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Title: Erotic epigram : a study of motifs
Author: Kanellou, M.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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My thesis forms the first book-length project to examine together Greek epigrams which date from the Hellenistic to the early Byzantine period within larger hermeneutic frames. It examines the life-cycle of four motifs, especially within the erotic subgenre, in order to reassess the genre’s inter-/ intra-generic dynamics and the factors that influenced its development through the centuries. The first chapter is devoted to epigrams where the lamp takes on various roles. Through their detailed analysis a fundamental narrative technique of the whole subgenre is disclosed: objects are employed to portray emotions. I also uncover the seriocomic tone of these poems. Their seriousness derives from the exploration of emotions in a plausible manner. However, the lover’s reaction can be judged as humorous by a detached reader. In the second chapter, I study epigrams that employ sea/ nautical metaphors in order to explore the intra-generic and intra-textual dynamics in the use of metaphorical language within the subgenre: the epigrammatists use metaphors to approach a topic from a variety of angles, while simultaneously securing narrative economy because metaphors can create multiple associations. Moreover, I explore through these metaphors the complex intra-generic dynamics of poetic rivalry and imitation. In the third chapter, I shed light on the development of the motif of the comparison of a woman with Aphrodite. I exemplify how a set of intra-generic, chronological, religious, and political factors influence its transformations in the work of different epigrammatists. Furthermore, I examine the goddess’ use as a metonymy and its semantic flexibility. In the fourth chapter, I study Eros’ representations in art and epigrams and unveil the ‘common codes’ existing in these two media for the crystallisation of emotions and ideas on love through the god’s portrayals. I analyse in detail three depictions of him, whose roots can be detected back to lyric poetry, in order to demonstrate how the epigrammatists handled and refreshed the inherited material. My research concludes with the study of the multidimensional use of the plural love gods (the Erotes). My thesis looks deep into the inner-workings of ancient Greek epigram, especially of its erotic subtype, and proves how sophisticated these poems are. It explores the complex combination of the elements of stability, adaptability, and change which played a key-role in the genre’s development, and moreover, significantly enriches our understanding of individual epigrams as it locates them within larger frames of interpretation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available