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The Monody of the Hoopoe in Aristophanes’

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Birds 227-62

image of Greek and Roman Musical Studies

Animal choruses are familiar in ancient Greek comedy. Besides Aristophanes, there are 13 examples of them. Vase paintings provide evidence from the beginnings of Old Comedy. They had to sing the traditional melic parts of the agon and the parabasis. Aristophanes used the comic animal chorus in Knights (424 BC), Wasps (422), Birds (414), Frogs (405) and Storks (395-387). Moreover, with the song of the Hoopoe in the Birds 227-62, Aristophanes presents an animal as soloist which sings an extended monody, a perfect example of the astropha, the structure of which is defined by content, changes of metre and probably of music, but not by alternating strophes and antistrophes. It can be demonstrated that the Hoopoe’s monody follows the model of the late astrophic monodies of Euripides and mirrors the astrophic structures of the New Dithyramb, later parodied by Aristophanes (Birds 1373-1409) in the person of the dithyrambic poet Cinesias.

Affiliations: 1: Universitaet ErlangenGermany


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