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Conférences de Mirko Canevaro (U. d’Édimbourg)

Directeur d’études invité de l’EHESS

Mirko Canevero, Professeur d’histoire grecque à l’université d’Édimbourg, spécialiste de l’histoire institutionnelle et sociale d’Athènes et des cités grecques, donnera un cycle de conférences en tant que directeur d’études invité à l’EHESS par Vincent Azoulay :
1. Honour, ancient (Greek) and modern – what are we talking about ?
Jeudi 17 novembre 2022 de 14h à 16h, salle Benjamin
Dans le cadre du séminaire de Vincent Azoulay "Figures du politique en Grèce ancienne"
2. Did the Greeks have a notion of subjective rights ? Timē between rights and duties
Lundi 21 novembre 2022 de 11h à 13h, salle Mariette
Dans le cadre du séminaire Cléo Carastro "Anthropologie religieuse et histoire culturelle de la Grèce ancienne"
3. Recognition and imbalances of power : honour relations and slaves’ claims vis-à-vis their masters
Mercredi 23 novembre 2022 de 11h à 13h, salle Mariette
Dans le cadre du séminaire de Cecilia D’Ercole "Échanges, interactions culturelles en Méditerranée antique"
4. Timē, Athenian citizenship and “falling short”
Jeudi 24 novembre 2022 de 14h à 16h, salle Benjamin
Dans le cadre du séminaire de Vincent Azoulay "Figures du politique en Grèce ancienne"
Résumés des conférences
Honour, ancient (Greek) and modern – what are we talking about ?
Studies of literary sources such as Homer and the tragedians (e.g. Apfel) have tended to circumscribe and reify honour (timē) as a single goal with specific and determinate content, as the external reward for competitive self-assertion. Studies of honour in classical Athens similarly focus on particular and localized manifestations of the whole – on the extent to which Athenian institutions (and particularly the lawcourts) provided an arena for feuding and aggressive competition or the various ways in which the Athenian democracy sought to channel citizens’ and non-citizens’ competitive desire for esteem as a source of communal advantage (Cohen ; Herman ; Christ ; Brüggenbrok). Such understandings of honour have their ultimate roots in the cultural determinist approach to anthropology made popular by Franz Boas and his school, notably Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. It was Benedict’s 1946 study of Japanese culture to which E. R. Dodds turned for inspiration in his account of how ancient Greece was transformed from shame-culture to guilt-culture in his The Greeks and the Irrational of 1951. By a slightly different route, comparable anthropological ideas exerted a strong influence in the view or honour articulated in M. I. Finley’s influential 1954 study, The World of Odysseus. A crucial additional influence is to be found in similarly oriented studies of traditional Mediterranean societies, both Christian and Muslim, carried out from the 1960s to the 1980s (e.g. Campbell ; Peristiany ; Gilmore) – this is particularly prominent in Horden’s and Purcell’s influential The Corrupting Sea. Together, these influences have given rise to a view of honour as a scarce non-material commodity, pursued mainly by men in small-scale, face-to-face communities in more or less aggressive forms of zero-sum competition in which one person’s gain is automatically another’s loss, intimately bound up with assertive, traditional forms of masculinity, and vulnerable especially to assaults on the honour (i.e. the chastity) of women (cf. Cairns). This view of honour as a monolithic notion with specific normative characteristics, found only in certain forms of social organization, has, however, been challenged in a growing body of recent studies (e.g. Stewart ; Krause ; Welsh ; Appiah ; Sessions ; Oprisko ; Cunningham ; Pollock ; Brennan and Pettit ; Marmot), all of which emphasize (first) that honour, far from being a single value limited to a particular range of behaviours, is a reflex of a general human attachment to esteem capable of taking a wide variety of forms ; and (second) that honour is an inclusive concept, adaptable to a wide range of group values, capable of being attached to internalized ethical principles, and as much to do with one’s obligations to others and to society as a whole as with the esteem that one seeks for oneself. This lecture will build on this body of work to make the case that Greek timē, far from being one value among many, is a pluralist, inclusive, and flexible notion, as important to ancient values of justice, friendship, and social solidarity as it is to the violence of heroic self-assertion and the pursuit of vengeance. It underpins not only the wrath of Achilles in the Iliad but also the community standards that seek to restrain and assuage that wrath. In Athenian law and politics it is as much about the rights that the law protects as it is about the pursuit of rivalry and competition through litigation.
Did the Greeks have a notion of subjective rights ? Timē between rights and duties
