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Greek Epigram in the Roman EmpireMartial's Forgotten Rivals$
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Gideon Nisbet

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199263370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263370.001.0001

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Reading Skoptic Epigram

Reading Skoptic Epigram

(p.1) 1 Reading Skoptic Epigram
Greek Epigram in the Roman Empire


Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines a reading strategy for skoptic epigram. It presents some general problems in the interpretation of humorous literature, and shows how these are exacerbated in the case of skoptic epigram because of difficulties in identifying relevant literary and performative contexts. A flawed approach is identified, based in the use of skoptic epigram to generate historical factoids. The chapter briefly draws attention to the problematically ‘bitty’ nature of any scholarly account of epigram: every interpretative account must pick and choose selectively, from a source (the Anthology) which itself is the untidy end-product of epigram's complex ancient reception history. Finally, questions of value are explicitly raised; the chapter uses personal voice to develop a Cultural Materialist account of skoptic epigram as sub-genre balanced between ideological subversion and containment.

Keywords:   hermeneutics, humour, selectivity, Greek Anthology, Cultural Materialism, personal voice, ideology

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