Plus ca change. Here in the UK we have the business of Tony Blair's
departure and putative replacement. Much attention is focused on the
individuals concerned, but people forget that TB has a staff of a hundred or
so, all of whom depend on him for their livelihood; likewise his probable
successor, Gordon Brown. The various spin doctors and PR flacks attached to
each camp do just the same kind of thing as these mythical bards of yore.
The relationship of reciprocal obligation is an interesting one, much
discussed in Cultural Studies after Mauss, Barthes, Bourdieu etc. There's an
excellent essay by John Frow on gift exchange in his _Time & Commodity
Culture_ which covers a lot of the ethical issues.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to
> poetry and poetics [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Jon Corelis
> Sent: 08 November 2006 16:02
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: An interesting quotation
> The danger is in interpreting the poet's praise of the patron
> as flattery, something merely of personal gratification to
> the king. The structure and values of the society in
> question made it something much more important. Emphasis
> should be placed on the phrase "the king's livelihood
> depended on the poet's singing his praises." Indeed, it
> might not be too much to say that the king's existence depended on the
> poet's singing his praises. Also relevant is the same source's
> comment on the root kleu-, "to hear":
> "The most ancient texts in Indo-European languages, such as
> the Vedic hymns of ancient India, the Homeric epics, the
> Germanic sagas, and Old Irish praise-poetry, all demonstrate
> that the perpetuation of the fame of a warrior or king was of
> critical importance to early Indo-European society. The
> preservation of their fame was in the hands of poets, highly
> skilled and highly paid professionals, who acted both as the
> repositiors and the transmitters of the society's oral culture."
> -- Watkins op. cit.
> One clear implication of this is that a king *could not rule*
> without poets.
> We can't get back there. Would we want to?
> Jon Corelis www.geocities.com/jgcorelis/