Early Greek Monody

Early Greek Monody: The History of a Poetic Type

Volume: 37
Copyright Date: 1974
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 318
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  • Book Info
    Early Greek Monody
    Book Description:

    In this book, sound classical scholarship and judicious literary interpretation are brought to bear on four important Greek lyric poets and some of their lesser contemporaries. G. M. Kirkwood devotes a chapter each to Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho, and Anacreon, discussing their major poems with learning and insight. He also treats, among others, Corinna, Telesilla, and Timocreon, and he concludes by showing how monody evolved in the direction of epigram. He provides his own faithful and fluent translations along with the Greek originals, as well as extensive notes.

    "Kirkwood's study is a comprehensive and scholarly investigation of the origins and development of early Greek 'personal' poetry. . . . Greek text, the author's English translation, and specific discussion of individual poems and fragments support Kirkwood's analysis of each poet's role in the definition of Greek monody as a poetic form; its role in literature and eventual replacement by other poetic types is thus described in a new and provocative manner. Exhaustive annotation to scholarship on the subject and metrical appendix increase the value of this study for students of early Greek lyric poetry."-Library Journal

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6677-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-xii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xix)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    Apart from such special types of composition as plays in verse and long narrative poems not much thought is usually given to the category of a modern poem. “Lyric” is used interchangeably with “poem” and “verse,” and generally any relatively short poem expressing personal views and emotions can be called lyric, even if in fact it is a sonnet or a pastoral or is in ballad form. One poem may be more lyric, by which is usually meant more like a song, than another, but it is not a matter of exclusive or formal definition.¹ In the criticism of ancient...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Archilochus and the Beginning of Extant Lyric Poetry
    (pp. 20-52)

    The seventh century was a period of varied and substantial poetic creativity. Terpander is hardly more than a great name,¹ but there are other poets whose work we have something of: the elegists Callinus and Tyrtaeus, the iambic poet Semonides of Amorgos, and Aleman, composer of the earliest extant choral poetry. And there are still other, shadowy figures whose names and reputations help to show that there was a poetic movement of breadth and force: Thaletas of Crete, Clonas, Polymnastus of Colophon, all innovators in music and poetry. But Archilochus is by far the best representative of what is new...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Alcaeus
    (pp. 53-99)

    Both Alcaeus and Sappho are the spiritual successors of Archilochus, because both continue his contemporaneity of subject matter and his intensity of self-expression. They may owe specific debts; there is, as we shall see, some evidence of direct imitation by Alcaeus. But it is a long step from Archilochus’s asynartetic verses and epodes to the four-line stanzas of Alcaic and Sapphic strophe.¹ The choral poetry of Alcman and Stesichorus,² who wrote contemporaneously or shortly before them, bears no striking similarities to their poetry; any influence, in either direction, can have been only slight. But there were other possible models. Traditional...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Sappho
    (pp. 100-149)

    Alcaeus and Sappho are alike in the apparent intensity of their involvement in much of what they write about and in many external features of poetic form, but they are utterly different in the subject matter of their poetry and in outlook. Alcaeus is political and moral, Sappho apolitical, and her primary concern with human emotions and the activities that express them gives moral judgment only an incidental place.

    The first point of contrast is in the background necessary for understanding their poetry. Because Sappho’s poetry is essentially nonpolitical, the framework of local history can largely be forgotten for her....

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Anacreon
    (pp. 150-177)

    The second half of the sixth century was the period in which the greatest development of the choral lyric forms took place. The partheneion had already become an impressive art form in the work of Alcman, in Sparta, in the seventh century. The encomium, dirge, paean, dithyramb, and epinician were developed, and three great masters of choral lyric forms appear, occupying the century from 540 to 440: Simonides, Pindar, and Bacchylides. Monody had no such parallel growth. Sappho and Alcaeus had no great successors. There are just two other monodists whose extant poetry is significant in quantity, Anacreon and Corinna,...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Minor Voices
    (pp. 178-193)

    After Anacreon there are no monodists who have left substantial fragments except for Corinna, whose date is so doubtful that her poetry has a very isolated place. There are three poets whom, on the strength of the little we have, we could wish to know better: the doughty Telesilla of Argos, her near neighbor Praxilla of Sicyon, and the pugnacious Timocreon of Rhodes. Three others are mere shadows: Myrtis, Charixena, Cydias.¹

    Dating can be only approximate, but all six of these minor figures seem to belong to the late sixth and first half of the fifth centuries. Myrtis, whose home...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Monody and Epigram
    (pp. 194-208)

    Monodie lyric had only a brief formal history. The genre had scarcely achieved its proper nature when it yielded to and was incorporated into other forms of poetry. In its brevity, the history of monody is like that of Greek tragedy as we know it. But whereas tragedy developed into an undistinguished continuation of itself in the fourth century B.C., monody died both a more clearcut and a more fruitful death. While there was, in later centuries, a continuing trickle of poems that are formally to be classified as lyric monody, this poetry is quantitatively as well as in quality...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-282)
  12. Appendix on Meters I. A Glossary of Metrical Terms Used in the Text
    (pp. 283-285)
  13. Appendix on Meters II. A List of Meters
    (pp. 285-286)
  14. Appendix on Meters III. Index of Meters of Passages Quoted in the Text
    (pp. 286-290)
  15. Index
    (pp. 291-299)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 300-300)