The Myth of Lycurgus in Aeschylus, Naevius, and beyond


Lycurgus, the king of the Thracian tribe of the Edonians, is the hero of the first attested Greek myth about the resistance against the god Dionysus. According to many scholars, Lycurgus was worshipped as a god among the Thracians, Phrygians, and Syrians. His myth might have been used as a hieros logos in the initiations into the ‘Bacchic’ and ‘Orphic’ mysteries in Greece and Rome. This book focuses on Aeschylus’ tragic tetralogy Lycurgeia and Naevius’ tragedy Lycurgus, the two most important texts that shaped the tradition of the Lycurgus myth, and offers a new and, at times, radically different interpretation of these fragmentary plays and related cultural texts.

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Bartłomiej Bednarek, Ph.D. (2015), is a post-doc fellow at the University of Warsaw. He has published books and articles on religion and mythology, literature and theatre, gender and sexuality in ancient Greece and Rome.
List of Figures

Shape of This Book

1 The Lycurgus Myth before Theatre
 1.1  Iliad 6.130–140: Who Are You, My Dear?
 1.2  Eumelus and the Early Dionysian Saga
 1.3  Presuppositions of the Homeric Passage: All that We Will Never Know about Life, Death, and Lycurgus
 1.4  Stesichorus’ fr. 276 (Finglass): The Gift of Dionysus
 1.5  Conclusions

2 Aeschylus’ Lycurgeia
 2.1  Introduction
 2.2  Tragic Trilogy
 2.3  The End of Lycurgus in Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Related Texts
 2.4  Orpheus in Fabula
 2.5  Reconstruction of the Lycurgeia
 2.6  Lycurgus satyricus
 2.7  Appendix I: Euripides’ Bacchae and Its Role in Dionysian Imagery
 2.8  Appendix II: Between Lycurgus’ and Pentheus’ Iconography

3 Naevius’ Lycurgus
 3.1  Fragments
 3.2  Beyond Fragments
 3.3  An Outline of the Plot
 3.4  The Readership of Naevius

4 Lost in Translation: Lycurgus between Aeschylus, Naevius, Poetry, and the Visual Arts
 4.1  From Aeschylus to Naevius
 4.2  Aeschylus’ Afterlife
 4.3  Plays with Lycurgus in the Title
 4.4  Iconography
 4.5  Instead of Conclusions
 4.6  Appendix: The Location of Lycurgus’ Kingdom and the Chronology of His Myth

5 Lycurgus monocrepis
 5.1  Introduction
 5.2  Lycurgus’ Self-Mutilation in Greek Texts
 5.3  Lycurgus’ Self-Mutilation in Latin Texts
 5.4  The Iconography of Lycurgus monocrepis
 5.5  The History of Research
 5.6  Conclusions

General Conclusions

Scholars, students, and all readers interested in ancient Greek and Roman religion, theatre and literature.