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The Cup of SongStudies on Poetry and the Symposion$
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Vanessa Cazzato, Dirk Obbink, and Enrico Emanuele Prodi

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687688

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687688.001.0001

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The Symposion as Theme and Performance Context in Pindar’s Epinicians

The Symposion as Theme and Performance Context in Pindar’s Epinicians

(p.85) 5 The Symposion as Theme and Performance Context in Pindar’s Epinicians
The Cup of Song

Lucia Athanassaki

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the use and function of all Pindaric sympotic metaphors and similes and all representations of the symposion as performance venue on the basis of two criteria: (a) the identity and political status of the honorand and (b) the nature of the depicted symposion, i.e. small private events vs. big public gatherings. Similes and metaphors are mainly found in songs for Pindar’s aristocratic patrons, whereas brief descriptions of symposia as performance venues are mainly found in songs for tyrants, kings, and their milieu. Pindar’s symposia are small, peaceful, and sophisticated gatherings, distinguished from public festivals termed θαλίαι‎ and ἀγλαΐαι ἀστυνόμοι‎. Banquets and symposia at the courts of tyrants are neither big nor luxurious, but intimate and peaceful events. Pindaric sympotic imagery does not aim at prescribing the performance venue, but at harmonizing the tyrants’ ethos with the values of the various aristocracies in the Greek world.

Keywords:   metaphor, simile, imagery, performance, tyrants, aristocracy, ethos, thalia, festival, symposion

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