his audience as an assembly of Spartans, which makes for a curious dynamic of Athenians celebrating themselves in front of a hostile audience. At least with an audience of fellow Greeks, the Athenians might have gained some traction, since they had benefited some of them in the past. Speaking before the Spartans after the Corinthians, it is almost as if Gregory conceived of his speech as part of a rebooted Thucydidean Assembly at Sparta. Like the Athenians themselves at Sparta, Gregory too was fighting an uphill battle against an enemy who would have been unwilling to listen to his
Athenians' pomposity. It is curious that Gregory backs himself into a corner like this. A better strategy for the Athenians would have been to defend the justness of their empire in general while acknowledging that their empire has been somewhat problematic, as the Athenians do at
Sparta in Thucydides.278 Then, the Athenians could have attempted to deflect the debate away from themselves onto a battlefield in which they could win the argument. They might have pointed out the problems with war in general and how the Corinthians inflicted their suffering
276 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 36. 277 Gregory of Cyprus, Antilogy 4. 278 Thucydides, Histories 1.75. 90
upon themselves. For example, Thucydides makes a big deal of the fact that the Corinthian commander Aristeus advised the defenders of Potidaia that they needed to leave only 500 men to defend the city, but they did not listen to him.279 Libanios' declamation does not even mention this circumstance, perhaps because it was in his best interests to minimize it. Nevertheless,
Gregory might have seized upon this glaring omission, questioning why Libanios' Corinthians were silent about their own folly. If they had listened to their wise commander and left behind only the number of men needed to defend the city, there would have been no need for the city's defenders to fall to cannibalism, since they would have possessed ample food with less mouths to feed. Yes, Potidaia did suffer, but it was mainly because of the Corinthians' lack of foresight.
C. A Historian Rewrites Thucydides: Nikephoros Gregoras
For our final declamation, we turn to the Palaiologan polymath Nikephoros Gregoras. Gregoras lived during the first half of the fourteenth century and was an influential public intellectual. He wrote in a variety of genres, but for modern historians he is perhaps most famous for his Roman
History.280 One declamation on a theme from Thucydides survives among a trove of his minor writings. Since Gregoras was also a historian who imitated Thucydides, this declamation offers a unique experience. We know that many ancient and late antique historians were trained in declamation. Yet not a single declamation by an ancient historian has survived. This declamation therefore allows us to see how the future historian at workread and reworked Thucydides for his theme. The theme of Gregoras' declamation The Spartans march with the Thebans on Plataia
279 Thucydides, Histories 1.65. 280 On Gregoras, see the introduction to Jan Louis van Dieten, Rhomäische Geschichte, vol. 1 (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1973). 91
and the Plataians send ambassadors asking them not to make war is not attested elsewhere.281
The theme is entirely original. It appears to have been Gregoras' own attempt to rewrite the speech of the Plataians before an assembly of Spartans and Thebans (2.71.2-4). In 429 B.C.,
Sparta and its allies had marched against the city. Plataia sent ambassadors to protest that the
Spartans were not acting justly or in a manner befitting themselves and their ancestors. The
Spartan king Pausanias had granted Plataia independence after Xerxes' invasion and forbidden anyone from ever marching on them unjustly or attempting to enslave them on the pain of retribution from Sparta and its allies. Sparta and her allies, including Thebes, who had impiously attacked Plataia, should not be trying to enslave the city, as it had not violated any existing oaths or harmed Sparta. But Sparta instead demanded that the city become neutral, which Plataia refused after consulting with Athens. Thus began the famed siege of Plataia.
In Thucydides, the speech of the Plataians is extremely short. It is not even an entire section long. The scholiasts to Thucydides did not even bother to analyze the speech. Gregoras' declamation took this brief Thucydidean speech and expanded it into a fully developed,
Hermogenean oration. He handles the theme as a practical issue, seeing that the question at stake was whether or not the Spartans should make war on Plataia. Unlike many ancient declamations, we are fortunate enough that Gregoras gives us his own breakdown of the speech. His autograph copy of the declamation that survives labels all the major parts of the speech, including its issue and the headings of arguments it includes.282 Gregoras includes all of Hermogenes' headings of a
281 No similar themes from the Peloponnesian War are contained in Kohl, De scholasticarum declamationum, 39– 45. 282 Nikephoros Gregoras, Declamation, 765-6. 92
practical issue in his elaboration of Thucydides, except for legality (Τὸ νόµιµον), since in this theme there was no written law in dispute.283
Gregoras' declamation has a Hermogenic skeleton, but its themes are simply an elaboration of those in Thucydides. Its diegesis runs through all of the major points of Thucydides. Like
Thucydides, Gregoras starts his oration by reminding the Spartans that they are overlooking the existing customs and acting unworthily, perhaps carried away by the lies of the Thebans.284 From there, Gregoras runs through Plataia's accomplishments during Xerxes' invasion and Pausanias' grant of independence to Plataia before turning to the Thebans.285 Gregoras' account of the
Thebans' attack on Plataia is an elaborate retelling of Thucydides 2.2-5 with some key omissions and fabrications.286 For example, Thucydides emphasizes the fact that the Thebans were invited in by disloyal Plataians. Gregoras' Thebans conveniently leave this detail out, as its omission increases their moral outrage at the Thebans for invading during a time of peace.287 The Plataians are also surprisingly religious, attributing their city’s salvation to divine favor.288 Modern scholarship has long noted the absence of the divine in Thucydides' account of Plataia.289 It is not until a speech of the Plataians in Book 3 that Thucydides even brings up the fact that the Thebans invaded during a sacred festival!290 Gregoras seems to have been oblivious to the timing of the
Theban attack, even though it would have significantly helped him paint the Thebans as impious
283 On the practical issue and its heads, Hermogenes, On Issues, 76-79. 284 Nikephoros Gregoras, Declamation, 752-3. Cf. Thucydides, Histories, 2.72.2. 285 Nikephoros Gregoras, Declamation, 754. Cf. Thucydides, Histories, 2.72.2. 286 Nikephoros Gregoras, Declamation, 755-6. 287 Thucydides, Histories 1.2.2. 288 Nikephoros Gregoras, Declamation, 755-6. 289 Connor, Thucydides, 52 n. 2. 290 Thucydides, Histories 3.56.2. 93
invaders. But given the indirect way in which Thucydides mentions the religious festival, this detail probably escaped Gregoras' attention. From here, Gregoras covers the last major point made by Thucydides' Plataians, that they have acted justly and the Spartans will do wrong by attacking the city.291
As an elaboration of a Thucydidean speech, Gregoras' declamation does have its share of problems. Ancients and moderns have often excoriated Thucydides for his speeches' lack of clarity. Gregoras, if it is possible, has outdone Thucydides in this regard. His style is typical of the cramped and obscure style of the late Byzantine era. His declamation is also somewhat problematic from an ideological perspective. Gregoras seems to have had trouble stepping into the thought world of the ancient Greeks. For example, his Thebans talk to the Spartans as if they were subjects addressing their rulers. When convincing the Spartans to listen carefully to what they say, the Plataians say:
...καὶ χρεὼν τοῖς τοὺς ὑπηκόους πρὸς εὔνοιαν σφῶν προσάγεσθαι ᾑρηµένοις µὴ
τοὺς µὲν εὐµένως, τοὺς δὲ ἐναντίως προσίεσθαι, ἀλλὰ ἑκατέρους ὡσαύτως. Τουτί
δ᾽ οὺ µόνως γε τοῖς ὑπηκόοις, ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ ἧττον καἰ τοῖς ἄρχουσι φαµέν πων (sic)
εἶναι οὐκ ἀσύµφορον.
291 Nikephoros Gregoras, Declamation, 757-8. 94
...And it is necessary for those who have elected to make their subjects loyal not to
listen to one side favorably and the other disfavorably, but both sides equally. We
say that this is in the interests of not just subjects, but no less rulers.292
Gregoras does not seem to have able to step outside of the imperial dynamic of Rome. In
Thucydides' world, it would have been very strange, shameful even, for the Plataians to talk about the Spartans as if they were their rulers, since the city was autonomous and free from
Spartan rule. In the Plataians' speeches before Sparta, they never address Sparta in such a manner.293 If they must talk about Sparta's effective rule, they discuss the city leading its allies with the verb ἄγω.294 After all, Sparta's war with Athens was allegedly fought on behalf of the
Greeks to liberate them from the Athenian ἀρχή.
It is possible that this slip is just a failing of Gregoras, but his declamation may have had ulterior motives. Near the end of the document, Gregoras' Thebans reminds the Spartans of all the reasons that their ancestors once fought the barbarians, censuring the Spartans for choosing to make war on their fellow Greeks rather than barbarians. "When all of Greece is destroyed, you will see Greece just a colony of the barbarians, and those, who were previously driven by the sword as far away from Greece as possible, will inhabit it and treat it with utter impudence."295
In Thucydides, the Greeks do not really fear a Persian invasion, much less a Persian settlement on Hellenic soil. However, the fear of civil war wrecking a state and leaving it prey to barbarian
292 Nikephoros Gregoras, Declamation, 752. 293 Thucydides, Histories 2.71.2-4; 3.53-9. 294 Thucydides, Histories 3.55.3-4. 295 Gregoras, Declamation, 762. 95
invaders was very familiar to Gregoras. During his lifetime, the Byzantine state was racked by three civil wars, which left the state open to Turkish and Serbian depredations In his history, he details how the Byzantine state destroyed itself and how the former lands of Greece were settled by Turkish invaders. Thus, his declamation may have had an underlying purpose: to convince his students or audience of the evils of civil war and point out the possible results of these self- destructive conflicts.296 When the Plataians address the Spartans as their masters, this may have been meant to open the door to subtly drawing parallels between the present day and the ancient past. The Spartans in effect represent the Byzantine emperors and ruling class for whom this oration may have been intended as indirect advice and a parable of sorts. Byzantine instructors of rhetoric certainly did not shy away from introducing contemporary politics into the classroom, unlike their ancient predecessors. For example, Gunther Martin and Niels Gaul have highlighted how the declamations of Gregoras' contemporary Thomas Magistros try to address contemporary political realities such as taxation, even if his declamations are not at all historically accurate.297
The famed philosopher and neopagan George Gemistos Plethon even included thinly veiled sample sentences pleading for the reconstruction of the Hexamilion wall across the Isthmos of
Corinth in the Peloponnese by the Byzantine government in his handbook on rhetoric.298 Thus,
Gregoras' declamation may have been a veiled commentary on civil war and its poisonous fruits.
If the emperors continued to fight their wars, their enemies would profit from the situation and establish footholds in Greece.
296 Rodolphe Guilland, Essai sur Nicéphore Grégoras: l’homme et l’oeuvre (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1926), 132. 297 Gunther Martin, “Rhetorical Exercise or Political Pamphlet? Thomas Magistros’ Exploitation of Demosthenes’ Against Leptines,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 46 (2006): 207–26; Niels Gaul, Thomas Magistros und die spätbyzantische Sophistik: Studien zum Humanismus urbaner Eliten der frühen Palaiologenzeit (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2011), 139–40. 298 Plethon, Synopsis of Rhetoric, 595-6. 96
In antiquity, no practice was more essential to learning rhetoric than declamation. The historical declamation trained students to step into a particular set of historical circumstances and produce a relatively accurate historical role-play. There was room for the declaimer to fabricate information for his argument, but he was expected to only fill in the holes in the historical record, not invent whole new stories. The declamation, with its heavy reuse of ideas and concepts from the ancient historians, also offered an interesting window onto historical and cultural commentary. For example, Chorikios' declamation on Miltiades allowed him to criticize an anecdote in Herodotus, while Libanios' Thucydidean theme was an opportunity for the declaimer to challenge Athens' fame in antiquity and transform the bringer of human civilization into the harbinger of internecine disaster. In Byzantium, the declamation set in the distant past even offered the opportunity for political commentary on contemporary events free from imperial backlash.
Nevertheless, the historical declamation's emphasis on reusing ancient ideas and arguments raises a number of questions, if we consider this phenomenon from the standpoint of mimesis.
After completing their training declaiming, how did students of rhetoric apply what they had learned when they turned to write a history? How did their training dictate and impact their imitation of ancient historians? This is the line of inquiry will be pursued in the following chapters.
Chapter 3: From textbook to history: imitating Thucydides
"If those judge my work useful who wish to examine the clear truth of events that
have already transpired as well as those that are destined to happen again in more
or less the same fashion (human nature being what it is), that will be enough."299
When Thucydides wrote these words he could hardly have envisioned how his work would be used by later readers. Sometimes described as the first rhetorical historian by modern scholars,300
Thucydides had become a staple of rhetorical training by the first century B.C. Rhetors drew upon the Athenian historian throughout their students’ rhetorical training, starting from the progymnasmata. While reading Thucydides with their students, they used his work to drill stasis theory before embarking upon declamation. The cornerstone of rhetorical practice, declamation asked students to step into the shoes of a character in Thucydides, reimagining the past and even appropriating whole arguments from Thucydides. After completing their rhetorical training, students pursued their careers in a wide variety of fields such as law, rhetoric, philosophy, and the imperial bureaucracy. A small minority even went on to become noted historians, who drew
299 Thucydides, Histories 1.22.4. 300 Marincola, “Rethinking Isocrates and History.” 98
upon what they had learned in the classroom to imitate the historian and write their own works of history.
It is therefore time to turn to the final rhetorical practice that undergirded a student's education and his subsequent practice as a historian: imitation. The concept of imitation, mimesis in Greek and imitatio in Latin, has a long history dating back to Plato and Aristotle.301 Originally referring to a wider range of human experience (e.g., children imitating parents, artists imitating life), imitating the content and form of ancient authors soon became a key practice of Hellenistic rhetoric. Rhetorical imitation, that is textual imitation of a specific author, became normative around the first century B.C., though it may date from earlier.302 Ancient theorists differed on what practices to use when imitating an author, but the goal was to draw upon the stylistic excellence of a predecessor to create a brand new style. Ideally, aspiring imitators would draw upon his spirit rather than his actual words. They should see themselves as emulators and competitors within the common inherited legacy of their predecessors, seeking to improve upon it. But in practice, rhetorical imitation frequently consisted of paraphrasing an author's ideas or
301 On forms of imitation other than rhetorical mimesis, see John Muckelbauer, “Imitation and Invention in Antiquity: An Historical-Theoretical Revision,” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 21 (2003): 61–88; Ekaterina V. Haskins, “‘Mimesis’ between Poetics and Rhetoric: Performance Culture and Civic Education in Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 30 (2000): 7–33; Teryl Givens, “Aristotle’s Critique of Mimesis: The Romantic Prelude,” Comparative Literature Studies 28 (1991): 121–36. 302 On the practice of rhetorical imitation, see David West, A. J Woodman, and Donald Russell, eds., “De Imitatione,” in Creative Imitation and Latin Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 1–16; Muckelbauer, “Imitation and Invention”; Jacques Bompaire, Lucien écrivain, imitation et création. (Paris: Edition de Boccard, 1958), 64–85; Herbert Hunger, “On the Imitation (ΜΙΜΗΣΙΣ) of Antiquity in Byzantine Literature,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 23–24 (1969): 15–38; Willem Aerts, “Imitatio and Aemulatio in Byzantium with Classical Literature, Especially in Historical Writing,” in Constructions of Greek Past: Identity and Historical Consciousness from Antiquity to the Present, ed. Hero Hokwerda (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2003); Andrew Pitts, “The Origins of Greek Mimesis and the Gospel of Mark: Genre as a Potential Constraint in Assessing Markan Imitation,” in Ancient Education and Early Christianity, ed. Matthew Hauge and Andrew Pitts (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 107–36. For a plausible discussion of rhetorical imitation in the Hellenistic historian Duris of Samos, Vivienne Gray, “Mimesis in Greek Historical Theory,” The American Journal of Philology 108, no. 3 (1987): 467–86. 99
even drawing upon his very words to write a set scene or speech. At its most extreme, rhetorical imitation could consist of cutting, pasting, and creatively rearranging the model's text. For example, Lucian famously ridiculed a second century imitator of Thucydides’ plague narrative for lifting everything but the walls of Athens from the historian.303
Discussions of imitation in Greek literature have often focused on poets' imitation of one another.304 Rhetorical and especially historiographical imitation have received considerably less attention.305 Late antique and Byzantine studies have tackled some issues raised by historiographical imitation, as some scholars in these fields once doubted the veracity of scenes modeled on ancient historians. It was not uncommon to attack the truthfulness of siege descriptions or plague narratives modeled after Herodotus or Thucydides.306 However, we lack an overarching view of historiographical imitation in Greek historical tradition. This is a large topic, which I cannot hope to address in full here. But as Thucydides was widely imitated from antiquity onward, the study of his imitation can provide a general framework for understanding the larger issues at stake in 'rhetorical historiography.'
303 Lucian, On how to write history 15. 304 Gian Biagio Conte, The Rhetoric of Imitation: Genre and Poetic Memory in Virgil and Other Latin Poets, trans. Charles Segal (Ithaca, N.J.: Cornell University Press, 1996); Tim Whitmarsh, Greek Literature and the Roman Empire: The Politics of Imitation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Andrée Thill, “Alter Ab Illo” : Recherches Sur l’imitation Dans La Poésie Personnelle à l’époque Augustéenne (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1979); Arno Reiff, Interpretatio, Imitatio, Aemulatio. Begriff Und Vorstellung Literarischen Abhdngigkeit Bei Den Romern (Köln, 1959). 305 The most helpful introduction to the issues for classicists is Marincola, Authority and Tradition, 12–19. 306 For doubters, Hermann Braun, Procopius Caesariensis quatenus imitatus sit Thucydidem (Erlangen, 1885), 61; Edward Thompson, “Priscus of Panium, Fragment I B,” Classical Quarterly 39 (1945): 92–94; J. A. S. Evans, “The Attitudes of the Secular Historians of the Age of Justinian Towards the Classical Past,” Traditio 32 (1976): 355. They were challenged by Gyula Moravcsik, “Klassizismus in der byzantinischen Geschichtsschreibung,” in Polychronion, ed. Franz Dölger and Peter Wirth (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1966), 366–77; Hunger, “On the Imitation”; R. C. Blockley, “Dexippus and Priscus and the Thucydidean Account of the Siege of Plataea,” Phoenix 26 (1972): 18–27; Herbert Hunger, “Thukydides Bei Johannes Kantakuzenos: Beobachtungen Zur Mimesis,” Jahrbuch Der Österreichischen Byzantinistik, 181-93, 25 (1976); Timothy S. Miller, “The Plague in John VI Cantacuzenus and Thucydides,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 17 (1976): 385–95. " 100
This chapter and the following one then will handle Thucydidean intertextuality as it was mediated through imitation as a rhetorical practice. This chapter will focus on the most common imitations of Thucydidean narrations: plagues,307 sieges,308 battles,309 and stasis (3.82-3).310 The following chapter will treat speeches, as they were impacted by reading Thucydides and declamation. In the footnotes below, I cite all later classical, late antique, and Byzantine imitations of these key Thucydidean template-narrations of which I am aware. One could argue there are more potential imitations of Thucydides in authors such as Livy or Caesar than those cited here.311 In determining what constituted a Thucydidean scene, I looked for at least two or more verbal or conceptual parallels between Thucydides and a potential imitator. I also looked for scenes which are imitated multiple times across the Greek and Roman historiographical tradition. This discussion of imitation will not focus on Thucydidean concepts in later authors such as tyche, which as common concepts are prone to cross-contamination by other intertexts.
307 Lucretius, On the Nature of Things 6.1138-286; Diodoros Sikoulus, Historical Library 14.70-1; Livy, History of Rome 41.21; Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 9.42.1-2, 10.53; Josephos, Jewish Antiquities 7.324-6; Cassius Dio, Roman History 53.29; Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Gregory the Wonderworker, 956-7; Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22-3; Agathias, History 5.10; John Kantakouzenos, History 3.50-2; Kritoboulos, History 5.17- 9. 308 The siege of Plataia (Thuc. 2.74-6): Caesar, The Gallic War 7.22; Appian, Punic Wars 66-7; Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 2.18-21; Dexippos, Gothic Wars, frag. 27; Priskos, History, frag. 1b (Blockley 6.2); Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.26.9; 5.21.7-8; Agathias, History 3.5.10. Kritoboulos, History 1.33-4. On this siege in imitations, see Tamás Mészáros, “Variations on a Theme: From Thucydides to Procopius,” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 52 (2012): 225–34. 309 The battle of Epipolai (7.43-4): Sallust, The Jugurthine War 38; Tacitus, Histories 3.22; Josephos, Jewish War 6.136-141. The battle of Syracuse (7.71): Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.19; Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.9. The battle of Naupaktos (Thuc. 2.83-4): Appian, Civil Wars 5.89; Prokopios, History of the Wars 3.13, 8.23.29-3. 310 Kerkyrean stasis (Thuc. 3.82-3): Price, “Josephus’ Reading”; Sallust, The Catiline War 52.11; Jonathan Price, “Thucydidean Stasis and the Roman Empire in Appian’s Interpretation of History,” in Appian’s Roman History: Empire and Civil War, ed. Kathryn Welch (Swansea: The Classical Press of Wales, 2015), 45–64; Kantakouzenos, History, 2.177-9. 311 Barbara Saylor Rodgers, “Great Expeditions: Livy on Thucydides,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 116 (1986): 335–52; Giancarlo Reggi, “Cesare e il racconto delle battaglie navali sotto Marsiglia,” “Rendiconti dell’Istituto Lombardo” (Classe di Lettere e Scienze morali e storiche) 136 (2002): 71–108.Saylor 101
For this reason, concepts are difficult to isolate as distinctly Thucydidean, and thus modern scholars can spend a vast amount of effort proving something is Thucydidean only for their conclusions to collapse when read against the concept's wider intertextual resonances outside
Thucydides.312 Similarly, I will not discuss brief quotations or citations of Thucydides in later historians, even though this could be an interesting topic in and of itself.
By looking at the most commonly imitated Thucydidean scenes across the Greek historiographical tradition, this chapter tackles what we might term systemic imitation. Almost every ancient employed Thucydides in his own idiosyncratic way, but we cannot escape the fact that there are general trends in terms of what was imitated. As I will contend, the parts of
Thucydides that rhetors used in the classroom and recommended to their students became the most commonly imitated parts of Thucydides. As such, this is in a sense a study of the channel that extended from studying Thucydides in the classroom to imitating him later in life. For too long, modern discussions of imitation have skimmed over this process. They might note a scene was commonly studied in rhetorical schools, but they leave the issue there, divorcing modern discussions of imitation from rhetorical practice. This chapter and the following one put practice back into the equation, contending that historiographical and school practice cannot be so easily separated. The latter shaped imitation on a macroscopic and microscopic level. It will be shown that rhetorical practices also guided how historians dealt with events and wrapped real events up in Thucydidean forms, negotiating the lines between truth and fiction. Finally, this chapter will
312 E.g., Price, “Josephus’ Reading.” Contested by Lada Sementchenko, “La Notion de Stasis Chez Thucydide et Flavius Josèphe,” in Ombres de Thucydide: La Réception de l’historien Depuis l’antiquité Jusqu’au Début Du XXe Siècle : Actes Des Colloques de Bordeaux, Les 16-17 Mars 2007, de Bordeaux, Les 30-31 Mai 2008 et de Toulouse, Les 23-25 Octobre 2008, ed. Valérie Fromentin, Sophie Gotteland, and Pascal Payen (Pessac: Ausonius, 2010), 65. 102
examine how rhetorical practices inspired creative imitations of Thucydides. Generation after generation, historians would try to improve upon Thucydides and better him, employing the rhetorical practices and guidelines of their schooling. Sometimes, they would try to best him in his own domain (e.g., plague scenes, sieges) through emulation, but Thucydides might also inspire the creation of whole new scenes in the Greek rhetorical tradition.
To classicists, historiographical imitation might seem somewhat démodé as a topic, now made obsolete by “intertextuality.”313 A series of articles and books published in recent years attest a growing interest in applying intertextuality to historiography and discovering how historiographical intertextuality differs from that employed in poetry.314 Intertextuality has opened up historiography to thinking about old questions in new ways. For example, how do historians interact with literary texts? How do they form a dialogue with their sources? How do they reflect or contradict prevailing cultural discourses?315 How do they translate reality into words? The concept of intertextuality has beneficially opened up new avenues of historiographical research.
313 For a recent overview of intertextuality in classics citing earlier literature, see Yelena Baraz and Christopher S. van den Berg, “Introduction,” American Journal of Philology 134 (2013): 1–8. 314 David Levene, Livy on the Hannibalic War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), chap. 1; Ellen O’Gorman, “Intextuality and Historiography,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians, ed. Andrew Feldherr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 231–42; Andrew Feldherr, “Free Spirits: Sallust and the Citation of Catiline,” American Journal of Philology 134 (2013): 49–66; Christopher Pelling, “Intertextuality, Plausibility, and Interpretation,” Histos 7 (2013): 1–20; Cynthia Damon, “Déjà vu or Déjà Lu? History as Intertext,” in Health and Sickness in Ancient Rome: Greek and Roman Poetry and Historiography, ed. Francis Cairns and Miriam T Griffin (Cambridge: Francis Cairns, 2010), 375–88; Gavin Kelly, Ammianus Marcellinus: The Allusive Historian. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 161–222.. 315 Andrew M Riggsby, Caesar in Gaul and Rome: War in Words (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006), does an excellent job of considering how Caesar interacts with contemporary discourses, such as that of the northern barbarian. 103
But in all these modern treatments of historiographical writing, there is hardly a word on imitation, even though scholars have noted that modeling events on earlier events was a key component of historiographical intertextuality.316 Obviously, imitation as a classroom practice is no magic bullet to understanding all forms of historiographical intertextuality. But I contend that it is nevertheless an important tool for understanding intentional intertextuality, that is when an author deliberately references or models his text on an earlier text. As intentional intertextuality is the concern of most modern studies of historiographical intertextuality, we cannot afford to neglect (1) the role of ancient schools as an intermediary between an author and the text he is emulating and (2) how rhetorical practice shaped the construction of events based on rhetorical models. Too often modern studies of intertextuality crudely compare text A and B with little regard for the educational practices that mediated A for B, as if the author of text B read A as we do today. As I will contend throughout this chapter, historiographical intertextuality is far from innocent, but mediated by the practices of those rhetors who taught later imitators how to appreciate history.
