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Tradition et nouveauté dans la poésie hellénistique

Archives, Innovation, and the Neomorphic Cyclops

Archives, innovation, et le Cyclope néomorphique
Archivi, innovazione, e il Neomorfic Ciclope
Anatole Mori

Riassunti

Questo articolo propone una nuova interpretazione dell’influsso di Stesicoro sul ritratto del Ciclope negli Idilli 6 e 11 di Teocrito. Il trattamento simpatetico di Gerione offre un modello per la reinvenzione di Polifemo, benché la caratterizzazione di quest’ultimo è più complessa e costruita a partire da un numero maggiore di generi, modi e prospettive. Nelle pagine che seguono analizzerò la relazione tra gli archivi materiali e l’ascesa di nuove forme letterarie prima di passare a considerare il modo in cui i tropi e le allusioni associate con la giovinezza, il desiderio, la cecità e la vulnerabilità generino un “Ciclope neomorfico” che, come altre costruzioni eziologiche ellenistiche, interiorizza l’archivio tramite il rinnovamento della poetica tradizionale.

Inizio pagina

Testo integrale

How the old yields the new: the institution of the archive

  • * I am grateful to the Aitia reviewers and my colleague Naomi Kaloudis for their insightful comments (...)
  • 2 In keeping with Egyptian custom, much of the Egyptian architecture of Alexandria, particularly reli (...)
  • 3 F. M. Haikal, “Private Collections and Temple Libraries in Ancient Egypt,” in M. A. El‑Abbadi, O. M (...)

1One of the most widely recognized institutions of the Hellenistic period is the Great Library of Alexandria.* Like the Ptolemaic state, the building itself was new, or newly built,2 but this was not the first archive, although its reputation could give that impression. State and private archives existed in the Greek world before Alexandria’s foundation, and archives of printed matter were hardly new to ancient Egypt. Egyptian tombs often housed private collections of various kinds of documents, and temple libraries had long stored administrative and religious records.3 Indeed, most aspects of textual culture, from simple signs, lexicography, and alphabetic scripts to the religious, political, and socio-economic practices associated with those writing systems, did not originate with the ancient Greeks. Thus the (Greek) textual culture of the period is a child of Greek and non-Greek traditions and institutions: royal patronage and poetic performance, public and private collections of printed materials, cult and commemorative practices—all of which played their part in the formation of identity, both collective and individual.

  • 4 Y. L. Too, The Idea of the Library in the Ancient World, Oxford, OUP, 2010.
  • 5 Fr. 175B Davies, Finglass (213 PMG) = Dion. Thrax 190.26–30 Hilgard.
  • 6 Pliny, HN 7.192.

2The Great Library accordingly owes its renown not to its priority but to the extent of its holdings, the productivity of the scholars working there, and the wealth and prominence of the monarchs who supported it. The Library itself is, in the apt phrase of Y. L. Too, a “genealogical institution,”4 a new iteration of old filiations. If we think in terms of genealogy it makes less of a difference whether, as Too suggests, the ancient Greeks were correct to perceive themselves as the original creators of textual culture, or whether Palamedes truly invented it (as Stesichorus of Himera claims)5 or simply added four letters, like Simonides, to the sixteen first brought by Cadmus.6 The exact origins of textual culture in ancient Greece are probably less important, in the end, than ancient Greek ideas about those origins, and they are certainly less recoverable than the history of textual culture from the Archaic through the Imperial eras. On the other hand, the textual archive in ancient Greece was not simply the heir or successor to oral culture, which remained dominant throughout antiquity, but rather a series of developments that emerged from Greek and non-Greek traditions and institutions that were themselves changing as Hellenistic states emerged in Mediterranean world. It is this combination of traditions, especially the association of the library archive and poetic endeavor, that contributed to a new appreciation for innovation in the Hellenistic period.

  • 7 First published in 1992 as Über das Neue.

3At the beginning of On the New,7 B. Groys defines the conditions under which communities begin to celebrate novelty:

  • 8 B. Groys, On the New, trans. G. H. Goshgarian, Brooklyn, Verso, 2014, p. 21.

The demand for the new arises primarily when old values are archived and so protected from the destructive work of time. Where no archives exist, or where their physical existence is endangered, people prefer to transmit tradition intact rather than innovate, or else to appeal to principles and ideas which are regarded as independent of time and, in that sense, always immediately accessible and unchanging.8

4On Groys’ view the reification of literary tradition, especially in the form of a material archive, unlocks the creative energies of an age, although the concept of time as a destructive force probably reflects the perspective of a text-oriented culture. Be that as it may, the culture of the (Hellenized, literary) Library of Alexandria recognized and even promoted poetic innovation at the same time that large-scale archives were beginning to transcribe the mnemonic “archive” of oral tradition, and as the social and geographical settings for traditional performance were being left behind on the Greek mainland.

5Yet traditional poetry was not simply relegated to material archives for safekeeping: older compositions were genetically coded and incorporated, via allusions and linguistic echoes, in newer ones. As M. Fantuzzi and R. Hunter observe:

  • 9 M. Fantuzzi, R. Hunter, Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 2004, p. vi (...)

With changes of taste and conditions of performance come, of course, changes in style, in poetic canons, and in generic performances, but the past was never abandoned, even rhetorically; the most audaciously “modern” texts continue to use the “langue” of the great poetry of the past and of the institutions through which it flourished and which it itself sustained.9

  • 10 Whether silently, or recited, or performed by one or more actors; see R. Hunter (ed.), Apollonius o (...)

6This article accordingly examines Theocritus’ “modern” portrayal of the Cyclops from the perspective of these two generative models: that of novelty, in Groys’ formulation, as the child of library culture, and that of the persistence, genealogically speaking, of traditional poetics described here by Fantuzzi and Hunter. Like his contemporaries Theocritus wrote his poems for a reading audience,10 yet at the same time Idylls 6 and 11 present Polyphemus through multiple mimetic frames as the subject of songs sung both by him and also by others. The portrait of a youthful, amorous, musical Cyclops was evidently intended to attract and appeal to new literary appetites even as it catered to a nostalgic fascination with the pre-literate song culture, here enacted in somewhat surprising ways by a well-known figure.

  • 11 M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), Stesichorus. The Poems, Cambridge, CUP, 2014, p. 36–37; P. Curtis (...)

7In what follows I trace the allusions that clarify the sympathetic and tragic aspects of this anti-heroic monster’s flawed, conflicted, and paradoxically human vulnerability. Of particular interest in this regard is the Geryoneis, whose extant fragments suggest that Stesichorus presented Geryon, a casualty of Heracles’ labors, in a sympathetic light.11 After a brief discussion of Stesichorus’ influence on Theocritus I address the principal themes that connect Polyphemus with Geryon. Section 2 then examines the significance of youth for the characterization of the Cyclops as well as for Hellenistic poetics in general, while section 3 looks more closely at the poetic and philosophical antecedents of Polyphemus’ erotic blindness, his treatment of his mother, and the image of the fragile poppy.

  • 12 On Stesichorus in general, see M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), op. cit.; P. J. Finglass, A. Kelly (...)
  • 13 R. Hunter, Theocritus and the Archaeology of Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 1996, p. 44; P. Curtis (ed.), (...)
  • 14 T. Power, The Culture of Kitharôidia, Cambridge, Hellenic Studies 15, 2010, p. 284; R. Hunter, op. (...)

