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By Nancy Worman

This examine of the language of insult charts abuse in classical Athenian literature that centres at the mouth and its appetites, specifically speaking, consuming, ingesting, and sexual actions. Attic comedy, Platonic discussion, and fourth-century oratory usually set up insulting depictions of the mouth and its excesses as a way to deride specialist audio system as sophists, demagogues, and girls. even supposing the styles of images explored are very fashionable in historic invective and later western literary traditions, this is often the 1st publication to debate this phenomenon in classical literature. It responds to a turning out to be curiosity in either abusive speech genres and the illustration of the physique, illuminating an iambic discourse that isolates the intemperate mouth as a visual brand of behaviours ridiculed within the democratic arenas of classical Athens.

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The genres in which such abuse appears reflect this diversity. Indeed, I would submit 1 This elegiac fragment has been attributed to Archilochus by Reitzenstein 1899 and to Hipponax by Blass 1900. West follows Blass (= fr. 115). Hendrickson 1925 emphasizes its form (an imprecation in response to a transgression of oaths), which is a central mode of iambos and a narrative element in the vitae of famous iambic poets. See further below. 25 26 Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens that abusive modes shadow many, if not most, genres, often functioning in irreverent, devious, or sinister contrast to the perspectives openly valued by the given text.

Since pr¯oktos most precisely means “anus,” this is a difficult term to translate without sounding either euphemistic or clinical; cf. Henderson 1975 [1991]: 201–02, 209–13. Cf. Dover 1978: 140–138–46; Henderson 1975 [1991]: 75–77, 210; Davidson 1997: 167–82. See further in ch. 2. 18 Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens the seme’s path: if being eurupr¯oktos means that the mouth is always open, then it also suggests more “shameful” activities than talking. The comic scheme thus maps onto the body a set of correspondences that dismantles its natural coherence and reassembles it in a new and debased form.

Nem. , Il. 186, Od. 509; cf. Hipponax fr. 59 The insightful work of scholars on such equations in archaic poetry has revealed their programmatic quality in the formulation of iambos, where imposture of a hungry, rude outsider draws connections between food and talk. 61 Tragedy famously makes pervasive use of the imagery of sacrifice, a practice with potential to taint its participants and thus to impede their abilities to speak in a lucid and communicative manner. 62 Chapters 2 and 3 treat more comic settings, which are far more influential on abusive language in prose writing.

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