BMCR 2006.03.05

Der Delos-Hymnus des Kallimachos innerhalb seines Hymnensextetts. Orbis antiquus, 39

, Der Delos-Hymnus des Kallimachos innerhalb seines Hymnensextetts. Orbis antiquus ; Bd. 39. Münster: Aschendorff, 2005. vii, 353 pages ; 23 cm.. ISBN 3402054000 €48.00 (pb).

As K. Ukleja (hereafter U.) puts it, her book aims to explain what in Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos is left unclear or even misunderstood, especially with regard to its structure and relationship with Pindar and the Homeric Hymn to Apollo on one hand, and with Callimachus’ Hymns ‘sextet’ on the other hand (p. 1). These themes are dealt with at quite different lengths, and what U. considers particularly relevant in her analysis is verbal repetitions, not only in an intertextual context, but within Callimachus’ Hymns as well. This approach, often adopted by German scholars,1 can be very useful, and here it helps U. to detect a ‘specular’ structure in the Hymn to Delos, centred on Apollo’s prophecy of ll. 153-96 (regrettably, the reader finds this structure only at p. 165).

The first chapter is an Introduction (pp. 1-20) where U. briefly discusses some topics developed in the book, as, for example, the structure of the Hymn to Delos and the overall purposes of the Hymns, and where she lists passages where she prefers the MSS readings to Pfeiffer’s corrections (or cruces). Then we have an extensive chapter on the collection of Callimachus’ Hymns (ch. 2, pp. 21-107), which U., together with many scholars today, considers probably authorial, especially for its careful structure in pairs, succinctly but convincingly described by Hopkinson some years ago. The bulk of this chapter close to a reading of the main themes of each poem, with special attention to echoes within the pairs and allusions to the Homeric Hymns. This may help us to appreciate the unity of the collection as a whole, for example in the sharing of common themes in mimetic and non-mimetic hymns (cf. pp. 103-4) and in the development of narrative patterns from the Homeric Hymn to Apollo.2 The Homeric poet exhibits his embarrassment in front of the wide possibilities to sing the god (vv. 19-24, 207-15); in Callimachus’ Hymns we find the same theme, but, while in the Hymn to Zeus it unexpectedly becomes an Abbruchsformel (v. 92 f.), in the Hymn to Apollo it is a device by which the poet lists the god’s (too many?) names and activities. We can find the theme in the Hymn to Delos as well (v. 28 f.), but here to consider Delos ‘rich in songs’ is just a ruse marking the extension of the poem (p. 80). After this, U. explains her idea of the ‘compositional project of the sextet’: one finds connections between mimetic and non-mimetic Hymns (cf. esp. p. 103 f.), between the first and the last poem and, what is most important to the subject of the book, between these two and the Hymn to Delos, which thus represents the “Spitze der Pyramide, die Kallimachos mit seinen Hymnen konstruiert hat” (p. 107), although it is difficult to choose “ein konkretes Muster als bestimmendes” (p. 106) in the collection.

One may be surprised by the length of this chapter, which covers a third of the whole book. U. shows her grounding in Hellenistic and Callimachean poetry and focuses on many problems. At times, however, this may be puzzling for the reader, who must face full bibliographical discussions about Cretan cults and myths (esp. pp. 27-9), the assumed corruption at Hymn 4.1 (pp. 81-6) or the translation of Hymn 2.106 (pp. 43-4, n. 218). In addition, U.’s approach may seem sometimes too formalistic: for example, it is not easy to understand which consequences the ‘similarity’ between Hymn 1, where Rheia needs water after Zeus is born, and Hymn 6, where Demeter doesn’t wash as a sign of mourning (pp. 96-7), has for our understanding of the collection. After the ‘discovery’ of intertextuality, it is still necessary to distinguish what carries a structural significance from what could be no more than a superficial similarity.3 Moreover, U.’s approach seems to pay very little attention to new trends in Hellenistic studies, such as the ‘Ptolemaic’ aspects of Hellenistic poetry4 or the critical attitude of the poets towards their sources. U’s reading of the Hymn to Zeus could not be more instructive from this point of view. She discusses in quite a detail (cf. e.g. pp. 27-9) the two controversies presented by the poet, the first one on the actual birthplace of Zeus (vv. 4-14), the second one on his rise to power (vv. 55-67), and concludes that in this Hymn Callimachus shows “in aller Unbekümmertheit und Unbefangenheit […], wie locker sein verhältnis zur Wahrheit in der Dichtung in Wirklichkeit ist” (p. 36). Yet Callimachus’ ‘double’ version of Zeus’ birth may be due to the fact that there were traces of two traditions about Zeus’ birthplace already in Hes. Theog. 477-84, as other have argued.5

In ch. 3 (pp. 109-17) U. shows the importance of the Delian section of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo as a model, which she considers “die bekannteste und ausfürlichste Darstellung” (p. 109) of the god’s birth. Yet this model is deeply changed, and Apollo’s birth has to face up to much harder difficulties (cf. p. 117): lands and islands do not flee from the god’s power (which could be some kind of encomiastic theme), but rather from Hera’s wrath, which is barely mentioned in the Homeric Hymn (v. 100-1).