8As an early innovator, an archaic re-interpreter of Homeric epic composing in a different genre, Stesichorus offers a likely model for Theocritus.12 Both poets were from southern Italy, and both adapt the meter and vocabulary of Homeric epic.13 Theocritus’ familiarity with Stesichorus is also suggested by the scholia to Idyll 18 and the Lille papyrus.14 As M. L. West notes, Stesichorus, the son of Euphemus, who was one of Plato’s contemporaries (Phd. 244a), composed an aulodic Cyclops and even called himself Stesichorus of Himera the Second. We do not know whether Theocritus himself identified the first Stesichorus with the second, but this poem may perhaps have generated his interest in updating earlier characterizations of the Cyclops.

  • 15 On the island of the Cyclopes, Thucydides 6.2; on Erytheia: Hesiod, Theog. 290–94, 983; see also fr (...)
  • 16 P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 40–45.

9There are, moreover, a number of similarities between Polyphemus and Geryon, so it is not difficult to see why these two figures would appeal to poets from southern Italy. Both are from western islands; the island of the Cyclopes was thought to be near Sicily, while Geryon, said to live on Erytheia near the pillars of Heracles in Spain,15 was also connected with Sicily via local cults and festivals connected with Heracles’ travels (with Geryon’s cattle) back to Greece.16 Though Geryon employs a herdsman, Eurytion (possibly a doublet of Geryon as he too is killed by Heracles), to tend his cattle, both he and Polyphemus are associated with a remote and rustic life. Both are monsters, yet both are also to some extent anthropomorphized by Hesiod and Homer. Homer refers to the Cyclops is a “man of might” (ἀνὴρ . . . πελώριος, Od. 9.187), and while Hesiod describes Geryon as three-headed (τρικέφαλον, Theog. 287), he adds that he is “the mightiest son of mortal men” (παῖδα βροτῶν κάρτιστον ἁπάντων, Theog. 981–82). Both suffer head wounds; unlike Geryon Polyphemus survives, but only because his survival was necessary for Odysseus’ escape.

  • 17 Homer does not explicitly say he has one eye; Hesiod explains that the Cyclopes who forge Zeus’ thu (...)
  • 18 On Polyphemus’ “many voices” see further A. Faulkner, “Callimachus’ Epigram 46 and Plato: The Liter (...)
  • 19 On the different representations of Geryon, see T. Gantz, Early Greek Myth. A Guide to Literary and (...)
  • 20 Cf. Euripides, Cyc. 130: the Cyclops hunts with a number of dogs.

10Both figures are naturally marked by physical abnormality in the form of excess or absence. Polyphemus has only one eye, as his blinding from a single wound implies.17 His name, on the other hand, suggests a plurality of words or voices, and hints, I argue below, at the ironic quality of his speeches, at least from the audience’s point of view: his speech(es) say more than he means or understands.18 The triform (whether of head or body) Geryon, winged and red, evokes the setting sun and is in keeping with the chaotic proliferation characteristic of other compound monsters (centaurs, Typhoeus, the Hydra, Sirens, Gorgons, etc.).19 In addition to Geryon and Eurytion, Heracles also kills Orthos, the bicephalic brother of Cerberus, a creature that is to some extent metonymically bound to its master, much like the dog in in Idyll 6.20 In Daphnis’ song Galateia flirtatiously pelts this dog with apples, and it barks at its reflection in the sea (Id. 6.9–11); Damoetas’ response then inverts these images: Polyphemus encourages the dog to bark at Galateia and then compliments himself on his own reflection in the water (Id. 6.29, 34–38).

  • 21 A. Barchiesi, “Future Reflexive: Two Modes of Allusion and Ovid’s Heroides,” HSPh 95, 1993, p. 333– (...)
  • 22 R. Hunter, “Sweet Stesichorus: Theocritus 18 and the Helen Revisited,” in P. J. Finglass, A. Kelly  (...)
  • 23 E.g., the conversation with ram; see M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), op. cit., p. 36 with n. 204.
  • 24 It is unclear whether Stesichorus was responsible for Geryon’s popularity in the sixth and fifth ce (...)

11Youth is perhaps the most important element in the characterization of Geryon and Polyphemus. I will return to this crucial issue below, but for now it is important to recall that Theocritus’ portrayal of a youthful Cyclops exemplifies, in the well-known phrase of A. Barchiesi, the “familiar technique of “writing the ‘before’ of a famous ‘after.’”21 Theocritus’ Idyll 18 does much the same thing, and here too, Stesichorus’ influence is evident, as R. Hunter demonstrates, in its connection to Stesichorus’ Helen.22 Theocritus’ debt to Stesichorus is obvious in this instance—he draws on the Helen for an idyll about Helen—but this parallel also raises the question of why Theocritus would look to Stesichorus’ Geryon as a model for Polyphemus in the first place. The two characters share similarities, as we have seen, and together form a distinct class of giant mythological herdsmen (to which we may add Cacus in Virgil’s Aeneid). For that matter, the Geryoneis itself owes much to the sympathetic aspects of the Homeric Cyclops.23 Even so, one wonders why Theocritus did not simply write an idyll featuring Geryon? The question is worth asking, if only because it helps us see that the central issue is the renewal of traditional poetics, rather than the evolution of a particular character.24 Put another way, Idyll 11 offers a deeper exploration of perspectival shifts already present in earlier poetry. Theocritus’ revision of Polyphemus is neither at odds with heroic epic or choral lyric nor is it an eccentric deviation from those poetic forms and traditions: what it offers instead is a logical reintegration and expansion of them. Whether we are speaking of libraries or genres or characters, the point of the new is not that it came first, but that it differentiates itself, in one way or another, and to a greater or lesser degree, from what came before.

How the new yields the old: the poetic archive

  • 25 E.g., Apollonius’ explicit decision to sing of the heroes rather than the building of the Argo (Arg (...)

12Theocritus’ novel treatment of traditional material establishes him as part of the new Hellenistic wave of poetic engagement with the past. A number of the poets involved with this new wave were familiar with the poet Philitas from the nearby island of Kos, who instructed Ptolemy II Philadelphus and was said to have played a part in the organization of the Library of Alexandria. Philitas and other members of his circle redefined the past though origin stories, foundation tales, and etiologies. We can understand such origin stories as corrective starting points that underscore the veracity of the current narrative and in addition imply that other, earlier versions led audiences astray from the start.25 A. Ambühl explains that for Callimachus and other Hellenistic poets, the nostalgic impulse associated with youthful prehistories provides etiological confirmation of contemporary poetics:

  • 26 A. Ambühl, “Children as Poets—Poets as Children? Romantic Constructions of Childhood and Hellenisti (...)

In his metaliterary constructions of childhood, Callimachus acknowledges the past tradition by integrating it into his texts as a projected future while at the same time, by going back to an imaginary starting point, he succeeds in establishing a new tradition.26

13Something, a poetic structure such as a character, trope, perspective or genre, can be new in the sense that it has only recently come into being, or it can be retrospectively novel in the metapoetic sense that it revises earlier accounts of its origin. We find both of these constructs in Hellenistic poetry, which sometimes distances the past with the invention of new poetic icons, like the cowherd / bucolic singer Daphnis, or alternatively recalibrates traditional origin stories about gods like Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite, or epic figures like Helen, Heracles, Jason and Medea, and the Cyclops Polyphemus.

  • 27 B. Acosta-Hughes, “The Prefigured Muse: Rethinking a Few Assumptions on Hellenistic Poetics,” in J. (...)
  • 28 T. Power, op. cit., p. 203.
  • 29 K. Spanoudakis, Philitas of Cos, Leiden, Brill, 2002, p. 30.
  • 30 R. Hunter, op. cit.; M. Payne, Theocritus and the Invention of Fiction, Cambridge, CUP, 2007.
  • 31 R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 30.
  • 32 M. Fantuzzi, R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 184.
  • 33 For discussion of later poets (including Theocritus) who evidently expand on Philoxenus’ (lost) Cyc (...)
  • 34 R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 29–30.

