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Love is in the Hands: Affective Relationships with Objects in Votive Dedications [1]

Citation with persistent identifier:

Noel, Anne-Sophie. “Love is in the hands: Affective relationships with objects in votive dedications.” CHS Research Bulletin 4, no. 2 (2016). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:NoelA.Affective_Relationships_with_Objects.2016

§1 In Cast Away[2], Robert Zemeckis staged an unforgettable actor pair, made of the world-renowned actor Tom Hanks and a certain Wilson, which happens not to be a man, but a volleyball. The film narrates how Chuck Noland, a FedEx employee, survives an airplane crash in the Pacific Ocean and then struggles to stay alive for four years on a desert island, before finally coming back to the civilization with relief, but not without difficulties. Tragically isolated, the hero develops a very tight friendship with a volleyball that was part of the airplane’s freight. He talks to it constantly, preserving his mental health by this fictive re-creation of a dialogic situation, in spite of the non-reciprocal character of discussion with an inanimate object. The moment when the volleyball changes status to become a companion for this new Robinson Crusoe is clearly shown in the film: injured, the hero accidently imprints his bloodied hand onto the ball. Wilson comes to life from the hand and blood of his human partner (Figure 1).


Figure 1: T. Hanks giving life to Wilson the Volleyball, screenshot from Cast Away (2000) directed by R. Zemeckis, 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks Pictures.

§2 The trace of blood looks like a schematic but sympathetic face, which will henceforth become the continual witness of the hero’s actions, his beloved interlocutor and support. The emotional climax of the movie occurs when Chuck Noland, who has managed to escape the island and is drifting on the ocean, hoping to be rescued by a passing boat, loses his companion, blown away by a wave.

§3 The reception of the film in general, and of this scene in particular, is notable. Tom Hanks himself stated that there was a before and an after in his career: before 2000, fans used to shout him “Run Forrest, run!”; after Cast Away, they called him “Wilson.”[3] The general audience of this film was marked by the pathetic and truly heart-breaking separation of the man from the ball lost in the sea: one can still find on the web movie reviews, in which viewers wonder why they still cry at the loss of a volleyball, when watching the movie for the third time[4]! A science blog from the New York Times reports that the film has been used as a case study for researchers in psychology from Chicago and Harvard: according to them, the film reflects very well the “irrepressibly social nature of Homo Sapiens” and the volleyball Wilson is an eloquent example that demonstrates how “non-human connections can be very powerful.”[5] Shot in the beginning of this century, this film certainly echoes unwittingly a current concern for re-thinking the partnership between humans and things, initiated by the works of Bruno Latour[6] and now carried on by the tenets of the New Materialism[7], a theory that seeks to go beyond the dichotomy of human versus thing, subject versus object, to advocate for a more interactive and even-handed relationship.

