The Dynamics of Space in Moschus’ Europa
Moschus’ Europa is set in a paradisiac landscape where the erotic encounter between a young maiden and a god disguised as a bull is perfectly possible. Three symbolic spaces, the chamber, the meadow and the sea are the foil to the story of Europa’s affair with Zeus, thus providing the key to the interpretation of the entire poem. The aim of the paper is to explore how space in combination with time, what we might call the poem’s chronotope, is consistent with its generic quality, to discuss the spatial organization of the narrative and then give a detailed analysis of the poem’s spaces and to associate space with the actual plot by focusing on the dramatic potential stemming from the spatial structuring of Moschus’ Europa.
Mots clés :espace, epyllion, ekphrasis, Europè de Moschos, chronotope, prairie, hic et nunc, rite de passage, jardin
Keywords :epyllion, ecphrasis, Moschus’ Europa, space, chronotope, meadow, hic et nunc, rite de passage, garden
Parole Chiave :spazio, epillio, L’Europa di Mosco, cronotopo, prato, hic et nunc, ecphrasis, rito di passaggio, giardino
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- 1 Several art historians, among which Fraenger W., The Millennium of Hieronymus Bosch, Chicago, UCP, (...)
1At the turn of the sixteenth century the Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch painted a triptych known today under the title The Garden of Earthly Delights. In the central panel Bosch illustrates his idea of what an earthly paradise might look like. A green garden lush with grass and trees run by crystal-clear waters and replete with all kinds of real or imaginary animals, birds, fish, fruit and vegetables forms the background against which numerous nude human figures are given over to sensual pleasures. Innocence is juxtaposed with sexuality, religious symbolism with overt eroticism, childlike joy with unbridled lust in a Golden Age setting depicted with vibrant colours of green, blue and pink. Bosch portrays a Paradise Lost where men and animals live in harmony with nature and at the same time a dreamscape where various creatures and different species freely mingle with each other.1
2Moschus’ Europa is set in a similar paradisiac landscape where the erotic encounter between a young maiden and a god disguised as a bull is perfectly possible. The flowery meadow, the foil to the story of Europa’s affair with Zeus, provides the key to the interpretation of the entire poem. Within this context, space in Moschus’ narrative is of outmost importance and therefore merits closer attention. In the first part of this paper I will explore how space, in combination with time, what we might call the poem’s chronotope, is consistent with its generic quality. In the second part I will discuss the spatial organization of the narrative and then give a detailed analysis of the poem’s spaces. My final aim is to associate space with the actual plot by focusing on the dramatic potential stemming from the spatial structuring of Moschus’ Europa.
- 2 Crump M. M., The Epyllion from Theocritus to Ovid, Oxford, B. Blackwell, 1931, still offers the bro (...)
- 3 Thus, for example, the editors of the latest Companion to Greek and Latin Epyllion do not vociferou (...)
3Before attempting to answer this question, we must ask ourselves whether the epyllion was sensed as such by Hellenistic poets. It is well known that the term is modern (it dates back to the nineteenth century), but the concept may have been already introduced into poetic practice by the Alexandrians and further refined by the Roman neoterics. Conclusive proof eludes us and the range of the poems that may be categorized as epyllia is hotly debated.2 Yet modern scholarship is reluctant to totally deny its existence as a literary genre; on the contrary it tacitly accepts a distinct narrative form which incorporates the very idea of Callimachean λεπτότης, through a combination of distinguishing features—brevity, preference for marginal myths, episodic narration, lightness of tone, emphasis on detail, aetiological framing, excessive sentimentality, psychological realism.3
- 4 Sistakou E., “‘Snapshots’ of Myth: The Notion of Time in Hellenistic Epyllion,” in Narratology and (...)
- 5 The term is introduced by Bakhtin M. M., The Dialogic Imagination, ed. by M. Holquist and transl. b (...)
4By and large, then, the epyllion remains a working hypothesis for a phantom genre; however we can substantially benefit from reviewing Hellenistic short narratives in the light of their common characteristics which we may consider as typical. As I have argued elsewhere, the epyllia—at least those widely recognized as the epitome of the genre, i.e. Callimachus’ Hecale, Theocritus’ Little Heracles and Moschus’ Europa—focus on a central episode, the snapshot, during which fabula-time almost freezes, thus allowing the dynamics of the «here and now» to emerge.4 The premise upon which the present paper is based is that space in the epyllion follows a similar pattern to that of time. To focus on a unique event presupposes a fixed space as setting which enhances the dynamics of the moment, of the single narrated episode. The idea that in the epyllion, at least in some representative samples of the genre, time and space have a supplementary function suggests the existence of a generically laden chronotope—to use Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the spatio-temporal interconnectedness inherent in each type of narrative.5
- 6 Cf. Sistakou E., “‘Snapshots’ of Myth,” op. cit., p. 318–9.
- 7 A detailed analysis of space in the Homeric epics in De Jong I. J. F. (ed.), Space in Ancient Greek (...)
5Time in the epyllion comes to a standstill as the narrative focuses on a minor event from the life of a god or a hero, which outshines his main epic achievement.6 In this sense the epyllion offers an alternative to the themes of epic. Is it plausible to suppose that the epyllic space provides alternatives to epic spaces too? The answer is definitely positive, if we consider the settings of numerous epyllia. In fact these fall into roughly three categories: the bucolic setting (pastoral in Theocritus’ Hylas and agricultural in Pseudo-Theocritus’ Heracles the Lionslayer), the domestic setting (bourgeois in Theocritus’ Little Heracles and Pseudo-Bion’s Epithalamium for Achilles and Deidameia, of the lower-class in Callimachus’ Hecale) and the exotic setting (the sea in Philetas’ Hermes, a far-off barbaric land in Theocritus’ Dioscuri). As a contrast, plot in the heroic epic is set on the battlefield, in front of a city’s walls, in the barracks, in the palace, or in divine kingdoms such as Olympus and Hades and, of course, in the imaginary places of Odysseus’ wanderings.7
- 8 The chronotope of the epyllion bears a striking resemblance with what Bakhtin terms “the idyllic ch (...)
6The authors of the Hellenistic epyllia clearly avoid the spatial grandeur of the epics. Space in the epyllion may be seen as a synthesis of the mythological and the everyday, the idealized and yet realistic, the imaginary but still familiar, situated somewhere between a non-existent neverland and our world. This assumption is reinforced by the fact that descriptive digressions, not only ecphraseis but also impressions of works of arts, acquire a key role in the spatio-temporal organization of the epyllic narrative. It is impossible to give a single characterization to the chronotope of the epyllion—all the more so since it is not a closed genre as compared, for example, to ancient Greek novel—and Bakhtinian taxonomy is only partly applicable to this hypothetical genre.8 Nevertheless we cannot deny the interdependency of time and space in the epyllic narrative nor ignore the thematic contrasts which form the basis of many epyllia. On a chronotopic level there is a constant conflict between what is static/achronical and what is shifting/developing, and the transition from one to the other is marked by the dynamic of the moment and the crossing of a threshold.
