Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



The literary record of the Ancient Mediterranean contains untapped potential for the study of the history of spatial representation, a new frontier in the history of geography. The articulation of spatial networks in written form is an integral element of several genres represented in the extant corpus of Greek literature. An analysis of the fabula space of an ancient narrative—the internal geography of the work itself—provides insights into the generic constraints, intertextuality, and contemporaneous geographical concepts that authors drew upon in constructing their particular literary geographies. The Argonautika of Apollonios Rhodios presents a particularly rich fabula space in epic form. This analysis of passages dense in spatial representation explicates Apollonios’ descriptive style. As could be expected, the fabula space of the Argonautika owes much to Homeric narrative style in its epic diction. However, upon close narratological analysis, the work betrays innovation in descriptive mode unprecedented in the extant literary record and commensurate with Apollonios’ novel take on the route of the mythical voyage. Apollonios describes the space traversed by the Argonauts with a constant emphasis on the experience of perceiving space. The descriptive standpoint shifts to allow the narratee multiple views of the action from multiple perspectives varying in detail and focalization. The poet’s consistent reliance upon rivers as an organizational principle in the description of landlocked territory perfectly encapsulates one solution to a literary problem new to the Greek world in the Hellenistic period: the inadequacy of traditional marine-oriented geographical description confronted with the vast continental territories dominated by Alexander’s successors.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

William Bubelis

Committee Members

Catherine Keane Roshan Abraham


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