Tiberius and Hellenistic Poetry
Cette étude examine la présentation des goûts littéraires de l’empereur Tibère chez Suétone. L’empereur était prétendûment passionné de littérature hellénistique et imita des poètes de l’époque, dont Euphorion, Rhianos et Parthénios. Comment cela contribue-t‑il à la caractérisation de Tibère ? Les goûts de Tibère sont-ils modernes ou démodés par rapport à ceux des autres empereurs romains, en particulier son prédécesseur Auguste ? Une telle passion littéraire est attribuée aussi à l’empereur Hadrien dans la tradition biographique, un cas que l’on peut associer au portrait de Tibère chez Suétone.
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- 1 Cf. M. Möller, Qualis Oratio, Talis Vita. Zu Theorie und Praxis mimetischer Verfahren in der griech (...)
1In this contribution I investigate how the literary taste of the Roman emperor Tiberius is represented in Suetonian biography. This topic may seem unexpected in the framework of the theme ‘Old and New in Hellenistic Poetry,’ so I will briefly explain. Tiberius is characterized in his Suetonian biography as a lover of poetry and a philhellenist. In particular, he allegedly admired and wrote Greek (and other) poetry in imitation of Hellenistic authors, or authors that influenced Hellenistic poetry, or were influenced by it: Rhianus of Crete, Euphorion of Chalcis, and Parthenius of Nicaea (Tib. 70). How does this representation of Tiberius’ literary taste function in his characterization in biography, if we start from the assumption that the ancient idea that ‘style is the man’ can and should be applied as a hermeneutic tool here?1 In particular, is this taste modern or not, and why?
2An intriguing topic in the representations of literary (and rhetorical) taste and style in imperial biography is the complex configuration of old-fashioned versus modern. As I will demonstrate, this opposition seems to have been used by Suetonius to relate or to contrast various emperors to one another, with a characterizing aim. In particular in the case of Augustus and Tiberius as regards their oratorical styles and literary taste, the contrast is very marked. Broadly speaking, Augustus is ‘classicizing’ in literary and rhetorical taste, and Tiberius is not. But at the same time this opposition is sometimes hard to interpret: is a classicistic taste more modern or more old-fashioned than a non-classicizing taste? And what is a non-classicizing taste, really, modern or old-fashioned, or both?
- 2 On Callimachus’ ‘classic’ status in Roman poetry, cf. R. Hunter, The Shadow of Callimachus. Studies (...)
3In particular, we may ask, is a taste for Hellenistic poetry old-fashioned or modern? We might say it was modern, because Parthenius, Rhianus and Euphorion, are simply closer in time to the age of the Caesars than the Attic classics which Augustus is said to have preferred. On the other hand we might assume that Augustan classicism was a new Roman literary fashion (a reaction, perhaps, to the Hellenistically oriented neoterics), and thus nevertheless more ‘modern’ than a taste for Hellenistic poetry. After all, the Hellenistic period proper was a thing of the rather distant past and moreover, Hellenistic poetry itself seemed to prefer looking back to the archaic age rather than to emulate the classical style.2 If neither classicism nor Hellenistic poetry were modern “an sich”, but exist in a cycle of eternal recurrence, it would appear to be most important how one presented and ‘framed’ matters of taste, modernity and old-fashioned-ness.
4So, to recapitulate, these are the main, interconnected, issues that I will be looking at. First I will broach the question of how modern Tiberius was cast as being in contrast with his predecessor Augustus in terms of style, both rhetorical and literary, and why. Next I will analyze in more detail at the questions how and why a taste for Hellenistic poetry is used by Suetonius to characterize Tiberius. To conclude, I will draw a brief comparison with Hadrian’s literary taste, both as represented by the sources and as it may be established from what independent literary remains we have (much more than in the case of Tiberius).
- 3 Cf. A. Wallace-Hadrill, Suetonius: The Scholar and his Caesars, London, Duckwoeth, 1983, p. 176–77. (...)
- 4 Ibid.
- 5 The classic work on the relation of the emperors to Latin literature in general is H. Bardon, Les E (...)
5Before answering these questions some methodological caveats must be addressed. Of course, as with other details in ancient historiography and biography, it is not always clear in what way the representation of imperial literary taste is related to historical reality. Presumably, in most cases there must be some element of truth, otherwise the account would seem wholly implausible,3 but on the other hand, it is also quite clear that selection and positioning of certain facts in a biographical account may nudge readers’ interpretation of a character in a certain direction.4 I will not attempt to tease out evidence for the actual literary taste of Tiberius from Suetonius’ representation, then, contrary to various earlier scholarly analyses.5 What I am interested in, rather, is Suetonius’ representation of this literary taste and its implications.
- 6 The emphatic opposition between Augustus and Tiberius as represented by Suetonius was already remar (...)
6In order to bring out Tiberius’ peculiarities as a speaker and a reader of poetry, it is useful to contrast him with Augustus, who, as I have argued elsewhere, appears to be the model for both imperial oratory and literary taste in Suetonius’ representation.6 Augustus is portrayed as favoring an overall classicizing style, both in oratory and in poetry. In the description of his literary taste there are many references to Classical Athens. He allegedly attempted to write a tragedy entitled Ajax, loved Old Comedy, and his oratorical style must be considered a moderate form of Atticism.
- 7 Cf. A. D. Leeman, Orationis Ratio. The Stylistic Theories and Practice of the Roman Orators, Histor (...)
- 8 Ineptiae sententiarum denotes an exaggerated use of (obscure) one-liners, concinnitas denotes “the (...)
7Indeed, as Suetonius claims, he always strove for a maximum of clarity. (Aug. 86) Although Suetonius’ description nowhere names it, Augustus’ style is generally understood to have been akin to the classic Atticist ideal, being ‘elegans et temperatum’ (86.1).7 He wishes to create a maximum of perspicuity, vitatis sententiarum ineptiis atque concinnitate et ‘reconditorum’ ut ipse dixit ‘verborum fetoribus’ (‘avoiding the silliness of pointed phrases and artful echoes and, as he put it himself, ‘the musty smell of obscure words,’ Aug. 86.2).8 In this description the first part (ineptiae sententiarum; concinnitas) refers to the artificial exuberances of Asianism. The direct quote fetora reconditorum verborum on the other hand points to overzealous archaism. It is not clear whether this kind of archaism is exclusively found in some extreme form of Atticism (as the bipolarity of the Suetonian phrase suggests), or perhaps also in Asianism. But we may note in any case the similarity to Augustus’ own reported description of Tiberius’ style (et exoletas interdum et reconditas voces aucupanti, 86.2).
- 9 Aug. 86. A. D. Leeman, op. cit., p. 220 on the varieties of kakozelia (lit. a striving for what is (...)
