Myth management

Myth management

Material Information

Myth management the nature of the hero in Callimachus' Hecale and Catullus' Poem 64
Byars, Oraleze D
Place of Publication:
[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Dissertations, Academic -- Humanities -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: Two of the best known examples of the Hellenistic epyllion are the Hecale by Callimachus and poem 64 by Catullus. Both poems feature Theseus, a traditional hero whose mythology dates to Homer and Hesiod. Callimachus chose an episode from the Theseus tradition which highlighted his positive side, while Catullus picked a chapter from the mythic stores which put him in the worst possible light. This paper will examine the two poet's use of mythological material - how they suppressed, included and altered the earlier traditions - to make their very antithetical cases for Theseus. In addition to Theseus, I will examine other myths to determine if their treatment of these is consistent or at odds with their handling of Theseus. The thesis of this paper is that Callimachus had a program to present the Greek heroes of old in a favorable light and Catullus's agenda was to display their flaws. This paper will suggest that the reason for their differing viewpoints can be found, at least partly, in the contemporary historical context in which they respectively wrote.
Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
General Note:
Title from PDF of title page.
General Note:
Document formatted into pages; contains 72 pages.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Oraleze D. Byars.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
002069278 ( ALEPH )
608090151 ( OCLC )
E14-SFE0003169 ( USFLDC DOI )
e14.3169 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information



This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nam 2200385Ka 4500
controlfield tag 001 002069278
005 20100420151407.0
007 cr bnu|||uuuuu
008 100420s2009 flu s 000 0 eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a E14-SFE0003169
NX620 (Online)
1 100
Byars, Oraleze D.
0 245
Myth management :
b the nature of the hero in Callimachus' Hecale and Catullus' Poem 64
h [electronic resource] /
by Oraleze D. Byars.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 72 pages.
Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
3 520
ABSTRACT: Two of the best known examples of the Hellenistic epyllion are the Hecale by Callimachus and poem 64 by Catullus. Both poems feature Theseus, a traditional hero whose mythology dates to Homer and Hesiod. Callimachus chose an episode from the Theseus tradition which highlighted his positive side, while Catullus picked a chapter from the mythic stores which put him in the worst possible light. This paper will examine the two poet's use of mythological material how they suppressed, included and altered the earlier traditions to make their very antithetical cases for Theseus. In addition to Theseus, I will examine other myths to determine if their treatment of these is consistent or at odds with their handling of Theseus. The thesis of this paper is that Callimachus had a program to present the Greek heroes of old in a favorable light and Catullus's agenda was to display their flaws. This paper will suggest that the reason for their differing viewpoints can be found, at least partly, in the contemporary historical context in which they respectively wrote.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: John D. Noonan, Ph.D.
Dissertations, Academic
x Humanities
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Myth Management: The Nature of the Hero in Callimachus Hecale and Catullus Poem 64 by Oraleze D. Byars A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts Department of Liberal Arts College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: John Noonan, Ph.D. John Campbell, Ph.D. Niki Kantzios, Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 2, 2009 Keywords: Epyllion, Mythology, Hellenism, Medea, Theseus Copyright 2009, Oraleze D. Byars


Dedication This paper is dedicated to Dr. John D. Noonan.


i Table of Contents Abstract ...................................................................................................................... ......... ii Chapter One: The Hero Most Hoped For, or Too Much Hoped For? .............................1 Chapter Two: The Hellenistic Age and the Rise of the Epyllion .......................................5 Chapter Three: The Myth of Theseus ...............................................................................15 Chapter Four: The Theseus of Callimachus .......................................................................20 Chapter Five: Hecale ..........................................................................................................28 Chapter Six: The Theseus of Catullus ...............................................................................37 Chapter Seven: The Voyage of Argo .................................................................................45 Chapter Eight: Optimism in Alexandria, Despair in Rome ...............................................55 References .................................................................................................................... ......66


ii Myth Management: The Nature of the Hero in Callimachus Hecale and Catullus Poem 64 Oraleze D. Byars ABSTRACT Two of the best known examples of the Hellenistic epyllion are the Hecale by Callimachus and poem 64 by Catullus. Both poems feature Theseus, a traditional hero whose mythology dates to Homer and Hesiod. Callimachus chose an episode from the Theseus tradition which highlighted his posi tive side, while Catullus picked a chapter from the mythic stores which put him in the worst possible light. This paper will examine the two poets use of mythological ma terial how they suppressed, included and altered the earlier traditions to make thei r very antithetical cases for Theseus. In addition to Theseus, I will examine other myths to determine if their treatment of these is consistent or at odds with their handling of Th eseus. The thesis of this paper is that Callimachus had a program to present the Greek heroes of old in a favorable light and Catulluss agenda was to display their flaws. This paper will suggest that the reason for their differing viewpoints can be found, at le ast partly, in the contemporary historical context in which they respectively wrote.


1 Chapter One: The Hero Most Hoped For, or Too Much Hoped For? The Hecale by Callimachus and the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis or Poem 64, by Catullus are thought by modern and ancient scholars alike to be among the finest examples of a literary genre called epyllion. They are furthe r distinguished in the minds of many for being the first epyllion written (Cameron, 1995: 447) and the last surviving example: bookends of a uniquely Hellenistic tradition which capture many of the poetic tendencies of that period. It might be expected that Catullus, who followed Callimachus by two centuries, would be strongly influenced by his predecessor and, in fact, in many ways he was (Knox, 2007:166). The principal similarities are these: both employ elaborate, obvious and complex structures; they freely alter ancient tales and include versions not previously known (at least so far as we can tell by what remains to us); both customize their material by importing local topography and traditions; and they both feature labors of the mythological Theseus. This paper is going to consider their use of myth in particular, how they used myth to present the hero. The primary focus will be on Theseus as he is common to both poems. His mythic tradition was long and well documented, and had already grown and evolved greatly over the course of several centuries before Callimachus and Catullus would add to it their own distinctive imprint. Mythology has always been about variant telling: by the inclusion, suppres sion, alteration and addition of material the tradition is refined and continued. This paper will argue that Callimachus chose an episode from the Theseus tradition with which to highlight and a ffirm the virtuous and positive nature of a


2 hero one of the more just and superior, the godly race of menheroes who are called demigods that Hesiod conceived of as populating the Age of Heroes (Works and Days, 156-173). Callimachus, by his treatment of Theseus, made known to the Hellenistic world that the heroes of old, those famously celebrated by the archaic poets and Classical tragedians, were glorious an cestors who continued to be worthy of poetic tribute even though the Greek world in which they had lived no longer existed. Catullus, on the other hand, took from the mythological stores an unappealing chapter in the life of Theseus which he employed to make the opposite point: he wanted to display the contemptible side of the hero and show the evil and suffering lurking beneath the surface of the brilliantly enameled picture of the Age of Heroes (Curran, 1969: 191). In addition to the analysis of their use of Theseus mythology, I will consider how the two poets employed other mythological material both to add meaning to their treatment of Theseus and to advance and explain their attitude toward th e hero. In Callimachus, this will be a consideration of the eponymous Hecale; in Catullus, the allusions to Medea and her unhappy association with the voyage of the Argo. o nimis optato saeclorum tempore nati heroes, salvete deum ge nus! o bona matrum progenies, salvete iterum vos ego saepe meo, vos carmine compellabo. (Cat. 64. 22-23) O ye, in happiest time of ages born, hail, heroes, sprung from gods! Hail, noble sons of mothers, hail again! You will I oft toast with wine, you oft with song. (Goold, 1983)1 1 All translations of Catullus 64 in this thesis will be Goolds.


3 Though these words were written by Catullu s in poem 64, it was not he but his predecessor Callimachus who actually celebrate d the Age of Heroes in his epyllion Hecale The Alexandrian poet from Cyrene concoc ted a story which at every step put the thoughts and actions of a youthful Theseus in a good light to showcas e a heroic ideal. This paper will show that Callimachus selected an episode from the mythological tradition which featured Theseus in one of his well known heroic labors. He then used this as the basis for a story of his own inve ntion Theseus overnight encounter with the old woman Hecale. While he associated Thes eus within the epic tradition by means of Homeric vocabulary and allusion in order to underline his heroic character, he did not focus on the epic adventure: his victory over the Marathonian bull. Instead, in the manner which will come to typify the Hellenistic epyllion, Callimachus considered the hero in the humble surroundings of a peasant s hut and in a recognizable Attic landscape. The argument of this paper, with its initial focus on Theseus, might lead one to think that he was the main focus of the epyllion. But it was, rather, the obscure old Attic woman whom Callimachus put in the forefront of the story. Because of this innovative treatment of Hecale and her poverty, Callimachus epyllion was long loved, admired and imitated. Certainly Hecale enhanced the favorable qualities of the young prince by dramatic contrast. Beyond this, she became a hero in her own right. For the hospitality she famously showed weary travelers in her life time, she was honored in death with a cult and the deme named for her. Callimachus reaffirmed and commemorated the traditional archaic hero in his handling of Theseus wh ile introducing to Alexandria, Hecale his concept of a Hellenistic successor. o nimis optato saeclorum tempor e nati heroes, salvete!


4 O ye, in happiest time of ages born, hail, heroes! is the tran slation provided in the preceding paragraph for these lines of Ca tullus. But the lines can also mean: hail heroes born in times too much hoped for (Feldherr, 2007: 100; Debrohun, 2007: 295) and perhaps it is this latter translation that Catullus would prefer. This paper will argue that Poem 64 is, indeed, a song about he roes who were hoped for beyond what they deserved not for whom there was the greatest hope. Catullus quite insistently emphasized the treachery and betrayal wrought by Theseus in the aftermath of his victory over the Cretan Minotaur. He would be ch arged with faithlessness and deceit in the matter of Ariadne and the cause of his fathe rs death. The middle half of the epyllion, which Catullus depicted on an ecphrastic nuptial coverlet, was spent detailing the transgressions of Theseus. The remainder of the poem encircles this section like a frame: the opening lines devoted to the sailing of the Argo to Cholchis which Catullus has as the occasion of the meeting of Peleus and The tis; the balance on the wedding festivities at which the Fates prophesy, in a grim wedding s ong, the disaster named Achilles that the union will produce. Catullus used the openi ng Argonautica reference to connect the tragedy of Jason and Medea to both Peleus and Thetis and Theseus and Ariadne. The poets purpose in this is to show a broad co mpany of flawed heroes. Then he concluded the poem with the Parcaes wedding song wh ich convicted Achilles of insensible slaughter, and added him to the offending group. Poem 64 undercuts the ostensibly happy occasion of a wedding with a grim na rrative of a flawed Age of Heroes, a chronicle of heroic misdeeds which began with the sailing of the first ship and continued until the Trojan War (Curran, 1969: 191-192).


5 Chapter Two: The Hellenistic Ag e and the Rise of the Epyllion The precise date of the Hecales composition is not known; Hollis makes a guess of sometime in the 270s B.C. (Hollis, 1990: 13) More generally, but more important for the purposes of this paper, it was composed in the Hellenistic Age, that period of time after the death of Alexander the Great when the Greek world stretc hed from Italy in the West to India in the East. Hitherto, travel if one left home at all, was driven by necessities such as food, war, and commerce, and, in any case, nostos (homecoming) was the expectation. Life for most Greeks in the Archaic and Classical periods was a predictable, and thereby co mforting, routine determined by ones community and by the polis rather than oneself. But the colonizing conquests of Alexander carried soldiers and their families far from home and left them in distant cities surrounded by foreign cultures without the likelihood of return. This firs t migratory wave was followed by others as thousands of Greeks travelled east to seek their fortunes in the remains of Alexanders empire (Pollitt, 1986: 1). The Greek (custom), both public and private, of the Classical period was forced to give way and accommodate the influences of strange locales and peoples. The lives of these Greeks, without their familiar communal guidelines, were indeed ones of uncertainty for some they were likely marked by tremendous anxiety. But for others, like thos e skilled in science and philosophy, art and literature, the Hellenistic Ag e, unfettered by tradition, was an exciting opportunity for freedom of thought and expression. Literature, in partic ular, was no longer centered on religious festivals and competitions and the Hellenistic writers Muse was now of his


6 choosing (Bulloch, 1985: 543). In Greek Egypt, stable well before th e other areas of Alexanders empire (Bulloch, 1985: 541), Ptolemy I and his succe ssors used their wea lth to attract and assemble at the Museum in Alexandria the be st minds in the world; they also devoted themselves to the acquisition of all the world s manuscripts for the great Library. In this way, Alexandria became the cultural capital of the Hellenistic Age. The third century scholar-poets who were gathered at the library had at their disposal all the literature of the day and from the past. As they organized, catalogued and edited (Bulloch, 1985: 542) the librarys holdings, the great traditions of the past poems in epic meter, tragedy and old comedy were at hand for scrutiny and examina tion in a way never before possible. The fact that literature was now available to be r ead, rather than simply heard, facilitated their desire for painstaking examination. These Hellenistic scholars stud ied the works of the ancient standard bearers with a new purpose and to a new degree. It is almost as if the Alexandrians undertook to analyze and define th e rules of the classic genres in order to be able to violate them all the more vigorously (Cameron, 1992: 310). Having dissected these ancient works into thei r various components, the next step, one imagines, came naturally they rearranged the pieces. For instance, an adjective which Homer solely applied to bronze, Callimachus used to desc ribed the heaven, or the simile the archaic poet put in the mouth of a goddess to describe her son, Callimachus has an old hermitess use of her own offspring. It was not just the work of Homer which Hellenistic poets ransacked for recondite jewels to weave into their own works, but of all their predecessors: Hesiod; Pindar; the fifth century comic and tragic playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aris tophanes; the authors of sa tyr plays and New Comedy.


