Echoes of the Rejection of the Aulos in Augustan Poetry

in Greek and Roman Musical Studies
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Abstract

Athenian elites of the late fifth century BC rebelled against aulos-playing as part of the school curriculum and launched a socio-cultural campaign against the instrument. Echoes of this ‘anti-aulos’ crusade reverberated in literature in the centuries to follow as motifs of hostility towards aulos music. Ovid (Fasti 6.657-710) and Propertius (2.30b) engage in this discourse, largely disregarding the motives of the Athenians for spurning the instrument; instead they embed the rejection myths in their poetical programmes in the context of their precarious relationship with Augustan authority. This paper argues that while both poets oppose the rejection of the doublepipes, they do so for entirely different reasons. Although the negative image of the aulos is present in Latin literary sources, it is largely disconnected from the substantial role of the instrument in Roman musical culture.

Echoes of the Rejection of the Aulos in Augustan Poetry

in Greek and Roman Musical Studies

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References

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Figures

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    Rehearsal for a performance; an aulos-player is wearing a characteristic long robe. Mosaic from Casa del Poeta tragico, end of the 1st century BC, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, inv. no. 9986 (after PPM 1993 IV, 546, fig. 35).
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    Concert scene, probably after an early-Hellenistic model; fresco from Herculaneum, around 25 BC, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, inv. no. 9021 (courtesy of the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli / Parco Archeologico di Pompei).
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    Euterpe holding an aulos furnished with an intricate mechanism; fresco from Triclinium A, north wall, Murecine, around 62 AD, Grande Palestra, Pompeii, inv. no. 85182 (courtesy of the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli / Parco Archeologico di Pompei).

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