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New Views of an Old Subject
Many dogmas regarding Greek theatre were established by researchers who lacked experience in the mounting of theatrical productions. In his wide-ranging and provocative study, Clifford Ashby, a theatre historian trained in the practical processes of play production as well as the methods of historical research, takes advantage of his understanding of technical elements to approach his ancient subject from a new perspective. In doing so he challenges many long-held views.
Archaeological and written sources relating to Greek classical theatre are diverse, scattered, and disconnected. Ashby's own (and memorable) fieldwork led him to more than one hundred theatre sites in Greece, southern Italy, Sicily, and Albania and as far into modern Turkey as Hellenic civilization had penetrated. From this extensive research, he draws a number of novel revisionist conclusions on the nature of classical theatre architecture and production.
The original orchestra shape, for example, was a rectangle or trapezoid rather than a circle. The altar sat along the edge of the orchestra, not at its middle. The scene house was originally designed for a performance event that did not use an up center door. The crane and ekkyklema were simple devices, while the periaktoi probably did not exist before the Renaissance. Greek theatres were not built with attention to Vitruvius' injunction against a southern orientation and were probably sun-sited on the basis of seasonal touring. The Greeks arrived at the theatre around mid-morning, not in the cold light of dawn. Only the three-actor rule emerges from this eclectic examination somewhat intact, but with the division of roles reconsidered upon the basis of the actors' performance needs. Ashby also proposes methods that can be employed in future studies of Greek theatre. Final chapters examine the three-actor production of Ion, how one should not approach theatre history, and a shining example of how one should.
Ashby's lengthy hands-on training and his knowledge of theatre history provide a broad understanding of the ways that theatre has operated through the ages as well as an ability to extrapolate from production techniques of other times and places.
Vol. 99 (2005) through current issue
Classical World publishes substantive scholarship on Greek and Roman literature, history, and society as well as the classical tradition and the history of classical scholarship. The journal also actively engages the pedagogical community by incorporating pieces on the teaching of Greek, Latin, and classical civilizations. Diverse in nature, Classical World publishes special issues, book reviews, surveys of textbooks and audio-visual materials, and bibliographies of recent research on ancient authors and topics. Classical World represents more than 100 years of peer-reviewed scholarship in Antiquity studies. Classical World is the official publication of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States (CAAS).
Catullus’ life was akin to pulp fiction. In Julius Caesar’s Rome, he engages in a stormy affair with a consul’s wife. He writes her passionate poems of love, hate, and jealousy. The consul, a vehement opponent of Caesar, dies under suspicious circumstances. The merry widow romances numerous young men. Catullus is drawn into politics and becomes a cocky critic of Caesar, writing poems that dub Julius a low-life pig and a pervert. Not surprisingly, soon after, no more is heard of Catullus.
David Mulroy brings to life the witty, poignant, and brutally direct voice of a flesh-and-blood man, a young provincial in the Eternal City, reacting to real people and events in a Rome full of violent conflict among individuals marked by genius and megalomaniacal passions. Mulroy’s lively, rhythmic translations of the poems are enhanced by an introduction and commentary that provide biographical and bibliographical information about Catullus, a history of his times, a discussion of the translations, and definitions and notes that ease the way for anyone who is not a Latin scholar.
Reading Chaucer from Medieval to Postmodern
Aristophanes, Rhetoric, and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens
The Court of Comedy: Aristophanes, Rhetoric, and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens, by Wilfred E. Major, analyzes how writers of comedy in Classical Greece satirized the emerging art of rhetoric and its role in political life. In the fifth century BCE, the development of rhetoric proceeded hand in hand with the growth of democracy both on Sicily and at Athens. In turn, comic playwrights in Athens, most notably Aristophanes, lampooned oratory as part of their commentary on the successes and failures of the young democracy. This innovative study is the first book to survey all the surviving comedy from the fifth century BCE on these important topics. The evidence reveals that Greek comedy provides a revealing commentary on the incipient craft of rhetoric before its formal conventions were stabilized. Furthermore, Aristophanes’ depiction of rhetoric and of Athenian democratic institutions indicates that he fundamentally supports the Athenian democracy and not, as is often argued, oligarchic opposition to it. These conclusions confirm recent work that reinterprets the early development of rhetoric in Classical Greece and offer fresh perspectives on the debate over the role of comedy in early Greek democracy. Throughout, Major capitalizes on recent progress in the understanding of the performance dynamics of Classical Greek theater.
