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Patterns of time in Vergil: the Aeneid and the Aetia of Callimachus


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Patterns of time in Vergil: the Aeneid and the Aetia of Callimachus

NELIS, Damien Patrick

NELIS, Damien Patrick. Patterns of time in Vergil: the Aeneid and the Aetia of Callimachus. In:

Schwindt, J. P. La représentation du temps dans la poésie augustéenne = Zur Poetik der Zeit in augusteischer Dichtung . Heidelberg : Universitätsverlag Winter, 2018. p. 71-83

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70 Jean-Christophe Jolivet

A. La Penna, article Mezenzio, dans Enciclopedia Virgiliana, tome 3, Roma 1987, pp. 510- 515

R. Meijering, Literary and Rhetorical Theories in Greek Scholia, Groningue 1987

E. Montanari, article Caco, dans Enciclopedia Virgiliana, tome 1, Roma 1984, pp. 593 sqq.

D. Nelis, Vergil's Aeneid and the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius, Leeds 2001

J. Pinsent, Had the Cyclops a Daughter and was Nausicaa a Giant? dans LIION~EL LTON OMHPO, An6 Ta IIpaKnKci TOil c;' Lllve8pioD yta TT\V 086cmeta (2-5 LenTeµ~pioD

1990), edite par M. Pai:ze-Apostopoulou, Ithaque 1993, pp. 97-115

J. Ramminger, Imitation and Allusion in Aeneid 3.588-691, AJPh 112, 1991, pp. 53-71

D. Sansone, Cacus and the Cyclops: an Addendum, Mnemosynl! 44, 1-2, 1991, p. 171 M. Schmidt, Die Erkliirung zum Weltbild Homers und zur Kultur der Heroenzeit in den bT- Scholien zur Ilias, Mlinchen 1976

T. Schmit-Neuerburg, Vergils Aeneis und die Antike Homerexegese. Untersuchungen zum EinfluJ3 ethischer und kritischer Homerrezeption auf imitatio und aemulatio Vergils, Ber- lin/New York 1999

A. Severyns, Le cycle epique dans l'ecole d'Aristarque, Liege/Paris 1928

G. Stallbaum (ed.), Eustathii archiepiscopi Thessalonicensis Commentarii ad Homeri Odys- seam, ad fidem exempli Romani editi, Leipzig 1825-1826 (reimpression Hildesheim 1960) G. Thome, Gestalt und Funktion des Mezentius bei Vergil - mit einem Ausblick auf die SchluJ3szene der Aeneis, Frankfurt 1979

R.D. Williams (ed.), P. Vergili Maronis Aeneidos liber tertius, Oxford 1962


Patterns of Time in Vergil The Aeneid and the Aetia of Callimachus 1

My title alludes deliberately to a book published by Sarah Mack in 1978, Pat- terns of Time in Vergil. It is an elegant and insightful libellus about a topic which every reader knows to be of central importance to the interpretation of Vergilian poetry.2 Mack deals with the fragility of a timeless pastoral world un- der threat from the realities of the Roman present in the Eclogues and with the role played by images of the Golden Age in the Georgics. She also studies the role of prophecy and the use of the present and imperfect tenses in the Aeneid.

For Mack, Aeschylus, and in particular Aeschylean choral odes, provide the closest parallel for the ways in which Vergil manipulates temporal patterns, but in a review Anna Crabbe suggested that "some characteristics of his temporal wizardry may be found in Pindar, Callimachus or, indeed, Theocritus".3 In this paper, following up on Crabbe's suggestion,4 I would like to attempt an ex- ploratory study of Callimachean influence on Vergil' s handling of epic time in light of some recent work on the Aetia.

Many ofVergil's temporal strategies are so well known as to require no more than summary presentation here. The Aeneid is, after all, a poem about Aeneas

1 I would like to thank Jurgen Paul Schwindt for organizing the splendid conference in Hei- delberg where this paper was first read. Thanks are also due to the Heidelberg audience and subsequently to audiences in Newcastle, London and Groningen for helpful questions and comments. Special thanks are due to Alessandro Barchiesi, Annette Harder, John Moles, Ruurd Nauta, Alessandro Schiesaro, Tony Spawforth and Tony Woodman for advice and en-

couragement of various kinds. ,

2 See also A. Novara, Poesie virgilienne de la memoire. Questions sur l 'histoire dans l'Eneide 8, Vates I, Clermont-Ferrand 1988.

3 A. Crabbe, CR n.s. 31, 1981, pp. 290 sq., p. 290. A.J. Woodman, Rhetoric in Classical His- toriography: Four Studies, London 1988, underlines the influence ofCatullus 64 (p. 169).

4 Cf. J. Zetzel, Rome and its Traditions, in: The Cambridge Companion to Virgil, ed. by C.

Martindale, Cambridge 1997, p. 192, n. 7: "It is worth noting (although space does not permit elaboration of the subject) that Virgil's approach to the Roman and Italian pasts is deeply in- debted to the narrative techniques of the Alexandrian poets, notably Callimachus, and that the combination of Alexandrian methods and Roman antiquarian learning is central to Virgil's understanding of the contingency of historical truth". Cf. also R. Thomas, Callimachus, the Victoria Berenices, and Roman Poetry, CQ 33, 1983, pp. 92-113, p. 208 (= R.T., Reading Virgil and his Texts: Studies in Intertextuality, Ann Arbor 1999, p. 219); N. Horsfall, Virgil and the Poetry of Explanations, G&R 38, 1991, pp. 203-11, p. 209.


72 Damien Nelis

in which Augustus appears as a key figure, a poem about Troy and Trojans in which Rome and the Roman people are never far from the reader's mind, a poem whose very first sentence, after the opening arma virumque cano, runs from the shores of Troy (Troiae, l. 1) to the walls of Rome (Romae, l. 7).5 Ob- viously, three key passages contribute most to establishing a dialogue between past, present and future throughout the poem: Jupiter's prophecy in book 1, the speech of Anchises in book 6 and the description of the shield made and deco- rated by Vulcan for Aeneas in book 8.6 But in addition to prophetic modes of expression, such techniques and themes as aetiology,7 genealogy 8 anachro- nism,9 focalisation, 10 ideology, 11 allegory, 12 the gods13 and manipulation of ver-

5 Cf. N. Horsfall, op.cit. (n. 4), pp. 204 sq. For the wider picture see A. Erskine, Troy Be- tween Greece and Rome, Oxford 2001; see also M. Bettini, Anthropology and Roman Cul- ture: Kinship, Time, Images of the Soul, transl. by J. Van Sickle, Baltimore 1991, pp. 115-93.

There is much relevant material in: A. Barchiesi, The Poet and the Prince: Ovid and the Au- gustan Discourse, Berkeley 1997, index s.v. Aeneid, in: S. Wheeler, Ovid's Metamorphoses and Universal History, in: Clio and the Poets: Augustan Poetry and the Traditions of Ancient Historiography, ed. by D.S. Levene/D.P. Nelis, Mnemosyne Supplement 224, Leiden 2002, pp. 163-89, and in: P. Hardie, The Historian in Ovid. The Roman History of Metamorphoses 14-15, in: ibid., pp. 191-209. For the theme of time in Hellenistic poetry see P. Bing, The Well-Read Muse: Present and Past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic Poets, Gottingen 1988.

6 See e.g. P. Grimal, Jupiter, Anchise et Vulcain: trois revelations sur le destin de Rome, in:

Studies in Latin Literature and its Tradition in Honour ofC.O. Brink, ed. by J.B. Diggle/J.B. Hall/H.D. Jocelyn, The Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 15, Cam- bridge 1989, pp. 1-13.

7 See e.g. E.V. George, Aeneid VIII and the Aetia of Callimachus, Mnemosyne Supplement 27, Leiden 1974; G. Binder, Aitiologische Erziihlung und Augusteisches Programm in Vergils Aeneis, in: Saeculum Augustum, Darmstadt 1988 (= Wege der Forschung Band 512), pp.

255-87; N. Horsfall, op.cit. (n. 4); B. Franchi, L'epos virgiliano e l'etiologia, MD 34, 1995, pp. 95-106; M. Tueller, Well-Read Heroes: Quoting the Aetia in Aeneid 8, HSCP 100, 2000, pp. 361-80; D. Nelis, Vergil's Aeneid and the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius, ARCA 39, Leeds 2001, general index s. v. 'aetiology'.

8 See e.g. W. Suerbaum, Aeneas zwischen Troja und Rom. Zur Funktion der Genealogie und der Ethnographie in Vergils Aeneis, Poetica 1, 1967, pp. 176-204 (= W.S., In Klios und Kal- liopes Diensten. Kleine Schriften von Werner Suerbaum, Bamberg 1993, pp. 194-222); N.

Horsfall, op.cit. (n. 4), p. 204; M. Yetta, s.v. 'genealogia', in: Enciclopedia Virgiliana, vol. 2,


653 sq.

See e.g. F.H. Sandbach, Anti-antiquarianism in the Aeneid, in: Proceedings of the Virgil So- ciety 5, 1965 sq., pp. 26-38 (= F.H.S., Oxford Readings in Vergil's Aeneid, ed. by S.

Harrison, Oxford 1990, eh. 25); N. Horsfall, op.cit. (n. 4), p. 204; N. Horsfall, s.v. 'anacro- nismi', in: Enciclopedia Virgiliana, vol. 1, pp. 151-54.

10 See e.g. D. Fowler, Deviant Focalization in Vergil's Aeneid, PCPS 216, 1990, pp. 42-63; id., Narrate and Describe: The Problem ofEkphrasis, JRS 81, 1991, pp. 25-35 (= D.F., Roman Constructions: Readings in Postrnodem Latin, Oxford 2000, chapters 2 and 3); A. Barchiesi, of.cir. (n. 5), pp. 276-78; M. Putnam, Virgil's Epic Designs, ew Raven 1998, p. 121.

1 See e.g. N. Horsfall op.cit. (n. 4) p. 204.

12 See e.g. P. Hardie, Virgil's Aeneid: Cosmos and Imperium, Oxford 1986.

ll c ... ,...,... ,>r n C' ........... T\..n. n ... ri,.. :- c .... : .... rh_,4=' ... A 1 no, .... 1 -t".C::

Patterns of Time in Vergil 73

bal tense14 all contribute to the creation of an almost constant oscillation be- tween past, present and future throughout the poem. And given the obvious complexity of Vergil' s techniques even the categories of 'past', 'present' and 'future' require careful handling. Consider Aeneid 8. 347-50, for example:

hinc ad Tarpeiam sedem et Capitolia ducit aurea nunc, olim silvestribus horrida dumis.

iam tum religio pavidos terrebat agrestis dira loci, iam tum silvam saxumque tremebant.

