For Addie
ἐγὼ δέ κέ τοι ἰδέω χάριν ἤματα πάντα.


The present volume argues for “discordant harmony” (concordia discors) as an aesthetic principle where classical Athenian literature addresses politics in the idiom of sexual desire. Its approach is an untried one for such a topic. Drawing on theorists of the sociality of language, it examines various ways in which erôs, consuming, destabilizing desire, became a vehicle for exploring and exploiting dissonance within the songs Athenians sang about themselves. Thus it shows how societal tension and instability could register as an ideologically charged polyphony in works like the Periclean Funeral Oration, Aristophanes’ Knights and Assemblywomen, and Xenophon’s Symposium.
This book began life as a dissertation submitted in 1997 to the Department of Classics, Yale University. One chapter has appeared as an article (Scholtz 2004); various parts of it have been delivered as talks at the APA and elsewhere. Thanks go first of all to my dissertation advisor, Victor Bers, who originally steered me toward the topic, and whose friendship, advice, benevolent prodding, unstinting vetting, and constant encouragement did more than get me through when the going got rough. It offered and continues to offer an inspiring example of what dedicated mentoring is all about. Thanks go also to Gregory Nagy, Leonard Muellner, the anonymous reader for the Center for Hellenic Studies, and the editorial staff of the Center for their comments, patience, support, and expert editing and production. Readers of and/or responders to various parts of the manuscript and ideas contained therein include Binghamton University colleagues Saul Levin, Gerald Kadish (who provided invaluable comments on chapter 4), Daniel Williman, Zoja Pavlovskis-Petit, Tony Preus, and Kevin Lacy; David Konstan, whose comments on my dissertation were crucial to its development into a book; and Kurt Raaflaub and Deborah Boedeker, former directors of the Center for Hellenic Studies, where parts of the book were researched and written on a Summer Scholars fellowship in 1999. I also wish to thank Harpur College at Binghamton University for a Dean’s Research Semester Award for spring 2003; without that, this book could not have been completed. Thanks, too, to colleagues from Wabash College for their advice and support: Leslie and Joe Day, John Fischer, and David Kubiak. Chief thanks go, however, to my wife and children, in particular to Addie, my wife, whose loving support and epic patience I can never repay. To her I dedicate this volume: kharin oida.