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Colluthus' Pastoral Traditions: Narrative Strategies and Bucolic Criticism in the Abduction of Helen

  • Lucia Prauscello (a1)


It is nowadays a commonplace to state that every literary genre is a highly selective segment of a broader world of potential representations, and presents itself to the reader as a complete, self-contained model of interpretable mimesis of that particular aspect of reality. Yet this is especially true of bucolic poetry, whose very act of foundation rests on a joint effort, on the part both of the poets and their readers, to ‘conjure up a pre-existing “bucolic” tradition’ in the very same act of ‘founding such a tradition’. Theocritus' pastoral universe has its own bucolic hallmarks: landscape, gods and ‘professional’ accessories such as those required of a rustic life (milk-pails, shepherd's staffs, goatskin-coats and the like) are appropriately paraded and customised, and these hyper-‘realist’ markers are casually made to exist on the same level as the most unrealistic aspects of bucolic life (Theocritus' shepherds sing their time away while occasionally looking after their flocks). But it is especially in later imitators and interpreters that the possibilities of Theocritus' pastoral microcosm become necessities: generic consistency and recognisability are constantly pointed out and alluded to by obsessive repetition and normalisation of Theocritus ‘open’ pastoral world. The aim of the present paper is to read Colluthus' exploitation and, I would say, mobilisation of such a crystallised pastoral world against the background of ancient exegesis on the ‘bucolic problem’. In particular, it will be shown how bucolic criticism and Homererklärung (together with some important Hesiodic elements) are indissolubly intertwined in Colluthus' interpretation and reception of Theocritus' pastoral world. Comprehensiveness in charting Colluthus' critical response to such reading practices will not be attempted here: instead attention will be focused on those passages where Colluthus' scholarly engagement with bucolic generic conventions and their later accretions has a more direct impact on his narrative strategy.



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1. See e .g. Conte (1991) 54f., with reference to elegy.

2. Hunter (1999) 61; on the construction of the ‘bucolic’ world in Theocritus cf. also Fantuzzi in Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004) 141–67. For the import of the scholiastic and exegetical tradition in cooperating to construe a ‘more–than–Theocritean idealisation, via stylisation, of the bucolic world’, see the recent important article of Fantuzzi (2006).

3. Fantuzzi in Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004) 141–49 (esp. 141); cf. Gutzwiller (2006a) 15–19.

4. See Fantuzzi (2006) 238, Hunter (1999) 1 If.

5. I owe this formulation to Gutzwiller (2006b).

6. For the commentary as the main literary genre of late antiquity, see Agosti’s useful observations in Agosti (2005a) 23f. On the presence of ‘Alexandrian footnotes’ in Colluthus’ poetry, see e.g. Orsini (1972) xi–xiii on v.33 ( ‘though belonging in the wilds’, as a marker of Colluthus’ siding with that part of the tradition according to which Artemis was present at Peleus and Thetis’ wedding).

7. Colluthus’ linguistic and stylistic indebtedness to Homer and Nonnus is discussed by Orsini (1972) viii–xxvii and extensively but dispersedly documented by Livrea (1968a) in his commentary.

8. Harries (2006) 540–47.

9. Harries (2006) 545–47. The analogy between Hermione’s lament and Nonnus’ Erigone episode (Dion. 47. 116–200) has long been recognised by critics: cf. Orsini (1972) xxiii–vi.

10. Harries (2006) 546f.

11. On Nonnus’ overtly spurious bucolic world in his Dionysiaca, cf. Harries (2006) and Bar–chiesi (2006) 407 n.9.

12. Here and elsewhere, unless otherwise specified, Colluthus’ text will be quoted according to Orsini’s edition and numeration of lines.

13. See Livrea (1968a) 56f. (with previous bibliography), Giangrande (1969) 149, von Schönberger(1993)56.

14. Livrea (1968a) 56f. Giangrande’s objection that the Trojan nymphs could have been witnesses ‘to one point only’ of the plot’s action ‘whereas Colluthus wants them to inspire him to narrate everything’ (Giangrande (1969) 149 n.1; his emphasis) is not entirely cogent: from the Paris and Oenone episode in the tenth book of Quintus Smyrnaeus’ Posthomerica we know that the Trojan nymphs came to know anyway the ‘full’ story from its very agents (see below).

15. Giangrande (1969) 149, followed now also by Schönberger (1993) 56 ad loc. Kotseleni (1991) 110 suggests that the addressee to the Nymphs may include Helen (cf. 12f.) and Thetis. The first (for us) attested appearance of Nymphs and Muses together is Hes. fr. 26. 1Of. M-W.

