Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 December 2021
My subject falls on the frontier between acrostichs and the like, whose nature is entirely to do with words, and indeed in most cases, inevitably, with written words, and the performance culture of the symposium, in which verbal entertainment and communication1 is only one part of a much wider range of performances and interactions – music, dancing, gift-giving, seducing. Much of that wider range falls into what is referred to in Greek as παίζειν, ‘to play’, which has emboldened me to look for my subject in this quarter. What I discuss here also falls within the activities that in English are called ‘teasing’, and for which again the Greek term παίζειν can sometimes be used. That is not to say that the range of meaning of παίζειν is co-extensive with that of the English word ‘tease’, and I am very conscious that my presumptions and interpretations are in danger of being language-specific, because different forms of activity that in English are all referred to by the verb or noun ‘tease’ are distinguished in some languages.