Greek Literature Research Paper

Working Papers by Subject - Greek Literature

021205Against Ornament: O.M. Freidenberg’s Concept of Metaphor in Ancient and Modern Contexts
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: Application of the neglected developmental theories of Olga M. Freidenberg (regarding “metaphorization”) to the poetry of Pindar. Originally delivered at a conference on Historical Poetics (Chicago, May 2011), it will appear in a revised version in the proceedings of that event.

021204The Myth before the Myth Began
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: An extension of earlier studies on the semantics of muthos, with attention to the language and perspectives of early Greek mythographers. Various mediated forms of story-telling about the mythical and historical past, orally and in written form, are examined. [Forthcoming, Proceedings of UCLA Conference on Mythography (April 2009) ]

021203Distant Landmarks: Homer and Hesiod
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: The techniques of the Hellenistic epic poem as seen from the perspective of archaic Greek poetry. A revised version of this essay will appear in the Cambridge Companion to Apollonius (edit J. Murray and C. Schroeder).

021202Apolo, el ejecutante
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: Originally a talk delivered at the colloquium Mito y Performance (De Grecia a la Modernidad) at the University of La Plata, Argentina (June 2009), this paper explores the relationship between the Homeric hymns to Hermes and Apollo regarding the representation of their respective protagonists as players of the kithara or lyre. The ideology of the mousikoi agones at Delphi and in the Athenian Panathenaia are found to underlie these images. The paper has now been published in the volume Mito y performance edit. A.M. González de Tobia et al. (La Plata, 2009).

021201Le Silence au pays du Mythos
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: An analysis of words for sound and for silence leads to close reading of a number of passages in Pindar, followed by new suggestions for reading controverted passages in Nemean 7. This paper was given at the colloquium Sagesse et silence at the Sorbonne in June 2011 and will appear in a volume resulting from that event.

011203Writing Alexandria as the (Common)place
Susan Stephens, Stanford University
Abstract - The interactions between Greece and the East in fictional narrative remains problematic, because however scrupulous our attempts to disambiguate the 'Greece' interacting with the East, or to insist on Greek regional and temporal pluralities, the simple fact of one language versus many undercuts good intentions. Anyone writing in Greek (whatever his native language, cultural traditions, or time of composition) must have had a Greek education. This means exposure to and de facto absorption of the same but quite limited number of texts and the values thus encoded. As a result, a more or less unified set of assumptions are attached to writing a narrative in Greek -- whether we want to imagine this as a full-blown paideia, or simply an inevitable cultural shorthand. If we shift our focus to a non-Greek perspetive, a more useful question might be: what aspects of our non-Greek partners within the contact zone appear in Greek narratives (writ large), and to what extent are these narratives typical of the narrqtive foctions of that partner? In what follows I pursue this line of thought with focus on one 'East' -- Egypt -- by considering first how Egyptians represent themselves in their own fictions before discussing the intricate levels of reception of these Egyptians within the milieux of Greek writing from Herodotus to the novels.

011202Writing Alexandria as the (Common)place
Susan Stephens, Stanford University
Abstract - In 333 BC Alexandria did not exist. The transition from a place devoid of cultural significance (for Greeks) to the first city of the Mediterranean was not just a matter of a few buildings or some Greek immigrants. The making of place is central to the process of identity formation, which is in turn integral to the construction of social orer. Place-making requires a sense of shared and evolving history—a past, present, and future that is commonly encoded in genealogies; investment in common myths and rituals; and social hierarchies that both inform and are informed by the specific landscape. For this process of place-making, it follows that poets would play an important role both as repositories for, and as artificers of, cultural memory. This paper discusses how Callimachus helps to create the cultural memory of ancient Alexandria in this poetry.

