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Playing the man: Performing masculinities in the Greek novel. / Meriel Jones
Swansea University Author: Meriel Jones
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This study offers a literary analysis of the discourses of masculinity represented in the five extant complete ancient Greek novels, Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe, Xenophon of Ephesus' Ephesiaca, Achilles Tatius' Leucippe and Cleitophon, Longus' Daphnis and Chloe, and Heliodo...
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This study offers a literary analysis of the discourses of masculinity represented in the five extant complete ancient Greek novels, Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe, Xenophon of Ephesus' Ephesiaca, Achilles Tatius' Leucippe and Cleitophon, Longus' Daphnis and Chloe, and Heliodorus' Aethiopica. Its methodology draws on the work of sociological theorists such as Erving Goffman and Judith Butler. Goffman argued that identity is constituted by the performance of roles, through which we project idealised versions of ourselves. Butler applied the theory of performance to gender, arguing that gender is constituted by repeated performance, but that a full and wholly successful performance can never quite be achieved, resulting in a disparity between cultural ideals and lived realities. The study begins from the premise that such modem theories are appropriate for use in the analysis of imperial texts because those texts themselves demonstrate a contemporary fascination with notions of performance, and especially the performance of masculinity. Chapter 1 examines the concept of paideia, intellectual and behavioural 'culture', which was probably the most important signifier of Greek masculinity in the intensely competitive world of the elite in the Second Sophistic. Here, the disparity between the ideals and the realities of masculinity is particularly striking. Chapter 2 explores andreia, a complex notion often inadequately translated as 'courage' or 'manliness'. We see that andreia operates symbiotically with paideia, and that although it is an attribute that may be evident in a man's appearance, it must nonetheless be displayed in action. Chapter 3 investigates how masculinity may be constituted or threatened by a man's sexual behaviour. It questions whether sexual identity in the novels is fixed or fluid, and explores the texts' negotiation of the Graeco-Roman notion of effeminacy. The thesis argues that despite their exclusion from their texts of large-scale contemporary issues such as Roman domination and the rise of Christianity, and although they are influenced by classical gender ideals, the authors of the Greek novels in fact engage in dynamic and sometimes surprising ways with markedly contemporary notions of performative masculinity.
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences