Friday, October 2, 2020

Conflict and Competition: Agon in Western Greece: Selected Essays from the 2019 Symposium on the Heritage of Western Greece

Conflict and Competition: Agon in Western Greece: Selected Essays from the 2019 Symposium on the Heritage of Western Greece

Heather L. Reid
John Serrati
Tim Sorg
Conflict and Competition: Agon in Western Greece
Volume: 5
Copyright Date: 2020
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p
Pages: 306


(pp. i-iv)
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.1

(pp. i-iv)
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.1
  • (pp. v-v)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.2
  • (pp. vi-vi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.3
  • (pp. vii-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.4
  • (pp. ix-xiv)
    Heather L. Reid, John Serrati and Tim Sorg
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.5

    In 2004, the city of Athens hosted the Ολυμπιακοί Αγώνες, the Olympic Games. From around the world came athletes and wellwishers, journalists and enthusiasts, retailers and scalpers. They all came seeking competition—at the Games, in the press, and in the market. They reveled in it. They cheered it. They hoped it would bring them fame and fortune. Agōn in Greek culture is much more than a game. In antiquity, the term could refer to a gathering, a war, a court trial, a rhetorical debate, dramatic action, or almost any kind of struggle. Even athletic agōnes cast a wide conceptual...

  • Keynote Address

    • (pp. 1-30)
      Rebecca H. Sinos
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.6

      Demeter, the goddess “rich in fruit, rich in grain,”³ is everywhere in Sicily. She is apparent first and foremost in the bountiful fields of grain that surround a traveler passing through the island’s plains. She is prominent also in the remains of ancient temples and sanctuaries and in the archaeological collections of Sicilian museums, virtually all of which feature collections of figurines dedicated to Demeter—and to her daughter Kore, or Persephone.⁴ Indeed, the island is said by Pindar to be Persephone’s wedding gift from Zeus (Nemean 1.14-15).⁵ The religious commitment of ancient Sicilians is apparent not only in their...

  • Part I: Histories of Conflict and Competition

    • (pp. 33-48)
      Parrish Elizabeth Wright
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.7

      In the middle of the 6th century BCE, Locri Epizephyrii, a Greek city-state in modern Calabria, fought against Croton (along with allies on both sides) in a battle at the Sagra River in one the largest agōnes in the history of Western Greece.² According to Strabo, not only was the battle of epic proportions, with 130,000 men on the side of Croton fighting against a mere 10,000 Locrians, but the news of the battle spread so quickly that the results were reported at Olympia the very same day.³ Although Cicero recounted this story, and Strabo claimed that the phrase ἀληθέστερα...

  • (pp. 49-66)
    Tim Sorg
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.8

    Classical Syracuse was a city of immigrants. Some came seeking work and high wages, others as refugees fleeing the Carthaginians’ advance across Sicily. But most arrived by force after being defeated by the Syracusans and dispossessed of their land. Since the late Archaic period, the Syracusans regularly forced the people they conquered to relocate to Syracusan territory as citizens and then gave away the land they left behind to people from outside of Syracusan society. In this chapter, I explore how the Syracusans competed with their rivals in the Classical period by deporting the people they conquered, a tumultuous history...

  • (pp. 67-92)
    John Serrati
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.9

    The Second Punic War had a profound effect upon Sicily. The kingdom of Hieron II was destroyed and Syracuse, the island ’s largest urban center, was sacked after a bitter Roman siege. In the third century BCE, the Romans did not have any means or processes by which they could simply setup an overseas province. Indeed, a provincia at this time very much remained primarily a zone of military responsibility rather than a defined territory outside of Italy administered by an imperium-holding magistrate. After the first conflict with Carthage, the Romans appear to have treated Sicily as an extension of...

  • Part II: Philosophical Agōn

    • (pp. 95-110)
      Federico Casella
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.10

      Studying the history of Pythagoreanism is a difficult task. The majority of the information we have comes from post-Pythagorean authors, who often were offering—and endorsing—a view separate from Pythagoreanism. As a result, they tended to characterize Pythagoreanism narrowly as a religious movement, a philosophical system, a circle of mathematicians, and so on. Even so, a cross-comparison between various sources allows us to focus on some events whose authenticity can be accepted with a high degree of certainty. I shall analyze the revolts against the Pythagoreans that broke out in Magna Graecia in (possibly) two different centuries, events that...

  • (pp. 111-122)
    Drew A. Hyland
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.11

    One of many wondrous things about the sayings of Heraclitus is how certain words, used just a few times or in some cases only once, become established as at the very core of his thought, thereby likening them to poetic words. Such is the power of his extraordinary writing format, and such is the case with the words I address in this paper: polemos, eris, agōn, and paidia. Polemos occurs just three times in Heraclitus’s extant fragments; eris three times as well; agōn just once, and paidia again just once. Thought of together, however, they constitute at once one of...

  • (pp. 123-138)
    Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.12

    This paper examines Plato’s use of wine-drinking² as an underrated paradigm for discussing the temperament of the tyrannical man in the Republic and the Symposium.³ I argue that Plato found in the Syracusan tyrants, with whom he had recurrent interaction from 388 BCE onwards,⁴ a striking example of the interplay between tyranny, philosophy, and drinking. Given the consensus on the composition date of the Republic around 380 BCE,⁵ and regardless of whether Book 1 was originally written as a separate dialogue,⁶ my paper corroborates the view that Plato’s tyrannical man in Book 9 was modelled on Dionysius I and his...

