Etymological Wordplay and Poetic Succession in Lucretius

Author(s): Monica R. Gale
Source: Classical Philology, Vol. 96, No. 2 (Apr., 2001), pp. 168-172
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1215488
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112-19) For they do not understandthe nature of the soul. 1. 1980). Damien Nelis. who first broughtdown from pleasant Helicon a garlandof everlasting leaves. the elements of whose name reverse those of Patroclus.Note also that Lucretius himself glosses the closely related element -KkzetTo by clarus in 1. 17) that the pun may go back to Ennius himself."AJP 62 (1941): 16-34. et simul intereatnobiscum morte dirempta an tenebras Orci visat vastasque lacunas an pecudes alias divinitus insinuet se. ep[r60So ("steadfast. Puns and Poetry in Lucretius' "De Rerum Natura" (Amsterdam. ed. Barchiesi. M. David Sedley. 107. Critics have observed that these lines-in which Lucretius simultaneously acknowledges a poetic debt to Ennius and distances himself from the earlier poet's esa pun: the reference in line 118 to the poet's "garland chatological beliefs-contain of everlasting leaves" suggests an etymological link between Ennius' name and the adjective perennis. or goes to the shades of Orcus and its huge chasms. 1. implicit reference to another of Lucretius' poetic models has not (to my knowledge) been mark of his poetic distinction-is both previously observed. 2. and CP's anonymousreadersfor commentson earlierdrafts. 13-30). literally "eternally renowned. I am also indebted to Gordon Campbell. as our own Ennius sang. and in pursuit of. the Homeric Cleopatra. P. 1999]. whether it is born or smuggled into us at birth. at 20. female companions. Puns on the name-element -Krkqqare common: cf. Cf."2 I would like to dedicatethis paperto the memoryof Don Fowler. to bring him bright renown amongst the peoples of Italy.David Scourfield.. Ennius ut noster cecinit qui primus amoeno detulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam. nata sit an contra nascentibus insinuetur.. A. destroyed by death. wife of Meleager in Phoenix's exemplary tale in Iliad 9. Jim O'Hara.""lasting") + KkO ("fame. I.' But the possibility that the passage contains a further.e. clarus ob obscuram linguam. Heraclitus.. DIMITRIOSYATROMANOLAKIS Harvard University ETYMOLOGICAL WORDPLAY AND POETIC SUCCESSION IN LUCRETIUS ignoraturenim quae sit naturaanimai. at the time when our vase was produced? The Bochum vase certainly gives us access to the very first perception about Sappho in association with. per gentis Italas hominum quae clara clueret. Hinds [Cambridge. P.168 NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS adduced above reveal an underexploredfacet of the earliest reception of Sappho's poetry in the Athenian male-oriented society of the fifth century-that is.. Robert Maltby."in Ovidian Transformations:Essays on Ovid's "Metamorphoses" and Its Reception. J. and S. (Lucr. Ennius' corona-the "everlasting" (perennifronde) and destined to bring him "bright fame" (quae clara clueret). Denis Feeney ("Mea tempora: Patterningof Time in the Metamorphoses. and whether it perishes with us. 04 Mar 2015 02:03:10 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . who suggests (at n. The two phrases taken together suggest the name of Empedocles. for example.29 on Wed.638-39.252. "Pattern of Sound and Atomic Theory in Lucretius. R. 31." "glory"). Friedlander. This content downloaded from 143. or worms its way into other animals by divine agency. Snyder.cuius ego ingressa vestigia rationespersequor. her counterpartin the main narrative. Hardie.107.

