1-10 of 6,530 Results

Article

Alexander Jones

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, tables were extensively employed in Graeco-Roman astronomy to present structured, quantitative astronomical data for reference, calculation, and display of patterns of data. Media for tables included papyrus, in roll or codex format, wooden boards, and occasionally inscriptions. Aside from their didactic function in writings on theoretical astronomy such as Ptolemy’s Almagest, the chief practical applications of astronomical tables were in astrology. Tables for calculating celestial positions and phenomena of the heavenly bodies represented two distinct traditions: an originally Babylonian tradition based on arithmetical operations and a Greek tradition, best known from Ptolemy’s works, based on trigonometry relating to geometrical theories for the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Both traditions made use of sexagesimal place-value notation. Additionally, almanacs and calendrically structured ephemerides presented celestial positions calculated over long spans of dates as a convenient tool for horoscopy and the astrological evaluation of days.

Article

Paul Allen Miller

Postmodernism is an intellectual movement that eschews grand narratives in favour of the fragmentary and the historically contingent. As such, it counterposes itself to the great synthetic theories that characterized the “modernism” of the first half of the twentieth century. Postmodernism does not use Classics as a way to found an identity, a tradition, or a history, but as a way to think differently about who we are, where we come from, and what we can be. The postmoderns use ancient texts to rethink the self and its limits, as a form of profound historicization of the subject and its modes of formation. Many of the most important postmodern thinkers have written important commentaries on ancient texts. These thinkers include figures such as Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, and Sarah Kofman. The commentaries that they produced have had a clear impact on recent classical scholarship, with special relevance to work on ancient philosophy and tragedy.

Article

Marilyn B. Skinner

Volumnia Cytheris, a freedwoman of P. Volumnius Eutrapelus, was a celebrated mime actress (see mime, roman), notorious during the 40s bce for her affairs with prominent political figures. Her lovers included Mark Antony and C. Cornelius Gallus, the inventor of Roman love elegy, who celebrated her under the pseudonym “Lycoris” in four books of amatory verse (Serv. ad Verg. Ecl. 10.1 and 6). According to a late source (De vir. ill. 82.2) she was also the paramour of the tyrannicide M. Iunius Brutus (2). All three men were, like Eutrapelus, at one time adherents of C. Iulius Caesar (2), and her association with them may have furthered her former owner’s ambitions.1 While the name “Cytheris,” alluding to Venus’s birthplace, sexualizes its possessor and is thus a suitable appellation for a stage performer, “Lycoris,” reminiscent of a cult title of Apollo, transports her into the realm of literature.

Article

Albio Cesare Cassio

In spite of being spoken in areas so far away from each other, Arcadian (written in the Greek alphabet) and Cypriot (written in a special syllabary) were two closely related ancient Greek dialects, hence the modern appellation “Arcado-Cypriot.” They descended directly from Mycenaean, some archaic vocabulary is unique to Homer, Mycenaean, and Arcado-Cypriot, and various other features set them apart from all the other Greek dialects.Arcado-Cypriot is a modern name used for two ancient Greek dialects, Arcadian and Cypriot, which share in a number of peculiarities—both archaisms and innovations, the latter being of central importance for the reconstruction of an earlier Arcado-Cypriot unity (which was not recognised in antiquity). Obviously, beside numerous similarities, there are remarkable differences between Arcadian and Cypriot.It is likely that both dialects, neither of which seems to have given rise to literary texts, descend directly from Mycenaean, hence the frequently used label of “Achaean” dialects. In archaic and classical times Arcadian was spoken by a population inhabiting central .

Article

Thomas Kuhn-Treichel

Philo Epicus was a Jewish-Hellenistic poet. He composed a hexametric poem on Jerusalem that featured both descriptions of the city and references to biblical events relating to the patriarchs. It is not clear whether he is to be identified with a Philo mentioned by Josephus (Ap. 1.218, with the attribute “the Elder”), Clement of Alexandria (Str. 1.141.3), and Eusebius of Caesarea (Hist. eccl. 6.13.7); while Nikolaus Walter argued for a distinction between the poet and a homonymous, otherwise unknown historian, some recent scholars seek to justify the identification.1 As to the date of his work, scholars have adduced literary, historical, and archaeological arguments to support various periods between the end of the 3rd and the first half of the 1st centuries bce.2 The only undisputable terminus ante quem for his work is the death of Alexander (11) Polyhistor (not long after 40bce), who quoted the poem in his treatise Περὶ Ἰουδαίων.

Article

Emma Cole

Ancient drama has had a vast influence upon the literary, performance, and intellectual culture of modernity. From ancient Greece thirty-two tragedies, eleven comedies, and one satyr play survive, and from ancient Rome ten tragedies and twenty-seven comedies remain, alongside countless fragments from all genres. Many of the surviving plays are staged in contemporary theatre in both literal translation and more liberal adaptation, and today more ancient drama is seen in professional theatres than at any point since antiquity. Although all ancient dramatic genres have a rich reception history, Greek tragedy dominates the field, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries. Productions of Greek tragedy today range from masked performances in the original language through to radical, avant-garde, immersive, and postdramatic reinventions. Greek tragedy is also frequently used as a touchstone within literary theory and broader intellectual discourse, from the theorisation of the ideal form of performance (Wagner’s Gesamtkuntswerk) to the development of psychoanalytic theory (Freud’s Oedipus complex) and structuralism (Lévi-Strauss). Ancient drama has also provided inspiration for entirely new dramatic forms; the influence of Roman tragedy, for example, can be felt within the revenge tragedies of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, while traces of Roman comedy can be felt in slapstick comedy and Italian commedia dell’arte. Current growth areas within both artistic practice, and academic research into the reception of ancient drama, include the performance reception of dramatic fragments, an increased interest in forms such as burlesque and pantomime, and the use of ancient drama as a tool of resistance against oppressive political regimes.

