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Seven against Thebes
A classical epic of fratricide and war, the Thebaid retells the legendary conflict between the sons of Oedipus—Polynices and Eteocles—for control of the city of Thebes. The Latin poet Statius reworks a familiar story from Greek myth, dramatized long before by Aeschylus in his tragedy Seven against Thebes. Statius chose his subject well: the Rome of his day, ruled by the emperor Domitian, was not too distant from the civil wars that had threatened the survival of the empire. Published in 92 A.D., the Thebaid was an immediate success, and its fame grew in succeeding centuries. It reached its peak of popularity in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, influencing Dante, Chaucer, and perhaps Shakespeare. In recent times, however, it has received perhaps less attention than it deserves, in large part because there has been no accessible, dynamic translation of the work into English. Charles Stanley Ross offers a compelling version of the Thebaid rendered into forceful, modern English. Casting Statius's Latin hexameter into a lively iambic pentameter more natural to the modern ear, Ross frees the work from the archaic formality that has marred previous translations. His translation reinvigorates the Thebaid as a whole: its meditative first half and its violent second half; its intimate portrayal of defeat and retribution, and the need to seek justice at any cost. In a wide-ranging introduction, Ross provides an overview of the poem: its composition, reception and legacy; its major themes and literary influences; and its place in Statius' life. And in a helpful series of notes, he offers background information on the major characters and incidents.
Suffering and Sympathy in Ancient Athens
Humane ideals were central to the image Athenians had of themselves and their city during the classical period. Tragic plays, which formed a part of civic education, often promoted pity and compassion. But it is less clear to what extent Athenians embraced such ideals in daily life. How were they expected to respond, emotionally and pragmatically, to the suffering of other people? Under what circumstances? At what risk to themselves? In this book, Rachel Hall Sternberg draws on evidence from Greek oratory and historiography of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE to study the moral universe of the ancient Athenians: how citizens may have treated one another in times of adversity, when and how they were expected to help. She develops case studies in five spheres of everyday life: home nursing, the ransom of captives, intervention in street crimes, the long-distance transport of sick and wounded soldiers, and slave torture. Her close reading of selected narratives suggests that Athenians embraced high standards for helping behavior—at least toward relatives, friends, and some fellow citizens. Meanwhile, a subtle discourse of moral obligation strengthened the bonds that held Athenian society together, encouraging individuals to bring their personal behavior into line with the ideals of the city-state.
Vol. 130 (2000) through current issue
Transactions of the APA (TAPA) is the official research publication of the American Philological Association. TAPA reflects the wide range and high quality of research currently undertaken by classicists. Highlights of every issue include: The Presidential Address from the previous year's conference and Paragraphoi a reflection on the material and response to issues raised in the issue.
Composed in the third century A.D., the Trojan Epic is the earliest surviving literary evidence for many of the traditions of the Trojan War passed down from ancient Greece. Also known as the Posthomerica, or "sequel to Homer," the Trojan Epic chronicles the course of the war after the burial of Troy's greatest hero, Hektor. Quintus, believed to have been an educated Greek living in Roman Asia Minor, included some of the war's most legendary events: the death of Achilles, the Trojan Horse, and the destruction of Troy. But because Quintus deliberately imitated Homer's language and style, his work has been dismissed by many scholars as pastiche. A vivid and entertaining story in its own right, the Trojan Epic is also particularly significant for what it reveals about its sources—the much older, now lost Greek epics about the Trojan War known collectively as the Epic Cycle. Written in the Homeric era, these poems recounted events not included in the Iliad or the Odyssey. As Alan James makes clear in this vibrant and faithful new translation, Quintus's work deserves attention for its literary-historical importance and its narrative power. James's line-by-line verse translation in English reveals the original as an exciting and eloquent tale of gods and heroes, bravery and cunning, hubris and brutality. James includes a substantial introduction which places the work in its literary and historical context, a detailed and annotated book-by-book summary of the epic, a commentary dealing mainly with sources, and an explanatory index of proper names. Brilliantly revitalized by James, the Trojan Epic will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in Greek mythology and the legend of Troy.
