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Who are these Romanian Germans? This chapter maps out the materials from which Romanian Germans constructed their identity from the late nineteenth century into the interwar period. It starts with an overview of the history of Germans in the region before engaging in detail with three key identity myths that emerged from and around that history. The final section embeds those identity narratives in a transnational web of reception and affirmation spanning interwar Europe. In making sense of their experiences in the twentieth century, this chapter argues, Germans in Romania used long-standing narratives that had been important to the two communities of Saxons and Swabians, picking and choosing older ‘foundation myths’ from these groups according to the needs of the circumstances in which they found themselves. These myths were highly malleable and usable by a variety of actors in the community, not just elites. Romanian Germans thus returned to three key themes time and again: Saxon privilege and superiority, a sense of being under siege, and the Swabian path of ordeal.
The chapter explores two of Adès’s early works – Living Toys for fourteen players (1993) and America: A Prophecy, for soprano solo and orchestra with optional chorus (1999) – from the perspective of gesture as an 'energetic shaping' of sound (after Robert Hatten). Analyses synthesise small-scale events to wider emergent dramatic and expressive networks. The 'volatile' gestural sequence in Living Toys is a function of the score’s overtly programmatic scheme of seven dream-like scenarios, with a returning 'Hero’s' theme centre-stage in a score rich in agent-like instrumental solos. In America, gesture communicates a historical-mythic sequence, evoking the impending catastrophe of the sixteenth-century military conquest of Mayan civilisation by Spanish conquistadors. History runs its awful course in a sequence recounted verbally by the solo soprano as priestess. A gestural perspective elucidates Adès’s large-scale drama of complex images. Fracturings of musical tempo create an image of Mayan calendrical movement: triadic brass music evokes the moment of encounter, a 'battle' scene.
Studs Terkel was a pivotal figure in the popularization of oral history as a literary genre and he is a key point of reference in today’s cultural radio and podcasting worlds. He was also one of the central synthesizers and champions of Chicago literature, drawing deep inspiration from earlier writers and advocating for subsequent generations. This chapter explores how Terkel crafted a variety of inventive “literary lives”: 1) Urban Literary Mythmaker, 2) Eclectic Disc Jockey, 3) Coach for Chicago’s Literary Scene, 4) Co-founder of a Peoples’ Oral History, 5) Soapbox Poet, 6) Global Literary Ambassador, 7) Sidewalk Professor, 8) Memory Palace Archivist, and 9) Humanist Trickster. Key biographic events in Terkel’s life and his links with other key Chicago writers are explored.
This paper addresses the following questions about Plato’s concept of ‘history’: (a) is there a ‘philosophy of history’ in Plato’s thought?; (b) if this concept exists, do the dialogues lay out a single, cohesive understanding of ‘history’ or does it vary from text to text?; (c) how does Plato understand the word ‘history’? This inquiry also addresses the role of ‘progress’ in some of the main Platonic dialogues. An in-depth analysis of these texts can also help us find a solution to the problem of the end of ‘history’, when a civilization either physically collapses (due to a catastrophic event) or morally decays (because of the corruption of its citizens and politicians). I argue that Plato’s ‘philosophy of history’ is not necessarily Sisyphean, but that it attempts to work out how to avoid the entropic decay of civilization and to preserve cultural – almost ‘genetic’ – ‘memory’ in order to counter the danger of cyclical regression.
Although there appears to be a lot in common between Ovid’s Fasti and Metamorphoses in terms of how they connect the present to the past through aetiology, the chapter argues that in fact there are profound differences in the role of aetiology in each poem. The Fasti is full of examples of past actions that have become fixed in a form that endures in current ritual, but there are vanishingly few examples of ritual aetiology in the Metamorphoses. The Fasti is really about religion while the Metamorphoses is really about mythology. Even though scholars of religion in both the ancient and modern worlds have seen a tight connection between myth and ritual, the chapter argues that we should follow Ovid in disavowing the myth/ritual nexus.
This chapter explores ideological production and commemoration in the late Stalinist era through the lens of the fledgling myth of victory in World War II. Specifically, the chapter pursues the afterlife of Stalin’s oft-cited toast to the Russian people in both Russian and non-Russian contexts to tease out its rather inconsistent and ambiguous connection to the official war narrative. Far from a consistent Russocentric ideological rubric, this chapter shows that the Stalinist leadership refused to commit to an exclusively Russocentric understanding of the war. Rather, it allowed an “internationalist” paradigm to coexist with its Russocentric counterpart in discursive tension throughout the era. As Stalin’s toast was eliciting mixed reactions, party ideologues shaped a divergent set of postwar narratives geared toward mobilizing local populations along contrasting ideological planes. So long as the core ingredients of victory – Stalin’s leadership, party guidance, the Soviet system, the unwavering heroism of the Red Army and citizenry – remained in place, the myth’s articulators were free to promote a range of competing narratives, from accounts emphasizing a homogenous collection of Soviet people bound latterly in “friendship” to those stressing Russian “elder brotherhood" and ethnic diversity.