As Evander guides Aeneas through Pallanteum, on the very site of the future Rome, the use of Tarpeiam and Capitolia is strikingly anachronistic, while the narrative 'Trojan' present of the verb ducit (picking up the repeated monstrat in 337, 343 and 345) slides into the reader's 'Augustan' present of aurea nunc, be- fore olim turns what was initially the 'Trojan' narrative present into an unde- fined time in the past, i.e. the past from an explicitly Augustan perspective. Im- mediately, the repeated iam tum with the imperfect tense (terrebat, tremebant) applies to the past time delineated by olim, which was originally the narrative present of ducit.

There are many examples of this kind of sophisticated slippage in the poem.

On one level, they represent the kind of intricate verbal play characteristic of a poeta doctus. But on another level they form a vital and very necessary part of Vergil's whole epic style, because of the very particular kind of epic the Aeneid sets out to be. To put it rather crudely, Vergil wanted to write an epic which would include Augustus, but he had no wish to write a historical epic about re- cent and contemporary Roman history. And so he conceived the idea of a Ho- meric epic, a poem about a mythological figure involved in the Iliad, which would look forward in various ways to Roman history and Augustus. From the outset, therefore, the elaboration of temporal strategies enabling him to rival Homer and simultaneously write about Augustus was absolutely vital to his whole poetic project. Such concerns are played out explicitly in the middle sec- tion of the Georgics 2. 458 - 3. 48.15 Vergil constructs his whole poetic career around this mid-point, in a passage of great importance. As a whole, it is built on a series of dichotomies, between country and city, between pastoral-georgic and epic, between peace and war, between cosmos and imperium, all of which in- volve time, time as marked by the heavenly bodies and the farmer's yearly round at the close of book 2, and time as Roman history, from the city's founda- tion (Georg. 2. 532-35) to Actium, Caesar and its imperial future at the start of book 3. The final three lines of the prologue to Georgics 3 (46-48) encapsulate

14 See e.g. H. Pinkster, The Present Tense in Virgil's Aeneid, Mnemosyne 52, 1999, pp. 705- 17.

15 The following section is based on D. Nelis, From Didactic to Epic: Georgics 2. 458 - 3. 48,

;n. T ,:i,t;n p ... ;,.. ,:i,nrl n~rl,:i,,..+;,.. Pna.tT,, a.rl 'h,, l\.,f r!".lll,:,,. ~umnC'oQ.t:1 "){)(\A -r,,.,... Q'l 1 f\'7


74 Damien Nelis

an intense engagement with issues of narrative and history, beginnings and endings, poetics and politics:

mox tamen ardentis accingar dicere pugnas Caesaris et nomen Jama tot ferre per annos, Tithoni prima quot a best ab origine Caesar.

Vergil here looks forward to the immortalisation of Caesar's military victories in epic, and in so doing he constructs Caesar as the telos of the whole process of Roman history, a process beginning from the fall of Troy and the arrival of Aeneas in Italy (cf. Georg. 3. 34-36, Aen. 1. 1 sq.).16 Early on in the Aeneid, Ju- piter confirms this conception of Roman history when he foresees the founda- tion of Rome, the rule of Caesar and the rise of imperial Rome from Trojan ori- gins (Aen. 1. 275-79; 286-88):

inde lupae fulvo nutricis tegmine laetus Romulus excipiet gentem et Mavortia condet moenia Romanosque suo de nomine dicet.

his ego nee metGrs rerum nee tempora pono:

imperium sine fine dedi. ( ... )

nascetur pulchra Troianus origine Caesar, imperium Oceano, famam qui terminet astris, Julius, a magno caelo demissum nomen Iulo.

Just as the line-ending origine Caesar at Aeneid 1. 286 repeats that of Georgics 3. 48 and confirms the poet's commitment to the celebration in epic verse of Caesar's triumphafo;t establishment of world empire, so the resounding words imperium sine fine dedi pick up on a concentrated nexus of references to 'the end' in the immediately preceding scene in book 1 (dabit deus his quoque finem, 1. 199; et iamfinis erat, 1. 224; quern dasfinem laborum? 1. 241) and raise the question, 'What is the end?' .17 One answer to that question has of course been provided by the mid-section of the Georgics, and that answer is 'Caesar', the di- vinely ordained climax of Roman history and indeed of all time, the founder of an apparently limitless and eternal golden age of peace (cf. Aen. 6. 791-97). But other answers are also possible, especially since V ergil also constructs Caesar as the mid-point of history. The words in media mihi Caesar erit at Georgics 3. 16 must be read with lines 46-48, where the ambition to carry Caesar's name as far into the future as is the period between Tithonus and Caesar positions the latter in the middle of a grand historical process ( cf. also Aen. 8. 67 5-78, in media [ ... ] hinc Augustus).18 Furthermore, at Aeneid 6. 792 sq. Anchises presents Augustus

16 See D. Quint, Epic and Empire: Politics and Generic Form from Virgil to Milton, Princeton 1993.

17 See D. Feeney, op.cit. (n. 13), pp. 137-55; see more generally R. Mitchell-Boyask, Sine fine: Vergil's Masterplot AJPh 117, J 996, pp. 289-307.

