Ancient Greece and the Art of Storytelling in George Moore's Aphrodite in Aulis

By Doulamis, Konstantin | DQR Studies in Literature, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ancient Greece and the Art of Storytelling in George Moore's Aphrodite in Aulis


Doulamis, Konstantin, DQR Studies in Literature


Aphrodite in Aulis, George Moore's last complete novel, is a fine example of the strong current of Hellenism found in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Western culture. The strong Hellenic presence in this work, ubiquitously in evidence in the use of names, themes and images deeply rooted in the Greek past, is combined with modem fiction to create an interesting story with a historical colour. Even though this has been recognized by critics,1 and the usefulness of contextualizing Aphrodite in Aulis with respect to its sources has been well demonstrated,2 the ancient Greek historical and literary texture of this work has thus far received very little scholarly attention. Yet, a closer examination of the Greek images can furnish an insight not only into this novel but also into Moore's literary sophistication.

How accurate are references to historical events and characters in this novel? What purpose do allusions to the ancient Greek world serve? Does the prominent Hellenic element affect a reading of this novel, and, if so, in what way and to what extent? To attempt a largescale examination of the above questions would be a task extending far beyond the limits of this essay. However, it is both useful and important to bring out the connotative and cultural significance of some of the ancient Greek symbols and images employed by Moore, while looking more closely within the novel at statements about storytelling which, I will suggest, can be read as Moore's selfconscious allusions to his own art of writing.

Anachronisms and inconsistencies

How historically accurate is this "historical" novel? In George Moore: l'homme et l'oeuvre, Jean Noël praises Moore's thorough research into Classical antiquity, including various aspects of Greek life and topography, and states that "one could hardly reproach him for so painstakingly seeking to avoid anachronisms and topographical impossibilities".3 Noël's claim notwithstanding, Moore's novel is not without anachronisms and historical inconsistencies,4 as will be demonstrated below.

It is known that Phidias' famous gold and ivory statue of Athena was completed and dedicated in 438 BC and that Aristophanes' Banqueters was produced by Callistratus in 427 BC. The two events, however, are presented as simultaneous in Moore's novel, where Phidias says that his statue of Athena has just been completed, and, later on, a very young Aristophanes (mistaken for a teenaged boy by Rhesos) announces that he is preparing to stage his Banqueters.5

Moreover, Kebren's speech at Otanes' funeral is likened to Pericles' funeral oration, which is cited by Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War6 Pericles' speech was delivered at the burial of the first Athenian war dead a year after the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC. This means that the opening of Aphrodite's temple in Moore's novel, on which occasion Pericles' funeral oration is recalled, must be at least one year later than 430 BC. The statement that "Aulis would soon rival Corinth",7 on the other hand, which is one of Thyonicus' arguments in support of the view that the temple in Aulis should be dedicated to Aphrodite, is more likely to be a reference to Corinth at the time when the city was still powerful and prosperous, and certainly before the late 430s BC, when Corinthian economy started to decline dramatically due to its active involvement in the Peloponnesian War.

However, if the early 420s BC are accepted as chronological backdrop to the second half of Moore's novel, the picture of the Greek world that the novelist draws is different from the historical events of that period: relations between Greek city-states had been particularly tense in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War.8 Boeotia, with the sole exception of Plataea, had sided with the Peloponnesians against the neighbouring city-state of Athens, and had been engaging in hostile action for several decades before the war started. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ancient Greece and the Art of Storytelling in George Moore's Aphrodite in Aulis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.