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978-1-107-00857-1 - Callimachus in Context: From Plato to the Augustan Poets

Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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Scholarly reception has bequeathed two Callimachuses: the Roman

version is a poet of elegant non-heroic poetry (usually erotic elegy),
represented by a handful of intertexts with a recurring set of images –
slender Muse, instructing divinity, small voice, pure waters; the Greek
version emphasizes a learned scholar who includes literary criticism
within his poetry, an encomiast of the Ptolemies, a poet of the book
whose narratives are often understood as metapoetic. This study aims
to situate these Callimachuses within a series of interlocking historical
and intellectual contexts in order better to understand how they
arose. In this narrative of his poetics and poetic reception four main
sources of creative opportunism are identified: Callimachus’ reactions
to philosophers and literary critics as arbiters of poetic authority,
the potential of the text as a venue for performance, awareness of
Alexandria as a new place, and, finally, his attraction for Roman

b e n j a m i n a c o s t a - h u g h e s is Professor of Greek and Latin at

The Ohio State University. He is the author of Polyeideia: The Iambi
of Callimachus and the Archaic Iambic Tradition (2002), of Arion’s
Lyre: Archaic Lyric into Hellenistic Poetry (2010), and co-editor, with
Manuel Baumbach and Elizabeth Kosmetatou, of Labored In Papyrus
Leaves: Perspectives on an Epigram Collection Attributed to Posidippus
(P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309). He is also co-editor, with Luigi Lehnus and
Susan A. Stephens, of Brill’s Companion to Callimachus (2011).
s u s a n a . s t e p h e n s is Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Human-
ities, and Professor of Classics at Stanford University. She is author of
Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria (2003), a
study that has transformed scholarly thinking about Egypt as present
in Hellenistic poetry. Trained as a papyrologist, she co-edited, with
the late Jack Winkler, Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments (1995).
She is the author of numerous articles on Hellenistic poetry, and is
co-editor, with Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Luigi Lehnus, of Brill’s
Companion to Callimachus (2011). She is also co-editor, with Phiroze
Vasunia, of the 2010 collection Classics and National Cultures.

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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From Plato to the Augustan Poets



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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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cambridge university press

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Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
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c Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan Stephens 2012

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception

and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without the written
permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2012

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

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Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data

Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin, 1960–
Callimachus in context : from Plato to the Augustan poets / Benjamin Acosta-Hughes,
Susan A. Stephens.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
isbn 978-1-107-00857-1
1. Callimachus – Criticism and interpretation. 2. Callimachus – Appreciation – Rome.
3. Aesthetics, Ancient. 4. Alexandria (Egypt) – Intellectual life. I. Stephens, Susan A. II. Title.
pa3945.z5a35 2011
811 .01 – dc23 2011019856

isbn 978-1-107-00857-1 Hardback

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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List of maps page vii

Acknowledgments viii
List of abbreviations x
Maps xii

Introduction 1
1. Literary quarrels 23
Suicide by the book 23
Plato in the Aetia Prologue 31
“Mixing Ions” 47
Hipponax and mimetic play 57
The power of the poet 68
“Common things” 78
The crowd 80
2. Performing the text 84
The sounds of reading 84
Dramatic performance 90
Lyric 102
The paean 105
“Lyrics” for Alexandria 108
Choruses and choral dancing 112
Stichic meters 116
Textual and intertextual symposia 130
In the public sphere 133
In the private sphere 140
3. Changing places 148
De-centering Greece 149
Cyrene 155
The Cyrenaica 160
Alexandria 163

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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vi Contents
The Argive ancestors 168
The “causes” of Alexandria 170
Attica viewed from Alexandria 196
The new center 202
4. In my end is my beginning 204
Early “translation” 207
The doctus poeta 212
Writing for royals 233
Callimachus in Propertius 244
The Roman Callimachus 255
Ovid and Callimachus 257

Conclusions 270
Appendix: The Aetia 275
Bibliography 292
Index locorum 307
Subject index 317

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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All maps prepared by Al Duncan.

1. Hellenistic Cyrene with sites of importance for

Callimachus’ poetry (following Bonacasa and Ensoli), with
an insert showing detail of the sanctuary of Apollo. page xii
2. Early Alexandria. xiii
3. The Eastern Mediterranean, showing regions controlled by
the early Ptolemies and locations of importance in
Callimachus’ Aetia. xiv
4. The Aegean Sea, detail of larger map with locations of
importance in Callimachus’ Aetia. xvi


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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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This study is the result of an ongoing conversation about the poet Calli-
machus that began in the late 1990s. The experience of co-authoring an
article on the Aetia Prologue led us to consider writing a book together as
an intellectual and personal pleasure, while the questions raised by students
in our respective seminars over the years helped us to frame our research
and writing as best we could to answer the most recurrent and pressing
of these. Why do there appear to be so many Platonic tangents in Cal-
limachus? Why, in a poet considered the model of the “bookish” author,
are there so many indications of poetic performance? What is the rapport
between the Ptolemies and their political interests and a remarkably diffuse
body of work of one court poet? Why is Callimachus an ongoing feature of
Roman poetic culture, and in such a particular way? Each of these questions
has resulted in one of the chapters of the present study.
During the period of our collaboration the scholarly discourse on Hel-
lenistic poetry has begun to change. The publication of the epigram roll
of Posidippus of Pella surprised with its blend of aesthetics and and pol-
itics; work on Philodemus continues to enable a better understanding of
the relationship of Hellenistic critical theories to poetic practice; and the
remarkable underwater archaeological discoveries of the Empereur and
Goddio teams, as well as recent recoveries in the city of Alexandria itself,
have cast new light on the Greco-Egyptian milieu of the Ptolemies. The
publication of new commentaries on the Aetia and of recent editions of
Callimachus’ collected poetry by Markus Asper (in German) and Giambat-
tista D’Alessio (in Italian) have greatly increased our ability to appreciate
this very fragmentary author.
These developments have acted as stimuli for our ideas and have enriched
our understanding, and we offer Callimachus in Context to a larger critical
audience as part of this evolving discourse. Throughout this has been a
work of collaboration rather than a combination of separately constructed
segments, and we are equally responsible for the book’s strong, and, if so

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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Acknowledgments ix
judged, weak points. Although we shall continue writing together on a
different project, now it is time for us to close this chapter.
It is with pleasure and gratitude that we acknowledge here the help
and support of friends and colleagues who made the process of writing
this book so rewarding. A number of scholars have provided us with their
work in advance of publication: we wish to thank Diskin Clay, Kathryn
Gutzwiller, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones and Stephanie Winder, Patrick Lake,
Kathryn Morgan, Ivana Petrovic, Évelyne Prioux, and Stephen White.
Special thanks are due to Annette Harder, to whom we are more grateful
than we can say for allowing us access to her commentary on the Aetia in
advance of its publication. Without it our book would be the poorer. As
editors of the forthcoming Brill’s Companion to Callimachus we have also
taken full advantage of the insights of our contributors; they too deserve
our thanks. Some parts of this study had a first hearing at the Università
di Roma Tre and at the École normale supérieure in Lyon: we wish to
take this opportunity to thank our close colleagues Adele-Teresa Cozzoli
and Christophe Cusset for their kind hospitality. We were privileged to be
invited to organize an APA seminar in 2007 on Plato and Hellenistic poetry
and wish to acknowledge our gratitude to the Program Committee for their
advice and encouragement. The stimulating comments of participants in
these venues have done much to shape this study.
A number of others have given us scholarly advice, read portions of our
manuscript, and saved us from many errors, of omission and commission.
We wish to thank, in particular, Alessandro Barchiesi, Chris Bobonich,
Keyne Cheshire, Tom Hawkins, Nita Krevans, John Miller, Damien Nelis,
Natasha Peponi, Jay Reed, and Alex Sens. We have profited immensely from
the assessments of the two anonymous readers for Cambridge University
Press, for their engagement with our arguments and for their suggestions of
further bibliography. Two graduate students deserve special acknowledge-
ment, Al Duncan (Stanford), who prepared the maps, and Aaron Palmore
(Ohio State), who read the entire manuscript for us before final submission.
Our partners, Jesús and Mark, have been strongly supportive throughout
(and will be grateful for the project’s conclusion). But above all we wish to
acknowledge the graduate students whom we have taught throughout the
years: without their engagement, skepticism, and insights as a stimulus, this
book would never have taken the shape that it has. To them we dedicate
this study, with thanks and affection.

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The texts of Callimachus are from Pfeiffer (Pf.) unless otherwise indicated.
Some papyrological sigla (half brackets, some sublinear dots) are omitted
from Greek texts.

AP Palatine Anthology
CA J. U. Powell, ed. Collectanea Alexandrina (Oxford, 1925)
DK H. Diels and W. Kranz, eds. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker
(6th edn. Berlin, 1951–2)
FGE D. L. Page, ed. Further Greek Epigrams (Cambridge, 1981)
FGrH F. Jacoby, ed. Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (Berlin
and Leiden, 1923–1958)
GLP D. L. Page, ed. Greek Literary Papyri I (Cambridge, Mass.,
GP A. S. F. Gow and D. L. Page, eds. The Greek Anthology.
Hellenistic Epigrams (Cambridge, 1965)
Hdr. A. Harder, ed. Callimachus: Aetia. Introduction, Text,
Translation, and Commentary (Oxford, 2011)
IG Inscriptiones Graecae (Berlin, 1873–)
M. G. Massimilla, ed. AITIA. Libri primo e secondo, Libro terzo e
quarto (Pisa and Rome, 1996–2010)
OGIS W. Dittenberger, ed. Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae
(Leipzig, 1903–5)
Pf. R. Pfeiffer, ed. Callimachus, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1949–1953)
PCG R. Kassel and C. Austin, eds. Poetae Comici Graeci
(Berlin-New York, 1983–)
PMG D. L. Page, ed. Poetae Melici Graeci (Oxford, 1962)
SEG Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (Leiden, 1923–)
SH H. Lloyd-Jones and P. J. Parsons, eds. Supplementum
Hellenisticum (Berlin and New York, 1983)

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Abbreviations xi
Sk. O. Skutsch, ed. The Annals of Q. Ennius (Oxford, 1985)
TGF A. Nauck, ed. Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (2nd edn.
Leipzig, 1889)
TrGF B. Snell, R. Kannicht, and S. Radt, eds. Tragicorum
Graecorum Fragmenta (Göttingen, 1971–2004)

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Map 1. Hellenistic Cyrene with sites of importance for Callimachus’ poetry (following
Bonacasa and Ensoli), with an insert showing detail of the sanctuary of Apollo.


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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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Map 2. Early Alexandria.

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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Map 3. The Eastern Mediterranean, showing regions controlled by the early Ptolemies
and locations of importance in Callimachus’ Aetia.

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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Susan A. Stephens
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Map 4. The Aegean Sea, detail of larger map with locations of importance in
Callimachus’ Aetia.

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The paradox of Callimachus is that his influence is inversely proportional

to his survival – the more important his poem was in antiquity, the less we
have of it. Only his collection of six hymns and about sixty of his epigrams
survive intact. The Hecale, Aetia, and Iambi are assembled fragments that
often lack narrative and aesthetic coherence. Their reconstructions seem to
require a steep learning curve or an act of faith that often leaves the average
scholar of classical literature disadvantaged, and he or she quite naturally
turns to the later, Roman reception of Callimachus for help in negotiating
his poetic terrain. A related paradox is that he consistently wrote about kings
and contemporary events, but the reception of his poetics, what is now
popularly called “Callimacheanism,” is essentially aesthetic, premised on
his rejection of epic, his display of erudition, and his disengagement from
contemporary social contexts. The extreme view of this disengagement
was articulated by Bruno Snell, who claimed in an influential chapter in
his Discovery of the Mind that, suffering from “post-philosophical exhaus-
tion,” Callimachus was incapable of the boldness of thought of earlier
ages. However exaggerated Snell’s formulation may appear, his underlying
assumption that Callimachus retreated into a bookish, “slender” poetics is
echoed in much of what is written about this poet today.
The aim of this study is to consider why this formulation of Cal-
limacheanism persists and to reframe the traditional discussion in the
following ways. Initially we examine Callimachus’ aesthetic agenda, but
within the context of previous Greek speculations about the role of poets
and poetry in the civic environment, the role played by philosophers, par-
ticularly Plato, in this discussion, and the trope of the literary quarrel.
We then turn to Callimachus’ particular creative moment, to situate him
not simply as a poet of the book, but as a poet conscious of his position

 Snell : .

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 Callimachus in Context
within a long tradition of public performance embedded in specific com-
munities, who is able to capitalize on the universalizing poetic strategies
permitted by the written text. In our third chapter we take up his geogra-
phies and genealogies, arguing that much of what now appears obscure and
eccentric to earlier poetry is the result of his project to re-map the Mediter-
ranean, de-centering mainland Greece to focus on places of familiarity and
importance to court and society in early Ptolemaic Alexandria. Finally, we
assess the ways in which Roman poets appropriated Callimachus, how they
reconfigured, exaggerated, or ignored various aspects of his poems, thus
conditioning the way in which we read Callimachus today.
In order to contextualize Callimachus within his intellectual traditions
and within his physical and social environments, let us begin with what is
known about his time and place. Aulus Gellius placed his floruit in  bc,
which coincides with the approximate dates of internal references within
some of his poems. These include what appears to be an epithalamium for
the marriage of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II (between –); the Hymn to
Delos, with its vignette of a revolt of Gaulish mercenaries (); Arsinoe II’s
death and apotheosis (); the marriage of Berenice II and Ptolemy III
(); and Berenice II’s chariot victory at the Nemean games ( or ).
No poems to which dates may be assigned survive between  and  bc.
However most of the poems to which we can assign dates were occasional,
praising the Ptolemaic queens Arsinoe II and Berenice II. Because Ptolemy
II did not take another wife after the death of Arsinoe in , there was no
queen of Egypt until Berenice’s marriage in , a circumstance that might
explain the apparent hiatus in his production. The earliest of his poems
to which a plausible date may be assigned is the Hymn to Zeus. Either
it was written for Ptolemy I or for his son, Ptolemy II, at the beginning
of his assumption of power, which gives it a terminus ante quem of ,
the year of Ptolemy I’s death. Callimachus’ elegiac epinician for Sosibius
was either written for the nefarious minister of Ptolemy IV or for an
earlier figure credited with a treatise on kingship written under Cassander.

 .. (= test.  Pf.) See Lehnus : –.

 Arsinoe returned to Egypt in / (Just. .–); she is named “loving her brother” in the Pithom
Stele in the th year of his reign (/). See Fraser : . n. .
 For Ptolemy II: Koenen : –; Clauss : –; Stephens : –; for Ptolemy I: Carrière
. Meillier : – and Laronde :  make a case for Magas as the recipient, but the
identification is difficult to reconcile with lines – in which ‘Zeus’ (identified with Ptolemy),
receives the best portion (Olympus) although he is the youngest of his siblings.
 The younger Sosibius was, according to Polybius (.–), responsible for the death of Berenice II.
His high status makes him a more suitable participant in Panhellenic athletic contests than the older
Sosibius identified by Athenaeus (e).

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Introduction 
Based on the assumption that the epinician was for the younger Sosibius,
Callimachus’ birth is generally taken to have been around  bc. But if
it was the earlier Sosibius, that poem is unlikely to be later than the s
and requires Callimachus’ birth date to be adjusted upwards, perhaps as
early as  bc. As to the extent of his life, Athenaeus (c) mentions
that Callimachus recorded in his Pinakes that one Lysimachus wrote on
the education of Attalus. However, the first king so named took the throne
only in ; for Athenaeus’ statement to be accurate, Callimachus must
still have been writing in , and very probably even later. In either case,
Callimachus lived the majority of his adulthood during the reign of the
second Ptolemy (–), the period when the Ptolemaic empire was at
its height. The Suda tells us that he was an elementary schoolmaster in
Eleusis, but if he is already writing for the court in the late s bc, his
academic career must have been quite brief. In contrast, Tzetzes records
that he was a “youth of the court” (nean©skov tv aÉlv), an official
status that is incompatible with elementary school teaching, but would fit
with a poetic career that seems to have begun in his early twenties. The
easiest explanation for the Suda’s information is that it was extrapolated
from poems in which Callimachus speaks of the schoolroom or school-
Although he wrote for the Alexandrian court, Callimachus identifies
himself as a native of the Dorian colony of Cyrene, claiming descent
from the Battiads, the city’s founding line. His grandfather, also named
Callimachus, was probably the Cyrenean general. Callimachus’ sister,
Megatima, seems to have married into a high-ranking Cypriot family.
A great-grandfather has been identified as Anniceris, a Cyrenean, who
according to an anecdote preserved in Lucian (Dem. enc. ) and Aelian
(VH .), tried to impress Plato by driving his chariot (bound for the

 See Wilamowitz : ..  See Lehnus .  Test. .– Pf.
 Test. c. Pf. Cameron argues that if Callimachus was one of the youths reared at court, as the
term implies, then the family must have been in residence in Alexandria during the reign of Soter
(: –, –).
 E.g., Ep.  GP =  Pf. or Iambus . See Cameron : – and Lehnus : .
 Ep.  GP =  Pf. Cameron :  points out that the term “Battiades” refers to lineage, not the
name of a close relative.
 Ep.  GP =  Pf.: “Whoever walks past my tomb, know that I am the child and parent of
Cyrenean Callimachus, and you would know both: one once led his country’s armies, the other
sang beyond the reach of envy.” Cameron :  notes the combative symmetries: the one bested
the enemy in battle, the other in poetry.
 Cameron : –. For the details based on inscriptional evidence see Laronde : –,  and
Meillier : –.

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 Callimachus in Context
Olympic games) around the periphery of the Academy. Anniceris must
have been a man of considerable wealth because he was also said to have
ransomed Plato from Dionysius of Syracuse. Callimachus’ lifetime largely
overlapped the heyday of Cyrenaic philosophy, which traces its descent
from Aristippus, a Cyrenean who traveled to Athens and frequented the
circle around Socrates. From  to  bc, four figures dominated the
Cyrenaic school – Aristippus the Younger (the grandson of this earlier
Aristippus), Hegesias, Theodorus, and the younger Anniceris. Their
philosophy advocated a hedonism probably developed in response to the
Epicureans, but focusing not on the long-term goal of the avoidance of pain,
but the enjoyment of ephemeral pleasures both physical and intellectual.
One of these men, Theodorus, wrote a book denying the existence of gods,
and was expelled from Athens, but, according to Diogenes Laertius, was
pressed into service as an ambassador for Ptolemy Soter. He too may have
been related to Callimachus.
Cyrene had been the most important Greek city on the coast of North
Africa in the three centuries before the foundation of Alexandria. Accord-
ing to Herodotus, Battus founded it in the seventh century when he led
out colonists from Sparta via Thera to Libya at the instruction of the
Delphic Apollo. Increasing migration to the region led to considerable
instability, with the result that by the mid-sixth century external threats
from the Libyans, Amasis’ Egypt, and internal political machinations led
Battus III to consult the Delphic oracle once again. The Pytho instructed
him to solicit Demonax from Mantinea in Arcadia as an advisor, who
reorganized the citizens into three tribes: the original (Spartan) Theraean
settlers, another consisting of Peloponnesians and Cretans, and the third
 Lehnus :  n.  and F. Williams : –, who suggests that Anniceris demonstrated his skills
by driving several times in the same tracks, and that the instruction not to drive one’s chariot “along
the same tracks as others” in the Aetia Prologue was a sly reference to his ancestor’s derring-do.
 D.L. ..  He is named in the Phaedo (c), and see below, ch.  n..
 White : –; D.L. ..
 D.L. .–. Theodorus the Cyrenaic is to be distinguished from Theodorus of Cyrene, a
geometrician, and sometime companion of Socrates (in the Theaetetus and the Sophist). According
to D.L. ., Plato visited the latter in Cyrene.
 See, e.g., Long : . Most of what we know about the Cyrenaics is based on the account in
D.L. .–.
 D.L. .–. Meillier : – prints Chamoux’s hypothetical family tree, based on Cyrenean
and other inscriptions (though Cameron :  n.  points out Callimachus’ great-grandfather
could only have been the older Anniceris).
 Hdt. .–. The traditional foundation date is  bc. For ancient references to and modern
discussion of this story see Giangiulio : –, and especially his notes. The myth is also
celebrated in a statue group that, according to Pausanias (..), the Cyreneans dedicated at
Delphi. It was a figure of Battus in a chariot with Cyrene, who holds the reins. He is being crowned
by Libya.

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Introduction 
of the remaining islanders. Battiad rule continued until some time in
the mid-fifth century, exerting a hegemonic influence over the rest of the
Cyrenaica. When their rule came to an end, Cyrene became a republic.
Civic tensions between the aristocratic and democratic factions erupted in
the late fourth century, as a result of which the oligarchic party appealed
to Ptolemy I to intervene. He placed his general Ophellas in charge, who
attempted to quell the demotic insurgency; but Ptolemy himself decided
to intervene in /, restructuring Cyrene’s constitution to leave it an
oligarchy, though he continued to exert de facto control. This did not
end civil discord; it continued for two decades as various factions tried to
assert their independence from the imperial grasp.
In  bc Magas, the son of Berenice I, and Ptolemy I’s stepson, re-
conquered Cyrene, administering it as strategos for the Ptolemies until ,
at which time he declared his independence and ruled Cyrene as its king
from  to . During this period the two cities engaged in frequent hos-
tilities, but it is unclear whether political tensions created an impermeable
barrier to travel and trade, and if they did, whether Callimachus spent these
years in Alexandria or Cyrene. Of his topical poetry, only the Apotheosis of
Arsinoe, which must have been written soon after her death in , would
seem to require a presence in Alexandria; all of his other poems with date-
sensitive material fall around or before  or after . Cyrene returned
to Ptolemaic control when, at the end of their lives, Magas and Ptolemy II
brokered a marriage between their children. Both fathers died before the
marriage and, despite bloody intrigues to prevent it, Magas’ daughter,
Berenice II, and Ptolemy III were married in  bc. Callimachus’ writing
includes discrete details of both Alexandria and Cyrene, and it is significant
that his poem on the marriage, the event that led to the reconciliation of
the cities, was given the final and most emphatic position in the Aetia.
Cyrenean literary attainments before Callimachus appear rather slender.
The city could lay claim to a thriving philosophical school, but it did
not produce great international poets. However, a sixth-century Cyrenean
 Hdt. .. See Hölkeskamp  on Demonax’s reforms and their duration. Maass  makes
the intriguing suggestion that Callimachus’ first three hymns reflect Demonax’s phylitic structure:
Zeus’s birth is an amalgam of Arcadian (Peloponnesian) and Cretan legends; the Spartan-Theran
colonization myth occurs in the second hymn; Artemis’ cultic connections with the islanders is
important in the third.
 For the constitution (the diagramma) of Cyrene (SEG IX.) see Laronde : –. Ptolemy’s
reforms opened up the citizen body to include the offspring of Cyrenean men and Libyan women, an
event that Callimachus may well be acknowledging in his dance of the Spartans with yellow-haired
Libyan women in hAp. –.
 Laronde treats these wars in considerable detail, see : – and –.
 See, e.g., Hölbl : –.

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 Callimachus in Context
epic poet, Eugammon, allows a glimpse into regional poetics and how it
operated within the broader Panhellenic context. Eugammon is credited
with a Telegonia, the adventures of Telegonus, a son of Odysseus and
Circe that provides a variant ending to the Odyssey. According to Proclus’
epitome, after Odysseus returned to Ithaca and killed the suitors, he needed
to propitiate Poseidon by traveling inland until he encountered a people
who did not know the sea. He journeyed to the land of the Thesprotians
(Epirus), married the queen of the country, and sired a son. When he
returned to Ithaca, Telegonus, who had been searching for him, killed him
in ignorance with a spear dipped in poison from a stingray. Telegonus then
transported his dead father, Penelope, and Telemachus to the Islands of the
Blessed; he married Penelope, while Telemachus married Circe. The poet
included another son of Odysseus and Penelope, named Arcesilas. Since this
name was hereditary in the Battiad line, the figure was surely meant to have
been a “genealogical compliment” to the house. Distinctive elements of
the Telegonia also surface in Athenian tragedy. Sophocles apparently wrote
a play entitled Odysseus ˆkanqoplžx (“Odysseus struck by a stickle-back
fish”), which Aristotle identifies (along with the Oedipus Tyrannus) as
an example of his favorite tragic plot. In addition, later Italian writers
must have known the epic, since Telegonus occurs in their own colonizing
histories. All of which suggests a fairly wide circulation for the Cyrenean
Whether or not Eugammon was the source, it is reasonable to assume
that other Cyrene-specific myths like the Libyan adventures of the Arg-
onauts and the Cyrenean fragments in Hesiod’s catalogue poetry depended
on local traditions, both oral and written. These sources certainly under-
pin Herodotus’ Libyan material, and Pindar too incorporated local myths
in his epinicia for Cyrenean victors. Pythian , written for Arcesilas IV’s
chariot victory at the Pythian games in  bc, includes a temporally
layered narrative of the foundation myth of Cyrene within the broader
adventure of the Argonauts. Medea prophesies that one of them, Euphe-
mus, will receive a gift of Libyan earth from a god disguised as a man
 See Giangiulio :  n.  for bibliography. For the fragments see Bernabé : – and
West : –.
 A line expressing this sentiment found in a letter of the fourth century ad Cyrenean Synesius has
been attributed to Eugammon by Livrea .
 Phillips : –. When referring to Cyrenean monarchs, the Doric form of the name Arcesilas is
used throughout, in preference to Arcesilaus.
 See TrGF Sophocles frr. – Radt, pp. – and Poetics b– (the unwitting murder of
 See, e.g., Horace, c. ..– with Nisbet and Rudd :  for other occurrences.
 West : ; Giangiulio : .

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Introduction 
(–) and that the heaven-sent clod (daimon©h bÛlax) was a promise
that in the seventeenth generation his ancestors will return to colonize the
land. Pythian , written for the victory of Telesicrates of Cyrene in the race
in armor at the Pythian games in , rehearses the story of Apollo’s love
for the eponymous nymph, Cyrene, whom he carries off from Thessaly
to Libya. There she gives birth to Aristaeus. Pindar’s poems include many
of the city’s features: Carneian Apollo and his festival of the Carneia, the
tomb of the founder, Battus, and the garden of Aphrodite.
Evidence for dramatic performance in Cyrene is tantalizing but incon-
clusive. Its earliest theater (with at least two building phases) was located
beside the precinct of Apollo. This early Greek theater may have had sup-
port for a skene, which would indicate that full dramatic productions took
place there, though no evidence for the presence of tragic actors in the city
has come to light. A close connection with Athens in the fifth century and
evidence for the popularity of the Alcestis story in Cyrene might mean that
Athenian plays were performed there, but it is more likely that the myth
figured in or was performed as part of the celebration of the Spartan and
the Cyrenean Carneia. Apart from the architectural remains, our knowl-
edge of performance practices depends primarily on two fourth-century
inscriptions (SEG . and .). These are fragmentary accounts of
the damiourgoi listing expenses for tragic choruses, dithyrambic choruses,
an auletes, and prizes of an ox for each chorus. It is not clear from
these inscriptions whether citizen groups or professional performers con-
stituted the choruses. Because SEG . specifies three tragic choruses it is
tempting to identify them with Demonax’s three tribes, but the number
of dithyrambic choruses does not match, which would be a much more
dependable index. C. Dobias-Lalou would link the three tragic choruses
to the Athenian practice of tragic competition, but again the argument is
not conclusive. P. Ceccarelli and S. Milanezi in their discussion of these
texts raise the possibility that, given the lack of evidence for the worship of
Dionysus in Cyrene before the first century bc, the dithyrambic choruses
might have been intended for the celebration of another god. If so, the
most probable candidate would be Apollo, in connection with the nine-day
festival of the Carneia. But they too admit uncertainty. The most that can
 Stucchi : –; Bonacasa and Ensoli : , with a discussion of construction phases for the
classical and Hellenistic theater.
 Quatrocelli .
 They also list sums for the bear, presumably of Artemis, and for the priestess of Athena. For a
discussion of these inscriptions in the context of tragic and dithyrambic performance, see Ceccarelli
and Milanezi .
 : .

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 Callimachus in Context
be said is that choral performance of some kind took place on an annual
basis and that myths originating elsewhere (like that of Alcestis) circulated
in Cyrene.
Since Callimachus wrote topical poems that featured Ptolemy II and
Arsinoe II, he must have taken up residence in Alexandria at some point
early in his life (if he was not resident as a child). In fact, civic unrest
in Cyrene and the Cyrenaica created conditions that encouraged many
residents from this region to migrate to Alexandria at the beginning of
the third century. Although our information about the ethnic identity of
Greek immigrants to Alexandria is sketchy, migration patterns into the
rest of Ptolemaic Egypt show large numbers from North Africa. In the
period between  and  bc immigrants in some numbers also came
from Thessaly and Thrace, Athens, the southern Aegean islands, and,
in the second century bc, from Judea. There is no inherent reason to
think that patterns of immigration to Alexandria would have drawn on
different communities or in radically different proportions since Cyrene
and the Cyrenaica contained the Greek populations closest to the newly
established city. The conclusion to draw from this is that Callimachus was
not an isolated figure but would have belonged to one of the city’s largest
ethnic groups (Macedonians were probably the largest, but the majority
would have been soldiers, and often on campaign). Cyreneans would have
brought a local perspective to their reception of his poetry, and this may
in turn have conditioned his treatment of specific topics. (For example,
the Hymn to Apollo could have been written for the immigrant Cyrenean
community in Alexandria.) How long he lived in Alexandria is not known,
nor if he traveled elsewhere.
Because Callimachus wrote six hymns to Olympian divinities – Zeus,
Apollo, Artemis, Delos (Apollo), Athena (in Argos), and Demeter – it
is helpful to review the respective religious environments of Cyrene and
Alexandria. They differed in important ways. Cults to these five Olympians
flourished in Cyrene. Apollo was its patron deity, whose temple was first
constructed in the sixth century bc. Its environs included the garden of
Aphrodite, a temple of Artemis, and an exedra to Leto with a bronze

 The data in La’da  indicates that the largest number identified by ethnicity were Macedonians
(), then those from Cyrene or the Cyrenaica (), those identified as Jews (), Athenians (),
Syracusans ().
 See Mueller : . Jewish immigration does not happen much before the second century bc.
 Oliver  would identify the Callimachus listed as a benefactor in an Athenian decree of /
bc as the poet, which would guarantee his residence in Athens at the time. But the identification is
far from secure.

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Introduction 
Delian palm. The colossal cult statue of Apollo was found in  and
now resides in the British Museum. It is a Roman copy of a Hellenistic
original that is assigned to the second century bc. Callimachus features
the Cyrenean festival of Apollo Carneius in his second hymn. A cult
temple of Zeus Olympius was also centrally located, with a cult statue
that replicated Phidias’ renowned statue of Zeus at Olympia. Herodotus
mentions an extramural sanctuary of Zeus Lycaeus (.), though this has
never been found. Another important extramural sanctuary belonged to
Demeter and Kore. Deposits of piglet bones indicate that the Thesmophoria
would have been celebrated there. The fourth-century Cathartic Law
from Cyrene confirms the centrality of the cult of Artemis, particularly in
connection with marriage and childbirth. A surviving fragment from an
altar to Artemis features the slaughter of the children of Niobe. Worship
of Athena is attested as early as Pindar (Pythian .–), and she also
appeared on Cyrenean coins. Were some of Callimachus’ hymns written
for Cyrene? The strongest case can be made for the Hymn to Apollo, since
its central section narrates the history of the Carneia. Archaeologists have
also turned to the Hymn to Demeter to reconstruct various features of the
city’s topography, although Donald White is surely correct in his assertion
that Callimachus was not writing Blue Guides. However, the poetry does
contain so many seemingly specific references to place and to local objects
that it makes sense to evaluate the accuracy of each description on its own
merits, rather than to generalize.
Cyrene and the Cyrenaica had had centuries of interaction with
pharaonic Egypt and Egypt under Persian rule, so it is not surpris-
ing to find that the non-Greek divinities Amun and Isis were also well

 Stucchi :  draws a connection to the opening of the hymn to Apollo; for the precinct see
Bonacasa and Ensoli : – (and the city plan, –).
 Higgs . With his long flowing hair, rather loosely draped cloak, lyre, and quiver (with an
entwined Delphic snake) the Roman copy is remarkably like Callimachus’ description of Apollo in
hAp. –. Of course, the Hellenistic model for the Roman copy postdated Callimachus, but the
general attributes may have reflected an even earlier cult statue.
 Bonacasa and Ensoli : –. The date of the statue is uncertain. The temple itself was rebuilt
in the Roman period.
 Kane : .
 For a text and commentary on the law, see Parker : – and Robertson .
 Bonacasa and Ensoli :  and . Apollo mentions the children of Niobe in hDel. .
 White : –. Does the hDem. describe an actual Cyrenean festival route? Stucchi : –,
Chamoux : –, and Laronde : – all argue that it does; White demurs.
 See Bonacasa and Ensoli : – for important sculptural fragments found at Cyrene,
a number of which, like the Three Graces and Cyrene with a Lion, coincide with figures in
Callimachus’ poetry.
 Chamoux : –.

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 Callimachus in Context
established there. Worship of Isis is attested for Cyrene by the fourth
century bc, and the shrine of Zeus Ammon at the Siwah oasis was among
the most prominent oracles in the ancient Mediterranean. It was this
oracle that proclaimed Alexander a god when he consulted it before his
expedition to Babylon and India. Zeus Ammon was also worshipped in
Cyrene from the sixth century, though as F. Chamoux points out, under a
form that was Hellenic in style. Cyrene seems to have been instrumental
in the exporting of this Hellenized cult to Attica in the fifth century, and
a temple to Zeus Ammon was established in Macedon near Pallene in the
Alexandria provides a marked contrast to Cyrene. It was founded no
more than twenty or thirty years before Callimachus’ birth, and in a
location on the Libyan coastline previously devoid of any Greek settlement.
Alexander is usually credited with laying out the city: Arrian (..), for
example, claims that he marked out where the city’s agora should be and
“how many temples and of which gods, the Greek [sc. gods] on the one
hand and Egyptian Isis on the other,” but his language (¬er‡ Âsa kaª
qeän æntinwn, tän m•n ëEllhnikän, ï Isidov d• A«gupt©av) does not
instill confidence that he really knew how many or which Greek divinities.
In contrast, Tacitus (Hist. ..) says that it was the Ptolemies who were
responsible for building the city’s walls, temples, and cults, and he discusses
no Olympians, only the cult of Serapis. It is also important to remember
that this early city was not the one described by Strabo, who was writing
at the end of the first century bc: Callimachus’ Alexandria had some sort
of walls, the palace environs, the Museum, and the beginnings of the
Library. The lighthouse was built between  and ; the stadium
(Lageion) was completed by the time the Ptolemaia was celebrated about
; the Heptostadium and dockyards were built during Ptolemy II’s reign
to accommodate his extensive fleet. The Cape Zephyrium temple and the
Arsinoeion were constructed (probably) just prior to and immediately after
Arsinoe II’s death in . The great temple to Serapis was only completed
under the third Ptolemy, perhaps after Callimachus’ death. Probably there
was a third-century theater and a Thesmophorion, though the latter is not
mentioned before Polybius. Ptolemy IV is credited with building the sema

 Stucchi : –.

 The cult was exported to other Greek cities even before Alexander, see Classen .
 Chamoux : –.
 For Athens, see Chamoux :  and n. ; for Pallene see Bohec-Bouhet :  and n. .
 For the archaeology of the early city, see McKenzie : –.
 For the Great Serapeum see McKenzie : –.

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Introduction 
of Alexander, but it was almost certainly Soter who moved the body to
Alexandria from Memphis.
Despite Arrian’s assertions, the only Olympian deity who can be securely
attested for the early city is Demeter. A district of the city was named
Eleusis, and that presupposes a tie to Athens and suggests that some variety
of the Mysteries were celebrated there. Early papyrus letters from the Zenon
archive indicate that the city celebrated a Demetria, the equivalent of the
Thesmophoria. The city’s patron deity was Serapis, an amalgam of Greek
Dionysus and Egyptian Osiris, who was worshipped under both Greek
and Egyptian aspects, and thus was not unlike Zeus Ammon. A temple
to Serapis, supposedly established by Alexander, is attested in the city by
the s. It is to this temple that Hipponax summons the “critics” in the
first Iambus. The city also had a temple of Isis, the foundation of which
was credited to Alexander in other sources as well as the passage of Arrian
quoted above. The celebration of a festival of Isis in the city is attested in
a letter of Apollonius, Ptolemy’s treasurer, dated to  bc. Callimachus
alludes to the Egyptian rite of prolonged mourning for the death of the Apis
bull at the opening of Aetia, book , an event that seems to have occurred
at least twice during Ptolemy II’s reign. Other Olympian deities were
identified with deceased members of the royal family: the lighthouse on
the island of Pharos was probably dedicated to Zeus Soter in conjunction
with the Theoi Soteres or the deified couple, Ptolemy I and Berenice I.
Arsinoe II was deified as Aphrodite-Arsinoe, and a temple erected to her at
Cape Zephyrium, about fifteen miles east of Alexandria. Callimachus and
Posidippus mention this temple in several poems. A spectacular funerary
temple for Arsinoe II was apparently begun soon after her death, though
it seems never to have been completed. Ptolemy II imported an obelisk to
adorn it, and according to Pliny the roof was designed with magnets so

 See Erskine  on the body of Alexander.

 PCZ . and PCol. Zen.  ( bc, which confirms that the Alexandrian festival coincided in
date with the Athenian). For the evidence for these festivals, see Perpillou-Thomas : –.
 Thompson : –.
 This was known as Parmenio’s Serapeum and is attested in a document from  bc. Fraser :
 McKenzie :  and n. .
 PCZ . Apollonius requests that wood be sent to the capital for the festival. See Perpillou-
Thomas : –.
 Fr.  Pf. + SH .: “women who know how to mourn the bull with a white marking”.
Thompson : – indicates that an Apis was buried in  and again in  bc. Since the
Victory of Berenice probably commemorates events in , the mention of the death of the Apis in
 must have been a topical reference.
 Fraser ..–.

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 Callimachus in Context
that a statue of the deified queen could rise and appear to float in the air.
According to the Diegesis, Callimachus alluded to this temple precinct
in his poem on the death of Arsinoe (fr.  Pf.). Major civic festivals
included the Ptolemaia, instituted by Ptolemy II in honor of his father,
and the Arsinoeia, honoring his deified sister and queen, Arsinoe II. The
Ptolemaia included athletic competitions that were promoted as equal in
stature to those of the great Panhellenic venues. Posidippus mentions them
in his epigram for Nearchus’ victories ( A–B).
Although Alexandria possessed features common to other Greek poleis,
including an agora, stadium, hippodrome, and a theater, the city center
was dominated by a palace complex with attendant buildings that included
the Museum and the Library, two structures that have come to epitomize
the city. Mouseia, or shrines to the Muses, are well attested elsewhere. The
most venerable was on Mt. Helicon located near the Hippocrene and
Mt. Parnassus, and this is the site of Callimachus’ dream relocation at the
beginning of the Aetia. Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum, which
were private establishments, had Mouseia, probably as early as the fourth
century. However, in Alexandria the Museum, which housed and provided
meals for its members, was state-sponsored, as was the Library. Libraries,
too, existed elsewhere in the Greek world, but the scale of collecting that
the Ptolemies engaged in surpassed all previous endeavors, and that was
undoubtedly the point – for the upstart city without traditions or history
visibly to possess the great literary accomplishments of the Greek past, just
as it sought to collect and so to control a vast array of objects, among
them rare stones and wild animals. The rapid accumulation of papyrus
rolls must have brought with it chances for advancement within a growing
scribal and scholarly bureaucracy. For those associated with the library, the
challenge of organizing and maintaining so many books also offered the
unparalleled opportunity to read much of what the past had produced.
The earliest period of Alexandria’s history was the time of its great-
est literary achievement. Ptolemy I, like his fellow diadochs, continued
Alexander’s habit of surrounding himself with men of letters, scientists,
and philosophers, and he was also credited with a history of Alexan-
der’s campaigns supposedly written late in his life. Ptolemy I provided
his son, Ptolemy II, with a philosopher for a tutor, presumably on the

 HN . and see McKenzie : –. For an imaginative, if speculative, treatment of the
monument, see Pfrommer : –.
 See, e.g. Pausanias’ long description, ..–.  Weber : –.
 Arrian (Anab. .) regarded it as one of the two most truthful versions available when he undertook
to write his Anabasis of Alexander some five centuries later.

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Introduction 
model of Alexander, who had been tutored by Aristotle. According to Dio-
genes Laertius (.), Ptolemy paid Strato of Lampsacus, who succeeded
Theophrastus as head of the Peripatetic school in Athens, eighty talents
for the task. The Coan poet, Philitas, was another tutor, and we now have
an epigram by Posidippus describing a statue of Philitas that was prob-
ably erected in Alexandria and dedicated by Ptolemy II himself. The
most significant immigrant to the new city may have been Demetrius of
Phalerum. The latter had been the virtual ruler of Athens for ten years
(under Cassander) before he fell from power under Demetrius Poliorcetes
and went into exile. He seems to have been one of Soter’s principal advi-
sors from about  bc, and later sources attribute the establishment of
the cult of Serapis as well as the Library to his influence. Whatever
the truth of these claims, Demetrius’ literary interests, including the first
known compilation of Aesop’s fables and paeans to a new deity, Serapis,
make it reasonable to assume that he had some impact on the intellectual
direction of the early poets in the city. Callimachus’ own use of Aesop’s
fables – they occur in Aetia, fr.  Pf., and the second and fourth Iambi –
suggests that he had more than a passing acquaintance with Demetrius’
Other immigrant intellectuals included Hecataeus of Abdera, who vis-
ited Egypt during the reign of the first Ptolemy and wrote an Aegyptiaca that
articulated a model of idealized kingship, and Euhemerus of Messene, who
wrote under Cassander. His Sacred Register was a fictional travel adventure
that chronicled how the gods were once mortal and came to be worshipped
for their services to their people. Euhemerus, either the man himself or
his statue, appears in Alexandria in the first Iambus. The impact of his work
may be gauged by the fact that it was among the first Greek prose texts
translated into Latin. Herophilus of Chalcedon, a Coan-trained doctor,
inaugurated the great tradition of Alexandrian medicine. The tragedians

  A-B: the figure “holds the canon of truth” (line : ˆlhqe©hv ½rq¼n [›cwn] kan»na). See Bing
: –.
 D.L. . – relates that he fell from favor for advocating that Ptolemy not prefer his son Ptolemy
II (by Berenice I) as his successor over the sons of an earlier wife, Eurydice. Demetrius died in exile
in Upper Egypt shortly after Ptolemy II assumed the throne.
 See, e.g., Pfeiffer : , who states that Philitas and Zenodotus were more important but that
Demetrius brought to the Museum the “influence of his great master Aristotle.”
 See Acosta-Hughes : , .
 Diodorus Siculus now preserves large sections of these writings. For their importance in early
Ptolemaic Alexandria, see Stephens : –; and for Euhemerus, De Angelis and Garstad .
 Ennius translated it in the early second century bc.
 For potential references to Herophilus in Callimachus’ poetry see Fraser : .– and Most

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 Callimachus in Context
Lycophron of Chalcis and Alexander the Aetolian were also active in early
Alexandria. We should add to the mix Theodorus the Cyrenaic, mentioned
above, who was said to have served as Ptolemy’s ambassador to the court
of Lysimachus of Thrace. These figures give some sense of the range
of cities from which the Ptolemies drew talent and the contour of their
intellectual activity: philosophers who have turned to politics; prose writers
theorizing kingship and speculating on the nature of divinity; poets writing
traditional forms like tragedy and also creating new art forms like royal
panegyric. Finally, there is what comes to be the hallmark of Alexandrian
intellectual life, the systematic collection and preservation of the literary
production of the past.
Zenodotus of Ephesus was the first name to be connected with this
endeavor. His particular sphere of activity as Ptolemy’s first librarian (cor-
recting texts of Homer) illustrates the changing intellectual terrain. He
is said to have been a pupil of Philitas of Cos, who in addition to his
elegiac poetry was recognized for his collection of glosses on rare and
difficult words in Homer. The background against which Philitas’ and
Zenodotus’ work should be understood is that by the third century bc
Homer had come to be the most popular and best known of the ancient
poets: the whole of his Iliad and Odyssey had from the last quarter of the
sixth century been performed by rhapsodes during the Athenian festival
of the Panathenaea. From this period too dates the use of Homer as a
school text, as boys learned to read, memorize, and recite it. The demand
for Homer throughout the Greek-speaking world meant that there were
numerous texts in circulation, with regional variants, rhapsodic alterations,
and simple errors. This popularity meant that he was continuously sub-
jected to interpretation and an easy target for critique, most noticeably
in the fifth century from historians who questioned the accuracy of the
events he portrayed and from the Sophists and later philosophers who
debated his meanings and questioned the moral and ethical values that his
poems encoded. In addition, the urgency (and banality) of the need for the
translation of his unfamiliar words into the local koine is amply attested
by the large numbers of glossaries and word lists found on papyri, many

 Lysimachus was the first husband of Arsinoe II.

 Pfeiffer : –. West : – argues that Zenodotus was surely not an editor of Homer
in our modern sense of the term, nor was he by any means as systematic as Aristarchus in the next
century. For a different assessment, see Rengakos .
 Ataktoi glossai. For an evaluation of the glosses see Bing : – and for fragments and com-
mentary, see Spanoudakis : –.
 See, e.g., P. Murray : – and West : –.

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Introduction 
written by unpracticed hands. The fact that the first Alexandrian librarian
worked on Homer (either actively gathering and collating manuscripts or
annotating his own copies with variants found or conjectured) is not only
a tribute to the status of the poet, but it also reflects the complexity of his
reception, as well as a new emphasis on the possession of his texts as an
icon of state power.
Callimachus belongs to the second generation of these Alexandrian intel-
lectuals, and like Philitas he was both poet and scholar. His importance in
this world is undisputed, though now his relationships with his immedi-
ate contemporaries, Timon of Phlius, Aratus of Soli, Posidippus of Pella,
Asclepiades of Samos, Theocritus of Syracuse, and Apollonius of Rhodes
can only be pieced together from the occasional epigram – he expresses
admiration for Aratus in  GP =  Pf., possibly anti-Posidippan senti-
ments in  GP =  Pf. – and the degree of overlap with others in theme
and aesthetic orientation is discernable only from the poems themselves.
These overlaps with Theocritus and Apollonius, and, as it now appears,
Posidippus, are considerable: for example, Callimachus’ Aetia begins at
Anaphe, where Apollonius’ Argonautica ends; both poets include similar
adventures of the Argonauts; both recount the details of Apollo slaying
Pytho; the Hydrophoria at Aegina appears at the end of the Argonautica,
but also in Callimachus’ eighth Iambus; Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos pro-
vides the prophecy of Ptolemy II’s birth on Cos, Theocritus’ Encomium
for Ptolemy recounts that event in similar language; Posidippus follows
the path of Thracian cranes to Egypt, Callimachus banishes the noisy
birds to Thrace; one of Callimachus’ opening lines from the Hymn to
Athena was imitated with an obscene twist in an epigram of Posidippus
or Asclepiades. Were these men (or a subset) his Telchines, the severiores
who attack him in the Aetia? Or are we looking at poetic fiction akin to
his dream of poetic induction into the throng of the Muses on Helicon?
This question is unanswerable, not because Callimachus’ poems are for
the most part fragmentary, but because whatever statements he makes as
a poet cannot be taken as biographical facts, but must be filtered through
an understanding of the literary construct and its social context. How to
recuperate these frames of reference is our challenge.
Callimachus’ prose works have almost entirely disappeared, though
ancient testimony sheds some light on his interests. While treatises on
 As a rough metric, there are ten times as many fragments of Homer from Greco-Roman Egypt as
the next most popular author, Euripides ( compared to ).
 For Posidippus and Callimachus see Stephens  and Fantuzzi-Hunter : –, –.
 Cameron : – argues that the epigram was about Ptolemy II’s mistress, Bilistiche.

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 Callimachus in Context
zoology occur (fish, birds), he seems more concerned with geography:
rivers, islands, foundation stories, and the name changes that occurred to
places over time. C. O. Brink points out that the titles of his prose works –
Customs of the barbarians, On birds, On fish, On winds, Marvels throughout
the world by location – indicate a Peripatetic cast of thought. But Calli-
machus’ sources also included figures like Eudoxus and Theopompus.
One of his now lost works bore the title: Pr¼v Praxif†nhn (fr.  Pf.).
Praxiphanes was primarily a philosopher in the School of Aristotle, and
credited with a treatise on poems (Perª poihm†twn) and another on poets
(Perª poihtän). According to the Florentine scholia on the Aetia pro-
logue he was one of the Telchines (Sch. ad fr. .– Pf.); if he was critical
of Callimachus the correct translation for the title is Against Praxiphanes,
which, in turn, suggests an anti-Peripatetic stance. Most scholars have
reconstructed the bone of contention as Callimachus’ resistance to Aristo-
tle’s (expressed by Praxiphanes) holistic view of art, which demanded that a
serious poem be an organic unity and espouse universal values, in contrast
to the particularity of historical writing. They cite the complaint of the
Telchines in the Aetia Prologue that Callimachus did not compose “one
continuous poem” (šn Šeisma dihnek”v) as an allusion to an Aristotelian
model of poetic unity, which the poet rejects. What the available infor-
mation suggests is that Callimachus’ response to Aristotle (and his School)
was eclectic. Aristotle’s ideas certainly appear in Callimachus’ poetry as
well as his prose. The organization of fauna, for example, in the second
Iambus is indebted to Aristotle’s classificatory schemes, and the nautilus
epigram (Ep.  GP =  Pf.) takes its zoological detail from the Historia
animalium. The fundamental disagreement with an Aristotle or a Praxi-
phanes is likely to have arisen from the external imposition of rules on
poetic composition – not specific rules, but any rules that privileged the
judgment of the critic over that of the poet. Thus Callimachus may well
have accepted Peripatetic rules and categories about natural phenomena
while rejecting them for poetry. In regard to the Against Praxiphanes, it is
significant that Callimachus, like the Peripatetics and Stoics, had entered
into the critical fray by writing on poetry not in verse but with a prose
 Krevans : .  Brink : –, – and Gutzwiller : –.
 For a thoughtful discussion of Praxiphanes and Callimachus as part of a debate arising from the
Peripatetic redefinition of the outlines of poetry and history, see Fuhrer .
 See, e.g., Brink : : “[Callimachus] did not want to write an Šeisma dihnek”v, which would be
a necessary condition for the distinction Aristotle makes between the epic cycle and Homer.” For a
more recent discussion, see Hunter a: –.
 See, e.g., Prescott ; Gutzwiller ; and Selden : –.

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Introduction 
Callimachus’ most influential prose works appear to have been his collec-
tion of Marvels (QaÅmata) organized by location and his Pinakes. The Mar-
vels is our earliest known collection of paradoxes, and although Callimachus
did not invent the genre of paradoxography that came to prominence in
the Hellenistic period, he gave it a distinctive stamp. As Nita Krevans
explains: “the key to the genre is the objective and rational presentation of
an item which appears to break the laws of nature,” the purpose of which
is to produce not an “Aha” of understanding, but an “Oh” of wonder.
Paradoxography is closely tied to the Peripatetic impulse to organize the
world into discrete and organically related categories. Collecting examples
of things that behave contrary to conventionally accepted rules of nature is
an attempt to order and contain what is inherently chaotic. But phenom-
ena may only be labeled qaÅmata if they lie beyond implicitly normative
boundaries (as with the monsters on geographers’ maps). In identifying
the marvelous, therefore, what constitutes the norm (whether implict or
explicit) is thrown into relief. In Callimachus there is a strong connection
between the material that he accumulates in his Marvels and many of his
aitia: geography (including Arcadia and Italy), rivers, name changes, and
cults. If the Marvels catalogues violations of nature’s norms, many of the
Aetia catalogue phenomena that violate social norms or expectations: for
example, why does the statue of Artemis at Leucas have a mortar on her
head in place of a crown? The purpose of these aitia may be to astonish,
but they also explain, and in doing so they incorporate the paradoxical or
unexpected behaviors and events into a wider pattern of human activity.
To do so implicitly requires the audience to expand experiential boundaries
with the result that what starts out as strange gradually becomes familiar.
Within the milieu of the library Callimachus’ unique contribution was
his Pinakes (or Tablets), which were equally a product of the categorizing
projects associated with the Peripatetics. These were not a catalogue of
the holdings in the library – for a library of any size the card catalogue
needed to be invented – but an enormous enterprise that organized all
previous Greek poetry and prose into genres, with author, biographical
information, a list of works, and incipits. It is unnecessary to imagine
Callimachus himself reading and recording this information for every text,
nor even supervising a set of professional scribes for the labor, but rather
as the mind making the organizational decisions when the material had

 Fraser : .–.  Krevans :  and : .

 See, e.g., Bagnall :  n.; Krevans : .

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 Callimachus in Context
been assembled. Still it was a prodigious feat, the significance of which is
articulated by Tim Whitmarsh:
The impulse to categorize, to taxonomize, was born of the archival mentality, an
articulate expression of the literary consciousness of the age. But the Tablets were
not simply an uninspired, functional exercise: they represented a monumental
achievement, a confident bid for cultural authority in the present and infinite
fame in the future. . . . the Tablets constituted a boldly provocative challenge, an
attempt to reify the canon, and so play gatekeeper to the subsequent reception of
all literature.
At the same time Callimachus’ own poetic practice was not to adhere to
the generic categories he was instrumental in assigning, but to experiment
at their boundaries. He might use an old category in new ways (as in the
Iambi), or rework tragic themes in epic meter (as in the Hecale), embed
encomia in hymns (as in the Hymn to Delos), write epinicia in elegiacs,
or even devise new models by arranging over fifty diverse tales into one
discontinuous (or disingenuous) narrative of over four thousand lines (as
in the Aetia). Callimachus’ own polyeideia, or habit of writing in more than
one genre, and his crossing of generic boundaries, at least the boundaries
that Aristotle and even Callimachus the author of the Pinakes would set, was
not unprecedented. However, in two respects his generic experimentation
appears to have been unique: () in creating a long poem he moved away
from the style of epic poetry with its narratives unified by incident or
character, and () he incorporated prose sources in poetry, occasionally
even by name.
In Callimachean criticism the first deviation is generally understood in
terms of his rejection of Homer. In Callimachus’ day Homer’s ubiquity,
from the schoolroom to civic performance, and his Panhellenic iconic-
ity limited his efficacy as a model for creative imitation. Homer was an
artifact, a monument of the poetic past, and inimitable, because the very
monumentality of his texts guaranteed second-tier status for anyone who
tried. The challenge for Callimachus and his peers was how to adapt
Homer to a new environment, and this necessarily included “rejecting,”
if by that term we mean neither privileging nor imitating those aspects
of earlier hexametric poetry that could not be translated effectively into
contemporary writing. Callimachus clearly did not privilege the writing of
a sustained narrative over many thousands of lines, the kind of narrative

 : .
 Morrison : – points out that the generic mixing of Callimachus is limited to rather discrete

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Introduction 
trajectory we find in the Iliad. For single subjects and contained narratives
he seems to have preferred shorter hexameter poems, ranging from no more
than a hundred (as the Hymn to Zeus) to over a thousand lines in all (as
in the Hecale). But Callimachus did not reject length per se, since his
Aetia contained over four thousand lines. The changes were his choice of
meter (elegiacs) and his narrative structure, which resembled a collection
of short poems arranged in patterned sequences and bound together in
an accommodatingly loose frame. This aesthetic decision may have been
viewed by Callimachus’ critics, his Telchines, as a failure of heroic nerve,
but unless one chooses to believe that the only reason not to write an epic
poem is a negative judgment of Homer as a poet, there is no reason to
imagine that Callimachus thought any less of the poet than any of his
contemporaries did. An attendant view is that the rejection of sustained
narrative necessarily resulted in a more limited or “slender” poetic vision.
Callimachus certainly advocated a refined poetic style, but this did not
necessarily constrain his poetic conception for the Aetia, which was both
bold and sweeping.
Homer’s iconicity also made him an obvious target for criticism, as
Plato demonstrates in the Republic with his long debate over the value of
poets for the state. In addition, Homer’s language had become an object
of study that reified it as alien, although such intense scrutiny may have
led to a heightened awareness of its potential for poetic expressiveness. The
more rare or strange the word, the more likely it was to conjure up specific
Homeric moments, and hence allow the later philosopher or poet to embed
the word in his own text as an emotional shorthand. For example, in the
Hymn to Demeter, Triopas prays to his father Poseidon to take away the
burden of Erysichthon’s all-consuming appetite; Callimachus characterizes
that hunger as kak‡ boÅbrwstiv, employing a hapax legomenon from
Homer’s Iliad. The phrase comes from the scene of Priam visiting Achilles
to ransom Hector’s body. Achilles reflects that Zeus has two urns, one of
goods, one of ills: to the lucky he gives a mixture, to the unlucky man he
gives ills only: kaª — kakŸ boÅbrwstiv –pª cq»na d±an –laÅnei (“and a
ravening hunger drives him over the shining earth,” .). Callimachus’
employment of this unique expression allows the reader to see Triopas’
plight as the result of divine whimsy but also Triopas’ desire to be rid of
his son as a bathetic contrast to Priam’s need to reclaim his dead child.
In the Republic (d) Socrates had cited this passage of the Iliad in his

 On Hellenistic narrative hexameter poetry, see Ambühl .

 Homer certainly found his way into Callimachus’ poetry, into every poem whatever its genre.

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 Callimachus in Context
critique of Homer’s understanding of the nature of the gods. If the gods are
wholly good, how can they confer evils on men? Because of the mimetic
power of the encounter of Priam and Achilles, both of whom instantiate
Achilles’ claim that to the fortunate Zeus gives a mixture of good and ill,
Socrates makes a cogent argument for excluding such poetry from the state.
Callimachus subsequently includes this by now doubly marked phrase (for
Homer and for Plato) in his hymn in such a way that kak‡ boÅbrwstiv
defines not divine whimsy, but retribution for sacrilege, thus imposing
moral order onto Homer’s random world. In so doing, de facto he answers
Socrates’ objections. Plato’s critique of Homer had many components, but
a central issue was what actions and behaviors were suitable for imitation.
Callimachus’ judgment may not have coincided with Plato’s, but both men
inhabited social and intellectual worlds that required models for behavior
that differed from Homer’s, and whether writing philosophical speculation
or poetry, the Homeric moment had passed (or at least these writers thought
it had) even as engagement with his texts, if anything, may have increased.
Callimachus’ second deviation from generic norms was the blending of
prose and poetry. From at least the time of Homer poets had staked out a
place of cultural authority. So much so that prose writers, even historians
like Thucydides or philosophers like Plato, often turned to poetic sources
to corroborate or serve as foils for their own arguments. However, by the
third century bc, prose writers had gained the ascendency in their superior
claims of knowledge and truth-telling, whether by research (autopsy or
report) or through a process of rational argument. The fourth century saw
the proliferation of prose writing, and in particular the local histories that
assumed some of the poets’ functions in recording regional myths, as for
example in the Atthidographers’ promotion of the Theseus legend. The
Alexandrian library would have made far more of these written texts avail-
able, which in turn would have provided new opportunities for acquiring
information for those who worked in its shadow. Callimachus seems to
have been the first poet to embrace the altered status of prose, and in a
pivotal aition in book  (fr. .– Pf.), he reverses the behavior of prose
writers who quoted the poets: he claims that the story of Acontius and
Cydippe came from the Cean historian Xenomedes: pr”sbuv –thtum©h.
memelhm”nov, ›nqen ¾ pa[i]d»v | mÓqov –v ¡met”rhn ›drame Kalli»phn
(“the old man, scrupulous of the truth, whence the story of the child ran
 We are indebted to Federica Caraguti for calling these passages to our attention.
 Even Longinus, in his admiration for Homer, does not require writers to imitate the form (hexameter
epic), only the poet’s sublime aesthetic.
 Calame b.

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Introduction 
to my Calliope”). He also reverses the research process insofar as he does
not spend time on autopsy, going out in search of his story, rather the
information in his source is portrayed as “running” to him.
Xenomedes’ tale was not Callimachus’ only borrowing from prose.
Leandrius (or Meandrius) is named as his source for the tale of Ino and
Melicertes. The Argolika of Agias and Derkylos, whether or not the poet
cites them within his text, provided the Argive material for more than one
aition (in at least that of Linus and Coroebus in book  and the Argive Foun-
tains in book ). Callimachus uses other prose sources without attribution:
the peculiar behavior of the Indian ants in Iambus  is remarkably close to
an account in Herodotus ..; Šeisma ™n is the unusual, Ionian expres-
sion Herodotus uses to discuss the Linus song in his book on Egypt;
and the image of drought as being able to cross a river with dry feet in the
Victory of Sosibius (fr. . Pf.) has an exact analogue in Herodotus (.).
What Callimachus relates on the Sicilian cities is found in Thucydides and
was in Timaeus as well; information supplied by the Atthidographers
appears in the Hecale. This unusual feature of his writing coupled with
the close identification he makes between himself as a poet and the old
historian Xenomedes suggests that Callimachus’ greatest genre violation
was to contaminate poetry and prose. To do so in the context of the Aetia
was to provide not just a new poetic vision of the past but to co-opt the
truth-value of prose writing for his own, non-Homeric poetic agenda.
Callimachus lived between two cities: Cyrene, with its rich Dorian tra-
ditions, venerable civic spaces, and divinities closely entwined with the
origins and well-being of the city, and Alexandria, a new space that could
not claim autochthony, common myths, or even an organically evolved set
of social practices. In many respects Alexander had shattered the integrity
of the polis-world that Cyrene represented. His conquests had introduced
Greeks to far more heterogeneous and diverse cultures than they had pre-
viously encountered, and his newly established cities created opportunities
for Greeks from many different poleis to intermingle. In the most important
city of his legacy, Egyptian Alexandria, Callimachus could not return to
the past, writing as if the world that Alexander’s conquests had made visible
were irrelevant. To write in this world required the poet to reshape the

 For debates among the Greek historians about what constituted proper research methodology, see
Schepens .
 Hdt. .. For a discussion of this unusual phrase, see Stephens : –.
 We are indebted to David Smith for drawing this to our attention, see now Harder : –.
 See Hollis : –, –.
 Though surprisingly this is often the claim that is made about his poetry.

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 Callimachus in Context
Greek culture that earlier Greek writers both created and took for granted,
to make that set of inherited values meaningful in a non-Greek location
and for an immigrant population of Greeks who lived among non-Greeks.
In his poetry Callimachus adumbrates this world of cultures transformed:
of old institutions like the Spartan Carneia in new places, of migrating
figures like Pollis or Theugenes in the Aetia, a world with a multiplicity
of voices and behaviors. If they are not reducible to an Aristotelian unity,
they can be celebrated, and their discrete voices harmonized through the
imagination and the text of the poet. In order to do this Callimachus
not only experiments with the available poetic models inherited from the
Greek past, he also turns to prose: generic mixing in this broader sense
allows him to allude to, borrow, and imitate a wide range of writers from
Herodotus to Plato. This prompts us to ask, as a fundamental question,
to what extent Callimachus aims not just to assert a role for poetry in
speaking for and about this new cultural formation, but to create literary
forms that absorb previous modes of articulating human realities – poetry,
history, philosophy – to convey not one or another parochial truth, but a
universalizing view of converging particularities.

