Nature Embodied: Gesture in Ancient Rome

Nature Embodied: Gesture in Ancient Rome

by Anthony Corbeill
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691074941

ISBN-13: 9780691074948

Pub. Date: 11/14/2003

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Bodily gesture. A Roman worshipper spins in a circle in front of a temple. Faced with death, a Roman woman tears her hair and beats her breasts. Enthusiastic spectators at a gladiatorial event gesticulate with thumbs. Examining the tantalizing glimpses of ancient bodies offered by surviving Roman sculptures, paintings, and literary texts, Anthony Corbeill analyzes

Overview

Bodily gesture. A Roman worshipper spins in a circle in front of a temple. Faced with death, a Roman woman tears her hair and beats her breasts. Enthusiastic spectators at a gladiatorial event gesticulate with thumbs. Examining the tantalizing glimpses of ancient bodies offered by surviving Roman sculptures, paintings, and literary texts, Anthony Corbeill analyzes the role of gesture in medical and religious ritual, in the gladiatorial arena, in mourning practice, in aristocratic competition of the late Republic, and in the court of the emperor Tiberius. Adopting approaches from anthropology, gender studies, and ecological theory, Nature Embodied offers both a series of case studies and an overarching narrative of the role and meanings of gesture in ancient Rome.

Arguing that bodily movement grew out of the relationship between Romans and their natural, social, and spiritual environment, the book explores the ways in which an originally harmonious relationship between nature and the body was manipulated as Rome became socially and politically complex. By the time that Tacitus was writing about the reign of Tiberius, the emergence of a new political order had prompted an increasingly inscrutable equation between truth and the body—and something vital in the once harmonizing relationship between bodies and the world beyond them had been lost.

Nature Embodied makes an important contribution to an expanding field of research by offering a new theoretical model for the study of gesture in classical times.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691074948
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/14/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
List of Abbreviations xi
Acknowledgments xiii
INTRODUCTION
Gesture as a Cultural System 1
CHAPTER 1
Participatory Gestures in Roman Religious Ritual and Medicine 12
Physicality of Words 15
Hands 20
Romans and Earth 24
Physicality of Prayer 26
Physicality of Cures 33
Conclusion 37
CHAPTER 2
The Power of Thumbs 41
Textual Appearances 42
Visual Representations 51
The Sign for the Deathblow in the Arena 62
A Riddle 64
Conclusion 65
CHAPTER 3
Blood, Milk, and Tears: The Gestures of Mourning Women 67
Gendered Funerals 68
Gendered Gestures 70
Greekand Etruscan Mourning Gestures 72
Legal Evidence 75
Roman Mourning Gestures 77
Women as Scapegoats 84
Woman's Work 85
Roman Death Ritual as Double-Birth 89
First Funeral 90
Second Funeral 95
Milkas Nurture for an Adult 100
Conclusion 105
CHAPTER 4
Political Movement: Walking and Ideology in Republican Rome 107
Philosophy in Action 108
Body Movement and Political Competition 111
Movement in Oratory and Philosophy 114
Movement in Daily Life 117
Incessus in Cicero 118
Cinaedi and Elite Politicians 120
Enforcement 124
Conclusion 137
CHAPTER 5
Face Facts: Facial Expression and the New Political Order in Tacitus 140
Gesture as Metaphor 140
The Politics of the Face 144
Eye-Movement in Roman Antiquity 146
Aspectus in Republican Tradition 147
The Decline of Rhetoric as the Decline of Physical Representation 151
Aspectus as Appearance 157
Conclusion: Tiberius and the New World Order 165
Bibliography 169
Index Locorum 187
General Index 198

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