Book Review: Fama in the Classical Tradition: Philip Hardie, Rumour and Renown: Representations of Fama in Western LiteratureThe Expository Times

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Authors
J. Heath
Year
2014
DOI
10.1177/0014524613510831f
Subject
Religious studies

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352 The Expository Times 125(7)

Green also highlights the historical challenges of addressing the relationship between Christian

Scripture and ethics. He explains that Christian interpreters throughout history have often addressed ethical questions from Scripture by overly harmonizing biblical voices. This volume aims to offer its readers answers to difficult questions without dodging the most challenging of issues.

DSe then provides three additional introductory sections dealing with larger questions surrounding biblical ethics. Allen verhey first handles ‘ethics in Scripture,’ defining ethics as ‘disciplined reflection concerning moral conduct and character.’ He adds, ‘In Scripture, such reflection is always disciplined by convictions about God’s will and way’ (p. 5). verhey takes six pages to overview ethical approaches to Torah, the

Prophets, Wisdom, the Gospels, Paul, and the later

New Testament writings.

Charles Cosgrove writes the volume’s next introductory section, entitled ‘Scripture in ethics:

A History’ (pp. 13–25). Cosgrove tours the particular ethical approaches and concerns of believers in the first century, the Patristic period, the

Medieval period, the Reformation, and the

Modern/Postmodern era. Cosgrove’s survey aims to illustrate the complexity of the relationship between Christian Scripture and ethics. He also shows how varied are the conceptions of biblical authority, which is fundamental to modern debate.

In the final introductory section, Bruce Birch’s ‘Scripture in ethics: Methodological Issues’ addresses the current state of ethical discussion in the life of individual Christians. That is, Birch contends that Christians use untested methods for drawing ethical conclusions from Scripture. He sets out to raise issues of perspective and methodological practice to help believers be more ‘self-conscious’ as they relate the Bible to their moral lives.

One typical article featured in this volume is

Michael Gorman’s on ‘Abortion.’ Gorman evenhandedly covers the ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ sides in the debate. He helpfully notes the main arguments of each and also includes common responses to these arguments. In the end, Gorman draws upon the opposition of early Jewish and

Christian communities to abortion and discusses the non-canonical texts that clearly attest to this stance.

DSe is arranged alphabetically and, as with the above article, lives up to the goal(s) stated in the introductory matter. Treatments of stated topics seems fair and considers the complexity of the issues addressed. The wide range of topics includes: capitalism, artificial intelligence, ethics in the Additions to Daniel and esther, concubinage, taxation, urbanization, ethics in the Dead

Sea Scrolls, quality of life, reproductive technology, loans, Just-War Theory, individualism, hospice, and ecological ethics. The volume is recommended either as a starting place for further research or a ‘one-stop’ treatment on Christian ethics for pastors and lay people.

MARK BATlUCK

School of Divinity, University of edinburgh

FAmA in tHe clAssicAl trAdition

Philip Hardie, Rumour and Renown:

Representations of Fama in Western Literature (Cambridge Classical Studies; Cambridge: CUP, 2012. $180.00. pp. xii + 693. ISBN: 978-0-52162088-8).

This monumental tome does more than merely distil and deliver insights into the workings of fama; it takes the reader on a gripping journey through the highways and byways of her literary (and eventually artistic) representation. Her character, her power, her stable and shifting characteristics, are encountered from close to the sources, through a web of words that straddles representation and reality. This is an eloquent book that shows, not just tells, its conclusions. If the presentation of material is slightly sprawling, this is because it shows even more than it can possibly conclude, and it respects the instability of its subject without overly-tidying it. Its magisterial quality lies in its combination of close literary readings with a keen attentiveness to the systematic, historical and literary relationships between different depictions of fama. Furthermore, its chosen topic is one of extraordinary, and neglected, significance. Fama is the latin word from which we derive ‘fame’, but in latin it includes ‘rumour’, ‘report’ and ‘tradition’. All these at Bobst Library, New York University on May 11, 2015ext.sagepub.comDownloaded from

Book Reviews 353 are things that are said (fari – to speak). Native latin speakers liked to relate it to fatum – ‘that which has been said’, indeed, the pronouncement of ‘fate’. Hardie’s substantial opening chapter gives the fullest abstract analysis of fama in a book that is otherwise dedicated to careful case studies. He argues that the representation of fama is structured around contrasting pairs, of which he lists seventeen principal categories, some of which have subdivisions as well. They include things like ‘fame vs. blame’; ‘fame vs. shame’; ‘fate vs. fama’; ‘one vs. many’; ‘fama-as-fame’ vs. fama-as-rumour or –gossip’; ‘facta and fama’. He draws attention to the close relationship between concern with fama and concern with the self; he highlights critiques of fama, and observes that fama episodes in literature tend to organise themselves into plots, with opening and closural sequences.

Author of already classic books on vergil (as well as on Ovid and lucretius), Hardie’s interest in fama focuses on vergil’s personification of her, together with her antecedents and descendants. vergil’s monstrous figure is small at first, but soon raises herself to the breezes; she walks on the ground, and hides her head in the clouds. She is a monstrum horrendum, huge, who has as many feathers on her body as she has watchful eyes beneath; even so many are her tongues; the same number of mouths make noise; just so many ears she pricks up (Aeneid 4.173-97). She is the most elaborate and developed personification allegory in the Aeneid, and Hardie argues that far from being a mere ‘excrescence’ of ornamentation, she is central to the business of the epic poet, whose own work is in words. (The same, by an implication never stated, might be said of her pertinence to the literary critic and writer of books.)