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Masters Degrees (Mind, Culture and Society)

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    A commentary on selected elegies of Propertius.
    (1984) Lambert, Michael.
    Standard commentaries on the elegies of Propertius tend either to ignore or to pay curt lip service to literary criticism. Linguistic and textual problems are often discussed, translations of difficult passages and explanations of logical transitions are sometimes offered, parallel passages are frequently cited, allusions and exempla are usually explained and occasional reference is made to metrical and stylistic devices. The possible background situations to the elegies are often ignored or inadequately explored; exempla are rarely interpreted within the context of the poem as a whole, the rich resonance of Propertius' style, language and imagery is hardly ever appreciated and the technique of line-by-line commentary adopted by all standard commentaries tends to dismantle the poem into a number of component parts, a process which often obscures the overall 'message' or point of the poem and blunts its impact. Consequently, I have chosen the running commentary format for this thesis, in the belief that this format (with extensive use of footnotes) more adequately enables the literary critic to interpret the multi-faceted complexity of Propertius' elegies without destroying the poem's coherence or losing sight of its overall point. Introductory essays are provided before each commentary: these deal with major problems raised by the poem, discuss other critical opinions without paying too much attention to the more lunatic theories, provide a general estimate of the poem and prepare the way for the running commentaries, which offer a detailed appreciation of the elegy. Five elegies (1.2; 1.20; 2.2; 2.26A; 2.29A) have been selected for literary analysis. Each of these poems is characterised by a complex and varied use of mythology, and I have attempted to demonstrate that the exempla are not merely decorative baubles designed to show off the poet's doctrina but are an integral part of the poem, reflecting the poem's central themes and issues. Furthermore, all the elegies reveal Propertius' imaginative, sophisticated, elegant, versatile and often witty approach to love. For the purpose of this thesis, I have used the text of W.A. Camps (Cambridge, Book I 1961, Book II 1967). Textual problems have not been ignored but such are their number and complexity in Propertius that I decided that detailed textual criticism was beyond the scope of this commentary. In addition to this, because of the highly subjective and often controversial nature of some aspects of literary criticism, I have frequently used tentative expressions such as 'might', 'perhaps' and 'seems'. Such expressions also avoid the pitfalls of the historical/documentary fallacy.
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    A brief comparative study of the Tetrabiblos of Claudius Ptolemy and the Vedic Surya Siddhanta.
    (2005) Ramluckan, Trishana.; Hilton, John Laurence.
    The Ancient Indians and Greeks had similar beliefs in the concepts of magic, superstition, and astrology. First I will look briefly at the beliefs of the ancient Greeks and the main astrological text- the Tetrabiblos of Claudius Ptolemy. Ptolemy moves away from the scientific account that he provides us in his Almagest, to defining astrology as an art acquired from the observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies. The main argument however is based on the fact that Ptolemy uses an almost apologetic tone in his defence of the Tetrabiblos. Whereas the ancient Indians appeared to be strong believers in astrology, the ancient Greeks always sought to justify it in terms of science. To analyse this concept in depth I will provide a comparative study of both these belief systems. But whereas the Greeks distinguished astrology from astronomy, in the Vedic tradition astrology consisted of observable science as well as mythological and magical elements. Some consideration must therefore be given to astronomical aspects of this tradition in drawing a comparison between the two. Astrology was prevalent in ancient India a long time prior to the writing of the Surya Siddhanta or any other astronomical text. The Surya Siddhanta is often held to be the main text on Indian astronomy as it tries to address the reasons why certain religious practices were performed at those specific times. However, much information can also be obtained from the verses of the Rig Veda, a religious text that formed the basis of Indian astrology. This mini-dissertation will first discuss the Surya Siddhanta and its relationship to the more 'mythological' Rig Veda. In order to reach a conclusion I will look specifically at the issue of the belief in individual human difference and fate and destiny in these two cultures.
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    Honour and revenge : a study of the role of honour in Euripides' Medea and Hippolytus with reference to a selection of contemporary societies.
    (1998) Barrett, Deborah.; Lambert, Michael.
    My purpose in this study is twofold. Firstly, I intend to examine the existence of honour in Greek society by an analysis of its presentation in works of Greek literature. In order to achieve this, I shall first examine the values of the Homeric, heroic society so that a picture of the code of honour that was used in those times, might be established. This code of honour provided the foundation upon which later honourable behaviour was based and from which it grew; it is, therefore, a necessary addition in a study such as this. Then, I shall proceed to a study of Euripides' Medea and Hippolytus, two plays that firmly incorporate the motif of honour and revenge. Secondly, I intend to examine a few examples of modern societies. The purpose of this is to ascertain whether any relationship between archaic, classical and contemporary cultures can be established. Shared values and beliefs will be examined in order to determine any possible similarities between cultures and societies that are chronologically separated by hundreds of years.
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    Ambivalent goddesses in patriarchies : a comparative study of Hekate in ancient Greek and Roman religion, and Kali in contemporary Hinduism.
    (2011) Behari, Jerusha.; Lambert, Michael.
