Interpreting a Classic
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Interpreting a Classic : Demosthenes and His Ancient Commentators

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Demosthenes (384-322 b.c.) was an Athenian statesman and a widely read author whose life, times, and rhetorical abilities captivated the minds of generations. Sifting through the rubble of a mostly lost tradition of ancient scholarship, Craig A. Gibson tells the story of how one group of ancient scholars helped their readers understand this man's writings. This book collects for the first time, translates, and offers explanatory notes on all the substantial fragments of ancient philological and historical commentaries on Demosthenes. Using these texts to illuminate an important aspect of Graeco-Roman antiquity that has hitherto been difficult to glimpse, Gibson gives a detailed portrait of a scholarly industry that touched generations of ancient readers from the first century b.c. to the fifth century and beyond. In this lucidly organized work, Gibson surveys the physical form of the commentaries, traces the history of how they were passed down, and explains their sources, interests, and readership. He also includes a complete collection of Greek texts, English translations, and detailed notes on the commentaries.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 273 pages
  • 158.8 x 235.5 x 26.7mm | 544.32g
  • University of California Press
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • bibliography, notes, indexes
  • 0520229568
  • 9780520229563

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"Craig Gibson's "Interpreting a Classic," starting from the papyrus fragments of Didymus on Demosthenes' Fourth Philippie, shows just how rewarding such recondite material can be. In Gibson's hands old-fashioned philological "Wissenschaft" becomes the high-level instrument for a beautifully argued step-by-step detective investigation (complete with translation and his own commentary) of one strand in the ancient academic pursuit of truth. As Gibson says, 'At stake was nothing less than the correct interpretation of a classic, ' and this has clearly been his own guiding principle too. I cannot think of another book on so recherche a topic that so successfully combines meticulous scholarship with clarity, elegance of exposition, and an infectious enthusiasm for solving recalcitrant textual problems."Peter Green, author of "Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age" "Desmosthenes was '"the" orator, ' in the view of subsequent writers, and reading his speeches was a part of education and culture for the rest of antiquity. But ancient readers, like modern ones, needed help to interpret and situate these speeches, which were intended for an audience who knew the issues, the circumstances, and the langauge. The result was commentaries, philological and historical, designed for readers of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine times...In "Interpreting a Classic," Gibson brings this material together and uses it to write the history of an important episode of reading the classics..."Interpreting a Classic "makes a significant contribution to our understanding of scholarship in antiquity and of ancient readers."Kent Rigsby, Professor of Classics at Duke University and editor of the journal "Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies""

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Back cover copy

"Craig Gibson's "Interpreting a Classic, starting from the papyrus fragments of Didymus on Demosthenes' Fourth Philippie, shows just how rewarding such recondite material can be. In Gibson's hands old-fashioned philological "Wissenschaft becomes the high-level instrument for a beautifully argued step-by-step detective investigation (complete with translation and his own commentary) of one strand in the ancient academic pursuit of truth. As Gibson says, 'At stake was nothing less than the correct interpretation of a classic, ' and this has clearly been his own guiding principle too. I cannot think of another book on so recherche a topic that so successfully combines meticulous scholarship with clarity, elegance of exposition, and an infectious enthusiasm for solving recalcitrant textual problems."--Peter Green, author of "Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age"Desmosthenes was '"the orator, ' in the view of subsequent writers, and reading his speeches was a part of education and culture for the rest of antiquity. But ancient readers, like modern ones, needed help to interpret and situate these speeches, which were intended for an audience who knew the issues, the circumstances, and the langauge. The result was commentaries, philological and historical, designed for readers of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine times...In "Interpreting a Classic, Gibson brings this material together and uses it to write the history of an important episode of reading the classics..."Interpreting a Classic makes a significant contribution to our understanding of scholarship in antiquity and of ancient readers."--Kent Rigsby, Professor of Classics at Duke University and editorof the journal "Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies

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About Craig A. Gibson

Craig A. Gibson is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Iowa.

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Table of contents

Preface Abbreviations Introduction Part One. The Ancient Commentaries on Demosthenes 1. Form and Transmission 2. Sources, Agenda, and Readership 3. Didymus Part Two. Texts, Translations, and Notes 1. Commentary on Dem. 9--11 and 13 (P.Berol.inv. 9780) 2. Didymus Fragments in Harpocration 3. Lexicon to Dem. 23 (P.Berol.inv. 5008) 4. Commentary on Dem. 5 (P.Berol.inv. 21188) 5. Commentary on Dem. 22 (P.Stras.inv. 84) 6. Lexicon to Dem. 21 (P.Rain.inv. 7) Appendix: Rhetorical Prologue and Commentary on Dem. 21 (P.Lond.Lit. 179) Bibliography General Index Index Verborum Index Locorum

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