L. A. Swift

in The Hidden Chorus

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577842
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722622 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs


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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

Chapter.  26952 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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