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Document Details :
Title: The Study of Intermediate Authors and its Role in the Interpretation of Historical Fragments
Author(s): LENFANT, Dominique
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 43 Date: 2013
This paper aims to address some of the questions raised by the study of fragmentary prose writers from a methodological point of view. It especially concerns the study of intermediate authors, that is: the authors who (seem to) bear witness to lost writings within their own works. Whereas scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries were first of all concerned with gathering so-called fragments, a more critical view developed in the last decades of the 20th century. Some scholars pointed out that fragments were the result of a selection and adaptation made by an intermediate author, and they consequently tried to take this into account in the process of interpretation. Now, this requires complex analysis. This paper argues, first, that general studies on the methods and aims of a specific intermediate author can and should help in this process, second, that considering the intermediate authors can and should play a role at many levels of interpretation. Such needs are exemplified with concrete examples. It is, first, shown how the general study of Athenaeus’ methods and aims has recently influenced the edition and interpretation of historical fragments found in his work, so that it could play an essential role in determining such important features as the chronology of the quoted historian or the paternity of value judgements. Then, it is argued that the study of intermediate authors may help assessing whether a fragment may be considered a witness to the original text’s vocabulary, as well as determining whether an explanation is due to the original or to the intermediate author. The study of intermediate authors consequently appears to be integral to any solid interpretation of fragments.