Apollonius Rhodius and the Traditions of Latin Epic Poetry

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Apollonius Rhodius and the Traditions of Latin Epic Poetry

NELIS, Damien Patrick

NELIS, Damien Patrick. Apollonius Rhodius and the Traditions of Latin Epic Poetry. In: Harder, M.-A. Apollonius Rhodius . Leuven : Peeters, 2000. p. 85-103

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The most obvious way of responding to any expectations raised by my title would be to attempt to identify and measure Apollonian influence on all the surviving Latin epic poems from Livius Andronicus to, say, Claudian. To the best of my knowledge, this has never been done. There exist studies of Vergil and Apollonius, and of Valerius Flaccus and Apollonius, but, understandably, no systematic treatment of the whole topic seems to have been attempted. 'Silius ltalicus and Apollonius Rhodius' is, admittedly, not a title to set hearts racing, but the reception of the Argonautica is a topic that deserves to be studied more seriously than it has been hitherto. Obviously, in a brief paper I can do no more than provide a survey of one aspect of a huge topic, but I hope it will become clear that given the current vitality of Apollonian studies the time is propitious for work on Apollonius' Nachleben in general, and on readings of the Argonautica by Latin epic poets in particular2

A full-scale treatment of this topic would, of course, need to begin with discussion of the whole question of the reception of Hellenistic poetry and scholarship in Rome. Focusing on one small part of this vast canvas, one could begin by pointing to the long-running debate among Latinists concerning Livius Andronicus' use of Hellenistic scholarship and poetic technique in his Odusia. "Hellenistische Ziige tragt auch das Odysseeverstandnis unseres Autors", says Michael von Albrecht (19942: 1.94), and again(: 95), "Andemorts versucht er 'Fehler' zu ver- meiden, welche die gelehrte Homerkritik beanstandet hatte". Finally, he

1. I would like to thank the participants at the workshop for their questions and criti- cisms; for help of various kinds special thanks are due to Nancy Andrews, Lucienne Deschamps, Annette Harder, Philip Hardie, Stephen Harrison, Richard Hunter, Richard Thomas and Tony Woodman.

2. See E. Bowie (this volume). I am currently working on a book provisionally enti- tled ARGONAUT/CA: studies in Apollonius Rhodius and his influence, due to appear some time in the course of the next millennium. For recent studies of different aspects of the myth see, for example, Arcellaschi (1990), Drager (1993), Braund (1994: eh. 1), Moreau (1994), Clauss and Johnson (1997). In the forthcoming Companion to Apollonius Rhodius, I will discuss Apollonius' influence on Vergil's whole oeuvre, while J.K. New- man (see already Newman (1986: eh. 3]) and F. Vian will deal with Apollonius' recep- tion in Latin (minus Vergil) and Greek literature respectively.


86 D.P. NEL1S

concludes (: 96). 'Liviu Andronicu i Lein helleni tischer poeta doc-

rus". According to this view, Liviu fits perfectly into the tradition of

Homeric cholar hip mo t recently tudied by A. Rengako (1994) in relation to Apolloniu 3• Sander Goldberg (1995: 48) argues however

that '[t]hi [i.e. the presentation of Livius as a Helleni tic poe1a docrus]

i an appealing but ultimately unconvincing notion' . Goldberg prefer to date the origin of erious literary analy i at Rome to the mid- econd century. Most recently Stephen Hinds, in discu ing what Ale andro Barchie i has termed plot of Hellenization', write (1998: 52-3), ·'Yet Roman literature i thoroughly Helleni2ed from the earliest period of writing to which we have access. How often, and in what ways, can Greek literature come with the force of a revelation into a literary culture which is always already po t-Hellenic?" Some scholars4, therefore, can see in Naevius' Bel/um Punicum a complex attempt to imitate and com- bine elements from both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and to include a kti- sis in a hi torical epic in order to relate past and present by an aetiolog- ical combination of mythical and h. torical narrative in the Alexandrian manner. Again, however, Goldberg concludes (1998: 56) "Efforts to turn Andronicus and Naevius into poets with Alexandrian sen ibilities misconstrue the intellectual climate of their time". What is 'Alexan- drian' is of course often defined with reference to Callimachus, but Apollonius certainly merit far greater attention than he has received in this debate, e pedally now that belief in the biographical tradition which depicted Callimachus and Apollonius as enemies in a literary feud over the obsolescence of epic no longer vitiate interpretation of the Ar- gonautica. Furthermore, and more importantly, Cameron's work on large- scale HeUeni tic historical epic (he demonstrates [1995: eh. 10] contra Ziegler that there wa very little of it for Naevius to read) and re earch into the hi torical aspects of mythological epic mu t lead to a reas ess- ment of how Apolloniu ' Ptolernaic Argonaurica is likely to have been read by the fir t writer of Roman hi torical epic5

The next stage of this hypothetical project on the reception of Apollo- niu would have to be the attempt to track down pecifically Apollonian elements in the works of Livius Andronicus, Naevius and Ennius. The fragmentary nature of the evidence obviously makes this an impossible 3. er. Traina (1989: 9-): ··ii primo di essi traduce un' Odissea fomii.a di scolii - et interpreta Omero con un impegoo filologico non troppo lon!allO da quello che traluce dalle o-losse omeriche di Callimaco, Arato. Apollonio''.

4. "E.g. Mariotti (19-2 = 19 61). Cf. Conte (1994: 45).

5. ee-Hunter (1993b: eh. 6; 1996) and S. Stephens (lhi volume). There is relevant background material in recent work by Dougherty ( 1993). Calame ( 1996). Hartog ( 1996).

Malkin (1998), Ballabriga (1998).


task. But some glimmerings are visible. There are well known similari- ties between Ilia's dream and that of Medea (cf. Ennius, Ann. 34-50 (Skutsch) and A.R. 3.616-34)6. It has been suggested that Naevius fr. 7 (Strzelecki), novam ... rem Naevius hello Punico dicit, unam navem habuisse Aeneam, quam M ercurius fecerit, should make one think of the Argo: "Ein einziges Schiff, ein gottlicher Baumeister: jeder Zeitgenosse musste empfinden, <lass Naevius hier das Grosse Wagnis des Aeneas in engster Parallele zu dem Zug der Argonauten sah"7. Admittedly, Apol- lonius need not be a direct source in this case, but further parallels have been noted. Fr. 4 (Strzelecki), the remains of an ecphrasis of something, perhaps a shield, can be compared with Apollonius' description of Jason's cloak at A.R. 1.730, 735 and 759-628. And if Naevius did bring Aeneas and Dido into contact, Apollonius' Hypsipyle may have been a model for the Carthaginian queen9. As for Livius Andronicus, the paucity of what remains of his Odusia must deter from speculation even the most determined hunter of Apollonian influence. Of course, if one believes that Livius can indeed be seen as a Hellenistic poeta doctus, it is an easy step to take to conjecture that he may have made some use of the large amount of Odyssean material in the fourth book of the Ar- gonautica in particular, and to suggest that Apollonius' description of the Argonauts sailing southwards along the western coast of Italy may have been an attractive model for adaptation in a Latin Odyssey10. At a later date, and in possession of a complete poetic text, one is of course on much firmer ground; it is obvious, although perhaps not often enough taken into account, that Apollonian influence on Catullus 64 is pervasive and profound 11It is noteworthy too that Apollonius should have had such an influence on the poem usually thought of as the classic example of a Latin epyllion just a few years before the Argonautica was trans- lated into Latin by Varro Atacinus12.

. _6. _See Bongi (1946), Skutsch (1985: 194, cf. 201 and 684 for other possible Ennian 1m1tat10ns of Apollonius), Krevans (1993), Perutelli (1994).

7. Buchner (1957: 20); cf. Buchheit (1963: 28). For full discussion see Haussler (1976: 99-101).

8. See Fraenkel (1964 vol. 2: 25-32); Haussler (1976: 101).

9. Again, see Haussler (1976: 101-6) for discussion.

10. Does fr. 24 (Bliinsdorf), the arrival at the aedis ... Circai (located in Italy?) invert A.R. 4.752, the departure from the Italian domata Kirkes?

11. See Avallone (1953) for the most complete collection of parallels, and the discus- sion and bibliography of Clare (1996).

12. On his Argonautae see the commentary of Courtney (1994: 238-43). It is note- worthy also that a poet whose Clwrographia led to his being compared to Empedocles (Qumhhan l.~.4: propter_Empedodea i11 Graecis, Varronem ac Lucretium in Latinis, qui praecepta sapzentzae verszbus tradiderunt; cf. Velleius Paterculus 2.36.2, Lactantius Inst.



Ideally this tudy of Apollonian influence on Republican Latin poetry would also embrace Apollonian influence on early Latin drama. A.

Arcella chi (1990)13 would provide an excellent model for this part of the enquiry. Accius in particular seems to have read Apolloniu care- fully. Auchor of a play entitled either Medea or The Argonauts14 he also imitated Apollo11ius in a particularly triking fragment of another play devoted to the A:rgonautic aga. Compare hi Phinidae fr. 2 (Dangel):

simul et circum stagna tonantibus excita saxis saeva sonando crepitu clangente cachinnant.

with Argonautica 4.943-4:

<iµ(j)i OE Kuµa la~pov <1Etp6µi;vov 7tE,patc; tmKaxlasrn"KEV

Note especially the reference to emKaX,11,al;raxev in cachinnant.

But returning to epic and tracking on from Varro's translation appar- ently the first mythological'15 epic in Latin, po ible Apollonian influ- ence on Lucretiu would need to be taken into account but on this topic more later. On Apollonius and Vergil recent work by among other , Wendell Clau en, Richard Hunter and my elf ha helped to reveal the quite enonnou influence exercised by the Argonazaica on the Aeneid16 Vergil's debt to Apolloniu mark both the high point of Apollonian influence on Latin poetry and a new tarting point, ince Vergil' epic ucces or will be unable to read the Argonaucica without taking into account Vergil' s massive imitation of it in the Aeneid.

Div. 2.12.4 and see Scheib [1908: 92-100], Deschamps [1986: 65-6], Counney (1993:

237) on the identity of thL,; Varro [Atacinus for Scheib and Courmey, Reatinus for Deschamps]) should have tran lated Apollonius· Argonawica, a poem which, as we shall see. i heavily indebted to Empedocles (and has imponant similarities with Lucretius ORN). Furthermore, ii is worth grouping together Varro A1acinus' Chorographia. hi cran lation of Apolloniu. (he also ·rran lated' AratuS), Sallu tius· Empedoclea and Lucretius' Empedoclean ORN (see Hardie (1995: 207 n.21), Sedley ll998: eh.I]), plu evident Empedoc!ean influence on Varro Reatinu (see Deschamp 1986) to show that there was great interest in Empedocles in the late Republic (cf. Hardie (1995: 214 n.48).

The wider context for thi interest i obviously thal of Pythagoreanism (on which ee Rawson [1985: 351 s.v. Pythagora J: interesting material also in Sauron [19941, Kingsley [1995: 421 s.v. Pythagora ], O'Brien [19971). On Ernpedocles and Pythagoras see also Hardie (1995: 204-6): on Pythagora . Callimachus, Ennius and Ovid see Knox (1986: eh.


