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Readers and Writers in the Ancient Novel

Readers and Writers in the Ancient Novel

Michael Paschalis
Stelios Panayotakis
Gareth Schmeling
Volume: 12
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Barkhuis
Pages: 286
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    Readers and Writers in the Ancient Novel
    Book Description:

    The present volume comprises most of the papers delivered at RICAN 4 in 2007. The focus is placed on readers and writers in the ancient novel and broadly in ancient fiction, though without ignoring readers and writers of the ancient novel. The papers offer a wide and rich range of perspectives: the reading of novels in antiquity as a process of active engagement with the text (Konstan); the dialogic character, involving writer and reader, of Lucian's Verae Historiae (Futre Pinheiro); book divisions in Chariton's Callirhoe as prompts guiding the reader towards gradual mastery over the text (Whitmarsh); polypragmosyne (curiosity) in ancient fiction and how it affects the practice of reading novels (Hunter); the intriguing relationship between the writing and reading of inscriptions in ancient fiction (Slater); the tension between public and private in constructing and reading of texts inserted in the novelistic prose (Nimis); the intertextual pedigree of the poet Eumolpus (Smith); Seneca's Claudius and Petronius' Encolpius as readers of Homer and Virgil and writers of literary scenarios (Paschalis); the ways in which some Greek novels draw the reader's attention to their status as written texts (Bowie); the interfaces between tellers and receivers of stories in Antonius Diogenes (Morgan); the generic components and the putative author of the Alexander Romance (Stoneman); Diktys as a writer and ways of reading his Ephemeris (Dowden); the presence and character of Iliadic intertexts in Apuleius' Metamorphoses (Harrison); the contrasting roles of the narrator-translator in Apuleius' Metamorphoses and De deo Socratis (Fletcher); seriocomic strategies by Roman authors of narrative fiction and fable (Graverini & Keulen); reading as a function for recognizing 'allegorical moments' in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius (Zimmerman); active and passive reading as embedded in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius; and the importance of book reading in Augustine's 'novelistic' Confessions (Hunink).

    eISBN: 978-94-91431-47-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    Schmeling Gareth
  4. Introduction
    (pp. IX-XVIII)
    Gareth Schmeling

    The theme of the present volume, ‘Readers and Writers in the Ancient Novel,’ gives the contributors to this book the freedom (intended by the organizers) to use their skills to tease out within the works of the genre new perspectives on readers and writers. While a large numbers of publications exist which deal with readers and writersofthe ancient novel, very few explorations have been made about readers and writersinthe ancient novel. Publishing the papers of RICAN 4 should go some way to correct that imbalance. The lively discussion of the papers in the academic setting at...

  5. The Active Reader and the Ancient Novel
    (pp. 1-17)
    David Konstan

    In a series of imaginative studies, Guglielmo Cavallo has argued that reading in the past was different from the way we moderns typically read: ‘The most usual way of reading in Byzantium was intensive reading…. Intensive reading was practiced as much by intellectuals, who often, and again and again, were bent over learned texts as they performed at the intersection of reading and writing, as by ordinary readers.’¹ Cavallo notes (18) that already in antiquity, grammarians and rhetoricians such as Dionysius Thrax (1,1,5-6) and Dionysius of Halicarnassus (On Imitation31,5,7) used the expressionsanagnôsis entribêsorepimelêsto designate an...

  6. Dialogues between Readers and Writers in Lucian’s Verae Historiae
    (pp. 18-35)
    Marília Futre Pinheiro

    If we can say that all literary discourse is a microcosm of varied languages and a convergence point of several voices, this obviously applies also to Lucian’sVerae Historiaetoo. If we assume that every literary text is the replica of a particular dialogue it holds with all texts that preceded it, we shall have to interpretA True Storyas a dialogic expression of a polyphonic discourse which embodies a wide range of topics, languages and styles organised in literary terms into a coherent whole.

    This dialogic principle was underlined by M. Bakhtin,¹ who defined the novel as a...

  7. Divide and Rule: Segmenting Callirhoe and Related Works
    (pp. 36-50)
    Tim Whitmarsh

    Unlike the Homeric poems after which their narratives are patterned, the Greek novels were designed to be circulated primarily in written form.¹ It is quite possible, indeed, that the novel represents the first new literary genre to be born into world in which the book, rather than oral performance, constitutes the primary medium for transmitting large-scale narrative. What evidence we have, indeed, suggests that the books in which the novels were housed were, at least by the second century, high-status affairs, beautifully calligraphed.² By this time, the material book was a prestige item, as Lucian’sUneducated bookbuyershows: fetishised not...

