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Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis
     

Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis

by Richard Buxton
 

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In this illustrated study Richard Buxton analyses Greek literary narratives and visual representations of the metamorphosis of humans and goods, as evidenced from Homer to Nonnos. Such tales have become familiar in their Ovidian dress, as in the best-selling translation by Ted Hughes; Buxton explores their Greek antecedents. He investigates such issues as: How

Overview

In this illustrated study Richard Buxton analyses Greek literary narratives and visual representations of the metamorphosis of humans and goods, as evidenced from Homer to Nonnos. Such tales have become familiar in their Ovidian dress, as in the best-selling translation by Ted Hughes; Buxton explores their Greek antecedents. He investigates such issues as: How do different contexts shape the way in which metamorphosis is narrated? How do the assumption of commentators about 'strangeness' affect how metamorphosis is interpreted? How far should an interpreter allow 'contextual charity' to render more acceptable a belief such as that in metamorphosis? What are the implications of the notion of 'astonishment' (Greek: thambos) in a range of narratives about transformation?

Throughout Forms of Astonishment Buxton draws comparisons between the Greek evidence and data from other religious traditions, ancient and modern; he also introduces comparative material from the sciences, from modern painting and literature, and from the cinema and computer graphics. In investigating metamorphoses of gods Buxton revisits the concept of anthropomorphism, arguing that the fact that Greek divinities where believed to change shape does not undermine the fundamentally humanlike form to Greek divinity. He also examines certain strands of Greek tradition, particularly among the philosophers, which called metamorphosis into question, whether in relation to the gods or to humans. Individual chapters deal with transformations into the landscape and into plants or trees-in the latter case transformation stories are set against a background of cultural beliefs about 'seminal' substances such as blood and tears. Overall Forms of Astonishment raises issues relevant to an understanding of broad aspects of Greek culture, and illuminates issues explored by anthropologists and students of religion.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A rich resource for those embarking on study of Greek myth and/or religion. Highly recommended." —CHOICE

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199245499
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
09/21/2009
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Buxton is Emeritus Professor of Greek Language and Literature at the University of Bristol.

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