Issue 2

Issue 2 (2012)




Book Reviews

Review of Russell Zguta, Russian Minstrels: A History of the Skomorokhi
Sean Guynes, Western Washington University


Senior Theses

Induit me dominus ciclade auro: The Ordo Virtutum as Liturgical Commentary
Laura Ferris, University of California, Berkeley

During the twentieth century historians have gone from dismissing mystic Hildegard of Bingen’s poetic work as bad Latin to lionizing Hildegard for her anachronistic genius. The task of contemporary Hildegardian scholars is to honor her individuality while elucidating her significance for the twelfth-century “Renaissance.” In this study of her musical drama, the Ordo Virtutum, I challenge and modify other historians’ theories of when the play could have been performed to lay the foundation for an argument that the Ordo Virtutum can be interpreted as a liturgical commentary on the mass for the Consecration of Virgins and a detailed analysis of what comments Hildegard makes on this section of the liturgy, using the text of the play and the ordo in the Mainz Pontifical as my two primary sources. I conclude that the field of Hildegardian studies would benefit from more in-depth and highly detailed intertextual analysis focusing on her debt to the liturgy of the twelfth century along with other texts she alludes to, and that this more literary approach may be the key to decoding and articulating her role and significance in her historical context, thus ending her isolation as a peculiar visionary.


Articles—Ancient & Classical

Feeling and Belonging in the Philoctetes
Matthew Bock, Vassar College

This paper explores the tension between openness to oneself and membership in ones community by assessing the disparate accounts of Philoctetes’ abandonment on Lemnos provided by Odysseus and Philoctetes himself. This tension seems to surface not only in Sophocles’ Philoctetes but throughout much of ancient Greek literature. 


Aeneas’s Labyrinth and the Fall of Troy
Alexander J. Clayborne, University of Maryland

This paper explores the use of the Labyrinth image in the Aeneid, Book 2. It identifies the latent labyrinth image and proceeds to draw comparisons between the latent labyrinth in Aeneid 2 and the more explicit labyrinth of Aeneid 6. It then goes on to show how Vergil uses this image and it’s implications to efface his own narrative voice in Aeneid 2 and replaces it with Aeneas’ own. Thus Aeneas has as much authority in the narrative as does the poet himself.


The Change in Rite: From Inhumation to Cremation During the Greek Dark Ages
Adam DiBattista, Boston University

This paper is a re-examination of the cause of the widespread change in burial rite from inhumation to cremation during the end of the Mycenaean culture. Cremation had previously been explained as a function of Anatolian influence. This paper seeks to explain why internal societal influence is a more likely explanation for the cremation phenomenon. By examining the arrangement of grave goods, the extent of cremation, and textual evidence, I argue that previous Mycenaean practices were responsible for the emergence of cremation.


An Archaeological Approach to “Hellenization” in the Seleucid Empire
Nicolas Gauthier, Boston University

The remains of Seleucid cities in the Near East such as Aï Khánum and Seleucia on the Tigris have long defied explanation.  Both Hellenic and Near Eastern peoples once inhabited these cities, and the evidence for the types of interactions they once had is contradictory.  Did they form a new culture that was a pure hybrid of what had come before? Did the Greeks live separately from the natives, as the latter underwent an inexorable process of “Hellenization”?  This paper will investigate which domains of Greek culture were open to mixing and which were carefully preserved during the Hellenization of the former Persian Empire, and venture explanations as to why. Emphasis is placed on the active role of material culture in constructing ethnic identities in light of large-scale intermarriage during the initial years of these cities.


From Mockery to Respect: The Housekeeper’s Suicide in Apuleius’s The Golden Ass
Chiara Graf, University of Chicago

Apuleius’s The Golden Ass is one of the few surviving Roman novels, told from the unique first-person persepctive of Lucius, a man who has turned into a donkey and is trapped in abusive servitude. The novel is peppered with a variety of colorful minor characters. This paper explores the shifting relationship between Lucius and one such minor character, the nameless housekeeper of his captors. When Lucius first encounters the housekeeper, he mocks her weakness and subservience, but his contempt changes into respect after two simultaneous events: Lucius’ failed escape and the housekeeper’s suicide. This paper will argue that Lucius’ changing perspective on the nameless housekeeper reflects his changing view of himself. While his previously confident attitude allowed him to mock the old woman, Lucius’ failed attempt at escaping his captors forces him to face his own captivity and respect certain subtly rebellious elements of the housekeeper’s suicide. Thus, Lucius learns the power of humility, a principle to which he will adhere more fully at the end of the novel as a devotee to the goddess Isis.


