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“Storm Landscape”: from the reality effect to the moralized mimesis. The examples of Apollonius Rhodius and Quintus of Smyrna.

« Le paysage de tempête » : de l’effet de réel à la mimesis moralisée. Les exemples d’Apollonios de Rhodes et de Quintus de Smyrne
‘Il paesaggio della tempesta’: dall’effetto realistico alla mimesi moralizzante. Gli esempi di Apollonio Rodio e Quinto Smirneo
Laury-Nuria André

Résumés

Le paysage antique tel qu’il est représenté dans l’épopée hellénistique et tardive est un champ d’investigation privilégié pour interroger le rôle et l’évolution du concept de mimesis antique. Un paysage épique en particulier, celui de la tempête en mer, retiendra notre attention : le passage des Symplégades chez Apollonios de Rhodes (Argonautiques II, 549-610) et la tempête finale qui clôt la Suite d’Homère de Quintus de Smyrne offrent une étude comparative des plus significatives. En effet, le paysage des Symplégades, paysage de l’extrême, est un lieu où tous les éléments s’inversent ; le poète campe un décor proche du chaos et de l’infigurable. Pourtant, à la relecture du passage, on s’aperçoit vite qu’il est tout sauf chaotique : très construit grâce au rythme narratif régulier organisé en trois temps qui miment les mouvements des flots, il crée un effet de réel « rassurant » porté par une prosodie et un style qui réécrit Homère. Mimesis, effet de réel, et réécriture homérique sont donc liés dans ce paysage de tempête chez Apollonios.
Or, Quintus offre un paysage de tempête au fonctionnement mimétique différent : la tempête finale, qui vient clore la Suite d’Homère qui se veut une réécriture de l’Iliade et l’Odyssée, mobilise plus l’intertexte hellénistique que l’intertexte homérique. La tempête y est pensée comme un châtiment divin, une nemesis destinée à punir l’hubris des conquérants : la description se charge d’un vocabulaire axiologique qui ne tarde pas à faire de ce paysage épique une ouverture à la réflexion philosophique : la mimesis ne vise plus l’effet de réel, elle se charge d’une dimension éthique à mesure qu’elle s’éloigne de la réécriture homérique.
Comment comprendre dès lors que la puissance d’évocation de l’effet de réel assuré par la mimesis (au sens d’imitatio) constitutive du paysage épique passe non plus par un « paysage en mouvement » présentant de manière pathétique la violence et la mort, mais par un pathos qui n’est plus perceptible qu’à travers l’usage d’un vocabulaire axiologique et philosophique ? Cette communication entend donc montrer comment le concept de mimesis évolue d’une acception d’imitation, d’effet de réel, à une compréhension plus éthique, moralisée à la fin de l’antiquité. Le paysage constitue donc bien un des lieux d’observation privilégiés de la mise en œuvre d’une mimesis évolutive à la période hellénistique et tardive.

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Texte intégral

1The translation from the French sentence “landscape storm” (stormy landscape) has led us to ask ourselves if a transient condition of the landscape could itself be a category, so we tried to make the idea of “landscape into turmoil”. That in itself is an object of reflection, we here as elsewhere in this paper aim to show the existence of landscape aesthetic terms, despite the anachronistic to some experts, assuming that the category exists insofar as the literary text offers it the means of plastic existence. The difficulty lies rather in the analysis of body painting, which will be conducted here, but will be treated in the developments of our thesis.

Introduction

  • 1 There is a similar definition in the Dictionnaire Le Robert de la langue française (french dictionn (...)
  • 2 See the introduction of my PhD dissertation.
  • 3 Nature is a philosophical and aesthetic category in itself, it represents an inventory of philosoph (...)
  • 4 J.-C. Bailly, Le champ mimétique, Paris, Seuil, 2005.

2The landscape, because it has a dual meaning of portion of land that meets one’s eyes at one given point,1 and of representation of this space in its absence, is undoubtedly a topic of choice to examine and analyze the mimesis scope of action at work in a narrative. Yet this is not because the landscape looks to hire a real referent that is offered as an exact model of mimesis in the usual and problematic sense of imitation, representing, that is to say, having again pictures of landscape of the existing world, transposing and breeding them in the intimacy of a book or of given fiction. This proposal applied to the landscape of the Hellenistic and late epic is even wrong, and doubly wrong. The reason is because firstly the landscape – some experts stubbornly deny its existence in ancient times2 – is itself a concept as complex and fluctuating as mimesis and is not summarized in the question of nature nor in that of physical geography3 but, because it is based on the principles of fiction, it refers to what Jean-Christophe Bailly called the mimetic field.4 Secondly, the reason lies in the fact that mimesis, especially in the case of ancient theories, can’t be summarized as a simple matter of copying and reproducing reality by means of literary fiction or plastic modeling, whatever the degree of probability that it is granted.

  • 5 As emphasized in G. Gebauer, C. Wulf, Mimésis. Culture - Art - Societé, Paris, Cerf, 2005, p. 19: “ (...)
  • 6 Ibidem.
  • 7 As shown by S. Halliwell in The Aesthetics of Mimesis, Ancient Texts and Modern Problems, Princeton (...)

3In ancient Greece, in fact, mimesis was already a very complex concept.5 If it is impossible to establish a general dialectic in the history of mimesis,6 it is possible to read the concept of mimesis in ancient writers as ranging around three areas of significance: imitation, representation and expression, areas which, alternately, will dominate and dictate the means of mimesis depending on the type of texts and times given. These areas will guide our analysis which will focus on two texts: one from the Hellenistic period (IIIrd century BC) and the other from Late Antiquity (IVth century AD), two periods which have been especially neglected by critical theory. But, there has been no lack of neither theoretical material from the Alexandrians to the Byzantines,7 nor the objects which deliver us some mimesis implementations particularly aware of the various implications of the concept which the authors build on to create literary games infinitely.

  • 8 A. Roger, Court Traité du paysage, Paris, Gallimard, 1997.

4Clarification is needed here, our purpose will be twofold: on the one hand it is a work that questions the operation of mimesis in literary landscape representation at work in the epic poem, and on the other hand, to this formal demonstration is added a deeper questioning about the very existence of the concept of landscape in the period, a questioning whose results may also fall upon the issue of mimesis: is it possible to imitate something that– supposedly – has no existence? If the answer is yes, mimesis therefore would be vested with a task, if not demiurgic at least artialazing (artialisante from Alain Roger’s concept8), in so far as the writing, with its own means, is able of generating a plastic form leading, little by little, to the necessity of the concept, of the nomos, the law.

  • 9 Here we use deliberately the term “landscape storm” and not just the storm at sea, despite the fact (...)
  • 10 Here it would be interesting to investigate everything that crosses both a reflection on mimesis at (...)

