Ryan S. Olson, Tragedy, Authority, and Trickery: The Poetics of Embedded Letters in Josephus. Hellenic Studies 42. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University, 2010. Pp. xiv, 254. ISBN 9780674053373. $24.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Linda Zollschan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This volume developed from Olson's DPhil dissertation from Oxford supervised by Martin Goodman, Chris Pelling and Steve Mason. Olson's central thesis is that the practice of quoting letters by Josephus was in imitation of long-standing Greek literary tradition that began with Homer. Olson proposes that Josephus made conscious allusions in his historical works to Greek literature which formed part of the influences that were part of Josephus' thought world. The author is completely up-to-date with the latest trends in scholarship regarding Josephus as a stylist of Greek literature, particularly the tragedians Sophocles and Euripides. Olson provides a stipulation that he is not concerned to distinguish between those Greek authors who were 'close' to Josephus' thought world from those that were distant.(4) Olson maintains that Josephus' audience was familiar with the literary models that Josephus incorporated into his work and that this audience was comprised of elite Romans in the city of Rome itself. (37-44)
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Ryan S. Olson, Tragedy, Authority, and Trickery: The Poetics of Embedded Letters in Josephus.