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Books

Transitorium: Poems
Rapti, Vassiliki. 2015. Transitorium: Poems. Boston, MA: Somerset Hall Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

"Owner of a lonely, albeit enormously generous, heart, and happily endowed with a knowledge of Western as well as non-Western cultures, Vassiliki Rapti offers us here a lovely, if brief series of texts flavored to practically every taste found among serious readers of literature. In style and forms at one and the same time old and new, classical and iconoclastic, heavy and light, she writes poems that provoke profound reflections on the infinite significance(s) of key moments in our lives, including birth and death." - Stamos Metzidakis

Ancient Bronzes through a Modern Lens: Introductory Essays on the Study of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes
Ebbinghaus, S., ed. 2014. Ancient Bronzes through a Modern Lens: Introductory Essays on the Study of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Art Museums. Publisher's VersionAbstract

With contributions by Lisa M. Anderson, Francesca G. Bewer, Ruth Bielfeldt, Susanne Ebbinghaus, Katherine Eremin, Seán Hemingway, Henry Lie, Carol C. Mattusch, Josef Riederer, and Adrian Stähli.

This publication brings together prominent art historians, conservators, and scientists to discuss fresh approaches to the study of ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern works of bronze. Featuring significant bronzes from the Harvard Art Museums’ holdings as well as other museum collections, the volume’s eight essays present technical and formal analyses in a format that will be useful for both general readers and students of ancient art. The text provides an overview of ancient manufacturing processes as well as modern methods of scientific examination, and it focuses on objects as diverse as large-scale statuary and more utilitarian armor, vessels, and lamps. Filling a current gap in the art historical literature, this book offers a much-needed, accessible introduction to ancient bronzes.

Verso una poetica rituale
Yatromanolakis, D., and P. Roilos. 2014. Verso una poetica rituale. Lecce, Italia: Argo. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Il modello teorico di una poetica rituale proposta da D. Yatromanolakis e O. Roilos fonda una nuova problematica che si basa sulla inscrizione di forme rituali in più vasti sistemi d'espressione culturali e sociopolitici all'interno di varie tradizioni del mondo greco.
Il "caso greco", col suo materiale sterminato, contrassegnato da svariate continuità e discontinuità, spesso pieno di rimaneggiamenti ideologicamente ispirati nell'arco di tre millenni, offre un terreno certamente impegnativo ma fecondo per indagini comparative.
L'ipotesi è verificata in tre precisi ambiti di ricerca: Saffo e la lirica greca arcaica, il romanzo bizantino del XII secolo e l'opera poetica di Odysseas Elytis.

The Virgil Encyclopedia
Thomas, Richard F, and Jan M Ziolkowski, ed. 2014. The Virgil Encyclopedia. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 1600. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Virgil Encyclopedia is the first comprehensive reference volume to be published in English on Publius Vergilius Maro, the classical Roman poet whose works and thoughts have been at the center of Western literary, cultural, artistic, and pedagogical traditions for more than two millennia. Through more than 2,200 carefully researched entries, scholars and students alike are provided with an in-depth treatment of all aspects of Virgil’s poetry and his immeasurable influence that continues to the present day.

Le jardin dans l’Antiquité
Coleman, Kathleen, ed. 2014. Le jardin dans l’Antiquité. Vandoeuvres: Fondation Hardt. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Contents:

P. DUCREY, "Préface"
K. COLEMAN, "Melior's plane tree: an introduction to the ancient garden"
C. E. LOEBEN, "Der Garten im und am Grab - Götter in Gärten und Gärten für Götter: reale und dargestellte Gärten im Alten Ägypten"
S. DALLEY, "From Mesopotamian temples as sacred groves to the date-palm motif in Greek art and architecture"
E. PRIOUX, "Parler de jardin pour parler de créations littéraires"
R. TAYLOR, "Movement, vision, and quotation in the gardens of Herod the Great"
A. MARZANO, "Roman gardens, military conquests, and elite self-representation"
B. BERGMANN, "The concept of boundary in the Roman garden"
G. CANEVA, "Il giardino come espressione del divino nelle rappresentazioni dell'antica Roma"
R. L. FOX, "Early Christians and the gardens: image and reality"

Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium
Roilos, Panagiotis, ed. 2014. Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Written by eminent scholars in the field of Byzantine studies, the majority of the chapters included in Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium are revised versions of the papers that were presented at an international conference that Panagiotis Roilos organized at Harvard University in December 2009. The topics explored in the book cover an extensive chronological range of postclassical Greek culture(s) and literature, from early Christianity to early modern Greek literature, with a pronounced focus on the Byzantine period, as well as a variety of genres: hagiography, historiography, chronicles, “patriographic literature,” the novel, the epic, and philological commentary. One of the main aims of the book is to shift the focus of current scholarship on fictionality from those genres that are traditionally identified as “fictional,” such as the novel and the epic, to other literary discourses that lay claim to historical objectivity and veracity. By doing so, this volume as a whole sheds new light on the interpenetration of different, often apparently antithetical discursive categories and strategies and on the ensuing problematization of established demarcations between “historicity” and fictionality, as well as “objectivity” and imaginary arbitrariness, in diverse Byzantine literary and broader cultural contexts.

The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire
Kosmin, Paul J. 2014. The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 448. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Seleucid Empire (311–64 BCE) was unlike anything the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds had seen. Stretching from present-day Bulgaria to Tajikistan—the bulk of Alexander the Great’s Asian conquests—the kingdom encompassed a territory of remarkable ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity; yet it did not include Macedonia, the ancestral homeland of the dynasty. The Land of the Elephant Kings investigates how the Seleucid kings, ruling over lands to which they had no historic claim, attempted to transform this territory into a coherent and meaningful space.

Based on recent archaeological evidence and ancient primary sources, Paul J. Kosmin’s multidisciplinary approach treats the Seleucid Empire not as a mosaic of regions but as a land unified in imperial ideology and articulated by spatial practices. Kosmin uncovers how Seleucid geographers and ethnographers worked to naturalize the kingdom’s borders with India and Central Asia in ways that shaped Roman and later medieval understandings of “the East.” In the West, Seleucid rulers turned their backs on Macedonia, shifting their sense of homeland to Syria. By mapping the Seleucid kings’ travels and studying the cities they founded—an ambitious colonial policy that has influenced the Near East to this day—Kosmin shows how the empire’s territorial identity was constructed on the ground. In the empire’s final century, with enemies pressing harder and central power disintegrating, we see that the very modes by which Seleucid territory had been formed determined the way in which it fell apart.

Ludics in Surrealist Theatre and Beyond
Rapti, Vassiliki. 2013. Ludics in Surrealist Theatre and Beyond. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. Publisher's VersionAbstract
  • Taking as its point of departure the complex question about whether Surrealist theatre exists, this book re-examines the much misunderstood artistic medium of theatre within Surrealism, especially when compared to poetry and painting. This study reconsiders Surrealist theatre specifically from the perspective of ludics-a poetics of play and games-an ideal approach to the Surrealists, whose games blur the boundaries between the 'playful' and the 'serious.'

    Vassiliki Rapti's aims are threefold: first, to demystify André Breton's controversial attitude toward theatre; second, to do justice to Surrealist theatre, by highlighting the unique character that derives from its inherent element of play; and finally, to trace the impact of Surrealist theatre in areas far beyond its generally acknowledged influence on the Theatre of the Absurd-an impact being felt even on the contemporary world stage. Beginning with the Surrealists' 'one-into-another' game and its illustration of Breton's ludic dramatic theory, Rapti then examines the traces of this kind of game in the works of a wide variety of Surrealist and Post-Surrealist playwrights and stage directors, from several different countries, and from the 1920s to the present: Roger Vitrac, Antonin Artaud, Günter Berghaus, Nanos Valaoritis, Robert Wilson, and Megan Terry.
The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours
Nagy, Gregory. 2013. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, MA; London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The ancient Greeks’ concept of “the hero” was very different from what we understand by the term today, Gregory Nagy argues—and it is only through analyzing their historical contexts that we can truly understand Achilles, Odysseus, Oedipus, and Herakles.

