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Session of 2 December 2016

Lecture of Miss Maria Elena De Luna, Associated lecturer in Collège de France, under the patronage of MM. Jacques JOUANNA and Denis KNOEPFLER : « Les livres V et VI de la Politique d’Aristote : une nouvelle édition italienne avec traduction et commentaire ».

Abstract : In 2016 it was published the 5th volume of a new edition of Aristotle’s Politics edited by Lucio Bertelli and Mauro Moggi (M.E. De Luna - C. Zizza - M. Curnis, Aristotele. La politica, Libro V-VI, Roma, L’Erma di Bretschneider, 692 pp. - ISBN: 978-88-913-0857-3). In books V-VI, Aristotle illustrates the internal dynamics of the polis, the nature of political systems, the causes of their transformations, the remedies to the damages caused by the intrinsic fragility of constitutions, the political institutions. All these topics are examined in the light of general political theory, as well as of the actual history of many Greek cities. In the commentary, I have emphasized the forms that the intersection between theoretical and historical analysis may assume, by considering the extant evidence on the single historical samples, by elucidating Aristotle’s argumentation, and by studying his vocabulary on the μεταβολαί (the constitutional changes). The Italian translation, in his turn, tries to be as close as possible to Aristotle’s syntax and style. About the critical text and the editorial criteria, we did not rely exclusively (as other editors did) on the Latin translations of Politics, but also on the history of the tradition of this work down to the Renaissance age; in addition, the apparatus of the testimonia has been noteworthy expanded.

Keywords : Aristotle, Politics, Constitutions, History, Epigraphy

Lecture of M. Didier Marcotte, professor à the university of Reims, under the patronage of M. Jacques JOUANNA : « Les mines d’or des Ptolémées : d’Agatharchide aux papiers de Photios. »

Abstract : Active in Alexandria of Egypt in the middle of the second century BC, Agatharchides of Cnidus is one of the most original authors of the Hellenistic age. His work, On the Erythrean Sea, encompassed in five books the geography and ethnography of the southern regions of the inhabited world, starting from the Nile and the Red Sea, in an age when the Ptolemies attempted to get hold of the maritime routes that led to the Aromata and the Frankincense Land through the Horn of Africa. The author discussed different issues, from human communities that are very close to the state of nature, to the relations between men and beasts, to the earliest forms of social structure, as well as the exploitation of the soil by the Ptolemies and the sophistication of south Arabian civilisation. The fifth book of On the Erythrean Sea survives in large excerpts in Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and the Bibliotheca of Photius (cod. 250). The sections that the author dedicates to the description of the gold mines in the Eastern desert of Egypt are among the most famous passages of Agatharchides because of the dramatic intensity and the technical precision that is employed in the account of the preparation of the gold. These reports have contributed to Agatharchides’ reputation in Late antiquity and Byzantium as the most ancient author to deal with ‘chrysopoeia’, as it is displayed in the frequent loans by later alchemists, from Zosimus of Panopolis onwards. My approach will be mainly philological, given my forthcoming edition of the fragments of Agatharchides for the Collection des universités de France: the purpose is to assess the contribution of the alchemical tradition to the constitutio textus of Agatharchides’ fragments and to place it in relation to Photius’ own scientific material.

Keywords : Hellenistic historiography, Agatharchides of Cnidus, Greek geography and ethnography, textual tradition, First Byzantine humanism.


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