7Moschus’ Europa aptly expresses this conflict. The core of the poem, the earthly paradise and the descriptive digression about Europa’s basket which depicts the myth of Io, bring to the fore the static and achronical quality of the genre; yet the reader is aware of the linear development of the plot from Europa’s dream towards her destined marriage to Zeus and the shifting tableaux that accentuate this plot; eventually, though, it is obvious that Moschus’ epyllion focuses on the dynamics of the encounter between Europa and Zeus which undoubtedly is a borderline experience for the heroine in transforming her both spiritually and emotionally. In what follows I will demonstrate how space contributes to these chronotopic antitheses.
- 9 A great deal of literature about the Europa focuses on exactly this feature: see especially Schmiel (...)
- 10 The Phoenician origin of Europa is only indirectly suggested by reference to her father’s name Phoe (...)
8Any reader of the Europa, no matter how unsophisticated, is struck by its symmetrical composition and formalistic perfection; that Moschus intended to compose a mannered poem to a highly rhetorical effect is clearly visible.9 Even more visible is its constitution of three different tableaux which correspond to three distinct sites: Europa’s dream to the chamber (1–27), the flower gathering and the erotic encounter of Europa and Zeus to the meadow (28–36 and 63–113 respectively) and finally their journey towards Crete—a symbolic marriage-procession—to the sea (114–166). The heart of the poem is the ecphrasis of the basket (37–62), where spatiality acquires the original definition given by Gotthold Lessing in his legendary treatise on the confines of poetry and painting (Laokoon, 1766). Yet the reader also senses that the narrative about Europa and Zeus, which progresses linearly in time, corresponds to the voyage of Europa from her homeland (probably Phoenicia) to Crete, thus symbolizing her predestined transition from Asia to Europe (162–166, cf. ll. 7 and 9).10
- 11 Terms and definitions are introduced by Ryan M.‑L., “Space,” in The Living Handbook of Narratology, (...)
9Of the terminologies used to describe narrative space I have adopted here the terms spatial frames and story space, leaving aside the rather vague concept setting. By spatial frames the immediate surroundings of actual events in a narrative are implied, whereas story space covers the entire space which is relevant to the actual plot plus all the locations mentioned in the words or thoughts of the characters.11 What I will explore here are the three spatial frames where the action of the Europa takes place, namely the chamber, the meadow and the sea, whereas I will also discuss the function of spatial alibis such as Asia, Crete and even Egypt.
- 12 The fine distinction in Buchholz S. and Jahn M., “Space in Narrative,” in Routledge Encyclopedia of (...)
- 13 For Moschus’ Europa I have used the translation by Edmonds J. M., The Greek Bucolic Poets, The Loeb (...)
10An interesting point concerns the spatial organization of these frames. Are they contiguous, in the sense that the characters can freely move from one to the next, or are they discontinuous and distinct once characters can only enter into them under exceptional circumstances?12 My claim is that both are valid in Moschus’ text. Succession and continuity are presupposed, since, if we were asked to visualize the space of this narrative, we would probably conjure up an image of Europa’s house (6: ὑπωροφίοισιν δόμοισι) surrounded by a flowery meadow that is set right on the seashore (34–35: λειμῶνας ἀγχιάλους). The increased mobility of the characters allows them to move easily from one frame to the next: by making a flying leap (28: ἀνόρουσε) Europa jumps out of bed directly to the meadow and then again on the bull’s back (108: νώτοισιν ἐφίζανε), whereas Zeus is equally swift as he rushes into the sea (109: ἄφαρ δ᾽ ἀνεπήλατο ταῦρος, 110: ὠκὺς δ᾽ ἐπὶ πόντον ἵκανεν). There is a strong desire behind the movement of the characters between these sites—Europa longs for her fellow maidens (28: φίλας δ᾽ ἐπεδίζεθ᾽ ἑταίρας), she enjoys the idea of travelling with the bull (103: τερπώμεθα, 108: μειδιόωσα) and Zeus desires to seduce her (110: ἣν θέλεν ἁρπάξας). But, on the other hand, it is fate—and Cypris, of course—that activates the characters and, on a spatial level, sets them in motion (14: μόρσιμον εἷο, 72: οὐ μὲν δηρὸν ἔμελλεν, 162: καὶ τετέλεστο τά περ φάτο). As a result, the characters are both attracted by, and trapped in, the idyllic frames; once the borders are crossed there is no comeback, for Europa will never be able to take the reverse direction, i.e. from the sea via the meadow and into her chamber again (110–112):13
ἣ δὲ μεταστρεφθεῖσα φίλας καλέεσκεν ἑταίρας
χεῖρας ὀρεγνυμένη, ταὶ δ᾽ οὐκ ἐδύναντο κιχάνειν
Then did Europa turn around and stretch forth her hands and call upon her dear companions; but no, they could not come to her… [transl. J. M. Edmonds]
- 14 The irreversibility of Europa’s course is a basic feature of chronotopic concepts of narratives, as (...)
11This is a space of no return, within which each frame is ontologically distinct from the next—and the characters are only able to make the transition from one to the other through the agency of supernatural forces.14
- 15 In linguistics this type of description of a spatial network (for example an apartment with many ro (...)
12Spatial continuity corresponds to temporal sequence in Moschus’ narrative; on the whole the rule of linearity is observed. Moreover, the reader has the impression that the spatial frames are seen from a moving point of view, as if the imaginary viewer (the narrator or the characters/focalizers) takes a walk through the poem’s settings.15 Frames, on the other hand, once revealed, generate specific scenarios. Space is thus thematized; and it seems that desire is the ultimate guide to this peculiar walk through the spaces of Moschus’ Europa.
13Among the three frames of the Europa the chamber is the most elliptically described, whereas, at the same time, it is the most directly related to the concept of the chronotope. The epyllion begins with the fairytale-like ποτέ, denoting a vague point in mythical time. ὄνειρον in the first line clearly anticipates both time and space of the narrative: it is night in a bedchamber. What follows is a Hellenistic designation of time (2: νυκτός) through a complex expression (2–5):
νυκτὸς ὅτε τρίτατον λάχος ἵσταται ἐγγύθι δ᾽ ἠώς,
ὕπνος ὅτε γλυκίων μέλιτος βλεφάροισιν ἐφίζων
λυσιμελὴς πεδάᾳ μαλακῷ κατὰ φάεα δεσμῷ,
εὖτε καὶ ἀτρεκέων ποιμαίνεται ἔθνος ὀνείρων
It was the third watch of the night when it is nigh dawn and the Looser of Limbs comes down honey-sweet upon the eyelids to hold our twin light in gentle bondage, it was at that hour which is the outgoing time of the flock of true dreams… [transl. J. M. Edmonds]
14To the ὅτε of theses lines corresponds τῆμος, which introduces the spatial frame. Europa is sound asleep in a bedroom situated under the roof of the house (6: ὑπωροφίοισιν ἐνὶ κνώσσουσα δόμοισι).
