The ancient Greeks’ concept of “the hero” was very different from what we understand by the term today. In 24 installments, based on the Harvard course Nagy has taught and refined since the 1970s, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours explores civilization’s roots in Classical literature—a lineage that continues to challenge and inspire us.
The ancient Greeks’ concept of “the hero” was very different from what we understand by the term today. In 24 installments, based on the Harvard course Gregory Nagy has taught and refined since the 1970s, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours explores civilization’s roots in Classical literature, a lineage that continues to challenge and inspire us.
Ancient Obscenities inquires into the Greco-Roman handling of explicit representations of the body in its excretory and sexual functions, taking as its point of departure the modern preoccupation with the obscene. The essays in this volume offer new interpretations of materials that have been perceived by generations of modern readers as “obscene”: the explicit sexual references of Greek iambic poetry and Juvenal’s satires, Aristophanic aischrologia, Priapic poetics, and the scatology of Pompeian graffiti. Other essays venture in an even more provocative fashion into texts that are not immediately associated with the obscene: the Orphic Hymn to Demeter, Herodotus, the supposedly prim scripts of Plautus and the Attic orators. The volume focuses on texts but also includes a chapter devoted to visual representation, and many essays combine evidence from texts and material culture. Of all these texts, artifacts, and practices we ask the same questions: What kinds of cultural and emotional work do sexual and scatological references perform? Can we find a blueprintfor the ancient usage of this material?
This volume brings together Seth Benardete's studies of Hesiod's Theogony, Homer's Iliad, and Greek tragedy, of eleven Platonic dialogues, and Aristotle's Metaphysics. These essays, some never before published, others difficult to find, span four decades of his work and document its impressive range. Benardete's philosophic reading of the poets and his poetic reading of the philosophers share a common ground that makes this collection a whole. The key, suggested by his reflections on Leo Strauss in the last piece, lies in the question of how to read Plato. Benardete's way is characterized not just by careful attention to the literary form that separates doctrine from dialogue, and speeches from deed; rather, by following the dynamic of these differences, he uncovers the argument that belongs to the dialogue as a whole. The "turnaround" such an argument undergoes bears consequences for understanding the dialogue as radical as the conversion of the philosopher in Plato's image of the cave.
Benardete's original interpretations are the fruits of this discovery of the "argument of the action."
Barred from political engagement and legal advocacy, the second sophists composed and performed epideictic works for audiences across the Mediterranean world during the early centuries of the Common Era. In a wide-ranging study, author Susan C. Jarratt argues that these artfully wrought discourses, formerly considered vacuous entertainments, constitute intricate negotiations with the absolute power of the Roman Empire. Positioning culturally Greek but geographically diverse sophists as colonial subjects, Jarratt offers readings that highlight ancient debates over free speech and figured discourse, revealing the subtly coded commentary on Roman authority and governance embedded in these works.
Through allusions to classical Greek literature, sophists such as Dio Chrysostom, Aelius Aristides, and Philostratus slipped oblique challenges to empire into otherwise innocuous works. Such figures protected their creators from the danger of direct confrontation but nonetheless would have been recognized by elite audiences, Roman and Greek alike, by virtue of their common education. Focusing on such moments, Jarratt presents close readings of city encomia, biography, and texts in hybrid genres from key second sophistic figures, setting each in its geographical context. Although all the authors considered are male, the analyses here bring to light reflections on gender, ethnicity, skin color, language differences, and sexuality, revealing an underrecognized diversity in the rhetorical activity of this period.
While US scholars of ancient rhetoric have focused largely on the pedagogical, Jarratt brings a geopolitical lens to her study of the subject. Her inclusion of fourth-century texts—the Greek novel Ethiopian Story, by Heliodorus, and the political orations of Libanius of Antioch—extends the temporal boundary of the period. She concludes with speculations about the pressures brought to bear on sophistic political subjectivity by the rise of Christianity and with ruminations on a third sophistic in ancient and contemporary eras of empire.
