The Ears of Hermes
Communication, Images, and Identity in the Classical World
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Ohio State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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This English translation of Maurizio Bettini’s Le orrechie’s di Hermes follows the publication of the original Italian edition by ten years and the appearance of Anthropology and Roman Culture by twenty. Yet even a decade after Le orrechie’s initial publication, it is difficult to overstate the significance of this work for Anglophone classicists. ...
Author’s Preface and Acknowledgments
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Is it possible for someone forced to learn Latin in four years and under threat of the rod to ever develop lasting affection for classical literature? Not normally—and Samuel Butler was no exception. Having suffered such treatment from an early age, in fact Samuel developed an enduring hatred of the classics. ...
Part 1. Mythology
One - Hermes’ Ears: Places and Symbols of Communication in Ancient Culture
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Communication has its places—and these are also, or above all, symbolic. Inhabitants of the modern world inevitably tend to associate communication with the telephone, the fax machine, the computer keyboard, the television or the radio. These are undeniably technical, powerful “places”; ...
Two - Brutus the Fool
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Aut fatuum aut regem nasci oportet—“It is well to be born either a King or a Fool,” or so the saying goes:1 in both cases, paradoxically, the advantages are the same. Traditional wisdom holds that the Fool and the King—the bottom and the top of the pyramid, the two extreme points of the spectrum ...
Part 2. Social Practices
Three - Mos, Mores and Mos Maiorum: The Invention of Morality in Roman Culture
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One of the problems that our society has most struggled with, particularly in recent decades, is that of tolerance—the willingness to recognize that the manners and morals of “others” should not be automatically labeled as wrong, irrational or (worse still) unnatural, for the simple reason that they are different than “ours.” ...
Four - Face to Face in Ancient Rome: The Vocabulary of Physical Appearance in Latin
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On several occasions, Jean-Pierre Vernant has guided us through the world of images and imitations within ancient Greek culture. At the same time, the studies of Françoise Frontisi have permitted us to understand how the Greeks unified in a single image—to prosōpon—two notions that remain distinct in our culture: the mask and the face.1 ...
Part 3. Doubles and Images
Five - Sosia and His Substitute: Thinking the Double at Rome
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The war against the Teleboans is over. The slave Sosia, on his way to Thebes from a rather improbable portus Persicus, has just disembarked at an even more incredible portus Thebanus—the geographic fantasies (or inconsistencies) of a great comic mind. He heads towards the house of his master Amphitryon, the great general, ...
Six - Ghosts of Exile: Doubles and Nostalgia in Vergil’s Parva Troia
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Aeneas, at Carthage, is telling his story. He has reached the moment when the Trojan exiles disembark at Epirus, a long journey and several failures now behind them. Already, Aeneas has tried to found a city on the coast of Thrace that would bear his name—Aeneades—but the appalling prodigy of Polydorus’ blood compelled them to flee in all possible haste.1 ...
Seven - Death and Its Double: Imagines, Ridiculum and Honos in the Roman Aristocratic Funeral
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We have already had the opportunity to observe that in ancient Rome the aristocratic funeral offered the opportunity for an extraordinary display of “doubles.” The veterum instituta (“institutions of the ancients”), as they were called by Tacitus, required that an effigies of the dead should rest on the coffin, in plain sight.1 ...
Eight - Argumentum
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The universe of the novel, and of the Satyricon in particular, is governed by coincidence. Encolpius and Giton board a ship and—what a coincidence!— the ship’s captain is none other than their enemy, Lichas. Of course, by the time they realize this, it is already too late. But what to do? ...
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Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2011