ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Exeter, Queen's Drive, Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ, England. E-mail—R.A.S. [email protected].
CAREER: University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, England, professor of classics and ancient history and head of department.
Pompeii, translated from the Italian, Constable (London, England), 1978.
(Author of introduction and commentary) Euripides, Bacchae, Aris & Phillips (Warminster, England), 1996.
(Editor, with Christopher Gill and Norman Postlethwaite) Reciprocity in Ancient Greece, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Money and the Early Greek Mind: Homer, Philosophy,Tragedy, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals and journals.
SIDELIGHTS: Classicist Richard Seaford has written on subjects that include Homer, Greek lyric poetry, Greek religion, early philosophy, Greek tragedy, Greek satyric drama, and the New Testament. His books include studies of two Dionysiac plays by Euripides, Cyclops and Bacchae.
In Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-State, Seaford puts forth his thesis that since the genres of epic and drama were performed as part of religious festivals, they are framed by ritual, as well as being frames for ritual, since they portray rites of passage, cult practices, ritualized relationships, and sacrificial offerings. Edith Hall noted in the Times Literary Supplement that "Seaford's more original extension of this thesis, although breathtakingly complex in its explication, is fundamentally simple: ritual and reciprocity are treated differently in epic and in tragedy. Gift-giving, for example produces positive results in epic, but tragic characters' gifts are often lethal; more importantly, kin-killing is almost unknown to the mythical wold of epic, but is a defining feature of the tragic universe."
In Reciprocity in Ancient Greece, Seaford and coeditors Christopher Gill and Norman Postlethwaite collect the writings of fourteen contributors, all of which were generated by an Exeter conference in 1993. James Davidson noted in the Times Literary Supplement that "reciprocity is not the same as friendship, of course. . . . The Greeks were able to view a large array of diverse phenomena in terms of giving and giving back, not only friendship, justice and revenge, but worship, quotation, and the gaze." Davidson remarked that several of the contributors "wrestle at some length with theory, anthropological (a lucid survey here by Hans van Wees) or game (an account of the 'Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma' by Gabriel Herman); and many of the rest have chosen difficult or problematic areas which end up asking fundamental questions about the very nature of the thing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Times Literary Supplement, May 12, 1995, Edith Hall, review of Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-State; May 28, 1999, James Davidson, review of Reciprocity in Ancient Greece, pp. 9-10.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review Online,http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/ (November 1, 1996), Michael R. Halleran, review of Bacchae.*