Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar / Uncategorized

GIS: Case Endings in Mycenaean Greek and Transfer of Information in Heliodorus’s Aethiopica

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This week at GIS we had two papers discussing a similar question from different angles: how to make sense of transmitted information, and in particular, how to decode language.

 

Our first speaker was Katie Shields, who presented on Mycenaean Greek and Hittite, two Indo-European languages attested in the late 2nd millennium BCE.  Katie’s paper was interested in further exploring the use local case endings, an aspect of Mycenaean Greek and Hittite which is not yet fully understood.  Katie opened her paper with an introduction to both Mycenaean Greek and Hittite, allowing her to illuminate interesting aspects in the history of both languages.  She then proceeded to analyse the local case endings which formed the core of her argument, by looking at both the words in question in relation to the other words found on the tablet, as well as the context in which the preserved documents were found.  Through this combination of linguistic analysis and examination of the more material aspects of the documents, Katie made a convincing case for viewing the ending –te in toponyms in -e-u as a locative ending denoting ‘place at.’

 

Our second speaker for the evening was Benedek Kruchió, who presented two new ways of reading a narrative crux which has puzzled scholars of Heliodorus’s Aethiopica.  At the end of the Aethiopica, the protagonist’s foster father Charicles arrives in Ethiopia from Delphi, where his adopted daughter has been reunited with her parents, the king and queen of Ethiopia.  Despite Charicles’s previous ignorance of his daughter’s identity, Heliodorus gives no explanation for Charicles’s apparent awareness of his daughter’s identity in the final scene of the novel.  Benedek used this supposed narrative inconsistency as his starting point for arguing that Heliodorus’s text invites its readers to fill in the interpretative gaps, in which information which is transferred from one character to another goes unreported in the text of the novel itself.  Heliodorus’s requirement that the reader make such assumptions, Benedek argued, creates interpretive freedom and consequently prompts the reader to engage in an open dialogue with the novel.

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