. First.3. for discussion. Both M. Mavors). and also connotes the idea of fame embodied in clara clueret. if the reader is willing to accept M. the birthplace of Aratus ("Hidden Signs: Aratus.4Secondly. 87-93. where Orpheus employs the phrase Eptnc6ovai?v in a highly Empedoclean context (he has just described the separation of the elements by the agency of VEIKOS).5 The two compound adjectives. both Ennius and Homer are endowed with the quality indicated by Empedocles' name. 25. Haslam's tentative suggestion that sol at Georgics 1.(I would like to thank my colleague Damien Nelis for drawing my attention to this reference. s. Empedocles himself also subscribedto the doctrine of metempsychosis.6 What significance would such an etymological play have in this context? The most obvious function of an implicit allusion to Empedocles at this point would be to link him into the explicit line of succession drawnfrom Homerto Ennius: Lucretius suggests that both are in some sense Empedoclean poets.1042 (Epicurus . "Variationson Themes from Empedocles in Lucretius'Proem. 1 above).. 1998]. 1994). 107-8 and 117-19. Clay.. 3. 163 and n. an unusual-though characteristicallyLucretian-verb. of which 27 are accounted for by these two writers). This content downloaded from 143. there is a strong possibility that Empedocles himself punned on his own name: the opening line of frag. Furley. ad loc. For the etymology. N. 1959). be supportedin several ways. p. The epithet that Lucretius attaches to Homer. Georgics 1. The verb is a favorite with Plautusand Lucretius. in which the spirit of Homer appearedto him and expounded the theory of reincarnation(apparentlyrevealing in the process that his own soul had now taken up residence in the body of his interlocutor). Wright (Empedocles: The Extant Fragments [New Haven and London.NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS 169 Though puns on personal names are a distinctive feature of Lucretius'poem. Myth and Poetry in Lucretius (Cambridge. Meillet.107. at 203-4).1034 (Scipiadas glossed by fulmen = oKr7zqr6). Gale. Lucretius (n. the second element in Empedocles' name is in fact etymologically relatedto the Latin clueo. this passage is exceptional in that Empedocles' name is not explicitly mentioned. see Snyder. Rhod. 5 above).424ff..) and D. 91) suggest the possibility that Empedocles is playing on the etymology of his own name here. 6. 67-73. D. R. 1993].32 (mortalis. 3.499. 1981]. The context itself implies that all three are linked by a shared belief in reincarnation. n. 1. 2-10 Skutsch). 15-34. Argon.otherwise rare(a search of the PHI CD-ROM [version 5.29 on Wed. and most significantly. Ernout and A. 1991] turnedup 42 citations. Finally.v. 5. Thirdly. 4. J. Sedley."BICS 17 (1970): 5564. M. Vergil. and (while the context here is not overtly meta7tnE66u(pu)uko poetic) it is hard to resist the idea that an etymological play is hinted at. are near equivalents of the Lucretian phrases perennifronde and semperflorens respectively. and the account of the sacrifice of Iphigenia in 80-101. clueo. is virtually synonymous with the phrase perennifronde. moreover. Lucretius and Epicurus (Ithaca and London. however.. 04 Mar 2015 02:03:10 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .93-94 (callida musa Calliope).. which is given particular emphasis here by the jingle clara clueret. Diosemiai 46ff. the eulogy of Epicurus at 62-79. Lucretiusgoes on in lines 124-26 to allude to the dream narratedby Ennius at the beginning of the Annales (frags. 77 juxtaposes the unique compound adjectives and sutrc66Kcaproog. semper florens (124). 41) detects a similar pun in Ap. see A. Dictionnaire etymologique de la langue latine4 (Paris. A parallel instance of wordplay involving an author present only by allusion and not mentioned by name can be found in Virgil.638-39 (discussed in the previous note). R.438 alludes to Soli."HSCP 94 [1992]: 199-204. p.but Lucretius might also be 3. Sedley (Lucretius and the Transformationof Greek Wisdom[Cambridge.3the supposition that the doctus lector might nevertheless be expected to see a reference here to the earlierphilosopher-poetcan.252. the context in Lucretius is highly Empedoclean: allusions to the Peri Phuseos have been detected in Book l's opening hymn to Venus. Cf. 1983). 1. See D.) 6. RichardHunter(The "Argonautica " of Apollonius: Literary Studies [Cambridge. which is the immediate subject under discussion in 116-26. 1. decurso). Puns and Poetry (n. Thus.

for Homeric. through Empedocles and Ennius. Kollman. the greatest of the poets (adde Heliconiadum comites. 59. Kenney. D. so Empedocles is linked in turn with Lucretius himself.however. 1 (Paris. and D. 23 (1970): 381-88."PLLS 6 (1990): 35-43. Hardie. where the doctrine of 7. De RerumNatura. B. as the rising sun eclipses the stars"(1043-44).170 NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS seen as indicating an unbroken line of poetic succession. It should perhapsbe noted that there is no ancient authorityfor the cognomen. "Apollonius Rhodius and the Traditionsof Latin Epic Poetry. Gale.. G. 79-83 (with furtherbibliography at n. Pal. R. 1965). 1-34." TAPA78 (1947): 336-46. for Empedocleanechoes in Ennius. 1037-38). just as Ennius is linked with Empedocles by etymological play on the latter's name. "The Speech of Pythagoras in Ovid Metamorphoses 15: Empedoclean Epos. vol. Harderet al.29 on Wed. Lucretius combines warm praise for his predecessor's poetry (carmina quin etiam divini pectoris eius / vociferanturet exponuntpraeclara reperta. the poet puns on a name. Empedoclean." CQ 45 (1995): 204-14."Maia 18 (1966): 338-68. Empedocles is mentionedby name. J.112-19 has now been resolved (see especially 3. 8. from Homer. 277-327. In 1. Lucretius: "De RerumNatura" Book III (Cambridge.9The implication here is perhaps that the whole poetic traditionunderlying Lucretius'work is secondary to the philosophical inspirationoffered by Epicurus himself. Ennius (and Homer) are Empedoclean poets. 7993. to his own poem. The controversyalluded to in 1. 9. cf. "Lucretius'Criticismof the EarlyGreekPhilosophers. 4th ser. Conte. This content downloaded from 143. "'"YWoe diatribanello stile di Lucrezio.716-33. Anth. ed.. I can see no compelling reason to doubt its authenticity. The context of the reference to Homer in Book 3 also has interesting resonances with the context of Lucretius'praise of Ennius in Book 1. Myth and Poetry (n. 4.252. R.24. Modem studies of the four poets have tended to suggest a similar line of succession: for Homeric echoes in Empedocles. see J."who in his genius surpassed the whole human race and eclipsed them all. Hardie. Empedocles is a Lucretianpoet. The catalogue of the heroic dead in 3. ad loc. and Empedocles by means of an adjective suggesting Lucretius'own cognomen. R. This time. Myth and Poetry. a kind of transferenceis operatinghere: as Ennius is praised by means of a metaphor alluding to the etymology of Empedocles' name.107.see C. however. "Lucretius. 04 Mar 2015 02:03:10 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Again.8After a brief catalogue of the naturalwonders of Sicily. once again. (forthcoming). Several recent studies have tended to suggest that Empedocles' impact on both Alexandrianand Roman poetry was greaterthan has traditionally been supposed: see especially P. Gale. P. Empedocle. P.7 The passage in Book 1 can thus be seen to form part of a series of passages punctuating the first half of the poem in which Lucretiusimplicitly reflects on the issue of poetic succession. at n. E. 175-80). / ut vix humanavideaturstirpe creatus. U."StudClas 13 (1971): pp. Just as in the case of Ennius. 46."Mnemosyne. quorum unus Homerus /sceptra potitus. Virgil's "Aeneid":Cosmos and Imperium(Oxford. see P. this time his own cognomen Carus. 59-74 and 106-14. 118). 731-33) with the rejectionof his philosophical views (principiis tamen in rerumfecere ruinas / et graviter magni magno cecidere ibi casu. and (for the probability that Lucretius was familiar with the poets of Meleager's Garland) "Doctus Lucretius. Bollack. poetry is subordinatedto philosophy: the climactic figures in the catalogue are Democritus and Epicurus. Epicurus'superiorityto the rest of the humanrace is expressed in terms that had previously been applied (in an epigramof Leonidas of Tarentum)to Homer.1025-44 contains a further reference to Homer. which is first recordedin the subscriptionsof the ninth-centurymanuscripts0. and Ennianechoes in Lucretius. vol. G. 740-41). Thus. and V. Segal (Lucretius on Death and Anxiety: Poetry and Philosophy in "De RerumNatura" [Princeton. 1971). Cf. 9. 1986). A. Lucretiusconcludes that the island's most impressive product is Empedocles himself: nil tamen hoc habuisse viro praeclarius in se / nec sanctum magis et mirumcarumquevidetur (72930). Mayer. E. "The Epic of Lucretius. Viewed as Epic."in Hellenistica Groningana. Murley. Lucretius. The significance of the allusion to Leonidas (and other literary echoes in the "catalogue")is well discussed by C. 6 above). Nelis. Sedley.741-83. 1990]. and.

Callim. whose praise of Aratus'ocvTovoSdypuivirIlies (as I have pointed out elsewhere) behind Lucretius'reference to wakeful nights in 1. but at the same time.?). J. also E. Frag. 'EmniKoupog. 73-74). and even Epicurus) are really dead. 1970). 41.7. Homer (and Empedocles and Ennius. however. 1. Lucretius appeals to Venus to aid him in the composition of the work. Eleg. Morgan. Brown. 21.107. Segal. Lucretius suggests."which are "most worthyof eternallife" (3. this may well be true. Epigr.11 The series of allusive etymologies that I have identified can thus be interpretedas a playful means of expressing something fundamentalto Lucretius'conception of his own project:this is a poem in the traditionof natural-philosophicalepic inaugurated by Homer12and continued (to a greateror lesser extent) by Empedocles and Ennius. Gale. the patron deity is asked to provide neither information nor inspiration:rather. 7 above)-have posited links of various kinds between allegorizing criticism and passages of self-conscious reflectionon poetic succession of the kind discussed here: see especially J. Unusually. but right in another:Homer'spoetry is semperflorens. 107. Les Mythes d'Homere et la pensee grecque (Paris. This content downloaded from 143. and points out that the context in Simonides-as in Lucretius-seems to concern "the role of poets like Homer in memorializing great deeds" (pp.. n. For Lucretius' emphasis on the power of poetry to preserve the memory of past events. 180-86.29 on Wed.or the posthumousglory conferredby divina reperta (6. the philosophical message derived directly from the "divine" words of Epicurus is primary. Mytheet allegorie: Les Origines grecques et les contestationsjudeo-chretiennes (Paris.252. This theme is of some importance for Lucretius' own project: one of the avowed aims of the De RerumNatura is to preserve and spread the fame of Epicurus'"golden words. and the articles by Hardie and Nelis cited in n. 1958). p. see especially F Buffiere.NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS 171 metempsychosis comes under attack):despite Ennius' own claims. like Lucretius. even though its creatoris dead. Several recent studies-following in the wake of Philip Hardie'sgroundbreakingVirgil's "Aeneid":Cosmos and Imperium(n. I was unaware of an intriguing parallel that has come to light in the new fragment of Simonides first published by P.E. When I first proposed this interpretationof Lucretius'invocation (Mythand Poetry." CP 93 (1998): 69-74. 9 above). 7 above. by the power of poetry. G. cf. In v. or of ethical values: an extreme example is the "allegorist"Heraclitus (1st centuryC.20-22W). At the very beginning of the poem. 11. Gale. Lucretius on Death and Anxiety (n.3-4. and Ennius only of secondaryimportance. draws attention to the parallel. Myth and Poetry. Kenney.13). 27. Farrell.24. D. Thateternal life can be conferred on them.13It has been suggested that the pervasive use of etymology in De RerumNatura should be connected with Epicurean 10. 12. The Latin word translatesneatly into the Greek name of Lucretius'mentor. "Lucretiusand Callimachus. J. she is to act as the poet's socia (1. and the "garland"of Ennius' own poetry has also proved to be perennis. P6pin. Simonides. On the allegorical tradition. What survives. A fourth poet indirectly alluded to in the proem to Book 1 is Callimachus.10 The notion that Epicurus himself is the poet's true inspiration. Simon. of Epicurus). 9 above).Empedocles. Schrijvers. is poetry. 13. "Doctus Lucretius"(n. 151-52. esp.Ennius was wrong in one sense. 1999). Mythand Poetry. 