- 10 Again the choice of words seems to furnish an example of what Augustus derides, while also suggesti (...)
- 11 The use of the verb aucupo may in fact be another pointed reference to the kind of vocabulary Tiber (...)
- 12 Aug. 86. Augustus further illustrates this by saying that Marcus Antonius is not even able to decid (...)
8Augustus, whose own style represents the golden mean for Suetonius, is shown equally to despise kakozeloi and antiquarii: overly innovative experimentalists and antiquarianists.9 Further on, Augustus playfully chastises Maecenas for his stylistic extravagance, ridiculing his myrobrechis cincinnos (perfume-drenched lovelocks, 86.2), a metaphor for his apparently effeminate and overly ornate style, which presumably made use of such affected Grecizing, newly coined adjectives as myrobrechis.10 Tiberius is also attacked for his his archaizing, obsolete and obscure diction (et exoletas interdum et reconditas voces aucupanti, ‘hunting down abstruse and obscure words,’ ibid.).11 Clearly, in bad taste, “les extrêmes se touchent”: whether overly neologist or overly archaizing, the net result is an obscure style. This seems again borne out by the fact that Augustus ridicules Marcus Antonius, who combines the faults of both experimentalism and archaism. Augustus says that Marcus Antonius apparently longs to be wondered at rather than understood, and seems unable to decide between an overly Atticizing or a ridiculously Asianic style.12
9Let us now look at the famous Suetonian passage describing Tiberius’ studia (Tib. 70).
Artes liberales utriusque generis studiosissime coluit. In oratione Latina secutus est Corvinum Messalam, quem senem adulescens observarat. Sed adfectatione et morositate nimia obscurabat stilum, ut aliquanto ex tempore quam a cura praestantior haberetur. Composuit et carmen lyricum, cuius est titulus “Conquestio de morte L. Caesaris.” Fecit et Graeca poemata imitatus Euphorionem et Rhianum et Parthenium, quibus poetis admodum delectatus scripta omnium et imagines publicis bibliothecis inter veteres et praecipuos auctores dedicavit; et ob hoc plerique eruditorum certatim ad eum multa de his ediderunt. Maxime tamen curavit notitiam historiae fabularis usque ad ineptias atque derisum; nam et grammaticos, quod genus hominum praecipue, ut diximus, appetebat, eius modi fere quaestionibus experiebatur: “Quae mater Hecubae, quod Achilli nomen inter virgines fuisset, quid Sirenes cantare sint solitae.” Et quo primum die post excessum Augusti curiam intravit, quasi pietati simul ac religioni satisfacturus Minonis exemplo ture quidem ac vino verum sine tibicine supplicavit, ut ille olim in morte filii.
- 13 Translations are mine unless noted otherwise.
He studied both Greek and Latin culture with great dedication. In his Latin speech style, he followed Messalla Corvinus, whom he had observed as an old man when he himself was still young. But through affectation and pedantry he so obscured his style that he was sometimes easier to understand when he extemporized than when he spoke prepared. He also composed a lyrical poem entitled “Lament on the death of Lucius Caesar.” He moreover wrote poems in Greek, imitating Euphorion and Rhianus and Parthenius, poets he so admired that he ensured a place for their writings and their portraits in the public libraries among the old and eminent authors, and for this reason a great number of scholars competed to prepare a great number of editions of their works for him. But most of all he was preoccupied by mythological enquiries, amounting to the inept and ridiculous; for he kept testing the scholars, the type of people whose company he cultivated most of all, as we have noted, with this kind of questions: who Hecuba’s mother was, what had been the name of Achilles among the virgins, and what the Sirens used to sing. And when the first day after the death of Augustus he entered the curia as if to satisfy the demands of piety and religion, on the example of Minos he sacrificed with incense and wine, but without flutes, as the latter had once done on the occasion of his son’s death.13
- 14 Cf. Tib. 71; on this topic, see S. Rutledge, art. cit.
- 15 The lament on Lucius Caesar was clearly in Latin. Nothing further is known about this poem, but it (...)
- 16 For his retirement to Rhodes, cf. Tib. 11–14. On his proficiency in Greek, cf. Tib. 57.
10A number of remarkable points come up. In the first place is Tiberius’ philhellenism.14 Of course emperors like Claudius and Nero are likewise represented as tending towards this, but it is here singled out by the reference to the fact that Tiberius actually wrote poems in Greek. This is unusual15 and implies great proficiency, perhaps thought to have been gained in his studious years on Rhodes.16
- 17 Cf. Cicero, Brut. 1.15.1; Quintilian, Inst. 10.1.113; Tacitus, Dial. 18.2. This Messalla Corvinus w (...)
- 18 As we hear elsewhere Tib. 57, Tiberius was a pupil of Theodorus of Gadara, who was allegedly the ri (...)
- 19 Tacitus (Ann. 13) also refers to his way of speaking as consulto ambiguus.
- 20 Dissimulatio is a recurrent topos in both Suetonius’ (Tib. 30) and Tacitus’ (e.g. Ann. 6.50) accoun (...)
11The remarks about his oratorical style seem to mark him out as non-Atticist, perhaps even as Asianist. His model Messalla Corvinus was an emulator of Cicero,17 and apparently Tiberius took some of the more extravagant qualities of this orator too far, indulging, in affectation and pedantry (morositas).18 The perceived effect was that his prepared speeches turned out too convoluted to be easily understood.19 What Suetonius writes about Tiberius’ rhetorical style echoes Augustus’ judgment. Augustus ridiculed him because he used obsolete and recherché vocabulary (et exoletas interdum et reconditas voces aucupanti, 86.2), which made his speeches difficult to follow. Trying to link the style with the man, we see that Tiberius’ character is in general portrayed as secretive, and hard to fathom—a symptom of his paranoia, as described from Tib. 59 onwards.20
12How is the information about Tiberius’ rhetorical style in Tib. 70.1 related to the notice about the poets Tiberius especially admired, Euphorion, Rhianus, and Parthenius? It may immediately be noted that these authors are implicitly characterized as ‘minor’ and ‘uncanonical’ by Suetonius’ notice that Tiberius attempted to have their writings and images stored in the public libraries ‘inter veteres et praecipuos auctores.’ Tiberius wished to insert these poets into the canon of ancient and revered authors, which means that they were neither before this imperial attempt at canonization. The fact that this leads to a sudden vogue of commentaries on these authors (apparently neglected previously) confirms this.
- 21 For the fragments of Euphorion and testimonia, see J. Lightfoot (ed.), Hellenistic Collection. Phil (...)
- 22 On Rhianus see: R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the End of the (...)
- 23 Although this presumably does not mean that he was still alive when Tiberius became emperor. For Pa (...)
