Tragic Noise and Rhetorical Frigidity in Lycophron’s "Alexandra"
Cambridge University Press
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Nelson, T., & Molesworth, K. Tragic Noise and Rhetorical Frigidity in Lycophron’s "Alexandra". Classical Quarterly https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.48767
In this paper, we seek to shed fresh light on the aesthetic and stylistic affiliations of Lycophron’s Alexandra, approaching the poem from two distinct but complementary angles. First, we explore what can be gained by reading Lycophron’s poem against the backdrop of Callimachus’ poetry. We contend that the Alexandra presents a radical and polemical departure from the Alexandrian’s poetic programme, pointedly appropriating key Callimachean images, while also countering Callimachus’ apparent dismissal of the ‘noisy’ tragic genre. Previous scholarship has noted links between the openings of the Aetia and Alexandra, but we contend that this relationship is only one part of a larger aesthetic divide between the two poets: by embracing the raucous acoustics of tragedy, Lycophron’s poem offers a self-conscious and agonistic departure from Callimachus’ aesthetic preferences. Second, we consider another way of conceiving the aesthetics of the poem beyond a Callimachean frame, highlighting how Lycophron pointedly engages with and evokes earlier Aristotelian literary criticism concerning the ‘frigid’ style. We contend that the Alexandra constructs its own independent literary history, centred around the alleged name of its author, ‘Lycophron’. We suggest that this traditional attribution is best understood as a pen name that signposts the poem’s stylistic affiliations, aligning it not so much with the Ptolemaic playwright Lycophron of Chalcis, but rather with a larger rhetorical tradition of stylistic frigidity. Ultimately, through these two approaches we hope to highlight further aspects of the Alexandra’s aesthetic diversity.
Lycophron, Aesthetics, Frigidity, Tragedy, Callimachus, Hellenistic Poetry
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This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.48767
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/301696
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