13. Note al o Hinds (1993).

14. See Dangel (1995: 200-6, 347-52); cf. Jocelyn (1967) on Medea Exul and Medea.

15. For the possible relevance of the myth to the contemporary political climate see Arcellaschi (1990: 212-9), Braund (1993).

16. Clausen (1987), Hunter (1993b: eh. 7), Nelis (1999). A further study of the Apol- lonian in the Aeneid is being prepared by Charles Beye.


From the first line of his epic to the last Vergil creates a complex pat- tern of allusion as he reads Apollonius with close attention to his Homeric imitations, and reads Homer with a constant eye on Apollo- nius' use of the Iliad and Odyssey. Throughout his epic, Vergil's use of the Iliad and the Odyssey is inextricably related to his imitation of the Argonautica, and the Homeric-Apollonian intertext provides the foun- dation on which the Aeneid is built. The Aeneid can indeed be read as a six-book Odyssey followed by a six-book Iliad, or alternatively, its 12 books may usefully be seen as an Odyssey (Penelope and the suitors become Lavinia and Turnus) with Iliadic elements. But it may also be seen as an Argonautica in which Aeneas' voyage from Troy via Carthaginian Dido back to his original homeland in Latium (antiquam exquirite matrem, Aen. 3.96) is a nostos which reworks not only Odysseus' return to Ithaca, but also Jason's journey, his nostos, from Greece out to Colchis and Medea, and from there back to Greece.

Equally, Aeneas' journey to a Latium in which be encounters Latinus and Lavinia in his quest to found a city reworks Jason's encounter with Colchian Aeetes and Medea during his search for the Golden Fleece. In a meaningful way, therefore, Rome as the telos of Aeneas' mission cor- responds to the Golden Fleece of the Argonautic saga, a correspon- dence Vergil invites his readers to establish by describing the most vivid depiction of Rome and it's history in the epic, the shield of Aeneas, in such a way as to recall clearly Apollonius' description of the Fleece (cf. esp. Aen. 8.622-3 and A.R. 4.125-6).

Once the outline of the relationship between the Aeneid and the Ar- gonautica is drawn in this way, further patterns of correspondence between the two poems become immediately obvious. If the Trojan voy- age to Latium and the Tiber reworks the Argonautic journey to Colchian Phasis, then the whole of Aeneid 1-7.36 corresponds to the whole of Argonautica books 1-2. Aeneid 7.37-12.952 (Nunc age, qui reges, Erato ... to the end) must, therefore, be in some way related to the second half of the Argonautica, which begins of course with El.


aye vuv, 'Epacm, .... It turns out that Vergil consistently links Latium and Colchis and models Aeneas' struggle with Turnus on that between Jason and Aeetes and that when Aeneas kills Turnus at the end of the Aeneid his actio~

corresponds to Jason's defeat of the fire-breathing bulls and Earthborn men at the close of Argonautica 3. Both heroes, associated at various key stages with the Olympian powers, thus finally succeed in destroying the chthonic forces which oppose them. Jason wins the Golden Fleece and Aeneas is able to build his new city, the act which will lead on to the foundation of Rome, a city whose history will culminate in victory at



Actium and the subsequent triumph in Rome of Augustus, the events which dominate the centre of Aeneas' golden (Aen. 8.624) shield17.

Sailing on past the Aeneid, the obvious next step on the quest for traces of Apollonius in Latin epic would be to demonstrate how Vergil's epic successors interpret the Vergilian-Apollonian intertext. To some extent, of course, this has already been done in the case of Valerius Flaccus, although I know of no full and systematic treatment of the way in which the Latin Argonautica reads the Aeneid as an Apollonian epic. Ovid, Lucan, Statius and Silius would also have to be taken on board. This would obviously be a truly massive task. But a brief look at Ovid's Metamorphoses, Vergil's most immediate successor, will help to reveal some aspects of one poet's reading of the place of the Argonautica in the epic tradition.

Philip Hardie has recently devoted two detailed and typically impres- sive studies (1995; 1997) to the much-discussed speech of Pythagoras in the fifteenth book of the Metamorphoses. He concludes that Ovid sketches a view of the Latin epic tradition which gives a key position to Empedocles as a key literary ancestor of Ennius, Lucretius, Vergil and himself. While admitting that with Ovid "we should not expect such a literary history to be anything but tendentious and partial", Hardie (1995: 212) demonstrates that Latin epic poetry can in a meaningful and useful way be read as 'Empedoclean epos'. There is, I believe, much to be said for this idea; but what is Empedoclean epos?

Hardie draws attention to an extensive series of parallels between Ovid and Empedocles both in the speech of Pythagoras in book 15 and in the cosmogony which opens the first book of the Metamorphoses, arguing that Ovid thus creates an Empedoclean ring-structure embracing his whole epic. He goes on to point out that many of these parallels are couched in heavily Lucretian language and explains this fact by empha- sizing the profound influence exercised by Empedocles on the De Rerum Natura18 • Ovid is thus involved in a complex process of 'double' or 'two-tier' allusion or 'window reference' involving simultaneously both his Latin model Lucretius and Lucretius' Greek model Empedocles.

