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Postby admin » Fri Dec 02, 2022 10:37 am

Part 1 of 3

Chapter 4: Gnomai, from "Popular Morality in the Early Roman Empire
by Teresa Morgan
© Teresa Morgan 2007



Ai-Khanoum inscription

Stone block with a portion of the Delphic Maxims. Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan, 2nd century BCE

In the ruins of the Hellenistic city of Ai-Khanoum (former Greco-Bactrian kingdom, and modern Afghanistan), on a Herõon (funerary monument) identified in Greek as the tomb of Kineas (also described as the oikistes (founder) of the Greek settlement) and dated to 300-250 BCE, an inscription has been found describing part of the Delphic maxims (maxims 143 to 147):
"Païs ôn kosmios ginou (As children, learn good manners)
hèbôn enkratès, (as young men, learn to control the passions)
mesos dikaios (in middle age, be just)
presbutès euboulos (in old age, give good advice)
teleutôn alupos. (then die, without regret.)"

The precepts were placed by a Greek named Clearchos, who may or may not have been Clearchus of Soli the disciple of Aristotle, who, according to the same inscription, had copied them from Delphi:
"These wise commandments of men of old
- Words of well-known thinkers - stand dedicated
In the most holy Pythian shrine
From there Klearchos, having copied them carefully, set them up, shining from afar, in the sanctuary of Kineas"

-- Delphic maxims, by Wikipedia

Ai-Khanoum (Aï Khānum, also Ay Khanum, lit. “Lady Moon” in Uzbek), possibly the historical Alexandria on the Oxus, possibly later named Eucratidia, was one of the primary cities of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom from circa 280 BCE, and of the Indo-Greek kings when they ruled both in Bactria and northwestern India, from the time of Demetrius I (200-190 BCE) [200-180] to the time of Eucratides (170–145 BCE). Previous scholars have argued that Ai Khanoum was founded in the late 4th century BC, following the conquests of Alexander the Great. Recent analysis now strongly suggests that the city was founded c. 280 BC by the Seleucid emperor Antiochus I Soter [292-281 BC]. The city is located in Takhar Province, northern Afghanistan, at the confluence of the Panj River and the Kokcha River, both tributaries of the Amu Darya, historically known as the Oxus. It is on the lower of two major sets of routes (lowland and highland) which connect Western Asia to the Khyber Pass which gives road access to South Asia.

Ai-Khanoum was one of the focal points of Hellenism in the East for nearly two centuries until its annihilation by nomadic invaders around 145 BCE about the time of the death of Eucratides I.

On a hunting trip in the 1960s, the Afghan Khan Gholam Serwar Nasher discovered ancient artifacts of Ai Khanom and invited Princeton archaeologist Daniel Schlumberger with his team to examine Ai-Khanoum. It was soon found to be the historical Alexandria on the Oxus, also possibly later named Arukratiya or Eucratidia, one of the primary cities of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. Some of those artifacts were displayed in Europe and USA museums in 2004. The site was subsequently excavated through archaeological work by a French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA) mission under Paul Bernard [fr] between 1964 and 1978, as well as Soviet scientists. The work had to be abandoned with the onset of the Soviet–Afghan War, during which the site was looted and used as a battleground, leaving very little of the original material. In 2013, the film-maker David Adams produced a six-part documentary mini-series about the ancient city entitled Alexander's Lost World.

Ai-Khanoum was located at the extreme east of Bactria, at the doorstep of the Maurya Empire in India.

The choice of this site for the foundation of a city was probably guided by several factors. The region, irrigated by the Oxus, had a rich agricultural potential. Mineral resources were abundant in the back country towards the Hindu Kush, especially the famous so-called "rubies" (actually, spinel) from Badakshan, and gold. Its location at the junction between Bactrian territory and nomad territories to the north, ultimately allowed access to commerce with the Chinese empire. Lastly, Ai-Khanoum was located at the very doorstep of Ancient India, allowing it to interact directly with the Indian subcontinent.

Numerous artefacts and structures were found, pointing to a high Hellenistic culture, combined with Eastern influences. "It has all the hallmarks of a Hellenistic city, with a Greek theatre, gymnasium and some Greek houses with colonnaded courtyards". Overall, Aï-Khanoum was an extremely important Greek city (1.5 sq kilometer), characteristic of the Seleucid Empire and then the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom....

Indian Emperor Ashoka addressed the Greeks of the region circa 258 BC in the Kandahar Edict of Ashoka, a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic. Kabul Museum.

The findings are of considerable importance, as no remains of the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek civilizations had been uncovered in the East (beyond the abundant coinage) until this discovery, which led some to speak of a "Bactrian mirage."

Ai-Khanoum was a center of Hellenistic culture at the doorstep of India, and there was a strong reciprocal awareness between the two areas. A few years after the foundation of the city, around 258 BC, the Indian Emperor Ashoka was carving a rock inscription in Greek and Aramaic addressed to the Greeks in the region, the Kandahar Edict of Ashoka, in the nearby city of Kandahar.

-- Ai-Khanoum, by Wikipedia

The Greeks who caused Bactria to revolt grew so powerful on account of the fertility of the country that they became masters, not only of Ariana, but also of India, as Apollodorus of Artemita says: and more tribes were subdued by them than by Alexander... Their cities were Bactra (also called Zariaspa, through which flows a river bearing the same name and emptying into the Oxus), and Darapsa, and several others.

— Strabo Geography 11.11.1

While Chandragupta Maurya's multiethnic, polyglot, expansionist kingdom certainly resembled the Seleucid state in outline and probably generated parallel mechanisms of territorial control, Megasthenes' ethnography went beyond this to emphasize consonance with the Seleucid world: certain of India's characteristics, appearing for the first time in ethnography, resemble Seleucid state structures too closely to be anything but observations or fabrications of similarity. The strongest case is the existence of autonomous, democratically governed cities within Megasthenes' Indian kingdom. The coexistence of independent and dependent cities within the same realm is one of the most striking characteristics of the Seleucid empire; it is unattested for the Mauryan kingdom. Megasthenes seems to have deliberately constructed a parallel system of irregular political sovereignty to better support the analogy between the two states. Other parallels include royal land ownership, the capital-on-the-river, the construction of roads and milestones, and various duties of the monarch.

-- Chapter 1: India – Diplomacy and Ethnography at the Mauryan Empire, Excerpt from "The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire", by Paul J. Kosmin

Chapter 4


Life is not a highway strewn with flowers. -- English popular song

In English, the term ‘gnomic saying’ has a wide scope, including proverbs, riddles, mottoes, legal axioms and even the epimythia of fables.1 Gnome in Greek and sententia in Latin are used of both proverbs and moralizing quotations, but for clarity, I am restricting them to the second group.2 The boundary, as we have seen, is occasionally hazy, as poets give memorable form to common sentiments or attributable quotations become proverbial. As usual, when in doubt I follow the sources’ own view of whether a particular saying is popular and anonymous (i.e. proverbial) or has a known origin. The most famous example of a borderline case in this chapter is the Sayings of the Seven Sages. These, which should probably, properly, be regarded as anonymous and proverbial, overlap both with the Delphic maxims and with some proverbs, but they were so generally attributed to the Sages in antiquity that it seems perverse not to count them as gnomai.3

Despite overlapping vocabulary and some borderline cases, Greek and Latin speakers could and did distinguish between quotations and anonymous proverbs, and the overlap of identical material between anthologies of proverbs and gnomic sayings is tiny (a fraction of a percentage point).4 The definition of a gnome was of particular interest to rhetoricians. Hermogenes of Tarsus offers this in his second-century Progymnasmata:1

Gnome is a summary statement, in universal terms, dissuading or exhorting in regard to something, or making clear what a particular thing is. Dissuading, as in the following (Il. 2.24): ‘A man who is a counsellor should not sleep throughout the night’; exhorting, as in the following (Theognis 175): ‘One fleeing poverty, Cyrnis, must throw himself/Into the yawning sea and down steep crags.’ Or it does neither of these things but explains the nature of something; for example (Demosthenes 1.23): ‘Undeserved success is for the unintelligent the beginning of thinking badly.’5

Theon, writing his Progymnasmata a century earlier, does not give gnomai a section to themselves, but treats them alongside chreiai, distinguishing the two as follows:

A chreia is a brief saying or action indicating shrewdness, attributed to some specified person or analogy of a person, and gnome and apomnemoneuma (reminiscence) are connected with it. Every brief gnome attributed to a person creates a chreia. A reminiscence is an action or a saying useful for life. The gnome, however, differs from the chreia in four ways; the chreia is always attributed to a person, the gnome not always; the chreia sometimes states a universal, sometimes a particular, the gnome only a universal; furthermore, sometimes the chreia is a pleasantry not useful for life, the gnome is always about something; fourth, the chreia is an action or a saying, the gnome only a saying.6

Function is as important as form for these authors when discussing the gnome (and for that matter the chreia, reminiscence and fable), and the function of a gnome is explicitly ethical: it is useful; it tells you something about the nature of the world, or about what to do or not to do. This view is expressed as a commonplace in other authors. Dio Chrysostom, speaking on how to prepare oneself for public speaking, urges his listeners to read Euripides and Menander; among the virtues of Euripides is that he scatters his plays with gnomai which are useful for all occasions.7 For Plutarch, no-one is more instructive than Menander, while Quintilian, whose analysis of the sententia runs to thirty-five paragraphs, a formidable range of sub-types and an exhaustive discussion of when it is and is not appropriate to use them, calls sententiae lumina, lights which illuminate the nature of things or persons.8 Gnomai or sententiae are meant to be taken seriously, heard, read, marked, learned and inwardly digested, and then put to use.9

From the first and second centuries, well over a thousand gnomic sayings survive in anthologies, in manuscript or on papyrus, while hundreds more are embedded in almost every kind of literature. From Menander, the single most popular source of gnomai in either language, no fewer than 866 lines in Greek (to say nothing of Latin versions) have been collected, many of which are attested several times; many of these are collected in anthologies but most are embedded in other works of literature.10 Such embedded gnomai are often produced with something of a fanfare, complete with their source. So, for instance, Seneca the Younger, discoursing on anger, says, ‘What of the fact that fear always rebounds on its authors and that no-one who is feared is safe himself? That line of Laberius may occur to you at this point, the one which (spoken in the theatre in the middle of a civil war) captured the whole populace as if the voice of public feeling itself had spoken: “The one whom many fear must fear many.”’11 On other occasions, a gnome is introduced but the audience is left to supply the author. So Paul of Tarsus, in The Acts of the Apostles, woos the Athenians with their shared knowledge of Aratus: ‘From one man, [God] made every race of men to inhabit the whole face of the earth, and he set out when and where they would live, so that they would seek God and perhaps grope for him and find him -– though he is not far from any of us. For “in him we live and move and exist”; as some of your poets have said, “for we are also his offspring”.’12 Paul, in his own writings, is capable of an even subtler use of the gnome, as when he slips a fragment of Menander’s Thaıs into his advice to the Christians of Corinth, ‘Do not stray: “Bad company destroys good morals.”’13

Most quotations in literary works are not moralistic, and of those that are, most are grammatically incomplete -– a few words or a clause from a well-known passage -– or they are simply alluded to or invoked in passing, with an image or a familiar turn of phrase. These I have excluded from the analysis, on the grounds (parallel to those on which I excluded some proverbial phrases from Chapter Two) that a gnome proper is a grammatically complete sentence as well as a complete thought. Quotations of more than two lines (which are much rarer) I have included if they express a single, coherent moralizing idea, like the paradigmatic monostichs and distichs.9 This five-line quotation from Euripides in Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights, for instance, qualifies: ‘What more do mortals need than these two things, the fruits of Demeter and the cool water of the spring, which are to hand and exist to feed us? All this does not satisfy us, but we hunt for other ways of eating in luxury.’14

Within anthologies, gnomai are easier to identify but often harder to date. Two important Latin collections, which have survived in manuscript and have some claim to have existed in the first or second century, are a case in point. The Dicta Catonis form a collection of sayings, some very brief and apparently modelled on the Sayings of the Seven Sages, some monostichs or distichs in hexameter verse, which was widely copied in late antiquity under the name of Cato the Elder. Some of these sayings were known in the first and second centuries,15 and a collection was in existence by the fourth. How far back we can trace them is harder to tell. Cato, consul and censor in the second century and a byword for moral probity since at least the first century BCE, was an obvious figure to whom to attach gnomai. (Plutarch, in his Life, attributes many more to him, some of which are translations of Menander monostichs; Seneca too quotes a ‘saying of Cato’ which does not appear in the distichs.16 ) There is no indication, however, that he wrote verse on a scale to produce this many gnomic quotations (though he left a number of prose works). There is, moreover, a suspicious absence of quotations from the Dicta in authors of the first and second centuries. Worse still, whatever the collection’s original form, it is clear that the versions which have come down to us are heavily Christianized. For all these reasons, I doubt we can convincingly identify any part of the Dicta Catonis as a collection in circulation in the first and second centuries, so I have not included it here.17

We are on firmer ground with the collection of Publilius Syrus. Publilius came to Rome in the mid-first century BCE as a slave.18 At some point he was freed and made his reputation writing Latin mimes which, like Greek and Latin comedy, periodically made use of a highly gnomic style. There is good evidence that he was known, quoted and admired in the first and second centuries CE. Seneca the Elder comments on his gift for apt expression; Petronius imitates him, and Gellius quotes a number of his sententiae.19 In the fourth century, Jerome learned his maxims.20 Like the Dicta Catonis, Publilius’ sayings were adapted for Christian audiences, prose material was added and the collection circulated in the Middle Ages in diverse forms. Over 700 sententiae, however, have been identified as original, and it seems plausible that they were in circulation in the first and second centuries CE.21

Gnomic anthologies in Greek present slightly different problems. Here we do have a large number of fragmentary texts, on papyrus, clearly written under the early Roman Empire, some in professional literary hands, while others are scholarly compilations or school texts. In this case, however, I have allowed myself to stray beyond my usual chronological bounds and include material which may date to as late as the fourth century. This is partly because it is not always easy to date papyri to one century, especially in literary hands, and many of the texts I shall be using are dated to, for instance, the second or third century, occasionally even the second, third or fourth. It is also partly because the accidents of survival and excavation mean that notoriously few papyri of any kind survive from the first century CE, and many of the best-preserved gnomic anthologies are possibly or certainly later than the second. Many date from even later than the fourth, and a few from earlier, but one can defend the inclusion of material from the first to the fourth centuries in a way in which one might not want to defend earlier or later material.

If we consider the whole range of literature surviving on papyrus during the Graeco-Roman period, we notice that across Egypt, a much wider range of literature seems to have been read under the Ptolemies than under the Romans. By the second century CE (outside one or two pockets of intense scholarly activity), a relatively narrow range of authors and texts survive in any numbers.22 Reading habits then seem to have been relatively stable until the fourth century, when the number and range of Greek and Latin secular literature begin to fall again (while Christian, especially biblical, material rises sharply). To include gnomic anthologies from the Ptolemaic period, therefore, in this analysis would be to include material which might well have gone out of circulation by the early Empire. To include collections from later than the fourth century would be to give too much statistical weight to their contents and potentially to distort the earlier picture. (One sixth- or seventh-century anthology, for instance, includes many gnomai about death (reflecting perhaps a Christian influence), which makes it rather different from earlier collections.23 To include it in the analysis would make death look a much more important topic in the early Empire than other collections suggest.) We can fortify first- and second-century material with texts from the third and fourth centuries, however, without serious danger of distorting the picture they create.

From the first to the fourth centuries, some ninety-five more or less readable texts of gnomic anthologies survive, together with a handful too fragmentary to yield more than odd words. Between them, they contain around 300 decipherable gnomic sayings. Most are not attributed in the papyri as we have them (though we rarely have the beginning or end of a text, where attributions most often occur). Around half, however, can be firmly attributed to an author and usually a work. The largest number come from Menander (or other new comic poets, whose gnomai tended to be dubbed ‘Menandrean’). The most popular prose works are ps.-Isocrates’ Ad Demonicum, Ad Nicoclem or Nicocles. Five texts can be firmly attributed to Euripides. Three survive from Plutarch’s Sympotic Problems and one each from (or attributed to) Hesiod, Philemon, Hermarchus, Moschion, Antiphon, Potamon, Aristotle, Aristippus, Diphilus, Pythagoras, Favorinus, Antisthenes, Chares, Chaeremon and Diogenes the Cynic – as eclectic a range of authors as was read anywhere in Egypt at the time. Between them, they are widely distributed across the province, showing that gnomic material was, geographically at least, more widely spread than any literature other than Homer in the Roman period.

It is common now -– when fragments of gnomologies survive only on papyrus, in the monumental, but more admired than studied compilation of Stobaeus, in the little-read late-antique manuscripts collected by Boissonade,24 in what are classified as minor Latin poets or in Arabic and modern European translations -– to underestimate their importance in the Hellenistic and especially the Roman world. To judge by the number of surviving papyrus fragments, however, the number of mediaeval manuscripts of some collections and the frequency with which certain gnomai were quoted by other authors, gnomai and gnomic collections were among the most widely familiar literary material in the Roman world – quite likely, after Homer (and possibly, in the west, Virgil), the most familiar material.25 Gnomai were among the first texts people read and copied when learning to read and write, so everyone with even the most basic level of literacy read some. Professional scribes made fair copies of them for wealthy patrons, and scholars copied them in informal hands. Where they were read, no doubt they were also quoted and so spread through parts, at least, of the non-literate population.26 Gnomai were familiar to anyone who read or had contact with someone who read. They helped to form the mindset of Greek and Latin speakers across the Empire, oiled the wheels of their thinking and coloured and vitalized their speech.

Map of the Ethical Landscape

1. Wealth

Two subjects individually form the two largest groups of gnomic sayings, and together dominate the landscape: wealth, and relations between rich and poor, and, often linked with them in individual gnomai, good and bad social relations in general. No text sets out its views more baldly than the first surviving quotation on a papyrus of the second or early third century published by Bartoletti.27 As we have it, the papyrus begins with a series of gnomai about wealth (to plouton), before moving on to arete (virtue), tyche and evil speech. The first column of fragment A reads: ‘Of Euripides. “I know and have tested well how all men love having; for no-one pursues what does not provide sustenance, but what provides wealth and wherewithal; the man who lacks wealth would do well to die.”’ Wealth is both necessary and, it seems, universally desired by human beings. ‘Money rules the world,’ says Publilius.28 ‘All animals fill themselves with food, but the race of men is insatiable of profit (kerdos).’29 An ostrakon from Narmouthis puts it even more bluntly in one of a series of Delphic-style axioms: ‘Seek wealth.’30 ‘Gold, the most beautiful thing that comes to men,’ rhapsodizes Lucian in the words of Euripides, and, ‘Water is best, but gold outshines proud wealth like a blazing fire at night.’31

Bartoletti’s third quotation reads, ‘Of Euripides. “This man who sets up for us altars of the gods in heaven and beautiful images with cunning blows of life-making skill, neglects one thing, it seems to me: he has not set up an altar nor a garland to the greatest and highest of gods, Wealth.”’ This reinforces the idea that human beings value wealth above everything else, even to the point of worshipping it. The speaker is presumably speaking sardonically, and the idea that wealth is something to be worshipped does not come up elsewhere in gnomai, but it is paralleled in the many cults of wealth (Ploutos and Ops) in Greek and Roman cities.

The wealth one seeks is not necessarily vast. Papyrus Bouriant 1 records, ‘I say that of all possessions, the best is wealth’ and ‘O greatest of all benefits, money’, but also, ‘Life without a livelihood is no life,’32 which suggests that wealth may be only what is needed to support life. When you have money, hang on to it: ‘When you buy what you don’t have, make sure you don’t have to sell what you do.’33 ‘Buy not what you need, but what you must have,’ says Seneca, quoting the Elder Cato.34 (This, though, is the ostentatious frugality of the rich. Publilius surely speaks for poorer members of society when he says roundly that, ‘Frugality is a euphemism for misery.’35 )

The second quotation in Bartoletti’s papyrus reads, ‘Of Hesiod. “Virtue and kydos go with wealth.”’ It is not hard to imagine how kudos goes with wealth. It is more striking that virtue is seen to go with it.36 We need not assume that wealth is being said to make people virtuous (in other gnomai, and elsewhere in wisdom literature, it clearly does not): it may be that, as in the third-century riddle, both wealth and virtue are seen to be the business of life.37 Equally, the compiler may mean that a rich man ought to be virtuous in order to use his wealth well. Parallels for that thought can be found, for instance, in the many gnomai of ps.-Isocrates’ Ad Demonicum.38 Or the quotation may mean that it is hard to be virtuous when one is poor, relying on the close association in Greek (and Latin) between virtue, good fortune and happiness.39

Several quotations survive on the topic, ‘If you are lazy [sometimes adding, when you are rich], you will become poor.’40 ‘Skills [or ‘crafts’] do not age well unless the man who practises them is a lover of money,’ says Maximus of Tyre, quoting Menander.41 On a similar theme, a third-century riddle reads, ‘What harms one’s wealth? Wasting of means,’42 and perhaps the same idea lies behind the one-word command: Philoponei, ‘love work’, which appears, among other places, in several school texts.43 One way at least of wasting one’s means is indicated in an ostrakon from Narmouthis, which commands tersely: ‘Flee loans.’44 ‘Debt is bitter slavery for the free man.’45 (Gnomai also recognize, though, that one may win or lose wealth not through one’s own fault, but through the designs, for instance, of tyche.46 ) Another quotation in Bartoletti’s papyrus is a fragment of Menander: ‘It is the mark of a wise man (phronountos) to bear loss [or punishment] rightly; of a rich wise man (ploutountos eu phronountos) not [to speak his business?].’

Criticism of unjust gain runs strongly through these texts. It appears in a rather garbled set of Menander monostichs from the first century (MPER 3.25). Another very gappy papyrus of the second century presents us tantalizingly with the phrases, taken from a series of authors, ‘. . . almost the head of evil . . . love of silver (philarguria) . . . evil profits . . . a greater evil for men . . . love of silver . . .’.47 P. Oxy. 3004 threatens those who pursue unjust gain with future pain (l. 10), and P. Bour. 1 commands the reader, ‘Flee the wicked habit and evil profit.’ ‘Better to lose your last as than make a dishonest profit,’ says Publilius, idealistically. ‘Gain with a bad reputation counts as loss.’48

Publilius Syrus has a particular dislike of misers and those greedy for wealth. ‘The miser is the cause of his own misery.’ ‘The miser lacks what he has as much as what he lacks.’49 ‘The poor lack much; the greedy man lacks anything.’50 He is suspicious of rich men’s heirs, especially if they show grief: ‘There’s a smile under the mask of a weeping heir.’51 Quintilian quotes Virgil in a similar vein: ‘To what will you not drive mortal hearts, cursed rumour of gold?’52 With Publilius’ interest in the abuse of wealth goes a shrewd grasp of economics: ‘What many people want is most dangerous to be looking after.’ Also of the pressures that unequal wealth puts on social relations: ‘A debtor does not love his creditor’s threshold.’53

Several texts offer a version of the sentiment, ‘Remember, being rich, to do good to the poor,’54 and this takes us to the theme of social relations in the context of wealth. Publilius is much interested in gift-giving and says several times that it is good to give, to have pity on those in need and to give without moralizing about it. The generous even invent reasons for making gifts.55 He recommends those in need to look to people with a record of generosity.56 ‘Your gift will be twice as pleasing if you offer it spontaneously.’57 Some care is needed, however: ‘If you keep giving, when you refuse you encourage someone to steal’ (though if you do it kindly, a refusal can almost count as a kindness itself).58 Not to be able to help is frustrating and to have sometimes to hurt people when you would like to help them, is wretched.59

On this subject, no author was half so popular as ps.-Isocrates. Among his maxims, many of which appear in several different fragments or anthologies, we find,

Desire not to acquire too many good things, but to enjoy what you have in a measured manner. Look down on those who pursue wealth but cannot make use of what they have: they are like a man who buys himself a fine horse but cannot ride. Try to make money something you use as well as something you own . . . value your possessions for two reasons, because it means you can afford a large loss, and because it enables you to help a friend in need.60

The enduring popularity of quotations from Ad Demonicum, Ad Nicoclem and Nicocles raises the interesting question what readers were expected to learn from gnomic anthologies, given that no-one reading such an anthology in an upstate Egyptian town or village was likely ever to find himself (let alone herself ) in the position of an Isocratean ruler. We shall return to this question in Chapter Six, but it seems evident that the author’s picture of the intimate relationship between wealth and social relations struck a chord with a wider readership. Ps.-Isocrates has no doubts about the importance of wealth – he assumes that his audience has much more than most readers of papyri can have dreamed of – but he is equally certain that it cannot create good social relationships on its own. It can be enjoyable; it can be usefully deployed; it can be a bargaining tool; of itself it brings a certain amount of power and prominence. But it has to be used, and used well, to be enjoyed; it has little to be said for it in itself, and other things remain more important: power, reputation, security. All these are ideas which make sense even if one is not among the wealthiest in society. Security, indeed, could be said to be the overriding concern of almost all ethical material – the theme behind every other theme. One thing on which gnomic texts up and down the Roman social scale could agree, is that it is hard ever to be as secure as one would like, in wealth, position, reputation, relationships or prospects.

