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Aulodes and Rhapsodes: Performance and Forms of Greek Elegy from Mimnermus to Hermesianax

Aulodes et rhapsodes : performance et formes de l’élégie grecque de Mimnerme à Hermesianax
Aulodi e rapsodi: esecuzione e forme dell’elegia greca da Mimnermo a Ermesianatte
Livio Sbardella

Résumés

La présente discussion reconsidère le fr. 7.35-46 Powell (3.35-46 Lightfoot) de la Leontion d’Hermesianax comme offrant une synthèse et un jugement esthétique de la tradition de l’élégie originaire de Colophon de la période archaïque à la période hellénistique. Elle montre que la terminologie employée dans ce passage établit une distinction claire entre les deux grands prédécesseurs d’Hermesianax, Mimnerme et Antimaque, en suggérant que le premier composait des élégies pour une exécution chantée avec l’accompagnement de l’aulos, alors que le second composait probablement sa poésie soit pour des performances récitées avec accompagnement (parakataloge), soit pour des performances purement récitées sans accompagnement. Dans le premier âge hellénistique, Hermesianax, dans sa Leontion, s’est efforcé de reconstituer l’élégie sympotique dans sa forme aulodique originale, telle qu’elle avait été pratiquée par Mimnerme, et de la réconcilier avec la forme rhapsodique d’une composition élégiaque thématiquement cohérente modelée sur la Lyde d’Antimaque. Une tentative similaire pour recréer l’élégie sympotique a été faite par le contemporain et ami d’Hermitasianax Philitas de Cos dans ses Paignia, comme on peut le déduire d’un court fragment de Philitas (15 Lightfoot = 18 Sbardella = 20 Spanoudakis) et d’une nouvelle lecture du passage d’Hermesianax qui lui est consacré.

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Texte intégral

Pleasant singing and rough planctus: The Colophonian school of elegy

  • 1 “Er [sc. Hermesianax] bietet ein interessantes Monument von poetologischer Reflexion, insbesondere (...)

1Lines 35–46 of the long fragment from Book 3 of Hermesianax’s Leontion, preserved by Athenaeus and introduced by him as katalogos erotikon (Hermesianax fr. 3 Lightfoot = 7 Powell, ap. Ath. 13.597b–599b), are devoted to Mimnermus (lines 35–40 = test. 2 Gentili–Prato) and Antimachus (lines 41–46 = test. 7 Gentili–Prato = 11 Matthews). This passage provides an implicit history of the development of the elegiac genre in Colophon from the archaic to the Hellenistic period.1

Μίμνερμος δέ, τὸν ἡδὺν ὃς εὔρετο πολλὸν ἀνατλὰς      35
      ἦχον καὶ μαλακοῦ πνεῦμα τὸ πενταμέτρου,
καίετο μὲν Ναννοῦς· πολιῷ δʼ ἐπὶ πολλάκι λωτῷ
      κημωθεὶς κώμους εἶχε σὺν Ἐξαμύῃ.
ἤχθεε δʼ Ἑρμόβιον τὸν ἀεὶ βαρὺν ἠδὲ Φερεκλῆν
      ἐχθρὸν μισήσας οἷʼ ἀνέπεμψεν ἔπη.      40
Λυδῆς δʼ Ἀντίμαχος Λυδηΐδος ἐκ μὲν ἔρωτος
      πληγεὶς Πακτωλοῦ ῥεῦμʼ ἐπέβη ποταμοῦ·
†δαρδανη δὲ θανοῦσαν ὑπὸ ξηρὴν θέτο γαῖαν
      κλαίων, †αἰζαον δʼ ἦλθεν ἀποπρολιπὼν
ἄκρην ἐς Κολοφῶνα· γόων δʼ ἐνεπλήσατο βίβλους      45
      ἱράς, ἐκ παντὸς παυσάμενος καμάτου.

  • 2 Transl. J. L. Lightfoot, Hellenistic Collection: Philitas, Alexander of Aetolia, Hermesianax, Parth (...)

Long-suffering Mimnermus, who found out      35
Sweet song and the pentamenter’s soft breath,
For Nanno burned; and binding on his ancient flute
Held many a revel with Examyes.
He warred with ever-cruel Hermobius, and loathed
His enemy, Pherecles, for his jibes.      40
Antimachus, for Lydian Lyde struck
With passion, trod beside Pactolus’ stream;
. . . and when she died, laid her beneath dry earth
Lamenting, and departing [from . . . ?] came
To Colophon’s hill; and holy books with tears      45
He filled, when he had ceased from all his grief.2

  • 3 Similarly R. Hunter, “Sweet Nothings: Callimachus Fr. 1, 9–12 Revisited,” in G. Bastianini and A. C (...)

2In the preceding part of the katalogos, Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod and Homer appeared, but in the passage under discussion the account of the famous poets’ (fictitious) love affairs focuses on the two most important Colophonian representatives of the elegiac genre before Hermesianax. It should be noted that the words Hermesianax uses for the elegiac verse of Mimnermus, ἦχος and πνεῦμα, both refer to the sphere of acoustic perception, which implies that the “live” performance of the archaic poet’s compositions is alluded to.3 Therefore Hermesianax casts himself not as a reader of Mimnermus, but as a listener, or perhaps better yet—as I will argue—as a late performer of his poetry.

  • 4 For a detailed survey of the concept of “sweetness” in elegiac poetry, from Mimnermus to Callimachu (...)
  • 5 In this regard B. Gentili, Poesia e pubblico nella Grecia antica. Da Omero al V secolo, 2nd ed., Ro (...)

3The words Hermesianax employs for Antimachus’ poetry also refer to its acoustic dimension, but the semantic sphere to which they belong is rather distant from, if not the opposite of, how Mimnermus’ output is characterized. The words such as κλαίων, perhaps αἰάζων (which has been conjectured for the corrupt αἰζαον), and γόοι evoke the gloomy auditory sensation of planctus and mourning, the opposite of the lively and pleasing elegy of Mimnermus, whose sound (ἦχος) is not surprisingly characterized as ἠδύς.4 Moreover, in the passage on Mimnermus, the image of the archaic poet as an aulos-playing komast, which refers to the subject-matter of his poems, evokes the sung performance of elegy. This is in keeping with a tradition not much later than Mimnermus himself, according to which he had the stage name Λιγυᾳστάδης, “melodious singer” (cf. Solon fr. 26.3 Gentili–Prato; hence probably Suda s.v. Μίμνερμος = test. 1 Gentili–Prato ἐκαλεῖτο δὲ καὶ Λιγυᾳστάδης διὰ τὸ ἐμμελὲς καὶ λιγύ).5

  • 6 T. Gärtner, art. cit., p. 81.
  • 7 It is striking that the myth of Orpheus and his poetry was treated also in Phanocles’ elegy (fr. 1 (...)
  • 8 G. Serrao, “La struttura della Lide di Antimaco e la critica callimachea,” QUCC N.S. 3 (32), 1979, (...)

4Internal evidence in support of this reading is provided by the refined symbolism of several elements of the katalogos erotikon. The close verbal correspondence between lines 13–14 on Orpheus, ...ἄνακτας | Ἀγριόπην μαλακοῦ πνεῦμα λαβεῖν βιότου, and lines 35–36 on Mimnermus, ...ἀνατλάς | ἦχον καὶ μαλακοῦ πνεῦμα τὸ πενταμέτρου, is, as other scholars have already observed, hardly coincidental.6 The two verbal sequences evoke, respectively, the image of the reappearance of Agriope’s πνεῦμα and the first appearance of the πνεῦμα of elegiac verse. They are linked by the fact that both poets practiced the art of singing, Orpheus with the accompaniment of the lyre, Mimnermus with the aulos, through which they gained, or regained, something gentle and pleasing (μαλακοῦ . . . βιότου, μαλακοῦ . . . πενταμέτρου, ἠδύν . . . ἦχον), since both poets conjoined their art with erotic passion. This is the point of the parallelism.7 On the contrary, there is no reference to music or singing in the passage on Antimachus; its language is more suggestive of the recitative voice.8

  • 9 Mimnermus and Antimachus also appear as the two canonic Colophonian elegists in Posidippus Ep. 140 (...)

5It becomes apparent, therefore, that not only does Hermesianax emphasize the pronounced tendency of Antimachean elegy for the “harsh” tones of lament, in contrast with the “soft” sound of Mimnermus’ elegy, but furthermore he hints that two different modes of performing elegy were used by the members of the Colophonian school: sung performance by Mimnermus and recitative performance by Antimachus. It is also clear that Hermesianax, who recognized Mimnermus as the protos heuretes of the genre and Antimachus as his successor, styled himself in his elegiac work the last link in the chain of the tradition that included the two earlier poets from Colophon. This is the triad of Colophonian elegy.9 They were seen as such by Athenaeus, who mentions all three of them when introducing Hermesianax’ katalogos erotikon (Ath. 13.597a = Mimnermus test. 7 Gentili–Prato = Antimachus test. 6 Gentili–Prato = 10 Matthews = Hermesianax test. 3 Lightfoot). Besides the genre they practised, they were connected by being involved in love affairs with the women from whom their poems, or collections of poems, took their titles (Nanno, Lyde and Leontion).

6What remains to be seen, however, is how Hermesianax may have viewed himself as a follower at once of Mimnermus and Antimachus, if, even despite their belonging to the same school, he regarded them as fundamentally different. In order to resolve this paradox, I will provide a synthetic historical overview of the development of Greek elegy with regard to its performance.

Archaic elegy between sung and recitative performance

  • 10 For the sung performance of elegy, in particular the sympotic elegy, see, in the last decades, M. L (...)
  • 11 F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., pp. 1–9, attempt to reduce the objective significance of this (...)

7As we have seen, Hermesianax himself, implicitly yet clearly enough, attests sung performance for Mimnermus, whom he celebrated as the inventor of the elegiac rhythm. He may be led by partiality to a compatriot in his judgement of Mimnermus as the protos heuretes of the genre, yet otherwise Hermesianax’ description finds confirmation in other sources.10 To begin with, extant archaic elegies contain suggestive images that may allude to their performance, such as the passages in the corpus Theognideum, lines 533–534 χαίρω δʼ εὖ πίνων καὶ ὑπʼ αὐλητῆρος ἀείδων, | χαίρω δʼ εὔφθογγον χερσὶ λύρην ὀχέων and 825–826 πῶς ὑμῖν τέτληκεν ὑπʼ αὐλητῆρος ἀείδειν | θυμός; (cf. also lines 241–243). Although the verb ἀείδω is often used of recitative poetry, these passages seem to allude to the sung and musical performance of elegy at the symposium, as is suggested by the fact that ἀείδω is twice connected with ὑπʼ αὐλητῆρος.11

  • 12 On the pseudo-Plutarchean De Musica and its sources see now A. Barker, Ancient Greek Writers on the (...)
  • 13 Cf. also Paus. 10.7.5–6, who, when recounting the origins of the Pythian musical agon in the archai (...)
  • 14 A trace of this inscribed source for the Panathenaic musical agon is also preserved in IG II2 2311, (...)

8More fundamental, however, is the evidence provided by a later tradition. We learn from Pseudo-Plutarch’s De Musica (Mor. 1134a [De mus. 8] = Mimnermus test. 5 Gentili–Prato) that according to Hipponax Mimnermus performed a traditional “fig-branch song” (nomos Kradias) with the accompaniment of the aulos.12 Pseudo-Plutarch explicitly says that ἐν ἀρχῇ . . . ἐλεγεῖα μεμελοποιημένα οἱ αὐλῳδοὶ ᾖδον, “originally it was the aulodes who sang elegy set to music”;13 the source for this information he mentions is the inscription concerning the musical agon at the Panathenaea.14

  • 15 See on this D. A. Campbell, art. cit.
  • 16 For a general theoretic model of the elegy as an intermediate genre with regard to its perfomance, (...)
  • 17 For the syntactic and semantic coherence of the elegiac couplet, including the use of formulaic exp (...)
  • 18 On the “lyric hexameter,” with particular attention to tragedy, see R. Pretagostini, “L’esametro ne (...)
  • 19 D. Korzeniewski, Griechische Metrik, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Die Altertumswi (...)