Article

Malcolm Bell, III

The bouleuterion housed the boule or council of a Greek polis in the form of a roofed meeting space. Most, if not all, cities had one; the remains of more than fifty buildings are extant. Although there were also bouleuteria in large sanctuaries and federal capitals, the major examples are urban. Bouleuteria were almost always located near a city’s agora. Over time their architects designed increasingly unobstructed interior spaces.Construction of dedicated bouleuteria began in the late archaic period; earlier councils may have met in porticoes or other buildings. Councils were generally composed of 100–500 bouletai and required a capacious meeting place; the bouleuterion became one of a city’s largest secular buildings. In the 5th and 4th centuries bce, the usual form was a hypostyle hall with symmetrically spaced interior columns, level floors, and seating on benches, as at Argos and Athens. Sloping stone seating was introduced early in the Hellenistic era and became standard; both rectilinear and curvilinear versions are known, the latter much more common. Secondary meeting spaces for committees of prytaneis or probouloi were sometimes adjacent.

Article

Richard Gordon

Roman religion has conventionally been understood as a civic or “polis” religion in which the population performed the same rituals, attended the same festivals, and believed in the same divinities, an image conveyed by the extant Roman historians (including the Greek Polybius) and the antiquarian tradition. This convention has successfully obscured the fact that the range of religious activities in the City, to say nothing of the surrounding areas of central Italy, was in reality always far wider. More neutrally, we may view the religious field at Rome as a site of constant, if intermittent, conflict over effective means of relating to the other world and the legitimate use of religious knowledge, conflict that parallels in a different key the disputes over proper religious observance that took place within the ruling elite itself and its various priestly colleges. If the larger category of dismissal was superstition, the narrower and still more negative one was magical practice. There were however several sub-classes here, of which witchcraft and sorcery were but two. Over the thousand years of knowable Roman history, which saw a single city extend its political and extractive reach to a maximum of 4.4 megametres and then decline, the understanding of magic as malign (i.e., witchcraft/sorcery) altered in often dramatic ways, beginning with anxieties typical of agrarian communities, and culminating in Late Antiquity in charges of lese-majesty at court and routinized attempts at revenge by rival rhetors, to which we can add the deployment of allegations of magic by Christian hardliners in attacking paganism and heretics. A significant process in this history was the gradual appropriation over the last hundred and fifty years of the Republic of a term (magia) and its associated stereotypes from the Hellenistic Greek world, which together provided a medium, widely exploited in a variety of literary genres, for re-figuring the social disruptions that attended the violent self-destruction of the aristocratic régime and remained thereafter a powerful imaginative resource for constructing a variety of boundaries around a moral centre, claimed to be steady but in fact altering very considerably under shifting political, social, and religious conditions.

Article

Sumerian-Akkadian mythology reaches back to the earliest lists of gods in the third millennium bce and preoccupied the Mesopotamian intellectuals for more than 2000 years. This overview describes four major moments in the earlier phases of that history, each putting in place a different type of cosmic building block: ontologies, infrastructures, genealogies, and interfaces. These four phases stretch from the first mythological narratives in the mid-third millennium down to the late second and first millennium bce, when Mesopotamian materials are reconfigured and adapted for cuneiform scribal traditions in northern Mesopotamia, Syria and the Levant. Rather than limiting ourselves to late, somewhat heterodox recompilations such as the Enuma Elish or the Baal Epic, this contribution argues that the most important and long-lived features of the mythological tradition in Mesopotamia came into existence between 2500 and 1500bce.Like the poetry of a particular language or the usual turns of phrase in a family, the mythology embedded in a particular culture or civilization provides decisive clues to the central concerns of that society. These clues are indirect hints at most, constrained by the need to transmit specific textual materials (mythologems, proverbs, or narratives), while at the same time producing the local pragmatic effects that they are thought to achieve. Surprisingly, then, mythological materials are also usually quite susceptible to translation, giving the unknowing reader the impression that things were not so very different four thousand years ago in ancient Iraq. If we adopt a definition of myth that limits our quarry to “stories about deities that describe how the basic structures of reality came into existence,” excluding thereby .

Article

Travis Rupp

Beer was a staple of ancient diets, extending from the ancient Near East to Egypt and from the Greek Aegean to Rome. The brewing process developed in Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Israel, while industrialized production of beer continued in Egypt. However, in Greek and Roman culture, discussions and acceptance of beer are not as prevalent in the composed texts of the elite populace. These authors avoid or degrade the topic. Though no one word for beer universally translates in ancient Greek and Latin languages, further examination has demonstrated that beer was a nutritional necessity and was produced in Greek and Roman history; yet, the resilience of beer is largely attributed to peoples living on or beyond the boundaries of Greek and Roman dominion. Their direct contact with Rome’s legions compelled beer’s development even without a full embrasure from aristocratic elites. Combining art, architecture, archaeology, and literature, a comprehensive story for the existence and permanence of beer is told from 9500 bce to 500 ce.