On 7 October at 12 Neeme Näripä will defend his doctoral thesis „Stasis: Ein antikes Konzept“.
Professor of Classical Philology Janika Päll, University of Tartu
Dr Martin Steinrück, University of Freiburg (Schweiz)
Prof.em.Dr.Dr.h.c. Jürgen von Ungern-Sternberg
Dr Manfred Kraus, University of Tübingen
The Greek term stasis has usually been treated isolated in such fields as political history, ancient natural sciences and rhetoric. In the first instance it denotes a political conflict, a sedition or a seditious party, in the second a rest as opposed to movement or a position and in the last one a rhetorical conflict or stance. From these seemingly different meanings of the word difficulties arise because we usually understand conflict as an action, rest as its opposite and position not necessarily as an opposition. Further, the origins of rhetorical use of this term have been obscure. This study suggests that stasis is a single concept with an astonishingly coherent and diachronically rather stabile semantic field where initially opposition played a central role. The concept of stasis comprises the meanings of struggle, stillness and position: it is a hostile standing-apart, during which also active fights may break out any moment. Stasis is defined through opposition, it is what separates the enemies, opposing forces and movements etc., it could be quiescence (hence rest), space (hence postion) or struggle (hence fighting). Tension and potentiality of a change are characteristic to stasis, as well as undecidedness. Politically, stasis endangers the established status quo. Classical democracy appears as an attempt to 'tame' stasis: it took place in assemblies and courts, governed by procedural rules. So, stasis came to signify a special verbal conflict (though it also retaines the meaning of nonverbal conflict). In Roman times, a paradigmatic cultural change in the direction of normativity took place as well in Greece: democracy was replaced by monarchy, polytheism finally by monotheism etc. The concept of stasis also changed. Its meaning of conflict decreased and the word took up new meanings as a single argument or one-sided opinion. Namely for this reason were commentators from the late antiquity able to compare the rhetorical staseis with Aristotelian categories, which do not refer to conflict at all. If stasis was in Archaic times a 'wild' conflict, it became 'tamed' in Classical times. In Roman times, an increase of 'one-sidedness' of stasis can be observed. The original semantic field of stasis has been preserved but new nuances have evolved which explain the rhetorical use of the term.