04 Mar 2015 02:03:10 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . From an early date. 137). see further P. and the poetic tradition representedby Homer. calls on the Muse to act as his J. 1956) and J. 79-81. ?7riKoupo. It might be objected thatLucretiushas chosen such a subtle and obscure way of indicating this line of succession that few readerswould have noticed it. 1991). "Venus or the Muse as O'Hara. J. 157-72. Parsons in POxy 59 (1992): 4-50. 'Ally"' (Lucr. but the subtlety itself arguably points to another strandin Lucretius'poetic heritage.Vergil's "Georgics" and the Traditions Ancient of Epic (New York. H.142.24). 11. cf. Horror ac divina voluptas: Etudes sur la poetique et la podsie de Lucrece (Amsterdam. Patterns of Redemption in Virgil's "Georgics" (Cambridge. L. and R.who argues that Plato and Epicurus "stole" their ideas from The Poet."ICS 7 (1982): 77-97.and his characters(particularlythe gods) as symbols of physical elements and processes. critics of an allegorizing bent saw Homer as an authorityon philosophical and scientific matters. receives furthersupportfrom one last etymological play. On Lucretius and Callimacheanism.

e. A. A. Dublin 14.29 on Wed.. ad 783). is particularlygermane to the present context. Aratus: "Phaenomena" [Cambridge. 96-114.Friedlander'stheory that Lucretius' apparentinterest in etymology reflects Epicureanlinguistic theory is contested by D. see Friedlander. On Lucretianwordplay in general. and 429) by E. 1963). see J.172 NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS linguistic theory.107. in reverse order at the beginning of lines 433. Puns and Poetry. M. also Haslam.429-33) would surely have had no difficulty in appreciatingthe chain of etymologies that I have described. Latomus 63 (Brussels. ve-. Snyder. Puns and Poetry. and A. ma-. 1 above). West. Dalzell. with furtherbibliography). The Aratean acrostic was first identified by J. Jacques (cf. the first two letters of each of Virgil's tria nomina. The latter point. Maltby.14 MONICAR.1997]. "Languageand Atomic Theory in Lucretius. both Callimachus and Aratus himself pun on the latter'sname (see O'Hara."Hermathena 143 (1987): 19-28. This content downloaded from 143. and the Virgilian imitation (pu-. Kidd. Brown. his strongest arguments are the presence of the phrase is certissimus auctor in 432 and of the word virgineum-suggesting both Virgil's name and his nickname Parthenias-in 430. "Etymologizing and the Structureof Argument in Lucretius I" (paper delivered to the Leeds InternationalLatin Seminar in October 1999. 3 above). D. "Farewell Atomology. CR 32 (1981): 25-27. "Hidden Signs" (n."Patternof Sound" (n. currentlyunpublished). A reader alert to such metapoetic subtleties as the acrostic on the word XctrT6O at Aratus Phaenomena 783-87 (or the still more subtle "signature"that has been detected in Virgil's version of Aratus. 04 Mar 2015 02:03:10 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . L. 36 and 247. Numeri Vergiliani: Studies in "Eclogues" and "Georgics" Coll. GALE TrinityCollege.) Cf. J. but an equally (or perhaps more) plausible connection might be made with the prominence of etymological play in Alexandrianand neoteric poetry. (Brown supportshis identification of the acrostic with a barrageof circumstantialevidence too complex to summarizehere. For the Alexandrianinterest in etymology. involving as it does a furtheretymological wordplay.TrueNames. O'Hara.TrueNames: Vergiland the Alexandrian Traditionof Etymological Wordplay(Ann Arbor. 21-42: notably. i. 1996)."review of Snyder. at Georgics 1. 431.252. R.