Personification in the Greek World

Personification in the Greek World : From Antiquity to Byzantium

Edited by Emma J. Stafford , Edited by Judith Herrin , Series edited by Professor Michael Trapp

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Personification, the anthropomorphic representation of any non-human thing, is a ubiquitous feature of ancient Greek literature and art. Natural phenomena (earth, sky, rivers), places (cities, countries), divisions of time (seasons, months, a lifetime), states of the body (health, sleep, death), emotions (love, envy, fear), and political concepts (victory, democracy, war) all appear in human, usually female, form. Some have only fleeting incarnations, others become widely-recognised figures, and others again became so firmly established as deities in the imagination of the community that they received elements of cult associated with the Olympian gods. Though often seen as a feature of the Hellenistic period, personifications can be found in literature, art and cult from the Archaic period onwards; with the development of the art of allegory in the Hellenistic period, they came to acquire more 'intellectual' overtones; the use of allegory as an interpretative tool then enabled personifications to survive the advent of Christianity, to remain familiar figures in the art and literature of Late Antiquity and beyond. The twenty-one papers presented here cover personification in Greek literature, art and religion from its pre-Homeric origins to the Byzantine period. Classical Athens features prominently, but other areas of both mainland Greece and the Greek East are well represented. Issues which come under discussion include: problems of identification and definition; the question of gender; the status of personifications in relation to the gods; the significance of personification as a literary device; the uses and meanings of personification in different visual media; personification as a means of articulating place, time and worldly power. The papers reflect the enormous range of contexts in which personification occurs, indicating the ubiquity of the phenomenon in the ancient Greek world.

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  • Hardback | 396 pages
  • 160 x 238.8 x 33mm | 725.76g
  • 30 Nov 2005
  • Ashgate Publishing Group
  • Ashgate Publishing Limited
  • Aldershot
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • Includes 72 b&w illustrations
  • 0754650316
  • 9780754650317
  • 1,722,901

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Author Information

Dr Emma Stafford is Lecturer the School of Classics at the University of Leeds, UK. Judith Herrin is Professor at the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College London, UK. Walter Burkert, Naoko Yamagata, Eva Parisinou, Diana Burton, Kerasia Stratiki, Lucas Siorvanes, Efthymios G. Lazongas, Nicolas Richer, Arlene Allan, Irina Kovaleva, Penelope Murray, Alan H. Sommerstein, Kristen Seaman, Barbara E. Borg, Amy C. Smith, Ruth Leader-Newby, Janet Huskinson, Yorgis Yatromanolakis, Iskra Gencheva-Mikami, Liz James, Elizabeth Jeffreys.

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Review quote

'Personification in the Greek World constitutes required reading for those researching personification or allegory in any period. Moreover, its wide range and interdisciplinary approach ensures that the book has relevance and appeal for a much wider audience. It will be of particular use to anyone interested in the relationships betwen men and women, art and text, and the Greeks and their gods.' Journal of Hellenic Studies

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