7 It was during this time of artistic experimentation that Callimachus wrote the Hecale. Most modern scholars put the Hecale in a literary category called epyllion, a term not used, at least not with this meaning, by the ancients. Though scholars such as Gutzwiller and Hollis routinely acknowledge that Walter Allen, Jr. made credible arguments against its use, they, nevertheless, agree that the Greek and Latin epyllion is sufficiently distinct to apply it to a certain type of literature, and value the convenience of being able to do so more than any contrary argument Allen was able to make. I suspect Allen knew that he was fighting a losing battle which would explain the shrillness of his statement, the only valuable article on the subject is The Latin Epyllion, by Professor C. N. Jackson. Professor Jackson really agrees with me that the t ype does not exist, and he might well have taken the final step whic h his evidence urges, a statement that the form is spurious (Allen, 1940: 13). It is true that many of the poems are difficult to classify because they are idiosyncratic (V assey, 1970: 38-43), and no one poem contains or displays every feature thought to be ch aracteristic of the type. Additionally problematic is the fact that some of the characteristic markers are not unique to the epyllion. Indeed, features such as the dacty lic hexameter meter, direct speech, simile and digression also characterize the archaic epic against which the first scholar-poets of the epyllion were revolting. In spite of these difficulties, there is something about the epyllion which wants recognition as a separate literary type. Gutzwiller, whose Studies of the Greek Epyllion has become something of a standard reference in the field, says that an understanding of the Hellenistic epyllia must begin with this point, that the ancients conceived of these poems as epic, but epic written in the manner of the slender Muse of Callim achean poetics (Gutzwiller, 1981: 5). She


8 has in mind here the famous rebuke Ca llimachus launched from the proem of his Aetia (Trypanis, 1958: 3-6) against the Telchines who faulted him because I did not accomplish one continuous poem of many thousands of lines onkings orheroes, but like a child I roll forth a short tale, though the decades of my years are not few. He went on to say that poems are sweeter for being shorthereafte r judge poetry by the canons of art, and not by the Persian chain ( Aetia, 1.17-19). Callimachus was not only referring to overall length here but to other excesses, such as verbosity, as well. The best poets of Hellenistic epyllia chose every word with extreme care to display, in the compressed format of the epyllion, the extent of their learning as well as their familiarity with the language and style of their archaic ancestors. They especially looked to Homer as the consummate source for epic expression, simile, metrical patterns and hapax legomena, but drew learned allusion s from every source imaginable and used vocabulary specific to certain trades, cults and culture s (Hollis, 1990: 5-10). Callimachus, in particular, favored the obscure and recher ch and borrowed language from all over the Greek and non-Greek world. When the ava ilable stock of words did not suffice, he coined his own (Hollis, 1990: 13-14). Th e juxtaposition of epic vocabulary and neologisms is one of the many innova tions of this new literary form. The diminutive scale of the epyllion meant th at its story was likely to be but one episode or a narrow slice from a larger myth (Hollis, 1990: 23-26). The epyllion did not tell its story in an even and straightforward manner. The poe t relied on flashback to fill the reader in on events of th e past and prophecy to narrate or allude to future events which might take place well after the story at hand was concluded. Direct speech was


9 another very important technique which the poe ts of epyllion used to convey efficiently many of the important details of their story. A digressi on, whose relationship to the primary story was not always clear, and simile were also regular features. Simile, in particular, was used to develop the sense of the story without expanding its size. The poet, by a learned simile, was able to emphasi ze, explain or reinforce his words. He could also import additional meanings which mi ght even contradict what he appeared to be saying. As will be discussed at length furt her on in this paper, in poem 64, Catullus inserted a troublesome doubt in the happy wedding day of Peleus and Thetis by referencing the tragic character of Euripides Medea. Meaning in the small compass of the epyllion would be derived not only from wh at was said, but what the poet left unsaid: there was the assumption that the story is already familiar to the reader (Townend, 1983: 25) and familiar in all its transmutations (Gaisser, 1995: 581). All this meant that the epyllion was not for the passive reader; the po et expected his reader to be as educated as he and to fill in many of the blanks in th e poem. In the Hellenistic epyllion, important events of a familiar tale might be dealt with quickly or alluded to briefly while the poet focused on a personal fancy (Hollis, 1990: 25). To consider briefly an example from the Hecale archaic tradition would have made Thes eus killing of the Marathonian bull the focal point the story whic h would be most fully developed by the poet. But Callimachus spent more time describing the varieties of olives that Hecale served Theseus for dinner than he did on the subjugation of the bull. With regard to thematic material, the epyl lion was epic in an ostentatiously antiepic sort of way; epic altered to the tastes of a Hellenized world. Just as the subject matter of Hellenistic sculpture the stooped and sagging body of an old man or the fleshy


10 fat rolls of an infant was inconceivable in the Classical period when form was idealized, the Hellenistic epyllion often dealt not with gods and heroes, but with a more ordinary breed of people; and when it did treat gods and heroes it was with their mortal side showing (Gutzwiller, 1981: 9). There wa s an insistence on the commonplace and the quotidian, even as the ancient Greek myths always formed the backdrop. The example in the preceding paragraph where the meager foodstuffs of an old woman were treated with more interest than the details of an epic ki lling speaks to this. Gutzwiller calls this focus on the mundane a lowering of the ep ic tone (Gutzwiller, 1981: 5). The Heracliscus by Theocritus, is another example of a Hellenistic adaptation, rather more comically realistic (at least as regards the behavior of the adults) than heroic, of a well-known myth. It is a look at the early home life of the baby Heracl es as his parents, Amphitryon and Alcmene, and the household servants attempt to re spond to a midnight crisis involving two monstrous snakes sent by Hera to kill him. By the time everyone had reached the nursery and lo! all the house was filled full of their bustling (Theocritus Id. 24:54) the ten month old infant had gleefully squeezed the life out of the ravenous beasts with his fat little fists. Both the example of Callimachus and that of Theocritus also demonstrate the tendency of the third century poets to pursue a less well known aspect of a familiar myth or to tell a story in a way never before told. We will see in this papers discussions of The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis as the poem numbered 64 is popularly called, that this is also very true of Catullus. He depart s on a number of occasions from any previous version of which we have evidence. (Arthur Wheeler suggests that as a doctus poet Catullus always had an earlier Greek source a nd that no seemingly novel detail was of his own invention (Wheeler, 1934: 127) a positi on which, as I argue, is not well supported


11 by the very clever imaginings which make up much of the poets work.) There survives little in the way of ei ther Greek or Latin epyllia. From Callimachus survives the Hecale the most famous, and perhaps the best example of Hellenistic epyllia (Gutzwiller, 1981: 46). From Theocritus we have the Heracliscus and the Lion Slayer (though his authorship of the latter is questioned) and from Moschus, who wrote about a century after Callimachus and Theocritus, the Europa and the Megara In the Latin tradition there are, beside s the sixty-fourth poem of Catullus, the Culex and Ciris in the Appendix Virgiliana There are other extant examples which one or another scholar routinely include s in his own personal list. The Aristaeus episode in the fourth book of Virgils Georgics is often mentioned as are some of Ovids Metamorphoses. The Thirteenth Idyll, the Hylas by Theocritus and some of Callimachus hymns are others. The inability to fix a canon highlights some of the difficulties with the epyllion as genre as Walter Allen pointed out. However, we have knowledge of other Latin epyllia which have not survived, a nd the knowledge of these strengthens the basis for the category. The Io of Licinius Calvus, the Lydia and Dictynna also called the Diana of Valerius Cato, the Zmyrna of Helvius Cinna, and the Glaucus of Cornificius. Once these are added to the list, the number s make for a genre more difficult to dismiss. There is the viewpoint that the write rs of the Latin epyllion must have thought that they were copying a legitimate literary form (Hollis, 1990: 25). Indeed, there are traces of the Hecale in the pseudo-Virgilian Ciris as well as in several episodes of Ovids Metamorphoses which suggests that the Hecale must have served as a favorit e example (Hollis, 1990: 25). Lyne wrote that it was their production of a Ro man adaptation of the Greek epyllion which


12 made the above named group a separate school. It is in short an idiosyncrasy of the group, and the community of the group is th ereby confirmed (Lyne, 1978: 174). In a separate line of reasoning, Lyne concluded th at the poets who made up this group were in fact those that Cicero dubbed the neoterics. One doesnt have to go as far as Lyne does in defining the neoteric school only by its program of epyllia, but the composition of one of these did become a mark of caste (Wheeler, 1934: 80). Catullus and other poetae novi were young modernists attracted to the refined Alexandrian style. There was nothing so new about imitating Greek forms and meters. Rome despised herself for always looking to Greece for cultural inspiration but could not help herself (Johnson, 2007: 178). What W.R. Johnson supposes so disturbed Cicero with regard to the neoteroi (in addition to the fact that th ey relegated his poetry to the out-of-date heap) is his convict ion that by rejecting Ennian ve rsification and diction, they rejected what Ennius wrote as well; a nd that by their poetical contrivances and refinements, they disguised a want of matte r, and in doing so, failed to preserve the ethical codes and spiritual disciplines that make Romans Roman and that make Romans great (Johnson, 2007: 178). Yet a history or a didactic epic was too big to permit the refinement and perfection they sought and, mo reover, was irrelevant to their world a world where Juvenals sneer about bread and circuses would apply (Wiseman, 1985: 4). Their poetry was an investigation of interiority caused by a Ro man world in crisis (Johnson, 2007: 179). The Roman oligarchy in the last decades of the Republic, motivated by a perverted striving for dignitas which knew no bounds or sens e of proportion, appeared intent on the destruction of self and countr y. Wiseman describes a ruinous social policy


13 where ones dignitas was measured by the magnificence of ones spending and where empty coffers were refilled at the expense of the empire. The nobiles were always short of the money they needed to bribe voters, su bsidize friends and allies, secure marriages, curry favors, flatter the populace; hence, debt, corruption and venality in Rome, oppression and extortion in the provinces (Syme, 1960). Ones honor also depended upon the character assassination and the comple te humiliation (often sexual in nature) of ones enemies (Konstan, 2007: 335). Th e competition for influence among the nobiles was fierce and constant and there was a pervasiveness of invective and meanness in Roman society. In the opening pages of Catullus and his World Wiseman warns his reader to set the book aside if graphic descri ptions of public impal ements, crucifixions, rackings, floggings and burning by boiling pitch are likely to disturb. Rome was an incredibly and notoriously cruel place a nd brutality was commonplace. Though these public punishments were used to keep the huge slave population under control, the constant presence of such horrors must have impressed the subconscious of all citizens. Wiseman points out that there was no poli ce force to protect the Roman citizen from assault nor to which one might turn for ai d. A man caught cheating with another mans wife could be sexually assaulte d by hired thugs to restore the dignitas of the aggrieved husband (Wiseman, 1985: 5-14). One has only to read the letters of Cicero to perceive the constantly shifting alliances, daily r eevaluations of friendship and friendly association, and the pervas ive insecurities with which everyone lived. From about 275 to 240 B.C., Callimachus lived in the cultural center of Hellenistic Greece, a place then found not in Greece at Athens, but on the north coast of Africa, in Egypt. The big myths, exaggera ted psyches and oversized heroes of the


14 Classical and Archaic periods were out of proportion for a world re cently fragmented by migration, clashing cultures, c onflicting philosophies and ne w religions. The poetry of Callimachus, as a consequence, had its own narrow focus. He borrowed myths and heroes from the revered works of the past but reinvent ed or treated them in a leptotic style. Homeric poetry had given the Greeks, as they emerged from the dark ages, their identity; the Classical Ages tragedies and comedies their moral compass. Callimachus, however, wrote not for a people but a few like-minde d individuals. His poe try was designed to interest and amuse the educated and cultured audience of the royal court in Alexandria (Bulloch, 1985: 543). In addition, the Ptolemaic kings Soter (323-285 B.C.) and Philadelphos (285-246 B.C.) appeared to ha ve demanded little in the way of poetic tribute from their poets (though Callimachus did compose poems to their queens). During the reign of Philadelphos, Egypt was prosperous and relatively stable and Alexandria was renowned for the excellence of her culture (Shipley, 2000: 200). Callimachus might have enjoyed a very good rela tionship with the court of Philadelphoshaving possibly spent part of his childhood ther e as a page (Cameron, 1995: 4). Without the limitations of public performance and enjoying the goodwill of his rulers, Callimachus had an unprecedented opportunity for creative expression and was largely free to write as he pleased. The general situ ation was not much diffe rent for Catullus. He arrived at Rome around 62 B.C., already educated in Greek, from the Transpadane, an area more Hellenized in culture, conservative in morals and unapologetically energetic in the business of making money than his new home (Wiseman, 2007: 58-71). His family was then of equestrian rank a nd his father had a secure social standing in Verona. This, and the friendship of Cornelius Nepos and ot hers of the Cisalpine region, made for his


15 smooth entry into the heart of Romes most sophisticated set (Fordyce, 1961: xii-xiii). Catullus situation was secure enough that even his humiliating poetical attacks on Julius Caesars sexual preferences were forgiven (Konstan, 2007: 72-84). His was not to be the public voice of speeches and letters, treatises and philosophical explanations. Instead, the poetry of Catullus was largely personal: wishes, recollections grievances and whimsies made up his content.


