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date: 22 October 2019

Aoidos (Gk.: ‘singer’, ‘bard’)locked

  • Geoffrey Chew
  • , revised by Denise Davidson Greaves


(Gk.: ‘singer’, ‘bard’)

A term used by Homer to describe performers of epics (e.g. Phemius and Demodocus in the Odyssey) who sang and accompanied themselves on the Phorminx or kitharis ( see Kithara ). The language, musical accompaniment and details of performing practice of the aoidoi were transmitted orally, and their formulaic practice is believed to underlie the hexameter poetry of the Iliad and Odyssey themselves. Modern studies have explored the similarities between the practice of the aoidoi and that of the modern southern Slav singers of heroic epic accompanied by the gusli (see Lord). (In these oral traditions, each telling of a story – even the same story by the same performer – is likely to differ in detail.) Aoidoi were presumably independent artisans, although the Odyssey suggests that individuals could be linked to specific households.

The precise relationship between the early aoidoi and later performers of epic is not clear. There is evidence that the early kitharodes performed Homeric and other epic poetry (...

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Musical Antiquary