The Spell of Hypnos: Sleep and Sleeplessness in Ancient Greek Literature
2015 , I. B. Tauris; Sew edition
Sleep was viewed as a boon by the ancient Greeks: sweet, soft, honeyed, balmy, care-loosening, as the Iliad has it. But neither was sleep straightforward, nor safe. It could be interrupted, often by a dream. It could be the site of dramatic intervention by a god or goddess. It might mark the transition in a narrative relationship, as when Penelope for the first time in weeks slumbers happily through Odysseus’ vengeful slaughter of her suitors. Silvia Montiglio’s imaginative and comprehensive study of the topic illuminates the various ways writers in antiquity used sleep to deal with major aspects of plot and character development. The author shows that sleeplessness, too, carries great weight in classical literature. Doom hangs by a thread as Agamemnon—in Iphigenia in Aulis—paces, restless and sleepless, while around him everyone else dozes on. Exploring recurring tropes of somnolence and wakefulness in the Iliad, the Odyssey, Athenian drama, the Argonautica and ancient novels by Xenophon, Chariton, Heliodorus and Achilles Tatius, this is a unique contribution to better understandings of ancient Greek writing.
The Ancient Phonograph
2015 , Zone Books
Long before the invention of the phonograph, the written word was unrivaled as a medium of the human voice. In The Ancient Phonograph, Shane Butler takes us back to an age, long before Edison, when writing itself was still relatively new. He meticulously reconstructs a series of Greek and Roman soundscapes ranging from Aristotle to Augustine. Here the real voices of tragic actors, ambitious orators, and singing emperors blend with the imagined voices of lovesick nymphs, tormented heroes, and angry gods. The resonant world we encounter in ancient sources is at first unfamiliar, populated by texts that speak and sing, often with no clear difference between the two. But Butler discovers a commonality that invites a deeper understanding of why voices mattered then, and why they have mattered since.
With later examples that range from Petrarch to Puccini, Mozart to Jimi Hendrix, Butler offers an ambitious attempt to rethink the voice — as an anatomical presence, a conceptual category, and a source of pleasure and wonder. He carefully and critically assesses the strengths and limits of recent theoretical approaches to the voice by Adriana Cavarero and Mladen Dolar and makes a rich and provocative range of ancient material available for the first time to students and scholars in voice studies, sound studies, and media theory. The Ancient Phonograph will appeal not only to classicists but to anyone interested in the verbal arts — literature, oratory, song — and the nature of aesthetic experience.
Machiavelli: A Portrait
2015 , Harvard University Press
“Machiavellian”―used to describe the ruthless cunning of the power-obsessed and the pitiless―is never meant as a compliment. But the man whose name became shorthand for all that is ugly in politics was more engaging and nuanced than his reputation suggests. Christopher S. Celenza’s Machiavelli: A Portrait removes the varnish of centuries to reveal not only the hardnosed political philosopher but the skilled diplomat, learned commentator on ancient history, comic playwright, tireless letter writer, and thwarted lover.
Machiavelli’s hometown was the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century, a place of unparalleled artistic and intellectual attainments. But Florence was also riven by extraordinary violence. War and public executions were commonplace―Machiavelli himself was imprisoned and brutally tortured at the behest of his own government. These experiences left a deep impression on this keen observer of power politics, whose two masterpieces―The Prince and The Discourses―draw everywhere on the hard-won wisdom gained from navigating a treacherous world. But like many of Machiavelli’s fellow Florentines, he also immersed himself in the Latin language and wisdom of authors from the classical past. And for all of Machiavelli’s indifference to religion, vestiges of Christianity remained in his thought, especially the hope for a redeemer―a prince who would provide the stability so rare in Machiavelli’s worldly experience.
