Pindar, Song, and Space

Pindar, Song, and Space : Towards a Lyric Archaeology

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A groundbreaking study of the interaction of poetry, performance, and the built environment in ancient Greece.

Winner of the PROSE Award for Best Book in Classics by the Association of American Publishers

In this volume, Richard Neer and Leslie Kurke develop a new, integrated approach to classical Greece: a "lyric archaeology" that combines literary and art-historical analysis with archaeological and epigraphic materials. At the heart of the book is the great poet Pindar of Thebes, best known for his magnificent odes in honor of victors at the Olympic Games and other competitions. Unlike the quintessentially personal genre of modern lyric, these poems were destined for public performance by choruses of dancing men. Neer and Kurke go further to show that they were also site-specific: as the dancers moved through the space of a city or a sanctuary, their song would refer to local monuments and landmarks. Part of Pindar's brief, they argue, was to weave words and bodies into elaborate tapestries of myth and geography and, in so doing, to re-imagine the very fabric of the city-state. Pindar's poems, in short, were tools for making sense of space.

Recent scholarship has tended to isolate poetry, art, and archaeology. But Neer and Kurke show that these distinctions are artificial. Poems, statues, bronzes, tombs, boundary stones, roadways, beacons, and buildings worked together as a "suite" of technologies for organizing landscapes, cityscapes, and territories. Studying these technologies in tandem reveals the procedures and criteria by which the Greeks understood relations of nearness and distance, "here" and "there"-and how these ways of inhabiting space were essentially political.

Rooted in close readings of individual poems, buildings, and works of art, Pindar, Song, and Space ranges from Athens to Libya, Sicily to Rhodes, to provide a revelatory new understanding of the world the Greeks built-and a new model for studying the ancient world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 480 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 30.48mm | 1,134g
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • 74 Illustrations, color; 31 Illustrations, black and white
  • 1421429780
  • 9781421429786
  • 1,857,070

Table of contents

Note on Abbreviations, Texts, and Transliteration
Introduction. The Propinquity of Things
Part I. Orientations and Local Spaces
Chapter 1. Two Spatial Technologies: The Map and the Chorus
Chapter 2. Statues, Songs, and Spaces
Chapter 3. The Strength of Equipment and the Radiance of Song: Collaborative Effects
Chapter 4. Fr. 75 SM and the Politics of Athenian Space
Part II. Pindar's Cyrene: Pythians 4, 5, and 9
Chapter 5. Cyrene, a Pindaric Schema
Chapter 6. The City, the Body, and the Eye
Part III. Pindar's Greece: Olympian 6 and the Spaces of Tyranny
Chapter 7. Epigraphy, Architecture, Song: Olympian 6 and Other Gifts
Chapter 8. Pindar's Transports
Coda. Towards a Lyric Archaeology
Appendix. Dating the Porch of the Geloan Treasury at Olympia
Index Locorum
General Index
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About Richard Neer

Richard Neer is the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor in Art History, Cinema and Media Studies, and the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture. Leslie Kurke is the Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy.
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