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The Hidden ChorusEchoes of Genre in Tragic Lyric$
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L. A. Swift

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199577842

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577842.001.0001

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(p.104) 4 Epinikion
The Hidden Chorus

L. A. Swift

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how Greek tragedy evokes epinician poetry. The chapter begins with a discussion of epinician as a genre, drawing on both Pindar and Bacchylides. In particular, it explores how epinician was regarded in fifth‐century Athens: a society whose democratic values are frequently believed to be at odds with the aristocratic and individualistic values of epinician. The second part of the chapter explores how tragedy makes use of epinician motifs, using two case‐studies: Euripides' Heracles, and Electra. It is argued that in both these plays the clustering of epinician language is used to explore problematic values associated with epinician poetry: in particular, questions about what constitutes aretē (excellence), and the relationship between individual and community.

Keywords:   tragedy, epinician, Athens, democratic, aristocratic, athletics, individual, aretē, Euripides, Heracles, Electra, Pindar, Bacchylides

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