Plato's Rhapsody and Homer's Music: The Poetics of the by Gregory Nagy

By Gregory Nagy

The competition of the Panathenaia, held in Athens each summer time to have fun the birthday of the city's goddess, Athena, was once the surroundings for performances of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey by means of expert reciters or "rhapsodes." The works of Plato are our major surviving resource of knowledge approximately those performances. via his references, a very important section within the historical past of the Homeric culture will be reconstructed. via Plato's eyes, the "staging" of Homer in classical Athens can once more turn into a digital truth.

This booklet examines the final testimony of Plato as knowledgeable concerning the cultural legacy of those Homeric performances. Plato's advantageous ear for language--in this example the technical language of high-class artisans like rhapsodes--picks up on quite a few actual expressions that echo the debate of rhapsodes as they as soon as practiced their paintings.

Highlighted one of the works of Plato are the Ion, the Timaeus, and the Critias. a few specialists who learn the Timaeus have prompt that Plato should have meant this masterpiece, defined through his characters as a humnos, to be a tribute to Athena. The metaphor of weaving, implicit in humnos and particular within the peplos or gown that was once provided to the goddess on the Panathenaia, applies additionally to Homeric poetry: it too was once pictured as a humnos, destined for everlasting re-weaving at the festive get together of Athena's perpetually self-renewing birthday.

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Extra info for Plato's Rhapsody and Homer's Music: The Poetics of the Panathenaic Festival in Classical Athens

Sample text

With this goal in mind, I have worked out a tentative descriptive framework of five periods, “Five Ages of Homer,” as it were: a relatively most fluid period, with no written texts, extending from the early second millennium into the middle of the eighth century in the first millennium BCE. a more formative or “pan-Hellenic” period, still with no written texts, from the middle of the eighth century to the middle of the sixth BCE. a definitive period, centralized in Athens, with potential texts in the sense of transcripts, at any of several points from the middle of the sixth century BCE to the later part of the fourth BCE; this period starts with the reform of Homeric performance traditions in Athens during the régime of the Peisistratidai.

Iliad XIX 79–80 Agamemnon is here speaking publicly to the assembly of warriors while remaining in a seated position (verse 77), saying that it is a good thing to listen to a man who speaks in a standing position and that it is difficult for even a good speaker to huphoballein him (ὑββάλλειν, verse 80). Achilles had just spoken to the assembly at verses 56–73, and verse 55 makes it explicit that he was standing. The definition of hupoballô in LSJ (p. ), with specific reference to this passage, is “‘suggest, whisper’, as a prompter does”; building on this definition, the dictionary arrives at the interpretation ‘interrupt’ for hupoballô here, following the suggestion of the B scholia to Iliad XIX 80.

10] In this connection, we need to confront the general phenomenon of meaning in the media of oral poetics. On the basis of my own cumulative work, I am convinced that meaning by way of reference in oral poetics needs to be seen diachronically as well as synchronically: each occurrence of a theme (on the level of content) or of a formula (on the level of form) in a given composition-in-performance refers not only to its immediate context but also to all other analogous contexts remembered by the performer or by any member of the audience.

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