Read Online! | Literary History in the Parian Marble, by Andrea Rotstein

Andrea Rotstein’s Literary History in the Parian Marble, the 68th installment of the Hellenic Studies Series, is now available to read online on the CHS website.

On the Parian Marble as Literary HistoryAndrea Rotstein cover

Literary history is very prominent in the Parian Marble, as has long been noted. However, its uniqueness in this respect among ancient chronographic material has not been fully appreciated. Literary history is entirely unprecedented in ancient Mesopotamian chronicles and appears in the ancient Greek chronographers sparsely. The verse chronicle of Apollodorus (FGrH 244 F 1–61), written in the second century BCE, included some intellectual history, but the extant fragments focus particularly on philosophers (Diogenes Laertius, the main intermediary, may be responsible for somewhat distorting the picture). Thus, reference to ancient intellectuals (poets, philosophers, historians, and orators), as Diodorus’s occasional closing of a year’s account by reference to cultural figures indicates, seems to characterize the Hellenistic approach to chronography. And yet, the Parian Marble is extraordinary in two respects. First, it displays a high number of cultural figures and events, in relation to political and military ones. Indeed, the inscription mentions fifty-six figures and events from the cultural field (twenty-nine percent), sixty-nine from the political field (thirty-six percent), forty-eight military events (twenty-five percent) and eighteen religious events […]. A second outstanding feature of the Parian Marble is that cultural figures and events belong almost exclusively to the fields of poetry, music, and drama. Indeed, the majority of cultural figures mentioned are poets and musicians, thirty-one in total.

Andrea Rotstein is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics at Tel Aviv University. She was one of four winners of the first Kadar Family Award for Outstanding Research in 2015. At the inaugural ceremony she gave the following talk on the importance of Classics, as well as the significance of this 2,500-year-old unique chronicle, which serves as an inspiring introduction to the book:

Inscribed some time after 264 BCE, the Parian Marble offers a chronological list of events with an exceptional emphasis on literary matters. Literary History in the Parian Marble explores the literary and historiographical qualities of the inscription, the genre to which it belongs, and the emerging patterns of time. Endorsing the hypothesis that the inscription was originally displayed at a Parian shrine honoring Archilochus, Andrea Rotstein argues that literary history was one of its main concerns. Though it may be conventional in its focus on the chronology of poets, their inventions and victories, the Parian Marble is nonetheless idiosyncratic in the range of authors displayed. By reconstructing the methods by which information might have been obtained, Rotstein contributes to an understanding of the way literary history was practiced within the local communities of ancient Greece, away from the major Hellenistic centers of scholarship.
The Parian chronicle has not been the subject of a comprehensive study for almost a century. Literary History in the Parian Marble brings to the English-speaking audience up-to-date information about the inscription, including a revision of Felix Jacoby’s Greek text and a complete translation.