In contrast to the large number of texts which discuss giving by the rich to the poor, one text gives some advice to the poor which would make it hard for the rich to patronize them: ‘When you are poor, do not associate with the rich, for you will seem to be flattering them.’61 No doubt another reason why the poor might be wary of associating with the rich is the fear that the rich might take what little they have, rather than giving generously of their wealth. ‘I hate to see the poor give to the rich,’ says Papyrus Bouriant, warningly.

2. Good social relations: the more and less powerful

The next group of gnomai focuses on relations between the more and less powerful. ‘Pursue glory and virtue . . .,’62 ‘Courage brings glory.’ ‘Fortune favours the brave,’ says Seneca the Younger, quoting Virgil.63 ‘Praise is the sweetest thing to hear,’ avers Pliny, quoting Xenophon.64 ‘A good reputation keeps its glory even in dark times.’ ‘A good reputation is a second patrimony.’65 ‘Honour shows off the honourable but shows up the dishonourable.’66 Honour, kudos, good reputation (doxa, kydos, gloria, bona fama) and bad make several more appearances in papyri, though most of them happen to be too fragmentary to contextualize.67 For ps.-Isocrates, doxa, along with wealth and friends, is what fortune gives great men,68 and although he does not use the word as often as one might expect, the whole thrust of his hortatory discourses is to teach his readers how to rule with doxa and arete. It is striking that two gnomai which can be read also connect glory with virtue (and in one case, with wealth as well). ‘Virtue and kudos go with wealth.’69 ‘Pursue glory and virtue, avoid blame.’70 Glory is a virtue of social prominence – one cannot be glorious and unknown – so it is not surprising that it goes with wealth. More interesting is the insistence that it goes with virtue. Ad Dem. 49 makes clear that it does not have to go with virtue – one can be glorious, as one can be rich, and a bad man. But these texts prefer that it should. It may have been some consolation to those who were not members of the elite, who nonetheless heard or read gnomai and aspired to their values, and who, if they could not make themselves glorious and rich, could at least try to be virtuous.

A text which seems to begin with a reference to Alexander the Great (perhaps attributing the sentiment to him) says, ‘Do nothing mean (tapeinos) or low-born (agenes) or disgraceful (adoxos) or weak (analkimos).’71 Alexander would also have sympathized with the answer to the riddle, ‘what makes good out of evil? Boldness. Force’, and with Publilius’ claim that ‘the noble mind does not accept an insult’.72 The only trouble with aristocratic virtues like these is that they can spill over into arrogance or recklessness: ‘The boast of pride soon turns to ignominy.’ ‘Hate recklessness.’73 ‘The greatest power is thrown away by being badly exercised.’74

Ps.-Isocrates’ perspective when advising Demonicus and Nicocles is frankly that of the powerful, and the advice he gives is a blend of the utilitarian and the philosophical. It places a high value on virtue. ‘Manage your affairs so that you are in a position of power, then lay off when you have a fair share, so that you may be seen to work for justice, not out of weakness, but from a sense of what is right.’75 ‘You must apply your mind, so that as far as you outstrip others in honour, so far you surpass them in the virtues.’76 ‘Nothing is as popular as goodness of heart,’ says Quintilian optimistically, quoting Cicero.77

Imitation is an important theme for ps.-Isocrates and society in general. We imitate what we admire, and admire what we imitate. ‘Believing that those who strive for reputation (doxa) and are eager for education should imitate the good and not the bad, I have sent you this treatise as a gift . . .’ ps.-Isocrates begins his letter to Demonicus.78 ‘Do not envy those whom I value most, but compete with them . . .’79 Conversely, what we do not approve of we should not imitate, as a third-century gnome from Oxyrhynchus tells us.80

By identifying good men and imitating them, says ps.-Isocrates, one can become like them and form friendships with them. His idea of imitation all takes place within the highest level of society, but his advice would work equally well for any man interested in improving his social status.

Good, powerful men, in many of these quotations, are those who succeed in pursuing glory, reputation, authority or virtue while keeping the poor and powerless on their side.81 ‘Everyone co-operates happily when worthy men rule.’ Sometimes keeping the less powerful on side means giving them something (other than money). ‘The man who practises clemency wins every time.’ ‘The man who yields to his people is not conquered, but conquers.’82 There are sound prudential reasons for this: ‘The highest place is safe for no-one unless he watches his step.’83 For their part, the less powerful are encouraged to trust their rulers: a third-century papyrus even advises: ‘Trust a ruler whether just or unjust.’84

Texts addressed to the less powerful are not homogeneous. Some are optimistic: ‘Cultivate those more powerful than you . . .’85 Publilius sees advantages even in servitude. ‘An inferior knows all his superior’s mistakes.’ ‘The clever slave has a share in power.’ ‘To do wrong for one’s masters counts as a virtue.’86 Others are resigned: ‘The ignorance of the powerful must be borne.’87 A number of quotations are less enthusiastic than we might expect about help given by the more powerful to the less. ‘The saved man is always ungracious (acharistos) by nature’ observes one text from Oxyrhynchus.88 Publilius too attests that being offered help can wound people’s pride, make them feel slavish and is no benefit when it is accompanied by fear.89

Some gnomai are pessimistic: ‘Injustice easily becomes powerful over the poor.’ ‘To die at another’s command is to die twice.’ ‘An inferior seeks what his superior is hiding, at his peril.’ ‘How painful is a wound you dare not complain of!’90 A few are not resigned: ‘A worthless man doing well is not to be borne.’91 One gnome can even advise, ‘Do not honour those in power, for it is unseemly.’92

 If all else fails, the powerless can console themselves by practising contentment. ‘When the poor man starts to imitate the rich, he’s done for.’93 ‘What is wicked in life? Envy’.94 On the verso of a second-century school text from Tebtunis we find written out eleven times, ‘Do not be eager to be rich, lest envy cause you grief.’95 ‘Neither exult in wealth nor bemoan poverty.’96 The poor man has few enemies, and ‘The lowly have not far to fall,’ while ‘the higher they stand, the more easily fate hurts them’.97 One heavily reconstructed quotation seems to say that it is not a safe course of life to try to control many things: one should mind one’s own affairs and not other people’s.98 There are unexpected compensations for being unimportant. It is hard to imagine those at the top of society being encouraged to cowardice in any circumstances, but in one papyrus collection we find, ‘The man who flees will fight again.’99

3. Friendship

Perhaps the most significant way in which people protect themselves against the conflicts of wealth and power, or poverty and powerlessness, is by making friends (philoi, amici). We cannot do without friendship: ‘Seek philia,’ as one of the Delphic-style maxims tells us.100 ‘United we stand firm.’101 ‘Nothing distinguishes good and bad men so much as their friendships’ proclaims ps.-Isocrates.102 ‘Be pleasant to all but cultivate the best.’103

The Bartoletti papyrus with which I started the last section, later quotes from Euripides’ Phoenissae: ‘If the same thing seemed beautiful and wise to everyone, there would be no disputatious strife among men; there is no need to make a truce with weapons, mother; for reason [or ‘the word’] decides everything the sword of one’s enemies could.’104 It is the difference between people that makes for conflict; unfortunately, a world without difference is hardly imaginable, let alone attainable. Philia is not, it seems, the normative state of human relations; conflict is. One of the most quoted gnomai in literature (frequently emended slightly to fit different contexts, but always recognizable) is Hesiod’s ‘Potter envies potter and carpenter carpenter.’105 Philia is a remedial measure, but one which must be practised with caution.

One must not rush into it; one must test one’s friends thoroughly before committing to them; once committed, one must be absolutely loyal. ‘Do not make friends with everyone who wants to, but with those who are worthy of your nature.’106 ‘The tenth hour finds you with more friends than the first,’ says Publilius cynically, meaning that lots of people will call themselves friends when there is a chance of a free dinner.107 So, ‘Be slow to make friends, but once you have become a friend try to make it last, for it is equally disgraceful (aischron) to have no friends at all and to keep changing friends.’108 PSI 2.120 includes a series of gnomai on friendship which capture its complexity well.109 ‘What you don’t know about, throw yourself into examining, and you won’t make a mistake.’ ‘Do not laugh at jokes, for you will become an object of hate to those joked about.’110 ‘Do not interfere, either, in things that do not concern you.’ ‘Do not acquire either friends or enemies quickly.’ ‘Ward off the hostile man without hurting yourself.’ ‘Think yourself the comrade (hetairos) of people, not of things [or ‘money’].’ ‘Work gladly for the good fortune of your friends; in their ill fortune offer of yourself freely.’111

Trust is essential between friends,112 and friendship is a matter of deeds, not just words.113 ‘So trust your friend that there’s no place for your enemy.’114 ‘Trust your friends even in respect of what is not trustworthy, and do not trust the hostile even in respect of what is trustworthy.’ One text encourages us to be wary even of established friends: ‘Do not trust the appearances of all your friends.’115 On the other hand, it does not do to be too suspicious: ‘The man who fears his friend teaches his friend to fear.’116 Suspicion is a common human quality, but no better for that.117 Threats of physical or metaphysical retribution encourage readers to be trustworthy. ‘Whenever a man speaks fair while doing evil, and does not escape his neighbour’s notice, he will get double evil back,’ say three fragments.118 Once forfeited, trust cannot be regained.119 Philostratus quotes Homer: ‘Hateful as the gates of hell to me is the man who says one thing and hides another in his heart.’120

Ps.-Isocrates urges Demonicus to value his friends above his kin, on the grounds that they display his character better, and tells him to be generous (koinos) to them.121 ‘Think, having friends, that you have treasuries’ says Papyrus Bouriant 1, emphasizing again the connection between human and material resources in Graeco-Roman minds and the possibility that friends to whom one is generous may respond in kind.122

The same text offers us no fewer than three quotations on the subject of strict reciprocity, which is so important among friends: ‘Having taken, give back so that you may take whenever you want.’ ‘Look after strangers lest you should sometime become a stranger.’ ‘A timely good to friends in part returns.’123 Publilius too has an interest in reciprocity: ‘Expect from one man what you have done to another.’ ‘He who can’t give help shouldn’t ask for it.’124 ‘He who knows how to return help, gets more.’125 He goes further and expresses outrage at people who seek help without returning it: ‘Those who think that help is a gift are either bad or mad.’ ‘To take what you can’t return is fraud.’126 ‘It is best to help someone who will remember what he has received.’127 Not only the recipient benefits from the gift, however: the giver gets benefit from the act of giving, too.128

Expanded reciprocity is less of a theme in gnomai, but there are a few examples: ‘When you give help to the worthy you put everyone in your debt.’ ‘Whatever you give to the good, you give partly to yourself.’ ‘When you suffer much, much you could not suffer will come to you.’ ‘An impatient patient makes a cruel doctor.’129

Patriotism is not a common theme in gnomai, but it does occasionally appear as a force for social unity and harmony. ‘Nothing is sweeter than one’s native land,’ says the Odyssey, and is quoted by both Dio Chrysostom and Lucian.130 Plutarch quotes Simonides: ‘The state teaches a man.’131 For Publilius, the theme of patriotism is closely related to that of friendship. If you do not support your own people, you open the door to your enemies, and ‘conflict between citizens is the enemy’s opportunity’.132 Everyone can do their bit to safeguard their community: ‘He who wants to preserve the commonwealth, looks after his own,’ and ‘everyone is safe where one is defended’.133 It is taken for granted that exile is bad: an exile is like an unburied corpse.134

Along with doing good to your friends and fellow citizens goes doing ill to your enemies. ‘Who wants to do ill can always find a reason.’135 ‘Evil demands injury.’136 Friendship and enmity are, indeed, two sides of the same coin: the man with many friends must accept having enemies too.137 ‘There is no room for tears when your enemy is destroyed.’138 Publilius is unusual among gnomic collections in including a number of quotations about war and about how victors should behave to their enemies. ‘Prepare for war in peacetime.’ ‘Prepare for war for a long time that you may win quickly.’139 Some at least of his sayings are ostensibly directed at generals, and the quality of the general is important.140 So is his behaviour: ‘It is honourable to win, cruel to oppress, seemly to forgive.’141 You should be fair even to your enemies; you should also, however, be prudent and not make friends with your enemies, unless you think it will convert them into friends without cost to yourself.142

Within friendship, even a certain amount of conflict can be contained: ‘Rivalry is good’ says Pliny, quoting Hesiod, when it spurs friends to do better than each other.143 So is plain speaking: ‘If you bear with your friend’s vices, you make them your own.’144

Publilius’ collection, as the largest single gnomology of the period by far, promotes a number of other qualities by which good social relations are maintained, or bad ones avoided. Good people have a responsibility to see that evil does not prosper. ‘The man who lets a sin go invites blame.’ ‘The evil of a few men is the destruction of many.’145 Nor is it enough to look after one’s own interests: ‘The man who is good on his own behalf should be called bad.’146 To that end, it may be better not to get too used to good things lest one become blase.147

A quality which may or may not contribute to social harmony, depending on the way it is used, is anger. Publilius’ view of anger is complex. Anger is frightening, especially when the angry man has power.148 The angry must be careful that their emotion does not outrun their control, nor that they pick a fight with someone stronger than themselves.149 To fight the law or one’s own children, too, brings nothing but grief, while ‘When the angry man comes to himself he is angry with himself.’150 ‘Slowly but terribly the wise mind grows angry’ sums up the positive side of Publilius’ view. ‘The wrath of an upright man is weightiest,’151 but ‘anger is quick to die down in the good man’.152 Until it does, however, ‘avoid the angry man for a while . . .’.153

4. Intelligence and foolishness

Apart from friends, what the reader of gnomai most needs to pilot him through the tricky seas of human interaction is practical wisdom – in Latin prudentia or sapientia, in Greek, phronesis and its cognates, euboulia or sophia. He needs to be able to use his mind, his reason – mens, ratio, nous, phren, logos or logismos. Many gnomai commend practical wisdom. ‘Phronesis is the greatest good always.’154 It makes men good: ‘A man who looks at all these affairs with reason (to logismos) rejects evil and chooses good.’155 Sometimes reason is regarded as making virtue better: ‘It is right that we should praise and admire men who are good (kosmious) by nature, but those who are good by reason (logismos) are more worthy still.’156 It is a short step from there to: ‘The mind is a most prophetic god in us,’157 and, ‘Phronesis in a good cause is a blessing.’158

Reason is essential to life: ‘What is more than enough? Phronesis . . . What is more necessary than wealth? Phronimotes.’159 One should therefore ‘take advice from a wise (sophos) man’.160 The wise watch other people to avoid making their mistakes.161 They play safe, make plans, take precautions, and are careful not to initiate projects which they may later regret.162 ‘Caution is always hateful, but it makes for wisdom.’ ‘The plan that cannot be changed is a bad plan.’163 In uncertainty, the wise man takes counsel, though when truth is at stake, he acts decisively.164 Even if as a result of dealing with one’s affairs with wisdom, for some reason they go wrong, ‘it is the mark of a wise man to bear loss rightly . . .’.165 We have already come across a reason why the wisest of men may fare badly: ‘I want a drop of tyche or a cask of phrenon sums it up.166

For Publilius, prudentia encourages one always to be alert and ‘to watch whatever you can lose’.167 ‘By being cautious even the blind walk in safety.’168 ‘The unlucky had always best do nothing.’169 This leads Publilius to connect intelligence, courage and cowardice in an unusual way. ‘No-one ever got to the top through fear,’170 but for ordinary people, a judicious blend of courage and prudence, not to say fearfulness, facilitates social life. ‘The mind which knows how to fear knows how to progress safely.’ ‘The man who fears every ambush falls into none.’171 Fear usefully restrains the wicked.172 Having said that, on balance it is better to have more courage than fear. ‘Courage doesn’t know how to give in to catastrophe.’173 ‘Courage grows with daring, fear with delaying.’174 ‘By patience and courage a man makes himself happy.’175 ‘The man who is always fearful is damned every day.’176

Educational papyri are particularly keen to emphasize that phronesis can be acquired in school. ‘Letters are the beginning of understanding (tou phronein).’177 ‘Letters are a treasure, and what you learn never dies,’ as Trimalchio sentimentally expresses it.178 ‘. . . Above all, train your intellect (phronesis), for the greatest thing in a small space is a sound mind (nous) in a sound body,’179 says ps.-Isocrates at the culmination of his letter to Demonicus. The best ornaments of a man, he assures his pupil, are modesty, justice and sophrosyne,180 and they are also his greatest safeguard: ‘Believe that your staunchest bodyguard lies in the virtue of your friends, the loyalty of your citizens and your own phronesis . . .’181 (Another teacher of wisdom, in gnomai as in proverbs, is poverty: ‘Poverty makes a man try all sorts of things.’182 Age too may bring wisdom, though not always: ‘Sense, not age, discovers wisdom.’183 )

Phronesis is usually applied to the outer world and human relations, but the related theme of examining oneself, understanding oneself and being intellectually in control of oneself also makes a regular appearance in these texts. ‘Know yourself,’184 the bald advice of the Seven Sages, appears several times in gnomic papyri and is probably the most quoted gnome in all literature.185 ‘It is necessary to know yourself, if you would understand your affairs and what you should do,’186 says a gnome of the second or third century, amplifying the famous dictum.

A number of quotations encourage people to regulate themselves with a view to making friends and impressing people. Even more common is a stronger demand: ‘Rule yourself.’187 ‘[Restrain yourself?], if you have a bad temper,’188 and the same theme appears numerous times with minor variations. ‘Being a man, learn how to conquer anger.’189 Anger (along perhaps with love) is notoriously the passion which most disastrously darkens and leads astray the mind (another gnome, a fragment of Plutarch’s Quaestiones convivales, includes the same idea, saying that one of the things that makes a bad person bad is that their deliberative faculty is as if drunk190). Even when one is not angry, self-control is worth practising. An unfortunately incomplete gnome advises a child ‘ . . . to all, if you would do well (hypereches) in life’.191 Yet another advises the reader, ‘Do not hear or see what is not to your advantage.’192 We shall return to the inner life of ethical agents in Chapter Seven, but it is worth noting here that it is a significant presence among gnomic sayings, and that the rationale for restraining anger is largely utilitarian.

Foolishness is always bad.193 The foolish do not understand themselves or know their own ignorance.194 They are malleable and complaisant, lack foresight, fail to choose between options or make hasty judgements they later regret.195 ‘It is too late to take advice when one is in danger.’196 Only when they feel the pain of a mistake do they listen to advice, and that is too late.197 Pessimistically, ‘If you are not wise, there is no point in your listening to the wise,’198 says Publilius.
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Part 2 of 3

5. Speech and lies

Closely related to intelligence, because it takes intelligence to know when and how to use it, is speech. The word is a powerful force in human affairs. ‘What’s strong in life?’ asks the third-century riddle collection. ‘Man. Word’.199 ‘A man’s stamp (character) is known by his speech,’ says a text of the second or third century, optimistically, though Plutarch, quoting Menander, says, ‘the speaker’s nature, not his speech, persuades’.200 Quintilian would have agreed with both of them, concerned as he is with the orator’s ethos, the character he projects, as an important part of his persuasive power.201 Often enough, however, words are misused, and then they become both evil and dangerous. ‘O tongue, an evil hard for men to wrestle with, who love to decorate foul things with beautiful words . . .’202 ‘O Zeus,’ asks another quotation, ‘why did you give . . . wicked men a good tongue and good men no power of speech?’203 Several texts exhort the reader directly or by implication not to follow the path of evil speech: ‘O Phania, do not heed vain slander, for a lie dirties life . . .’204 ‘A lie dirties life’ agrees a fourth-century school text,205 while a papyrus from Karanis also indicates, through a sadly fragmentary text, that cursing or evil words are a bad thing.206

It is not out of place to threaten potential malefactors with the consequences of lies or evil speech.207 It may also be prudent to warn the virtuous not to assume that other people’s words are as reliable as their own: ‘Do not assume an accusing [prosecution?] speech is trustworthy.’208 Another form of lying speech is more of a problem for the wealthy and powerful: ‘Abhor flatterers as you would deceivers,’209 ps.-Isocrates warns Demonicus. In one quotation, suspicion of accusing speech spreads to become a general injunction against frequenting the agora, with its many possible kinds of public speech, commercial, forensic and deliberative: ‘Do not hurry to the agora, nor babble with outstretched hands, for it is mad.’210 Another gnome, however, seems to favour rhetorical persuasion as a better method of gaining co-operation between people than the alternatives: ‘Seek to persuade, not to compel, for the compelled man is hostile, the persuaded one wise.’211

A number of texts content themselves with recommending the reader to, ‘speak, if it is right; if not, keep silence’.212 Speak ‘in right measure’, and not if you do not have to, suggests another text from fourth-century Hermoupolis.213 Ps.-Isocrates says the same at characteristically greater length.214 This is all the more true since, as Quintilian says, quoting Terence, obsequiousness makes friends, telling the truth enemies.215 ‘Say the sweetest things,’216 suggests a text from Oxyrhynchus, while Publilius is particularly against people offering rebuke or well-meaning advice to people when they are down.217 A rare voice in favour of speech, and not particularly weighty speech at that, comes from Publilius: ‘A talkative companion carries you along the road.’218

Ps.-Isocrates, of course, has his own objections to the rhetoric of his own day, and sometimes contrasts the virtues engendered by his own philosophical school with the shallow accomplishments of other people’s students.219 We may wonder whether to a reader in Roman Egypt, the passage read as an injunction to reject rhetoric for philosophy, or as encouragement to quietism – staying out of the public arena altogether.

6. Women, family and love

From social relations in general, we move on to gnomai about women and the family. A fragment of Plutarch’s Quaestiones convivales discusses why it is customary to invite so many people to wedding suppers, and concludes that on such an important occasion it is partly for fear of leaving anyone out, and partly to cement the union by spreading goodwill as widely as possible.220 Another fragment of the same work discusses what constitutes the best home. Solon says that it is one where the head of house shares his worldly goods with family and friends who have good sense and discretion. Bias says that it is a home where the head, because of his own character, maintains the same character inside it as the law compels him to maintain outside it. Thales says that it is where the head of the household can have the greatest leisure; Cleobulus, that it is where the members of the household love its head more than fear him; Pittacus, that it is the home where nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous, and Chilon that it is like a monarchy.221 In these passages, the household is both an important social nexus in its own right and a meeting place for other social networks. There is nothing at all surprising about this to Roman historians: what is surprising is that this view is so rarely aired in wisdom texts, which in general have little to say about the household and family, and even less that links them with the wider social world.