The gapped and fractured nature of Irish poetic tradition was from the outset a central theme in the work of Eavan Boland (1944–2020). Its gaps are the products of historical traumas which have often expressed themselves in gendered fashion: while Irish tradition has found abundant use for feminised embodiments of the nation, it has been less comfortable with allowing female experience agency to speak in its own right. Boland’s career engaged vigorously with this historical silencing. I address this dilemma through the prism not just of Irish nationalist historiography but the European Romantic tradition, from Hegel to Wordsworth and Keats. Among the dramas Boland confronts is personal testimony versus positions of exemplarity, in which the poem speaks for and from absences in the historical record. This often places Boland in conflict with the mythic imperatives of Irish poetry, a dissonance registered by the poet in the jagged surfaces of her texts. Situating Boland in the historical moment of recent debates within Irish studies adds an extra dimension to the experience of reading these poems, while also helping us appreciate the way in which their successes have been effectively internalised in subsequent Irish women’s poetry and criticism.
How did a socialist society, ostensibly committed to Marxist ideals of internationalism and global class struggle, reconcile itself to notions of patriotism, homeland, Russian ethnocentrism, and the glorification of war? In this provocative new history, Jonathan Brunstedt pursues this question through the lens of the myth and remembrance of victory in World War II – arguably the central defining event of the Soviet epoch. The book shows that while the experience and legacy of the conflict did much to reinforce a sense of Russian exceptionalism and Russian-led ethnic hierarchy, the story of the war enabled an alternative, supra-ethnic source of belonging, which subsumed Russian and non-Russian loyalties alike to the Soviet whole. The tension and competition between Russocentric and 'internationalist' conceptions of victory, which burst into the open during the late 1980s, reflected a wider struggle over the nature of patriotic identity in a multiethnic society that continues to reverberate in the post-Soviet space. The book sheds new light on long-standing questions linked to the politics of remembrance and provides a crucial historical context for the patriotic revival of the war's memory in Russia today.
Chapter 5 uses those terms to describe, through Assmann, a case study of polytheistic political theology in Egypt. This will help illustrate how polytheism (or better, “cosmotheism”) may be understood as rooted in the “victim mechanism,” in Girard’s terms. This puts to rest naïve notions of polytheism’s putative “tolerance,” seeing it more subtly as a socio-political force that “contains” violence, and an invitation to examine biblical monotheism.
Chapter 7 conceptualizes how, if monotheism “separates” God from the political sphere this does not result in what Mouffe denounced as depoliticization. I examine Christ as manifesting the monotheistic “separation” from the political sphere while agonistically engaging the mechanisms of scapegoating. In Christ the victimized-divinity we do not have a regression into polytheism; nor yet do we find an “escape” from the sacrifice and exclusion that polytheism contained. Rejecting both as insufficient, I consider Girard’s paradox that Christianity is an “exit from religion in the form of a demythified religion.” Drawing cues from Mouffe’s critiques of liberalism, I see in monotheism not an escape from intolerance into an exclusion-free utopia, but something more like exclusion-in-reverse in which intolerance is a photographic negative. I thus illustrate Christ as embodying a monotheism that – precisely through, not despite, his intolerance – points us toward the marginalized other and pluralistic concerns today.
This study examines the evidence for the celestial afterlife in Greek philosophy before Plato. Starting from Plato’s Phaedo myth, where we find evidence for three levels of life for souls (our level, the ‘aithêr-dwellers’ above us, and, above that, a more mysterious third level), it argues that such a stratified cosmos was not original to Plato, but can be found in certain of his predecessors. The two best-documented instances of it occur in Heraclitus and the new, Strasbourg papyrus of Empedocles. Both thinkers, in attempting to frame the place of soul in the order of nature, also adopt a stratified, hierarchical cosmic scheme, with rewards and demotions along the vertical axis. But they also thereby take up positions on the nature of soul: What stuff is it made of? Is it (essentially) immortal or not? And if not, can its immortality be secured? Against Plato’s later doctrine of an essentially immortal soul, both conceive of soul as somehow physical and, for different reasons, appear to deny its full or essential immortality.
This chapter discusses the use of popular culture and the personality cult of Erdoğan in creating the desired citizens of Erdoğanism, the Homo Erdoğanistus. Media, entertainment and pop culture are used to raise the Erdoğanist generation. One of the influential tools of doing this is to manufacture and propagate the personality cult of Erdoğan via different narratives, acts, speeches, performances, emotional instances, movies and TV dramas. All these have been informed and guided by the Erdoğanist ideology. Also, via historical movies and dramas, socio-political reality is shaped to help the Erdoğanist political cause. This chapter discuss, first, Erdoğan’s personality cult and its propagation. Then it elaborates on Erdoğanist myth-making and the rewriting of history. This is followed by an analysis of how reality has been shaped by using movies and historical TV dramas. The chapter then focuses on Erdoğan’s open and direct support for these movies and dramas.