In Greek tradition, a hero was a human, male or female, of the remote past, who was endowed with superhuman abilities by virtue of being descended from an immortal god. Despite their mortality, heroes, like the gods, were objects of cult worship. Nagy examines this distinctively religious notion of the hero in its many dimensions, in texts spanning the eighth to fourth centuries BCE: the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; songs of Sappho and Pindar; and dialogues of Plato. All works are presented in English translation, with attention to the subtleties of the original Greek, and are often further illuminated by illustrations taken from Athenian vase paintings.

The fifth-century BCE historian Herodotus said that to read Homer is to be a civilized person. In twenty-four installments, based on the Harvard University course Nagy has taught and refined since the late 1970s, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours offers an exploration of civilization’s roots in the Homeric epics and other Classical literature, a lineage that continues to challenge and inspire us today.

The Poetics of Consent: Collective Decision Making and the Iliad
Elmer, David F. 2013. The Poetics of Consent: Collective Decision Making and the Iliad. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Poetics of Consent breaks new ground in Homeric studies by interpreting the Iliad’s depictions of political action in terms of the poetic forces that shaped the Iliad itself. Arguing that consensus is a central theme of the epic, David Elmer analyzes in detail scenes in which the poem’s three political communities—Achaeans, Trojans, and Olympian gods—engage in the process of collective decision making.

These scenes reflect an awareness of the negotiation involved in reconciling rival versions of the Iliad over centuries. They also point beyond the Iliad’s world of gods and heroes to the here-and-now of the poem’s performance and reception, in which the consensus over the shape and meaning of the Iliadic tradition is continuously evolving.

Elmer synthesizes ideas and methods from literary and political theory, classical philology, anthropology, and folklore studies to construct an alternative to conventional understandings of the Iliad’s politics. The Poetics of Consent reveals the ways in which consensus and collective decision making determined the authoritative account of the Trojan War that we know as the Iliad.

L’Organisation des spectacles dans le monde romain
Coleman, Kathleen, and Jocelyne Nelis-Clément, ed. 2012. L’Organisation des spectacles dans le monde romain. Vandoeuvres: Fondation Hardt. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Contents:

Preface by P. DUCREY; Introduction by K. COLEMAN and J. NELIS-CLEMENT;J. NOLLE "Stadtprägungen des Ostens und die 'explosion agonistique': Überlegungen zu Umfang, Aussagen und Hintergründen der Propagierung von Agonen auf den Prägungen der Städte des griechischen Ostens"; O. M. VAN NIJF "Political games"; C. KOKKINIA "Games vs. buildings as euergetic choices"; M. L. CALDELLI "Associazioni di artisti a Roma: una messa a punto"; J-P. THUILLIER "L'organisation des ludi circenses: les quatre factions (République, Haut-Empire)"; R. WEBB "The nature and representation of competition in pantomime and mime"; G. CHAMBERLAND "La mémoire des spectacles: l'autoreprésentation des donateurs"; C. JONES "The organization of spectacle in Late Antiquity".

Virgil: Aeneid Book XII
Tarrant, Richard, ed. 2012. Virgil: Aeneid Book XII. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Book XII brings Virgil's Aeneid to a close, as the long-delayed single combat between Aeneas and Turnus ends with Turnus' death – a finale that many readers find more unsettling than triumphant. In this, the first detailed single-volume commentary on the book in any language, Professor Tarrant explores Virgil's complex portrayal of the opposing champions, his use and transformation of earlier poetry (Homer's in particular) and his shaping of the narrative in its final phases. In addition to the linguistic and thematic commentary, the volume contains a substantial introduction that discusses the larger literary and historical issues raised by the poem's conclusion; other sections include accounts of Virgil's metre, later treatments of the book's events in art and music, and the transmission of the text. The edition is designed for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students and will also be of interest to scholars of Latin literature.

