Monday, July 16, 2007


Door-Shutting in Antiquity

Anthony Griffin, "Germany and the West 1830-1900," in K.J. Dover, Perceptions of the Ancient Greeks (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), pp. 225-245 (at 242):
More than half a century after Burckhardt's Berlin years, another young student, Ludwig Hatvany, a Hungarian, published his account of his experiences as a young classicist. He did so in a pamphlet that took the form of mock notes on a year's work in classics in Berlin and bore the brilliant title Die Wissenschaft des nicht Wissenswerten (Berlin, 1911) - 'The science of what is not worth knowing'. With splendid brutality he pilloried his teacher, the infamous 'Woepke', who took the passage in the Protagoras where the porter shuts the gate on Socrates and his companions as the pretext for a discourse on 'the important and still unsolved question of door-shutting in antiquity'.
The line between satire and reality is a thin one. I can think offhand of at least one book on door-shutting in antiquity - Frank O. Copley, Exclusus Amator: A Study in Latin Love Poetry (New York: American Philological Association, 1956). Exclusus amator means "shut-out lover," and the book is a study of the paraclausithyron, or address to a closed door by a lover who has been shut out by his mistress.

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