Greek Literature (9 Volume Set) selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy
(Garland Routledge) Available as a set or as single volumes
Greek Literature: Volume 1: The Oral Traditional Background of Ancient Greek Literature selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 2: Homer and Hesiod as Prototypes of Greek Literature selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 3: Greek literature in the Archaic Period: The Emergence of Authorship selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 4: Greek Literature in the Classical Period: The Poetics of Drama in Athens selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 5: Greek Literature in the Classical Period: The Prose of Historiography and Oratory selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 6: Greek Literature and Philosophy selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 7: Greek Literature in the Hellenistic Period selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 8: Greek Literature in the Roman period and in Late Antiquity selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
Greek Literature: Volume 9: Greek Literature in the Byzantine Period selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
This new collection reprints in facsimile the most influential papers in the field of Greek literature. While concentrating on the seminal work of the 1980s and 1990s, these volumes also feature important articles from earlier parts of the century.
Edited with an introduction by an internationally recognized scholar, this nine-volume set represents the most exhaustive collection of essential critical writings in the field, from studies of the classic works to the history of their reception. Bringing together the articles that have shaped modern classical studies, the set covers Greek literature in all its genres--including history, poetry, prose, oratory, and philosophy--from the 6th century BC through the Byzantine era. Since the study of Greek literature encompasses the roots of all major modern humanities disciplines, the collection also includes seminal articles exploring the Greek influence on their development. Each volume concludes with a list of recommendations for further reading. This collection is an important resource for students and scholars of comparative literature, English, history, philosophy, theater, and rhetoric as well as the classics.
Gregory Nagy is Professor of Classics at Harvard University
and Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. He has
written and edited numerous books on Greek literature, including Homeric
Questions, The Everyman's Library The Iliad, Greek Mythology and Poetics, and
Poetry as Performance.
Greek Literature (9 Volume Set) selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) Available as a set or as single volumes. This nine-volume set is a collection of writings by experts in ancient Greek literature. On display here is their thinking, that is, their readings of ancient writings. Most, though not all, of these experts would call themselves philologists. For that reason, it is relevant to cite the defnition of "philology" offered by
Friedrich Nietzsche. 1n the preface to Daybreak, he says that philology is the art of reading slowly:
Philology is that venerable art which demands of its votaries one thing above all: to go aside, to take time, to become still. to become slow‑ it is a goldsmith's art and connoisseurship of the word which has nothing but delicate cautious work to do and achieves nothing if it does not achieve it lento. But for precisely this reason it is more neccessary y than ever today; by precisely this means does it entice and enchant us the most, in the midst of an age of "work," that is to say, of hurry, of indecent and perspiring haste, which wants to "get everything done" at once, including every old or new book:‑this art does not easily get anything done, it teaches to read well, that is to say, to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate fingers and eyes.
(This translation is adapted, with only slight changes, from R. J. Hollingdale, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Daybreak; Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality [Cambridge, 1982].)
This is not to say that the selections in these nine volumes must be ideal exemplifications of philology as Nietzsche defined it. Faced`with the challenge of describing their own approaches to Greek literature, most authors of these studies would surely prefer a definition of "philology" that is less demanding. Perhaps most congenial to most would be the formulation of Rudolf Pfeiffer (History of Classical Scholarship I [Oxford, 1968b: "Philology is the art of understanding, explaining and reconstructing literary tradition."
This collection may be viewed as an attempt to demonstrate such an art, in all its complexity and multiplicity. Such a demonstration, of course, cannot be completely successful, because perfection is far beyond reach: the subject is vast; the space is limited, and the learning required is ever incomplete.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that disagreements persist in the ongoing study of ancient Greek literature, and thus the articles in these nine volumes necessarily reflect a diversity of opinions. There is ample room for disagreement even about the merits of representative articles, let alone the choices of the articles themselves. It is therefore reasonable for each reader to ask, after reading an article, whether it has indeed been true to the art of philology. The editor, a philologist by training, has his own opinions about the relative success or failure of each of the studies here selected. These opinions, however, must be subordinated to the single most practical purpose of the collection, which is to offer a representative set of modern studies that seek the best possible readings of the ancient writings.
Greek Literature: Volume 1: The Oral Traditional Background of Ancient Greek Literature selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge)
The focal point in this first of nine volumes about Greek literature, centering on oral traditions, is Homer, a prehistoric figure conventionally viewed by classical civilization as a prototypical poet of the Greeks. Some may even assume that research on Greek oral traditions should apply to no one but Homer. And yet, as the readings in section A of this volume suggest, the entire history of early Greek literature is based on oral traditions.
The evidence for the oral traditional basis of ancient Greek literature is both internal and comparative. The decisive impetus for research has been the comparative evidence of living oral traditions. The two most prominent names in the history of this research are Milman Parry (collected papers published posthumously in Parry 1971) and Albert Lord (definitive books published in 1960, 1991,1995). The first article in this volume and in the whole series, "Homer, Parry, and Huso" (Lord 1948), provides a vivid account of Parry's discovery procedures.
Parry had started by studying systematically the internal evidence of Homeric poetry, as reflected by the texts of the Iliad and the Odyssey, even before he set out to observe firsthand living oral poetic traditions in the former Yugoslavia (first in the summer of 1933, and then from June 1934 to September 1935). The article by Parry (1932) in this volume, "Studies in the Epic Technique of Oral Verse‑Making II: The Homeric Language as the Language of an Oral Poetry," where he elaborates on his concept of the "formula" (p. 6), is an example of his systematic approach to analyzing patterns of regularity in Homeric form and content‑ at a time when he had not yet observed comparable patterns in living oral poetic traditions. Parry's sudden and premature death in December 1935 left his student Lord with the task of undertaking the systematic comparisons that Parry had only begun. These comparisons culminated in what remains the most definitive book on the subject of oral poetry, Lord (1960 ; see Mitchell and Nagy 2000). How Lord's book extends from Parry's unfinished work is recounted in Lord (1948, article 1).
In the history of Greek literature, the term "oral" applies not only to Homer. Nor does it apply only to epic, which seems, at first, the prototypical poetic genre in the history of Greek literature. The cumulative finding of ongoing anthropological research is that oral poetry and prose span a wide range of genres in large‑scale as well as small‑scale societies throughout the world and that epic is not a universal type of poetry, let alone a privileged prototype (Nagy 1990:17‑51). There is no justification for assuming that epic poetry was the first genre of Greek civilization.
Although the epic poetry of Homer is the earliest attested genre, at least in its transcribed form, in the history of Greek literature, the contents of this poetry refer to or even "quote" from a plethora of other genres typical of oral traditions, such as love songs, laments, invectives, spells, boasts, and praise songs (Martin 1984 [article 3]:30‑31; on laments, see especially Alexiou 1974; on prayers, see Muellner 1976). Among a variety of examples is the poetry of divination, as reflected in Homeric similes (Muellner 1990, article 4). Thus epic was not the only extant form of ancient Greek poetry that derived directly from oral traditions (Nagy 1990:414‑437).
Still, in the history of research on ancient Greek literature, the, single most important body of internal evidence showing traces of oral traditions has been the text of Homeric poetry, in the form of the Iliad and the Odyssey. The article by Parry (1932) in this volume shows that his interest in epic led him to look for oral traditions underlying other ancient Greek genres, as represented, for example, by the "lyric" poetry of Sappho and of Alcaeus. Such directions in Parry's lines of interest were cut short, however, by his death. The posthumous publication of his papers, collected by his son Adam Parry (1971), situated Milman Parry's work in a scholarly context that confined the question of oral traditions to Homer, virtually excluding the rest of Greek literature.
In Adam Parry's introduction to his father's book (Parry 1971), genres other than epic are not actively considered; moreover, there is a pronounced aversion to engaging with the comparative evidence of oral poetics (see also Parry 1966, included in volume 2; for further discussion, see Nagy 1999 [article 19]:266-267). By contrast with the discontinuities inherent in the publication of Parry (1971), the work of Lord continued systematically the comparative methodology of Milman Parry, with applications to "lyric" (Lord 1995:22‑68) as well as epic (Lord 1991). In terms of this methodology, to draw a line between Homer and the rest of ancient Greek literature is to risk creating a false dichotomy. There is a similar risk in making rigid distinctions between oral and written aspects in studying the earliest attested forms of Greek literature in general (Lord 1965:105‑106).