16. Both passages are quoted by Livrea (1968a) 56. One could add also Moero fr. 3.1 Powell

17. For its treatment in the Cypria (and its later developments), see Stinton (1965) 51–63.

18. In the same direction see also Magnelli’s contribution (pp.152f. above). For the Nymphs as the ’true’ inspirers of pastoral poetry and their relationship to the Muses in Theocritus, see Fantuzzi in Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004) 154–56 (esp. on Idylls 5 and 7). Giovambattista D’Alessio rightly points out to me that the fact that in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos (see the passages above quoted) the Muses are questioned about the genealogy of the Nymphs may be relevant for the substitution Nymphs/Muses in bucolic poetry. For the confusion Nymphs/Muses in the marginal scholia to Theocr. Id.7. 78–82 as transmitted by POxy 2064 (second century CE), see Meliadò (2004) 21f.

19. See Il. 6. 420, Od. 6.105, 9.154, 13.356, 17.240. Only at Od. 12.131–33 are they said to be daughters of Helios.

20. See Fantuzzi in Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004) 151–53.

21. On the symbolic role of the Scamandros/Xanthos, see Scully (1990) 11 and 1 16. For the river’s mournful associations throughout the Iliad, see Mackie (1999). It is perhaps nothing more than a suggestive coincidence that in Aesch. Ag. 1156f. Cassandra’s lament of the òλέθριοι γάμοι(‘fatal wedding’) of Paris is immediately followed by an invocation to (’Scamander, the stream from which my father iused to drink’).

22. In particular in the first passage (Q.S. 12.459f) the Nymphs are mourning for the arrival at Troy of the two serpents sent by Athena; cf. Campbell (1981) 158 ad loc. Again, at Q.S. 14.72f. the river Xanthos is grieving for the destruction of Troy.

23. Larson (2001) 20–34.

24. The ancient sources are collected by Larson (2001) 293 n.77 (the earliest one goes back to Hellanicus).

25. See Livrea (1968a) 148f. ad loc.

26. Q.S. 10.471–76: (‘Truly wicked was Paris who deserted such a wise legitimate wife and took a lustful consort, a deadly ruin to himself and the people of Troy, the foolish man! He did not respect his wise wife’s broken heart. She honoured him more than the light of the sun although he hated her and loved her not’).

27. Q.S. 10.364–66: (‘the Nymphs were mourning loudly around him, for they still remembered in their minds how he, from his earliest childhood, talked to them gathered all together’). On this passage and the previous one, see Whitby 1994, 114–16.

28. Q.S. 10.369f.: (‘then a herdsman told the wife of the much–enduring Priam about Alexander’s dreadful fate’). The local herdsmen join in the Nymphs’ lament both at 10.367f. ( ‘swift–footed herdsmen, grieving in their hearts, joined them in mourning’) and 479 ( ‘the herdsmen stood in amazement around them’).

29. Cf. Hunter (1999) 63–68 (esp. 67). The structural affinity between the figures of Daphnis and Paris are highlighted by Stinton (1965) 46–50. Ironically, Theocritus ’ water Nymphs do not attend Daphnis’ death (Id. 1.66–69), a role which is instead performed by Quintus’ Trojan Nymphs.

30. See Harries (2006) 525–35.

31. At 340f. the άμφιΰóλοι ( ‘handmaids’) suggest that Helen may be with a group of women or nymphs(, ‘perhaps she has gone to a gathering of women/nymphs’). Cf. Paschalis p.145 above.

32. Ωράων qualifies of 342 and not πεδíоιо of 343: see Livrea (1968a) 227 ad loc. For the possible actual location of the λειμών of the Horai within the Spartan cultic landscape, see Orsini (1972) 17 n.1. More sceptical about Colluthus’ possible knowledge of Sparta’s sacred geography is Livrea (1968a) 227 ad (in his numeration) 343 and 348.

33. In particular, as already observed by commentators (cf. e.g. Livrea [1968a] 228 ad loc.), the verse end at 345 recalls that of Theocr. 18.23 . On the likely influence of Theocritus’ Helen’s Epithalamium on Colluthus, see below.

34. See Harries (2006) 543 n.94: Harries is the only one who explicitly observes that affinity if even only en passant: ‘the speech as a whole owes much to the ravishing epithalamium for Helen (18).’ On Theocr. Id. 18 and its affinities with pastoral, see recently also Stephens (2006) 96f.