101101Poetics of Repetition in the Frogs in the 'Frogs'
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Abstract: A reading of the parodos and the frog chorus of Frogs that argues they express a coherent, anthropologically inflected (and Aristophanic) view about the origins and nature of song. It is also argued that what we suppose to be distinct choruses of frogs and initiates are in fact one and the same. This study of comic lyric is a counterpart to my “’A Song to Match my Song’: Lyric Doubling in Euripides’ Helen,” in Allusion, Authority, and Truth: Critical Perspectives on Greek Poetic and Rhetorical Praxis, ed. P. Mitsis and C. Tsigalos (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010). See my

081103The Function of Criticism ca. 432 BC: Texts and interpretations in Plato’s 'Protagoras'
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Abstract: Plato’s Protagoras is a unique text in the history of criticism, the only extended example of practical poetic criticism that we have from classical Greece. This long passage (338E-347C) shows a group of fifth-century intellectual luminaries debating the meaning of a dense lyric poem by Simonides: the text is quoted at length and its language examined closely and methodically and wildly. My paper first attempts to pinpoint how this passage — often written off as a parody or a joke or misunderstood as a simplistic polemic against “sophistry” — fits into the work. I argue that Plato is more serious here than is usually supposed, and that the passage gives his best account of uses and limits of literary criticism. In a coda, I consider an analysis of the passage by Glenn Most, which suggests some reflections on recent developments in academic literary criticism.
This paper replaces 120501 originally posted in December 2005.

111001Identity Theft: Masquerades and Impersonations in the Contemporary Books of Cassius Dio
Maud W. Gleason, Stanford University
Abstract - The contemporary books of Cassius Dio’s Roman History are known (to the extent that they are read) for their anecdotal quality and lack of interpretive sophistication. This paper aims to recuperate another layer of meaning for Dio’s anecdotes by examining episodes in his contemporary books that feature masquerades and impersonation. It suggests that these themes owe their prominence to political conditions in Dio’s lifetime, particularly the revival, after a hundred-year lapse, of usurpation and damnatio memoriae, practices that rendered personal identity problematic. The central claim is that narratives in Dio’s last books use masquerades and impersonation to explore paradoxes of personal identity and signification, issues made salient by abrupt changes of social position at the highest levels of imperial society.
This paper replaces (110901) originally published in November 2009. It has now been published in Classical Antiquity 30 (2011), pp. 33-86.

051002CHAPTER 1 of The City-State Commensurate: Plato and Pythagorean Political Philosophy: “Aristotle’s Description of Mathematical Pythagoreanism in the 4th Century BCE”
Philip Sidney Horky, Stanford University
Abstract: Scholars of the history of ancient philosophy have been hesitant to attribute particular characteristics to those Pythagoreans called “mathematical” by Aristotle. Aristotle himself,to be sure, not only felt it important to distinguish this type of Pythagorean from the more traditional “acousmatic” type, but he also invested in this distinction the basic tenets of his own philosophical methodology regarding the pursuit of knowledge from first principles. In this chapter, I describe the philosophical system (pragmateia) of the mathematical Pythagoreans by analyzing and comparing the accounts of Pythagoreanism in both the surviving treatises of Aristotle (especially Metaphysics) and the fragmentary works on the Pythagoreans preserved in Iamblichus’ On the General Mathematical Science and On the Pythagorean Way of Life. This is the newest version of the first chapter of a book-length study in which I describe the philosophical and political history of the mathematical Pythagoreans and their influence on Plato’s later thought.

021002'Epideixis' versus elenchus: The epirrhematic agon and the politics of Aristophanes’ 'Frogs'
Foivos Karachalios, Stanford University
Abstract - This paper proposes a particular interpretation of the epirrhematic agon between Euripides and Aeschylus in Aristophanes’ Frogs, namely that Euripides’ epirrheme constitutes a rhetorical display (epideixis), whereas Aeschylus’ involves a question-and-answer approach with elements that resemble the Socratic elenchus. This interpretation is then employed toward a broader understanding of the politics of this play, including the final judgment of Dionysus. I argue that Euripides is consistently depicted as a disruptive force in the life of the community in both cultural and political terms, so that his eventual rejection signifies concern for communal cohesion in a time of crisis for Athens.

110901Identity Theft: Masquerades and Impersonations in the Contemporary Books of Cassius Dio
Maud W. Gleason, Stanford University
Revised November 2010. See entry 111001.

090907Mythical inversions and history in Bacchylides 5
Foivos Karachalios, Stanford University
Abstract - The purpose of this paper is first to suggest that the mythical section of Bacchylides 5 is governed by a certain literary strategy, namely the inversion of social and literary norms pertaining to gender as well as the heroic ideal. Second, by looking at the historical context of the ode I venture to demonstrate that, as presented in the mythical section, the key inversion of external into internal war might have had a concrete meaning for the laudandus, Hieron of Syracuse.