- 24 See J. Lightfoot (ed.), op. cit., p. 195 on Euphorion’s “chill and lugubrious tone, the obscurity, (...)
- 25 Lightfoot test. 3 Euphorion (Helladius ap. Photius, Bibl.). For similar judgments on his style, see (...)
13All of the poets here mentioned are usually considered ‘Hellenistic,’ but Euphorion21 and Rhianus22 both date back to the third century BC (a generation later than Callimachus), whereas Parthenius was much more recent and is said to have lived until the age of Tiberius by the Suda.23 The elegist Parthenius and the writer of epyllia Euphorion were particularly known for their lugubriousness and obscurity, both because of their recherché subject matter (unusual and abstruse erotic and aetiological mythical lore) and their predilection for glosses and hapax legomena;24 what one might plausibly refer to as exoletae et reconditae voces, and what is in fact by one testimonium on Euphorion referred to as kakozelia.25 Rhianus, the third century writer of local heroic epic (e.g. the Messeniaka) is not so much obscure in vocabulary and style, but rather on account of his predilection for little known, often local, legendary history. So the obvious qualities that connect Tiberius’ rhetorical style and his literary taste are: the obsolete, the obscure, the pedantic, in a word: kakozelia.
- 26 For similar judgments from the imperial period on typically Hellenistic topics and vocabulary: AP 1 (...)
14Because of its ‘obscurity,’ Hellenistic poetry has also always had the reputation of being scholarly, and this certainly goes for the authors whom Tiberius prefers according to Suetonius. This in turn chimes well with the report that Tiberius always surrounded himself with grammatici, asking them all sorts of otiose questions about mythology: about Hecuba’s mother, Achilles’ name when he pretended to be a girl, and what songs the sirens sang. This sounds very much like the staple of Hellenistic poetry: the learned and rarefied type of topic characterized so well by Martial epigram 10.4, who states that whosoever wants to learn nothing about life, should by all means go on and read Callimachus’ Aetia.26
- 27 So, in passing, H. Bardon, op. cit., p. 107; E. Bowie, “Hadrian and Greek Poetry,” in E. N. Ostenfe (...)
15Since Tiberius allegedly wrote poetry in imitation of Parthenius, Rhianus and Euphorion, it is not unthinkable that he is assumed to have questioned the grammatici in order to gain material or information for his own verse. But the choice of the verb experior moreover seems to imply that Tiberius either wished to test the knowledge of these scholars, or perhaps even to compete with them in obscure and pedantic knowledge, as a doctus among the docti. This may remind us of the famous picture of the Ptolemaic Mouseion as sketched by Timon of Phlius in his Silloi, SH 786, where the Alexandrian scholar-poets quarreled in endless competition. But since of course Tiberius is hierarchically superior to his grammatici, the situation is even more pointedly similar to Hadrian’s notorious literary and intellectual competitiveness, and his habit of ridiculing, testing, and competing with the scholars and intellectuals in his entourage, as I shall explore below. It has in fact been suggested that this paragraph in Suetonius thus implicitly comments on certain traits of the current emperor of his own day.27
- 28 Cf. D. Magnino, Plutarco. Alessandro. Cesare, Milan, Rizzoli, BUR, 1987, p. 181, and A. Harder, Cal (...)
16The last piece of information in Tib. 70 seems rather loosely connected to the rest: why is Tiberius said to have imitated the ritual practice of Minos at the death of Augustus, and sacrificed without flute music? Is it meant as another instance of his ineptia in matters of historia fabularis? Certainly, but it might be that there lurks a reference to yet another Hellenistic author here, since we know that the ritual practice referred to by Tiberius’ sacrifice is recorded for Minos in Callimachus’ Aetia (fr. 3–5 Harder)28—a most plausible source for Tiberius’ knowledge, as Suetonius may have been aware.
- 29 Parthenius’ Erotika Pathemata as well as his fragments show a predilection for topics like incest, (...)
17At the same time, the notice surreptitiously suggests that Tiberius’ acts in real life were influenced by his literary taste, or at least that there is a mutual resemblance between the domains. In this case, a relatively innocuous issue of ridiculous pedantry is at stake, resulting in odd and obscure religious behavior. But thinking of the poetry of Parthenius and Euphorion apparently favored and imitated by the emperor, it is not hard to see the kind of connection between literary preferences and real life acts which could be implied besides. Both poets were especially known for their stories of lurid eroticism and extreme cruelty,29 and these qualities are of course easily related to the key moral faults Tiberius is accused of in Suetonius’ biography, especially cap. 43–45; 59–61.
- 30 Probably to be identified with the orator Sabinus Asellius (venustissimus inter rhetores scurra, Se (...)
18Tiberius’ alleged lack of balance, in literary matters as in other things, is further illustrated by anecdotes about the way he shows appreciation, or the reverse, for the poetry and literary works of contemporaries. In the context of Tiberius’ ‘giving free rein to all the vices which he had for a long time ill-concealed,’ i.e., at his retirement to Capri, it is recorded that Tiberius pays a certain Asellius Sabinus30 the exorbitant amount of two hundred thousand sesterces to show his gourmet appreciation of the latter’s literary dialogue in which a mushroom, a fig-picker, an oyster and a thrush compete for a culinary prize (Tib. 42.2). The implication of this anecdote is that Tiberius was unbalanced and irresponsible when it came to showing his favor, and that he enjoyed frivolous, decadent and artificial literature.
- 31 Singillatim crudeliter facta eius exsequi longum est (Tib. 61.2).
- 32 Probably Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus (cos. suff. 21 AD), cf. Tacitus, Ann. 6.29.3. According to Dio 5 (...)
- 33 A. Cremutius Cordus is meant, cf. Tacitus, Ann. 4.34.
19At the other extreme, in the context of the ‘long story’ of Tiberius’ acts of cruelty,31 attention is drawn to Tiberius’ paranoid censure of poetry and historiography in which he reads criticism of his own rule. ‘Every crime was treated as capital, even the utterance of a few simple words’ (Tib. 61.3). Tiberius is said to have put to death a tragedian who depicts king Agamemnon in a negative way,32 and likewise a historian who wrote that Brutus and Cassius were ‘the last of the Romans’;33 their works are destroyed. To emphasize the paranoiac quality of these acts, Suetonius remarks immediately afterwards that these same literary works had been read with approval some years before, indeed, even in the presence of Augustus.
20It seems suggestive to connect these paranoid, and one might say ‘overingenious,’ interpretations (Agamemnon = Tiberius) with Tiberius’ reported habit of concealing his true meaning in his speeches (consulto ambiguus, dissimulatio) and his taste for Hellenistic poetry of the kind described above, which always required readers to work hard to arrive at their true significance, and appreciate their many surreptitious allusions. One might say that thus it is suggested that Hellenistic poetry trained him to be overly alert to allusions.