35. For the ‘bucolic’ possibilities inherent in the Theocritean Helen of Id. 18 and their developments by later poets (esp. Ovid), see Cucchiarelli (1995) 143f. with n.19 especially with reference to Id. 18.41f. ’like suckling lambs longing for the teat of their mother’). However it has to be acknowledged that in the bucolic imagery of Idyll 18 specifically Spartan rituals may play an important role as well: for the comparison of the young Spartan girls’ attitude towards Helen to suckling lambs and its possible cultic background, see Hunter (1996) 159–61. Likewise, for the expression (‘company of maidens’) of Id. 18.24 we may recall that Spartan male youth was divided in several small groups called cf. Hesych. s.v. (β 865 Latte): ἀγέλη παίδων (‘herd of boys’), and Kennell (1995) 38. In Pindar fr. 112 M a female chorus is described as (‘Spartan herd of maidens’—this evidence is already in Hunter [1996] 160 n.80).

36. See Orsini (1972) 17 n.1. Livrea (1968a) 229 ad loc. retains the manuscript reading.

37. On νύμφη, its semantic range and diachronic development, see Chantraine (1946–7) 228–30.

38. For Helen as originally a nurturing goddess of fertility, see Skutsch (1987) 189 and Hunter (1996) 160f.

39. Already Nonnus had nonchalantly interpreted Paris’ judgement as (‘strife over the beauty of a nymphê’, Dion. 2.360): see Shorrock (2001) 38 n.46.

40. Differently Cucchiarelli (1995) 145 n.21: ‘Colluto…non raffigura certo Elena come una semplice fanciulla spartana, giacché la fa atteggiare in modi sontuosi e regali.’

41. (‘Have really Poseidon and Apollo built in the bygone days the foundation of your fatherland, o stranger? I wish I had seen those wondrous works of the immortals’).

42. The manuscript tradition is divided here: νóμον (‘tune’) is reading of M (adopted by Orsini) whereas ² has νομóν (‘pasture’), defended by Livrea (1968a) 215f. Either reading does not affect the substance of my argument.

43. Cf. Fantuzzi in Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004) 141f.

44. For the ancients’ athetesis of 446 on the grounds just mentioned above, see Σ to Il. 21. 446a–b; see also Richardson (1993) 91 ad loc.

45. ΣZGE to Il. 21.446–49: (‘in his thirteenth book On the Gods Apollodorus says: “for, as far as it was believed that the task of building walls is appropriate to Poseidon, whom we are used to call the Securer and Upholder of foundations, and [Homer] himself usually calls him Earth-shaker and Earth-mover, in the same way what has to do with herding is perceived proper to Apollo Shepherd”’).

46. On the pastoral disguise of Apollo in the Alcestis, cf. Parker (2007) 173 ad loc. On the relevance of this Euripidean passage for Colluthus, see also Paschalis p.142 above.

47. The ΣB ad Eur. Alc. 577 explicitly gloss as ‘bucolic songs by means of which [Apollo] led the flocks to copulate’ ( ).

48. For the possible identification of ‘the golden statue of the local Athena’ of 238 ( ), see Livrea (1968a) 188f. ad loc. At 235–39 Colluthus is probably alluding to the tradition according to which Paris went to Sparta as part of an educational tour to learn Greek customs: ancient sources on Paris as a ‘tourist’ of the Greek oikoumene are collected by Rocca (1997). Cf. also Cuartero i Iborra (2003) 192f. and Paschalis pp.140f. above.

49. Again, Harries (2006) 547 (‘In Nonnus the pastoral lament inaugurates a new era of unbounded sensual stimulation and material abundance. Colluthus’ vision is, if anything, more Hesiodic’) is the only one, to the best of my knowledge, who has intuited, even if not fully developed, this important aspect of Paris’ characterisation. Cf. now also Magnelli’s important remarks on Hesiod’s presence in Colluthus’ proem (p.153 above).

50. Hes. frr. 9.1 (uaria lectio) and 10.1 M-W, both times said of kings (). Cf. also Homeric Hymn to Dem. 103, 215, 473 (always referring to kings); for later occurrences in Nonnus, see Livrea (1968a) 61 ad loc. δικασπóλος occurs in Il. 1.238 (said of the sons of the Achaeans) and Od. 11.186 (again with reference to the social obligations of a ‘princely’ status).

51. Cf. W&D 38f. (‘the kings, those gift–eaters, who want to judge this case’) and the whole section on the unjust city at 248–73 (esp. 263f. ‘Bearing this in mind, kings, straighten up your discourses, you gift-eaters, and forget entirely your crooked judgements’).