16 Chapter Three: The Myth of Theseus Central to both the Hecale and to the Wedding of Thetis and Peleus is the myth of the Attic hero Theseus. Theseus was an early figure in Greek myth and an enduring one, undergoing 200 years of transformations until he came to represent the greatness of democratic Athens as her just and merciful monarch. In the late eighth century B.C. he was among the heroes who predated the Troj an War. His desertion of Ariadne is mentioned in the Odyssey the Cypria and in the poetry of Hesiod. According to a scholiast of the Iliad the cyclic writers refer to his ra pe of Helen (Agard, 1928: 84) and the Nostoi tells of the Amazon Antiope betraying Themiscyra for love of Theseus who, at the side of Heracles, attacked the city. The Hesiodic Shield of Heracles portrays him in battle against the Centaurs ( Aspis 178). These first portraits of Theseus describe a testosterone-fueled youth who left broken hearts and bodies in his wake or, as Agard said, he is a typical hero in the age of heroes (A gard, 1928: 85). At that time, he was hardly a uniquely Athenian figure and much of the ear ly literary and artistic evidence for this Theseus of ambiguous character came from no n-Athenian sources. Athenss earliest need for a mythological hero was filled by Erechtheus and Cecrops. Hesiods Theseus would more naturally have b een Thessalian (Kearns, 1989: 117) and he had, as well, connections to Troezen through his father Aege us which eventually formed part of his Athenian back story. (In f act, Sourvinou-Inwood argues that the later amp lification of the Troezen storywhich incl uded the coming-of-age episode of Theseus uncovering the left for him by Aegeus and of hi s answering Heracles, adventure for


17 adventure, as he journeyed overland to At hens, are part of the compromise Athens devised to appease Troezen who wanted Theseus for herself [(Sourvinou-Inwood, 1971: 99].) The dictator Pisistratus was the first to transform Theseus into an Athenian hero as he attempted to associate his own political polic ies with actions of Theseus. He went so far in manipulating a positive image of Theseus as to order that the uncontrollable passion of Theseus for Aigle be expunged from Hesiods poetry. He also had a favorable passage inserted in the Odyssey (Tyrrell & Brown, 1991: 161-163). After the Persian wars, Pherecydes also tried to do damage control by offering mitigating circumstances for some of Theseus worst behavior (e .g. the gods made him do it) (Mills, 1997:18). Prior to the last quarter of the sixt h century, some of the most popular and frequent representations of Th eseus were his defeat of the Minotaur, abduction of Helen and Ariadne, and battle with the Centaurs (Sourvinou-Inwood, 1971: 98). During that time, according to Agard, Heracles, as the traditional athlete of the Greek people, appeared on the black figure vases eighty perc ent of the time. However, from 515 B.C. to the end of the Persian wars, the represen tations of Theseus almost equaled in number those of Heracles and not only did the frequency of his image increase, but his likenesses, limited in the past to a few stock illustra tions, was supplemented by three entirely new episodes: his battles against the Amazons, his tr avels from Troezen to Athens, and his trip to the bottom of the sea (S ourvinou-Inwood, 1971: 98). It wa s during this period that Theseus finally managed to shed the prevai ling image of a youth who deserted Ariadne, raped Helen and carried off Persephone from the underworld and to become a national hero of Athens. The distinction between Thes eus and Heracles grew sharper: the former, a youth of beauty and grace, a wily competito r who can defeat his mortal enemy by guile


18 or force; the latter, a mature monsterkill ing brute in the employ of a tyrant (Agard, 1928: 86-87). Bacchylides, who wrote at least two poems in the early years of the Delian league about a princely Theseus, was likely the main literary source for an authentic hero designed to bring fame to Athens (Davie, 1982: 25). Finally the image became that of Theseus as synoecist, the unifier of the tw elve Attic kingdoms under one capital. This was the final key to his ascendency in Attic myth (Diamant, 1982:38). Kearns says that the timeless, static, un-epic, un-episodic Erechtheus or Cecrops could never have sufficed as the mythological expressions of Athenian se lf-awareness (Kearns, 1989: 118). There had to be a struggle, the possibili ty of failure, a real enemy of the kind that Theseus faced in the Pallantidai, a rivalry for the Athenian throne which originated a generation earlier between Aegeus and his br other Pallas, to satisfy the desire for a heroic figure who would express in himself the developed fo rms and ideals of Athenian political life (Kearns, 1989: 118). When, as recounted by Plutarch, Cimon brought the bones of Theseus back from the Persian occupi ed island of Scyros and buried them in the middle of the city, his cult was established formally. His tomb was a sanctuary and refuge for slaves, and all those of mean conditi on that fly from the persecution of men in power, in memory that Theseus while he li ved was an assister and protector of the distressed, and never refused the petitions of the afflicted that fled to him ( Theseus 14). The hero cult of Theseus which developed in Athens after the Persian wars honored a very different sort of hero than the early archaic battlefield warri or. The expanded fifth century meaning of the word had little resemblance to the Homeric hero which was simply a sign of respect given to those of the highest class, and signaled little more than nobleman (Kearns, 1989: 2). It was expected that heroes of cult would continue to do in


19 death what they had done in life: help their friends and harm their enemies (Knox & Fagles, 1984: 257). The fully formed Athenian hero, the mature Theseus, was celebrated in sculpture on the Parthenon, Hephaestaeum, and temples at Bassae, Sunium and Olympia. He was probably best met, however in the tragedies of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles. Except in Euripides Hippolytus (an instance in which many would be willing to forgive his momentary rashness), he is represented in those plays as noble, measured and generous. In Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus, Theseus puts an end to the horrible and unrelenting demands by the chorus that Oedipus re visit his tragedy from the beginning and immediately offers his aid, admitt ing that the situation of no man is secure (565-569): Never, then, would I turn aside from a stranger, such as you are now, or refuse to help in his deliverance. For I know well that I am a man, and that my portion of tomorrow is no greater than yours. He also tries to restore to Oedipus so me of his dignity by reminding him (561-5) that I myself also was reared in exile, just as you, and that in foreign lands I wrestl ed with perils to my life, like no other man. Yet he is insistent as to his limitations and respects the gods greater powers; he will do whatever he can to help the suppliant but I am only a man, well I know, and I have no more power over tomorrow, Oedipus, than you (639). In the Suppliants, Euripides provides a statesman who gives thanks fo r order, reason and counsel (201-204): He has my praise, whichever god brought us to live by rule from chaos and from brutishness, first by implanting reason, and next by giving us a tongue to declare our thoughts, so as to know the meaning of what is said.


20 who champions the middle class (239-245), For there are three ranks of citizens; the rich, a useless set, that ever crave for more; the poor and destitute, fearful folk, that cherish envy more than is right, and shoot out grievous stings against the men who have anything, beguiled as they are by the eloquence of vicious leaders; while the class that is midmost of the three preserve s cities, observing such order as the state ordains. and who gives democracy (349-354) But I require the whole city's sanction also, which my wish will ensure; still, by communi cating the proposal to them I would find the people better disposed. For I made them supreme, when I set this city free, by giving a ll an equal vote. Of the Suppliants Shaw says the distinction be tween the courage of the youth and the counsel of the old is central to the playWhereas courage is expressed in action, counsel is expressed in speech (Shaw, 1982: 5) Shaw is describing here the essential difference between Adrastus and Theseus in th e play. I think it is also very like the difference between the action-oriented Theseu s of the early mythology and that of the later when thought supplanted deed as his response to a problem.


21 Chapter Four: The Theseus of Callimachus The Callimachean Theseus who found sanctuary in the rustic cottage of Hecale was conceptually a Theseus taken from the late r myths, his image already polished to the brilliant shine befitting Athenss mortal representative. As I will show, the Alexandrian poet wanted no part of the mythological trad ition which put Theseu s in an unfavorable light. He selected stories from previ ous accounts or, where the earlier tradition was lacking, fabricated material which would co mport with his purpose of presenting this heroic age figure in terms that were exclus ively excellent. Yet th e poet did not present Theseus in the rarified landscape of the battlefi eld as did the cyclic poe ts or as the justicegiving ruler of Athens as did Sophocles and Euripides. He put Theseus in the Attic countryside, a realistic backdrop that the Hellenistic epyllion favored. This was one of the singular hallmarks of epyllia: the view of gods and hero es in a menial setting. Callimachus likely got many of the particulars of his Theseus myth from Philochorus of Athens, the same Atthidogr apher cited by Plutarch for his life of Theseus (Trypanis, 1958:176). A patriotic Theseid which perhaps appeared around 510 B.C., in addition to the plays of Sophocles and Euripides, likely offered inspiration as well. Satyr plays and comedies would have been good sour ces for other material, particularly for Scyron and Cercyon, two despicable highwaymen Theseus encounters, and for the rustic and homelier touches (Hollis, 1990: 59). Though little remains of the Hecale the following chronicle of Theseus has been piec ed together. The epyllion famously opens not with Theseus, but Hecale: once on a hill of Erechtheus there lived an Attic woman (Hollis, fr. 1) and all wayfarers honored he r for her hospitality; for she kept her house


22 open (Hollis, fr. 2). It then switche s, as we know from the Milan Diegesis a first or second century A. D. papyrus which gave sc holars a prose summary of the poem, to a scene at the palace of Aegeus in Athens upon the unexpected arrival of Theseus. His stepmother Medea identifies Theseus before Aegeus does and tries to poison him (Hollis, fr. 4) an inhospitable reception which balan ces the later hospitality of Hecale (Zetzel, 1992: 169). Just as he is about to take the fatal drink his father recognizes him by the tokens of recognition, left for that purpose in Troezen, and shouts a warning (Hollis, fr. 7). Then follows a flashback (one of the literary devices that the poets of epyllia regularly used to expand upon their na rrowly focused stories) to Troezen and a review of a speech given by Aegeus to the da ughter of Aethra, who was then pregnant by him with Theseus. He comma nded her to take the child when he was of age to a hollow stone underneath which, were he strong enough to lift it, he would find the a sword and soldiers boots (Hollis, fr. 9-10) Aegeus keeps Theseus close after this, fearing to lose his son only just recently recovered ( Diegesis Hecalae ). Theseus, however, wants to establish his own reputation and begs his fathers consent (Hollis, fr. 17) to rid the Tetrapolis of Marathon of the bull which has caused them so much grief ( Diegesis ). Denied permission, he se ts out secretly at night a nd in this way arrives at Hecales poor hut ( Diegesis ). In the fashion of Homer, Hecale postpones inquiry as to Theseus identity until after she has observed certain courtesies: getting him dry, clean and fed (Hollis, fr. 27). Then, as the scene moves from narrative to a dialogue (another of the poetic techniques used by writers of epyllia to backfi ll their small-scale story), Theseus identifies himself and says that he is on his way, with Athe na as his guide, to fight the Marathonian bull (Hollis, fr. 40). Regrettably, this is all that remains of


23 Theseus speech. The remainder of the exta nt conversation, which is spoken by Hecale, will be taken up in the next section of this paper. Returning to the narrative which followed the conversation, Theseus sleeps that night in a bed near the fire (Hollis, fr. 63), and Hecale watches him as he rises early in the morning (Hollis, fr. 64). This might logically be when she makes a vow to sacrifice to Zeus in return for his safe passage, a fact we have from Plutarch ( Theseus 14). The next fragments d eal with the capture of the bull and the return of Theseus to Athens. hav ing bent to the earth the terrible horn of the beast (Hollis, fr. 67) he was dragging (the bull) and it was following, a sluggish wayfarer (Hollis, fr. 68). Theseus called ou t to the amazed onlookers and said let the swiftest go to the city to bear this message to my father Aegeus for he shall relieve him from many cares (Hollis, fr. 69). Then he came unawares upon Hecales funeral. But upon finding her dead unexpectedly, and after la menting how he was cheated of what he had expected, he undertook to repay her for he r hospitality after d eath. He founded the deme which he named after her, and establis hed the sacred precinc t of Zeus Hecaleos ( Diegesis ). Philochorus certainly associated th e institution of the cu lt [of Hecale] with Theseus and probably he mentioned the hospita lity. Wherever the deme of Hecale was situated, the connection with the expedition to Marathon seems inevitable (Hutchinson, 1988: 56). Throughout the epyllion, Theseus is the id eal representation of a youthful hero bold in action, determined in mind, thoughtful in heart. From the first chronological task set before him, the lifting of the rock placed years earlier by his fa ther as a rite of passage, to the last, when he established honor s for Hecale, his intelligence, character and actions were in accord for the future ki ng whom Thucydides described as a man of


24 equal intelligence and power (Thuc. 2.15.2). Pl utarch says that after he recovered the Theseus eschewed the safer sea route to Athens pressed on him by Pittheus, the king of Troezen, and chose instead the pe rilous overland journey for the purpose of having Herculean style adventures (Plutarch, Theseus 14). After he reached Athens he was motivated by a heros desire for honor and fame to disobey the command of his father to remain secure at home, and sought instead the Marathonian bull. His first thought following his victory over the bull, how ever, was the peace of mind of his father and so he ordered messengers to run to the ol d king with assurances of his safety. His relationship with his father both as he defied him and as he honored him show a heros spirit: boldly determined on the battlefield, ye t remembering his familial responsibilities. The humane and dutiful feeling is strikingly combined in this scene with formidable heroismYet his heroism is not a matter of physical prowess alone: his message to his father exhibits noble brevity and a proud restra int (Hutchinson, 1988: 62). This brings to mind the Theseus of Catullus 64 (Hollis, 1990: 221) when, in similar situation, after his successful Cretan adventure, he failed to reme mber his promise to his father to signal his safe return and caused the grief-stricken man to jump to his death. One has to wonder if Catullus had the earlier model in mind. Lastly, Theseus returned to the hill of Erichtheus to honor Hecale, faithful also to his duty to her who had given him shelter. It is plainly evident that Callimachus took his conception for Theseus from the later legendary traditions, well after the time wh en his mythological narrative was narrowly focused on his amorous and battlefield a dventures. The educated reader of Callimachus version of the myth would have noted that he avoided any mention of scandal or indiscretion; there are no troubles ome hints (which the writers of epyllia


