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Aesopic Conversations : Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue, and the Invention of Greek Prose - Leslie Kurke

Aesopic Conversations

Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue, and the Invention of Greek Prose

Paperback

Published: 14th November 2010
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Examining the figure of Aesop and the traditions surrounding him, "Aesopic Conversations" offers a portrait of what Greek popular culture might have looked like in the ancient world. What has survived from the literary record of antiquity is almost entirely the product of an elite of birth, wealth, and education, limiting our access to a fuller range of voices from the ancient past. This book, however, explores the anonymous "Life of Aesop" and offers a different set of perspectives. Leslie Kurke argues that the traditions surrounding this strange text, when read with and against the works of Greek high culture, allow us to reconstruct an ongoing conversation of "great" and "little" traditions spanning centuries.

Evidence going back to the fifth century BCE suggests that Aesop participated in the practices of nonphilosophical wisdom ("sophia") while challenging it from below, and Kurke traces Aesop's double relation to this wisdom tradition. She also looks at the hidden influence of Aesop in early Greek mimetic or narrative prose writings, focusing particularly on the Socratic dialogues of Plato and the "Histories" of Herodotus. Challenging conventional accounts of the invention of Greek prose and recognizing the problematic sociopolitics of humble prose fable, Kurke provides a new approach to the beginnings of prose narrative and what would ultimately become the novel.

Delving into Aesop, his adventures, and his crafting of fables, "Aesopic Conversations" shows how this low, noncanonical figure was--unexpectedly--central to the construction of ancient Greek literature.

Winner of the 2012 Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit, American Philological Association Shortlisted for the 2012 Runciman Award, Anglo-Hellenic League "Kurke's learned and humane book aims to excavate the vibrant popular tradition assumed by Aesop's fables but now largely buried, and restore it to its place in cultural history... Aesopic Conversations is a brilliant and original book, which will transform the way we read early Greek literature."--Tim Whitmarsh, London Review of Books "There are large ideas in this book. Critical faculties will be honed by reading it."--Vivienne Gray, Bryn Mawr Classical Review "With her keen eye for symbolic expressions of ideological conflict, Kurke has thrust Aesop into the center of major political, philosophical and literary developments of the fifth and fourth centuries. Precisely because of its ambitions, many of the claims this book makes want weighing. But let it be said that if Kurke sometimes pushes the evidence, she never forces it, and she always gives space to alternative views in substantial footnotes."--Andrew Ford, International Journal of the Classical Tradition "[Kurke] consistently succeeds in keeping the main lines of her argument clearly in view. Cumulatively her discussion is both rich and persuasive and often quite witty. The Aesop who emerges is altogether a much more complex, influential, and interesting figure than the homespun rustic narrator of 'Aesop's fables.'"--Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, New England Classical Journal "[A] thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion, here and throughout the book: Kurke makes us look anew at familiar texts, and that is what literary criticism is for."--John Taylor, Anglo-Hellenic Review "Kurke's ... approach to the text(s) of the Life of Aesop [is] groundbreaking and sophisticated. While there have been a number of valuable studies of the Life of Aesop in recent decades, few have attempted to grapple in earnest with the specific challenges posed by its anonymity, textual multiplicity, and popular character."--Jeremy B. Lefkowitz, Phoenix "Kurke's is a very distinctive voice. Her scholarship is always trenchant, thoughtful, and articulate. Her argument is clear, even when intricate and extended, and it has no Aesopic aggressions or sleights of hand... There is much to admire and enjoy here."--Simon Goldhill, Classical World

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Abbreviationsp. xvii
Introduction
An Elusive Quarry: In Search of Ancient Greek Popular Culturep. 2
Explaining the Joke: A Road Map for Classicistsp. 16
Synopsis of Method and Structure of Argumentp. 46
Competitive Wisdom and Popular Culturep. 51
Aesop and the Contestation of Delphic Authorityp. 53
Ideological Tensions at Delphip. 54
The Aesopic Critiquep. 59
Neoptolemus and Aesop: Sacrifice, Hero Cult, and Competitive Scapegoatingp. 75
Sophia before/beyond Philosophyp. 95
The Tradition of Sophiap. 95
Sophists and (as) Sagesp. 102
Aristotle and the Transformation of Sophiap. 115
Aesop as Sage: Political Counsel and Discursive Practicep. 125
Aesop among the Sagesp. 125
Political Animals: Fable and the Scene of Advisingp. 142
Reading the Life: The Progress of a Sage and the Anthropology of Sophiap. 159
An Aesopic Anthropology of Wisdomp. 160
Aesop and Ahiqarp. 176
Delphic Theoria and the Death of a Sagep. 185
The Bricoleur as Culture Hero, or the Art of Extorting Self-Incriminationp. 191
The Aesopic Parody of High Wisdomp. 202
Demystifying Sophia: Hesiod, Theognis, and the Seven Sagesp. 204
Aesopic Parody in the Visual Tradition?p. 224
Aesop and the Invention of Greek Prosep. 239
Aesop at the Invention of Philosophyp. 241
Prelude to Part II: The Problematic Sociopolitics of Mimetic Prosep. 241
Mimesis and the Invention of Philosophyp. 244
The Generic Affiliations of Sokratikoi logoip. 251
The Battle over Prose: Fable in Sophistic Education and Xenophon's Memorabiliap. 265
Sophistic Fablesp. 268
Traditional Fable Narration in Xenophon's Memorabiliap. 288
Sophistic Fable in Plato: Parody, Appropriation, and Transcendencep. 301
Plato's Protagoras: Debunking Sophistic Fablep. 301
Plato's Symposium: Ringing the Changes on Fablep. 308
Aesop in Plato's Sokratikoi Logoi: Analogy, Elenchos, and Disavowalp. 325
Sophia into Philosophy: Socrates between the Sages and Aesopp. 326
The Aesopic Bricoleur and the "Old Socratic Tool-Box"p. 330
Sympotic Wisdom, Comedy, and Aesopic Competition in Hippias Majorp. 344
Historie and Logopoiïa: Two Sides of Herodotean Prosep. 361
History before Prose, Prose before Historyp. 362
Aesop Ho Logopoiosp. 370
Plutarch Reading Herodotus: Aesop, Ruptures of Decorum, and the Non-Greekp. 382
Herodotus and Aesop: Some Soundingsp. 398
Cyrus Tells a Fablep. 400
Greece and (as) Fable, or Resignifying the Hierarchy of Genrep. 404
Fable as Historyp. 412
The Aesopic Contract of the Histories: Herodotus Teaches His Readersp. 426
Bibliographyp. 433
Index Locorump. 463
General Indexp. 478
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691144580
ISBN-10: 0691144583
Series: Martin Classical Lectures
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 504
Published: 14th November 2010
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 15.4  x 3.4
Weight (kg): 0.74