Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond

  Use the following persistent identifier: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Poetry_as_Performance.1996.

Preface for the Online Edition

The printed edition of Poetry as Performance, originally published in 1996 by Cambridge University Press, is now in 2009 published online here by the Center for Hellenic Studies, with the permission of the Press. The original page-numbers are indicated within braces (for example, “{1|2}” indicates the break between pages 1 and 2).

And I add here to the Preface of 1996 a further acknowledgment, which is of great personal importance to me:

The Gray Lectures that I delivered at Cambridge University on May 10–14, 1993, had built on three earlier lectures that I had delivered at Washington University, St. Louis, on March 28–31, 1993, where I was honored to be granted the title of John and Penelope Biggs Resident Classics Scholar for the spring of 1993. I take this opportunity to thank my friends John and Penelope and their son, Henry Biggs, as well as the teachers and students of Washington University, together with all their friends, for their warm hospitality and encouragement during my unforgettable stay at Washington University. Their support proved to be a major inspiration for the overall content of Poetry as Performance.

Preface for the 1996 version

This book grew out of the J. H. Gray Lectures that I gave for the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge on 10, 12, and 14 May 1993. I am very grateful to the faculty, students, and friends of the Faculty, many of whom are singled out below, for the happy memories of my visit.

A shorter verson of Chapter 5 was read as a paper at an international conference organized by Françoise Létoublon, the “Colloque Milman Parry,” held at the University of Grenoble on 14, 15, and 16 September 1993.

This book took a long time to write, and I was fortunate to get the advice of many people along the way. These include: Elizabeth Adkins-Regan, Robert Albis, Margaret Alexiou, Nancy Andrews, Ernst Badian, Ann Batchelder, Victor Bers, Graeme Bird, David Blank, Timothy Boyd, P. G. McC. Brown, Myles Burnyeat, Paul Cartledge, Matthew Clark, R. G. G. Coleman, Derek Collins, Gregory Crane, Olga M. Davidson, Laurence de Looze, Marian Demos, Carol Dougherty, Peter Dronke, Ursula Dronke, Andrew Dyck, Andrew Ford, Patrick K. Ford, Philip M. Freeman, Marjorie Garber, Simon Goldhill, John Hamilton, Michael Haslam, Albert Henrichs, Carolyn Higbie, Geneviève Husson, Barbara Johnson, C. P. Jones, Pierre Judet de La Combe, Charles de Lamberterie, André Lardinois, Françoise Létoublon, Geoffrey Lloyd, Janet Lloyd, Anthony A. Long, Nicole Loraux, Mary Louise Lord, Deboral Lyons, Richard P. Martin, Michael Messersmith, Steven Meyer, Elisabeth Mitchell, Stephen A. Mitchell, John Morgan, Kenneth Morrell, Oswyn Murray, Blaise Nagy, Joseph Nagy, Robin Osborne, George Pepe, Ann Perkins, Rubert T. Pickens, M. D. Reeve, Panagiotis Roilos, Philippe Rousseau, Ian Rutherford, William Sale, Albert Schachter, Elizabeth Scharffenberger, David, Schur, Charles Segal, Kathryn Slanski, Laura Slatkin, Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood, Richard Tarrant, Richard Thomas, Thomas du Toit, S. V. Tracy, Roger Travis, Emily Vermeule, Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, Jenny Wallace, Calvert Watkins, Heather Williams, Dan Wiley, James Zetzel, Jan Ziolkowski, Bella Zweig. To anyone whose name I may have forgotten in this list, I apologize. Also, I assume responsibility for whatever mistakes may remain.

The title of this book is an indirect tribute to the pioneering anthropological insights of Richard Bauman, Verbal Art as Performance (Prospect Heights, Ill. 1988).

On 7, 13, and 17 January 1994, I had a chance to “repeat” my Gray Lectures, this time in French, at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, thanks to the initiative of my friend Nicole Loraux. She has always been the most supportive of colleagues, but I particularly appreciated her encouragement as I was struggling with the final phases of this book. In the fall of 1994, just as I was about to write to her to announce jokingly that the ordeal was finally over, I learned, to my shock, that Nicole had suddenly become very ill. As I write this, she continues a gallant struggle aginst the effects of her illness, living out the heroic meaning of an ancient Greek world for ‘ordeal’ that she herself has understood better than any other Hellenist, pónos. I dedicate this book to her in recognition of her heroic courage, and in fond hopes that she will prevail yet again, as she has always prevailed before.