- 16 Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on l. 6 aptly remarks that although the Homeric ὑπερώ (...)
- 17 Cf. Theocr. 14, 39, Call., frag. 202, 52 Pf. and Arat. 1, 970 for the same adjective in different c (...)
15ὑπωρόφιος, a variation of the Homeric ὑπερώϊον, is a spatial marker that evokes Moschus’ epic pretext: it is Penelope’s apartment that occupies the upper part of the palace where she retires to shed tears for Odysseus (Od. 19, 591–604).16 This typically Alexandrian adjective is also found in two similes from Apollonius’ Argonautica where again a woman’s loneliness in her apartment is portrayed (3, 293 and 4, 168).17 The atmosphere of loneliness is supplemented by another key phrase of Moschus’ text, namely Φοίνικος θυγάτηρ ἔτι παρθένος Εὐρώπεια (7). Both the patronymic periphrasis and ἔτι παρθένος are suggestive of the emotional and psychological dimensions of this space. The chamber is a literary laden space in which maidens are haunted by dreams motivated by their desire for marriage. Moschus’ Europa is clearly a reminiscence, or, better, a combination, of the Homeric Nausicaa and the Apollonian Medea, and reference to this specific space is crucial to recognizing the connection. Nausicaa sleeps in a θάλαμον πολυδαίδαλον in the scene of her dream (Od. 6, 15–51), while for Medea λέκτρον, θάλαμος and δόμος serve as a background to her nightmares (3, 616–655). Another literary model, that of the dream of Io from [Aeschylus’] Prometheus (645–657), clearly characterizes the chamber as a παρθενών (646: ἐς παρθενῶνας τοὺς ἐμοὺς).
- 18 Cf. Eur., Med. 41 and 380: σιγῆι δόμους ἐσβᾶσ᾽ ἵν᾽ ἔστρωται λέχος for the marital bed of Jason and (...)
- 19 Jumping out of bed is a common image in archaic and classical poetry, see the passages collected by (...)
- 20 There is one last detail that completes the spatial arrangement of this first scene: it is the actu (...)
16The narrative proceeds with the dream from which Europa wakes up in anguish (8–15). Moschus twice uses the phrase στρωτῶν λεχέων (16, 22) as a specified indication within the framing space of the chamber. στρωτόν λέχος, although generally denoting a bed covered with bedclothes, may also have sexual connotations. Thus Anchises and Aphrodite make love ἐς λέχος εὔστρωτον (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 157) and the same expression is used by Alcaeus for Helen and Menelaus’ bed (fr. 283, 8 L.‑P.: κἄνδρος εὔσ̣τρ̣ω̣τον̣ [λ]έχος).18 Not only lying in bed is a presupposition for a state of dreaming, but also jumping clear of it (16: ἀπὸ μὲν στρωτῶν λεχέων θόρε) is a sign of the emotional turmoil following a dream.19 For the narrator the motive behind this action is fear (16: δειμαίνουσα, 20: δειμαλέην αὐδήν); yet in Europa’s view it is rather sexual excitement (as expressed in her own words 23: ἡδὺ μάλα κνώσσουσαν and 25: ὥς μ’ ἔλαβε κραδίην κείνης πόθος).20 For a while Europa remains seated (on the bed?) to contemplate the meaning of the dream (18: ἑζομένη δ᾽ ἐπὶ δηρόν); eventually with a swift ἀνόρουσε (27) she literally leaps into the next tableau.
- 21 Further enhanced by the numerous iterative verb forms with ‑σκ‑ scattered in the poem (67: θαλέθεσκ (...)
17The narrator delays the reference to the meadow by focusing on Europa’s search for her female companions (28: φίλας δ᾽ ἐπεδίζεθ᾽ ἑταίρας). This carefree company triggers strong associations to her mind. Before entering the meadow in the present, the “here and now” of the epyllion, the heroine recalls past times and other places where she repeatedly has met with her friends. ἀεί suggests not only past activities but the “forever and ever” effect that dominates the poem.21 Spaces of memory become part of the present: places where dances are performed (30: ὅτ᾽ ἐς χορὸν ἐντύνοιτο), rivers where girls bathe (31: ὅτε φαιδρύνοιτο χρόα προχοῇσιν ἀναύρων) and meadows apt for flower-picking (32: ὁπότ᾽ ἐκ λειμῶνος ἐύπνοα λείρι᾽ ἀμέργοι).
- 22 I agree with Kuhlmann (Kuhlmann P., “The Motif of the Rape of Europa: Intertextuality and Absurdity (...)
- 23 The closest parallel is the παρακτίους λειμῶνας, a deserted space of the Trojan beach where Ajax re (...)
- 24 Perhaps a reminiscence of passages evoking eutopic landscapes, cf. Homeric Hymn to Hermes 71–72: ἔν (...)
18Flower-picking is an extremely dangerous activity—so the pretexts of the passage suggest. According to the model scene from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (1–21), the λειμών represents the threat of abduction for a young maiden. Does Moschus live up to the expectations of his readers for an imminent Mädchentragödie? Definitely not.22 Instead pleasure pervades the epyllion’s core space (36: τερπόμεναι ῥοδέῃ τε φυῇ καὶ κύματος ἠχῇ, 64: ἄλλη ἐπ᾽ ἀλλοίοισι τότ᾽ ἄνθεσι θυμὸν ἔτερπον). What is novel in Moschus is its designation as λειμῶνας ἀγχιάλους (34–35).23 Unnaturally positioned right on the seashore, this meadow anticipates Europa and Zeus’ swift escape via the sea, i.e. the third spatial frame of the poem. Yet the plural, “the meadows,” repeated again in l. 63 λειμῶνας ἀνθεμόεντας, adds an achronic dimension to the dramatic space where the epyllic plot unfolds.24
- 25 The catalogue of flowers in Moschus’ epyllion is a reminiscence of both the Homeric Hymn to Demeter(...)
- 26 For a thorough discussion of Europa’s basket, also in the context of the poem’s main spaces, see Ma (...)
- 27 Cf. 39–40 (about Io): ὅτ’ ἐς λέχος Ἐννοσίγαιου / ἤιεν, 164 καί οἱ λέχος ἔντυον Ὧραι.
