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Chapter 6 - Lust

from Part II - Morality at Sea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2020

Emily Kneebone
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

Images of fluidity saturate this proem, which dramatises the transposition of Eros or desire to the sea. In a richly multisensory constellation of images, the Muses are said to have ‘crowned’ the poet with the gift of song, providing him with a sweet stream (γλυκὺ νᾶμα) to blend (κίρνασθαι) for his imperial addressees (4.10). The verb κίρνασθαι connotes the mixing of wine with water, depicting the poem as a drink to be consumed by the emperor, and exploiting the aquatic connection between its marine subject-matter (εἰνάλιος, 4.6) and the potable nature of the poetic drink. The adjective γλυκύς in turn suggests both the aesthetic appeal of this ‘sweet’ or delightful verse and an implied thematic contrast between brine and fresh water. The mixing metaphor thus advertises the skilful nature of the poet’s didactic role in transforming the raw materials of the salty sea into a palatable literary draught that benefits both ears and mind (οὔασι καὶ πραπίδεσσι, 4.10), imparting knowledge and pleasure to the audience in an expertly judged blend. The metaphor of ‘mixing’, I suggest, amounts to a manifesto for the poet’s didactic enterprise, drawing on ancient critical debates about the proper ‘educative’ or ‘entertaining’ function of poetry;1 it also sets out the poet’s wider literary and ethical agenda of the ‘blend’ or well-judged mean.

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Chapter
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Oppian's Halieutica
Charting a Didactic Epic
, pp. 167 - 206
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Lust
  • Emily Kneebone, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Oppian's <I>Halieutica</I>
  • Online publication: 24 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108892728.007
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  • Lust
  • Emily Kneebone, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Oppian's <I>Halieutica</I>
  • Online publication: 24 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108892728.007
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.

  • Lust
  • Emily Kneebone, University of Nottingham
  • Book: Oppian's <I>Halieutica</I>
  • Online publication: 24 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108892728.007
Available formats
×