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Article

Thomas Kuhn-Treichel

Philo Epicus was a Jewish-Hellenistic poet. He composed a hexametric poem on Jerusalem that featured both descriptions of the city and references to biblical events relating to the patriarchs. It is not clear whether he is to be identified with a Philo mentioned by Josephus (Ap. 1.218, with the attribute “the Elder”), Clement of Alexandria (Str. 1.141.3), and Eusebius of Caesarea (Hist. eccl. 6.13.7); while Nikolaus Walter argued for a distinction between the poet and a homonymous, otherwise unknown historian, some recent scholars seek to justify the identification.1 As to the date of his work, scholars have adduced literary, historical, and archaeological arguments to support various periods between the end of the 3rd and the first half of the 1st centuries bce.2 The only undisputable terminus ante quem for his work is the death of Alexander (11) Polyhistor (not long after 40bce), who quoted the poem in his treatise Περὶ Ἰουδαίων.

Article

Stephen Harrison

The extant Latin tradition of cento (the replication and combination of verse lines from a previous text to make a new work) largely uses the hexameter poems of Virgil, familiar to all educated Romans. The earliest extant cento proper is the 461-line tragedy Medea, usually ascribed to Hosidius Geta (200 ce), in which all the characters speak in Virgilian hexameters, and the choral lyrics consist entirely of final half-hexameters. There are eleven other pagan Virgilian centos from late antiquity, none longer than 200 lines; many are short epic narratives on mythological subjects (e.g., Mavortius’ Judgement of Paris [Iudicium Paridis]), but some are amusing parodies on trivial topics (e.g., the anonymous De alea and De panificio on dice playing and baking). The best known are the two epithalamian examples, the wittily obscene Nuptial cento (Cento nuptialis) of Ausonius, written c. 374, and the slightly less risqué Marriage-song of Fridus (Epithalamium Fridi) of Luxorius (early 6th century); Ausonius describes his technique in an important prefatory letter, classifying his cento as frivolum et nullius pretii opusculum—‘a slight work, frivolous and worthless’.

Article

Stephen J. Harrison

Petronius (1), author of the extant Satyrica (Σατυρικά), probably identical with *Petronius (2), the politician and arbiter elegantiae at the court of Nero, forced to suicide in 66 ce. Given that most scholars now agree that the Satyrica belongs stylistically and in terms of factual detail to the Neronian period (though some still hold to a later date) and that *Tacitus (1)’s account of the courtier Petronius describes a hedonistic, witty, and amoral character which would well suit the author of the Satyrica (Ann. 16.17–20), many find it economical to identify the two, but the matter is beyond conclusive proof; the occurrence of the name T. Petronius Arbiter in the MSS of the Satyrica gives no aid, since this may simply be the supplement of a later copyist who had read Tacitus.Of the Satyrica itself we seem to have fragments of books 14, 15, and 16, with book 15 practically complete, containing the Cena Trimalchionis (26.

Article

Alan H. Griffiths

Theocritus, poet from *Syracuse, early 3rd century bce (working at the *Alexandrian court in the 270s); creator of the bucolic genre, but a writer who drew inspiration from many earlier literary forms, cleverly blending them into a new amalgam which nevertheless displays constant invention and seeks variety rather than homogeneity. Thirty poems and a few fragments, together with twenty-four epigrams, are ascribed to him, several (e.g. 19, 20, 21, 23) clearly spurious and others (e.g. 25, 26) of doubtful authenticity. A scholar called Artemidorus boasts in an epigram transmitted along with the ancient scholia (which are very full and learned) that he has rounded up “the Pastoral Muses” so that “scattered once, all are now a single fold and flock”; his edition no doubt included a good deal of anonymous material in the most distinctive of the various Theocritean styles (rural sketches written in the Doric dialect; see greek language, §4) alongside the master's work, and authorship is sometimes hard to determine.

Article

carmen  

Peta G. Fowler and Don P. Fowler

Carmen, from cano (?), “something chanted,” a formulaic or structured utterance, not necessarily in verse. In early Latin the word was used especially for religious utterances such as spells and charms: the laws of the *Twelve Tables contained provisions against anyone who chanted a malum carmen, “evil spell” (Plin. HN 28.2.18). Carmen became the standard Latin term for song, and hence poem (sometimes especially lyric and related genres1), but the possibilities of danger and enchantment inherent in the broader sense continued to be relevant, and there is often play on the different senses (see e.g. Ov. Met. 7. 167).

