BMCR 2020.06.07

Intratextuality and Latin literature

, , , Intratextuality and Latin literature. Trends in classics. Supplementary volumes, Volume 69. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. x, 496 p.. ISBN 9783110610215. €129,95.

[Authors and titles are listed below.]

The present volume consists of twenty-seven contributions, most of which were presented at the conference ‘Intratextuality and Roman Literature’ (Thessaloniki, May 25-27, 2017). The Trends in Classics conference series, held in Thessaloniki every year since 2012, has provided one of the most prestigious interdisciplinary annual meetings for classical studies.

The book explores the evolution (in chronological order) of the phenomenon of intratextuality in Latin literature, across a wide range of authors, genres and historical periods. The papers collected are divided into nine groups, with a particular interest in combined examples of intratextual and intertextual poetics and how intertextuality in Roman literature employs critical methods and reading practices already used in Greek literature.

Twenty years have passed since the volume of A. Sharrock-H. Morales (eds.), Intratextuality: Greek and Roman Textual Relations, Oxford (2000) came out, and very little has been written about this approach since then. Intratextuality is a term developed in the 1990s to describe and theorize the relationship between the parts, the wholes and holes in classical texts, as well described by Alison Sharrock.[1]

Intratextuality stands in opposition to the notion of ‘wholeness,’ as outlined by Aristotle in Poetics 1451a31-35, and by contrast it encourages fragmentation, by creating networks between different parts of texts. One feature of intratextuality defends the value and the relevance of close reading: “close readings of the textuality of texts are essential for effective historicist analysis.”[2] The collection by Sharrock and Morales owes a debt, acknowledged by Helen Morales, to J.P. Sullivan, Critical Essays on Roman Literature: Elegy and Lyric, London (1962), while it diverges in its emphasis on the “political consequences” of intratextual description and “has its roots” in “New Criticism.”[3] It can be said that intratextuality seeks some features and devices concerning uncertainty, such as contradictions, repetitions, digressions, and ‘anomalies’ in the text. Part of intratextual reading concerns the meaningful relationship between digressions and their main text in order to find out parallels between passages, scenes, images, lexicon and structure in disparate parts of texts; here ‘ring composition’ technique is a classic example. Intratextual approaches to texts may be interested in readerly responses to the text.

The editors provide a short, detailed summary of each contribution inside the book in the introductory chapter.  The book proper begins with Alison Sharrock’s “How Do We Read a (W)hole?: Dubious First Thoughts about the Cognitive Turn,” the only article in the first part, entitled “Intratextuality and Cognitive Approach.” Sharrock considers the phenomenon of intratextuality within the frame of the so-called ‘cognitive turn’ in recent literary studies. She faces the problem of the validity of of incorporating neurological theories into intratextual analysis of ancient literature. Sharrock tries to answer these questions: What is the reader? How do readers construct their interpretation of the text? A fundamental point is the difference between ‘first impressions’ and ‘rereading’ and consequently between the ways we read ancient texts now and the ways in which they were originally received. Moreover, for an intratextual approach combined with cultural studies and cognitive psychology and neuroscience, the role of memory either of the poet or of the reader is important.

The second, “Late Republican and Augustan Lyric Poetry and Elegy,” consists of three papers. Gale Trimble’s essay analyzes the intratextual reading of Catullus’ long poems (61-68) by investigating their dependance upon sensory motifs: the echoes (‘I’ve heard this before’), the reflections (‘I’ve seen this before’) and the verbal links (‘I’ve read this before’). The contributions by Laurel Fulkerson and Jaqueline Fabre-Serris deal with the Corpus Tibullianum. Fulkerson focuses on the importance of key emotions in the world of elegy, such as credula spes (‘deceptive hope’) in Tib. 2. 6. Hope guides the elegiac lover’s emotional imagination, even if it mainly leads him to disappointments and only rarely to flashes of joy, traditions continued by Ovid in the poetry of exile. These emotions can help to conceptualize elegy as a single unified text. Fabre-Serris analyzes the poetic cycle of the third book of the Tibullian corpus, through an intertextual and intratextual approach. She examines the authorship of (Ps.) Tib. 3. 8-18 and ascribes poems 9, 11 and 13-18 to Sulpicia, but assigns the others to an unidentified but contemporary author.

The essay by George Kazantzidis opens the third part, “Didactic, Bucolic and Epic Poetry,” with a paper about how the plague at the end of Lucretius’ DRN is constructed through intratextual links with the language of disease at the end of Book 3 and 4. The intratextual analysis is supported by an intertextual reading of the Lucretian plague in the light of Callimachus’ sixth hymn (In Cererem), containing details absent in Thucydides’ account of the plague. The following chapter by Alison Keith focuses on Virgil’s use of the lexicon of cattle and oxen (bos, taurus, vitulus) across the whole Virgilian oeuvre as a result of a strategic use of a programmatic intratextuality and through intertextual echoes of his literary models. The contributions by Martin Korenjak and Christine Perkell draw attention to the Aeneid. Korenjak denies the thesis by Adam Parry,[4] which has much in common with the so-called ‘Harvard school’ (influenced by New Criticism), on the “two voices” of Virgil: one for and the other against Augustus. Perkell tries to connect Aeneas to Iapyx, characters both representative of pietas in different ways, through an intratextual perspective. Philip Hardie’s essay closes the section. It focuses on the way in which Virgilian intertextuality, especially in the Aeneid, establishes intratextual relationships within Prudentius’ Psychomachia (“a profoundly Virgilian text” p. 159). The paper explores two aspects. First, Hardie studies the use of Virgilian intertextuality in the Psychomachia’s pattern of repeated beginnings and endings through an intratextual analysis of the structure of the allegorical epic, such as the frequent use of ring-composition. The second aspect involves typology: the Psychomachia is dominated by the Christian teleological view of history. Despite the differences,Virgilian and Biblical foreshadowings work in similar ways.   

Part four, “Horace’s Intratextual Poetics,” starts with the chapter by Chrisanthe Tsitsiou-Chelidoni, offering a biographical analysis of a large part of the Horatian oeuvre, exploring the relationship between the ancient poet’s real-world identity and his narrative ‘persona,’ with a focus on the identity of the “masks” theory, by analyzing its roots and closeness to New Criticism, structuralism, deconstruction and new historicism. Wolfgang Kofler’s paper focuses on the interactions between the different views of the author and the reader on various textual segments of two love poems from Book 2 of Horace’s Carmina (2. 4 and 2. 8). In her paper, Michèle Lowrie analyzes the “Figures of Discors and the Roman addressee in Horace Odes 3. 6,” explaining how the references to civil discord would have been well understood by all Romans (Romane is the addreessee of the ode, the ideal Roman reader) thanks to intratexual and intertextual allusions, especially historical, in Ode 3. 6. Stephen Harrison’s contribution closes the section on Horace. Through an intratextual reading, Harrison argues that the final carmina (1. 38, 2. 20 and 3. 30) of the collection of Books 1-3 of the Odes are clearly linked as a unit and Carm. 2. 20 is the middle term of the three book-finales.

The following section consists of four chapters on Ovid. Giuseppe La Bua proposes an intratextual reading of the Heroides, linking all the heroines of the single and paired letters with verbal and thematic associations. Thea S. Thorsen suggests that Heroides 18-19 represent a climax of Ovid’s poetics. In the first example, by mentioning Daedalus and Icarus, Leander has an erotic purpose: with wings made by Daedalus he would fly to Hero and make love to her and, at the same time, this evocation has a metapoetical value, fulfilling the criteria of the genre of Latin love elegy, more directly so than the Daedalus-episode in the Ars Amatoria (intratextual allusions are often from one work of an author to another work by the same author). In “Some Polyvalent Intra- and Inter-Textualities in Fasti 3,” Stephen J. Heyworth explains why Fasti is a work that lends itself well to intratextual readings, because of the timing of the composition. Originally composed in the same years as the Metamorphoses, the Fasti is a pre-exilic work, but revised during Ovid’s exile. Tristan Franklinos closes the Ovidian section with a paper on the intratextual analysis of the structure of Ovid Ex Ponto 4.

