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Department of Classics

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The Berkeley Department of Classics is a world-renowned center for the study of Graeco-Roman antiquity. The Department offers excellent undergraduate and graduate training in ancient Greek and Latin language and literature and in many other aspects of two major cultures of ancient Mediterrranean world, including archaeology, history, epigraphy, papyrology, numismatics, palaeography, philosophy, cultural studies, gender studies, and the classical tradition. The faculty includes and has included many classicists of great distinction in scholarly publication, teaching, and service to the campus and the profession.

Ellen Oliensis
University of California
Department of Classics
7233 Dwinelle Hall #2520
Berkeley CA 94720-2520

Department of Classics

There are 147 publications in this collection, published between 1962 and 2021.
Classical Papers (11)


Logos in Greek culture is language that stakes a claim on the attention of its addressee. It therefore implies a question as to the authority of the utterer. This article investigates how the basis of that authority was distributed between utterer, audience, and the sense that the utterance makes, as well as how that distribution changed over time.

The basic development from archaic to classical culture in the sphere of logos is this: whereas in archaic culture the speaking-position and the position of authority are united in the same person or group, in classical culture they become separated. This occurs in the context both of the lawcourts and of political assemblies. The judging, articulate, authoritative kings and elders of Homer and Hesiod are replaced in court by the silent Athenian jury and in the Assembly by a popular audience, who are spectators of others’ speeches. When authority rests with the judges or voters, but these constitute the audience rather than the speakers, speaking becomes the principal means by which the ambitious could obtain authority for themselves — in effect, taking it over from those in whom it ultimately resided. Skillful public speaking was no longer primarily a professional calling with a special group definition and social place (e.g. that of poetry), but the all-purpose tool by which a man could make something of himself in society.

A man's logos had become, quite generally, his virtue; nevertheless, logos had maintained its traditional affiliation with deception. Paradoxically, the practice by which a man gained virtue and status in the eyes of its arbiters came itself to seem dangerously amoral, as shown both by hostile witnesses such as Aristophanes and Plato, and the efforts of friendly reformers such as Isocrates.

The article concludes by extending this pattern to two further contexts: resistance to the new technology of writing, which was seen as embodying the disconnection of logos from authority; and the attempt made by philosophers to transcend the pattern by becoming their own judges, thereby occupying the position both of speaker and of audience.

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Cabinet of the Muses: Rosenmeyer Festschrift (29)

Biography and Bibliography of T. G. Rosenmeyer (1920-2007)

This document presents the program of the April 7, 2007, memorial event for Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, including a personal and scholarly biography, as well as a complete bibliography of his publications.

Apatê, Agôn, and Literary Self-Reflexivity in Euripides' Helen

Pages 1-16 of Cabinet of the Muses: essays on classical and comparative literature in honor of Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, edited by Mark Griffith and Donald J. Mastronarde (Atlanta 1990).

Euripides and Apatê

Pages 75-87 of Cabinet of the Muses: essays on classical and comparative literature in honor of Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, edited by Mark Griffith and Donald J. Mastronarde (Atlanta 1990).

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Other Recent Work (6)

Singing Ancient Greek: A Guide to Musical Reconstruction and Performance

This handbook, by a professional musician rather than a professional classicist, presents the basic facts about Greek pronunciation, rhythm, melody, and tunings and offers musical reconstructions of selected passages of ancient Greek poetry intended for modern performers.

About the author: A resident of his native Oregon, Douglas Leedy (b. 1938) is a composer, as well as a conductor specializing in early Western music; he has written extensively on tuning and intonation in musical theory and practice. He studied classical Indian singing with K. V. Narayanaswamy and Pandit Pran Nath; his Greek studies began at the University of California, Berkeley, under Elroy Bundy and Gerson Rabinowitz.

About this publication: the Department of Classics is pleased to host this suggestive work by a UC Berkeley alumnus. It has not proved practical to typeset the work, but it has been judged to be a useful addition to the literature on reconstructing Greek musical performance, presenting the unique perspective of a practicing musician and musicologist and thus complementing the efforts of classical scholars. It is therefore offered here as is, scanned from the typescript and manuscript pages.

Contact and Discontinuity: Some Conventions of Speech and Action on the Greek Tragic Stage

A digital version of University of California Publications: Classical Studies, Volume 21 (1979).

An investigation of the conventions governing the relation between the spoken words of the Greek tragic texts and the probable actions of the characters, with detailed attention to the characters' awareness (aural and visual) of their surroundings and of others present, and to the conventional, stylistic, and psychological factors that may signal reduced awareness and loss of "contact." This work also features a rhetorical analysis of many types of questions, study of roundabout and skewed responses to questions, and study of the delayed execution or ignoring of commands. The interpretations and textual readings of dozens of passages in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are discussed.

The digital version (prepared May 2008) was produced by scanning and careful proofreading, including re-entry of the Greek in Unicode, so that the text is completely searchable.

