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Les développements de la tradition épique à côté de l’épopée

Phaeacians at the birthday party: A.P. 11.44 (Philodemus) and its epic background

Les Phéaciens à la fête : A.P. 11,44 (Philodème) et son arrière-plan épique
Feaci al banchetto: A.P. 11.44 (Filodemo) e il suo background epico
Anja Bettenworth

Résumés

Dans son célèbre poème d’invitation adressé à Pison, Philodème se réfère explicitement à l’épisode phéacien d’Homère, quand il décrit les plaisirs qui attendent son hôte. Par voie de conséquence, la discussion portant sur les allusions épiques du poème de Philodème se sont principalement concentrées sur le copieux banquet à Schérie. Cet article montre que, à côté du modèle phéacien, Philodème évoque aussi le séjour d’Ulysse dans l’humble cabane d’Eumée. L’allusion à ces deux scènes homériques d’hospitalité permet de souligner la combinaison de biens matériels et immatériels qui caractérise le festin à venir de Philodème. L’allusion à Homère souligne également le sous-entendu poétique de l’épigramme en général et, de manière plus spécifique, permet de clarifier la signification très controversée du vers 7.

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  • 1 The wording has caused some confusion, see A. S. E Gow, D. L. Page, The Greek Anthology : The (...)
  • 2 Udders are a famous and expensive delicacy (cp. Plut. Mor. 124f. and Mart. 11.53.13, cp. D. S (...)

1One of the most discussed epigrams by Philodemus is his famous invitation poem (A.P. 11.44). The speaker asks his friend Piso to attend a celebration which will take place on the twentieth day in his home.1 Even though he can only offer a modest setting and does not have udders and wine from Chios at his disposal,2 he promises that Piso will find true companionship and will hear “sweeter things than the land of the Phaeacians”. But, the speaker concludes, if Piso should at some point turn his eyes ἐς ἡμέας, “we will lead a fatter twentieth instead of a simple one”. The text reads:

Αὔριον εἰς λιτήν σε καλιάδα, φίλτατε Πείσων,

          ἐξ ἐνάτης ἕλκει μουσοφιλὴς ἕταρος

εἰκάδα δειπνίζων ἐνιαύσιον· εἰ δ’ ἀπολείψεις

       οὔθατα καὶ Βρομίου χιογενῆς πρόποσιν,

ἀλλ’ ἑτάρους ὄψει παναληθέας, ἀλλ’ ἐπακούσῃ

        Φαιήκων γαίης πουλὺ μελιχρότερα·

ἢν δέ ποτε στρέψῃς καὶ ἐς ἡμέας ὄμματα, Πείσων,

       ἄξομεν ἐκ λιτῆς εἰκάδα πιοτέρην.

  • 3 See O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., on the influence (...)
  • 4 L Edmunds, “The Latin invitation-poem. What is it it? Where did it come from?”, AJP 103, 1982 (...)
  • 5 This may be due to the fact that elaborate dinner invitations are not a typical part of (...)

2Commentators have so far discussed the complex intertextual relationship between the epigram and similar poems, especially Catullus 13 (invitation of Fabullus)3 and the whole sub-genre of Latin invitation poems which seems to be inspired by the epigram. Others have focused on the poem’s implications for our understanding of the social interactions between client and patronus in Roman society of the first century BCE.4 Its content also invites comparison with a group of Hellenistic epigrams dealing with dinner-invitations, dinner-preparations or feasting. Less well noticed are the epic ramifications of the poem and the way they might further our interpretation of its content.5

  • 6 This interpretation is favored by M. Jufresa, “Il mito dei Feaci in Filodemo”, p. 517 (in M.  (...)
  • 7 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 152.
  • 8 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 159: on the Genitive γαίης: “A compendious (...)
  • 9 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 159: “Mention of the Phaeacians reca (...)
  • 10 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 160, tends to favor this solution: he take (...)
  • 11 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 160, suggests that the expression ἢν (...)