14Hellenistic poetry is frequently associated with formal experiments in, for example, the narrator’s persona, unusual vocabulary, quick shifts in mood and tone, the incorporation of unexpected registers or elements from extra-poetic genres, and so on. This association has been surely overemphasized, since such experimentation did not begin with the third century BC: poets (like Stesichorus) clearly imported and adapted material from other genres.27 But if the idea of a new poem, or song, in Alcman’s sense of a μέλος νεοχμόν (PMG 14), was not an intrinsically new thing,28 it is fair to say that Hellenistic poets as a group pursued creative experimentation (authorized, presumably, by the institution of the material archive) more intensively than earlier poets had. Like the works of Philitas and his friend Hermesianax of Colophon, Theocritus’ bucolic idylls evoke the comic lives of herdsmen, their earthy songs and wooden tools.29 The simplicity of these hexametrical idylls is deceptive, however, for they also recall (in more than one way) the elevated and often tragic register of archaic heroic epic, a genre dedicated to the exploits of gods and heroes. Idylls 6 and 11 well illustrate the coupling of disparate elements by characterizing the giant Cyclops as a lovelorn bucolic singer. The two idylls are naturally related, though not necessarily consistent with each other.30 In Idyll 6 Polyphemus and the flirtatious Galateia (as she is imagined by the herdsmen Daphnis and Damoetus) seem more evenly matched than they are in Idyll 11, in which the narrator recites Polyphemus’ song in order to demonstrate the value of poetry as a “remedy” (pharmakon) for the pain of unrequited love. Yet the Cyclops’ verse in Idyll 11 is comically clumsy, and Polyphemus is, in Hunter’s phrase, “an imperfect metrician.”31 Indeed, neither idyll is particularly flattering: the Cyclops takes on the appearance of, as M. Fantuzzi puts it, a “grotesque parodic monster,” bearing little relation, for example, to Bion’s later portrait in The Cyclops and Galateia (fr. 16).32 Such elements may owe something to the influence of Philoxenus of Cythera, the author of a satirical dithyrambic poem called Cyclops or Galateia (fourth century).33 Even so, R. Hunter demonstrates that the works with which Theocritus is most deeply engaged, from the fourth century and earlier, were composed in hexameter and elegiac verse.34

  • 35 A. Ambühl, art. cit., p. 379.
  • 36 Cf. R. Hunter, “The Poet Unleaved: Simonides and Callimachus,” in D. Boedeker, D. Sider (eds.), The (...)

15Given the variety of Theocritus’ models, the tone of Idylls 6 and 11 raises further questions for the audience: are we mocking the awkward, foolish Cyclops, or gently sympathizing with his naiveté? It is easy enough to attribute his failure as a lover to his failure as a singer (among other shortcomings), but what is the point here? Is Idyll 11 really telling us that the quality of poetry matters less than its ability to distract the poet (not to mention the audience)? How ironically are we to understand the view of the unnamed narrator, who asserts that Polyphemus’ change of heart is beneficial? The complexity of the idyll and its links to more than one model make it difficult to answer such questions in a way that will satisfy every reader, but we can begin by thinking about the “newness” of Polyphemus himself. His immaturity and inexperience certainly help to explain the inadequacy of his verse. Such an interpretation also suggests an intriguing variation on the trope of the childlike poet, who is more charmingly represented elsewhere in Theocritus, as the boy with the cricket cage in the programmatic Idyll 1. What is interesting (and new) about this trope is, as A. Ambühl reminds us, that it is not traditional: earlier Greek poets neither celebrated nor idealized the innocence of children, but dismissed it instead as deficient, even ridiculous.35 Ambühl argues that the childlike playfulness of Hellenistic poetics (the new, knowing naiveté) has nothing in common with the sentimental and artificial childhood celebrated in nineteenth-century Romantic poetry. As she demonstrates, Callimachus’ images of the poet as child and old man are to be taken as fictitious, as narratological markers rather than as biographical details of the poet’s life (p. 381). Youth and childhood are not sought by an older Callimachus in need of rejuvenation, but herald the poet’s auspicious beginnings, now finally confirmed by the maturation.36 In this way the childlike Callimachus represents the aition of his own enduring success.

  • 37 See A. D. Morrison, The Narrator in Archaic Greek and Hellenistic Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 2007, p.  (...)

16Theocritus’ portrait of the youthful Cyclops in Idylls 6 and 11 offers a similar variation on this kind of metapoetic rebirth. Like Stesichorus’ Geryon, Theocritus’ Polyphemus takes center stage in order to explore new shifts in tone and perspective, and to challenge the expectations of the audience. The interplay between Theocritean characters and narrators, both primary and secondary—any of whom may serve, at one moment or another, as the mouthpiece of the poet himself—is necessarily complex.37 Polyphemus, unlike Geryon, is a singer; Euripides’ chorus refer to his drunken singing (καὶ δὴ μεθύων / ἄχαριν κέλαδον μουσιζόμενος / σκαιὸς ἀπῳδὸς, Cyc. 488–90) and mock his “lovely” song (now a paean) after his blinding (καλός γ᾽ ὁ παιάν: μέλπε μοι τόνδ᾽ αὖ, Κύκλωψ, Cyc. 663). Given the misdeeds of the drunken, gluttonous Polyphemus, he, like Helen and Heracles, offers the poet a greater challenge—whether or not we take the young Polyphemus, like Simichidas in Idyll 7, to be in some way reflective, however ironically, of the Sicilian poet himself.

17Polyphemus’ inadequacy as a singer and his loss of Galateia, whom he calls his sweet apple (τὸ φίλον γλυκύμαλον, Id. 11.39) provide etiological parallels for his eventual defeat by Odysseus and the loss of his eye, which he describes as his “one sweet treasure” (τὸν ἐμὸν τὸν ἕνα γλυκόν, Id. 6.22). Both Galateia and his eye are sweet to Polyphemus, along with, tellingly, the fruit of the vine (ἄμπελος ἁ γλυκύκαρπος, Id. 11.46) and sleep, with which Galateia is explicitly identified (Id. 11.22–23):

φοιτῇς δ᾽ αὖθ᾽ οὕτως ὅκκα γλυκὺς ὕπνος ἔχῃ με,
οἴχῃ δ᾽ εὐθὺς ἰοῖσ᾽ ὅκκα γλυκὺς ὕπνος ἀνῇ με,

Why do you visit at the moment sweet sleep holds me,
And go away at the moment sweet sleep leaves me?

  • 38 The ironic connection between Galateia and the injury the Cyclops will suffer at the hands of Odyss (...)
  • 39 See R. Hunter (ed.), Theocritus. A Selection. Idylls 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11 and 13, Cambridge, CUP, (...)

18The sweet dream girl thus prefigures the sweet wine and sweet sleep, repeated twice for emphasis, that will someday steal away his sweet eye.38 Galateia herself, whom he addresses as κόρα (Id. 11.25, 30), is truly the apple of his eye, which he calls κώρα, a Doric spelling of κόρα that can either mean “girl” or “eye” (καλὰ δέ μευ ἁ μία κώρα, Id. 6.36; cf. Id. 1.82).39

19These parallels and examples show that Theocritus does not simply cast the Cyclops as a young buffoon; rather, he adapts older variants and alternative models, all of which give birth to a neomorphic Cyclops who draws on the archive in order to go beyond it, whose archaic monstrosity is all the sweeter for its translation into generic multiformity. The treatment of Polyphemus is simultaneously old fashioned (akin to figures in Homer’s Odyssey, Euripides’ Cyclops, Philoxenus’ Cyclops or Galateia) and newfangled (as a performer like Daphnis and Damoetus of songs in the idylls). As we see in section 3, such abrupt shifts within the same character, one who is both tragically naïve and comically, ridiculously deficient, are dizzying, and may well appear parodic. As a poetic construct the neomorphic Cyclops is perhaps inevitably grotesque, but as we shall see the poem’s allusive mechanics, particularly the connection between the erotic suffering of the Cyclops and the Platonic image of the erotically suffering soul, transcend it.