5The mimesis is a theory of practice and these are the objects thus created that will reveal here the image of mimesis in Late Antiquity. Thus our analysis suggests to compare the epic landscape of sea storm9 in Apollonius of Rhodes, the Alexandrian poet and author of the Argonautica and in Quintus of Smyrna, the imperial poet who writes in Greek, and the author from the IVth century AD who rewrites the Homeric epics through the Alexandrian prism. We chose these two examples of storm landscapes because their treatment in epic fiction offers a unique and progressive mobilization of mimesis. In the Alexandrian poet, in fact, the navigation around the Symplegades, which was the most dangerous strait for the epic crew, gone seeking the Golden Fleece, is the place of a landscape development whose mimetic feature is both paradoxical and unexpected: the author portrays a natural setting torn apart by a storm that threatens to swallow the seamen; but when you look closer, the text is built on a model of the most consistent and most composed kind, no imitative harmony is mimicking the raging elements, but everything is done, in the means of mimetic fiction, to mean the opposite of what is on view: an ordering by the syntax and by rewriting Homer instead of a furious storm. The reality effect is then intended to paradoxically reassure the reader by exhibiting a chaotic landscape only to better represent its ordering, then the imitation operates as a representation of a won order, the order proposed by the world of the epic and its syntax coloured by Homer. Yet, in Quintus, who rewrote more widely Apollonius than Homer,10 the storm is different and it is the opposite logic that appears to be exploited: the unleashing of violence of the elements is not only signified by a rationalization of divine anger and by a detailed description of the disaster, but it is also oversignified by a dislocation of the storm landscape in other descriptions of rugged landscapes replaying in a mirror effect the storm-framework, divine nemesis punishing the human hubris of the conquerors of Troy. It is in this game of duplication and imitation of a landscape replaying and thwarting the problems of real referent that the description is loaded with an axiological vocabulary reflecting the moral thought of the author; the mimesis becomes ethical and shows itself off as such, connecting its moralization to the showing process.

  • 11 While we use it here in the somewhat astray, we owe the term to M. Desporte in an eponymous book, P (...)
  • 12 R. Sorel, Chaos et éternité, Mythologie et philosophie grecques de l’origine, Paris, Les Belles Let (...)

6How to understand then that the evoking power of the reality effect performed by mimesis (in the sense of imitation) constitutive of the epic landscape, is no longer through a landscape in motion11 presenting in a mimetic way the violence and in a pathetic way the death, but it is by a pathos that is only noticeable through the use of an axiological and ethical vocabulary? Isn’t it possible to imagine that with this storm landscape here, with this landscape of Chaos, we are touching on issues of figuration and of the unfigurable (definition of Chaos by Reynal Sorel12) of the unrepresentable and its ways of representing what is on the brink, at the extreme limit of reality. In this sense, wouldn’t the mimesis be the sign of what the representation preserves as unrepresentable, of everything that exceed the likelihood in the Aristotelian sense of the term. The mimesis – or rather the mimeseis – that are used in these two texts are the means of thinking of the world no longer only from its geographical boundaries as the conquest of Alexander and the hypertrophic borders of the oikoumene that ensued encouraged the Hellenistic and late poets and artists to do so but also of thinking of the world by the limits of its representation, the limits of what is representable in the eyes of an ancient Greek.

I. The stormy landscape in Apollonius Rhodius: the crossing of the Symplegades (Arg. II, 549-610), a mimesis between reality effect and paradox

1. Between storm and Chaos: the Symplegades crossing, the landscape of an impossible mimesis

  • 13 There is only a narrative counterpart of Homer, but there is no link between the “mimesis” (if ther (...)

7Placed in the middle of book II, the strategic center of this four cantos epic, the story of the dangerous navigation accross the Symplegades rocks (the counterpart of Sylla and Charybdis in Homer’s Odyssey13) is the decisive step for the Argonauts, heroes embarked under the leadership of Jason, to conduct a search to the end of the known world (oikoumene) in quest of the Golden Fleece. The significance of this narrative episode legitimates a singular treatment. And this is indeed the case: an outbreak of natural elements (weather or landscape) constitutes the material context of the test: the navigation between two rocks that have the unfortunate tendency to crush all vessels attempting to sail between them. The sea and the winds are the enemies of sailors, but there are worse: it is the landscape itself that terrorizes most the heroes:

Οἱ δ’ ὅτε δὴ σκολιοῖο πόρου στεινωπὸν ἵκοντο
τρηχείῃς σπιλάδεσσιν ἐεργμένον ἀμφοτέρωθεν,
δινήεις δ’ ὑπένερθεν ἀνακλύζεσκεν ἰοῦσαν
νῆα ῥόος, πολλὸν δὲ φόβῳ προτέρωσε νέοντο,
ἤδη δέ σφισι δοῦπος ἀρασσομένων πετράων
νωλεμὲς οὔατ’ ἔβαλλε, βόων δ’ ἁλιμυρέες ἀκταί. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 549-554)

  • 14 Quand les héros furent arrivés dans le goulet du passage tortueux, resserré des deux côtés par d’âp (...)

When the heroes had arrived in the Narrows crossing tortuous, edged on both sides by rugged rocks, as the current swirling beneath the ship was breaking in the opposite direction of his march, while full of terror they forced the pace and already the crash of rocks that clashed violently struck their ears was roaring and cliffs battered by the waves.14

8The sinious rocks, the swirling currents, the violence of the waves against the cliffs are combined to create a fearful space:

τὰς δ’ αὐτίκα λοίσθιον ἄλλων
οἰγομένας ἀγκῶνα περιγνάμψαντες ἴδοντο.
σὺν δέ σφιν χύτο θυμός. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 559-561)

  • 15 Soudain, lorsqu’ils eurent doublé le dernier coude du détroit, ils aperçurent les roches qui s’ouvr (...)

Suddenly, when they had left behind the last turn of the strait, they saw the rock that opened: all hearts were overwhelmed.15

9What is striking here in the description of this storm at sea and of this dangerous navigation is the systematic combination of natural elements constituting the environment, natural elements that normally are separated. In each of these descriptions of the Symplegades landscape, the poet indeed takes care to merge the sea and sky and the rocky mountains:

ταὶ δ’ ἄμυδις πάλιν ἀντίαι ἀλλήλῃσιν
ἄμφω ὁμοῦ ξυνιοῦσαι ἐπέκτυπον. ὦρτο δὲ πολλὴ
ἅλμη ἀναβρασθεῖσα, νέφος ὥς· αὖε δὲ πόντος
σμερδαλέον, πάντῃ δὲ περὶ μέγας ἔβρεμεν αἰθήρ.
κοῖλαι δὲ σπήλυγγες ὑπὸ σπιλάδας τρηχείας
κλυζούσης ἁλὸς ἔνδον ἐβόμβεον, ὑψόθι δ’ ὄχθης
λευκὴ καχλάζοντος ἀνέπτυε κύματος ἄχνη. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 564-670)

  • 16 Celles-ci [les roches] revenant toutes deux l’une vers l’autre, se réunirent avec fracas. Une grand (...)

They [the rocks] getting back both towards each other, met with a crash. A large plume of boiling water rose like a cloud and the sea roared terribly and all surrounding areas of the ether rang. The caves hollow bellowed, when water rushes into the foothills of the rugged rocks, and vomited a stream breaking into a white foam to top of the cliffs.16

10The elements are then blended, the water evaporates into a liquid cloud (the spray of water: ὦρτο δὲ πολλὴ ἅλμη ἀναβρασθεῖσα, νέφος ὥς), the flow turns into foam (mixture of air and water: λευκὴ... ἄχνη) so as to take a disproportionately large size, as tall as the cliffs, and mingle with them (ὑψόθι δ’ ὄχθης λευκὴ καχλάζοντος ἀνέπτυε κύματος ἄχνη).

  • 17 It is worth noting the visual and auditive dimensions in the construction of this fear; we would ho (...)

