Printer Friendly

The seal of Theognis, writing, and oral poetry.


Kyrnos, by me as I practice my art let a seal be set on these words, and never will they be stolen unobserved. Nor will anyone substitute something worse for the good that is present, and everyone will say, "The words are Theognis of Megara's. Among all mankind he is named." But not yet am I able to please all my fellow citizens. And it is no wonder, son of Polypaos. For even Zeus does not please everyone either by raining or withholding rain.

The seal of Theognis has long provoked scholarly controversy. What precisely is this seal? How does it function, as Theognis seems to claim it will, to preserve the author's text? Given the transmitted corpus of Theognis' poetry, which includes poetry attributed in antiquity to other poets and variant versions of what appear to be the same poem, scholars have been forced to conclude that Theognis' seal, whatever it might be, has singularly failed to accomplish what he claimed it would - an irony often remarked upon.(1) I suggest here that if we think of Theognis' sphragis as entailing writing, which fixes as text a body of poetry that previously had circulated only in oral form, the apparent irony may be less pronounced than we thought.

The difficulties scholars have experienced in interpreting the text arise in considering the lines that immediately follow Theognis' request that a seal be set upon his words. For there seems to be nothing that could possibly achieve what Theognis apparently claims his sphragis will: to mark the elegies permanently as Theognis' so that no one can covertly steal or alter them. Few scholars have adopted the suggestion that the naming of Kyrnos as addressee is the seal that serves to mark an elegy as authentically Theognidean and thereby to prevent plagiarism or forgery.(2) Likewise arguments that there is something unmistakably Theognidean in Theognis' poetic practice - a characteristic style, for example - have failed to produce results that are widely accepted.(3)

The apparent absurdity of the claim to have protected an authentic text, particularly in the face of such strong evidence to the contrary, has led scholars to deny that Theognis intends any such thing. The general tendency now is to accept that Theognis' seal is simply the name of Theognis in the text and that its purpose is to bring Theognis lasting fame; the seal serves to label the work but not to protect it from tampering. Thus Woodbury argues ("Seal of Theognis" 29-30) that line 21 should be interpreted not as a claim to have protected the text but as a specific application of a universal maxim. He paraphrases: "no one willingly exchanges a good that he possesses for something inferior that is offered him, and no one will prefer other verses to his." Svenbro (Parole et marbre 84-86) suggests that [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] should be read as a genitive absolute with a masculine rather than a neuter subject: "while a good man is present." That is, the presence of a member of Theognis' social class at the sympotic performance of his poetry, rather than some kind of seal on the text itself, will guarantee its accurate reproduction.

Ford offers an important exception to this latter tendency in emphasizing the extent to which Theognis here shows concern for the integrity of a particular text.(4) Nonetheless, Ford's endorsement of earlier arguments that Theognis' seal is simply the name of Theognis does not entirely remove the difficulties scholars have experienced in reading the passage. For it still remains unclear how the presence of the name of Theognis in one of the poems early in the collection will preserve the work intact. Ford's suggestion that Theognis "hoped that no verses would be inserted and none stolen" (emphasis mine) seems significantly weaker than Theognis' boast that none would be.

I suggest that our knowledge of the history of ancient texts - and our suspicions about the transmission of the Theognidea in particular - blind us to a possible interpretation of Theognis' claim that might have seemed more natural at an early stage of literacy: namely, that the mechanism by which Theognis imagines that he has protected his text is writing itself.(5) For it is striking that Theognis' claims are precisely those that early scholars working on orality concluded that only writing can confer: only writing, they thought, permits the recognition of borrowing without attribution, to which the second line of the passage appears to refer; and only writing creates the notion of a single best and unchanging text, suggested by the third line of the passage. As Lord frequently reminded scholars working on Homer, the notions of unauthorized borrowing and of a fixed text are meaningless to poets practicing in exclusively oral traditions; oral poets both borrow from one another and alter freely (see, e.g., Singer of Tales, 99-123). Comparative work on oral poetry has challenged these early assumptions by providing examples of cultures in which oral poems are preserved verbatim and in which ownership and theft of poetry are recognized concepts.(6) Nonetheless these examples are more exceptional than typical; Finnegan concludes that despite such counterexamples verbal variability in oral transmission of poetry is "almost certainly more typical than unchanging transmission" (Oral Poetry, 153) and that the conception of ownership or copyright "is not characteristic of oral, but of written poetry" (202).

