Alcman and the cosmos of Sparta

TitleAlcman and the cosmos of Sparta
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsFerrari, G
Ancient AuthorsAlcman Lyr. (TLG 0291)
Number of Pagesviii + 184 pp. ill.
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
CityChicago
ISBN9780226668673
Abstract

The Partheneion, or “maiden song,” composed in the seventh century BCE by the Spartan poet Alcman, is the earliest substantial example of a choral lyric. A provocative reinterpretation of the Partheneion and its broader context, Alcman and the Cosmos of Sparta excavates the poem’s invocations of widespread and long-lived cosmological ideas that cast the universe as perfectly harmonious and invested its workings with an ethical dimension.

Moving far beyond standard literary interpretations, Gloria Ferrari uncovers this astral symbolism by approaching the poem from several angles to brilliantly reconstruct the web of ancient drama, music, religion, painting, and material culture in which it is enmeshed. She shows, for example, that by stringing together images of horses, stars, and birds, the poem evokes classical antiquity’s beloved dance of the constellations. Instrumental in shaping the structure of the lyric, this dance symbolizes the cosmic order reflected in the order of the state, which the chorus would have enacted in a ritual performance of the song. [http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/A/bo5625340.html]

Review(s)

BMCR 2009.10.59 A. J. Podlecki

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