Ancient Biography: Identity through Lives
Papers of the Langford Latin Seminar, Volume 17, 2018
Edited by Francis Cairns and Trevor Luke
ISBN 9780995461215. Hard cover. xvi+310 pp.
Arca (Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs) 55
Publication May 15, 2018
The 2015 Langford International Colloquium at Florida State University, Narrating Lives: Biography and Identity in Antiquity, brought together a diverse group of American and European scholars to explore the use of lives in the literary construction of both group and individual identities. The present volume contains revised versions of most of the papers given at that event, along with contributions invited from other scholars in the fields of biographical writing and identity. A combined bibliography and indexes are included.
The volume is divided into four parts, corresponding to different aspects of biographical identity.
Biography and Cultural Identity: the lives of Greek poets, specifically Pindar,are explored by Flore Kimmel-Clauzet in terms of the competitive tensions between different Greek cities; Rex Stem looks at how a Roman writer of Lives, Cornelius Nepos, looked in a non-culturally biassed way at non-Romans such as the Theban Pelopidas and the Carthaginian Hannibal; and David Rohrbacher assesses the function of ethnographic descriptions and religious identities in the Historia Augusta.
Biography and Power: Marcaline Boyd’s analyses the rise to power of the Samian tyrant Polycrates as recounted by Herodotus and Polyaenus; Alexander Skufca examines Nepos’s contrasting treatments of the Syracusan tyrants Dion and Timoleon; Cynthia Damon looks at how Suetonius characterizes the Caesars through narrations of their deaths.
Biography, Identity and Religion: Federicomaria Muccioli gives a useful brief history of divinisation in biographical writing and discusses Plutarch’s depiction of ruler cult in these terms; Daniel Harris-McCoy deals with accounts of dreams in biographical works and their influence on Artemidorus; Jennifer Rea compares the ways in which women are biographized, the early Christian martyr St. Perpetua, and the twentieth-century Christa McAuliffe, who lost her life in the Challenger disaster; Matthew Ferguson considers eschatological elements in the Alexander Romance, a late-antique highly fictionalized version of the life of Alexander the Great.
Greek Lives under Roman rule: Alexei Zadorojnyi identifies the way in which very highly condensed ‘Lives’, for which he uses the term ‘biographical synecdoche’, serve interesting functions within biographical works; Andrew Scott writes about the tensions which arise in Cassius Dio, who is a participant in the history he relates; Svetla Slaveva-Griffin is also interested in the relation between biography and real life, and looks in great detail at how this is worked through in the tradition of NeoPlatonic biography
Biography and Cultural Identity
Flore Kimmel-Clauzet (Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3): Pindar, ‘Lover of Athens’: Dithyramb fr.76 and the Biographical Tradition
Rex Stem (University of California, Davis): Exemplarity and Identity in Cornelius Nepos’ On Foreign Generals
David Rohrbacher (New College of Florida): Reading Ethnic Identity in the Historia Augusta3
Biography and Power
Marcaline Boyd (University of Delaware): Polyaenus and Polycrates’ Rise to Power
Alexander Skufca (Florida State University): Tyrant and Anti-tyrant: Archetypes and Exemplarity in Cornelius Nepos’ Sicilian Lives
Cynthia Damon (University of Pennsylvania): Death by Narrative in Suetonius’ Lives
Biography, Identity, and Religion
Federicomaria Muccioli (Università di Bologna): Ruler Cult and Ancient Biography
Daniel Harris-McCoy (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa): Life is But a Dream: Biography and Dream-Divination
Jennifer A. Rea (University of Florida): The Passio of St. Perpetua and the Creation of a Hero-Martyr
Matthew W. Ferguson (University of California, Irvine): Comparative Eschatology in Alexander’s Letter to Olympias and the Book of Revelation
Greek Lives under Roman Rule
Alexei Zadorojnyi (University of Liverpool): Plutarch’s Heroes and the ‘Biographical Synecdoche’
Andrew Scott (Villanova University): Cassius Dio’s Contemporary History as Memoir and its Implications for Authorial Identity
Svetla Slaveva-Griffin (Florida State University): Platonists and their Lives
Indexes: Index Locorum; Modern Scholars; General Index