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October 2009


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Thu, 22 Oct 2009 12:03:34 -0500
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The Cambridge Companion to Greek Lyric. Edited by FELIX BUDELMANN. 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. xxii + 457. Cloth, 
$110.00. ISBN 978–0–521–84944–9.

Order this text for $101.54 from Amazon.com using this link and benefit 
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Previously published CJ Online reviews are at 

CJ Online 2009.10.05

The last decade or so has seen a profusion of books under the heading of 
Companion, not only to Classical authors and subjects, but also in other 
areas. The impetus can probably be attributed in part to the difficulty 
encountered by non-specialists in coming to grips with the bewildering 
number of publications in a given field. Most Companions, therefore, do not 
seek to break new ground, and the one under review falls into this 
category. As the editor states in the Preface, “all chapters were written 
with non-experts in mind.”

An 18-page Introduction by the editor is followed by contributions for the 
most part by different authors; a 2-page chronology of the poets involved; 
an 8-page list of editions, commentaries and English translations; a 4-page 
glossary of terms commonly occurring in the volume; an extensive 
bibliography of works cited (pp. 400–48); and a 9-page index. Apart from 
the Introduction and an Epilogue by Michael Silk, the intervening pages are 
divided into three sections entitled “Contents and Topics,” “Poets 
and Traditions” and “Reception.” The first section covers such topics 
as genre, occasion, performance, politics, gender, language, meter, 
symposium and the relationship between lyric and epic. These contributions 
are uniformly good and provide an excellent overview.

The second section presents real obstacles to the contributors. It is not 
too difficult to deal with Anacreon and the Anacreontea in 12 pages, but to 
deal with Simonides, Pindar and Bacchylides in 20 is a formidable task. 
Here the contributor, Hayden Pelliccia, decides to devote the first half to 
“How they came to write their poems” and “The survival of the 
epinikia”, and then discusses one example from each poet: PMG 543 for 
Simonides, O. 9.1–27 for Pindar and Ode 13.100–40 for Bacchylides. This 
selection obviously passes over huge amounts of what has survived from the 
three poets, but given the restrictions on space it is hard to quarrel with 
the approach taken. Similar omissions occur in the other treatments. Under 
Sappho, for example, her ode to Aphrodite (fr. 1) is not even mentioned.

The controversy over the interpretation or the text of some of the passages 
examined also presents a problem for the contributors because of 
restrictions on space. In some instances the reader is informed that other 
explanations are possible and is directed in a note to relevant 
publications, but sometimes this procedure is not followed. An example of 
the latter is Eveline Krummen’s treatment of Alcman fr. 1. This is a 
notoriously difficult poem and obviously not every difficulty can be 
discussed, but the reader is given the false impression that the poem’s 
interpretation is fairly straightforward. For example, many who have 
written on the poem would not state baldly that in vv. 45 ff. Agido is 
compared to the prize-winning horse and that “Agido is better, 
Hagesichora … always follows behind” (pp. 191–2).

For me personally, the most illuminating contribution in this section is 
the last, “Timotheus the New Musician,” by Eric Csapo and Peter Wilson. 
This is an area to which I have not devoted much attention, as is probably 
true of many who work on Greek lyric, and I learned much from it.

The final section is on the reception of Greek lyric from the Hellenistic 
period to the 20th century. The last two parts, from the Renaissance on, 
make interesting reading, but it could be argued that those pages might 
have been put to better use by expanding the treatment of some of the poets 
in the second section.

In conclusion, this book will be of great help to students and also to 
instructors who are not specialists in Greek lyric. All the Greek printed 
is translated and there are ample notes. For the convenience of the reader 
I append a list of the contributors, chapter titles and page numbers.

University of Western Ontario

Felix Budelmann, “Introducing Greek lyric” (1–18)
Chris Carey, “Genre, occasion and performance” (21–38)
Simon Hornblower, “Greek lyric and the politics and sociologies of 
archaic and classical Greek communities” (39–57)
Eva Stehle, “Greek lyric and gender” (58–71)
Mark Griffith, “Greek lyric and the place of humans in the world” 
Barbara Graziosi and Johannes Haubold, “Greek lyric and early Greek 
literary history” (95–113)
Giovan Battista D’Alessio, “Language and pragmatics” (114–29)
Luigi Battezzato, “Metre and music” (130–46)
Chris Carey, “Iambos” (149–67)
Antonio Aloni, “Elegy” (168–88)
Eveline Krummen, “Alcman, Stesichorus and Ibycus” (189–203)
Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, “Alcaeus and Sappho” (204–26)
Felix Budelmann, “Anacreon and the Anacreontea” (227–39)
Hayden Pelliccia, “Simonides, Pindar and Bacchylides” (240–62)
Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, “Ancient Greek popular song” (263–76)
Eric Csapo and Peter Wilson, “Timotheus the New Musician” (277–93)
Silvia Barbantani, “Lyric in the Hellenistic period and beyond” 
Alessandro Barchiesi, “Lyric in Rome” (319–35)
Pantelis Michelakis, “Greek lyric from the Renaissance to the eighteenth 
century” (336–51)
Margaret Williamson, “Sappho and Pindar in the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries” (352–70)
Michael Silk, “Lyric and lyric perspectives, ancient and modern” 

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