9However, the “sung” performance of this sort, mostly with the accompaniment of wind instruments or also string instruments,15 which according to the author of De Musica was also practiced by the Argive Sacadas, who is described as composer of music and poet of elegies set to music (ποιητὴς μελῶν τε καὶ ἐλεγείων μεμελοποιημένων), is at least likely to have been different from the performance of monodic melic poetry. It is telling, in fact, that the author of De Musica makes a distinction between the μέλη and ἐλεγεῖα μεμελοποιημένα of Sacadas. The performance of elegy was something between full-voiced song and the chanting recitative, with accompaniment, of the iambic parakataloge (which was different from the pure recitative of rhapsodic epic, without music)—a way of performance that allowed elegy to easily adapt either to song or to recitative,16 in accord with the potential of its peculiar metrical structure. The “elegiac couplet” is a short epodic strophe, remarkable for its self-containedness from the syntactic and semantic point of view.17 The first verse, the hexameter, may also have been adapted to sung performance,18 whereas the second, the elegiac or pentameter, with spondees allowed only in the first hemiepes, was an asynartetic combination, whose dactylic rhythm oscillated between the recitative modality of performance (first hemiepes) and lyric performance (second hemiepes).19

  • 20 On the parakataloge cf. [Plut.] Mor. 1141a (De mus. 28), where it seems to be a sort of simple sung (...)
  • 21 Such evidence is left out, although it deserves attention, by F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., (...)
  • 22 According to K. J. Dover, “The Poetry of Archilochus,” in Archiloque, Geneva, Fondation Hardt, Entr (...)
  • 23 See also F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., pp. 11–12.
  • 24 See A. Rotstein, The Idea of Iambos, Oxford, OUP, 2010, pp. 152–166 and 254–278 on the possibility (...)

10Indeed, at first sung performance probably coexisted with a form of chanting recitative performance with accompaniment (parakataloge), and subsequently the former was perhaps replaced by the latter and by purely recitative performance.20 Otherwise it would not make sense for Pseudo-Plutarch to have spoken of sung performance as the original way of performance, i.e. more ancient than other ones.21 We have no way of finding out when and how the tendency for the recitative performance of elegy originated. As early as in the seventh century BC, Archilochus, who composed both elegy and iambic poetry, clearly regarding them as related genres,22 probably advocated the convergence between the two by performing both as parakataloge, which was his innovation according to the ancient tradition. However, our source for Archilochus’ invention of parakataloge also specifies that he practiced the recitative performance of iambic poetry, with accompaniment, alongside sung performance ([Plut.] Mor. 1140f–1141a [De mus. 28] = Archilochus test. 146 Tarditi).23 Even if the picture remains somewhat obscure, then, it seems reasonable to assume that the Parian poet tended to merge the ancient modalities of performing elegy and iambic, so that they became suitable for a variety of occasions, which may have been the same or different for each of the two genres.24

  • 25 This is also highlighted by T. Gärtner, art. cit., p. 82, even if the text, especially ἤχθεε (ἠδἠχθ (...)

11We should note that Hermesianax attests, in the already quoted lines 39–40 of his katalogos erotikon, the presence of the elements of psogos in Mimnermus’ poetry.25 This provides further evidence that elegy and iambic became more closely interconnected in the second half of the seventh century BC, with regard to their themes but perhaps also with regard to how they were performed.

  • 26 In this diachronic perspective we can also explain a passage of Aristotle where he asserts that mas (...)
  • 27 In Plato’s Timaeus (21b) there is a mention of performing Solon’s poems in rhapsodic contests—even (...)
  • 28 According to more recent scholarship, as in particular A. Rotstein, The Idea of Iambos, op. cit., a (...)
  • 29 We may suspect that the ktisis of Ion of Chios, which is attested by a sole testimony (test. 2b Gen (...)
  • 30 See L. Lulli, Narrare in distici, op. cit.
  • 31 See R. S. Garner, op. cit.

12A more decisive breakthrough seems to have taken place between the end of the sixth century BC and the fifth century BC, when Archilochus’ poetry began to enter the performative heritage of the rhapsodes and to be adapted to the modalities of the performance of epic. It implies that as far as performance is concerned, it was felt at that time that elegy and iambic were closely related to, if not identical with, epic poetry.26 This is explicitly attested by a fragment of Heraclitus, where it is said that Archilochus, together with Homer, should be expelled from poetic agons (B 42 Diels–Kranz = fr. 30 Marcovich),27 and by a passage in Plato’s Ion, where Socrates asks the rhapsode whether he is only expert in Homer’s poetry or also in the poetry of Hesiod and Archilochus (531a = Archilochus test. 134 Tarditi).28 Moreover, in the fifth century BC long elegiac poems were composed, such as the seven-thousand-line Ionica of Panyassis of Halicarnassus (test. 1 Matthews); one would expect that pure recivative, as in the case of epic, was a normal performance mode for such compositions.29 Yet the notion of the proximity between elegy and epic seems to go back to a very early period, too, in view of various correspondences between the two: metrical (hexameter), thematic (mythological content),30 stylistic (formulaic diction).31 Therefore even before this period there may already have been points of contact between the performative modalities of elegy and the rhapsodic technique, which left a mark on lyric tradition.

13An ancient tradition on sung performances of Tyrtaeus’ elegies is preserved, as late as the Byzantine period, in a testimony provided by Tzetzes, who speaks of Tyrtaeus’ προτρεπτικὰ πρὸς πόλεμον . . . ᾀσμάτων μέλη, usually performed by the Spartans during the war periods (Chil. 1.692–695 = Tyrtaeus test. 20 Gentili–Prato). A testimony of Philochorus preserved in Athenaeus, in a passage on ἐμβατήρια μέλη, “war songs,” provides further details on this practice in Sparta (FGrHist 328 F 216 ap. Ath. 14.630f = Tyrtaeus test. 11 Gentili–Prato):

Φιλόχορὸς δέ φησιν κρατήσαντας Λακεδαιμονίους Μεσσηνίων διὰ τὴν Τυρταίου στρατηγίαν ἐν ταῖς στρατείαις ἔθος ποιήσασθαι, ἂν δειπνοποιήσωνται καὶ παιωνίσωσιν, ᾄδειν καθʼ ἕνα <τὰ> Τυρταίου· κρίνειν δὲ τὸν πολέμαρχον καὶ ἆθλον διδόναι τῷ νικῶντι κρέας.

  • 32 Transl. S. D. Olson, Athenaeus. The Learned Banqueters, VII, Cambridge (MA), HUP, The Loeb Classica (...)

Philochorus says that after the Spartans defeated the Messenians because of Tyrtaeus’ generalship, they made it a custom during their campaigns that, after they have dinner and sing a paean, they take turns singing Tyrtaeus’ poems; the polemarch judges among them and awards the winner a piece of meat as a prize.32

  • 33 See L. Lulli, “Epica ed elegia,” art. cit., pp. 96–97.

14Singing καθʼ ἕνα, one after another, in an agonistic context, for a prize awarded by a judge, resembles performing elegies in turns in the manner of rhapsodes,33 although here we are dealing with, not recitative, but song. It is possible that this way of performing Thyrtaeus’ elegies in Sparta reached far back into antiquity.

  • 34 See L. Lulli, “Epica ed elegia,” art. cit., pp. 89–90.
  • 35 On the sympotic catenae in the corpus Theognideum see G. Colesanti, Questioni teognidee: La genesi (...)

15In the sixth century BC, the professional activity of a rhapsode, which included performing epic and commenting on its mythical content, was associated with composing sympotic elegies for Xenophanes, a poet from Colophon. Only one such elegy is fully extant, fr. 1 Gentili–Prato. As it happens, it explicitly describes the performance of an elegiac poem in the context of music and singing (line 12 μολπὴ δʼ ἀμφὶς ἔχει δώματα καὶ θαλίη), yet it is especially Xenophanes’ sympotic poetry that makes us wonder about the possible influence of the rhapsodic technique on such performances.34 In addition, the sympotic catenae preserved in the corpus Theognideum, which consist of several elegiac poems linked together through continuous or contrastive conceptual connections,35 deserve our attention due to their appearance in the context to which, as we have already seen, sung performances were well familiar. These may be taken to point to a relationship of dependence between performing in turns by rhapsodes and sung sympotic performances in the seventh and sixth centuries BC.

  • 36 On the narrative elegy and the probable occasions of its performance see the seminal discussions of (...)

16Hence it is possible to indicate points of contact between elegiac and rhapsodic performances before the tendency for the recitative performance of elegy became marked. These points of contact would have been even clearer if it is correct to assume that there also existed, as I am inclined to believe, the narrative elegy with mythical and historical content, which would since the archaic period have been performed, not in the closed sympotic space, but in open-air settings, for large audiences.36 This takes us back to Mimnermus and the Colophonian school.

Mimnermus from the symposium to the book

  • 37 See M. L. West, op. cit., pp. 75–76.
  • 38 On the structure of the Smyrneis and the peculiar nature of this narrative elegy see recently A. Al (...)
  • 39 On Mimnermus’ uncertain chronology and the much-debated problem of his hometown (Colophon vs. Smyrn (...)

17What we know for certain about Mimnermus’ elegiac production is only that it included self-contained sympotic elegies on various themes,37 as is clear both from extant fragments and from other evidence, and a relatively extended, consistently structured elegiac poem with narrative content, whose title, Smyrneis, may go back as early as the archaic stage of transmission.38 The Smyrneis, composed around a historical-mythical theme, dealt with the political events at Smyrna, and perhaps at nearby Colophon, in particular the armed resistance against the Lydian conquest, one or two generations before Mimnermus, whose exact chronology is uncertain.39

  • 40 G. Pasquali, “Mimnermo,” in id., Pagine stravaganti di un filologo. I, Pagine stravaganti vecchie e (...)
  • 41 See on this topic the papers collected in T. J. Figueira and G. Nagy (eds.), Theognis of Megara: Po (...)

18The original relationship between the sympotic elegies and the Smyrneis is also uncertain. This is because, for one thing, the figure of Mimnermus, as is the case with other archaic Greek poets, is rather elusive, his biography is obscure and moreover he bears a suspicious speaking name (“colui che resiste sul fiume Ermo,” according to the etymology proposed by Giorgio Pasquali).40 Even if not fictitious, the name of a celebrated poet, which may have been thought to allude to the resistance against the Lydians, might have at least facilitated the attribution to him of the entire archaic elegiac production, without distinction, of the aristocratic circles of Colophon and Smyrna between the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the sixth century BC. Similar is the case of Theognis, to whom several strata of archaic sympotic elegies, Megarian and composed elsewhere, were attributed in the course of their transition from oral tradition to a book corpus.41

  • 42 S. Mazzarino, Il pensiero storico classico, I, Bari, Laterza, 1966, p. 40, highlights the emphatica (...)

19On the other hand, we have no way of knowing whether the performance of Mimnermus’ sympotic elegies and the performance of his Smyrneis differed. The former, to which we have already devoted some attention, were short, self-contained poems, which were sung at symposia or sympotic komoi. But what about narrative carmina continua, with mythical and historical content, such as the Smyrneis? Is it possible that it was performed in a manner similar to that of rhapsodic epic, i.e. in front of a large audience—certainly larger than the audience at a single symposium—as a chanting recitative with accompaniment (parakataloge)?42 In my opinion, this is a highly plausible reconstruction, as it is consistent with the subsequent development of the elegiac tradition.

