The Lexicon of Wealth in Hellenistic Poetry: Between Continuity and Recomposition. Τὸ Ἄφενος, and Ἀφνειός, η, ον

Author Information

Sandrine Coin-Longeray,
UJM Saint-Étienne, University of Lyon, France

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.11-2
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022


In my book Poésie de la richesse et de la pauvreté. Étude du vocabulaire de la richesse et de la pauvreté dans la poésie grecque antique, d’Homère à Aristophane : ἄφενος, ὄλβος, πλοῦτος, πενία, πτωχός (Publications de l’université de Saint-Étienne, 2014), the study in particular of the theme of wealth showed how closely its stylistic uses are connected to the socio-political contexts in which poetic practice is embedded. In the epic, wealth is glorifying for the hero and a marker of social status and quality: If the situation is comparable for the choral lyrics, in a context of sporting victory and tyrannical government, it appears very different in the Athenian theatre, where material prosperity questions inequalities and the democratic process.

In Hellenistic poetry, the expression of wealth evolves in a world characterized by the extension of Greek culture, the restriction of political questioning and simultaneously the passage of «public» poetry made for the greatest number of people, and an elitist poetry largely based on a high cultural and literary level. I detail both the continuity (epic imitation with ἄφενος, tragic uses of ὄλβος) and the ruptures (remoteness of the lexical field of wealth for ὄλβος, and complete absence of πλοῦτος).

Keywords: Wealth, poetry, Hellenism, semantics, linguistic anthropology


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