Soon after the death of Alexander the Great, the priest Berossus wrote the first known narrative and comprehensive history of his native Babylon, and the priest Manetho likewise wrote the first such history of his native Egyptian civilization. Nothing like these histories had been produced before in these cultures. Clio’s Other Sons considers why that is: why were these histories written at this point, and for what purposes?
Berossus and Manetho operated at the crossings of several political, social, and intellectual worlds. They were members of native elites under the domination of Macedonian overlords; in their writings we can see suggestions that they collaborated in the foreign rule of their lands, but at the same time we see them advocating for their cultures. Their histories were written in Greek and betray active engagement with Greek historical writing, but at the same time these texts are clearly composed from native records, are organized along lines determined by local systems of time-reckoning, and articulate views that are deeply informed by regional scholarly and wisdom traditions. In this volume John Dillery charts the interactions of all these features of these historians. An afterword considers Demetrius, the approximate contemporary of Berossus and Manetho in time, if not in culture. While his associates wrote new histories, Demetrius’ project was a rewriting of an existing text, the Bible. This historiographical “corrective” approach sheds light on the novel historiography of Manetho and Berossus.
Despite their influence in our culture, sports inspire dramatically less philosophical consideration than such ostensibly weightier topics as religion, politics, or science. Arguing that athletic playfulness coexists with serious underpinnings, and that both demand more substantive attention, Daniel Dombrowski harnesses the insights of ancient Greek thinkers to illuminate contemporary athletics.
Dombrowski contends that the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus shed important light on issues—such as the pursuit of excellence, the concept of play, and the power of accepting physical limitations while also improving one’s body—that remain just as relevant in our sports-obsessed age as they were in ancient Greece. Bringing these concepts to bear on contemporary concerns, Dombrowski considers such questions as whether athletic competition can be a moral substitute for war, whether it necessarily constitutes war by other means, and whether it encourages fascist tendencies or ethical virtue. The first volume to philosophically explore twenty-first-century sport in the context of its ancient predecessor, Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals reveals that their relationship has great and previously untapped potential to inform our understanding of human nature.
A widely accepted truism says that luxury corrupts, and in both popular and scholarly treatments, the ancient city of Sybaris remains the model for destructive opulence. This volume demonstrates the scarcity of evidence for Sybarite luxury, and examines the vocabulary of luxury used by the Hellenic world. Focus on the word truphe reveals it means an attitude of entitlement: not necessarily a bad trait, unless in extreme form. This pattern holds for all Classical evidence, even the historian Herodotus, where the idea of pernicious luxury is commonly thought to be thematic.
Advancing a new method to evaluate this fragmentary evidence, the authors argue that almost all relevant ancient testimony is liable to have been distorted during transmission. They present two conclusions: first, that there exists no principle of pernicious luxury as a force of historical causation in Hellenic or Hellenistic literature. Rather, that idea is derived from early Latin prose historiography and introduced from that genre into the Greek writers of the Roman period, who in turn project the process back in time to explain events such as the fall of Sybaris. The second conclusion is methodological. The authors lay down a strategy to determine the content and extent of fragments of earlier authors found in cover texts such as Athenaeus, by examining the diction along synchronic and diachronic lines.
This book will appeal to scholars of intellectual history, the history of morality, and historiographical methodology.
The question of why Plato censored poetry in his Republic has bedeviled scholars for centuries. In Exiling the Poets, Ramona A. Naddaff offers a strikingly original interpretation of this ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy. Underscoring not only the repressive but also the productive dimension of literary censorship, Naddaff brings to light Plato's fundamental ambivalence about the value of poetic discourse in philosophical investigation.