  • 43 M. L. West, op. cit., pp. 75–76.
  • 44 Thus C. W. Müller, “Die antike Buchausgabe des Mimnermos,” RhM 131, 1988, pp. 197–211, at pp. 202–2 (...)
  • 45 The fragment recounts the arrival of the settlers from Peloponnesian Pylus who founded Ionian Colop (...)

20What can be considered certain is that at some point, probably as early as the fourth century BC and undoubtedly in the Hellenistic period, Mimnermus’ elegiac output began to circulate in book form, under the newly-coined title Nanno, in a unified collection, which included both the originally distinct sympotic elegies and the Smyrneis. Ancient evidence refers to the collection in two books (cf. Mimnermus test. 9 Gentili–Prato), but I do not think, contrary to what Martin West suggested,43 that Nanno was the title for the collection of sympotic elegies in one book, whereas the other book contained the carmen continuum titled Smyrneis. I think it more likely that Nanno was the title of the whole ekdosis in two books, whereas Smyrneis was an older title, which was traditionally borne by one of the compositions that formed the collection.44 This seems to be confirmed by the fact that fr. 3 Gentili–Prato is explicitly attributed to the Nanno by our source (Strab. 14.1.4), although its content and the way in which Strabo introduces it suggest ascription to the Smyrneis, with its mythical and historical subject-matter.45 Notwithstanding, I fully agree with West’s hypothesis on the origin of the written ekdosis that unified Mimnermus’ elegiac poems, according to which the collection was compiled in the milieu of Colophonian poetic tradition. West suspects that Antimachus of Colophon was the compiler, and I think that this suggestion deserves further attention.

Antimachus: the rhapsodic performance of elegy

  • 46 Whether the author of this scholarly essay and the poet of the Theriaca are the same Nicander, as t (...)
  • 47 L. Sbardella, “Dai canti simposiali alla ‘grande donna’: Mimnermo e i suoi epigoni nel prologo dei (...)

21As I mentioned at the beginning of this discussion, the passage on Mimnermus in Hermesianax’ katalogos erotikon shows a typical appreciation, which we would expect from a performer of the archaic poet’s elegies. Although we do not have explicit evidence for such activity, Mimnermus’ compositions probably continued to be performed at least in Colophon, and perhaps elsewhere, too, at least until the Hellenistic age. In Colophon, there had existed what was viewed as a local poetic school in the Hellenistic age; it is attested by the essay On the Poets of Colophon Nicander wrote in the second century BC (schol. Nic. Ther. 3).46 The performance of the elegiac poems of the school’s oldest representatives must have been an enduring tradition. Furthermore, I have argued in a recent discussion on the vexed problem of the reconstruction and interpretation of Callim. Aet. fr. 1.11–12 Pfeiffer/Massimilla/Harder that this passage ought to be restored and understood not as a direct reference to Mimnermus’ poetry, but as a reference to the different ways in which it was read and performed first by Antimachus and subsequently by Hermesianax.47

  • 48 On the rich rhapsodic activity, well attested by sources, between the fifth and the fourth centurie (...)
  • 49 It would be difficult to think that this was not the case if we accepted the evidence of the ancien (...)
  • 50 See M. Lombardi, Antimaco di Colofone. La poesia epica, Rome, Gruppo Editoriale Internazionale, Fil (...)
  • 51 R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginning to the End of Hellenistic Age, Oxf (...)

22Let us now focus on Antimachus. We learn about his activity as performer in contests, probably as a rhapsode, from Duris of Samos, whose testimony is in turn preserved by Plutarch (Duris FGrHist 76 F 71 = Antimachus test. 4 Gentili–Prato = 2 Matthews ap. Plut. Lys. 18.3–5). According to this source, Antimachus competed with Niceratus of Heraclea in a commemorative agon for the Spartan king Lysander.48 We cannot be sure that the epic poem Thebaid was also composed to be performed by rhapsodes,49 but its mythical content, its structure and narrative dimension, its style, which follows the model of Homeric diction, situate it in the wake of cyclic and rhapsodic epic poetry.50 Moreover, it is probable that Antimachus’ “edition” of Homer (the earliest so-called ekdosis kat’ andra) traced back to the rhapsodic activity; it would have been intended to provide him, as well as, perhaps, the Colophonian rhapsodic circle around him, with the “authoritative” text for performances. He also wrote a bios of Homer (fr. 165 Matthews); this is probably where he argued that Homer was a Colophonian (fr. 166 Matthews), as if to secure his (and probably his circle’s) rights to performance, in a traditional fashion characteristic of archaic rhapsodic schools.51 All this suggests that his elegiac poetry was also intended for public rhapsodic performances.

  • 52 Somewhat similar was, in the archaic age, the practice of Xenophanes of Colophon (test. 77 Gentili– (...)
  • 53 On the structure of the Lyde as a carmen continuum see, in particular, G. Serrao, art. cit.
  • 54 It is possible that Antimachus contributed to the currency of the label “pentameter,” i.e. literari (...)

23Analogously to performing archaic epic (mostly Homer) alongside his own epic poetry,52 perhaps in a group of rhapsodes, the same was probably Antimachus’ practice with regard to elegiac poetry: he performed his compositions alongside poems attributed to Mimnermus. It is in this light that I find highly appealing West’s suggestion that the history of collecting Mimnermus’ elegies as a single edition in two books goes back to Antimachus; consequently, it seems likely that Antimachus conceived the Lyde as divided into at least two books, as can be deduced from the above-quoted passage from Hermesianax (lines 45–46 ἐνεπλήσατο βίβλους | ἱράς). I suspect, however, that behind the initiative of Antimachus and his rhapsodic group to prepare such a “compact” collection there were performative as well as editorial purposes, i.e. the collection was intended for performances, and not only for book circulation. What is even more important, I believe that the rhapsodic unity, which Mimnermus’ poetry acquired a posteriori, was also convenient for Antimachus, insofar as it provided him with an epichoric model of a long fictitious elegy for his Lyde, which combined erotic, mythical and self-consolatory themes in the form of a carmen continuum.53 In conclusion, I emphasize that for Antimachus the performance of Mimnermus’ elegiac poetry and the forms of his own elegiac poetry were closely connected—it was aesthetically functional for him to bring Mimnermus’ poetry in rhapsodic recitative performances.54

24How was it possible, however, for Mimnermus’ poetry to obtain a unitary form, so that it could have been performed as a consistent, uninterrupted whole, in accordance with the rhapsodic practice, including both the Smyrneis and the compositions originally intended for the symposium? Antimachus is likely to have played some part in devising, in the Colophonian milieu, such a sequence of compositions in which these were creatively ordered by historical and biographical events, in accord with the pattern of the occurrences of Mimnermus’ bios, real or fictitious. In this sequence, the sufferings in the war against Gyges’ Lydians, as recounted by the poet who took his name from it, were followed by the description of the peaceful private life and erotic affairs of the aristocratic community in the sympotic compositions, with their thematic varietas.

  • 55 See L. Sbardella, Cucitori di canti, op. cit., pp. 85–99.

25As I have already mentioned, Antimachus also authored a bios of Homer. It belonged to the bios-tradition that had already been well-established in late archaic and classical rhapsodic milieux; it provided the model for the artificial performative unity of the poetic pseudo-biography of Mimnermus. Such bioi, in accordance with a clearly defined cliché, first described the great aoidos as suffering and wandering, and subsequently recounted how he had acquired the deserved dignity and glory; the composition of the many poems ascribed to him had a place in this artificially contrived biographical pattern. Consequently, the poems were presented as part of the performative heritage of the rhapsodic group, whose members styled themselves as guardians of the biographical truth, which explained the poems’ origin. From this point of view, particularly interesting is the pseudo-Herodotean Life of Homer and its relation to the rhapsodic milieu of the Chian Homerid rhapsodes.55 The emphasis was put on underscoring the lasting continuity of the poetry of the “author,” so that it was possible to claim it and perform it adopting an order that, if not inherent to this poetry, at least reflected a fictitious biography.

  • 56 This description would be equally applicable to all representatives of the archaic Colophonian aris (...)
  • 57 Note the parallelism between the phrase πολλὸν ἀνατλάς used of Mimnermus (Hermesianax fr. 3.35 Ligh (...)
  • 58 From this perspective, Callimachus’ condemnation of Antimachus’ Lyde (Callim. fr. 398 Pfeiffer Λύδη (...)

26The section of Hermesianax’ katalogos erotikon on Mimnermus reflects the pseudo-biographical logic of the rhapsodic unity according to which Mimnermus’ elegiac compositions had come to be ordered (fr. 3.35–40 Lightfoot = 7.35–40 Powell = test. 2 Gentili–Prato): “after his long resistance (or suffering), Mimnermus invented the elegiac metre, and subsequently devoted himself to Eros at symposia and in komoi, and to erotic competition.”56 According to this logic, which was adopted in performing Mimnermus’ elegiac compositions in Colophon, the milestones of Colophonian history and Mimnermus’ biography were the sufferings of the resistance against the Lydians, whose reflections were found in his name and his poetry (πολλὸν ἀνατλάς),57 and the subsequent career of an elegiac poet at aristocratic symposia. Taking this as the starting point, Antimachus, perhaps accompanied by other Colophonian rhapsodes, collected all of Mimnermus’ sympotic poetry and arranged it in a continuous performative whole. It was probably this rhapsodic collection of Mimnermus’ elegies that at some point came to bear the title of Nanno. I suggest that what the Alexandrian Callimachus disliked about this construct was its rhapsodic artificiality, alongside the sort of elegiac poetry for which it provided a model, namely the Lyde.58

Hermesianax: the recovery of the sympotic dimension of elegy

27Let us now return to Hermesianax. Two issues should be noted:

(a) Lines 35–46 of the katalogos erotikon (the passage quoted above) prove, even if this is not explicitly expressed, that he considered himself to have been the third in the history of the school of Colophonian elegy from the origin to the early Hellenistic age, successor to Mimnermus and Antimachus. This is also supported by the the testimony of Nicander, who emphasized Hermesianax’ role in his treatise on the poetic school of Colophon.

(b) Athenaeus’ introduction to the katalogos erotikon (13.597a = Mimnermus test. 7 Gentili–Prato = Antimachus test. 6 Gentili–Prato = 10 Matthews = Hermesianax test. 3 Lightfoot), which I have already referred to, after mentioning Lyde, who was celebrated by Antimachus, makes mention of Leontion, the poet’s beloved, alongside Nanno, a flute-player loved by Mimnermus, as if to acknowledge a strong connection between the three poems titled after the poets’ mistresses.

  • 59 We are told by Athenaeus (13.597a = Hermesianax test. 3 Light.) that “because of his love to Leonti (...)

28As for the relationship with Antimachus, one may suppose that Hermesianax was also an epic poet, perhaps a rhapsode, since a scholion on Nicander’s Theriaca 3 (Hermesianax test. 1 Lightfoot = Philitas test. 7 Lightfoot = 14 Sbardella = 16 Spanoudakis) ascribes to him not only the elegiac Leontion, but also Persica, probably a hexameter poem (that it was in elegiacs cannot be, however, excluded). We do not have secure information regarding the contents of the three books of Leontion, yet we can infer from extant fragments that its sole concern was with erotic themes.59 To that effect it made systematic use of mythical and pseudo-biographical exempla, as much as the Lyde did, which surely provided one of models for a poem on such themes.