1. Thucydides' greatest hits
In his seminal three-book treatise On Imitation,317 Dionysios of Halikarnassos compares the process of imitation to the approach of the fifth century B.C. painter Zeuxis. When painting his nude masterpiece of Helen of Troy, Zeuxis scrutinized many different naked women from the town of Kroton. Every woman was beautiful in some way, flawed in another. But by uniting all that was beautiful about each of them separately in a single woman, Zeuxis created the perfect
316 Pelling, “Intertextuality, Plausibility, and Interpretation,” 2. 317 He is cited by Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes’ On Style, 99-100. 104
woman.318 For the potential imitator of a text, this metaphor was particularly apt. Throughout their rhetorical training, students of rhetoric learned to appreciate a text's strengths and weaknesses like Zeuxis, and then draw upon its strengths to write something new. That imitation was one of the fundamental aims of ancient scholarship is often forgotten by modern scholars because it is no longer part of our training. When we study an author such as Thucydides, the questions we ask are determined by our interpretive practices. For example, we might read him in light of a critical theory such as narratology or intertextuality. But our approach is essentially a passive or reactive one. Our criticism of Thucydides aims to produce more, better refined scholarship. In contrast, ancient and Byzantine readers had a more practical agenda. Guided by the practice of imitation, their goal in combing over a text and analyzing it through the lens of their critical theory (i.e., rhetoric) was to discover a text's strengths and weaknesses and make available to later imitators the best models from which to create more perfect compositions.319
Most ancient discussions of style, such as the reading lists of Quintilian, Dio Chrysostom, and
Dionysios of Halikarnassos examined in chapter 1, tend to reduce an author to a specific stylistic category, which students probably memorized for later use. For example, a rhetor might highlight the solemnity of Thucydides style' but criticize its lack of clarity, as Hermogenes does in On the Types of Style.320 Recommendations such as these were broad guidelines for imitation, and some ancient and Byzantine students may have taken them too literally and believed that adopting an unclear, solemn style meant that they actually were imitating Thucydides. For
318 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Imitation 2.1. 319 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 1, 25, says that his criticism aim to produce better imitations of Thucydides. 320 Hermogenes, On Style, 409-10. 105
example, both Cicero and Dionysios of Halikarnassos complain about people who thought that writing unclearly meant that they were writing like Thucydides.321
But since Thucydides was widely used in schools, some authors offered more specialized treatments of him, diagnosing which scenes and speeches were worthy of imitation or avoidance.
Over time, their discussions of Thucydides' best and worst moments led to the development of what we might call Thucydides' greatest hits. In this regard, Dionysios' essay On Thucydides was a seminal contribution. He diagnoses good and bad narratives and speeches in Thucydides based on the rhetorical practices of his time. For example, Thucydides' narrative of the Athenians' final struggle for Syracuse (7.70-1) won his admiration: he highlighted it as perhaps the most perfect part of Thucydides on account of its clarity, vividness, and pathos. It should come as no surprise, then, that this scene was popular with later imitators, including Dionysios himself, who imitated the battle in his Roman Antiquities.322
Conversely, Dionysios also attests (if not contributed) to shifts in the canon of Thucydides' greatest hits. For example. Dionysios' infamous attack on the Melian dialogue (5.84-116) acknowledges that the scene was greatly admired by earlier Hellenistic readers. Unfortunately,
Dionysios does not tell us what they liked about the dialogue, but he condemns its lack of clarity and propriety.323 Dionysios thought that Thucydides' blunt representation of cruel Athenians went against good rhetorical practice, violating their stereotypical character as the champions of
321 See chapter 1.1 322 On his imitation, see below. 323 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 37-41. 106
Greece.324 In this respect, Dionysios was not alone, as many other rhetors similarly fell under the spell of the ideal of Athens, seeking to avoid or downplay its unsavory aspects. For instance, the author of a late antique prolegomenon to Aristeides' Panathenaic Oration went so far as to fault
Ailios Aristeides for even introducing Athens' conduct at Melos in the historical section of his oration. Even though Aristeides justifies Athens' misdeeds by downplaying their significance, some rhetors simply could not stomach the presence of any negative material about Athens in an encomium.325
Dionysios' discomfort and that of other rhetors led to the Melian debate falling out of favor. No later rhetors mention the dialogue in discussions of style, nor does the main corpus of scholia represented by the early manuscripts A, B, C, F, M, G offer many notes on the syntactically complex dialogue.326 Most of these key manuscripts breeze through the dialogue. Considerably later Byzantine hands from fourteenth century did add more detailed notes on the dialogue to F and C, which sometimes correspond, suggesting a common earlier origin.327 But on the whole late antique rhetors and their students paid the dialogue scant attention. Part of this is probably because some rhetorical schools stopped reading Thucydides after Book 4, but post-Dionysian dislike and accusations of impropriety probably contributed to why the dialogue fell out of favor.
It only found a single imitator in the historian of Justinian, Prokopios.328 Still, Dionysios was not the ultimate authority on Thucydides for later readers. Dionysios attests that the Kerkyrean stasis
324 See chapter 2.2. 325 Introduction to Aristeides 3. See Aristeides, Panathenaic Oration 303-12. 326 On the manuscripts to Thucydides, see Giovanni Battista Alberti, Thucydidis Historiae, vol. 1 (Rome, 1972), ix– xxxix. 327 Scholia to Thucydides, pp. 85-115. 328 See chapter 4.6. 107
(3.82-4) was widely admired before his time. In his essay, however, Dionysios took issue with the communis opinio, arguing that the scene was not worth imitating because of its obtuse style.
In spite of his criticism, however, the scene continued to inspire admiration centuries later and was imitated by Josephos, Sallust, Appian, and John Kantakouzenos.
By the fourth to fifth centuries A.D., rhetors had developed a list of Thucydides' greatest hits.
Markellinos' Life of Thucydides, which was prepared as an introduction to reading Thucydides in the rhetorical schools, notes, "[Thucydides] is very powerful in his narrations, narrating for us sea battles, sieges, diseases, and discords (στάσεις)."329 If we found this passage in a modern introduction to Thucydides, we would probably understand from Markellinos' words that these were admirable passages. This is equally true for Markellinos, but his stylistic observations also had real practical applications. He was actually conveying to students which Thucydidean ekphraseis in Thucydides were worthy of imitation and, in a sense, which were the prototypes for someone writing on these topics. It should not surprise us that students took note. These four scenes are by far the most commonly imitated scenes in all of Thucydides.
Yet even the 'Big Four' were not admired or imitated in their totality. Dionysios' attack on the
Kerkyrean stasis is again illustrative. As we mentioned above, Dionysios was largely unsuccessful in halting later imitations of the scene. Markellinos recommends it. Sallust,
Josephos, Appian, and the fourteenth century Byzantine historian-emperor John Kantakouzenos all reworked the scene in their own imitations.330 But Dionysios' condemnation of this passage's
329 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides, 51. 330 For a list of imitations, see n. 22 above. 108
convoluted style did not fall on unsympathetic ears. Later readers continued to read the passage, but many struggled with it. Just to explain these three sections, the scholia to Thucydides take up eight pages in Hude's modern edition, six of which are devoted to just 3.82. By comparison,
Thucydides' six-section-long plague narrative (2.48-53) occupies only four pages in Hude.
Because of the difficulty of the passage, later imitators understandably avoided following
Thucydides closely on a verbal level. Most imitations of Thucydides' stasis (e.g., Sallust, Appian, and Josephos) are inspired by the theme, but do not imitate the actual prose very closely.331 Only the Byzantine emperor-historian John Kantakouzenos closely reworks lines from Thucydides almost like a cento writer to describe an outbreak of civil war in the mid-fourteenth century.332
However, ancient stylistics and classroom discussions could also impact how a text was imitated on a verbal level. When critics such as Dionysios and the scholiasts found fault with Thucydides, their criticisms often translated into conscious improvements among later imitators. It is impossible to say whether later imitators were directly responding to their criticisms. Certainly,
Dionysios' criticisms commanded respect, as he was known among later rhetors as "justly the canon of rhetorical study."333 Nevertheless, these classroom traditions offer an important window onto what areas of Thucydides someone trained in classical rhetoric might find problematic.
Take for example Sallust's rendition of the stasis scene in his Catiline War. Sallust in general does not closely imitate Thucydides on a verbal level, but Cato's famous speech, advocating the
331 Price, “Josephus’ Reading”; Price, “Thucydidean Stasis”; Sallust, The Catiline War 52.11. 332 Kantakouzenos, History 2.177-9. On which, see Hunger, “Thukydides.” " 333 Anonymus Seguerinus 253 Διονύσιος δὲ ὁ Ἁλικαρνασσεύς, ὃν κανόνα ἄν τις εἴποι δικαίως τῆς περὶ ῥητορικὴν µελέτης. Dionysios' criticisms of Thucydides are refuted by the author of the early 2nd century B.C. P.Oxy 6.853. 109
execution of the Catiline conspirators, is an exception. Responding to Julius Caesar's call for mercy for the conspirators, Cato argued:
Hic mihi quisquam mansuetudinem et misericordiam nominat? Iam pridem
equidem nos vera vocabula rerum amisimus: quia bona aliena largiri liberalitas,
malarum rerum audacia fortitudo vocatur, eo res publica in extremo sita est.
At this point, does anyone mention clemency and mercy? Long ago we lost the
true names for things, since squandering the property of others is called
"largess" and daring to do wicked things is called "bravery." Thus the state is in
Compare Thucydides 3.82.3:
καὶ τὴν εἰωθυῖαν ἀξίωσιν τῶν ὀνοµάτων ἐς τὰ ἔργα ἀντήλλαξαν τῇ δικαιώσει.
τόλµα µὲν γὰρ ἀλόγιστος ἀνδρεία φιλέταιρος ἐνοµίσθη, µέλλησις δὲ προµηθὴς
δειλία εὐπρεπής, τὸ δὲ σῶφρον τοῦ ἀνάνδρου πρόσχηµα, καὶ τὸ πρὸς ἅπαν
ξυνετὸν ἐπὶ πᾶν ἀργόν…
They changed the usual meaning of names for their corresponding action.
Reckless daring was reckoned bravery on behalf of one's comrades. Farsighted
334 Sallust, The Catiline War 52.11. 110
delay was thought fair-sounding cowardice, restraint a pretext for unmanliness,
wisdom in every regard complete and utter dilatoriness...
This adaptation of Thucydides has occasioned debate among scholars who have seen behind
Cato's speech Sallust's goal of showing that words are not fixed and are always being redefined.335 But it is worth noting how the complaints of the school traditions have impacted the verbal infrastructure of Sallust's text. Both Dionysios and the scholiasts struggled with the convoluted syntax of Thucydides' ἀξίωσιν...δικαιώσει, which expresses through a few obscure nouns what might better have been said with verbs. In order to convey the sentence's meaning, they paraphrase the text, replacing the offending nouns with clearer verbs and participles (e.g.,
Dionysios, on Thucydides 29: τά τε εἰωθότα ὀνόµατα ἐπὶ τοῖς πράγµασι λέγεσθαι µετατιθέντες
ἄλλως ἠξίουν αὐτὰ καλεῖν).336 Sallust's adaptation of this passage goes a step further in the direction of clarity. He avoids Thucydides' excessive use of verbalized nouns, keeping to a simple S-O-V word order. Similarly, Sallust also avoids the confusion caused by Thucydides' use of adjectives to define the slogans of the factions. Dionysios complains that Thucydides' adjectives are theatrical and excessive. His own clarification of this passage drops them (τὴν µὲν
γὰρ τόλµαν ἀνδρίαν ἐκάλουν, τὴν δὲ µέλλησιν δειλίαν). The scholiasts also were uncomfortable with Thucydides' use of adjectives. They use nominalized infinitives to clear up this passage, rendering for instance τόλµα µὲν γὰρ ἀλόγιστος as the more concrete τὸ ἀλογίστως τολµᾶν.
335 For further discussion of this passage, see Feldherr, “Free Spirits,” 61; William Batstone, “The Word at War: The Prequel,” in Citizens of Discord: Rome and Its Civil Wars, ed. Brian W Breed, Cynthia Damon, and Andreola Rossi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 60, sees this passage as an unwitting and ultimately futile attempt to seize control of words in the debate. 336 Similarly, Scholia to Thucydides 3.82.3: ἀξίωσιν µὲν τὴν σηµασίαν εἶπε, δικαιώσει δὲ ἀντὶ τοῦ τῇ ἑαυτῶν κρίσει. βούλεται δὲ εἰπεῖν ὅτι µετέθεσαν τὰ ὀνόµατα· οὐ γάρ, ὡς νενόµιστο πρόσθεν, ἐχρῶντο κατὰ τῶν πραγµάτων, ἀλλὰ µεθήρµοσαν κατὰ τὴν ἑαυτῶν κρίσιν
Probably swayed by similar complaints about this passage, Sallust also drops the excessive adjectives and even renders one of his ideas (bona aliena largiri) with a nominalized infinitive, clearing up the syntactical difficulties of the original. Thus, while Sallust creatively reappropriates Thucydides, the Thucydides that he was taught (probably by ancient rhetors) inescapably impacts the very core of Sallust's intertextuality.
Ancient schools deserve credit for more than just helping future imitators fix Thucydides' syntactical problems. They also helped students improve upon his historiographical problems.337
Although Thucydides' plague was by far the best appreciated part of his entire history, spawning numerous subsequent imitations, his description of the Athenians' haste to embrace worldly pleasures and vices in Histories 2.53 provoked accusations of bias and malice. The authors of the scholia thought Thucydides included this section to slander (διαβολή) the Athenians.338 Because they detected bias here, later imitators either avoided this part of the plague scene or corrected it.
What imitator would have wanted to taint his work with Thucydidean malice? Out of a possible eleven Thucydidean plague scenes, only two historians (18%) imitated this section of the plague, albeit with very different approaches: the sixth-century historian Prokopios and the fourteenth- century Byzantine retired emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (1347-1354 A.D.).
Writing in a Christian age, both authors reworked 2.53 to explore the connection between disaster and divine moral correction. Describing the effects of the Black Death on Constantinople in 1347, Kantakouzenos takes the optimistic view that plague can in fact produce lasting moral
337 On Thucydides' perceived problems, see chapter 1.3a. 338 Scholia to Thucydides 2.53.1. 112
change. He comprehends the plague as divine correction for Byzantium's sins (ἀλλ’ ἕτερόν τι ὂν
ὑπὸ θεοῦ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐπενηνεγµένον πρὸς σωφρονισµόν). Unlike Thucydides, however, he emphasizes how Constantinopolitans showed repentance for their sins and donated their wealth to the poor. Constantinopolitan society has in fact become stronger not weaker in the face of adversity and societal collapse.339 By contrast, Prokopios takes a more negative view, channeling the spirit of Thucydides' plague for his description of the Justinianic plague that struck the same city in 542. He describes society's most immoral members momentarily correcting their behavior during the plague only to relapse into their former vices, even worse than before, when death was no longer immanent. Prokopios thus dismantles the belief, as exemplified by Kantakouzenos, that plagues and other such disasters can in fact produce lasting moral correction.340
Later imitators of Thucydides therefore had to make crucial alterations to 2.53 in order to make it work and avoid being seen as slanderers. Rather than discussing the people of Constantinople as a monolith, like Thucydides does with the Athenians, Prokopios singles out a part of the general population for discussion (History of the Wars 2.23.14: ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅσοι πράγµασι τὰ πρότερα
παριστάµενοι αἰσχροῖς τε καὶ πονηροῖς ἔχαιρον), letting his reader infer who are the bêtes noires of Constantinopolitan society. In contrast, Kantakouzenos goes completely in the opposite direction of Thucydides, representing a city where morality was strengthened in spite of the plague's erosion of society. One might even say that Kantakouzenos was trying to praise the
Constantinopolitans where Thucydides slandered the Athenians. In this way, historiographical
339 Kantakouzenos, Roman History, 3.52. 340 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.23.14-16. On morality and the plague, see Anthony Kaldellis, “The Literature of Plague and the Anxieties of Piety in Sixth-Century Byzantium,” in Piety and Plague: From Byzantium to the Baroque, ed. Franco Mormando and Thomas Worcester (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2007), 14– 15. 113
imitation was a product of the rhetors' school not only in terms of the scenes selected, but also the parts of a scene. If a part of scene or speech is excluded from an imitation, there may well be a reason rooted in the prior rhetorical explication of that passage. Thus, one of the problems for a scholar studying intertextuality between a text and its imitation is also to account for what has been left out of an imitation and why the imitator may have done so. The study of reception and in particular the scholia to an author and their scholastic tradition can complement and extend our understanding of intentional intertextuality, though modern scholars have seldom used ancient scholia or stylistics for this purpose.
2. On Strategies of Imitation
How did imitators translate real events into set pieces under the influence of Thucydides? It is impossible to answer this question without recourse to the rhetorical practices of ekphrasis and ornamentation. As we discussed in chapter 1, ekphrasis was an important rhetorical exercise for students. They would read scenes from a variety of authors (including Thucydides) and write their own ekphraseis on a wide variety of topics. We know that teachers often held up
Thucydides' plague, the siege of Plataia, sea battles, and the night battle of Epipolai (7.43-4) as model ekphraseis.341 Unfortunately, we do not have any surviving ekphraseis imitating
Thucydides on these topics, but there is evidence that students sometimes carried their zeal for ekphrasis too far, inspired by reading historians. For example, the author of the second century treatise on Errors in Declamation complains that students introduced gratuitous plagues, battles,
341 Plague: Theon, Progymnasmata, 68. Siege of Plataia: Theon, Progymnasmata, 68; Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 23. Sea Battles: Theon, Progymnasmata, 68; Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 24, highlights the battle of Naupaktos (Thuc. 2.83-4). Battle of Epipolai: Theon, Progymnasmata, 119; Pseudo-Hermogenes, Progymnasmata, 22; Aphthonios, Progymnasmata, 37. 114
and wars into their speeches inspired by reading history and epic.342 Some subsequent historians apparently did not listen to their teachers, as Lucian complains around the same time about needless ekphraseis introduced into historical narratives.343
An ekphrasis could stand on its own as a finished literary product for Roman audiences, but more often its true value lay in what ancients called ornamentation and amplification. In a court case, ancient rhetors believed they needed to be able to pull out a description of war, plague, famine, etc., at the appropriate moment.344 After assessing the people, events, and motive in a case through invention, a rhetor might decide he needed to elaborate on the bald facts of a case in order to make his narrative more plausible and rhetorically effective. Quintilian explains the process, giving as an example the sack of a city. It would suffice to say that a city was taken by storm. This is the hard core of truth. But how much more rhetorically and emotionally effective is it to elaborate upon this core by describing houses and temples aflame, the crash of roofs, the wailing of children, the pillage of sacred and profane treasures, etc?345 What Quintilian is essentially touching on is writing an ekphrasis.346 By making us vividly see an event through ekphrasis, the rhetor makes his chain of events seem more plausible and compelling to an audience. As Quintilian admits, the rhetor need not always have all the facts in a case when ornamenting a passage. He was free to embellish the hard core of truth with details that were plausible and universal (e.g., houses aflame and people being led into captivity after a siege).
342 Pseudo-Dionysius, On Errors in Declamation, 372. 343 Lucian, On how to write history 20. 344 Nikolaos of Myra, Progymnasmata, 70. John of Sardis, Progymnasmata, 215. John's statement most likely derives from an earlier late antique progymnasmata treatise. 345 Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 8.3.67-71. 346 Following Webb, Ekphrasis, Imagination and Persuasion in Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Practice, 73–74. 115
The writer might not know precisely what happened, but if their story fit their audience's preconceived notions of what should have happened and sufficiently explained away fabulous elements, they could persuade their audience that their story was true. The plausible intermingled with the true could thus create a new truth. And this is one of the major problems modern historians face when working with ancient accounts. Where is the boundary line between truth and verisimilitude in substantial imitations, to borrow a term from A.J. Woodman?347
Since Thucydides was the model for a number of ekphraseis, his scenes provided the prototype for later writers. If one tried to imagine a plague, his plague came to mind and thus set the standard for verisimilitude. For a historian imitating Thucydides, his task was essentially that of the rhetor during a court case. Through invention, the rhetor would discover the people, places, and events of a case and then formulate a compelling argument. For the historian, the process was essentially the same. After assessing what he knew about the events in question, the historian would balance the hard core of truth available to him with plausible details from his model.348 Modern studies of imitation have largely asserted that accounts modeled on
Thucydides are essentially truthful, pushing back against the skepticism of earlier generations.349
While it is true that an event did happen, this does not necessarily mean that we can trust all the details. This section will contend that imitations of Thucydides were written on a sliding scale of truthfulness, dependent on how precisely the historian knew what happened and the motives of his or her narrative.
347 Woodman, “Self-Imitation,” 152. 348 Woodman, Rhetoric, 87. 349 Moravcsik, “Klassizismus”; Hunger, “On the Imitation”; Blockley, “Dexippus and Priscus”; Hunger, “Thukydides”; Miller, “The Plague.” 116
Pure rhetorical ornamentation in the sense of Quintillan is evident in what we might call boilerplate imitations. I call these scenes boilerplate imitations not to diminish their literary or narratological value, but because these scenes are essentially rhetorical ornamentation. Imitators take a few lines of Thucydides and paraphrase them with little a alteration in order to write a literary scene, thus relying on Thucydides to create verisimilitude for their audience.350 These scenes are usually light on historical detail and truth when compared to other sources. Take for example Appian's description of the siege of Utica in 203 B.C. by Scipio Africanus. This siege opened Rome's counteroffensive in Africa after fighting Hannibal in Italy for over 15 years.351
Polybios and Livy do not have much to say about the actual specifics of siege warfare except that
Scipio attacked the city by sea by placing siege towers on his boats and by land with an embankment.352 Using this hard core of truth, Appian wrote up a detailed Thucydidean account of the siege by land:
χώµατα δ’ ἐπαίρων µέγιστα καὶ κριοῖς τὸ τεῖχος, ὅτε προσπελάσειε, τύπτων
δρεπάνοις τε περισπῶν, ὅσαι βύρσαι περὶ αὐτὸ καὶ ἄλλα σκεπαστήρια ἦν. οἳ δὲ
τὰ µὲν χώµατα ὑπετάφρευον καὶ τὰ δρέπανα βρόχοις παρῆγον καὶ τοὺς κριοὺς τῆς
ὁρµῆς ἐξέλυον, ἐπιβάλλοντες ἐπικαρσίας δοκούς· εἰς δὲ τὰς µηχανὰς ἐξεπήδων
µετὰ πυρός, ὅτε πνεῦµα φυλάξειαν ἐς αὐτὰς ἐπίφορον· ὅθεν ὁ Σκιπίων ἀπογνοὺς
οὕτως αἱρήσειν τὴν πόλιν ἐς πολιορκίαν αὐτῆς καθίστατο.
350 Examples of boilerplate imitations: Appian, Punic Wars 66-7; Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 9.42; Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Gregory the Wonderworker, 956-7. 351 On the siege and campaigns of the year, see Adrian Keith Goldsworthy, The Punic Wars (London: Cassell, 2001), 292–93. 352 Polybius, Roman History 14.1; Livy, History of Rome 29.35.12-5. 117
He [Scipio] raised large embankments and battered the wall with rams whenever
he got near, tearing off the hides and other coverings on it with hooks. The people
of Utica tunneled beneath the embankments, turned aside the hooks with nooses,
and deadened the force of the rams by throwing transverse wooden beams on top
of them. They made sallies on the machines with fire whenever the wind blew
toward them. Consequently, Scipio gave up trying to seize the city in this manner
and dug in for a siege.353
As Strebel illustrated long ago, Appian’s account of Scipio's siege of Utica is largely based on
Thucydides' siege of Plataia.354 Both the Uticans and Scipio employ almost the same tactics as the Plataians and Spartans. One key difference is that in Appian the Uticans set fire to the siege weapons when the breeze is favorable. The Spartans had tried to set fire to their own embankment when the breeze was favorable. This is a logical change to the model because it hardly makes sense for the besieger to set fire to his embankment under most circumstances. But all in all, Appian's narrative follows Thucydides closely even on a verbal level with the phrase
ἐπικαρσίας δοκούς.355 Because our other sources do not have much to say about the actual siege operations, it seems possible that the only hard facts with which Appian had to work were that
(1) there was an embankment operation at Utica and (2) that it went poorly for Scipio. Given these facts, he used Thucydides to depict a stereotypical embankment operation. We need not
353 Appian, Punic Wars 66-7. 354 Heinrich Gottlieb Strebel, Wertung und Wirkung des Thukydideischen Geschichtswerkes in der griechisch- römischen Literatur (Speyer am Rhein, 1935), 80–81. 355 Cf. Thuc. 2.76.5: δοκοὺς µεγάλας ἀρτήσαντες ἁλύσεσι µακραῖς σιδηραῖς ἀπὸ τῆς τοµῆς ἑκατέρωθεν ἀπὸ κεραιῶν δύο ἐπικεκλιµένων καὶ ὑπερτεινουσῶν ὑπὲρ τοῦ τείχους ἀνελκύσαντες ἐγκαρσίας. 118
believe the specifics of the tactics employed, but rather that they were plausible events, the kind of thing that probably did happen during any siege.
Another excellent example of boilerplate Thucydidean imitation that is light on facts is Gregory of Nyssa's description of the (Cyprian) plague that struck Neokaisareia between the 240's and
270's A.D., described in his Life of Gregory the Wonderworker.356 Writing in the latter half of the fourth century, Gregory of Nyssa did not have any written sources, but based his account on folktales and oral recollections of the previous century.357 His description of the plague is a hitherto largely unnoticed paraphrase of Thucydides.358 It serves as a capstone to the life of
Gregory, appearing at the end of the saint's life even though it took place earlier.359 Parallels with
Thucydides are noted in the footnotes.
