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Epyllion as idyll or enigma? Thessaly as a mythico-literary landscape of war in Catullus 64 and in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos

L’epyllion comme idylle ou énigme ? La Thessalie comme paysage mythico-littéraire de la guerre dans le poème 64 de Catulle et l’Hymne à Délos de Callimaque
L’Epillio come idillio o enigma? Tessaglia come un paesaggio mitico-letterario della guerra nello poema 64 di Catullo e nell’ Inno a Delo di Callimaco.
Annemarie Ambühl

Riassunti

Il carme 64 di Catullo è un testo molto complesso la cui interpretazione divide da tempo la critica. Nel presente articolo considero i possibili echi politici dell’epillio nel suo contesto storico. In primo luogo, propongo una lettura intertestuale di due passi dal carme 64 (il catalogo degli ospiti mortali e divini che partecipano al matrimonio a Farsalo) alla luce dell’Inno a Delo di Callimaco. Sostengo che Catullo utilizzi la sezione tessalica dell’inno, con lo scontro fra il fiume Peneo e il dio della guerra Ares, non solo come fonte di dettagli mitologici e geografici, ma anche come rilevante sottotesto per la sua visione negativa della Tessaglia come paesaggio che prefigura la guerra e soprattutto la guerra civile. In una seconda lettura, ritorno al carme 64 di Catullo dal punto di vista di due più tardi poeti romani, Virgilio e Lucano, che storicizzano la Tessaglia mitica di Catullo ancora più precisamente alla luce delle guerre civili. Come esempi prendo l’epilogo al primo libro delle Georgiche e soprattutto l’excursus tessalico di Lucano nel sesto libro del Bellum civile, nel quale egli rielabora Catullo così come Callimaco al fine di caratterizzare la sua Tessaglia come paesaggio letterario, predestinato agli orrori della battaglia di Farsalo.

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Testo integrale

1. Catullus 64 as a Roman epyllion

  • 1 The bibliography on Catullus 64 is huge; in the following I quote only key publications that are cr (...)
  • 2 On the problems involved in the concept of epyllion as a genre see my discussion of various approac (...)
  • 3 Among the various intertextual threads that link Catullus 64 with earlier texts I focus here on Cal (...)
  • 4 On the nostalgic character of poem 64 see e.g. Harmon D. P., “Nostalgia for the Age of Heroes in Ca (...)
  • 5 Ironical or ambiguous readings of the poem have notably been proposed by Curran L. C., “Catullus 64 (...)

1Catullus’ poem 64 is the earliest fully preserved Roman miniature epic.1 That Catullus self-consciously inscribes himself in the tradition of Alexandrian poetics is evident not only from formal and stylistic aspects of his poem like the elaborate ecphrasis of the coverlet with the depiction of the Ariadne myth,2 but also from its unmistakable intertextual references to the founding texts of the ‘genre’ of Hellenistic epyllion such as Callimachus’ Hecale and Moschus’ Europa, along with its intricate use of Homer, Hesiod, Apollonius and Greek and Roman tragedy (to name only the most prominent intertexts).3 Scholarship has however not been so unanimous in defining the character of Catullus 64. Is it a romantic idyll that nostalgically looks back to the good old heroic times as a Golden Age?4 Or does it ironically anticipate a darker future for its main characters through the omission of crucial elements of the narrative and ominous hints at other versions of the myths?5 The epilogue finally adapts the Hesiodic lament about the Iron Age in a typically Roman moralistic voice with overtones of fratricide and civil war. Do the myths that have been told in the poem thus serve as an idyllic contrast or as an enigmatic analogy to the narrator’s present?

  • 6 This might appear as a typically postmodern reading, which however fits well the aesthetics of an e (...)
  • 7 On the various versions see Reitzenstein R., “Die Hochzeit des Peleus und der Thetis,” Hermes 35, 1 (...)
  • 8 Jerome’s questionable dating of Catullus’ life from 87–58 BC is usually adjusted to 84-54 BC. or 82 (...)
  • 9 Fernandelli M., op. cit., p. 199-203, devotes a brief chapter to Catullus 64 and the Hymn to Delos, (...)

2The ambiguities constituted by the contradictory voices and perspectives that make up this complex composition will perhaps never be resolved and probably are not meant to be resolved at all.6 Nevertheless I personally rather tend to a ‘pessimistic’ reading of Catullus 64, reflecting the troubled times of its composition at the eve of the civil wars that were to deal the Roman republic its death-blow. Here a curious historical coincidence occurs that seems to confirm such a reading. Catullus situates the wedding of Peleus and Thetis at the Thessalian town of Pharsalus, the seat of Peleus’ palace, and not on Mount Pelion as in the most common versions of the myth.7 For us the name Pharsalus rings an ominous note, since there the deciding battle of the first civil war between Caesar and Pompey took place in 48 BC. In Roman poetry from this period on, the neighbouring regions Thessaly and Macedonia merge into a paradigmatic landscape of civil war, where Pharsalus and Philippi, the site of the subsequent civil war battle in 42 BC, become virtually synonymous (see below § 3). That Catullus situates the mythical wedding, which ultimately leads to the Trojan war and the Iron Age, precisely at the site of the Roman civil war battle is a coincidence that seems almost too good to be true. Indeed most scholars (with some notable exceptions) agree with the ancient biographical tradition that Catullus did not live to see the outbreak of the civil war.8 But even if the first readers of the poem may not have made the same inevitable association as subsequent readers, in my paper I argue that independent from the historical issue there are intertextual markers within the text of Catullus 64 that reinforce such a ‘dark’ reading by referring to a Hellenistic predecessor, namely Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos. This hymn, which along with other of Callimachus’ hymns has also sometimes been subsumed under the category of epyllion, has until now barely been recognized as an important subtext of Catullus’ poem.9 Through a comparative reading of select passages from both poems, I would like to show that Catullus’ Thessaly is characterized as a mythico-literary landscape of war and civil war.

2. Thessaly as a landscape of war in Catullus 64 and in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos

  • 10 See Schmale M., op. cit., p. 79-89.

3In Catullus 64, the framing narrative tells of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the future parents of Achilles. As mentioned before, the wedding takes place in Peleus’ palace at the Thessalian town Pharsalus, and the neighbouring framers leave their fields in order to attend the wedding (31–46). Just as on the overall interpretation of the poem, scholarship has also been divided on the issue whether the description of the untilled fields suggests the innocent bliss of the Golden Age or whether it hints at the imminent arrival of decay that will mark the Iron Age.10 Intratextual links seem to confirm the latter view, as the ploughing of fields is replaced by the Argo ploughing the sea (12), the reaping of grain is compared to the bloody harvest Achilles will reap at Troy (353–355), and the Golden Age has turned into Peleus’ golden palace (43–46)—ship-faring, agriculture, war and luxury all being typical signs of the Iron Age. In my view, this ominous character of Catullus’ Thessaly is further corroborated through intertextual references.

  • 11 See the appended table with Thessalian place names in Homer, Apollonius, Callimachus, Catullus and (...)