3The poem’s tension rests on the contrast between the simple meal in a simple setting and the exquisite entertainment provided by faithful friends. The adjective λιτός is found in the first and the last verse of the epigram, both times in the same prominent position before the penthemimeres. The references to the humble surroundings thus form a ring composition within which the elaborate conversation unfolds (l. 5-6). The quality of the “sweet things” (or “sweet words”) Piso is going to enjoy during the celebration is underlined by a reference to the Phaeacians who hosted Odysseus during his stay on Scheria. The Genitive Φαιήκων γαίης can be understood as “sweeter things than the Phaeacians heard” or as “sweeter things than the land of the Phaeacians”.6 D. Sider, who discusses the problem at some length7, rightly observes that both senses may be heard by the reader, but that the first will probably be primary given that the scenery is a banquet in both Homer and Philodemus. In this case “the land of the Phaeacians” serves as a poetic circumscription for its inhabitants: Piso would listen to Philodemus’ entertainment much as the Phaeacians listened to Demodocus and Odysseus.8 Furthermore, Demodocus received additional meat from Odysseus for his singing (Hom. Od. 8.474-481), and Odysseus himself was rewarded for his stories by Alcinoos and Arete (Hom. Od. 11.339-341 and 13.10-15).9 Similarly, Philodemus seems to expect some benefit from Piso’s presence when he predicts that a turn of Piso’s eye will make the meal “fatter” than before. What is more, in his praise of Demodocus, Odysseus explicitely states that bards are worthy of honor and veneration from all men on earth “because the Muse taught them their songs and loved their race” (Hom. Od. 8.480-481: οὕνεκ’ ἄρα σφέας / οἴμας μοῦσ’ ἐδίδαξε, φίλησε δὲ φῦλον ἀοιδῶν). In calling himself μουσοφιλής (l. 2), Philodemus thus refers to a concept that is also present in the Phaeacian scene mentioned in l. 5-6. The anaphora ἀλλ’ ἑτάρους ὄψει […], ἀλλ’ ἐπακούσῃ […] πουλὺ μελιχρότερα (l. 5f.) suggests that visual and acoustic pleasures will closely be linked in this kind of entertainment. But what exactly follows from this promise? The next two lines, the closing couplet of the epigram (l. 7f.), in which some reaction of Piso seems to be anticipated, have been much discussed. Its meaning depends on where we are supposed to lay the emphasis of the ἤν-clause. There are two options: either, the stress is on Piso’s anticipated gaze (ἢν δέ ποτε στρέψῃς) in contrast to what he has been doing in the past, or the focus is on the object of his attention (ἢν δέ ποτε στρέψῃς καὶ ἐς ἡμέας). In the first case, the line of thought should be something like: “you did not have a close eye on us in the past, but if at some point you turn your eyes towards us (too)…”10 However, this interpretation leaves the expression καὶ ἐς ἡμέας (with the καί positioned prominently after the penthemimeres) rather colourless: καί could, in this version, be left out without damage to the line of thought. The problem is solved if the emphasis of the sentence is on the καὶ ἐς ἡμέας itself, the general idea being “so far, you have been looking at others, but if at some point you will turn your eyes also to us…” In both cases, we should expect a reference to Piso’s former behaviour including a clearly defined counterpart for καὶ ἐς ἡμέας in the lines preceding the ἤν-clause. However, lines 1-6 yield no evidence that Piso has been inattentive in the past, or that he has been looking at others rather than at the “us” referred to by the speaker. Instead, the reference to Piso’s gaze (ἢν δέ ποτε στρέψῃς καὶ ἐς ἡμέας ὄμματα) seems to hark back to the promise ἑτάρους ὄψει.11 In this case, the contrast would not be between Philodemus’ circle and some unnamed rival, but between ἑτάρους and ἡμέας (which must both be participants of the celebration), as objects of Piso’s attention. As we have seen before, looking at the companions is closely linked to hearing sweet entertainment. The captivating quality of a conversation inspired by the Muses is in fact well known from epic and also figures prominently in the Phaeacian scene (Od. 13.1-2: the Phaeacians’ reaction to Odysseus’ apologoi: Ὣς ἔφαθ’, οἱ δ’ ἄρα πάντες ἀκὴν ἐγένοντο σιωπῇ, / κηληθμῷ δ’ ἔσχοντο κατὰ μέγαρα σκιόεντα). If this interpretation is correct, the conditional clause ἢν δέ alludes to the danger that Piso, enchanted by what he sees and hears, will forget everything else around him. Only in case he manages at some point (ποτε) to turn his attention from the mesmerizing conversation of the companions and look elsewhere, the meal will eventually be “fatter”, i.e. better equipped. In this view, ἡμέας must be a poetic plural referring to Philodemus himself, who had invited Piso into the simple hut and is ultimately responsible for what is offered at table. This interpretation is supported by the repetition of the vocative Πείσων closing l. 1 and 7 respectively and followed in the subsequent line by an action of his counterpart. Since in l. 2 this is clearly Philodemus, we might expect him to be the subject of ἄξομεν in l. 8 as well. The two couplets are further linked by repetition of λιτός (l. 1 εἰς λιτήν […] καλιάδα and l. 8 ἐκ λιτῆς εἰκάδα πιοτέρην), inviting the reader to read the second couplet (Piso’s anticipated reaction) as an appropriate response to the first. The polite suggestion that Piso could help to improve the feast is thus cleverly linked to the quality of the conversation. If the speaker does not take it for granted that Piso will turn his eyes to him, this is not because Piso is an outsider with limited interest in his host, but because he, just like the Phaeacians, will have difficulties thinking of anything else while under the spell of the conversation.

