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Article

genre  

Gian Biagio Conte and Glenn W. Most

A grouping of texts related within the system of literature by their sharing recognizably functionalized features of form and content. Theory of genre as such is quite lacking in antiquity (its place is taken by theories of *imitatio) and ancient theoretical discussions of specific literary genres are few and for the most part unsatisfactory. They operate according to criteria which are one-sidedly formal (generally metrical), thematic (the characters' moral or social quality, the general subject-matter), or pragmatic (the situation of performance), but scarcely attempt to correlate or justify them; they are more interested in classifying existing works than in understanding the mechanisms of literary production and reception and are directed to the needs of the school and the library, not to the critic's; they bungle some genres (lyric) and ignore others (the novel). Rhetorical handbooks sometimes distinguish among oratorical genres, but the precise relation between their (often pedantic) prescriptions and the literary works remains uncertain.

Article

Peta G. Fowler and Don P. Fowler

An imagined period in early human history when human beings lived a life of ease, far from toil and sin. The most important text is *HesiodOp. 109–26 (see West's comm.), which talks of a ‘golden genos’, i.e. species or generation, as the first in a series: reference to a golden age occurs first in Latin (aurea saecula, aurea aetas: cf. Gatz 65, 228). Other well-known passages include Aratus, Phaen. 100–14 and Ov., Met. 1. 89–112, but the motif was widespread in ancient literature (cf. *Aetna 9–16 on the theme as hackneyed) and parodied in comedy from the 5th cent. bce (Athen. 6. 267e–270a). The golden age is associated especially with Cronus or *Saturnus and is marked by communal living and the spontaneous supply of food: its end comes with a series of inventions that lead to the modern condition of humanity (first plough, first ship, first walls, and first sword: cf. Smith on Tibullus 1. 3. 35 ff.). Rationalist thinkers tended to reject the model in favour of ‘hard’ primitivism or a belief in progress, but the function of the myth was always to hold up a mirror to present malaises or to presage a future return to the idyll (cf. Verg.

Article

Heliodorus was the author of the Aethiopica, the latest and longest Greek novel to survive from antiquity. In his work, Heliodorus claims to be a Phoenician from Emesa, but there are good reasons against treating this as an authoritative autobiographical statement. The Aethiopica tells the adventures of Charicleia, the white daughter of the black queen and king of Ethiopia. Her mother abandons her, and she is brought up by foster-fathers in Ethiopia and Delphi. There she falls in love with the young Greek Theagenes, with whom she travels via Egypt to Ethiopia. They are almost sacrificed to the local gods, but Charicleia’s parents eventually recognise her. The protagonists become priests and marry. The novel is a narratologically ambitious work that draws on the structure of the Odyssey (in mediis rebus beginning, embedded heterodiegetic narratives) and takes these devices to a whole new level. A wide range of topics play important roles in the Aethiopica, such as religion, multiculturalism, identity, and epistemology.

Article

Simon Hornblower

Greek culture (cf. hellen; hellenes) and the diffusion of that culture, a process usually seen as active. The relation between the two modern words is controversial: should the longer word be avoided (see orientalism) because of its suggestion of cultural imperialism? (Cf. Bowersock (see bibliog. below): ‘Hellenization is…a modern idea, reflecting modern forms of cultural domination’.)The ancient terminology is interesting but treacherous. The earliest use of the verb ‘Hellenize’ (Gk. ἑλληνίζειν) is in a linguistic context: Thucydides 2. 68 says the Amphilochian Argives were ‘Hellenized as to their present language’ by the Ambraciots. But the extra words ‘as to…language’ perhaps (though see CR 1984, 246) indicate that the word normally had a wider, cultural sense. Nevertheless, ‘Hellenism’ in the Classical period is not quite on all fours with *Medism, which has a political tinge. The asymmetry is interesting because it underlines the absence, in the evidence which has come down to us, of a non-Greek point of view from which political sympathy with Greece could be expressed (see persian wars: the persian viewpoint).

Article

Simon Hornblower

Subject of a painting exhibited in 1785 by J.-L. David, who however appears to have made up the idea of the oath, though the men depicted are certainly the famous legendary *Horatii.