11This animated landscape presents an exceptional feature: it moves. The rocks do not simply shake the waves into a churning whirlpool, they close on each other and break everything between them, determining, in a disruption of natural boundaries, a landscape on the edge of reality. The dimness (l’indistinct of Roland Barthes) of this terrifying landscape is no longer described as such but it is mediated by the feelings experienced by the crew struggling with the elements. The Alexandrian poet builds a crescendo in the emotional tension that becomes an escalating dramatic tension: there is indeed a progression of feelings ranging from fear to awe,17 reflecting the peak of the corresponding emotional tension at the denouement: divine intervention. Between the verses 552 and 577, we can observe a gradation of feelings expressed by the crew: first they are full of fear (πολλὸν δὲ φόβῳ, v. 552), then their hearts are shocked (σὺν δέ σφιν χύτο θυμός, verse 561), then the fear is perceived physically, they are trembling (τοὺς δ’ ἐλάοντας ἔχεν τρόμοv, verse 575) and finally it reaches a climax, the most terrible of terrors seized them all (τότε δ’ αἰνότατον δέος εἷλεν πάντας, verses 577-578) to culminate in a denser form of expression in the verse 597.

12Thus, the feelings expressed contribute to the mimesis: they reproduce the effect of this landscape of terror on any spectator confronted with the extreme violence of this upheaval.

  • 18 Hes., Theog., 115-116: ἐξ ἀρχῆς, καὶ εἴπαθ’, ὅτι πρῶτον γένετ’ αὐτῶν. / Ἤτοι μὲν πρώτιστα Χάος γένε (...)
  • 19 R. Sorel, op. cit.

13All these elements show that we move from the landscape storm at sea to a landscape which is precisely that of Chaos. If Chaos is the primordial principle in Hesiod,18 the reflection carried out by the ancients on the idea of Chaos has actually led us to construe it as the figure of the unrepresentable.19 The mixture of the primordial elements, earth, air, water, presented here in the landscape of the Symplegades recalls nothing less than the pre-cosmic state of the world before the partition of the elements constituting the primordial human world before their ordering according to the divine will: the κόσμος. With the unrepresentable and chaotic landscape we reach here the limits of the representation. This landscape, from a logical point of view, imposes an impossible mimesis. How then to represent the unrepresentable and how mimesis operates so as to show us what we understand as the unfigurable and the unrepresentable?

2. Narrative composition and reality effect: a paradoxical mimesis

14This landscape, which is akin to Chaos, calling for an impossible mimesis, can be apprehended by the reader as a space on the edge of reality. The whole problem could be solved easily by resorting to the Aristotelian notion of plausible, but we would underestimate the literal and theoretical games in Alexandrian poetry and dull the plasticity of the concept. If the concept of mimesis has been operating here in the sense of an imitation of a torn landscape and of the raging elements thought as representable (or at least likely), we would have been entitled to expect various stylistic devices for deploying the mimetic imitation: an imitative harmony in the verses, disjointed syntactic and prosodic construction, strong images, a flood of comparisons, a fragmented narrative composition.

15However, reading again this text, we discover a picture built in an extremely rigorous way, most balanced syntax and a prosody, a restrained use of comparisons. It is as if the text displayed a compositional strategy substituting to a unreal landscape a reality-effect that allows it, beyond the problem of the real referent and the degree of likelihood determined by the reading contract, to unfold its existence in a mimesis playing with the paradox between figurable and unfigurable.

  • 20 Verses 549 to 573, then 573 to 597.
  • 21 Verses 549-559, 560-564, 565-573 for the first part, and 575-578, 579-585, 593-597 for the second.
  • 22 It shows the rocks in the closing verses 551-553 and it creates a first wave of turmoil that blends (...)

16The composition of this text is based on a mimetic construction set of the action waves combining the action of the waves taken between the surf and the eddies – movement imposed by the bottleneck effect of the mountainous rocks opening and closing alternately. In fact, this text is unfolded into two symmetrical parts of 24 verses each,20 themselves articulated into three sub-parts equally symmetrical.21 We see then the rocks closing, reopening and then closing again, producing three shockwaves that amplify and upset the natural movement of the inflows.22

17The first part which describes a phenomenon readily observable in reality and whose regularity encloses the description in an orderly framework is enhanced by a second reality effect in the second part of the text, which has three very regular temporal mouvements: they correspond to three types of natural waves that beset the sailors: the wave πλημυρίς, that is to say the wave of reflux, the μέγα κῦμα, the big flood and finally the καταρρεπὲς κῦμα, the flow which takes away the ship. This very regular composition (two times three) creates a reality effect by deploying the techniques of literary fiction for imitative purposes, to reproduce the natural movement and the regularity of marine waters. The mimesis is not impossible, it works where one does not expect, creating a gap between the object represented and its means of representation.

  • 23 Indeed found in Homer scansions type of spondaic for phrases like ὀλοοῖο γόοιο or βαρὺ στενάχων whe (...)

18In addition, the text is composed of dactylic hexameters, among the most regular. Of the 58 verses analyzed, 52 are catalectic dactylic hexameters, that is to say, the meter of choice used in the Homeric epics, and only 6 are spondaic verses (verses that replace the fifth foot – which should be a perfect dactyl – by a spondee). Of these 58 verses, 22 are composed only by dactyls (without the sixth catalectic foot), 20 verses have a single spondee in all dactyls and 10 have two. Obviously, this is the meter of Homer which is applied here, a meter known for its regular rhythmic patterns, a sort of ideal of epic prosody. It is then surprising that the Alexandrian poet sparingly uses the spondee verse because it is usually used to create a rhythmic break, to stress a tragic event or some strong feelings such as pain or fear.23 However, there is little or no imitative harmony in the verses of Apollonius describing the outbreak of three large waves that beset the ship Argο:

  |   |   |  |  |  
πλημμυρὶς παλίνορσος ἀνερχομένη κατένεικεν

19while μέγα κῦμα about verse 580 occupies two half-dactyls:

  |   |   |   |   |  
καί σφισιν ἀπροφάτως ἀνέδυ μέγα κῦμα πάροιθεν

20and finally κατηρεφὲς κῦμα in verse 593 occupies two half-dactyl and a catalectic spondee (chanted either short or long on the final vowel):

  |   |   |   |   |  
ἔνθεν δ’ αὐτίκ’ ἔπειτα κατηρεφὲς ἔσσυτο κῦμα

21Again we see a disjunction between the object represented that should be conducive to an imitative mimesis, and the means of its representation, which brings about a different meaning. The mimesis that operates here is paradoxical, because in creating a gap between the represented object and the meaning of the representation, it illustrates the question of the representation of the unrepresentable: mimesis brings out what is unrepresentable in the representation.

22One last item, that we also evoked in our analysis of the landscape painting of Chaos, lies in the feelings of the sailors during the dangerous crossing. We assessed how the expression of feelings contributes to the crescendo in dramatic tension of the text. But there is more: what interests us here is the climax of this emotional stress and what it means. In the description of fear, the sailors come to a point of emotional stress such that fear itself has no more meaning for them (verse 591). The stillness of the ship is almost worse than the constant motion of the waves that transform the ship into a simple log:

ἡ δ’ ἄφαρ ὥστε κύλινδρος ἐπέτρεχε κύματι λάβρῳ
προπροκαταΐγδην κοίλης ἁλός. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 594-595)

  • 24 Le navire aussitôt, comme un rondin, se mettait à courir de l’avant, dans un élan impétueux, porté (...)