Giannini's study of formulaic expressions in archaic elegy suggests that surviving elegy retains some of the repetitiveness that aids oral composition of poetry, though lacking the economy or scope that marks the Homeric noun-epithet system ("Espressioni formulari" esp. 71-78). Bowie points to elegy's dependence on stock themes and language and its simple and repetitive metrical scheme as features that make it relatively easy to compose ("Early Greek Elegy" 14). If we accept as plausible that surviving elegy developed out of a traditional form that was orally composed and transmitted, Theognis' strong claim to have protected a fixed text from theft or change is comprehensible as a recognition of the advantages of committing his elegies to writing.

That writing does not in fact confer absolute fixity over long stretches of time is amply illustrated by the history of ancient texts. And yet to a poet familiar primarily with oral traditions of poetry, the novelty of writing would certainly appear to offer a degree of fixity that is hard to conceive in oral transmission. Indeed, it is hard to believe that an author of Theognis' period could possibly have predicted the vagaries to which his text would be subject, or have imagined the hazards of copying and recopying.(7) The prevalence in fifth-century literature of the metaphor of the "writing tablet of the heart" upon which all things deserving to be permanently remembered should be written/engraved suggests that writing was widely perceived to confer fixity and permanence. Thus, for example, in Prometheus Bound Prometheus advises Io that she should "inscribe on the mindful writing tablets of her wits" (789, [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]) his prediction of her wanderings.(8) A compressed, less explicit version at Supplices 179 suggests the familiarity of the metaphor: [GREEK TEXT OMITTED], "I advise you to preserve my words by recording them on tablets." Descriptions of letters as the servants of memory and of written laws as the guardians of justice reinforce this early conception of writing as a stable repository of words.(9) Even in Phaedrus, when Socrates is criticizing writing for destroying the faculty of memory and failing to convey the author's meaning (275a-d), he assumes that it always preserves one and the same text [GREEK TEXT OMITTED].(10) Prior to large-scale circulation of multiple manuscript copies, an ancient author was unlikely to be aware of the problems that plague modern editors of ancient texts. Thus Theognis' concern in line 21 that nothing worse replace the good in his text probably does not represent a fear of poor copying or flawed editing; it is more likely that he has in mind the kinds of alteration that typically arise in oral transmission. And such changes can be checked by the existence of a written text as a reference.

But what would we mean by "ownership" of Theognis' elegies in a cultural context in which they continued to circulate in oral form (a question rightly raised by Ford)?(11) When Theognis says that his words will never be stolen, he certainly cannot mean that his elegies will never be reperformed by other poets. Far from it. He clearly imagines (237-52) such reperformances of his work at symposia across Greece. This suggests that he is creating a written text from which other performers can memorize elegies for performance; many scholars have proposed a similar relationship between text and performance for rhapsodic performances of Homeric poetry. Indeed, the primary function of many early texts of Greek poetry (for example, epinician, tragedy) is surely precisely this: to serve as mnemonics for performance rather than as texts to be read.(12) But the very existence of the physical text protects not only the words of the poet but also the fame that Theognis imagines for himself over time and against lapses of memory. It thus offers a more stable kind of ownership of the elegies than can a purely oral transmission.

Finnegan offers a few examples of cultures that think it important to preserve the name of an oral poem's author; performances of such poems are typically introduced by naming the author, or the poem is sufficiently well known to require no such introduction. But her examples also make clear that in practice it is very difficult for an oral poet even within such cultures to preserve title to ownership against theft by other poets, particularly once the poem has left the small community in which the poet resides (as Theognis clearly imagines his own poetry doing in lines 236-50). She cites a particularly cogent passage from A. Musil's Manners and Customs of the Rwala Bedouins (1928):

The begging poets are not held in much esteem, being reproached for their insatiability, for their disregard of honesty in praising even scamps for a reward, and also because they lie and steal. They steal the ideas, sentences, and even whole verses of others. It often happens that the hearers assail such a poet with the words: "Thou liest. Thou stolest it from So-and-So!" The poet defends himself, calling on others to be his witnesses, but the confidence of his hearers is gone, and they say, "A poet is a liar." When the poet learns that his composition or some of his verses are claimed by someone else, he complains to the chiefs or even in the courts, but they refuse to listen on the ground that a poet cannot be trusted.