Article

Gian Biagio Conte and Glenn W. Most

Imitatio (μίμησις), the study and conspicuous deployment of features recognizably characteristic of a canonical author's style or content, so as to define one's own generic affiliation (see genre).Although Plato (Resp.10) and Aristotle (Poet.) often apply μίμησις philosophically to the semantic relation by which language or art represent their objects, the more widespread ancient usage of the term is rhetorical, to designate a later writer's relation of acknowledged dependence upon an earlier one. The Muse is the daughter of memory: poets have always learned from other poets (ἕτερος ἐξ ἑτέρου σοφὸς τό τε πάλαι τό τε νῦν, ‘one learns his skill from another, both long ago and now’: Bacchyl. Paean fr. 5 Snell–Maehler) and are listeners or readers before they become singers or writers. But starting already with the *sophists, the careful study and imitation of (usually written) models of discourse became an established educational technique. Throughout antiquity, a strong continuity in method and attitude linked school exercises on canonical texts (memorization, excerpting, paraphrase, translation, commentary, variation of theme or style, comparison) with a poetic practice which drew attention to its skilled use of models, ‘not so as to filch but to borrow openly, in the hope of being recognized’ (Seneca the Elder, Suas.

Article

In the context of Latin literature, inconsistency is most often invoked to mean self-contradiction: for example, in the second Georgic, Virgil declares that Italy is blissfully free from snakes, but in the following book, snakes pose a deadly threat to the Italian farmer and his animals. Inconsistency, however, can also describe general ambiguity, lack of unity, factual inaccuracy, and incoherence of almost any kind. A number of historically contingent factors affect how readers recognize and respond to inconsistencies. Ancient criticism of the Homeric poems and the Aeneid often considered inconsistencies flaws, and this tradition has influenced modern thinking about the topic. From the late 20th century onwards, critics have frequently viewed the creation of inconsistency as a deliberate authorial strategy: the reader is exposed to two different realities, and the resulting tension contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. The apparent receptivity of Roman literary culture to inconsistency may imply a worldview that had more in common with quantum mechanics than an Aristotelian universe dominated by the law of non-contradiction.

Article

W. Jeffrey Tatum

The reception of Caesar constitutes, for obvious reasons, an immense topic. As a political idea, Caesar exhibits from the very beginning a tension between his role as dictator and destroyer of the Republic and his standing as the political and military genius who founded the Empire. This contrariety, not least by way of the analytic category of Caesarism, is especially marked in the political discourse of the 19th and 20th centuries. Caesar’s literary reception, though influenced by contemporary political conflicts, is not always tethered to them in straightforward ways. The Caesar of literature is often a reaction to the Caesar of Shakespeare. And there are other important issues: Caesar as a problem in the recovery of authenticity, or Caesar, because he is a canonical author, as a symbol of the conservative claims of the established order. In art, Caesar the god and Caesar the chivalrous king gradually give way to Caesar the slain dictator or Caesar the imperious conqueror. In popular culture, however, Caesar’s manifestations vary wildly: although he continues to register at a political level, he can also signify imperial excess or martial prowess, and he is available as a medium for lampooning the various guises of his own reception.

Article

Jakob Fortunat Stagl

The institutional scheme of Roman law was developed primarily by Gaius on the basis of a preceding tradition of law manuals. The scheme consists of dividing the law into a General Part, Family Law, Property Law, Law of Succession, Law of Obligations, and Civil Procedure. This scheme is apparent not only in Gaius’s Institutes but also in the whole of his didactic scheme, which can be discerned from descriptions of the curriculum in his time. Gaius’s larger didactic scheme is indebted to contemporary philosophical, rhetorical, and didactic currents, which made it possible for him to organise the law of Rome in such a solid and plausible way that the emperor Justinian adopted this scheme for his compilation, comprising the Institutes, the Digest, and the Codex.

Article

Western literary theory is a long-established series of attempts to make sense of literary practice and experience over three millennia. There are at least four ways in which theory and the classics are significantly interconnected. (i) Theory itself begins in classical antiquity. (ii) Ancient theory continues to be the main source for theory in general until the latter part of the 18th cent., though only an intermittent point of reference after that. (iii) Greco-Roman literature provides most of the specifiable archetypes for Western literature until, again, the latter part of the 18th cent.; the literature of antiquity is therefore the ultimate basis for theoretical generalization until then, while many of the perceived forms and categories of literature (from comic drama to realism to linear plot construction to metaphor) still have widely recognized Greek and Roman origins. (iv) Since the end of antiquity, readings of ancient literature have inevitably and repeatedly been affected by theoretical responses to literature in general, from the Middle Ages up to the present generation.