    The objective of this dissertation is to demonstrate that the ancient Greek and Roman goddess Hekate, and the goddess Kali in contemporary Hinduism, as revealed in literature from the respective cultures, removed from each other by time and geography, are constructs of the male imagination, resulting in the reinforcing of stereotypes about the dangers of women in power, and demonstrating that women are irrational, lustful, deceitful, close to nature, and inherently lawless. This dissertation aims to show that Hekate and Kali can be re-envisioned as challenging these stereotypes, and can be re-interpreted as positive role-models for women in their respective cultures. To situate this research within a scholarly tradition, the dissertation begins with an overview of research into the supposed existence of prehistoric matriarchal cultures, where the supreme mother goddess who gave birth to the universe was apparently venerated. This is based largely on prehistoric art and interpretations of symbols with the help of secondary source material. Then this dissertation aims to trace the evolution of Hekate from her origins in Greek literature as a generous and benign, yet potent goddess to a dangerous, chthonic deity of the Roman world associated with black magic, the crossroads, demons and the restless dead. This will be done by a thorough examination of selected ancient Greek and Latin sources in chronological order. Kali’s character and function in Hinduism will be determined through an in-depth analysis of Hindu scriptures written in Sanskrit, as well as by investigating devotional hymns written to her by poets during the 18th and 19th centuries CE. These Sanskrit and Hindi sources highlight Kali as a terrible and unruly manifestation of Durga or Parvati’s wrath while also emphasising her maternal qualities. Artistic representations of Hekate and Kali will also be examined. A comparison between the two goddesses and their roles within their respective cultural and religious systems will be undertaken in order to deduce why such goddesses were deemed necessary within patriarchal cultures. Special reference will be made to the reclamation of Hekate and Kali by feminists today as religious role-models for women over traditional role-models such as Sita, and the Virgin Mary. This dissertation seeks to show that whereas goddesses have been alive and well in Hinduism for thousands of years, Classical deities are far from dead, and are at present experiencing a revival and reinterpretation so as to cater for new forms of spirituality. It seeks to examine whether goddesses who have been rebellious in their patriarchal cultural systems are stereotypic representations or whether they can actually empower and make a difference to women.
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    The future in the past: belief in magical divination and other methods of prophecy among the archaic and classical Greeks and among the Zulu of South Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
    (2003) Kirby-Hirst, Mark Anthony.; Hilton, John Laurence.
    Magic and the supernatural have always been fascinating topics for investigation, none more so than the belief in prophecy. Actually being able to predict future occurrences, sometimes long before they take place, is certainly a desirable ability, and so naturally it was something that was much sought after in ancient Greece and amongst the Zulu people of South Africa. This is the domain of this dissertationbelief in the power of divination and how this belief could appear to be interrelated between two distinct peoples who are separated not only by the passage of time and their geographical locations, but also by socio-economic changes like industrialization and globalisation. The beliefs of both societies in this particular area are sometimes strikingly similar, especially in how each group understood such esoteric notions as the human soul and the afterlife or underworld. The function of magic in these cultures is also of -importance, since divination is almost always classed as a magical activity. The relative closeness to each other of their metaphysical knowledge allows a closer study of the figure of the diviner or prophet, more specifically who it was that could become a diviner and the reasons for this 'calling'. Several examples like Teiresias, the blind seer, are also useful in demonstrating certain beliefs and patterns. The major part of this dissertation deals with certain ritual practices of diviniilg. Although there exist many variations on a theme, the most important forms studied here are dreams, oracles, oionomancy (divining by understanding the song or flight of birds) and necromancy' (divining with the aid of the spirits of the dead). The method of divining by studying one's dreams is a universal constant and seems to take place in all cultures, making the practice useful for the purposes of comparative study. In terms of oracles, I contend that oracular divination is not a uniquely ancient fonn,but can be clearly seen in certain elements of the practice of Zulu divining, especially in the work of the abemilozi (diviners working with familiar spirits) Because of these similarities it is quite difficult to maintain that oracular divination· as occurred in ancient Greece, is not also practiced among the Zulu to some extent. Birds have always held a certain fascination for people and so it is not surprising that they are also used for divining. For the Greeks they could herald the favour of the gods, while the Zulu made use of them mostly for foretelling changes in the weather. Finally, necromancy because of its connection with ghosts and the dead was often frowned upon, but for both the Greeks and the Zulu it was one of the most powerful methods of divining because it was the spirits, who had already crossed to the other side and so were believed to have access to supernatural knowledge, that were thought to be able to answer the questions posed by the diviner. Most importantly I conclude that there is an indication that the souls of these two peoples were close to each other. The beliefs and the manner in which they go about establishing, using and confirming them are much the same for the ancient Greeks and the Zulu, despite the fact that they are separated by time, space and socio-economic context. In all, the only real difference is that the Greeks came to later explore science as another knowledge system. For the Zulu, one system was enough.
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    From marriage comes virgin flesh : a comparison between classical male and Christian male perceptions of female sexuality with the advent of Christianity in the Roman Empire in the first four centuries AD.
    (2002) Haskins, Susan Louise.; Hilton, John Laurence.