18 On Vergilian middles see R. Thomas Reading Virgil op.cit. (n. 4), pp. 310-20.

Patterns of Time in Vergil 75

as a founder of a new age (aurea condet saecula), and so as involved in the be- ginning of a new age. On the other hand, these words seem to refer to Lucretius De rerum natura 3. 1090, where the verb condere means 'to bring to an end, and some see here a reference to the end of a Golden Age.19 Is Caesar to be as- sociated ,vith the beginning, the middle or the end? This is an issue of obvious historical and political importance but for Vergil it is also of literary signifi- cance, because at issue in the prologue to Georgics 3 and Jupiter's prophecy in Aeneid I is the question of how and where to begin writing an epic narrative about Caesar.20 Given that Vergil positions Caesar as the culmination of Roman history and as the founder of a new age of imperiurn sine fine, where could a narrative about him begin and where could it end? Vergil found answers to this question in his reading of a wide range of literary models, and not least in Helle- nistic poetry. I would like to look at just one small aspect of this vast subject by returning to Georgics 3. 46-48 and asking why Vergil names Tithonus there.

Commentators have come up with various explanations of the presence of Tithonus at the beginning of Georgics 3. 48. Serv.ius explains: id est tuafacta tot annis celebrabuntur, quot anni sunt a te usque ad mundi principium ('that is, your deeds will be sung for as many years as there are from you to the creation of the world'). DServius adds, ab in.finito infinitum, quia Tithon.i origo non po- test comprehendi ( throughout infinity, because the origin of Tithonu cannot be grasped'). Thomas, with Fairclough-Goold,21 translates Tithoni---origine by 'from the far-off birth ofTithonus and points to the fact that he was the brother of Priarn.22 Mynors renders 'from Tithonus and his stock' noting tl1at he "stands in general for the Trojan royal house[ ... ]. Proverbial for longevity (Suda T 578, Cic. sen. 3), he carries a colour of hoary antiquity, which perhaps explains why he was chosen bere".23 The myth is justly famous. Tithonus was the husband of Eos, who acquired for him eternal life, but not eternal youth. As a result, ~e grew older and older, weaker and weaker, until he was transformed into a ci- cada. Sapp ho and Mirnnermus mention the story, but Homeric Hymn to Aphro- dite 218-38 is the best-known account. The metamorphosis into a cicada is first attested in Hellanicus, but it is a detail which fits well with the Homeric text, where it may be implicit.24 For our purposes however, it is important that the myth seems to play an important role in fr. l of Callimachus Aetia (29-38):

"And so I sing for those

who love the shrill cicada's cry, and hate

19 Id., Virgil and the Augustan Reception, Cambridge 2001, pp. 1-7. .



Cf. in particular Theocritus 17. 1-12, with the comments ofR. Hunt~r,_Theocntus: Enco- mium of Ptolemy Philadelphus, Berkeley 2003, ad lac., for very s1m1lar thoughts m a Ptolemaic context.

21 H. Fairclough and G. Goold, Virgil: Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid I-VI, Cambridge/Mass.


22 R. Thomas, Virgil, Georgics, Cambridge 1988, ad lac.

23 R. Mynors, Virgil, Georgics, Oxford 1990, ad foe.

24 See M. Crudden, The Homeric Hymns, Oxford 2001, p. 136 on v. 237.


76 Damien Nelis

the clamour of asses. Let someone else loud as any long-eared brute, bray ' for their amusement. As for me, I would be small and winged - yes, even so, to sing

with dew upon my lips, the food

of morning culled from air divine, shedding the years that weigh on me

like Sicily on Enkelados.

The Muses won't repulse in grey old age

the man on whom they smiled in his youth."25

In the context of the Aetia prologue, in which Callimachus presents himself as an old man and criticizes the Telchines and their views on poetry while defend- ing his own poetics, Gregory Crane has put well the relevance of the myth to its immediate context: "Like Tithonus, Callimachus sings with undiminished bril- liance, despite advanced old age, but, unlike Eos, the Muses do not abandon their favourite".26 Crane finds in Callimachus' evocation ofTithonus' fate and in the parallel between the poet's voice and the song of the cicada evidence of the Hellenistic poet's "absolute dedication to poetry". Richard Hunter has gone on to argue that when reference to Tithonus is placed in the context of allusion to Plato, Ion 534b, Callimachus can be seen to be making important and influential claims about poetic inspiration and craftsmanship.27

It is well known that Callimachus is a key model for the prologue to Georgics 3. The work of Richard Thomas leaves in no doubt his central importance.28

~ile the central model may be the Victoria Berenices which opened Aetia 3, given that in these lines Vergil is thinking about the problems involved in writ- ing epic poetry, Callimachus' Aetia prologue is also clearly evoked.29 Given the

;: Translated b~ F. Nisetich The Poems ofCallimachus, Oxford 2001, pp. 63 sq.

G. Crane, T1thonus and the Prologue to Callimachus Aetia, ZPE 66, 1986, pp. 269-78, p.


27 R. Hunter, Winged Callimachus, in: ZPE 76, 1989, pp. 1 sq. See also B. Acosta-Hughes/S.

Stephens, Rereading Callimachus' Aetia Fragment I, CPh 97, 2002, pp. 238-55, pp. 240, 244 sq., 251-53.

