OrphanSongs of Ancient Greece

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Translated by Apostolos N. Athanassakis & Benjamin M. Wolkow
Johns Hopkins University Press, 255 pages, $40.00

Early hymns are a source of early poetry, music, and learning about the ancient world. It provides a window into the life, culture, and values of a society. In this collection we explore the orphic legend as it evolved over time. It’s a way to learn through song about a culture that is mostly lost to the modern reader. This collection will be important for students because it is translated into English. The most interesting part is the Introduction where we learn about these hymns, their setting, and how they came about. While the hymns are fascinating, they will appeal mostly to students of early Greek poetry. The Notes part of the book is also interesting where the author breaks down each hymn, explains the person it is talking about, and the language used. It examines the society that created these hymns, which means songs.

This is an important work of resource for Ancient Greek society, because people familiar with hymns will recognize the importance of the Psalms from the Bible. While these hymns are older, they present a different world view.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter

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