090906Rudolf Pfeiffer. A Catholic Classicist in the Age of Protestant "Altertumswissenschaft"
Christian Kaesser, Stanford University
Abstract: The basic question this paper addresses is the way in which Catholic classicist in Germany’s south and Catholics in general reacted to Wolf’s Altertumswissenschaft, which was inspired by Prussia’s ‘Kulturprotestantismus’, developed by Protestant scholars, and tied to the institutions of Protestant Prussia. It approaches the question through a case study of Rudolf Pfeiffer, who was one of very few Catholic classicists who flourished within the institutional framework of Altertumswissenschaft. It identifies unique features in Pfeiffer’s scholarship in comparison to his Protestant colleagues and examines the extent to which they can be explained by his Catholic upbringing and the tradition of studying Classics it inspired.

090802Causes and Cases. On the Aetiologies of Aetiological Elegies
Christian Kaesser, Stanford University
Abstract: The paper examines why at the beginning of Callimachus’ Aitia, in Propertius 4.1, and more indirectly in the proem to Ovid’s Fasti there appear literary critics (the Telchines, Horus, and Augustus), who charge the aetiological poet for the quality of his work. It points out that these charges, when translated into Greek, are aitiai, and that the poets’ defenses, when translated into Latin, are causae. It argues that the function of these proems is to present the poet as the cause of his poem. It is also interested in the way Propertius and Ovid adapt Callimachus’ Greek conceit to the different cultural and linguistic context of Rome.

070801Making Space for Bicultural Identity: Herodes Atticus Commemorates Regilla
Maud W. Gleason, Stanford University
Abstract: Herodes and Regilla built a number of installations during their marriage, some of which represented their union in spatial terms. After Regilla died, Herodes reconfigured two of these structures, altering their meanings with inscriptions to represent the marriage retrospectively. This paper considers the implications of these commemorative installations for Herodes’ sense of cultural identity.
This paper has now been published in Local Knowledge and Microidentities in the Imperial Greek World (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

060802Vergil Translates Aratus: Phaenomena 1-2 and Georgics 1.1.2
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - This paper demonstrates that Vergil engages in a kind of verbal one-upmanship with Aratus by opening his Georgics with a multifaceted—and till now entirely overlooked—example of wordplay that is directly indebted to Aratus’ “signature” at the start of the Phaenomena. In all sorts of ways, terram / uertere is a "translation" of ἐῶμεν / ἄρρητον.
This paper has now been published in Materiali e Discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici 60 (2008), pp. 105-23.

060801Etymology (A Linguistic Window onto the History of Ideas)
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - This short essay for a volume on the classical tradition aims to give a basic, lively account of the forms and development of etymological practice from antiquity to the present day.
This paper has now been published in The Classical Tradition, ed. Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most, & Salvatore Settis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), pp. 342-45.

120701Footrace, Dance, and Desire: The χορός of Danaids in Pindar’s Pythian 9
Micah Y. Myers, Stanford University
Abstract - This paper offers a new interpretation of Pindar’s Pythian 9.112-16, which relates the story of Danaos marrying off his forty-eight daughters. Previously, these lines have been understood as describing a footrace by the daughter’s suitors to determine which suitor would marry which daughter. By reanalyzing Pindar’s diction I suggest that this passage also depicts Danaos’ daughters in the marked terms of choral performance. This interpretation not only matches the representation of the Danaids as a performing chorus in Phyrnicus’ Danaids and Aeschylus’ Suppliants, but it also further illuminates the way desire permeates and organizes this particular Pindaric ode.
This paper replaces version 1 (080702) originally posted in August 2007.
This paper has been published as follows: Myers, M. (2007) “Footrace, Dance, and Desire: The χορός of Danaids in Pindar’s Pythian 9.” SIFC 5.2: 230-47.

080702Footrace, Dance, and Desire: The χορός of Danaids in Pindar’s Pythian 9
Micah Y. Myers, Stanford University
Revised December 2007. See entry 120701.

070703Dux reget examen (Epistle 1.19.23): Horace’s Archilochean Signature
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - This paper compares Horace the Honeybee to his iambic predecessor Archilochus the Wasp. In particular, I argue that a hitherto unrecognized way in which Horace promotes himself as the Italicus Archilochus is through his “signature” [qui sibi fidet, /] dux reget examen (Epistle 1.19.23) ‘[Who trusts himself] will rule the swarm as leader’ — an innovative Latin calque on the Greek name Arkhí-lokhos, literally “Rule-swarm.”
This paper has now been published in Materiali e Discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici 59 (2007), pp. 207-13.

