Honour in Aristotle’s ethics and politics: Kleanthis’ project will explore the concept of honour in Aristotle’s ethics and politics, where honour occupies a central place. On the individual level, honour provides the underlying cause for a range of human emotions and psychological conditions that regulate one’s behaviour towards others, such as anger, shame, and hybris, hence it bears on the modern concepts of respect, esteem, and self-esteem. As an object of pursuit by the individual, honour is described as the greatest of the ‘external goods’ and can be pursued properly or improperly, hence it plays a crucial role in Aristotle’s theory of virtue, justice, and happiness or human flourishing (eudaimonia).
On the social level, the love of honour (philotimia), along with the love of wealth, are according to Aristotle the major causes of injustice, hence considerations of honour impact greatly not only on interpersonal relations but also on relations between social groups. Aristotle places timē at the root of ideological conflict and civil strife (stasis), and attributes the very rise of the two most common constitutions, democracy and oligarchy, to conflicting beliefs about the proper distribution of ‘honour’ and public ‘honours’. Kleanthis’ study will analyse the complex workings of honour at both individual and social level, and trace the links between Aristotle’s views on honour and traditional Greek thought.
Honour in fourth-century Athenian Oikoi: the misunderstanding of honour as a (prototypically Mediterranean) primitive tool for oppression and male chauvinism is especially rooted in preconceptions about honour in domestic contexts. Bianca's project aims at reassessing the functioning of timē in the domestic and interpersonal sphere in fourth-century Athens. She shall consider specific subgroups in fourth-century Athenian society, such as slaves, women, and children, who are normally seen as subordinate to men’s authority.
By doing so, the aim is to show how, on the interpersonal level, timē could ensure a degree of mutuality and reciprocal respect even within intrinsically asymmetrical relationships. Case studies that allow us to get closer to the perspective of slaves, women, and children, shall be privileged. Often, what they illuminate are the ways in which individuals belonging to these social categories were able to assert their value and their claims in all sorts of interpersonal contexts. Bianca’s investigation shall highlight the links between honour, identities, statuses, and interpersonal relationships, showing that timē dynamics tended to safeguard the smooth functioning of relationships within the oikos too, ensuring to all its members the possibility of being treated with respect and of attaining honour.
Τιμή on Trial: The Impact of 'Honour' in Attic Law and Society: our present approach towards the concept of τιμή rests largely on the fallacious yet inveterate presupposition that its meaning and fields of application have been thoroughly examined and understood. This misjudgement on the actual scope and substance of the term has in great measure prevented the correct evaluation of many aspects of Greek literature, thought, and society. The consequences are particularly severe with respect to Attic law and juridical practice, precisely because a confusion on a pivotal concept such as τιμή has inevitably created a sort of domino-effect which enmeshed other cognate words and key terms related to it.
Affiliated and temporary members
Military Leadership and Social Status in Classical Athens: Matteo's research will explore the civic and social role of military officers in 5th- and 4th-century Athens. The study will focus on high-ranking officers, especially the strategoi, their relationship with the society, their role in civic bodies and especially the Assembly, and their status in relation to domestic and foreign politics. The recognition of a strategos was based on a complex network of social acknowledgements about the rights, duties, and obligations that both warranted and derived from his office.
In this context, military leadership interacted with – and partially contradicted – the fundamental mechanisms of democracy. Since the vast majority of Athenian public officials were selected by lot, an ‘oligarchic’ process of election was restricted to a limited number of magistrates, among which the strategoi were by far those with the widest powers and agenda. This means that, for a citizen who aspired to political and social power, serving as a strategos was a key step in what we may roughly consider a public career in Classical Athens, as is confirmed by many notable politicians of the time. Matteo's research will produce a monograph on the bidirectional interactions between social status and the figure of the strategos in Classical Athens.
Matteo has been a Research Fellow in the HCG group from 2018 to February 2021. Currently, he is still part of the team as an adjunct member, pursuing his research project and taking part in all HCG activities.
Moritz studied history and Greco-Roman archaeology. Since 2017 he has been a post-doctoral research assistant at Humboldt University Berlin.
From April to September 2021 he is a guest member of the HCG team, funded by a Feodor Lynen fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and works on a project about the ethics of moneymaking in Classical Greece.
Christopher studied history, comparative religion and literature. Since 2015 he has been a post-doctoral research assistant at Humboldt University Berlin.
From April to September 2019 he has been a member of the HCG team, funded by the Anneliese Maier Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and working on his project Gossip and Rumour in Classical Athens.
Timê for Timai: Honour and Civic Performance in Classical and Hellenistic Greece: Alberto’s project explores the relationship between officials and honorific practices in the poleis of Classical and Hellenistic Greece. The study focus on the performance of civic magistrates understood as timai, and the institution of euergetism, which underpins the relationship between public services and the relevant honours granted as ‘tokens of good reputation’ to the benefactors (Arist. Rhet. 1361a 25-39). These different institutions are unified by the very concept of timê, which encompasses both the intrinsic value of an individual and his or her social standing as well as the exterior markers through which the community formally acknowledges this value.
Such a two-way relationship is in full display in the institutional practice of the Greek poleis. The timê of citizens was acknowledged in the political domain through the appointment to magistracies. The good performance of even lower officials was eventually rewarded with public honours which shows that honorific practice was flexible and inclusive, and accommodated both competitive and co-operative aspects of timê. Alberto’s study will analyse the language of honours for citizens acting as magistrates in epigraphical and literary evidence as well as the relevant public discourse and institutional mechanisms to allocate honours in order to identify continuity and changes in the ethos of honours and the normative standards of conduct for officials and citizens over the longue durée.
Alberto is Leverhulme Abroad Fellow at the University of Mannheim since September 2019.
Benjamin Keim will be a guest member of the project during June and July 2019.
Featured image: Achilles dragging the corpse of Hector, from an Attic hydria, ca. 520-510 BCE (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 63.473)