- 34 E. Sistakou, The Aesthetics of Darkness. A Study of Hellenistic Romanticism in Apollonius, Lycophro (...)
- 35 Also compare J. Lightfoot (ed.), op. cit., p. 195 on Euphorion: “the chill and lugubrious tone, the (...)
21So much for Tiberius’ literary taste as represented by Suetonius. His predilection for Hellenistic poetry is artfully coupled by his biographer to his preference for obscurity in speaking, and his perverse, pedantic, and paranoid character. His literary preferences seem almost constructed as a reaction to those of Augustus, which are characterized as ‘classical.’ Of course it hardly needs mention here that the poets favored by Augustus, those flourishing in his era, such as Vergil, Horace, Propertius and others, were nothing if not influenced by Hellenistic poetry. Yet, as Evina Sistakou has recently shown,34 there are two strands in Hellenistic poetry, the ‘Callimachean,’ more or less ‘classic’ strain and the one represented precisely by authors like Euphorion, Parthenius, Lycophron and Alexander Aetolus, who espouse an ‘aesthetics of darkness’ as she terms it, which not only revels in obscurity, but moreover privileges elements of what we could consider a ‘Gothic’ sensibility, a predilection for the morbid, the dark, and the perverse.35 It is this particular strain of Hellenism that is allegedly favored and imitated by Tiberius, but not by Augustus; nor is it of course by or the Augustan poets, who are more ‘Callimachean.’
22Perhaps we should here consider for a moment the question how unique or sui generis Tiberius’ Hellenistic taste really was: were his contemporaries as interested as he was in Hellenistic poetry? If so, what can this tell us about Suetonius’ representation? For instance, we know that Tiberius’ adoptive son Germanicus was famous for his translation of Aratus’ Phaenomena. Is this relevant for Suetonius’ portrayal, and thus for this argument? No, for several reasons, it is not. In the first place, we do not find mention of this fact in the Vita Caesarum, where Germanicus is portrayed only briefly and in a very idealizing vein in the opening chapters of the Life of Gaius (Caligula, his son). Secondly, Aratus was, if anything, one of the Callimachean poets, and hardly similar in esthetics to Euphorion cum suis. In the Vita Caesarum, Tiberius is the only emperor who is characterized by a particular taste for this latter kind of Hellenistic poetry.
23Another interesting point is the fact that Gaius (Caligula) is said to have despised several canonical authors, viz. Vergil, Homer, and Livy (Suetonius, Calig. 34). At first sight this may seem to bear some similarities to Tiberius’ un-canonical tastes. But it is reported in the context of Caligula’s insane jealousy of all famous men, and it must be noted that no positive appreciation for any poet is attributed to him: he merely hates the success of these authors. As we shall see below, ‘jealousy’ of Homer, and denigration of Vergil are also reported of Hadrian’s literary taste in Dio and the Historia Augusta, respectively.
24To conclude this section, I would like to stress once more that the relative modernity of Tiberius’ literary preferences is thus in fact paradoxically formed by a taste for the obscure and the obsolete, a taste cultivated by certain Hellenistic poets, who, with the exception of Parthenius, by Tiberius’ time were already gone for three hundred years at least. This in itself might form a confirmation of the fact that Parthenius’ popularity among the neoteric poets was indeed connected with a revival of the ‘dark’ Hellenistic aesthetics represented by Euphorion c.s. As noted, even the Neoterics could of course be considered old-fashioned already by the time of Tiberius, superseded as they were by ‘Augustan’ poetry. But from Suetonius’ account we get the impression that Tiberius aimed at instigating a revival of this originally avant-garde movement, and make Hellenistic authors ‘new’ again. Or perhaps Suetonius is also implying that Tiberius’ aim was to advocate a marginal and uncanonical taste, which rebelled against the classicizing aesthetics of his adoptive father.
- 36 On Hadrian’s literary interests, see W. Den Boer, “Religion and Literature in Hadrian’s Policy,” Mn (...)
- 37 H. Bardon, op. cit., p. 107; E. Bowie, “Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age,” art. cit., p. 175.
25Now, I wish to look briefly at the testimonies for Hadrian’s literary taste in both the historical record and the descriptions in the Historia Augusta and Cassius Dio.36 It has been observed that there appears to be a similarity between Hadrian’s literary taste and that of Tiberius as represented by Suetonius—who was of course ab epistulis at the court of Hadrian.37 Can the tastes attributed to Hadrian be squared with what happens in Suetonius’ Tiberius? Is it possible to draw any conclusions from this? Before answering this, some cautionary words about sources and some methodological questions are in order.
26To begin with, the HA and Cassius Dio should always be approached with caution; the credibility of the former source is especially, as is well-known, subject to grave doubts; this will always have to color any consideration of possible similarities between Suetonius and these sources. Secondly, we must consider the relation between Suetonius’ account and Hadrian’s reputation. It has been argued that Suetonius modeled his representation of Tiberius in order to reflect upon Hadrian, the emperor of his own day. If the late records of Dio and the HA are in concord with what Suetonius says about Tiberius’ literary taste, then perhaps a case could be made for their reliability in this respect. But we might also turn the argument around: perhaps the author(s) of the Vita Hadriani of the HA and Cassius Dio based themselves on Suetonius’ portrayal of Tiberius, although of course that rather begs the question why they would pick him rather than any of the other emperors. On consideration, then, the assumption that Suetonius portrayed traits of Hadrian in his Tiberius seems the more likely.
- 38 Imbutusque inpensius Graecis studiis, ingenio eius sic ad ea declinante, ut a nonnullis Graeculus d (...)
- 39 HAH 14; 15.10, 16, cf. Dio 69.5.1–3. Athenaeus praises Hadrian as mousikotatos (8.361; 13.574). Ter (...)
27So, let us consider the evidence. To begin with, Hadrian is, like Tiberius, represented as a lover of all things Greek,38 and a polymath.39 He moreover surrounds himself with intellectuals of all types, and like Tiberius, is said to have been in continuous competition with them (HAH 15.10–11):
- 40 HAH 15.1, 16, 20, 26, cf. Dio 69.3.6; 69.4.1–6. The epigram AP 9.137 purports to give the complaint (...)
Et quamvis esset oratione et versu promtissimus et in omnibus artibus peritissimus, tamen professores omnium artium semperut doctior risit, contempsit, obtrivit. Cum his ipsis professoribus et philosophis libris vel carminibus invicem editis saepe certavit.40
And although he was most fluent in speech and verse, and excellent in all the arts, yet he always ridiculed, looked down on and denigrated them in the opinion he was more learned. With these same professors and philosophers he often competed through books or poems publicized in turn.
