The Ancient Bibliocosm

Citation Culture in Antiquity

Matthew Wright

Professor Matthew Wright's book-in-progress is an offshoot of the larger 'quotation culture' project: it relates specifically to quotation culture as reflected in one particular type of literature and its ancient reception. The plan and approach of this book is twofold. First of all, it examines the ways in which writers, critics and others quote Greek tragedy within antiquity, including the processes through which plays are transformed, interpreted or manipulated by being quoted, and the ways in which certain plays become 'fragments'. Secondly, it examines the ways in which the fifth-century tragedians themselves actively participate in the culture of quotation by framing certain portions of their work as 'quotations'. The project focuses particularly on gnomai, maxims or nuggets of general wisdom which seem designed to be (to some extent) detachable from their dramatic setting: the book looks at the function of these gnomai both within the plays and in a wider context, including their afterlife as 'quotations' in other types of ancient text.