Institute for Mediterranean Studies


Leaders and Crisis Management in Ancient Greek Literature

Principal Investigator: Melina Tamiolaki, Dept. of Philology UoC
Host Institution: IMS/FORTH
Collaborating Institution: University of Crete

The proposed project is part of a broader research which aims to offer a comprehensive study of the phenomenon of leadership and crisis management in Greco-Roman Antiquity. In the context of the call of the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation and on the basis of the timetable it sets, the present project will concentrate on four genres of ancient Greek literature (historiography, rhetoric, comedy and biography) which cover a broad chronological spam: from the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century AD. We will study closely Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the comic poet Aristophanes, the orators Demosthenes and Aeschines, Plutarch and Arrian. We will also greatly rely on theoretical texts dealing with the issue of leadership in Antiquity, such as Xenophon’s Hieron, Isocrates’ Nicocles and To Nicocles, the first two books of Aristotle’s Politics, the sixth book of Polybius’ Histories and Cicero’s De re publica.

The research team will offer a typology and analysis of three basic categories of crisis:

  1. emergency crisis incidents in times of war or peace, such as disputes, military threats, plagues, etc., which require the undertaking of immediate measures
  2. breaches of trust between leaders and their followers the means (e.g. harangues) by which leaders attempt to restore order
  3. conspiracies, treasons and revolts.

Our approach has the following aims:

  • to offer a theoretical and conceptual framework for a more accurate definition of the term “crisis” and to use modern theories of crisis in the study of the texts of Greco-Roman Antiquity.
  • on the basis of the theoretical background set, to provide a classification of crisis incidents, as these are depicted in the texts under study.
  • to provide a narratological analysis of the crisis episodes.
  • to offer a comparative examination of the leaders who played a role (positive or negative) in crisis management.
  • to exploit findings in order to create an ontology of crisis in Antiquity
  • finally, an ultimate goal of the present project is to trace possible analogies between crises in Antiquity and contemporary crises, thus contributing to the political debates of our time.

Research Team:
Melina Tamiolaki (PI, Dept. of Philology, University of Crete), Panayotis Androulakis (PhD student, Dept. of Philology, UoC), Anna-Maria Miliara (PhD student, Dept. of Philology, UoC), Roberta Dainotto (PhD student, Dept. of Philology, UoC), Dr. Maria Papadopoulou (Dept. of Computer Sciences, University of Savoie, France, research associate) and Dr. Markus Zimmermann (Dept. of Ancient History, University of Bayreuth, Germany, research associate).


Μ. Tamiolaki, «Resolving Crisis Through Speech: The Rhetoric of the Past in Xenophon’s Anabasis», Tagung Gehrke. International Conference in Honor of H.-J. Gehrke, Παν/μιο του Freiburg (Σεπτέμβριος 2022).

Μ. Ταμιωλάκη, «A Turbulent Soul: the Emotions of the Tyrant in Xenophon’s Hiero», Ανακοίνωση σε διεθνές Workshop, Emotions in Xenophon (Παν/μιο Bar-Ilan, Απρίλιος 2022)

Μ. Ταμιωλάκη-Μ. Παπαδοπούλου, "Σημασιολογικά δεδομένα και αναπαράσταση της ιστορικής γνώσης: το παράδειγμα της Οντολογίας LACRIMAHist, Ημερίδα  "Ποσοτική και Ποιοτική Ανάλυση Δεδομένων στην Ιστορική Έρευνα"  Σεπέμβριος 2021(βίντεο και παρουσίαση σε ανοικτή πρόσβαση:

Μ. Ταμιωλάκη- Μ. Παπαδοπούλου: “Semantic data and the representation of historical knowledge: the example of the LACRIMALit Ontology”, 51 st joint meeting of the CIDOC CRM SIG, 44 th FRBR SIG and ISO/TC46/SC4/WG9. 12-15 October 2021, University of Oslo, Faculty of arts, Unit for digital documentation

Conferences, colloquia, scientific meetings:

March 28, 2022: first meeting of the research team (online). Distribution of tasks and co-ordination of activities

May 18, 2022: scientific meeting at the IMS between the PhD students of the project and postgraduate students of the University of Crete, Department of Philology. The meeting was organized in the framework of the postgraduate seminar taught by Melina Tamiolaki (seminar topic: Power in Crisis: Revolutions, Dissensions and Conflicts in Graeco-Roman Antiquity).
Postgraduate and PhD students presented their work.

October 20-21, 2023: International Conference, Rethymnon (Conceptualizing Crisis in Antiquity. Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Perspectives).

Image: "Alexander the Great" by kudumomo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Project Team

Melina Tamiolaki

Associate Professor in Ancient Greek Literature
University of Crete
Curriculum vitae

Maria Papadopoulou

Postdoctoral researcher
Curriculum vitae

Markus Zimmermann

Postdoctoral researcher
Curriculum vitae

Anna-Maria Miliara

Ph.D. candidate

Panayotis Androulakis

Ph.D. candidate

Roberta Dainotto

Ph.D. candidate
Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) General Secretariat for Research and Innovation (GSRI)