  • 12 Cp. e.g. Lucilius A.P. 11.137 where a guest complains about the host, who after serving him r (...)
  • 13 “Il mito dei Feaci in Filodemo”, op. cit., p. 517.
  • 14 L’Anthologie grecque, 1ère Partie : Anthologie palatine, Livre X-XI, Paris, 1972.
  • 15 R. Aubreton, op. cit., p. 238 n. 4: “le séjour sera aussi agréable que le fut pour Ulysse cel (...)
  • 16 See D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 208, who quotes Asmis’ translati (...)
  • 17 Giangrande believes that the epigram must have been written in Rome, because it speaks of a m (...)
  • 18 Nausicaa’s attitude towards Odysseus is favorable throughout, but does not lead to a cl (...)
  • 19 “Il sovrano a banchetto…”, op. cit.

4Epic influence on the epigram would thus consist mainly in a famous name (the Phaeacians) being borrowed to give weight to a client’s request. If Philodemus is a friend of the Muses and the entertainment provided by him resembles that of Demodocus and Odysseus on Scheria, he should be honored and rewarded the way his models were honored and rewarded by the Phaeacians. This poetic practice is not uncommon, of course and is wittily used by Hellenistic poets to increase the acumen of their works.12 However, in this case there are cracks in the comparison, since Piso now finds himself in the place of Alcinoos, i.e. in the role of the rich and generous host. While this fits his social status and his relationship to Philodemus, it is not in accordance with his role as a guest which is a central point in an invitation poem. M. Jufresa13 and R. Aubreton in his Budé edition of 197214 have therefore insisted that Piso, not Philodemus, must be an Odysseus figure in this context.15 Furthermore, the Phaeacians, to whose banquet Philodemus likens his celebration, are no less famous for their feast than for their riches, especially for the superb palace of their king, which includes a wonderful garden and marvelous springs. Philodemus himself explicitly links them to luxury in his De bono rege col. 19, where he insists that “it belongs not only to the sober, but also to those drinking, to sing the ‘glories of men’ [Il. 9.189]; nor [does this happen] only among the more severe (οὐδὲ παρὰ μόνοις τοῖς αὐστηροτέροις), but also among the luxurious Phaeacians” (παρὰ τοῖς τρυφεροβίοις Φαίαξι).16 In Philodemus’ epigram, on the other hand, the lack of luxury is central.17 The Phaeacians are also well known for their unfriendly attitude towards strangers. Odysseus is being informed of their hostility early on by Athena, Hom. Od. 7.32-33: οὐ γὰρ ξείνους οἵ γε μάλ’ ἀνθρώπους ἀνέχονται / οὐδ’ ἀγαπαζόμενοι φιλέουσ’, ὅς κ’ ἄλλοθεν ἔλθῃ.18 He wins their admiration during the games and they eventually agree to bring him home to Ithaca, but their relationship does not develop into a close friendship. The speaker in Philodemus’ poem, on the other hand, makes it clear from the beginning that true companionship is awaiting his guest: the term ἕταρος figures twice in prominent metrical positions, at the end of the verse (l. 2) and in front of the trithemimeres (l. 5). From the contrast with the Phaeacian banquet implied in the epigram, D. De Sanctis19 concludes that the veracity of the Epicurean friends and their mutual bond should be seen in opposition to the “mere illusion” of the apologoi of Odysseus. But although the Phaeacians do not become close friends of Odysseus, their help is still crucial in bringing him home to Ithaca and there is no hint that Odysseus’ account of his adventures is a “mere illusion”. But what, then, is the point of Philodemus’ allusion to the Odyssey?

  • 20 In Vergil’s catalepton 8.1, the famous Epicurean Siron, also a member of the Campanian circle (...)
  • 21 Χοίρειος is mentioned in Philodemus 28.4 Sider as part of a frugal meal. Since pork was (...)
  • 22 At first glance, there seems to be one striking difference between the circle of friend (...)

5For solving this question it is helpful to look at the broader Odyssean context in which the Phaeacian scene is found. The idea that scarce means and simple houses do not stand in the way of good conversation and true friendship is not only firmly rooted in Epicurean teaching and tradition, as commentators have pointed out,20 but also has an Odyssean counterpart. The specific image of eating a simple meal in a “hut” with true friends and engaging entertainment recalls the feast at Eumaius’ hut which immediately follows Odysseus’ stay on the island of the Phaeacians. Eumaius famously declares that his gift is “small but friendly” (Hom. Od. 14.58-59: δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε / γίνεται ἡμετέρη). He entertains his guest with what modest means he has, and in doing so is supported by his fellow herdsmen, who are called his ἕταροι – a form which is also used by Philodemus to describe himself in relation to Piso (l. 2) as well as the companions at his table (l. 5). Eumaius’ companions prove to be true friends of Odysseus who have always hoped for his return. Eumaius also complains about the suitors feasting on delicacies like fattened swine, while he and his guest have to content themselves with piglets (Hom. Od. 14.80-81: ἔσθιε νῦν, ὦ ξεῖνε, τά τε δμώεσσι πάρεστι, / χοίρε’, ἀτὰρ σιάλους γε σύας μνηστῆρες ἔδουσιν).21 The inconsistencies arising from a comparison of the epigram’s setting with that of the Phaeacian scene are thus solved if we understand the famous Homeric name as a call to see the whole banquet in Philodemus’ “hut” in an Odyssean context, including the equally famous feast in the swineherd’s modest house.22

6The epigram’s allusion to the two adjacent Homeric banquet scenes stresses the way material and immaterial goods complement each other in the upcoming celebration: the Phaeacian banquet entails true and captivating entertainment (songs and stories) after dinner, whereas friendship between host and guest is not an issue. The Eumaius scene shows true friendship between the diners even though the setting is modest.

