Music and the Muses

Music and the Muses : The Culture of Mousike in the Classical Athenian City

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What was the role of mousike, the realm of the Muses, in Greek life? More wide-ranging in its implications than the English 'music', mousike lay at the heart of Greek culture, and was often indeed synonymous with culture. In its commonest form, it represented for the Greeks a seamless complex of music, poetic word, and physical movement, encompassing a vast array of performances - from small-scale entertainment in the private home to elaborate performances involving the entire community. Yet the history of the field, particularly in anglophone scholarship, has been hitherto narrowly conceived, and the broader cultural significance of mousike largely ignored. Focusing mainly on classical Athens these new and specially commissioned essays analyse the theory and practice of musical performance in a variety of social contexts and demonstrate the centrality of mousike to the values and ideology of the polis. The so-called 'new musical revolution' in late fifth-century Athens receives serious treatment in this volume for the first time. A major theme of the book is the musical and mousike dimension of Greek religion, rarely analysed in its own right. The ethical and philosophical aspects of Athenian mousike are another central concern, with the figure of the dancing philosopher as an emblem of music's role in intellectual life. The book as a whole provides an integrated cultural analysis of central aspects of Greek mousike, which will be of interest to classical scholars, to cultural historians, and to anyone concerned with understanding the power of music as a cultural phenomenon.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 452 pages
  • 141.2 x 221.5 x 29.7mm | 766.58g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199242399
  • 9780199242399

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Author Information

Peter Wilson is University Lecturer in Classics and Fellow of New College, Oxford

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Review quote

This is an important collection of essays - for scholars, certainly, and for those interested in Athenian culture and society. The Journal of Classics Teaching

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