Rosen, Ralph

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Rose Family Endowed Term Professor of Classical Studies
Ralph M. Rosen (B.A. in Greek and Latin, Swarthmore College, 1977; MA, PhD in Classical Philology, Harvard University, 1983) is the Rose Family Endowed Term Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarly interests lie broadly in Greek and Roman literature and intellectual history, with particular focus on ancient comic and satirical poetic genres. He has published widely on archaic and classical Greek poetry, and has recently completed a new book about ancient poetic mockery and satire (Making Mockery: The Poetics of Ancient Satire, forthcoming Oxford University Press, 2007). Other interests within Classical Studies include ancient medicine and philosophy; much of his current work concerns the Hippocratic tradition and the 2nd-C C.E. medical writer, Galen.
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 40
  • Publication
    The Death of Thersites and the Sympotic Performance of Iambic Mockery
    (2003-01-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M
    One of the greatest frustrations confronting the student of archaic Greek poetry is the relative paucity of evidence about performance context. It is often lamented that if we only knew more about the conditions under which a work was performed, we would be in a much better position to understand its poetics - not only its meaning and function for a putatively "original" audience, but also the vicissitudes of its afterlife. Our frustrations in this regard are particularly acute in the archaic iambus - that infamous genre of satire and personal mockery - particularly because of its many transgressive conceits (e.g., aischrologia, abusive mockery, unelevated subject matter, etc.) have always made it difficult for critics to imagine why a poet would be moved to compose this sort of poetry in the first place, and who would want to hear it. If we knew a little more than we do about the circumstances in which iambographers composed and performed, and the particular relationships they expected to develop with an audience, we would presumably be in a much better position to assess cultural attitudes toward poetic satire and mockery, as well as the general dynamics that informed the composition of such poetry.
  • Publication
    Comic Aischrology and the Urbanization of Agroikia
    (2006-01-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M
    In the preceding chapter, Helen Cullyer has lucidly shown just how complex, even contradictory, the concept of agroikia was in ancient Greek culture. On the one hand, the harsh realities of a rural life in antiquity often gave rise to the notion that agroikoi were perennially dyspeptic and incapable of experiencing pleasure; on the other hand, lacking the kind of education and socialization of their urban counterparts, the agroikos was often conceptualized as lacking self-control and so prone to vices of an opposite kind, such as unrestrained indulgence in bodily pleasures or shameful speech. Cullyer is certainly correct, therefore, to see agroikia as a multivalent term that could connote quite different things depending on who was using it, and for what purpose. But one point is perfectly clear: whether the agroikos was conceptualized as a pleasure-seeking rustic boor, or a humorless misanthrope broken by the harshness of rural life, the term itself was rarely actively positive. The word belongs predominantly to the vocabulary of opprobrium and mockery, especially, as Cullyer has shown, among ancient ethicists such as Aristotle and Theophrastus, who found little philosophically or aesthetically appealing about a rustic life.
  • Publication
    Galen on Poetic Testimony
    (2013-01-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M
    Galen had an abiding reverence for the classicized Greek poets of his day, in keeping with the prevailing cultural norms of the educated elite. He wrote monographic works on Attic comedy, and often peppered his medical treatises (particularly the psychological and propaedeutic works) with quotations from Homer, the Greek lyric poets and the tragedians. But while he regarded the study of poetry as essential for a complete education, however nebulously construed, he was conflicted about its utility for the scientific enterprise. Often in On the Opinions of Hippocrates and Plato (Plac. Hipp. Plat.), for example, Galen ridicules the Stoic Chrysippus for misusing the testimony of poets in the service of philosophical and scientific argument, while elsewhere in the treatise he freely cites classic poets as illustrative of his own arguments. In Protrepicus, too, he includes mousikē (encompassing for Galen something like our notion of ‘the literary’) as one of the ‘elevated arts’ (semnai tekhnai), the cultivation of which will help humans live according to truth and reason. This paper will examine Galen’s complicated, often inconsistent, attitude to the role of ‘literature’ in his work, focusing specifically on questions of poetic vs. logical/philosophical authority. In particular, I will discuss how Galen aligns his own practice of invoking poetic authors as evidence or exempla with Plato’s, and attempt to clarify what he believed literary testimony could contribute to his argument, both rhetorically and philosophically.
  • Publication
    Milanion, Acontius and Gallus: Vergil, Eclogue 10.52-61
    (1986) Rosen, Ralph M; Farrell, Joseph; Rosen, Ralph M; Farrell, Joseph
    In the rambling sequence of thoughts in Ecl. 10.31-69 that expresses the state of the lovesick Gallus, Vergil depicts his friend as proposing to abandoning elegy for bucolic poetry, and to take up a pair of activities resumably related to this change. These activities - carving love messages on trees and hunting - are to some extent typical of the unrequited literary, especially pastoral, lover:1
  • Publication
    'I Am Whatever You Say I Am': Satiric Program in Juvenal and Eminem
    (2002-07-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M
    Literary satire has always lent itself well to comparative study, if only because so many of its characteristic traits seem particularly stable across time and place. In another era, one might have been tempted to speak of indignation, mockery and ironic self-righteousness - to name only a few of satire's continually recurring elements - as human universals, and so to believe that as long as people find artistic outlets to represent their experience, there will always be something instantly recognizable as satire.
  • Publication
    Iambos, Comedy and the Question of Generic Affiliation
    (2013-05-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M
  • Publication
    Homer and Hesiod
    (1997) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M
    One of the most frustrating aspects of Homeric studies is that so little literary material outside the Homeric corpus itself survives to enhance our understanding of the cultural landscape of the period. Recent scholarship suggests that a large and diverse poetic tradition lay behind the figure we refer to as "Homer," but little of it survives. Indeed we have little continuous written Greek for another century. The one exception is Hesiod, who composed two extant poems, the Theogony and Works and Days, and possibly several others, including the Shield of Heracles and the Catalogue of Women. As we shall see, while Hesiodic poetry was not occupied specifically with heroic themes, it was part of the same formal tradition of epic, sharing with Homer key metrical, dialectal, and dictional features.
  • Publication
    The Andreia of the Hippocratic Physician and the Problem of Incurables
    (2003-01-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M; Horstmanshoff, H.F. J
    One of the most enduring metaphors of Western medicine has been its conception of illness as an invasive enemy against which the patient and doctor must join forces to do battle. Indeed, the more invisible and mysterious the processes of disease, the more vividly do people seem to invoke the metaphor. So it is not surprising to find that in antiquity, when the etiology and control of disease was considerably more elusive than it is today, the notion of the body as a battlefield pervaded the medical treatises both implicitly and explicitly.1
  • Publication
    Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Eros
    (2013-01-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph M
    Eros and "the erotic' are terms generally applied to psychological and emotional states, but as most people know from personal experience, it can be small step from teh psychological to the physical. From ancient poetry to the pop songs of our own day, the effects of love on teh body have been well catalogues and long lamented, and in extreme cases the doctors have to be brought in. Greek medical writers have not left us copious clinical discussions of the physical consequences of eros, but they have certainly aware that an individual's emotional state could be prodoundly affect the body, and erotic desire was commonly implicated in a variety of physical pathologies. Just where - or how - these emotional state could profoundly affect the body was a constant puzzle for Green and Roman doctors, especially those whose materialist orientation encouraged them to map emotional states on to specific organs.
  • Publication
    The Syriac Galen Palimpsest Project: An Introduction
    (2019-05-09) Noel, William; Rosen, Ralph M; Noel, William; Rosen, Ralph M