  • (pp. 139-154)
    Stephen M. Kershner and Audrey L. Anton
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.13

    Plutarch reports that, prior to departing for battle, Spartan mothers instruct their sons to “return with their shields or on them.”³ The phrase refers to a Spartan practice of transporting fallen soldiers’ bodies home by securing the corpse to one’s shield. The sentiment is clear: fight to win and, if you cannot win, die trying. This Spartan principle, win or die trying, strikes modern thinkers as harsh. We customarily encourage our loved ones to try their best. We aim to communicate that we will still love and support one another even when our best is not good enough. Our modern...

  • Part III: Civic Agōn in Performance

    • (pp. 157-170)
      Eleni Kornarou
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.14

      The institution of agōn, fundamental in ancient Greek culture, manifested itself in various aspects of life, such as athletic, musical, poetic, and dramatic contests, all of which were organized in honor of a deity.² In dramatic contests, which were performed in honor of Dionysus and developed in the culture of democratic Athens, tragic and comic poets, their choregoi, and later their protagonists competed for the first prize.³ The agonistic element was thus inherent in the organization of dramatic contests, but it was also an essential feature of the content and structure of fifth-century tragedy and comedy —as is made evident...

  • (pp. 171-184)
    Paolo Babbiotti and Luca Torrente
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.15

    In this paper we attempt to answer to the following question: In Trojan Women, is Euripides criticizing a degeneration of agonism—something we might label as ‘asymmetric conflict’? The question is worth exploring because Trojan Women is well known as a powerful, tragic play, which puts the condition of the enslaved (and barbaric, to a Greek eye) women of Troy on stage. The story is certainly well-suited to such a social criticism. Although interpretations and academic studies of Trojan Women are more than abundant, our argument is not inspired by secondary literature about the play. Rather, it is inspired by...

  • Part IV: Landscapes and Livelihoods in Conflict

    • (pp. 187-202)
      Richard Stoneman
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.16

      The Battle of the Gods and Giants functioned as an emblem of cosmic strife, and also of philosophical difference, for many centuries in antiquity. This paper considers the association of this battle with Mount Etna and its possible origin in the work of Empedocles. The anonymous Aetna rejects the Gigantomachy as a cause of volcanic activity, in favour of a scientific explanation, as Lucretius also rejects mythological explanations for natural phenomena. The paper goes on to ask whether the explanation offered by both authors (subterranean winds) should be associated with a particular philosophical school, and concludes that it is available...

  • (pp. 203-218)
    Flora P. Manakidou
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.17

    Greek athletics have always been linked with socio-political and religious life. In literature, the quality and quantity of odes commemorating victors at the four Panhellenic games of the socalled periodos demonstrate the impact victory had on establishing political power, since athletics was traditionally the preserve of aristocrats and powerful people.² Research has acknowledged an agonistic explosion in the Hellenistic period, which was favored especially by the new dynasties that emerged after Alexander’s death. Despite changing historical conditions, the underlying ideology remained the same. The strong link between athletic and political agōn remained an important vehicle for imposing political superiority. The...

  • (pp. 219-232)
    Ippokratis Kantzios
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.18

    Theocritus, a Greek poet of the third century BCE, is credited with the invention of the pastoral, a genre of profound influence not only on Hellenistic but also on subsequent European literature. His Idylls paint a rustic world in which shepherds participate eagerly in musical contests, fall in love, perform the tasks of husbandry without complaints, and enjoy to the fullest the simple joys of life in nature. And yet, this image of a seemingly carefree existence is often disturbed by ambivalences and nuances that reveal an inner agitation not alleviated by the generosity of the pastoral setting. In my...

  • (pp. 233-248)
    Ewa Osek
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.19

    The third-century Neoplatonist Porphyry transferred the motif of athletic agōn (“struggle”) from the sports arena to the kitchen. In his treatise On Abstinence from Killing Animals and Eating Flesh, he attacked meat-eating and tried to defend vegetarianism against his Roman friend Firmus Castricius, a former vegetarian. Porphyry hoped to convince ascetics, priests, holy men, and philosophers to reject meat-eating and adopt vegetarianism. In this context, we find several occurrences of the Greek words for athletic competition: agōn and agonizesthai. The author adopted agonistic metaphors, such as going to the stadium, competing in the Olympic games, and wrestling for a prize,...

  • Part V: A Conflicted Afterlife:: The Reception of Western Greek Agōn

    • (pp. 251-266)
      Karen Sieben
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.20

      For all his recognized brilliance, Empedocles of Agrigentum does have one serious critic, Friedrich Nietzsche. It is not that Nietzsche is among those who fail to applaud Empedocles; it is just that in his final assessment, he remarks that Empedocles is the reformer who failed.² We could dismiss this as an idle comment quickly forgotten because Nietzsche did not explicitly say why he believed it. However, looking more closely at what he did and did not say about Empedocles’s view of the cosmos and the role love and strife play in it, Nietzsche broadened the scope of the entire discussion....

  • (pp. 267-288)
    Tobias Joho
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv15tt78p.21

    The discovery of the agonal mentality is widely recognized as one of Jacob Burckhardt’s two foremost contributions to the study of ancient Greece (the other being his thesis about the distinctive character of the Greek polis). The term refers to the Greeks’ strong commitment to competition as indeed not just an end itself, but the highest end available in human existence. The paradigmatic manifestation of the agonal spirit was athletic contest, but it took on a great variety of different forms and was eventually disseminated throughout all spheres of life, ranging from poetry to politics and from education to social...

  • No comments:

    Post a Comment