Exploring the “Flute Girls” of Ancient Greece through Multimodality
Because of the flute girls’ disputed nature in the symposia and larger Greek society, as well as their position to communicate multimodally through music at gatherings, they occupy a unique rhetorical position for students studying classic texts and ancient Greece. 
Classics has always been a multimodal field because texts communicate in more than one mode (oral lyrics, graffiti, symposia amphora, flute or lyre music, gesture, etc.) and different literacies (for example oral and visual, or visual and written) co-existed simultaneously. Multimodal literacies are exceptionally prominent in the case of the flute girl. During a time when only a tiny fraction of the population was literate, both flute music and Attic vases featuring the flute players were “read” by a far larger population. Flute music meant something specific to listeners of the time; it had a grammar, and had specific rhetorical qualities that would likely be familiar and persuasive to listeners at symposia. Put another way, guests would likely be literate in flute music and its signification on pottery. References to music are prominent in earlier works such as the Iliad and the Odyssey because “music occupied a prominent place in everyday life not only because it was amusing and socially valuable but also because it embodied larger universal principles and was a vehicle for higher understanding.”  This prominence of flute music is captured on surviving fragments of Attic pottery used for all kinds of occasions in all levels of society. Artifacts featuring flute girls and flute music include kylix for drinking wine and lekythoi were used to pour libations at symposia. Painted amphora were used to store food. These vessels visually capture the roles of the flute girl and their listeners in ancient Greek society and provide useful intersections with primary texts such as Plato’s Republic and Symposium and the flute music itself.
The Multimodal Literacies Associated with the Aulos
This reference to the ability of the aulos to charm or distract from higher-level thinking illustrates Plato’s view that mousiké is only valuable when it reinforces moral values versus vulgarity.  If we can assume listeners were literate in flute music (i.e. they could listen to it and know what it meant) the musical text of the flute (and its player) could be read as a competing conversation. For this reason, in Plato’s Symposium Socrates establishes an ideal of an aulêtris-free symposium where flute girls are sent away so the male symposiasts can focus on conversation without distraction. 
Because the instrument prevented conversation, it was not useful when spoken dialectic was the central (i.e. most valued) activity. The aulos was also negatively perceived outside the symposium. Aristotle argues for banning the aulos in the classroom specifically in Politics, where he warns that auloi “produce a passionate rather than an ethical experience in their auditors and so should be used on those occasions that call for catharsis rather than learning.” (Aristotle Politics 8.6 1341 17–24) In short, Aristotle sees the aulos as an instrument not fit for the classroom because the type of music listened to affects the educational development of the soul.  Like Plato and Plutarch, Aristotle recognized that flute music, and all of its bodily and emotional associations, competed with intellectual thought.
What Can the Study of the Aulos Via Digital Tools Teach Us about Ancient Non-Textual Literacies?
Pedagogical Implications for Digital Classics: What Can Multimodal Literacies of Flute Girls Offer?
Put another way, not only do these scholars contribute to a richer intellectual and more adaptable classics culture woven into everyday life, but they also help classics scholars process the vast array of emerging data to process. There aren’t enough scholars to do it all alone and the ongoing shift to digital tools in the classics can be capitalized upon to provide a richer educational experience for our students. Blackwell and Crane (2009) suggest
and this includes the student audience.