Abstract: Equine Poetics

The project that I’ve been working on at the Center for Hellenic Studies is entitled Equine Poetics and it is a study of elements of Greek literature’s treatment of horses and horsemanship that can be understood in light of inherited Indo-European artistic and intellectual phenomena. It investigates both inherited poetic devices and broad conceptual traditions that were especially important in affecting Greek literature, especially poetry.

Although my stay at the Center has helped me to refine my project in several ways my presentation at the research symposium will focus on just a few that will, I hope, provide an impression of the sorts of work that I’ve been doing generally. As an example of the specific inherited devices that I’ve been tracking down I would like to highlight a couple of examples from Pindar’s Olympian 1 regarding his depiction of the charioteer as metapoetic representative of the poet himself. I will be discussing this vis-à-vis comparable phenomena in Indo-Iranian poetry and attempting to draw a connection between Pindar’s deployment of the image and Indo-Iranian depictions of similar images that occur in the context of descriptions of poetic payments. To illustrate the broad conceptual traditions that I am investigating I will also, very briefly, give an overview of my research into the horse-sacrifice that occurs in Plutarch’s Life of Pelopidas and I will try to convey an impression of my thoughts on its relationship to IE sacrificial ideology generally.