Ancient Greek Dance Aesthetics and the Dipylon Wine Jug

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: SCAS, Thunbergssalen Linneanum, Thunbergsvägen 2, Uppsala
  • Lecturer: Eric Cullhed, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS. Associate Professor of Greek, Uppsala University
  • Website
  • Organiser: Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
  • Contact person: Stina Grånäs
  • Phone: 018-55 70 85
  • Seminarium

One of the oldest preserved Greek alphabetic inscriptions, the graffito on the Dipylon wine jug (IG I² 919, eight century BCE), records an announcement in epic verse stating that the prize will be awarded to the dancer who dances atalōtata. What does this word reveal about the nature of this dance competition? Scholars have previously reached different conclusions. Some envision a contest in ‘graceful’ dancing, others in ‘dynamic’ free-style dancing, and yet others in erotically suggestive dancing. Reexamining the semantics and implications of the word atalos in Greek epic, I argue that it is used to pick out an aesthetic or artistic quality that is repeatedly praised in archaic texts: that of dancing with the carefree abandon of a child. In the process I reflect on methodological issues pertaining to the analysis of ‘thick’ (i.e. evaluative and descriptive) terms in historical research.

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