Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue, and the Invention of Greek Prose

Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue, and the Invention of Greek Prose

by Leslie Kurke
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691144583

ISBN-13: 9780691144580

Pub. Date: 10/25/2010

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Examining the figure of Aesop and the traditions surrounding him, Aesopic Conversations offers a portrait of what Greek popular culture might have looked like in the ancient world. What has survived from the literary record of antiquity is almost entirely the product of an elite of birth, wealth, and education, limiting our access to a fuller range of voices

Overview

Examining the figure of Aesop and the traditions surrounding him, Aesopic Conversations offers a portrait of what Greek popular culture might have looked like in the ancient world. What has survived from the literary record of antiquity is almost entirely the product of an elite of birth, wealth, and education, limiting our access to a fuller range of voices from the ancient past. This book, however, explores the anonymous Life of Aesop and offers a different set of perspectives. Leslie Kurke argues that the traditions surrounding this strange text, when read with and against the works of Greek high culture, allow us to reconstruct an ongoing conversation of "great" and "little" traditions spanning centuries.

Evidence going back to the fifth century BCE suggests that Aesop participated in the practices of nonphilosophical wisdom (sophia) while challenging it from below, and Kurke traces Aesop's double relation to this wisdom tradition. She also looks at the hidden influence of Aesop in early Greek mimetic or narrative prose writings, focusing particularly on the Socratic dialogues of Plato and the Histories of Herodotus. Challenging conventional accounts of the invention of Greek prose and recognizing the problematic sociopolitics of humble prose fable, Kurke provides a new approach to the beginnings of prose narrative and what would ultimately become the novel.

Delving into Aesop, his adventures, and his crafting of fables, Aesopic Conversations shows how this low, noncanonical figure was—unexpectedly—central to the construction of ancient Greek literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691144580
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/25/2010
Series:
Martin Classical Lectures Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
504
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Abbreviations xvii

Introduction

I An Elusive Quarry: In Search of Ancient Greek Popular Culture 2

II Explaining the Joke: A Road Map for Classicists 16

III Synopsis of Method and Structure of Argument 46

Part I Competitive Wisdom and Popular Culture 51

Chapter 1 Aesop and the Contestation of Delphic Authority 53

I Ideological Tensions at Delphi 54

II The Aesopic Critique 59

III Neoptolemus and Aesop: Sacrifice, Hero Cult, and Competitive Scapegoating 75

Chapter 2 Sophia before/beyond Philosophy 95

I The Tradition of Sophia 95

II Sophists and (as) Sages 102

III Aristotle and the Transformation of Sophia 115

Chapter 3 Aesop as Sage: Political Counsel and Discursive Practice 125

I Aesop among the Sages 125

II Political Animals: Fable and the Scene of Advising 142

Chapter 4 Reading the Life: The Progress of a Sage and the Anthropology of Sophia 159

I An Aesopic Anthropology of Wisdom 160

II Aesop and Ahiqar 176

III Delphic Theoria and the Death of a Sage 185

IV The Bricoleur as Culture Hero, or the Art of Extorting Self-Incrimination 191

Chapter 5 The Aesopic Parody of High Wisdom 202

I Demystifying Sophia: Hesiod, Theognis, and the Seven Sages 204

II Aesopic Parody in the Visual Tradition? 224

Part II Aesop and the Invention of Greek Prose 239

Chapter 6 Aesop at the Invention of Philosophy 241

Prelude to Part II: The Problematic Sociopolitics of Mimetic Prose 241

I Mimesis and the Invention of Philosophy 244

II The Generic Affiliations of Sokratikoi logoi 251

Chapter 7 The Battle over Prose: Fable in Sophistic Education and Xenophon's Memorabilia 265

I Sophistic Fables 268

II Traditional Fable Narration in Xenophon's Memorabilia 288

Chapter 8 Sophistic Fable in Plato: Parody, Appropriation, and Transcendence 301

I Plato's Protagoras: Debunking Sophistic Fable 301

II Plato's Symposium: Ringing the Changes on Fable 308

Chapter 9 Aesop in Plato's Sokratikoi Logoi: Analogy, Elenchos, and Disavowal 325

I Sophia into Philosophy: Socrates between the Sages and Aesop 326

II The Aesopic Bricoleur and the "Old Socratic Tool-Box" 330

III Sympotic Wisdom, Comedy, and Aesopic Competition in Hippias Major 344

Chapter 10 Historie and Logopoiïa: Two Sides of Herodotean Prose 361

I History before Prose, Prose before History 362

II Aesop Ho Logopoios 370

III Plutarch Reading Herodotus: Aesop, Ruptures of Decorum, and the Non-Greek 382

Chapter 11 Herodotus and Aesop: Some Soundings 398

I Cyrus Tells a Fable 400

II Greece and (as) Fable, or Resignifying the Hierarchy of Genre 404

III Fable as History 412

IV The Aesopic Contract of the Histories: Herodotus Teaches His Readers 426

Bibliography 433

Index Locorum 463

General Index 478

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