ElAnt v1n1 - Work-in-Progress - Tragedy, Comedy and Oratory

Volume 1, Number 1
June 1993


Victor Bers,
Department of Classics,
Yale University,
New Haven,
CT 06520,
e-mail: VBERS@YALEVM.bitnet

Once a booklet on classical studies in Eastern Europe that Greg Nagy and I are assembling gets put to bed, I will return to giving the last few kicks to a manuscript called Speech in Speech: Studies in Incorporated Oratio Recta in Attic Drama and Oratory. This is primarily a stylistic study of direct quotation of 'actual' or hypothetical speech within those genres of the fifth and fourth centuries intended for public performance: tragedy, comedy and rhetoric. Among the matters I take up are the stylistic register of the quotations compared to the surrounding text, the demarcation of oratio recta passages in delivery, and the degree to which oratio recta conveyed a sense of authenticity. Though I thought I was loyal to my logical positivist instincts, and though I make the claim that my subject is parole, and not langue speaking of its losing battle with disintegration, a distinguished scholar known for his theoretical sophistication has congratulated me on producing some pages that 'Jacques Derrida himself could have written'. I was, needless to say, crushed.

Next in line is a study of the Attic genos dikanikon . My main interest is courtroom speech of professional caliber as a contrived synecdoche, approaching ritual, of the litigant's entire life; minute details of delivery, lexicon, syntax, and phraseology were (I argue) manipulated by the logographos to help his client avoid the plangent mode of an idiotes and, by strictly regulating the affective resources of language, demonstrate the masculine self- possession that entitled him (forsooth) to a favorable verdict, whatever the actual 'facts' of the case.

Victor Bers
e-mail: VBERS@YALEVM.bitnet

Electronic Antiquity Vol. 1 Issue 1 - June 1993
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606
by Kaavya Giridhar