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Pindar’s Verbal Art: An Ethnographic Study of Epinician Style
by James Bradley Wells
In Pindar’s Verbal Art, James Bradley Wells argues that the victory song is a traditional art form that appealed to a popular audience and served exclusive elite interests through the inclusive appeal of entertainment, popular instruction, and laughter. This is the first study of Pindar’s language that applies performance as a method for the ethnographic description and interpretation of entextualized records of verbal art. In Mikhail Bakhtin’s terms, Pindar’s Verbal Art is a sociological stylistics of epinician language and demonstrates that Pindar’s is a highly dialogical form of art, an intertextual web of voices, whose study enables us to appreciate popular dimensions of his songs. Wells offers a new take on recurrent Pindaric questions: genre, the unity of the victory song, tradition, and, principally, epinician performance.
James Bradley Wells is Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at Hamilton College.
Readers interested in this work may also like to read:
- Gregory Nagy, Pindar’s Homer: The lyric possession of an epic past
- Milman Parry, “Studies in the Epic Technique of Oral Verse-Making: I. Homer and Homeric Style,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 41
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