Hybridizing a neomorphic Cyclops

20While it is illuminating to think of Polyphemus’ characterization in connection with Stesichorus’ Geryon, I do not wish to suggest that this filiation necessarily outweighs all others. It is worth noting, however, that Stesichorus’ influence on Theocritus’ rendering of the Cyclops has not, to my knowledge, been properly acknowledged. What I hope to demonstrate is the way in which a poem can internalize an archive. As Y. L. Too puts it:

  • 40 Y. L. Too, op. cit., p. 48.

What has been disclosed in the narratives of the library’s birth is a realization that the library is not a body of isolated texts, but is rather connected to a larger body, especially to antecedents—and this may be a truism of literary textuality in general, that it is necessarily related to earlier bodies of work.40

  • 41 Fr. Davies, Finglass 18 (S18) = POxy. 2617 fr. 3 (col. VIII). For simplicity’s sake I follow the ne (...)
  • 42 P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 17–18. See also T. Gantz, op. cit., p. 402–8.

21With this in mind, I would like to turn now to a more literal kind of origin story, one of parents and children. Poseidon is Polyphemus’ father and also the grandfather of Geryon, who was the son of Chrysaor and the nymph Callirhoe, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. In one of the fragments of the Geryoneis, Athena asks whether Poseidon will defend Geryon when he fights with her favorite Heracles,41 but Poseidon’s role in the Geryoneis is less significant (so far as we are able to tell) than that of Callirhoe, who also appears in other versions of the myth. An unidentified female figure is present with Geryon in several vase paintings from the end of the sixth century: in one of these the woman raises her hands in horror or despair as he engages in combat with Heracles, making identification as Callirhoe likely.42 Whether Stesichorus’ Geryoneis is responsible for her prominence in the story is not clear, but Theocritus’ emphasis on Polyphemus’ mother, Thoösa, certainly recalls Stesichorus’ emphasis on Callirhoe. The Odyssey, for obvious reasons, is more concerned with Poseidon and his wrath, whereas Thoösa is mentioned only briefly (Od. 1.70–72). Callirhoe’s speech is an emotional highlight of the Geryoneis:

  • 43 Fr. 17 Davies, Finglass (S13) = POxy. 2617 fr. 11.

             ] ἐ̣γ̣ὼν̣ [μελέ]α καὶ ἀλασ‑[
       τοτόκος κ]αὶ ἄλ̣[ασ]τ̣α̣ π̣α̣θοῖσα·
          Γ]αρυόνα γωνάζομα[ι,
5     αἴ ποκ᾽ ἐμό]ν τιν μαζ[ὸν] ἐ̣[πέσχ
                   ]ω̣μον γ[
                   ]           [
             φίλαι γανυθ̣[ε
             ροσύναιϲ̣[
10               ]δ̣εα πέπλ̣[ον
       ] . [..]κλυ …[
                   ]ρευγων·
                   ]γ̣ον ελ[43

             I, an unhappy woman, endlessly pained by
       my child’s birth, endlessly suffering,
          Geryon, I supplicate you
       if ever my breast I offered you
                   . . . your dear, delight . . .
                   . . . good cheer . . .

                   robe . . . 


  • 44 C. Segal, art. cit., p. 194.

22This passage shows us Geryon through Callirhoe’s eyes, as the terms of her supplication reduce the giant not just to human proportions, but to the infant, the nursling he once was and still remains to her. C. Segal points out the Homeric resonance of the scene: “The pathetic contrast between the concern of loved ones and the firmness of the doomed warrior is even stronger in the scene between Geryon and his mother, Callirhoe. This scene of warrior and mater dolorosa draws heavily on the exchanges between Thetis and Achilles in Iliad 18 and Hector and Hecuba in Iliad 22.”44

23If Geryon is figuratively young in Callirhoe’s speech, Polyphemus is quite literally youthful; according to Nicias he has just started growing a beard (ἄρτι γενειάσδων περὶ τὸ στόμα τὼς κροτάφως τε, Id. 11.9). His rebellious frustration with his mother, Thoösa (Od. 1.70–72), seems appropriate for an adolescent, or anyone experiencing his (or her) first love. Thoösa is not mentioned in Idyll 6, and she has no speaking part in Idyll 11, but she does play a dominant role in Polyphemus’ life, and he refers to her several times. Speaking to Galateia (who, like Thoösa, is absent), Polyphemus here explains that his mother first brought them together (Id. 11.24–26):

       ἠράσθην μὲν ἔγωγε τεοῦς, κόρα, ἁνίκα πρᾶτον
25   ἦνθες ἐμᾷ σὺν ματρὶ θέλοισ᾽ ὑακίνθινα φύλλα
       ἐξ ὄρεος δρέψασθαι, ἐγὼ δ᾽ ὁδὸν ἁγεμόνευον.

       I desired you, my girl, that first time
       You came with my mother to pluck
       Hyacinth blooms from the hillside, and I led the way.

24Polyphemus’ speech in this passage as throughout the idyll, is “poly-phemic”: his speech is multiple in that it ironically says more than he realizes—he is speaking, as Homer says of Penelope’s suitors, with the jaws of other men. His description of this first encounter unwittingly alludes to several unhappy love affairs. The hyacinth, a mountain flower whose petals were marked by a lament, recalls Apollo’s ill-fated love. The apostrophe to Galateia (here as elsewhere in the poem called Kora) and the floral setting of their first meeting both suggest Hades’ abduction of Persephone. If we extend the comparison Thoösa becomes a Demeter figure, which is particularly suggestive inasmuch as she favors Galateia over her own son, at least in his (possibly skewed) view. Like Galateia, Thoösa is a sea nymph, and as Polyphemus complains, she never has anything good to say to about him (Id. 11.67–71):

ἁ μάτηρ ἀδικεῖ με μόνα, καὶ μέμφομαι αὐτᾷ·
οὐδὲν πήποχ᾽ ὅλως ποτὶ τὶν φίλον εἶπεν ὑπέρ μευ,
καὶ ταῦτ᾽ ἆμαρ ἐπ᾽ ἆμαρ ὁρεῦσά με λεπτύνοντα.
φασῶ τὰν κεφαλὰν καὶ τὼς πόδας ἀμφοτέρως μευ
σφύσδειν, ὡς ἀνιαθῇ, ἐπεὶ κἠγὼν ἀνιῶμαι.

My mother is the one who wrongs me, and I blame her;
Not once has she ever said something kind to you about me,
Even though day after day she sees me pining away.
I’ll say that from my head down to both my feet
I am aching, so that she may feel pain just as I feel pain.

  • 45 In Idyll 6 Damoetus’ song omits Thoösa, but the singer does mention the old woman Cotyttaris, whose (...)

25At first glance the frustration Polyphemus feels is comic, and humanizing: even monsters, apparently, have trouble with their mothers. The thought of punishing her for her (maternal) neglect allows him to sublimate his frustration at Galateia’s lack of (romantic) interest. Polyphemus’ narcissistic self-absorption paradoxically transforms and intensifies the familiar trope of the grieving mother. Polyphemus’ hope that his mother will one day suffer as he does offers an erotic etiology for the Cyclops’ blinding, hinting at the reason why Thoösa is doomed to feel pity for her son. By cursing Thoösa, Polyphemus also dooms himself to greater suffering: the care taken by the superstitious Polyphemus to ward off evil in Idyll 6 is absent in Idyll 11.45 Polyphemus’ desire that Thoösa should suffer “explains” both his fate and her transformation into a Demeter or a Callirhoe, though her grief will neither be mediated like the former, nor so great as that of the latter. Theocritus here frames Polyphemus’ future blinding as a kind of punishment for falling in love at first sight.