28 R. Thomas, Victoria Berenices, op.cit. (= Reading Virgil, op.cit. [both n. 4), eh. 2); id., op.cit. (n. 22), pp. 103-8 (= Reading Vergil, pp. 270-75); see also E. Kraggerud, Virgil An- nouncing the Aeneid: on Georgics 3. 1-48, in: Vergil's Aeneid. Augustan Epic and Political Context, ed. by H.-P. Stahl, London 1998, pp. 1-20; D. Nelis, op.cit. (n. 15). I do not deny the importance of Pindar; for the issues see R. Balot, Pindar, Virgil, and the Proem to Georgie 3, Phoenix 52, 1998, pp. 83-94, and R. Thomas, Virgil's Pindar?, in: Style and Tradition. Stud- ies in Honor of Wendell Clausen, ed. by P. Knox/C. Foss, Stuttgart 1998, pp. 99-120. There is much relevant and important material in A. Hardie, Pindar's 'Theban' Cosmogony (The First Hymn), BICS 44, 2000, pp. 19-40.

29 W. Wimmel, Ka!Limachos in Rom: Die Nachfolge seines apologetischen Dichtens in der Augusteerzeit, Hermes Einzelschriften 16, Wiesbaden 1960, pp. 177-87; R. Thomas, op.cit.

(n. 18), pp. 110 sq.; id., op.cit. (n. 22), ad 3. 11, 36.

Patterns of Time in V ergil 77

importance of the parallel between Callimachus and Tithonus in that passage, the mention of Tithonus at Georgics 3. 48 may be a direct allusion to the im- portant role played by Tithonus in Callimachus Aetia fr. 1. Without doubt, many arguments could be mustered against this proposition, and in a case like this ab- solute proof will always remain elusive. Nevertheless, the following question is surely worth asking: if Vergil's mention of Tithonus sends the reader of the prologue to Georgics 3 directly back to the prologue of Callimachus' Aetia, what might the connection between the two texts signify?

Given the parallels established between the two old men and between the song of the cicada and Callimachus' poetic voice in Aetia fr. 1, could Vergil's Tithonus represent in some sense Callimachus and/or Callimachean poetics?

Could the words Tithoni ( ... ) ori~ine evoke the Aetia, a title which could be translated into Latin by Origines? 0 Such questions must go without definitive answers, but some considerations may be worth exploring. If Crane and Hunter are right, Callimachus establishes a connection between Tithonus and poetry. If this connection is brought over in some way via Callimachean allusion into the Vergil passage, it would in fact fit very well in the context. Earlier in the pro- logue Vergil creates striking parallels between Caesar as military victor and his own poetic triumph (cf. Georg. 3. 9, victor, and 17, victor ego, of the poet, and 27, victorisque arma Quirini, of Caesar).31 If mention of Tithonus suggests in some sense immortal song, this parallelism between poetic and military triumph, between poet and hero, is carried over into lines 46-48, where Vergil looks for- ward to an epic poem which will immortalize Caesar, and in which the immor- tality of Vergil's poetic voice will ensure the immortality of Caesar.32 I would suggest that in a passage which is generally interpreted by critics as relating to the writing of epic in reaction to Callimachus' views on epic in the Aetia pro- logue, that line 48, beginning with Tithonus and ending in Caesar, encodes a po- etic statement of some interest: V ergil' s intention to compose a Callimachean epic about Augustus, i.e. his desire to write a poem about Augustus which would be both Homeric in style, scope and ambition, while at the same time respecting Callimachus' criticism of post-Homeric epic and his attempt to offer new crite- ria for artistic excellence. 33

30 See S. Hinds, The Metamorphoses of Persephone, Cambridge 1987, pp. 4 sq.

31 See P. Hardie, op.cit. (n. 12), pp. 48-51.

32 See E. Kraggerud, op.cit. (n. 28), p. 15.

33 See R. Thomas, op.cit. (n. 18), pp. 101-13. A. Cameron, Callimachus and his Critics, Princeton 1995, argues for a very different view. I would argue that my interpretation ofVer- gil's strategies of engagement with Hellenistic poetry suggests that Cameron goes too far in denying the important role played by the epic genre in the Aetia prologue and in attempting to minimise the importance of, or even deny the existence of, a specifically Callimachean poet- ics. That said, Cameron's emphasis on elegy is useful, and I believe that it may help to ex- plain one aspect of Vergil's reaction to Callimachus at the opening of Georgics 3. When Ver- gil surveys topics handled by Callimachus, among others, and writes (Georg. 3. 4 sq.) cetera, quae vacuas tenuissent carmine mentes, I omnia iam vulgata, he is not rejecting Callimachus,


