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The Dance of the MusesChoral Theory and Ancient Greek Poetics$
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A. P. David

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199292400

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199292400.001.0001

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Choreia and the Musical Text

Choreia and the Musical Text

(p.22) 2 Choreia and the Musical Text
The Dance of the Muses

A. P. David

Oxford University Press

This chapter develops the notion of χορεία, according to Plato’s usage of the term, as the proper, restored rubric within which to understand the rhythm and harmony of ancient Greek poetry in both its stichic and lyric forms. The approach to such poetry via the ancient dictum, ‘art is imitation’, is given a brief developmental history and then critiqued. The importance of dance origins for Greek metres is discussed, with comparisons to examples of modern European ‘survivors’ of danced epic verse as preparation for a new accounting of such peculiar phenomena in Homeric poetry as noun-and-epithet phrases (understood to be analogous to ‘signature lines’ in opera) and ring composition. A case is made that Homeric and other Greek texts are not language in themselves, but musical scores instructing the production of performed speech.

Keywords:   Plato, ancient Greek poetry, metre, noun-and-epithet phrase, signature line, ring composition, musical score

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