Censorship, Nadaff argues, is not merely a mechanism of silencing but also provokes new ways of speaking about controversial and crucial cultural and artistic events. It functions philosophically in the Republic to subvert Plato's most crucial arguments about politics, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Naddaff develops this stunning argument through an extraordinary reading of Plato's work. In books 2 and 3, the first censorship of poetry, she finds that Plato constitutes the poet as a rival with whom the philosopher must vie agonistically. In other words, philosophy does not replace poetry, as most commentators have suggested; rather, the philosopher becomes a worthy and ultimately victorious poetic competitor. In book 10's second censorship, Plato exiles the poets as a mode of self-subversion, rethinking and revising his theory of mimesis, of the immortality of the soul, and, most important, the first censorship of poetry. Finally, in a subtle and sophisticated analysis of the myth of Er, Naddaff explains how Plato himself censors his own censorships of poetry, thus producing the unexpected result of a poetically animated and open-ended dialectical philosophy.
Tracing the interrelationship among play, poetic imitation, and power to the Hellenic world, Mihai I. Spariosu provides a revisionist model of cultural change in Greek antiquity. Challenging the traditional and static distinction made between archaic and later Greek culture, Spariosu’s perspective is grounded in a dialectical understanding of values whose dominance depends on cultural emphasis and which shifts through time. Building upon the scholarship of an earlier volume, Dionysus Reborn, Spariosu her continues to draw on Dionysus—the “God of many names,” of both poetic play and sacred power—as a mythical embodiment of the two sides of the classical Greek mentality. Combining philosophical reflection with close textual analysis, the author examines the divided nature of the Hellenic mentality in such primary canonic texts as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Theogony, Works and Days, the most well-known of the Presocratic fragments, Euripides’ Bacchae, Aristophanes’ The Frogs, Plato’s Republic and Laws, and Aristotle’s Poetics and Politics. Spariosu’s model illuminates the many of the most enduring questions in contemporary humanistic study and addresses modern questions about the nature of the interrelation of poetry, ethics, and politics.
Arthur W. H. Adkins's writings have sparked debates among a wide range of scholars over the nature of ancient Greek ethics and its relevance to modern times. Demonstrating the breadth of his influence, the essays in this volume reveal how leading classicists, philosophers, legal theorists, and scholars of religion have incorporated Adkins's thought into their own diverse research.
The timely subjects addressed by the contributors include the relation between literature and moral understanding, moral and nonmoral values, and the contemporary meaning of ancient Greek ethics. The volume also includes an essay from the late Adkins himself illustrating his methodology in an analysis of the "Speech of Lysias" in Plato's Phaedrus.
The Greeks and Us will interest all those concerned with how ancient moral values do or do not differ from our own.
Contributors include Arthur W. H. Adkins, Stephanie Nelson, Martha C. Nussbaum, Paul Schollmeier, James Boyd White, Bernard Williams, and Lee Yearley.
Commentaries by Wendy Doniger, Charles M. Gray, David Grene, Robert B. Louden, Richard Posner, and Candace Vogler.
The prevailing assumption regarding the Victorians’ relationship to ancient Greece is that Greek knowledge constituted an exclusive discourse within elite male domains. Heretical Hellenism: Women Writers, Ancient Greece, and the Victorian Popular Imagination challenges that theory and argues that while the information women received from popular sources was fragmentary and often fostered intellectual insecurities, it was precisely the ineffability of the Greek world refracted through popular sources and reconceived through new fields of study that appealed to women writers’ imaginations.
Examining underconsidered sources such as theater history and popular journals, Shanyn Fiske uncovers the many ways that women acquired knowledge of Greek literature, history, and philosophy without formal classical training. Through discussions of women writers such as Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Jane Harrison, Heretical Hellenism demonstrates that women established the foundations of a heretical challenge to traditional humanist assumptions about the uniformity of classical knowledge and about women’s place in literary history.
Heretical Hellenism provides a historical rationale for a more expansive definition of classical knowledge and offers an interdisciplinary method for understanding the place of classics both in the nineteenth century and in our own time.
