Aesthetic, Sociological, and Exploitative Attitudes to Landscape in Greco-Roman Literature, Art, and Culture
This article introduces and discusses ancient and contemporary approaches to landscape and proposes model readings for their evaluation. Model readings suggest strategies drawn from environmental and ecocritical studies alongside art historical, and more traditional literary studies approaches. This article emphasizes in particular the benefits of evaluating architectural and agricultural interventions in nature alongside one another. Perceptions of landscape in the Greco-Roman world were strongly associated with cultivation and human invention. In order better to understand how and why aesthetic interest, sentiment, mood, and movement can also be significant, this article explores what makes for “improvement” and value in landscape. It also investigates how contemporary theory offers new ways of evaluating ancient depictions of landscape and responses to the natural environment.
Daniel L. Selden
This chapter discusses the fraught relationship between Second Sophistic discourse and koinē fiction of the second and third centuries ce. Taking its point of departure from a comparison (synkrisis) of Dio of Prusa’s first oration On Kingship and the α-recension of the Greek Alexander Romance, the chapter goes on to argue that Second Sophistic discourse and koinē fiction are not just two different bodies of contemporaneous writings that happened to appear side by side. Rather, they remain engaged in an intertextual agon where literary production in koinē—as opposed to Attic—Greek constitutes a dialectical negation of the overtly imperialist political agendas and monologic cultural objectives that inform Second Sophistic composition. Further consideration of the Life of Sekoûndos and the Story of Aseneth shows how koinē fiction of this period not only aggressively contests the goals and priorities of the Second Sophistic, but pointedly turns its norms and ideals inside out.
Certain canonical texts can become programmatically associated with certain issues in literary criticism. Movements of critical thinking between formalism and historicism, along with the ceaseless interrogation of the two polar terms themselves, may fairly be said to define the range of possibility within which all literary reading occurs; a way of thinking hardly foreign to John Keats' ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ itself, with its richly self-reflexive meditations on history, aesthetics, and the memorialisation of human experience. This essay is a rough guide to formalism and historicism as categories for use by readers of Roman texts, with the goal of testing the relationship between these terms in the particular disciplinary context of Classics.
The chapter seeks to give a historical overview of elite shi, popular shi, fu, and Chuci forms up until 1000 ce, emphasizing the role of traditional theoretical perspectives in shaping or problematizing modern views. In the case of shi, these perspectives include the Mao school’s interpretation of the Shijing; the retroactive creation of a shi tradition by pre-Tang court anthologists and critics in an attempt to privilege elite participation; the explosion of shi composition among the literate classes from the eighth century on due to its significant role in social exchange and in civil service examinations, and the concomitant decline of court aesthetics; the gradual triumph of a self-expressive and autobiographical model for shi composition; and the elite tradition’s general disregard for forms of verse production that did not fit its ideals. In discussing fu and Chuci, it is important to note its changing social roles as well as continuing existence.
Radcliffe G. Edmonds III
Hesiod’s Theogony provides one of the most widely authoritative accounts of the origin of the cosmos, but his account has always been challenged by rivals claiming to be older, wiser, and better, and the name of Orpheus has always been privileged in the evidence for ancient rivals to Hesiod. The Orphic accounts play their variations on the Hesiodic themes, riffing in different ways on the idea of the ultimate origin of the cosmos; the processes of reproduction by which subsequent entities were generated; the conflicts between these divinities that created the changes from the original state to the current one; the way in which humans entered the story; and the final resolution of the conflicts and changes that created the current, normal order of Zeus. The shocking innovations they introduce in the images of the theogonic narrative serve to bolster the authority of their often less shockingly innovative cosmological ideas.
In ancient Rome, the epic is much occupied with beginnings and endings, foundation and destruction. The history of Roman epic begins with the translation into Latin of Homer's Odyssey by Livius Andronicus in the later third century
The term ‘epic’, when applied to ancient Greek literature, refers to a set of texts that may be loosely defined as narrative poetry about the deeds of gods and heroes. To a very large extent, this is a reflection of Homer's authority as the most famous epic poet. This article argues that recent comparisons between early Greek epic and modern oral traditions, as well as the discovery and investigation of ancient Hittite and Near Eastern texts, place Greek epic in a much wider literary and historical context.
