BMCR 2006.11.37

Response: Ottone on Zollschan on L. Amantini (ed.), Dalle parole ai fatti

Response to 2006.11.15

Response by

In her review of the book Dalle parole ai fatti. Relazioni interstatali e comunicazione politica nel mondo antico (Roma: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2005), edited by Luigi Santi Amantini, Linda Zollschan (Z.) takes issue with some of the statements I supposedly made in my contribution “Alessandro, Teopompo e le ‘epistolai pros tous Chious’ ovvero autorità macedone e strumenti di interazione con la comunità poleica fra pubblico e privato” (pp. 61-107). Since the ‘statements’ in question happen to be misrepresentations of what I have actually written, I feel compelled to briefly rectify them.1

1) Z. writes “Ottone argues that the inscription was the proclamation that was accompanied by one or more letters. Photius was citing the letters and not the original proclamation”. My views on this matter (as well as on other matters dealt with in my paper) are most inaccurately rendered. As a matter of fact, the whole thrust of my argument is to reject the “communis opinio” according to which the letters cited by Photius could be identified with either the edict SIG, 3rd ed., 283 (“Alexander’s first letter to the Chians”) or the related documents. Thus, regarding this issue, my conclusion aims at the exact opposite, as one can gather, for instance, from the passage (p. 77): “Un’ipotesi alternativa per conciliare intervento ‘ad personam’ e sanatoria generale tuttavia esiste: postulare che un eventuale intervento personale di Alessandro vada ascritto non anteriormente, bensì a un momento successivo rispetto alla promulgazione del ‘diagramma’ che includeva il provvedimento di reintegrazione di tutti gli esuli”, and, above all, from my statement (pp. 95-96): “dietro all’indicazione di Fozio si celi proprio il riferimento a un documento ‘del tipo’ di quello attestato dall’iscrizione SEG XXII 506 [ the so-called “second letter to the Chians”: thus, not the documents related to SIG, 3rd ed., 283, as Z. asserts ‘e analogamente inviato da Alessandro nel contesto delle discordie civili successive al ‘rientro generale’, di cui plausibilmente anche lo stesso Teopompo poté avvalersi”.

2) A further statement laid at my door by Z. is equally far off the mark: “Ottone interprets lines 14-19 as a reference to a ‘philos’ of Alexander and she identifies this person with Theopompus. [5] Note 5: This idea is not new. See G. Zolotas … Athena 20 (1908) 159-163”. Apart from the fact that paragraph 2.1 of my paper starts from an ample critical discussion of Zolotas’ inference — a discussion which makes Z.’s critical note sound rather inappropriate —, the statement itself “Ottone … identifies this person with Theopompus” is patently wrong. Nowhere in my essay do I argue the case for identifying the ‘philos’ of Alexander with Theopompus. On the contrary, I take the view that in the present state of our knowledge we are unable to solve this question, and that, in particular, the proposal ‘Theopompus’ raises a number of serious problems. Several passages make this unequivocally clear: (p. 84) “Per quanto seducente possa apparire tale proposta [i.e., Zolotas’ suggestion], non si può negare che il tentativo di restituire il nome ‘Theopompos’ sembra comportare difficoltà sia a livello filologico sia esegetico”. I may recall here the non-committal conclusion that comes out of my analysis of the evidence: “La necessità di identificare in un personaggio diverso dal generale Alkimachos la vittima dell’accusa di ‘barbarismos’ evidentemente non è sufficiente per ipotizzare che l’individuo in questione fosse proprio Teopompo … occorre tener presente che nessuna fonte viene in aiuto a corroborare questa ipotesi” (p. 88).

3) A final statement that leaves me puzzled, is Z.’s assertion: “she believes that there existed a book or corpus called ‘Peri tes Chias epistoles’ that is mentioned by Harpalus (FGrHist. 115F 254b)”. Harpalus appears in my paper (p. 98) only as a historical figure, mentioned in three Theopompus quotes made by Athenaeus. These quotations, I presume, may all stem from the same context, possibly from the very letter which the Chian historian sent to Alexander in order to denounce Harpalus. A statement like “a book or corpus … that is mentioned by Harpalus” does not make any sense.

In addition, Francesca Gazzano — author of the contribution “Senza frode e senza inganno: formule ‘precauzionali’ e rapporti interstatali nel mondo greco” published in the same volume (pp. 1-33) — asked me to add to my response the following statements about her own. Quoting:

“As far as my article (“Senza frode e senza inganno…”) is concerned, a very few points require clarification, particularly since some of Z. comments appear to reflect a misunderstanding of what I have written: first and foremost, I didn’t fault E.L. Wheeler’s study (“Sophistic Interpretations and Greek treaties” GRBS 25 [1984] 253-274) at all “for not taking into account the epigraphic record”, as Z. says; on the contrary, I remarked that his ground-breaking article was based almost exclusively on the epigraphic evidence, and much less on the literary tradition. Secondly, I never wrote that the words “dolos” and “apate” may be rare in the literary sources: they’re in fact very common; it’s their connection in the Herodotean expression ἄνευ δόλου καὶ ἀπάτης that is seldom attested”. – F.G.


1. I may also refer the reader to G. Schepens, “Words and Deeds. Miscellanea on Greek Diplomacy”, AC 75, 2006, pp. 213-223, where a correct summary of my argument is given.