Aristophanes’ Bacchylides: Reading Birds 1373–1409

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The significance of Aristophanes in the history of ancient literary criticism cannot be doubted. Equally undoubted is also the dismissive attitude that he appears to have towards the musical and poetic innovations of the late-fifth century BC. This position of his becomes essential when one considers the manner in which he treats the appraised canonical lyric poets and the contemned representatives of the New Dithyramb. This paper is concerned with the reading specifically of Bacchylides in Aristophanes. It argues in favour of the use of Bacchylides’ Ode 5 to Hieron in Birds 1373-1409 as well as for the poem’s reconfiguration by Kinesias within the context of the New Music. In the process it will allow us to comment on a number of poetic characteristics of Bacchylides’ poetry and also to draw conclusions on Bacchylides’ status within the melic tradition as the poet in-between classical lyric poetry and the New Music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184–210
Number of pages27
JournalGreek and Roman Musical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2014


  • Bacchylides
  • Aristophanes
  • comic criticism
  • New Music
  • classical melic poetry


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