The Poetics of Dialect in the Self-Epitaphs of Nossis and Leonidas of Tarentum

Classical Philology Volume 115, Number 4

University of Chicago

Nossis and Leonidas of Tarentum used dialect in their self-epitaphs as an integral component in the construction of their authorial identities. Using her native Doric, Nossis both situates herself in a Sapphic tradition of female-centered poetry and reinforces her identity as a Locrian epigrammatist. Leonidas of Tarentum laments an itinerant lifestyle that has resulted in a death abroad and models himself after Odysseus. Leonidas speaks in an Ionic voice that contrasts with his native Doric, a self-reflexive comment on his poetic identity as a man displaced, an anti-Odysseus whose itinerancy guarantees the perpetuation of his poetry.