Choreia and aesthetics in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo: the performance of the Delian maidens (lines 156-64)

TitleChoreia and aesthetics in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo: the performance of the Delian maidens (lines 156-64)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsPeponi, A-E
Ancient AuthorsHymni Homerici Hymn. (TLG 0013)
JournalClassical Antiquity
Pagination39-70 ill.

This article focuses on a set of problems involving a controversial portion of the HHA (lines 156––64) that describes the performance of the Delian chorus in a rare instance of early performance criticism. First, the two variants for a key noun in line 162, bambaliastus and krembaliastus, are discussed. Skepticism is expressed about the applicability to this scene of the first variant (favored by numerous scholars). On the contrary, krembaliastus——the suitability of which has not been discussed in detail, even by scholars who seem to have favored it——can make good sense. Literary and iconographic evidence makes it plausible that krembaliastus denotes the act of generating through percussion devices called krembala (similar or identical to krotala) rhythmic patterns meant to govern stylized movement, what the Greeks called schêêmata. The marked term krembaliastus was probably employed to evoke a characteristic trait of the highly skilled Deliades. Furthermore, as vocal and kinetic activities were inextricably linked in choral practices, they are ultimately conceptualized as part of the same unified expressive mechanism (here denoted as φθέγγεσθαι 164). The author also questions the conventional interpretation of mimeisthai (163) as ““mimicking,”” instead reading it as ““representation,”” involving the evocation of the essence of an entity but not necessarily exact reproduction of its formal details. Finally the essay argues that the Delian chorus' art of ““knowing how to represent the voices and the rhythmic patterns of all people”” designates the perfection of choral performance, as an all-inclusive enactment that forms a powerful trans-local bond. []


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