Plaster Casts at Berkeley. Collections of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology & Department of Classics at UC Berkeley. An Exhibition of Rare Plaster Casts of Ancient Greek and Roman Sculpture. 2nd edition 2005, pp. vi + 76 + ii

This is an exhibition catalogue produced by two seminars devoted to the study and restoration of selected pieces from the large collection of plaster casts of ancient sculpture owned by the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Department of Classics of the University of California, Berkeley.

Because of lack of space and funding, the casts have languished for decades in storage, often in destructive conditions. The seminars learned and practiced restoration techniques, created displays, informative labels, and this catalogue. In addition to a catalogue of 18 items, this booklet contains brief essays on the history of this collection, the history of plaster cast collections, the use of such casts in American education, plaster casts in antiquity, and the conservation of plaster casts.

The catalogue was edited by Stephen G.Miller and designed by Erin Dintino. The authors of the elements of this catalogue are Jose Abrigo, Mont Allen, Nathan T. Arrington, Raina Chao, Marcia Devoe, Erin Dintino, Megan DuBois, Rebecca Karberg, Stephen G. Miller, Stephanie K. Pearson, J. M. Rygorsky, Boaz Zissu.

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California Classical Studies (7)

Greek Satyr Play: Five Studies

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With a new introduction and some revisions, these essays on Classical Greek satyr plays, originally published in various venues between 2002 and 2010, suggest new critical approaches to this important dramatic genre and identify previously neglected dimensions and dynamics within their original Athenian context. Griffith shows that satyr plays, alongside the ludicrous and irresponsible—but harmless—antics of their chorus, presented their audiences with culturally sophisticated narratives of romance, escapist adventure, and musical-choreographic exuberance, amounting to a “parallel universe” to that of the accompanying tragedies in the City Dionysia festival. The class oppositions between heroic/divine characters and the rest (choruses, messengers, servants, etc.) that are so integral to Athenian tragedy are shown to be present also, in exaggerated form, in satyr drama, with the satyr chorus occupying a role that also inevitably recalled for the Athenian audiences their own (often foreign-born) slaves. Meanwhile the familiar main characters of tragedy (Heracles, Danae and Perseus, Hermes and Apollo, Achilles, Odysseus, etc.) are re-deployed in an engaging milieu of erotic encounters, miraculous discoveries, guaranteed happy endings, marriages, and painless release from suffering for all—both for the well-behaved heroes and also for the low-life, playful satyrs (the “slaves of Dionysus”). In their fusion of adventure and romance, fantasy and naïvete, Aphrodite and Dionysus, Athenian satyr plays thus anticipate in many respects, Griffith suggests, the later developments of Greek pastoral and prose romance.

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Alexander of Aphrodisias and the Text of Aristotle's Metaphysics

Alexander of Aphrodisias’s commentary (about AD 200) is the earliest extant commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and it is the most valuable indirect witness to the Metaphysics text and its transmission. Mirjam Kotwick’s study is a systematic investigation into the version of the Metaphysics that Alexander used when writing his commentary, and into the various ways his text, his commentary, and the texts transmitted through our manuscripts relate to one another.  Through a careful analysis of lemmata, quotations, and Alexander’s discussion of Aristotle’s argument Kotwick shows how to uncover and partly reconstruct a Metaphysics version from the second century AD. Kotwick then uses this version for improving the text that came down to us by the direct manuscript tradition and for finding solutions to some of the puzzles in this tradition. Through a side-by-side examination of Alexander’s text, his interpretation of Aristotle’s thought, and the directly transmitted versions of the Metaphysics, Kotwick reveals how Alexander’s commentary may have influenced the text of our manuscripts at different stages of the transmission process. This study is the first book-length examination of a commentary as a witness to an ancient philosophical text. This blend of textual criticism and philosophical analysis both expands on existing methodologies in classical scholarship and develops new ones.

The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy

Pindar’s epinikian odes were poems commissioned to celebrate athletic victories in the first half of the fifth century BCE. Drawing on the insights of interpretive anthropology and cultural history, Leslie Kurke investigates how the socially embedded genre of epinikion responded to a period of tremendous social and cultural change. Kurke examines the odes as public performances which enact the reintegration of the athletic victor into his heterogeneous communities. These communities—the victor’s household, his aristocratic class, and his city—represent competing, sometimes conflicting interests, which the epinikian poet must satisfy to accomplish his project of reintegration. Kurke considers in particular the different modes of exchange in which Pindar’s poetry participated: the symbolic economy of the household, gift exchange between aristocratic houses, and the workings of monetary exchange within the city. Her analysis produces an archaeology of Pindar’s poetry, exposing multiple systems of imagery that play on different shared cultural models to appeal to the various segments of the poet’s audience. The Traffic in Praise aims to provide new insight into Pindar’s poetry as well as into the conceptual world of archaic and classical Greece.

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