Roman first-person poetry, like its Greek predecessors, is much more likely than modern western poetry to exhibit a robust and well-defined ‘context of utterance’. Lowell Edmunds maintains that a speech act cannot be both an object of representation in the poem and the poem itself, while W. R. argues that the represented speech act is a conduit through which a quasi-social speech act between author and reader takes place. This debate involves historical questions as well, since the context of utterance is the most obvious feature of Rome's inheritance from the Greek literary tradition. This article describes the three major genres of first-person poetry in light of the way they deploy the context of utterance: elegy, lyric, and satire. It shows that the characteristic effects of each genre, including the distinctive way it positions its speaker in relation to the poet, are generated by the genre's deployment of the three primary features which together make up the context of utterance: speaker, addressee, and setting.
Hesiod’s famous misogyny is part of a larger “poetics of the powerless” that pervades his epics. The poetic persona of his epics establishes a hierarchy of gender as a defense against his own situation of powerlessness, as presented in the poem. Hesiod subtly challenges those with power, whether in the human or divine realms, and condescends to those below him in the hierarchy, whether female or male. The poet’s portrayal of men and women is therefore the expression of a desire to reduce the power difference between himself and those around him in both the mortal and immortal spheres. As a result, gender in Hesiod is not binary but has aspects coded as positive or negative along a spectrum based on how the individual figure fits into the cosmic power hierarchy.
Scholars have expressed increasing appreciation for the uniqueness of late Greek poetry which had long been dismissed as a mere continuation of the great classical and Hellenistic poetry. This article presents an overview of Greek poetic production in Late Antiquity, focusing on the issues of relationships between poetry and prose, rhetorical structures, social contexts, and performances.
This article suggests an appeal to a broader cultural contextualization, calling on scholars to look at the interactions between Greek and non-Greek cultures in the Hellenistic period, which followed the reign of Alexander, and in which he continued to enjoy cult status. It emphasizes contrasting trends that emerge in relation to ethnic identity: non-Greeks learn Greek and adopt Greek customs; while Greeks often marry into local non-Greek populations, speak native languages, and practise native manners and rituals. In the West, however, the centre of power is Rome, and, as indicated by contemporary literature and art, both Greeks and non-Greeks find themselves responding and adapting to its growing cultural and political dominance.
Lilah Grace Canevaro
This chapter uses Callimachus’s Aetia, Aratus’s Phaenomena, and Nicander’s Theriaca to explore the intense engagement with Hesiodic poetry in the Hellenistic period. Informed by statistics for explicit references to Hesiod at this time, it asks: Why is this the only period of antiquity in which the Theogony and the Works and Days are considered equally important? Questions of genre and didaxis, of inspiration and knowledge, are set against a backdrop of learned library culture, in order to determine what it really meant in the Hellenistic age to be a scholar-poet. This chapter draws on a recent wave of interest in the ancient reception of Hesiod and considers not only how Hesiodic poetry was used, but also how the potential for that use is embedded in the archaic poems themselves.
This article examines Hellenistic poetry by outlining the gradual separation between literary genres and the performance contexts within which they originally developed. The Hellenistic poets felt the gap and tried to reconstruct a literary past from which they felt separated. In a city like Alexandria, where different cultures and ethnicities coexisted, Greek identity was increasingly seen as a matter of cultural and literary competence, rather than as a function of one's place of birth – ‘Greece’ was becoming a place of the mind.
This chapter surveys the scholarly and poetic engagement with the poems of Hesiod during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on editions, translations, and philosophical and literary interpretations produced in northern Europe and England in the century and a half after the Protestant Reformation. The first part discusses the most influential early printed editions and Latin translations of Hesiod’s poems, as well as their scholia and other paratexts. The second and third parts examine the interpretive traditions that prevailed among Italian humanists and their northern counterparts, the latter focusing on Erasmus and Melanchthon. The fourth and fifth parts focus on the French and English Renaissance, examining the most significant editions of Hesiod produced in these nations as well as the incorporation of Hesiodic myths and motifs by major poets such as Ronsard and Spenser. The final section examines Paradise Lost’s complex imitation of Hesiodic cosmogony.
