Redon Orpheus detail
Classic 226 :  Myth and Literature
Course Catalog No: 30197
Doe Library 308C
Leslie Kurke

The seminar will be devoted to consideration of various genres of archaic Greek choral poetry as embedded in their ritual and religious contexts (focusing mainly on Alkman, Pindar, and Bacchylides). My starting point is the reflection that monodic lyric (e.g., Sappho, Alkaios, Anakreon), although it does not really conform to post-Romantic models of the privacy and subjectivity of lyric voice, is still much more accessible to a style of reading informed by post-Romantic assumptions. Archaic choral lyric, in contrast, is often difficult, obscure, and inaccessible not just because it is fragmentary, but also because it is so deeply enmeshed in (partially or entirely lost) contexts of religious occasion and ritual action. I would therefore like to approach the reading of such genres as partheneion, paian, prosodion, and epinikion by trying, insofar as it is possible, to reconstruct that ritual surround and re-embed therein the bare texts we possess. This will entail simultaneous reading of other kinds of sources (e.g., epigraphic, later prose) to try to develop a “thick description” of archaic choral performance contexts. We will begin with a couple of weeks devoted to reading Books 1-2 of Plato’s Laws to develop a sociology of choreia.