In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews163 The Rhetoric ofSpace: Literary and Artistic Representation ofLandscape in Republican andAugustan Rome, by Eleanor Winsor Leach; xiv & 493 pp. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988, $65.00. In this long and repetitively argued book, Leach claims thata Roman "rhetoric ofspace" makes one a "spectator" reading art and literature. The book develops this problematic point of view first in an examination of "spatial patterns": (1) in Homer's Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, and the Esquiline Odyssey landscapes; (2) in the interrelationship between Roman maps and rhetorical handbooks; and (3) in Virgil's Georgics where cartographic description and didactic poetry meet in the "verbal map." In part two it considers "sacral-idyllic landscapes" in the elegists and a handful of paintings, all under the suspiciously convenient opposition between the "public and private spheres." Here Leach also examines the Augustan "architectural panorama," but we are told that it has "no demonstrable literary background" (p. 261). Part three provides lessons in (1) "reading the continuous narrative," (2) the Propertian "mythological ensemble" in mutual reference to the rhetoric of private pinacouiecae and Petronius, and (3) the oppositional reading of "Propertian statics" and "Ovidian mobility." AU diis leads to an anticlimactic conclusion: "This is what great art can accomplish: a continuation of cultural dialectic" (p. 467). Beneath the veneer of this "dialectic," Leach offers interesting narratives of parts of Varrò, Lucretius, Caesar, Virgil in the Georgics, Catullus 63, and Petronius in the Satyricon. But where does the book critique Virgil's major ecphrasis, Aeneas' shield? (It even ends with a map.) Leach's analyses of art are conventional and uncritically Wölfflinian in their logic of an aesthetic periodization construed upon specific metaphors of opposition. The book relies heavily on the art historian Peter von Blanckenhagen and the philologist and connoisseur of things Roman Lawrence Richardson, Jr.. In the background always lurks the trendy eminence of Wolfgang Iser. In this day of oversimplified rhetorical reductions, it was inevitable that Roman art and literature, so clearly in a time of a mature classical rhetoric, would undergo a vitiating wash, and, as is the case in so many of these attempts, Leach's book suffers from a vague or blinkered understanding of the sources, both theoretical and cultural. In short the book's topic has never been sufficiendy problematized because it is ripped out of several important contexts. From this arise three major difficulties: the absence of the archaic and Hellenistic Greek from the argument; the suppression of an obvious relationship between the theater and Greek and Roman art, even though such a perspective is immediately suggested by Horace's prevalent concern with theatrical texts in the Ars Poetica; and the misrepresentation of the sustaining critical value of Lessing. Why is an interest in Roman pictura foregrounded when the topic is 164Philosophy and Literature actually Greek ecphrasisl Glaringly missing is the Greek of Homer's shield, Apollonius' cloak, Moschus' cup. For matters Roman, where is a proper appreciation of Heinze's discussion ofVirgilian ecphrasisldescriptidi How can Leach relegate the literary problematics of ut pictura poesis to the desert of a physical relationshipbetween the viewer and the objetd'art (pp. 5-6), and later to Lessing's "contrived effort to maintain his principles" (p. 11)? After all, Lessing has had more to do with the discussion of art's "narration" and its reliance upon "imagination " (Einbildungskraft) than the book gives pause to understand. Goethe's reception ofLessing's narrative aesthetics in the eighteenth century, moreover, gave the clue why Leach should have had second thoughts before bundling Republican and Augustan art and literature under the rhetorics of "space" and modern audience reception theory. For Goethe, the humanist, bad art necessitated the use of the imagination (read also "excessive narration" and "critical metaphorics"). Why? Because unbridled imagination runs the risk of trivializing art, literature, and, ultimately, language. Metaphors become inane. Rhetorical linkage becomes only what it is. Yet, rhetoric can too easily trivialize more thanjust the aesthetic object. Leach at one point analogizes about "brush strokes" that make poetry art and art poetry (p. 243). Even Lessing attacked this "painting in words" when he spoke against Caylus. In the classical period Lucían attacked Cebes for the same reason. Why? When...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 163-164
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.