Article

Philip Hardie

Locus amoenus, ‘charming place, pleasance’, a phrase (Cic. Fin. 2. 107; Isid. Etym. 14. 8. 33, etc. ) used by modern scholars to refer to the literary topos of the set description of an idyllic landscape, typically containing trees and shade, a grassy meadow, running water, song-birds, and cool breezes. The tradition goes back to *Homer's descriptions of the grotto of *Calypso and the garden of *Alcinous (1) (Od. 5. 55 ff., 7. 112 ff.); the rural setting for the dialogue in *Plato (1)'s Phaedrus was much imitated. In *Theocritus and *Virgil's Eclogues such landscapes form the backdrop for the songs and loves of shepherds. *Horace criticizes the fashion for such descriptions (Ars P. 16 ff.). This perfect nature is also the setting for the innocence of the *golden age and the blessedness of the Elysian Fields (see elysium); among real places the vale of *Tempe in Thessaly was idealized as a locus amoenus.

Article

medism  

C. J. Tuplin

(rarely Persism, though see Strabo 14. 657: the ‘med-’ root is a linguistic fossil from the era of *Cyrus(1)'s conquest of *Lydia) is a term whose application is normally confined to states or individuals (Gongylus (Xen.Hell. 3. 1. 6 with Thuc. 1. 128. 6), *Pausanias(1), *Themistocles) that voluntarily collaborated with Persia in connection with invasions of mainland Greece; see Persian Wars. Exceptions (Hdt. 4. 144; Paus. 9. 6. 3; Thuc. 3. 34; Satyrus. in Diog. Laert. 2. 12; Plut.Ages 23; Philostr.VS580; Procop.Bell. 8. 9, 16) cover similar situations at different periods. The context is always concrete; the word describes neither e.g. puppet-tyrants in Greek Anatolia nor generalized ‘pro-Persian’ feelings. Sources rarely state motives for Medism: one modern explanation, lure of the Persian lifestyle, is debatable, if more is meant than simple envy of Persian wealth (cf. *CritiasDK 88 B 31 on Thessalians in 480 bce).

Article

midrash  

Martin Goodman

Midrash, a type of exegesis of scriptural texts practised by *Jews. The genre of midrash is characterized by the use of an explicit citation of, or clear allusions to, a passage in an authoritative text in order to provide a foundation for religious teachings often far removed from the plain meaning of the passage employed. In halakhic midrash such teachings comprise legal rulings. In aggadic midrash scriptural passages are exegeted for their own sake or for homiletic sermons. Midrashic techniques are found embedded in much post-biblical Jewish literature but they also engendered a large body of works devoted to this technique alone.Midrashic exegesis is found already within the Hebrew Bible, where the books of Chronicles act as a midrash on the books of Samuel and Kings. Various types of midrash are attested in Jewish writings from the Hellenistic period, notably the pesher, found only among the *Dead Sea Scrolls, in which biblical texts are treated as complex codes from which the secret meaning has to be explicated, and the Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, attributed in the Renaissance to *Philon (4) of Alexandria but actually composed in Hebrew by an unknown Jew, probably in the 1st cent.

Article

Massimo Fusillo

In the last 30 years, interest in narrative has developed at an incredible pace. Two branches of this ‘narratology’ may be distinguished. The one is oriented towards the ‘story’ as signified (‘what happened’: cf. especially the work of Greimas and Bremond, looking back to Propp's famous Morphology of the Folktale); the other is oriented rather towards the narrative as signifier (‘the way it is told’: Stanzel, Genette, in the line of the Russian formalists, Henry James, and E. M. Forster). Both approaches have been widely applied in classical studies, but the first has perhaps been more successful in the anthropological study of myth (see mythology), the second in literary studies, in that it focuses on the rhetorical construction of the work rather than its underlying functional structure. The sophisticated armoury of methods that is modern narratology is one of the products of structuralism and semiotics, and like those more general movements it has in recent times been subject to qualifications and criticisms from post-structuralists and from reception theorists and students of literary pragmatics with their greater focus on the audience or readership of a work.

Article

opera  

Michael Ewans

Opera is one of the most important sites for the reception of Greek and Roman literature, history, and myth. Significant operas have been based on classical topics from the invention of the medium (Peri’s Eurydice, 1600) through to the present day. Important composers of classically based operas include Monteverdi, Handel, Gluck, Cherubini, Berlioz, Richard Strauss, Tippett, Henze and Turnage.The Florentine Camerata—a group of humanists, musicians and intellectuals—invented opera, at the end of the 16th centuryce. Its members believed that Greek tragedy was sung throughout, and sought to devise a new medium that would equal its perceived excellence. They had a preference for happy endings; the lyric poet Battista Guarini argued that, rather than purging pity and fear, as in Aristotle’s famous definition of tragedy, modern texts should aim to purge melancholy from the soul. The first operas (e.g., Peri's Eurydice, 1600) largely consisted of declamation, and it was only with Monteverdi's Venetian operas—.

