Associate Professor of Classics Jesse Weiner recently presented a paper on “Odysseus’ Corpses: Reclamation of Life and the Politics of Death in Homer’s Odyssey” at the annual meeting of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association in Las Vegas.
Weiner said the paper reads Odysseus’ slaughter of the suitors and slaves deemed to have been disloyal in Odyssey 22, as well as his subsequent treatment of their bodies, through the necropolitics of contemporary philosopher Achelle Mbembe.
He argues that the killings function as a political performance of sovereignty as Odysseus reclaims his kingship and home, while the stratified treatment of dead bodies serves to reinforce social hierarchies.
Weiner also spoke in Germany at the University of Kiel as part of a colloquium titled “Medical Knowledge and Its ‘Sitz im Leben’: Body and Horror in Antiquity.”
His paper, “Fearful Laughter: Bodily Horror in Roman Sexual Humor,” treats humor as a close relative to horror and argues that we can see the markers of horror — intense mixtures of fear and disgust — in the sexually comedic literature of ancient Rome. He suggests that behind the bawdy jokes of such authors as Catullus, Marial, Petronius, Apuleius, and Ausonius lie real anxieties over the performance of masculinity, the maintenance of social hierarchies, bodily image, bodily vulnerability, female sexuality, and witchcraft.