Enchanted Bodies: Reframing the Culture of Greek Aulos Performance


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The double reed wind instrument known as the aulos was arguably the most prominent musical instrument in ancient Greek life. Its booming, bagpipe-like strains structured ritual, dramatic, and athletic performances and choreographed marching soldiers and rowing sailors. Bringing literary and visual sources together for the first time in a systematic study, this project addresses the phenomenon of aulos performance as an embodied, sonic experience. By charting the cultural discourse surrounding the aulos from archaic into classical times, the project shows how this instrument operated through a culturally conditioned interface with the body to trigger effects ranging from the orderly and salutary to the unsettled and even violent. The more comprehensive cultural history that emerges opens up fresh perspectives on the literature, art, and performance culture of ancient Greece.