While the poetry of the Flavian period has received increasing attention from scholars over the past few decades, it is still not widely taught within the standard Classics curriculum at universities, at least in Great Britain. It features in survey courses of different types, where it is mostly read in translation, but there are only a few courses dedicated to particular Flavian writers and to studying works in the original. One reason for this situation may be a lack of adequate teaching materials. This commentary seeks to take a step in improving the teaching opportunities by presenting the (revised) text of a book from the work of one of the three Flavian epic poets with a commentary in English. Since this book, Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica 3, has not yet received a commentary of its own in any language, it is hoped that this volume will also offer material useful to scholars.
Book 3 consists mainly of two narrative sections, the so-called episodes of Cyzicus and of Hylas, which can each be read on their own, although, considered together, they show characteristics of Valerius Flaccus even more clearly. Both have been praised as impressive instances of Valerius Flaccus’ remodelling of traditional subject matter (see e.g. Garson 1964: 267, Zissos 2008: xxv n. 76) and therefore offer ample opportunities for intertextual analysis in relation to Apollonius Rhodius’ Hellenistic Argonautica, which is the model for the entire story, and to preceding Latin epic and tragedy, particularly Virgil's Aeneid, in terms of style and form.
This volume has benefited enormously from existing commentaries on Valerius Flaccus, especially those on the entire epic by P. Langen (1896/7) and F. Spaltenstein (2002, 2004, 2005) and that on the first book by A. Zissos (2008), and owes a huge debt to them, as well as to secondary literature on Valerius Flaccus. But in line with the conventions of the series, it has not been indicated when standard elements (e.g. grammatical explanations or parallel passages) have already been noted by earlier studies; equally, for parallels now widely recorded the scholar who first spotted them is not normally identified. Only in particular cases, for instance when contributions are unique or extremely controversial, are detailed references given.