Nathalie Assan Libé

I got a diploma in Greek palaeography, about two couples of redundant chapters in the Biblioteca of Photius, supervised by F. Ronconi in L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and now I am a PhD student at Paris Sorbonne. I will defend in November 2017 my PhD in Greek Literature on ‟Beggars and beggary from Homer to the Cynics”, supervised by P. Demont. I am interested in paleography and philology, and I would like to understand how the texts evolve with the social context of their reception.

In my PhD dissertation, I want to understand how beggary is considered in the Greek society and what are the ideological functions of beggars’ representations. Without any epigraphic or archaeological testimony, the sources are only textual: Homer, Solon, Tytaeus, Theognis, Hipponax, Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Plato. The importance of poetry in that corpus confirms the idea developed by B. Gentili in Poesia e pubblico nella Grecia antica, in 1984, who declared that the Greek poetry has a pragmatic function, related to the sociological context. In this poetry, the picture of beggary is paradoxical: 1) the πτωχός, « beggar », is the man who asks some alms, a free gift which challenges the principle of the gift reciprocity developped by M. Mauss in 1925 in his Essai sur le don; 2) the second problem is the paradoxical place of the beggar in the city. Poverty puts poor people out of the city and the Athenians punish the idleness with atimia. However, the beggar is nor an anchorite nor a hermit, but he represents a form of ‟inside marginality”. In my work, I adopt three perspectives: a lexical study (connotations, synonymies), a study of the different literary functions of this character, medium of emotions or actions, and an analysis of the argumentative role of beggary in political and philosophical discourses. Through this poetic character, the Greeks symbolically reinstate in the city poor people during difficult economic moments of the archaic and classical periods.


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