  • 23 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 158, compares Hor. epist. 1.5.24: fi (...)

7By consequence, the celebration at Philodemus’ house will combine and even top the best aspects of both scenes: it will have entertainment as in Alcinoos’ luxurious palace (only better) and it will have a circle of unpretentious, true friends as in Eumaius’ simple hut. The prominent role of “true” friendship as reflected in the intensive form παν-αληθής is in accordance with Epicurean tradition which laid much emphasis on the circle of friends.23 In the Roman context suggested by the addressee Piso, there may also be a hint at the Roman imagery of friendship commonly used to describe the relationship between patronus and cliens. Both are conveniently merged in one expression.

  • 24 The adjective μουσοφιλής can be understood actively (“lover of the Muses”) and passively (“be (...)
  • 25 As O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 171, obs (...)
  • 26 Similarly G. Davis, “Consolation in the bucolic mode…”, op. cit., p. 69: “we are meant (...)
  • 27 In his treatise Εἰ καλῶς εἴρηται τὸ λάθε βιώσας, Plutarch criticizes Epicurus’ maxime “live u (...)
  • 28 In the same passage, Cicero claims that Epicurean gatherings were in fact orgies, characteriz (...)
  • 29 Cp. G. Davis, “Consolation in the bucolic mode…”, op. cit., p. 70: “In the intergeneric badinage th (...)

8This technique sheds some light on the way the speaker sees his relationship to Piso. The speaker defines himself as a friend of the Muses24 and a person who can provide entertainment matching and surpassing that of mythical singers. He is thus in a powerful position, influencing the way a story is presented and, given his close alliance with the Muses, also the fame and literary afterlife of Piso.25 From the epigram we do not know what topics the expression πουλὺ μελιχρότερα (l. 6) implies. For the speaker, the quality of the envisioned conversation is obviously more important than a specific topic. A reader who has the Phaeacian background in mind may assume that the experiences of the speaker or famous stories are intended, just like Odysseus recounts his trials and Demodocus sings of the love story of Ares and Aphrodite.26 In fact, a common feature in Epicurean gatherings on the Twentieth was the praise of Epicurus’ famous virtues and of those of other Epicurean philosophers, as Plutarch’s testimony suggests.27 In Rome and Naples, Epicureans may have praised their contemporaries, too, as the (hostile) testimony of Cicero suggests (in Pis. 22: Quid ego illorum dierum epulas, quid laetitiamet gratulationem tuam [...] praedicem?).28 In any case, it is clear that Piso will profit from the speaker’s close relationship to the Muses which is stressed in l. 2. Piso himself is adressed at the end of l. 1 as φίλτατε Πείσων, a prominent place within the hexameter and the poem as a whole. He is also promised sweet entertainment, which implies that the subject will be to his liking. Thus, the epigram itself may be seen as a fulfillment of the promise implied in the allusion to the famous Phaeacian scene. Piso can hope to gain fame as the subject of poetry – which has just happened in the skillfully crafted invitation poem addressed to him. The fact that the poem is a short epigram does not diminish its value because its author is a friend of the Muses who can offer sweeter things than the most elaborate of Homeric banquet scenes. This attitude is a typical feature of Hellenistic poetics, according to which the small polished poem is preferable to a huge epic.29 This idea is sometimes explicitely linked to the image of feasting: consuming wine from a small wooden cup is preferable to excessive drinking, and water from a small but pure fountain is preferable to that from large rivers, see, e.g. Callimachus fr. 178, 11-12 Pf. (where the poetological significance of the image has sometimes been disputed, cp. G. B. D’Alessio, Callimaco: Aitia, Giambi, Frammenti elegiaci minori, frammenti di sede incerta, Milan, 1996, p. 558 fn. 19) and Callimachus, hy. 2,108-112.

  • 30 O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 170.
  • 31 For the epithets of wine in Homer see P. Vivante, “The Syntax of Homer’s Epithets of Wine”, G (...)

9It fits this picture that the Chian wine which Piso will not find at the speaker’s feast is described “durch das ungewöhnliche, neu und einmalig geprägte Beiwort χιογενής”.30 The word, which has puzzled commentators, has an epic ring to it and may thus reflect the speaker’s distance from grand epic poetry. In Homer, epithets in –γενής (most commonly διογενής) usually refer to people, not to objects such as wine.31 The adjective “born on Chios”, which is found only in this epigram, brings to mind Homer himself, who was sometimes believed to have be born on the island (see Thuc. 3.104 who quotes the famous disputed verse about the “blind bard of Chios”, hy. Hom. 172, cp. also Cic. pro Archia 13). The rejection of the Chian wine thus corresponds to the rejection of a certain type of conversation and, consequently, of a literary production inspired by grand epic poetry.

