Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)
For over two centuries Penn has offered a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs representing all aspects of the broad field of Classical Studies, from languages and literature to history, archaeology and cultural studies. The Department encourages interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to teaching and research and maintains productive ties with a variety of programs, including Religious Studies, English, Comparative Literature, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Linguistics, Italian Studies, History of Art, and the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
PublicationReview of Peter A.J. Attema and Günter Schörner, Comparative Issues in the Archaeology of the Roman Rural Landscape: Site Classification Between Survey, Excavation and Historical Categories(2014-01-01) Bowes, Kimberly; Bowes, KimberlyThis fine volume is a natural successor to the two fundamental Mediterranean field survey collections: Extracting Meaning from Ploughsoil Assemblages (R. Francovich, H. Patterson, and G. Barker, eds. [Oxford 2000]) and Side by Side Survey (S. Alcock and J. Cherry, eds. [Oxford 2004]). Its best essays illustrate the advances in both methodology and theory that have characterized landscape archaeology over the decade since those fundamental volumes were published. The volume takes up the problem of classification, that is, the interpretative and evidentiary basis by which surface survey material is functionally classified. Both intentionally and tacitly, the volume also illustrates the assumptions underlying all classificatory systems and thus the challenges surface survey faces as a stand-alone tool for historical interpretation. PublicationReimagining Ancient Italy: New Directions in Italian Archaeology(2011-01-01) Bowes, Kimberly; Bowes, KimberlyIn the modern imagination, Italy is a land of rolling vineyards, dramatic coastal vistas, and of course, extraordinary food— infinite varieties of pasta, delicate pastries, rich cheeses, and earthy wines. Italian archaeology does not perhaps conjure up quite such an image of richness and diversity. The great monuments of Rome—the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and the catacombs—have dominated foreigners’ experience of Italian archaeology since the era of the Grand Tour. The practice of archaeology was, until the 1960s, similarly limited: the search for Greco-Roman antiquities— sculpture, vases, temples, and rich houses—preoccupied Italian and foreign archaeologists alike, and modern archaeological technique was slow to take hold. PublicationIamblichus on Divination: Divine Power and Human Intuition(2017-01-01) Struck, Peter T; Struck, Peter TAcross the ancient Graeco-Roman world, divination is among the most salient ways in which the power of the divine involves itself in the human world. Of course, one could wait for a miracle, but the gods were talking to us all the time, and it would have been an utterly common occurrence for ancient observers to sense their gods' power emanating through the signs that were understood to course through the world around us. For decades, scholars have positioned these signs primarily as levers of social power. This has made the topic the province of historians and anthropologists seeking to gain a purchase on how those in control, and sometimes those from outside, harness the authority of the divine voice for their own ends. This approach has opened up rich veins of inquiry, with conversations across disciplinary boundaries and between students of different cultures and time periods. PublicationAnimals and Divination(2014-01-01) Struck, Peter T; Struck, Peter TThis chapter examines the role of animals in divination in ancient times. It discusses ancient observers' interpretaion of signs coming from instinctive animal behaviour and from the structure of animal body parts. It explains the three main currents of philosophical thought on divination. Plato and Aristotle believed the divinatory insights to be tied with animal instinct and belong to a fringe form of cognition that is specifically connected with humans' animal natures. On the other hand, the Stoics considered divination as an important piece of their understanding of the cosmos as a whole, and of humans as part of it. PublicationAllegory and Ascent in Neoplatonism(2010-01-01) Struck, Peter T; Struck, Peter TIn Late Antiquity a series of ideas emerges that adds a kind of buoyancy to allegorism. Readers' impulses toward other regions of knowledge begin to flow more consistently upward, drawn by various metaphysical currents that guide and support them. A whole manner of Platonist-inspired architectures structure the cosmos in the early centuries of the Common Era, among thinkers as diverse as the well-known Origen and the mysterious Numenius. Plato's understanding of appearances had always insisted on some higher, unfallen level of reality, in which the forms dwell, and to which we have no access through our senses. This other level seems to invite allegorical aspirations. Of course, Plato himself prominently declined the invitation, and it is no small irony that his work should have become the font of such heady visions. PublicationPlato and Divination(2014-01-01) Struck, Peter T; Struck, Peter TPlato uses the idea of divinatory knowledge as a metaphorical descriptor for a variety of kinds of daytime, waking knowing. What unites these examples is that they all include discussion of a kind of knowing that cannot account for itself, and that is tentative, imagistic and non-discursive. These metaphorical uses can further be illuminated by his more detailed discussion of divinatory knowledge itself in Timeaus. PublicationViscera and the Divine: Dreams at the Divinatory Bridge between the