25 used to fill out their story without adding length) to Theseus early reputation or character defects: no learned similes to the Ar iadne stories, no flee ting allusions to the rapes of Helen or Persephone. That he is still very much a youth is especially highlighted by the contrast to the aged Hecale (whom he addresses as maia, or mother, the same word Odysseus uses with Eurycleia ( Od .19.482, 20.129), but clearly a youth en route to kingship. There are many exampl es of the favorable treatment Callimachus gives Theseus. One, as he sets forth ag ainst the bull of Marat hon he operates under the protection of Athena, who, of course, also got Odysseus home safely from Troy (Hollis, fr. 17, 40). Agard notes that in the fi fth century, Athena, who had previously sponsored Heracles, now often appears in th e company of Theseus (Agard, 1928: 87). Second, both Pfeiffer and Trypanis speculated th at a kingly man from Aphidnae, whom Hecale recollects as meeting y ears earlier (Hollis, fr. 42), might have been his father Aegeus (Hollis, 1990: 180). Th is is another event with Ho meric precedent (i.e. Helen and Telemachus in Book Four of the Odyssey [4.138]): an older person meets a young prince and, having also met the young princes father at the same age, notices the likeness between the two. Hecale says hor ses [brought] him from Aphidnae, looking likeZeus sons and she remembers his beautifulmantle held by golden brooches, a work of spiders (Hollis, fr. 42) Even if the kingly man on horseback is not Theseus father, Pfeiffer could still be corre ct, as Hollis thinks is likely, that Hecale is comparing Theseus to this man and, thus, associates Theseus with a son of Zeus. One can imagine Theseus in this passage as Bacchylides earlier did, wearing a tunic and a thick Thessalian mantlea youth he is in his earliest manhoodSo vigorous, so valiant, so bold (Bacchylides, Ode 18 ). A Hesiodic demigod, one might also think


26 to add, as it was certainly the sight of a de migod that caused the townspeople to cast down their eyes in fear and respect wh en Theseus came along leading the bull: when they saw it they all trembled and shrank from looking face to face on the great hero and the monstrous beast (Hollis, fr 69). Hollis wrote, in spite of his youth, victory has made Theseus a full-fledged hero, an (a great man) (Hollis, 1990: 220). As a further tribute to the Athenian hero, Callimachus had the people shower him with leaves, a phyllobolia that the south and north winds combined, even in the month of falli ng leaves, could not match (Hollis, fr. 69). This was the customary way to congratulat e athletic victors (Trypani s, 1958: 192) and recalls Theseus prowess as an athlete, one of t hose favorable mythic characteristics which were increasingly featured in the art work af ter 515 B.C. It might be remembered that as an athlete, he was particularly known as a wrestler Pausanias would later credit him with the invention of the wrestling style which required thought over brute strength (Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.39.3). Indeed, as will be taken up later on in this paper, we know that Hecale told Theseus that her son had been killed by Cercyon, the brigand who was famous for challenging pa ssers-by to a wrestling match which they always lost and so lost their lives. Callimachus additionally underscores the positive side of Theseus by closely associating him within the Homeric tradition of hospitality. Indeed, his role in the hospitality scene repeats that of Odysseus, one of Homers greatest heroes. I will only take up this very important theme briefly here reserving the greater part of the discussion for the later section on Hecale. Yet it is worth noting that in the same way as the hero of the Odyssey, en route to his most formidable ch allenge, arrived dis guised at Eumaeus


27 poor quarters, Theseus came incognito to Heca les hut his status as the future king and unifier of Athens yet concealed by his youth. It isnt known when Hecale discovered his identity. That he would become Athens gr eatest king, a fact known to the reader all along, she would never know. Hollis notes that both itinerants, the king of Ithaca and the future ruler of Athens, are more distinguish ed than their hosts; Eumaeus and Hecale are currently of reduced of circumstance, though each had enjoyed a certain prosperity in former days (Hollis, 1990: 341-343). In Odysseus, Callimachus has the perfect model for the wise leader which Theseus will become when king the lord of Ithaca was most famous for his guile and cunning, solving pr oblems not solely by force but also by his mental acuity. I offer a final argument to support my th esis that the dignity bestowed on the Athenian prince by Callimachus was extraordin ary and significant. It pertains to the literary style and purpose of Callimachus for which he was famous and which was almost axiomatic: he was an avowed contrarian, a lover of the unexpected dislocation, an aficionado of the poetic prank. It was not Callimachus poetic st yle to present the character of Theseus as he did: flawless; in fact, perfectly flawless. He doesnt indulge himself even the slightest intimation of shortcoming, though legend offered rich material. This determinedly serious handling of Thes eus is decidedly oppos ite to the standard practice of Hellenistic poetry, in general, and of Callimachus, in particular. That Callimachus delighted in the unexpected and uns ettling reversal is abundantly shown in his poetry. To an inquiring frie nd en route to see the statue of Zeus at Olympia, widely regarded as the greatest achievement of scul pture and the most sublime representation of a deity (Hutchinson, 1988: 26), Callimachus pe rversely provided its measurements and


28 other dry details before further lowering the fo cus to the crassest element: as for the cost (I know you are greedy to learn this too from me) ( Iambus 6). In the middle of an elaborate explanation of a pre-nuptial rite, and just on the verge of giving the aition, Callimachus breaks off mid-sentence in a stor y about Acontius love for Cydippe to say that it would be impious to recount a myth of Heras sleeping with Zeus out of wedlock ( Aetia 3: fr. 75). The heroics of Heracles fight with the Nemean lion are parodied in the parallel battle waged by his peasant hos t Molorchus against the household mice (Ae tia, 3: fr. 55-59). Considering examples from the Hecale Aegeus is shown as feeble and dimwitted, almost allowing Medea to poison Theseu s when he first arrived at the palace (Hollis, fr. 7) (Hollis, 1990: 144). The victim of the epic conquest, the Marathonian bull, is described with comic understatement as a sluggish wayfarer as he is dragged by Theseus back to Athens (Hollis, fr. 69). At hena bans crows forever from the Acropolis after they foolishly brought her the bad ne ws that the daughters of Cecrops had uncovered her hidden association with Hephaestu s (Hollis, fr. 72 ) and Apollo turns the formerly white raven black for a similar deliver y of unwanted news (Hollis, fr. 74). Even Hecale is gently teased for her elderly ways. Of her loquacity the poet says the lips of an old woman are never still (Hollis, fr 58). I consider it very important that Callimachus goes completely against the grain ne ver to toy with Theseus. He alone is handled with care and treated only with dignity. Callimachus meant to present a heroic age hero in the best terms. For him, even though the epic as a means of poetic expression was exhausted, the great epic heroes of the pa st were superior men, and continued to have pride of place in the far-flung Greek world. This explains the exceedingly and purely favorable portrait of Theseus, a portrait wi thout reversals, allusions or other poetic


29 devices to alter the serious mood he had cr eated. The poet believed in the inherent goodness of the hero Theseus. Even so, his exploit was not the main fo cus of the epyllion. The epic adventure was just the peg on which hung the principal story of Hecale (Bulloch, 1985: 564) the framework, maybe even the pretext, for th e poet to showcase an old peasant woman. This was the defining shift of the epyllion: the rejection of a long, elaborate hexameter song with an emphasis on archai c era kings and heroes ( Aetia Book 1. 4-5) in favor of a poem which featured in the central role a low character (Zanker, 1977: 77).


30 Chapter Five: Hecale Although Theseus was an important part of the Hecale Callimachus put in the forefront of the epyllion an old woman on the la st day of her life. A major part of the poem appears to have been an account of her hospitality and the conversation she had with Theseus. This is the preoccupation w ith the routine and ev eryday which typified the Hellenistic epyllion. Even the heroic bull killing takes place as part of the simple rural existence of Hecale rather than in the grand context of the royal Athenian palace of Aegeus. A quickly developing storm brings Theseus to the hut of Hecale (Hollis, fr. 18). This circumstance is itself a perfect example of a pr imary characteristic of the Hellenistic epyllion, the diminution of epic t one or sensibility: the pivotal meeting is not brought about by a vengeful or propitious god, but a very ordinary case of bad weather (Hollis, 1990: 6). Hecale sets about at once to making her young guest comfortable, having him sit on a humble couc h (Hollis, fr. 29). She takes down wood she had put away to dry long before and cuts it so that she can set water to boil for cabbage and wild vegetables (Hollis, fr. 3133). She also prepares water to wash his feet (Hollis, fr. 60). She adds three varieties of olives to th e meal and loaves of bread in abundance, the type which are saved for he rdsmen (Hollis, fr. 35). Callimachus is lavish with detail in this narrative section, linge ring at length on the homely particulars and using the language specific to the daily routine and accouterments of impoverished rusticity. In this way he drives to the forefront Hecales poverty and emphasizes the unassuming material he treats. Often he calls the utensils, food and furnishings by their local names, underlining, by using down-toearth Attic terms for everyday objects,


31 that Hecale and Theseus we re Attic heroes (Cameron, 1995: 443). Trypanis notes how successful this treatment of lowly hospitality was in antiquity; among those influenced, Ovid is especially re cognized as mining and imitating the Hecale for several stories in his Metamorphosis (Trypanis, 1958: 177). These details, which concentrate attention on the scanty furnishi ngs, type of wood used for the fire and various colors of the olives, also show sentimentality for the ordinary, both on the part of Callimachus and his sophisticated urban audience, which came from its remoteness to their normal experience (Bullock, 1985: 543-563). Next Hecale and Theseus begin their conversation, probably a lengthy dialogue which would have provided the reader the background stories of their lives. Unfortunately, little of this remains today. She first questions Theseus about his background and the reason for his journey, and then replies in turn to his inquirie s about her (Hollis, fr. 42). She mentions oxen she used to own and describes the man, presumably her husband, who came on horseback from Aphidnae looking like a son of Zeus (Hollis, fr 42). She emphasizes that she did not come from a poor family and raised her two sons on dainties, drenched in warm baths and in this way they ran up like aspens in a ravine (Hollis, fr. 48.7). Then, in an address to one of her sons whom the outlaw Cercyon had earlier kill ed, she asks was I refusing to hear death calling me a long tim e ago, that I might soon tear my garments over you too (Hollis, fr. 49). She vigorously curses the bandit, but Hollis notes the charm of the disclaimer she added to her th reat and, if it be not a sin, (may I) eat him raw (Hollis, fr. 48.7). Hollis thinks it likely that Theseus would here have told her that he killed Cercyon (Hollis, 1990: 209); thus though she will die without knowing that Theseus prevailed over the bull, she at le ast has the satisfaction of knowing that the


32 despised Cercyon is already dead. Plutarch reported that it was to seek opportunities for heroic behavior of exactly this type that Theseus pr eferred the dangerous overland journey to the more secure sea voyage from Troezen to Athens ( Theseus 14). At the end of their conversation, Hecale tells Theseu s that she will sleep on a couch in a corner of the hut, probably giving Theseus the bed n earest the fire in the same way Eumaeus did for Odysseus. From her corner bed, she sees Theseus arise on the following morning to continue his journey to Marathon. When he returns a day later, Hecale is already dead (Hollis, fr. 79-80): whose tomb is this you are building?...Go, gentle woman, the way which heart-gnawing worri es do not traverseOften, good motherwill we remember your hospitable hut, for it was a common shelter for all. The woman who had long given welcome to tr avelers is here set on her own journey. The praise Theseus offers her is humble, crafted thus by Callimachus to explain the value of Hecales heroics in language as simple as was her life (Hutchinson, 1988: 59). Callimachus probably made up this story of Hecale, there lying before Callimachus no tradition on the life of this old peasant woman (Hutchinson, 1988: 57). The epyllion would have provided an aition fo r the deme and festivities established in her name historical honors for one w ho was otherwise almost unknown. Beyond this, it painted a picture of an Attic womans pove rty and loss which were bitterly received at the end of a life that had begun with more promise. There are moments of humor, especially those provided by the reminiscences of the 500 year old crow in a poetic digression, but the general tone would have been rather serious and lacking in the genial wit and childlike charm that Gutzw iller says is a hallmark of the epyllion


33 (Gutzwiller, 1981: 4). The figure of Hecale would surely have se t that of Theseus in to sharp relief; she was an old and sentimentalized peasant woma n while he was a spirited hero at the beginning of a promising career. Because Theseus and Hecale share what will be the last day of her life, the bond of affection shared by this disparate pair goes far beyond the Homeric models of Odysseus with Eu maeus and Eurycleia. The bond of Hecale and Theseus is based in a poigna nt pathos heightened by severa l factors. First, Hecale must have been supremely gratified to l earn that her guest had killed her sons murderer. A substantial portion of the frag mentary remains of her conversation with Theseus is made up of her reco llections of her sons and he r unabated grief and anger at their deaths. Then, again, she was likely deeply affected by seeing in Theseus the likeness of her dead husband, both thankful for and saddened by the unexpected reminder. Finally, Hecale and Theseus must have planned and anticipated a reunion for the time after Theseus fought the bull. She di ed awaiting his return Plutarch says that it was her intention to pa y Zeus tribute for the heros safe return ( Theseus 14). Further, the Diegesis states that her death belied the hop e of Theseus to see her once again. This loss could even have been the first unwelcome outcome experienced by Theseus in his young life. The ultimate disparity in their incongruous association was her death and his future. Though the poet was sensible to the good effect the pairing made, Hecale was not meant only to heighten the future promise of the youth by comparison with her loss and her diminished position. Callimachus was afte r something far more from Hecale than a supporting partner in an odd relationship. Inde ed, it was her name he gave to the poem,