The ship as soon as a stick, began as soon to run forward in an impetuous, carried by the powerful wave that dug the sea. 24

  • 25 ἐν δ’ ἄρα μέσσαις / Πληγάσι δινήεις εἶχεν ῥόος· αἱ δ’ ἑκάτερθεν / σειόμεναι βρόμεον, πεπέδητο δὲ νή (...)
  • 26 καὶ τότ’ Ἀθηναίη στιβαρῆς ἀντέσπασε πέτρης / σκαιῇ, δεξιτερῇ δὲ διαμπερὲς ὦσε φέρεσθαι. / ἡ δ’ ἰκέλ (...)
  • 27 πέτραι δ’ εἰς ἕνα χῶρον ἐπισχεδὸν ἀλλήλῃσιν / νωλεμὲς ἐρρίζωθεν. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 604-605) Rocks, (...)

23The aphasia of the heroes and the stillness of the ship reflect the ultimate point of this catastrophic situation in the etymological sense of the term.25 Yet it is the critical situation of the protagonists that will trigger the divine intervention of Athena (verses 598-603),26 deciding of their actual passage between moving rocks, which, as they pass by, come to rest for ever.27 Thus, this immobility, sign of ultimate terror, is in reality not only the guarantee of a paradoxical return to calm and to survival, but it is also embodied by the rocks eternaly fastened by a curse as a landscape permanently changed by the interaction of the valiant heroes. Here too we find the action of this unexpected and paradoxical mimesis, playing on the codes and expectations of the reader.

24In this analysis of the means used by fiction to deploy the scope of mimesis expected in the ekphrasis of a landscape, we note the extensive games of the narrative composition, of prosodic writing and dramatic tension. They do not contribute to implement a mimesis of reproduction of images of a stormy landscape in the sense of an imitation involving imitative harmonies, but they effect a strategy of representation that places the reality effect where we don’t expect it. Because of the gap created between the object represented and its means of representation, the meaning that follows is considerably displaced: now can we understand how a stormy landscape, violently presenting topical elements and presenting the fear and the death, in a pathetic way could be expressed by means of a representation signifying on the contrary a regularity, a return to calm and to stillness of the raging elements?

3. Conclusion: towards an ethics of reading Hellenistic mimesis?

  • 28 We are approaching here the phenomenon of prose of the world (prose du monde) wich M. Foucauld ta (...)
  • 29 R. Sorel, op. cit., p. 116.

25It is as if, in the text of Apollonius, the means used to represent the landscape of Chaos borrowed from the writing of Homer actually operated, contrary to expectation, an ordering of this shattered space. The composition of the text is symmetricaly ordered, offering a perfect structure and a fixed framework compensating for the disintegration of the landscape represented. The syntax based on a well-balanced metric gives itself off as an ordering of the world in the space of the epic text.28 Finally, the emotional climax, resulting in the immobility of men, calls for a divine intervention to sort things out and what looks like desorder in the face of Chaos. What is at stake here is much more than a paradoxical mimesis playing with and defeating the expectations of a reader by moving the effective realism. The meaning that arises from the difference posited between the represented object and its representation gives to this mimesis an ethical dimension: the stormy landscape turned into a chaotic landscape is only represented so as to confirm its ordering in a world organized by the cosmos, the world of the epic. But there is more: the landscape of Chaos stands for a reactualization of the problem of Chaos and eternity, for if the Chaos is the unfigurable figured here by a paradoxical mimesis, it is also the constant removal of the ‘unfigurable’” (only possible definition of Chaos) in order to let something happen that is not it, that is to say a world which is constantly in the process of configuring itself.29 Chaos is bound to eternity by the possibility it offers to let a possible world emerge. Thus, by analogy, the mimesis that unfolds in and through the means of the epic genre determines the fiction as a producer of a possible world replaying the possibility of recreating the universe according to a certain order. And it is particularly significant that this staging of the updating of the creation of the universe is in the center at the epic (halfway through the book II) moves and stretches to the New World’s borders known to the Greeks, the world which now extends to the Eastern borders. It was imperative that time, for men who had to rethink their place in a world in turmoil, to replay the problem of mimesis so as to represent the new oikoumene. To this extent, the mimesis of Apollonius building a paradoxical reality effect, can be given an ethical dimension, that of creating a new world and ordering it within the space offered by the epic.

II. The stormy landscape in Quintus of Smyrna: the final storm (Posth. XIV, 419-658), a mimesis between the sublime and ethics

1. The final storm: the excessive figuration of the cataclysm, or a mimesis of the sublime

26If the mimesis at work in Apollonius is still grappling with the reality effect and the question of the unrepresentable, the stormy landscape depicted by Quintus of Smyrna commits to a mimesis that seems to have freed itself from the problem of real referent and reality effect. If it is to remain within the limits of verisimilitude, the epic fiction of Quintus proposes an endless succession of meteorological attacks all along the 239 verses that conclude this late epic. This landscape storm strikes us because of its hyperbolic feature. The emphatic processes are at work even before the outbreak of violent elements begins, from the encounter between Athena and Zeus, who decide together what divine punishment will impact the Greeks for having offended the territory of Dardanians. Their dialogue mobilizes a vocabulary of passionate and excessive feelings: Zeus allows Athena to unleash [it]self on the Argives sinister storm (σὺ δὲ σῷ κρατερόφρονι θυμῷ / αὐτὴ χεῖμ’ ἀλεγεινὸν ἐπ’ Ἀργείοισιν ὄρινον, verses 447-448). She decides to overburden the Locrian king with the heaviest and most inexorable fate (βαρὺν καὶ ἀνηλέα πότμον / ἀμφὶ Λοκρῶν βασιλῆι, verses 423-424). The use of superlatives creates emphasis, the adverbs and the adjectives help to enhance the outburst in the description: Athena needs the help of Aeolus, the master of the Winds and she asks him to release all the winds at once (ὄφρ’ Ἀνέμους ἅμα πάντας ἐπιβρίσαντας, verse 468) because they are incessantly wrecking havoc for they yell and live in the din (ἔνθ’ Ἄνεμοι κελαδεινὰ δυσηχέες ηὐλίζοντο […], περίαχε δ’ αἰὲν ἰωὴ / βρυχομένων ἀλεγεινά, verses 482-484). What triggers an outburst of the sea as the waves are said to be waves as high as mountains (ἠλιβάτοισι δ’ ἐοικότα κύματ’ ὄρεσσιν / ἄλλοθεν ἄλλα φέροντο, verses 490-491).

27The images thus created have a strength and intensity that fuels the hyperbolic effect: the waves are as high as mountains. In addition, the strength of the storm is measured by its geographical extension, and adverbs of place, alone or in verbal compounds, stress the geographical extension of the phenomenon: they stress that the storm has an effect on the whole surrounding landscape; we found the use of adverbs such as round (περί) verse 464, beyond (ὑπέρ) verse 466, everywhere in the round (ἀμφί) verse 511, especially in these parts (ἧχι μάλιστα) verse 513, all round (ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’) verse 531 and 536, used alone or as preverb like περιγναμφθεῖσα verse 472, verse 483 and verse 534 περίαχε, which suggest on the spatial expansion of the tempest which gains over the whole landscape itself.

28The principles of causation in which frame the outbursts of violence are part of the stormy landscape emphasize the passions of the gods. They vent out a strong vengeful feeling or passion in order to punish men for their odious sacrilege:

Ζεῦ πάτερ, οὐκέτ’ ἀνεκτὰ θεοῖς ἐπιμηχανόωνται
ἀνέρες, οὐκ ἀλέγοντες ἀνὰ φρένας οὔτε σεῦ αὐτοῦ
οὔτ’ ἄλλων μακάρων, [...] ἐπεὶ ἦ νύ μοι ἔνδοθι νηοῦ
υἱὸς Ὀιλῆος μέγ’ ἐνήλιτεν, οὐδ’ ἐλέαιρε. (Q. Sm., Posth. XIV, 427-436)

  • 30 O Zeus, mon père! Il n’est plus permis de tolérer les forfaits que les hommes machinent contre les (...)

