I. Presidential Address 2010
The Beggar and the Clod: The Mythic Notion of Property in Ancient Greece
This paper calls attention to the need to think about Greek property based on the evidence available. While scholars note the absence of relevant legal or economic sources, I argue that certain mythic texts reveal important aspects of the ideology of property and, specifically, that property relations tended to be understood in terms of exchange relations. Being an owner meant engaging in certain kinds of exchange, and abstaining from other kinds of exchange. The myths that I consider here reveal this notion by suggesting that property is destabilized when property owners conduct exchange in the wrong way.
Alex C. Purves
Wind and Time in Homeric Epic
This paper examines the relationship between wind, narrative, and time in Homer. It begins by considering Fränkel’s observation that weather rarely occurs outside the similes in the Iliad,and goes on to show that wind plays a subtle but fundamental role in shaping the narratives of both the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Hesiod’s Typhonomachy and the Ordering of Sound
I argue that Hesiod shaped his Typhonomachy with a particular interest in the relationship between sound, communication, and authority. Typhon’s defeat results in the reordering of the sonic world of the Theogony, and as such is a necessary precursor to the birth of the Muses. Hesiod thereby shows how the conditions for song are not a natural element of the cosmos, but result from Zeus’s suppression of Typhon. This victory is significant for the Theogony as a whole, in so far as it enables communication between gods and men, and thus renders the structure of the cosmos intelligible to mortals.
José M. González
The Catalogue of Women and the End ofthe Heroic Age (Hesiod fr. 204.94–103 M-W)
The Catalogue of Women supplies the crucial link between Hesiodic poetry and heroic epic. The heroic world of archaic poetry cannot be fully understood without it. But the interpretation of fragment 204 M-W, which describes the end of the heroic age, has long been burdened with misleading and unnecessary assumptions. This article challenges three particularly influential ones: that the passage contrasts demigods to “ordinary” mortals; that Zeus only feigns to destroy the demigods; and that [βίοτον κα]ὶ̣is an acceptable supplement to line 103. My analysis shows that the Catalogue does not represent a departure from, but a creative reappropriation of, traditional epic material.
Pausanias and the Mysteries of Hellas
Instead of being an amorphous collection of useful facts for travelers, Pausanias’s Description of Greece offers a carefully structured meditation on the state of Greece in the Roman period. By mustering certain narrative themes and techniques around the pivot-point of his description of Olympia, Pausanias compares and contrasts the Roman conquest of Greece with the Spartan conquest of Messenia and offers his own text as an affirmatory parallel to a sacred document that was restored to the Messenians at the time of their liberation. Appreciation of the author’s ambitious program of structural and thematic patterns explains many aspects of the text that previous scholars have found perplexing, including its abrupt and enigmatic ending.
The Symbolic Value of Grafting in Ancient Rome
Some scholars have read Virgil’s grafted tree (G. 2.78-82) as a sinister image, symptomatic of man’s perversion of nature. However, when it is placed within the long tradition of Roman accounts of grafting (in both prose and verse), it seems to reinforce a consistently positive view of the technique, its results, and its possibilities. Virgil’s treatment does represent a significant change from Republican to Imperial literature, whereby grafting went from mundane reality to utopian fantasy. This is reflected in responses to Virgil from Ovid, Columella, Calpurnius, Pliny the Elder, and Palladius (with Republican context from Cato, Varro, and Lucretius), and even in the postclassical transformation of Virgil’s biography into a magical folktale.