4The description of the wedding contains two short geographical catalogues, which are separated by the long central ecphrasis. The first names the Thessalian cities and places where the mortal wedding guests come from (31–37), the second mentions the divine wedding guests and their gifts (278–302). Geographical names, especially rare ones, often function as intertextual markers in Greek and Latin poetry. In the literary tradition, there are at least two catalogues that Catullus could have used as models:11 Homer’s catalogue of ships in the second book of the Iliad (2, 494–759), especially its Thessalian section (681–759), and the catalogue of Argonauts at the beginning of Apollonius’ Argonautica (1, 23–233). One text however stands out, as there the geographical catalogues are closely connected to the mythological narrative just as in Catullus 64. This is Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos, which tells of Leto’s desperate search for a birthplace for her unborn son Apollo. All the landscapes and islands approached by Leto flee in the face of the threats uttered by Hera against any land that should dare to give shelter to Leto and her bastard son (H. 4, 55–99). When Leto finally arrives in Thessaly and begs the river Peneios and Mount Pelion for help, Peneios is moved and decides to offer her a safe place to give birth. But as Hera’s henchman Ares threatens to bury the river under rocks, Leto does not accept his self-sacrifice and moves on (100–152).

  • 12 Catullus’ text is quoted from Mynors R. A. B. (ed.), C. Valerii Catulli Carmina, Scriptorum classic (...)

5Let us now compare the two texts in detail.12 The first catalogue in Catullus reads as follows (64, 31–37):

quae simul optatae finito tempore luces
aduenere, domum conuentu tota frequentat
Thessalia, oppletur laetanti regia coetu:
dona ferunt prae se, declarant gaudia uultu.
deseritur Cieros, linquunt Pthiotica Tempe
Crannonisque domos ac moenia Larisaea
Pharsalum coeunt, Pharsalia tecta frequentant.

When in due course this most eagerly awaited
wedding day dawns, guests from every distant quarter
of Thessaly throng the house, the palace is crowded
with a rejoicing multitude. All bear gifts, their faces
beam pleasure. Cieros (or: Scyros) is empty, they’ve deserted Phthiotic
Tempe, the houses of Crannon, the ramparts of Larissa,
converging on Pharsalus, packing Pharsalian rooftops.

  • 13 In line 35, Meineke’s conjecture Cieros is accepted by most editors instead of Scyros, which has be (...)
  • 14 The Hymn to Delos has been mentioned as a potential model by Perrotta G., “Il carme 64 di Catullo e (...)

6Of the seven Thessalian place names mentioned in Catullus’ first catalogue, with the exception of the conjectured Cieros13 and the before-mentioned Pharsalus, five are also found in the Thessalian section of the Hymn to Delos, especially concentrated at the beginning in lines 103–105 (ἄψ δ᾽ ἐπὶ Θεσσαλίην πόδας ἔτρεπε· φεῦγε δ᾽ Ἄναυρος / καὶ μεγάλη Λάρισα καὶ αἱ Χειρωνίδες ἄκραι, / φεῦγε δὲ καὶ Πηνειὸς ἑλισσόμενος διὰ Τεμπέων) and complemented by two further names in the rest of the passage (112: Πηνειὲ Φθιῶτα and 138: πεδίον Κραννώνιον).14 Catullus creates a kind of intertextual patchwork, as the names in the first catalogue are taken from different parts of Callimachus’ text.

  • 15 For the term see Wills J., “Divided Allusion: Virgil and the Coma Berenices,” HSPh 98, 1998, p. 277 (...)

7On the other hand he also uses the technique of ‘divided allusion’,15 for he reworks the Thessalian section of Callimachus’ Hymn by splitting it into two separate catalogues. The second catalogue mentions the summit of mount Pelion, where Chiron comes from, and the river Peneios, two important features of Callimachus’ Thessaly that had not yet been mentioned in the first catalogue. To be sure, Mount Pelion appears right at the beginning of the epyllion as the place where the timber for the Argo originated (1: Peliaco quondam prognatae uertice pinus), but its connection with Chiron, the future tutor of Peleus’ son Achilles, has not been mentioned explicitly before (278f.: quorum post abitum princeps e uertice Pelei / aduenit Chiron portans siluestria dona). Also in the Hymn to Delos, Pelion is identified in a periphrasis as the ‘heights of Chiron’ (104: αἱ Χειρωνίδες ἄκραι), and Leto appeals in vain to the mountain by adducing the precedent that Chiron’s mother Philyra had given birth there (118: Πήλιον ὦ Φιλύρης νυμφήιον). Catullus here apparently combines the allusion to Callimachus with a reference to the departure of the Argo in Apollonius, where Chiron descends from Mount Pelion to the beach, while his wife carries the baby Achilles on her arms (Arg. 1, 553–558)—Achilles who is yet to born in Catullus.

8The second catalogue in Catullus (64, 278–302) follows the Callimachean model even closer than the first, as personified geographical features like rivers attend the wedding. For readers familiar with the tradition of Peleus’ wedding, after the well-known Chiron, who appears in most versions, there comes a surprise guest. The river Peneios arrives in a haste, leaving the green Tempe valley behind and bringing various trees with him as a decoration for the wedding —is this the river-god or the river himself (285–291)?

confestim Penios adest, uiridantia Tempe,
Tempe, quae siluae cingunt super impendentes,
†Minosim linquens †doris celebranda choreis,
non uacuos: namque ille tulit radicitus altas
fagos ac recto proceras stipite laurus,
non sine nutanti platano lentaque sorore
flammati Phaethontis et aerea cupressu.

Next came Penios, setting out from verdant Tempe,
Tempe enclosed above by overhanging woodlands,
leaving the haunt (to the nymphs?) for their dances;
nor was he empty-handed, for he came bearing tall, uprooted
beeches and stately laurels, straight in the stem,
together with nodding plane trees, and the lithe poplar
sisters of cindered Phaëthon, and tall airy cypresses.

  • 16 On the moving landscape in the Hymn to Delos see Nishimura-Jensen J. M., “Unstable Geographies: The (...)
  • 17 On the textual problems see the overview in Rebelo Gonçalves F., “Nova Leitura de Um Verso de Catul (...)