  • 32 D. De Sanctis, “Il sovrano a banchetto…”, op. cit., p. 52, emphasizes the contrast between the (...)

10As style and content are closely linked and point to the ideal of a small genre and refined poetry, it is also important to notice that Piso is not being asked to transform the simple meal into the most lavish feast imaginable. But his attention will at least improve the celebration and make it πιοτέρη, “fatter” than before.32 The humble surroundings are in fact typical for the Epicurean community, so much so that Cicero ridicules the members for their shabby living conditions. Their ritual meal, as described in De pietate (fr. 29, 812-819 Obbink) consists of a modest amount of simple food, and so we should not expect Philodemus to aspire to a maximum of “fat” ingredients to embellish his feast.

11It may well be that “simplicity” in Piso’s and Philodemus’ case is an understatement, yet it says something about the underlying character of their friendship and literary preferences. Each of the two will make his own specific contribution to the celebration and provide a service the other partner estimates highly but cannot make himself. Given that Philodemus has chosen the “leanest” of genres – an epigram – for his invitation poem, we may understand his appeal to Piso to make the meal “fatter” as a request not only to provide material food, but, through his presence and attention, to furnish material for the poetic endeavors of his host. The result would not be the “fattest” of genres (epic poetry), but “fatter”, i.e. more substantial than what he has written before. As far as the quality of his poems is concerned, even though they are short, they rival that of the Homeric epic, just as the entertainment and the true friendship in his simple hut rival that provided by the heroes of old. Both host and guest, client and patron will thus benefit from the exchange of particular (material and immaterial gifts). They are equal without being equals.

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Bibliographie

ASMIS E., “Philodemus’ Epicureanism”, ANRW 2.36.4, 1990, p. 2369-2406.

DIANO C., “La poetica dei Feaci”, in C. Diano, Saggezza e poetiche degli antichi, Vicenza, 1968, p. 185-214.

DORANDI T. , “L’Omero di Filodemo”, BCPE 8, 1978, p. 38-51.

SIDER D., “The Epicurean Philosopher as Hellenistic Poet”, in D. Obbink (ed.), Philodemus and Poetry. Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus, and Horace, Oxford, 1995, p. 43-57.

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Notes

1 The wording has caused some confusion, see A. S. E Gow, D. L. Page, The Greek Anthology : The Garland of Philip, Cambridge,1968, p. 394. Philodemus was a member of a Campanian circle of Epicureans, and there was a celebration in memory of Epicurus called ἡ εἰκάς, after the day it was held. At least in Greece, this was a monthly gathering of his followers. Testimonia for this tradition have been collected by D. Clay, “The cults of Epicurus”, CErc 16, 1986, p. 11-28. The founder’s birthday, on the other hand, was commemorated annually on the 10th of Gamelion. Until quite recently, the communis opinio has been that Philodemus must be referring to a celebration of Epicurus’ birthday somehow merged by the Campanian Epicureans with the date of the traditional monthly meeting. See e.g. O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl (Thema mit Variationen)”, in R. Hanslik, A. Lesky, H. Schwabl, Antidosis. Festschrift für Walther Kraus zum 70. Geburtstag, Vienna, 1972, p. 170-171; and D. De Sanctis, “Il sovrano a banchetto: prassi del simposio e etica dell’equilibrio nel ‘De bono rege’ (PHerc. 1507, coll. XVI-XXI Dorandi)”, p. 51, CErc 37, 2007, p. 49-65. Against this opinion see D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos. Introduction, Text, and Commentary, Oxford, 1997, p. 157, who takes ἐνιαύσιον as an adjective of three terminations referring to Piso: “Philodemus invites you to your annual visit”.

2 Udders are a famous and expensive delicacy (cp. Plut. Mor. 124f. and Mart. 11.53.13, cp. D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 158, and E. Gowers, The Loaded Table. Representations of Food in Roman Literature, Oxford, 1993, p. 222) as is Chian wine. In Philodemus’ epigrams, wine from Chios also figures in A.P. 11.34 (= 21 GP = 6 Sider) as one of the staples of a traditional lavish banquet rejected by the speaker, see D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 81 and 209.

