Arethusa

Published by Johns Hopkins University Press
Online ISSN: 1080-6504
Publications
Words and Assumptions Inhibition Segregation and Adultery Commercial Sex This chapter contains sections titled Resistance Resistance Class and Status Philosophers and Others
 
In a dispute between the historian Timagenes and the emperor, Augustus, the latter excluded the former from his house and the former responded by barring the emperor from his written work. This article maps the dynamic of this exchange onto Roman elegy. It suggests that the interdictiones domo et ingenio serve as useful condensed metaphors for looking at elegy from the point of view of the dramatic action in the discourse between its two principal characters, the domina and the poet-narrator. This parallel is illustrated through a reading of Propertius 2.11.
 
Two papers explore understudied aspects of the Metamorphoses' Marsyas narrative. The first links the passage's interest in imitation to the play between generic codes and ultimately to the position of its author as an Augustan poet, who, like the satyr, always risked appearing as the mere borrower of the language and images of his superiors. The second analyzes intratextual connections with other passages in the poem, where Ovid could create his own poetic space; the paper then offers new frameworks for interpreting the satyr's fate.
 
Scholars have read Meleager AP 12.53, in which ships carry news to his beloved Phanion, as a reflection of a real event in the poet’s life, but I interpret this epigram as a self-reflexive celebration of Meleager’s poetic skill. Adapting erotic and maritime motifs from Sappho, Pindar, Nossis, and Posidippus, as well as the propemptikon format, this poem anticipates not its poet’s arrival, but delivery of the poem itself: when Meleager announces that he “voyages on foot” (ποσσ δ πεζοπόρον), he puns on the idea of metrical feet. The propemptikon motif and metrical pun are later adopted by Roman poets
 
Many scholars have recognized that Quintilian in the Institutio Oratoria employs the same techniques that he teaches. Few, however, have pursued the implications of this fact for our interpretation of the work: what can we learn from a text that is both didactic and persuasive? This paper argues that in Inst. 12.8 Quintilian addresses this problem, calls attention to its relevance to his treatise, and invites his readers to resist the persuasive dimension of his presentation. A fresh, resistant, examination of the concept of the vir bonus dicendi peritus illustrates how the traditional way of reading the Institutio Oratoria underestimates its sophistication.
 
This essay takes up the theme of eclecticism in Roman domestic decoration by exploring the wide range of representations of gods in Roman houses. Specifically, it examines painted and sculpted images of deities in the House of the Gilded Cupids at Pompeii to shift attention from issues of style and the attendant debates on copies, both of which have largely dominated discussions of painted and sculpted displays in domus. This paper, instead, situates the seemingly haphazard collection of gods within the contexts of Roman religion and collecting practices more generally and aims to demonstrate that despite their presumed “kitschy” or idiosyncratic quality, these displays were perhaps a bit more canonical than we have allowed them to be.
 
The end of Odyssey 21 alludes either to other archaic-era renditions of The Homecoming Husband or to other archaic-era stories about Odysseus’s return (or to both). As Odysseus reveals himself by stringing his bow and performing a feat of archery, the poet cites another way in which the hero of these stories can reveal himself: by singing a song.
 
In "Tragedy as 'An Augury of a Happy Life'" (Arethusa 41), I hypothesized that Aristotle's preference for sad over happy endings in tragedy might tell us more about the performance practices of fourth-century actors than about the tenor of fifth-century tragedy. In Arethusa 44, Johanna Hanink, while accepting the main thrust of the argument, disputed four of its "single points." This article addresses each of her concerns and offers additional evidence for the likelihood that Aristotle was misled about the nature of fifth-century tragedy by the universalizing emotionality of the professional actors of his time.
 
Pliny's panegyric to Trajan (100 C.E.) expresses the hope that his words will encourage good emperors and show bad emperors what they should do. The kingship orations of Dio Chyrostom had a similar motivation. Three centuries later, the poet Claudian would summarise key points of Pliny's oration and Dio's discourses and present them in the form of a lesson to the young emperor Honorius from his father Theodosius. Unlike Pliny and Dio, however, Claudian's intention was not to instruct the emperor in rulership but, paradoxically, to encourage him to remain a pupil forever, leaving power in the hands of his regent Stilicho.
 
