TAPA Issue 141.1

James I. Porter

Making and Unmaking: The Achaean Wall and the Limits of Fictionality in Homeric Criticism

The Achaean wall is a curious object that appears in Iliad 7 only to disappear in book 12 with a vehemence that is unique in the Homeric landscape. Puzzling in every other respect, is the wall even a single, coherent object? While the Alexandrians and their successors accepted Nestor’s proposal and the construction of the wall as genuinely Homeric, modern critics of the analytic persuasion assume it must be an interpolation. This essay takes its cues from the ancient sources, which I believe indicate the most fruitful way of reading the episode and the wall generally—namely, as an object lesson in Homeric fictionality and its limits in the minds of successive readers of the Homeric poems.

Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui

Priam’s Catabasis: Traces of the Epic Journey to Hades in Iliad 24

This paper aims to prove that Priam’s journey to Achilles’ quarters in Iliad 24 is depicted at several points as a journey to Hades. The catabatic coloring of the episode has been sometimes recognized, but never systematically studied. The assumption that Homer’s audience recognized some clear allusions to the tales of heroic descents to Hades offers a number of possibilities for exploration. Not only are several passages shown to have deeper poetic meaning in this light, but Homer’s use of traditional themes and his aesthetic and ideological competition with other epic traditions are also illuminated by this case study.

John Heath

Women's Work: Female Transmission of Mythical Narrative

The role of women storytellers and singers in promulgating classical myth in antiquity is, admittedly, difficult to determine, and some scholars dismiss entirely the notion that female popular narrative included traditional tales. When looked at in its entirety, however, the evidence strongly suggests that women told the same kinds of mythological tales—both to themselves and children—as those found in “higher” genres. This finding complicates the already difficult challenge of determining the lineage of mythological tales found in epic and tragedy, a complexity that Ovid may playfully acknowledge in his own collection of myth.

Mary T. Boatwright

Women and Gender in the Forum Romanum

This article explores the evidence for women and gender in the Forum Romanum, investigating (primarily through literary sources) women’s use of this space, and (primarily archaeologically) historical women’s signification there by images and structures. The illustrated analysis proceeds chronologically from the Republic to the early third century C.E. Authors report women’s presence in the civic Forum as abnormal, even transgressive through the Julio-Claudian period. The paucity of women’s depictions and patronage here until the second century C.E. echoes constructs of Livy, Seneca the Younger, Tacitus, and others. The mid-imperial Forum, however, marks changes in Roman ideology as well as topography.

Randall J. Pogorzelski

Orbis Romanus: Lucan and the Limits of the Roman World

Lucan’s Bellum Civile offers two different visions of the geography of the Roman world. In the proem and the praise of Nero, the poem locates Rome at the center of a soon-to-be-completed world empire. In contrast, after the battle of Pharsalus in book 7 the remaining books divide the world into eastern and western parts, locating Rome in the center of the western part of the world. A century after the great territorial expansion of the late Republic, Lucan replaces the apparently optimistic confidence in imminent Roman world conquest with a vision of a limited Roman world.

Tim Stover

Unexampled Examplarity: Medea in the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus

This paper examines how Medea’s singularity affects Venus’s attempt to offer her models to follow in Valerius’s Argonautica. While convincing Medea to assist Jason, Venus cites exempla designed to diminish Medea’s uniqueness. But they have the opposite effect. Since none of these parallels is sufficiently illustrative of the course Medea must take, Venus refashions them so that they resemble previous accounts of Medea’s life. Circe, Hippodamia, and Ariadne are exemplary for Medea because Venus reinvents them as pseudo-Medeas. Medea is offered snapshots of her own (future) self: she is thus prompted to become the unparalleled figure prefigured by literary tradition.

Giovanni Ruffini

Village Life and Family Power in Late Antique Nessana

This article explores social structures and family competition in late antique Nessana. Nessana, a small village in the Negev, is attested through archaeological, papyrological, and epigraphic remains. This evidence shows that the engine of social change was family power. Nessana experienced remarkable growth, including construction of four new churches and two monasteries. The driving forces behind each institution came from distinct local families in ongoing competition with one another. This localizing model of family power challenges the standard models of provincial economy and society in the late antique east, which imagine a world of great estates and powerful aristocrats. 

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