Music and the Muses: The Culture of ‘Mousik e’ in the Classical Athenian City


2004 | ISBN: 0199242399 | English | 225 pages | PDF | 4 MB

This book explores the role of mousike, the realm of the Muses, in Greek life. More wide-ranging in its implications than the English ‘music’, mousike lay at the heart of Greek culture, and was often indeed synonymous with culture. In its commonest form it represented for the Greeks a seamless complex of music, poetry, song, and dance, encompassing a vast array of performances – from small-scale entertainment in the private home to elaborate performances involving the entire community. Yet the history of the field has been hitherto narrowly conceived, and the broader cultural significance of mousike largely ignored. Focusing mainly on classical Athens, these chapters analyse the theory and practice of musical performance in a variety of social contexts and demonstrate the centrality of mousike to the values and ideology of the polis. Topics covered include the so-called ‘new musical revolution’ in late 5th-century Athens, the musical and performative dimension of Greek religion, the ethical and philosophical aspects of Athenian mousike, and its role in the formation of social values through education or paideia. The book as a whole provides an integrated cultural analysis of central aspects of Greek mousike and furthers our understanding of the power of music as a cultural phenomenon.

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