Skip to main content

When Sounds Become Song: Thauma as a Response to Musical Transformations

By Amy Lather

In archaic and classical usage, thauma, "wonder", and its cognates are used to designate the overwhelming affective power of certain phenomena. And while thauma is most often cited as a response to visual experiences, there are several passages that link it specifically to music. In this paper I consider three passages in which such an encounter is described in detail in order to elucidate the ways in which music could evoke thauma.

Aristotle on Musical Emotions

By Juan Pablo Mira

Music affords a suitable “ambient” for the arousal of emotion and can change the appearance of and object, and so our belief towards that object. In this sense music acts as a catalyst for the appearance of emotions, imitating their physiological output, i.e. bodily motions and sounds. It can make us, like wine, readily vulnerable and apt to an emotional response changing our body; but the emotional response is about something different outside the music, i.e., a proper intentional object able to arouse emotions.

Is the Idea of “Musical Emotion” Present in Classical Antiquity?

By Andreas Kramarz

This paper will investigate to what degree the concepts related to “musical emotion,” a term coined by contemporary music psychology, can be traced in ancient classical music theory. As the debate among present-day philosophers of music and psychologists shows, the notion of “musical emotion” is not clearly defined, nor is there agreement on what role, if any, it plays in the musical experience.

Pagan Vision and Christian Voice in Eudocia’s De martyrio sancti Cypriani

By Pavlos Avlamis

The empress Eudocia’s De martyrio sancti Cypriani is a curious and rare cultural artefact. It is a versification in Homeric hexameters and combination of various Christian hagiographical accounts on St Cyprian that was written by a pagan convert caught up in the culture wars of the 5th century CE about paideia.

Maronian Nectar: Nonnus, Homer and Vergil

By Tim Whitmarsh

In the first half of Nonnus’ Dionysiaca, a substantial amount of space is given over to Dionysus’s charioteer, Maron. This paper considers why. The long-standing poetological significance of the chariot (Choerilus SH 317.4-5, Astydamas II TGrF 60 T2b, Callimachus, Aetia 1.25-8; Nünlist 1998, 255-64 for earlier examples) prompts the reader to explore the wider literary significance of this figure. What drives Nonnus’ Dionysus?

Circling Time: Aion in Nonnus’ Dionysiaca

By Emily Kneebone

Nonnus’ double-length epic the Dionysiaca presents itself as both mythically prior to, and chronologically posterior to, the poems of Homer. Nonnus’ narrative of the birth and exploits of Dionysus makes much of its narrative precedence to Homeric events, narrating the riverside battles of Achilles’ grandfather Aeacus, for instance, as a knowing ‘prefiguration’ of Achilles’ own quintessentially Iliadic performance (D. 22.384-9).