29A fragment of Book 1 (fr. 1 Lightfoot/Powell) in all likelihood refers to Polyphemus’ love for Galataea, which was already the theme of a poem by Philoxenus of Cythera. This implies that Book 1 was devoted to mythical examples (heroes and gods); other extant fragments that might, therefore, be assigned to it include fr. 6 Lightfoot = 9 Powell, on the Centaur Eurytion, and frr. 8–9 Lightfoot = 2–3 Powell, on Daphnis. The only fragment safely attributable to Book 2 recounts a love story whose main character is Arceophontes, a man of no noble origin (fr. 2 Lightfoot = 4 Powell). Frr. 4–5 Lightfoot = 5–6 Powell may also have belonged to Book 2; both are preserved by Parthenius in the Erotica Pathemata and both deal with humans’ erotic vicissitudes. Book 2, then, would have focused on the legendary exempla of “ordinary people” or heroes’ descendants. Book 3 contained the long fragment of the katalogos erotikon—a pseudo-biographical account of famous poets’ and intellectuals’ love affairs, which proceeds from the mythical domain to the historical dimension, so as to reach even the poet’s contemporaries, such as Philitas. The thematic arrangement of the Leontion—of the poem as a whole and of its parts—oscillated between myth and history, while also passing through the intermediate level of legend. In effect, it displayed all the subtle shades that distinguish one level from another, which was due to an orderly and systematic disposition of themes. This structure mirrored the rhapsodic arrangement of mythical and legendary themes, the order also adopted by Antimachus in his Lyde.

  • 60 Unlike some scholars, I think that the Leontion’s argumentative structure cannot have been contrive (...)

30Yet there were also differences between the Leontion and the Lyde, and these were of no small importance. From the only substantial fragment of the Leontion that we have, the long fragment of Book 3, it is evident that the predilection towards lament and self-consolation, which Hermesianax pins down as characteristic of the Lyde, was alien to his own elegy, whose tone is sober and coloured by the underlying irony that is closer to the archaic model of Mimnermus than to Antimachus.60

31The two poems differed not only with regard to tone and style, but also the way in which they handled their subject. All extant evidence for Antimachus’ Lyde converges to show that it was shaped as a carmen continuum, in which the frame of the self-consolation for Lyde’s death held together mourning the beloved and a series of mythical examples, which the poet adduced to ease his suffering (thus Ps.‑Plutarch, Mor. 106 b–c [Cons. ad Ap. 9] = Antimachus test. 8 Gentili–Prato = 12 Matthews ἐποίησε τὴν ἐλεγείαν τὴν καλουμένην Λύδην, ἐξαριθμησάμενος τὰς ἡρωικὰς συμφορὰς, τοῖς ἀλλοτρίοις κακοῖς ἐλάττω τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ποιῶν λύπην). As for Hermesianax’ Leontion, at least as far as we can judge from the evidence of the katalogos erotikon from Book 3, two features are distinctive.

  • 61 On the addresses to Cyrnus and their function in the social logic of sympotic poetry see now G. Col (...)
  • 62 We owe this subtle intuition to A. Cameron, op. cit., p. 315, who underscores the presence of this (...)

32The first of these features is the triple appearance, in nearly a hundred lines of the fragment’s expository narrative, of second-person verbs related to the sphere of knowledge (lines 49 and 73 γιγνώσκεις, 75 οἶσθα). The addressee is unnamed but probably can be identified with Leontion herself. In this way Hermesianax adopts a paideutic stylistic feature, which is found as early as in archaic sympotic elegy, as exemplified by the repeated address to the young Cyrnus in the Theognidean corpus.61 The didascalic or paideutic address was a crucial element of the “live” dimension of elegy, which originally facilitated the genre’s adaptability to the human and relational dynamics of the symposium. The adoption of this stylistic expedient as a structural trait (which is paralleled by the dialogue with the Muses in Books 1 and 2 of Callimachus’ Aetia) implies that Hermesianax intended to differentiate his elegy from the monotonous, “rhapsodic” tone of purely impersonal narrative, which Antimachus adopted to maintain the inner consistency of the Lyde in recounting mythical examples, and to recover the original function of elegy as poetry that can teach a lesson.62

  • 63 See now G. D’Alessio, “The Megalai Ehoiai: A Survey of the Fragments,” in R. Hunter (ed.), The Hesi (...)
  • 64 On this vogue in Hellenistic poetry see H. Asquith, “From Genealogy to Catalogue: The Hellenistic A (...)
  • 65 See, again, G. Colesanti, op. cit., pp. 177–218.

33The second notable feature is the recurrent use of the forms of the pronoun οἷος as a transition formula to mark the beginning of an elegiac sequence (lines 1, 57, 85, 89), in imitation of the ἢ οἵη formula in Hesiod’s Catalogue of Women, which gave rise to the alternative titles of Ehoiai or Megalai Ehoiai for the poem, perhaps used of two versions differing in length.63 This remarkable feature of Hermesianax’ poem may have made it the prototype of elegiac poems structured as catalogues, the vogue also attested in the Hellenistic age by Phanocles’ Erotes or Beautiful Boys (fr. 1 Powell begins with the ἤ ὡς formula).64 Owing to the catalogic structure the Leontion was a highly coherent work, yet at the same time its components remained discernible as brief, self-contained compositions, as is confirmed by the katalogos erotikon, which strongly resembled sympotic elegies. A more immediate model seems to have been provided be sympotic catenae, whose short components were paratactically connected with each other, as we at times see in the corpus Theognideum.65 In this respect the Leontion was clearly different from the Lyde, which was more compact and in which no distinctive, self-contained narrative or descriptive components were discernible. These differing ways of arranging and ordering the contents of their works by the two poets from Colophon, despite their having followed the common model of Mimnermus, were probably due to differing ways of performing Mimnermus’ poetry.

Hermesianax as performer of Mimnermus

34In Atheneus’ Book 14 we read that according to Chamaeleon of Heraclea several archaic authors’ poems were performed as songs besides Homer’s poetry, including Mimnermus and Phocylides (Chamaeleon fr. 28 Wehrli = Mimnermus test. 22 Gentili–Prato = Phocylides test. 10 Gentili–Prato ap. Ath. 14.620c):

Χαμαιλέων δὲ ἐν τῷ περὶ Στησιχόρου καὶ μελῳδηθῆναί φησιν οὐ μόνον τὰ Ὁμήρου, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ Ἡσιόδου καὶ Ἀρχιλόχου, ἔτι δὲ Μιμνέρμου καὶ Φωκυλίδου.

  • 66 This piece of evidence is also discussed by L. Lulli, “Epica ed elegia,” art. cit., pp. 93–94, in a (...)

35There are two good reasons to believe that the evidence of this passage is restricted to a period of its source’s lifetime, i.e. the period between the late classical age and the early Hellenistic age, even though the exact biographical details about Chamaeleon are difficult to determine. First, there is no evidence for sung performances of archaic epic poetry (Homer or Hesiod) before the Hellenistic age. Moreover, in Athenaeus the reference to Chamaeleon is accompanied by other historical references, which all relate to the Hellenistic age (Ath. 14.620b–d): the fondness for Homer at the Macedonian court in that period (Cassander of Macedon); the diffusion of the practice of performing Homeric poetry also in convivial contexts and even in musical or dramatic form characteristic of the new sort of rhapsodes known as “Homerists”; the introduction of such performances of epic poetry into the theatres by Demetrius of Phalerum in Athens.66

  • 67 This argument is made by A. Cameron, op. cit., pp. 71–76; according to Cameron, “despite the popula (...)

36Therefore by speaking of the sung performance of the poetry of a group of authors, Chamaeleon intended to emphasize a broader evolutionary process he witnessed. With regard to the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, this process resulted in a new sort of sung performance that had never been practised before, but as for the poetry of the elegiac poets such as Mimnermus and Phocylides, such an evolution led, in fact, to the recovery of what was the original performative practice, which came to be partly abandoned in favour of the rhapsodic recitative performances, or at least the performances in the form of parakataloge. From a broader historical perspective, what Chamaeleon says is in keeping with the appealing hypothesis of the revival of the symposium as an important social institution promoted by the Macedonian rulers and aristocracy between the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the third century BC, after its functions had been in decay since the late classical age. There are good reasons to also believe that sung poetry, besides elegy, played a significant role in this revival.67

  • 68 Hermesianax was a contemporary, or perhaps a slightly younger contemporary, of Philitas of Cos, who (...)

37Hermesianax belongs to the same period which Chamaleon spoke of. Although little is certain about his life—as is the case with Chamaeleon—we can be confident that Hermesianax was a younger contemporary of Chamaleon.68 When discussing Antimachus, we saw that all his activity, as poet and as performer, can be characterized, on the whole, as the aesthetically coherent interplay between performatively reviving the traditional poetic heritage and composing new poetry, epic and elegiac, which followed that tradition. The same characterization can be probably also applied to Hermesianax. He belonged to the generation of at once poets and performers of earlier elegiac poetry, who also began to restore the musical dimension of elegiac performance, i.e. the way of performance mentioned by Chamaleon. This conjecture is in keeping with the terminology Hermesianax employed in the katalogos erotikon to depict the subtle musicality of Mimnermus’ elegies (lines 35–40, quoted above), which were in his lifetime sung with the accompaniment of the aulos—the effect one can repeat and properly appreciate only by recreating that way of performance. The way in which this is contrasted with Antimachus’ Lyde, whose style was harsher as it was composed for non-musical performance (lines 36–46, again, quoted above), suggests that Hermesianax intended to draw a line of distinction between Antimachus and himself, so as to underscore his efforts to revive the musicality of Mimnermus’ poetry, which had been lost in rhapsodic performances, as well as to highlight the performative conception of his own elegies. Hermesianax wanted to bring back the original sympotic dimension of elegy; to restore this crucial feature after a phase of rhapsodic recitative performances, which embodied Antimachus’ notion of elegy. This revival would have resulted not only in Hermesianax’ acquiring the penchant for brief, self-contained compositions—even though these were contained by an overarching, unifying frame—but also in his reverting to the original way of performance, which required that elegies should be sung.

38If this picture is correct, then Hermesianax’ achievement was a sort of aesthetic revival of the original aulodic form of Colophonian elegy, by which he distinguished himself from the “rhapsode” Antimachus. Furthermore, just as Antimachus was consistently rhapsodic both in performing earlier elegies and in shaping his Lyde, so Hermesianax was consistently aulodic in performing Mimnermus’ poetry and in structuring his Leontion. What I wish to suggest is that the Leontion was structurally conceived in such a way as to allow each of its parts, i.e. each of the elegiac segments contained by the catalogic frame, not only to independently function as a short, thematically self-contained sympotic composition, but also to become suitable for sung performance with the accompaniment of the aulos. This was an antiquarian reconstruction of the original form of sympotic elegy, but at the same time an innovative attempt to construct a poetic frame for the elegies of a bookish sort, in a manner fitting an erudite early Hellenistic poet.

Hermesianax, Philitas and the swift and sharp sound of the aulos

  • 69 See L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 49–52.

39There is also an indirect evidence to support this historical picture. Hermesianax was not the only one of his generation to attempt an erudite retrieval of the original performance mode of sympotic elegy. In the same period Philitas of Cos made the same effort, at least with a part of his elegiac production. Hermesianax is φίλος τῷ Φιλιτᾷ καὶ γνώριμος, “a friend and associate of Philitas,” according to the above-mentioned scholion on Nicander’s Theriaca 3, the only source to offer reliable information about the poet’s life. What made the two intellectuals close to each other was not only friendship, but also shared poetic tastes, in particular a shared view on the aesthetics and tradition of elegiac poetry. I believe that Philitas’ literary production, just like Hermesianax’ poetic output, included compositions the intention behind which was to revive the original performance mode of sympotic elegy as a sung form. Such an underlying intention may, I think, have characterized his Paignia, which seem to have been, judging from the few fragments we have, short epigrammatic compositions, which focused on light topics in a way typical of the archaic and classical lyric tradition.69

40The elegiac fr. 15 Lightfoot = 18 Sbardella = 20 Spanoudakis probably comes from the collection to which sources refer as Paignia:

Γηρύσαιτο δὲ νεβρὸς ἀπὸ ζωὴν ὀλέσασα,
      ὀξείης κάκτου τύμμα φυλαξαμένη.