34 she whom he put in the foreground of the e pyllion. He took a traditional myth and reworked the grand theme to produce a homelie r story appealing to and reflective of the interests of a new age (Pollit, 1986). Broa dly speaking, scholars explain the reworking the prominent status Callimachus gave Hecal e in his epyllion in one of two ways: either as a diminution of archaic epic sens ibility (Gutzwiller, 1981) or as a creation of a new type of hero (Zanker, 1977). Both explanations are dependent on her famous hospitality, the with which the epyllion opens. It has long been recognized that the hospitality of Hecale closely parallel s the Homeric hospitality scene, especially upon the humble treatment given Odysseus by Eumaeus. Callimachus copied the epic hospitality scene so that Hecale might st and within that noble tradition as an Alexandrian successor to the Homeric legends of Athena-Mentes in Ithaca, Telemachus in Sparta and Pylos, Odysseus and Circe, Odysseus and the Phaeacians, and Odysseus and Eumaeus. Hospitality is an arche typally epic virtue (Cameron, 1995: 444). Hutchinson says that hospitality combined with poverty is a mark of morality in the Odyssey, and that the poverty of Eumaeus as he entertains Odysseus heightens his goodness (Hutchinson, 1988: 12). Zanker makes it clear, however, that there is an important distinction between Hecale and Euma eus. In the first place, Eumaeus (and Eurycleia) are not the ce ntral characters in the Odyssey ; they are sympathetic but minor characters. More to the point, they are not truly low characters because, as faithful servants, they are part of Odysseus royal family (Zanker, 1977: 74). The elevation of Hecale to title character is part of Callimac hus unique program for the new epic form. Scholars such as Hollis, Hutchinson and Gu tzwiller see a lowering of the epic tone in the hospitality episode of the Hecale. They point to the many ways Callimachus


35 shifts the balance from the heroic to the unheroic while still producing a recognizably epic poem (Cameron, 1995: 445). Much of th e language used to describe the hut and its contents comes from Old Comedy a nd by mixing in words common in Old Comedy, the Alexandrian poet deliberately lowers the nobility and epic seri ousness inherent in the Homeric concept of the host-guest relationship. Hollis notes many specific examples (Hollis, 1990: 5-15). The word for couch, for instance, upon which Hecale made Theseus sit, almost cer tainly comes from Aristophanes Clouds (Nub. 633) (though it might be noted that Callim achus used the standard Homeric verb, to make someone to sit). (bread bin) and (warm water) are two other nouns which describe the epic -based hospitality offered by Hecale but whose source is Old Comedy. Ancillary to an inclusion of non-epic vocabulary to describe an essentially epic virtue is the poverty of e xpression in the Alexandrian epyllion (Hollis, fr. 29-36.4-5, 38, 39, 48.5, 60): she made him sit on the humble couchand she took down wood stored away a long time agodry woodto cutsh e swiftly took off the hollow, boiling potsh e emptied the tub, and then she drew another mixed draughtolives which grew ripe on the tree, and wild olives, and th e light-coloured ones, which in autumn she had to put to swim in brine...and from the bread-box she took and served loaves in abundance, such as women put away for herdsmen. This language of the Hellenistic poet finds its ro ots in realistic Attic ru sticity. It is very lacking in the lofty, epic richness of the Homeric model it re calls (Od.14. 48-79): So saying, the noble swineherd led him to the hut, and brought him in, and made him sit, strewing thick brushwood beneath, and on it spreading the skin of a shaggy wild goat, large and hairy,


36 his own sleeping padhe went to the sties, where the tribes of swine were penned. Choosing two from there, he brought them in and killed them both, and singed, and cut them up, and spitted them. Then, when he had roasted all, he brought and set it before Odysseus, hot upon the spits, and sprinkled over it white barley meal. Then in a bowl of ivy wood he mixed honey-sweet wine To consider other means by which it is argued that Callimachus lowered the epic tone, consider these following examples of language and allusion. Callimachus describes Hecale as wearing a wide hat, stretching out beyond the head, a shepherds felt headgear. The first word which Callimachus uses for hat is the very word used by Homer for the veil worn by Hecuba, Circe and Calypso. Then he elaborates (downgrades, actually) offering a plain, pressed wool hat popular in Thessaly (Gutzwiller, 1981: 54) and techni cally the precise word from the life of a peasant farmer (Zanker, 1987: 209). While displaying his pedantry, Callimachus smoothly transforms epic splendor the veil of queens and goddesses to the ordinary the working class headgear of peasants. The simile uttered by Thetis in the Iliad about her son Achilles that he shot up like a sa pling, was echoed by Hecale who says of her sons, also destined to die young, that these two of mine shot up like aspens (Hollis, fr. 48.7). By this reference, Callimachus puts Hecale squarely in the middle of the Homeric tradition; by the very same reference, however, the reader is reminded how great her distance is from it. Hecales prosperi ty is a local affair the fate of her sons cant compare with the deaths of the Trojan heroes, her weal th with that of the Achaean kings, her grandness with that of a godde ss (Hutchinson, 1988: 58-9). Nor can her entertainment of Theseus measure up to the entertainment Eumaeus provided Odysseus: sweet wine in ivy-wood bowls, fat beasts si nged on a spit over a hot fire, a thick hairy


37 goat skin to keep out the nights cold. The echoes to Homer serve simultaneously to elevate Hecale even as they underline th e meagerness of her condition. Though epic associations abound, Callimachus lightened th e tone with a variety of vocabulary not found in epic. He made use of allusions th at connected his charac ters to the heroic tradition at the same time they segregated th em from it. Rather than lofty grandeur there is poor simplicity. H ecales achievements and tragedies are personal, not national. Callimachus transformed the richness of the hospitality scene at Eumaeus hut by replacing a the skin of a shaggy wild goat, large and thickly fleeced with a tattered rag, and platters of roasted meats heaped hi gh with bread and olives. Callimachus wrote an epic hospitality scene ri ch in Homeric associations but with the plain face of Hecale at its heart. There are scholars, however, who argue that the treatment of Hecale goes beyond an innovative use of realistic and mean material. Bullock says that Callimachus concentration on the more ordinary detail s of his heroic material was not a diminution of the grand themes of tradition, but rather an essential rewo rking of convention, and the establishing of a new realism (Bullock, 1985: 564). Callimachus dislike of archaic epic was widely known (Zanker, 1977: 68). He wrote in one of his epigrams , I hate cyclic poetry (Epigram 28). The Hecale was to be his radical expression of how epic should appear in the third century B.C. and this meant a full break with the earlier tradition, not a re working of it. Hecale was a new hero, not a version of the old (Zanker, 1977: 68). The r ealistic detailing of he r impoverished life and home, along with allusive comparisons to Homer, does not diminish the nature of a heroic age hero, but, rather, illustrates the quality of a new generation of hero. She


38 becomes a hero when Theseus institutes her cult and names a deme after her (Cameron, 1995: 445) and her heroic nature is treat ed with seriousness and respect though the language is appropriate to ru sticity. According to this line of reasoning, the use of vocabulary from Old Comedy does not so much lower the epic tone as it gives the poem Attic flavor (Hollis, 1990: 196). Zanker points out that had Callimachus represented her with the elevated language and grand expression of epic, the result would have been burlesque (Zanker, 1977: 77) a parody, in the manner of the story of Heracles mousehunting host Molorchus, of her heroic quality. That Callimachus meant Hecale to be a true hero explains why he named the epyllion af ter her, why he put he r at the forefront of the poem, why he lavished attention upon her and why he gave her honors (Zanker, 1977: 71). Her heroism was not of the pure, undilu ted kind that characterized Theseus. Her lips, like those of an old woman, were neve r still and her wildly spoken curse against Cercyon included an escape clause. Yet this gentle teasing simply made her more realistic and sympathetic hero according to Zanker, and did not undermine her dignity (Zanker, 1977: 72). The epyllion was a rejectio n of the basic Classical axiom that epic, like tragedy, deals with great deeds of great men in Aristotelian terminology spoudaia by spoudaioi (Cameron, 1995: 443). The Hecale is the first time in extant Greek literature that a is elevated to a main role in an epic poem (Zanker, 1977: 77). I think that the Alexandrian poet had bot h outcomes in mind when he wrote the Hecale Certainly the use of impoverished realism in language and context and the admixture of vocabulary from Old Comedy lowers the epic tone of Theseus adventure. Callimachus and the other intellectuals at the Alexandrian court were weary of highflown epic seriousness. The ideals of the archaic world were out -of-date in 250 B.C.


39 when social realism was stylish and people were charmed by the weird and novel (Pollitt, 1986: 143): hence, the popularity of a sympat hetic but sweetly humorous picture of the impoverished Hecale. The Hecale certainly found ways to unde rcut conventional heroic interpretations (Gutzw iller, 1981: 5). When Hecale echoe s the aspen simile of Thetis, the distance between herself and the goddess, and between her own sons killed by highway thugs and the Greeks who fought at Troy, is underlined rather than bridged. Yet, the Cyrenean poet clearly connects he r hospitality to the Homeric tradition and wants this connection to bestow upon Hecale hero status (Cameron, 1995: 444). For him, she is a hero fitting for a new era. Her heroism is different from the epic heroism of Theseus (which he plainly admired and consider ed as still meaningful in the Hellenistic Age); hers is a modernized heroism based in realism. It does not replace epic heroism, but stands alongside it. This is the correct interpretation of the epyllions odd pairing.


40 Chapter Six: The Theseus of Catullus At the time following the Persian wars when the Theseus myth was increasingly refined to represent the glory of Athens a ppropiately, there was a series of efforts to repair Theseus reputation, particularly with regard to his treatment of Ariadne: that Dionysus took her from him, that like Aeneas in later time he received divine orders to abandon his sweetheart, that he left her on the island intending to return but was prevented by the wind, that he returned to Naxos after her death and instituted a festival in her honor (Wheeler, 1934: 129). Catullus ignored these patriotic and sanitized enhancements of the myth in his epyllion, Poem 64. He chose a labor of Theseus to feature in the poem, a choice of subject which acknowledged both his debt and his allegiance to his Alexandrian predecessor, but chose to present him in the harsh light of faithlessness and misery. Such a representati on of Theseus, the bringer of tragedy was one way by which Catullus would show that the Age of Heroes was not uniformly praiseworthy (Bramble, 1970: 23). It might be helpful if at this point I e xplained that although the Theseus episode is exceedingly important in the poem, presented at length and fleshed out with multiple flashbacks, direct speech a nd abundant narrative detail especially compared to the allusiveness which characterizes much of the poemit is actually a digression from the main story from which the poem takes its modern name, The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis The digression has long been distingu ished, not unduly: at 215 lines of poetry it constitutes more than half the length of the entire poem. In addition to its size, it is remarkable because it appears, quite incongruously as it deals with infidelity, betrayal


41 and desertion, on the coverlet of the nuptial bed as an ecphrasis. Wheeler has noted that Catullus tells the digression segment with more zest (Wheeler, 1934: 128) than he does the main story and this fact, combined w ith the physical prominence and original handling, has guaranteed the digression enormous and sustained interest through the years. As the digression opens, Catullus immedi ate focus is on the anguish of the deserted Ariadne as she watches Theseus sailing away, leaving unfulfilled his empty pledges (59). He describe s Ariadne in emotionally wrenching language as she mourns her loss, her clothes falling unnoticed from her body to the sea (70). Catullus then flashes back from her current pain to tell the bac kground circumstances of her present situation, beginning with Theseus resolve to rescue At hens from further payment of human tribute to King Minos to the maidens sad but determined departure from her family with Theseus the basic Cretan adventure. When Catullus returns to the digressions present time, he gives Ariadne, as she watche s Theseus ship sail off, 69 lines in which she mourns her fate, curses the faithless Thes eus and begs vengeance for her betrayal. As the king of the gods himself nods assent to her prayers, a nod described in Homers Iliad (1.528-530), the waters upon which Theseus sails turn stormy and the promise Theseus earlier made to his father to set a white sail if he should return safe from Crete slips forgotten from his mind. Then Catullus flashes back to a time before Theseus sailed to Crete, a time when he had just been recently restored to his aging father. Here Aegeus makes a long speech in which he despairs th e possibility of again losing Theseus and makes his son promise to signal his survival as soon as he comes into sight of Athens hill. Hollis has noted that were the Mara thonian bull substituted for the Minotaur here,


42 we would have the speech which Aegeus must have uttered to Theseus in the Hecale but which is not among the surviving fragments (H ollis, 1969: 32). When Catullus returns to the digression-present, the reader sees Aege us as he sees (Gaisse r, 1995: 597) his sons ship still flying the dyed sails the promise forgotten. Imagining the worst, he hurls himself from the precipice, so that when Theseus enters the house and finds it darkened in mourning he himself received such grief as by forgetfulness of heart he had caused to the daughter of Minos (247-8). Catullus then returns over the sea, which Theseus has just sailed, to Ariadne, where she still stands stricken on the beach, gazing out tearfully at the receding ship (249-250). The case Catullus makes for Theseus is al most, but not entirel y negative. Catullus grants him without mitigating comment his initial heroic virtus his willingness to die for Athens so that others might not and his eag erness to win either death or the prize of praise (102). He also gives him a handsome and heroic countenance: sanctus puer (95), flavus hospes (98), ferox (247); a charming voice: blanda vox (140); and a winning demeanor: dulci forma (175). However, as Wheeler points out, these ar e essential to a love story (Wheeler, 1934: 129) and serve to make Ariadne, as well as Aegeus, more pitiable and tragic characters. I would also call attention to the fact that at least one of these seemingly favorable characteristics hints, by its multiple meanings, at the deception to come and suggests the flaw in the hero Theseus. The adjective blanda while having the innocuous meanings of attractive and ch arming also has darker overtones and the more sinister connotations like co axing, seductive and insidious (Oxford Latin Dictionary). The remainder of the digression is an extensive and clear cut indictment of Theseus.


43 In her shoreside lament, Ariadne charges Theseus as perfidus (faithless) (132 133), neglecto numine divum immemor (mindless of the gods will) (134), periuria (given to perjury) (135) and crudelis (given to cruelty) (136, 175), nulla clementia (merciless) (137), immite pectus (hard-hearted) (138) and pectus imum (mean hearted) (138). She even questions his humanity, wondering if hi s mother could have been a lioness (154) (Curran, 1969: 179). The fault-finding characterization of Theseus is not limited to the speech of Ariadne though there are scholars who argue that Ariadnes and the poets is, in fact, a shared voice (Daniels, 1973: 408). Konstans, who makes a distinction between the speeches of the poet a nd Ariadne (Konstans, 1977: 45) points out the following censures made in his own voice: Catullus writes of Theseus irrita promissa (useless pledges) (59), immiti corde (ruthless heart) (94), oblito pectore (forgetful heart) (208), and mente immemori (forgetful mind) (248). Lafaye suggested that Catullus was the first to link the death of Aegeus di rectly with the forgetfulness of his son (Konstans, 1977: 45, citing Lafaye 1894: 175). (Gaisser takes Lafayes logic a step further saying that Catullus was the first to make Ariadne the cau se of Aegeus death (Gaisser, 1995: 604).) Beyond the direct criticism of Theseus, Catullu s appears to credit his victorious conquest of the Minotaur at least partially to the pray er made by Ariadne. The first word following her prayer (not unsweet were the gifts, t hough vainly promised to the gods, which she pledged with silent lip) is nam (the epexigetical for) which explains the result of Ariadnes sweet offering to the gods (105-111): For as an oak or a conebearing pine with sweating bark, when a vehement storm twists the grain with its blast, and tears it smashing over far and wide all it meets: so did Theseus overcome and lay low the bulk of the monster vainly tossing his horns to the empty winds.


44 The prayer blurs the focus on Theseus virtusAriadnes love and the gods consent are among the causes of Theseus vi ctory (Konstan, 1977: 41). Just as it is plain that Callimachus pref erred the complimentary image of Theseus which was advanced in the aftermath of the Persian wars, it is equally obvious that Catullus portrait of Theseus disregarded the fifth century model in favor of the earlier archaic mythology: the unrefined Theseus whose good reputation was rooted in but limited to his battlefield exploi ts. Even that measure of success, however, could elicit a feeling of horror and not an appreciation of heroism (Dan iels, 1973: 100). The horror of the battlefield was clearly e xpressed in the epithalamium for Peleus and Thetis which spent twenty-eight lines si nging of slain sons, rivers of blood, headless maidens and grief-stricken mothers (343371). The Catu llan code of heroism definitely did not include excessive zeal in combat. Catullus is emphatic in his indictment of Theseus. He is charged again and again as forgetful, cruel, and faithless. Thes e are the defects of a man who lacked the virtutes heroum (the virtues of heroes) which Catullus had promised, ironically it seems, that the nuptial cover would di splay (50-51): This coverlet, broidered w ith shapes of ancient men, with wondrous art sets fo rth the worthy deeds of heroes. Konstans, arguing that the poem lays bare the negative aspect of heroism, suggests that indicat here means not sets forth or show but, rather, expose or unmask and thus insinuates the inglorious be havior of Theseus which would be described within (Konstans, 1977: 26, 40). Theseus, as perfidus and immemor in his relationship to the


45 gods, his love, and his home, is an unheroic hero (Dan iels, 1973: 97). The epyllion is, moreover, explicit in charging Theseus with the ruin of three homes (though he might be credited for creati ng one if we consider the more distant ecphrastic scene of Bacchus coming to marry Ariadne). The first was the domus of Ariadne and her family. Catullus describes Ar iadne as still nursing in the soft embrace of her mother (88-89) when s he was taken from her father (132). Ariadne says that it was her own germanus (brother) (150) whom she helped Theseus slay and that he was stained with fraterna caede (the blood of her brother) (181). She laments that, abandoned, she has no home to which to go a nd sees her lifes end on a deserted and remote island (184) where everything looks li ke death (187). In consequence, she prays to the Eumenides to bring ruin upon Theseus and his own family, a prayer which is fulfilled by the nod of Zeus. The second domus Theseus destroys, then, is that of his father (246-248): sic funesta domus ingressus tecta paterna morte ferox Theseus, qualem Minoidi luctum obtulerat memte immemori, talem ipse recipit. Thus bold Theseus, as he entered the chambers of his home, darkened with mourning for his fathers death, himself received such grief as by forgetfulness of heart he had caused to the daughter of Minos. Funesta as well as meaning in mourning, can m ean deadly and fatalTheseus has made his own home uninhabitable by forgetting the promise he made to his father. For this transgression, he received the harshest punishment Catullus could administer: not only the loss of his paternal home, but the blame fo r it besides. Then, of course, there is the


46 domus promised to Ariadne that never came to be. In his own voice Catullus called Theseus the coniunx (husband) (123) of Ariadne. In her lament, she said Theseus had pledged her conubia laeta and optatos hymenaeos (joyful wedlock and desired espousal) (141). Ariadne even confessed that she would have become a part of Theseus domus as slave so desperate was she. This has as its model Apollonius Argonautica where Medea offered to follow Jason even were it only as a sister or daughter (Wheeler, 1934:144). Scholars have noted that Catullus borro wed many elements appropriate to an epithalamium, both in his description of Ar iadne (her chaste couch, her place at her mothers breast, the many colorful flowers to which Catullus compares her) (86-95) and in the tearful separation from her family as sh e leaves to join his ( 117-121). Indeed, these elements may all be found in Catullus epithalamium, poem 61. I admit that the promises, so full of meaning for Ariadne, would not have made for a legally binding betrothal, sponsalia under Roman law (Manson, 1910). But when the father of the gods himself agreed that Theseus should be punished for his lack of fides to Ariadne, Catullus gives to personal love all the moral powe r of the family bond (Konstan, 1977: 79). By the death of Aegeus, Catullus clearly shows that he rejects the premis e of a heroic code which permits cruelty in th e pursuit of personal glory (Harmon, 1973: 330). The last domus Catullus does not emphasize because he is reluctant to destroy the negative image he has crafted of Theseus. Yet Wheeler believed that the poet wanted to let a ray of hope shine through for Ariadne, even a hope tinge d with danger (Wiseman, 1985: 181), so that woven into the coverlet is the god Bacchus, in the company of his frenzied followers, burning with love for her. Wheeler says that this is an example of Alexandrian art at its best (Wheeler, 1934: 130).


47 Besides the theme of domus, there have been many other theories given for the inclusion of the digression, with its themes of betrayal and oath-violation, in what appears on the surface to be a happy wedding ta le. Wheeler provides an overview of the theories beginning with Ellis, who saw no link between the two; the English philosopher Hodgson, who thought that the glory of marriage was the common ground; Lafaye, who attributed the connecti on to an Alexandrian fondness for contrast; and Drachman and Pascal, both of whom believed that two separate Greek poems had been combined. As for his own position, which I find as unappe aling as the ones just mentioned, Wheeler wanted the coverlet itself to be the reas on, crediting Catullus as combining two wellknown forms of poetic technique. Both are as old as Homer, but Catullus is the first poet to combine them in this way (Wheeler, 1934 : 131-148). He is speaking, of course, of combining the digression and the ecphrasis. While I agree that a digression presented as an ecphrasis is unique and imaginative, I cannot agree with Wheeler that it was Catullus main reason. Fordyce expressed the view point of many in saying that a connexion between the two stories is to be found in the contrast between happy marriage and unhappy love (Fordyce, 1961: 274). My own st ance is allied with the more recent positions of Curran, Bramble, Gaisser, and Konstan, who tend to associate the digression strongly with the frame story and to see them as an integrated, or at least interconnected, whole designed so that the reader might observe the light they cast on each other (Curran, 1969: 174). In fact, the ecphrasti c digression enfolds the wedding couch and joins the wedding story to the Theseus-Ariadne story physically as well as thematically (Curran, 1969: 181). The Theseu s-Ariadne inset was meant to show defects in the hero. Elements of the wedding story did the same, as the next sec tion of this paper will make


48 clear. With the very first lines of the epyllion the poet suggested that something is wrong; by the time he painted the wedded coupl es offspring as a cold blooded killing machine he will have left little doubt as to his intentions: the frame story and digression are meant to go hand-in-hand to show the i nglorious side of the heroic age hero.


49 Chapter Seven: The Voyage of Argo Poem 64 famously opens with an allusion to the voyage of the Argo en route to the eastern end of the world to take the Golden Fleece from Aetes (1-11) Pine-trees of old, born on the top of Pelion, are said to have swum through the clear waters of Neptune to the waves of Phasis and the realms of Aeetes, when the chosen youths the fl ower of Argive strength, desiring to bear away from the Colchians the golden fleece, dared to course over the salt seas with swift ship, sweeping the blue expa nse with fir-wood blades, for whom the goddess who holds the fortresses of citytips made with her own hands the car flitting with light breeze, and bound the piny structure of the bowed keel. That ship first hanselled with voyage Amphitrite untried before. The poet goes on in the next lines to say that only on a certain day of that journey, and on no other, did mortals see the bare br easted sea-nymphs rising from the waves to marvel at the first ship to plough the sea and di d Peleus catch sight of Thetis and fall in love with her and she did not disdain his l ove (129). It ha s long been recognized (Konstan, 1977: 3) that it is on ly in this version by Catullu s that the mythic meeting of Peleus and Thetis occurs as the Argo sails to Colchis. Of course it is a feature of the epyllion to tell a story in a manner not previ ously known or, in any case, less well known, and that it is highly character istic of Hellenistic erudition to reformulate earlier poetic efforts. In this way the poet not only di splays his learning but can either, depending upon how he manipulates the earlier material, a ffiliate with or distance himself from his predecessors. It is also true that Hellenistic erudition did not end with the poet but


50 included and needed a doctus reader as well. Gaisser calls the person who is trained to look for allusive clues in the text and is both knowledgeable enough to recognize them and subtle enough to construe their meaning a neoteric reader, and claims that the poet intended his poetry for a reader willing to apply such skil ls to the poem (Gaisser, 1995: 581). That Catullus had a number of models both Latin and Greek, for the opening lines of the poem has long been admitted and explored. Euripides Medea, Apollonius Argonautica and Ennius Medea Exul are all recognizable in Catullus proem (Thomas, 1982: 145). Thomas argues that the main purpos e of Catullus in selecting the voyage of the Argo to open the poem is that it is so dense with poetical antecedents that the doctus poet could not resist referenc ing them before presenting his own superior version (Thomas, 1982: 163-164). Certai nly this argument has merit; Catullus must have indeed relished the vast poetical possi bilities inherent in the Argo le gend as told by Euripides, Apollonius and Ennius. Yet I agree with other scholars who contend that Catullus arrangement was not designed foremost as a po lemical exercise or even as an erudite reformation of a familiar myth. The main reason was thematic: he wanted to insert Medea with all her unhappy associations into the story (Curran, 1969: 185). By rearranging the normal order of the Argo myth in a way that no earlier poet had ever done, Catullus deliberately put the wedding of Pe leus and Thetis within the context of the voyage of the Argonauts and thus with the unpleasant Jason and Medea myth in order to adumbrate the hideous wrongdoings which would result from the offspring of the union (Konstan, 1977: 3). In fact, the signpos ts to the Medea myth of Ennius and Euripides are so prevalent and pronounced in th e first 18 lines that th e neoteric reader not possessed of the modern name given to the poem would not know until line 19 that he


51 was not reading a story of Jason and Medea but rather, of Peleus and Thetis (Gaisser, 1995: 581). At lines 19-21, with the emphatic threefold polyptoton, th e reader discovers that he has been misled and that the true subject will be the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (Gaisser, 1995: 581): tum Thetidis Peleus incensus fertur amore, tum Thetis humanos non despexit hymenaeos, tum Thetidi pater ipse iugandum Pelea sensit. Then is Peleus said to have caught fire with love of Thetis, then did Thetis not disdain mortal espousals, then did the Father himself know in his heart that Pele us must be joined to Thetis. At this point, Catullus reader would rec ognize the chronological alteration which made the wedding a result of the Argos sailing, know that the reversal was intentional and meaningful, and understand that poet had sign aled that he could e xpect a non-traditional telling of the wedding story. Now the reader would realize that Medea is meant to haunt the festivities and to insinuate that the wedding itself might not be without defect (Bramble, 1970: 21). The flaw, Catullus would make clear, is their celebrated offspring, Achilles, and the disproportionate carnage he was going to wreak at Troy as he cut down her sons with the same thoroughness and mech anical precision as a farmer crops yellow ears of corn (353-355) his th irst for blood not slaked until his burial mound was graced by the snowy limbs of the slaughtered maiden (364-365). Curran cuts short the objection that a disapproving reaction to the Achilles passage represents an anachronistic imposition of alien values and sensibilities upon the heroic point of view. This is exactly the view expressed by Skinner who called Achilles a conventional hero and excused his disquieting brutalities as acceptable under a more primitive heroic


52 code (Skinner, 1976: 53). Curran had already taken the position, antici pating this sort of mitigation, that in the aftermath of Euripide s and the Alexandrians, no poet, least of all the urbane Catullus, could accept uncritically the brutal savagery of Achilles (Curran, 1969: 191). The juxtaposition of two maidens, one the future mother of Achilles, the other his victim, in the epyllions epithalamium is designed to shock and discomfort. The following are the final stanzas of the song of the Parcae. They represent the dark and the light of the Age of Heroes, the happ y ideal and tragic reality (366-381): the high tomb shall be wetted With Polyxenas blood, who like a victim falling under The two-edged steel, sha ll bend her knee and bow her headless trunk. Run, drawi ng the woof-threads, ye spindles, run. Come then, unite the loves which your souls Desire: let the husband r eceive in happy bonds the Goddess, let the bride be gi ven up nay now! to her eager spouse. Run, drawing the woof-threads, ye spindles, run. When her nurse visits her again with the morning Light, she will not be able to circle her neck with Yesterdays riband; nor shall her anxious mother, Saddened by lone-lying of an unkindly bride, give up The hope of dear descenda nts. Run, drawing the woof-threads, ye spindles, run. The Medea myth, which Catullus used to hi ghlight the dark elem ent of the age of heroes, is not easily covered in brief fashion. In addition to the fact that it is quite old, much of the archaic Argonautic poetry has been lost (Bremmer, 1997: 86), and elements of the story occur in a geogra phical area so wide that it has been argued that there were two separate Medeas or that a later character supplanted earli er versions (Griffiths, 2006: 30-32). Early literary accounts of the Medea my th were the late seventh century poetry


