This is a book about how the poets of Classical Rome found artistic inspiration in the words and themes of their poetic predecessors. It combines traditional Classical approaches to poetic allusion and imitation with modern literary-theoretical ways of thinking about how texts are used and reused, valued and revalued, in particular reading communities. Like other volumes in the series it is among the most broadly conceived short books on Roman literature to be published in recent years.
This book examines the love elegies of the Roman poets Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid from the point of view of the way the meanings attributed to the poems arise out of the interests and preoccupations of the cultural situation in which they are read. It combines detailed discussions of individual poems with discussion and criticism of a variety of sophisticated modern theoretical approaches. It thus aims to advance the argument not only in the field of elegy, but also in issues such as gender, ideology and the theory of reading.
Compelling evidence that the events of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey took place in the Baltic and not the Mediterranean- Reveals how a climate change forced the migration of a people and their myth to ancient Greece - Identifies the true geographic sites of Troy and Ithaca in the Baltic Sea and Calypso's Isle in the North Atlantic Ocean For years scholars have debated the incongruities in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, given that his descriptions are at odds with the geography of the areas he purportedly describes. Inspired by Plutarch's remark that Calypso's Isle was only five days sailing from Britain, Felice Vinci convincingly argues that Homer's epic tales originated not in the Mediterranean, but in the northern Baltic Sea. Using meticulous geographical analysis, Vinci shows that many Homeric places, such as Troy and Ithaca, can still be identified in the geographic landscape of the Baltic. He explains how the dense, foggy weather described by Ulysses befits northern not Mediterranean climes, and how battles lasting through the night would easily have been possible in the long days of the Baltic summer. Vinci's meteorological analysis reveals how a decline of the "climatic optimum" caused the blond seafarers to migrate south to warmer climates, where they rebuilt their original world in the Mediterranean. Through many generations the memory of the heroic age and the feats performed by their ancestors in their lost homeland was preserved and handed down to the following ages, only later to be codified by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Felice Vinci offers a key to open many doors that allow us to consider the age-old question of the Indo-European diaspora and the origin of the Greek civilization from a new perspective.
This book examines the ways that Classical and Renaissance epic poems often work against their expressed moral and political values. It combines a formal and tropological analysis that stresses difference and disjunction with a political analysis of the epic's figurative economy. It offers an interpretation of three epic poems - Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, and Spencer's Faerie Queene - that focuses on the way these texts make apparent the aesthetic, moral, and political difference that constitutes them, and sketches, in conclusion, two alternative resolutions of such division in Milton's Paradise Lost and Cervantes' Don Quixote, an 'epic' in prose. The book outlines a theory of how and why epic narrative may be said to subvert certain of its constitutive claims while articulating a cultural argument of which it becomes the contradictory paradigm. The author focuses on the aesthetic and ideological work accomplished by poetic figure in these narratives, and understands ideology as a figurative, substitutive system that resembles and uses the system of tropes. She defines the ideological function of tropes in narrative and the often contradictory way in which narratives acknowledge and seek to efface the transformative functions of ideology. Beginning with what it describes as a dual tendency within the epic simile (toward metaphor in the transformations of ideology; toward metonymy as it maintains a structure of difference), the book defines the politics of the simile in epic narrative and identifies metalepsis as the defining trope of ideology. It demonstrates the political and poetic costs of the structural reliance of allegorical narrative on catachresis and shows how the narrator's use of prosopopoeia to assert political authority reshapes the figurative economy of the epic. The book is particularly innovative in being the first to apply to the epic the set of questions posed by the linking of the theory of rhetoric and the theory of ideology. It argues that historical pressures on a text are often best seen as a dialectic in which ideology shapes poetic process while poetry counters, resists, figures, or generates the tropes of ideology itself.
G.W. Bowersock, The New York Review of Books
"There is scarcely anything on which he does not offer an original aper u, sometimes illuminating, sometimes simply provocative, but always worth reading... Jenkyns's view of ancient literature is Olympian." The writings of the Greeks and Romans form the bedrock of Western culture. Inventing the molds for histories, tragedies, and philosophies, while pioneering radical new forms of epic and poetry, the Greeks and Romans created the literary world we still inhabit today. Writing with verve and insight, distinguished classicist Richard Jenkyns explores a thousand years of classical civilization, carrying readers from the depths of the Greek dark ages through the glittering heights of Rome's empire. Jenkyns begins with Homer and the birth of epic poetry before exploring the hypnotic poetry of Pindar, Sappho, and others from the Greek dark ages. Later, in Athens's classical age, Jenkyns shows the radical nature of Sophocles's choice to portray Ajax as a psychologically wounded warrior, how Aeschylus developed tragedy, and how Herodotus, in "inventing history," brought to narrative an epic and tragic quality. We meet the strikingly modern figure of Virgil, struggling to mirror epic art in an age of empire, and experience the love poems of Catullus, who imbued verse with obsessive passion as never before. Even St. Paul and other early Christian writers are artfully grounded here in their classical literary context. A dynamic and comprehensive introduction to Greek and Roman literature, Jenkyns's Classical Literature is essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the classics--and the extraordinary origins of Western culture. Library Journal, STARRED review
" R]ich, witty, perceptive, and brief... One of the best introductions available to the general reader." Christopher B. Krebs (author of A Most Dangerous Book), The Wall Street Journal
" A]ccessible and enjoyable... few scholars are better positioned to embark on such a journey than Mr. Jenkyns.
Western civilization is in many ways an outgrowth of the Roman Empire. The Classical Roman Reader, which contains a collection of some of the finest and most important writing of the Roman period, brings the modern reader into direct contact with the literature, political thought, science, art and architecture, and psychology of classical Rome.Here are the wonders of the Roman world presented in a modern, accessible manner. Each selection is preceded by an introduction that identifies the author and provides information that allows modern readers to consider these texts in a new light. What we discover might be surprising. For instance, in Cicero's orations and Marcus Aurelius' meditations, we hear echoes of today's political forums and popular-psychology talk-show hosts. Virgil's ironic dramatization of the founding myth in the Aeneid prepared the way for America's deeply embedded ambivalence toward the presidency. The Roman preference for practicality over philosophy, leading to a network of superhighways that joined Europe, Asia, Asia Minor, and Africa, literally paved the way for the "global village" of the contemporary world. From Plautus' wildly comic plays to Cato's instructions on farming, and from Catullus' erotic poems to Petronius' descriptions of the decadent splendor of the declining empire, The Classical Roman Reader provides access to the literary, artistic, social, religious, political, scientific, and philosophical texts that shaped Roman thinking and helped form the backbone of Western culture.