9The Hymn to Delos plays with personifications in a similar way when whole landscapes flee before Leto.16 Catullus’ line 285 closely resembles Callimachus’ line 105 (φεῦγε δὲ καὶ Πηνειὸς ἑλισσόμενος διὰ Τεμπέων). The adverb confestim conveys the same idea that is played out more elaborately in Leto’s address to Peneios: She asks him why he is trying to outdo the winds or seemingly has mounted a race horse, and whether his feet are always so quick or it is because of her that he suddenly has been made to fly (112–116: Πηνειὲ Φθιῶτα, τί νῦν ἀνέμοισιν ἐρίζεις; / ὦ πάτερ, οὐ μὴν ἵππον ἀέθλιον ἀμφιβέβηκας. / ἦ ῥά τοι ὧδ᾽ αἰεὶ ταχινοὶ πόδες, ἢ ἐπ᾽ ἐμεῖο / μοῦνον ἐλαφρίζουσι, πεποίησαι δὲ πέτεσθαι / σήμερον ἐξαπίνης;). The speeding river and the uprooted trees he carries with him are traces left in Catullus’ text from the geographical anarchy in Callimachus’ Hymn. The ensuing catalogue of trees may also have been inspired by the Hymn, where in the section preceding the Thessalian episode the tree nymph Melia who dances on Boeotian Helicon is upset by the violent movement of the mountain that causes her tree to shake (79–82: ἡ δ᾽ ὑποδινηθεῖσα χοροῦ ἀπεπαύσατο νύμφη / αὐτόχθων Μελίη καὶ ὑπόχλοον ἔσχε παρειήν / ἥλικος ἀσθμαίνουσα περὶ δρυός, ὡς ἴδε χαίτην / σειομένην Ἑλικῶνος). A consideration of Catullus’ sustained use of the Hymn in this passage might even solve the textual problem in line 287 (†Minosim linquens †doris celebranda choreis), where Peneios apparently leaves the Tempe valley to the resident Nymphs to celebrate their choral dances. Despite the different quantity of the vowel, Madvig’s Meliasin, which is also palaeographically close to the transmitted text, could constitute another allusion to Callimachus and thus hit the mark among the various conjectures.17

10Finally all the Olympic gods arrive, with the exception of Apollo and Artemis (64, 298–302):

inde pater diuum sancta cum coniuge natisque
aduenit caelo, te solum, Phoebe, relinquens
unigenamque simul cultricem montibus Idri:
Pelea nam tecum pariter soror aspernata est,
nec Thetidis taedas uoluit celebrare iugalis.

Then the Father of Gods with his holy wife and children
arrived from heaven, leaving you only, Phoebus,
along with your sibling, haunter of Idrus’ mountains,
since you and your sister both equally scorned Peleus
and would not attend the wedding of him and Thetis.

  • 18 Townend G. B., art. cit., p. 25 with n. 18, states the scholarly aporia; for previous versions and (...)
  • 19 Benjamin Acosta-Hughes suggested in the discussion that there might be discovered an even more inge (...)

11The reason for their absence is not stated explicitly by the narrator.18 It may be read as a further dark hint at the imminent Trojan war, when the future son of the couple, Achilles, will be slain by Paris with the help of Apollo. The absence of Apollo and his sister could thus be explained as a tactful gesture towards the future parents. The surprisingly emotional phrasing of the siblings’ refusal to take part in the wedding seems however to imply a stronger motive, perhaps a disdain for the incongruous match between a goddess and a mere mortal. Yet in the light of the substantial allusions to the Hymn to Delos in this section of the poem, there might also be another explanation: Do Apollo and Artemis still resent Thessaly and its ruler because it is the land of Ares that rejected their mother? Here Catullus may once more engage his readers in a complex intertextual game. In the earliest versions of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, it is Apollo who sings the wedding hymn and foretells the future, whereas in later versions he is replaced by Chiron or the Muses. Again deviating from all the previous versions, Catullus has the Fates (Parcae) sing the wedding hymn and prophesy the future deeds of Achilles in the Trojan war. By explicitly removing Apollo from the scene, Catullus perhaps not only draws attention to his innovation within the story of the wedding, but also to his pointed reversal of the situation in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos, where Apollo had delivered prophecies from his mother’s womb even before he was born.19

  • 20 See Bing P., The Well-Read Muse: Present and Past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic Poets, Götting (...)

12Once the case for an intertextual connection to the Hymn to Delos has been established through verbal and thematic links, our task as readers is not yet complete. We should go beyond the technical level and ask what this implies for the larger context and the interpretation of Catullus’ poem. In Callimachus’ Hymn, Thessaly is the domain of Ares, the violent, chaotic force that opposes Apollo and his new world order. The birth of Apollo brings peace and harmony to the universe, but still his enemies have to be defeated, as Apollo stresses by referring to the future king Ptolemy Philadelphus and their joint victory over the Gauls. The panegyric character of the Hymn to Delos and its close connections to Ptolemaic ruler-ideology and to Egyptian concepts as well as its metaliterary significance for Callimachean poetics are well-known and do not need to be expounded here.20 We may wonder what Catullus makes of the political dimension of his model, provided that he was not just interested in geography and ignored everything else.

  • 21 On this narratological feature in Catullus 64 in relation to Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos and his twe (...)
  • 22 On Catullus’ Achilles as a reworking of his problematic aspects in Homer and tragedy see Stoevesand (...)
  • 23 Herrmann L., “Le poème 64 de Catulle et Vergile,” REL 8, 1930, p. 211-21; see also his article “Le (...)
  • 24 D. Konstan, op. cit., esp. p. 101-5; see also his chapter “The Contemporary Political Context,” in (...)
  • 25 Nelis D. P., art. cit., has made this important point especially with reference to poem 64. General (...)

13The most obvious formal parallel is the substantial prophecy contained in both texts.21 But whereas the Hymn to Delos features a historical vaticinium ex eventu with clear panegyric overtones, the Fates’ prophecy of Achilles’ deeds in the Trojan war in Catullus 64 is much more ambiguous, the more so as it directly leads into the pessimistic epilogue.22 Nevertheless, also Catullus 64 has been linked to a contemporary political occasion, the marriage between Pompey and Caesar’s daughter Julia. Léon Herrmann once thought it was a panegyric piece written to celebrate the union and the child expected to come forth from it.23 David Konstan retains the historical association but turns it on its head; in his view, Catullus 64 is an ‘indictment of Rome’, a criticism of the imperialistic politics of the two Roman leaders in the pre-civil war era.24 Even if Catullus 64 does not need to be read as a specific political allegory, the kind of complex and subtle political readings that in recent studies have been applied to the reception of Callimachus and other Hellenistic poets in Augustan poetry (and to the Hellenistic poets themselves) can surely be relevant and revealing for Catullus as well.25

  • 26 See especially Marinčič M., “Der Weltaltermythos in Catulls Peleus-Epos (C. 64), der kleine Herakle (...)

14Within two decades after Catullus’ death, the Augustan poets were to adapt the panegyric dimension of Callimachus’ Hymns and especially the Hymn to Delos—also via Catullus 64—in a much more straightforward way in order to praise the new world order established by the emperor-god, as for example Virgil does in an increasingly explicit way from the Eclogues via the Georgics to the prophetic passages of the Aeneid.26 Compared to the Augustan poets, Catullus rather highlights the negative aspects of the subtext that help to shape his dark vision of history. Although his Thessaly is no longer a primeval land of chaos, but a highly civilized urban setting with traits of contemporary Rome, the optimistic evolutionary line suggested by the Hymn to Delos has been pointedly reversed: After Thessaly the world will fall back again into the chaos of war and civil war. At the horizon there appears no shining saviour figure like Ptolemy or Augustus, but only the fratricidal conflict between Caesar and Pompey.