Comic dramas, attested as early as the later sixth century bce in Sicily and from ca. 486 bce in Attica, reflect familiarity with Hesiodic poetry from the time our actual documentation begins in the 470s for Sicily and 430s for Attica and into the mid-fourth century bce. Comic poets engaged with Hesiodic poetry at the level of specific allusion or echo and (more frequently) with Hesiodic stories, thought, themes, ideas, and style, now common cultural currency. They also engaged with the poet and his poetic persona, whether bracketed with Homer as a great cultural authority, distinguished as the anti-Homer in subjects or style, or showcased as an emblematic persona of poet and (didactic) sage. Aristophanes, for one, adopted elements of the Hesiodic persona in fashioning his own.
This chapter examines Hesiodic elements in Pindar’s “First Hymn” and Pythian 1 and appropriations of Hesiod’s “path to virtue” in the epinicians. Differences between Pindar’s treatment of Zeus’s marriage and cosmic dispensations in the “First Hymn” and Hesiod’s account articulate a greater emphasis on cosmic order and create an identification between the audience’s response to the poem and that of the gods to the newly created cosmos. In Pythian 1 Pindar’s ekphrasis of Etna presents a picture of Typhon who is more constrained and integrated into the cosmic order than his counterpart in the Theogony. But Pindar represents the monster with great imagistic and musical immediacy and brings it into closer proximity to human civilization. These tensions can be read as programmatic for the poem’s projection of the listener as an ethical subject, articulating the threats posed to human self-constitution by the violence in both the natural and social orders.
H. A. Shapiro
This chapter explores the influence of Hesiod’s Theogony on Greek visual artists of the archaic period (ca. 700–480 bce). Since dozens of divinities and heroes mentioned in the poem appear in sculpture and (more often) vase painting and cannot be systematically treated, one major work with strong Hesiodic associations is examined as a test case. The Attic black-figure dinos signed by the painter Sophilos and dated ca. 580 bce includes more than thirty gods and goddesses participating in the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, future parents of Achilles. All of these can be found in the Theogony, and the poem can be a helpful guide to understanding how the individual figures are placed in the procession. The unique depiction of Okeanos on the dinos illustrates especially well the complex relationship of text and image.
Alan H. Sommerstein
The only Hesiodic myths taken up by the Greek tragic dramatists are the related stories of Prometheus and the first woman (Pandora); these were exploited in satyr-dramas by Aeschylus and Sophocles, respectively. More important are the tragedies Prometheus Bound and Prometheus Unbound, attributed to Aeschylus (but probably in fact by another hand, perhaps his son Euphorion), in which the tale of Prometheus’s punishment is combined with several other myths into a new story of a god who becomes the savior both of the human race (twice) and of Zeus (also twice), and who endures terrible suffering before finally gaining honor from Zeus and humans. Hesiod’s ideas also had a profound influence on Aeschylus, traceable especially in the Oresteia and in the unidentified “Dike play” known from papyrus fragments.
David Conan Wolfsdorf
This chapter examines the reception of Hesiod in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, from Aristotle to Posidonius. The discussion focuses on the contributions of the Peripatetics, Epicureans, and Stoics, the only philosophical schools within this period for which the author has found evidence of Hesiodic reception. Two Hesiodic passages above all seem to have captured the attention of these philosophers: the genesis of the primordial divinities in Theogony and the Myth of Ages, especially the golden age in Works and Days. Granted the importance of these passages and their provision of one unifying thread within this particular history, philosophical interest in and use of Hesiod over the three centuries in question was diverse and complex. The reception is in fact not tightly unified at all.
In this interpretation of the Theogony and Works and Days as acts of performance, the well-known biographical details of Hesiod’s life are treated as part of an authorial persona that inheres in the situation that the poem represents. The singer’s dispute with his brother Perses is not a reality outside the poem; rather, it is created, and settled, in and through the poem. The chapter examines the deictic markers through which the poems achieve their “performative” effects. A comparison with Homer is offered in which Hesiod is aligned with the mimetic representation of drama, as opposed to the Homeric narrator, who as more “impersonal” vehicle sets the stage for his characters.