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Classical World LiteraturesSino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Comparisons$
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Wiebke Denecke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199971848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199971848.001.0001

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The Synoptic Machine

The Synoptic Machine

Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Juxtapositions

(p.265) Chapter 8 The Synoptic Machine
Classical World Literatures

Wiebke Denecke

Oxford University Press

After exploring satire as a means for writers of younger literary cultures to appropriate and contest elements of the reference culture, this chapter explores a more frontal but less confrontational way of relating the two: the fascinating dynamic of “synoptic texts,” which juxtapose elements from both for comparison and contrast. It compares Newly Selected Collection of Myriad Leaves (Shinsen Man’yôshû), a poetry anthology that juxtaposes vernacular waka with Sino-Japanese quatrains, and the Parallel Lives (Bioi parálleloi) by the Greek historian, philosopher and essayist Plutarch, which pairs biographies of famous Greek mythical figures, politicians, and military commanders with matching Roman luminaries. The chapter argues that the very act of juxtaposition influenced the representation of both sides, resulting in iconized vignettes of cultural competition and complementarity for the purpose of aesthetic or moral education. Because Plutarch was a Greek living under the Roman Empire, this chapter also thematizes the disjunction between political and cultural capital that the conquest of Greece brought about and that distinguishes the Greco-Roman from the Sino-Japanese constellation.

Keywords:   multilingual texts, multicultural texts, synoptic texts, Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Bioi parálleloi, Greek imperial literature, Shinsen Man’yôshû), Synkrisis, cultural competition, aesthetic education, moral education

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