19Moschus’ meadow is a complex site that features a natural landscape, symbolic objects and an emblematic animal. Not simply a bucolic world in miniature, this meadow brings together traits from literary sites (the seashore where Nausicaa and Odysseus meet in the Odyssey 6 combined with the scene of Persephone’s abduction from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter), agricultural contexts (the everyday life digression on the oxen in ll. 80-83 may be read as a summary of Hesiod’s Works and Days) and idyllic settings (the flowery meadow is ideally represented as a locus amoenus of Theocritean origin in ll. 63-69).25 This pastiche of Homeric, Hesiodic and Theocritean spaces is juxtaposed with two autonomous sites within the confines of the meadow, namely the basket and the bull. The golden basket is obviously both a symbol of Europa’s royal origin—the princess carries a χρύσεον τάλαρον which is contrasted to the plain ἀνθοδόκον τάλαρον of her friends—and an object epitomizing the essence of the flowery meadow.26 Different is the function of the bull whose body serves as a space around, and upon, which the union of Europa and Zeus will take place—an anticipation of their future bridal λέχος.27
20How does Moschus arrange characters and plot within this frame? At the beginning he has the young maidens invade wondrously the open space, as if appearing from nowhere (33: αἳ δέ οἱ αἶψα φάανθεν). Upon arriving at the meadow (63: ἐπεὶ οὖν λειμῶνας ἐς ἀνθεμόεντας ἵκανον), the girls move in different directions (64: ἄλλη ἐπ᾽ ἀλλοίοισι τότ᾽ ἄνθεσι) until they crowd around Europa (69–71):
|ἀτὰρ μέσσῃσιν ἄνασσα|
|ἀγλαΐην πυρσοῖο ῥόδου χείρεσσι λέγουσα|
|οἷά περ ἐν Χαρίτεσσι διέπρεπεν Ἀφρογένεια|
Only their queen in the midst of them culled the glory and delight of the red rose, and was pre-eminent among them even as the Child of the Foam among the Graces… [transl. J. M. Edmonds]
- 28 Apart from the impression that a work of art is echoed here, Moschus obviously reworks a simile abo (...)
21Europa as Aphrodite among the maidens/Graces is intended as a still where space and time freeze (cf. 72: οὐ μὲν δηρὸν ἔμελλεν ἐπ’ ἄνθεσι θυμὸν ἰαίνειν).28 Time becomes less and less significant since the reader is turned into a viewer—of Zeus described as a bull (79–88). Movement resumes once the bull enters the meadow (89: ἤλυθε δ᾽ ἐς λειμῶνα) in the same wondrous manner as the maidens had done before (89: φαανθείς).
- 29 Cf. 91–92 where the fragrance of the bull is more powerfully sensed than the odour of the entire fl (...)
- 30 The formulaic λέχος εἰσανέβαινεν or λέχος εἰσαναβᾶσα is a common euphemism for love-making in Hesio (...)
22In the last part of the scene the narrator monitors the desire of the maidens to approach the bull (90: πάσῃσι δ᾽ ἔρως ἐγένετ’ ἐγγὺς ἱκέσθαι); eventually only Europa succeeds. Literary and metaphorical closeness becomes the quintessence of the unfolding love story. Spatial markers (93: προπάροιθεν, 99: πρὸ ποδοῖν) and deictic indicators (100: δείκνυε, 102: δεῦθ᾽, 102: ἐπὶ τῷδε) highlight the approximation of the two lovers and enhance the sensuality of the scene. Climax is reached when the bull’s body becomes the dominant space,29 where Europa is symbolically seated as if entering the god’s bridal bed (103: ἑζόμεναι ταύρῳ τερπώμεθα, 108: νώτοισιν ἐφίζανε μειδιόωσα).30 At once the bull jumps into the sea (109: ἄφαρ δ᾽ ἀνεπήλατο ταῦρος), distance increases (112: ταὶ δ᾽ οὐκ ἐδύναντο κιχάνειν), and the gap between the meadow and the sea widens as Europa heads towards her destiny (113: πρόσσω θέεν).
23Lines 108–114 monitor the departure of Europa from the seashore, thus marking the transition from the meadow to the sea. The stillness of the previous scene gives way to lightning speed, as the corporeal space, the bull’s back, shifts from a bed for love-making to a dolphin riding the sea waves (113–114):
ἀκτάων δ᾽ ἐπιβὰς πρόσσω θέεν ἠύτε δελφίς,
χηλαῖς ἀβρεκτοῖσιν ἐπ᾽ εὐρέα κύματα βαίνων
Reaching the seashore he rushed forward like a dolphin over the wide waves with hooves unwetted… [transl. J. M. Edmonds]
- 31 Archil., frag. 122, 7–9 W.: μηδ᾽ ἐὰν δελφῖσι θῆρες ἀνταμείψωνται νομὸν / ἐνάλιον, καί σφιν θαλάσσης (...)
- 32 Especially of Hermes in Od. 5, 50–54 and Poseidon in Il. 13, 17–30, on which see Campbell M. (ed.), (...)
24Which scenarios are generated by this new spatial image? Undoubtedly the maritime course of Io the cow from Europe to Asia is evoked, as portrayed in the ecphrasis of the basket (46–47: φοιταλέη δὲ πόδεσσιν ἐφ᾽ ἁλμυρὰ βαῖνε κέλευθα / νηχομένῃ ἰκέλη, κυάνου δ᾽ ἐτέτυκτο θάλασσα). But also a popular topos, the reversal of natural order when incredible events occur. Not only does Moschus allude to the adunaton found in the programmatic idyll of the bucolic corpus (Theocr. 1, 132–136), but the passage has a striking resemblance with Archilochus’ famous paradox according to which dolphins and beasts mutually exchange their habitat.31 The miraculous transformation of the natural space is a manifestation of divine omnipotence; consequently the sea calms down (115: γαληνιάασκε θάλασσα) and the marine animals rejoice in the divine presence (116: κήτεα ἄταλλε, 117: κυβίστεε δελφίς). On the whole the scene is a light-hearted adaptation of sublime epic passages depicting the course of Olympian gods from heaven towards the sea.32
- 33 The artistic emphasis on every type of animal, fish or insect, collectively characterized as an aff (...)
- 34 On the spatial theography in the Iliad, see the excellent discussion in Tsagalis C., From Listeners (...)
- 35 ὑπεὶρ ἅλα in Apollonius suggests sea voyage for any purpose (1, 236; 1, 918; etc.), but in the Odys (...)