The famous library of Alexandria, founded around 295 BCE by Ptolemaios I, housed the greatest collection of texts in the ancient world and was a fertile site of Hellenistic scholarship. Rudolf Blum’s landmark study, originally published in German in 1977, argues that Kallimachos of Kyrene was not only the second director of the Alexandrian library but also the inventor of two essential scholarly tools still in use to this day: the library catalog and the “biobibliographical” reference work. Kallimachos expanded the library’s inventory lists into volumes called the Pinakes, which extensively described and categorized each work and became in effect a Greek national bibliography and the source and paradigm for most later bibliographic lists of Greek literature. Though the Pinakes have not survived, Blum attempts a detailed reconstruction of Kallimachos’s inventories and catalogs based on a careful analysis of surviving sources, which are presented here in full translation.
Donald Lateiner, in his groundbreaking work The Sardonic Smile, presented the first thorough study of nonverbal behavior in Homeric epics, drawing a significant distinction between ancient and modern gesture and demonstrating the intrinsic relevance of this “silent language” to psychological, social, and anthropological studies of the ancient world.
Using Lateiner’s work as a touchstone, the scholars in Kinesis analyze the depiction of emotions, gestures, and other nonverbal cues in ancient Greek and Roman texts and consider the precise language used to depict them. Individual contributors examine genres ranging from historiography and epic to tragedy, philosophy, and vase decoration. They explore evidence as disparate as Pliny’s depiction of animal emotions, Plato’s presentation of Aristophanes’ hiccups, and Thucydides’ use of verb tenses. Sophocles’ deployment of silence is considered, as are Lucan’s depiction of death and the speaking objects of the medieval Alexander Romance.
This collection will be valuable to scholars studying Greek and Roman society and literature, as well as to those who study the imitation of ancient literature in later societies. Jargon is avoided and all passages in ancient languages are translated, making this volume accessible to advanced undergraduates.
Contributors in addition to the volume editors include Jeffrey Rusten, Rosaria Vignolo Munson, Hans-Peter Stahl, Carolyn Dewald, Rachel Kitzinger, Deborah Boedeker, Daniel P. Tompkins, John Marincola, Carolin Hahnemann, Ellen Finkelpearl, Hanna M. Roisman, Eliot Wirshbo, James V. Morrison, Bruce Heiden, Daniel B. Levine, and Brad L. Cook.
Out of Athens
Page duBois Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress PA3052.D83 2010 | Dewey Decimal 880.9001
The iconoclast of Classics, Page duBois refuses to act as border patrol for a sometimes fiercely protected traditional discipline. Instead, she incorporates insights from postcolonial, psychoanalytic, and postmodern theories into her nuanced close readings of ancient Greek texts.Out of Athens sets ancient Greek culture next to the global ancient world of Vedic India, the Han dynasty in China, and the empires that survived Alexander the Great. DuBois establishes a daring agenda for the next generation of Classicists.
Relations between the sexes was a pervasive concern of ancient Greek thought and literature, extending from considerations of masculine and feminine roles in domestic and political spheres to the organization of the cosmos in a pantheon of gods and goddesses. In Playing the Other Froma Zeitlin explores the diversity and complexity of these interactions through the most influential literary texts of the archaic and classical periods ranging from epic (Homer) and didactic poetry (Hesiod) to the theatrical productions of tragedy and comedy in fifth-century Athens.
Zeitlin demonstrates the indispensable workings of gender as a major factor in Greek social, religious, and cultural practices and in more abstract ideas about nature and culture, public and private, citizen and outsider, self and other, and mortal and immortal. Focusing on the prominence of female figures in these male authored texts, she enlarges our perspective on critical components of political order and civic identity by including issues of sexuality, the body, modes of male and female maturation, and speculations about parentage, kinship, and reproductive strategies. Along with considerations of genre, poetics, and theatrical mimesis, she points to the powerful mythmaking capacities of Greek culture for creating memorable paradigms and dramatic scenarios that far exceed simple notions of male and female opposition and predictable enforcement of social norms. Consisting of both new and revised essays, Playing the Other is a wide-ranging account of a central category of Greek literature by a scholar who pioneered an approach to classics through the perspective of gender.