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c h ap t er 1

Literary quarrels

suicide by the book

e­pav ‘ ë é Hlie ca±re ì Kle»mbrotov ÞmbrakiÛthv

¤lat’ ˆf’ ËyhloÓ te©ceov e«v %¹dhn,
Šxion oÉd•n «dÜn qan†tou kak»n, ˆll‡ Pl†twnov
šn t¼ perª yucv gr†mm’ ˆnalex†menov.

On saying, “Farewell Sun,” Cleombrotus the Ambraciote leapt from a high wall
into Hades, not that he had seen an evil that merited death, but because he had
read a single writing of Plato’s – On the Soul. (Ep.  GP =  Pf.)

Cleombrotus was, notably, one of the companions not present at Socrates’

death, as Phaedo informs Echechrates at the beginning of the dialogue that
bears his name. But Plato did not indicate that the Cleombrotus missing
at Socrates’ final moments was an Ambraciote, which has caused some
scholars to hesitate before identifying the figure in Callimachus’ epigram
with the Cleombrotus of the Phaedo. It should not. The potential for
ambiguity is characteristic of epigram: the first two lines open like a con-
ventional epitaph for someone-or-other named Cleombrotus, while the
last two narrow the choices by directing the reader to Plato’s dialogue. By
specifically naming Plato at the end of the third line and the dialogue, On
the Soul, in the fourth, Callimachus invites his audience to contextualize

 Phaedo c– (along with the elder Aristippus of Cyrene). In another epigram (Ep.  GP =  Pf.)
Callimachus records the death of the children of a Cyrenean named Aristippus: “Melanippus was
buried at dawn, Basilo died at sunset ( el©ou d” | duom”nou), by her own hand (aÉtocer©).” All
Cyrene mourned on beholding the “well-offspringed house” (eÎteknon . . . d»mon), now “widowed”
(cron). The name, Aristippus, the suicide, and the temporal markers (Phaedo and his companions
come to Socrates at dawn [d] on the last day; he dies [b–] at sunset, ¡l©ou dusmän), and the
metaphors (Callimachus’ widowed house, Socrates’ orphaned followers, a–) all suggest some
relationship to the Phaedo.
 White  argues that Callimachus’ Cleombrotus is the figure from Plato; G. D. Williams :
– the opposite.


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 Literary quarrels
the epigram in terms of the Phaedo. The epigram’s own transition from
speaking (: e­pav) to reading (: ˆnalex†menov) carries its audience from
open-ended dialogue and infinite possibilities to fixed text, from the Hades
of poets to the immortal soul of philosophers, from Callimachus (author
of the epigram) to Plato (author of the Phaedo) to alternate readings of
Plato’s text: Callimachus the poetic commentator versus Cleombrotus the
prose-reading suicide. Cleombrotus’ original absence justifies his interest
in the discussion on the deathless soul, but at a distance – by reading;
and Cleombrotus, by misreading the dialogue, which specifically disallows
suicide (c–c), may play out the fears expressed by Socrates in another
dialogue, the Phaedrus, about the efficacy of writing for conveying philo-
sophical truths. The epigram raises questions central for this chapter: how
deeply does Callimachus engage with Plato? Does he express admiration
for a writer so powerful that he could drive a reader to suicide or contempt
for the foolishness of philosophers and philosophy? Is the epigram more
than clever and erudite play? Could it be understood as part of a broader
and more serious response to Platonic writings?
Callimachus treats Plato differently from his other philosophical sources:
in the epigram on Cleombrotus he introduces him by name into a poetic
environment. The poem makes it clear that Callimachus had read Plato
and with some care, since he compresses the theme of the Phaedo into
four short verses that, in addition, encapsulate Plato’s concerns about
misreading. Additional confirmation that Callimachus knew and reacted
to Plato’s criticisms of poetry comes from Proclus’ commentary to Plato’s
e­per g†r tiv Šllov kaª poihtän Šristov kritŸv ¾ Pl†twn, Þv kaª Log-
g±nov sun©sthsin. ëHrakle©dhv goÓn ¾ Pontik»v fhsin, Âti tän Coir©lou
t»te eÉdokimoÅntwn Pl†twn t‡ %ntim†cou proÉt©mhse kaª aÉt¼n ›peise

 T¼ perª yucv appears as an alternate title for the Phaedo already in the th Epistle, a: –n
t perª yucv l»g. Whether or not the epistle is genuine, this does suggest that the alter-
nate title was already in circulation before Callimachus’ time. A second century ad lexicon from
Oxyrhynchus (POxy. ..) cites Pl†t(wn) P(erª) yuc(v), and certainly Lucian in his dia-
logue, Philopseudeis, knows this title (.: ˆneg©gnwskon g‡r t¼ perª yucv toÓ Pl†twnov
bibl©on –f’ ¡suc©av, “For I was reading Plato’s book on the soul at leisure”). A papyrus of the
Phaedo (PPetr. .–) from Gurob and commentary from Hibeh (both third century bc) confirm
that the dialogue had some circulation outside of Museum circles.
 For an excellent discussion of this epigram in its philosophical context, see White .
 Miles .
 The view of the soul that Socrates articulates in this dialogue, namely that it was entirely separable
from the body and would survive death, was not shared by other philosophical schools, and that too
belongs to the background of the epigram. See Long : – for a brief summary of Hellenistic
philosophical positions on the soul.

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Suicide by the book 
t¼n ëHrakle©dhn e«v Kolofäna –lq»nta t‡ poižmata sull”xai toÓ ˆndr»v.
m†thn oÔn flhnafäsi Kall©macov kaª DoÓriv Þv Pl†twnov oÉk Àntov ¬kanoÓ
kr©nein poiht†v·
If there was any one best critic of poets it was Plato, as Longinus also asserts. For
Heraclides Ponticus at any rate says that although the works of Choerilus were
then esteemed, Plato preferred those of Antimachus, and he persuaded Heraclides
himself, when he was going to Colophon, to collect the man’s poems. Callimachus
and Duris chatter foolishly when they claim that Plato was not competent to judge
poets. (c)
At issue clearly were questions of aesthetic judgment and poetic preference,
and the last sentence indicates that Callimachus expressed these opinions
in something other than his poetry, and that his critique was important
enough to register with Proclus. Proclus’ source for his information has
usually been taken to be Against Praxiphanes. Callimachus might well have
included judgments about Plato in what was presumably an anti-Peripatetic
tract, but it is equally possible that he was critical of both Peripatetic and
Academic ideas about poetry, and in more than one place. Since his prose
work is now lost, we can only judge his views on any theoretical issue
from his poetry, and poets have different agenda than philosophers, which
they express imaginatively via a story or allusion or example. Hence they
necessarily lack the tidiness of an Aristotelian argument.
Nonetheless, Proclus’ remark and Against Praxiphanes adumbrate an
agonistic stance that may be found also in Callimachus’ poetry where
disputes about poetry writing are of some importance in his intellectual
self-representation. But why should they occupy as much poetic space
as they do, and what exactly are they about? Undoubtedly there is an
element of captatio benevolentiae to these moments, as Markus Asper has
well articulated. But Callimachus did not invent the literary quarrel:
it is a topos that has a distinctive pedigree – Plato a century earlier in
Republic, book , made the assertion that there was “an ancient quarrel
between philosophy and poetry” (palai‡ m”n tiv diafor‡ filosof©
te kaª poihtik, b–), and certainly earlier figures like Xenophanes
did criticize contemporary poets. But, in fact, the idea of a quarrel may
be related to the cultural circumstance of competitive performance that
 Callimachus’ opinion of Antimachus’ Lyde was expressed in an epigram fragment (fr.  Pf.: LÅdh
kaª pacÆ gr†mma kaª oÉ tor»n [“the Lyde, both a stout poem and not lucid”]). For the critical
terms, see Krevans : –. Krevans also points out that, despite the critical tone, the two poets
shared many features of narrative and diction (–).
 : –.
 DK B , B .–. Ford : – would distinguish this earlier criticism as social in function
in contrast to later, formal criticism.

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 Literary quarrels
dominated civic and religious festivals from at least the sixth century bc,
and competitive display was clearly attached to the teaching practice of the
Sophists. In addition, the generation of philosophers that followed the
establishment of the first philosophical schools was so riven with strife that
new schools quickly proliferated, so “quarrel” may have been a natural way
of positioning philosophical thought against whatever was considered to
be the dominant paradigm. Plato’s “quarrel” with poetry centered on the
relationship of poetry to moral and ethical questions, while Callimachus’
quarrels (at least as they have been understood) are restricted to disputes
over form and the technical production of poetry, though it is by no means
certain that these two positions were ever completely separable.
Andrew Ford’s recent study of the origins of criticism provides a useful
historicizing framework for this discussion: he finds that in the Archaic
and early Classical periods criticism remained embedded within the social
practice of performance, but during the fifth century the growth of prose,
changing views of language, and the concomitant growth of a literary
culture led to what in the fourth century, primarily as the result of Aris-
totle, became a fully “formal” criticism in which the poem took on an
autonomous artistic value. In the Archaic period poets could invoke
divine inspiration as authority for their performance and as a guarantee
of the truth of poetic utterance. Poets were speakers of wisdom (sof©a)
and many of the figures later appropriated for philosophy wrote in verse.
When criticism was directed against poets it was for failing in this respect,
that is, failing in their moral and ethical obligations to their community.
But during the fifth century the poet’s relationship to society began to
change; as prose writers challenged the truth-value of poetry and created
new venues for expression, poetry shifted from a product of inspiration or
of divine possession to that of craftsmanship or technê. The term technê
seems to have ranged in meaning from simple skill to the complete intellec-
tual mastery of a subject (as Socrates uses the term in the Ion). Whether
poets were independent of or complicit in the process, the gradual removal
of poetry from the realm of the possessed speaker and the treatment of it as
 E.g., the Sophist Alcidamas is credited with the Contest of Homer and Hesiod.
 Ford . From Ford’s perspective this led to modern literary criticism, but the heuristic value of
his scheme for understanding Callimachus’ historical position in the evolving social role of the poet
does not depend on accepting his conclusion.
 Maslov :  observes that “if an unmarked term for ‘poet’ exists in Pindar, it is sof»v.”
 Finkelberg : –; Ford : –. We normally transliterate t”cnh rather than privilege any
one translation.
 P. Murray : –; Ford : –. For a Callimachean context, see Andrews : , who also
cites Aristotle’s definition of true technê as “knowledge of the universal” and the ability to account
for causes of things (Met. b–).

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Suicide by the book 
a craft meant that it became – at least theoretically – teachable and capable
of being explained by rules, rules that Plato, but more systematically Aris-
totle and the members of his School, sought to articulate and then deploy
as critique. The transition from inspiration to craft was accompanied by a
shift from the terms “singer” (ˆoid»v) and “to sing” (ˆe©dein) to the terms
“maker” (poihtžv) and “to make” (poie±n) to describe the poet/performer
and the creative act. By Callimachus’ time philosophers/critics had been
writing for a generation on the character and training of the poet (poi-
htžv) and the technical aspects of composition (po©hsiv): language and
word arrangement, genre, and sound. The origins of this dislocation of
the poet from the poem are disputed, but Peripatetic writings attributed
to Aristotle and his successors, Theophrastus, Heraclides Ponticus, and
Praxiphanes are all complicit in the process. These last three are credited
with works On poets and poetry, though none has been transmitted intact.
If precise mapping of debates about poetry in the early Hellenistic period
is not possible, general trends are clear enough: () they trace their begin-
nings to a poetic theory that separated the poet (poihtžv) from his creation
(po©hsiv), which in turn permitted the poem an aesthetic existence apart
from its moment of performance. Various philosophical theories about
how language (l”xiv) worked, at the level of etymology (–tumolog©a),
syntax (sÅntaxiv), sound (fwnž), and even letter (stoice±on) led to the
scrutiny of the poem at every level of its technical organization. Each ele-
ment then was subject to rules that could be elaborated, usually in terms
of t¼ pr”pon, or what was appropriate for a genre, character, effect, or
thought (di†noia). () All theories try to describe the aesthetic impact of
poetry and how it is achieved. () All sketch some relationship between
pleasure and ethical or moral principles, and this usually is figured as utility.
Theories may be reduced to three possibilities: poetry must be in service of
some higher purpose (so Plato), poetry must “teach and delight” (so Horace
in the Ars poetica), or poetry must provide pleasure, and ethical content is
irrelevant (so Crates of Mallos). () Mimesis is the mechanism that creates
and transmits pleasure and/or values, though not even Plato and Aristotle
were consistent in their formulation of what mimesis is and how it works.
Possibilities include the imitation of some idealized “reality” external to
this world (for example, Plato’s incorporeal Forms), a mirror held up to

 Ford : –; Maslov  argues that in the Archaic and Classical periods, apart from epic
poets, the term ˆoid»v was restricted to performers, not composers of poems.
 Janko : –.
 But in Philodemus it seems that the exact relationship of poet to poem continues to be a matter of
contention, see Asmis c: –.

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 Literary quarrels
life, the poem creating its own reality, or what S. Halliwell calls “behavioral
emulation”, that is, the imitation of others. This last model “also gave rise to
the idea of artistic emulation of predecessors or rivals.” Concrete evidence
for specific details of these ideas before or contemporary with Callimachus,
apart from the legacy of Aristotle and Plato, is sketchy at best, and Plato’s
own views are inconsistent over the course of the dialogues. A papyrus
treatise from the mid-third century bc found in Hibeh would appear to
set out poetic diction so that poets know what to use and avoid and so
that the individual has criteria by which to judge poetry. The editor, E. G.
Turner, suggested that the author was Theophrastus or perhaps Heraclides
Ponticus because both were known to have written tracts on poetics.
Whoever the author, the papyrus provides evidence that by  bc texts on
what constituted correct writing and what constituted formal criteria for
criticism were already circulating in Upper Egypt.
Heraclides Ponticus, whom Proclus mentioned as Plato’s agent for col-
lecting Antimachus’ works, was discussed by Diogenes Laertius immedi-
ately following Strato and Demetrius. Closely connected to the Academy,
he is said to have studied also with Speusippus, the Pythagoreans, and
finally Aristotle. The philological works attributed to him include On
poetry and poets, On Archilochus and Homer, On music, and On the three
tragic poets. Some of his views on poets and poetry may be extracted from
Philodemus, a philosopher of the late Republican period, whose writings
have been recovered from Herculaneum and whose value lay in his sys-
tematic critique of views held by his predecessors. In his lengthy work
On poetry, columns . to at least ., Philodemus says that Heraclides
advocated that a poet both please and be useful, although Philodemus later
found much to criticize in Heraclides’ articulation. Heraclides thought the
poet should possess knowledge and “burdened the poet” with the require-
ment that he have accurate knowledge of dialects (.–), though against
this Philodemus comments that it is enough if the dialect is “sufficient
for what the poet chooses to write.” If Heraclides is the subject in .,

 Halliwell : . This type of emulation is particularly important in Longinus.

 See the useful essays in Moravcsik and Tempo . For a shorter but trenchant assessment see
P. Murray : –. For Hellenistic literary theory see Gutzwiller  and, with respect to
Callimachus in particular, Romano .
 PHib. ., p. .  See the assessment of Mejer : –.
 PHib. ., which is assigned on the basis of context and hand to – bc, contains a comparison
of Archilochus and Homer. There is no way of knowing the relationship of this text to Heraclides’
effort, but it does indicate that contemporary texts that discussed iambographers were available in
early Ptolemaic Egypt. On the papyrus sources of Heraclides, see Dorandi .
 D.L. . and see the collected fragments in Wehrli.

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Suicide by the book 
then he also argues that the poet needs vividness (–n†rgeia) and conci-
sion (suntom©a). These positions bear some resemblance to statements
found in Callimachus, though given the gaps in the evidence we ought
not to assume that Callimachus is dependent on Heraclides, only that
similarities in the two reflect contemporary discourse. From the fragments
listed in Wehrli we learn that Heraclides located the origins of poetry with
Amphion, the son of Zeus, that is, he attributed a divine origin to it, and
that he thought the phrase «Ÿ pai†n, «Ÿ pai†n, «Ÿ pai†n could be scanned
alternately as a hexameter and as a choliambic (a meter he attributes to
Hipponax). His writing on music makes it clear that he saw poetry and
music as inextricably bound and that musical modes should be suited to
character and genre.
Philodemus provides further insights into early Hellenistic thinking
about poetics in his comments on Neoptolemus of Parium, Crates of Mal-
los, and Pausimachus of Miletus. Neoptolemus was a Peripatetic whose
chief claim to fame was a threefold division of poetry: po©hma (line-
by-line stylistic analysis), po©hsiv (subject and form), and poihtžv (the
education of the poet). Crates was a Stoic and a Euphonist associated
with the Pergamene library. He came to Rome in / bc (Suetonius,
De gramm. ). The main lines of his theory of poetry were that the aim
of poetry was pleasure (not to express truths); content, genre, or word-
choice was not important; the central component of poetry was sound,
which could be broken down to the level of letter and syllable; good poets
intuitively knew how to choose efficacious sounds to please the many; and
there was a “natural” relationship between sound and meaning. Pausi-
machus was another Euphonist who believed that poets composing under
the influence of inspiration rather than art would inevitably produce nat-
urally good sounds. These men, who belonged to the end of the third
and middle of the second century bc, allow a glimpse of the critical terrain
in the generations immediately after Callimachus. They were sometimes
identified as philosophers, but the term they often applied to themselves –
kritiko© – is closer to the mark, since they were not primarily engaged

 Mangoni . These passages are translated by D. Armstong in Obbink : –.
 Fr.  Wehrli = Plutarch, De musica  and see Barker : –.
 Fr.  Wehrli = Ath. e.
 Fr.  Philodemus, On Music. See Janko : –. See Barker  for the historical context of
Heraclides’ views of music.
 See Asmis c: –. On his importance for Horace’s Ars poetica see Brink .
 See Asmis a: ; Janko : –; J. Porter’s very helpful BMCR review of M. Broggiato,
Cratete di Mallo (..) and Porter .
 See Janko : –.

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 Literary quarrels
with wider philosophical questions, nor with the ethical or moral implica-
tions of poetry, but in establishing formal criteria for judgments about its
quality. Their arguments cannot now be attached to any particular school,
though they do show affinities with various theories of language in vogue.
E. Asmis, for example, claims that the ideas particularly of Neoptolemus
and Crates were an eclectic mix that derived ultimately from Plato (espe-
cially his Cratylus), and incorporated elements of Stoicism. There is no
doubt that Callimachus’ own poetic practice and critical observations con-
form in some cases to ideas expressed by these later theorists – his emphasis
on the pleasures of sound, for example, clearly aligns him with Crates and
Pausimachus, who articulated a position that sound alone was the crite-
rion for good poetry (the ear not the intellect should be the judge), and
may have ultimately derived from the philosophical positions of the Cyre-
naic hedonists; and his etymologies coincide in several cases with Plato.
It is a fair assumption, therefore, that already by the third century ideas
similar to those of later kritiko© were well established in the Alexandrian
Museum. Presumably the fil»sofoi whom, according to Athenaeus, the
Skeptic poet/philosopher Timon of Phlius satirized in the Silloi were those
engaged in these critical disputes. No doubt they should also be identi-
fied with the kritiko©, whether fil»logoi or fil»sofoi, whom Hipponax
chastises in the first Iambus.
Because almost all of Callimachus’ prose has disappeared, it is impos-
sible to know to what extent he engaged in writing treatises like those
we have been discussing (apart from Against Praxiphanes). Certainly, the
taxonomic implications of formal criticism would have been significant
for his Pinakes, but to what extent his compositional principles overlapped
with contemporaries is now moot. Callimachus made his greatest impact
as a poet both upon his contemporaries and on subsequent generations
of Greek and Roman poets, and it is the relevance of critical ideas to his
own poetic practice that is of interest here, not a linear reconstruction of
this or that theory. Within Callimachus’ poetry critics and criticism are
clustered in specific contexts and, rather surprisingly, Plato can often be
recognized within these same poetic environments, sometimes for a the-
oretical perspective but more often for a particularly memorable image,
narrative sequence, or verbal alignment. This suggests that Callimachus

 Asmis c. For Hellenistic theories of language see Schenkeveld and Barnes  and for the
Stoics, see Long : –.
 His etymologies in the Hymn to Zeus have parallels in the Cratylus (a–c, b), while that of «Ÿ
pai†n resembles what is found in Clearchus of Soli (fr.  Wehrli = Ath. b).
 “Many bookish scribblers graze in populous Egypt quarreling forever in a basket of the Muses”: SH
fr.  = F  Di Marco.

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
was not interested in staking a claim to any single critical model, but in
situating his own poetry within the kind of social and political discourse
that Plato had attempted to close off to poets. For his purpose Plato and
his writings about poetry would have been a useful foil, and Plato’s pen-
chant for illustrative stories (mÓqoi) makes the distance between the two
by no means as great as it was between Aristotle and Callimachus, for
example. Moreover, Plato and Callimachus seem to share an extensive
interest in the relationship of different modes of intellectual exchange:
performance versus reading a fixed text, the relationship of inspiration
and systematic knowledge to poetic practice, the intersection of poetry
and prose, and the status of the poet vis-à-vis other types of intellectual

plato in the aetia prologue

Poll†ki moi Telc±nev –pitrÅzousin ˆoid,
nž·dev o° MoÅshv oÉk –g”nonto f©loi,
e¯neken oÉc šn Šeisma dihnek•v £ basil[h
. . . . . . ]av –n polla±v ¢nusa cili†sin
£ . . . . .].ouv ¤rwav, ›pov d’ –pª tutq¼n ›l[exa 
pa±v Œte, tän d’ –t”wn ¡ dek‡v oÉk ½l©gh.
. . . . . . ].[.]kai Te[l]c±sin –gÜ t»de· ‘fÓlon a[
. . . . . . .] tžk[ein] ¨par –pist†menon,
. . . . . . ].. rehn. [½l]ig»sticov· ˆll‡ kaq”lkei
. . . . polÆ tŸn makrŸn Àmpnia Qesmof»ro[v· 
to±n d•] duo±n M©mnermov Âti glukÅv, a[
. . . . . . ] ¡ meg†lh d’ oÉk –d©daxe gunž.
. . . ..]on –pª Qrž·kav ˆp’ A«gÅptoio [p”toito
a¯mat]i. Pugma©wn ¡dom. ”. nh [g]”ra[nov,
Massag. ”. t. ai kaª makr¼n. ½·steÅoien –p’ Šndra 
Mdon]· ˆ[hdon©dev] d’ æde melicr[»]terai.
›llete Baskan©hv ½lo¼n g”nov· aÔqi d• t”cn
kr©nete,] mŸ sco©n Pers©di tŸn sof©hn·
mhd’ ˆp’ –meÓ difte m”ga yof”ousan ˆoidžn
t©ktesqai· brontn oÉk –m»n, ˆll‡ Di»v.’ 
kaª g‡r Âte prÛtiston –mo±v –pª d”lton ›qhka
goÅnasin, %[p»]llwn e²pen  moi LÅkiov·
ë . . . . . . .] . . . ˆoid”, t¼ m•n qÅov Âtti p†ciston
qr”yai, tŸ]n. MoÓsan d’ Ýgaq• leptal”hn·
pr¼v d” se] kaª t»d’ Šnwga, t‡ mŸ pat”ousin Œmaxai 
t‡ ste©bein, —t”rwn ­cnia mŸ kaq’ ¾m†
d©fron –l]. n mhd’ o³mon ˆn‡ platÅn, ˆll‡ keleÅqouv
ˆtr©pto]u. v, e« kaª steinot”rhn –l†seiv.ì

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 Literary quarrels
t piq»mh]n· –nª to±v g‡r ˆe©domen o° ligÆn §con
t”ttigov, q]»rubon d’ oÉk –f©lhsan Ànwn. 
qhrª m•n oÉat»enti pane©kelon ½gkžsaito
Šllov, –g]Ü d’ e­hn oËl. [a]cÅv, ¾ pter»eiv,
 p†ntwv, ¯na grav ¯na dr»son ¥n m•n ˆe©dw
prÛkion –k d©hv  ”rov e²dar ›dwn,
aÔqi t¼. d. ’ –kdÅoimi, t» moi b†rov Âsson ›pesti 
triglÛcin. ½lo nsov –p’ ìEgkel†d.
. . . . . . . MoÓsai g‡r Âsouv ­don Àqmati pa±dav
mŸ lox, polioÆv oÉk ˆp”qento f©louv.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .]se. [..] pter¼n oÉk”ti kine±n
. . . . . . . . . . . . .]h. t[]mov –nerg»tatov. 

Often the Telchines croak at my song, fools, who are not friends of the
Muse, because I did not complete one continuous poem either on kings?
[ . . . or . . . ] heroes in many thousands of lines, but I [told] my tale bit by bit
like a child, though the decades of my years are not few. [ . . . ] to the Telchines
I [say] this: “tribe [ . . . ] that knows how to waste your liver [ . . . ] was of few
lines. But bountiful Demeter drags down by far the long [lady?], and of the two
the [ . . . ] taught that Mimnermus is sweet, not the large lady . . . [ . . . ] may the
crane rejoicing in the blood of Pygmies [fly . . . ] to Thrace from Egypt, and may
the Massagetae shoot at their man, [the Mede], from afar. Thus are [nightingales]
sweeter. Begone, baneful race of Envy. And in turn [judge] poetry by its technê,
not by the Persian rope. Do not ask me to produce a loud-sounding song: to
thunder is not mine, but Zeus’s.” For, when for the very first time, I placed my
tablet on my knees, Lycian Apollo said to me: “[ . . . ] singer, [raise] your sacrificial
victim to be as fat as possible, but your Muse, my friend, to be slender. [And I
bid you] this also: go there where wagons do not trundle; [drive your chariot]
not along the same tracks as others; nor along the broad path, but the [unworn]
ways, even though you will drive along a narrower course.” [I obeyed him.] For
we sing among those who love the clear sound of the cicada, not the din of asses.
Let another bray just like the long-eared [beast]; may I be the small, the winged
one, ah truly, that I may sing feeding upon the moisture, the morning dew from
the divine air, and that in turn I may shed old age, which is a weight upon me as
great as the tricorn island upon destructive Enceladus. [ . . . ] as many as the Muses
look upon with favorable eye when they are children, these friends they do not lay
aside when they are gray. [ . . . ] no longer to move its wing [ . . . ] then the most
vigorous . . . . (fr. .– Pf. with additions)
This opening of Callimachus’ most important poem, the Aetia, is his most
famous and most frequently quoted excursus on poetic practice. Within

 For poll†ki see Pontani . Although the text is restored, the scholium (Marc. gr.  to Od. .)
reads: mžteri m•n Þv poll†kiv Telc±nev, which confirms E. Lobel’s original conjecture poll†k]i.
For the restoration of line , see Acosta-Hughes and Stephens .

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
these lines he incorporates names and allusions to at least ten different
literary predecessors: Aristotle’s notion of poetic unity (); the weighing of
poetry from Aristophanes’ Frogs (–); Philitas’ poem on Demeter ();
Mimnermus (); the battle of pygmies and cranes from the opening of
Iliad, book  (–); the battle of the Medes and Massagetae is most
probably from Choerilus’ epic (–); Hesiod’s encounter with the Muses
(–); the wagon and the narrow path from Pindar (–); Aesop’s fable
of the ass and the cicada (–); the weight of old age like Mt. Etna on
Enceladus from Euripides’ Heracles Furens (–); Tithonus from Sappho
and the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite (–). We have argued elsewhere that
Callimachus has chosen intertexts that carry implicit or explict statements
about poetic values, and that these intertexts are rereadings or at times
deliberate misreadings of his poetic predecessors as part of Callimachus’
self-definition as a poet. An intertext that we did not discuss may be the
most important – Plato’s Phaedo. Early in the Phaedo, Socrates begins to
relate his own urge to engage in poetic activity. This theme is not pursued
in the subsequent dialogue, but its position at the opening of the work,
and the specific elements involved, find several points of correspondence
with Callimachus’ Aetia Prologue. Moreover, Cleombrotus was mentioned
in the passage only a few lines earlier (c–) than the passage set out here
in some detail:
ëO oÔn K”bhv ËpolabÛn, NŸ t¼n D©a, å SÛkratev, ›fh, eÔ g’ –po©hsav ˆnam-
nžsav me. perª g†r toi tän poihm†twn æn pepo©hkav –nte©nav toÆv toÓ
A«sÛpou l»gouv kaª t¼ e«v t¼n %p»llw proo©mion kaª Šlloi tin”v me ¢dh
¢ronto, ˆt‡r kaª EÎhnov pr hn, Âti pot• dianohqe©v, –peidŸ deÓro §lqev,
–po©hsav aÉt†, pr»teron oÉd•n pÛpote poižsav. e« oÔn t© soi m”lei toÓ ›cein
–m• Eɞn ˆpokr©nasqai Âtan me aÔqiv –rwt
– eÔ o²da g‡r Âti –ržsetai –
e«p• t© crŸ l”gein.
L”ge to©nun, ›fh, aÉt, å K”bhv, tˆlhq, Âti oÉk –ke©n boul»menov oÉd•
to±v poižmasin aÉtoÓ ˆnt©tecnov e²nai –po©hsa taÓta – ¢‚dh g‡r Þv oÉ
ç dion e­h – ˆll’ –nupn©wn tinän ˆpopeirÛmenov t© l”goi, kaª ˆfosioÅ-
menov e« Šra poll†kiv taÅthn tŸn mousikžn moi –pit†ttoi poie±n. §n g‡r
dŸ Štta toi†de· poll†kiv moi foitän t¼ aÉt¼ –nÅpnion –n t parelq»nti
b©, Šllot’ –n Šll Àyei fain»menon, t‡ aÉt‡ d• l”gon, “ ö W SÛkratev,”
›fh, “mousikŸn po©ei kaª –rg†zou.” kaª –gÜ ›n ge t pr»sqen cr»n Âper
›pratton toÓto Ëpel†mbanon aÉt» moi parakeleÅesqa© te kaª –pikeleÅein,
ãsper o¬ to±v q”ousi diakeleu»menoi, kaª –moª oÌtw t¼ –nÅpnion Âper ›prat-
ton toÓto –pikeleÅein, mousikŸn poie±n, Þv filosof©av m•n oÎshv meg©sthv
mousikv, –moÓ d• toÓto pr†ttontov. nÓn d’ –peidŸ ¤ te d©kh –g”neto kaª ¡

 For Sappho, see Acosta-Hughes : –.  : –.

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 Literary quarrels
toÓ qeoÓ —ortŸ diekÛlu” me ˆpoqn skein, ›doxe crnai, e« Šra poll†kiv moi
prost†ttoi t¼ –nÅpnion taÅthn tŸn dhmÛdh mousikŸn poie±n, mŸ ˆpeiqsai
aÉt ˆll‡ poie±n· ˆsfal”steron g‡r e²nai mŸ ˆpi”nai prªn ˆfosiÛsasqai
poižsanta poižmata [kaª] piq»menon t –nupn©. oÌtw dŸ präton m•n e«v
t¼n qe¼n –po©hsa oÕ §n ¡ paroÓsa qus©a· met‡ d• t¼n qe»n, –nnožsav Âti
t¼n poihtŸn d”oi, e­per m”lloi poihtŸv e²nai, poie±n mÅqouv ˆll’ oÉ l»gouv,
kaª aÉt¼v oÉk § muqologik»v, di‡ taÓta dŸ oÍv proce©rouv e²con mÅqouv kaª
 pist†mhn toÆv A«sÛpou, toÅtwn –po©hsa o³v prÛtoiv –n”tucon.
In reply Cebes said, “By Zeus, Socrates, you’ve done well in reminding me. About
the poems you have composed, setting Aesop’s tales to verse and the prooimion
to Apollo, others had already asked me, and Evenus just recently, what you had
in mind, since you came here, in composing these, since earlier you had never
composed anything. If you’d like me to have something to say in answer to Evenus,
whenever he asks me again – for I am well aware that he will ask – tell me what I
should say.”
“In that case tell him the truth, Cebes,” Socrates said, “that it was from no wish
to rival him or his poetry in technê that I undertook this – for I knew that it
would not be easy – but rather I was trying out the meaning of certain dreams,
and avoiding the sin of negligence towards its message, if in actuality it often bade
me compose this sort of music. For this is what happened: the same dream that
often came to me in my past life, appearing now in one form, now in another, but
always saying the same thing: ‘“Socrates,” it said, “make music and cultivate it.”
Now at first I understood it to bid and encourage me to do what I was doing, that
just like those who encourage runners so too the dream was bidding me do what
I was doing, to make music, understanding that philosophy was the best music, and
that this was what I was doing. But now, since the trial occurred, and since the
god’s festival hindered my death, I thought it right, if in fact the dream was often
enjoining me to make what is conventionally understood as music, not to disobey
it but compose poetry, since it was safer not to die before fulfilling my sacred
obligation, by composing poems in obedience to the dream. So first I composed
one to the god whose festival it was. And after the god, realizing that a poet, if
he wants to be a poet, must compose stories and not arguments, and since I’m
not myself adept at story-telling, I therefore took up the stories I had to hand and
knew, those of Aesop, and made poems of the first I chanced on.” (c–b)

Socrates explains how in his old age he had dream visions, how he decided
to obey the injunctions from the god to write poetry, first by hymning
Apollo, and then by writing poems on subjects taken from Aesop. Even
though his very act of writing poetry arouses the suspicion that he wishes
to compete with a contemporary poet (Evenus), he makes it explicit that
he embarks on this act of poetic composition not to engage in rivalry, but
in obedience to the god. Parallels with the opening of the Aetia are striking.
As the poem opens, Callimachus the narrator is an old man reflecting back

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
on his life (). He recounts how he first wrote poetry not as an act of poetic
aemulatio with the Telchines (whatever quarrel they choose to pick with
him), but in obedience to Apollo, who appeared to him when he first took
up his writing tablets and lectured him on how to write poetry (–). He
then renders Aesop into verse in his comparison of the donkey and the
cicada (–). Both men had supernatural injunctions to write poetry, but
Callimachus’ occurred when he was a young man, and he promptly obeyed.
Only at the end of his life does Socrates begin to write poetry and, at the
point of his death, he expresses his hopes for the soul’s immortality, while
Callimachus, already a successful poet, also wishes for his soul to pass into
immortality. Two potential verbal parallels would further strengthen the tie
between the two passages. Socrates comes to think it best to compose poetry
“in obedience” (b–: peiq»menon) to the dream injunction from Apollo:
Callimachus, too, acts in obedience to Apollo’s injunction, assuming that
: [t piq»mh]n (restored for other reasons) is correct. Further, in the
passage that details Socrates’ dream poll†kiv occurs three times in twelve
lines, making it the most repeated word other than the signal mousikž.
While poll†kiv is a very frequent term in Plato, this clustered repetition
is unusual. This same rather pedestrian word (poll†ki) is the first word
of the Aetia.
Particularly significant for understanding Callimachus’ engagement with
the figure of Socrates is Plato’s appropriation of the term mousikž for phi-
losophy, and the hierarchy implicit in identifying poetry – what Socrates’
contemporaries would regard as mousikž – as a mere commonplace. In the
Phaedo Plato constructs mousikž with a broad–narrow or public–private
aspect, much like Callimachus’ oppositions at the opening of the Aetia.
Yet in this passage Plato also effects an equivalence of the two that makes
the appropriation of each into the other the more understandable, and
perhaps inevitable. Socrates needs to be able to write poetry for his claim
about the superior status of philosophy to be viable, and Callimachus’ early
demonstration of his ability to write poetry allows him at the end of his
life to imagine his own impending immortality. Socrates’ choice of Aesop
as a source for his poetic mÓqov is appropriate because the fables are ethical
in content: the homely animal figures are similar to the analogies from
everyday life that Socrates likes to employ, and they are similar to the mÓqoi
found elsewhere in dialogues. However, the image of Socrates at the end
of his life celebrating Delian Apollo or Aesop in song does open the door
to an ongoing question – if philosophers too need to write poetry, how
can philosophical discourse alone be the proper language/activity of the

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 Literary quarrels
A little later in the Phaedo (e–b), Socrates tells his disciples that
he thinks himself akin to the swans, Apollo’s birds, who, because they are
mantic, know when death is approaching. At that moment they sing most
beautifully because they are about to join their divine master.
. . . o° –peid‡n a­sqwntai Âti de± aÉtoÆv ˆpoqane±n, dontev kaª –n t pr»sqen
cr»n, t»te dŸ ple±sta kaª k†llista dousi, geghq»tev Âti m”llousi par‡
t¼n qe¼n ˆpi”nai oÕp”r e«si qer†pontev . . . ˆll’ oÎte taÓt† moi fa©netai
lupoÅmena dein oÎte o¬ kÅknoi, ˆll’ Œte o²mai toÓ %p»llwnov Àntev, mantiko©
t” e«si kaª proeid»tev t‡ –n +idou ˆgaq‡ dousi kaª t”rpontai –ke©nhn tŸn
¡m”ran diafer»ntwv £ –n t ›mprosqen cr»n.
[Swans] who, when they perceive that they must die, although singing before, then
they sing at length and most beautifully, rejoicing that they are about to go to the
god whose servants they are . . . (e–a) . . . But I do not think these [sc. other
birds] sing in grief, nor the swans, but because they [sc. the swans] are Apollo’s birds
they are mantic, and with foreknowledge of the good things in Hades they sing
and take pleasure especially on that day more than in the time before. (a–b)
At the end of the Aetia Prologue, Callimachus, who is now an old man,
imagines his impending death, and immortality. First he likens himself to
the cicada who feeds on dew. A few lines later, in a now broken section
at the end of the Prologue (] pter¼n oÉk”ti kine±n | . . . . . . . . . . . . .]h.
t[]mov –nerg»tatov, –), he appears to employ the image of the swan
at the very moment of death, when the bird can no longer move its wing,
but is thereupon at its most energetic or vigorous. The cicada and the
swan enclose the poet’s lament for his old age and effectively collapse two
very famous Platonic moments that liken the transition from mortality to
afterlife to specific animal behaviors. The swans are vatic, they are mantiko©
of Apollo; the cicadas on the other hand (according to Plato) have a very
particular relationship with the Muses.
In the Phaedrus Socrates offers a mÓqov, an account of the cicada that
follows a discussion of the immortality of the soul (e–d). At
this point in the dialogue Socrates has set out a hierarchy of souls as
they undergo reincarnation (d–e), claiming mousikž for the life of the
philosopher: the soul that has seen the most [shall enter] into the birth of
a man who will be a philosopher or lover of beauty or of a musical and
loving nature (d–). Whereas a poet or other imitative artist is reduced
to the sixth category of merit (e–), a disjunction that becomes the
 Scholars have argued that this passage refers not to the cicada, but to the dying swan, because of a
well-known intertext, Heracles Furens, in which the chorus imagines old age as the weight of Mt.
Etna (–) and then wishes to sing like the dying swan (–). Callimachus uses the image of
the dying swan also in Iambus , fr. .– Pf.

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
more significant in the account of the cicadas and the “music” of the oldest
Muses, Calliope and Urania:
l”getai d’ ãv pot’ §san oÕtoi Šnqrwpoi tän prªn MoÅsav gegon”nai,
genom”nwn d• Mousän kaª fane©shv dv oÌtwv Šra tin•v tän t»te –xe-
pl†ghsan Ëf’ ¡donv, ãste dontev  m”lhsan s©twn te kaª potän, kaª
›laqon teleutžsantev aËtoÅv· –x æn t¼ tett©gwn g”nov met’ –ke±no fÅetai,
g”rav toÓto par‡ Mousän lab»n, mhd•n trofv de±sqai gen»menon, ˆll’
Šsit»n te kaª Špoton eÉqÆv dein, ™wv ‹n teleutžs, kaª met‡ taÓta –lq¼n
par‡ MoÅsav ˆpagg”llein t©v t©na aÉtän tim
tän –nq†de. Teryic»r m•n
oÔn toÆv –n to±v coro±v tetimhk»tav aÉtŸn ˆpagg”llontev poioÓsi pros-
filest”rouv, t d• ìErato± toÆv –n to±v –rwtiko±v, kaª ta±v Šllaiv oÌtwv,
kat‡ t¼ e²dov —k†sthv timv· t d• presbut†t Kalli»p kaª t met’ aÉtŸn
OÉran© toÆv –n filosof© di†gont†v te kaª timäntav tŸn –ke©nwn mousikŸn
ˆgg”llousin, a° dŸ m†lista tän Mousän per© te oÉran¼n kaª l»gouv oÔsai
qe©ouv te kaª ˆnqrwp©nouv ¬sin kall©sthn fwnžn. pollän dŸ oÔn ™neka
lekt”on ti kaª oÉ kaqeudht”on –n t meshmbr©.
It’s said that they [sc. the cicadas] were once men before the Muses were born, and
at the Muses’ birth and the appearance of song certain men who were alive then
were so struck by pleasure, that they sang with no thought for eating or drinking,
and not realizing it they put an end to themselves. From them the race of cicadas
was later born, obtaining this honor from the Muses: at birth to have no need of
nourishment, but straightway sing without need of food or drink, until they die.
And on their death they go to the Muses, reporting who of men now honors which
of them. To Terpsichore, therefore, reporting about those who honor her in dance,
they make them the more beloved to her, and to Erato those who honor her with
erotics, and the rest in the same way, according to the kind of activity over which
each presides. To the eldest, Calliope, and to her who comes after her, Urania,
they report those who spend their time in philosophy and honor their particular
music, and these Muses, because they are the ones most concerned with heaven
and speech, both human and divine, they utter in the most beautiful voice. And
so for many reasons we should talk, and not sleep, during midday. (b–d)
Again there are structural similarities with the Aetia Prologue just as with
the Phaedo. This passage in the Phaedrus narrates an aition on the origin
of the cicada, which by its very nature was a fitting appropriation for a
poem that consists of a series of aitia. Callimachus’ cicada is central to
the Prologue, acting as a lens that refracts previous literary iterations of the
image and serves as the metaphor for his poetic immortality. Callimachus’
cicada conforms to Plato’s tale in several ways: he claims to sing among
those who love its clear sound (–); he desires to shed old age and
become a cicada (–); and finally in his subsequent interactions with

 Acosta-Hughes and Stephens : –.

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 Literary quarrels
the Muses he functions not like the Hesiodic initiate but as someone
exchanging information with them. Plato’s description of the birth of the
Muses and their enchanted song is a re-working of Hesiod’s catalogue of
Muses at Th. –. As in Hesiod, so in Plato, Calliope is the pre-eminent
Muse. But unlike Hesiod, for Plato some men (those who evolve into
cicadas) are older than the Muses. The cicadas singing above Phaedrus
and Socrates are these older men, and thus are able to bestow on men of the
present day the gift they have themselves obtained from the Muses. They
are now intermediaries, proftai, of the Muses, and their relationship to
the Muses is intimate. The discourse is framed in terms of fil©a: it befits the
cultured, “Muse-loving” man (fil»mouson Šndra) to know the origin of
the cicadas and their particular gift; the cicadas, in turn, cause certain men
to be more beloved (prosfil”steroi) to certain Muses. Callimachus may
deliberately appropriate these terms in defining the Telchines as those who
are not friends of his Muse (fr. . Pf.: nžidev o° MoÅshv oÉk –g”nonto
f©loi). Later, his wish to sing among the cicadas is followed by the
observation that the Muses do not thrust aside their friends when they
become old (–). In the frame tale for at least the first book of the
Aetia, Callimachus exchanges information on various cult practices with
the Muses. The first Muse to speak seems to be Calliope (fr. .), who is
also the Muse whom Callimachus will call “our Calliope” in fr. . Should
fr. .: nžidev o° MoÅshv oÉk –g”nonto f©loi also be understood in light of
the Platonic aition? Callimachus insists on one Muse, not a plurality, and
that single Muse is likely to be the one whom Callimachus later claims for
his own – Calliope. If so, she is the Muse that Socrates identifies as the one
to whom the cicadas report about men who spend time in philosophical
pursuits, men who are most concerned with divine and human speech and
whose voices are the most beautiful. It seems possible that Callimachus is
following Socrates by associating himself with this pre-eminent Muse.
Socrates also equates the sheer beauty of the cicadas’ sound with that of
the Sirens, and warns Phaedrus not to succumb to the mindless pleasures
of hearing instead of continuing the dialogue that will yield a deeper
 Terpsichore precedes Erato; Plato also recalls Hesiod’s –rat¼n Àssan ¬e±sai (lines  and ) in
¬sin kall©sthn fwnžn. On Plato’s interest in Hesiod, see Boys-Stones and Haubold .
 Cf. Ferrari : .
 In Idyll . one of Theocritus’ characters calls Ptolemy fil»mousov. The Phaedrus is important
elsewhere in Theocritus, see, e.g., Fantuzzi and Hunter : – for details.
 On the structure of this verse see Massimilla : .
 Fr. .–: mÓqov –v ¡met”rhn ›drame Kalli»phn. “The tale ran to our Calliope” suggests the
process of reporting to the Muse outlined in Plato.
 Certainly Plato’s fil»mousov lends support to the proposed supplement at line : Š]mouson to
describe the Telchines; see Bing .

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
and more profound understanding than the song. There is no question
that Callimachus in the opening of the poem is especially attentive to
the beauty of sound: his own wish to sing among the cicadas attributes
to them the high, light, clear sound – ligÅv – that was most prized by
his contemporaries in human and instrumental performance. In contrast
he characterizes his opponents as having the unpleasant braying sounds
of an ass – ½gkžsaito – in a heavy spondaic ending. As the Platonic
dialogue progresses, the sounds of the cicadas recede into the background
to be replaced with talk. The section that links the opening vignette of
the Aetia Prologue, in which Callimachus expresses the desire to shed old
age and become a cicada, to the Dream (fr.  Pf.) is no longer extant,
though we know that he not only encounters the Muses on Helicon (in
explicit reminiscence of Hesiod) but he converses with them, or more
accurately reports to them what he has learned about cult practices (or
divine things). In his dream Callimachus thus acts out the role of a Socratic
cicada, providing the Muses with details about human behavior. A further
inference is possible. Richard Hunter has made the attractive suggestion
that the dream takes place at noon while listening to cicadas, like the
figures in Plato’s Phaedrus. In conversing with the Muses, Callimachus
could be reacting to Socrates’ injunction to engage in discourse, not to
succumb to the enchanting sounds and sleep at noon. In this way he
would have communicated both beautiful sounds and the values Socrates
associated with verbal exchange by representing himself in dialogue not
with a philosopher but the Muses themselves.
Plato’s appropriation of mousikž for philosophy, as Penelope Murray
has elegantly shown, had serious and far-reaching consequences. Poetry,
or what Plato’s contemporaries would have categorized as mousikž – and
modern scholars might describe as song-culture – was central to Greek
social, political, and religious life. As Plato makes his readers acutely aware,
children were educated into their proper roles as citizens through mousikž
 West : .
 For further details on the sound of the Prologue see Acosta-Hughes and Stephens : –. The
term q»rubov () may also evoke Socrates’ plea to his jurors in the Apology (a: mŸ qorube±te).
The Aetia is in many respects an apologia.
 Hunter : –.
 The Oxford commentary to this now lost part of the Aetia preserves tantalizing hints of further
Platonic overtones: the lemma ˆmn]ž. saite (fr. . M., fr. g Hdr.), is glossed as ˆnamn]žsait” m[e,
which is reminiscent of the Platonic theory of anamnesis, articulated in the Meno and elsewhere. A
little latter l”sch. v (fr. . M.), “conversation” or “place for conversation,” is glossed: [¾]mil©a[v]á
l. ”get. [ai | d. • kaª t»pov, –n  ˆqr. [oi|z»men. [oi dia]l”gont[ai, “of association. And it is also said
to be a place in which those gathered engage in dialogue.”
 Murray in Murray and Wilson : –.

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 Literary quarrels
via the stories of heroic behavior sung at festivals and other cultic occa-
sions. Although Plato’s views are not systematically articulated and often
appear to be ambivalent or contradictory, the role of poets and poetry in
moral education was a recurring subject in his dialogues. In the Phaedo and
Phaedrus, Plato elevates the philosopher’s practice of dialectic to the highest
form of mousikž at the same time that he deliberately demotes traditional
poets. In Republic, book , he claims there was an ancient quarrel between
philosophy and poetry. Plato’s evidence for this “quarrel” is the attack on
philosophy or philosophers found in Old Comedy. The generically limited
source of the attacks and Plato’s own quarrel with Aristophanes’ portrait
of Socrates in the Clouds has led many critics to understand the quarrel
as a Platonic fiction designed to undercut Comic caricatures of philoso-
phers on the one hand, and to enhance the status of the philosophy he
is trying to promote, on the other. In the fifth century poets enjoyed
a greater standing by far than philosophers. Poets (and Attic comedy is
an excellent example) were publicly engaged in a wide range of discourses
that were closed to philosophers, and which philosophers could only envy.
Therefore it should not be surprising that in constructing his ideal state
(however ironic the construction) Plato chooses to banish poets because of
their pervasive and harmful influence. At many other places throughout
the course of his writing, Plato seems to be testing poetic discourse against
philosophical (in the same way that he tests rhetorical and Sophistic argu-
ment), and always he finds poetry lacking in some essential way. In the Ion
poetic inspiration is found to be wanting in comparison with technê, or
the systematic understanding of a given subject. In the Protagoras poetry
is seen to occupy the same intellectual space as the earliest philosophers,
the Seven Sages, who speak in gnomic utterance but do not engage in
systematic argument. Since much pre-Socratic philosophy was in verse,
Plato’s demotion of poetry in this dialogue is not irrelevant to his attempt
to transform earlier philosophy into prose dialectic, as well as to elevate the
social status of philosophy. The Republic and The Laws contain a series of
reflections on mimesis and generic purity. In general, whenever Plato sets
poetry against the practice of philosophy, it is found wanting because it
panders to the irrational appetites and is incapable of truth as opposed to
The fullest exposition of the fundamental difference between philosophy
and poetry is to be found in Plato’s Ion. In this dialogue, which is generally

 Nightingale : –.  Nussbaum in Moravcsik and Temko : –.

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
taken to be quite early, Socrates encounters Ion, a professional rhapsode,
who is a native of Ephesus. Fresh from his victory at Epidaurus, he is now
in Athens because he intends to compete in the rhapsodic contests at the
Panathenaia. Socrates begins:
Kaª mŸn poll†kiv ge –zžlwsa Ëmv toÆv çaydoÅv, å ï Iwn, tv
t”cnhv· . . . Œma d• ˆnagka±on e²nai ›n te Šlloiv poihta±v diatr©bein pol-
lo±v kaª ˆgaqo±v kaª dŸ kaª m†lista –n ëOmžr, t ˆr©st kaª qeiot†t tän
poihtän, kaª tŸn toÅtou di†noian –kmanq†nein, mŸ m»non t‡ ›ph, zhlwt»n
–stin. oÉ g‡r ‹n g”noit» pote ˆgaq¼v çayd»v, e« mŸ sune©h t‡ leg»mena
Ëp¼ toÓ poihtoÓ. t¼n g‡r çayd¼n —rmhn”a de± toÓ poihtoÓ tv diano©av
g©gnesqai to±v ˆkoÅousi· toÓto d• kaläv poie±n mŸ gignÛskonta Âti l”gei ¾
poihtŸv ˆdÅnaton.
Moreover I have often envied you rhapsodes, Ion, for your technê . . . and at the
same time you are compelled to be in the company of many other good poets, but
especially Homer, the best and most divine of poets; to know thoroughly his mind,
not only his verses, is enviable. For no one would ever be a good rhapsode, if he
did not understand the things the poet says. The rhapsode must be an interpreter
of the mind of the poet to his hearers. But it is impossible to do this well without
understanding what the poet means. (b–c)
Socrates then sets out in his typical fashion to demonstrate to the Platonic
reader, if not to Ion, his poor interlocutor, that he does not literally know
(in a Platonic sense) what he is talking about. First Socrates asks Ion if he
is equally skilled in his understanding of Hesiod and other poets as well as
Homer (d–a). By no means, Ion asserts: he is a specialist in Homer.
Socrates then maneuvers him into admitting that if he can speak of Homer
only and not the other poets as well, he must do so without technê or true
knowledge. “If you were able to speak with technê, then you would be
capable of speaking about all other poets. For poetry is a whole” (c–
). The Socratic notion of technê sets a very high standard: it ostensibly
demands that the poet (and his imitators) have systematic and expert
knowledge of each constituent element of a poem – geography, generalship,
medicine – if travel or generals or doctors are at all mentioned. Next
Socrates adds an illustrative metaphor: poets and rhapsodes are successive
magnetic links on a chain, or successive stages of inspiration, between the
Muse and audience (Muse –> poet –> rhapsode –> audience). Socrates’
links of creativity locate the rhapsode in a subordinate position, dependent

 P. Murray : .

 We might wish to ask at this point to what extent is mousikž a whole? Is the person who operates
at the highest level capable of operating at other levels as well? Should the philosopher be able to
write poetry? Would the epigrams attributed to Plato have been read, in part, in this light?

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 Literary quarrels
on his (one) poet as the source of inspiration (–nqousiasm»v); he then
extends this argument by inference to poets as well. They too compose
(that is, access their knowledge) as a result of a kind of divine possession by
their one Muse. Plato articulates a poetics of systematically verifiable truth
that has little to do with actual poetic practice, because, as Stephen Halliwell
suggests, the unrealistically high criterion for poetic knowledge has as “its
subtext . . . an attack on the culturally widespread but unexamined, or
insufficiently substantiated claims for the authority and wisdom of the
Within this framework Socrates concedes that poets may have divine
inspiration but denies them the rational understanding and systematic
knowledge of truth that is the provenance of the philosopher. As we saw
with the disposition of mousikž in the Phaedo and Phaedrus, Socrates’
argument creates a divide between poetry and philosophy, and grants to
philosophy the superior position; it is the fundamental goal of the philoso-
pher to know universal truths; having done so, the philosopher is able to
critique poetry, but the poet or the rhapsode who is always at the whim of
his Muse (or his poet) cannot really know what he is doing. S.-M. Weineck
has argued that the real purpose of the Ion is to create the basis for systematic
criticism of poetry, which, by Callimachus’ time, was a feature of virtually
every philosophical school, so that how and what to write was no longer a
dialogue among performing poets (as, for example, Aristophanes critiquing
Euripides) or even a negotiation between patron and poet, but an often
acrimonious exchange, at least among those who generated its rules. Those
rules may have in fact had little to do with the actual practice of poetry
(as the relationship of the majority of Greek tragedies to Aristotle’s views
of best practices in the Poetics makes clear), but they were the inevitable
consequence of poetry becoming more broadly available as texts, and were
enormously influential for subsequent generations of kritiko©/scholars.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Callimachus as both scholar and poet
would stake out his own positions vis-à-vis his contemporaries (however
we choose to label them). But he seems to dismiss them in the aggregate
as Telchines (or kritiko©). A much more dangerous threat to the poet
was Plato, whose imagination and mimetic skills rivaled the best poets,
and whose powers of seduction were aimed at stripping the poets of their
long-held cultural authority.

 : .  Weineck : .

 It is difficult to believe that Callimachus, as the scholar who created the Pinakes, was not involved
in such debates.

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
In fact, in the Aetia Prologue Callimachus would appear to address the
question of –nqousiasm»v versus t”cnh in language that is remarkably
similar to Plato’s Ion. At first, he appeals to the Telchines to judge his
poetry by its t”cnh, not by a banausic skill or empty critical theory like
expectations about length. And he chooses the term sophia for poetry, that
is, ‘wisdom’ (to which we might compare Socrates’ di†noia), which aligns
him with poets of an earlier age. As the Prologue evolves, Callimachus
equally associates himself with the cicada – a central image of poetic
inspiration. In these memorable lines he imagines himself shedding his
human skin and becoming the disembodied voice of song in a disjointed
syntax surely meant to recreate his passing into an ecstatic state:
For we sing among those who love the clear sound of the cicada and not the din of
asses. Let another bray like the long-eared [beast], may I be the small, the winged
one, ah truly, that I may sing feeding upon the moisture, the morning dew from
the divine air, and that in turn I may shed old age. (fr. .– Pf.)
The injunction to judge poetry by technê was scarcely a novel idea even in
Plato, let alone for Callimachus in the early third century bc. Therefore,
what has for a generation been the scholarly consensus, namely, that Cal-
limachus asserts the priority of technê over inspiration, is in need of some
re-evaluation. Callimachus’ Prologue is not a banal affirmation of the value
of technê so much as a reclamation project that seeks to reestablish an older
relationship of technê and inspiration to sophia, or a poetry that seeks to
reclaim its former position in society. Callimachus’ technê is chiefly artic-
ulated in Lycian Apollo’s instructions. It could, of course, be coincidence
that Aristotle’s School was established at the Lyceum, an Athenian gym-
nasium that was dedicated to Apollo Lyceus. But if behind Callimachus’
“Lycian” Apollo lurks Aristotle’s Lyceum then perhaps the rules Apollo pro-
mulgates are not meant as seriously as they are usually taken to be. In fact
his rules are so vague that they evoke a wide stylistic variety of intertexts:
the narrow and untrodden path might refer to the Orphic or Pythagorean
way, the poet’s avoidance of Homeric themes in Pindar, but equally
the choice of the Stoic Heracles, or even Anniceris driving around the

 For the claim that the Prologue is in no small measure “philosophical satire” see Andrews .
Note especially her remarks on technê (–) and the philosopher’s soul (–).
 See Maslov .
 See Asper’s very helpful discussion of the religious implications of this metaphor, : –.
 See Asper : –, –.
 A version of the “choice of Heracles” is related in Xenophon’s Memorabilia (..), attributed to
the Sophist Prodicus. The figure of Vice, who appears to him, is characterized as teqramm”nhn m•n
e«v polusark©an, or “nurtured to the point of fleshiness”. Compare Apollo’s injunction: t¼ m•n

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 Literary quarrels
academy in his own rut. The rules, therefore, are not the whole story: the
poet must achieve and should be judged for what Callimachus calls by the
time-honored name of sophia. As the Prologue progresses he moves from
a technê that is more than rules (he does after all instruct the Telchines
not to measure poetry by the Persian rope). His Apollo addresses him as
an ˆoid»v (), and he identifies his preferred poetic act as ˆe©dein (,
), again a self-conscious reversion to a pre-Platonic or Aristotelian model
of song and, if B. Maslov is correct, a word that aligns Callimachus with
performance and epic poetry. Further, Callimachus’ claim to his inspired
state seems to conflate or overlay the cicada image of the Phaedrus with that
of the Ion, where inspiration is described as an out-of-body experience,
of becoming winged, in which Socrates is drawing a distinction between
the poetry of inspiration and that of technê:
koÓfon g‡r crma poihtžv –stin kaª pthn¼n kaª ¬er»n, kaª oÉ pr»teron o³»v
te poie±n prªn ‹n ›nqe»v te g”nhtai kaª ›kfrwn kaª ¾ noÓv mhk”ti –n aÉt –n·
The poet is a light thing, both winged and holy, and he cannot compose poetry
before becoming inspired (›nqeov) and out of his mind (›kfrwn), no longer in
possession of his wits. (b–)
Another intertext within the Prologue points in this same direction: Aristo-
phanes’ Frogs. Callimachus designates the poet’s art as sophia (line ).
This word has a long history as a term for poetry, and though it was co-
opted by philosophers well before Socrates and Plato to mean “wisdom”
in a more general sense, even as a term for poetry it retained a moral
component. In the Frogs sophia is not a simple synonym for poetry, but
encompasses the idea of the poet who is wise in a moral sense and is most
capable of articulating his values to the benefit of the state. The central
agon of the play is a contest to judge whether Euripides or Aeschylus has
the better claim to address the state as a sof»v, or moral teacher. Dionysus
chooses a novel method to make his decision: he weighs lines from their
tragedies. Aeschylus wins because his lines are by far the heavier, a comedic
corollary for poetry that is best able to instill courageous behavior in the
citizen-soldier at a time of crisis. Importing this memorable image into the

qÅov Âtti p†ciston qr”yai, [tŸ]n. MoÓsan d’ Ýgaq• leptal”hn (fr. .– Pf.). Cf. Asper :
 F. Williams : –.  .  See Hunter .
 Wimmel’s long footnote (: ) remains the most succinct and thorough comparison of the two
 In line , for example, Aeschylus deems Sophocles to be second only to him in sof©a; see
Goldhill’s discussion : –.

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Plato in the Aetia Prologue 
opening of the Aetia Prologue (fr. .– Pf.), Callimachus claims that Phili-
tas’ Demeter drags down what appears to be a longer poem (tŸn makržn,
the noun is now missing), marked specifically with the verb kaq”lkei. Here
is the passage of Aristophanes on which it depends:
EU. ‘OÉk ›sti PeiqoÓv ¬er¼n Šllo plŸn L»gov.’
AI. ‘M»nov qeän g‡r Q†natov oÉ dÛrwn –r
DI. M”qete.
AI. k. EU. Meqe±tai.
DI. Kaª t¼ toÓd” g’ aÔ ç”pei·
q†naton g‡r e«s”qhke, barÅtaton kak»n.
 EU. –gÜ d• PeiqÜ g’, ›pov Šrist’ e«rhm”non.
DI. PeiqÜ d• koÓf»n –sti kaª noÓn oÉk ›con.
ˆll’ ™teron aÔ zžtei ti tän barust†qmwn,
 ti soi kaq”lxei, karter»n ti kaª m”ga.
EU. f”re poÓ toioÓton dta moÉst©; poÓ;
DI. Fr†sw·
 ‘b”blhk’ %cilleÆv dÅo kÅbw kaª t”ttara.‘
l”goit’ Šn, Þv aÌth ’stª loipŸ sfn st†siv.
EU. ‘sidhrobriq”v t’ ›labe dexi
AI. ‘–f’ Œrmatov g‡r Œrma kaª nekr nekr»v.‘
DI. –xhp†thken aÔ se kaª nÓn.
EU. t tr»p;
 DI. DÅ’ Œrmat’ e«s”qhke kaª nekrÜ dÅo,
oÍv oÉk ‹n Šraint’ oÉd’ —kat¼n A«gÅptioi.
e u r . “Persuasion has no temple other than Speech.”
a e s . “Alone of the gods Death does not desire gifts.”
di on . Release it (sc. the balance).
e u . and Aes. It’s released.
di on . And again this one’s side sinks.
he put death in – the heaviest of ills.
e u r . But I put in Persuasion, a perfectly expressed phrase.
d i on. Persuasion is light and without sense. But look for something else
really heavy that will weigh the scale down for you, something weighty
and large.
e u r . Now where is such a thing in my verse? Where?
d i on. I’ll tell you: “Achilles cast two singles and a four.” You should speak
since this is your last round.
e u . “He took up his iron-laden club in his right hand.”
a e s . “Chariot upon chariot, corpse upon corpse.”
di. He got the better of you again.
e u . How?
di. He piled on two chariots and two corpses. Not even a hundred
Egyptians could lift them.