Horace: Odes I V and Carmen Saeculare
Thomas, Richard F, ed. 2011. Horace: Odes I V and Carmen Saeculare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Carmen Saeculare was composed and published in 17 BCE as Horace was returning to the genre of lyric which he had abandoned six years earlier; the fourth book of Odes is in part a response to this poem, the only commissioned poem we know from the period. The hardening of the political situation, with the Republic a thing of the past and the Augustan succession in the air, threw the problematic issue of praise into fresh relief, and at the same time provided an impulse towards the nostalgia represented by the poet's private world. Professor Thomas provides an introduction and commentary (the first full commentary in English since the nineteenth century) to each of the poems, exploring their status as separate lyric artefacts and their place in the larger web of the book. The edition is intended primarily for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students, but is also important for scholars.

Imagination and Logos: Essays on C. P. Cavafy
Roilos, Panagiotis, ed. 2010. Imagination and Logos: Essays on C. P. Cavafy. Cambridge, MA: Department of the Classics, Harvard University. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This book explores diverse but complementary cross-disciplinary approaches to the poetics, intertexts, and impact of the work of C. P. Cavafy (Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis), one of the most influential twentieth-century European poets. Written by leading international scholars from a number of disciplines (critical theory, gender studies, comparative literature, English studies, Greek studies, anthropology, classics), the essays of this volume situate Cavafy’s poetry within the broader contexts of modernism and aestheticism, and investigate its complex and innovative responses to European literary traditions (from Greek antiquity to modernity) as well as the multifaceted impact of Cavafy and his writings on other major figures of world literature. 

Contributors: Eve Sedgwick, Helen Vendler, Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, Albert Henrichs, Richard Dellamora, Kathleen Coleman, Mark Doty, James Faubion, Diana Haas. 

Jacket image: The Smoker by Ioannis Roilos, reproduced by permission of the painter.

Indo-European Nominal Morphology:The Decads and the Caland System
Rau, Jeremy. 2009. Indo-European Nominal Morphology:The Decads and the Caland System. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beitr. zur Sprachwiss. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The following book presents two self-standing studies on IE nominal morphology that seek to expand the results of what we have learned in the last forty years and to map out new directions for future research. The first study tackles a long-standing crux in the system of the IE numerals, the original inflection behavior and derivational interrelations of the IE decad formulations. The second study focuses on a broader question in IE nominal morphology and investigates a phenomenon that has taxed the imagination of scholars for more than a century, the Caland system.

C. P. Cavafy: The Economics of Metonymy
Roilos, Panagiotis. 2009. C. P. Cavafy: The Economics of Metonymy. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Konstantinos P. Kavafis--known to the English-reading world as C. P. Cavafy--has been internationally recognized as an important poet and attracted the admiration of eminent literary figures such as E. M. Forster, F. T. Marinetti, W. H. Auden, George Seferis, and James Merrill. Cavafy's idiosyncratic poetry remains one of the most influential and perplexing voices of European modernism.

Focusing on Cavafy's intriguing work, this book navigates new territories in critical theory and offers an interdisciplinary study of the construction of (homo)erotic desire in poetry in terms of metonymic discourse and anti-economic libidinal modalities. Panagiotis Roilos shows that problematizations of art production, market economy, and trafficability of erôs in diverse late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European sociocultural and political contexts were re-articulated in Cavafy's poetry in new subversive ways that promoted an "unorthodox" discursive and libidinal anti-economy of jouissance.

