About the lecture

The earliest Greek prose text devoted to horses and horsemanship was written by an Athenian called Simon in the 5th century BC. Simon was a recognized authority, name-checked by Aristophanes, quoted reverently by Xenophon, and remembered for criticizing the painter Mikon for inaccurate representation of a horse's eyelashes. Only excerpts and quotations from Simon's text survive; the longest is a chapter in the Hippiatrica, a Late Antique compilation on the care and medical treatment of horses. Simon's text was added to the Hippiatrica in 10th century Constantinople, in the context of a re-editing of the compilation in the imperial scriptorium; it is preserved in two manuscripts of the 13th century. In the excerpt, Simon discusses the ideal conformation or "points" of the horse, and uses the term συμμετρία, a key word in ancient discussions of anatomy, especially that of the sculptor PolykleitosSimon is said to have set up a bronze statue of a horse at the City Eleusinion in the Athenian Agora. Although a fragment has been identified as belonging to the statue's base, the horse itself is lost, but may have represented a specimen of perfect proportions along the lines of the Polykleitos' Doryphoros. 

About the speaker

Anne McCabe is Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford. Her doctorate was on the manuscript transmission of the Greek texts on horses and horse medicine known as the Hippiatrica. She worked for over a decade at the Athenian Agora Excavations, as well as at the Al-Andarin Excavations in Syria, and is currently completing a corpus of dated Byzantine inscriptions from Constantinople and its hinterland begun by Cyril Mango and Ihor Ševčenko.