Stages of Grief: Enacting Lamentation in Late Ancient Hymnography
Copyright © Association for Jewish Studies 2016Â. This essay explores the rhetoric and performance of grief by examining two related bodies of texts composed in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic: eulogies for deceased individuals (hespedim) and communal laments (kinot) for Jerusalem; also included are two narrative laments from the same corpus that construct the voices of grieving biblical characters. In the analysis, the dynamics among the living participants in the mourning rituals are investigated, as well as the ways rituals of individual grief and rituals of communal mourning shape each other. Throughout the analysis, specific rhetorical techniques associated with mourning in both the Jewish world and in classical Greco-Roman sources and early Christian materials merit particular scrutiny, as do the experiential components of rhetorical techniques such as refrains, antiphony, anadiplosis, and dialogue. Along the way, contextual features important for understanding the function and efficacy of these works are addressed: social setting, liturgical station, affinity for biblical texts, and the status of the mourned party.
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