Skip to content Skip to navigation

The somatics of style: the body in ancient Greek theories of verbal art

Photo of Alyson Melzer
Stanford University
June 2020

"The Somatics of Style: The Body in Ancient Greek Theories of Verbal Art" brings to light the previously unexplored centrality of the body to conceptualizations of literary language and style in the Greco-Roman world. By focusing on the somatic terminology, metaphors, analogies, descriptions, and sensations at the heart of the theories and discussions of verbal art in Greek literary criticism in particular, I reveal that the critics creatively incorporated the experiences and aesthetics of musical performance into their treatises. Corporeality in Greek literary criticism, I argue, is the vehicle through which we can better understand how gradual, complex, and innovative the transition from oral modes of performance to written literary culture was in elite Greek circles.