Ἐνσκῆψαν γὰρ ἅπαξ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὸ πάθος, θᾶττον ἢ κατ’ ἐλπίδας διεξῄει
πυρὸς δίκην τοὺς οἴκους ἐπιβοσκόµενον, ὥστε πληροῦσθαι µὲν τῶν τῇ νόσῳ
καταφθειροµένων τὰ ἱερὰ τῶν ἐλπίδι θεραπείας προσφευγόντων·360 γέµειν δὲ
πηγὰς, καὶ κρουνοὺς, καὶ φρέατα, τῶν ὑπὸ τῆς τοῦ νοσήµατος ἀµηχανίας
διακαιοµένων ἐν τῇ δίψῃ361 (ἐφ’ ὧν ἠτόνει τὸ ὕδωρ τὸν ἐκ τοῦ πάθους
356 On the Cyprian plague, see Kyle Harper, “Pandemics and Passages to Late Antiquity: Rethinking the Plague of c.249–270 Described by Cyprian,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 28 (2015): 223–60, esp. 238-9 for Gregory of Nyssa. 357 Raymond Van Dam, “Hagiography and History: The Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus,” Classical Antiquity 1 (1982): 272–308; Stephen Mitchell, “The Life and Lives of Gregory Thaumaturgus,” in Portraits of Spiritual Authority, ed. Jan Willem Drijvers and John Watt (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 97–138. 358 Pierre Maraval and Otto Lendle, Éloge de Grégoire Le Thaumaturge; Éloge de Basile (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2014), 224 n. 1, mention the similarities of the two, but does not elaborate. 359 Harper, “Pandemics and Passages,” 237. 360 Thuc. 2.52.3: τά τε ἱερὰ ἐν οἷς ἐσκήνηντο νεκρῶν πλέα ἦν, αὐτοῦ ἐναποθνῃσκόντων. 361 Thuc. 2.49.5: καὶ ἔδρασαν ἐς φρέατα, τῇ δίψῃ ἀπαύστῳ ξυνεχόµενοι; 52.2: καὶ περὶ τὰς κρήνας ἁπάσας ἡµιθνῆτες τοῦ ὕδατος ἐπιθυµίᾳ. 119
κατασβέσαι φλογµὸν, ὁµοίως ἐχόντων καὶ µετὰ τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ πρὸ τοῦ ὕδατος,
τῶν ἅπαξ κατασχεθέντων τῷ πάθει362)·πολλοὺς δὲ αὐτοµολεῖν πρὸς τοὺς τάφους,
καὶ µηκέτι τοὺς περιόντας ἐξαρκεῖν ταῖς τῶν κατοιχοµένων ταφαῖς.363 Γενέσθαι
δὲ οὐκ ἀδόκητον τοῦ κακοῦ τὴν προσβολὴν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· ἀλλά τινος
φάσµατος ἐπιγινοµένου τῇ µελλούσῃ καταφθείρεσθαι οἰκίᾳ, οὕτως
ἐπακολουθεῖν τὴν φθοράν.364
The affliction set upon people at once and attacked them quicker than one would
expect, consuming households just like fire, so that the temples were full of the
sick who fled there in hope of a cure. The springs, wells, and cisterns were full of
people on fire with thirst, helpless in the grip of the disease. Water could not
quench the burning of their affliction, as people who came down suddenly with
the disease felt the same before or after they drank water. Many deserted to the
tombs, and the survivors were no longer enough to bury those who had passed
away. Furthermore, the disease's onset was not unexpected, but a phantom first
attacked a house about to be destroyed and destruction followed soon
Gregory's plague scene owes much to Thucydides, such as the image of the sick crowding the temples and the dying filling up springs because of their insatiable thirst. He also touches on the
362 Thuc. 2.49.5: καὶ ἐν τῷ ὁµοίῳ καθειστήκει τό τε πλέον καὶ ἔλασσον ποτόν. 363 Thuc. 2.52. 364 Cf. Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.10-2; Theophanes, Chronicle, 423; Nikephoros, Short History 67; Nikephoros, Third Antirrhetikos, 416D. 365 Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Gregory the Wonderworker, 956-7. 120
inability of the survivors to bury the dead in Thucydidean fashion, adding a short bit about phantoms that foretell death. Overall, the scene is light on concrete details. Kyle Harper in his recent important article on the Cyprianic plague of the third century has argued that Gregory may describe a real plague symptom when he notes the sick people’s unquenchable thirst. Even though Gregory is the only source to mention thirst, Harper finds it plausible and uses it in his reconstruction of the plague.366 But as Harper was unaware of Gregory's boilerplate imitation of
Thucydides, he did not see the problematic nature of this detail. Thucydidean thirst could be
“fabricated” to lend verisimilitude to a narrative precisely because it was plausible, even if the rhetor knew nothing about the specifics of what happened. Since Gregory wrote the plague as a capstone to his life of Gregory the Wonderworker, he had good reason to ornament his narrative with a horrific Thucydidean plague. The worse the plague appeared, the greater the reader's wonder would be when he saw the saint banish the plague and demons at the conclusion of
For modern scholars, it would probably be easy to brush boilerplate imitations aside as empty rhetoric, deeming them bad imitations of Thucydides. Not only are they light on historical fact, they lack literary originality as little more than paraphrases of Thucydides. But we should not dismiss these imitations so readily. Authors of all levels and genius engaged in boilerplate imitation. For example, Dionysios of Halikarnassos wrote the handbook on imitation in the
Greek rhetorical tradition, theorizing that imitation was a selective process in which one appreciated ancient literature and sought to improve upon it. Given his theoretical leanings, one would presume his imitations of Thucydides would draw more on the spirit of Thucydides and
366 Harper, “Pandemics and Passages,” 238. 121
not his actual words. But when one leaves the Olympus of theory and descends into practical reality, even Dionysios was not exempt from writing boilerplate imitations of Thucydides. Let us consider his hitherto unnoticed description of a Thucydidean-style plague that befell Rome in
471 B.C. in his Roman Antiquities. The plague struck during deliberations between the tribunes and consuls over the Lex Publilia proposed by Volero Publilius, which gave the popular assembly control over the election of the tribunes when it was approved in 471 B.C., taking that power away from the patricians. According to Dionysios, senatorial deliberations were underway when the plague broke out, disrupting proceedings. Publilius was unable to pass his law for almost a year because of it. Dionysios' plague is a pastiche of Thucydidean ideas strung together.
The table below summarizes the parallels.
9.42.1: καὶ οὔτ’ ἀνθρωπίνη βοήθεια ἤρκει τοῖς Thuc. 2.47.4: οὔτε γὰρ ἰατροὶ ἤρκουν τὸ
κάµνουσιν οὐδεµία πρῶτον θεραπεύοντες ἀγνοίᾳ, ἀλλ' αὐτοὶ
µάλιστα ἔθνῃσκον ὅσῳ καὶ µάλιστα προσῇσαν,
οὔτε ἄλλη ἀνθρωπεία τέχνη οὐδεµία·
ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ ἴσῳ οἵ τε σὺν πολλῇ θεραπευόµενοι 2.51.2: ἔθνῃσκον δὲ οἱ µὲν ἀµελείᾳ, οἱ δὲ καὶ
φροντίδι, καὶ οἷς µηδὲν ἐγίνετο τῶν δεόντων, πάνυ θεραπευόµενοι.
οὔτε λιτανεῖαι θεῶν καὶ θυσίαι 2.47.4: ὅσα τε πρὸς ἱεροῖς ἱκέτευσαν ἢ
καὶ ἐφ’ οὓς ἄνθρωποι τελευταίους ἐν ταῖς µαντείοις καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις ἐχρήσαντο, πάντα
τοιαῖσδε ἀναγκάζονται καταφεύγειν ἀνωφελῆ ἦν.
συµφοραῖς, οἱ κατ’ ἄνδρα τε γινόµενοι καὶ
ὑπὲρ τοῦ κοινοῦ καθαρµοὶ τότε προσωφέλουν
διέκρινέ τε τὸ πάθος οὐχ ἡλικίαν, οὐ φύσιν, οὐ
ῥώµην ἢ ἀσθένειαν σωµάτων, οὐ τέχνην οὐκ
ἄλλο τι τῶν δοκούντων κουφίζειν τὴν νόσον,
ἀλλὰ γυναιξί τ’ ἐνέπιπτε καὶ ἀνδράσι καὶ
γηραιοῖς καὶ νέοις. οὐ µὴν πολὺν κατέσχε
χρόνον, ὅπερ αἴτιον ἐγένετο τοῦ µὴ σύµπασαν
διαφθαρῆναι τὴν πόλιν· ἀλλὰ ποταµοῦ δίκην ἢ
πυρὸς ἀθρόα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐµπεσοῦσα τήν τε
προσβολὴν ὀξεῖαν καὶ τὴν ἀπαλλαγὴν ταχεῖαν
There was no human aid for the sick, but those who enjoyed great care and those
who had none of the necessities died alike. Nor did prayers to the gods, sacrifices,
and that last refuge to which men have recourse during these situations, private
and public expiations, do any good. The affliction did not discriminate by age,
nature, physical strength, weakness, skill, or any other criterion thought to lighten
disease, but it attacked women and men, old and young. The disease did not last
long, which was the reason why the city was not utterly destroyed. But like a river
or a fire, it suddenly attacked men. It assault was acute and its departure swift.367
367 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 9.42.1-2. 123
Dionysios' plague is a series of ideas assembled from Thucydides. Dionysios clearly uses paraphrase to condense and expand Thucydidean thoughts. For example, Thucydides 2.51.2
ἔθνῃσκον...θεραπευόµενοι has its structure rearranged. The initial verb and final participle switch places, rendering Dionysios' version somewhat more clear with the verb coming last to close the period. Similarly, Dionysios expands upon Thucydides' notion of the ineffectiveness of religion by discussing the uselessness of ritual purifications. As usual with boilerplate imitations,
Dionysios account is light on concrete details, relying on Thucydides to create verisimilitude.
Livy's own account of this period does not even mention a plague, so it is not unreasonable to assume that Dionysios probably had few hard facts to work with before he applied his
Thucydidean stock motifs.368
But as tempting as it is to write off this Thucydidean imitation as mere rhetorical adornment meant to exhibit Dionysios' rhetorical skills, it is important to remember that these stock scenes could also serve an important exegetical purpose. If we consider Livy and Dionysios' accounts of the events of 471 B.C., the major issue at stake is the passing of the Lex Publilia that gave popular assemblies the right to vote for tribunes. Both authors give different reasons for why the senate took almost a year to pass the law. In his reconstruction of that year, Dionysios attributes the delay to the plague, while Livy contends that it was protracted due to the opposition by the
Roman senators.369 It is impossible to know what Dionysios' and Livy's sources said, but one would suppose that if Dionysios and Livy found only a brief mention of plague, each author
368 Livy, History of Rome 2.56. 369 Livy, History of Rome 2.56.4. 124
could have dealt with it as they liked. Livy in general tends to emphasize human and moral causation in his history.370 Thus, Livy might have thought that the plague was unimportant and omitted it from his rapid narration of early Roman history. There are a number of plagues mentioned by Dionysios, which Livy does not include.371 In contrast, Dionysios saw a different chain of causality in the year's events. If he came across only the briefest mention of plague in his sources and decided that the plague was the real reason why the law's approval had been delayed, paraphrasing Thucydides would have helped him to explain the year's events. He could have simply said that that there was a bad plague in 471 B.C., and that was why the law's approval was delayed. But by elaborating this plague with a Thucydidean pastiche, Dionysios makes his chain of events more plausible. If we see a society disrupted, we as readers are more likely to believe that the plague could have delayed a senatorial decision rather than divisive politics. Certainly, R. M. Ogilvie in his commentary on the first five books of Livy found
Dionysios' explanation of the year's event more compelling than Livy's.372 Dionysios' worked-up
Thucydidean scene probably contributed subconsciously in no small part to his conclusion. Thus,
Dionysios effectively uses ornamentation just as Quintilian advises an orator to deploy it, crafting an ekphrasis to make his chain of events more believable.
We need to be more aware of the subtle narratological reasons for introducing a scene because the vividness and detail of these ekphraseis can not only potentially mislead the interpreter, but also serve a grander purpose in the overall storytelling arc of the historian. For instance, the elaboration of hard facts with Thucydidean motifs could serve more ideological purposes. In the
370 Levene, Livy on the Hannibalic War, chap. 5. 371 Dionysios, Roman Antiquities 9.40. Cf. Livy 2.56; 2.54 Cf. Livy 1.15; 4.69.2 Cf. Livy 1.56.4. 372 R. M Ogilvie, A Commentary on Livy, Books 1-5 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), 376.. 125
seventh book of his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar relies on Thucydides' siege of Plataia to relate the siege of Avaricum in 52 B.C. Scholars have generally remarked on the lack of rhetorical adornment in Caesar's Commentaries, but his seventh book is universally recognized as the most ornate of all, describing his momentous defeat of Vercingetorix and ultimate conquest of Gaul.373
In a recent article, Christopher Krebs has fully and conclusively drawn out the parallels between
Thucydides and Caesar.374 I quote Caesar below alongside Thucydides to illustrate the parallels:
Nam et laqueis falces avertebant, quas, cum 2.76.4: ἃς βρόχους τε περιβάλλοντες ἀνέκλων destinaverant, tormentis introrsus reducebant, οἱ Πλαταιῆς et aggerem cuniculis subtrahebant. 2.76.2: ὑπόνοµον δὲ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ὀρύξαντες
καὶ ξυντεκµηράµενοι ὑπὸ τὸ χῶµα ὑφεῖλκον
αὖθις παρὰ σφᾶς τὸν χοῦν·
...Totum autem murum ex omni parte turribus 2.75.4: ξύλινον τεῖχος ξυνθέντες καὶ contabulaverant ἐπιστήσαντες τῷ ἑαυτῶν τείχει
atque has coriis intexerant. 2.75.5: καὶ προκαλύµµατα εἶχε δέρσεις καὶ
373 Arthur D. Kahn, “‘Vercingetorix’: A New Play by C. Julius Caesar,” The Classical World 64 (1971): 249–54; Christina S. Kraus, “Bellum Gallicum,” in A Companion to Julius Caesar, ed. Miriam Griffin (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 164; G. Ihm, “Die Stilistische Eigenart Des VII. Buches von Caesars Bellum Gallicum,” Philologus Supplement 6 (1893 1891): 767–77. 374 Christopher Krebs, “Thucydides in Gaul: The Siege of Plataea as Caesar’s Model for His Siege of Avaricum,” Histos 10 (2016): 1–14. 126
Tum crebris diurnis nocturnisque eruptionibus aut aggeri ignem inferebant aut milites occupatos in opere adoriebantur, et nostrarum turrium altitudinem, quantum has cotidianus 2.75.6: ᾔρετο δὲ τὸ ὕψος τοῦ τείχους µέγα, καὶ agger expresserat, commissis suarum turrium τὸ χῶµα οὐ σχολαίτερον ἀντανῄει αὐτῷ. malis adaequabant, et apertos cuniculos praeusta et praeacuta materia et pice fervefacta et maximi ponderis saxis morabantur moenibusque appropinquare prohibebant.
[The Gauls] turned aside our grappling hooks with nooses, and when they caught
them, they pulled them back with winches. They removed the mound from
underneath with mines... Furthermore, they furnished the whole wall on every
side with wooden turrets and covered them with skins. Then with daily and
nocturnal sallies, they tried to ignite the embankment or attack soldiers busy
working on it. Whatever increase was made in the height of our siege towers by
daily additions to the ramp, they again and again matched by joining fresh
scaffolding to their towers. They tried to delay the approach of our mines and
prevent them from reaching the walls with sharpened and hardened stakes, boiling
pitch, and very heavy stones.375
375 Caesar, The Gallic War 7.22. 127
From the parallels elaborated above, Caesar's debt to Thucydides should be obvious. Thucydides' description of the Spartans building an embankment would have readily suggested itself as a literary model when Caesar described his own use of the siege technique. Krebs has even suggested that Caesar translates Thucydides' ὑφεῖλκον αὖθις παρὰ σφᾶς τὸν χοῦν with aggerem cuniculis subtrahebant, since the phrase aggerem subtrahere is otherwise unattested in Latin.376
Unlike a boilerplate emulator of Thucydides, Caesar does not follow Thucydides too closely.
Rather he concisely reconfigures the historian to suit his present circumstances, for example adding details about his siege towers. Caesar was there; he knew the facts and details, but still he found Thucydidean elaboration to be rhetorically advantageous. Why?
Krebs suggests that Caesar employs the Thucydidean siege of Plataia in intertextual emulation of his model, in a subtle show of one-up-manship. Although the Spartans had failed to take Plataia,
Caesar's readers would know that he had succeeded.377 This is one plausible explanation, but I would suggest that Caesar has a more subtle purpose. Before Caesar launches into his description of siege operations in section 22, he introduces his discussion by noting that, after fighting the
Romans for so many years, the Gauls had begun to fight like Romans and even, we might add, as an idealized version of Romans. For example, in section 24, Caesar describes Gauls fighting on the walls of Avaricum. Repeatedly struck down by his scorpions, the Gauls refuse to abandon their position replacing each fallen man with another. To modern eyes, the Gauls' unwillingness to learn and adapt to their situation might be taken as an indication of the Gauls' brute stupidity.
However, this is probably not how Caesar interpreted their actions. Arguably, he and his
376 Krebs, “Thucydides in Gaul,” 7.. 377 Krebs, 2. 128
audience may have seen something heroic in their refusal to abandon their post. For Romans of the late republic, the Gauls' actions might have reminded them how their ancestors had behaved in their own romanticized past. For example, Sallust, Caesar's partisan during the Caesarian civil war, wistfully recalls that Romans used to compete with one another in scaling an enemy's wall before vice overcame them.378 Thus, an important narrative aim of this siege may be to make the
Gauls look familiar to Roman audiences. By relying on Plataia, the prototype of a siege for his learned audience, Caesar showed his Roman readers the Gauls plausibly acting as the besieged should in their mind. Now that the Gauls were conquered, Caesar ideologically paves the way for the Gauls, "a hard working race most adept at imitating and carrying out everything, which they acquire from someone else," to adapt and assimilate to Roman modes of life.379 Later in his career, when it suited his purposes, Caesar would eventually make Gallic aristocrats Romans by admitting them to the Roman senate.380 Thus, Caesar's imitation of Thucydides may be intended to normalize the Gauls for a Roman audience who would have been more inclined to view the
Gauls as stupid, northern barbarians. Instead of playing into these stereotypes, Caesar essentially prepares the way for the Gallic assimilation with this rhetorical device.
Historians therefore employed Thucydides in more specific ways than just boilerplate imitators.
Thucydides may have inspired the creation of a detailed ekphrasis, but some imitators borrowed only phrases or ideas that applied to their particular circumstances. Late antique imitations of the siege of Plataia are particularly illustrative of this point. Thucydides' lengthy siege of Plataia was
378 Sallust, The Catiline Conspiracy 7.6. 379 Caesar, Gallic Wars 7.22.1: est summae genus sollertiae atque ad omnia imitanda et efficienda, quae ab quoque traduntur, aptissimum. 380 Suetonius, Caesar 76.2; 80.2. 129
the model of a siege carried out with an embankment and rams. While embankments were still widely employed, it was only natural for imitators to draw from him heavily. But as siege warfare changed in late antiquity and embankments became less common, imitators correspondingly found Thucydides less useful, or their imitation of him has been seen as less appropriate by modern scholars. The late antique historians Priskos of Panion, Prokopios, and
Agathias have all been accused of distorting the past because they lifted lines from Thucydides to describe contemporary sieges.381 While this criticism can justly be leveled at a boilerplate imitator like Appian, the majority of these authors' borrowings from the siege of Plataia center around the protective coverings of skins added to the Plataians' wooden wall (2.75.5) and the oblique beams with chains that they used to break off the heads of the battering rams (2.76.4).
However, Thucydides' late antique emulators employed his words only to describe siege devices such as the battering ram or a tortoise used to protect attackers as they moved into position for mining operations.382 Priskos' description of the siege of Naissos (modern Niš) by the Huns in
441 A.D. is typical of this phenomenon. We produce it here alongside its Thucydidean parallels:
προσήγοντο καὶ οἱ καλούµενοι κριοί. µεγίστη 2.75.5: καὶ προκαλύµµατα εἶχε δέρσεις καὶ
δὲ ἄρα καὶ ἥδε ἡ µηχανή· δοκὸς ἐκ ξύλων πρὸς διφθέρας, ὥστε τοὺς ἐργαζοµένους καὶ τὰ ξύλα
ἄλληλα νευόντων χαλαραῖς ἀπῃωρηµένη µήτε πυρφόροις οἰστοῖς βάλλεσθαι ἐν
ἁλύσεσιν, ἐπιδορατίδα καὶ προκαλύµµατα ὃν ἀσφαλείᾳ τε εἶναι.
εἴρηται τρόπον ἔχουσα, ἀσφαλείας ἕνεκα τῶν
381 Braun, Procopius Caesariensis; Thompson, “Priscus of Panium”; Evans, “The Attitudes,” 355. 382 Priskos, History, frag. 1b (Blockley 6.2); Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.26.9; 5.21.7-8; Agathias, History 3.5.10. 130
ἐργαζοµένων. καλῳδίοις γὰρ ἐκ τῆς ὄπισθεν 2.76.4: καὶ δοκοὺς µεγάλας ἀρτήσαντες
κεραίας εἷλκον βιαίως ἄνδρες αὐτὴν ἐς τὸ ἁλύσεσι µακραῖς σιδηραῖς ἀπὸ τῆς τοµῆς
ἐναντίον τοῦ δεξοµένου τὴν πληγήν, καὶ µετὰ ἑκατέρωθεν ἀπὸ κεραιῶν δύο ἐπικεκλιµένων
ταῦτα ἠφίεσαν, ὥστε τῇ ῥύµῃ πᾶν τὸ ἐµπῖπτον καὶ ὑπερτεινουσῶν ὑπὲρ τοῦ τείχους
τοῦ τείχους ἀφανίζεσθαι µέρος. ἀνελκύσαντες ἐγκαρσίας, ὁπότε
προσπεσεῖσθαί πῃ µέλλοι ἡ µηχανή, ἀφίεσαν
τὴν δοκὸν χαλαραῖς ταῖς ἁλύσεσι καὶ οὐ διὰ
χειρὸς ἔχοντες, ἡ δὲ ῥύµῃ ἐµπίπτουσα
ἀπεκαύλιζε τὸ προῦχον τῆς ἐµβολῆς.
The so called rams were brought up also. This is a very large device. A beam is
suspended by slack chains over wooden beams sloping toward each other, having
a sharp point and coverings as described above for the protection of the people
operating it. Men vigorously swing the beam away from the target with ropes and
then release it, so that it destroys the wall that it strikes with force.383
Priskos and Thucydides are describing two very different affairs.384 The siege of Naissos was fought with battering rams and siege ladders rather than an embankment. Thus, Priskos drew upon Thucydides to describe the battering rams of the Hunnic army, as certain aspects of the battering ram's construction were similar. For example, the protective skins applied to the ram
383 Priskos, History, frag. 1b (Blockley 6.2). 384 As pointed out by Blockley, “Dexippus and Priscus.” 131
are described in Priskos (λύγοις διαπλόκοις ἐκαλύπτοντο δέρρεις καὶ διφθέρας ἐχούσαις), serving the same purpose and function as they did in Thucydides. Hence Thucydides' words were useful for creating essentially a Thucydidean cento of a battering ram. Otherwise, the Athenian historian's influence on Priskos' siege is negligible on a verbal and conceptual level. If
Thucydides had any influence on these sieges, it was more as a military man describing tactics in detail for the sake of posterity rather than in his actual words.385 He provided an inspiration for these descriptions, and little else.
While it might seem intuitive that narratives less heavily modeled on Thucydides are more truthful, the Thucydidean model could nevertheless have deleterious side-effects on historical truth. Consider Cassius Dio's account of Aelius Gallus' expedition into Felix Arabia during the reign of Augustus.386 This momentous incursion into southern Arabia has captured the imagination of Romans and modern scholars alike.387 It began successfully enough with victories scored over the Arabs with minimal casualties. However, the sun, local water, disease, and skirmishes with the enemy quickly eroded the strength of Gallus' men. Disease dogged them from the moment that they landed in Arabia. Strabo, who was a friend of Gallus, records that two
385 A point first made about Prokopios in Katherine Adshead, “Reading the Past in Late Antiquity,” in Reading the Past in Late Antiquity, ed. G. W Clarke (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1990), 95–97. 386 Cassius Dio, Roman History 53.29. 387 Scholarship on the expedition is extensive: Jacqueline Pirenne, Le royaume sud-arabe de Qatabân et sa datation d’après l’archéologie et les sources classiques jusqu’au Périple de la mer Érythrée, (Louvain: Publications universitaires, 1961); Hermann von Wissman, ed., “Die Geschichte Des Sabiterreichs Und Der Feldzug Des Aelius Gallus,” Aufstieg Und Niedergang Der Römischen Welt 2, no. 9.1 (1976): 308–544; Kai Buschmann, “Motiv Und Ziel Des Aelius-Gallus-Zuges Nach Südarabien,” Die Welt Des Orients 22 (1991): 85–93; Shelagh Jameson, “Chronology of the Campaigns of Aelius Gallus and C. Petronius,” The Journal of Roman Studies 58 (1968): 71–84; Steven E. Sidebotham, “Aelius Gallus and Arabia,” Latomus 45 (1986): 590–602; Buschmann, “Motiv Und Ziel Des Aelius-Gallus-Zuges Nach Südarabien”; Christian Marek, “Die Expedition des Aelius Gallus nach Arabien im Jahre 25 v. Chr.,” Chiron 23 (1993): 121–56; Róbert Simon, “Aelius Gallus’ Campaign and the Arab Trade in the Augustan Age,” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 55 (2002): 309–18; W. L. Westermann, “Aelius Gallus and the Reorganization of the Irrigation System of Egypt under Augustus,” Classical Philology 12 (1917): 237–43. 132
afflictions, στοµακάκκη and σκελοτύρβη, attacked the army due to local water and plants. The former condition caused paralysis around the mouth, while the latter paralyzed the legs.388 The nature of στοµακάκκη is a mystery, as the surviving medical tradition does not describe the condition and modern classical scholars have been reticent about identifying it.389 In modern times, some medical scholars have plausibly suggested that it was scurvy, since this condition causes problems with the mouth and pain in the legs especially during advanced stages of the condition.390
With Strabo's account of the disease in mind, let us turn to Cassius Dio's Thucydidean description of the same rare ailment in his narrative of the Arabian expedition:
τὸ δὲ δὴ νόσηµα οὐδενὶ τῶν συνήθων ὅµοιον ἐγίγνετο, ἀλλ’ ἐς τὴν κεφαλὴν
ἐνσκῆψαν ἐξήραινεν αὐτήν, καὶ τοὺς µὲν πολλοὺς αὐτίκα ἀπώλλυε, τῶν δὲ δὴ
περιγιγνοµένων ἔς τε τὰ σκέλη κατῄει, πᾶν τὸ µεταξὺ τοῦ σώµατος ὑπερβάν, καὶ
ἐκεῖνα τε ἐλυµαίνετο, ἴαµά τε αὐτοῦ οὐδὲν ἦν χωρὶς ἢ εἴ τις ἔλαιον οἴνῳ
µεµιγµένον καὶ ἔπιε καὶ ἠλείψατο.
