Parody and Parôidia: A Study in Literary Genre and Mode
Martin, Paul S
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Publication of thesis as a monograph
This thesis explores the relationship between the genre of Greek poetry called parôidia and parody as a literary mode. I argue that the poetics of parôidia as genre are inextricably linked to the poetics of parody as mode. This argument produces a new methodological approach to the concept of parody, which recognizes its idiosyncratic nature. Since everyone has different ideas about what parody is, there is no absolute deﬁnition of parody. Instead, I use approaches drawn from cognitive linguistics and poetics to illuminate the parodic script, a set of terms commonly used to explain parody’s effect but which in themselves do not deﬁne parody. This methodology is supported by an appendix that analyses the terminology of parody in Greek (!αρῳδία, !αρῳδή, etc.). I argue that the noun !αρῳδία is only ever found with a generic meaning before the ﬁrst century BC. The main body of the thesis examines six poems from this genre, parôidia, to demonstrate how this genre inﬂuenced Greek ideas about parody. This thesis is the ﬁrst literary study of all of the major poems belonging to the genre. Furthermore, it is the ﬁrst study of parody to appreciate fully the importance of this genre for notions of parody. While most studies of parody have centred on Greek Comedy, I show that this genre, which has been almost entirely left out of discussions of parody, is essential for the development of parody as a mode. As the ﬁrst detailed literary study of the genre parôidia, the central chapters provide new interpretations of the genre’s most important poems. In several of these, I show how the poems engage in different kinds of satire. For instance, Timon uses Sceptic philosophy against the dogmatic sophists, and Archestratus uses tropes drawn from the ﬁgure of the comic mageiros. In other chapters, I argue that the humour of the poems derives in part from their manipulation of the audience’s expectations. Thus the Batrachomyomachia leads us to anticipate divine intervention, but uses this expectation to create humorous reveals at the end of the poem. In each chapter, I aim to show speciﬁcally how the poem’s parody of epic contributes to its construction of meaning. The conclusion then brings these chapters together to present the bigger picture of Greek conceptions of parody that emerge from these discussions. What links the poetry of a Sceptic philosopher and a shit-stained nobody from Thasos? Are there any similarities between the espousal of ﬁne cuisine in Archestratus and the absurdiﬁcation of the Batrachomyomachia? I conclude by making three claims: 1) parody’s allusive form must be understood as multifaceted and can be approached through several frameworks; 2) parody is not inherently critical of the text it parodies, but can use the process of parody as a framework for satirizing other ﬁgures; 3) although frequently regarded as a “low” or “playful” form, parody incorporates its supposedly inferior literary position into its construction of meaning. Parôidia, I argue, is not only a product of its speciﬁc literary and cultural context but also contributes to the shaping of parody in Greek thought.
PhD in Classics