Introduction

Hapax Legomenon

Reception theory is a fresh view in the field of Classics that informs this collection of translations, essays, and satirical pieces. The examination of how the classics have influenced subsequent literature, philosophy, and art has blossomed in recent years to reveal ever more clearly how Greek and Latin literature have not only influenced the modern world, but are themselves reinterpreted in the process. When the Oresteia is translated by Tony Harrison, or Sophocles' Electra by Anne Carson, we see features of the original that were previously concealed. When Herodotus leads Ryszard Kapuscinski to view the world in a certain way (in his memoir Travels with Herodotus), or Marie Phillips portrays Apollo as a malcontented television psychic living in 21st-century London (in her novel, Gods Behaving Badly), the modern world absorbs the classical tradition and at the same time transforms it. The sheer number of contemporary performances of Greek tragedies, for example, or poetic refigurings of Greek mythology (Walcott's Omeros; Christopher Logue's War Music) testify to the vitality of the classics and the nourishment that ancient texts continue to confer on contemporary art and literature.

A variety of additional examples are collected in this 2008 edition of Hapax.

Grace Ledbetter,

Associate Professor of Classics and Philosophy