  • 70 Transl. J. L. Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 49.

Let the voice be heard of the fawn that has lost its life,
One that has fled the cactus’ sharp sting.70

  • 71 See L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 146–148 ad fr. 18, and K. Spanoudakis, op. cit., p. 209 ad (...)

41The fragment alludes to the practice of making auloi from fawns’ long bones, in particular shinbones, and the belief that if a fawn was pricked by a thorn of the “cactus” plant its bones became useless. This is clearly a call, which takes the cryptic form of a riddle, for aulos music, as is suggested by the optative. Such a call naturally fits a sympotic setting or a similar context, when it is uttered by a symposiast whose poetic performance is accompanied by the aulos.71

  • 72 As I suggested in L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 54–56.
  • 73 See J. Latacz, “Das Plappermäulchen aus dem Katalog,” in C. Schäublin (ed.), Catalepton. Festschrif (...)

42It is remarkable, moreover, that Hermasianax uses the participle μολπάζοντα to characterize Philitas’ poetic activity in the passage of the katalogos erotikon devoted to this poet (Hermesianax fr. 3.75–78 Lightfoot = 7.75–78 Powell = Philitas test. 4 Lightfoot = 16 Sbardella = 2 Spanoudakis; see below for the citation). I am now inclined to believe that the meaning is not generic and figurative, “celebrating,”72 but literal, “singing.” The participle is dependent on the verb οἶσθα (line 75) as the predicate;73 what it exactly denotes is the action of celebrating the poet’s mistress (Bittis) in a sung poetic performance.

43From these two pieces of evidence, one internal, the other external to Philitas’ poetry, we can with some confidence infer that the Coan poet’s Paignia included short sympotic compositions that were originally intended to be sung with the accompaniment of the aulos. If this is correct, if Philitas and Hermesianax did indeed share this aesthetic penchant for the revival of the aulodic performance of short sympotic elegies, then we can cast further light on the general sense of the passage of Hermesianax’ katalogos erotikon on the Coan poet (lines 75–78):

Οἶσθα δὲ καὶ τὸν ἀοιδόν, ὃν Εὐρυπύλου πολιῆται
      Κῷοι χάλκειον στῆσαν ὑπὸ πλατάνῳ,
Βίττιδα μολπάζοντα θοὴν, περὶ παντα Φιλίταν
      ῥήματα καὶ πᾶσαν τρυόμενον λαλιήν.

  • 74 Transl. J. L. Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 171, adapted.

And you know that even the bard set up in bronze
By Eurypylus’ folk in Cos, beneath a plane,
Sings of the swift Bittis: Philitas, well-worn
In every utterance and all the forms of speech.74

  • 75 See L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 54–60, and K. Spanoudakis, op. cit., pp. 30–37.
  • 76 For an overview of the linguistic problems in this passage and the solutions put forward by scholar (...)
  • 77 Cf. Poll. 4.72 αὐλητοῦ ταχυχειρία, Philostr. V. A. 5.21 (on auletic music) καὶ . . . τὸ ταχέως μετα (...)

44It would be far beyond the scope of the present discussion to once again set out the status quaestionis on the problems of this passage, which has been so heavily debated by scholars.75 Therefore I will limit myself only to making several direct remarks. I choose to discuss the unobvious adjective θοή, which has been interpreted in many different ways.76 I argue that Hermesianax alludes here to a tradition that goes back to Mimnermus: sympotic compositions on erotic passion were addressed to the auletris whose play accompanied the poetic performance. This tradition was pursued not only by Hermesianax in his poem for Leontion (cf. the above-discussed Ath. 13.597a παρέλιπον δὲ καὶ τὴν Μιμνέρμου αὐλετρίδα Ναννὼ καὶ τὴν Ἑρμεσιανάκτου τοῦ Κολοφωνίου Λεόντιον), but also by Philitas in his songs for Bittis. At the same time, a number of testimonies on the technique of aulos playing emphasize the performer’s swiftness: a skilled aulos player had to be able to swiftly move his or her hands and fingers when playing complex melodic lines on a single‑ or double-reed instrument.77 In effect, by using the adjective θοή of Bittis Hermesianax seems to refer to her role as the auletris whose play accompanied short sung elegiac poems; Philitas probably devoted to her some of such poems, as Mimnermus did for Nanno, in which he praised her agility in playing the aulos.

  • 78 See LSJ Suppl. s.v. A II for θοός interpreted as “sharp” by Hellenistic poets.
  • 79 On the virtuoso aulos technique of employing overblowing for high-pitched solos, see M. L. West, An (...)

45One might object that there are more apt words than θοός in Greek to express the idea of swiftness and agility in playing a musical instrument, especially in reference to a woman. First, however, adjectives relating to the semantic sphere of the swiftness and nimbleness of movement are also attested in other passages on the technique of aulos playing. In Pindar, Pyth. 12.20, the Gorgon Euryale’s jaws, whose wail Athena imitated with the sound of the aulos, are καρπάλιμαι, “swift,” and Philostratus in V. A. 5.21 explicitly describes how important it is for the aulos player to be εὔχειρ, i.e. swift and nimble in fingering (cf. Lucian. Harm. 1 ὑποβάλλειν τοὺς δακτύλους εὐαφῶς). Second, the adjective θοός tantalizingly includes in its semantic sphere, in addition to “swiftness,” another notion that has noticeable ties with the auletic technique, namely “sharpness.” The gloss in Hesychius reflects precisely this double sense (θ639 Latte) θοόν· ὀξύ . . . ταχινόν. Note that the Etymologicum Gudianum glosses the feminine form: θοή· ἡ ὁξεῖα καὶ ταχεῖα (cf. also Etym. Magn. s.v. θοή: εὑρίσκεται θοὸν τὸ ταχὺ ἢ ὀξύ).78 As a matter of fact, Hermesianax himself uses the verb θοόω in specific reference to the sphere of sound in the katalogos erotikon (fr. 3.11 Lightfoot = 7.11 Powell), in a passage where the infernal hound Cerberus’ voice is “sharpened by fire,” ἐν πυρὶ φωνὴν τεθοωμένος. The ability to produce high-pitched notes is in our sources for the aulos technique one of the hallmarks of a skilled performer.79

  • 80 Y et E. Dettori, op. cit., pp. 13–14, attempts to defend the paradosis.
  • 81 Λαλιή means here “erotic talk,” as it is coloured by the love for the auletris Bittis, rather than (...)
  • 82 The verb ῥώομαιομα is typically constructed with περί or ἀμφί and an accusative, usually in a liter (...)

46As a result, when Bittis is characterized as θοή it is suggestive of a double meaning in connection with her being a musical performer: she is at once swift and sharp in her play, i.e. capable of nimble fingering and producing high-pitched notes. This interpretation further suggests that the participial phrase through which Philitas is characterized, which complements the image of his “singing Bittis,” might also be understood as referring to his performing poetry with the accompaniment of Bittis’ aulos. Such an interpretive path opens up if the paradosis ῥυόμενον, which is at any rate difficult to defend,80 is emended not to τρυόμενον, with Gottfried Hermann, as the text is normally printed, but to ῥωόμενον, which is an equally economical solution. Consequently, the ending of the passage on Philitas would mean, “Philitas, who [to catch up with Bittis’ and her aulos’s swift rhythm] rushes every word and all speech,”81 i.e. puts all his poetic skill into matching the lively melody.82

47Words trying to catch up with the musical virtuosity of aulodic performance; Philitas mimicking the “swift” Bittis in performing sung poetry, in a typically and traditionally sympotic fashion—in general outline, this may have been the meaning of another passage in a poem by Philitas, where fr. 17 Lighftoot = 19 Sbardella = 27 Spanoudakis belonged. This was arguably a part of a mythological simile, which consisted of the image of Atalanta’s footrace with Hippomenes. I suggest that in one of his paignia Philitas likened his struggle to keep up with his auletris’ play in his song to the exertion of the hero who raced against swift Atalanta and beat her only with the help of Aphrodite by using the golden apples she provided for distraction.

Conclusion: Mimnermus’ heirs

48To sum up, it is my view that in the early Hellenistic age Hermesianax, both as performer of archaic elegiac poetry, in particular the poetry of Mimnermus, and as elegiac author, was one of the foremost exponents of a trend of erudite poetry, whose practitioners attempted to revive the sympotic elegy as it was originally performed, namely as poetry sung with the accompaniment of the aulos. Between the end of the archaic period and the classical age, the aulodic mode of performing elegy was gradually marginalized by the rhapsodic mode. This happened for several reasons, but in particular because there had already existed an alternative mode of performing elegy, as chanting recitative with musical accompaniment (parakataloge), and because even when it was sung, elegy probably at an early stage came to assimilate the rhapsodic practice of performing poems in an ordered sequence. In Colophon the trend of including elegy in rhapsodic performances, in a way similar if not identical to performing epic, induced Antimachus to also arrange Mimnermus’ sympotic compositions in sequences that were suitable for this sort of performance. This was the context in which Antimachus conceived the first elegiac poem with erotic content in the history of Greek poetry—the Lyde.

49Hermesianax found in Antimachus’ “rhapsodic” turn inspiration for the macrostructure of his Leontion. This enabled him to adapt his elegies to book form, an increasingly widespread medium in his time, the process in which the model was provided by “Hesiodic” catalogue poetry. Yet the category of performance is also relevant, as on the level of the constituent segments of his poem he intended to restore the old musical dimension of Mimnermus’ short sympotic compositions, in a period, the early Hellenistic age, when one sees a broad trend towards reestablishing the connection between poetry and music, or establishing it in the first place. Hermesianax was not alone in his attempts at the aesthetic revival of the old aulodic mode of elegiac performance, as he shared this taste with Philitas of Cos, and perhaps with other erudite Alexandrian poets too. A part of Philitas’ elegiac production—in particular, I think, the Paignia—was composed for singing to the accompaniment of the auletris Bittis. This is the reason why Hermesianax singled him out as the only contemporary poet to receive mention in his katalogos erotikon: they both were descendants of Mimnermus and as such they brought back the ancient and noble musical dimension of elegy.

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Notes

1 “Er [sc. Hermesianax] bietet ein interessantes Monument von poetologischer Reflexion, insbesondere unter gattungsspezifischem Gesichtspunkt: Denn Hermesianax versammelt in diesem Katalog die maßgebenden Vorläufer der elegischen Gattung [i.e., Mimnermos, Antimachos, Philitas]”—so, most recently T. Gärtner, “Der Erotikerkatalog in der Elegie ‘Leontion’ des Hermesianax von Kolophon: Überlegungen zu Aufbau und Überlieferung,” ZPE 180, 2012, pp. 77–103, at p. 77, to whom I also refer for a general overview of the scholarship on the long fragment of Hermesianax—starting as early as with nineteenth-century scholarship.

2 Transl. J. L. Lightfoot, Hellenistic Collection: Philitas, Alexander of Aetolia, Hermesianax, Parthenius, Cambridge (MA), HUP, The Loeb Classical Library, 2009, p. 167.

3 Similarly R. Hunter, “Sweet Nothings: Callimachus Fr. 1, 9–12 Revisited,” in G. Bastianini and A. Casanova (eds.), Callimaco. Cent’anni di papiri. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi (Firenze, 9–10 giugno 2005), Florence 2006, Istituto Papirologico G. Vitelli, pp. 119–129, at 122, who notes that the terms used by Hermesianax to praise Mimnermus’ elegiac poetry seem to fit well the sound of the aulos, so that the acoustic dimension of such poetic “sweetness” is alluded to.

4 For a detailed survey of the concept of “sweetness” in elegiac poetry, from Mimnermus to Callimachus, see R. Hunter, art. cit.

