Solon and Early Greek Poetry: The Politics of Exhortation
The poetry of archaic Greece gives voice to the history and politics of the culture of that age. This book explores the types of history that have been, and can be, written from archaic Greek poetry, and the role this poetry had in articulating the social and political realities and ideologies of that period. In doing so, it pays particular attention to the stance of exhortation adopted in early Greek elegy, and to the political poetry of Solon; it also stresses the importance of considering performance context as a critical factor in interpreting the political expressions of this poetry. Part I of this study argues that the singing of elegiac paraenesis in the elite symposium reflects the attempt of symposiasts to assert a heroic identity for themselves within this wider polis community. Parts II and III turn to the political poetry of Solon: Part II demonstrates how the elegy of Solon both confirms the existence of this elite practice, and subverts it, drawing on the poetic traditions of epic and Hesiod to further different political aims; Part III looks beyond Solon’s appropriations of poetic traditions to argue for another influence on Solon’s political poetry, that of tyranny. The book concludes by exploring the implications of this reading of elegy for a political interpretation of the Homeric epics in Athens.