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  • Hesiod and Classical Greek Poetry: Reception and Transformation in the Fifth Century B.C.E by Zoe Stamatopoulou
  • Stephanie Nelson
Zoe Stamatopoulou. Hesiod and Classical Greek Poetry: Reception and Transformation in the Fifth Century b.c.e.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. x, 270. $99.99. ISBN 978-1-107-16299-0.

Stamatopoulou's new work on Hesiodic reception fills in an important area in the nachleben of the Hesiodic poems. Focusing on the fifth century, with particular attention to lyric poetry and drama, Stamatopoulou joins works such as Richard Hunter's on ancient reception of the Works and Days (Hesiodic Voices: Studies in the Ancient Reception of Hesiod's Works and Days [Cambridge 2014]) and Stephen Scully's on the reception of the Theogony (Hesiod's Theogony: From Near Eastern Creation Myths to Paradise Lost [Oxford 2015]) but with a deliberately pinpointed approach. Rather than looking at the overall influence of Hesiod, Stamatopoulou targets specific "case studies" (1) ranging from Bacchylides to Aristophanes. While the approach can occasionally venture onto somewhat shaky ground, it allows for a study that can grapple on a word-by-word level with Hesiodic appropriation in fifth-century lyric and drama.

Stamatopoulou begins with an introduction that provides a concise, well-articulated account of the Hesiodic poems and their fifth-century reception, and closes with a conclusion that effectively recapitulates her findings. Chapter 1 opens with a close reading of truth, falsity, remembering, and forgetting, in the Proem to the Theogony and goes on to look at these themes in Bacchylides and Pindar, particularly at Nemean 7 (20–27)'s reference to Homer, in contradistinction to Hesiod. Arguing that the intertextual relation is far more complex than the simple Hesiod/truth and Homer/lies usually seen, Stamatopoulou reveals a Hesiodic and then an anti-Hesiodic construction of the poetic persona in Bacchylides' Ode 5 and Ode 3. The chapter ends by arguing that Paean 7b deliberately distances its depiction of creativity from both Homer and Hesiod. The second chapter continues this study in regard to narrative, looking at Pindar's Typhos in Pythian 1, Coronis in Pythian 3 and Hesiod frag. 60 Merkelbach-West, Cyrene in Pythian 9 and Hesiod frag. 215, and Ixion in Pythian 2 and Hesiod frag. 260, arguing in particular for a lyric enhancement and development of the female characters of Hesiodic narrative.

Having masterfully explored how lyric expands upon the nuance of the Hesiodic persona and narrative, chapter 3 moves on to consider didactic, particularly as embodied in an association of Hesiodic poetics with gnomai. By looking at Isthmian 6's displacement of the victor in favor of his father and at Chiron in Pythian 6, Stamatopoulou argues for a reference to Hesiodic gnomai as a mark of distinction and success, while also acknowledging a qualitative difference between an explicit engagement with Hesiod and the mere employment of traditional wisdom.

The final chapters of the book turn from a largely positive lyric reception to the Prometheus trilogy, the Ion, and (amongst other comic works) Cratinus' Archilochoi, Chirones, and (briefly) Ploutoi and Aristophanes' Frogs and Birds. Here, Stamatopoulou argues, Hesiodic poetics tends to be rewritten and undermined. Beginning with tragedy, she describes the Io of the Prometheus Bound as undercutting Hesiod's celebration of Olympian sexual politics (a revision continued more drastically in the Ion); Prometheus Released as involving a problematized revision of Zeus' relation to Cronos; and the satyr-drama Prometheus Pyrkaeus revealing yet another, now more positive, facet in the Hesiodic tradition. The range of Hesiodic references in Old Comedy goes even further, most [End Page 442] impressively in a rich and detailed study of the Birds' subversion and usurpation of Hesiodic narrative. Building upon themes that have run throughout, Stamatopoulou ties this revision of Hesiod back to the issue of sexual politics and the depiction of women, and to a fascinating tension that has also been noted throughout the book between the Panhellenic and the Athenocentric in Hesiodic reception.

Although Stamatopoulou's detailed method of exploration may appeal primarily to scholars currently at work on these texts, the opportunity to closely examine the wordplay involved, particularly in the case of lyric, more than counterbalances...


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