Category Archives: Research

Without Lies or Deception

Working Papers on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.28 (17/3/15)

‘Without Lies or Deception: Greco-Roman Cultural Protocols of Oracular Truth and Authority in the New Testament Letter to Titus’                          J. Albert Harrill

Abstract for a paper given at the project’s 3rd Literary Interactions conference, in Boston, 18-19 June 2015:

The Deutero-Pauline epistle to Titus (ca. 95–125), addressed to Paul’s alleged co-worker in Crete, deploys a polemic against opponents (“foolish talkers and deceivers”), which takes the form of a famous proverb advancing ethnic stereotype about the island’s entire populace: “There are also many rebellious people, idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision; they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what it is not right to teach. It was one of them, their very own prophet, who said, ‘Cretans are mostly liars, brutes and loitering gluttons.’ This testimony is true! For this reason, rebuke them sharply, so that they may become sound [‘healthy’] in the faith” (Titus 1:10–13). The assertion that the Cretans are liars appears in the Hymn of Callimachus to Zeus and other writings, as commentators have noticed. My paper aims, first, to investigate Titus’s intertextual use of this proverb by focusing on its claim that the testimony is true even though it comes from “pagan” prophecy. Then, I plan to contextualize the epistle’s wider claim that the Apostle Paul’s teaching is, like the Cretan proverb, also an oracle without lies and deception. The goal of my paper is thus to investigate an intertextual allusion in early Christian literature in light of its cultural and artistic protocols on the truth and authority of oracles in the Trajanic and Hadrianic eras.

Just Friends: Talking about Patronage with Plutarch and Pliny

Working Papers on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.27 (17/3/15)

‘Just Friends: Talking about Patronage with Plutarch and Pliny’                          Dana Fields

Abstract for a paper given at the project’s 3rd Literary Interactions conference, in Boston, 18-19 June 2015:

Greek and Roman elites in the age of Trajan inhabited an increasingly shared social environment, as reflected in literary works like Plutarch’s Sympotic Questions. This paper uses Plutarch and Pliny to test the limits of cultural sharing on the subject of patronage, within that shared social world.

Plutarch’s How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend focuses on unequal relationships between elites and proclaims that it will help its reader (at first presumed to be a man in an exalted social position) detect flatterers among his inferiors. However, the last third of the essay consists of advice that is aimed rather at helping the inferior man in such a relationship negotiate the tricky gap between the Greek aristocratic (and especially sympotic) ideal of equality and a reality in which Roman hierarchy has created greater stratification between members of the elite.

I set this work beside Pliny’s Letters to contrast the ways in which these authors discuss (or avoid discussing) aristocratic patronage. While both authors couch their references to patronage among elites in the language of friendship (which Richard Saller has identified as a way of avoiding the demeaning associations of the cliens), Pliny talks much more about mutual obligation, acknowledging the social ties of patronage even as he avoids its name. He is clearly aware of hierarchy in such relationships (see e.g. Letter 7.3, with its reference to “amicitiae tam superiores quam minores”), but this in itself does not seem to be a source of concern. By contrast, Plutarch’s text suggests discomfort with the very existence of such inequality and dependency among elites, owing in part to a deep-seated Greek conception of freedom as rooted in individual self-sufficiency (autarkeia).

 

Cato the Elder and Cultural Memory

Working Papers on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.26 (17/3/15)

‘Cato the Elder and Cultural Memory’                               Martin Dinter

Abstract for a paper given at the project’s 3rd Literary Interactions conference, in Boston, 18-19 June 2015:

Cato the Elder holds a privileged place in Roman cultural memory. Not only do we have his image defined (or let’s say distilled) early on by Cornelius Nepos’ mini-biography but he was also evidently such a prominent figure in the public consciousness that Cicero in his Cato Maior de senectute could presume him to be well known to his audience and draws upon his character accordingly.

This paper will address Cato’s reception towards the end of the first and beginning of the second century AD. Whilst frequently referenced in Quintilian’s and Frontinus’ writings – so obviously Cato was still part of the cultural matrix of the time – I shall trace the ‘image’ of Cato (or what remains of it) in the works of Martial and Juvenal in particular and then provide a link to the extensive and detailed lore that Plutarch provides in his appreciation of Cato’s life (one would not want to call it a biography). Martial references Cato twice in the prefatio to his first book of epigrams alone and numerous times throughout his epigrammatic oeuvre. Juvenal evokes Cato just twice but his brief references tab into much the same cultural memory Martial’s epigrammatic wit relies upon. Comparison with material provided by Valerius Maximus on the one hand and biographical lore embellished by Plutarch on the other will demonstrate how the image of Cato the Elder has been adapted, compressed and then expanded again under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian.