070702The Origin of the Greek Pluperfect
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - The origin of the pluperfect is the biggest remaining hole in our understanding of the Ancient Greek verbal system. This paper provides a novel unitary account of all four morphological types — alphathematic, athematic, thematic, and the anomalous Homeric form 3sg. ēídē ‘knew’ — beginning with a “Jasanoff-type” reconstruction in Proto-Indo-European, an “imperfect of the perfect.”
This paper has now been published in Die Sprache 46 (2006, publ. 2008), pp. 1-37.

070701The Epic Adventures of an Unknown Particle
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - This paper, a mini-"Autour de ‘ταρ épique’," is above all a contribution to the study of Homeric formulas and compositional technique. I give an overview and expand our understanding of the under-appreciated Homeric particle tar, whose Cuneiform Luvian cognate Calvert Watkins discovered over a decade ago and whose essential Greek-ness M. L. West accepts in his Teubner edition of the Iliad; demonstrate on linguistic and stylistic grounds that tar is part of the conjunction autár but not of the semantically similar near-look-alike atár; and explain why this unstressed and almost unknown monosyllable is of unexpectedly wide interest, being not just a bit of Homeric and Indo-European linguistic trivia, but an important rhetorical device in the description of ancient Greek ritual.
This paper has been published in Greek and Latin from an Indo-European Perspective, ed. Coulter George, Matthew McCullaugh, Benedicte Nielsen, Antonia Ruppel, & Olga Tribulato (Cambridge, Cambridge Philological Society, 2007), pp. 65-79.

060702A Dove and a Nightingale: Mahābhārata 3.130.18-3.131.32 and Hesiod, Works and Days 202-13
A. T. Zanker, Princeton University
Abstract - The Hesiodic Fable of The Hawk and the Nightingale remains a scholarly problem, but perhaps light can be shed on it by stepping outside the Greek tradition and comparing it with a story from the Indic Mahābhārata that involves not merely a hawk and a dove, but also a king who protects the latter.
This paper has now been published in Philologus 1531 (2009), pp. 10-25.

050703Literary Quarrels
Susan Stephens, Stanford University
Abstract - Scholars have long noted Platonic elements or allusions in Callimachus' poems, particularly in the Aetia prologue and the 13th Iambus that center on poetic composition. Following up on their work, Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan Stephens, in a recent panel at the APA, and in papers that are about to appear in Callimachea II. Atti della seconda giornata di studi su Callimaco (Rome: Herder), have argued not for occasional allusions, but for a much more extensive influence from the Phaedo and Phaedrus in the Aetia prologue (Acosta-Hughes) and the Protagoras, Ion, and Phaedrus in the Iambi (Stephens). These papers are part of a preliminary study to reformulate Callimachus' aesthetic theory. Included herein is Benjamin Acosta-Hughes' "The Cicala's Song: Plato in the Aetia."

050702Remapping the Mediterranean: The Argo adventure Apollonius and Callimachus
Susan Stephens, Stanford University
Abstract - This paper was written for Culture in Pieces, a Festschrift in honor of Peter Parsons. Callimachus and Apollonius were poets writing in Alexandria, a newly established Greek city on the north east coast of Africa that lacked defining narratives of space, indigenous gods and heroes, or founding families. I argue that both poets turned to the legend of the Argonauts to link Libya and Egypt with Greece as a strategy in crafting a legitimating myth for the Ptolemaic occupation of Egypt. The textual argument focuses on the gift of a clod of Libyan earth to one of the Argonauts in Pindar’s Pythian 4 and at end of the Argonautica, and the Argonaut fragments at the beginning of Callimachus’ Aetia.

050701Read on Arrival
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: The poetics of traveling poets are analyzed with the help of evidence from Greece (6thc BCE to 6th c CE), West Africa, and Ireland. A detailed explication of Aristophanes Birds 904-957 is used to explore further the tropes used by bards and rules of interaction with poeti vaganti. The Lives of Homer tradition is shown to match up with descriptions of cognate poetic performances (Greek and other) in this regard.
This paper has now been published in The Wandering Poets of Ancient Greece, R. Hunter and I. Rutherford (eds.). Cambridge, 2009.

