Although the term Menippean satire was never used in antiquity to name a distinct literary genre (the term was coined in the sixteenth century), it has come to describe a vast body of world literature - from Erasmus and the humanists to Rabelais and Swift, from Moby Dick to Alice in Wonderland and Ulysses. The term is invoked to explain the ...
Although the term Menippean satire was never used in antiquity to name a distinct literary genre (the term was coined in the sixteenth century), it has come to describe a vast body of world literature - from Erasmus and the humanists to Rabelais and Swift, from Moby Dick to Alice in Wonderland and Ulysses. The term is invoked to explain the origins of the modern novel and to categorize forms of prose fiction that are not essentially novelistic. But until now, no book has explored the full range of ancient Menippean satire from its origins to the early middle ages. In Ancient Menippean Satire, Joel C. Relihan charts the history and development of this ancient genre. He demonstrates its unity as a Greco-Roman phenomenon, describes its different branches, and shows the continuity of the genre into late classical and early Christian times. He also discusses the theories of the genre set forth by Northrop Frye and Mikhail Bakhtin and presents a new and detailed definition that respects the particularities of classical texts. In chapters on the fragments and testimonia relevant to Menippus and Varro, Relihan shows the specific Greek origins of the genre and its transformation in Roman hands. Subsequent chapters offer readings of Seneca's Apocolocyntosis Petronius, Lucian's Necyomantia and Icaromenippus, Julian's Symposium, Martianus Capella, Fulgentius's mythologies, and Ennodius's so-called Paraenesis Didascalica. Boethius's Consolation is dealt with in the Conclusion, which looks ahead to the Menippean satires of the twelfth century. Three appendixes discuss the relations between Menippean satire and the recently discovered fragments of Greek prosimetric fiction, and offer annotatedtranslations of the text of Ennodius and the Prologue of Fulgentius's Mythologies.
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