Sappho’s Parachoral Monody

TitleSappho’s Parachoral Monody
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPower, T
EditorFoster, M, Kurke, L, Weiss, NA
Ancient AuthorsSappho Lyr. (TLG 0009)
Book TitleGenre in Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry: Theories and Models
Series TitleStudies in Archaic and Classical Greek Song 4; Mnemosyne Supplements 428

In this chapter, I propose that certain songs of Sappho that have been regarded as choral may in fact have been monodic, involving choruses as “characters” represented or quoted within a solo song rather than as actual performers. I introduce the concept of “parachorality” to describe such representations, and Sappho’s more general tendency to engage with choreia to create emotional, thematic, rhetorical, and narrative effects within her monodic poetry. I explore the possibility that fragment 17, a song generally regarded as an authentic choral cult hymn to Hera delivered at the goddess’ sanctuary at Messon, was actually a monodic simulation of choral performance, the goal of which would have been to add religious and rhetorical bolster—“choral value,” in the words of Leslie Kurke—to Sappho’s solo prayer, probably for the return of her brother Charaxos. The paper concludes with a discussion of some parachoral elements in Alcaeus fragments 129 and 130b. []


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