The Mortal Divine: Callimachus and the Making of an Imperial Theology
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Park, Monica Sungahe
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CitationPark, Monica Sungahe. 2018. The Mortal Divine: Callimachus and the Making of an Imperial Theology. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation investigates the role of theological discourse in the making of the mortal divine in early Ptolemaic Alexandria by exploring the ways in which literary transcripts—particularly the text of Callimachus—complicate our understanding of the development of early Hellenistic ruler cult. This study makes two major contributions. First, I argue that we can recover part of this conversation about, and contestation over, the nature of the transition from mortal to divine by looking to high intellectual culture in Alexandria. Focusing on Callimachus as emblematic of that culture, I show how his text becomes a site of discursive convergence related to the mortal divine, and how we can excavate it to uncover different voices in contestation and engaged in various discursive modes, including Athenian critique, competitive wisdom or the agonistics of sophia, and the rhetoric of belief. Ultimately, it is argued that the sources discussed in this study represent the mortal divine as inhabiting an ontologically and culturally fraught space between gods and men. Second, in considering the interface between literary agendas and political and religious agendas, I offer a different way of thinking about the high degree of allusivity in this paradigmatic Hellenistic poet. Instead of treating Callimachus’ allusive techniques as merely a demonstration of learnedness and pure literary play, I analyze this high allusivity as embedded in a larger world of contemporary talk and discuss how it opens up a space for theological discourse to happen. In doing so, I draw loosely on the work of James C. Scott on “public” vs. “hidden transcripts” and Julia Kristeva on intertextuality.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41129185
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