Restoring tradition: verbal lyricism and therapeutic song in Theocritus' pastoral Idylls
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] My research examines the cultural significance of Theocritus' pastoral Idylls as imitations of folk songs, a genre traditionally passed down orally. I explore how elements of folk-lyric in the pastorals invest the fictional pastoral pharmakon (“remedy”) with a sense of vivid realism. I use the mythical characters to demonstrate how the audience may receive the pharmakon upon hearing a recitation of the Idylls. The Alexandrian Greek population felt disconnected from their homeland, and the main goal of the Ptolemies was the preservation of Greek heritage. As the pastoral characters listen to song in order to find “peace of mind,” the cosmopolitan Alexandrian audience would listen and be projected to old world Greece. Theocritus' verbal lyricism suggests an awareness of contemporary euphonist theory. The main goal of the third-century euphonist scholars who commented on the aesthetic appeal of archaic and classical oral compositions was the discussion of beautiful sound in poetry, its euphony. Theocritus' verbal lyricism simulates the performance of earlier, musical traditions, and, moreover, Theocritus, as well as other Hellenistic poets, was as attentive to the sound of his text as a composer would be to a musical score. My research views literary works as textual performances.
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