5 In this regard B. Gentili, Poesia e pubblico nella Grecia antica. Da Omero al V secolo, 2nd ed., Rome, Laterza, 1995, p. 47 n. 31, effectively argues in the discussion of the evidence for the sung performance of elegy in the archaic period, apropos of Hermesianax fr. 7.37 ff. Powell: “l’espressione πολιῷ δʼ ἐπὶ πολλάκι λοτῷ κημωθείς di Ermesianatte lascia supporre che non sempre egli [sc. Mimnermo] si sia limitato a suonare l’aulo, ma abbia alternato all’esercizio dell’auleta quello dell’aulodo, cioè avrebbe cantato egli stesso le sue elegie; in questo secondo caso è presumibile che l’abbia accompagnato nel canto una delle flautiste del suo seguito.”

6 T. Gärtner, art. cit., p. 81.

7 It is striking that the myth of Orpheus and his poetry was treated also in Phanocles’ elegy (fr. 1 Powell), which was contemporary to and structurally resemblant of Hermesianax’ elegy (see further below). One can suppose that in early Hellenistic elegiac production there was a tendency to emphasize the original musical dimension of poetry, which was represented by Orpheus and his myth, so as to establish a connection with that dimension. In Phanocles’ fragment we can find, as a matter of fact, a number of phrases that emphasize the musical sonority of poetry, such as λιγυρός, μολπή and κιθαριστύς at lines 16–22. The relationship between the concept of “sweetness” and sung erotic poetry is also implied by Critias fr. 8.1–4 Gentili–Prato, where the sympotic poet Anacreon is characterized at once as γυναικῶν ἠπερόπευμα, φιλοβάρβιτος and ἡδύς.

8 G. Serrao, “La struttura della Lide di Antimaco e la critica callimachea,” QUCC N.S. 3 (32), 1979, pp. 91–98, at pp. 95–96, followed by V. J. Matthews (ed.), Antimachus of Colophon: Text and Commentary, Leiden, Brill, Mnemosyne. Suppl. 155, 1996, p. 30, notes that the characterization of the Lyde, i.e. Antimachus’ elegiac poetry, as γράμμα . . . οὐ τορόν, “non-penetrating,” in Callimachus’ fragmentary Ep. 398 Pfeiffer, which Antip. Sid., Anth. Pal. 7.409.3–4 (= Antim. test. 19 Matthews) εἰ τορὸν οὖας ἔλλαχες, on Antimachus’ poetry, is a deliberate echo of, seems to pertain to the acoustic sphere: Antimachus’ poetry failed to penetrate memory through the ear’s appreciation. In addition, according to Callimachus Antimachus’ elegy was, in terms of the acoustic effect, the opposite of Mimnermus’ “pleasing” elegy. Moreover, two verbs used by Asclepiades of Samos in the passage that describes a common appreciation for Antimachus’ Lyde, ἀείδω, “to sing,” which alludes to epic performances, i.e. performing without musical accompaniment, and ἀναλέγομαι, “to read” (Ep. 32 Sens = Anth. Pal. 9.63.3 = Antim. test. 13 Matthews τίς γὰρ ἔμʼ οὐκ ἤεισε; τίς οὐκ ἀνελέξατο Λύδην;), seem to imply that one needed no music to appreciate this poem.

9 Mimnermus and Antimachus also appear as the two canonic Colophonian elegists in Posidippus Ep. 140 Austin–Bastianini (= Anth. Pal. 12.168).

10 For the sung performance of elegy, in particular the sympotic elegy, see, in the last decades, M. L. West, Studies in Greek Elegy and Iambus, Berlin, De Gruyter, Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte 14, 1974, pp. 10–13; B. Gentili, op. cit., pp. 46–48; E. L. Bowie, “Early Greek Elegy, Symposium and Public Festival,” JHS 106, 1986, pp. 13–35, at p. 14; K. Bartol, Greek Elegy and Iambus: Studies in Ancient Literary Sources, Poznań, UAM, Seria filologia klasyczna 16, 1993, pp. 46–51, A. Aloni and A. Iannucci, L’elegia greca e l’epigramma dalle origini al V secolo, Florence, Mondadori Education, Lingue e letterature, 2007, pp. 101–107; C. Faraone, The Stanzaic Architecture of Early Greek Elegy, Oxford, OUP, 2008; A. Aloni, “Elegy,” in F. Budelmann (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Lyric, Cambridge, CUP, 2009, pp. 168–188; G. Nagy, “Ancient Greek Elegy,” in K. Weisman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy, Oxford, OUP, 2010, pp. 13–45, who, however, all may be seen to continue an earlier approach. As a matter of fact, this view was challenged as early as in the 1960s by D. A. Campbell, “Flutes and Elegiac Couplets,” JHS 84, 1964, pp. 63–68, and T. G. Rosenmeyer, “Elegiac and Elegos,” CSCA 1, 1968, pp. 217–231, even if they did not go as far as to deny that singing may have been among the modes of elegiac performance, but only called into question the view that this way of performing elegy was the sole one. For a balanced discussion, see J. Herington, Poetry into Drama: Early Tragedy and the Greek Poetic Tradition, Berkeley, UC Press, Sather Classical Lectures 49, 1985, pp. 31–40 and 192–193. A new approach has recently been proposed by F. Budelmann and T. Power, “The Inbetweenness of Sympotic Elegy,” JHS 133, 2013, pp. 1–19, who make methodological progress by pointing out the issue of too narrow interpretative frameworks: (a) the fact that there existed sung elegy does not imply that all elegiac poetry composed for symposia as well as for public contests was sung; (b) the elegy was by nature an intermediate genre between melic poetry and recitative poetry, and as such it was adaptable to different modes of performance; (c) these modes may have varied depending on a chronological context and on an occasion of performance, so that it is necessary to view the problem in terms of historical evolution and with attention to various performative contexts; (d) in the genre’s evolution a peculiar variant, which needs to be appreciated as such, is the elegiac lament in fifth-century Attic tragedy (the issue which will not be discussed here). Despite some points of disagreement, which I will indicate in the following notes, the present discussion largely adopts this approach.

11 F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., pp. 1–9, attempt to reduce the objective significance of this and other internal evidence, which the archaic lyric tradition provides, by arguing that we are dealing with “generic rhetoric”: “its [sc. sympotic elegy’s] internal language of performance leaves its performative status open to variability in accordance with the occasion, allowing for both sung and recited delivery, commiting to neither” (p. 2). This seems to me a rather abstract way of interpreting literary texts. If we agree that there were sung performances of sympotic elegies in the archaic age, as the two scholars admit, there remains no reason to question the objective importance of available evidence as a whole. It is true, however, that the extant testimonies are only part of a much more complex picture.

12 On the pseudo-Plutarchean De Musica and its sources see now A. Barker, Ancient Greek Writers on their Musical Past: Studies in Greek Musical Historiography, Pisa, Serra, Syncrisis, 2014, pp. 15–27.

13 Cf. also Paus. 10.7.5–6, who, when recounting the origins of the Pythian musical agon in the archaic age (586 BC), says that ἡ . . . αὐλῳδία μέλη τε ἦν τῶν αὐλῶν τὰ σκυθρωπότατα καὶ ἐλεγεῖα προσᾳδόμενα τοῖς αὐλοῖς, and to confirm this statement he quotes the dedicatory epigram on a tripod dedicated to Heracles by the Arcadian aulode Echembrotus after his victory in a musical agon: line 3 Ἕλλησι δʼ ἀείδων μέλεα καὶ ἐλέγους. However, in this case the term ἔλεγος denotes simply an elegy sung with the accompaniment of the aulos, and not necessarily the song of a lamentatory sort, in accordance with the meaning that the term acquired only later, since the classical period (see E. L. Bowie, art. cit., pp. 23–24, and F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., pp. 12–13, whereas A. Aloni, art. cit., and G. Nagy, art. cit., are inclined to think that the word originally denoted a sort of sung elegy with lamentatory tones, the meaning which would have survived in Attic tragedy).

14 A trace of this inscribed source for the Panathenaic musical agon is also preserved in IG II2 2311, fr. A, col. 1 (fourth century BC), which in addition attests the participation of the aulodes in the contest (see now A. Rotstein, “Mousikoi Agones and the Conceptualization of Genre in Ancient Greece,” CA 31, 2012, pp. 92–127, at pp. 101–106).

15 See on this D. A. Campbell, art. cit.

16 For a general theoretic model of the elegy as an intermediate genre with regard to its perfomance, i.e. a genre allowing different ways of performance, see F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., pp. 9–12.

17 For the syntactic and semantic coherence of the elegiac couplet, including the use of formulaic expressions, see, in particular, H. R. Barnes, “The Structure of the Elegiac Hexameter: A Comparison of the Structure of Elegiac and Stichic Hexameter Verse,” in M. Fantuzzi and R. Pretagostini (eds.), Struttura e storia dell’esametro greco, I, Rome, Gruppo Editoriale Internazionale, Studi di metrica classica 10, 1995, pp. 135–161, and R. S. Garner, Traditional Elegy: The Interplay of Meter, Tradition and Context in Early Greek Poetry, Oxford, OUP, American Classical Studies 56, 2011. C. Faraone, op. cit.—whose approach, however, is controversial—goes as far as to argue that the archaic elegy was composed in stanzas, which consisted of a number of couplets, so that elegy would have resembled the strophic structure of melic poetry with regard to both syntax and rhythm.

18 On the “lyric hexameter,” with particular attention to tragedy, see R. Pretagostini, “L’esametro nel dramma attico del   secolo: problemi di ‘resa’ e di ‘riconoscimento,’” in M. Fantuzzi and R. Pretagostini (eds.), op. cit., pp. 163–191.

19 D. Korzeniewski, Griechische Metrik, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Die Altertumswissenschaft, 1968, pp. 43–47, following Werner Peek, defines the elegiac couplet as a “closed” metrical/rhythmic form, in opposition to the “open” form of the stichic hexameter, and therefore as a form that is essentially in keeping with the cyclical nature of song, but it is structured around a long verse, and as such suitable for narration and recitative performance. On the elegy’s metrical and rhythmical adaptability see now also R. Hunter, “Greek Elegy,” in T. S. Thorsen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Latin Love Elegy, Cambridge, CUP, 2013, pp. 23–28, at p. 23, and F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit. (p. 12: “in terms of metrical elaborateness the elegiac couplet was perceived as intermediate between hexameters and trimeters, on the one hand, and lyric metres, on the other”). G. Nagy, art. cit., p. 16, also highlights the rhythmic symmetry which the elegiac pentameter, which is necessarily divided into two hemiepe “at the main word-break,” lends to the whole structure of the couplet, a symmetry also suitable for song.

20 On the parakataloge cf. [Plut.] Mor. 1141a (De mus. 28), where it seems to be a sort of simple sung performance (a reduced degree of sung execution), and [Arist.] Pr. 19.6, where it is the opposite of sung performance: probably a chanting recitative with the accompaniment of the aulos or another instrument.

21 Such evidence is left out, although it deserves attention, by F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., who are too much oriented towards the theoretical position they adopt: the notion that the “typical” way of performing the elegy was intermediate between sung and recitative performance, and that a performance that was either straightforwardly sung or recitative was only a “deviation.” Yet perhaps the picture of historical development was more complex from the beginning, and it became even more complex with time: singing and other modes of performance coexisted, but the former tended to gradually disappear. The evidence offered by Pseudo-Plutarch’s De Musica, even if resulting in a too simplified picture, seems to point to such an evolution.

22 According to K. J. Dover, “The Poetry of Archilochus,” in Archiloque, Geneva, Fondation Hardt, Entretiens Hardt 10, 1964, pp. 181–212, at p. 189, even classifying Archilochus’ poems into genres based on metre, would have been pointless in view of the poet’s aesthetic sensibility, which was typical of preliterate cultures: his poetry was all iambic without distinction, with variations in metrical and rhythmic form depending on the performative context.