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 Literary quarrels
In Aristophanes the heavier language of Aeschylus weighs down the scale
(kaq”lxei) and thus Aeschylus wins; in Callimachus apparently it is the
lighter, more slender poetry that draws down the scale. Modern schol-
ars generally take the force of the allusion to be limited to Aristophanes’
literary criticism, but the exact context of the borrowing suggests a some-
what different point. The choice is between Aeschylus’ language of war
and death (chariots and corpses) and Euripides’ preference for Persuasion.
Callimachus’ reversal of Dionysus’ judgment by preferring what is lighter
does not require rejection of the ethical or moral dimension of poetry; it
might signal a realignment of what mode of discourse best embodies it.
Callimachus’ choice in fact better suits altered political circumstances of
the Ptolemaic state. Citizen-soldiers were not much in demand so that
Callimachus’ opting for a different sophia, in Aristophanic terms a sophia
of moral suasion (or Euripides’ PeiqÛ), rather than the stirring terms of
war poetry (Aeschylus), may well have reflected new realities, not been an
abdication of moral responsibility. In the Prologue, then, instead of align-
ing his poetry with an old model of inspiration or a new model of technê
Callimachus presents a poet who has taken instruction from Apollo, but
who is also transformed into the cicada, and so combines a technê that
lays claim to the sophia (wisdom or knowledge) necessary to create (which
he may share with the philosopher) with the divine state of inspiration or
frenzy (which the poet alone possesses).
Socrates makes a further claim in the Ion that is relevant for this discus-
sion: he claims that if poets did write by means of technê they would be
able to move easily from one genre to another while the divinely inspired
poet knows only one form.
Œte oÔn oÉ t”cn poioÓntev kaª poll‡ l”gontev kaª kal‡ perª tän prag-
m†twn, ãsper sÆ perª O ë mžrou, ˆll‡ qe© mo©r, toÓto m»non o³»v te ™kastov
poie±n kaläv –f’ Á ¡ MoÓsa aÉt¼n ãrmhsen, ¾ m•n diqur†mbouv, ¾ d• –gkÛmia,
¾ d• Ëporcžmata, ¾ d’ ›ph, ¾ d’ «†mbouv· t‡ d’ Šlla faÓlov aÉtän ™kast»v
–stin. oÉ g‡r t”cn taÓta l”gousin ˆll‡ qe© dun†mei . . . .
It is not by technê that poets say many fine things about human affairs, as you
claim about Homer, but by divinely appointed lot. Each can do well only that
to which the Muse moves him, the one dithyrambs, another encomia, another

 E.g. Fantuzzi and Hunter : .

 Which makes the restoration of [t piq»mh]n at line , the more attractive: by yielding to Apollo’s
moral suasion he validates Euripides’ preference.
 Technê and wisdom combine again in Iambus ., where Apollo composes his song with sofŸ
t”cnh. The song will endure forever and bests the golden gifts of Hephaestus.

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“Mixing Ions” 
hyporchemata, another epic, another iambics. And each is poor at all the others –
for not by technê do they say these things but by divine power. (b–c)
In his selection of intertexts – from Hesiod, Homer, Euripides, Aristo-
phanes, Philitas, Mimnermus, Pindar, and Plato himself – Callimachus’
practice in the Aetia Prologue is analogous to the poet who composes
in more than one genre. He does not confine himself to allusion to one
poetic type but avails himself of statements about poetry from multiple
sources, prefiguring the fabric of the Aetia, which is a pastiche of multi-
generic borrowings, recast in elegiacs; and at one point – the aition of Linus
and Coroebus – Callimachus even claims that his subject has come via a
rhapsode’s song.

“mixing ions”
Callimachus’ practice of composing in more than one poetic genre would
seem to have been the bone of contention in Iambus , another poem
that is constructed as a literary quarrel. That Iambus  is in some sense
related to Plato’s Ion is not a new idea – a number of scholars including
Mary Depew, Richard Hunter, and Arnd Kerkhecker have identified many
points of contact if not overt allusion. Iambus  is now very fragmentary,
but the Diegesis survives. It relates the following:
MoÓsai kalaª kŠpollon, o³v –gÜ sp”ndwá –n toÓtw. pr¼v toÆv katamemfom”-
nouv aÉt¼n –pª t polueide© æn gr†fei poihm†twn ‰pantän fhsin Âti
ï Iwna mime±tai t¼n tragik»ná ˆllì oÉd• t¼n t”kton† tiv m”mfetai polueid
skeÅh tektain»menon.
“Fair Muses and Apollo to whom I pour my libation.” In this poem in response
to those censuring him for the variety of the many kinds of the poems he writes,
he (sc. Callimachus) responds that he is imitating Ion the tragic poet, and that no
one censures a carpenter either for building a variety of objects.
We can reconstruct the poetic narrative as follows: The first line (quoted by
the diegete) implies a symposium context. After that either the poet as the
narrating ego sets up the charge and quotes his opponents, as Callimachus
does in the opening of the Aetia, or the fictive critic is made to speak and
the poem is constructed as a dialogue. Three charges against Callimachus
are recoverable: () he wrote unskilled (ˆmaqäv) iambics because he had
never gone to Hipponax’s Ephesus and steeped himself in the local cul-
ture, the fons et origo of Hipponax’s vituperative art; () as a result, he has
introduced innovations in his own iambics that mixed Ionic and Doric
in some way (lines –); () there must also have been a charge (implicit

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 Literary quarrels
or otherwise) of writing in more than one genre. His critic concludes by
characterizing Callimachus’ poetic behavior as madness from which his
friends are enjoined to rescue him (lines –). Lines  and following
contain the poet’s response. He begins his defense ([oÉk?] –rmov, “[not]
undefended”) with the counterexample, first a carpenter, who makes more
than one type of object (lines –), then a poet (Ion of Chios), who wrote
successfully in a number of genres (lines –). Callimachus caps his argu-
ment with the claim that those who would restrict creativity to a one-genre
rule are the truly mad. In their limitations they are like those who would
scratch out no more than starvation rations with the tips of their fingernails
(lines –) when they could be enjoying a richer feast, thus redeploying
the critics’ own earlier image of madness, not even touching sanity with
the tips of one’s fingers (line ). The iambic concludes by repeating the
opening lines, though now with altered force and meaning. Originally they
were placed in the mouth of his critic, but now Callimachus affirms his
own poetic agenda: ˆe©dw – “I sing without having gone to Ephesus . . . ”
In spite of the very fragmentary nature of the poem, previous scholars
have been able to find enough similarities to Plato’s Ion that they appear
to constitute a deliberate strategy rather than random occurrences. This
is more than a simple matter of resemblances deriving from a continuum
between Plato’s theoretical positions and later Hellenistic ideas, though this
is undoubtedly true in part. Callimachus does seem specifically to allude
to Plato in sections of his poem, but Plato is not the whole story; a number
of charges that the critics within the poem leveled against Callimachus can
also be paralleled in later Hellenistic poetic theory.
The critic’s opening salvo, namely, that Hipponax’s iambics grew organ-
ically from their environment, to which Callimachus lacked both temporal
and geographic access, falls into the category of a complaint about poetic
character and training (the poihtžv).
–k g‡. r. . . . . . . [. oÎt’] ï .Iw. si summe©xav
oÎt’ ï Efeson –lqÛn, ¤tiv –[
ï Efeson, Âqen per o¬ t‡ m”tra m”llontev
t‡ cwl‡ t©ktein mŸ ˆmaqäv –naÅontai·
For [ . . . you] neither mingled with Ionians nor went to Ephesus . . . Ephesus,
whence those intending to produce the limping feet (choliambics) take fire not
without learning. (fr. .– Pf.)

 POxy. . has a paragraphos in the left margin above l.  of the text which could indicate a
change in speaker.

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“Mixing Ions” 
The distinction, as we said earlier, between poet and poem on the analogy
of craftsman and craft was widespread. As a critical position it goes back
to Aristotle and surfaces in many places in Philodemus’ On Poetry.
Horace in his Ars poetica provides the most extensive extant discussion
of the character of the poet, probably derived from the Hellenistic critic
Neoptolemos of Parium. Yet for the critic Hipponax’s style would seem to
include both the learning or skill (mŸ ˆmaqäv) and inspiration (–naÅontai)
that were opposed in Plato’s Ion. Socrates doubts that a poet could be
informed by both technê and inspiration, but here the two are combined in
the critic’s good poet. This coincides at least superficially with the critical
stance of Heraclides, especially the emphasis on learning that includes
dialect, though there are likely to have been others who held similar
opinions. It is important to acknowledge that the critic’s initial complaint
that the poet (Callimachus) lacked a proper model for imitation (the real
world of Ephesus) does not match a Platonic model of poetic mimesis,
though other Platonic models for non-poetic imitation may well be in
A few lines after this opening, Callimachus begins his response, stating
the bone of contention in terms that echo Socrates’ observation that the
Muse inspires in one genre only (quoted above):

t©v e²pen aut. [ . . . .]l. e..r.[ . . . .]. 

sÆ pent†metra sunt©qei, sÆ d. ’ ¡[ro]n,
sÆ d• tragde. [±n] –k qeän –klhrÛsw. ;
dok”w m•n oÉde©v . . . .
Who said . . . you compose pentameters, you the [heroic], you will be allotted
tragedy by the gods?” In my opinion no one . . . (fr. . – Pf.)

He then adduces the example of a carpenter, followed by Ion of Chios, a

homonym of Plato’s rhapsode, who could do what Socrates questioned –
 At the opening of the Poetics (a–b) Aristotle comments that poets are called “poets” not
by reason of the imitative nature of their work but by reason of the meter they write in, hence
the designation “epic poet” or “elegiac poet,” thus implying a category of “poet” distinct from any
single poetic product.
 Janko : –, and especially .
 For the difficulties with this verb and possible solutions, see Russo, : –. The verb seems
to refer both to poetic inspiration and to the fiery quality of the Hipponactean choliambic.
 Janko : .
 It does, however, match a preference expressed by historians for the direct gathering of information
as opposed to hearsay or the reading of books, see Schepens : –. Here it may coalesce with
an underlying theme in Callimachus, who elsewhere claims not to travel.
 Kerkherker : : “‘Who said that,’ the poet asks in , and mentions . . . elegy, epic, and
tragedy. There is, perhaps, an answer to his rhetorical question: Plato.”

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 Literary quarrels
write poetry in more than one genre. Ion of Chios is an ideal model for Cal-
limachus because he wrote successfully in a variety of poetic genres, as well
as in prose. He was listed among the five great tragedians, wrote dithyra-
mbs, hymns, and paeans; he also wrote a foundation story of Chios, a
philosophical work, and the Epidemiai, prose reminiscences that resemble
Platonic dialogue (though it looks as if in the th Iambus only poetry is
mentioned). Callimachus has not coincidentally chosen as his exemplum
a poet who shares a name with Plato’s rhapsode, who might be styled
Ion of Ephesus. Significantly for the context, both Ions were international
artists, whose inspired compositions and/or performances were not limited
to their regional origins or local customs. The Ion-Ion link is strengthened
by the reiteration of Ephesus at the closing of the poem; when Ephesus
occurs in the opening lines, of course, it can only suggest Hipponax, but
after the introduction of Ion of Chios and a series of Platonic echoes, in the
final lines Ion of Ephesus becomes a ghostly presence. When at the end of
the poem Callimachus throws his critics’ condemnation back at them: “I
sing, although I have not gone to Ephesus nor ï Iwsi summe©xav” (–),
Richard Hunter makes the attractive suggestion that this might be a sly
reference not only to “mixing with Ionians” (whether people or mode or
dialect), but mixing Ions. Callimachus builds on this implicit association
of Ions with a further link – Callimachus imitating Ion (the poet) now
stands in an analogous place to Ion (the rhapsode) imitating Homer.
The importance of this becomes clear if we consider the nature of the
complaint. Fantuzzi and Hunter remark that by the third century “poets
now cultivated a variety of genres during their careers, and the idea, most
familiar from Plato’s Ion, that a poet could only be inspired by the god in a
single literary genre must have seemed rather dated.” Since Ion of Chios
predated Plato, and apparently in his own prose wrote about Socrates, the
model of this particular polyeidetic poet was already available at the time
of the dialogue, so either Callimachus has his critic speak nonsense, or
something else is at stake. In fact, the formulation of Callimachus’ response:
“who said . . . in my opinion, no one” is a provocative introduction of his
target, Plato’s Ion, which despite the fragmentary state of the poem, has been
 FGrH  F–F = – Leurini.  On the Epidemiai, see Pelling .
 Hunter : .  : .
 According to D.L. ., Ion claimed that Socrates as a young man accompanied Archelaus to Samos
(for philosophical reasons). R. Fletcher : – suggests that this biographical datum runs
counter to the constructed Athenocentrism of philosophical inquiry in Plato, in which a stationary
Socrates plays an important symbolic role. If Ion’s Socrates was a traveler, it provides an additional
ironic dimension to a poem about the need for travel to acquire appropriate knowledge.
 He does seem to make this claim in lines –: “but in these matters you chatter much nonsense . . . ”

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“Mixing Ions” 
easily recognized by modern critics. Not only did someone say it, but that
someone was Socrates, and it is the theme of the entire Platonic dialogue.
After this specific criticism is introduced the rest of the poem requires the
reader (just as in the Cleombrotus epigram) to think Platonically, so that
everything that follows – the carpenter, the example of Ion, not going to
Ephesus, learning and inspiration – requires a double reading: the literal
context of the iambus and the Platonic, or perhaps more accurately, the
Socratic subtext. If it is Socrates who claims that poets cannot compose
in more than one genre, it is also Socrates who never leaves Athens, and
who knows what he knows not by travel or experiencing other cultures but
by interrogating his fellows and strengthening his own moral convictions
from their inadequacies (at least in Plato’s mimesis of Socrates). Moreover
Socrates’ elenctic practice is to turn around the arguments of those he
interrogates, gradually enticing them to contradict or reverse themselves as
the dialogue progresses. We see a similar narrative strategy in this Iambus –
the initial charges are turned against the accuser and then embraced as
valid compositional principles, and they seem to be defended specifically by
introducing counterarguments from Plato and against positions associated
with Plato. “Not going to Ephesus” morphs from a prosecutorial charge
into a line of defense.
From the synopsis we learn that Callimachus introduces the carpenter
(t”ktwn) as an example of someone who is not censured for the variety
of his artifacts. That section has disappeared from the poem, but E. A.
Barber’s shrewd supplement of line  as d©]fra kaª tr†p[ezan (chairs and
table) would indicate that it came immediately after the question: “who
said you compose in pentameters, etc.” and before the example of Ion
was introduced. In earlier poetry the carpenter was analogous to the poet:
Pindar talks about “wise t”ktonev of verse” (Pythian .), for example, and
the evolving critical discourse about poetry, as we saw above, was moving
from a model of divine inspiration to craft. But the craftsman occupies
a very specific niche in Plato’s dialogues. Socrates’ homely analogies were
often mocked in comedy, so it is quite possible that by employing the
t”ktwn Callimachus was capitalizing on familiar caricature of Socratic
argument. And perhaps with malice aforethought: Plato’s particular bête
noir seems to have been Old Comedy, and iambic, the genre revived via
Callimachus’ Hipponax, has its closest affinities in style and content to
Old Comedy. We can only conjecture what direction Callimachus took
 See particularly the discussion of song and artifact in Finkelberg : –.
 Kerkhecker :  n. .  For the t”ktwn see Republic .a–d.
 See, e.g., Hunter : –.

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 Literary quarrels
with his carpenter, but there are several rather straightforward conclusions
to be drawn. The carpenter as an analogue serves to answer the critic’s
objections to a poet writing in multiple genres. Each of the carpenter’s
creations should be judged by how good it is for its specific task – how
good a table or chair or bed – not whether the carpenter in question built
chairs as well as tables. The introduction of the carpenter thus requires the
reader to realign the elements of the argument. If poets are like carpenters
then each genre in which they can compose is a subset of a larger class –
poetry – and understanding how to create one type should then allow the
poet (like the carpenter) to create other types as well. We cannot be sure
how the analogy of the t”ktwn played out in the poem beyond what the
diegete tells us, but the inclusion of a distinctive example from a Platonic
discussion of mimesis into a subsequent discussion of poetic mimesis is not
likely to have been fortuitous.
Arnd Kerkhecker observes that the carpenter is the first example that
“Socrates uses to launch his final indictment of poetry on the opening
pages of Republic X,” an indictment that results in banishing poetry from
the ideal state. The analogy of the carpenter introduces Socrates’ most
stringent critique of imitation (in painting and poetry) in an argument
that was notoriously problematic. He posited a tripartite division of form
into real (incorporeal) Form, particular examples in the sensible world, and
imitations. Carpenters, who create particular examples by looking to the
real Form, are therefore better than the poets and painters, who only imitate
and are thus thrice removed from that which is true (a). Virtually all
of Plato’s successors had trouble with this particular claim: Aristotle argued
that Plato produced Forms of artifacts, but it is unclear whether he thought
this result particularly welcome (Met. a), while Proclus thought that
Plato had no real belief in the couch Form, but that it was only introduced
for the sake of the argument. As Callimachus seems to deploy the analogy
of the carpenter the question of mimesis is moot, but according to the
Diegesis Callimachus’ rebuttal to the charge of composing in more than
one genre is that he imitates (mime±tai) the poetic practice of the tragic
poet Ion. The verb is important and not likely to have been introduced
by the diegete if Callimachus was merely providing an analogy for his own
practice. Let us pursue a bit further the possibility that notions of what

 :  and n. .

 See Nehamas :  who insists that the issue is not as usually taken that poetry is “an imitation
of an imitation” but that an object of mimesis has an “identity . . . constituted by the thing it seems
to be, not by any properties that it might have in its own right.”
 We are indebted to Chris Bobonich for these observations. See also P. Murray : .

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“Mixing Ions” 
constitutes acceptable poetic mimesis really are central to Callimachus’
If Plato’s theory of mimesis in Republic, book , condemns poetry
as incapable of accessing what is true because it is thrice removed from
the true Form, there were other more favorable views in circulation. One
such theory of good poetics, now recorded by Philodemus, namely that
one should “imitate well the [poems] of Homer and [others] who have
been similarly handed down” is relevant to the th Iambus. According to
Elizabeth Asmis:
[T]he new notion of imitation gives priority to the imitation of poets over the
imitation of things. What determines the poetic goodness is how well a poem fits
into the tradition of poetry, not how accurately it mirrors reality, whatever it may
be . . . There is a tacit recognition that poets themselves determine criteria of truth.
As the author of On the Sublime explains in a later period, the great authors of the
past fill others with inspiration as though from a holy source. As a result they “will
somehow lead the souls” of their imitators to “the standards that are presented as
images” [.–, .]. The imitation is not a theft, but “like an impression taken
from beautiful forms or figures or works of craftsmanship” [.]. By replacing
Plato’s Forms, the new poetic models offer a way out of Plato’s strictures on poetry.
Although a poem is an imitation – even more so, in a sense, than in Plato’s view,
for it is an imitation of another poet’s imitation – it is not trapped in falsehood.
For the imitation raises the poet to the divine source of truth.
If it is theoretically acceptable to imitate a poet from the past, then the
critic’s complaint in Iambus  that Callimachus did not go to Ephesus loses
its force. Callimachus does not need to go to Ephesus, the poems themselves
(presumably) provide sufficient inspiration to allow good imitation, or to
restate it in terms of Callimachus’ critic: if Hipponax not without learning
caught fire in Ephesus, Callimachus via Hipponax’s poems has that same
learned inspiration available to him. Hence his concluding statement –
“I sing, without going to Ephesus.” There is an elegance to this. The
analogy of the carpenter (discussed below) is inextricably bound to Plato’s
discussion of the theory of Forms set out in Republic, book , where poetry
comes in a distant third after the practical arts. But in other dialogues (and
even the earlier part of the Republic) Plato is less negative. The Phaedrus
and the Ion are texts in which Socrates seems to acknowledge the ability

 Cited in Asmis b: . Her text is that of Jensen; see also Armstrong’s translation in Obbink
: , which incorporates the text of Mangoni.
 b: . In his famous epigram on Aratus’ Phaenomena (Ep.  GP =  Pf.) Callimachus uses
precisely the language of “taking an impression” (line : ˆpem†xato and line : sÅmbolon, if this
is the correct reading) to characterize Aratus’ imitation of Hesiod.

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 Literary quarrels
of poets to access the divine via inspiration. Callimachus has implicitly
recast Socrates’ metaphor of the interconnecting chains substituting a poet
(himself ) depending from another poet (whether Hipponax or Ion of Chios
or both) for Plato’s rhapsode. He thus absorbs inspiration like the rhapsode
directly from the poet he imitates. This is a logical step in an age moving
from performance-based to text-based song, and it has implications for
Callimachus’ habit of identifying himself as a “singer.”
If we think in terms of Plato, another charge leveled by the critic in
Iambus  takes on some coherence:
toÓt’ –mp[”]plektai kaª laleus[..]..
ìIastª kaª Dwristª kaª t¼ sÅmmikton. [
t[e]Ó m”cri tolm
(fr. . – Pf.)

This is interwoven and chattered (?) in Ionic and Doric and the mixture. How far
do you dare?
The critic accuses Callimachus of generic mixing and “interweaving,” but
interweaving what? ìIastª and Dwristª should refer to dialect. Either
Callimachus is accused of mixing dialects within one poem or within
the corpus of the Iambi mixing poems in Ionic (the traditional dialect of
iambic) with poems in Doric. The theoretical basis for this complaint was
poetic propriety (t¼ pr”pon), and it included the nature of the relationship
between sound and meaning: what sounds were suitable for imitation at all,
in what poetic circumstances, and how should verbal composition (l”xiv)
contribute to the overall production of poetic meaning? This discussion
has a long and venerable tradition that includes Plato’s Cratylus and Stoic
theories of the natural correspondence between words and the things they
name. Needless to say, there were diverging opinions on what seems to
have been a widespread practice of dialectical and generic mixing. One
of the critics cited by Philodemus, for example, makes a claim that runs
counter to Callimachus’ critic, namely, that good poetic diction is the same
for all genres.
The structure of the iambic suggests that Callimachus did respond to
the charge of “mixing,” though how he did so is missing. However, it may

 Plato is inconsistent even in the Republic: in book  (–) and in the Laws (a–b, b–c)
the imitation of good models via singing and choral performance is positively affirmed.
 See, e.g., Kerkhecker : –.
 Iambi –, , , , and  are in Ionic; , , and  in Doric. Iambus  is in Doric with Aeolic
 See Asmis a: – and above n. .
 PHerc. , , tr B, fr. ––, Sbordone quoted in Asmis a: –.

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“Mixing Ions” 
be possible to piece together the framework for the answer, if not the poetic
particulars. Just after Ion of Chios is introduced, the disjointed lines –
]oÉcª moÓnon ex.[
o]uv tragdoÆv ˆll‡ ka. [ . . . . . . ].n
p]ent†metron oÉc Œpax . [.”]krouse 
]serw . . . f. a. u. l. a. . . . .ousi
Lud¼n] pr¼v aÉ. l¼n l . . . . . . .k. a. ª cord†v
]á§n g‡r –ntel”v te t¼ crma
..]..[.]rageinon kaª l. . . . . ˆnepl†sqh
“not only hex[ameters?] . . . tragedians but also . . . a pentameter [sc. elegy] he
struck not just once . . . the [Lydian] aulos . . . strings | . . . for the thing was both
complete . . . was made (or refashioned).”
It is notable that Callimachus describes Ion of Chios’ polyeidetic accom-
plishment not just in terms of generic variety but also of performance.
This might be part of the strategy of associating Ions, because the Platonic
rhapsode was after all a performer. But Ion of Chios was not only a man
of many genres, he seems to have been interested in musical innovation
as well: he wrote a poem praising the innovation of the eleven-stringed
lyre, and sound is a frequent theme in his fragments. He is among the
names specifically associated with the New Music. Musical innovation
exercised critics from the late fifth century on and is directly relevant to
concerns about dialectal purity and generic mixing, since at the base of all
of these is the question of proper poetic sound. We find that lexis and music
coalesce in Plato’s critique of poetry in the third book of the Republic. He
. . . t¼ m”lov –k triän –stin sugke©menon, l»gou te kaª ‰rmon©av kaª çuq-
moÓ . . . .OÉkoÓn Âson ge aÉtoÓ l»gov –st©n, oÉd•n džpou diaf”rei toÓ
mŸ dom”nou l»gou pr¼v t¼ –n to±v aÉto±v de±n tÅpoiv l”gesqai o³v Šrti
proe©pomen kaª ÞsaÅtwv;
A lyric song consists of three things: speech and melody and rhythm . . . insofar as
speech at least is concerned, the need to be spoken in accordance with the same
models we just prescribed, and in the same way, applies no less to speech that is
not sung, does it not? (c–d)

 The text is usually restored as Lud¼n] pr¼v aÉl»n, with Ion’s own reference to the Lydian m†gadiv
(flute) cited for corroboration (TGrF fr.  = fr.  Leurini). The same or a similar phrase – frÅg[a]
pr[¼v] aÉl»n occurs at Iambus ., and the Phrygian aulos is very well attested. Whether Lydian
or Phrygian here, the sounds have effeminate associations. For the aulos, see West : – and
Maitland : – and n. .
 Fr.  and West : .

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 Literary quarrels
Socrates then talks about modes: certain Ionian and Lydian modes are
loose, some of the mixed modes should be proscribed as scarcely suitable
even for women, and Dorian modes are most suitable for instilling military
virtues. Many-stringed instruments that have a wide harmonic range and
the aulos should also be excluded from the ideal city (c–d). In this
schematic, as in Callimachus, Ionian and Dorian modes occupy opposite
poles, and the mixed modes are not at all acceptable. Also Ion of Chios’
eleven-stringed lyre is exactly the type of stringed instrument with a wide
harmonic range that Socrates takes exception to. A long passage in the
Laws provides more detail: the problem with poets is that they mix modes,
language, and rhythms in such a way that a tune or gesture suitable for
women is assigned to men, they incorporate the cries of beasts and the
clash of instruments, and in general indulge in the senseless mixing and
jumbling together (t‡ toiaÓta –mpl”kontev kaª sugkukäntev ˆl»gwv,
d–) of elements that ought to be separate. The language here is
very similar to Callimachus’. If, as Socrates claims, the rules are the same
for words and music, then the charge against Callimachus of mixing Doric
or Ionic dialects in these particular poems may by extension imply the
inappropriate mixing of sounds and mimesis of individuals unsuitable for
In the Republic the link between poetic form and context results from
a theory of imitation that allows only good models, since the concept of
the good as one brooks no variety in expression. Whatever its value for
critiquing poetic practice, it has a straightforward parallel in Plato’s model
of the ideal state, a state that works best when each citizen does the job for
which he is best suited and only that job. Plato’s arguments about poetry are
supposedly in the service of this higher good. Might Callimachus be sub-
jecting the Platonic elenchus to its own reductio ad absurdum? Ion of Chios
is an ideal counterexample – a poet who composed both tragedies (Plato’s
despised genre) and dithyrambs (Plato’s acceptable genre), experimented
with musical forms, and wrote prose dialogues that took up contemporary
intellectual themes, moving freely from state to state and welcomed in each.
Ion exemplifies the power of poetry in contrast to the power of philosophy
(Athens condemned Socrates to death; Plato had to be ransomed appar-
ently from Dio’s Syracusan court, and possibly by one of Callimachus’
ancestors). If (as most critics seem to agree) the th Iambus is at its core
about the independence of poets to construct their poetics in response to

 Similar ideas are expressed in Republic, book  (), where inappropriate musical expression and
mixing is posited as a danger to the ideal state.

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Hipponax and mimetic play 
contemporary circumstances, not tradition or legislation (whoever the crit-
ics), then it should not be surprising that Callimachus selected as his main
foil not some vague and unnamed kritik»v but the most dangerous and
seductive of those who would regulate poetry – Plato. If this is along the
right lines, then Callimachus’ engagement with prose encompassed more
than history and fable, and he shows a deeper understanding of philosoph-
ical argument than has been previously suspected. Callimachus turns
the premise of the Ion on its head: if one poet can successfully compose
in more than one genre (as Ion of Chios clearly does), then another poet
may be able to do so as well (Callimachus, Ion’s imitator). To do so is to
lay claim not just to inspiration, but also to dianoia.

hipponax and mimetic play

We began consideration of Plato in the Iambi with the last – the th
Iambus – first, because the Platonic elements of this poem have long been
acknowledged. Literary quarrels and the figure of Hipponax occur at the
very beginning of Callimachus’ collection of iambic poems as well, in ways
that securely construct a frame for the eleven intervening poems. The st
Iambus begins with a mimesis of Hipponax: the archaic iambicist returns
from the underworld and speaks in his “own” voice, crying out: “listen to
Hipponax!” He materializes specifically to chastise the squabbling critics
of Alexandria. The Diegesis tells us that he first summoned them into
the Serapeum, singling out Euhemerus for his “unrighteous books” (fr.
. Pf. Šdika bibl©a). This new Hipponax teaches by example, telling
the quibblers a pointed tale about the Seven Sages: when he lay dying,
Bathycles gave a cup to his son with instructions to give it to the wisest
man. The son duly sought out the philosopher Thales, who in turn sent
the cup to Bias, who for his part sent it to Periander, who sent it to Solon,
 Callimachus would not have been alone in his interest in Plato. His quasi-contemporary Euphorion
of Calchis (fr.  Lightfoot = D.L. .) and Eratosthenes of Cyrene, a generation later, were
periti of Plato and of his text(s); on the latter see Vitrac .
 The debate over the number of Iambi –  or  – continues to flourish. Acosta-Hughes is
committed in print to  (see  and , which offer reasons for the additional four poems).
What follows certainly adds to the case for , though the arrangement of the corpus is not central
to our argument.
 According to the Diegesis, these men were fil»sofoi, which on the papyrus was subsequently
corrected to fil»logoi. But there may be no reason to choose between the two terms: both would
fall into the category later known as kritiko©.
 Bathycles may have been a sculptor who worked on the Amyclaean throne of Apollo. If so, a nice
choice for Hipponax to demonstrate that he has put aside his archaic vitriol. Hipponax’s poetry
(in the fine tradition of the iambic persona) was said to have driven another sculptor, Bupalus, to
commit suicide. We are indebted to an unpublished paper of Stephen White’s for this observation.

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 Literary quarrels
Solon to Chilon, Chilon to Pittacus, Pittacus to Cleobulus, who finally
completed the circle, returning it to Thales. Thales then dedicated it in
the Didymaeum at the temple of Apollo in Miletus. The moral for the
kritiko© is clear – the truly wise do not boast of their own excellence, value
the wisdom of their fellows, and are pious towards the gods.
This story of the Seven Sages had many regional iterations, each capped
by a local winner, who then dedicated the gift in a local temple. Diogenes
Laertius devotes the first book in his Lives of the Philosophers to the various
men identified as sages, so their position as first philosophers or proto-
philosophers was well established. Two of them (Bias and Myson) are
mentioned in Hipponax, though whether he knew or related the story of
the cup is moot. The first extant narrative featuring the Seven is in Plato’s
Protagoras. Callimachus’ list of sages matches that found in Demetrius
of Phalerum’s “Sayings of the Seven Sages,” but Diogenes Laertius tells
us that Callimachus’ version came from one Maeandrius (or Laeandrius)
of Miletus, which would account for the prominence of the Milesian,
Thales. Alan Cameron has pointed out that the dedication of the cup in
the Didymaeum at Miletus coincides with the rebuilding of that sanctuary
paid for by Ptolemy II in the s and s and that Callimachus, by
substituting a cup for the more usual tripod, avoids the version of the Seven
that involved a dispute between Cos and Miletus, two places equally of
interest to Ptolemy and dependent on his largesse. This is very much in
keeping with Callimachus’ other poetry on the Ptolemies, and should not
surprise. The more compelling question in this chapter, however, is not
why Callimachus chose one particular variant of a well-known story but
why he told the story at all. And why does he resurrect Hipponax? Again,
Plato may be the key.
The Seven Sages figure prominently in Plato’s Protagoras, a dialogue that
features a four-way contest for who can best teach virtue – the Sophists,
the Seven Sages, the poet (Simonides), or Socrates. The dialogue begins

 It is usually a tripod, though here a cup. The cup may be relevant to the next iambus, which
features Aesop. He bears a marked resemblance to iambicists in that he chastised the Delphians
for the greediness with which they consumed sacrificial meats (see fr. . Pf. for a reference to
Delphians at a sacrifice). He was then accused of stealing a cup from the temple and condemned
to death. Rather like Socrates, he embraced the verdict and leapt to his death (like Cleombrotus?)
from a cliff.
 Diogenes (.) lists twelve, but the number varies with the source. See Martin .
 Because the first example of the connected narrative is so late Fehling : – wondered if Plato
had invented it for the dialogue.
 See DK .–, and see now Fortenbaugh and Schütrumpf : –, no.  with bibliography.
 See Cameron :  for reasons to prefer Maeandrius to Laeandrius.
 The subject also of the Branchus (fr.  Pf.).  Cameron : .

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Hipponax and mimetic play 
with Socrates and the Sophist Protagoras, spurred on by their attendant
young men, including Hippias and Alcibiades, engaging in a competitive
exchange. Protagoras starts off with a mÓqov – the creation of men and the
bestowing of skills (t”cnai) upon them, but not universal virtue (ˆretž).
The question then becomes who best can teach virtue, as Socrates and Pro-
tagoras agree to interrogate each other in turn. Protagoras sets as the topic
the meaning of a poem of Simonides. The poet, it seems, has ‘corrected’
an aphorism of Pittacus (one of the Seven Sages). Socrates has already
informed us about the Seven in the context of Spartan speech habits. We
are told that the Lacedaemonian is the most naturally philosophical of
men, because of brevity of speech (braculog©a):

–n”balen çma Šxion l»gou bracÆ kaª sunestramm”non ãsper dein¼v ˆkon-
tistžv, ãste fa©nesqai t¼n prosdialeg»menon paid¼v mhd•n belt©w. toÓto
oÔn aÉt¼ kaª tän nÓn e«sªn o° katanenožkasi kaª tän p†lai, Âti t¼ lak-
wn©zein polÆ mll»n –stin filosofe±n £ filogumnaste±n, e«d»tev Âti toiaÓta
o³»n t’ e²nai çžmata fq”ggesqai tel”wv pepaideum”nou –stªn ˆnqrÛpou.
toÅtwn §n kaª Qalv ¾ Milžsiov kaª Pittak¼v ¾ Mutilhna±ov kaª B©av
¾ PrihneÆv kaª S»lwn ¾ ¡m”terov kaª Kle»boulov ¾ L©ndiov kaª MÅswn ¾
ChneÅv, kaª ™bdomov –n toÅtoiv –l”geto Lakedaim»niov C©lwn. oÕtoi p†n-
tev zhlwtaª kaª –rastaª kaª maqhtaª §san tv Lakedaimon©wn paide©av,
kaª katam†qoi Šn tiv aÉtän tŸn sof©an toiaÅthn oÔsan, çžmata brac”a
ˆxiomnhm»neuta —k†st e«rhm”na· oÕtoi kaª koin sunelq»ntev ˆparcŸn tv
sof©av ˆn”qesan t %p»llwni e«v t¼n neÜn t¼n –n Delfo±v, gr†yantev taÓta
 dŸ p†ntev ËmnoÓsin, Gnäqi saut»n kaª Mhd•n Šgan. toÓ dŸ ™neka taÓta
l”gw; Âti oÕtov ¾ tr»pov §n tän palaiän tv filosof©av, braculog©a tiv
[The Lacedaemonian] like a skilled javelin-thrower lets fly some notable saying,
terse and full of meaning, so that the person with whom he is talking seems no
better than a child in his hands. And many of our own age and of former ages
have noted this very fact that the true Lacedaemonian life sets the love of wisdom
far above the love of gymnastics; they are conscious that only a perfectly educated
man is capable of uttering such expressions. Such were Thales of Miletus, Pittacus
of Mytilene and Bias of Priene and our own Solon and Cleobulus the Lindian
and Myson the Chenian. And seventh in the catalogue was the Lacedaemonian
Chilon. All of these were lovers and emulators and disciples of the culture of the
Lacedaemonians, and anyone may perceive that their wisdom was of this charac-
ter, consisting of short, memorable sentences that they severally uttered. And
they met together and dedicated to Apollo at his temple at Delphi the first fruits
of their wisdom, for they inscribed those things that all men sing: “know thyself ”
and “nothing in excess.” Why do I say this? Because a certain Lacedaemonian
brevity characterized the philosophy of earlier times. (e–a, emphasis

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 Literary quarrels
As the argument continues, the esoteric model of Laconic speech figures
as an alternative to the education under the public gaze (exoteric), favored
by the Sophists, who taught for profit.
Pittacus’ saying that “it is hard to be good” illustrates the braculog©a
of a first-generation philosopher. But the poet Simonides in his ambition
to acquire a reputation for wisdom (according to Socrates) attempts via his
poem to discredit Pittacus’ words. This section of the dialogue foreshad-
ows the clash between poetry and philosophy that is overt in the Republic
and projects it back into an earlier age. Socrates identifies Pittacus and his
fellow wise men as philosophers because of the wisdom contained within
their laconic utterances, even going so far as to make them collectively
responsible for dedicating the “first fruits” of their wisdom at the Delphic
oracle. Should we wish to plot the mini-history of philosophy implicit in
the Protagoras, the aphorisms of the Seven, enshrined at Delphi, stimulate
Socrates to the next stage, namely to proceed beyond the folk wisdom of
“know thyself ” and “nothing in excess” to attempt to define and articulate
the nature of justice or goodness, not definitively, but via elenctic debate.
His principal rivals are the Sophists, who deny absolutes and claim to be
able to teach virtue to anyone (who can pay). Poetry is a non-starter in this
competition. Pittacus’ attempt to grapple with a difficult question – is it
possible for a man to be good? – is irrelevant to Simonides. Simonides is
reputed to have been the first poet to be paid for his work, and Socrates
turns this against him, remarking that Simonides felt obliged to attack
Pittacus because “he was often required to praise and magnify a tyrant or
the like, much against his will” (b–). The poet thus not only attacks
an earlier proto-philosopher for gain, but in the process he deliberately
contorts a seminal message about the nature of goodness. How (so the
implicit message goes) can we trust such poets to educate our sons? The
dialogue continues with Socrates himself explicating Simonides’ poem
in terms of sentence structure (the placement of m”n is introduced into
the discussion), language, and concordance, presumably to illustrate why
philosophers are more competent than poets to utter on meaningful mat-
ters like justice or goodness. The dialogue concludes with a discussion
of pleasure and the good (b–d) and by praising the art of measure-
ment – an exact science – as a means of neutralizing the deceptiveness of
appearances (c–c). By any estimate this is a very odd dialogue, full of
 Though, to be fair, the poet and the Sophist tend to merge together in the dialogue, so one could
easily argue that the principal target was the latter, not the former.
 For a fine discussion of Socrates as a literary critic, see Carson .

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Hipponax and mimetic play 
contradictions, reversals of position, and arguments verging on the absurd
(Socrates’ syntactical analysis of the poem, for example, and his extolling
the virtues of measurement). Socrates himself concedes that their behav-
ior was strange (Štopoi) and that if their argument were human it would
laugh at (katageln) them (a–).
Incommensurate length and differing styles of the dialogue and the st
Iambus require that any comparison must be done with extreme caution;
still there is much that the two share. In addition to the central narration
of the Seven Sages, the Iambus, like the dialogue, embeds the teaching
of moral excellence within the context of literary quarrels. The Protagoras
features a quarrel between philosophers, Sophists, and poets, with Socrates
as ostensibly the narrating voice of truth; the Iambus a quarrel between
various philosophers and/or critics, with a stern, moralizing poet – the
resurrected Hipponax – as the narrator and moral arbiter. The dialogue
ends with the dubious proposal that measure is the “solution” to moral
ambiguity, the Iambus ends with the victorious sage, Thales, sketching out
geometric figures in the dirt.
Socrates characterizes the earliest philosophers as laconic (in both senses),
speaking few but dense and morally charged words, what he names brac-
ulog©a. The concept coincides with Callimachus’ expressed views on how
good poetry should work. In the Aetia Prologue Apollo’s instructions to
the fledgling poet are a model of concision and wit: raise fat sheep but
a slender Muse. Someone (probably Philitas) is praised as ½lig»sticov
(fr. . Pf.), or a man of few poetic lines, and in an epigram ( GP = 
Pf.) Callimachus extols the brief utterance as bracusullab©h:
mikrž tiv, Di»nuse, kal‡ pržssonti poiht
çsivá ¾ m•n ‘nikä’ fhsª t¼ makr»taton,
 d• sÆ mŸ pneÅsv –nd”xiov, ¢n tiv ›rhtai
‘päv ›balev;’ fhs©· ‘sklhr‡ t‡ gign»mena.’
t mermhr©xanti t‡ mŸ ›ndika toÓto g”noito 
toÔpov· –moª d’, ånax, ¡ bracusullab©h.

A short speech befits the good poet, Dionysus. His longest speech is “I win”. But
on whom you breathe unfavorably, whenever someone asks: “How did it go?”
He says: “It was a bad business!” This would be the speech of one brooding on
injustice; but for me, O Lord, brevity.

 A point that seems oddly resonant in Iambus  with its careful measurements of Phidias’ statue of

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 Literary quarrels
His language throughout the Aetia and the Iambi is dense and thought-
provoking, full of ironic duplicity that requires his audience to reeval-
uate meaning, for example, in the I(r)onic mixing of the th Iambus.
Callimachus also introduces Plato’s principal sage, Pittacus, in what
Kathryn Gutzwiller argues was the first epigram of a collection, arranged
by the poet himself. In that epigram, when approached by a stranger
wishing advice on whom to marry, either a woman of his own station or
one above him, in an admirable demonstration of laconic speech, Pittacus
responds by pointing with his staff to children at play, saying only: “these
will tell you the whole story” (: ke±no© soi pn –reoÓsin ›pov). The chil-
dren, laconic in their turn, are playing with a spinning top, and call out:
“keep it in its track” (: tŸn kat‡ saut¼n ›la). The epigram capitalizes
on the oracular aspect of the advice and, what Richard Martin has called
“the unique and pungent eloquence, verbal or gestural,” that characterized
the Sages.
Callimachus does not speak in propria persona in this opening Iambus
but ventriloquizes the older poet, a creative decision that provided the bone
of contention in the th Iambus. Callimachus brings back Hipponax not as
a character in a narrative but by an act of mimesis, permitting him to speak
in his own voice. In that poem Callimachus identified various models of
artistic reproduction – a carpenter, inspiration, or imitation of an earlier
poet. In the st Iambus Callimachus’ speaking through Hipponax bears
some resemblance to Socrates’ ventriloquizing Simonides in the Protagoras,
because in both the older figure is quoted and adapted for new narrative
goals, but an even closer mimetic parallel is that of Plato ventriloquizing
Socrates within the dialogues, as the younger philosopher dramatically
recreates the older and speaks through him. The mimetic vagaries of
the two texts proliferate: the Protagoras ends with praise of mathematics
and exact sciences. Although the last lines of Callimachus’ poem are lost,
the story of the sages clearly ends with Thales, praised as an astronomer,
sketching a mathematical theorem in the dirt (). The theorem is said
to be that of the Homeric hero, Euphorbus (). Pythagoras believed he
had been Euphorbus in a former life. The poem makes three points about
Pythagoras: he was a moral philosopher as well as a mathematician, he
 Ep.  GP =  Pf. See Gutzwiller : , who remarks that Callimachus “begins his epigram
collection . . . not with the announcement of any one theme, but with the suggestion that his
philosophy of restraint, of refined choice, will be the glue that holds together the [collection].”
 Martin : .
 By Plato’s own definition his revenant Socrates is a product of mimesis. Why is the prose form of
mimesis acceptable (if it is) when the poetic is not? Is it the fact that they are not poetic (set to
music?) that makes this kind of mimesis viable?

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Hipponax and mimetic play 
also set up a polis (in Italy), and he held a belief in reincarnation (–).
(Plato, of course, turned to mathematics at the end of his life, tried to
instruct Dionysius of Syracuse about proper government – unsuccessfully –
and to judge from the dialogues believed in reincarnation.) Thales imitating
Euphorbos (who has returned from the dead as Pythagoras) bears a certain
resemblance to Callimachus imitating Hipponax in that both recall and
transmit the past. Hipponax, though, makes no claims to reincarnation:
he may have come back from the dead, but he cannot stay. His is a textual
rather than a literal rebirth. But if the latter is possible, why not the
Callimachus’ mimetic act is also akin to Ion the rhapsode performing
Homer or Archilochus – Callimachus’ Hipponax comes alive again and
speaks through the mouth of Callimachus. Callimachus’ inspired speech
act thus blurs the distinction between himself and Hipponax as he is filled
with (in Socratic terms) the di†noia of the poet. Speaking in the persona
of an iambic poet is not quite the same thing as merely alluding to or even
borrowing from his text. Archaic poets were not always separable from their
biographies, and iambicists like Archilochus and Hipponax even less so.
They were not just names of poets whose works will have been available for
reading in Alexandria, they came with specific personal voices and attached
performance practices. Their names alone evoked or were coincident with
the poetry of praise or blame. We might go so far as to say that the
medium (the choliambic meter) and the associations of the name were the
message quite apart from the content of a specific poem. It is possible
to repeat, that is, perform Homer like the rhapsodes, but the option to
craft a new text of Homer speaking did not exist for Callimachus in the
same way that recreating Hipponax did, since “Homer” was coextensive
with the specific texts of his poems. This surely is part of the complaint
in the th Iambus – Callimachus cannot be Hipponax without in effect
being Hipponax – living in Ephesus and experiencing the same stimuli to
write invective that the poet did. Callimachus’ approach to the problem is
twofold: a mimesis similar to Plato’s mimesis of Socrates and (in the th
Iambus) a mimesis that is aligned with poetic inspiration and rhapsodic

 Whether we should think of iambic as a genre is not entirely clear. Similar invective already
belonged to Old Comedy.
 Hence the choice of the title Iambic Ideas for a recent collection. Cavarzere, Aloni, and Barchiesi
: xii write: “We have decided to promote this well-known problem of generic analysis to a
major theme of our discussion, by naively foregrounding it in the title, Iambic Ideas, not Idea.”

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 Literary quarrels
The reconstituted Hipponax sets the tone for the whole collection as
poems of pungent critique. The archaic Hipponax attacked personal ene-
mies, and invective is still to be felt in the Iambi, but now he announces that
he has set aside the “Bupalian battle” – the personal nastiness – to emphasize
the stern, moralizing aspect of iambic critique. Even in this fragmentary
text the contemporary world of Alexandria is set in contrast to the archaic
world and their respective vices and virtues instantiated by Euhemerus and
Thales. Euhemerus was somewhat older than Callimachus, and he wrote
the Sacred Register, in which he claimed that the Olympian gods were not
originally divinities but culture heroes, venerated after death and subse-
quently divinized. His writings were called atheistic, and in the Iambus his
books are stigmatized as “unrighteous” (). Euhemerus scratching out his
books in the temple precinct of the Serapeum is parallel to Thales in the
temple precinct of Apollo at the end of the poem scratching out geometric
figures in the dirt. It is difficult to take this very seriously if we peel away
the layers of potential allusion. () Hipponax summons his prey to “a shrine
in front of the wall,” that is, the city wall. Two of Plato’s dialogues begin
“outside of the wall” – the Phaedrus (a) and the Lysis: “outside the
wall under the wall itself” (a–). Callimachus’ Cleombrotus leaps to
his literary suicide from a “high wall.” () The gathering of quibblers has
its closest parallel in the Socratic dialogues, where Socrates and his friends
meet in the wrestling schools or in private houses. () Previous thinkers
charged with atheism would include Socrates, who was accused by the
Athenians, condemned, and forced to drink hemlock, and () according
to Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates in the Clouds, Socrates spent his
time (like Thales) in astronomical observations. The addition to the mix
of Pythagoras channeling Euphorbos and preaching vegetarianism to the
Italians suggests that the real point is not the vices of moderns in contrast
to the wholesomeness of the past, but that philosophers have never had
much to recommend them. In contrast, the poet is the judicious critic and
he teaches via his poetry, which contains an exemplum (the Seven Sages)
that even a philosopher found useful, as well as a memorable portrait of
the generous behavior of a good man, Bathycles, who is not one of the
The challenge to philosophy’s superior claim to teach or preach moral
values can be seen in several of the other Iambi as well. Although most
cannot be reconstructed beyond the outlines of the Diegesis (if that is

 Imitation of the good man is the one type of mimesis that is always valorized in the Platonic
dialogues. See especially Laws b.

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Hipponax and mimetic play 
available), it is telling that within these scraps several other Iambi still have
easily identifiable Platonic/Socratic allusions. The third Iambus deplores
the current age’s preference for wealth over virtue and features a young
man named Euthydemus, who has apparently been pimped to a rich old
man by his own mother. Euthydemus is also a character who gives his
name to a Platonic dialogue. Within the dialogue he is one of two brothers
deft at sophistic argument; they “prove” among other things that bad is
good, that gods are animals, and that money is a good thing, while more
money is even better. The name then would not be inappropriate for a
boy selling himself to an older man. Euthydemus’ jilted lover speaks one
of the few surviving lines of the poem: “I was properly educated, I thought
[when I met you?] I saw the good” (fr. .–: krhgÅwv –paideÅqhn |
[ . . . –]fr»nhsa tÝgaq¼n bl”yai). The betrayed man alludes to the ladder
of love that Diotima advocates in the Symposium: the love of one beautiful
body, when understood properly, can lead the lover to see (with the mind’s
eye) the form of the good itself. The thought is frequent in Plato, and
as Kerkhecker observes: “Plato’s mysterious Good is a frequent subject of
jokes in comedy.”
The th Iambus continues the theme of promiscuous behaviors, in which,
according to the Diegesis, Callimachus chastises a schoolmaster for the
sexual abuse of his students (toÆv «d©ouv maqht‡v kataiscÅnonta).
The poem is very fragmentary, but what little text survives suggests that
Plato is lurking in the background here as well. The Iambus opens with
a proverb: “advice is something sacred” (sumboulŸ g‡r ™n ti tän ¬rän,
fr. .  Pf.); among other places it is found near the opening of Plato’s
Theages (b–: l”geta© ge sumboulŸ ¬er¼n crma e²nai), spoken
by Socrates in response to a father who wishes advice about educating
his son. Theages wishes to learn statecraft, and his father asks Socrates to
teach him. The Theages is a short dialogue featuring Socrates in his role
as a teacher with familiar details apparently drawn from other Platonic
dialogues, like Socrates’ relationship to his divine voice and his disclaimer
that he had no expertise except in some small measure in erotics (b –:
oÉd•n –pist†menov plžn ge smikroÓ tinov maqžmatov, tän –rwtikän).
 See, e.g., Symp. c-d: bl”pwn pr¼v . . . kal»n and c–. Kerkhecker : .
 For a discussion of the potential addressee (whether Apollonius or Cleon) and whether the students
are those of the speaker or the school teacher, see Acosta-Hughes : –.
 The Theages is generally considered spurious, though it was apparently accepted as genuine in
antiquity. It dates from the last quarter of the fourth century bc. An early-second-century-bc
papyrus exists written on the back of a roll that contained sections of Odyssey bk.  on the front.
See Joyal ; for a full bibliography of the papyrus see the Leuven Database of Ancient Books

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 Literary quarrels
Socrates explains in the dialogue that he teaches mainly by personal contact
(sunous©a), not by any formal method, and gives examples of several
statesmen with whom he associated, for good or ill. The dialogue’s distilled
essence of Socrates the teacher made it more easily accessible than most
authentic Platonic dialogues, but also would have made it an easy target for
parody or critique. As the dialogue continues Socrates interrogates the boy
to find out what he wishes to learn, claiming that for specific knowledge
you need to go to those who have that skill. He runs through various types
of knowledge ranging from seafaring, farming, chariot-driving, javelin-
throwing, finally to settle on the boy’s desire to learn about the governing
of states.
Two allusions, one lexical, the other a metaphor, lead to Plato. At line
 the iambic speaker says:
–gÜ B†kiv toi kaª S©bulla [kaª] d†fnh
kaª fhg»v. ˆll‡ sumbaleÓ.
tnigma, kaª mŸ Pitq”wv ›ce cre©hn·
I am your Bakis and Sibyl [and] laurel and oak. But interpret the riddle and have
no need of Pittheus.
In the Theages Socrates asks the boy:
s o c r a t e s : E­poiv ‹n oÔn moi t©na –pwnum©an ›cei B†kiv te kaª S©bulla kaª
¾ ¡medap¼v %mf©lutov;
t h e a g e s : T©na g‡r Šllhn, å SÛkratev, plžn ge crhsmdo©;
s o c r a t e s : Now would you tell me the name that Bakis and Sibyl have and our
own Amphilytus?
t h e a g e s : What else, Socrates, but soothsayers? (d–)
Bakis and Sibyl occur rarely in Greek texts, and only in these two are the
names so closely linked. These expressions are virtually identical, and to
each is added an historical figure who interpreted oracles correctly. Plato
names Amphilytus, who was, according to Herodotus (.), the soothsayer
who interpreted the enigmatic hexameters predicting Pisistratus’ victory
over the Athenians who had thrown him out. (The introduction of the
correct interpretation of oracles foreshadows Socrates later describing how
he heard and interpreted his particular oracular voice.) Callimachus names
Pittheus, the grandfather of Theseus, who correctly understood the oracle
given to Aegeus, but deliberately misled him. (The oracle advised Aegeus

 See, e.g, Aristophanes’ Peace – and –, where they occur, but a few lines apart.

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Hipponax and mimetic play 
not to have intercourse before he returned home to Attica, but Pittheus
persuaded him that the oracle meant that he should bed his daughter; the
result was Theseus.) Both figures are vital in Athenian history, though
Callimachus prefers the father of the founder of democratic Athens over
the city’s most famous tyrant. This may be pertinent because part of the
Theages is dedicated to tyrants versus rulers who govern with the people’s
consent, though how or whether that plays out in the Iambus is unknown.
The two passages also differ in how advice is handled. Socrates does not give
direct advice but draws out young Theages by his usual practice of question
and answer. In contrast to the philosopher’s technique, Callimachus advises
via poetry. Just before Bakis and Sibyl the speaker proclaims:
­sce d• dr»mou
margäntav ¯ppouv mhd• deut”rhn k†myv,
mž toi perª nÅss d©fron
Šxwsin, –k d• kÅmbacov kubistžsv.
. . . and hold from their racing your raging horses, and do not take the return
course, lest around the turning post they shatter your chariot and you tumble out
headlong. (fr. .– Pf.)
Ostensibly the allusion is to Homer, a most fitting text for the schoolroom
and therefore an ironic choice by means of which to instruct a schoolmaster.
KÅmbacov is a very rare word that first occurs in Iliad . to describe
Antilochus’ plunge headlong from his chariot into the dust. Kubistžsv
may also reinforce the Homeric context; several forms of the verb appear
in an episode in Iliad .–, when Patroclus strikes Cebriones in the
head with a rock. He tumbles from his chariot in death while Patroclus
taunts him and the rest of the Trojans. The taunting lends a nice subtext to
the speaker’s words in Callimachus. Yet neither of the Homeric intertexts is
remotely erotic. The metaphor of the passions as runaway horses was quite
familiar in ancient texts, but there is also a specific, Platonic, context:
Socrates in an eroticized setting discourses on love to a beautiful boy
(Phaedrus), allegorizing the passions as being like runaway horses ().
This very famous passage well suits the Iambus, since its specific context is
of a man controlling (or not controlling) his passion for a youth. There
is a further clue: Callimachus’ charioteer is in danger of falling out of his
vehicle like a tumbler. The word is not common, but Aristophanes, in

 See, e.g., Plutarch, Life of Theseus .–..

 Parallels are provided by Kerkhecker :  n. .
 Phaedrus –. Callimachus employs this metaphor of the divided soul in Ep.  GP =  Pf.
(discussed at the opening of ch. ).

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 Literary quarrels
his unforgettable speech about Eros in the Symposium, describes original
humans as possessing four arms and four legs and being able to move
hand-over-hand, just like tumblers (a–: kubistäntev; kubistäsi
In addition to the two Iambi featuring Hipponax ( and ) and the rd
and th Iambi, there are others with verbal reminiscences of Plato, most
obviously Iambus . It is almost completely lost, but the Diegesis gives a
first line as: “The Aphrodites – for the goddess is not one” (t‡v %frod©tav–
¡ qe¼v g‡r oÉ m©a) which suggests Pausanias’ speech in the Symposium,
in which he claims that there were two Erotes because there were two
Aphrodites – heavenly and common. Kerkhecker adds two more Platonic
allusions that we are inclined to accept, but they are not clear-cut enough
to advance the discussion. The speakers in these poems cannot always
be identified, but several focus on erotic behavior gone wrong within the
context of paideusis. Socrates was the great teacher of moral virtue, whose
particular engagement with the jeunesse dorée of Athens was (supposedly)
misunderstood by the demos that condemned him for corrupting the youth
of the city. He was an easy target for the comedians and remains so for
the new iambicist, but the chastising of dubious sexual mores is only part
of the poems: the real focus is who can best teach virtue – the question
that recurs in the Platonic dialogues – the philosopher or the poet. The
poems then tend to undercut the philosopher’s claim, just as many of the
Socratic examples were aimed at undercutting the poet’s claim. It would be
simplistic, though, to insist on only one purpose in the Iambi. Just as with
the epigram on Cleombrotus, Callimachus’ relationship to Platonic writing
has many facets. Callimachus’ own elevation of braculog©a to a poetic
principle and his stress on avoidance of the common shows considerable
affinity with Plato’s rejection of the many in favor of the knowledgeable

the power of the poet

At the opening of this chapter we set out a case for the importance of
Platonic intertexts in the Aetia Prologue, in particular, Platonic models of
poetic initiation and inspiration from the Phaedo, Ion, and Phaedrus. We
then turned to the Iambi, a collection that suggests a particularly close
awareness of a broad selection of Platonic dialogues. We now turn to the

 See :  n.  (Iambus ) and  (on Iambus ).

 The charge surely implied sexual as well as intellectual corruption.

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The power of the poet 
second book of the Aetia, to a symposiastic scene set in contemporary
Alexandria, where Plato again seems to make an appearance, this time in
ways that directly contrast the power of philosophers with that of poets.
The intertexts are the Republic, the Laws, and, to a lesser extent, the Sym-
posium. The second book of the Aetia is also the most fragmentary, and
before discussing contents, it is important to consider how the fragments
might be aligned. The first that can be securely placed is fr.  Pf. It opens
with Callimachus reflecting on the transience of the pleasures of the ban-
quet in contrast to the enduring value of talk (–), which is followed
by a long exchange of information between Callimachus and the Muses
on the foundations of Sicilian cities. An unplaced fragment (Icus, or the
Ician Guest, fr.  Pf.) also contains a vignette of a dinner party that
Callimachus attended. It overlaps fr.  in its theme of abstemiousness and
conversation. Both fragments contain a concentration of allusions to the
Homeric poems, but especially to the Odyssey. Fr.  Pf. breaks off with
the mention of the cult of Peleus on Icus (where he died), while the open-
ing lines of fr.  appear to mention Thetis and a burial. It is certainly
possible that in the course of the poem Callimachus narrated events of two
different dinner parties that he attended, but the options for placement
elsewhere in the Aetia are limited, a circumstance that has encouraged
scholars to propose locating fr.  at the opening of book , with fr. 
immediately following. If this is correct, the book opened with Calli-
machus attending the dinner party, then later describing what he learned
there to the Muses, after which they exchanged information on Sicilian
In the Minos, another “Platonic” dialogue now generally considered
to be spurious, Socrates praises Minos, not as a powerful king, but as a
lawmaker, and in terms that are a distillation of the arguments of Plato’s
Laws. Minos, we are told, established the rule for citizens that they
should not drink to drunkenness at symposia, but use the occasion for
conversation about virtue. Socrates, in response to the question from his
unnamed companion about how, if this is true, Minos gained such an
evil reputation, explains that Minos made the mistake of going to war
against Athens and, in turn, the poets (i.e., Athenian dramatists) set about
destroying him:
 See Massimilla : – and Harder : ..
 Zetzel : – made the initial case. If certainty is not possible, consensus for this alignment
continues to grow. See now Harder : .–.
 Morrow : – discusses the relationship of this dialogue to the Laws. He suggests that it
is authentically Platonic but unfinished. Whether or not it is Platonic, it does provide an early
reception of the Laws and an indication of possible ways for Callimachus to have read Plato’s texts.

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 Literary quarrels
Di’Á kaª sÅ, å b”ltiste, –‡n swfronv, eÉlabžs, kaª Šllov pv ˆnŸr Ât
m”lei toÓ eÉd»kimon e²nai, mhd”pote ˆpecq†nesqai ˆndrª poihtik mhden©.
o¬ g‡r poihtaª m”ga dÅnantai e«v d»xan, –f’ ¾p»tera ‹n poiäsin e«v toÆv
ˆnqrÛpouv, £ eÉlogoÓntev £ kakhgoroÓntev.
Therefore, you, my good friend, if you are sensible, and everybody else who cares
for his reputation, beware of ever quarreling with any poetic sort at all. For poets
have great power over one’s public perception, in whichever direction they create
it in the minds of men, by speaking good or ill. (e–)
Callimachus’ Minos, who occurs at least twice in the Aetia, is not the
lawmaker, but the tyrant. In the opening aition he is described as having
“stretched his yoke over the neck of the islands” (fr.  Pf.). He appears
again in fr.  where Callimachus informs the Muses that:
o²da G”la potamoÓ kefal ›pi ke©m. en. on Šstu
L©ndoqen ˆrca© [s]k. imp. [t»meno]n gene[,
Min h[n] kaª Krs[s]an, ¯[na ze©on]ta loet[r‡
ceÓan –[p’] EÉrÛphv u¬”· K[wkal©]dev·
I know about the city lying at the head of the river Gela, propped on its ancient
lineage from Lindus; and Cretan Minoa, where the daughters of Cocalus poured
boiling bath water upon Europa’s son [sc. Minos]. (fr. .– Pf.)
What Callimachus knows about Minos is not the deeds of the great law-
giver, but his demise as a result of events in his dysfunctional family. When
Minos’ wife Pasiphae conceived a passion for the most beautiful bull in
the herd, the resident artist, Daedalus, built a wooden cow that allowed
Pasiphae to couple with the bull. She subsequently gave birth to the Mino-
taur. Daedalus then judged it prudent to flee to Sicily and was received
into Cocalus’ court. Minos found him there. In order to protect Daedalus,
the daughters of Cocalus transgressed the rules of guest-friendship and
killed Minos by pouring boiling water on him when he imagined he was
receiving the courtesy of a bath.
After Minos Clio, in her turn, narrates the story of the foundation of
Zankle. She begins with the fraught history of its foundation, then tells of
its name, Zankle:
ˆll’ Âte dŸ m»ssunav –p†lxesi [kartunq”]ntav
o¬ kt©stai dr”panon q”nto pe[rª Kr»nio]n,
– k. e±qi g‡r  t‡ gonov ˆp”qrise mžde’ –ke±nov
k. ”kruptai gÅp z†gklon Ëp¼ cqon©, –

 The story seems to have been quite well known, see, e.g., Hdt. . ; DS ..–, and Harder
: .– for greater detail.

