ABSTRACT

Open any history or hand-book of Greek literature in general, or Greek lyric in particular, and you will very soon come across several references to monody and choral lyric as important divisions within the broader field of melic poetry. And the terms loom larger than the mere question of handy labels: they permeate and pervade the whole approach to archaic Greek poetry. Chapters or sub-headings in literary histories bear titles like ‘Archaic choral lyric’ or ‘Monody’. Indeed it is possible to write a whole book and call it Early Greek Monody. 1 Diehl's Anthologia Lyrica Graeca was structured around this distinction, which it adopted in preference to the chronological arrangement that is the obvious alternative. Indeed, it went so far as 'to invent Greek titles “μονωιδιíαι” and “ χοραηδιαι” (sic)’. 2 Most scholars would now agree that this is to go too far. But most would also continue to accept the validity and importance of the division, which a scholar 3 has recently termed 'the most fundamental generic distinction within ancient lyric poetry’.