Collins, Derek. 2004. Master of the Game: Competition and Performance in Greek Poetry. Hellenic Studies Series 7. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_CollinsD.Master_of_the_Game.2004.
10. Symposiasts versus Rhapsodes
Μοῦσα· σὺ γὰρ πάσης πείρατ᾽ ἔχεις σοφίης.
Muse, for you hold the limits of all poetic skill.
μή με δίδασκ᾽· οὔτοι τηλίκος εἰμὶ μαθεῖν.
It is easier to produce bad from good than good from bad.
—Do not teach me; I am not so young as to learn.
edere, materia conveniente modis.
par erat inferior uersus; risisse Cupido
dicitur atque unum surripuisse pedem.
I was preparing to sing about arms and violent wars in heroic measure,
with material suitable to the mode.
The second verse was equal; but Cupid is said to have laughed
and to have stolen a foot.
Here the point is made directly that the patron god of elegy, Cupid, is himself responsible for modifying the hexameter and thereby upsetting the heroic agenda begun by the first line. The voice of the poet further describes the metrical and thematic lightness that the presence of the pentameter gives to his verses (1.1.17–20):
attenuat neruos proximus ille meos.
nec mihi materia est numeris leuioribus apta,
aut puer aut longas compta puella comas.
When a new page rose up well with the first verse,
that second one weakened my strength.
My subject is not suitable for lighter measures,
neither a boy nor a girl adorned with long hair.
ferrea cum uestris bella ualete modis.
cingere litorea flauentia tempora myrto,
Musa per undenos emodulanda pedes.
Let my work rise up in six feet, and fall in five;
farewell to cruel wars with your measures.
Surround the golden temples with shore-loving myrtle,
Muse, who ought to be set to eleven feet.
Warfare and elegy never mix, at least ideally, and Ovid is giving form to a sympotic theme that began centuries earlier with Xenophanes (discussed below). The mention of myrtle of course recalls the myrtle branch typically passed around by guests at symposia, and is now intended to adorn the head of the sympotic Muse. But what draws our attention is whether the metrical, as opposed to the thematic, antithesis between the elegy and hexameter, which is so manifest in Ovid, remained fully implicit among the Greek elegists. Pigres and Theognis suggest that perhaps it did not.
στῆσε δ᾽ ἄγων ἵν᾽ ᾽Αθηναίων ἵσταντο φάλαγγες.
Ajax led twelve ships from Salamis,
and he stationed them where stood the phalanxes of the Athenians.
These verses ignited much dispute in antiquity for a variety of reasons. According to Strabo, either Peisistratus or Solon was responsible for inserting the lines into the text of Homer.  But we should be cautious in deciphering what this means. What is most likely meant is that Peisistratus or Solon had rhapsodes like the Homeridae incorporate these lines into their texts and then perform them regularly. Perhaps the rhapsodes were commissioned to compose the lines themselves, along the lines of a rhapsode like Cynaethus (discussed in Part III), although Solon was certainly not incapable of composing hexameters himself (see below). In a later tradition, probably derived from Strabo, Peisistratus was further credited with the arrangement of the books of Homer.  The crucial point is that performing rhapsodes would have authorized the pro-Athenian claim that the Salaminians, led by Ajax, were numbered among the Athenian ranks.
ἔκ τ᾽ Αἰγειρούσσης Νισαίης τε Τριπόδων τε
Ajax led ships from Salamis and Polichne
and from Aegeirousse, Nisaea, and the Tripodoi
Τhis geographically-reconfigured version locates the youths supposedly led by Ajax in Megarean-controlled territory. Yet these verses, if genuine, are not just an expression of local patriotism.  Rather, we must consider whether they imply that the Megareans held their own rhapsodic performances, which were meant, at least as far as the two lines above were concerned, to rival the larger, more centralized performances and thus the political claims being made at Athens. The Homeridae were after all brought to Athens by Hipparchus, according to “Plato” (Hipparchus 228b–c). If viewed in political terms, Hipparchus’ action means that he financed the guild and could thereby use the Homeridae through their Homeric performances for the expression and maintenance of his own political agenda. Hipparchus was said to have brought the Homeridae to Athens furthermore as proof of his wisdom (σοφία). This tradition indicates quite clearly that his cultural prestige, or the prestige that he hoped to acquire, was heavily invested in these performers.  At the same time, this kind of tyrannical heavy-handedness and intellectual self-promotion must be viewed against the background of rhapsodic contests at the local level, which could be politically and ideologically positioned in opposition to the larger contests at Athens. In broader terms, it has been argued by others that virtually any local poetic performance of epic must be seen to stand opposed in some measure to the centralized Panhellenic and panathenian performances at Athens.  We also know that where localized rhapsodic performances expressed political views in disagreement with a ruler’s agenda, such as the contests in Sicyon, they could be banned, as the story about Cleisthenes attests.  Cleisthenes was struggling against powerful Argive aristocrats and the performances, perhaps featuring material from the Theban cycle, incited Argive patriotic fervor. Cleisthenes’ ban demonstrates the influence of rhapsodes on popular political opinion. Rhapsodes, it would seem, became dangerous political liabilities when their performances whipped up dissent among the populace.