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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
February 2024
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Book description

In this volume, Carolyn M. Laferrière examines Athenian vase-paintings and reliefs depicting the gods most frequently shown as musicians to reconstruct how images suggest the sounds of the music the gods made. Incorporating insights from recent work in sensory studies, she considers formal analysis together with literary and archaeological evidence to explore the musical culture of Athens. Laferrière argues that images could visually suggest the sounds of the gods' music. This representational strategy, whereby sight and sound are blurred, conveys the 'unhearable' nature of their music: because it cannot be physically heard, it falls to the human imagination to provide its sounds and awaken viewers' multisensory engagement with the images. Moreover, when situated within their likely original contexts, the objects establish a network of interaction between the viewer, the visualized music, and the landscape, all of which determined how divine music was depicted, perceived, and reciprocated. Laferrière demonstrates that participation in the gods' musical performances offered worshippers a multisensory experience of divine presence.

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