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The Unmentionable Apophthegm: An Overview of the Pagan Greek Tradition
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Romance Studies and Classics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3983-9132
2020 (English)In: Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation: Essays in Honor of Samuel Rubenson / [ed] Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Thomas Arentzen, Henrik Rydell Johnsén, Andreas Westergren, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2020, p. 75-96Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Early usage of the noun ἀπόφθεγμα and the corresponding verb are examined and discussed. The verb is consistently used to underline an authoritative speech act, calling attention to a particular individual’s dramatic statement. The noun “apophthegm” denote’s someone’s pointed utterance, often, but not necessarily, in response to a question. Overlappings of apophthegm with gnōmē, apomnēmoneuma, paroimia and chreia are also discussed. Apophthegms labeled as such in Xenophon, Aristotle, Plutarch, Diogenes Laertius, Stobaeus and other sources, are shown to be practically indistinguishable from chreia. Evidence for early collections of pagan apophthegms is summarized: apophthegmata occurs as a title for collections or as a header introducing lists of sayings in biographies from Hellenistic to medieval times. The collecting of anecdotes and apophthegms of famous people was related to growing biographical interests in character studies as well as a reflection of an increasingly literate society, or at least of the literary habits of an educated elite with cosmopolitan tastes. Pagan Greek apophthegms attributed to Greek celebrities, usually making a moral point, sometimes only a witty one, were ubiquitous in Greek and Roman society by the time the Christians got around to compiling their own collections of the apophthegms of the desert Fathers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2020. p. 75-96
Series
Vigiliae Christianae Supplements, ISSN 0920-623X, E-ISSN 2452-1957 ; 161
Keywords [en]
apophthegm, apophthegmata, chreia, gnomologium, ancient biography
National Category
Specific Literatures
Research subject
Classical Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-183855DOI: 10.1163/9789004430747_006ISBN: 978-90-04-43069-3 (print)ISBN: 978-90-04-43074-7 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-183855DiVA, id: diva2:1456936
Available from: 2020-08-07 Created: 2020-08-07 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004430747/BP000007.xml?rskey=kxPwUX&result=2

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Searby, Denis M.

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