Review: D. Fearn, ed., Aegina: Contexts for Choral Lyric Poetry. Myth, History, and Identity in the Fifth Century BC. Oxford, 2011

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Review: D. Fearn, ed., Aegina: Contexts for Choral Lyric Poetry. Myth, History, and Identity in the Fifth Century BC. Oxford, 2011
  The Journal of Hellenic Studies  Additional services for The Journal of Hellenic Studies: Email alerts: Click here Subscriptions: Click here Commercial reprints: Click here Terms of use : Click here (D.) Fearn Ed.  Aegina: Contexts for Choral Lyric Poetry. Myth, History, and Identity in the Fifth Century BC  . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. xvi + 511, illus. £85. 9780199546510. Irene Polinskaya The Journal of Hellenic Studies / Volume 132 / November 2012, pp 177 - 179DOI: 10.1017/S0075426912000171, Published online: 17 September 2012 Link to this article: How to cite this article: Irene Polinskaya (2012). The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 132, pp 177-179 doi:10.1017/S0075426912000171 Request Permissions : Click here Downloaded from, IP address: on 21 Nov 2012  LITERATURE reader and the speaker of the  Eikones certifies thatthe former’s involvement with the text will be keptat all times under the latter’s virtuoso control. Theargument is insightful and convincing; however,situated against exhaustive discussions of Lehmann’s and Braginskaya’s previous modelsand offered somewhat dogmatically, often it leavesthe text behind and may even seem tedious, partic-ularly to non-specialists.Before he closes his book with a suitableconclusion and an appendix of Lehmann’s andBraginskaya’s conceptual charts, Baumann inchapter 5 examines the role of explicit aestheticqualities such as symmetry, harmony, contrast andstyle in the formulation of the  Eikones ’ virtuosoaesthetics. His reading of  Im . 2.2 and 2.3 asexemplarily programmatic in their juxtaposition of aesthetic features stands out from this discussion.Equally judicious are Baumann’s comments on therelationship between the speaker and the painter of the  Eikones , defined in terms of ‘synergy’; thevirtuoso abilities of the speaker, Baumann argues,are not in contest with those of the painter; rather,the speaker’s virtuosity is crucial in delineatingthe full potential of the painter’s skill.In sum, this is a theoretically informed book and often difficult to read. Nevertheless, theemphasis on virtuosity as a concept that is basedon the principles of variation and combination andas a model that provides a description of the  Eikones ’ aesthetics is useful. Baumann provides,for some readers, a new methodological approachfor understanding more fully Philostratus’ literarysophistication.V ASILIKI K  OSTOPOULOU University of Iowa vasiliki-kostopoulou@uiowa.eduFEARN (D.)  Ed. Aegina:Contexts for ChoralLyric Poetry. Myth, History, and Identity inthe Fifth Century BC . Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2011. Pp. xvi + 511, illus.£85. 9780199546510. doi:10.1017/S0075426912000171 The volume under review is the first interdisci- plinary ‘multi-contributor study of choral lyric poetry devoted to one particular context’, theisland of Aegina (3). The rationale behind thecollection is a ‘general need for joined-up thinkingabout the nature of Aeginetan society in the fifth-century BC’ (2). As such, the volume is atestimony to and a welcome addition to the current 177 renaissance of Aeginetan studies. A product of seminars organized at Oxford University by Fearn,the volume’s editor, the collection addressesmultiple contexts (social, political, economic,cultural, religious) for the srcinal production andsubsequent uses of Aeginetan choral lyric poetry. Fearn’s initiative is highly commendable.Indeed, because of its performative nature, Greek lyric poetry readily invites a contextualizedapproach, prompting scholars to consider settings,audiences, patrons and clients, effects of andresponses to, as well as the afterlife of choral productions. Thus, Aegina as the subject of somany Pindaric and some Bacchylidean odes presents an inevitable destination for contextualizedstudies. There are 11 contributions divided intofour groups. Two are by the same author (E. Irwin)and do not address choral poetry, instead focusingon ancient historians and their treatment of Aegina.I am not able to do justice to the substance of eachcontribution in the available space. Fortunately,Fearn provides a summary of each essay in hisintroduction (15–26). My goal instead is to remark on prevalent interpretive threads and key themes inmost articles, as well as on the ambitious overar-ching objective of the collection as a whole. I willaddress in turn the sociological, political and culticcontexts highlighted in the collection.Several contributions are interested in thesociological context of choral lyric poetry. B.Kowalzig, Fearn and A. Morrison reflect onAeginetan patrons of choral odes. Rather thantraditional landed aristocracy, Kowalzig identifiesthe patrons of Aeginetan odes as the families thathad a stake in maritime trade (134–35), that is, inconnections outside and beyond Aegina. Fearn, by contrast, forcefully argues in favour of locallyfocused Aeginetan inter-aristocratic rivalry under-lying the ‘political discourse’ (211) of the odes,each clan with their own objectives for usingchoral poetry and the control of local cults for self- promotion. Morrison is more narrowly concernedwith the possibility of overlapping audiences for  primary and subsequent performances of differentAeginetan epinikia. To complicate Fearn’s modelof rivalry, Morrison sees another side tooverlapping aristocratic audiences – an occasionalneed for contemporary poets (Pindar andBacchylides) to collaborate on or at least keepeach other abreast of their relative compositionsfor Aeginetan clients. The three contributionstogether significantly advance the discussion beyond Leslie Kurke’s influential views on theepinician ‘traffic in praise’.  