BMCR 2003.03.32

Response: Spanoudakis on Sens on Spanoudakis

Response to 2003.02.38

Response by

My book ( Philitas of Cos), despite its usefulness, it is said, contains many errors. Here is a closer look at some (not all) of them.

P. 2, par. 4: The story summarised in Parthenius Erot. path. 2 may well be οὐδὲν ἀμάρτυρον. Even so, interaction of the scholar poet with the Odyssean episode (10.1f.: p. 127) is so strongly suggested by the Homeric echoes in Parthenius and by the aetiological content of the story, supplementing what is missing in the Odyssey, that the matter seems undeniable.1

P. 3, par. 4: I would agree that Philitas’ allusions to lines of Homer athetised by later Homeric scholars do not necessarily show that the question of their authenticity was raised as early as his time. Fr. 13.1 (Demeter) ἐκ Διὸς ἄλγεα πέσσειν overtly alludes to Iliad 24.617 (Niobe, another sorrowful mother) θεῶν ἐκ κήδεα πέσσει. Are Philitas’ and Callimachus’ (in HyAp. 22f.) allusions unrelated or fortuitous? Fr. 49, where Philitas and Aristarchus seem to read the same text in Iliad 23.332-3 against the vulgate, may be instructive. Williams on Call. HyAp. 22, p. 33 discusses this issue (not ‘a different sort of issue’) and endorses this view.

Interest in matters such as glosses, proverbs or foundation legends was keen among Peripatetics. At Philitas’ time, in view of the corroborative evidence (pp. 70f.), one is compelled to acknowledge Peripatetic influence. Pfeiffer’s remarks should be kept in mind here.2 At a later stage, things may have acquired their own dynamics.

P. 3, par. 5: The ascription of unattributed fragments will always be controversial. I consciously crossed the line (Preface, p. xi), led by a nexus of coincidences, which give an integrated and reasonable picture when all available evidence is taken into consideration. This corroboration of evidence offers a new insight into poems such as Theocritus 7 or Callimachus’ Hymn to Apollo and has revealing repercussions in passages of Callimachus, Theocritus, Nicander, Propertius, Ovid, Longus and others, to which one can be guided by the Indexes. Incomprehensible ancient scholia (cf., e.g., p. 229) and at least three Hesychian glosses (pp. 261, 275, 284f.) become meaningful; above all, an elusive figure is placed in context. ‘His lengthy and interesting essay on the topic will be widely consulted’ is all Sens has to say.

Turning to the accusative plural in fr. 11: ἄστλιγξ is attested by Herodian in Schol. A.R. 1.1297 for two poets: Apollonius (in all probability l.l.: ἄστλιγγες) and Philitas, the two other occurrences of the word in this form are provided by Hesychius α 7862 L. and EtM (D) α 1979 L.-L. as ἄστλιγγας. Caution to link these entries to Philitas, shown neither by Latte nor by Lasserre – Livadaras, would be defeatism. The ascription of this fragment to Demeter (pp. 169f.) cannot be proven, but it is supported by more indications than the reviewer concedes: a. the transmission of the fragment probably going back to Theon (see pp. 57, 58); b. the distribution of the term, esp. Call. Aet. fr. 7.12 of the Parian Graces (Schol. A.R. l.l. and Schol. Nic. Alex. 470 suggest that βόστρυχας is the meaning underlying subsequent poetic occurrences of this word); c. a nexus of interrelating epiphanic motifs stretching from Demeter’s description in the Homeric hymn to Apollo’s description in Callimachus’ hymn, possibly an oblique reference in Theocritus 7, Eros’ sudden appearance to Philetas in the latter’s garden in Longus and Elegy’s sudden appearance to inspiration-seeking Ovid; d. the association of Demeter with fragrant unguents and olive oil; and e. the absorption of technical vocabulary from Theophrastus and elsewhere in Demeter (pp. 242f.). Similar combinations of indications support all proposed ascriptions.

P. 4, par. 6: λευκολόφος as an allusion to Phlious’ effeminacy (pp. 208-9) is ‘hard to sustain’, even ‘beside the point, since the object at issue is a helmet crest’. Still, a. Phlious immisus patrios de vertice crines (Val. Flacc. 1.412) and ἄμωμον ἔχοντα δέμας (Orph. Arg. 196) is effeminate, as was his father Dionysus, mentioned in the previous line ( Διονύσου φίλος υἱός); b. for λόφος’neck’ (a sensual part of the body) cf. Iliad 10.573 and compounds in this sense; c. the word may well bear implications of homosexuality in Anacreon PMG 433; and d. a double edged usage of a ‘heroic’ term concerning a warrior-figure would be in keeping with Philitas’ ridicule of the heroic (p. 43). Why reject a double entendre?

Fr. 3 shows that Odysseus referred to, perhaps insisted on, his journey to Hades. The association of fr. 2 with the Underworld (pp. 107f.) is possible because that fragment a. recalls Odysseus’ reaction in Odyssey 10.496-9, cf. 10.566-8; b. is quoted, as fr. 3, by Stobaeus (his source may not have had many or lengthy quotation(s) from Hermes); c. employs vocabulary and sounds associated with Hades; and, perhaps, d. it evokes ananke in ‘tragic’ fashion. My note on sounds (important: cf. fr. 4.3, al.) gains its meaning in the light of this possibility.

P. 4, par. 7: Neither of the two examples cited as ‘other sorts of confusion’ it what it is purported to be. The first is quoted out of context. Here is a more complete form of the text on p. 81 (explanatory additions in square brackets): ‘Philitas avoids [i.e. does not exclude] hiatus. Movable ‐ν… and elided δέ… are regularly employed to serve this purpose. There are four instances of hiatus in the extant fragments [all shown to have precedents or parallels in decent poetry]’. As for the second (p. 95), it is the construction of the originally poetic ἀλώμενος with περί + accusative which is, as I say, prosaic.

‘[H]e misdates the new Posidippus papyrus’ (p. 21): Of course, I do not misdate a papyrus I have not seen. To cut a long story short, the famous erratum on p. 1 of the Bastianini-Gallazzi-Austin edition (‘fine III sec. d.C.’)3 was corrected4 too late for me to take advantage of the correction.

Slips, it seems, are always unavoidable. In the review, for example, there are already three of them. But this is trivial. What the reader of a review might want to know is whether and how the book under discussion promoted the study of its object — and that, many would say, is the prime question.


1. J. Latacz, ‘Philitas und Homer. Bemerkungen zu Philitas’ Hermes’ in J. N. Kazazis and A. Rengakos (edd.), Euphrosyne. Studies … D. N. Maronitis, Stuttgart 1999, 206f. independently proposed this line of interpretation.

2. History of Classical Scholarship. From the Beginnings …, 95.

3. Available on the web as sample view; p. 17 was not available.

4. C. Austin, ZPE 136 (2001), 22 n.