The Talking Greeks: Speech, Animals, and the Other in Homer, Aeschylus, and Plato

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Overview

What drove the ancient Greeks to explore human nature and invent Western politics? This book argues that the Greeks believed speech made humans different from other animals. But, this zoological comparison also provided the metaphorical means for viewing those 'lacking' authoritative speech—women, barbarians, and slaves, etc.—as bestial. This link between speech, humanity, and status is revealed through close study of both Homeric epics, classical Athenian culture, Aeschylus' Oresteia, and Plato's Dialogues.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Talking Greeks does what contemporary texts in ancient philosophy, literature and classics ought to do: it shows the continuing relevance of ancient thinking to our own...John Heath presents a philosophically-engaging analysis of how humanity comes to be defined in ancient Greece against a linguistic framework. Written for a broadly interdisciplinary audience including philosophers, classicists, philologians, and linguists, the book avoids jargon and remains entirely and enjoyable readable."
Sonja Tanner, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Ancient Philosophy
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521832649
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2005
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

John Heath is Professor of Classics at Santa Clara University. He is the author of numerous articles on Latin and Greek literature, myth and culture. His previous publications include Actaeon, the Unmannerly Intruder (1992), Who Killed Homer? (with Victor Davis Hanson) (1998, revised edition, 2001) and Bonfire of the Humanities (with Victor Davis Hanson and Bruce Thornton) (2001).

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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Speech, Animals, and Human Status in Homer: 1. Bellowing like a bull: humans and other animals in Homer; 2. Controlling language: Telemachus learns to speak; 3. Talking through the heroic code: Achilles learns to tell tales; Part II. Listening for the Other in Classical Greece: 4. Making a difference: the silence of otherness; Part III. Speech, Animals, and Human Status in Classical Athens: 5. Disentangling the beast: humans and other animals in the Oresteia; 6. Socratic silence: the shame of the Athenians; Epilogue.

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