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The power of the poet 
When the builders strengthened the towers with battlements around Cronus’
sickle – for that with which he cut off his father’s genitals – the zanklon – is hidden
there in a hollow in the earth . . . (–)
According to Thucydides (..), z†gklon was the Sicilian word for dr”-
panon, or sickle, but although he tells virtually the same foundation story,
in his version the name, Zankle, resulted from the sickle-shape of the
location. In contrast, Clio’s version gives readers the tale that Plato,
in the Republic (e–), singled out as the greatest of all lies told by
the poets, one that should not be repeated to young and thoughtless
persons, and would be better buried in silence – namely that Cronus cas-
trated his father. In contrast, the Cronus that Plato would have us learn
about appears in the Laws (a–e): the Athenian stranger extols the age
of Cronus as “a time of prosperous settlement, as a model for the best of
the states that now exist.” In Callimachus a foundation in conflict com-
memorates by its very name a story that Plato would bury in oblivion,
because it implicitly undermines that image of Cronus as a just and fair
lawgiver, and, moreover, it is a story dear to the poets and the Muses, the
sources of poetic inspiration, who are portrayed as active collaborators in its
Callimachus presses Clio for further information, this time on Minos’
brother, Rhadamanthys, who was also known for his just judgments
(fr. . –). The passage is broken, but the phrase: “the spring of
Rhadamanthys” (kržnh ëRadam†nquo[v) suggests the context. It moves the
reader to Boeotia, where, according to Apollodorus (..), Rhadaman-
thys fled into exile. According to Tzetzes’ commentary on Lycophron (§)
Rhadamanthys went into exile for killing one of his brothers. So once again
Callimachus is introducing a lawgiver not by alluding to his sterling qual-
ities as a purveyor of virtue, but to his less admirable accomplishments.
After Minos, Cronus, and Rhadamanthys, in the next surviving fragment
in book  (fr.  Pf.) the Egyptian king Busiris occurs. He had the habit
of sacrificing whatever strangers entered his realm. But, according to
Isocrates, who wrote an encomium on Busiris, far from being a lawless
despot, Busiris introduced his Egyptian subjects to the wisdom that leads
to philosophy, laws, and scientific inquiry (§§–). Like Plato, Isocrates
castigates the poets for promulgating scurrilous stories, like the “eating of
 In Arg. . Drepane is the name of Corcyra, the land of the Phaeacians, so named for its
connection with the castration of Uranus.
 Harder : . makes the attractive suggestion that if fr.  began the book, then Busiris as a
bad Egyptian host from pharaonic Egypt formed a closing contrast to the good Athenian host of
the banquet in Egypt under the Ptolemies.

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 Literary quarrels
children, castrating of fathers, tying up of mothers, and many other lawless
acts” (§). There is, of course, more going on within this section of book
, but for the moment we wish to focus on the fact that Callimachus the
poet has chosen to dwell on the dark side of the very lawmakers who were
the darlings of philosophers: Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Busiris, not to
mention Cronus, Plato’s divine template of the ideal lawgiver. This is surely
a deliberate inversion (or send-up) of well-known philosophical exempla.
It is also a self-conscious assertion, or recollection, of the power of poetry,
since Callimachus is retelling all-too-familiar tales.
It is possible to miss the novelty of these accumulated tales simply
because they are so familiar, but Callimachus was not known for banal
reinforcement of the status quo, and four such figures in such a brief
compass would be rather a lot of mythological padding (especially when
the ostensible subject for at least two of the figures is Sicilian cities). In
fact, there are a number of other potential intersections with Plato the man
and Plato the philosopher in this section. After  broken lines, the Sicilian
Cities opens with Callimachus telling the Muses what he heard at a dinner
kaª g‡r –gÜ t‡ m•n Âssa karžati tmov ›dwka
xanq‡ sÆn eÉ»dmoiv ‰br‡ l©ph stef†noiv,
Špnoa p†nt’ –g”nonto par‡ cr”ov, Âssa t’ ½d»ntwn
›ndoqi ne©air†n t’ e«v ˆc†riston ›du, 
kaª tän oÉd•n ›meinen –v aÎrion· Âssa d’ ˆkoua±v
e«seq”mhn, ›ti moi moÓna p†resti t†de.
For as many soft amber ointments that I then placed on my head with a fragrant
crown, and the many things that went down past my teeth into an ungrateful
belly, all are immediately lifeless, and of them nothing survives until the morrow.
But the many things I took into my ears, these alone remain with me. (fr. . –)
The speaker claims that conversation alone abides from such events, not
ointments or garlands or the pleasures of the belly, which is not far from the
situation in Plato’s Symposium. The poem is also full of Homeric echoes.
Thus it fits nicely with fr.  Pf., which describes a dinner party held at
the house of an Athenian named Pollis, who was a resident in Egypt and
had invited friends to join him in celebrating an Attic festival.
 ìOd»ntwn ›ndoqi (cf. Il. .); ne©air†n t’ e«v ˆc†riston (Od. . and .), and oÉd•n
›meinen –v aÎrion (Od. .), and see Harder : .– for details.
 The name is given in Athenaeus (c), who quotes the passage to illustrate that: “Callimachus it
seems erred in using [skÅfov and kissÅbion] synonymously, saying about the Ician guest being
entertained with him at the house of the Athenian Pollis . . . ” Denis Feeney suggests that the name,
Pollis, may have been intended as a pun on p»liv, see Kaesser : .

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The power of the poet 
 Üv oÉd• piqoigªv –l†nqanen oÉd’ Âte doÅloiv
§mar ìOr”steioi leuk¼n Šgousi c»ev·
ìIkar©ou kaª paid¼v Šgwn –p”teion ‰gistÅn,
%tq©sin o«kt©sth, s¼n f†ov, ìHrig»nh,
–v. da©thn. –k. †l. e. ssen ¾mhq”av, –n d” nu to±si 
xe±non Áv A[«]gÅpt kain¼v ˆnestr”feto
memblwkÜv ­di»n ti kat‡ cr”ov· §n d• gen”qlhn
ï Ik. iov,  xunŸn e²con –gÜ klis©hn
oÉk –pit†x, ˆll’ a²nov ëOmhrik»v, a«•n ¾mo±on
Þv qe»v, oÉ yeudžv, –v t¼n ¾mo±on Šgei. 
kaª g‡r ¾ Qrh·k©hn m•n ˆp”stuge cand¼n Šmustin
o«nopote±n, ½l©g d’ ¤deto kissub©.
t m•n –gÜ t†d’ ›lexa periste©contov ˆle©sou
t¼ tr©ton, eÔt’ –d†hn oÎnoma kaª genežn·
‘§ m†l’ ›pov t»d’ ˆlhq”v,  t’ oÉ m»non Ìdatov a²san, 
ˆll’ ›ti kaª l”schv o²nov ›cein –q”lei.
tŸn ¡me±v – oÉk –n g[‡]r ˆrustžressi fore±tai
oÉd” min e«v ˆt[ene±]v. ½frÅav o«noc»wn
a«tžseiv ¾r»w[n] Ât’ –leÅqerov ˆtm”na sa©nei –
b†llwmen calep f†rmakon –n p»mati, 
QeÅgenev· Âss[a] d’ –me±o s[”]qen p†ra qum¼v ˆkoÓsai
«ca©nei, t†de moi l[”]xon [ˆneirom”n]·
Murmid»nwn —ssna t[© p†trion Î]mmi s”besqai
Phl”a, käv ï Ik xun[‡ t‡ Qessali]k†.

The day of the Pithoigia did not pass unheeded nor when the Choes of Orestes bring
a white day for slaves. And when he [the Athenian] kept the yearly ceremony of
Icarius’child, your day, Erigone, most lamented by the women of Attica, he invited
his friends to a banquet, among whom was a stranger, a recent visitor to Egypt,
who had come on some private business. He was Ician by birth, and I shared
a couch with him. By no assignment, but the adage of Homer is not false: god
always brings like to like. He, too, despised greedily draining wine from a Thracian
goblet, but enjoyed the small cup. I said to him as the beaker went around for the
third time, after I had learned his name and lineage: “the saying is true that wine
requires not only a portion of water but also of talk. We do not pass conversation
around in ladles, nor seek it on the haughty brows of the cup bearers, when the
free man is subservient to the slave. Let us, Theugenes, cast talk as a pharmakon
into this harsh cup, and in answer to my questions do tell me all that my heart
most desires: why is it your custom to honor Peleus, the king of the Myrmidons?
What does Icus have to do with Thessalian affairs?

In attendance at this party are an Athenian (Pollis), a Cyrenean

(Callimachus), and a man from Icus (Theugenes), united by their cus-
toms – the drinking party itself – as well as their common understanding

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 Literary quarrels
of myths and rituals. Within this unifying frame Callimachus adumbrates
behaviors that vary from region to region – an Athenian festival and an
Ician celebration of the death of Peleus (a man originally from Aegina,
who immigrated to Thessaly). The opening of fr.  Pf. cited here pro-
vides a snapshot of the Pithoigia and the Choes, the first two days of the
Attic festival of the Anthesteria. The first day (Pithoigia) commemorated
the opening of the new wine; the second (Choes) was apparently a time for
solitary drinking of unmixed wine, the explanation for which was that it
commemorated Orestes the matricide when he was a suppliant in Athens:
he was given sanctuary, but for fear of pollution no one would associate
with him, thus he drank alone. On that day, apparently, slaves were allowed
to behave as free men, in a typical ritual inversion. The third event Pollis
celebrates was the Aiora or “Swing festival” commemorating the death of
The expressed desire to avoid heavy drinking in favor of intellectual
exchange is the sine qua non for Plato’s Symposium (), although this was
not the only dialogue in which the topic was treated; it was also important
throughout the Laws as the place for strengthening social mores and trans-
mitting culture. At Callimachus’ party the Athenian is celebrating a festival
in honor of Dionysus; in Plato’s Symposium Agathon celebrates his tragic
victory at another festival of Dionysus, the Lenaea; Callimachus’ explicit
mention of Orestes in connection with Athens calls to mind tragedy,
particularly Aeschylus’ Eumenides. Callimachus refers to an often quoted
Homeric line that seems to have become a proverb: Odyssey .: Þv a«eª
t¼n ¾mo±on Šgei qe¼v Þv t¼n ¾mo±on. Homer’s expression is critiqued at
the beginning of Plato’s Lysis, –. The term f†rmakon of course would
have a strong Platonic resonance. When Socrates and Phaedrus recline
under a plane tree in a grove shrill with the voice of cicadas, Phaedrus is
said to have found the f†rmakon to persuade Socrates to travel outside
the city (Phaedrus, d). We saw the importance of the Phaedrus at the
opening of the Aetia, in the image of the old man as the cicada and the
mouthpiece of the Muses, so an allusion to that dialogue (if such it is) at
this point might facilitate a recollection of Callimachus’ earlier dialogue
with the Muses. Finally, in the Laws (b–) wine is said to be a f†r-
makon against old age, and a fine lubricant for conversation and music,
particularly when taken in moderation.
All of these are potentially relevant, but on the surface Callimachus’ ban-
quet is far more deeply indebted to Homer. The language used to describe

 Scodel : – and Robertson : –.

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The power of the poet 
Pollis’ party conjures up Homeric feasts as the site in which guest-friendship
is reinforced or violated. As Annette Harder observes, Callimachus aligns
Pollis’ banquet with Odysseus’ reception on the island of the Phaeacians at
the opening of the Odyssey, book , where food and drink are plentiful, seat-
ing arrangements unproblematic, and a singer is present to entertain. Cal-
limachus also evokes the Cyclops, with his brutish “feasting,” Telemachus
entertained by Menelaus and Helen in Sparta, and Odysseus’ own return
to Ithaca and confrontation with the suitors. Callimachus is not subtle
about this: he begins with the explicit quotation of Homer and his own (or
his persona’s) judgment about its veracity in lines –. A few lines later he
mentions the kissÅbion (), a type of cup used by the Cyclops (Odyssey
.) and Eumaeus (Odyssey .), but which Athenaeus, at least, found
quite inappropriate for Callimachus’ setting. While line : b†llomen
calep f†rmakon –n pÛmati recasts Odyssey .: –v o²non b†le f†r-
makon, describing Helen throwing a soothing drug into the wine (and a
drug whose use she has learned in Egypt) when Telemachus visits Sparta
seeking news of his father. Two other Homeric words – line : o«kt©sth
and line : o«noc»wn – also contribute to this emerging picture of good
and bad banquets, but possibly they are meant to do more than add to
the Homeric coloring. Passages of Homer in which they occur are among
those quoted by Socrates in the Republic .–.
In this very well known and controversial section Socrates takes up
the question of the value of poets for his imaginary state. Homer, in
particular, is the target of his concern with the ways in which poets imitate
not only good behaviors but also gods and heroes acting without self-
control or nobility. Such passages run the risk of encouraging emulation,
especially by the young, and Socrates quotes a number of passages to
illustrate his points. The depiction of Achilles is subjected to considerable
criticism for his lack of self-control (), for his venality (e), and for
his impiety in addressing Apollo (a). Thetis comes in for criticism for
unseemly mourning (b) and Peleus, as Achilles’ father, is praised as
swfron”statov (c). Socrates is equally disapproving of statements
that portray heroes like Odysseus as overly fond of food and drink. At
a-b Socrates combines lines from the Phaeacian feast with lines from
the slaying of the cattle of the Sun, when he asks:

 Harder : – and : .–.  See above, n. .
 These allusions are well known; see Massimilla : – and Harder : ..
 In Callimachus, fr.  seems to name Thetis and a burial, while fr.  ends with the aition of
Peleus’ cult on Icus. This could be coincidence, or it could be a further indication to the reader of
an engagement with Plato.

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 Literary quarrels
T© d”; poie±n Šndra t¼n sofÛtaton l”gonta Þv doke± aÉt k†lliston
e²nai p†ntwn, Âtan –
par‡ ple±ai åsi tr†pezai
s©tou kaª kreiän, m”qu d’ –k krhtrov ˆfÅsswn
o«noc»ov for”si kaª –gce© dep†essi,
doke± soi –pitždeion e²nai pr¼v –gkr†teian —autoÓ ˆkoÅein n”; £ t¼ –
lim d’ o­ktiston qan”ein kaª p»tmon –pispe±n;
What of this? The man [sc. Homer] making his wisest hero [sc. Odysseus] say that
he thinks that the best of all occasions is whenever –
the tables alongside are laden with bread and meat, and the cupbearer drawing
wine from the krater brings it and pours it into the cups (Od. . –).
Does it seem to you conducive to self-control for the young to hear this? Or this:
It is the most pitiable thing to die and meet one’s fate from hunger?
(Od. . )
In the introduction to this volume we discussed Callimachus’ use of the
Homeric hapax boÅbrwstiv suggesting that he was revising Homer by
deploying the distinctive word in a context that would have satisfied
Socrates’ critique and not contravened ideas of the divine as wholly good.
The Icus fragment may provide another example, if Callimachus’ allu-
sions are intended to remind the reader of Socrates’ strictures on Homeric
consumption. As in the earlier example, Callimachus seems to realign the
offending Homeric elements in his own mimesis of an imaginary event
that Plato could scarcely disapprove of – a symposium with light drinking
devoted to edifying conversation. In doing so Callimachus (as the compos-
ing poet) would also be privileging poetry over philosophy, and reversing
the effect of Plato’s quotation of Odyssey . –, the first of the two pas-
sages cited above. But he may also be tacitly reinforcing Socrates. In his
quotation of Homer Plato omitted the phrase that immediately preceded
par‡ ple±ai åsi tr†pezai: namely ˆkou†zwntai ˆoidoÓ ¤menoi –xe©hv
(“they listen to the singer sitting in order, the tables alongside are laden,”
etc.). A charitable interpretation of the omission is that Socrates had no
quarrel with singers performing, merely the content of what they perform,
so Socrates restricts himself to mentioning only the food and drink. How-
ever, only a few lines before (c–), Socrates certainly does object to
the song that this particular singer (Demodocus) sang about Hephaestus
catching Aphrodite in adultery with Ares (Od. .–). Therefore it is
more likely that Plato deliberately omits the half line, as it were erasing
the singer from his own text. Callimachus does so as well. There does
 We are indebted to an unpublished paper by Patrick Lake for this observation.

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The power of the poet 
not appear to be a singer at his banquet; on the contrary, he substitutes a
Platonically endorsed conversation.
But the most striking Platonic coincidence in this fragment is the name
of Callimachus’ Athenian – Pollis. According to Diogenes Laertius, when
Plato went to Sicily to the court of Dionysius of Syracuse, the tyrant,
unimpressed by Plato’s moral instruction, considered putting the philoso-
pher to death. Persuaded otherwise, instead he sold Plato into slavery to
the Spartan ambassador, one Pollis. Subsequently, at least in anecdote,
Plato was purchased by Anniceris of Cyrene. Given that Plato was con-
nected to Sicily as a lawgiver, and a failed lawgiver at that, we tentatively
suggest that Callimachus’ dinner party (with its subsequent conversation
with the Muses) replicates structural elements from the opening of Plato’s
Laws. The dramatic location of the Laws was Crete, where three men, a
Cretan, a Spartan, and an Athenian stranger, were making a pilgrimage to
the Idaean cave where Zeus was born and/or reared. They pass their time
in conversation about various aspects of Spartan and Cretan behavior and
end with a discussion of laws and city foundations. Minos, as the model
lawgiver who communicates with the god, and his brother Rhadamanthys
are both mentioned as the dialogue opens. The three identifiable par-
ticipants in Callimachus’ symposium are an Athenian, now removed to
Egypt, Callimachus, from Cyrene, which was a Spartan foundation, and
Theugenes, from Icus, which is said to have been a Cretan foundation.
Plato’s Laws was about stabilizing cultural traditions, and he ratified the
symposium, if conducted properly, as the appropriate and time-honored
means of insuring the continuity of these traditions. Callimachus shows
us a well-conducted symposium, but with these traditions as they move
and change – as colonial descendents and immigrants from the original
locations re-enact (Pollis) or relate (Theugenes) their local customs in what
would have been for Plato the alien and non-Greek space of Egypt.
To recapitulate: at the opening of the second book of the Aetia, Cal-
limachus “answers” Plato, who wishes to dismiss the poets from his (or
Socrates’) ideal state. He does this through a combination of means. Focus-
ing on Sicily (where Plato had failed as a lawgiver), Callimachus narrates not
idealized foundations, but what went wrong, starting with the portraits of
famous lawgivers themselves, Minos, Rhadamanthys, Busiris, and Cronus,
and by narrating foundations from blood, betrayal, and conflict. In the
banquet that probably framed the exchange with the Muses he constructs a

 D. L. .. It is tempting to see Pollis’ cup-bearing slaves with their haughty demeanor (–) as
an allusion to Plato’s one-time slavish condition.
 Ps-Scymnus, Periodos gês, –.

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 Literary quarrels
Platonically acceptable drinking party by interweaving Homeric intertexts
(as Plato often does) that acknowledge and respond to the criticisms in the
Republic, and finally he gives his Athenian host the name of Plato’s res-
cuer, Pollis, thus interjecting an element of historical verisimilitude. At the
same time in his recounting of specific festivals and events connected with
foundations, he demonstrates the significance of poetry as the artificer of
culture, whose selective acts of recollection construct and perpetuate these

“common things”
A further reason that Callimachus may have been attracted to Plato as both
model and foil is he might have regarded Plato as a writer of epigrams. Few
scholars today believe that the epigrams attributed to Plato are genuine;
but the question is not whether he did compose epigram, but whether an
Alexandrian audience, or an Alexandrian poet like Callimachus, thought he
did. He was certainly deemed an epigram writer by Meleager, whose praise
in his Garland – “Indeed, the golden bough of ever-divine Plato, resplen-
dent with virtue throughout” – leaves no doubt about Plato’s suitability for
inclusion in a collection devoted solely to epigram. This is not insignifi-
cant. Meleager’s catalogue does not include other authors known primarily
for their prose works, nor apparently does Meleager see any incongruity
in placing the author of the Ion and Republic among the hymnothetai of
his garland. Even a false attribution is contingent on plausibility, to which,
ironically, the long discussion in the scholarship of the authenticity of these
epigrams also bears witness. To rephrase the question: is Callimachus, in
casting Plato in an epigram and in alluding to a specific Platonic dialogue
(Phaedo), responding to a tradition that knew, or thought it knew, Plato as
an author of epigram, that is, a tradition that embraced Plato as a poet? The
chronology of the ‘Platonic’ epigrams would support this. Walter Ludwig
thought they were composed in the third century bc, and he first discerned
their influence on Dioscorides, who dates from the second half of the
century. It is not surprising that Plato, the philosopher who appropriates
the imagery of Muses and mousikž for philosophy written in prose, would
have made a plausible composer of the short elegiac poem, and might, in
other words, have exhibited something of the dianoia that Socrates claims
was necessary at the end of his life.

 Phaedo – passim and see above.

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“Common things” 
Among the epigrams attributed to Plato is one that centers on a figure
from Socratic dialogue (Phaedrus) set in an erotic context:
NÓn, Âte mhd•n *lexiv Âson m»non e²f’ Âti kal»v,
åptai kaª p†nt psi peribl”petai.
qum”, t© mhnÅeiv kusªn ½st”on; e²t’ ˆnižseiv
Ìsteron. oÉc oÌtw Fa±dron ˆpwl”samen;
Now, when I said nothing more than “Alexis is fair,” he is noticed and gazed upon
from all directions by everyone. My heart, why do you reveal the bone to the dogs?
You will grieve soon after. Did I not lose Phaedrus in this way? (FGE )
Let us juxtapose this poem with Callimachus’ famous epigrammatic reprise
of his own aesthetics, set in an erotic context:
ìEcqa©rw t¼ po©hma t¼ kuklik»n, oÉd• keleÅq
ca©rw, t©v polloÆv æde kaª æde f”rei·
mis”w kaª per©foiton –rÛmenon, oÉd’ ˆp¼ kržnhv
p©nw· sikca©nw p†nta t‡ dhm»sia.
Lusan©h, sÆ d• na©ci kal¼v kal»v – ˆll‡ prªn e«pe±n
toÓto safäv,  cÛ fhs© tiv· ‘Šllov ›cei.’
I hate the cyclical poem, nor do I enjoy a path that carries many hither and yon.
I also despise a roving love, nor do I drink from any font. I despise all that is
common. Lysanias, you are fair, yes fair. Yet before uttering this clearly, some echo
says “he is another’s.” (Ep.  GP =  Pf.)
The points of overlap are considerable: both speakers lament the loss of
lovers who are “fair” (kal»v); for both the act of speaking the word kal»v in
public is intimately associated with loss; for both lovers loss occurs when the
beloved is exposed to the broader public gaze, and as a consequence both
reject the many. And both epigrams juxtapose the erotic loss with broader
aesthetic or intellectual values. The Plato epigram positions the loss of
Alexis against that of Phaedrus – the erotically charged foil for Socrates in
the dialogue named after him as well as the partner of Pausanias in the
Symposium – while Lysanias’ lack of sexual exclusivity (or discrimination)
in Callimachus’ epigram is figured as the inverse of Callimachus’ aesthetic
response to commonplace poetry and events. Plato likens the indiscriminate
gaze of the many (p†nt psi) to a dog eyeing a bone, while Callimachus’
choice of language – polloÅv, per©foiton –rÛmenon, and dhm»sia –
recalls the public aspect of Socrates’ philosophical mission: being seen in
the company of beautiful boys, whom he attempts to instruct in virtue,
while the public – o¬ pollo© – misconstrue his behavior and condemn
him to death.

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 Literary quarrels
It is possible that the relationship of the two epigrams should be reversed,
that “Plato” is imitating Callimachus. Then the question becomes what
triggered a rewriting of this particular epigram in Platonic terms. The most
salient feature is the language: foit†w, for example, is commonly used in
Plato of frequenting a teacher, and a recurring theme in the dialogues is the
habit of young men searching out Sophists without regard for the truth-
value of their teaching (see, e.g., Euthydemus c-d or Protagoras c).
The line mis”w kaª per©foiton –rÛmenon in Callimachus might easily
mean: “I hate a young man like the Platonic eromenos who continually
seeks out teachers from the common herd, who teach a facile virtue.”
Epigrammatic writing is an intimate exchange among poets, so there is
no definitive answer as to priority. But it is safe to conclude that either
Callimachus was imitating “Plato” or an imitator of Callimachus was
responding to something identifiably Platonic in Callimachus.
Both the Academy and the Lyceum had shrines dedicated to the Muses,
symbolic of the transformation that philosophy was undergoing. The poets
who come after Plato, perhaps especially those associated with the Museum
in Alexandria, were necessarily aware of this now shared cultural space in
which appropriation of poetry by philosophy as a subject for discourse,
interpretation, evaluation, and rivalry had already happened. In this con-
text Cleombrotus’ plunge has added irony: his peculiar katabasis – his
misreading of Plato is cast in verse, and the result of his philosophical
study – is a fall from its self-assumed sublime height (where the soul is
immortal) into the familiar tropes of poetry (going down to Hades).

the crowd
There is one final literary quarrel. At the end of the Hymn to Apollo
Callimachus appends a sphragis that articulates a distinction between the
kind of poetry he wishes to write and the poems preferred by Phthonos:
¾ Fq»nov %p»llwnov –p’ oÎata l†qriov e²pen· 
‘oÉk Šgamai t¼n ˆoid¼n Áv oÉd’ Âsa p»ntov ˆe©dei.’
t¼n Fq»non Þp»llwn pod© t’ ¢lasen æd” t’ ›eipen·
‘%ssur©ou potamo±o m”gav ç»ov, ˆll‡ t‡ poll†
lÅmata gv kaª poll¼n –f’ Ìdati surfet¼n ™lkei.
Dho± d’ oÉk ˆp¼ pant¼v Ìdwr for”ousi m”lissai 
ˆll’ ¤tiv kaqarž te kaª ˆcr†antov ˆn”rpei
p©dakov –x ¬erv ½l©gh lib‡v Škron Šwton.’
 This epigram and Ep.  GP (which opened the chapter) are not the only ones in the Callimachean
corpus that play off of ideas in Plato. See ch.  for a discussion of Ep.  GP =  Pf.

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The crowd 
Covertly Envy spoke into Apollo’s ear: “I do not admire the poet who does not
sing as much as the sea.” Apollo spurned Envy with his foot and said: “the Assyrian
river has a vast flow, but it drags along its waters the many leavings and much
refuse from the land. But the bees do not carry water to Demeter from every
source, but what wells up pure and untainted, crown of waters, a small drop from
a holy fountain.” (–)
The metapoetic implications of these lines have provoked extensive discus-
sion, much of which centers on which poet should be identified with the
sea or the Assyrian river in contrast to the bees who carry pure water to
Demeter. Callimachus identifies his own poetics with the latter, and possi-
bly that of Philitas, who had written a poem on Demeter that is cited in the
Aetia Prologue. In a recent, unpublished paper K. Cheshire has observed
that the initial syllables of lines –, lÅ and Dh, spell out the name
of Antimachus’ Lyde, a poem quite admired by Plato. Callimachus’ own
observation that this poem was weighty and not lucid would certainly
make it a fit candidate for the swollen river here, but more interest-
ing is its Platonic penumbra coupled with the word, surfet»n, which
sits between lÅ and Dh in line . This word is not particularly fre-
quent in Greek, and its basic meaning seems to have been “refuse,”
but its more common application in later Greek was metaphorical, as
a term for the mob. In Plato surfet»v is the great unwashed, whose
judgments are not to be taken seriously, in contrast to those who have
true understanding. In a passage of the Theaetetus, in which he is dis-
cussing the difference between exoteric and esoteric knowledge, Socrates
öAr’ oÔn pr¼v Car©twn p†ssof»v tiv §n ¾ Prwtag»rav, kaª toÓto ¡m±n m•n
 ‚n©xato t poll surfet, to±v d• maqhta±v –n ˆporržt tŸn ˆlžqeian
Truly, by the Graces, what an altogether wise man Protagoras was! But did he
speak in riddles to us as members of the mob, meanwhile telling the truth in secret
to his disciples? (Tht. c)
The comment is ironic, but the sentiment may not have been. Again, in
the Gorgias:

 See F. Williams : – and most recently Cheshire : – and n. ; for Philitas, see
Spanoudakis :  and Hunter : –.
 See above, n. .
 According to F. Williams : , it first occurred in Hesiod, WD  with the meaning of
 We are grateful to Alessandro Barchiesi for calling this word to our attention.

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 Literary quarrels
£ o­ei me l”gein, –‡n surfet¼v sulleg doÅlwn kaª pantodapän ˆnqrÛpwn
mhden¼v ˆx©wn plŸn ­swv t sÛmati «scur©sasqai, kaª oÕtoi fäsin Œtta,
taÓta e²nai n»mima;
Or do you suppose that I am saying that if the mob of slaves and men of every
type, worthless except perhaps for the strength of their bodies, gathers together
and says some things, that these things are prescriptive? (Gorgias  c–)

In both cases these are philosophical discussions. The subject is not poetry,
but what unites the two is the distinction between the few who really know
the truth and the opinion of the masses. Callimachus seems, therefore,
to have borrowed a loaded term to apply to those who do not under-
stand poetry (and that would no doubt include his source). Callimachus’
poetry was self-consciously innovative and experimental, and took seri-
ously the challenge of writing for a new age. To do that meant abandoning
or reinventing old forms, but that was not without the danger of being
misunderstood. Matching oneself against Homer was bound to be coun-
terproductive, but Plato’s own uneasy relationship with poetry (and in
particular, Homer) provided a fertile environment to exploit in articulat-
ing his own poetic stance.

In this chapter we are making no claims that Callimachus was engaging with
Plato’s central philosophical speculations, although Callimachus might well
have been responding to more than we have been able to identify. Rather
our purpose has been to make the case for Plato as a central and significant
intertext within Callimachus’ poetic heritage. Plato appropriates poetry
as a theme for philosophic discourse, staging the relationship of the two
agonistically, and he borrows from the repertory of poets – he employs
mimesis of individuals, makes up stories, and alludes to previous poets in
an overt way by acknowledging sources, but also by incorporating those
allusions into the fabric of his own discourse. He also critiques them, and
especially Homer. Callimachus indulges in all of these poetic behaviors, but
in addition he incorporates distinctive narrative moments from Platonic
discourse on poetry into his own verse – the most telling of which is his
representing himself as the cicada immediately before his conversation with
the Muses. Callimachus’ reading of Plato constitutes a powerful and (for
us) unexpected act of reception that acknowledges the changing role of the
poet and the growing challenge of criticism of poetry. But Callimachus
also finds in Plato a vocabulary and an adaptable critical framework in
which to articulate a poetics that de facto differed from an earlier literary
culture because of time, place, and the fact of a library – or access to poetic

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The crowd 
predecessors not solely as performance but also in the aggregate as texts.
Entering into a public discourse, writing for the dhm»sia qua dhm»sia,
at least in the important way that Greek tragedians and comedians had
done, was no longer feasible in Ptolemaic Alexandria, but how does a
poet reposition himself for a more restricted audience (an audience like
Plato’s?), one that necessarily included the crown, members of an imperial
bureaucracy, the intellectual élite, as well as one’s fellow Cyreneans resident
in Alexandria?

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c h ap t er 2

Performing the text


Callimachus’ Aetia Prologue is filled with sound. His opponents, the
Telchines, twitter or squeak; they bray like asses. Zeus thunders. In con-
trast, Callimachus sings with the light, clear voice of a cicada. This mimetic
immediacy is more than a humorous effect: his onomatopoeia reinforces
sense as the ass brays a heavy spondaic ending (($O
), and the
cicada’s singing style ( $4 ) is the vox propria for a controlled, clear-
sounding instrument or a human singing voice. Together the sounds are
an aural reenactment of Aesop’s story of the ass and the cicada, a fable with
aesthetic ramifications for poetry. Callimachus is also self-consciously and
ironically textual – in the Aetia Prologue he presents himself with a tablet on
his knees when Apollo comes to inspire him – someone who learns poetry
by taking down a series of rules. His poetry then deliberately suspends itself
between two worlds – the sounds and sights of poetic performance and the
written text as epitomized by the collections in the new library. The latter
must have effected a psychological re-orientation as the poet’s imagined
audience no longer received the text simply as an aural and visual experi-
ence. Performance is ephemeral, noisy, and visually stimulating, especially
so in the third century when even Homer was acted dramatically by Home-
ristai, while texts are silent but long-lasting. Whether or not Hellenistic
poets wrote for public performance, they wrote with double consciousness.
It would have been textual and intertextual on the one hand, since they
were beginning to experience the literature of the past in new ways (as
texts collected within a library), but equally they were fashioned by the
immediate experiences of viewing and hearing live performances in public
This double consciousness is nicely captured in a fragment from Strato’s
Phoenikides, a late-fourth- or early-third-century comic excerpt found in
 West : .


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The sounds of reading 
Athenaeus and also in a schoolmaster’s manual from Ptolemaic Egypt. It
is a comic monologue in which the speaker, who ventriloquizes his cook,
complains about the man’s habit of employing obscure Homeric words for
common household items.
“Is there brine?” “Brine? Get hosed! Will you say more clearly what you want to
tell me?” “You are presumptuous, old man,” he said, “bring me the salt. That is
what brine is.” The libation water was at hand, he sacrificed, he said a lot more
that by Earth no one would have understood–cuts, portions, diptychs, spits. So
that it was necessary to take the books of Philitas to figure out what each was. But
I begged him to change his tone, to say something within the range of human
comprehension. But him, Persuasion could not have persuaded if she had been
standing right there. I think the scumbag has from childhood been a slave of some
sort of rhapsode, so full was he of the words of Homer. (–)
The stage cook is accused of performing Homer in his kitchen, his
vocabulary and even his ability to deploy it acquired from his intimate
association with rhapsodes. But his employer operates in the realm of
books – he thinks of consulting Philitas’ Ataktoi glossai to be able to
understand the cook’s words. The excerpt dramatizes a clear awareness of
the divide: what was once only visual and aural can now be fixed in text,
where the real-time cognitive experience of the performance is replaced by
reading, or by consulting a book. It locates Homer between two different
aesthetic experiences of reception. The staged incident may also depend
for its humor on a class distinction: it seems to be the lower-class cook who
speaks “Homer” while his presumably higher-class employer is unfamiliar
with the words outside of books, and by inference the world of popular
(Homeric) performance. The challenge then for the contemporary poet
was both to accommodate the potential of the text based on the replicable

 The two sources do not entirely agree; see PCG .– for details. See Fantuzzi and Hunter :
– for the Homeric language of the cook. The school book (Cribiore : no. ) contains
Macedonian month-names, squares of numbers, fractions, an epigram attributed to Posidippus on
a fountain dedicated to Arsinoe II (* A–B), and a dedication for a temple of Homer, then this
selection from Strato. The schoolbook itself combines practical knowledge and extracts of poetry that
are topical, as well as a list of names that includes Callimachus, Antimachus, and Agathodorus, who
might well be the comic actor mentioned in OGIS . (see below). It is quite possible that the book
was employed for teaching the children of Macedonian soldiers who lived in the Fayum (the alleged
find spot), and the reason to include this particular passage is the fact that young learners themselves
would have struggled with Homer’s vocabulary. Homeric parody, particularly in a culinary context,
seems to have been quite popular in the th and rd centuries bc. See the discussion in Olson and
Sens .
 Aristophanes provides an instructive parallel in his Frogs, where Dionysus’ perusal of a text of
Euripides’ Andromeda (–) brings on a longing for the now dead Euripides and his theatrical art.
As the subsequent agon in the Underworld makes clear, it is not for Euripides qua reading experience
that Dionysus longs.

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 The sounds of reading
experience of reading (as opposed to hearing and memory) and to retain
the immediacy and the energy of seeing and hearing poetic performance
within the fixity of the text.
It has been often stated that Callimachus did not write for performance,
a judgment that tends to carry with it a devaluation of his poetry in com-
parison to his predecessors. The belief that his poems were not performed
persists despite the fact that a high percentage of them are for specific
events connected to the Ptolemaic royal house, for example, marriage
(fr. , Wedding of Arsinoe), lament for royal death (fr.  on the deifica-
tion of Arsinoe), and success in Panhellenic games (Victory of Berenice). The
consequence of this judgment would be either that these poems were writ-
ten for real events for which there was no celebration that included poetic
performance (whether competition, cultic rite, or a sympotic context) or,
if events did include performance, that Callimachus did not participate in
them but circulated a text about the event. In the non-performance model
his poems would have been only for reading or circulation among a select
group of intellectuals (the cook’s employer but not the cook). Scholars have
tended to operate within entrenched dichotomies of performed vs. written,
popular vs. learned, public vs. private that are of marginal heuristic value
for estimating Callimachus’ poetic achievement. The deeper questions of
how and why he creates the immediacy of performance in juxtaposition to
an acknowledgement of textuality in his poems, what kinds of performance
he is interested in, and with what assumptions about mimesis (who speaks)
are largely neglected. The Acontius and Cydippe episode from Aetia, book 
(frr. – Pf.) provides a case in point. The poem opens with an evocation
of one of the most familiar of Panhellenic choral events, the theoriai sent
to Apollo on Delos. But it also acknowledges the written (and non-poetic)
source of the erotic narrative, the Cean chronicler Xenomedes, and then
closes with a vivid image of the transition from historical source to poem
as a “running story.” In order to assess how Callimachus negotiates the
different aesthetics of performance and written text within his poetry we
begin with a roadmap of what constituted the contemporary performance
practices for early Hellenistic Alexandria.
Alexandria was in the process of being built under the first three
Ptolemies, the time during which Callimachus was writing. This new
foundation differed in important ways from a Greek city like Athens in
 Gentili :  sums up the non-performance position, while Cameron  provides ample
anecdotal evidence to undermine the paradigm, though both work within the standard oppositions.
For a more nuanced view of the complex interrelationships of performance and text see Morrison
: – and Bing : –.

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The sounds of reading 
respect to its immigrant populations, its location in Egypt, and its cults.
Yet this new city needed to define itself as a Greek space, for the large
number of inhabitants who were from diverse ethne or were Greek speakers
but not ethnically Greek. Here we begin to see the role that Greek cul-
ture, or paideia, was to come to play in defining identity in the Hellenistic
period. Public performance was significant in accomplishing this goal, and
in its performance practices Alexandria probably resembled other cities
of the Hellenistic Mediterranean. Traditional tragedy and comedy were
staged there as well as mime or farce, rhapsodic recitations, and musical
events. Alexandrian festivals, like those found elsewhere in the Hellenistic
world, now combined athletic, musical, and dramatic competitions. The
court-sponsored festivals, on which there is good information, include the
Ptolemaia, instituted by Ptolemy II in honor of his deceased father and first
celebrated in Alexandria around  bc; the Basileia, which seems to have
combined an older Macedonian festival of Zeus Basileus with coronation
ceremonies and royal birthday celebrations; the Soteria (probably in honor
of Zeus Soter/Ptolemy Soter); an Arsinoeia (in honor of Arsinoe II); an Ado-
nia, the subject of Theocritus, Idyll ; more than one festival in honor of
Demeter; as well as festivals of Isis (Demeter’s Egyptian avatar). Addition-
ally, Alexandrian Greeks could and did participate in the broader Panhel-
lenic festival culture of the athletic games at Olympia, Nemea, Isthmia, and
Delphi, to which the Ptolemies added the Alexandrian Ptolemaia and pro-
moted it as the equal of the other four (or “isolympic”). Callimachus wrote
epinicia commemorating the Panhellenic victories of Berenice II (Nemea)
and of Sosibius (Nemea and Isthmia). Religious events at the great com-
mon shrines like Delphi and Delos, Samothrace, Dodona, and Didyma
also supported a rich song culture. This is reflected in Callimachus’ poems
celebrating cultic events on Delos (Hymn ), and Delphi (Hymn  and
Aetia  frr. – on the Daphnephoria), and Didyma (Iambus , Branchus,
fr.  Pf.). In the Hellenistic period there is everywhere a broad pattern of
continuity with earlier performance practice, enhanced by the largesse of
new dynasties defining themselves and competing for status in the wake of
the death of Alexander. Theocritus’ celebration of Ptolemy II’s benefactions
to performers and poets (Idyll .–) is a case in point. There is also
change over time as the Hellenistic world moved away from Archaic and

 See West : – for Hellenistic performance practices.  Lightfoot : .
 Callimachus’ Hymn to Zeus, and possibly Theocritus’ Heracliscus (Id. ), may have been written for
the Basileia in  bc.
 See Fraser : .–, –; Weber : –, Perpillou-Thomas : –.
 See Hunter : , –.

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 The sounds of reading
Classical performance practices to develop its own style, and professional
virtuosi or international superstars came to dominate public performance.
In the emerging Hellenistic kingdoms the boundary between public and
private was continually blurred: monarchs funded public events like tragic
competitions or hosted dinner parties in connection with some festival
occasion like the Ptolemaia. The convergence of the two performance
venues is nicely illustrated in Athenaeus’ description of a tent pavilion for
the symposium held as part of the festival. One set of decorative entablatures
featured characters from tragedy, comedy, and satyr play as participants in
symposia. Theocritus Idyll  provides another example: the poem features
a female performer who sings the hymn to Adonis to a select public at
the royal palace under the queen’s sponsorship, but who also apparently
took part in formal contests. Events like weddings, when aristocrats or
royals were involved, functioned at least as much in the public as the
private domain. From the time when we can first identify the aristocratic
symposium, it was a place for class bonding, with amateur and professional
performance forming an integral part. Ewen Bowie remarks that the
picture of sympotic song that emerges from Theognis “involves praise,
gnomai, reflection, banter, games in which one song capped another.”
Symposium entertainment might also include professional performance of
lyric, iambic, or elegy. Traditionally such events were culturally entrenched
opportunities to measure and regulate behaviors and to influence opinion
that had a broad social impact. These practices can be found writ large in
fourth and third century symposia given by monarchs or members of the
élite. Who was invited, what was served, how it was presented, what kinds
of entertainment were offered, and even the extent of the drinking formed
a complex semiotics of power in which proper behaviors for both ruler and
ruled are delineated as well as negotiated. Whether the poet attended as a
guest or a hired entertainer, his song was an important part of the process.
Hellenistic poets like their archaic predecessors were fully aware of their
position and influence within this environment. The significance of the
symposium as a place in which ideas can be exchanged and behaviors
affected can be seen in the growth of literature about the symposium in
the fourth century. Plato’s Symposium is the best, but by no means the

 f–a. Athenaeus is quoting Callixinus.

 Cf. lines –, –. At –, Gorgo describes the singer of the Adonis song: “She’s about to sing
the Adonis song, the Argive woman’s daughter, a very practiced singer. She’s the one who won in
the dirge last year.” Whether the public here consists of both men and women or women only is
still a subject of debate: see Burton : – and Reed : –.
 See for example the description of Alexander’s wedding at Susa (West : ).
 P. Murray : –.  : .

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The sounds of reading 
only example of such writings. The dialogue is set in a private house,
following Agathon’s public victory in the tragic competition ( bc),
and the participants forego deep drinking to discuss Eros. Plato’s interest
in the potential of the symposium can be seen also in the Protagoras and
the Laws, and Callimachus’ own writing reflects both of these texts. The
philosophers’ symposium may have been more of a literary construct than
a commonly experienced event, but a letter purportedly written by Aristeas
to Philocrates, probably in the second century bc, projects back onto the
reign of Ptolemy II a symposium presided over by the king in which the
participants exchange views on subjects like kingship. With the fictive
date of the anniversary of Ptolemy’s defeat of Antiochus I at sea (§),
the symposium fêted those who had translated the Septuagint into Greek.
In addition to the Jewish guests it included a number of philosophers,
one of whom was Menedemus of Eretria (§). This same Menedemus
was targeted by Lycophron in a satyr play in which he described dinner
parties that included poets and scholars. The food was notoriously bad.
An early third-century papyrus from a Greek soldier’s tomb in Elephantine
in southern Egypt describes what certainly looks like a living practice:
+6 ’, 
. %2  .  1 
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 , 7 ' O %
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7 2·
Whenever we come together as friends for this sort of thing we should laugh, and
jest, acting with virtue, take pleasure in coming together, to tease and mock each
other in a way that provokes laughter. But then seriousness should follow and we
should listen to each other speaking in turn. (Page GLP – = IEG –)
Any discussion of Hellenistic performance practices, then, must take into
account the symposium as well as court-sponsored, civic, and religious
 Xenophon’s Symposium is in part an imitation of Plato’s. Other philosophers credited with symposia
are Aristotle, Speusippus, and Epicurus. Of particular interest for Callimachus are the A& 
(“Visits”) of Ion of Chios. See further Hunter : –.
 Tecusan : –, and see previous chapter.
 Most scholars regard the letter as a fiction. For it to work as fiction, though, such an event has
to be plausible. The multi-day event was devoted to such questions as: “What is the highest form
of government?” (); “How could the king be free from grief?” (); “How could he recognize
those who were dealing treacherously with him?” (); “What is philosophy?” (). See further
Bagnall : –.
 D.L. .–. Menedemus is mentioned in an epigram of Posidippus as well ( A–B).
 See Falivene .
 See Cameron : –, who discusses the Hellenistic symposium in terms of poetry and

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 The sounds of reading
events. In the early stages of city settlement this is particularly critical
because there is no reason to imagine a population distinct from the
officials and functionaries, mercenaries, and support staff that migrated
to the site to serve the imperial court. Callimachus’ poetry reflects this
range of performance options – either because he wrote for real-time poetic
performance, as is possible with his epinicia, or because he constructed his
poems as sites of performance, as perhaps in his hymns (although at least
a few of these, e.g., Hymns  and , could have been intended for original
performance). More crucial for our argument, Callimachus consistently
identifies himself as a performer, an aoidos, and his self-proclaimed models –
Ion of Chios and Hipponax – are particularly characterized by their roles
as performers. But Callimachus also participates in symposia (Aetia, fr. 
Pf.), a venue that may have served as the background for the second book
of the Aetia, and seems to have been the setting for the Hymn to Zeus
and possibly the thirteenth Iambus; the symposium is unsurprisingly the
setting for several of his erotic epigrams. These two categories, traditional
modes of public performance and the symposium, form the framework for
this chapter. We begin by surveying the contemporary practices of drama,
lyric poetry, and stichic meters, and Callimachus’ relationship to them,
and then we turn to Callimachus and the symposium.

dramatic performance
Tragedy (and probably comedy) seems originally to have been a product of
Classical Athens with its choruses both paid for and performed by citizens,
and in retrospect it appears as the dominant poetic idiom for the fifth
and fourth centuries (at least for Athens), and this circumstance tends to
color modern critical judgments about later poetry. Yet even in the fifth
century theater production was not limited to events like the Dionysia,
an Athenian celebration of itself that would have attracted thousands of
viewers, many of them foreign. As early as Aeschylus this model must
have been modified since he wrote and presumably produced plays for
courts of the Sicilian tyrants; certainly Euripides was to do so at the end of
his life for the kings of Macedon. How choral performance was managed in
these environments can only be conjectured, but the playwrights could not
always have depended on local amateurs. The shift from polis production
to troupes of professional performers took place over time, but by the early

 See Scheidel  for a discussion of the settlement and population of Alexandria.
 See Csapo : –.

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Dramatic performance 
Hellenistic period inscriptions provide evidence that dramatic performance
throughout the Greek-speaking world was coming under the control of the
“Artists of Dionysus.” Members of these groups were uniformly of citizen
status, and extremely well paid for their efforts. They might also have
been exempt from taxes or other duties, and could have claimed sacred
status as dedicated to the god. Their title (technitai) reflected the fact that
they viewed themselves as highly trained and skilled performers; technitai
included actors as well as lyre players, aulos players, and rhapsodes. (Mime
artists, jugglers, and conjurors were apparently of lower status and seem to
have been excluded.) Inscriptional evidence suggests that cities and other
institutions could contract with the artists for a particular performance,
who were then responsible for all aspects of the production. However, as
festival venues expanded it became increasingly difficult to guarantee that
a sufficient number of artists would or could attend, and some venues
became more prestigious than others. There are notable consequences for
the growth of these guilds: () performance became more broadly available
and exportable to whatever locations could pay the price of hiring the
guild; () the standards of performance were raised as polished virtuoso
efforts came to be the norm and production handled by companies rather
than citizen amateurs; () the development of a repertory that could be
performed again and again in various venues reduced the opportunities for
the unique compositions for festival competition familiar from Athens; and
() the performance of whole plays with actors and chorus gave way slowly
to selections suitable for virtuosi now accompanied either by lyre or aulos.
Such guilds expanded the average Greek speaker’s chances of experiencing
some kind of tragic or comic performance, while the performance of
the same play or poem in more than one location reinforced the idea
of a common stock of mythological lore, which in turn must have been a
significant factor in transmitting a shared sense of Greek cultural identity.
Since the increasing skill of musicians and actors and rhapsodes coincided
with growing awareness of the potential for textual transmission, it is
quite possible that the growth of guilds was a contributing factor for some
Hellenistic poets moving away from broad venues like the stage or inter-
state competitions to more intimate forms like local festivals and symposia.
Well before the Ptolemies settled in Alexandria, the Macedonian kings
had shown a taste for drama. Euripides probably wrote his Archelaus, a

 Csapo and Slater : –; Lightfoot .  Lightfoot : .
 Csapo and Slater : –.  West : –; Lightfoot .
 Nagy  also makes the case for performers creating and guaranteeing a canon of performed texts.

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 The sounds of reading
play that features one of the ancestors of the house, for the Macedo-
nian court. Philip II and Alexander continued the tradition of supporting
theatrical performance, as did the Successors. A theater of Dionysus was
built in Alexandria under the first Ptolemies, and some of the earliest
evidence for the existence and roles of the technitai comes from Egypt,
where they are connected to the throne. These artists appear in the
Ptolemaia, one of the first festivals recorded in the new city. It included a
procession, which resembled in many respects the opening of the City
Dionysia at Athens, consisting of “Artists of Dionysus” led by the “poet
and priest of Dionysus,” Philicus, who was apparently one of the Pleiad
(see below), Delphic tripods for the victorious boys’ and men’s choruses,
figures dressed as tragic actors and satyrs, as well as a cart carrying a
golden phallus pole (§e), and figures representing cities. The listing
of prizes for boys’ and men’s choruses guarantees that dithyrambic per-
formance was an integral feature of the festival, though whether whole
tragedies were staged is not clear. However, when the Ptolemies controlled
Delos, tragic performances were apparently part of the celebration of the
Ptolemaia held there. Tragedy in Alexandria never assumed the dom-
inant position it held in Athens, and almost nothing is known about
local production practice, but T. Falkner makes a good case for Alexan-
drian scholars like Aristarchus in the second century bc deriving much
of their information about drama from seeing productions, not reading
Ancient commentators identify seven Hellenistic dramatists as “the sec-
ond rank of tragedians,” naming them the Pleiad. The seven: Lycophron,
Alexander the Aetolian, Homerus of Byzantium, Sosiphanes of Syracuse,
Sositheus, Philicus of Corcyra, and either Dionysiades of Tarsus, Aean-
tides, or Euphronius of Chersonese certainly produced in Athens, but they
are also associated with Ptolemy II, and that suggests at least some activity

 Harder : –.

 Polybius .., Strabo C, Athenaeus d. Cities of the chora, for example Ptolemais and
Oxyrhynchus, also had theaters.
 OGIS nos. –, dated between  and  bc. They are called “the technitai for Dionysus and the
Theoi Adelphoi (= Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II).” These technitai appear to be mentioned in Theocr.
Id. .–, see below.
 Described at length in Athenaeus. For technitai see c–d, discussed by Rice : –.
 IG XI : '4 
2. -
, ‘to proclaim victory in the first contest of the Ptolemaia, whenever the tragedians
compete’. See Sifakis : –.
 Falkner : especially –.
 For the identification of Philicus see Fraser . .  n.  and Rice : –.

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Dramatic performance 
in Alexandria. In this ancient rank-ordering Machon was, according to
Athenaeus, next to the Pleiad in quality, and he did produce his plays in
Alexandria (where he was buried). In an epigram (AP .) Dioscorides
even portrays the deceased Machon as claiming: “City of Cecrops [sc.
Athens], by the Nile, too, it is the case that bitter thyme blooms for the
Muses.” Anecdotal evidence suggests that playwrights like Philemon and
possibly even Menander produced in Alexandria. Strato’s comedy, a frag-
ment of which was quoted above, was produced in Athens, though because
of the close connection of Philitas with the first and second Ptolemy (he
is said to have been Philadelphus’ tutor), it would fit an Alexandrian con-
text as well. In later Alexandria, Ptolemy IV is credited with a tragedy on
Adonis, a subject already associated with the royal house in Theocritus
Idyll . Given the wealth of the early Ptolemies and their strong cultural
interests, it would be surprising if well-known playwrights did not produce
there. From the titles and fragments that survive, it is clear that many Hel-
lenistic plays concerned themselves with historical events that would work
well in local production. Lycophron’s Cassandreis, for example, seems to
have been based on the foundation of Cassandreia in  bc. Most of the
subjects identified in Hellenistic drama are traditional – Medea, Oedipus,
Hippolytus – but there is also overlap with subjects found in contemporary
poetry – Heracles, for example, or Galatea or Daphnis.
Papyri provide further insight into Hellenistic Egyptian (and by exten-
sion, Alexandrian) dramatic taste and likewise demonstrate a continuing
engagement with traditional mythological figures as well as a number of
new themes. There are now almost fifty fragments or extracts from Euripi-
des’ plays from the Ptolemaic period, including the Archelaus, the Helen,
and the Heracles Furens, some assigned to the third century bc, and frag-
ments of Hellenistic tragedies and comedies of unknown authorship are
also to be found in Egypt. Being found in Egypt does not mean that
the plays were necessarily written or produced there, but it does mean

 For attestations and evidence for the identification of the Pleiad, see Fraser : .– n..
For recent discussions of Hellenistic drama see Fantuzzi and Hunter : – and Sens :
 Plutarch states, for example, that Magas forgave Philemon for pillorying him on the comic stage
(Mor. a). Fraser : . n.  argues that the most likely place of production was Cyrene.
 Rostagni (quoted in Fraser : . n. ) argued for a revived interest in drama under Ptolemy
IV. On Ptolemy IV and the increased presence of the cult of Dionysus during his reign see Hölbl
: .
 Fraser : . and n. . For Menedemus see D.L. . and  A–B.
 As of  papyri have yielded  fragments of Euripides, but only  for Aeschylus and  for
Sophocles. Aristophanes fares better with about  fragments, and there are over  of Menander.
For fragments of Hellenistic tragedies see Xanthakis-Karamanos : –.

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 The sounds of reading
that contemporary dramatic texts were read and copied along with the
more familiar fifth-century examples. And preservation is itself a kind of
reception. Moreover, several of these Ptolemaic fragments of Euripides and
other playwrights have musical notation or are lyric extracts, which does
suggest indigenous performance.
Extracts from tragedy and comedy are well represented in Ptolemaic
schoolbooks, and Callimachus’ epigram on a tragic mask ( GP =
 Pf.) offers us an insight into schoolroom drama during this period:
  S 7 g8 9 W%

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: g% & , 9
&  Q,% 7&O ·   2$% 
“) 9 & , ”,
 ) R 7.
Snub-nose, the son of Small, dedicated me to the Muses and asked for easy
learning. And they, like Glaucus [who exchanged golden armor for bronze] gave
him a large gift in exchange for a small one. Now I, the tragic Dionysus, am set
up here yawning twice as wide as the Samian, within hearing range of the boys.
They recite: ‘Holy is his hair’. What else is new?
The epigram capitalizes on the fact that schoolboys declaimed Euripides’
plays as part of their education. The practice was so commonplace that
Dionysus, who is forced to listen, is yawning in boredom – a clever expla-
nation for the typical tragic mask with its gaping mouth. It is difficult to
imagine schoolboys reciting dramatic texts but never attending the theater,
especially since the cities of Egypt had theaters (and if we may extrapolate
from the very early date for some texts with musical notation, dramatic per-
formances came with the earliest Greek immigrants). The living tradition
of performance is probably what drove the continuing study of dramatic
texts in schools, and Callimachus’ epigram makes clear that “study” was
mainly of the oral variety, not focused on the written word. Callimachus
makes a further point with the epigram. Dionysus himself is not imagined
as the living god, but as a mask confined to a wall, and a schoolroom wall at
that, while the line he quotes – ) 9 & , – is among the few lines
of tragedy that could be alternatively scanned to accommodate trimeter or,

 See Pohlmann and West : .  Cribiore : nos. –.

 Euripides, Bacchae .  For the phrase, see the discussion in GP .–.
 Jack Mitchell in a recent Stanford dissertation (: –) argues on the basis of markings on
Homeric papyri that the separation of reading from performance may be a modern concept. If he
is correct, then students would have automatically acted out the characters as they read.

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Dramatic performance 
as here, the elegiac couplet. Could this metrical trick hint at the grander
scheme of Callimachus’ poetics, namely his penchant for absorbing other
genres into his own generic frames?
According to the Suda Callimachus too wrote for the stage – tragedies,
comedies, and satyr plays. Most scholars do not regard the entry as
accurate, though a contributing factor has always been disbelief in
the existence of Alexandrian drama performed at such an early period.
And yet tragedy figures in four of Callimachus’ epigrams (, , , 
GP = , , ,  Pf.), a surprising number from a relatively small, varied
corpus. Not, in this case, allusion to earlier tragedy, or tragedies, but rather
to features of its production: tragic masks ( GP), tragic competition
( GP), and tragic speech ( GP). Ep.  GP refers to the poet’s own
tragic composition, and there is no reason to assume that the speaker is
other than Callimachus. The epigram employs the technical language
of instructing a tragic chorus: line : ' ’ # +Y ’ 7   ,,
“but if he had directed one play,” and lines –:
 &O | I$,
“and I, who did this/composed this” plays on the double meaning of the
verb. Ovid’s Medea would in any case suggest caution before immediately
dismissing the Suda entry: no one would credit Ovid with a tragedy on
this theme without independent corroboration of its existence. Whether
or not Callimachus composed dramatic works, the Suda does suggest that
earlier commentators did not find the idea inherently implausible, and
given the highly mimetic quality of Callimachus’ poetry, it would be in
any event easy to assume that he wrote for the stage. However, he is not
figured in ancient assessments of Hellenistic drama, so if he wrote plays
they could not have been a very memorable part of his corpus. In the th
Iambus Callimachus claimed Ion of Chios as his model for multi-generic
composition; the fact that Ion wrote tragedies, satyr plays, and dithyrambs,
as well as encomia, paeans, elegies, and hymns does not necessarily mean
that Callimachus did so as well, but this poem might have conditioned the
entry in the Suda.

 Ruth Scodel, in a paper delivered at the University of Chicago in , pointed out that the phrase
is anapestic in the Bacchae, but here, with the initial iota long, it also fits the pentameter.
 E.g., Schwinge : –; Cameron : –, however, argues for its validity.
 McKenzie : ,  thinks the theater dates to Philadelphus, but without independent evidence:
she cites Athenaeus (Callixinus) on the Ptolemaia.
 So D’Alessio : – n. .
 Selection for school purposes could account for the survival of some of Callimachus’ poems:
Athenaeus, for example, claims that he read Callimachus’ epigrams in school (c). Topicality
accounts for a number of others: there are currently over  fragments from Egypt, including his
epinicians and the Lock of Berenice.

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 The sounds of reading
His own poetry has been invoked to support the argument that he
shunned popular art forms and preferred an art of intellectual refinement.
But these are not inevitable readings of the texts in question. The epigram
above on the mask of Dionysus is not an indication of Callimachus’ dislike
of tragedy so much as a comment on the banality of educational practice.
(To object to hearing high school students recite Shakespeare is not the
same as objecting to productions at the Old Vic.) It is even possible to
understand Ep. .– Pf. – “A short speech befits the good poet, Dionysus.
His longest speech is ‘I win’ . . . for me, O lord, brevity” – as a plea for
success in dramatic competition. More likely though it is a plea for success
in other forms of poetic competition, since by the third century Dionysus
had extended his sphere of influence over all musical and poetic events.
However, the conjunction of Dionysus and “I won” does mark the speaker
as a participant in formal competitions, and it fits with much of the other
evidence we discuss in this chapter for Callimachus’ persona as a performer.
Whether or not this meant he actually performed, it is significant that he
does not list poetic contests in his catalogue of dislikes.
His epigram – “I hate all common things” ( GP =  Pf.) – has been
cited as evidence that Callimachus despised New Comedy.
) &
) % ,,    4
 & S      .2·
2  &.
 7,  ’ '&) O
&· + &/

K%, S  +  )  , – '  & #&8 

 . , I+ .
 · ‘1  *+.’
I hate the cyclical poem, nor do I enjoy a path that carries many hither and yon.
I also despise a roving lover, nor do I drink from any font. I despise all that is
common. Lysanias, you are fair, yes fair. Yet before this is said clearly, some echo
says “he is another’s.”
In place of the common or popular, Callimachus is thought to prefer
the recondite or the obscure, rejecting cyclic poetry and the peripatetic
lover of new comedy (2  &.
 7). At the close of
the previous chapter, we argued that Callimachus’ “rejection” of popular
venues was coincident with a homoerotic epigram attributed to Plato,
and that elements within it could be read as part of a deliberate strategy
of ironizing the anti-democratic positions associated with Socrates (even

 So Cameron : .  Theocritus’ Idylls , , and  indicate this as well.
 Thomas : .

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Dramatic performance 
while appropriating them). At this point it is worth considering an even
earlier model:
A+ ) 1 ,  %E2  &/
 R :. *+% ,. –
A+  $%8 &  1 
6 ' 
’ 1% ':.
I hate a bad man, and veiled I pass him, keeping my mind light as a small bird’s.
I hate the roving woman, and the lecherous man, who wants to plow another’s
These lines from the Theognidea shift the perspective from aesthetic
hates to erotic (and political). Callimachus’ recall of these lines is clear: he
alters &  to &.
 (the two-termination adjective allows for
the slippage in gender), and he replaces the sexually explict “plow another’s
furrow” with the implicit image of drinking from a fountain. Finally the
lightness of the mind in the one is transformed into the faint sounds
of an echo in the other. The worldview of the Theognidea is essentially
conservative, one that prefers the aristocratic and select to the popular
and democratic. Viewed through the lenses of Theognis and Plato, it is
not drama or even epic that is essential for understanding Callimachus’
poem, but the setting of the aristocratic symposium, with its homoerotic
social construction, in conjunction with the equally aristocratic world of
philosophical competition.
But to return to theater: far from despising comic forms Callimachus has
a predilection for Old Comedy and iambic modes of expression as evinced
by his use of Aristophanes’ Frogs at the opening of the Aetia and in the th
Iambus. Again this may be a reaction to Plato’s own expressed aversion to
tragedy and comedy (opinions that were posed within the context of wider
argument, not necessarily as real reflections of personal taste). Aristophanes,
like Plato, has taken on a serious aesthetic problem – which poetic style best
serves the state. If Aristophanes’ choice of Aeschylean high sentiment made
sense in the late fifth century as a means of arousing the fighting spirits of
the citizen soldiery, Callimachus’ re-calibration of the scales, signaled via
his use of the verb 2  and other Aristophanic allusions, makes it clear
that his preference is not for the grand (and weighty) poetry of Aeschylus
but the lightness of Euripides and the poetry of persuasion. Within the
confines of an imperial court persuasion is a sine qua non and therefore
makes excellent political sense, but Callimachus’ preference for Euripides
at a key moment in the Aetia Prologue has further poetic ramifications,
which also function as a segue into the next section on lyric.

