Word of Mouth: Fama and Its Personifications in Art and Literature from Ancient Rome to the Middle…

Hardcover | February 18, 2017

byGianni Guastella

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The concept expressed by the Roman term fama, although strictly linked to the activity of speaking, recalls a more complex form of collective communication that puts diverse information and opinions into circulation by "word of mouth", covering the spreading of rumours, expression of commonanxieties, and sharing of opinions about peers, contemporaries, or long-dead personages within both small and large communities of people. This "hearsay" method of information propagation, of chain-like transmission across a complex network of transfers of uncertain order and origin, often rapid andelusive, has been described by some ancient writers as like the flight of a winged word, provoking interesting contrasts with more recent theories that anthropologists and sociologists have produced about the same phenomenon. This volume proceeds from a brief discussion of the ancient concept to a detailed examination of the way in which fama has been personified in ancient and medieval literature and in European figurative art between the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. Commenting onexamples ranging from Virgil's Fama in Book 4 of the Aeneid to Chaucer's House of Fame, it addresses areas of anthropological, sociological, literary, and historical-artistic interest, charting the evolving depiction of fama from a truly interdisciplinary perspective. Following this theme, it isrevealed that although the most important personifications were originally created to represent the invisible but pervasive diffusion of talk which circulates information about others, these then began to give way to embodiments of the abstract idea of the glory of illustrious men. By the end of themedieval period, these two different representations, of rumour and glory, were variously combined to create the modern icon of Fame with which we are more familiar today.

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The concept expressed by the Roman term fama, although strictly linked to the activity of speaking, recalls a more complex form of collective communication that puts diverse information and opinions into circulation by "word of mouth", covering the spreading of rumours, expression of commonanxieties, and sharing of opinions about peers...

Gianni Guastella is Professor of Latin Language and Literature at the University of Siena. His research interests focus mainly on Roman theatre and its reception in the culture of the medieval and Renaissance periods. He has published widely on topics ranging from the theatre of Plautus, Archaic Latin metre, and the reception of Apulei...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 9.21 × 6.02 × 0.1 inPublished:February 18, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198724292

ISBN - 13:9780198724292

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsList of Abbreviations0. Introduction0.1 Hendrik Goltzius, Fame and Virtue (1586)0.2 Prosopon/persona0.3 Forms of Fama1. Flying Information1.1 Movement in Space1.2 Winged bodies, divine messengers1.3 Epea pteroenta: the flight of the word1.4 'Ce telegraphe est un mystere social'1.5 An uncertain point of departure, no destination1.6 Mysterious testimonies2. Lat. Fama2.1 Fama a fando dicta3. True and False3.1 In court3.2 A rumoribus, contra rumores3.3 Fama, nomen incerti4. Producers and Performers of Rumour4.1 Modern theories on rumour and gossip4.2 The multimedia transmission of information4.3 The instability of rumours4.4 Fama and rumor5. Authority5.1 Auctor5.2 Believing someone s words5.3 A curious messenger6. Giving Rumour a Body6.1 Homer, Hesiod6.2 The cult of Pheme6.3 Fama embodied6.4 Fama disembodied7. Beyond Death7.1 Fama and gloria: Cicero, Boethius, Augustine7.2 'Vana Gloria', 'Gloria Mondana'7.3 'Passan vostri trionfi e vostre pompe': Petrarch and glory8. Giving Glory a Body8.1 Figures without iconographic models: Glory and Vainglory8.2 The first images of modern Fama : the Glory of illustrious men8.3 The image of Worldly Glory8.4 From the Triumph of Gloria del popol mondano to the Triumphus Fame8.5 A composite triumphal scenario9. Contaminations9.1 Figurative contaminations9.2 Integrating Rumour and Glory10. Chaucer, House of Fame10.1 A pagan majesty10.2 Fame and Fortune: a capricious judgment10.3 Where tidings are born10.4 A playful fictional universe11. ConclusionBibliographical ReferencesIndex