§4 How to connect these current trends of thought with Antiquity? The gap is perhaps not as wide as expected[8]. An intense companionship between a man and an object on a desert island has been staged in the theater, as early as in a 5th-Century Athenian tragedy. In Sophocles’ Philoctetes, the famous archer has been abandoned on the hostile island of Lemnos by the Greek army, for fear of ritual pollution and discomfort. Bitten by a snake, Philoctetes suffers from an incurable foot injury. For ten years, his survival depends on a famous object, a supernatural bow inherited from Heracles, which means everything to him: his identity –  Philoktetes is etymogically the one who loves his possession[9] –, his past and history, his unique means of survival (Sophocles plays on the homonymy of the Greek words βιός, ‘bow’, and βίος, ‘life’)[10], a potential aid for walking[11], and a privileged interlocutor. To be more precise, all of surrounding nature becomes the addressee of the speech of the isolated hero: his lyric second-person address to the cave, the mountains, the birds, the woods, and finally the island of Lemnos itself[12], is the trope that eloquently indicates the separation of Philoctetes from the human society. But the bow enjoys a very physical relationship with the hero: Philoctetes holds it continuously in his hand, and this strong haptic contact is underlined by the repetitive use of the word χείρ and of verbs of touch (βαστάζειν, θιγγάνειν, ψαύειν and ἐπιψαύειν), which appear statistically much more often than in any other extant tragedy[13]. Whereas these verbs are in other tragedies applied to physical contact between individuals, most often philoi, in Philoctetes they serve to express a particularly intimate contact between the man and the object. In Homeric language, χείρ can also mean the arm, rather than the hand, and can refer in a more general sense to the physical power of a hero[14]. Yet, in the case of Philoctetes and his bow, χείρ really is the hand, the organ that holds the object and makes it a natural extension of the human body. Following Merleau-Ponty, modern scholars have developed the idea that touch erases the boundary between subject and object: “the sense of touch establishes a distinctive relation with the environment, in which there is no clear separation between subject and object as singular coherent entities,” according to Obrador-Pons[15]. This quasi-prosthetic relationship between Philoctetes and his bow has also a dramatic interest: because the whole play is about the theft of the bow by Neoptolemos and Odysseus, a climactic scene of emotional crisis is carefully prepared, in anticipation of the moment when the bow will be snatched away from the hands of Philoctetes. The distress of the ever-more isolated hero culminates when he sings a kommos, a solemn lyric address to his lost bow, as if the power of language and song could help return it to him (1123-1131). The hymnic “ὦ” (1128), used ordinarily for a human or divine interlocutor, is strikingly applied to an object; the epithet φίλος qualifies first the bow itself (ὦ τόξον φίλον, 1128) then Philoctetes’ hands, his “loving hands” (ὦ φίλων χειρῶν ἐκβεβιασμένον, 1129), onto which he projects the terrible loss. The grammatical construction suggests that the hands themselves have been violently deprived (ἐκβεβιασμένον) of their beloved possession. The anthropomorphization of the bow goes as far as suggesting that the bow will be able to see (ὁρᾀς, 1130; ὁρῶν, 1126) with its own eyes, and to judge, with its moral sense (φρένας, 1130), the evil deeds of Odysseus.

§5 From Philoctetes’ bow to Chuck Noland’s ball, the similarities are at least as striking as the differences. It is remarkable how a 21st century film-maker has unknowingly substituted for a weapon, which epitomizes the warrior society of ancient Greek tragedy, a symbol of our leisure society. I mentioned the strong emotional response that the on-screen duo has received: is it possible to know whether the spectators of the Sophoclean play, first produced in Athens in 409, then probably re-performed all over the Greek world afterwards[16], cried over the pathetic vision of Philoctetes, deprived of his bow as of one of his limbs?

§6 One could try to answer this question by investigating the emotional response of spectators in the ancient theater, but that is not the topic on which I would like to focus in this paper. As seen in these two examples, both ancient and modern, the attachment to the object expresses itself in a dramatic way when a separation occurs. The artistic genres both of cinema and theater allow the representation of these strong feelings of sadness and mourning for objects. However, did the separation from objects that might have occurred in the daily life of Greek individuals arouse some kind of emotion, and if so which ones? I use the expression “daily life” as a convenient shorthand: I am well aware of the methodological issues raised by speaking of daily life, while I am dealing with a great diversity of people who lived centuries ago, with a limited knowledge based on incomplete sources which are, moreover, difficult to interpret. I cannot reconstruct “how an individual or group of people felt”[17], as A. Chaniotis put it, but following in his footsteps, I am examining whether the social and cultural parameters allowed the representation and display of emotions towards objects lost, given, or dedicated to the gods. Here is one of the threads I have been following recently: the study of votive epigrams, both inscribed and literary, which were the written traces, real or fictive, of an act of dedication to a divinity. Although written by professional poets who worked from formulaic patterns, these votive epigrams were at least partly chosen and associated by individuals with a personal act of dedication in a particular situation.

§7 To dedicate an artifact to a god meant to give it up: the object became consecrated (ἱερός)[18] and could not be retrieved from the temple anymore. All kinds of artefacts were offered to the gods as votive objects: statues of different sizes, weapons, pieces of armor, representations of human limbs, votive tablets, a variety of personal objects, etc. One can assume that to dedicate the figurines, miniatures or wooden tablets (pinakes), which were almost industrially produced and sold close to the temples for immediate consumption, did not provoke any feeling of loss. But what about objects that the dedicators had used for years, and sometimes made themselves, and which they may have invested with a particular affective value?

