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Migrating Musical Myths

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The Case of the Libyan Aulos

image of Greek and Roman Musical Studies

Allusions to the ‘Libyan aulos’ or ‘Libyan lōtos’ are quite common in Euripides, but occur nowhere in earlier texts and only sporadically later. The identity of the instrument to which these unusual expressions refer is something of a mystery. I argue that it cannot be a special kind of instrument distinct from the familiar aulos, but that the designation reflects a mythological tradition, difficult but by no means impossible to trace in our sources, according to which the aulos and its music originated in North Africa rather than in Phrygia, where the more familiar legends locate it.

Affiliations: 1: University of Birmingham BirminghamUnited Kingdom


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1. Pöhlmann E., West M.L. Documents of Ancient Greek Music Oxford Oxford University Press
2. West M.L. 2014 The Making of the Odyssey Oxford Oxford University Press [Crossref]
3. West M.L. 2016 "Odysseus re-routed" Eikasmós Vol 27 11 23

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