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(B)orders in Ancient Weaving and Archaic Greek Poetry

Harlizius-Klück, Ellen; Fanfani, Giovanni

This study arises from an interest in the question of how ancient weaving technology affected early Greek conceits of poetry-making and cosmic order, and how poetic composition as technē resembles the order of nature (the poem is defined as a ‘kosmos of words’). It is argued that ancient textile technology, lying at the etymological and conceptual root of a significant sample of archaic Greek terminology for poetics, generates patterns of thoughts that are relevant for the emergence of early Greek scientific and mathematical discourse. In turn, textile imagery in poetic and philosophical texts should not be considered a mere rhetorical trope. Following Hans Blumenberg, we consider metaphor and analogy rather as technological means of expressing concepts. In other words, the conceptual import of a given analogy or metaphor is not simply illustrated, but generated by the particular principles of weaving technology at the root of the ‘literal’ element in the figure. In the case of ancient weaving, that is, literary imagery seems best accessed through technology. On such premises, the paper explores the potential correspondences between a structural feature of weaving on the warp-weighted loom, namely the ordering band providing the starting border of the fabric, and the function of the cross-generic prooimion, a compositional and performative principle of orderly beginning, in a sample of archaic Greek poetry.

Published in: Giovanni Fanfani, Mary Harlow, Marie-Louise Nosch (eds) Spinning Fates and the Song of the Loom. The Use of Textiles, Clothing and Cloth Production as Metaphor, Symbol and Narrative Device in Greek and Latin Literature. Ancient Textile Series 24, Oxbow Books, Oxford & Philadelphia 2016, pp. 61-99. Ellen Harlizius-Klück's research for this paper has been supported by the M4HUMAN Project of the Gerda-Henkel-Foundation under FP7-PEOPLE-2010-COFUND. Giovanni Fanfani's research for this paper has been supported by the MOBILEX Project of Danish Council for Independent Research under FP7-PEOPLE-2012- COFUND.
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