Article

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Christian Latin poet who wrote in a variety of genres and metres. Born in northern Spain, in 348ce, he had a career in public administration before retiring to write poetry. His major works include the Liber Cathemerinon (poems keyed to the liturgy and religious calendar), Psychomachia (an allegorical epic on the battle between Virtues and Vices for the human soul), and the Liber Peristephanon (lyric poems in praise of the early martyrs of the church). Prudentius was particularly influenced by the works of Virgil and Horace, and aimed in his poetry to combine the form and language of classical Latin poetry with the message of Christianity. The most important Christian Latin poet of late antiquity, Prudentius was extremely influential throughout the Middle Ages.Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405ce) was the most important and influential Christian Latin poet of late antiquity. Called by Richard Bentley the ‘.

Article

The influence of Hellenistic Greek poetry on Roman poetry can hardly be overestimated. Latin poetry is from its beginnings based on scholarly appreciation of the literary production of the Greeks, and it was from the perspective of the literary and scholarly activity of the Hellenistic period that the Romans viewed Greek literature as a whole. The fragmentary nature of early Latin poetry means that the first stages of the *reception of Hellenistic poetry at Rome remain obscure. It is possible that *Livius Andronicus employed the work of Hellenistic commentators on Homer in translating the Odyssey and that *Naevius and *Accius knew and imitated the Argonautica of Apollonius. The Annales of *Ennius provides better evidence. When he proclaims his originality, presents himself as dicti studiosus (“a student of language”) proud of his stylistic superiority over his predecessors, and describes his poetic initiation, he has in mind *Callimachus(3)'s Aetia, although the exact nature and extent of his debt remain unclear.

Article

Helen Kaufmann

Blossius Aemilius Dracontius was one of the most remarkable Latin poets in Vandal North Africa. He lived in Carthage around 500 ce, and combined poetry with a career in law. His major Christian work De laudibus dei (‘Praises of God’) combines biblical narrative with exegesis, doctrine, and autobiography. He also wrote a ‘Plea’ (Satisfactio) to the Vandal king Gunthamund, who had imprisoned him, as well as four short mythological epics (on Hylas, Helen, Medea, and Orestes respectively), two epithalamia, two prefaces, three rhetorical pieces, two epigrams, and two now lost panegyrics. Dracontius’ work stands out for its originality in combining sources, for its creative use of literary forms and rhetoric, and for its character descriptions.Blossius Aemilius Dracontius lived in Carthage around 500ce. Only one event in his life, his imprisonment under Gunthamund, can be dated approximately: the Vandal king ruled from 484 to 496.1 Dracontius’ tripartite name, as well as inscriptional evidence for a (different) Dracontius and further Blossii in North Africa, suggests a North African Roman origin; the title .

Article

A. Sens

The Batrachomyomachia (BM), the “Battle of Frogs and Mice,” is a mock epic poem of slightly more than 300 dactylic hexameter verses, broadly imitating the language and style of Homer. The poem was widely read as a school text in the Byzantine period. As transmitted in the manuscripts, it contains a number of interpolated verses, and the generally problematic character of the textual tradition complicates the assessment of a number of passages. The work has been variously dated, but it is more likely to be the work of the late Hellenistic period than of the early Classical age, since it contains what appear to be allusions to Moschus’s Europa and Callimachus’s Aetia, and its language shows the influence of Latin. References to the poem in the preface to the Silvae of Statius (1 pr.) and in an epigram of Martial (14.183) provide a terminus ante quem in the last decades of the 1st century ce.

Article

Emily Kneebone

A poet from Apamea in Syria (see Cyn. 2.127), author of the Cynegetica, a Greek didactic poem on hunting in four books (2,144 hexameter verses). The author’s name is lost, and nothing is known of him beyond the information provided in the poem, which was frequently transmitted in manuscripts together with Oppian’s Halieutica and was attributed to the same poet until the 18th century, along with a now-lost Ixeutica (a poem on bird-catching, possibly in two books). The Suda and the Byzantine Vitae attached to the manuscripts conflate the poets. The Cynegetica models itself on the Halieutica in many respects, but was clearly composed by a different author: the two poems refer to different homelands (the author of the Halieutica is from Cilicia), were written at different times (the Halieutica between 177 and 180 ce), and are stylistically distinct. The Cynegetica is addressed to the Roman emperor Caracalla, and is likely to have been composed between 212 and 217 ce, after the deaths of Septimius Severus and Geta in 211.

Article

S. Halliwell

The engagement of philosophers with poetry was a recurrent and vital feature of the intellectual culture of Graeco-Roman antiquity. By around 380 bce, *Plato (1) could already refer to “a long-standing quarrel between philosophy and poetry” ( Resp. 10.607b). Early Greek philosophy, while closely related to poetry (*Xenophanes, *Parmenides, and *Empedocles wrote in verse), set itself to contest and rival the claims of “wisdom,” sophia, made by and on behalf of poets. Xenophanes, repudiating anthropomorphic religion, cast ethical and theological aspersions on the myths of *Homer and *Hesiod (DK 21 B 11–12); Heraclitus expressed caustic doubts about the idea of poets as possessors of deep understanding (DK 22 B 40, 42, 56–57); Democritus, by contrast, despite his materialist physics, seems to have believed in poetic inspiration (DK B 17–18, 21). Philosophy and poetry could be considered competing sources of knowledge and insight. The stage was set for lasting debates about their relationship.

