Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

The 107th meeting of CAMWS (The Classical Association of the Middle West and South) will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan in early April 2011. Four of our graduate students will be delivering papers at that conference.

Andrew Connor
"Loave's Labors Lost: Loving the Dead in Herodotus' Histories" 

Kyle Helms
"Fable and Rhetoric in Petronius: Rethinking the Widow of Ephesus"

Scholars routinely identify Petronius’ story of the Widow of Ephesus (Sat. 111-12) as an example of the ancient Milesian Tale (e.g. Walsh, 1970, Bakhtin 1981, Harrison 1998, Courtney 2001). Several difficulties hound this thesis. Only one word from Aristides’ Μιλησιακά has survived, combined with ten small fragments of Sisenna’s Latin translation, and the brief testimony of Plutarch, Ovid, and Ps.-Lucian. Thus, there are no extant, secure examples of the Milesian Tale to which we could compare the Widow of Ephesus. Further, the Milesian Tale is poorly defined as a genre, and even its status as such has begun to be called into question (Dowden 2001). There is no assured link between Petronius and the Milesian Tale at all. But if the Widow of Ephesus is not a Milesian Tale, what is it?

In this paper I argue that the Widow of Ephesus can profitably be read as a fable (fabula, μῦθος) that has been elaborated under the influence of the rhetorical curriculum. Recent scholarship has shown connections between the ancient novel and rhetoric (Laird 2008, Fernández-Garrido 2009). Petronius’ interests in rhetoric are well-attested, and can be seen from the setting of the earliest extant episode in the Satyrica at a rhetoric school (Sat. 1-5; cf. Kennedy 1978). Moreover, fables had been an important part of rhetoric since Aristotle (Rh. 2.20) noted their usefulness as persuasive exempla. In the rhetorical curriculum, the exercise in fable was prescribed early in a student’s career, and included practice in stating the fable, expanding it, and confirming it. Quintilian (Inst. 1.9.2) incorporated practice with fables into his curriculum, including abridgement and embellishment. Latin theorists also noted the usefulness of fables when dealing with certain audiences. Fables, they explained, roused laughter and were especially successful among the rustic and uneducated (Rhet. Her. 1.6.10, Cic. Inv. 1.17, Quint. Inst. 5.11.19).The Widow of Ephesus was part of the ancient fable tradition. Phaedrus had told the same story (vidua et miles, App. 15) just decades before Petronius, and a primeval form of the fable survives in the Vita Aesopi G (Aes. 388; cf. Perry 1962). Believing that these works offer the best evidence for the Widow of Ephesus’ ancient generic identity, I argue that Petronius’ version shows clear symptoms of a fable that has been altered under the influence of the rhetorical curriculum. Eumolpus uses the story of the Widow of Ephesus as an exemplum to support his claims about the fickleness of women (Sat. 110.7). Comparing the story in Petronius to that of Phaedrus, Petronius seems to have expanded the basic fable much the same way as Ps.- Hermogenes (Prog. 2) did in his fable of the Apes and the City, by adding direct discourse and details (such as appropriate setting and character actions) that make the fable more credible (cf. Nicol. Prog. 7). The reactions of Eumolpus’ audience are described in terms of laughter (risu 113.1; non....risit 113.2), and his story finds the most favor among the sailors, the most rustic part of the audience. This close correspondence between Petronius’ fable and the rhetorical curriculum both illuminates the generic identity of a central episode in the extant Satyrica and adds to our growing understanding of the intimate connection between rhetoric and the ancient novel.

Anne Feltovich
"Beware Women Gathering: Gender and Public Voice in Aristophanes"

The women of Lysistrata achieve as a unified body what individual women cannot: a public voice.  In Aristophanes’ representation the women act with a group mentality, resulting in the ability to upset the traditional balance of power between the genders.  Several studies of women’s voices in drama have looked at the ability of the women to affect public discourse through the limited means available to them (Blok 2001, Foley 2001). Taaffe (1993, 20) argues that the women of Lysistrata achieve political power by becoming super-feminine, using their sexuality to persuade men to accept their proposals. McClure (1999, 205) examines how women’s speech in Thesmophoriazusae and Ecclesiazusae disrupts social order, arguing that fifth century Athenian drama gave women a voice in order to show its destructive nature. I continue this approach by evaluating how women’s unification in Lysistrata allows them to affect public discourse in ways that they were not able to achieve when fragmented.

In Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, and Ecclesiazusae, women achieve power over the public discourse by sacrificing individual needs for the group’s needs. Using Lysistrata as a case study, I examine how, by unification, women overcome two traditional means used by men to suppress their public voice: isolation and physical threats. When the men of Lysistrata have involved Athens and Sparta in an endless war, the threat posed to women’s daily lives inspires women to combine forces to fix the problem, in spite of a society that traditionally limits the opportunities for women to assemble. Using supporting evidence from Thesmophoriazusae and Ecclesiazusae, I demonstrate how in Lysistrata Aristophanes works with existing social institutions to offer his female characters believable ways to escape the physical restrictions placed upon women’s mobility: each woman exploits a social leniency that allows women to go outdoors for approved private gatherings, when in fact each is planning to join up with a much larger group. Each faces significant physical and social risks in allying with the other women, but their unification allows them to become physically equal to men and so enter public discourse. A conversation between Lysistrata and the Magistrate (Lys. 506-38) shows that men are used to having superior strength, a tool that they conventionally use to suppress women’s voices, but the depletion of the number of men and the subsequent rallying of the women enables the women to take this prerogative away from men. Finally, through actions rather than words the women are able to affect military policy, achieving together the public voice that they had been denied individually. The play allows Aristophanes to investigate an anxiety – whether his own or not – about what women in large groups may be capable of accomplishing. The fear of female empowerment is explored through the relatively safe discourse of fantasy: although the women succeed at their endeavors, the audience understands that the means by which they accomplish this goal – unification – lies in the realm of fantasy, not reality. 

Kristina Newmann
"Practical Virtue for State and Empire in Cicero’s De Officiis"

In many modern appraisals of Cicero’s imperial theory, De Officiis has been dismissed as the book of “concessions” and “contradictions.”   Indeed, Cicero seems both to celebrate and condemn the Roman state as a whole for its behavior towards the subject nations and allies of its empire. He constantly defines justice as the right of individuals to maintain their private property and live free of injury (Off. 1.20-21, 3.21-28), but in many ways this is the very antithesis of the definition of empire: conquering someone else – individuals, whole cities and states – and then continuing to draw away their property through taxation and other demands.

This paper reexamines Cicero’s numerous statements about the Roman state in terms of the avowed goal of De Officiis: to teach the imperfect person how to be virtuous. The topic of practical virtue within the philosophical context of De Officiis granted to Cicero an opportunity to process not only his lengthy political experience at Rome and abroad, but also his thoughts on the condition of the current state. Powerful individuals had recently increased the borders of the empire with the support of the Roman people, but in Cicero’s opinion, the injustice with which these victories were achieved signaled the future ruin of the state (Off. 2.26-29). As one of his last and most swiftly written works, De Officiis in 44 BC was a final attempt to address “the political life of a society that he perceive[d] as hopelessly corrupt” (Rose, 1995).

Cicero was no longer concerned with ideal states and people, but with a very real contemporary crisis. He therefore focuses in De Officiis upon the medium officium or virtuous duties which the vast majority of imperfect people could and should actually accomplish (Off. 3.13b-14). Within such a context, Cicero seizes the opportunity to move beyond the ideal state and empire presented in the De Republica and much of his oratory to consider foreign policy issues noted in Pro Lege Manilia, De Provinciis Consularibus and a letter to his brother Quintus ( 1). Although his primary concern in De Officiis is with the behavior of individuals, Cicero calls upon these very citizens to consider when war is just (e.g. Off. 1.38, 2.26b-27), how taxation can be virtuous (e.g. 2.74-75, 3.87-88) and what treatment allies and subjects deserve as fellow members of the societas humani generis (e.g. 3.21-28). Cicero recognizes the state’s failings towards its empire, but concludes that when this rule is conducted with virtue, its existence ultimately serves a greater purpose in protecting the human race. Far from lacking coherency, De Officiis reveals Cicero’s practical deliberation on the meaning and policy of the Roman empire.