Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Christopher G. Brown


Ethnicity, gender, and class define the ancient Olympic athlete, but the importance of difference and identity to the body of literature associated with the ancient Olympics – especially the epinicians of Pindar and the corpus of athletic epigrams found at Olympia – has not been adequately recognized. Moreover, a holistic approach to athletic verse, in which epinician and epigram are conceptually united, is still lacking, despite the clear generic affinities of these different modes of poetry and their shared conceptual space. In order to fill this gap, my dissertation argues for a comprehensive approach to athletic verse, which is founded on my recognition of the centrality of the heraldic proclamation – the angelia. Rather than accept a transparently preserved proclamation consisting of athlete’s name, patronymic, polis, age-category, and event, I regard the use of the angelia in athletic verse as an appropriation of the efficacy of this speech act; that is, epinician and epigram do not have their generic origin in the angelia per se, but in the modulation, modification, and representation of the proclamation. The core of my project is a series of close readings of pairs of choral and inscribed poems (CEG 1.381, 1.383, 1.393, 2.820; P. O. 8, 9, 12); this method foregrounds the generic commonalities between choral and inscribed athletic poetry, and also points to the representative quality of the heraldic mode, and thus the centrality of identity and the process of identification – whether derived from supposedly essential political, sexual, or socioeconomic characteristics – to the praise of the athlete.