3. The Thessalian excursus in Lucan’s Bellum civile in the light of Catullus and Callimachus

  • 27 On the conflation of Pharsalus and Philippi and the play with αἷμα in both Emathiam and Haemi see r (...)
  • 28 So also Newman J. K., op. cit., p. 219-21, and Marinčič M., art. cit., p. 499f.; cf. also Nelis D.  (...)

15In order to further corroborate the link of Catullus 64 with Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos, I propose to look back at Catullus’ poem from the perspective of two of its most prominent readers in antiquity, Virgil and Lucan. In Virgil’s Georgics, Thessaly is a post-civil war landscape that still bears the scars of the recent battles at Pharsalus and Philippi. In the epilogue to the first book, the narrator foretells that future farmers will plough up the weapons and bones of the civil war dead in the killing fields of Thessaly (1, 489–497). This passage not only stains Thessaly with Roman blood through etymological wordplay (491f.: nec fuit indignum superis bis sanguine nostro / Emathiam et latos Haemi pinguescere campos),27 but also effects a pointed reversal of the Thessalian fields that had been left untilled by the farmers attending the wedding in Catullus (64, 38–42; see above § 2). This clearly negative reading of Catullus’ at best ambiguous description is confirmed in the immediately following passage, where a hint at the suggestion of civil war in Catullus’ epilogue (64, 397–406) is conflated with another allusion to Catullus’ neglected fields that are this time deserted not by wedding guests but by soldiers heading for civil war (Georg. 1, 505–508).28

  • 29 In my monograph on Lucan’s reception of Greek literature (Krieg und Bürgerkrieg bei Lucan und in de (...)
  • 30 Quotes from Lucan are from the edition by Shackleton Bailey D. R. (ed.), M. Annaei Lucani De bello (...)
  • 31 Zetzel J. E. G., “Two Imitations in Lucan,” CQ 30, 1980, p. 257, who notes the parallel, even recko (...)
  • 32 This has been shown especially by Masters J., Poetry and Civil War in Lucan’s “Bellum Civile, Camb (...)

16In a further accumulation of intertextual layers, Lucan’s Bellum civile finally projects Callimachus’ and Catullus’ mythical Thessaly along with Virgil’s historical Thessaly onto the Roman civil war canvas.29 In book 6, a long excursus on the mythical prehistory of Thessaly (333–412) explains why this land was predestined to become the stage for the bloodiest battle of the Roman civil war at Pharsalus (332: contigit Emathiam, bello quam fata parabant; 413: damnata fatis tellure).30 Right from the beginning of its cultural history it was a breeding place for the seeds of war (395: hac tellure feri micuerunt semina Martis), such as the first ship, the Argo (400f.: prima fretum scindens Pagasaeo litore pinus / terrenum ignotas hominem proiecit in undas)—an unmistakable allusion to the beginning of Catullus 64 (1f.: Peliaco quondam prognatae uertice pinus / dicuntur liquidas Neptuni nasse per undas), which acts as a signal that this text plays an important role for Lucan’s Thessaly.31 Indeed, in the preceding passage in Lucan, we find an extensive catalogue of Thessalian place names with close parallels not only in Catullus but also in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos. The obvious referent from Catullus 64 is Pharsalus as the site of Peleus’ palace and birthplace of Achilles (BC 6, 350: Emathis aequorei regnum Pharsalos Achillis; cf. Catullus 64, 37 [see above § 2] and the address to Peleus as Emathiae tutamen in 324), but significantly enough, about 50% of the names in Lucan are also found in Callimachus, which even constitutes the closest match among all the five texts in the appended table. The observation that Lucan refers to his Latin predecessor as well as to the underlying Greek model in the form of a so-called ‘window-reference’ may be seen as a further confirmation that Catullus, too, used Callimachus’ Hymn as a subtext. Lucan even transfers places that belong to other regions from the surrounding passages of the Hymn such as Argos (H. 4, 73) or Thebes (H. 4, 87f.) to his own Thessaly (BC 6, 356). These apparent geographical ‘errors’ are to be seen as conscious transpositions that serve to associate Lucan’s Thessaly with as many as possible violent myths from the Gigantomachy to the Argonauts, Thebes and the Trojan war.32 Through such intertextual strategies, Lucan’s epic re-mythicizes the historical battlefield of Pharsalus.

17Moreover, Lucan re-introduces the concept of an instable, chaotic landscape that dominates the Hymn to Delos but has left only feeble traces in Catullus. This is not only suggested by the fluid geography of the Thessalian excursus in book 6, where natural features such as mountains and rivers are in conflict with each other, but also by two further passages in book 7, where in the visions of the panicking soldiers at the eve of the battle the mountains seem to be moving (172–174: iam (dubium, monstrisne deum, nimione pavore / crediderint) multis concurrere visus Olympo / Pindus et abruptis mergi convallibus Haemus) and the noise of the fighting is echoed by the surrounding mountainsides and valleys (7, 475–484):

tum stridulus aer
elisus lituis conceptaque classica cornu,
tunc ausae dare signa tubae, tunc aethera tundit
extremique fragor convexa irrumpit Olympi,
unde procul nubes, quo nulla tonitrua durant.
excepit resonis clamorem vallibus Haemus
Peliacisque dedit rursus geminare cavernis,
Pindus agit fremitus Pangaeaque saxa resultant
Oetaeaeque gemunt rupes, vocesque furoris
expavere sui tota tellure relatas.
Then air resounded,
shattered by the trumpets, the call to war declared by horns
then bugles dared to give the signal, then the clamour reaches
the ether and bursts into the dome of furthermost Olympus
—from there the clouds keep far away, no thunders reach so far.
Haemus in re-echoing valleys took up the noise
and gave it back to caves of Pelion to reduplicate,
Pindus drives the roar, Pangaean rocks reverberate,
the crags of Oeta groan: men took fright at the utterances
of their own madness repeated by the entire earth.
  • 33 In the Bellum civile there might be found yet another literary descendant from Callimachus’ Ares an (...)

18The last passage again seems to echo the Hymn to Delos (note the signal mountain Pangaion), where Ares threatens to rip off mountaintops in order to bury the river Peneios under them and makes such a noise with his spear and shield that the whole Thessalian landscape is shaken (H. 4, 133–140):33

ἀλλά οἱ Ἄρης
Παγγαίου προθέλυμνα καρήατα μέλλεν ἀείρας
ἐμβαλέειν δίνῃσιν, ἀποκρύψαι δὲ ῥέεθρα·
ὑψόθε δ᾽ ἐσμαράγησε καὶ ἀσπίδα τύψεν ἀκωκῇ
δούρατος· ἡ δ᾽ ἐλέλιξεν ἐνόπλιον· ἔτρεμε δ᾽ Ὄσσης
οὔρεα καὶ πεδίον Κραννώνιον αἵ τε δυσαεῖς
ἐσχατιαὶ Πίνδοιο, φόβῳ δ᾽ ὠρχήσατο πᾶσα
Θεσσαλίη· τοῖος γὰρ ἀπ᾽ ἀσπίδος ἔβραμεν ἦχος.
But Ares
hoisted the summit of Pangaion from its base and made
as if to heave it onto his waves, scuttling his stream.
And then he roared on high and struck his shield with the point
of his spear, banging a war song on it. The crags of Ossa
trembled, the plain of Krannon and the wind-ravaged
outskirts of Pindos and all Thessaly danced in terror,
such thunder clanged from his shield.
  • 34 This reminds not only of Ares’ violent actions but also of Poseidon’s, who at the beginning of the (...)
  • 35 The whole passage at the beginning of the excursus elaborates the idea that the mountains block Pho (...)

