Greece Opera Part I

Exhausted the living sources of the epic, poetry, fantasy, sentiment had to find another outlet. In fact, they found it in the many forms of what we conventionally call lyric: which had its splendor in the seventh and sixth centuries. C. With it the primitive lyric-musical manifestations, mentioned above, which had played their part in the beginnings of the epic itself, for example, returned to the surface and acquired literary dignity. in the short Aeolian “songs of deeds” (when the heroic verses were not recited but sung), and which were then increasingly submerged by the tendency of the Ionians towards the great narrative organisms and towards the logical-discursive form. A distinctive feature of the opera was, as the name implies, the accompaniment of song and music (by means of the lyre, or the zither, or the flute, or other instruments, according to the “genres”): external character, which however corresponded to a special intrinsic disposition of the material. Truly, when one speaks of Greek lyric, one should not think of poetry of pure outpouring of sentiments: because this was always very rare among the Greeks, especially at the beginning, and would have implied a greater and more rapid development in the spiritual faculties, in the psychology and self-awareness. The material of the lyric is in general that of the epic, or not very different, that is, made up of myths, tales, fables, etc.; but felt and relived in another way: in a deeper, more intimate, more subjective way. Among the phenomena that most distinguish the spiritual transformation in the passage from the age of Homer to the age of the lyricists, the rise, albeit slow and gradual, of subjectivism and individualism is very remarkable: the attitude of individuals to look into their own self., or to affirm its own personality by detaching it from the anonymous team of social groups. Naturally these tendencies were barely beginning to take shape: they were overwhelmed (and will continue to be so for a long time, almost until the Alexandrian age) by the opposing forces of collectivism, traditionalism, the authoritarian spirit, etc. But also, in the long and fruitful struggle that is fought throughout Greek history for the unfolding of the individual conscience, the first steps taken then are of great importance. Hesiod – as we have seen – is the first personality to appear with his own, subjective character. Because of this character he manages to detach himself a little from the common groove of the epic, in which he is working; and serves as a transition to the new genre. He is followed by the numerous figures of the lyricists, each of whom knows how to make his own person shine through beyond the subject matter.

According to, there were various conditions and occasions that favored the increase in opera. First of all, the political conditions. With the disappearance of the monarchies of heroic times, a period of great upheavals and bitter passions began in the free cities, through the different phases of aristocracy, tyranny and democracy. Add the religious crisis, which is also a characteristic of the century. VII and VI: since, in contrast to the naive theology of the Homeric poems, on the one hand incredulity and criticism spread, on the other new forms of more ardent and more enthusiastic faith were born, nourished by the mysteries. In the midst of these events the life of sentiment intensified; strong personalities took on prominence, and sought their expression in song. Sometimes it was the politicians themselves,

With its variety, the lyric corrisoonde, better than any other literary form, to the colorful framework of the nation. And it is widespread a little everywhere, in the multitude of small states that had sprung up or were emerging, with an infinite torment of passions and internal discords, as well as in the motherland, as in the colonies of East and West. However, the different centers of irradiation can and must also be distinguished for opera. Ionia, of course, occupies a very special place. It, which had given development to the epic and which still held the primacy in the whole of culture, could not for obvious reasons excel in the lyric: because this was opposed by logical, pragmatic, discursive tendencies, which were the main feature of the Ionians and the foundation of their excellence in other fields. Indeed, the Ionians in the field of lyric originally produced those only forms that came closest (both in the rhythmic aspect, as in the substance) to the epic, and therefore also to the narration, to the reasoning, to the discourse: that is the elegy and the iambo, which the ancients considered as a median genre (not fully lyric) and designated with the name of the heroic compositions, that is ἔπη “discursive verses”.

The dependence and almost direct filiation from the epic is especially manifest in the elegy: which repeats more or less the same heroic meter, the dactyl hexameter, and only breaks its too long and solemn continuity, alternating each whole hexameter with a truncated hexameter. (the so-called pentameter) so as to constitute short stanzas (elegiac couplets: ἔλεϕοι) with a rapid and tight cadence. The iambo was mostly, like the epic verse, in a continuous series, free from the ties and divisions of the stanzas: but on the other hand it had a more humble trend in itself and very close to the familiar discourse. Both the elegiac and the iambic meter derived, according to all likelihood, from the pre-Hellenic peoples of the East; and originally they were accompanied with music and singing. It is said that ἔλεγοι meant ” on which the elegiac couplets were modulated in the prehistoric age. But in the spirit of the Ionians these primordial forms of poetry changed their nature somewhat, and became purely recitative, thus lending themselves to the exposition of any subject, even didactic and reasoned. Originally (according to a tradition to which there is no reason to deny faith) the elegy was a kind of “lament” to be sung at funerals; but when it appears to us in the light of history, we find it now engaged in all sorts of topics: war songs, expressions of love, narratives of legends, political exhortations, moral and philosophical teachings. Sometimes, arranged in a very short series of couplets, it serves as an inscription or epigram (hence the use of epigrams, which will later become frequent and varied) to be placed on tombs, monuments, etc.: but it is not lyrical, not querulous, not passionate; but narrative, commemorative, lapidary. Similarly, the iambo had originally been a kind of salacious song in which popular jokes and jokes were expressed (therefore it was inserted, as we have seen, in Margite pseudomeric, in contrast to heroic hexameters); but then, in literary use, it too extends to the varied world of wisdom, everyday reality, fable, moral preaching, etc. Overall, the elegy and the iambo collect all those elements of life, meditation, thought, etc., which did not fit the rigid and outdated form of the epic. These two new poetic forms take place in parallel; the lovers of one are often also lovers of the other; they are both expression of a single historical moment and of the same spiritual environment, Ionia; and only it should be noted that the elegy reflects the rather aristocratic side of life and conscience, while the humble and plebeian side prefers to emerge in the iambo.

Writer of elegies, but above all of iambi, he was, towards the middle of the century. VII, Archilochus of Paro: who from the historical-literary tradition and from the few fragments appears to us as one of the most powerful figures of Greek poetry. He pours into his poetry, with unusual audacity, feelings of love and hatred, of anger and revenge. The ardor of passion gives his personality an extraordinary prominence, and allows him to bare, unscrupulously, the less noble, and perhaps shameful and obscene aspects of life and reality in general. He also has preceptic purposes; and draws material not only from his personal events, but from the realm of the fable, which serves him to symbolically represent the defects of humanity and provides him with the most appropriate elements for his popular wisdom,

Greece Opera 1