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Shot from the canon: Sources, selections, survivals

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Chapter Summary

Ion's piecemeal survival makes assessment of his role and significance at once intriguing and frustrating. His fragments are limited in number, and they all depend on some intermediary author. The circumstances of selection and reproduction, and the interests and methods of later generations of scholars and authors are better represented than the actual work of Ion. His influence on early Greek literature, and the variety of his work, makes him a figure of particular interest for a study of the survival of ancient literature and the process of canon formation. The Foundation of Chios is a good example of the selectivity of our sources. This survives in only three fragments: one is preserved in a selection of ancient examples of wine mixing; another because it contained an unusual word (recorded as an Attic variant); the longest because Pausanias, defying the normal practice, preferred to hunt out local sources.

Keywords: Attic variant; canon formation; early Greek literature; Ion of Chios; Pausanias



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