Friday, April 02, 2010

Law and Literature. Law as genre of literature in Ancient Greece (Athenian law: intersection between law and literature)


Victoria Wohl

Law's Cosmos: Juridical Discourse in Athenian Forensic Oratory

Cambridge University Press, New York, 2010, xiv+ 362 pp.

ISBN 13: 9780521110747

Recent literary-critical work in legal studies reads law as a genre of literature, noting that Western law originated as a branch of rhetoric in classical Greece and lamenting the fact that the law has lost its connection to poetic language, narrative, and imagination. But modern legal scholarship has paid little attention to the actual juridical discourse of ancient Greece. This book rectifies that neglect through an analysis of the courtroom speeches from classical Athens, texts situated precisely at the intersection between law and literature. Reading these texts for their subtle literary qualities and their sophisticated legal philosophy, it proposes that in Athens' juridical discourse literary form and legal matter are inseparable. Through its distinctive focus on the literary form of Athenian forensic oratory, Law's Cosmos aims to shed new light on its juridical thought, and thus to change the way classicists read forensic oratory and legal historians view Athenian law.

The courtroom speeches of classical Athens created a new legal world and worldview. Law's Cosmos analyzes this jurisprudential world, exploring its boundaries and how it maintains them, its sources of authority and uses of violence, its diverse inhabitants, and its relation to the past and future.

Contents

Preface: before the law, IX

Introduction: the rhetoric of law, 1

Part I The Boundaries of Legal Discourse

1 The world of law: oratory and authority, 21

On the inside, 21

Nomos, demos, polis, 26

Rhetoric's unhappy consciousness (Aeschines 1), 37

The iron chain of law (Demosthenes 25), 50

2 Legal violence and the limit of justice, 66

Law in a field of pain and death, 66

Legal violence and social violence (Demosthenes 54), 71

Touchstone of violence (Antiphon 1), 82

At the limits of the law (Demosthenes 47), 98

Part II The Legal Subject

3 Legal fictions: subjects probable and improbable, 115

The legal subject, 115

The intentional subject (Tetralogy II), 121

The probable subject (Tetralogy I), 133

Legal anthropology (Tetralogy III), 135

4 Logos biou: law's life stories, 155

Tropes of subjectivity, 155

Am I that name? Semiotics of the homonym in Demosthenes 39, 158

The contract and the courtesan: metaphors of self in Demosthenes 48, 167

Impossible metonymies (Lysias 24 via Demosthenes 21), 181

Part III Time, Memory, Reproduction: Law's Past and Future

5 Civic amnesia and legal memory: remembering and forgetting in the lawcourts, 201

Athens' amnesty and law's alētheia, 201

Litigating across lēthē (Andocides 1), 206

Time on trial (Lysias 13), 217

Traumatic memory and legal historiography (Lysias 12), 226

6 Family/law: legal genealogies, 243

Narrative of a family tree, 243

Law's full house, 250

Living will (Isaeus 1), 257

Feminine fictions and the genealogy of law (Isaeus 3 and 6), 268

Conclusion: the paradigmatic law, 287

Law, code, 287

The law of law (Demosthenes 24), 292

The letter of the law and its spirit (Lysias 10), 301

The law, the noose, and the one-eyed man, 309

Bibliography, 317

Index locorum, 345

General index, 354

Victoria Wohl. BA summa cum laude Harvard College (1988); MSt Oxford University (1989); MA University of California, Berkeley (1990); Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley (1990). Professor of Classics. Department of Classics. University of Toronto (Toronto. Canada) (2009-) [v.wohl@utoronto.ca]

Victoria Wohl works on the literature and culture of classical Athens. Her research spans a variety of genres, poetic and prosaic, and focuses on the social (especially gender) relations, political thought, and psychic life of democratic Athens. She is the author of Intimate Commerce: Exchange, Gender, and Subjectivity in Greek Tragedy (University of Texas, 1998; ISBN: 978-0292791145)

and Love Among the Ruins: The Erotics of Democracy in Classical Athens (Princeton University, 2003; ISBN: 978-0691095226)


Wohl received her BA (summa cum laude) from Harvard College and MA and PhD from University of California, Berkeley. Before joining the UofT Classics Department in 2006, she taught at the Ohio State University and University of Texas at San Antonio, and also spent time at the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study. She was co-editor of Phoenix (2007-2009) and is currently a member of the editorial board of Helios.

Articles on Athenian tragedy, comedy, oratory, philosophy, and cultural history:

“Comedy and Athenian Law.” Forthcoming in M. Revermann, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy. (Cambridge)

“The Politics of Enmity in Euripides’ Orestes.” Forthcoming in D. Rosenbloom and J. Davidson, eds. Greek Drama IV (Oxbow)

“A Tragic Case of Poisoning: Intention Between Tragedy and the Law.” Forthcoming in TAPA.

“Suppliant Women and the Democratic State: White Men Saving Brown Women from Brown Men.” Forthcoming in K. Bassi and J. P. Euben, eds., When Worlds Elide: Political Theory,

Cultural Studies and the Effects of Hellenism (Rowman and Littlefield).

“Sexual Difference and the Aporia of Justice in Sophocles’ Antigone.” In D. McCoskey and E. Zakin, eds., Bound by the City: Greek Tragedy, Sexual Difference, and the Formation of the Polis (Albany, 2009), 119-48.

“Rhetoric of the Athenian Citizen.” In E. Gunderson, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rhetoric (Cambridge, 2009), 162-77.

“Review Essay: The Romance of Tragedy and Psychoanalysis.” Helios 35.1 (2008), 89-110.

“Beyond Sexual Difference: Becoming-Woman in Euripides’ Bacchae.” In V. Pedrick and S. Oberhelman, eds., The Soul of Tragedy: Essays on Athenian Drama (Chicago, 2005), 137-54.

“Feminism and Tragedy.” In R. Bushnell, ed., A Companion to Tragedy (Blackwell, 2005), 145-60.

“Dirty Dancing: Xenophon’s Symposium.” In P. Murray and P. Wilson, eds., Music and the Muses: the Culture of Mousikê in the Classical Athenian City (Oxford, 2004), 337-63.

“Time on Trial.” parallax 9.4 (2003), 98-106 (special volume, De-Classifying Hellenism: Cultural Studies and the Classics, eds. K. Bassi and J. P. Euben).

“The Eros of Alcibiades.” Classical Antiquity 18.2 (1999), 349-85.

“Plato avant la lettre: Authenticity in Plato’s Epistles.Ramus 27 (1999), 60-93.

“Scenes from a Marriage: Love and Logos in Plutarch’s Coniugalia Praecepta.” Helios 24.2 (1997),170-92.

Eusebeia kai Philotimia: Hegemony and Democracy at the Panathenaia.” Classica et Mediaevalia 47 (1996), 25-88.

“Standing By the Stathmos: The Creation of Sexual Ideology in the Odyssey.” Arethusa 26.1 (Winter 1993), 19-50.

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