Plato, Pluralism, and the Inconstancy of Truth
In The Crane's Walk, Jeremy Barris seeks to show that we can conceive and live with a pluralism of standpoints with conflicting standards for truth--with the truth of each being entirely unaffected by the truth of the others. He argues that Plato's work expresses this kind of pluralism, and that this pluralism is important in its own right, whether or not we agree about what Plato's standpoint is.The longest tradition of Plato scholarship identifies crucial faults in Plato's theory of Ideas. Barris argues that Plato deliberately displayed those faults, because he wanted to demonstrate that basic kinds of error or illogic have dimensions that are crucial to the establishing of truth. These dimensions legitimate a paradoxical coordination of logically incompatible conceptions of truth. Connecting this idea with emerging currents of Plato scholarship, he emphasizes, in addition to the dialogues' arguments, the importance of their nonargumentative features, including drama, myths, fictions, anecdotes, and humor. These unanalyzed nonargumentative features function rigorously, as a lever with which to examine the enterprise of rational argument itself, without presupposing its standards or illegitimately assimilating any position to the standards of another.Today, communities are torn apart by conflicts within and between a host of different pluralist and absolutist commitments. The possibility developed in this book-a coordination of absolute and relative truth that allows an understanding of some relativist and some absolutist positions as being fully legitimate and as capable of existing in a relation to their opposites-may contribute to perspectives for resolving these conflicts.
Ancient Greek Epitaphs
Cut These Words into My Stone offers evidence that ancient Greek life was not only celebrated in great heroic epics, but was also commemorated in hundreds of artfully composed verse epitaphs. They have been preserved in anthologies and gleaned from weathered headstones. Three-year-old Archianax, playing near a well, Was drawn down by his own silent reflection. His mother, afraid he had no breath left, Hauled him back up wringing wet. He had a little. He didn't taint the nymphs' deep home. He dozed off in her lap. He's sleeping still. These words, translated from the original Greek by poet and filmmaker Michael Wolfe, mark the passing of a child who died roughly 2,000 years ago. Ancient Greek epitaphs honor the lives, and often describe the deaths, of a rich cross section of Greek society, including people of all ages and classes— paupers, fishermen, tyrants, virgins, drunks, foot soldiers, generals—and some non-people—horses, dolphins, and insects. With brief commentary and notes, this bilingual collection of 127 short, witty, and often tender epigrams spans 1,000 years of the written word. Cut These Words into My Stone provides an engaging introduction to this corner of classical literature that continues to speak eloquently in our time.
A Translation and an Essay
In this new edition Musa views Dante's intention as one of cruel and comic commentary on the shallowness and self-pity of his protagonist, who only occasionally glimpses the true nature of love.
"... the explication de texte which accompanies [Musa's] translation is instructively novel, always admirable.... This present work offers English readers a lengthy appraisal which should figure in future scholarly discussions." —Choice
Achilles’ death—by an arrow shot through the vulnerable heel of the otherwise invincible mythic hero—was as well known in antiquity as the rest of the history of the Trojan War. However, this important event was not described directly in either of the great Homeric epics, the Iliad or the Odyssey. Noted classics scholar Jonathan S. Burgess traces the story of Achilles as represented in other ancient sources in order to offer a deeper understanding of the death and afterlife of the celebrated Greek warrior. Through close readings of additional literary sources and analysis of ancient artwork, such as vase paintings, Burgess uncovers rich accounts of Achilles’ death as well as alternative versions of his afterlife. Taking a neoanalytical approach, Burgess is able to trace the influence of these parallel cultural sources on Homer’s composition of the Iliad. With his keen, original analysis of hitherto untapped literary, iconographical, and archaeological sources, Burgess adds greatly to our understanding of this archetypal mythic hero.