Aristotle as Poet: The Song for Hermias and Its Contexts by Andrew L. Ford

By Andrew L. Ford

Aristotle is mostly a thinker and as a theorist of poetry, yet he used to be additionally a composer of songs and verse. this is often the 1st complete examine of Aristotle's poetic task, reading his closing fragments with regards to the sooner poetic culture and to the literary tradition of his time. Its centerpiece is a research of the only whole ode to outlive, a music commemorating Hermias of Atarneus, Aristotle's partner's father and customer within the 340's BCE. This extraordinary textual content is related to have embroiled the thinker in fees of impiety and so is studied either from a literary viewpoint and in its political and non secular contexts.Aristotle's literary antecedents are studied with an exceptional fullness that considers the total variety of Greek poetic kinds, together with poems through Sappho, Pindar, and Sophocles, and prose texts besides. except its curiosity as a posh and sophisticated poem, the music for Hermias is noteworthy as one of many first Greek lyrics for which now we have great and early facts for the way and the place it was once composed, played, and acquired. It hence offers a chance to reconstruct how Greek lyric texts functioned as functionality items and the way they circulated and have been preserved. The ebook argues that Greek lyric poems make the most of being learn as scripts for performances that either formed and have been formed through the social events during which they have been played. the result's an intensive and wide-ranging research of a posh and engaging literary record that offers a fuller view of literature within the overdue classical age.

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Context in this sense is integral to interpreting the song for Hermias because it is not too much to say that the genre of a Greek poem was effectively the same as the occasions for which it was appropriate. The question of contexts of performance is thus tied to that of genre, and when we come to consider Aristotle’s trial we will have to ask how far his song’s meaning and genre changed when the lyric was brought into the courtroom. For the present, however, I want to pursue the idea of context and occasion as something projected by the poem, partly a reflection of the importance of social conventions in a still vital performative culture and partly a rhetorical construct, an imagined world and set of expectations that the performance itself brought about and fulfilled.

He spent seven years at the Macedonian court and finally returned to Athens (after a visit to his hometown) in 335. It was while Aristotle was in Pella in the late 340s that Hermias’s always precarious political situation turned perilous. The great king of Persia, now Artaxerxes III Ochus (reigned 358–338), became concerned that Hermias was intriguing with Philip of Macedon; Philip could use Atarneus as a foothold if he decided to attack Asia, as some Greeks were urging him to do (and as Alexander in fact did in 334).

Hence every reader/performer of this text ensured that the name of Persia lived in infamy, her impiety literally resounding again. Aristotle thus contrived for his Delphic monument a message that was at once authoritatively rooted to the spot and replayable, even portable. Our last observation is that it may have been fictional as well. Consider, for example, the epithet “bowbearing”: this may be taken to hint at Persian cowardice, if the bow be given its traditional force as a symbol of unheroic fighting—the antithesis of Homeric warfare at close quarters with swords and spears.

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