Roberta Berardi

As I always say when introducing my current DPhil project, if we were in a library looking for a collection of fragments of Hellenistic orators, the results of our research would be really disappointing, as such a work for the moment simply does not exist. The reasons are surely multiple. Oratory in the Hellenistic age has been for a long time seen as a minor aspect of the social, political and literary scenery. The myth according to which oratory quite mysteriously dissolved itself after the battle of Chaeronea in 338, retreating suddenly in the anonymity of rhetorical schools, had been widely accepted and taken for granted for centuries of Classical scholarship, until recently, when finally the need of a revaluation of oratory in the period has emerged. In 1972 Wooten tried to write an account of the situation of oratory in the Hellenistic period in his doctoral thesis, although he mainly argued that it was still too much dependant on Demosthenes and had no typical new elements. Kremmydas’ and Tempest’s book “Hellenistic oratory: continuity and change” from 2013 provided, on the other hand, a probably less biased approach to the subject which underlined some aspects of originality, of “change”, alongside those of continuity, as said in the title. Despite the importance of the reconsideration of Hellenistic oratory we owe to this book, no role has been given to the actual personalities: the orators, the people who pronounced the speeches whose nature we want to study. Therefore, a major problem still remains: who were the Hellenistic orators? Therefore, my DPhil project will consist in a first comprehensive commented edition of these fragments — mostly transmitted by indirect tradition in both Greek and Latin, but also sometimes preserved on papyrus — aiming to reassess the role of oratory and to shed new light on its forms in the Hellenistic age.

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