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In: Voice and Voices in Antiquity
Volume Editor: Deborah Beck
This edited volume, arising from the 2019 conference “Orality and Literacy: Repetition,” explores some of the many forms and uses of repetition, in poetry, philosophy, and inscriptions, from Homeric epic through the Latin novel and the Gospels to reception in the twentieth century. All human communication depends on repeating signs that are comprehensible to the speaker and the addressee. Yet “repetition” takes many specific forms, in different performance contexts, time periods, and literary genres. Repetition may operate within one utterance, or across several times, places, and artists. The relationship between two repeated utterances cannot always be determined with certainty. But repetition offers exciting ways to understand the communicative process in oral and literate contexts across the ancient world.
In: Repetition, Communication, and Meaning in the Ancient World
In: Orality, Literacy and Performance in the Ancient World
In: Between Orality and Literacy: Communication and Adaptation in Antiquity
Author: Deborah Beck


Human beings in epic similes often rely on forms of specialized expertise to make new things and to create order in the world around them. The ways that the similes in a given epic poem represent craft and technology convey fundamental points about the larger world view of that poem in relation to human beings and the contours of epic poetry. A simile featuring a singer or poet in particular invites the audience of a poem to draw parallels between the musical simile and the epic poem in which it appears. The single musical simile in the Aeneid, 7.699-702, creates a portrait of the limits of human agency, the nature of group identity and musical performance, and the qualities of the Aeneid as an epic poem. The themes and modes of presentation in this simile are characteristic of the ‘song’ that Vergil has created with his own Aeneid.

In: Greek and Roman Musical Studies