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Presidential Address

Denis Feeney - "First Similes in Epic"

Extended similes are particularly at home in heroic epic, so much so that they are surprisingly rare in other genres, such as lyric or elegy; as we shall see below, they are also very rare in archaic didactic, although they later become more common in that genre. If similes are a marked feature of heroic epic, then the first similes in epic are themselves particularly marked. The programmatic nature of the first simile in Virgil’s Aeneid (1.148–53) has often been commented upon, as an emblem of restoration of order after chaos which generates a set of expectations for the rest of the poem. I shall argue that the iconic nature of the initial simile sequence is a feature of epic that goes back to Homer’s Iliad, and continues well past Virgil. In general, the first similes in epic are programmatic for the cosmos of the whole poem, for they present an icon of the relationship between human beings and the natural world, which in turn gives us an icon of the poem’s relationship between order and disorder, chaos and harmony. These icons are an ideal, like all icons, and there are many ways in which these first programmatic moments turn out to have a degree of slippage and lack of fit, as is characteristic of similes in general. A study of the first similes in an epic can shed light on a range of narrative techniques and thematic concerns that carry through the poem as a whole.


Gregory S. Jones - "Voice of the People: Popular Symposia and the Non-Elite Origins of the Attic Skolia"

This paper reexamines the known performance contexts of the skolion in light of recent advances in our understanding of sympotic demographics and Greek popular culture, providing a close reading of select songs. In showing that the genre was primarily associated with public festivals and non-elite symposia, I argue that the Attic skolia were originally composed, performed, and transmitted by middling citizens at common symposia. Thus, we may isolate within the extant corpus of Greek literature a rare example of popular poetry that expresses the genuine voice of non-elites who articulated egalitarian views based on isonomia independently of elite sources.

Joshua D. Sosin - "Tax Exemption and Athenian Imperial Politics: The Case of Chalkis"

This paper argues that the clause at IG I3 40.52–57, which refers to taxation of aliens at Chalkis and has long puzzled scholars, stipulated that any non-Chalkidian who had been granted immunity from Athenian tele, conditional on residence at Athens or not, should enjoy the same immunity from Chalkidian tele at Chalkis; that the inscription belongs to 424/3 b.c.e, when Athenian law and honorific practice were much concerned with taxation and immunities. Though long seen as fiscal punishment by a newly imperial Athens, the action was connected to later debates about local honors and domestic taxation, and was rather mild.

Vayos Liapis - "The Fragments of Euripides’ Oedipus: A Reconsideration"

This paper provides a thorough reexamination of the surviving fragments of Euripides’ Oedipus (TrGF 5.1, 539a–557) with a view to establishing which are authentic. The use of linguistic, stylistic and metrical criteria shows that only the papyrus fragments, together with a handful of quotations in later authors, can be held authentic. Quotation-fragments (mainly in Stobaeus and Clement) are shown to be spurious. The paper puts forth and discusses the hypothesis that the spurious fragments come not from a full-fledged play but from a rhetorical exercise.

Thomas Hendrickson - "The Invention of the Greek Library"

The form of the “Greek library” is distinguished from the “Roman library,” and these forms are seen as the product of the library’s historical development (from the Lyceum to Alexandria to Pergamum to Rome). I argue that this history is a scholarly fiction. Instead, the increasing role of literacy in society resulted in increasingly institutionalized book collections during the third century b.c.e., which by the second were thought of as libraries. I examine the changing relationship of books to the places where they were housed and the contexts in which those places began to be described with the word βιβλιοθήκη.

Alison Rosenblitt - "The Turning Tide: The Politics of the Year 79 b.c.e."

Most scholars are convinced that Rome in 79 b.c.e. remained cowed by fear of Sulla. This paper attempts a new reconstruction of the political mood of the year 79 and the significance of the successful consular canvass of M. Aemilius Lepidus. I argue that the insecurity of Sulla’s settlement was felt almost immediately after he stepped back from formal power. A general unease crystallized around two specific and explosive issues: the unresolved fate of those in exile from the Sullan regime and the possibility of recriminations for actions taken during the civil war and proscriptions.