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Abstract: The Image and the Text: Dedicatory Epigrams on Stone and Strategies of Communication in Archaic and Classical Athens

My project deals with the interplay between image and literary-linguistic features of Archaic and Classical Attic dedicatory epigrams on stone in the communication with their two-fold audience, the god and the passers-by or, more broadly and importantly, the patron’s fellow citizens. Since epigrams were part of the ordinary life and “formulaic” on several respects, including their structure (shape of the monument, type of alphabet and dialect, layout of the text), I investigate how some patrons of inscribed epigrams deliberately “interplayed” with the three different languages through which epigrams spoke to their audience — that of art and archaeology (the dedicated, often artistically elaborated, object; the technique used to craft it); that of epigraphy (alphabet used; form of the letters; text’s disposition on the stone); that of language and style (while prose dedications are composed exclusively in the dialect of the dedicator, dedicatory epigrams, as poetic compositions, are influenced by poetic models) — to differentiate their inscribed monuments from the standard ones, in order to stand out. The first means, in terms of timing and level, to communicate to the audience was the physical image of the monument (the language of archaeology and epigraphy); the second, deeper, involved the literary form. As to the latter, I explore how the Attic-based language of verse-dedications was enhanced by features and language of poetic models, of epic as well as choral lyric. I argue that features of prestigious literary traditions were often selected in epigrams certainly because of metrical convenience or to convey a poetic flavor to the epigram, but also that the audience and the context, local or broader, which epigrams were referring to, played an important role in choosing a local vs. a traditional form.

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