Historien des Phylarchos

FWF-Projekt M-2777 (Lise Meitner-Programm)
Laufzeit: 2020-2022

Projektleitung: Marcin KURPIOS (Mitantragsteller: Herbert HEFTNER)

The aim of the project The Histories of Phylarchus: New Methods and Perspectives. A Study in Fragmentary Historiography is a comprehensive assessment of the Histories, written by Phylarchus of Athens/Naucratis (IIIrd cent. BC). The work covered the history of the Hellenic world from Pyrrhus’ death up to death of the Spartan king Cleomenes III (272-220 BC). Phylarchus was authoritative in antiquity, but the attention and regard for his work in modern scholarship tended to be the opposite. The major cause of the little interest in, and certain misunderstandings of, Phylarchus lies in the fact that the original text of the Histories - comprising twenty eight books - is now lost and is accessible only through intermediate authors (or cover-texts), i.e. those that used Phylarchus for their own writings. The transformations of the Histories on the part of these intermediate authors have not been until now thoroughly examined and eliminated.

Central research questions of the project read: what were the content, aims and key themes of Phylarchus’ Histories? How the intermediate authors transform this work? The main hypothesis of the project is that Phylarchus’ Histories is imperfectly represented by its modern editions, particularly in their selection, delineation and classification of the fragments. The main objective is to analyse the transmission and to pave the way for new edition of the fragments.

The project is based on an improved methodology of studying ancient fragmentary texts. The study involves a careful analysis of each cover-text, i.e. the authors that used Phylarchus in some way, detection and description of potential distortions on their part, to proceed to the interpretation and recontextualization of the individual passages of the Histories. In effect, we shall be able to distinguish between the aims, themes and concepts of the cover-texts and those of Phylarchus. 

The result of the enquiry shall be, expectedly, filling a gap in the history of Greek historiography and thereby in the history of the Hellenistic period. Ultimately, the study shall prepare the ground for an improved edition of the Phylarchan fragments. It shall also provide better understanding of the historical developments described in the Histories, e.g. the Spartan “revolution” of the years 244-222 BC, or the complex politics of the Peloponnesian city-states during that period.

The main researchers responsible for the project are Marcin Kurpios, PhD in Ancient History and MA in Classical Philology and Professor Herbert Heftner, member of the Institut für Alte Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Papyrologie und Epigraphik, University of Vienna.