040701Golden Verses: Voice and Authority in the Tablets
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: This paper attempts to read the gold “Orphic” tablets found in tombs from Thessaly to Sicily against the background of Homeric epic. It introduces the notion of “speech type-scene” and draws conclusions, from the deployment of formulae and pragmatic situations, about the “voice” one is supposed to hear behind the tablet texts. It was originally delivered as a paper at the Ohio State University conference Ritual Texts for the Afterlife (April 2006), organized by Fritz Graf and Sarah Iles-Johnston.

030702Religion in the Ancient Novel
Froma I. Zeitlin, Princeton University
Abstract - This chapter of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to the Ancient Novel, ed. Tim Whitmarsh, (2007) surveys the pervasive presence of religion and the sacred in the extant Greek and Roman novels and addresses the much discussed issues of its roles and functions, with an emphasis on the challenges the topic poses to the interpretation of the genre's core erotic ideology. It also explores instances of the fictional imagination at work in absorbing, modifying, and creatively refining a few selected religious elements.
This paper has now been published as "Religion" in Tim Whitmarsh, ed. Companion to the Greek and Roman Novel, Cambridge Univerity Press, 2008. pp 91-108.

030701A Narrator of Wisdom. Characterization through gnomai in Achilles Tatius.
Koen De Temmerman, Stanford University
Abstract: This paper contributes to the study of characterization in Achilles Tatius by offering an analysis of the many gnomai or “wisdom sayings” in this ancient Greek novel. After having illustrated the importance of gnomai in literary characterization with some examples from the text, I argue that a close reading of the gnomai in Clitophon’s narrator text and character text raises questions about Clitophon’s reliability as a narrator. Whereas Clitophon uses gnomai to portray himself as an expert in erotic affairs before his narratee in Sidon, the gnomai used by the protagonist and other characters within the story suggest that, as a character in his own story, Clitophon does not assume the authoritative position that he claims to have in this field.

110602Performance, Text, and the History of Criticism
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Abstract: I argue that the study of ancient criticism is unduly narrow unless it combines an awareness of the materiality of culture—of the forms in which literary texts were produced, circulated, stored up, and accessed—with an appreciation for how strongly performance traditions could shape the reception and valuation of such texts. To illustrate, I analyze the 25th chapter of Aristotle’s Poetics to show that the theory behind “Problems and Solutions” was less significant culturally than the many-formed game of using poets in ethical debate. Also included is a brief overview of work since Vol. 1 of the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism (edited by George Kennedy in 1989) that fruitfully confronts the idea of the work of art as text with the reality of the work of art as performance.

110601Die Katharsis im sokratischen Platonismus (Katharsis in Socratic Platonism)
Christian Wildberg, Princeton University
Abstract - In this paper, written in German, I am exploring the concept of purification (katharsis) in early Platonic dialogues. The evidence suggests that this variant of katharsis, which possesses a marked cognitive dimension, might well have Socratic roots. More importantly, however, its serves as a useful backdrop for an understanding of Aristotle's enigmatic conception of dramatic katharsis as broached in the Poetics. Modern discussions of the latter have so far largely ignored the Socratic-Platonic precursor, with which Aristotle was undoubtedly familiar.

090607Simplicius und das Zitat Zur Überlieferung des Anführungszeichens
Christian Wildberg, Princeton University
Abstract - This paper was published in a somewhat inaccessible Festschrift for Dieter Harlfinger. Taking the lead from an obscure passage in Simplicius, which can only be understood if the quotation marks in the medieval manuscripts are taken into account, the paper surveys the usage of quotation marks in the medieval in extant papyri and some manuscripts. The evidence suggests that quotation marks and other signs of interpunctuation were widely used in late antiquity, and that it is a mistake of editors of texts written in late antiquity to ignore such marks if and when they appear in the manuscript tradition. The paper observes in passing that the famous "Sentence of Anaximander" is not marked as a direct quotation is the extant Simplicius-manuscripts.

090606Herodotus and the Poets
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Abstract: This is an attempt to describe Herodotus’ relation to Greek poets, both as historical sources and as “cultural capital.” It is a brief discussion (1500 words) written for a general audience; but it may be of interest as raising a matter not often considered outside of the excellent and long study by Ph.-E. Legrand in Vol. 1 of the Budé Hérodote (pp. 147 ff.).

