Collectors, Scholars, and Forgers in the Ancient World: Object Lessons

ISBN : 9780198759300

Carolyn Higbie
304 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Feb 2017
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Collectors, Scholars, and Forgers in the Ancient World focuses on the fascination which works of art, texts, and antiquarian objects inspired in Greeks and Romans in antiquity and draws parallels with other cultures and eras to offer contexts for understanding that fascination. Statues, bronze weapons, books, and bones might have been prized for various reasons: because they had religious value, were the work of highly regarded artists and writers, had been possessed by famous mythological figures, or were relics of a long disappeared past. However, attitudes towards these objects also changed over time: sculpture which was originally created for a religious purpose became valuable as art and could be removed from its original setting, while historians discovered value in inscriptions and other texts for supporting historical arguments and literary scholars sought early manuscripts to establish what authors really wrote. As early as the Hellenistic era, some Greeks and Romans began to collect objects and might even display them in palaces, villas, or gardens; as these objects acquired value, a demand was created for more of them, and so copyists and forgers created additional pieces - while copyists imitated existing pieces of art, sometimes adapting to their new settings, forgers created new pieces to complete a collection, fill a gap in historical knowledge, make some money, or to indulge in literary play with knowledgeable readers. The study of forged relics is able to reveal not only what artefacts the Greeks and Romans placed value on, but also what they believed they understood about their past and how they interpreted the evidence for it. Drawing on the latest scholarship on forgery and fakes, as well as a range of examples, this book combines stories about frauds with an analysis of their significance, and illuminates and explores the link between collectors, scholars, and forgers in order to offer us a way to better understand the power that objects held over the ancient Greeks and Romans.


List of Illustrations

A year (and more) of collecting, scholarship, and fakes
The long interest in forgery
My own approach to the study of forgery
Definitions of forgery

1 Collectors, Collecting, and Collections
An introduction to ancient collecting and collections
Foreign collectors: Croesus
Foreign collectors: Xerxes
Greek collectors: oracles, writing, and forgery
Alexander the Great
Collectors in the Hellenistic era
Roman collectors
Collecting, scholarship, and forgery

2 Visual Forgeries
Famous names and the artwork of the past
Roman collectors: originals and copies
The developmental view of art
Forgery and forgeries

3 Textual Forgeries
The relics of poets
Autograph manuscripts
Education, literary play, analysis, and forgery
The effects of disseminating texts
Forgery, authentication, and erudition
Documentary forgeries
The documents associated with Alexander the Great
The Lindian Chronicle and sources
Documents, handwriting, and forgeries in legal matters of Athens and Rome
Counterfeit coins

4 The Forgery of the Past
Tharsagoras, Timachidas, and the Lindian Chronicle
Pliny the Elder
Phlegon of Tralles
Antiquarians and Homer
The Trojan War in the Lindian Chronicle
Forging the past
Playing with Homer: Dictys
Playing with Homer: Philostratus, 'On Heroes'

5 Conclusion


About the author: 

Carolyn Higbie is Park Professor of Classics at the University at Buffalo, where she has taught since 1999. She has previously held teaching positions at Harvard University and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as well as being named a Fellow of the Humanities Institute of the University at Buffalo in 2011-12 and Fellow at the National Center for the Humanities in 2003-04. Her previous publications include The Lindian Chronicle and the Greek Recreation of their Past (OUP, 2003), Heroes' Names, Homeric Identities (Garland, 1995), and Measure and Music: Enjambement and Sentence Structure in the Iliad (OUP, 1990).

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