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.”
The Lost Italian Renaissance: Humanists, Historians, and Latin’s Legacy
2005 , The Johns Hopkins University Press
The intellectual heritage of the Italian Renaissance rivals that of any period in human history. Yet even as the social, political, and economic history of Renaissance Italy inspires exciting and innovative scholarship, the study of its intellectual history has grown less appealing, and our understanding of its substance and significance remains largely defined by the work of nineteenth-century thinkers. In The Lost Italian Renaissance, historian and literary scholar Christopher Celenza argues that serious interest in the intellectual life of Renaissance Italy can be reinvigorated—and the nature of the Renaissance itself reconceived—by recovering a major part of its intellectual and cultural activity that has been largely ignored since the Renaissance was first “discovered”: the vast body of works—literary, philosophical, poetic, and religious—written in Latin.
Produced between the mid-fourteenth and the early sixteenth centuries by major figures such as Leonardo Bruni, Lorenzo Valla, Marsilio Ficino, and Leon Battista Alberti, as well as minor but interesting thinkers like Lapo da Castiglionchio the Younger, this literature was initially overlooked by scholars of the Renaissance because they were not written in the vernacular Italian which alone was seen as was the supreme expression of a culture. This lack of attention, which continued well into the twentieth century, has led interpreters to misread key aspects of the Renaissance. Offering a flexible theoretical framework within which to understand these Latin texts, Celenza explains why these “lost” sources are distinctive and why they are worthy of study.
What will we really find among the Latin texts of the Renaissance? First, Celenza contends, there are a limited number of intellectuals who deserve a place in any canon of the period, and without whom our literary and philosophical heritage is diminished. Second, and more commonly, this literature establishes the intellectual traditions from which such well-known vernacular writers as Machiavelli and Castiglione emerge. And third, these Latin texts may contain strands of intellectual life that have been lost altogether. A groundbreaking work of intellectual history, The Lost Italian Renaissance uncovers a priceless intellectual legacy suggests provocative new avenues of research.
Wandering in Ancient Greek Culture
2005 , University of Chicago Press
From the Archaic period to the Greco-Roman age, the figure of the wanderer held great significance in ancient Greece. In the first comprehensive study devoted to this theme, Wandering in Ancient Greek Culture unearths the many meanings attached to this practice over the centuries. Employing a broad range of literary and philosophical texts, Silvia Montiglio demonstrates how wandering has been conceptualized from Homer’s Odysseus—the hero “who wandered much”—in the eighth century BCE to pagan sages of the early Roman Empire.
Attitudes toward wandering have evolved in accordance with cultural perspectives, causing some characterizations to persist while others have faded. The status of wanderers in Greek societies throughout history, for example, varied from outcasts and madmen to sages, who were recognized as mystical, even divine. The positive connotations of the activity became more prominent beginning with the fourth century BCE, owing especially to the Cynic philosophers. Examining the act of wandering through many lenses, Wandering in Ancient Greek Culture addresses questions such as: Why did the Greeks associate the figure of the wanderer with the condition of exile? How was the expansion of the world under Rome reflected in the connotations of wandering? Does a person learn by wandering, or is wandering a deviation from the truth? In the end, this matchless volume shows how the transformations that affected the figure of the wanderer coincided with new perceptions of the world and of travel, and invites us to consider its definition and import today.
Constructing Autocracy: Aristocrats and Emperors in Julio-Claudian Rome
2001 , Princeton University Press
Rome’s transition from a republican system of government to an imperial regime comprised more than a century of civil upheaval and rapid institutional change. Yet the establishment of a ruling dynasty, centered around a single leader, came as a cultural and political shock to Rome’s aristocracy, who had shared power in the previous political order. How did the imperial regime manage to establish itself and how did the Roman elites from the time of Julius Caesar to Nero make sense of it? In this compelling book, Matthew Roller reveals a “dialogical” process at work, in which writers and philosophers vigorously negotiated and contested the nature and scope of the emperor’s authority, despite the consensus that he was the ultimate authority figure in Roman society.
Roller seeks evidence for this “thinking out” of the new order in a wide range of republican and imperial authors, with an emphasis on Lucan and Seneca the Younger. He shows how elites assessed the impact of the imperial system on traditional aristocratic ethics and examines how several longstanding authority relationships in Roman society—those of master to slave, father to son, and gift-creditor to gift-debtor—became competing models for how the emperor did or should relate to his aristocratic subjects. By revealing this ideological activity to be not merely reactive but also constitutive of the new order, Roller contributes to ongoing debates about the character of the Roman imperial system and about the “politics” of literature.