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Queer theory takes its name from a derogatory term for persons considered “odd” or “abnormal”, notably those whose sexual behaviour, gender expression, or other characteristics do not conform to established social norms. It harnesses the experience and perspective of gender non-conformists and sexual deviants as a vantage point for understanding—and dismantling—the coercive workings of social structures and discursive regimes. Since queerness marks a position outside or at the margins of—and thus relative to—the social order, it necessarily takes on different forms under different normative regimes: while different kinds of queers have existed at all times and in all places, what counts as “queer” in any given time and place depends on what counts as “normal”.Ancient literature’s queerness, consequently, has two dimensions: (a) accounts—real and imagined—of sexual behaviours, erotic desires, intimate relationships, and notorious figures recognizably at odds with the sociosexual norms of Greece and Rome (“ancient queers”); and (b) accounts that, whatever their status in antiquity, appear strikingly odd in their later reception (“queer ancients”). These two dimensions can and do converge, as in the development of modern Western sexual identity categories (homosexual, bisexual, etc.), which drew heavily on ancient “case studies.”Frank about their committed stance in the present, queer readings of ancient literature interrogate interconnected formations and histories of misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, racism, and classism; ponder and celebrate pre-modern instances of resistance to sexual norms; and tap into the classical past in order to open new possibilities for erotic and social relations and subjectivities.

Article

The imperial-age Greek Progymnasmata in which the term ekphrasis first appears show that the rhetoricians of the Greco-Roman world identified “descriptive speech” as an important component of rhetorical narrative and other elements of an oration insofar as it created “vividness” (ἐνάργεια) and “clarity” (ͅσαφήνεια) so as to bring persons, places, events, objects, etc. “before the eyes” (ὑπ’ ὅψιν) of listeners. The Roman rhetoricians draw upon Greek concepts and terminology to express the value in oratory of vividness (evidentia, illustratio, repraesentatio) imparted through description (descriptio, sub oculos subiectio, etc.). Many examples of such techniques can be found in Roman oratory as well as the Roman historians, who, like most Roman authors, share with the orators a strong familiarity with rhetoric. But if, in general, neither oratory nor historiography exhibits a high degree of self-consciousness about differences between ekphraseis/descriptiones in Greek and Latin, one type of ekphrasis—that of art objects in Roman poetry and the Roman novel—does. This constitutes one reason why it merits separate attention, in spite of the fact that the Progymnasmata suggest that in Antiquity it was viewed as a subcategory of the larger phenomenon.

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

David Paniagua

Vibius Sequester is the author of the De fluminibus, fontibus, lacubus, nemoribus, paludibus, montibus, gentibus per litteras, a short repertoire of geographical names mentioned by Virgil, Silius, Lucan and Ovid. The text, written at the end of the 4th or in the 5th century ce for the author’s son, Vergilianus, was likely intended to be used at school as an instrument providing basic information about the collected toponyms and ethnonyms. Despite the occasional mistakes in the text, Sequester’s repertoire represent a fine instance of school culture in Western Late Antiquity. The work was much appreciated by Italian humanists, which explains that it was copied in nearly 50 recentiores manuscripts; all of them, however, descend from a second-half of the 9th century manuscript (Vat. Lat. 4929).Vibius Sequester was the author of a short alphabetic repertoire of geographical names mentioned in Latin poetry, probably compiled at the end of the 4th or in the 5th century .

Article

Alison Sharrock

Intratextuality is a critical term used to explore the relationship between the parts and the whole in texts, including issues of unity (and disunity), the relationship between digressions and their surroundings, interactions between disparate parts of texts (such as ring composition), juxtapositions that may reflect surprisingly on their neighbours, or any structural issue within a single work of literature. Intratextual approaches may also be interested in ways in which the activity of a reader affects response to the text, for example by dividing it into mental “paragraphs.” Crucial to intratextual reading is that all these relationships be interpretable.

Intratextuality is a term developed in the 1990s to describe and theorise the relationship between the parts and the whole in classical texts. Although its roots go back at least as far as Aristotle’s discussions of literary unity (Poetics 1451a), the modern and explicitly theorised consideration of intratextuality arose out of the blossoming of literary theory in Classics during the final quarter of the last century, through interactions with post-structuralism, reader-response criticism, narratology, and especially intertextuality.

