Reading Death in Ancient Rome
In Reading Death in Ancient Rome, Mario Erasmo considers both actual funerary rituals and their literary depictions in epic, elegy, epitaphs, drama, and prose works as a form of participatory theater in which the performers and the depicters of rituals engage in strategies to involve the viewer/reader in the ritual process, specifically by invoking and playing on their cultural associations at a number of levels simultaneously. He focuses on the associative reading process--the extent to which literary texts allude to funeral and burial ritual, the narrative role played by the allusion to recreate a fictive version of the ritual, and how the allusion engages readers' knowledge of the ritual or previous literary intertexts. Such a strategy can advance a range of authorial agendas by inviting readers to read and reread assumptions about both the surrounding Roman culture and earlier literature invoked through intertextual referencing. By (re)defining their relation to the dead, readers assume various roles in an ongoing communion with the departed. Reading Death in Ancient Rome makes an important and innovative contribution to semiotic theory as applied to classical texts and to the emerging field of mortality studies. It should thus appeal to classicists as well as to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in art history and archeology.
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Introduction Reading Death
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Achilles actors actual Aeneas Aeneid alive alludes allusion ancestors Andromache apotheosis ashes Astyanax atque audience Augustus Ausonius bier body bones burial buried burning Caesar character commemoration Cornelia cremation death ritual decapitation deceased describes Dido discussion dramatic emphasizes Ennius epic epitaph Eteocles evokes father figurative focus funeral ritual funerary ritual grave grief haec Hector Hector's tomb Hecuba Hippolytus honor husband imitation intertexts lament Latin literary living Lucan marker mass cremations metaphor mihi Misenus moral mourners mourning murder narrative voice Opheltes ossa ossilegium Ovid Ovid's Pacuvius Pallas Parentalia Paulina Paullus performance Pertinax playing dead poem poet poetic poetry Polynices Polyxena Pompey Pompey's head portrait Propertius pyre quae quod reader reading remains representation role Roman Rome Scipio self-representation Seneca's Servius spectacle Statius Suetonius suicide symbolic Tacitus tcov theater theatricality Theseus tion tombstone Trimalchio Troades Trojans trope tumulus turns Turnus Venus Vergil wife