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- Volume 2009, Issue sup-3, 2009
Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Supplement 3, January 2009
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Supplement 3, January 2009
Author Philip R. BosmanSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 1 –7 (2009)More Less
The importance of a cognitive field in a particular culture may be gauged from the variety and attention it is given in that culture's expressions, linguistic, artistic and otherwise. Regarding madness, the broad range of terms and expressions in English associated with the field certainly points to both prominence and complexity : insanity, derangement, delusion, craziness, frenzy, fury, rage, lunacy, being mentally disordered, impaired, disturbed or unstable, to mention some of the more frequently used words and phrases. If to that may be added the myriad of psychopathological terms for mental disorders and colloquial - often disparaging - expressions for behaviour ranging from mildly awkward to positively dangerous ('out of your mind'; 'nuts', 'off your rocker', etc.), the list goes on and on. It reveals much about our own heritage that we are willing to group such disparate phenomena into a single cognitive field, often tacitly understood as the opposite of rational or socially acceptable behaviour. In Greco-Roman literature, the theme - if indeed one is bold (deluded?) enough to retroject all modern associations into ancient times under a single umbrella term - occurs in manifold shapes and sizes. In truth, the ancient Greek cognitive mapping does not overlap in all respects with our own understanding of the term, which appears to be dominated by metaphorical and medical uses. To mention but one difference : madness in the Greco-Roman world sometimes implied a form of heightened ability to the benefit of society, like the forms of divine madness mentioned by Plato or the 'battle frenzy' of the Homeric Diomedes or Hector on a slaughtering rampage.
Author C.E. ChandlerSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 8 –18 (2009)More Less
It has become something of a cliché that there is not much evidence for madness in Homer. Hershkowitz's study has revealed that even the little there is should be carefully distinguished from madness as conceived in later Roman epic. And yet, an examination of madness in the Iliad and Odyssey, since they constitute perhaps our earliest texts, is an essential precursor to any synthetic treatment of the topic in later Greek literature.
This paper will attempt a limited investigation into madness in these two poems by focusing on just one linguistic term, the verb mainomai and its derivatives. What I shall suggest is that careful scrutiny of the contexts in which this verb is employed, encourages a need to reconsider our standard assumptions as to the semasiology of this verb. While I am in broad agreement with Hershkowitz's point of view on this subject, my own conclusions differ from hers in some respects.
Author M. LambertSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 19 –35 (2009)More Less
Possessed by a spirit or spirits, groups of women accompanied by drums and song, roam the countryside, falling upon villages, some demanding dog's flesh as sacrifices. Others begin to cry, beating themselves on the chests with their fists, their limbs and fingers numb, their muscles twitching and trembling; they growl and roar, oblivious to their surroundings and then fall into unconsciousness. On occasion, dressed in red 'handkerchiefs', they dance all night long, sometimes letting their garments fall, dancing in the nude until the early morning, terrorising the villagers. To get rid of them, the villagers give them presents and sacrifice animals (usually goats), thus appeasing the angry spirits within.
This account is not of bacchantes possessed by Dionysus, falling upon the villages on the lower slopes of Mount Kithairon as the first messenger in Euripides's Bacchae reports (751-54), but a reconstructed composite account from colonial records, of groups of Zulu women in what was known as Zululand during the period 1894-1914.2 These women, known as amandiki after the kind of spirit possession manifested (indiki, 'possession'), surface in a number of British colonial discourses (legal, religious, medical and bureaucratic) which construct their possession as 'madness' or 'witchcraft', depending on the epistemology of the writer.
Author Adrienne AranitaSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 36 –51 (2009)More Less
The bare bones of the mutiny at Sucro are set forth in Polybius 11.25-30. Troops stationed at Sucro serve as a garrison to protect tribes north of the Ebro. When Scipio falls ill and the soldiers are not promptly paid, sedition breaks out in the Roman camp. While Scipio returns to health, he orders his officers to publicly collect money from prior contributions for the soldiers' pay. On the day of payment, the thirty-five leaders of the mutiny are led to believe that they will be attending a dinner party and Scipio's legion are told that they will be marching against Indibilis. After supper, the thirty-five are arrested and brought by the tribunes to the marketplace. Scipio appears before his men, who are astounded by his healthful appearance. In his speech, he scolds the soldiers and attributes the spread of the mutiny to the vicissitudes of a multitude. The thirty-five mutineers are then brought before the rest of the army, bound and naked, to be scourged and beheaded. Those watching are dumbfounded and after the bodies are dragged through the crowd, the rest of the Roman army take oaths of allegiance. Polybius credits Scipio with having nipped danger in the bud.
The narrative of Livy 28 corresponds largely with Polybius's account. In particular, Livy also treats the mutiny at Sucro as a result of a plague of mental disorder. The language he uses, however, reminds more of that used by Sallust and Cicero in their depictions of Catiline and his fellow conspirators, even though Livy would probably not have been directly influenced by these authors. The link between mutiny and madness appears to have become a topos, as in Tacitus's recollections of the Pannonian and German mutinies of AD 14.1 The object of this paper is to demonstrate that Livy deliberately treats the events at Sucro as a manifestation of contagious madness, employing imagery of causes, contagion and cure, in order to provide motivation for both the behaviour of the soldiers and their mild treatment by Scipio when compared to similar situations in Roman military history.
Author D.B. SaddingtonSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 53 –68 (2009)More Less
Royal warriors and ordinary generals have been celebrated throughout history, especially by splendid statuary. But it was not until the 20th century that state and civic honour came to be accorded to the common soldier on a large scale. Such memorialising is exemplified by the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (significantly not called the Grave of an Unknown Soldier) in Westminster Abbey in London. More prosaic is a monument to 3719 men of the Middlesex and Scottish Regiments who fell in the First World War, erected by the former London and North Western Railway outside Euston Station. Four figures stand round a plinth. Though armed, they are shown in their greatcoats and their heads are bowed in grief.
A modest South African example may be cited, a memorial to the dead of the South African Scottish and Transvaal Scottish Regiments sited on a hill in Parktown, a suburb of Johannesburg. It shows a soldier in Scottish regalia. Its history is of some interest. It was designed by a Scot who had emigrated to South Africa and served in the regiment. Another member of the regiment wrote to a sculptor in Aberdeen, persuading him to carve the monument free in honour of the Scots in the regiment who had been killed in the First World War. Scottish Rail was persuaded to transport the monument free to Southampton. It is inscribed with a suitable inscription.
Author Wakefield FosterSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 69 –83 (2009)More Less
Catullus 63, the Attis poem, examines madness from two very different viewpoints : from that of myth, where chronological distance and artistic representation render Attis's behaviour palatable in the guise of religious devotion, and from that of contemporary Greco-Roman reality, from which perspective his insane actions must have threatened even the most psychologically durable Roman males. Carmen 63's power derives in large part from its juxtaposition of myth and reality, religious zeal and insanity. Features of traditional epic serve to highlight the strong contrast between a potentially heroic figure of epic and the epicene Attis of myth and religious cult. Initially, Catullus's Attis, presumably the religious fanatic of eastern legend, castrates himself as an offering to the goddess Cybele. However, midway through the poem, he suddenly reveals himself as a Greek youth (58-60 and 64), a boy who inexplicably has left home and homeland for the wilderness of Phrygian Asia Minor, willingly exchanging a comfortable upper-class lifestyle for a physical and psychological nightmare. This revelation casts a terrifying light on the predicament of the mythic Attis, the Attises of Roman cult, and perhaps of any Greek or, by implication, Roman youth on the threshold of adulthood. Catullus restructures, adds and omits elements from the mythic tradition to create a poem of extraordinary vitality and energy. This paper discusses how the poet incorporates features of traditional Homeric-style epic in order to parody the Attis of myth, juxtaposing the epic caricature with a realistic image of any Greek or Roman youth.
Furor, dementia, rabies : social displacement, madness and religion in the metamorphoses of ApuleiusAuthor J.L. HiltonSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 84 –105 (2009)More Less
The question is raised in Vivian whether a slave who, from time to time, tosses his head about among religious fanatics and makes some pronouncements, is nonetheless to be regarded as healthy. Vivian says that he is; for he says that we should still regard as sane those with mental defects; otherwise, he proceeds, the position would be reached that on this sort of ground, we would deny that slaves are healthy without limit, for example, because he is frivolous, superstitious, quick-tempered, obstinate, or has some other flaw of mind. The undertaking relates to physical, not mental health. Still, says Vivian, it does happen that a physical defect affects the mind also and makes the slave thereby defective; just as happens in the case of a lunatic, because his madness comes about as a result of a fever. What then? If the mental defect be such that it ought to be taken up by the vendor and if the vendor did not say anything, although he knew of it, he will be liable to an action on the purchase.
Author Glenda McDonaldSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 106 –129 (2009)More Less
Madness, or the process of becoming mad, is a common subject in ancient literature. Examples and discussions of mad people can be found in tragedy, history and even philosophical works. For the most part, the madness presented in these works is explained as being of divine origin : the gods inflict the madness upon a person either as punishment for some blasphemous action, or as a gift, in the form of philosophical or literary inspiration. We therefore see heroes such as Orestes and Hercules go mad at the hands of an offended goddess, while Socrates tells Phaedrus that 'the greatest of good things come to us through madness, when it is given by divine gift.'
Source: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2009, pp 130 –140 (2009)More Less
Mental illness was the subject of significant attention during the Greco-Roman era, but within two distinct groups : literary and philosophical texts on the one hand, and medical writings on the other. While there were many similarities in the descriptions of these two groups, the most prominent difference was that from the 5th century BC physicians ascribed illness almost exclusively to biological-organic causes, while literature consistently held it to be of supernatural origin and in particular a result of divine intervention.
From a modern medical perspective, the precise definition and classification of mental illness remain an extremely challenging problem, inextricably interwoven over the centuries with cultural, religious and educational views. Feder suggests that psychosis (the most advanced psychiatric disorder) should be defined as a condition in which uncontrollable processes overcome voluntary action to such an extent that logical thought, emotions and actions become confused and inappropriate as judged by normal, generally-accepted standards. Mental illness could then be seen as comprising a continuum of conditions ranging from such total disassociation from reality to a completely compos mentis state, nevertheless marked by minor derangement(s).