090605THE GENRE OF GENRES: Paeans and Paian in Early Greek Poetry
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
No longer available as a working paper. This is now published in the journal Poetica 38/3-4 (2006) pp. 277-296.

090604From “Socratic logoi” to “dialogues”: Dialogue in Fourth-century Genre Theory
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Abstract: This paper argues that we can only have a just appreciation of the rise and early development of philosophic dialogue in Greece by bracketing the immense influence that the Platonic version of the form has exerted and turning instead to tracing how “Socratic logoi” came to be recognized as a new prose genre in fourth-century Athens. A consideration of the early terms used to name the form suggests that dialogue should not be derived from fifth-century mime or drama but should be understood in the context of the burgeoning rhetorical literature of the period; in particular, dialogue will be shown to be one of many innovative kinds of fictional speech-texts that were proclaiming new and special powers for written prose.

050601Saving the Appearances: The Phenomenology of Epiphany in Atomist Theology
Jacob L. Mackey, Princeton University
Abstract: In this paper I propose an approach to Epicurean theology that avoids the stalemate of "realist" and "idealist" interpretations. I argue that Epicurean theology is more phenomenological than metaphysical, its purpose less to ground and justify dogmatic commitment to whatever form of existence the gods may enjoy than to account for a prevalent aspect of ancient religious experience, epiphany, and to assimilate that experience to Epicurean philosophical therapeia. In the process I reconstruct and reassess the equally epiphanic theology of Democritus that forms a source for Epicurus' theological thought. His theology has also been unprofitably construed by modern scholars as a reductive dismissal of the gods as mere psychological effects or manifest fictions. Instead, Democritus was at least as accommodating of the phenomena of religious experience as Epicurus: his own theology is likewise founded on epiphany and he too attempts a therapeutic analysis of its attendant effects.

030601On not forgetting the “Literatur” in “Literatur und Religion”: Representing the Mythic and the Divine in Roman Historiography
Denis Feeney, Princeton University
Abstract: Against recent attempts to argue that generic distinctions between history and other forms are not particularly relevant to analysis of how the divine is represented, this paper argues that generic distinctions are important from Herodotus on. History has its own distinctive discursive practices, however inventively historians work on the margins with other genres such as epic and tragedy.
This paper has now been published in A. Bierl, R. Lämmle and K. Wesselmann (eds.), Literatur und Religion: Wege zu einer mythisch-rituellen Poetik bei den Griechen Vol 2 (Berlin, 2007), pp. 173-202.

120517Arrian the Personal Historian
Kyle Lakin, Stanford University
Abstract: Current scholarship ignores the personal nature of the second preface of Arrian's Anabasis. This preface reveals that the Anabasis can be read as a work about Arrian's own personal identity. Arrian's biographical history allows us to speculate that his identity was in flux throughout his life. By understanding the Anabasis as Arrian's way to claim to be a Greek, we can better interpret his characterization of Alexander.

120512The Palaikastro Hymn and the modern myth of the Cretan Zeus
Mark Alonge, Stanford University
Abstract: The Palaikastro Hymn—better known as the Hymn of the Kouretes—does not celebrate a god of pre-Hellenic pedigree, who is Zeus in name only, as scholars have believed with virtual unanimity. Rather, an understanding of the conventions of Greek hymnic performance in its ritual context goes far to elucidating many of the ostensibly peculiar features of the Hymn. Moving out from Palaikastro, in eastern Crete, to survey the island as a whole, I show that the Cretan iconographic and epigraphic records contradict the widely accepted theory of a special, Minoan “Cretan Zeus.”

120511Military and political participation in archaic-classical Greece
Ian Morris, Stanford University
Abstract - In this paper I examine the “bargaining hypothesis” about democracy by calculating nd political participation ratios in Greece (MPR and PPR). I find that high (>10%) MPR coincided with high PPR, but was only one path toward state formation. Except in extreme situations like the Persian invasion of 480, high MPR and PPR depended on specific patterns of capital accumulation and concentration. In situations of high capital concentration rulers could substitute high spending for high MPR and PPR, preserving desirable social arrangements. Through time, the importance of capital concentrations grew. War made states and states made war in ancient Greece, as in early-modern Europe, but in different ways.