- 41 E. Bowie, “Hadrian and Greek Poetry,” art. cit., p. 172.
28Like Tiberius again, but as we saw, also like Caligula, Hadrian is claimed to have had an unusual, uncanonical taste in literature. He preferred the older to the ‘newer,’ or as Ewen Bowie41 would have it: he tried to dethrone the conventional classics.
- 42 HAH 16.5–6.
Amavit praeterea genus vetustum dicendi. Controversias declamavit. Ciceroni Catonem, Vergilio Ennium, Sallustio Caelium praetulit eademque iactatione de Homero ac Platone iudicavit.42
He furthermore loved the old style of speech. He recited declamations. He preferred Cato to Cicero, Ennius to Vergil, Coelius to Sallustius, and judged with the same arrogance about Homer and Plato.
- 43 In this preference for archaism, Hadrian fits the reigning fashion of the second century AD, whose (...)
- 44 Cf. S. Fein, op. cit., p. 32; E. Bowie, “Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age,” art. cit., p. 176.
- 45 See in particular E. Bowie, “Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age,” art. cit., p. 173. A highly specula (...)
29This is usually taken to mean that Hadrian preferred in each genre the older or less common representative to the established classic.43 The last two names in the list, Homer and Plato, are a little problematic. Probably the implication is that Hadrian prefers obscure alternatives in the same genre.44 The statement of the HA about Homer seems to be confirmed in this sense by Cassius Dio, who claims that Hadrian was so jealous of other people’s fame, even if they were long dead, that he ‘replaced Homer with Antimachus,’ who was very obscure (τὸν γοῦν Ὅμηρον καταλύων Ἀντίμαχον ἀντ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐσῆγεν, οὗ μηδὲ τὸ ὄνομα πολλοὶ πρότερον ἠπίσταντο, 69.4.6). It is unclear what this ‘replacing’ involved,45 but it might simply mean that, like Tiberius before him (Suetonius, Tib. 70), Hadrian ordered statues and editions of Antimachus’ works for the libraries, this was perhaps malevolently interpreted as ‘replacing Homer.’ We may note that Antimachus was of course ‘more modern’ than Homer.
- 46 Cf. e.g. A. Cameron, Callimachus and His Critics, Princeton, PUP, 1995, p. 303–39.
30Like Tiberius, once more, this admiration for an obscure Greek poet, Antimachus,—indeed one who was one of the (contested) predecessors of the scholarly Hellenistic poets46—allegedly inspired Hadrian to poetic imitations, as HA 16.2 recounts: Catacannas libros obscurissimos Antimachum imitando scripsit.
- 47 The MS read catacannas, catacaimos, catacaymos; Bernhardy saw that it should be emended to Catachan (...)
- 48 E.g. Theocritus’ Thalysia, Posideippus’ Soros, Meleager’s and Philip’s Stephanos and the general te (...)
31The title of this poetic imitation as reported here, as well as its putative nature, is highly disputed.47 Since the passage in Dio appears to refer to Antimachus as a replacement for Homer, we might infer that the work of Hadrian in imitation of Antimachus was epic or hexametric too, like Antimachus’ Thebais. On the other hand, Antimachus was most famous for his elegiac Lyde, a long poem on the death of his lady, which included many shorter mythical exempla that related similar misfortunes of love. A consideration, based on one interpretation of the word Catacannae as found in the texts of the contemporary Fronto (29.7 vdH), would support the hypothesis that Hadrian’s Antimachean poem was an elegiac, or perhaps hexametric, poem consisting of a mélange of mythological stories. In a letter to Verus, Fronto refers with this word to a tree with grafts of various branches. Botanical metaphors for mélange and the like can frequently be found in titles of Hellenistic literary works.48
- 49 Cf. Suda s.v. Parthenius; J. Lightfoot (ed.), op. cit., p. 30–33.
- 50 IG 14.1089.
32This hypothesis would gain plausibility if we consider that the Lyde of Antimachus also formed the inspiration for a long elegiac poem of a similar character by Parthenius of Nicaea, entitled Arete, also a lament for a dead wife.49 There is independent material evidence that Hadrian, like Tiberius, admired Parthenius: an epitaph for this poet (possibly composed by Hadrian himself), claiming that Hadrian had reconstructed his grave that had been demolished by a flood, was found on Hadrian’s palatial grounds in Tivoli.50 Interestingly, there may even be an oblique reference to Tiberius in the praise bestowed on Parthenius to the effect that he was “always honoured by famed rulers” (ἀε[ὶ τ]ιμ[ήε]σσι τετιμένον ἡγεμόνες[σ]ι…).
33In connection with the nature of the alleged Antimachean Catachannae, we might moreover consider the information from various sources to the effect that Hadrian apparently indeed composed erotic poetry. One source for this is Apuleius Apologia 11, which is twenty years after Hadrian’s death, and so has some claim to verisimilitude. In the context of the debate of whether an author should or should not be identified with his poetry, Apuleius quotes Hadrian’s epitaph on the poet Voconius, which runs thus: lascivus versu, mente pudicus eras. (“your verse was lecherous but your mind chaste”). Apuleius adds:
quod numquam ita dixisset, si forent lepidiora carmina argumentum impudicitiae habenda. Ipsius etiam divi Hadriani multa id genus legere me memini.
And he would never have said so if racy verses could indeed be held as evidence of lewdness. For I remember to have read a lot of that type of poetry of the divine Hadrian himself.
34Again then, we find a connection (though here denied, but this only means that it was quite plausible and indeed usual to construct it) between poetry and character, style and life. A very similar allegation appears to speak from HA 14.4: In voluptatibus nimius. Nam et de suis dilectis multa versibus composuit [amatoria carmina scripsit]). Especially the fact that this information is related more or less directly after the notice of Antinous’ death in the Nile (quem muliebriter flevit, HA 14.5) seems to imply that the theme of the emperor’s ‘nimium’ dedication to erotic passion and his similarly ‘nimium’ dedication to poetry and literature (Fuit enim poematum et litterarum nimium studiossissimus, HA 14.1) somehow spring from the same or a similar vein. Note also the derogatory tone, which is reminiscent of the way Tiberius’ interest in historia fabularis is chastised by Suetonius (utque ad ineptias et derisum).
35So, to draw the various testimonies and hypotheses about Hadrian’s poem together in one irresponsible speculation: were the Catachannae perhaps a lament for the dead Antinous? We will probably never know, but it does seem to be the case that the offense caused by Hadrian’s dedication both to this boy and to the obscure Antimachus are somehow related in the biographical record.
36Other scholars have analyzed in detail the poetry Hadrian himself composed and the contemporary authors whom he patronized; I will here confine myself to some brief observations. Can his own production and the poets he is known to have patronized be related to Hadrian’s reported taste for Hellenistic poetry and his generally speaking uncanonical literary preferences as recorded by Dio and the HA?