This lecture will explore the issue of whether the ancient Greeks – and the Athenians in particular – had a notion akin to modern conceptions of subjective rights. Scholarship on Greek law and politics displays much confusion on this issue : on the one hand, most textbooks and works on Athenian law and Athenian democracy liberally talk of ‘citizen rights’ (e.g. MacDowell 1978 ; Hansen 1991) ; on the other, many scholars have argued that the Greeks did not have a conception of subjective rights (e.g. Ostwald ; Cartledge-Edge), that priority in Greek thought was given to duties (Burnyeat), and that, if some protection of subjective rights existed, this was only a by-product of the discipline of reciprocal obligations (Schofield).
This lecture will combine an ‘emic’ perspective on Greek notions of timē (honour, dignity, ‘worth’) and timai (honours, prerogatives) with close engagement with ‘etic’ modern theorisations of subjective rights (e.g. in Hohfeld, Kelsen, Bobbio, Dworkin, MacCormick). It will argue that although Greek notions of timē do not overlap precisely with modern notions of subjective rights, nevertheless timē/timai still do cover all the key Hohfeldian incidents of rights, at the same time bypassing the alternative between the regulation of duties and the regulation of rights, by regulating rather the interpersonal (and political) relations that engender both.
Timē, it will be argued, is a ‘bidirectional’ concept that indicates both the respect that comes from others in recognition of one’s dignity, ‘worth’, and the dignity itself which is the basis of one’s claims to respect. As a result, its semantic range covers both the dignity of the subject as well as the rights that derive from that dignity, and the exterior manifestations of respect/deference towards that dignity and those rights. Thus, the dignity of the citizen Philocleon, qua citizen, of the general Pericles, qua general, or of the individual Pasion, qua public benefactor or even good friend, is the timē of each of them – their value, connected to their belonging to a group (the citizens), to being in office (as general, councillor, secretary or the like), or to particular performances in the public or private spheres. And timai are also the rights that derive from this timē (as dignity), be it the right to the protection of one’s physical integrity, the right to property, rights to political participation, as well as rights coming from special and less inclusive statuses, such as the right to be exempted from taxation or to dine at public expenses in the prytaneion.
Timē, Athenian citizenship and “falling short”
This lecture will be concerned with the Athenian honour system – the practice of honouring benefactors of the polis – and particularly with honours for Athenian citizens (and officials), rather than for foreigners. It will attempt to put civic honours (timai) awarded for exceptional performance in dialogue with the basic rights (timai) of all citizens, to understand whether the Athenian honour system undermined the fundamental equality of all democratic citizens or rather confirmed and strengthened it.
The theoretical framework of the analysis will be provided primarily by Frank Henderson Stewart’s notions of ‘horizontal honour’ and ‘vertical honour’, and by Stephen Darwall’s notions of ‘recognition respect’ and ‘appraisal respect’. Horizontal honour is ‘the kind of honour that is due to an equal’. Such honour – the basic honour of the Athenian citizen, in our case – can be lost if one fails to abide by the relevant behavioural standards, but ‘it cannot be increased’. Vertical honour, conversely, is ‘the right to special respect enjoyed by those who are superior’. Recognition respect, for Darwall, ‘consists in giving appropriate consideration or recognition to some feature of its object in deliberating about what to do’. It is respect for a status, not for a performance – once again, it is the kind of respect implied by the timē of all Athenian citizens. Conversely, appraisal respect is about acknowledging and showing esteem for excellent performance – as honorary decrees normally do. This lecture will take advantage of these modern typologies to clarify honour dynamics in Athens, but, at the same time, it will use Athenian conceptions and institutions to problematise modern notions. It will make the case that the Athenian honour system shows a tension between two opposing drives. One is to generalise as widely as possible appraisal respect for successful performance while accommodating all its manifestations within the remit of the horizontal honour of citizens : a good citizen is expected at some point to find himself in the position and behave in such a way as to deserve honours. Otherwise, he falls short of the standards of honourable behaviour for citizens. The other, opposing drive is one to provide, through the honour system, a means for remarkable (i.e. wealthy) individuals to accrue differential appraisal respect above the baseline of citizen timē, yet still without solidifying this into a form of rank-based differential recognition respect, and still with the dēmos fully in control of the means and ideology underpinning the system. Both models are grounded on the fundamental flexibility of the Greek notion of timē, capable of accommodating both competition and cooperation, both hierarchy and extreme egalitarianism.

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