Ralph Ellison, Classicism, and African American Literature
In this groundbreaking work, Patrice D. Rankine asserts that the classics need not be a mark of Eurocentrism, as they have long been considered. Instead, the classical tradition can be part of a self-conscious, prideful approach to African American culture, esthetics, and identity. Ulysses in Black demonstrates that, similar to their white counterparts, African American authors have been students of classical languages, literature, and mythologies by such writers as Homer, Euripides, and Seneca.
Ulysses in Black closely analyzes classical themes (the nature of love and its relationship to the social, Dionysus in myth as a parallel to the black protagonist in the American scene, misplaced Ulyssean manhood) as seen in the works of such African American writers as Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Countee Cullen. Rankine finds that the merging of a black esthetic with the classics—contrary to expectations throughout American culture—has often been a radical addressing of concerns including violence against blacks, racism, and oppression. Ultimately, this unique study of black classicism becomes an exploration of America’s broader cultural integrity, one that is inclusive and historic.
Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine
Alternate Worlds in Homer's Odyssey
The Unknown Odysseus is a study of how Homer creates two versions of his hero, one who is the triumphant protagonist of the revenge plot and another, more subversive, anonymous figure whose various personae exemplify an entirely different set of assumptions about the world through which each hero moves and about the shape and meaning of human life. Separating the two perspectives allows us to see more clearly how the poem's dual focus can begin to explain some of the notorious difficulties readers have encountered in thinking about the Odyssey. In The Unknown Odysseus, Thomas Van Nortwick offers the most complete exploration to date of the implications of Odysseus' divided nature, showing how it allows Homer to explore the riddles of human identity in a profound way that is not usually recognized by studies focusing on only one "real" hero in the narrative. This new perspective on the epic enriches the world of the poem in a way that will interest both general readers and classical scholars. ". . .an elegant and lucid critical study that is also a good introduction to the poem." ---David Quint, London Review of Books "Thomas Van Nortwick's eloquently written book will give the neophyte a clear interpretive path through the epic while reminding experienced readers why they should still care about the Odyssey's unresolved interpretive cruces. The Unknown Odysseus is not merely accessible, but a true pleasure to read." ---Lillian Doherty, University of Maryland "Contributing to an important new perspective on understanding the epic, Thomas Van Nortwick wishes to resist the dominant, even imperial narrative that tries so hard to trick, beguile, and even bully its listeners into accepting the inevitability of Odysseus' heroism." ---Victoria Pedrick, Georgetown University Thomas Van Nortwick is Nathan A. Greenberg Professor of Classics at Oberlin College and author of Somewhere I Have Never Travelled: The Second Self and the Hero's Journey in Ancient Epic (1992) and Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life (1998). Jacket art: Head of Odysseus from a sculptural group representing Odysseus killing Polyphemus in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Sperlonga, Italy. Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
Framed by Cues for Reading Aloud and Clues for Threading Texts and Themes
This highly original work builds on two neglected facts about Virgil's Book of Bucolics: its popularity on the bawdy Roman stage and its impact as sequence poetry on readers and writers from the Classical world through the present day. The Bucolics profoundly influenced a wide range of canonical literary figures, from the contemporaneous Horace, Propertius, and Ovid through such successors as Calpurnius, Sannazaro, Marot, Spenser, Milton, Wordsworth, Robert Frost, and W. H. Auden. As performed, the work scored early success. John Van Sickle's artfully rendered translation, its stage cues, and the explanatory notes treat for the first time the book's ten short pieces as a thematic web. He pays close heed to themes that return, vary throughout the work, and develop as leitmotifs, inviting readers to trace the threads and ultimately to experience the last eclogue as a grand finale. Introductory notes identify cues for casting, dramatic gesture, and voice, pointing to topics that stirred the Roman crowd and satisfied powerful patrons. Back notes offer clues to the ambitious literary program implicit in the voices, plots, and themes. Taken as a whole, this volume shows how the Bucolics inaugurated Virgil's lifelong campaign to colonize for Rome the prestigious Greek genres of epic and tragedy—winning contemporary acclaim and laying the groundwork for his poetic legend. Reframing pastoral tradition in Europe and America, Van Sickle's rendering of the Book of Bucolics is ideal for students of literature and their teachers, for scholars of classical literature and the pastoral genre, and for poetological and cognitive theorists.