- 51 See, e.g. M. Gabathuler, Hellenistische Epigramme auf Dichter, St. Gallen, 1937; P. Bing, The Well- (...)
37To start with, a number of Greek epigrams are attributed to Hadrian, in various metres (elegiacs and hendecasyllable). The Latin poems are in hexameters, Anacreontics, and a metre which alternates iambics, dimeters, and Aristophaneans. This polymetria is of course in itself a feature of much Hellenistic poetry. Two epigrams feature Trojan heroes in their guise of predecessors of Romans, viz. an epitaph on Hector (AP 9.387, of doubtful attribution) and a dedication to Aeneas of the spoils of the Getan war (AP 6.332). Besides we find an epigram that purports to be Hadrian’s answer to a grammarian (AP 9.137), a dedicatory epigram on occasion of a slain bear (IG 7.1828); an epitaph on Pompey the great (AP 9.402), and some epitaphs on poets, the one on Parthenius we already encountered (possibly by Hadrian himself), and an epideictic epitaph on Archilochus (AP 7.674), who is compared (favorably?) to Homer. The writing of (fictive) epitaphs on poets long dead was a distinctly Hellenistic literary pursuit.51
- 52 Cf. Athenaeus 15.20; POxy. 1085.
- 53 See T. Whitmarsh, art. cit.
38Of the Greek poets Hadrian favored I single out three poets in particular. In the first place Pancrates,52 whose aetiological and panegyrical hexametric poem on the red lotus (called ‘Antinoeis’) born from the blood of a lion slain by Hadrian and Antinous reminds one in theme and choice of topic of certain types of Callimachean panegyric (Victoria Berenices, Coma Berenices); in style it is openly Homericizing and full of glosses. Second, a certain Mesomedes,53 apparently a former slave, wrote riddles and short fables, which seem reminiscent of certain griphoi and ainoi of the Hellenistic era like those of Simmias. A third poet favored by Hadrian, Dionysius the Periegete, wrote a learned Description of the World in verse which was distinctly Hellenistic in its aesthetics of erudition and formal play, e.g. its famous acrostich, in verses 112–34.
39On the Latin side, there is an epitaph attributed to the emperor on his horse Borysthenes, which might remind us of Anyte’s epitaphs for animals. In general Hadrian favored the style made famous after him by the poetae novelli (to which Florus and perhaps Voconius, both of whom he references in his poetry according to the HA and Apuleius, belonged): deliberately simple, with a great preference for diminutives and a simple, parallel structure full of assonances and homoioteleuton. Especially this last trait is usually understood as an imitation of archaic authors like Ennius. Examples of this style are found in the Hadrianic epigrams cited in the HA, ‘animula vagula blandula’, and ‘ego nolo Florus esse’.
40There is thus a certain likeness between the extant samples of his work and his preferences to his taste as described in the biographies, but what we have does not show the very evidently obscure, learned or erotic character of the poetry Hadrian was said to favor, not in Hadrian’s own extant writings, nor particularly in the poetry of authors he patronized. Although we must always take into account that much may have been lost, we might cautiously assume, that this learnedness, eroticism and obscurity are singled out or exaggerated by Hadrian’s biographers for characterizing purposes.
41In this paper I have tried to connect a number of issues. In the first place, I have tried to establish whether Tiberius’ taste for Hellenistic poetry should be considered modern or archaizing. It turned out not to be so simple to answer this question, since Hellenistic poetry can be cast both as modern (i.e. as “avant-garde,” and newer than classical poetry), and as old-fashioned and obsolete (not only in a strictly chronological sense, i.e. as older than a renewed interest in classicism, but also as striving for the overly archaic in vocabulary). Next, I analyzed how Tiberius’ taste for Hellenistic poetry is used by Suetonius to characterize him. I have shown that this taste is in line with his non-classicist rhetorical style, and that a key feature of both seems to be what we might call kakozelia: a deliberate aiming at the obscure, affected, pedantic. Moreover, the topics of the kind of poetry Tiberius allegedly enjoyed presumably were understood to reveal something about his character. Not only portrayed as pedantic and deliberately obscure because of his paranoid mindset, Tiberius was also said to have been interested in perverse eroticism and cruelty. As we saw, this is in marked contrast with the way Augustus’ moderate and classicizing literary taste and style are portrayed.
42So, how do these characteristics of Tiberius’ literary style and taste as reported by Suetonius relate to those of the emperor Hadrian, who initially was a patron of this biographer, both in biography and in the extant texts and independent testimonials? And, how are we to weigh the similarities and parallels? It turns out that there are some striking similarities, especially in the biographical tradition. Philhellenism, competitive intellectualism, writing of Greek Hellenistically oriented poetry, an unclassical and uncanonical taste, and a preference for authors with a recognizably Hellenistic aesthetics (obscurity and eroticism) are used to characterize Hadrian as well as Tiberius in the biographical record. The extant poetry of Hadrian, and the poets we know him to have patronized, though certainly Hellenistically inclined, do not demonstrate a similar striking likeness to the Suetonian portrait of Tiberius’ tastes, nor do they fit the Hadrianic biographical tradition to perfection.
43This would lead us to conclude that a certain level of deliberate construction may have been going on in the biographical record. The echoes are suggestive enough to conclude that a similarity between the two emperors must have been felt. But it is not entirely obvious which way any projection might have gone. It is possible that Suetonius chose to depict traits of Hadrian in Tiberius; it is likely that HA and Dio exaggerated some of Hadrian’s literary susceptibilities. Perhaps they even recognized Hadrian in Suetonius’ Tiberius, but in the end it is methodologically irresponsible to go beyond these tentative suggestions.
1 Cf. M. Möller, Qualis Oratio, Talis Vita. Zu Theorie und Praxis mimetischer Verfahren in der griechisch-römischen Literaturkritik, Heidelberg, Winter, 2004.
2 On Callimachus’ ‘classic’ status in Roman poetry, cf. R. Hunter, The Shadow of Callimachus. Studies in the Reception of Hellenistic Poetry at Rome, Cambridge, CUP, 2006. On Hellenistic poetry’s tendency to look back to the archaic age, cf. A. Cameron, “Genre and Style in Callimachus,” TAPhA 122, 1992, p. 305–12. The tendency to overlook the recent past in favor of a more distant one is referred to in memory studies as ‘the floating gap’ (“fliessende Lücke”). I discuss this issue with regard to Hellenistic poetry in J. J. H. Klooster, Poetry as Window and Mirror. Positioning the Poet in Hellenistic Poetry, Leiden, Brill, 2011, p. 23–24.