Love and Providence: Recognition in the Ancient Novel
2012 , Oxford University Press, USA
From the Odyssey and King Lear to modern novels by Umberto Eco and John le Carré, the recognition scene has enjoyed a long life in Western literature. It first became a regular feature of prose literature in the Greek novels of the first century CE. In these examples, it is the event that ensures the happy ending for the hero and heroine, and as such, it seems, was as pleasing for Greek readers as the canonical Hollywood kiss is for contemporary movie goers. Recognitions are particularly gratifying in the context of the ancient novels because the genre as a whole celebrates the idyllic social order to which the heroes and heroines belong and from which they have been harshly severed. In spite of their high frequency and thematic importance, novelistic recognitions have attracted little critical attention, especially in relation to epic and tragedy. With Love and Providence, Silvia Montiglio seeks to fill this gap. She begins by introducing the meaning of recognitions in the ancient novel both within the novels’ narrative structure and thought world—that is, the values and ideals propounded in the narrative. She pursues these goals while examining novels by Chariton, Xenophon of Ephesus, Achilles Tatius, Longus, Heliodorus, Apuleius, and Petronius, as well as the Life of Apollonius of Tyre, the pseudo-Clementine recognitions, and the Jewish novel Joseph and Aseneth. In addition to addressing questions brought about by the recognitions–What does it mean for lovers to recognize each other at the end of their adventures? Is recognition the confirmation of sameness or an acknowledgement of change?–Montiglio addresses the rapport novelists entertain with their literary tradition, epic and drama. The book concludes by emphasizing the originality of the novels for the development of the recognition motif, and by explaining its influence in early-modern European literature.
From Villain to Hero: Odysseus in Ancient Thought
2011 , University of Michigan Press
Best known for his adventures during his homeward journey as narrated in Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus remained a major figure and a source of inspiration in later literature, from Greek tragedy to Dante’s Inferno to Joyce’s Ulysses. Less commonly known, but equally interesting, are Odysseus’ “wanderings” in ancient philosophy: Odysseus becomes a model of wisdom for Socrates and his followers, Cynics and Stoics, as well as for later Platonic thinkers. From Villain to Hero: Odysseus in Ancient Thought follows these wanderings in the world of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, retracing the steps that led the cunning hero of Homeric epic and the villain of Attic tragedy to become a paradigm of the wise man.
From Villain to Hero explores the reception of Odysseus in philosophy, a subject that so far has been treated only in tangential or limited ways. Diverging from previous studies, Montiglio outlines the philosophers’ Odysseus across the spectrum, from the Socratics to the Middle Platonists. By the early centuries CE, Odysseus’ credentials as a wise man are firmly established, and the start of Odysseus’ rehabilitation by philosophers challenges current perceptions of him as a villain. More than merely a study in ancient philosophy, From Villain to Hero seeks to understand the articulations between philosophical readings of Odysseus and nonphilosophical ones, with an eye to the larger cultural contexts of both. While this book is the work of a classicist, it will also be of interest to students of philosophy, comparative literature, and reception studies.
Silence in the Land of Logos
2010 , Princeton University Press
In ancient Greece, the spoken word connoted power, whether in the free speech accorded to citizens or in the voice of the poet, whose song was thought to know no earthly bounds. But how did silence fit into the mental framework of a society that valued speech so highly? Here Silvia Montiglio provides the first comprehensive investigation into silence as a distinctive and meaningful phenomenon in archaic and classical Greece. Arguing that the notion of silence is not a universal given but is rather situated in a complex network of associations and values, Montiglio seeks to establish general principles for understanding silence through analyses of cultural practices, including religion, literature, and law.
Unlike the silence of a Christian before an ineffable God, which signifies the uselessness of words, silence in Greek religion paradoxically expresses the power of logos—for example, during prayer and sacrifice, it serves as a shield against words that could offend the gods. Montiglio goes on to explore silence in the world of the epic hero, where words are equated with action and their absence signals paralysis or tension in power relationships. Her other examples include oratory, a practice in which citizens must balance their words with silence in very complex ways in order to show that they do not abuse their right to speak. Inquiries into lyric poetry, drama, medical writings, and historiography round out this unprecedented study, revealing silence as a force in its own right.