19In Lucan’s poetic vision, too, violence has been deeply embedded in the Thessalian landscape. In primeval times Thessaly was covered by water and emerged only after Hercules split the mountains and caused a giant waterfall (BC 6, 347–349: postquam discessit Olympo / Herculea grauis Ossa manu subitaeque ruinam / sensit aquae Nereus),34 and it has remained a hostile place ever since, surrounded by menacing mountains and wild, bloody streams; the steep mountains even keep the sunlight away. If we take the reference to the new-born beams of Phoebus that are being opposed by Pelion literally (6, 335f.: cum per summa poli Phoebum trahit altior aestas, / Pelion opponit radiis nascentibus umbras), Lucan’s Thessaly is still the land of the war-god who tries to keep the sun-god from his borders,35 just as Ares in the Hymn to Delos had driven Leto and her as yet unborn son away (and just as Apollo had stayed away from the Thessalian wedding in Catullus). In the Hymn to Delos, Ares will eventually be defeated by Apollo, whereas in Lucan, Thessaly has again become a stage for the war-god, and this time, Mars is going to win. (Or is he? After all, as Lucan reminds us in the proem of his epic, the civil wars will pave the way for the Roman emperors and finally for Nero, the new Apollo (1, 48),—but this would be another story…)

  • 36 Martina M., “Lucano, Bellum civile 7, 825-846,” MD 26, 1991, p. 189–92, esp. 192, notes the contraf (...)

20Lucan has thus systematically taken up the ominous hints in Catullus’ description of Thessaly via a detour back to its origins in Callimachus and transferred them explicitly onto the Roman civil war. Catullus’ wedding guests who leave their homes to attend the party at Pharsalus have been replaced by the civil war troops who come together to fight the battle at Pharsalus (a twisted reading of Catullus’ Pharsalum coeunt in 64, 37), and after the battle, in a final ghastly transformation, they turn into the scavengers that flock to Thessaly in order to feast on the corpses of the civil war dead (7, 825–846).36 At the end of book 7, Lucan’s narrator curses Thessaly in an invective that combines motifs from Catullus and Virgil’s Georgics, complete with farmers who will plough up bones and crops fertilized with blood that had better be left alone (7, 847–872). Here Thessaly’s literary metamorphosis into a paradigmatic landscape of horror has finally reached its climax.

4. Conclusion

  • 37 I would like to thank Christophe Cusset for the invitation to the Lyon conference and all the parti (...)

21Both Catullus in poem 64 and Lucan in the Bellum civile allude to the characterization of Thessaly as the land of the war-god in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos in order to highlight their specifically Roman visions of Thessaly as the potential or actual stage of civil war. The relation between the description of Thessaly in Lucan’s civil war epic and in Catullus’ epyllion is therefore not to be seen as a stark contrast between a gothic landscape filled with horrors and an idyllic background for a fairy-tale wedding, but rather as a radical elaboration by the Neronian poet of the gloomy aspects of Catullus’ enigmatic masterpiece37.

Thessaly as a literary landscape

HomerIl. 2 ApolloniusArg. 1 CallimachusH. 4 Catullus 64 Lucan BC6, 333–412
Land:
Emathia/Emathis 324 332, 350
Phthia/Phtioticus 683 112 35
Thessalia/Thessal(ic)us 103; 140 26; 33; 280 333, 402, 409
Mountains/valleys:
Olympus 598 (220) 341, 347
Ossa 598 137 334, 348, 412
Othrys 338
Pelion 744; 757 581 [104]; 118 1; 278 336, 411
Pindus 139 339
Tempe 105 35; 285f. 345
Towns:
{Cieros} {35}
Crannon 138 (cf. H. 6, 77) 36
Larisa 40 104 36 355
Meliboea 717 592 354
Pharsalos 37 350
Phylace 695; 700 45 352
Trachin 682 353
Pteleos*) 594 / 697 352
Dorion* 594 352
Argos* 559 / 681 118 73 356
Thebae* 87; 88 356
Rivers/islands:
[Achelous] 363f.
Aeas 361
Amphrysos 54 (cf. H. 2, 48) 368
Anauros 9 103 370
Apidanos 36; 38 (cf. H. 1, 14) 373
Asopos* 117 78 374
Enipeus 38 373
Euhenos 366
Melas (cf. H. 1, 23) 374
Peneius 752f.; 757 105; 112; 121; 128; 148 285 372, 377
Phoenix 374
Spercheos 367
Titaressos 751 65 376
[Inachus]* 74 363
Echinades 625f. 155 364
{Scyros} {35}
Matches with Lucan 10 13 14 (+ 3) 7 32

[ ]: paraphrase ; { }: variant reading or conjecture ; *: geographical transposition / association of homonyms

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Note

1 The bibliography on Catullus 64 is huge; in the following I quote only key publications that are crucial to my argument. The monographs by Schmale M., Bilderreigen und Erzähllabyrinth: Catulls Carmen 64, Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 212, Munich and Leipzig, De Gruyter, 2004, and by Fernandelli M., Catullo e la rinascita dell’ epos. Dal carme 64 all’ Eneide, Spudasmata 142, Hildesheim, G. Olms, 2012, extensively cover the main issues involved in the interpretation of the poem. Unfortunately, I was not able to consult the commentary by Nuzzo G. (ed.), Gaio Valerio Catullo. Epithalamium Thetidis et Pelei (c. LXIV), Hermes 3, Palermo, Palumbo, 2003.

2 On the problems involved in the concept of epyllion as a genre see my discussion of various approaches in my contribution “Narrative Hexameter Poetry,” in A Companion to Hellenistic Literature, J. J. Clauss and M. Cuypers (eds.), Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, p. 151-165, and more recently the editors’ “Short Introduction to the Ancient Epyllion,” in Brill’s Companion to Greek and Latin Epyllion and Its Reception, M. Baumbach and S. Bär (eds.), Leiden, Brill, 2012, p. ix-xvi, a volume which exhibits a very broad approach by including examples from early Greek poetry to late antiquity and beyond. Specifically on Catullus 64 as a model case for the definition of epyllion in the history of scholarship see Trimble G., “Catullus 64: The Perfect Epyllion?,” in M. Baumbach and S. Bär (eds.), op. cit., p. 55-79.