§8 Dedicatory epigrams present the interest of having a very conservative form: the earliest votive inscription found on a bronze statuette of Apollo, dedicated by Mantiklos, (circ. 700 BC), follows a pattern that stayed alive for many centuries. Conventional formulae were transmitted from the archaic period to the Imperial without great changes, which does not exclude regional variants as well as refined or spiritual re-workings of traditional topoi throughout the centuries. This relatively stable material allows longue durée investigations. However, the other side of the coin is the plain and dry character of the stereotyped formulae tirelessly used and re-used in these dedicatory epigrams. Detecting any kind of emotional nuance is not an easy task, in purely informative and dispassionate formulations, where the object itself is most often not named or described: a votive inscription carved on an artefact does not need to name and describe it, the object is here and speaks for itself, as is attested by the old tradition of speaking objects that say “I”[19]. If emotions prompted by objects were involved in this ritual act, the written traces of the performance of dedication do not directly hint at them.

§9 However, in the broad-scale survey of Greek votive epigrams from all over the Mediterranean world that I conducted, I noticed rare mentions of the hands, in a scanty but varied array of inscribed and literary epigrams. These mentions are statistically exceptional. In tragic dramas, we have briefly seen how a mention of the hands emphasizes the implication of a character in a particular action[20], as well as the physical contact between humans and things; in the case of Philoctetes, it contributes to expressing the quasi-symbiotic relationship that the character enjoys with his bow, felt as a vital extension of his own body. In a study of female dedication of slaves in the sanctuary of Meter Theon at Leukopetra (Macedonia, mid-second to mid-third century CE)[21], A. Chaniotis suggests that the unique phrasing ‘I gave over with my own hands’ (‘παρέδωκα ταῖς ἰδίαις χιρσίν’) expresses an ‘emotional attachment both to the goddess and to the girls’ whom she dedicates[22]. This affective interpretation is an interesting track to follow for my own investigation. After all, slaves and objects are sometimes considered as sharing the same status of instruments in ancient Greece[23].

§10 The best preserved and most ancient example of a votive inscription that mentions the hands of the dedicator is a metrical inscription found on a statue base from the Acropolis of Halae, dated to the first part of the VIth century BC.

Εὔϝανδρος μʹἀνέθεκε [κόρ]ον περι[κ]αλέα πο[ιϝο͂]ν

Χερσὶ φίλαισιν ἔδο[κεν τἀθά]ναι [πολ]ιόχ[οι][24]

§11 The value of the offering appears through the emphatic epithet περι[κ]αλέα; the dative complement χερσὶ φίλαισιν, in a strategic position at the beginning of the second verse, could suggest the personal and physical involvement of the dedicant in his act of devotion towards Athena. The epithet φίλαισιν may be used here as a simple possessive in the Homeric style (“with his hands”). However, the strong meaning of φίλος may be more relevant: Euandros offers his present to the goddess with ‘loving hands’, and perhaps ‘loved hands’, according to the double meaning, active and passive of φίλος, if the goddess answers him with a reciprocal χάρις[25]. The two other stone inscriptions found in the Acropolis of Athens and dated to the first part of the 5th Century BC are in a much more fragmentary state[26]. However, we can read quite confidently that they present the same word χερσὶν, respectively at the beginning of their second and third verse, which suggests the potential existence of a formulaic pattern involving the hands of the dedicants.

§12 It has been argued that this phrasing indicates that the dedicators were makers, who offered their own products to the divinity[27]. The dative χερσὶ φίλαισιν could actually complement either the participle ποιῶν (which is however disputable[28]) or the principle verb ἔδοκεν, or even both. Artisans and makers may indeed be a category of people who could invest the objects they produced with a specific affective value: according to Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, every artist likes the works he produces (τὸ οἰκεῖον ἔργον ἀγαπᾷ)[29]; poets in particular, Aristotle carries on, love them as if they were their own children (στέργοντες ὥπερ τέκνα)[30]. However, I would be prone to follow Joseph Day’s caution when commenting on the same inscription: the use of the verb ποιῶ, even if certain, would not necessarily mean that the dedicator is a maker-dedicator; it can simply have the meaning of “to cause to be made”[31]. Although the category of makers is said to enjoy a particular affective relationship with their creations by Aristotle, it may leave a space for other types of dedicators.

