Literary History in the Parian Marble

  Rotstein, Andrea. 2016. Literary History in the Parian Marble. Hellenic Studies Series 68. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.


For most philologists working on ancient Greek poetry, the Parian Marble is not usually a final destination, but a series of stopovers. Indeed, a chronological list is hardly the kind of thing that one reads from beginning to end. Hence, the common tendency to approach the inscription as a repository of information and to mine it for specific dates of people and events. Only the few specialists in the field of ancient chronography would see the inscription as a text in its own right. This book will do precisely that: look at the Parian Marble as a continuous text, with eyes trained for philological and literary criticism.

My interest in the Parian Marble was initially prompted by its mention of a great number of poets and literary events (though not always those that one might have expected). Was that a regular feature of ancient Greek chronography? What attitudes towards the literary past does the selection of poets reveal? How was the information acquired, and to what extent can we trust it? My chapter on literary history (Chapter 6 below), which gives this book its title, takes up these questions. The emphasis on dating literary matters is, in my view, connected to the purpose and original location of the inscription. In my first chapter, after looking into the history of the discovery of the inscription and its study, I endorse and expand the hypothesis that it was displayed in a Parian site related to literary activities, such as the Archilocheion. Admittedly, the Parian Marble belongs to the family of ancient Greek chronography, but the counting down of years and the striking interest in poets set it in a sui generis category. Thus, in Chapter 3, I examine the literary genre to which the Parian Marble belongs. Chapter 4 analyzes the textual qualities of the inscription. The way the Parian Marble conceptualizes time is treated in Chapter 5.

This book deals with a text surviving on stone, but is written for non-epigraphists. Similarly, it addresses non-specialists in ancient chronography, even though focusing on a chronicle. I have tried to spell out some of the conventions and basic knowledge that professional epigraphists and chronographers take for granted, in the hope of making this fascinating text accessible to both students and scholars working on classical Greek history, literature, and archaeology.

Unacknowledged translations are my own.


[ back ] 1. Critical editions of the Greek text can be found in IG XII.5 444 (1903), Jacoby 1904a, and FGrH 239. Most collections of inscriptions and historical sources only print excerpts: Tod 1946:308–315 (no. 205), Pfohl 1966:120–125 (no. 110), Harding 1985:1–3 (no. 1. A), Austin 2006:19–22 (no. 1). Bertrand 1992:17–22 offers a partial French translation. A reader-friendly translation can be found in Burgess and Kulikowski 2013:301-309. Jacoby’s text without critical apparatus is freely available in Ulrich Harsch’s Bibliotheca Augustana ( An English translation by Gillian Newing is available in the Ashmolean Museum’s website

[ back ] 2. The inconsistent treatment of lacunae in the editio princeps truly complicates the constitution of the text (cf. Munro 1901a:150, Jacoby 1904b:63–76, and see introduction to chap. 2 below).