• Attalid Aesthetics. The Pergamene ‘Baroque’ Reconsidered

    Author(s):
    Thomas J. Nelson (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Group(s):
    Ancient Greece & Rome
    Subject(s):
    Classics, Hellenistic history, Greek and Latin poetry, Ancient Greek poetry, Aesthetics, Baroque
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Attalids, Pergamon, Hellenistic literature, Hellenistic Poetry
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/fgg1-v338
    Abstract:
    In this paper, I explore the literary aesthetics of Attalid Pergamon, one of the Ptolemies’ fiercest cultural rivals in the Hellenistic period. Traditionally, scholars have reconstructed Pergamene poetry from the city’s grand and monumental sculptural programme, hypothesizing an underlying aesthetic dichotomy between the two kingdoms: Alexandrian ‘refinement’ vs. the Pergamene ‘baroque’. In this paper, I critically reassess this view by exploring surviving scraps of Pergamene poetry: an inscribed encomiastic epigram celebrating the Olympic victory of a certain Attalus (IvP I.10), and an inscribed dedicatory epigram featuring a speaking Satyr (SGO I.06/02/05). By examining these poems’ sophisticated engagements with the literary past and contemporary scholarship, I challenge the idea of a simple opposition between the two kingdoms. In reality, the art and literature of both political centres display a similar capacity to embrace both the refined and the baroque. In conclusion, I ask how this analysis affects our interpretation of the broader aesthetic landscape of the Hellenistic era and suggest that the literature of both capitals belongs to a larger system of elite poetry which stretched far and wide across the Hellenistic world.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 weeks ago
    License:
    Attribution
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