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Term 1: ‘One Poem, Four Readings’ (2,500 words total). 25% of module mark

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Term 1 week 9, Monday 26th November 2018

An exercise in scholarly engagement, helping students to further develop their interpretative writing skills, especially in connecting close-reading of complex literary texts with broader developments in the history of criticism. Students are asked to present the translation of one text of their choosing from the prescribed list below, along with four excerpts from the bibliography provided, presented in chronological order of publication, pertinent to the text selected (up to 1,500 words), and then write up to 1,000 words of discussion of their own about the significance of the four bibliographical excerpts for broader interpretative trends and issues in scholarship.

There will be at least one 'training session' in class on this, illustrated by an example from the module convenor, prior to the submission deadline. 

All bibliographical excerpts listed below per text will be made available in hard-copy bundles from the module convenor.

Text 1: Stesichorus, Geryoneis fragment 19 lines 31–47

The Four Readings:

Kelly, A. (2015) ‘Stesichorus’ Homer’, in Finglass and Kelly (eds.) Stesichorus in Context (Cambridge), 21–44.

Finglass, P. J. (2015) ‘Stesichorus, master of narrative’, in Finglass and Kelly (eds.) Stesichorus in Context (Cambridge), 83–97.

Schade, G. (2015) ‘Stesichorus’ readers: from Pierre de Ronsard to Anne Carson’, in Finglass and Kelly (eds.) Stesichorus in Context (Cambridge), 164–85.

Fearn, D. W. (forthcoming) ‘The allure of narrative in Greek lyric poetry’ in J. Grethlein, L. Huitink and A. Tagliabue (eds.) Narrative and Experience in Greek Literature.

Text 2: Sappho fragment 2

The Four Readings:

Bowra, C. M. (1961) Greek Lyric Poetry (2nd edition), 175–205 esp. 196–8.

Burnett, A. P. (1983) Three Archaic Poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho (London), 259–76.

Gentili, B. (1988) Poetry and its Public in Ancient Greece (Baltimore), chapter 6 (pp. 72–104).

Gurd, S. A. (2016) Dissonance: Auditory Aesthetics in Ancient Greece (New York), 5–17.

Text 3: Ibycus, Ode to Polycrates (S151 SLG / 282a PMG) lines 23–end

The Four Readings:

Barron, J. P. (1969) ‘Ibycus: To Polycrates, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 16: 119–49.

Goldhill, S. (1991) The Poet’s Voice: Essays on Poetics and Greek Literature (Cambridge), 116–19.

Hardie, A. (2013) ‘Ibycus and the Muses of Helicon’, Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici 70: 9–36.

Spelman, H. (2018) Pindar and the Poetics of Permanence (Oxford), 164–6.

Text 4: Pindar, Pythian 1 lines 1–24

The Four Readings:

Kurke, L. (1991) The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy (Ithaca, NY), chapter 8 (pp. 195–224).

Athanassaki, L. (2009) ‘Narratology, deixis, and the performance of choral lyric. On Pindar’s First Pythian Ode’, in J. Grethlein and A. Rengakos (eds.) Narratology and Interpretation: the Content of Narrative Form in Ancient Literature (Berlin), 241–73, esp. 241–9.

Fearn, D. W. (2017) Pindar’s Eyes: Visual and Material Culture in Epinician Poetry (Oxford), chapter 3 (pp. 168–228), esp. 168–89 and 200–2.

Payne. M. (2018) ‘Fidelity and farewell: Pindar’s ethics as textual events’, in F. Budelmann and T. Phillips (eds.) Textual Events: Performance and the Lyric in Early Greece, 257–74.

Terms 2–3: 4,000-word extended essay: 50% of module mark. Choose a title from the list below.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Term 3 week 1, Thursday 25th April 2019

1. ‘[T]o read something as lyric is allegedly to lend phenomenal form to something like a voice, to convince ourselves that we are hearing a voice.’ (Culler, Theory of the Lyric, 35) Assess the applicability of this statement to TWO of the following: Sappho; Anacreon; Pindar.

2. Assess the thematic significance of time and space in the poetry of Pindar.

3. ‘Sappho is best studied as comparative literature.’ Assess this view.

4. Is Greek lyric poetry best understood as a form of rhetoric?

5. Assess the varied significance of the natural world in Greek lyric poetry.


Bibliographical Suggestions by question, in addition to core bibliography on individual poets - which the following suggestions will need to be played off against: 

NB many issues here will be explored in more detail through group-work on core readings in term-2 lectures.


For essay 1. Read:

Culler, J. (2015) Theory of the Lyric (Cambridge, MA), esp. chapters 1, 3, and 5;

Jackson, V. and Prins, Y. (eds.) (2014) The Lyric Theory Reader (Baltimore), introduction and §2.6 (piece by Herbert Tucker);

ch. 12 (Payne) in Budelmann, F. & Phillips, T. (eds.) (2018) Textual Events (Oxford).


For essay 2. Read:

Budelmann, F. & Phillips, T. (eds.) (2018) Textual Events (Oxford) introduction and perhaps also chs. 9 (Phillips), 10 (LeVen), and 12 (Payne);

Fearn D. W. (2017) Pindar’s Eyes (Oxford), introduction and chapter 3;

for a recent theoretical perspective on issues, Michael, J. (2017) ‘Lyric history: temporality, rhetoric, and the ethics of poetry’, New Literary History 48: 265–84.


For essay 3. Explore:

Prins, Y. (1999) Victorian Sappho (Princeton), to be read in conjunction with Burt, S. (2016) ‘What is this thing called lyric?’, Modern Philology 113: 422–40;

DuBois, P. (1995) Sappho is Burning (Chicago);

also of interest may be articles in Greene et. al. (eds.) (1996) Re-reading Sappho: Reception and Transmission (Berkeley).


For essay 4. Explore:

reactions to Bundy, E. L. (1962) Studia Pindarica (Berkeley) across the core bibliography, especially in relation to Pindar (e.g. Kurke, L. (1991) The Traffic in Praise (Ithaca, NY)); also consider broader theoretical concerns about the nature of lyric address, in Culler, J. (2015) Theory of the Lyric (Cambridge, MA), esp. chapter 3;

also important: Payne, M. (2006) ‘On being vatic: Pindar, pragmatism, historicism’, AJP 127: 159–84;

Payne, M. (2007) ‘Ideas in lyric communication: Pindar and Paul Celan’, Modern Philology 105: 5–20;

Michael, J. (2017) ‘Lyric history: temporality, rhetoric, and the ethics of poetry’, New Literary History 48: 265–84;

Bloom, H. (1979) ‘The breaking of form’, reprinted in Jackson, V. and Prins, Y. (eds.) (2014) The Lyric Theory Reader (Baltimore) at §5.1 and contextualized within post-structuralism/deconstruction in the introduction to §5.


For essay 5. Read:

Payne, M. (2014) ‘The natural world in Greek literature and philosophy’, available via Oxford Handbooks Online 

(, DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935390.013.001.);

Explore: Payne, M. (2010) The Animal Part: Human and Other Animals in the Poetic Imagination (Chicago).

Cf. also Peradotto, J. J. (1964) ‘Some patterns of nature imagery in the Oresteia’, AJP 85: 378–93, an article about Aeschylus’ Oresteia but more broadly relevant (esp. in first few pages): inviting a compare/contrast/reassessment in relation to lyric landscapes/nature and also Payne’s work.

Term 3: 1-hour summer exam. 25% of module mark

Commentaries in translation / translation + commentary (original Greek students), testing close-reading skills on selected excerpts.