Apollonius of Rhodes and the Spaces of Hellenism

Apollonius of Rhodes and the Spaces of Hellenism

Hardback Classical Culture and Society

By (author) William G. Thalmann


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 236mm x 25mm | 544g
  • Publication date: 29 September 2011
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199731578
  • ISBN 13: 9780199731572
  • Sales rank: 1,559,221

Product description

Although Apollonius of Rhodes' extraordinary epic poem on the Argonauts' quest for the Golden Fleece has begun to get the attention it deserves, it still is not well known to many readers and scholars. This book explores the poem's relation to the conditions of its writing in third century BCE Alexandria, where a multicultural environment transformed the Greeks' understanding of themselves and the world. Apollonius uses the resources of the imagination - the myth of the Argonauts' voyage and their encounters with other peoples - to probe the expanded possibilities and the anxieties opened up when definitions of Hellenism and boundaries between Greeks and others were exposed to question. Central to this concern with definitions is the poem's representation of space. Thalmann uses spatial theories from cultural geography and anthropology to argue that the Argo's itinerary defines space from a Greek perspective that is at the same time qualified. Its limits are exposed, and the signs with which the Argonauts mark space by their passage preserve the stories of their complex interactions with non-Greeks. The book closely considers many episodes in the narrative with regard to the Argonauts' redefinition of space and the implications of their actions for the Greeks' situation in Egypt, and it ends by considering Alexandria itself as a space that accommodated both Greek and Egyptian cultures.

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Author information

William G. Thalmann is Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California

Review quote

Thalmann has done the Argonautica a real service. Jacqueline Klooster, Mnemosyne An innovative approach to a complex poem. Tim Kenny, The Journal of Hellenic Studies In focusing on cultural difference, Thalmann makes an important step forward in appreciating the Argonautika both as poetry and as a product of Ptolemaic Alexandria. He demonstrates the power of spatial analysis to connect erudition with storytelling and to uncover historical vision in what has been regarded as mere artfulness. In a theoretical argument that is both rigorous and accessible, he uses the dynamics of displacement to advance the crucial project of placing Apollonius. Frederick T. Griffiths, Classical Philology Apollonius of Rhodes and the Spaces of Hellenism is elegantly conceived, extensively researched, and beautifully written, and I have learned much in reading it. James J. Clauss, American Journal of Philology

Table of contents

1. Outline of an Approach ; 2. "The Long Pathways of the Sea": Space and Time in the Argonautika ; 3. Greece as Center ; 4. Colonial Spaces ; 5. Contact: Colchis and the Interplay of Similarity and Difference ; 6. Rivers, Shores, Margins, and Boundaries ; 7. The Roundabout Homecoming ; 8. Conclusion: Alexandria, Poetry, and Space ; References