Besides examining Homer, volume 1 addresses the complementary importance of Hesiod as a foundational figure in the history of Greek literature. Homer and Hesiod are symmetrical "culture heroes" of Greek civilization, as we hear directly from the so‑called father of history himself, Herodotus (2.53.1‑3; Nagy 1990:215‑217). The comparative evidence shows that Hesiodic poetry, like Homeric, derives from oral poetic traditions, as analyzed in this volume by Martin (1984), "Hesiod, Odysseus, and the Instruction of Princes" (see also Edwards 1971). Moreover, the Hesiodic Theogony and Work sand Days are complementary, as poetic compositions, to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; such structural complementarity provides valuable clues for defining the genres and subgenres of Homeric as well as Hesiodic poetry. This subject is addressed in this volume by Slatkin (1987), "Genre and Generation in the Odyssey" (see also Muellner 1996:52, 119‑120). Homeric and Hesiodic poetry can even cross over into each other's poetic forms, as when the Odyssey reenacts the poetic genre known as "the mirror of princes," which otherwise typifies Hesiodic rather than Homeric poetry (Martin 1984, article 3).
Reconstructing ancient Greek literature backward in time from Homer and Hesiod, scholars are faced with a vast variety of problems and controversies. Although it may seem obvious that oral traditions must be the basis for the development of Greek literature as ultimately defined by Homer and Hesiod, a major question is; How are we to define these two figures themselves? The answer to this question is not at all clear. To say simply that Homer and Hesiod are the earliest authors of Greek literature is hardly adequate. The question remains: How are we to define the authorship of Homer and Hesiod in terms of the oral traditional heritage that shaped their poetry?
In the ongoing search for answers, scholarly interest has consistently gravitated toward Homer and toward the genre that defines him, epic, at the expense of Hesiod. In the history of scholarship, it is in fact customary to speak exclusively in terms of the "Homeric Question." A similar question‑or set of questions‑is just as timely in the case of Hesiod as well as other early figures in the history of Greek literature. Still, most of the research in the oral traditional background of Greek literature gravitates toward Homer and the Homeric Question. The readings in section B of this volume reflect that fact.
The Homeric Question cannot realistically be reduced to a single unified "question," as if all experts could agree on a definition of that singularity. It should come as no surprise, then, that the answers, as offered by a variety of experts, are multiple and even contradictory. It would be misleading to attempt a synthesis of the conflicting views. For the reader to make an informed judgment, it is preferable to concentrate on the methods applied and on the results achieved.
A powerful means for reconstructing the oral traditional prehistory of Homeric poetry is provided by the discipline of archaeology (see in general Snodgrass 1987). As we see from the overview of Sherratt (1990, article 6), the external dating criteria provided by the existing archaeological evidence point to many centuries of evolution for the oral poetic tradition that culminated in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. A major point of convergence for archaeology and the study of Homeric poetry is the issue of the Trojan War‑or, more accurately, Trojan Wars‑ and the degree to which the Iliad and the Odyssey reflect the realities of the late second millennium B.C.E. (see Sherratt 1990, article 6; also Morris 1989, article 8).
Homeric poetry, in the process of evolving as an oral tradition, reflects the realia of Greek civilization all the way from the middle of the second millennium B.C.E. to the seventh century B.C.E. and perhaps even later. Such an assessment, taking into account the testimony of (1) Homeric poetry as an ongoing system of communication and (2) the successive layers of archaeological evidence, represents an evolutionary model (see Sherratt 1990, article 6).
The archaeological evidence is supplemented with the important testimony of the so‑called Mycenaean Linear B tablets, the earliest attestation of the Greek language in writing; Palmer (1979, article 7) argues that we see here a cross section, dating back to the Mycenaean civilization of the second millennium B.C.E., of a phase of overall Greek civilization that decisively shaped the evolution of the Homeric tradition (on the name of Achilles as a reflex of "Mycenaean epic," see Nagy 1994).
Another powerful means for reconstruction is art history. The evolving traditions of visual arts, going as far back as the middle of the second millennium B.C.E. and even beyond, can be compared as parallel to the evolving traditions of the verbal arts as represented by 1‑Iomerlc poetry. A most dramatic illustration is the cross section provided by the miniature frescoes of Thera, discussed in "A Tale of Two Cities: The Miniature Frescoes from Thera and the Origins of Greek Poetry" (Morris 1989, article 8). On these frescoes, which are dated well before the middle of the second millennium B.C.E., we can find representations of various themes that match corresponding themes in Homeric poetry, and the resulting visual/verbal correspondences car, lead to the conclusion that at least some of these Homeric themes, such as the 'tale of two cities" as represented on the Shield of Achilles in Iliad XVIII, were well over a thousand years old before they were recorded in written versions of the Homeric Iliad (for more on the Shield, see Nagy 1997).
Yet another means, perhaps the most powerful of all, is linguistics (Nagy 1974, Muellner 1976, Frame 1978; see in general Watkins 1995). The application of historical linguistics to the diction of oral poetry yields new techniques of reconstruction, where the terminus of a given reconstruction backward in time can
stop short of a "proto‑language" phase (see, for example, Nagy 1994 on the name of Achilles, where the terminus of the reconstruction stops short of "proto‑Indo-European"). Two papers of West (1988 and 1992, articles 9 and 10) survey the evidence provided by linguistics for the derivation of Homeric poetry from Indo-European poetic antecedents (for similar conclusions but different perspectives, see Nagy 1974, supplemented in Nagy 1990). Such reconstructions of Homeric poetry from Indo‑European models need to take into account the lateral influence of Near Eastern languages and civilizations, especially in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E. (West 1988 [article 9];169‑172 and West 20006; see also especially Hendel 1987).
It is commonly assumed about oral poetry that it must be disorganized and incoherent in comparison to written poetry. Empirical observation of living oral traditions refutes such an assumption: degrees of poetic competence and skill may vary greatly, but the capacity of oral poetry for mechanical and aesthetic virtuosity has been confirmed in studies spanning a variety of cultures (Martin 1989, Foley 1998, Mitchell and Nagy 2000). To the extent that Homeric poetry is derived from oral traditions, its mechanics and aesthetics may differ from what is found in verbal arts that depend on the technology of writing (Muellner 1996). Accordingly, special models are needed for analyzing and explaining the potential cohesiveness and artistry of oral poetics. Section C offers a sampling of such models.
Nagler's 1967 paper, "Towards a Generative View of the Oral Formula" (article 11), views oral poetics as a Qognitive system, supplementing Parry's model of the Homeric formula by way of linguistic models derived ultimately from generative grammar (for other models of the formula, see Nagy 1990:17‑51). Clark (1994, article 12) expands Parry's metrical frame for defining the Homeric formula, demonstrating the existence of functional formulas that stretch far beyond the confines of a single Homeric verse. Beck (1998/9, article 13) shows that Homeric variations of the formula can be driven by Homeric narrative, which has a built‑in capacity for long‑term thematic development. The brief paper of Jong (1985, article 14), which amounts to a preview of her book on Homeric "focalization" (long 1989), is clearly not intended by the author as any kind of illustration of oral poetics; still, the devices of "narratology" as she describes them can be reinterpreted in terms of oral poetics (see, for example, Martin 1989). In contrast with Jong, Bakker (1993, article 15), in an analysis of Homeric diction, shows how the self-presentation of Homeric poetry requires "live" performance, so that the very language of this poetry presupposes an oral tradition.
A final but potentially vital question has been reserved for section D: If it is true that Homeric poetry derives from an oral traditional background, how did it become a textual tradition in the first place? Bird's paper (1994, article 16) offers a general assessment of the problem (see also Nagy 2000). According to one solution, as proposed by West (2000a, article 17), the "authors" of the Iliad and the Odyssey (who, according to this solution, were two distinct poets) had a hand in the recording of these poems, perhaps even intervening in the actual process of writing them down. This solution was evidently designed as an explicit alternative to the one proposed by Janko (1998, article 18), for whom the Iliad and the Odyssey as we have them derive from texts dictated by "Homer" himself, supposedly sometime in the second half of the eighth century B.C.E. As an alternative to both these solutions, Nagy (1999, article 19) proposes an "evolutionary model."
At stake in choosing among all these alternative solutions is the definition of Homeric reception itself: How were the Iliad and the Odyssey understood by the classical world in the days of a figure like, say, Aeschines in the fourth century B.C.E.? This question, as carefully analyzed by Due (2001, article 20), leads to other vital questions. How was Homer received by classical Greek civilization writ large? Was he still the embodiment of the living word in performance? Or had he become a mere corpus of writings, the remains of the word that once was alive but since had died, hundreds of years before the emergence of the author we know as "our" Homer?
Greek Literature: Volume 2: Homer and Hesiod as Prototypes of Greek Literature selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) The figures of Homer and Hesiod stand out as the culture heroes of Greek civilization, not just of Greek literature. Such is the view expressed in the second half of the fifth century B.C.E. by the so‑called father of history himself, Herodotus (2.53.1‑3; commentary on this passage in Nagy 1990a:215‑217). This volume is a collection of readings that explore the centrality of Homer and Hesiod as prototypical models in the history of Greek literature. From such a perspective, the process of reconstruction goes forward in time, starting with these two figures as if they were the first poets‑even first authors‑of Greek literature.
In the Introduction to volume 1 of this series, the perspective was different: Homer and Hesiod were treated as points of arrival, not just points of departure, in the evolution of ancient Greek verbal arts. In volume 1 reconstruction was viewed as going backward in time, not just forward, with the objective of recovering the essentials of Homeric and Hesiodic poetry from the prehistoric past. We have seen that such a recovery, however incomplete, could go as far back as the early Mycenaean era, around the middle of the second millennium B.C.E. Moreover, with the aid of historical linguistics, it could go back even further, since the Indo-European linguistic heritage of Greek‑speaking peoples proves to be a poetic heritage as well. In other words, we have seen how the prehistory of ancient Greek poetry could be traced back to an era so early that it predates even the existence of a distinct language that we now know as Greek.
Given all the uncertainties of reconstructing so far backward in time, we may at first suppose that reconstructing forward, starting with Homer and Hesiod, would be an easier task. Finding the precise point of departure, however, turns out to be the most difficult task of all. At present there is no agreement about the dating of Homer and Hesiod, or even about the criteria needed to achieve such a dating. The disagreements are vividly illustrated by the readings collected in this volume.
As prehistoric figures, Homer and Hesiod need to be defined mainly in terms of the poetry attributed to them, since the only overt historical evidence is the actual text of this poetry. One obvious way to approach the problem is to ask when it was that the poems attributed to Homer and Hesiod were written down. The central poems are of course the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, the Hesiodic Theogony and Works and Days, and the so‑called Homeric Hymns. Taking as raw evidence the language of the texts as we now have them, some have tried to develop a relative dating system by applying linguistic criteria: for example, attempts have been made to calculate the relative age of each text by monitoring the frequencies of more or less archaic features in the language of the text. The most promising such attempt is that of Janko (1982).
Such calculations, however, presuppose that the act of writing down a given poem was simultaneous with the act of composing it. If it were a proven fact‑ and it is not‑ that any given Homeric or Hesiodic composition depended on the technology of writing, such a presupposition would be easy to justify. Someone who writes while he composes and composes while he writes could be expected to leave behind an accurate linguistic record of his composition, simply by virtue of having written it down. Such is the expectation of West (2000a, article 17 in volume 1). If, however, one imagines the act of composition in terms of oral poetics, as does Janko (1982), it becomes far more difficult to justify the same presupposition‑that the act of writing down a poetic composition was simultaneous with the act of composing. In oral poetics, composing and performing are aspects of the same process, without the need for writing (Lord 1960:28). By inference, then, someone who performs while he composes and composes while he performs would not depend on writing for the act of composing. Thus, in terms of oral poetics, the only way to imagine writing as an act simultaneous with the act of composing is to assume that the one who writes is different from the one who composes. In other words, someone dictates what someone else transcribes. Such is the dictation theory of Janko (1998, article 18 in volume 1).
In Janko's book (1982), his construct of a relative chronology for the Homeric and Hesiodic poems depends on this dictation theory (modeled on, but in details different from, the theory of Lord 1953). For his chronology to work, Janko has to assume that these poems‑the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, the Hesiodic Theogony and Works And Days, and the Homeric Hymns‑were in fact all dictated. There are inherent problems, however, with such an assumption, especially with the historical plausibility of an eighth‑century "dictating Homer" (Nagy 1997). If it turns out that Janko's dictation model is invalid‑that is, if the event of writing down any of these poems was not simultaneous with oral compositionthen his relative chronology becomes destabilized. Nagy (1999, article 19 in volume 1) has proposed an alternative model that does not require a simultaneous link between oral composition and written text; if this model turns out to be valid, then Janko's relative chronology for the transcription of both the Homeric and the Hesiodic tradition needs to be revised.
At this point, as we proceed to examine further criteria in the attempt to establish a starting point for Homeric and Hesiodic reception in the ancient Greek world, an obvious, though regrettable, fact emerges. Beyond the ancient world, literary interest has been preoccupied with Homer at the expense of Hesiod (among exceptional studies of the mechanics and aesthetics of Hesiodic poetry are Lamberton 1988 and Petropoulos 1994). Accordingly, as in volume 1, the center of attention in this volume shifts to Homer. Many of the observations that follow can theoretically apply to Hesiod as well, but the focus of research, as represented by the readings about to be surveyed, is on Homer.
Besides historical linguistics, archaeology and art history provide criteria for the dating of the earliest possible Homeric transcript or transcripts. In particular, the evidence of paintings on Athenian vases proves decisive. Of special interest is the first article in this volume, by Lowenstam (1997), who shows that a systematic comparison between the visual art of these vases and the verbal art of Homeric poetry yields a reliable chronological point of reference for dating the emergence of the Iliad and the Odyssey as we know them in their textual form. The date can be narrowed down to somewhere between the end of the sixth century B.C.E. and the beginning of the fifth.
A more general archaeological survey, undertaken by Morris (1986), proposes a far earlier date for the transcriptions of "our" Iliad and Odyssey, somewhere around the second half of the eighth century B.C.E. As with Janko's linguistic criteria, however, the archaeological criteria allow for alternative explanations. For example, although there is clear evidence for poetic inscriptions dating as far back as the middle of the eighth century B.C.E., it does not follow that this dating marks the earliest possible time for the transcribing of Homeric poetry; the attestation of inscribed poetry is not, of and by itself, proof that poetry in transcribed form already existed (Svenbro 1993:37‑40; more about inscribed poetry in Day 1989). In general, the so‑called egocentric sema, or sign, designating poetry inscribed on a monument that notionally speaks in the first person, reflects a mentality of oral performance, not transcription (on the meaning and contexts of sema in Homeric poetry, as a self‑reference to that poetry, see Nagy 1983; also Ivanov 1993). In other words, the mentality of inscribing poetry is parallel to that of performing oral poetry, not transcribing it; further, performative self references in poetic inscriptions persisted as late as the end of the sixth century B.C.E. and the beginning of the fifth (Lowenstam 1997:64). Thus the evidence of poetic inscriptions does not and cannot preclude a relatively late dating for the transcription of the Homeric poems.
Faced with such a variety of datings for the Iliad and the Odyssey, ranging from the middle of the eighth century B.C.E. to the beginning of the fifth, we may better appreciate all the other uncertainties of Homeric scholarship. It should come as no surprise, then, that the general question of when and how the Homeric poems became definitive models of Greek literature is far from settled.
