Front cover of Niobes: Antiquity, Modernity, Critical Theory, edited by Mario Telò and Andrew Benjamin, featuring a modern bronze sculture of Niobe.


Antiquity, Modernity, Critical Theory

Edited by Mario Telò and Andrew Benjamin

276 pp. 6 x 9
9 illustrations
Pub Date: February, 2024

Subjects: Classics
Gender & Sexuality Studies
Literary Theory

Series: Classical Memories/Modern Identities

order Hardcover $99.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1563-0
Order PDF ebook$49.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8334-9

Niobes repeatedly stopped me in my tracks, to think, to re-read, and even to mourn. Each essay is beautiful and devastating. For thoughtful classicists and comparatists, this collection offers a new model of what the study of myth and its reception can achieve.” —Shane Butler, author of The Passions of John Addington Symonds

“This brilliant book establishes Niobe as a decisive figure for understanding the historical, philosophical, ethical, and ecological relation of human precarity to divine cruelty. Highly recommended for its transdisciplinary and fearless approaches to Greek myth and its afterlives.” —Karen Bassi, author of Traces of the Past: Classics Between History and Archaeology

A marginalized but persistent figure of Greek tragedy, Niobe, whose many children were killed by Apollo and Artemis, embodies yet problematizes the philosophically charged dialectics between life and death, mourning and melancholy, animation and inanimation, silence and logos. The essays in Niobes present her as a set of complex figurations, an elusive mythical character but also an overdetermined figure who has long exerted a profound influence on various modes of modern thought, especially in the domains of aesthetics, ethics, psychoanalysis, and politics. As a symbol of both exclusion and resistance, Niobe calls for critical attention at a time of global crisis.

Reconstructing the dialogues of Phillis Wheatley, G. W. F. Hegel, Walter Benjamin, Aby Warburg, and others with Niobe as she appears in Aeschylus, Sophocles, Ovid, and the visual arts, a collective of major thinkers—classicists, art historians, and critical theorists—reflect on the space that she can occupy in the humanities today. Inspiring new ways of connecting the classical tradition and ancient tragic discourse with crises and political questions relating to gender, race, and social justice, Niobe insists on living on.

Barbara Baert, Andrew Benjamin, drea brown, Adriana Cavarero, Rebecca Comay, Mildred Galland-Szymkowiak, John T. Hamilton, Paul A. Kottman, Jacques Lezra, Andres Matlock, Ben Radcliffe, Victoria Rimell, Mario Telò, Mathura Umachandran, Daniel Villegas Vélez

Mario Telò is Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric, Comparative Literature, and Ancient Greek and Roman Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author, most recently, of Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy; Greek Tragedy in a Global Crisis: Reading through Pandemic Times; and Resistant Form: Aristophanes and the Comedy of Crisis.

Andrew Benjamin is Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Monash University. He is the author of numerous monographs, including The Plural Event: Descartes, Hegel, Heidegger; Present Hope: Philosophy, Architecture, Judaism; Virtue in Being: Towards an Ethics of the Unconditioned; and Art, Mimesis and the Avant-Garde.




Introduction: Critical Encounters with Niobe

Mario Telò

Part 1   An-archic Beginnings

Chapter 1        Niobe’s Hypermaternity

Adriana Cavarero

Chapter 2        Nihil Est in Imagine Vivum

Rebecca Comay

Chapter 3        Niobe’s People: Ambiguous Violence and Interrupted Labor in Iliad 24

Ben Radcliffe

Part 2   Around Ovid

Chapter 4        Philosophers’ Stone: Enduring Niobe

Victoria Rimell

Chapter 5        Niobe’s Tragic Cryo-Ecology

Mario Telò

Chapter 6        Tears from Stone

John T. Hamilton

Chapter 7        Shadow and Stone: Niobe between Platonism and Stoicism

Andres Matlock

Part 3   Art and Aesthetics

Chapter 8        The Weeping Rock: Paragone, Pathosformel, and Petrification

Barbara Baert

Chapter 9        Schelling’s Niobe

Mildred Galland-Szymkowiak

Chapter 10      The More Loving One: On Post-Melancholic Life

Paul A. Kottman

Chapter 11      Niobe’s Nomoi

Daniel Villegas Vélez

Part 4   Philosophy, Poetry, Social Justice

Chapter 12      Niobe between Benjamin and Arendt—and Beyond

Mathura Umachandran

Chapter 13      Countering Injury: On the Deaths of the Niobids

Andrew Benjamin

Chapter 14      Lacrimae Rerum: Institution of Grief

Jacques Lezra

Chapter 15      “How Strangely Changed”: Phillis Wheatley in Niobean Myth and Memory, an Essay in Verse

drea brown



List of Contributors


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