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Lisa Irene Hau
Tragic history is a phrase coined in the late 19th century to describe a certain type of Hellenistic history writing, which was thought to have Peripatetic underpinnings, and whose main proponents were Duris of Samos and Phylarchus (of Athens or Naucratis). The expression gained currency quickly and is still widely used to designate un-Polybian, sensationalist, and emotionally involved historiography from the Hellenistic period (the works of which have all been lost), in spite of the current communis opinio among specialists that there was no real “school” of tragic history.
Constantina, born in c. 320, was the eldest daughter of Constantine I. She was married twice, first in 335 to her cousin Hannibalianus, whose death in 337 left her widowed, and second in 351 to another cousin, Gallus Caesar. Between her marriages, she resided in Rome, founding the church of St. Agnes on the Via Nomentana, where she would be buried in an adjacent mausoleum after her death in 354. Constantina was an active political player in the early 350s. In 350, she intervened against the usurpation of Magnentius through proclaiming the magister militum Vetranio Caesar to her brother Constantius, and she exerted influence on her husband Gallus when the couple resided in Antioch from 351 to 354. Constantina was venerated as a saint in Rome in the 7th century.
While our sources mention numerous prices of a wide range of commodities, the question remains to what extent these prices offer insight into the ancient economy. Despite the wealth of data, reliable prices of everyday goods under normal market conditions are rare. The extent to which they can be used to analyze such topics as market integration, living standards, market stability, and inflation is limited. Only regarding Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt do we possess sufficient market prices (rather than imposed prices or valuations) to conduct meaningful analyses. For most of the rest of the empire, the prices—in particular those of everyday goods—are generally too uncertain, too sparse, and too diverse to form a solid basis for economic analysis. It is a valid question, moreover, to what extent prices in the ancient world reflect the interplay of supply and demand according to modern economic theory. Nevertheless, ancient writers depict price levels as depending on the interplay of supply and demand, and market transactions, as narrated in our sources, emphasizing competition and bargaining, make clear that price formation was largely determined by economic forces. Hence, prices fluctuated over time and differed in various places. The authorities tried to keep prices of staple foods low by influencing market conditions, but direct price fixing was rare.
Jakob Fortunat Stagl
Peter v. Möllendorff
From a functional point of view, metalepsis can be defined as the shift of a figure within a text (usually a character or a narrator) from one narrative level to another, marking a trangression of ontological borders. This procedure makes the reader or addressee aware of the fictional status of a text and ensures the maintenance of a specifically aesthetic distance, thereby counteracting any experience of immersion in the literary work. At the same time, it can be used as an effective instrument for producing enargeia (vividness), and through its sudden and surprising character it can also create strong effects of pathos as well as comedic effects. Thanks to the specific demands of a culture poised between orality and literacy, ancient literature knows primarily “smooth” metaleptic transitions, that is, ones that do not involve a strong sense of “jolt.” As procedure for transgressing borders between narrative levels, it has many manifestations in antiquity; as a literary motif, however, it appears rather seldom. The study of metalepsis in classical literature started with de Jong’s fundamental article of 2009.
Reception in historical novels set in ancient Greece and Rome differs fundamentally between the 19th and the 20th/21st centuries. In the 19th century, reception was governed heavily by imperial attitudes and religious controversies, particularly in regard to claims about the true Christian faith under the Roman Empire. Hence, novels set in Rome or the Roman Empire dominated the field. In the 20th century, attitudes to empire and religion were drastically revised in the wake of World War I. The growing authority of academic history in an age of scientific progress was another factor which helped to produce a decline in the reputation of historical fiction. Other changes, however, were more stimulating in nature, including the use of ancient Greece as a setting, more impressive source analysis, the rise of female novelists, different subjects and perspectives, and new social and sexual attitudes. These and other developments lifted the reputation of historical fiction once more.