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

Marilyn B. Skinner

The basic dominance-submission model of sexual relations, involving a hierarchical distinction between the active and passive roles, was the same in Greek and Roman cultures and remained unchanged throughout classical antiquity. However, we find subtle modifications reflected in the literary tradition from the Homeric age to imperial Rome. In Homer and Hesiod, heterosexual relations are the only recognized form of sexual congress, and consensual sex is mutually pleasurable. Forced sex, in the form of abduction and rape, also occurs in epic narrative. Pederasty became a literary theme in Greek lyric poetry of the archaic age. In classical Athens, discourses of sexuality were tied to political ideology, because self-control was a civic virtue enabling the free adult male householder to manage his estate correctly and serve the city-state in war and peace. Tragedy illustrates the dire impact of unbridled erōs, while comedy mocks those who trespass against moderation or violate gender norms, and forensic oratory seeks to disqualify such offenders from participating in government. Philosophical schools disagreed over the proper place of erōs in a virtuous life.

Article

Paola Marone

Aethicus Ister is the unknown author of the Cosmographia, a fictional world travelogue that probably belongs to the 7th to 8th centuries. This work, written in an abstruse Latin, makes use of a whole range of antique (the Bible, the Isidore’s Etymologies, the Pseudo-Augustine’s De mirabilibus sacrae scripturae, etc.) and medieval texts (the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, the Liber historiae Francorum, some Latin translations of the Alexander Romance, etc.). It is one of the most difficult and puzzling early medieval texts, and it has been the object of intense study since its earliest editions. According to a recent theory espoused by Herren, it could have been written c. 675–725 by a Frank with connexions to Ireland and, possibly, England.Aethicus Ister (c. 7th–8th century ce), otherwise known as Aethicus of Istria or the philosopher of Istria, is the supposed author of the Cosmographia, a description of the world that claims to have been written originally in Greek and subsequently translated into Latin by an ecclesiastical called Jerome (not Saint .

Article

Sebastian Matzner

The term metonymy denotes a literary trope, that is, a specific form of defamiliarized expression, which indirectly refers to what is at issue. Metonymy achieves this by way of exploiting an already existing association between the term (or terms) used metonymically—the metonym—and the term (or terms) implicitly at issue. Metonymy thus differs from metaphor, among other things, in that it does not invoke an underlying analogy or similarity between what is said and what is at issue. In both ancient and modern criticism, metaphor received significantly more attention than metonymy (partly owed to the fact that the poetic effects of metaphor tend to eclipse those of metonymy, partly because of the stronger appeal of the logical dimension at the heart of metaphor). As a result, metonymy—though widely used—is often ill-defined as a critical concept. Today, it features in literary-aesthetic, diachronic-etymological, (post-)structuralist, and cognitive criticism. Ancient literature, both Greek and Latin, is rich in metonymic usages, albeit with varying degrees of poetic intensity; the pattern is one of relatively few intense outcomes, and relatively many less intense ones. Prominent among the general literary-aesthetic effects of metonymy’s semantic shifts are the creation of a poignantly condensed impression of what is at issue; a change in focalization by zooming out onto a higher plane or zooming in on newly foregrounded micro-level aspects; and movement between the concrete-material and the abstract-conceptual dimensions of what is at issue.

Article

Lisa Irene Hau

Tragic history is a phrase coined in the late 19th century to describe a certain type of Hellenistic history writing, which was thought to have Peripatetic underpinnings, and whose main proponents were Duris of Samos and Phylarchus (of Athens or Naucratis). The expression gained currency quickly and is still widely used to designate un-Polybian, sensationalist, and emotionally involved historiography from the Hellenistic period (the works of which have all been lost), in spite of the current communis opinio among specialists that there was no real “school” of tragic history.Tragic history is a phrase coined in the late 19th century to describe a certain type of Hellenistic history writing, which was thought to have Peripatetic underpinnings, and whose main proponents were Duris of Samos and Phylarchus (of Athens or Naucratis). The expression gained currency quickly and is still widely used to designate un-Polybian, sensationalist, and emotionally involved historiography from the Hellenistic period (the works of which have all been lost), in spite of the current .