O Zeus, my father! It is no longer possible to tolerate the packages that men invent against the gods: their hearts have nothing to worry about your person or the other Blessed [...], for it is in my own temple as the son of Oileus I was seriously offended.30

29The reasons behind this landscape of excessive storm thus participate in the construction of a style of bombast and excess, in so far as they summon excessive feelings in between of hubris and nemesis.

  • 31 About energeia and ancient ekphrasis, please refer to the works of J.-P. Aygon and of F. Delarue (s (...)
  • 32 See the works of R. Doran, The Aesthetics of the Sublime from Longinus to Nietzsche, in progress, a (...)

30Knowing that the sublime comes from a number of notions associating heroism and myth to a rhetoric of energeia and pathos,31 we can say that with various methods of emphasis, with the unbridled passions of gods and men, with a composition which replays the onslaught of the storm, pushing it to the limits of the verisimilitude, the Posthomerica stormy landscape is clearly on the side of a mimesis of the sublime.32 But can we understand now that the pathetic and violent presenting of the physical outbursts and of the death, have moved towards an axiological and moral vocabulary of the scene that opens this landscape to a more ethical dimension?

2. Beyond verisimilitude and reality effect: the emergence of an ethical mimesis

31The text of Quintus of Smyrna is also a scholarly publication. What emerges more clearly from this reading is its paradoxicaly rationalized nature. We have just seen that mimetic treatment of the stormy landscape refers us to the category of the sublime. The representation is no longer the concern of a reproduction of images with text referring to a landscape of real storm. Likewise the mimesis is not intent on building an effect of reality, even as paradoxical as in Apollonius. However, this landscape of storm also stands out a tension between the excess of a derealizing representation due to the hyperbole and through an explanation of the causes of the mimesis of the cataclysmic phenomenon.

  • 33 Between verses 419 and 460 which relate to the interview between Athena and Zeus followed the arms (...)
  • 34 εἰ μὴ ἄρά σφι / κούρη ἐριγδούποιο Διὸς νεμέσησεν Ἀθήνη; The aorist νεμέσησεν is not increased, the (...)

32We must go back to what preceeds the representation of the stormy landscape:33 these forty verses depend entirely on the logic of divine vengeance after having been insulting by men and a vocabulary of passion and feelings is present in almost every line. From the first verses that expose the divine interview between Athena and Zeus, the poet uses the verb νεμεσάω,34 built on the same root as the noun νέμεσις. The emotional state of the gods is then quickly explained: the speech given by Athena to Zeus combines the feelings of vengeance and anger of the goddess with the legal explanation that legitimizes the application of a νέμεσις to men. The speech then takes on a moral value as evidenced by the use of an axiological vocabulary: the gods are no longer tolerating the forfeats engineered by men against the gods (Ζεῦ πάτερ, οὐκέτ’ ἀνεκτὰ θεοῖς ἐπιμηχανόωνται / ἀνέρες, verses 427-428). The charge relates to the perverted nature of hearts of men who have neither care nor respect for the gods (οὐκ ἀλέγοντες ἀνὰ φρένας οὔτε σεῦ αὐτοῦ / οὔτ ‘ἄλλων μακάρων, verses 428-429), and the goddess emphasizes the disruption of moral values supposed to govern the world of men. The charge relates to the perverted nature of men’s hearts. They have neither care nor respect for the gods and the goddess insists on the shifting moral values supposed to govern men’s world:

ἐπεὶ ἦ τίσις οὐκέτ’ ὀπηδεῖ
ἀνδράσι λευγαλέοισι, κακοῦ δ’ ἄρα πολλάκις ἐσθλὸς
συμφέρετ’ ἄλγεσι μᾶλλον, ἔχει δ’ ἄλληκτον ὀιζύν.
Τοὔνεκ’ ἄρ’ οὔτε δίκην τις ἔθ’ ἅζεται, οὐδέ τις αἰδὼς
ἔστι παρ’ ἀνθρώποισιν. (Q. Sm., Posth. XIV, 429-433)

  • 35 Car désormais le châtiment ne poursuit plus le crime et, bien souvent, au contraire, c’est la vertu (...)

Now because the punishment no longer pursues the crime and in many cases, however, is virtue more than vice, which meets misfortune and go through hard times without end or respite. Also any respect for justice he disappeared and all shame she abandoned men.35

33She complains that the punishment no longer hunts down the crime”, but instead it is the virtue more than the vice, which meets with hard times and misery without end. The moral condamnations are serious and unambiguous: any respect for justice disappeared and all shame deserted the men, the vocabulary used here is especially manichaean, so as to make easy the moral reading. What preceeds the storm has an inaugural function: it organises the cataclysmic events that will accur and it stabilizes the foundations of ethical rationalization through the use of an axiological vocabulary.

34In addition, this moral dimension will increasingly support the full implementation of the storm, as the scene in which they get ready for the frey shows it. Introduced by a direct rewriting of Apollonius of Rhodes (Arg. II, 250) to the verses 441-451 this scene refers to a typical epic scene, but there is one oddity: the attributes of the goddess have all human features, the flash [is] quick (στεροπήν τε θοὴν, verse 449) and lightning loopholes (ὀλοόν τε κεραυνὸν, verse 449) but the thunder is heavy sobs (βροντὴν στονόεσσαν, verse 450); these are hypallages (transferring human features to an object). There is therefore strong feelings of revenge and anger, corresponding to a moral system, moving gradually towards the gods to their means of action to finally inform the future course of the storm itself.

35Lastly, every movement, every physical upheaval that fuels the storm relate to a feeling of joy felt during the performance of divine vengeance or a testimony of the divine respect of divinity. After the first movement of cataclysmic attack (verses 460-462), there is a feeling of joy felt by Zeus: Ζεὺς δὲ μέγ’ εἰσορόων ἐπετέρπετο (verse 463). Later he helps Athena “by his thunder, because in his heart he wants to glorify his daughter” (ἐπέκτυπε δ’ οὐρανόθεν Ζεὺς / κυδαίνων ἀνὰ θυμὸν ἑὸν τέκος, verses 510-511) and as Poseidon too: Ὗε δ’ ὕπερθε / Ζεὺς ἐπίηρα φέρων ἐρικυδέι Ἐννοσιγαίῳ (verses 637-638). The landscape of storm is very closely linked to emotional causality and the moral values they convey. But there is more: the elements themselves are experiencing the same feelings as when the winds of Aeolus apply all the rage to dismantle the Sea with their sinister assaults (ἀνοιδῆναί τε θάλασσαν / λευγαλέῃς ῥιπῇσι μεμηνότας, verses 470-471), or the sea challenged by the winds and earthquakes, which “utters an endless complaint”, comes to exhale a complaint infinite. Finally, the climax of this transfer of emotions and moral values takes place at the highest point of the model storm description:

Οὐδέ τις ἐλπωρὴ βιότου πέλεν, οὕνεκ’ ἐρεμνὴ
νὺξ ἅμα καὶ μέγα χεῖμα καὶ ἀθανάτων χόλος αἰνὸς
ὦρτο· (Q. Sm., Posth. XIV, 505-507)

No hope of salvation, since the terrible wrath of the Immortals is in league with the darkness and the storm.

