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A Cold Reception in Callimachus' Victoria Berenices (S.H. 257–265)

  • Patricia A. Rosenmeyer (a1)


Callimachus' Victoria Berenices has received a good deal of scholarly attention since its first publication in 1976, both from textual critics, attempting to clarify uncertain readings, and from specialists in Latin poetry, eager to trace allusions to Callimachus in Vergil, Statius, or Ovid. While the search for Callimachean influence on the later texts has proved quite fruitful, it opens up the possibility of reading certain issues inappropriately backwards into the Hellenistic material. The discovery of (limited) parallels may lead to an assumption of complete agreement that misrepresents the earlier, more fragmentary text. I would like to consider one particular incident in the Victoria Berenices that has fallen prey to this fate, namely the reception of Heracles by the farmer Molorcus



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1 The original publication was that of Meillier, C., ‘Callimacque (P.L. 76d, 76abc, 82, 84, 111c)’, CRIPEL 4 (1976), 257360; the text was edited and explained by Parsons, P., ‘Callimachus' Victoria Berenices,’ ZPE 25 (1977), 150; an additional fragment was inserted by Livrea, E., ‘Der Liller Kallimachos und die Mausefallen’, ZPE 34 (1979), 3742. The most accessible text and commentary are now that of Lloyd-Jones, H. and Parsons, P. (eds.), Supplementum Hellenisticum (Berlin and New York, 1983), pp. 100–17, whose text of the ‘Victoria Berenices’ I use throughout this paper. Critical works include the following: Kassel, R., ‘Nachtrag zum neuen Kallimachos’, ZPE 25 (1977), 51; Luppe, W., ‘Zum Anfang des Liller Kallimachos’, ZPE 29 (1978), 36, and Kallimachos fr. 383,10 Pf.’, ZPE 31 (1978), 43–4; Bornmann, F., ‘Zum Siegeslied des Kallimachos auf Berenike, P. Lille 79c III 6’, ZPE 31 (1978), 35, and Nuovi ritrovamenti’, Atene e Roma 23 (1978), 187–8; Livrea, E., ‘Nota al nuovo Callimaco di Lille’, ZPE 32 (1978), 710, and Polittico Callimacheo Contributi al Testo della Victoria Berenices’, ZPE 40 (1980), 21–6, and ‘Callimachi Fragmentum de Muscipulis (177 Pf.)’, in Pintaudi, R. (ed.), Miscellanea Papyrologica (Florence, 1980), pp. 135–40; Barigazzi, A., ‘Callimaco e i cavalli di Berenice (Pap. Lille 82)’, Prometheus 5 (1979), 267–71, and Per la ricostruzione di Callimaco di Lille’, Prometheus 6 (1980), 120; Livrea, E., Carlini, A., Corbato, C. and Bornmann, F., ‘II nuovo Callimaco di Lille’, Maia 32 (1980), 225–53; Thomas, R., ‘Callimachus, the Victoria Berenices, and Roman Poetry’, CQ 33 (1983), 92113, and Proteus and the Sealherd (Callim. SH Frag. 254.6)’, CP 81 (1986), 31; Hollis, A. S., ‘The Composition of Callimachus' Aetia in the Light of P. Oxy. 2258’, CQ 36 (1986), 467–71; Krevans, N., ‘P. Oxy. 2258 B Fr. 2: A Scholion to Callimachus' Victoria Berenices?’, ZPE 65 (1986), 37–8; Meillier, C., ‘Papyrus de Lille, Callimacque, Victoria Berenices (SH 254–258): Eléments de commentaire sur la divinité de Bérénice’, CRIPEL 8 (1986), 83–7; Livrea, E., ‘P. Oxy. 2463: Lykophron and Callimachus’, CQ 39 (1989), 141–7; Rosenmeyer, P. A., ‘The Unexpected Guests: Patterns of Xenia in Callimachus' “Victoria Berenices” and PetroniusSatyricon' CQ 41 (1991), 403–13.

2 In CQ 42 (1992), 533–8, J. D. Morgan argued convincingly that Molorcus is properly spelled without an ‘h’ according to the papyrological evidence, and I have adopted his view in this paper.

3 The quick succession of lifting down and distributing the food argues against the possibility of building a fire, cooking, or other elaborate preparations for the meal.

4 There is a typical Callimachean twist to this conventional phrase: Molorcus has already told us that because of the lion's violence, he is incapable of doing any work at all around the farm. The norm of unyoking oxen at dusk after a productive day's work highlights the unusual circumstances at Cleonae.

