The book brings together seven hundred acknowledged sources drawn from successive historical, global and literary eras, including principal commentaries, along with factual information and important renditions in art, prose and verse, within and beyond mainstream western culture. A lengthy, detailed introduction presents a copious documented preview of the viable adaptation and mimesis of ‘divine’ characterization and its respective centrality from the long distant past to the present day. Myth, rarely latent, demonstrates varied modes of expression and open-ended flexibility throughout the six comprehensive chapters which illuminate and probe, in turn, aspects of the ideological presence, sensibilities, trials and triumphs and interventions of the goddess, whether sacred or profane. Particular literary extracts and episodes range across ancient cultures alongside quite recent expressions of hermeneutics, blending myth with the contemporary in the multi-layered reception or admonishment of the goddess, whether by one designation or the other. As such, this book is wholly relevant to all stages of the evolution and expansion of a dynamic European literary culture and its leading authors and personalities.
The book fulfils two principal aims: to highlight the impulse and continuity of a research field that combines Indo-European and Classical Studies, which has generally been recognised for several decades as a very fruitful collaboration, and to provide the academic community with the current results of one of the most important topics of Classical Studies.
The first part of the book focuses on the Indo-European tradition, tracking its remnants, particularly in the Classical languages. The Indo-European poetic tradition can be traced through linguistic reconstruction (formulae, onomastics) and some scattered mentions in literary texts.
In the second part, the focus is placed on the poetic language in Greece and Rome. The rich and complex tradition of Classical literatures makes a clear-cut description of the inherited or innovative aspects of the religious and literary development more problematical. Ritual or cultic poetry, onomastics, phraseology, paeans and hymns, oracles as divine language, and magic all receive deep and thorough treatment from a reliable ensemble of scholars.
The first four papers tackle epic language, addressing eccentric pronouns and formulas, the role and semantics of the middle perfect, and the development of hexameter poetry in the colonial West. The next two papers are devoted to lyric poetry and its linguistic influence in Greek literature and tackle fragments by Corinna and Epicharmus respectively. The remaining four contributions look into a variety of topics spanning from early Ionic prose to the diachronic development of the Greek lexicon and its reception in Byzantine lexicography. They all provide examples of how Greek literary language evolved across the centuries, how it was perceived by ancient scholars, and what contribution modern linguistic approaches can provide to our understanding of both these issues.