3 Among the various intertextual threads that link Catullus 64 with earlier texts I focus here on Callimachus and Apollonius; for Catullus’ reception of these two Hellenistic poets in poem 64 see recently Clare R. J., “Catullus 64 and the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius: Allusion and Exemplarity,” PCPhS 42, 1996, p. 60-88, DeBrohun J. B., “Catullan Intertextuality: Apollonius and the Allusive Plot of Catullus 64,” in A Companion to Catullus, Skinner M. B. (ed.), Malden, Blackwell, 2007, p. 293–313, and Fernandelli M., op. cit., passim. On the importance of Callimachus for Catullus in general and especially his longer poems (61–68) see also Knox P. E., “Catullus and Callimachus,” in M. B. Skinner (ed.), op. cit., p. 151-71, Höschele R., “Catullus’ Callimachean Hair-itage and the Erotics of Translation,” RFIC 137, 2009, p. 118-52, and Nelis D. P., “Callimachus in Verona: Catullus and Alexandrian Poetry,” in Catullus. Poems, Books, Readers, I. Du Quesnay and A. Woodman (eds.), Cambridge, CUP, 2012, p. 1–28.

4 On the nostalgic character of poem 64 see e.g. Harmon D. P., “Nostalgia for the Age of Heroes in Catullus 64,” Latomus 32, 1973, p. 311-31, Fitzgerald W., Catullan Provocations: Lyric Poetry and the Drama of Position, Classics and Contemporary Thought 1, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1995, p. 140-68 (Ch. 6: “Gazing at the Golden Age: Belatedness and Mastery in Catullus 64”), and Munich M., “The Texture of the Past: Nostalgia and Catullus 64,” in Being There Together. Essays in Honor of Michael C. Putnam on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, P. Thibodeau and H. Haskell (eds.), Afton, Afton Historical Society Press, 2003, p. 43–65.

5 Ironical or ambiguous readings of the poem have notably been proposed by Curran L. C., “Catullus 64 and the Heroic Age,” YClS 21, 1969, p. 169-92, and Bramble J. C., “Structure and Ambiguity in Catullus LXIV,” PCPhS 16, 1970, p. 22-41; see also Konstan D., Catullus’ Indictment of Rome: The Meaning of Catullus 64, Amsterdam, A. M. Hakkert, 1977, and Schmidt E. A., Catull, Heidelberger Studienhefte zur Altertumswissenschaft, Heidelberg, C. Winter, 1985, p. 77-86.

6 This might appear as a typically postmodern reading, which however fits well the aesthetics of an elliptical and sometimes even contradictory style of narrative that seems to have been one of the hallmarks of Hellenistic epyllia (as I argue in my paper “(Re)constructing Myth: Elliptical Narrative in Hellenistic and Latin Poetry,” in Hellenistic Studies at a Crossroads: Exploring Texts, Contexts and Metatexts, R. Hunter, A. Rengakos and E. Sistakou (eds.), Trends in Classics. Suppl. Vol. 25, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2014, p. 113-32; cf. also Townend G. B., “The Unstated Climax of Catullus 64,” G&R 30, 1983, p. 21-30). On the ambiguities inherent in Catullus 64 see especially Gaisser J. H., “Threads in the Labyrinth: Competing Views and Voices in Catullus 64,” AJPh 116, 1995, p. 579-616 (reprinted in Gaisser J. H. [ed.], Catullus, Oxford Readings in Classical Studies, Oxford, OUP, 2007, p. 217-60), the narratological analysis by Bartels A., Vergleichende Studien zur Erzählkunst des römischen Epyllion, Göttingen, Duehrkohp & Radicke, 2004, p. 17-60, O’Hara J. J., Inconsistency in Roman Epic: Studies in Catullus, Lucretius, Vergil, Ovid and Lucan, Roman Literature and Its Contexts, Cambridge, CUP, 2007, p. 33-54, and the overviews in Schmale M., op. cit., p. 17-44, and Fernandelli M., op. cit., p. XVII-XXXIV.

7 On the various versions see Reitzenstein R., “Die Hochzeit des Peleus und der Thetis,” Hermes 35, 1900, p. 73-105, esp. 86, who claims that Catullus (or his Alexandrian source) was the first and only poet to locate the wedding at Pharsalus; Pontani F., “Catullus 64 and the Hesiodic Catalogue: A Suggestion,” Philologus 144, 2000, p. 267-76, esp. 270, finds a possible precedent for the location at Peleus’ palace in the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women. For the interpretation it does not matter whether the transmitted reading Pharsaliam or Pontanus’ conjecture Pharsalum is accepted in 64, 37; for a recent defence of the unusual scansion Pharsaliam see Heslin P. J., “The Scansion of Pharsalia (Catullus 64.37; Statius, Achilleid 1.152; Calpurnius Siculus 4.101),” CQ 47, 1997, p. 588-93, who by the way dates Catullus 64 before 48 BC.

8 Jerome’s questionable dating of Catullus’ life from 87–58 BC is usually adjusted to 84-54 BC. or 82-52 BC, but other solutions are possible as well (cf. Gaisser J. H., Catullus, Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, p. 2). E.g., Wheeler A. L., Catullus and the Traditions of Ancient Poetry, Sather Classical Lectures 9, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1934, p. 89f., assuming a scribal error, extends the date to 47 BC, while Newman J. K., Roman Catullus and the Modification of the Alexandrian Sensibility, Hildesheim, Weidmann, 1990, p. 180f. and 217–24, dates poem 29 to the forties and hints at a possible civil-war context for poem 64 as well, although he defines the effect of Pharsalia mainly in retrospect (esp. p. 221, 223, 407). Cf. also Nelis D. P., art. cit., p. 24 with n. 85, and below on political readings of Catullus 64.

9 Fernandelli M., op. cit., p. 199-203, devotes a brief chapter to Catullus 64 and the Hymn to Delos, which came to my attention after I had worked out my own hypothesis; although in contrast to mine, his approach is mainly narratological, I am happy to find that he, too, sees in Callimachus’ hymn a crucial intertext for Catullus 64.

10 See Schmale M., op. cit., p. 79-89.

11 See the appended table with Thessalian place names in Homer, Apollonius, Callimachus, Catullus and Lucan.

12 Catullus’ text is quoted from Mynors R. A. B. (ed.), C. Valerii Catulli Carmina, Scriptorum classicorum bibliotheca Oxoniensis, Oxford, OUP, 1958 (variant readings shall be discussed if relevant to the present argument), Callimachus’ text from Pfeiffer R. (ed.), Callimachus. II, Hymni et Epigrammata, Oxford, OUP, 1953. Translations (sometimes slightly adapted) are from Green P. (transl.), The Poems of Catullus. A Bilingual Edition, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2005, and F. Nisetich F. (transl.), The Poems of Callimachus, Oxford, OUP, 2001.