52. On this aspect of Colluthus’ Paris, see esp. Cucchiarelli (1995) 151 n.32.

53. To these overtly Hesiodic echoes one could be tempted to add a further one of a more speculative nature: Hesiod’s proem of W&D (1–10) is immediately followed by the section on the two kinds of “Eρις, and how the negative one, feeding on νείκεα, brings war and destruction to its victims (11ff.). Likewise, Colluthus’ proem, which explicitly asks (‘what was the primeval beginning of the strife? ’), is immediately followed by the narrative of the disruptive role of “Eρις; at Peleus’ and Thetis’ wedding (37ff.).

54. The only reference to Paris’ judgement within the Iliad is at 24.29f. (‘[Paris] who found fault with the goddesses when they came to the inner court-yard [of his stables] but he approved of her who gave him grievous lust’): these lines were athetised by scholars including Aristarchus (see Σ ad loc), according to whom Homer did not know the story of the judgement; for a survey of the vexed question, see Stinton (1965) 1–3 and appendix II.

55. That the νεῖκος alluded to by Colluthus at 10 is that among the goddesses (for the ownership of the golden apple) and not the Greek-Trojan conflict as a whole (as it is instead the case in Il. 22.116 ; cf. Σ to Il. 22.116 which interprets the ‘beginning of the strife’ [i.e. among Trojans and Greeks] as ), seems guaranteed by the following reference to herdsmen administering judgements to the immortals at 11 ( ).

56. That this is what Colluthus is doing here is reflected also by his ‘phrasing’ of the question: at 12f. ‘where did Paris hear the name of the Argive nymph’ () looks very much like the quotation of a Homeric ζήτημα: Colluthus is trying here to recover bits of the Homeric fabula.

57. For the symbolic meanings attached to sea-voyaging in Hellenistic and Latin literature, see recently Harrison (2007).

58. For Hesiod’s ambiguous, mainly negative attitude towards seafaring in the Nautilia section of his W&D (618–94), see recently Tsagalis (2006), esp. 103–13.

59. Harries (2006) 546f.

60. for a defence of the manuscript reading (Homeric hapax: Il. 21.364) vs. Schneider’s conjecture (adopted by Orsini and Livrea), see Giangrande (1969) 150 ad loc. and Schönberger(1993)61.

61. For such an interpretation of ἐς ᾔθεα(110), see Vian (1969a) 594.

62. Cf. Theocr. Id. 7.1.14 (’for he very much looked like a goatherd’).

63. Id. 7.15f.: (‘he wore on his shoulders the tawny skin of a thick-haired shaggy goat, still smelling of recently made rennet’). For the defence of γαυλóν against the uaria lectio γαῦλον at 127, cf. Livrea (1968a) 132.

64. Id. 7.18f.: (‘he held in his right hand a curved stick of wild olive wood’); the κορύνα (‘shepherd’s staff) of 19 will later on be called (128; lit. ’thing for flinging at hares ’) by Daphnis. Colluthus’ choice to use the rare word (hapax in Homer: Il. 23.845) is interesting here, and were often confused in ancient exegesis (cf. e.g. Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 14.2.2 . ‘such things as those tending cattle and herdsmen carry with themselves, some calling them kalauropes, some lagôbola), but they seem to have originally been two different pastoral tools (cf. Long. D&C 1.27.2 , ‘with no blow of a kalaurops or prod of a goad’): see also Harries (2006) 529 n.47. The etymology and precise function of the were a matter of discussion already in antiquity: cf. £ to 23. 845 a-c with Richardson (1993) 265 ad loc. In particular, according to the £bT to 845b), must have been a staff that herdsmen threw when they wanted to separate cattle driven together. Later authors (Nonnus esp. at Dion. 1.82 and 343) seem to diverge from the Homeric meaning and make it denote ‘something smaller…like a cattle–prod’ (Matthews [1996a] 201f.; for its use in Hellenistic poetry see Bernsdorff [2001] 83 with n.109). The fact that in our text at 109 is preceded by the gloss–like apposition seems to indicate that Colluthus sided with Nonnus in interpreting the Homeric hapax as ‘prod’ (cf. also [‘driver of cattle’] at 43 said of a μύωψ) [‘goad’]). Paris is already holding a in Luc. Judgement of the Goddesses 5.15.

65. Paris playing the syrinx (cf. 110f is a ‘bucolic’ touch that can already be found in Pindar (fr. 6a M) and Euripides (Hel. 358, IA 574–79): see Stinton (1965) 28f. For Paris playing the lyre, cf. Veneri (1995). For the precise sense of (here = ‘rustic’), see Mauduit (1994).

