Performing the Fabric of Song – University of Copenhagen

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Performing the Fabric of Song


Textile Technology and Imagery in Ancient Greek Poetry and Poetics.
An Interdisciplinary Study in Terminology and Metaphors

By Giovanni Fanfani

This research project attempts a systematic investigation of the relevance of textile technology and crafts in shaping the archaic Greek conception of poetry-making, one that combines the double dimension of performance and composition.
The lexicon of archaic Greek epic and choral lyric poetics (7th-5th centuries BC) displays a significant textile background which, beyond matters of etymology, seems to convey the idea of the conceptual analogy drawn between the weaving of a fabric and the performance of poetry.
This project will apply to a selection of poetic samples the (metaphorical) frame of the (archaeologically reconstructed) ancient weaving technology, in order to test the hypothesis of the textile-like structure of the archaic Greek song.

The structure of this project is threefold; the three blocks aim at providing:

  1. A ‘textile-philological’ analysis of the structure of some patterns of Greek epic and choral lyric poetry as mirroring the structure and the processes of ancient weaving

  2. A systematic investigation of a significant sample of ancient Greek textile terminology – namely, the lexicon related to the warp-weighted loom and its implements: the analysis of textile terminology will shed light on the figurative meanings and on the metaphors for song-making, that this lexical series has produced

  3. A reassessment of the repertoire of textile imagery in archaic Greek poetry through the creation of a typology, i.e. different textile metaphors associated with specific crafts (weaving, spinning, plaiting), each conveying the idea of a different poetic performance or compositional structure (epic, lyric).



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 600207 (MOBILEX).