With ch. 4 U. turns her attention to the analysis of the Hymn to Delos and here (pp. 119-27) we find an interesting reading of its first part (ll. 1-54) as a unity, structured by internal recalls, where the seemingly desolate island of ll. 11-5 becomes the glorious Delos of ll. 51-4. Here U. disagrees with those who, like Mineur in his commentary (Leiden 1984), consider ll. 1-27 as a self-contained part. Yet it should be noted that here Callimachus exploits Delos’ desolate landscape as a foil to stress its virtues, a well-known device we find in the Odyssey (e.g. Ithaka, 4.605 ff.) and in Pindar’s Paean D4.25-7 Ruth. = 4 (fr. 52d) M. (Ceos).6 Ch. 5 (pp. 129-47) is a discussion on the etymologies of the names ‘Asteria’ and ‘Delos,’ which we find in Callimachus’ Hymn 4, in Pindar’s Hymn 1, and Paean 7b M. U. explains that Callimachus, by choosing the rare ‘Asteria’ as ancient name of Delos, underlines her swiftness of a ‘shooting star’ (see her useful gathering of parallels), while distancing himself from Pind. Hymn 1, fr. 33c M., where the gods call her ἄστρον. Here one may wonder if Pindar is really claiming that ‘the gods call her Asteria’, as U. thinks (cf. pp. 132-3 and 144 n. 546): it may be no more than an allusion to the name.7 I would add, moreover, that in Asteria there could also be a paretymologic game with ἀ‐στερεός, ‘not fixed’ (cf. l. 13 ἐνεστήρικται). What seems quite unconvincing is U.’s idea that ll. 316-7 is a ‘second aition’ of the same name, this time derived, as in Pindar, from ἄστρον (pp. 143-5, 272-3).

Ch. 6 (pp. 149-219) deals with Apollo’s birth in the central part of the Hymn (ll. 55-274). It is divided into five sections which are symmetrically disposed around his prophecy about Cos, Ptolemy and his victory over the Gauls (ll. 153-96). This chapter, probably the most interesting in the book, may be held as a valid representation of Callimachus’ “Vorgehensweise” (p. 180). Indeed U. carefully shows how the poet continuously baffles his reader’s expectations distancing himself from his models, especially the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, and adopting ambiguous expressions. This is what happens, for example, when the river Peneius tells Leto “Just call Eilithyia” (l. 132): one is reminded of Hymn. Hom. 3.89 ff., where Hera prevents Eilithyia from helping Leto’s delivery. After this there is no mention of Eilithyia, and we read νύμφα Διὸς βαρύθυμε (l. 215): one may think of Leto in labour (cf. ll. 202 βαρυνομένην and 212 βαρύνεις), yet the poet actually means Zeus’ wife, the raging Hera (pp. 175-80). Then the readers expects to find her final, destructive reaction: once again there is no trace of it, because “Zeus removed her rage” (l. 259), which U. explains as “the thought of Zeus’s debacle with Asteria” (pp. 202-4) Perhaps less convincing is U’s use of “verbal repetitions.” Sometimes they are helpful in organizing the Hymn’s structure, but sometimes their functional weight seems quite weak, as e.g. the assumed “parallel” (p. 174) between Peneius (ll. 129 ff.) and Inopos (ll. 205 ff.) marked by such recalls as ῥοάων (l. 129) and ῥόον (l. 133), Παγγαίου (l. 134) and γαῖα (l. 207).

Ch. 7 (pp. 221-30) describes the metamorphosis of Delos’ negative aspects into positive ones. The island, for example, is not suitable for horses (ll. 11-2), but after Apollo’s birth we understand what this means: Ares’ horses cannot tread upon Delos (l. 224), which is thus free from war and from death.

Ch. 8 (pp. 231-69) deals with Delos’ “Aufwertung” in Callimachus’ Hymn 4. U. demonstrates that Callimachus carries out this reappraisal modifying, or even reversing themes and scenes from the Pythic section of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. Thus the prophecy against Thebes (Del. 90 ff.) recalls Telphusa’s punishment, just as the Delphic Daphnephoria (Del. 177a-82) recalls Apollo’s slaying of the dracaena (Hymn. Hom. 3.356 ff.), at the same time identifying the monster and the Gauls.