23 See also F. Budelmann and T. Power, art. cit., pp. 11–12.

24 See A. Rotstein, The Idea of Iambos, Oxford, OUP, 2010, pp. 152–166 and 254–278 on the possibility that iambic poetry was performed on other festive occasions besides symposia.

25 This is also highlighted by T. Gärtner, art. cit., p. 82, even if the text, especially ἤχθεε (ἠδἠχθεε in the ms.), and the exact meaning of these two lines are uncertain (see A. Allen (ed.), The Fragments of Mimnermus: Text and Commentary, Stuttgart, Steiner, Palingenesia 44, 1993, pp. 18–19). There are, however, faint traces to suggest Mimnermus’ connection with iambic poetry (again Allen, pp. 26–29).

26 In this diachronic perspective we can also explain a passage of Aristotle where he asserts that masses view epic and elegiac poets as sharing a common ground, as if elegy had more in common with recitative genres than with lyric (Poet. 1447b13–14): Aristotle refers to the historical context of the classical age, and not to a notion of elegiac poetry fossilized since its origins, as is assumed by T. G. Rosenmeyer, art. cit., pp. 217–218.

27 In Plato’s Timaeus (21b) there is a mention of performing Solon’s poems in rhapsodic contests—even if these are children’s contests.

28 According to more recent scholarship, as in particular A. Rotstein, The Idea of Iambos, op. cit., and id., “Mousikoi Agones and the Conceptualization of Genre in Ancient Greece,” art. cit., and L. Lulli, “Epica ed elegia. Incontri di due generi letterari nei luoghi della performance,” in L. Bettarini (ed.), A più mani. Linee di ricerca tracciate in “Sapienza,” Pisa, Serra, Biblioteca di quaderni urbinati di cultura classica 11, 2015, pp. 89–102, the poetic-musical agons increasingly encouraged contacts between different poetic genres, such as epic, elegy, iambic, kitharodia, and also, I think, the crossing of their various modes of performance.

29 We may suspect that the ktisis of Ion of Chios, which is attested by a sole testimony (test. 2b Gentili–Prato = 3 Leurini), most likely reffered to the homeland Chios and may have been an elegiac poem (on the problem see recently L. Lulli, Narrare in distici: L’elegia greca arcaica e classica di argomento storico-mitico, Rome, Quasar, Quaderni dei seminari romani di cultura greca 13, 2011, pp. 47–50), i.e. an extended work with narrative content, for which a rhapsodic recitative performance, either parakataloge or as a pure recitative, would have been particularly suitable. However, in the highly fragmentary Callim. Ia. 13.45–47 (fr. 203 Pfeiffer) Ion’s elegiac poetry is said to have been performed with the accompaniment of the (Lydian?) aulos: perhaps this was a sung performance, which would have been more suitable to compositions such as fr. 1 Gentili–Prato = 89 Leurini, which seems to have been a hymnic poem addressed to Dionysus, composed for a sympotic occasion or for a public festival (in line 3 αἱ Πανελλήνων ἀγοραί and θαλίαι Πανελλrivolto a Dioniso per un’menti come il fr. 1 Gentili–Prato ἀνάκτων are mentioned). Therefore it is possible that elegy, even different poems of the same author, was still performed in various modes in the fifth century BC.

30 See L. Lulli, Narrare in distici, op. cit.

31 See R. S. Garner, op. cit.

32 Transl. S. D. Olson, Athenaeus. The Learned Banqueters, VII, Cambridge (MA), HUP, The Loeb Classical Library, 2011, p. 191.

33 See L. Lulli, “Epica ed elegia,” art. cit., pp. 96–97.

34 See L. Lulli, “Epica ed elegia,” art. cit., pp. 89–90.

35 On the sympotic catenae in the corpus Theognideum see G. Colesanti, Questioni teognidee: La genesi simposiale di un corpus di elegie, Rome, Ed. di storia e letteratura, Pleiadi 12, 2011, pp. 11–13 and 177–218, with bibliography and an overview of scholarship, with particular reference to the work of Massimo Vetta.

36 On the narrative elegy and the probable occasions of its performance see the seminal discussions of E. L. Bowie, art. cit. and “Historical Narrative in Archaic and Early Classical Greek Elegy,” in D. Konstan and K. A. Raaflaub (eds.), Epic and History, Chichester, Blackwell, The Ancient World, 2010, pp. 145–166, and now also the monograph of L. Lulli, Narrare in distici, op. cit.

37 See M. L. West, op. cit., pp. 75–76.

38 On the structure of the Smyrneis and the peculiar nature of this narrative elegy see recently A. Allen, op. cit., pp. 23–26, and L. Lulli, Narrare in distici, op. cit., pp. 30–39.

39 On Mimnermus’ uncertain chronology and the much-debated problem of his hometown (Colophon vs. Smyrna) see A. Allen, op. cit., pp. 9–14.

40 G. Pasquali, “Mimnermo,” in id., Pagine stravaganti di un filologo. I, Pagine stravaganti vecchie e nuove. Pagine meno stravaganti, ed. C. F. Russo, Florence, Le Lettere, Bibliotheca 24, 1994, pp. 318–326.

41 See on this topic the papers collected in T. J. Figueira and G. Nagy (eds.), Theognis of Megara: Poetry and the Polis, Baltimore, JHUP, 1985.

42 S. Mazzarino, Il pensiero storico classico, I, Bari, Laterza, 1966, p. 40, highlights the emphatically epic style of the only extant elegiac couplet of the Smyrneis: fr. 21 Gentili–Prato ὣς οἱ πὰρ βασιλῆος, ἐπε[ί ῥʼ] ἐ[ν]εδέξατο μῦθο̣[ν] | ἤ[ϊξ]α̣ν̣ κοίλῃ[ς ἀ]σπίσι φραξάμενοι.

43 M. L. West, op. cit., pp. 75–76.

44 Thus C. W. Müller, “Die antike Buchausgabe des Mimnermos,” RhM 131, 1988, pp. 197–211, at pp. 202–207, and A. Allen, op. cit., pp. 17–18, 20–23.

45 The fragment recounts the arrival of the settlers from Peloponnesian Pylus who founded Ionian Colophon; Strabo asserts that the fragment dealt with a contest over the possession of Smyrna. For a profound discussion of the fragment, see C. Brillante, Pilo e i Neleidi in un frammento di Mimnermo, in R. Pretagostini (ed.), Tradizione e innovazione nella cultura greca da Omero all’età ellenistica. Scritti in onore di Bruno Gentili, I, Rome, Gruppo Editoriale Internazionale, 1993, pp. 267–278, according to whom “l’occasione prossima doveva essere offerta dalle lotte tra Lidii e Greci di Colofone per il controllo di Smirne.”

46 Whether the author of this scholarly essay and the poet of the Theriaca are the same Nicander, as the scholiast seems to think, is a much-debated problem, which is connected with the problem of the possible existence of two Nicanders, both from Colophon and probably linked by kinship, between the third and second centuries BC (see A. Cameron, Callimachus and his Critics, Princeton, PUP, 1995, pp. 202–206). However, this problem is not relevant to the present discussion.

47 L. Sbardella, “Dai canti simposiali alla ‘grande donna’: Mimnermo e i suoi epigoni nel prologo dei Telchini di Callimaco,” RFIC 145, 2017, pp. 47–74.

48 On the rich rhapsodic activity, well attested by sources, between the fifth and the fourth centuries BC, and in the early Hellenistic period, with a special focus on Colophon, see L. Sbardella, “Χῖος ἀοιδός: l’Omero di Teocrito,” in R. Pretagostini and E. Dettori (eds.), La cultura ellenistica: L’opera letteraria e l’esegesi antica. Atti del convegno COFIN 2001 (Università di Roma, “Tor Vergata,” Roma 22–24 settembre 2003), Rome, Quasar, Quaderni dei seminari romani di cultura greca 8, 2004, pp. 81–94, at pp. 84–86.

49 It would be difficult to think that this was not the case if we accepted the evidence of the ancient testimony according to which the poem was organized in twenty-four books, as the Homeric poems (test. 21 Gentili–Prato = 26b Matthews); moreover, the same testimony explicitly labels Antimachus a “cyclic poet,” and of course this must be taken, not to mean “one of the poets of the Epic Cycle,” but to acknowledge his adherence to the rhapsodic tradition.

50 See M. Lombardi, Antimaco di Colofone. La poesia epica, Rome, Gruppo Editoriale Internazionale, Filologia e critica 70, 1993, and V. J. Matthews, op. cit., pp. 20–26, on the Thebaid’s dependence on the cyclic poems, especially as far as the mythical subject-matter is concerned, on the massive reuse of the Homeric formulae and on the use of the lexical elements of traditional epic diction, though with some tendency towards originality.

51 R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginning to the End of Hellenistic Age, Oxford, OUP, 1968, p. 94, spoke about the adherence of the bios to the archaic Ionian tradition, as it would have been “a sort of introduction to the text [sc. of Homer],” but on the complex function of the bios within the rhapsodic tradition see now L. Sbardella, Cucitori di canti. Studi sulla tradizione epico-rapsodica greca e i suoi itinerari nel VI secolo a. C., Rome, Quasar, 2012, esp. pp. 85–99.

52 Somewhat similar was, in the archaic age, the practice of Xenophanes of Colophon (test. 77 Gentili–Prato ap. Diog. Laert. 9.18 ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐρραψώδει τὰ ἑαυτοῦ) and, much later, in the Hellenistic age, of another Colophonian, namely Nicander, the poet of the Theriaca. As suggested by I. Cazzaniga, “L’Inno di Nicandro ad Attalo I,” PP 27, 1972, pp. 369–396, at pp. 391–393, the fact that Nicander, who spoke of himself as Ὁμήρειος (Ther. 957–958), emphasized his belonging to a local group of Homerid rhapsodes implies that the performance of traditional epic, especially Homeric, and the composition of his own, new epic poems coexisted as two spheres of his poetic activity.

53 On the structure of the Lyde as a carmen continuum see, in particular, G. Serrao, art. cit.

54 It is possible that Antimachus contributed to the currency of the label “pentameter,” i.e. literarily “five-measure,” for the second verse of the epodic elegiac strophe. This label is first attested in the passage of Hermesianax under discussion (fr. 3.36 Lightfoot = 7.36 Powell). The implied description of this verse as structured kata metron (i.e., consisting of five dactylic metra), analogously to the hexameter, is by no means fitting for what is in fact a combination of two hemiepe, or metrical sequences that are clearly structured ou kata metron. The use of this label probably became widespread when elegy was mostly performed as pure recitative, during the fifth century BC, when the original connection of the hemiepes with song had been lost and the elegiac metre was perceived as spoken. This process is perhaps implied by the fifth-century metrical experiments with the form of elegy, such as those of Dionysius Chalcus, who inverted the order of hexameter and pentameter in his compositions (fr. 1 Gentili–Prato, cf. test. 2), and Critias, who substituted the second verse of the epodic strophe—the ἐλεγεῖον, as he referred to it (fr. 2 Gentili–Prato)—with iambic trimeter. These examples strongly suggest that the structure of a short epodic strophe was no longer supported by a musical frame in performance and it was necessary to invent a name for what was now perceived as the second rhythmic unit of the couplet, a self-contained whole in the sequence consisting of two autonomous verses. Therefore Antimachus, whose lifetime coincided with the time of this change (late fifth – early fourth century BC), may have been among the first poets to have used the label “pentamenter,” and this is where Hermesianax may have found this term.