Article

Sebastian Matzner

The term metonymy denotes a literary trope, that is, a specific form of defamiliarized expression, which indirectly refers to what is at issue. Metonymy achieves this by way of exploiting an already existing association between the term (or terms) used metonymically—the metonym—and the term (or terms) implicitly at issue. Metonymy thus differs from metaphor, among other things, in that it does not invoke an underlying analogy or similarity between what is said and what is at issue. In both ancient and modern criticism, metaphor received significantly more attention than metonymy (partly owed to the fact that the poetic effects of metaphor tend to eclipse those of metonymy, partly because of the stronger appeal of the logical dimension at the heart of metaphor). As a result, metonymy—though widely used—is often ill-defined as a critical concept. Today, it features in literary-aesthetic, diachronic-etymological, (post-)structuralist, and cognitive criticism. Ancient literature, both Greek and Latin, is rich in metonymic usages, albeit with varying degrees of poetic intensity; the pattern is one of relatively few intense outcomes, and relatively many less intense ones. Prominent among the general literary-aesthetic effects of metonymy’s semantic shifts are the creation of a poignantly condensed impression of what is at issue; a change in focalization by zooming out onto a higher plane or zooming in on newly foregrounded micro-level aspects; and movement between the concrete-material and the abstract-conceptual dimensions of what is at issue.

Article

Terentius Varro Atacinus, Publius, a poet born in the Atax (Aude) valley in Gallia Narbonensis or at *Narbo itself in 82 bce. Nothing is known of his life except that he learned Greek at the age of thirty-five (Jerome, Chronicle ). The first of his poems was no doubt his Bellum Sequanicum , an historical epic on Caesar's campaign of 58 bce. After he made the acquaintance of Greek literature, he translated *Apollonius (1) Rhodius under the title Argonautae , wrote amatory verse addressed to a “Leucadia” (Prop. 2.34.85; Ov. Tr. 2.439), a name chosen, like “Lesbia,” to recall *Sappho (if this was in elegiacs it was his only work not in hexameters), and composed two didactic works, Chorographia (which seems to show knowledge of Alexander of Ephesus) and Ephemeris (the title is an emendation), a poem on weather forecasting in which he used *Aratus (1) (his version influenced Virgil's treatment of the same topic in G.

Article

Sigrid Schottenius Cullhed

Faltonia Betitia Proba (fl. late 4th century) was a Roman poet, writer of a Christian cento (Lat. for patchwork), which circulated in the Eastern and Western Empire toward the end of the 4th century. The work consists of 694 verses culled from Virgil’s Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid, narrating episodes from Genesis, Exodus, and the four Gospels. The narrative sections are interspersed with proems, interludes, and epilogues pervaded by a confessional and devotional theme. The declared intention of the poet is to relate the “mysteries of Virgil” (arcana . . . vatis, v.12) and to show that Virgil “sang about the pious feats of Christ” (Vergilium cecinisse . . . pia munera Christi v. 23). This makes Proba one of the first Roman poets to have actively appropriated Virgil as a Christian prophet.There are over a hundred manuscripts containing Proba’s cento, the oldest of which date back to the 8th century, and a large number of early modern editions. Thanks to Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris (1374), Proba became important in the querelle des femmes as an example of an educated woman.

Article

Joop van Waarden

Sidonius Apollinaris, c. 430–c. 485 ce, Gallo-Roman aristocrat, poet and letter writer, civil servant, and bishop, is one of the most distinct voices to survive from Late Antiquity as an eyewitness of the end of Roman power in the West. Born in Lyon to a family of high-ranking Gallo-Roman administrators, he became a leading resident of the Auvergne through his marriage. In the 450s and 460s, he delivered poetic panegyrics to three emperors: his father-in-law Avitus, Majorian, and Anthemius, voicing Gallic, and especially Auvergnat, interests. His other poetic output consists of occasional verse, celebrating moments of high-profile aristocratic, and Christian life. He put out a carefully crafted collection of his selected letters in nine books against the foil of his personal and contemporary history, including significant elements like his early career, culminating in the urban prefecture in Rome (468/469), lettered leisure in the company of sophisticated friends on Gallic estates, and the turning of the scales that made him into bishop of his hometown Clermont, in vain opposing the onset of the Visigoths and having to put up with the final withdrawal of Roman authority from Gaul (475/476). After a period of exile, he was reinstated as bishop under Visigothic sovereignty. His career is typical for the kind of aristocratic bishop that emerged in Gaul as imperial career opportunities vanished, social distinction being transferred to office holding in the Church, and a distinguished ascetic lifestyle.

