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Title: Self-referential poetics : embedded song and the performance of poetry in Greek literature
Author: Harden, Sarah Joanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 7581
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is a study of embedded song in ancient Greek narrative poetry. The introduction defines the terminology (embedded song is defined as the depiction of the performance of a poem within a larger poem, such as the songs of Demodocus in Homer’s Odyssey) and sets the study in the context of recent narratological work done by scholars of Classical literature. This section of the thesis also contains a brief discussion of embedded song in the Homeric epics, which will form the background of all later examples of the motif. Chapter 1 deals with embedded song in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod’s Theogony. It is argued that the occurrence of embedded song across these poems indicates that the motif is a traditional feature of early Greek hexameter poetry, while the possibility of “inter-textual” allusion between these poems is considered, but finally dismissed. Chapter 2 focuses on Pindar, Bacchylides and Corinna, and explores how lyric poets use this motif in the various sub-genres of Greek lyric. In epinician poetry, it is argued that embedded song is used as a strategy of praise and also to boost the authority of the poet-narrator by association with the embedded performers, who can be seen to have in each case a particular source of authority distinct from that of the poet narrator. Chapter 3 considers the Hellenistic poets Apollonius Rhodius and Theocritus, and how their interest in depicting oral poetry meshes with their identity as literate and literary poets. Appendix I gives a list of all the examples of embedded song I have found in Greek poetry. Appendix II gives an account of Pindar’s Hymn to Zeus, a highly fragmentary poem which almost certainly contained an embedded song, analysing this as an example of the difficulties thrown up by lyric fragments for a study of embedded narratives.
Supervisor: Allan, William Sponsor: University College, Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; embedded song ; poetics ; performance ; narratology ; narrative ; epic ; lyric ; Homer ; Pindar ; Homeric Hymns ; Bacchylides ; Theocritus ; Apollonius Rhodius