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Chapter 2 - Knowledge and Pleasure

from Part I - Didactic Poetry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2020

Emily Kneebone
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

The opening verses of the Halieutica are rich and rewarding. They establish the poet’s authoritative first-person voice, the subject-matter and scope of the work, and the identity and significance of its addressee. Oppian also draws attention to his markedly anthropomorphic representation of sea-creatures, and to the poem’s Homeric pedigree: as we will see in chapter 8, fish are figured programmatically in these lines as quasi-Iliadic warriors, and the poet engages in learned and allusive Homeric commentary. In didactic terms these lines both align and distinguish the work from the traditions of Homeric epic. The first verb of the poem, ἐξερέω, is emphatically delayed and set at the start of the third verse; it announces the poet’s aims and associates him with the poem’s addressee Marcus Aurelius. At key transitional moments in the Halieutica, including the proems to each book, Oppian again invokes the emperor, always in highly laudatory terms, and sometimes alongside his son Commodus.1 These addresses draw attention to the poet’s relationship with his imperial patrons, as Chapter 11 will explore, and at the same time impose a structure on the poet’s body of information, outlining the organising principles, content, aims, and imagined reception of the work. This explicit relationship with an addressee is an authorial stance that immediately differentiates such poetry from the narrative conventions of heroic epic.

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Chapter
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Oppian's Halieutica
Charting a Didactic Epic
, pp. 44 - 82
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Knowledge and Pleasure
  • Emily Kneebone, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Oppian's <I>Halieutica</I>
  • Online publication: 24 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108892728.003
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  • Knowledge and Pleasure
  • Emily Kneebone, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Oppian's <I>Halieutica</I>
  • Online publication: 24 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108892728.003
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Knowledge and Pleasure
  • Emily Kneebone, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Oppian's <I>Halieutica</I>
  • Online publication: 24 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108892728.003
Available formats
×