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Article

Alan Douglas Edward Cameron and P. J. Parsons

Is not used in the modern sense before *Diogenianus (2). Many Hellenistic poets published books of epigrams: PMil. Vogl. VIII. 309 and PColon. 5. 204 are from collections by *Posidippus (2) and *Mnasalces, and a number of papyri of the 3rd–2nd cents. bce contain epigrams (P. Firmin Didot, SH 961, 974, 985, 986, 981, PColon. 3.128). The unpublished PVindob. G 40611 (3rd/2nd cent. bce) contains a check-list of at least 240 epigrams (first lines only), all unknown but one, selected from a collection or anthology in four books; for a preliminary account see P. J. Parsons, Entretiens Hardt XLVIII, Callimaque (2002) 118–20. Florilegia of all sorts were common from an early period (H. Chadwick, RAC ‘Florilegium’; J. Barns, CQ 1950–1), but the first artistically arranged anthology of epigrams still seems to be the Garland (Στέφανος) of *Meleager (2), c.

Article

canon  

Patricia E. Easterling

In Classical Greek the word kanōn (lit. ‘rod’) was used to mean ‘rule’ or ‘standard’; hence its use as the title of a manual on proportions by the sculptor *Polyclitus (2) and as the name of a statue illustrating his principles. The word was later applied by Christian writers to what became the approved selection of books of the Bible, but it was not used in pagan antiquity in the sense of a list of chosen ‘best authors’. (*Dionysius of *Halicarnassus uses it of (e.g.) *Lysias as ‘the perfect model of the Attic dialect’ (Lys. 2), and *Photius in the 9th cent. ce applies it to any author who represents the ‘standard’ of the genre or the model for another writer: e.g. *Thucydides (2) is the kanōn for *Cassius Dio, Bibl. 35b33.) The idea of compiling lists of the best writers in a particular genre, such as the Nine Lyric Poets, was attributed by Roman writers to Alexandrian scholars, particularly *Aristarchus (2) and *Aristophanes (2) of Byzantium (Quint.

Article

Edward Courtney and Gail Trimble

Epyllion (diminutive of epos), term applied in modern (not ancient) times to some ‘short epics’, hexameter poems of mythological narrative in not more than one book. The texts most frequently called ‘epyllion’ are Hellenistic (especially the Hecale of *Callimachus (3), certain poems of *Theocritus, and Moschus’ Europa) and Roman (the sixty-fourth poem of *Catullus (1), lost works by other *neoterics, and the *Ciris).

Characteristics often considered typical of epyllion include: unfamiliar mythical subject-matter, often erotic; a subjective, emotional style; an uneven narrative scale, with some events elaborated and others quickly passed over; the inclusion of a second theme within the main narrative by means of a speech or *ekphrasis.

However, many of these features are shared with other Hellenistic or neoteric poetry, with earlier poems in the post-Homeric epic tradition, or with shorter poetic narratives in other metres (especially lyric), while some poems usually identified as ‘epyllia’ exhibit only one or two of them. The meaningfulness of the term has therefore been questioned, although its convenience is generally agreed.

Article

Christopher Pelling

‘Which of the gods was it that brought the two together in strife?’, asks the Iliad as it launches its narrative (1.8); early in the Odyssey*Zeus complains that mortals blame the gods when they are responsible for their own sufferings (1.32–3). Both poems however swiftly complicate any attempt to limit explanations to either the human or the divine level. Achilles and Agamemnon quarrel, Achilles kills Hector, and Odysseus gets home, largely because they are the people that they are, but gods often intervene too. The Greeks win because they are better fighters; they also win because more gods are on their side. The poems also suggest another form of explanation, not tracing events to their origins but relating them to a familiar pattern of human life. Suffering is the lot of humanity (Il. 24.525–6); outrages like those of the suitors are punished. Life is like that, and one should not be surprised.

Article

Feminism does not refer to one coherent theory, doctrine, or political movement. The range of movements and ideologies that thrive under the term feminism, however, are all committed to political and social change. Feminism recognises that we live in a patriarchal world, that is to say a world in which women are, and have historically been, oppressed by and unequal to men. It opposes this, and strives to change existing power structures so that people of all genders and races have control over their own bodies, have equal opportunities and value, can participate fully in community life, and are allowed to live with dignity and freedom.

