Hearing the Syrinx in Euripidean Tragedy


Weiss N. Hearing the Syrinx in Euripidean Tragedy. In: Phillips T, D'Angour A Music and Text in Ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ; 2018. pp. 139-62.


References to the syrinx are mostly absent from extant tragedy until the late fifth century BC, when the instrument suddenly starts appearing in Euripides’ plays, especially in the choral odes. This chapter demonstrates that the syrinx is almost always mentioned alongside the aulos, the double pipe that accompanied dramatic choreia, or in such a way that the aulos is strongly suggested, so that the one instrument is meant to be heard as the other. Such instrumental mimesis in Euripides’ tragedies does more than just show off his own skill and engagement with contemporary musical trends and discourse: it is also always used for a particular dramatic effect, thus providing evidence of his increasing experimentation towards the end of his career with the role(s) music could play within a tragedy.

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Last updated on 10/11/2018