3 See O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., on the influence of Philodemus’ epigram on Catullus, Horace and Martial ; E. Merli, “Stilizzazione letteraria e mutamenti diacroni nelle cene della poesia romana”, in K. Vössing (ed.), Das römische Bankett im Spiegel der Altertumswissenschaften. Internationales Kolloquium 5.-6. Oktober 2005, Schloß Mickeln, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart 2008, p. 101-111, and M. Marcovich, “Catullus 13 and Philodemus 23”, QUCC 40, 1982, p. 131-138, on the relationship between Philodemus and Catullus 13. L. Landolfi, “Tracce filodemee di estetica e di epigrammatica simpotica in Catullo”, BCPE 12, 1982, p. 137-143, comments on aesthetics and poetical programs in Philodemus and Catullus, H. R. Dettmer, “Catullus 13. A Nose is a Nose”, SyllClass 1, 1989, p. 75-85, on the way Catullus rivals and outdoes Philodemus 11.44. V. Di Benedetto, “Catullo tra folklore e letteratura”, RCCM 43, 2001, p. 75-82, offers a general comparison of the two poems. For the possibility that Catullus and Philodemus where acquainted, see D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 23. A discussion of Roman invitation poems is found in E. Gowers, The Loaded Table, op. cit., and E. Merli, “Stilizzazione letteraria e mutamenti diacroni nelle cene della poesia romana”, op. cit. G. Davis, “Consolation in the bucolic mode: the Epicurean cadence of Vergil’s first Eclogue”, in D. Armstrong, (et al.), Vergil, Philodemus, and the Augustans, University of Texas Pr., 2004, p. 63-74, discusses the influence of Philodemus’ invitation poem on Vergil’s eclogues, esp. ecl. 1.

4 L Edmunds, “The Latin invitation-poem. What is it it? Where did it come from?”, AJP 103, 1982, p. 184-188, believes that the invitation is proof of “a Roman social convention”, while D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 153, sees its origin in “Epicurean conventions and concerns”. M. Gigante, Philodemus in Italy. The Books from Herculaneum, Ann Arbor, 20022, considers the poem an expression of genuine friendship between Philodemus and his patron. For the relationship of the two compare also M. Gigante, “Filodemo e Pisone: da Ercolano a Roma”, ASNP 15, 1985, p. 855-866, and P. Scholz, “Senatorisches Mäzenatentum: Überlegungen zum Verhältnis von Dichtern, Gelehrten und römischen nobiles in republikanischer Zeit”, p. 34-39, in U. Oevermann, J. Süßmann, C. Tauber (ed.), Die Kunst der Mächtigen und die Macht der Kunst: Untersuchungen zu Mäzenatentum und Kulturpatronage, Berlin, 2007, p. 25-46. E. Merli, “Stilizzazione letteraria e mutamenti diacroni nelle cene della poesia romana”, op. cit., p. 102-103, rightly points to the epigram’s tension between aequalitas and inaequalitas, with the former harking back to the Greek (Epicurean) tradition and the latter to the Roman system of patronus and cliens.

5 This may be due to the fact that elaborate dinner invitations are not a typical part of Greek (and Roman) epic. This derives partly from the plot: in the Odyssey, in Apollonius’ Argonautica and later in Vergil’s Aeneid and the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus, we follow a travelling hero who arrives at a host’s house without previous notice and often approaches while a meal is already under way. In other cases, the invitation is glossed over for the economy of the narration. See A. Bettenworth, Gastmahlszenen in der antiken Epik von Homer bis Claudian. Diachrone Untersuchungen zur Szenentypik, Hypomnemata 153, Göttingen, 2004, p. 47-48.

6 This interpretation is favored by M. Jufresa, “Il mito dei Feaci in Filodemo”, p. 517 (in M. Jufresa (ed.), La regione sotterrata dal Vesuvio. Studi e prospettive. Atti del Convegno internazionale, 11-15 novembre 1979, Naples, 1982, p. 509-518) who summarizes: “Anche se la tavola dell’ospite è frugale, i partecipanti potranno godere di altri piaceri più importanti, l’amicizia in primo luogo, e poi di una conversazione molto più piacevole di tutto quello che di dolcezza l’immagine della terra dei Feaci ci possa suggerire.”

7 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 152.

8 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 159: on the Genitive γαίης: “A compendious comparison (KG 2.310f.) standing either for (i) ἢ ἡ Φαιήκων γῆ, ‘you will hear things sweeter than the Phaeacians heard’ (Gow-Page, Hiltbrunner, better would be ἢ τῶν ἐν τῇ Φαιάκων γῇ ἀκουσθέντων), or (ii) ἢ τὰ κατᾶ τὴν Φ. γῆν, ’you will hear sweeter tales than those told about the Phaeacians’ (Kaibel). Cf. Soph. Ph. 680ff.” M. Gigante, Filodemo. Epigrammi scelti, Naples, 1988, p. 49, also opts for the first version, as does D. De Sanctis, “Il sovrano a banchetto…”, op. cit., p. 51.

9 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 159: “Mention of the Phaeacians recalls Odysseus’ stay in Scheria, and perhaps in particular his praise of good poets. Phil., that is, is here obliquely comparing himself both to Demodocus, who received extra meat for his singing, and to Odysseus, who received additional gifts for his account (compared to that of a bard by Alkinoos; 11.367f.). Piso will no doubt get hint.” Similarly D. Clay, “Vergil’s farewell to education (Catalepton 5) and Epicurus’ letter to Pythocles”, p. 32, in D. Armstrong (et al.), Vergil, Philodemus, and the Augustans, University of Texas Pr., 2004, p. 25-36.

