Situating Skoptic Epigram
This chapter explores literary and cultural contexts for skoptic epigram. Contemporary sources are silent; the parallel of the ancient novel suggests that Second Sophistic authors did not refer to ‘new’ literary forms because their cultural authority was bound up in an inherited classical canon. Positing Loukillios as a founding author, the chapter relates the aggressive misogyny of his epigrams to use at Greek symposia. It thus extends Alan Cameron's characterisation of Hellenistic epigram into the Imperial era. Skoptic humour, based in a stock repertoire of satirical stereotypes, was an ideal sympotic entertainment. The prose prefaces of Book 11 of the Anthology, the main source for skoptic epigram, explicitly identify skoptic epigram as a traditionally favoured sympotic form. The chapter assigns the prefaces to the Imperial period on stylistic grounds. Their claim of symposiac use in earlier periods is probably an attempt to manufacture a classical pedigree for contemporary practice.
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