Document Type


Publication Date



It is one of the many ironies of the term "philology" that what to the untrained ear may connote a dry and lifeless field of study was once the fightingest of fighting words; indeed, philology has been only recently retired as a field with an especial love for internecine warfare. "Love of literature," it seems, could spawn loathing of fellow literature-lovers, and as philology grew as a discipline and even academic profession, the stakes were high. Any examination of metaphilology, then, must include a glance at philology's discourses of error and detection, of correction and humiliation: philology- if dedicated to recovering a singular truth concerning texts--can be a zero-sum game. In the field of classical studies, questions of literary interpretation have necessarily been wedded to such texts' often shadowy social contexts, and it is no coincidence that the most bitter battles have been fought where there is the least available evidence. The greater the evidential void, the greater the opportunity for hermeneutic ingenuity--and for equally pitched polemic.

Publication Information

Metaphilology: Histories and Languages of Philology

Included in

Classics Commons