55 See L. Sbardella, Cucitori di canti, op. cit., pp. 85–99.

56 This description would be equally applicable to all representatives of the archaic Colophonian aristocratic tradition of composing elegiac poetry for the symposium and other occasions, as if Mimnermus had served as a spokesman of the anonymous members of this group. Similar is the ambiguity of the phrase Χῖος ἀνήρ in the so-called sphragis in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (lines 165–178), which may be taken to refer at once to Homer and to the anonymous Homerid rhapsodes, who pursued the tradition he was thought to have originated (see L. Sbardella, “Χῖος ἀοιδός,” art. cit., pp. 81–84, and id., Cucitori di canti, op. cit., pp. 85–99).

57 Note the parallelism between the phrase πολλὸν ἀνατλάς used of Mimnermus (Hermesianax fr. 3.35 Lightfoot = 7.35 Powell) and the epithet ταλαπείριος used of the Χῖος ἀνήρ (i.e., Homer, as the forefather of the Homerid rhapsodes) in Hymn. Hom. Ap. 165–178, the passage that was probably a self-referential rhapsodic interpolation (see L. Sbardella, “Tra Delo e Delfi. Varianti rapsodiche nell’Inno omerico ad Apollo,” SemRom 2, 1999, pp. 157–176, and id., Cucitori di canti, op. cit., pp. 85–99; F. Condello, “In dialogo con le Deliadi. Testo e struttura tematica in H. Hom. Ap. 165–176,” Eikasmos 18, 2007, pp. 33–57), as is suggested by the characteristic connection with the pseudo-biographical tradition on Homer (again, see L. Sbardella, Cucitori di canti, op. cit., pp. 85–99). Similar is the phrase πολλὰ μογήσας in Philitas fr. 8.3 Lightfoot = 12.3 Sbardella = 25.3 Spanoudakis, but the reference to the “many sufferings” in Hermesianax is different in that it is used in a specific and concrete sense: this expression, which in Homeric poetry is always used of the real sufferings of the heroes – life’s burdens, or the sufferings of war or the nostos (on Odysseus, see L. Sbardella (ed.), Filita. Testimonianze e frammenti poetici, Rome, Quasar, Quaderni dei seminari romani di cultura greca 3, 2000, p. 135, and G. Cerri, “L’ontano di Filita. Soluzione di un enigma e ricostruzione di un percorso critico,” QUCC N.S. 80, 2005, pp. 133–139)—is employed by Hermesianax in order to evoke, in the passage focusing on Mimnermus, the traumatic war experiences to which the entire community is exposed, as recounted by the poet in his Smyrneis. I do not think that πολλὸν ἀνατλάς alludes to the sphere of erotic suffering, as suggested by T. Gärtner, art. cit., p. 81 n. 18, since in the logical structure of the passage on Mimnermus’ poetry (Hermesianax fr. 3. 35–40 Lightfoot = 7.35–40 Powell), the dimension of sympotic Eros, which carries the positive connotations of the happiness of the komoi and includes “the burning for Nanno,” is subsequent to the dimension of suffering.

58 From this perspective, Callimachus’ condemnation of Antimachus’ Lyde (Callim. fr. 398 Pfeiffer Λύδη καὶ παχὺ γράμμα καὶ οὐ τορόν) was only a particular manifestation of his broader aesthetic contempt for the poetry composed for rhapsodic performances: see Callim. Ep. 28 Pfeiffer ἐχθαίρω τὸ ποίημα τὸ κυκλικόν . . ., where κυκλικόν is used, in my opinion, of all poems of rhapsodic character, not only those of the archaic Epic Cycle, as the ancient characterization of Antimachus as a “cyclic poet” was intended to mean that he belonged to the rhapsodic tradition (see n. 49 above).

59 We are told by Athenaeus (13.597a = Hermesianax test. 3 Light.) that “because of his love to Leontion he wrote three books of elegiac poetry” (ἀπ ὸ γὰρ ταύτης ἐρωμένης αὑτῷ γενομένης ἔγραψεν ἐλεγειακὰ τρία βιβλία).

60 Unlike some scholars, I think that the Leontion’s argumentative structure cannot have been contrived around a self-consolation, for which the death of a beloved woman would have been a starting point, as was the case with the Lyde: such a supposition finds no support either in the extant testimonies or in the only substantial surviving fragment, the katalogos erotikon (on this reading see recently T. Gärtner, art. cit., p. 77 n. 1). In fact, the fragment’s atmosphere is clearly of an erudite divertissement, insofar as it reuses the “biographical” traditions of the poets of the past (see P. Bing, “The Bios-tradition and Poets’ Lives in Hellenistic Poetry,” in R. M. Rosen and J. Farrell (eds.), Nomodeiktes: Greek Studies in Honor of Martin Ostwald, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1993, pp. 619–631), and it is difficult to imagine that this tone was combined with the mournful tone of self-consolation for the loss of a beloved woman.

61 On the addresses to Cyrnus and their function in the social logic of sympotic poetry see now G. Colesanti, op. cit., pp. 219–282.

62 We owe this subtle intuition to A. Cameron, op. cit., p. 315, who underscores the presence of this feature in Callimachus’ Aetia, as opposed to Antimachus’ Lyde. Yet he does not extend this observation to make a comparison between Hermesianax’ Leontion and the Lyde, and therefore his discussion of the aesthetic relationship between Callimachus’ poetic vision, as expressed in the prologue to the Aetia, and Hermesianax’ elegiac poem—which is not appreciated by Callimachus, in his opinion—misses the point.

63 See now G. D’Alessio, “The Megalai Ehoiai: A Survey of the Fragments,” in R. Hunter (ed.), The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions, Cambridge, CUP, 2005, pp. 176–216.

64 On this vogue in Hellenistic poetry see H. Asquith, “From Genealogy to Catalogue: The Hellenistic Adaptation of the Hesiodic Catalogue Form,” in R. Hunter (ed.), The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions, Cambridge, CUP, 2005, pp. 266–286.

65 See, again, G. Colesanti, op. cit., pp. 177–218.

66 This piece of evidence is also discussed by L. Lulli, “Epica ed elegia,” art. cit., pp. 93–94, in another context, but she also stresses that the information it provides refers to the Hellenistic age. For a discussion of Athenaeus’ passage and other related evidence for the activity of the performers known as Homeristai during the Hellenistic age, see further G. Nagy, Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond, Cambridge, CUP, 1996, pp. 158–180.

67 This argument is made by A. Cameron, op. cit., pp. 71–76; according to Cameron, “despite the popularity of dramatic recitation at Hellenistic symposia, singing was not entirely a thing of the past” (p. 74). In support of this statement he adduces P. Berol. 13270, a papyrus anthology from Elephantine published by Wilamowitz and Schubart in 1907, which was dated to 300–280 BC. He argues that the poems this anthology contains are not much older than the papyrus itself and that they were composed for sung performance in a sympotic context: these are scolia in dactylo-epitrites and above all an elegy, which explicitly evokes a sympotic setting (anon. 135 FGE = adesp. eleg. 27 IEG2). On the anthology’s content see now F. Pordomingo, Antologías de época helenística en papiro, Florence, Gonnelli, Papyrologica florentina 43, 2013, no. 21 (pp. 163–168).

68 Hermesianax was a contemporary, or perhaps a slightly younger contemporary, of Philitas of Cos, who was probably born c. 340 BC (see L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 7–14, K. Spanoudakis, Philitas of Cos, Leiden, Brill, Mnemosyne. Suppl. 229, 2002, pp. 23–42). As such, Hermesianax may have been active as poet and performer since the last decade of the fourth century BC, and still in the first decades of the third century; we do not need to trust Pausanias (1.9.7 = Hermesianax test. 2 Lighftoot), who was merely guessing when he argued that the poet had died before Colophon was conquered by Lysimachus in the early third century BC (the Leontion is dated between 280 and 270 BC by P. M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria, II, Oxford, OUP, 1972, p. 883 n. 61). Chamaeleon’s floruit can be placed roughly in the second half of the fourth century BC.

69 See L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 49–52.

70 Transl. J. L. Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 49.

71 See L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 146–148 ad fr. 18, and K. Spanoudakis, op. cit., p. 209 ad fr. 20. Spanoudakis attributes the fragment to the Demeter, but, in my opinion, without persuasive arguments.

72 As I suggested in L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 54–56.

73 See J. Latacz, “Das Plappermäulchen aus dem Katalog,” in C. Schäublin (ed.), Catalepton. Festschrift für Bernhard Wyss zum 80. Geburtstag, Basel, Seminar für klassische Philologie der Universität Basel, 1985, pp. 77–95 (= id., Erschliessung der Antike. Kleine Schriften zur Literatur der Griechen und Römer, Stuttgart, Teubner, 1994, pp. 427–446), at pp. 86–89, followed by L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 38 (with n. 123), 55–56, K. Spanoudakis, op. cit., pp. 34–35, and J. L. Lightfoot, op. cit., the translation on p. 171.

74 Transl. J. L. Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 171, adapted.

75 See L. Sbardella, Filita, op. cit., pp. 54–60, and K. Spanoudakis, op. cit., pp. 30–37.

76 For an overview of the linguistic problems in this passage and the solutions put forward by scholars, see E. Dettori (ed.), Filita grammatico. Testimonianze e frammenti, Rome, Quasar, 2000, pp. 12–17, and most recently W. Lapini, “Filita di Cos e la veloce Bittide (Ermesianatte 7, 77 Powell),” Maia 66, 2014, pp. 18–28.

77 Cf. Poll. 4.72 αὐλητοῦ ταχυχειρία, Philostr. V. A. 5.21 (on auletic music) καὶ . . . τὸ ταχέως μεταβάλλειν ἐκ τρόπου ἐς τρόπον περὶ τοὺς εὔχειράς ἐστι μᾶλλον, Cic. Nat. d. 2.150 ad tibiarum apta manus est admotione digitorum.

78 See LSJ Suppl. s.v. A II for θοός interpreted as “sharp” by Hellenistic poets.

79 On the virtuoso aulos technique of employing overblowing for high-pitched solos, see M. L. West, Ancient Greek Music, Oxford, OUP, 1992, pp. 101–103.

80 Y et E. Dettori, op. cit., pp. 13–14, attempts to defend the paradosis.

81 Λαλιή means here “erotic talk,” as it is coloured by the love for the auletris Bittis, rather than “dialect” (on the possible meanings of this word see E. Dettori, op. cit., pp. 16–17).

82 The verb ῥώομαιομα is typically constructed with περί or ἀμφί and an accusative, usually in a literal sense (e.g., Od. 24.69 ἐρρώσαντο πυρὴν πέρι). In the passage under discussion, however, we should assume it has a metaphorical meaning (“he launched himself at all sorts of linguistic choices”), which would be highly suitable for the sphere of poetic and musical performance, since there are epic precedents for the use of this verb in reference to rhythmic and musical movements such as dance (cf. Il. 24.616 . . . νυμφάων, αἵ τʼ ἀμφʼ Ἀχελώϊον ἐρρώσαντο, of a chorus of Nymphs). As Jan Kwapisz suggests to me, the use of the present forms of the verb ῥώομαι is attested relatively late (Orph. Lith. 707, Dionys. Per. 518); but in Callim. Hymn 4.175 the future form ῥώσονται is transmitted by MSS (corrected by Stephanus to the aorist subjunctive ῥώσωνται) and what is probably the present form ῥώον[ται is transmitted as a varia lectio by P. Oxy. 2225. At any rate, it would not be surprising to find a morphological innovation of this sort in Hellenistic poetry, expecially in an erudite poet such as Philitas, who was famous for his linguistic scholarship (he authored a lexicon of rare words) and for experimenting with language. The Hellenistic innovative use of the verb might explain its subsequent morphological evolution.

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Livio Sbardella, « Aulodes and Rhapsodes: Performance and Forms of Greek Elegy from Mimnermus to Hermesianax », Aitia [En ligne], 8.1 | 2018, mis en ligne le 25 juin 2018, consulté le 16 juillet 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/aitia/2247 ; DOI : 10.4000/aitia.2247

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Livio Sbardella

Università degli Studi dell’Aquila

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