Worshiping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens
2008 , Onassis Foundation
This exhibition catalogue, divided into three main sections, is an essential collection of images and descriptions of each of the 155 artifacts of the exhibition, containing also scrutinizing essays on the important role women played in Classical Athens. The first section, “Goddesses and Heroines”, introduces the principal female deities of Athens and Attica, in whose cults and festivals women were most actively engaged: Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The second section, “Women and Ritual,” explores the practice of ritual acts such as dances, libations, sacrifices, processions and festivals in which women were active in classical antiquity. Here the critical role of the priestess comes to light, specifically in her function as key-bearer for the temples of the gods. The final section, “Women and the Cycle of Life,” looks at how religious rituals defined moments of transition. This section focuses on nuptial rites and wedding banquets but also death, another occasion on which Athenian women took on major responsibilities, such as preparing the deceased for burial and tending the graves of family members. Contributors include, in addition to the editors, Professor Mary Lefkowitz of Wellesley College; Professor Olga Palagia of the University of Athens; Dr. Angelos Delivorrias, director of the Benaki Museum; Professor Michalis Tiverios of the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki; Professor Joan Breton Connelly of New York University; Professor Jenifer Neils of Case Western Reserve University; and Professor John Oakley of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, among others.
The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece
2007 , Cambridge University Press
The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece provides a wide-ranging synthesis of history, society, and culture during the formative period of Ancient Greece, from the Age of Homer in the late eighth century to the Persian Wars of 490–480 B.C. In 10 clearly written and succinct chapters, leading scholars from around the English-speaking world treat all aspects of the civilization of Archaic Greece, from social, political, and military history to early achievements in poetry, philosophy, and the visual arts. Archaic Greece was an age of experimentation and intellectual ferment that laid the foundations for much of Western thought and culture. Individual Greek city-states rose to great power and wealth, and after a long period of isolation, many cities sent out colonies that spread Hellenism to all corners of the Mediterranean world. This Companion offers a vivid and fully documented account of this critical stage in the history of the West.
Dining Posture in Ancient Rome: Bodies, Values, and Status
2006 , Princeton University Press
What was really going on at Roman banquets? In this lively new book, veteran Romanist Matthew Roller looks at a little-explored feature of Roman culture: dining posture. In ancient Rome, where dining was an indicator of social position as well as an extended social occasion, dining posture offered a telling window into the day-to-day lives of the city’s inhabitants.
This book investigates the meaning and importance of the three principal dining postures–reclining, sitting, and standing–in the period 200 B.C.-200 A.D. It explores the social values and distinctions associated with each of the postures and with the diners who assumed them. Roller shows that dining posture was entangled with a variety of pressing social issues, such as gender roles and relations, sexual values, rites of passage, and distinctions among the slave, freed, and freeborn conditions.
Timely in light of the recent upsurge of interest in Roman dining, this book is equally concerned with the history of the body and of bodily practices in social contexts. Roller gathers evidence for these practices and their associated values not only from elite literary texts, but also from subelite visual representations–specifically, funerary monuments from the city of Rome and wall paintings of dining scenes from Pompeii.
Engagingly written, Dining Posture in Ancient Rome will appeal not only to the classics scholar, but also to anyone interested in how life was lived in the Eternal City.
Humanism and Creativity in the Renaissance
2006 , Brill Academic Publishers
This volume comprises original contributions from 17 scholars whose work and careers Ronald Witt has touched in myriad ways. Intellectual, social, and political historians, a historian of philosophy and an art historian: specialists in various temporal and geographical regions of the Renaissance world here address specific topics reflecting some of the major themes that have woven their way through Ronald Witt’s intellectual cursus. While some essays offer fresh readings of canonical texts and explore previously unnoticed lines of filiation among them, others present “discoveries,” including a hitherto “lost” text and overlooked manuscripts that are here edited for the first time. Engagement with little-known material reflects another of Witt’s distinguishing characteristics: a passion for original sources. The essays are gathered under three rubrics: “Politics and the Revival of Antiquity”; “Humanism, Religion, and Moral Philosophy”; and “Erudition and Innovation.”