Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens by Nancy Worman

By Nancy Worman

This learn of the language of insult charts abuse in classical Athenian literature that centres at the mouth and its appetites, in particular speaking, consuming, ingesting, and sexual actions. Attic comedy, Platonic discussion, and fourth-century oratory usually installation insulting depictions of the mouth and its excesses to be able to deride expert audio system as sophists, demagogues, and girls. even though the styles of images explored are very well-known in old invective and later western literary traditions, this can be the 1st ebook to debate this phenomenon in classical literature. It responds to a growing to be curiosity in either abusive speech genres and the illustration of the physique, illuminating an iambic discourse that isolates the intemperate mouth as a visual brand of behaviours ridiculed within the democratic arenas of classical Athens.

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65 The monstrous sophist, whom commentators have likened to Callicles in Plato’s Gorgias, is a rapacious speechifier who systematically coopts and reconstitutes the careful, fair-sharing speech delivered by Odysseus, refashioning his hopeful references to feasting as sacrifice, with the guests 63 65 64 Cf. Worman 2002b. O’Sullivan 1992: 131–33. Cf. discussions in chs. 3, 4, and 6. That the Cyclops narrative turns up in comic drama and that certain comedies had satyr choruses further support this overlap.

220; cf. 228; cf. 364). 37 Melantheus’ aggressive verbal jabs suggest that the hungry belly may spoil those very rituals that are meant to sate it (cf. 38 Compare Odysseus’ remarks, as he and Eumaeus pause before his own halls. 269–71). 286; cf. 473) and drives men to war. The belly’s urgings thus not only provide the genial context for song; they may also threaten its rituals. The scene indicates the inherent dangers in the connections between eating and speaking (or singing) that go beyond the image of the lying beggar-poet.

Lateiner (1995: 189–93) tracks how Odysseus plays the beggar in his deportment and attentiveness to the body’s vulnerabilities. Cf. again Svenbro 1976: 50–59; Pucci 1987: 157–208; Rose 1992: 108–12 on the belly’s demands; Sa¨ıd 1979b on violence in the banquet setting; also Nagy 1979: 222–32; Slater 1990. The mouth and its abuses in epic, lyric, and tragedy 37 book 17. The beggar initiates the confrontation by calling on the ritual trade-off that should govern the aristocrat’s response to the hungry man.

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