  • 46 Cf. K. Gutzwiller, Theocritus’ Pastoral Analogies. The Formation of a Genre, Madison, University of (...)
  • 47 V. Liapis, “Polyphemus’ Throbbing ΠΟΔΕΣ: Theocritus Idyll 11.70–71,” Phoenix 63, 2009, p. 157, righ (...)
  • 48 E.g., Hippocrates, Epid. 2.5.16, 2.6.5; Morb. 2.12.44; Aristotle, Hist. an. 521a.6; Erasistratus, c (...)

26What is more, Polyphemus’ description of his suffering in this passage offers a deeper understanding of the medical and philosophical traditions that also inform this neomorphic Cyclops. The emphasis is on l. 70, on what Polyphemus claims he will tell (φασῶ) his mother: he imagines that she is ignoring his pain, so he, like more than one child, consoles himself by imagining how guilty she will feel for callously dismissing his physical symptoms. He wants her both to acknowledge his anguish and (consequently) to have a share in it. The portrait of the Cyclops’ psychology rings true here, and suggests that, like a child, Polyphemus is exaggerating his ailments in order to win sympathy from his mother or Galateia or anyone who will listen.46 But whether Polyphemus knows it or not, and whether his pain is exaggerated or not, the description of his anguish as σφύσδειν (“throbbing,” “pulsating”) draws on Plato’s famous description of frustrated desire in the Phaedrus.47 Medical writers as well as Aristotle use this verb in discussions of fluids in the body,48 but it appears only once in Plato’s writings. In a discussion of the pain suffered by the lover’s soul when it is separated from the beloved, Socrates describes heartache as the “growing pains” of the soul’s latent feathers (Phdr. 251d5):

ἡ δ᾽ ἐντὸς μετὰ τοῦ ἱμέρου ἀποκεκλῃμένη, πηδῶσα οἷον τὰ σφύζοντα, τῇ διεξόδῳ ἐγχρίει ἑκάστη τῇ καθ᾽ αὑτήν, ὥστε πᾶσα κεντουμένη κύκλῳ ἡ ψυχὴ οἰστρᾷ καὶ ὀδυνᾶται, μνήμην δ᾽ αὖ ἔχουσα τοῦ καλοῦ γέγηθεν.

The sprout [of each feather] is shut away with its desire, and it throbs like an artery, and each one pricks at its entrance, so that the whole soul is stung in a ring with the point and suffers, but with the recollection of the boy once again it is delighted.

  • 49 Cf. also Id. 11.52: here Cyclops notes his ability to withstand the pain of her burning his shaggy (...)
  • 50 The same phrase (πᾷ τὰς φρένας ἐκπεπότασαι) is repeated at Idyll 2.19, when Simaetha scolds her mai (...)

27The medical analogy of the pulsing of an artery illustrates the suffering of the whole soul, which was once, as Socrates notes, completely feathered: πᾶσα γὰρ ἦν τὸ πάλαι πτερωτή (Phdr. 251b7). Just the vestigial wings of the soul attempt to grow under the influence of the desire for beauty, so too is Polyphemus’ whole body, head to toe, said to throb and pulsate with erotic pain (φασῶ τὰν κεφαλὰν καὶ τὼς πόδας ἀμφοτέρως μευ / Σφύσδειν, Id. 11.70–71). The emphatic placement of the word σφύσδειν at the beginning of the line emphasizes the connection between the Cyclops’ anguish and the wounds that encircle (κύκλῳ . . . οἰστρᾷ) the soul of the frustrated lover.49 The close proximity of τὰ σφύζοντα and κύκλῳ marks it as important for our understanding of the Cyclops’ suffering, and the allusion is confirmed by the following line in the idyll (Id. 11.72): ὦ Κύκλωψ Κύκλωψ, πᾷ τὰς φρένας ἐκπεπότασαι (“Cyclops, Cyclops, where have your wits flown?”). The emphatic repetition of the name Κύκλωψ recalls the ring of suffering that encircles the Platonic lover’s soul.50 Finally, I read Polyphemus’ reference to his wits flying away (ἐκπεπότασαι) as a capping reference to the soul’s winged nature, one that underscores the irony of the Cyclops’ decision to look for other girlfriends. From a Platonic perspective, in other words, the Cyclops’ desire for Galateia begins a philosophical journey that fails at the very moment he abandons his love and “comes to his senses.” Theocritus accordingly offers an alternative story about the blinding of the Cyclops, who “lost sight” of a path to self-knowledge long before the arrival of Odysseus.

28Theocritus’ layered portrayal of the multiple traditions informing a Cyclops who is at once ignorant and innocent, vulgar and vulnerable intensifies with a chain of allusions that hinge on another floral image: the bouquet of red poppies that he wishes he could offer Galateia (Id. 11.57; see below). The Homeric model is the death of Gorgythion (Il. 8.306–8):

μήκων δ᾽ ὡς ἑτέρωσε κάρη βάλεν, ἥ τ᾽ ἐνὶ κήπῳ
καρπῷ βριθομένη νοτίῃσί τε εἰαρινῇσιν,
ὣς ἑτέρωσ᾽ ἤμυσε κάρη πήληκι βαρυνθέν.

As to one side a poppy, one in a garden, drops its head,
Weighed down by its blossom and spring rains,
So to one side his head fell, burdened by its crested helm.

  • 51 See C. Segal, art. cit., p. 191.

29Scholars agree that the model for Geryon’s death is this description of Gorgythion. As Segal observes, “In the high seriousness of the heroic style a monster exterminated by Heracles can also be a victim with whom we can sympathize.”51

  • 52 Fr. 19 Davies, Finglass 44–47 (S15 + 21) = POxy. 2617 fr. 1 + 4 + 5 (coll. XI–XII).

       ἀπέκλινε δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ αὐχένα Γ̣α̣ρ̣[υόνας
15      ἐπικάρσιον, ὡς ὅκα μ[ά]κ̣ω̣[ν
       ἅτε καταισχύνοισ’ ἀπ̣α̣λ̣ὸ̣ν̣[δέμας
       ύνοισ’ ἁπ̣α̣λ̣ὸ̣ν̣ [δέμας
          αἶψ᾽ ἀπὸ φύλλα βαλοῖσα̣ ν̣ [52

       Geryon tilted his neck
          To the side, as a poppy,
       Disgracing its tender stem
          Suddenly sheds its petals . . .

  • 53 R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 59–63.

30Theocritus’ contemporary, Apollonius of Rhodes, similarly reworked previous texts and treated some of the same themes in different ways.53 Compare these two poppy similes with the following description of Jason’s aristeia against the earthborn men (Argon. 3.1396–404):

  • 54 Compare Apollonius’ use of the unusual term πλαδαρός (“moist,” “loose,” “watery”) with Theocritus’ (...)