§13 Following the ‘hand’ motive, I have tried to relate these votive inscriptions to both funerary epigrams and literary votive epigrams. Hands are quite commonly mentioned in funerary epigrams, both inscribed and literary[32]: it made a great difference, and an evidently affective one, to be buried by the hands of one’s own people, parents or children in particular, or by the hands of a stranger. Children are sadly buried by the hand of their parents, and we have at least one late occurrence of χερσὶ φιλαῖς, at the same initial position of a verse we noted before: according to this inscription, a father rejoices to receive funeral rites from “the loving/loved hands” of his daughter[33]. A male sailor can be said to be fortunate if he is buried in his own country, “by the hands of his own people”[34]. On the contrary, to receive funerary honors by the hands of a stranger (ξείνου χερσὶν)[35] is a source of deep grief and distress. Literary epigrams from the Anthologia Graeca embroider in a variety of ways on this motive: in one case, the tomb itself is said to be built by the “mourning hands” of a father mason, and the repetition of the word χεῖρ highlights the personal and physical implication of the father in the funeral of his son[36]. In another one, a father who expected to be happily buried by the hand of his son laments that it is his own hand that buries the child, in a tragic inversion of the natural law[37]. One can really speak of a “poetics of the hands” developed in a variety of ways in funerary epigrams, which would be worth investigating. The hand is not only used as a metonymy for a person, but is connected with haptic contact and emotion, as is shown by these other examples: in an undated inscription from Rome[38], the hands mentioned, qualified by the tragic epithet δείλαιοι “wretched”, are those of the parents painfully gathering the ashes of a beloved child[39]. On an Alexandrian inscription dating back to 400-300 BC[40], the hands are that of a mother who cannot hold her son in her arms anymore: Pierre Boyaval has detected a Euripidean influence in this verse inscription and showed that the epigrammatist had some knowledge of the Phoenician Women[41]. Funerary epigrams seem thus to be imbued with tragic phrasing emphatically expressing the feeling of loss and grieving.

§14 If mentions of the hands are meaningful in funerary epigrams, can we postulate that what is offered to a divinity “by one’s hands” or even “by one’s loving hands” is endowed with an affective value?  It is certainly a mark of piety and faith toward to the god who receives the offering, but it may also hint at an affective relationship with the object itself: the object which has been held and manipulated by these very hands, before being hung up on a god’s statue or deposited in his/her temple.

§15 A last type of literary votive epigrams, dating from the second century BCE to the sixth century CE, may finally highlight specific categories of objects that can enjoy a special relationship with people: tools that their possessors, now in old age, cannot use, nor even hold anymore in their shaking hands. Thus the epigram of Antipater, one of the latest poets in the “Garland of Meleager”[42], in which the now old Harpalion dedicates his wooden club to Heracles, since his “hands would no longer support [its] weight” (ἐπεὶ βάρος οὐκέτι χεῖρες ἔσθενον). The physical contact between hands and objects is broken due to his degraded state: he is now an “all wrinkled” huntsman (ὁ πᾶς ῥυτίς), whose hair has turned white (κεφαλὴν λευκοτέρην), not able anymore to handle his weapon with his previous force. In the epigram 83[43], it is this intimate physical contact between hand and object which seems to be expressed through the verb ψαύω (μὴ ψαύσαιμι λύρης ἔτι), the ‘shaking hand’ of the musician (τρομερὰς χεῖρας) not being able to hold the lyre anymore. In another example from the sixth century CE[44], the participle καταρμόζων is unusually coupled with the preposition ἐκ: Kallimenes, who dedicates to Hermes all his calligraphy implements, has to “unfit his shaking hand from his long labor” (τρομερὴν χεῖρα καθαρμόζων ἐκ δολιχῶν καμάτων): that is to lose the habit of holding in his hand the disc of lead, the pens, the ruler, the sharpening stone, the sponge and the ink-box, which were his companions in labor. In the epigram 73, also from the sixth century CE[45], the “idle hand, now heavy” (χεῖρὸς ἀεργηλᾶς τάνδε βαρυνομένας) of an old shaking piper offers to Pan his shepherd’s crook. These literary epigrams did not accompany real objects dedicated in temples, yet they are not purely poetic inventions[46]: they reflect actual ancient practices of dedications of worn-out tools that are well attested by archaeological findings[47] and give some material support to these retirement epigrams. These bittersweet complaints about old age are expressed through the visual image of a hand giving up his daily work companions. They attest to both the symbiotic relationship between hands and tools handled during a lifetime and the emotion of loss one can feel when comes the moment to give away these objects felt as living parts of the self.


§16 According to R. Osborne, “votive deposition matters because it is an integral part of the complex relationship between people and objects” in ancient Greek society[48]. I agree with him, but one has to identify and analyze, not only the dedicators, not only the nature of the votive objects, not only the vertical and horizontal relationships that are negotiated in the act of dedication, but also the possibility that people could experience feelings for the objects that they gave.

Anyone who wants to understand memory should read Marcel Proust, whoever wants to understand emotional complexity should read Walt Whitman – these are the recommendations of J. Lehrer, who as a student of the neurosciences once worked in the laboratory of E.R. Kandel, an expert on memory and a Nobel Prizewinner[49].

§17 Should anyone who wants to understand affective relationship with inanimate objects in antiquity read ancient Greek tragedy? I tend to think so. Greek tragedy’s propensity for representing strong feelings for objects gives us a privileged access into this specific dimension of the sensitive life of ancient Greeks. Arguing that the fifth-century Athenian spectators of Philoctetes, as well as those of the revivals of the play throughout all the Hellenistic period at least, if not the readers of the Imperial period[50], certainly felt deep empathy for him when he laments over the loss of his beloved bow, will probably not raise much objection. However, documenting this affective relationship between individuals and things, by investigating other textual and material evidence, allows going further in intuitive but superficial agreement. As the archaeologist Sarah Tarlow rightly stresses, “theorized, critical understandings of the emotions of the people in the past are better than unexamined, implicit ones”[51]. Cross-examination of a variety of evidence, including but not limited to “literary texts composed by great minds”[52], makes it possible to start discussing historical facts more deeply and go beyond the assumption that Greeks could probably experience some feelings towards some objects. What is at stake in my investigation is to evaluate what kind of texts and artifacts authorize the representation and display of emotions towards inanimate objects in ancient Greek society, and why and how they do so.

§18 By exploring the pragmatics and poetics of physical contact between hand and object, which can convey so much energy and vitality, power and emotion, I have started to investigate potential correspondences between Greek tragedy and votive epigrams. In the absence of direct evidence for the study of emotions in the antiquity, classicists need to find indirect ways and forge new methodological frames and tools to be able to reconstruct the different social and cultural norms, which regulated the sensitivity and emotional life of the ancient Greeks in different contexts. If I prefer to stay rather cautious in the analysis of the rare mentions of the hands found in inscribed and literary votive epigrams, I feel confident that further investigation, taking into account other types of formulae, and combined with a survey of relevant archaeologically-excavated dedications will prove to be illuminating.

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[1] I would like to give my warmest thanks to Professor Nagy, the senior fellows, and all the CHS staff for their kindness and support during my fellowship stay. I am also grateful to all my co-fellows for their helpful and inspiring comments on my work.

[2] R. Zemeckis, Cast Away, 2000, 20th Century Fox (North America) and Dreamworks Pictures (International).

[3] See N. Maschella, “Tom Hanks opens up about the inspiration behind his iconic character, Forrest Gump”, 11/30/2015, http://rare.us/story/tom-hanks-opens-up-about-the-inspiration-behind-his-iconic-character-forrest-gump/

[4] See for example the thread of posts following the question “Why does Tom Hanks apologize to Wilson in Cast away?”, https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130506201406AAuH8SQ

[5] J. Tierney, “ Science explains Wilson the Volleyball,” posted on 01/22/2008, http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/science-explains-wilson-the-volleyball/?_r=1

[6] Latour 1991 and 2005.

[7] Brown 2004; Bennett 2010; Boscagli 2010; Coole and Frost 2011; Hodder 2012.

[8] See the recent attempt of Purves (2015) to connect New Materialism with Homer’s “vibrant materialism”.