120510The collapse and regeneration of complex society in Greece, 1500-500 BC
Ian Morris, Stanford University
Abstract - Greece between 1500 and 500 BC is one of the best known examples of the phenomenon of the regeneration of complex society after a collapse. I review 10 core dimensions of this process (urbanism, tax and rent, monuments, elite power, information- recording systems, trade, crafts, military power, scale, and standards of living), and suggest that punctuated equilibrium models accommodate the data better than gradualist interpretations.

120509The growth of Greek cities in the first millennium BC
Ian Morris, Stanford University
Abstract - In this paper I trace the growth of the largest Greek cities from perhaps 1,000- 2,000 people at the beginning of the first millennium BC to 400,000-500,000 at the millennium’s end. I examine two frameworks for understanding this growth: Roland Fletcher’s discussion of the interaction and communication limits to growth and Max Weber’s ideal types of cities’ economic functions. I argue that while political power was never the only engine of urban growth in classical antiquity, it was always the most important motor. The size of the largest Greek cities was a function of the population they controlled, mechanisms of tax and rent, and transportation technology.

120508The Athenian Empire (478-404 BC)
Ian Morris, Stanford University
Abstract - In this paper I raise three questions: (1) How, and how much, did the Athenian Empire change Greek society? (2) Why did the Athenian Empire (or a competitor state) not become a multiethnic empire like Persia or Rome? (3) In the long run, how much did the Athenian Empire’s failure matter? I conclude: (1) The Athenian Empire increased the tempo of state formation in classical Greece and is best understood as an example of state formation not imperialism. (2) Counterfactual analysis suggests that Athens failed to become the capital of a multi-city state because of human error, and as late as 406 BC the most predictable outcome was that Athens would emerge as capital of an Ionian state. (3) Not much.

120507The eighth-century revolution
Ian Morris, Stanford University
Abstract - Through most of the 20th century classicists saw the 8th century BC as a period of major changes, which they characterized as “revolutionary,” but in the 1990s critics proposed more gradualist interpretations. In this paper I argue that while 30 years of fieldwork and new analyses inevitably require us to modify the framework established by Snodgrass in the 1970s (a profound social and economic depression in the Aegean c. 1100-800 BC; major population growth in the 8th century; social and cultural transformations that established the parameters of classical society), it nevertheless remains the most convincing interpretation of the evidence, and that the idea of an 8th-century revolution remains useful

120505The Riddle of the 'sp(h)ij-': The Greek Sphinx and her Indic and Indo-European Background
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - The name of the Sphinx, the Greek female monster who had fun killing passers-by who could not answer her riddle, has long been an etymological conundrum. On the basis of literary, linguistic, and anthropological evidence from, above all, Greece and India, this paper comes to a novel understanding of the Sphinx’ origin, concluding that her oldest moniker, (S)Phí:k-, is related to a newly uncovered Greek noun phíkis ‘buttocks’ and to a Sanskrit word for the same body part, sphij-, a hitherto misunderstood form of which appears, in turn, in a riddle in the oldest Indic text, the Rigveda. This derivation situates the Greek creature squarely in the cross-culturally typically aggressive and sexually charged genre of riddling.
This paper is now published in La Langue poétique indo-européenne: actes du Colloque de travail de la Société des Études Indo-Européennes (Indogermanische Gesellschaft / Society for Indo-European Studies), Paris, 22-24 octobre 2003, ed. Georges-Jean Pinault & Daniel Petit (Leuven—Paris: Peeters, 2006), pp. 157-94.

120504What Linguists are Good for
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - Linguists are good for a lot. This is a personal account of why departments of Classics should embrace them (us).
This has been published in Classical World 100 (2007), pp. 99-112.

120503Review of Joachim Latacz’s 'Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery'
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Abstract - In this book, a translation of a German bestseller, the most vigorous proponent of the view that the Iliad is a reliable source of information about the city of Troy in the Late Bronze Age, presents the evidence from two very different fields: archaeology and linguistics/philology. Though especially sympathetic to the idea that certain significant details in Homer reflect society as it was long before the eighth century B.C., in a shared Greco-Anatolian setting, this reviewer, a linguist/philologist, is nevertheless dismayed by Latacz’s presentation of the evidence. To take just one egregious example of bias disguised as fact—a “fact” that certain colleagues are unfortunately already citing as gospel—there is, pace Latacz and Frank Starke, no evidence for the claim that an actual Hittite document reveals as a forebear of the king of Ahhiyawa (~ Achaia) a man by the name of Kadmos.
This has been published in Journal of the American Oriental Society 125 (2005), pp. 422-25.