66. Harries (2006) 518f. with n.9. For referring both to sheep and cattle already in Homer, cf. Fantuzzi in Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004) 141 n.35 and Gutzwiller (2006b) 382. For covering both goats and cows, cf. Cratinus 313 K-A.

67. Hunter (1999) 250; cf. also id. (1999) 90.

68. Cf. Paschalis pp.146f. above.

69. The most extensive treatment is Schmidt (1979). Aristophanes and Aristarchus contended that the ‘proper’ Homeric Use of was exclusively that of ‘sheep and goats’ and differentiated it from that of the post-Homeric poets () who used it both of cattle and flocks (the ancient evidence is collected by Slater [1986] frr. 118f.). Cf. also Rengakos (1994) 115 s.v. For the distinction cf. also Nonn. Dion. 18.94 (‘herd of well–fed bulls and flocks of sheep’, already quoted by Livrea [1968a] 121), certainly present to Colluthus here.

70. Cf. Schmidt (1969) and Hunter (1999) 90f.

71. See Livrea (1968a) 121 ad loc.

72. See Rengakos (2002) 145.

73. For the judgement of Paris in Greek literature, see Stinton (1965); for the Latin representations of it, see the sources collected by Kossatz-Deissman in LIMC VII.1 (1994), 176f. s.v. Paridis iudicium; cf. also Cucchiarelli (1995) 148f. nn.28 and 29.

74. ώρύσαντο of Id. 1.71 (wolves) is clearly echoed by Colluthus at 116 ώρǻοντν (dogs): cf. Livrea (1968a) 126 ad loc

75. Id. 1.74f. (‘many oxen mourned at his feet, and so many bulls, and many heifers too, and many calves lamented him’).

76. I follow here Hunter’s interpretation of this much debated passage: see Hunter (1999) 92f.

77. See Hunter (1999) 92f. with previous bibliography. A detailed treatment can be found in Schmidt (1969). For the unlikeliness of the moralistic interpretation of these lines offered by the Theocritean scholia (cowherds are supposed to be more self-controlled [] about sex), see recently Fantuzzi (2006) 247f.

78. Hunter (1999) 63–67.

79. For the wealth motif connected with success in love cf. e.g. Calp. Sic. 3.61–64. See above all Longus’ re–reading of the judgement of Paris in D&C 1.16 (the beauty contest between Dorcon and Daphnis) where the sexually predatory Dorcon is cast as a vs. the Daphnis: cf. Morgan (2004) 165 ad loc. What has passed unnoticed in this passage is that both Dorcon and Daphnis’ self–presentations (and not only Daphnis’: 1.16.4) stage a contest in appropriating Di–onysian features.

80. See Henderson (1975) 127 and 202f. s.v .

81. For the increasing importance of the erotic element in late bucolic pastoral, cf. Reed (2006) 217f.

82. Cf. Reed (1997) 30. Cf. also Sider (2001) esp. 103f.

83. Fantuzzi (2006) 260.

84. For a different interpretation of Paris herding bulls as an oblique reference to the mixed herd of the Cyclops in Theocr. Id. 11.34, see now Magnelli pp.l55f. above with 168 n.32.

85. Eustathius In Il. 851, 52 = III, 218 11. 3ff. van der Valk = Archil, fr. 247 W2 ‘Aristotle, they say, said that stood for “giving himself airs because of his penis”, having interpreted that expression in such a meaning. And it seems that the scorpion-tongued Archilochus called the penis “gentle horn” and hence he has introduced such an expression’). On this passage and its tormented textual history, see Pretagostini (1984) 52–55. Cf. also van der Valk (1963) i .503. For = cf. also Hesych. s.v. κཱིρας (κ 2278 Latte). For Paris as a Dionysiac figure in the Iliad, see Suter (1993) 15 with reference to Il. 11.385.

86. In Q.S. 10.441–45 Oenone, in her frenzied grief for Paris’ death, is compared to a love-driven heifer (, 441) that rushes through the wood to seek a congenial bull.

87. My sincerest thanks to Giovambattista D’Alessio, Marco Fantuzzi, Enrico Magnelli, Michael Paschalis and Richard Rawles for their invaluable criticism and suggestions; special thanks are due to Richard Hunter for encouraging me to write this paper. I alone am responsible for what I have written.

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Colluthus' Pastoral Traditions: Narrative Strategies and Bucolic Criticism in the Abduction of Helen

  • Lucia Prauscello (a1)


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