53 of Mimnermus (fr. 11a), the si xth century conclusion of the Theogony by the pseudoHesiod (956-1002), and the sevent h or sixth century anonymous Carmen Naupacticum (Bernab Pajares, & Olmos Romera, 1996: Fr7 Davies). In addition to these direct mentions of Medea, there are references in later works (especially in Pausanias Description of Greece which cites works by Hellanikos, Kinaithon and a poem, Korinthiaka by Eumelos) that indicate a substantial written tradition dating from the archaic period which no longer exists (Griffiths, 2006: 16). The extant versions have in common several details. One is the importance th ey give to the role of Aphrodite in the affairs of Jason and Medea; Medea does not act so much as she is acted upon. Her divine ancestry, skill with drugs and magic, a nd her foreignness are also repeated themes (Graf, 1997: 31-33). In the late sixth century the lyric poet Pi ndar made a notable shift in the tradition by inserting doubt and ambiguity into the previous ly straightforward equation which minimized Medeas personal re sponsibility. In his fourth Pythian ode (211 250), the only complete pre-Hellenistic version of the Colchian story which remains, Aphrodites agency in Medeas a bduction is less certain Medea may be a consenting partner to her own seizure (Graf, 1997: 29). The tragedy which Euripides wrote in 431 B.C. greatly develops this tension between Medea-as-partner and Medea-aspawn, and it is the former, wanting to make complete Jasons debt to her, who loudly claims responsibility. As Medea and Jason argue about the degree of his obligation to her, she maintains that she saved his life (476), she killed the snake that guarded the fleece (482), she left her family of her own accord (482), and she killed Pelias and destroyed his house (486-487). Jasons adm its some assistance, but attributes to Aphrodite and Eros Medeas complicity and the success of the voyage (526-531). It is


54 also in the fifth century that fratricide, the murder of Apsyrtus, is added to the myth. Euripides (Med. 160), Sophocles (fr. 343 Radt) and the mythographer Pherecydes (Jacoby, 1923: fr. 32.3) each mention this crim e. Yet, it is esp ecially Euripides who gives Medea her canonical identity: the woman who kills her children in vengeance when her husband deserts herit was his heroine who became the point of reference for later versions (Boedeker, 1997: 127). Th e Medea myth, like the Theseus myth, is episodic. It is possible to point to a Colchian chapter, a Corinthian chapter or an Athenian chapter in Medeas st ory just as Theseus legend may be accessed by his labors or his transgressions or by other systems. However, Euripides arranged the earlier material to create a character that linked a compelling personal tragedy to a reply so unnatural and repulsive that no subsequent treatme nt of Medea could esca pe its influence. She would forever be guilty of fratricide, murder and infanticide, an enduring heroine both pitiable and evil. By the innovation of having Peleus and Th etis meet as a result of the sailing of the Argo, Medea became the poets invited guest at the wedding and brought, as Catullus intended, the abundant associa tions of faithlessness, betr ayal, desertion, murder and misery that were well-known from Euripides and repeated in Apollonius and Ennius. The purpose of the Medea allusion, to insinua te a less-than-glorious outcome of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, is reinforced by its connection to the Theseus/Ariadne story itself, as this pape r has shown, a troubling narra tive in a wedding poem. The outlines of both stories are analogous (Konstan, 1977: 68): each begins with a sea voyage and a perilous mission (the one to Cholchis fo r the golden fleece, the other to Crete to kill the Minotaur); in each, a local maid falls in l ove with the hero and assists him in his quest


55 even to the point of killing a brother (Apsyrtus, the Minotaur); the girl leaves her family to go with the hero; the hero abandons the girl (in Corinth, on Naxos); the deserted maid reproaches the hero; the hero suffers the lo ss of his own family (Jason, his children and bride; Theseus, his father). In addition to the broadly stroked similarities between the Theseus/Ariadne and Jason/Medea mythologies outlined above, Catull us directly models Ariadnes expression of suffering on the earlier Greek a nd Latin speeches of Medea. The Medea of Euripides, for one example, opens with a maid saying (1-8): Would that the Argo had never winged its way to the land of Colchis through the dark-blue Symplegades! Would that the pine trees had never been felled in the glens of Mount Pelion and furnished oars for the hands [5] of the heroes who at Pelias' command set forth in quest of the Golden Fleece! For then my lady Medea would not have sailed to the towers of Iolcus, her heart smitten with love for Jason. (Kovaks, 2001) In Catullus epyllion, Ariadne expresses this same wish in her lament (171-172): Iuppiter omnipotens, utinam ne tempore primo Cnosia Cecropiae tetigis sent litora puppes, indomito nec dira ferens stipendia tauro perfidus in Creta religasset navita funem Almighty Jupiter, I would the Attic ships had never touched Cnosian shores, nor ever the faithless voyager, bearing the dreadful tribut e to the savage bull, has fashioned his cable in Crete By modeling Ariadnes lament on that of Euripides (and on the near ly identical Latin


56 model of Ennius Medea Exul 253261who had also fo llowed the Greek original) Catullus connects the betrayal and treachery of Theseus to Jason and the Argonauts and correlates their failings. Th at Medeas tragedy found a voice in Ariadne may be seen in another example from Poem 64 (177-181): nam quo me referam? qu a spe perdita nitar? Idaeosne petam montes? at furgite lato discernens ponti tr uculentum diuidit aequor. an patris auxilium sperem: quemne ipsa reliqui respersum iuuenem fraternal caede secuta? For whither shall I return, lost, ah, lost: on what hope do I lean? Shall I seek the mountains of Crete? But barring them with broad flood the stormy waters of the sea lie in between. Shall I hope for the aid of my father, the father I deserted of my own will, to follow a lover stained with my brothers blood? Catullus model is clearly Ennius ( Medea Exul 284-5) (Zetzel, 1983: 259): Quo nunc me uortuam, quod iter incipiam ingredi? Domum paternamne anne ad Peliae filias? Whither shall I turn now? What road set out To tread? Towards my fathers home, or what? To Pelias daughters? (Jocelyn, 1967) Zetzel argues that Catullus us e of the Medea allusion in bo th the opening lines of the epyllion and in the ecphrasis undermines Thomas thesis that the Ar go myth, traditionally unconnected with the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, was employed for the multiplicity of versions which offered the doctus poet an irresistible opportunity to display his erudition.


57 Zetzel suggests that, without even consideri ng the content of the poem, the use of the same model in both parts of the poem would assist in binding the narrative and the ecphrasis together (Zetzel, 1983: 259). Catullus intended to show a pattern of weakness, to expose an intrinsic flaw in the Age of He roes. The character defects of Theseus were not limited to him, but attributes of the generation. Before I conclude this section, I want to take up briefly the subject of Peleus who, of course, was aboard the Argo and was thus, as I argue, a member of the Age of Heroes. His position in the epyllion is largely abstra ct and undetailed, his pa rticular significance being the necessary partner in the wedding. He is a member of the Argonautic crew when he catches fire with love of Thetis (19), who, in turn, does not disdain the marriage (20), and he is grante d her by Jupiter, Tethys and Oceanus (26-30). He is called a Thessaliae columen (mainstay of Thessaly) (26). The wedding takes place in his own splendid palace (a departure from all previous literary accounts, as is typical of the epyllion, which place the wedding on Mount Pe lion) (43-44) where the Fates sing that no love ever joined lovers in such a bond as links Peleus and Thetis (336-337) before calling for the union which your souls desir e (372). Catullus ignores the favorable Pindaric tradition of Peleus which gave him Thetis as reward for his vi rtuous resistance to the adulterous entreaties of Hippolyte, the wife of Akastos ( Nem 4.57ff, 5.25ff) (Konstan, 1977: 4). Although Catullus did no t attribute the winning of Thetis to any action on the part of Peleus, neither did the poet allude to the othe r traditions which had Peleus, as a mortal, be a punishment that Jupiter inflicted on Thetis (Wheeler, 1934: 123). It might even be argued that Jupiters acknowledgement that he gave up his own love (27) was intended to highlight Peleus favor ably (Wheeler, 1934: 123). Yet the glaring


58 absence of Apollo and Athena from the wedding ceremony undermines any gains which accrued to the character of Peleus b ecause of Zeus favor (298-301): Then came the Father of the gods wi th his divine wife and his sons, Leaving thee, Phoebus, alone in heaven, and with thee Thine own sister who dwells in the heights of Idrus; for as thou didst, so did thy sister scorn Peleus, nor Deigned to be present at the nuptial torches of Thetis. In Homer ( Il. 24.63) and Pindar ( Nem 5.21 ff.), Apollo was present at the ceremony. Catullus learned readers would recognize that this departure by the poet from the earlier versions of the myth was deliberately intende d to cause doubt and wo rry. The guest list contained other disturbing elem ents, also innovations of the poet. One is Prometheus, a guest who only in this version attends the wedding. He comes extenuata gerens veteris vestigia poenae (still bearing the scars of his anci ent punishment) (295) a discordant note in a celebration of harmony (Curran, 1969: 186). The role of Peleus in the epyllion is largely understated. However, it can be noted that there were opportunities from the earlier tradition for a more favorable treatment of the Ar gonaut which the poet chose to ignore. This leaves the poem with no positiv e portrayals from the age of heroes, exactly what Catullus intended.


59 Chapter Eight: Optimism in Alexandria, Despair in Rome It is often remarked that heroics are out of place in the epyllion (Nisetich, 2001: xxxiii). This view became one of the defining features of the epyllion and surely had its origins in the rebuke Callimachus made to th e Telchines in the proem of the Aetia to eschew writing poetry about kings and heroes. Gutzwillers definition of the epyllion makes the diminution of the hero central (Gutzwiller, 1981:2): Most basic to the transformation of epic in the Hellenistic epyllion is the subversion of the archaic ideal. Although each epyllion narrative is based on an episode in the life of a hero or heroine, the story is to ld in such a way as to undercut or even mock the conventional hero ic interpretation of this episode. Nisetich, arguing the opposing view, says that it cannot be true that heroics are ill-suited to the epyllion, at least with regards to that of Callimachus. He cites as evidence to the contrary the exemplary treat ment of Theseus in the Hecale which this paper has enumerated (Nisetich, 2001: xxxiv). Through flashback and allusion, the epyllion traced the passage of Theseus, beginning in Troezen wi th his recovery of his birthright to his arrival in Athens and subseque nt victorious mission to Ma rathon, with deference. The depiction included the successf ul but potentially deadly en counters with Scyron, Cercyon and Medea in addition to his key victory over the bull. There was also the sympathetic description of a young prince, just on the heel s of his most glorious triumph, preoccupied first with his fathers well-being and then mindful of his obliga tion to honor the Attic woman who gave him shelter. The heart of the miniature epic was the account of this overnight visit with Hecale. The epyllion may have been given its structural unity by


60 material which was suitable for epic the jour ney of Theseus to kill the bull of Marathon but the focus was on the commonplace: an evening journey interrupted by a storm, a simple meal, a conversation (Bulloch, 1985: 563-4). In this way the Alexandrian poet revised the high tone of the archaic epic to appeal to the third cen tury appetite for all things outside their realm of experience: the ordinary had appeal pr ecisely because of its remoteness from the normal experience of mo st Hellenistic readers (Bulloch, 1985: 543). Callimachus clearly and correctly und erstood that the decline of poetry in the fourth century was due in great measure to the constant repetition and consequent exhaustion of the old mythological material (Trypanis, 1947: 3). Although the Hecale featured a well-documented hero, it found origin ality in the lowline ss of its backdrop and its emphasis on the everyday concerns of food and shelter. Theseus is shown at the outset of his heroic career (Hollis, 1990: 6) and the main focus is on the companionship he shared with an old peasant woman on the eve of her death. His conquest of the bull was only briefly treated. Moreover, Callimachus added a new dimension to the mythological representation of Theseus. His unique charac terization was a blend of the early archaic era youth, whose reputation as a skilled warrior was tarnished by his rude social behavior, and the Classical periods just and wise Athe nian king. The hero was shown just at the moment of adolescent discovery and emergent character, yet alre ady possessed of the Sophoclean maturity seen in Oedipus at Colonus. Hecale must have recognized the heroic promise in the youth Plutarch says that she intended to make a sacrifice to Zeus on his behalf (Theseus 14). Part of the engaging pathos of the epyllion was that she did not live to see him become an , best seen when the concerns of the


61 great man whose visage, as he led th e beast he had just tamed, inspired equal measures of awe and terror in the townspe ople of Marathon were not on his own feat, but on his father and new friend. Still it needs to be answered why Ca llimachus, whose famous response to his detractors was to ridicule contemporary effort s to continue the production of epic poetry about kings and heroes, would compose a new type of poetry, an innovation intended and destined to attract notice, based on Thes eus one of the most frequently occurring subjects of the visual and written arts of ancient Greece. He could just as well have picked a less well-known hero to anchor his lit tle epic. I argue that it must be considered noteworthy that he chose to di stinguish his epyllion a poem designed to be a showpiece for his new poetic principles, his answer to his critics and manifesto for the future (Crump, 1931: 33) with a plot based on Theseus. His long and regular appearance in poetry and art would seem to make him especial ly distasteful or unsuitable to a poet with a stated agenda of modernism. Part of his very public reply to the Telchines was the path of a poet should be one little used ( Aetia 1). But Callimachus had an important and personal reason to take up the story of Th eseus once again, and to make him look so good. The reason has to do with the poets ad miration for the past glory of Athens. Cameron argues against the claim that Hellenistic poets, livi ng in an age of monarchies, were inspired by nostalgia for the mythical past of the Classical city-state (Cameron, 1995: 42). While that may be true, I believe that more than most Callimachus must have been affected by the librarys al most sacred claim to be the guardian and controller of Greek culture for all the Greeks (Shipley, 2000: 242). His lot was to work daily within its walls and he would have b een thoroughly steeped in Greek historiography


62 and myth as he compiled the Pinakes, a catalogue of the librarys stacks. As part of the dislocated Greek community, Callimachus woul d have been naturally drawn to link an unaffiliated present to the deeply rooted my thological past which was his steady diet. Attica, with its tradition that its people were autochthonous sprung from the earth itself had the deep binding roots Alexandria lacke d. The Athenian belief that they were autochthonous gave them a national self-consci ousness which was central to their culture in the fifth and fourth centuries. They were unified in this, set apar t from other Greeks, to whom they felt superior (Kearns, 1989: 110). This feeling of superiority and separateness might have struck a chord with Callimachus as well. Thus, he featured Theseus not a Pan-Hellenic hero, but Athens singular hero. As the unifier and just ruler, he was the human representation of At hens; the city incarnate. By idealizing the hero Theseus, Callimachus glorified Athens. His treatment of Theseus was a celebration of the greatest city of the Ancient Greece. This is the reason Callimachus picked Theseus to secure the poem. There was no other hero whose tradition was so connected to the literary and cultural hear t of his artistic ancestry. It wa s for this reason that Callimachus did not begrudge space to the hero and his story, though famous (Hutchinson, 1988: 61). The patriotic feeling so common in classical poetry (Trypanis, 1947: 4) was revived in the Hecale This is not nostalgia for the past but admiration and a commemorative tribute. Callimachus was no preterist, however. As well as celebrating the archaic hero Theseus, he unveiled Hecale. She, with her si mple hospitality, is hi s concept of a hero for the Hellenistic world. Far from avoiding or denigrating the her o, Callimachus wrote a poem which expanded the category and brought together the old and the new versions.