25In a flash the open space of the sea becomes a huge playground for the gods, the lesser divinities of the water and the creatures (cf. 116: ἄταλλε, 117: κυβίστεε). Apart from Zeus-the-bull with Europa on his back, Nereids (118–119) and Tritons (122–124), followed by mammals and dolphins, are lead by Poseidon in this imaginary wedding procession (120–122); the graphic detail of the seashells (124: κόχλοισιν ταναοῖς) against this colourful background conjures up artistic representations that reflect the aesthetics of the Hellenistic era.33 In contrast to Homer who places Zeus on the outmost height (the peak of Olympus) and Poseidon in the outmost depth (the bottom of the sea) of the universe,34 Moschus modifies the spatial coordinates of epic by referring to a miraculous interspace in which these same gods move: that existing right on the crest of the waves. The depths of the sea are abandoned as the Nereids rise to the surface of the water (118: Νηρεΐδες δ᾽ ἀνέδυσαν ὑπὲξ ἁλός), a passage strongly evoking the ascending of Thetis and her sisters from their underwater palace in Iliad 18 (35–69). The entire scene is set on this unattainable space, the very top of the waters, as it is repeatedly said (114: ἐπ᾽ εὐρέα κύματα βαίνων, 117: ὑπὲρ οἶδμα, 118: ὑπὲξ ἁλός, 120: ὑπεὶρ ἅλα). Gradually the fantasy realms of the gods, the epic spaces underlying Moschus’ passage, are deconstructed, and the denouement of the scene conjures up the image of a ship sailing across the sea.35
26The climax of the naval imagery is reached when Europa herself is represented as a ship with her crimson peplos as its sail (125–130). Space is from this point on focalized through Europa’s eyes (131–134):
ἣ δ᾽ ὅτε δὴ γαίης ἄπο πατρίδος ἦεν ἄνευθεν,
φαίνετο δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἀκτή τις ἁλίρροθος οὔτ᾽ ὄρος αἰπύ,
ἀλλ᾽ ἀὴρ μὲν ὕπερθεν ἔνερθε δὲ πόντος ἀπείρων,
ἀμφί ἑ παπτήνασα τόσην ἀνενείκατο φωνήν
When she was now far come from the land of her fathers, and could see neither wave-beat shore nor mountain-top, but only sky above and sea without end below, she gazed about her and lift up her voice saying… [transl. J. M. Edmonds]
- 36 Especially by denying the natural adunaton of bulls and dolphins shifting between sea and land (14– (...)
27The moment of self-realization coincides with an emotional take on the poem’s topography. Europa’s gaze is for the first time directed towards the deserted fatherland; in agony she longs for its shores and mountains only to view the huge openness of the sky over the ocean. Now in total isolation from the idyllic sites—the nicely covered bed, the blossoming meadow, the blissful sea—Europa gains an illuminating insight into her experience. Eventually grasping the truth about the divine identity of the bull, she refuses to accept fairytale scenarios and instead seeks rational explanations.36 At this point an existing place, Crete, emerges as the only realistic telos of her adventure.
28The “here and now” of Europa’s love affair with Zeus is not the only world experienced by the heroine. The narrative universe of the epyllion embraces other worlds too: those existing outside the spatial horizon of the story but are nevertheless part of the fabula (Phoenicia and Crete), those belonging to embedded narratives (the spaces of Io’s myth implied in the descriptive digression) and those which are illusionary or purely symbolic (Asia and Europe).
- 37 Also on a textual level in echoing the famous passage on Zeus’ arrival at Crete from the Theogony ( (...)
- 38 In effect Moschus reverses Hesiodic narratives about divine couplings by overemphasizing their sexu (...)
29Under the spell of heavenly powers Europa is, as already said, destined to depart from her homeland towards a target space, namely Crete. In contrast to Phoenicia which is hardly ever mentioned in the text, Crete incarnates the promised land (158: Κρήτη δέ σε δέξεται ἤδη), which however is not actually reached by the characters (162–163: φαίνετο μὲν δὴ / Κρήτη). From a generic viewpoint Crete represents the Hesiodic perspective of Moschus’ narrative.37 It is there that the teleological union between a god and a heroine will take place, it is there that the patterns of genealogical epic will be reproduced (162–166).38 This site contextualizes the epyllion in the tradition of theogonic poetry without ever becoming a vital part of the plot.
- 39 On the mirroring relationship between the main narrative and the description, see Cusset C., “Le je (...)
- 40 On the conflict between the sequence of events in the myth of Io and the spatial arrangement of the (...)
- 41 Cf. Kuhlmann P., “Moschos’ Europa,” op. cit., p. 276–293, at p. 284–5. Manakidou F., Beschreibung, (...)
30Through the ecphrasis of the basket, a mirror of the main narrative,39 new, exotic spaces come into view. The name of Libya, grandmother of Europa, mentioned in l. 39, alludes to a similar genealogical story concluding with an onomastic aition of the African continent. With the first vignette representing the passage of Bosporus by the bovine Io the reader (or rather viewer) is transferred to an unnamed site where sea imagery dominates (46–49); similarly undefined in space and time is the third vignette showing the slaying of Argus by Hermes (55–61).40 Only the centerpiece is clearly situated in Egypt: the union between Zeus and the cow, as also the metamorphosis of the latter into a woman again, is set beside the stream of the Nile (as twice expressly said 51: ἑπταπόρῳ παρὰ Νείλῳ, 53: ἀργύρεος Νείλου ῥόος). Moschus explicitly refers to a defined geographical site here—also by use of the almost scientific term ἑπτάπορος—obviously alluding to the scene from [Aeschylus’] Prometheus (846–852) where the birth of Epaphus by the stream of the Nile is foretold.41 But the silvery Nile on Europa’s basket becomes a symbolic site of sexuality and magic, one that exists in the interspace between life and art.
31Moschus’ poem is set against the background of an aitiological story: the naming of the continent Europa after its eponymous heroine, an aition latent in the dream of the young maiden. Modeled on Atossa’s nightmare from Aeschylus’ Persians (181–200), it features the personification of Asia and Europa as two women (8–9):
ὠίσατ᾽ ἠπείρους δοιὰς περὶ εἷο μάχεσθαι,
Ἀσίδα τ᾽ ἀντιπέρην τε· φυὴν δ᾽ ἔχον οἷα γυναῖκες
She dreamt that two lands near and far strove with one another for the possession of her; their guise was the guise of women… [transl. J. M. Edmonds]
- 42 Which, of course, does not have the dramatic dimensions of Medea’s inner conflict in the Argonautic (...)
32This space fantasy representing allegorically the struggle between an ἐνδαπίη (11) and a ξείνη (10) continent mirrors Europa’s divided self between the security offered by the homeland and her desire for an amorous adventure in an uncharted territory. In other words Moschus plays with the idea of a mother/space (12: φάσκεν δ᾽ ὥς μιν ἔτικτε καὶ ὡς ἀτίτηλέ μιν αὐτή) vs. a lover/space (25: ὥς μ᾽ ἔλαβε κραδίην κείνης πόθος), as if space is a metaphor for the heroine’s conflicting emotions.42
- 43 On the thematization of space in narrative, see Ryan M.‑L., “Space,” op. cit., par. 31–35.
33The Europa is a highly rhetorical, almost artificial, poem in that it systematically reworks famous scenes and passages from archaic, classical, even Hellenistic literature; space is no exception to this rule and its literary subtexts are easily recognizable. Nevertheless Moschus achieves an original synthesis out of these traditional elements by thematizing the spaces wherein Europa moves.43
- 44 Similarly ‘Romantic’ is Medea’s bedchamber from Apollonius’ Argonautica, a space where the heroine (...)