5 This section is particularly reminiscent of Athene's complaints about the mice in the pseudo-Homeric Batrachomyomachia. See Pfeiffer, R., Callimachus, 2 vols. (Oxford, 19491953), i. 149.

6 P. Parsons (1977), p. 30.

7 A. S. Hollis (1986), pp. 470–1. His interpretation has been challenged on papyrological grounds by E. Livrea (1989), pp. 141–7, who would keep the sequence reconstructed by Lloyd-Jones and Parsons.

8 J. D. Morgan (n. 2 above) suggests that the character Molorcus was not invented out of whole cloth by Callimachus, as Parsons (1977), p. 43 and Thomas (1983), p. 94 assume ex silentio, but unearthed from an earlier tradition, e.g. a local history of the Argolid.

9 e.g. P. Parsons (1977), pp. 43–4. For a more general discussion of the hospitality theme, see Flückiger-Guggenheim, D., Göttliche Gäste: die Einkehr von Göttern und Heroen in der griechischen Mythologie (Bern, 1984); Herman, G., Ritualised Friendship and the Greek City (Cambridge, 1987); and Hollis, A. S., Callimachus Hecale (Oxford, 1990), pp. 341–54 (= appendix III: The Hospitality Theme). For references to the Hecale in what follows, I have adopted the text and numbering system of Hollis's 1990 edition.

10 A. S. Hollis (1990), p. 344.

11 A. S. Hollis (1990), pp. 344–5, idem, ‘Callimachus fr. 535 Pf.: Another Piece of Hecale?’, ZPE 86 (1991), 14–16.

12 A. S. Hollis (1990), p. 344 notes 26 and 27. It is curious (but not surprising given the fragmentary nature of the material) that the evidence for the promised sacrifice of Hecale comes only from Plutarch (Thes. 14.3), who claims the Atthidographer Philochorus as his source, and the ‘reprieved sacrifice’ of Molorcus is documented solely by ‘Probus’ (on Vergil, , Georgics 3.19), on which see more below. The only mention of a sacrifice in the surviving Callimachean texts is Molorcus' frustrated wish that he could offer Heracles a hot meal (257.23), and Heracles' later suggestion that the farmer should sacrifice to his shade if he does not return (260A.7–13).

13 We may also wish to consider several uncertain fragments in the context of Hecale's reception of Theseus, e.g. fr. 114 with reference to Hecale's fire, and fr. 156 (perhaps also 157) with reference to the vegetables served; for further discussion, see Hollis's (1990) commentary ad loc, pp. 299–300 and 319.

14 The vegetarian nature of her food seems to be supported by Nonnus' allusion to a line in the Hecale in the context of Dionysus' non-meat meal at the home of Brongos (Dion. 17.55). See n. 20 below.

15 R. Pfeiffer (1949–53), i.146.

16 E. Livrea (1979), pp. 38–9.

17 P. Parsons (1977), pp. 19–20 offers further evidence from the scholia (258), tentatively reading ‘the peasants could not gather wood, because of the lion’.

18 On the following, see also P. A. Rosenmeyer (1991), pp. 403–13.

19 Ariston, , AP 6.303, speaks of mice nibbling on cheese and raisins.

20 Scholars have noted that while Nonnus refers explicitly here to Callimachus' Molorcus episode, he also alludes one line later to the description of the rustic meal in the Hecale. Compare Dion. 17.55: εἰν ⋯λ⋯ νηϰομ⋯νης ϕθινοπωρ⋯δος ἄνθος ⋯λα⋯ης with Hec. 36.5: elv εἰν ν⋯ϰεσθαι ϕθινοπωρ⋯δα. Hollis (1990), p. 344 n. 24, states that ‘the fact that Dion. 17.55 seems to echo Hec. fr. 36.5 may merely indicate that the two models (Molorcus and Hecale) were very close to each other’. See also R. Thomas (1983), p. 104 n. 68.

21 Servius, , ed. Thilo-Hagen, III.ii. 376.

22 Myth. Gr., ed. Wagner, , i.72 and 250.

23 On other details of this scene, see Gamel, M.-K., ‘Baucis and Philemon: Paradigm or Paradox?’, Helios 11 (1984), 117–31.

24 I am very grateful to A. S. Hollis, J. O'Hara, and J. E. G. Zetzel for helpful criticisms of an earlier draft of this paper.

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A Cold Reception in Callimachus' Victoria Berenices (S.H. 257–265)

  • Patricia A. Rosenmeyer (a1)


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