78 Damien Nelis

The study of Callimachean aetiology, both directly in the Aetia and in other po- ems, such as for example the Argonautica of Apollonius, played a fundamental role in Vergil's elaboration of his epic project. Aetiology provided him with one solution to the problem of how to avoid composing historical epic while still writing about recent and contemporary history. It is important to realise, how- ever, that it represents merely one solution to a complex problem, and so we must resist the temptation to seek the answers to all our questions about Vergil- ian temporal strategies in Callimachus or even in Hellenistic Greek poetry more generally. If recent research on Vergilian intertexruality has taught us anything it is that Vergil bad a fascination with and an encyclopaedic approach towards literary tradition.34 Therefore, while there is considerable evidence of Vergil s close engagement with Callimachean texts throughout the Aeneid, labelling any particular aspect of Vergilian technique as specifically Callimacbean is in prac- tice neither easy nor useful especially when it is taken into the account that Callimachus too had a strikingly wide-ranging interest in literary traditions and in his own position in relation to them. And a closely related issue arises in rela- tion to this very point. Latin poets were fully aware of the complex intertextual- ity of Hellenistic poetic texts and of the many complex patterns of allusion linking them to their Classical and Archaic models.35 For Latinists faced with this fact, one very successful strategy has been to emphasize the disjunction between Hellenistic literature on the one hand and Classical and Archaic texts on the other, often following paths and traces laid down by the Hellenistic poets themselves. It is of course also the case that the e same poets often lay stress on continuity and on the cohesive force of tradition but modern scholarship has perhaps paid less attention to strategies of this kind. It is important, therefore, to avoid an exclusive approach when trying to make sense of Vergil' s use of earlier texts, and so despite the fact that the aim of this paper is to attempt to outline the relationship between the Aeneid and the Aetia it will be necessary to glance at the literary background to Vergil's model. An interesting test case is to be found in the relationship between Callimachus and Hesiod.36

It has long been seen as a standard fact of literary history that Hesiod was a particularly important model for Callimachus.37 However, this view has been

but he is suggesting the inability of elegy and epyllion to carry the weighty themes of his new p:>etic, and necessarily epic, via (Georg. 3. 8 sq.).

~ See J. Farrell The Virgilian lntertext, in: C. Martindale, op.cir. (n. 4), pp. 222-38, p. 229.

35 D. 1elis, op.cil. (n. 7), outlines the nexus involving Vergil, ApoUonius and Homer, but much work remains to be done in this area.

36 On Vergil and Hesiod see P. Hardie, op.cit. (n. 12), eh. 3 and index s.v. 'Hesiod'; M.

Ogawa, Virgil and the Muses of Helicon: On the Proem of the Third Georgie, in: Filologia e Forme Letterarie: Studi offerti a Francesco Della Corte, Urbino 1987, vol. 2, pp. 439-56; D.

Sider, Vergil's Aeneid and Hesiod's Theogony, Vergilius 34, 1988, pp. 15-24; J. Farrell, Ver- gil's Georgics and the Traditions of Ancient Epic, Oxford 1991.

37 H. Reinsch-Werner, Callimachus Hesiodicus. Die Rezeption der hesiodiscben Dichtung durch Kallimachos von Kyrene, Berlin 1976.

Patterns of Time in Vergil 79

attacked forcefully by Alan Cameron.38 More recently, Marco Fantuzzi and Richard Hunter,39 and Annette Harder40 have suggested new ways of thinking about the relationship between the two poets. Building on Callimachus' evoca- tion of Hesiod at the beginning of the Aetia (as is well known, the poet's dream explicitly recalls Theogony 21-35, where the Muses appear to the shepherd He- siod on Mount Helicon), Fantuzzi and Hunter suggest that the whole opening sequence of the Aetia, prologue, dream, beginning of the conversation with the Muses and the first aetiological story, concluding with the programmatic address to the Graces (fr. 9. 13 sq. Massimilla [= 7. 13 sq. Pfeiffer]; note their presence at Th. 64) reworks the whole opening sequence of Theogony 1-115, leading up to the actual beginning of the main part of the work in line 116, "In the begin- ning Chaos came to be", the line which Callimachus clearly presents as the real beginning of the poem in his allusion to it in the frustratingly incomplete fr. 4 M (= 2 Pf). Thereafter, inasmuch as the Aetia contains stories about Greek myth and cult and becomes a kind of cultural history of the Greek world, it can use- fully be thought of as a conscious continuation of the Theogony, bringing the story down through time to the age of Callimachus and to the Greco-Egyptian world of contemporary Alexandria. Fantuzzi and Hunter write: "As the Theogony shows a world-order coming into being, so the Aitia presents a series of second- order refinements and local variations within the Hesiodic structure [ ... ]", and they also lend their support to the idea that "the Aitia is to be seen as a complete 'human' history to match the 'divine' history of the Theogony".41

In tum, Annette Harder has studied the theme of time in the Aetia, and her conclusions support the ideas of Fantuzzi and Hunter. Tracing what she sees as a coherent process of civilization in the poem, she writes:"[ ... ] the Aetia seems to follow the example set by Hesiod, whose Theogony contains a similar, though more coherent and explicit, notion of progress from chaos to the well-organized world of the Olympian gods, and whose Works and Days insist on the impor- tance of moral values. Therefore the references to Hesiod in fr. 2. 1 sqq. are probably not just indicators of genre, but seem to foreshadow important issues of the Aetia. At a structural level these findings support the proposition of Fan- tuzzi/Hunter that one may read the Aetia as a kind of sequel to Hesiod's Theog- ony which in a non-linear way - though significantly beginning with Minos - Callimachus offers a survey of human history after the establishment of the

38 A. Cameron, op.cit. (n. 33), eh. 13.

39 M. Fantuzzi/R. Hunter, Muse e Modelli: la poesia ellenistica da Alessandro Magno ad Augusto, Roma/Bari 2002, pp. 71-81 ( = Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry, Cam- bridge 2004, pp. 51-60).

40 A. Harder, The Invention of Past, Present and Future in Callimachus' Aetia, Hermes 131, 2003, pp. 290-306. See also A. Barchiesi, op.cit. (n. 5), pp. 183-6; id., Speaking Volumes.

