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Classical Studies 3400E Chapter Notes -Prude

Classical Studies
Course Code
CS 3400E
Chris Piper

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Prudery, i.e., a prude is somebody who is easily shocked by sex or nudity and who pays
a great deal of attention to proper social behavior (disapproving)
Expurgate, i.e., to remove words or passages considered offensive or unsuitable from a
book before publication
Erotica: literary. Scholars in the past (beginning around the end of the 18th
century and continuing until as late as 1970) had a habit of whitewashing Greece and
Rome, choosing to ignore or suppress those aspects of the ancient civilizations they found
disturbing, immoral, or unpleasant. "Classical culture was rather selectively admired."
Often, literary erotica/ sexually explicit material fell under this heading. There were
several ways of dealing with these parts, if you were a translator publishing a classical
text in English.
Sometimes (especially in study editions), erotic or disturbing parts would be left
out altogether (i.e., with no ellipsis to show where the author had omitted text)
In translations of ancient authors, indecent bits of text would be replaced with an
ellipsis (this at least shows some part has been left out).
kept in the original Latin
or even bizarrely translated into Italian instead of English, in an attempt to
conceal the content of these passages.
"These strategies effectively served to conceal the meaning of the less common
obscenities from even professional scholars, while enabling the inquisitive student to
locate unerringly the passages in which they occurred." As late as 1930, A. E. Housman,
a poet and leading classical scholar, proposed to clarify the meaning of various sexual
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