Francis M. Dunn's Present Shock in Late Fifth-Century Greece examines the widespread social and cultural disorientation experienced by Athenians in a period that witnessed the revolution of 411 B.C.E. and the military misadventures in 413 and 404---a disturbance as powerful as that described in Alvin Toffler's Future Shock. The late fifth century was a time of vast cultural and intellectual change, ultimately leading to a shift away from Athenians' traditional tendency to seek authority in the past toward a greater reliance on the authority of the present. At the same time, Dunn argues, writers and thinkers not only registered the shock but explored ways to adjust to living with this new sense of uncertainty. Using literary case studies from this period, Dunn shows how narrative techniques changed to focus on depicting a world in which events were no longer wholly predetermined by the past, impressing upon readers the rewards and challenges of struggling to find their own way forward.
Although Present Shock in Late Fifth-Century Greece concentrates upon the late fifth century, this book's interdisciplinary approach will be of broad interest to scholars and students of ancient Greece, as well as anyone fascinated by the remarkably flexible human understanding of time.
Francis M. Dunn is Professor of Classics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is author of Tragedy's End: Closure and Innovation in Euripidean Drama (Oxford, 1996), and coeditor of Beginnings in Classical Literature (Cambridge, 1992) and Classical Closure: Reading the End in Greek and Latin Literature (Princeton, 1997).
"In this fascinating study, Francis Dunn argues that in late fifth-century Athens, life became focused on the present---that moving instant between past and future. Time itself changed: new clocks and calendars were developed, and narratives were full of suspense, accident, and uncertainty about things to come. Suddenly, future shock was now."
---David Konstan, John Rowe Workman Distinguished Professor of Classics and the Humanistic Tradition and Professor of Comparative Literature, Brown University
"In this fascinating work, Dunn examines the ways in which the Greeks constructed time and then shows how these can shed new light on various philosophical, dramatic, historical, scientific and rhetorical texts of the late fifth century. An original and most interesting study."
---Michael Gagarin, James R. Dougherty, Jr., Centennial Professor of Classics, the University of Texas at Austin
"Interesting, clear, and compelling, Present Shock in Late Fifth-Century Greece analyzes attitudes toward time in ancient Greece, focusing in particular on what Dunn terms 'present shock,' in which rapid cultural change undermined the authority of the past and submerged individuals in a disorienting present in late fifth-century Athens. Dunn offers smart and lucid analyses of a variety of complex texts, including pre-Socratic and sophistic philosophy, Euripidean tragedy, Thucydides, and medical texts, making an important contribution to discussions about classical Athenian thought that will be widely read and cited by scholars working on Greek cultural history and historiography."
---Victoria Wohl, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, University of Toronto
When we talk of platonic love or relationships today, we mean something very different from what Plato meant. For this, we have fifteenth and sixteenth-century European humanists to thank. As these scholars—most of them Catholic—read, digested, and translated Plato, they found themselves faced with a fundamental problem: how to be faithful to the text yet not propagate pederasty or homosexuality.
In Setting Plato Straight, Todd W. Reeser undertakes the first sustained and comprehensive study of Renaissance textual responses to Platonic same-sex sexuality. Reeser mines an expansive collection of translations, commentaries, and literary sources to study how Renaissance translators transformed ancient eros into non-erotic, non-homosexual relations. He analyzes the interpretive lenses translators employed and the ways in which they read and reread Plato’s texts. In spite of this cleansing, Reeser finds surviving traces of Platonic same-sex sexuality that imply a complicated, recurring process of course-correction—of setting Plato straight.