Gnomologies on papyrus are almost universally negative about women.222 ‘What is sweet in life that we must flee? Woman’, says the third-century riddle collection.223 According to another third-century text, published by Reitzenstein, when you want to take a wife, the ugly ones disgust you and the beautiful ones make you fear adultery, and choke you with simultaneous desire and grief.224 A fragmentary text of the fourth century hints at a similar attitude with a mention of ‘marrying troubles’.225 ‘Don’t trust a woman with your livelihood,’ says a third-century gnomology from Oxyrhynchus,226 ‘for a woman knows nothing but what she wants.’ The same text avers a few lines further on, ‘sea and fire and woman are a triple evil’, a sentiment echoed twice in a later school text.227 A school text from second-century Luxor commends Euripides for calling the face of a woman the greatest of all evils.228 In context, the gnome, ‘a sympathetic wife is a man’s best possession’229 comes as a surprise: its language may be that of ownership, but at least it thinks there is something good about a woman. One other text makes a practical suggestion rather than a judgement, though again it is not, in implication, markedly favourable to women: ‘Marry from among your equals. For those who marry above them acquire a slave-mistress in the house.’230

Publilius’ view of women is mixed. He too thinks there are good marriages: ‘Mind, not body, makes a lasting marriage.’ ‘A wife faithful to her husband rules her home through submission.’ ‘An accommodating wife soon makes you hate prostitutes.’231 On the other hand, women are vain, manipulative, exploitative, scheming and generally troublesome.232 ‘A woman either loves or hates: there is no middle way,’233 while prostitutes are ‘instruments of shame’.234

In much of this women are much like men. Publilius’ many dicta about love could be applied equally well to both sexes, and are usually couched in the masculine. Plutarch, quoting Menander, agrees: ‘No lover [of either sex] likes being neglected.’235 ‘Death and love can’t be evaded,’ even by the gods.236 Only time (or the beloved) can cure it.237 Love blazes like a torch and falls like a tear; it is painful even when it is sweet.238 When you are in love, intelligence and willpower fall by the wayside.239 Lovers are angry (until they reconcile), suspicious, tearful240 and often untruthful: ‘A lover’s oaths can be broken with impunity.’241

In general, the picture painted in gnomai of relations between parents and children is rosy. ‘Honour your parents,’ commands a second- or third-century papyrus and also a quotation from ps.-Isocrates;242 ‘Respect your parents,’ says a maxim, perhaps of the Seven Wise Men,243 and another says, ‘Revere your parents like the gods.’244 A little more circumspectly, ‘Love your father’, says Publilius, ‘if he is just; if not, tolerate him.’245 A more extensive but fragmentary gnome from first-century Oxyrhynchus says that it is just to love one’s mother, who bore one and nurtured and worked for one.246 In this context, another quotation strikes a warning note: ‘Who fed you, not who bred you, is your father.’247

‘The company of parents and children is sweet’ attests another second-or third-century gnomology – twice.248 ‘To kill an infant’, says Publilius, ‘is barbaric, not brave.’249 A quotation from ps.-Isocrates has some germane advice: ‘Treat your parents as you would have your children treat you.’250

Gnomai have little to say about siblings, but Plutarch does once quote Hesiod: ‘It is wrong to treat a friend the same as a brother.’251 Like all wisdom genres, gnomai have little to say about slavery. Slaves are to be kept in their place: ‘The master who fears his slaves is lower than a slave.’252 A papyrus from third-century Oxyrhynchus preserves three quotations from Euripides, all of which claim that the condition of slavery is not incompatible with having a free mind or being a good man.253 Quotations from Publilius indicate the opposite: here slavery is a metaphor for a shameful and unpleasant condition of life.254 Unusually, among Aesop’s gnomic instructions to his Egyptian pupil Helios in the Life of Aesop, is an injunction to ‘look after your slaves, and share what you have with them, so that they may not only obey you as their master, but honour you as their benefactor’.255

In comparison with gnomai about friendship and other social relations, a good deal of whose advice is highly realistic when it is not grimly pessimistic, gnomai about the family are largely positive. This may be because families are less of a concern to readers of gnomologies: they are surely not seen as less important than other types of relationship, if only on practical and legal grounds, but perhaps they are seen as less complicated.

7. Justice and the law

One factor which might be expected, ideally at least, to palliate social conflicts arising from inequality, is the law. Gnomai (like exempla) have more to say about the law than either proverbs or fables; like every genre, they also have much to say about justice. Their ideas are less easy to weave into a coherent set of ideas, however, than those on any topic we have examined so far.

Dike in Greek, iustitia in Latin and related words, have three broad ranges of meaning: those to do with divine or ideal justice; those to do with the law; and those to do with social harmony or balance: ‘normal’, ‘balanced’, ‘conventional’ and the like. Justice as an ideal, sponsored by the gods, appears several times: ‘What is pleasing to the gods? Justice’.256 ‘The gods are saviours of just men.’257 ‘The divine brings the bad to justice.’258 On the human level, ‘It is a just thing to love one’s mother.’259 One gnome hints at metaphysical retribution for the unjust (presumably, since in this life the unjust tend to do rather well): ‘[All] unjust gain brings harm to the one who gains it.’260 In the same spirit, rewards are predicted in another gnome for the just: ‘The fruit of just men does not perish.’261 On the other hand, tyche, if not the other gods, is seen as capable of acting in what humans see as unjust terms: ‘Alas, what an injustice it is when tyche takes away a man’s position while his way of life remains.’262

Ps.-Isocrates is strongly of the view that the good ruler establishes and practises good laws for his people.263 Justice is better than wealth, brings glory to its practitioners even (sometimes only) after their death and is thoroughly virtuous.264 He offers the reader a nice blend, typical in these essays, of idealism, political pragmatism and self-interest, salted by occasional, frankly cynical observations which make it obvious that ps.Isocrates thinks that in the real world, injustice occurs in the best-regulated societies.

Publilius provides more gnomai about the law than any other collection, and the quotations that survive are notably diverse, sometimes in direct conflict with each other. It is at least not in doubt that the law is important: ‘To take away the laws is to take away one’s first aid.’265 ‘Where the law is strong, the people are strong.’266 ‘If you didn’t punish misdeeds, you would encourage crime.’267 The law keeps order when people forget themselves: ‘The law sees the angry man; the angry man does not see the law.’ ‘Anger tends to forget the law.’268 There is a certain amount of advice to judges. ‘In judging it is criminal to be hasty.’269 ‘A judge is condemned when he acquits the guilty,’270 or terrifies the innocent. On the other hand, a judge showing pity does the law no good.271

‘Obey the law,’272 is the bottom line for any ordinary citizen who wishes to stay out of trouble. A number of quotations express confidence in the benignity of the law when faced with the genuinely innocent. ‘A good case will not be afraid of any judge.’273 Others are not so sure. ‘Do not assume an accusing [prosecution?] speech is trustworthy,’274 perhaps indicates that someone doubts the practice of law is always beyond reproach. ‘When the man who accuses, judges, force not law rules,’275 and ‘it’s a good use of coin to bribe the judge’, add to that impression; in the circumstances, it is perhaps harsh to say that ‘he who flees justice admits his guilt’.276 There is some disagreement about whether the innocent or the guilty are more likely to be eloquent on their own behalf,277 which in turn casts doubt on the gnome ‘you wrong yourself when you do not vindicate yourself’.278 Publilius has a quietist streak, advising the reader not to get involved pleading another person’s cause.279 ‘He who does no injustice does not need the law’ goes further, and is capable of sinister interpretation.280

8. Gods, the metaphysical and humanity

The subject of justice brings us to another centrally important theme of gnomic sayings: the role of the metaphysical in human life. The gods play a greater role in Publilius and elsewhere in literature than they do in papyrus gnomologies. But the most talked-of metaphysical power everywhere is tyche or fortuna, fortune. The twin themes which most often emerge are that fortune is wholly uncontrollable by human beings and that it can radically change your life.

The fourth-century P. Harr. 2.174 is very fragmentary, but it is clear that it contained a long and pessimistic quotation about tyche: the whole cosmos is nothing without fortune; the sailor, the farmer, the army, the city, the rich man, the ordinary people, are all equally powerless before it. ‘Taunt no man with his misfortune, for tyche is common to all and the future is a thing unseen,’ says ps.-Isocrates.281 A third- or fourth-century papyrus puts it differently: ‘The man to whom tyche has not granted victory in his sleep [i.e. without effort], will run in vain, even if he run faster than Ladas.’282 ‘There is only one way to guard against fortune – not to risk it too often,’ says Seneca the Elder, quoting an epigram by Diocles of Carystus.283

If Fortune seems to be flattering you, beware: she is probably about to make a fool of you, and not just once. ‘Fortune is glass: as it shines, it breaks.’284 ‘You will find fortune faster than you will keep it,’ and ‘you will lose least when you have gained least’.285 ‘There is no worse punishment for a man than misfortune,’ except perhaps remembering better times. But while you have it, nothing else can help you so much.286

‘Whoever thinks through wisdom (phronesis) to fare well is a fool; for all things in life come about not through wisdom, but through tyche,’ reports a fourth-century papyrus. ‘Man thinks one thing, Fortune another.’287 The third-century riddle collection asks, ‘What’s better than knowledge? Tyche ’.288 The power of Tyche to render the mind useless is emphasized in another third- or fourth-century text: when Tyche strikes, good intentions and experience disappear and everything a man has created is destroyed.289 A text from Bartoletti’s papyrus agrees: ‘Tyche, weakening reason and forethought in mid-process, not finishing but changing its purpose, makes everything an orphan.’290 Another quotation from Bartoletti is more ambiguous, and may leave room for rational planning as well as tyche – or it may simply reaffirm that however much one plans, ultimately it is tyche that will decide what happens: ‘Commit yourself to fortune, after you have deliberated well.’291 Whatever happens, ‘the stupid fear fortune, the wise bear it’.292

A small number of quotations suggest that there was some room for debate about the power of tyche. ‘It is not enough only always to have hope in the face of tyche, child, for those things that one wants, but also oneself to seize tyche.’293 On the other hand, ‘faith, when one is poor, means fortune is returning’.294 And again, ‘learning carefully, wise young man, never blame me, Tyche, for I have no strength’.295

The best thing we have from the gods, says ps.-Isocrates, is good fortune (eutychia), while the best thing we have in ourselves is good judgement (euboulia).296 Not even the gods, however, reliably control fortune: ‘Even the god has hardly any power over the fortunate man.’297 Tyche was sometimes worshipped as a divinity in her own right: according to Publilius, the complaints of human beings were what elevated her.298 Ps.-Isocrates treats Tyche as a divinity and says that men who do wrong transgress against themselves and Tyche, who gave them wealth, reputation and friends.299 Tyche, by definition, hands out good and bad fortune at random.300 ‘I hate good fortune (tyche) in a luckless (atyches) body.’301 ‘Hapless man, whose reason plans great things but to whom the god (daimon) has given a weak tyche.’302 ‘High above us all, Fortune directs our lives,’ says Trimalchio, in one of the many gnomic ‘quotations’ invented for him by Petronius.303

Fate (moira, fatum) is a more straightforward power than tyche, if in some ways a more sinister one, since when it is invoked in Greek and Latin literature, something bad is generally going to happen. It makes few appearances in gnomic quotations from Egypt, but when it does, it is, like tyche, universal and ineluctable: ‘O Fate, so hard for men to wrestle with . . .’ says a quotation in Bartoletti’s papyrus.304 ‘A bad death is an insult from fate,’ says Publilius, in a similar mood, and, ‘What you can’t change you must bear as it happens.’305

The gods also, for the most part, attract relatively straightforward and conventional mentions in gnomologies. ‘Follow the god . . . Honour the gods.’306 ‘Honour the god.’307 ‘Show devotion to the gods, especially in public . . . Fear the gods.’308 ‘Follow your ancestors in the worship of the gods.’309 One fragmentary text preserves the epithet ‘Zeus to be many-times honoured . . .’.310 The gods remain mysterious, however: ‘Few understand what the god gives.’ ‘It is foolishness to complain about the man whom the gods love.’311

The gods are all-powerful in human life: as one school text says, rather surprisingly (and probably under Christian influence), ‘It is Zeus that sends your daily bread.’312 A fragmentary quotation begins, ‘. . . in heaven the deathless foreknowledge of the gods . . .’.313

As we have seen, the gods are several times praised as the ultimate sponsors of justice.314 ‘Do not praise an unworthy man for his wealth; for the god changes all for the good . . . Do not forget the gods.’315 A third-century quotation from Oxyrhynchus perhaps warns of what you can expect if you do wrong: ‘Being a man, you cannot guard against the hostility of the gods.’316 ‘He who wrecks his ship twice should not blame Neptune,’ says Publilius.317 Very occasionally, the gods seem to be reproached for behaving unjustly, or at any rate incomprehensibly to human beings: so a quotation in Bartoletti’s papyrus asks why Zeus gives wicked men good tongues and good men a poor power of speech.318 In general, though, these texts’ picture of the gods is consistent and rather benign, provided that human beings treat them with the respect they demand.

Complementary to these texts’ understanding of the divine is their understanding of humanity and mortality.319 ‘What is strange and paradoxical in life? Man . . .’.320 Divided in so much else, human beings are united in mortality.321 Terence’s line, ‘I am a man; nothing human do I think foreign to me,’ is one of the most popular gnomic quotations in Latin literature.322 Occasionally, we glimpse the grand side of humanity: ‘Nothing as proud as man exists,’ says Dio, quoting Euripides.323 Plutarch quotes Simonides to make the same point: ‘On every lark a crest must grow.’324 In general, however, the consensus seems to be that human beings are poor, fragile creatures. ‘Earth breeds nothing feebler than human beings,’ says Maximus of Tyre, quoting Homer.325 The commonest theme is that man is born to suffering, which he can neither predict nor avoid. ‘Many things hurt mortals.’326 ‘Man knows nothing of what he is going to suffer.’327 ‘Being a man, think about the sufferings of man and do not anticipate your tyche . . .’ says a papyrus of the third or fourth century which I quoted above.328 ‘[It is necessary?] to bear what befalls a man nobly.’329

Death comes to everyone sooner or later. ‘Whom the gods love dies young.’330 ‘Alas for us, the sum of humanity is nil,’ sighs Trimalchio.331 ‘Man is lent to life, not given.’ ‘Life is short except in evils.’ ‘Death is good for a man when it ends the evils of life.’332 A few texts admit the possibility of a good death. ‘It is not death, but the approach to death, which is bitter.’ ‘Is it so bitter, then, to die?’333 ‘We men die nowhere better than where we have lived happily.’334 ‘Do not grieve for the dead, for death is necessary, but for the shamefully dead.’335 On the whole, though, we are caught between fear of death and the misery of existence.336

Perhaps surprisingly, given their mixed view of human life, gnomai are rather positive about old age. One should honour the elderly in general. ‘Revere the old, the image of the god,’ says one gnome.337 The only two lines legible on an ostrakon of the second century say, ‘Child, it is reasonable that Nestor the thrice-elderly is so wise, since he has lived three generations of human years.’338 ‘Experience speaks with a wiser tongue than youth,’ agrees Lucian, quoting Euripides.339 Ps.-Isocrates goes further, and sets up his father, an older man, as an ideal for Demonicus to imitate, for his vigour, hard work, frugality, enjoyment of his possessions, love of beauty, generosity and open-handedness, and devotion to his friends.340

Occasionally we hear of the source of human evils: ‘Being a man, remember the common tyche . . . being a man, you cannot guard against the hostility of the gods . . . remember always that you are a man.’341 ‘Many are the ways in which leisure makes evil for mortals.’342 (This pessimistic attitude to leisure perhaps fits with the exhortations to work hard which I mentioned above. This is a long way from the traditional ethos of either the Greek or Roman upper classes, and perhaps represents a lower stratum of society making a virtue of necessity. On the other hand, the idea that the wealthy should work on behalf of others, as a kind of noblesse oblige, does appear from time to time in authors of the early Empire.343) Human beings are not without responsibility for their own sufferings, either, whether through foolishness, greed or some other vice. ‘Everyone prefers what someone else has,’ is a common comment on human nature.344

A scattering of other quotations, together with a couple of riddles, add a few other ideas, though unsystematically: ‘Cultivate the thoughts of an immortal, by being great in soul, but those of a mortal by enjoying in due measure the things you possess.’345 For Publilius, the man who thinks big and applies himself can do almost anything. ‘Whatever you attempt, think how you are going to succeed.’ ‘The biggest things must have small beginnings.’346 It is worth enduring a good deal in order to succeed: nothing is more satisfying than hard-won success, while idleness will get you nowhere.347

The pseudo-Plutarchan letter of consolation to Apollonius appears in fact to be the draft of a letter, and, as it stands, consists largely of dozens of gnomic quotations strung together. The author tells us that life is brief and fortune is careless: we are its playthings and no-one’s luck holds forever. Wealth and happiness are only two of the blessings that time sweeps away. There is no use in mourning, though, for death is nothing to be afraid of: it is just like sleep. Much worse would be to live in such fear of death that we were not really living. The best life is one which is well and fully lived, full of achievement. Anyway (in one of the letter’s more breathtaking voltes-face) the earth is full of evils and those who die young are luckiest. If we ‘know ourselves’, do ‘nothing in excess’ and trust in the fatherly care of the god for the human race, we will be able to live well and contemplate death calmly. A logical train of thought is not this letter’s greatest strength, but it does convey the ambivalence of gnomic texts in general towards human life and death. Life is short, precarious and frequently unpleasant. Nevertheless, our instinct is to cling to it and to dread death. An important part of our human journey is to learn to overcome this fear, by whatever means, and at the same time continue to enjoy and reap what good things come to us, without breaking our hearts over those that evade our grasp.348

9. Varia

As we have seen, gnomic anthologies on papyrus, many of which come from educational contexts, are unusual in giving a certain prominence to education as a theme. Some of these texts clearly refer to formal education, and these are the ones written in teachers’ or children’s hands. ‘Letters are the beginning of understanding (tou phronein).’349 ‘Begin, good hand, beautiful letters, and a straight line, and imitate.’350 ‘What is free from envy in life? Philosophy’.351 (Presumably this means that philosophers do not suffer from envy, rather than that no-one envies philosophers.) ‘Honour your teacher,’ advises the Life of Aesop.352

Other gnomai (the second, at least, ironically from a school text) take a less optimistic view of formal education: ‘Pay teaches all men, not teachers.’353 ‘What is the teacher of things? Experience’.354 At least one other uses learning in a more general sense, as something that is part of all life: ‘Learn well, young man, never to blame me, Tyche, for I have no strength.’355 Imitation is an important part of formal education, and it makes many appearances in ps.-Isocrates’ advice to Demonicus and Nicocles.356 Ps.Isocrates obviously believes that they can learn from written precepts too – his own, and also, for instance, the gnomai of the poets.357

On the most general level, learning is clearly important in the world of popular wisdom: how else does one acquire wisdom and understanding of the world? We may further ask how important learning to read and writing is in the world of Greek and Roman popular wisdom, where the maxims of the poets and famous prose writers, the histories of wise men and famous ancestors are such an important source of advice. One answer is that it depends on how many people we imagine acquiring this material by reading it, and how widely it was passed around in speech. Given the likely low percentage of literates in the Roman Empire, even in so bureaucratic a province as Egypt, if we are to believe that this material is popular in any real sense, we must assume that it was widely orally disseminated. And indeed there is no reason to assume it was not, and every reason, when we compare the way sayings of literary origin spread through other societies, to assume that it was. What does seem likely, however, is that the fact that much widespread wisdom was recorded and passed on in written form as well as orally, made a difference to the way it was regarded in the Roman world. This is an environment in which reading was symbolically associated with wisdom and the dissemination of wisdom, even if many people did not acquire it that way. If this is so, we may see another gnome as putting the commoner’s point of view: ‘Less learning and more clarity (in your speech)’.358

When all else fails, human life may be sustained by hope. ‘What’s sweet in life? Hope’.359 ‘What doesn’t loathe life? Hope’.360 ‘An unfortunate man is saved by hope,’361 is the last surviving line of a third-century gnomology from Oxyrhynchus. Although a number of other gnomai, such as those which assert that bad men will be punished in time or by the gods, seem to encourage hope by implication, direct references to hope are rather muted in tone – rather commenting on the phenomenon that ‘hope springs eternal in the human breast’ than vigorously endorsing it. One quotation goes further and takes a tone of grim fatalism: ‘It is not always enough only to have hope in the face of tyche.’362

Finally, it is worth noting the wide scatter of qualities which appear once or twice in collections or elsewhere in literature. Drunkenness is several times mentioned as a bad thing.363 Physical health and beauty, the subject of several proverbs, make an occasional appearance in Publilius: ‘Don’t think anything foul that conduces to health.’ ‘A shapely face is a silent testimonial.’364 Other gnomai relate to all human beings impartially: ‘Sleep brings a pause to all evils.’365 ‘Be gentle (praus),’ says a second- or third-century text from Philadelphia, and follows it with, ‘there is nothing more useful in life than the pursuit of gentleness’.366


The world of gnomai is the richest, the most complex and nuanced we have yet encountered. It is a world of glory and opportunity as well as fragility and danger. We are urged to think like gods and aim high, to imitate the best men and to rule ourselves in order to rule others. In this world, education can transform one’s prospects, intelligence is like a god inside us and foolishness is largely ignored. Old age can be a time of achievement and respect instead of hardship and ridicule, and death need not eclipse one’s reputation.

Most of this material is most naturally seen as addressing the higher, if not the highest, levels of society, but what is interesting is that it is copied and used so much more widely than that. It seems to indicate that middling social ranks (such as the readers of elementary school texts in Egyptian villages) are aspiring to aristocratic values, and perhaps even (if gnomai were spoken as well as read) the poor. Some of the material more obviously addresses the more lowly, and here we find the fear of poverty, wariness of power and encouragement to be content with what you have, that we have seen in proverbs and fables.

This is a notably materialistic world. Wealth (not necessarily great wealth, but at least a living) matters a great deal and is much discussed. People are told under every heading to rely on themselves, and the gods play little role in helping human beings, though they are the ultimate sponsors of justice. Most gnomai about the gods tell us to honour them without telling us much about why. In striking contrast, Tyche/Fortune plays a large role in gnomai. Her overwhelming power is frequently asserted, but it is also clear that many people look for ways to use, defuse or evade her, and that occasionally (whether through luck or cleverness) someone succeeds.

‘Let us never cease from doing good to our fellow human beings,’ says Plutarch, quoting an unknown tragedian, but ‘it is easy to harm, hard to do good’, says Quintilian.367 Like other wisdom genres, gnomai attest that conflict is endemic in human society, and is always in danger of becoming a zero-sum game, one side losing disastrously to the other.368 Gnomai encourage us to palliate conflict in various ways – through the rich helping the poor, the poor cultivating the rich, through friendship, reciprocity (a stronger theme here than elsewhere) and, not least, the law.

Gnomai have a good deal to say about the importance of the law, though it is somewhat mixed. Good laws are a responsibility of good rulers. For everyone else, it is essential to obey the law. At the same time, one cannot be sure that it will produce justice, or help one, and the safest course is to live a good (and, presumably, unprovocative) life. Gnomai reflect the cognitive dissonance of a society which aspires to values which its institutions cannot yet reliably deliver.

One of the distinctive features of gnomai is their thematic complexity. Many treat two or more themes at the same time, and it is worth noting which subjects are connected with which. Wealth, for instance, is connected by many sayings with friendship, the household, power, virtue and the metaphysical world. Wealth is evidently such a consuming concern of the world of the gnomai that it impinges on all their other main areas of interest. Not all these links are of the same kind, however. Friends are frequently described as a form of wealth and wealth as aiding friendship. The two have some degree of identity – they both go together and help each other. But wealth is never described as a form of virtue nor virtue as wealth. The rich are often told they should be virtuous, but these remain separate qualities; virtue is sometimes stated to be the more important, wealth never.

Friendship is clearly of great importance in its own right but it is related to surprisingly few other areas of life, though self-rule is said to make one more attractive to others and friendship is closely related with speech and honesty. Friendship and the family do not overlap – these are evidently quite distinct types of relationship. Tyche is linked with almost every other area of life, but in almost every case negatively. Wealth, friends, virtue, wisdom, power – none of them can guard the human being from tyche; the most virtue or wisdom can do is help you accept whatever tyche brings. Even so, one or two texts suggest that there may have been some debate about the power of tyche over human life. The debate is potentially an important one, because the structure, stability and success of any society depends to some extent on people being able to feel that they can control the world they live in, both individually and, even more importantly, collectively. To do so people need both to understand the world around them and to have some power of self-determination. If everyone were wholly at the mercy of tyche, one would be forced to wonder why anybody bothered to construct societies at all. The gods and time, on the divine scale, are more positively linked with human life, in particular with justice. The gods are the only guarantors of justice in these texts and time brings both justice and virtue to light, even if the just or virtuous people concerned are dead.

Phronesis has surprisingly few links to any other subject, considering how often it appears in its own right. It is consistently said to be a good thing, but it is never said to make one rich, or virtuous, or get one friends or power or help one avoid the slings and arrows of tyche. What it mainly does, it seems, is help one to survive.

Gnomai tend to distinguish linguistically between what people do and what they should do. That people seek wealth, for instance, is presented as a fact. But it is also something they are told to do – we are not generally told why, but since we have already seen that wealth is not intrinsically good, the next most likely reason is that it is necessary.369 In contrast, that the rich should do good to the poor is something that gnomai tell people to do, but not something they say people do. To seek wealth is both natural and right; to use it to help others is right but not natural.

Friendship is both something people do naturally and something they are encouraged to do. Friendship may be between equals or unequals – and it is noticeable that more overt attention is paid in these texts to friendships of inequality. But cultivating friendships with people of higher or lower social status is not presented as happening naturally; it is something which gnomai either recommend you do or recommend you don’t do.

