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40 - Poetic Elements in the Greek Novelists’ Prose (2017)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 October 2023

Ewen Bowie
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

This chapter analyses the novels’ poetic language, presenting some preliminary sondages which might indicate how much poetic vocabulary there is in three of our five complete Greek texts, and how much has classical and Hellenistic ancestry. It also looks selectively at the lexicon of some near-contemporary poets. Eight tables illustrate these heterogeneous sondages. After reviewing terms in Longus evoking epic, early melic poetry, and epigram, and some technical terms, it concludes that many words in Valley’s 1926 lists are not ‘simply’ poetic but are chosen to trigger some intertextuality, while others have little claim to be ‘poetic’ at all. Those remaining that cannot so be explained are few. Longus’ prose may be poetic in terms of his Theocritean subject, rhythmical sentences, and preference for parataxis over subordination: but his language is chiefly the language of prose. A brief overview of a small selection of potentially ‘poetic’ words in Achilles Tatius and Heliodorus suggests that they too have only a low proportion of ‘poetic’ words, a view corroborated by the paucity of ‘poetic’ words in Marcellus poems from the Via Appia, in the poet(s) of the Sacerdos monument at Nicaea, and in a sample from Ps.-Oppian’s Cynegetica that are also in the novelists. It concludes that in this period poets and writers of novelistic prose still draw vocabulary from two different linguistic pools.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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