Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
Matrices of Genre

Matrices of Genre

Authors, Canons, and Society

Edited by Mary Depew and Dirk Obbink

ISBN 9780674003385

Publication date: 12/30/2000

The literary genres given shape by the writers of classical antiquity are central to our own thinking about the various forms literature takes. Examining those genres, the essays collected here focus on the concept and role of the author and the emergence of authorship out of performance in Greece and Rome.

In a fruitful variety of ways the contributors to this volume address the questions: what generic rules were recognized and observed by the Greeks and Romans over the centuries; what competing schemes were there for classifying genres and accounting for literary change; and what role did authors play in maintaining and developing generic contexts? Their essays look at tragedy, epigram, hymns, rhapsodic poetry, history, comedy, bucolic poetry, prophecy, Augustan poetry, commentaries, didactic poetry, and works that "mix genres."

The contributors bring to this analysis a wide range of expertise; they are, in addition to the editors, Glenn W. Most, Joseph Day, Ian Rutherford, Deborah Boedeker, Eric Csapo, Marco Fantuzzi, Stephanie West, Alessandro Barchiesi, Ineke Sluiter, Don Fowler, and Stephen Hinds. The essays are drawn from a colloquium at Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies.


  • This volume consists of a collection of eleven papers on genre and generic definition in Greek and Roman literature. The contributions are divergent in both subject and approach, ranging from seldom considered, even single-instance genres, to the reception of generic traditions in Hellenistic and Roman poetry...The volume contains scholarship of a high standard with stimulating contributions both in the higher and lower genres. It can be recommended to all interested in this apparently flourishing branch of literary analysis.

    —Philip Bosman, Scholia Reviews


  • Mary Depew is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Iowa.
  • Dirk Obbink is University Lecturer in Papyrology and Greek Literature, Christ Church, Oxford.

Book Details

  • 352 pages
  • Harvard University Press