By Nancy Worman
This examine of the language of insult charts abuse in classical Athenian literature that centres at the mouth and its appetites, specifically speaking, consuming, ingesting, and sexual actions. Attic comedy, Platonic discussion, and fourth-century oratory frequently install insulting depictions of the mouth and its excesses to be able to deride expert audio system as sophists, demagogues, and girls. even if the styles of images explored are very favorite in historical invective and later western literary traditions, this can be the 1st publication to debate this phenomenon in classical literature. It responds to a transforming into curiosity in either abusive speech genres and the illustration of the physique, illuminating an iambic discourse that isolates the intemperate mouth as a visual logo of behaviours ridiculed within the democratic arenas of classical Athens.
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Extra info for Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens
343–46 for the suggestion that Odysseus is particularly concerned with the feast, and Od. 193–95 for a more intimate version of this rhetorical pleasantry. Il. 227–29; cf. 90, where the menoeik¯es dais in Agamemnon’s tent is specifically mentioned. Again, see Nagy 1979: 127–41. I am arguing that the imagery of the dais eis¯e focuses the differences between the two heroes; but Nagy also notes that the famous neikos of Achilles and Odysseus (Od. 72–82) happened at a dais of the gods, and relates the dais especially to Achilles’ heritage and fate.
Other figures in archaic depiction show a tendency to be driven by their bellies, but often out of a need to fill them rather than from the unfettered gluttony that brings on violence. Poets and storytellers fall into this category: Hesiod’s all-belly shepherds (gastrev o²on, Th. 17 There as elsewhere, the appetite is suspected of driving the indigent man to flatter and deceive. In Hesiod, the Muses insult the narrator before declaring that they may lie and conferring on him the poet’s staff and inspired voice.
Hungry talk in homer In the later books of the Homeric epics imagery of consumption and aggressive verbalization punctuate the increasing violence of the narratives. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey establish vibrant and disturbing interconnections between the mouth (and jaws, belly) as an ingester of food and the mouth (and teeth, tongue) as an expeller of verbiage. Food and words are traded across the teeth’s barrier, and different types of ingestion are matched with different styles of speaking.
Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens by Nancy Worman