When Worlds Elide: Classics, Politics, Culture

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Overview

For better or worse, the ancient Greeks retain their cultural, political, and philosophical authority for contemporary educators and actors. Maureen Dowd has talked about the Hellenization of the Bush administration, Thucydides has been used as a template to analyze the Iraqi War and the War on Terror, Greek drama has been repeatedly performed in sometimes spectacular if unconventional ways, while the Trojan War, the battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans, and Alexander have all been the subjects of recent films. Last year the New York Times carried a front page story about 'conservatives' taking a 'new tack' by establishing 'beachheads' for programs in Western Civilization and American Institutions in which the ancient Greeks hold pride of place. The contributors to When Worlds Elide are also invested in having Greek philosophy, literature, and political theory taken seriously in contemporary debates-whether over modes of interpreting Plato, Athenian democracy, gender, ethnicity, or materiality. What distinguishes this book is the substantive range of the essays in it and the generative potentialities of 'using' ancient authors and events in analyzing these debates. It begins from the premise that 'the Greeks' (like 'the French' or 'the Chinese') obscures the contested histories of ethnic, geographic, and political formations in favor of an idealized dehistoricized collectivity. The also book also illustrates the ways in which ancient texts must be understood within the history of interpretative practices, which means that 'the Greeks' are more a moving target than a stable entity, and that each generation of interlocutors formulates continually transforming questions, readings, and arguments. Finally, this book supposes that an interrogation of 'the Greek legacy' depends on interdisciplinary work where interdisciplinarity functions as a verb-that is, something that is always in the process of being achieved.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard P. Martin
Anyone who has doubted the value of antiquity for the twenty-first century will come away from this book a true believer in the relevance of classics to the most pressing contemporary concerns. Far from offering easy solutions or facile analogies, When Worlds Elide boldly critiques classics itself in relation to nationalism, elites, material culture, and the structure of the university. This is a must-read resource—lucid, complex and exciting—for those interested in abiding questions: What makes a community? Who should lead? What is ethical? How do we reconcile money and political ambition?
Josiah Ober
This exciting collection, with its stellar list of contributors, sets a bold agenda for the interdisciplinary study of classics and politics in the twenty-first century. It proves that it is indeed possible to conjoin theoretical insight with erudition and a passionate commitment to the enduring significance of Greek antiquity.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

J. Peter Euben is research professor of political science and classical studies and Kenan Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethics at Duke University. Karen Bassi is professor of classics in Clowell College at University of California Santa Cruz.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Karen Bassi J. Peter Euben ix

Acknowledgments xxiii

Part I Classics

1 Origins, Culture, and Identity in Classical Antiquity Carla Antonaccio 3

2 Greece of the East: Philhellenism in Imperial Japan Noriko Aso 19

3 Philhellenism, Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism Glenn W. Most 43

4 The Materiality of Classical Studies James I. Porter 61

Part II Politics

5 Making Prometheus Speak: Dialogue, Torture, and the Power of Secrets in Prometheus Bound Karen Bassi 77

6 For Love of the Impossible: Antigone, Memory, and the Politics of Possibility P. J. Brendese 111

7 Athens' Tale of Two Cities: Themistocles, Theseus, and the Construction of "Place" in Fifth-Century Athens Carol Dougherty 137

8 Thucydides in Baghdad J. Peter Euben 161

9 Before Race: Theorizing Athenian Citizen Identity Susan Lape 185

10 Comedy, the Ordinary Citizen, and the Salvation of the City John Zumbrunnen 229

Part III Culture

11 Gender and the City: Antigone from Hegel to Butler and Back Peter Burian 255

12 The Comparative Politics of Travel: Theôria, Talab al-'Ilm and the Search for Knowledge Roxanne L. Euben 301

13 Socrates, Palamedes, and the Trials of Philosophy Diskin Clay 331

14 Body, Soul, and Medical Analogy in Plato Brooke Holmes 345

15 "Men completely wild in appearance and way of life: Fauns, Satyrs, Androgynes, Ichtyophages, Hippopodes, Sciopodes, Himantipodes, [and] Cyclopes" Vanita Seth 387

16 Suppliant Women and the Democratic State: White Men Saving Brown Women from Brown Men Victoria Wohl 409

Index 437

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