Analytical Studies (TREDITION CLASSICS)


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Classics library Student Intranet Staff Intranet. It deals with the rather unsavoury suicide of the Caesarians in Lucan's Bellum Civile 4. With a moderate modifying reference to modern film theory Eldred succeeds in shifting the focus of former scholarship to a more balanced appreciation by analysing possible multiple, even contradicting identifications of the readers. According to Eldred this is an analogy to the political climate in the time of the Caesares where everything is directed to the benefit of the One for whom many have to die.

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Creusa, Anchises, Palinurus have to die for the "many", i. From my perspective two reservations remain: whenever the highly complex Bellum Civile is compared to the far from monochrome Aeneid , there is always the danger of Virgil-scholarship only warmed up.


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This fallacy could have been avoided by referring rather to the Roman devotio in general and its multifarious 'use' in the Bellum Civile. Furthermore the motif of the powerful and authoritative view is activated not only in regard to Caesar. Eldred postulates that one cannot surmise from the anarchically ambiguous Bellum Civile whether he meant it to be pro-republican or not or whatever.

This is perfectly true. In spite of these reservations, -- and this is a commonly observed trait of Lucan-scholarship, too -- Lucan's possible personal outlook has to sneak in in the end, and of course it can only be a politically correct one. Because the powerful controlling gaze is not restricted to Caesar alone, Eldred's final conclusions develops a declivitous tendency. In her innovative article Pamela Gordon brings together several loose threads in Lucretius-scholarship, and, after a detour to Tennyson's Lucretius , ends up in a "recuperative reading of Epicurean cultural history".

Her starting-point is the gendering of the Epicurean as "unmanly", as a "preacher of effeminacy" or "pervert professor" pp d.

Jon A. Weiland

Epicurean philosophers cannot survive outside the Garden. In the main part of her paper Gordon sketches the original Epicurean stance on pleasures and sexuality, which -- having travelled "from a Hellenistic context to late Republican Rome" p. In the second part of her paper she shows that in Lucretius' analysis of sexuality De rerum natura 4. Erotic desire is interpreted as standing for the futile searching of and grasping for pleasure, which also manifests itself in participating in the turmoil of public life.

In his scornful invective on sexuality Lucretius unmasks Roman vir-tus idealized masculinity in its darker dimensions of aggression and competition. By confirming rather than challenging "the dominant culture's suspicion about the deficient virility of the Epicurean male", he claims in the reverse the superiority of the culturally advanced Epicurean life-style.

Her object of analysis is eight reliefs now to be seen in the Palazzo Spada, probably from the time of Hadrian, found near St. Agnese fuori le mura. The coordinates of her interpretation are highly complex.

The first interpretative step is the forced analogy of rhetorical mnemotechnics and the supposed perception of pictures. Tertium comparationis is the imagined or real well-furnished house with ornate rooms, serving as an aide-memoire in rhetorics. This is likened to reading or arranging pictures in rooms of a real house according to different coordinates theme, formal aspects etc. The second step is the linking of the attitude to luxury in general and rhetorical style. Whereas in the Late Republic there was a negative discourse on luxury and the praise of simple, unaffected style prevailed, in the time of the Second Sophistic both were well accepted.

Because of this affinity of rhetorical practice and reading or displaying pictures, Newby does not draw on modern film theory but on two Greek treatises of the Second Sophistic, Lucian's De domo and Philostratus' Imagines. Several modes of juxtaposing, grouping and paralleling pictures according to thematic and formal criteria are discussed, together adding up to a sort of rhetoric of images.

Newby interprets the mythological Spada reliefs according to these parameters, grouping them into pairs or larger groups and highlighting their common formal and thematic elements. The alleged order and themes of the reliefs is seen as an expression of luxuria and social prestige of the Roman upper-class, indicating "their membership in an elite club whose badge was paideia " i. Greek culture, especially mythology.

The fact that Newby takes her interpretative coordinates from ancient texts does not lend more plausibility to her interpretation.

Stuart Hall and the Rise of Cultural Studies | The New Yorker

Because we don't know with certainty where the reliefs actually came from, who the owner of the house or the commissioner or the artists were, the argument must remain hypothetical. Even if the display of Greek culture was a form of expressing self-identity, the question remains whether Greek mythology could be labelled still only Greek after the time of the Early Principate, where Roman adaptations such as Ovid's Metamorphoses had lifted mythology to then new dimensions of interpretability.