Pliny’s Letters and Martial’s Epigrams

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.24 (4/8/14)

At non erunt aeterna, quae scripsit’: Pliny’s Letters and Martial’s Epigrams ’                                                                                            Margot Neger, 4th August, 2014

This working paper is a first draft of a paper on Pliny’s interaction with Martial’s epigrams and vice versa. It investigates how Pliny and Martial functionalize each other for their literary self-characterisation in Epist. 3.21 and Mart. 10.20[19]. Moreover, Martial’s Trajanic Book 10 seems to have been of special interest to Pliny; apart from Martial’s prose-prefaces, which are shaped as letters, Pliny also alludes to epigrams which play with the conventions of epistolarity. Thus, Martial seems to rival Pliny not only as a writer of small-scale poetry in the tradition of Catullus but also as someone experimenting in the field of epistolography.

Pliny’s Letters and Martial’s Epigrams

 

The Empire of Letters

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.23 (16/7/14)

‘The Empire of Letters: Book 10 of Pliny’s Letters and imperial correspondence’                                                                                            Myles Lavan, 16th July, 2014

This working paper is an abstract for a chapter that will be published in the forthcoming edited volume Literary Interactions under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian: volume 1 (edd. A. König & C. Whitton). It outlines a new approach to Pliny’s tenth book of letters that will consider it in the light of other imperial correspondence – and the implications which that raises for how we are to read it as a book. Among other things, the chapter will draw attention to interactions between ‘literary’ and non-‘literary’ spheres of activity, at the level of consumption as well as production.

The Empire of Letters

Images of Domitius Apollinaris in Martial and Pliny

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.22 (14/7/14)

‘Images of Domitius Apollinaris in Martial and Pliny: Intertextual discourses as aspects of self-definition and differentiation’                                                                                            Sigrid Mratschek, 14th July, 2014

This working paper summarises a paper that was presented at the recent Literary Interactions conference in Rostock (June 19-20, 2014), which examined Martial and Pliny’s treatment of Domitius Apollinaris as a way of exploring (inter alia) the interplay between different authors and genres.

Images of Domitius Apollinaris

Exemplarity: Beyond Intertextuality

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.20 (20/5/14)

‘Exemplarity: Beyond Intertextuality’                                                                                            Rebecca Langlands, 20th May, 2014

This working paper is an abstract for a paper that was presented at the project’s second conference in Rostock. It examines an exemplary anecdote narrated by both Suetonius and Tacitus, and considers the reasons why the two authors tell and contextualise the anecdote so differently. What might it tell us about post-Flavian approaches to exemplarity? What kind of intertextuality is at work here? What might it tell us about the evolution of exemplary stories into a form of cultural memory that transcended their textual existence? And what ongoing interaction between written exempla and cultural memory is recoverable here?

Exemplarity: Beyond Intertextuality

The Regulus Connection

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.19 (21/4/14)

‘The Regulus Connection: displacing Lucan between Martial and Pliny’                                                                                            Ilaria Marchesi, 21st April, 2014

This working paper is an abstract for a paper that was presented at the project’s second conference in Rostock, on Lucan’s presence and absence in the works of Martial and Pliny the Younger.

The Regulus Connection: displacing Lucan between Martial and Pliny

Eloquence rules: Hadrian in Fronto’s correspondence

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.18 (17/3/14)

‘Eloquence Rules: the ambiguous image of Hadrian in Fronto’s correspondence’                                                                                            Wytse Keulen, 14th March, 2014

This working paper outlines ideas for a future article on interactions between imperial figures and their literary and intellectual correspondents/dependents in the early Antonine age.

Eloquence Rules

Ordering without a system: Roman knowledge order(s)

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.16 (22/1/14)

‘Ordering without a system: Roman knowledge order(s)’                                                                                                      Greg Woolf, 22nd January 2014

This working paper is an unrevised text of a paper delivered at the conference ‘Libraries, Lives and the Organization of Knowledge in the Pre-Modern World, organized by Christopher Celenza, Thomas Hendrickson and Irene SanPietro. It draws on work recently conducted for the St Andrews-based Leverhulme Science and Empire project on ancient libraries and premodern encyclopaedism to discuss ancient habits of and attitudes to knowledge orders. Ordering of knowledge, it argues, was a constant rhetorical and intellectual concern; but no single taxonomy of academic knowledge emerged from this activity, with profound implications for the trajectory followed by ancient scholarship. Though it does not focus exclusively on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic material, it touches on a number of texts and institutions of interest to the Literary Interactions project, and makes important points along the way about interactions (and indeed gaps in interaction) between libraries, literary production and consumption, and other intellectual endeavours.

Ordering Without a System

This paper intersects with a number of other Working Papers published here, in particular Library Building under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian.