Cognition and Ancient Characters

A conversation with Koen De Temmerman (Ghent) and Evert van Emde Boas (Aarhus) discussing cognition and ancient characters and their 2018 volume, Characterization in Ancient Greek Literature (Brill).

Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Emotion, and Narrative

A criticism of CMT that I regularly encounter is that its universalizing tendencies efface the cultural specificity of the phenomena it purports to explain. But this is not, I think, a criticism that stands up to scrutiny.A case in point would be the ancient Greek use of various kinds of garment metaphor for a wide range of emotions, but especially shame and grief.

Blending in Pindar

The quintessentially dense ancient Greek texts of the lyric poet Pindar (ca. 518-437 BCE) cannot be conceived, performed, studied, and taught without the basic human ability to create and understand networks of blends. Blending happens whenever we unconsciously connect conceptual counterparts and integrate them, so that new meanings emerge. Identifying blends not only helps us make sense of Pindar (‘Pindar’ metonymically stands for ‘Pindar’s poems’), but also of our blending-based thinking in general

Conceptual blending and historical understanding in Polybius

Scholars often characterise Polybius’ way of writing as clunky, heavy-going and unsophisticated. I fundamentally disagree with this assessment, which reflects stereotypes and prejudices about the decline of Greek literature and style after the ‘classical’ period. In this short entry, I will show that more attention to Polybius’ style, encouraged by cognitive approaches such as conceptual blending, opens up new perspectives on how this fascinating author conceived of the process of historical understanding.