36Natural elements here seem to be identical to the anger of the Immortals as if an alliance of common interest could arise between them.

  • 36 This moralized vision of the world by the poet shows its proximity with the conceptions of Stoic th (...)

37One can see, in Apollonius the feelings of fear of the sailors are mediated by the dramatic tension in a real mimetic effect; in Quintus of Smyrna, the landscape elements themselves come to have feelings and gang up with the gods to defend their system of moral values. The mediation is no longer operating at the same level and we can say here that the storm becomes a place for the expression of an ethical vision of the world by the author.36

  • 37 The shape of this storm, in and by the language, if it shows an unreal object is not so far removed (...)
  • 38 To focus on the problem of ekphrasis in antiquity, see M. Briand (dir.), La trame et le tableau: po (...)

Thus, mimesis implemented by this storm landscape becomes precisely what can articulate the stormy landscape and the divine judgement. The mimesis here acts as a rationalization principle of an unrational event.37 If there is imitation or an effect of reality, they reside in this extraordinary ekphrasis38 which makes the ethical dimension of mimesis the very condition of its effectiveness as a principle of representation that has a link however loose, with a real referent and verisimilitude. Thus, if the ethical dimension of the stormy landscape in Apollonius Rhodius touched the issue of representation of the unrepresentable, in the case of Quintus of Smyrna, the question of the unrepresentable and the limits of mimesis is mentioned only more obvious, through a most complex narrative composition. Its meaning is to be considered in terms of the concept of mimesis.

3. Specular composition and embedding of the representation: to a ‘‘metamimetic’’ mimesis?

  • 39 Although Quintus must incorporate elements taken from the Homeric narrative, he rewrittes much more (...)
  • 40 About this, see the work of M. Cantilena, “Cronologia e tecnica compositiva dei Posthomerica di Qui (...)
  • 41 See the Greek text at the end of this article.

38Quintus of Smyrna, who rewrote much more Apollonius than Homer,39 was inspired by the clever narrative games of composition of his Hellenistic predecessor. He even seems to surpass its model here.40 The stormy landscape concludes his epic work with duplications and mirror game that seem to reflect and replay a storm-model in several successive updates. The uniqueness of composition first provides what might be called a storm-framework which actualizes its model, its cycle of cataclysm over almost two hundred verses,41 and features a climax with the fusion of natural elements: just as in Apollonius, we are dealing with a storm landscape that tends to become a landscape of Chaos. From this blue-print the poet will create duplicates, numbering five in total, organized according to a geographical order: duplications of the “storm-framework” at sea and duplications of the storm on earth.

  • 42 For more details on this type of rewriting, see the work of C. Cusset, La Muse dans la bibliothèque (...)

39The dislocations of this storm is first organized around the hero Ajax. The story of the storm which assails him, triggers a repetition of the first storm (verses 530-535), followed by a second repetition of the storm that comes to touch all his sailors (verses 536-540), and a third that depicts the paradoxical situation of his captives’ experience (verses 541-547). Finally, one last return to the situation of Ajax creates a loop replaying the cycle of the raging elements (verses 548-589). The author then uses a unique writing technique: self-referentiality. The poet of Smyrna rewrites himself thus creating a mirror effect between the various duplications of the storm scene model. Thus the comparison of the waves lifting the ship as if to the top of the mountain and lowering it down into a precipice of the “storm-framework” (verses 492-495) is found unchanged in the first embedding (verses 553-556) and the same goes for the earthquake: the earthquake of verses 568-574 is just like the one of the “storm-framework” of verses 507-515. The poet builds such duplication in the image of the stormy landscape that serves as a model. The same process is repeated in the second cycle replaying the disaster: when the storm affects the rest of the Achaeans (verses 590-632). So that’s the image of the alliance of natural elements with the divine wrath which is repeated between the “storm-framework” and the second replication cycle – that is to say the fourth copy of the opening storm – and again, we find this process of intertextual self-referentiality.42 Finally, the cataclysm undergoes a maximum extension and reaches the cost around: now it is the rain water, streams and rivers that combine to destroy any building on earth until Dardania is totally immersed, repeating the alliance that we have just commented. This ways of writing clearly involve an emphatic description: mimesis verges on the sublime as it is offered as a representation of an object that touches the boundaries of the real referent by exceeding not only geographical limits imposed by a certain verisimilar, but its representation itself.

  • 43 For more information about the world and its figure in Epic ekphrasis or in historic representation (...)
  • 44 See P. Schubert, From the Epics to the Second Sophistic, from Hecuba to Aethra and finally from Tr (...)

The chaotic nature of this stormy landscape has a similar logic to that at work in the text of Apollonius. It should be understood here that Quintus of Smyrna is a poet who, although living in imperial times, is part of the Second Sophistic, a cultural phenomenon that used to dream a Greek ideal identity. The borders of the oikoumene43 and the problems posed by are now thought in terms of others centers than Rome.44 It is a new universe with a new morphology which must find, after the final storm, its foundations. So the theme of Chaos, linked with the concept of the mimesis is necessary to deconstruct an old order and allow the emergence of a new order of the world.

  • 45 See F. Vian, “Echoes and Imitations of Apollonius Rhodius in Late Greek Epic”, in T. Papanghelis, A (...)
  • 46 Refer to the introductory leaflet by F. Vian, in the CUF edition, to the work of B. Spinoula, Anima (...)
  • 47 B. Cassin, L’Effet sophistique, Paris, Gallimard, 1995.

40But we would like to go further in our analyzing of the rationale for the implementation of such mimesis. When the storm is replayed through a succession of storms that mirrors the duplicate copy and then the mimesis at work in the first storm, it is also duplicated and replayed in a kind of formal reflexive embedding: it is as if, after the exagerations of a process carried to its extremity, that of mimesis constantly reaching far beyond the representation, mimesis does not expresses itself as seeking to exceed the limits of its own representation, but it also stages itself reflexing (in both senses of the word) and aiming to create, if not an aesthetic discourse on mimesis, at least a problematic object opening on a metamimetic reflection on mimesis. We must again summon the socio-cultural context in which this late epic blooms to measure the validity of this proposal. The text of Quintus, if is mobilizing an array of feature that can be identified itself as epic,45 nonetheless it refers to a formal framework of composition that is clearly within the rhetoric and especially that of the second sophistic.46 It is in this sophistical logic that inform the epic discourse that we can easily understand as the sophisticated work of narrative composition that leads to a reflection on the status of mimesis in close connection with the status of the language. Barbara Cassin has recently shown that between ontology and logology, the speech of the sophist rhetoric aimed at creating a world-effect.47 That speaks in favor of this metamimetic mimesis we just have observed. It is probably in this late text that theory and practice come together for us to see the staging of an evoluting concept at work.

Conclusion

41The comparison of these two examples of epic stormy landscapes, spread in time about seven centuries but very similar, has allowed us to highlight the importance, in terms of methodology, of an analysis of objects, that is to say, the practice of literary mimesis. It has revealed the evolution of the concept between the Hellenistic and Late periods, periods often neglected by critics. In this course we will retain the analytical evolution of mimesis already very complex in the Alexandrian text, dealing with the problem of the reality referent and its representation, which focuses on the question of the unrepresentable, and whose strategy is based on its ability to thwart readers’ expectations by moving the effective of the reality effect where we do not expect it. Its ethical value is neither exhibited nor clearly accessible to the reader, it requires an hermeneutical approach and an active construction on the side of the reception.

