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Making (New) Sense of Marsyas in late Antiquity: A Foray into John Malala' Chronicle and its Literary Horizon (2015-2016)

Field of study: Archaeomusicology, Ancient History

This paper aims to outline a preliminary study of the founding figures and narratives of the aulos in Late Antiquity, addressing their structure, popularity / reception, and discursive uses against the changing socio-cultural and ideological background of their production. After following the dominant synthetic Athenian narrative in the culture of Imperial and Late Antique paideia, I focus on John Malalas’ radically revised account of Marsyas’ invention of the aulos and death, arguing for its origins in the rationalizing and euhemeristic Greco-Roman mythography. A wider analysis of the musical references in Malalas’ book IV brings to light an underlying, coherent succession of musical protoi heuretai rooted in the tradition of Classical and Hellenistic musical historiography.

Keywords: ancient Greek music, Greek literature, Marsyas, aulos, historiography, mythography, heurematography, chronography, John Malalas, Agathias of Myrina, late Antiquity

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