This question, and the dating problem, can be envisaged from a radically different point of view by approaching the Homeric poems simply as texts composed as texts, not as oral poetry. This volume includes a most influential example of such an approach, a paper by Adam Parry, the son of Milman Parry, titled "Have We Homer's Iliad?" (1966, article 2). Disagreeing with his father's view of Homeric poetry as oral composition (on which, see Parry 1932, article 2 in volume 1), Adam Parry argues that the Iliad is a masterpiece of textual rather than oral composition, transcending oral poetics by relying on the technology of writing. Acknowledging that his criteria are not purely empirical but belletristic, Adam Parry contends that the masterful artistry in the text of the Iliad is in itself the primary evidence we need to prove that "our" Iliad is indeed "Homer's" Iliad.
The dating is implicit in this formulation. Adam Parry accepts as a premise the hypothetical Homeric chronology of Kirk (1962), for whom "our" Iliad was composed‑in the eighth century B.C.E. (by a poet whom Kirk calls simply the "monumental composer"), but he rejects Kirk's theory that this poem was thereafter transmitted orally for two centuries until it was finally written down. According to Kirk (1962:301‑304), the Iliad was an eighth‑century oral composition that "degenerated" in the process of oral transmission over the next two centuries (for a critique of Kirk's "devolutionary model," see Nagy 1999:272, article 19 in volume 1).
Whereas Kirk cannot accept, on historical grounds, the possibility of an Iliad transcribed as early as the eighth century, Adam Parry cannot imagine, on aesthetic grounds, the possibility of an Iliad transmitted orally as late as the sixth century‑ if indeed it was already composed by "our" Homer, supposedly in the eighth century. For Adam Parry (1966:216), writing must be "both the means and the occasion" for the composition of the Iliad. Therefore, since he accepts Kirk's dating for the composition of this "monumental" poem, Adam Parry concludes that the Iliad was simultaneously composed and written down in the eighth century (to this extent, his reasoning resembles that of Janko 1982).
Adam Parry builds his arguments on a single premise, the artistic superiority of the Homeric Iliad. By comparison, even the Odyssey "is evidently a less great poem," while the Homeric Hymns are "unquestionably inferior" (Parry 1966:190). What makes the Iliad clearly supreme, according to this line of thinking, is that it supposedly transcends the world of oral poetry; what makes other archaic Greek poems‑not to mention the southern Slavic oral poetry compared by Milman Parry‑ relatively "inferior" can then be blamed on the legacy of their oral poetic heritage (for an alternative assessment, see Nagy 1999:266‑268, article 19 in volume 1).
For Adam Parry (1966:193), the artistry of the Iliad is living proof that the text is "the design of a single mind." By implication, the artistic organization and cohesiveness of the Iliad must be marks of individual creativity, achievable only in writing. We see here a dichotomy: what is "unique" and therefore literary is contrasted with what is "multiform" and therefore oral. Such a dichotomy (as restated by Finkelberg 2000) may be a false one. Multiformity, as a characteristic of oral poetry, is a matter of degrees and historical contingencies: for example, even if “our" Iliad is less multiform than, say, a poem of the so‑called Epic Cycle like the Cypria, it does not follow that Homeric poetry is absolutely uniform while "Cyclic" poetry is multiform (Nagy 2001).
The poetry of the Epic Cycle is in fact a most valuable source of additional comparative evidence‑ not only about the earlier phases of Homeric poetry as an oral tradition in its own right but also about the later phases of Homeric poetry as it became differentiated from the Cycle. From the fragmentary testimony of ancient plot summaries and occasional quotations from the Cycle, it becomes clear that there once existed a vast oral epic tradition underlying what we see merely as the textual surface of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. For some, the evidence from the Cycle serves mostly as a foil for highlighting the "uniqueness" of Homer (Griffin 1977, article 3). The work of others, by contrast, has stressed the usefulness of investigating the rich multiformity of alternative epic versions preserved by the Cycle (Burgess 1996, article 4; see also Anderson 1997 on the testimony of the Cycle about alternative epic versions of the "Troy Tale").
In comparison with the Cycle, the epic repertoire of the Homeric Iliad and odyssey seems more streamlined, more uniform. Such a differentiation, however, cannot be described in absolute terms, as if the Homeric poems were simply uniform while the Cycle was multiform: it is more accurate to say that the Iliad and of the Odyssey were more uniform‑even more unified‑than the Cycle, which was more multiform (Nagy 2001). Faced with the challenge of explaining such a divergence between the Homeric poems and the Cycle, some resort to the model of the "unique" Homer, more artistic than the other poets‑ and therefore surely literate. And yet if literacy should be the decisive factor that distinguishes the Homeric poems from the Cycle, why is it that the poems of the Cycle were evidently textualized at a later time than the Iliad and the Odyssey? One possible explanation involves the festival of the Panathenaia in the city‑state of Athens, where only the Iliad and the Odyssey, to the exclusion of other epics, were performed by professional reciters (called rhapsodes) in historical times: in other words, it appears that Homeric poetry, unlike the Cycle, went through a distinctively Athenian phase of performance traditions (Nagy 1999:271‑272, article 19 in volume 1).
Such an Athenian phase in the development of Homeric poetry may help explain the distinctly Homeric themes that begin to dominate the iconographic world of vase painting in Athens around the late sixth and early fifth centuries B.C.E. (see again Lowenstam 1997, article 1). The explanatory power of comparing vase paintings with Homeric poetry works both ways. That is, Athenian vase paintings help us understand Homeric poetry as well as the other way around. When it comes to artistic virtuosity, the visual art of Athenian vase paintings is in many ways comparable, in its evocative force, to the verbal art of Homeric poetry. For example, we may consider the poetic evocations of animal sacrifice as a homologue to heroic death, as elaborated in the death scene of Patroklos in Iliad XVI: when this warrior is killed in battle, the description of his fatal wounding corresponds, blow by blow, with Homeric descriptions of animal sacrifices (Lowenstam 1981; on homologies of animal sacrifices and hero cults, see Nagy 1990a:123‑126 and 143n40). The corresponding iconographic evocations can be just as forceful, as we see from Athenian vases showing explicit pictures of rams slaughtered in sacrifice consciously juxtaposed with the image of Patroklos killed in battle (Griffiths 1985 and 1989, articles 5 and 6).
The interactiveness of Homeric poetry with the traditions of Athenian vase painting, starting from the second half of the sixth century and continuing thereafter without interruption, is just one of several specific pieces of evidence pointing toward an all‑important general trend in the history of Greek civilization: that is, Homeric poetry becomes coextensive with Athenian civilization, which in turn becomes coextensive ultimately with Greek civilization. Once we arrive at a distinctly Athenian phase of Homeric reception, the problem of determining the status of Homeric poetry in the history of Greek literature‑ and, for that matter, of Hesiodic poetry‑ edges toward a solution. Coming into view at last is a starting point for situating Homeric‑and Hesiodic‑poetry as a model for the rest of Greek literature. And so we return full circle to the view of Herodotus with which we began (2.53.1‑3): starting from the classical period of Athenian history, from the second half of the fifth century B.C.E. and thereafter, Homer‑ along with Hesiod‑emerges as the first author of Greek literature.
Comparable is the view of another historian in the second half of the fifth century B.C.E., Thucydides (3.104.2‑6). Quoting from the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, in which the poet of the hymn pictures himself as performing at a festival of Ionians who converge on the island of Delos, Thucydides readily identifies that prototypical poet with Homer himself. And he readily identifies that prototypical festival with a contemporary festival instituted at Delos by the Athenians as a visible sign of their imperial power over Ionians and other Greeks. For Thucydides, the political reach of Athens and the cultural reach of Homeric poetry are coextensive.
Not only Thucydides pictures the composer of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo as Homer. Even the hymn itself, as a composition, pictures its composer as Homer (Nagy 1990a:375‑378; on the artistic cohesiveness of the hymn, see Miller 1979, article 7). The notional composer of this hymn, as pictured by the hymn itself, prophesies his widespread fame as a poet (Homeric Hymn to Apollo 166-176; on the oral poetic type of the "legendary singer," see Foley 1998, article 9). The prophecy is self‑fulfilling in that the hyperbolically far‑reaching fame predicted by the poet of the hymn corresponds to the historically far‑reaching cultural prestige of Homeric poetry. This cultural reach of Homer, as we have seen from the testimony of Thucydides, was equated by Athenians with the political reach of their empire. Such an equation between the poetry of Homer and the power of empire did not start with the Athenians, however. According to Burkert (1979, article 8), the "commissioning" of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, as performed perhaps for the first time at Delos, may be traced back to the tyrant Polycrates of Samos, founder of a maritime empire that may be viewed as a prototype for the subsequent maritime empire of the Athenians.
Just as the internal self‑references in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, supplemented by the external references of Thucydides, can be viewed as valuable sources for reconstructing the reception of Homeric poetry, the self‑references in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey point to the emerging historical distinctness of these two poems as landmarks of the heroic age. In the Odyssey that definitiveness is actually expressed in terms of finality, as if the heroic age must come to an end with the ending of such a definitive story (Martin 1993, article 10).
As we have seen in several of the articles in volume 1 (for example, articles 4, 5,13,15), the mechanics and aesthetics of oral poetics do not impede and in fact promote‑ the qualities of organization and cohesiveness that we find in Homeric poetry. So also in the articles in section B of this volume, there is a general sense that Homeric poetry and oral poetics are compatible. In fact, many of the special effects of Homeric virtuosity cannot even be imagined without the precondition of actual performance in an oral poetic setting (a notable example is Bakker 1999, article 16). Such a setting does not rule out the highest standards of artistic precision (Ebbott 1999, Levaniouk 2000, Dova 2000‑ articles 12,13,14).
Section C rounds out this volume with two exceptional inquiries that treat Hesiodic poetry as a significant artistic complement to the Homeric.
Greek Literature: Volume 3: Greek literature in the Archaic Period: The Emergence of Authorship selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) The archaic period, the topic of this volume, is difficult to define except negatively. It excludes the period associated with Homer and Hesiod, which is conventionally dated as earlier (see volume 2), and it also excludes the classical period, which can be defined roughly as starting with the second half of the fifth century B.C.E. (see especially volume 4). Conventionally, the archaic is thought of as ending with Pindar and Bacchylides, and the classical as beginning with Aeschylus, even though these three poets were roughly contemporaneous. Such a cutoff is convenient for classifying poetry, but it proves unsuitable for addressing the woefully fragmentary corpus of the so‑called Presocratic thinkers (including those figures whose primary mode of expression was poetry, such as Empedocles and Parmenides). They will be considered briefly in volume 6.
A facile way to describe the archaic period of Greek literature is to call it "lyric," since most of the authors represented here are conventionally known as lyric poets. There is in fact a book about this period bearing the title The Lyric Age of Greece (Burn 1960). In this work and in many others, however, one detects a general lack of precision in the use of the word "lyric." It is commonly associated with a variety of assumptions regarding the historical emergence of a "subjective I," as represented by the individual poet of "lyric," to be contrasted with the generic poet of "epic," imagined as earlier and thus somehow less advanced. By extension, the "subjective I" is thought to be symptomatic of emerging notions of authorship.
And yet examples of "lyric subjectivity" can be matched with comparable examples in the "epic" of Homeric poetry (Seidensticker 1978). Moreover, the conventions of archaic "lyric" as well as "epic" need to be viewed in terms of their historical contexts. During the period now in question, the artistic production of "lyric" involved performance as well as composition; moreover, the performance could involve not just an individual artist but also an ensemble that was actually or at least notionally participating (Nagy 1990:339‑381). It can even be argued that the authorship of any performed archaic "lyric" composition was closely linked to the authority of the composer, whether this authority was real or imagined (on questions of authority and authorship in general, see Nagy 1990:339‑381; see also the theories surveyed by Goldhill 1993).
The term "lyric" is imprecise in reference to form as well as function (for an attempt at a taxonomy, see Harvey 1955, article 1). The meaning is too broad to fit any single genre in the archaic period. At best, "lyric" can be applied as a negative term to exclude all poetry composed in the metrical form known as the dactylic hexameter, the medium of "epic." (Technically, "lyric" excludes poetry composed in other meters as well, notably elegiac couplets and iambic trimeters.) Hereafter, despite the imprecision, the word "lyric" will be used without quotation marks.
For more precise formalistic descriptions, other categories are needed. A given lyric composition could be sung or recited, accompanied or not accompanied by a musical instrument, danced or not danced. It could be performed solo or in ensemble. Evidently, all these variables contributed to a wide variety of genres and subgenres, but the actual categories are in general difficult to determine. Moreover, the categories of genres as formulated in the Hellenistic period and thereafter may be in some respects artificial (Davies 1988, article 3 in volume 7).
For the most precise possible perspective on archaic Greek lyric genres, it is essential to consider the historical occasions of performance as well as composition (Nagy 1994/1995; compare Dover 1964). For example, the celebrated song about the blinding of Stesichorus by Helen, as dramatized in the poet's palinode (Sider 1989, article 2), has to be viewed in terms of traditional attitudes toward Helen as a goddess who was worshiped as a cult figure in various Dorian communities, as differentiated from the Homeric treatment of her as a human by default (Nagy 1990:418‑422).
The close interaction of genre and occasion can best be seen in clearly defined historical contexts, as in the case of "colonization poetry." The vast history of Hellenic colonizations in the archaic period helps illuminate the interweaving of politics and poetics in a wide range of poetry dealing with social problems confronting the polis, or city‑state (see especially Dougherty 1994, with special reference to the work of Harvey 1955, Rossi 1971, Calame 1974, and Davies 1988; for more on "colonization poetry," see also Bowie 1986).
The range of social situations covered by the interaction of genre and occasion in archaic Greek lyric is wide. On the one hand, for example, there is the "low life" portrayed by the abusive poetry of figures like Archilochus and Hipponax (on the latter, see especially Rosen 1988, article 3); on the other hand, there is the exalted lifestyle of the aristocracy, as represented by the praise poetry of Pindar (Miller 1981, article 4). Such praise poetry, which claims direct continuity from the epic of Homer (Nagy 1986,1990:414‑437), is figured as the converse of "blame poetry" as represented by Archilochus (Nagy 1990:392‑400). Although praise poetry and blame poetry are treated as polar opposites in archaic lyric traditions, they can coexist within individual genres, even within individual songs (Compton 1987, article 5).
Aside from the world of men, the distinct world of women is represented by archaic lyric in a variety of situations; in Sappho's songs, the poetic representation emanates from traditions that belong ultimately to the women themselves (Nagy 1996:87‑103, 219‑221; see also Compton 1987, article 5).
Section A of this volume is rounded out with a set of articles illustrating the sheer variety of personalized experiences conveyed by archaic lyric. Such poetry is figured as having the power to give voice to the consciousness of the dead (Wickersham 1986, article 6). It can connect the world of epic heroes with the world of contemporary citizen‑warriors (Stehle 1996, article 7). It can stylize the genuine tears of mourning for the dead (Yatromanolakis 1998, article 8). And it stands ready to offer moral advice to one who aspires to be noble (Kurke 1990, article 9).
Section B of this volume concentrates on the conventions used in archaic lyric to achieve special effects. Sometimes these effects are misunderstood by modern readers who read the poetic references to them literally, as if the references were meant to offer direct reportage about the circumstances of producing the poetry. The work of Felson (1999, article 10) helps transcend such literal‑minded readings. Another such helpful work is that of Slater (1969, article 11), who shows that the use of the future tense in Pindar cannot be taken literally to mean that whatever the song is saying at a given moment will happen only in the future rather than simultaneously with what is being said. In other words, such futures in Pindar are "performative" in that they indicate what is being performed in the present.