10 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 160, tends to favor this solution: he takes ποτε to look “beyond the next days’s festivities [...] although not exclusively to the next event of this sort as Kaibel thought” and to imply “that Piso, a sympathetic ‘outsider’ to the Epicurean community, is being asked to take a greater part in the future.” This interpretation would be in line with his role as a patron.

11 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 160, suggests that the expression ἢν δέ στρέψῃς ὄμματα may render the Latin respicere, as in Verg. Aen. 4.275: Ascanium surgentem respice, because there seem to be no exact Greek parallels for a mere “turn of the eye” without a qualifying adjective. In any case, a negative meaning (such as the “evil eye”) is excluded from the beginning of the poem where Piso is adressed as φίλτατε, so that the author may have thought it unnecessary to add the usual adjective. On the contrary, O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 171-172 (with reference to Kaibel’s earlier observation), points out that the final distichon recalls Greek prayer style: Piso, the guest, is asked to turn his eye to the host just as a god is asked to look favorably on a worshipper. It may be noted that in the Odyssey the hospitality scenes on Scheria and in Eumaius’ hut both describe the guest Odysseus in a way that aligns him with divine presence, see Od. 6.280-281 and Od. 7.199-206 for his arrival in the land of the Phaeacians and for his encounter with Eumaius cp. E. Kearns, “The Return of Odysseus. A Homeric Theoxeny”, CQ 32, 1982, p. 2-8.

12 Cp. e.g. Lucilius A.P. 11.137 where a guest complains about the host, who after serving him raw veil, recites a flood of epigrams. The speaker then concludes that if he has committed the crime of eating the flesh of one of the Trinacrian cattle (mentioned in Od. 13), he would like to drown at once, or, if the sea is too far, be thrown right away into the host’s fountain.

13 “Il mito dei Feaci in Filodemo”, op. cit., p. 517.

14 L’Anthologie grecque, 1ère Partie : Anthologie palatine, Livre X-XI, Paris, 1972.

15 R. Aubreton, op. cit., p. 238 n. 4: “le séjour sera aussi agréable que le fut pour Ulysse celui de Schérie.”

16 See D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 208, who quotes Asmis’ translation. In Philodemus’ De bono rege, which is dedicated to Piso, the rare term τρυφερόβιοι has obviously positive connotations. See M. Jufresa, “Il mito dei Feaci in Filodemo”, op. cit., p. 510. For the Phaeacians as models of luxurious living and feasting see also S. Eitrem, “Phaiaken”, RE 19, 1938, p. 1532f., and Hor. epist. 1.115.22-24.

17 Giangrande believes that the epigram must have been written in Rome, because it speaks of a modest house, while Philodemus probably lived in Piso’s lavish villa in Herculaneum when on the bay of Naples, see Cic. in Pis. 68: est quidam Graecus qui cum isto vivit, homo, vere ut dicam, sic enim cognovi, humanus. The identification of the Greek with Philodemus is already given in Asconius’ commentary on the speech. Cp. O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 169, and D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 10. However, there is no evidence that the epigram, as a work of poetry, conveys biographical information in any strict sense of the word. It focuses on the relationship between patron and poet, and the setting of the prospective meal is described in a way which underlines the social roles of both.

18 Nausicaa’s attitude towards Odysseus is favorable throughout, but does not lead to a closer contact to Odysseus.

19 “Il sovrano a banchetto…”, op. cit.

20 In Vergil’s catalepton 8.1, the famous Epicurean Siron, also a member of the Campanian circle, is said to own a villula and a pauper agellus. Cp. also Horace carm. 1.20: vile potabis modicis Sabinum cantharis, where the name of the simple wine alludes to Horace’s modest villa, the Sabinum, cp. O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 177.

21 Χοίρειος is mentioned in Philodemus 28.4 Sider as part of a frugal meal. Since pork was “standard fare” and other epic allusions are absent from this poem, there seems to be no Homeric background there. Cp. D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 162-163.

