Observing Genre in Archaic Greek Skolia and Vase-Painting

in The Look of Lyric: Greek Song and the Visual
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Abstract

This paper reexamines the generic morphology of the skolion melos, offering a more focused definition of the genre than has previously been admitted. As the accumulated evidence shows, the skolion was recognized as a distinct lyric genre in antiquity, defined largely by its sympotic occasion, but also a tendency toward gnomic content and a unique musical style based on Aeolic meters and the Lydian and Ionian modes. This generic tradition was projected into the distant past when the quasi-mythical Terpander is said to have invented the skolion. Images of performance in archaic red-figure vase-painting, which represents our most important source of evidence for the skolion’s performative matrix before the classical and early Hellenistic periods, are consistent with later descriptions of the genre and would thus appear to place the pan-Hellenic concept as far back as the sixth century BCE. It is argued that Terpander’s association with the invention of the sympotic skolion and barbitos is illustrated on a red-figure cup by the Epeleios Painter made around 500 BCE.

The Look of Lyric: Greek Song and the Visual

Studies in Archaic and Classical Greek Song, vol. 1

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