091201 Relevant Expertise Aggregation: An Aristotelian middle way for epistemic democracy
Josiah Ober, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Decision-making in a democracy must respect democratic values, while advancing citizens’ interests. Decisions made in an epistemic democracy must also take into account relevant knowledge about the world. Neither aggregation of independent guesses nor deliberation, the standard approaches to epistemic democracy, offers a satisfactory theory of decision-making that is at once time-sensitive and capable of setting agendas endogenously. Analysis of passages by Aristotle and legislative process in ancient Athens points to a “middle way” that transcends those limitations. Relevant Expertise Aggregation (REA) offers an epistemic approach to decision-making in democratic organizations with minimally competent voters who share certain interests and knowledge. REA allows better choices among options to be made by basing choices on expertise in multiple relevant domains, through a time-sensitive process conjoining deliberation with voting. REA differs from a standard Condorcet jury in aggregating votes by relevant domains, based on reputations and arguments of domain-experts.
This paper replaces version 121101 posted in December 2011, version 071102 posted in July 2011, and version 090901 posted in September 2009.

081201 Thucydides as prospect theorist
Josiah Ober, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Opposing the tendency to read Thucydides as a strong realist, committed to a theory of behavior that assumes rationality as expected utility maximization, Ned Lebow and Clifford Orwin (among others) emphasize Thucydides’ attentiveness to deviations from rationality by individuals and states. This paper argues that Thucydides grasped the principles underlying contemporary prospect theory, which explains why people over-weight potential losses. Thucydides offers salient examples of excessive risk-aversion and excessive risk-seeking by decision-makers variously faced with high or low probabilities of losses or gains. Thucydides shows that leaders' rhetoric can limit or exacerbate the political effects of bias in risk assessment.

071202 Making Sense of “Nonsense” Inscriptions: Non-Greek Words Associated with Amazons and Scythians on Ancient Greek Vases
Adrienne Mayor, Stanford University; John Colarusso, McMaster University; and David Saunders, J. Paul Getty Museum
Download PDF Abstract: More than 2,000 “nonsense” inscriptions (meaningless strings of Greek letters) appear on ancient Greek vases. We ask whether some nonsense inscriptions and non- Greek words associated with figures of Scythians and Amazons represent meaningful sounds (phonemes) in foreign languages spoken in “Scythia” (Black Sea-Caucasus region). We analyze the linguistic patterns of nonsense inscriptions and non-Greek words on thirteen vases featuring Scythians and Amazons by otherwise literate vase painters (550-450 BC). Our results reveal that for the first time in more than two millennia, some puzzling inscriptions next to Scythians and Amazons can be deciphered as appropriate names and words in ancient forms of Iranian, Abkhazian, Circassian, Ubykh, and Georgian. These examples appear to be the earliest attestations of Caucasian and other “barbarian” tongues. This new linguistic approach to so-called nonsense inscriptions sheds light on Greco-Scythian relations, literacy, bilingualism, iconography, and ethnicity; it also raises questions for further study.
This paper replaces 031201 originally published in March 2012.

071201 Democracy's Dignity
Josiah Ober, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Dignity, as equal high standing characterized by non-humiliation and non- infantilization, is democracy’s third core value. Along with liberty and equality, it is a necessary condition for collective self-governance. Dignity enables robust exercise of liberty and equality while resisting both neglectful libertarianism and paternalistic egalitarianism. The civic dignity required for democracy is specified through a taxonomy of incompletely and fully moralized forms of dignity. Distinctive features of different regimes of dignity are modeled by simple games and illustrated by historical case studies. Unlike traditional meritocracy and universal human dignity, a civic dignity regime is theoretically stable in a population of self-interested social agents. It is real-world stable because citizens are predictably well motivated to defend those threatened with indignity and because they have resources for effective collective action against dignitary threats. Meritocracy and civic dignity are not inherently liberal, but may persist within a liberal democracy committed to universal human dignity.
This paper replaces version 011201 originaly posted in January 2012, and 071101 originally posted in July 2011.

041201 State revenue and expenditure in the Han and Roman empires
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Comparative analysis of the sources of income of the Han and Roman imperial states and of the ways in which these polities allocated state revenue reveals both similarities and differences. While it seems likely that the governments of both empires managed to capture a similar share of GDP, the Han state may have more heavily relied on direct taxation of agrarian output and people. By contrast, the mature Roman empire derived a large share of its income from domains and levies that concentrated on mining and trade. Collection of taxes on production probably fell far short of nominal rates. Han officialdom consistently absorbed more public spending than its Roman counterpart, whereas Roman rulers allocated a larger share of state revenue to agents drawn from the upper ruling class and to the military. This discrepancy was a function of different paths of state formation and may arguably have had long-term consequences beyond the fall of both empires.

