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The Poetics of Eros in Ancient Greece

The Poetics of Eros in Ancient Greece


By (author) Claude Calame, Translated by Janet Lloyd

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 200 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 236mm x 25mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 2 May 1999
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691043418
  • ISBN 13: 9780691043418
  • Illustrations note: 1, black & white illustrations

Product description

"The Poetics of Eros in Ancient Greece" offers the first comprehensive inquiry into the deity of sexual love, a power that permeated daily Greek life. Avoiding Foucault's philosophical paradigm of dominance/submission, Claude Calame uses an anthropological and linguistic approach to re-create indigenous categories of erotic love. He maintains that Eros, the joyful companion of Aphrodite, was a divine figure around which poets constructed a physiology of desire that functioned in specific ways within a network of social relations. Calame begins by showing how poetry and iconography gave a rich variety of expression to the concept of Eros, then delivers a history of the deity's roles within social and political institutions, and concludes with a discussion of an Eros-centered metaphysics. Calame's treatment of archaic and classical Greek institutions reveals Eros at work in initiation rites and celebrations, educational practices, the Dionysiac theater of tragedy and comedy, and in real and imagined spatial settings. For men, Eros functioned particularly in the symposium and the gymnasium, places where men and boys interacted and where future citizens were educated. The household was the setting where girls, brides, and adult wives learned their erotic roles - as such it provides the context for understanding female rites of passage and the problematics of sexuality in conjugal relations. Through analyses of both Greek language and practices, Calame offers a fresh, subtle reading of relations between individuals as well as a quick-paced and fascinating overview of Eros in Greek society at large.

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations xi Foreword xiii Preface xvii Note on Translations xix List of Abbreviations xxi TRAGIC PRELUDE The Yoke of Eros 3 PART ONE: THE TOPICS OF EROS 11 CHAPTER I The Eros of the Melic Poets 13 1. The Actions of Bittersweet Eros 14 2. Physiologies of Erotic Desire 19 3. Strategies of Love 23 4. A Variety of Passions 29 5. Metaphors for the Assuaging of Desire 33 6. The Erotic Charms of Poetry 36 CHAPTER II The Eros of Epic Poetry 39 1. Scenes of Mutual Love 39 2. Scenes of Seduction 43 3. Beguiling Words 46 PART TWO: THE SYMBOLIC PRACTICES OF EROS 49 CHAPTER III The Pragmatic Effects of Love Poetry 51 1. The Erotic Functions of Melic Poetry 52 2. The Loves of Alexandrian Writers 56 CHAPTER IV The Pragmatics of Erotic Iconography 65 1. Figurative Representations of Love 65 2. The Functions of Erotic Images 72 PART THREE: EROS IN SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 89 CHAPTER V Eros in the Masculine: The polis 91 1. The Propaedeutic Practices of the Symposium 93 2. Erotic Practices of the Palaestra 101 CHAPTER VI Eros in the Feminine: The Oikos 110 1. An Intermediate Status: The Hetaira at the Banquet 111 2. The Transition to Maturity: The Young Wife 116 CHAPTER VII Dionysiac Challenges to Love 130 1. The Institution of Comedy 133 2. The Institution of Tragedy 141 PART FOUR: THE SPACES OF EROS 151 CHAPTER VIII The Meadows and Gardens of Legend 153 1. Eroticized Meadows 154 2. The Orchards and Gardens of Aphrodite 157 3. Flowers, Fruits, and Cereals 160 CHAPTER IX The Meadows and Gardens of the Poets 165 1. The Metaphorical Spaces of Love 165 2. The Ideal Domains of the Gods 167 3. Religious Gardens 170 PART FIVE: THE METAPHYSICS OF EROS 175 CHAPTER X Eros as Demiurge and Philosopher 177 1. Eros as a Cosmogonic Principle 178 2. Erotic Forms of the Initiation to Beauty 181 3. Love as a Metaphysician 186 CHAPTER XI Mystic Eros 192 1. Eros in the Orphic Theogonies 193 2. The Mystic Aspects of Eros 195 ELEGIAC CODA Eros the Educator 198 Bibliography 201 Name Index 207 Subject Index 211