Artistic conventions in the poetry of Pindar are particularly difficult to interpret. The self‑references to these conventions are so stylized that there is still widespread disagreement about even the most basic circumstances of artistic production. For example, there is continuing controversy over whether the victory songs of Pindar were performed by a solo singer, maybe Pindar himself, or by a chorus, that is, a singing and dancing ensemble. The focus of interest is on references in Pindaric victory songs to the first‑person singular (Lefkowitz 1988) and to a performing ensemble that is called the komos by the poetry itself (Heath 1988, article 12). The interpretation of such references depends on analysis of the conventions that made them possible. For example, even if the Pindaric references to the komos as a band of revelers do not fit our own notion of the khoros as a chorus, that is, a singing and dancing ensemble, it is still possible to interpret the Pindaric komos as a stylization of the khoros in the specific context of a victory celebration (Nagy 1994/1995). Section B concludes with a study that explores in depth this important topic of choral stylization in the victory odes of Pindar and Bacchylides (Power 2001, article 13).
Section C offers a variety of studies highlighting the artistic virtuosity of selected lyric compositions. The first two concern the poetry of Sappho (Clay 1970 and Petropoulos 1993, articles 14 and 15). The next four concentrate on Pindar (Hubbard 1993, Sfyroeras 1993, Segal 1985, Schein 1987‑articles 16 through 19). The last is about a notoriously underrated rival of Pindar, Bacchylides, whose poetic artistry deserves to be appreciated in its own right (Carson 1984, article 20).
Greek Literature: Volume 4: Greek Literature in the Classical Period: The Poetics of Drama in Athens selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) The readings in this volume are organized around the dramatic festivals of Athens and the theatrical genres that emerged out of this context, especially tragedy and comedy. (On the Greek term theatrokratia, as used in Plato's Laws 701a to describe the eventual domination of other poetic genres by the genres of Athenian state theater, see Nagy 1994/1995:47‑48.) Of these two genres, tragedy is exemplified by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. As for comedy, the dominant figure in the classical period, retrospectively, is Aristophanes.
Within the lengthy history of Athenian state theater productions, the classical period is confined to a relatively narrow time frame extending roughly from the first third of the fifth century to the early fourth century B.C.E.
Later phases of theater are meagerly attested; for example, the Dyscolus of Menander survives as the only nearcomplete text from the era of New Comedy in the late fourth century B.C.E. (on Menander, see in general Goldberg 1980). Even this welcome survival is owed not to medieval manuscript transmission but to discoveries of papyrus texts of Menander in the twentieth century of our era. In the second century B.C.E., Apollodorus of Athens (FGH 244 fragment 43, ed. Jacoby) still had access to the texts of 105 comedies by Menander, of which only 8 were to known to have won first prize in dramatic competitions. This proportion indicates the degree of artistic competition and the vast volume of poetic productivity still in force in the postclassical era of the late fourth century.
The drastic narrowing of the classical canon of Greek drama after the fifth century B.C.E. is evident from direct ancient testimony about the eventual fate of the dramas composed by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides: the texts of these three dramatists‑ and only these three‑were designated by the state of Athens in the second half of the fourth century B.C.E. as the official "state script" for ongoing performances of classical tragedy in this postclassical period ("Plutarch," Lives of the Ten Orators 841f; see Nagy 1996:174‑175).
Even in terms of such a narrow categorization of classical drama, the category is still in some respects too broad. The earliest attested texts of classical tragedy, as exemplified by Aeschylus, reveal many features of archaic, as distinct from classical, poetic traditions. If it were not for the simple fact that the poetry of Aeschylus, like that of Sophodes and Euripides, must be situated historically within the cultural context of Athenian state theater, it would be convenient to categorize Aeschylean poetry as part of a vast artistic continuum represented by archaic poets like Pindar (Nagy 1990:391‑392). A particularly striking archaic feature of Aeschylus's verbal art is his use of metaphor, which connects directly with archaic conventions actually attested in the visual arts of his time (Ferrari 1997, compare Bacon 1968‑articles 1 and 2 in this volume; see also Nagy 2000).
In general, Aeschylus's use of poetic wording is remarkably precise in its referentiality, and this kind of precision can be taken as yet another distinctive feature of archaic poetry. For example, his poetic catalog of enemy casualties in the Persians amounts to an artistic reworking of genuine archaic Greek conventions of publicly announcing the casualties of war (Ebbott 2000, article 3).
The organization of Aeschylus's tragedies tends to be monumental in scale, suited to the spectacular dimensions of an artistic superstructure known to this day as trilogy. The prime example is the Oresteia trilogy, produced in 458 B.C.E., consisting of Agamemnon, Libation‑Bearers, and Eumenides (rounded out by the satyr drama Proteus). The Suppliants represents another of Aeschylus's trilogies (the second and third tragedies of this set are lost, as is the satyr drama that went with it); its dating, and its interpretation in light of its historical context, were radically revised in the middle of the twentieth century, thanks to information contained in a papyrus originally published in 1952 (Winnington‑Ingram 1961, article 4).
The tragedies of Sophocles represent the acme of classical Athenian poetry. To appreciate the artistry, it is essential to understand the dramatic technique in action, as evidenced by the words of the poet themselves (Lloyd‑Jones 1972, article 5). Also, the communicative power of Sophocles' poetry needs to be viewed in the context of contemporary Athenian history: for example, the moral crises of his best‑known tragedy, Oedipus Tyrannus, reflect the contemporary moral crises inherent in the Athenians' hegemony over other Greek states (Knox 1954, article 6). Even the traditional title of this drama is relevant: since the state of Athens rules over an empire, as the dramatized words of Pericles declare in the account of Thucydides (2.63.2‑3), Athens is a "tyranny" when viewed from the outside, even though it remains a democracy from within.
The virtuosity of Sophocles as poet and dramatist has elicited a rich variety of modern critical responses, as exemplified by the studies included in section A (besides those already mentioned, these are articles 7‑11: Pucci 1994, Slatkin 1986, Segal 1981, Murnaghan 1986, Loraux 1995).
Of the three canonical tragedians, however, Euripides seems to inspire the greatest interest among experts and nonexperts alike. His tragedies leave moderns with lingering impressions of modernity, in part because he seems to be ever engaged in testing the classical forms while all along demonstrating how masterfully he can deploy them for individualized artistic purposes (Zeitlin 1970, article 12).
Modern critics have been particularly struck by Euripides' psychological insights. A classic example is a study by Dodds (1925, article 13), who analyzed the poetic treatment of Phaedra's state of mind in Euripides' Hippolytus by applying perspectives derived from the work of Sigmund Freud (Todd 2000, article 14). The risk of skewing the interpretation of tragedy by resorting to anachronistic perspectives is real but evidently worth taking.
Section B is a sampling of studies devoted to the vast and relatively underexplored subject of classical comedy. The risk of skewing the interpretation is in this case even more pronounced. Historical perspectives are needed, with emphasis on studying the earlier attested phases of poetic traditions that eventually culminated in classical Athenian comedy (Rosen 1995, article 15). Even Aristophanes, whose eleven surviving comedies provide the basic textual evidence for classical comedy, needs to be studied in the historical context of his own artistic evolution as playwright (Bowie 1988 and Konstan 1990, articles 16 and 17).
The interaction of comedy with other genres, such as the "low art" of fable (Stadter 1997, article 18), indicates its rich complexity as a sort of new "supergenre" containing residual older genres (Nagy 1990:385‑404). There are many other interactions to be found, the most important of which is the close linkage between comedy and that other great Athenian "super‑genre," tragedy (Taplin 1986, article 19). The functional complementarity of tragedy and comedy is a most telling sign of the ongoing organic relationship between the theatrical festivals of Athens and the overall traditions of classical poetry.
The historical reality of Athenian theatrical festivals is in fact the key to understanding classical drama as a tradition that centers on performance. All along, the ancient Greek traditions of composing drama were interwoven with the traditions of performing it, and it is the ritual background of such performance that makes classical theater seem so alien to modern mentalities of literary criticism. Section C illustrates the importance of scholarly efforts to integrate the skills of literary criticism with the need to explore the ritual background of Athenian classical drama (articles 2026: Wolff 1992, Vidal‑Naquet 1986, Edmunds 1981, Clay 1982, Sourvinou‑Inwood 1994, Seaford 1987, Henrichs 1996).