The book ends with a recapitulatory chapter (pp. 271-83), a valuable appendix on the (assumed) “‘absence’ of Artemis in Hymn 4,” defending the Mss’ reading ἣν ἐλοχεύσατο Λητώ at the end of the poem (pp. 285-301), and indexes of passages and names (pp. 323-43).

U.’s book is an interesting work, which focuses on Callimachus’ Hymn to Delos within his collection of Hymns. At the same time, it gives us a fresh description of how Callimachus composed this work, choosing (and varying) his models — the Homeric Hymn to Apollo together with Pindar — and balancing past and present, myth and history, allusion and deceit.8


1. Cf. e.g. M. A. Seiler, Ποίησις ποιήσεως. Alexandrinische Dichtung κατὰ λεπτόν in strukturaler und humanethologischer Deutung (Kall. fr. 254-268 C SH; Theokr. 1, 32-54; Theokr. 7; Theokr. 11; ‘Theokr.’ 25 (Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1997) with the review by G. Zanker, ‘Metapoetics, or Leaving the Poetry Behind?,’ CR 49 (1999) 13-5; I. Frings, Das Spiel mit eigenen Texten. Wiederholung und Selbstzitat bei Ovid (München, 2005).

2. On the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (cf. esp. pp. 64-7) U. should have mentioned A. Aloni, L’aedo e i tiranni. Ricerche sull’Inno omerico ad Apollo, Roma 1989.

3. On this topic cf. M. G. Bonanno, ‘L’Artemide bambina di Callimaco (a proposito di intertestualità),’ Lexis 13 (1995) 23-47; D. Fowler, ‘On the Shoulders of Giants: Intertextuality and Classical Studies,’ MD 39 (1997) 13-34. Also A. Sharrock, ‘Intratextuality: Texts, Parts and (W)holes in Theory,’ in Ead. and H. Morales (eds.), Intratextuality. Greek and Roman Textual Relations (Oxford, 2000) 1-39 could have been very useful for a more theoretical definition.

4. After L. Koenen and P. Bing cf. most recently S. Stephens, Seeing Double. Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria (Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, 2003).

5. Cf. R. Pretagostini, ‘L’autore ellenistico fra poesia e ‘filologia’. Problemi di esegesi, di metrica e di attendibilità del racconto’, Aevum(ant) 8 (1995) 33-46, esp. 37-40, and most recently A.-T. Cozzoli, ‘L’Inno a Zeus: fonti e modelli,’ in A. Martina and A.-T. Cozzoli (eds.), Callimachea I (Roma, 2006) 115-36; cf. also R. Hunter and Th. Fuhrer, ‘Imaginary Gods? Poetic Theology in the Hymns of Callimachus,’ in Callimaque. Sept exposés suivis de discussions (Vandoeuvres-Genève, 2002 – Entr. Hardt 48) 143-75 (173-4).

6. On this kind of device cf. I. Rutherford, Pindar’s Paeans. A Reading of the Fragments with a Survey of the Genre (Oxford, 2001) 285 ad loc. U. recalls Ithaka as a model only at p. 228 n. 765.

7. Cf. Call. fr. 18.7 Pf., where well after Apollo’s birth Delos is still called Ortygia: the new name not necessarily replaces the old one. What seems to me most important is that in Callimachus Asteria and Delos are ‘rationalised’ in a progressive development: in Pindar Delos and ἄστρον are contemporaneous names.

8. I give a list of misprints in Greek: ἄοιδοι (l. 249) pp. 20, 195, 258 for ἀοιδοί; αἰανῆς (Pind. Pyth. 1.83) p. 44 n. 221 for αἰανὴς; (l. 255) pp. 177 n. 639, 191, 195, 197, 209 for ; ὤκτισας (l. 107) p. 191 n. 676 for ᾤκτισας; κουρότροφος (l. 276) p. 221 for κουροτρόφος; κλῄζη (l. 276) p. 221 for κλῄζῃ; σπέον (l. 65) pp. 223, 225 for σπέος; αἳ (l. 306) p. 229 for αἱ; καὶ (l. 171) p. 241 for καί; ῥώσονται (l. 175) p. 241, 251 for ῥώσωνται; ἔχ p. 246 for ἐχ; κείθεν (l. 288) p. 254 for κεῖθεν; Σικαῶν (Dian. 57) p. 294 for Σικανῶν; σιωπήλην (l. 302) p. 260 for σιωπηλὴν; ἄψ (l. 103) p. 303 for ἂψ. Furthermore read “Magas” for “Megas” p. 93 n. 408; “Quaestiones” for “Questiones” pp. 36 n. 192, 320; “Callimaco” for “Callimacho” p. 104 n. 433; “Planesiai” for “Planesia” p. 130 n. 504; “criticism” for “critisism” p. 320. My thank to A.-T. Cozzoli for her advice and to M. Bruni for improving my English.