Narrative and Identity in the Ancient Greek Novel: Returning Romance (Greek Culture in the Roman World)

Narrative and Identity in the Ancient Greek Novel: Returning Romance (Greek Culture in the Roman World)

Tim Whitmarsh

Language: English

Pages: 313


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Greek romance was for the Roman period what epic was for the Archaic period or drama for the Classical: the central literary vehicle for articulating ideas about the relationship between self and community. This book offers a reading of the romance both as a distinctive narrative form (using a range of narrative theories) and as a paradigmatic expression of identity (social, sexual and cultural). At the same time it emphasises the elasticity of romance narrative and its ability to accommodate both conservative and transformative models of identity. This elasticity manifests itself partly in the variation in practice between different romancers, some of whom are traditionally Hellenocentric while others are more challenging. Ultimately, however, it is argued that it reflects a tension in all romance narrative, which characteristically balances centrifugal against centripetal dynamics. This book will interest classicists, historians of the novel and students of narrative theory.

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Wandering Poets in Ancient Greek Culture: Travel, Locality and Pan-Hellenism





















(1962); a similar exemption is made by Merkelbach’s student Remi Petri (1963). 28 Part i Returning romance (alone of gods) is prayed to in the expectation that she will influence events.18 Elsewhere she is reproached for her actions.19 On rare occasions, she is directly credited with ‘governing’ (politeuesthai) the plot, by arranging marriages.20 At the beginning of the final book, in a passage to which we shall return more than once, she is said to have overruled the plans of Tukh¯e (here in

narratorial circumstances: H¨agg (1971) 125; Morgan (2004d) 495. Lightfoot (2003) 299. 53 –moª Foin©kh g”nov, 1.3.1. Transforming romance 81 his name and cultural vocabulary are entirely Greek.54 The word ‘barbarian’ in his mouth always carries negative associations.55 At one point, notably, he tells Leucippe the familiar story of Philomela, laying particular emphasis upon the ethical superiority of Greeks over barbarians (5.5.2–3, at 2). His reference points, like those of his cousin

Giangrande (1962) (prose paraphrases); S. West (2003) (women’s tales). Introduction 7 the cultural context of imperial Greece.23 These contextualising readings fall, broadly, into three different camps: (i) The first, emphasising the role of ‘private’ emotions and selfhood, sees the romance as the expression of a general reorientation away from the public sphere towards the inner person. Sometimes this is expressed in terms of a supposed transformation in civic culture: Greeks, it is claimed,

communities are invisible, their relationships with their parents remain important. Initially, both have seen their parents as impediments to their desire, and have hence willingly escaped from home.44 The second half of the romance, however, effects a gradual reconciliation with the parents.45 Desire is anchored here in familial identity, and in the restoration of parent–child relations. But never does either Leucippe or Clitophon take any decision that is said to be motivated by desire for

paradox of chaste desire, a desire that denies its own desiring, derives from Heliodorus’ fusion of the romance paradigm with contemporary sexual ethics (which are themselves built on the kind of pothophobia we have seen in Stoicism and Epicureanism). The Roman world of the third and fourth centuries witnessed the emergence of radical dogma focusing upon the relationship of an individual to her or his body. In Christian asceticism, as Peter Brown has argued, sexuality becomes the privileged locus

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