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09/26/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

The Fictitious Construction of Presence:

Evoking the Image in Art and Writing in Ancient Mesopotamia

Beate Pongratz-Leisten

The phenomenon of literary description of the artwork, known as ekphrasis, generally has been ascribed to the Greeks, where it was part of the curriculum of rhetorical training, a rhetorical technique of persuasion. Rather than being a literary genre – something that modern art history, literary theory, and anthropology have turned it into, and rather than mimesis, it was a poetic device intended to free the image of its three-dimensional habitat and transform it, so that it could become a powerful tool to spark emotions in the audience. A close look at the literary production in Mesopotamia reveals that such a rhetorical technique was already present in royal inscriptions including hymns celebrating the building of a temple as well as in historical inscriptions.
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