13 In line 35, Meineke’s conjecture Cieros is accepted by most editors instead of Scyros, which has been transmitted in various guises in the manuscript tradition (it is however defended by Ellis R., A Commentary on Catullus, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1876, p. 235f., Friedrich G., Catulli Veronensis Liber, Sammlung wissenschaftlicher Kommentare zu griechischen und römischen Schriftstellern, Leipzig and Berlin, B. G. Teubner, 1908, p. 332–334, and Giangrande G., “Catullus 64.35,” LCM 1, 1976, p. 111f.). On the textual problems see also Trappes-Lomax J. M., Catullus: A Textual Reappraisal, Swansea, The Classical Press of Wales, 2007, p. 174f. Neither of the two names is found in Callimachus; while Cieros is an obscure Thessalian town mentioned by Strabo (9, 435), the more distant island of Scyros would constitute an allusion to the myth of Achilles, the newlyweds’ future son, and thus import into Catullus’ Thessaly the kind of associative geography that we will find again in Lucan (see below § 3).

14 The Hymn to Delos has been mentioned as a potential model by Perrotta G., “Il carme 64 di Catullo e i suoi pretesi originali ellenistici,” in G. Perrotta, Scritti minori. I, Cesare, Catullo, Orazio e altri saggi, B. Gentili, G. Morelli and G. Serrao (eds), Filologia e critica 11, Roma, Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1972, p. 63–147, esp. 75-8 (originally 1931); see also Syndikus H. P., Catull: Eine Interpretation. II, Die grossen Gedichte (61–68), Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001, p. 130 n. 126, Lefèvre E., “Alexandrinisches und Catullisches im Peleus-Epos,” Hermes 128, 2000, p. 181-201, esp. 183f. (I however disagree with his hypothesis that Catullus has ‘contaminated’ two ‘original’ Alexandrian poems), and Fernandelli M., op. cit., p. 199–203 and 255f. n. 366. Specifically on 64, 35 and H. 4, 112 see after Ellis R., op. cit., p. 236, and Riese A. (ed.), Die Gedichte des Catullus, Leipzig, B. G. Teubner, 1884, p. 159, also Friedrich G., op. cit., p. 333, Kroll W. (ed.), C. Valerius Catullus, 5th ed., Griechische und lateinische Schriftsteller, Ausgaben mit Anmerkungen, Stuttgart, Teubner, 1968, p. 149, Fordyce C. J., Catullus, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1961, p. 283, and Thomson D. F. S. (ed.), Catullus, Phoenix. Suppl. Vol. 34, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1997, p. 399 ad loc.

15 For the term see Wills J., “Divided Allusion: Virgil and the Coma Berenices,” HSPh 98, 1998, p. 277-305.

16 On the moving landscape in the Hymn to Delos see Nishimura-Jensen J. M., “Unstable Geographies: The Moving Landscape in Apollonius’ Argonautica and Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos,” TAPhA 130, 2000, p. 287-317; Σιστάκου Ε., Η γεωγραφία του Καλλίμαχου και η νεωτερική ποίηση των ελληνιστικών χρόνων, Athens, Μορφωτικό Ίδρυμα Εθνικής Τραπέζης, 2005, p. 115-135, esp. 124-7; Harder M. A., “Callimachus,” in De Jong I. J. F. (ed.), Space in Ancient Greek Literature, Mnemosyne. Suppl. 339, Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative 3, Leiden, Brill, 2012, p. 77-98, esp. 94-6; Klooster J., “Visualizing the Impossible: The Wandering Landscape in the Delos Hymn of Callimachus,” Aitia 2, 2012.

17 On the textual problems see the overview in Rebelo Gonçalves F., “Nova Leitura de Um Verso de Catulo (64, 287),” Euphrosyne 2, 1959, p. 77-93, Syndikus H. P., op. cit., p. 173f. n. 302, and Trappes-Lomax J. M., op. cit., p. 197-9. Meliasin is preferred also by Friedrich G., op. cit., p. 373f. ad loc. Among other conjectures, Haupt’s Naiasin and Lenchantin’s Peneisin would also refer to nymphs, while Heinsius’ Haemonisin is usually understood as Thessalian women, but could perhaps also denote the local nymphs; in H. 4, 109 Leto appeals to the νύμφαι Θεσσαλίδες, Peneios’ daughters (cf. Riese A., op. cit., p. 185 ad loc.). As Massimo Giuseppetti suggested in the discussion, perhaps also the transmitted reading doris, which Aldus corrected to claris, could be defended as an allusion to the (fragmentary) line H. 4, 177b starting with Δ̣ω̣ρι […], which presumably described the ritual Septerion, where Dorian boys (177a) brought laurel branches in the so-called Daphnephoria from the Tempe valley to Delphi in commemoration of Apollo’s purification after his victory over the Python (cf. also Call., frag. 86-89 and frag. 194, 34 Pf.)—which is incidentally also mentioned by Lucan in his Thessalian excursus (BC 6, 407-409).

18 Townend G. B., art. cit., p. 25 with n. 18, states the scholarly aporia; for previous versions and various explanations of Catullus’ choice see Schmale M., op. cit., p. 98–100, and Fernandelli M., op. cit., p. 280-8.

19 Benjamin Acosta-Hughes suggested in the discussion that there might be discovered an even more ingenious allusion to the last line of the Hymn to Delos (326), where it is not clear whether Artemis is included in the hymnic envoy or not—Apollo’s sister is thus as it were absent already in the hymn. On sibling rivalry as a leitmotif in Callimachus’ Hymns 2, 3 and 4 see Ambühl A., Kinder und junge Helden: Innovative Aspekte des Umgangs mit der literarischen Tradition bei Kallimachos, Hellenistica Groningana 9, Leuven, Peeters, 2005, p. 233-5, 275-84, 311-3, with further references.

20 See Bing P., The Well-Read Muse: Present and Past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic Poets, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Hypomnemata 90, 1988, p. 91–143, and Stephens S. A., Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria, Hellenistic Culture and Society 37, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2003, p. 114–21. Sier K., “Die Peneios-Episode des kallimacheischen Deloshymnos und Apollonios von Rhodos: Zur Datierung des dritten Buchs der Argonautika,” in Callimachus, M. A. Harder, R. F. Regtuit and G. C. Wakker (eds.), Hellenistica Groningana 1, Gröningen, E. Forsten, p. 177-95, proposes a metaliterary reading of the Peneios episode.

21 On this narratological feature in Catullus 64 in relation to Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos and his twelfth Iamb see Fernandelli M., op  cit., p. 158f., 201-3, 321-5.

22 On Catullus’ Achilles as a reworking of his problematic aspects in Homer and tragedy see Stoevesandt M., “Catull 64 und die Ilias: Das Peleus-Thetis-Epyllion im Lichte der neueren Homer-Forschung,” WJA 20, 1994/1995, p. 167–205, and Schmale M., op. cit., p. 232-57.

23 Herrmann L., “Le poème 64 de Catulle et Vergile,” REL 8, 1930, p. 211-21; see also his article “Le poème LXIV de Catulle et l’actualité,” Latomus 26, 1967, p. 27-34. For a critical evaluation of Herrmann’s arguments see Nelis D. P., art. cit., p. 13f., and Hardie P., “Virgil’s Catullan Plots,” in I. Du Quesnay and T. Woodman (eds.), op. cit., p. 212-38, esp. 216f.

