Choruses of Young Women in Ancient Greece: Their Morphology, Religious Role and Social Function

Overview

In this groundbreaking work, Claude Calame argues that the songs sung by choruses of young girls in ancient Greek poetry are more than literary texts; rather, they functioned as initiatory rituals in Greek cult practices. Using semiotic and anthropologic theory, Calame reconstructs the religious and social institutions surrounding the songs, demonstrating their function in an aesthetic education that permitted the young girls to achieve the stature of womanhood and to be integrated into the adult civic community....
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Overview

In this groundbreaking work, Claude Calame argues that the songs sung by choruses of young girls in ancient Greek poetry are more than literary texts; rather, they functioned as initiatory rituals in Greek cult practices. Using semiotic and anthropologic theory, Calame reconstructs the religious and social institutions surrounding the songs, demonstrating their function in an aesthetic education that permitted the young girls to achieve the stature of womanhood and to be integrated into the adult civic community. This first English edition includes an updated bibliography.

Author Biography: Claude Calame is professor of Greek language and literature at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

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Editorial Reviews

Bryn Mawr Classical Review
This book is an absolute must for anyone working in women's history, Greek literature, or Greek religion . . . One of the masterpieces of late-twentieth century classical scholarship.
Classical Review
There can be few classicists who are unaware of the impact that Calame's work has had on the study of archaic lyric poetry, and on our understanding of the central importance of choral performance in the cultural life of Greece. But this clear and elegant translation will now enable anglophone readers to appreciate Calame's contribution in all its detail and comlexity...Calame's book has profoundly affected the way we think about the nature and function of archaic lyric poetry and will continue to do so for many years to come.
— Penelope Murray
Albert Henrichs
Imaginative, groundbreaking and scrupulously documented, Claude Calame's masterful treatment of female choruses in Greek society is widely recognized as one of the most fundamental books ever written on archaic lyric poetry and musical culture. In its revised form it will reach an even wider audience and continue to be an indispensable research tool for students of Greek poetics, myth, and religion.
Classical Review - Penelope Murray
There can be few classicists who are unaware of the impact that Calame's work has had on the study of archaic lyric poetry, and on our understanding of the central importance of choral performance in the cultural life of Greece. But this clear and elegant translation will now enable anglophone readers to appreciate Calame's contribution in all its detail and comlexity...Calame's book has profoundly affected the way we think about the nature and function of archaic lyric poetry and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Charles Segal
Claude Calame's wide-ranging and brilliant study of the educative and initiatory function of the Greek choral poetry has long been indispensible for understanding the performative and ritual contexts that give early Greek poetry its distinctive character. The English edition, with its updated bibliography, is a most welcome addition to this series.
Lowell Edmunds
A brilliant application of anthropological method to archaic choral performance, with implications that go far beyond the particular choruses names in the title.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Claude Calame is professor of Greek language and literature at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Foreword
Author's Foreword I (1975)
Author's Foreword II (1995)
Abbreviations Used in the References
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Problems of fragments 1 and 3 of Alcman 2
1.2 Problems of method 9
2 Morphology of the Lyric Chorus 19
2.1 The chorus-members 20
2.2 Formal organization of the chorus 34
2.3 The choregos 43
2.4 The activity of the chorus 74
3 Chorus and Ritual 89
3.1 Non-Spartan rituals 90
3.2 Lacedaemonian rituals 141
4 The Function of the Lyric Chorus 207
4.1 The chorus as institution 208
4.2 The pedagogical function of the lyric chorus 221
4.3 Homoerotic relationships in the lyric chorus 244
4.4 The female lyric chorus and tribal initiation 258
5 Conclusion 264
Bibliography 267
General Index 275
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