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A Study of Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis as Early Imperial Greek Texts and Late Antique Latin Translations



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Bonaventura, Marco 


This thesis examines the literary context of Dares Phrygius’ De Excidio Troiae Historia and Dictys Cretensis’ Ephemeris Belli Troiani, in order to understand the authors’ motives, target audience, and textual influences. It analyses separately the Greek originals and their Latin translations, which were produced in radically different literary environments.

Chapter 1 examines the Greek originals within the context of Second Sophistic Homeric revisionism, focusing on Dio Chrysostom’s Trojan Oration and Philostratus’ Heroicus. It argues that many of Dares’ narrative elements were influenced by Dio’s rationalistic critique of Homer’s account, and that Philostratus in many respects responds to Dictys, correcting facts, borrowing material, or even joining it to solve a Homeric problem. Chapter 2 contends that Dares and Dictys engage in the popular early imperial practices of pseudepigraphy and pseudo-documentarism, and as such, were not intended to be taken seriously. It also discusses the ancient novel, arguing that the contradiction between the narrator Dictys’ pro-Greek bias and the moral degeneration of the Greeks in his narrative resembles the common novelistic phenomenon of an author undermining the narratorial voice.

Chapter 3 turns to the Latin translations, situating them within the context of late Latin historiography. It argues that the persistent Sallustian allusions in Dictys indicate that the translator interpreted the Trojan War through Sallust’s system of moral and political philosophy, and that the Latin Dares was strongly influenced by late Latin breviaria, as it is a brief yet comprehensive treatment of its subject, replete with statistics. Chapter 4 investigates late antique Greek-to-Latin translations, arguing for strong similarities between the Latin Dictys and Julius Valerius’ Alexander Romance in translation style, character portrayal, and the use of allusion to add new emphases to the original. It also examines the late antique pseudepigraphic tradition, in particular the close relationship between Dares, Dictys, and the Historia Augusta, which also employs pseudonyms, reinvents the past through fabricated (yet plausible) sources, and demonstrates an interest in ephemerides, libraries, and scholarly activity.





Hardie, Philip


Dares Phrygius, Dictys Cretensis, Trojan War, Reception of Homer, Early Imperial Greek Literature, Latin Translations in Late Antiquity


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Cambridge Australia Poynton Scholarship, Cambridge Trust