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Poetry and Philosophy in DE RERUM NATURA
In a fresh interpretation of Lucretius's On the Nature of Things, Charles Segal reveals this great poetical account of Epicurean philosophy as an important and profound document for the history of Western attitudes toward death. He shows that this poem, aimed at promoting spiritual tranquillity, confronts two anxieties about death not addressed in Epicurus's abstract treatment--the fear of the process of dying and the fear of nothingness. Lucretius, Segal argues, deals more specifically with the body in dying because he draws on the Roman concern with corporeality as well as on the rich traditions of epic and tragic poetry on mortality.
Segal explains how Lucretius's sensitivity to the vulnerability of the body's boundaries connects the deaths of individuals with the deaths of worlds, thereby placing human death into the poem's larger context of creative and destructive energies in the universe. The controversial ending of the poem, which describes the plague at Athens, is thus the natural culmination of a theme developed over the course of the work.
Originally published in 1990.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
The Literature of Cult and Conspiracy
Fascination with the arcane is a driving force in this comprehensive survey of conspiracy fiction. Theodore Ziolkowski traces the evolution of cults, orders, lodges, secret societies, and conspiracies through various literary manifestations—drama, romance, epic, novel, opera—down to the thrillers of the twenty-first century. Lure of the Arcane considers Euripides’s Bacchae, Andreae’s Chymical Wedding, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, among other seminal works. Mimicking the genre’s quest-driven narrative arc, the reader searches for the significance of conspiracy fiction and is rewarded with the author’s cogent reflections in the final chapter. After much investigation, Ziolkowski reinforces Umberto Eco’s notion that the most powerful secret, the magnetic center of conspiracy fiction, is in fact “a secret without content.”
Epistolary Narrative and Desire in Ovid's Heroides
In the Heroides, the Roman poet Ovid wittily plucks fifteen abandoned heroines from ancient myth and literature and creates the fiction that each woman writes a letter to the hero who left her behind. But in giving voice to these heroines, is Ovid writing like a woman, or writing "Woman" like a man?
Using feminist and psychoanalytic approaches to examine the "female voice" in the Heroides, Sara H. Lindheim closely reads these fictive letters in which the women seemingly tell their own stories. She points out that in Ovid’s verse epistles all the women represent themselves in a strikingly similar and disjointed fashion. Lindheim turns to Lacanian theory of desire to explain these curious and hauntingly repetitive representations of the heroines in the "female voice." Lindheim’s approach illuminates what these poems reveal about both masculine and feminine constructions of the feminine
Desire, Homosociality, and Authority in Late-Roman Manhood
In an analysis that promises to be controversial, Man to Man: Desire, Homosociality, and Authority in Late-Roman Manhood surveys the presence of same-sex desire between men in the later Roman empire. Most accounts of recent years have either noted that sexual desire between men was forbidden or they have ignored it. This book argues that desire between men was known and that it was a way to express friendship, patronage, solidarity, and other important relationships among elite males in late antiquity. The evocation of this desire and its possible attendant corporeal satisfactions made it a compelling metaphor for friendship. A man’s grandeur could also be portrayed metaphorically as sexual attractiveness, and the substantial status differences often seen in late antiquity could be ameliorated by a superior using amatory language to address an inferior. At the same time, however, there was a marked ambivalence about same-sex desire and sexual behavior between men, and indeed same-sex sexual behavior was criminalized as it had never been before. While rejection and condemnation may seem to indicate a decisive distancing between authority and this desire and behavior, authority gained power from maintaining a relation to them. Demonstrating knowledge of the actual mechanics of sex between men suggested to a witness that there was nothing unknown to the authority making the demonstration: authority that knew of scandalous masculine sexual pleasure could project its power pretty much anywhere. This startling dissonance between positive uses of same-sex desire between men and its criminalization in one and the same moment—a dissonance which recent discussions have been unable to address—requires further investigation, and this book supplies it.
Essays in Search of Ancient and Medieval Authors
Ancient and medieval literary texts often call attention to their existence as physical objects. Shane Butler helps us to understand why. Arguing that writing has always been as much a material struggle as an intellectual one, The Matter of the Page offers timely lessons for the digital age about how creativity works and why literature moves us.
Butler begins with some considerations about the materiality of the literary text, both as a process (the draft) and a product (the book), and he traces the curious history of “the page” from scroll to manuscript codex to printed book and beyond. He then offers a series of unforgettable portraits of authors at work: Thucydides struggling to describe his own diseased body; Vergil ready to burn an epic poem he could not finish; Lucretius wrestling with words even as he fights the madness that will drive him to suicide; Cicero mesmerized by the thought of erasing his entire career; Seneca plumbing the depths of the soul in the wax of his tablets; and Dhuoda, who sees the book she writes as a door, a tunnel, a womb. Butler reveals how the work of writing transformed each of these authors into his or her own first reader, and he explains what this metamorphosis teaches us about how we too should read.
All Greek and Latin quotations are translated into English and technical matters are carefully explained for general readers, with scholarly details in the notes.
Le mythe de l’infanticide Médée a toujours connu une fortune littéraire et la littérature féminine contemporaine ne fait pas exception. L’analyse comparée de huit textes de femmes de divers horizons tente de cerner les enjeux de cette figure irréductible pour une pensée féministe actuelle sur la maternité, le sujet et l’écriture mythique.
