This article inquires into the shaping force that competition at musical contests exercised on ancient perceptions of literary genres, particularly for the non-choral and non-dramatic kinds of the Classical Period. Three musical contests of the fourth century BCE, the Panathenaia, the Amphiaraia, and the Artemisia, are taken as case studies. After a reconstruction of their programs, principles of categorization that spectators might have inferred from the contests are deduced, and modes in which categories of competition and literary genres interacted are put forward. The article concludes by suggesting that, by enacting taxonomies, either strengthening or weakening the specificity of traditional types, institutionalized poetic and musical competitions contributed to the ancient conceptualization of literary genres.
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