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Casper C. DE JONGE

By 20 février 2020février 2nd, 2024Professeur·es invité·es 2020

Du 28 février au 13 mars 2020

Ancient Literary Criticism

Seminar 1
Aristotle’s History of Literature and its Influence on Ancient Literary Criticism

Vendredi 28 février, 10h-12h

École normale supérieure, 45 rue d’Ulm
Salle de séminaire du Centre d’études anciennes

This paper will start from a discussion of Poetics chapters 4-5, where Aristotle presents an early history of poetry. I will then demonstrate the Aristotelian influence on ancient histories of literature, by showing that later critics adopt the same teleological approach. Examples will be given from Demetrius’ On Style and Dionysius’ On Thucydides. It will be argued that Longinus’ On the Sublime represents a different approach to the early history of literature.


Seminar 2
Sublime Sappho

Vendredi 28 février, 16h30-18h30

École normale supérieure, 45 rue d’Ulm
Salle F

Longinus often cites Homer, Demosthenes, Plato and other classical authors. But one of the most famous literary fragments cited in On the Sublime is Sappho, fragment 31, ‘That man seems to me to be equal to the gods …’ This poem might seem quite a surprising choice for a rhetorical treatise on the sublime. In earlier literary criticism, like Demetrius, On Style, and Dionysius, On Composition, Sappho is presented as the model of elegant charm and smooth composition. Longinus assigns a completely new role to the female poet, whose destructive love experience in his treatise resonates with the dangerous shipwreck scenes in the poetry of Homer and Archilochus. It will be argued that Longinus interprets Sappho’s ecstasy of love as a model of a sublime experience.


Seminar 3
Sublime Synthesis: Longinus on Composition

Vendredi 6 mars, 16h30-18h30

École normale supérieure, 45 rue d’Ulm
Salle F

In this seminar we will examine Longinus’ discussion of composition (synthesis), the fifth and final source of the sublime (Subl. 39-42). It will be argued that Longinus’ theory of composition belongs to the same tradition as Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ On Composition. Both rhetoricians focus on melody and rhythm, compare stylistic composition to instrumental music, apply the method of metathesis, and praise the sublime effects of a ‘clever arrangement’ of common words. But Longinus also differs from Dionysius. Attention will be drawn to Longinus’ use of the term episynthesis (40.1), his frequent use of syn-composita, his evaluation of rhythmical feet, and to his models of composition: Xenophon, Demosthenes, Philistus, and Aristophanes.


Seminar 4
The final chapter of On the Sublime


École normale supérieure, 45 rue d’Ulm
Salle F

The final chapter of On the Sublime (44) is a philosophical dialogue on the decline of oratory. Why are there so few sublime talents in Longinus’ own age? An anonymous philosopher advances a political explanation, whereas the author himself presents a moral explanation. Does the philosopher hint at a contrast between the Roman Republic and the Empire or is he talking about the decline of literature after the classical period of Greece? Scholars have pointed to parallels between Longinus’ philosopher and Philo of Alexandria, but they have also recognized connections between Longinus’ final chapter and Tacitus’ Dialogus de oratoribus. What do these parallels tell us about the intellectual context of On the Sublime?


Casper C. de Jonge is Associate Professor of Greek language and literature at Leiden University (The Netherlands). His research concentrates on ancient rhetoric, literary criticism, and Greek literature in the Roman world. He received funding from the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO) for research projects on ‘The Sublime in Context’ (2010-2013) and ‘Greek Literary Criticism and Latin Literature’ (2014-2019). His monograph Between Grammar and Rhetoric: Dionysius of Halicarnassus on Language, Linguistics and Literature was published in 2008 (Leiden: Brill). He published many articles in journals like Classical Philology, American Journal of Philology, Mnemosyne, Style and Classical Quarterly. With Piet Gerbrandy he published a Dutch translation with introduction and annotations of Aristotle’s Poetics (Groningen: Historische Uitgeverij 2017). With Richard Hunter he edited the volume Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Augustan Rome: Rhetoric, Criticism and Historiography (Cambridge University Press 2019). He has also published in French: ‘Critique Littéraire grecque et poésie latine : Denys et Horace, Longin et Virgile’, Lalies 39: 89-124. Casper de Jonge is a member of the editorial board of Mnemosyne (since 2019). Previously he was chief editor of Lampas (2009-2015) and council member of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (2013-2017). He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC (2008) and at the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies of Princeton University (2012). He is the programme director of the Master Classics and Ancient Civilizations at Leiden University.

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