Narrative and lntertext in Ovid and other Latin Poets, London 2001, pp. 147 sq.

41 M. Fantuzzi/R. Hunter, op.cit. (n. 39) pp. 74 sq. (= Tradition and Innovation, pp. 54 sq.).


80 Damien Nelis

Olympian gods and thus continues the developments which began with Chaos".42

There seems to be little doubt that the comparison with Hesiod helps to throw into relief important aspects of Callimachus' handling of time, myth and history in the Aetia. Indeed, Callimachus' use of Hesiod may be even more complex than this, if Jenny Strauss Clay is correct in her argument that Hesiod conceived of the Theogony and the Works and Days as two closely connected works.43 Clay argues that the two poems must be read together in order that Hesiod's ex- ploration of the cosmos and of mankind's place in it may be appreciated in all its complexity. She believes that "from its beginning, the Works and Days charac- terizes itself in opposition to the Theogony: the latter, through the mediation of the Muses, offers an Olympian perspective on the cosmos; the Works and Days, by contrast, directly and without need for a divine intermediary, presents the human viewpoint. The task these two poems set for us entails highlighting these two visions and while respecting their differences, integrating their perspectives into a larger whole".44 The former work describes how our world and the divine disposition which rules it came into being, while the latter explores mankind's harsh existence within the cosmos ruled by Zeus. In so doing, Clay also believes that Hesiod self-consciously frames and fills out the mythic history of gods and mortals contained in the Iliad and the Odyssey, and in the Homeric Hymns, as well as in other kinds of theogonic poetry. Alongside the desire to embrace both the beginnings and the end of the whole process of cosmic evolution goes a self- conscious attempt to mark out a space for his own particular types of theogonic and didactic poetry in a complex literary tradition which Hesiod clearly read as offering an elaborate exploration of the nature of the gods and of the human condition and also a culture history of the human race. For Clay also, particu- larly intriguingly as far as this paper is concerned, constructions of time play a key role in the dialogue between the two texts. She argues that the Theogony

"presents a positive progression of generations leading to the establishment of Zeus's eternal rule and a stabilized cosmos. The Works and Days, however, in- volves more complex modulations. Its progressive constriction reveals itself temporally in the movement from the defining epochs of human history, in the myths of Prometheus and the races of mankind, to the cycle of the years and the days of the month".45 It is fascinating to conjecture that Callimachus may have read Hesiod along the lines proposed by Clay, so that the Aetia should not be read merely as a continuation of the Theogony, but as a work which betrays a detailed knowledge of the interactions between the Theogony and the Works and

42 A. Harder, op.cit. (n. 40), p. 302.

43 J.S. Clay Hesiod's Cosmos, Cambridge 2003.

44 Ibid. p. 80. Cf. P. Hardie, op.cil. (n. 12), p. 7, on the importance of the fact that the Eoiai was read as a continuation of the Theogony; see also Ogawa, op.cit. (n. 36), producing inter- esting arguments for a pattern of imitation combining both the Theogony and Works and Days in the Georgics.

45 T <;: rbv nn rit (n 4,) n 4R

Patterns of Time in Vergil 81

Days and as an ambitious attempt to explore, through the strongly aetiological mode of the former, many of the concerns of the latter within the context of the history of the Greek world after the very early period of human history on which Hesiod concentrates. It is certainly the case that at the beginning of the Aetia, in his account of the dream, Callimachus has the Muses reveal to Hesiod the con- tent of both the Theogony and the Works and Days. Despite the fragmentary nature of the text of fr. 4 M (= fr. 2 Pf), it is clear that they told him of both the

"birth of Chaos" and that ' Evil devised against another eats the heart of its de- viser" ,46 a paraphrase of Works and Days 265 sq., "A man fashions ill for him- self who fashions ill for another, and the ill design is most ill for the designer".47 It is possible therefore that Callimachus here explicitly presented his Aetia in some sense as a continuation of both the Theogony and the Works and Days.

It is certainly the case that on Harder's reading of the Aetia, time and history are central to its meaning, with past and present time in continual and themati- cally coherent dialogue throughout the work. She believes that there is an em- phasis on the progress of civilization and that the links between past and present help to create an image of the cultural heritage of the city of Ptolemaic Alexan- dria. She also fmds a strong focus, despite the apparently unstructured way in which individual stories are told within the poem as a whole, on colonisation and expansion, as well as a detailed awareness of mythical chronology, with an avoidance of the Trojan war and a subsequent concentration on stories from the periods before and after it.48 In general, Callimachus seems to show ways in which the past created the present both by telling stories whose narrative thrust moves from the past towards the present, and also by including tales which be- gin from phenomena in the present and look back into the past. As a result, a double reading of the poem is possible, both as a narrative of the aetiology of the present which looks from the present back into the past, and as story with a strongly teleological thrust, in which the reader is able to look from past time forward to the future, a future which is of course the reader's Ptolemaic pres- ent.49

Overall, one of Harder's main aims is to move away from the idea that Cal- limachean aetiology is intended to focus on learned and antiquarian details for their own sake. Instead, she looks for possible cultural and political considera- tions behind both the choice of individual stories and their use in the overall structure of the whole poem. In so doing she discovers a number of key recur- ring themes, morality, hospitality, movement and expansion, love, and some key over-arching areas of interest, mythical chronology and history, geography,

46 Translation by F. Nisetich, op.cit. (n. 25), p. 65.

47 Translation by M.L. West, Hesiod: Theogony and Works and Days, Oxford 1988. On Ovid's appreciation of the links between Hesiod and Callimachus see A. Barchiesi, op.cit. (n.