The sixth section, including chapter by Christopher Trinacty and Stavros Frangoulidis takes on topic of “Seneca: Prose and Poetry.” Trinacty’s idea is based on the open-closed dichotomy: Seneca’s corpus is divided into ‘open’ works (depending on allusions to other works by other authors) and ‘closed’ segments of text deriving their structure from internal repetitions. He uses two examples in Seneca’s corpus to defend his thesis, the Thyestes and the Naturales Quaestiones, and he analyzes the intratextual repetition of intratextual language functions in each literary genre. Frangoulidis makes the strong argument that Seneca’s Troades contains traces of Euripides’ Hecuba and Troades and especially of Iphigenia at Aulis.

Section seven on “Neronian and Flavian Intratextual Poetics” consists of four chapters based on Flavian epic (Konstan, Karakasis and Antoniadis) and on the epigrams of Martial (Henriksén). David Konstan’s essay is essentially theoretical, inspired by Sharrock’s statements in the introductory chapter. In an intratextual and intertextual reading, his paper focuses on Nero’s (panegyrical) eulogy in the opening of Lucan’s Bellum Civile. According to Konstan, the reader can easily extrapolate a panegyric to Nero from this context and read it as a separate and independent text. Karakasis’s analysis concerns the character of Caesar in Lucan’s poem. His initial positive features as a new Aeneas/Augustus are deconstructed in the narrative by links with negative anti-heroes (Achilles, Turnus, Catiline, Fabius, Oedipus) through Lucan’s intra- and intertextual poetics. Antoniadis argues that the subtext in the narration and representation of the characters in Silius’ Punica 1-2 is the philosophical treatise De Ira by Seneca. Christer Henriksén closes the seventh part with a paper on the intratextuality of Martial’s Epigrams in Book 10: there are two interconnected series of epigrams 2-9 and 10-19 (ep. 1 is introductory).

The eighth section of the volume on “Roman Prose and Encyclopedic Literature” begins with a chapter by Gesine Manuwald regarding political intratextuality in Cicero’s speeches. Manuwald’s paper is is divided into four parts which concern the different intertextual references within single speeches or groups of speeches, references to oratorical activity across speeches, speeches in letters and speeches in rhetorical treatises. The following paper by Therese Fuhrer starts from the theory of Manfred Pfister (in German ‘Informationsvergabe’) that describes the techniques of sending and receiving informations in the representation of factual occurrences in Roman historiography. Fuhrer applies her thesis to a detailed analysis of the short Fulvia sub-narrative in Sallust’s account of Catiline’s cospiracy. Ulrike Egelhaaf-Gaiser’s paper explores the various forms of intratextuality in the four commentarii of the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius that share a common theme through their interest in Saturnalian riddles.

The last paper by Richard Hunter, which comprises the book’s final section entitled “Rounding off Intratextuality: Greece and Rome,” ably closes the entire volume with an illuminating thesis: the modern intratextual approach used in Latin literature shows explicitly and implicitly that the reading practices and critical methods were already present in Ancient Greek literature.

This volume is one of the most successful of the Trends in Classics series. The book is structured effectively and with great coherence. Sharrock’s introductory and theoretical chapter on the modern approach to intratextuality is well balanced by Hunter’s final essay, which already finds theoretical and practical aspects of intratextual discussion in the Greek literary background. The conferences and volumes of the Trends in Classics series present captivating themes and encourage new, intriguing and stimulating approaches for reading and interpreting ancient literary Greek and Roman texts. Intratextuality and Latin literatureadds to the success of the series.

