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This book explores the myth of the Cyclops across western history, and how its changing form from ancient Greece until the modern day reveals fundamental changes in each era’s elite understandings and depictions of cultural values. From Homer’s Odyssey to Hellenistic poetry, from Roman epic to early medieval manuscript glosses, and from early modern opera to current pop culture, the myth of the Cyclops persists in changing forms. This myth’s distinct forms in each historical era reflect and distill wider changes occurring in the spheres of politics, philosophy, aesthetics, and social values, and as a story that persists continually across three millennia it provides a unique lens for cross-historical comparison across western thought.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4348-7
  • *
Publication Status: Forthcoming
Publication Date: Jan 31,2022
Interior Color: Black with Color Inserts
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 285
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4348-7
$114.95

This book explores the myth of the Cyclops across western history, and how its changing form from ancient Greece until the modern day reveals fundamental changes in each era’s elite understandings and depictions of cultural values. From Homer’s Odyssey to Hellenistic poetry, from Roman epic to early medieval manuscript glosses, and from early modern opera to current pop culture, the myth of the Cyclops persists in changing forms. This myth’s distinct forms in each historical era reflect and distill wider changes occurring in the spheres of politics, philosophy, aesthetics, and social values, and as a story that persists continually across three millennia it provides a unique lens for cross-historical comparison across western thought.

The story of the Cyclops myth across western history is particularly reflective of changing selfhood, namely the ways that at least certain authors in each historical-cultural period understand how identity is constructed. This study particularly responds to the work of the philosopher and classicist Christopher Gill, who has influentially argued for a clear binary in notions of selfhood between the ancient and modern worlds. I build on Gill and others, but also depart from them, arguing that a comparative analysis of the Cyclops myth illustrates not a binary but rather a series of incremental, clearly defined, but non-linear shifts in selfhood from the ancient to the modern world. In doing so, my project also provides a comprehensive story of the re-tellings of the Cyclops myth over time, showing how these re-tellings not only reflect changing cultural values and understandings, but also distill and even influence them.

This book explores the myth of the Cyclops across western history, and how its changing form from ancient Greece until the modern day reveals fundamental changes in each era’s elite understandings and depictions of cultural values. From Homer’s Odyssey to Hellenistic poetry, from Roman epic to early medieval manuscript glosses, and from early modern opera to current pop culture, the myth of the Cyclops persists in changing forms. This myth’s distinct forms in each historical era reflect and distill wider changes occurring in the spheres of politics, philosophy, aesthetics, and social values, and as a story that persists continually across three millennia it provides a unique lens for cross-historical comparison across western thought.

The story of the Cyclops myth across western history is particularly reflective of changing selfhood, namely the ways that at least certain authors in each historical-cultural period understand how identity is constructed. This study particularly responds to the work of the philosopher and classicist Christopher Gill, who has influentially argued for a clear binary in notions of selfhood between the ancient and modern worlds. I build on Gill and others, but also depart from them, arguing that a comparative analysis of the Cyclops myth illustrates not a binary but rather a series of incremental, clearly defined, but non-linear shifts in selfhood from the ancient to the modern world. In doing so, my project also provides a comprehensive story of the re-tellings of the Cyclops myth over time, showing how these re-tellings not only reflect changing cultural values and understandings, but also distill and even influence them.

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ContributorBiography

Paul Robertson

Paul Robertson is Lecturer in Classics and Humanities at the University of New Hampshire. His research includes ancient Mediterranean thought, theorizing religion, and western intellectual history. He is the author of Paul’s Letters and Contemporary Greco-Roman Literature: Theorizing a New Taxonomy (2016) and co-editor of All Religion is Inter-Religion: Engaging the Work of Steven M. Wasserstrom (2019).

Acknowledgments .................................................................... xi
List of Illustrations ................................................................... xv
Preface...................................................................................xvii
Outline of Chapters .......................................................xviii
Introduction. Selfhood and the Cyclops Myth ............................. 1
What is Selfhood?.............................................................. 1
Ancient Versus Modern Selfhood ....................................... 3
The Cyclops Myth.............................................................. 8
What is Myth? ................................................................. 11
Myth, Culture, and Change – or, Reception Theory.......... 12
Chapter One. The Archaic Period: Homer and Hesiod ............. 21
The “Original” Myths and the Objective-Participant Homeric
Paradigm ............................................................ 21
Ancient Cyclops Myths ............................................... 21
Selfhood in the Odyssey ............................................. 26
Homer’s Cyclops and the Archaic Period .................... 36
Chapter Two. The Classical Era: Euripides’ Cyclops ................. 49
The Comic Cyclops and the First Appearance of Subjective
Preferences, Interior Psychology, and Individual
Features ................................................................... 49
Euripides’ Cyclops ...................................................... 49
Mirror Reading Euripides and Objective-Participant
Selfhood ............................................................. 51
The Appearance of Subjective-Individualist Selfhood
in Euripides ........................................................ 55
Euripides and the Classical Period .............................. 62
Chapter Three. The Hellenistic Age: Theocritus ....................... 69
The Romantic Cyclops of Greek Bucolic Poetry................ 69
Idyll VI ....................................................................... 72
Idyll XI........................................................................ 77
Theocritus’ Cyclops and the Hellenistic Age................ 85
Conclusion ...................................................................... 94
Chapter Four. The Roman Empire: Virgil and Ovid ................. 97
Multiple Cyclops and Mixed Selfhood .............................. 97
Virgil’s Eclogues .......................................................... 99
Virgil’s Aeneid .......................................................... 103
Ovid’s Metamorphoses ............................................... 109
Selfhood in the Roman Empire ................................. 118
Conclusion .................................................................... 132
Art History Excursus 1: The Greek and Roman Cyclops, a
Selective Summary ........................................................ 135
Chapter Five. The Post-Classical World and the Middle Ages....143
The Christian and (Neo-)Platonic Cyclops of Morality,
Internality, and Abstraction ................................... 143
Nonnus of Panopolis ................................................. 146
Scholars and Scholiasts of Late Antiquity and the
Early Middle Ages: Fulgentius, Boethius,
Remigius, K and T Revisers, St. Gall glosses, and
the Second Vatican Mythographer .................... 150
Late Medieval Folktales and Story Collections .......... 159
Early Modern Opera and Theater.............................. 163
Early and Late Medieval Society ............................... 167
Conclusion .................................................................... 179
Chapter Six. Modernity: Graphic Novels, Comics, Film, Young
Adult Novels ................................................................. 183
The Fully Subjective-Individualist Cyclops of Modern Pop
Culture .................................................................. 183
Graphic Novels and Comic Books: Isabel Greenberg’s
“Encyclopedia of Early Earth” and Marvel’s XMen
.................................................................. 185
Selfhood in Modern Film: The Cyclops in Krull ......... 191
Selfhood in Modern Novels: Percy Jackson ............... 193
Early Modern, Modern, and Post-Modern Society ..... 198
Art History Excursus 2: The Post-Medieval Cyclops, a Selective
Summary ........................................................................211
Conclusion ............................................................................ 219
Bibliography ......................................................................... 223
Primary Sources and Translations .................................. 223
Secondary Sources ......................................................... 225
Indices .................................................................................. 253
Concepts & Ideas ........................................................... 253
Authors, Ancient/Primary Sources................................. 256
Authors, Modern Academic ........................................... 258