Plagued by stories about his private debauchery and heavy handedness as praetorian prefect, Titus, the son of Vespasian, was, as Suetonius (Tit. 7.1) reports, feared as another Nero. As a result, his ascent to the throne was supposedly met with hostility (Cass. Dio 65.12.1, Suet. Tit. 6.2, Vesp. 25.1), while his relationship with the Jewish queen Berenice came under severe scrutiny—as it had also while Vespasian was alive. Such was Titus’s alleged infatuation with this Hellenistic queen, who had caused scandal in her native Judaea, that he allegedly considered marrying her, especially since after 75 they had openly cohabited at Rome (Tac. Hist. 2.2.1). Their relationship apparently shocked the Roman public and invited comparisons with the disastrous passion of Marcus Antonius for Cleopatra VII, the Hellenistic Egyptian queen whom Antonius had preferred over Octavia, Augustus’s sister (Plut. Ant. 53.1–54.6, 57.2–3). This was also the queen who had, in the not-so-distant past, threatened to overturn Rome’s Mediterranean hegemony. Furthermore, Cleopatra’s oriental charm, which had ensnared Antonius, conflicted with the ancestral values that the legendary Aeneas had, according to the poet Vergil (Aen. 4.68), upheld by abandoning infelix Dido (“unhappy Dido”), thereby enabling him to establish a new fatherland under divine guidance. Presumably aware of the Roman dislike for Cleopatra and her most recent incarnation, Titus dismissed Berenice and then went on to rule as the “amor ac deliciae generis humani” (“the love and delight of the human race,” Suet. Tit. 1.1). Titus’s separation from Berenice and his change of character have been systematically presented by scholars as the result of anti-Flavian campaigns waged by some senators, possibly including either Licinius Mucianus or Helvidius Priscus. John Crook (1951.162–64) argues that Titus was embroiled in a struggle with Mucianus and his supporters, most notably A. Alienus Caecina and T. Clodius Eprius Marcellus, and that his relationship with an eastern queen provided them with a ready means to stigmatize him. Perry Rogers (1980.86–87, 92) slightly subverts this argument by adding that, although Mucianus’s death, possibly in 74, gave Titus confidence, Caecina’s subsequent murder and Marcellus’s forced suicide were serious mistakes that caused an unpopular reaction and could only be redeemed by Berenice’s dismissal (but cf. Vasta 2007a.7). Recently, the criticism levelled at Titus and his queen by the influential philosopher Helvidius Priscus and his circle, led by his father-in-law Thrasea Paetus, has been cast as the real reason for the affair’s termination. However, a closer look at the literary evidence suggests that Titus had hitherto been very sober in decisions relating to his personal life. As will be argued, he never truly intended to marry Berenice and thus displease the Roman populace. Whether the affair had simply run its course or whether Titus shrewdly maintained it for as long as Berenice’s financial aid and eastern contacts were politically necessary, her dismissal gave pro-Flavian writers an opportunity to celebrate it, in retrospect, as an indication of Titus’s imperial suitability—all the more so given that Titus’s excellence needed to be juxtaposed with the self-serving character of his successor, his brother Domitian, posthumously cast as a “rhetorical” tyrant in accordance with a long-standing tradition in Greek and Roman rhetoric of presenting tyrants as the enemies of freedom and the law. Roman historiography relied on quite rigorous paradigms when advocating the patterns of behaviour deemed socially commendable and worthy of emulation. The example set by Augustus, who had styled himself as the restorer of traditional Roman values, had acquired particular relevance following the allegedly orientalizing regimes of Gaius and Nero— both of whom were perceived to have added an eastern character to their reigns through their notorious addictions to luxury and tyrannical displays of power—all of which the Romans typically associated with oppressive eastern despots. By rejecting Berenice, Titus reversed any unfavourable comparison with Antonius. He thereby managed to draw himself closer to a) the example of Aeneas, the forefather of the Julian gens famously celebrated by Vergil, and b) the example of Augustus...
 
