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Callimachus’ Hecale: A New Kind of Epic Hero?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2015

G. Zanker*
Affiliation:
University of Canterbury

Extract

Callimachus’ distaste for Cyclic poetry is well known; he wrote, bluntly, (Ep. 28). That he was an opponent of Aristotle on the subject of epic has been clearly demonstrated by C.O. Brink. There are, however, two points in Callimachus’ opposition to Cyclic epic and Aristotle which I think call for further discussion. The first concerns Aristotle. For Aristotle epic and tragedy are or (Poet. 5, 6 et passim). Callimachus, on the other hand, says his critics berate him because he does not sing of ‘kings and heroes’ (Aetia fr.1. 3 and 5). The second is Callimachus’ criticism of bombast in epic. It is true that Aristotle in accordance with his theory of stylistic appropriateness will have demanded a serious style for the serious subjects of epic, but Callimachus’ explicit scorn is reserved for the bombast of the Cyclic poets.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Australasian Society for Classical Studies 1977

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References

1 I am indebted to Professor Kidd, D.A. and Coleman, Mr. R.G.G. for criticisms of this paper. It was read at the 18th AULLA Congress held from 27 January to 2 February 1977 in Wellington, New Zealand.Google Scholar

2 ‘Callimachus and Aristotle: an Inquiry into Callimachus’ ΠΡΟΣ ΠΡΑΞιΦΑΝΗΝ’, CQ 40 (1946), 11–26.

3 Rhet. 1408 a 10 ff.

4 Schol. ad Hy. Apoll. 106: ίγκαλεΐ δια τούτων τους σκώπτοντας αύτόν μή δύνασϋαι ποφσαι μέηλα ποίημα κώπτοντας, ποιησαι τήν ΈκάΚην.

5 See further ibid. 48 b 34–49 a 2, 49 b 9–20.

6 Aristotle: poetics (Oxford, 1968, p.63.

7 Against e.g. Butcher, S.H., Aristotle’s Theory of Poetry and Fine Art 4 (London, 1911 [repr. 1951]), pp.228Google Scholar ff. and G.F. Else, Aristotle’s Poetics: the Argument (Cambridge, Mass., 1957), pp.71–8, 455–62. Even at Categ. 10 b 7, από της σπουδα σπουδαίος• τω yàp ápertiv εχew σπουδαίος λύεται, the words σπουδαίος and àperri need not have any moral implications at all; the context is ‘capability’.

8 Dieg. x 28-xi 7.

9 The Diegesis does not mention the ΈκαλΐΧα which Philochorus αρ. Plutarch Life of Theseus 14 says were also instituted by Theseus. Perhaps fr. 263 is part of a speech spoken at the festival, as Trypanis ad loc. suggests.

10 Fr. 258–260.1–15.

11 Od. xiv 48 ff.

12 Od. xiv 418 ff.

13 Od. xix 386 ff.

14 Op. cit. 17. The poem treats of several apparently minor episodes apart from the story of Theseus and Hecale; as far as we can tell, they are: Theseus, Medea and Aegeus, ft. 232–238.4, 345; Hecate’s story ft. 253.7 ff., 254; the bull, ft. 258–260.15; Erichthonius, ft. 260.18–43. On Callimachus’ views on length and unity see, most recently, Klein, T.M., ‘Callimachus, Apollonius Rhodius and the Concept of the “Big Book”’,Eranos 73 (1975), 1625.Google Scholar

15 This fact may have been recognized in antiquity by the sophist Alcidamas, whom Aristotle reports as calling the Odyssey a καλόν άνϋρωνίνου βίου κάτοπτρου (Rhet. iii 1406 b 12): cf. Donatus, : Homerum … Odyssiam ad imaginent comoediae fecisse (Wessner, p.15, 2).Google Scholar

16 Mimesis: the Representation of Reality in Western Literature, tr. Trask, W.R. (Princeton, 1953), p.21.Google Scholar

11 Od. i 429 ff.

18 Od. xv 403 ff.

19 Poet. 48 a 11 f.

20 Euripides, : Electra (Oxford, 1939), pp.80–1.Google Scholar

21 Athenian Propertied Families (Oxford, 1971), p.xxxi et passim.

22 Cf. e.g. Thuc. viii 48.6: τους re καλούς κά-γαδούς όνομαξομένονς ουκ έλάσσω αυτούς νομίξειν σφίσι ■πράγματα παρέξειν τοΰ δήμου. See in general Ehrenberg, V., The People of Aristophanes (Oxford, 1943), pp.73 ff.Google Scholar

23 E.g. Soph. OT 763 f., άξιος yàp ol àvήp / δούλος φέρεα μεί ττ)σδε και μείξω χάριν and 1118 Λαίου yàp ήν / efaep τις άλλος κνστός ώς νομεύς άνήρ. However, the idea that an ordinary man could achieve moral greatness seems to have been current in popular philosophy, as is apparent from the stories of Tellus, Cleobis and Biton related by Herodotus (i 30 ff.).

24 Euripides has anachronistically imposed a contemporary view of reversal of social order upon heroic times; for Homer wealth is confined to the άριστοι and can only be lost by war, exile or slavery (the fate of Eumaeus, Od. xv 403 ff.); see in general Finley, M.I., The World of Odysseus (Harmondsworth, 1967), pp.5884.Google Scholar

25 Ar. Frogs 842.

26 Ibid. 948–50.

27 For further evidence of this kind of thinking in Euripides see fr. 232 Nauck.

28 Cf. Molorchus, in Aet. 3 (fr. 54–9 Pf.).Google Scholar

29 I intend to discuss the position of the φαύλος in Hellenistic literature as a whole in a forthcoming work called Realism in Hellenistic Literature.

Clayman, D.L., ‘The Origins of Greek Literary Criticism and the Aitw Prologue’, W.S. N.F. 11 (1977), 2734Google Scholar appeared too late to be discussed in the appropriate sections of this article; suffice it to observe here that dayman’s denial of any evidence to prove that rhetorical or literary criticism influenced Callimachus’ Aetia prologue is preposterous considering that he makes no reference to Aristotle’s Rhetoric or Poetics and Brink’s article cited above, p.68 n.2.

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