Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria

Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria

Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria

Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria

Synopsis

"Susan Stephens is interested in how the poetry of Callimachus, Theocritus and Apollonius reflects the Greek engagement with Egypt, and in particular with the traditions of Egyptian kingship and mythology. The exciting rediscovery through marine archaeology of Ptolemaic Alexandria means that there is currently great interest in the nature of Alexandrian culture, especially in how Greek and Egyptian elements were mixed. Stephens brings to notice important but generally neglected Greek texts (Hecataeus of Abdera, the 'Alexander Romance') and much material previously known only to Egyptologists. . . . Modern writing about colonialism is powerfully applied to the Hellenistic situation. This book will attract wide interest, and help in the gradual process of changing perceptions about the cultural life of Alexandria."--Richard Hunter, author of "Theocritus and the Archaeology of Greek Poetry

"Susan Stephens' "Seeing Double is the first book ever that explores comprehensively and persuasively how, inthe political, social and cultural environment of Ptolemaic Egypt, the Alexandrian renewal of classical poetry leads to a new poetry. . . . In Stephens' view, the poetical dialogue between the Alexandrian poets, their intertextuality and the differences in their approaches and reactions to the colonial situation resolve the emerging duality of Greek and Egyptian cultures in a deeper intellectual unity that responds to, and reflects, the political reality."--Ludwig Koenen, author of "Eine agonistische Inschrift aus Agypten und fruhptolemaische Konigsfeste

"This quietly daring research sets a new standard for the interpretation of poetry in a cultural, and most importantly in a bi-cultural,context. Stephens' exploration of Alexandrian poetry as a contact zone is a successful example of how literary interpretation can be fertilized by discontent about traditional Classics."--Alessandro Barchiesi, author of "The Poe

Excerpt

I began to think about the relationship of Alexandrian writers to their contemporary Greco-Egyptian milieu at least twenty years ago, but I was unable to provide answers that satisfied myself or colleagues and students. in the interim I learned a great deal about Egypt and the construction of pharaonic kingship. Some of this material provided intriguing parallels and overlaps with what I understood of Hellenistic poetic practice. the question of whether there was a relationship between the two—which a few scholars had already articulated and others had denied, with varying degrees of vehemence or disdain—gradually evolved into conviction that one did exist, but this in turn led to other questions. Why was there a connection? How important was it? Could parallels with Egyptian culture tell us anything about the poetry that we did not already know? This study sketches an answer, in the belief that grounding a selection of poems of Callimachus and Theocritus and the epic of Apollonius in their contemporary social and political context opens up the poetry in a number of ways, not the least of which is to remove it from the ivory tower and locate it more centrally within contemporary intellectual debates and within the political life of the city. I have characterized my reading as “seeing double. ” This capitalizes on what has become a standard formulation for the twin aspects of Ptolemaic culture: in 1987, for example, W. Peremans wrote about the “bicephalous” nature of Ptolemaic administration, and in 1993 L. Koenen wrote of “The Janus Head of Ptolemaic Kingship. ” This is more than a . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.