1st Edition

Sound and the Ancient Senses

Edited By Shane Butler, Sarah Nooter Copyright 2019
    300 Pages
    by Routledge

    300 Pages
    by Routledge

    Sound leaves no ruins and no residues, even though it is experienced constantly. It is ubiquitous but fleeting. Even silence has sound, even absence resonates. Sound and the Ancient Senses aims to hear the lost sounds of antiquity, from the sounds of the human body to those of the gods, from the bathhouse to the Forum, from the chirp of a cicada to the music of the spheres.

    Sound plays so great a role in shaping our environments as to make it a crucial sounding board for thinking about space and ecology, emotions and experience, mortality and the divine, orality and textuality, and the self and its connection to others. From antiquity to the present day, poets and philosophers have strained to hear the ways that sounds structure our world and identities.

    This volume looks at theories and practices of hearing and producing sounds in ritual contexts, medicine, mourning, music, poetry, drama, erotics, philosophy, rhetoric, linguistics, vocality, and on the page, and shows how ancient ideas of sound still shape how and what we hear today. As the first comprehensive introduction to the soundscapes of antiquity, this volume makes a significant contribution to the burgeoning fields of sound and voice studies and is the final volume of the series, The Senses in Antiquity.

    List of figures and audio

    List of contributors


    Introduction: Sounding Hearing

    Shane Butler and Sarah Nooter


    Part I. Ancient Soundscapes

    1. The Sound of the Sacred

    Timothy Power

    2. Hearing Ancient Sounds Through Modern Ears

    Armand D’Angour

    3. Sounding Out Public Space in Late Republican Rome

    Erika Holter, Susanne Muth, and Sebastian Schwesinger

    4. Vocal Expression in Roman Mourning

    Valerie Hope


    Part II. Theories of Sound

    5. Sound: An Aristotelian Perspective

    Stephen Kidd

    6. Greek Acoustic Theory: Simple and complex sounds

    Andrew Barker

    7. The Soundscape of Ancient Greek Healing

    Colin Webster

    8. Lucretius on Sound

    Pamela Zinn


    Part III. Philology and Sound

    9. Gods and Vowels

    Joshua T. Katz

    10. The Song of the Sirens Between Sound and Sense

    Silvia Montiglio

    11. Auditory Philology

    Sean Gurd

    12. Sounds of the Stage

    Sarah Nooter

    13. The Erogenous Ear

    Pauline LeVen

    14. Principles of Sound Reading

    Shane Butler





    Shane Butler is Nancy H. and Robert E. Hall Professor in the Humanities and Professor and Chair of Classics at Johns Hopkins University, USA. He is the author, most recently, of The Ancient Phonograph (2015), and editor of Deep Classics: Rethinking Classical Reception (2016). He is also co-editor, with Mark Bradley, of this series, as well as being co-editor, with Alex Purves, of its first volume, Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses (2013).

    Sarah Nooter is Associate Professor of Classics, and of Theater and Performance Studies, at the University of Chicago, USA. She is the author of When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy (2012) and The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (2017).

    "A superb guide to the burgeoning field of sound studies and a fitting capstone to the hugely successful series, The Senses in Antiquity. The range covered is as wide as classical antiquity itself: from embodied, urban, and literary soundscapes to noises emitted by objects to animal cries and intelligible voices to numinous and cosmic echoes, all of this at various pitches and decibel levels, likewise running from the sound of silence to silencing sounds. Antiquity will never sound the same again." - James Porter, University of California, Berkeley, USA


    "The volume will be important to scholars and students of the ancient senses, especially those that have been following this series and those with special interests in the acoustical past... the cumulative effect of the volume is quite dazzling as it amplifies the sonorous registers of our textual remains and recovers the acoustical residues of ancient experiences of sound." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review 


    "An essential read for all those interested in the ‘soundscape’ of Antiquity – from rites to the human body, the physiology of hearing, myth, music on the stage, ancient emotions and contemporary attempts to reconstruct ancient sounds –, the volume offers a broad perspective on sounds and hearing... Thanks to the rich variety of views on sound and the ‘soundscapes’ in ancient Greece and Rome, this volume establishes itself as a staple in future research on sounds and their perception, and on acoustics and society in the Graeco-Roman world." - Greek and Roman Musical Studies