The disease resembled none of the normal ailments but, attacking the head, it
dried it up. It killed most people immediately, but if someone survived this, it then
descended to the legs, jumping over the rest of the body in between, and
388 Strabo, Geography 16.4.24 (781). 389 The only other mention of the condition of which I am aware is in Pliny, Natural History 25.20-1. 390 Emmanuil Magiorkinis, Apostolos Beloukas, and Aristidis Diamantis, “Scurvy: Past, Present and Future,” European Journal of Internal Medicine 22 (April 2011): 147–52. 133
destroyed them. There was no cure for it except for drinking and applying to the
skin olive oil mixed with wine.391
From Thucydides, Dio has appropriated his notion of the disease being unfamiliar (2.51.2) and there being no cure (2.51.2). He has also clearly appropriated Thucydides' notion of flux and fixation. Thucydides' description of the plague has a certain tidiness about it unlike any real disease. He begins with the head and follows its course outward to the body's extremities.392
Cassius Dio similarly begins with heat afflicting the head first, and then follows its course to the legs. But his description of the illness also lacks the precision of Strabo, who employs actual medical terminology for the disease. Dio's paraphrase of the condition which doctors called
σκελοτύρβη is (ἔς τε τὰ σκέλη κατῄει... ἐκεῖνα τε ἐλυµαίνετο) is also misleading, since
λυµαίνοµαι has connotations of destruction.393 Thus, Dio's choice of words could easily lead one to believe that the legs were destroyed by an affliction such as gangrene rather than being rendered inoperable by paralysis.
In these ways, Dio's account of the disease(s) that afflicted Aelius Gallus' army is problematic.
The Thucydidean model dulls the precision of his account and could mislead readers analyzing
Dio's report of the disease's symptoms, if it were the only surviving source. But we must keep in mind Dio's audience. He was writing for an audience of learned laymen, who by and large probably did not include medical experts. Consequently, Dio must have felt the Thucydidean
391 Cassius Dio, Roman History 53.29. 392 Elizabeth Craik, “Thucydides on the Plague: Physiology of Flux and Fixation,” Classical Quarterly 51 (2001): 102–108. 393 LSJ λυµαίνοµαι A.1 134
model of plague was more appropriate for his audience. It reduces complex medical terminology to a simple model of disease pathology moving from head to toe, which rhetorically trained readers would have understood better than jargon such as στοµακάκκη and σκελοτύρβη.
Furthermore, for Dio's contemporaries, Thucydides was probably the layman's notional model of a disease, not what could be found in a medical manual. Galen highlights the layman-like qualities of Thucydides in comparison with Hippokrates. Thucydides gives a fulsome description of plague, but he includes much extraneous material about it, which Hippokrates as a medical expert excludes, honing in on what was important from his standpoint.394 Thus, Dio's account distorts the pathology of the disease(s). But we should not simply discredit Dio's imitation of
Thucydides as poorly wrought rhetorical adornment.395 Rather, Thucydides gave Dio a model for describing and explaining a disease to a lay audience in Attic Greek terms that they would understand, even if it forced him to make it more “generic.” Some misrepresentation of a disease's symptoms was inevitable in ancient historiography because a prospective historian had to explain the disease in terms understandable to an audience trained in Thucydides.
Thus far we have shown how later imitators used Thucydides' description of plague, sieges, and stasis. They might pick the sections from Thucydides that applied to their circumstances and rewrite them to reflect the historical situation as best they could. Imitating a battle in Thucydides was a different matter altogether. Learning to write an ekphrasis of a battle was an important part of the rhetorical curriculum just like writing about plague or a siege. But unlike those events, we actually have rhetors' “generic” examples of land and sea battles, describing the formations and
394 Kudlien, “Galens Urteil.” " 395 John Rich, The Augustan Settlement: Roman History 53-55.9 (Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips, 1990), 165. 135
tactics employed by each side.396 In the progymnasmata, rhetors particularly emphasized
Thucydides' ekphrasis of the Athenian defeat at Epipolai in 413 B.C. (7.43-4) and even labeled it in the scholia to Thucydides for quick reference.397 Their emphasis on this battle in classroom exercises did not go unnoticed, as the historians Sallust, Tacitus, and Josephos later imitated this battle in their histories.398 But in spite of his regular use in the rhetorical curriculum, later imitators did not follow Thucydides in the ways we might expect: adopting general strategy, military formations, etc. that applied to their circumstances. Thucydides' real value to later imitators was as a model to explain the fog of war. Where uncertainty reigned supreme,
Thucydides helped the historian make sense of the chaos.
One does not typically think of Tacitus as a direct imitator of Thucydides, as it is more common to emphasize the influence of other Latin historians on his work. But in a now largely forgotten article, Henry Bardon conclusively proved that Tacitus modeled the second battle of Bedriacum in 69 A.D. on Thucydides' battle at Epipolai.399 This critical battle, fought at night between the troops of the emperor Vitellius (69 A.D.) and legions who had declared themselves for
Vespasian (69-79 A.D.), spelled the end of Vitellius' brief reign, and opened the way for Flavian troops to march on Rome.400 As a night engagement, the battle would have been particularly challenging for Tacitus to reconstruct from his sources, and he acknowledges as much at the beginning of his description, confessing his inability to fully describe the battle array of each
396 E.g., Libanios, Ekphrasis 1, 11. 397 See chapter 1. 398 Sallust, Jugurthine War 38. On which, see Thomas Francis Scanlon, The Influence of Thucydides on Sallust (Heidelberg: Winter, 1980), 145–47; Josephos, Jewish War 6.136-41. On Tacitus, see below. 399 Henri Bardon, “Tacite Hist, 3.21–24 et Thucydide 7.43–44,” in Hommages à Max Niedermann. (Brussels: Latomus, 1956), 34–37. " 400 On the battle, see Gwyn Morgan, 69 A.D: The Year of Four Emperors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 206–8. 136
side.401 In this, he resembles Thucydides, who acknowledged the difficulties of reporting on
Epipolai.402 But in writing an account of a night battle, Thucydides' true value to Tacitus was to make sense of the incomprehensible. None of the tactical arrangements of Thucydides or Tacitus line up. Instead, Tacitus has drawn on Thucydides for the confusing human experience of a night battle. He writes:
Proelium tota nocte varium, anceps, atrox, his, rursus illis exitiabile. Nihil animus
aut manus, ne oculi quidem provisu iuvabant. Eadem utraque acie arma, crebris
interrogationibus notum pugnae signum, permixta vexilla, ut quisque globus capta
ex hostibus huc vel illuc raptabat.
The battle lasted the whole night with varied fortune. It was uncertain in its
outcome, fierce, and destructive now to this side now to the other. Neither
courage nor arms, nor even their eyes helped men see the danger before them. The
weapons on both sides were the same, the watchwords for battle became known
as many people asked for them. Their standards were confused, as this or that
party snatched them from their enemy and carried them off in this or that
The influence of Thucydides is most evident in the phrase crebris... signum, which concisely translates Thucydides 7.44.4: καὶ τοῖς ἐρωτήµασι τοῦ ξυνθήµατος πυκνοῖς χρώµενοι... καὶ τοῖς
401 Tacitus, Histories 3.22. 402 Thuydides, Histories. 7.44.1. 403 Tacitus, Histories 3.22. 137
πολεµίοις σαφὲς αὐτὸ κατέστησαν. But Tacitus has drawn on the spirit of Epipolai, describing the confused efforts of one group to attack another like in Thucydides. For comparison, Cassius
Dio's own description of the battle, which was not modeled on Thucydides, lacks Tacitus' focus on the confusion experienced by both sides. If the epitomator of Dio correctly represents him,
Bedriacum was a start and stop night-long affair. At one point, the fighters even stopped to have dinner when the women of the city brought it to them!404 Tacitus dispenses with such details, relying instead on Thucydides to bridge the void and describe the chaos of a night battle.
Other historians used Thucydides in a similar fashion for other battles. For example, Dionysios of Halikarnassos, who greatly admired Thucydides' description of the naval battle at Syracuse
(7.70-1), modeled the legendary battle of the Horatii and Curiatii brothers after this decisive battle.405 The deciding moment in Rome's regal period when the nascent city asserted its preeminence over its metropolis Alba, the Horatii and Curiatii fought as champions before their respective armies in order to avoid a general battle and kinslaying. Thucydides naturally lent himself as a model to Dionysios for this conflict because the naval battle of Syracuse was also a spectacle set before an audience of soldiers watching from the sidelines and because parts of the conflict took place outside the view of spectators. Thus, Thucydides' analysis of the Athenians' varied reactions to the uncertainty of the Syracusan naval combat (7.71) was very useful to
Dionysios. While Dionysios had no use for the specifics of the battle by Syracuse, Thucydides'
404 Cassius Dio, Roman History 64.12-3. 405 Mélina Levy, “L’imitation de Thucydide Dans Les Opuscules Rhétoriques et Les Antiquités Romaines de Denys d’Halicarnasse,” in Ombres de Thucydide: La Réception de l’historien Depuis l’antiquité Jusqu’au Début Du XXe Siècle : Actes Des Colloques de Bordeaux, Les 16-17 Mars 2007, de Bordeaux, Les 30-31 Mai 2008 et de Toulouse, Les 23-25 Octobre 2008, ed. Valérie Fromentin, Sophie Gotteland, and Pascal Payen (Pessac: Ausonius, 2010), 57– 58.. 138
theatrical and psychological exploration of the drama of combat gave Dionysios a compelling tool to analyze this battle, given the meager raw data that he had available.
Cassius Dio similarly uses this same section of Thucydides to describe the battle of Naulochus along the coast of Sicily in 36 B.C. between the navies of Sextus Pompeius and Octavian. The battle, which was fought in sight of Octavian's and Pompeius' main armies, marked the end of
Pompeius' insurgency against the triumvirate in Sicily.406 Dio does not really describe the battle.
He instead focuses like Thucydides and Dionysios on the reaction of the observers to the event.407 From an artistic perspective, Cassius Dio's decision to model the battle of Naulochus after the Battle of Syracuse was felicitous, given the raw data available to him: there was a sea battle and both armies watched it from the mainland. His sources probably did not contain more detail than that, and Appian's narrative of the battle has been largely deemed too rhetorical to be of much use.408 Thus, modeling the battle on Thucydides allowed Dio to bridge the gap in his sources, lending a certain grandeur to the event, which effectively spelled the end of Sextus
Pompeius' insurgency. Rather than focusing on the specifics of the battle, he chose to analyze the feelings surging in each army, creating a dramatic intertext with Thucydides. Just as the account in the latter marked the beginning of the end for the Athenians and their disastrous march across
406 On Octavian's war with Pompeius, see now Kathryn Welch, Magnus Pius: Sextus Pompeius and the Transformation of the Roman Republic (Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2012), chap. 7. 407 The parallels between Thucydides and Dio are explored by Hans Melber, “Dio Cassius Über Die Letzten Kämpfe Gegen Sext. Pompeius, 36 v. Chr.,” in Abhandlungen Aus Dem Gebiet Der Klassichen Alterthumswissenschaft: Wilhelm von Christ Zum Sechzigsten Geburtstag (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1891), 211–36. 408 Jean-Michel Roddaz, Marcus Agrippa (Rome: Ecole française de Rome, 1984), 130 n. 230; Emilio Gabba, Appiani Bellorum civilium liber quintus. (Florence: La nuova Italia, 1970), 202–3; Meyer Reinhold, From Republic to Principate: An Historical Commentary on Cassius Dio’s Roman History Books 49-52 (36-29 B.C.) (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1988), 29; Welch, Magnus Pius, 176. 139
Sicily, so too did it spell the end of Sextus Pompeius: like the Athenians, Pompeius took flight across the Mediterranean and was subsequently slaughtered on the orders of Anthony.
Thus far, we have described imitation as a process of improvement, selection, and adaptation, without hitting upon its most crucial feature: emulation. Ancient imitative theory put a high price on emulation, defined for our purposes as competition with one's literary predecessors. For example, Ailios Aristeides, whose oratory had early on achieved widespread fame and even entered the late antique rhetorical curriculum,409 was celebrated for his agonistic style of imitation. The author of a late antique introduction to Aristeides writes that, "[Aristeides] contended with the chief among the ancients in his oratory, that is Isocrates, Demosthenes,
Thucydides, Herodotus, and the chief wise man Plato. He crafted speeches emulating them in subject matter (ταῖς ὕλαις), while the density of his arguments recalls that of Demosthenes."410
No doubt, the author of the introduction had in mind texts such as Aristeides' Panathenaic
Oration, which emulates Isokrates' Panathenaic Oration and Panegyrikos, reworking many of the same commonplaces and Athens' earlier history (as described by Herodotus, Thucydides, and
Xenophon) in order to celebrate the city.411 Thus, for a late antique observer, emulation of one's model was an important way to attain literary fame. One only had to follow in Aristeides' footsteps, as he had followed in those of the ancients before him.
409 Aristeides' widespread use is attested by the biographies and introductions to his orations surviving from late antiquity. They are collected in Friedrich Lenz, The Aristeides Prolegomena (Leiden: Brill, 1959). He is also cited in a mid-third century A.D. papyrus commentary to Thucydides (P. Vindob. 29247). 410 Introduction to Aristeides 18-9. 411 On the Panathenaic Oration, see James H. Oliver, “The Civilizing Power: A Study of the Panathenaic Discourse of Ailios Aristides against the Background of Literature and Cultural Conflict, with Text, Translation, and Commentary,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 58 (1968): 1–223. 140
There are many historians who emulated Thucydides, but none in my view were so committed to surpassing the Athenian historian as Prokopios, the historian of Justinian. Like Aristeides, he contends with Thucydides in subject matter and, as I will argue below, he strives to outdo
Thucydides in areas where Thucydides was widely renowned among ancient rhetors and historians. That agonistic emulation is his intention, Prokopios makes clear in his widely discussed preface. After announcing, like Thucydides and many other ancient historians, that the wars fought in his lifetime were the greatest ever fought, Prokopios tells us that some people say ancient events were far superior to modern.412 As proof that this assertion is wrong, Prokopios then discusses the superiority of the modern mounted archer to the Homeric archer. “Modern” warfare often fought with mounted archers lacked the face-to-face element of earlier Homeric combat. But even if modern warfare is less noble in this regard, Prokopios contends that modern soldiers are still superior. For example, archers in Homer had to take cover to protect their bodies. Even then, their arrows were ineffective and easily deflected. In contrast, modern soldiers are protected with mail. Their darts strike forcefully, shattering armor and shields, thus demonstrating the technological superiority of modern soldiers.
Modern scholars have read this passage in a variety of ways. Some have taken Prokopios at face value, seeing here, "a genuine paean to the renewed capability of imperial forces as a result of the adoption of new combat techniques or as a criticism of the barbarisation of the Roman army or even as a rather jokey ‘farrago’"413 These reading undeniably have their merits, but I would
412 Prokopios, History of the Wars 1.1.6-17. 413 Previous interpretations of the passage are discussed by Geoffrey Greatrex, “Perceptions of Procopius in Recent Scholarship,” Histos 8 (2014): 94; Conor Whately, Battles and Generals: Combat, Culture, and Didacticism in 141
suggest that we read Prokopios' discussion more symbolically as a reflection on the anxiety of antiquity, as Marion Kruse has recently highlighted.414 Throughout his history, Prokopios pushes back against a prevailing notion that the ancients were somehow the ultimate authority on all issues. For example, Prokopios mocks those who take Herodotus as their ultimate authority on the Danube River. Rather than trusting their own eyes, they unquestioningly follow an ancient source, valuing ancient authority over their own experience.415 Thus, one way to read Prokopios' preface is as a proclamation (1) that the modern world is not inferior to its ancient predecessors and (2) that Prokopios' own skills as a historian are not inferior to those of his predecessors, if we read Prokopios' archers as an extended metaphor of the notion τοῦ σκοποῦ τυχεῖν, that is to hit the target. As we have seen throughout this book, ancient critics found many faults with
Thucydides and Herodotus, who resemble the Homeric archers in Prokopios' analogy. They lacked the armament and technological refinements of later generations. In contrast, Prokopios' history, like the Justinianic soldiers, will take full advantage of later developments (ἐπιτεχνήσεις) in literary artistry. He will not miss his literary target, but rather strike it forcefully and even shatter it.
Locked in emulative combat with Thucydides, Prokopios reveals most clearly his agonistic stance in his plague scene, where he strives with the Athenian historian in subject matter.416 Just like Thucydides, he opens his plague scene with a proclamation of the magnitude of the plague.
Procopius’ Wars (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 181–8, sees it as a statement of reality, explaining why Byzantines troops actually won battles. 414 Marion Kruse, “Archery in the Preface to Procopius’ Wars: A Figured Image of Agonistic Authorship,” Studies in Late Antiquity 1 (2017): 381–406. 415 Prokopios, History of the Wars 8.6.9-15. 416 For an overview of Thucydides and the plague, see Mischa Meier, “Prokop, Agathias, Die Pest Und Das ‘Ende’ Der Antiken Historiographie. Naturkatastrophen Und Geschichtsschreibung in Der Ausgehenden Spätantike,” Historische Zeitschrift 278 (2004): 281–310. 142
But where Thucydides' plague had been an unprecedented crisis for the Athenians, Prokopios one-ups his rival, claiming that the Justinianic plague was a crisis for the whole of humanity
(λοιµὸς γέγονεν, ἐξ οὗ δὴ ἅπαντα ὀλίγου ἐδέησε τὰ ἀνθρώπεια ἐξίτηλα εἶναι).417 Then, as proof of his contention, Prokopios details the spread of the plague across the known world. But unlike
Thucydides, Prokopios notes the unprecedented severity of the plague, which occurred during no specific season of the year nor spared any specific groups.418 In contrast, the Athenian plague had struck Athens only during the summer and conspicuously spared the Spartans.419
Prokopios' emulation of Thucydides was not limited to the magnitude of events. He also strove with Thucydides for precision. In antiquity, Thucydides was widely praised for the precision and fulness of his factual reporting (ἀκρίβεια τῶν πραγµάτων).420 Some ancients thought he had outshone all subsequent historians in this regard, providing the most precise details about events.421 Writing in the Thucydidean tradition, Prokopios naturally shows his concern for precision in his preface, writing that, "he has recorded with complete precision and exactness
(ἀκριβολογούµενος) everything that befell those concerned in his history."422 But remarkably, when Prokopios lifts words and expressions from Thucydides' plague, he will often make
Thucydides' expressions more detailed and precise. For example, when Prokopios describes the black lentil sized rashes that appeared on plague victims (2.22.30: τισί τε φλυκταίναις µελαίναις,
417 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.1. Cf. Thuc. 2.47.3. 418 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.3. 419 Thuc. 2.47.2. For Spartans unaffected, 2.54.5. 420 Josephos, Against Apion 1.18; Ailios Aristeides, On the Four, 120; Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 1; Eunapius, History, Blockley frag. 1.72-5. 421 Josephos, Against Apion 1.18; Ailios Aristeides, On the Four, 120; Eunapius, History, Blockley frag. 1.72-5. 422 Prokopios, History of the Wars 1.1.5: τὰ πᾶσι ξυνενεχθέντα ἕκαστα ἀκριβολογούµενος ξυνεγράψατο. 143
ὅσον φακοῦ µέγεθος, ἐξήνθει τὸ σῶµα), he borrows Thucydides' expression for the appearance of blisters (2.49.5: τὸ µὲν ἔξωθεν ἁπτοµένῳ σῶµα...φλυκταίναις µικραῖς καὶ ἕλκεσιν ἐξηνθηκός).
However, Prokopios is more precise than Thucydides, giving the blisters, a typical sign of septicaemic bubonic plague,423 a specific size and color. Similarly, Prokopios has adapted
Thucydides’ vague comments on the variable effectiveness of treatments (2.51.2: τὸ γάρ τῳ
ξυνενεγκὸν ἄλλον τοῦτο ἔβλαπτεν) by actually telling us what treatments doctors tried on their patients. For example, doctors made their patients take baths with mixed results (2.22.33: τὰ
λουτρὰ τοὺς µὲν ὤνησε, τοὺς δὲ οὐδέν τι ἧσσον κατέβλαψεν). Thus, one of the ways in which
Prokopios imitates Thucydides is by taking a line from his model and providing even more precise detail than the Athenian historian. In this regard, it is somewhat ironic that nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship once impugned the veracity of Prokopios for lifting words and expressions from Thucydides.424 In his contest with Thucydides, Prokopios in fact provides more specific detail about the Justinianic plague. His plague scene is nearly twice the length of Thucydides, describing more exact symptoms, medical treatments tried, and even burial operations carried out by Justinian's government. The latter in particular is an area on which Thucydides himself is notably silent, even though the Athenian state must have taken some kind of action to remove all the bodies of the dead that Thucydides describes choking up the Athenian roadways.425
423 WHO, “Plague Manual: Epidemiology, Distribution, Surveillance and Control,” n.d., 44–45, http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/plague/WHO_CDS_CSR_EDC_99_2_EN/en/. 424 Braun, Procopius Caesariensis, 61.Braun, Procopius Caesariensis, 61. 425 Bibliography on the Athenian plague is enormous. For a helpful summary of the status quaestionis, see Manley, “Measles and Ancient Plagues.” On the problems of reading Thucydides' plague, Craik, “Thucydides on the Plague”; Bellemore and Plant, “Thucydides, Rhetoric and Plague in Athens”; Morgan, “Plague or Poetry? Thucydides on the Epidemic at Athen.” To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever tried to figure out what Athens did about unclaimed corpses. Nor have attempts to locate mass graves from plague been successful. 144
Still, it is worth noting that the veracity of Prokopios' plague is slightly diminished by his emulation of Thucydides. Recently, medical science has conclusively proven that the Justinianic plague like the Black Death was caused by bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis),426 so the time is ripe for a reevaluation of how Prokopios represented this disease, which has been amply studied and documented by modern medicine. Although the cause of the plague is no longer a mystery, bubonic plague's virulence during the Justinianic plague is problematic. As many scholars writing on the Black Death have observed, modern bubonic plague is slow-moving, devastating the countryside more heavily than cities. It rarely kills large numbers in a single outbreak, though over decades it can wipe out large segments of the population.427 Its epidemiology is therefore at odds with the extraordinarily bad outbreak reported by Prokopios. For example, Prokopios reports that 5000 and even 10,000 people died a day during the peak of the plague outbreak in
Constantinople.428 Scientists have found that the Yersinia pestis responsible for the Justinianic plague differed genetically from the modern form.429 Thus, geneticists will have to tell us what impact these mutations had on the disease's epidemiological manifestation. But now that we know what the disease was with certainty, we can compare its known symptoms to those described in Prokopios, noting the effects of Thucydides on his translation of reality into words.
426 Justinianic plague: David M. Wagner et al., “Yersinia Pestis and the Plague of Justinian 541-543 AD: A Genomic Analysis,” The Lancet Infectious Diseases 14, no. 4 (April 2014): 319–26; Michal Feldman et al., “A High-Coverage Yersinia Pestis Genome from a Sixth-Century Justinianic Plague Victim,” Molecular Biology and Evolution 33, no. 11 (2016): 2911–23. " 427 Susan Scott and C. J Duncan, Biology of Plagues: Evidence from Historical Populations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Graham Twigg, The Black Death: A Biological Reappraisal (London: Batsford Academic and Educational, 1984); Samuel Kline Cohn, The Black Death Transformed: Disease and Culture in Early Renaissance Europe (London, 2002).. 428 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.23.2. 429 Feldman et al., “A High-Coverage Yersinia Pestis Genome from a Sixth-Century Justinianic Plague Victim.” 145
But before addressing this issue, it is important to note that Prokopios interpreted the Justinianic plague not only through the lens of Thucydides but also through the medical tradition. It is often forgotten that bubonic plague was already familiar to Greek medical science before the
Justinianic plague. Bubonic plague had devastated Africa during the Hellenistic period. Rouphos of Ephesos, a first century A.D. doctor, whose works were the fundamental basis of late antique understanding of plague, reports that bubonic plague (ὁ βουβὼν) was known to occur especially in Africa, Egypt, and Syria. It manifested itself with a high fever, sharp pain, full body disturbance (σύστασιν ὅλου τοῦ σώµατος), delirium (παραφροσύνη), and the appearance of buboes throughout the body.430 Rouphos' account of bubonic plague probably circulated widely in late antiquity.431 If not, it would have been available to Justinianic doctors conveniently through Oreibasios' Medical Collections. Although Prokopios was not a doctor, he exhibits a keen interest in medicine throughout his plague account, reporting on doctors studying the bodies of the dead and dissecting buboes.432 Prokopios himself even draws on Galen's On the
Therapeutic Method when describing the air on Mount Vesuvius and its salutary effect for those suffering from consumption.433 Therefore, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Prokopios may have read Rouphos' description of plague or at least talked with doctors about the plague and learned from them about bubonic plague and its symptoms. In this regard, it is noteworthy that
Prokopios nowhere makes any claim that this plague was unknown to his contemporaries.
430 Oreibasios, Medical Collections 44.14. 431 On Rouphos of Ephesus, see Vivian Nutton, “The Medical World of Rufus of Ephesus,” in Rufus of Ephesus on Melancholy, ed. Peter E. Pormann (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 139–58. The later circulation of this portion of Rouphos' works may be confirmed by the citation of the same passage by the seventh century scholiast to Hippokrates, Theophilos protospatharios. Theophilos adds that buboes appeared two to three days after infection, a detail which does not appear in Oreibasios. See Theophilos, Damaskios, and Stephan of Athens, Scholia to Hippokrates' aphorisms, 353. 432 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.29. 433 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.4.29-60. Cf. Galen, On The Therapeutic Method (De Medendi Methodo; pp. 363–66; Kühn vol. 10) 146
Thucydides had claimed that the Athenian plague was unusual and different than anything that had previously affected the Greek world (ἐδήλωσε µάλιστα ἄλλο τι ὂν ἢ τῶν ξυντρόφων τι).434
Later imitators of Thucydides, such as Cassius Dio and the fourteenth-century emperor-historian
John Kantakouzenos would appropriate Thucydides' statement to describe what they thought were unknown diseases.435 But Prokopios and his contemporary doctors could probably classify the plague through its symptoms. He describes high fever and the appearance of buboes throughout the body. He also dwells heavily on what can only be delirium: people having visions of demons striking them and unknown voices announcing the onset of plague.436 Taken as a whole, this suggests that he saw the plague through the lense of the Greek medical tradition.