[9] I must thank here Douglas Frame for reminding me of this etymology. Philoctetes also presents himself to Neoptolemos as “the master of the weapons of Heracles” (262), as if it were the most important feature that defines his identity.

[10] Philoctetes, 931, 933; see also 1126.

[11] About the concrete staging of the bow in Sophocles’ times and in modern productions of the play, see Noel “Prosthetics weapons in Greek tragedy” (forthcoming in 2017).

[12] The direct address is used towards the earth (833), the light (886), parts of his body (1038), the cave (976, 1111) the landscape (960, 1018) the animals (960, 1124), and Lemnos (1452-1458).

[13] The occurrences of χείρ in relation with the bow are: 655, 748, 1110, 1125, 1129, 1150, 1207, 1291. The hands of the characters are also a focus of attention when they join together as a sign of alliance (δεξίωσις, 813, 942, 1286); aggressive hands are these of Odysseus stealing the bow, 1059, and touching his sword in a threatening way, 1254; the verbs of touch applied to Philoctetes and the bow are: 655, 667, 669, 761.

[14] See for example Iliad, VI, 81; XXI, 166.

[15] Obrador-Pons 2007: 136, quoted by Purves 2013: 29.

[16] For a recent paper about ancient reperformances of Sophocles, see Finglass 2015. There is no evidence of a particular reperformance of Philoctetes, but Finglass argues that Sophocles competed in Attic theatrical festivals outside Athens and that his plays were most probably reperformed in Greece and in Italy by the mid-fourth century. In his famous Oratio 52 (2nd century AD), Dio of Prusa gives an account of his comparative reading of the three Philoctetes, produced by Sophocles (the only one preserved), Aeschylus and Euripides. The reading of the plays is interestingly presented itself as an emotional experience of consolation and solace, as Dio suffers himself from a disease and shares in some ways the condition of Philoctetes (§ 2-3).

[17] Chaniotis 2012a: 23.

[18] Patera 2012:40-47.

[19] For a recent bibliography on this question, see Stähli 2013:117n11.

[20] Apart from Philoctetes, see the uses of χεῖρ in the case of the relationship of Ajax with his sword (407, 661, 729, 1173); or of Electra and her urn (326, 431, 1129, 1132).

[21] Chaniotis 2009a.

[22] Chaniotis 2009a: 60.

[23] See Aristotle Politics, 1254a, 16-17, the slave is a κτῆμα δὲ ὄργανον πρακτικὸν καὶ χωριστόν, “a good and an instrument made for use and separable”. I am thankful to Cédric Brélaz, my colleague and fellow at the CHS, for raising a thought-provoking objection: the mention of the hands may only be a written transcription of the performative act of the juridical manumission of slaves, without necessarily carrying an affective meaning. There is probably indeed some research to be done here. However, I would be prone to compare this mention of χερσὶ φίλαισιν with other dedications formulae, where the hand motive(do you mean motif?) emphasizes the care with which women raised their children (see for example the Hellenistic inscription from Athens, Acropolis, CEG 774, IG II2 4334: Melinna, who brought up her children by her hands (χερσί) dedicates a clothe, piece of her labors, to Athena. In a feminine context that implies the raising and care of children, the affective meaning of χεῖρ seems relevant.

[24] SEG xv, 352= CEG 348= Lazzarini n°824; see also Goldmann 1915:439, n°1.

[25] See Boyaval (2006): 210, for a similar interpretation of an Egyptian metrical epitaph.

[26] IG I2, 676, IG I3, 780= DAA 154= CEG 236, ca. 500-480? Mus. Ep. n. 6398:

[Παλλάδι(?) Ἀθεν]α̣ίαι

[⏕ – ἀν]έθεκε

[⏑–⏓ / χε]ρσὶν v

[–⏕ –] παῖς.

[⏑⏑ –⏑⏑ –].

IGI3 892bis= SEG 30, 31= CEG, 280a, ca. 425-400?, Mus. Ep. n. 13272:

Παλλά[δι — — —]

χερσὶ — — —

οἶκον — — —

[27] Hansen (1983):126.