One can never be sure of the degree of 'other-ness' experienced by the viewer when 'reading' these pictures and whether he was not reminded of Roman Latin literary versions of the stories 'told' by the reliefs. John R. Clarke, Look who is laughing at sex: Men and women viewers in the Apodyterium of the Suburban Baths at Pompeii Clarke, who has recently published a study in the same field, 6 analyses a certain set of erotic, if pornographic, pictures in the Suburban baths of Pompeii.

According to Clarke the images in question, though of doubtful artistic value, accompanied the visitors, male or female, from entering the bath to taking off their clothes. The depicted scenes, a pornographic ars amatoria , form a sort of climax, from unusual man-woman-intercourse to ever more 'perverse' forms of sexual 'behaviour'.

Clarke maintains that these pictures are designed so that men and women alike could laugh at them, therefore relieving the embarrassment of taking off one's clothes and of seeing and being seen naked. Questions remain: is it really possible that a designer or commissioner in Ancient Rome could have undertaken reflections of this depth and differentiation concerning the sexes' different perception of pornography?

Could there be and have there been other reactions to the pictures except laughing? And: What would the effect of these pictures be when seen more than once, even daily, whenever visiting the baths? Did the effect wear off? Did it change? Can we know? Of course, the inspiring muse of this brilliant article with its deliciously ambiguous title is the late Pierre Bourdieu, who by ethnologically looking at the social life of the Algerian Kabyles was able to develop his conceptual framework for the analysis of the society of contemporary France.

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Fundamental is Bourdieu's idea that the decreasing difference in economic respects consequently leads to an increasing differentiation in behaviour, manners, predilections, dress etc. Corbeill choses a time and a political situation congenial to Bourdieu's conceptual framework and looks at the behaviour and self-fashioning of the populares in the Late Republic, who in contrast to the senate-oriented optimates were a less strictly defined group, though certainly nobiles were prominently among them, too.

Among others, Caesar is the paradigm for using body and behaviour, 'fine distinctions' -- dress, hair-dressing, perfume, speech, excessive gestures, effeminate walk and a deliberate gender-blurring i. On the other hand homines novi like Cicero imitated dress and behaviour of the conservative class whose acceptance they yearned for. That Corbeill is not just superimposing modern sociology on Roman society and thereby re-projecting our contemporary society but is in harmony with observations from the interior of the Roman Society, can be inferred by Cicero's bewildered complaint in a letter to his friend Atticus 15,5.

Carlin Barton's engaged article is a tour d'horizon of shame, honour, looking and gaze in Ancient Rome. The multifarious associations and parallels taken from modern contexts such as philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature, movies etc. Indeed one is left with the question whether the phenomena described by Barton can be labelled as typically Roman even sensu definitionis given in footnote 13 or whether they can be observed in any given society, if only the focus is on the aspects in question.


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  7. For example, the connection of looking and sadism, letting others watch things horrible to them crops up in military or para-military contexts and totalitarian regimes of any time. The over-all effect is -- contrary to the authoress's intention -- that something like the notion of anthropological constants seems to emerge. The Roman material on the other hand is taken from contexts too different either in historical or generic perspective: literary characters preferably from Plautus' comedies appear next to ' real' historical figures.

    This 'zoom-effect', levelling different stages of development in Roman society, certainly is due to the fact that this article is an abstract of Barton's recently published study on the same topic. This is but the first step of a differentiated analysis of who in Roman society were the masters of this discourse on visibility and whether everybody subscribed to their restrictions.

    Yet, the material does not provide enough evidence to allow statements about missing or not missing "integrated psychic whole" or a "stable notion of the self" in Rome or conclusions unnecessarily idealising certain mechanisms of the male-dominated Roman society: that women were not visible in public in the way men were, might have been also honoris causa and a sign of respect, but the aspect of not taking part in public life and therefore not being in the position of decision and responsibility certainly prevailed.

    This fact given, it would be much more interesting to trace the subtle changes in Late Republic and Early Empire when women indeed attained a certain visibility -- e. David Fredrick convincingly re-defines the term 'penetration' in a broader sense than "in Foucault's model of ancient sexuality" 8 by viewing it "as a concerted action of economics, politics, gender and sexuality" p.

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