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Title: Momentary immortality : Greek praise poetry and the rhetoric of the extraordinary
Author: Meister, Felix Johannes
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 7499
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis takes as its starting point current views on the relationship between man and god in Archaic and Classical Greek literature, according to which mortality and immortality are primarily temporal concepts and, therefore, mutually exclusive. This thesis aims to show that this mutual exclusivity between mortality and immortality is emphasised only in certain poetic genres, while others, namely those centred on extraordinary achievements or exceptional moments in the life of a mortal, can reduce the temporal notion of immortality and emphasise instead the happiness, success, and undisturbed existence that characterise divine life. Here, the paradox of momentary immortality emerges as something attainable to mortals in the poetic representation of certain occasions. The chapters of this thesis pursue such notions of momentary immortality in the wedding ceremony, as presented through wedding songs, in celebrations for athletic victory, as presented through the epinician, and at certain stages of the tragic plot. In the chapter on the wedding song, the discussion focuses on explicit comparisons between the beauty of bride and bridegroom and that of heroes or gods, and between their happiness and divine bliss. The chapter on the epinician analyses the parallelism between the achievement of victory and the exploits of mythical heroes, and argues for a parallelism between the victory celebration and immortalisation. Finally, the chapter on tragedy examines how characters are perceived as godlike because of their beauty, success, or power, and discusses how these perceptions are exploited by the tragedians for certain effects. By examining features of a rhetoric of praise, this thesis is not concerned with the beliefs or expectations of the author, the recipient of praise, or the surrounding milieu. It rather intends to elucidate how moments conceived of as extraordinary are communicated in poetry.
Supervisor: Hutchinson, Gregory O. Sponsor: University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classical Greek ; Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; Latin ; Italic literatures,i.e.,Latin ; Greek lyric poetry ; immortality ; Pindar ; Sappho ; Greek tragedy ; Greek comedy ; epinician ; wedding song ; hymenaeus ; Greek religion