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23 - Stesichorus and Ibycus: Plain Tales from the Western Front (2012)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2021

Ewen Bowie
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

The conceptions and perceptions of their past found in both individuals and communities is very frequently related to place.1 That this was so in many places in the Greek world of the Roman empire is clear from (e.g.) Plutarch’s life of Theseus, which is replete with references to archaic and classical Athenian topography, and on a much larger scale Pausanias’ Guide to Hellas. This sort of writing did not even yet exist, far less survive, for mainland Greece of the archaic period, though the evocative power of place names is extensively exploited in the Homeric poems, and by such references as that of the Spartan elegiac poet Tyrtaeus to Ithome,2 or by an unknown elegiac poet from Laconia to Taygetus and Platanistous.3 There can be little doubt that in Greek communities throughout mainland Greece, the islands and Asia Minor, oral traditions about the pasts of these communities would often be attached to places or monuments. For example, the monument to ‘The Seven’, now known to have existed in Argos, probably as early as the sixth century, would have been a catalyst for stories about the expedition against Thebes by Argive warriors of the heroic age.4

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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