Corporeal and the Incorporeal(2003-01-01) Struck, Peter T; Struck, Peter TDreams are perhaps the ancient world's most-traveled brdige between the heavens and the individual. As a form of divination, dreams play a pivotal role from Homer through the late Neoplatonist Synesius (ca. 370-413 C.E.). The dream serves as a conduit for a message from the world beyond. According to the traditional view, on which there are a hundred variations, the source is an authority figure or a god who either appears in person at the headd of the sleeper or generates a phantom drama with a hidden message. In the medical corpus, dreams also produce ties between the individual and the larger cosmos. In incubation rites that were widely practiced in Greek and Roman times, the dream served as a vehicle for the god Asclepius to make his visitation to the patient. In the Hippocratic corpus also, as I discuss shortly, dreams remain a linking agent between the individual and the larger cosmos. When these traditions of divination, incubation, and medicine are placed alongside one another, a somewhat counterintuitive fact emerges. While is is perhaps no surprise that dreams reach outward toward the furthest reaches of the stars and the gods—as is customary with divinatory systems—it is somewhat of a surprise to see that ancient dreams also consistently reach inward, inside the human body, toward the extreme reaches of the internal organs. In fact, many testimonia on dreams from the ancient world display a certain fixation on internal organs. One cannot but recall the sad tales from the Roman period of Aelius Aristides (117-89), who writes page after page on absinthe-induced dreams and diseases, documenting divine intrusions into nearly all his bodily organs. In this movement, dreams do not stand outside the rather common Mediterranean tendency, exhibited in extispicies of all kinds, to see the divine in the viscera.1 But I will take a closer look at three of our earliest detailed attestations of this double movement from the self, outward toward the gods and inward toward the organs. After a brief look at the famous stela from the Asclepian temple at Epidaurus (second half of the fourth century B.C.E.), I will examine more closely the Hippocratic treatise On Regimen (likely early fourth century B.C.E.) and Plato's Timaeus (first half of the fourth century B.C.E.). PublicationThe Invention of Mythic Truth in Antiquity(2009-01-01) Struck, Peter T; Struck, Peter TIt is commonly understood that the Greek term mythos means something entirely different from the modern definitions of 'myth'. Liddell and Scott tells the most authoritative version of the story: in Homer the term is a rather generic word for speech, and by the classical period it comes to mean something like a tall tale, usually a false and absurd one. Plato in the Gorgias opposes a mythos to a logos (a rational account) and to speaking truthfully: "Listen, then, as they say, to a beautiful story, which you will consider a myth, I think, but which I consider an actual accont (logon); for the things which I am about to tell, I will tell as the truth" (Plat. Gorg. 523a). Aristotle later coins it to mean the plot of a tragedy, and there the story seems to end. Though I have of course streamlined a bit, there are no other major developments. The ancient traditions of mythography do very little to challenge this narrative, since they display mostly antiquarian interest, where the concern for any truth-value is bracketed. PublicationA Cognitive History of Divination in Ancient Greece(2016-01-01) Struck, Peter T; Struck, Peter TFor many millenia and across the whole Old World, from Eastern to Western Eurasia, and fro the tip of Southern Africa to the highlands of Britannia, people were in the habit of practicing divination, or the art of translating information from their gods into the realm of human knowledge. On a scale whose breadth we have yet to fully appreciate, they assumed clandestine signs were continuously being revealed through the natural world and its creatures (including their own bodies, asleep or awake). They received messages from temple-based oracles, as well as in their dreams, from the entrails of the animals they killed, from lightning, fire, lots, pebbles, livers, fired tortoise shells, the stars, birds, the wind, and nearly anything else that moved.1 These practices were not, for the most part, considered esoteric or marginal. The inclinations of the divine, like the weather, were simply a part of the ancient atmosphere, and just about wherever we look in the sources, we find people trying to gauge the prevailing winds. Scholars have yet to take account of the extraordinary diffusion of the phenomenon. It belongs to a small group of rather widely shared cultural forms from antiquity, alongside things like myth or sacrifice. While surely there is no easy, global answer as to why this is the case, better local answers will emerge from a fuller reckoning with this fact of near universal diffusion. PublicationAristophanes' Frogs and the Contest of Homer and Hesiod(2004-10-01) Rosen, Ralph M; Rosen, Ralph MDionysus' unexpected decision at the end of the play is generally thought to reflect the notion that poets such as Aeschylus and Euripides had practical moral insight to offer their audiences and to promote an "Aeschylean" over a "Euripidean" approach to life. I argue, however, that this ending offers a curiously offbeat combination of aesthetic insight and intertextual playfulness that ultimately relieves the Aristophanic Aeschylus and Euripides of the moralizing burden they have had to shoulder for so long. My reasons for suggesting this arise from consideration of the relationship between Frogs and another literary text that featured a high-profile poetic contest, namely, the Contest of Homer and Hesiod.