(Musil 283, in Oral Poetry 203)

Theognis' name in a single poem orally transmitted offers him little protection in this situation, still less after his death; a thieving oral poet could presumably create an alternate version of even the sphragis elegy that advertised a different name.

Of course, writing alone does not necessarily prevent deliberate acts of plagiarism either. But the existence of a physical text headed by Theognis' name makes such acts detectable by serving as an independent witness; it seems almost too fitting therefore that Theognis says not that his works will never be stolen but that they will never be stolen unobserved [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]. The same is accomplished by the seals that are placed on physical property, one of the earliest attested uses of the Greek alphabet. As Scodel correctly notes ("Inscription, Absence and Memory" 58), the names inscribed on physical property "do not prevent theft . . . but deter it or expose it by proclaiming ownership." By fixing a text and affixing the poet's name to it, writing seals the relationship between poet and poem, so that a particular text is more likely to remain the recognized property and achievement of the text's author rather than of the performer or of the tradition. If we look at Greek texts that cite poetry, such as Plato or the orators, they typically do name the author or seem to assume the audience's knowledge of the poet cited. Theognis seems to anticipate this in his imagination.

Thus I suggest that Theognis' seal is not only the presence of his name in a line of poetry but the written form that preserves and protects both the name and the text. If the name "Theognis" serves the labeling function of the seal, only the written form fixes the text permanently so as to close it and prohibit change or theft. By this interpretation, Theognis' special achievement, the one to which he calls our attention in the sphragis elegy, is that he recognized the way in which written publication can be used to halt the process of alteration and the practice of borrowing without attribution that goes on in the oral transmission of texts, thereby creating for the writing poet a new conception of literary property.

Perhaps essential to Theognis' metaphor is the close association between writing and marking with a seal in Greek culture. Indeed, the early history of writing is difficult to separate from the history of sealing; thus, Kenna comments, "the close connection between the two activities [of writing and sealing] and their invariable sequence has been noticed wherever seals and sealings have been found in any quantity."(13) For example, many very early economic documents combine numbers and pictographic seal impressions; many experts in the field believe that early scripts are a development of these pictographic seals.(14) Early examples of writing are commonly found on seals and on sealings; the discovery of Linear B apparently resulted from Sir Arthur Evans's observation of seals covered with small pictures arranged in such a way that he deduced that it was a system of writing (see Chadwick, "Linear B" 140-41). On the Phaistos Disc, an early inscribed text, all of the writing is apparently made by pressing stamps into wet clay (Chadwick, 190-94). In this case, there is virtually no difference between writing and marking with a seal. In archaic and classical Greece, sealings were impressions made in clay or wax;(15) early writing too frequently took this form. And although papyrus was used with increasing frequency, the language used to describe writing retained a strong association with its inscribed form (e.g., [GREEK TEXT OMITTED], [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]). Indeed, in many later texts we see the word used of seal impressions, [GREEK TEXT OMITTED], also applied to written letters.(16) And many of the earliest Greek alphabetic inscriptions are themselves seals or share the seal's function as a property label.(17)

In addition to similarities of form and function, sealing shares with writing associations with permanence, visual marking, and memory. Notions of the sphragis both as conferring fixity and as a kind of physical mark are found separately in places where a metaphorical sense of sphragis is employed. Empedocles speaks of an ancient decree of the gods, eternal, sealed up by broad oaths ([GREEK TEXT OMITTED], / [GREEK TEXT OMITTED], 31B 115.1-2 DK). Here the notion is clearly one of fixity independent of writing; the (presumably spoken) oaths are the metaphorical seals here. But what is important is the permanence of the decree. In Iphigenia in Tauris wounded men are described as having been "sealed," that is, imprinted with terrible signs ([GREEK TEXT OMITTED], 1372). Here "seals" makes an appropriate metaphor for physical marks. The metaphorical notion of sphragis applied to writing would bring together the two elements of fixity and physical marking. And impressions held in memory are alternately compared to writing on wax tablets or to the semata left by seals in such tablets.(18) Thus seals and writing might be naturally associated in the ancient world, where they were more similar both in terms of materials (clay, wax, inscribed letters) and in terms of function and association than they are in the modern period. We might then paraphrase Theognis' "let a seal be placed on these words" as "let writing seal these words" or "let these words be sealed fast [in their written form]."

