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The Experience of PoetryFrom Homer's Listeners to Shakespeare's Readers$
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Derek Attridge

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198833154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198833154.001.0001

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Homeric Greece: Courts and Singers

Homeric Greece: Courts and Singers

(p.11) 1Homeric Greece: Courts and Singers
The Experience of Poetry

Derek Attridge

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the pre-history of Western poetry as revealed in the two Homeric epics, which contain vivid representations of oral poets in archaic Greece performing epic poems to court audiences as well some other evocations of poetic song. By examining these representations, some conclusions are reached about the nature of the performances and the experience of the audiences. Although this verse was different in important ways from the poetry of later periods, notably in its association with music and the practice of composition-in-performance, the effects on hearers suggest a similar pleasurable response to its poetic art. The poems attributed to Hesiod from around the same time reveal a different performance context, that of the poetry competition, and imply a more sharply defined singer. The trope of the Muses in both poetic corpuses throws light on the role and perception of the poet-singer.

Keywords:   Homer, Hesiod, Muses, epic, court, archaic Greece, audience, poetry competition

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