The Hidden ChorusEchoes of Genre in Tragic Lyric

The Hidden ChorusEchoes of Genre in Tragic Lyric

L. A. Swift

Print publication date: 2010

ISBN: 9780199577842

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

Choral performance permeated Greek life on every level, from private weddings and funerals to large‐scale religious festivals, yet the relationship between these ritual choruses and the better known choruses of tragedy has never been systematically examined. This book represents the first detailed study of the interaction between tragic and lyric choral song. It aims to enrich our understanding of the socio‐cultural position of both tragedy and lyric poetry, exploring the roles that these types of song played within the ritual life of the community. Thus through the connections between tragic and non‐tragic lyric, we not only gain insights into individual plays but also develop a broader understanding of the musical culture of the Greek polis. The first two chapters deal with methodological groundwork, exploring theoretical approaches to genre, and investigating lyric performance in fifth‐century Athens. The bulk of the book consists of detailed discussions of five lyric genres, with chapters on paian, epinikion, partheneia, hymenaios, and Thrēnos. Each chapter includes a discussion of the genre in question, an overview of its use in tragedy, and detailed case‐studies of two or three plays where the lyric references are particularly rich and complex. An appendix to the book contains a comprehensive list of generic interaction in Greek tragedy, with a brief guide to how these references can be identified.