Lawrence Kim is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin and specialises in Greek literature and culture of the Imperial period.
Fantham’s first edition discussed the habits of Roman readers and developments in their means of access to literature, from booksellers and copyists to pirated publications and libraries. She examines the issues of patronage and the utility of literature and shows how the constraints of the physical object itself—the ancient "book"—influenced the practice of both reading and writing. She also explores the ways in which ancient criticism and critical attitudes reflected cultural assumptions of the time.
In this second edition, Fantham expands the scope of her study. In the new first chapter, she examines the beginning of Roman literature—more than a century before the critical studies of Cicero and Varro. She discusses broader entertainment culture, which consisted of live performances of comedy and tragedy as well as oral presentations of the epic. A new final chapter looks at Pagan and Christian literature from the third to fifth centuries, showing how this period in Roman literature reflected its foundations in the literary culture of the late republic and Augustan age. This edition also includes a new preface and an updated bibliography.
Plato's account of Socrates' trial and death (399 BC) is a significant moment in Classical literature and the life of Classical Athens. In these four dialogues, Plato develops the Socratic belief in responsibility for one's self and shows Socrates living and dying under his philosophy. In Euthyphro, Socrates debates goodness outside the courthouse; Apology sees him in court, rebutting all charges of impiety; in Crito, he refuses an entreaty to escape from prison; and in Phaedo, Socrates faces his impending death with calmness and skilful discussion of immortality.
Christopher Rowe's introduction to his powerful new translation examines the book's themes of identity and confrontation, and explores how its content is less historical fact than a promotion of Plato's Socratic philosophy.
It is a commonplace of criticism that Lucian was the first of the moderns, but in truth he is near to our time because of all the ancients he is nearest to his own. With Petronius he shared the discovery that there is material for literature in the debased and various life of every day—that to the seeing eye the individual is more wonderful in colour and complexity than the severely simple abstraction of the poets. He replaced the tradition, respected of his fathers, by an observation more vivid and less pedantic than the note-book of the naturalist. He set the world in the dry light of truth, and since the vanity of mankind is a constant factor throughout the ages, there is scarce a page of Lucian's writing that wears the faded air of antiquity. His personages are as familiar to-day as they were in the second century, because, with his pitiless determination to unravel the tangled skein of human folly, he never blinded his vision to their true qualities. And the multiplicity of his interest is as fresh as his penetration. Nothing came amiss to his eager curiosity. For the first time in the history of literature (with the doubtful exception of Cicero) we encounter a writer whose ceaseless activity includes the world. While others had declared themselves poets, historians, philosophers, Lucian comes forth as a man of letters. Had he lived to-day, he would have edited a newspaper, written leading articles, and kept his name ever before the public in the magazines. For he possessed the qualities, if he avoided the defects, of the journalist. His phrase had not been worn by constant use to imbecility; his sentences were not marred by the association of commonness; his style was still his own and fit for the expression of a personal view. But he noted such types and incidents as make an immediate, if perennial, appeal, and to study him is to be convinced that literature and journalism are not necessarily divorced.
The profession was new, and with the joy of the innovator Lucian was never tired of inventing new genres. Romance, criticism, satire—he mastered them all. In Toxaris and The Ass he proves with what delicacy and restraint he could handle the story. His ill-omened apprenticeship to a sculptor gave him that taste and feeling for art which he turned to so admirable an account. He was, in fact, the first of the art-critics, and he pursued the craft with an easy unconsciousness of the heritage he bequeathed to the world. True, he is silent concerning the technical practice of the Greeks; true, he leaves us in profound ignorance of the art of Zeuxis, whose secrets he might have revealed, had he been less a man of letters. But he found in painting and sculpture an opportunity for elegance of phrase, and we would forgive a thousand shortcomings for such inspirations of beauty as the smile of Sosandra: to τὸ μειδίαμα σεμνὸν καὶ λεληθὸς. In literary criticism he was on surer ground, and here also he leaves the past behind. His knowledge of Greek poetry was profound; Homer he had by heart; and on every page he proves his sympathies by covert allusion or precise quotation. His treatise concerning the Writing of History preserves its force irresistible after seventeen centuries, nor has the wisdom of the ages impeached or modified this lucid argument.
To be continue in this ebook
New York Times Book Review Notable Book Selection for 2000: "[Lombardo] has brought his laconic wit and love of the ribald. . . to his version of the Odyssey. His carefully honed syntax gives the narrative energy and a whirlwind pace. The lines, rhythmic and clipped, have the tautness and force of Odysseus' bow." --Chris Hedges, The New York Times Book Review