J. E. Lendon, Elke Hartmann, Sven Page, Anabelle Thurn (Hrsgg.): Moral als Kapital im antiken Athen und Rom. in:

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GNO, Volume 93 (2021), Issue 1, ISSN: 0017-1417, ISSN online: 0017-1417,

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Bibliographic information
J. E. Lendon: Hartmann et al. (Hrsgg.), Moral als Kapital 25 Elke Hartmann, Sven Page, Anabelle Thurn (Hrsgg.): Moral als Kapital im antiken Athen und Rom. Stuttgart: Steiner 2018. 328 S. 54 €. Kapital is a word that recedes further the more one reaches for it. Even if capital be defined in the non-financial, sociological terms of Pierre Bourdieu (p. 8), it still has at least three potential meanings: ‘social capital’, as the power that results from one’s personal connections (usually employed to gain or maintain a lofty position in society);1 the obscurely related ‘cultural capital’ (education, but also much else to Bourdieu); and ‘symbolic capital’, such as honor or reputation.2 ‘Capital’ used in any of those senses is, of course, a metaphor, and it is perhaps unfair to press metaphors too hard, but the question has often been justly asked whether ‘capital’ is the most useful metaphor for those concepts. To Marx and most others capital is money in motion – money used to buy things intended in turn for sale at a profit. But capital in almost every sociological conception of the term is immobile and works without being spent.3 If cultural capital – a Ph.D. – gets one a job in a university, it is hardly expended in the process: to the contrary, it increases by being endorsed by the appointment. And if a resident of the state of New Jersey should use his social capital to reach out to a judge to get a speeding ticket expunged, he does not lose or expend any social capital: to the contrary, if his friends come to know that he has a flexible judge among his acquaintances, his social capital is likely to expand. Financial capital is lost when used in order to seek a greater return later – perhaps much later – while social capital tends quickly to increase almost in the very act of being successfully used. Conveying the correct sense of increase by use, social ‘muscle’ rather than ‘capital’ might be a better, if less dignified, term. If we create our own naming problems with Kapital, the force of ancient Moral is a genuine puzzle about the ancient world. To us morality tends to be a negative quality, the mere absence of wickedness. Neither in life nor in politics do we follow persons who are positively good; to the contrary, we suspect them of hypocrisy and look forward with glee – if they are public persons – to their fall in the wake of the revelation of some secret vice. To both the Greeks and the Romans, on the other hand, the qualities that made up what we would call morality were positive, competitive, and had strength in the exterior world: in Athens Aristides the Just could base a political career on his competitive supremacy –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 It is best to stick to Bourdieu’s definition, as in ‘Ökonomisches Kapital, kulturelles Kapital, soziales Kapital’ in R. Kreckel (ed.) ‘Soziale Ungleichheiten’ (Göttingen, 1983) pp. 183–198; translated as ‘The Forms of Capital’ in J. Richardson (ed.) ‘Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education’ (Westport CT, 1986) pp. 241–258, as most of the authors in the present volume do, because the Anglophone formulations of social capital by Coleman and Putman are vague and have been subject to trenchant criticism, much of which Bourdieu’s more limited definition avoids. See, for one example among many, T. Claridge, ‘Criticisms of Social Capital Theory’ in Social Capital Research (2018) (consulted 1.19.2020). 2 P. Bourdieu, ‘La distinction. Critique sociale de jugement’ (Paris, 1979), translated by R. Nice as ‘Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste’ (Cambridge MA, 1984). 3 I paraphrase the criticisms of K. J. Arrow, ‘Observations on Social Capital’ in P. Dasgupta and I. Serageldin (eds.) ‘Social Capital. A Multifaceted Perspective’ (Washington DC, 1999) pp. 3–5 at 4. GNOMON 1/93/2021 J. E. Lendon: Hartmann et al. (Hrsgg.), Moral als Kapital 26 in dikaiosynē, justness, one of the four later cardinal Greek virtues, although he frequently found himself defeated by Themistocles, the Odysseus of his time, who was supreme in the older Homeric excellence of métis, cunning intelligence, which was naturally a practical advantage in war and politics, but which was also admired in itself by his contemporaries. The figure who inevitably comes to mind as an example of the social and political