24 D. Konstan, op. cit., esp. p. 101-5; see also his chapter “The Contemporary Political Context,” in M. B. Skinner (ed.), op. cit., p. 72-91, esp. 79f., where he places poem 64 in the wider political context of the 50s BC.

25 Nelis D. P., art. cit., has made this important point especially with reference to poem 64. Generally on the reception of Callimachus at Rome see recently Hunter R., The Shadow of Callimachus. Studies in the Reception of Hellenistic Poetry at Rome, Roman Literature and Its Contexts, Cambridge, CUP, 2006, and Acosta-Hughes B. and Stephens S. A., Callimachus in Context: From Plato to the Augustan Poets, Cambridge, CUP, 2012, p. 204-74.

26 See especially Marinčič M., “Der Weltaltermythos in Catulls Peleus-Epos (C. 64), der kleine Herakles (Theokr. Id. 24) und der römische ‘Messianismus’ Vergils,” Hermes 129, 2001, p. 484-504, who interprets Eclogue 4 (that has often been read as a specific political allegory, too) as Virgil’s more optimistic answer to Catullus’ pessimistic poem 64 and places both in the tradition of Hellenistic literary vaticina such as Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos and Theocritus’ Heracliscus (Id. 24). On Virgil’s reception of Catullus 64 see recently also Fernandelli M., op. cit., p. 328–38, and on its political dimension Nelis D. P., art. cit., p. 19-26, and Hardie P., art. cit., p. 216-20.

27 On the conflation of Pharsalus and Philippi and the play with αἷμα in both Emathiam and Haemi see recently Nelis D. P., “Vergil, Georgics 1.489-92: More Blood?,” PLLS 14, 2009, p. 133-5.

28 So also Newman J. K., op. cit., p. 219-21, and Marinčič M., art. cit., p. 499f.; cf. also Nelis D. P., art. cit., 2012, p. 21-4.

29 In my monograph on Lucan’s reception of Greek literature (Krieg und Bürgerkrieg bei Lucan und in der griechischen Literatur: Studien zur Rezeption der attischen Tragödie und der hellenistischen Dichtung im „Bellum civile“, Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 225, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2015), I study the intertextual dimension of Lucan’s Thessaly more fully. On Lucan’s reworking of the Georgics see Paratore E., “Virgilio georgico e Lucano,” ASNP 12, 1943, p. 40-69, Nicolai R., “La Tessaglia lucanea e il rovesciamento del Virgilio augusteo,” MD 23, 1989, p. 119–34, and the brief discussion of Thessaly in Papaioannou S., “Landscape Architecture on Pastoral Topography in Lucan’s Bellum Civile,” Trends in Classics 4, 2012, p. 73-110, esp. 94.

30 Quotes from Lucan are from the edition by Shackleton Bailey D. R. (ed.), M. Annaei Lucani De bello civili libri X, ed. altera, Stuttgart and Leipzig, B. G. Teubner, 1997; the translation is from Braund S.H. (transl.), Lucan: Civil War, The World’s Classics, Oxford, OUP, 1992.

31 Zetzel J. E. G., “Two Imitations in Lucan,” CQ 30, 1980, p. 257, who notes the parallel, even reckons with an unconscious reminiscence, which seems highly unlikely in view of the complex literary composition of Lucan’s catalogue.

32 This has been shown especially by Masters J., Poetry and Civil War in Lucan’s “Bellum Civile, Cambridge Classical Studies, Cambridge, CUP, 1992, p. 150-78. For textual details see also Korenjak M., Die Ericthoszene in Lukans „Pharsalia“. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar, Studien zur klassischen Philologie 101, Frankfurt am Main, P. Lang, 1996.

33 In the Bellum civile there might be found yet another literary descendant from Callimachus’ Ares and his colleague Iris, who in the Hymn to Delos keep watch on mountaintops in order to scare Leto away (H. 4, 61–69); Ares specifically sits on Mt. Haemus in neighbouring Thracia (63: ἥμενος ὑψηλῆς κορυφῆς ἔπι Θρήικος Αἵμου). When Sextus Pompey comes to Thessaly, he likewise finds the witch Erictho sitting on the outskirts of Mt. Haemus in order to lure the civil war to Pharsalus (575f.: conspexere procul praerupta in caute sedentem, / qua iuga devexus Pharsalica porrigit Haemus). This super-human figure thus re-imports a touch of Callimachean mythology into Lucan’s notoriously godless epic.

34 This reminds not only of Ares’ violent actions but also of Poseidon’s, who at the beginning of the Hymn to Delos splits the islands from the mountains (H. 4, 30-33: ἢ ὡς τὰ πρώτιστα μέγας θεὸς οὔρεα θείνων / ἄορι τριγλώχινι τό οἱ Τελχῖνες ἔτευξαν / νήσους εἰναλίας εἰργάζετο, νέρθε δὲ πάσας / ἐκ νεάτων ὤχλισσε καὶ εἰσεκύλισε θαλάσσῃ;). This passage finds another echo in the cultural history of Thessaly at the end of Lucan’s excursus, where the war-horse is born from rocks split by the sea-god’s trident (BC 6, 396-398: primus ab aequorea percussis cuspide saxis / Thessalicus sonipes, bellis feralibus omen, / exiluit, …).

35 The whole passage at the beginning of the excursus elaborates the idea that the mountains block Phoebus from Thessaly (BC 6, 333–340): Thessaliam, qua parte diem brumalibus horis / attollit Titan, rupes Ossaea coercet; / cum per summa poli Phoebum trahit altior aestas, / Pelion opponit radiis nascentibus umbras; / at medios ignes caeli rapidique Leonis / solstitiale caput nemorosus summouet Othrys. / excipit aduersus Zephyros et Iapyga Pindus / et maturato praecidit uespere lucem.

36 Martina M., “Lucano, Bellum civile 7, 825-846,” MD 26, 1991, p. 189–92, esp. 192, notes the contrafacture, which is signalled by structural and verbal correspondences (Catullus 64, 35: deseritur, linquunt, 37: coeunt; 279, 299: aduenit, 287, 299: (re)linquens – Lucan, BC 7, 826: venere, 827: liquere, 829: deseruere, 832: conveniunt), but overemphasizes the contrast between Catullus’ allegedly idyllic and Lucan’s horrific Thessaly. See also Gioseffi M., “La deprecatio lucanea sui cadaveri insepolti a Farsalo (b. civ. VII 825–846),” BStudLat 25, 1995, p. 501-20, esp. 503f.

37 I would like to thank Christophe Cusset for the invitation to the Lyon conference and all the participants for the stimulating discussion.

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Annemarie Ambühl, « Epyllion as idyll or enigma? Thessaly as a mythico-literary landscape of war in Catullus 64 and in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos », Aitia [Online], 6 | 2016, Messo online il 17 giugno 2016, consultato il 25 febbraio 2017. URL : http://aitia.revues.org/1459 ; DOI : 10.4000/aitia.1459

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Annemarie Ambühl

Leiden University / Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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