Performance and Context

Andrew Ford

in Aristotle as Poet

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199733293
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918539 | DOI:
Performance and Context

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This chapter explores the performative context of the Hermias song, taking a dialectical approach to context both as a reflection of historical reality and as a projection of the poetic text itself. Reconstructions of the première of Aristotle’s song are examined, including Wilamowitz’ hypothesis that it was composed to be performed alongside a prose text by Callisthenes in honor of Hermiasat a commemorative ceremony for Hermias held by Aristotle and fellow philosophers and friends of the deceased. An extract of Callisthenes’ Hermias is examined and its possible generic status is explored in light of the variety of fourth-century prose forms. Although there is not sufficient evidence to prove or disprove Wilamowitz’ scenario, it is argued that the poem gives every sign of being an authentic work of Aristotle’s. The story of the song being put on trial is also found credible in its essence by drawing out its political implications for the 320s.

Keywords: Callisthenes’ Hermias; encomium; Hermippus of Smyrna; Athenaeus; paean; lyric refrains; prose genres; Aristotle’s Apology (Defense Speech); Skolion; impiety trials

Chapter.  6442 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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