- 45 Cf. Gutzwiller K., Studies, op. cit., p. 66, who notes: “But the dream has a much more important fu (...)
34The poem’s plot is structured around a symbolic movement from an inside, closed and confining space that through a space of exploration and experimentation leads to an open, liberating space. The chamber is for Europa, as it is for any maiden tormented by nightly visions, the space of patriarchy, one that renders Moschus’ piece Romantic in tone.44 Europa has to choose between alternative, mutually excluding worlds. Indeed, the surprise of the narrative strategy is that Europa refrains from visiting her family in the palace to report her dream, as her models Nausicaa, Io and Medea had done– she is instead immediately attracted by the space where her erotic dream may be realized, namely the meadow and subsequently the sea. Here Moschus contradicts his reader’s expectations by having Europa move towards spaces that produce an alternative scenario, that of the liberation of the maiden from the father’s authority (cf. 146–147: δῶμα / πατρὸς ἀποπρολιποῦσα). In this sense these spaces thematize the rite de passage, the transformation of Europa from an adolescent into a woman through a sexual experience.45
- 46 The idea is succinctly described by Bridgeman T., “Time and Space,” in The Cambridge Companion to N (...)
35Any plot, especially one involving a stroll or a journey like the one considered here, may be metaphorically designated as a path46– an image that wonderfully captures the concept behind the spatial structuring of the Europa as well as of several other poems classified as epyllia. To be more precise the macrospace of the poem represents epic teleology (Europa’s destiny is to travel from Asia to Europe), whereas the microspace epyllic linearity (the snapshot of the erotic encounter with Zeus) presupposes the spatial sequence of chamber/meadow/sea. In this respect the spatial arrangement of Moschus’ Europa has a striking resemblance with that of Theocritus’ Hylas and Callimachus’ Hecale. In the first Hylas’ rape in the locus amoenus of Propontis occurs within the macrospace to be traversed, namely the voyage of the Argonauts from Iolcus to Colchis; in the latter Theseus’ travel from Troezen to Marathon to kill the bull is the macrospace within which his course in Attica towards Hecale’s hut represents the microspace of the poem. In each case the moment of suspension of the overarching epic plot brings to the fore the spatio-temporal dynamics of the “here and now.” Thus magnified the immediate frame of the snapshot becomes the nucleus of the epyllic plot.
- 47 Yet it should pointed out that the quest for pleasure is also the motive behind the secondary focal (...)
- 48 A hypothesis further supported by the reading of the poem as a ring composition evolving around a c (...)
36Europa may be considered the main focalizer in the poem for it seems that events are filtered through her own eyes. Pleasure, or rather an all-encompassing hedonism, characterizes her throughout the poem (23: ἡδύ, 25: πόθος, 72: θυμόν ἰαίνειν, 103: τερπώμεθα),47 and it is through the power of hedone that the surrounding world is substantially transformed. Space is virtually created by, and existent in, Europa’s consciousness solely: affected by a dream, the heroine senses the spatial reality of her world as a utopian continuum where fantasy, magic and wonder converge. The lightness, easiness, naiveté of the girl’s psyche (features reflecting the bucolic ethics dominant in the Theocritean corpus) secure her entrance into a wonderland; access is also granted to the other hedonists of the poem, the girls and Zeus. Thus, if we forget for a moment the opening and closing spaces, those marking the divine plan devised for Europa and its teleologies (i.e. marriage and procreation), the very center of the poem appears to be the garden.48
37Idyllic and idealized, eternally flourishing and reborn, the garden is a recurrent symbol in every culture. From the Garden of Eden to the Persian garden, from Theocritus’ flowery settings to the allegorical jardin of the medieval Le Roman de la Rose, from the meadow of Europa to the garden of delight in Bosch’s painting, the garden is a reflection of Paradise, a sensual space, and inevitably a theatre of magic. A description of its magical dimension is given by F. H. Burnett in his novel The Secret Garden (ch. 23, “Magic”):
They always called it Magic and indeed it seemed like it in the months that followed—the wonderful months—the radiant months—the amazing ones. Oh! the things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden, you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there. At first it seemed that green things would never cease pushing their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds, even in the crevices of the walls. Then the green things began to show buds and the buds began to unfurl and show color, every shade of blue, every shade of purple, every tint and hue of crimson… And the roses—the roses! Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree trunks and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades—they came alive day by day, hour by hour. Fair fresh leaves, and buds—and buds—tiny at first but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air.
38Moschus has given us a glimpse into a similarly enchanted garden where the arrest of the moment becomes the ultimate fantasy for Europa.
1 Several art historians, among which Fraenger W., The Millennium of Hieronymus Bosch, Chicago, UCP, 1951 and more recently Belting H., Hieronymus Bosch. Garden of Earthly Delights, Munich, Prestel, 2005, argue that The Garden of Earthly Delights is a portrayal of a utopia as it existed before the Fall, thus opposing older views according to which Bosch criticizes moral corruption and lust through this seemingly idyllic garden.
2 Crump M. M., The Epyllion from Theocritus to Ovid, Oxford, B. Blackwell, 1931, still offers the broadest classification of the epyllion by including into the genre practically any short narrative from Theocritus until Ovid and beyond; for a similarly broad conception, cf. Fantuzzi M., s.v. “Epyllion,” DNP IV, 1998, p. 31–33.
3 Thus, for example, the editors of the latest Companion to Greek and Latin Epyllion do not vociferously argue for or against the very existence of the epyllion, but leave the question open by stressing that “we do not have any traces for a generic usage of the term in antiquity and no reflections about a shorter epic can be found in classical literary criticism,” yet admitting, at the same time, that “this does not, of course, imply that such a genre did not exist at all” (Bär S. and Baumbach M. [eds.], Brill’s Companion to Greek and Latin Epyllion and Its Reception, Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2012, p. ix).
4 Sistakou E., “‘Snapshots’ of Myth: The Notion of Time in Hellenistic Epyllion,” in Narratology and Interpretation: The Content of Narrative Form in Ancient Literature, Grethlein J. and Rengakos A. (eds.), Trends in Classics. Suppl. Vol. 4, Berlin and New York, W. De Gruyter, 2009, p. 293–319.
5 The term is introduced by Bakhtin M. M., The Dialogic Imagination, ed. by M. Holquist and transl. by C. Emerson and M. Holquist, University of Texas Press Slavic Series 1, Austin, University of Texas Press, 1981, p. 84–258 for the narratological study of the novel; cf. Zoran G., “Towards a Theory of Space in Narrative,” Poetics Today 5, 1984, p. 309–35 on the relationship between space and text in narrative.
