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Propertius and ‘Coan Philitas’

  • Archibald Allen (a1)

This is our well received text of Propertius' celebrated address to the shades of Callimachus and Philitas at 3.1.1–2:

Callimachi Manes et Coi sacra Philitae,

in vestrum, quaeso, me sinite ire nemus.

Well received it may be, but scholarly worries and disagreements about the precise meaning of sacra, and indeed about the real purpose of the address, perhaps have diverted editors' eyes from a possible corruption. I would like to suggest that the pairing of ethnic adjective and personal name, Coi and Philitae, in line 1 may not be Propertian.

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1 Let me thank Heyworth, S. J. for helpful criticism of an earlier draft of this note.

2 On antonomasia in Latin poetry, and its precedents in Greek poetry, see Farrell, J., Vergil's Georgics and the Traditions of Ancient Epic (Oxford, 1991), 27ff.

3 Wimmel, W., ‘Philitas im Aitienprolog des Kallimachos’, Hermes 86 (1958), 346–54, at 352.Edwards, W. M., CQ 23 (1930), 110, first thought of it.

4 See Pfeiffer's notes ad loc, including his observation that ‘Ovidius semper Coumpoetam sine nomine proprio significat’. And on the likelihood that Prop. 2.1.5–6 (‘sive illam Cois fulgentem incedere… / totum de Coa veste volumen erit’) is indebted to this Callimachean comparison, seeHeyworth, S. J., CQ 36 (1986), 209.

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The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
  • URL: /core/journals/classical-quarterly
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