REVIEWS OF BOOKS Political context engages the interest of mostcontributors as far as it concerns Aegina’s relationswith her neighbours and the wider Greek world.Alongside specific political actions, choral odes inconjunction with local cultic realia are seen asvehicles for political expression. Here, Kowalzigargues that Aegina was at ‘the centre of a network of grain supply’, with the result that Aeginetan choral poetry (with its emphasis on Aeginetan  xenia ) usedlocal myths to reflect an ideology of maritimeconnectivity, while local cults ritualized thatideology. Potentially useful in its own right, in thiscase Kowalzig’s network approach subordinates thefunction of most Aeginetan myths and cults to thesingle purpose of maintaining trade connectivity,exposing an overuse of theory at the cost of factualaccuracy (see below on cultic context). Further to the study of Athens-Aegina relations,G. Nagy concludes that Pindar’s treatment of thenymph Aigina as an Asopid ancestress of theAiakids matches the Athenian ideology of the Catalogue of Women and thus‘represents anostalgic reminiscence’ of the pre-Classical era of ‘political entente between Athens and Aegina’ (78).J. Watson on the contrary speaks of a ‘cult war’(112) between Athens and Aegina in the pre-Persian Wars period. In the same vein, L.Athanassaki interprets Olympian 8, along with thesculptural groups at Aphaia and Kolonna, as anAeginetan response to the Athenian claims toAiakos’ patronage as exemplified in their earlier consecration of an Aiakeion in Athens. G.Hedreen’s view is strikingly different. Alone of allthe contributors, he produces a weighty and carefulindependent analysis of the material and arthistorical evidence, in the process validatingAndrew Stewart’s recent redating (‘The Persianand Carthaginian invasions of 480 BCE and the beginning of the Classical style’,  AJA 112.4 (2008)581–615) of the Aphaia temple and its pediments(two, not four) to the post-Persian Wars period.Hedreen offers a highly srcinal interpretation of the Aphaia pedimental groups, viewing the centralfigure of Athena as a representation of a goddess’statue that functions as an identifier of the battlescenes’ location, Troy, rather than as a symbol of Athena’s patronage over the Aiakids. The messageof the pediments, Hedreen argues, contra allcurrent views, is to show that the Aeginetan heroesat Troy are ‘achieving success without the help of the goddess of the Athenians’ (363). Besides the inevitable focus on Athens-Aeginarelations, two contributors direct our attention toother pieces of the puzzle: Aegina’s special 178 relationship with Thebes (H. Indergaard) and withSparta (E. Irwin). Indergaard reads  Isthmian 6 asan allusion to the relationship between Aegina andThebes figured as an example of  xenia  betweenthe Aeginetan Aiakids and the Theban Herakles.The ode, in his view, presents an Aeginetanremake of Trojan War traditions in an anti-Athenian stance, for which he also finds support inthe pedimental design of Aphaia. At the sametime, Indergaard’s focus on Theban Heraklesstrangely ignores the issue of the AeginetanHerakles, so prominent in  Nemean 7. Irwin’shistoriographical essays are the most effective inthe volume in bringing out the broader historical background of the fifth century, helpfullyreminding that Aegina’s peculiar position in theGreek world was as much coloured by her relations with Sparta as with Athens, and that theisland’s politics were equally complicated withrespect to both. Apart from the troubling equationthroughout the essay of Dorian and Spartanideologies (376–77, 381, 400), and apart fromreferences to the latter as something that is a givenrather than a demonstrandum (382, 384, 397, 402),I found Irwin’s contributions most illuminating.Her subtle and careful readings of Herodotusundermine any claim of his anti-Aeginetan bias,and rather present a case in point of Herodoteanefforts to save Aegina’s past from ‘fading’(becoming exitela ) under the unrelenting pressurefrom Athens. At the same time, Irwin’s forays intothe Aeginetan religious issues, in her essay on‘Aiginetan Identity’, produce allegorical readingsof Herodotus 5.81–89 (381, 384, 389–90, 408–09)that strike me as jarringly ahistorical.On par with Watson and Hedreen, Nagy andAthanassaki also comment on the interplay of choral odes and their cultic references in articu-lating Aegina’s relationship with Athens. Inaddition, I. Rutherford, Fearn and Kowalzigsimilarly identify the Aeginetan mythic and culticdata as fruitful contexts for the reading of Aeginetan epinikia. The cultic context, however,turns out to be the most problematic in the wholecollection: apart from Hedreen and, to a lesser extent, Watson, literary scholars in this volume donot offer independent analyses of the materialevidence, instead relying on secondary studies andcitations therein. As a result, many srcinalattempts to illuminate the Aeginetan choral lyricthrough correlation with local religious dataseriously falter, undermined by either factualmistakes (for example, Arist. Vesp . 