The closest parallel to the sphragis elegy, a fragment from the fifth-century poet and politician Critias, is unfortunately itself so fragmentary and uncontextualized that it raises similar questions of interpretation.(19) Plutarch reports that Critias wrote some lines to remind Alcibiades of the favor that Critias had done him in bringing about his recall:


(Plut. Alcib. 33.1 = Critias, IEG 5)

The general interpretation of the passage is agreed upon: Critias surely here refers to his (oral) motion for Alcibiades' recall in the Assembly and the written decree that enacted that motion into law. But unfortunately the interpretation of sphragis here is no more certain than in the Theognis passage; indeed, it is further complicated by the genitive phrase [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]. Nonetheless, the strong contrast in the passage between spoken and written versions of Critias' proposal is striking. Because Critias indicates in the second line of the fragment that he enacted his speech by putting it into written form, it is certainly tempting to refer the phrase [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] to a written version of the oral opinion Critias offered to the Assembly.(20) We might then translate: "a written version of my speech seals and authorizes these words."

The implications of this interpretation of the sphragis elegy - that we see Theognis as a transitional figure, trained in traditional elegy orally transmitted, but benefitting from the new possibilities created by writing - seems a useful way of regarding the Theognidea. Many scholars have called attention to the inscriptional character of the sphragis elegy. Similarly, the notion of the fame that the poet has given to Kyrnos, which will last even after Kyrnos has died, as long as there is earth and sun, echoes strongly the self-consciously permanent language of early inscribed epigram.(21) But as Nagy and others have shown, certain features of the Theognidea become intelligible if we apply standards appropriate to a corpus of poetry that was originally oral rather than written. In particular, Nagy has suggested that the notorious doublets in the Theognidean corpus reflect the formulaic diversity that characterizes oral poetry.(22) Likewise, references to historical detail from periods of history not embraceable by the lifespan of a single individual become explicable if they have entered a corpus of poetry that is orally preserved; comparison with the Homeric texts shows how oral traditions may preserve detail from various historical periods. Even the inclusion of short runs of verses elsewhere attributed to other poets can be explained as a result of oral transmission. These runs are brief, between one and three couplets, and therefore easy to remember. Most also exhibit variation of a kind that could easily arise in oral transmission. For example, the difference between [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] (Theognidea 227) and [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] (Solon fr. 13.71) seems unlikely to be caused by scribal error. But neither is there a difference in meaning or quality of expression so great as to suggest deliberate alteration of a fixed text.(23) The same is true of the difference between [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] (Theognidea 1254) and [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] (Solon fr. 23.2) or between [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] (Theognidea 586) and [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] (Solon fr. 13.66). Moreover, none of these runs are attributed to poets that postdate Theognis. It is therefore at least possible that such lines belong to a body of elegy that was known to Theognis only in oral form.(24) And the repetition without attribution of poetry not originally authored by the poet may be acceptable within oral poetic practices; for the process of recomposition in performance tends to make orally transmitted material the property of the tradition and performer, particularly when there is a significantly new use of the material, as is arguably the case in some of the examples in the Theognidea.

Moreover, with traditional oral texts, the very act of publishing them in writing may in itself give one claim to a kind of possession of the texts. We might compare, in a familiar modern example, the brothers Grimm, who garnered fame for themselves by collecting and publishing written versions of traditional fairy tales. Thus we do not have to suppose that Theognis here is claiming absolute originality in publishing under his own name a collection of elegies, much of the material of which may be drawn from traditional elegiac poetry orally transmitted.(25) Indeed, Theognis seems to acknowledge his debt to the tradition when he speaks (27-28) of things he learned as a boy. But by fixing a corpus of poetry in writing and attaching his name to it, he makes it his personal literary property, so that reuse of the elegies without attribution becomes theft. Though a precise date for the historical Theognis is uncertain, he is consistently placed in the sixth or, at the very latest, the early fifth century, a time when literacy, though increasingly a factor in Greek literary life, had by no means supplanted oral performance of poetry.(26) It therefore seems reasonable to see him as a poet trained within a primarily oral milieu, who took advantage of the new sophia of writing to create lasting fame for himself.

