Saturday, November 27, 2004


Sympotic Recitation of Thucydides

Donald Lateiner, in a review of volume II (books IV-V.24) of Simon Hornblower's commentary on Thucydides, derides the theory that parts of Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War were recited at symposia (Greek drinking parties):
H believes in "sympotic recitation" of significant chunks of the Histories (e.g., 120) and suggests that the stasis in Corcyra passage, narrative and analysis, qualifies as a candidate. I don't know about Oxford drinking parties (or Athenian or Ohioan, really), but using Plato's Symposium as the friendliest witness to higher-level confabulation, I'd say that the hiccoughing, self-promoting, and name-calling hoplites, the hip-wagging flute-girls and pitcher-boys, and the generality of slumping heads--not to mention kottabos-games, lollygagging, throwing up, and general raucous clamor of non-Platonic venues in Corinth, Miletus, up-scale Athens and downhome Thrace--render this difficult and Ur-academic scenario unlikely, even if we allow for the dedicated friendship of Thucydides' small circle of friends and an awesome tolerance for Thucydides' agonized syntax. A labyrinthine passage, such as III.82-83, is hard to parse on the tenth go-round of the krater extended by boys and girls in deshabillé.
A few glosses:

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