   πολλοὶ δ᾽, οὐτάμενοι πρὶν ὑπὲρ χθονὸς ἴχνος ἀεῖραι,
ὅσσον ἄνω προύκυψαν ἐς ἠέρα, τόσσον ἔραζε
βριθόμενοι πλαδαροῖσι54 καρήασιν, ἠρήρειντο·
ἔρνεά που τοίως, Διὸς ἄσπετον ὀμβρήσαντος,
φυταλιῇ νεόθρεπτα κατημύουσιν ἔραζε
κλασθέντα ῥίζηθεν, ἀλωήων πόνος ἀνδρῶν,
τὸν δὲ κατηφείη τε καὶ οὐλοὸν ἄλγος ἱκάνει
κλήρου σημαντῆρα φυτοτρόφον—ὧς τότ᾽ ἄνακτος
Αἰήταο βαρεῖαι ὑπὸ φρένας ἦλθον ἀνῖαι·

Many, wounded before they could lift their feet above the ground,
As far into the air as they sprang up, leaned back so far to the earth
Weighed down with lolling heads.
Like shoots, after the torrential rains of Zeus,
In an orchard, fresh plantings, drooping to the earth,
Torn up from the root, the labor of men in the fields.
And grief and killing pain reach him,
The landowner raising the crop—thus at that moment King
Aeetes’ heart was troubled by heavy thoughts.

  • 55 M. Fantuzzi, R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 281–82.

31M. Fantuzzi discusses the similarity between this passage and the Homeric description of Trojans and Achaeans cutting each other down on the battlefield like reapers on a wealthy man’s estate (Il. 11.67–71). He notes that Apollonius intensifies the simile here (as elsewhere) through the close proximity of the vehicle and the tenor: these monsters actually are growing out of the earth.55 But in contrast to Homer, as he observes, Apollonius emphasizes the premature nature of the harvest, Zeus’ rainstorm destroys the plantings long before their end. At the same time, I would add, the lives of the earthborn are always brief, their deaths as swift as their sudden generation, at least in Colchis.

  • 56 R. Hunter (ed.), Apollonius of Rhodes. Argonautica, op. cit., p. 254, ad 1393–98 s.v. πλαδαροῖσι; “ (...)
  • 57 The reasons for Aeetes’ grief, of course, are different, and also invert the paradigm: he is troubl (...)

32The main point here is that Apollonius is also adapting the poppy similes in Homer and Stesichorus, expanding the number of fallen warriors. The simile recalls Glaucus’ famous speech, comparing the generations of men and leaves (Il. 6.146–49), and the likeness of the monstrous earthborn to plants with soft, drooping heads, like those of infants.56 As with the Geryon and Polyphemus, the poet’s emphasis on the unseasonable death of the anonymous earthborn rouses the pity of the audience. Apollonius renews and reconfigures the heroic ethos by representing the youth and vulnerability of monsters in the manner of Homeric warriors. Moreover, the closing turn back to Aeetes, who suffers pain at the death of the earthborn, suggests the variation of the pattern by including a paternal counterpart to the grieving Callirhoe and Casteaneira, the mother of Gorgythion (Il. 8.305).57

33Apollonius’ expansion and adaptation of the death of Gorgythion and, I suggest, of Geryon as well, substitutes an entire orchard for the image of the single poppy flower. It is difficult to determine whether Apollonius or Theocritus adopted the poppy image first, but it is clearly associated with tragic misfortune. The poppy appears in the following crucial section of Idyll 11 (v. 50–62):

50   αἰ δέ τοι αὐτὸς ἐγὼν δοκέω λασιώτερος ἦμεν,
       ἐντὶ δρυὸς ξύλα μοι καὶ ὑπὸ σποδῷ ἀκάματον πῦρ·
       καιόμενος δ᾽ ὑπὸ τεῦς καὶ τὰν ψυχὰν ἀνεχοίμαν
       καὶ τὸν ἕν᾽ ὀφθαλμόν, τῶ μοι γλυκερώτερον οὐδέν.
       ὤμοι, ὅτ᾽ οὐκ ἔτεκέν μ᾽ ἁ μάτηρ βράγχι᾽ ἔχοντα,
55   ὡς κατέδυν ποτὶ τὶν καὶ τὰν χέρα τεῦς ἐφίλησα,
       αἰ μὴ τὸ στόμα λῇς, ἔφερον δέ τοι ἢ κρίνα λευκά
       ἢ μάκων᾽ ἁπαλὰν ἐρυθρὰ πλαταγώνι᾽ ἔχοισαν·
       ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν θέρεος, τὰ δὲ γίνεται ἐν χειμῶνι,
       ὥστ᾽ οὔ κά τοι ταῦτα φέρειν ἅμα πάντ᾽ ἐδυνάθην,
60   νῦν μάν, ὦ κόριον, νῦν αὐτίκα νεῖν γε μαθεῦμαι,
       αἴ κά τις σὺν ναῒ πλέων ξένος ὧδ᾽ ἀφίκηται,
       ὡς εἰδῶ τί ποχ᾽ ἁδὺ κατοικεῖν τὸν βυθὸν ὔμμιν.

But if I myself seem to you too coarse,
I have oak timbers there, and immortal fire beneath the ash.
Burning by you I could bear, of my soul
And my one eye too, than which I have nothing sweeter.
Oh, why didn’t my mother bear me with gills!
Then I would have gone down and kissed your hand
If you don’t wish your lips, and brought you white snowdrops
Or a tender poppy with its broad red petals.
But the one grows in hot weather and the other in cold,
So I wouldn’t be able to bring them both to you.
Now, really, baby girl, now soon I am going to learn how to swim,
I wish some stranger sailing with a ship could come here,
So I could see how it is possible for you [pl.] to live sweetly in deep water.

  • 58 Od. 20.23; 21.181. In the Iliad the phrase appears more frequently: 5.4; 15.598, 731; 16.122; 18.22 (...)

34This passage, as is generally recognized, foreshadows Polyphemus’ blinding, explicitly in the reference to the arrival of someone (τις) with a ship, and also with the phrase ὑπὸ σποδῷ ἀκάματον πῦρ (v. 51). The words ὑπὸ σποδῷ reference the “deep ash” (ὑπὸ σποδοῦ, Od. 9.375) in which Odysseus will heat the stake, while ἀκάματον πῦρ recalls the “unwearying fire” of Odysseus’ hearth at home, where Penelope awaits his return.58 These allusions, all of which point to a future that the audience well knows will come to pass, are at the same time contrasted here with several unrealized and unrealizable events: the Cyclops born with gills, or kissing Galateia’s hand or lips, or offering the impossible gift of asynchronous blooms: the white lily and the red poppy.

35Theocritus’ description in l. 57 of the “delicate poppy, with its soft red petals” (ἢ μάκων᾽ ἁπαλὰν ἐρυθρὰ πλαταγώνι᾽ ἔχοισαν) reworks Stesichorus’ simile of the poppy, which, like Geryon, suddenly drops its head and spoils its delicate body (ἐπικάρσιον, ὡς ὅκα μ[ά]κ̣ω̣[ν / ἅτε καταισχύνοισ᾽ ἁπ̣α̣λ̣ὸ̣ν̣ [δέμας / αἶψ᾽ ἀπὸ φύλλα βαλοῖσα̣ .[). The poet strengthens this connection by using ἐρυθρὰ (“red”), a term that does not occur elsewhere in the Idylls. Poppies are of course red, but the placement of this word, which evokes the name of Geryon’s island (Erytheia), in the midst of this phrase, secures the association. Although the petals of the Cyclops’ bouquet are still attached and his flowers have not (yet) drooped to one side, we can read his pain as imminent in the delicacy (ἁπαλὰν) of this flower that recalls the delicate body (ἁπ̣α̣λ̣ὸ̣ν̣ [δέμας) of Geryon’s poppy. The pattern of identification that links these fatalistic blooms with Geryon, Gorgythion, and the earthborn reinforces Polyphemus’ (self-determined) vulnerability and effectively marks him as next in line: his head has not yet fallen, but it will.

  • 59 Cf. Hymn. Hom. 2.6–8: the first floral catalogue includes violets but does not mention the leirion (...)
  • 60 Virgil, Aen. 12.64–71; Catullus 61.185–88; Ovid, Met. 10. See J. Dyson, “Lilies and Violence: Lavin (...)
  • 61 Ibid.