One interesting implication of such observations about the Theognidea is that we may have something more like the corpus as it was established by a historical Theognis than present-day editors of the text, with their fully literate aesthetic standards, have thought possible.(27) This suggests that Theognis' sphragis was not as signal a failure as these editors have assumed. And if we ask what it is that allows us access, however imperfect, to Theognis' words, we must once again see writing as the seal that has preserved for us both the name and the words of Theognis. If there is irony here, it is perhaps that modern scholars have become so aware of the ways in which writing has failed to achieve its potential as a way of preserving a fixed text, that we cannot even appreciate its partial successes.(28)


1 This is the standard view. See, e.g., The Cambridge History of Greek Literature I 136-39. But see Nagy, "A Poet's Vision" 46-51, for a different and, to my mind, potentially more constructive way of viewing some of these features of the Theognidean corpus. This view informs my understanding of the sphragis elegy. I argue more explicitly for it below.

2 For arguments for this position see Jacoby, Theognis 121, and others cited by Woodbury, "Seal of Theognis" 35 n. 3. For arguments against, see Woodbury 22-23 and authorities cited at 35 n. 4.

3 See, e.g., Allen, "Theognis," and others cited by Woodbury, "Seal of Theognis" 36 n. 6.

4 Ford, "Seal of Theognis" 86-87. His discussion of Theognis lines 805-10 is particularly helpful in establishing the validity of this interpretation. In general, Ford's characterization of the Theognidea as a codified and authorized version of a body of traditional poetry is one that I find extremely useful. His choice of the words "codification" and "text" suggests that he is thinking along lines similar to mine, though he never mentions writing and early in his argument (83) seems even to wish to deny a text-based conception of authorship.

5 Scodel anticipates me in suggesting that Theognis' seal should be seen as "the creation of a written text which included the poet's name" ("Inscription, Absence and Memory" 75). Though we differ at points in our interpretation, I argue more fully for essentially the same conception of the seal.

6 See Finnegan, Oral Poetry 134-69, 201-6 and material cited there. It is at least possible that such cultures have been influenced by modern culture and its technologies (e.g., printing, tape recording); thus their relevance as comparanda for archaic Greek culture remains uncertain.

7 Woodbury's arguments ("Seal of Theognis" 23) that Theognis could not possibly have supposed that his work would be preserved intact are based on the assumption that Theognis was familiar with the manuscript traditions of Homer and Hesiod and presuppose an ability to predict the future of his own text that seems to me quite unlikely in the sixth century.

8 Cf. also Sophocles fr. 597, [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]; Aesch. Ch. 450, [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] <. . .> [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]; Eu. 275, [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]; also Pindar O. 10.1-3; Soph. Ph. 1325; Plato, Phlb. 39a. For further examples and a brief discussion of the metaphor and its significance in moving from an oral to literary culture see Nieddu, "La metafora della memoria."


10 See Steiner's discussion of the passage (Tyrant's Writ 103-4) and cf. also Svenbro's discussion of the inflexible character of the written word (Phrasikleia 28-29 and texts cited there).

11 Ford, "Seal of Theognis" 83. His suggestion that there is a political purpose to Theognis' seal seems plausible; my interpretation is not intended to compete with his but to add another dimension to our understanding of the elegy.

12 For arguments see Thomas, Literacy and Orality 91-93, and material cited there. Thus, Theognis may have imagined a very limited number of actual texts to be circulated among various performers who then memorized his elegies for reperformance at symposia. (For the symposiastic context of archaic elegy see Bowie, "Early Greek Elegy.") The performer could then select from a memorized repertoire an appropriate elegy to perform. Conceiving of the Theognidea as a performer's trot rather than a reader's text lessens the importance of the organization of the work, for once the elegies are committed to memory the performer can select an elegy appropriate to the occasion.

13 Kenna, "Seals and Script" 2. See his "Seals and Sealing" 1-5 for a theoretical discussion of the close connection and for examples in various ancient cultures. His later articles "Seals and Script II" and "Seals and Script III" offer more detailed exploration of the connection.

14 See, e.g., Kenna, "Seals and Scripts" 3-4; Walker, "Cuneiform" 17-21; Charpin, "Des scelles a la signature" 13.

15 See Bonner, "The Use and Affect of Attic Seals," for the form and function of the seal.

16 Steiner, Tyrant's Writ 100 n. 3. Cf. also Pl. Theaet. 191c, 191d, 192b, 193c-d and Steiner's discussion (100-105).

17 See Thomas, Literacy and Orality 58-59, on the use of writing to mark or protect ownership.

18 For the latter see Pl. Theaet. 191d, 192a; Arist. Mem. 450a-b.

19 For important alternate interpretations of the Critias fragment see Kroll, Theognis-Interpretationen 53 n. 132 and bibliography cited there; Tulli, "La [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] di Crizia."