As such, Prokopios’ account naturally profits from the strengths of this tradition, but also suffers from its biases. For example, delirium, which figures prominently in Rouphos and Prokopios' list of common symptoms, is actually a rarer symptom of bubonic plague. It occasionally occurs more than a week after infection and the appearance of buboes, when the infection spreads from the lymph nodes to the membranes surrounding the spine and brain through the blood. Far less commonly, it may appear as the first symptom of plague absent the appearance of buboes.437
Thus, Prokopios' assertion that something like hallucinations afflicted nearly all sufferers at the onset of the plague is probably a misrepresentation, encouraged by previous medical lore and also the superstitions of the time. Any mention of delirium or demonic visitations are
434 Thucydides, Histories 2.50.1. 435 Cassius Dio, Roman History 53.29: τὸ δὲ δὴ νόσηµα οὐδενὶ τῶν συνήθων ὅµοιον ἐγίγνετο. Kantakouzenos, History 3.52: ὅθεν καὶ µάλιστα ἐδεδήλωτο, οὐ τῶν συντρόφων καὶ τῇ φύσει προσηκόντων τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀλλ’ ἕτερόν τι ὂν. 436 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.10-8. 437 Thomas Butler, Plague and Other Yersinia Infections (New York: Plenum Medical Book Co., 1983), 83–84. 147
conspicuously absent in Kantakouzenos' own observations of bubonic plague eight centuries later.438 As we have seen above, Christians such as Gregory of Nyssa probably wanted to think that visitations of demons caused plague.
One reason that Prokopios probably emphasizes delirium so heavily is because, in competition with his model, he was amplifying Thucydides' theme that the plague was beyond words and explanation (Thuc. 2.50.1: γενόµενον γὰρ κρεῖσσον λόγου τὸ εἶδος τῆς νόσου). For example,
Prokopios corrects Thucydides on why plague victims wanted to throw themselves into a body of water. Thucydides asserts that people threw themselves into wells due to unquenchable thirst
(2.49.6: τῇ δίψῃ ἀπαύστῳ). But Prokopios in effect corrects Thucydides, offering the real reason: it was not desire for water, but delirium induced by the disease that caused people to throw themselves into the sea (2.22.25: οὐ δὴ οὐχ ὅσον τοῦ ποτοῦ ἐπιθυµίᾳ...ἀλλ’ αἴτιον ἦν µάλιστα ἡ
τῶν φρενῶν νόσος). As an aside, it is worth noting that Prokopios has even increased the magnitude of the body of water into which people hurled themselves. We can also see the development of this Thucydidean theme in response to the medical tradition. For example,
Rouphos recommends treating the plague with more precaution than usual (τὸν δὲ λοιµώδη [sc.
θεραπεύωµεν] µετὰ προαγορεύσεως καὶ προσοχῆς ἀκριβεστέρας),439 so Byzantine doctors probably tried to take extra precautions while treating plague victims. But Prokopios, echoing
Thucydides, denies that therapy or precautions were of any use during the plague (καὶ πάλιν αὖ
τὰ τῆς θεραπείας ἐφ’ ἑκάτερα τοῖς χρωµένοις ἐχώρει, καὶ τὸ ξύµπαν εἰπεῖν οὐδεµία µηχανὴ
ἀνθρώπῳ ἐς τὴν σωτηρίαν ἐξεύρητο, οὔτε προφυλαξαµένῳ µὴ πεπονθέναι).440
438 Kantakouzenos, Roman History 3.50-2. 439 Oreibasios, Medical Collections 44.14.5. 440 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.34. Cf. Thuc. 2.47.4. 148
Thus, the distorting effect of Thucydides on Prokopios seems to have been one of exaggeration.
Conceptualizing the plague through prevailing medical theory, Prokopios perhaps went too far in his competition with Thucydides, overemphasizing the plague's delirious nature. But one can hardly fault Prokopios for his slight exaggerations. He was a layman writing for laymen about the plague like Thucydides. Rhetorical distortion is hardly a fault limited to Prokopios, as even
Thucydides himself has often come under fire for misrepresenting the Athenian plague through exaggerated rhetoric.441
In any case, for all its drawbacks, imitators’ emulation of Thucydides could even be valuable from a modern perspective. Take for example the initial outbreak of the Black Death in 1347.
We now conclusively know that bubonic plague was the agent responsible for its destructive force, but scholars do not quite understand why it was so destructive, given Yersinia pestis' modern epidemiology.442 Scholars who once doubted bubonic plague's agency have often pointed out that there is no description of dying rats in the Western literary sources or evidence of rat skeletons in modern archaeological digs.443 Scholars have thus now begun to wonder where all the flea-bitten rodents are that should have accompanied the bubonic plague.444 But if
441 E.g., Craik, “Thucydides on the Plague”; Bellemore and Plant, “Thucydides, Rhetoric and Plague in Athens”; Morgan, “Plague or Poetry? Thucydides on the Epidemic at Athen.” 442 Stephanie Haensch et al., “Distinct Clones of Yersinia Pestis Caused the Black Death,” PLOS Pathogens 6, no. 10 (October 7, 2010); Verena J. Schuenemann et al., “Targeted Enrichment of Ancient Pathogens Yielding the PPCP1 Plasmid of Yersinia Pestis from Victims of the Black Death,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, no. 38 (2011). 443 E.g., Scott and Duncan, Biology of Plagues; Twigg, The Black Death; Cohn, The Black Death Transformed; Gunnar Karlsson, “Plague without Rats: The Case of Fifteenth-Century Iceland,” Journal of Medieval History 22 (1996): 263–84. 444 E.g., Michael McCormick, “Rats, Communications, and Plague: Toward an Ecological History,” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 34 (2003): 1–25. 149
more students of the Black Death knew Byzantine accounts of the Black Death, this issue could have been resolved generations ago. Because Thucydides describes the effect of plague on animals (2.50.2), later Byzantine imitators were also on the lookout for how the Black Death affected animals. For example, John Kantakouzenos describes how household animals died alongside their masters.445 His contemporary Nikephoros Gregoras goes into even more detail, recalling that rodents died and lay inside the walls of Byzantine houses (καὶ εἴ τινες ἐν τοῖς τῶν
οἴκων τοίχοις οἰκοῦντες ἔτυχον µύες).446 Thus, because of Thucydides Byzantine historians paid attention to details that escaped their Western counterparts. These Byzantine historians could not have known that the rodents dying in their houses were killing their friends and families, but because of Thucydides they have preserved important details overlooked by Western observers.
4. The Creation of New Scenes
For modern observers, Thucydides' long-standing preeminence as the canonical example of plague, siege, sedition, and battle must seem odd. How could he stay at the top for so long? The reason for this is first and foremost rhetors employing Thucydides in the classroom. Their teachings effectively equipped students with Thucydidean goggles through which to see the world and write about it. But another factor was undoubtedly the conservatism of the rhetorical tradition. Once a suitable model for a scene had been settled upon, some rhetors did not see the point of looking elsewhere. Even Quintilian who acknowledges the importance of inventing new material, recognized that "it is expedient to imitate what has been successfully invented."447 It
445 Kantakouzenos, Roman History, 2.51. 446 Nikephoros Gregoras, History 2.798. Gregoras does not explicitly imitate Thucydides, but his knowledge of Thucydides is confirmed by his declamation discussed in chap. X. 447 Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 10.2.1. 150
was only very rarely that a historian might surpass his model and himself attain canonical status.
For example, Prokopios' brilliant imitation of Thucydides' plague became an instant classic and was on par with Thucydides for later Byzantine historians, as I will discuss below.448 But for nearly all prospective historians, equaling the Thucydidean prototype of a scene was only an aspiration. For a writer who wanted to showcase his originality, his best recourse was to craft an ekphrasis on a topic that lacked a canonical example, such as for example a famine or an earthquake. But even in this endeavor, Thucydides could help to shape the structure and formulation of a new scene.
Among imitators of Thucydides, Josephos' name is well known.449 In his Jewish Antiquities, the
Jewish general turned historian undertook to translate and adapt the Old Testament for a Greek- speaking audience. Describing the plague that befell the kingdom of David when he tried to take a census of the Jewish people in direct violation of the laws of Moses (2 Samuel 24.15),
Josephos rendered the plague in Thucydidean terms.450 But when he described the events of his own times, in the Jewish War, Josephos returned to the plague narrative, deploying its structure and psychological insight in order to write a famine scene. During the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Josephos describes a brutal effects of famine on the city. His description of the famine is broken into three parts (5.424-445, 5.512-18, and 6.193-219). Thucydides' influence is present in all three.
448 See below. 449 On Josephos and Thucydides, Price, “Josephus’ Reading”; Mader, Josephus; Louis H Feldman, Josephus’s Interpretation of the Bible (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 177–78; Hans Drüner, Untersuchungen über Josephus. (Marburg, 1896).. 450 Josephos, Jewish Antiquities 7.324-6. On which, see Samuel S Kottek, Medicine and Hygiene in the Works of Flavius Josephus (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 156–60. 151
In the first part, he describes the chaotic breakdown of social order and decorum that the famine inflicted, in a manner reminiscent of Thucydides' account of the breakdown of Athenian society
(Thuc. 2.53). As Josephos summarily writes, "The famine surpassed all other sufferings, but it destroyed nothing more than shame."451 Driven by hunger, children and parents, wives and husbands steal food from one another even when their loved one is at death's door. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Zealot faction which controlled Jerusalem break into people's houses stealing food and torturing them so that they would reveal the location of hidden food stores. It is noteworthy that Josephos singles out this faction for his malice, complaining that there had never in all of time been "a generation more productive of wickedness than them," who brought the
Hebrew race wholesale contempt.452 Like other emulators of Thucydides 2.53, Josephos is careful to restrain his contempt to a specific segment of the population rather than the general population. There are no explicit verbal parallels between Josephos and Thucydides, but this section draws thematically upon Thucydides, showing the destruction of social mores due to famine.
In his second famine section (5.512-8), Josephos more clearly imitates Thucydides on the breakdown of burial customs caused by famine:
451 Josephos, Jewish War 5.429. Cf. Thuc. 2.53.1: Πρῶτόν τε ἦρξε καὶ ἐς τἆλλα τῇ πόλει ἐπὶ πλέον ἀνοµίας τὸ νόσηµα. 452 Josephos, Jewish War 5.442-4: Καθ’ ἕκαστον µὲν οὖν ἐπεξιέναι τὴν παρανοµίαν αὐτῶν ἀδύνατον, συνελόντα δὲ εἰπεῖν, µήτε πόλιν ἄλλην τοιαῦτα πεπονθέναι µήτε γενεὰν ἐξ αἰῶνος γεγονέναι κακίας γονιµωτέραν, οἵ γε τελευταῖον καὶ τὸ γένος ἐφαύλιζον τῶν Ἑβραίων, ὡς ἧττον ἀσεβεῖς δοκοῖεν πρὸς ἀλλοτρίους, ἐξωµολογήσαντο δ’ ὅπερ ἦσαν εἶναι δοῦλοι καὶ σύγκλυδες καὶ νόθα τοῦ ἔθνους φθάρµατα. 152
καὶ τὰ µὲν τέγη πεπλήρωτο γυναικῶν καὶ βρεφῶν λελυµένων, οἱ στενωποὶ
δὲ γερόντων νεκρῶν, παῖδες δὲ καὶ νεανίαι διοιδοῦντες ὥσπερ εἴδωλα κατὰ
τὰς ἀγορὰς ἀνειλοῦντο καὶ κατέπιπτον ὅπῃ τινὰ τὸ πάθος καταλαµβάνοι.
θάπτειν δὲ τοὺς προσήκοντας οὔτε ἴσχυον οἱ κάµνοντες καὶ τὸ διευτονοῦν
ὤκνει διά τε πλῆθος τῶν νεκρῶν καὶ διὰ τὸ κατὰ σφᾶς ἄδηλον· πολλοὶ γοῦν
τοῖς ὑπ’ αὐτῶν θαπτοµένοις ἐπαπέθνησκον, πολλοὶ δὲ ἐπὶ τὰς θήκας πρὶν
ἐπιστῆναι τὸ χρεὼν προῆλθον...οἱ δὲ τὸ µὲν πρῶτον ἐκ τοῦ δηµοσίου
θησαυροῦ τοὺς νεκροὺς θάπτειν ἐκέλευον τὴν ὀσµὴν οὐ φέροντες, ἔπειθ’ ὡς
οὐ διήρκουν ἀπὸ τῶν τειχῶν ἔρριπτον εἰς τὰς φάραγγας.
Houses were filled with women and children dying, while alleys were
choked up with dead old men. Children and youths roamed about like
ghosts, crowding around the markets and collapsed wheresoever their
misery seized them. The sick were too weak to to bury their relatives, while
the segment of the population that was still strong hesitated because of the
multitude of corpses and the uncertainty of their fate. Many died while they
burying the dead and many went to the burials of others only to die
themselves before fate was upon them...The rebels at first gave orders for
the bodies to be buried at the public expense unable to bear the smell of the
bodies, but later they were unable to continue doing this and they flung them
from the walls into the ravines.453
453 Josephos, Jewish War 5.513-5, 518. 153
Josephos' images of the dead and dying lying in the street derives from Thucydides as well as the inability of society to bury the dead. Particularly noteworthy as well are Josephos' use of a nominalized neuter adjective or participle, such as the participle τὸ διευτονοῦν and the adjectival phrase διὰ τὸ κατὰ σφᾶς ἄδηλον. This use of the neuter was a quirk of Thucydides well known in antiquity.454 Thus, while Josephos did not appropriate any specific words or phrases from
Thucydides' plague, this part of the famine scene is inspired by its style and spirit.
In his final section on the famine (6.193-219), Josephos recapitulates what he has already said about the famine. But the way in which he introduces his narration shows some Thucydidean influence.
Τῶν δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ λιµοῦ φθειροµένων κατὰ τὴν πόλιν ἄπειρον µὲν ἔπιπτε τὸ πλῆθος,
ἀδιήγητα δὲ συνέβαινε τὰ πάθη.
An innumerable number of people died from famine in the city and their sufferings
were indescribable. (BJ 5.193)
Throughout his plague scene, Thucydides similarly describes the magnitude of events, beginning his narrative, like Josephos, with a concise statement that the plague surpassed any known to man (2.47.3). Similarly, after describing its symptoms, Thucydides rounds off his discussion with a statement that the disease was unusual, defying all description (2.50.1: γενόµενον γὰρ
454 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 24; Scholia to Thucydides 1.50.3; 3.82.8. For modern views of this tendency, see Maximilian Nietzki, De Thucydideae elocutionis proprietate quadam, unde ducta, quomodo exculta, quatenus imitando efficta sit. (Königsberg, 1881), 37. 154
κρεῖσσον λόγου τὸ εἶδος τῆς νόσου). Josephos has essentially fused both notions together here.
Recounting the famine that gripped Jerusalem, Josephos has created a new scene of mass catastrophe, which borrows structurally from Thucydides. Thucydides' description of the magnitude of the event, mass death, and societal decay are dispersed throughout three episodes in Josephos' narrative, paying homage with Thucydidean turns of phrase.
Some five centuries later, the lawyer and historian Agathias similarly used the Thucydidean plague for his description of the great earthquake that struck Constantinople in December 557
A.D., demolishing the dome of St. Sophia. Agathias was very conscious of his literary originality. When describing the outbreak of plague that struck Byzantium in 558 A.D., he is very brief, running through what he says "the law of historiography requires" in just seven sentences.455 His conciseness is understandable, as Prokopios had already written “the” plague description for his generation. Therefore, Agathias strove to be original and contribute to historiography by writing a new kind of set-scene, this one about the earthquake. Like Josephos, he used Thucydides to structure his new ekphrasis, but followed Thucydides' structure more closely. Like the Athenian historian, he begins with a statement on the catastrophe's magnitude, writing that the current earthquake almost destroyed Constantinople and was unprecedented in size and magnitude (ἐν Βυζαντίῳ ἐξαίσιόν τι σεισµοῦ χρῆµα ἐνέσκηψεν, ὡς µικροῦ ἅπασαν
ἀνατετράφθαι καὶ διαρρυῆναι τὴν πόλιν. γέγονε µὲν γὰρ καὶ καθ’ αὑτὸν µέγιστος ἡλίκος καὶ
ὁποῖος, οἶµαι, οὐπώποτε πρότερον, τῇ τε τραχύτητι τοῦ βρασµοῦ καὶ τῷ µονίµῳ τοῦ σάλου).456
From there, he sets the scene, describing the peaceful rest and repose of Constantinopolitans
455 Agathias, Histories 5.10.7. 456 Agathias, Histories 5.3.1. Cf. Thuc. 2.47.3. 155
when suddenly the earthquake strikes. This faintly recalls Thucydides' description of the outbreak of the plague, in which all was normal or even better than normal when the plague suddenly attacked its victims.457 Like Thucydides, Agathias begins with normal peaceful occurrences suddenly interrupted by chaos. In what follows, Agathias describes the breakdown of order and chaos that immediately followed, as people fled their homes into the streets:
γύναια δὲ πολλά, µὴ ὅτι τῶν ἠµεληµένων, ἀλλ’ ἤδη που καὶ τῶν ἐντιµοτάτων,
ξυνηλᾶτο τοῖς ἀνδράσι καὶ ἀνεµίγνυτο· τάξις τε ἅπασα καὶ αἰδὼς καὶ ἡ τῶν γερῶν
µεγαλαυχία καὶ ὅ τι ἐνθένδε ὑπερανέχον καὶ ἀποκεκριµένον, ἀνετετάρακτο ἐν τῷ
τότε καὶ ἐπεπάτητο. οἵ τε γὰρ δοῦλοι τοὺς κεκτηµένους περιεφρόνουν καὶ τῶν
ἐπιταγµάτων ἀνηκουστοῦντες ἐς τὰ ἱερὰ ξυνῄεσαν, ὑπὸ τοῦ µείζονος νικώµενοι
δέους·οἵ τε ἐλάττονες πρὸς τοὺς ἐν τέλει ἐς ἰσοτιµίαν καθίσταντο, ὡς δὴ κοινοῦ
ἐπιπεσόντος κινδύνου καὶ ἁπάντων οἰοµένων οὐκ ἐς µακρὰν ἀπολεῖσθαι.
Large numbers of women, and not just low class women, but even some of the
most prominent ladies, roamed about and intermingled with the men. All order,
shame, and pride in privilege with its incumbent distinction was disrupted then
and trampled underfoot. Slaves defied their masters and, paying no heed to their
commands, congregated in places of worship, overwhelmed by the present and
greater fear. Men of no consequence and men of high rank were put on equal
457 Agathias, Histories 5.3.2. Cf. Thuc. 2.49.1-2. 156
footing owing to their common danger and the general prospect of imminent
Like Josephos, Agathias has adopted Thucydides' description of the breakdown of order in
Byzantium, but in his narrative class disorder plays a larger part rather than general societal disorder. Slaves disobey masters, rank and distinction among men is abandoned, and women are out in the streets freely (and shamefully) mingling with men. Finally, Agathias also comments on the moral ramifications of the catastrophe on the morality of the Constantinopolitans. But rather than drawing directly on Thucydides, Agathias pays homage to Prokopios, recounting that society's corrupt members momentarily corrected themselves before reverting to their previous vicious mores.459 It is important to note that, like Prokopios and Josephos, Agathias is careful to avoid generalizing about all members of Constantinopolitan society when he adapted this portion of the plague scene. Instead, he adopted Prokopios' correction of the Thucydidean original. In this way, Agathias added a new, original scene to the historiographical and ekphrastic tradition, drawing on the plague scenes of Thucydides and Prokopios to create something new and original out of his experiences while also avoiding the pitfalls of bias inherent in his Thucydidean model.
His success was such that one day he would find a future imitator in the eleventh-century historian Michael Attaleiates, who modeled his own account of an earthquake under the emperor
Constantine Monomachos (1042-1055) on Agathias.460 Even in the middle Byzantine era when
458 Agathias, Histories 5.3.7-8. Trans. Frendo (modified). 459 Kaldellis, “Literature of Plague,” 15–16. 460 Dimitris Krallis, Michael Attaleiates and the Politics of Imperial Decline in Eleventh-Century Byzantium (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012), 174–84. 157
Byzantines were not imitating Thucydides, his influence as a writer was still exerting itself indirectly through his literary children and grandchildren, so to speak.
5. The decline and fall of Thucydides in Middle Byzantium
Throughout antiquity, Thucydides' use in the rhetorical schools played a crucial role in the selection of material and manner in which Roman historians imitated Thucydides. No fact demonstrates the importance of rhetorical schools to Thucydidean imitation more than his fate in the Middle Ages. After being widely read by rhetors and their students in late antiquity,
Thucydides' use in schools sharply declined after the seventh century.461 With this decline, the number of Roman historians who imitated him also steeply tapered off. From the later seventh century until the fourteenth century when he was revived in some quarters as a rhetorical text, it is hard to find a single historian who imitated Thucydides in a manner reminiscent of his late antique predecessors. Plagues, sieges, discord, and battles continued to beset Romans just as they always had. But later Roman historians did not exhibit their ancestors' predilection for imitating
A brief survey of the surviving Byzantine historians reveals that they largely favored different and more recent models. In the tenth century, the author(s) of Theophanes Continuatus wrote biographies of Byzantium's emperors influenced by Plutarch and Polybios.462 The influence of
Plutarch's biographical techniques has also been noted in one of the greatest Byzantine
461 See chapter 2. 462 Romilly J. H. Jenkins, “The Classical Background of the Scriptores Post Theophanem,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 8 (1954): 11–30. 158
historians, Niketas Choniates.463 Michael Psellos, perhaps the best known Byzantine historian, explicitly rejects employing Thucydides’ summer and winter temporal scheme for his biographically organized Chronography.464 Michael Attaleiates' history of Byzantium's swift descent into military defeat and chaos during the eleventh century reverses Polybios' model of
Rome's swift rise to world dominance.465 Besides a shift toward writing imperial biography, for which Thucydides was not an ideal model, another trend in Middle Byzantine historiography was the increasing preeminence of Prokopios and Agathias, whose works later Byzantine historians such as Joseph Genesios, Leo the Deacon, Pseudo-Symeon, Michael Attaleiates, Nikephoros
Bryennios, and John Kinnamos often imitated in lieu of Thucydides.466 It was Thucydides' successors who inspired later Byzantine historiography rather than Thucydides himself.
In order to illustrate the fall of Thucydides, let us consider the fate of the two most imitated
Thucydidean scenes in all of antiquity: the plague and the siege of Plataia. In middle Byzantium, plagues continued to strike Byzantium. Multiple plague scenes survive from the seventh to the fourteenth century, but none of them are very detailed or imitate Thucydides.467 In antiquity, a
463 Alicia J Simpson, Niketas Choniates: A Historiographical Study (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 252– 53. 464 Michael Psellos, Chronography 6.24. 465 Krallis, Michael Attaleiates, chap. 2. 466 For Genesios and Bryennios, see Leonora Alice Neville, Heroes and Romans in Twelfth-Century Byzantium: The Material for History of Nikephoros Bryennios (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 141–47.Neville, Heroes and Romans, 141-7. For Pseudo-Simeon, Anthony Kaldellis, “The Byzantine Conquest of Crete (961 AD), Prokopios’ Vandal War, and the Continuator of the Chronicle of Symeon,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 39 (2015): 302–11. For Kinnamos, Charles Brand, Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), 7; Carl Neumann, Griechische Geschichtschreiber Und Geschichtsquellen Im 12. Jahrhundert: Studien Zu Anna Comnene, Theod. Prodromus, Joh. Cinnamus (Leipzig: Duncker et Humblot, 1888), 85–88; Warren Treadgold, The Middle Byzantine Historians (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 415. On Prokopios' influence on Kinnamos' battle scenes, see Piotr L Grotowski, Arms and Armour of the Warrior Saints: Tradition and Innovation in Byzantine Iconography (843-1261) (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 48 n. 125; Whately, Battles and Generals, 163 n. 3. 467 Michael Attaleiates, History 211-2; John Skylitzes, History, Constantine IX.30; Gregory Pachymeres, Historical Books, 1.467; 2.412-3. I do not include reworkings of these events in subsequent historians. It is worth pointing out 159
Thucydidean emulator such as Cassius Dio could easily have transformed a minor epidemic that struck a city or even an army into a full-blown Thucydidean plague.468 Byzantine historians who wrote histories of earlier periods such as the twelfth century historian John Zonaras could have easily applied a Thucydidean filter to such events, as had Cassius Dio, Appian, and Dionysios of
Halikarnassos. In middle Byzantium, however, the staying power of the Thucydidean plague scene was broken. The lengthiest surviving plague scene, hitherto largely unnoticed, is illustrative of this shift. It describes a bubonic plague outbreak that devastated Byzantium in 747-
8 under the emperor Constantine V (741-775).469 The original historical work does not survive, but five texts written by three separate authors preserve a version of the original: Theophanes'
Chronography, the patriarch Nikephoros' Short History, the same's third Antirrhetikos addressed to his iconoclast opponents, the same's refutation of the iconoclast council of 815, and a brief excerpt from the so-called lost Great Chronography, of which only excerpts survive in an eleventh-century manuscript.470
Warren Treadgold has recently argued this lost source was a continuation of the history of Trajan the Patrician. He has identified the patriarch Tarasios as the author of the source, which he contends was a classicizing history, complete with a plague scene and a Thucydidean reflection on stasis.471 I do not want to get into a discussion of the text's authorship here, but suffice it to
that a Cassius Dio or Dionysios of Halikarnassos might have transformed these earlier plague scenes into a full- fledged Thucydidean scene. 468 E.g., Cassius Dio, Roman History 53.29; Diodoros Sikoulos, Historical Library 14.71. 469 On the plague, see David Turner, “The Politics of Despair: The Plague of 746–747 and Iconoclasm in the Byzantine Empire,” Annual of the British School at Athens 85 (1990): 419–34. 470 Theophanes, Chronography, 423; Nikephoros, Short History 67; Nikephoros, Third Antirrhetikos 496 C-D; Nikephoros, Refutation 23; Great Chronography 17. On the Great Chronography (not Great Chronographer), see Treadgold, The Middle Byzantine Historians, 31–35. 471 Treadgold, 21. 160
say that for this period it is impossible to conclusively know who the author of this lost source was unless new evidence comes to light. The work appears to have been a classicizing history, but its Thucydidean qualities should be questioned. Let us examine the alleged Thucydidean stasis scene before turning to the plague. During the Byzantine civil war of 742-3 between
Constantine V and his brother-in-law Artabasdos, the lost author made some kind of comment on the evils of civil war that set father against son. Both Theophanes and Nikephoros present similar versions of this reflection:
Theophanes, Chronography 418 Nikephoros, Short History 65
ὁ δὲ ἀρχέκακος διάβολος τοιαύτην κατὰ τῶν Ἐντεῦθεν ἐν µεγίσταις συµφοραῖς τὰ Ῥωµαίων
Χριστιανῶν ἐν τοῖς χρόνοις τούτοις ἤγειρε διέκειτο, ὁπηνίκα ἡ αρ’ ἐκείνοις περὶ τῆς ἀρχῆς
µανίαν καὶ ἀλληλοσφαγίαν, ὥστε τέκνα κατὰ ἅµιλλα τὸν ἐµφύλιον Χριστιανοῖς ἀνερρίπισε
γονέων καὶ ἀδελφοὺς κατὰ ἀδελφῶν πόλεµον. οἷα γὰρ καὶ ὅσα συµβαίνειν τοῖς
συγκινεῖσθαι ἀφειδῶς εἰς σφαγήν, καὶ ἀνηλεῶς τοιούτοις εἴωθε τὰ δεινότατα, ὡς καὶ τὴν φύσιν
ἐµπυρίζειν τὰς ἀλλήλοις ὑπαρχούσας στάσεις ἑαυτὴν ἐπιλανθάνεσθαι καὶ καθ’ ἑαυτῆς
τε καὶ οἰκίας. ἵστασθαι (καὶ τί γὰρ δεῖ τἆλλα λέγειν;),
πολλοὺς ἂν ἐν πείρᾳ καθεστηκέναι.
