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CLA402H1 (4)

Lecture 5

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Regina Höschele

Alcaeus • Pro-aristocratic • Lesbos poet, from Mitilene • Contemporary of Sappho, 6th-7th c • Our knowledge of lesbos at that time is limited • But we do know there was a succession of tyrants - people getting power and being overthrown by others • Alcaeus was involved in these struggles, in the context of a group of aristocratic men opposing these tyrants. • Hetairai = companions • Members bonding together over wine, fitting into symposium topic • Wide variety of topics • What we have of him comes from papyri, or quoted which explains the gaps (non-canonical) • The meter is lyric, which means that it was sung to the lyre (monody) • Can imagine being sung at the symposium • First poem (Fr.. 357) LP = abbreviation for editors ofAlcaeus • Focussing on the armor • In the megaron • It is displayed; men are reminded of need to fight. Manly setting • Second poem (Fr. 129) • Pittacus was on the side ofAlcaeus & co • Then betrayed when he struck a deal with next tyrant • Invoked the oath they took • Would rather die than be an oathbreaker • Oath is an important element • Very homeric setting • Third poem (Fr. 6) and fourth (fr. 11) • Ship as a persons resolve, sea is the political spirit of the time • Ship is the city and the state.Afamous metaphor: “ship of state metaphor” • Singing in the symposium, encouraging his companions • Lyric poets appropriate epic diction, like that of Homer. We should imagine the audience being aware of these images and expressions, and being able to see the Homeric appropriation. • Fr. 73 • Lamenting the state of the ship • Drink away his sorrows • Fr. 332 • Famous • Lets get drunk cause tyrant is dead • Immortalized by roman poet Horace who writes in the 1st cent B.C. In one of his most famous poems: “now its time to drink, now its time to stamp on the ear with a freed foot” • Its become a general phrase “now it’s time to drink” • Why is it time to drink for Horace? The downfall of Cleo andAntony • UsesAlcaeus to bring in his motto of death and defeat of cleo, a force similar to the tyrant Myrsilus • Fr. 333 • Invoking in vino veritas • Fr. 335 • Best of remedies is to get drunk • Drinking wine together and making political decision. Does this make sense? • Emboldens them • Wine brings them together, especially cause you see their true nature • Hetairia is an institution that tyrants are not happy about • I THINKAlcohol emboldens you, but prohibits actions • Persian institution to make decisions over wine - Plutarch says this is also Greek • Aristocrats can control booze, and need the leisure to throw party • Why do we have no problem connecting alcohol with overthrowing some
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