6 Cf. Sistakou E., “‘Snapshots’ of Myth,” op. cit., p. 318–9.
7 A detailed analysis of space in the Homeric epics in De Jong I. J. F. (ed.), Space in Ancient Greek Literature, Mnemosyne. Suppl. 339, Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative 3, Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2012, p. 21–38. Exceptions, such as the humble dwelling of Eumaeus, prove the rule.
8 The chronotope of the epyllion bears a striking resemblance with what Bakhtin terms “the idyllic chronotope” whose main features are: a focusing on life’s realities, a thematization of love, family, labour or craft, the conjoining of human life with the life of nature and the fastening of the narrative to a spatially limited world (Bakhtin M. M., op. cit., p. 224–42).
9 A great deal of literature about the Europa focuses on exactly this feature: see especially Schmiel R., “Moschus’ Europa,” CPh 76, 1981, p. 261–72, cf. Cusset C., “Le jeu poétique dans l’Europé de Moschos,” BAGB 1, 2001, p. 62–82, and Kuhlmann P., “Moschos’ Europa zwischen Artifizialität und Klassizismus. Der Mythos als verkehrte Welt,” RhM 147, 2004, p. 276–93.
10 The Phoenician origin of Europa is only indirectly suggested by reference to her father’s name Phoenix (7: Φοίνικος θυγάτηρ) and the epithet Ἀσίδα in l. 9; Herodotus clearly states that the maiden travelled from Tyros of Phoenicia to Europe in 1.2 and 4.45 (see Campbell M. [ed.], Moschus. Europa, Altertumswissenschaftliche Texte und Studien 19, Hildesheim, Olms-Weidmann, 1991, on l. 7).
11 Terms and definitions are introduced by Ryan M.‑L., “Space,” in The Living Handbook of Narratology, P. Hühn et al. (eds.), Hamburg, HUP, 2012, accessible at: http://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/article/space, par. 9–11.
12 The fine distinction in Buchholz S. and Jahn M., “Space in Narrative,” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, D. Herman, M. Jahn and M.‑L. Ryan (eds.), London and New York, Routledge, 2005, p. 551–5, at p. 552.
13 For Moschus’ Europa I have used the translation by Edmonds J. M., The Greek Bucolic Poets, The Loeb Classical Library 28, 1912, with modifications.
14 The irreversibility of Europa’s course is a basic feature of chronotopic concepts of narratives, as Zoran G., “Towards a Theory of Space in Narrative,” op. cit., at p. 318–9 remarks: “The chronotopos determines defined directions in space: in the space of a given narrative, one may move from point a to point b, but not vice versa.”
15 In linguistics this type of description of a spatial network (for example an apartment with many rooms) is called the tour strategy as opposed to the so-called map strategy, according to which a space is observed from a panoramic point of view, see Linde C. and Labov W., “Spatial Networks as a Site for the Study of Language and Thought,” Language 51, 1975, p. 924–39.
16 Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on l. 6 aptly remarks that although the Homeric ὑπερώϊον is reached by a staircase, Moschus does not find time to mention Europa’s descent from it. Obviously Moschus did not intend to insist on such realistic details of space but rather to emphasize the magical leap that brings Europa directly to the meadow.
17 Cf. Theocr. 14, 39, Call., frag. 202, 52 Pf. and Arat. 1, 970 for the same adjective in different contexts.
18 Cf. Eur., Med. 41 and 380: σιγῆι δόμους ἐσβᾶσ᾽ ἵν᾽ ἔστρωται λέχος for the marital bed of Jason and Glauce. στρωτόν λέχος on the contrary is attested in non erotic contexts, see Hes., Th. 798, Eur., Her. 555 and Or. 313.
19 Jumping out of bed is a common image in archaic and classical poetry, see the passages collected by Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on ll. 16f.
20 There is one last detail that completes the spatial arrangement of this first scene: it is the actual space where the dream takes place. According to an attractive hypothesis by Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on l. 22, λεχέων ὕπερ suggests the space above Europa’s bed, where dreams are supposed to be projected.
21 Further enhanced by the numerous iterative verb forms with ‑σκ‑ scattered in the poem (67: θαλέθεσκε, 86: ὑπογλαύσσεσκε, 86: ἀστράπτεσκεν, 94: λιχμάζεσκε, 95: ἀμφαφάασκε, 115: γαληνιάασκε, 130: ἐλαφρίζεσκε).
22 I agree with Kuhlmann (Kuhlmann P., “The Motif of the Rape of Europa: Intertextuality and Absurdity of the Myth in Epyllion and Epic Insets,” in Brill’s Companion to Greek and Latin Epyllion and Its Reception, S. Bär and M. Baumbach (eds.), op. cit., p. 473–490) at p. 478, who notes that “Moschus has not retained anything of the seriousness and violence of the pretext. Here, everything has been turned into loveliness and eroticism;” for the term Mädchentragödie, coined by W. Burkert, see p. 474–5. On the meadow as a space of sexual encounter, see Gutzwiller K., Studies in the Hellenistic Epyllion, Königstein/Ts, A. Hain, 1981, p. 68–9 and the passages collected by Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on l. 34.
23 The closest parallel is the παρακτίους λειμῶνας, a deserted space of the Trojan beach where Ajax resorts to commit suicide (Soph., Aj. 654–655), but it is unlikely that Moschus is writing with this passage in mind.
24 Perhaps a reminiscence of passages evoking eutopic landscapes, cf. Homeric Hymn to Hermes 71–72: ἔνθα θεῶν μακάρων βόες ἄμβροτοι αὖλιν ἔχεσκον / βοσκόμεναι λειμῶνας ἀκηρασίους ἐρατεινούς, Aristoph., Ran. 448–449: χωρῶμεν εἰς πολυρρόδους λειμῶνας ἀνθεμώδεις, Theocr. 22, 42–43: ἄνθεά τ᾽ εὐώδη, λασίαις φίλα ἔργα μελίσσαις, / ὅσσ᾽ ἔαρος λήγοντος ἐπιβρύει ἂν λειμῶνας.
25 The catalogue of flowers in Moschus’ epyllion is a reminiscence of both the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (6–8) and Theocr. 13, 34–42, but may be also related to flower treatises like Nicander’s Georgica (e.g. frag. 74 G.‑S.). Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on. ll. 65–71 also adds a flower passage associated with the Cypria (frag. 4 EGF) to the epic models of Moschus here.
26 For a thorough discussion of Europa’s basket, also in the context of the poem’s main spaces, see Manakidou F., Beschreibung von Kunstwerken in der hellenistischen Dichtung: ein Beitrag zur hellenistischen Poetik, Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 36, Stuttgart, B. G. Teubner, 1993, p. 174–211.
27 Cf. 39–40 (about Io): ὅτ’ ἐς λέχος Ἐννοσίγαιου / ἤιεν, 164 καί οἱ λέχος ἔντυον Ὧραι.
28 Apart from the impression that a work of art is echoed here, Moschus obviously reworks a simile about Artemis and her attendants from Od. 6, 102–109, on which see Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on ll. 69b–71.
