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Literary politics and the Euripidean Vita

  • Johanna Hanink (a1)

Extract

The earliest surviving poetic representation of Euripides, outside of comedy, appears in a piece of early third-century Alexandrian poetry and the picture it paints of the Athenian tragedian is in some ways a surprising one. In his ‘Catalogue of loves’, a terribly corrupt fragment from the third book of the Leontion, Hermesianax of Colophon introduces his lines on Euripides' doomed romantic infatuation with the affirmation that ‘even he’ (ϰἀϰεîνον), that notorious hater of women, was once ‘struck by the crooked bow’. Night did not relieve his suffering,

      ἀλλὰ Μαϰηδονίων πάσας ϰατενίσατο λαύρας
      Αἰγάων μεθέπων Ἀρχέλεω ταμίην, 66
      εἰσόϰε <δὴ> δαίμων Εὐριπίδῃ εὕρετ᾿ ὄλεθρον
      Ἀρριβίου στυγνῶν ἀντιάσαντι ϰυνῶν. (7.65–8)

      66 Αἰγάων Bergk: αἰγιεων A

      Rather he went down all the alleyways of Macedonian Aegae
      in pursuit of the housemaid of Archelaus,
      until a daemon found death for Euripides
      when he came across the hated hounds of Arribius.

While one of the themes Hermesianax' catalogue foregrounds is how lovesick poets of the past left home to pursue their beloveds abroad, the lines on Euripides are remarkable for their elision of this poet's native Attica.

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