122 refers toAsklepios, not Hecate, 164; the Aiakeion was not  LITERATURE near the Apollonion, 275, 279, 290); unprovenassertions (such as an in-town location of theAsopis spring, 191; the timing of the AeginetanDelphinia in the month of the Nemea, 189;Amazonomachy as a pedimental theme atKolonna and its attribution to an Apollonion, 275);or highly disputable claims (for example, whether there was a change of pediments at Aphaia, 165,281; whether Aeginetans participated in theHellenion at Naukratis, 142, etc.). As an experiment in physically bringingtogether under one cover srcinal contributions of  philologists, historians and art historians, allwriting on the same subject, Aegina, the collectionmakes a valid methodological point and sets auseful precedent. At the same time, it reveals thatinterdisciplinary cross-fertilization in Aeginetanstudies has only just begun. To succeed it wouldrequire an equally rigorous joint assessment of literary, archaeological and historiographical data.In the present volume, literary studies only citearchaeological publications, but do not assess thematerial data independently. As a result, an archae-ological hypothesis, often uncertain and specu-lative, gets cited as fact in a philological study.Such practice not only does not advance our under-standing, but instead further confuses the alreadycomplex record of the Aeginetan fifth-centuryrealia. This proviso notwithstanding, I have everyconfidence that the volume under review will become an indispensable reference tool both for students of Aegina and of Greek choral poetry. The book vividly communicates the contagiousexcitement of working with the Aeginetan materialand will inspire many to follow suit. I RENE P OLINSKAYA  King’s College, London BURNETT (A.P.) Pindar: Odes for VictoriousAthletes . Baltimore: Johns HopkinsUniversity Press 2010. Pp. viii + 192. £23.50(hbk); £10.50 (pbk). 9780801895746 (hbk);9780801895753 (pbk). doi:10.1017/S0075426912000183 Burnett’s translation of Pindar’s epinicians is aconsiderable achievement. Appearing in a series,‘New Translations from Antiquity’ (no other titlesin the series are mentioned in the book), it joins awell-populated field of competitors for success.There is, as F. Nisetich once pointed out, no Museof Translation, though he suggests that Eurydice 179 might be given the honorary role: the task is to bring an author back to the world of the living witha radiance comparable to the srcinal. In the caseof Pindar, this means to find a way of presentingthe poems to a readership with quite differentexpectations of poetry from that of the srcinalhearers. A modern reader picks up a book of  poems expecting a set of discourses which, thoughthey may occasionally be hermetic, contain thematerials for their interpretation withinthemselves. Even in ancient Alexandria thiscondition was absent for Pindar’s poems. Musicand dance can never be recovered; topicalallusions, if there were such, could not be recap-tured but were often invented to explain obscu-rities of other kinds;  Realien of the event and the place needed investigation.However, a modern reader may be better equipped than those of more rationalist eras tocope with one aspect of his poetry that has often baffled critics, his darting trains of thought andmingling of different elements such as  gnome ,myth, metaphor, mundane details, theology andself-communing. Since Ezra Pound such thingsare not off-putting as they were when AbrahamCowley in the 17th century uttered his famousdictum that ‘if a man should undertake to translatePindar word for word, it would be thought that onemad-man had translated another’.Burnett’s main competitors, among those Ihave examined, are the translations of C.M. Bowra(Penguin 1969), G.S. Conway (Everyman 1972,reissued with additional material by me in 1997),F.J. Nisetich (Johns Hopkins 1980), W.H. Race(Loeb 1997) and A. Verity (Oxford World’sClassics 2007). Each of these has distinctivefeatures and aims. Both Race and Verity followthe requirements of their respective series and‘keep as close as possible to the Greek withoutsacrificing sense’. The effect is of prose dividedup into lines roughly corresponding to the cola of the Greek, though vocabulary is picturesque whenthe srcinal is. The others respond in various waysto the complex metres of Pindar. Bowra presentsa form of free verse; Nisetich arranges the lines of his translation in elaborate patterns but there is noother correspondence between stanzas; Conwayfollows the strophic pattern so that the syllablecount responds. Burnett’s achievement is toreproduce both the strophic pattern and strophicresponsion, not just in syllable count but inrhythm. Her rhythms are often dactylic – toreproduce Pindar’s metres would be an impossibletask – and read naturally as English.
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