5), pp. 232-34.

48 A. Harder, op.cit. (n. 40), pp. 296-302.

49 T/.,;,l ~~ 70ll_Q{;


82 Damien Nelis

Greek culture and the processes of civilization. At this point, readers of V ergil may begin to notice certain similarities between his concerns and those of Cal- limachus. In order to bring out more clearly some of the ways in which Harder's interpretation of the latter seems relevant to interpretation of the Aeneid, a num- ber of quotations should prove instructive.

Near the beginning of her paper, in a brief survey of work on aetiology in other poets in which she cites E.V. George's book entitled Aeneid VIII and the Aetia of Callimachus, she cautiously writes, "The fact that in his ideological use of aitia V ergil repeatedly refers the reader to Callimachus' Aetia by means of allusion may - but need not - be an indication that he read the Aetia also in this way". 50 She goes on to suggest that in the Aetia "the past is presented as a time when people made war, travelled and founded new cities and in this way were busy creating the world as it was in the present of Callimachus' readers".51 She goes on to add, "Foundation-stories are found in se\'.eral aitia, either as a main theme or as a side-effect of the events in the story. Of particular interest in this respect are the stories in which issues of leadership, expansion and war are re- lated to romantic love".52 And in beginning her conclusion she states: "Under the guise of an antiquarian and playful collection Callimachus seems to ma- nipulate the past, present and future in such a way that a picture emerges of a world in which there is a certain tendency towards expansion, progress and civi- lization supported by the adherence to specific moral values. We see this in many of the stories from the past and are thus prepared to share in the climax at the end of the Aetia, where a perspective of future Ptolemaic glory is shown".53

There can be little doubt that Harder's findings show that she is being a little over-cautious in her opening remark about Vergil's reading of the Aetia. Almost everything she has to say about Callimachus in the passages just quoted is clearly relevant to the Aeneid. Both poets relate stories from the past, Calli- machus many different tales, Vergil a single 'myth', as part of a grand encomi- astic design, in which the aetiological mode enables each poet to relate the past and the present in such a way as to embrace within his text the origins of a new and evolving political situation. Callimachus relates Ptolemaic Alexandria to the Greek world and Greek culture just as Vergil relates Augustan Rome to its Tro- jan and Italian past. As the former explores the evolutions of Hellenism, Vergil explores the coming to being of a newly defined Romanitas. Therefore, mutatis mutandis (e.g. the remark about "the climax at the end of the Aetia" [i.e. the Coma Berenices], which would have to be referred to Aeneid 8 rather than to Aeneid 12) it seems obvious that Vergil did in fact read Callimachus' aetiologi- cal poem


la Harder, as an ambitious and fundamentally serious meditation on history, kingship, power and contemporary politics, and that he appreciated how,

50 Ibid., p. 290, n. 3.

51 Ibid. p. 301.

52 Ibid. p. 30 I.

53 Ibid., p. 304.

Patterns of Time in Vergil 83

within its curious and highly varied collection of individual stories, the past, the present and the future are inextricably related in all sorts of extremely complex ways. From the beginning of the poem, where he says to the Muse, mihi causas memora, Vergil adopts the Callimachean mode which prevailed throughout the first two books of the Aetia, whereby the poet asks questions of the Muses, who respond by providing him with the information, i.e. the causae, required.54 Cal- limachus' Aetia prologue is built on a series of arresting contrasts, between the big and the small the long and the short, the loud and the sweet-sounding, the hackneyed and the original. Latinists have generally linked his teasing, ironic voice with the small the short and the sweet, and concentrated on his delinea- tion of a new poetics. But we need also to keep in mind the grand and ambitious designs of the Aetia as a whole and to see Callimachus as a deeply serious writer engaged with history and politics as much as poetics, because that may very well be how V ergil read him. 55

54 See Feeney, op.cit. (n. 13), p. 185.

55 On Callimachus and Augustan politics see the suggestive remarks in S. Heyworth, Some Allusions to Callimachus in Latin Poetry, MD 33, 1994, pp. 51-79; D. Feeney, UNA CUM SCRIPTORE MEO: Poetry, Principate and the Traditions of Literary History in the Epistle to Augustus, in: Traditions and Contexts in the Poetry of Horace, ed. by T. Woodman/D.

Feeney, Cambridge 2002, pp. 172-87; J. Zetzel, Dreaming about Quirinus: Horace's Satires and the Development of Augustan Poetry, in: ibid., pp. 38-52; A. Barchiesi, op.cit. (n. 5), pp.

39-43, 210, 214 sq.; id., op.cit. (n. 40), pp. 147-50; A. Schiesaro, Latin Literature and Greece, Dialogos 5, 1998, pp. 144-49. See also G. Hutchinson, The Aetia: Callimachus' Poem of Knowledge, ZPE 145, 2003, pp. 47-59; for a reading of the Aetia as a serious poem about knowledge, and also on the Aetia as a didactic work see M.A. Harder, To teach or not to teach ... ? in: Calliope's Classroom, ed. by M.A. Harder/A.A. MacDonald/G.J. Reinink, forthcom- ing, Leuven 2005.


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