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THE OATH IN ARCHAIC AND CLASSICAL GREECE

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A research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust

Director: Professor A.H. Sommerstein

Acharnai stele (c) EfaThis is the homepage of the Oath in Archaic and Classical Greece Project, based in the Department of Classics, University of Nottingham, directed by Alan H. Sommerstein, and funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which has created a database of all references to oaths in Greek texts of all kinds from the earliest alphabetic inscriptions down to 322 BC, the year of the death of Aristotle and the end of the classical Athenian democracy, and is now engaged in the analysis and interpretation of this evidence, preparing a two-volume study of The Oath in Archaic and Classical Greece (click here for details of this and our other publications).

The oath (if you’re not quite sure what an oath is – or even if you think you are – read this explanation) was an institution of fundamental importance across an enormously wide range of social interactions throughout the ancient Greek world, its binding force one of the most important contributions of religion to social stability and harmony. For this reason, oaths are uttered, prescribed, or referred to in almost every kind of literary or inscriptional text we have from archaic and classical Greece, and a comprehensive study of the subject requires a survey covering all these texts. Until the project began its work in 2004, no such survey existed. Indeed there had been no comprehensive, dedicated scholarly study of the oath in ancient Greek society since 1902, though during the century since then much new evidence had become available and the study of society, ancient and modern, had been revolutionized. The aim of the project was to fill this gap by the creation and exploitation of our database. It has been created mainly by Andrew Bayliss and Isabelle Torrance , under the general direction of Alan Sommerstein, with valuable assistance from Jennifer Edmond and her successor Teri Browett of the Humanities Research Centre, and Richard Tyler-Jones from the Academic and Research Applications Team. As promised from the start, the database is now being made available for general use. Here you can quickly search among our 3700-plus records using a wide range of search criteria, and find the answers to questions that we may not even have thought of asking.


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