42Yet, few centuries and a new empire later, the practice of mimesis comes to rest on opposite presuppositions: freed from the problem of the real referent, it is now handling the logic of the emphasis that approaches the sublime style. Moving issues from the Chaos of the irrepresentable producer of a new world, to the principle of rationalization of representation, mimesis becomes self-reflexive and ethical. The reality effect of the Alexandrian mimesis is thus transformed by the evolution of a new world and a new culture in a world-effect in the metaphorical image of the new empire, whose epic as a whole participates in its legitimation.

43As it can be seen, the transhistorical study of the concept reveals that the mimesis is a cross-cultural concept, born and formalized in the literary sphere but which exceeds this universe to inform and legitimize historical and real spaces. That’s why, it seems appropriate, therefore, to open a debate on mimesis at work in the pictorial corpus from the imperial era so as to understand why the Roman painting is more interested in the representation of calm harbors rather than of unleashed storms.

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James A.W., Lee K.H., A Commentary on Quintus of Smyrna, Posthomerica V, Leiden, Brill, 2000.

Nicolet C., L’Inventaire du monde: géographie et politiques aux origines de l’Empire romain, Paris, Hachette, 1996.

Spinoula B., Animal Similes and Creativity in the Posthomerica of Quintus of Smyrna, Athens, S. Saripolos, 2008.

Vian F., “Echoes and Imitations of Apollonius Rhodius in Late Greek Epic”, in Papanghelis T., Rengakos A. (ed.), A Companion to Apollonius Rhodius, Leiden, Brill (Mnemosyne Suppl. 217), 2001, p. 285-308.

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Notes

1 There is a similar definition in the Dictionnaire Le Robert de la langue française (french dictionnary).

2 See the introduction of my PhD dissertation.

3 Nature is a philosophical and aesthetic category in itself, it represents an inventory of philosophical relations and interactions between humans and the environment in which it operates. It is therefore the place of exercise of thought, and the plastic dimension of Nature is thus at once the implementation of fiction and scope of mimesis. For a more thorough reading of the issue of Nature, please refer to the work of C. Rosset, L’Anti-nature, Paris, PUF, 1973. For the relationship between Nature and Landscape (in the aesthetic sense of the word), see the work of S. Lécole-Solnychkine, Neutral Readings of the Landscape, PhD dissertation, Université de Toulouse II Le Mirail, 2009, and our doctoral work, Shapes and Functions of the Landscape in the Hellenistic and Late epic, ENS de Lyon and Université Paris Ouest La Défense.

4 J.-C. Bailly, Le champ mimétique, Paris, Seuil, 2005.

5 As emphasized in G. Gebauer, C. Wulf, Mimésis. Culture - Art - Societé, Paris, Cerf, 2005, p. 19: “On peut difficilement imaginer que le concept ait pu être rendu plus complexe ultérieurement” (We can hardly imagine that the concept has been made more complex later).

6 Ibidem.

7 As shown by S. Halliwell in The Aesthetics of Mimesis, Ancient Texts and Modern Problems, Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 263-344. Late Hellenistic authors who have made theoretical thoughts on the issue of mimesis are, among others, Theophrastus, Philodemus, Crates of Malos, Strabo, Chrysippus, Flavius Philostratus... In short, there are on one side the thinkers of the Hellenistic philosophical schools, mainly the Stoics and Epicureans, and on the other, rhetoricians, philosophers and imperial literary critics. This could be a full investigation.

8 A. Roger, Court Traité du paysage, Paris, Gallimard, 1997.

9 Here we use deliberately the term “landscape storm” and not just the storm at sea, despite the fact that “gender” minor storm landscape can be found in painting, until the seventeenth century. This expression is borrowed from L. Marin, “The sublime classic: the ‘storm’ in some of Poussin’s landscapes”, in Lire le paysage / lire les paysages, Actes du colloque des 24 et 25 novembre 1983, Saint Etienne, Université Jean Monet (Travaux 42), p. 201-219.

10 Here it would be interesting to investigate everything that crosses both a reflection on mimesis at work during the rewriting – imitation already existed in antics –, and on changes of the type of mimesis at work as the gap or to the proximity of the referent model of imitation: mimesis here is changing as we move away from the Homeric rewritting, so as to prefer, instead of it, the rewritting of the hellenistic model which is already a way of rewritting Homer...

11 While we use it here in the somewhat astray, we owe the term to M. Desporte in an eponymous book, Paysages en mouvement, Paris, Gallimard, 1970.

12 R. Sorel, Chaos et éternité, Mythologie et philosophie grecques de l’origine, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2006.

13 There is only a narrative counterpart of Homer, but there is no link between the “mimesis” (if there is one) at work in the description of the tempest in Homer and the mimesis at work in Apollonios Rhodius, which is really singular because of its chaotic dimension. We want to thanks professor S. Halliwell for his interesting question which allows us to make this precision.

14 Quand les héros furent arrivés dans le goulet du passage tortueux, resserré des deux côtés par d’âpres écueils, comme le courant tourbillonnant déferlait sous le navire en sens inverse de sa marche, tandis que, pleins d’effroi, ils forçaient l’allure et que déjà le fracas des roches qui se heurtaient violemment frappait leurs oreilles et faisait mugir les falaises battues par les flots. The translations into French are taken from F. Vian (ed. and transl.), Quintus de Smyrne, La Suite d’Homère, Paris, CUF, 2003. The translations in English are ours.

15 Soudain, lorsqu’ils eurent doublé le dernier coude du détroit, ils aperçurent les roches qui s’ouvraient: tous les cœurs furent bouleversés.

16 Celles-ci [les roches] revenant toutes deux l’une vers l’autre, se réunirent avec fracas. Une grande gerbe d’eau bouillonnante s’éleva comme un nuage; la mer grondait terriblement et tout alentour, les espaces de l’éther retentissaient. Les grottes creuses mugissaient, quand l’eau s’y engouffraient au pied des âpres écueils, et le flot en déferlant vomissait une blanche écume jusqu’en haut des falaise.

17 It is worth noting the visual and auditive dimensions in the construction of this fear; we would however not analyze this aspect any further.

18 Hes., Theog., 115-116: ἐξ ἀρχῆς, καὶ εἴπαθ’, ὅτι πρῶτον γένετ’ αὐτῶν. / Ἤτοι μὲν πρώτιστα Χάος γένετ’. In truth, the very first time, was born Chaos [the Deep-Gapes]. (En vérité, aux tout premiers temps, naquit Chaos [l’Abîme-Béant].)

19 R. Sorel, op. cit.

20 Verses 549 to 573, then 573 to 597.

21 Verses 549-559, 560-564, 565-573 for the first part, and 575-578, 579-585, 593-597 for the second.

22 It shows the rocks in the closing verses 551-553 and it creates a first wave of turmoil that blends with the natural movement of the surf of the waves, before opening again verse 560-565, finally closing and opening again in a second time verse 574, and creating a second wave speed (about 571), which significantly amplifies the shaking and the size of the waves, and comes to reject the Argo two times farther than it would have normally made, on verses 590-592.

23 Indeed found in Homer scansions type of spondaic for phrases like ὀλοοῖο γόοιο or βαρὺ στενάχων where the long vowels and trailing mimic the shedding of tears.