En s’interrogeant sur la pertinence particulière de la tragédie d’Euripide aux reprises médéennes, explicites ou sous-entendues, des femmes, cette étude comparée se penche sur des textes du théâtre de Marie Cardinal, de Deborah Porter, de Franca Rame et de Cherríe Moraga, et des romans de Monique Bosco, de Christa Wolf, de Bessora et de Marie-Célie Agnant. À travers ses incarnations transculturelles, le mythe de Médée éclaire les affres de l’exil et de l’exclusion, ainsi que certaines visions du maternel qui préféreraient peut-être rester dans l’ombre de nos présuppositions et de nos règles sociales. Bien qu’il n’y ait pas plus monstrueux ou fou que l’acte infanticide, Médée, elle, n’est pas monstre, pas folle, mais lucide, humaine à part entière, comme la voulait Euripide, alors qu’elle s’en prend à ses enfants, à la culture défectueuse, à l’histoire des hommes. La réécriture au féminin de Médée force aussi une conception du sujet qui ne revêt pas facilement sa cohérence. Mais la poétique même de cette Médée retranscrite au féminin fait preuve de sa flexibilité, son indétermination, son pouvoir de transcender la simple répétition de son mythe, vu ici autrement et différemment.
Responding to the Work of Penn R. Szittya
This collection responds to the critical legacy of Penn R. Szittya, the recently retired former chair of Georgetown University's English Department. Inspired by Georgetown's Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and its statement that poetry "traverses the fields of aesthetic, social, political, and religious thought," this work investigates how medieval poetic language reflects and also shapes social, political, and religious worlds. At a moment in contemporary culture when poetry finds its value increasingly challenged, Medieval Poetics and Social Practice looks to the late Middle Ages to assert the indispensability of poetry and poetics in the formation of social structures, actions, and utterances. The contributors offer new readings of canonical late-medieval English poetic texts, such as Langland's Piers Plowman and Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls, and, of equal importance, explore texts that have hitherto not held a central place in criticism but make important contributions to the literary culture of the period. Introduced by Seeta Chaganti, the collection includes essays by Richard K. Emmerson, J. Patrick Hornbeck, John C. Hirsh, Moira Fitzgibbons, John T. Sebastian, Nicholas R. Havely, Kara Doyle, Anne Middleton, Jo Ann Moran Cruz, and Mark McMorris.
"The Metamorphoses of Ovid offers to the modern world such a key to the literary and religious culture of the ancients that it becomes an important event when at last a good poet comes up with a translation into English verse." —John Crowe Ransom
"... a charming and expert English version, which is right in tone for the Metamorphoses." —Francis Fergusson
"This new Ovid, fresh and faithful, is right for our time and should help to restore a great reputation." —Mark Van Doren
The first and still the best modern verse translation of the Metamorphoses, Humphries’ version of Ovid’s masterpiece captures its wit, merriment, and sophistication.
Everyone will enjoy this first modern translation by an American poet of Ovid’s great work, the major treasury of classical mythology, which has perennially stimulated the minds of men. In this lively rendering there are no stock props of the pastoral and no literary landscaping, but real food on the table and sometimes real blood on the ground.
Not only is Ovid’s Metamorphoses a collection of all the myths of the time of the Roman poet as he knew them, but the book presents at the same time a series of love poems—about the loves of men, women, and the gods. There are also poems of hate, to give the proper shading to the narrative. And pervading all is the writer’s love for this earth, its people, its phenomena.
Using ten-beat, unrhymed lines in his translation, Rolfe Humphries shows a definite kinship for Ovid’s swift and colloquial language and Humphries’ whole poetic manner is in tune with the wit and sophistication of the Roman poet.
"... one of the richest, clearest, and acutest surveys to date of the
course of theorizing about myth from the eighteenth century on. I know of no more
useful volume on the topic. Despite the postmodern connotations of the title, Von
Hendy is writing not to expose the concept of myth but simply to show the array of
ways in which it has been used from time to time and from place to place. A superb
work." -- Robert A. Segal,
University of Lancaster,
author of Theorizing about Myth
Andrew Von Hendy offers an integrated critical account of the career of myth in modernity. He takes as its starting point some crucial moments in the 18th-century reinvention of the concept and then follows the major branches of theorizing as they appear in the work of theologians, philosophers, literary artists, political thinkers, folklorists, anthropologists, psychologists, and others.
Von Hendy pursues each of these four
fundamental strains of theory through the 20th century: the rise of neo-romantic
theories in depth psychology, modernist literature, and later in religious
phenomenology, philosophy, and literary criticism; the establishment of folkloristic
theory in ethnological fieldwork and in classical studies; the growth of ideological
theories from Sorel to Barthes and Derrida; and the recent ascent of constitutive
theories of myth as necessary fiction. Finally, Von Hendy examines the work of five
theorists who attempt to come to terms with the lessons of the ideological critique,
yet regard myth as a constructive phenomenon.
Taking a fresh look at the poetry and visual art of the Hellenistic age, from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. to the Romans’ defeat of Cleopatra in 30 B.C., Graham Zanker makes enlightening discoveries about the assumptions and conventions of Hellenistic poets and artists and their audiences.
Zanker’s exciting new interpretations closely compare poetry and art for the light each sheds on the other. He finds, for example, an exuberant expansion of subject matter in the Hellenistic periods in both literature and art, as styles and iconographic traditions reserved for grander concepts in earlier eras were applied to themes, motifs, and subjects that were emphatically less grand.