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Level 7

7AACM162 Imperial Greek prose fiction: Anonymous, Aesop Romance

Credit value: 20
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Pavlos Avlamis (2018/19)
Assessment: 1 x 5,000 word essay (100%)
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2 hour classes 
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years. 

Places on this module will be capped at 16 and will be allocated in the first instance to those students who are following the MA Classics degree programme. Any remaining places up the maximum size of the class will then be distributed proportionally between Colleges.

Pre-requisites: Greek language to an advanced level. Teaching includes notable proportion of reading in the original language.

This module offers students the chance to study in the original Greek an important work of Greek prose fiction that features with increasing prominence in current debates on Greek literature and culture.

The Aesop Romance (also known as the Life of Aesop) is a fictional biography of the fabulist Aesop circulating as an anonymous text under the Roman Empire and written in a mixture of low Koine Greek and a learned literary idiom. It was widely read and enjoyed from the Roman period up to Byzantium and beyond.

The text and its critical issues provide an opportunity to explore the variety of Greek prose fiction produced and read under the Roman Empire, the variety of Greek biographical writing, as well as current debates about the range and genres of ancient prose fiction. At the same time, the work has traditionally been approached by Classicists and Byzantinists as a specimen of ancient popular literature and its study raises important issues about conceptions of ancient popular culture and folklore, as well as about the sociology and cultural history of Greek literature.

In this seminar we will focus on the oldest and longest version of the Aesop Romance (recension G), which will also offer students the chance to study closely a rare example of a Greek text written in a low, spoken register of Koine Greek.

 Seminar sessions will include close reading of selections of the text, as well as discussion of prescribed secondary literature and critical issues arising. Students will be required to take an active part in discussion, while they will also be assigned presentations on particular topics.

Suggested introductory reading

This is a general introductory reading list and purchase of these books is not mandatory:

  • N. Holzberg (2002) The Ancient Fable: An Introduction. Bloomington: 76-84
  • L. Kurke (2010) Aesopic Conversations: . Princeton: 16-22
  • J.-Th. Papademetriou (1997) Aesop as an Archetypal Hero. Athens. 
  • B. E. Perry (1936) Studies in the Text History of the Life and Fables of Aesop. Haverford

 There is no requirement of any textbook purchase for this module.

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