3 Cf. A. Wallace-Hadrill, Suetonius: The Scholar and his Caesars, London, Duckwoeth, 1983, p. 176–77. Cf. C. Vout, “Representing the Emperor,” in A. Feldherr (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians, Cambridge, CUP, 2009, p. 261–75.
5 The classic work on the relation of the emperors to Latin literature in general is H. Bardon, Les Empereurs et les lettres latines d’Auguste à Hadrien, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1968 (1st ed: 1940). On Tiberius, see in particular F. R. D. Goodyear, “Tiberius and Gaius: Their Influence and Views on Literature,” ANRW 2.32.1, 1984, p. 603–10; B. Levick, Tiberius the Politician, London, Routledge, 1999, p. 16–18; S. H. Rutledge, “Tiberius’ Philhellenism,” CW 101.4, 2008, p. 453–67; I. Wiegand, Neque libere, neque vere. Die Literatur unter Tiberius und der Diskurs der res publica continua, Munich, Narr, 2013.
6 The emphatic opposition between Augustus and Tiberius as represented by Suetonius was already remarked upon by Bardon (op. cit., p. 110). If we parallel all passages on the studia of the Julio-Claudian emperors, we note that a specific and peculiar theme arises from each of them individually. Thus Caesar is both a top-notch littérateur and a top notch commander, Augustus represents the golden mean of decorum and clarity, Tiberius is too erudite and obscure, Caligula is mad and malevolent, and therefore not interested in poetry, Claudius inept but erudite in historiographical studies, Nero only has a mad ambition for poetry and music and the stage, but none whatsoever for oratory, cf. J. J. H. Klooster, “The styles of the Caesars in Suetonius,” in J. Powell, L. Rubinstein, C. Chremmydas (eds.), From Antiphon to Autocue, Stuttgart, Steiner, forthcoming.
7 Cf. A. D. Leeman, Orationis Ratio. The Stylistic Theories and Practice of the Roman Orators, Historians and Philosophers, I, Amsterdam, A. M. Hakkert, 1963, p. 221.
8 Ineptiae sententiarum denotes an exaggerated use of (obscure) one-liners, concinnitas denotes “the skillful joining of several things.” J. M. Carter (ed.), Suetonius. Divus Augustus, Exeter, Bristol Classical Press, 1982, p. 198, suggests, the word fetor, which is never found as a term of literary criticism, was probably used by Augustus to satirise precisely this kind of abstruseness.
9 Aug. 86. A. D. Leeman, op. cit., p. 220 on the varieties of kakozelia (lit. a striving for what is bad): “Asianist bombast, dissipated sing-song, over-brilliant as well as obscurely formulated sententiae, poetical use of metaphors.” Interestingly, we find the word kakozelia in a testimonium to describe the obscure and farfetched style of Euphorion, one of Tiberius’ favorite poets. The reference is Helladius ap. Photius Library (= Euphorion test. 3 Lightfoot). The antiquarii sought an overly dry and antiquated style.
10 Again the choice of words seems to furnish an example of what Augustus derides, while also suggesting the rhetorical term concinnitas. Cf. Seneca, Ep. 114, which links Maecenas’ style with his degenerate morals, in particular luxuria, cf. M. Möller, op. cit.; A. D. Leeman, op. cit., p. 219–20).
11 The use of the verb aucupo may in fact be another pointed reference to the kind of vocabulary Tiberius favoured.
12 Aug. 86. Augustus further illustrates this by saying that Marcus Antonius is not even able to decide on his rhetorical models: the extremely pedantic and obsolete Annius Cimber (an arcahaizing Atticist, Calboli’s quote), or the inane volubility of the Asianic orators.
13 Translations are mine unless noted otherwise.
14 Cf. Tib. 71; on this topic, see S. Rutledge, art. cit.
15 The lament on Lucius Caesar was clearly in Latin. Nothing further is known about this poem, but it has been suggested that it was written by Tiberius during his “exile” on Rhodes, and was meant to ingratiate him with Augustus (E. Koestermann [ed.], Cornelius Tacitus. Annalen, Heidelberg, C. Winter, 1963, ad Tacitus, Ann. 1.3.3). As regards other emperors and the Greek poetry; Augustus did not write in Greek (Aug. 89.1). We do of course have some Greek poems by Hadrian, see below. Claudius and Marcus Aurelius wrote both Greek and Latin texts, though no poetry survives; Nero’s notorious Iliu Halosis (Ner. 38.2) may well have been in Greek, but there is no evidence for other (early) emperors composing poetry in Greek. Julian the Apostate was of course a native speaker of Greek, and wrote only in that language, poetry as well as prose.
16 For his retirement to Rhodes, cf. Tib. 11–14. On his proficiency in Greek, cf. Tib. 57.
17 Cf. Cicero, Brut. 1.15.1; Quintilian, Inst. 10.1.113; Tacitus, Dial. 18.2. This Messalla Corvinus was also the patron of Tibullus.
18 As we hear elsewhere Tib. 57, Tiberius was a pupil of Theodorus of Gadara, who was allegedly the rival of Apollodorus of Pergamum, Augustus’ teacher (cf. Aug. 89.1).
19 Tacitus (Ann. 13) also refers to his way of speaking as consulto ambiguus.
20 Dissimulatio is a recurrent topos in both Suetonius’ (Tib. 30) and Tacitus’ (e.g. Ann. 6.50) accounts of this emperor.
21 For the fragments of Euphorion and testimonia, see J. Lightfoot (ed.), Hellenistic Collection. Philitas, Alexander of Aetolia, Hermesianax, Euphorion, Parthenius, Cambridge, HUP, Loeb Classical Library 508, 2009, p. 189–466.
22 On Rhianus see: R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1968, p. 148–55; Coll. Alex. 9–21 (cf. SH 715 f.).
23 Although this presumably does not mean that he was still alive when Tiberius became emperor. For Parthenius and the fragments of his poetry, and the prose Erotika Pathemata, see J. Lightfoot (ed.), op. cit., p. 467–648. I will not here rehearse the argument about whether and to what extent Parthenius singlehandedly brought Hellenistic poetry to Rome. On this matter, see in particular S. Hinds, Allusion and Intertext. Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry, Cambridge, CUP, 1998, p. 74–83.
24 See J. Lightfoot (ed.), op. cit., p. 195 on Euphorion’s “chill and lugubrious tone, the obscurity, the determination to throw dust in the eyes of the reader”; Lucian mentions their reputations for wordiness and/or excruciating detail, test. 9 Euphorion = test. 6 Parthenius.
25 Lightfoot test. 3 Euphorion (Helladius ap. Photius, Bibl.). For similar judgments on his style, see further Euphorion test. 3.10.11; Parthenius 5.6.
