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.
N. J. Lowe
Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth
Prosopography is a modern term for the study of individuals, and is derived from the Greek prosōpon, one meaning of which is ‘person’. There is no agreed or official definition of prosopography, which goes under different names in different disciplines (to the social scientist, prosopography in one of its manifestations is ‘multiple career-line analysis’: see L. Stone in bibliog. below). Prosopography, as used in ancient history, is a historical method which uses onomastic evidence (see
C. A. Martindale and Lorna Hardwick
‘Reception’, in the specialized sense used within literary theory, is a concept of German origin, associated primarily with the Constance school of critics led by H. R. Jauss and W. Iser, and often subsequently used to replace words like tradition, heritage, influence, etc. , each key-word having its own implied agenda (for a symbiotic relationship between reception and tradition, see Budelmann and Haubold in Hardwick and Stray (eds.) (2008)). Studies of reception-history (Rezeptionsgeschichte) are studies of the reading, interpretation, (re)fashioning, appropriation, use, and abuse of past texts over the centuries. In providing a theoretical framework for such studies Jauss started from the proposition, previously advanced within German hermeneutics, e.g. in Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method (1960; Eng. trans. 1975), that interpretation always takes place within history, and is subject to the contingencies of its historical moment; there is no permanently ‘correct’ reading of a text, but an ever-changing ‘fusion of horizons’ between text and interpreter. Thus reception-theory, like other modern theories of reading, stresses the importance of the reader, within the triangle writer–text–reader, for the construction of meaning. So Horace, as a man, as a body of texts, as an authority for different ways of living, has been diversely read in the west over the last 500 years, by scholars, poets, and ‘men of letters’, and our current images are shaped in response to that reception-history.
Reception in historical novels set in ancient Greece and Rome differs fundamentally between the 19th and the 20th/21st centuries. In the 19th century, reception was governed heavily by imperial attitudes and religious controversies, particularly in regard to claims about the true Christian faith under the Roman Empire. Hence, novels set in Rome or the Roman Empire dominated the field. In the 20th century, attitudes to empire and religion were drastically revised in the wake of World War I. The growing authority of academic history in an age of scientific progress was another factor which helped to produce a decline in the reputation of historical fiction. Other changes, however, were more stimulating in nature, including the use of ancient Greece as a setting, more impressive source analysis, the rise of female novelists, different subjects and perspectives, and new social and sexual attitudes. These and other developments lifted the reputation of historical fiction once more.