36Finally, the reference to the white lily, the krinon, returns us to the parallel noted above with Kore’s abduction. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter Persephone lists the white lily, there called a leirion, “a wonder to see” (καὶ λείρια, θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι, Hymn. Hom. 2.427) among the flowers she was collecting before her abduction.59 Catullus, Virgil, Ovid, and other Latin poets, drawing on this passage and others, such as the famous comparison of Menelaus’ wound to a horse’s ivory cheek piece (Il. 4.141–47), will later make frequent use of the motif of white and red flowers, especially the poppy, as a hymeneal trope.60 In such figures the transfer of the color red to white can connote, as J. Dyson puts it, both “the violence of defloration and the eroticism of battle: both activities cause beautiful young virgins to be plucked, or cut down like flowers.”61 One could perhaps minimize the symbolic resonance of the white lilies and the delicate poppies with their scarlet petals, and read them as customary components in the play of literary imagery. What is important here, though, is the erotic rift evoked by this impossible pairing: Polyphemus could offer either the lily or the poppy, but not both: the red cannot mingle with the white, just as the Cyclops cannot mingle with the nymph.

37The main question this article poses is whether these and the other allusions we have considered are sufficiently resilient to rehabilitate (if not completely cure) Theocritus’ Cyclops. On my view the variety of themes and images that are allusively coded in his problematic, collective nature intensify our response to his transformation, which is balanced and brought into focus by its connection with Geryon. The Geryoneis invokes the Homeric pharmakon both to destroy the old image of the monster and to reconfigure him as a heroic, tragic character. The metapoetics of Polyphemus’ chaotic, unstable monstrosity are admittedly messier, and literalized in a larger number of conflicting and competing modes and genres: heroic, tragic, parodic, comic, ironic and philosophic by turns. But Stesichorus’ approach to Geryon offers a crucial model for Theocritus’ treatment of the unwieldy, “polyphemic” Cyclops. The song of the Cyclops is flawed, his vision imperfect, his rhetoric ineffective, and his “cure” laced with irony, but these etiological idylls tell us why, and the story is new—it is not the one we might expect. The Cyclops is not the first of his kind, nor is he fully a part of any one tradition: he is a newly constructed catalogue of fragments, an archive in himself.

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Note

2 In keeping with Egyptian custom, much of the Egyptian architecture of Alexandria, particularly religious buildings, recycles Dynastic-era Egyptian structures in other cities (e.g., Heliopolis); both classical and Egyptian architectural styles changed during the Ptolemaic period. See A. D. Morrison, The Narrator in Archaic Greek and Hellenistic Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 2007, p. 119–36, 149, 185–86.

3 F. M. Haikal, “Private Collections and Temple Libraries in Ancient Egypt,” in M. A. El‑Abbadi, O. M. Fathalla (eds.), What Happened to the Ancient Library of Alexandria?, Leiden, Brill, 2008, p. 39–54.

4 Y. L. Too, The Idea of the Library in the Ancient World, Oxford, OUP, 2010.

5 Fr. 175B Davies, Finglass (213 PMG) = Dion. Thrax 190.26–30 Hilgard.

6 Pliny, HN 7.192.

7 First published in 1992 as Über das Neue.

8 B. Groys, On the New, trans. G. H. Goshgarian, Brooklyn, Verso, 2014, p. 21.

9 M. Fantuzzi, R. Hunter, Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 2004, p. vii–viii.

10 Whether silently, or recited, or performed by one or more actors; see R. Hunter (ed.), Apollonius of Rhodes. Argonautica. Book III, Cambridge, CUP, 1989, p. 11; P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 48–49, 53–56.

11 M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), Stesichorus. The Poems, Cambridge, CUP, 2014, p. 36–37; P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 44–45.

12 On Stesichorus in general, see M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), op. cit.; P. J. Finglass, A. Kelly (eds.), Stesichorus in Context, Cambridge, CUP, 2015. See also M. L. West, “Stesichorus,” CQ 21, 1971, p. 302–14; C. Segal, “Stesichorus: Archaic Choral Lyric 6.3,” in P. E. Easterling, B. M. W. Knox (eds.), The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. I, Greek Literature, Cambridge, CUP, 1985, p. 165–201.

13 R. Hunter, Theocritus and the Archaeology of Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 1996, p. 44; P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 48–49, 53–56.

14 T. Power, The Culture of Kitharôidia, Cambridge, Hellenic Studies 15, 2010, p. 284; R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 6, 149–51.

15 On the island of the Cyclopes, Thucydides 6.2; on Erytheia: Hesiod, Theog. 290–94, 983; see also fr. 9 Davies, Finglass (184 PMG) = Strabo 3.2.11.

16 P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 40–45.

17 Homer does not explicitly say he has one eye; Hesiod explains that the Cyclopes who forge Zeus’ thunderbolts are so called for a single round eye (κυκλοτέρης ὀφθαλμὸς) on the forehead (Theog. 145).

18 On Polyphemus’ “many voices” see further A. Faulkner, “Callimachus’ Epigram 46 and Plato: The Literary Persona of the Doctor,” CQ 61, 2011, p. 178–85, esp. p. 180.

19 On the different representations of Geryon, see T. Gantz, Early Greek Myth. A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, p. 402–8, esp. p. 402–3.

20 Cf. Euripides, Cyc. 130: the Cyclops hunts with a number of dogs.

21 A. Barchiesi, “Future Reflexive: Two Modes of Allusion and Ovid’s Heroides,” HSPh 95, 1993, p. 333–65.; See also R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 149–66.

22 R. Hunter, “Sweet Stesichorus: Theocritus 18 and the Helen Revisited,” in P. J. Finglass, A. Kelly (eds.), op. cit., p. 145–63, esp. p. 152–54.

23 E.g., the conversation with ram; see M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), op. cit., p. 36 with n. 204.

24 It is unclear whether Stesichorus was responsible for Geryon’s popularity in the sixth and fifth centuries; see M. L. West, art. cit., p. 306. The monster was featured in the poetry of Ibycus as well as Athenian vase painting and architecture (e.g., the metopes of the Athenian Treasury at Delphi, the Temple of Zeus at Olympia); see further M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), op. cit., p. 230–43; P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 15–19; C. L. Wilkinson, The Lyric of Ibycus. Introduction, Text and Commentary, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2013, p. 140, 186–88.

25 E.g., Apollonius’ explicit decision to sing of the heroes rather than the building of the Argo (Argon. 1.18–22).

26 A. Ambühl, “Children as Poets—Poets as Children? Romantic Constructions of Childhood and Hellenistic Poetry,” in A. Cohen, J. B. Rutter (eds.), Constructions of Childhood in Ancient Greece and Italy, Princeton, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Hesperia. Suppl. 41, 2007, p. 383.

27 B. Acosta-Hughes, “The Prefigured Muse: Rethinking a Few Assumptions on Hellenistic Poetics,” in J. J. Clauss, M. Cuypers (eds.), A Companion to Hellenistic Literature, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, p. 81–91.

28 T. Power, op. cit., p. 203.

29 K. Spanoudakis, Philitas of Cos, Leiden, Brill, 2002, p. 30.

30 R. Hunter, op. cit.; M. Payne, Theocritus and the Invention of Fiction, Cambridge, CUP, 2007.

31 R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 30.

32 M. Fantuzzi, R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 184.

33 For discussion of later poets (including Theocritus) who evidently expand on Philoxenus’ (lost) Cyclops, see J. H. Hordern, “Cyclopea: Philoxenus, Theocritus, Callimachus, Bion,” CQ 54, 2004, p. 285–92.