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 The sounds of reading
Aeschylus represented traditional musical norms, while in his choruses
Euripides was an early advocate of the newer musical styles that Plato
inveighed against in the Republic and Laws, and that Aristophanes con-
sistently pillories in the Frogs as well as in other plays. What has come
to be called New Music can be dated from the end of the fifth century
and included Agathon, Euripides, and Ion of Chios among the tragedians,
Timotheus and Philoxenus among the dithyrambists. Since Callimachus’
poetry is not usually considered in the context of performed music, the
coincidence of elements of his style with those of the New Music has not
been a subject for analysis. Yet, the New Music included an increased
interest in the aesthetics of sound over logical exposition; experimentation
with elements of language, including the figures of repetition – homoioteleu-
ton, anaphora, and alliteration; increased mixing of modes and song styles
(polyeideia); greater use of mimesis within narrative exposition via direct
speech; and (in choral lyric and dithyramb) a movement away from the
restrictions of strophic composition to freer semantic units with complex
stichic meters. The majority of these features belong to Callimachus’ verse
as well, and at least two of them – his polyeideia and his mimetic practice –
are voiced as complaints by his critics in the th Iambus, where he claims
another New Musician (and tragedian), Ion of Chios, as his model. His
interest in euphonics places him in a continuum with the New Music
and the later critic, Crates of Mallos, who emphasized the sensory (and
emotional) values of poetry over narrative coherence (or ,$ ). In Plato
and Aristotle these non-logocentric features of New Music were regarded
as pandering to the evolving public taste in contrast to the traditional
music associated with élite manhood. However, Callimachus’ tragic pref-
erences (Euripides, Ion) would have aligned him with this more popular
In fact, many of the supposedly recondite features of Callimachus’ poetry
were equally associated with popular taste in public performance. Timo-
theus’ Persae is an excellent example of New Music, filled with obscure
compounds and metaphorical periphrases that make comprehension a
challenge. Yet Timotheus’ nome was popular when it was written, and it
continued to be performed for centuries. At the conclusion of the Persae,
Timotheus famously defines his poetry as novel and the victim of hostile

 West : –.  See now Prauscello .  See Csapo : –.
 See Asmis b: –.  Hordern : –.

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Dramatic performance 
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But you who foster the new-fashioned Muse of the golden lyre, come as ally to my
hymns, iêie Paian. For Sparta’s great leader, well-born and long-lived, the people
abounding in the flowers of youth, blazing torments me and drives me with fiery
blame, alleging that I, with my new hymns, dishonor the more traditional Muse.
But I keep off neither young, nor old, nor contemporary from these hymns. Rather
the ancient Muse-soilers, these I keep off, corruptors of songs, straining cries of
far-heard shrill-voiced heralds.

The singer of this dithyrambic nome frames his poetic style in terms
of “new-fashioned” and “traditional” Muses, and in terms of a polemic
waged by a heroic, and a singular poetic “I” against the Spartan ephors
and the populace in general. The artistic struggle Timotheus so vividly
describes is representative of the New Music’s reception by conservative
artistic and social critics in many other sources. It is not clear if Timo-
theus’ struggle with his critics had any historical basis, but there was a
thriving anecdotal tradition that allowed for such a struggle from at least
the second century bc. In the earliest-attested anecdote, Timotheus was
supposedly performing at the Spartan Carneia with a lyre that had more
than the traditional seven strings. When asked to remove the extra strings,
he pointed to a statue of Apollo, whose lyre held the same number as
his own. Other anecdotes include his conviction for this offense, modeled
on Socrates’ conviction for introducing novel gods, and a story that the

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 The sounds of reading
offending lyre hung in the Spartan agora. It is not necessary to belabor the
parallels with Callimachus’ Aetia Prologue. Even if they are not allusively
related, they suggest that the rejection of musical and/or poetic innovation
seems already to have become a topos, readily available for Callimachus to
Callimachus certainly defined his own poetry as novel in terms similar
to those found in Timotheus and Ion, a novelty banished by Plato, and
an innovative lightness mocked in comedy. Euripides seems be the lens
through which Callimachus refracts these perspectives in the Aetia Pro-
logue. Euripides’ presence is reinforced a few lines after the image of the
weighing of poetry that Callimachus has taken from Aristophanes’ Frogs.
He next invokes a number of vivid images of old age from a chorus in
Euripides’ Hercules Furens. The old men sing that age lies upon their
heads as a weight heavier than the rocks of Mt. Aetna (lines –), but
since there is no remedy from the gods they will not cease from song (lines
–); they will continue to sing a Dionysiac song and an Apollonian one
from aging mouths, like the swan ():

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) K
: J&  $,,
 %  +· 
& ’ 7& 8  /

 See the discussion in Hordern : –. For Timotheus and the Spartans, see Csapo : –.
He points out that in the heated rhetoric about New Music, Crete, Sparta, and sometimes Egypt
came to signify conservative sociocultural values.
 The importance of this chorus for the Aetia Prologue has been discussed by a number of scholars.
See Scodel ; Massimilla : –; Fantuzzi and Hunter : –; and D’Alessio :
 n. .

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Dramatic performance 
4 { $2 ' )
&  7 $4
I shall not cease mingling the Graces with the Muses, the sweetest of yokings.
May I not live without music ('% ), but always be crowned. Even as an aged
singer, then, may I celebrate Memory. I still sing the victory song of Heracles,
beside Bromius, the giver of wine, the song of the seven-stringed lyre, and Libyan
aulos. Never shall I stop the Muses who dance with me. The Delian maidens sing
a paean around the doors of the temple for the fair offspring of Leto, whirling in
their fair dances. And paeans in your chambers will I, an old singer, like the swan,
celebrate from cheeks that are gray.
The Aetia continues with Callimachus’ alleviation of old age by “min-
gling” with the Muses. In addition, two papyri preserve as lemmata some
first words of the lines that came between what are now Aetia frr.  and 
Pf. These include an apparent invocation to the Muses to bring material
to the poet’s memory (fr. a. Pf. addendum: ']O
, “might you
remind me”). According to the Florentine Scholia (on frr. –. Pf.) the
first subject that the Muses take up is the Graces, preceded by the poet’s
 :, 7 2$ ’ 7EO &
+8 78 , X  &% S 2 *
Be kindly now, and wipe your anointed hands upon my elegies, that for me they
may last for many a year. (fr. .– Pf.)
The Graces, old age, and memory figured as physical texts (‘my elegies’)
serve to translate the choral idiom of tragedy into a form in which the
poet is the singer, and both the subject and the conveyor of memory. Lucia
Prauscello makes two further, and very significant points about this chorus
of Euripides: in contrast to the association of violence and destructiveness
with Dionysiac music found in the rest of the play, here the aulos (symbolic
of Dionysus) and the lyre (symbolic of Apollo) are joined, and together they
accompany the old men’s song (&/
 +2 % 5&

,% |  & 
K%  ,). She also observes that elements from this stasimon seem
to appear in the Laws. For example, when he is extolling the virtues of
invoking Apollo Paean for those choristers under thirty (c–), Plato
additionally prescribes wine and Dionysiac choral dancing for old men as
a way to bring back youth (b).

 PLit.Lond.  and POxy. . ; for discussion of the placement of these fragments see Harder
: .. The verb suggests the possibility of allusion to Plato and his theory of anamnesis.

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 The sounds of reading
Callimachus seems not to have disdained classical drama but to have had
distinct preferences, and his taste for Euripides matches the preference for
that poet over other tragedians that is found in early Ptolemaic papyri. It is
also possible that Callimachus’ style of combining narrative and embedded
ritual was derived from later dramatists like Euripides and Aristophanes.
Claude Calame’s discussion of musical mimesis in Aristophanic comedy,
for example, has much that is relevant to Callimachus’ poetic practice.
However, tragedy and comedy as generic entities played a less central
role in Callimachus’ poetry than lyric, elegy, and hexameter. This no
doubt resulted from a number of factors: he was Cyrenean by birth, where
drama was not the commanding poetic force that it would have been in
Athens; his poetry displays some bias in favor of comic/iambic modes of
expression rather than tragic; within the context of an imperial court, the
most efficient way to distinguish oneself as a poet was not by writing for
the many, but by addressing persuasive fictions to those with power; and
finally, in dialogue with Plato, he reaffirms the power and importance
of the personal poetic voice (' , ) and therefore would have been most
attracted towards those poets who asserted their poetic identity, like Hesiod,
Hipponax, Pindar, Sappho, or Simonides. His reservations about tragedy,
when he does express them, seem to be about sound. Most revealing is
an historical note supposedly from his hypomnemata that claims: “of old
tragedy is said to have been   ” (fr.  Pf.). The solo songlike
aspect of tragedy is no longer apparent in the masked performance of the

$  whose hollow-sounding voice is mentioned twice in the Iambi:
the voice of the tragic Muse speaking as though through a lekythos in
fr. : C

$ ) : %T% (Iambi unplaced) is surely to
be understood in connection with Iambus .–, where tragic actors have
the voice of those who dwell in the sea.

Callimachus’ preference for    is especially signaled at the very begin-
ning of the Aetia when Apollo (the patron of lyric, not tragedy or epic)
 Calame .
 Immisch :  n.  long ago saw that the two passages should be connected and suggested
that the “voice of those dwelling in the sea” was the hollow sound produced from the conch
shell. Kerkhecker : – objects that
 /  . #.[4
 should refer to fish, but see
Athenaeus c-d for a disquisition on the various “children of the sea” whose voices are reported
by poets. These are all mollusks. Also . #.[4
 is almost entirely restored, and even the first two
letters are in doubt. The other two animal voices in Iambus  are specific – a dog and a parrot. It
may be that the missing word is the name of a shellfish.

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Lyric 
commands Callimachus to grow his sheep fat but keep his Muse slender
( &
 2). This word, which takes on programmatic status in Hellenis-
tic poetry, is used only once in Homer’s Iliad, in a passage on the shield of
Achilles that describes a young singer (.–):

8 ’ 7 2 &/U .,$$ $
, /T,  ’ D&)  ) 1  
 2 .·

’ #%$
In the midst [sc. of the harvesters] a boy played gracefully on a clear-voiced lyre,
and sang a fair Linus song in his slender voice. And they followed with singing
and cries of joy and danced with their feet.
The boy sings what appears to be a harvest song, but the “Linus” song
was often associated with the dirge; for that reason Alexandrian critics
often extended the range of the “Linus” song to accommodate this passage
in Homer as well as later appearances in the tragedians. The “Linus” song
is also related to elegy, in that, as M. L. West puts it, “[f]or the occasion of
loss and bereavement there was evidently a kind of lament . . . called elegos
or elegoi,” that was taken to be the origin of elegiac poetry. Homer’s boy
sings accompanied by a lyre while elegy was accompanied by an aulos, but
the association of the “Linus” song and elegos with lament, suggests that
the allusion at the opening of the Aetia – a poetic manifesto in elegiacs –
may have at its core some contemporary discussion about the origins of
monodic song. Especially since Callimachus resembles Homer’s singer in
obvious ways: he marks himself as a boy (&8 [
) in the complaint of
the Telchines; his song is $4 , or light and slender; and in this particular
poem his meter is elegiac couplets. But in less obvious ways as well: Homer’s
singing child inserts a monodic or personal voice into the heroic Iliad, and
if, for a moment, Homer via the musical performances on the shield moves
his audience away from the framing war poem, Callimachus reorders the
priorities by signaling his allegiance via the Homeric allusion to the small,

 Nagy : – points out that the verb D&/  should mean that the young singer accompanied
the choral singing and dancing. For a discussion of this passage see Stephens –: –.
 Pindar in a fragment of a threnos lists themes for lament, including Linus (.: v   +

K >  m. “One [song] sang ‘ailinos’ for fair-haired Linus”). Herodotus (.) claims it
is a dirge and derived from Egypt. He calls it Egypt’s 1 =. See Stephens –: –.
 See the Hercules Furens – and Athenaeus’ comments at c. Ancient critics also attempted to
emend the passage in Homer, see Rengakos : –, .
 West : .
 See, e.g., PMG , the B-scholium on this Homeric passage that connects Linus, lament, and lyric
(2  ).

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 The sounds of reading
melodic mode of self-expression exactly when his critics are complaining
about his failure to write “one long continuous poem on the deeds of kings?
[ . . . or . . . ] heroes.” There is one further intertextual echo that Homeric
readers are bound to have heard. In book , Achilles in his temporary
withdrawal from the battle (or the world at war) is found accompanying
himself on his “clear-voiced lyre” (.,$$ $, .), as he sings of
the deeds of heroes (1  ’ 1  2 ' ). Callimachus’ readers will
hear both lyres – Achilles’ and the boy’s – as intertextual concessions within
epic to the personal voice of lyric as the Aetia begins.
Whatever the original meter(s) of the “Linus” song, it is significant that
Callimachus has begun his prologue with allusion to a passage in Homer
where an alien metrical form (we must assume, lyric) has been appropriated
for and reformed within hexameter. In the Archaic and Classical periods
lyric might be sung or recited by an individual with or without instrumental
accompaniment, or sung by a chorus of girls or women or boys or men,
who might also have danced. Monodic lyric supposedly belonged to the
more restricted environment of the aristocratic symposium, choral lyric
to the public festival and religious occasions. Choral singing and dancing
certainly continue in the Hellenistic period; for example, there were prizes
for the dithyrambic choruses of boys and of men recorded in the grand
procession of the Ptolemaia, choral prizes at Cyrene, and theoriai regularly
sent to Delos and Delphi. But, not surprisingly, the role of the citizen-
performer, the amateur chorus of the independent poleis, was yielding to
the touring professional. As part of this shift, whether the cause or the
result, the chorus itself became subsidiary to musical accompaniment that
took on a solo or virtuoso voice. Lyric poems, some even with musical
notation, continue to be written, and lyric continues to be sung by
choruses (though in reduced numbers), by solo singers, or even recited by
Callimachus is said by the Suda to have written lyric poems (2 ), but
none of his surviving poems is strophic; poems that are usually identified as
his 2  (frr. – Pf.) are composed in rare stichic meters – phalaecian,
catalectic choriambic pentameters, archebulean. He also wrote epinicia,

 This may be a common technique of lyric; Sappho, for example, realigns Homeric values in fr. .
 And given the debates about the passage and the nature of the “Linus” song, it might well have
served as an early example or even authorization of generic boundary transgression.
 Bowie , Nagy : . Davies : – emphasizes that the triadic structure of lyric is not
an infallible indication of choral composition.
 Rutherford , West : –. Though West notes () that the dithyramb is “virtually desacral-
 See West : – for a list of poetic fragments with musical notation.
 For a discussion of these poems, see Acosta-Hughes .

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The paean 
poems for which Pindar used either Aeolic or dactylo-epitritic strophes,
two in elegiacs (the Victories of Berenice and Sosibius), a third in iambics.
It is not clear what to make of this. Does his preference for stichic meters
reflect a poetry now of the book (as most scholars assume)? Callimachus’
metrical preferences might well indicate that his poems were not written
for choruses to dance, but they do not preclude performance as recitation
or as solo or accompanied song. A. Cameron goes further, arguing that
if Callimachus were truly a book poet we should have expected him to
compose in the same meters as Pindar or Alcaeus, and that “it is surely
no coincidence that Hellenistic poets more or less confined themselves to
the three meters still available for performance.” Metrical practices, in
other words, are not yet wholly detachable from music or at least a musical
sensibility. Also, it is worth remembering that three centuries later Horace,
who was much more of a book poet than Callimachus could have been,
wrote strophic meters in imitation of Sappho and Alcaeus, and if we did not
have evidence to support it, who would imagine that his carmen saeculare
had been performed at a public event in Rome? Cameron’s observation
may be taken a bit further: at least a century before Callimachus, the New
Music broke with traditional strophic choral lyric by moving towards freer,
flowing astrophic lines that facilitated vocal and instrumental pyrotechnics.
If Callimachus’ own poetic practice has a number of affinities with the
New Music, might his metrical experiments be a refinement or response to
previous innovation, in which he experimented with the balance between
astrophic freedom and strophic confinement? Metrical practices point to a
complex reality: poets and audiences in the early Hellenistic period would
have had a very wide range of expectations for lyric – it might be solo
or choral, musically accompanied or recited, stichic or strophic, public or
private. All of these possibilities must be factored into the discussion of
mimesis or imitation in Callimachus’ repertory.

the paean
The paean provides an instructive example of the complexity of the prob-
lem. Modern discussions of the paeans of the archaic and classical periods
focus less on formal elements like characteristic meter than on the context
of performance – originally paeans seem to be connected to worship of

 Fr.  (th Iambus). This is extremely fragmentary, see Kerkhecker : –.
 It is worth recalling that much of Sappho was in lyric distichs. The survival of proportionally more
of book , in Sapphic strophe, however, conditions us to see strophic composition as the default
 Cameron :  lists hexameters, elegiacs, and iambics, but other meters are also found.

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 The sounds of reading
Apollo and by extension divinities associated with him like Asclepius. Ian
Rutherford would even more specifically locate them as “icon[s] of sol-
idarity among male members of the community. . . . Both in war and in
peace, men performing the paean act on behalf of the polis as a whole.”
But paeans (as well as other hymn forms) are found embedded in tragic
choruses, a circumstance that already in the fifth century is at one remove
from performance of a paean in cultic worship. Paeans continued to be
written during the Hellenistic and well into the Roman periods, but their
subject was no longer restricted to Apollo or the more traditional gods –
Demetrius of Phalerum wrote paeans to Serapis. The Rhodians, who
established a cult to Ptolemy I in  bc also honored him with a paean.
It is a reasonable inference that it was performed at a public festival, since
Athenaeus’ source for the information was a treatise by Gorgon, On the
Rhodian Festivals. Many of these later paeans were more commonly writ-
ten in stichic meters. There were also professional performers of paeans,
the so-called paianistai, attested in a number of locations. Though the
evidence falls outside of our period of interest, paianistai are especially well
attested in Roman Egypt: a copy of a paean to Asclepius has been found
in the city of Ptolemais Hormou (dated to ad ), an earlier version of
which has been found from fourth century bc Erthyrae. Therefore there
is a clear sense of connection, even though these Egyptian paianistai were
now attached to the cult of Serapis and ruler cult. Further, Rutherford has
suggested that the papyrus roll of Pindar’s paeans (POxy. .) may have
come originally from this same Ptolemais Hormou. If he is right, within
Egypt paean performance seems to have had a long and evolving tradition

 Rutherford : . Though even in the Archaic period he admits that a paean was sometimes
performed at the symposium. Choral performance as a factor in building a community was surely
important in the Hellenistic period as well.
 D.L. ..
 Hölbl : , and Ath. f. Athenaeus claims the poem counted as a paean because of its refrain:
iê paian, on which see below. See West : –, and for examples of paeans with musical notation,
see Pohlmann-West : –, –, and Fantuzzi  for a discussion of Isyllus’ paean.
 Rutherford : –. “In the post-classical period stichic meters become common, and it seems
likely that this change in metrical structure signifies that texts were no longer performed, at least
not in such an elaborate way” ().
 Paianistai are first recorded in Rhodes in the nd century bc (IG XII [] .), though earlier
professional paean-singers with different names (i.e., Molpoi) are known, see Rutherford : –
. The reading &
 occurs in Menander’s Dyscolus, . In his edition of the play
E. Handley retains the reading (see his long comment ad loc., pp. –) though Sandbach in his
later edition would emend to -
/ .
 Rutherford : –. Ptolemais is one of the oldest Ptolemaic settlements in Egypt, and a number
of its deme eponyms were associated with the myth of Danaus. See Fraser : ..

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The paean 
that included preserving the past (Pindar’s poems) as well as creating new
poems for altered circumstances.
The fact that paean composition was an ongoing practice with various
performance options, not all of which were cultic, surely contributed to the
difficulties the Alexandrian scholars had in categorizing it, and to the often-
observed fact that these scholars were less interested in the performance
practices that generated the poetry (as we now are) than in finding formal
criteria for identifying a poem as a paean. POxy. ., a commentary
on a poem of Bacchylides, provides evidence of this. A now fragmentary
remark indicates that Callimachus classified Bacchylides’ poem as a paean
because of the refrain (6 O at its end). But a century later Aristarchus took
exception, classifying the poem as a dithyramb (lines –), on the grounds
that the refrain could not be restricted to paean. Timotheus’ dithyrambic
nome Persae includes toward its end the generically surprising lines 78
* ’ 7&% m #O -/. Callimachus also wrote a hymn to
Apollo in dactylic hexameters (like the Homeric hymns). It is paean-like
in its narrative and includes at several places (lines , , , ) the
refrain (6 O or 6 6 &). Rutherford claims that Callimachus
employs ‘generic allusion’ to compensate for loss of performance in these
poems, but this raises a series of questions. If paeans in the Hellenistic
period continue to be written, and in stichic as well as strophic meters;
if paeans continue to be performed, though in ways that differed from
classical practice; and if Callimachus thought inclusion of the refrain 6
& made the poem a paean, how is it possible to distinguish generic
allusion in a poem from a poem that contains the refrain because its author
thought he was writing a paean? Suppose Callimachus wrote his poem
not for a ritual within cult but for some other performance venue? Would

 In fact, the Egyptian paianistai may have been the ancestors of those found in Rome: see Oliver
: –.
 D’Alessio in his review of Schröder  (BMCR ..) lays out the issues most clearly.
 This passage is much discussed: see Rutherford : –; Schröder : –, D’Alessio’s
review, loc. cit. –; and Fearn : –. The status of the cry 6 &/ was a subject of some
interest in antiquity: both the meaning and the scansion were disputed, see Athenaeus (c–d
for the derivation of the term and f for alternative scansions). Also, Callimachus writes in
his Hecale that when Theseus returned to Hecale’s house dragging the bull of Marathon, all the
bystanders raised up the paian cry (fr . Hollis = SH . = . Pf.). Editors point out
that Callimachus alludes to Bacchylides . when at Theseus’ triumphant return from the sea
the heroic youth raise the paian (&/).
 : –. He is “strongly tempted to call [Callimachus’ hymn] a paean; at the very least it is a
sensitive and beautiful homage to the genre” ().
 The complex relationship of the narrating “I” to the chorus and Apollo is not an impediment to
performance. See by way of parallel G.-B. D’Alessio’s  study of the complexities of deixis in
archaic poetry or Fearn’s observations on voice : –.

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 The sounds of reading
it still be a paean? If we do accept the idea of generic allusion to a fictional
cultic performance event, to what do we imagine Callimachus alludes?
Is it a form of contemporary performance? Or is it an archaic tradition
(the performance practice of which in Callimachus’ day was likely to have
been disputed)? This encapsulates the paradox of bookishness – whatever
Callimachus knew about earlier paeans, he also lived in a world in which
lyric, as part of a festival or religious event, was a living practice, and
unfortunately contemporary scholars are less familiar with its regional
dynamics than with poetry from earlier periods.

“lyrics” for alexandria

The hymn/paean to Apollo was centered on Cyrene, an old city with its own
well-developed traditions of cultic performance. Callimachus’ composition
on the death and deification of Arsinoe II (fr.  Pf.) was written for a spe-
cific event in Alexandria. PBerol.  preserves  lines of this poem, and it
may have been considerably longer. The opening half of what remains, with
the exception of the first line, preserved by the Diegesis, is very fragmentary.
Nonetheless, there are several elements that shed light on the ‘lyric’ style
of the poem. Callimachus writes in stichic archebulean, t–r–r–r–
k––, a rare meter apparently revived by and named after Archebulus of
Thera early in the Hellenistic period. Although isolated cola may have
appeared in earlier lyric poets, there is not enough to form a judgment about
the meter’s social context. However, H. Lloyd-Jones points out that the
meter would not have occurred 
+ much before Callimachus.
According to the Suda entry on Euphorion, Archebulus was one of that
poet’s teachers (and also his older lover). If true, Archebulus would have
been a contemporary of Callimachus, and E. Lelli may be right to posit
a cultural link between the two because of their respective homelands,
Thera and Cyrene. The dialect of the poem is Doric, perhaps because
of its Theran and Cyrenean metrical roots, but also perhaps to highlight
Arsinoe’s Doric heritage via Macedon. Posidippus also uses Doric in his
epigram on three Ptolemaic victories at Olympia ( A–B), where he takes

 Testimonia about the meter are printed as SH .

 Lloyd-Jones : . Possible occurrences include Ibycus (= PMG ), Alcman (Hephaestion,
p.  Consbruch), and Stesichorus (= PMG , and see Haslam :  n. ).
 Lloyd-Jones : . He suggests that PMich. Inv.  (= SH ), written in Doric dialect,
might also be archebulean and belong to Callimachus.
 Lelli : –, who calls attention to the affinity of the dialect of this poem and that of the Doric
of tragic choruses.

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“Lyrics” for Alexandria 
pains to emphasize the Macedonian (Eordean) lineage of the current kings
of Egypt.
It is difficult to imagine that this poem could have been composed
very long after Arsinoe’s death in July . The immediacy of the smoke
from the pyre (lines –), the lamentations that fill the city (lines –),
the queen now gone (line : v
2] .   .4 ), the grieving
husband (line : . 2$ $2
 ) all point to composition shortly after
the event and suggest that the poem is to be connected formally with the
threnos. The repeated allusions to Andromache’s grief at Hector’s death
underline this – the demise of the Egyptian queen is celebrated with one of
the oldest, and most familiar Greek examples of threnoi and gooi, the burial
of Hector. Callimachus begins by invoking Apollo (and those singing
with him are surely the Muses) to lead the way ('$2
), while he follows
Apollo’s direction: “steps to the god’s hand.” These lines describe the ritual
of mourning, even extending the image of the mourners to cities [clothed
in] black.
 &,  D
2[ 
 + B 7& 
+· ' /

[] $/  7[,

  #+[2] 9,  .% [

 ’ [ >]  , 2  ['.

+) 1
· [U
. [ 

Lamentations . . . your city . . . not as for one of the more common [folk] . . . land.
But something of the great . . . they weep for your one sister who has died, [she
herself]. Wherever you look the cities of the land [are clothed in] black. Our
power . . .
Philotera, a sister of Arsinoe who had died previously and been divinized,
appears to be the main, speaking character. Like Andromache learning
about the death of Hector, Philotera learns of the sad event at a distance,
and sends her companion, Charis, to Mt. Athos to discover the details.
The scene of the funeral pyre that Charis reports, as she hastens to dispel
worries that the city is burning, may also be indebted to Euripides, Trojan
Women –, where the chorus laments Troy in flames. The epic
models intensify the loss, but also add contrast. The loss of Arsinoe is
analogous to that of Hector, with gender reversal – it is the husband who

 For the parallels, see di Benedetto : –, and D’Alessio :  n.  and  n. .
In Plato’s Ion the lamentations of Andromache (b) are among the purple passages Socrates
mentions as particularly characteristic of emotionally charged rhapsodic performance.
 The Muses sing the threnos for Achilles in Odyssey ..

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 The sounds of reading
mourns (lines –), and Arsinoe who through the allusion becomes heroic
and the city’s bulwark. But Hector died and was ashes, a tombstone, and
a memory. Arsinoe becomes immortal. Her soul was snatched up by the
Dioscuri to become a constellation. She, like Helen and Aphrodite, with
whom she was associated in cult, will go on to be an object of veneration,
while Alexandria, unlike the Troy that was burned to the ground, is a
new city rising to prominence. Was this poem performed? Certainly, the
opportunity existed. There would have been elaborate funerary rites at
Arsinoe’s death, the more so if a mortuary temple was dedicated to her.
Professional mourners to sing or chant the threnoi were a very familiar
feature of Greek death rituals, and Egyptian as well. But in contrast to
the Hymn to Apollo, with its clear performance markings for a familiar
festival of Apollo, the Cyrenean Carneia, there is not enough of this poem
to enable one to ascertain other cult features with any degree of security.
Fr.  Pf. is one of four fragments (–) that are associated with
the Iambi in several papyri, and follow the Iambi without an intervening
title or other distinctive marker in the Diegesis. Although Pfeiffer classed
these poems as W2  (“Lyrics”), the scholarship on them has long focused
on the question of whether they do not in fact belong to the Iambi, and
this has diverted attention from their occasional nature. The meter of fr.
 Pf. was probably stichic phalaecians. Although almost nothing survives,
it included a narrative about the Lemnian women who had murdered their
male kin. The Lemnian episode was crucial to the colonization myth
of Cyrene: in Pythian .–, for example, Medea prophesies that by
plowing “the foreign furrows” of the Lemnian women the Argonauts would
plant the seed that in future generations would come to settle Cyrene, and
the Argonauts’ sojourn on Lemnos in Apollonius’ Argonautica is a central
episode in book . The last line of the Diegesis to this fragment includes a
second person plural address: ,&  D8 | #
) 2  '& 2&

(“accordingly you too look to the future”), which suggests that an internal
audience figured in the poem. (There is no similar apostrophe in any of
the other Diegesis fragments.) The diegete also claims: &)
S B%
., “he speaks to the beautiful young men”, but it is not clear whether
this is the diegete’s inference or belongs to the narrative events of the poem.
The Diegesis to fr.  Pf. provides a distinctive occasion for the poem, a
pannychis, or all-night revel in honor of the Dioscuri, and “he also hymns
 On this issue cf. Acosta-Hughes ; Kerkhecker : –; Cameron : –; Clayman
: –, –. Lelli’s  commentary on these four is simply entitled Callimachi Iambi XIV-
 KO , was also a proverb: see Zenobius ..

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“Lyrics” for Alexandria 
Helen and asks her to accept the sacrifice.” The Dioscuri were certainly
worshipped in Alexandria: early dedications even indicate that Ptolemy II
and Ptolemy III were sunnaoi, that is co-templed with them. Callimachus
associates Helen with Pharos in the Victory for Berenice, and apparently an
Alexandrian deme ( 2 ) was named after her, but whether or not she
was the formal recipient of cult is less clear. Hephaestion says the meter
was the fourteen-syllable “Euripidean.” The poem begins:

’ F&, 
 4 '4·

 Ih,· *
Apollo is in the chorus, I hear the lyre. And I just perceived the Erotes. And here
is Aphrodite.
Callimachus’ Branchus (fr.  Pf.) was written in catalectic choriambic
pentameters. What survives concerns Branchus, a young shepherd beloved
of Apollo, to whom he gives the gift of prophecy. Branchus was the founder
of the cult of Apollo at Didyma near Miletus, and in the fragment he
carries a shoot from Apollo’s Delphic laurel to plant in the new sanctuary.
To judge from the parallels, the verb 
/+ again suggests the initiation
of a performance (lines –):
+8  Q .]’ 1[], J[] $/[]

, ’ 7$H 
X d#4] # 1[]
%   . '&’ * QO %,
Hail Lord Delphinius, for so I begin with this name of yours, since a dolphin
(delphis) brought you from Delos to the Ecusian city.
As several scholars have observed, Callimachus’ interest in the episode of
Apollo and Branchus is very probably connected with the re-foundation of
the oracle of Apollo at Didyma and with contemporary Ptolemaic interest
in Miletus. With respect to the former, the temple had a particular
kind of performance associated with it: citizen-singers, known as Molpoi,
performed paeans as they processed along the sacred route from Miletus
to Didyma. With respect to the latter, Lelli’s suggestion that fr. .:
 6 $2  (“holy line of our lords”) refers to the Ptolemies
is especially attractive. Too little remains for certainty, but it does seem
 Dieg. X – Pf. (.). On the pannychis see Bravo , and on this poem specifically, –.
 Fraser : ., who argues that Arsinoe II played a role in establishing their cult in Alexandria.
 Fraser : . n. .
 On the pannychis see Bravo , on this poem specifically pp. –.
 See Lavecchia : .  Cameron : ; Parke : , –.
 Rutherford : , who thinks this may be “an imitation of a cult hymn in honor of Didymean
 : .

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 The sounds of reading
as if this “lyric” too had a strong potential for performance. At the very
least it recalled a contemporary site for performance, and very possibly a
unique local troupe (the Molpoi).
The standard interpretation of the four poems that Pfeiffer has catego-
rized as lyric is that they are literary in nature; they do not belong to a
genuine but to an imagined ritual event. But how does this differ from
such imagined scenes in archaic lyric (for example, Sappho fr.  or Pindar’s
nd Dithyramb)? How is it possible to know whether poems such as these
were not originally conceived for performance? With respect to archaic
poetry, the fact that a poem has a textual life does not preclude it from
having an original occasion for performance. (Nor did it preclude Horace’s
carmen saeculare from doing so.) The additional fact that at least three of
these poems are connected to specific locations where ritual performance
could have taken place – by professionals (whether technitai or paian-
istai) or by local choruses (Alexandrian mourners or Molpoi) – does not
require that Callimachus’ poems were also performed. But it does require
us to be certain of our criteria for non-performance before automatically
deciding that they were not (or could not) have been. What is clear is
that each of these poems is constructed to have an authentic moment of
performance, through which Callimachus rehearses past moments of per-
formance, whether literary (as in the Homeric allusions in the lament for
Arsinoe) or in terms of social practice (as in the Branchus or the pannychis),
thus connecting events specific or relevant to Alexandria both to earlier
and to contemporary Greek ritual and lyric practice.

choruses and choral dancing

Callimachus’ evocation of choruses and choral dance operates in a number
of different ways. Choruses appear in the hymns, particularly in those to
Apollo, Artemis, and Delos, in the epinicia, and a few other fragments.
Some dancers are located in mythological time: the choir of islands dancing
around Asteria (hDel. –); the dancing mice of the Molorchus episode
(fr.  Pf. = SH . ); choruses of nymphs who accompany Artemis
(hArt. , , , –); the Kouretes who danced in armor around the
 The Homeric and Callimachean hymns provide an obvious parallel. The Homeric hymns are
classified as rhapsodic rather than cultic, that is, performed in competition but not as part of a
genuine religious event (Furley ). Callimachus’ hymns resemble the Homeric but are now
generally excluded from performance of any kind for reasons that seem to be internal to the poems.
The distinction may be correct, but the grounds for it are suspect.
 Elsewhere in Hellenistic poetry, the words +, and forms of D2 and (+2 occur
mainly in fragments from paeans.

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Choruses and choral dancing 
infant Zeus (hZeus –). In addition there is at least one allusion to con-
temporary choral celebration. In the encomium for Sosibius, the speaker
(either Sosibius or the Nile) claims that following Sosibius’ Panathenaic
victory “we gave a chorus leading a  to the temple of Athena the
opportunity to call out sweetly (; S ) Archilochus’ victory song
(F+ ,+% 8 7.4)” (fr. .– Pf.). Surely this recalls a
real event from the victor’s past. The remaining choruses belong to two
events of importance in the Hellenistic world: the Delian theoriai and the
Cyrenean Carneia. The former appears at least twice: in the Acontius and
Cydippe episode in Aetia  and in the Hymn to Delos.
The myth-historical narrative of Acontius and Cydippe opens with the
arrival of the two young people on Delos as members of choruses sent from
their respective island homes, Ceos (Iulis) and Naxos:

a $/, 1, 9  a  A!%   ; ’ '&) e/%,

6 QO  6 7& %.,
)  $  
  , ;  -[ ,
  / '
2 '.,

For he came from Iulis, she from Naxos, Cynthian Lord, to your Bouphonia on
Delos. His blood was of the race of Euxantis, hers of Prometheus. Both were fair
stars of the islands. (fr. .– Pf.)

It is not possible to identify Callimachus’ “Bouphonia” with a specific,

later Delian festival. However, fr.  Pf. is from Stephanus of Byzantium (s.v.
Delos), who attributes the form Q 
 (9 # Q  7+, +, ,
“a chorus coming to Delos”) to Aetia . It is likely, therefore, that what
Callimachus describes in this episode is explained in part by Thucydides’
history of the pre-Athenian stage of the Delian festival:

There was once long ago a great assembly of the Ionians and the surrounding
islanders at Delos. This sacred mission included [choruses of] women and boys,
just as now that of the Ionians does at Ephesus, and there was a contest there also of
gymnastics and music, and the cities brought choruses . . . Later the islanders and
the Athenians sent choruses with the sacred offerings. Most of the contests were
dissolved apparently as a result of circumstances, until [in /] the Athenians
created the current contest and the horse-races [at Delos], which were not there
before. (.. and )

 The Amazons (.) and the Kouretes (.) dance versions of the pyrrhichê, which was familiar
throughout the Greek world. See Ceccarelli : –.

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 The sounds of reading
In the Classical and Hellenistic periods a great many states sent theoriai to
Delos, particularly for the festival of Apollo, and their accompanying cho-
ruses, who competed in the musical competitions, are well documented.
Another fragment depicts Cydippe’s excellence in the dance in lines
replete with imagery from Sappho:
 [ ]+ 5
2 $ 7&  $2

g : 
 & %  
I8 # 2 /  i2  ’ FO 
7 +]) D 4 v) * &, ·
No other came to the wet spring of hairy old Silenus looking more in her face like
the dawn, nor set so soft a foot in the dance of sleeping Ariadne. (.– Pf.)
The narrative figures Cydippe in her gendered context (contest for her
hand as bride, excellence in dancing) and Acontius later in his (that of
male baths and symposia, frr. – Pf.). From the remaining evidence we
cannot tell whether Callimachus described this festival in his narrative, or
merely evoked it, but the detail of the dance of sleeping Ariadne is a
clear allusion to the story of Theseus rescuing the Athenian youths and
maidens by slaying the Minotaur with Ariadne’s help (and his subsequent
abandoning of her on Naxos). The return of Theseus from Crete seems
to have been an important feature of the Athenian theoria to Delos, and
Theseus is the subject of Bacchylides , a Cean dithyramb for the Delian
festival, as well.
The Delian theoria appears again in the Hymn to Delos, which can
be dated to a period ( and immediately after) when the Ptolemies
had assumed the protectorate of the League of the Islanders, the center
of which was Delos. Immediately after the god is born, Callimachus
recounts the form that the celebration of his birth will take in future years:
“annually tithes of first fruits are sent to you, all cities lead out choruses to
you” (–). Callimachus describes in detail the route taken as offerings
move from the Hyperboreans in the north through Ionia, Euboea, and
finally to Delos. He rehearses the origin of the ancient songs attributed to
the mythical Olen, as well as the mythological template for the Athenian
theoria – Theseus’ return from his victory over the Minotaur in Crete. The
 Rutherford : –, and see below.
 Aristaenetus ., a much later prose rendition of the Acontius and Cydippe narrative, gives nothing
here, and in Ovid’s version (Her. .–) Cydippe has become essentially a tourist, as well as a
“reader” of her own (that is, Callimachus’) story.
 See Fearn : –, and – for Callimachus on Bacchylides .
 For Alexandrian theoriai to Delos, see Fraser : .– n. , and for Ptolemaic relations with
Delos see ibid. .–.

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Choruses and choral dancing 
young men and women sent in tribute by Athens, having now escaped their
fate, “dance a circular dance, while Theseus led the chorus. From that point
on the sons of Cecrops [sc. the Athenians] send the sacred, living offerings
of the theoria to Phoebus” (–). By evoking a series of performances of
the festival Callimachus brings his audience from the mythical past – the
moment of Apollo’s birth – to a lived practice, namely the annual sending
of choruses to Delos.
The Hymn to Apollo begins from the opposite temporal direction: it
opens with what appears to be a real-time chorus of young men (:  2).
Like the Homeric hymns, Callimachus’ hymn is written in hexameters, but
the song-dance at its center is the paean. The narrator begins by exhorting
the young men “not to let the lyre be silent or the step noiseless” at the
god’s epiphany if they wish for prosperity (.–). He insists that Apollo
will honor this chorus “because it sings what is in accord with his heart”
(), and that the chorus will not sing only for the one day, since Apollo
is a copious theme of song (–). Towards the end of the poem we meet
a different set of choristers: “the belted warriors of Enyo [the first Greek
settlers] who danced with the yellow-haired Libyan women” in honor of
Apollo Carneius (., ). These dancers enact for the first time a ritual for
the festival of the Cyrenean Carneia that Callimachus’ youths are preparing
to commemorate in the present. As C. Calame has pointed out in his
temporal and spatial analysis of the hymn, events enacted in mythological
time fold back on the current ritual occasion to become isotopies of each
other. In contrast to the centrality of the chorus for the Hymn to Apollo,
in the fifth and sixth hymns (the other so-called mimetic hymns), where
a narrator also exhorts the women to come forth to participate in rituals
for Athena and Demeter respectively, the women are urged neither to sing
nor dance, but to play their proper roles in the ceremony by keeping silent
and bringing forth the requisite implements.
The Hymns to Apollo, Athena, and Demeter are usually described as
mimetic because, as Mary Depew articulates it,
The truth that the genres of hymn and epinician express is not a universal or
unchanging commodity, but like the poet’s authority, is closely tied to the rhetorical
contingencies of a particular occasion.

 The Carneia was a Spartan festival of Apollo; legend claimed that the Spartan founders of
Cyrene (via Thera) brought it with them, so that it came to be celebrated annually in Cyrene
as well.
 Calame .  Depew : .

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 The sounds of reading
Assuming that this is true for standard cult hymns, our understanding of
Callimachus’ poetic practice is the reverse, namely that he asserts his poetic
authority by transforming the specific occasion into a timeless template
for all such occasions, precisely a “universal and unchanging commodity.”
The Hymn to Apollo, for example, replays mimetically the performance of
a paean. As the poem begins, the location is out of focus as the epiphany
of the god is proclaimed. The deictic references to phenomena of sight and
sound – 7&2% 9 QO  ; 4
 .8 |7& , 9  4 7 I2
 ) '  (“the Delian palm nods sweetly of a sudden, fair sings the swan
in the air”) – on our reading are no different from the same deictic features
of archaic lyric (Sappho fr. , for example, or Alcaeus fr. ). The location
becomes clear as the audience nears the emotional center of the hymn, the
narrative of the foundation of Cyrene (–): Apollo’s union with the
nymph Cyrene, whom he transports to Libya, and his prophecy to Battus,
who led out the Greek settlers, culminating in the city’s foundation. The
narrator now speaks as a Cyrenean in his claim that the new foundation
is “my city” () and the Battiadae “our kings” (). In preparing Apollo
for his role as 

 of Cyrene in a land notable for its rich flocks Calli-
machus incorporates other mythological incidents of Apollo as a herdsman
(Nomios) in service to Admetus and as builder of Delos’ famed horned altar
(“thus did Phoebus learn how to raise his first foundation”). The cry paian
and its potency are introduced in line , and give the first indication of
the nature of the song-dance. It is reprised after the Cyrene narrative with a
vivid aition of Apollo (aided by his mother) killing the Pytho at Delphi, to
the encouragement of the local folk. Their cry of 6 6 &, X  
(‘You go, boy, hurl your arrows!’) provides both the etymology of the ritual
cry and a myth-historical template for the song type (paean). Callimachus’
paean narrates the biography of the god in such a way that all of his previous
aretai culminate in his union with Cyrene and the foundation of the city,
and the paean that the youths are urged to sing is at once a particular com-
memoration for a present-time event and the convergence of past and future

stichic meters
The most common stichic meters are dactylic hexameters, iambic trimeters,
and elegiac distichs, the original performance practices and occasions for
which differ. Hexameter came to be recited early on by professionals, and

 Calame : .

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Stichic meters 
throughout the Greek world competitions of Homeric recitation came to
be the norm; iambic might also be publicly performed but was likely, like
elegiacs, to have arisen in the context of the aristocratic symposium. In
Classical and later performance, though, the three different genres were
united in that they might all have been recited by rhapsodes. But if short
elegiac poems and iambics should be closely attached to the symposium,
E. Bowie argues cogently that longer narrative elegies were performed
in aulodic competitions at public festivals in the Archaic and Classical
periods. These poems often dealt with foundation myths and events
of the recent past, in contrast to the heroic past of epic. Mimnermus’
Smyrneis might be such an elegy, if, as scholars have suggested, it dealt
with the foundation of Smyrna by the eponymous Amazon. In style these
longer elegiac poems would have included a more personal poetic voice and
stances reflective of their sympotic roots. The recent papyrus discovery of
Simonides’ elegy on the battle of Plataea would be another example. This
elegy combines heroic actions of contemporary soldiers with mythological
narrative familiar from epic, and it was obviously circulating in the early
Hellenistic period because Theocritus alludes to it in both Idylls  and .
To these one might add local productions: Silvia Barbantani has edited a
third century bc elegiac fragment (SH ) found in Egypt that seems to be
a mimetic narrative in elegiacs on the Gallic invasion. The importance
of these longer narrative elegies for understanding Callimachus cannot be
overstated. If Bowie’s reconstruction of the genre is, in the main, correct,
then the Aetia would have had as a partial model earlier long elegiac poems
(including foundation narratives) that had had a public performance. The
Aetia has the lineaments of a foundation poem, moving from origins (and
poets as narrators of origins) through a series of mythological figures tied
to the Greek settlement of North Africa (the Argonauts) and the house of
Ptolemy (Heracles), to include living or recently divinized members of the
royal family in the Victory of Berenice and the Lock of Berenice, which open
the third book and close the fourth (and the poem). The Aetia, however,
was not a unified narrative, but a series of interlocked tales, some of which
are (within the text) staged as public performance, others as sympotic,
which may reflect the two contexts for the performance of elegy. The
 See Nagy’s discussion : –. Clearchus, On Riddles, fr.  Wehrli, claims that Homer, Hesiod,
and Archilochus were rhapsodized by Simonides of Zakynthos.
 Bowie : : “With one exception the symposium and the  are securely established as
contexts for performance of elegy in the archaic period.” And also : –.
 Bowie : – and : –.
 Though the new Telephus elegy of Archilochus would be an exception.  Bowie : .
 Fantuzzi : –.  Barbantani : –.

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 The sounds of reading
symposium is introduced in the first surviving complete lines of fr.  Pf.
(On the Sicilian Cities):
For as many soft amber ointments that I then placed on my head with a fragrant
crown, and the many things that went down past my teeth into an ungrateful
belly, all are immediately lifeless, and of them nothing survives until the morrow.
But the many things I took into my ears, these alone remain with me. (–)
This image of faded sympotic habrosyne comes immediately before the
discursive elegiac narrative of the Sicilian cities, in effect providing a sym-
posiastic framework for ktisis poetry. If the placement of fr.  Pf. prior
to these lines is correct, Pollis’ banquet further reinforces the joining of
symposium and lengthy occasional recitation, which are given the markers
typical of performance: “so I spoke, and Clio began to speak a second
time” (fr. .: l 7./· < H 
) [ ]4
This juxtaposition thus captures the two ways of framing elegy that recur
throughout the poem.
Callimachus’ exploitation of the conditions of actual performance
becomes clearer when one considers the interplay of hexameter and elegy.
Homer (and the accreted Homeric cycle, hymns, and Hesiod) was so
popular that at least three different groups are connected to his public
performance – rhapsôidoi, Homeridai, and Homeristai. The exact role of
the rhapsodes in creating and performing Homer is debated: were they no
more than reciters of a text that was fixed soon after the introduction of
writing into Greece after the Dark Ages, or could they have behaved in
a fashion analogous to the oral poets themselves both creating the poetry
(at an earlier stage) and facilitating its preservation at a later date? Or was
their practice somewhere in between? The resolution of this question is
irrelevant for our purposes, however, because by Callimachus’ time (textual
variants notwithstanding) the texts of Homer were fairly well established,
and the role of the rhapsode had become one of preserver, reciter, and
interpreter. As it happens, Callimachus is implicated in the two pieces of
ancient evidence that are most important for understanding the rhapsode:
 For the Greek text see above, .
 Both the Homeridai and the Homeristai were subcategories of rhapsode. The former were an
earlier performing group who maintained exclusivity by claiming descent from Homer himself.
According to Ath. b, the latter were introduced into the theater (no location specified) by
Demetrius of Phalerum. Their recitations of Homer approached the dramatic in style. Rhapsodes
apparently performed more than Homer. The Homeric hymns could be performed as preludes to
musical competitions; Simonides and Archilochus are also mentioned. Solon was “rhapsodized,”
i.e., recited, by Critias as a boy (so Plato). Also, the practice clearly continued into the Hellenistic
period. See Nagy : – and . West : – provides a summary of the Hellenistic
data about rhapsodic performance.

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Stichic meters 
Plato’s Ion and a scholium on Pindar’s Nemean . In the Ion Socrates artic-
ulates a relationship between the Muse as the source of poetic inspiration,
the poet, and the rhapsode that concedes inspiration to poet and rhapsode,
but in one genre only – the one Muse on whom the rhapsode is dependent.
Callimachus challenges Socrates’ formulation in the th Iambus, where he
adduces Ion of Chios, who composed in more than one genre. As far as
we can tell from the fragmentary text, apart from delimiting the poetic
achievement of Ion of Chios in terms of performance, Iambus  does not
explicitly address the subject of rhapsodes. However, the strong Platonic
impulse guarantees the latent presence of Ion the rhapsode lurking behind
his Chian homonym. At the opening of the Aetia Callimachus also
insisted on technê as well as inspiration as the mark of the true artist, and
there too the model of the rhapsodic performance may be lurking in the
Callimachus is to be found – literally – in the second text on rhapsodes.
The Pindaric lines that interest the scholiast are –:
 &  d
 &, ’ ' 
 Q) 7 &%,   ’ 'O

 . 2 
, e%
7 & %|O
 Q) 1 . 

Just as the Homeridai, the singers of verses stitched together, often begin with a
prelude to Zeus, so this man has received an installment of victory at the sacred
games in the much hymned grove of Nemean Zeus. (Nemean .–)
The scholiast goes on to say that:
Some etymologize staff-singers because namely with a staff (i/ %) they recite the
epics of Homer. So Callimachus: 
) 7& i/  : D., | I
'   $2 . Others say the poetry of Homer was not brought together as
one, but scattered and divided up part by part; when they rhapsodized it, they
would do something like stringing together and sewing, bringing it together into
one. Pindar too has understood it in this way [sc. d  | i&

&, ’ ' ]. Others say that, poetry in earlier times being divided part by part,
each of the competitors sang whichever part he wanted, and since the designated
prize for the winners had been a lamb, they were called ' , but then later
on – since the competitors, whenever each of the two poems was introduced,
were “mending” the parts with respect to each other and going through the whole

 Hunter : .

 Much of what follows has been argued independently by Durbec : –.

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 The sounds of reading
poem – they were called iE . These things Dionysius of Argos says (FGrH
 F).
The scholiast (d) cites two lines from the Aetia as proof that “some
etymologize staff-singers because of their recounting the epics of Homer
with a staff (i/ %).” He goes on to the give a mini-history of Argive
rhapsodic practice – originally they sang any part they wished, and, because
the prize was a lamb, they were called lamb-singers. Later the competitors
sang sections of the Homeric poems in sequence to create a continuity or
whole poem. For this reason they were called “stitchers” = rhapsodes.
Callimachus is quoted because he employs the phrase 7& i/  and thus
provides an illustration of someone who etymologizes rhapsode from i/L
 . Callimachus’ lines in context, however, also implicitly acknowledge
the alternative etymology – one that connects rhapsode to i/&
, that
is, someone who “stitches together” parts to create a whole.
Callimachus makes this remark specifically at the opening of the fifth
aition in book . Like the other embedded stories of the Aetia this
provides a mythical origin for a ritual event. In this case the dramatic
framework would have been the story of the origin of the Argive festival
of the lambs (Arneia). He begins his tale by claiming that it was “woven
upon the staff.” The phrase is more than a periphrasis for poetry that is
performed rhapsodically. It provides the reader with a visual prompt – the
rhapsodic staff – that cues the reader to imagine a performance. But what
kind of performance? The scholiast who quotes the passage is talking about
Homer. Callimachus is not – the Linus aition is not in Homer, nor does
it seem to be from Hesiod, though it might have come from some lost
Argive epic. Or, if Bowie’s thesis about longer narrative elegy is correct, the
source could be elegiac, especially in light of the fact that many of the other

   i  S 7

% $: 
 i/ %  ,

 dO% *& 2.
 (fr. 28 Pf.)  !
"# $% &

) *%+ %%,
2 .
 d  O% &O 6 D.’ 0 %$2 , &/   1   
2 , 9&,
 iE 8 
  i. && O &8, # 0 
 . m
  9 -  7 2 
.  , 
 2 &,

 2 ah ,
:  1 %
') '&  $2% &$%
  ' 4 , P  5
S '$
 ` '%2% &) 1  
6 4&
& 7&,
 , iE S &$%.
/ . Q4 9 F$8 .
 The scholiast also resorts to the metaphor of healing or repairing – '4 ('2) – which
equally suggests putting separate parts together.
 Only a few fragmentary lines remain of this aition. It falls just after the opening sequence: the
Graces, rites of Anaphe, rites of Lindos, Heracles and Thiodamas.
 It commemorated the death of Linus, who was the child of Apollo and Psamathe, the daughter of
the king of Argos. The story is related in Conon (FGrH  F.xix) and Statius’ Thebaid .–.

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Stichic meters 
poets and poetic environments imagined within the Aetia – Mimnermus,
Philitas, Simonides, the symposia – are, like the poem itself, elegiac.
We have thus a simulated performance environment. But according to the
Diegeseis  Callimachus found his aition in the Argive historians, Agias and
Derkylos. The Pindaric scholium provides some insight about what Calli-
machus might have learned from his Argive sources: it cites another Argive
(Dionsyius) for the historical details about the lamb-singers (' ).
It is difficult to imagine that the scholiast’s own stitching together of these
separate pieces of information is a coincidence. There is a quote from Cal-
limachus that mentions rhapsodes, taken from a story about the origins
of the Argive lamb festival, followed by the information on Argive lamb
singers. The proximity of these two items in the scholium surely resulted
from a more intimate connection than the need to support an etymology
(especially since Callimachus is not talking about Homer). We submit that
in his aition Callimachus was recalling the Argive lamb-singers, whom he
learned about through Agias and Derkylos or Dionysius, while present-
ing what he learned as a mimesis of performance. Further, Callimachus’
own text (or a commentary on Callimachus’ text) is very probably what
triggered the association in the scholiast. What more fitting topic for the
Argive lamb festival than its foundation myth sung or composed by a “lamb
singer”? Whether or not this line of argument is correct, the rhapsodized
Linus story in the Aetia conforms to the image of the rhapsode that is
found in Plato’s Ion, namely, that the rhapsodic repertory included more
than Homer. It also creates a link between original performance event –
visualized as the singer with a staff – and (textual) re-performance as
Callimachus inserts himself into a continuum with the phrase: I
'   $2 .
The participle  $2 here means “receiving in turn.” So Calli-
machus has taken up the song from the rhapsode –  $2 – and
marked his retelling as singing – ' . The verb is everywhere in the

 Bowie : –.  Pfeiffer II Add. et Corr. ad Vol. I –.  Ford : –.
 See FGrH  Fb addendum (vol. III B ). The scholia say that Callimachus used Agias and
Derkylos as the source for the Parian sacrifice to the Graces without flutes and garlands (fr. 
Pf.) and for the Argive fountains (fr.  Pf.). Agias and Derkylos (FGrH ) are always cited as
a unit, which has generated the hypothesis that the latter revised the former. Agias, for example,
has been identified with Hagias, the Troezenian, an archaic writer of Nostoi (Bernabé –),
and Derkylos as his epitomator (see Jacoby’s discussion FGrH Fb –). Dionysius (FGrH 
F) is even more obscure. But all three seem to have been sources for local Argolid history and
 The poet similarly positions himself elsewhere in his oeuvre, as, e.g., in the final lines of fr.  Pf.,
where he marks his place in the reception (in poetry) of a narrative (in prose, Xenomedes) that
included evocation of song and dance.

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 The sounds of reading
Aetia – the poet constantly reminds us that he is a performer, since ' 
was the vox propria to describe performance in Homer as well as rhapsodic
performance in general. F  is again a marker of sound that creates
an unmistakable visual impression – Callimachus as a singer, just like
the rhapsode whose : he borrowed. Moreover, the scansion of ' 
in this passage links Callimachus with previous oral poets. The alpha is
(unusually) long here. The scansion occurs only once in Homer – at Od.
.– when Eumaeus is comparing Odysseus’ ability to tell tales to that
of an ' , :
B ’ 
’ ' ) '6 &
'   H *&’ ,

: ’ 1
 / '%2, 9&&,
’ ' ·
As when a man gazes upon an ' , , who gifted from the gods sings songs to
delight men, and they long insatiably to hear him, whenever he sings.
Thus Callimachus is the most recent instantiation of the ' , who
recedes visually and textually, or rather who is being recalled in at least
three different modes: the Argive rhapsode with his staff, the Homeric text
(which would have been rhapsodized), and the singer within Homer’s text.
In a sense then Callimachus is stitching together (or superimposing) images
of singers from different poetic times and perhaps even different generic
forms to imbue his own written text with the immediacy of performance.
This is analogous to his layering of festival events over time, but now with
a focus on the singing “I.”
Let us consider the adjective I2 in the phrase: I '  L
$2 . This might simply act as a modifier, reinforcing the sense of
 $2 , namely that Callimachus belongs to an unbroken chain of
performers (as a receiver of the i/  ) – “I sing having received in unbro-
ken (continuous) turn.” However, most scholars follow Wilamowitz and
understand the adjective to refer to the making of continuous or joining
of diverse narrative material – either the variant versions of Linus story
or the combination of Linus with the following tale of Coroebus – into
one. It could also refer to Callimachus’ incorporation of the new tale
into the fabric of the Aetia – that is, to say in effect: “I continue to sing
[sc. the Aetia] with this story that I got from a rhapsode.” In these last two
cases it is significant that I '  refers to a poetic act that is very
like “stitching.” If in the Linus episode Callimachus projects an image of

 See Maslov . On the performance of Homer, see West : –.
 Wilamowitz : , and see discussion in Massimilla : –.

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Stichic meters 
himself as a singer and as a stitcher together of disparate tales similar to
what we are told about rhapsodes, it is significant that the words I
'  are a very marked echo of the opening of the Aetia.
- /  N +8 7&
4T% ' ,
OU  V W4   7$2
 . ,
X  + 0 1  Y  [
. . . . . . ] 7 & 8 Z% + /
Y . . . ..].% C . . . 

Often the Telchines croak at my song, fools, who are not friends of the Muse,
because I did not complete one continuous poem either on kings ? [ . . . or . . . ]
heroes in many thousands of lines . . .
The complaint about Callimachus’ aesthetics, which he places in the
mouths of the Telchines is deliberately structured to be ironic. They chide
him for not completing “one continuous poem” but in fact the phrase
0 1 2 accurately describes the Aetia – it is one continuous
poem on queens (Berenice, Arsinoe), if not kings, and heroes (Heracles,
the Argonauts, and so forth) in many thousands of lines. The point rather
seems to be that the Telchines can think of only one kind of “continuous
poem” while Callimachus has a different sort of continuity in mind. Most
modern scholars have taken the bone of contention to be epic versus elegy –
that is, the Telchines criticize Callimachus for not writing traditional epic
and preferring elegy. In this reading 0 1 2 is understood to
refer to two different sorts of epic poetry. Some scholars understand the
phrase to indicate a poetic unity in the Aristotelian sense – the mimesis
of a single praxis – that is, a poem unified around a single event; others
think it refers to a long episodic poem like those of the epic cycle (as Ovid’s
translation of carmen perpetuum implies). Either or both possibilities
may be correct for the Telchines’ complaint, but it is significant that both
are textual – they are criticisms of an overarching narrative structure.
Yet perhaps sounds and sights are indicative of a somewhat different
aesthetic for continuity – an aural and visual model, namely the continuity
created within the context of performance. From the Telchines’ point of
view the Aetia’s novel organization did not make it “one continuous poem,”
but its novelty is not ab ovo or culturally unique. It shares many features with
the creative behaviors that were attributed to rhapsodes: Callimachus has

 Elegy, of course, is implicit whatever the exact meaning of 0 1 2 , since the Aetia is in
 Aristotle Poet. a–. See Wimmel : – and Cameron : –.
 Cameron : –: Van Tress : –, –.

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 The sounds of reading
interwoven, or stitched together, a series of discrete tales into a continuous
whole. At least two of the aitia – the elegiac epinician for Berenice’s victory
at the Nemean games and the Lock of Berenice celebrating Ptolemy III’s
return from the Third Syrian war – presumably had independent existences
before their incorporation into the final version of the Aetia. Therefore,
might the figure of the rhapsode, the stitcher together of autonomous
stories or incidents, whom Callimachus invokes a little later in the book,
function here in the poem’s opening lines too as a culturally accessible
model for Callimachus’ technique of poetic composition in the Aetia?
If Callimachus’ practice is considered in terms not of reading but of
public performance, the model of the rhapsode makes good sense. The
modern idea of a continuous text within the covers of a relatively discrete
unit (a codex) would have been unimaginable for audiences of Callimachus’
day. Even in written form, the individual books of the Iliad or the Odyssey
would have occupied numerous rolls, which guaranteed that no one read
it as “one continuous poem”. It is only in the aural experience of per-
formance, via the seamless sequencing of the rhapsodes, that such long
poems took on the semblance of a continuous text. Rhapsodes were the
chief purveyors of Homeric poetry to ancient audiences, and this is as
true for third-century Alexandria as it was for classical Athens. But rhap-
sodes also performed other poets – Archilochus, Stesichorus, Mimnermus,
Simonides, Phocylides, and Empedocles are all attested in one or another
ancient source. This does suggest that rhapsodic continuity was not con-
fined to epic. The scholiast on Nemean  was understandably interested
in explaining the Pindaric phrase d  i&
 7&2 '  and
the rhapsode as the unifier of the separate incidents of the Homeric poems
into one performance – this is presumably what happened in Athenian
rhapsodic competition. But stitching together for performance was not
limited to the rhapsode. Tragic actors seem also to have given medley per-
formances, rather like today’s opera singers in concert. At the beginning of
the Hellenistic period the notion of singing continuously – I ' 
or 1 2 – would have had as a frame of reference not only the
internal structure of a text, but an external phenomenon, that is, the tem-
poral continuum of public performance. In this case, the rhapsode would
be a straightforward and obvious icon for poetic continuity, the ironic
possibilities of which Callimachus exploits with his choice of deliberately
ambiguous wording. What modern readers now take to be the unmarked

 Cf. Knox : – on the role of the codex in ordering a strategy of reading.
 Athenaeus c. See appendices in Herington .

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Stichic meters 
or default category, namely the read-only text from which scholars attempt
to reconstruct the performance practices familiar to ancient audiences, was
not the default category for Callimachus. For a poet at the moment of an
aesthetic transition from song-culture to text the visible and aural features
of poetic performance would have been defining, the norm against which
Callimachus necessarily positioned his own poems and the norm against
which his audiences (however we construct them) would have experienced
There is an additional aspect of rhapsodic and by extension other forms
of performance practice that is relevant for understanding Callimachus’
poetry. Ancient evidence – the best articulation of which is Plato’s Ion –
indicates that the rhapsode did more than simply recite, he also functioned
as an interpreter, using bodily movement, gesture, cadence, and pauses to
convey meaning. Undoubtedly irony is in play when Socrates claims
that the rhapsode must be an interpreter of the dianoia of the poet in
order to perform well, but the subsequent transformation of rhapsodes
into Homeristai, the dramatic actors who performed selections of the Iliad
or Odyssey, suggests that Plato was not exaggerating. In the Hellenistic
period dramatic performers, it seems, preserved in memory and through
performance much that can be found in subsequent scholia. If rhapsodes
also were commonly understood as preservers of poetic meaning, as Plato
articulates it, a necessary link in a magnetic chain between author and
audience, then the scholar-poet in the Hellenistic world, with a keen
sense of the history of poetic transmission, might have been a normal
or inevitable evolution, not a radically new development. The passage of
Strato (who was more or less contemporary with Callimachus) quoted
earlier in this chapter supports this. It adumbrates a parallel relationship
between scholarship and rhapsodes: the cook (according to the speaker)
gets his archaic vocabulary from his rhapsodic roots. The cook can deploy
these words accurately and gloss them as necessary, but his auditor must
resort to a scholarly text, namely Philitas’ Ataktoi glossai, to acquire that
same knowledge. Callimachus as poet often seems to be calling attention
to the performer of poetry as a preserver of its inherited meanings when
he claims that the tale “woven upon the staff ” was an aition on the origins
of the Argive lamb festival. If embedded in it was the piece of literary
history that Dionysius of Argos records – namely that rhapsodes were once
called '  – then Callimachus creates a persona who not only received
 J. Mitchell : – suggests that the Homeric scholia also preserve indications of how a
passage should be performed.
 Falkner : –.

