Constructions of the Classical Body

James I. Porter, Editor
Distinguished international scholars examine the neglected issue of the body and its status in classical antiquity


Classical scholarship has traditionally neglected the prominence of the body in antiquity. Constructions of the Classical Body theorizes that the study of antiquity is necessarily a study of the body, and that attention to this fact can lead to a much-needed shift in the way in which classical studies are approached today. This volume aims to reestablish the relevance of the problem of the body at the perimeters of several different kinds of inquiry, and, in this way, to help open up a field of possibilities for future study.

The range covered by the essays in this volume is sweeping: from Corinthian vaseware to Athenian and Roman politics, poetry from Homer to Ovid, medical writers from the Hippocratic corpus to the diary of Aelius Aristides (second century c.e.), philosophy (Seneca, Porphyry), the Greek novel, Christian apocrypha, Ovid's medieval reception, and twentieth century film. This range is a consequence of the multidisciplinarity that any study of the body requires, and it attests to the particular richness of the body in classical antiquity and as an object for study today. The volume illustrates that body is located between traditional borders, not within them; the body dissolves traditional objects of study and joins areas usually kept apart. Retracing the fate of the body is thus a way of rendering antiquity truly strange again—it allows us to see the past afresh, with open eyes.

This volume includes essays by Carlin A. Barton, Anne Carlson, Eric Downing, Catherine Edwards, Maud W. Gleason, John Henderson, Ralph Hexter, S. C. Humphreys, Helen King, Leslie Kurke, Robert Lamberton, David S. Potter, Amy Richlin, Giulia Sissa, Maria Wyke, and Froma I. Zeitlin, along with an introduction by James I. Porter.

James I. Porter is Associate Professor of Classical Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a superb collection, one that I know will be most welcome not only in the field of classical studies, but in the libraries of all those interested in the history and historicity of the body."
    —Page duBois, University of California, San Diego
  • ". . . Porter has gathered together a remarkable group of talented authors, and the end product is a testimony to the vibrancy, imagination, and breadth of modern Classical [sic] scholarship."
    —Walter Stevenson, Univ. of Richmond
  • "The level of engagement invited by these essays is appropriate because classical antiquity retains its power to shape and justify the present. The history that will someday be written of the human body will reflect the classical past and our interpretations of it; t his volume demonstrates the seriousness of our responsibility."
    —A. A. Donahue, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, Spring 2000
  • "There's plenty to savour in the introduction and sixteen essays . . . which make up Constructions of the Classical Body. . . ."
    Greece and Rome

Product Details

  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4.
  • 408pp.
  • 5 drawings, 13 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1999
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10908-1

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  • $94.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2002
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  • 978-0-472-08779-2

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  • $36.95 U.S.