The understanding of the soul in the West has been profoundly shaped by Christianity, and its influence can be seen in certain assumptions often made about the soul: that, for example, if it does exist, it is separable from the body, free, immortal, and potentially pure. The ancient Greeks, however, conceived of the soul quite differently. In this ambitious new work, Michael Davis analyzes works by Homer, Herodotus, Euripides, Plato, and Aristotle to reveal how the ancient Greeks portrayed and understood what he calls “the fully human soul.”
Beginning with Homer’s Iliad, Davis lays out the tension within the soul of Achilles between immortality and life. He then turns to Aristotle’s De Anima and Nicomachean Ethics to explore the consequences of the problem of Achilles across the whole range of the soul’s activity. Moving to Herodotus and Euripides, Davis considers the former’s portrayal of the two extremes of culture—one rooted in stability and tradition, the other in freedom and motion—and explores how they mark the limits of character. Davis then shows how Helen and Iphigeneia among the Taurians serve to provide dramatic examples of Herodotus’s extreme cultures and their consequences for the soul. The book returns to philosophy in the final part, plumbing several Platonic dialogues—the Republic, Cleitophon, Hipparchus, Phaedrus, Euthyphro, and Symposium—to understand the soul’s imperfection in relation to law, justice, tyranny, eros, the gods, and philosophy itself. Davis concludes with Plato’s presentation of the soul of Socrates as self-aware and nontragic, even if it is necessarily alienated and divided against itself.
The Soul of the Greeks thus begins with the imperfect soul as it is manifested in Achilles’ heroic, but tragic, longing and concludes with its nontragic and fuller philosophic expression in the soul of Socrates. But, far from being a historical survey, it is instead a brilliant meditation on what lies at the heart of being human.
What are we doing when we walk into an archaeological museum or onto an archaeological site? What do the objects and features we encounter in these unique places mean and, more specifically, how do they convey to us something about the beliefs and activities of formerly living humans? In short, how do visible remains and ruins in the present give meaning to the human past? Karen Bassi addresses these questions through detailed close readings of canonical works spanning the archaic to the classical periods of ancient Greek culture, showing how the past is constituted in descriptions of what narrators and characters see in their present context. She introduces the term protoarchaeological to refer to narratives that navigate the gap between linguistic representation and empirical observation—between words and things—in accessing and giving meaning to the past. Such narratives invite readers to view the past as a receding visual field and, in the process, to cross the disciplinary boundaries that divide literature, history, and archaeology.
Aimed at classicists, literary scholars, ancient historians, cultural historians, and archaeological theorists, the book combines three areas of research: time as a feature of narrative structure in literary theory; the concept of “the past itself” in the philosophy of history; and the ontological status of material objects in archaeological theory. Each of five central chapters explores how specific protoarchaeological narratives—from the fate of Zeus’ stone in Hesiod’s Theogony to the contest between words and objects in Aristophanes’ Frogs—both expose and attempt to bridge this gap. Throughout, the book serves as a response to Herodotus’ task in writing the Histories, namely, to ensure that “the past deeds of men do not fade with time.”
From the Archaic period to the Greco-Roman age, the figure of the wanderer held great significance in ancient Greece. In the first comprehensive study devoted to this theme, Wandering in Ancient Greek Culture unearths the many meanings attached to this practice over the centuries. Employing a broad range of literary and philosophical texts, Silvia Montiglio demonstrates how wandering has been conceptualized from Homer's Odysseus—the hero "who wandered much"—in the eighth century BCE to pagan sages of the early Roman Empire such as Saint John the Baptist in the first century AD.
Attitudes toward wandering have evolved in accordance with cultural perspectives, causing some characterizations to persist while others have faded. For instance, the status of wanderers in Greek societies varied from outcasts and madmen to sages, who were recognized as mystical, even divine. Examining the act of wandering through many lenses, Wandering in Ancient Greek Culture shows how the transformation of the wanderer coincided with new perceptions of the world and of travel and invites us to consider its definition and import today.