Silence in the Land of Logos

Silence in the Land of Logos

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In ancient Greece, the spoken word connoted power, whether in the free speech accorded to citizens or in the voice of the poet, whose song was thought to know no earthly bounds. But how did silence fit into the mental framework of a society that valued speech so highly? Here Silvia Montiglio provides the first comprehensive investigation into silence as a distinctive and meaningful phenomenon in archaic and classical Greece. Arguing that the notion of silence is not a universal given but is rather situated in a complex network of associations and values, Montiglio seeks to establish general principles for understanding silence through analyses of cultural practices, including religion, literature, and law. Unlike the silence of a Christian before an ineffable God, which signifies the uselessness of words, silence in Greek religion paradoxically expresses the power of logos--for example, during prayer and sacrifice, it serves as a shield against words that could offend the gods. Montiglio goes on to explore silence in the world of the epic hero, where words are equated with action and their absence signals paralysis or tension in power relationships. Her other examples include oratory, a practice in which citizens must balance their words with silence in very complex ways in order to show that they do not abuse their right to speak. Inquiries into lyric poetry, drama, medical writings, and historiography round out this unprecedented study, revealing silence as a force in its own more

Product details

  • Paperback | 360 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 362.87g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0691146586
  • 9780691146584
  • 1,416,307

Review quote

"[A] brilliant and important book... The Silence in the Land of Logos prompts suggestive reflection; it should be a good instrument to approach the Greek world in a different way."--Paolo Scarpi, The Journal of Religionshow more

Back cover copy

"Although silence is an important subject, it has not, until now, been treated as extensively as it should have been. Silvia Montiglio demonstrates why silence cannot be taken as a self-evident term and attempts to show how it is culturally and historically specific. Her analyses are interesting and provocative, and her methodology is up-to-date, of general interest, and well focused for the contemporary academy."--Simon Goldhill, King's College, Cambridge "This book is bound to make a great impression in the field, where it will be instantly fundamental for future readings of Greek poetry, especially tragedy, and also oratory--it will also interest a wider audience of social anthropologists, comparatists, and students of rhetoric, ancient and modern. In this serious work of cultural analysis, Silvia Montiglio articulates an entire economy of silence. Learned and exciting, this book will open up new vistas for research and understanding."--Richard Martin, Princeton Universityshow more

About Silvia Montiglio

Silvia Montiglio is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin in more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ix A Note on Sources xi Introduction 3 Chapter One: Religious Silence without an Ineffable God 9 Sonorous Prayers and Degrees of Silence 9 The Injunction of Ritual Silence 13 Silence and Impurity 17 Closing One's Lips, Closing One's Eyes: Silence in the Initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries 23 "Great Reverence for the Goddesses Holds Back the Voice" 32 To Be Silent around the Erinyes 38 Chapter Two: A Silent Body in a Sonorous World: Silence and Heroic Values in the Iliad 46 Drawing the Silent Body 46 Silence and Verbal Fighting 54 Silence in the Flow of Verbal Exchange 60 Silence and Authoritative Speech 64 Traveling Voices 68 The Resonant Voice of the Homeric Speaker 74 Overcoming Silence 77 Chapter Three: The Poet's Voice against Silence 82 Silence, Oblivion, and Blame 82 The Vocality of Poetry 91 The Boundless Spreading of Song 97 The Specter of Silent Impotence 101 Silence to Modulate Song 106 Chapter Four: "I Will Be Silent": Figures of Silence and Representations of Speaking in Athenian Oratory 116 Silence for Useful Speech? 116 The Silent Praise of Oneself 123 Insulting without Insulting 127 Aposiopesis, Euphemia, and the Forbidden 132 Perceptions of the Orator's Silence: A Rhetorical Choice or a Sign of Impotence? 137 The Voice of the Orator against the Uproar 144 For an Assembly without Silence 151 Chapter Five: Words Staging Silence 158 Uttering Silence instead of Emptying the Stage 158 Calls for Silence and Representation of the Audience 167 Long Silences 173 Silence and the Veil 176 Speaking Defines Seeing 181 Words That See Silence 188 Chapter Six: Silence and Tragic Destiny 193 Tragic Reticences 193 Apollo's Silences and Orders of Silence 199 The Failure of Auspicious Silence 204 Chapter Seven: Silence, a Herald of Death 213 Cassandra's Demystifying Silence 213 Comic Explosions of Silence 216 "I Fear Lest This Silence May Explode into Misfortunes" 220 Between Silence and Cries: Illnesses of Tragic Heroes 224 Losing One's Voice, Losing One's Life: Silence in the Hippocratic Writings 228 Phaedra's Silence: A Way of Saving Her Honor or of Letting Herself Die? 233 Silence and Suicide 238 Killing in Silence 245 Chapter Eight: Silence, Ruse, and Endurance: Odysseus and Beyond 252 Women's Silent Conniving in Greek Tragedy 252 Much-Enduring Odysseus, the Master of Cunning Silence 256 Odysseus' Silence as a Model of Behavior in the Odyssey 267 Tragic Odysseus, a Silent Deceiver 276 Ideological Uneasiness about Silence and Secrecy in Classical Athens 281 What Happens to Odysseus' Silent Endurance? 286 Conclusion 289 Select Bibliography 293 Index 309show more
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