In the field of anthropology, a basic intellectual challenge is the task of studying the interrelation of ritual and myth in all its worldwide cultural varieties. A most illuminating case in point is the interrelation of ritual and myth in classical Greek drama, which reveals a dazzling intensity of variation even within a relatively unified cultural milieu. The myths and rituals centering on the story of the boy‑hero Glaucus, who drowned in a jar of honey, provide a particularly interesting example, since Glaucus is a central figure in three tragedies composed by the three canonical poets of tragedy: Aeschylus, Sophodes, and Euripides (Muellner 1998, article 21).
Greek Literature: Volume 5: Greek Literature in the Classical Period: The Prose of Historiography and Oratory selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) Prose traditions in the history of Greek literature cannot be separated from poetic traditions. It can even be argued that the ancient Greek art of prose is linked not so much to everyday speech as to the art of poetry (Nagy 1990:4647).
Section A of this volume concerns the art of prose as historiography. Even the earliest concepts of "history" reflect the direct links of historiographical prose traditions with the traditions of poetry, especially archaic juridical poetry, as is evident from the earliest attested contexts of the word historia itself (along with related words like histor in the sense of a juridical witness or arbitrator). In terms of the word's own cultural history, historia can be defined as the process of speaking with authority about the social as well as the natural order of the universe (Nagy 1990:215‑249). The authorial voice of a historian like Herodotus is one that claims, on multiple levels, a universalized authority as conveyed primarily by its own narrative (Dewald 1987, article 1). Herodotus becomes a classic because of the authority that establishes his authorship.
The authority of historians is evidently traceable in terms of their own historical contexts (Momigliano 1980, article 2), even though the actual history of their reception is far from evident, especially in the earliest phases of historiography (Flory 1980, article 3).
What is far more evident, on the other hand, is the art of historiographical prose traditions, which rivals in virtuosity the art of contemporary poetic traditions (articles 4‑6: Munson 1993, Kurke 1995, Hol(mann 2000). The implied reception of the historian's art, if not of the historian himself, is just as evident (Redfield 1985, article 7).
Herodotus as a classic is succeeded by Thucydides, and the very art of historiography becomes transformed in the process of succession. The artistic as well as intellectual innovations of Thucydides are self‑evident in his text, but his relationship to his predecessor is not. Much of the evidence is in fact negative rather than positive. For example, the word historic is not found in the text of Thucydides, whereas for Herodotus it serves to designate the genre of his authorship (as in the prooemium, or prelude, of his Histories). As another example, there is the startling fact that Thucydides never mentions Herodotus by name, even though he seems to be referring to his predecessor‑ and ostentatiously so‑ in a variety of contexts (Hornblower 1992, article 8). As for Thucydides as an artist in his own right, the virtuosity he displays in his text is a vast topic in and of itself (articles 9‑12: Edmunds 1993, Crane 1992, Mackie 1996, Rusten 1986). Thucydides' appeal to modern mentalities transcends the conventional opposition of classicism and modernism, and in that sense his literary legacy may be described as a prototype of postmodernism (Connor 1977, article 13).
All this is not to undervalue the traditional and conservative aspects of Thucydides' prose art, or the fundamentally conservative ideological stances presented or at least represented by him as well as by other masters of historiography. Such ideological stances require the most rigorous historical analysis (Cartledge 1993 and Bowersock 1967, articles 14 and 15).
Section B of this volume concerns the art of prose as oratory. The principles of classical rhetoric took shape within the institutional context of this art of oratory, especially as it evolved in the Athenian assembly and law courts during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. (Bers 1985, article 18; see in general Kennedy 1994). These principles transcend the historical contexts of orations per se (Beale 1978, article 16), and the focus of interest must remain on the idea of rhetoric itself and on its applications. Still, the historical context of Athenian political and cultural life plays a vital role in the shaping of rhetorical traditions (articles 17‑20: Dorjahn 1947, Bers 1985, Hansen 1983, Due 2000). In fact, the classical masterpieces of rhetorical virtuosity can best be appreciated in the historical contexts that first brought them to life (articles 21‑23: Kennedy 1959, Pearson 1975, Slater 1988).
Greek Literature: Volume 6: Greek Literature and Philosophy selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) The thinker Empedocles, who flourished in the fifth century B.C,E., is not a "poet" (poietes) but a "naturalist" (phusiologos), says Aristotle in the fourth century (Poetics 1447b). As far as Aristotle was concerned, the only thing that a poet like Homer and a philosopher like Empedocles have in common is that they both say what they say in the meter of epic, dactylic hexameter. As far as Empedodes was concerned, however, the relationship between his philosophy and Homeric poetry was organic: as the studies of jean Bollack have shown (1965‑1969), Empedocles so internalized the language of Homer that he thought in the language of Homer and therefore spoke in the language of Homer. Such a continuum between philosophy and poetry is evident in the thinking of the so‑called Presocratics (see also Nussbaum 1972, article 1). From the standpoint of the ancient world in general, such a continuum seemed conventional (Hardie 1995 and Segal 1962, articles 2 and 3).
From the standpoint of Aristotle's teacher, Plato, on the other hand, there must be an inherent discontinuity between philosophy and poetry. Mimesis, as a characteristic of poetry, detracts from the project of philosophy (Nehamas 1982, article 4). This is not to say that Plato does not appreciate poetry or lacks poetic skills: on the contrary, he reveals his connoisseurship and displays his mastery of these skills at every opportunity (Nightingale 1993 and Demos 1997, articles 5 and 6). It is only that Plato's poetic and rhetorical agenda must be subordinated to his philosophical agenda (Clay 1975 and North 1991, articles 7 and 8). Plato's poetic effects may rival those of actual poets in their communicative appeal (Derrida 1972 and Compton 1990, articles 9 and 10), but the agenda must remain philosophical.
There are other thinkers in the age of Plato, however, who continue to integrate poetry and philosophy, such as Isocrates (Race 1987, article 11). Even Aristotle, Plato's pupil, treats poetry and poetics as worthy subjects of study within the realm of philosophical discourse (Croix 1975, article 12). Finally, Aristotle's Poetics, as a philosophical discourse, can even be read as if it were a literary artifact (Carson 1990, article 13),
Philosophical criteria are usefully applied by modern literary critics to ancient Greek literature (see, for example, Held 1991, article 14, on applications of the definition of man as a politikon zoion, "organism of the city‑state," according to Aristotle's Politics, book I). In fact, sustained philosophical argumentation can be successfully combined with sustained literary criticism of ancient Greek texts (Silk 1995 and Habinek 1998, articles 15 and 16; see also Schur 1998).
Greek Literature: Volume 7: Greek Literature in the Hellenistic Period selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) Greek literature in the Hellenistic period, as represented primarily by the scholar poets of the new city‑state Alexandria, is well known for its formalism an stylization (a premier study is that of Bundy 1972, article 1). Rudolf Pfeiffer (195°. article 2, p. 73) describes the Hellenistic poets this way:
I expect many a modern ami de lettres will approve Jane Austen's wis decision to aim at perfection within the limited sphere of "her few squar inches of ivory," as she said, and not to be lured into any grand literature adventure; so he may understand at least the conscious self‑limitation c Hellenistic poets and may appreciate the perfection reached by the fey masters of the third century, who had a lightness of hand, an indefinable touch of irony and that imperishable charm which is a divine gift of the Khantes, the Graces whom they implored so often.
At an earlier point (p. 73), Pfeiffer says defensively: "for Hellenistic poetry, nor classical as it was, was still genuinely Greek."
And yet the Hellenistic scholar‑poets were largely responsible for the definitions of the classical and archaic genres as we know them to this day (Davit 1988, article 3). They clearly knew the rules and conventions of classical poetic displaying this knowledge in their own poetry by generally observing the same rule and conventions‑but occasionally violating them in ostentatious gestures that serve to highlight their artistic mastery (Rossi 1971).
The self‑conscious stylization of Hellenistic poetry has led to liver debates about the occasionality of the poems (Bing 2000, article 4) and even about their functionality (Bulloch 1984 and Depew 1993, articles 5 and 6).
