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Thaumastic Acoustics

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Typhoeus and ‘Ty-phonics’ in Pindar, Pythian 1.26 and Hesiod, Theogony 834

image of Mnemosyne

This article considers Pindar’s use of the expression θαῦµα … ἀκοῦσαι, ‘a wonder to hear’, in Pythian 1 to describe the monster Typhoeus. I argue that the expression needs to be read against Hesiod’s use of a similar locution, θαύµατ’ ἀκοῦσαι, to describe Typhoeus in the Theogony. There, Hesiod adapts the common epic formula θαῦµα ἰδέσθαι, producing a unique phrase to indicate Typhoeus’ chaotic blending of sights and sounds, and at the same time his disruption of the rules of poetic communication. Typhoeus’ disharmonious poetics there stands in contrast to the orderly image of the choral Muses in the proem. I argue in turn that Pindar subtly reworks the Hesiodic formula to reflect Typhoeus’ defeat by Zeus, and thereby subsumes the monster’s ‘acoustics’ within the θαῦµα of the choral performance of the ode itself.

Affiliations: 1: Newcastle University, School of History, Classics and Archaeology


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