Arion's Lyre

Arion's Lyre: Archaic Lyric into Hellenistic Poetry

Benjamin Acosta-Hughes
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Arion's Lyre
    Book Description:

    Arion's Lyreexamines how Hellenistic poetic culture adapted, reinterpreted, and transformed Archaic Greek lyric through a complex process of textual, cultural, and creative reception. Looking at the ways in which the poetry of Sappho, Alcaeus, Ibycus, Anacreon, and Simonides was preserved, edited, and read by Hellenistic scholars and poets, the book shows that Archaic poets often look very different in the new social, cultural, and political setting of Hellenistic Alexandria. For example, the Alexandrian Sappho evolves from the singer of Archaic Lesbos but has distinct associations and contexts, from Ptolemaic politics and Macedonian queens to the new phenomenon of the poetry book and an Alexandrian scholarship intent on preservation and codification.

    A study of Hellenistic poetic culture and an interpretation of some of the Archaic poets it so lovingly preserved,Arion's Lyreis also an examination of how one poetic culture reads another--and how modern readings of ancient poetry are filtered and shaped by earlier readings.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3489-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    Among the recently discovered roll of epigrams that have been attributed to the third-century-BCE poet Posidippus is a votive dedication that narrates an extraordinary journey. The lyre of the Archaic poet Arion migrates from the Archaic Greek world to Posidippus’s Alexandria, where it finds itself an object of dedication in the shrine of his queen.¹

    VI 18 ᾈρcινόη, cοὶ τῄ[ν]δε λύρην ύπὸ χειρ[......]ῦ 37

    19 φθ̣εγξαμ[ένην] δ̣ελφὶc ἤγαγ’ Ἀριόνιọ[c

    20 ọụ..ελου[....]ᾳc ἐκ κύματοc αλλοτ[

    21 κεῖνοc ἀν[....]c λευκὰ περᾶι πελά[γη

    22 πολλᾳπο[....].τητι καὶ αἰόλα τῆι.[

    23 φωνῆ̣ι π[....]ακον κανον ἀηδον̣[

    24 ἄνθεμα δ̣’, [ὦ Φιλ]ᾀδελφε, τὸν ἤλαcεν [......]ίων,

    25 __...

    (pp. 12-61)

    Sappho’s lyric poems (melē) imbue a wide canvas of Hellenistic poetry. The epigram tradition that sets her among the male figures of the lyric canon and, at the same time, sets her among the Muses finds a corresponding resonance in the varieties of her presence recalled in Alexandrian verse.¹ The new Sappho fragment is a compelling example of this influence.² The reader of Hellenistic poetry quickly recognizes resonances of this fragment throughout Hellenistic literature, resonances that in turn illustrate Sappho’s significant role as both poetic model and cultural memory of earlier lyric song. I discuss some of the resonances of...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Lyric into Elegy: SAPPHO AGAIN
    (pp. 62-104)

    Theocritus and Apollonius both provide examples of hexameter adaptation of Sappho. A poet who herself extensively reconfigured epic imagery into lyric comes in her turn to be recast into hexameter, the meter of epic. Sappho’s rapport with later elegiac poetry, the subject of this chapter, is a rich and varied tradition. This rapport is further implicated in elegy’s assumption of many of the conventions of Archaic lyric, among them the developed fi rst-person persona of the singer, theIof lyric. As the poetic genre that comes to be the conventional medium of love poetry, elegy further turns to lyric...

    (pp. 105-140)

    The Hellenistic perception of Alcaeus is far more oblique than is the case with Sappho. Several factors contribute to this variance in their reception. Much of extant Alcaeus comes from his stasiotic poetry, poetry of local civic strife and warring political factions. This poetry would have had little appeal to the major surviving Hellenistic poets and their readers. Alcaeus’s erotic and symposiastic poetry, now all but entirely lost, was more appealing, if we may judge from the meager testimony that we have on Alcaeus’s reputation. Further, Sappho and Alcaeus come to be collapsed together as one Aeolic tradition, Sappho’s generally...

    (pp. 141-170)

    Anacreon and Ibycus, the two artists whom I discuss in this chapter, were poets resident at the courts of sixth-century tyrants. Their dependent relationships with their powerful patrons, their production of encomiastic poetry, and their erotic poetry composed in the context of a court setting are all factors that make them significant models for the singers of third-century Alexandria. There are further parallels. Neither was an itinerant artist per se, although on account of political circumstances they came to be resident at several different places. One of these was the court of the Samian tyrant Polycrates, where Anacreon lived until...

    (pp. 171-213)

    Ulrich von Wilamowitz observed that we are at a particular disadvantage when it comes to the fifth-century-BCE poet Simonides: we know him largely not through his poetry, sadly little of which survives, but primarily through anecdote.¹ And the anecdotal tradition invariably biases our appreciation of this poet: we look for signs of his φιλαργυρíα (“avarice”) and αἰσχροκέρδεια (“acquisitiveness”) in the later poets who emulate him. Other features of his work mirrored, however obliquely, in later verse are hidden from us through lack of the reflected original. The Simonides whom Callimachus places so centrally in the early part of Book 3...

  11. Epilogue Lyric Transformed
    (pp. 214-220)

    Specific assessments of the figures whom we conventionally term “Archaic lyric poets” in later Hellenistic poetry are rare.¹ There are, however, a couple of anonymous epigrams that evoke both individual poets and outline, indeed may signal the creation of, what we now consider the lyric canon. This short concluding epilogue on Hellenistic poetry’s transformation of Archaic lyric models begins with a reading of these epigrams (AP9.184):

    Πίνδαρε, Μουσάων ἱερὸν στόμα, καὶ λάλε Σειρὴν Βακχυλίδη, Σαπφοῦς τ’ Αἰολίδες χάριτες, γράμμα τ’ Ἀνακρείοντος, Ὁμηρικὸν ὅς τ’ ἀπὸ ῥεῦμα ἔσπασας οἰκείοις, Στησίχορ’, ἐν καμάτοις, ἥ τε Σιμωνίδεω γλυκερὴ σελὶς, ἡδύ τε Πειθοῦς,...

  12. References Cited
    (pp. 221-238)
  13. Index Locorum
    (pp. 239-246)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 247-252)