Although there is disagreement about the circumstances of composing and performing Hellenistic poetry, there is general agreement about the learning and precision of the poets themselves in their use of earlier literary forms (article 7‑12: Rutherford 1995, Yatromanolakis 1999, Parsons 1977, Knox 1985, Goldhi 1994, Rengakos 2001).
The poetic virtuosity of the Hellenistic poets is evident in the evocativ power of their choices in wording (Bowie 1985, article 13), the deftness of their narrative technique (Harder 1988, article 14), and their seemingly effortless applications of past conventions to present realities (Gutzwiller 1992, article 15, Hellenistic artistry, it can be argued, confers seriousness and even sublimity t traditional themes that would otherwise be lost to indifference (Hunter 1992 an Henrichs 1993, articles 16 and 17).
Greek Literature: Volume 8: Greek Literature in the Roman period and in Late Antiquity selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) Greek literature, as mediated by the Roman Empire, becomes so definitive, so obviously classical, that it appears to be "time‑free" (on the ongoing debate centering on this concept, see Feeney 1995, article 1, especially p. 303). The notional rules for the making of literature, as formulated in schoolbooks of Late Antiquity (especially the third and fourth centuries C.E.), appear to be a cohesive system, which is applicable all the way back to the earlier periods that we know as classical and archaic. In the Roman period, a literary critic like Longinus gives the impression of speaking with an authority derived directly from Greek literature writ large (for an incisive critical assessment, see Russell 1981, article 2).
Greek literature in the Roman period cannot be appreciated without first understanding the reception of that literature in Roman terms. The inherent continuity of Greek literary traditions becomes an aspect of the cultural and even political legacy of the Roman Empire. Pervasive intellectual trends like Atticism (that is, a return to the old Athenian literary language as it existed around the fourth century B.C.E.) need to be situated within the historical context of the Roman Empire (Wisse 1995, article 3; see also in general Bowersock 1974 on the "Second Sophistic").
The term "Roman Empire" is used here in the broadest possible sense, in order to make room for the earliest attested phases of intensive Greco‑Roman cultural interaction. The intellectual agenda and literary formation of a figure like Polybius, for example, have to be viewed against the historical backdrop of an everevolving political domination of Greek civilization by Rome (Brink and Walbank 1954, article 4).
In the Late Republic and Early Empire, the political dominance of Roman power, wealth, and prestige is matched by the cultural dominance of Greek literature in particular and of Greek arts and sciences in general. Thus, for example, the patterns of intertextuality in Hellenistic poetry are reenacted most accurately by the poetry of the Augustan Age (Thomas 1998, article 5); in fact, the continuity of intertextual referencing extends further backward in time, from the Roman and Hellenistic eras all the way to archaic Greek poetry and beyond (Barchiesi 1996 and Miller 1993, articles 6 and 7).
Even outside the arts and sciences, classical Greek learning per se became integrated into the cultural legacy of Roman elites. Philosophy, along with literature, was treated as an integral part of this legacy (Barnes 1997 and Striker 1995, articles 8 and 9; see also Nagy 1998). Beyond the rationalism of philosophy, even the mysticism of earlier Greek teachings could merge with the overall project of classical learning (Nock 1927 and 1929, articles 10 and 11).
The merging of ancient Greek institutions with the humanistic program, as it were, of the Roman Empire extended far beyond classical learning rn and of itself. For example, distinctions between education and entertainment were readily neutralized in the realm of theater in all its varieties‑ "high art" as well as "low art" (ones 1993, article 12).
Moreover, patterns of institutional synthesis extended beyond the Roman elites. For example, various Christian and Jewish traditions became part of the Roman Empire's cultural lingua franca as mediated by Greek literature (Hoek 1989 and Levine 1993, articles 13 and 14). As for the Greek literary legacy of Christian traditions in general, this vast subject is reserved for volume 9.
There is one particular form of Greek literature that openly defies the impression of a "time‑free" classicism: the novel. Although the roots of this art form evidently predate the era of the Roman Empire, it is in the latter historical context that we can see most clearly its distinctness as an anomalous genre. As a literary form, the novel transcends even the concept of genre (Nagy 2001). As a medium of communication, it also transcends linguistic boundaries (witness, for example, the "Jewish novel," as analyzed by Wills 1995). The readings in the concluding section of this volume convey the varieties of narrative strategies and styles represented by the surviving examples of this multiform medium (articles 15 through 20: Stephens 1994, Winkler 1980, Morgan 1994, Mittelstadt 1967, Reardon 1994, Nimis 1998).
Related to the novel are such idiosyncratic literary forms as represented by Philostratus's "biography" of Apollonius of Tyana (Billault 1993, article 21) and a quasi dialogue called the Heroikos, created probably by the same Philostratus (Padre 2002, article 22; Maclean and Aitken 2001). The varieties of worldviews present in such literature offer precious insights into contemporary philosophical and rhetorical trends as well as religious practices and ideologies, all of which are to culminate in the amorphous cultural world that we call, all too imprecisely, Late Antiquity.
This term, "Late Antiquity," cannot be invoked without conjuring the complex history of interminable culture wars that led ultimately to the convergence of the Roman Empire as a world power with Christianity as a worldview. Even historical events such as the violent death of the "pagan" Greek woman‑scholar Hypatia could be absorbed into the novel world of this tumultuous confluence (see Takacs 1995, article 23).
Greek Literature: Volume 9: Greek Literature in the Byzantine Period selected and introduced by Gregory Nagy (Garland Routledge) By the Roman period, as we saw in volume 8, Greek literature had become so definitive, so obviously classical, that it appears to be "time‑free" (see Feeney 1995, article 1 in volume 8, especially p. 303). With the onset of the Byzantine period of Greek literature, such appearances are only reinforced. In fact, the first impression radiating from the sum total of Byzantine literature is that it speaks for itself perfectly‑that it represents a totally self‑explanatory cultural system.
A closer look, however, reveals complex interactions among a variety of styles and registers of expression. Such variety needs to be examined not only synchronically, that is, in terms of systems of communication functioning within their own historical contexts, but also diachronically, that is, in terms of systems evolving through time. The readings in section A (articles 1 through 4) give a sense of the vast cultural varieties represented by Byzantine literature and of its connections to previous phases of Greek literature. Of special importance is the close link between Byzantine literature and the cultural legacy of Late Antiquity‑ in particular, the emergence of Christianity as a dominant worldview. Of general importance is the intimate connectedness of this same literature with antiquity itself, viewed as a totality (Hunger 1969/1970, article 4). Equally important is the pervasive interaction of West with East (as represented especially by Egypt and Syria).
Questions of style and register necessarily engage various cultural dichotomies, such as low art and high art, standard and substandard, canonical and apocryphal, classical and popular, oral and written, East and West, religious and secular, orthodox and heretical. The rich varieties of such cultural constructs are analyzed in section B (articles 5 through 8, including important papers by Browning 1978 and Sevcenko 1981, articles 5 and 8).
Section C focuses on the most representative genres of Byzantine literature, such as hagiography (saints' lives), court rhetoric (especially panegyrics), and bravura descriptions of art.Section D rounds out not only volume 9 but also this whole set of nine volumes centering on premodern Greek literature as a notional totality. The articles in this section explore the interaction of literary productions with their social and cultural contexts (especially Magdalino 1989 and Mullett 1984, articles 15 and 16), the emergence of vernacular literature and its rhetorical subtleties (Alexiou 1986, article 13), and the generic fluidity and indeterminacy characteristic of many Byzantine texts (Macrides 1985, article 14). The main topic of this last section in the nine volumes, "Literary Renaissance," is particularly apt, since it leaves the reader with a simultaneous sense of closure and open‑endedness. The focus here is on a renaissance, dating from the eleventh and twelfth centuries C.E.‑ well before the better‑known western European models. Some of the genres analyzed in this section are clearly identifiable in terms of antiquity‑but also in terms of modernity. It is no accident that the crown jewel of genres in this Greek literary renaissance is itself the ultimate expression of modernity, the novel (Roilos 2000, article 17). The "novelty" of the Byzantine novel, as an ongoing notional rediscovery of all Greek antiquity, is symbolic of the renaissance, the eternal rebirth, of Greek literature.
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