From the Empedoclean in Ovid and Lucretius Hardie looks back to Ennius. The fragmentary state of the Annales makes it difficult to assess the nature and extent of Empedoclean influence on Ennius, but that there was direct and important influence has been clear for a long time. For example, Eduard Norden (1916: 10-8) demonstrated that the demonic Discordia who opens the Janus Geminus in Annales 7 is a Latin version

17. For fuller discussion see Nelis (1999: chs. 7 and 8).

18. On which see now Sedley (1998: eh. 1, 201-1). For criticism of Hardie see Galin- sky (1998).


of Empedocles' Neikos. Ettore Bignone (1929: 10-1 [= 1938: 327-8];

cf.19462: 317) used this correspondence to argue for wider Empedo- clean influence by suggesting that this particular transition from peace to war in Roman history will have been connected by Ennius with the cyclic interaction of cosmic Love and Strife. Furthermore, Bignone had already shown in 191619 how Ennius' dream of Homer in Annales l is directly and pervasively indebted to Empedocles' account of the trans- migration of souls. Hardie's arguments lend Bignone's reconstruction of an 'Ennius Empedocleus' strong support20

Finally, Hardie turns his attention to Vergil. He points out that the Ennian dream of Homer in Annales I is an important model for the speech of Anchises in Aeneid 6. Aeneas there hears from his father an explanation of the nature of the universe and of the theory of the trans- migration of souls, followed by a preview of Roman history .. He hears in fact something very like a summary of the Annales, with Anchises func- tioning as a figure of both Empedocles and Ennius. This section of the Aeneid is in turn imitated in the Ovidian speech of Pythagoras, thus bringing us back once again to Metamorphoses 15.

My skimpy account does little justice to the force of Hardie's demon- stration that Ovid characterized the tradition of Latin epic poetry as Empedoclean epos. But what has all this to do with Apollonius? In order to answer this question I would like to turn attention not to the Ar- gonautica in isolation, but to Vergil, Apollonius and Empedocles. The key texts are the songs of Iopas and Orpheus in Aeneid I and Argonau- tica l respectively21.

The simple fact that lopas' performance in Dido's palace at Aeneid 1.742-6 is about cosmology at all has been shown by a number of schol- ars to reveal Vergil's awareness of the fact that the song of Demodocus about Ares and Aphrodite, performed in Alcinous' palace at Odyssey 8.266-366, was read by the allegorists in terms of the Empedoclean the- ory of Love (Aphrodite) and Strife (Ares)22 . In addition, the cosmogony of Apollonius' Orpheus at Argonautica 1.496-511 is itself a direct imi- tation of the Homeric song of Demodocus23. That is to say that Apollo-

19. Cf. (19462: 313-6).

20. For full discussion see also Hiiussler (1976: 151-69). See also Courtney (1993:

30-6) on the Epicharmus.

21. On Iopas and Orpheus see Nelis (1999: eh. 3 section viii). Hardie (1995: 207) draws attention to Empedoclean influence on ApoHonius.

22. See esp. Knauer (1964: 168 n.2) and Farrell (1991: eh. 6). Empedocles himself of course imposes allegorical sense on Odyssey 8 when he calls Love and Strife Aphrodite and Ares respectively; see Farrell (1991: 308), Sedley (1998:· 27 n.98).

23. See Feeney (1991: 67), Nelis (1992: 158), Hunter (1993b: 176-7).



nius already had been influenced by the allegorical reacting of the Odyssean ong about Ares and Aphrodite, and that when Orpheus ings of how 'terrible strife (veiKeoc; £~ 6?,ooio, A.R. 1.498) separated earth heaven and sea he has in mind the specifically Empedoclean interpreta- tion of the Homeric passage. Vergil is, therefore, drawing on allegorical readings of Homer as already exploited . by Apollonius. The tradition thus runs not from Homer via Empedocles and the allegorists to Vergil, but rather from Homer to Vergil via Empedocles, the allegorists and Apollonius Rhodius. But this list by no mean exhau the allusive pro- gramme of Iopa ' song. In addition, allu ion to Enniu Lucretiu and Vergil' own Eclogues and Georgics contributes to characterizing this ong of creation as a pecifically Empedoclean co mogony, and present- ing Empedocle as the linchpin not only of thi whole network of allu- ion but of the conception of the epic tradition it eems to propo e24.

That said, the question 'What is Empedoclean epos?' remains unan- swered.

Here is an example of how appreciation of the Empedoclean and Apollonian background to the song of Iopas affects interpretation of the Vergilian text:

Orpheu ong i closely tied to its context: the Empedoclean ~eikos th~e clearly refers to the di pule between ldmon and Idas which has JUSL

occurred .... Iopas' song, on the other hand ... eem remote from the poetic concerns around it. but the very clear aJlu ion to Idas (cf. A.R.

l.472-4) .in the account of Bitias' greedy drinking (Aen. l.738-9) ugge ts that the Apollonian context i important in the Aeneid al o. In Virgil nar- rative rather than lopas· song, Dido is falling .in love, but it is a love which will lead to 'deadly strife" both between Dido and Aeneas and eventually between Carthage and Rome. The memory of Orpheu song reinforces the pathos of infelix (v. 749) in fore hadowing the 'separation' :v~c_h lies ahead· in as much as Dido and Aeneas repre ent two world , this I in one ense a truly cosmic separation. which one day wiU lead to Lhe creation of a new Roman order25

Compare the following:

It may well be that these close, and ultimately homeric, association between marriage and concord explain Virgil's ready and heavy depen- dence on love and marriage. For it is in thi way above all that the non- marriage of Aenea to Dido and hi · ub equent real marriage with Lavinia could convey to Virgil' Augustan audience the pole of discord and con- cord around which the Aeneid moves26.

24. See Nelis (1999: eh. 3 section viii).

25. Hunter (1993b: 177).

26. Cairns (1989: 107).


The terms concord and discord here could be replaced by Empedoclean Love and Strife; not only would the argument still stand, it would actu- ally be reinforced by the change.

