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Weaving a Song. Convergences in Greek Poetic Imagery between Textile and Musical Terminology. An Overview on Archaic and Classical Literature

Fanfani, Giovanni

This paper explores instances of terminological interaction between the technical lexicon of textile crafts (in particular weaving) and the language of instrumental music in archaic and classical Greek poetry. Such a sustained pattern of convergence is favoured by perceived similarities in technology, craft, and in the auditory sphere: in both literary and iconographical sources the technique of striking the strings of a lyra or kithara with a plectrum is assimilated to the act of hitting and strumming threads on a loom with a weft-beater. More broadly, it is possible to observe the long-standing association in ancient Greek musical imagery between the craft of weaving and the craft of playing (mainly stringed) instruments, with cases of appropriation of the technical lexicon of weaving by emerging discourses on musical innovation in Greek poetry. This pattern of terminological interaction is then positioned within the wider area of textile imagery for poetry-making, in turn part of the larger system of Greek craftsmanship imagery for poetic creation.

Published in: Salvatore Gaspa, C├ęcile Michel, Marie-Louise Nosch (eds), 'Textile Terminologies from the Orient to the Mediterranean and Europe, 1000 BC to 1000 AD', Lincoln, NE, Zea Books 2017, pp. 421-436. Giovanni Fanfani's research for this paper has been supported a MOBILEX grant of the Danish Council for Independent Research and FP7 Marie Curie Actions - COFUND (DFF - 1321-00158).
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