29 Cf. 91–92 where the fragrance of the bull is more powerfully sensed than the odour of the entire flowery meadow (91–92: τοῦ τ᾽ ἄμβροτος ὀδμή / τηλόθι καὶ λειμῶνος ἐκαίνυτο λαρὸν ἀυτμήν).
30 The formulaic λέχος εἰσανέβαινεν or λέχος εἰσαναβᾶσα is a common euphemism for love-making in Hesiod; Moschus recalls this epic formula through the image of Europa climbing on the bull’s back (cf. 104: νῶτον ὑποστορέσας).
31 Archil., frag. 122, 7–9 W.: μηδ᾽ ἐὰν δελφῖσι θῆρες ἀνταμείψωνται νομὸν / ἐνάλιον, καί σφιν θαλάσσης ἠχέεντα κύματα / φίλτερ᾽ ἠπείρου γένηται, τοῖσι δ᾽ ὑλέειν ὄρος. For a classification of the various types of adunata found in Greek and especially Latin poetry, see Canter H. V., “The Figure ἀδύνατον in Greek and Latin Poetry,” AJPh 51, 1930, p. 32–41.
32 Especially of Hermes in Od. 5, 50–54 and Poseidon in Il. 13, 17–30, on which see Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on ll. 113f. and 115f. respectively.
33 The artistic emphasis on every type of animal, fish or insect, collectively characterized as an affection for the creatures, is discussed by Fowler B. H., The Hellenistic Aesthetic, Wisconsin Studies in Classics, Madison, Wisconsin UP, 1989, p. 110–36. Especially for the aesthetics of the marine scene in the Europa viewed as a mixture of the burlesque and the grotesque, see p. 59–65.
34 On the spatial theography in the Iliad, see the excellent discussion in Tsagalis C., From Listeners to Viewers. Space in the “Iliad,” Hellenic Studies 53, Washington, HUP, 2012, p. 140–7.
35 ὑπεὶρ ἅλα in Apollonius suggests sea voyage for any purpose (1, 236; 1, 918; etc.), but in the Odyssey (in the formula οἷά τε ληϊστῆρες ὑπεὶρ ἅλα in 3, 73; 9, 254) it clearly indicates piracy, a context suitable for the interpretation of Europa’s abduction (cf. Hdt. 1, 1–2).
36 Especially by denying the natural adunaton of bulls and dolphins shifting between sea and land (14–142): οὔθ᾽ ἅλιοι δελφῖνες ἐπὶ χθονὸς οὔτε τι ταῦροι / ἐν πόντῳ στιχόωσι.
37 Also on a textual level in echoing the famous passage on Zeus’ arrival at Crete from the Theogony (479–480): τὸν μέν οἱ ἐδέξατο Γαῖα πελώρη / Κρήτῃ ἐν εὐρείῃ τρεφέμεν ἀτιταλλέμεναί τε.
38 In effect Moschus reverses Hesiodic narratives about divine couplings by overemphasizing their sexual aspects while cutting short their genealogical pointe; it is no coincidence that the last couplet of the epyllion that alludes to genealogical formulaic language (e.g. Κρονίδῃ τέκε τέκνα) is considered to be spurious, cf. Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on ll. 165–166.
39 On the mirroring relationship between the main narrative and the description, see Cusset C., “Le jeu poétique,” op. cit., p. 67–72.
40 On the conflict between the sequence of events in the myth of Io and the spatial arrangement of the vignettes on Europa’s basket, see Petrain D., “Moschus’ Europa and the Narratology of Ecphrasis,” in Beyond the Canon, M. A. Harder, R. F. Regtuit and G. C. Wakker (eds.), Hellenistica Groningana 11, Leuven, Peeters, 2006, p. 249–69.
41 Cf. Kuhlmann P., “Moschos’ Europa,” op. cit., p. 276–293, at p. 284–5. Manakidou F., Beschreibung, op. cit., p. 176 n. 248 speculates on the possible influence of Callimachus’ lost work Ἰοῦς ἄφιξις on the passage. ἑπτάπορος Νεῖλος may be a variation of Νεῖλος ἔνθ᾽ ἑπτάρροος (Aesch., frag. 300, 2 Radt); on ἑπτάπορος Πλειάς, see especially Euripides (Or. 1005, I.A. 7, Rh. 529).
42 Which, of course, does not have the dramatic dimensions of Medea’s inner conflict in the Argonautica; cf. Campbell M. (ed.), Moschus. Europa, op. cit., on ll. 1–27: “Europa’s attitude to abduction and transference to a new home will not entail (as in the case of certain other females of myth) a crisis of conscience, abhorrence, deep shame, xenophobia, contemplation of suicide or vitriolic ranting.”
43 On the thematization of space in narrative, see Ryan M.‑L., “Space,” op. cit., par. 31–35.
44 Similarly ‘Romantic’ is Medea’s bedchamber from Apollonius’ Argonautica, a space where the heroine is faced with the dilemma of choosing between the house of the father and her love for Jason—a dilemma reflected in her nightmares, as in Europa’s case: see Sistakou E., The Aesthetics of Darkness. A Study in Hellenistic Romanticism in Apollonius, Lycophron and Nicander, Hellenistica Groningana 17, Leuven, Peeters, 2012, p. 92–3 and 98–9.
45 Cf. Gutzwiller K., Studies, op. cit., p. 66, who notes: “But the dream has a much more important function. It symbolizes Europa’ departure from her childhood existence in her father’s house and her entrance into adulthood.”
46 The idea is succinctly described by Bridgeman T., “Time and Space,” in The Cambridge Companion to Narrative, D. Herman (ed.), Cambridge, CUP, 2007, p. 52–65, at p. 55: “We can conceive of plot as a metaphorical network of paths, which either converge or diverge, of goals which are either reached or blocked. More literally, our image of a work can involve the paths of the protagonists around their world, bringing together time and space to shape a plot.”
47 Yet it should pointed out that the quest for pleasure is also the motive behind the secondary focalizers of the poem: the hedonistic young maidens (36: τερπόμεναι, 64: θυμὸν ἔτερπον, 90: πάσῃσι δ᾽ ἔρως γένετ᾽) and Zeus who suffers from the blows of Aphrodite (74–79).
48 A hypothesis further supported by the reading of the poem as a ring composition evolving around a central axis which, of course, is the erotic encounter of Europa and the bull (72–100): see Schmiel R., “Moschus’ Europa,” op. cit., p. 261–266. Cf. Cusset C., “Le jeu poétique,” op. cit., p. 66 who remarks that this encounter is the raison d’être of the entire narrative.Top of page
Evina Sistakou, « The Dynamics of Space in Moschus’ Europa », Aitia [Online], 6 | 2016, Online since 22 June 2016, connection on 28 March 2017. URL : http://aitia.revues.org/1482 ; DOI : 10.4000/aitia.1482Top of page
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