Bryn Mawr Classical Review 04.03.29


Haritini Kotsidu, Die musischen Agone der Panathenäean in archaischer und klassischer Zeit: Eine historisch-archäologische Untersuchung. Munich: Tuduv, 1991. Pp. 301; 12 figures, 20 plates. ISBN 3-88073-418-6.


Reviewed by Richard Hamilton, Bryn Mawr College.

Contents: 1. Introduction and history of scholarship, II. Remarks on the ancient use of the concept "musical contest", III. The beginning and spread of musical contests (musical competitions in international festivals in Greece; the introduction of Panathenaic musical contests before Pericles), IV. Description of the Panathenaic musical contests (types and content of musical contests; reconstruction of the contest program; musical contestants; dedications; prizes), V. Representations of musical contests on Attic vases of the 6th and 5th C., VI. Location of the Panathenaic musical contests in the archaic and classical period (postSolonian agora as cult place and Panathenaic contest place; the "Odeion of Pericles"; the location of the musical contests and the west side of the Agora). VII. Conclusions.

This exemplary dissertation provides a thorough and up-to-date review of the primary evidence and the secondary literature (including unpublished dissertations) for virtually every imaginable question concerning the Panathenaic musical contests. In addition, most of the testimonia are provided (including Timotheus' Persians since K. is interested in the general development of music during this time) and catalogues of 86 pseudo-panathenaic amphorae and 139 other vases showing musical contests.

Some of K.'s main points: (1) musical contests through the classical period did not include choral contests such as dithyramb and drama; (2) the Panathenaic musical contests included rhapsodes, parodes, boy aulodes, boy kitharists, kitharodes, men aulodes, men kitharists, auletes, men's choruses, perhaps boys' choruses and sunaulia (double aulos-players, attested by Pollux and found on at least two 5th C. vases); (3) Plutarch is wrong to say that Pericles "first decreed that there be a musical contest at the Panathenaia"; and (4) the musical contests were held in the Agora, never in Pericles' Odeion.

Point #3 is no longer controversial (see e.g. Shapiro's essay reviewed below p.193), but K.'s full vase catalogues allow us to see how common musical contests were before Pericles though she confuses the value of pseudo-panathenaic amphorae as evidence for the existence of the contest, which is good, and their value as evidence for the type of prize, which is bad. (Also, she misunderstands the Hekatompedon inventories, which refer to the same crown year after year not to a series of identical crowns.) She might have noted that while pseudo-panathenaics often show non-Panathenaic scenes they are not simply a cross-section of contemporary vase painting: the frequency of musical contests on pseudo-panathenaics is many times greater than on vases in general.

Point #1 is trickier because the evidence is so fragmentary and so various, and when K. comes to reconstruct the musical contests she ends up including "choruses of men" on the basis of an Acropolis dedication but then does not define these as dithyrambs (since there is not talk of tribe or choregos) even though she thinks CIA ii 1367 proves there were dithyrambs at the Great Panathenaia. Yet the dedication goes on to say "he says that he won the tripod with very many (the most?) choruses elsewhere by tribes" and the specification of "elsewhere by tribes" could mean that the present victory too was "by tribes", the contrast being between Athenian victory and "outside" victory, not, as K. would have it, between tribal and non-tribal victory. Nor is CIA ii 1367 secure: on the base are carved five laurel crowns each with the word "(at the) Pythia"; in the center are two olive crowns with the inscriptions, "(at the) Great Panathenaia" and "(at the) Lenaia with dithyramb". Since dithyramb is specified only for the Lenaia it is almost certain that all the other victories were in Nikokles' speciality, kithara-singing (see Pausanias). Still, dithyramb is different: it is a group performance, organized and financed through tribal choregia and won by the tribe, and the prizes should be correspondingly different from the gold crowns and money of the musical contests and the oil of the equestrian and athletic contests, all of which are prizes for individuals. But the only place among the tribal/choregic events on our most complete Panathenaic prize list (IG ii2 2311) is after the pyrrhic dances, the torch race and the naval contest, which seems odd and I would have liked K. to have commented on this.

Otherwise, K.'s reconstruction of the Panathenaic musical contests (#2) is quite reasonable. One might object that the mention of men aulodes and kitharists does not necessarily imply boy aulodes and kitharists given the 2nd C. list of musical contests at the Artemisia in Ephesus (IG xii 9 189), which has only rhapsodes, men kitharists, kitharodes, and parodes, but that does not make her reconstruction unlikely. Parodes, which seem to be a form of parody, are perhaps the most surprising event in her list (not mentioned by Shapiro), but the testimony about the Thasian Hegemon (Poetics 1448a, Athenaeus 699A) seems irrefutable. I wonder if parodes were introduced by Pericles -- it may be significant that the one practitioner, Hegemon, comes from Thasos and his compatriot and contemporary Stesimbrotos not only performed at the Panathenaia but also reviled politicians, in what might be a parodic fashion.

K.'s discussion of the location of the musical contests (#4) begins by locating equestrian and athletic events in the Agora and determining that the Agora orchestra was used for cult dances not for theatrical presentations (which were confined to the precincts of Lenaian and Eleutherian Dionysus). Although there is little evidence for Panathenaic musical contests in the Agora, they were never in Pericles' Odeion, which could not have been a concert hall with all those columns (but rather a music school) and which probably was originally built right after the Persian Wars. The best evidence for them in the Agora is the Hephaestia inscription of 421 BC (IG I2 84), which mentions a penteteris, the Agora, and a musical contest for Athena and Hephaestus. Thus we may have musical contests for the penteteric Panathenaia in the Agora after the death of Pericles. K. does not consider some of the inscription's difficulties, particularly the dominant role of the hieropoioi, the mention of gymnasiarchs for the torch race and the other contest (singular!), which are to follow the model of the Prometheia the way the musical contest followed some erased model. It seems unlikely, then, that the musical contest is the Panathenaic one (which is not new) and we must either separate the Panathenaia from the inscription's penteteris or understand that this is not a first-time event. I am also bothered by K.'s treatment of the Pindaric dithyramb that seems to be located in the Agora, which she connects with the Anthesteria (following Webster), though, given the reference to spring flowers, it can hardly be Panathenaic.

In sum, this easily read dissertation is a handy guide to a wide range of problems; it is systematic, up-to-date, thorough, and useful, especially with its lists of vases and collections of the testimonia. The author is sensible and, particularly in the last part, constructs a complex and persuasive argument. The text is simply a photocopy of the original (somewhat corrected) dissertation, with the result that the print is uneven and sometimes quite faint in the testimonia. The plates, however, have been reproduced much more effectively.