‘Glancing Seductively through Windows’: The Look of Praxilla fr. 8 (PMG 754)

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

This chapter advances a new interpretation of Praxilla fr. 8 (PMG 754) contradicting the traditional view that it is a racy sympotic song. This intriguing address to a woman gazing seductively through a window is preserved by Hephaestion. The beginning of the fragment is also commonly thought to recur on an inscribed drinking cup, so much so that the text of the manuscripts is sometimes emended to align with the inscription and the poem is interpreted as a racy skolion to fit the symposiastic context in which the vase shows the line being sung. The present paper questions the notion that Hephaestion’s couplet is related to the inscription and the related assumption that Praxilla’s poem was composed in the first instance for sympotic performance—with all its implications for the understanding the fragment as a lascivious utterance and of Praxilla as a hetaira. Instead, it is argued, the fragment is more likely to be the beginning of a wedding song.

The Look of Lyric: Greek Song and the Visual

Studies in Archaic and Classical Greek Song, vol. 1

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