Thucydide sur les ktiseis en sicile et sur d’autres antiquités

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Benedetto Bravo



Thucydides’ so-called « Sicilian archaiologia », which opens his account of the Athe- nian expedition to Sicily of 415–413 BC, does not contain information indispensable for that account. It rather serves as a signal marking a decisive turn of the story. It is not a loose collection of pieces of information on the remote past of Sicily, derived from Antiochos’ Σικελικά or from Hellanikos’ Ἱέρειαι τῆς Ἥρας αἱ ἐν Ἄργει or from other sources. Neither is it an exhaustive, self-sufficient discourse. It is a brilliantly written sketch by which Thucydides wanted to show his ability of getting precise knowledge about particular facts of the ancient past: a literary ἀγώνισμα on the field of antiquarian research. While tacitly relying on Hellanikos’ Ἱέρειαι for the dating of the main Sicilian ktiseis, he tried to establish a more precise chronology at least for a few ktiseis and to give details on the νόμιμα of at least some Sicilian poleis. A similar interest in antiquarian research can be observed in some other places of Thucydides’ work, for instance in his sketch of the topography of old Athens, in his reconstruction of the festival that used to be celebrated at Delos in remote times, or in his remarks on the beginnings of Sparta’s politeia. His treatment of the last topic is particularly significant: he takes a stand that is different both from the stand of Herodotus and from that of Hellanikos, without mentioning the differences.


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