    From the first to the fourth century AD, male perceptions of female sexuality underwent a radical change with the advent of Christianity. This thesis is an investigation into classical male and Christian male perceptions of female sexuality, to determine the manner and extent to which this change in perceptions took place. The investigation will be two-fold, studying both the laws that established these perceptions, as well as representations of female sexuality within specific, subjective male-authored texts. A study of the marriage legislation of Augustus and a male writer of the early Empire, Apuleius, shows an underlying pattern of thought, or paradigm, of female sexuality among classical males. Female sexuality was perceived as existing for the sole purpose of procreation, and males in positions of authority thought that it needed to be under male control in order to ensure acceptable sexual behaviour. They believed this would be best achieved by situating it under the authority of the family. With the advent of Christianity, however, a new competing paradigm on female sexuality emerged, which challenged the perceptions of men of the classical era. The church fathers spurned the classical view of female sexuality by instead advocating lifelong celibacy. They too, believed female sexuality had to be controlled, but they placed it under the authority of the church, and outside the family. Since the basis of the classical and Christian patterns of thought differed so markedly, especially when the Christian paradigm was first being formulated in the second century, it was inevitable that they would come into " conflict. Advocates of the classical paradigm tried to suppress Christianity by persecuting its supporters. Some Christian women became victims of this conflict. This thesis will also include an example of this conflict - the martyrdom of the female Christian Perpetua, who left a record of her persecution in the form of a diary. The conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity in the fourth century brought about the end of the conflict ana a victory for the Christian paradigm. The church fathers suggest that the shift from classical to Christian was total and complete. However, closer examination of Constantine's legislation and the work of the influential church father Jerome shows that while this shift was complete in theory, it did not extend very far into social and legal practice. Although the Christian ideals of the church fathers were a major component of thenew paradigm, it also came to be composed of classical notions - now motivated by Christian thought - that were held by Constantine and the upper classes. It was these classical notions that shaped the social reality of life in the fourth century AD. The nature and extent of the paradigm shift was therefore radical and far-reaching in theory, but not in practice.
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    The many faces of Cleopatra : from propaganda to myth.
    (2003) Hardman, Naomi Susan.; Lambert, Michael.
    Few women of antiquity have gripped the public imagination as Cleopatra has. For centuries, she has inspired playwrights, poets, artists and film-makers, with the result that she and Antony are arguably history's most famous lovers. However, I have not yet encountered a study which discusses, in one work, the multiple constructions of Cleopatra across the range of genres in which she has been represented. Certainly, many books and articles are devoted to revealing how Cleopatra has been constructed in one or other specific genre, but it seems as though no attempts have been made to portray, in juxtaposition to one another, the many faces of Cleopatra. This dissertation seeks to do just that. Although I could not possibly include a discussion ofevery genre in which Cleopatra has been constructed, I have chosen six areas for study: ancient Greek biography (using Plutarch's Life ofAntony); the poetry of the Augustan poets: Vergil (the Aeneid), Horace (Ode 1.37) and Propertius (Elegies 3.11); Shakespearean tragedy (Antony and Cleopatra); art (numismatics and ancient sculpture); film (Joseph Mankiewicz's Cleopatra), and, briefly, Africanist historiography. I have chosen these areas because each offers such diverse constructions of Cleopatra that one begins to appreciate how historiography, propaganda and representation have contributed to the shaping ofthe Cleopatra myth, coloured by the ideology ofthe age in which she has been interpreted afresh. Current Africanist appropriations ofCleopatra suggest that historiography is never neutral: race and gender often intersect to create 'historical' identities.
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    Against evil : a comparative study of ancient Greek and contemporary Zulu protective magic.
    (2009) Mackenzie, Cullen Guy Mansfield.; Lambert, Michael.
    In the study of ‘magic’, whether in the Late Antique world of the Mediterranean or contemporary South Africa, there exists a lacuna in the understanding of conceptions of ‘evil’. This dissertation attempts to fill this lacuna through the use of comparison, comparing ancient Greek conceptions of evil as contained in a selection of six amulets from the third and fourth centuries of the Common Era, written in Greek, with conceptions obtained through interviews with contemporary isiZulu-speakers in KwaZulu-Natal. It begins with the Greek material, teasing out the complex intersecting discourses used in a search for protection from evil through in-depth textual analysis, and then moves on to a similar analysis of the oral ‘texts’ of the Zulu respondents. The way in which these two sets of material interacts is reliant on the fact that the interrogation of attitudes and conceptions in the Zulu material enables a fuller elucidation of the ‘voiceless’ popular discourses underlying the Greek texts. Moving on from analysis of each set of material in relative isolation, the dissertation embarks on a comparison of the various discourses, examining the varying thought-patterns which reflect a broader social context and which are in turn creative of that context. These ‘popular’ voices are then situated in the broader ‘grand narratives’ of their historical context, enabling a further elucidation of the way in which intellectual or codified discourses around the nature of evil intersect with the voices of individuals grappling with them. In a reflection on the nature of the comparative endeavour, the utility of comparison is further highlighted as the means to achieve a greater understanding of both the distant past and the immediate present.