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 season 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 vital section within the background of the Homeric culture could be reconstructed. via Plato's eyes, the "staging" of Homer in classical Athens can once more develop into a digital truth.

This publication examines the final testimony of Plato as knowledgeable in regards to the cultural legacy of those Homeric performances. Plato's superb ear for language--in this situation the technical language of high-class artisans like rhapsodes--picks up on numerous real expressions that echo the controversy 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 examine 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 used to be 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 without end self-renewing birthday.

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

The competition of the Panathenaia, held in Athens each summer time to have fun the birthday of the city's goddess, Athena, used to be the surroundings for performances of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey through expert reciters or "rhapsodes. " The works of Plato are our major surviving resource of data approximately those performances.

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

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Such a point of view, of course, would be a traditional one. From a more modernizing point of view, however, Socrates seems to have the last laugh on the rhapsode. Why care about performances of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia or anywhere else? Since we have Homer in books, who needs rhapsodes in the first place? Who would possibly need Ion now? Plato’s Socrates can read Homer for us better than Ion can. For that matter, we do not need Socrates, either, once he has liberated us from the rhapsodes: now we can read Homer on our own.

HQ 17, 20. [ ] 10. GM 29, with reference to the extended discussion in Householder and Nagy 1972:19–23. [ ] 11. PP 50. [ ] 12. For more on “dictation theories,” see HR, Introduction. [ ] 13. ” See also HQ 41, where the same descriptive scheme of five consecutive periods is more explicitly situated in an overall evolutionary model. The perspective on this scheme is different in the two analyses just cited: in PP 110 the analysis looks forward in time, while in HQ 41 it looks backward. [ ] 14. See PP 69–71, 77, 80–82, 111–112 (especially notes 21, 23, 24), 122–125, 143–144, 180n99, 189; HQ 42–43, 52, 69, 75, 80–81, 93–95, 100–111.

Granted, the hupoboleus here is the practical equivalent of ‘prompter’ in theatrical terms, but I contend that the more basic function of the hupoboleus, in rhapsodic terms, is that of the continuator, the maintainer of the relay principle, the one who keeps the sequence going from the point where one actor’s “lines” end and another actor’s “lines” begin. The translation of the rhapsodic term hupobolê as ‘relay’ meshes with the Homeric usage of hupoballô and hupoblêdên. Let us start with an Iliadic passage featuring the word hupoballô: ἑσταότος μὲν καλὸν ἀκουέμεν οὐδὲ ἔοικεν ὑββάλλειν, χαλεπὸν γάρ, ἐπιστάμενόν περ ἐόντα It is a good thing to listen to one who is standing, and it is unseemly to hupoballein him, for it is difficult to do so, even for one who is expert.

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