“AQUATIC” EROTIC METAPHORS IN GREEK FICTIONAL EPISTOLARY COLLECTIONS

Author:
Sabira Hajdarević
Email:
shajdarevic@unizd.hr
Summary
Alciphron’s, Philostratus’ and Aristaenetus’ letter collections belong to Greek fictional epistolography, a subgenre that flourished from 2nd century A.D. onwards. The authors chose erotica as a prevalent theme for their letters. However, the literary conventions of the subgenre forbid impropriety and drifts into pornography. So, the authors were entrapped between the obligation to be “decent” and the fact that their readers expected at least some nudity and sexual innuendos. Consequently, the stylistic devices used for erotic allusions had to be vivid and various in origin, and their expressive power became increasingly important in the collections of this subgenre. Those erotic expressions are at the focus of this paper. In accordance with the need for brevity, only the ones that contain the idea of water, its consumption (or thirst), sailing or fishing are scrutinized. After the examples are detected, they are placed into a wider context: their importance and their meanings achieved in the “domicile” letters were determined (desire or being in love, seduction or the sexual act itself) and compared. The final goal of the paper was to define the comprehensive role of the “aquatic” erotic expressions in the literary subgenre. The analysis revealed that the expressions of this kind were not used by the authors very often (their frequency in the collections is between 4.5 and 7 percent). Surprisingly, they are used in different ways (given that the collections share the same theme and the correspondents’ occupations, the opposite result was expected) and Aristaenetus’ are quite innovative and far more imaginative than the others’.
Key words
Greek fictional epistolography; Alciphron; Philostratus; Aristaenetus; erotic metaphors; erotic expressions
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