The Devil, instigator of evil, stirred up such From this point on, the Roman empire was in fury and mutual slaughter among Christians extreme distress when their struggle for rule that children mercilessly killed their fathers aroused a civil war among Christians. The
and brothers mercilessly killed their brothers, most dreadful things, which usually happen pitilessly setting fire to their quarrels with one under such circumstances, when nature forgets another and burning each other's homes. itself and opposes itself (what more need be
said?), are known to many from experience.
Treadgold has suggested that both Nikephoros and Theophanes have reworked Thucydides
3.84.2, where the historian discusses how human nature is wont to commit acts of injustice and show intemperance (καὶ τῶν νόµων κρατήσασα ἡ ἀνθρωπεία φύσις, εἰωθυῖα καὶ παρὰ τοὺς
νόµους ἀδικεῖν, ἀσµένη ἐδήλωσεν ἀκρατὴς µὲν ὀργῆς οὖσα, κρείσσων δὲ τοῦ δικαίου, πολεµία
δὲ τοῦ προύχοντος). Nikephoros does not visibly echo Thucydides, but the spirit of both passages is similar as well as the technique of personifying nature. However, the absence of such reflections in Theophanes points to the fact that they might not have been there in the original source. They may instead reflect Nikephoros' own gloss on events. In any case, personifications of nature and discussions of how it is wont to act are not limited to Thucydides. They appear throughout Greek literature in authors such as Aristotle and John Chrysostom.472 Thus, this
Thucydidean parallel is inconclusive.
The lost source's plague narrative similarly does not offer any conclusive Thucydidean parallels.
There are no ideas or vocabulary lifted from Thucydides in any of the extant adaptations. The closest parallel with Thucydides concerns the inability of the beasts of burden to carry away
472 Aristotle, On the birth of animals, 744b; Aristotle, On the parts of animals, 659a, 683a; Aristotle, Problems, 896b; Plutarch, Convivial Questions, 635D; John Chrysostom, To Theodore 1.16; Against those with suspect cohabitatants 11. This is by no means a complete listing. For further detail, a TLG search for the terms φυσ- and ειωθ- will turn up further results. 162
cartloads of dead bodies (Nikephoros, Short History 67: τῶν ὑποζυγίων αὐτοῖς µὴ ἐπαρκεῖν ἔτι
δυναµένων; Nikephoros Third Antirrhetikos 496B: καὶ ὅσους ἄν οἱ ἀχθοφοροῦντες ἐκκοµίζειν
ἠδύναντο). This may resemble Thucydides' statement about how doctors did not suffice to deal with the plague (Thuc. 47.4: οὔτε γὰρ ἰατροὶ ἤρκουν τὸ πρῶτον…), but it is hard to say because plagues by their very nature force humanity to come to terms with its inability cope with massive and sudden change. Similarly, a statement on the inability of the pack animals to carry away the dead bodies is missing in Theophanes and the Great Chronography (Theophanes 423: ἐπενοήθη
διὰ ζώων σαγµατουµένων ὑποτετρακανθήλους σανίδας ἐπιτίθειν, καὶ οὕτως ἐκφέρειν τοὺς
νεκρούς; Great Chronography 17: καὶ τοσοῦτον πλῆθος ἐκ τοῦ τοιούτου νοσήµατος γέγονεν ὑπὸ
θάνατον ὡς τοῖς ἀλόγοις ζώοις σανίδας ἐπιστρωννυµένους ἐπιφορτίζεσθαι τοὺς νεκρούς,
κοπιώντων δὲ τῶν ἡµιόνων καὶ ἁµάξας ἐπιφορτίζεσθαι καὶ οὕτω ἀπάγεσθαι). Thus, it is hard to tell what Nikephoros has supplied and what was there in the original.
In contrast, the author whose influence is patent on these three separate plague scenes is
Prokopios. Nikephoros' account of the plague in his Short History begins with a statement that the plague nearly destroyed all of humanity (67: ... τὸ φθοροποιὸν ἐπεφύετο πάθος, ἅπαν
ἀνθρώπων γένος ἐπινεµόµενον διώλλυέ τε καὶ ἄρδην ἐξηφάνιζε), which paraphrases Prokopios
(2.22.1: λοιµὸς γέγονεν, ἐξ οὗ δὴ ἅπαντα ὀλίγου ἐδέησε τὰ ἀνθρώπεια ἐξίτηλα εἶναι). Similarly, both Theophanes and Nikephoros' description of plague victims' demonic visions closely follows
Prokopios 2.22.10-3, where demons converse with victims and appear to strike at individuals.473
Judging from Nikephoros' Antirrhetikos, the lost source may have even further dramatized
Prokopios' demons in emulation with his model. In Prokopios, demons predict to plague victims
473 Theophanes, Chronography, 423; Nikephoros, Short History 67. Cf. Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.10-1. 163
that they will number among the dead (2.22.13: ἢ λόγου ἀκούειν προλέγοντος σφίσιν ὅτι δὴ ἐς
τῶν τεθνηξοµένων τὸν ἀριθµὸν ἀνάγραπτοι εἶεν), whereas Nikephoros' demons have chillingly been transformed into seers of death. They foretell the number of those who will die to plague victims (416 D: ἀριθµὸς τῶν ὅσον οὔπω τεθνηξοµένων ἐξηκούετο). More broadly speaking, the lost source's description of overflowing corpses and the difficulties that people faced in finding places to bury them is very much Prokopian. Prokopios describes at length how people dug mass graves in fields near the city and even filled up towers on the city walls with corpses, since the existing cemeteries could not handle the corpses.474 The lost source has changed the specifics of what overflow burial-sites were used (empty cisterns, gardens, and groves), but his Prokopian model is evident, as information on burial sites is not something that Thucydides provides.475
Of course, one of the struggles of dealing with this plague scene is that it is hard to say how
Nikephoros, Theophanes, and the Great Chronography distort the original lost source. How much explicitly Prokopian material was in the original? Was Nikephoros' reworking of
Prokopios 2.22.13 on the number of those who would die in his third Antirrhetikos there in the original, since it is absent in both his history and Theophanes?476 We can never know for certain unless the original source is rediscovered. But if Nikephoros did elaborate upon the lost source, as he most certainly did, then this choice is telling of the times. When Nikephoros read the lost source, his mind went to Prokopios, rather than Thucydides, to embellish his narrative.
Throughout antiquity, Thucydides was the gold standard for plague, but Nikephoros and his
474 Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.23.6-11. 475 Theophanes, Chronography, 423; Nikephoros, Short History 67; Great Chronography 17. 476 Similarly, Nikephoros uses Prokopios' expression for the onset of buboes in his Refutation 23: βουβὼν ἐπῆρτο, καὶ θάνατος αὐτίκα παρῆκτο. Cf. Prokopios, History of the Wars 2.22.17: ἑτέροις δὲ οὐ πολλαῖς ὕστερον βουβὼν ἐπῆρτο. 164
original source turned to Prokopios instead.477 Thus, whether one believes that all of the parallels
I have assembled between Prokopios and the original source were there in the original, or not,
Prokopios had clearly replaced Thucydides as a model for the most commonly imitated
Thucydidean scene in the Greek historical tradition during the latter half of the eighth century
A.D., a fact which is remarkable given scholars' traditional assessments of Byzantine literary conservatism.
As we have seen, Thucydides' siege of Plataia was also widely imitated throughout antiquity. But in middle Byzantium, it fell into disuse along with Thucydides in favor of other models. In this regard, Leo the Deacon's History is particularly illustrative. His History covers the years from
959 to 976, describing in particular detail the victorious wars of the emperors Nikephoros Phokas
(963-9) and John Tzimiskes (969-976). Writing in the tradition of Byzantine classicizing historians, Leo recounts the reconquest of Crete, Cilicia, Syria, and the Balkans. His work lacks a full scholarly study, but the translators of his History note that his chief models included
Prokopios and Agathias. He may also have used Thucydides.478 But on closer examination, his use of Thucydides is probably illusory. The only Thucydidean citation suggested in the text's index locorum is the phrase συµφοραῖς ἀνηκέστοις from 18.104.22.1689 A TLG search reveals that the phrase was relatively common in Greek prose, appearing in Attic orators, ancient historians, the Septuagint, the Church Fathers, and even Agathias himself.480 Thus, it seems more likely that
Leo picked the phrase up from either Agathias or his general reading.
477 See n. 19 above. 478 Alice-Mary Maffry Talbot, The History of Leo the Deacon: Byzantine Military Expansion in the Tenth Century (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2005), 23.. 479 Leo the Deacon, History 10.3 (p. 164) cf. Thuc. 5.111.3. 480 Agathias, Histories 2.1.11. 165
On an imitative level, Leo's history also demonstrates the shift away from the Thucydidean model. For example, his preface, an area where late antique imitators frequently drew upon
Thucydides, is largely modeled on Agathias and in part on Prokopios.481 Leo also stays away from the Thucydidean model of a siege. In Book 2 of his history, he describes the Byzantine siege of Chandax (mod. Heraklion) in 960-1, the capital of the Arab emirate of Crete. This momentous siege, which ended in the reconquest of Crete, was understandably chosen for rhetorical elaboration and ekphrasis by Leo. But the model to which he turned was again
Agathias and not Thucydides, even though the siege of Chandax could have offered a
Thucydidean imitator ample opportunities. For example, Leo briefly pauses to describe a battering ram employed by the Byzantines to strike the walls of the city (κριὸν Ῥωµαῖοι τὸ
τεχνούργηµα ὀνοµάζουσι, τῷ δίκην κριοῦ προτοµῆς τὸν σίδηρον ἀπεικάζεσθαι, ὃς
ἐνηρµοσµένος ὢν τῇ δοκῷ παίει τὸν δόµον τοῦ ἄστεος).482 As battering rams were often covered with animals hides to prevent defenders from raining flaming arrows down upon the men driving the siege engine, a Thucydidean historian could easily have incorporated Thucydides into his description of the ram. As we have seen above, Priskos did just that describing the Huns' battering ram at the siege of Naissos.483 But Plataia also could have offered other parallels to
Leo. A part of the siege of Chandax included efforts to undermine the fortifications of the city by digging tunnels beneath them and then setting them afire to destabilize the city's towers. If Leo had thought Thucydides worthy of imitation, he might have modeled the undermining of the city
481 Talbot, The History of Leo the Deacon, 10. For Prokopios, Leo the Deacon, History 1.1 (p. 5). Cf. Prokopios, History of the Wars 1.1.14. 482 Leo the Deacon, History 2.7. 483 See section 2 above. 166
on the Plataians' removal of earth from the Spartan embankment and even the Spartans' attempts to set fire to Plataia. But instead, Leo turned to Agathias' description of mining operations at
Cumae in Italy during 552-3, lifting whole lines from it.484
This is only a cursory view of later Byzantine historical imitation, but clearly Thucydides had lost his place as the de facto historical model among middle Byzantine historians. This begs the question why Thucydides was abandoned. We will never know for certain because Byzantine historians rarely discuss why they chose to imitate a specific historian. But the study of the rhetorical tradition may offer some potential answers. In late antiquity, rhetors had read the historian with their students, employing him to teach a wide range of rhetorical concepts through the progymnasmata and issue theory. But after the seventh century, Thucydides became more of an esoteric text read only by teachers of rhetoric and overachieving students. The classroom texts employed by rhetors also seem to have shifted away from the historian in favor of other more recent authors such as Gregory Nazianzos.485
In consequence, Byzantine students trained in rhetoric would have emerged from school with a different cultural literacy than their late antique predecessors. Both were trained in similar rhetorical systems, but the texts used by Byzantine teachers altered what their students could easily draw upon later in life. As we have seen throughout this chapter, students in Late
Antiquity often returned to and imitated Thucydidean passages which they had studied in school.
In contrast, the average Byzantine student simply would not have commanded the same
484 Leo the Deacon, History 2.7. Cf. Agathias, Histories 1.10. 485 See Kennedy, “The Decline and Fall of Thucydides in Middle Byzantium,” forthcoming. 167
repertoire of Thucydidean scenes. They may not have even read a secular historian in the classroom! Furthermore, if the Byzantines' dislike of Thucydides' style was widespread, they may not have even thought he was worth imitating on a textual level. This is not to say that
Byzantines writing history totally neglected Thucydides, since he was canonical to history as a genre, but they did not reshape him to fit their present circumstances. Instead, students were no longer be equipped with Thucydidean goggles through which to see the world; they imitated ancient historians such as Plutarch and Polybios as well as more recent historians such as
Prokopios and Agathias.
6. Concluding Remarks
When comparing modern and ancient historiographical practices in his magisterial study
Rhetoric in Classical Historiography, A. J. Woodman remarked, "it is interesting to note that modern economic or sociological historians, if they are concerned with investigating aspects of a society for which there is little or no hard evidence, will often appeal to certain ‘models’ which are partly based on the evidence of other known societies and are partly theoretical. There is thus a sense in which ancient historiography resembles certain forms of modern historiography, since the ancients had their rhetorical models which were based partly on existing cases in historical and other writing and partly on the theoretical works of authors such as Cicero himself."486 As we have seen throughout this chapter, this observation was generally true for ancient imitators of
Thucydides. After learning to evaluate Thucydides' strengths and weaknesses in schools, imitators often used Thucydides as a prototype for what a plague, siege, or battle looked like.
486 Woodman, Rhetoric, 88. 168
When the fog of confusion fell upon later historians' memories or sources, Thucydides could illuminate the way, providing the framework through which authors and their audiences understood this phenomenon. Put differently, Thucydides provided the narrative code with which to make sense of an event. By teaching their students the meaning of Thucydides, rhetors fundamentally created and propagated this model, making their students fluent readers and writers of this intertextual code. By overlooking ancient and Byzantine scholarship, scholars have denied themselves a valuable tool for understanding how Thucydidean intertextuality and imitation shaped the biases of readers and historians.
Modern studies of imitation have often reaffirmed the historicity of scenes modeled on
Thucydides. But as this study shows, this conclusion needs to be qualified, as imitators employed a range of imitative techniques ranging from boilerplate imitation to Prokopios’ elaboration- emulation of Thucydides. Nevertheless, while acknowledging imitation's positives and negatives, it would be a shame to overlook the creativity and originality of imitation. Historians such as
Josephos, Prokopios, and Agathias pushed the boundaries of imitation. Through their original engagement with Thucydides, they produced influential histories that even surpassed Thucydides as the de facto historical model during the middle Byzantine period. Later intellectuals eventually returned to Thucydides, but for almost 1,500 years Thucydides played a critical and creative role in the creation of Roman historical writing.
Chapter 4: Thucydidean Speeches
In the previous chapter, we discussed how rhetorical practice and classroom study shaped later historians' portrayal of events in a Thucydidean fashion. It is now time to turn to that aspect of historical writing for which students' rhetorical training inherently prepared them: writing speeches. Thucydides' speeches figured prominently throughout a student's training. They were memorized, analyzed through formal rubrics, criticized, and ultimately imitated in exercises such as declamation. Just as these rhetorical practices left their mark on how historians wrote about events, so too did they influence how they wrote narrated speeches, as historians sought to correct and surpass Thucydides. This chapter will illuminate how subtly bound up in rhetorical practice the imitation of Thucydidean speeches was. The rhetorical tradition often required cleansing Thucydides of his perceived faults as a rhetor, but it was no straight jacket. Working within this tradition and its constraints, historians played creatively with the tools of their training to entertain, persuade, manipulate, and convey hidden truths to their audience.
1. Declamation and historical speeches
First, it is important to convey how deeply bound up in declamation and rhetorical practice ancient historical writing actually was. In a previous chapter, we showed how declamation
essentially prepared students to write speeches, honing their skills in impersonation and historical research.487 The process ultimately prepared students to step into a time and place, producing full arguments based on the evidence, whether extensive or slight, that was preserved in the historical sources.
But in the historiographical literature, one finds only very limited or scattered references to the practice of declamation. Scholars of poetry and even the novel have noted the influence of the rhetorical phenomenon on their respective genres.488 But for the historian, ‘declamation’ and the
‘rhetorical exercise’ often carry a negative connotation, as declamation and truth have often been opposed to one another. For example, Charles Fornara in The Nature of History in Ancient
Greece and Rome, distinguishes between two major traditions of writing historical speeches.
First, there is the Thucydidean tradition which seeks to faithfully report the sense of what was said, as represented by authors such as Tacitus. Then there are the declaimers “to whom history was a secondary interest.”489 Their main concerns were either the exploration of moral/philosophical themes or the demonstration of rhetorical skill, as best exemplified by
Curtius Rufus, who “was content to embellish whatever lay at hand.”490 Scholars have similarly brushed aside speeches in a historian of no small merit such as Prokopios by labeling them
'declamations' or 'rhetorical games' as if declamation and historical speeches were simply games
487 See chapter 2. 488 Stanley F. Bonner, “Lucan and the Declamation Schools,” The American Journal of Philology 87, no. 3 (1966): 257–89; Ruth Webb, “Rhetoric and the Novel: Sex, Lies, and Sophistic,” in A Companion to Greek Rhetoric, ed. Ian Worthington (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 526–41; Regla Fernández-Garrido, “Stasis-Theory in Judicial Speeches of Greek Novels,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 49 (2009): 453–72. 489 Charles William Fornara, The Nature of History in Ancient Greece and Rome (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 153. 490 Fornara, 152. 171
or shows of eloquence.491 In a markedly less hostile way, Craig Gibson, a scholar of classical rhetoric, admits finding it difficult to reconcile declamation and history, given declamation's perceived lack of concern for the truth.492 There seems to be a collective fear that speeches that too closely resemble declamations are simply false or uninteresting shows of rhetorical prowess.
Perhaps we can overcome our collective bias against declamation. Besides, historians have long given up the hope that any ancient historian with the possible exception of Thucydides provides a completely reliable account of what was said on a particular occasion.493 As Lucian poignantly noted, speeches were a historian’s opportunity to showcase his rhetorical talents, provided the speech suited the subject matter and speaker.494 There was indubitably a core of truth in a speech just like in a declamation, but that varied depending on the historian. For example, Dionysios of
Halikarnassos, as described below, could invent a whole series of speeches based on the premise that a specific dialogue must have occurred on a given occasion even if there was no record of it in his sources. On the other hand, the historian might work up an already existing speech like a declaimer recasting a speech previously recorded in Thucydides.495 For instance, in his Annals
(11.24) Tacitus reworked Claudius' oration in favor of allowing Gallic elites into the senate, which survives on the Lyons tablet (ILS 212): the historian kept some of Claudius’ original
491 Denis Roques, “Histoire et rhétorique dans l’oeuvre de Procope de Césarée: Procope est-il historien?,” in Categorie linguistiche e concettuali delle storiografia Bizantina, ed. Ugo Criscuolo and Roberto Maisano (Naples: M. D’Auria editore, 2000), 24; Braun, Procopius Caesariensis, 22. 492 Gibson, “Learning Greek History,” 105. 493 Marincola, “Speeches”; Fornara, The Nature, 147–54; Cecil Wooten, “The Speeches in Polybius: An Insight into the Nature of Hellenistic Oratory,” The American Journal of Philology 95 (1974): 235–51; Frank Walbank, Speeches in Greek Historians (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965). 494 Lucian, On how to write history 58. 495 For an in depth view of this process, see my treatment of Nikephoros Gregoras in chapter 2.3c. 172
arguments, while jettisoning others.496 But overall there was no expectation that the historian would try to represent the Thucydidean “general sense of what was said” on an occasion. He was free to invent new arguments or rework old ones, provided they matched the persons and circumstances involved. Indeed, if ancient historians took their cue from Thucydides on how to write speeches, the scholia's commentary on his much debated methodological section (1.21-22) is indicative of their approach to speech-writing:
χαλεπὸν κτἑ.: ἐπιτηδείως τὴν ἄγνοιαν προφασίζεται, ἵνα χρήσηται τοῖς οἰκείοις
It was difficult: He carefully pleads ignorance so that he can use his own
Here Thucydides claims to represent the general sense of what was said while acknowledging that he could not always access the exact words, so he has taken the liberty of presenting arguments appropriate to the persons and circumstances. Modern scholars have endlessly discussed this passage, debating how much of what was actually said Thucydides reproduces and how much he invents.498 Ancient readers, however, were not so anxious about Thucydides' claims. Rather, they saw his preface as a rhetorical posture, granting him a carte blanche to use
496 Roger Brock, “Versions, ‘Inversions’ and Evasions: Classical Historiography and the ‘Published’’’ Speech,’” Papers of the Liverpool Latin Seminar 8 (1995): 210–12. 497 Scholia to Thucydides 1.22.1. 498 Among Thucydidean scholars, the question of Thucydides' truthfulness has raged back and forth. See for example, Christopher Pelling, “Thucydides’ Speeches,” ed. Jeffrey Rusten (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 182; Emily Greenwood, Thucydides and the Shaping of History. (London: Bloomsbury, 2006), chap. 4; Hornblower, Thucydides, chap. 3; Marincola, “Speeches,” 121–22. 173
his own ideas, provided – just as he said – that his words matched the circumstances and persons involved. Unsurprisingly, later historians trained in this same rhetorical theory adopted this approach and followed these 'rules.'
So why do we fear the connection of declamation and history? No one today would expect to find a reliable transcript of what was said on any occasion in an ancient historian. Declaimers just like historians tried to represent the truth as best they could in a historical speech. For example, the Hermogenean commentators Syrianos and Markellinos were emphatic that the declaimer should get all the historical details right in a declamation.499 It is therefore unreasonable for scholars to fear the connections between declamation and history. The two were intimately connected; in some circles, Thucydides was even considered a fellow declaimer, in fact one who was guilty of misrepresenting the persons and circumstances he presents.500 No historian from Polybios to Byzantium was untouched by declamation in some way. Thus, if we do not study the connections between declamation and history, we lose something of the cultural and intellectual context in which history was written and performed.
Declamation and historiography often went hand in hand. Take for example Sallust. In his history of Rome, the second-century AD historian Granius Licinianus avers that he will not use
Sallust as a source, “because Sallust, so they say, should not be read as a historian but rather an orator.”501 While modern scholars might dispute Granius’ classification of Sallust, his comments tell us a great deal about Sallust’s reception. After their publication, Sallust's historical works
499 See chapter 2.1. 500 See chapter 1.3a. 501 Granius Licinianus, History of Rome 36.30. 174
quickly became the Latin world’s Thucydides,502 entering rhetorical schools by the time of
Quintilian in the late first century A.D., if not sooner.503 His historical works were studied for their speeches and style. For example, the fourth-century rhetorician Julius Victor holds up the debate between Caesar and Cato (Catiline War 50-3) as an example of the status negotialis, that is a deliberative issue in the terminology of Latin issue theory.504 Perhaps the most convincing proof of his influence on the Roman educational system is the select survival of his Histories, of which practically only speeches and letters survive.505
Sallust is perhaps a unique case. Most historians probably did not expect their histories to enter the educational system as a sample for declamations or speeches as did Sallust or Thucydides; nevertheless, a number engaged in declamation throughout their histories. For historians writing on periods that had been incorporated into the ancient schools such as the early Republic or the age of Alexander, one suspects that declamation played a role in which speeches a historian chose to work up. For example, Cassius Dio includes a lengthy speech by Julius Caesar at
Vesontio (38.36-47), rebuking his soldiers for fearing to advance against the Germans of
Ariovistus. The speech is modeled after Perikles' final speech (Thuc. 2.60-4), in which the
Athenian politician like Caesar rebuked his men and restored their spirit after defeat.506 Now,
502 Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 10.1.101, proposes that Sallust is a match for Thucydides. 503 The reception of Sallust in the ancient world has not been satisfactorily studied. For some promising beginnings, see Ezio Bolaffi, Sallustio e la sua fortuna nei secoli. (Roma: Perrella, 1949); Antonio La Penna, “Congetture sulla fortuna di Sallustio nell’antichità,” in Studia Florentina Alexandro Ronconi sexagenario oblata., ed. Alessandro Ronconi (Roma: Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1970), 195–206; R Poignault, ed., Présence de Salluste (Tours: Centre de recherches A. Piganiol, 1997); Robert Ullery and Patricia Osmond, “Sallustius,” in Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum: Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries, Annotated Lists and Guides, ed. James Hankins and Robert A Kaster, vol. 8 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 187–92. 504 Sulpicius Victor, Institutes of Oratory, 379 (ed. Halm). 505 Ullery and Osmond, “Sallustius,” 190. 506 Litsch, De Cassio Dione, 35-7. 175
Julius Caesar's commentaries, on which Dio seems to have drawn,507 include this speech in indirect discourse (Gallic Wars 1.40). It is entirely plausible that Dio chose this speech for lengthy elaboration because Caesar includes a speech here. But if this was true, why did he not work up other, similar speeches in the Gallic Wars? For example, Caesar again rebukes his troops for their avarice and rashness after the battle of Gergovia in 52 B.C. (Gallic Wars 7.52).
This speech could have offered a similar opportunity for introducing a Periklean rebuke of the
Romans. But Dio completely abbreviates events here, rushing past this speech.508 Perhaps, Dio chose the Vesontio address because it was the first major speech of the Gallic Wars. But another potential reason is that it offered Dio the opportunity to present his own version of a common
Latin declamation theme. In Latin schools, Julius Caesar figured prominently in historical declamations (controversiae) as early as Seneca the Elder (d. ca. 39 A.D.).509 At the end of the first century, Caesar's speech at Vesontio was even regarded as a potential declamation theme for
Quintilian.510 Thus, Cassius Dio, the bilingual rhetoricizing historian, for whom rhetoric was ever important,511 probably selected this moment for a speech precisely because the theme was already popular in declamation. It would have enabled Dio to demonstrate his rhetorical prowess to an audience of readers trained in declamation. This is not to say that Dio did not have a larger
507 Whether Dio actually drew on Caesar is uncertain. Giuseppe Zecchini, Cassio Dione e La Guerra Gallica Di Cesare (Milan: Università Cattolica, 1978), 15–108, argues strongly against Dio borrowing directly from Caesar. But as C. B. R. Pelling, “Cassius Dio - Zecchini Giuseppe: Cassio Dione e La Guerra Gallica Di Cesare. (Vita e Pensiero.) Pp. 241. Milan: Università Cattolica, 1978. Paper, L. 14,500.,” The Classical Review 32, no. 2 (October 1982): 146–48., points out, Zecchini overlooks Dio's own reinterpretation of sources. For an overview of the parallels between Caesar and Dio, see Guy Lachenaud, ed., Dion Cassius. Histoire romaine. Livres 36, 37, 38, trans. Marianne Coudry (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2011), xiv–xvii. 508 Cassius Dio, Roman History 40.36. 509 Seneca, Controversiae 10.3.5. For further uses of Caesar in Seneca, see Mark Toher, “Augustan and Tiberian Literature,” in A Companion to Julius Caesar, ed. Miriam Griffin (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 237.See also Kohl, De scholasticarum declamationum, 102–3. 510 Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 3.8.19. 511 Fergus Millar, A Study of Cassius Dio (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), 42–44. 176
historiographical agenda. For example, Andrew Kemezis has recently shown how Dio deploys
Caesar to show that the Republic went astray through its collusive mendacity about past precedents.512 But Dio was working within both history and declamation by adopting a theme, which his audience might have have seen performed before or even tried their hand at. There is no doubt a web of meaning lost on us because of how few Latin historical declamations survive.
2. Rhetoric and intertextuality
Some webs of meaning created by the rhetorical tradition are not lost, but rather harder to see.
Imitators of Thucydides encoded their imitations through the theoretical lens of classical rhetoric, and so the intertextual links they detected are not always evident. As we discussed in chapter 1, ancient rhetors read Thucydides to learn deliberative oratory. Ancient commentaries on Thucydides and the surviving scholia show how an ancient reader might have divided
Thucydides up into deliberative headings such as Justice, Advantage, and Feasibility. While engaged in this process, rhetors naturally began to see argumentative patterns emerge in
Thucydides and his perceived imitators. For example, Ulpian, the author of an introduction to
Demosthenes and possibly the teacher of Libanios (c. 314-393/3),513 highlights some of the links between Demosthenes and Thucydides in his introduction to Demosthenes' Phillipics and
Olynthiacs. But rather than focusing as modern scholars do on similar ideas or turns of phrase,
Ulpian instead sees similar headings as the intertextual link between the two. He notes, for example, that Demosthenes' Olynthiacs are like Thucydides' speeches of the Kerkyreans (1.32-6)
512 Adam Kemezis, “Dio, Caesar and the Vesontio Mutineers (38.34–47): A Rhetoric of Lies,” in Cassius Dio: Greek Intellectual and Roman Politician (Brill, 2016), 238–57. 513 On Ulpian, see Malcolm Heath, Menander: A Rhetor in Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 81– 82. 177
and Mityleneans (3.9-14) in that they construct the heading Advantage with the interests of the audience in mind rather the speaker.514 He also notes the similarity between Thucydides and
Demosthenes in regard to the heading Feasibility, as both deploy the heading quite frequently.515
Now someone might say, "Why should we study these rhetorical readings of Demosthenes and
Thucydides from a bygone interpretive community that was less interested in history and more in composition? We are more than capable of analyzing these texts and exploring the intertextual links between these two authors in light of modern critical practices." If the relationship of
Thucydides to Demosthenes were our object of study, I would generally concur with this objection. However, Ulpian and his fellow rhetors taught people to write, and the fact that they saw these connections matters for understanding later authors’ imitation of their models. After all, when rhetors trained their students to imitate an author such as Thucydides or Demosthenes, imitating their headings was a valid way to pay homage to them. For example, Sopatros' Division of Questions, a fourth-century handbook on declamation, encourages students to appropriate headings from Thucydides’ speech of the Corinthians at Sparta (1.68-70) when crafting their response to a Peloponnesian War theme.516 That this practice endured beyond the classroom is evident from M. Cornelius Fronto’s letter to Marcus Aurelius. Writing to his former student,
Fronto informs the emperor that he is sending him Cicero's oration On the Command of Pompey
514 Ulpian, Commentary to the First Olynthiac, 1-2. 515 Ulpian, Commentary to the First Olynthiac, 7. The scholia to Thucydides frequently note feasibility as a heading. See 1.80.3; 1.141.2 (See John Enoch Powell, “The Bâle and Leyden Scholia to Thucydides,” Classical Quarterly 30 (1936): 84.); 4.10; 4.59.1; 4.93; Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 183, admires Thucydides' extraordinary use of feasibility in the context of the Corinthians' oration at Sparta (1.68-71). By unfavorably comparing the Spartans with the Athenians, the Corinthians pushed the Spartans to make war. Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 182-3 also explains its use in Perikles' first speech (1.140-4). 516 Sopatros, Analysis of Themes 26. For an extended treatment of this passage, see chapter 2. 178
in the hopes that Marcus Aurelius may find useful headings (capita) in the speech for his own counsels and deliberations.517
When writing history, historians naturally continued this scholastic practice. Take for example,
Livy’s imitation of Thucydides' Kerkyrean debate (1.32-36) at the outbreak of the First Samnite
War (343-341 B.C.).518 Threatened by the Samnites, the people of Campania sent legates to
Rome to ask for aid. Struck by this parallel situation, Livy's rendition of the Campanians' words
(7.30) draws heavily on the Kerkyreans' arguments.519 Like the Kerkyreans, the Campanians appeal to Justice, pointing out that the Romans’ treaty with Samnium does not prevent them from making an alliance with the Campanians.520 Appealing to the Romans' self interest, the
Campanians employ Feasibility, just like the Kerkyreans, to show how advantageous their city's acquisition could be to Rome, given the fertility, dense population, and strategic location of
Campania.521 But above all, the Campanians appeal to the advantage of an alliance. And like
Thucydides' Kerkyreans, they make necessary the alliance by framing the situation as a zero-sum game. Rome must act in its best interests and ensure that this valuable region becomes its friend rather than its enemy under Samnite rule.522
517 Fronto, To Marcus Aurelius 225. The passage in question is treated by Michael van den Hout, A Commentary on the Letters of M. Cornelius Fronto (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 507–8. 518 On the First Samnite War, see Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 281–88.. 519 For a list of the parallels, see Eduard Zarncke, Der Einfluss Der Griechischen Litteratur Auf Die Entwicklung Der Römischen Prosa, (Leipzig, 1888), 301–3; S. P Oakley, A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 293–302.. 520 Livy, History of Rome 7.30.4. Cf. Thuc. 1.35.2. 521 Livy, History of Rome 7.30.6-7. Cf. Thuc. 1.33.2. 522 Livy, History of Rome 7.30.9. Cf. Thuc. 1.33.3-4. 179
With its heavy focus on Rome's self interest, Livy's speech draws upon Thucydides' Kerkyrean debate. Among ancient readers just as modern, the Kerkyrean debate was well known for how its arguments are constructed. The Kerkyreans' appeals to advantage and Athenian self-interest triumph over the Corinthians’ appeals to justice.523 The Athenians, as has been noted, almost always act in their own self-interest in Thucydides, disregarding arguments that appeal to justice, as most prominently displayed in the Melian debate where they force the Melians to frame their argument in terms of advantage and self-interest.524 Ancient readers noticed the same contrast between justice and advantage in Thucydides.525 Thus, when confronted by Livy’s Thucydidean imitation, Livy's ancient readers must have expected Rome to follow in the footsteps of Athens and accede to the Campanians’ request in spite of their alliance with the Samnites, yielding to expediency and self-interest. Livy, however, turns this expectation on its head. Rather than acting in its own best interests, the Roman senate refuses to break its treaty with Samnium, appealing to what is right (par) and just (iustum).526 In this way, Livy upends his readers'
Thucydidean expectations. The interplay of rhetoric and human nature in Thucydides is reversed by Livy in Rome's favor. Where the Athenians had morally stumbled and begun a war for unjust reasons, the early Romans were a shining moral exemplum of how to wage a just war.
3. Thucydidean characterization
523 For ancient readers who saw advantage as the primary theme, see Scholia to Thucydides 1.32.1; Ulpian, Commentary to the First Olynthiac, 1-2. Among modern scholars, see Kennedy, “Focusing of Arguments,” 131; Macleod, “Form and Meaning in the Melian Dialogue”; Cohen, “Justice, Interest, and Political Deliberation in Thucydides”; Hornblower, Thucydides, 47; Hornblower, A commentary on Thucydides, 1:75; Pepe, The Genres of Rhetorical Speeches in Greek and Roman Antiquity, 35. This is by no means a complete listing of all the modern scholarship on this issue. 524 Kennedy, “Focusing of Arguments.” 525 E.g., Scholia to Thucydides 1.32.1, 3.42.1. 526 Livy, History of Rome 7.31.1-2. 180
As described in a previous chapter, characterization played an important role for declaimers. A speech without proper characterization was 'lifeless.'527 Since characterization was such a fundamental practice among rhetoricians and historians, it is not surprising that even Thucydides could be used to characterize a speaker. Obviously, historians often drew upon Thucydides for intertextual connections between two speakers. There are many examples of historians who sought to cast a speaker as a Periclean leader or a Brasidan commander.528 But sometimes
Thucydides could be used in more subtle ways where knowledge of his text characterized a speaker. For example, the Byzantine historian Agathias depicts a council of the Laz people after the Roman commanders stationed among them had murdered their king Goubazes II (ca. 541-
555 A.D.), who was Rome's ally in its war with Persia. Drawing on the Mitylenean debate (3.37-
48), Agathias portrays the Laz as debating whether or not to abandon their alliance with Rome.
He pits a well-educated, demagogic Laz named Aietes in favor of Medizing against a simple uneducated Laz who advocates maintaining their alliance with Rome.529 In this debate, the demagogic Laz is clearly modeled after Cleon. Arising in a rage and speaking “as if he were in a democratic assembly,” Aietes pushes his compatriots to abandon the Romans who are “most audacious toward those who obey and accustomed to show no gratitude toward those who honor them (εἰσὶ γὰρ ἀµέλει θαρραλεώτατοι πρὸς τοὺς ὑπείκοντας καὶ ὑπερφρονεῖν εἰθισµένοι τὸ
θεραπεῦον).”530 These words rework Cleon’s sentiment that man is accustomed to overlook
527 See chapter 2.2. 528 For historians who cast their leader as a Perikles, see for example Dionysios of Halikarnassos and John Kantakouzenos below. For historians who portray a leader as Brasidas, see for example, see Charles Frederick Pazdernik, “Procopius and Thucydides on the Labors of War: Belisarius and Brasidas in the Field,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 130 (2000): 149–87. Diether Roderich Reinsch, “Byzantine Adaptations of Thucydides,” in Brill’s Companion to Thucydides, ed. Antonios Tsakmakis and Antonios Rengakos, 2006, 765–66, discusses the fifteenth century historian Kritoboulos on Mehmed II. 529 Agathias, Histories 3.8-14. 530 Agathias, Histories 3.9.5. 181
those who honor him and admire those who do not yield (πέφυκε γὰρ καὶ ἄλλως ἄνθρωπος τὸ
µὲν θεραπεῦον ὑπερφρονεῖν, τὸ δὲ µὴ ὑπεῖκον θαυµάζειν).531 Throughout this oration, Aietes uses other sentiments borrowed from Perikles’ funeral oration and the Kerkyrean debate. Thus,
Agathias characterizes Aietes as a well-educated speaker capable of quoting and reworking
Thucydides.532 But his representation of the uneducated Laz, the Diodotus in this debate, does not include any Thucydidean allusions. In this way, Agathias demonstrates the select way in which he has deployed Thucydidean allusions to characterize his speaker’s educational level.
Sometimes, however, the historian was humorously self-aware of the limitations of his impersonation. For example, Prokopios models an exchange of Lombard and Gepid envoys before Justinian on the Kerkyrean debate (1.32-43).533 Impersonating barbarians, some might have thought it inappropriate to give them complex speeches replete with allusions to
Thucydides.534 As we discussed in chapter 2.2, some thought that characterizing a barbarian required employing language devoid of abstraction and avoiding long, well-rounded periods.
Prokopios, however, thumbed his nose at potential critics and rhetorical convention when his
Lombard envoy conclude a long, complicated Thucydidean speech with the remark, “Let us then put it thus with barbarian simplicity…”535
4. Declaiming Periklean Athens in Rome: Dionysios of Halikarnassos
531 Thucydides, Histories 3.39.5. 532 Georg Franke, Quaestiones Agathianae, (Wrocław: M. & H. Marcus, 1914), 24–25. 533 The parallels between the two are assembled by Braun, Procopius Caesariensis, 24–25. 534 Certainly, observers have criticized Prokopios for this reason. For example, Braun, 25, notes that Prokopios’ barbarians read their Thucydides too well. 535 Prokopios, History of the Wars 7.34.23. 182
We have illustrated broadly how Thucydides was refracted for later historians through rhetorical practice. In the three case studies that follow, I will demonstrate more closely how historians played with the tools of their training to persuade, manipulate, and reveal hidden truths.
Our first case study will be Dionysios of Halikarnassos' imitation of Thucydides' speeches in his
Roman Antiquities. Known as the rhetorical historian par excellence,536 Dionysios was a teacher of Greek for a number of decades in Augustan Rome while he wrote his Roman Antiquities, a history of Rome from its very beginning until the outbreak of the first Carthaginian War.537
Addressed to an audience of Greek and Roman readers, this history sought to prove that the
Romans were of Greek descent and Greek by culture.538 Long viewed with hostility as a verbose rhetorical historian, the last few decades have seen a boom in studies of Dionysios of
Halikarnassos and his Roman Antiquities that have established his reputation as one of the most methodological and argument-driven historians of antiquity.539 While historians may view
Dionysios' reconstruction of early Rome with suspicion, Dionysios' true value has been shown to lie in what he tells us about the intellectual climate of his day and the process by which Greeks were reconciled to Roman rule under Augustus.540
536 Thus Marincola, “Speeches,” 129. 537 On Dionysios, see Anouk Delcourt, Lecture des Antiquités romaines de Denys d’Halicarnasse: un historien entre deux mondes (Brussels: Classe des Lettres, Académie Royal de Belgique, 2005); Wiater, Ideology; Emilio Gabba, Dionysius and the History of Archaic Rome (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). 538 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities, 1.1.4-5. 539 Clemence Schultze, “Dionysius of Halicarnassus and His Audience,” in Past Perspectives: Studies in Greek and Roman Historical Writing, ed. I. S. Moxon, J. D. Smart, and A. J. Woodman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 128; Clemence Schultze, “Authority, Originality and Competence in the Roman Archaeology of Dionysius of Halicarnassus,” Histos 4 (2000): 45; Gabba, Dionysius, 82.. 540 For an overview of scholarship on Dionysios and the Roman Antiquities, see Delcourt, Lecture, 71–76. Wiater, Ideology, 121–30, heralds a new more sympathetic approach.. 183
In spite of this boom, Dionysios' speeches have suffered from a lack of attention. Writing about a period so remote with later sources, historians have been skeptical of the veracity of Dionysios' speeches or even complained of their frequency, comparing him unfavorably with the brevity of
Livy. As Ogilvie writes concerning Book 3 of the Roman Antiquities, which covers the reigns from Tullus Hostilius to Tarquinius Priscus, Livy can accomplish in one speech what takes
Dionysios seven.541 This view has some validity; speeches comprise about one third of the surviving books of the Roman Antiquities.542 It is easy to pass by his speeches as rhetorical adornments of little historical value and a source of much tedium for the modern reader. As an instructor of rhetoric who spent decades writing the Roman Antiquities, Dionysios' speeches were shaped by his profession as a teacher of rhetoric. As Usher has suggested, Dionysios probably composed a number of speeches for classroom use in order to help students hone their rhetorical skills.543 Roman rhetors such as Quintilian are known to have mined Rome's early past for themes such as "Numa deliberates whether or not to accept kingship when the Romans offered it to him."544 Although we have no evidence of Greek themes on early Roman history, perhaps Dionysios introduced Roman material into his curriculum in order to appeal to Roman students. At any rate, Dionysios' speeches were thoroughly shaped by the practice of declamation. Just as if he was writing a declamation, Dionysios chose the theme of his speech, researched the past setting, and invented arguments befitting the occasion.545 But as a rhetor and historian, Dionysios was not inventing occasions for speeches gratuitously. His speeches, far
541 Ogilvie, A Commentary, 106. In a similar vein, Joseph B. Solodow, “Livy and the Story of Horatius, 1.24-26,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 109 (1979): 251–68. 542 Following Stephen Usher, “The Style of Dionysius of Halicarnassus in the ‘Antiquitates Romanae,’” Aufstieg Und Niedergang Der Römischen Welt 2.30.1 (1982): 833. 543 Usher, 832. 544 Kohl, De scholasticarum declamationum, 90–92. For the Numa theme, see Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 7.1.24. 545 Marincola, “Speeches,” 127. 184
from empty rhetoric, were carefully designed to prove the general theses of Dionysios' history.
Consider the Alban debate in Book 3 of the Roman Antiquities. In Dionysios’ version of Rome’s first civil war, between Rome and its metropolis Alba Longa, king Tullus Hostilius seeks a council with Alba to avoid war. At the council, Fufetius and Hostilius each deliver long
Thucydidean speeches about why their state should prevail. Livy's version of events conspicuously lacks this war council. But rather than reading Dionysios' speeches as simply rhetorical adornment, a more profitable way to read them is as dialectical proof of Dionysios' theses, anticipating and forestalling potential readers’ objections to Dionysios’ historical agenda.
As stated above, the central tenet of all Dionysios’ history is that that the Romans were actually
Greek in both origin and character.546 As Dionysios notes in his preface to the history, his contemporary Greeks knew almost nothing about Rome’s ancient history, believing that the
Romans were barbarians who had conquered the world through the unjust workings of fortune rather than their piety, justice, and other virtues. Some had even gone so far as to reprimand fortune for delivering the Greeks into the hands of these most wicked barbarians.547 Dionysios therefore seeks to prove by what practices and virtues the Romans as Greeks obtained world dominance and to instruct the Greeks why they should not feel indignation at Roman rule.548
546 Dionysios' historical project has been amply explored by Gabba, Dionysius, 60–90; Schultze, “Dionysius of Halicarnassus and His Audience”; Delcourt, Lecture, 81–218; Matthew Fox, Roman Historical Myths: The Regal Period in Augustan Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), chap. 2. 547 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 1.4.2-3. 548 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 1.5. 185
The speeches of Mettius Fufetius and Tullus Hostilius revolve around these very issues, working out potential questions raised by Dionysios' thesis.549 In Dionysios’ first book, he lays out a tour de force argument based on historical, mythical, and material evidence that the Romans’ ancestors were in fact Greeks. As this book was written and circulated before the other books of the Roman Antiquities, the historian must have encountered a number of questions and objections from his readers.550 When Dionysios explains Rome's special constitution whereby Romulus welcomed people from all over to settle the newly founded city, some must have doubted that the
Romans were in fact Greeks, or long remained so. Perhaps the Romans were ethnically Greek at the start, but the influx of barbarians must have debased the city and its mores. Alternatively, one may have granted that Romans were Greeks, but wondered: if this is the case, why should proud
Greece, the alleged motherland of Italy, submit to its 'colony'?
Fufetius' speech in defense of the superior Hellenicity of Alba Longa acts as a mouthpiece for these potential objections. Fufetius questions why Greeks should submit to Rome if there is a natural law that parents should rule their children.551 Why submit if Rome debased its original
Greek stock with an influx of "Etruscans, Sabines, and other hearthless, vagabond, and most numerous barbarians"?552 Submission would be tantamount to the bastard ruling over the legitimate, the barbarian over the Greek, the immigrant over the native-born.553 Indeed, one cannot help hearing the complaints of Dionysios's contemporary Greeks when Fufetius points
549 Fox, Roman Historical Myths, 82, sees this speech as emblematic of Rome’s relationship with its Greek subjects. 550 On Book 1 circulating before the others, see Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 7.70.2. See also Gabba, Dionysius, 85. 551 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.10.3. 552 Cf. Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 1.89.1. 553 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.10.4-5. 186
out that Rome is still disorganized and unsettled and will be prey to disturbances and civil wars for many years to come.554 After years of Roman rule interspersed by brutal civil war and corruption prior to Augustus, some Greeks must have balked at Roman hegemony.
Dionysios responds to his critics' objections through his mouthpiece, the Roman king Tullus
Hostilius. Addressing the question of Rome’s ethnicity, Dionysios closely frames Rome’s constitution in terms and structures adapted from Perikles’ praise of Athens in his funeral oration. Through implicit and explicit comparison with Athens, Dionysios proves that Rome's
Hellenic character was present at its very beginning and was not diminished by influxes of foreign settlers. Hellenism is more of a mindset than an ethnic heritage. For example, addressing the pesky question of Rome opening itself up to foreign settlers, Dionysios quotes Thucydides nearly verbatim on Athens (3.11.4: ἡµεῖς γὰρ...κοινὴν ἀναδείξαντες τὴν πόλιν τοῖς
βουλοµένοις...).555 But Rome goes even further than Athens, granting participation in its political system. Perikles had restricted participation in Athenian government to men born of Athenian parents and not metics. Rome opened its doors to all.556 Dionysios then explicitly signposts his engagement with Thucydides by noting that Rome imitated Athens' constitution. The sentiment imitates Perikles' dictum that Athens imitated none of its neighbors, while paying homage to the superiority of Athens.557 Like its model, Rome’s system is also a meritocracy, in which virtue, not wealth or nobility, is rewarded with honors.558
554 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.10.6. 555 Cf. Thuc. 2.39.1: τήν τε γὰρ πόλιν κοινὴν παρέχοµεν 556 Delcourt, Lecture, 172–73. 557 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.11. 4. Cf. Thuc. 2.37.1. 558 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.11.5. Cf. Thuc. 2.37.1. 187
Finally, addressing the problematic question of Rome’s proclivity for strife, Dionysios artfully adapts Thucydides for his argument. Although Perikles’ vision of Athens does not incorporate strife as a positive force and Thucydides himself is a textbook on the evils of strife, Dionysios reframes the issue and argues in favor of a notion similar to Hesiod's good strife. "Strife, he says,
"...does not lead to the destruction and belittlement of public affairs, but actually the salvation and increase of them."559 Perikles had held that the Athenians loved beauty without extravagance and philosophized without softness (2.40.1: Φιλοκαλοῦµέν τε γὰρ µετ’ εὐτελείας καὶ
φιλοσοφοῦµεν ἄνευ µαλακίας). Adapting Perikles' words to his purpose, Dionysios says that,
“We strive for honor (φιλοτιµούµεθα), young and old, inhabitants and settlers, seeing who can perform greater good for the community.”560 In this way, Dionysios draws on the structure and ideas of Thucydides to construct a superior, Romanized version of Athens. His opponents may have alleged that Rome’s character was not in fact Hellenic. But through his choice of intertext,
Dionysios refutes this notion, using the comparison with Perikles’ Athens to show the superior
Hellenicity of Rome’s constitution.
5. Thucydidean Propaganda: John Kantakouzenos
Perikles' encomiastic funeral oration was of great use to Dionysios in convincing his fellow
Greeks of the superiority of Rome. But while ancient writers admired this speech, it was not the most commonly imitated speech. Although modern scholarship has largely overlooked Perikles’ final speech (2.60-64) in favor of the funeral oration and the Melian debate,561 his patriotic
559 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.11.8. 560 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 3.11.8: φιλοτιµούµεθα γὰρ οἱ νεώτεροι πρὸς τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους καὶ οἱ ἔποικοι πρὸς τοὺς ἐπικαλεσαµένους, πότεροι πλείονα ποιήσοµεν τὸ κοινὸν ἀγαθά. 561 This speech has not received the same kind of attention as the funeral oration (2.34-46) or the Melian debate (5.85-113). It is very briefly handled by A. Andrewes, “The Melian Dialogue and Perikles’ Last Speech,” The 188
address was widely studied in rhetorical schools and perhaps the most widely imitated speech in all of Thucydides next to the Kerkyrean debate.562 Perikles’ stirring patriotic appeals to continue the war with Sparta and his rebuke of Athenian faintheartedness in the face of war offered ancient readers an important model. However, they believed the speech suffered from a number of egregious flaws. Commentators such as Ailios Aristeides and Dionysios of Halikarnassos had questioned the speech's rhetorical disposition. Even though Thucydides himself says directly after the speech that that only Perikles could get away with challenging and even angering the
Athenians (2.65.8: ἔχων ἐπ’ ἀξιώσει καὶ πρὸς ὀργήν τι ἀντειπεῖν), ancient rhetoricians faulted
Thucydides for giving the Athenian leader such a contrived and messy speech. They felt that
Perikles would not have rebuked the Athenians when they were angry with him. He should rather have mollified their outrage and despair, as every orator knew it does no good to insult an angry crowd. Furthermore, his praise of himself as a shrewd and patriotic politician who was above bribery (2.60.5) had come across in poor taste. What orator ever won over an angry audience by first attacking them and then shamelessly praising himself?563
Not surprisingly, later imitators of this speech were cognizant of these problems and fixed
Thucydides' convoluted rhetoric in their own imitations. They took useful pieces from it and inserted the address in more rhetorically appropriate circumstances. For example, the historians
Cambridge Classical Journal 6 (1960): 1–10. It has not received much attention otherwise: Connor, Thucydides, 69–70 and more recently; Greenwood, Thucydides and the Shaping of History., 69–73. For further, see Hornblower, A commentary on Thucydides, 1:331–40. 562 Hermogenes, On Invention, 143; Hermogenes, On Method, 448; Syrianos, Sopatros and Markellinos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 193, 318, 639. Syrianos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 20; Anonymus, Commentary to Hermogenes (RG 7), 520; Maximos Planoudes, Commentary to Hermogenes, 320-1. Minoukianos, On Epicheiremes, 340. 563 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 43-4; Aristeides, On the Incidental Remark 71-3; Syrianos, Sopatros and Markellinos, Commentary to Hermogenes, 193 (Markellinos). Plutarch, On Praising One's Self, 540C, defends Perikles's self praise as a correct way of defending himself when his reputation was impugned. 189
Josephos, Cassius Dio, and Prokopios transform Perikles’ defense into a conciliatory speech by a commander to his army, avoiding Perikles’ shameless self-glorification.564 While most authors used Perikles’ defense as a military harangue, the Byzantine emperor John Kantakouzenos (r.