20 See Steiner, Tyrant's Writ 226, for a similar interpretation of Critias' meaning and an interesting discussion of its antidemocratic implications.

21 Compare line 252 [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] with the Midas epigram ([GREEK TEXT OMITTED]/[GREEK TEXT OMITTED], etc.) or line 251 [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] with a partial line from the incomplete sixth-century epitaph [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] . . . (Pfohl, Poems on Stones no. 6).

22 Nagy, "A Poet's Vision" 46-51. Cf. Frankel's earlier characterization: "The book as we have it is so carelessly put together that several pieces occur twice over, with variants of the kind that tend to arise in oral transmission (in this case it is by no means certain that the version which occurs earlier in the collection is in fact the more original)" (Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy 408 n. 16, with cross-references).

23 See also arguments of Nagy ("A Poet's Vision" 46-51) and Hudson-Williams (Elegies of Theognis 74 and passim) for numerous parallels between Theognis and Homer and between Theognis and other early elegists, designed to show that "again and again the same phrases recur and the same expressions are found in the same metrical position."

24 It is, of course, difficult to tell at what stage of their transmission such variants were introduced, and Aristotle's variant quotations of the Epigramma Deliacum at Nic. Eth. 1099a27 and Eud. Eth. 1214a5, for example, make evident that the practice of imperfect quotation from memory continued long after texts become far more available. But our uncertainty permits that we at least entertain the possibility that the variants arose prior to the existence of any text rather than after.

25 Ford rightly raises questions about the extent to which Theognis is here claiming original authorship in the modern sense ("Seal of Theognis," 83-84). Nonetheless, in my opinion Ford goes too far in denying all consciousness of individual contributions to the poetry, by claiming (84) that oral poets attribute all their poetry to the Muses/tradition and therefore that Theognis must too. It seems to me that oral poets are at once aware of a debt to the tradition and of their own individual contribution. See my arguments in Lying and Poetry, e.g., 50-52. In any case Ford too seems to conceive of the Theognidea as a text. So too the pseudo-Platonic passage describing Hipparchus' activities, which Ford rightly adduces (89-91) as an excellent parallel for Theognis' own activity, gives a complex account of the joint responsibility of individual and tradition. He dismisses too hastily the part of the passage in which Hipparchus is explicitly said to have found out for himself certain things [GREEK TEXT OMITTED]. Notably, Hipparchus' fame likewise depends on a written form of publication (inscription).

26 See Rosler, Dichter und Gruppe 77-78.

27 Thus, for example, West's complex history of the Theognidean sylloge resembles in its assumptions the German analysts' attempts to construct a history of the texts of the Homeric poems. Both share assumptions about what the original text should have looked like that may not be entirely appropriate for poetry shaped by oral traditions. Individual poems designed to be memorized and performed orally may not need to be organized entirely coherently. Nor would they necessarily require literate standards of completeness. Interestingly, no ancient author quotes anything from Theognis that does not appear in the Theognidea manuscripts (though West, Studies 55-56, rightly points out that passages that have "already excited comment or given other service" are likely to be epitomized). All portions of the corpus are represented in ancient quotations from Theognis, although the earliest quotations (fourth century) come from the early part of the collection (lines 14, 21-22, 33-36, 77-78, 125-26, 177, 183-90, 434-38). But I do not want to place undue emphasis on this part of my argument, for it is clear that the current organization of the corpus is not entirely original. For example, it seems virtually certain that the paederastic verses now segregated in a second book were originally integrated into the rest of the corpus. See West, Studies 43-45, for evidence and arguments. For further discussion of evidence for the order of the poems in early manuscripts see West 56-57. See Rosler, Dichter und Gruppe 77-91, for a different view of 19-236, which he argues constitutes the original Theognis book.

28 I presented a version of this essay at the conference Voice into Text: Orality and Literacy in Ancient Greece, at the University of Tasmania, 5 July 1994. I am grateful to Ian Worthington, the organizer of the conference, and to the participants for their comments and suggestions. I also owe thanks to Peter Bing, Ruth Scodel, George Kennedy, and an anonymous reader for AJP, for their helpful advice. My research was supported by a grant from the Emory University Research Committee.