Although Vitruvius’s de Architectura remained known and influential throughout the Middle Ages (see, for instance, Schuler 1999 and Verbaal’s contribution to this issue), it was the famous “rediscovery” around 1414 by the Italian humanist and manuscript hunter Poggio Bracciolini that initiated a reception history that would shape architectural thinking until far into the twentieth century.1 As Pierre Gros and Indra Kagis McEwen argue, Vitruvius provided later authors with the “systèmes d’énonciation” or the “body” of architecture: the elements, tropes, and figures of thought that could be brought into play when speaking of architecture (Vitruvius 1992a.xxix and McEwen 2003). This article focuses on one moment in the reception of a particular Vitruvian trope: the eighteenth-century French interest in, and variations on, the Vitruvian account of the origins of building supplied at the beginning of the second book. The account is a mosaic of contemporary commonplaces on the origins and early history of civilization gleaned from, among others, Lucretius (Vitruvius 1999a.xvii–xx, xxxi–xxxiv, and commentary 64–76; Rykwert 1972). Vitruvius Book 2.1 offers a conjectural history of building before recorded history, with the stated aim of explaining the differences between nations in their use and application of materials. Building is placed in a sequence of skills acquired by humankind at the dawn of [End Page 199] civilization: the development of shelter comes after the control of fire, the art of living in groups, and the use of language. Vitruvius describes how primordial humans, after some early experiments, eventually arrived at a structure with walls of turf covered with an inclined roof. Practice, experience, specialization, reflection, and the gradual development of other arts and sciences led to evermore understanding. Huts were replaced by houses of brick, stone, timber, and tiles, and knowledge of proportions developed. In a final step: “After they had noted what a profusion of resources has been begotten by Nature, and what abundant supplies for construction have been prepared by her, they nourished these with cultivation and increased them by means of skill and enhanced the elegance of their life with aesthetic delights” (2.1; trans. Vitruvius 1999b.35). Vitruvius sustains his conjectures by pointing to contemporary “uncivilized” peoples who at his time were still building in a “primitive” way, discusses two specimens of dwellings developed by the Colchians and the Phrygians, and concludes that every nation has its own way of building best suited to its circumstances and the materials available in the region. Similar accounts started appearing in French treatises and texts on architecture from the late 1730s onwards. Until then, the literature on architecture had mainly formulated design principles for the benefit of a specialized readership of architects and connoisseurs, but now conjectures on architectural origins appeared conspicuously alongside more technical passages. Early examples such as the 1738 “Dissertation sur ce genre de décorations qu’on appelle les ordres d’architecture” by Amédée-François Frézier, a military engineer of considerable reputation, paid their debt to the Vitruvian model and kept quite close to it. Frézier even copied Vitruvius’s recourse to contemporary examples of primitive dwellings to sustain his reconstructions. Other texts written by practicing architects and educators, such as Pierre de Vigny’s “Dissertation sur l’architecture” (published in 1752), Charles-Étienne Briseux’s Traité du beau essentiel dans les arts (1752), Jacques-François Blondel’s Architecture françoise (1752), and the Treatise on Civil Architecture (1759) by Blondel’s British pupil William Chambers, moved further away from Vitruvius, taking his interest in architectural beginnings in novel directions—in de Vigny’s case, towards a justification of the natural origin of, not the classical, but the Gothic style. What most distinguished the eighteenth-century texts from the Vitruvian model, however, was how and for what purpose they employed origin accounts: instead of explaining the location-specific use of materials, as Vitruvius intended, the authors discussed here mobilized conjectures on [End Page 200] architectural beginnings to explain, define, or justify the role and prestige of architecture in society. In doing so, they...
 
What do we mean when we speak of the Vitruvian Middle Ages? Does the history of Vitruvius in the west not start around 1415 when three humanists dug up the manuscript of the de Architectura from the graveyard that was the monastic library of St. Gallen? Are the Middle Ages not primarily, then, the prehistory of Vitruvius? Are they not likewise the post-histoire of classical thought and knowledge in general? Even when a broad scholarly public knows that questions such as those above are no longer founded upon any reality, the beliefs behind them still remain decisive in shaping the image and presentation of European cultural history and identity. One need only open at random any book on reception history or the classical heritage and the table of contents will invariably show the same leap from classical or late antiquity to the era of the early humanists—the period from which every history of modern Europe takes its departure. Even those scholars who realize that our knowledge of antiquity is largely determined by medieval textual transmission are hardly ever willing to take the Middle Ages into consideration when discussing the afterlife of classical culture or literature.1 Nonetheless, the Vitruvian Middle Ages do exist. The history of Vitruvius does not start in 1416/1417. The manuscript Poggio and his colleagues discovered in the monastery of St. Gallen was not the sole survivor from the age of antiquity. And Vitruvius had not stayed buried for almost a thousand years in the obscurity of ignorance and monastic [End Page 215] indifference.2 Already in 1967, Carol Krinsky had published an article in which she enumerated seventy-eight Vitruvius manuscripts dating from the eight or ninth to the fifteenth century. More recently, the voluminous study by Stefan Schuler (1999) offers an even more thorough range of manuscripts reaching into the nineteenth century, as well as an exhaustive list of references to Vitruvius during the Middle Ages: quotations, rewritings, mentions, and listings in catalogues. Actually, Edgar de Bruyne had already done part of this work in 1946 in his still fundamental Études d’esthétique médiévale (1946.244–61). His work remains unmentioned, however, by both Krinsky and Schuler. Yet in spite of this accumulated knowledge about the transmission of Vitruvius during the period known as the Middle Ages; in spite of all the quotations and references to his work by writers of this period; and in spite of his appearances in medieval libraries all over Europe, the question still has to be asked whether one is allowed to speak of a Vitruvian Middle Ages. How must the tag “Vitruvian” be understood for the period between the fall of the Roman empire and the discovery of the manuscript in St. Gallen? How Vitruvian were the Middle Ages? In what sense can Vitruvius be considered a formative force in this period? Does he in any way add to the understanding of these thousand years of western European history? These are the questions I wish to tackle. I will not pay much attention to the contents of Vitruvius, nor to his transposition into the practical field of architecture. Mine is the contribution of a literary scholar, not of a historian of architecture. Nor is it necessary to redo the work of Stefan Schuler and trace the reception story of the Vitruvian treatise. Rather, Schuler’s exhaustive work forms the starting point for my contribution. I offer an attempt to understand the reception of Vitruvius during the Middle Ages. This is not an easy task, because in spite of the widespread knowledge of cultural differences from either a global or a historical point of view, the Middle Ages remain the blankest space on many people’s personal map of knowledge, both for the general public and for most specialists. They offer the widest opportunity for the most abstruse prejudices and romanticisms, and very few, especially among classicists and literary scholars, dare to venture into these so-called dark ages.3[End Page 216] As a result, these two categories of scholars remain the victims of one of the greatest and most admirable deceptions in history: the...
 
Archilochus issues an iambic challenge to Kerykides through the frame of authoritative speech in Epode 185W; the much-debated phrase akhnymenē skytalē is essential to that attack. I propose a new reading of akhnymenē that allows for its double-valence: it is at once "sorrowful" (as traditionally understood) and "speaking." This double meaning accords precisely with the dual strands of Archilochus' biting poetic mode: his words bring sorrow to their target in their verbal articulation. Such a reading also recommends my view of Archilochus' message stick as an analogue to Hesiod's iconic scepter, that is, as emblematic of Archilochus' authoritative iambic speech.
 
Top-cited authors
Andrew Riggsby
  • University of Texas at Austin
Jenny Clay
  • University of Virginia
Claude Calame
  • École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Egbert Bakker
  • Yale University
Claudia Rapp
  • University of Vienna