34 R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 29–30.

35 A. Ambühl, art. cit., p. 379.

36 Cf. R. Hunter, “The Poet Unleaved: Simonides and Callimachus,” in D. Boedeker, D. Sider (eds.), The New Simonides. Contexts of Praise and Desire, Oxford, OUP, 2001, p. 242–54; B. Acosta-Hughes, S. A. Stephens, “Rereading Callimachus’ ‘Aetia’ Fragment 1,” CPh 97, 2002, p. 238–55. A. Ambühl notes that Callimachus’ representation of the infant Artemis is not simply a cute Hellenistic spin on a Homeric hymn but rather the inventor of her own future, art. cit., p. 382): the child serves as the aition for the adult goddess.

37 See A. D. Morrison, The Narrator in Archaic Greek and Hellenistic Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 2007, p. 221–70, esp. 261–68.

38 The ironic connection between Galateia and the injury the Cyclops will suffer at the hands of Odysseus is reinforced by the use of the word γλυκύς. The term and its compounds appear only four times in Idylls 6 (1x) and especially 11 (3x); moreover, it appears more frequently in Id. 11 than in any other idyll except 15 (2.118; 3.54; 7.82; 8.37; 9.34; 12.32; 14.37; 15.13, 117, 146; 16.40; 20.27, 24.7, 75; 30.4). The three instances in 15 are conventional: a term of endearment for the baby, the taste of honey, the quality of the singer’s voice.

39 See R. Hunter (ed.), Theocritus. A Selection. Idylls 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11 and 13, Cambridge, CUP, 1999, p. 258 n. 36.

40 Y. L. Too, op. cit., p. 48.

41 Fr. Davies, Finglass 18 (S18) = POxy. 2617 fr. 3 (col. VIII). For simplicity’s sake I follow the new number system used by M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), Stesichorus. The Poems, Cambridge, CUP, 2014, but for clarity will also provide the numbers of the previous standard editions (see further M. Davies, P. J. Finglass (eds.), op. cit., p. 86–90). Fragments with the designation “PMG” refer to D. L. Page (ed.), Poetae melici Graeci, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962/1967; “S” refers to D. L. Page, Supplementum lyricis Graecis, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1974.

42 P. Curtis (ed.), op. cit., p. 17–18. See also T. Gantz, op. cit., p. 402–8.

43 Fr. 17 Davies, Finglass (S13) = POxy. 2617 fr. 11.

44 C. Segal, art. cit., p. 194.

45 In Idyll 6 Damoetus’ song omits Thoösa, but the singer does mention the old woman Cotyttaris, whose advice Polyphemus follows to avoid rousing the envy at his self-flattery: ὡς μὴ βασκανθῶ δέ, τρὶς εἰς ἐμὸν ἔπτυσα κόλπον· / ταῦτα γὰρ ἁ γραία με Κοτυτταρὶς ἐξεδίδαξε, “Then I spat three times on my chest, to escape the evil eye / Just as instructed by Cotyttaris, the wise old crone” (v. 39–40).

46 Cf. K. Gutzwiller, Theocritus’ Pastoral Analogies. The Formation of a Genre, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1991, p. 112, who reads this passage as an indication of the simple-mindedness of the Cyclops who cannot distinguish physical from mental suffering. R. Hunter (ed.), Theocritus. A Selection, op. cit., p. 240 n. 70–71, reads the Cyclops’ physical pain as pretended.

47 V. Liapis, “Polyphemus’ Throbbing ΠΟΔΕΣ: Theocritus Idyll 11.70–71,” Phoenix 63, 2009, p. 157, rightly points out that the term σφύσδειν can be but is not necessarily associated with physical distress. However, his argument seems to me to go too far in suggesting that Polyphemus’ discomfort is a consequence of physical frustration: “alluding to the idea that the procreative fluid is stored in the head and the feet (or in the knees / thighs); the implication being that his failure to have sex with Galateia results in the imprisonment of semen, causing his head and feet to “throb.” I take the accusatives (head and feet) in l. 70 as loosely indicating the extent of the discomfort throughout his body that he wants her to feel guilty about.

48 E.g., Hippocrates, Epid. 2.5.16, 2.6.5; Morb. 2.12.44; Aristotle, Hist. an. 521a.6; Erasistratus, cited by Galen, De puls. diff. 8.702, 14 K. See A. Faulkner, art. cit., p. 180, who notes that the word is common in medical writers, observing that its use here “serves to blend the voices of poet and doctor in the unusual figure of Polyphemus,” and that the poem is an “exploration of the blurring of linguistic registers and intellectual boundaries.”

49 Cf. also Id. 11.52: here Cyclops notes his ability to withstand the pain of her burning his shaggy beard and his soul too (καιόμενος δ᾽ ὑπὸ τεῦς καὶ τὰν ψυχὰν ἀνεχοίμαν).

50 The same phrase (πᾷ τὰς φρένας ἐκπεπότασαι) is repeated at Idyll 2.19, when Simaetha scolds her maid Thestylis for being an idiot (δειλαία) and not paying attention. As far as I can tell, scholars have missed the parallel between the Cyclops’ suffering and this passage in the Phaedrus. R. Hunter (ed.), Theocritus. A Selection, op. cit., p. 241 n. 72, comes close in his acknowledgment of the erotic parallel: “Eros has wings and lovers conventionally ‘fly’ (Anacreon, PMG 378, etc.), but here the metaphor marks distraction of mind.”

51 See C. Segal, art. cit., p. 191.

52 Fr. 19 Davies, Finglass 44–47 (S15 + 21) = POxy. 2617 fr. 1 + 4 + 5 (coll. XI–XII).

53 R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 59–63.

54 Compare Apollonius’ use of the unusual term πλαδαρός (“moist,” “loose,” “watery”) with Theocritus’ word (Id. 11.57; see below) for the “broad” petals of the poppy: πλαταγώνια (derived from lovers took omens by bursting the petal between the hands; see LSJ s.v.). The terms mean different things, but some kind of word play is suggested by the similarity between πλαδα‑ and πλατα‑.

55 M. Fantuzzi, R. Hunter, op. cit., p. 281–82.

56 R. Hunter (ed.), Apollonius of Rhodes. Argonautica, op. cit., p. 254, ad 1393–98 s.v. πλαδαροῖσι; “Vian suggests that there is a further nuance: the earthborn are like young babies whose heads are too heavy for their necks.”

57 The reasons for Aeetes’ grief, of course, are different, and also invert the paradigm: he is troubled by Jason’s survival, rather than the death of the earthborn.

58 Od. 20.23; 21.181. In the Iliad the phrase appears more frequently: 5.4; 15.598, 731; 16.122; 18.225; 21.13, 341; 23.52.

59 Cf. Hymn. Hom. 2.6–8: the first floral catalogue includes violets but does not mention the leirion (roses, crocuses, violets, dwarf iris, hyacinths, and narcissus). The poppy is not included in either floral catalogue, although it, like wheat sheaves, is generally associated with Demeter (cf. Id. 7.157).

60 Virgil, Aen. 12.64–71; Catullus 61.185–88; Ovid, Met. 10. See J. Dyson, “Lilies and Violence: Lavinia’s Blush in the Song of Orpheus,” CPh 94, 1999, p. 281.

61 Ibid.

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Nota di fine

* I am grateful to the Aitia reviewers and my colleague Naomi Kaloudis for their insightful comments and suggestions. All translations are my own.

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Anatole Mori, « Archives, Innovation, and the Neomorphic Cyclops », Aitia [Online], 7.1 | 2017, Messo online il 21 marzo 2017, consultato il 21 luglio 2017. URL : http://aitia.revues.org/1696 ; DOI : 10.4000/aitia.1696

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Anatole Mori

University of Missouri, Columbia

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