Cosmology and the Polis: The Social Construction of Space and Time in the Tragedies of Aeschylus

Cosmology and the Polis: The Social Construction of Space and Time in the Tragedies of Aeschylus

Richard Seaford

Language: English

Pages: 382

ISBN: 1107470722

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book further develops Professor Seaford's innovative work on the study of ritual and money in the developing Greek polis. It employs the concept of the chronotope, which refers to the phenomenon whereby the spatial and temporal frameworks explicit or implicit in a text have the same structure and uncovers various such chronotopes in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and in particular the tragedies of Aeschylus. Mikhail Bakhtin's pioneering use of the chronotope was in literary analysis. This study by contrast derives the variety of chronotopes manifest in Greek texts from the variety of socially integrative practices in the developing polis - notably reciprocity, collective ritual, and monetised exchange. In particular, the tragedies of Aeschylus embodies the reassuring absorption of the new and threatening monetised chronotope into the traditional chronotope that arises from collective ritual with its aetiological myth.



















Both cycles consist of continuing exchanges between two identical parties. This identity of opposed transactors is powerfully expressed in form-parallelism. In this way a ritual form is used to express the subversion, by an unlimited cycle, of the limit generally imposed by ritual. Similarly, in Herakleitos the unity of opposites, expressed in form-parallelism, is in part a projection of the endless cycle of monetised exchange, in which the opposition between the parties to exchange derives in

and their occurrence in several Athenian tragedies crystallises a basic dilemma of foreign policy. For instance, when the Spartans were faced with a revolt of helots, the Spartan Pericleidas supplicated at Athenian altars, probably in 462, ‘begging for an army’ (Ar. Lys. 1141). Whether this was shortly before or shortly after the production of Suppliants,102 what interests us are two metaphors used – in the consequent controversy in Athens – of the relationship between Athens and Sparta.

the time of Solon at least – over the individual monetised accumulation of agricultural land within the confines of the polis. This conflict became a political crisis that Solon was appointed (probably c. 593) to resolve.49 The poetry attributed to him complains that wealth, and the desire for it, are unlimited.50 Just as the task of Solon as wise reformer was to devise limits to the appropriation of space by money, so in his cosmology it is only intelligence that provides ultimate limits. The

however affect my insistence on the specific influence of monetisation on presocratic cosmology and tragedy. 14 Seaford (2004a) 51 n. 27. 15 Seaford (2004a) 11–12 (esp. n. 40). 16 The crucial difference here between large and unlimited is illustrated by the absurdity of accumulating ten billion tripods (as opposed to ten billion drachmas). Significantly, by far the largest (tending towards unlimited) aggregate of wealth in Homer is what Achilles imagines rejecting from Agamemnon, to express

Dionysos on the right hand side and the altar on the left [from the spectator’s viewpoint]. The irregular shape of the auditorium seems to be determined by the fixed or pre-existent positions of the temple, altar and chamber.10 Although the temple and altar are considered to be fifth-century like the auditorium, we must recognise that architecturally these sacred elements have primacy, and the auditorium is arranged in order to accommodate cult activity…In essence the acting space is a road that

Download sample