120501The Function of Criticism ca. 432 BC: Texts and interpretations in Plato’s 'Protagoras'
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
This paper has been revised. See 081103 entry.

050503The Voices of Jocasta
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: The poem contained in the Lille Stesichorus papyrus presents several features that can be usefully compared with aspects of characterization and theme in the Oedipus Tyrannos of Sophocles. If we assume that an Athenian audience in the later 5th century knew the Stesichorean composition, the dramatic choices made by Sophocles take on new meaning. This paper is forthcoming in the proceedings of the International Conference on Ancient Drama held at Delphi, Greece (July 2002).
This paper has now been published as "Stesichorus and the Voice of Jocasta Theatre and Performance Culture" in Proceedings of the 11th International Meeting on Ancient Greek Drama, (2002: The Theban Cycle). Delphi: The European Cultural Center, 2007.

050502Gnomes in Poems: Wisdom Performance on the Athenian Stage
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Abstract: An ethnography-of speaking-approach to proverb-use lets us explore the deployment of this genre as part of personal self-projection and of social life. Greek drama, by presenting proverbs in the mouths of its staged characters, makes use of the ordinary performance value of this “genre of speaking” while constructing a broader theatrical event. Characters can be judged on the basis of their skill at proverb-use, and important junctures in the plays can be marked by the employment of gnômai. Resistance to proverbs, and misuse of the genre (whether or not intentional) further mark speakers. This paper will appear in the Festschrift for John Papademetriou.
This paper has now been published in Antiphílesis: Studies on Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Literature and Culture, E. Karamalengou and E.D. Makrygianni (eds.). In Honour of Professor John-Theophanes A. Papademetriou. Stuttgart: Steiner. 2009, pp. 116-27.

020501Ancient Theatre and Performance Culture
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
No longer available as a working paper. This is now published as "Ancient Theatre and Performance Culture," pp. 36-54 in M. McDonald and J.M. Walton (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theature, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

How To Find Good Greek Literature Research Paper Topics

As a rule, before giving students a task to write a research paper, teachers warn them about the importance of choosing a good topic. If you are lucky to get the topic that makes you feel excited and inspired, it’s for sure that your research paper will be a success. The more you are interested in the topic, the more interesting your work will be for readers.

The choice of a topic requires time. However, student don’t always have it. Sometimes they have to choose one topic from the list their teacher provides, so there is not much time for thinking. On the other hand, if you are simply given a task, you should feel free to choose whatever topic you like with the help of specialized resources.

If you open the Internet, you will see that they are quite numerous, offering you whichever topics you require. If you need research paper topics that are dedicated to Greek literature, you can long lists of interesting suggestions for any grade.

Choosing a good topic in Greek literature, make sure that it matches several important criteria:

  • The topic is absolutely relevant to the area of researching you are supposed to explore.
  • The topic speaks precisely about Greek literature, not Roman or Indian one.
  • The topic is quite laconic but informative.
  • The topic makes you feel inspired and full of desire to explore it and speak about its most interesting aspects.
  • The topic speaks about quite common things, so you will be able to confirm your project with opinions of other researchers who have already worked upon the same problem.
  • The topic is unique and there is no other student in your immediate surrounding who would explore the same problematics.

Below, you can find a short list of suggested Greek literature topics for your research paper.

  1. Why Greek myths occupy such an important place in the history of literature.
  2. Greek roots or comedy and tragedy.
  3. Homer’s poems as a priceless contribution to the treasury of world literature.
  4. Deliberate archaic motives in Homer’s poems.
  5. Development of ancient Greek poetic metrics till present.
  6. The most prominent ancient Greek poets and specifics of their lyrics.
  7. Development of prosaic composition in ancient Greece and its influence on contemporary Greek literature.
  8. Roman influence on the development of ancient Greek literature.
  9. Transformation of ancient Greek quantitative rhythm of verses into contemporary rhyme.
  10. The most popular plot schemes in ancient Greek drama.

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