Sangue che uccide. Il committente, il pubblico e il poeta nell' Epinicio V di Bacchilide

Maria Elena Antoniono, Ombretta Cesca


Bacchylides’ Epinicion V to Hieron of Siracusa celebrates the tyrant’s victory in 476 B.C. at Olympia. The epinicion tells the myth of Meleager’s death with an interesting and unusual link with Heracles, the two characters meeting each other in the underworld. Meleager tells the story of his death at the hands of his mother, who meant to protect other family links. Heracles, impressed by Meleager’s beauty and deeply moved by his words, asks him if he has a sister of marriageable age, thus choosing with this question his own destiny as well: Deianira, just like Meleager’s mother, will kill Heracles. At first sight the atmosphere of the epinicion is gloomy and not appropriate to celebrate a bright victory. This seems to give a warning to the lucky tyrant to not exaggerate in being proud. On the other hand, Bacchylides’ choice to associate two heroes whose death is caused by family members seems to criticize oligarchic family clans. Reading the epinicion carefully, it seems to have a double meaning: the first belittles the tyrant’s victory, gratifying his enemies, i.e. the clans; the second criticizes the oligarchy, pleasing Hieron. This situation could reflect the will of the poet to gratify, during his performance, the tyrant who commissioned the poem, but at the same time not to lose the approval of the oligarchic public, who could commission other poems in the future.

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ISSN: 1826-803X

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