The Ancient Civil Community: Political, Socioeconomic, Religious, and Mythological Dimensions
(Project timeframe: 2013–2016)
The ancient civil community is believed to have existed in two major forms – the Greek polis and the Roman civitas. Both were civil communities with different organizational structures. For a long time in historical scholarship, it was accepted to bring them together by highlighting their fundamental similarities. Recently, however, researchers have been focusing more on the differences between these two forms which are explained by the specifics of the geographical and socio-cultural development of Greece and Rome. The Research Group uses the following research methods as the methodological basis for their research:
- Comparative historical research (comparing phenomena). For instance, research into tyrannical regimes of Ancient Western Greece (e.g., Sicily) requires that they be compared with the tyrannical regimes of Balkan Greece;
- The genetic historical method (researching a phenomenon as it emerged and evolved). This method is used to conduct research into the evolution of Athens’ civil community during the Archaic and Classical periods;
- The historical-typological method (identifying a phenomenon’s specific features). The Group uses this methodology when researching each of the themes.
This research project is focused on the historical mythologies of imperial states in Antiquity, which are considered an essential part of the wider cultural context. The purpose of the research was to investigate the origin and evolution of different kinds of political mythologema-recurring themes in myths - which were characteristic of imperial states in Antiquity. The research also aimed to identify the mechanism of their transfer, dissemination and modification.
The major theme of the research carried out by Valery R. Gushchin, the Group's Leading Research Fellow was 'From Polis to Empire: the Evolution of the Religious and Mythological Beliefs of Athenians'.
Senior Research Fellow Denis V. Bubnov’s research interests lie in the study of social and political history in Southern Italy and Sicily in the Classical and Postclassical periods (V-IV centuries AD). In view of the central research topic – mythology of imperial antiquity, Boubnov focused on issues of ideology and propaganda in the political life of the region, as well as addressing a number of other historical research challenges.
Maxim P. Trofimov, a Senior Research Fellow of the Group, focused his research on the theme 'Myth and history in the works of Diodorus Siculus'. The Universal History or Bibliotheca Historica by Diodorus Siculus (I century BC) is a major monumental book [originally 40 books in 3 parts] of ancient Greek historiography. It is little-known to the wider reading public, partly because there is no modern Russian translation. But the main reason is that contemporary historical studies commonly view the ‘Bibliotheca’ as no more than a compilation of what earlier writers had set down and Diodorus’ inability to create a historical concept of his own.
'The Trojan legend in the narratives of medieval historians' was Senior Research Fellow Maxim V. Domskiy’s theme for research as part of the project 'Historical Mythologies of Imperial Antiquity'. He focused on the way medieval culture perceived the myths of Imperial Antiquity, looking at how medieval writers borrowed and adapted plots from Virgil’s Aeneid. Also he carefully examines Virgil’s opening story of Aeneas’s flight from Troy, which was reflected in the history of many European (and some Asian) peoples in medieval times and exploited by historiographers many times in the period from the VII to XVII centuries.
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