This chapter revisits the case of the Hurro-Hittite poem formerly referred to (among other titles) as the Song of Kumarbi, now known as the Song of Emergence, which narrates the early history of divine kingship and the birth of the Storm God. This Hittite adaptation of an earlier, now lost but probably Hurrian composition has been recognised as the clearest evidence for the Greek reception of Near Eastern mythology, as proven by numerous aspects of both general structure and narrative detail, that are shared with Hesiod’s Theogony, especially the Succession Myth, which traces the sequence from the earliest divine kings to Zeus’s birth and rise to power. Recent interest in the rich corpus of Hittite ritual texts has yielded important information on the likely ritual contexts of the wider mythological cycle of the Song of Emergence, and possibly indeed of the Song itself: the Song's Hittite cuneiform tablet is discussed, as well as its family and scholarly background, focusing on performance of the Song in festivals at Mount Hazzi (Jebel al-Aqra), the Greek Kasios, on the Mediterranean coast. Such performance offers the most attractive historical context for the transfer of the Storm God narrative to Greece, given the likely presence of Greek traders in the vicinity.
This chapter revisits the arguments for and against a Near Eastern inspiration of Hesiod’s well-known Myth of the Ages (or Races), and takes this opportunity to reflect on the criteria that are available to us in assessing the plausibility of literary-historical influence. The degree of similarity between the literary comparanda will naturally remain the first and most obvious criterion, but the story or theme should not also be part of an Indo-European or other tradition, or attributable to common human experience, and further, the story or theme should be quite unique and therefore unlikely to have been fashioned independently in Greece and the Near East. Both considerations naturally oblige the scholar to cast the net more widely, beyond the two standard corpora of Greek and ancient Near Eastern literature, in order to gain an impression of how significant a given parallel is likely to be, in this case ranging from Mesoamerica to the Mahābhārata. While the strength of the Near Eastern parallels leads the author to conclude that the Myth of the Ages is indeed likely to have been inspired by Near Eastern sources, Lardinois is also careful to explain how it came to be anchored in existing and more familiar Greek tales of gods and heroes.
“Mussolini the Critic” explores the dictator’s engagement with his preferred contemporary dramatists: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Luigi Pirandello, and George Bernard Shaw. Moving from a recounting of il Duce’s personal acquaintance with the writers into a discussion of how he interpreted their works (drawing on his writings and interviews and various third-party testimonies), the chapter identifies the theatrical traditions that inspired the dictator and shaped his thinking, and works through the philosophical elements that united the authors and drew Mussolini to them: Nietzschean exaltations of the will to power; the command of word and ritual in moving the modern masses; the celebration of intuitive action; and, most surprisingly, a fascination for heroic, rebellious women. The chapter concludes with reflections on fascism’s reputed “aesthetic pluralism,” suggesting that the ideological affinities in such apparently different authors counters the reigning postulate that this perceived pluralism is the result of an ideological vacuity in fascist thought.
Many of the customs of kingship used by Muslim rulers were inspired by practices found outside of Islamic traditions. These came most directly from the Sasanian Empire and in the development of intellectual traditions that were inspired by Persian ideas of kingship. The rule of Jamshīd, Farīdūn, Khusraw I, and the “Persian” Alexander served as a model for many Muslim rulers who sustained dynastic successes in very different political and social contexts. What made the Persian ideal of kingship thrive, even after the defeat of the Sasanian Empire, and how was Persian imagery of rule mobilized by Muslim rulers to create imperial polities in South Asia? These are two of the central questions addressed in this chapter.
This chapter offers insights into a long-term research project that seeks to distinguish between myths and their various manifestations in literary sources, and thus approaches Mesopotamian mythology as a body of sacred, oral stories that lie in the background both of texts and of other forms of cultural expression, in this instance the work of the Babylonian priest and historian Berossus, in particular Book I of his Babyloniaca, in which he summarised Babylonian cosmogonic beliefs for a Greek readership. While the links between this part of the Babyloniaca and the Akkadian poem Enūma eliš are well-known, Berossus combined knowledge of that text with a Mesopotamian myth of origins on the primeval pair ‘Father Sky and Mother Earth’ that was never fixed in writing. Taken together with sporadic evidence from Sumero-Akkadian sources collected by the author, the Babyloniaca emerge as an important source on this influential but elusive myth, which was overshadowed without being fully supplanted by the Marduk-centred theology of Enūma eliš.
This chapter offers a detailed analysis of a(nother) famous Hesiodic narrative, the creation of Woman, that considers Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Biblical comparanda but also looks further, to Nordic mythology, ethnography and the study of folklore. Coupled with an understanding of the Pandora-scene’s connections to episodes of adornment in other early Greek hexameter poetry, the analysis avoids simplistic notions of direct derivation from this or that Near Eastern source, and concludes that the tale of Pandora represents, instead, a Greek poet’s declension of a common Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern mythological motif and compositional pattern.
Sappho’s deployment of mythical material allows us to compare her with other early poets and poetic traditions. Chapter 14 of The Cambridge Companion to Sappho shows how, as one of the earliest preserved lyric voices, Sappho sets a benchmark for the rest of Greek – and ancient – literary history in her application of distant stories to the here and now.