1347-1354 A.D.) saw a more devious use for the speech. In his history, which describes the civil wars and reigns of the emperors Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282-1330), Andronikos III
Palaiologos (r. 1330-1341), and himself, Kantakouzenos programmatically employs Thucydides to promote himself as a Periclean leader and emphasize his fitness for the imperial diadem.
Scholars have often rightly read Kantakouzenos's history, which was written in the third-person, as a blatant if occasionally charming work of self-propaganda.565 Reflecting back on his rise to power and tenure as emperor, Kantakouzenos used his history like countless emperors before him as a platform to defend his reputation in the eyes of future Romans. But scholars have not appreciated the more subtle and subliminal ways in which Kantakouzenos crafts his political brand and persuades readers through rhetorical techniques.566 For example, scholars have noted that Kantakouzenos’s distant predecessor Julius Caesar shamelessly promotes his political brand; indeed, his name is on practically every page of the Gallic War and the Civil War.567
Kantakouzenos takes a different tact. He generally refers to himself before becoming emperor as the grand domestikos, the chief of the armed forces. Instead of directly promoting the
Kantakouzenos brand on every page, he encourages the reader to see him as only a servant of the
564 Josephos, Jewish War 1.373-9; Cassius Dio, Roman History 38.35-46; Prokopios, History of the Wars 7.25.4-24. 565 For an overview of this question, see Alexander Kazhdan, “L’histoire de Cantacuzène en tant qu’oeuvre Littéraire,” Byzantion 50 (1980): 281–85; Donald MacGillivray Nicol, The Reluctant Emperor: A Biography of John Cantacuzene, Byzantine Emperor and Monk, c. 1295-1383 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 168– 69. 566 Kazhdan, “L’histoire de Cantacuzène,” is an excellent initial foray. His work, however, has not been continued. 567 William Batstone and Cynthia Damon, Caesar’s Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 144–46. 190
Roman state. Though the grand domestikos is a constant fixture throughout the first two books of his history, it is only in books three and four where Kantakouzenos describes his wars to secure the throne and his reign, that he begins to refer to himself by name. Indeed, his name appears only eight times in the first two books before ballooning into the hundreds in subsequent books.568 Thus, even though Kantakouzenos repeatedly takes center stage in his narrative like
Julius Caesar, his method of self-reference encourages the reader to see Kantakouzenos as a dutiful civil servant and believe that the collective good of Rome took precedence over private, personal interests for Kantakouzenos.
The state of the Roman empire in the early- to mid-fourteenth century was of considerable concern to Kantakouzenos. Under Andronikos II Palaiologos, the empire had suffered a series of catastrophic setbacks. Roman Asia Minor was rapidly collapsing, while in the west an off-and- on-again civil war between the emperors Andronikos II and Andronikos III Palaiologos from
1321 to 1328 split the state and society. Kantakouzenos supported the young Andronikos III, who pushed for a hawkish response to New Rome’s troubles in the face of the passive policies of
Andronikos II and his ministers, who sought to appease Byzantium’s enemies with tribute payments and marriage alliances. In 1323, the tsar of Bulgaria, Michael Šišman (1323-1330) had raided Thrace, and the Romans had been unable to assemble an army to stop them.569 After this humiliation, Andronikos III and his supporters held a council with the old guard of Andronikos
II, arguing for a more martial response to the empire's foes. On this occasion, Kantakouzenos
568 The name Kantakouzenos appears a total of 367 times in Bekker's 3 volume edition. The name appears only 8 times in the first volume, which makes up roughly one third of the total history. 569 For the historical context of this event, see John V. A Fine, The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994), 269–70. 191
directly addressed the council, offering a moving Thucydidean speech in favor of a martial response.570
Throughout his speech, Kantakouzenos masterfully draws on Thucydides to emphasize his overarching concern for the Roman state and his commitment to serve it. He opens his speech with a slightly adapted version of Perikles’s appeal to the Athenians’ pride in their reputation
ἄνδρες συστρατιῶται, ἐν ἴσῳ πάντες ἄνθρωποι δικαιοῦσι τῷ τε τῆς ὑπαρχούσης
δόξης ὑφιεµένῳ µέµφεσθαι διὰ µαλακίαν, καὶ τὸν τῆς µὴ προσηκούσης θρασύτητι
ἐφιέµενον µισεῖν. διὸ καὶ αὐτὸς οὐ τῆς µὴ προσηκούσης ἡµῖν δόξης ἀντέχεσθαι
παρελήλυθα συµβουλεύσων, ἀλλὰ τὴν ὑπὸ τῶν προγόνων εἰς ἡµᾶς ἀγῶσι καὶ
πόνοις διασωθεῖσαν ἀτολµίᾳ τῇ πρὸς τὰ δεινὰ ἐλάσσω µὴ ποιεῖν. µὴ θαυµάσητε
δὲ, εἰ, βασιλεῦσι περὶ τῶν τοιούτων βουλεύεσθαι προσῆκον, αὐτὸς ὑµῖν
προὔθηκα τὴν βουλήν.
My fellow soldiers, all men think it is right to censure anyone who loses his
existing reputation through cowardice and softness, while they hate him who
desires a reputation that does not belong to him. Consequently, I have come to
counsel you not to tolerate a reputation that does not belong to us and not to show
disregard for the reputation preserved by our ancestors for us with contests and
570 The speech is briefly discussed by Herbert Hunger, “Thukydides Bei Johannes Kantakuzenos: Beobachtungen zur Mimesis,” Jahrbuch Der Österreichischen Byzantinistik, 181-93, 25 (1976): 183. 192
labors through cowarice in the face of danger. Do not be surprised that even if it is
fitting for emperors to take counsel concerning such matters, I myself have
proposed this counsel to you.571
Thucydides' original words (Thuc. 2.61.4: ἐν ἴσῳ γὰρ οἱ ἄνθρωποι δικαιοῦσι τῆς τε ὑπαρχούσης
δόξης αἰτιᾶσθαι ὅστις µαλακίᾳ ἐλλείπει καὶ τῆς µὴ προσηκούσης µισεῖν τὸν θρασύτητι
ὀρεγόµενον) had been deemed syntactically problematic by the scholiasts to Thucydides.572
Kantakouzenos’s version clarifies the original's confusing parallel structure. Employing the contrasting participles ὑφιεµένῳ and ἐφιέµενον, Kantakouzenos improves Thucydides by drawing out a stronger parallelism between the two propositions. However, Kantakouzenos anchors Thucydidean generalities in reality. Supporters like himself of the rising young emperor were undoubtedly hated by older members of Andronikos II's regime, who resented the young emperor and his supporters for boldly desiring glory before they had paid their dues and served their time in the empire's service. Similarly, Andronikos III’s men could easily have rebuked the older generation for their cowardly response to the empire’s foes.
It must have been easy for each generation to blame each other for the empire's problems.
Kantakouzenos, however, pushes his audience to think of both the collective good and their collective reputation. Only a private citizen now, the future Roman emperor adopts the voice of a
Roman emperor, addressing the collective good. Perikles had argued that was far better for a
571 Kantakouzenos, Roman History, 182. 572 The scholiasts to 2.61.4 struggled with the text, as evident from the clarification they provide: ὁµοίως οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἀξιοῦσιν αἰτιᾶσθαι ὅστις ἐν µαλακίᾳ ἐλλείπει τῆς ἐνυπαρχούσης δόξης καὶ µισεῖν τὸν ἐν θρασύτητι ὀρεγόµενον τῆς µὴ προσηκούσης. Note that Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides, 47, admired the passage. 193
private citizen to live in a prosperous well-run state than a floundering state. Rich and poor alike suffer when a state collapses.573 Kantakouzenos repeats Thucydides nearly verbatim, casting himself as a Periclean unifier of the Roman elite's discordant interests.574 But Kantakouzenos also cleverly shows that his words are no empty rhetoric. At the end of his speech, he concedes that he is not the wisest, strongest, or most experienced Roman at the council. Quoting Perikles's self-praise, he says "I think I am second to none" in zeal for action and willingness to sacrifice his money, servants, and body for the glory of the empire.575 In this way, Kantakouzenos praises himself just like Perikles, but does so in a far less rhetorically jarring manner. He makes it hard not to admire his selflessness.
However, Kantakouzenos seems to have been unable to resist the draw of fully praising himself as a Periclean protagonist. Immediately after he closes his oration, he reports in indirect speech that Andronikos II admired his good counsel and zeal for the common interest. Kantakouzenos was "swift to understand what was necessary, capable of expressing it, and most active in carrying it out."576 These are of course Perikles' own praises of himself.577 But Kantakouzenos has added efficacy to the Periclean catalogue of virtues, suggesting to the reader that
Kantakouzenos was admired by the emperor for his ability to transform words into action.
573 Thucydides, Histories 2.60.2 574 Kantakouzenos, Roman History, 182-3. 575 Kantakouzenos, Roman History, 185: ἀνδρίᾳ µὲν γὰρ καὶ συνέσει καὶ ἐµπειρίᾳ τῇ πρὸς τοὺς πολέµους πολλοῖς ἂν ὑµῶν συγχωρήσαιµι τὸ πλέον ἔχειν· τῇ προθυµίᾳ δὲ τῇ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα καὶ τῷ ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν ὁµοφύλων ὠφελείας καὶ τῆς βασιλέων τῶν ἡµετέρων τιµῆς καὶ ἡµῶν αὐτῶν εὐδοξίας καὶ χρήµατα καὶ οἰκέτας καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ σῶµα ἐπιδοῦναι, οὐδενὸς εἶναι δεύτερος ἀξιῶ. Cf. Thuc. 2.60.5: καίτοι ἐµοὶ τοιούτῳ ἀνδρὶ ὀργίζεσθε ὃς οὐδενὸς ἥσσων οἴοµαι εἶναι γνῶναί τε τὰ δέοντα καὶ ἑρµηνεῦσαι ταῦτα, φιλόπολίς τε καὶ χρηµάτων κρείσσων. 576 Kantakouzenos, Roman History, 186: ὃς οὕτως ἦν τά τε δέοντα συνεῖναι ὀξὺς καὶ ἑρµηνεῦσαι ταῦτα ἱκανὸς καὶ καταπράξασθαι δραστηριώτατος 577 Thuc. 2.60.2: καίτοι ἐµοὶ τοιούτῳ ἀνδρὶ ὀργίζεσθε ὃς οὐδενὸς ἥσσων οἴοµαι εἶναι γνῶναί τε τὰ δέοντα καὶ ἑρµηνεῦσαι ταῦτα, φιλόπολίς τε καὶ χρηµάτων κρείσσων. 194
No doubt aware of critiques of Perikles' speech, Kantakouzenos thus avoids praising himself directly. Drawing on the precepts of his rhetorical training, Kantakouzenos makes his political enemy, Andronikos II, his mouthpiece. As noted by Hermogenes's On the Method of Cleverly
Speaking, the textbook from which Kantakouzenos learned rhetoric, making one's enemies praise one is the most agreeable way of praising one's self in a speech.578 Thus, Kantakouzenos offers a masterfully improved adaptation of Thucydides, accounting for the mistakes noticed by earlier generations of rhetors. But at the same time, he also cunningly promotes his own brand. After noting Kantakouzenos's Periclean qualities, Andronikos II even goes on to say, "Were I to die without an heir to whom to leave the monarchy, I would counsel the Romans to make him their leader."579 In this way, Kantakouzenos's positions himself within the web of Roman imperial ideology. He plays the archetypal private citizen who acts like an emperor before he is emperor and ultimately receives the diadem as a prize of his virtue.580
Thus, working within the traditions and constraints of the Roman rhetorical tradition,
Kantankouzenos has crafted a masterful piece of apologist propaganda. Through the
Thucydidean intertext, Kantakouzenos casts himself as a romanized Periclean leader capable of saving New Rome from its divisive ruling class if only the diadem rested on his head.
Kantakouzenos masterfully transforms Thucydides’s faulty speech into an appealing and stirring argument to save Rome from its impending defeat.
578 Hemogenes, On Method, 441-2. 579 Kantakouzenos, Roman History, 186. 580 On this theme in the Palaiologan age, see Dimiter Angelov, Imperial Ideology and Political Thought in Byzantium (1204-1330) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 125–33; Jean-Claude Cheynet, Pouvoir et contestations à Byzance (963-1210) (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1990), 184. 195
6. Speaking Hidden Truths
As we saw, the speeches of Thucydides used in schools came with a certain amount of critical baggage that shaped later modes of imitation. But rhetorical practice even critically shaped less canonical speeches. While popular today, Thucydides's Melian dialogue enjoyed a chequered history in the ancient world. As we discussed in the previous chapter, Dionysios of Halikarnassos had severely faulted Thucydides for his improprietous portrayal of the Athenians. Finding that their callous words for the Melians resembled more those of a barbarian king than the Athenians, the liberators of Hellas, Dionysios accused Thucydides of maliciously portraying the Athenians, so that later generations would hate them.581 In subsequent years, ancient rhetors had downplayed the Melian episode, dooming it to oblivion. As rhetorically trained readers of
Thucydides in late antiquity increasingly only read Books 1-4, the episode probably fell outside the cultural literacy of the average reader. Nevertheless, the text found an imitator in Prokopios of Kaisareia, the historian of Justinian (527-565 A.D.). In the sixth book of his History of the
Wars, Prokopios stages a dialogue modeled after the Melian dialogue, this time between the
Roman commander Belisarios and Gothic envoys during the Gothic siege of Rome in 537-8 A.D.
At this point in the war, the Goths were faring badly while besieging the Romans, due to
Belisarios’s superior generalship, and they sought peace with the besieged. In the dialogue that follows, the Goths and Romans plead the justness of their causes and eventually break off negotiations with a truce when Belisarios is unable to conclude a treaty with them.
581 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 39, 41. 196
Prokopios no doubt knew the scene’s history of interpretation or at the very least saw its value for accomplishing one of his history’s underlying motivations: exposing the injustice of the
Roman reconquest of Italy by Justinian. Prokopios was a critic of the emperor Justinian and his regime throughout his History of the Wars.582 Writing critically about anyone while they are still alive is no easy task, least of all an emperor. Prokopios had to tread carefully, concealing his true thoughts from all but astute, well-read readers through oblique means. In this regard, Prokopios perhaps felt a certain kinship with Thucydides himself. Throughout antiquity, Thucydides was proverbial for his obscure style, which only a select few well-trained in rhetoric and philosophy could fully understand.583 Ancient readers had even detected a number of oblique attacks on his contemporaries in Thucydides.584 For example, scholiasts from as early as the first half of the second century A.D. had read Perikles' praise of Athens in the funeral oration as a series of jabs directed at Sparta.585 Thus, Thucydides offered Prokopios a model of how to obliquely attack the injustices of his day.
But there were certain aspects of Thucydides that required significant alteration. As ancient and modern scholars have noted, the Melian dialogue offers a startling dichotomy of arguments
582 Anthony Kaldellis, Procopius of Caesarea: tyranny, history, and philosophy at the end of antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), chap. 4; Juan Signes Codoñer, “Kaiserkritik in Prokops Kriegsgeschichte,” Electrum 9 (2003): 215–29.” 583 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 51; Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 35; AP 9.583. Kruse, “Archery,” sees Prokopios’s obscurantism through the prism of Pindar.. 584 Markellinos, Life of Thucydides 56, denies that Thucydides uses the schema ἐκ πλαγίου 'indirect speech', which he labels a form of πανουργία. Obviously, Thucydides uses indirect speech frequently. Since Markellinos' defense of Thucydides also focuses on other schemata such as reprimands and irony, one may infer authors anterior to Markellinos accused Thucydides of indirectly insulting his contemporaries. The scholia to Thucydides at 1.91.4 preserve one such accusation of intentional ambiguity. The scholia to 1.22.1 note that Thucydides obliquely criticizes the Athenians by mentioning them first in his catalogue of those who do not test the past. 585 Scholia to Thucydides 2.37.1, 2.37.3, 2.38.1, 2.39.1, 2.39.4, 2.40.1, 2.42.1. At 2.39.4, Hude's edition reproduces the papyrus P. Oxy 6.853 from before 150 A.D. 197
based on justice and advantage. In the first part of the dialogue, the Athenians try to force the
Melians to frame their arguments in terms of solely advantage, but then the conversation shifts to justice.586 The Melians remind the Athenians that they may one day appeal to justice, should their empire fall to the Spartans.587 As I discussed above, this dichotomy had struck Dionysios of
Halikarnassos as grossly inappropriate. In his opinion, “a city that enjoyed the very best laws” and had defended itself against the massive Persian invasion would never have attempted to banish questions of justice from the conversation and insist exclusively on arguments from advantage, such as the law of the stronger.588 A good commander involved in negotiations should focus on justice rather than offer up arguments denuded of a moral compass.589
No doubt, as a result of these or similar criticisms, Prokopios avoids directly imitating the rhetorical structure or sentiments of Thucydides’ Melian dialogue. When the Gothic envoy arrives in the Roman camp seeking a dialogue with Belisarios, the envoy proposes both sides speak of “advantage and justice.”590 But the conversation turns away from advantage entirely as
Belisarios bids the Goths to speak so long as they speak of “just and peaceful things.”591 Each side then discusses the casus belli: did Justinian invade Italy with just cause? The Goths allege that they rightly held Italy as their own. As they note, the emperor Zeno (474-491) instructed the
Ostrogoth king Theoderic (493-526) to seize Italy from the tyrant Odoacer (476-493) and take it
586 The contrast has been frequently noted. See, for example, Connor, Thucydides, 148–49; Alexander Bosworth, “The Humanitarian Aspect of the Melian Dialogue,” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 113 (1993): 55.. 587 Thucydides, Histories 90-1. 588 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 41. 589 Dionysios of Halikarnassos, On Thucydides 41. 590 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.6.7: ὅταν δὲ ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχῃ, τοὺς ἑκατέρων ἡγουµένους προσήκει µὴ δόξης τῆς οἰκείας τὴν τῶν ἀρχοµένων σωτηρίαν προΐεσθαι, ἀλλὰ τά τε δίκαια καὶ τὰ ξύµφορα οὐ σφίσιν αὐτοῖς µόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς σφῶν ἐναντίοις ἑλέσθαι, οὕτω τε τὴν διάλυσιν τῶν παρόντων ποιεῖσθαι δυσκόλων. 591 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.6.12: ὅπως δὲ εἰρηναῖά τε καὶ δίκαια πρὸς ὑµῶν λέγοιτο. 198
for his own. They have held the land justly, preserving Roman institutions, laws, and religion.
Belisarios counters that Zeno never gave them the land for their own, but rather sent the Goths there to recover it for him. Theoderic was a tyrant and a robber who seized Italy against Zeno's orders.592
On its face, it might seem like Prokopios has sanitized Thucydides’ Melian dialogue. His own version is concerned primarily with justice, correcting the problems noticed by Dionysios of
Halikarnassos. On a surface level, one could read it as a rhetorical spectacle, patriotically highlighting Justinian’s official version of the casus belli. Certainly, older commentators such as
J. A. S. Evans read the text in precisely this manner.593 In this reading, Belisarios plays the part of the patriotic Roman commander, fiercely loyal to his country and his emperor, who speaks only of justice and peace to the Goths. Romans fiercely proud of their laws and civilization could easily get behind this commander who fulfills stereotypes similar to those preferred by
Dionysios. Indeed, as Belisarios proclaims in his rejoinder to the Goths, Theoderic was never supposed to claim Italy. He was rather a commander sent to free Italy from the tyranny of
Odoacer and restore it to imperial rule. But he exceeded his command and seized Italy for himself. Belisarios’s Theoderic is essentially a doublet of Belisarios himself. Both were sent to liberate the Italians from tyranny and restore the land to imperial rule. But Belisarios favorably profits from this comparison. He is the realization of all that Theoderic should have been. For example, when the Goths repeatedly attempt to reach a conclusive peace treaty with him and cut
Justinian out of the deal, he refers the issue to Justinian, stating that, “We are not authorized
592 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.6.14-27. 593 Evans, Procopius, 130. 199
(αὐτοκράτορες) to do anything else than guard the land for its owner.”594 On an explicit level,
Prokopios paints Belisarios as the noble commander type, using his repartée to demonstrate his loyalty to the emperor. Belisarios' secretary Prokopios thereby protects Belisarios's reputation, as
Belisarios' loyalty was explicitly questioned later in the war after the Goths offered him rule of
Italy,595 while also outlining the reasons for the emperor's just intervention in Italy.
Many of Prokopios’s readers probably read the exchange in this way. But for those few who recognized what text Prokopios was imitating, another reading lurked beneath the surface. If
Thucydides’ alleged malice for Athens had bubbled to the surface in the Melian dialogue,
Prokopios’ criticism of Justinian’s regime lay beneath the pristine veneer of his imitation for the clever reader to discover. In his Secret History, Prokopios openly reviles Justinian’s endless wars waged without just cause.596 In the Wars, Prokopios reveals the unjustness of Justinian’s wars through the implicit comparison of the Goths and Belisarios’s narratives of Theodoric’s reign during the debate with the historian’s own, in his own narrative. As Prokopios has told us just one book earlier, "[Zeno] encouraged Theoderic to march to Italy, attack Odoacer, and win for himself and the Goths the western dominion."597 Indeed, after winning Italy, Prokopios'
Theodoric behaves like a virtuous Roman emperor in all but name.598 He is far from a tyrant, protecting Italy from the barbarians while maintaining its laws and customs, just as the Goths later claimed to Belisarios.599 In a sense, he is a foil for Justinian who is an emperor but acts like
594 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.6.32: οὐ γὰρ ἄλλου του ἡµεῖς αὐτοκράτορες ἢ ὥστε τῷ κεκτηµένῳ φυλάξαι τὴν χώραν. 595 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.30.1-2, 28. 596 Prokopios, Secret History 11.5-11, 29. 597 Prokopios, History of the Wars 5.1.10. 598 As implied by Prokopios, History of the Wars 5.1.26, 29. 599 Prokopios, History of the Wars 5.1.27-8. 200
a tyrant, as Prokopios demonstrates in his Secret History.600 Thus, Prokopios through the logic of his own text exposes the injustice of Justinian's cause.
But just as the dialogue undermines Justinian’s pretext for the war, so too does Prokopios undermine Belisarios. Scholars have until recently seen Prokopios's criticism of Belisarios as the product of disillusionment with the course taken by the Italian war in the 540's, surfacing in
Book 7 and becoming vocal in Book 8.601 But as Anthony Kaldellis has noted, Prokopios's criticisms of Belisarios run throughout the work.602 His Melian Dialogue subtly criticizes
Belisarios as the fame-hungry if naive commander-in-chief of Justinian's war machine. For example, before Belisarios introduces his false narrative of Theoderic's tyranny, he criticizes the
Goths’ true account as “almost arrogant deception (οὐ πόρρω ἀλαζονείας).”603 Explicitly, one can read Belisarios as the noble Roman general condemning the stereotypical boastfulness and lies of the barbarian enemy.604 But for the reader in the know, the situation is entirely reversed. It is Belisarios who is the ἀλαζών, defiling the truth with Justinian’s alternative facts. Belisarios also suffers from reading the dialogue in the context of Prokopios’ narrative. Throughout the dialogue, Belisarios repeatedly expresses his desire for peace and justice. After all, it is
Belisarios who sets the subject of the dialogue, bidding Goths to speak of “justice and peace."605
When the dialogue concludes, the Roman general promises that, “I will never stand in your way
600 Fritz Bornmann, “Motivi Tucididei in Procopio,” Athene e Roma 19 (1974): 140–47; Kaldellis, Procopius of Caesarea, 159–60. 601 Averil Cameron, Procopius and the Sixth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 52–54. 602 Anthony Kaldellis, “Prokopios’ Persian War: A Thematic and Literary Analysis,” in History as Literature in Byzantium, ed. Ruth Macrides (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), 254. 603 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.6.22. 604 For a comprehensive account of Roman stereotypes of barbarians, see Yves Albert Dauge, Le barbare: recherches sur la conception romaine de la barbarie et de la civilisation (Brussels: Latomus, 1981), 450–66. 605 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.6.12: ὅπως δὲ εἰρηναῖά τε καὶ δίκαια πρὸς ὑµῶν λέγοιτο. 201
when you are making plans for peace.”606 But far from desiring peace, Belisarios the fame- hungry commander explicitly undermines it later on. When both the Goths and Justinian are ready to reach an accord, he obstructs peace, refusing to sign the peace treaty because it would prevent him from winning a decisive victory over the enemy.607
Through this set scene’s implicit criticism, Prokopios exposes the injustice of the ruling Roman regime. Belisarios' Justinianic message of Roman revival and liberation writing the wrongs done by Theodoric is thus exposed to the light and revealed as a farce through this important,
Thucydidean capstone to the History of the Wars.608
From antiquity to Byzantium, Thucydides played an important role in training students to write speeches. His speeches were minutely studied and criticized by later generations of critics and rhetors, who inflected their teaching practices on both the ancient's understanding of Thucydides and how they imitated him. The confluence of these practices and historical writing have often been superficially treated or worse feared and disdained. This chapter has illuminated some of the webs of significance and interpretation by which Thucydides was mediated for later generations. Through a better of understanding of the links between rhetorical practice and historiography as illustrated by Thucydides, we can better appreciate Roman historical writing.
606 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.6.34: οὐ γάρ ποτε ὑµῖν εἰρηναῖα βουλευοµένοις ἐµποδὼν στήσοµαι. 607 Prokopios, History of the Wars 6.29.2-4. 608 Belisarios' message of liberation is elaborated by Pazdernik, “Procopius and Thucydides on the Labors of War.” 202
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