The way in which the song of Iopas offers an Empedoclean frame of reference within which to read the Aeneid is a result of Vergil's clear appreciation of the prescriptive and programmatic functions of the song of Orpheus in the Argonautica as a Whole. Placed immediately before the departure of Argo, Orpheus' cosmogony gives an explicitly Empe- doclean colour to numerous aspects of Apollonius' text. For example, the handling of a recurrent theme in the poem, the contrast drawn between physical force, ~tl], and cunning intelligence, 86Aoi; and µ1\ni;, closely associated with Medea and Epcoi;, as alternative ways of winning the Golden Fleece takes on a strongly Empedoclean aspect because of the way in which Orpheus' song restores peace and harmony among the Argonauts following the quarrel provoked by the violent Idas27Later, in book 3, Eros will be bribed by Aphrodite with a won- derful ball which is in fact an image of the cosmic sphere under the power of Empedoclean Love28. Clear Empedoclean influence resurfaces in the Circe episode of book 4 where the goddess is surrounded not by animals, as in the Odyssey, but by hybrid creatures which closely resem- ble descriptions of monstrous beings in the surviving fragments of Empedocles29. The interaction between love and strife has also been shown to underpin the presentation of both the catalogue of the Ar- gonauts and the description of Jason's cloak30. It is also operative at many other levels in the narrative. The influence of strife may manifest itself as the aggressive warrior instinct of an ldas who challenges his leader when he looks downcast, trusts his spear more than Zeus (A.R.

1.463-71) and fails to understand why his comrades should put their trust in a Colchian maiden (A.R. 3.558-63). Again, the sense of the common good which unites the Argonauts in their efforts (A.R. 1.336- 40, 4.190-205), culminating in their constructing a sanctuary to Concord ('0µ6vota) on the Isle of Thynias (A.R. 2.717-9), should also be seen as an aspect of the power of love. On the other hand, the tyrannical atti- tudes of a Pelias, an Amycus or an Aeetes are representions of the power of strife. Most obviously, perhaps, the love affair of Jason and

27. See Nelis (1992).

28. See Hunter (1989) on 135, Nelis (1992: 167 n.63); note that Campbell (1994) on 135-41 disagrees.

29. See A.R. 4.672-82 and Vian and Delage (19962: 172-3).

30. See Clauss (1993: eh. 2, 120-9), Hunter (1993b: 52-9), Kyriakou (1994: 314).

The cloak picks up on the cosmic themes of the song of Orpheus; see Hunter (1993: 52- 5) and Clauss in this volume.



Medea serves as a focal point for investigation of the power of <ptAia in this poem, but every reader of the Argonautica is aware that the tragedy of Euripides' Medea is waiting to happen, that love will turn to strife, /;;pros to l;;ptt;31 . Apollonius is keenly aware of the ambivalence and irony to be conjured up by the interaction of such forces: the leader of the Argonauts should be the man most capable to organise their han- dling of vEiKEa cruv8Ecriat; '!E (A.R. 1.340); Jason, the man chosen for this task ahead of Heracles, refuses to have Atalanta join the crew because OEtCTEV


cipyat..fot; Eptoas <ptAO'!TJ'!OS EKTJ'!t (A.R. 1.773)32.

Broadly speaking, the effect of Orpheus' song is twofold. Firstly, by going back to the creation of the universe Apollonius embraces all his- torical time in his epic and sets the voyage of Argo in the context of world history33 . Secondly, Orpheus sets the epic action as a whole against the backdrop of a specifically Empedoclean cosmos. Both points are of obvious relevance to the interpretation of the song of Iopas. As with the song of Orpheus, the placing of Iopas' performance emphasizes its prescriptive function; just as the Argonaut's song preceeds the depar- ture on the voyage, so Iopas sings just before Aeneas' narrative of the fall of Troy and the resultant voyage in search of a new home, the story of the destruction of one city and the beginning of the process leading to the construction of a new one34, a process which, given the standard cor- relation between the urbs and the orbis, and so between ktisis and cos- mogony, can itself be seen in terms of the transition from Strife to Love in the Empedoclean cycle35In both poems the epic action is set in the broadest possible temporal framework, from the creation of the universe to the here and now of the narrator's present36.

The argument that Empedocles is a key figure in V ergil' s reading of Apollonius' Argonautica is of obvious relevance to Hardie's and Ovid's reading of the Latin epic tradition as Empedoclean epos. It remains to show that Ovid is aware of the importance of Apollonius for this tradi- tion. This has in fact already been done.

Working independently of Hardie, Stephen Wheeler (1995)37 has presented the following interpretation of the opening section of Meta-

31. On which see Hunter (1993b: 123).

32. See Hunter (1993b: 59), Kyriakou (1994: 314-5).

33. See Hunter (1993b: 162-9).

34. Cf. the songs of Demodocus in Od. 8 followed by Odysseus' account of his wan- derings in Od. 9-12.

35. For the city as an image of the universe see Hardie (1986: index s.v. city).

36. See Hardie (1986: 63-6).

37. See also Knox (1986: eh. 2). On Ovid and Apollonius see also Wheeler (1999:

265 s.v. Apollonius Rhodius).


morphoses 1. Following a four-line proem, Ovid continues thus (Met.


ante mare et terras et quod tegit omnia caelum unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe

Wheeler argues that these words allude to Argonautica 1.496-8:

TJEt8Ev 8' cilc; yaia Kai oupavoc; fi8l': 8ciAacrcra, ,o rcpiv ii,' dUi]Aotcrt µifl cruvap11p6w µop<pfl, VElKEOc; s~ OAOOto 8ttKpt8Ev dµ<pic; SKacr,a·

yafo = terras, oupav6c; = caelum, 8ciA.acrcra = mare; ,o rcpiv = ante- µifl

· · . µo p<pfl


unus vultus38 '

In turn, these Apollonian lines allude to the opening of the description of the shield of Achilles at Iliad 18.483:

sv µl':v yafov i:,w~', sv 8' oupav6v, sv 81': 8ciAacrcrav

and one can also compare the description of the motions of the stars, the sun and the moon at A.R. 1.499-500 with Iliad 18.484-9. The shield is a model for the Empedoclean cosmogony of Orpheus because Apollonius is aware of the allegorists' interpretation of the shield as a cosmic alle- gory, the shield being an imago mundi, with the city at war representing Empedoclean VEtKOS, the city at peace <ptAia39. Predictably by now, as Wheeler shows in detail, Ovid is engaged in double allusion, as he alludes to Apollonius' Homeric model as well as to Apollonius. Meta- morphoses 1.5 (mare et terras et ... caelum) resembles Iliad 18.483 (yafov ... oupav6v ... 8aAacrcrav); the absent sun and moon at Met.