Finally, it is worth briefly considering whether individual collections contain biases which might distort the overall analysis. Publilius, as I noted, has a particular dislike of misers and a particular interest in romantic love. Neither of these is a major theme overall, though the latter, at least, is well paralleled in contemporary genres such as novels (both Greek and Latin), which, if they do not quite count as wisdom literature, have a highly gnomic style.370 More significant, perhaps, is Publilius’ rather strong sense that ‘the end justifies the means’. ‘The unworthy is worthy in a good cause.’ ‘You can legitimately spare the bad if it means you can spare the good.’ ‘Even a thorn is pleasing if a rose comes out of it.’ ‘A lie in a good cause is true.’371 This is not paralleled in other collections and we shall return to it below.372

Bouquiaux-Simon’s papyrus contains several quotations about kairos. Bartoletti’s preserves sections on wealth, arete and tyche. P. Harr. 2.170 seems to be all about wealth and evil profit. All these, however, are themes which are plentifully attested in other texts, so there is no reason to regard these collections as distorting the picture. P. Oxy. 3004 contains nearly all our quotations on charis, eudoxia and adoxia, but as it happens they are all too fragmentary to read, so I have left them out. There seems no reason to think that any one collection has badly skewed the overall picture. Nor have I been able to detect any significant shifts in subject matter between papyri of the first and fourth centuries, nor between Latin texts and Greek.

Figure 3 Distribution of main topics in gnomai  
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1 Roberts 1971: 53 records some of the gnomic mottoes on display in English slum homes at the turn of the twentieth century: ‘East, west, home’s best,’ ‘Bless our home,’ ‘Home is the nest where all is best.’

2 Sen. ep. 94 is a good example of a discussion of sententiae which deals mainly with quotations but includes a few proverbs, without noting a distinction.

3 On their transmission and wide distribution, including on inscriptions, see Maltomini 2004, Funghi 2004.

4 The overlap of shared images and allusions to people and stories is much larger, of course.

5 Para. 4, transl. Kennedy 2003. This definition goes back ultimately to Aristotle Rh. 1394a21–32.

6 Para. 3, transl. Kennedy 2003, substituting ‘gnome’ for ‘maxim’ in some places, for clarity. When he says that a gnome is not always attributed to a person, Theon means not an author but a character: chreiai are put in the mouths of characters, and often set in a scene, while gnomai are not. Theon goes on to distinguish the reminiscence from both chreia and gnome: the reminiscence can be extended, and is not always put in the mouth of a particular character.

7 18.7. On Euripides as gnˆomologos see Most 2003.

8 Plu. Mor. 854a, Quint. 8.5. In addition to the standard sources, Quintilian recommends Archilochus for his many gnomai (10.1.60).  

9 Quintilian (8.5.17–18) also says that it can be clever to adapt a gnome to make it more appropriate to the context, of which we see many examples, particularly within other texts but occasionally in anthologies too.

10 Liapes 2002.

11 De ira 2.11.3.

12 17.26–8 (Aratus Phaen. 5).

13 1 Cor. 15.33.

14 6.16.7 (Eurip. fr. 884, Nauck). I have included a number of relatively long passages from ps.Isocrates. These, which evidently circulated as whole works (or substantial parts of works), as well as in anthologies, are moral miscellanies in their own right. They are by far the most copied prose gnomai in Greek or Latin.

15 E.g. 2.3 appears in inscription CIL 6.11252 (around the end of the second century).

16 Sen. ep. 94.27.

17 Except e.g. below, p. 91.

18 Plin. HN 35.58.199.

19 Sen. Contr. 7.3.8, Petr. 55, cf. Gell. 17.14. Giancotti 1992 argues that Sen. ep. 8.8 suggests that Seneca knows a large number of Publilius’ sententiae. Haltenhoff 2003: 195 argues that Publilius adapts the morals of the Roman socio-political elite to a wider audience; cf. Hamblenne 1973 on their political origins. Giancotti (27) notes the importance of pudor to Publilius: Kaster 2005 ch. 2 regards this as particularly an aristocratic virtue, but here it is perhaps popularized. Other important themes – humanity, justice, conscience – are equally important in other collections and genres.

20 Ep. 107.8, 128.4. Ps.-Phocylides, a similar collection of gnomic material which has been Judaized, probably dates originally to the first century bce or ce (Horst 1978: 81–3).

21 On Publilius’ connections with philosophy and the gnomic tradition in general, see Giancotti 1967 and Lucarini 2003. I follow the numbering of Duff and Duff 1935, based primarily on the Teubner edition of 1880, omitting lines whose authenticity the editors doubt.

22 Morgan 1998: 94–119, 2003a, 2003b. LDAB gives the data in easily manipulable form.

23 Hagedorn and Weber 1968.

24 Anecdota graeca 1829–33, Anecdota nova 1844.

25 Boissonade’s collection includes numerous gnomologies from Greek poets and prose authors, sayings of the Seven Sages and other philosophers, and biblical material. Stobaeus, writing probably in the early fifth century, collects gnomai of more than 500 authors under 200 headings. This labour of love eclipsed all others at the end of antiquity, but to the modern gnomographer, not the least remarkable thing about it is that it does not overlap more with other surviving fragmentary collections. Evidently the repertoire of quotations considered collectable was vast and readers’ appetites equally so. Gutas 1975 demonstrates the wealth of Greek gnomic literature from the fifth century which found its way into Arabic translations; see too d’Ancona 2004. This wealth includes sayings attributed to Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, gnomai of Isocrates, Menander and Democritus, quotations from Greek history, rhetoric and novels and from many other authors of the Roman Empire. No one surviving Arabic collection corresponds to a surviving Greek collection, though there is much overlapping material. Scattered among the gnomai are many chreiai and apothegmata. Brock 2003 and Bettiolo 2004 trace the translation of Greek gnomologies into Syriac; S. Pernigotti 2003 discusses Coptic translations. C. Pernigotti 2003 looks at lines of transmission of sententiae through antiquity; Piccione 2004 sketches the transmission of sententiae from late antiquity, through the neglected dark ages, into the early mediaeval period; cf. Taylor 1992, but this is unreliable on the ancient side.

26 As a very young child, I remember being put to sleep with the words, ‘May flights of angels sing you to your rest.’ When I learned to read and write and began to read poetry, it came to me that this was probably a line of verse. Later still, I found it in Hamlet (slightly adapted in transmission). My mother, questioned, did not know where the line came from, nor why she always said it, but thought on reflection that perhaps she had heard it on a school trip to Stratford-upon-Avon.

27 1966. This is an unusual example (in a papyrus anthology) of a more than two-line gnome, though Stobaeus, for instance, includes many longer passages.

28 PS506.

29 P. Ross. Georg. 1.13.

30 Pintaudi and Sijpesteijn 1989 ostrakon 5.

31 Timon 41 (Eurip. Danae fr. 326, Nauck), Gall. 7 (Pi. O. 1.1–2), cf. 14.

32 Gnomai 12, 13, 2.

33 PS730, cf. Vit. Aes. 110. The series of gnomai put into the mouth of Aesop in the anonymous Life is not a traditional collection like that associated with the Seven Sages, but, just as Aesop is often pictured in company with the Sages in this period, these gnomai are obviously meant to affirm his status as a wise coiner of maxims as well as a teller of fables. As such, they seem to fit better here than anywhere else, and they echo many other gnomai in content, as other references below show.

34 Ep. 94.27.

35 PS223.

36 Op. 313 (Hesiod is urging the reader to work).

37 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.5: ‘Wealth and virtue. What is the business of life?’

38 cf. Ad Dem. 6, 19, 28.

39 But see below, pp. 199–200.

40 MPER 3.24; Boyaval 1975, attributed to Thales; P. Bour. 1, gnome 14. Cf. PS317 (‘It is lazy to excuse oneself from working’).

41 Fr. 408 Koerte, Max. Tyr. 5.7.

42 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.17.

43 Nachtergael 1991; P. Ross. Georg. 1.13 l. 3; Bonner 1977: 61 plate; cf. [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 40.

44 Pintaudi and Sijpesteijn 1989 ostrakon 5.

45 PSII.

46 Below, pp. 111–13.

47 P. Harr. 2.170. The authors, whose names frustratingly survive better than their quotations, include Apollodorus, Philippides, Alexis, Antiphanes and Philemon.

48 PS527, PS158, cf. Vit. Aes. 110.

49 PS14, PS694 (quoted by Quint. 8.5.6, 9.3.64, Sen. Contr. 7.3.8), cf. PS21, PS23, PS26, PS35, PS46, PS47, PS55, PS136, PS273 (quoted by Sen. ep. 108.9), PS276, PS342, PS418, PS431, PS438, PS560, PS618, PS672.

50 PS275 (quoted by Sen. ep. 108.8), cf. Max. Tyr. 12.14.

51 PS258, cf. PS259, PS583 (‘It is foolish to save for you don’t know whom.’). Also, connecting scarcity and desirability, ‘What you would want to hold dear for a long time, must be a rare thing’ (PS630, cf. Juv. 11.208, Sen. Ben. 1.14.1).

52 9.2.10.

53 PS367, PS585, cf. PS453.

54 P. Oxy. 3004 l. 121, cf. PS650 (‘Generosity thinks herself always blessed’), Vit. Aes. 110.

55 PS68, PS78, PS581; PS90, PS143, PS243, PS370, PS570 (on pity; several of these imply that pity is a form of insurance, either because it pacifies the poor or because it counters hybris); PS147 (moralizing).

56 PS225.

57 PS57, PS591.

58 PS103, PS517.

59 PS563, PS571, PS578.

60 Ad Dem. 27–8. Lenaerts 1975: 95–6. Cf. Ad Dem. 38 (P. K¨oln 7.308), Ad Dem. 49 (Muller and Poethke 1980), Ad Nic. 1 (PSI 11.1198, Keil 1884: 596), Nic. 49 (PSI 1.16).

61 PSI 2.120.

62 PSI l.12.

63 PS590, ep. 94.28 (Aen. 10.284), cf. Liv. 1.9.3, 4.37.7, 5.19.8, 8.29.5, Ov. Fast. 2.782, Plin. ep. 6.16.11, Tac. Hist. 4.17.

64 Ep. 7.32 (Xen. Mem. 2.1.31).

65 PS83, PS96, PS546.

66 PS263.

67 Notably four instances of adoxia and eudoxia in P. Oxy. 3004. The same text preserves all our mentions of charis in the gnomic papyri, all but one, which I cited above, too fragmentary to put in any context.

68 Ad Dem. 49 (Muller and Poethke 1980).

69 Bartoletti 1966 fr. A no. 2, Hesiod. PS75 prefers glory to wealth: ‘Men’s good opinion is a safer thing than money,’ cf. Ov. Am. 1.10.48. Money must be used wisely: PS82, PS86, PS96, PS158, PS254, ps.-Sen. De mor. 58.

70 MPER 3.24.12, cf. PS304; PS240 complains that maintaining one’s reputation is hard work, while ‘unless one gains new praise, even the old disappears’ (PS333) and ‘he whom reputation has once destroyed can hardly be restored’ (PS572).

71 P. Oxy. 79. Nobility is a virtue with which one bears whatever happens to one in P. Oxy. 3006.7. Cf. PS263, PS268.

72 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.19, PS279, cf. PS272, PS322.

73 PS109, Pintaudi and Sijpesteijn 1989 ostrakon 5, cf. PS542.

74 PS380.

75 Ad Dem. 38 (Muller and Poethke 1980).

76 Ad Nic. 11 (P. Erl. 8, P. Goodspeed 1, P. Koln 6.253, Lenaerts 1989a: 210–15).

77 8.5.3 (Cic. Pro Lig. 12.37).

78 Ad Dem. 2 (P. K¨oln 7.308). Cf. Ad Dem. 11 (P. Rein. 2.79, P. Ross. Georg. 1.16); Nic. 58 (P. Rainer Cent. 22 breaks off just at the beginning).

79 Nic. 60 (P. Erl. 10).

80 P. Oxy. 3006.11.

81 Plu. Mor. 778c quotes an unknown comic poet, ‘Gracious kindness brings men the greatest joy.’ Cf. PS635, PS690.

82 PS488, PS548, PS443, cf. PS436, PS519, PS523, PS637.

83 PS476.

84 P. Oxy. 3006.10, cf. Sen. ep. 108.11: ‘The man who desires little, needs little. He who can desire only what is enough, gets what he desires.’ (Pall. Incert. Fab. 65, 66 Ribbeck).

85 P. Oxy. 3004.8.

86 PS269, PS596, PS534.

87 P. Oxy. 2661.14.

88 P. Oxy. 3004.6, cf. PS462. Publilius says that ‘the ungrateful teach people to become mean’ (350).

89 PS44, PS61, cf. PS308.

90 PS315, PS63, PS140, PS246, cf. PS170, PS250, PS413, PS531, PS604.

91 P. Oxy. 2661.2, cf. PSI 2.120.48–9 (with comments on the text by Messeri 2004: 341–53 and especially Funghi 2004: 381–401), PS332.

92 PSI 2.120.47.

93 PS58, PS714, cf. PS324 (quoted by Sen. ep. 108.11), Hor. ep. 1.2.46, ps.-Sen. De mor. 45.46.

94 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.9.

95 Cribiore 1995, editor’s translation, cf. PS287 (‘envy is silently but hostilely angry’).

96 Vit. Aes. 110.

97 PS356, PS267, PS189.

98 BS: 33–4. See Dorandi 2004 on the Epicurean affiliations of this papyrus and related inscriptions; Messeri 2004: 359–61 makes some helpful comments on the fragmentary text.

99 P. Oxy. 2661.3.

100 Pintaudi and Sijpesteijn 1989 ostrakon 5.

101 PS4.

102 Ad Dem. 1 (P. Lugd. Bat. 25.15).

103 Ad Dem. 20 (P. Koln 7.308, Muller and Poethke 1980). In the mid-twentieth century, the similar English sentiment, ‘Be civil to all, but familiar with few,’ could often be found hanging on the walls of homes and shops.

104 Bartoletti 1966 fr. F, Phoen. 499–500, 515–17.

105 Op. 25. E.g. Philostr. Vit. Soph. 544 (substituting ‘rhetor’ for ‘carpenter’), Lucian Pisc. 1, Plu. Mor. 92a (as an example of bad behaviour), 473a. ‘How fortunate the life which passes without hatreds,’ says Publilius (599).

106 Ad Nic. 27 (Keil 1884).

107 PS173, cf. PS549.

108 Ad Dem. 24 (Muller and Poethke 1980), cf. PS41, PS134.

109 I quote them in what I hope is a logical order rather than the order in which they appear, to capture their train of thought. On the significance of the (dis)order of texts like this see Chapter Ten, below.

110 Inappropriate laughter is chastized elsewhere, e.g. P. Oxy. 2661.10: ‘Untimely laughter leads to weeping.’

111 Cf. PS54. [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 26 goes further, advising Demonicus to ‘consider it equally disgraceful to be outdone by your enemies in doing injury and to be surpassed by your friends in doing kindness’, (Muller and Poethke 1980).

112 PS209, PS27 (the untrustworthy).

113 P. Iand. 5.77.3.

114 PS300.

115 P. Lond. Lit. 253.

116 PS576, cf. PS592.

117 PS7, PS687, PS688.

118 Goodspeed 1905, Pap. Flor. 21.28, Pap. Flor. 21.30.

119 PS211, cf. PS356.

120 Vit. Soph. 542 (Il. 9.312).

121 Ad Dem. 10. (P. Rein. 2.79, P. Ross. Georg. 1.16) cf. PS175.

122 Gnome 8.

123 Gnomai 11, 17, 22; cf. [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 14 (P. Lund. 1.3, Muller and Poethke 1980), Nic. 49 (PSI 47–51).

124 PS2 (and Sen. ep. 94.43), PS59 (literally, ‘unjustly asks for it’).

125 PS64, cf. PS71, PS73, PS245 (cited by Gell. 17.14.4, cf. 1.3.30).

126 PS93, PS202, PS631. Reciprocity can be of harm too: ‘The remedy for harm is to harm the doer’ (PS334, cf. PS379, cf. Sen. De ira 2.11.4, ps.-Sen. De mor. 61).

127 PS491, cf. PS515, PS551, PS683 (where remembering is called the ‘interest’ on the gift).

128 PS541.

129 PS91, PS582, PS535, PS104, cf. PS65, PS351 (?).

130 Od. 9.34, D. Chr. 44.1, Lucian Patr. enc. 1.

131 Sim. fr. 67 (Bergk), Mor. 784c.

132 PS664, PS680.

133 PS685, PS696, cf. PS185 (on the desirability of helping one’s patria), PS732 (injustice to the innocent puts the whole state as it were in exile).

134 PS705, PS182.

135 PS377.

136 PS674.

137 PS621.

138 PS326, cf. PS334, PS407, PS665.

139 PS513 (cf. Veget. De re milit. 3 pr., D. Chr. 1.1), PS148.

140 PS159.

141 PS733.

142 PS142, PS106.

143 Ep. 3.8 (Hes. Op. 24).

144 PS10, cf. PS522.

145 PS277, PS533, cf. PS113, PS205. By way of disincentive, Publilius claims that what bad men do soon fails (117).

146 PS357.

147 PS192.

148 PS214, cf. PS184.

149 PS643, PS531, cf. PS241, PS319.

150 PS344, PS345 (the law), PS514 (one’s children), PS311.

151 PS695, PS230, cf. PS66, PS127, PS550, PS624.

152 PS87, PS88, cf. PS289 (quoted by Sen. ep. 94.28).

153 PS288 (the quotation ends, ‘. . . but your enemy for a long time’).

154 P. Oxy. 3006.16.

155 Bartoletti 1966 fr. F no. 18, Philemon.

156 [Isoc.] Nic. 46. Conversely, intelligence makes bad men worse (PS33).

157 P. Bour. 1 gnome 6.

158 P. Iand. 5.77.

159 Kenyon 1909 col. 3. ll. 10, 12.

160 P. Lond. Lit. 253, cf. PS70.

161 PS60, PS177.

162 PS320, PS124, PS151, PS155, PS162, PS163, PS624, PS130, PS125.

163 PS352, PS403, cf. PS390, PS651.

164 PS141, PS575, cf. PS579.

165 Bartoletti 1966, Epangellomenos, cf. PS84 (good ideas may fail but they do not die, cf. Liv. 22.39.19), PS76. Though one must not delay too long (PS140, cf. Liv. 35.12.3).

166 P. Oxy. 2661.15, cf. PSI 4.280.

167 PS7, cf. PS102, PS167, PS520.

168 PS697.

169 PS422.

170 PS471. Valerius Maximus is unusual among authors of wisdom literature in attributing it explicitly to the whole Roman people, and this (ironically) is probably one of his less ‘popular’ features. Below, pp. 137–8.

171 PS3, PS594, cf. PS459, PS555.

172 PS398.

173 PS447.

174 PS43, cf. PS227, PS298, PS547.

175 PS512.

176 PS112, cf. PS187, PS425, PS458, PS500.

177 Brashear 1986.

178 Petr. 46.

179 [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 40 (P. Oxy. 1095, 1812, Shelton 1981).

180 [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 15 (P. Koln 7.308).

181 [Isoc.] Ad Nic. 21 (Keil 1884).

182 PS247 (close to Z5.72, cf. Apul. De mag. 18, Ov. Ars 2.43).

183 PS649, cf. PS722 (one can be born wise), PS605 (take advice from a senior), PS703.

184 PSI 9.1093.

185 E.g. Lucian Salt. 81, Plu. Mor. 36a, 49b, 65f, 116d, Epict. Ench. 1.2.5–11, 2.10.10–13, 3.22.108; Wilkins 1917.

186 BS l. 16.

187 BS l. 18, cf. PS40, PS77, PS110, PS137. Versions of this very common saying appear at Liv. 30.14.7, Sen. ep. 71.36, 90.35, 113.30, ps.-Sen. De mor. 82.

188 Milne 1922 l. 7.

189 P. Oxy. 3006.22, BS 1.17, PS290. Cf. PS290, cf. Plu. Mor. 233d: you must rule yourself before you can rule anyone else; PS50, cf. PS51, Brashear 1986; P. Bour. 1, gnome 16; P. Ross. Georg. 1.12. See further below, pp. 204–6.

190 714d–16c (Messeri Savorelli and Pintaudi 1997: 174–7).

191 Milne 1922 l. 8.

192 P. Oxy. 2661.4, cf. Vit. Aes. 109. According to a gnome from second-century Oxyrhynchus, ‘The farmer tames the earth, the philosopher, nature. It is necessary for men who intend to become good to exercise the body with gymnastics, the mind (psyche) with words (logois).’ A link is implied here between education in words – above all rhetoric, but also perhaps literature – and the mind. Ps.-Isocrates too is concerned with the contribution of education to regulating the mind and temper (Ad Dem. 21 (P. Koln 7.308); cf. Nic. 29).

193 PS122, PS210.

194 PS193, PS416, cf. PS451.

195 PS437, PS316, PS670, PS309, PS266, PS32.

196 PS684 (close to the proverb cited by Sen. ep. 22.1, ‘for a gladiator to take advice in the arena’).

197 PS558, PS684.

198 PS472.

199 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.4. Free speech is an index of freedom in a state, according to Publilius (PS724, cf. PS165, ‘The tongue of a condemned man can speak, but has no force’).

200 BS l. 26, Plu. Mor. 801a. Cf. Quint. 11.1.30 (‘A man speaks as he is,’ cited as a Greek proverb).

201 Quint. 6.2.

202 Bartoletti 1966 fr. F no. 16.

203 Bartoletti 1966 fr. H no. 20.

204 MPER 3.24.1–2, cf. O. Claud. 184–7, four writing exercises with the same line written on them (= Men. Kith. fr. 10).

205 Bour. 1, gnome 24, cf. PS74.

206 P. Mich. 7.430.

207 P. Goodspeed 1905: 181–2; Pap. Flor. 21.28 (editor’s translation), Pap. Flor. 21.30, cf. PS150 (evil speech, even of an enemy, is wrong), PS216.

208 Milne 1922: II.

209 [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 30 (P. Koln 7.308), cf. Ad Nic. 28.

210 PSI 2.120.53–4.

211 PSI 2.120.50–1.

212 Milne 1922: 10, cf. Vit. Aes. 109–10.

213 Nachtergael 1991.

214 [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 41 (P. Oxy. 1095, 1812, Shelton 1981).

215 8.5.4 (Ter. Andr. 68), though (PS348) if you ask for an opinion, you must let someone speak freely.

216 PSI 2.120 l. 57.

217 PS101, PS486.

218 PS116.

219 E.g. [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 3–4 (Muller 1996).

220 Mor. 666d ff. (Andorlini 1996).

221 Mor. 155c–d (P. Oxy. 3685).

222 Stobaeus makes an interesting comparison; his picture is mixed but he includes many more positive quotations about wives than earlier Greek gnomologies. He quotes, for instance, a fragment of Dio Chrysostom: ‘Piety for a wife is to love her husband.’ (Stob. 4.23–59).

223 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.8.

224 Reitzenstein 1900.

225 P. Freib. 4.45.

226 P. Oxy. 2661.12–13.

227 P. Oxy. 2661.20, cf. P. Bour. 1, gnomes 9 (‘women and lionesses are equally savage’) and 23.

228 Milne 1923: 41.

229 P. Oxy. 3006.13.

230 PSI 2.120.33–5. Cf. the proverb D6.22.

231 PS529 (cf. PS36), PS108, PS492. This is not necessarily a difference between Greek and Latin texts: the Life of Aesop also recommends maintaining good relations with one’s wife, though it also calls women ‘rivals’ to their husbands (109).

232 PS584, PS392 (vanity), PS153, PS384 (manipulativeness), PS381, PS365, PS376, PS217.

233 PS6.

234 PS394.

235 Mor. 491c (Men. fr. 757 Kock).

236 PS478, PS22, cf. Liv. 9.4.16, Plin. Paneg. 40.3; D4.49 is also close in spirit.

237 PS18, PS42, PS31.

238 PS38, PS252, PS306, PS312, cf. PS16 (and very similar, Virg. Ecl. 8.108).

239 PS5 (will), PS15, PS131, PS307, PS314 (wisdom).

240 PS121, PS284, PS154 (angry), PS13, PS16 (suspicious), PS19 (tearful).

241 PS37. Cf. the proverb D3.63.

242 P. Ross. Georg. 1.12, Ad Dem. 16 (P. Koln 7.308).

243 Oikonomides 1980, cf. PS659.

244 Milne 1922 ostrakon 5.

245 PS8.

246 P. Oxy. 3004.4–7.

247 P. Bour. 1, gnome 10. This was not legally the case either in classical Athens, where it was coined, or in the Roman Empire, which raises the possibility of disputes between the law and family feeling.

248 P. Iand. 5.77.7, 9.  

249 PS123.

250 Ad Dem. 14 (P. Lund. 1.3).

251 Mor. 491a (Hes. Op. 707).

252 PS363, cf. PS366.

253 Maehler 1967 no. 7.

254 PS11, PS61, PS114, PS489, PS537, PS616, PS641.

255 109 (transl. adapted from Daly’s in Hansen 1998: 154). Aesop himself, of course, is a slave, but such an unusual one and so far from being oppressed by his state, that his dicta read more like the impartial advice of a wise man than the plea of an interested party. On the connection between the Life of Aesop and gnomai, see Luzzato 2003.

