Faculty Books

deep classics book cover

Fragmented, buried, and largely lost, the classical past presents formidable obstacles to anyone who would seek to know it. Deep Classics is the study of these obstacles and, in particular, of the way in which the contemplation of the classical past resembles—and has even provided a model for—other kinds of human endeavor. This volume offers a new way to understand the modalities and aims of Classics itself, through the ages. Its individual chapters draw fruitful connections between the reception of the classical and current concerns in the philosophy of mind, cognitive theory, epistemology, media studies, sense studies, aesthetics, queer theory, the history of science and eco-criticism. This groundbreaking collection of essays makes a pointed intervention in the study of the classical tradition, now generally known as classical reception studies.


spell-hypnos

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 book cover

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

“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.


Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses

Like us, the ancient Greeks and Romans came to know and understand the world through their senses. Yet sensory experience has rarely been considered in the study of antiquity and, even when the senses are examined, sight is regularly privileged.

Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses presents a radical reappraisal of antiquity’s textures, flavors, aromas, sounds and sights. It offers both a fresh look at the ancient world and an opportunity to deepen the reading of classical literature.

This book will appeal to readers in classical society and literature, philosophy, and social and cultural history. All Greek and Latin is translated, and technical matters are explained for the non-specialist. The introduction sets the ancient senses within the history of aesthetics and the subsequent essays explore the senses throughout the classical period and on to the modern reception of classical literature.


Love & Providence cover

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 cover

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.


The Matter of the Page

Ancient and medieval literary texts often call attention to their existence as physical objects. Shane Butler helps us to understand why. Arguing that writing has always been as much a material struggle as an intellectual one, The Matter of the Page offers timely lessons for the digital age about how creativity works and why literature moves us.

Butler begins with some considerations about the materiality of the literary text, both as a process (the draft) and a product (the book), and he traces the curious history of “the page” from scroll to manuscript codex to printed book and beyond. He then offers a series of unforgettable portraits of authors at work: Thucydides struggling to describe his own diseased body; Vergil ready to burn an epic poem he could not finish; Lucretius wrestling with words even as he fights the madness that will drive him to suicide; Cicero mesmerized by the thought of erasing his entire career; Seneca plumbing the depths of the soul in the wax of his tablets; and Dhuoda, who sees the book she writes as a door, a tunnel, a womb. Butler reveals how the work of writing transformed each of these authors into his or her own first reader, and he explains what this metamorphosis teaches us about how we too should read.


Silence in the Land of Logos cover

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 cover

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.