Article

Richard Hunter

Apollonius (1) Rhodius, a major literary figure of 3rd-century bce*Alexandria (1), and poet of the Argonautica, the only extant Greek hexameter *epic written between *Homer and the Roman imperial period.Our main sources are: POxy. 1241, a 2nd-cent. ce list of the librarians of the Royal Library at *Alexandria; two Lives transmitted with the manuscripts of Argonautica which probably contain material deriving from the late 1st century bce; and an entry in the Suda. All four state that Apollonius was from Alexandria itself, though two 2nd-century ce notices point rather to *Naucratis. The most likely explanation for the title “Rhodian” is thus that Apollonius spent a period of his life there, which would accord well with what we know of his works, though it remains possible that he or his family came from *Rhodes. Apollonius served as librarian and royal tutor before .

Article

Oppian  

Emily Kneebone

Oppian: author of a five-book Greek didactic poem on fish and fishing at sea, composed around 177–180 ce and addressed to the emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus. The first two books of the poem deal with the habits and habitats of marine species; the last three deal with methods for their capture. The poem, which contains a wealth of material on fish and fishing, is notable for its extended epic similes and representation of the affinities between human and non-human animals.A poet from Cilicia (see Hal. 3.7–8, 205–209), author of the Halieutica, a Greek didactic poem in five books (3,506 hexameter verses) on fish and fishing at sea. The poem is addressed to the emperor “Antoninus” and his son, and mentions their current period of co-regency (2.682–683); this is usually understood to refer to Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus, which dates the poem to .

Article

Laurel Fulkerson

Sulpicia (1), daughter or perhaps granddaughter of Servius Sulpicius Rufus, niece and ward of M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus. Her six short elegies, 3.13–18 (= 4.7–12) in the Tibullan collection (see tibullus, albius), are probably the only extant poems by a Roman woman in the Classical era (see Sulpicia II for another potential example). They record her love affair with a young man whom she calls by the Greek pseudonym Cerinthus. Her poems are fairly explicit about her desires—more explicit than most other elegiac poems—and she firmly assumes the “male” subject position, implicitly feminizing Cerinthus. Even if the affair was a prelude to marriage, as some think (connecting Cerinthus, via a bilingual pun, to the Cornutus of Tib. 2.2 and 2.3), the public display of sexual independence on the part of an unmarried female aristocrat runs counter to conventional morality. The disjunction between author and material is so unusual, in fact, that some believe “Sulpicia” to be a pseudonym for one or more male authors of the Augustan period exploring a female viewpoint along the lines of Catullus or Ovid in the Heroides, or they even posit that she is a much later invention.

Article

Aratus is said to have studied philosophy in Athens, probably coming into contact with Zeno, founder of the Stoic school; subsequently, in 276 bce, he arrived at the court of Antigonus (2) ‘Gonatas’ of Macedon. Little can be independently proven, since the extant lives probably all derive from a single Hellenistic commentator.1Aratus ranks among the finest Hellenistic poets, beside Callimachus (3) and Apollonius (1) Rhodius. He wrote many other works, most of which are lost.2 His sole surviving poem, the Phaenomena, which comprises more than a thousand lines in epic hexameters, describes the positions and motions of the constellations and teaches the reader how to recognize signs of impending weather on earth. The Phaenomena is written in an idealized version of the Archaic language of Homer and Hesiod, and contains mythological material in the form of aitia for some constellations.3 It falls into two parts, the ‘.

Article

Hesiod  

Jenny Strauss Clay

Hesiod, epic poet from Ascra in Boeotia, usually considered later than Homer, is author of the Theogony and the Works and Days (Erga); other works attributed to him in antiquity include the Catalogue of Women and the Shield of Heracles (Aspis). The Theogony recounts the origins of the cosmos and the genealogy of the gods from the beginning to the establishment of the Olympian order; it is prefaced by a lengthy proem that recounts Hesiod’s meeting with the Muses and a hymn to the goddesses. The genealogical catalogues are interrupted by narratives of the Succession Myth, with antecedents from the Near East. The Works and Days, which also has Near Eastern parallels, is addressed to Hesiod’s brother Perses and advises him how to live in the world Zeus has established for human beings by pursuing justice and practicing agriculture; it also includes advice on sailing, social behavior, and lucky and unlucky days. Famous and influential passages include Hesiod’s encounter with the Muses, the Prometheus-Pandora story, and the Myth of the Five Races.