3rd Year, Classical Civilisation (Euro)
Society Through Literature- How much can a text tell us about its contemporary society, its morals and its needs
Using an essay on Homeric ethics in the Iliad as a starting point, I would like to discuss how we can use literature to learn about a particular society and also what a text cannot tell us. I am writing my dissertation on the transformation of the figure of Prometheus from Hesiod to Aeschylus. In my research I am looking at the interplay between the authors, their societies and the material itself. Investigating in this manner, I have had to take a pan-arts approach to research, which has had its difficulties: from trying to create historic and political context with limited primary sources to the numerous problems with translation of material. In the 15-minute presentation, I would like to discuss different areas of influence on a text: both active, for example commissioning and other agents influencing why a text is written; and passive, such as evidence of cultural norms referenced in a text. From this, I would like to open a discussion on the importance of context in understanding literature; and, if their myth is so integrally bound to the civilisation that created it, how figures like Prometheus transcend the timeframe of their own society.