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.
This article points out that many Greek texts were conceived as scripts for performance, rather than as literature designed for readers. Even the Greek alphabet, the first alphabetic script that recorded both vowels and consonants, and hence a crucial development towards the current literate culture, probably developed as it did out of a desire to reproduce as accurately as possible oral delivery. There is a link between performance and orality, matching the obvious link between text and literacy. The discussion considers these matching links.
Andrew L. Ford
This article asks how the Greeks negotiated issues of textuality and performance when developing their own critical approaches to their literature. In tackling this question, it engages with some of the issues set out in the previous articles in this part of the book. Beyond the different subjects, perspectives, and agendas, there is a determination, on the part of all contributors, to confront theory with practice, and to compare text with context. Greek literature may seem very close, but it sets us in dialogue with a remote, sophisticated, and only partly literate society. The discussion argues that the study of ancient criticism is unduly narrow unless it combines an awareness of the materiality of culture with an appreciation of how strongly performance traditions could shape the reception and valuation of such texts. It also explores a small piece of Aristotelian literary theory.
This chapter looks at the themes and motifs typically associated with children throughout Greek literature, arguing that they give us an indication of the way children and childhood are conceived of in Greek culture rather than a picture of social reality. The chapter uses three examples as paradigmatic (Apollo compared to a child knocking down a sandcastle in Iliad 15; Astyanax in the Iliad; and Pindar’s treatment of Achilles’ childhood in Nemean 3). Three motifs commonly associated with children and childhood in Greek literature—play, pathos, and precocity—are examined, and their connections to other important motifs, such as choral dancing, laughter, parental care and indulgence, the natural world, exposure, and survival are discussed. These create a general conception of childhood as, ideally, a carefree time of life characterized by laughter, play, and whimsicality, in which children are expected to be carefully tended and protected.