Solomon and Marcolf
Ziolkowski, Jan M. 2008. Solomon and Marcolf. Cambridge, MA: Department of the Classics, Harvard University, 470. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Solomon and Marcolf enjoyed an extraordinary heyday in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Its first half constitutes a dialogue, mostly of one-liners, between King Solomon and a wily, earthy, and irreverent rustic named Marcolf, while its second recounts tricks that the peasant plays upon the ruler. Although less known than Till EulenspiegelSolomon and Marcolf was printed not only in Latin but also in German, English, Italian, and other European languages. Marcolf was associated closely with Aesop as well as with practical jokers and clowns in vogue in early modern literature. Today Solomon and Marcolf has notoriety from its mention in Gargantua and its analysis by Mikhail Bakhtin in Rabelais and His World.

Traditions about Solomon and Marcolf became widespread at the very latest by 1000, but perhaps centuries earlier. The Latin prose as it has been preserved is likely to have taken shape around 1200, but the earliest extant manuscript dates from 1410. Tantalizing bits of evidence point to connections between Marcolf and the Near East. Thus the contest with Marcolf was related to riddle competitions between King Solomon on the one hand and King Hiram of Tyre or the Queen of Sheba on the other.

Solomon and Marcolf, not put into English since 1492, is here presented with the Latin and a facing translation. In addition to a substantial introduction, the text comes with a detailed commentary that clarifies difficulties in language and identifies proverbial material and narrative motifs. The commentary is illustrated with reproductions of the woodcut illustrations from the 1514 printing of the Latin. The volume contains appendices with supplementary materials, especially sources, analogues, and testimonia; a bibliography; and indices.

Jan M. Ziolkowski is Director of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington and Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin at Harvard University.

Jacket illustration: Frontispiece of Collationes quas dicuntur fecisse mutuo rex Salomon sapientissimus et Marcolphus …, printed by Johann Weissenburger in Landshut, Germany, on May 14, 1514 (Munich, Staatsbibliothek, L.eleg.m.250, 9)

Nota Bene: Reading Classics and Writing Melodies in the Early Middle Ages
Ziolkowski, Jan M. 2007. Nota Bene: Reading Classics and Writing Melodies in the Early Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Nota Bene explores a little-known juxtaposition of verbal text and musical notation in the Middle Ages. This particular intersection deserves attention from those interested in music, the reception of classical Latin literature, the history of education, and the development of punctuation.

Between the late tenth century and the late twelfth century, the musical notation known as neumes was provided in dozens of manuscripts for, among other texts, a number of Horace's Odes as well as for sections of epics by Lucan, Statius, and Vergil. These materials constitute a paradoxical corpus of "classical poems in plainchant" that complicates our views of both how students learned Latin and what was being sung in an era most often associated with Gregorian chant. The book wrestles first with the literary-historical puzzle of why certain passages and not others were "neumed" and later with the ethnomusicological riddles of how, where, when, and by whom the passages were sung.

Fairy Tales From Before Fairy Tales: The Medieval Past of Wonderful Lies
Ziolkowski, Jan M. 2007. Fairy Tales From Before Fairy Tales: The Medieval Past of Wonderful Lies. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

When did fairy tales begin? What qualifies as a fairy tale? Is a true fairy tale oral or literary? Or is a fairy tale determined not by style but by content? To answer these and other questions, Jan M. Ziolkowski not only provides a comprehensive overview of the theoretical debates about fairy tale origins but includes an extensive discussion of the relationship of the fairy tale to both the written and oral sources. Ziolkowski offers interpretations of a sampling of the tales in order to sketch the complex connections that existed in the Middle Ages between oral folktales and their written equivalents, the variety of uses to which the writers applied the stories, and the diverse relationships between the medieval texts and the expressions of the same tales in the "classic" fairy tale collections of the nineteenth century. In so doing, Ziolkowski explores stories that survive in both versions associated with, on the one hand, such standards of the nineteenth-century fairy tale as the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Carlo Collodi and, on the other, medieval Latin, demonstrating that the literary fairy tale owes a great debt to the Latin literature of the medieval period.

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