256 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.18.

257 P. Oxy. 3006.21.

258 P. Oxy. 3006.17.

259 P. Oxy. 3004.4.

260 P. Oxy. 3006.3. Cf. PS183, ‘Even those who do injustice hate it.’

261 P. Oxy. 3006.12.

262 Bartoletti 1966 fr. D no. 12, Antiphanes.

263 [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 18 (Muller and Poethke 1980), cf. Ad Nic. 17 (Schubert 1997).

264 [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 38–9 (Shelton 1981), cf. PS292.

265 PS663.

266 PS329.

267 PS439, PS516, PS587.

268 PS344, PS345.

269 PS293, cf. PS518, PS673, PS698 (‘A judge judges himself as much as the case.’).

270 PS296.

271 PS171.

272 Oikonomides 1980, [Isoc.] Ad Dem. 16.

273 PS98, cf. PS455, PS474, PS661.

274 Milne 1922: 12, cf. PS237 (‘A grave charge, even when lightly made, is damaging’).

275 PS709, PS729.

276 PS85, PS204.

277 PS455, PS557.

278 PS323, cf. PS291.

279 PS48, cf. PS466.

280 Milne 1908 ostrakon 7.

281 Ad Dem. 29 (Muller and Poethke 1980), cf. P. Oxy. 3006.4. In quotations about fortune, it is often hard to be sure whether or not it/she is being treated as a deity.

282 Pap. Flor. 21.27.

283 Contr. 1.8.16.

284 PS219 (fortune like glass), PS197, PS203, PS213, PS671, cf. PS255, PS280, PS335, PS602.

285 PS456, PS393, cf. Hor. Carm. 1.34.12–16, 3.29.49–52, Juv. 7.197–8, Ov. Trist. 3.6.41, Ov. Ex Pont. 4.3.35–6.

286 PS446, PS545 (remembering better times), PS222, PS525, though ‘There’s no fortune so good that you can’t complain about it’ (PS429).

287 PS253, cf. Curt. 6.6.27, Liv. 44.40.3, Petr. 82.

288 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.11, cf. PS699.

289 P. Schubart 20.

290 Bartoletti 1966 fr. E no. 14, Auletrides.

291 Bartoletti 1966 fr. D no. 11, Potamon.

292 PS648.

293 Bartoletti 1966 fr. C no. 11, Philemon.

294 PS656.

295 Pintaudi and Sijpesteijn 1989 no. 7.

296 Ad Dem. 34 (Muller and Poethke 1980). More mysterious is this from Bartoletti’s papyrus (a slightly garbled quotation from Euripides’ Hypsipyle): ‘O foolish mortal men, in vain they say that tyche exists but not the gods . . . for if tyche exists, there is no need of gods, but if the gods have strength, tyche is nothing.’

297 PS135, cf. PS169.

298 PS180.

299 Ad Dem. 49 (Muller and Poethke 1980, missing from the middle of P. Amh. 2.25, Bingen 1966: 340).

300 Bartoletti 1966 fr. D no. 12.

301 Bartoletti 1966 fr. D no. 13.

302 Bartoletti 1966 fr F. no. 19.

303 Petr. 55, cf. 120, 123.

304 1966 fr. E no. 15. Necessity also makes an occasional appearance (e.g. Kenyon 1909 col. 3. ll. 13, 20), as the teacher of men or nature.

305 PS415, PS411, cf. PS360, Hor. Carm. 1.24.19, Ov. Am. 1.2.10, Sen. ep. 107.9, ps.-Sen. De mor. 6, Virg. Aen. 5.710 (of fortune), also Sext. Pythag. III.

306 Oikonomides 1980, Vit. Aes. 109 (this continues, ‘honour the king, whose power demands the same honour as the god’s’).

307 Pintaudi and Sijpesteijn 1989 ostrakon 5.

308 Ad Dem. 13, 16 (P. Lund. 1.3, Muller and Poethke 1980).

309 Ad Nic. 20 (Keil 1884, Schubert 1997).

310 P. Oxy. 3004.20.

311 PS528, PS682.

312 Waddell 1932: 10.

313 P. Schubart 20.

314 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.18, cf. PS702 (‘Only the god brings punishment, though many plan it’); P. Oxy. 3006.17, 21.

315 PSI 2.120.49, 57.

316 P. Oxy. 3006.8.

317 PS331 (quoted by Gell. 17.14.4), cf. PS343 (very close to Z3.29).

318 1966 fr. F no. 20.

319 BS 1.

320 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.1.

321 PS336 (‘It is a universal law which orders us to be born and die’), PS478.

322 Ter. Heaut. 77, e.g. Plin. ep. 5.3, Sen. ep. 95.53, Juv. 15.140.

323 52.12 (fr. 788 Nauck), cf. Plu. Mor. 779d.

324 Mor. 10a, cf. 809b (fr. 68 Bergk); Plutarch goes on to say, though, that this leads to strife.

325 41.3 (Od. 18.130).

326 P. Oxy. 3006.2.

327 P. Iand. 5.77.2.

328 P. Koln 6.246.1–2.

329 P. Oxy. 3006.7.

330 Men. fr. 124 Kock, quoted by e.g. Plu. Mor. 119e, transl. Plaut. Bacch. 816.

331 Petr. 34.

332 PS257, PS95, PS67, cf. PS120, PS157, PS283, PS401, PS465, PS475. On the shortness of life (a very common theme) see also Hor. Carm. 1.4.15, Hor. Sat. 2.6.97, Juv. 9.126, Sen. Contr. 7.3.8, Sen. De brev. vit. 1.1, ps.-Sen. Mon. 112, Virg. Aen. 10.467.

333 Quoted by Quintilian (8.5.4), the first unknown, the second from Virg. Aen. 12.646.

334 PS430, cf. PS675.

335 PSI 2.120.29–31.

336 PS405, PS556.

337 P. Bour. 1 gnome 3.

338 O. Claud. 184–7.

339 Am. 25 (Eurip. Phoen. 529–30), cf. Plu. Mor. 73c (Eurip. Phoen. 528) ‘Not everything about old age is bad.’ On a more ambivalent note, Publilius says that a playful old woman is death’s darling and it is wrong to be greedy in old age (PS30, PS35).

340 Ad Dem. 9–10 (P. Rein. 2.79, P. Ross. Georg. 1.16).

341 P. Oxy. 3006.4, 8, 18.

342 P. Iand. 5.77.6.

343 E.g. Plin. ep. 7.3.

344 PS28, cf. Juv. 14.142, Ov. Ars 1.349, Sen. De ira 3.31.1.

345 Ad Dem. 32 (Muller and Poethke 1980).

346 PS561, PS435.

347 PS111, PS220 (endurance), PS573, PS310.

348 Mor. 101f–122a.

349 Brashear 1986 (three times), P. Bour. 1 gnome 1.

350 Cribiore 1995, written six times; editor’s translation.

351 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.7.

352 109 (even more than your parents, for whom your affection should be natural).

353 MPER 3.25.l.

354 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.2.

355 Pintaudi and Sijpesteijn 1989 ostrakon 7.

356 E.g. Ad Dem. 11, 36, Ad Nic. 12ff., Nic. 58–9, 61.

357 Ad Dem. 43 (P. Oxy. 1095, 1812, Muller and Poethke 1980).

358 Gell. 12.5.6.

359 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.3.

360 Kenyon 1909 col. 3.14.

361 P. Oxy. 3006.26.

362 Bartoletti 1966 fr. C no. 7.

363 Plu. Mor. 714d–716c (Pintaudi 1997: 174–7), MPER 3.24.8, P. Iand. 5.77.4, Vit. Aes. 109.

364 PS468, PS199, Vit. Aes. 109.

365 P. Oxy. 3006.5.

366 BS: 19–21.

367 Mor. 791d (Trag. Graec. Fr. ades. 410), Quint. 8.5.4.

368 PS337, Sen. De ira 2.8.1.

369 See below, pp. 171–2.

370 E.g. Chariton (1.4) echoes Menander fr. 290 (‘A man in love is naturally easily led’), changing its gender, and at 1.3 he may echo another saying of Menander. Romantic love is an important theme in Menander’s plays and it is probably coincidental that more of his gnomai on the subject do not appear in texts of this period.

371 PS244, PS261, PS669, PS706, cf. PS347, PS469, PS553, PS605, PS680, PS700.

372 Pp. 173, 228–30.
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[x]! Book Format, Authority, and Authorship in Ancient Greek Medical Papyri
by Nicola Reggiani

From Defining Authorship, Debating Authenticity: Problems of Authority from Classical Antiquity to the Renaissance
Edited by Roberta Berardi, Martina Filosa, and Davide Massimo
© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston


There is a force of exultation, a celebration of luck, when a writer finds himself a witness to the early morning of a culture that is defining itself, branch by branch, leaf by leaf, in that self-defining dawn.1

1 Introduction

The history of writing supports in Antiquity is crossed by a dichotomy between tablet-like formats (waxed tablets, metal leaves, wooden codices, parchment sheets, etc.), devoted to the recording of offhand writings (ephemeral annotations, restricted and sometimes sacred texts, transcriptions of oral discourses), and scroll-like formats (leather/papyrus rolls), devoted to fixing canonized writings to be preserved and transmitted through time.2 The passage to the latter is always framed by concerns about authenticity and authorship.

A religious concern for authenticity (and efficacy) led the Messenian priests to transcribe ancient and precious rituals, earlier recorded on tin foils, onto rolls, for the sake of preservation, as recounted by Paus. 4.27.5. [3] The same claim underlays -- according to C. Calame -- the dichotomy between cultic commentaries on papyrus scrolls, like the well-known Derveni roll, and 'practical' texts on golden leaves, used as 'manuals' for the Netherworld by the initiates in the Orphic religion.4 Even earlier, the big effort of the Athenian tyrants for transcribing (on leather [?] rolls) the oral Homeric poems is embedded with strong concerns about restyling the original oral text with propagandistic interpolations, thus re-creating a canon of authenticity5 that came down to the Alexandrian philological practice.6 Authenticity and authorship get so much embedded into the scroll-like format to be transfigured to myth and to generate the tradition about 'Epimenides' skin', according to which an alleged leather book roll containing the Cretan seer's oracles became to be considered as his own inscribed skin.7

Later on, the spread of the writing practice for 'publishing' a work in roll format becomes a brand of Sophistic authorship and of cultural authority,8 widespread in Classical Athens and criticized as such by conservative authors. The famous parody of the chresmologos in Aristophanes' Birds stages a self-styled seer, who answers every question insistently and irritatingly blaring [x] ('take the book!', five times in ll. 974-89), identifying the written roll with the utmost authority of oracular speech.9 Accordingly, Plato, who notoriously supported a non-fixed transmission of knowledge, mocks those who rely on the sole authority of 'books': [x] (Phdr. 268c2-4), 'They would say, I suppose, that that man was mad and, since he read something in a book or bumped into some medicine, imagined he was a physician, while he did not have any real knowledge of the art'.

2 Book Authority in Ancient Medicine

Plato's criticism introduces us to the much-articulated theme of book authority and book format in ancient medicine, with its close relationship with the issues of authorship. Medical science was, indeed, among those technical disciplines that were object of book divulgation within the Sophists' environment at the end of the 5th century BC;10 however, in technical/practical fields of knowledge such as medicine itself, based on continuous progress, individual experience, and personal/oral teaching,11 fixing a canon is senseless, and the claims for authenticity and authorship take different ways.

Hippocrates himself, the revered 'father' of western rational medicine, stressed that texts are fundamental, but must be evaluated and consciously utilized, relocating the focus from the authority of the books to the authority of their users: [x] (Hippoc, Epid. III 3.16.1-4), 'I consider the ability of evaluating correctly what has been written as an important part of the art. He, who owns knowledge of it and knows how to use it, will not commit, in my opinion, serious errors in the professional practice'.

Some six centuries later, Galen echoes him with the following statement:


'Therefore only the exercise and a detailed teaching do produce professionals; and for this reason it seems to me that people well say that the best teaching is that which takes place by means of the voice, and that from a book cannot emerge neither a good pilot nor anyone who practices any other art. The books indeed are a memorandum of what one has previously learnt and of what one already knows, not a complete teaching of what one does not know. Moreover, if someone -- and among them, those who do not have teachers available -- wants to read accurately the books written clearly and diffusely, like those written by us, he will take a great advantage of them, and above all if he does not hesitate to read them repeatedly'.13

The 'book', the medical writing, acquires authority from those who handle it, and not vice-versa. Accordingly, Galen claims the authenticity of two books of Hippocrates' Epidemics on the ground of the fact that they had been transcribed (onto rolls) from the latter's tablets (Gal. Diff. resp. 7.855.4-5 K.: 'two are of the great Hippocrates himself, and for this reason they were titled [x], from the small tablet).14 It is through such tablets, containing clinical annotations and therapeutic prescriptions, that medical knowledge was originally recorded and passed down.15 Before Hippocrates, they existed in the form of dedications in the healing god's temples such as the Akslepieia, with a focus on the healed person and the successful therapy rather than on its real 'author', being the god the alleged source.16 According to the tradition, Hippocrates took the medical tablets out of the Asklepieion of Cos and founded his medicine on them, thus starting a new model of textual circulation.17 The Corpus Hippocraticum is indeed unified under the authority of the 'father of medicine', but he is not the author of the entire collection, as everyone was and is aware of.

Though even the more elaborated treatises, conceived of as comprehensive reflections on specific topics of medicine, can be regarded as single steps of a 'work in progress', to which each generation adds its own contribution,18 the most significant witness as regards authorship and authority is what we can address as 'therapeutic literature' (recipes, prescriptions, collections of prescriptions). This is indeed shaped as the gathering of previous individual experiences, enriched by the compilers' personal engagement (and therefore we can find such a personal annotation as [x] 'you will not find anything better', in Hippoc. Mul. 1.78), thus producing a 'knowledge in progress', which undergoes further customized transmission and adaptations.19 The issue of authority and authorship gets more and more blurred, as any author could refer, for instance, to Hippocratic recipes for their authoritative efficacy, but without citing Hippocrates' name at all20 (on the contrary, literal quotes from proper treatises are usually introduced by explicit references). In a parallel and significant case, ancient Egyptian medicine produced written repertories of prescriptions and other practical notions, without mention of the compiler but with traces of personal re-use, in a technical practice that stressed the authority of the text more than of the author.21

3 Authority in the 'Therapeutic Literature'

Annotated evaluations of the medicaments' efficacy start appearing in Greek medical papyri from the first centuries of the Roman Empire onwards,22 reflecting a new trend in the medical practice: the exchange and swapping of single recipes or small collections of prescriptions among professional physicians, as attested in both literary23 and documentary24 records. This 'hunt' for the best or most exact medicaments (that we may summarize in the formula [x], mocking Aristophanes' chresmologos) introduces the need for, on one hand, pursuing authority as a synonym of efficacy and, on the other hand, maintaining the authorship of one's own 'products' (see below for the latter). Galen himself produced pharmacological books that are in fact collections of prescriptions taken from other 'authors' and compilers (the pharmacological compendiasts of the 1st century BC-1st century AD),25 and very often the memory of the original composer is retained in the medicament's name.

In the papyri, sometimes authority is given by the antiquity of the remedy, such as the 'ancient astringent' ([x]) in O. Bodl . 2.2181 1.3 (2nd century AD) and perhaps the [x], the remedy of 'the fathers', in PSI 10.1180r fr. b col. 21. 15 (1st/2nd century AD),26 but the most frequent expedient was to refer to the name of the author (either physician or pharmacist) of a particular prescription. Though this practice is sporadically attested already in the Ptolemaic age -- a collection of prescriptions from the 3rd century BC mentioning remedies 'of Mnason' ([x]), 'of Euedus/Euenus' ([x]), 'of Praxagoras' ([x]), and 'of Dionysius' ([x])27, it is from the 2nd/3rd century AD onwards that we find most of the instances.

Medicaments 'of Theodotus' (?) ([x]),28 'of Aphrodas' ([x]),29 'of Democritus' ([x]),30 'of Nikon' ([x]),31 'of Kollousis' ([x]),32 'of the queen' (i.e. Cleopatra) ([x]),33 'of Ioannes Lucius' [x])34 were undoubtedly famous, though what remains to us is a little more than a name, exhibited as a proof of prestige and efficacy in single recipes or collections of prescriptions. The extant pages of the famous 'Michigan Medical Codex' (P. Mich. 17.758, 4th century AD), a practising physician's working manual on a papyrus codex that includes personal additions and comments,35 record the 'authorities' of 'Azanites' [x] (folio Br I. 2), 'of Dionysios' [x] (folio Cr I. 8),36 and 'of Hygienus' [x] (folio Dr II. 4-5), while the second hand adds prescriptions 'of Heras' [x] (folio Er I. 5) and 'of Telamon' [x] (folio Er I. 9).37

This last example (Telamonios) shows a further step in marking the authorship of a medicament: the connection with its creator is so strong that the product is called with a derivative of the physician's name. We find three more attestations of this trend: [x] from Archagathus,38 [x] from Artemon,39 and [x] from Theodotos.40 Nevertheless, this was not a rule at all, as is shown for example by P. Scholl 1 5 (6th century AD), reporting an anonymous antidote that others call [x] 'of Philon.'41 This is explained by the fact that the formulations could be changed, adapted, customized by each individual physician, partly losing the connection with the original recipes. Such circumstances generated the second issue mentioned above, maintaining the authorship of one's own 'products' by means of stratagems like deploying an incomprehensible handwriting, symbols, more or less intentional alterations,42 to preserve some sort of 'authorial primacy' (or 'copyright', so to say) in a fluid environment without canons of any kind.

4 Conclusions

In general, and to sum up, in the 'therapeutic literature' authorship and authenticity are stressed not at the book level, but at the level of each single prescription, transmitted and collected as one fragment of a fluid and ever-changing knowledge.43 This made the tablet-like format particularly fitting as the recipient of texts 'in progress'. Recipes usually circulated in papyrus tickets/sheets or parchment 'notebooks' and subsequently were very often collected in codex formats,44 which are open to collections, annotations, additions, modifications, updates, making the concepts of 'authority' much more fluid and unstable, towards the definition of a 'multi-authorship', and stresses once more the importance of the book format for the transmission of texts and for the definition of their authenticity/authorship. Even when the prescriptions are transcribed in papyrus roll, there is room for previous and subsequent textual revisions. This is the case, for instance, with P. Berl. Moller 13, the remains of a roll from 4th-century AD Hermopolis Magna, which is a free elaboration of Heras' recipes as preserved by Galen, with a space left blank likely for further additions or annotations by the user.45 A case like Onomacritus', who was banned by the Athenian tyrants because uncovered while forging some oracular texts to be collected in a written edition,46 was not conceivable anymore.



1 From D. Wolcott's 1992 Nobel Prize lecture, quoted in Hirsch (1995) 307.
2 Cf. Reggiani (2010), Reggiani (2018), and Reggiani (2020). Consequently, as I discuss in the  cited contributions, the 'book revolution' at the end of Antiquity (i.e. the rise of the book in the  codex format) consists in the change of purpose of the tablet-like format, which was then used  to record and transmit canonized writings. Unless otherwise stated, translations are to be  considered mine.
3 Cf. Henrichs (2003) 245-7.
4 Cf. Calame (2011).
5 Cf. Aloni (1984) and (2006) 101-18. On the writing support of the Homeric poems cf. Irigoin  (2001) 8-19, and (2009) 9.
6 On the cultural activity of the Alexandrian library see recently Berti/Costa (2010) and forthcoming,  with earlier bibliography.
7 Cf. Reggiani (2019b).
8 It was a 'culture of the book' as a means of 'popular' knowledge, promoting a new and different  type of fruition of texts, exemplified by Isocrates' words [x] (Antid.  193.5; cf. Santamaria Alvarez [2008] 65-71). The book, apart from facilitating a practice of more  and more private and repeated reading, became the main means of 'publishing' philosophical  and rhetorical teachings, recovering the traditional meaning of the roll as authoritative writing  but translating it into a proper editorial practice. The importance granted by the Sophists to the  'written word' is very likely due to the inadequacy of orality for their didactic activity; as teachers  of political virtues they seek the power to control the logos and to discuss in an effective  way. Their interest for the texts is mostly devoted to word plays, rhetorical virtuosity and erudite  show, but also to real analyses of language (cf. Scollo [2013]). On the 'editorial culture' in  late Classical Athens cf. Turner (2001) 16-24 and Kleberg (2002) 27-30.
9 Cf. Baumgarten (1998) 42-43; Dunbar (1998) 547-50: Henrichs (2003) 216-22.
10 Cf. Gemelli Marciano (2009).
11 Cf. Andorlini (2018) 15-18.
12 Gal. Alim. fac. 1.1 = 6.480.3-12 K.
13 cf. Roselli (2002) 36-43.
14 cf. Manetti/Roselli (1982) 167; Reggiani (2018) 131-2.
15 cf. Perilli (2007).
16 Strab. 8.6.15; cf. Angeletti (1991); Girone (1998); Gregis (2017); Reggiani (2018) 130-1.
17 Cf. Reggiani (2018) 129-30 with earlier bibliography.
18 Hippocrates himself, in the incipit of his treatise De diaeta (1.1), dealing with the philosophical foundations of medicine, treats the medical science as a progressive knowledge: [x] ('If I thought that any one of my predecessors to  write on human regimen in its relation to health had throughout written with correct  knowledge everything that the human mind can comprehend about the subject, it would have  been enough for me to learn what had been correctly worked out by the labours of others, and to make use of these results in so far as they severally appeared to be of use. As a matter of fact, while many have already written on this subject, nobody yet has rightly understood how he ought to treat it. Some indeed have succeeded in one respect and others in another, but nobody  among my predecessors has successfully treated the whole subject. Now none of them is  blameworthy for being unable to make complete discoveries; but all are praiseworthy for attempting  the research. Now I am not prepared to criticise their incorrect statements; nay, I have  resolved to accept what they have well thought out. The correct statements of my predecessors  it is impossible for me to write correctly by writing them in some other way; as to the incorrect  statements, I shall accomplish nothing by exposing their incorrectness. If, however, I explain  how far each of their statements appears to me correct I shall set forth my wish. These preliminary  remarks are made for the following reasons: most men, when they have already heard one  person expounding a subject, refuse to listen to those who discuss it after him, not realising  that it requires the same intelligence to learn what statements are correct as to make original  discoveries. Accordingly, as I have said, I shall accept correct statements and set forth the truth  about those things which have been incorrectly stated. I shall explain also the nature of those  things which none of my predecessors has even attempted to set forth ' (transl. W.H.S. Jones).
19 Cf. Reggiani (2018).
20 On the Hippocratic tradition in the Greek papyri from Egypt cf. Andorini (2018) 105-16.
21 The reference is to Papyrus Ebers, a 16th-century BC catalogue of recipes (loosely arranged  by disease) and clinical cases, collected along with anatomical sections to serve as a reference manual for practicing physicians. Marginal annotations, added by the user, record the physician's individual experience ('really effective'). On Papyrus Ebers see recently Scholl (2002). Updated bibliographic references (up to May 25, 2018) are available at the following link: <http:/; on the marginal additions cf. Andorlini (2018) 16 n. 5.
22 Cf. Lang (2013) 180 n. 164.
23 Gal. Comp. med. sec. loc. 1.1 = 12.423.13-15 K.: [x] 'This medicament, written as it is, has been found by our colleague Claudianus in a folded parchment, having its user died'; Indol. 33-5: [x] 'The recipes of all these medicaments were safely kept in two folded parchments that one of the heirs, a great friend of mine, spontaneously gave me without asking him. This was the first stroke of luck that put the medicaments at my disposal, and listen to the second one. When I came to Rome for the first time [ ... ] [x] I found a fellow citizen and student of mine, Teuthras, who lived in the city, and who had received the parchments of physician Eumenes, who was from Pergamum as well, loved the medicines, and was richer in medicines than the other doctors. Such parchments were gathered in one [scil. notebook] from all over the world, so to say, thanks to his continuous travels [ ... ]. From such preparatory annotations, if someone was in possess of an extraordinary medicine, I obtained it easily, giving two or three similar recipes in exchange'.
24 P. Mert. 1.12.13-24 (AD 59, letter from Chairas to Dionysos): [x]. 'You sent me two copies [scil. of recipes], one of Arcagathus' plaster, the other of the cicatrizing one. Archagathus' one is correctly composed, while the cicatrizing one lacks the dosage of the resin. Please let me know of a strong cicatrizing medicament that can heal without risk the soles of the feet, since I need it urgently. As to the hard one, you wrote me that there exist two types of it: please send me the recipe of the dispersing one; indeed, the tetrapharmakon is hard as well'.
25 Essential reference to this matter is still Fabricius (1972). For the papyrological evidence of this tradition cf. Andorlini (2018) 226-9.
26 Cf. Andorlini (2004) ad loc.
27 SB 8.9860, respectively at fr. a col. 1 I. 1 and fr. b col. 4 I. 8; fr. a col. 1 I. 17; fr. b col. 2 I. 1; fr. b col. 3 I. 4. Cf. Tsoukalas (1962) ad locc.
28 PSI 10.1180r fr. b col. 2 I. 5 (1st/2nd century AD). Cf. Andorlini (2004) 115 ad loc.
29 SB 24.159171.19 (2nd century AD). Cf. Reiter (1997) 811-2 ad loc.
30 GMP 2.5 col. 6 I. 12 (2nd/3rd century AD). Or Damocrates: cf. Hanson (2009) 98 n. 40.
31 BGU 3.953 I. 1 (3rd/4th century AD).
32 GMP 2.8, verso (5th century AD). This mention acts as a docket tag on the back of a prescription. The name can be a variant of [x] cf. Mitthof (2009) 140 ad loc.
33 P. Ant. 3.127 fr. 5b II. 4-5 (7th century AD) if it is not Bacc[ou), cf. Andorlini (2018) 89-91; perhaps also PSI 10.1180r fr. b col. 2 I. 22 (1st/2nd century AD) if it is not [x] 'royal' (Andorlini [2004] 116 ad loc.).
34 P. Ant. 3.127 fr. 2b II. 3-4 (7th AD). Cf. Andorlini (2018) 88-89 also for the attestations of this source in Galen and the connection between Galen and the papyrus tradition.
35 Cf. Ann Hanson's introduction to Youtie (1996).
36 Perhaps the same as SB 8.9860b mentioned above. The reference is accompanied by the citation [x] indicating the 'second book' of said physician as the source for the following formulation.
37 Cf. Youtie (1996) ad locc.; Andorlini (2018) 6. On Azanites (attested also in Oribasius) cf. also Andorlini (2018) 93-94.
38 P. Mert. 1.121. 14 (AD 59), see above. Cf. Andorlini (2018) 26.
39 PSICongr.XXI 3 col. 2 I. 9 (1st century BC); the same name is attested in Gal. 4.7 (12.780.7-11 K.).
40 P. Haun. 3.47r = SB 18.13310, II. 1 and 4 (2nd century AD); the same name is cited also by Gal. Comp. med. sec. loc. 4.8 (12.754.10-18 K.), Celsus Med. 6.6.6, Marcellus Empiricus 8.15 Niedermann, Alexander of Tralles 2.51 Puschmann, and Paulus of Aegina 7.16.26 Heiberg. Cf. Youtie (1985).
41 Paul. Aeg. Heib.; Orib. Syn. ad Eust. 3.182.10-11.
42 On the peril of the transmission of prescriptions, see Gal. Antid. 1.5 = 14.31.10-15 K.: [x], 'Some prescriptions are transcribed badly, because some people alter them purposely when they give them to those who requested them, while others move away from the copies received; and indeed, of the books kept in the libraries, those containing the symbols of the numbers (scil. for the dosage) are easily forged'. See also Gal. Comp. med. gen. 4.7 = 13.726.5-17 K.; cf. Andorlini (2018) 34-35. Elsewhere, Galen says that the parchment recovered by his colleague Claudianus (see above) was written very badly, almost in symbols. For incorrect transcriptions see also Chairas' letter in the Merton papyrus cited above.
43 Cf. Reggiani (2018) and (2019a).
44 See Reggiani (forthcoming).
45 For details see Reggiani (2018) 138.
46 Hdt. 5.90.2 and 7.6.3-4. Cf. Baumgarten (1998) 48-52. 
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Postby admin » Wed Dec 14, 2022 2:20 am