Article

Michael Silk

Paignion, the Greek equivalent of jeu d'esprit: an equivocal literary-critical label applied to various writings by their critics (dismissively) or their authors (apologetically or tongue-in-cheek). Negatively, *Plato (1) applies it to *comedy (Leg. 816e), *Aelian to *Theocritus' Idylls (NA 15. 19). On the positive side, *Gorgias (1) uses it of his Encomium of Helen (21, end), *Philitas as the title of a collection of poems (Powell, Coll.

Article

Antony Spawforth

Greek victories over Persian ‘barbarians’ loomed large in defining mainland Greek identities until well into the Roman age. In *Thucydides (2) 5th-cent. Athens justified its empire by them (1. 74. 4), in the tradition of the *epitaphios they are a cause for Athenian boasting (accompanied by distortion of the facts), and in *Aristophanes (1) for nostalgia. In the 4th cent. *Macedonia's rise prompted rhetorical appeals by Athenian politicians to ancestral resolve and self-sacrifice in the Persian wars, notably after the fall of *Olynthus in 348 bce (Dem. 19. 303), the context in which a group of documents allegedly from the Persian wars first appear (see plataea, oath of), stigmatized by *Theopompus (3) (FGrH 115 F 153), and most modern historians, as Athenian inventions. *Philip (1) II and *Alexander (3) the Great countered this (mainly) Athenian rhetoric by presenting Macedon's Persian adventure as a Greek war of revenge for Persian sacrilege in 480 bce (Arr.

Article

The early modern period saw a tremendous revival in interest in ancient philosophy. New Platonic texts became available. New ways of analyzing Aristotle were explored. Stoic and Epicurean philosophy began to exert an influence on key thinkers. The impact of ancient philosophy was felt in a number of key areas, these included natural history, theology, and epistemology.The history of Western philosophy can be seen as a continuous and intensive dialogue with the past in which the texts of classical antiquity were tirelessly interrogated, imitated, praised, criticized, transformed, and zealously restored. The early modern period has a special place in this history. At the dawn of modernity, philosophical inquiries were deeply informed by the questions raised by the Greeks and Romans.Throughout the early modern period, the works of Aristotle and his commentators were the most prominent of the texts discussed. Plato enjoyed a more complex reception history. Recovered in the .

Article

David K. Glidden

Ancient philosophy’s modern reception reflects methods of transmission and dissemination of ancient philosophic texts. Ancient Greco-Roman philosophy impacted modernity via six means of influence: printed books, libraries, critical scholarship, vernacular translations, eclectic borrowing, and thematic resonance.

The beginnings of the Italian and Northern European Renaissance awakened interest in ancient Greco-Roman authors. The increased wealth of a propertied class and the leisure time afforded by that prosperity stimulated literacy both for business and pleasure and provided fertile ground for philosophic reflection. The philosophical writings of antiquity were transformed as ancient authors became heralds and guides for the future, rather than relics of the past. All of the following modern philosophic discussions have classical roots: the concepts of virtue, human thriving, equality before the law, the centrality of hypothetical reasoning for scientific inquiry, the foundations of semiotics, the mathematically fathomable structures of physical reality, the existence of natural kinds and the identities they confer on particulars, as well as predicate and propositional logic and their impacts upon computing code. The ways we variously view reality and truth and how we gain confidence in fashioning a comforting reality owes everything to ancient insights. The same is true of the dichotomies that organize conceptual discrimination: being/nonbeing, permanence/impermanence, motion/rest—building blocks used in constructing varied understandings of the world, continually subject to revision and refinement. The impact of ancient philosophy on the modern era is broad and deep.

Article

Gideon Nisbet

Classical antiquity echoes through everyday life, and is continuously being mediated for and consumed by mass culture and subcultures; these popular representations shape, and are shaped by, non-specialist understandings of antiquity. Empowered by new media, diverse constituencies (including cult media audiences and minorities, but also ethnic-nationalists and hate groups) interrogate antiquity through its reception history to find versions of ‘Greece’ and ‘Rome’ that help develop their own agendas. As a recent and developing specialisation informed by trends in cultural and media studies, the academic study of classical reception in popular culture poses new challenges for, and breathes new life into, the discipline of Classics. After a slow start, such study has embraced mass and ‘cult’ media including television, videogames, popular music, comics and graphic novels, science fiction and fantasy, and children’s and young adult (YA) fiction. Scholarly rebuttals of appropriations of antiquity by hate groups are re-engaging Classics with the politics of representation (of the past, and of ourselves and each other) in the here and now.