Provincial Identity in a Roman World: Thugga (Dougga)
Devyn Hunter, James Madison University

The Roman Empire included vast territories and groups of people, in which unique identities and cultures merged.  This phenomenon did not happen in a unidirectional or predictable way, but instead amassed a great deal of regional and intraregional variety.  In order to understand the process of change and integration of the indigenous and Roman cultures that occurred during the Roman Empire, it is beneficial to begin with a small scope and progress towards the larger picture.  In this paper I will focus on the identity of Roman North Africa, and specifically on one city in that province, Thugga (modern day Dougga), the best-preserved Roman city in Tunisia. The city of Thugga serves not so much as a model for the cultural trend in Roman North Africa in general, but as a case study for analyzing the process and idiosyncrasies of that dynamic in one particular location.


Celticity: Migration or Fashion?
Samantha Leggett, The University of Sydney

The definition of the Celts and Celtic is at the core of Celtic Studies, either in antiquity or the early medieval period. The modern pop-culture understanding of the people, and their culture is very different to the evidence from ancient times; however even when examining archaeological sites and the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans we find discontinuities. The archaeological evidence shows a migration of culture from the Celtic homeland in central continental Europe, a myriad of Halstatt and La Tène artefacts, stone henges and circles, scattered across Gaul and into the British Isles (the home of the modern day Celts). The historical record sees a distinction between the Keltoi/Gauls and the tribes of the British Isles, however similarities between them are apparent. The linguistic evidence is unclear, showing some relationships between the British Celts and the ancient Keltoi, but nothing definitive. The genetic evidence gives the clearest answer to the question “Celticity: Migration or Fashion?”, that the Celts of the British Isles are not genetically related to the original ancient Keltoi (not recently). This paper ultimately shows that Celticity was due to the spread of fashion and not an actual migration of people from the Celtic homeland.


Aristotle’s Theory of Colors
John Lindsay, Stanford University

This paper presents two Aristotelian explanations of color: a locational and a material. It presents both definitions, and then it focuses on his material explanation- specifically how to understand what black and white constitute and are constituted by. It argues that black and white are ontologically basic (not constituted by smaller particles). The amount of fire in the determinate body determines the amount of black and white particles, and a high degree of transparency decreases the proportion of black to white particles, and a low degree increases it. Considering the relationship between black and white and the basic qualities hot, cold, wet, and dry, the basic qualities determine which kind of determinate body is present, but they do not constitute the black and white upon that body.


The Absence of Archaic Altruism: Hesiod’s Greek Deities and Their Effect on Humanity
Lauren Owen, Gordon College

As Greece emerged from the Dark Ages following the invasion of the Sea Peoples, farmers and townspeople of the early first millennium B.C.E. faced the task of rebuilding a shattered society. Few written records remain from the era, but historians continue to turn to Hesiod for assistance in reconstructing the cultural and societal norms. More of a pessimist than his contemporary Homer, Hesiod’s works depict a Greek society run by the whimsical and self-serving nature of a pantheon of deities, most of whom have little regard for humanity. As a result of this morality—or perhaps immorality—displayed in Theogony, Hesiod then provides advice to fellow Archaic Greeks in Works and Days that reveals a society concerned with survival at the hands of merciless gods. Thus, despite the lack of a historical analysis of civilization that might come with authors such as Thucydides, Hesiod’s text continues to aid in a reconstruction of ancient Greek culture.


Delia as Nemesis: The Tibullan Mistress Evolved
Andrea Potti, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The Tibullan poetic mistresses are commonly considered independent of one another. Unlike Propertius and Ovid, the collection addresses two mistresses, Delia of Book I and Nemesis of Book II, whose pseudonym is identified with the goddess of the same name.  Although it seems that the poet-lover has adopted a new beloved in the second work, he never formally introduces her nor does he dismiss Delia.  Further, there is a distinctive shift in poetic disposition that accompanies the Nemesis cycle, the genesis of which begins to take shape in Book I.  This paper examines these developments and explores the idea of continuity between the works and the development of the poetic perspective. I will argue that it is not the new mistress that effects the speaker’s transformation but rather, the poet’s characterization of the mistress is a product of this conversion. The poet-lover’s fruitless attempts in love encourage an aberrant deification of the beloved in an effort to satisfy his infatuation. This paper discusses the intertextual transformations that take place between Books I and II as a reflection the poet-lover’s fixated amorous condition and considers the identity of Nemesis as the evolved Delia of Book I.


Sexual Morality in Ancient Egyptian Literature
James Walsh, Brown University

Ancient Egyptian literature often incorporates sexual ethics that are not fully explained or comprehensively explored within the works. It is often difficult for a modern reader to understand these sexual ethics. Generally, the ancient Egyptian literary corpus assumes a cultural context with which ancient Egyptian readers were familiar. In this paper, I argue that the religious and cultural practices of ancient Egypt were inseparable from common customs, including sexual, reproductive, and erotic customs. I appeal to archaeological and other historical records to illuminate some of the more confusing sexual elements of numerous literary works. Throughout, I try to remain mindful of the differences in sexual morality in ancient Egyptian society between commoners and royalty, between the indigenous population and Greek or Roman immigrants, and between inhabitants of the civilization at different time periods.


