Ancient Greek Writers on their Musical Past. Studies in Greek Musical Historiography

TitleAncient Greek Writers on their Musical Past. Studies in Greek Musical Historiography
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBarker, A
Ancient AuthorsPseudo-Plutarchus Biogr., Phil. (TLG 0094), Heraclides Ponticus Phil. (TLG 1409), Hellanicus Hist. (TLG 0539), Aristoxenus Mus. (TLG 0088), Ephorus Hist. (TLG 0536), Glaucus Hist. (TLG 4391), Athenaeus Soph. (TLG 0008)
Series TitleSyncrisis: Biblioteca di studi e ricerche sull'antichità classica
Number of Pages120 pp.
PublisherFabrizio Serra editore
CityPisa; Roma

There is no genre of ancient Greek or Latin literature in which there are no allusions to music, and specifically to music of times earlier than that of the writers themselves. Even when such references occur among the witticisms of a comic dramatist or the allegories of a Christian theologian, they all represent themselves, at least in part, as records of historical facts. But not all the statements about music which we find in this enormous collection of texts are equally reliable; it may be very difficult to identify the evidence on which the authors themselves were relying, and to pick out the route by which it was transmitted to them down through the centuries, at any stage of which distortions may have been introduced into the tradition. This book makes no attempt to consider the whole range of Greek music-historical writings, but it is a preliminary foray into this area, which deserves much closer and more sustained attention. It is devoted to a selection of works written in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of which survive only in fragmentary form, as quotations and paraphrases in a text dating from the Roman imperial era, the De musica insecurely attributed to Plutarch. The author examines some of the peculiarities of the De musica and then he moves forward into the Hellenistic period, discussing a number of fragmentary sources which again are mostly preserved in a later text, this time the Deipnosophistai of Athenaeus. At the end, after a few comments on Athenaeus' treatment of certain pieces of lyric poetry, the book deals with musical allusi