Authors and titles

Introduction: The Whats and Whys of Intratextuality
Part I: Intratextuality and Cognitive Approaches
1. How Do We Read a (W)hole?: Dubious First Thoughts about the Cognitive Turn. Alison Sharrock
Part II: Late Republican and Augustan Lyric Poetry and Elegy
2. Echoes and Reflections in Catullus’ Long Poems. Gail Trimble
3. Credula Spes: Tibullan Hope and the Future of Elegy. Laurel Fulkerson
4. Intratextuality and Intertextuality in the Corpus Tibullianum (3.8–18). Jacqueline Fabre-Serris
Part III: Didactic, Bucolic and Epic Poetry
5. Intratextuality and Closure: The End of Lucretius’ De rerum natura. George Kazantzidis
6. Pascite boues, summittite tauros: Cattle and Oxen in the Virgilian Corpus. Alison Keith
7. Contradictions and Doppelgangers: The Prehistory of Virgil’s Two Voices. Martin Korenjak
8. Intratextuality and the Case of Iapyx. Christine Perkell
9. Augustan and Late Antique Intratextuality: Virgil’s Aeneid and Prudentius’ Psychomachia.
Philip Hardie
Part IV: Horace’s Intratextual Poetics
10. Horace’s ‘Persona<l> Problems’: On Continuities and Discontinuities in Poetry and in Classical Scholarship. Chrysanthe Tsitsiou-Chelidoni
11. The Whole and its Parts: Interactions of Writing and Reading Strategies in Horace’s Carmina 2.4 and 2.8. Wolfgang Kofler
12. Figures of Discord and the Roman Addressee in Horace, Odes 3.6. Michèle Lowrie
13. Linking Horace’s Lyric Finales: Odes 1.38, 2.20 and 3.30. Stephen Harrison
Part V: Intratextual Ovid
14. Intratextual Readings in Ovid’s Heroides. Giuseppe La Bua
15. Intrepid Intratextuality: The Epistolary Pair of Leander and Hero (Heroides 18–19) and the End of Ovid’s Poetic Career. Thea S. Thorsen
16. Some Polyvalent Intra- and Inter-Textualities in Fasti 3. S.J. Heyworth
17. Ovid, ex Ponto 4: An Intratextually Cohesive Book. Tristan Franklinos
Part VI: Seneca: Prose and Poetry
18. Nulla res est quae non eius quo nascitur notas reddat (Nat. 3.21.2): Intertext to Intratext in Senecan Prose and Poetry. Christopher Trinacty
19. Intertextuality and Intratextuality: Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis and Seneca’s Troades. Stavros Frangoulidis
Part VII: Neronian and Flavian Intratextual Poetics
20. Praise and Flattery in the Latin Epic: A Case of Intratextuality. David Konstan
21. Lucan’s Intra/Inter-textual Poetics: Deconstructing Caesar in Lucan. Evangelos Karakasis
22. Intratextuality via Philosophy: Contextualizing ira in Silius Italicus’ Punica 1‒2. Theodore Antoniadis
23. Inside Epigram: Intratextuality in Martial’s Epigrams, Book 10. Christer Henriksén
Part VIII: Roman Prose and Encyclopedic Literature
24. ‘Political Intratextuality’ with regard to Cicero’s Speeches. Gesine Manuwald
25. On the Economy of ‘Sending and Receiving Information’ in Roman Historiography. Therese Fuhrer
26. Saturnalian Riddles for Attic Nights: Intratextual Feasting with Aulus Gellius. Ulrike Egelhaaf-Gaiser
Part IX: Rounding off Intratextuality: Greece and Rome
27. Regius urget: Hellenising Thoughts on Latin Intratextuality. Richard Hunter


[1] A. Sharrock, Intratextuality: Text, Parts and (W)holes in Theory in A. Sharrock-H. Morales, Intratextuality: Greek and Roman Textual Traditions, Oxford 2000, 1-39.

[2] H. Morales, Sense and Sententiousness in the Greek Novels in A. Sharrock-H. Morales, Intratextuality: Greek and Roman Textual Traditions,Oxford 2000, 67-88.

[3] H. Morales, Endtext in A. Sharrock-H. Morales, Intratextuality: Greek and Roman Textual Traditions, Oxford 2000, 325-330.

[4] A. Parry, The Two Voices of Virgil’s Aeneid, Arion 2, 1963, 66-80.