031201 Making Sense of “Nonsense” Inscriptions: Non-Greek Words Associated with Amazons and Scythians on Ancient Greek Vases
Adrienne Mayor, Stanford University; John Colarusso, McMaster University; and David Saunders, J. Paul Getty Museum
Revised July 2012. See 071202 entry.

021206 Mixed capital: classicism in unexpected places
Grant Parker, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - The reception of Greco-Roman antiquity in South Africa exhibits enormous variety. The current essay is an introduction to a proposed volume that explores as many aspects as possible. Several instances of South African classicism cluster around Cecil John Rhodes, but equally there is significant material involving people who have had little or no formal instruction in Latin or Greek.

021205 Against Ornament: O.M. Freidenberg’s Concept of Metaphor in Ancient and Modern Contexts
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: Application of the neglected developmental theories of Olga M. Freidenberg (regarding “metaphorization”) to the poetry of Pindar. Originally delivered at a conference on Historical Poetics (Chicago, May 2011), it will appear in a revised version in the proceedings of that event.

021204 The Myth before the Myth Began
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: An extension of earlier studies on the semantics of muthos, with attention to the language and perspectives of early Greek mythographers. Various mediated forms of story-telling about the mythical and historical past, orally and in written form, are examined. [Forthcoming, Proceedings of UCLA Conference on Mythography (April 2009) ]

021203 Distant Landmarks: Homer and Hesiod
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: The techniques of the Hellenistic epic poem as seen from the perspective of archaic Greek poetry. A revised version of this essay will appear in the Cambridge Companion to Apollonius (edit J. Murray and C. Schroeder).

021202 Apolo, el ejecutante
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: Originally a talk delivered at the colloquium Mito y Performance (De Grecia a la Modernidad) at the University of La Plata, Argentina (June 2009), this paper explores the relationship between the Homeric hymns to Hermes and Apollo regarding the representation of their respective protagonists as players of the kithara or lyre. The ideology of the mousikoi agones at Delphi and in the Athenian Panathenaia are found to underlie these images. The paper has now been published in the volume Mito y performance edit. A.M. González de Tobia et al. (La Plata, 2009).

021201 Le Silence au pays du Mythos
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: An analysis of words for sound and for silence leads to close reading of a number of passages in Pindar, followed by new suggestions for reading controverted passages in Nemean 7. This paper was given at the colloquium Sagesse et silence at the Sorbonne in June 2011 and will appear in a volume resulting from that event.

011203 Writing Alexandria as the (Common)place
Susan Stephens, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - The interactions between Greece and the East in fictional narrative remains problematic, because however scrupulous our attempts to disambiguate the 'Greece' interacting with the East, or to insist on Greek regional and temporal pluralities, the simple fact of one language versus many undercuts good intentions. Anyone writing in Greek (whatever his native language, cultural traditions, or time of composition) must have had a Greek education. This means exposure to and de facto absorption of the same but quite limited number of texts and the values thus encoded. As a result, a more or less unified set of assumptions are attached to writing a narrative in Greek -- whether we want to imagine this as a full-blown paideia, or simply an inevitable cultural shorthand. If we shift our focus to a non-Greek perspetive, a more useful question might be: what aspects of our non-Greek partners within the contact zone appear in Greek narratives (writ large), and to what extent are these narratives typical of the narrqtive foctions of that partner? In what follows I pursue this line of thought with focus on one 'East' -- Egypt -- by considering first how Egyptians represent themselves in their own fictions before discussing the intricate levels of reception of these Egyptians within the milieux of Greek writing from Herodotus to the novels.

011202 Writing Alexandria as the (Common)place
Susan Stephens, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - In 333 BC Alexandria did not exist. The transition from a place devoid of cultural significance (for Greeks) to the first city of the Mediterranean was not just a matter of a few buildings or some Greek immigrants. The making of place is central to the process of identity formation, which is in turn integral to the construction of social orer. Place-making requires a sense of shared and evolving history—a past, present, and future that is commonly encoded in genealogies; investment in common myths and rituals; and social hierarchies that both inform and are informed by the specific landscape. For this process of place-making, it follows that poets would play an important role both as repositories for, and as artificers of, cultural memory. This paper discusses how Callimachus helps to create the cultural memory of ancient Alexandria in this poetry.

011201 Democracy's Dignity
Josiah Ober, Stanford University
This paper has been revised. See 071201 entry.