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Cosmology and the Polis
The Social Construction of Space and Time in the Tragedies of Aeschylus


  • Date Published: January 2012
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107009271

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About the Authors
  • This book further develops Professor Seaford's innovative work on the study of ritual and money in the developing Greek polis. It employs the concept of the chronotope, which refers to the phenomenon whereby the spatial and temporal frameworks explicit or implicit in a text have the same structure, and uncovers various such chronotopes in Homer, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Presocratic philosophy and in particular the tragedies of Aeschylus. Mikhail Bakhtin's pioneering use of the chronotope was in literary analysis. This study by contrast derives the variety of chronotopes manifest in Greek texts from the variety of socially integrative practices in the developing polis - notably reciprocity, collective ritual and monetised exchange. In particular, the Oresteia of Aeschylus embodies the reassuring absorption of the new and threatening monetised chronotope into the traditional chronotope that arises from collective ritual with its aetiological myth. This argument includes the first ever demonstration of the profound affinities between Aeschylus and the (Presocratic) philosophy of his time.

    • Adopts a socio-economic perspective to propose a new way of understanding the 'Greek miracle'
    • Transcends the usual boundaries between the study of religion, cosmology, history, economics and drama
    • Close readings of the ancient texts are put into a broader perspective
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is an important work that redefines our conception of central categories of early Greek thought: space, time, ritual, and money. It will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in the areas of classical Greek literature, Greek history, philosophy, and theatre.' Vayos Liapis, The Classical Journal

    'The five parts of this ambitious book examine the chronotopes in Homer and archaic Athenian society, money and ritual in the Dionysiac festival, the chronotopes in Aeschylus's plays … the unity of opposites in Aeschylus's theology and Heraclitus's cosmology, and the sociocultural implications of the Pythagorean way of life and Pythagorean opposites in Aeschylus's Oresteia. This brilliant study opens up new vistas on old problems.' J. Bussanich, Choice Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107009271
    • length: 380 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.75kg
    • contains: 1 map
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Social Construction of Space, Time and Cosmology:
    1. Homer: the reciprocal chronotope
    2. Demeter Hymn: the aetiological chronotope
    3. From reciprocity to money
    Part II. Dionysiac Festivals:
    4. Royal household and public festival
    5. Aetiological chronotope and dramatic mimesis
    6. Monetisation and tragedy
    Part III. Limit and the Unlimited in Confrontational Space:
    7. Telos and the unlimitedness of money
    8. Suppliants
    9. Septem
    10. Confrontational space in Oresteia
    11. The unlimited in Oresteia
    12. Persians
    Part IV. The Unity of Opposites:
    13. Form-parallelism and the unity of opposites
    14. Aeschylus and Herakleitos
    15. From the unity of opposites to their differentiation
    Part V. Cosmology of the Integrated Polis:
    16. Metaphysics and the polis in Pythagoreanism
    17. Pythagoreanism in Aeschylus
    18. Household, cosmos and polis
    Appendix: was there a skēnē for all the extant plays of Aeschylus?

  • Author

    Richard Seaford, University of Exeter
    Richard Seaford is Professor of Ancient Greek at the University of Exeter. His publications range from Homer to the New Testament and include commentaries on Euripides' Cyclops (1984) and Euripides' Bacchae (1996), Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy and the Developing City-State (1994) and Money and the Early Greek Mind: Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy (2004). In 2009 he was President of the Classical Association.

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