The memory of battle in Ancient Greece : warfare, identity and materiality
- The Memory of Battle in Ancient Greece: Warfare, Identity, and Materiality centers upon warfare in late Archaic and Classical Greece. Specifically, it looks to the material culture of battle and examines its role in the experience, memory, and representation of warfare: How did the Corinthian helmet determine the nature and experience of battle? How did despoiled armor and the battlefield trophy structure its narratives? And how did the display of armor figure into strategies of individual and communal self-representation? Through a focus upon these important questions, this work examines not only the critical role played by these objects in structuring the experience and memory of warfare, but also their subsequent importance in other areas of cultural practice, especially moral and political self-definition. In Chapter One, I embark upon a close examination of the Corinthian helmet. This remarkable piece of technology, a material trace of Greek battle that is still available to us, allows us to ask—and answer—the most basic of questions regarding this experience: namely, what was it like? With a particular focus upon a specific helmet, I attempt to build a phenomenology of battle faithful to the individual's experience. I conclude that, given the form (shape, design) of the helmet, the most crucial effect of this object upon its wearer was the severe curtailment of his sight and hearing; the protection it affords comes at the expense of senses themselves not necessary within the Greek phalanx. These senses, however, form the basis for the narration of an individual's—any individual's—experience: what did I see, what did I hear? We require these sensory data in order to build an experiential narrative of an event that is responsive (faithful) to how it was actually experienced. This is what makes it true, after all. The individual experience of battle, I argue, is therefore inherently chaotic—fragmented, unruly, disjointed. It provides no possibility of narrative cohesion, in fact resists any attempt at narrativization responsive to its internal logic, to its own structure. Lacking the means to build a narrative of experience, I then survey in Chapter Two the discourses by which battle could be framed, focusing upon the Iliad. I look to the means by which the experience was characterized, and argue that the Iliad creates a discursive frame by which battle could be understood and then narrated; in the interaction between narrative and audience, poet and listener, a horizon of expectations was constructed through which battle as the site of honor was not only established, but interrogated. A close analysis of the epithets for warfare and battle thus allows us a clear view of the sorrows of warfare, while an engagement of the means by which honor is embedded within this experience then builds the justificatory narratives through which the Homeric heroes face the battlefield. In bringing these narratives into a lived context, there arises a possibility to interrogate them, and determine the extent to which the individual hero wished to participate in the structures of value they create. I focus specifically upon the eight instances of the epithetic phrase 'man-glorifying battle' and conclude that the Iliad creates a narrative means to engage the attainment of honor through valor on the battlefield. I then turn in Chapter Three to the means by which alternative narratives of the experience of battle could be constructed, focusing upon material culture. I argue that armor, interestingly enough, serves once again to structure the narrative re-constitutions of the individual's experience after the fact. I look first to the uses of despoiled armor in the Iliad, and argue that it functions by moral synecdoche to signify not only victory, but the entirety of the values and virtues required of the victorious warrior. In so doing, it allows individuals to embody, communicate, and commemorate themselves as successful in battle, and then make use of this symbolic charge in order to locate themselves within the moral landscape of their community. A close analysis of both successful and unsuccessful despoilment scenes in the Iliad thus allows us to engage the many uses of material culture in the Homeric battlefield, and how battle is incorporated into practices of memory (individual and collective) as well as commemoration and performance. I then survey the transformation of despoiled armor into the tropaion or battlefield trophy, where the individual is granted the same possibilities though now as a member of a polis.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|De Vivo, Juan Sebastian
|Stanford University, Department of Classics.
|Martin, Richard P
|Martin, Richard P
|Statement of responsibility
|Juan Sebastian De Vivo.
|Submitted to the Department of Classics.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2013.
- © 2013 by Juan Sebastian De Vivo
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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