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Personification and the Feminine in Roman Philosophy

  • Date Published: November 2016
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316685167

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  • While the central ideal of Roman philosophy exemplified by Lucretius, Cicero and Seneca appears to be the masculine values of self-sufficiency and domination, this book argues, through close attention to metaphor and figures, that the Romans also recognized, as constitutive parts of human experience, what for them were feminine concepts such as embodiment, vulnerability and dependency. Expressed especially in the personification of grammatically feminine nouns such as Nature and Philosophy 'herself', the Roman's recognition of this private 'feminine' part of himself presents a contrast with his acknowledged, public self and challenges the common philosophical narrative of the emergence of subjectivity and individuality with modernity. To meet this challenge, Alex Dressler offers both theoretical exposition and case studies, developing robust typologies of personification and personhood that will be useable for a variety of subjects beyond classics, including rhetoric, comparative literature, gender studies, political theory and the history of ideas.

    • Uses ancient theory and practices of personification as a way of exploring concepts of Roman philosophy
    • Provides close readings of major authors from the period of Classical Latin literature, including Lucretius, Cicero and Seneca
    • Argues that literary analysis of Roman philosophy reveals positive and progressive models of gender relations and identity
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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2016
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316685167
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. Love, literature, and philosophy
    2. The subjects of personification and personhood
    3. Mothers, sons, and metaphysics: others' agency and self-identity in the Roman stoic notion of a person
    4. Girl behind the woman: Cicero and Tullia, Lucretius and the life of the body-mind
    5. Embodied persons and bodies personified: the phenomenology of perspectives in Seneca, Ep. 121
    6. Nature's property in On Duties 1: the feminine communism of Cicero's radical aesthetics
    Conclusion: repairing the text
    Editions and commentaries consulted
    Bibliography.

  • Author

    Alex Dressler, University of Wisconsin, Madison
    Alex Dressler is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has published articles in journals such as Helios, Ramus and Classical Antiquity, ranging in subject matter from feminism and the ancient novel to exemplarity and ancient rhetoric, and from deconstruction and the sociology of literature to aesthetic theory and psychoanalysis.

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