26 For similar judgments from the imperial period on typically Hellenistic topics and vocabulary: AP 11.20 Antipater of Thessalonica; 11.321 Philippus.
27 So, in passing, H. Bardon, op. cit., p. 107; E. Bowie, “Hadrian and Greek Poetry,” in E. N. Ostenfeld (ed.), Greek Romans and Roman Greeks. Studies in Cultural Interaction, Aarhus, AUP, 2002, p. 175.
28 Cf. D. Magnino, Plutarco. Alessandro. Cesare, Milan, Rizzoli, BUR, 1987, p. 181, and A. Harder, Callimachus. Aetia, Oxford, OUP, 2012 ad loc.
29 Parthenius’ Erotika Pathemata as well as his fragments show a predilection for topics like incest, cannibalism, parricide, and infanticide. Euphorion is characterized as “chill and lugubrious” (J. Lightfoot [ed.], op. cit., p. 195). The testimonia moreover seem to suggest that he had a reputation, possibly based on his poetry, for lecherousness, cf. test. 6, 7 and 8 (with J. Klooster, Poetry as Window and Mirror. Positioning the Poet in Hellenistic Poetry, Leiden, Brill, 2011, p. 142–44).
30 Probably to be identified with the orator Sabinus Asellius (venustissimus inter rhetores scurra, Seneca, Suas. 2.12), cf. further Ep. 40.9; and Suetonius, Calig. 8.4, Asillius, the companion of young Caligula.
31 Singillatim crudeliter facta eius exsequi longum est (Tib. 61.2).
32 Probably Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus (cos. suff. 21 AD), cf. Tacitus, Ann. 6.29.3. According to Dio 58.24.4, the tragedy was entitled Atreus.
33 A. Cremutius Cordus is meant, cf. Tacitus, Ann. 4.34.
34 E. Sistakou, The Aesthetics of Darkness. A Study of Hellenistic Romanticism in Apollonius, Lycophron and Nicander, Leuven, Peeters, Hellenistica Groningana 17, 2012.
35 Also compare J. Lightfoot (ed.), op. cit., p. 195 on Euphorion: “the chill and lugubrious tone, the obscurity, the determination to throw dust in the eyes of the reader could never be mistaken for Callimachus; better comparisons for Euphorion are Lycophron—with whom contact is certain, though it is not yet clear who depends on whom—and Nicander.”
36 On Hadrian’s literary interests, see W. Den Boer, “Religion and Literature in Hadrian’s Policy,” Mnemosyne 8.2, 1955, p. 123–44; R. Syme, “Hadrian the Intellectual,” in A. Piganiol, H. Terrasse (eds.), Les Empereurs romains d’Espagne. Madrid-Italica, 31 mars – 6 avril 1964, Paris, Éd. du CNRS, 1963, p. 243–53; A. Rösger, Herrschererziehung in der Historia Augusta, Bonn, Habelt, 1978; E. Bowie, “Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age,” in D. A. Russell (ed.), Antonine Literature, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990, p. 172–98; S. Fein, Die Beziehungen der Kaiser Trajan und Hadrian zu den Litterati, Stuttgart, Teubner, 1994; A. R. Birley, Hadrian: The Restless Emperor, London, Routledge, 1997 (passim); T. Whitmarsh, “The Cretan Lyre Paradox: Mesomedes, Hadrian and the Poetics of Patronage,” in B. Borg (ed.), Paideia. The World of the Second Sophistic, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2004 p. 377–403. The remnants of Hadrian’s Latin poetry are in E. Courtney (ed.), The Fragmentary Latin Poets, Oxford, OUP, 2003; some of the Greek poems can be found in D. Page (ed.), Further Greek Epigrams, Cambridge, CUP, 1981.
37 H. Bardon, op. cit., p. 107; E. Bowie, “Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age,” art. cit., p. 175.
38 Imbutusque inpensius Graecis studiis, ingenio eius sic ad ea declinante, ut a nonnullis Graeculus diceretur (HAH 1.5), cf. Epit. de Caes. 14.2.
39 HAH 14; 15.10, 16, cf. Dio 69.5.1–3. Athenaeus praises Hadrian as mousikotatos (8.361; 13.574). Tertullian (Apol. 5) calls Hadrian omnium curiositatum explorator. Cf. also Epit. de Caes. 14.2.
40 HAH 15.1, 16, 20, 26, cf. Dio 69.3.6; 69.4.1–6. The epigram AP 9.137 purports to give the complaint of a poet, and Hadrian’s dismissive verse reply; this is of course reminiscent also of the way he replied to the poem of Florus (ego nolo Caesar esse, HAH 16.3–4).
41 E. Bowie, “Hadrian and Greek Poetry,” art. cit., p. 172.
42 HAH 16.5–6.
43 In this preference for archaism, Hadrian fits the reigning fashion of the second century AD, whose champion was Fronto, who testifies to Hadrian’s literary preferences in this field, ep. ad Ver. Imp. 2.1, p. 118 vdH.
44 Cf. S. Fein, op. cit., p. 32; E. Bowie, “Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age,” art. cit., p. 176.
45 See in particular E. Bowie, “Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age,” art. cit., p. 173. A highly speculative suggestion might be that there is some garbled reference here to the Homer-edition Antimachus allegedly made.
46 Cf. e.g. A. Cameron, Callimachus and His Critics, Princeton, PUP, 1995, p. 303–39.
47 The MS read catacannas, catacaimos, catacaymos; Bernhardy saw that it should be emended to Catachannas, based on Fronto: ibi me videre arborem multorum ramorum, quam ille suum nomen catachannam nominabat. Sed illa arbor mira et nova visa est mihi in uno trunco omnium ferme germina <arboruum ferens> (29.7 vdH). On the interpretation, see S. Fein, op. cit., p. 42–43; E. Bowie, “Hadrian and Greek Poetry,” art. cit., p. 176–77, which is different from what I propose here.
48 E.g. Theocritus’ Thalysia, Posideippus’ Soros, Meleager’s and Philip’s Stephanos and the general term anthologia.
49 Cf. Suda s.v. Parthenius; J. Lightfoot (ed.), op. cit., p. 30–33.
50 IG 14.1089.
51 See, e.g. M. Gabathuler, Hellenistische Epigramme auf Dichter, St. Gallen, 1937; P. Bing, The Well-Read Muse. Present and Past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic Poets, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1988, passim.
52 Cf. Athenaeus 15.20; POxy. 1085.
53 See T. Whitmarsh, art. cit.Haut de page
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Jacqueline Klooster, « Tiberius and Hellenistic Poetry », Aitia [En ligne], 7.1 | 2017, mis en ligne le 21 mars 2017, consulté le 01 mai 2017. URL : http://aitia.revues.org/1766 ; DOI : 10.4000/aitia.1766Haut de page
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