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The Cast of Character

Style in Greek Literature

By Nancy Worman

Publication Year: 2002

Well before Aristotle’s Rhetoric elucidated the elements of verbal style that give writing its persuasive power, Greek poets and prose authors understood the importance of style in creating compelling characters to engage an audience. And because their works were composed in predominantly oral settings, their sense of style included not only the characters’ manner of speaking, but also their appearance and deportment. From Homeric epic to classical tragedy and oratory, verbal and visual cues work hand-in-hand to create distinctive styles for literary characters. In this book, Nancy Worman investigates the development and evolution of ideas about style in archaic and classical literature through a study of representations of Odysseus and Helen. She demonstrates that, as liars and imitators, pleasing storytellers, and adept users of costume, these two figures are especially skillful manipulators of style. In tracing the way literary representations of them changed through time—from Homer’s positive portrayal of their subtle self-presentations to the sharply polarized portrayals of these same subtleties in classical tragedy and oratory—Worman also uncovers a nascent awareness among the Greek writers that style may be used not only to persuade but also to distract and deceive.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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CONTENTS

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pp. ix-

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. xi-xii

This book is a distant descendant of a dissertation written in the Department of Classics at Princeton University, under the direction of Froma Zeitlin. Froma has my deepest gratitude for her guidance and encouragement. I have benefited immeasurably fromher intellectual breadth, her keen eye for cultural nuance, and her profound knowledge of ancient literature. Andrew...

LIST OF JOURNAL AND TEXTUAL ABBREVIATIONS

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pp. xiii-xiv

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-16

In Patricia Highsmith’s claustrophobic and morally ambiguous novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, the eponymous antihero faces a situation in which he has to appear before the same policemen as two different people. In his second interview with them he must play himself rather than the dashing and entitled young man whom he had been impersonating. His solution to this...

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CHAPTER 1. KOSMOS AND THE TYPICAL CASTS OF CHARACTER

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pp. 17-40

In Criticism in Antiquity, D. A. Russell argues that lexis has no metaphorical extension equivalent to the English word ‘‘style.’’ Some idea of style as it is embodied by a particular model, he further notes, did exist; later writers indicate the distinctive imprint of an orator’s style with the term charaktêr.1 This included the character type that the speaker projects, although its usage...

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CHAPTER 2. ORAL PERFORMANCE, SPEECH TYPES, AND TYPICAL STYLES IN HOMER

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pp. 41-81

Although this century has witnessed many important developments in the study of Homeric poetry as an oral medium, scholars still sometimes show a tendency to blur the distinctions between oral and written composition.1 Even those most influenced by oral theory often treat spoken exchanges between Homeric characters as if the situations in which they take place...

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CHAPTER 3. VISIBLE TYPES AND VISUALIZING STYLES IN ARCHAIC POETRY

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pp. 82-107

Archaic poets conjoin taste or touch with visual effect to characterize elements of verbal style, which strike the ear as they strike the eye—a conceptual synesthesia that gives physical weight to the spoken word and persuasive force to concrete detail. This sensual characterization of verbal impact has its more concrete extension in the visible features of a speaker’s style.

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CHAPTER 4. VERBAL MASQUERADE AND VISUAL IMPACT IN TRAGEDY

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pp. 108-148

The development of the dramatic genres in Athens created an arena in which oral performers impersonated visible types in a fuller and more extended fashion than in rhapsodic performances on the one hand, or in sophistic displays on the other. A performer could now appear on stage as Odysseus, in his costume and mask, and engage in his actions, rather than merely shifting...

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CHAPTER 5. MANIPULATING THE SENSES IN RHETORICAL SET PIECES

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pp. 149-192

The classical treatments of Helen and Odysseus refract the Athenian political culture of the late fifth century, when a remarkable burst of artistic productivity coincided with a period of political upheaval and external threat from the rival city-state Sparta and its allies. From early in the Peloponnesian war, Athenians had lived more or less continuously in a state of...

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CONCLUSION

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pp. 193-196

Dionysius of Halicarnassus begins his treatise On Literary Composition with an elaborately worded dedication to Rufus Metilius, in which he compares his literary offering to the embroidered gown thatHelen gives the departing Telemachus in book 15 of the Odyssey. With its use of paronomasia (assonance) and the figura etymologica, the opening bears some resemblance to the ornate...

NOTES

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pp. 197-237

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 239-251

GENERAL INDEX

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pp. 252-263

INDEX LOCORUM

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pp. 264-274


E-ISBN-13: 9780292796300
E-ISBN-10: 0292796307
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292791558
Print-ISBN-10: 0292791550

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2002

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Greek literature -- History and criticism.
  • Greek language -- Style.
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