1.10-1 (nullus adhuc mundo praebebat lumina Titan, I nee nova crescendo reparabat cornua Phoebe) rework /l. 18.484 (11£Atov ,:' ciKa- µavm CTEATJVTJV '!e rcAiJ8oucmv); Met. 1.13-4 (nee bracchia Longo / margine terrarum porrexerat Amphitrite) rework /l. 18.607-8 (ev


e-ri8Et rc01:aµofo µtya cr8tvos 'QKwvofo / civrnya reap rcuµan1v craKEOS rc6Ka rcOtT]'!Oto). In addition, Ovid's cosmic demiurge may be seen to correspond to Homer's Hephaestus, the creator of the shield.

Finally, Wheeler points out that Ovid couches his cosmogony in the form of an ecphrasis under the direct influence of Homer's description of the shield of Achilles. Wheeler's argument thus links Homer, Empe- docles, Apollonius and Ovid in ways which correspond closely to Hardie's attempt to link Ovid and Empedocles via Ennius, Lucretius and Vergil, and my own efforts to link Empedocles, Apollonius and Vergil.

38._ One might also suggest that orbe echoes µopqrr\; Wheeler (1995: 95-6) notes also that discordia at Met. 1.9 recalls and 'corrects' vi:iKEO<; at A.R. 1.498.

39. Nelis (1992: 158); on the shield in general see Hardie (1985).



Having argued that an 'Apollonius Empedocleus' fits perfectly into Philip Hardie's Ovidian tradition of Empedoclean epos, I would like to illustrate how according Apollonius his rightful place at the heart of the epic tradition, appreciating him as the key link in the chain running from Homer, Hesiod and the Presocratic poets to Ennius, Lucretius, Vergil and Ovid40, can help elucidate one tiny bit of literary history.

Vergil's Allecto in Aeneid 7 is modelled on Eros in Argonautica 341. The latter shoots an arrow into Medea's heart and starts a fiery love for Jason. The former hurls a snake at Amata, a torch at Tumus and mad- ness at Ascanius' dogs in order to foment a raging amor Jerri (Aen.

7.461). Medea's love in Colchis is replaced by an insane desire for war in Latium; Eros is replaced by Allecto, love by discord (Aen. 7.545-55, en, perfecta tibi bello discordia tristi ... talia coniugia et talis celebrent hymenaeos). Simultaneously, however, as Eduard Norden brilliantly demonstrated (1915: 18-33), Vergil is also using Annales 7 and Ennius' Discordia; the beginning of the war in Italy thus corresponds, oddly enough, both to the awakening of Medea's passion and the outbreak of the second Punic war. This raises the possibility that Vergil saw some connection connection between Annales 7 and Argonautica 3, i.e. that he saw Ennius' Discordia as an inversion of Apollonius' Eros. I would argue that this is indeed the case, and that Empedocles is once again a key figure for any attempt to understand how the texts in question are related.

With the beginning of Argonautica 3 love comes to dominate Apollo- nius' narrative, and the poet invokes Erato to help him relate the story of the winning of the Golden Fleece42. The programmatic function of the

40. The links between heroic epic and didactic natural philosophy have of course been the focus of much of the best recent work on Latin epic; see Hardie (1986), Farrell (1991), Feeney (1991), Gale (1994), Myers (1994). On the role of Callimachus see Knox (1986), Cameron (1995: chs. 13 and 18).

41. elis (1999:


7 sections vi - viii).

42. There is a cluster of pointers to the relevance of the cycle of Love and Slrife for events at the end of Argona11tica 2 and the tart of Argorumtica 3. Some examples: the la t stopping place in the second book is the Island of Ares (2.1230); at 2.1205 Aeetes is compared to Ares; at 2.1222-4 1to1'.eµoio ... <4>1:>..onrn; at 2.1231-41 Apollonius relates the tale of Cronos and Philyra: in so doing he refers d.irectly back to Orpheus· song (cf.

2.1232-4 and 1.505-9), where Cronos overthrew Ophion by violence. ~in Kai x.spcriv;

but both his power and his affair with Philyra belong to the past, as i made clear almost immediately afterwords at A.R. 2.1246-59, when the Argonauts here the creams of Prornetheus (on which scene see K. Thiel in this volume) as he is puni hed by Zeus. As in the ong of Orpheus the shifl from Crone co Zeus can be read at least on one level as a movement from voilence to order. from nife to love. Note also 2.l 278-80 for explicit reference to the theme of ~iTJ versu; µfrnqo6Ao<;, in the word of Ancaeus, &pT] 6' ~µw svi mpicrt µT]nciacr8m /El,:' otv µe11<1zin TCEtpT]cr6µE0' Ah11:ao, / El 1:8 Kai aUoiT]


song of Orpheus in book 1 allows us to read this section of the poem in Empedoclean terms. Love will now dominate both events in Colchis and Apollonius' narration of them, in a manner comparable to the way in which in the Empedoclean cosmic cycle Love periodically takes control of the elements. That Apollonius thinks in such terms soon becomes obvious when, as already mentioned, Aphrodite bribes Eros with a ball which represents the cosmic sphere when Love is in harmonious control of the elements. And as book 3 opens, it is Erato who is asked to 'stand beside' the poet in lines which run thus:

El 8' ayi: vuv, 'Epm-ro, rcapa 8' fomcrn Kai µ01 SVlCTTC£

sv8i:v orcroc; 8<; 'Icohov dvi]yayi; KWa<; 'If]crcov MY]bdY]<; urc' spcon. CTU yap Kai Kurcp18oc; afoav sµµopi:<;, d8µf\ta<; bf: TWt<; µ£A£btjµam 8£Ay£t<;

rcap8£VlKU<;· TO) Kai TOl STCT]patOV OUVOµ' UVT]TCTUl.

rendered thus in Hunter's translation:

Come now, Erato, stand beside me and relate to me how it was that Jason brought the fleece from Colchis to Iolcus through the power of Medea's love. I invoke you because you also have been allotted a share of Kypris' power, and young girls, not yet mated, are bewitched by the cares you bring; for this reason a lovely name has been attached to you (A.R. 3.1-5).

These lines mark a development in the relationship between poet and Muse established in book 1, and the opening lines of book 4 will carry further Apollonius' exploration of this relationship. The expression 'stand beside me' here refers to Empedocles who, as commentators have noted, near the beginning of his Ilspi <l>ucrno)(; wrote (fr. 131 DK



3 Wright = fr. 10 Inwood)43:

£1, yap ScpY]µEptov f:V£KEV nvoc;, aµ~poti: Mofoa, fJµi:1:epa<; µ£AETU<; (Mi: TOl) Bta cppovti8oc; nei:tv i:uxoµevcp vuv a[Jti: rcapicrtaCTO, KaAAlOTC£lU, dµcpi 8i:ov µaKapov dya8ov Myov sµcpaivovn.

These lines are translated thus by Wright44:

If for the sake of any one of mortal men, immortal Muse, (it pleased you) that our cares came to your attention, now once more, Kalliopeia, answer a prayer, and stand by as a worthy account of the blessed gods is being unfolded.

n<; trriJ~oAo<; focrE1:at OpµiJ; see Holmberg (1998: 143-4). At the start of book 3 we soon learn that µfin<;/OOAo<;/1:pro<; will lead to success. Prometheus is relevant here also;

note Detienne and Vemant (1974: 62-3), "Hesiode et Eschyle s'accordent pour recon- naitre en Promethee ce meme type d'intelligence retorse, cette meme puissance de tromperie que Jes Grecs designent du nom de metis."

43. See Campbell (1994: 6).

44. Wright (1981: 159).



It should be noted also that Empedocles may well have opened his poem with a hymn to Apbrodite4S. In which ea e one could hazard agues that Apollonius' invocation of Erato at the tart of hi third book reflects Lhe influence of the beginning of the Ilspi (l)ucrsro 46. Apolloniu vuv .. . no.pa 8' fo'tacro certainly eem ro allude to Empedocle ' vuv .. . rca.pia-ro.cro (cf. µe1so,;µacn and µde·cac;). Another link between the proem to Argonawica 3 and the opening of Lhe Ifapi <l>6cre(I)(; and it hymn to Aphrodite may be reflected in the way in which Apolloniu link Erato not only with with Ero , but al o with Aphrodite. The Muse is connected with the former by etymological allusion, 'Epa-rro-spon-1- tmipawv, and with the latter by the attribution to the Mu e of power more u ually as ociated with the goddes 47So much for Apollonius Empedocleus'48 . We must now tum again to Empedoclean epos in Latin and to the most Empedoclean epos of them all.

At DRN 1.24, in his hymn to Venus, Lucretius asks the goddess to be his Muse, te studeo sociam scribendis versibus esse. Later at 6.92-5 he writes, tu mihi supremae praescripta ad candida calcis I currenti spatium praemonstra, callida musa I Calliove. requies hominum divumque voluptas, te duce ut insigni capiam cum laude coronam. In both case: Lucretiu has the lines of Empedocles just quoted in mind49.

To ask the Muse to 'stand beside' you and to ask her to be your 'ally' are very similar request . There is in play here a whole tradition in which po t reflect on their relation hip with their Mu e, and, as well as .Ernpedocles and Lucretiu , Sappho (who a k Aphrodite to be her cruµ- µcrxoc;, fr. 1.28), Simonides (asking her to be hi eniKoupo~ fr. 11.22), Pindar (who describe himself a the aniKoupoc; of the Mu e (0.

45. See Sedley (1989: 290; 1998: 26-7), Martin and Primavesi (1999: 112-3). 46. See Campbell (1983: 6-7: 1994: 5-6).

47. See Hunter (1989) and Campbell (1994) on 4-5. On ouvoµ· as an etymological signpo L ee Campbell (1994: 14), O'Hara (1996: 26, 75-9). Cf. al o ei 6' liy& vuv ...

orcwc; ... o.vrrra.yr. ... ufoa.v and Empedocles fr. 62 DK(= 53 Wright= 67 lnwood), viiv

6' liy& oiro>:; ... O.VTJ'fCt'/& ..• afouv: Campbell (1994) on l: note also Apolloniu

bt~patov (line 5) and Empedocles &pa,6v (line 7). Note also Campbell's remark on the possible Empedoclean origin of the opening iiye, and also of CI\ITJ7ttat, lhe last word of cbe proem. (1983: 6: 1994: on 5).

