The Gnomai in the Epinician Odes and Dithyrambs of Bacchylides have hitherto been regarded as an allegedly conventional accompaniment and thus attracted little attention in research. Following the development of a genre model for the epinicion, individual interpretations demonstrate the central significance of the Gnomai in constituting the sense of the Epinicion. As the gnome essentially represents ethical and moral values to a large audience, a second stage of the study relates it to the contemporary historical context of the relevant text. It takes this rigorous contextualisation to show how Bacchylides skilfully fits his Gnomai to the various socio-political factors and the expectations of his audience.
These observations cast new light on the communication process in lyrical choral poetry between the composer of the epinicion, his patron and the public.