Allen, T. W. "Theognis." CR 19 (1905) 394.

Bonner, R. J. "The Use and Effect of Attic Seals." CP 3 (1908) 399-407.

Bowie, E. L. "Early Greek Elegy, Symposium and Public Festival." JHS 106 (1986) 13-35.

Chadwick, John. "Linear B." In Hooker, Reading the Past, 137-95.

Charpin, Dominique. "Des scelles a la signature: l'usage des sceaux dans la Mesopotamie antique." In Ecritures, edited by Anne-Marie Christin, II 13-22. Paris: Le Sycomore, 1985.

Easterling, P. E., and B. M. W. Knox, eds. The Cambridge History of Greek Literature. Vol. I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Figueira, Thomas J., and Gregory Nagy, eds. Theognis of Megara: Poetry and the Polls. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

Finnegan, Ruth H. Oral Poetry: Its Nature, Significance, and Social Context. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Ford, Andrew. "The Seal of Theognis: The Politics of Authorship in Archaic Greece." In Figueira and Nagy, Theognis, 82-95.

Frankel, Hermann. Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy. Translated by Moses Hadas and James Willis. New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.

Giannini, Pietro. "Espressioni formulari nell'elegia greca arcaica." QUCC 16 (1973) 7-78.

Hooker, J. T., ed. Reading the Past: Ancient Writing from Cuneiform to the Alphabet. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990.

Hudson-Williams, T. The Elegies of Theognis. London: G. Bell, 1910.

Jacoby, Felix. Theognis. Sonderausgabe aus den Sitzungsberichten der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Klasse, 10. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1931.

Kenna, Victor E. G. "The Provenience of Seals and Sealings with Hieroglyphic Script." Kadmos 8 (1969) 103-9.

----- . "Seals and Script with Special Reference to Ancient Crete." Kadmos 1 (1962) 1-15.

----- . "Seals and Script II." Kadmos 3 (1963) 1-6.

----- . "Seals and Script III: Cretan Seal Use and the Dating of Linear Script B." Kadmos 3 (1964) 29-57.

Kroll, Josef. Theognis-Interpretationen. Philologus Supplement 29. Leipzig: Dieterichische Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1936.

Lord, Albert B. The Singer of Tales. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960.

Nagy, Gregory. "Theognis and Megara: A Poet's Vision of His City." In Figueira and Nagy, Theognis, 22-81.

Nieddu, G. F. "La metafora della memoria come struttura e l'immagine dell'animo come deltos." Quaderni di Storia 19 (1984) 213-19.

Pfohl, Gerhard, ed. Greek Poems on Stones. Vol. I, Epitaphs: From the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries B.C. Textus Minores in Usum Academicum Sumptibus, 36. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1967.

Pratt, Louise. Lying and Poetry from Homer to Pindar: Falsehood and Deception in Archaic Greek Poets. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993.

Rosler, Wolfgang. Dichter und Gruppe: eine Untersuchung zu den Bedingungen und zur historischen Funktion fruher griechischer Lyrik am Beispiel Alkaios. Theorie und Geschichte der Literatur und der schonen Kunste 50. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1980.

Scodel, Ruth. "Inscription, Absence and Memory: Epic and Early Epitaph." SIFC, ser. 3, 10 (1992) 57-76.

Steiner, Deborah Tarn. The Tyrant's Writ: Myths and Images of Writing in Ancient Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Svenbro, Jesper. La parole et le marbre: aux origines de la poetique. Lund: Studentlitteratur, 1976.

----- . Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece. Translated by Janet Lloyd. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1993.

Thomas, Rosalind. Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Tulli, Mauro. "La [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] di Crizia." QUCC 48 (1985) 189-95.

Walker, C. B. F. "Cuneiform." In Hooker, Reading the Ancient Past, 16-73.

West, Martin L. Studies in Greek Elegy and Iambus. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1974.

Woodbury, Leonard. "The Seal of Theognis." In Studies in Honour of Gilbert Norwood, edited by Mary E. White, 20-41. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1952.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Johns Hopkins University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Pratt, Louise
Publication:American Journal of Philology
Date:Jun 22, 1995
Previous Article:Roman Marriage: 'Iusti Coniuges' from the Time of Cicero to the Time of Ulpian.
Next Article:Herodotus and the rhetoric of otherness.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters