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Memories of Satyr Drama in the Work of C. P. Cavafy

Andreas P. Antonopoulos. Hellenic Open University / University of Patras. Greece.

 

Memories of Satyr Drama in the Work of C. P. Cavafy

Andreas P. Antonopoulos. Hellenic Open University / University of Patras. Greece.

andreas.antonopoulos@ac.eap.gr

Of all modern authors, the Greek Antiquity is by far mostly remembered and celebrated in the poetic work of the Alexandria born Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), who draws much inspiration from the Hellenistic, the Roman and even the Byzantine past. In his poetry he often remembers and recreates small moments from history, but even more interesting are those poems where he is dialogizing with the ancient art and the material culture that has come down to us. Out of five poems dealing with sculpture, the present paper will focus on his Dionysus’ Entourage, a unique and fascinating remembrance of satyr drama in the Cavafic corpus. Correlating the poem with information provided by ancient plays, such as Sophocles’ Ichneutai, and also with data from the Satyric and generally the Dionysiac iconography, we will see what ancient elements Cavafy chose to remember and how he combined them into a new composition, manufacturing in his poem an impressive, but fictional satyric relief on marble. Of particular interest for our cause, are the ancient Greek names Cavafy is quoting for Satyrs and Nymphs in his own version of the Dionysiac thiasos. Such names are indeed attested for the followers of Dionysos on vase-paintings and on other remnants of the material culture. With the poet as our guide to the Classical past, we will trace his influences and attempt to reconstruct

his imaginary relief.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cavafy, C.P. Collected Poems (1975), Ed. G. Savidis, transl. E. Keeley and Ph. Sherrard, Princeton.

Antonopoulos A.P. (2014) ‘Named Satyrs in Sophocles’ Ichneutai’, Philologus 58, 53-64.

Giannakopoulou L. (2017) The Power of Pygmalion, Ancient Greek Sculpture in Modern Greek Poetry, 1860-1960, Bern.

Dimaras C.Th. (1932) ‘Cavafy's Technique of Inspiration’, transl. by Diana Haas, Grand Street 8 no. 3 (1983).

Keely E. (1995) Cavafy's Alexandria (expanded edition), Princeton.

O’ Sullivan P. & Collard C. (2013) Euripides’ Cyclops and Major Fragments of Greek Satyric Drama, Oxford.

Webster T.B.L. (19672), Monuments Illustrating Tragedy & Satyr Play, London.

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