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Iambus and ElegyNew Approaches$
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Laura Swift and Chris Carey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689743

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689743.001.0001

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Cultic Contexts for Elegiac Performance

Cultic Contexts for Elegiac Performance

Chapter:
(p.14) (p.15) 1 Cultic Contexts for Elegiac Performance
Source:
Iambus and Elegy
Author(s):

Ewen Bowie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689743.003.0002

The chapter argues that Archilochus’ elegy of which P.Oxy. 4708 (2005) offers a substantial fragment was a self-standing narrative, not (as generally taken) a narrative exemplum related to a contemporary military event. It is suggested the poem was composed for first performance in a festival, probably in Thasos’ important Herakleion, where by the fifth century there was a broad flight of steps with a balustrade at its foot seemingly indicating use for viewing. A later inscription attests contests involving a winning taxis. Archilochus’ subject, Telephus, both honoured Herakles and could be related by his Thasian audience to their struggles, especially with Naxians, for control of the Thracian peraea. In support it is argued that Simonides’ Plataea elegy, opening with an extended hymn to Achilles, was first performed where he had a cult, probably his sanctuary on the road leading north from Sparta, and that cultic contexts also suit Mimnermus’ Smyrneis and Callinus’ Address to Zeus.

Keywords:   Archilochus, Callinus, contest, cult, elegy, festival, Heracles, Mimnernus, narrative Simonides

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