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Title: Epic situation and the politics of exhortation : political uses of poetic tradition in archaic Greek poetry
Author: Irwin, E.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2000
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The thesis begins by exploring a central problem: while the genre of elegiac exhortation poetry both invites and itself exploits analogies between, on the one hand, the immediate audience and performance setting of the poem and, on the other, the broader civic identities of that audience and larger civic context to which they belong. And yet, the circumscribed social setting for which it was produced, the private aristocratic symposion, complicates the interpretation of seemingly all-embracing political terms such as city, fatherland, country. The thesis challenges the prevailing orthodoxy with the questions, who constitute the city, what expressions of attachment to it mean, and how such expressions function within their poetic and larger social context. By asking what it means for symposiasts to recite in the first person exhortations evocative of those spoken by the heroes of epic, the thesis reveals the elitist claims and pretensions implicit in this heroic role-playing, pretensions which are themselves deeply political. The thesis culminates in an examination of the explicitly political poetry and career of Solon, providing a much-needed study of this figure whose dual career as poet and lawgiver epitomises the stakes involved in the appropriation of poetic traditions in this period. A close reading of Solon 4 demonstrates how the poem carefully situates itself in an adversarial relationship to the martial poetic traditions of epic and elegiac exhortation, while positively embracing the themes of Hesiod and Odyssean epic. The indications of a political stance inherent in these poetic 'situations' provides the basis for a more wide-ranging discussion of the relationship of Solon's poetry to his political career. It concludes by re-evaluating the relationship of Solon to tyranny, and, finally, by offering an interpretation of the importance of Homeric poetry in the political agenda of the Athenian tyrants who followed him.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available