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Altered States: Cultural Pluralism and Psychosis in Ancient Literary Receptions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2021

Marco Fantuzzi
Affiliation:
Roehampton University, London
Helen Morales
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Barbara
Tim Whitmarsh
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Why speak of ‘reception’ in classical antiquity, rather than ‘allusion’ or ‘intertextuality’? This chapter begins by assessing the reasons for the emergence of the term reception in the scholarship of the last thirty years, identifying (a) a shift away from unilateral models of ‘influence’; (b) a postmodern promotion of the status of the ‘copy’; (c) a pedagogical need for multiplication of access points into the ancient world. But the idea of ‘reception’ has been applied primarily to post-antique cultures: why? Speaking of reception helps us break down the idea that antiquity itself was sealed off from later cultures, and that it was a homogeneous monoculture through which a single, cohesive tradition ran. It puts the emphasis on discontinuity, and the specificity and idiosyncrasy of each act of receiving; such acts can therefore be understood as ‘theorisations’ of the idea of tradition. This approach to literary history creates an equivalence between all receptions, however apparently ‘central’ or ‘marginal’. It also spotlights the political embeddedness and materiality of each act of reception. The chapter closes by considering how the volume’s contributions further this agenda.

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Chapter
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Reception in the Greco-Roman World
Literary Studies in Theory and Practice
, pp. 1 - 20
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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