Articles—Late Antiquity & Medieval

Reflections on the Malleus Maleficarum in Light of the Trial of Joan of Arc
Lisa Cant, Columbia University

The sensational European witchcraft trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had their foundations in medieval ideologies.  In 1487 Heinrich Institoris, with some help from James Sprenger, published what became the definitive text on the subject, called the Malleus Maleficarum, or the Hammer of Witches. Within fifty years, the position put forth in the treatise became widely accepted, and it became the guidebook for judges prosecuting witchcraft trials. Did the treatise reflect what people at the time believed about witches, or was it a departure from learned thought?  About fifty-five years before the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum, Joan of Arc was tried for heresy, including witchcraft, by an ecclesiastical court. An examination of this trial reveals that, while its judges and Institoris agreed about the activities of witches, they differed on a key point: the witches’ pact with the devil. Institoris’s theoretical basis for the existence of witches was their pact, while the judges in Joan’s trial did not believe witches had these pacts. This indicates that the publication was not representative of beliefs then current in France.


The Quest for Prester John
Andrew Blake Denton, Athens State University

The Quest for Prester John explores the origin of the myth of the Eastern Christian potentate “Prester John” and follows the nearly five-century search of one of history’s most sought-after apparitions from the popular craze inaugurated by the circulation of the mysterious Letter of Prester John in the 12th century to the fruitless conclusion in the Horn of Africa in the 17th century. The social and political impact on medieval Europe is examined as well as the diplomatic blunders with the rulers of the Golden Horde and Ethiopia caused by the false hopes and assumptions. A rich (and often conflicting) variety of historical documents are consulted from The Travels of Marco Polo to Prester John of the Indies: A True Relation of the Lands of the Prester John being the narrative of the Portuguese Embassy to Ethiopia in 1520.


Eve and Her Daughters: Eve, Mary, the Virgin, and the Lintel Fragment at Autun
Jessica Ferro, University of Pennsylvania

The lintel fragment of Eve from the Cathedral of St. Lazaire at Autun has been praised by art historians as one of the greatest monumental figural works of the Romanesque period. Many have viewed this work as representing the typical image of Eve as an evil, seductive, and treacherous figure responsible for the fall of man, and whom misogynistic medieval thinkers blamed for the innately evil nature of women. However a few scholars, such as Linda Seidel, Karl Werckmeister, Denise Jalabert, and Areli Marina have noted a uniqueness in the features of this Eve figure, one which strays from the “repellently ugly or hatefully seductive” Eve that most associate with the biblical figure and her depictions in art. Seidel, briefly muses over the idea that perhaps viewers could read this figure as representing both the sinful Eve and the penitent Mary Magdalene. Building on this thought, the work of the other scholars above, and my onsite work at Autun and the surrounding sites, this paper proposes the idea of a conflation not only of Eve and Mary Magdalene but of the Virgin Mary as well. I hope to reveal, by way of formal description, short histories of the scorn of Eve, the cults of the Virgin and Mary Magdalene, and their relation to each other as well as brief comparison to the tympana at Neuilly-en-Donjon and Anzy-le-Duc, that there is a legitimate possibility that this lintel fragment was meant to bring to mind all three of these figures.


Imagining Samarkand: Fruitful Themes in 13th‒16th-Century Literature on a Silk Road City
Amanda Lanzillo, Georgetown University

The aim of this paper is to discuss the extent to which travelers, writers, poets and mythologies exchanged ideas about the city of Samarkand in the Mughal and Timurid eras causing the development of specific historical ideas surrounding this specific city.  In order to do this, the paper lays out a brief history of the city, followed by literary analyses of histories of the city. It uses these analyses to illustrate the relationships between histories and myths which arose at various points on the silk road and to point to thematic development surrounding Samarkand. In doing this, it argues that an exchange of information about the city of Samarkand led to the development of an idea of the city which continues to impact academic discussions. The paper pays particular attention to Persian and Mughal Indian materials. It relies primarily on historical accounts from the 13th-16th centuries, myths and semi-historical accounts recorded in this time about earlier eras, and poetry from across Eurasia which references the city. In other words, this paper is not meant to be a history of Samarkand itself; it is rather provides a history of the myths and stories which surround the discourse of the Samarkand.


The Poet and the Prince: A Culture of Honor in Middle Welsh Panegyric Poetry
Sebastian Rider-Bezerra, University of Rochester

Previous discussions of panegyric poetry focus on its essentially fictional nature and consider it unreliable as historical evidence. This essay presents a new paradigm for the evaluation of panegyric evidence to form significant conclusions about contemporary cultural expectations and self-perception in an honor/shame culture. This essay uses specific evidence drawn from twelfth- and thirteenth-century Welsh panegyric poetry to provide a specific implementation of the paradigm.


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