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Literature > Ancient and Classical
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.
This is the ninth volume in the Oratory of Classical Greece. This series presents all of the surviving speeches from the late fifth and fourth centuries BC in new translations prepared by classical scholars who are at the forefront of the discipline. These translations are especially designed for the needs and interests of today’s undergraduates, Greekless scholars in other disciplines, and the general public. Classical oratory is an invaluable resource for the study of ancient Greek life and culture. The speeches offer evidence on Greek moral views, social and economic conditions, political and social ideology, law and legal procedure, and other aspects of Athenian culture that have recently been attracting particular interest: women and family life, slavery, and religion, to name just a few. Demosthenes is regarded as the greatest orator of classical antiquity. The two speeches translated here grew out of his longtime rivalry with the orator Aeschines. In Speech 19 (On the Dishonest Embassy) delivered in 343 BC, Demosthenes attacks Aeschines for corruption centered around an ultimately disastrous embassy to Philip of Macedon that both men took part in. This speech made Demosthenes the leading politician in Athens for a time. Speech 18 (On the Crown or De Corona), delivered in 330 BC, is Demosthenes’ most famous and influential oration. It resulted not only in Demosthenes receiving one of Athens’ highest political honors but also in the defeat and disgrace of Aeschines, who retired from public life and left Athens forever.
This is the twelfth volume in the Oratory of Classical Greece. This series presents all of the surviving speeches from the late fifth and fourth centuries BC in new translations prepared by classical scholars who are at the forefront of the discipline. These translations are especially designed for the needs and interests of today's undergraduates, Greekless scholars in other disciplines, and the general public. Classical oratory is an invaluable resource for the study of ancient Greek life and culture. The speeches offer evidence on Greek moral views, social and economic conditions, political and social ideology, law and legal procedure, and other aspects of Athenian culture that have recently been attracting particular interest: women and family life, slavery, and religion, to name just a few. Demosthenes is regarded as the greatest orator of classical antiquity. This volume contains three important speeches from the earliest years of his political career: Against Leptines, a prosecution brought against a law repealing all exemptions from liturgies; Against Meidias, a prosecution for aggravated insult (hybris) brought against an influential politician; and Against Androtion, an indictment of a decree of honors for the Council of Athens. Edward M. Harris provides contemporary English translations of these speeches, two of which (Leptines and Androtion) have not been translated into English in over sixty years, along with introductions and extensive notes that take account of recent developments in Classical scholarship.