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 The sounds of reading
the aition from its original practitioner, the lamb-singer, but recorded the
song-context of the inherited tale, from which it very probably passed into
the scholium on Pindar. There is a similar phenomenon at the end of the
Acontius and Cydippe episode (fr. .– Pf.), where the poet delineates
the process through which a prose chronicler “set down” a local myth that
has now reverted to poetry.
Callimachus adopting the persona of performer is not limited to the
Aetia. Like Ion of Chios, whom he invokes in the th Iambus, he composed
in several genres, and in each of them he situates himself within a histori-
cal performance tradition either overtly or via his intertexts. For example,
he speaks as Hipponax at the beginning of the Iambi (F4’ !&&L

 ). The archaic iambicist, whose invective seems concerned with aes-
thetics, returns to chastise contemporary critics for their small-mindedness.
As the poem opens, Hipponax/Callimachus modifies the archaic style (the
Bupalian battle) for contemporary targets. At the opening of his own epini-
cian for Berenice II’s victory in chariot racing at the Nemean games, his
intertext is Pindar’s st Nemean ode for the chariot victory of Chromios of
Aetna. The poem begins (lines –):
z&% ) F .:,
  g% /  Ad
2 F
2  ,
Q/ % $O
, 2 v %&O
m 9
 2 
^ ' &, 
2$ X&&, ~) "#
% +/·
[ ’ (
4 M% e2

’ *$ ., 7$ T: 2  .
Holy respite for Alpheus, Ortygia, fruit of famous Syracuse, bed of Artemis and
Delos’ sister, from you a sweetly worded hymn has arisen to produce a mighty
song of praise for the storm-footed horses, for the pleasure of Aetnaean Zeus; and
the chariot of Chromios and Nemea urge me to yoke an encomium to victorious
Pindar’s enclosed myth is the story of the infant Heracles strangling the
snakes sent by Hera to kill him, followed by Tiresias’ prophecy of his
exalted destiny. Callimachus’ elegiac epinician begins:
 + =  (. ,
. 4., [$O]
.  ) ` ,
.[ . . . . . . ]. 7& X&&[.
 Stephens : –.

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Stichic meters 
v8 $ Q: $ '&) %$2
#  2[ 8 ]  # - 2 /[
&. 2 [./], +4 a  *& ,
To Zeus and Nemea I owe a fair debt, bride, holy blood of the Sibling Gods, . . . our
epinician for [your] horses, for just now a golden word has come from the land of
cowborn Danaus to Helen’s [island] and to the Pallenean prophet, shepherd [of
seals, sc. Proteus]. (Fr.  Pf. + SH .–)
Callimachus embeds the tale of Heracles and Molorchus, an old man who
offers hospitality to Heracles, as he rests in his quest to kill the Nemean
lion (one of his twelve labors and the foundation myth for the Nemean
Pindar’s opening linked Syracuse to Greece via the Alpheus and Ortygia –
Alpheus was a river god who pursued the nymph Arethusa underground
until she came to rest on the island of Ortygia, which sits in the Syracusan
harbor. Callimachus links Alexandria and Greece via the Pallenean prophet,
Proteus, who fled his marriage in Pallene, and via an underground river
returned to Pharos (Helen’s island), which sits in the harbor at Alexandria.
Aetnaean Zeus and Nemea become Zeus and Nemea. Callimachus trans-
forms Artemis (Apollo’s sister) and Ortygia, Delos’ sister, into the ‘Sibling
Gods’ or Ptolemy III and Berenice II. Pindar’s v %&O becomes a +4
*& ; the designations as m / ^ / 7$ become Callimachus’
7&, a term common in the Pindaric scholia, but not the poems
themselves. Since Callimachus is credited with organizing Pindar’s poetry
and classifying the victory odes by site – Olympian, Nemean, Pythian,
Isthmian – his imitation of the ode placed first among the Nemeans makes
explicit his relationship to the older poet; he is doing for Egyptian Alexan-
dria what Pindar did for Syracuse. His embedded tale is not just a variation
on Pindar, but a reformulation that includes an aition for the games them-
selves and a tale of hospitality that matches themes found elsewhere in
his poetry. In other words, he both inserts himself historically into the
genre of epinicia as successor and extender of the genre, and adapts it to a
contemporary setting, a move which is signaled by the meter – elegiacs –
that breaks with the conventions of earlier lyric epinicia and aligns the
poem with the victory epigram. We do not know whether Callimachus
ordered Pindar’s poems in addition to grouping them: that may have fallen
to Aristophanes of Byzantium. In either case, the st Nemean is likely to
have begun a book roll of Nemeans, and Callimachus’ epinician now

 See Fuhrer .  See Barchiesi : – on first poems.

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 The sounds of reading
begins the third book of the Aetia, and we know that book also began a
Another fragment (fr.  Pf. ) provides further insight into the intri-
cate relationship of poetic persona, performance traditions, and real-time
events found in Callimachus’ poems. A single line from a treatment of the
marriage of Arsinoe II (to presumably Ptolemy II) was quoted within the
same long scholium to Pindar that was discussed above. At this point
the scholiast is discussing the lemma 
 / :
Just as (they say) the Homeridai began their rhapsodic performances from Zeus,
so even this man has made his beginning. . . . And they say 
 / for “begin-
nings”; thus Callimachus says: F, f 8 $/ 
/ ’ '  (fr.
 Pf.). The lexis (
 O) is a metaphor from house-building and setting
down foundations. Therefore they say that it is the expectation that he who begins
the contests from Zeus will afterwards also win a victory.

Callimachus’ choice of the word of 

/  to open his poem
also constructs a context: he locates himself as an ' , (cf. ' ) mak-
ing his beginning in a competition: “O stranger, I lay the foundation (I am
the first?) to sing of the marriage of Arsinoe.” According to Plutarch’s Table
Talk, when Ptolemy II married his sister, there was a rhapsode performing,
whose selection, Iliad .: ~S ’  @ &2& $O

1 +,
 (“Zeus spoke to Hera, his sister and wife”), was “both graceful
and fitting.” This anecdote makes clear that part of rhapsodic art depended
on shaping or selecting text for context. For the royal siblings the rhap-
sode neatly aligns the incest with the rulers of Olympus, whose marriage
could serve as a model for their own. It would also seem that performance
was part of the nuptial pageantry. We do not know the context in which
Callimachus’ poem was presented. But given the anecdotal evidence about
royal marriages at this period, it is certain that poetic performance formed
part of a nuptial banquet, if not a more extensive public event that included
poetic competitions. Just as with the paean, the picture is complex. Possibly
the poet composed for public celebrations, as lead-off performer (as

/  implies) or at a symposium (as 8 suggests). Or it is

 The first line survives as POxy. . = fr.  Pf. It is not clear whether the Lille fragment with
the more complete text also began a roll, though it easily could have.
 This is probably an independent poem, rather than, as has been occasionally suggested, a fragment
of Aetia –; see further D’Alessio :  n. .
 In Quaest. conv. e. The whole section in Plutarch’s discussion is devoted to the apt selection of
 Theocritus makes a similar gesture in Idyll . See Stephens : –.

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Stichic meters 
possible that the Ptolemies celebrated their nuptials with rhapsodic
performance as part of a nuptial banquet, but that Callimachus composed
his offering for private circulation.
In concluding this section it is important to reiterate that a surprisingly
large number of Callimachus’ poems are about specific events connected to
the royal house. In addition to the epithalamium and the Branchus, there
is the Victory for Berenice, which imitates the opening of Nemean , and
fragments of two other epinicia: one for a court figure, Sosibius, to celebrate
his chariot victories at Isthmia and Nemea (fr.  Pf.); another (now the
th Iambus) was for victory in the diaulos amphorites at an Aeginetan festival
( Pf.) composed in iambics or iambics + ithyphallics. There was also
the threnos composed to commemorate the death and deification of Arsinoe
(fr.  Pf.), which seems to have commemorated the introduction of her
funerary cult “near the Emporium.” Other fragments mention Magas and
Berenice (fr. ); and Berenice’s dedication after Ptolemy III’s victory in
the Third Syrian War (fr.  Pf.). A Galatea commemorated Ptolemy II’s
victory over the Gauls (frr. – Pf.); and the nautilus epigram ( GP=
 Pf.) was written for a dedication in the temple of Arsinoe-Aphrodite at
Cape Zephyrium. Two of the hymns seem specifically written for the
Ptolemaic events as well: the Hymn to Delos commemorates his victory
against the Gauls, though perhaps in the context of a Delian theoria,
and the Hymn to Zeus may have been written at the time of Ptolemy
II’s coronation and birthday in  bc. Were any of these performed?
In Idyll  Theocritus distinguishes between “a man of Dionysus” (lines
–:   Q4%
 '6 S 
’ '$ |X
’ 7&
$% '2 E ' /, “nor does any man of Dionysus come to the
sacred contests, who knows how to strike up a clear-sounding song . . .”)
and “interpreters of the Muses” (lines –: W%/ ’ D&.

 8 |'
’  $ , “interpreters of the Muses sing
of Ptolemy in return for his generosity”). R. Hunter is surely right that
lines – refer to the
 Q4%, who first appear in the Grand
Procession of Ptolemy II. Callimachus and Theocritus were clearly not

 Usually taken to be the minister of Ptolemy IV. Sosibius was honored by the Delians and Cnidians
about the same time (around ). So Hölbl : –.
 Cameron : –; Kerkhecker : –.
 Marinone : – n. ; –;  n. .
 For a discussion of the Gaulish invasions as a subject for poetry, see Barbantani : –. For
the Gauls as a parallel for Persians see S. Mitchell . For Polyphemus and Galatea in relation
to the Gauls, see Anello .
 Gutzwiller : .  Clauss : –.  Ath. b. Hunter : –.

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
professional performers, but “interpreters of the Muses.” How this played
out for performance venues is unclear, but there is no reason to suppose
that the only alternative to being a professional was to circulate your poems
exclusively in written form.


Let us turn now to a more systematic discussion of the second perfor-
mance venue that seems crucial in understanding Callimachus’ poetic
practice – the symposium or banquet. The origins, practice, and politi-
cal significance of the Archaic and Classical symposium have been subject
to considerable analysis over the last fifteen years. The fourth century
saw banqueting as an increasingly important theme in prose literature. A
number of writers, only samples of whose work have been preserved in
Athenaeus’ Savants at dinner (Deipnosophistai) or Plutarch’s five volumes
of Table Talk, provide insights into the continued importance of com-
munal dining and drinking in the Greek-speaking world. Whether a lens
for viewing elite social behaviors, as apparently in the banquet letters of
Hyperlochus and Lynceus, or as a model for intellectual exchange, as in
Plato’s dialogues, the symposium operated along a broad social spectrum
in the Hellenistic period, from courts of monarchs to private opportunities
for social bonding in an increasingly diverse world. There was a thin line
between public and private performance when monarchs sponsored civic
events, and the king’s symposium is a key example. These two anecdotes
now preserved in Athenaeus provide insights into the dynamics of the
symposium as a locus of exchange and display. According to Demetrius of
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 There are also good examples of men who operate in both spheres – professional performance
and the ivory tower. Alexander the Aetolian was a tragic poet, but also apparently a scholar in
the Museum; Philicus of Corcyra led the technitai of Dionysus in Ptolemy II’s Grand Procession,
composed tragedies, and apparently also learned poetry (see Bing : –).
 Though technically the symposium takes place after the food has been consumed, most of our
sources like Athenaeus and Plutarch tend to treat the symposium and banquet as interchangeable,
see O. Murray . There is one aspect of dining in Callimachus that we do not discuss: the hero
or god who appears (often in disguise) and is given a hospitable reception. The subject is well
treated in Hollis : – in his appendix on “The Hospitality Theme.”
 Olson and Sens : xliii–vi.  Tecusan .  Ath. b = fr.  Gaede.

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Textual and intertextual symposia 
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They say that at the court of Antiochus the Great it was customary at the
banquet not only for the king’s friends to dance in armor, but also for the king
himself to do it. When his turn in the dance came, Hegesianax of Alexandria in
the Troad, a composer of histories, stood up and said: “King, would you prefer
to see me dance badly or hear me recite my own poems well?”
Dancing the pyrrhichê at a symposium clearly marks the participants as
soldiers, not merely imperial dependents. By dancing the king signaled his
continuing role as a warrior, his status as first among equals, and doubtless
also his fitness to rule (he was still capable of the war dance). The ability to
take one’s turn in the dance marked the individual as worthy of the king’s
honor and of inclusion in the group. Hegesianax’s response cuts through
the delicate web of expectations and introduces a new hierarchy. He is able
not only decline to dance, his response concedes the space of the dance
at the same time that it asserts another locus of authority, his poetry. The
wittiness of the reply equally suits the milieu in which poetic jests, riddles,
and satirizing toasts were part of the bonding behavior. It may also indicate
something indecorous about the whole event, which is certainly the point
in Athenaeus.
A far more ostentatious example was the wedding feast of Iphicrates,
who married the daughter of Cotys, the king of Thrace, in  bc, which
served as grist for the comic poet Anaxandrides’ mill:

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 Antiochus III, the son of Seleucus II, who became king around  bc.
 Probably poetic histories.

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
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They say it was a stupendous occasion! Purple carpets were spread along the agora
as far as the ?, there were butter-eating gentlemen dining, myriads with unkempt
hair. There were bronze vessels larger than ponds that twelve couches could fill.
Cotys had wrapped an apron round himself and brought in the soup in a golden
chous. And what with tasting from the kraters, he was the first of the drinkers
to get drunk. Antigenidas played the aulos for them, Argas sang, and the cithara
was played by Cephisodotus of Acharnae. In their songs they sang now of Sparta
with its broad plains, and now in turn of seven-gated Thebes, and changed their
The space of the agora is public; the number of guests makes this an
event that inevitably attracts attention; and the behavior of the host –
first man drunk – crossed acceptable boundaries, hence a reason for the
comic poet to target it. The king acting the part of a faux chef is not
first among equals as Antigonus’ dancing displays, but royal noblesse oblige
that lapses into buffoonery. The entertainers are here separated from the
participants (in contrast to the anecdote of Hermesianax). However, they
are of some stature. Antigenidas of Thebes was the best-known aulos player
of the age, and Argas an accomplished singer, which is what we should
expect – Cotys spared no expense. The themes of Sparta and Seven-gated
Thebes might have been conventional, but given Iphicrates’ decisive battle
against the Spartans in service of Cotys, it could just as easily have been
In his poetry Callimachus uses symposia and/or banqueting in several
different ways. Symposia are the site for praise of royals or the occasion for
philosophical or scholarly disputation, civic events connected to religious
worship, and private events. The first of his Hymns and the first of his
Iambi ostensibly begin with symposia, a symposium occurs in Aetia , and
of the occasional poems, the Pannychis, fr.  Pf., has a sympotic setting.
A number of intertwined themes surface in all this poetry: excess versus

 (Athenaeus b–c = Anaxandrides  PCG II.) The manuscript reading of 
% does not seem
to make sense. See PCG II ad loc. for attempts to emend.
 West : . And a creator of new auletic fashions as well.
 Cf. Dieg. X –:  &
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) '$%&8 (“and an exhortation to the
symposiasts to stay awake”).

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In the public sphere 
moderation; guest-host relationships, and the central role of the poet in
maintaining and transmitting cultural values.

in the public sphere

The Hymn to Zeus is the first hymn in what is generally taken to have been
a poetry book arranged by Callimachus himself. It begins by setting the
scene as a symposium: ~) *
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, “what subject is more fitting to sing of when we
pour the libations to Zeus than the god himself?” From a scholium on
Aratus’ Phaenomena we learn that it was customary at symposia to pour
three libations: the first to Zeus Olympius, the second to the Dioscuri and
heroes, and the third to Zeus Soter. It is also significant that the hymn to
Zeus contains an allusion to the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus in lines –. The
hymn to Dionysus, although fragmentary, stands as the first hymn in the
collection of Homeric Hymns. The same manuscript tradition preserves
both the Homeric Hymns and Callimachus’ group of six hymns, along
with the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, the Orphic Argonautica,
and, among other works, Musaeus’ Hero and Leander. If Callimachus’
Hymns appear to have been arranged, if not conceived, as a collection, the
Homeric Hymns are a group of disparate hexameter works from a largely
oral performance tradition that came to be collected together, and with the
ordering that the Hellenistic world would have known. Thus the Homeric
Hymns and the Hymns of Callimachus, unusually, juxtapose model and
Callimachus writes himself into the Homeric Hymns as he does with
Pindar’s epinicians by echoing the first poem of the collection, as he knew
it. His hymn is an elegantly conceived and executed tribute to Zeus and
to Ptolemy II, who are aligned by virtue of their youth and signal accom-
plishments – Zeus’ birth and prodigious maturing to become king of the
gods has an overt human analogue in Ptolemy’s outstripping other men
to become the king of Egypt. The poet’s doubt expressed in the opening
over whether to hymn Zeus as born in Arcadia or Crete (in imitation of
the hymn to Dionysus) plays on a conventional expression of aporia in

 See Morrison : –; Gutzwiller : –; Hopkinson b ; for the opposite view,
e.g., Asper : –.
 Sch. on Aratus , – Maass.  See the argument in Hunter and Fuhrer : .

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
cult hymns that reflected more than one region’s claim for the god. Cal-
limachus takes that convention and infuses it with new meaning by first
aligning the two birth myths, then in moving from one to the other (from
Arcadia to Crete) re-centers (or de-centers) the Mediterranean world.
As the infant is carried from Arcadia to Crete, his umbilical cord drops
off, resulting in a new omphalos or world-center – no longer Delphi (as it
is in the Hesiod passage that is Callimachus’ obvious model), but Crete,
midway between old Greece and Alexandria. This geographic reordering
is tantamount to a poetic manifesto, as the new hymn praises both god
and man as analogues of each other. The poetic intimations of the king’s
signal achievements are, in the poet’s own words, “persuasive fictions,” cal-
culated to advise via a tongue-in-cheek flattery and judicious use of divine
analogies. In this sense, then, the first hymn stakes out the poet’s role as
arbiter of moral behavior and the poem as due reward for achievement.
The sympotic opening, whether real or fictional, posits a suitable venue for
these goals if the two examples quoted above are anything to go by.
The final poem in the received collection is a Hymn to Demeter. The
narrator addresses the poem to the fasting women and recreates the atmo-
sphere of a festival for Demeter that in detail seems somewhere between
the Athenian Thesmophoria and the Mysteries at Eleusis. The same myth
underlies both – Demeter’s loss of her daughter, Demeter’s wandering,
followed by the girl’s return – and was closely connected to the cycle of the
seasons: Demeter’s bountiful gifts of agriculture ceased while she mourned
her daughter (hence winter). The girl’s return led to the rebirth of veg-
etation in the spring. This hymn has the distinction of being the only
one for which the scholiast has suggested an Alexandrian context, though
scholars today are not convinced. However, there was an Alexandrian
suburb named Eleusis that at least anecdotally seems to have been con-
nected to worship of Demeter, a Thesmophorion that was located within
 Hunter and Fuhrer :  suggest that for the opening of Callimachus’ hymn “it seems very
likely that we are primarily to think of Pindar’s own Hymn to Zeus which began with a priamel
listing possible themes of song (fr.  Snell-Maehler). Since this poem began the collection of
Pindar’s hymns, it would have been an obvious model for Callimachus’ own first poem in creating
a book of hymns.” But recently D’Alessio in his  reconstruction of the hymn has questioned
whether it was really for Zeus, rather than Apollo (–). If he is correct, this complicates, but
does not negate, the fact of imitation.
 Stephens : –. The blurring of regional particularity and the consciousness of similar
beliefs and practices in more than one location are essential components in Callimachus’ poetic
 There is a similar parallel between Apollo and Ptolemy II at the center of the hymn to Delos, and
in that hymn there is a very clear allusive interdependence with Pindar’s first hymn, see D’Alessio
: –.
 Hopkinson’s thorough rejection (b: –) is widely quoted.

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In the public sphere 
the city itself, as well as the festivals of the Demetria and the Thesmopho-
ria recorded for the city as early as the middle third century bc. These
facts mean, at the very least, that if the hymn was not written for a specific
Alexandrian or Cyrenean festival, it would have had considerable resonance
for local audiences.
Hymns  and  both open with the rhetoric, if not the reality of a specific
occasion; both conclude with propitiatory prayers of similar length and
similar character.
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Hail greatly, highest son of Cronus, giver of good things, bestower of serenity.
Who shall sing of your deeds? There is no one, nor will be. Who could sing of
the deeds of Zeus? Hail, father, hail again. Grant virtue and wealth. Prosperity
without virtue cannot raise up men, nor virtue without wealth. Give virtue and
prosperity. (Hy. .–)

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Hail goddess, and preserve this city in harmony and in prosperity, and bring all
abundance from the fields. Nurture the herds, bring the fruit, bring the crops,
bring the harvest. Nurture also peace, so that he who has sown may reap. Be kind
to me, thrice prayed to, most powerful of goddesses. (Hy. .–)

Other than the obvious similarities of the two closing prayers (the other
four hymns conclude quite differently), there is the further parallel shared
by Hymns  and  – their setting: both suggest Alexandria (“my king” of
Hymn ., “this city” of .). Hymn  is centered in Cyrene (as we saw
earlier), Hymn  celebrates Delos, Hymn  is set in Argos. Hymn  lacks one
single setting, as Artemis moves over a fairly wide swath of Sicily, mainland
Greece, and Asia Minor. But Hymns  and  suggest the poet’s present
setting. This may be part of the reason that they are placed as they are, at

 Fraser : .–, and for the festivals see Perpillou-Thomas : –.

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
the beginning and end of the collection. If so, parallels are at hand – the
Aetia and the Iambi both begin and end in Alexandria.
At the center of the sixth hymn is the apotropaic tale of Erysichthon
embedded in the framing device of women preparing for Demeter’s festival.
The young man was cutting down trees sacred to the goddess, when
Demeter, who had assumed the guise of her own priestess, warned him of
the sacrilege. In his insolence he refused to heed her, claiming that the felled
trees “will make a secure house in which ever I will conduct pleasing feasts
for my companions” (–). The punishment suits the crime: he is visited
with a gargantuan hunger and insatiable thirst. Boundaries of propriety
and measure are instantly crossed, as his appetite demands twenty slaves
to prepare enough for his banquet, twelve more to pour sufficient drink.
Of course, he cannot be allowed to attend common banquets (), lest
he disgrace his family by eating everything in sight. When he has literally
eaten them out of house and home, having consumed all their stores, oxen
and horses, and even the cat, he is last seen wasting away at a crossroads
begging for crusts (–). Like the fifth hymn, the embedded tale is about
transgressing normative boundaries.
But what should we imagine as the context? Fourth-century comedy
throve on parodying the excesses of kings and aristocrats, who were easy
comic targets for their conspicuous consumption in sympotic as well as
other forms of display, as was Cotys’ drinking at his daughter’s wedding
in Anaxandrides’ comedy. Another fragment reported by Athenaeus in a
section on gluttony quotes from Sositheus’ tragedy, Lityersis (a bastard
son of Midas and the king of the Celaenians in Phrygia): “He eats three
loaves and three pack mules in one short day; and he drinks down a ten-
amphora jar, calling it one measure.” Athenaeus’ discussion is very full.
It seems possible to read Callimachus’ hymnic insertion in the context of
this comic/iambic topos. But it also might contain a serious purpose as a
mirror held up to those in power to call attention to their own poten-
tially egregious behaviors, but executed in a mode that is closer to comedy
than the kind of earnest philosophical instruction to kings found in, for
example, Plato’s Seventh Letter. In topic and detail Erysichthon’s story is
a humorous inversion of the serious cult frame – the fasting and absti-
nence in service of the goddess, in return for which she provides mankind
with her bounty. Erysichthon abuses Demeter’s bounty in service of his
own excess: a suitable space for his indulgence requires no less than an

 On the aesthetic ordering of the Hymns see Acosta-Hughes and Cusset .
 Ath. b–c = TrGF  F.

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In the public sphere 
act of sacrilege. But his punishment takes on a kind of narrative excess
as he consumes everything in sight including the cat. To what extent
is Callimachus’ narrative also a boundary-transgression that incorporates
elements of iambic and comic lampoon into the framework of the Home-
ric Hymn? After all, it was Iambe (a feminine embodiment of iambic)
telling rude tales who finally made Demeter laugh, break her fast, and
restore her gifts to mankind. Philicus, who led the Technitai of Dionysus
in the Ptolemaia, also wrote a hymn to Demeter (in choriambic hexam-
eters), the surviving section of which describes the arrival of Iambe, who
proclaims: [
8 ] 8 9 $2  ,$ b’ ' O[ (“For the
solemn can a humorous tale be without profit?”) Callimachus’ hymn
both recreates the solemnity of the festival and incorporates elements of
the comic revival of the goddess, and via the comic elements provides a
potent criticism of aristocratic excess in a form calculated to amuse as well as
The received collection of Callimachus’ hymns, then, begins with a
symposium and ends with feasting, themes that do not much surface in the
intervening poems, though Heracles the glutton makes a brief appearance
in the Hymn to Artemis. The hymns are not the only collection that seems
to have used the communal activities of drinking and dining as a frame.
The Iambi also seem framed as symposia, either because of the influence
of philosophical symposia like that of Plato, or because contemporary
symposia that consisted of philosophers and scholars had some basis in
lived experience. The st Iambus begins with Hipponax conjured up
from the dead, and the subject of his homily is the gracious behavior of the
seven wise men, each of whom in turn declines the cup of Bathycles, meant
for the wisest, in favor of another candidate. The dying Bathycles, lying in
the midst of his sons, on a couch, raises himself “like a drinker on his elbow”
(line : B &,
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of the seven wise men. The cup rather like the banquet toast makes the
rounds only to return to its starting point. Wisdom knows no geographic
boundaries as the cup moves from Arcadia to Dodona to Athens. Unlike
Plato, who would banish poets as teachers of men, Callimachus begins his
iambics with the instructive model of a poet conveying the moral lessons
attached to Bathycles’ dying gift. At the opening of the th Iambus the
speaker pours a libation to Apollo and the Muses, and while this does not
require the poem to have been set at a symposium, that would be the most

 GLP ..  For example, the philosopher Menedemus of Eretria, whom we met earlier.

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
obvious milieu for the ensuing dispute about the proper writing of poetry,
given the clear parallels with the st Iambus.
One of the very fragmentary ‘lyric’ poems discussed above, fr.  Pf., has
for its setting an all-night festival (a pannychis) at which someone is playing
the kottybos game. According to the scholiast the poem was a drinking song
(paroinion) in honor of the Dioscuri:

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Apollo is in the chorus, I hear the lyre. And I just perceived the Erotes. And
here is Aphrodite . . . rejoicing . . . here a night festival – he, who has kept awake
until the crow, shall take the roasted cake and the cottybus game, and of those
present, he will kiss whomever – male and female – he wants. O Castor . . . and
you Pollux . . . guest[.”
In book  of the Aetia a number of the themes we have been discussing
converge: poets of the past endowed with a speaking voice; the intersection
of text and performance; the violation of boundaries in guest-host relation-
ships; and the importance, or in this case sanctity, of the poet. Fragment
 Pf. is an aition on the tomb of Simonides, the fifth-century poet, who
wrote for the Scopadae of Thessaly and the tyrants of Acragas. His recently
discovered elegy on the battle of Plataea, is a long elegiac poem that embeds
myth in historical narrative, thus a suitable partial model for Callimachus’
Aetia. Simonides’ tomb was in Acragas, and according to the fragment it
was demolished for reuse in a defensive tower. The dead poet admonishes
those who have desecrated his tomb, recounting by way of object lesson
how in the past the Dioscuri had saved him from harm.
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In the public sphere 
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“Not even Camarina would threaten so great an evil for you as the disturbance
of a pious man’s tomb. For once upon a time my tomb, which the citizens of
Acragas built for me in front of the city, revering Zeus Xenios, with force did an
evil man tear down, if you have heard of one Phoenix, the evil ruler of the city.
He built my tombstone into a tower and did not revere the epitaph saying that I,
the Cean holy man, son of Leoprepes, was lying here, who first invented the extra
letters and . . . a mnemonic system. Nor did he fear you, Polydeuces, who once
summoned me alone of the banqueters out of the hall which was about to fall
down, when the house of Krannon, alas, collapsed upon the mighty Scopadae . . . ”
(fr. .– Pf.)
Even in its fragmentary state we can see the interplay of writing and
speaking: Callimachus’ text gives a voice to the now dead poet, Simonides,
speaking in elegiacs that frame another text – his tombstone. That text
then speaks (
) $/ . . .
) 2$) in the manner of the funerary
inscription, mentioning his father’s name and notable accomplishments,
one of which was the invention of a system to aid memory. Simonides
continues with a prayer to the Dioscuri for revenge that includes a reminder
of how they saved him in the past. For Theocritus the relationship of
Simonides and the Scopadae is an illustration of the power of poetry: as he
puts it, the Scopadae “would have lain long ages among the hapless dead
if the divine Cean singer speaking his songs to the many-stringed barbiton
had not made them immortal among the men of later days” (.–).
But in staging the power of poetry, Callimachus chooses to demonstrate
its double-edged nature: he has Simonides immortalize the Scopadae not
for their wealth or victories but at the moment of their destruction.
The background of the event to which Simonides (via Callimachus and
Theocritus) alludes is known from other sources: Simonides had apparently
written an epinician for one of the Scopadae, who were tyrants in Thessaly,
to celebrate his victory in a boxing match, and used by way of mythological
packaging the boxer, Polydeuces. The tyrant subsequently refused to pay
Simonides the full price advising him instead to collect the balance from

 See Bing’s very helpful discussion, : –.  See Acosta-Hughes : –.
 Cicero, N.D. ., and see Stephens : –.

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
the Dioscuri, since he had spent so much time praising them. Later when
the poet was a guest at a banquet that included the Scopadae, two young
men summoned him from the hall just before an earthquake destroyed the
house and all who were inside. Thus did the Dioscuri pay their debt by
saving the poet’s life, while the poet’s erstwhile employer was destroyed.
The Dioscuri were guardians of xenia, and their worship consisted of a
banquet at which two places were left empty in honor of the divine guests
(a theoxenia). The theme of guest friendship was always important in
the Greek-speaking world, but it may have needed special emphasis as
the category of “friend” evolved within imperial courts with its attendant
prerogatives and dangers. Poets, it seems, of every age shared in these
risks. Simonides can describe himself as holy on his tombstone because he
brokered a peace for Acragas. But he was also twice insulted by his hosts:
first the Scopadae failed to pay him for his poem, then by Phoenix who
desecrated his tomb. But, as poets remind us, they are particularly favored
by the gods, so whoever fails to honor them does so at his own risk. Again
as Theocritus puts it in his advice to another Sicilian tyrant: “treat the guest
at one’s table kindly . . . but most of all honor the holy interpreters of the
Muses” (Id. .–).

in the private sphere

On the private level, as more and more men left their native cities to migrate
to new capitals like Alexandria, the symposium played an essential role in
reinforcing cultural ties. Callimachus uses the symposium within the Aetia
to explore the interaction of host and guest, the reinforcement of Greek
cultural identity, and the elevated status of the poet. To this end he seems
to have framed his second book of the Aetia as sympotic discourse. Book 
continues the scheme of Callimachus’ interrogation of the Muses and in
turn communicates to the Muses what he has heard at a symposium. We
have discussed the relative placement of fr.  Pf. and fr.  Pf. and the
reason for so ordering in chapter . We wish to build on that discussion,
which was focused on the relative roles of philosopher and poet, and here
to concentrate on the importance of the symposium as a social venue.
Only a few stories survive from fr.  Pf. but they are worth quoting in
full. Callimachus begins (line ) in his own persona:

 Burkert : –. The Dioscuri are prominent figures in Callimachus’ poetry (as they were
in Ptolemaic royal iconography). In fr.  Pf. (on the apotheosis of Arsinoe) it is they who bear
Arsinoe II to heaven.

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In the private sphere 
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 Textual and intertextual symposia
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I know about the town lying at the head of the river Gela, propped on its ancient
lineage from Lindos; and Cretan Minoa, where the daughters of Cocalus poured
boiling bathwater upon Europa’s son [sc. Minos]. I know Leontini . . . and the
other Megarians, whom the Nisaian Megarians sent there as colonists. I can speak
of Euboea and Eryx, who was beloved of the Mistress of the Girdle [sc. Aphrodite].
For in none of them did the one who once built its wall come unnamed to the
feast.” Thus I spoke.
And Clio began to speak a second time, resting her hand on her sister’s shoulder.
“The people, some from Cyme, others from Chalkis, whom Periares and mighty
Crataemenes led, settled at [disembarked at?] Trinacria, and they built a city but did
not pay attention to the harpasos – the most hateful of birds for builders, if a heron
does not follow – for it casts an evil eye on the rising tower and the measuring cord
as the surveyors stretch it continuously to lay out narrow corridors and even roads.
The wings of the hawk . . . may you go if . . . you want to lead out a people to a
colony. But when the builders strengthened the towers with battlements around
Cronus’ sickle – for the sickle with which he cut off his father’s genitals is hidden
there in a hollow in the earth – they . . . about the city. The one. . . . The other held
the opposite position in disagreement. And they quarreled with each other. Having
gone to Apollo, they asked that he tell them which of the two would have the new
foundation. But he said the town would have neither Periares nor Crataemenes
for its epynomous heroes. The god had spoken. They heard and departed, and
from that time the land does not call the founder by name, and so the magistrates
thus summon him to the victims [sc. for the sacrifice]: ‘Whoever built our [?] let
him come propitiously to the feast, and coming bring two or more. Not a small
amount of bull’s blood has been shed.’” Thus she finished her story and I wanted
to know this as well – for my amazement grew. “By the waters of the Kissousa,
why does Cadmus’ city, Haliartus, celebrate the Cretan festival, the Theodaisia?
And why does the land only in the towns around Haliartus and the great cities
of Minos [bear?] incense . . . .spring of Rhadamanthys . . . remaining traces of his
legislation . . . among them this wise . . . (fr. . – Pf. = . – M.)

However strange the sequence might feel to modern readers, the sto-
ries Callimachus tells were already, with a few exceptions, familiar from
the opening of Thucydides, book , and undoubtedly from Ephorus and
Timaeus; they were also treated in Lycophron’s Alexandra. For Thucy-
dides the history of Sicilian cities formed the background for the Sicilian
expedition, but for Callimachus and other third-century poets the more

 The mermnos was an Egyptian bird according to Aelian NA ..

 The text is that of D’Alessio  and Massimilla .
 See Massimilla’s extensive notes on these locations (: –).

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In the private sphere 
recent memory of these locations would have included the late fourth-
century general Agathocles, and the early third-century Pyrrhus (Ptolemy
Philadelphus’ sometime brother-in-law), whose military activities devas-
tated many of these once prosperous towns, as Theocritus makes clear in
the Hiero. In fact, it may be that the subject of foundations (many of which
had lost their former glory) in this section of the Aetia was constructed in
deliberate contrast to the transparent prosperity of early Ptolemaic Egypt.
The subject of the section that survives is on founding colonies, and it alter-
nates between what Callimachus knows – and his information must come
from written sources like Thucydides and Timaeus – and what Clio knows
that he does not. The common thread to all these foundations is contra-
vention in some way of normative behaviors in the founding of colonies
and the guest-host relationships that underlie or undermine them.
The first incident is that of Minos, who was killed in Cocalus’ palace,
when the latter’s daughters poured a cauldron of boiling water onto him
(fr. .– Pf.) under the pretext of providing a bath. Clio responds with
the tale of the two founders of Zancle, whose violent past is commemorated
in its name. There within a cave is buried the sickle (called zankle in
Sicilian), with which Zeus castrated his father Cronus. Quarreling over
who should be named founder of this inauspicious location, the two men
consulted Apollo, who announced that neither would. As a result, when
the citizens celebrate the foundation they employ the following periphrasis:
“whoever built our [?] let him come graciously to the feast.” Apollo, the
god who is normally consulted before the colonists are sent out, here
punishes the two who contend for the privilege of being the oikistes by
denying them a place in the city’s memory. The only other fragment
that can be certainly located in this book – on the subject of Busiris and
Phalaris – is equally about violating the guest-host relationship. This is an
account of the bronze bull crafted by Perillus for Phalaris, the tyrant of
Acragas. It begins with a mention of Busiris, the legendary king of Egypt
who sacrificed foreigners entering his land, and who was in turn killed
by Heracles. It continues with the equally inhospitable Phalaris, who
roasted his enemies alive in the bull. Its designer, Perillus, was the first
victim. The links between these figures are obvious – Cocalus, Busiris,
 Stephens : –.
 Thucydides .. connects the name with the shape of the bay; Callimachus makes it the location
of the cave. Apollonius locates this same cave on the west coast at Drepane (Arg. .–).
 The missing word is likely to be [ ,].  or [&, ].. See Massimilla : .
 There may be ironic play in the fact that their names are well known (or at least recorded in
historical narratives) despite the civic fiction of their anonymity.
 The coupling of Busiris and Phalaris by Ovid in Ars Amatoria .– suggests that Callimachus
was Ovid’s model.

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
Phalaris, and even Minos are cruel and brutal rulers whose fates are not,
like the quarreling founders of Zancle, condemned to oblivion, but kept
alive by the power of poetry. One further point of contact is that Minos
and Phalaris failed to honor artists – the sculptors, Daedalus and Perillus,
a theme that occurs also in the fragment on Simonides’ tomb.
Fragment  Pf. contains a description of a symposium hosted by an
Athenian named Pollis, who had apparently immigrated to Alexandria,
though he still celebrated Attic festivals. In fr.  we argued that Callimachus
was repeating a series of stories that he heard at Pollis’ symposium as part
of his conversation with the Muses. If this placement is correct, then the
theme of guest-host relationships was the broader frame, into which those
foundation stories were inserted. Pollis’ symposium staged the cultural
variety characteristic of the new city, where the tradition of the symposium
allows people from various Greek poleis (here Athens, Cyrene, and Icus)
to find common ground. Against this culturally unifying institution are
positioned behaviors that vary from region to region – the Athenian festival
and the Ician celebration of the death of Peleus. As with the Sicilian
stories, a common thread seems to be the observance or violation of the
norms of hospitality. Pollis is commemorating two events: the pithoigia,
when Athenians gave hospitality to the matricide Orestes, but for fear of
pollution made him sit apart at the feast (fr. . – Pf.), and “the yearly
ceremony of Icarius’ child . . . Erigone” (.– Pf.). This celebrated a
myth connected with Dionysus, who first gave new wine to Icarius. When
Icarius shared it with shepherds, they got so drunk and aggressive that
they killed him and buried his body secretly. His daughter searched for
his body, and when she found it committed suicide near his grave. When
Callimachus turns to the man from Icus to learn about Peleus, again the
subtext is hospitality. Peleus was betrayed, falsely accused by a friend’s wife,
and driven from his land. As an old man he hid on Icus until his grandson
Neoptolemus rescued him, after which he died. The wandering old man
was more honored in Icus, where he received cult, than he had been in his
The recurring Homeric intertexts in this section are also heavily tilted
to hospitality. Callimachus even begins with the comment to his dinner
companion that Homer’s saying is true, that the god brings like to like: ' A
^ d, , # 9 | B , ,  E%  7
) 98 1$ (lines
–). He refers to an often quoted Homeric line that seems to have become

 The Greek text is printed in ch. .

 For the identification of the festivals, see discussion in Harder : .–.

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Textual performance 
a proverb: Odyssey .: B #
) 98 1$ ) B
) 98.
The line is ironic, since in Homer it is uttered by Melanthius to disparage
Odysseus (in disguise) and Eumaeus, who are on their way to the suitors’
feast. However, the seemingly old beggar and the swineherd are alike and
allied against the generally brutish behavior of those abusing Penelope’s
table. Theugenes and Callimachus are also alike in their distaste for deep
drinking and preference for conversation. A few lines later () the Homeric
4 recalls both the Cyclops’ brutish treatment of his “guests” (Od.
.) and the contrasting generosity of the lowly swineherd, Eumaeus
(Od..). On the other hand, line : /  + & ./
7 &
 recasts Od. ., when Helen and Menelaus host young
Telemachus, who comes to Sparta seeking news of his father. Her drug in the
wine soothes care, but equally reminds us of her treacherous nature, while
Menelaus appears to be a genial but clueless host in offering Telemachus the
unsuitable gift of the horses and chariot. If fr.  does provide the frame for
book , then Callimachus’ conversation with Theugenes is the prelude to
his narrative meandering around the southern Mediterranean and Sicily.
In his wandering he resembles Odysseus who is both song-subject and
performer and whose curiosity drives him to experience peoples markedly
different from Greeks.
The theme of wandering, whether of heroes or songs or other indi-
viduals, is constant in the Aetia, as Callimachus examines poetically the
process of migration, integration into a new community, or rejection, the
concomitant risks that each engenders, and the rites in which each is poet-
ically commemorated. In the process of Odysseus’ travels his own identity
is labile – he is at once a hero, Nobody (dJ
 ), a beggar, and a crea-
ture of his own narration. Similarly Callimachus wanders via his stories
through the Mediterranean experiencing and experimenting with various
song environments in a process of poetic self-definition.

textual performance
Most discussions of ancient Greek poetry involve a series of implicit
assumptions. The Archaic and Classical periods are assumed to belong
to a song culture, a world in which poetic activity is imagined as oral and
performative, with texts either conceived as scripts or faithful replicas of
community-based performance (whether cultic or civic). The text, there-
fore, in Platonic terms, is a mimesis of one particular moment, and its
language of deixis is assumed to have operated for that real performance
(even when there is no consensus about how that performance took place).

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 Textual and intertextual symposia
By contrast, in the Hellenistic period the poetry of Callimachus and his fel-
low poets in Alexandria is assumed to be text-based, and uncoupled from
actual performance events. The deictic and other signs of performance
within a text are therefore read as imitations to create the impression of
a performance event that did not really take place. Yet as G.-B. D’Alessio
observes, even poems that were performed had a textual life, a text time
before performance in which they were written and a textual afterlife in
which they might circulate and be read as texts or be re-performed. If
archaic poems embed elements of that highly charged moment of initial
performance into their texts, what these elements can truly tell us about
the performance continues to be debated. How much do we learn from
Pindar’s epinicia about how or where they were performed (and if they
were)? Unfortunately, the moments of Archaic and Classical performance
quickly disappeared, and it was only by leaving a vestige of themselves in
the written record that subsequent ages came to know about them at all.
Callimachus’ world differed in two respects from that of his Archaic
and Classical predecessors: first, unlike the older, relatively homogeneous
city-states such as Athens or Sparta or Cyrene, the religious and civic com-
munities in Alexandria consisted of members from many different ethnic
groups with disparate cultic practices, and this raises the question of how
to hymn the god and what god to hymn. It also affects reception: a cult
hymn for Carneian Apollo, if written for Cyrene, could be performed but
might seem artificial in the context of early Ptolemaic Alexandria, where
no cults of Apollo are attested. Second, Callimachus had access to a wide
range of previous poetry that celebrated cults and victors in the form of
texts collected in a library. However, there was also considerable continuity
in performance practices, and the more we learn about these practices in
the Hellenistic period, the more difficult it becomes to assert that Calli-
machus’ poems either were not or could not have been performed. We
have endeavored to show the ways in which performance continued to be
a salient part of the lived experience of Hellenistic Alexandria and Cyrene,
even if certain aspects had passed into the control of professionals. Calli-
machus certainly composed in forms with continuing traditions of public
performance (hymns, epinicia, lament). However, in his poetry he also
takes advantage of his access to previous poetic performances to memori-
alize them via allusion and to add himself to their tradition. We suggest
as an interpretive principle that within his poetic corpus Callimachus has
 D’Alessio : – and : –; see also Morrison : –.
 See especially I. Petrovic  who provides parallels from cult inscriptions for several passages in
the Hymn to Apollo that have been taken as solely metaliterary.

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Textual performance 
performed various song-types like paean by incorporating mini-generic
histories into his text, and allusions to other performers of the type, in an
effort to transcend the ephemeral aspect of performance and to create a
poem that was a first-order mimesis – the poem endeavors to become the
performance, whether or not it was ever performed. This does not mean
that the poem was not performed, but that it articulates a self-conscious
stance about performance traditions. This is a significant shift from, in
Platonic terms, poetry that is the mimesis of an event (as Plato would
imagine a Homeric hymn must be and as modern scholars recreate archaic
poetry) to poetry that constructs itself to transcend a specific moment
of performance. The poem itself is now the first order of experience, the
template for a rite that incorporates elements from more than one site and
more than one ritual performance – again a poem that constructs itself to
be relevant for more than one reception at the same time so that it need
not function only within a particular locality.

 For an instructive parallel, the Isyllus inscription with its hymn enclosed in details for performance,
see Fantuzzi .

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ch a p te r 3

Changing places

To become a homeland, a place requires topography. To understand

how a place becomes a homeland, one must know its topography.
By topography I refer to any conceptual map that cites a place.
Topographies are the graphe of a topos, the writing of a (com-
mon)place. Topographies assign to a place a sequence of symbols
readable though the codes of verisimilitude, mapping, description, or
narration. . . . Mapping a homeland is both a process and a product.
Topography is a process: it requires the persistent return to history,
the systematic unearthing of ruins, the conscientious recovery of
traditions, and, generally, the reactivation of an inherited past. But
topography is also the product of these reactivations: it consists in
the archive of shared images, evolving traditions, literary works, and
visual maps, as well as in the geopolitical entity itself.
Artemis Leontis, The Topographies of Hellenism

When Alexander founded a new city in Egypt in  bc, he located it

where there had been an earlier Egyptian (probably military) settlement.
But apart from the island of Pharos, which according to the Odyssey was
the home of Proteus, this place held nothing of familiarity for Greeks.
The transformation of Alexandria into a Greek city was not just a matter
of a few buildings or a handful of immigrants. The making of place is a
key component in the process of identity formation and integral to the
construction of social order. It requires a sense of shared and evolving
history – of a past, present, and future; investment in common myths
and rituals, and social hierarchies that both inform and are informed by
the specific landscape. A significant component of this distinctive kind of
cultural memory, as recent studies have demonstrated, resides in genealo-
gies of descent that can be deployed to fix the boundaries of social and

 Leontis : . She is speaking not of Hellenistic poetry, but of a more general literary practice.
 Preucel and Meskell : .


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De-centering Greece 
civic identities. In the Archaic and Classical periods poets were the chief
means of conveying this information; Hesiod’s Catalogue of women, for
example, was a rich repository of lore about ancient social groupings. The
importance of space and who inhabits it that genealogies encode did not
end with the death of Alexander. Callimachus is also writing within this
tradition, and while many of his names and places may be unfamiliar, when
scrutinized they are found to belong to the symbolic topography of those
who lived in (or migrated to) Cyrene, Libya, or Egypt. Leontis’ formula-
tion provides a thought-provoking roadmap for this aspect of Callimachus’
poetic practice, which is not so much about learning or its display as it is
about knowledge: he consistently returns to history in order to recover tra-
ditions and, generally, to reactivate the inherited past(s) that contributed to
the collective imagination of those who lived in Hellenistic North Africa.
How Callimachus constructed place – whether Cyrene or Alexandria –
what he chooses to recall and how he chooses to imagine it is the subject
of this chapter. We will focus on three aspects of his writing of place: his
geographies, his genealogies (especially the myth-historic ancestors of the
Ptolemies), and his representation of old Greece.

de-centering greece
Callimachus’ first and arguably his earliest hymn takes as its theme whether
Zeus was born in Arcadia or Crete. Callimachus, as the narrating ego, opts
for Arcadia on the grounds that “Cretans are liars” and describes the god’s
birth in Arcadia at some length, but just as his audience settles into this
Arcadian version, he moves the newborn divinity to Crete. At this patent
suture between the alternative birth stories, Callimachus exclaims:
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(HZeus –)

When the nymph left Thenae bearing you towards Knossos, Father Zeus (for
Thenai was near Cnossos), then your umbilical cord fell off, Daemon: ever since
then the Cydonians call it the Plain of the Navel.

 See Hall  and Malkin  for the various ways in which Greek identity can be articulated, how
subgroups think of themselves within wider ethnic categories, and how “identity” is used, elaborated,
ignored, or undermined.
 As G. Hutchinson makes clear in his chapter on “The Aetia: Callimachus’ Poem of Knowledge”
(: –).

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 Changing places
More than one scholar has singled out this scene as illustrative of a
Callimachean poetics, judging the production of unfamiliar versions of
myth, names, and places as learning in the service of obscurity, as part of
Callimachus’ own poetic manifesto to travel on “untrodden paths.” But
from the perspective of writing about place, Callimachus’ peculiar details
take on a somewhat different aspect.
Callimachus begins with a question: “How shall I hymn you, as Dictaean
or Lycaean?” That is, should he locate Zeus’s birth on Crete or in Arcadia.
This is a legitimate question, since hymns would doubtless have reflected
the needs of the local cult of Zeus. Arcadia is usually taken to be the more
obscure version of the myth, but Callimachus was from Cyrene, where
apparently the earliest precinct of Zeus was of Zeus Lycaeus, probably
because many of the city’s earliest settlers were from the Peloponnese. It is
likely, therefore, that Peloponnesian myths and myths attached to Arcadian
Zeus Lycaeus had local currency. As the poem progresses, it is obvious that
Callimachus chooses to unite the alternative birth stories into one – into
what might be called an Arcado-Cretan version. In this context E. Maass’s
observation that this distinctive blending reflected or paid tribute to one of
the three Cyrenean phylitic units, that of the Peloponnesian-Cretan, makes
considerable sense. The importance of Arcadia for Cyrene may be inferred
from one of the names that Callimachus employs: “Apidanees.” Apollonius
of Rhodes tells us that the Apidaneans were the Arcadians who lived before
the moon, and the scholiast on this passage in Apollonius etymologizes
the name as from Apis, the son of Phoroneus, who was in turn the son
of Inachus. The name Apidanees, therefore, not only conveys antiquity,
but it encapsulates an ancestral relationship: the Inachid line produced Io,
her son, Epaphus, and his descendents Libya, Danaus, and Aegyptus on
the one hand, and Cadmus and Oedipus on the other. The former were
significant for the Ptolemies, the latter Callimachus, in his Hymn to Apollo,
claims as ancestors of Cyrene.
These genealogies implicitly endorse a movement south, from Greece to
Egypt and Libya, and Callimachus consistently emphasizes the new promi-
nence of these southern Mediterranean regions by narratives of changing
places. How he accomplishes this will become clear by looking in more
detail at the passage on Zeus’s loss of his umbilical cord. In Greek the
 E.g., Hutchinson : ; Hopkinson a: .
 According to Hdt. . the hill of Lycaean Zeus was located just outside of the city.
 See Introduction and Maass : –.  .. They were the Ur-Greeks.
 Selden  discusses many of these examples of movement, which he views as aleatory and con-
tributing to a unique poetics of “displacement.” In contrast, we are suggesting that these same
phenomena are not random, but part of a carefully articulated pattern of colonization, migration,
and new social realities.

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De-centering Greece 
same word ((. , ) means both navel and center, and Callimachus is
playing on this linguistic ambivalence. Earlier writers located the (. , ,
that is, the center or “navel” of the universe, at Delphi: Pindar, for exam-
ple, calls Delphi the 2 (. )  2  . . . 
2 (“the central
navel of the well-forested mother”, Pyth. .); Pausanias says it was a
polished white stone at Delphi (..), and that stone is still visible today.
Callimachus’ description of the (. , was closely modeled on Hes-
iod’s Theogony –, where the Delphic stone is a byproduct of Zeus’s
birth. Identified as a : (a marvel) it was the stone that Rhea gave
to Cronus to swallow in place of the newborn Zeus. When Zeus escaped
this fate and came to adulthood, he forced his father to vomit up the stone
(along with his five older siblings). Zeus himself placed the stone in Delphi
as a sign of his assumption of power.
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First he [Cronus] vomited up the stone that he had swallowed last. Then Zeus
fixed it in the earth with its broad paths in lovely Delphi, under the glades of
Parnassus, to be a sign thereafter, a marvel for mortal men.
In Hesiod’s version of the birth story, when Rhea was pregnant with Zeus
she persuaded her parents to send her away from her husband, Cronus,
in order to thwart his habit of eating his young. Rhea accordingly goes
to Lyctus in Crete, where she gives birth; then her mother Gaia spirits
the child away, while Rhea presents the swaddled stone (instead of Zeus)
to Cronus. Rhea’s handoff of Zeus to Gaia is the model for Callimachus’
passage in which Rhea now hands the baby to a nymph named Neda.
According to Hesiod:
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 See Bassi  on this Delphic stone, for her very helpful discussion of the relationship of an object
to its narrative.
 Pindar (according to Strabo –c) said that Zeus determined the (. , by releasing two
birds, one in the west and the other in the east. They met in the center (Delphi).

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 Changing places
They sent her to Lyctus, to the rich land of Crete, when she was about to give
birth to great Zeus, the youngest of the children. Him vast Gaia received from her
in broad Crete to nourish and rear. Then, carrying him quickly through the black
night, first she came to Lyctus. And taking him in her arms, she hid him in a deep
cave under the secret places of holy earth on thickly wooded Mt. Aigaion. (Th.
In line  of this passage Rhea goes to Lyctus. It is there that she hands
the child to Gaia, who then carries him in line  . . . to Lyctus. In his
commentary, M. L. West remarks: “these lines have puzzled editors, because
they seem to narrate Gaia’s journey to Lyctus twice. Various excisions have
been proposed. Among them that of –.”
It is unlikely that Callimachus evoked this curious passage of Hesiod
to make a statement about how to resolve the crux. In fact there is no
information about what ancient critics thought of the matter, or if they
thought about it at all. Callimachus would seem to have another goal in
mind. The received text, even without the problematic lines, is a narrative
of stasis: there is no movement. With textual emendation of the passage,
Zeus could only move from one part of Crete to another; without it he
goes nowhere at all. In contrast, Callimachus breaks up and reforms the
old order. The Greek god not only moves from the space of Arcadia that
boasted the original Greeks to the southern Mediterranean, but as he does
so, the Hesiodic tradition is eclipsed. Callimachus’ new birth story by virtue
of its absurdity may be calculated to call attention to the absurdity of the
old – Callimachus after all prays to be able to tell more believable fictions,
but it has a serious point: the center ((. , ) of the Greek universe has
gone south. It is no longer at Delphi on the mainland, but a new physical
space now located roughly halfway between the old center (Delphi) and
Callimachus’ world – the cities of Libyan Cyrene and Egyptian Alexandria.
This movement is reinforced in the poem’s conclusion. After Zeus
grows to adulthood, Callimachus devotes considerable time to linking
the god to the new city. If Zeus presides over the best part of power,
or kings – and this is stated in Hesiodic terms by a near-quotation:
7  Q)   – then Ptolemy is the best of all kings and more

 West : . Stephens : – discusses this passage in another context.
 HZeus . Plato (Rep. e) points specifically to Hesiod telling stories about Cronus swallowing
his children as one who    7E4
, that is, did not lie well or told implausible fictions.
 Clauss , following Koenen , argues that hZeus was written for the festival of the Alexandrian
Basileia in connection with the elevation of Philadelphus to the throne. Koenen would connect the
Ptolemaic Basileia with Alexander’s sacrifice and procession for Zeus Basileus in Memphis (Arrian
..), though others, including Fraser : .–, disagree. The argument presented here does
not depend on the historical status of the Basileia.

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De-centering Greece 
powerful than the rest, accomplishing at evening what he thought of in the
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It is possible to infer this from our king; for he far outstrips the rest. At evening
he accomplishes what he thinks of in the morning; at evening the greatest things,
the less as soon as he thinks of them. (hZeus .–)
As a reinforcement of the geographic change, these lines no longer
imitate Hesiod but now paraphrase a traditional Egyptian formula for
kingship. The movement from Arcadia is complete, as Callimachus makes
explicit the role he assigns to his Zeus: it is to oversee the well-being and
success of one local king in particular, Ptolemy of Egypt.
A parallel southern migration occurs in the Hymn to Delos. The as yet
unborn Apollo explains to his mother why she cannot give birth to him on
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Do not give birth to me here, Mother, I do not blame nor deem the island
unworthy, which is as bright and rich in flocks as any other. But another god has
been fated for it, the lofty race of the Saviors. Under his crown shall come, not
unwilling to be ruled by a Macedonian, both lands and the lands set in the sea, as
far the ends of the earth and where his swift horses carry the Sun. (hDel. –)
The new god Apollo refers to is Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who was
born on Cos in . Cos, like Crete, is a space halfway between the
northern homeland of the conqueror (Alexander) and his successors (the
Ptolemies) and Egyptian Alexandria. Just as Zeus moves from his mainland
birthplace to an island for rearing to Olympus, when he becomes king of
the gods, to become the patron of kings like Ptolemy, so we are shown the

 Stephens : –.

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 Changing places
Macedonian Ptolemies themselves at the moment of transition from their
old Macedonian world, a notionally Greek space, via Cos, where apparently
Ptolemy II was reared, to the new Egyptian environment of kingship.
There is a further aspect to the relocation of Zeus’s navel – Callimachus
chooses details, like the name Apidanees, that encode a history of colo-
nization and migration. The transition from Arcadia to Crete, as a number
of scholars have pointed out, is accomplished via a moment of textual
and geographic duplicity. There was more than one Thenae. Towns so
named existed both in Arcadia where Zeus is born and also in Crete near
the region that the locals, the Cydones, called the Plain of the Navel
(Ad./  &2 , line ). The Cydones also were attested in two loca-
tions – Arcadia and Crete. But in their case the relationship was one of
kinship. According to Pausanias (..) Cydôn was an Arcadian, the son
of Tegeates, the eponymous ancestor of Tegea, who along with his brothers
migrated to Crete, and after whom the Cretan city of Cydôn was named.
Migration and colonization are central themes in Callimachus’ poetry,
and the places he chooses to identify usually have complex experiences
of settlement. Place names with their genealogical baggage, like Thenae,
Cydôn, or Apidanees, appear to have been selected to exploit the hered-
itary links between ancestral Greek spaces and their (southern) colonial
descendents, or between Greek and non-Greek spaces. Looked at in these
terms, the moving navel is not a vignette constructed to reconcile traditions
or to startle with obscure detail (though these may not have been wholly
unintended by-products) but to convey the shift in the balance of power
taking place in the poet’s world. These changes required a realignment
of what for want of a better term could be called the Panhellenic world,
entailing a reconsideration of what myths continued to be salient. This
necessitated a shift from the stories that encoded the values of different
locations and earlier centuries to those more appropriate for the realities
of the post-Alexander world, the frames of reference for which are under
construction by poets like Callimachus. Moreover, within Callimachus’
poems the frequent use of place-names and ethnics that fit within the
history of migration or movement to the southern Mediterranean invest
Ptolemaic rule with a kind of inevitability, as if it were the predestined goal
of centuries of cultural behavior. In what follows we will find this effect
present in a variety of Callimachus’ extant texts.

 This hymn also moves to Pharaonic Egypt with the phrase '.
2 ,$, the Greek equivalent
of an Egyptian name for the country, “the Two Lands.” See Bing :  with bibliography.
 Griffiths : –; Arnott ; Hopkinson a: .

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Cyrene 
A similar poetically designed drift towards Egypt imbues the new epi-
gram collection of Posidippus from Pella in Macedon. The epigrams in
the opening section of the roll feature stone objects of increasing size:
the first epigram begins at the Indian Hydaspes, the furthest reaches of
Alexander’s expedition; subsequent epigrams trace the movement of semi-
precious stones and carved objects through Arabia and Syria to arrive at the
Alexandrian coastline. The increasing size of objects from a small, engraved
jewel to a large boulder creates a gathering of momentum as the section
concludes. It ends with a prayer for the safety of the lands of the Ptolemies.
The second epigram of the next section commemorates a voyage from
Thrace to Egypt, the standard sea route that anyone, including Posidippus
himself, would have taken if he sailed to Alexandria. In the third section,
entitled Anathematika, or “Dedicatory (poems),” the poet conveys a shift
in power and patronage to the new rulers of Egypt, as objects like Arion’s
lyre and the diadem are claimed by the Ptolemies. M. Fantuzzi has traced
the numerous connections between these new poems and the works of
Callimachus; for our purposes it is sufficient to indicate that expressing
the southern drift in wealth and power is not unique to Callimachus and
can, in fact, be found to a greater or lesser extent within all of the early
Alexandrian poets.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Hymn to Apollo, in which
Callimachus delimits the significant spaces of his own city, Cyrene, a
place not often mentioned in extant Greek poetry. A central element
in his narrative is the Carneia, a festival of Apollo that was traditionally
celebrated in Sparta and brought to Libya by the first colonists. Callimachus
narrates the ritual as a movement south through the Mediterranean, from
the Spartan homeland to Thera, then to Libya:
Sparta, O Carneian, that was your first foundation, and then Thera, and third was
the city of Cyrene. From Sparta the sixth generation of Oedipus led you out to
their colony at Thera (–) . . . Indeed Phoebus rejoiced greatly when the belted
warriors danced with the yellow-haired Libyan women, when the due season for
the Carneia came. The Dorians were not yet able to approach the springs of Cyre,

 Stephens : –.  Fantuzzi and Hunter : –, – passim.
 For this same phenomenon in Theocritus, see Stephens . Malkin : – and Calame
a discuss Apollonius and the foundation of Cyrene.
 Pindar’s three Pythian odes (, , ) are the exception, and Callimachus certainly depends on them.
See Fuhrer : –, , ; Morrison : –, –, .

