In archaic and classical culture, doves were considered a symbol not only of beauty and love, but also of trepidation and fearfulness. All these features could be easily gleaned, just as they are today, through the direct observation of doves’ life and behavior. What is harder to prove is that Greeks were fascinated by the cooing of doves, and that doves’ sonorous means of expression was considered to be a language linked to the divine world. This paper addresses doves in Antiquity, and the importance of their sounds. We have at our disposal only a few ancient sources about this topic, but they are worthy of study. Doves’ cooing is recalled in two main contexts: bird hunting and divine prophecy. For the first one, the author analyzes a passage from the Cynegetica (3, 116) by Oppian of Apamea and an ancient commentary on The Birds (Sch. Vet., Ar., Av., 1083a-b, ii, 3 Holwerda, pp. 166-167) by Aristophanes. With respect to prophecy, he compares the description of the Dodona Oracle’s foundation in Herodotus (2, 55-57), which influences other authors such as Pausanias, with a mysterious passage of the voyage of Odysseus and with another verse reminiscent of prophecy, both drawn from the Odyssey (12, 59-65 and 14, 327-328 respectively). After pointing out the sonorous connotations and the aesthetic characteristics of doves in antiquity, the author attempts to shed light on an enigmatic allegory of the Louvre Partheneion by Alcman, providing a new contribution to the interpretation of the metaphorical presence of doves. The author concludes by presenting an example of Greek coroplastic art, in which the visual similarity between doves and Sirens can recall, implicitly, the sonorous qualities of both.

The Voice of Doves

Francesco Buè
2018

Abstract

In archaic and classical culture, doves were considered a symbol not only of beauty and love, but also of trepidation and fearfulness. All these features could be easily gleaned, just as they are today, through the direct observation of doves’ life and behavior. What is harder to prove is that Greeks were fascinated by the cooing of doves, and that doves’ sonorous means of expression was considered to be a language linked to the divine world. This paper addresses doves in Antiquity, and the importance of their sounds. We have at our disposal only a few ancient sources about this topic, but they are worthy of study. Doves’ cooing is recalled in two main contexts: bird hunting and divine prophecy. For the first one, the author analyzes a passage from the Cynegetica (3, 116) by Oppian of Apamea and an ancient commentary on The Birds (Sch. Vet., Ar., Av., 1083a-b, ii, 3 Holwerda, pp. 166-167) by Aristophanes. With respect to prophecy, he compares the description of the Dodona Oracle’s foundation in Herodotus (2, 55-57), which influences other authors such as Pausanias, with a mysterious passage of the voyage of Odysseus and with another verse reminiscent of prophecy, both drawn from the Odyssey (12, 59-65 and 14, 327-328 respectively). After pointing out the sonorous connotations and the aesthetic characteristics of doves in antiquity, the author attempts to shed light on an enigmatic allegory of the Louvre Partheneion by Alcman, providing a new contribution to the interpretation of the metaphorical presence of doves. The author concludes by presenting an example of Greek coroplastic art, in which the visual similarity between doves and Sirens can recall, implicitly, the sonorous qualities of both.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11576/2672644
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact