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The Musical Culture of the Western Greeks, according to Epigraphical Evidence

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image of Greek and Roman Musical Studies

AbstractInscriptions concerning musicians in and from Magna Graecia illuminate the musical life of the Western Greeks. There are chronological restrictions; all the inscriptions were written in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, none in Archaic and Classical times. We shall consider resemblances and differences between them and those of mainland Greece and Asia Minor, and relationships between Magna Graecia and Rome. Many inscriptions are honorific decrees for victors in local and Panhellenic musical contests, notably at Delphi. Others are lists of participants, whose commonest musical specialisms were also, perhaps, the most popular. Some reveal the functions of musicians in sanctuaries. Funerary inscriptions, not always evoking the music of the elites, mention composers as well as performers, identifying their gender, age and social status. Some are in verse, elucidating the Western Greeks’ conception of µουσική itself, and their poetic techniques for expressing on a stone the feelings of a musical soul.

Affiliations: 1: Ecole Française d’Athènes / French School at


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