What has this to do with ancient literature? There are several significant ways in which feminism and ancient literature interact. Ancient literature, particularly ancient Greek tragedy and myth, has played a formative role in shaping feminist theory. Feminism encourages scholars to uncover and reevaluate a tradition of women’s writing. Feminism has provided the tools for us better to understand how ancient literature functioned to promote, and sometimes to challenge, the misogynist practices of ancient Greek and Roman societies. Scholars have detected feminism, or proto-feminism, in ancient writing. Queer theory and feminism join forces to mine ancient literature for alternatives to hetero, cisgender, and gender binary models of identity. Feminism has changed the field of ancient literary studies by valuing authors and genres that are sensitive to the perspectives of women of all ethnicities and statuses. Finally, ancient literature is used to serve contemporary activism: Greek and Latin texts are used by modern feminist authors who rewrite and creatively adapt ancient literature, and classicists resist the use of ancient literature to promote misogyny and white supremacy.

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

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

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

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

Nigel Wilson

In one sense of the term scholarship began when literature became a central element of education and the prescribed texts had to be explained and interpreted to pupils in a class. An early reflex of this activity is the reported invention by *Theagenes (2) of Rhegium (late 6th cent. bce) of the allegorical method of interpretation, which could be used to deny the literal meaning of supposedly objectionable passages of *Homer. But scholarship, like literary criticism, was slow to develop in the Classical period. In the Peripatos (see peripatetic school) *Aristotle and his disciples were not primarily concerned with literature or history, but their discussions of Homer and concern with the chronology of Athenian dramatic festivals were a step forward. Recognizably scholarly work, including the composition of books or pamphlets about literary texts, began early in the 3rd cent. bce in *Alexandria (1) under the patronage of the Ptolemies (see Ptolemy (1)); to what extent the ideals of the Peripatos were influential, possibly through the influence of *Demetrius (3) of Phalerum, is a disputed question.

Article

Ewen Bowie

Second Sophistic is the term regularly applied in modern scholarship to the period c. 60–230 ce when *declamation became the most prestigious literary activity in the Greek world. Philostratus (see philostrati (no. 2)) coined the term in his Lives of the Sophists, claiming a link between the Classical *sophists and the movement whose first member he identified as Nicetes of Smyrna in the reign of *Nero (Lives 1. 19). The term sophist (σοφιστής; verb σοφιστεύειν) seems restricted to rhetors (public speakers, see rhetoric, greek) who entered upon a career of public displays, though usage even in the Digest is erratic, and Philostratus' Dionysius of Miletus (Lives 1. 22) is simply rhetor on his sarcophagus at Ephesus (Inschriften von Ephesos426).On the evidence of Philostratus, whose 40 lives of imperial sophists include several Severan contemporaries, and of other literary and epigraphic texts, it is clear that for these 170 years declamation was not simply an exercise for teachers of rhetoric and their pupils but a major art form in its own right. It flourished especially in Athens and the great cities of western Asia Minor, above all *Pergamum, *Smyrna, and *Ephesus.

Article

M. D. Reeve

Textual criticism sets out to establish what a text originally said or meant to say. Anyone who checks a garbled message with the sender has given a faultless demonstration of it. Classical texts, which have mostly come down through a succession of copies, present stiffer challenges. Even some inscriptions (see epigraphy) are corrupt.Politian (Poliziano; see scholarship, classical, history of) in 1489 first refined ancient methods by showing that for historical reconstruction authorities were less to be counted than weighed and derivative ones ignored. He made such arresting discoveries as that all copies of Cicero's Ad familiares in circulation derived from one misbound ancestor. For 300 years these insights were seldom exploited even by critics good at picking out valuable witnesses, like Heinsius and Bentley; and when genealogical classification finally took hold, among editors of the Bible in the later 18th cent. and of classical texts in the 1820s, it was not until 1872 that the historical linguist Johannes Schmidt framed the cardinal principle, still often flouted, that in a family only shared innovations indicate a closer relationship.