  8. The Curious Incident …: polypragmosyne and the Ancient Novel*
    (pp. 51-63)
    Richard Hunter

    There is always something slightly ‘voyeuristic’ about novel-reading, always the sense that we should not really be taking an interest in other people's affairs.¹ As is well known, both the novelist and his readers, concerned to discover ‘what is going on’, arecuriosiand/or πολυπράγμονες, and this paper will be concerned with exploring some of the ways in which the novelists exploit their, and their audience's, knowledge of this framework. My principal text will be, not one of the canonical ‘ideal’ novels, but rather theLife of Aesopwhich takes an explicit and repeated interest in social convention, whether that...

  9. Reading Inscription in the Ancient Novel
    (pp. 64-78)
    Niall Slater

    Inscriptions are a small but intriguing part of the polyphony of voices in the ancient novel. Sometimes they function as ‘reality effects,’ by their presence anchoring or at least tethering the action around them to a plausible picture of the contemporary or historical Graeco-Roman world. Other inscriptions, particularly ones in exotic settings or with riddling texts, could be said to function as ‘unreality effects,’ dramatizing the role of the heroic explorer and interpreter, who sees something in them that no one else can. With this type we see the balance of interest shifting to the reading, rather than the writing,...

  10. Cite and Sound: The Prosaics of Quotation in the Ancient Novel
    (pp. 79-90)
    Stephen Nimis

    This article looks at three examples of the inscription of voice in the novels from the standpoint of prosaics, an approach that focuses on the characteristics of the novels pertaining to their status asprose, understanding that term to mean a discourse organized not around the activity of a performer, but around the interpretive activity of a reader.¹ Prose can be thought of as the practice of processing utterances that belong to other performance genres, treating these utterances as ready-made elements that can be deployed in new combinations. These elements will be put into quotation marks in a prose discourse,...

  11. Eumolpus the Poet
    (pp. 91-101)
    Warren s. Smith

    The aging poet Eumolpus, a compulsive versifier with a compulsive sexual appetite, takes center stage the last half of the survivingSatyricaas storyteller, poet, actor, and con-man. This paper argues that Eumolpus fills the role as chief bard, storyteller, and master of entertainment, setting the mood in the last half of the novel much as Homeric bards set the mood for their households in theOdyssey.

    Eumolpus, whose name “good singer” is an advertisement for his talent, suggests the bards Phemius and Demodocus in theOdyssey, two poets also with significant names who attach themselves respectively to the households...

  12. Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis and Petronius’ Satyricon
    (pp. 102-114)
    Michael Paschalis

    In chapter 5 of Seneca’sApocolocyntosisit is announced to Jupiter that a weird character has arrived in heaven, who is shaking his head all the time and dragging his right leg and when asked about his nationality, replies in a confused, unintelligible language that is neither Greek nor Latin, nor of any known race. Jupiter orders Hercules, who was widely traveled and was thus expected to know all nations of the world, to go and find out who this character is. Hercules is shocked at the shape of this unusual fellow, his limping gait and his hoarse, inarticulate voice,...

  13. The Uses of Bookishness
    (pp. 115-126)
    Ewen Bowie

    This paper addresses some of the different ways in which the surviving texts of Greek novels recognise and make play with their textuality, their status as a book to be read, and directs its focus particularly uponThe Incredible things beyond Thuleof Antonius Diogenes and upon Longus’Daphnis and Chloe. It does so because these two texts appear to be much more interested than the others in flaunting their textuality. Of these other novels (which I briefly discuss first) those of Xenophon and Achilles give their readers no overt nudge to remind them that they are engaged in an...

  14. Readers writing Readers, and Writers reading Writers: Reflections of Antonius Diogenes
    (pp. 127-141)
    J. R. Morgan

    In a volume dedicated to readers and writers in the ancient novel, the lost novel of Antonius Diogenes, Τὰ ὑπὲρ Θούλην ἄπιστα, must hold some sort of pride of place. Not only do the acts of reading and writing, and of telling and listening to stories more generally, form a vital element of the text’s themes and structures, but, with the exception of few papyrus fragments,¹ the work is known to us only through the prism of its readers, whose responses to it are inseparable from our own understanding of it. We have the strange experience of reading a text...

  15. The Author of the Alexander Romance
    (pp. 142-154)
    Richard Stoneman

    TheAlexander Romance(AR) is one of the most influential works of Greek antiquity. This is a surprising fact. An assemblage of legends about Alexander (Al) constructed around a historical core, it is less believable than any of the better known historical accounts of Curtius, Diodorus, Justin or Arrian. It is an intriguing combination of genres: letters, rhetorical diatribes and set pieces, passages of prosimetrum (prose mixed with verse) and of choliambics (‘limping’ iambics), with two major insertions, the Christian work of PalladiusOn the Brahmansand theDeath and Testament of Alexander. Apparently lacking any literary unity, it has...

