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HorkosThe Oath in Greek Society$
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Alan Sommerstein and Judith Fletcher

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781904675679

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781904675679.001.0001

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Oath and Allusion in Alcaeus fr. 129

Oath and Allusion in Alcaeus fr. 129

(p.179) 15 Oath and Allusion in Alcaeus fr. 129

Mary R. Bachvarova

Liverpool University Press

In Alcaeus fr. 129, the Lesbian gods are called to their sanctuary to witness the poet's demand for an Erinys to be sent after Pittacus. Pittacus, Alcaeus's former co-conspirator, has forsworn his oath, forcing Alcaeus into exile and supposedly bringing suffering to the Lesbian people. The poem juxtaposes the formal invocation and the crude curse against Alcaeus's enemy. This chapter examines the imagery of Alcaeus fr. 129 in the context of the imagery of oaths from the ancient Near East cultural area, including Akkadian, Hittite, Hebrew, and Aramaic oaths spanning the period from 1400 bc to 600 bc. It looks at the inherent possibilities of poetic and literary devices in oaths and how they are exploited by Alcaeus, focusing on the ritual counterparts to intertextual allusion inherent in oaths. The chapter also considers Alcaeus's description of the oath and perjury of Pittakos, whom he calls ‘Potbelly’ (physkon).

Keywords:   oaths, Alcaeus fr. 129, Pittacus, Alcaeus, imagery, allusion, perjury, ancient Near East

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