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The Alexandra of LycophronA Literary Study$
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Charles McNelis and Alexander Sens

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199601899

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601899.001.0001

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“Like a Winged Runner”

“Like a Winged Runner”

The Prologue and Epilogue of the Alexandra

Chapter:
(p.47) 3 “Like a Winged Runner”
Source:
The Alexandra of Lycophron
Author(s):

Charles McNelis

Alexander Sens

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601899.003.0003

This chapter explores the ways in which at the level of structure and language the prologue manipulates the generic conventions of both tragedy and epic. In the wake of Cassandra’s prophecy, moreover, the epilogue represents a self-referential comment on the poem’s dynamics and serves as a kind of sphragis. The language of the two passages sets up a series of striking parallelisms among the launching of Paris’ ships, Cassandra’s utterance of her prophecy, and the messenger’s report. Throughout, the messenger speaks in self-reflective language that not only links both the messenger speech and the prophecy embedded in it to the production of poetry but also plays on the tragic notion that wisdom is achieved through suffering. The chapter concludes with a consideration of the relationship between the programmatic language of the messenger’s prologue and that of the opening of Callimachus’ Aetia, to which it has sometimes been connected.

Keywords:   prologue, epilogue, messenger speech, tragedy, epic, Callimachus, Aetia

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