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Polyeideia: The Iambi of Callimachus and the Archaic Iambic Tradition

BENJAMIN ACOSTA-HUGHES
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Pages: 366
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnxpg
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  • Book Info
    Polyeideia
    Book Description:

    This book provides a new literary treatment of an often-overlooked collection of fragmentary poems from the third century B.C.E. Alexandrian poet Callimachus. Callimachus'Iambiform a collection of thirteen poems, which rework archaic Greek iambography and look forward to Roman satire and other genres, especially to such collections as Horace'sEpodes.The poems are especially significant as examples of cultural memory since they are composed both as an act of commemorating earlier poetry and as a manipulation of traditional features of iambic poetry to refashion the iambic genre. This book fills a significant gap by providing the first complete translation of several of these fragmentary poems in English, along with line-by-line commentary, notes, and literary analysis. The structure of the book is thematic, with chapters focusing on such topics as poetic voice, fable, ethical criticism, and statuary. Each chapter consists of an introduction, text and selected critical apparatus, translation, and comprehensive thematic discussion. Acosta-Hughes focuses especially on Callimachus' manipulation of traditional features of archaic iambic poetry such as persona loquens, ethical and critical message, and eristic dialogue. He also includes a detailed analysis of the Alexandrian poet's artistic relationship with the earlier iambic poets Archilochus and Hipponax.Polyeideiawill interest not only readers of Greek and Hellenistic poetry but also readers of Roman satire and invective verse, as well as those intrigued by the processes of memorializing and fashioning poetic culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92368-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Author’s Note
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    The early Alexandrian period under the first three Ptolemies (ca. 300–221 B.C.E.) saw not only an awakened interest in the preservation and classification of earlier Greek poetry but also a desire to refashion, even reinvent, many centuries-old types of poetry in a new cultural and geographical setting. The poets of this period composed hymns, epinicians, and epigrams, to mention only a few genres, which, while often recalling earlier literary models through formal imitation and verbal allusion, at the same time exhibit marked variation and innovation, whether in the assembling of generic features, in disparities of tone, or in choice...

  7. ONE Callimachus and the Adaptation of Hipponax: Iambus 1
    (pp. 21-59)

    The figure of the sixth-century B.C.E. poet Hipponax and the evocation of his verse pervade Callimachus’Iambi.When Callimachus chooses to compose poems in choliambic meter, he is already attaching himself on one level to Hipponax.¹ For it is with Hipponax that these iambic lines with their final “limping” long syllables are especially associated. This metrical choice in and of itself places Callimachus in a tradition of iambic poetry, a tradition of distinct language and imagery, and one of certain generic expectations. This is true whether he follows in this tradition and its conventions or refashions them. Further, there are...

  8. TWO On Not Going to Ephesus: Iambus 13
    (pp. 60-103)

    Callimachus concludesIambus13 with a statement at once declaratory and self-definitive (lines 64–66): “I sing, neither going to Ephesus nor associating with the Ionians, to Ephesus, whence they intending to produce the limping metra, are not unlearnedly inspired.” So the poet comments on his venture in composing iambics, defining his song both in terms of a distant past and present rivals. The meter of this poem, as those of the earlyIambi,is choliambic, the meter of Hipponax. Callimachus’ laterIambiare remarkable for their metrical variety, but inIambus13 the poet has returned to the choliambic...

  9. THREE The Elevated Paradigm: Iambi 12 and 1 (lines 32–77)
    (pp. 104-151)

    In the previous chapters I discussed the twoIambithat are particularly concerned with the iambographic persona and the composition of iambic verse,Iambus1 (in this case largely limiting my analysis to the narrative frame surrounding the parable of Bathycles’ cup) andIambus13. Callimachus composes these poems in response to the tradition of choliambic poetry, and especially to the figure of Hipponax. Further, in bothIambiCallimachus defines and fashions a voice in reaction to Hipponax and Hipponactean verse. We may designate these verses, the frame ofIambus1 and the whole ofIambus13, the “Hipponactean” passages...

  10. FOUR Fable: Iambi 2 and 4
    (pp. 152-204)

    The tale of Hebe’s birthday fête inIambus12 and the parable of Bathycles’ cup inIambus1 are, broadly defined, examples of one kind of paradigm. Both are taken from an elevated plane, whether divine / heroic or wisdom literature. Although wisdom literature is in many respects heir to a popular anecdotal tradition, Callimachus’ reworking of this tradition inIambus1 appeals rather to a learned audience. Both paradigms are mythical, both are metaphors for human experience (here contests in σoφíα [wisdom]). Both paradigms represent the cultural authority of archaic Greece in a later period, both define their speakers...

  11. FIVE Ethical Behavior: Iambi 3 and 5
    (pp. 205-264)

    Ethical criticism is a cornerstone of archaic iambic poetry. As a medium forpsogos,censure,¹ archaic iambic frequently assumes a triadic structure of (1) the censuring poetic voice, (2) the censured individual, and (3) an audience that both shares the judgments of the censurer and is itself the arena for the shaming of the censured.² This poetry ofpsogos,from the earliest surviving examples to its Roman emulators, may show at the same time seriousness and aspects that inspire laughter. The seriousness, the corrective and sometimes damaging nature of censure, may vary depending on the tone and degree of involvement...

  12. SIX The Statues: Iambi 6, 7, and 9
    (pp. 265-304)

    Three of Callimachus’Iambitake their point of departure from works of plastic art, works that are in turn given life, and indeed viewed through the poet’s verses. Each of these statuary poems may be characterized on its own and apart from the others, whether from aspects of generic type, setting, voice of speaker, level of poetic or other model.Iambus6 is an extended description by the knowledgeable poet in Alexandria of Pheidias’ chryselephantine statue of Zeus at Olympia told to a man traveling to view the statue.Iambus7 is an aretalogy spoken by a statue of Hermes...

  13. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 305-316)
  14. Index of Passages Cited
    (pp. 317-332)
  15. Greek Index
    (pp. 333-342)
  16. General Index
    (pp. 343-351)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 352-352)