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 Changing places
but lived in thickly wooded Azelis. These did the Lord [sc. Apollo] himself see,
and showed to his bride, as he stood on horned Myrtussa, where the daughter
of Hypseus killed the lion that was a bane to Eurypylus’ cattle. Apollo saw no
other chorus more divine than that one, nor has he fashioned for any city so many
blessings as he has for Cyrene, in memory of the earlier rape. Nor do the Battiadai
themselves worship any other god more than Phoebus. (hAp. –)
Callimachus’ temporal layering makes clear that the city has not yet been
founded, though the players are in place: the colonists first celebrating the
Carneia are in Azelis, which is about sixty miles away; Apollo and the
eponymous nymph, Cyrene, whom he has carried from Thessaly, stand on
the hill of Myrtussa, to the west of the city, as he shows her the springs
of Cyre that later would flow through the city’s center. At the end of
the poem, the bees bringing water from the pure streams of Dio – one
of Callimachus’ most frequently quoted metapoetic moments – is equally
a reference to the local landscape. The sanctuary of Demeter and Kore,
complete with stream, lay just outside the city walls of Cyrene.
In articulating the relationship between old Greece and the North
African foundation, Callimachus alludes to a colonizing myth that is
attested as early as Herodotus. The backstory included the expedition
of the Argonauts and their wanderings in Libya, where one of the crew,
Euphemus, was given a gift of Libyan soil by a god. As Irad Malkin and
others have argued, the clod of earth presaged the Greeks’ return to North
Africa and their subsequent colonial entitlement. The story of the Arg-
onauts, Euphemus, and the clod is the featured myth in Pindar’s fourth
Pythian, an epinician written to celebrate a victory of Arcesilas of Cyrene,
but in the Hymn to Apollo Callimachus is only interested in the latter part of
the long history of North African colonization: Apollo’s prophecy to one of
Euphemus’ descendants and eponymous ancestor of the kings of Cyrene,
Battus. Callimachus indicates that the transition from Sparta to Thera
to Cyrene took six generations from Oedipus (hAp. –). For Cyrenean

 For Cyre as eponym for Cyrene, see Williams :  on line .
 For the excavation of the sanctuary see White  and also Kane : . Callimachus’ own
Hymn to Demeter is not marked for a specific locality, but it cannot be coincidence that it celebrates
the only Olympian divinity to have had significant cult shrines in both Cyrene and Alexandria.
The scholiast on hDem. states that it was written for Alexandria. Alexandria had a Thesmophorion
in the second century bc, though how early it was established is not known; it also had an area
named Eleusis where, as in Attica, the Mysteries were supposedly celebrated, though see Fraser’s
reservations (: .–). A Demetria, or the virtual equivalent of a Thesmophoria, is attested for
early Alexandria (see Perpillou-Thomas : –). The fact that Philotera, the sister of Arsinoe II
and Ptolemy II, was co-templed with Demeter after she died (fr. .–) probably indicates that
a local temple of Demeter existed, see D’Alessio :  n. ; Hölbl : .
 Malkin : –.

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Cyrene 
Callimachus this genealogy was not scavenged from writers of local histo-
ries. It constituted the defining myth of his own homeland, essential for his
construction of self: he claimed the Battiads as his own ancestors, and he
characterizes Apollo’s promises as made about “my city” to “my kings” and
“my ancestors” (hAp. –). The hymn, in its emphasis on Apollo’s role
in the foundation of Cyrene, the god’s Delphic prophecy to Battus, and in
its prayer for the well-being of the city, can hardly be regarded as nostalgic
or antiquarian. Indeed Apollo for Callimachus is a figure of double value,
as this hymn illustrates – he is both inspiration of Callimachus the poet
and patron of Callimachus the Cyrenean.
The narrative movement from Sparta to Cyrene in the Hymn to Apollo
is paralleled by the movement of Apollo himself, as Claude Calame points
out in his admirable essay on the poem. Apollo moved from his early
homoerotic apprenticeship to Admetus in Thessaly, to Delos, which is
“dominated by the sibling relationship,” to Cyrene, where he has trans-
ported the Thessalian nymph, Cyrene, who is styled his bride. Calame
Through these three episodes, the narrative takes us from a pre-civilized state to
city-civilization; it takes us from a transient relationship with an immature young
man in a wild context to a permanent union with a woman on stable ground,
marked by city and temple.
But despite the geographic detail of Cyrene in much of the hymn, the
mise-en-scène of the whole has proved difficult to locate, in part because its
opening mentions the shaking of Apollo’s laurel (line ) and the nodding
of the Delian palm (line ), before moving to the chorus of celebrants near
what will become Cyrene. The narrative itself includes not just the Carneia
but events from Apollo’s childhood – his first exploits as a builder for
Admetus in Thessaly, and on Delos, and his slaughter of Pytho at Delphi
and the origins of the cry 6 & (, –). The implicit question
this doubt about location raises is whether the poem could have been
performed for a specific festival (and in that case we can imbue it with all
of the importance that accrues to performed poetry) or whether it is poetry
of the book (a mimesis of performance, in which case we can construct
Callimachus as belated and nostalgic). It is very likely, though, that the
poem’s opening deliberately blurred or collapsed spatial particularity, very
like the collapse of two Thenaes in the Hymn to Zeus. Apollo was the main
divinity of Cyrene, as Callimachus says in the poem (line ), and his

 Calame : .

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 Changing places
temple was centrally located within the city. According to archaeologists
an exedra stood before the temple containing a bronze replica of Apollo’s
sacred palm from Delos. If this is so, then Callimachus opens his poem
in such a way as to suggest that the contemporary world of Cyrene has
already assimilated and thus embodies the old world as well as the new. Just
as with Sparta, Delos and Delphi very obviously are narrated as belonging
to the past in this poem, to Apollo’s youth, while Cyrene is the place of
adulthood – of Apollo’s marriage to the eponymous nymph, Cyrene.
Callimachus’ poetic practice raises at least implicitly a question on the
nature of mimesis, namely whether there is any discernable mimetic differ-
ence between the festival of a god as originally celebrated in the mother city
and later in the colony. For the Greek worshipping Apollo at the Carneia
in Cyrene, the experience is no less authentic than the Greek worshipping
him at the Spartan Carneia. But modern critics reading these poems de
facto identify the Archaic or Classical past as somehow more authentic,
and when confronted by Callimachus turn to labels like learning or belat-
edness to account for his interests. The mimicry of the Delian palm or
the Carneia is not that of, for example, the Nashville Parthenon, which is
severed from its Greek model by time and belief systems. The temple of
Apollo in Cyrene functioned for centuries as a place of worship and what-
ever the elements of aemulatio, the transplanted festival of the Carneia
and the bronze Delian palm before the temple were part of lived religious
practice. The geographic range of these imitations is significant: if each is
important or imitated for different reasons, together they contribute to the
topography of the Cyrenean homeland by re-placing important elements
of the older Greek mainland within the colonial foundation. The Delian
palm can be a distinctive feature of two places: Delos as well as Cyrene, just
as the Delphic cry of paian was a living phenomenon wherever the god was
worshipped. While the cry may recall its Delphic origins, as Callimachus
does via the aition at the end of the hymn, the paian is free to wander far
from that place and still be efficacious as an invocation of the god. In fact,
divinities, cults, and cultic accoutrements changing places form a frequent
subtext in Callimachus’ poetry.
In what seems to be a parallel to the movement of the palm from Delos
to Cyrene, in the Branchus (fr. .–) a shoot from Apollo’s laurel at
Delphi is transplanted to the precinct of Apollo at Didyma. The earlier
oracular shrine at Didyma had been sacked by the Persians but restored

 See Stucchi :  (who draws the connection to this hymn) and Bonacasa and Ensoli :

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Cyrene 
in the late fourth century on the model of Delphi. Its controlling city,
Miletus, probably fell within the sphere of Ptolemaic political influence
during much of Callimachus’ lifetime. Again, Callimachus’ choice of myth
is not disinterested, as it focuses on gods and cults shifting from traditional
(and mainland Greek) locations to regions of importance to the Ptolemies.
In Callimachus’ narrative of the re-foundation he fabricates a genealogy
for Branchus that makes him a child of both places: his father a Delphian,
his mother from Miletus. Little survives of this poem, but lines –,
which are largely restored, provide an image both of motion and cultural
repositioning typical of Callimachus’ adaptation of myth:
t8, S ]
[/] ’ *.. [ r
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. [ ]%, ·

2. []. [] [] . ). 7 m ,
,. . &
 ƒ. . , 
, ]2.  [ 4] 7$$4 /.. . . 
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+8  Q .].. ’ 1[], J[] $/[]

, ’ 7$H 
X d#4]. # 1[]
%  . . . '&’ *. . QO %.
[Phoebus, you] said these things. For your soul leapt at the gifts. [And immediately
he founded] your fair sanctuary in the wood, where you were first seen, upon
planting a branch of laurel near the twin [fountains. Hail, Lord Delph]inius, for
so I begin with this name of yours, since a dolphin bore you from Delos to the
[Ecus]ian city.
The boy who has charmed Apollo plants a laurel bough in the earth, and
thus symbolically translates both Apollo and Delphi to Miletus, and a series
of etymologies binds the locations together: the twin springs (]2
[ 4]) nicely provide the etymology of Didyma, or “twins,” while the
poet’s invocation of Apollo as “Lord Delphinius” plays on the similarity
in Greek of Delphi and dolphin (Q .,  . ). The dolphin-transport
that provides the unexpected etymology makes Apollo, like the Ptolemies,
a lord of the sea. Apollo in this passage is the god at Delphi, Didyma, and
Delos: as he moves elliptically from one site to the other he also moves
from one definition to another: Q .].. ’ may be derived from a term
for the serpent Apollo slays at Delphi,  .4, but also from “womb,”
 .4 , a reference to his birth on Delos. In line  .] O
, if correct,
refers to both the kiss given by the god to Branchus in the wood and the
explanation for the cult title of Apollo Philesios.

 Parke : –. See also Cameron : – and Acosta-Hughes : –.
 POxy. ..– preserves the end of the poem; there is no way of knowing how much has been
lost between the lemma (preserved by the Diegesis) and the beginning of the papyrus.
 By Barber-Maas : . The text from D’Alessio .
 For the Branchidae at Didyma see Hammond .

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 Changing places

the cyrenaica
At a number of places in his extant poetry Callimachus recalls specific
details of the Cyrenaica, that region of Libya that ran from the Kinyps, a
small river near modern Tripoli, to the western edge of the kingdom of
the Ptolemies. In addition to occasional remarks in known poems, there
is a handful of unplaced elegiac and hexameter fragments that speak of
places and peoples that belong to its local history. Almost all of them
overlap with information found earlier in Herodotus and, occasionally, in
Pindar, then again in Apollonius and Lycophron. Most editors divide the
unplaced fragments into those related to the adventure of the Argonauts
and those relating to Cyrene, but the division is by no means clear-cut.
However, when taken together they flesh out the picture of Callimachus’
local poetics. For example, he invokes a local river in his epinician for
Sosibius (fr. .) to magnify the victory: those in Alexandria as well as
those dwelling on the banks of the Kinyps join in celebrating Alexandria’s
native son. The river’s location in the far west makes it unlikely that
inhabitants of the Cyrenaica would have been so included, unless the poem
was written when the region was under Ptolemaic control. Unplaced
fragments mention the Bakaloi (fr.  Pf.), who were a local people in
the region of Taucheira, according to Herodotus (.) and Apollonius
(.); Ausigda (fr.  Pf.) was nearby. Lycophron (–) locates the
tomb of Mopsus here, the Argonaut who died of snakebite while traversing
Libya. Apollonius narrates Mopsus’ death at length though his geography is
not as specific (.–). The “sunburned hill of the Graces” (fr.  Pf.: Y
 2 M
 ,.) was, according to Herodotus, who uses
the same phrase (.: 9 ,. . . . M
), close to the territory of the
Nasamones, pastoral nomads who lived near the Kinyps (Apollonius tells
of their eponymous ancestor, Nasamon at .–). Fr.  Pf. (

8 7&2. , preserved in the scholium to Pythian .) describes
the spontaneous advice of the oracle to the Therans to found the colony
of Cyrene.
Callimachus seems particularly to identify the region around Lake Tri-
tonis (the swamps near Euhesperides) with Athena: in fr.  Pf. of the Aetia
she is said to have been born there:
 Identified with the Wadi Caan, about  miles east of Lepcis Magna. See Talbert : ..
 See, e.g, Pfeiffer : . and Massimilla : .
 Though this does not help to eliminate one or the other Sosibius, since for one the poem would
have fallen before , for the other, after .
 The town was renamed Arsinoe under Ptolemy III, while the nearby Euhesperides was renamed
Berenice, see Hölbl : .

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The Cyrenaica 
 7.’ m  F4
% ,+ []2% &2 %
[] *  *
[] C  &
, .
And in such a guise by the waters of the Asbystian Tritonis, when Hephaestus had
whetted his child-birthing axe, from the forehead of Zeus you leapt out in your
father’s armor.
At fr. . Pf. (th Iambus) Athena is called N
 , obviously
in reference to this birth story, and according to Pliny (HN ..)
Callimachus referred to this lake as that of Pallas (palus vasta . . . Pallantias
appellata Callimacho). The lines above describing Athena’s birth are def-
initely located in Aetia, book , where they record a variant of Athena’s
birth. In some versions she was the daughter of Poseidon and the local
nymph, Tritone (Hdt. .); here she is sprung from Zeus’s head with
Hephaestus featured as an unorthodox midwife. According to Herodotus
(.), the native peoples near Lake Tritonis were accustomed to worship
Athena by choosing a young woman to don armor and drive a chariot
(obviously in imitation of the goddess), and such local cult practice may
underpin Callimachus’ choice of details. The exact context of these lines
is a puzzle. They are unlikely to belong to the Argonautic material at the
beginning of the book, since its focus is a ritual on Anaphe, with a sub-
sidiary discussion of the Colchian colonies in northwestern Greece and
Epirus. Also, the lines begin X
, which requires that the passage be a
comparison: something else is “just like” or, as Adrian Hollis translates,
“in such a guise.” He has suggested that this passage could be describing,
by way of comparison, an epiphany or a statue of Athena that looks just
like Athena did when she sprang in armor from her father’s head. If he is
correct, the comparison draws Athena from another location into the orb
of Cyrenean North Africa, and this would be consonant with Callimachus’
narrative strategies in the writing of place.
One of the most interesting Cyrenaic fragments (fr.  Pf.) invokes the
“heroines of Libya”:
2& K4 ;  , V e
P    + 8 7& 2&

2  T% (.2 
Mistresses, heroines of Libya, who watch over the tent (?) and the long shores of
the Nasamones, assist my living mother (sc. Cyrene).
 Athena Tritonis is also associated with Boeotia and a number of other locations, see Stephens :
 Fr.  Pf.  : . He suggests Athena as she appeared to Teuthis (SH ).

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 Changing places
These divinities come to the aid of Apollonius’ Argonauts when they are
carrying the Argo across the Grand Syrtes in their attempt to find an outlet
to the sea (.–); and, in fact, Callimachus’ lines are preserved by
the scholiast on that passage of the Argonautica (.). Because this is
an invocation editors have been reluctant to assign it to the Aetia, where
the only speaking Cyrenean seems to have been Callimachus himself. No
opportunity for him to address these goddesses readily suggests itself in the
first two books; where space would be available he is already conversing
with the Muses. However, the expression 
2  T% can only
refer to Cyrene, and the Aetia Epilogue may provide a parallel. If the reading
. 8 ’ '/ (“nurse of my queen,” fr. . Pf.) is correct, then the
nurse would be Cyrene and the queen, Berenice II, since Cyrene was her
homeland. It could be that the address to the K4 ;  belonged to
a poem about Berenice, like the elegiac fragment (fr.  Pf.) that mentions
her and her father, king Magas (of Cyrene).
It is certainly possible that some or all of these fragments fell within
the parts of Aetia, book  or , about which we have little information. If,
for the sake of argument, there were a series of stories located within the
Cyrenaica (like the death of Mopsus), they would balance the Sicilian cities
from the earlier part of book . The presence of Busiris, the legendary Egyp-
tian pharaoh who sacrificed all strangers who entered his land (fr.  Pf.),
raises another possibility. It was Heracles who killed Busiris, by sacrificing
him on his own altar. This event supposedly occurred while Heracles
was traversing North Africa and before he made his appearance at Lindos.
Book  might contain an aition about Heracles in the Cyrenaica. Alter-
natively, these scraps could belong to an Argo adventure that resembled
Apollonius’ Libyan trek, but was narrated in occasional and disconnected
aitia throughout books  and  (and, in fact, many of these fragments can
be matched up with incidents in the fourth book of the Argonautica, where
Heracles also makes an appearance). Equally, they could function as a coun-
terpoint – a series of stories of the Cyrenaica that quite deliberately did
not belong to the Argo voyage as Callimachus tells it (which seems focused
on western Greece). A final possibility is that proposed by Luigi Lehnus,
namely that the hexameter fragments belonged to a separate and now lost
poem on Cyrene. It is not necessary to choose between these possibilities,
 For a discussion of whether T% means “living” or “thriving”, see D’Alessio : –
n. .
 Though it is not clear that Callimachus included Heracles in fr.  Pf., Ovid’s imitation at AA
.– suggests that he was not mentioned, but in Ibis – Busiris is said to have died on his
own altar, a fate inflicted by Heracles.
 Lehnus .

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Alexandria 
since elements of Cyrenean geography and cult appeared in more than one
poetic venue and at various moments in Callimachus’ lifetime.

When Callimachus constructs the poetic topography of Cyrene, he is
able to work within an earlier tradition that included Pindar’s epinicia for
Cyrenean victors, the city’s nearly four-hundred-year history as a Greek
colony, and local landscapes like the waters of Dio or the hill of Myrtussa
that were long tied to figures of Greek cult or myth. To some extent
he employs similar strategies in “writing” Alexandria: emphasizing the
origins of the Ptolemies and linking local places with figures of Greek
myth like Helen; and, despite the newness of the city, he does feature local
monuments like the old temple to Serapis or the mausoleum for Arsinoe
II. Still, the lack of a civic history limits his options, and it appears that he
often creates a history either by emphasizing a long-standing “Egyptian”
connection found in earlier Greek writers or, especially in the Aetia, by
accretions of tales that culminate with or serve as models for Alexandrian
events. For example, Callimachus opens his elegiac epinician on Berenice
II’s victory in chariot-racing at the Nemean games with the following
markers of place:
To Zeus and Nemea I owe a fair debt, bride, holy blood of the Sibling Gods, . . . our
epinician for [your] horses, for just now a golden word has come from the land of
cowborn Danaus to Helen’s [island] and to the Pallenean prophet, shepherd [of
seals, sc. Proteus].
The Panhellenic games were premiere venues to display one’s Greekness.
In this opening, however, Callimachus emphasizes not so much the Greek-
ness of the queen (although that is present) but her difference, namely her
fictitious descent from the “Sibling Gods,” Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II.
He also stresses the interconnectedness of the two spaces – Nemea and
Alexandria – and the movement south. The news of victory is represented
as coming from the site of victory to the homeland where the narrator is
situated. “A golden word has come”: Callimachus did not leave Egypt to
 For the Greek text, see above, p. .
 She was the daughter of Ptolemy II’s half-brother, Magas of Cyrene, and Apame. Cf. Theocritus’
stress on the continuity of divine pairs in Idd.  and . Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II were the children,
literally as well as in cult, of Ptolemy I and Berenice I, thus supplying the paradigm for a Greek
Alexandrian audience. For the political value of the claim, see Llewellyn-Jones and Winder :
 In Pindar, the news tends to arrive with the poet, as in Pyth. .–: .2 2  *+. But see
Harder : . for parallels of news traveling to a place.

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 Changing places
hear it, and in fact the poetic migration parallels the earlier migration
of ancestors. Then Callimachus inserts Alexandria into the Greek past by
means of key figures: Helen and Proteus link the physical spaces of the new
city with earlier Greek myth, while Danaus hints at the genealogy of the
new reigning house.
Alexandria lacked a foundation myth, and, like Macedon before it, it
was not really Greek, so myths that could provide the northern Egyptian
coastline with a Greek past became quite fashionable not just with Hel-
lenistic poets but within the wider venue of civic identity. Menelaus was
an important figure in the mythology of the entire North African littoral
as far as the river Kinyps; his adventures in Egypt, already mentioned in
the Odyssey, were later elaborated in the tradition of the Nostoi. His pilot
Canopus, for example, was said to have died from snakebite on the Alexan-
drian shoreline and given his name to the district – Canopus. Apollonius
wrote on this subject, though the poem is now lost. But for Callimachus,
Helen seems to have been the preferred figure. Both Herodotus (.–)
and Euripides (in his Helen) tell the story of Helen not going to Troy
but rather spending the war years in Egypt. Euripides’ play was set in the
coastal region of Egypt that later became Alexandria, and thus the new
city could enter the orb of old Hellas. In Euripides, only an eidolon of
Helen was carried off to Troy, while she was transported to Egypt. Proteus,
who was Homer’s old man of the sea, becomes an Egyptian king; noted
for his wisdom, he becomes the guardian of Helen until Menelaus can
claim her. “Helen’s island” in the Victory of Berenice alludes not only to
her sojourn in Egypt, but to an Egypt that preserved her virtue. The “Pal-
lenean prophet, the shepherd of seals” of the poem’s opening is Proteus.
“Shepherd of seals” aligns him with Homer’s Odyssey, but the epithet Pal-
lenean operates somewhat differently: it again requires a movement from
north to south. According to Lycophron (–), Proteus was once hus-
band to the Thracian nymph Torone and resided with her in Pallene, but
because of the lawlessness of their sons, he prayed to his father Poseidon
to open a channel underground by which he returned to his Egyptian
 Unlike his interlocutor, he has not left Egypt in fr. .–. Similarly at fr. .– and –
(Iambus ) he has not gone to Ephesus.
 Alexander as oikistes is a feature of the Alexander Romance and was certainly promoted as such in
cult, but the early Hellenistic poets tend to prefer figures from earlier Greek myth.
 Demotics included Heleneios (for Helen) and Kastoreios and Polydeukeios (for her brothers, the
Dioscuri). Fraser : .–.
 For a discussion of Menelaus’ role in Libyan colonization, see Malkin : –. Ptolemy I had a
brother named Menelaus, and this might have contributed to an interest in exploiting the Homeric
Menelaus’ Libyan connections.
 See Krevans : –.

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Alexandria 
homeland. Virgil employs the same epithet, but in his own realignment
of Greek geography that tends to erase Egypt, Pallene has become the
homeland of Proteus, who briefly visits Egypt. The epithet is ambiguous
in Callimachus, but whether indicating Proteus’ origins or his temporary
sojourn, it still encodes a movement south, one that resembles the trajec-
tory of the Ptolemies themselves who migrated from Macedon. The same
mythological markers occur in fr. , the so-called Deification of Arsinoe.
Upon her death, according to the brief summary of the Diegesis, Helen’s
brothers, the Dioscuri, bore Arsinoe II to heaven, where she became a star.
The poem also mentioned an altar and sanctuary established for her near
the harbor area (Emporium), and Proteus figures in line : -
 ’ 7
 . (“so true [reports] came to Proteus”). The
poem opens as a song in the first person with at least two apostrophes to the
dead queen (lines , ), but the best-preserved section (beginning around
line ) is an external narrative of an exchange between Arsinoe’s sister,
Philotera, who had predeceased her, and the goddess Charis. After the
Philotera-Charis section the perspective appears to shift from the setting
of the poem’s opening: it follows the departed queen, it returns to Egypt
(at line ), then, in Philotera’s lament, it moves from Sicily to Lemnos
to Athos. Finally, through Charis’ gaze, the reader is returned to Egypt.
However, the point of view throughout is Alexandrian and North African:
the coast (including Alexandria) is Philotera’s “my Libya” (line ), the
“fair south wind” (line ) originates here, and the site of the mortuary
shrine (the Emporium), the Dioscuri, who are the tutelary protectors of
Alexandrian shipping, and Proteus, who is associated with Pharos, are not
only features of contemporary Alexandria, but prominent components of
the city’s economic success. This may not be coincidence. In fact, the throne
promoted Arsinoe’s cult throughout the empire, and many towns and ports
were renamed Arsinoe as an index of Ptolemy’s maritime dominion.
Locating Alexandria at the center happens not only in the context of
the throne and not just via the myths of the past. The convergence of the
ideological and the literary may also be seen in the st and th Iambi.
The th Iambus is constructed as the inverse of and as a response to the
st : in the st Iambus Callimachus conjures up the archaic poet, Hipponax,

 Georgics .–. See Thomas : – and below ch. .

 It is not clear that the phrase A2 F, preserved in the Diegesis is a title – it looks
more like a description. But it remains the conventional way to refer to the poem. See further
Acosta-Hughes : – and Lelli .
 Asper  points out that about half of the Iambi are set in Alexandria (frr. –, , –,
– Pf.).

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 Changing places
to rail against the critics, and in the th Callimachus (Hipponax’s alter
ego) conjures up the critics to rail against him. The th Iambus opens
with an accusation of some rancor placed into the mouths of Callimachus’
critics, apparently to the effect that he had not gone to Ephesus and thus
not properly prepared himself to write invective in the style of Hipponax.
Callimachus ends this poem with a defiant stance: yes, he is writing iambics
without having gone to Ephesus.
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for [ . . . you] neither mingled with the Ionians, nor went to Ephesus . . . Ephesus,
whence those intending to produce the limping feet [choliambics] take fire not
without learning. (fr. .– Pf.)
The reason that Callimachus does not need to go to Ephesus is that (de
facto) Ephesus has come to him. The staging of the st Iambus is neither
vague nor ambiguous. Hipponax returns from the Underworld to chastise
quarrelsome critics in Alexandria: he summons them to a temple outside
of the walls:
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Come in a throng to the shrine before the wall, where the old man who fashioned
the ancient Panchaean Zeus chatters and scratches down his unrighteous books.
(fr. .– Pf.)
According to the Diegesis, the temple where Euhemerus is scratching
out his unrighteous books was Parmenio’s Serapeum. This opening to
the poem (and thus to the Iambi as a collection) does not simply have an
Alexandrian locale, it is marked in a particularly tendentious way. Euhe-
merus was an older contemporary of Callimachus, whose Sacred register
apparently claimed that Zeus was originally a mortal who became a god via
extraordinary services to mankind (hence his books were “unrighteous”).
Yet his writings provide precisely the route that monarchs like the Ptolemies

 This is not the great Serapeum built by Ptolemy III, but apparently an earlier temple – named in
the Diegesis. This Serapeum is known from a Ptolemaic document from  bc (PCZ .–,
which records a pledge in the “Serapeum of Parmeniscus”). The choice of location suggests a certain
irony. The distance between Serapis, Euhemerus’ human Zeus, and the divinized Ptolemies was
vanishingly small.

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Alexandria 
might take to future divinity. Euhemerus, whether the man himself or a
statue, is in front of a uniquely Alexandrian space: a temple to Serapis.
Serapis was a cross between an avatar of Egyptian Osiris (the Apis) and
Greek Dionysus and was promoted to be the state god by the Ptolemies.
This is no longer old Greece. But what was old Greece? That old Greek,
Hipponax, surely did not belong to a living performance tradition – that he
can speak where he can speak is a manifestation of Callimachus’ poetic pow-
ers. The subtext of Hipponax’s appearance is surely that if he had come
physically to Alexandria, he can have done so only as a roll in the new
Library, another uniquely Alexandrian place that guaranteed that figures
like Hipponax would not fade from the collective memory.
Finally, the only other epinician that we know Callimachus to have
written was for Sosibius (fr.  Pf.). Most probably this Sosibius was the
extremely important, if unscrupulous, figure from Euergetes’ court, who, at
the accession of Ptolemy IV Philopater, orchestrated the deaths of a num-
ber of the royal family, including Berenice II (in /). The high rank of
this Sosibius would accord well with athletic victories, since they tended to
be status markers, and despite the man’s character flaws Callimachus would
not have been the only one to celebrate him: the Delians honored Sosibius
in a decree and the Cnidians with a statue. Callimachus’ poem probably
belongs around  and is truly local praise poetry, just as Pindar’s victory
odes are customized to celebrate the victor in his hometown. Sosibius was
an Alexandrian by birth, not simply in residence. As he does in the Victory
of Berenice, Callimachus brings the news of Sosibius’ victories from the
Nemean and Isthmian games to Egypt, not just to those in Alexandria,
but to those as far as “the banks of the Kinyps” (R.  g,

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fr. .– Pf.). Local pride is personified by a speaking Nile boasting of
Sosibius as “his nursling” (), and although the poem is in celebration
of the immediate victories at Isthmia and Nemea, the poet also mentions

 Stephens : –.

 If he is supposed to be physically present, then the poem cannot be much later than , and probably
should be earlier. Rees : – suggested a way out of the problem, namely that Hipponax refers
to a statue of Euhemerus rather like the statues of poets and philosophers found in an exhedra along
the dromos of the Memphite Serapeum. Why Euhemerus should be honored with a statue is not
immediately apparent. (Those in the Memphite Serapeum were of Homer, Pindar, Hesiod, Thales,
Protagoras, Plato, Heraclitus, and several others of doubtful attribution. See Lauer : ). The
exhedra seems to have been constructed under the first Ptolemies and thus provides a fine example
of how poets and philosophers from other locations in the Mediterranean could be collectively
possessed by those Greeks living in Egypt.
 Hölbl : –.

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 Changing places
victories won previously in Egyptian games. Finally, though lines –
are quite broken, two cult sites are mentioned and therefore linked: a
dedication in the temple of Hera at Argos and a later one at the shrine
of Zeus Casius at Pelusium, which Callimachus as poet claims to have
seen (line ). Interwoven, then, with the details of Sosibius’ victories are
elements unique to Egypt in such a way that praise of the one reinforces
the other and celebrates the whole of Ptolemaic North Africa.

the argive ancestors

If Helen and Proteus gave the physical environs of Alexandria its previous
Greek history, Argos furnished the Macedonian line and the new rulers
with their “Greek” lineage. It is, therefore, worth considering how Argos is
represented in Callimachus’ poetry. In the opening of the Victory of Berenice
quoted above, Argos is the “land of cowborn Danaus.” He was descended
from Argive Io – the girl who caught Zeus’s fancy, was turned into a cow by
Hera, and driven over the eastern Mediterranean until she reached Egypt.
There she gave birth to a son, conceived from Zeus by a “touch.” He in
turn sired Libya and Egypt. According to the Suda, Callimachus wrote
on the Arrival of Io (A!: 1. ) and the Foundation of Argos (z$%
#, ). Whether independent poems or sections of larger works like
the Aetia, they are reliable indices of Callimachus’ interest in the mythic
prehistory of Argos with its autochthonous ancestors like Inachus (also
the local river) and his offspring (Phoroneus, Apis, Pelasgus, Arestor) and
Danaus, the city’s founder. Io is variously said to have been the daughter
of Inachus himself or a descendent in the third or fourth generation from
Peirôn or Iasos. Callimachus refers to Io as A!  in fr. . Pf. (an aition
on the Argive fountains), but as A!+ in the Hymn to Artemis . In
Ep.  Pf. (=  GP) he calls her Isis A!+, equating Io with Egyptian Isis,
an identification found already in Herodotus (.). The Argive line also
included Heracles, who was a divine ancestor and an example of a mortal,
like Euheremus’ Zeus, who became a god.
In the fourth century, Argos dedicated statues to line the Sacred Way at
Delphi which represented its heroic ancestors as descended from Danaus;
these included Perseus, Electryon, and Alcmene, the mother of Heracles.

 Probably the Ptolemaia, but the Basileia is another possibility (D’Alessio : . n. ).
 Hence he was called Epaphus (from 7&/. = “touching”).
 See Apollodorus ..– (which is probably based on Hesiod’s Catalogue of women).
 Testimonium . Pf.  See D’Alessio : .
 See Hall : – on the plasticity of these genealogical trees.

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The Argive ancestors 
These same Argive ancestors were critical for the kings of Macedon. In
antiquity (as even now) the ethnic status of Macedonians was not uncon-
tested. Herodotus, for example, relates that when Alexander I of Macedon
was competing in the Olympic games, certain Greek competitors tried
to exclude him on the grounds that “foreigners could not compete,” but
Alexander demonstrated that by descent he was an Argive, and he was
thus declared Greek (..). The Argive roots of the Macedonian line, at
least according to Herodotus (.–), derived from the descendents of
Temenus, who settled in Macedon, particularly Argeas, after whom the
kings were called “Argead.” The fact that a century later Demosthenes
(.) could assert that Philip II was “neither a Greek nor a remote rel-
ative of the Greeks, nor even a respectable barbarian,” but a wretched
Macedonian, suggests that the kings of Macedon needed continually to
assert their kinship with Greek communities. This could be the reason that
Euripides began his now fragmentary play, the Archelaus, with this Argive
Danaus, the father of fifty daughters, leaving the fairest waters of the Nile and
coming into Argos, founded the city of Inachus, and established the custom that
those previously called Pelasgians be called Danaans throughout Hellas . . . from
Lynceus . . . Abas was born, and his offspring was double: Proetus, the father of
three daughters driven mad, and Acrisius, who once enclosed Danae in a bronze
bridal chamber. Perseus was born from Danae from streams of showering gold.
After he cut off the Gorgon’s head and came to Ethiopia, he married Andromeda
the daughter of Cepheus. She bore three sons by Perseus: Alcaeus and Sthenelaus,
who held the city of Argive Mycenae, and the third was the father of Alcmene,
Electryon. Zeus, entering the bed of Alcmene seeded the famous Heracles. Hyllus
was his son, and Hyllus fathered Temenus, who dwelt in Argos as a descendent of
Heracles. Being childless, my father Temenus came to the folds of holy Dodona,
desirous of children. And the priestess of Dione, named for Zeus, told Temenus
these things: “O child born from the seed of Heracles, Zeus will give you a child,
I prophesy, whom you should name Archelaus” . . .
The Ptolemies were not closely related to Alexander II, although they
may have allowed the story that Ptolemy I was a bastard son of Philip
to circulate. The official line, however, according to Satyrus, writing
a century later in On the demes of Alexandria, was that Alexander and
the Ptolemies shared a common descent from Amyntas I (in the sixth
 Communis opinio has it that the play was written for Archelaus of Macedon in the late fifth century
bc. Whether it was performed in Macedon or Athens is unknown, but it was performed in the
third century at the Heraia in Argos and the Naı̈a in Dodona (Harder : –; Collard, Cropp,
and Lee : .).
 Collins .

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 Changing places
century). This line running through Amyntas originated with Heracles,
Hyllus, and Temenus – the figures in Euripides’ play. Alexander’s kin (the
Argeads) descended from Amyntas’ son Alexander I, while the Ptolemies
staked their claim on descent from a more obscure son of Amyntas, who
was the grandfather of Arsinoe. She was the wife of Lagos and Ptolemy
I’s mother. Thus the same Macedonian genealogy could be enlisted to
bolster the Ptolemies’ claims to legitimacy, by stressing their own hereditary
connection to Alexander and the Argead kings, and to acquire divine
ancestors like Heracles and Perseus. The Argive line of descent had an
additional advantage for Greek kings in Egypt: via Danaus, the (Argive)
Egyptian or (Egyptian) Argive and his kin, the Ptolemies could stake a
hereditary claim to Egypt; at the same time, as Macedonian kings of
Egypt, they could use their Argive heritage to enhance their connections
to mainland Greece. Familiarity with these genealogies did not require
abstruse learning: they must have been common knowledge for those who
lived in the new city: among the names for Alexandria’s civic units (or
demes) were Argeadês, Koineus, Temeneios, Inacheios, Autodikeios (named
after a daughter of Danaus), and Andromacheios (after a son of Aegyptus).

the “causes” of alexandria

Callimachus’ Aetia was his most influential work, and the most geograph-
ically ambitious. The original elegiac poem covered four books (between
, and , lines), and consisted of short narratives, each of which
provided an explanatory account of an unusual ritual, event, or object. The
poem as a whole was not linear, nor did it have consistent characters (apart
from Callimachus himself ), but like an author-designed book of poems
the enjambed stories invite the reader to construct sense from repetitions,
juxtapositions, and contrasts. Consensus holds that the individual aitia
were organized within two discrete frames: Callimachus’ conversation with
the Muses forms the pretext for the stories within books – (probably
interlaced with tales he heard at a symposium that he in turn recounts to
the Muses), whereas books  and  were much more loosely organized,
bracketed by two poems dedicated to Berenice II. These were respectively
an epinician for her victory at the Nemean games and a poem on the
 Fraser : . n. , and see Lianou  on the role played by this line in legitimating the
 This is part of the point of the opening scene on Olympus in Theocritus, Id.  – Ptolemy I
and Alexander flank their common ancestor Heracles, who takes pleasure in the “sons of his sons”
(line ).
 Fraser : . and Bulloch’s helpful summary in his commentary (: –).

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
dedication of a lock of her hair for the safe return of her new husband,
Ptolemy III, from the Third Syrian War. Only about  percent of the
Aetia now survives, comprising fragments from at least fifty discrete tales.
For the majority of them, however, the subject matter, placement, and
relative order is secure enough to enable one to talk about overarching
patterns and anchoring themes, thanks to ancient synopses and commen-
taries, though they too are fragmentary. The most important of them is the
second-century-ad prose summary, the so-called Milan Diegeseis, which
provide the order for much of book  and all of book . It is not certain if
the Diegeseis include all of the episodes, though to judge from the surviving
fragments of individual aitia this is a reasonable assumption.
Discussions of the Aetia have tended to concentrate on a few episodes:
the Prologue and Dream, the Acontius and Cydippe in book , the Victory
of Berenice, and the Lock of Berenice, to the neglect of the poem’s overall
trajectory. This happens in part because these are the largest and most
coherent fragments, but also because these are the sections that appear to
have been heavily mined by Roman poets. However, selection necessarily
obscures the scale and contour of the narrative as it moves from its
myth-historical beginnings to the contemporary dedication of the Lock.
Fortunately, the scholarship on even the smallest fragments is detailed
and informative, and the recent publication of two new commentaries on
the Aetia now enables a broader discussion of the features of the poem,
however truncated its parts may be. For readers not entirely familiar with
the order and contents of the Aetia, this information has been provided
in an appendix (see also maps –). What follows is a discussion of the
geo-poetic dynamics of the Aetia, the patterns of ancestral myth, and the
themes that recur as the poem progresses.
The overall structure of the poem is by no means random. Callimachus
employs a number of narrative strategies to achieve cohesion, including a
stable geographic center (Alexandria and Cyrene) to which the individual
tales are attracted, generic progression, narrative doublets, and a number
of interlocked and recurring themes. But the most important is that Calli-
machus (as poet) is the narrator in all four books. Whether he is recounting
his dream conversations, what he learned at a symposium, what the source
of his story was, or what he plans to write next, he is the source from whom
all of the discrete narratives flow. Although the majority of the stories are
situated in the past, his continuous presence means that the Aetia as a whole
 All recent editions follow Parsons , who first proposed the twofold frame in his brilliant re-
edition of the Lille fragment. Books – are thought have been finished (or published) much earlier
than –. For the status of the question see now Harder : .–.

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 Changing places
views the Mediterranean from the vantage point of contemporary Libya
(and this includes both Cyrene and Alexandria at various moments). The
aitia themselves serve to demarcate the Greek world of the third century bc
by narrations of change that places and peoples have undergone, marginal-
izing some locations and foregrounding others. Identities shift as objects,
often adventitiously, gain or lose meaning, while poets and historians play
leading roles in the recollections that make a place or a thing now culturally
The Libya-centric geography begins in the Prologue and continues
through the Epilogue. In the Prologue the poet describes himself as an
old man who wishes to shed his age; he relives the moment in his youth
when Apollo instructed him how to write poetry. The biographical for-
mulation of the opening guarantees that Callimachus must be in either
Cyrene or Alexandria (or perhaps each in turn, as the youth he remembers
and as the old man who narrates these tales). A late epigram in the Palatine
Anthology confirms the opening location:
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Ah, great, celebrated dream of the wise Battiad, you were really of horn and not
ivory. You revealed to us the sorts of things that we men did not know before
about immortals, about the demigods, when having taken him up from Libya,
carrying him to Helicon, you led him into the midst of the Muses. There to him
asking about the Causes pertaining to primeval heroes and the blessed ones, they
spoke in response. (AP .)
This epigram also confirms that Callimachus does not physically leave
his homeland; apparently all of the places in the subsequent narratives of
books – are projections of his own poetic imagination. And his lack of
interest in autopsy (however fictitious) may have served as the excuse for
 See Chaniotis : – for a discussion of cultural memory (memories of the past) and collective
memory (shared memories of contemporary events) in the Hellenistic period. His observations on
how itinerant historians, envoys, pilgrims to sacred shrines, mercenaries, and mobile performers
exploit the past and invent “memories” would also apply to Callimachus.
 For the Hellenistic poets, Libya extended to the easternmost mouth of the Nile. Thus it was the
location of Cyrene as well as Alexandria, see fr. . Pf. and Posidippus . A–B and Stephens
: –.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
his insistence on naming his sources. In book  the Platonic traces we have
identified in fragments  (Sicilian cities) and  Pf. (Icus) reinforce what
is becoming the consensus, namely that fr.  Pf., in which Callimachus
attends a symposium at the residence of an Athenian immigrant to Egypt,
should be located at the beginning of book  just before fr. . This
placement means that Aetia  would also open with Callimachus the
narrator firmly located in contemporary Egypt. The Athenian who has
migrated to Egypt and the Ician who visits provide personal narratives that
reinforce a shift to this new center.
Book  opens with Callimachus speaking in his own voice (no longer
channeling the Muses) and proclaiming the victory of the reigning queen,
Berenice II, at Nemea. The word of the victory has traveled from old Greece
to Egypt, and specifically to Pharos. Cyrene (and, indirectly, Alexandria)
appears again in the long, and important, account of Acontius and Cydippe.
Fr. .– Pf. tells of Acontius’ descent from the priests of Zeus Aristaeus,
who was the son of Apollo and Cyrene. According to the aition, Aristaeus
was sent to Ceos when the Dog Star (Sirius) was damaging crops with its
heat and propitiated Zeus and Sirius. As a result he received cult there.
Ceos’ harbor city, Coresia, was significant for Ptolemy II’s campaigns during
the Chremonidean War; at this time the name of Coresia was changed to
Arsinoe. The whole of the Aetia ends with a second poem for Cyrenean
Berenice, this time commemorating the dedication of a lock of her hair in
the temple of Arsinoe-Aphrodite at Cape Zephyrium, a few kilometers east
of Alexandria. Berenice’s heritage may also have been emphasized in the
Epilogue. W. 8 ’ '/ (‘the nurse of my queen’) has been proposed
as the correct reading in fr. . Pf. The restoration gains considerable
strength from a funerary epigram for Eratosthenes of Cyrene in which the
phrase <%O | 8 occurs. Callimachus thus seems to mark his initial
appearance in each book geographically: Cyrene and/or Alexandria➔ Egypt
(Alexandria) ➔ Alexandria ➔ Alexandria + Cyrene➔ Cyrene.

Narrative strategies
Over the four books it is possible to observe a shift in poetic models and
narrative style that maps quite easily to genre. In Aetia – the Muses play
a structural role as characters engaged in dialogue with the poet; in Aetia
 Almost the only location for fr.  is in bk. , so even if it does not open the book, Callimachus
still locates himself in Egypt within the course of its narrative.
 The narrative in the Argonautica (.–) also describes this cult.  See Hölbl : .
 Dionysius of Cyzicus, AP ..– = GP –, for details see Massimilla : .

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 Changing places
– they appear only as abstracts, as the equivalent of a poet’s song. This
dialogue structure of Aetia – reflects the role of the Muses in hexameter
poetry, where the relationship of the Muse(s) and the poet is one of direct
communication. Callimachus underscores this with his dream journey to
Helicon, the site of Hesiod’s initiation at the opening of the Theogony
and his interaction with the Muses as sources of information on the gods.
These books contain a greater density of material that features the heroes
who populated hexameter poetry – the Argonauts, Heracles, Peleus, figures
from Troy. Aetia books – look to different literary models: Aetia  opens
with an epinician that imitates Pindar, segues to Simonides, the subject
of fr.  Pf., then turns to Bacchylides and Pindar again for the narrative
of the Telchines in fr.  Pf. Sappho provides intertexts for fragments
 Pf. and  Pf. and, particularly, for  Pf. These models de facto
alter the tone from the heroes of the past to celebrations fit for kings,
athletic victors, and the erotic. It has long been noted that the aitia of the
fourth book are darker in tone, less predictable, and have more ironic twists
than the earlier stories, rehearsing tales of scapegoating, human sacrifice,
and dysfunctional families. There are also a number of female figures,
often with strong affiliations to tragedy (Ino, Limonis, and Antigone). As
the poem as a whole draws to a close, aitia that echo tragic themes are
particularly apt, since tragedy, especially late Euripides, often resolved its
civic conflicts with apotheosis and cult formation. They provide a model
that is often overlooked for the events in the final aition of the lock. Whether
Callimachus’ &T). , refers to the Iambi or to prose, the Muses in the
Epilogue to the poem (fr. . Pf.: 
 7$H W%2 &T). [*]&
, “But I shall go to the pedestrian pasture of the Muses”) enact a
similar movement: they travel from one genre to another.
One of the most distinctive (and well-discussed) features of the Aetia is
Callimachus’ habit of employing narrative doublets, and they appear from
the very beginning of the poem. An early aition (frr. – Pf.) explains why
Heracles’ cult at Lindos involved ritual blasphemy. The answer was that
he encountered a Lindian farmer, who was plowing, and killed and ate
one of the farmer’s oxen, to the accompaniment of the farmer’s curses –
the event now commemorated in his worship. The very next aition is so
similar early editors thought that there could have been only one story,

 For example at fr. . Pf. they seem to mean the Aetia; at fr. . Pf. probably the Iambi. Frr. .
Pf. and . Pf. allude to the Muses of Hesiod’s Theogony – the first opens the poem, the second
closes it.
 Events featuring the Telchines occur in Bacchylides  and also in Pindar’s th Paean.
 On the echoes of Sappho see further Acosta-Hughes : –.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
not two. This second aition (frr. – Pf.) takes place in the land of the
Dryopians (around Trachis); here Heracles killed the ox, and its owner as
well. The statue of Artemis at Leucas (b–e Pf.) has a mortar on her head.
The statue of Athena at Teuthis (fr.  Pf. + SH ) has a bandage
on her thigh. There are two tales about a statue or statues of Hera at
Samos (frr. – Pf.); the love story of Acontius and Cydippe (frr. –
 Pf.) has as a doublet the story of Phrygius and Pieria (frr. – Pf.).
And there are many more. Parallel tales play several roles: most obviously
they preserve the memory of distinctive regional practices. But they also
bind these distinctive practices together by staging them (especially the
odd or anomalous) not as unique but as part of a behavioral continuum
that can be found throughout the broad empire of the Ptolemies. The
continuum operates both temporally, to link the past and the present, and
geographically to link diverse peoples – Lindos and Trachis, Leucas and
Teuthis (in Arcadia), Naxos and Miletus.
The constant use of stories that resemble each other draws the reader
into a receptive mode that authorizes the making of associations, even
when only one story is narrated. The aition of Roman Gaius is a case in
point (frr. – Pf.). After being wounded in the thigh during a battle,
Gaius complained to his mother about his limp; she admonished him to
behave with greater fortitude. Versions of this anecdote are attested for
many different locations: in particular it was told of a Spartan warrior, and
about Philip and Alexander. When Philip complained about a wound in
his thigh Alexander told him to think of his valor with his every step. The
Greek reader of this anecdote may actually be surprised to find it applied
to the Roman, and would quite easily connect this Roman iteration with
the latent Greek examples. Such a narrative environment also permits a
cautionary tale to masquerade in the guise of an amusing anecdote. A story
that elides Roman, Spartan, and Macedonian military courage is ostensibly
a compliment to the emerging political power in the west, but also contains
as its subtext a potential warning. Finally, as the Roman aition illustrates,
the reader is led to perceive commonalities between Greek and non-Greek
cultural realms. This becomes especially important in Callimachus’ writing
of Egyptian cultic behaviors in Greek garb.
 See Harder : .–.
 There also may be an aition about a statue of Athena with her eyes closed, see D’Alessio : 
n. .
 For the Spartan story see Stob. ..; for Philip and Alexander, see Plut. On the Fortunes of Alexander
(b –).
 Permutations of these narrative strategies include individuals with the same name but different
stories attached to them; for example, Erigone the daughter of Icarius (fr.  Pf.) and Erigone the

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 Changing places
Within its Alexandrian/Cyrenean frame stories are staged at places
throughout the Mediterranean that are of importance to the Ptolemies:
Sicily, Italy, and the Adriatic in the west, the Peloponnese (Argos, Arcadia),
Attica, Boeotia, Sicyon, Thessaly, and Thrace, the Ionian coastline (Eph-
esus, Myos, Miletus) and the Greek islands (Paros, Ceos, Naxos, Anaphe),
Cyrene and Egypt. Panhellenic sites of Olympus, Nemea, Isthmia, Del-
phi, and Delos each have their aition as well. Certain themes recur, the most
important of which are the relationship of guests and hosts; pious and
impious behaviors, the latter sometimes ironically redressed; divine wrath
in the form of plagues or blights on the land; kin murder; love stories that
resolve social conflict; heroes of the past including Minos, Heracles, the
Argonauts, and those returning from Troy; and memory and forgetting.
The story of the Tomb of Simonides (fr.  Pf.) illustrates the way in which
the themes of hospitality, divine retribution, and memory coalesce. The
dead poet complains that the tyrant of Acragas tore down his tomb to
use in a defensive wall, a tomb that the citizens had previously erected for
him in gratitude and in reverence for Zeus Xenios (line ). He prays to the
Dioscuri for revenge. The inscription on his tomb records that the poet had
devised a system of memorizing (a double reminder of the role of writing
and memory – the speaking epitaph and the mnemonic device). As part of
his prayer the poet recalls an incident in his past, when he was a guest of the
Scopadae, the Thessalian tyrants who had earlier dishonored him by refus-
ing to pay him in full for his work. At that time the Dioscuri came to his aid
by summoning him out from a banquet hall; shortly thereafter it collapsed
and killed everyone within. The recollection of the previous punishment
of the Scopadae creates the expectation that the tyrant will suffer a similar
fate for his act of impiety. The tale illustrates how the past is preserved
as the poet (Simonides) keeps alive the memory of the punishment of the
Scopadae, but also how it can be lost, as when his tomb is obliterated. It
is another poet (Callimachus) who now preserves that memory. Finally, as
the poem progresses, recurring accreted similarities or behavioral contrasts
form patterns through which a fairly consistent moral vision is allowed to

wife of Orestes (fr.  Pf.), or supposedly ancient tales with almost exact parallels in recent events,
for example the story of Pasicles discussed below.
 See maps – and Asper .
 See Bulloch  on these themes in Aetia, books –.  Bing : .

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The “causes” of Alexandria 

The mythological frame: Minos

According to the Florentine Scholia, the first aition was spoken by Clio,
the Muse of history, who introduces a quasi-historical dimension to the
whole with the figure of Minos at the height of his sea power “when
he stretched his yoke over the neck of the islands” of the Mediterranean
(fr.  Pf.). As he was sacrificing, Minos was informed of the death of his son,
Androgeos. Nothing more survives, but other sources relate that Androgeos
was killed when visiting Athens (either accidently or in jealousy as he
competed in games), and his death precipitated Minos’ well-known revenge
upon Athens. Minos prayed to his father Poseidon, who sent the bull of
Marathon to ravage Attica. Theseus later captured and sacrificed this bull
(the subject of Callimachus’ Hecale), and in recompense Minos demanded
the sacrifice of young Athenian men and women to the Minotaur. Thus
the opening not only sets the stage at what Thucydides would identify
(.) as the dawn of the first great sea power, but by introducing Minos in
this particular way Callimachus links Minos with Athens (the next great
sea power). Over the four books, Minos appears a number of times,
and Androgeos and Athens return at the end of book , thus concluding
the first of a series of nested historical frames for the poem. The early
Ptolemaic empire was, like Minos’, a thalassocracy. Athens, the great sea
power of the fifth and early fourth centuries bc, is noticeably absent from
the Aetia in this context. The reason is surely that after Alexander Athens
was insignificant as a military force unless allied with one of the Diadochs
(as it was with the Ptolemies during the Chremonidean War). Also, Minos
as a thalassocrat provides an excellent inverse model for the Ptolemies – as
a brutal tyrant he serves as an object lesson on what to avoid in the exercise
of power.
The tension between Minos (Crete) and Athens seems to be a leitmotiv
that surfaces again in the aition of Acontius and Cydippe, the ostensible
purpose of which was to explain the peculiar Naxian marriage ritual of
having the bride sleep her prenuptial night with a freeborn youth both
of whose parents were still alive. However, the bulk of the narrative is a
love story imbued with a political dimension. It recounts how Acontius

 For the death of Androgeos, see Calame b: –.

 His death is related in book , in the context of the foundation of the Sicilian city of Cretan Minoa.
An unplaced fragment ( Pf.) may relate the story of Minos and Scylla, the daughter of Nisus
of Megara, who fell in love with Minos when he besieged the city and betrayed it to him (see
Massimilla : –).

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 Changing places
from Ceos fell in love with Cydippe from Naxos when he caught sight
of her during a Delian festival. Acontius and Cydippe are respectively the
descendents of Minos of Crete and Codrus of Athens. He is from Euxantius,
the son of Minos and Dexithea, the line that replaced the Telchines in
Ceos, while Ceyx, Cydippe’s father, is descended from Prometheus, a son
of Codrus, who fled to Naxos after killing his brother. Their ancestry
is mentioned at the beginning of the story (fr. .– Pf.) and later in
some detail (fr. .–). At the conclusion of the aition, the marriage
of Acontius and Cydippe led to the establishment of the long and secure
reign of the Acontidae. The theme of erotic love bringing political stability
prefigures the final aition – Cyrenean Berenice’s marriage to Ptolemy III,
where Callimachus thoughtfully recollects Minos for his readers with his
name for Ariadne: 4. W  (fr. .). The fourth book includes
the tale of a monument that stood in the harbor at Phalerum, called the
Hero of the Stern (fr.  Pf.). The monument is now anonymous because
the Athenians have lost all memory of who the “hero” was. Callimachus,
as the artificer of memory, identifies it as the monument of Androgeos,
the son of Minos, who was killed by the Athenians. Adrian Hollis suggests
that the statue was erected in expiation for his death. If so, it would
be another example of an end to long-term hostility between states – the
enmity between Athens and Crete that began in the first aition of book 
and surely served to prefigure the contemporary clash between Cyrene and
Egypt that existed for thirty years before its resolution.

The mythological frame: the Argonauts

Minos is followed by aitia that introduce the theme of colonization and
of Ptolemaic ancestors. Callimachus asks the Muses to explain two rites
that involve blasphemy and obscenity. The first treats the return of the
Argonauts from Colchis, the second, Heracles, and a double question unites
these figures, even as their respective narratives diverge. Callimachus’
Argo aition clearly intersects with an episode in the Argonautica of his
contemporary, Apollonius of Rhodes. Callimachus locates his Argonauts
at the beginning of his poem, but the events he relates are told in flashback:
how the Argonauts emerged from a Stygian gloom to find the island of
Anaphe (“Appearance”), where Medea’s serving-women exchange insults
 Hollis : .
 At least  lines can be located with assurance within the Argonaut portion of the Muse’s response,
which makes it a relatively large episode.
 Apollonius, Argonautica .–.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
with the men, events subsequently commemorated in a ritual of Apollo. In
contrast, Apollonius’ narrative is a linear progression from the time when
Jason begins his quest for the golden fleece until his return to his home
at Pegasae. However, the same incident on Anaphe serves as a climax for
both poets. The reason they have fixed on Anaphe (and the nearby island
of Thera) to frame their narratives, whether beginning or ending, has to do
with the fact that the poetic identities of these two islands were crucially
linked to the foundation myth of Libya (as discussed above).
Callimachus’ narrative begins:
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Why, Goddesses, does a man of Anaphe with insults and Lindos with blasphemies
perform a sacrifice . . . honor Heracles . . . Calliope began: Apollo the Radiant and
Anaphe, neighbor to Laconian Thera, first fix in your memory, and the Minyans,
beginning from when the heroes sailed back from Cytaean Aeetes toward ancient
Haemonia . . . and when he saw his daughter’s deeds . . . he spoke thus . . . people,
Ionians, but . . . (fr. .– Pf. + SH A = .– M.)

Even in its fragmentary state there is a visible emphasis on landscape

and its constituent peoples: Thera is Laconian – an allusion to the myth of
Libyan colonization. Thessaly is given its older name of Haemonia. Aeetes
is Cytaean. This is usually understood as a generic alternative for Colchian
but Cytaea was located at the southern entrance to the Bosporus, so the
name is more likely to be an index of familiarity with a Colchian landscape
that was by the third century already studded with Greek settlements.

 The scholium on Arg. . quotes Rhianus as saying: “Once the older generation called it
Pyrrhaia, from Pyrrha, the ancient wife of Deucalion, but then Haemonia from Haemon, who was
a stalwart son of Pelasgus, and Haemon sired Thessalus, from whom the people have taken the
name Thessalian” (= Rhianus  Powell).
 Especially in the Latin poets, see Mayer : .
 An early Ptolemaic visit to nearby Nymphaeum was commemorated in a wall painting of sailing
ships (one of which was called Isis with its name enclosed in a cartouche), see Hind –: –.

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 Changing places
Callimachus’ narrative focuses our attention not on the Greek but on
the non-Greek settlements of the Adriatic at the same time that it exploits
different or perhaps competing cultural perspectives: Calliope tells us that
some of the Colchians, when they were unable to catch the Argonauts:
  7&’ A! %8 &,% +/
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Dropping their oars by the Illyrian strait, by the stone of yellow-haired Harmonia
as a snake, they established a small town, which a Graikos would call “of the Exiles”
but their tongue named “Polae” . . . (fr. .– Pf. = .– M.)
Calliope’s account acknowledges two cultural layers; Polae and
Phugadôn appear to be different names for the same place used respectively
by non-Greeks and Greeks living in close proximity. K &/ 
„ R. recalls very specific events in the history of Cadmus and
Harmonia. Cadmus, of course, was a key figure for Callimachus’ genealog-
ical mapping: a Phoenician descendent of Io, he migrated to Greece and
settled in Thebes, but at the end of his life, in accordance with Apollo’s
instructions, he and his wife went to Illyria, where they were turned into
the snakes that the monument commemorates. Cadmus was an ancestor of
the Battiads of Cyrene, who traced descent from Oedipus. Thus Cadmus
unites several places (Thebes, Cyrene, Illyria) even as his allusive presence
instantiates migration and change. Finally, Graikos was the name for the
northwestern Greek peoples around Epirus and Dodona who were later
incorporated into the broader category of “Hellene.” Graikoi becomes the
standard name for Greeks used by the Romans and other peoples in the
west, while Aeetes, looking from Colchis, speaks of “Ionians”, a regional
designation for Greeks in the East that outsiders came to apply to Greeks
generally. Graikoi and Iones are reminders that even the name for a collec-
tive Greek identity might undergo revision, that it too might change with
place. Callimachus drives the point home later in the sequence when he
mentions the Selloi (fr. . Pf.). Located on Mt. Tmarus in Epirus near
Dodona, they form a geographic continuum with the earlier settlements
of Graikoi. The word Selloi generated interest in antiquity because it was
regarded as the ancestor of or related to <H>elloi ➔ Hellenes. Thus
the name for the inhabitants of western Greece or rather the ambiguously

 West : –; Malkin : –; and see Massimilla :  n. .
 Malkin : –; Hall : , .

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
or intermittently Greek spaces where Callimachus also locates the Colchi-
ans came to assume linguistic priority over more familiar autochthonous
peoples (Pelasgians, Achaeans, Danaans).
Calliope continues:
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. . . of the Phaeacians they were . . . leading a band for the others[?] . . . established
a Corcyrean settlement, and migrating from there they next settled Orician Aman-
tine. And these things accordingly would come to fulfillment in the future.
(fr. .– Pf. = fr. .– M.)
There was a strong tradition of Colchian settlement in the Adriatic,
recorded in Roman as well as Hellenistic and later Greek sources. Aman-
tine’s colonial experience, like Polae’s, moved between Greek and non-
Greek in such a way that the two are hard to disambiguate. Colchians
had first settled in Corcyra, and when they were expelled, they relocated to
Amantine. But Amantine was also a region where Greek Cadmus exercised
Why does Callimachus devote so large a portion of the extant remains
to Colchian settlements? One reason, surely, is that these areas were par-
ticularly familiar in contemporary events. Illyrian tribes were causing con-
stant disruption to the delicate political balance in Epirus and Macedon
during this period, a circumstance that regional dynasts could ill afford
to ignore when advancing their campaigns of territorial expansion. It is
certainly possible that aligning the Illyrian enemy with Colchian alterity
held some contemporary appeal. But Illyria was also a region of inter-
est to the Ptolemies: Pyrrhus, who had been related to Ptolemy Soter by
marriage, added southern Illyria to his territory. Via a subsequent mar-
riage to Agathocles’ daughter, Pyrrhus also gained control of Corcyra (her
dowry) and Oricum. These same regions, therefore, might be imagined
as Greek. For Greeks in Alexandria who had migrated from these areas or
served as mercenaries there or simply followed local politics, the “Colchian”

 Malkin : –.  See Massimilla : –.

 He might have spent even more narrative time than is now apparent. There are several unplaced
fragments that seem to be about this region, for example, frr. , , and  Pf.
 While Pyrrhus was on his Italian campaign it is possible that Ptolemy II provided a military presence
to protect his Epirote kingdom (so Hölbl :  n. ).

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 Changing places
substratum of Illyria, Epirus, and Corcyra would have inserted these places
into a familiar colonizing myth – that of the Argonauts. There was also a
genealogical payoff. Philip II and Alexander had maternal ancestors from
these regions: Alexander’s mother, Olympias, was from Molossian Epirus.
Eurydice, Alexander’s grandmother, the wife of Amyntas III, was Illyrian
and may have traced her descent from Harmonia. In a genealogical con-
text the reference to Cadmus and Harmonia might have been intended as a
compliment to the ancestors of Alexander, or even the Ptolemies, who tried
to link their own lineage to Alexander. If this is right, then Colchian migra-
tions complete the circle: Egyptians settling in Colchis, Colchians settling
in Illyria and Epirus (the territory from which Philip’s maternal ancestors
came), and finally Alexander, with his Illyrian blood, and the Ptolemies,
who claimed descent from Macedonian kings, conquer and settle in Egypt.
Thus these migrations complement and extend the Sparta-Thera charter
myth that promised Libya to Greeks, and reinforce the inevitability of
Greek migration back, this time to Ptolemaic Alexandria.
The Argonauts return at the end of book . The last aition before the
Lock of Berenice relates how they stopped at the harbor at Cyzicus for
water, left their anchor stone on the shore, and replaced it with a heavier
one. The stone was subsequently dedicated to Athena. The story was
also related in the Argonautica (.–) as an event that occurred at the
beginning of the voyage. The Argonauts, like Minos, furnish another layer
of colonizing activity that comes full circle as the poem concludes. This may
be schematized as follows: Cyrene ( + Alexandria?) ➔Minos ➔Argonauts
(book ): Minos ➔Argonauts ➔Alexandria + Cyrene (book ).