63 The epyllion expressed appreciation for the noble Hellenic heroes of the past while giving the future a Hellenistic prototype. Even as the epyllion of Callimachus is optimistic and forward looking with respect to the hero establishing a model for the next generation of poets that of Catullus shows his full dissatisfaction with heroes past and disaffection with the present human condition. The final lines of the e pyllion which has heretofore exposed the shortcomings in the heroes of the past are a litany of the crimes and ills of present day Rome. The heavenly ones were wont to visit pious homes of heroes, and show themselves to mortal company (384-386) only before the earth was dyed with hideous crime, and all men banished justice from their greedy souls and brothe rs sprinkled their hands with brothers blood, the son left off to mourn his parents death, the father wi shed for the death of his young son, that he might without hindrance enjoy the flower of a young bride, the unnatural mother impiously coupling with her unconscious son did not fear to pollute her family gods. (397-404) Catullus despised the current condition a nd called the contemporary Roman behavior criminal. He found no escape in the past, however, because as the poem as a whole declares, it was never any better (Curran, 1969: 192). It was long thought by some (Putnam, 1961:189) that Catullus meant the wedding of Peleus and Thetis to be the last occas ion where the gods mingled with mortals, and that the basic antithesis of the poem was between the Age of Heroes and the contemporary world. More recent scholarsh ip proves this argument wrong for two reasons. First, as this paper has shown, the treatment of ancient heroes in the poem was


64 far from favorable. The portrait of Theseus, the allusions to Jason and Medea, and the excesses of Achilles express the flaws inherent in the hero. Even the presence of the Argo, aside from the allusions to Medea, is ambiguous and worrisome. This, the ship first hanselled with voyage Amphitrite untr ied before (11) did not represent an advancement of civilization, but, rather, a tr ansgression of the natural limits (Konstans, 1977: 23-26). Men were meant to stay as hore. Daring, too da ring, the man who first broke into the treacherous s eas with a boat so fragile sa ys a chorus in Senecas Medea (300-301). Much earlier than Seneca, Hesiod ha d opined that the just man does not travel the seas (WD 230-236): Neither famine nor disaster ever haunts men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fi elds which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top an d bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flouris h continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the gr ain-giving earth bears them fruit. The reason for sea travel is gain. Profit, and the desire for it, lead s to inequality and inequality leads to war. The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis opens with a story of gain: the Argo seeking the Golden Fleece; it ends with the hideous savagery committed by Achilles in the Trojan War. There is also the matter of Thetis and the Nereids rising up above the foamy waves to gaze in wonderment at the first ship (15-18). The reader is expected to recall that when Homer presented this scene in Iliad 18.35 ff., the Nereids are mourning the Patroclus who died because of Achilles (Curran, 1969: 187). Second, not even in this epyllion do gods and mortals mingl e. Apollo and Athena refused to attend the wedding, and only after the mortal gue sts depart, giving place to the holy gods


65 (267-268), do other immortal s begin arriving (Curran, 1969: 185). The wedding is the mythological present, a time when the gods re fused to visit the homes dyed with hideous crime (397). The past, represented by Thes eus and the Argonauts, was also deeply flawed. The future is embodied by Achilles. The poem turns out to be a bleak assessment of the human condition beginning lo ng ago with the sailing of the first ship and concluding in the poets lifetime. Unlike his Alexandr ian predecessor, Catullus does not hold out hope or offer a pos itive standard bearer for the future. The future he promised was a litany of horror at the hand of Achilles, prophesied in the song of the Parcae. Catullus and his poetry stand near the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. The Roman world is disintegrati ng and his epyllion is a reflection of his pessimism.


66 References Agard, W. R. (1928). Theseus: A national hero. The Classical Journal, 24 (2), 84-91. Allen, W.,Jr. (1940). The epyllion: A chapte r in the history of literary criticism. Transactions and Proceedings of the Am erican Philological Association, 71 1-26. Slavitt, D. R., ed. and trans. (1998) Epinician odes and dithyrambs of Bacchylides Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Bernab Pajares, A., Bernab Pajares, A. & Olmos Romera, R. (1996). Poetarum epicorum graecorum: Testimonia et fragmenta (Editio correctior editionis primae (1987) ed.). Stutgardiae: In aedibus B.G. Teubner. Boedeker, D. (1997). Becoming Medea, assimilation in Euripides. In J. J. Clauss, & S. I. Johnston (Eds.), 128-148. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press. Bramble, J. C. (1970). Structure and ambiguity in Catullus LXIV. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 16, 22-41. Bremmer, J. N. (1997). Why did Me dea kill her brother Apsyrtus? Medea, 83-100. Princeton, N.J.: Princeto n University Press. Bulloch, A. W. (1985). Hellenistic poetry. The Cambridge history of classical literature 1, 541-621. Cambridge Cambridgeshire; New York: Cambridge University Press. Cameron, A. (1992). Genre and style in Callimachus. Transactions of the American Philological Association ( 1974), 122, 305-312. Cameron, A. (1995). Callimachus and his critics. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.


67 Clausen, W. (1964). Callimachus and Latin poetry. Greek, Roman & Byzantine Studies, 5, 181-196. Crowther, N. B. (1971). Catullus and the traditions of Latin poetry. Classical Philology, 66, 246-249. Crump, M. M. (1931). The epyllion from Theocritus to Ovid New York: Garland Pub. Curran, L. C. (1969). Catullus 64 and the heroic age. Yale Classical Studies, 21, 169-192. Daly, L. W. (1952). Callimachus and Catullus. Classical Philology, 47, 97-99. Daniels, M. L. (1973). "The song of the fa tes" in Catullus 64: Epithalamium or dirge? The Classical Journal, 68, 97-101. Davie, J. N. (1982). Theseus th e king in fifth-century Athens. Greece & Rome, 29, 2534. Debrohun, J. B. (2007). Catullan intertextuality: Apollonius and the allusive plot of Catullus 64. A companion to Catullus, 293-312. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. Diamant, S. (1982). Theseus and the unification of Attica. Hesperia Supplements, 19 (Studies in Attic Epigraphy, History and Topography. Presented to Eugene Vanderpool), 38-47. Easterling, P. E., & Knox, B. M. W. (1985). The Cambridge history of classical literature: Greek literature Cambridge Cambridgeshire; New York: Cambridge University Press. Ellis, R. (1889). A commentary on Catullus (2d. ed.). Oxford: Clarendon press. Feldherr, A. (2007). The intellectual climate. A companion to Catullus, 92-197. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.


68 Fitch, John G. (2002). Seneca: Hercules ; Trojan women ; Phoenician women ; Medea ; Phaedra. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Fordyce, C. J. (1961). Catullus. A commentary Oxford: Clarendon Press. Gaisser, J. H. (1995). Threads in the labyr inth: Competing views and voices in Catullus 64. The American Journal of Philology, 116, 579-616. Gildenhard, I., & Zissos, A. (2004). Ovid's 'Hecale': Deconstructing Athens in the Metamorphoses. The Journal of Roman Studies, 94 47-72. Glare, P. G. W. (1982). Oxford Latin Dictionary Oxford Oxfordshire; New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. Goold, G. P., (1983). Catullus London: Duckworth. Graf, F. (1997). Enchantress from afar. Medea : Essays on Medea in myth, literature, philosophy, and art, 21-43. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Gutzwiller, K. J. (1981). Studies in the Hellenistic epyllion. Knigstein/Ts: Hain. Harmon, D. P. (1973). Nostalgia for the age of heroes in Catullus 64. Latomus, 32, 311331. Havelock, E. A., (1939). The lyric genius of Catullus Oxford: B. Blackwell. Hollis, A. S. (1990). Callimachus: Hecale Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. Hunter, R. L. (2006). The shadow of Callimachus: Studies in the reception of Hellenistic poetry at Rome Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Hutchinson, G. O. (1988). Hellenistic poetry Oxford England; New York: Clarendon Press.


69 Jackson, C. N. (1913). The Latin epyllion. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 24, 37-50. Jacoby, F. (1973). Atthis: The local chronicles of ancient Athens New York: Arno Press. Jocelyn, H. D. (Ed.) (1967). The tragedies of Ennius: The fragments London: Cambridge U.P. Johnson, W. R. (2007). Neoteric poetics. A companion to Catullus, 175-189. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. Kearns, E. (1989). The heroes of Attica London: University of London, Institute of Classical Studies. Knopp, S. E. (1976). Catullus 64 and the conflict between amores and virtutes Classical Philology, 71, 207-213. Knox, B., & Fagles, R. (1984). Sophocles: The three Theban plays Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England ; New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books. Knox, P. E. (2007). Catullus and Callimachus A companion to Catullus, 151-171. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. Konstan, D. (2007). The contemporary political climate. A companion to Catullus, 72-9. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. Konstan, D. (1977). Catullus' indictment of Ro me: The meaning of Catullus 64 Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert. Kovacs, D. (2001). Euripides: Cyclops; Alcestis; Medea Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


70 Lyne, R. O. A. M. (1978). The neoteric poets. The Classical Quarterly, 28, 167-187. Manson, E. (1910). Breach of promise of marriage. Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation, 11, 156-167. Merrill, E. T., & Catullus, G. V. (1893). Catullus Boston, New York: Ginn and Co. Mills, S. (1997). Theseus, tragedy, and the Athenian empire New York: Clarendon Press. Most, G. W. (2006). Hesiod. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Morwood, J. (1999). Catullus 64, Medea, and the Franois vase. Greece & Rome, 46 221-231. Nisetich, F. J. (2001). The poems of Callimachus Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. Pfeiffer, R. (1949-1953). Callimachus. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Pollitt, J. J. (1986). Art in the Hellenistic age Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Radt, S. L., ed. and trans. (1977). Sophocles Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Race, W. H. (1997). Pindar Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Reece, S. (1993). The stranger's welcome: Oral theory and the aesthetics of the Homeric hospitality scene Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Shaw, M. H. (1982). The of Theseus in 'The suppliant women'. Hermes, 110, 319. Shipley, G. (2000). The Greek world after Alexander, 323-30 B.C New York: Routledge. Skinner, M. B. (1976). Iphigenia and Pol yxena: A Lucretian allusion in Catullus. Pacific Coast Philology, 11, 52-61.


71 Slavitt, D. R., ed. and trans. (1998). Epinician odes and dithyrambs of Bacchylides. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Radt, S. L., ed. and trans. (1977). Sophocles Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Sourvinou-Inwood, C. (1971). Theseus lifting the rock and a cup near the Pithos painter. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 91, 94-109. Syme, R. (1960). The Roman revolution London: Oxford University Press. Thomas, R. F. (1982). Catullus and the polemics of poetic reference (poem 64.1-18). The American Journal of Philology, 103, 144-164. Thomson, D. F. S. (1997). Catullus Toronto; Buffalo: Univers ity of Toronto Press. Townend, G. B. (1983). The unstated climax of Catullus 64. Greece & Rome, 30, 21-30. Trypanis, C. A. (1947). The character of Alexandrian poetry. Greece & Rome, 16, 1-7. Trypanis, C. A., (1958). Callimachus: aetia--iambi--lyric poems--hecale--minor epic and elegiac poems--fragments of epigrams--fragments of uncertain location Cambridge; London: Mass., Harvard University Press; W. Heinemann Ltd. Vessey, D. W. T. C. (1970). Thoughts on the epyllion. The Classical Journal, 66, 38-43. Weber, C. (1983). Two chronological contradictions in Catullus 64. Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974), 113, 263-271. Webster, T. B. L. (1966). The myth of Ariadne from Homer to Catullus. Greece & Rome, 13, 22-31. Wheeler, A. L. (1934). Catullus and the traditions of ancient poetry Berkeley: Calif., University of California Press. Williams, G. W. (1968). Tradition and originality in Roman poetry Oxford: Clarendon Press.


72 Wiseman, T. P. (1985). Catullus and his world: A reappraisal Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Zanker, G. (1977). Callimachus' Hecale: A new kind of epic hero? Antichthon, 11, 68. Zanker, G. (1987). Realism in Alexandrian poetry : A literature and its audience London; Wolfboro, N.H: Croom Helm. Zetzel, J. E. G. (1983). Catullus, Ennius and the poetics of allusion. ICS, (8), 251-286.


Download Options

Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.