Pauline LeVen

Pauline LeVen's picture
Chair of Humanities, Professor of Classics and (by courtesy) of Music
(203) 432-0983
Curriculum Vitae: 


Born in Monaco and raised in France, Pauline LeVen studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris), the Sorbonne and Princeton University, and earned a joint PhD from both in 2008. She was a Fulbright student in 2001–02 and the Phi Beta Kappa Sibley Fellow in Greek Studies in 2007–08.

Her first book, The Many-Headed Muse: Tradition and Innovation in Late Classical Greek Lyric Poetry, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014 and was a recipient of the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Yale College Prize for outstanding publication. The book is a study of the extant corpus of Greek songs composed between about 440 BC and 320 BC. Combining close readings of little-studied texts with attention to their intellectual and cultural context, it examines Greek literary history between the classical and Hellenistic periods and explores the vibrancy of musical culture in the late classical period.

LeVen’s current book project is entitled The Music of Nature in Greek and Roman Myths (under contract with Cambridge University Press). It examines the body of Greek and Roman myths devoted to the music of animals and natural phenomena (birds, winds, frogs, echoes, insects, marsh-reeds…). One of the main claims of the book is that fantastic tales of animal metamorphosis are important loci of reflection on aesthetic questions. The seven readings it offers (including of Plato’s myth of the cicadas, of Ovid’s story of the origins of the echo, and of Achilles Tatius’ narrative of the nightingale myth) are windows onto a rich web of ideas about the beauty of music, appropriate responses to it, and the nature of the experience of sound and song.


Greek Literature and Language


Greek Poetry (especially Lyric), Ancient Novel, Ancient Literary Criticism, Musical Culture

Selected Recent Publications

  • “Poetics of Blending: a cognitive approach to the New Music of Timotheus” (coauthored with F. Budelmann), CP 109 (2014): 191-210.
  • “Aristotle’s Hymn to Virtue and Funerary Epigraphy,” in Literary Epigraphy, ed. by P. Low and P. Liddell (Oxford: 2013)
  • “The Colours of Sound: Poikilia in its Aesthetic Contexts,” Greek and Roman Musical Studies 1 (2013): 229–242.
  • “Reading the Octopus: Authorship, Intertexts and a Hellenistic Anecdote (Machon, fr. 9 Gow),” special issue of AJP 126.1 (2013): 23–35.
  • “‘You Make Less Sense Than a (New) Dithyramb’: Sociology of a Riddling Style”, in J. Kwapisz, D. Petrain and M. Szymansk (eds.) 2012. The Muse at Play. Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry. Berlin, 44-64.
  • “Musical Crisis: Musical Anecdotes and Competition” in Poesia, musica e agoni nella Grecia antica, proceedings of the IVth Moisa conference, Lecce October 2010, ed. by D. Castaldo and A. Manieri (Congedo, Galatina. Rudiae. Ricerche sul mondo classico 22-23, 2012): 681-92.
  • “Timotheus’ Eleven Strings: a New Approach (PMG 791, 229–236)”, CP (2011): 245–54.
  • “New Music and Its Myths: Athenaeus’ Reading of the Aulos Revolution,” JHS 140 (2010): 35–47.

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