48. See in general on Apollonius and Empedocles Kyriakou (1994): see al o Bu eh (1993), Campbell (1994: 403 s.v. Empedocles), Hardie (1995: 207). The new Strnsbourg Empedocles offe~ ome interesting glimmerings; see Martin and Primavesi (1999: 287- 8 [Harpie ]. 359 s.v. Apollonios de Rhode ). I hope LO look in more detail at Empedo- clean influence on Apollonius in the study mentioned in n.2 above. Other philosophical influences are important too; see Dickie (1990); on Apolloniu and Scepticism see D.L.

Clayman (thi volume). For an example of how awarenes of allu ions to philosophical traditions can help elucidate another Hellenistic poet. Callimachus. see .Andrews (1998).

49. See Gale (1994: 68); ee al o Sedley 0989: 288-91: 1998: 23-8).


13.96-7) and says both µofoa ... rcapfoia µ01 (0. 3.4) and craµ1::pov µtv XPTJ cre nap' avopi cpD.,ep cr.aµ1::v [P. 4.1-2]) and Timotheus (ask- ing Apollo to be his trciKoopoc;, Persae 204) are all involved5o. So too, of course, is Apollonius. Argonautica 3 opens with an invocation of the Muse Erato and an echo of Empedocles, as already noted. She is asked to stand beside (reap& 8' \'.cr-racro) the poet and is presented in such a way as to assimilate her to Aphrodite (K6rcp1ooc;). Lucretius DRN l, in lines which, as already noted, follow closely Empedocles, opens with a hymn to Venus in which she is asked to be the poet's ally in composi- tion, i.e. to act as his Muse51. Since Venus alone controls nature and since without her (neque fit laetum neque amabile quicquam, te sociam studeo scribendis versibus esse, 23-4), he asks the goddess to help him compose de rerum natura (25). Apollonius asks Erato to stand beside him and to tell him how Jason brought the Golden Fleece back to Greece thanks to the love of Medea. He goes on to explain Erato 's suitability for this task; she has a share of the power of Aphrodite and so she has a lovely name (trc,;pa-rov ouvoµ')52. Further possible parallels between Apollonius and Lucretius suggest themselves.

At Argonautica 3.164-6 Eros flies from Olympus to Colchis:

Vct68t 8' aU01:a yaia (j)cpfo0wc; licrrna ,' 6:v8p&v cpaivcTO Kai rtoiaµrov iapoi {loot, lD .. 1co,a 8' a?i,a liicptcc;, a.µcpi


rt6v,oc;, 6:v' al.8tpa rtOAAOV l.6vn.

This description draws on the topos of the universal power of loves3 . That Eros is the origin of all creation is an idea that goes back of course to Hesiod's cosmic Eros54. This is exactly the tradition Lucretius is using at DRN 1.1-28. Venus 'fills with her presence' both sea and land. Her power is felt caeli subter labentia signa thus giving the tripartite divi- sion of the world, sky, earth and sea. Apollonius' Eros flies through the air (aWtpa/1, depending on which text one prefers)55 and beneath him appear land, rivers and the sea, again the same traditional tripartite divi- sion. Lucretius' Venus comes omnibus incutiens blandum per pectora amorem (19). Eros will put love into Medea's heart (urco Kpaoin, 287, 296). Lucretius goes on to introduce Mars and presents him along with 50. See ?'Hara (1_998)_. A mil~tary image may link the two tenns since rcapicr,T]µt is used of soldiers standmg side by side in battle; see LSJ s.v. B.I.2 and Campbell (1994) on I.

51. See Scheid and Svenbro (1996: 165-9) on the full implications of this idea.

52. trctjpa.ov echoes amabile; cf. Campbell (1994) on 1.

53. See Barrett (1964) on 447-50, 1272-81 cited by Hunter (1989) on 164-6 and Campbell (1994) on 159-63.

54. On whom see Calame (1996b: 201-6).

55. See Vian and Delage (19952: 152) on 166.


100 D.P. NELIS

Venus in such a way as to recall the adulterous love-making of Ares and Aphrodite of Odyssey 8. Apollonius alludes slyly to Odyssey 8's adul- tery of Aphrodite and Ares at AR. 3.36-4756. Lucretius relates Mars and Venus to human life and contemporary Roman history (1.40, ... petens placidam Romanis, incluta, pacem); the cosmic forces are reflected in human experience. The same is true of Argonautica 3 where, against the background of cosmic Eros, erotic passion will invade Medea and come to dominate her existence and the narrative, just as in Empedoclean terms Love in due course comes to hold sway throughout the universe.

It is difficult to prove conclusively that Lucretius has Apollonius in mind, but it seems obvious that they are both working in the same Empedoclean tradition. The links between Apollonius and Empedocles and the parallels between Argonautica 3 and Lucretius' first book sug- gest that David Sedley is correct in his argument that the opening of the DRN closely reworks a hymn to Love in the proem of Empedocles' Ifapi <D6crncoi;. They also lend strong support to Philip Hardie's presen- tation of Ovid's reading of the Roman epic tradition as Empedoclean epos. But our primary concern in the second half of this paper has been a more specific one, just one small strand in this great tradition. Above, I suggested that there is a link between Allecto in Aeneid 7 and both Eros in Argonautica 3 and Discordia in Annales 7. But consideration of Lucretius complicates this tradition and suggests that instead one should draw a line from Aphrodite at the beginning of Empedocles' Ifapi

<D6crc:coi; to Eros in Argonautica 3 to Discordia in Annales 7 to Venus in De Rerum Natura I to Allecto in Aeneid 757Empedoclean Love and Strife seem to alternate within the epic tradition with almost the same cyclic regularity that characterises their control of the elements. And whether one calls it 'Empedoclean epos' or 'the classical epic tradition', the importance of the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius is obvious.


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