The fundamental gesture of weaving in The Craft of Zeus is the interlacing of warp and woof described by Plato in The Statesman—an interweaving signifying the union of opposites. From rituals symbolizing—even fabricating—the cohesion of society to those proposed by oracles as a means of propitiating fortune; from the erotic and marital significance of weaving and the woven robe to the use of weaving as a figure for language and the fabric of the text, this lively and lucid book defines the logic of one of the central concepts in Greek and Roman thought—a concept that has persisted, woof and warp crossing again and again, as the fabric of human history has unfolded.
[An] elegant exploration… This is a constantly challenging and entertaining little book… [It] sheds new light on old texts and explores important areas of ancient mentalities in ways which enliven and stimulate.
Revealing Antiquity, a series edited by Glen Bowersock for Harvard University Press, is winning a distinctive niche for itself in the world of classical studies… The series as a whole has set…high standards for provocative and beautifully produced books, which deploy stimulating and complex material, the product of both innovative methodological insight, and a flair for refocusing on the previously marginalized. What is more, each is intelligently framed to make its arguments accessible to a wide audience and to interests outside classics… The Craft of Zeus is similarly an attractively and thoughtfully produced volume, with a distinctive methodological concern and an eye for the misplaced margin and the surprising connection… [The authors] aim not at an exhaustive coverage of the language, images and tales of weaving, but at a more essayistic approach that sets out to exemplify not merely the pervasiveness of the idea of weaving in classical culture but also a particular sense of what might be meant by a myth of weaving… In sum, the somewhat surprising coupling of the vast solidity of Scheid’s work on the Arval Brethren with the more mercurial leptotes of Svenbro produces a stimulating brief set of interconnected essays, whose general frame encourages a deeper awareness of the normative depth of every use of the vocabulary, imagery or tales of weaving and fabrics.
This subtle and thought-provoking book examines the network of associations which, Scheid and Svenbro believe, surrounded the process of weaving and the idea of fabric in antiquity… I found this a stimulating and illuminating book, written in a mercifully clear and accessible style, very well translated into English by Carol Volk.
This lively and well-written work…because of its wide range of illustrative evidence, should find a large audience among classicists and anyone interested in social custom and etymology and is recommended to teachers and graduate students.
- 240 pages
- 5-1/4 x 8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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