24 Le navire aussitôt, comme un rondin, se mettait à courir de l’avant, dans un élan impétueux, porté par la puissante vague qui creusait la mer.

25 ἐν δ’ ἄρα μέσσαις / Πληγάσι δινήεις εἶχεν ῥόος· αἱ δ’ ἑκάτερθεν / σειόμεναι βρόμεον, πεπέδητο δὲ νήια δοῦρα. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 595-598) But, amid Plegadis, the eddies stopped him: while both sides, set off in the roaring rocks, the wood of the ship remained trapped. (Mais, au milieu des Plégades, les tourbillons du courant l’arrêtaient: tandis que, des deux côtés, les roches s’ébranlaient en mugissant, les bois de la nef restaient prisonniers.)

26 καὶ τότ’ Ἀθηναίη στιβαρῆς ἀντέσπασε πέτρης / σκαιῇ, δεξιτερῇ δὲ διαμπερὲς ὦσε φέρεσθαι. / ἡ δ’ ἰκέλη πτερόεντι μετήορος ἔσσυτ’ ὀιστῷ. / ἔμπης δ’ ἀφλάστοιο παρέθρισαν ἄκρα κόρυμβα / νωλεμὲς ἐμπλήξασαι ἐναντίαι. αὐτὰρ Ἀθήνη / Οὔλυμπόνδ’ ἀνόρουσεν, ὅτ’ ἀσκηθεῖς ὑπάλυξαν. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 598-603)

27 πέτραι δ’ εἰς ἕνα χῶρον ἐπισχεδὸν ἀλλήλῃσιν / νωλεμὲς ἐρρίζωθεν. (Ap. Rh., Arg. II, 604-605) Rocks, joined to each other at the same place, strongly took root. (Les roches, réunies l’une à l’autre au même endroit, s’enracinèrent fortement.)

28 We are approaching here the phenomenon of prose of the world (prose du monde) wich M. Foucauld talks about in Les Mots et les choses, Paris, Flammarion, 1966.

29 R. Sorel, op. cit., p. 116.

30 O Zeus, mon père! Il n’est plus permis de tolérer les forfaits que les hommes machinent contre les dieux: leurs cœurs n’ont de souci ni de ta personne ni des autres Bienheureux […], car c’est dans mon propre temple que le fils d’Oïlée m’a gravement offensée.

31 About energeia and ancient ekphrasis, please refer to the works of J.-P. Aygon and of F. Delarue (see bibliography).

32 See the works of R. Doran, The Aesthetics of the Sublime from Longinus to Nietzsche, in progress, and Literary History and the Sublime in Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis, New Literary History 38, n° 2, 2007, p. 353-369.

33 Between verses 419 and 460 which relate to the interview between Athena and Zeus followed the arms scene of the goddess before the outbreak of the hostilities.

34 εἰ μὴ ἄρά σφι / κούρη ἐριγδούποιο Διὸς νεμέσησεν Ἀθήνη; The aorist νεμέσησεν is not increased, the verb means “to be angry, indignant”, one might almost translate here by “their manifesto, and Athena his desire for revenge”.

35 Car désormais le châtiment ne poursuit plus le crime et, bien souvent, au contraire, c’est la vertu plus que le vice qui rencontre le malheur et connaît des épreuves sans fin ni trêves. Aussi tout respect de la justice a-t-il disparu et toute pudeur a-t-elle déserté les hommes.

36 This moralized vision of the world by the poet shows its proximity with the conceptions of Stoic thought. See the introductory leaflet by F. Vian in the CUF edition; and for the Stoic thought in the Hellenistic period, see the work of A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, 2 vol., Cambridge, CUP, 1987 (Les philosophes hellénistiques, Paris, Flammarion, 2001 for the french version).

37 The shape of this storm, in and by the language, if it shows an unreal object is not so far removed from his ability to tell the truth. What matters here in the eyes of Quintus Stoic thinker is to affirm that the vengeance of the gods is really to punish men for their inconsistency. And they are the more true” as Quintus does not mind using something unreal. His ethics premium was the concept of probable, truth and being content with the real force in the moral proposition that gives read this storm. About those problems, see S. Halliwell, op. cit., p. 266 sq.

38 To focus on the problem of ekphrasis in antiquity, see M. Briand (dir.), La trame et le tableau: poétiques et rhétoriques du récit et de la description dans l’Antiquité grecque et latine. Actes du colloque de Poitiers, 21-23 octobre 2010, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes (La Licorne), 2012.

39 Although Quintus must incorporate elements taken from the Homeric narrative, he rewrittes much more Apollonius of Rhodes by mimicking his sentences: 406-416 referring to Arg. I, 508-505 or 441-442 to Arg. II, 250 and finally 481 for I, 606 etc, or by taking such pictures as “waves as high as mountains”, directly from the Alexandrian text of the Argonautica in II, 561.

40 About this, see the work of M. Cantilena, “Cronologia e tecnica compositiva dei Posthomerica di Quinto Smirneo”, in F. Montanari, S. Pittaluga (ed.), Posthomerica III. Tradizione omerica dall’antichità al Rinascimento (Atti del seminario tenutosi a Genova il 27 aprile 1999), Geneva, Tilgher, 2001.

41 See the Greek text at the end of this article.

42 For more details on this type of rewriting, see the work of C. Cusset, La Muse dans la bibliothèque. Réécriture et intertextualité dans la littérature alexandrine, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 1999.

43 For more information about the world and its figure in Epic ekphrasis or in historic representations, see our articles about hellenistic Epic: Lemnos chez Apollonios de Rhodes: Ekphrasis, paysage insulaire et spatialisation, in M. Briand (dir.), op. cit. ; and From ancient geographers to the journey of the Argonauts: Ierne Island (Ireland), a landscape island between two worlds”, in M. Mianowski (dir.), Irish Contemporary Landscapes in Literature and Arts, Basingstoke, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011.

44 See P. Schubert, From the Epics to the Second Sophistic, from Hecuba to Aethra and finally from Troy to Athens: defining the position of Quintus Smyrnaeus in his Posthomerica”, in M. Baumbach, S. Bär (ed.), Quintus Smyrnaeus: Transforming Homer in Second Sophistic Epic, Berlin and New York, De Gruyter (Millennium Studies 17), 2007, p. 339-356.

45 See F. Vian, “Echoes and Imitations of Apollonius Rhodius in Late Greek Epic”, in T. Papanghelis, A. Rengakos (ed.), A Companion to Apollonius Rhodius, Leiden, Brill (Mnemosyne Suppl. 217), 2001, p. 285-308; M. Campbell, A Commentary on Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica XII, Leiden, Brill, 1981; and finally A.W. James, K.H. Lee, A Commentary on Quintus of Smyrna, Posthomerica V, Leiden, Brill, 2000.

46 Refer to the introductory leaflet by F. Vian, in the CUF edition, to the work of B. Spinoula, Animal Similes and Creativity in the Posthomerica of Quintus of Smyrna, PhD Diss. University of St. Andrews, 2000, and to the various reviews cited in the previous note.

47 B. Cassin, L’Effet sophistique, Paris, Gallimard, 1995.

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Référence électronique

Laury-Nuria André, « “Storm Landscape”: from the reality effect to the moralized mimesis. The examples of Apollonius Rhodius and Quintus of Smyrna. », Aitia [En ligne], 3 | 2013, mis en ligne le 25 novembre 2013, consulté le 30 mars 2017. URL : http://aitia.revues.org/800 ; DOI : 10.4000/aitia.800

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