When we speak of Greek or Roman writers and their public an obvious distinction must be made. Some of the most important classical literary genres - say, epic poetry, drama, oratory, and lyric poetry (at least in some of its varieties) - were written for a given situation and had an intrinsically ceremonial character. Epic poetry originally had the function of evoking a significant past and entertaining guests in royal and aristocratic gatherings, as Homer himself explains. Tragedy and comedy were ceremonial productions in the most formal way and never lost their original connection with religious festivals. Oratory was defined by its setting - either tribunals or (what at feast for the Greeks was almost the same) assemblies. More rarely, orators performed as ambassadors before kings. Lyric poetry often presupposed addresses to gods, heroes, sovereigns, or winners of games. Even when poetry is related to personal (political or erotic) circumstances, there is no doubt in the poet's mind as to whom he is addressing. A convivial setting is often presupposed by lyric poetry, as it was by epic poetry. A further common feature of these ceremonial performances was that very often they took .the form of competition between performers. In poetry the victor was given a prize, in oratory victory was
• [Annali del/aS,'1I0/a Nonrw/eSuperiore di Pisa, Serie III, vol. VUl, fasc, I, 1978, pp. 59-751 (Bibliografia, n. 594).