strength of ancient Moral is Cato the Younger,1 famous integritate vitae, to whom severitas dignitatem addiderat, and who cum strenuo virtute, cum modesto pudore, cum innocente abstinentia certabat (Sal. Cat. 54.2, 6). Although his conventional political career was truncated – he never advanced further than praetor – he was a tremendous figure in his day, a great power in politics and the world, and could command a significant political following because he was so perfectly virtuous. The practical might of Moral in the ancient world is a real historical question of the first importance and of acute intellectual difficulty, because it grows from a system of values distant from our own, and for which we have little natural sympathy or understanding. A volume on the subject is naturally highly useful. This present volume collects the papers of the 2014 Darmstadt conference ‘Moral als Kapital in antiken Gesellschaften’, to which a few additional papers not delivered there have been added. The contributors are mostly younger scholars – I count only two ordinarii in the ‘Autorenbeschreibungen’ (pp. 327–328) – full of fresh ideas, but also apt to depend on fresher bodies of theory, especially that of Niklas Luhmann, with which non-German readers (and older German readers) may not be familiar or sympathetic given the jargon into which he leads his acolytes. Still, many of the other papers are written in a sprightly and pleasing style distant from traditional German academic prose. And it is reassuring that all the contributions are in German, reflecting as it does a laudable rejection by younger scholars of the creeping hegemony of English over scholarly writing, and representing, I suspect, something of a victory over the publisher, who will have longed for a scattering of papers in English so as to sell more copies of the volume in the Anglophonie. The editors of this Sammelband knew what they wanted – papers studying the nexus between morality and power, as Elke Hartmann lays out clearly in her introduction (pp. 7–10). But not all the contributors were so disciplined. Indeed, a strict critic might admit fewer than half the papers to a volume of this title; the others are not necessarily less valuable, but they are wandering in their subjects. And the order of the papers in the book, the two categories to which they are assigned, ‘Guter oder schlechter Ruf und die sozialen Folgen’ and ‘Diskurse über Moral’, distribute the material differently than the title of ‘Moral as Kapital’ might imply, and so the articles closest to the stated theme of the book are scattered all through it, not gathered at the front in the conventional fashion, with the papers on more disparate subjects grouped after them in the back. So it is that the first paper on the Greek side adhering closely to the premise of the volume, Anabelle Thurn’s excellent ‘Admets Kampf um die Ehre. Gastfreundschaft in der Alkestis des Euripides’, is to be found as deep in the book as pp. 199–211. Thurn notes that Greek xenia, guest-friendship, is very –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 On whom see now F. K. Drogula, ‘Cato the Younger’ (New York, 2019). GNOMON 1/93/2021 J. E. Lendon: Hartmann et al. (Hrsgg.), Moral als Kapital 27 much the stuff of which social capital construed as the sum of social connection is made up, and therefore that Euripides’ perplexing Alcestis, much of which involves settling how King Admetus should treat his guest-friend Heracles in a time of mourning (the eponymous Alcestis, the wife of Admetus, having just died), can be viewed as a crisis of managing social capital: this is the sort of paper one yearns for, illuminating as it does both ancient literature and modern social theory. She is followed by Kornelia Kressirer’s ‘Die Forderung nach Versorgung und Ehrung der Alten als wertvolles Gut in der griechischen Antike’ (pp. 213– 228), who removes Greek care of the elderly from its usual category – an unwanted duty, neglected and subject to litigation – and gathers evidence that doing well by one’s living parents was understood to be a positive virtue, a reputation for which could be adduced as a sign of one’s moral excellence in other walks of life: used as symbolic capital, in other words. On the Roman side, cleaving close to the theme of the volume is Johannes M. Geisthardt, ‘Die moralische Hypothek des toten Tyrannen. Plinius, Tacitus and die Diskussion über die Führungselite der post-domitianischen Ära’ (pp. 137– 157), which discusses the dignitas (a Latin word very close in meaning to ‘social capital’, because it can get things done in society) to be garnered from a senator’s behavior under a tyrannical