22 At first glance, there seems to be one striking difference between the circle of friends in Philodemus’ house and the company in Eumaius’ hut. The Cretan story told by Odysseus in book 14 is all but παναληθής (although it has parallels to his true biography). His true identity is revealed only later. Still, even the lying tale has a similar effect on the audience as the stories told at the Phaeacians’ court by Demodocus and Odysseus: after the disguised Odysseus has finished his story, Eumaius is ready to serve the best swine usually reserved for the suitors (Hom. Od. 14.414-417: ἄξεθ’ ὑῶν τὸν ἄριστον, ἵνα ξείνῳ ἱερεύσω / τηλεδαπῷ· πρὸς δ’ αὐτοὶ ὀνησόμεθ’, οἵ περ ὀιζὺν / δὴν ἔχομεν πάσχοντες ὑῶν ἕνεκ’ ἀργιοδόντων· / ἄλλοι δ’ ἡμέτερον κάματον νήποινον ἔδουσιν). At this point, he has not yet recognized Odysseus, but it is obvious that the stranger’s tales have brought his absent master to mind and increased his sympathy towards the “beggar”. Odysseus’ lies are, in this context, a necessary precaution which does not endanger the true friendship between him and Eumaius. On the effect of the beggar’s tale, see P. Grossardt, Die Trugreden in der Odyssee und ihre Rezeption in der antiken Literatur, Bern, 1998, p. 66-116, B. King, “The Rhetoric of the Victim: Odysseus in the Swineherd’s Hut”, ClAnt 18, 1999, p. 74-93, and A. Bettenworth, Gastmahlszenen in der antiken Epik von Homer bis Claudian..., op. cit., p. 240-242.

23 D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 158, compares Hor. epist. 1.5.24: fidos inter amicos. For the important role of friendship in Epicurus, see G. Arrighetti, “Philia e Physiologia: i fondamenti dell’ amicizia epicurea”, MD 1, 1978, p. 49-63.

24 The adjective μουσοφιλής can be understood actively (“lover of the Muses”) and passively (“beloved by the Muses”).O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 171, opts for the second meaning because μουσοφιλής seems to be modelled on the word θεοφιλής, which is always used passively. But the allusion to the Phaeacian scene in which Odysseus rewards Demodocus for his song and is rewarded himself for his stories by the Phaeacians seems to indicate that both senses may be heard. As a friend of the Muses, Philodemus is not only able to provide enthralling entertainment, but is also able to judge the quality of such conversation.

25 As O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 171, observes, a strong position of the speaker is also implicit in the word ἕλκει (l. 2) which may denote magical powers over others, cp. Theocr. id. 2.17. The thesis is repeated by G. Davis, “Consolation in the bucolic mode…”, op. cit., p. 69, who seems to be unaware of O. Hiltbrunner’s article.

26 Similarly G. Davis, “Consolation in the bucolic mode…”, op. cit., p. 69: “we are meant to infer that poetry, no less than philosophical conversation, will be an essential ingredient of the symposium”. Cf. as a contrast Lucilius A.P. 11.10.

27 In his treatise Εἰ καλῶς εἴρηται τὸ λάθε βιώσας, Plutarch criticizes Epicurus’ maxime “live unknown” on the grounds that it would obliterate the memory of virtuous men. According to Plutarch, Epicurus’ own practice of circulating philosophical books and letters and of holding meetings of his followers serves to perpetualize the memory of exemplary people and thus contradicts the precept of λάθε βιώσας (Plutarch, Live unknown 1129a).

28 In the same passage, Cicero claims that Epicurean gatherings were in fact orgies, characterized by excessive drinking.

29 Cp. G. Davis, “Consolation in the bucolic mode…”, op. cit., p. 70: “In the intergeneric badinage that we have come to associate with the poetics of disavowal, epic poetry is represented by Homer’s Odyssey, which functions as a foil to the kind of plain epigram exemplified by the poem in progress”. In other contexts, Philodemus of course values Homer’s poetry. In his De bono rege, dedicated to Piso, he analyzes the Homeric banquet scenes and derives from them guidelines for the proper behavior of a sovereign at the table. See D. De Sanctis, “Omero e la sua esegesi nel ‘De bono rege’ di Filodemo”, CErc 36, 2006, p. 47-64, and “Il sovrano a banchetto…”, op. cit.

30 O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 170.

31 For the epithets of wine in Homer see P. Vivante, “The Syntax of Homer’s Epithets of Wine”, Glotta 60, 1982, p. 13-23.

32 D. De Sanctis, “Il sovrano a banchetto…”, op. cit., p. 52, emphasizes the contrast between the lack of material goods and the presence of true friends and entertainment at the prospective banquet: “La rinuncia alla quale è sottoposto Pisone, una rinuncia tutta materiale a cibi, a bevande di lusso, è ricompensata dalla presenza di ἕταροι παναληθεῖς, nonché dalla possibilità di ascoltare parole definite μελιχρότερα, più dolci dei racconti narrate ai Feaci da Odisseo.” But as the choice of words suggests, at least the rejection of Chian wine. In a second epigram by Philodemus (A.P. 11.35 = 28 Sider), where Chian wine is mentioned as a contribution to an eranos whithout epic hints, the wine is simply called Χῖον.

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Anja Bettenworth, « Phaeacians at the birthday party: A.P. 11.44 (Philodemus) and its epic background », Aitia [En ligne], 2 | 2012, mis en ligne le 11 juillet 2012, consulté le 29 juillet 2014. URL : http://aitia.revues.org/380 ; DOI : 10.4000/aitia.380

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Anja Bettenworth

University of Cologne

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