Cite and Sound: The Prosaics of Quotation in the Ancient Novel


  • Stephen Nimis


This article discusses three examples of the way that ancient novels mobilize the resources of performance traditions to create the particular effects sought for by the novelists, an analysis that is part of a ‘prosaics’ of the ancient novel.  Cases of writing and reading a letter, a story within a story, and ec-phrasis reveal different aspects of our novelists’ strategies for exploring the tension between public and private forms of discourse.  A genre that is, as Bakhtin notes, younger than writing, the novel is especially suited to conflating voices and positions in respect to the organizing position of a reader.

STEPHEN NIMIS is Professor of Classics at Miami University.  His work on narrative include a book on the epic, Narrative Semiotics in the Epic Tradition (1987), and articles on narratological issues in the ancient novel (‘The Prosaics of the Ancient Novel,’ ‘Memory and Description in the Ancient Novel,’ ‘The Sense of Open-endedness in the Ancient Novel’).