regime and his ability to assert his right to that dignitas once the regime had fallen. And Isabelle Künzer’s ‘Prestige- oder Geschmacksfragen? Plinius der Jüngere und die senatorische Reputation im otium’ (pp. 307–326) argues that, once the duties of negotium had been fulfilled, the occupations of otium made a real contribution to a Roman senator’s auctoritas (another term that can be translated by Bourdieu’s ‘social capital’), and could be used to extend a distinction-gathering career beyond the years of officeholding. Christian Rollinger’s important paper ‘Oportet ex fide bona. Moral als Kategorie römischer Rechtsprechung’ (pp. 247–273), works heroically to liberate the Roman legal concept of bona fides from its usual technical legal context, and argues that to be found to have failed in bona fides by a court was not only a judicial decision but social doom, whereby one’s social capital might dwindle away to nothing. Of particular note on the Roman side is Jan Timmer, ‘Moral und Vertrauen in der römischen Republik’ (pp. 75–93), going beyond Bourdieu’s definition of social capital to that of the American sociologist J. S. Coleman,1 who extended the economic metaphor (incurring the complaints of many critics) by arguing that social capital creates trust, and that trust reduces the ‘transaction costs’ of relations in society. Accordingly, Timmer considers the role of trust as a stabilizing factor in politics during the late Roman Republic. In a rivalrous political and social system, trust held networks together, reduced overall complexity, and eased transactions within the system. Trust was, as such, a subject of acute interest to contemporary writers, as we can see in the works of Cicero; potential or actual failures of trust likewise. The rest of the essays in the volume do not adhere as closely to both of the key terms of the title of the collection, and are apt to take up questions of Moral without much reference to Kapital. Sven Page, ‘Die Moral des Demagogen. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 J. S. Coleman, ‘The Foundations of Social Theory’ (Cambridge MA, 1990). GNOMON 1/93/2021 J. E. Lendon: Hartmann et al. (Hrsgg.), Moral als Kapital 28 Soziokulturelle Wertediskurse im klassischen Athen’ (pp. 17–43) points out the paradox that Pericles could be esteemed as a moral exemplar although his contemporaries knew perfectly well (and comedy mocked him for the fact) that he lived a rather rackety life, what with Aspasia and Phidias and other dubious friends. What rhetorical shifts did he use to manage this contradiction? Public virtue, it turns out, trumped private vice. Closely related is Rafał Matuszewski’s ‘(Un)edle Vergnügungen? Freizeitbeschäftigungen als Spiegel moralischen Wandels im spätklassischen Athen’ (pp. 45–73), arguing that the stigma that can be seen to attach to being seen drinking or gambling in public in fifth-century BC Athens weakened in the fourth under the cultural influence of the lower orders. Thomas Gärtner, ‘Das Recht des Stärkeren in den Athenerreden bei Thukydides’ (pp. 161–177) discusses the evolution of Thucydides’ realist formulation of justice between individuals and cities in what Greg Crane has called the «Athenian theses» – the speech of the Athenians at Sparta in book 1, the Melian Dialogue, and the speech of Euphemus at Camarina. Indeed, this article is particularly interesting if read alongside Greg Crane’s ‘Thucydides and the Ancient Simplicity’ (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1998). Elke Hartmann, in ‘Die Krieger-Ethik des ‹Schiffspöbels› von Athen’ (pp. 179–197) argues that in the mind of Athenians the courage of Athens’ rowers was ideologically submerged beneath that of her hoplites until after the oligarchic coup and episode of 411 BC – an argument that can be usefully compared to that of Hans van Wees on the same subject.1 On the Roman side, Simone Blochmann’s ‘‹Mit entblößter Brust in gezückte Schwerter›. Majestätsprozesse und aristokratische Moral in der frühen Kaiserzeit’ (pp. 117–135) considers the moral standing of maiestas prosecutions, and the moral evaluation of those many who committed suicide to circumvent them. She (like Jan Timmer, above) is heavily dependent on the systems theory of Niklas Luhmann, whose difficult works have not penetrated Anglophone Classics and Ancient History. Simpler in method – indeed, an elegant example of good old-fashioned structural-functionalism – is Jan B. Meister’s ‘Klatsch, Gerüchte und fama als moralisches Kapital im spätrepublikanischen und frühkaiserzeitlichen Rom’ (pp. 95– 116), where gossip and rumor (about which the author assembles an admirable collection of ancient references) serve ultimately as forms of social control among the Roman upper-crust. At the same time, Thomas Baier’s ‘Clementia als politisches Kapital’ (pp. 229–245) might be regarded as a refutation of Meister’s functionalism: he seeks to explain why the virtue of clemency, both as part of the program of Julius Caesar and as urged upon Nero by Seneca, occupied such an uncomfortable place in Roman political thinking. Clementia could be, and was, used for political purposes, and attempts were made to naturalize the notion into Roman ethics, but its exercise naturally offended against the egalitarian competitiveness of the Roman ruling class: to be in a position to offer clementia was to place one’s self outside, and above, the political system, to be a tyrant or an emperor. Katja Kröss, in ‘Die stadtrömische plebs in den zeitgeschichtlichen Büchern Cassius Dios’ (pp. 275–289) argues that the Roman multitude in Cassius –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 H. van Wees, ‘Politics and Battlefield. Ideology in Greek Warfare’ in A. Powell (ed.) ‘The Greek World’ (London, 1995) pp. 153–178 esp. 157–162. GNOMON 1/93/2021 J. E. Lendon: Hartmann et al. (Hrsgg.), Moral als Kapital 29 Dio’s accounts of his own time, rather than being a violent and greedy mob as he portrays them in his accounts of the earlier principate, serve as a virtuous mirror in which the ruling class of his day can see themselves and contemplate their own faults. And finally, in the paper that goes latest in time, Karen Piepenbrink, in ‘Zwischen Gemeindeorientierung und Gottesbezug. Verhaltenserwartungen an Bischöfe in der Regula Pastoralis Gregors des Großen’ (pp. 291– 305) reads the sixth-century Gregory the Great to inquire how Christian humility could be reconciled with the practical, patronal duties of a late-antique bishop, functions that required adherence to traditional aristocratic norms of conduct and, indeed, a certain amount of aggressive swagger. Charlottesville J. E. Lendon * Chiara Thumiger: A History of the Mind and Mental Health in Classical Greek Medical Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2017. VIII, 503 S. 105 £. Occuparsi del concetto di ‘follia’ nel mondo antico significa dover tener conto dei numerosi approcci, teorie, prospettive e studi che su tale argomento si sono succeduti nel corso degli anni e che lo rendono particolarmente delicato e complesso, tanto più se si considera che negli scritti medici del V e del IV secolo non compare alcuna definizione condivisa del concetto di follia. La difficoltà del porre come oggetto di studio la salute mentale deriva anche dalla necessità di confrontarsi con testi letterari non medicali che trattano la pazzia in termini diversi rispetto agli scritti ippocratici, dotandola di una caratterizzazione che non è soltanto fisiologica, come tendono invece i testi medici, ma anche psicologica ed emotiva. Da qui l’attenzione di Thumiger verso opere di natura diversa, nonostante il suo interesse si rivolga soprattutto all’ambito medico; in questo studio, infatti, non viene mai persa di vista l’interdisciplinarietà, la necessità di studiare il mondo antico secondo una prospettiva attenta al dato antropologico e filologico, in continuo dialogo con il contesto storico-culturale di riferimento. Il periodo di riferimento di Thumiger sono i secoli V e IV a.C., il momento di massima fioritura della medicina ippocratica, i cui testi rappresentano le fonti principali dello studio in questione. Ma, come la stessa autrice dichiara nell’introduzione, l’interesse è rivolto anche a opere letterarie dello stesso periodo, messe in costante dialogo con i testi ippocratici così da avere una panoramica più ampia possibile sulla prospettiva con cui gli antichi si sono rivolti verso la salute mentale. Larga parte dell’introduzione è dedicata alla disamina degli approcci che sono stati applicati nella storia degli studi sulla pazzia e ne viene sottolineata la comune impossibilità di assumere un punto di vista completamente neutrale, scevro da qualsiasi implicazione culturale, intellettuale e scientifica nei confronti di un argomento così spinoso. Il rischio sempre presente è quello di leggere e interpretare le fonti del passato sulla base di categorie e sistemi di valori vicini alla nostra sensibilità, ma lontani da quello che era il reale sentire degli antichi. Confrontandosi con ciò, Thumiger, attraverso la sua ricerca tenta di fornire un resoconto del concetto di follia durante il V e il IV secolo con puntuale e costante riferimento ai testi ippocratici, ripromettendosi di prestar attenzione anche a GNOMON 1/93/2021

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