[28] See Goldman 1915:441. He rightly finds ποιῶν satisfactory for the meaning, but not for the grammatical correction. If a participle were used, it would rather be ποιήσας. Other restitutions propose the substantives πόλον (‘crown’, ‘head-dress’) or πόρον (device?), see Hansen 1983:185.

[29] Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics IX, VII, 3.

[30] Aristotle Ibid.

[31] Day 2010: 6n17; see also Lazzarini 1976: 1, 76; Svenson-Evers 1996, 382-383; Umholtz 2002: 264n14; Keesling 2003, 72-74, engages with Raubitschek’s criteria to identify dedications by potters and painters (1949: 465) and shows rightly that they are not entirely convincing.

[32] For inscribed epigrams, see for example: CEG 171, 586, 631, Peek, 715, 834, 947, 1160, 1571, 1874, etc.

[33] IG XIV 1363= IGUR III 1149 = Peek 1571, Rome, 4th century AD. See also IGBulg I2222: a woman rejoices to have spent her life in the arms of her husband Yakinthos, ἐν χερσὶ φίλαις Ὑακίνθου.

[34] Anthologia Graeca VII, 665.

[35] Anthologia Graeca VII, 278.

[36]Anthologia Graeca VII, 554.

[37] Peek 1874, Knid, second or first century BCE.

[38] IGUR III 1242a= IG XIV 1722= Peek 714, Halikarnass., ca. 100-200 CE, 7-8.

[39] For the meaning of τροφέων as “parents” in funerary epigrams, see for example IG XII, 5,308.

[40] SEG 2004, 726: funerary epigram for Philoxenos, ca. fourth-third century BCE, Alexandria, οὐκέτι δὴ μάτηρ σε, Φιλοξένζ, δέξατο χερσίν, σὰν ἐρατὰν χρονίως ἀμφιβαλοῦσα δέρην…

(echoes Euripides, Phen. 165-166 ; cf. Boyaval, Cripel 24, (2004), 70/71, the poet shows his knowledge of other passages of the play).

[41] Boyaval 2004: 70-71.

[42]Anthologia Graeca, VI, 93.

[43] Anthologia Graeca VI, 83.

[44] Anthologia Graeca VI, 65.

[45] Anthologia Graeca VI, 73.

[46] I would therefore nuance the statement of R. Parker who asserts that “the sophisticated poems of book 6 of the Anthologia Palatina which pretend to accompany much humbler offerings are too far removed from actual dedicatory practice” to appear in the catalogue he made for the ThesCRA I:269-281. Parker himself corrects this first statement, when acknowledging a few pages later that the literary ‘retirement offering’ reflect the fact that “individuals sometimes dedicated objects that spoke of their activities without further specific motivation” (279). References to small objects dedications can also be found in pages 272, 280, 296-310.

[47] Rouse 1905:71, 368-369; Van Straten 1981:80.

[48] Osborne 2004:2.

[49] Plamper 2012:249.

[50] See supra, n15.

[51] Tarloff 2000:719.

[52] Chaniotis 2012a:25.


About Anne-Sophie Noel

Anne-Sophie Noel (PhD University of Lyon) graduated from the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon, and has completed her PhD thesis at the University of Lyon 3 in 2012. She is currently an associate researcher at HiSoMA (Histoires et Sources des Mondes Antiques, UMR 5189, Lyon). She has taught on a wide range of subjects, in the field of Classics and French literature, at secondary and academic levels (University of Lyon 3, Paris X and Exeter). Her first research interests lied in Greek and Roman drama, particularly in ancient performance of Greek tragedy and comedy: her thesis was a comprehensive study of the theatrical objects in Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides' dramas, which also questioned modern reception and modern stagings of the objects of ancient tragedy. She is also part of a teamwork devoted to the translation and commentary of Pollux' Onomasticon, book IV (Paris) and she collaborates to a project of translation and commentary of the ancient sources about the spectators in the Antiquity (GDR THEATHRE, Paris). While at the CHS, Anne-Sophie will be developing her new research project on the expression of feelings for objects in Ancient Greece, at the crossroads of literature, cultural history, material culture and anthropology. A performer and amateur stage director, she produced several shows of ancient Greek tragedies in the past years, and is also one of the editors of the French online review Agôn, dedicated to the performing arts.

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