  16. Reading Diktys: The Discrete Charm of Bogosity
    (pp. 155-168)
    Ken Dowden

    Cretan shepherds, like characters from a Poussin painting, find an earthquake-shattered tomb and marvel at the skeleton now disclosed. Beneath the head, they discern a tin box. Inside lies no treasure but linden-bark rolls inscribed in Punic letters: this is the earliest surviving historical document, the diary (ephemeris) of Diktys¹ of Crete, his record of the Trojan War itself. Thus the text we read, the antiquity of the writer, indeed the writer himself, and an audience trying to make sense of events are inscribed in the opening tableau.

    Such is themise-en-scènefor what we view today as a sort...

  17. Apuleius and Homer: Some Traces of the Iliad in the Metamorphoses
    (pp. 169-183)
    Stephen Harrison

    The fundamental importance of Homeric allusion and intertextuality for the literary works of the Greek Second Sophistic is well established in modern scholarship;² equally firm is the agreement of scholars that theOdysseyis a key intertext for theMetamorphosesof Apuleius,³ who can plausibly be regarded as a participant in the sophistic literary revival working in the Latin-speaking West.⁴ This paper, continuing a series of studies on the interrelation of ancient epic and novel,⁵ looks at the neglected topic of the use of theIliadin Apuleius’Metamorphoses. It will be seen that theIliad, though it cannot rival...

  18. No Success like Failure: The Task of the Translator in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses
    (pp. 184-196)
    Richard Fletcher

    In a world of readers and writers, the translator is an unlikely hero. Fantastic tales of authorial adventures and readerly rites of passage, from Cervantes and Diderot to Blanchot and Auster, are bound to overshadow the drudgery of the ‘dull translator’.¹ Our world of the ancient novel is no exception, as proved by the tales told by my fellow contributors in this volume. Yet, amid such talk of readers and writers, allow me to introduce the heroic translatornarrator of Apuleius’Metamorphoses.

    Starting with the Prologue, Apuleius’ narrator offers up a retrospective account of his previous life as a (Greek) human...

  19. Roman Fiction and its Audience: Seriocomic Assertions of Authority
    (pp. 197-217)
    Luca Graverini and Wytse Keulen

    Regrettably, we have only a few testimonies by ancient readers of fiction; nevertheless, it is sufficiently clear that fiction – especially prose fiction – was not the kind of literary production that gained an author the highest respect. ¹ This was true both in Greece and in Rome, but in Rome the issue was further complicated by the typical Roman prejudice against what is not at least partially ‘useful’.² So, it is only too natural that Roman authors of fiction felt the urge to reassure their audience that their efforts (both the authors’ and the readers’) were not pointless, and...

  20. ‘Food for Thought’ for Readers of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass
    (pp. 218-240)
    Maaike Zimmerman

    ‘Homer has been changed for us by Virgil and Milton, who have left their traces in his text and thereby enabled new possibilities of meaning’.

    Thus Charles Martindale.¹ Martindale writes on Latin poetry, but his book offers insights that are helpful for understanding the reception of Apuleius’ prose text as well. His concept of the Chain of Receptions is particularly enlightening:

    ‘…our current interpretations of ancient texts, whether or not we are aware of it, are, in complex ways, constructed by the chain of receptions through which their continued readability has been effected.’²

    In the chain of receptions of Apuleius’...

  21. To Reason and to Marvel: Images of the Reader in the Life of Apollonius
    (pp. 241-253)
    Jean-Philippe Guez

    The subject of this study is the experience of reading theLife of Apollonius(henceforth LA). Due to the uncertain fictional status of Philostratus’ book, it can be acknowledged that this experience is quite uncomfortable: when we read theLA, we find it difficult to decide what kind of belief – factual or fictional – is expected of us. This book is, in other words, an exemplary case of the challenges posed by ‘interpretive cooperation’¹ between the text and the reader. What do we need to do, in order for the text to work? What role are we supposed to...

  22. Hating Homer, Fighting Virgil: Βooks in Augustine’s Confessions
    (pp. 254-267)
    Vincent Hunink

    The title of this paper implies some exceptional criticism of two of the most famous poets of antiquity. The work in which this can be found is itself one of the masterpieces of ancient literature, theConfessionsby St. Augustine, commonly considered to be the first great autobiography of antiquity.¹

    There is, inevitably, a first, major point of debate here: can this work be studied at all in the context of the ancient novel, fictional as the novel is?² In the first part of my paper, I will deal with this important question. I will then move on to some...

  23. Abstracts
    (pp. 268-279)
  24. Indices
    (pp. 280-286)