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Frontiers of PleasureModels of Aesthetic Response in Archaic and Classical Greek Thought$
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Anastasia-Erasmia Peponi

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199798322

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199798322.001.0001

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(p.70) 4 Fusion
Frontiers of Pleasure

Anastasia-Erasmia Peponi

Oxford University Press

Kêlêsisand thelxis, conveying slightly different nuances of intense auditory fascination and enchantment, are often discussed in archaic and classical texts in relation to the Sirens’ song. A re-reading of the Odyssean episode alongside passages from choral poetry illuminates the distinctive position of the Sirens’ listener, an intermediate state between pure attendance and full participation in performance. The chapter finally argues that, in archaic thought, listening to the Sirens is conceptualized as a mode of fusing the listener into the performer. This unusual model of aesthetic response further explains Odysseus’s own prominent position as a listener in the Odyssey. It also serves as an example of how Greek thought, along with more familiar perceptions of the aesthetic, envisioned the death of the listener in his blissful union with the performer. This point is further discussed in relation to brief but incisive comments by Nietzsche about substantial gaps in modern aesthetic thought.

Keywords:   choral poetry, enchantment, Friedrich Nietzsche, kêlêsis, listener, performer, Sirens, thelxis

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