Part 1 of 6

Was Europe's First Advanced Civilization Faked? The Secret of the Phaistos Code.
A Film by Michael Gregor
Writer and Director: Michael Gregor
Odyssey - Ancient History Documentaries
Oct 21, 2022

The Minoans have long been considered Europe's first advanced civilisation. However, a group of sceptics are now throwing that assumption into question.


This channel is part of the history hit Network.





[Narrator]They are among the masterpieces of our past.



But what is genuine,


and what is fake?


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] I found to my shock that so many pieces that, in my opinion, were ancient, were not ancient.

[Narrator] These works of art were found by ambitious archaeologists.


Arthur Evans excavates the Palace of Knossos.


He makes sensational discoveries, and raises money for new excavations.


And, he's knighted by King George V.


In contrast, Luigi Pernier excavates at Phaistos, and he doesn't find anything really spectacular.


Funding threatens to dry out, until he is able to present the Phaistos Disc,


the oldest written artifact in Europe.


[Dr. Alessandro Greco, Archaeologist] It was an incredible achievement of Pernier. He managed to excavate the entire palace in just a few years.


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] It was for glory and for cash.


[Narrator] Evans and Pernier have brilliant restorers


at their side: Gillieron, father and son.



Did this quartet reinvent our past?



A Film by Michael Gregor


[Narrator] In 1900, Arthur Evans starts work


on Excavating the Palace of Knossos.


The British archaeologist has purchased a piece of land near Heraklion for this purpose.


Evans is clearly interested in more than just archeology.


Prestige back home is also important to him.


He quickly produces some spectacular finds.


Evidence of an ancient high culture which had previously only been described


in myths and legends. According to the ancient tales,


the labyrinth of Knossos was home to the Minotaur,


half-man and half bull, who lurked there waiting for human sacrifices. Evans is thrilled by the discovery. And for him, there is no doubt that the ruins of a magnificent culture


will now re-emerge on the island of Crete.


The Empire of King Minos in ancient times,


symbolizing luxury and abundance.



Meanwhile, in the south of Crete, Italian archaeologists have rediscovered the Palace of Phaistos.


For them, in this period of nationalism, the reputation of Italian archeology is at stake.


[workers speaking in foreign language]

Just as Arthur Evans did in Knossos,


the chief excavator, Luigi Pernier, is determined to find something unique.


And Pernier achieves his aim.


Today, in the Cretan capital Heraklion, his disc forms the main attraction for visitors to the National Museum, an icon of Minoan culture comparable to the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin.


However, dissent can be heard to this very day. Some people claim the Phaistos Disc is a hoax.


But if that is true, who could have been involved?


The British archaeologist had the experienced restorer


Emile Gillieron, at his side. And the popular image we have today of Minoan life is due to Gillieron's work under Evan's supervision.


But was it really like that? Today, experts are critical of Gillieron's methods.


Emile Gillieron's staggering career begins in 1877, when the Swiss man arrives in Athens. The city is undergoing an astonishing revival during this decade.


Now that Greece is independent from the Ottoman Empire,


wealthy citizens are investing in education and the arts.


In the shadow of the Acropolis,


a millionaire, who is later to achieve great fame, has a magnificent villa constructed.


Heinrich Schliemann made a fortune trading in golden arms.


Now he plans to make a dream from his youth come true by rediscovering Troy and Mycenae,


the cities of Homer's heroes. The young Emile Gillieron hopes to find employment with Schliemann. Schliemann tests his abilities.


At least, this is the story that has come down to us. The archaeologist presents Gillieron with three fragments from a fresco, and demands nothing less than a reconstruction of the entire picture. At first Gillieron is bewildered, but then Emile produces a sophisticated reconstruction from his own imagination. He draws a charioteer with a spear. Schliemann is delighted. "That's what it must have looked like!" But then Gillieron suddenly sketches a temple guard. What's more, this isn't the last draft. He carries on producing various alternatives, until the irritated Schliemann finally hires him.


After Schliemann's death,


Arthur Evans has Gillieron brought to Crete. Evans has experienced a stroke of good fortune. Not long after starting the excavations, he made some significant finds. Now the fragments need to be reconstructed. Emile Gillieron can carry on in Knossos in the same way that he worked for Schliemann.


His son accompanies him to Crete.


The young man is also called Emile. The island is a paradise for archaeologists. Emile Jr. trains his eye on classical structures which have just been excavated,


and on the expressive faces of the locals. It becomes apparent that young Emile has inherited from his father not only a talent for drawing,


but also entrepreneurial skills. And a certain unscrupulous attitude when dealing with the truth, as later critics will claim.


Gillieron is quite prepared to make his employer a hero, if that's what he wants.


Emile Jr. draws incessantly, neatly, and with an obsession for detail. Years later, he will take his father's place in the team that is tirelessly excavating Knossos.


For four decades, father and son Gillieron, dominate the image of ancient Crete that has become known worldwide,


and is still popular today, despite its discrepancies that "of a paradise island, in the midst of the wine dark sea, a fair land, and a rich beget with water," as the poet Homer proclaimed.
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Postby admin » Wed Dec 14, 2022 2:21 am

Part 2 of 6

The French Archaeological Institute in Athens


is a meeting point for artists and scientists. Its director is Alexandre Farnoux.


Only a few days ago, the archaeologists gained access to the former private archives of the Gillieron family, so he can provide an expert evaluation.

[Alexandre Farnoux, Director, The French Archaeological Institute in Athens] This is the order book of Gillieron Senior.


It's the original form of the catalog used by the Gillierons to offer copies of the archaeological finds. This book contains all the important objects


discovered during the excavations,


complete with photographs of the restored pieces, and explanations.


Here, for example, it says "vase from Pylos" documented by the former German archaeologist Muller. Then it states the size of the vase, and price.


[Narrator] For a long time, archaeologists were only able to provide reasonably accurate depictions of the original archaeological finds


with the help of illustrators, who sketched them and used watercolors. So, Gillieron Sr. is in the right place at the right time, and with the right people to develop his talents to the full. He has to capture the shades of color, and the intensity,


precisely at the moment of discovery.


The skillful illustrator quickly finds an artistic mode of expression for the style of Bronze Age Crete.


At least the way his boss Evans pictures the Empire of King Minos.

[Prof. Alexandre Farnoux, Archaeologist] This is a drawing by hand


made directly from the original of the Fresco.


With the outlines of the excavated fragments, and the additions that Gillieron has suggested in order to recreate the picture.


The Minoan tradition of bull-leaping, involved acrobats racing straight towards the animal and jumping over it.


This dangerous practice was part of the religious cult rituals, and could end in death..

Europe and the USA quickly became gripped by Cretan fever. The newly-discovered works of art


inspire artists and fashion designers, although others dismiss it all


as merely a kind of archaeological fantasy-land.


[Prof. Alexandre Farnoux, Archaeologist] The Gillierons produced drawings as if on a conveyer belt, which they then embellished with watercolors. Here's the famous detail from the "Procession Fresco."


It was a kind of exercise in graphics,


which was then reproduced and sold everywhere in Europe.


[Narrator] The Lily Prince is a revealing example of Gillieron's working method.


Gillieron simply reinvented the figure.

[Prof. Alexandre Farnoux, Archaeologist] In the case of the "Lily Prince Fresco",


we now know precisely that it has in fact been composed from completely different frescoes.


Gillieron did it because that's what Evans wanted in order to illustrate the Minoan Empire.



And we experts are still impressed by it, even though the background is much better known today.


[Narrator] Arthur Evans continues to excavate.


Utterly convinced that he has a mission to perform, Evans hardly appears bothered by scruples.


Non-Minoan architecture is simply disposed of.


He names ruins at the palace but his sole discretion.


When an alabaster throne is found, Evans immediately declares it to be the Throne of King Minos,


although there is no evidence of the throne's function,


or even of the existence of King Minos.

He doesn't have to wait long to achieve recognition back home. King George V Knights him.



Luigi Pernier has far greater difficulties to deal with. In the south of the island where he is excavating, the coastline is bleak and uninviting. The early archaeologists here have to be good climbers, because many of the sites are in remote valleys,


or on high mountains, where access is extremely difficult.


Beyond the mountains lies the Libyan sea.


This ocean connected the Minoans with the developed cultures of the near East and Egypt, but it also provided protection against foreign invaders.


Professor Diamantis Panagiotopoulos has been studying the history of Crete in this area for decades.


His arduous expeditions along dusty tracks have proved worthwhile, because away from the major palace complexes,



there are many cult sites that have still hardly been subject to expert investigation.


The mountains along the coast were always a bulwark. In the past, they held back invaders intent on attacking Crete.


While today, they make it difficult for curious travelers to make any progress. The inhabitants of Crete have always formed a closed community towards strangers.


At the same time, anyone who wants to excavate here could hardly make any progress


without local assistance.


The Greek Professor from Heidelberg has many friends on the island. The knowledge they share with him has been passed down from generation to generation. Countless caves lie hidden in the mountains.



In many cases, the entrances are only known to shepherds.


The Cretans have always regarded caves as sacred places. Gods were born in them,


including the father of all the gods, Zeus.


Archaeologists still come across surprising finds in these sacrificial sites. Double-sided cult axes made from bronze or gold.


And bare-breasted priestesses in clay. Or are these representations of goddesses? They provide fuel for the myth that Crete was a matriarchy, a society governed by women.


Professor Panagiotopoulos's excavation site is at the edge of the mountains above the Messara Plain. Today, many of the locals are leaving the area.


A large number of villages have been abandoned. However, during the Minoan period


there was a flourishing settlement here on the hilltop. The remains have been excavated and studied.


[Prof. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos] What interests us is the question,


"Why a certain region was of great importance at some periods in history, while in other periods it was abandoned?"

[Narrator] It is not due to the climate. This has hardly changed on Crete over the last 4,000 years. And yet, after the decline of the Minoan culture, Crete never again achieved the importance it had enjoyed during its golden age.

[Prof. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos] Crete is still a puzzle for us archaeologists, even 100 years after the first major discoveries at the beginning of the 20th century.


It's pretty amazing that a developed culture arose here, which could justifiably be compared with the great cultures of the orient.


[Narrator] For thousands of years, the fertile soil of the Messara Plain has been a source of prosperity. This was the basis of both the cultural development and political power.


Crete is on the crossroads of ancient trading routes. Since the Cretans had a large fleet of ships,


trade with people all around the Mediterranean flourished. This was how the first major culture of Europe arose, with its population established early on in centers such as Knossos and Phaistos.



And Phaistos is where the greatest puzzle of the Minoan empire was found. Luigi Pernier's disc.


[Dr. Alessandro Greco, Archaeologist] Italian archeology on Crete began in a very special historical situation. Greece had achieved independence from Turkey in the middle of the previous century. Then Crete was divided into several protectorates: Italian, French, and British. It was due to this environment that archaeologists from Italy were able to work without any obstacles.


These early archaeologists, like Luigi Pernier, had to explore Crete on the back of donkeys. They had to struggle against malaria, and other unimaginable difficulties.

[Narrator] In the year 1900, when Luigi Pernier lands on Crete,


the island is still officially ruled by the Ottoman Turks. At that time, the idea that the first High culture of Europe had once blossomed here, appears unbelievable.


And yet, Pernier discovers evidence of this past everywhere.


During the Roman period, the Messara Plain was ruled from Gauteng.


Here is the Great Code [Gortyn Code], the oldest legal text in Europe. This was rediscovered by Federico Halbherr, a leading Italian archaeologist. Originally Pernier worked for him.


This find was to make Halbherr famous.
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Postby admin » Sun Dec 18, 2022 10:09 am

Part 3 of 6

In Phaistos, Luigi Pernier is at first only the deputy on excavations led by Halbherr. Pernier is regarded as extremely ambitious.


He is descended from a family of Roman Aristocrats with French roots. His opportunity arises when Halherr becomes involved in a political intrigue.


The affair leaves Pernier the new boss in Phaistos. He prepared for his mission


at the famous Sapienza University in Rome, studying literature and archeology.


Today, the linguist and archaeologist Alessandro Greco teaches here.


[Dr. Alessandro Greco, Archaeologist] During the period from 1800 to 1700 BC, Crete was a cultural focal point. This was known as the New Palace period, when the major structures were built whose ruins can still be seen today.


[Narrator] It was in these palaces


that archaeologists found clay tablets with what became known as Linear A script. And despite decades of research, to this day


it has not been possible to decipher this written language.


Alessandro Greco is therefore obliged to try a different route. He is analyzing all visual information that has been found so far,


in order to gain knowledge about the religion, social structure, and everyday life of the Minoans. His main problem here is that virtually


all authentic images are only available in miniature format.


[Dr. Alessandro Greco, Archaeologist] We don't know who's depicted here. Is it a king, or queen, a prince, or a God? And we don't know how their minds worked.


[Narrator] Even the visual language of the rings is still puzzling. The function is known.


They were used by rulers to place their seals on documents and letters.


At Heidelberg University, Professor Diamantis Panagiotopoulos is evaluating his series of excavations.


He occupies the famous Chair of Classical Archeology here.


The Practical work of an archaeologist


includes analyzing and archiving the finds. In Heidelberg, a scientific mega project is being performed


involving 130 experts from 13 countries. This is the famous Corpus of Minoan and Mycenaean Seals, a gigantic collection of data, including hundreds of thousands of photographic negatives


and 9,000 prints from clay seals.



[Prof. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos] It's a collection of the most varied materials, forms, and above all patterns in the images on clay seals, which provides us with a wealth of extremely important information about the social structures, ideologies, and mentalities of these societies. Of course, there are a number of signet rings which cannot be guaranteed in terms of authenticity.


We compare these problematic examples with seals from systematic archaeological excavations,



objects which have been proven to be authentic.

[Narrator] The work of these experts often resembles the proverbial search


for a needle in a haystack. The collection also contains a ring with an inscription



that has not been deciphered. The spiral shape in script form resembles that of the Phaistos Disc.


Does this ring indicate that Pernier's mysterious clay disc is genuine?


One of the problematic examples is the Ring of Minos,


which has been suspected for many years of being a forgery.


Arthur Evans bought the gold ring from a priest, although many experts warned him against doing so.


Today, the Ring of Minos is in Heraklion Museum. If it really is a modern forgery, who might the forger have been? In this case too, the name of Gillieron is on the list of main suspects.


Were the Gillierons engaged in forgery for decades? Final proof is contained in the Heraklion Museum, but it cannot be accessed.


The British archaeologist and linguist Gareth Owens has made Crete his second home. The focus of his research is on early scripts from the Minoan period, like the disc. The Phaistos Palace complex exerts an almost magic attraction over him.


[Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, Linguist] The Minoan civilization of the second millennium BC is based around the palatial economy. And the palaces like we are here in Phaistos is the center of bureaucracy and religion.

[Narrator] Gareth Owens knows every inch of the ruined palace. For decades he has studied each detail here,


such as the so-called Queen's Throne Room.


Pithoi like this were used to store the commercial wealth of the Cretans. To this day, traditional urns are produced from clay as they have been for thousands of years.


The craftsman in the ancient palace workshops became masters of this art, and their reputation even reached as far as the court of the Egyptian pharaohs, who ordered clay vases and silver bowls from Crete.


[Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, Linguist] The Minoan palaces and the economy of Crete


is based very much on agricultural products. Very excellent olive oil and wine, still very good today indeed.


They were keeping it here in the storerooms. They were exporting throughout the Mediterranean very widely indeed, traveling throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Very, very international. The first palace was very rich, destroyed about 1700 BC, which is probably the date of the Phaistos disc,


and it's no surprise that writing is developed in this southern part of Crete.


[Narrator] This first palace at Phaistos was constructed in 1900 BC. 200 years later, a huge earthquake caused it to collapse. The doors and ceilings were made of wood, and they were set on fire by the flames from the oil lamps. It must have been an inferno.



Although the building has been constructed in a special way, it could not withstand the massive earthquake.


The fire spread at incredible speed. The inhabitants fled in panic, but nevertheless many did not survive.


The entire palace complex was ruined.



[Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, Linguist] The Phaistos Disc is part of that destruction horizon, importantly, deliberately baked. Not accidentally baked, like the destruction level that saved the other linear tablets. It was actually found with a linear tablet, and with really nice Kamares-style pottery. And this part of the palace seems to be for storing valuable objects.


[Narrator] It was found lying together with numerous other artifacts, indicating to Pernier that the disc


had fallen from one of the upper stories. But attempting to reconstruct the catastrophe scenario raises new problems.



How could a fragile clay disc survive a fall of several meters, and crash down onto a hard stone floor without any apparent damage?


A crucial question that neither Luigi Pernier nor his successor in Phaistos, were ever able to answer satisfactorily.



In New York, Jerome Eisenberg deals in ancient artifacts. This internationally renowned specialist has spent decades studying items to establish whether they are genuine, or forgeries.



[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] It's been fired very thoroughly, very evenly.


And the only time ancient tablets were fired was during a fire, and they'd be unevenly fired.


And the edges are very, very sharp. And you wouldn't have any ancient tablet, anything made out of clay with sharp edges, that could easily be damaged.


It had too many things wrong with it. If you have two or three things that don't make sense, I can accept it. But when you have eight or nine different things that are wrong with the piece, then I certainly would condemn it as a forgery.


[Narrator] If Eisenberg's suspicions are correct, it would mean that Luigi Pernier falsified the exploration record. However, it is also conceivable that he himself was tricked. To this day it has not been established exactly


who was present at the excavation when the object was found.


Alessandro Greco thinks it inconceivable that Pernier himself faked the object.



[Dr. Alessandro Greco, Archaeologist] It was an incredible achievement of Luigi Pernier's,


to excavate and even evaluate the entire palace within the space of just a few years.


[Narrator] In addition to his excavation activities, Luigi Pernier was also employed in Florence as an antiques inspector.


His jurisdiction included the city's archaeological museum.


Finds from the Etruscan period have pride of place in the collection here.


The Etruscans were among the most powerful people around the Mediterranean. Paola Rendini is a specialist in a Etruscan script.


In the magazine, Dr. Rendini and the museum director study one of the most valuable items,


the Magliano Disc. It represents one of the most important examples of Etruscan script. Today, the 70 words can be read, while in the days of Luigi Pernier this was not possible.


At eight centimeters in diameter, it is half the size of the Phaistos Disc.


The words and sentence sections are separated by dots,


while on the Phaistos Disc, vertical lines are used.



[Dr. Paola Rendini, Archaeologist] It was found at the end of the 19th century in 1882. The Archaeological Museum in Florence bought it in 1888.


It's an extraordinary object because the disc is made of lead. It measures 8x7 centimeters. This isn't very large, but it contains one of the oldest examples of Etruscan writing known to us. Near the location where this was found,


an Etruscan cemetery was discovered with even older graves, from the late 7th and early 6th Century BC.


[Narrator] This cult object originated a thousand years after the palace fire in Phaistos.


Cultural exchange between Etruscans and Minoans would appear extremely unlikely.


Consequently, the great similarity between the two discs is inexplicable.



However, while he was working in Florence, Luigi Pernier could have studied the Magliano Disc extensively before he discovered the Phaistos Disc in Crete.



As far as Jerome Eisenberg is concerned, this is a crucial clue.


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] It has many unique characteristics it. It has nothing to do with any other work of ancient art. Physically, it's the only large disc that's found in the Near East or in the Mediterranean area.


Nobody can decide what it is, and where it came from.

Evidence for suspect authenticity:

1) peculiarity of the object
2) punctuations at beginning/end of lines and at various heights
3) abbreviations not elsewhere attested
4) dimensions not corresponding to ancient units of measurement
5) seriality

The genuineness of the object is, in my view, challenged by at least four elements -- or rather five -- which I was able to detect after an accurate inspection. First, its peculiarity. In fact, this tablet does not belong to any of the well-known categories of the so-called instrumentum inscription. It is not a Tabla Lusoria -- a game board. It is not a Tessera hospitalis -- a hospitality token, nor a Tessera Nummularia -- a bronze tag for money changers. It is not a Signaculum, a stamp, because it is not written in reverse order, and it has no handle. Likewise, it is not a label to be attached to an object, because it is written on both sides. And it was not tied to an object, since it has no hole. And so it is quite impossible to define the typology of this artifact, which for the sake of simplicity, we shall simply call a "tablet." The Second point: its punctuation. Punctuation marks are located at the beginning and at the end of the lines at various heights, and this is not how the Romans usually punctuate their texts. Third, the sequence of single letters on the back cannot identify with any of the abbreviations commonly used for Latin epigraphy in the early Imperial times. And Fourth, the dimensions and the weight of the object do not correspond to ancient Roman units. And this is quite a strong argument, in my view, in favor of the falseness of these objects.

Indeed, to these four considerations one might add one final point, that of seriality. Seriality and repetitiveness can often be identified as markers of forgery. Forgers often fabricated more than one sample of their counterfeit products, which may now be inadvertently considered to be genuine artifacts in different parts of the world. For instance, in archaeological museums. So, of course, there are inscriptions which were produced in more than one copy in ancient times, but generally speaking, one should always be cautious when identical, or even slightly different texts, can be found on different physical objects  

-- Epigraphic Criticism and the Study of Forgeries: A Historical Perspective, by Lorenzo Calvelli

[Narrator] One of Pernier's successors at the Italian excavation site in Phaistos, also finds the disc extremely puzzling.


