A Moment's Ornament

A Moment's Ornament : The Poetics of Nympholepsy in Ancient Greece

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From Hesiod's first person account of his encounters with the Muses on Mount Helikon to Theokritos' nymphs, love between goddesses and mortal men provides the ancient Greeks with a way of articulating both the genealogical and cultic connection to their gods and to their past. A Moment's Ornament examines the theme of nympholepsy-the experience of being "seized" by a nymph or a goddess-in ancient Greek cult and poetry from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period. In poetry, this topos, which is ubiquitous in many of the most well-known ancient Greek sources, focuses on the figure of the goddess, or nymph, who falls in love with a mortal man and subsequently bears a mortal child. The theme also finds its way in ritual as stories of encounters between divinities and mortal men give rise to sanctuaries centering on nymphs and nympholepts. Beyond the individual dimension of the nympholeptic experience, these narratives are also integrated within the community through both poetry and shrines. Nympholeptic narratives thus articulate key elements of the bond between mortals and immortals and the connection between myth and ritual in ancient Greece. Both the cave sanctuaries founded by ancient nympholepts and the poets' narratives of love between goddesses and their mortal lovers function as "a moment's ornament" by preserving the memory of an encounter with the otherworldly at the intersection between myth and cult.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 162.56 x 236.22 x 22.86mm | 453.59g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195339363
  • 9780195339369
  • 2,021,629

About Corinne Ondine Pache

Corinne Ondine Pache is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Trinity University.show more

Review quote

A Moment's Ornament is an interesting book. The accounts of real-life nympholepts are fascinating and summarize all the available evidence, while the literary discussion of the "goddess in love" is stimulating and valuable. * Jenny Wallensten, Time & Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture * Pache's study of Greek cultic and poetic expressions of iympholepsy expands the term to its broadest possible extension, to include not only mythical or imagined seizure by nymphs [...] but also various narratives of erotic liasions between goddesses and mortals. * Hermathena No. 190 *show more