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13.12.2017

Ομιλία της Dr Helen Van Noorden (University of Cambridge) με θέμα: Eschatologizing Homer: ethics and poetics in the Sibylline Oracles

Τρίτη 19 Δεκεμβρίου 2017, ώρα 12.00, στο Σπουδαστήριο Κλασικής Φιλολογίας (745) της Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής

ΠΡΟΣΚΛΗΣΗ

Την Τρίτη 19 Δεκεμβρίου 2017, ώρα 12.00,

στο Σπουδαστήριο Κλασικής Φιλολογίας (745) της Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής

θα πραγματοποιηθεί στο πλαίσιο των «Επιστημονικών Συναντήσεων»

του Τομέα Κλασικής Φιλολογίας

η ομιλία της Dr Helen Van Noorden, University of Cambridge,

με θέμα:

Eschatologizing Homer: ethics and poetics in the Sibylline Oracles


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Η διευθύντρια

του Τομέα Κλασικής Φιλολογίας

Σοφία Παπαϊωάννου

Συντονίστριες

Κατερίνα Καρβούνη kcarvounis@phil.uoa.gr 210-7277613

Σοφία Παπαϊωάννου spapaioan@phil.uoa.gr 210-7277380

 

 

ESCHATOLOGIZING HOMER: ETHICS AND POETICS IN THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES HELEN VAN NOORDEN

ABSTRACT

For scholars of the ancient receptions of Homer and Hesiod, the Sibylline Oracles offer under-explored territory. Presented in Greek hexameters and divided into 12 ‘books’ composed, expanded and re-edited over several centuries from c.2nd century BCE onwards, these oracles exploit not only the authority of the pagan Sibyl but also the cachet of Homer and Hesiod, appropriating motifs, formulae and themes from these archaic poets to frame content and ideas from Jewish and Christian scriptures. Reviewing world history and sketching rewards and punishments due at the end of days, the Sibylline voice repeatedly envisages the earth restored for the righteous, underworld judgement on sinners, and various aspects of cosmic destruction including the return of Nero as eschatological adversary. Dates, audiences and locations of composition of the Sibylline Oracles remain hard to pin down, but, as Jane Lightfoot’s 2007 commentary has shown, there is still a great deal to be said about their literary ‘texture’. The Sibylline Oracles constitute one of the most intense ancient responses to Hesiod, making extensive use both of the divine succession myth and the historical and prophetic cast of the myth of the races, let alone Hesiod’s divinely inspired persona. Their use of Homer, by contrast, has been described as merely ‘compositional’, based on the perception that this Sibylline literature employs Homeric formulae to fill out lines without reference to contexts in Homer. Against this view, I argue that in considering the Sibylline mode of reading Homer, we should rather take our cue from the explicit rivalry featuring in the oldest section of the text (Sibylline Oracles 3.419-25 claims that Homer copied the tale of Troy from the Sibyl) on which is founded the accretion of the wider Sibylline collection. Taking examples from throughout the corpus, I argue that by paying attention to the narrative contexts of distinctively Homeric phrases, we discover a Sibyl exploiting the knowledge of Hellenic-educated readers alongside the assumption of the superiority of Jewish scriptures. I distinguish several strategies by which the Sibylline speaker transforms Homeric material into apocalyptic and eschatological visions. She resituates events in a longer time-span, amplifies the spatial scope of scenes of destruction, makes cosmic visions out of personal actions, and polemically counters Homeric ideas with Jewish ethical principles. For some of these strategies, I suggest, we can find ancient analogies in Hesiodic poetry, and famous ‘Hesiodic’ scenes in Homeric poetry, which ‘scale up’ to cosmic proportions. My analysis thus sheds new light on the broader Sibylline debt to Hesiod and the Hesiodic, as well as engaging broad questions about modes of reading Homer and types of allusion in Jewish Greek literature, the audience of the Sibylline Oracles and the relationship between the tracks of Homeric and Hesiodic reception in cross-cultural contexts.