[Dr. Alessandro Greco, Archaeologist] The disc is a unique object, with a unique inscription, for Crete and the entire Eastern Mediterranean. It's a script that features open syllables,


like ka-ke-ki-ko-ku, or ta-te-ti-to-tu. It probably originated In Crete, because all other Cretan scripts, such as linear A and B, are also the open syllable type.
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Postby admin » Mon Dec 19, 2022 9:26 am

Part 4 of 6


[Narrator] In the Heraklion Museum, the disc is the main attraction. It is 3,600 years old, according to the museum.


The inscription is said to be a prayer, a record of battles, or an archive register.



What is known for certain is that the disc has a diameter of 16 centimeters,


and is stamped with 45 different symbols arranged in a spiral from the outer rim to the center,


forming a total of 242 stamped impressions.


[Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, Linguist] Too many signs for an alphabet. Too few signs for a system like Chinese or Egyptian.


So what we decided to do was to try to progress with systematic epigraphic work. So if a sign is the same in different scripts, it has the same sound value.


And those 45 signs, the sound values can be found amongst the 90 sound values of Linear B, which is a script of roughly the same time, from the same place, which has been deciphered.


[Narrator] While the linguistics expert believes there may soon be a breakthrough, Jerome Eisenberg sees examples of suspicious errors.


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] This inscription basically goes from right to left,


as in Egyptian hieroglyphs. On the other hand, Minoan script a Linear A and Linear B are read from left to right.


These are all too highly realistic to be in an ancient script. This is an interesting symbol.



This is a gloved hand, or a caestus in Latin, which only occurs in the Roman period,


which is about 1500 years later. They just don't make sense together.


[Narrator] If Jerome Eisenberg is right, how could the forger have achieved this?


It must have been somebody familiar with classical script types.


Obtaining the raw material for the clay disc wouldn't have been a problem. There are potters close to Phaistos. If the price were high enough,


they would have remained silent.


Luigi Pernier had access to the excavation records, and might have desired the fame for himself,


and for Italy. Whether he had the necessary handicraft skills to produce the forgery himself is doubtful.


While the spiral pattern almost looks as though it was produced by a child,


the symbols were printed with seals molded in a sophisticated process. Jerome Eisenberg believes Pernier commissioned the work at most.


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] It was said that Gillieron was present at the time the disc was discovered, and that Pernier was not, that he was probably taking a nap.


[Narrator] The exact circumstances when the Phaistos Disc was found can't be established definitively.


No archaeologist was a direct witness. It may be significant that the Gillierons


are once again directly implied in archaeological forgery.



Did their greed overpower their moral scruples?



Evidence of the Gillierons' salesmanship can be found in the Humboldt University in Berlin.



The archaeologist Nadine Becker, is researching


the purchase of artifacts by the university during the pre-war period. The Wincklemann Institute is proud


of its lavishly-made copies from the Gillieron workshops. They are objects of study for experts and students, all in original sizes,


like the throne of King Minos. These exclusive replicas came at a price. Catalogues, purchase orders, and correspondence


with the Gillierons have been preserved to this day in the archives.


Original invoices and customs documentation indicate the astonishing sums the Gillierons demanded, which were paid by the buyers.


Using a process which was technically revolutionary at the time, the metal copies were produced


by a galvanoplastic method in the Wurttemberg Metalware Factory, WMF.



The Gillierons sold the exclusive items to their international customers for outrageous prices.


But the Gillierons did not only place replicas on the market.



Experts at the renowned museums of Boston and Toronto,


have also found indications of criminal activities.


[Speaker 1] The museum purchased her in 1931.

[Speaker 2] She's a beautiful piece of work, isn't she?

[Speaker 1] Sir Arthur Evans called her "Our Lady of Sports."


[Speaker 2] You know, another interesting thing here is the fact that she's wearing this gold codpiece.



Now that codpiece, in fact, is a penis sheath.


[Speaker 1] Oh! Not quite appropriate.


[Speaker 2] Not entirely appropriate.


And it's also interesting that the majority of the ivories that turned up, you know, early in the 20th Century AD, are female figures. And this is because Sir Arthur Evans was very much looking for representations


of a prominent female deity, this mother goddess.


And that's probably why he called her "Our Lady of Sports,"


because it's a direct reference to the Virgin Mary.


[Narrator] The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


Here too, an ivory figure from the Minoan period was part of the collection -- until recently.


It has now been banished to the archives.


Quite a comedown for the "Snake Goddess."


[Speaker 2] So what made you suspicious?


[Speaker 1] Especially strange is the damage to her face.


The proper left side, you can see, has kind of sheared away. And ivory flakes. This is what ivory does. But the features that survived there are centered on what survives. But if that damage took place after the carving, rather than before the carving, what survives should be asymmetrical, or damaged.


The scientific analyses are quite interesting.


And I was really surprised when they came back. If the statuette is ancient, the ivory should date to about 1450 BC. When the results came back, they were really surprising, because they did come back at 1450,


but AD, not BC. So the ivory that was tested, if not a corrupt sample, is far too recent to be ancient Minoan ivory.


[Speaker 2] So who do you think made her?

[Speaker 1] Well, it would have to be someone who is very familiar with the archaeological material. I believe that the father-son team,


the Gillierons, who worked for Evans, and had a very profitable business in making replicas,


were well-positioned to create forgeries like this.

Art plays a special role in tellings of the myth of matriarchal prehistory. This is in part because the most compelling evidence of matriarchal prehistory for contemporary feminist observers is that of prehistoric female figurines. But art is attractive for reasons beyond its evidentiary power. It is an excellent medium for communicating mythic themes, and for reaching larger audiences. With this in mind, matriarchal myth has become the subject of museum exhibits, slide shows, glossy art books, and even "goddess cards" intended for divination or meditation. [23] Some of these media draw on feminist art of the past thirty years. in addition to the more typical fare of prehistoric "goddess" figures. This feminist art is itself a way in which matriarchal prehistory is communicated to a contemporary audience. For example, Monica Sjoo's painting God Giving Birth, first exhibited in London in 1968, consists of a large woman, face half-black and half-white, in the act of childbirth, her child's head emerging from between her legs. This painting initially touched off a storm of controversy, which only encouraged the production of art pieces expressing similar themes. Increasingly, this art has incorporated images from archaeological sites believed to date to matriarchal times. This trend was already evident in 1982, when Helene de Beauvoir painted her Second Encounter with the Great Goddess, in which a naked woman holding a snake in each hand is positioned alongside the prehistoric Minoan "snake goddess" (see Fig. 2.1).


FIG. 7.25 Faience female figures from Knossos, Crete, c. 1600 BCE. The figure holding the snakes in front of her is 34 cm tall; the one holding the snakes in the air is 20 cm tall without her head. Neither was found intact, and both were reconstructed under the supervision of Sir Arthur Evans, the site's first excavator.

What captures feminist matriarchalists' imagination more than all else, however, is elegantly-crafted figurines of the Minoan "snake goddess": a bare-breasted woman holding snakes in each of her hands (see Fig. 7.25). Feminist matriarchalists have devoted extensive attention to interpreting this figurine (which is unmatched in number of modern reproductions by any save the Venus of Willendorf), as can be seen in this passage from Anne Baring and Jules Cashford's The Myth of the Goddess:
The open bodice with the bared breasts is eloquent of the gift of nurture, while the caduceus-like image of intertwined snakes on the belly suggests that the goddess whose womb gives forth and takes back life is experienced as a unity .... The trance-like, almost mask-like expression ... composes a meditation upon this theme of regeneration .... The net pattern on her skirt, which gathers significance from its Palaeolithic and Neolithic ancestry, suggests she is the weaver of the web of life, which is perpetually woven from her womb. Her skirt has seven layers, the number of the days of the moon's four quarters, which divide into two the waxing and waning halves of the cycle .... Although seven was also the number of the visible "planets," this is probably a lunar notation of series and measure, so that sitting in the lap of the goddess, as the overlapping panel of her gown invites, would be to experience time supported by eternity, and eternity clothed in time. For the goddess, by virtue of holding the two snakes, is herself beyond their opposition; or rather, she is the one who contains the two poles of dualism and so prevents them falling apart into the kind of opposition that our modern consciousness assumes as inevitable. [68]

Whatever their meaning, it is clear that the "snake goddesses" have been given a symbolic role out of proportion to their very modest number. Though this has been described as "a deity very popular in Minoan times," there are actually only two such figurines from the entire palace period in Crete, both uncovered from the same pit in the palace at Knossos. As Nanno Marinatos writes, one may as well "speak of a Lily, Goat, Lion, or Griffin Goddess." [69]

69. Hutchinson, Prehistoric Crete, 208; Marinatos, Minoan Religion, 276-77, n. 5. Part of the reason the "snake goddesses" have been given such an exaggerated importance probably has to do with the eager reception they received when they were first discovered (one served as the frontispiece for the first volume of Sir Arthur Evans's Palace of Minos, published in 1921), and the fact that at least one, and probably several forgeries were successfully sold on the international antiquities market to museums (see Butcher and Gill, "The Director," 383, 401).

-- The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future, by Cynthia Eller

[Narrator] Jerome Eisenberg feels this investigation confirms his views.


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] I attended an exhibition of ancient art in Boston, in Cambridge, and I was shocked at how many pieces, in my opinion, were forgeries. Between 1958 and 1965, I bought some 40,000 pieces, and of those some 22,000 came out of Egypt,


and I became rather expert on detecting the forgeries.


[Narrator] Are visitors to the museum in Heraklion


admiring a sophisticated forgery, as Jerome Eisenberg claims? However, recent archaeological discoveries could indicate that the disc is genuine.


A bronze axe is also kept in Heraklion.


On the head of the double ax there are three lines with overlapping signs engraved upon them. Linguistic experts like Gareth Owens


see a parallel here with the stamped symbols on the disk.


Gareth Owens and his colleagues have withdrawn to within sight of ancient Phaistos


in order to resolve the last mystery of the oldest script in Europe.


Now he believes he has finally achieved the breakthrough. He considers that the texts on the disc


can be deciphered and read.


[Researcher speaking in foreign language]


[Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, Linguist] What we have here is definitely a Minoan prayer, because we found these words elsewhere on Minoan Crete, as well. We have a Minoan prayer for a goddess.


My suspicion is that it could be the Minoan Astarte. And IQEKURJA, which is the key word on the Phaistos Disc,


could well mean pregnant goddess. IQE is known from Linear B to be the word for goddess.


And KURJA, kuria, could be the word for pregnant.


This wouldn't be surprising when we think that the words on the Phaistos disc were also found on the top of mountains where Minoan people were making dedications, tamata, to the goddess on the top of the mountains.


Another attribute of Astarte: she is the Queen of the Mountain.


[Narrator] Mount Juktas Towers over Knossos. The mountain is a magical place. It is said that the father of the Gods, Zeus, is buried here. For thousands of years, people have been attracted to the mountain peak, which, from a distance, resembles a sleeping man.


Gareth Owens also returns to this place repeatedly. On one side of the mountain, an orthodox chapel with three naves was constructed. Archaeologists then discovered that a sacred edifice with three naves


stood on the same site during the Minoan period, almost 4,000 years ago.


[Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, Linguist] It's fascinating to look at the offerings and think that what the Greek Orthodox people


are doing today is similar to what the Minoans were doing 36 centuries ago.


People don't change. They worry about the same thing. There is continuity. People are worried about their health, and they're asking a higher power for help. And some of the words that have been found


on the Minoan inscription, on the same holy mountain, on a very small libation offering that they were doing there, and they were dedicating with parts of the body, but at that time made from clay, not just from silver,


have also been found on the B side of the Phaistos disc.
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Postby admin » Mon Dec 19, 2022 9:27 am

Part 5 of 6


[Narrator] Not long ago, an apparently insignificant sacrificial bowl was discovered.


Linguistic symbols that had not been encountered previously are engraved on it. They are almost identical to those on the disc. A forger 100 years ago could not possibly have known these signs.



Does this mean the disc is now accepted as genuine?



[Dr. Alessandro Greco, Archaeologist] The Phaistos Disc is a problem.


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] The clay is not the same clay as found on Crete.


We don't know where the clay came from, because we don't have an analysis of it.


And the museum will not allow us to take any test on the disc, or even to handle it.


[Narrator] Berlin, the Egyptian Museum. Rumors have begun to circulate


that the bust of the beautiful Nefertiti is a forgery.


A scientific investigation will provide a definitive answer, despite the high risk of moving the precious object. With great care, and with extensive security measures in place, the highlight of the museum is taken to the Charite Hospital in Berlin.

Nefertiti Bust
Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung [Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection]
by Staatliche Museen zu Berlin [State Museums in Berlin]
Preussischer Kulturbesitz [Prussian cultural heritage]
Accessed: 12/19/22

Nefertiti Bust, Egypt, Tell el-Amarna, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1351–1334 BC, donated by James Simon © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung / Sandra Steiß

The Bust

“Life-sized painted bust of the queen, 47 cm high. With the flat-cut blue wig, which also has a ribbon wrapped around it halfway up. Colours as if paint was just applied. Work absolutely exceptional. Description is useless, must be seen. Counterpart to the bust of the king from p. 39. Only the ears a[nd] part of the r[ight] side of the wig damaged.”

This quote from the 1912 excavation diary is the first known description of the bust of Nefertiti. It was written by Ludwig Borchardt, who led the excavation at Tell el-Amarna, and has often been cited, above all because of the succinct passage: “Description is useless, must be seen”.

Description Is, in Fact, Useful

Although Borchardt rightly emphasised that the beauty of the bust can only be appreciated through first-hand observation, he himself undertook a description of it for the first detailed publication on the piece in 1923, 11 years after it was found. Even from our present perspective his words can still be considered authoritative. Borchardt first repeats the later famous entry in his diary, “description is useless, must be seen”, and then continues:
Today I would like to write the same again, as I am convinced that my words cannot portray the impression left by this work of art, and that even the colour reproduction […] does not clearly illustrate the vivacity and delicacy of the original, but only suggests them. […]

The preservation is astoundingly good. The erect portion of the cobra is broken off, as are two small pieces of the sharp upper edge of the wig on the right and left; on the left side a larger section of the plaster coating has flaked off; both ears are damaged, on the right some fragments have now been reattached. The inlay is missing from the left eye; since however no traces of a binding agent were detected in the eye socket, and the background is smooth and not in any way recessed so as to accommodate an inlay, it is certain that the left eye was never filled with an inlay. On the right shoulder as well a small piece chipped off; additionally, here and there scarcely noticeable scratches on the face, nose, etc. In several places traces of impure moisture, probably from rain water, which flowed contaminated through the already leaky roof and fell on the bust still standing on its shelf. […]

The muscles of the nape and sides of the neck are so delicately rendered that one imagines one sees them flexing under the delicate skin, which is rendered in a healthy hue.

Egyptian sculptors hardly ever attempted to express any emotion in the faces of their artworks [...], but this face is the embodiment of serenity and composure. Viewed from the front, it exhibits complete mirror symmetry, and yet it will be utterly clear to the viewer that he is not looking at some constructed ideal here, but instead at the stylised, though nonetheless thoroughly recognisable image of a specific person with a strongly striking appearance.

The subsequent descriptions of the details of the queen’s mouth, nose and eyes also reveal Borchardt’s enthusiasm for the beauty of the bust in vivid terms.

Even though Borchardt’s reconstruction of the model chamber and the purpose for which the busts were made are open to renewed debate from a contemporary perspective, his concluding commentary on the bust remains understandable to this day: “In any case, the finished and colourful portrait is the finest and most elaborate one I know.”

Nefertiti Bust, Egypt, Tell el-Amarna, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1351–1334 BC, height: 49 cm [19.29 in]; width: 24.5 cm [9.64 in] depth: 35 cm; material: limestone, painted stucco, quartz, wax; ref. no. ÄM 23100; find date: 06.12.1912; house P 47.2; room 19, donated by James Simon © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung / Sandra Steiß

Structure and Materials of the Bust

The core of the bust consists of limestone, over which a layer of stucco of varying thickness was applied for the final modelling. The consistency of the limestone as well as the thickness and the layer-by-layer application of the stucco were documented in CT scans produced in 2006 in collaboration with the Imaging Science Institute Charité – Siemens. These new scans provided several details not seen in previous images generated in 1992 at the Charité’s Virchow-Klinikum.

Egyptian Blue, Beeswax and Rock Crystal

What makes the effect of the bust so extraordinary, however, is above all its vibrant colours, which are unique in their state of preservation and which give the bust its extraordinarily lifelike quality. Without the painting and the inlaid eye the bust would still rank as a masterpiece of craftsmanship, but would have a completely different effect.

The paints used here are in keeping with the well-known spectrum of ancient Egyptian natural pigments, including red ochre, yellow orpiment, green frit and carbon black, as well as the artificially produced “Egyptian blue”, applied in a variety of shades, to create the queen’s skin tone, for example. The multi-layered application of the paint was documented with the highest level of accuracy in contact-free tests carried out by the Rathgen-Forschungslabor of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in 2009.

Nefertiti Bust (detail) © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung / Sandra Steiß

All these examinations underscore the absolute precision of the ancient Egyptian artists’ work, from the almost perfect symmetry of the facial structure to the extremely delicate individual hairs of the eyebrows, applied in cross-hatched lines. It is also notable, however, that the utmost attention was paid to attaining perfection in the face, while the collar was given a more superficial treatment.

The iris and pupil of the right eye were made of beeswax dyed black, covered with a thin piece of polished rock crystal as a cornea.

Nefertiti Bust (detail) © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung / Sandra Steiß

The Missing Left Eye

Immediately after the bust was found on 6 December 1912 Ludwig Borchardt ordered a search for the missing inlay from the left eye. In his initial publication of 1923 he notes:
[…] and in the left eye the inlay was missing. The debris, even that which had already been removed, was immediately searched, and some of it sifted. A few more fragments of the ears were found, but not the eye inlay. Only much later did I realise that it had never existed.

The definitiveness of this last remark in particular is the subject of critical discussion today. Nevertheless, we can safely assume that the eye inlay, if it ever existed, was not present at the time of discovery, any more than the gold leaf overlay from the bust of Akhenaten found in the same room, or the missing uraeus from the same sculpture.


The aforementioned examinations carried out by the Rathgen-Forschungslabor and the CT scans indicate that the bust is extremely fragile: there are air pockets between the limestone core and the applied stucco, which have been identified as highly vulnerable points. Portions of the painted decoration are also extremely fragile.

In addition, the rock crystal inlay must be considered highly sensitive. From a curatorial and conservational point of view the bust, like many other objects in the museum’s collection, has therefore now been classified as “non-transportable”.

Busts in Ancient Egypt

While we often encounter busts as a genre of portraiture from classical antiquity through the early modern period, they were seldom found in ancient Egypt. One reason for this may be that a bust, as a three-dimensional portrait of an individual that usually ends at the middle of the torso, is a “cut-off” and therefore incomplete representation. In ancient Egypt, however, it was extremely important that images appear complete and intact.

Nonetheless, a small number of sculptures that can be called busts do exist, primarily from the realm of ancestor worship. Aside from a few examples from the Old Kingdom (ca. 2570–2400 BC), busts appear relatively frequently from the Amarna period until the end of the New Kingdom (ca. 1350–1100 BC). Most of these can be assigned to the realm of private ancestor worship in the domestic sphere or in the context of burials, and are therefore often reminiscent of Egyptian death masks or the upper portion of a human-shaped sarcophagi.

The Busts of the Royal Couple

The few known royal examples include the bust of Nefertiti, which, as the excavator Ludwig Borchardt already quite rightly noted, is impossible to imagine without its counterpart, the bust of her husband. The bust of Akhenaten was found in the same room as that of the queen, but had been destroyed by iconoclasts.

Bust of Akhenaten, Egypt, Tell el-Amarna, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1351–1334 BC, ref. no. ÄM 21360, donated by James Simon © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung / Sandra Steiß

It was probably originally even more elaborate than that of Nefertiti: along with the painted decoration, evidence of gold leaf overlay has also been documented, and the inset head of the uraeus was made of precious materials. Both busts were certainly not intended for a funerary context, but instead probably served the veneration of the royal couple in a temple or palace.

Sculptor’s Model or Finished Artwork?

Ludwig Borchardt’s interpretation of the bust of the queen as a “sculptor’s model” has predominated among Egyptologists since the 1923 publication, and has only rarely been questioned. Borchardt writes:
Regarding the bust’s purpose it is hardly necessary to say anything. […]. Its cut indicates that it was not meant to be a separately fashioned part of a larger statue. The left eye socket, for which the inlay never needed to be made because the work was superfluous, as it would have been the mirror image of that in the right eye, is left empty; in short, everything clearly shows that the piece is a model.

Aside from the fact that Borchardt was unable to conceive of the sculptural form of the bust as an independent work of art, he lists the unpainted sides of the shoulders as the most important indication that this piece was intended as a model. Whether his final argument, the missing eye, can be taken as convincing proof of this hypothesis, however, remains an open question. Recent investigations have failed to provide conclusive evidence.

The Riddle Remains Unsolved

Since use of the bust as an autonomous sculptural genre is documented in ancient Egypt, the mode of representation alone cannot be cited as an argument for the bust of Nefertiti having been created as a model. Comparison with other plaster casts found alongside the portraits of Nefertiti and Akhenaten in the double chamber R. 18/19 provides further evidence. These 23 portraits, nine of which depict royalty, were left unpainted except for minimal black and red contour lines, and are clearly identifiable as sculptor’s models. The two royal busts in question, by contrast, seem to have been almost completely finished.

In addition, for a master of that period, a perfect application of paint as seen on the bust of Nefertiti would probably not have been regarded as necessary for a model. The colour palette for crowns, collars, and skin tone followed standardised norms, meaning there was no need for a template. Thus neither of the possible interpretations clearly outweighs the other, and the mystery of whether the bust of Nefertiti was intended as a model or was an (almost) finished work of art remains unsolved.

Nefertiti Bust, Egypt, Tell el-Amarna, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1351–1334 BC, donated by James Simon © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung / Sandra Steiß


Here, the bust of the woman



reputed to be the most beautiful of all,


is subjected to computer tomography.



The proof that is so important


for the Museum Island of Berlin is now forthcoming.


The world-famous bust is not a fake from modern times.


The risk and the expense have been worthwhile.


The museum Halle is also posed with a problem.


The Museum houses what it believes is a sensational object:


the Nebra sky disk,


a bronze disc adorned with representations of the heavenly bodies in gold.


This incredible find was brought to light by grave robbers,


and now there are claims that the disc could be a forgery.


An analysis using scientific techniques


will resolve the matter.


The extensive technical study is performed


in the BESSY particle accelerator in Berlin.


By employing high-intensity x-rays, the composition of the gold plating can be determined without damaging it.


In this way, conclusive proof is obtained:


the sky disc is the oldest known calendar of mankind.


What about the disc which is the main attraction in Heraklion?


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] On the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the disc, 1908 to 2008, I wrote again to the director of the museum,


and he said that that since it's a national treasure, it can't be touched or moved.


And if it turned out to be a forgery,


it would be a disaster for tourism even.


[Narrator] Year after year, millions of tourists come to the island of Crete. Tourism is the most important commercial activity,


securing half the entire income of the island. Knossos, Phaistos, and the museum in Heraklion, are huge public attractions,


important features of this mega-business.


Critical questions?


They're not welcome.


Thus it is that an air of suspicion continues to hang over the collection in the national museum.
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Postby admin » Mon Dec 19, 2022 9:28 am

Part 6 of 6


Is the beautiful world of the Minoans depicted here


a mere invention


thought up by Arthur Evans and Luigi Pernier,


put into practice by the Gillierons?

[Geraldine Norman] In Auvers, Vincent stayed in a little auberge [inn] run by the Ravoux family. He lived there for just over two months and is credited with having painted eighty-three pictures -- which means more than a picture a day. Some of them must be fakes, and were probably painted by the Gachet circle. Dr. Gachet was a painter, and so was his son Paul known as Coco. After he had shot himself, Vincent struggled back to the auberge mortally wounded.

[Dominique Janssens, Institut Van Gogh, Auvers-Sur-Oise] Adeline, the daughter of the innkeeper, had seen that he was [inaudible]. That's why she came up to his room to check what happened. And then they called the local doctor. And the local doctor didn't want to take care of Vincent, because everybody in the village knew it was Dr. Gachet who takes care for the painters. So Dr. Gachet came over, and then when he had seen there was nothing to do, he asked the neighbor, [Perchick?], to go to Paris to pick up Theo. So Theo arrived at about 12 o'clock, and at one o'clock in the morning he died here in his room. Now Dr. Gachet came over with his son, and he said to his son, "roll, Coco." Because the more he was rolling the paintings, the more he could bring them back home. And that's how he got a collection of paintings on Van Gogh, which are today in the museum at Orsay.

[Geraldine Norman] Dr. Gachet and his son seemed to have taken as many paintings as they could. Gachet specialized in mental illness and homeopathy, but had been a keen amateur painter since his student day. His home attracted many artists, including Renoir, Pissarro and Cezanne, who came to him for medical advice, and loved experimenting with his etching press. Dr. Gachet died in 1909, but his son lived on in the house, becoming more and more eccentric and reclusive. He never had a job, and seems to have lived off selling the pictures and antiques that his father had crammed into the house. One villager, who has devoted her life to the study of local history, is Madame Claude [Migon?].

[Madame Claude (Migon?)] [Speaking French] He wouldn't tolerate people coming to the house. Not even local tradesmen, or people interested in the works.

[Geraldine Norman] [Speaking French] How could he live like that? He had to eat!

[Madame Claude (Migon?)] [Speaking French] It's a mystery. Like many things in this man's life. He was truly his father's son.

[Geraldine Norman] He kept very quiet very quiet about the Van Goghs, until he made a series of donations to French national collections in the 1950s. His gifts, now in the Musee d'Orsay, include works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Pissarro, and Cezanne. He also gave the nation paintings by his father and himself. He signed his pictures, including copies of works by other artists, with the pseudonym Louis Van Ryssel. His father called himself Paul van Ryssel. The museum has reacted to the controversy by having the Gachet Van Goghs scientifically investigated, and announcing that they will mount an exhibition of all Gachet's donations to public institutions in the autumn of 44:30 1998. This is sure to spark another explosive argument.

[Dominique Janssens, Institut Van Gogh, Auvers-Sur-Oise] You have seen when you walk up to the cemetery, the countryside is exactly how it was a hundred years ago. Japanese, they don't come only to visit, but also to bring offers for Vincent. And certain days we just clean the cemetery. And you have lots of little pots of sake, brushes, and also a lot of Japanese who died in in Japan, their dream is to be buried with Vincent. So a lot of Japanese bring over the ashes here, and then they put it on the graves of Vincent and Theo.

[Geraldine Norman] The number of Japanese tourists who come to worship at the van Gogh shrine in Auvers, got a big boost when Yasuda bought the sunflowers in 1987. It will be a terrible disappointment to the nation if they discover their famous sunflower picture is not really by Van Gogh.

[To Tom Hoving, Ex-Director Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC] What do you think Yasuda is going to say if they actually have to face the fact that they are landed with a fake?

[Tom Hoving, Ex-Director Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC] Oh, I don't think they'll face it. I think they hope it'll go away. I do not think that the people in charge of the insurance company are going to let regiments of experts in to take it off the exhibition, and look at it, and maybe even do some analysis, and so on. I just don't think they're gonna do that. I think it would be a very great loss of face. I think the picture was purchased because the only other Vincent van Gogh in Japan prior to the United States firebombing of Tokyo, was a sunflowers, which was destroyed.

[Geraldine Norman] It is said that the painting was relined after its arrival in Japan, which may mean that important evidence has been lost.

We asked Yasuda if we could talk to them about this, and our views on the sunflowers problem. Yasuo Goto, the chairman of the company, replied, "We have no intention of participating in any discussion of sunflowers' authenticity, as we hold no doubts whatsoever that it is genuine. We also have no intention of answering the questions mentioned in your letter." I personally find it impossible to believe that the Yasuda sunflowers is by Van Gogh. There's too much evidence against it. It's not mentioned in the letters, or other early documents. It first appears in the hands of Emile Schuffenecker, whose name has long been linked with faking. And it is generally agreed that it is visually inferior to the other two. It does disturb me, however, that so many experts still think it genuine. They aren't talking to each other, and don't know each other's arguments. Which is why the muddle persists. If the experts, the Van Gogh Foundation, and Mr. Goto from Yasuda, could be persuaded to divulge what they know, the truth about the Yasuda picture could be found. Using secrecy to protect their reputations and huge investments just won't do. Christie's has both money and reputation at stake, and has opted for silence. They refused to be interviewed, and issued a statement saying, "We see no reason, on the evidence so far produced, to alter our original opinion that the sunflowers is an authentic work by Van Gogh."

[Tom Hoving, Ex-Director Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC] You don't ever get a concert of opinion in art. Very seldomly you get it. And so this, I think, will just kind of go on forever. And since it's not going to ever be for resale, does it matter?

[Dr. Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, Prof. History of Art, University of Toronto] Most of us who know Van Gogh -- and I think a lot of us do, or profess to know a lot about Van Gogh -- know that this very simple man, filled with great humility and compassion for mankind, saw these works as different legacies than financial ones. I think he would be horrified, and distraught beyond anything you can imagine, to see himself somersaulted to such tremendous value, and such crass commercialism. I think it would have been something that he couldn't have ever tolerated.

-- Is Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' A Fake?: The Fake Van Gogh's, narrated by Geraldine Norman, World History Documentaries

At one point, the Gillierons created


the "Saffron Gatherer" fresco from a few fragments. Further finds prove, however, that the figure depicted here


was, in fact, a monkey.


Jerome Eisenberg has no doubt at all about it.


The Phaistos Disc is a fake, and Luigi Pernier is a con man.

[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] He was in need of funds for excavation. Also, he wanted the glory of having discovered a famous piece.


So it was for glory and for cash.


Arthur Evans also complained that he always needed funds, and that his discoveries on Knossos


aided him to have rich people contribute money.

Hitherto in his search for Kapilavastu Anton Fuhrer had only had the clues contained in the Buddha Kanakamuni inscription on the Asokan pillar at Nigliva Sagar and the contradictory accounts of the location of Kapilavastu in relation to the Kanakamuni relic stupa provided by the Chinese pilgrims. Dr. Waddell had, of course, very obligingly published his belief that Kapilavastu was to be found seven miles to the north-west of Nigliva but Dr. Fuhrer had no wish to be seen to have acted on his rival's lead. Now, however, with the unambiguous identification of Lumbini Garden he now had two further sets of directions from the Chinese pilgrims to go on. Indeed, he would afterwards claim that 'the discovery of the Asoka Edict pillar in the Lumbini Grove enabled me to fix also, with absolute certainty, the site of Kapilavastu and of the sanctuaries in its neighbourhood. Thanks to the exact notes left by the two Chinese travellers I discovered its extensive ruins about eighteen miles north-west of the Lumbini pillar, and about six miles northwest of the Nigali [Nigliva] Sagar.'

But, of course, the Chinese did not leave exact notes, only conflicting ones. The reader will recall (see p. 92) that to get from Kapilavastu to Lumbini, Faxian had walked east: 'Fifty le east from the city was a garden, named Lumbini'. By Cunningham's method that would place Kapilavastu about eight miles west of Lumbini. Xuanzang (see p. 102) had reached Lumbini indirectly by way of the sacred spring south-east of Kapilavastu known as the Arrow Well, first walking south-east for 30 li and then north-east for 'about 80 or 90 li.' These directions placed Kapilavastu approximately fourteen miles west-south-west of Lumbini. Dr. Fuhrer's subsequent actions show that when faced by four sets of contradictory directions from the Chinese travellers he plumped for Dr. Waddell's advice, which was to look for Kapilavastu 'about seven miles to the north-west of the Nepalese village of Nigliva.'

Before being summoned to Padariya by General Khadga, Dr Fuhrer had planned to excavate at and around the site of the Buddha Kanakamuni pillars using the General's Nepali sappers. Indeed, he afterwards reported that he had done so, excavating down to the base of the pillar carrying the Asokan Kanakamuni inscription, which 'was found to measure 10 feet 6 inches in depth and its base 8 feet 2 inches in circumference; and 'still fixed in situ, resting on a square masonry foundation 7 feet by 7 feet by 1 foot.' But Fuhrer had come to Nigliva Sagar expecting to add real bricks to his so far imagined Kapilavastu and the equally imaginary Kanakamuni stupa -- instead of which he had been summoned to Padariya to witness General Khadga's momentous discovery of the Lumbini inscription. All might have been well if Anton Fuhrer had been allowed to return to Nigliva Sagar to do his excavating. But then the General dropped what amounted to a bombshell by announcing that he 'did not think any other operations feasible on account of the severe famine.'

There had indeed been very severe famine throughout the tarai country that summer and autumn, when the initial failure of the summer monsoon had been followed by the failure of the lesser October rains known as the hatiya. General Khadga was directing relief operations in the Western Tarai, for which he needed all the manpower he could get. It meant that he was removing the sappers that Dr. Fuhrer needed to make his case.

This was an awful blow to Dr. Fuhrer -- and not just because of his extravagant claims about Kapilavastu and the Kanakamuni stupa. The fact was that the very existence of the Archaeological Department of the Government of the NWP&O -- and, with it, his own post as Archaeological Surveyor -- was under threat, with rumours of severe cuts in the funding of the PWD circulating. Furthermore, after ten years of loyal service he was still on the same salary at which he had started: 400 rupees a month or about £400 per annum. A striking example of the value of his department and of his own worth was required -- which he duly provided.

On or about 20 December Fuhrer emerged from the Nepal Tarai to despatch a telegram to the Pioneer newspaper in Allahabad announcing a double discovery: he, Dr. Anton Alois Fuhrer, had found Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and he had found Kapilavastu, too, the city where Prince Siddhartha had been raised. The Pioneer ran its exclusive on 23 December 1896 and other newspapers quickly picked up the story, which was reported in the London Times on 28 December.

Five weeks later Professor Buhler gave his public support to Fuhrer's claims in a letter entitled 'The Discovery of Buddha's Birthplace' published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: 'Dr. Fuhrer's discoveries are the most important which have been made for many years,' he declared. 'They will be hailed with enthusiasm by the Buddhists of India, Ceylon and the Far East. ... The [Lumbini] edict leaves no doubt that Dr. Fuhrer has accomplished all the telegram [first published in the Pioneer] claimed for him. He has found the Lumbini garden, the spot where the founder of Buddhism was born.'

-- The Buddha and Dr. Fuhrer: An Archaeological Scandal, by Charles Allen

[Narrator] Arthur Evans was able to make his dream come true. For four decades, his very personal vision


of the palace of King Minos, grew on Crete.


He was working also for the fame of the British Empire. And by the end of his life,


he was able to call himself Sir Arthur Evans.



Even if critics dismiss Knossos as Disneyland, each year millions of visitors stroll around the structures made of plaster and concrete.


Today, however, some archaeologists advocate to dismantle Evans' Knossos.


[Alexandre Farnoux, Director, The French Archaeological Institute in Athens] Today, the Palace of Knossos is the way it is. And that's the way people imagine the Minoan world in the year 1900.


The reputation of the Gillierons deserves to be restored, because our way of judging the history of art


from a modern perspective, as if in a courtroom, and condemning it, is unfair. When it comes to any sort of scientific work, you always have to take into account the time of its creation.

German philosopher Karl Jaspers described science as methodical insight that is mandatorily certain and universal. It is the ethos of modern science to want to reliably know on the basis of unbiased research and critique....

Misconduct and fraud in science do not only offend against its inherent norms and rules summed up in the ‘scientific ethos’ but also make a mockery of its goals—namely gaining knowledge as profound as possible, which again motivates further research and can be practically applied. Scientists depend on cooperation with each other as well as on productive, constructive and trusting relationships with possible investors, users of scientific results—especially patients—and the general public. Trust and honesty is vital for any kind of successful research. Violations of good scientific practice do not only affect those directly concerned but also science and society in general, and, if permitted, we run the risk of undermining the public’s trust in scientific practice as a whole.

Despite numerous cases of research misconduct being made public, this issue is still a taboo topic among the scientific community....

It would be too narrow-minded to question only the individual integrity of the scientist. Very often, if we look into these seemingly isolated cases of research misconduct further, structures can be identified in scientific practice, which benefit such misconduct if not promote it....

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) proves that retractions of already published articles have become more frequent in the past 30 years. Between 1977 and 2011, 2047 articles were retracted in the fields of biomedicine and life sciences, with research misconduct being the most frequent reason for retraction. Twenty-one percent of the cases claimed unintentional errors as a reason for retraction, whereas 43% of the articles were retracted owing to ‘fraud’ or ‘suspected fraud’, which has increased 10-fold since 1975....

The average period between publication and retraction of articles was 33 months in all cases; it was highest in cases of ‘fraud’, reaching 47 months....Before retraction, many articles are frequently cited. Concerning articles published in highly prestigious journals (such as the Lancet, Nature Medicine, Cell, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine) and later retracted, between 234 and 758 quotations were counted for the period between 2002 and 2010. Thus, it can be assumed that the misconduct of the respective researchers has caused considerable harm to the scientific community....

Possible mistakes have to be differentiated from misconduct with intent and fraud. Characteristics of fraud range from plagiarism to the violation or assumption of the intellectual property of other authors and data forgery. What is considered as fraud is data misuse, the manipulation of results and their presentation, the independent invention of data, the concealment of undesired results, the disposal of original data, submission of false data, disturbance of the research of other scientists and deception. Fraud also encompasses active participation in misconduct of other researchers, joint knowledge of the forgeries of other authors, coauthorship of forged publications and the gross neglect of responsibility.

In 1998 the DFG published a memorandum on safeguarding good scientific practice. Good scientific practice implies to work ‘lege artis’, to always entertain doubt and self-criticism, to mutually check and examine results, to be accurate when securing quality, to be honest and to document and store primary data to ensure reproducibility. In research institutes and research groups, transparency of the organisational structure, unambiguous responsibilities, information, on-going training and supervision of staff and colleagues are part and prerequisite of good scientific practice. This also includes regulations for storing data, for the allocation of authorship, accountability and responsibility for observing the guidelines and regulations of dealing with possible misconduct....

Good scientific practice is first of all subject to the self-control of scientists within their community. Self-control seems to be reasonable, especially because, respectively, qualified scientists can themselves judge best, which results are plausible and which appear rather suspicious. However, the principle of self-control presumes that a scientific community is able and willing to control itself sufficiently. Especially in highly interconnected research—nationally and internationally—concerning complex questions and problems, trust is a crucial but fragile principle. In general, between cooperating scientists, research misconduct is considered impossible, and mistrust, a poor partner. Yet, the recently disclosed cases of research misconduct make it very obvious that self-control, if taken seriously, is a high demand placed on authors, which is very often limited by personal factors or by pressures linked to their university, institution and/or funding body....

The possible consequences of a violation against good scientific practice comprise labour law-related sanctions (e.g. warning, dismissal), academic sanctions (e.g. the revocation of an academic degree), sanctions according to civil law (e.g. compensation) and criminal sanctions (e.g. due to forgery). A revocation must be made and the subject matter must be set right. Violations against good scientific practice must be communicated to all cooperating partners, research communities, professional associations and to the public....

Considering the principles of science and the many cases of fraud recognised over recent years, the question of reasons for research misconduct is becoming increasingly topical. Misconduct does not simply result from poor character or the misjudgement of individual scientists. Although personal factors are certainly not irrelevant, the manner in which research institutions are organised must also be taken into consideration. No scientist can be a priori certain that he or she does not commit errors one way or another—even though unintentionally—or that he or she is not affected by the misconduct of others; however, prevention of research misconduct is becoming ever critical. The following arguments are addressed to explain possible reasons for research misconduct....

When wishing to make a personal career as a scientist and to increase the ‘success’ of one’s institution, one has to publish regularly, quickly and in high-ranking journals. Hence, scientific research is subject to high pressure, which is increased by financial incentives. If there is little success (i.e. only few publications or numerous publications but in lesser-ranked journals), it is unlikely that the career of the scientist will continue long term. One’s own research has to be successful in the sense of ‘publish or perish’ to guarantee a job and income in the future....

High competition for limited funds is generating more pressure on scientists to be the ‘best’, judged by the number of publications and the journals in which they are published....

Research not only fulfils one’s own ambitions as a scientist but also exterior demands for solving important questions for the future of our society. It also establishes and stabilises the so-called ‘research sites’.

The insights of science do not only have value within the field but also in a further reaching way for society and the economy. This is generally held true for countries like Germany, which is rather poor in natural resources but whose know-how is their most important resource in the globalised world....

The impetus for researching may go beyond interest in scientific knowledge; research also serves as a means of self-fulfilment, self-representation and not least the vanity of the agents. For the scientist, this development involves the danger of failing oneself and one’s own aspirations, since despite any highly specialised knowledge: Scientists are no better people.

Presently, we feel that communication between scientists is ‘disturbed’; self-control does not really work. High research activity and great dependency on external funding influence the culture of communication. This has had an effect on scientific journals over recent years, with an exponential increase in the number of publications, and also in the creation of new peer-reviewed journals.

Publication of articles is subject to the self-control of scientists. An article submitted for publication is usually assessed in the form of an anonymous review, normally by two independent scientists....The number of experts who are qualified for reviewing is limited, their time is limited, and in addition, regarding the present national and international research networks, their independence can no longer be guaranteed.

Despite there being a number of strategies and programmes for detecting plagiarism, their usage often exceeds the effort reasonable for those reviewing in an honorary capacity, which may result in a degree of unintentional incompleteness when reviewing....

A loss of a critical discussion culture harms the quality of research. Adverse factors conditioning misconduct can be observed at conferences and congresses....One can do nothing else but congratulate. Hardly ever are negative results or one’s own mistakes addressed. Our ‘togetherness’ finds itself in a rather care-free and positive atmosphere; arguments on a matter can seldom be found. What is thus not promoted is dealing critically with research results....

The appreciation of authors whose effective part in the respective article is limited or minor becomes a disadvantage if they become unaware accomplices, even in individual cases of research misconduct. Being accepted in the context of many experts promotes one’s reputation and career; however, this way of thinking might be damageable for the integrity of science. Networks can also obstruct the clarification of research misconduct: If one ‘falls’, many others will ‘fall’ too. Who would really want that?...

The very successful scientists of today (sometimes called ‘heroes of science’ or ‘giants in medicine’) generally have such a high number of publications that outsiders may feel ‘dizzy’.... Publishing more and more and better each time increases the danger of losing control over the content and of not fulfilling a researcher’s responsibility....

Taking part in many activities eventually makes us reach the limits of our possibilities. The genuine interests of a scientist must not be dominated by ‘always wanting’ and ‘always participating’.

Thus, it is not honest to ‘devote oneself’ to a research project, unless the project is an exact fit with one’s own interests and qualifications, just to get the money. A researcher’s capacity and productivity is limited and cannot be stretched infinitely by external funds. If the expectations are not fulfilled and the necessary honesty is missing, money can become a disadvantage for research....

[T]hose who already have a lot are persuasive and are therefore more likely to receive future funding and perhaps higher volumes. The result of this is thematically and methodically concentrated, and nowadays highly upgraded centres, or ‘research factories’, which show high productivity and growth rates and secure futures. These centres suppress smaller work groups that struggle to compete. The concentration of research in the name of ‘success’ creates power structures and endangers the breadth and quality of research.... high profit (i.e. high scientific output) means everything.

Consequently, a publication in a prestigious journal demands a further publication in an also prestigious journal and so on: Scientific growth is seemingly continued to infinity....

Failure is not provided for: Those who receive high funds are doomed to be successful (i.e. there has to be a result); however, this is obviously a case of positivism misunderstood. Research funding is beneficial, but at the present height, it also means a risk to research, because ‘more’ money does not automatically mean ‘more’ knowledge. This (at least felt, if not always admitted) discrepancy may affect scientists behaviour in a negative way....'

Discussing problems, our mistakes and causes in an open and self-critical way should serve to raise awareness and warn researchers of the potential dangers and consequences of misconduct. In cases of fraud or plagiarism, the agents are not just ‘black sheep’. Individual responsibility shall not be denied and must not be downplayed. However, we have to be aware that generally all researchers bear the risk of research misconduct, violations of good scientific practice are possible for each of us and each scientist is liable to the pressures that fuel such behaviour or, indeed, help disguise it.

Academic work requires transparency. Researchers should be subject to internal and external assessment that verifies their research and relates it to respective control mechanisms. It has to be discussed—not only within the research system, but in a wider context. On the one hand, freedom of research must be ensured, but on the other hand, research responsibility must be realised. Without doing away with self-control, it however becomes apparent that self-control alone is not sufficient and that concepts of external control must be developed and evaluated....

Scientific work also demands modesty; overestimating oneself and one’s own thematic coverage will backfire....

Even though external control may be effective, scientists should still be obliged to self-control. Acting as a researcher does not only serve the purpose of furthering knowledge and progressing personally, but relationships with others must also be considered. Rules of good scientific practice have to be accepted by all of us and embedded into attitudes and personalities....

The pressure to succeed imposed by highly financed research institutions and groups has to be reduced. The fundamental values of science must self-evidently and always have priority; they are honesty, decency, objectivity, credibility, doubt, responsibility and openness.

What increases the risk of research misconduct is working only for profit (i.e. the number of publications and the height of the IFs) and growth (i.e. more and more publications). Thus, research that is libertarian and at the same time only oriented towards the market contradicts the idea of science. Research institutes should overcome the temptation of only seeing themselves as players of the market.

The volume of research fraud that has become known begins to demand a quality offensive to be produced. It could imply proactive controls and random samples, the vocation of quality assurance commissioners, the central filing of data and documents, the obligation to take part in regular self-trainings or even workshops on ‘error learning culture’.

Researchers of today are voluntarily or involuntarily part of a media-marketed academic life. It is not only about the secrets of nature, discoveries and problems that have to be solved effectively; science ‘charms’. Results affect researchers (who gain an impetus for their work out of this) and academic journals (which ‘sell’ well if the stories are ‘good’), and also the ‘world’ (which wants to be helped and entertained by scientific knowledge). The scientist should know the inherent risk of this ‘charm’; the limitations of science itself and, of course, also the personal limits of the scientist are always present.

-- Fraud in science: a plea for a new culture in research, by M J Müller, B Landsberg & J Ried


[Narrator] The fact that the finds of Heinrich Schliemann and Arthur Evans met with such resonance,


is partly due to the work of the Gillierons. They too have had a crucial influence


on our image of Europe's first high culture.


The idea that King Minos's Crete was a paradise on Earth, and his subjects were peaceful art lovers.

Ashoka means “without sorrow” which was most likely his given name. He is referred to in his edicts, carved in stone, as Devanampiya Piyadassi which, according to scholar John Keay (and agreed upon by scholarly consensus) means “Beloved of the Gods” and “gracious of mien” (89). He is said to have been particularly ruthless early in his reign until he launched a campaign against the Kingdom of Kalinga in c. 260 BCE which resulted in such carnage, destruction, and death that Ashoka renounced war and, in time, converted to Buddhism, devoting himself to peace as exemplified in his concept of dhamma. Most of what is known of him, outside of his edicts, comes from Buddhist texts which treat him as a model of conversion and virtuous behavior.

The empire he and his family built did not last even 50 years after his death. Although he was the greatest of the kings of one of the largest and most powerful empires in antiquity, his name was lost to history until he was identified by the British scholar and orientalist James Prinsep (l. 1799-1840 CE) in 1837 CE. Since then, Ashoka has come to be recognized as one of the most fascinating ancient monarchs for his decision to renounce war, his insistence on religious tolerance, and his peaceful efforts in establishing Buddhism as a major world religion.

Although Ashoka's name appears in the Puranas (encyclopedic literature of India dealing with kings, heroes, legends, and gods), no information on his life is given there. The details of his youth, rise to power, and renunciation of violence following the Kalinga campaign come from Buddhist sources which are considered, in many respects, more legendary than historical....

-- Ashoka the Great, by World History Encyclopedia

[Narrator] Like his father, Emile Gillieron Jr.,


was never accused of any art forgery. He started a business in Athens. This family company produced successful copies of antique objects right up to modern times.

In Phaistos, Gareth Owens has almost achieved his goal,


after decades of working on the mysterious disc. As far as he is concerned, the disc is one of the most important examples of ancient scripts.

[Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, Linguist] We like to think that we are offering


a reading that is more secure than has been offered in the past. And we hope people will take advantage of that to move on to the next stage, which is trying to understand.


[Narrator] Jerome Eisenberg refuses to be distracted by Gareth Owen's success.


[Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, Art dealer] I still believe that it is 100% a forgery.


There is no question in my mind.


[Narrator] The suspicions attached over the decades about the authenticity of his disc, didn't appear to damage Pernier's career as an archaeologist. For 30 years, he performed research in Phaistos,


ignoring all the doubts and all the doubters.
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