The mythological frame: Heracles

Just as the Muses’ answer to Callimachus about the rites of Anaphe has
many ramifications throughout the rest of the poem, so too does the
introduction of Heracles in the second part of their reply. Heracles seems
a logical segue after the Argonauts, since in some versions of the Argo
story Heracles was a member of the crew. In Apollonius, for example,
Heracles sets out with the others but leaves the ship (at the end of
book ) in search of Hylas, and Callimachus provides Hylas’ background
in the second of his tales of Heracles. Yet the more important function
 See Livrea :  and n. .
 This is a minimum – there may be more Libyan material in book , and figures like Athamas’
daughter (Helle?) in fr.  Pf. and Ino and Melicertes (fr.  Pf.) from the early history of the golden
fleece also occur.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
of the doublet seems to lie in establishing this hero, whom the Ptolemies
claimed as an ancestor, in his role as a receiver of cult worship and as a
colonizer. In the first of the pair, the hero asked a peasant for food, and
when he was refused, he killed the peasant’s ox. The peasant cursed him,
an event commemorated with curses in subsequent worship of Heracles
at Lindos. According to later sources, Heracles arrived at Lindos after he
had completed his labors and had traversed North Africa, in the course of
which he had killed Busiris, the Egyptian king given to sacrificing strangers
who entered his realm. There is a brief mention of Busiris’ sacrifice in
book  (fr.  Pf.), so it is possible that Callimachus treated moments in
this journey as he did the Argo adventure, by beginning at the end – at
Lindos. Two later aitia locating Heracles first in Nemea and then in
Elis could support this thesis, since these events took place before Heracles’
Libyan adventures. The theme of hospitality (which is doubtless implicit
in the Minos tale and in Aeetes’ anger at the Argonauts) appears here for
the first time, though whether the farmer or Heracles behaves worse is
The aition that follows takes place in the land of the Dryopians, a
region in north-central Greece below Thessaly, whose inhabitants survived
by brigandage. Family values now surface: Heracles is accompanied by
his wife, Deianeira, and his young son, Hyllus. When he requested food
for his hungry son from a local farmer, Thiodamas, the farmer mocked
him, and a fight with the Dyropians ensued, during which Thiodamas
was killed. Heracles then took charge of Thiodamas’ son, Hylas. The
onomastically similar boys – Hyllus and Hylas – have different narrative
roles: Hylas links this aition to the story of the Argonauts, insofar as Hylas
was the youth whose loss caused Heracles to abandon their expedition.
As far as it is possible to judge, Callimachus portrays the relationship of
the two as familial, not erotic. In contrast Hyllus plays a central role in
the history of early Greek migrations. Heracles, according to Herodotus,
took the Dyropians’ land away from them and gave it to the Dorians
(and the Dryopians were deported to the Peloponnese). Hyllus is the
 Rhodes was the first to establish a cult to Ptolemy I in  bc (see Hölbl : ), and this aition
will de facto have had some political resonance, even though the picture of Heracles is not entirely
 Apollodorus ...
 Lindos appears again in fr.  in Aetia , where the daughters of Danaus dedicated the cult statue
of Athena.
 Heracles may also figure in the Abdera aition and in a fragment that seems to be about the Bistonian
horses of Diomedes (see the appendix, frr.  and  Pf.).
 This material also occurs in Argonautica .–, where Heracles is the unjust aggressor.
 See Hdt. ., , and ; D.S. ..

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 Changing places
link between Heracles and Argos and the Argead kings. Thus this aition
provides a small window on the larger “Dorian invasion,” or the shift in
power in ancient Greece from the local peoples to the Dorians, a shift that
was mythologized as the “return of the Heracleidae.”
Heracles returns in book , in the epinician on Berenice II’s victory at the
Nemean games. Within it Callimachus embedded the tale of Molorchus
and Heracles, in which the hero, on his way to kill the Nemean lion, stops
for the night at the hut of a poor man, Molorchus, who has been troubled
by mice. Molorchus, in his generosity, offers Heracles whatever the rodents
have left him. The story bears close resemblance to Callimachus’ Hecale,
a hexameter poem that ostensibly treats the great Athenian culture hero,
Theseus. This epinician treats the deeds of another Greek culture hero,
one who was also a central divine ancestor of the Ptolemies in more or less
the same way – by marginalizing the hero’s activity while focusing on the
individuals who offer extraordinary hospitality. Heracles’ encounter with
this peasant is in stark contrast to events in book , and Molorchus’ behavior
with that of Thiodamas or Cocalus’ daughters (in the aition on the Sicilian
cities), who pour boiling water over Minos in his bath. Heracles as culture
hero is again central in an aition on the nuptial rites of the Eleans in
book  (frr. – + . Pf.). That tale sets out to explain a peculiar
marriage ritual: the custom that the bride-to-be is visited before her nuptials
by an armed warrior. When Heracles had completed the task of cleaning
out the Augean stables, Augeus, the king of Elis, refused to pay him.
Heracles then marched against Elis, deposed Augeus, and installed his son
as king. To replenish the men lost in war, he compelled the Elean women to
sleep with his soldiers. At this time he also established the Olympic games.
The final appearance of Heracles (or at least one of his attributes) is in fr.
 Pf. A cult statue of Hera at Samos is described as having a grapevine
in her hair and a lion skin at her feet. The iconography, according to
the Diegesis, indicated Hera’s triumph over the two bastard sons of Zeus,
Heracles and Dionysus, whom she had persecuted when they were alive.
However, this statue is a feature of the past, of old Greece. Zeus’s two
sons (who are united in the aition) were inducted into the halls of the
immortals at their deaths and are now the Ptolemies’ most prominent divine

 See above on the prologue to Euripides’ Archelaus.  See Hall : –.
 Ambühl  discusses the parallel and contrasting features of these two narratives.
 See Massimilla : – and –.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 

The mythological frame: the Danaids

Commentators have often noted that Callimachus embeds a kind of moral
progress in his aitia, in that the earlier, violent behaviors seem to give
way to more pious or civilized activity. At the opening of the second half of
the Aetia these shifts in moral tone seem to coincide with the arrival of the
Ptolemies, who are identified as the descendents of Danaus in Egypt. The
role that the Danaid line played in constructing Ptolemiac ancestors was
discussed at length above. In the Aetia, Danaus and his daughters make
their first appearance at the opening of book , specifically in connection
with Berenice. The extent of the intimacy of Argos and Egypt may be
gauged in a recently published, but unfortunately incomplete, strip of
papyrus that belongs to the beginning of the epinician. It reads as follows:
A!+[ ]. . . .[
 / & . 7&O$$ R
 † .%†

[.]. F%. [
O[].   /% . [ 
. []r Q: [
&&. [
]’ [
. .
. :
 .. [
.  $ X’ . [
. /[] %
) e. . 8. [
. 8 u 7 -
% [ 
{ *&r
 ’ a+. [
For the Inachids . . . twelve times around [?] directed [?] eyes to the char-
iot . . . Amymone . . . fair spring dwelling . . . they ran. Of Danaus . . . horseman,
seeing as this . . . Egypt . . . blood from the lineage . . . often my Nile? (or of me
whom the Nile) . . . that one who in the . . . of Proetus . . . spoke thus [?]. And to
him the sound [.
Line  describes the laps that Berenice’s chariot ran in her victory, and
the place is identified by naming the Inachids, the daughters of Danaus,
who were said to have discovered Argos’ springs. Amymone occurs in
line ; O[].   /% (line ) might apply to her, but more likely
it is her sister, Physadia. The two girls (springs) are coupled in the Hymn
to Athena  and again in the Fountains of Argos. Proetus in line  was
a king of Argos. G.B. D’Alessio suggests Pindar, Nemean .– as a

 PSI . is written in the same hand as another fragment of the Victory of Berenice (POxy.
.), which guarantees its location. For details of this passage, see Massimilla  and :
– and D’Alessio : – (D’Alessio did not have access to the right hand portion of
this fragment in his edition, though his comments have proved to be prescient).

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 Changing places
parallel, where Argos is called -
 . . . 1
%. Egypt, the mention of
lineage, and the Nile reinforce the epinicinan’s opening of “Helen’s island”
(Pharos), the Pallenean prophet (Proteus), “cowborn Danaus,” and the
“blood of the Sibling Gods.” Line , { *&, apparently closes a speech,
and here Callimachus’ epinician for Sosibius provides a potential parallel:
in that poem the Nile praises the local son, Sosibius, who has won the
victory. It seems likely that these lines belong to the speech of a local Argive
figure or an Egyptian figure like Proteus, who is praising the victorious
Berenice as Inachus’ descendent. In any case the heavy emphasis on
the Inachid/Danaid ancestry of the victorious queen, even more than the
abandoning of the dialogue with the Muses, situates the last two books
within a new environment – one that is Greek, but is also now firmly
located in Egypt.
In the Victory of Berenice, Callimachus’ peculiar phrase, Q: $
'&) %$2 , calls attention not only to Argive Io, but to her bovine
status. A few lines later the Egyptian divinity worshipped in bull form, the
Apis, is introduced:
 &/.  F$[

< +  Y e [ 
 2% *%. .[
# %8 . )
: #  . . .
And first Arg[
Refined [
Colchians or by? the Nile [
They wove subtle [
Knowing how to mourn the bull with a white marking.
(SH  + fr. .– Pf.)
The lines cannot be restored, but a few things are certain: Argos or
Argives, Colchians, and Egypt are joined, by virtue of their weaving.
Mourning the “bull with a white marking” refers to the Egyptian period of
national mourning at the death of the Apis bull. The Apis died in , an
event that occurred very shortly before the celebration of Berenice’s victory.
Thus these lines provide parallel Greek and Egyptian systems of dating –
Panhellenic games and Apis eras. The Apis was an avatar of Egyptian Osiris,
who already in Herodotus (.) came to be identified with Io’s son, Epa-
phus; and in Aeschylus’ Suppliants Epaphus is called “calf of Zeus” ().
Some later genealogical sources even identify Apis as a king of Argos who
 D’Alessio :  suggests Proteus.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
founded Memphis and was divinized as Serapis. Via the two cow-born
children, Danaus and Apis/Epaphus, therefore, the opening of this poem,
at the very least, flags Greek-Egyptian consanguinity. Argive/Colchian/Nile
suggests another consanguinity: according to Herodotus, Colchis was a set-
tlement of Egyptian veterans left by the pharaoh Sesostris. An important
sign of their interrelatedness was that they both wove linen in the same
way. Even if Argive weaving is not the point of &/.  F$[, these
lines seem to adumbrate a series of migrations: Greece to Egypt (Io), Egypt
to Greece (Danaus and his daughters), Greece to Egypt (Danaus’ descen-
dents, the Argeads and the Ptolemies); and Egypt to Colchis (Sesostris)
and, as in Callimachus’ treatment of the Argonauts, Colchis perhaps
returning to Egypt. In this way they reinforce the Argonautic genealogy
of the opening, and more importantly, they move it into contemporary
The Danaids appear again in a brief bridge section, called the Fountains
of Argos (frr. – Pf.). They are addressed as ; [..] A! 
2&[ ] (“heroines, descendants of [ . . . ] Io,” fr. . Pf.). L. Lehnus
provides good arguments for restoring [..] as [.] . .. (= “with a
white marking”), the word used to describe the Apis bull in the opening
of the Victory of Berenice. This would be in keeping with Callimachus’
poetic practice, by applying the distinctive adjective for the Apis to the Apis’
mother, he reinforces not just the genealogical links but the interspecies
consanguinity of Argos and Egypt. The springs are described as locations
where “those who have the task of weaving the holy robe of Hera” first
pour cleansing water over their heads (fr. .– Pf.). Io was supposedly
the first priestess in the cult of Argive Hera, so that this account of the
watering of Argos is doubly linked to Egypt – Io, who left Argos, and her
descendants, who returned.

Callimachus’ insertion of the Danaids into the Aetia appears constructed
to link old and new Egypt, or to draw the reader from one cultural logic
 Massimilla : .
 The Colchians were celebrated for their weaving: see Hdt. .. and ; Strabo C.
 Callimachus elsewhere notes the Argive women who weave a peplos for Hera (fr. .–).
 Lehnus : . Harder finds the idea attractive as well, see : ..
 The fragmentary nature of these sections makes discussion of tone dangerous, but one suspects
that Callimachus is not entirely serious in his mention of the Apis earlier or Io here.
 Hollis (: ) suggests that Callimachus’ Arrival of Io (whether or not it belonged to the Aetia)
may have “stressed the identification of Io with Isis, and the establishment of her cult in Egypt.”

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 Changing places
into another. He makes a similar poetic gesture at places where the
Danaids are not the point of overlap. In his opening aition on the rites at
Anaphe, Callimachus likens the good-natured insults that Medea’s servant
women trade with the Argonauts to similar insults exchanged as part of
the rites of Eleusinian Demeter: O.
. []. 7 Q: Z y/ 
(fr. . Pf.: “fasting in the days of Rarian Demeter”). “Rarian” names
the location of the celebration of the Attic mysteries in Eleusis. But the
place is dislocated. The focus of the story is the action of Colchian Medea
and her Phaeacian maids. If their ritual behavior is similar, it is, in the
context of the narrative, “historically” prior to the Athenian festival. Since
rites of Demeter – a Thesmophoria (at which ritual abuse occurs) if not the
Mysteries – were celebrated both in Cyrene and Alexandria, Callimachus’
details of these antique actions probably serve as reminders of familiar local
rites, but they also reinforce implicit kinships via patterns of colonization
and settlement found earlier in the aition. Herodotus had already postulated
a direct line of descent between Greek celebration of the Thesmophoria and
earlier Egyptian rites, which the daughters of Danaus had introduced to
Argos. Medea was Colchian, and Herodotus imagined Colchis as an
Egyptian colony. It is possible, therefore, that Medea and her servants’
behavior is an allusion to or elaboration of just such historical theories
about the interrelatedness of Greek and Egyptian cultic practice.
The Attic Thesmophoria forms the subject of a now very mutilated aition
in book , which has a number of affinities with a well-known tale about
Egyptian Isis. The fragment explains why girls are excluded from the
Attic rite by recalling Demeter’s anger at a young girl, though the reason
for the goddess’s anger and the child’s fate are not preserved. An obvious
parallel may be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which seems
to have been popular in the Hellenistic period, and therefore probably
familiar to Callimachus’ audience. In that hymn Demeter grows angry
at Metanaera and her daughters for interrupting her attempt to make
Demophoon immortal. Later, in Nicander’s Theriaca, there is a story of
Demeter turning a boy who angered her into a gecko. However, in
addition to these Greek parallels, Demeter’s anger at a child has a close
analogue in Isis’ anger at the son of the king of Byblos, who either died from
fright when she turned on him or fell into the ocean and drowned. These
incidents are related in Plutarch’s On Isis and Osiris, and Plutarch probably
 See Stephens : – and : –.  Hdt. ..
 PMil.Vogl.  + fr.  Pf. It seems to have fallen after the Victory of Berenice but before the Fountains
of Argos, see Massimilla : –.
 , and cf. Ovid, Met. .–.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
found his material in the writings about Egypt by Eudoxus of Cnidus. At
least one of the stories that Plutarch relates has been contaminated by the
Homeric hymn, but others are considered genuinely Egyptian. As with
the story of Anaphe above, Callimachus is operating within a range of cultic
duplicities. Demeter and Isis were identified as early as the fifth century
(in Herodotus . and ., for example), a circumstance that surely had
encouraged the cross-fertilization found in Eudoxus and Plutarch. Selecting
Greek stories that had already been conflated with well-known Egyptian
myths or cultic events is an integral component of “writing” a new place, as
supposedly foreign behaviors are reported in a way that comes to resemble
more familiar cultural phenomena.
This also seems to happen earlier in book  when the Athenian residing
in Egypt invites friends in to celebrate an Athenian festival. This was: “the
yearly ceremony of Icarius’ child, your day, Erigone, most lamented by
Attic women” (fr. .– Pf.). Icarius was an Attic farmer whom Dionysus
first introduced to wine. The man shared the gift with his friends, but
inexperienced with the sensation of drunkenness, they grew disoriented
and angry. In this state they killed Icarius and hid his body. His daughter
Erigone searched for the body, accompanied by her dog, Maera, and when
she found it hanged herself on a tree near the grave. The gods turned them
all into constellations: she became Virgo, her father, Bootes, her dog, Sirius.
Dionysus was long identified by the Greeks themselves with Osiris, and,
like Heracles, was a divine antecedent of the Ptolemies; the catasterism
certainly prefigures the end of the Aetia and the Lock of Berenice; and
mourning women recur at the opening of book  (where Egyptian women
mourn the Apis). A woman searching for a relative was the familiar story
line of the festivals of Demeter, who wandered in search of her daughter
Kore after Hades carried her off. However, Callimachus has taken pains to
mark his transposed rites as now “in Egypt” (fr. . Pf.), and there is a very
close Egyptian analogue: Isis’ search for her dead husband, Osiris, who had
been killed and his body hidden by Seth. Anubis, a deity with the head of a
jackel (or dog) accompanies Isis in her search. The cult of Isis had already
been exported to other cities of the Mediterranean, so the general contour of
the myth was likely to have been familiar, and certainly it would have been
 J. Gwyn Griffiths : D and commentary, pp. –.
 This is already a feature of Herodotus’ writing of Egypt in the fifth century.
 The story of Isis searching for Osiris with the help of dog-headed Anubis is in Diodorus ., a
section said to be from Eudoxus of Cnidos. Eratosthenes’ poem the Erigone also seems to occupy
this same intercultural space, see Merkelbach : . Busiris (frr. ,  Pf., SH  + frr. –
Pf.) provides another example; for the slain Busiris as manifestation of the dead Osiris/Apis, see
Stephens : –.

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 Changing places
in early Ptolemaic Alexandria. What prompts readers to make this kind
of association is Callimachus’ habit of employing narrative doublets, like
the two parallel incidents with Heracles, with similarities that do not quite
align. The reason to link Greek and Egyptian cult stems from the fact that
the Ptolemies were ruling over both Greek and Egyptian populations and
they had adapted many of their behaviors to previous pharaonic templates
(particularly in the chora). As part of this strategy, they (or their advisors)
devised a patron divinity for the city that was not one of the traditional
Olympians, but a hybrid that exhibited characteristics of both Greek and
Egyptian cult. Demeter had the advantage of being a widely worshipped
Greek goddess who had for at least a century been identified with Isis and
may well have been introduced into early Alexandria precisely because of
this earlier syncretism. In any case, Callimachus seems to have selected tales
to tell about Demeter and Dionysus that have clear analogues in another
(Egyptian) culture.
The final intersection of Egyptian and Greek myth occurs in the Lock
of Berenice. L. Koenen first, then D. Selden in greater detail, illustrated the
convergences between several elements of the catasterism of the lock and
Egyptian myth surrounding the cult of a goddess’s divine hair. Koenen
explained that the lock’s statement to Nemesis of what the lock had not
done (lines –) and his transformation into a star after being dipped
in Ocean (lines –) played upon familiar Egyptian beliefs (the former,
the so-called “negative confession” that each soul expressed in hopes of
entering the afterlife). Selden supplemented these observations with three
basic points: () Euergetes’ battle against Egypt’s foes in the Third Syrian
War occupied the same symbolic space as the pharaoh’s traditional battle
against the forces of chaos; () Egyptian constellations representing order
struggling with chaos were a celestial and therefore eternal representation of
the ongoing human struggle, and Berenice’s lock took up residence in pre-
cisely that portion of the night sky where that struggle occurred; and, finally,
() two goddesses – Isis and Hathor – had locks of hair associated with cult:
Isis, who cut her hair in mourning for the death of Osiris, and Hathor,
the goddess most closely associated with erotic love. The latter was partic-
ularly associated with complex hairstyles and wigs that were emblematic
of erotic attraction, and the loss of her own lock was commemorated in
cult. L. Llewellyn-Jones and S. Winder have taken these identifications a

 Letters from the Zenon archive make it clear that Apollonius (Ptolemy II’s dioeketes) was familiar
with an Isia celebrated in Alexandria in the s. See Perpillou-Thomas : –.
 Stephens : –.  Koenen : – and Selden : –.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
step further in their analysis of the political stakes for Berenice II’s identi-
fication with Hathor in cult. They argue that just as Arsinoe II closely
associated herself with Aphrodite, Berenice turned to Aphrodite’s Egyp-
tian counterpart, Hathor, to reinforce the ideology of spousal affection.
Hathor brought an additional iconographic attraction in that she was rep-
resented as the guardian of the king. Thus this careful construction of an
image of passionate marital attraction acted to bolster Berenice II’s status
as royal wife (at least while Euergetes’ full sister Berenice Syra was alive)
and enhanced her ability to exercise power in the absence of her husband.

the heroes of troy and their nostoi

The great heroes of the Trojan war are noticeably absent from the Aetia.
Incidents connected with the war or the return of heroes to Greece do
occur, but as Annette Harder has pointed out, “compared with the stories
of the earlier period [the Trojan aitia] seem to present the Trojan War in a
somewhat unfavorable light by means of the focus on quarrels, blasphemy,
terror and the inability to cope.” The war forms a background for at least
three Trojan stories: the Locrian maidens (fr.  Pf.), the bandaged Statue
of Athena (fr.  Pf. + SH ), and Euthymus of Locri (frr. – Pf.).
Nothing of Callimachus’ text survives from the first, although the story
is well attested and was related in Lycophron and Timaeus. Scholia on
Homer (Iliad .) and on Lycophron () state that Callimachus related
the story in book , though they do not give details. The full story includes
these events: during the sack of Troy, Locrian Ajax raped Cassandra at
Athena’s altar. When the hero was returning to Greece, Athena in anger
sent a storm to sink the ship; Ajax survived and boasted to the gods,
whereupon Poseidon struck the rock on which he had landed, casting him
back into the sea, where he drowned. He was buried by Thetis near Delos.
Athena’s anger was so great that for a thousand years she compelled the
Locrians to send an annual tribute of two daughters of the city’s most
distinguished citizens to Troy. When the girls landed they were forced to

 : –. Among other locations, she is found in the Canopus decree wearing the horns and
sun disc of Hathor.
 Odysseus is present allusively in frr.  and  and mentioned in frr. – (the Hero of Temesa),
but otherwise absent. Helen is named at the opening of book , but not elsewhere. Menelaus, who
was important in the colonization of North Africa (see Malkin : –), does not appear.
 Harder : –, especially .
 Hollis  would place this aition in book . If this is correct, it is not clear if the story preceded
or followed the Locrian Maidens.
 Alex. –, – and FGrH  F  (Timaeus). See also D’Alessio : –.

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 Changing places
run a gauntlet; if they survived, they served in Athena’s temple. The tribute
of these East Locrian maidens had apparently ceased in the fourth century
but was revived after an interval of some years by one of the Antigonids,
either Monophthalmos or Gonatas, in the period between  and  bc,
with the terms of servitude apparently mitigated. Callimachus’ inclusion
of this tale seems to have had a political edge in that it connected another
dynast with these less than admirable events of the Trojan war.
Impiety toward the gods is also the theme of the next fragment. Teuthis
was the leader of an Arcadian contingent bound for Troy, and when the
Greek fleet was stranded at Aulis, in frustration he decided to return
home. Athena, disguised as a mortal, tried to deter him, but in anger he
wounded her in the thigh. When he did return, Athena punished the town
with famine and required the townspeople to set up a statue to her with
a bandage on her thigh, as a reminder. The scanty remains also name
Glaucus of Lycia (SH .), the Trojan ally who met the Greek Diomedes
on the field of battle and at Diomedes’ request exchanged his gold armor
for Diomedes’ bronze (Iliad .–). Glaucus, like Teuthis, chose not
to fight, while Diomedes engaged in behavior similar to that of Teuthis
by taunting and wounding Aphrodite in battle. This well illustrates the
economy of Callimachus’ narrative techique. He provides a near-doublet
for his Teuthis story without in fact recounting yet another tale, merely by
introducing names from a famous incident in the Iliad.
The final Trojan aition – the Hero of Temesa – was located in book ,
and thus the Trojan material, like the earlier temporal frames of Midas
and the Argonauts, conforms to a rough ring composition. In book ,
aitia feature, in sequence, Midas ➔ Argonauts ➔ Heracles ➔ Troy; the
sequence is reversed in book . The resolution of this final Trojan tale
brings it into more recent history. The story is set in Temesa, a city of the
Brutii in South Italy, where during Odysseus’ return from Troy, one of his
crew got drunk, assaulted a local girl, and was then stoned to death. The
dead “hero” wrought havoc on the region until, in accordance with the
Delphic oracle, he was given a temenos and an annual tribute of a bed and
a girl “to be his bride.” The famous Olympic victor from western Locris,
Euthymus, put an end to the practice by defeating the spectral Trojan hero,
then marrying the girl who had been destined to be his bride that year. The
story is well attested: versions occur in both Pausanias (..–) and Strabo
(C). Like a number of other aitia in the final book, it seems to present

 Momigliano : –. It is unclear if the Western Locrians were also required to participate in
the tribute when it was revived.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
the triumph of recent history (Euthymus belongs to the fifth century bc)
over the barbarism of the past. According to Pliny, Callimachus mentioned
that Euthymus received sacrifice both in his lifetime and after his death,
and in connection with nuptial rites. Moreover, he was represented as a
human-headed bull, which suggests he was worshipped as a river god.

the ptolemies
Callimachus writes openly about the Ptolemaic queens in the Aetia.
Berenice is the focus of two long elegies; the divinized Arsinoe II appears
in the Lock (fr. . Pf.), and she may have been mentioned as the tenth
Muse in book . The male Ptolemies are apparently absent. There are,
however, a number of aitia in the fourth book especially that have parallels
with or instructional value for the ruling monarchs – kings and especially
If book  opens with a Nemean victor, it closes with an Olympian.
Berenice’s victory in the Nemean games was the subject of the first aition
of book ; the closing aition was about Euthycles, from western Locris in
south Italy. A famous Olympian victor, he had been sent as an ambassador
to a neighboring city, but when he returned with an expensive gift, the
populace viewed him as a traitor and dishonored his statue, which had been
previously erected. Apollo punished the Locrians as a result. This story has
clear affinities with fr. , on dishonoring the tomb of Simonides, but it also
introduces the concept of the mana of the victor in games. In Posidippus’
epigrams the theme of Berenice’s power is explicit, as she is said to have
surpassed a former female victor, Cynisca of Sparta ( a–b) in her kudos.
Euthycles’ actions may well be a foreshadowing or allusion to the kudos
of Berenice in restoring peace with Cyrene. Historically, the marriage of
Berenice and Ptolemy III did not proceed without considerable difficulty,
or without a daring move on the part of Berenice, and her initial reception
in Alexandria was not entirely positive. Therefore, the theme of failure to
honor the victor may have a minatory dimension for contemporary readers.
In a similar way, the other Olympic victor, Euthymus, was supposed to have
 HN ..
 Currie : . The Apis was an Egyptian bull god connected to the health of the Nile. Possibly
the choice of a well-known Greek victor worshipped in bull form is another example of two cultural
logics at work (Greek and Egyptian), though not enough survives for certainty.
 See D’Alessio :  n.  for a discussion of this difficult scholium.
 For the many ways in which the mana or glory (kudos) of athletic victors might be harnessed for
the state, see Kurke .
 Fantuzzi .  Llewellyn-Jones and Winder : –.

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 Changing places
been the first real, as opposed to mythic, figure to receive cult worship, and
thus would have been a fine precursor to the divinized Ptolemies, especially
Arsinoe II, who had been deified after her death and is so portrayed in the
Lock of Berenice. There is also, in the emphasis on athletic victories in crown
games, a discernable shift to the female that is reinforced elsewhere in the
Several aitia clustering at the end of book , although projected into
the past, surely had relevance for the ruling house. Fr.  Pf. related an
event from the sixth century bc, namely how Pasicles, the king of Ephesus,
was killed when returning from a feast. His enemies were pursuing him
in the dark, but when they passed the temple of Hera, his mother, who
was a priestess there, on hearing the commotion brought a light and
inadvertently aided those attacking her son. Latent in the story is familial
treachery. Not so latent were fairly recent events in Ephesus. Ptolemy III’s
sister, Berenice Syra, was married to Antiochus II. He died in Ephesus in
 under suspicious circumstances and in the household of his former
wife, Laodike. Berenice Syra, who was in Antioch, was murdered shortly
thereafter. Ptolemy III then established a garrison at Ephesus, and it served
as his base against the other dynasts for the duration of his reign. Telling
this story about an earlier king of Ephesus dying in suspicious circumstances
cannot have been sheer coincidence.
The next aition (fr.  Pf.) recounts how Antigone dragged the body
of Eteocles onto the pyre of Polyneices to reunite them at least in death.
When she did this, the flames from the pyre separated to indicate that
her actions were futile and that even in death the two brothers could
never be reconciled. Eteocles and Polyneices, feuding brothers and from an
incestuous house, served as a contrast or as a counterexample of the enmity
of Ptolemy II and his half brother, Magas. Though enemies for much of
their lives, before their deaths they strove to broker a marriage between
their children. They were dead when their children finally married, but
unlike Oedipus’ sons, these brothers were apparently reconciled.
In the tale of the Roman Gaius (fr.  Pf.), Callimachus broke defini-
tively with the Greek past and acknowledged the new power to the west.
The first Ptolemaic exchange of embassies with Rome occurred in , and
Rome and Alexandria had apparently had friendly relations for many years
before and after. Egypt, for example, remained neutral in both Punic Wars.
The very inclusion of this story is an indication of the importance of Rome
 See Bulloch , especially –, where he discusses the number of aitia that feature female
divinities, marriage customs, and childbirth.
 Hölbl : –. This is the campaign after which Berenice dedicates her lock of hair.

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The “causes” of Alexandria 
in early Hellenistic thinking, and this is echoed in Lycophron’s Alexandra
(–), however that text is to be dated. As mentioned above, it was an
anecdote that circulated about many figures, including Philip II. P. Treves
makes the attractive suggestion that Callimachus deliberately appropriated
it from the Alexander tradition where it had been circulating and applied
it to Rome, in order to telescope the conquests of the immediate past
and the future (Rome’s strengths in the Pyrrhic wars and against Carthage
would have been apparent to Greeks in the late s, even if the decisive
battle of the First Punic War had not yet been fought). The final aition
before the Lock, about the anchor of the Argo left at Cyzicus (frr. –
Pf.), again has a parallel in a contemporary event that illustrates the desire
to link physical traces of the past with the present and also has repercus-
sions for the house of the Ptolemies. Appian relates in his Syriaca (§)
that Ptolemy Ceraunus (one of Ptolemy II’s half brothers) killed Seleucus
I when he was bending over a local altar in order to discover whether
it was left by the Argonauts or one of the Greek heroes returning from
The intertwined themes, especially of the aitia in books  and , cul-
minate in the Lock of Berenice. Politics and eros merge in this final aition
as the speaking object – the eroticized lock – relates how Berenice II ded-
icated him in the temple of Arsinoe Aphrodite at Cape Zephyrium upon
the safe return of her husband, Ptolemy III, from the Third Syrian War.
Subsequently the court astronomer Conon announced that the lock had
disappeared from the temple and had taken its place in the heavens as a
new constellation. The environs of Alexandria are the location, since the
temple is near the Canopic mouth of the Nile. The poet, calling Mt. Athos
the “obelisk of your mother Arsinoe” (line ), now identifies Greek places
in Egyptian terms. Cyrene and Alexandria have been reunited by virtue
of the marriage of Berenice and Euergetes, and if Catullus’ version of the
poem is accurate, Callimachus paid tribute to Berenice’s role in bringing
about the marriage:

An <te> certe
Cognoram a parva virgine magnanimam.
Anne bonum oblita’s facinus, quo regium adepta’s
Coniugium, quod non fortior ausit alis?

 See Sens : –.  Treves : –.

 To these may be added the Miletus-Didyma material in book , see Bulloch : –.
 Koenen : .

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 Changing places
You in truth I knew to be bold-hearted from a small girl. Or have you forgotten
that noble “crime,” by which you attained your royal marriage, one that no brave
man would have dared? (c. .–)
Her intrepid defiance of her mother, who tried to prevent the marriage,
rather more than Euergetes’ actions, seems to have been the subject of
Callimachus’ praise. This focus dovetails with the celebration of the
victories of women in traditionally male spaces, the frequency of statues of
female divinities, and the predominance of female figures within the poem
as a whole. It is easy to imagine the impact that his emphasis on queens
could have had, especially when coupled with the erotic overtones of this
and earlier aitia. The aition clearly provided a model of displacement for
talking about the divinization of royals – the lock serves proleptically as the
surrogate. Most of all, Callimachus’ poem demonstrates how to celebrate
a city and a reign. At the beginning of book , Berenice is lauded as a
child of the “Sibling Gods” – a true daughter of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II,
though she is not. There her lineage as an Egyptian queen is implicated
in an earlier line of Greek Egyptians, Io and her kin. At the end of the
Aetia, Alexandria is a place no longer on the margins but central, both to
its own mythology and to the Mediterranean. Now Callimachus praises
the new queen in terms that are no longer closely modeled on Greek, but
on Egyptian myths – the catasterized lock and the constellation in the
night sky. That constellation, thanks to Conon and learning sponsored by
Ptolemy, has transcended its Greek past and been enlisted to proclaim the
arrival and importance of the new dynasty.

attica viewed from alexandria

If Callimachus is constructing the “archive of shared images” salient for the
political and cultural emergence of Alexandria, how does the Hecale, a poem
that is manifestly about Attica, fit into this picture? The compositional date
for the Hecale is not known, and its epic form obviates occasion, but during
most of Callimachus’ lifetime Athens and Alexandria had close ties, and
for the period from  to  Ptolemaic Egypt was Athens’ closest ally.
The fact that Alexandria often offered hospitality to Athenian political
exiles matches well the theme of hospitality in the Hecale. Demetrius of
Phalerum is a case in point: when he fled Athens, he became an important
 Llewellyn-Jones and Winder  suggest that Ptolemy III may not have been as eager for the
marriage as Berenice.
 On the relationship in this period see further Habicht : –. For Attic material in the Aetia,
see Hollis .

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Attica viewed from Alexandria 
advisor of Ptolemy I and may have been responsible for the Library. In
the s the cities exchanged envoys, with Egypt supplying Athens with
money and corn; and Ptolemaic sea power, in alliance with Athens and
Sparta, attempted to oust the Macedonians from mainland Greece in the
Chremonidean War (–). Theocritus’ interest in Sparta as seen
in Idyll  could belong to this period, and certainly a poem about
Athens’ central hero could fit the same context. Further, Athenians had
migrated to Egypt in some numbers: after Cyreneans, Macedonians, and
islanders, they were the largest group of Greek settlers, as the relocation
of an Athenian (Pollis) to Egypt in Aetia book  would suggest. Most
important, however, was the status as the center of Greek intellectual and
cultural life that Athens had assumed even as its political power was fading.
The anecdote related in Galen that the Ptolemies borrowed the official texts
of Greek tragedies in order to copy them, then forfeited the hundred-talent
deposit in order to keep the originals, illustrates the dominance of Athens
in cultural matters, the role of tragedy in creating and maintaining the
city’s cultural capital, and Alexandria’s desire to surpass the older place. In
the Hecale Callimachus seems to have commemorated Athens by epicizing
tragedy, that is, by writing a poem in epic style, but of tragic length with
tragic characters. He chooses to write about Athens’ central hero, Theseus,
but moves him to the margins. He foregrounds instead a new type of hero,
Hecale, whose signal heroism is in the form of hospitality, a social value
that comes to displace the polis-centered virtues of the citizen-soldier in
the world of the Diadochs.
Because of a scholium on line  of the Hymn to Apollo claiming that
Callimachus wrote the Hecale in response to charges that he was unable
to compose a large poem (2$ &), contemporary scholarship has
tended to focus on questions of genre, and rightly so. A hexameter poem
of at least , lines, the Hecale is an extraordinary example of genre
transformation and confluence, incorporating features of epic, tragedy, and
local history writing. Meter, diction, and models mark it as epic. According
to the outline from the Diegesis, the Hecale relates suitably heroic events:

 Hölbl : .

 Chremonides’ brother Glaucon fled to Egypt at the end of that war and in / held a prestigious
priesthood in Alexandria (Fraser : .).
 Cf. Hunter : .
 Gutzwiller, forthcoming. We are grateful to Kathryn Gutzwiller for providing us with an early
version of this paper, in which she discusses the theoretical background to this expression.
 The poem has often been described as an epyllion. For the status of the question, see the forth-
coming Brill’s Companion to ‘Epyllion’.
 See Hollis : – for the length of the Hecale.

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 Changing places
a traditional hero, Theseus, returns to his father’s court in Athens (like
Odysseus returning to Ithaca), where he is recognized by Aegeus, then
goes on to defeat the bull ravaging Marathon. In the process he meets
Hecale, an old woman living near Marathon who has suffered a reversal
of fortune: her hospitality to Theseus and the incident of her washing his
feet have as models the actions of Eumaeus and Eurycleia in the Odyssey.
But there are also elements that align the Hecale with Attic tragedy: the
subject matter coincides with the now lost Aegeus plays of Sophocles and
Euripides, in which the young Theseus set out on his first test after being
recognized by his father; and in Sophocles’ play, at least, Theseus subdued
rather than killed the bull (as in Callimachus’ poem). There is also
the large role of a female character, with focus on her perceptions and
experience of the sorrowful events that have shaped her life. The Hecale
has a tight temporal frame encompassing one night and day, one narrative
event, anagnorisis and peripeteia, prologue, inserted dialogue, a “messenger”
speech, and a “tragic” ending with the death of Hecale commemorated in
the foundation of a cult.
Callimachus’ “tragedy” also included region-specific lore culled from
the Atthidographers. These local Attic historians collected legends that
reinforced Athenian claims to autochthony and its territorial and cultural
distinctiveness. The bulk of their writing dates from the fourth century
during Athens’ struggle with Macedon, and, in Felix Jacoby’s view, their
ideological stance reflected a need to bolster Athenian identity when the
city’s political and social institutions were threatened by foreign enemies.
Theseus, as the great Athenian hero, was a latecomer, lacking the antiq-
uity of an Achilles or a Heracles; he emerged in this role only in the late
fifth century when Cimon was said to have discovered his bones on Scy-
ros and returned them to Athens. The particular contour of Theseus’
mythic life in Athens is as an idealized citizen and embodiment of Athenian
democratic virtues. He was associated with particularly Attic events – the
defeat of the Minotaur (a mythologized version of the rise of Athenian
sea power) and the defeat of the Amazons (a mythologized version of the

 For discussions of the Homeric models, see Cameron : – and Fantuzzi-Hunter :
–, –.
 Theseus with the captive bull was a subject for Attic vase paintings in the mid-fifth century, and
these were apparently inspired by the tragedies. See TrGF . Euripides, Aegeus, pp. –.
 For Hecuba as a model for Hecale see Hutchinson : –.
 Plutarch, Life of Theseus §§– emphasizes the connection of the cult and Hecale’s hospitality
in a section surely dependent on Callimachus’ poem. On the contrast of the “tragic” Hecale and
“comic” Molorcus episodes see Ambühl .
 Hollis : –, –.  : –.  Plutarch, Life of Theseus .–.

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Attica viewed from Alexandria 
Persian wars). This Theseus, the product of tragedy and Atthidography,
rather than the adventurer of non-Attic myths who liked to carry off women
(Helen, Persephone, Ariadne), is the character Callimachus shows us in the
Hecale. He adds the mythic prehistory of Attica (including the story of the
birth of Erichthonius from Hephaestus’ semen, the daughters of Cecrops,
Athena’s bringing of the rock formation that became Mt. Lycabettus) as
a conversation between a crow and another bird. For this information
Callimachus was also indebted to the Atthidographers. Their earlier ide-
ological shaping of the Attic space formed a natural model for Callimachus’
own synthesis, as he rewrote Attica from the vantage point of Alexandria.
In chapter  we considered how Callimachus inserted his poetry into the
iambic and the epinician traditions. Here we turn to how he re-forms Attic
drama as epic. The first line of the poem was preserved by the Diegesis:

 * A+2 * &
 $% (“Once a certain woman of
Attica dwelt on Erechtheus’ hill”). F

 , that is, Hecale, is not just
an Attic woman, she is also a place – the deme named after her. Then, as
Fantuzzi and Hunter point out, A+2 * &
 $% recalls the single
mention of Theseus in Homer (Od. ., where Theseus intends to bring
Ariadne to the “hill of holy Athens” 7 $%) F/ /). The
epic intertext is a reminder of the abandoned Ariadne, whose hospitality
to Theseus received a poor reward (in contrast to his reception by Hecale);
it is also an implicit reminder of the marginality of Theseus, at least in
the Homeric epics. In place of the epic request to a Muse (or Muses) for
inspiration, there is a prologue narrative. The main character located in
past time (&
) as well as descriptive language and geographic details that
root the poem in a specific landscape find good parallels in the opening
of plays by Euripides and Sophocles. The second fragment, preserved
by a scholium to Aristophanes’ Acharnians, introduces the main theme,
Hecale’s hospitality:

 2 5 &/
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. . . but all wayfarers honored her for her hospitality, for she kept an open house.

 Calame b: –.

 Hollis : –. Amelesagoras was apparently the source of the bird lore.
 Hollis : –, –.
 Hecale may have been named in this opening, though the line is now lost, see Hollis : .
 Tragic prologues are of course spoken by a character, but the information, particularly in Euripides’
prologues, provides an introduction of the main character(s) and detailed background material,
including genealogy and geography. Compare, e.g., the opening of the Medea and the Hercules

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 Changing places
The abstract, . , is a recurring ethical concept in Callimachus’
poetry. It is not Homeric, yet the Odyssean echoes are apt: “hospitality”
is precisely what the wealthy suitors mishandle in contrast to the poor
swineherd. But Callimachus develops his theme in a novel way, through
Hecale, a single woman living alone. In epic only female divinities like
Calypso or Circe live alone, which may be significant here, since Hecale’s
death is later commemorated in cult. At the same time, unlike Calypso or
Circe, Hecale has her own history of personal experience; whereas Homer’s
isolated goddesses exist, in terms of the poem at any rate, for the sole
purpose of receiving Odysseus (there is nothing of the life stories of either
ageless figure), Hecale, as a mortal, has lived a life. Her encounter with
Theseus is on a more equal footing (in contrast, Eumaeus and Eurycleia,
albeit of noble birth, belong to Odysseus’ oikos); conversely the meal she
gives him is not the heroic fare of meat and wine, but the substance of real
peasant poverty.
In the interchange of Theseus and Hecale Callimachus does not repeat
the hero’s own narrative, but gives voice to the life history of a figure who
in earlier poetry would have remained unsung, while the erotic undertones
of Hecale’s gaze in fr.  Hollis are reminiscent of lyric and tragedy. It is
through Hecale’s eyes that we see (most probably) her husband when
she first caught sight of him as a young man, his clothing, and the jewelry
he wore. As in the case of Theocritus’ Simaetha, a female narrator recounts
her own erotic reaction to a man whom she encounters.
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“I was guarding my threshing-floor as the oxen turned round it, and his horses
bore him from Aphidnae, either like kings, who are sons of Zeus [ . . . ] I remember
a fine Thessalian cloak [ . . . ] held together by golden pins, the work of spiders . . .”
Hecale is also endowed with attributes of the tragic Hecuba: she has
suffered a great reversal of fortune and has lost her husband and both sons.
Callimachus exploits the tragic potential, for example, with her lament
that fate has kept her alive only to witness the deaths of her whole family

 Hollis : –.  Compare Theoc. Id. .–.

 In Greek their names differ only in one letter – /, / .

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Attica viewed from Alexandria 
(fr.  Hollis). Further, Hecale’s wish (fr. .–) to have driven stakes
into the eyes of her children’s killer clearly evokes Polymestor’s fate at
the hands of Hecuba’s attendants. But she differs from tragic models in
critical ways. Like many of the characters in New Comedy who bear a
resemblance to tragic characters, Hecale represents the trend on the Attic
stage to democratize heroes, to recalibrate their high tragic emotions to
fit the lives of ordinary citizens. Unlike Hecuba, whose loss consumes and
dehumanizes her, Hecale, despite her peripeteia, never abandons her central
humanity, a humanity that Theseus quickly recognizes when he mourns
her and memorializes her in cult.
In the new world of Alexandria, figures of the heroic past may have
outlived their usefulness as models of behavior (unless they were ancestors
of the Ptolemies), but hospitality is of central importance for the ordinary
citizen, as Callimachus demonstrates throughout his Aetia. The fragments
of the poem that remain exhibit both its tragic and epic heritage. Theseus’
relationship with the old woman, who seems like an elderly parent, mirrors
and reverses a later tragic episode with his own father. Theseus leaves the
old woman to complete his heroic task, and when he returns with the
bull, he finds Hecale dead, though not through his own fault. This is an
ironic parallel to a later event in Theseus’ career: when he returns from
an encounter with another bull – the Minotaur. Although triumphant,
he fails to change the sails of his ship from black to white, as his father
Aegeus had requested, with the result that the old man, thinking his son
dead, commits suicide. Theseus’ not entirely blameless behavior towards
Ariadne during that same adventure was already alluded to in the opening
line of the poem. Ironic, also, is the prior history of the Marathonian bull.
When Minos’ son Androgeos visited Athens, he was killed. Minos in anger
at the failure of hospitality (the killing of a guest) called upon his father
Poseidon to send the bull to ravage Attica. When Theseus kills the bull,
Minos demands the tribute of Athenian young men and girls in reprisal.
If in Thucydides Athens succeeds Minoan Crete as a thalassocracy, at the
time of the Hecale the Ptolemaic thalassocracy had in its turn supplanted
Athens. Theseus and the events of this poem belong to the Greek past, to
the construction of Athenian identity as a great sea power, but not to its
present. Callimachus also links Theseus to the past of a Ptolemaic present
at the end of the Hymn to Delos. In that hymn Theseus and the youths he
saved from the Minotaur dance to commemorate Apollo’s birth (and in its
context, the power of Athens over the Delian League), but for Callimachus
this same Apollo has just prophesied the birth of Ptolemy II, the man who
now controls Delos. Epic is by nature a narrative of the past: its events

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 Changing places
are mythic but its heroic characters, who mingled with divinities and who
served as ancestors to a variety of Greek ethnic groups, no longer exist.
Tragedy, via the direct speech of the actors, could bring these characters to
life, making them a presence once again within the civic space. By epicizing
a traditional set of Athenian tragic stories, Callimachus returns them to
the past, to the stuff of legends but not of contemporary life. In doing
so, he marginalizes the values of both epic and the male Athenian citizen
by foregrounding the quiet heroism of the old woman. Hospitality among
Greeks of different ethne and poleis was the glue that held Greeks together
in the post-Alexander world, where civic identity was no longer a guarantee
of status.

the new center

In creating a shared past and a collective identity for Alexandria, Calli-
machus places himself at the center. Much more than his contemporaries,
he speaks in his own voice and constantly reminds us of where he is.
Callimachus does not travel – he visits Helicon not in person but in a
dream, athletic victories come to him as a celebrant in North Africa; even
Hipponax materializes in Alexandria. This deliberate strategy of rootedness
gives a poetic voice to the new place and acts as a centripetal force for his
poetic wandering thoughout the Greek-speaking world, particularly in his
Aetia. Callimachus’ position in his poems is analogous to his role within the
library, as texts flow in from around the Greek-speaking Mediterranean.
Just as he can shape and order the poetic past in his Pinakes, so he can by his
poetry choose how to recall and what to recall from among the multitude
of stories that arrived with immigrant peoples and their books. To return to
Leontis’ formulation in Topographies of Hellenism: Callimachus is writing
Alexandria as a (common)place. He is constructing an archive of shared
images, and evolving traditions, by appropriating and reforming the liter-
ature that encodes the values of this world. At the center of this enterprise
is the poet as the artificer of culture. Callimachus constantly recalls the
role of earlier poets in creating and preserving memory. In the Archaic age,
poets did this via public performance, but Callimachus situates himself as
a singer with recourse not just to these models of past oral communication,
but to written texts as well – to history, which he seems to use to confirm the
truth-value of his fictions, and to philosophy, against which he positions
his own views of the cultural significance of the poet. In his construction
of “an archive of shared images” he certainly returns to the past, but it is
a narrative of the past that is not nostalgic – it manifests no longing to

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The new center 
return to places or events of the past – but is constructed to illuminate the
present and to end inevitably in Callimachus’ contemporary world. It is
eccentric – if the center is old Greece. It is pedantic – if by pedantry we
mean interest in people, places, and events not familiar in Athenian texts
(or to us) though relevant to the world in which he lived and celebrated.
At the end of the Aetia Callimachus leaves us with a new image – the lock
of Berenice’s hair that has achieved immortality as a constellation for all to
see in the night sky. The catasterized lock is the enduring sign of the reign
of the Ptolemies, but even more of the power of Callimachus’ imagination,
as we shall see in the next chapter.

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c h ap t er 4

In my end is my beginning

Callimachus’ reputation today is dependent in large part on a language

in which he did not compose and on a world in which he did not live.
The context in which the vast majority of us first encounter the name
“Callimachus,” and the polemically weighted term for an aesthetics, “Cal-
limachean,” is an introductory course, at whatever institutional level, in
Latin lyric or Augustan poetry. Whether Virgil’s th Eclogue, Catullus’
translation of the Lock of Berenice (c. ), or Propertius’ declaration of
artistic models (., .), our introduction to the third-century Cyrenean
Greek poet takes place in a context that is an act of reception, whether of
selection, interpretation, or adaptation. Even though papyrus discoveries
have guaranteed that Callimachus’ oeuvre is more extensively represented
today than it was at the opening of the last century, the publication of new
texts has had relatively little effect on the standard evaluation of Roman
“Callimachus,” because that evaluation is based primarily on appropriation
by Roman poets of a discrete selection of his texts (Aetia frr. , , and  Pf.;
the Hymn to Apollo –; and Epigrams  GP =  Pf. and  GP =  Pf.)
that taken together have assumed a critical life of their own as a declaration
of an aesthetics of learned elegance. Alan Cameron’s ground-breaking, but
controversial study, Callimachus and his critics, written in , challenged
many aspects of this received wisdom, especially Callimachus’ supposedly
anti-epic polemic in the Aetia Prologue, but it could not change the fun-
damental fact that the modern impression of Callimachus as a poet has
been formed largely by an initial experience based on his Roman imitators.
This final chapter, therefore, offers a Hellenocentric response to distinctive
moments in the creation of this Roman Callimachus. What poetic elements
of the Greek Callimachus were retained, refashioned, or abandoned in the
 POxy. ., the main witness for the Aetia Prologue, was first published in . R. Pfeiffer’s
treatment of this poem, which appeared in the same year, with its emphasis on the reflective character
of these lines and their self-contained nature as a later addition, has had a lasting influence on its


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In my end is my beginning 
evolution of the Roman tradition? A consideration of several centuries of
Roman emulators will allow us to see not only Callimachus (or rather the
various Callimachuses) as Roman artists perceived him, but also to better
understand these acts of cultural mimicry as distinct developments within
Roman, not Greek, poetic discourse.
To review the scholarship on Callimachus in Latin poetry or to catalogue
every Callimachean resonance is a task whose magnitude lies well beyond
the scope of this study. Rather by focusing on a highly selective set of
Roman reconfigurations of Callimachus, our goal is to identify the ways
in which “Callimachus” was reinvented by Roman poets generation after
generation. In fact, his place in Latin poetry is unique, most obviously
because of his programmatic statements about poetry – even if their exact
nature is a subject for debate. Not only was he imitated by almost all extant
Latin poets from Ennius to Statius (and in prose even by Marcus Aurelius),
but alone of the Alexandrians he was extensively evoked by name in Latin
poetry, a marker at once of elevation and intimacy. When considered in
the aggregate, the wealth and variety of Roman adaptation of Callimachus’
poetry is astonishing: Ennius’ dream encounter with Homer, Catullus’
translation, Virgil in his portrayal of the poet Gallus in Eclogue  and the
structure of his Georgics, Horace in his Satires and Epodes, Propertius, the
narrator of Roman aitia who proclaims himself Callimachus Romanus, and
Ovid in the overall narrative trajectories of his Metamorphoses and his Fasti
all pay homage to the Alexandrian.
The historical intersection of Callimachus and Rome may have begun
as early as  bc, when Alexandria and Rome exchanged embassies.
This was apparently at the initiation of Ptolemy II, who had been on
 Apart from the publication of new fragments, the most important stimulus to work on Callimachus
and Roman poetry was Wimmel  (and Clausen  following him). According to Richard
Thomas (: –), the number of publications on Roman Callimacheanism has steadily increased
since . The Roman poets most studied in this respect are (in order of number of articles) Catullus,
Ovid, Propertius, Virgil, and Horace, an order that reflects our own emphasis in what follows. For
recent work on Callimachus and Roman poetry, see Lehnus’ bibliography (: –). For recent
treatments see Hunter : – in particular, but the whole is essential reading, and Barchiesi 
with bibliography.
 Thomas : –. Cameron  argues that Callimachus did not reject epic, despite the fact
that within Roman poetry he is appropriated as a justification for precisely that.
 The upper boundary for our discussion is the later Augustans because poets like Propertius and Ovid
have had a much greater impact in forming the prevailing views of Callimachus than poets of the
Silver age. However, C. McNelis’  study demonstrates the extent to which Statius’ engagement
with Callimachus went well beyond a notional aesthetics.
 Annales  frr. –; see Skutsch : – and the more general observations of G. Williams :
 The details of this exchange are few, and its political significance not entirely clear, see Hölbl :
 and Gruen : –.

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 In the end is my beginning
the throne for twelve years; his sister-wife Arsinoe II was ruling with
him. The Ptolemaic empire was at its height, with a considerable fleet
in the Eastern Mediterranean (stationed at Andros); it was overlord of
the League of Islanders, Cyprus, Coele-Syria, parts of Asia Minor and
Thrace, and a branch of the family ruled Libya. Essentially much of the
Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean had come under Ptolemaic control,
and Arsinoe’s name (as an index of Ptolemaic influence) was to come to
be a second epithet for cities throughout the Mediterranean. The center
of this extensive empire, Alexandria was the most important city in the
Mediterranean, and its most vaunted public figure was a queen who at her
death in  came to be identified with Aphrodite (Roman Venus, who
was the mother of Aeneas). In contrast, at the time of the embassies Rome
had just begun to assert itself in Italy, and had not yet embarked upon its
Carthaginian Wars. We emphasize this point because historical treatments
of the evolution of Rome’s engagement with Ptolemaic Egypt, composed as
they are from retrospect (the embassy, for example, occurred over a century
before Polybius first came to Rome) and from the perspective of the victor
(whether written by ancient or modern historians), too easily overlook this
period of the early Ptolemies when Rome first came to know Alexandria.
Rome and Egypt had considerable and significant interactions during the
next three centuries as the power of the former grew and the latter waned,
and the city of Alexandria, Egypt, and its rulers were never far from Roman
consciousness. Octavian’s defeat of the last of these Ptolemies, Cleopatra
VII, when he engaged the forces of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium in
 bc,  years after this first contact, came to mark symbolically the
consolidation of Roman imperium over the whole of the Greek-speaking
At the time of the embassy of  Callimachus had been writing poetry
for and about the Ptolemies for at least ten years; his Hymn to Zeus was
probably composed for the celebration of the co-regency of Ptolemy I
and Ptolemy II in , and one line survives (fr.  Pf.) from a poem
on the wedding of Ptolemy II and his sister Arsinoe II, which took place
between / and her death in . His Hymn to Delos, an extraordinary
celebration of Ptolemaic power, dates from the same period. Callimachus,
therefore, is a Greek poet whom some members of the Roman élite actually
may have encountered, and at the height of his career. Callimachus also
provides our earliest extant attestation of Rome in Greek poetry (Aetia,

 The remains of the Arsinoeion at Samothrace give a sense of the vast extent of her iconographic and
geopolitical representation.

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Early “translation” 
book : Roman Gaius) in an aition that captures an aspect of Roman military
behavior that Romans themselves would not have found unflattering or
unlike their own self-representation.

early “translation”
The Roman poet Ennius was born in  bc. His birth, therefore, fell
shortly before or just after the end of Callimachus’ life, and Callimachus’
influence on his successor poets at Alexandria and beyond would have
informed the Greek poetic environment when Ennius was a young man.
Ennius was born near modern Lecce in Apulia and received a Greek edu-
cation, probably at Tarentum. This was historically a Greek region within
the geopolitical sphere of Carthage, Cyrene, and Sicily. And it seems to
have been the location in which Latin narrative poetry (as opposed to
drama) got its start: the Greek freedman Livius Andronicus, who is cred-
ited with translating Homer’s Odyssey into Saturnians, was also from this
region. Ennius shared a language with Callimachus, and there are a num-
ber of similarities in their respective works. Ennius’ compositional record,
in various genres, metrical forms, and both poetry and prose, parallels
the Alexandrian poet’s polyeideia. Like the later Roman poet Lucilius
(d. / bc), Ennius composed satires (frr. – Courtney). While the
paucity of the fragments does not allow identification of Callimachus’
Iambi as a model in the same way that Puelma was able to establish them
for Lucilius, the variety of meters, the use of fable, and some of the iambic
imagery certainly suggests that Ennius knew the Iambi. There are also two
strong philosophical links: Euhemerus and his “unrighteous books” figure
prominently in the opening of Callimachus’ Iambus ; Ennius translated
these same “unrighteous books” (the Sacred Register) into Latin. Euhemerus
authorized a way of thinking about the interrelationship of extraordinary
men and divinity, and both poets celebrated great men: Callimachus wrote
about the Ptolemies while Ennius memorialized his patron, M. Fulvius
Nobilior. Euhemerus may have been useful to both in structuring terms
of praise that opened the door to divine status. Cicero, at least, in De

 The date of Callimachus’ death is unknown, but if he wrote the Hymn to Zeus between  and 
(at about  or so), then he would have been  when he composed the Lock of Berenice, which
celebrates the events of (probably) . If the testimony of Athenaeus is correct (see Introduction),
then Callimachus was still writing in the early s.
 Cf. Conte : –.
 Puelma . There are skeptics, see, e.g., Fantuzzi and Hunter :  n. .
 See Newman : –.

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 In the end is my beginning
natura deorum (.) seems to claim that Ennius not only translated, but
also followed Euhemerus’ views:
Quid, qui aut fortis aut claros aut potentis viros tradunt post mortem ad deos
pervenisse, eosque esse ipsos quos nos colere precari venerarique soleamus, nonne
expertes sunt religionum omnium? Quae ratio maxime tractata ab Euhemero est,
quem noster et interpretatus et secutus est praeter ceteros Ennius.
Tell me: are those who relate that brave, famous, or powerful men have been deified
after death and these are the very ones whom we are accustomed to venerate, pray
to and worship – are they [sc. the ones who say this] not lacking all sense of
religion? This theory was chiefly proposed by Euhemerus, who was translated and
followed especially by our poet Ennius.
Then there is their poetically expressed turn to metempsychosis. In Cal-
limachus (again in Iambus ) Thales is found drawing (apparently) a
Pythagorean triangle in the dirt, a figure that he got from Euphorbus. Apart
from the mathematics, this is a reminder of Pythagoras and his doctrine
of reincarnation, since Pythagoras claimed that he had been the Home-
ric Euphorbus in a previous life. Callimachus also mentions Pythagoras’
attempt to teach vegetarianism to the Italians (fr. .– Pf.). Ennius
came from the region most closely associated with Pythagoras, both in his
philosophical teachings and in his political interests, and in the Annales he
claims to be the reincarnation of Homer.
Via Ennius Callimachus’ presence made itself felt in Roman poetry
within a generation of his death, and in a particularly tendentious way.
After an opening invocation (fr.  Sk.), Ennius’ Annales began with a dream
sequence (frr. ii–x Sk.) in which the poet was transported to Helicon and
entered into discourse with Homer. The dream was very famous and much
cited in subsequent Roman poetry, and it was clearly an imitation, in
its turn, of Callimachus’ dream at the opening of the Aetia. After the
Prologue of that poem the old Callimachus dreamt that he, now as a
young man (he describes himself as “newly bearded”), was transported
to Helicon, the site of Hesiod’s poetic initiation in the Theogony. There
Callimachus, unlike his model, was not merely the recipient of poetic
wisdom, he engaged in dialogue with at least three of Hesiod’s Muses, and
recollection of this dream discourse occupied the first two books of the
Aetia. Ennius explicitly marks his Annales as operating within the same
poetic parameters – dream, conversation with his source of inspiration,

 Pythagoras may have appeared in the Aetia as well; see the now vestigial fragments a.– and
 in Harder .
 The epigrammatic tradition that makes the Agrigentine poet Stesichorus the reincarnation of Homer
(cf. AP ..–) is also a potential influence (see Skutsch : ).

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Early “translation” 
and recollection – that distinguished Callimachus. But Ennius not only
conversed with Homer, he became Homer. This takes Callimachus’ act of
aemulatio to an entirely different level. Callimachus certainly sets himself up
to be an alter Hesiodus, but his encounter remained confined to a dream,
and his own persona was a marked feature of the subsequent narrative.
Ennius, in turn, identifies himself with Callimachus (as a poet returning to
past models) but in place of the poet of social construction – for Hesiod’s
genealogies and his narrative of Zeus’s rise to power make him a chronicler
of cultural development – Ennius returned to the poet of martial valor,
Despite the fact that many details of Ennius’ imitation are subject to
differing interpretations, it is unlikely that Ennius chose this opening to
circumvent (or correct) the supposedly Callimachean stricture against writ-
ing epic poetry. Ennius seems to have imitated Callimachus’ response to
the Telchines at the opening of Annales, book , in the context of not
writing a history of the Punic wars, a matter, therefore, of which subject
to take up, not which genre to write in. The fact that the first Roman
imitation of Callimachus known to us came at the beginning not only of
a long hexameter poem, but one that was distinctly historical suggests that
the relationship between the two poems may not have been antagonistic
so much as symbiotic, especially since Ennius seems to have adopted Cal-
limachus’ language of sophia and learning. There are a number of other
convergences. Both initiations take place in the contest of formal trans-
formation: Hesiod’s hexameter became Callimachean elegy; Callimachean
elegy became Ennian hexameter. Both initiation scenes overlook a differ-
ence in idiom: Callimachus does not compose in Homeric dialect; Ennius
does not compose in Greek. Both poets embark on transformative types
of poems: Callimachus constructs his whole from tessellated parts, Ennius
frames historical events as Homeric narrative. And, most significant of all,
both initiation scenes lead to a recounting not of the origins of gods but of
(broadly termed) histories, the one from earliest Greek beginnings to Egyp-
tian Alexandria, the other from a time of earliest Rome to the campaigns
of M. Fulvius Nobilior. If the Annales did ultimately include Nobilior’s

 Another parallel to Ennius could have been Callimachus’ bringing back Hipponax to life in the
st Iambus; a feature common to both would be the choice to write in a generic model that was
distanced by time and place.
 Pace Skutsch :  and Clausen : .
 For the references to dicti studiosus (. Skutsch) and to sophia/sapientia at the beginning of book
, see further Skutsch : –. We are grateful to John Miller for bringing this passage to our
 The difference in idiom does not impede the Ennian dream sequence (the inconcinnity is observed
by a scholiast on Virgil Georg. .). Ennius, though trilingual, is composing in Latin.

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 In the end is my beginning
Roman triumph and the founding of the temple of Hercules Musarum,
the ending of the Aetia, with the safe return of Eueregetes from the Third
Syrian War and the dedication in the temple of Arsinoe Zephyritis, might
again have provided a model.
A generation after Ennius, Lucilius clearly had the Iambi in mind while
writing satire, so of Callimachus’ oeuvre two different genres (elegy and
iambic) had made their impact by the end of the second century bc. A
third had as well – epigram. Q. Lutatius Catulus was born in the s bc,
served as consul in , and died in . Cicero (de Orat. .) attests
to Catulus’ familiarity with another epigrammatist, Antipater of Sidon.
Among Catulus’ writings is an adaptation (fr. ) of one of Callimachus’
epigrams. Since both texts are extant, a close comparison of the two is
possible. Catulus probably, as Courtney suggests, knew the poem through
Meleager’s Garland, though if Callimachus had produced a collection of
his own epigrams, this too could have been Catulus’ source. In Catu-
lus’ “translation” Callimachus’ short poem has lost some associations, and
gained others. Most importantly, Catulus shows no awareness of the Pla-
tonic elements in the original, an omission that comes to typify much of
the Roman adaptation of Callimachus. The epigram in question reads:
aufugit me animus; credo, ut solet, ad Theotimum
devenit. sic est; perfugium illud habet.
quid si non interdixem ne illunc fugitivum
mitteret ad se intro, sed magis eiceret?
ibimus quaesitum. verum, ne ipsi teneamur,
formido. quid ago? da, Venus, consilium.
My soul flee