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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
D. Sider, The Epigrams of Philodemos, op. cit., p. 152.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Il mito dei Feaci in Filodemo”, op. cit., p. 517.
L’Anthologie grecque, 1ère Partie : Anthologie palatine, Livre X-XI, Paris, 1972.
R. Aubreton, op. cit., p. 238 n. 4: “le séjour sera aussi agréable que le fut pour Ulysse celui de Schérie.”
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.
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.
Nausicaa’s attitude towards Odysseus is favorable throughout, but does not lead to a closer contact to Odysseus.
“Il sovrano a banchetto…”, op. cit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
In the same passage, Cicero claims that Epicurean gatherings were in fact orgies, characterized by excessive drinking.
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.
O. Hiltbrunner, “Einladung zum epikureischen Freundesmahl...”, op. cit., p. 170.
For the epithets of wine in Homer see P. Vivante, “The Syntax of Homer’s Epithets of Wine”, Glotta 60, 1982, p. 13-23.
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.Haut de page